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Crannog "Slainte" (Ireland, west of the Shannon)

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Crash Bed - Blue
Crash Bed - Blue

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is no toy, but a serious camp bed for crashing-out at speed!, 2 Aug 2007
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Crash Bed - Blue (Toy)
I don't know why this item has found its way into Toys and Games section, as it is a serious product for out-of-doors sleeping or crashing-out anywhere, anytime.

It is neatly packed in its own sleeve, and springs open in seconds when you remove it. It is 180 cm long and can take 17 stone weight without complaint. It is comfortable without a mattress though no doubt would be more comfortable with one below the sleeper.

When finished with, the bed folds up and can be tidied away in its sleeve, ready for the next occasion it is needed.

In summary, I'd regard this as the best emergency bed I've seen anywhere, and ideal kit for family holidays.

The Pope's Children
The Pope's Children
by David McWilliams
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Racing Tiger, 4 Aug 2006
This review is from: The Pope's Children (Hardcover)
This is probably the most entertaining economic tract ever written, only an Irish economist could do it. He takes the piss out of the national predilection for pessimism, by the journalistic establishment whom he labels the commentariat. Their refusal to be cheerful flies in the face of the evidence of a simultaneous social revolution and economic miracle, and he pillories them in a hilariously readable way. Do not fail to buy this book, even though Amazon are quoting a 4-week delivery period at the time of writing. But do not think of reading it in the train, as your fellow passengers will probably send for the men in white coats to take you away while helpless with laughter. Only in Ireland or Italy does one get away with loud laughter in a public place

Killing Helen
Killing Helen
by Sarah Challis
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant debut, 22 July 2006
This review is from: Killing Helen (Hardcover)
This is a light-hearted first novel, the plot of which develops a sinister aspiration and nearly ends in tragedy. Robert, sophisticated and suave, also a serial middle-aged adulterer, falls in with Harriet, early-thirties teacher of music and ready for a morsel of excitement and romance, having tired of younger and less successful men.
He sees it as good for both of them, on terms of pleasure both given and received, affection without commitment. She sees it as an opportunity to make him happy, free of the eponymous Helen, Scottish, redheaded and mean, a mistress of long standing, and released from his sterile marriage to Mary.
There is yet another lady, besotted with Robert and determined that neither Helen nor his latest mistress will succeed in owning him. There is also a ghostly presence in the west country cottage where Harriet is based, between her visits to London for more sophisticated pursuits.
Death and destruction almost happen, together with a definite come-uppance and a clearing of the air all round. The ghostly presence makes her own contribution.

In this, her first novel, Challis shows her skill in creating a complex but believable plot, sympathetic if flawed characters and a situation in which you could imagine yourself participating, given the opportunity.

Footprints in the Sand
Footprints in the Sand
by Sarah Challis
Edition: Hardcover

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Challis yet !, 22 July 2006
This review is from: Footprints in the Sand (Hardcover)
I have become an unlikely fan of the Sarah Challis book list. She seems to this mere male to write much more believable, readable novels than the average holiday read. Each one is a veritable page-turner and this is the best yet.

Camilla - Clemmie - and Emily Kingsley are twenty-something cousins. They find at their great-aunt's funeral in the English west country that the provisions of her will present them with a modest legacy, conditional on their taking up an unusual challenge. This involves travelling to Mali, a country of which neither of them has heard before, with their aunt's ashes, where they are to be scattered in a certain remote place, far from civilisation as they have experienced it to date. Clemmie is enchanted at the prospect, Emily cynical and unwilling to participate, except to escape from a broken love affair. This counterpoint of attitude persists throughout the novel.

The story is told by Clemmie and Emily in separate chapters alternating with commentary from the elderly Beryl Timmis, who has been their great-aunt's paid companion in recent years.

There is a dark side to the story, supplied in Beryl's history of events which took place fifty years earlier, of which - at the time of the novel's setting - she has clear memories which serve to rack her conscience with guilt and a desire for forgiveness.

Romance happens, perhaps inevitably, and the last quarter of the story is packed with surprises both welcome and sinister.

Challis' gift for storytelling is supreme in this book. Descriptions of desert life, the events encountered by the travellers, the surprising outcomes, all are delicately and realistically drawn. There is a feeling that the author has left a part of herself in the desert country she describes with such skill and sympathy.

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