Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Don't let me DOWN-load.

As a lifelong Beatles fan, I of course have my opinions on today's happenings. I admit I have already got all of the tracks which were offered for sale, and many more besides. Bootlegs are readily available online, and also for sale in CD format at the annual Beatles Convention in Liverpool. However, I jumped for joy at the thought of being able to own a legal version of these rare tracks, especially knowing they'd be tidied up and would therefore be of better quality than the copies of copies of 50 year old tapes. I understand the cynical side of this release, and wouldn't be surprised if I was to be told that the recent change in legislation, given its impeccable timing, is heavily influenced if not totally driven by The Beatles. Knowing this, I was still keen to buy my copy. I excitedly logged into iTunes this morning, only to find no trace of the album, and no evidence it had yet been released in the UK although there were rumours to suggest that it had been released in the middle of the night for a matter of minutes. A series of tweets and internet searches followed, and I was still none the wiser. Just before I was due to leave the house for work, I saw an article on the BBC site stating that the album would be released later today and that it would be available indefinitely as opposed to the initial plan to release it for as little time as humanly possible. I felt that either it was a bizarre PR stunt or it was Apple buckling under pressure from fans as it was upsetting and alienating a lot of people. Sure enough, around 3pm this afternoon, I found that the download was available. Now I've paid my £34, in the knowledge that fans in other parts of Europe paid 9.99 Euros, and having seen it at $12.99 NZD on New Zealand's site, I have to come to the one of two conclusions, neither of which are particularly savoury. Either it was a strange ploy to get us all worked up so we'd gratefully pay anything and everything for the downloads OR The blue meanies stamped their feet and decided that "OK...you fans can have the material if you want it that badly...but you are going to have to pay for it." Both thoughts are disappointing to say the least. That said, nothing is Beatle-proof.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Next Season.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been eagerly ordering new season items from the Next Directory as they become available. The Autumn/Winter 2013 collection looks like their best yet...but then I seem to think that ever season. There are lots of wardrobe staples to be had in wearable colours. Think dark grey, teal, berry and the most perfect shade of red. So far, I've managed to invest in 4 items.
This dress (866-665) is a cute 60s style shift in a purple dogtooth print. The colours are perfect for winter and the dress itself is perfectly paired with dark brown knee high boots and worn either with a cardigan over it or a roll neck under it. The neckline detail is really flattering and the contrast trim at the collar and which also forms mock pockets adds to the vintage feel. The material is a wearable and not too thick type which makes it perfect for wearing indoors as well as outside. It is also easy to look after and should be less prone to bobbling than other dresses. When it comes to tops, I often play it safe with plain staples. This hugely wearable top comes in several safe colours, one of which I have purchased and several more will be ordered once it comes into stock. However, I couldn't resist its diamond patterned variant either, in its autumnal berry shade. The retro chick in me loves the button detailing which is found on the cuffs and also at the nape of the neck at the back.
(773-207) and
(859-226) Finally, I bought a few crew cardigans from the Spring/Summer 2013 collection but for winter, they're back! This time around, they're thicker, with a tab covering the buttons for a sophisticated feel, and the top button as well as the cuff buttons have been replaced with diamante. Simple but effective, as the dark grey one I purchased thus far shows (772-991)

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A cup above the rest.

I found this coffee machine a joy to use. It's easy to use and literally is "Bean to cup" making fantastic, professional standard coffee with the touch of a button. It's easy to get it perfectly in tune with your needs, as it dispenses from variable heights, meaning you can make espresso in an espresso cup, enjoy a cup of cauppuccino, or have a mug of Americano. I found it much easier to operate using whole coffee beans as opposed to ground coffee, although the machine is pretty noisy when it operates, especially when grinding the beans. I found it works well with any milk...I love soya milk as it froths up even better than dairy milk for topping a cappuccino, and this machine handled it with no problem. It also provided me with a very tasty hot chocolate. Everything about this machine is great, including the ease of cleaning it and maintaining it. Despite the initial outlay, it offers fantastic value for money when compared with purchasing even a single cup per day from one of the big name retailers...it soon pays for itself!

Express Espresso.

Aesthetically, this is a very modern looking coffee machine. It doesn't look so great in my less-than-modern kitchen, but it would look great in a more modern room. That said, purple is my favourite colour so I still like the way it looks! It's easy to set up and get it working pretty much straight from the box. It produces a really lovely foam, one which could easily rival that found in your average chain of coffee shops on the high street. It's easy to clean thus far. I'd definitely recommend this machine although the price of replacement pods isn't too cheap (although not as expensive as some I've seen). For me, it's an addition, and not a replacement to my current coffee machine, which isthis one made by Delonghi; . I definitely prefer the Delonghi.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Terrific Terrabyte.

This device is much smaller than my other 1TB Seagate drives and of course lighter, which was a surprise. It's a classy looking brushed graphite colour. I will be using this mainly as a portable drive, connected to my iPhone, iPad, Wireless printer, desktop computer and laptop, so that wherever I am, home or away, I will be able to back up and retrieve information with ease. It took a matter of minutes to establish an additional home network and connect all my devices to the drive through an ethernet connection. I found it easy to drag and drop media onto it and to organise that information within the drive itself. The SATA attachment is very useful if you just want to use it as a drive - I wasn't particularly interested in its wifi capabilities, although it functions perfectly well within a wifi environment so far. I see it almost as a virtual shelf to put "stuff" on, whether that's photos, documents, or multimedia. The drive operates quietly and quickly and doesn't get too hot; it worries me when drives start to do this as it often means they are on their way out. So far, very pleased.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Got it covered.

These lads look like The Beatles and sound like The Rolling Stones...encapsulating 1964 with a modern edge. It's easy to forget they're all aged between 14 and 16. They're destined for great things - Elton John and Noel Gallagher have already been seen at their gigs. As for the single, it's a great cover of the Bo Diddley classic and a truly consummate, energetic, authentic performance. Top stuff. The video is also achingly cool and totally mod-tastic!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Up for a challenge.

I've recently discovered and signed up to the e-tailPR affiliate network for bloggers (hence the shiny new banner to your right). They're running a competition, which has been posted on their blog to win £75 to spend at Marc B and £175 to spend at ASOS. I'd been thinking it's been a while since I did a fashion post on my blog so I've accepted the challenge. First of all, I decided to browse the Marc B website as I wasn't too familiar with the brand. My favourite bag by far is the Monica Soft Tan Holdall, which is fantastic value for money at only £49. It's a roomy bag in a nice neutral colour; to be honest, the entire collection is ideal for day to day use.
Next, to build an outfit around the bag. I decided to keep the outfit within the £175 budget I would have if I won the vouchers. I absolutely LOVE the Heart Tree Printed Dress by NW3 at Hobbs, even more now it's in the sale at ASOS.
The retro shape and print are what attracted me to the dress, coupled with the amazing shade of green which is perfect for my pale skin and blonde hair, and of course, just how perfectly it goes with the Marc B bag. The dress would go perfectly with thick black tights and flat black ballerina shoes for daywear; a pair like these ones by London Rebel at ASOS. I'd finish the outfit off with this basic black cardigan and this Cath Kidston bracelet finishing with a slick of Nars lipstick in Dolce Vita

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Hix Hix Hooray!!

Naively, I had always associated baking with cakes and sweet items, so I found this book to be a great source of inspiration. It has broadened my repertoire no end, as I now consider baking to be a great method of cooking meals on a regular basis. I particularly enjoyed the crab and seashore vegetable tart (even though I did make a few basic substitutions for ingredients I couldn't get hold of easily). Generally speaking, the recipes are simple and easy to follow, realistic for day to day use by an amateur cook. The ingredients are your more normal, accessible ones; the notable exception to this rule being the seashore vegetables component of the aforementioned tart. Other particularly note-worthy and highly recommended recipes for me included the red mullet en papillote, Moroccan cigars, and baked peaches with amaretto. The book is simple, modern and elegant, with high quality pages and honest looking photographs. The writing style is approachable and easy to build a rapport with as it is straightforward without being patronising.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Making waves.

This is a brilliant starter kit/emergency kit, but I would argue that most professional guitarists will already have this equipment. The strings are your standard gauge, although they are lighter than the ones I prefer to use...the lighter the gauge, the lighter the guitar sounds! The lead is absolutely excellent quality; in fact, it's one of the best I've used. When coupled with the guitar strap which at first appeared a bit too big for my liking, but was easy to adjust, it makes this package totally worth the money. The tuner is a useful gadget to have, and the ProWinder is especially useful - it does exactly what it is meant to do, and it also contains a pin grip, useful when changing the strings on an acoustic guitar (and it means I can stop wedging a 5p piece under the pins to dislodge them, risking scratching the guitar, as I normally do). All in all, an excellent package, offering great quality and great value for money from a trusted and respected brand. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

A David Essex double bill...with a little help from a stellar cast.

The first of the two films, That'll Be The Day is the better of the two and really sets a standard which Stardust can't quite meet. Ringo Starr totally nails his part, delivering his lines with perfect humour and timing. He's convincing and likeable and also a good sport, appearing in his underwear and there's even a bum shot (I don't think it was a stunt bottom!) Having seen him in A Hard Day's Night and Help, it is strange to see him go from squeaky clean Beatle to cheeky Scous chappy with a bit of a mouth on him, but he makes the transition perfectly. Billy Fury appears as a singer and Keith Moon as a drummer, as the other notable famous cameos. As for David Essex, he appears confident yet unassuming and it's an enjoyable viewing experience. As for Stardust, although given the filming locations of some of the scenes, it was clear they had a larger budget, this sequel fell short of the mark for me. I enjoyed it but it wasn't as good as its predecessor. Ringo Starr had the good sense not to participate in this film. The cliches are just too Beatley...it seems to me that the industry realised that they had to give the world The Beatles again. Early on, it's a street similar to Mathew Street in Liverpool, and set inside a music club inside a cellar, like The Cavern...there's even a house which looks very much the same as John Lennon's house in Weybridge. It would have been in poor taste and a bad career move for Ringo to have included himself in this! Later on, the film goes into a documentary mode, like the Albert Maysles footage of The Beatles. It was just a bit too cliched for me and the acting not as strong, although Marty Wilde was good.