Monthly Archives: October 2008

My Top 10 Board Games of All Time

What could be better than playing a great board game with your family and friends. When I was a kid we used to play for hours and we always had a great laugh and I can also remember getting upset when I lost and I can also remember the buzz I got when playing Monopoly and I had a pile of money and loads of houses and hotels. Obviously I always tried to get a hotel on Mayfair but owning property on Mayfair, whilst good, did not always bring in the most cash when someone landed on it. Thats why if I could get houses or hotels on the “reds” I was happy as I always found that this brought in the most money for me !

I still play board games to this day and I think more families and friends should start playing. It’s much better than watching TV and you can have a great laugh and some serious fun by playing a board game. It brings families together and in these days when each member of the family tends to do their own thing playing a board game is a great way to get the family bond going again and spending some quality time together. Of course, Christmas is a good time to get the board games out if you are bored of all the Christmas repeats on TV.

Here are my all time favourite board games:

1. Monopoly

Monopoly is the absolute timeless family game. It’s a game about strategy, chance, luck and ultimately about greed.

Invented during the Great Depression in 1934, Monopoly has since been translated into 26 different languages and has sold over 200 million sets worldwide. It’s a small wonder that most people have grown up with Monopoly.

Monopoly, with its thrilling property-owning rules and objectives, is highly educational. For early Monopoly beginners of seven years, it encourages arithmetic skills. At the same time it teaches older players about money management, property management, basic economics, the art of negotiation and compromise (just how much are you prepared to trade for Mayfair). In many ways Monopoly also mirrors the lessons of life–chance and luck can throw even the best-laid plans astray, and if you ‘re not prepared to take the big risks you’re unlikely to be life’s big winner.

Yet Monopoly is also great fun and for some reason its simple rules don’t tire or become dull from repetition–truly the mark of a timeless classic.

The only significant downside to Monopoly is that the full game can be a very lengthy event easily lasting hours, but Monopoly will probably be the most played board game you will ever own.

2. Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit is a classic board. Answer trivia questions on general knowledge, sport, history, geography and many other categories. The game is suitable for between 2 and 36 players so you can have great fun with the board game. You may even suprise yourself with how much trivial information you actually know!

3. Pictionary

I last played Pictionary last New Years Eve. We started about 1am and finished about 3am. Pictionary is the game where your pencil does the talking. You and your team try to guess words by sketching clues to each other. It could be a place, a person, something you do, something easy, something hard. Its a race against the clock as you try and sketch what you want them to say, or scribble it down in a series of clues – tease it out until they shriek it out ! This is a great game for a laugh and is guaranteed to get everyone involved.

4. Scrabble

I started playing Scrabble many years ago and its a game that once you are into it is a really good game. Of course, you will get your oponent trying to invent a word that does not really exist so have a dictionary to hand to avoid any dispute! This game is probably for those people who like doing crosswords and such things but anybody can play and its really good fun.

5. Deal or No Deal

I first played this newcomer to board games about 2 years ago and I was really impressed. It’s part gameshow, part psychological thriller. Who can stay in the game down to the last two boxes? Who will succumb to the lure of the Banker’s crafty offers? Who’s got the bottle to go to the wire?

If you’re a fan (and currently up to 4 million or more viewers tune in to Channel 4 every weekday – and Saturday evenings as well) you’ll know that every day 22 expectant contestants pair up with 22 sealed boxes, each containing a sum between 1p and the top prize of £250,000. Then one player is chosen – he or she carefully selects one box at a time, to reveal and eliminate a cash prize until all but two are left. The tension mounts as the sums are struck off the scoreboard. During the game, the Banker rings the telephone on host Noel Edmonds’ desk and makes an offer to buy the player’s own box. Will the player gamble that their box contains a higher amount? Will it be ‘Deal or No Deal’? !

6. Risk

This is a fantastic game. It must be the board game of all board games. Risk is good because it involves skill and strategy rather than just luck. Do you want to conquer the world ? If so this is the game for you! Beware though, it can be a long game. A game of world domination, where the object is to conquer the world. To win, you must attack and defend attacking to acquire territory, and defending to keep it from you opponents. The game board features a map of six continents divided into 42 territories. It’s a game of strategy as you battle to win by launching daring attacks, defending your territory, and moving across continents with your cunning plan! This is a must have game. It’s fantastic !

7. Cluedo

Cluedo is another classic boardgame. I think it’s about 50 years old and I can remember playing Cluedo with my sister when I was about 10 years old. (I always used to win!) The game has thrown off some well known catch phrases such as “Was it Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory with the Revolver?” Its a game of chance but also skill because through a process of elimination you try wo work out who commited the murder ! Cluedo is gear fun for all ages.

8. Chess

If you are stuck in a log cabin on a freezing night with nothing else to do and there is only two of you and you really are stuck for something to do ! …then Chess could be the answer. I honestly think that everybody should know how to play Chess. I learn when I was about 12 years old. Nowadays I rarely play although I sometimes do play against the computer. Chess is included in Windows Vista. Chess, of course is the ultimate game of strategy. It is not a difficult game to learn but it is a difficult game to play well. Try Chess for yourself. You will be pleased you learnt how to play !

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Learn the E Major Pentatonic Guitar Scale

The major pentatonic is used where ever you might find the minor pentatonic. The major pentatonic sounds happier, and more upbeat than the minor pentatonic, but can still be used in a rock context. This scale sounds good over major chords, and power chords. You can use this in jazz, country and ballads. Its a cool scale. Learn this one as well as the Minor Pentatonic Scale. Also, try mixing the Major and Minor Pentatonic scales over blues chords and it sounds really good. BB King uses the Major Pentatonic a lot.

Start in position 1. The numbers on the scale are the fingers you should use for that note. The squares represent the root note, which in this case of course will be E. The following diagrams show the E Major Pentatonic Scale in all the fret board positions.

Learning scales is vital for playing good lead guitar.



Samsung ML2240 Laser Printer Review

Samsun ML2240 printer

I ordered a Samsung ML2240 from Amazon and the service was excellent as it arrived the next day. I bought the Samsung ML2240 Laser printer as a replacement for my old Brother printer. The reason being that to buy a new toner cartridge would have cost more than the cost of a brand new printer ! I didn’t want to spend ages looking for a new printer so I pretty much ordered the cheapest laser printer I could find and at £39 the Samsung seemed like a bargain.

My first impression of the Samsung ML2240 is that it’s quite small. Its about half the size of my old Brother one, but I suppose that’s progress for you !

The printer was so easy to set up. The whole set up process only took me about 5 minutes and that includes plugging the printer in and taking all the sticky tape off. The printer comes with one starter toner cartridge which is supposed to give about 700 prints. I installed the printer software and drivers from the CD and did a couple of test prints and I was impressed with the speed and the print quality. The only downside is that the printer is a bit noisy, but thats not too much of a problem.

At the same time I ordered the Samsung ML2240 from Amazon I ordered a printer USB cable. As seems to be the case with most printers these days there is no printer cable included so you have to order one. When I checked my order it transpires that the cable is going to be sent in a few days time which is a bit silly. Luckily I had a spare cable I could use on a temporary basis.

In summary, I can say that I am very pleased with the Samsung ML2240 and it is excellent value for money.

Use the Amazon link below to buy a Samsung ML2240 Laser Printer

10 things to eat before you die !

Now I love a nice meal, especially one in a nice restaurant, but equally I love the simple things in life, and these simple things can give me just as much pleasure. Whether you are a wealthy person or a poor person you can still enjoy the simpler things in life ! Food is no different and eaten in moderation the food we eat, that is supposed to be bad for us, can be a source of joy in our lives !

Here is my list of the best simple foods in life that we should all eat before we die.
WARNING – Eating too much of a good thing can harm your health !

1. A nice juicy filet steak with chips.

I love a nice steak, but despite years of practice I can’t seem to get the steak just how I like it, when I cook one at home. I normally heat a skillet and get it very hot and then put the steak on it. I like my steaks well done on the outside and pinkish on the inside. Any advice on how to cook a perfect steak at home would be appreciated. Steak cooked in a restaurant is always much better. Try this steak restaurant in Leeds.

2. Bacon sandwich

Good quality smoky bacon cooked in a frying pan until it’s well done. It’s important that there are no fatty bits that arn’t crispy. Once the bacon is cooked the bacon needs to be put into a fresh white bap and is best served with a touch of brown sauce. Must eat whilst bacon is still hot.

3. Fish and Chips

Still the nations favourite take-away food and for good reason. Fish and chips can be eaten in a restaurant and there are some very good fish and chip shops like this fish and chip restaurant in Leeds. If eating in, then fish and chips are often enhanced with several slices of buttered white bread and a pot of tea. Tartare sauce is a luxury extra ! By far and away the best way to eat fish and chips though is fresh from the pan either walking home from the chippie or sitting on a park bench somewhere, preferably by the seaside. Yorkshire produces the best fish and chips and some of the best chippies can be found at the Magpie in Whitby or in Filey or in the towns of West Yorkshire.

4. Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding

Best served on a cold Sunday in the late afternoon roast beef and all the trimmings is an unbeatable traditional British meal. You don’t have to buy the best quality beef to enjoy this meal, even the cheap beef, preferably Topside, can be made to taste as good as an expesive variety. The secret is to cook the beef slowly so that it melts in your mouth. Put the beef in the oven at gas mark 5 for an hour and then turn the oven down to 2 and leave for 2 or 3 hours. Then leave covered to keep warm whilst the rest of the meal is prepared. Must haves for the “trimmings” are roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings, and at least 3 different vegetables, and gravy with a dash of horseradish sauce. Wonderful !

5. Pizza

Yep, pizza is great, but is has got to be eaten fresh and preferably from a proper wood burning oven. The best pizza I have eaten is whilst I have been in Italy. There is a place in the city of Pisa called Le Scuderie, where they serve pizza by the metre or half metre. The pizza comes straight to your table from a wood burning oven and its a metre wide ! If a trip to Italy is not possible then any Meat feast pizza is a poor second.

6. Baked cheesecake

After a meal at home or even in a restaurant the best desert ever has got to be a baked vanilla cheesecake with a dash of cream or even ice cream if you are feeling extravagant. No ordinary cheesecake will do it has to be baked. The best cheesecake comes from the USA and preferably New York but Waitrose sell a good version.

7. Cheeseburger

You can’t beat a homemade beef burger with home made oven chips. Here is the recipe. Trust me …. this makes a wonderful burger.

2 pounds minced beef
2 medium red or white onions, finely chopped
2 eggs
1 to 2 handfuls fresh bread crumbs
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 small pinch cumin seeds, crushed
1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Mix all the ingredients together. Use the bread crumbs as required to bind and lighten the mixture. Divide into 4, then gently and lightly mold and pack into burger shapes. Place in the oven and roast for 25 minutes, which should leave the middle slightly pink and the outside nice and crispy. Serve with a griddled bun, a little salad, some gherkins, tomato salsa,and a bottle of Ketchup. Add the cheese if cheeseburger is required. Fantastic !

8. An Indian meal in a good Indian restaurant

When I first tasted Indian food at the tender age of 18 it nearly blew my head off. After many years of practice I now love my Indian food. An Indian takeaway is nowhere near as good. You need the full works with the Indian beer, the popodoms, starters and Indian music and waiters of course. Don’t forget to have a mug of water by your bed for when you wake in the middle of the night with a dry mouth.

9. Pie and Peas

Great for Bonfire Night, pie and peas with added mint sauce is a true gourmet meal. No need to make the pork pies yourself. The best pies come from butchers who have refind the art over many years and who use the best ingredients. Don’t buy pork pies from supermarkets ….the best pies come from good butchers shops. Key to a good pork pie is the pastry…it must be crumbly after been heated and it must melt in your mouth. Second important point is that peas from a tin are second best. You must soak dried peas overnight to obtain the desired consistency. Add the mint sauce and eat with a spoon.

10. My mums meat and potato pie

OK, the chances of you eating my mums meat and potato pie are slim, but you can follow the recipe and you can see her recipe here. Serve with your choice of vegetables and you have a meal fit for a king !

My guitar and amp collection

My Yamaha Pacifica

The Yamaha Pacifica is a great “first buy” guitar. Read any guitar reviews and they will tell you the same as I am saying. It is awsome value for money. This was my first guitar and I still love playing it now. If you wondering which guitar to buy and you are serious about learning how to play then this guitar stands head and shoulders above the competition.

Yamaha pacifica

 My Fender Telecaster

Fender Telecaster 

My PRS Singlecut

PRS Singlecut


My fantastic Garrison guitar

Garrison guitars were bought by Gibson in 2007. It’s got a lovely sound and I can recommend them.

My guitar amps

Fender Blues Junior

I love my Fender Blues Junior. It is a 15 watt valve amp, but don’t be fooled by the 15 watt tag as this is a very loud amp ! With this amp you will get lovely warm tones as you would expect with a valve amp. In my opinion you can’t beat a valve amp for tone. Put a valve amp up against most digital modelling amps and there is only one winner ! Valve amps are very versitile in that you can put any number of effects pedals in between your amp and your guitar and achieve any tones and special effects that you want.

Fender blues junior


Listen to a Youtube demo of the Fender Blues Junior

My Vox Valvetronix AD50VT


Vox Valvetronix 50 watt ampVox  Valvetronix controls

My Top Ten favourite guitarists of all time

Trying to name my favourite guitar players of all time is a bit difficult but I thought I would give it a go seeing as the guitar is my favourite musical instrument and I love the sound of the guitar. I play guitar, but I’m not very good. But try picking up a guitar and plugging it into an amp and turning up the volume and strumming a few simple chords and you suddenly feel like a rock god. I think it was slash who said that turning his Marshall amp up high and strumming a simple E chord on his Gibson Les Paul suddenly makes him feel powerful and a different person. Anyway, where should I start…well my favourite guitar player of the moment is Joe Satriani.

Number One – Joe Satriani

Why is Joe my number One – well simply because he is technically gifted and he creates great songs as well. Playing fast does not make a great guitar player. It’s all about playing the right notes at the right time with feeling. Less is more !

His records have sold over 7 million copies worldwide. In fact, his Surfing With the Alien became the first instrumental guitar album to crack the Top 40 charts. While also scoring on sales for his latest DVD releases with Live in San Francisco hitting the gold mark and the first G3 Live in Concert DVD going platinum.

In addition to his own material, Satriani has recorded and toured with such artists as Mick Jagger, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper and even Spinal Tap. While even before his 1986 debut Not of This Earth, Satriani had become something of a cult legend as the guitar teacher to such future stars as Steve Vai, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Counting Crows’ David Bryson and jazz artist Charlie Hunter. His latest album goes by the wierd name of Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock.

Listen to my favourite track, Revelation on the album.

If you want to get into Joe Satriani I recommend that you buy his anthology album. In my opinion this is one of the best guitar albums ever made. It truly rocks and I guarantee that you will not fail to be impressed ! And its really cheap as well.

Number 2 – Gary Moore

If you ever want to listen to a guitarist who puts his heart and soul into playing guitar then listen to Gary Moore. Gary has had a long career and has been involved in some famous rock bands including Thin Lizzy where he wrote some amazing songs including Black Rose and Don’t Believe a Word.

In 1979, Gary’s solo career began in earnest with the evocative hit single, ‘Parisienne Walkways’before he moved back to his roots with some fantastic blues albums including “Back to the Blues (2001). Gary Moore has become one of the best guitarists that the UK has ever produced. Watch the clip below of Don’t believe a word and I think you will understand why he is in my top ten guitarists list !

Gary Moore has produced many magnificent albums. These are the ones I recommend you buy:

At number 3 – Robin Trower

When I was choosing my top ten of all time guitarists I wanted guitar players who were pioneers in their field. Those guitarists who infleunced todays players and were outstanding for their time, but they didn’t receive the recognition they deserve. Most of these players were learning their trade in the 70′s. One such guitarist is Robin Trower. Some say he sounds like Jimi Hendrix and I would not disagree. Playing a Fender Stratacaster there is no doubt he influenced many of todays great players but sadly he remained fairly unknown apart from by guitar players who knew who the true great influences were. So, I give Robin Trower the recognition he deserves in my own small way ! Listen to this track, which is one of his classics, Day of the Eagle.

4. Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher was an inspiration to many great guitarists, and he has probably received more adulation since his premature death in 1995 of liver disease. Born in 1948 Rory Gallager took up guitar at the age of 12 and soon began public performances. In 1961 he bought his famous Fender Stratocaster. He formed the band “Taste” and then moved onto form his own band playing his own form of rock/blues which was to give him such a massive devoted following. Some of his classic tracks include “Cradle Rock”, “As the crow flies”. Tatoo’d Lady” and “Too much Alcohol”. There were, however many others and he loved playing to live audiences. His best album in my opinion is his “Live Irish Tour” album of 1974. Check it out as you will find some of the best rock/blues guitar music that you will have heard for a long time and he was also a master of “slide guitar”.

Buy these Rory Gallagher CD’s, DVD and books. If you love good guitar playing you will love this brilliant music.

5. Ritchie Blackmore

Ritchie Blackmore may be famous for the most recognised rock guitar riff of all time but to me he is the man who invented rock music. It was one of my first ever albums I bought and they were one of the first rock bands I saw live back in 1973, Deep Purple represent to me the most exiting time in rock music. I was in the old Victoria pub just behind Leeds Town Hall and who should be on the next table to me but the band members of Deep Purple. I got them all to sign their autograghs on a beer mat and since then there were all heroes to me.

Their classic album “Deep Purple in Rock” was and still is one of the most amazing rock music creations of all time and Ritchie Blackmore was the guitarist responsible. You only have to listen to “Child in Time”, “Speed King”, “Flight of the Rat” and “Into the Fire”, they had such raw power and energy that the music will stand the test of time. Even today’s rock musicians must listen to this album and admire it. It represents a turning point in history and must be one of the greatest albums of all time. Every band member was a genius but the guitar playing of Ritchie Blackmore sent a shiver down my spine every time I listened and I must have listened to Deep Purple in Rock literally hundreds of times ! I don’t like to think about what Ritche Blackmore does now…Its not him…but as long as he is happy I don’t mind because he has earnt the right to do whatever he wants!

I managed to find a YouTube video clip of Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar solo in Child in Time. Listen to it, I can only describe it as awsome!

Global Holidays website review

This is a review of the travel agents website of Global Holidays

Launched in 1998 the Global Holidays website is one of the first travel sites on the internet and since its launch it has gone through several design changes. The current design gives the impression of a professional looking travel site and the colours are bright and fresh as a travel site should be. The sites menu and navigation is well set out and the site appears to provide a large range of travel products and useful information for people planning a holiday.

On the site there are Cheap flights, Cheap holidays and Hotels as well as car hire, destination information and travel news.

Global Holidays provide a vast amount of useful travel information set out in a neat and easy to find way. The site is different from most travel sites in that it seems to attempt to provide useful travel information and indeed video information.

Most travel websites these days provide a search box on the home page and this is where in my opinion the site lets itself down because the holiday and flight search is not on the home page but is in fact 3 clicks away from the home page. This could put off some surfers as they make struggle to find the holiday search facility.

Once found, the holiday search has a good size search box where you can input your holiday requirements. One plus point about this search function is that you can search between dates rather than only for a specific date. This ability gives you more chance of finding the right holiday and at the right price. There is a huge range of holiday and flight destinations and research tells me that the Global Holidays website has about 20 million holidays loaded into its database.

The holiday search function was very fast and within seconds I had what seemed dozens of holiday results to look at. This is where I began to get a little confused as I was faced with lots of holiday prices but I wasn’t sure where to click as I couldn’t see what the holidays were. I clicked on what seemed like a good price and thats where I managed to find a very good choice of cheap last minute holidays. There were thumbnail images of the hotels and information about the holiday. This is where the Global Holidays website came good and I was able to find easily what I was looking for.

So, in summary, I can say that I was impressed with the look and feel of the website and also the excellent choice of good holidays available at what seemed like good prices. I liked the video information of holiday destinations and the travel news. On the downside, the holiday search function should be easier to find and the results could be simpler to understand. Overall though a good experience and I would use the site and have confidence that I was using a professional travel agent.

Call FREE on 0800 433 2300 to make an enquiry

My Mums Meat and Potato Pie

My mums meat and potato pie is the best !

Use good quality beef and cut it into cubes. You can even use tinned beef if you are feeling lazy!

The meat needs cooking separately.  Brown it first by rolling it in flour and putting into some oil in frying pan to seal meat.  Then transfer to a casserole with some stock, i.e. stock cube dissolved in boiling water and bake in oven say number 5 for a couple of hours or until tender. 

Peel potatoes and half cook and leave to cool.   When cool cut into pieces and add to the meat.   Thicken the stock and make a gravy.

Roll out pastry to appropriate size, add meat and potatoes and a small amount of the gravy and bake in hottish oven until pastry is golden brown.   Remainder of gravy can be used when serving.  ENJOY !