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Steve (Leeds)
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The Lakes : Complete Series 1 & 2 [DVD]
The Lakes : Complete Series 1 & 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Simm
Price: £11.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lakes Series 1 and 2 John Simm, 7 Nov. 2013
This is an excellent, adult, BBC drama as other reviewers have said. It is fascinating to see a young John Simm (Life On Mars) in a very different role.

But my point is the current Amazon price. A tenner! I paid about £25 for the set when it first appeared and don't regret that.

It's top quality adult drama.

Just note that this is not a travelogue on the Lake District. It has an 18 certificate for good reasons.


Braun CruZer5 Clean Shave Electric Foil Shaver
Braun CruZer5 Clean Shave Electric Foil Shaver
Offered by Ozaroo UK
Price: £39.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Braun Cruz 5 Rechageable Foil Shaver, 3 Nov. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There is still a lot of disagreement about whether foil or rotating heads make the best shaver. A consumer magazine came out firmly in favour of the latter, but I disagree. It simply depends on the individual. For me, foil shavers give a better result, and Braun make the best ones. This shaver is simple and gives an effective shave. Somehow I get cuts even using electric shavers and this was no exception. But it is a good basic shaver, the charge is still holding after 10 days use, and it actually feels well made. It's also ergonomically well designed, feeling 'right' in the hand.

The charging cord is short, and I find it disappointing that no carry case is provided. This is mean of Braun. I wouldn't pay full price for this shaver, but it does give a more than acceptable quality shave, and, being Braun, I would expect it to last.

Change the foil every 18 months though. From past experience, they suddenly snap.


Just A Minute: The Best Of 2013
Just A Minute: The Best Of 2013
by Ian Messiter
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £13.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Just a Minute Best of 2013, 31 Oct. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
At the heart of Just a Minute is Nicholas Parsons. I defy anyone listening to these CDs to realise he was 89 at the time of the recordings. His sense of humour, intelligence, and good nature come across as strongly as ever. After nearly 46 years of hosting the show. Incredible.

In truth, the first three three of these four broadcasts, although fine, are not to the very highest standards of the programme. But the final broadcast is something. The panel is Paul Merton, Richard Herring, Gyles Brandreth and Russell Kane. Brandreth is on absolutely top form here; there is a running gag about his taking a liking to Russell Kane. Kane himself joins in and plays along with the humour. Also Brandreth has another running gag about a character called 'Jum-Ping' in London. It is extremely funny, and the whole panel seem to rise to his level. Excellent. We are almost back to the days of the classic line-up of Freud, Williams, Nimmo and Peter Jones, where winning wasn't as important as entertaining the listener.

A definite recommendation for this set.


Fry's English Delight 6 (BBC Audio)
Fry's English Delight 6 (BBC Audio)
by Stephen Fry
Edition: Audio CD

4.0 out of 5 stars Fry's English Delight 6, 2 Oct. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I found this to be a mixed bag. Fry is always entertaining and erudite. And amusing. But I found the first of these four programmes, 'Rhetoric', heavy going. Like being lectured to by a Professor of Linguistics. Which I suppose it was. The next subject was spelling, and this was fascinating. The English language is one of the most difficult to learn partly because of the way the same sounds can be spelt quite differently, and the same spellings of phonemes pronounced equally differently (e.g. 'ough' in thought; cough; through). 'Words Without End' dealt with the continuing expansion of the English vocabulary (with an amusing excerpt of Blackadder to entertain us). The final subject is the word 'F***'. Yes, Fry is never afraid to approach a potentially difficult subject, and the possible origins, and varied usage of this word over many centuries is explored, with help from academics, Geoffrey Robertson QC, and Kathy Burke.

Overall, an interesting listen; not one just for background listening.


BBC Legends
BBC Legends
Price: £54.99

50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Luxurious presentation ???, 1 Oct. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: BBC Legends (Audio CD)
The five stars is for these performances, which includes Horenstein's legendary Mahler 8 from the Royal Albert Hall (still my number one choice, despite its faults, in superbly spacious 1959 stereo), Mravinsky's Shostakovich 8 from the Festival Hall with the Leningrad Phil., Markevitch in Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Stravinsky, and Oistrakh in the Tchaikovsky and Brahms violin concertos.

These CDs work out at about £2-50 each, which is excellent value. The Horenstein Mahler has been unavailable for some time and was selling for silly prices.

But I take issue with ICA's description of this release...'complete with luxurious presentation box and full track listing, recording information etc.'

This led me to expect a substantial booklet, for which there is plenty of space in the box. What you actually get is a basic cardboard box, and the 20 CDs in cardboard envelopes. True, they do print track and recording details on the back of each cardboard sleeve, but is that really 'luxurious' presentation?. Surely ICA could have supplied some notes on the artists and works. There is nothing.

Still, excellent value and a must even if you want only a few of these recordings. But don't expect the truly luxurious presentation of the recent Mercury, Decca Sound and Decca Britten boxes.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 13, 2013 5:48 AM GMT


John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: The Complete Series 2
John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: The Complete Series 2
by John Finnemore
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £16.34

4.0 out of 5 stars John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme Series 2, 30 Sept. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was none too impressed by the first series of this comedy sketch show. This second series, like the first six programmes, on three CDs, did amuse me a little more. The problem is, as I said in my earlier review, most of us know Finnemore from Cabin Pressure, which is consistently funny and benefits (greatly) from having Roger Allam and Benedict Cumberbatch. Finnemore's Souvenir Programme is largely just Finnemore himself; some very short sketches, and some much longer, and, to my ears, more successful. There is no doubting that Finnemore is a talented writer and one must give credit for this. My favourites that stick in my mind are the send-up of The Archers (again). Fans of that show may find it quite cruel. I laughed out loud. Also the fish sketch. A little surreal. If Finnemore keeps improving then the very difficult task of writing and fronting a comedy sketch show will earn him five stars.

Not there yet though.


Mahler: Symphony 8, Horenstein in conversation
Mahler: Symphony 8, Horenstein in conversation

5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 11 Sept. 2013
If ever there was a place in which to perform Mahler's 8th. Symphony, with its huge forces, it's the Royal Albert Hall. This work needs space to expand into; anyone who's experienced a Mahler 8 at the R.A.H. will never forget it.

And what an occasion this concert, caught live by BBC Radio in 1959, must have been. The sleeve notes reveal how this performance of one of the most expensive symphonies to perform, came about. Basically, there was a surplus in the BBC Music accounts that year and it had to be spent before the end of the financial year. The result was the engagement of the London Symphony Orchestra, extra orchestral musicians, eight soloists, six (!) choirs and an organist. Not to mention the great Jascha Horenstein who somehow had to control the whole lot.

We are very lucky that the original tapes survived; this was in fact an experimental BBC stereo recording at a time when stereo radio just didn't exist. And what a magnificent recording! It captures all the forces without too much compression, and the glorious R.A.H. acoustic which lends depth to the sound. In fact, I don't believe Mahler 8 has ever been captured better since. Recordings now tend to be multi-miked, and close balanced, losing that very sense of space this work cries out for.

As to the performance; well, in 1959 there wasn't much experience in performing Mahler in the U.K. There are some hesitant entries, a few fluffed notes, and the performance takes time to build up. But my God, what climaxes it builds up to! I use the very end of the symphony, when everything, including the Albert Hall organ, is playing flat out, as a demonstration piece. The floorboards shake. The audience then burst into the most dramatic burst of appreciation (applause isn't enough) you are likely to hear. Yet Horenstein doesn't overplay the work; it all emerges out of his Mahlerian bones, so to speak.

This is one of my Desert Island Discs; even if you have, say, the famous Solti recording, you need to hear this, a performance live in the truest sense.


Martin Beck: Murder at the Savoy (Martin Beck Mysteries)
Martin Beck: Murder at the Savoy (Martin Beck Mysteries)
by Maj Sjowall
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £9.25

3.0 out of 5 stars Martin Beck- Murder at the Savoy, 29 Aug. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a single CD of a full-cast dramatization of a Swedish detective story. I haven't read the book it is based on so can't compare it with that. The production values are very good, as you would expect from the BBC, although strangely I found it very difficult to find a comfortable listening level; it was either too loud or too soft. Anyway, the story itself is along the lines of the Wallander stories, largely atmosphere, little action or plot development. Swedish existential detective work I suppose. It held my attention for the 55 minutes but I would have preferred more plot, and indeed a longer drama. You won't see how the story is going to end, suffice it to say that this was one murder victim who won't be mourned. Worth a listen, but I can't work up any more enthusiasm.


John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: The Complete Series 1
John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: The Complete Series 1
by John Finnemore
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £13.25

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme Series 1, 26 Aug. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Most people will know of John Finnemore as the writer of 'Cabin Pressure' and playing the part of the the idiotic, if likeable, cabin attendant Arthur in that series. This is very much in the same line of humour, except that it is of course largely Finnemore. That makes a significant difference, as much of the humour of Cabin Pressure arose from the interplay between the characters played by Roger Allam and Benedict Cumberbatch. In 'Souvenir Programme' it's largely Finnemore himself, with relatively minor contributions from others.

The sketches are largely of schoolboy-level humour; the CD case quotes a review from The Guardian describing this as 'One of the most consistently funny sketch shows for quite some time'. I'm afraid that doesn't say much for current sketch shows.

There were a couple of items that I found genuinely funny, including a satirical sketch on The Archers, with its terrible writing and even worse acting; and a séance sketch where the medium and the person on 'the other side' really don't get on.

But humour is a very personal thing; you may find the whole thing very funny indeed, which the audience clearly did.


VANGUARD Alta Pro 263AGH Aluminium Tripod with GH-100 Pistol Grip Ball Head
VANGUARD Alta Pro 263AGH Aluminium Tripod with GH-100 Pistol Grip Ball Head
Offered by Carmarthen Cameras
Price: £139.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vanguard Alto Pro 263AGH Tripod, 25 Aug. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a very solidly constructed piece of equipment. The feel of it exudes quality, and one would expect this to last a long time in the field (unlike so much stuff today). And it's not too heavy; one could carry this easily over the shoulder or in a rucksack, say.

If you haven't used a tripod before I would strongly recommend that you read the two instruction leaflets that come with it (one for the tripod itself, the other for the pistol grip head) before use. On my first attempt, I just could not find out where the leg angle adjusting 'button' was. No way. In fact, the 'button'(s) are placed at the top left-hand side of each leg. I didn't think the instructions made that clear; maybe it was just me.

Once I'd worked out all the adjustments possible with this tripod, everything worked fine, although I did have one reservation (see below). You can adjust the leg length and angle, the height of the central column, swivel the column over to take all sorts of crazy-angled shots, just like the item description says. The feet are rubber and are spiked for firmness, and there are two spirit levels, although one is out of sight most of the time under your camera.

The grip head attaches and removes easily, once you have worked out the release system. Fixing one's camera to the head is a doddle. The pistol grip is new to me and this is where my one reservation applies. For setting up a static shot it's fine. But for panning (let's say following a moving train) it is a little on the tight side for me. There is a knob to increase/decrease friction in the ball head, but even on minimum friction I found it a little difficult to get a really smooth panning motion for video. But for still shots it's fine.

Included with the tripod/ball head is a useful carry bag.

Overall I would recommend this as a very well built tripod, with the one reservation I have mentioned.


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