Posts Tagged ‘review’

Time travelling back to Shanklin

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2012 at 11:07 am

When the possibility of theme parks, spa breaks and multi-store shopping are around, being asked to spend the day in the Isle of Wight doesn’t exactly match up. Even the name sounds dull. Mainly made up of retired couples and pensioners, it’s not exactly Thorpe Park, nor is it as modern as Westfield’s. However it does host two amazing festivals each year, and it did give us Mark King, arguably the world’s greatest bass player. I ended up agreeing to go with my family, with hope that I could be pleasantly surprised.

When arriving in Shanklin, the south east corner of the island, there was an imminent feeling as if we had stepped back in time. A Morris Miner buzzed past us as I was trying to fix my blackberry from wavering in and out of signal. I had instantly started counting the hours we had left until we caught the evening ferry home.

We decided to start off the day with an interesting game of crazy golf on the Shanklin beach front, costing about £3 for the five of us to play. The Isle of Wight obviously had not heard about VAT rises yet, not that we complained. It was lovely to hear the waves crashing against the sand while we played amongst the locals and some other visiting families, even if the golfing ground wasn’t level and the golf balls kept running back to their starting points.

When we handed back our golf clubs to the owner, he kindly directed us to where we would find the amusements and ice cream shops further along the beach. While enjoying some traditional rum and raisin cones we sat on the yellow sandy beach and watched the yachts and ferries in the distance. We felt like we were on the film set of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when we noticed some young children running out of stripy beach huts to be entertained by a Punch and Judy show. With the sound of the small road train hooting on its way past the beach in the background, you can recognise that it really is the year of being proud to be British!

Before heading out to lunch, we walked along the top of the cliffs of Shanklin beach, where the view is breath-taking on a clear day. On one side you can make out the beautiful White Cliffs of Culver and Bembridge Downs, and on the other you can see Portsmouth. I can see why people visit just for the coastal walks!

We then drove to the even quieter town of Godshill where we stopped off at the Willow Tree Tea Gardens, situated next door to a vintage toy memorabilia museum advertising at £1.50 per entry. Sat in the gardens of the tea room, we enjoyed some lovely (very English) cream teas and scones, that don’t skimp on the jam! If you want to visit an idyllic tea room with beautiful award winning gardens, then the Willow Tree is definitely worth paying a visit. Just be sure to book if you are going in the summer months, as I was told by the waitress that it is a favourite place of both the locals and visitors from the mainland.

After a fabulous lunch in Godshill, we then went back to Shanklin to explore the Old Village in the south side of town. The picturesque cobbled streets and restaurants are hidden around grade two listed thatched cottages and tourist shops. If you are to check out the old town, then the Old Rock Shop is a must! They have every traditional British sweet you could think of, which are displayed in large glass bottles on shelves, where the shop keeper will shovel out and weigh your rhubarb and custard’s for you. The shops selling china dolls and Victorian dolls house furniture gave us the sense we were in the wrong era as we walked through the dainty village.

As the evening got nearer and darker we were told by friendly locals that it was the best time to visit the Shanklin Chine – a gorge in the Cliffside, carved out by a fabulous waterfall and gushing stream. I would recommend going in the evening as the beautiful walk is illuminated with fairy lights and lanterns. It would also make a lovely spot for a romantic late night walk, especially with the benches that look over the stunning view we saw in the morning.

We then headed back to the old town to indulge for dinner at The Crab Inn – a local favourite. Although the atmosphere was rustling, loud and busy, everyone was friendly and the staff were more than helpful.  Picnic benches could also be seen outside the dim-lit restaurant with clear views of the cobbled street and the famous sweet shop. The food wasn’t as artistic or adventurous as a dish you would be served in London, but the restaurant was satisfying and a perfect end to a busy day.

To be honest the Isle of Wight surprised me, and any previous misconceptions from friends suggesting it was the blame for their ‘awful childhood holidays’, were completely forgotten. I found there was plenty to do and I also enjoyed not being glued to my blackberry for the most part of the day. On the other hand, I don’t know if I could manage a week – there is only so much sugar rock and crazy golf I could take. However if you are looking for a nice quiet day out to relax and enjoy the traditional things in life, I would definitely recommend visiting the island. Seeing as the red squirrels never left, I would believe they equally agree.


“I’ll have what she’s having”

In Uncategorized on November 21, 2012 at 9:39 pm

From being completely confused about wine to not knowing the difference between a Margarita and a Martini – when out drinking, we generally just settle with what we know. So how can we stop resorting to ‘another vodka and coke’? Bethany Fisher (soberly) reports.

You’ve been queuing up for what seems about forever until you hear the famous words ‘What can I get you?’ Does a sudden blank come to mind followed by ordering the same drink you have religiously bought since you turned 18? Don’t worry, you’re in the majority! However a life isn’t a life at all if you’re having after work drinks in a swanky bar, and still ordering what you did at college.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a simple rum and coke, but it’s always great to have variety. After all, you wouldn’t just own one pair of shoes would you?

Therefore I decided to do some drinking in a bar – for your benefit (obviously)!  After testing out a selection of different drinks I would then master up a simple out of five rating for the taste, strength, price and overall look of each drink. After a fish and chip tea, my stomach was well-lined for the evening ahead.

My favourite drink of all time is a simple gin and tonic, but for you ladies I decided to do some experimenting. Mark Gill, cofounder of the London Cocktail Society said that if I liked gin, then I would most probably like a Negroni, Aviation, or a Tom Collins. Considering one is made up of three strong liqueurs and the other sounds like an old man, I decided to order a classic Negroni.  At £8 it is expensive for a drink, but quite fair for a cocktail. The zingy orange taste mixed with sweet vermouth and gin was to my surprise, delicious, and a perfect drink to start off with (even if it did look like oil).

For this gin-inspired cocktail I would give it

Taste – 4
Strength – 3
Price – 4
Look – 1

Next I wanted to try one of women’s favourite spirits – vodka, but mixed with something other than coke or lemonade. Mark said that white spirits and fruit juice work best together, as well as with carbonated drinks. After seeing what fruit juices they had on offer, I finally ordered a single vodka and cranberry juice for £4. Although vodka isn’t my favourite spirit, I was delighted they went really well together, as well as getting one of my five a day!

For this (slightly) healthy drink I would give it

Taste – 4
Strength – 4
Price – 5
Look – 3

I was then stuck on what to choose next. Mark informed me that if you are ever clueless about choosing drinks, then you should just ask the advice of the bartender. After all, they are the experts. Mark also said that the most popular drinks are classic cocktails. So after asking the bartender’s advice, I settled with a very glamorous strawberry martini. Priced at £6 it was quite reasonable and looked fabulous in its tall glass with strawberry decorations on top. It was sweet and fruity and reminded me of summer holidays with the girls. I ended up ordering two after completely forgetting where I was – or what important work I was supposed to be doing.

For this strawberry sensation I would give it

Taste – 5
Strength – 3
Price – 4
Look – 4

I asked Mark what his favourite drink was, and he said it was an Old Fashioned because it is so simple and easy. When the bartender asked if I wanted it shaken or stirred I panicked and picked the latter. The dash of bitter and whiskey mixed with sugar, cherries, orange and lemon was extremely strong, but different – in a good way.  That was until I got to the bottom, and sipped pure whiskey. I should have gotten it shaken. On a good note – I can’t wait to order my whiskey-cocktail when I’m out with my lad mates next. They will think I’m a drinking genius!

For this bitter beauty I would give it

Taste – 4
Strength – 5
Price – 4
Look – 4

Although the London Cocktail Society’s motto is “One martini is all right, two is too many, three is not enough”, Mr Gill recommends that you should drink in moderation if you are on a diet. Not like my evening then!

Although most of the drinks I found were not ridiculously priced, for those of you burdened with student debt, my advice would be to order spirits with soda and lime as it always keeps the cost down.  However, while vodka soda and lime was lovely, gin and soda should be avoided like the plague!

There are also a few terms that helped save me during the evening when choosing my drinks. When the bartender asks if you would like it ‘on the rocks’, it simply means having your drink poured over ice.  A chaser is a drink taken immediately after another drink, and something ‘straight up’ is a drink that is chilled in a cocktail shaker and strained. Oh and some personal advice – always ask for it to be shaken, not stirred.


If you are looking for further inspiration, check out the favourite drinks from the glamorous, rich and famous: 

  • Jennifer Aniston likes to let her hair down with a Margarita
  • The Queen happens to enjoy a Gordon’s Gin and Tonic (with three slices of lemon)
  • Johnny Depp relaxes with a Bourbon Sour
  • Kylie Minogue likes a Lychee Martini
  • Marilyn Monroe adored a classic Champagne (…with aspirin)
  • Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell are often seen sipping Champagne Cocktails
  • Paris Hilton parties with Tequila
  • Julia Roberts enjoys a Scorpino (vodka and lemon sorbet!)
  • Renee Zelweiger likes a Cosmic Messenger
  • Will Ferrell kicks back with a Corona
  • Christina Ricci choses Chardonnay
  • Kate Hudson likes to choose between Tequila or wine
  • Barrack Obama enjoys a very American Bud Light
  • Madonna drinks Pomegranate Martini’s
  • Eva Mendes loves a Screwdriver (Vodka and orange)
  • Vince Vaughan likes Vodka and Red Bull
  • Anne Hathaway often orders a Skinnygirl Margarita (Tequila, lime and Cointreau)
  • Dita Von Teese is lucky enough to have a cocktail created for her – The Cointreau Teese
  • Mary Kate Olsen likes to chill out with a white wine spritzer

The Sugar Hut experience review: Masons, Sugar Hut, Brentwood, Essex

In Uncategorized on November 21, 2012 at 9:31 pm

The only way is Essex (if you don’t mind queuing an hour for the toilet and spending more money on your drinks than your outfit).

It’s the end of October, and the cold wind is splashing the rain all over my new heels. Thank god I don’t have to wait in the queue. I had already found out that there’s a high probability you won’t even get close to the bouncers on a Saturday night, so I’m glad I reserved a table at Masons first, the joint restaurant next door.

After arriving a bit late, the waitress at reception happily located us to our table in a cosy nook at the back. On the way I notice that not one table is empty, and everyone is dressed in their best. I presume they all had the same idea; a two course meal at Mason’s automatically gives you VIP entry into the club – which means no waiting in the rain, and a streak-free Essex glow.

At a glance, the menu horrifies me with its double figures beside each dish – unless you count a side salad as a fulfilling meal. I finally decide on the chilli tiger prawns and the vegetable lasagne, which were quickly delivered to my leather placemat. I have to admit the food is worth me being penniless for the night, as the crispy cheese topping was to die for and the portions would put Jamie Oliver to shame.

After the meal we all pay £10 to receive our VIP wristbands and queue jump straight into the club – before being confiscated of all chewing gum, to protect their ‘expensive décor’. A bit drastic in my opinion considering the beautiful historic building is destroyed with mismatched wallpaper and sticky floors. Don’t even get me started on the garish Buddha statues.

After much pushing and shoving (from other guests may I add) we finally make it to the outside bar. It would have looked beautiful with its cosy gazebos and candle lit tables – if it could actually be seen through the thick cloud of nicotine. Mick Norcross (the owner) could also have taken into consideration when designing the club, that cobbles are not a girl’s best friend when wearing heels. Stumbling to the bar I stumble even further when the barman tells me the price of a gin and tonic. At £8.15 it would shock a Londoner.

Shamefully I take my drink to the main DJ room hoping to myself it will last the rest of the night. At 11:30pm the club is at its busiest, and I can barely move. Dancing is off the cards then.

We then decide to find the toilets, and after half an hour of looking we get to a horrifically long line of whingeing girls. I think we found them.  Two in fact – in the entire club. As we get close to the front of the queue a fight breaks out between two Essex blondes in front of us. As a stiletto narrowly misses my face, we decide it’s about time we head home.

Unless you are a dedicated fan of TOWIE or like to be ripped off with average drinks and moving space that battery-farmed chickens would disapprove of, I wouldn’t pay the Sugar Hut a visit. However the restaurant was lovely- just don’t travel there for a salad.

Paranormal Activity 3 – Review

In Uncategorized on November 21, 2012 at 9:19 pm


The public will need to turn their night lights back on again, as the prequel to the paranormal pandemic has hit the big screens.

Tuesday 1st November 201115:30 BST


Young sisters Katie and Kristie showing us how the story began…Paranormal Activity 3

Paranormal Activity 3
  Production year: 2011
  Country: Rest of the world
  Cert (UK): 15
  Runtime: 84 mins
  Directors: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
  Cast: Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown and Christopher Nicholas Smith

Joost and Schulman’s prequel takes us back to how the horror all began in the haunted household, but this time uses new characters and camera tactics to create a new dimension of tension. The stepfather (smith) acts as the main camera man to the film, where he sets up cameras around the house when strange things start to happen. His character is a professional wedding movie maker; therefore his ‘director’ role in the film is more realistic than the characters in the previous paranormal films. Dennis (Smith) is able to show the audience more than ever, by using swivel cameras between two rooms to build suspense.

The two young sisters, Kristie and Katie acted most of the horror scenes connected with the ‘imaginary friend’ Toby. This figure stayed throughout the whole film, giving you an insight to what the evil spirit was. The movie was very much like the first two, using a slow build up of suspense throughout the first half, and then dramatically increasing towards the end with a shocking finale. However, I feel this film brought more psychological horror, as well as some mediocre gore, making it more thrilling than the last two. During the film it was painstakingly silent in the cinema, much different to the noisier, even laughable scary moments in the last two paranormal films I saw at the cinema. Ultimately, the cinema experience was more hiding ‘under your seat’ than ‘at the edge of your seat’, which was noticeable when coming out of the cinema, as everyone was waiting inside the foyer for their rides home, rather than out in the dark.

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