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Brett H "pentangle" RSS Feed (Brighton)
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Downton Abbey - Complete Collection (Series 1-5) - 19-DVD Box Set ( Downton Abbey - Series One - Five ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - United Kingdom ]
Downton Abbey - Complete Collection (Series 1-5) - 19-DVD Box Set ( Downton Abbey - Series One - Five ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - United Kingdom ]
DVD ~ Hugh Bonneville
11 used & new from $54.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Annual Downton Box Set. 42 Episodes and Counting, March 30, 2015
The set this review was written for is the UK release of Downton Series 1-5. This is in Region 2 format and you will need a Region Free or Region 2 DVD player to play it. Also, it does not include the Christmas Special 2014 episode. The US version of this set, when it is released, will be Region 1 (USA) and will include the 2014 Christmas Special. You may well find this review attached to the US set, as that is what Amazon tend to do!

Series 5 of Downton Abbey follows the established tradition by being closely followed by the DVD set covering all the episodes to date. This includes the 42 episodes so far. There are seven episodes from the first series, eight each of the others, plus the 2011 - 2013 Christmas specials of which the first was a dramatic masterpiece, but the others have struggled to reach the same heights. It was a hard act to follow! We have yet to see the 2014 Special in the UK, which is the last episode in Series 5, so regrettably it is not included in this set which has been issued before it is aired to get the Christmas sales.

The five series so far have taken us from 1912 to 1924 and an exciting ride it has been. Series 1 started just after the sinking of the Titanic and a major feature was domestic concerns such as finding suitable partners for the Downton daughters, whilst the second series took us into quite different territory as Downton was converted into a convalescent home for injured servicemen. This series took us on to the end of the World War in 1918. We then enjoyed the first Christmas Special Edition which was probably the strongest single episode, and featured a very dramatic trial.

Series 3 went from 1918 to 1920 as the family adjusted after the war and life returned to more as it was in Series 1. However, there were financial pressures on the estate and it was clear that it needed to adapt to survive. Some members of the family embraced change more than others. The following Christmas episode saw the Crawley family in Scotland but finished in an unexpected tragedy which cast something of a pall over Christmas Day for those in the United Kingdom who saw it on the day.

Series 4 takes us further into the 1920s and it is clear that there has been some adjustment to the boundaries between those above and below stairs in terms of the rigid division which was clear in Series 1. The Christmas Special concerns the `coming out' of Lady Rose which is a quaint English customs by which young aristocratic ladies are introduced to society. Finally Series 5 is set in 1924 just after the election of the first socialist government in the UK. Romance is very much in the air, and in rather unexpected places!

To my mind Maggie Smith as the family matriarch has been the outstanding performer throughout with her witty and caustic comments although there have been many strong performances. Hugh Bonneville (Earl Grantham), Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) and Jim Carter (Carson) spring to mind, but to single these out is to do injustice to many others. The extra features on the individual DVDs of the individual series are also included here so there are several hours of these in addition to the screened episodes.

If you have been an avid follower of Downton Abbey since the beginning then four years on it is probably an excellent time to revisit the earlier episodes as we are currently doing. However, if you are not acquainted with the series then you really should get hold of this set. You don't know what you are missing!


FYY ® Magnetically Removable Hidden Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard Leather Case Smart Cover with Velcro Hand Strap and Card Slots for iPad Air /Air 2 (iPad 5/6) Red (With Auto Wake/Sleep Feature)
FYY ® Magnetically Removable Hidden Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard Leather Case Smart Cover with Velcro Hand Strap and Card Slots for iPad Air /Air 2 (iPad 5/6) Red (With Auto Wake/Sleep Feature)
Offered by fyycase
Price: $25.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looks Good And Light To Carry, March 18, 2015
I was really excited about this product as, although I have a cover for my iPad Air 2 and a Bluetooth keyboard, the latter does not fit inside the former, so I have to carry them separately. I wasn’t disappointed; the keyboard is ultra thin and fits inside the magnetic flip cover, meaning that I will no longer think twice about carrying my keyboard with me. Overall, the design is very stylish, with a black elastic that keeps the whole thing together, and it even incorporates space for a pen, credit cards and A5 notes. You really could use this as the one thing you pick up and take to business meetings. I also really liked that the design had allowed for the iPad’s front and back cameras.

A few minor things I thought could have been slightly better: without detailed instructions, I found the whole thing quite confusing at first –I couldn’t even find the keyboard! My other iPad cover also has a stiffer support for the screen. This isn’t really a problem when you’re using the keyboard, as, because the base on which the keyboard rests has a powerful magnet, nothing moves around. If, however, you’re not using the keyboard, it’s a little difficult to get the iPad to stay at the same angle and it does bounce around a bit under your fingers.

Overall, however, a great product and good value for money. In particular, I’m very pleased that it doesn’t add much weight and that in future I will only have to pack one item when going out!


Downton Abbey Season 5
Downton Abbey Season 5
DVD
Price: $14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Will Not Disappoint, February 7, 2015
This year's Downton Abbey treat takes us to 1924 and is set against the background of the UK's first socialist government having just been elected and Lord Grantham rightly suspects that they have no sympathy for him and his ilk. Many of the story lines of Series 4 and earlier are immediately picked up and Downton certainly hits the ground running.

The recurring theme of Series 5 is romance - past romance, present romance and the promise of future romance. There is plenty of it around, and sometimes in quite unexpected quarters, but I will not expand further on this theme as I certainly would not want to spoil the surprises for anybody! However, although romantic relationships are probably the dominant ingredient this time round there are plenty of other dramatic and unexpected developments to entertain.

The incomparable Maggie Smith continues to dominate whenever she appears, her caustic and witty comments superbly delivered. The good news is that she makes plenty of appearances in this series and more of the story lines involve her. Julian Fellowes, the writer, clearly appreciates how important she is to Downton.

One thing I particularly like about this show is the detailed research which has clearly gone into making it all as authentic to the period as possible. Hairstyles, clothes, accessories, cars and all the other props are absolutely right. Even less tangible issues such as the general attitude of the staff has clearly undergone a change with the passing of time. They are not nearly so deferential as they were when Downton started in 1912!

If you are already a lover of Downton Abbey then you are really going to appreciate this series which, to my mind, is stronger than Series 4. If you have not tried it yet, well, buy the box set to date and get started! You don't know what you are missing. As an added bonus it has now been announced that there will be a Series 6 for Downton.


Big Easy Read France 2014 (AA Big Easy Read France)
Big Easy Read France 2014 (AA Big Easy Read France)
by AA Publishing
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.95
13 used & new from $24.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Map, February 7, 2015
Even with the advent of satnav, you still need a good, old fashioned paper map in the car for overall route planning and to identify sites of interest to visit along the way. This map does the job particularly well. We bought it prior to going on a two week trip, wandering around France, and it did the job superbly. The three mile to one inch pages, which form most of this book, are sufficiently detailed that it is easy to find your way around, even off the main roads, where things can get rather complicated especially in France. I think this is an excellent book and certainly the best road map of France we have had - and over the years we have gone through quite a few.


Vanish Gold Oxi Action Stain Remover Powder 1.4 Kg
Vanish Gold Oxi Action Stain Remover Powder 1.4 Kg
Offered by NawDirect
Price: $49.89

5.0 out of 5 stars White Magic!, February 7, 2015
This is white magic in a tub!

It is so easy to use-just add a scoop to your usual wash for super whitening and brightening of whites. For nasty old stains you can pretreat by soaking the stained piece of the garment or even just dampening and then rubbing a little of the powder in then leaving for a few minutes before washing as above. Or you can soak for up to six hours before washing.

I have used the Pink Oxi Action many times before and had been pleased generally with the results but this is billed as being more powerful with greater stain busting power. I think that is a fair assessment. It does provide appreciable whitening and is good on tough stains like gravy and tomato sauce, though my curry stain, whilst much improved, will need another treatment. In fairness, I did not presoak so it might well have removed it completely if I had.

I am impressed and will buy it when I finish this tub. It's not a cheap product but you do get a lot in a tub (1.4 Kg) so it will last a long while.


The Little Book of Market Wizards: Lessons from the Greatest Traders (Little Books. Big Profits)
The Little Book of Market Wizards: Lessons from the Greatest Traders (Little Books. Big Profits)
Price: $12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Its Weight In Gold, February 7, 2015
In the dim and distant past I read two of Jack Schwager's books - Market Wizards and The New Market Wizards. These mainly consisted of in depth interviews with successful traders. What still sticks in my mind is just how diverse their methods were. In the extreme they varied between traders who made huge numbers of trades, often only lasting a few minutes, to one particular trader who had worked out a method of getting in and out of mutual funds (unit trusts) in a way that greatly advantaged him.

So that is probably lesson 1 of this book - every successful trader has his own unique style which suits his personality. It follows that within these pages you are not going to discover the answer to making your fortune as a successful stock market trader. You are probably doomed to failure if you try to slavishly follow someone's methods and you need to create your own style, which you are comfortable with, and which suits you.

However, that is not to say that there are not quite a lot of guidance as to what the systems of great traders have in common. These include money management (ie size of trades, don't bet too much on one throw of the dice), be prepared to cut losses quickly before they become unsustainable, but run profits as far as you can. Some are hard to adopt, an example being, do not become emotionally attached to a particular trade and be prepared to change your mind. This is a difficult one for most people.

So to summarise, this book is not going to make you a great trader. However, if you do already trade, it does pinpoint issues to look out for in your own style which you would do better to avoid. It is the summary of the important issues Schwager believes he has taken from his many interviews. This little book will only take you a couple of hours or so to read through, but if you have an interest in the markets you really will find it worth its weight in gold. I have been active in various markets for many years and I do think this is a book that will benefit people who are actively involved, rather than those who do, perhaps, just have a mild interest but no practical experience. The reason I say this is because if you have traded you will find it easy to relate to all the pitfalls mentioned as you will have fallen into most at one time or another!


Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2)
Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2)

5.0 out of 5 stars Well Researched Historical Novel, February 7, 2015
I first read Gods of Gotham, which is the predecessor to this story, a couple of years back. It was an excellent and original story, very well written, and I was delighted when I discovered that there was a subsequent book. However, it is not necessary to have read the predecessor to thoroughly enjoy this story although it is worthwhile doing so as it is such a good book.

One of the strengths of this author’s writing is that she has clearly gone to great lengths to research the background. Set in New York in about 1845, the descriptions are so good that the reader can really feel they are walking the streets, seeing the sights and smelling the smells of the locality. In many ways it is a depressing place. The population has been rapidly expanding as the Irish flooded in as a result of the Potato Famine, jobs and accommodation are scarce and there is much poverty and deprivation. Naturally there are plenty who wish to exploit the rest of the citizens to their own advantage.

This tale is, as with the Gods of Gotham, told by Timothy Wilde who is a member of the newly formed police force or a Copper Star as the police are generally known. This time he brushes up against slavers who are none to particular whether they are taking escaped slaves or free blacks who are citizens of New York. It was a despicable trade and one which anyone who has seen the recent film, Twelve Years a Slave, will be somewhat familiar with.

There is a lot of ‘flash’ which is the local language of the underworld and the poor. However, whereas in some books authors drop in the occasional foreign word to give local flavour, here it is much more pervasive and also much more intelligible since many of the words are somewhat familiar and the reader soon gets use to the colloquialisms.

Overall I thought this was another excellent offering from an author who writes very well and takes the trouble to research what she is writing about in depth. I would think there is plenty of mileage in Timothy Wilde as a character and I hope to read more about him before too long.


Philips Sonicare HX8211/02 Airfloss Rechargeable Electric Flosser
Philips Sonicare HX8211/02 Airfloss Rechargeable Electric Flosser
Offered by PCM Supply
Price: $89.95
11 used & new from $84.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Exceeded My Expectations, February 7, 2015
This struck me as something of a novel item so I was very keen to try it out. I am not a great fan of flossing and therefore use an assortment of dental probes to remove foreign bodies from between my teeth. The idea of a device, in appearance very like an electric toothbrush, which does the job is very appealing.

I initially tried this out using mouthwash in the reservoir. The result was a very fresh mouth, much like one had gargled with mouthwash. However, I did not feel it was a fair test of whether it will substitute for flossing and I left that test for the occasion on which I feasted on a meaty dinner. This always drives me mad as I hate having bits stuck between my teeth. This evening we tried goulash which is a dish which could have been designed for such a test.

The Flosser was very effective in removing the debris and running my tongue around my mouth afterwards I was unable to detect any remaining meat. The other advantage is that it is effective in clearing small gaps between teeth where it is difficult to get a probe. Overall I was impressed with the Power Flosser which I will be using on a twice daily basis in future. The only thing to note is that you really do need to keep your mouth closed whilst using it (unlike one of the illustrations) as it does tend to potentially spray a long way!


The Shaping of Water
The Shaping of Water
Price: $7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and Well Written, February 7, 2015
This is a novel set in Africa, written by someone who knows the continent well with all its troubles and evocative beauty. It spans a period of some fifty years, years which saw the shape of Africa change and change again and the lives of the various people who lived and worked there change also.

The "Water" of the title is the damming of the Zambezi River to create hydro-electric power for ,what was then Northern and Southern Rhodesia. It looks at the terrible effects the damming had on the lives of the native people who lived there. They were largely forcibly relocated to an area which made it much harder for them to live in the way their people always had. They did not benefit from the electricity generated either.

The novel deals with the effects of the ending of colonial rule, the rise of apartheid and the eventual declaration of Zimbabwe through the eyes of an Irish missionary, several white and some mixed race couples, and Natombi and her son, Milimo. This is not a political novel,though, rather one about change and its effects not only on place and time but on people and relationships.

One constant in the novel is the cottage, set above the lake created by the dam. It is purchased by Margaret and Charles while the lake is very new and is used by their relatives and friends until almost the end of the novel. Despite(or perhaps because of) its primitive state, it is universally loved by all and is seen by many as a place of rest and refuge. The other constant is a message of hope that comes to fruition through the creation of gardens and of finding one's own way through turmoil.

This is a very poignant and well written novel which I just had to keep reading. The characterisation is excellent and the backdrop of the evolving African continent is well painted for the reader.


Lillian on Life
Lillian on Life

5.0 out of 5 stars Works on a Number of Levels, February 7, 2015
This review is from: Lillian on Life (Kindle Edition)
This is a whimsical novel where a middle aged lady awakens next to her lover and reflects on the varied nature of the life she has lived to date.

Born and raised in Columbia, Missouri in an era when black servants were the norm in any white household, Lillian has lived in Paris, London and New York and has had to grapple with all the changes which affected society, and especially women in the decades after the Second World War.
This she has clearly done with some aplomb .

Her stories are entertaining and sometimes poignant. The novel is divided into a series of chapters with such intriguing titles as Leaving in order to Stay and On Not loving the Help.

This is not a deep or complex novel about complicated plots or high minded ideals. Rather it is the honest reflections of one woman living through a period of great social change but commenting on it only as through her own life, not in any sociological sense.

It would be unkind to describe this novel as light entertainment. It is that, but not only that. It can be read and appreciated on a number of levels, depending on one's mood and current situation. It's good to come across a novel like that occasionally.


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