Review – The Red Lion, Northop. 19th October 2012.

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This evening was my third meal in recent memory, at the Red Lion pub in Northop, Flintshire.

I’m not a regular guest at the establishment, but that has good reason, due to the first experience being a poor one, which delayed a return prior to the much better second one. Interestingly, I was perfectly happy with everything in that next visit.

I must remember that these earlier visits are both insignificant, as I am basing my shared opinion on the last visit I have made to the pub.

Presumably due to our reasonably early ‘tea-time’ arrival of 16.30, the place was practically empty. This normally leads to both a promising quality and speed of service. It didn’t.

In fairness, we weren’t exactly waiting an eternity to have our orders taken or to have dishes delivered to the table. The quality of service, however, was rather sub-standard.

Post-drink serving, I opted for fish and chips, with a portion of ‘normal’ peas, as opposed to the mushy kind, which were featured in the sparse menu. As it is a pub as opposed to a multi-Michelin starred restaurant, I’d accepted the lack of variety, and the fact it was very much going to be a basic menu – the lack of vegetable-based or even ‘healthy’ meals was a little disappointing, though.

For my 2 year-old son we ‘mutually’ decided on chicken nuggets with baked beans and the same home-made chips my girlfriend, Emma, and I had included in our main courses; she ordered curry with a half and half mix of rice and chips.

Like similar venues, the Red Lion has a deal on all week to entice custom; a 2 courses for 2 people for £12 offer is very reasonable, and perhaps goes some way to explaining the bog-standard variety, or lack of.

Deciding on starters rather than desserts, Emma had garlic mushrooms, and I had the soup of the day. This serving riled me a little. The carrot and coriander soup was perfectly edible, but I tend to anticipate a warm bread roll on the side, as opposed to a slice of bread, of which the texture suggested could have been left on out on the kitchen side for far longer than the duration of preparing the starter.

Another thing that was disappointing at this stage, was the fact that we had kindly requested that the child’s meal arrived with the starters. It didn’t. We were then abruptly informed that it would ‘be coming when it’s ready’. In fairness, maybe the member of staff was ill-informed and didn’t realise that we had specifically asked for it to come prior to the stage we so rudely enquired about it’s whereabouts.

Eventually it arrived, not long before the other main courses. One thing that certainly wasn’t disappointing was the portion sizes, most notably the child’s meal. For £3.95 he did receive more than enough to satisfy his appetite. Unfortunately, some ketchup was obviously too much to ask for, as it took staring at and providing unimpressed looks towards the waitress for 10 minutes to remind her that she’d promised to ‘just go and get some.’

As for the food, it was absolutely fine. One thing I do like about the Red Lion is that the food does help maintain a ‘village pub’ feel, as it generally appears to be fresh produce.

The sheer conflict in different areas of the dining experience make it almost impossible to provide a generalised rating, so breaking it into factors is the most accurate method:

Service: On the whole, this was really quite poor. There was generally ‘service with a smile’, but the lack of quality of doing the job was disappointing to say the least.

Price: As mentioned before, this is very reasonable. The bill came to around £20 for a couple of 2-course meals, a child’s main and drinks.

Food: Fine. Portion sizes were great, food was appetising enough. Cold, plain bread being served on the side of soup is a bit pathetic, though.

Overall: I would recommend eating there, because you do get value for money on the table, and service another day may well be at least satisfactory.

Address: The Red Lion, 3 High Street, Northop, Mold, Flintshire CH7 6BQ

Tel: 01352 840 808

Review: Skepta – Make Peace Not War

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After releasing a number of free tracks in the last couple of months, the self-proclaimed King of Grime has dropped the second single from his forthcoming fourth studio album, The Honeymoon.

When I saw the title, I had half-expected to hear a deep tune, complete with meaningful lyrics, possibly inspired by last August’s London riots and the like. But this was a huge misconception. Instead, Make Peace Not War is an upbeat, and kind of cheesy ‘Hip-Pop’ type track, full of self-praising lyricism from the Tottenham emcee.  The song does receive a bonus point for the sampling of C+C Music Factory’s Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) in the instrumental, though.

Whilst Skepta discusses important subjects such as fashion, jewellery and his now affluent lifestyle, there is no mention of warfare or the suffering of others. Despite this, the lyricism features Skepta’s usual wit, with lines such as ‘these other guys just ain’t got the stamina, me? I rock ‘n’ roll like Noel Gallagher’ standing out.
 

The visuals for Make Peace Not War have also been released, and are quite entertaining, with cameos from T4 and Radio 1 presenter Matt Edmondson and 1Xtra DJ Mista Jam, amongst other friends from the business.

On the whole, the track isn’t actually that bad. It is obviously another attempt to follow up his biggest hit, Rescue Me, which peaked at number 14 in the UK chart back in 2010, and has the potential to do so. It should also be popular in the clubs – but what it won’t do is satisfy fans of grime music. However, he has often claimed to try and balance the more commercial sound that is required to be successful in the mainstream, whilst not forgetting the genre that gave him his popularity, and his recent free tracks seemed to target his more ‘underground’ fan base.

How well his new album charts upon release will probably be the defining point in his musical career, as he will certainly be looking to advance on last year’s Doin’ It Again, which hit 19 in the album’s chart. But in the meantime, the Honeymoon may be over for this single.

Check out the video for Make Peace Not War here.

Release Date: 29th April 2012

Product Review – KEEN footwear – Infant Coronado Shoe

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American shoe manufacturers KEEN were founded in 2003 by Martin Keen and Rory Fuerst. They produce a wide range of footwear, from sandals to casual shoes. Their range is available to men, women and children.

The first pair of shoes created by KEEN were in fact a sandal which also designed to protect the toes of those wearing them, featuring a black bumper which covered the front of the sandal.

This black bumper is also included in the design of the product I am reviewing – the child’s Coronado  shoe.

My son is like every other 16 month old infant. He runs around, trips and bumps into things on numerous occasions throughout his daily routine. So as you can imagine, the black bumper featured on the Coronado shoes is a bonus on top of the stylish design.

The Coronado shoes are produced using ‘vulcanised eco-friendly construction’, which means my son has a pair of longer lasting and hard wearing pair of shoes, which were also made causing minimal damage to the environment.

Whilst I’m in no position to comment on whether or not my son’s little pair of shoes have played a big role in speeding up global warming or not, I can say that there is no signs of wear and tear after a few weeks. The canvas upper seems very easy to clean anyway.

The Coronado shoes do look quite bulky, but aren’t in fact overly heavy. However, they seem to have successfully corrected my son’s occasional habit of walking on his toes

The sizes available in the infant section range from 3 to 6 (in UK sizes). There are also a number of colours to suit boys and girls, such as blue, pink and olive. Olive was my selection, as I, being the fashion guru that I am, felt the colour would be the most versatile with different outfits.

My son is unable to comment on the comfort and fitting of the shoes, but KEEN claim the fit is ‘true to size’, so this hasn’t seemed to be an issue. The EVA footbed included in the design of the shoes also allows me to presume that they are fairly comfortable to wear.

As for the price, Nature Shop‘s £24.95 isn’t really too hefty when looking at other brands and producers of good quality footwear. After all, it is extremely important for us to take care of our feet, especially our children’s.

To view the Coronado or the rest of KEEN’s infant range  – click here  

Mr ShaoDow Gets Stronger

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Mr ShaoDow (pronounced Sha-Ow-Dough) is an independent artist from Oxford, who certainly has a unique sound, as well as being versatile in his lyrically intelligent, multi-syllable flow. He takes his name from his expertise in Shaolin Kung Fu, which he studied after travelling to China alone at the age of 18. It was there that he discovered music, and it appears he hasn’t looked back since.

On his journey so far, ShaoDow has single-handedly sold 4,000 copies of his CD across the UK. He has headlined the o2 Academy in his hometown, and appeared on Tim Westwood’s show on BBC Radio 1Xtra. On top of that he has supported the likes of Skepta, Devlin and Chase & Status and was recently asked by ‘Wearing My Rolex’ artist Wiley to support the Manchester leg of his UK tour.

Not a bad effort at all from a man who is his own manager and record label.

The self-confessed ‘multi-genre artist’ is set to release his new single ‘Get Stronger’ after enlisting the services of Grime scene veteran Ghetts.

The single will be available on Friday 3rd June, with the official video, an original animation from Stone of Fluid Anims, being premiered by the UK’s leading online broadcaster, SB.TV, on Saturday 4th June.

The energetic ‘Get Stronger’ is produced by Mr SnowMan, who has mixed in a bass filled mix of Dubstep and Grime, which complements the high powered lyricism, as well as giving the track the durability of being popular with more commercially minded listeners as well as setting an underground rave alight.

Despite the prolific feature of Ghetts, who drops an impressive verse on the track, ShaoDow certainly isn’t outshone in any way, as he and Ghetts both successfully take on what is described by ShaoDow as ‘a topic everybody can relate to’, with three intelligent and angrily projected verses, and an even angrier and surprisingly catchy chorus.

There is also a remix of the single, which is ‘a Dubstep/Rock/Drum & Bass invention created by talented artist/producer AK’. The remix is another track that would be well received on the dance floor, but isn’t comparable to the 3 minute adrenaline rush that is the original.

The release will be completed with an additional song called ‘Stay Away’. This is another ‘banger’ produced by Mr SnowMan, which could easily have been a release in its own right, as opposed to a B-side. This track features a quick-fire, skippy verse from ShaoDow followed by Ghetts again, who’s input on this track is arguably even more impressive than on ‘Get Stronger’. The track is completed with a decent feature from Birmingham MC ‘Vader’.

If you are a supporter of UK music, then 3rd June should be an important date in your diary as this single is well worth getting hold of.

For more information and updates on ShaoDow, visit his official website – http://www.MrShaoDow.com

Look out for a review of the official music video on or after 4th June.

Visiting The Venustempel

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The Venustempel – The first museum of it’s kind

 

 

Amsterdam’s sex museum, The Venustempel (Venus Temple), is the oldest of its kind, being the first one opened in 1985. It is located at the heart of the busiest part of the city, Damrak.

Whilst some may think such museums are sordid and in poor taste, The Venustempel was not intended to be a tacky money maker for tourists to visit. Their website states that ‘there were museums for practically everything but sex’ before this museum was opened. They also claim that the point of the museum is to show ‘the most natural thing in the world’ as it is; something that has been ‘translated into a thousand and one different shapes and forms in the course of the centuries.’

The museum boasts an impressive, artistic collection of erotic pictures, paintings, objects and more, all gathered together personally by the museum owners, and then displayed for public viewing.

On your visit to The Venustempel you will witness how sex and indeed eroticism has evolved through time, from Greek and Roman artefacts, to galleries of pornography. There is also a Madame Tussauds style tribute to 1950’s sex symbol Marilyn Monroe’s famous blowing white dress moment in 1955 film The Seven Year Itch.

Marilyn Monroe's famous moment

Perhaps the most entertaining parts of the museum are the numerous human-size figures, who display different kinds of sexual acts. Some talk and some move, others are behind glass; particularly the majority of the display within the ‘Red Light District’ exhibit, which portrays a history of the famous area of Amsterdam, with the women behind their windows.

The museum is open from 09:30 until 23:30 and takes around 45 minutes to an hour to get around; which is great value for money given the admittance fee is just €4,00.

Visitors to the museum must be no younger than 16, and it is advisable to keep an open mind before going in and looking round, as parts of the museum are not suitable for those who are easily offended.

             Museum Information

  • Open daily from 09:30 until 23:30
  • Admission is €4,00
  • Strictly no under 16’s
  • Address: Damrak 18
    1012 LH Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Telephone: +31 (0) 20 622 8376
  • Website: http://www.sexmuseumamsterdam.nl/

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