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Andrew Howell "andyhowell3" (Birmingham, UK)

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Mauviel copper 24cm Saute Pan 3L
Mauviel copper 24cm Saute Pan 3L
Offered by The Tech Savvy
Price: £185.00

5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great pan which I use for almost everything, 4 Oct. 2015
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This is a great pan which I use for almost everything. This is made using the thicker copper layer which makes a difference for a saute pan. The cast iron handle works well and for most uses is easily handlable!

Blair Inc.: The Man Behind the Mask
Blair Inc.: The Man Behind the Mask
by Francis Beckett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I think this is a very interesting — although pretty depressing — book, 9 Jun. 2015
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I think this is a very interesting — although pretty depressing — book.

I appreciate that the secrecy around Blair makes it very difficult to flesh out detail but don't let that put you off. There is more than enough detail here for the book to be an interesting and informative read. It was fascinating to see just what it is the Blair is flogging to different governments. There is a tendency for a lot of people to think that Blair is becoming history but this book suggests that he model of out sourcing political intelligence might make him even more eventual in the future.

The blurring of lines between all of thee activities, the engagement with wealthy dictators or authoritarian regimes is all here.

Finally, it is a depressing read. I worry that this kind of activity may become for the model for future PMs who find themselves retired at an early age and who want to make some money.

Guitar Makers: The Endurance of Artisanal Values in North America
Guitar Makers: The Endurance of Artisanal Values in North America
Price: £22.81

4.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating and Comprensive Look at the Modern World of Artisan Guitar Production in North America, 5 Jan. 2015
This new book will be a must for many of you. I'd not heard of this before but it arrived as a Christmas Present from a relative who saw it in a store and and thought it looked interesting. It certainly was.

This is the story of the development of the new artisan and boutique acoustic guitar world in North America, starting with early pioneers such as Cumpiano and Gurian and moving on to cover today's world. Many of those you would want to see interviewed in a book like this are — here you will find Linda Manzer, Richard Hoover, Jeff Traugott, Grit Laskin, Jean Larrivee, Michael Millard and many more. There are also lengthy pieces with Martin and Gibson which explore have these companies have set out to engage with the new producers.

The story is a fascinating one and Dudley presents a very detailed description of the way in which this new guitar building ecology has developed, from the days when nobody really knew much about what they were doing to today which, she argues, really is a new and golden age of the luthier's art.

This is more though than a straight account of the development of the modern-day artisan guitar world. Dudley is an anthropologist and as such she is interested in what motivated the early pioneers and what continues to drive builders on. She looks at the various guilds and shows that have developed to support the makers and has a look at the different values that underpin these initiatives.

I won't say too much as I want you folks to be as fascinated as I was by it. Because Dudley is an academic the book occasionally has the tone of a PHD that has been built on but to be fair for most of the time this is an easy book to read and digest. On the plus side, the level of analysis and thinking that has gone into this is somewhat greater that we are used to see in, for example, magazines.

Here we learn about what drove these makers into being luthiers. We learn about the different business factors that have developed along the way. For example, we see the world developing as those luthiers who got a lot of attention found that their order books were stretching into years; as a result the second hand market in their products raced ahead and these, genuinely non profit orientated artisans, were forced to revise their pricing to cope with second hand demand — hence the current pricing for some of the world's most prominent makers.

While acknowledging the existence of this new golden age Dudley is not complacent in automatically assuming it will continue. Towards the end of the book she looks at some of the real challenges facing the industry and reflects the concerns of some that the field is built on baby boomers building and selling to other rich baby boomers — some people buy Harley Davidson's when they reach a certain age and others buy guitars! Will there be a next generation.

A fascinating book and well worth recommending. It is not a cheap hardback but it is available on Kindle. This is a purely text book and as such there are a few graphs in it but no real colour photos; this will work fine on a kindle.

The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned peace for the First World War
The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned peace for the First World War
Price: £6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Thoughtful., 15 July 2014
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A marvellous book. At the end of the 19th century there was a very common view that we would never see a major war again. MacMillan asks not why war broke out but why peace failed and this approach, I think, is a nice way of looking at the events that shaped the war. The book is constructed around a series of in-depth essays that look at events in each of the nations who played a role in the war.

This is not a book that deals with the conflict itself. But it is one that strikes me as being very important when considering contemporary issues, such as the Ukraine/Russia disputes and tensions.

City as Interface: How New Media Are Changing the City (Reflect Book 10)
City as Interface: How New Media Are Changing the City (Reflect Book 10)
Price: £14.33

4.0 out of 5 stars The Dilemmas surrounding virtual places and virtual spaces are not that new or not that different ..., 15 July 2014
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This is a very thoughtful book. What de Waal has done is put the 'digital' spaces of cities into a proper context and considers the development of digital and new media identities alongside much conventional thinking about planning and city development.

I'd certainly not thought of this before but space is space and de Waal shows that many of the issues faced by us ion considering digital space are simply not new. The dilemmas of public space and the values that shape it remain in the digital sphere.

Recommended reading for anyone who thinks about space and place.

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State
No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars ... is no way that I would call this a perfect book but it is very enlightening, 15 July 2014
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There is no way that I would call this a perfect book but it is very enlightening. Even if you have followed the Snowden case closely it is very useful to have the account laid out like this. Sometimes the author's style can grate a little — he refers to a past book on the subject not just as as book but as a "bestseller" — he is not a man to undersell!

It does sometimes feel like a screenplay waiting to be produced but aside from the style (possibly the ego) of the writer this is well worth reading.

The implications of such mass surveillance are worth thinking about properly and this book lays bare the scope of US ambition. It also is quite frightening in the way it documents how the US administration has lied about surveillance when specifically asked by those authorities to whom it is supposed to be accountable!

Filter Removal Wrench - Remover For 67mm - 77mm Filters
Filter Removal Wrench - Remover For 67mm - 77mm Filters
Offered by A-21 World
Price: £4.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars, 15 July 2014
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It just didn't work for me. Filter still stubbornly attached!

Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood
Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood
Price: £5.49

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Context, 15 July 2014
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This is a very interesting and useful book to read not least because it shows how ancient patterns of conflict have survived to this day. Peace, for Baghdad, seems to be still a long way off!

The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos
The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Worry — It is Just as Good!, 15 July 2014
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I have to confess to the same worry as many of the other reviewers.

This is just as enjoyable — and in many ways as accomplished — as the first two parts of the trilogy. I'm speaking here from an enjoyment rather than an academic point of view!

If you have read Time of Gifts and Between the Woods, don't hesitate. It is simply wonderful to be in PLF's company again as he walks towards the end of the journey.

Scotland End to End: Walking the Gore-tex[registered] Scottish National Trail
Scotland End to End: Walking the Gore-tex[registered] Scottish National Trail
by Cameron McNeish
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book Introducing a Great New National Trail, 13 Oct. 2012
Since retiring from the Editorship on TGO Magazine Cameron McNeish has embarked on a new series of media projects through his Mountain Media company developed with his co-author Richard Else. Central to this line is a series of guides on Scottish Trails including the new Sutherland Trail which I've set as a priority to walk one of these days.

Scotland End to End is the latest of Cameron's new ventures and sets out a national trail for Scotland, a 470 mile walk from Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders to Cape Wrath in the far North West. This is an imaginative route that I'm sure is going to become very popular and this book is Cameron's best yet.

OK, let's get the awkward bit out of the way first. This venture has been sponsored by the fabric company Gore-Tex and so throughout the trail is referred to as the Gore-Tex Scottish National Trail! Talking to Cameron about this prior to publication I could sense a little sensitivity about this and I seen found out why. When mentioning the book and the trail to a couple of friends they exploded; they simply didn't like the concept of a new trail being so closely identified with a company like Gore-Tex. Cameron is clear that without the financial support of Gore Tex the venture would not get off the ground. As Cameron has said to me himself:

"The company has helped us considerably and from my time as chair of the Nevis Partnership I'm only too well aware that the usual public streams of funding for footpath work, path creation and long distance trails have dried up due to the recession, cuts , etc. I've always felt that it would be good if the private sector put a bit of money into our trails etc and I'm delighted Gore has agreed".

I can understand the reservations that people have but Cameron is right. The age of austerity we are in at the moment is likely to last the best part of a decade and we are going to have to look to new solutions like this to support development that would traditionally have come from the public sector. Anyhow, back to the book!

The Prologue of the book lays out a lot of the thinking behind the trail which I reckon will strike a chord with many walkers. The idea of the trail has partially come out of the renewed confidence of Scotland following the setting up of the Scottish parliament and, perhaps, the move towards independence. However, the trail also has been devised following some thinking about the existing long distance trails in the UK. Most of our most popular trails are pretty short (around two weeks long) with the exception of the Lands End to John O'Groats walk which as Cameron says is just too long for many of us. In Scotland there are a number of trails -- official or otherwise -- which last for between two or three weeks. There seemed to be a gap for a longer distance trail that was more approachable than Lands End John O'Groats and yet was more of an undertaking than, say, the Southern Upland Way or the Great Glen Way.

The route as created falls naturally into four sections, the Borders to Edinburgh, Edinburgh to Milnagavie (north of Glasgow), Milnagavie to Kingussie in the Cairngorms and, finally Kingussie to Cape Wrath in the far north. Some will find the route something of a challenge to walk in one go but many others will, I think, walk this in sections perhaps splitting the last section into two or three stretches.

Scotland End to End is not a guidebook as such but rather follow the formula of Cameron's other recent books. This is the account of a walk. There are route details here though you will need to resort to your maps for proper planning. But the real aim of this book is to give you a feel of the land you are walking through. Here you will find: details of the topography and geology of the area you are walking through; descriptions of the flora, fauna and wildlife; and lots of insight into the history and traditions of the lands you will be moving through. Towns and villages that are key stopping points or resupply points are described well and local hotels, B&Bs and campsites of note are highlighted.

I found the book to be a good and absorbing read; I learnt a lot. Like many hillwalkers -- and indeed Cameron himself -- I don't know much about Scotland south of the Highlands. The first sections through the borders and on to Glasgow are particularly rich. We grow to love this land through the eye of a sceptic -- a man who used to proudly say that there are no real hills south of Glasgow! I now want to walk the first section from the borders and also fancy lopping along the canal section that runs west from Edinburgh.

At Milngavie you might think that the End to End route sets off to take in the West Highland Way but Cameron has other ideas. For many years he has felt that the West Highland Way was at capacity or even over-used. After a short walk along the WHW Cameron's route moves North East through Aberfoyle to Pitlochry and on to Kingussie. I know a little of this country and reckon this is probably a lovely route, quieter and wilder than the WHW.

From Kingussie the trail begins to make its way west (TGO Challengers would be well advised to check out Cameron's route which avoids much of the tarmac that seems to be unavoidable in this part of the world). This stretch of the walk is a wonderful walk -- I've walked most of it. From Kingussie the route weaves its way through Fort Augustus, Tomdoun, Cluanie, Glen Elchaig to Achnashellach. Here the route joins Cameron's version of the Cape Wrath Trail. From the Torridon Hills to Cape Wrath is a tough and wild walk and a fitting climax to what would be a wonderful walking experience.

Throughout the book Cameron talks a lot about his approach to backpacking. There are small dialogues on gear, wild camping and the selecting of wild camp sites. He outlines well his strategy of wild camping for three or four days and then walking into a town for a good shower, a decent meal and a few beers: a classic formula. It is clear from the text that Cameron is in pat writing for those who may not be dedicated and experienced backpackers. As he says long distance walking often becomes a real option when children have left home or after retirement. This route would make a good project for those who have not independently backpacked before. Walk this in sections and by the time your reach the wild country you should be quite experienced and have a much better idea of what you are doing! Cameron is clearly trying to make the more remote trails of Scotland accessible to a wider range of people and in that I think he has succeeded.

There is a lot more to like here as well. I particularly like this as a meditation on the joy of travelling west. I agree with Cameron, walking towards the best is always the best walking; the light is better and the land ahead more mysterious. The big problem with the TGO Challenge is that is walks in the wrong direction. Sadly, the west coast can't really deal with the riotous impact that 300 backpackers can make on a town. But walk this trail independently and you won't have such considerations or face such limitations. West is always best.

The prose here is very informative but remains very readable throughout. Look at the small print carefully and you will see that the book has been proofread by Roger Smith, the first editor of TGO and long time organiser of the TGO Challenge until 2012. Roger is a great stylist and you can certainly see his influence here.

It would be remiss not to linger a little on Richard Else's contribution -- a series of stunning, colour photographs of the route. Else captures the spirit and mood o the place whether it be a lowland village churchyard or a wild and windy glen.

This is a book that I heartily recommend. I suspect that the End-to-End trail will become popular quite quickly not least because it can form the basis for a flexible walking project. Like Cameron himself I was surprised by the Border sections and fancy walking these sometime soon and I wouldn't have expected that when I first sat down with the book.

Finally, I have to say that if Gore-Tex's financial support has made this possible then I am quite content with that. Maybe it does get a bit annoying seeing every reference of the trail being to the Gore-Tex Scottish National Trail but I can live with this if has made both the book and the trail possible.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 17, 2015 7:21 PM BST

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