Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Thursday, 27 June 2013

To lighten your day, or to scare you!

 It's been a while, but got this by email today and thought you might like it.  They made me smile but for some reason the last one made me laugh out loud!

Especially for my teacher friends, but I think everyone will enjoy this
one, and it does say a lot about the youth of today.

The following questions were set in last year’s examination
These are genuine answers (from 16 year olds)............and they 
WILL breed. (scary)
Q. Name the four seasons
A. Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar
Q. Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink
A. Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists
Q. How is dew formed
A. The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire
Q. What causes the tides in the oceans
A. The tides are a fight between the earth and the moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins the fight
Q. What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on
A. If you are buying a house they will insist that you are well endowed
Q. In a democratic society, how important are elections
A. Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election
Q. What are steroids 
A. Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs (Shoot yourself now , there is little hope)
Q. What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty
A. He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery (So true)
Q. Name a major disease associated with cigarettes
A. Premature death
Q. What is artificial insemination
A. When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow 
Q. How can you delay milk turning sour
A. Keep it in the cow (Simple, but brilliant)
Q. What is the fibula?
A. A small lie
Q. What does 'varicose' mean? 
A. Nearby  
Q. What is the most common form of birth control 
A. Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium (That would work)
Q. Give the meaning of the term 'Caesarean section'
A. The caesarean section is a district in Rome
Q. What is a seizure?
A. A Roman Emperor. (Julius Seizure, I came, I saw, I had a fit)
Q. What is a terminal illness 
A. When you are sick at the airport. (Irrefutable)
Q. What does the word 'benign' mean?
A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight (brilliant)

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Recipe: Chicken on the bone - Pomodoro

Nearly forgot this, Made a pot of leek and potato soup at the weekend that went down well with Charlie and Holly who made home made cheese croutons to go with it.

Also made a quick Chicken Pomodoro with thigh and leg pieces, using chicken with the bone still in really does intensify the flavour, so this is what you'll need, and this was for three adults and two ravenous kids who really like their chicken.

3 or 4 (each) thigh and leg pieces
1 large or two small onions
Mushrooms optional
2 or 3 mixed peppers
handful of cherry or other small tomatoes
Lemon zest
Dried Bay leave
Olive oil
Ready pack of Pomodoro
1/4 to 1/2 cup of chicken stock

I started off adding a tablespoon or two to the pan and browning in batches and all over, the chicken pieces .

While cooking the chicken I add the lemon zest, thyme and bay leaves along with some Maldon salt to a grinder or you can cheat and buy Jamie Olivers' all in one grinder  and grind this in while browning the chicken.  Once browned, remove the chicken from the pan an set aside.

Peel and roughly chop your onions add to the pan and start to sweat down for about 5 minutes, adding a touch more olive oil if required.

Roughly deseed your peppers and slice longways and then in half, chunky but manageable. Add to pan once onions have started to turn soft. After about two minutes frying the peppers with the onions

and if  using mushrooms, again roughly chop and again keeping thick as you don't want these or the peppers to turn to mush, add to the pan and stir for a couple of minutes browning the mushrooms.

Now, it's time to return the chicken to the pan along with a carton of Pomodoro, and the handful of cherry tomatoes and if necessary a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of chicken stock, (you won't always need the stock, so you need to decide for yourself).

Cover with lid and place in a pr-heated oven, about 160- 170 degrees and cook for thirty minutes to finish of the chicken.  After thirty minutes remove the lid and let the skin roast on top of the chicken.  Serve the dish up on the table with chunky bread and let folks dip in for meat, veg and ju... enjoy

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Asgard :the power of the talking hammer by Charlie Kennedy (age 7)

Had Charlie and Holly over this weekend and we went to a daredevil stunt show on Saturday night with them, it was freezing and the wind chill must have made the temperature about 10 degrees, but they enjoyed it, especially Charlie, who was wide eyed at the whole thing.  Unfortunately idiot granddad changed the lens on his camera before going and instead of the telephoto lens just had a normal one so the photo's weren't great, so won't be posting on that , but here is a taster

 Charlie                                                                                                                    Holly

Then today, after we returned from the park Charlie told me about a story he had written on his ipod, in the car on his way to visit his other grandparents.  He has still to finish it but I thought a nice wee taster from a budding author, well as an aside Holly says she wants to be an author and Charlie says ne wants to be an illustrator, but I thgink, and told him so, after reading this, that he could be an author and an illustator too.. but then I am biased ........

I just sent this over from his ipod and reproduce it here as written, and he tells me he is writing more

Asgard :the power of the talking hammer

image (c) virginiavirtucon.wordpress.com
Long ago there lived a black smith called Thor.He lived with his mum and dad there where called Lucy and Odin.He was there god he was a great man he cared for his people and respected them.One day a magical  dwarf came and the gate keeper said to the dwarf "no mini dwarf's allowed "the   dwarf replied "I am not mini"then the gate keeper let him in he went to the palace and said o great and mighty on please take my gift it is the lightning hammer so he told him what it did and then he shoed him but when the dwarf was shoeing him how to fly by accident it slipped right out of his hands and went strait to the door of the black smith when Lucy came out to do the washing she tripped and said to Thor" can you fix this hammer" Thor rippled " yes mum" every time he hit it he here'd a nose then he notes't it was hammer talking it was saying ouch and stop

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Book Review: Second Son by Lee Child

Look inside Amazon UK here
Look inside Amazon US here 
You know I am a big fan of Jack Reacher from Lee Child and I have had this one on my Kindle for sometime now but only just got round to reading it!

The book opens in Paris with Reacher's 90 year old grandfather about to die and the neighbours trying to reach his daughter, Reacher's mother Josie, who is in transit to her husbands next posting.

This is a retrospective taking us back to Reacher at 13 years of age and he, his Father a Captain in the US Marines his older brother Joe and their mother Josie have just arrived in Okinawa.

Reacher is already on the way to being oversized unlike Mr Cruise, who at 13 was probably only about 80 lbs and was never much more than that, sorry I'm digressing....

Young Recher quickly finds that the local American kids have a hierarchy and a unique way of welcoming new kids on the block, but as we find in his later life, he is not one to pay the piper and sets about dismantling the local gang at the some time as deducing who framed his brother over a set of missing school test answer sheet and solving the riddle of the missing codex book that could see his father painting kerbstones white as a private soldier.

This sets the scene for his later life as an investigator in the MP's and maybe tells us why he joined the Military Police rather than the Marines, like his father all in all a good introduction to young reacher.

My only issue with this was what appeared to be a formatting issue at the beginning of chapter 10 in that Reacher was having a conversation with a girl he met on the beach and whom he exchanges kisses with and who he finds has only been on the base for a couple of weeks longer than he has and the established kids are also making her life a bit rough.  The layout goes from the normal spread across the full page to a line by line conversational piece, as each one speaks in three of four word sentences and looks completely awful between two normal passages, this happens in one other place in the book.  It may just be me, but I found it slightly off putting*, but still thoroughly enjoyed the story.

Editing for Kindle: 4 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Page Count: 40
Front cover Art Work: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

This was the editing I mentioned, as I say, it's probably just me overthinking it, but I don't think it needed it like this.  It does appear in  other books when the dialogue is running between two characters  rather than the story been told in a third person narrative but I can't recall seeing it quite like this in a Reacher novel before and to me, between the two normal passages it just didn't sit right!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Film Review: Les Miserables 2012

Well finally got round to watching this movie with Ishbel.  We both thoroughly enjoyed it, however I really can't see what all the hoopla was surrounding it.  It was nothing great and having seen the stage production in London I much preferred the latter to the former.

It may have been the book / movie syndrome kicking in, in that the movie of a book very very rarely lives up to the drama and excitement of a good book.  Yeah, Crowe, Jackman, Hathaway, et al,  all put in fine performances and yes they proved that they can hold a tune, just, apart from Hathaway who had a surprisingly good singing voice and sang I Dreamed a Dream with conviction and passion.

I'm not a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen but he and Helena Bonham Carter, for me stole the show as Thenardier and Madame Thenardier, but then they almost do that (the characters that is) in the stage production too.  In the theatre I was laughing out loud at these two particularly when performing Master of the House and again with Beggars at The Feast; in the movie version, they got me smiling.

I must make mention of Samantha Barks and Eddie Redmayne.  Barks as Eponine, I paused the movie, always guaranteed to irritate Ishbel,  and asked when was the last time you saw a woman with a waist that small?  It was tiny,and fair do's as Eponine she gave a fine performance as the unrequited love interest to Redmayne's Marius.  I don't know what it is about that guy but I just don't like watching him and I didn't like him in this either.....

All in all, enjoyable and the soundtrack to the stage version is a regular on my playlist so it was good to hear them all, yet again.

If you haven't seen the movie and you can't get to see the stage production, then I recommend the movie.  If you want to listen to the full soundtrack from the movie it is on You Tube and I will put it on here, and hope that it works.

My Rating: Good 
Ishbel's rating: Excellent 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Mr Fat and the Oncologist

Before I get on to my day with the Oncologist I should mention that I was back at the dreaded Broomfield Hospital for the CPEX test on Monday 10th June.  If you don't know CPEX is where they attach all those electrodes to your body stick a tube in your mouth and sit you on a pedal machine while they monitor all sorts of crap.  I'd tell you what they were actually monitoring if I knew but it seems to be a secret and I can only guess that it's my heart and lung rhythms!

(c) unknown
The Doctor, Dr W, took me in and introduced me to the technician, and then he left us to it.  The technician wired me up going through the procedure, commenting that once wired up I would be sitting on the machine for three minutes while base lines were established and then the test would start with me pedalling until I got to 60 on the counter and that once I got there I was to maintain that rhythm throughout the test.  He went on to state that it would be a gentle pedal until I got to the 'hill' then the pressure on the pedals would steadily increase as I climbed.  'As you get to the top it will get harder, I've done it', says he, 'but don't worry I'll be cheering you on!

Well, all said and done, I never really noticed any change in the pressure on the pedals and I felt no discomfort or breathlessness at any point during the routine.  At the end he called the Dr back in and they started to look and whisper as they looked at the ten or so graphs that had come up on the large screen.  After a few minutes I asked if all was well and, 'Am I fit for surgery?'  There was one blip on one of the graphs that they were both scratching their heads over but again refused to tell me what they thought it might be or if they thought there was a problem, getting ratty now, again...... and he said that they would need to analyse the results.  I asked, well I don't know do I, if that's not what the computer did with all those graphs and 'how long have you been doing this?

Anyway he asked when and who was my next appointment with. I responded that it was with the
(c) Caremed NZ
Oncologist back at Basildon on the 19th. He said that he would have the results by then and that he would make sure that they were sent to Dr C, and the team at Broomfield.  Needless to say when I arrived at the Oncologist yesterday they had no idea what I was talking about and said that they wouldn't necessarily get those results as those tests were for the surgical team and not the oncology team.  Fine, I can accept that but why then would Dr W say that he would ensure that they were available for me if he had no intention of doing so, getting really rat arsed now.  In the meantime I have had two letters from the Cardio department at Broomfields stating that Dr W has referred me for two further tests, one I can turn up any time for and another where an appointment has been given for 9th July .... Now I fullY accept that these folk are trying to mend my diseased riddled body and it's not their fault, did you get that Dr H, not your fault, that I have cancer.  But if you carry out a test and you find something awry then F*****g tell me what the problem is, I WANT TO KNOW..... don't just refer me for further test without explaining what you did or did not discover during the first test to warrant further tests.

So, on to the Oncologist yesterday.  Met with Dr P her registrar who went through a list of questions and how I had been feeling to date and what symptoms were presenting themselves. Had a wee rant about Broomfields but I don't think she was really that interested as it's just 'not cricket' to be showing any interest when a patient is complaining about colleagues.  Anyway after that she disappeared into the next room and Ishbel and I were left sitting there for about 10 minutes, presumably while she briefed Dr C who came whizzing through the door like a woman possessed (not in a bad way) I suspect she had many patients to see and needed to get through us all as quickly as she could...

(c) Iamnotyourdoctor.blogspot.com

So, she explained that I didn't need to have chemo and I could elect to go straight for surgery but results have shown that of the patients who elected to have chemo and then surgery, no numbers given on totals, that in 5% of the cases, the patients lives were extended by a couple of years.  I could sense Ishbel stiffening up at that little nugget as we sat together.  I asked if I was sitting there as her father and presenting the exact same symptoms, what would she recommend but she refused to answer that questing commenting that it was not their role to recommend but to present the facts and that it was for the patient to decided.  I agree but they are the ones with the training and understanding, much more so than the average patient and there is a lot of information and and it is usually all bad, to take in and I think it is a fare question to ask, so I did again and got the same response.

So I was told the possible benefits of chemo, it may shrink the tumour and make it slightly more easier for the surgical team to get at and remove. On the other hand, it may not!

And then the list of possible side affects , that went on and on and the only one I don't need to worry about is the hair loss!  So I signed the consent forms and now am on the circa three week waiting list before I head to Southend Hospital, at least I am getting to see all of South Essex, to start a 63 day cycle at 21 days per treatment cycle of chemotherapy and maybe by then the numpties at Broomfield will have sorted out what the problem is elsewhere with my heart or lungs or flabby belly and be ready to hack away at the offending little bugger - mind you, having said that I feel great today and I think we might be able to get back to normal and cancel all of these annoying wee hospital interludes.

(c) mouthfromthesouth.com
I have mentioned elsewhere about the gagging problem I have as soon as food enters my mouth and I have been 'learning' just to take the tiniest wee nibble and not each much of anything (apart from Crunchie chocolate bars - just to maintain my fuller figure you understand).  Well last night I couldn't be bothered, and you do know how much I like to cook, and decided to get a takeaway instead.  Sweet and Sour chicken for the boss, never varies bless her, and I decided I would just get some noodles in the hope that they would just slide down, ha, wishful thinking.  As soon as the first small forkful hit my mouth and the first noodle began to ooze its way down my throat the gagging reflex kicked in.  It was the worst one so far and I really thought I wasn't going to survive it as I stumbled towards the bathroom, no idea why as I have felt nausea on and off since this thing started but only actually vomited about three times, and as I got to the hall I hurled and a sticky gooey mess went all over the floor, thank gawd for wooden floors, and I think I may have dislodged the tumour, cos I feel great today, but it was a bit of a bummer at the time and poor Ishbel was as white as a ghost, what a fright she got.

But never mind she went back to her sweet and sour and left me to clean up my own mess, nothing disturbs Ishbel too much when she's eating.  I even asked her to sing Soft Kitty to me and was told to bugger off so I never bothered asking her to rub something on my chest, but at least my interweb Bestie Julia R Barrett sang soft Kitty to me via email later on, Ishbel are you reading that, Jules knows how to treat me .....

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Book Review: Overtime In the Woods by Ryan Sean O'Reilly

Look inside Amazon UK here 
Look inside Amazon US here 
A quirky little short story which has left me in a little bit of a quandary as I have no idea how to tag it! I wasn't sure whether it was a mystery or a thriller or a who dunnit ...

Rich Lacey is an employed  private investigator working for 'Bossman' who is trailing a guy through deserted country roads and into the backwoods of Michigan.

It needed to be a short story as I don't think there was much more mileage in it.  Having said that it was well written and the premise is one that we see all too often, especially here in the UK where investigators attempt to get evidence against those who have 'suffered' an injury and are then getting hefty insurance payouts or state benefits as they claim they are unable to work. Lacey's problem is that Rufus Stamford has gone of the grid moved from an urban area to a an area where the critters outnumber the humans, so how does he manage to get the evidence he needs to have the claim and ongoing payments suspended?  The investigation is further complicated by a chance meeting , or was it, when he attempts to find a motel for the night which then places doubts in Lacey's mind about the job he is doing.

For the paltry sum of £0.77 pence UK,  or $1.17 in the US  this is a diverting wee read that passes the time rather pleasantly.  It has a touch of fraughtness in it with Lacey second guessing his decision to follow his target off road and into the woods and then fearing for his own safety when he discovers that he is alone in the wilderness with a guy with a gun, does he survive and is his conscience pricked enough to .......

As I say below in my scoring the editing seems to have been done properly but there were no links, which is always helpful, but it seemed nicely laid out although, whether it is Mr O'Reilly or anyone else, even in a short story of 29 pages I do like a natural resting point that gives you a break.  There were a couple but you were already on to the next sentence before you actually noticed them.

Two grammatical errors; then the, instead of than the,  and couple places instead of couple of places so overall not bad as I have seen worse in mainstream publishing and by well known authors.

The book cover certainly gives you the plot in one picture but there is just something about it that I can't put my finger on, that really doesn't do it for me, sorry can't explain it any better than that.

On the strength of this though I may just be tempted to look at the other short stories put out by this author which can be seen here or here

Editing for Kindle: 4 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 4 out of 5
Page Count: 29 
Front cover Art Work: (related to story) 4 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Sunday, 9 June 2013

PRISM - GCHQ/NSA, Who Gives a Flying F**K?

So, the news has been full this weekend that apparently the NSA in America has been spying on it's citizens through a computer programme called PRISM and have been accessing people's GOOGLE, FACEBOOK and other social media sites, although the owners of all these companies have denied, well they would wouldn't they, giving access to their sites to the Agency; other than what they would normally do as required by law or warrant. So, that's in the US, but what about here in the UK?


Well, most of us on social media are signed up to all these sites and I can't think of one that is actually British, so therefore, we are, by default, signing on to our social media sites through our American cousins in Silicon Valley or Seattle or in some non descriptive nuclear bomb proof shelter in the desert somewhere. 


Now I don't know about you but have you looked at my twitter string or Facebook page or indeed my blog page, it's full of personal crap. My emails are normally me ranting to some service provider, usually a utility company and if not ranting they are full of boring mundane shit that no one wants to, or should want to read, although me and my Internet thingy BFF were messaging each other the other day about shotguns, in-laws from hell and setting up landmines around the approach to the house with sensors programmed for a specific person! I made a joke on one of the messages informing the security services that we were only joking, well one of us was, but I ain't telling you which one.

My point is, that even if GCHQ or the NSA were to look at that particular string I am fairly confident that I wouldn't have the SAS or anyone else storming the house or the office with stun grenades and gas, flinging me to the floor and cuffing me with plastic ties., (but if you do can you bare in mind I have a sore tummy after recent abdominal surgery that no gives a F**k about unlike Prince bloody Blundermouth Philip oh, and I have cancer, so be gentle on me if you do storm the place) No, I think they would look and say "Look, we've got a couple here talking about shotguns and land mines, and killing someone." Then they would hopefully look at our Internet history and emails and blogs and see that we are normal every day people who rant and rave occasionally about Big Brother our completely and utterly useless politicians, who should in fact be monitored for criminal activities on a daily and 24 hour basis, and decide that we are harmless venters who jokingly talk about serious stuff, including the Mother-in-Law, Politicians and the unfair System that Joe pubLic lives in from time to time, and THEN leave us completely and utterly alone in our own little worlds. 

Sure, I would be worried if it was an 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 type society and as much as some of our dictators, sorry I mean Prime Ministers and Presidents or J Edgar Hoover, would like to have seen most of the population locked up and the keys thrown away on most of the population, for what they said, did or wrote, we aren't quite there yet, I don't think. 

Off course the argument will then be put forward, yes Tom and therein lies the problem with allowing them to snoop on us now and to gather, collect and save this information on us from our private and personal (well as much as Facebook, twitter, google and blogging are our private little worlds and only those we allow to see it can see it, yeah right) Internet accounts and come the day when The Man does decide to really grind us into the ground, they'll have the information that 'we gave them'! 

Now look at your own Internet footprint, is it as boring and mundane as mine, are you really worried that Big Brother is looking at what you're looking at, or what you are saying through the various mediums, nope probably not. So why are all those folk screaming about the infringement of civil liberties then? As I understand it these men and women who are sitting in their little dark cubicles are looking for key words or phrases that could lead them to find terrorists who are intent on KILLING US. 

If that's the case, and I also realise that many will say that I am being a naive Buffoon and I don't understand the implications, well maybe. But, I do understand that if terrorists, killers, or even everyday criminals, including politicians, and lets not forget paedophiles can be stopped from carrying out these activities then I really don't give a fig how much of my Internet traffic the security services look at.  It does not, that I know off, restrict my liberty or my thinking in my everyday life. 

The only other comment I have on this is the Political one, where politicians, both from the Conservatives and Lib Dems, the parties in power here in the UK, and from Labour, who are hitting the airwaves and being quoted in the press, that this is a 'snoop to far' and are demanding questions be answered on this matter. This just takes party politics too far, again, as they would be the first ones or should be, to tell the other political parties too shut the F**k up, as they would if they were in power. Come on, Is it Me, or are these people just to dumb to be in positions of power?

And finally, I opened up my GMail inbox today to be confronted with this:

"2 people spied on you) - Safe*************** - Free tool that shows you who's spying on you."

Paranoia, really does take over the world at times and my only gripe is that no matter how rude I am to Facebook and Google and Uncle Tom Cobbly and all, they still insist on putting F*****g adverts on my F*****g timelines and web pages, now if the libertarians really want to help, help me to get these folks to stop putting F*****g adverts on my mail and timeline pages

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Book Review: Lucy The Wonder Weenie by Nina Clark

Look inside Amazon UK here
Look inside Amazon US here 

Got kids, Grand kids, or Nieces and Nephews? Then this is a 'must have'  to add to their book collection. What age group, hell any age group, I enjoyed it too and I am 57 (I think) and 4 of my grand kids all aged 7 loved it and so too did 'wee' Mollie our eldest at 10 years of age and they are all discerning readers I can tell you. In fact Mollie has reviewed a couple of books  here.

This is a lovely little book with drawings by Sara Pulver who has done justice to Lucy in her marvelous drawings throughout the book

Mollie and Shannon Reading Lucy The Wonder Weenie 
So, what's it all about then?  Well Lucy the ditsy Doxie likes  to lick everyone and every thing, her food, the walls, the floors, the kids, the neighbours and even other passing animals whether they are dogs or not.....

Holly has been to the library 

In the course of doing all this licking,  Lucy finds that she has a secret super power and so turns into Lucy the Wonder Weenie, but I'm afraid I am not at liberty to tell you what that superpower might be, otherwise it wouldn't be a secret and everyone knows that when you wear a mask and a cloak, you must keep your identity a secret from everyone.......

Shannon likes to read, even when getting her hair brushed
This really was a fun read and I am looking forward to sitting down with two year old Lacey Mae and reading it to her. I am sure she will enjoy it every bit as much as her big sisters and her two cousins

Note: we received an advance copy in the post all the way from BOSTON USA and the kids have all told me to tell Nina


You can connect with Nina at http://ninaclark.com/

or if you are Mummy and Daddy and you want to be tickled by the thoughts of Princess Penny head on over here: http://www.pennyromance.com/

Lucy The Wonder Weenie is available both as an ebook and in book form, enjoy it however you choose to read it with your little ones ......

Editing for Kindle: N/A
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5 
Artwork: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Friday, 7 June 2013

Book Review: Nothing Lasts Forever By Roderick Thorpe

Look inside Amazon UK here
Look inside Amazon US here
It was suggested I read this book by my twitter BFF Julia R Barrett as we had recently been discussing the new Die Hard Movie that I had not a lot of good things to say about, see here.

So, off I go and purchase the book,Nothing Last Forever, written in 1979 and as you can (just) make out from the cover, was the basis of the original Die Hard Movie from 1988.

There are a number of plot changes between the two genres, Maclane in the book is Joe Leland a retired cop now a consultant.  His wife in the film is his daughter in the book  and the bank being robbed in the film is an oil company in the book.

Other than that, we have a (ex) cop running about barefoot and bloodied over broken glass and up and down stairwells killing off the bad guys and gal's while the cops outside, when they turn up late to the party, are as confused and as bungling as they were in the film.  Having said that and having enjoyed the movie for what it was, the book was not to disappointing.  The book may have been written in 1979 but seems to have been set a few years before that as Leland/Maclane keeps drawing on his time as a fighter pilot in WW11.  The language of the book is quite stilted in places but never the less still flows and although having seen the film, there were enough little changes to make you keep turning the pages.

Leland also comes across as a much darker figure than Maclane in that while they are both killing people Maclane deals with it as is his norm, in all of the franchised films, with darkly but laughable humour whereas Leland who has a drink problem and has seen and done enough killing in the war would, I suspect, really like it all to stop, but knows that Gruber (same for movie and book) will kill all the hostages, including Leland's daughter.

There are a couple of plot twists in the book that completely changes the tone from the film and the ending is, well let's just say, a tad different, but all in all a good read and I suspect it would be more so if you are one of the few people on the planet who has managed to avoid the Die Hard Movie Franchise.

Editing for Kindle: 5 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 4 out of 5 (Mainly due to having seen the movie)
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Film Review: Takers (2010)

(c) IMDB
Takers is a 2010 movie that is in essence. a poor man's HEAT (1995) with Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman.

Takers is directed by John Luessenhop and stars Idris Elba, one of my favourite actors, alongside Chris Brown, Hayden Christenson (one of my least fav actors) and Matt Dillon.

Like HEAT we have a crew, led by Elba who through meticulous planning carry out high risk robbery using shock and awe tactics, where no one gets hurt.  At this point, again as in HEAT at the beginning, they are of the police radar and no one knows they exist.

One of the gang is in prison and is released, we don;t know why and it is never explained, but there was clearly a back story as all of the gang despise this guy, but he comes to them with a plan for one big heist on an armoured car, sound familiar.... but that it needs to be done the following week.....

By now they are being pursued by two cops one of whom turns out to be dirty, but it wasn't the one I suspected, but again there was no real depth to the characters as there was in the previously aforementioned movie.. but did I mention the cop in this movie, like Hoffman, was separated/divorced and that he had a daughter who he drags around on a tail on his day off and he had her for the day.......

There are a couple of shoot outs that were not worth the effort and a nod to the recent American remake of The Italian Job on the attack on the armoured car but really it was all flash bang wallop and they would have done better making a 'new' movie rather than try to rehash a recent classic.

The ending was predictable and boring with most of the gang dying and the surviving cop lying on the tarmac of an airport, where did we see that before. I wonder?

My rating: A Big Fat Raspberry, don't wast your time

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Book Review: Henry Wood Detective Agency By Brian D Meeks

Look inside: Amazon UK here
Look inside: Amazon US here
This is first in a planned three books on Henry Wood by Meeks.  It was a strange wee read, but not in a bad strange way.

Henry Woods is a Private Investigator who likes, when not investigating, to dabble in woodwork, he lives and works in New York and the year is 1955, just....

While recovering from New Year celebrations in his office, a woman enters; her father is missing and she needs Henry to find him..

As it turns out a second female client also has a father who is also missing and Henry has good vibes about one but not the other.  The missing fathers are an accountant and the other an inventor and Henry soon finds that their disappearance is linked with, it is alleged, the accountant having been keeping a secret coded journal on one of New York's mobster family Bosses...

Everyone is looking for both men, the journal and the codex that will unlock the information, and as the boss of the family is not liked by the other bosses who sense a weakness, this starts a killing war around the city with the other families trying to weaken and be ready to take over Tommy The Knife's area, if and when the DA and police get a hold of the journal and the codex.  Tommy will either be dead, or in prison.....It's a race to find it and the codex and of course the missing men while trying to stay out of the firing line and remain alive in the process....

The strangeness of the book comes in the form of a cupboard in Henry's woodworking workshop, nearly every time he opens the cupboard he finds things.  Clues to the case, objects and books from the future, including a DVD on cabinet making (if memory serves) but I wasn't clear if he got the player to go with it, but the whole thing is not fully explained.  I have spoken with Mr Meeks on Twitter and he informs me that all will be revealed in future books as to how  this arose and why,  and all will become clear.

So, we have a murder mystery suspense book set in 1955 with a bit of 'time travel' thrown in with these 'strange objects' and messages appearing inexplicably from the future. We have a real estate agent who after Henry's office is burned down is ready and waiting to rent him a new office, an office with an address on a business card that is given to Henry, while he is still in the first office, but do you know what, as strange and as disconcerting as the lack of understanding for these things occurring, it did not detract from the overall flow of the story of a detective trying to track down a couple of missing men while being dogged by the mob.  There were a couple of interesting characters the mob lieutenant Sal, for one and I loved this bit, a great line, 'Sylvia's expression was easy to read, so Sal continued, “My day job is being a thug; by night, I am a secret literary critic who saves people from poor prose." '

This isn't a long read lasting only for 212 pages, formatting on ipad and Kindle seemed fine and I had no real issues with it. There were a couple of spelling / grammatical/ missing words, three, I think,  that stood out, which I'm sure will be fixed in an update.  Over all a good read and he has probably dragged me back in to find out how and why the time travelling objects are appearing and their overall significance to Henry

Editing for Kindle: 4 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Plot: 4 out of 5
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

You can connect with Mr Meeks at:  https://twitter.com/ExtremelyAvg
and on his web site at: http://extremelyaverage.com/

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Our Vegetarian Day - Carrot and Coriander Soup and Mushroom Risotto

It wasn't planned, but today Ishbel and I had a vegetarian day, with the above meals.

I had planned to do the risotto yesterday evening but to be honest when I got home from the office after being off for a couple of days having had my Laparoscopy on Wednesday, my tummy has been so sore and I just couldn't be bothered to stand and make anything for myself but did manage to make a little cod, potatoes and veg in a parsley sauce for Ishbel when she got in from work later on Friday evening.... So the mushrooms had to be used today.

So, First up for Lunch - Carrot and Coriander Soup, so simple and quick and tasty

This is just for the two of us and gives us two bowls of soup and two for later, so just increase the quantities if making for more people

2 pints of good chicken or Veg stock 
1 large or a couple of small potatoes peeled and chopped
1 large onion peeled and chopped 
500 grams of carrots washed and chopped
2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons of ground corriander
Bunch of fresh corriander
2 tbls of good veg or sunflower oil
Maggi seasoning optional

Place the oil in a decent flat bottom pan large enough but not to large for the two pints of stock and heat.
Add the chopped onions on a medium heat and fry off for 5 minutes, without browning

Add the chopped potatoes and the crushed coriander and stir for 2 - 3 minutes

Add the carrots, stirring in and cooking for 2 - 3 minutes

Add the stock and bring to the boil.
Place a lid on the pan turn down the heat
and allow to simmer for around 20 mins to cook the carrots (If you want to,you can add Maggi or other taster of choice, or not, at this point)

Remove from the heat and here you can either transfer to a liquidiser or do as I do and just use a wand to liquidise the veg and bob's your uncle....

Whichever way you go, remember IT'S HOT

Chop up some fresh coriander and add to the soup

Serve with a couple of sprigs of coriander
and crusty bread, enjoy

Total prep and cooking time: 35 - 40 minutes

And for supper later in the evening - Mushroom Risotto

Again, this is just for the two of us and gives enough for two decent sized bowls of Risotto. I should point out that I usually use some dried porcini mushrooms and fresh parsley, but I forgot to get both today, so this is just with plain old chestnut mushrooms.....

What you'll need 

1 onion, roughly chopped 
2 cloves of garlic, crushed 
500 grams od chestnut mushrooms sliced 
1/4 pint of dry white wine 
2 pints of veg stock
Parmesan Cheese
2 handfuls of Aborio Rice 
2 tbls of Olive oil
1 oz of good unsalted butter 

Place the oil in a pan and heat on a moderate setting Add the onions and the garlic Don't brown the onions.  Sweat down until soft 

Add the mushrooms and cook until Browned and turning soft  

Add the rice and stir into the onion, garlic and mushrooms coating all of the rice in the oil

Add the wine and cook off allowing the rice to absorb all of the liquid.  This also burns of the alcohol in the wine.  Start adding the stock a ladle full at a time and allow this to be absorbed by the rice, before adding more stock.  Continue doing this until the stock is used and the rice is bulging.

To give it the creaminess of a risotto, add the butter and stir into the risotto.  I would also add the porcini mushrooms and a handful of chopped parsley at this point but had none so didn't.........

Serve, grating some parmesan for me, but not for Ishbel, and enjoy                                                                Total Prep and cooking time 40 minutes 

So, if you fancy a meat free day, which isn't a bad way to enjoy your day, have at it my friends, if you try them and you like them, why not come back and leave a comment, always glad to hear from you