Wednesday 31 July 2013

Today's Review: Relentless Lemon Ice

This flavour has been out for a while now, but I've so far sworn off sugary drinks. Today, however, the temptation got too much for me, so I took a naughty plunge into this sugary, lemony, energy riddled drink.

Thankfully, it is very nice. With most lemon drinks you get that distinct dry taste, and you can often end up being more thirsty than when you began. This is not the case with Relentless, the lemon flavour is certainly bold, but the overall drink is smooth and refreshing. It's got all the energy of a normal Relentless packed in too, so it's a very tasty pick me up.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Today's Review: The Lone Ranger

A Jerry Bruckheimer produced Disney movie with Johnny Depp? What is this, Cowboys Of The Caribbean? Well, kinda, but it's actually The Lone Ranger.

Based on the good old fashioned American icon, The Lone Ranger is a bang up to date explosive action western. Armie Hammer stars as John Reid, a prosecutor en route to his hometown when he stumbles into an escape attempt by notorious outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). After narrowly escaping death, and gaining a prisoner in the form of native Indian Tonto (Johnny Depp), John and his brother set out with the Texas Rangers to hunt Cavendish down. But when things go south and John is left for dead and alone, it is up to him to pick up the pieces and fight for revenge and justice, aided by the now-escaped, and quite eccentric, Tonto.

Yes, this is a revenge movie at heart, and all the cliches are there. The double crosses, the twists, the damsel. It was actually turning into a bit of a slog getting through it by the end. Clocking in at 149 minutes, the story certainly drags its heels, dealing too much with quiet scenes that do less to develop characters and explain plot than to simply show off Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow-esque character.

This is where part of the problem of the movie lies. The performances are nothing too special, although an almost unrecognisable Fichtner does do a good job of playing the villain. But Johnny Depp is clearly the major selling point of this movie, and is clearly meant to be mirroring his success as Jack Sparrow, and he just ends up being a shadow of that character. In The Lone Ranger, Tonto is a sidekick, and Depp is clearly too much of a character to play second fiddle, and watching him play a more subdued character is something of a jarring experience. There are certainly moments where Depp shines, and most of the comic relief and slapstick come from him, but as a character on the whole Tonto is not very engaging.

However, as drawn out as the plot is, when the action starts up it certainly is entertaining. The action scenes are wonderfully put together, and the final moments in particular were very fun to watch, once all the exposition and cliche had been put to one side. This is a Hollywood movie at heart, and Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski have certainly proved their chops in the past when delivering the action in the Caribbean movies. The Lone Ranger is no different in that respect, it's just that it deals with a far less engaging plot and some really very boring characters. I don't regret watching it, but there's certainly better stuff I could have done with my time.

My rating: 2/5

Monday 29 July 2013

Today's Review: The Scratch On My Monitor

I managed to fling my weight pretty heavily into my monitor yesterday, knocking it off the furniture it was perched on and onto the floor below. A moment of panic ensued, first concerned with what valuables may have been destroyed by the falling LCD, and secondly the potential breakage of the monitor itself. Thankfully, nothing was busted, my monitor still worked, and was soon returned to its rightful place.

It was only this morning that I noticed something was up. There is a blackish streak near the top centre of the screen. I brushed it off at first, convinced it was just a build up of dirt and that the screen needed a good clean. But brush off it did not. It's not really an indentation, it's more of a graze, a permanent dark scar emblazoned over everything I see. So here I am, writing this review, on a lovely white page, and this scratch is staring at me, a constant reminder of how I failed to fulfil my duties as monitor protector.

It's not all that bad though. It's only really noticeable when there's white behind it, and considering the circumstances it could be a whole lot worse. There could be a group of dead pixels surrounding it, or the screen could have landed on something sharp and decided to give up altogether. I'm glad the outcome is what it is, but either way having a mark on your monitor is not the best. However, since I can't afford a new one, it's certainly not the worst thing I could be looking at.

My rating: 2/5

Sunday 28 July 2013

Today's Review: Mr. Kipling Strawberry Fancies

These were brought out some times ago, most likely in preparation for Wimbledon. They are strawberry flavoured fancies, as opposed to your regular french fancies. I always thought the pink ones in the original packets were strawberry, but apparently my tastebuds were deceiving me, and they were actually just vanilla flavoured fondant with pink icing.

Well, it's the same with these, except the actual sponge cake is strawberry flavoured. It really gives a nice flavoursome kick to the whole affair. While the generic sponge is easily the worst part of a standard french fancy, adding a bit of flavour lifts it up almost on par with the fondant. Almost. Perhaps the best thing is that the strawberry sponge doesn't overwhelm the rest of the cake. It all kind of melts together for a smooth, creamy, vanilla strawberry taste. I definitely fancy some more of these. See what I did there?

My rating: 5/5

Saturday 27 July 2013

Today's Review: Mars Mix

Whatever happened to Mars Planets? You know, those little balls of Mars chocolate goodness, with either a crispy, chewy or soft malty centre? Well, I haven't seen any for a while, and apparently we were meant to have forgotten all about them, because now Mars are shoving their new "Mars Mix" in our faces and assuming we'll be excited.

The reality is that these are essentially just two thirds of the original Mars Planets. The crispy, Malteser like pieces have gone, so we are just left with either malt or caramel, just like in a Mars bar. I thought new iteration of chocolate were meant to add variety, not take it away. But instead we are left with what seems like a Mars bar cut in half and rolled into chocolate covered pieces. Not that they don't taste nice, but if you squish the whole pack together, you'd just be left with a misshapen Mars bar, and that's a bit boring. Essentially, they're a load of balls.

My rating: 1/5

Friday 26 July 2013

Today's Review: Cadbury Crispello Vanilla Velvet

It's high time for another version of Crispello, the lady-oriented, naughty but nice, figure friendly Cadbury bar. The original was a double chocolate affair, sporting wafer with a chocolate centre, wrapped in more chocolate. Now the filling has been replaced with creamy vanilla stuff, that Cadbury have decided to liken to velvet. Nothing appeals to the ladies like velvet (at least that's what I assume the Cadbury marketing department is thinking). 

So there are the innards. This Crispello has that same basic anatomy of the double chocolate. Three separate pieces, so Cadbury can pretend that it's supposed to be spread out into three sittings, although it never will be. But each piece is a perfectly formed chocolatey casing, filled with some very smooth, and not too sickly, creamy vanilla stuff. It's certainly all very nice to eat, but like the original Crispello, it's not really for me. There's a lot of airy fairy wafer, that I would rather have filled up with chocolate. But for those who like the double chocolate Crispello, this is a very nice variation.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday 25 July 2013

Today's Review: Merba Apple Pie Cookies

Apple pie cookies. All I had to do was read the packet, and straight in the basket they went. Apple pie and cookies could well be the best dessert combination after cheesecake and brownies, and here they were all wrapped up for me. Well, these cookies are not quite the all American, leave on your windowsill to cool, inviting all kinds of miscreants to swipe it apple pie, but are instead based on "the famous apple strudel recipe". Oh well, pie, strudel, there's not much in it really. 

So here they are. certainly strudel shaped, and they are definitely very apple pie like. They're loaded with chunks of apple, raisins and a pinch of cinnamon, and the whole thing certainly does taste like an apple pie all mixed up with cookie dough, it's very nice. There is a problem though, in that the textures of both cookie and pastry appear to have been preserved, so it seems like a constant struggle between chewy and crumbly, and it all mixes up to make the overall texture a bit odd. Still, they taste like apple pie cookies, and they're certainly nice, perhaps it just wasn't a completely perfect combination after all.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Today's Review: Monsters University

One of my favourite times of the year is when a Pixar movie comes out, and I have been cautiously optimistic about Monsters University since its announcement. I think my unrest lay with the fact that it's a prequel, and since we already know how these guys end up at Monsters Inc. it might kind of take the edge of the story. Thankfully it's a good movie in its own right.

Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) is a monster with a big dream to become a scarer, a well respected monster who ventures into toxic human children's rooms and harnesses their screams for energy. He enrols in the Monsters University scare program, where he meets fellow potential scarers like Randall (Steve Buscemi) and James Sullivan (John Goodman). However, despite Mike's book smarts, it's clear that he may not have what it takes to be a truly scary monster, so he enrols in the Scare Games with a rag tag fraternity of students in an attempt to prove to everybody that he can scare with the best.

Monsters University is a true underdog movie, with a lot of the old college movie cliches present. Despite taking place almost exclusively within the campus grounds, Pixar have done a fantastic job of creating a fantastic environment, packed with colourful and hilarious characters. The down on their luck fraternity of Oozma Kappa provide some great one liners, and the rounds of the competition they take part in result in some  ridiculously fun slapstick. The movie is packed with jokes, some that clearly only the older viewers will get, and it really did a good job of holding my attention and keeping me chuckling.

The only problem I really had with Monsters University is that it didn't really measure up in comparison to the first one. Sure, this movie does a great job of introducing the characters in a different light, and really letting them develop, but Monsters Inc. was a very well rounded movie based on an incredibly clever and unique concept. In comparison, Monsters University is just a fun college movie with the same characters, although it does have a lot of heart and a great message. Every recurring role is reprised fantastically, Goodman and Crystal especially do a fantastic job at portraying the developing friendship between Mike and Sully. 

While it may not be as great as the original, Monsters University is actually a very good attempt at a prequel, especially with the vast thematic difference. It's packed full of funny moments and great characters, and it's definitely proof that Pixar still have what it takes.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Today's Review: Mango & Lime Ribena

Summer, sun, holiday, etc. The perfect time to release tropical drinks flavours! Ribena have done just that. They've unleashed a pineapple and passion fruit, as well as this mango and lime number. I haven't found a bottle of the former yet (I haven't really looked much), but I managed to pick up the latter. I have expressed my dislike for the mango fruit before, but I certainly do love a mango juice free of chalky textures. Limes are okay too, I guess, though a little sour.

Well, this Ribena is actually very nice. The taste is very smooth, and the flavours are pretty bold. There are distinct noted of both mango and lime, with no dry aftertaste that you may get with other exotic fruit based drinks. All in all, this is a very good addition to the Ribena line up. I hope to try a pineapple and passion fruit one in the future.

My rating: 5/5

Monday 22 July 2013

Today's Review: Hotel Chocolat Strawberries & Cream Puddles

Hotel Chocolat certainly is a classy joint. All those swirls and pieces they put into their slabs and drops that are sized disproportionately to their prices. But damn, their chocolate is good. Plus if you're on O2 you can enjoy a little bag of these strawberry and cream "puddles" for free, so the price is no longer an issue. Yay!

As you can see, "puddles" is a fancy term for chocolate buttons, because that's what these are. Little drops of white chocolate, creamy goodness, with some lovely strawberry flavour swirled in. The flavours are very bold, perhaps a little too bold for such a small piece of chocolate, this packet is certainly not something you can devour, it would get too sickly too quickly. But perhaps that's a good thing. 

The other slight problem is that once the chocolate is gone, there are slight remnants of hard, puppy strawberry bits. Kind of threw off the aftertaste for me, but hey, at least it's proof that the ingredients are real and good quality. These puddles aren't perfect, but they're certainly tasty.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday 21 July 2013

Today's Review: The World's End

It's been a full six years since the blue, chocolatey Hot Fuzz, and almost ten since the red, strawberry Shaun Of The Dead, but finally the Blood And Ice Cream trilogy is complete, with minty green alien romp The World's End. Wright is back, directing Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and a whole host of British talent.

Pegg plays Gary King, a man in his 40s who hasn't really grown up much since he was 18. After finishing high school, he embarked with four of his friends on The Golden Mile, a pub crawl around the 12 taverns of Newton Haven. Sadly, they didn't make it, but now Gary is intent on getting the old gang back together, returning to their hometown and conquering the mile once and for all. Unfortunately, his friends have grown up quite normally and settled into quiet, responsible lives, so it's quite hard to get them in on the festivities, especially when something extremely odd is going on with the town's residents.

The World's End is very much in keeping with the other two instalments of the trilogy, a blockbuster movie squeezed into a relatively rural and boring area of Britain, and it is pulled off with great success. There are some absolutely fantastically choreographed fight scenes, worthy of the finest Hollywood flicks, but instead confined to cramped pubs, with guns and swords replaced with pint glasses and bar stools. Everything is so distinctly, satirically British, proving that Wright, Pegg and Frost have truly refined their craft over the last two movies.

Not only is this movie fantastically directed, the cast is flawless too. Pegg and Frost put in great performances as always, but there are also great turns by the likes of Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine,  Eddie Marsan, David Bradley and even Pierce Brosnan. The five hogh school chums in particular are wonderful, their conflicting personalities and increasing drunkenness interweaving with each other perfectly. It can be hard to really relate to five main characters at once, but this movie does a great job of introducing us to everyone, and establishing a camaraderie between the boys that really pulls the whole movie together, with plenty of hilarious, quotable lines chucked in.

The only problem I had with the movie was the plot. It starts out quite slow, which I can forgive as it establishes our heroes very well, but once things get in full swing the story kind of splutters and starts, sort of hanging in a limbo and never really escalating. There is some explanation as to what is going on, but it's paced quite awkwardly, with little bits explained in-between fight scenes and comedic banter. Still, it all comes together in the end, and The World's End is certainly a very good and well written movie in its own right, it just doesn't feel as polished as Shaun or Hot Fuzz.

The World's End is a hilarious, ass kicking, fitting end to the Cornetto trilogy. It may have a few problems, but I came away from it quite satisfied. Wright, Pegg and Frost have done us Brits proud like.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 20 July 2013

Today's Review: Tesco Peanut Butter Cones

It's warm, so the ice creams are out in full force at the supermarkets. While browsing for cheap alternatives I came across the Tesco "cones", which are basically their version of Cornetto. They had the usual fare on offer, the strawberry, the chocolate, and the mint, but also a peanut butter flavour, surprisingly. Since I love the peanut butter Ben & Jerry's I had to grab some of these to see if they measure up.

These peanut butter cones contain peanut butter ice cream, topped with toffee sauce and peanut pieces, wrapped in a cone. The cone is pretty much the same as a Cornetto, so you know what you're getting there. The choice of toffee sauce on top is a little odd, but it certainly didn't work against the overall flavour. The ice cream itself, I have no faults with at all. It is distinctly peanut buttery, and very smooth and creamy. I was expecting, since it's an own brand ice cream, that the initial flavour would wear off the further into the cone I got, but once I'd made my way through the toppings, there was a nice surprise in the form of a core deep inside the cone itself.

These cones are great. They taste delicious, and the flavour is consistent throughout. If you're a fan of peanut butter products, you certainly can't go wrong with this, especially as you get four for £1. 

My rating: 5/5

Friday 19 July 2013

Today's Review: Tango Flyers

Tango seem to be venturing into some odd stuff lately. There was that odd Tango foam stuff, and even a body wash. But the most prevalent seems to be Tango's foray into the candy market. I've seen Tango chocolate, but have steered clear of that thus far. But these Tango Flyers caught my eye. They're liquorice tubes filled with "Tango crystals". which is a fancy name for orange sherbert. Despite not liking liquorice, I gave them a go.

Unfortunately, and predictably, they're mostly liquorice, and it's a lot. The sherbert itself isn't too bad, but it's completely overwhelmed by the dark, bitter taste of the tube. If you like your liquorice, with just a bit of fizz, then you'll probably love these. But they're not for me.

My rating: 1/5

Thursday 18 July 2013

Today's Review: Penn State Trail Mix

Trail mix is another popular American snack that doesn't seem to have taken off over here. Sure, we have our chocolate raisin and peanut mixes, but today I found a variety of proper trail mixes from Penn State, with various godly combinations of different nuts, chocolate beans, yoghurt drops and cranberries.

I went for the "salty and sweet" variety, which features chocolate flakes, salted peanuts, dried cranberries, yoghurt coated cranberries and almonds. I vowed to myself that I would pace myself, spread the bag out over a few sittings, but it was so good that I ended up going back to it straight away. The mixture of sweet and savoury, the combination of flavours, it all comes together for a sweet, filling, and delicious bag of treats. If you're in the mood for a snack and can't decide what to eat, these trail mix bags give you a great combination.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Today's Review: Chillax

Though it is a widely reviled word, "chillax" is certainly a nicely formed portmanteau. It crams twice the relaxation sentiment into the space of one word, and now we have all that crammed into a small can, in liquid form.

Yes, Chillax is another one of these "relaxation" drinks most likely aimed at dangerously caffeine riddled burnouts or recovering alcoholics. Really it's just a blend of fruit juices, and that's certainly what it tastes like, albeit watered down. There's really nothing special here. It tastes alright, certainly like apple juice, but there's a but of a funny aftertaste. I certainly didn't feel more chillaxed than usual after this, but I guess I'm just quite a chillaxed soul.

My rating: 2/5

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Today's Review: Lion Peanut

Everyone loves a Lion bar, especially David Mitchell. The regular chocolate version is a classic, and I remember enjoying the white Lion a while back. But today I found this peanut Lion in the wild. Still as untamed and chocolatey as normal, but now full of peanut goodness.

I couldn't quite make out exactly what this bar consisted of, 'cause the ingredients were all in another language. But there's certainly a good combination of textures running throughout this bar. It's crispy, crunchy and smooth, with some nice bold peanut butter style filling going on between the biscuit in the middle. I love peanut butter chocolate, and this bar was no exception. The flavours blend together wonderfully, and complement, rather than drown out, each other. Certainly a very nice chocolate bar.

My rating: 5/5

Monday 15 July 2013

Today's Review: Door Hinges

Doors are very useful things, at least they are when put into walls. They allow us to enter new places, and then shut out anything else that we don't want in the new place, like drafts and monsters. But if that door doesn't have hinges, there could be all kinds of trouble.

I know there are kinds of doors that don't require hinges, like automatic ones and those Japanese sliding doohickeys. But they're not really useful compared to swinging, hinged doors. Sliding doors are not the best to hide behind in a zombie apocalypse, and you certainly can't burst into a room and surprise somebody if you have to wait for the door to slide open, or painstakingly do it yourself. 

So yes, swinging doors are the best, and without their hinges they would just be... I don't know, either free standing bits of wood that fall over when you touch them, or extremely difficult to open. A hinge can suspend a door at any angle, leaving just the right amount of gap for external light to get in, or for you to spy on someone. Door hinges are fantastic little contraptions that make our doorway experiences what they are.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday 14 July 2013

Today's Review: Holding A Baby When It's Hot

Babies are generally quite nice to have. They sleep a lot, and while they may cry a lot too, it's often easy to fix, and that fix mostly involves holding them. Be it feeding, carrying or just cuddles, I spend a lot of time holding my baby. On a normal day that would be fine. But on a hot day, it's hell.

Carrying anything around on a hit day can be unpleasant, but the thing about babies is that they're like miniature radiators. They like to stay warm, and it always results in a sweaty patch on my clothing whenever I manage to peel my daughter off me. Also, when it's hit, I get agitated quite easily, and nothing helps to do that like a small, wriggling, hot, crying object on my lap. I'm feeding my baby as I write this, and the bottom half of my body feels like a sauna. Holding babies when it's hot is an awfully sweaty experience. Hopefully one day they'll invent some firm of baby ice pack. Until then though, I shall continue being sweaty and annoyed.

My rating: 0/5

Saturday 13 July 2013

Today's Review: Table Fans

When the heat is on, it's time to bust out the fans. Fans come in various shapes and sizes, from free standing, to ceiling, but since I'm on a budget most of the time, I've only ever really been able to afford the little oscillating table fans.

It's extremely satisfying, after navigating a hot and humid outside world, to plonk yourself down in front of one of these bad boys and let the cool air blow through your hair, and probably waft your body odour around the room. But, after a while, these tiny fans don't really cut it anymore. If there's more than one person who wants to be cooled, there will obviously be arguments about who get to shove their face as close to the blades as possible (that's why they all have guards on, I'm sure). This is because these fans are only truly satisfying at close range. Mine is sitting by the TV at the moment, turning itself around to provide cool air to the entire room, but all I get is a weak little breeze on the side of my leg to let me know it's actually still working.

But table fans aren't all bad, I suppose. They do provide some relief from hot weather, and save me from completely melting into the sofa. It's just there are so many other options out there, all the way up to the holy grail, air conditioning. But, for a cheap solution, table fans try their best. It's just that their best isn't that great.

My rating: 2/5

Friday 12 July 2013

Today's Review: Wall's Mini Ice Cream Chocolates

Summer is in full swing now, and that means ice creams, ice creams everywhere. But the problem with ice cream is that it sure does melt quickly in the blazing sun. If only there was a way to enjoy your favourite ice cream bars with none of the mess. Wait, there is! The new Wall's ice cream inspired chocolate range is on hand to deliver all that frozen goodness in non-frozen form.

Well, yes, granted, if you want an ice cream, the cold temperature is probably one of the main factors you want to experience. But for those who have sensitive teeth, or... are allergic to ice(?), these may well be a good choice for you.

I first tried to Mini Milk chocolate lollipop. This comes in chocolate flavour too, but I went for vanilla, since there is enough chocolate in the others to be getting on with. The first thing you'll notice is that it's certainly quite small, because I have normal sized hands. Still, it's a nice size for a little snack, although the price doesn't really reflect that. It's basically a vanilla/white chocolate style chocolate lollipop, with some nice creamy stuff inside that is trying to mimic the texture of ice cream. It sort of pulls it off, but it's not like the real thing. Still nice though.

Next up was the Cornetto. Again, very tiny, but I was quite impressed with how faithful this one is to the original. The cone is the same, and the nuts sprinkled on top are identical. It's still filled with the same creamy stuff found in the Mini Milk, but it blends in really nicely with the genuine Cornetto ingredients to deliver a very nice chocolate. It's just a shame it's so small.

I saved the best 'til last though, or so I thought. I love Magnums. The ice cream inside is fantastic, and the way the chunky chocolate casing breaks apart makes me feel happy inside. These Magnum chocolates certainly give you the most bang for your buck in this range, since you get three reasonably sized chocolates. They're basically Magnum shaped, but without the stick, and filled with the creamy stuff that is present in the other two. Even the fragility of the chocolate is retained, although this one just seems to break into two distinct parts. But the chocolate itself is dark, for some reason. The milk chocolate on Magnum ice creams is sublime, and to have the smaller version assault my senses with a bitter flavour left me with a sour taste, both literally and figuratively. 

So all in all, these little chocolates aren't bad. They're certainly very small compared to their price tag, and they're not perfect, but they're a nice idea pulled off with a fair bit of success. You can't beat the ice creams though.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday 11 July 2013

Today's Review: Mu Chocolate Milkshake

Mu are a relatively new company, I've only ever seen their range of cheeses on the shelf. I haven't tried those, but I assume they taste sufficiently cheesy. But now Mu have branched out, into milkshakes of all things. Well, it's dairy, so I guess it makes sense, though I don't see any Dairylea or Philadelphia milkshakes.

Anyway, this milkshake announces itself as "thick and tasty", and also "low fat". I can't truly assess the latter, because I don't have scientific food testing equipment, but I can certainly confirm the former. This shake is pretty thick, more so than your Frijjs or Yazoos. It's also very creamy, a quite delightful texture. Perhaps the best thing is the flavour. There is a problem with some most shakes in that the featured flavour is a little too intense, and makes the whole experience a bit sickly. This Mu milkshake, however, has a very mellow, yet clearly chocolatey taste, and it really blends in with the creaminess to create a very nice shake. Give it a go.

My rating: 5/5

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Today's Review: Grapes

I like grapes. I hate wine, but I sure do love grapes. These small, juicy berries are the perfect snacking fruit. Don't want to waste time peeling a banana or spitting the seeds out of your watermelon? Grapes have got your back. Just grab a bundle, pluck them easily from the vine, and pop those suckers in your mouth.

Grapes come in a variety of different colours, and while I'm not too fond of the green, they're certainly not awful. Red and black are my favourite though, and once I've eaten one it's hard to stop. If I eat a fruit cocktail, the grapes will probably be the last thing I'll eat. They're invariably juicy, and I think I've hardly ever met a grape that looks a bit off. Perhaps the best thing is that they're cheaply available all year round, so they'll always be welcome in my house.

Grapes are delicious. They don't take time to prepare, or require special care while eating, they're just simple, ready to eat, juicy fun. Even when they're dried into raisins, they're still fantastic.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Today's Review: Chokablok Excréme Brulée

I have experienced nothing but love for Chokablok's products in the past, and today I decided to delve back into the range and try out this pretty looking bar. It boasts chocolate filled with tiny butterscotch pieces, swirled with a créme brulée flavour white chocolate, and finished off with gold dusted wafer pieces. Very posh, and really rather sparkly. But looks aren't everything, everything looks the same swimming through your lower digestive tract, the question is does it taste good?

The answer is, as expected, a resounding yes. This variety does lack any of the crunchy wonders that lend a different texture to other flavours, but it is still very nice. The two different chocolates blend together very nicely, and there ar a variety of different flavours in the bar that all combine to a nice creamy slab of chocolate. Definitely worth a try.

My rating: 5/5

Monday 8 July 2013

Today's Review: Neapolitan Ice Cream

There are so many fancy ice creams around nowadays that it's easy to overlook the classics. There may be nothing better than the latest Ben and Häagen Robbins peanut butter belgian cheesecake with a fudge cookie centre, but all that stuff can be expensive, and somewhat sickly. For those of you who like their ice cream more vanilla (well, like, a third vanilla), you can still get some interesting flavours all in one portion with neapolitan ice cream.

Yes, it's the classic ice cream block that consists of the three staple flavours of ice cream: vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. Some places make you choose between the three, but neapolitan gives you them all. Will you devour it willy nilly, or eat each flavour as separately as you can (like I do)? Either way, with neapolitan ice cream the flavours are classic, bold, and with no hidden surprises. Many different companies have produced these striped blocks of creamy goodness, so I don't think there's any real standard across the board, but pretty much every neapolitan ice cream I've tastes is pretty damn good. You can't go wrong with the classic flavours, and you certainly can't go wrong with sticking them all together. Neapolitan ice cream rules.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday 7 July 2013

Today's Review: Hay Fever

Summer is definitely here. I know this because my summer sense is tingling, and by that I mean my entire face is tingling. Also streaming, and itching. I have hay fever.

I never used to get hay fever. My summers were full of carefree, childish joy, skipping through fields and burying my face in wild flowers. Well, not quite, but I certainly could have done that. But over the past few years my face has managed to become itchy and swollen at the mere waft of pollen. I don't even have to go outside for my eyes to start itching like hell.

But there's nothing I can do about it. I take tablets every day, which certainly takes the edge off, but I still find myself walking around looking like I've been sobbing in a corner somewhere, sneezing at the most inappropriate moments. Hay fever is awful, so awful that it makes me dislike summer. No one should dislike summer.

My rating: 0/5

Saturday 6 July 2013

Today's Review: The Blogger App's Ability To Publish Posts

I got home from a long day at work yesterday, and was about ready to get some instant shut eye. But I still had my review to write, and since the computer was taken, I wrote the review on my phone, using the Blogger app.

The first thing I noticed is that the app now adds my pictures into the body of text for me to write around, instead of tacking them on at the end. This is pretty useful, as I don't have to go back and edit the review on the computer to get it right. Well, I assume it turns out alright, I won't know this time because the damn app didn't publish my review when I told it to.

It's happened before, I've pushed the "publish" button to be greeted with a nice error message. No biggie, hitting "retry" normally does the trick. But my eyes were so heavy last night that I assumed that perhaps the app would do what I told it to without further errors or delays. I guess I was wrong, because now there's a day's gap in my currently unbroken review streak. Or is there...?

Either way, I still attest that the Blogger app is pretty rubbish. Be it with picture problems or the fact that whole posts just don't get published, it's not a very nice thing to work with.

My rating: 1/5

Friday 5 July 2013

Today's Review: Tomorrow

I come bearing news of the future, because I have invented time travel, not because I'm writing today's review on the wrong day thanks to shitty app performance. But I digress. Here is a completely accurate review of tomorrow.

I think the most important thing to mention is that the world doesn't end, I know that's a worry for a lot of people. But there are no meteorites  nuclear weapons or solar flares. Life carries on as normal. No world peace declaration either guys, sorry.

As for where I live, the sun will shine all day, and I will go for a picnic in the park, which is very pleasant. Then I'll have to leave early to go to work, which is not pleasant. Thankfully I will not be involved in any accidents, like the explosion of a train in Canada, or the crash landing of a Boeing 777 that will take place tomorrow.

So overall, tomorrow will be so so. Sunny and only slightly boring for me, and the rest of the world will probably yo yo between inspring and horrific events, as always. Just another average day. But hey, at least we won't all become extinct.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday 4 July 2013

Today's Review: Despicable Me 2

Yes, Gru is back, but more importantly, so are his Minions, because they're the real money maker in this franchise, the most annoying plentiful, popular secondary characters since Rayman's Rabbids. Shudder.

Gru (Steve Carell) and his girls are living the good life now that he has given up villainy to focus on being a father. While searching for legitimate business options, he is abruptly pulled into the headquarters of the Anti-Villain League by secret agent Lucy (Kristen Wiig). A dangerous serum is on the loose, and the League need the help of a man who can think like a villain. Will Gru accept the task and become a true hero?

Well, of course, there wouldn't be much of a movie if he didn't. But for some reason we're then treated to a large segment of the movie taking place in a mall, among various other set pieces that appear to be there for no other reason than to inflate the flimsy plot. Of course, there are segments containing Minions doing their funny slapstick stuff at regular intervals, enough to distract away from the lack of substance the rest of the movie has, and for the most part the Minions don't do a bad job of creating comedy. They were certainly getting some big laughs in the cinema. It just seems like Despicable Me 2 is completely saturated in them, when I was really looking forward to seeing our hero and the girls in action.

But it was not to be. Character development is very thin on the ground. Gru's turn from bad to good in the first instalment was wonderfully done, but now he's taken on the daddy role everything feels quite comfortable. There's certainly a new dynamic in the introduction of Lucy, but a lot of the time Gru is just wandering around stressing out about the kids, which also has no real bearing on the main story. Don't get me wrong, the performances are all fantastic. Carell brings great life to the role as before, and Wiig is fantastic, especially as she seems to be pretty much playing herself. It's just that these actors really don't have much to work with, most of the time only squeezing in a few lines before the next Minion sequence.

Still, Despicable Me 2 is certainly not awful. It looks good, and there are some genuinely funny slapstick moments and some nice action sequences that pull it all together. It just lacks the heart of the first one, and seems a lot more like a shameless cash in to sell more Minion shaped merchandise. Hey, it could be worse, they could just make a movie all about the Minions. Oh, wait...

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Today's Review: The Smurfs Haribo

Hey, it's summer, time to release all the kids movies and tie in as much sugary, furry and noisy merchandise as possible. So here we have a bag of Haribo Smurfs, plastered with a sticker telling all the hyper kids that the new movie is out soon. But what are these Haribo Smurfs? Well, they're all blue, but there are three different hat colours to choose from. Also head colours, because apparently it's hard to just colour the hats on gummy sweets. There's white for your regular Smurfs, red for Papa Smurf, and Smurfette's luscious golden locks.

Not that my taste buds could tell the difference between the three. Sure, they have different colours, but they all taste blue to me. The sweets are certainly nice, but I'm used to my Haribo bags having a bit more variety, especially in the case of Starmix and Tangfastics. Still, I knew what I was buying, thanks to the handy little window on the front, so I can't really complain that there's only one kind of sweet. I just wish the flavours were a bit more distinguishable. 

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Today's Review: Dairy Milk Strawberries & Creme

It's summer time, Wimbledon time more specifically, and nothing screams British and tennis than a lovely helping of strawberries and cream. Cadbury have obviously noticed this trend, hence the appearance of this limited edition strawberries and creme flavour. I assume it's creme because putting double cream in the middle of your chocolate would be quite messy.

Anyway, nothing surprising here, given the flavour. It's your standard Dairy Milk bar, but filled with a nice creamy filling and strawberry flavoured syrup type stuff. It's certainly quite a smooth and creamy flavour, but the downfall with this bar is with the strawberry stuff. It's just a little too heavy for my liking, leaning almost towards the consistency of a Cadbury Caramel. As such, the flavour is somewhat overwhelming too, so while the chocolate and cream portions are just right, the strawberry makes it taste just a little bit sickly. Make no mistake, I still polished off the whole bar in a short time, but it's certainly not the nicest variety I've tried. So give it a go while it's still around, in the few days of summer we might have left.

My rating: 4/5

Monday 1 July 2013

Today's Review: White Clothing

There are many different colours of clothing, but only one that contains all the wavelengths of the visible spectrum. White clothes are bright, dazzling in the sun, and they'll pretty much go with anything. Put on a white t-shirt and you'll be laughing all the way to the well stocked rainbow chinos aisle.

But white clothes are not for me. I never used to wear white tops, as darker clothes concealed my rotund figure. If you have man boobs in a white top, they're definitely gonna show. But now my body mass has decreased to a reasonable size, I have found my other main gripe with white clothes - stains.

Stains aren't good on any kind of clothes, I know, but at least dark colours let them blend in for a while. When you get a stain on some white clothes, be it food, mud, grass, blood(?), it is going to be severely noticeable right away. I bought a white t-shirt the other week, and during my second time wearing it today, I managed to drop a tiny piece of food. In normal circumstances it would be fine, barely noticeable. But now this shirt has to be scrubbed until the stain is all gone. A few years ago I bought a pure white jacket for the princely sum of £40. How many times did I get to wear it before stains ruined its dry clean only surface forever? Twice. I don't even know why they bother giving school children white shirts to wear. The amount and frequency of stains that appear, all schools should probably just use dirt brown and lawn green for their official colours. 

White clothes suck. Though they may make choosing an outfit easier, you can be sure they'll show off your unflattering figure, before latching onto anything nearby that will leave any kind of embarrassing stain. I think I'll stick with the blues and blacks, thank you very much.

My rating: 1/5