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Vivobarefoot Mens Ultra M Multisport Shoes 300009-04 Royal Blue 10 UK, 44 EU
Vivobarefoot Mens Ultra M Multisport Shoes 300009-04 Royal Blue 10 UK, 44 EU

5.0 out of 5 stars Not the answer to life, the universe, and everything, but pretty good for footwear, 27 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Read some of the barefoot shoe stuff on the web and you will come to believe that these sort of shoes will transport you into a different sensory realm, will recharge your legs and provide you with boundless strength and agility. In fact, there seems as much hyperbole about shoes that are trying really hard not to be shoes as is turned out by the shoes that are stuffed with technology.

I ended up down this route because it seemed that my favourite around-the-house-and-garden Crocs were aggravating an old ankle injury. When I stayed away from the Crocs for a few days it got better. Walking around barefoot (or in socks) seemed to help a lot. Trouble is I have diabetes and need to protect my feet. Plus walking out on tarmac and standing on slugs in the garden wasn't much fun.

The Vivobarefoot Ultras are pretty much an excellent alternative to my old Crocs. They provide a few millimetres of foam sole under my feet and have an open mesh foam upper just like Crocs which lets my feet breathe and dry out instantly when they get wet. I can slip them off and on easily, just like Crocs. I can run in them, for short distances at least, something I was never able to do in Crocs. They weigh next to nothing.

They come with a mesh/neoprene inner sock and another liner to cover the lace area. I used the sock once and found that whilst comfortable it made my feet a bit too hot. I didn't have any need for the other liner. According to the Vivobarefoot website, based on my favourite running shoes I needed a half size bigger and that proved to be accurate. They are on the loose side but that suits me fine.

I've had them about three weeks which is too short to assess durability. The manufacturers claim you could get 300 miles of running out of them. Not sure that they would last that long for me at any rate. There's no sign of wear as yet on the sole based on daily use in and around the house (not a very testing environment, admittedly).

The most interesting phenomena is that when I've slipped on my Crocs because there's been nothing else around, I've immediately been struck by how uncomfortable they seem now - quite a change seeing as how I never used to have them off my feet before.


Running Free: A Runner's Journey Back to Nature
Running Free: A Runner's Journey Back to Nature
by Richard Askwith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Running along the muddy path to enlightenment?, 16 Mar 2014
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It's difficult to write about something you are passionate about without at times becoming evangelical or appearing to dismiss the alternatives. In 35 years of running I've been through most of the phases that Askwith describes in his book - though as many of these were in a more innocent, pre-internet age, perhaps I avoided some of the excesses of consumerism that he rails against. Thus his book veers an a times awkward course between personal recollection (which will doubtless strike some chords with fellow runners), criticism of commercialisation of running, and evangelical espousal of a form of running that will probably not be easily accessible to the vast majority of the running population.

I'm fortunate that I do live (and work) out in the country, and a recent running experience might illustrate who will most appreciate this book. It was a semi-illicit lunchtime run, sneaking off without explicit indication of where I was going and what I was up to, squeezing in a quick 5 miles. I got a bit carried away with myself and an off-road track led me to speculation that I could do a loop round a few forest firebreaks: there then followed several joyous miles where I reached deep into the forest, several times up to my knees in bog, finally (after a couple of episodes where I feared I was irretrievably lost) reaching back where I had started. I got back to work with a glow and sense of satisfaction that undoubtedly improved my productivity for the rest of the day. Nothing here about times, splits, distances, just about the sheer joy of being out and behaving in a child-like manner.

This is really, at heart, what Askwith is writing about. It might have been better to have written solely about this primitive joy without putting it in comparison to other forms of running. Whilst he does say repeatedly through the book that his view is only one of many equally valid alternatives, it's difficult not to pick up an implicit criticism of how others relate to running. Yes, Big Running (as he calls it) has many downfalls. But perhaps it's also part of a journey and an inevitable experience to have before you come out the other end, to running with childish joy through the deep woods without any more thought of what you are doing than the immediate experience.

It's well worth a place on any runner's bookshelf. As a dyed-in-the-wool fell runner, I'm not sure it's better than his earlier book, Feet in the Clouds. If you are one of the converted, you will nod along sagely in agreement, and there's nothing more satisfying than seeing your own opinions confirmed in print. If you're not one of the converted, then I hope it might help you think "out of the box" and, most importantly, keep running when the initial goals - time, weight, distance, whatever - cease to become as important as they once seemed.


Mandolin Tutor: The First Twenty Lessons
Mandolin Tutor: The First Twenty Lessons
by Simon Mayor
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great guide to the mandolin, 11 Dec 2012
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I took up the mandolin only a few months ago, after being a (bad) fiddle player. Admittedly this means that I'm not a raw beginner, but Simon Mayor's book has been a very good introduction to the instrument and I've raced through the book pretty quickly. He takes things from the basics and introduces everything step by step. The example pieces are appropriately difficult for each stage but enjoyable in themselves (a minimum of academic scale-bashing exercises). He also injects a note of humour that seems to be rare in these sort of books. Don't miss out on the accompanying CD.


Mandolin for Violinists
Mandolin for Violinists
by Andrew Driscoll
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.86

5.0 out of 5 stars good for crossing over from other instruments, 11 Dec 2012
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This seems to be a neglected gem of a book. I came to the mandolin after a few years of playing the violin (badly). I quickly acquired a small collection of beginners guides which seem (to my fiddler's ear) to put undue emphasis on bluegrass and playing chords. This book, however, is much more what I was looking for: a comprehensive collection of music from a wide variety of repertoires, written both in standard notation and TAB. If you haven't any idea about the mandolin then you will need a more basic guide, but once you've got going this offers a good selection of exercises as well as some pretty good music!


Violin For Dummies
Violin For Dummies
by Katharine Rapoport
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works for me..., 27 Nov 2011
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This review is from: Violin For Dummies (Paperback)
I was overcome with a crazy idea to learn the violin at the age of 19 with no previous musical experience or any evidence of musicality. I bought myself a Skylark violin from a second-hand shop and turned up at a teacher recommended to me full of good intentions. Six lessons later I gave up, unable to really hear the differences in notes that my teacher was trying to impress upon me.

Despite this, the Skylark followed me around for the next 25 years. I had a hankering to try again - although this time round it was the cello I wanted to learn, I thought I should start with what I had to hand. No teachers locally seemed interested in taking on an adult learner, so after due research on Amazon I bought myself this book and a Cherub electronic tuner.

Three months later, I'm a quarter of the way through the book, and feel that I've made more progress than I ever made with my teacher. I was effectively starting from scratch, and VFD has been invaluable in helping me out with holding the violin and bow, playing notes, and helping me recall distant memories of musical notation. The music is much more up my street: no compositions that only appeal to 5 year olds. I've even got to the stage where I'm wondering if some of the occasional off notes are so much my technique or an indication that I need a new violin (though a bad workman blames his tools).

The CD is also invaluable in helping you hear what you are supposed to be playing, with a minimum of accompaniment - other beginner's guides that I've bought subsequently have a lot of piano accompaniment that makes it hard to hear what the violin is supposed to be doing.


The World House
The World House
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Compulsively nightmarish and nightmarishly compulsive..., 13 Sep 2011
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This review is from: The World House (Kindle Edition)
I found this an odd book, but like other reviewers one that was hard to put down.

The House itself is a place of nightmarish contents and nightmarish dimensions. It's probably the main character in the book - I would agree that the human protagonists, with the exception of Sophie, are rather two dimensional, and the apparent vast number of characters gets confusing. I say apparent, because, as is the case with everything else in this nightmarish realm, nothing is quite as it seems... There's also a lot happening at one time, which can mean following the plot can be difficult. It can be pretty bleak at times, one awful event after another, and the levity of the characters at times seems out of kilter with the book's content.

Despite literary shortcomings, it did have me hooked all the way to the end, and having bought the Kindle version I found myself reading it in all sorts of odd places, alternately on my iPhone and Kindle to find out what happened next. At times I did wonder why I kept going, but somehow it exerted a irresistable power to keep me turning the page.


iGadgitz Black Genuine Leather Case Cover Holder for Apple iPhone 3G & 3GS 8gb, 16gb & 32gb + Screen Protector & Detachable Belt Clip
iGadgitz Black Genuine Leather Case Cover Holder for Apple iPhone 3G & 3GS 8gb, 16gb & 32gb + Screen Protector & Detachable Belt Clip
Offered by iGadgitz
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good in parts, 27 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A good quality leather iPhone case, it fits neatly round my iPhone 3GS and provides a reasonable level of protection. I also prefer the top-flipping case rather than those that dangle downwards.

The belt clip is a bit of a disaster though - cheap plastic, difficult to engage with the metal rivet on the case (more than once I found it falling out when I thought I'd clipped it in securely) and after 3 weeks the brittle plastic cracked and made the clip unusable.

The case is good enough on its own, though, and the belt clip mount on the case is at least very discreet if you don't want to (or are unable to!) use the belt clip. If you absolutely must have a case that clips on to your belt, though, look elsewhere.


Barring Mechanicals - From London to Edinburgh and back, on a recumbent bicycle
Barring Mechanicals - From London to Edinburgh and back, on a recumbent bicycle
by Andy Allsopp
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I felt exhausted just reading about it, 27 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A compulsive and compelling account of the Audax world's longest ride, 1400km from London to Edinburgh and back again.

Although I'd describe myself as enthusiastic about cycling and bikes, the thought of a mega challenge like the LEL Audax has always seemed a bit overwhelming. 100km is about my limit, 14 times that in one go is awe inspiring. Despite that, the author manages to portray the event as something achievable by "normal" people, though I think comparisons with normality probably disappear after you have ridden continuously through the first day and night. Having done a few long distance running events I could well identify with his experiences.

A "must read" for any cyclist who rides further than the post office!


PopCo
PopCo
by Scarlett Thomas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.51

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A damp squib, 12 Dec 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: PopCo (Paperback)
I was a great fan of The End of Mr Y - a fast paced, intelligently written novel that ropes in the mundane with the wild and fantastic. Sadly PopCo is a pale shadow of its successor, though it seems to be to me the compost from which Mr Y springs.

There's the accomplished prose, the extensive research, the believable characterisation.

Sadly, there's the absence of a structured plot, a didactic lecturing style about the evils of modern capitalism (I'm no fan myself, but resent the implication that I need a story to be convinced), a disproportionate preoccupation with plot elements that never lead anywhere (see homeopathy), and and ending that is seems contrived and unconvincing. Like other readers I was fully expecting a twist that never came. I found myself getting more and more irritated with the main character the further on I got, and really only stayed on to the end because I'd committed time to read the first 300 pages.

Mr Y is so much better, hopefully this means that Scarlett Thomas is developing as a writer.


On Roads: A Hidden History
On Roads: A Hidden History
by Joe Moran
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Roads aren't just for cars!, 29 Nov 2009
This is a great read, an almost obsessional homage to Britain's road network. However, I did finish it with a small sense of disappointment. Despite his authoratative writings on roads, Moran seems to have got sucked into "bigger is better". As the book goes on, it becomes more about motorways and motorists. I was disappointed that he missed out entirely on the back roads and byways of the country, despite what the front cover design would have you believe. There's lots of historical routes out there that he only tangentially refers to, the kind of routes better known to cyclists and walkers that are still part of the modern social fabric of the country. Perhaps this is an opportunity for a second volume?


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