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Kojaks Lolly "Kojak" (North Shields)

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Holme Steam Mop HSM2001
Holme Steam Mop HSM2001
Offered by Design&Trade
Price: 29.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Decent idea poorly executed, 28 April 2012
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This review is from: Holme Steam Mop HSM2001
First things first - do not use this on laminate flooring unless your floor has been sealed (extremely unlikely). I work in flooring and we are beginning to see complaints from people who have been using these to clean laminate floors and as a result have been damaging them. Quickstep are the brand leader in laminate flooring and they now expressly advise against using steam mops on their laminates.

I used this mop for around three months before it blew up on me. It is very poorly constructed and the power cable is extremely flimsy and is prone to work itself loose and in my opinion I think the product is borderline dangerous to use.

Aside from that it just feels cheap and I doubt it'll last many people a year. It doesn't clean deeply at all and you'll still need to tackle stubborn marks in another way. It worked pretty well on my ceramic tiles, quite poorly on the laminate I've used it on and passably on cushion floor/lino. Sometimes my mop would just seem to let out water onto the floor and I'd need to dry it by hand - no idea why this would happen from time to time, but it never worked well for me.

I'm just glad I didn't order any extra cleaning pads and waste even more money. It's back to a mop and bucket for me I'm afraid.


I'm Rivelino - A life of two halves. (Working Class Sport)
I'm Rivelino - A life of two halves. (Working Class Sport)
Price: 1.54

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Authentic VoIce, 7 Dec 2011
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There were times during my reading of Andy Rivers' book when I felt I was reading my own diary from years gone by. We're the same age, attended a lot of the same matches, share similar views on the club and even our first Newcastle match appears to have been the very same game.

As the author gave a description of many of the places he saw growing up, I realised that I'd trodden the very same fields, been served by the same shop owner and been in and around the same pubs - slightly spooky at times. I half expected to see some names of people I knew cropping up before long.

I did enjoy reading this book as it indulged my passion for Newcastle United and gave plenty of coverage to the pre-Sky TV days of football (yes it did exist before Sky, they didn't actually invent the game!). Almost every chapter was devoted to selected games throughout the author's supporting history and he chose a nice cross-section and not just the glorious victories by any means.

The book's strength lies not in its description of the actual games themselves but in his experiences as a fan. I preferred his descriptions of his adventures before and after than his descriptions of during the game. I'd like to have seen him expand on these and somehow link the chapters, but perhaps that's asking too much. Indeed one of the most interesting parts of the book details his life working as a coach holiday rep - he certainly expresses himself very crisply and clearly and whilst you could not really say that the book is a literary marvel, it is fairly well written and his conversational style suits it very well.

His perfect articulation of the utter apathy that followed the initial dejection of Souness' tenure is there or thereabouts the most concise verdict on those dark, dark days. His take on Keegan is well observed and not diminshed by rose-tinted glasses or the modern Newcastle fan's dismissiveness.

I think one of the main dangers of a book like this is that they can sometimes descend into little more than a very very long post on a message board by somebody who loves the sound of their own voice, but Rivers avoids that with an amiable and varied flow speckled with humour and dry wit.

I would recommend it to Newcastle fans, though I'm not sure fans of other clubs will quite fully understand some of the subtler aspects of a perennially disappointed supporter of Newcastle United. I would however recommend it to those who accuse Newcastle fans of being delusional idiots who simply do not understand their 'rightful' place, so that'll be a lot of orders coming up from journalists and pundits then, won't it?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 1, 2012 8:37 AM BST


A to Z (Boynton Board Books (Simon & Schuster))
A to Z (Boynton Board Books (Simon & Schuster))
by Sandra Boynton
Edition: Board book
Price: 3.58

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Different book?, 19 July 2011
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I wish I hadn't ordered this without having Amazon's usual excellent 'look inside' sneak preview. I thought I would take a chance based on the good reviews and the fact that it's cheap and cheerful. What a waste of money.

I'm totally unimpressed with the illustrations as is my 20 month old daughter who has just thrown it to the floor. I was expecting some colourful illustrations and at the very least one page per letter, but we don't even get that with this book. It's mostly two bland illustrations per page with some strange choices for animals. I actually don't know what a 'Vicuna' is but it is 'violinning' in this book. Also 'Nightingales Nesting' ?!

My daughter has perhaps been spoiled by the exceptionally good Roger Priddy books, but in all honesty this is a very poor substitute. Call me a cynic if you like but this just looks like it was dashed off quickly in an afternoon!


Berlitz: Zakynthos & Kefalonia Pocket Guide (Berlitz Pocket Guides)
Berlitz: Zakynthos & Kefalonia Pocket Guide (Berlitz Pocket Guides)
by Maria Lord
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing And Poorly Observed, 16 May 2011
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We bought this to give us an overview of Zakynthos before a package holiday there recently. We wanted some snippets of information on towns and places of interest, maps and so forth but this book fell well short I'm afraid.

Perhaps the Kefalonia section is better done, but the Zakynthos section is just well wide of the mark and my own observations. The most annoying aspect of this book is its downright condescending and snooty attitude to most, if not all, of the package resorts. I'm sorry, but they don't tally with most of what I saw. Bearing in mind that the vast majority of people going here go on packages I think they really missed their audience. The author dismisses the likes of Tsilivi with comtempt and some of the resort towns deserve better. There is more to them than rowdiness and drunken British tourists if you use your eyes. To smear them all and look down on those who go there is disrespectful and inaccurate. We don't all sit around the pool and get as drunk as possible you know.

If this passes Berlitz's quality control then I will certainly never buy another of their travel 'guides'.


Hot Potatoes! The Wiggles - The Best Of The Wiggles [DVD] [2009]
Hot Potatoes! The Wiggles - The Best Of The Wiggles [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ The Wiggles
Price: 4.87

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All The Hits, 28 Nov 2010
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My wife and I first bought this for our daughter after she'd caught The Wiggles TV show on Nick Jr and was immediately entranced by it when she was around 7 months old. I'd never thought that this would appeal to such a young child, but it leaves her absolutely enthralled.

People will often tell you that too much TV is a negative influence on your child and watching and dancing along to this with your child (advert free!) is a great way to spend some quality time with them. Used in the right way, I am convinced that material like this is a really effective tool in development.

This is the DVD to buy to start off your Wiggles collection. My daughter is now a year old and knows and loves the whole DVD - she even joins in the dances. This DVD really does contain some excellent videos and really catchy songs. They are a really positive influence on our daughter and we teach her dances and hand movements as she joins in. She claps, rubs her tummy and mimes eating along with the boys on screen.

The Wiggles just seem genuinely nice blokes and genuinely committed to making music and learning fun for kids - they do it brilliantly. I never thought I would be listening to stuff like this and smiling when I was younger I can tell you and before I had kids I probably would never have understood how The Wiggles were so popular.

I have to say how impressed I am with the quality of the tunes. The musical styles are all over the place - from traditional folk and country songs like 'Here Comes The Chicken' and 'Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport' (With Rolf!) right through to ska with Kylie Minogue(?!) doing 'Monkey Man' and disco with 'You Make Me Feel Like Dancing' (with Leo Sayer) and the wonderful 'Do The Owl'. The classic Wiggles tracks like "Big Red Car', 'Hot Potato' and 'Fruit Salad' are all here too and they really are a delight.

Even the biggest misery guts in the world could not tap their feet and smile at their child's reaction to this DVD - it's an instant hit and I absolutely recommend it.


Blue Day
Blue Day
Price: 12.80

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Voice, Awful Songs, 10 Nov 2010
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This review is from: Blue Day (Audio CD)
I was really looking forward to someting new from the great and seriously underrated Howard Tate, but this is such a let down.

The problem is just the quality of the songs. They just are not good enough and do not do justice to a man who has one of the greatest soul voices of all time. Nothing stands out, nothing hits anywhwere near the mark. So many people are not familiar with Howard, but he really needs to get some top writers working with him or else simply stick out an album of covers.

The blurb on Amazon spoke of a 'killer backing band' and 'superb songwriting' but this is never true in a million years. They may be competent musicians, but the album is not well produced and the songs sound leaden and just plod along. Perhaps Howard needs something similar to what Solomon Burke had with top writers writing for him (on Don't Give Up On Me) - Van Morrison, Elvis Costello etc. Even a Rick Rubin to work on some old songs a la Johnny Cash would be wonderful. We can live in hope.


A View From The Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin
A View From The Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin
by Chris Mullin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Frank, Eye-Opening Account, 10 Nov 2010
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By the time I'd finished this diary of Chris Mullin's, I had decided that I didn't much like the man. He comes across as awkward and difficult as well as curmudgeonly and a little out of time. Of course this is an attraction in some ways, as Mullin gives, if not a 'warts and all' account, then at least one in which he pulls no punches and includes much that will open your eyes to the workings of government and life as a junior minister.

Initially, Mullin is torn as to whether or not to accept a fairly minor position in Blair's government and somewhat against his better judgement he accepts and then proceeds to regret it almost every day. He is not sufficiently influential or involved and feels like a spare part and he doesn't like that one bit. Mullin, though, hardly helps himself - coming across as being a nightmare to work alongside. He refuses to carry a pager or mobile and steadfastly refuses to work weekends in any way. He's hardly a team player and his colleagues resent him for it. At this juncture, you see the tensions between ministers and senior civil servants coming to the fore and that aspect is very informative and rather worrying. The senior civil servants seem to have far too much influence - of course anyone who watched 'Yes Minister' years ago will know a fair bit about that already!

He documents his position within 'New' Labour clearly and we learn that he is not really a Blairite or a Brownite, although he clearly does not like Brown - correctly predicting that the electorate would dislike him too if he becomes Labour leader. He has a love/hate relationship with Blair, where Blair frequently seems to redeem himself when their relationship seems lost. In the end of course, Blair sacks him, but that's hardly a surprise given Mullin's personality and intransigence - not to mention that fact that he voted against Blair over the war in Iraq.

Mullin's opinions on his colleagues and opponents is most enlightening. He does not like John Prescott one bit when he begins working under him, but in the end he seems to conclude that Prescott is in fact a decent and capable man - although impossible to work for at times. He also recognises the potential of a young Tory named David Cameron, who merits several mentions throughout the diary. Jack Straw also comes out of this as a fundamentally decent man, whereas he lays into the odious Theresa May, though you do get the feeling that his likes or dislikes are not purely across party lines. He has people he likes and hates across the political spectrum.

I had been made aware before I read this that Mullin was something of an old-school left winger, but I don't see that in a lot of his views. He seems to hold his constituents in Sunderland in contempt for the most part. Referring to his exasperation with 'feral youths' and crime ridden estates and slates the working and sub-working classes for moaning about their lot. I found this a little harsh on his part and it doesn't do him any favours. He prefers to sympathise with teachers for some reason.

There is one passage that really puzzled me and that is a Christmas Day as he watches his daughters open their presents and it makes him sad. A moment that might make most parents' hearts soar leaves him feeling down as he watches them pile up possessions - a bizarre viewpoint and one with which I cannot empathise in the least. I know what he is getting at, but to be unable to take pleasure in that moment made me wonder about the man.

Aside from that, his portraits of various African leaders is very entertaining and colourful and his frustration in only having a blurry snapshot to show for his meeting with Nelson Mandela is funny to read. Mullin is happier in his African job and it comes across in the diary.

Another point of interest is to why he defied Blair and voted against the war in Iraq - he seemed to flip from one side to the other and ultimately vote the way that would upset fewest people, rather than vote with his heart. He does seem to lack spine at times, though perhaps I am being harsh.

In conclusion then, I liked the diary, but I didn't like the man.


Wake Up The Nation
Wake Up The Nation
Price: 5.99

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Weller Album For A Good While, 24 April 2010
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This review is from: Wake Up The Nation (Audio CD)
For far too long, in my opinion, Paul Weller was treading water. From 'Heavy Soul' on, the sparkle was disappearing slowly from his work. 'Heliocentric', 'Illumination' and 'As Is Now' all meandered from the occasional wonderful riff or 2 or 3 barnstorming tracks, only to be dragged down by what I thought at the time were fillers. I yearned for Paul Weller to begin to experiment once more and ditch the 'formula' he'd been using.

Finally, with his previous album '22 Dreams' he showed signs of re-igniting the fire and finding the torch. Although that album sprawled and lacked a little focus, it did show some wonderful moments and at the very least, it showed that Weller still could surprise us and challenge us. One of the main criticisms he has had to take from people who 'don't get Weller' has always been that he is derivative, unoriginal and bland. '22 Dreams' refuted that and 'Wake Up The Nation' buries the notion once and for all. Mind you, if you always hated him, this won't change your mind, but if you listen with an open mind, then you might like it.

My one issue with this album is that it begins with, I think, one of the weaker tracks in 'Moonshine'. It's an up tempo 'welcome mat' of a song, but it isn't indicative of what's to come at all. With the title track 'Wake up the Nation', Paul makes his point in typical Weller fashion. It's his wake up call, the way he does 'politics' these days I guess - close your laptop, enjoy your life in real time and wake up. It's catchy, stompy, short and sharp and I love it.

He then immedaitely jumps off at a tangent to 'No Tears to Cry', which is a lovely Motown-esque, bass driven catchy song with a lovely hook. It was a double a-side single with 'Wake up the Nation' but received precious little airplay sadly.

Former Jam bassist. Bruce Foxton appears on 'Fast Car/Slow Traffic' which is another short, sharp song with a wonderful and typically Foxton bassline. It is very reminiscent of The Jam and it was certainly uplifting to me when I heard it. It's almost 1978 again with this one and let's face it, this is as near as you'll ever get to a 'new' Jam song, so enjoy it.

Standout tracks are aplenty elsewhere on this album though. 'Find the Torch, Burn the Plans', in spite of its weird title, is a cracking singalong song that drips with hope, camaraderie and passion. 'Aim High' sees Weller go falsetto for the first time in a while and he pulls it off. It's a wonderful track and very much what The Style Council were trying to do, but never quite pulled off 100%. This one has it all, funky guitar, lovely strings and jazzy Gil Evans style arrangement.

'Trees' is unlike any other song I know. It's like a five part story told from the point of view of those he saw when he visited his ailing father in a care home before he passed away. It's original, off kilter, intriguing and it takes you to places that you probably never thought you would see Paul Weller go. This is as good a track as he has written in his career I would say.

'Grasp and Still Connect' will almost certainly go on to become a live favourite (hopefully even the people who only own the Greatest Hits and infest his gigs nowadays will love it) and '7&3 is the Striker's Name' is an angry, feisty rant with a cracking arragement and here I must compliment Simon Dine's contribution on this album. I think he has helped to reinvigorate Weller.

If you like Weller to take some chances, surprise you and you don't give a toss what anyone else thinks of him, then buy it and I don't think you will be disappointed. This album really ought to win some awards.


No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Cute Gift Without Breaking the Bank, 2 Feb 2010
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I bought this as a gift for my wife who is very much a cat person.

I wanted something that was simple, stylish, well made and slightly 'different. I liked the look of the cat design on these wallets so I went ahead and ordered one and I must say that I was very happy with the real thing.

My wife seems to like it a lot and it has a lot of storage space for cards, coins and notes without being bulky at all. It's neat, nifty and stylish and does not look cheap and nasty, which is often the worry when buying things like this online.


Fable II (Xbox 360)
Fable II (Xbox 360)
Offered by OnlineshopbaseLtd
Price: 6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Enjoyable (at least for a rookie), 2 Feb 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Fable II (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
I'm writing this review as someone who is in no way a 'hardcore' gamer. I dabble in playing video games and only recently acquired an XBOX 360, so I'm aiming this review at people like me, who do not live and breathe video games. I'd recommend this game for those of you who want a game where not everything is 100 miles an hour and prefer a game with a little more subtlety.

Visually this game is quite breathtakingly beautiful. I really love the sheer size and complexity of the terrain and the villages and towns do seem to me to be authentic and in keeping with the spirit of the game. I also enjoyed the 'Englishness' of the cast and the acting is very well done indeed - there's not a lot cheesey or cringeworthy in this game and that's one of the main problems I have with a lot of best-selling games, the voiceover work is so terrible and trite it's a wonder the actors are ever paid for their 'work'. Well, Fable II very definitely blows the competition out of the water in that regard.

I like the idea of having a dog as a faithful friend and he's loyal, faithful, brave and very handy. You can also marry and have kids and even sleep with both male and female prostitutes should you wish to! Having said that, there is nothing overly eexplicit or upsetting about the game I wouldn't have any qualms about teenagers playing it.

The story is interesting and engaging and the plot allows you plenty of scope to roam freely throughout the land, your dog at your side and the wind in your hair. Bear in mind that if you just sprint through this game at breakneck speed and play in robot mode then you are failing to get the best from it. Take your time, savour all it has to offer and enjoy it for what it is - a wonderfully told story, well thought out, well constructed and beautifully imagined on the XBOX 360.

Fable III should be incredible.


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