Wednesday, 27 February 2013
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!
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
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
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
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. 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
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
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
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.
Friday, 16 November 2012
In typical Ken Loach style, this is an honest slice of life. This drew me into the storyline even further as the characters were so convincing - the acting and the casting is superb. That said, one of the characters didn't even audition; he was a passer-by simply watching the camera crews set up and got offered a part in the film. And the lead actress is currently working as a primary school teacher. The characters were easy to like and to relate to, and there were some truly heartwarming moments in the film. It's definitely true to Glasgow life - the sense of humour and sense of community overrides all the adversities the characters face. For this reason, the strings of profanities are not gratuitous and instead genuinely add another layer of authenticity to the plotlines. If you are easily offended, I suggest you buy the edited version;
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
I admit, the accompanying album, took a while to grow on me; as much as I love the genre, I wasn't convinced by Paul's interpretation of them. Over time, and with the help of this film, I have been converted. And I think it could change a lot of other peoples' perceptions about the man and his music too. It shows there is yet another string in his bow. The interactions between Paul and everyone on this film, from his own crew, to session musicians to famous musicians, are natural, relaxed and on an equal level. This, coupled with his obvious self-deprecating sense of humour and general ability to laugh, put everyone at ease and endeared him to those he worked with and definitely to me watching this documentary. The session drummer described these sessions as being "free", showing how relaxed and friendly it was, which clearly shows in the footage of them recording. Everyone seems to feel comfortable and joyous. It's a fascinating insight into the creative process of this album, and to paraphrase what the bass player on these sessions said, he respects the music, which makes me respect him. Praise for Paul comes from everyone who is interviewed, including Eric Clapton, who despite his own illustrious career, spoke of his reverence for some of the stellar musicians also playing on this record. At this stage in Paul's career, it is good to see him fulfill such a long-held ambition (according to Joe Walsh). He breathes new life into some old songs, is faithful to Sinatra with his cover of We Three and his own contribution of My Valentine is sublime. It fits in perfectly with the rest of the recordings, and is further proof that the man is versatile. Generally speaking, I think Frank Sinatra and his songs are untouchable, but I was certainly impressed by the version of We Three I heard here. The film also goes a little into the history of the Capitol building; from the photographs on the walls of legends who have previously graced its studio floors (ie Nat King Cole, Sinatra and Coltrane, to the continued use of the vintage preamps, microphones and compressors, even the marks left by Les Paul by way of the echo chambers he originally designed...a fascintating taster of how the built environment helped shape this album. Paul said that the last time there was such an adverse reaction to any title he had suggested, it was the name The Beatles, which some associated too much with creepy crawly insects. Kisses On The Bottom had the same impact and it certainly adds another dimension to the (still) cute Beatle.