Friday, 27 May 2016

New and Improved -Ratchet & Clank on PlayStation®4

We first met Ratchet and his robot sidekick Clank many years ago when my now grown-up boys were small and we had a PlayStation 2 console. We were huge fans back then and were delighted to hear the game was coming back, new and improved for PS4 consoles.

Closely following the plot of the recently released animated movie, (check out my review of that HERE) fans new and old can relive the laugh-a-minute tale of how furry Lombax mechanic Ratchet became pals with the rebellious sentry robot Clank.

The game is described as "reimagined" but don't expect a straight copy of the original game simply with updated graphics. 
My 20-year-old son says the storyline is similar and a lot of the worlds are similar. He said it was nice to see some of his favourite characters from the original series still featuring in the new game.
Ratchet carries a wrench but you can pick up guns on the way and upgrade them. There are apparently even more guns and gadgets added to the series’ already inventive arsenal but my son chose to try and play using just the wrench which was a bit of a challenge but lots of fun!

So does he agree with the official blurb which described Ratchet And Clank as "adrenaline charged adventure packed full of new gameplay, bosses and levels not seen in the PlayStation original."

On the whole, yes. He said it's a good game and from one as cynical as him with high standards when it comes to gaming, trust me, this is a top recommendation. 

He's not sure about the adrenaline packed bit but to be fair his younger siblings (aged 7, 10, 11, 15 and 16)  would disagree with him. They absolutely love the game and I really like that its a wonderful one to watch along with - my children all cheer the player on and share tips. So although it's a one player game  it can still be fun for a group to enjoy.

The game includes footage from the movie itself and glorious in-game visuals that take advantage of the PS4 system’s world-shaking power. Yes - it uses the vibration feature which makes gameplay more exciting! Fancy a peek? You can check out the official trailer below.

As my big family have proved the game has universal appeal across all age ranges. It has a 7 PEGI rating- suitable for players age 7 and up and is available to download or in disc form from all the usual retailers, online and in the High Street.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Ratchet and Clank game for PS4 for the purpose of this honest review.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Don't Miss Madmumof7 on TV!

Many, many years ago, not quite when dinosaurs ruled the earth but not far off that time,  I was young and just starting out on the writing career which has seen me work as a journalist, news editor and now blogger/online content writer.

I studied journalism in Cardiff in the late '80's and look back on that time with fondness and real affection for the people I met there, even though I don't get to see them much nowadays. Check out the picture-that's me on the left - looking not very sober! Yes Simon (5th from left)  I stole the pic from your Facebook page.

madmumof7 at Cardiff Instituter of HE, NCTJ Journalism

Tomorrow I am meeting up with one of my fellow journalism students from the Dark Ages, Carl Jones, who is now an award winning journalist, PR consultant and radio and TV presenter. He is the editor of independent business website, Shropshire Business Today and editor of On The Road, the publication of the Alliance of British Drivers.

Carl also hosts two weekly shows on Big Centre TV, covering the Black Country and Birmingham - a one-hour film review show called The Big Picture, and a news and current affairs chat show called The Week With Carl Jones.
Big Centre TV local TV for the West Midlands

This current affairs show is the one I will be appearing on. Although I had my own radio show for a while so am not shy about chatting ("really?" I hear you exclaim sarcastically!) this will be my first time in front of TV cameras and I am a bit nervous.

Thanks to the wonders of technology I have been able to keep an eye on what's going on in the Midlands via the Express and Star  (my father's old workplace) and the Birmingham Post apps.  I can usually pull opinions from thin air anyway so sure I won't run out of things to say.

I am really looking forward most to a long overdue reunion with Carl. We have shared some jolly japes in the past with others from my year -Guy, Claire, Tim, Kath, Julia, Julian, Ali, Eleri, and Simon to name just a few. 

Gus Honeybun...your boys have taken one hell of a beating football book by Simon Carter

Author and journalist Simon Carter and madmumof7 Afra Willmore

I'd better mention that Simon, pictured with me (above) a  couple of years ago has just had a book published.

You can buy " Gus Honeybun...Your Boys Took One Hell Of A Beating (A Love Affair In The Lower Leagues)" on Amazon in Kindle or actual book form.  Simon - do me a favour. If you write another book can you: a. write about something other than football and b. choose a shorter title. Thanks.

Anyway, back to my TV debut with Carl. You will doubtless be thrilled to hear that there are many ways you can watch me corpse on TV - Big Centre TV, a local TV channel for the West Midlands  can be found on Freeview Channel 7,  Virgin 159 or on the internet HERE.

The Week with Carl Jones featuring yours truly will be aired at 7.30pm on Friday May 27 but there's no excuse to miss it if you already have plans that night - the episode will be available on catch up TV via Big Centre TV's website along with other past episodes.

I'm thankful the show isn't live and am hoping it will act as an interview showreel for Loose Women. In the meantime I just have to decide what on earth to wear.....

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Can't get to Tel Aviv EAT Food Festival? Enjoy these recipes from Israeli restaurant Liliyot instead.7-species salad & The Priest's (lamb) Stew

Sometimes something drops into your inbox and reading the few preview lines makes your heart race. Sometimes opening the email confirms your excitement was justified - sometimes not.

This week I received an email titled "Press Tel Aviv" with a few lines visible about a food festival there.

Tel Aviv food,Israel cuisine

In my head I was packing and calculating how many Pot Noodles I might have to buy to keep the family from starving while I was away enjoying some Israeli sun and food.

Predictably I was disappointed as the actual email was like so many I receive - asking me to promote a product/service/event for nothing with not even a free cupcake to sweeten the deal.

However I actually thought the event sounded amazing and after double checking that the organisers could not in fact fly me out there, decided to write about it anyway.

(This was a lot to do with the honesty, humour and friendliness of the PR person in this case who joked along with me and was happy to discuss ways of making their straight press release something more interesting.)

In this case they agreed to find one of the chefs participating in the food festival to share a recipe so we could enjoy a bit of Med-style food in less exotic surroundings back here in Blighty (or wherever you are readers.)

So here we have it - not one but TWO lovely recipes, one hot, one cold, from Jonathan Berrebi from Tel Aviv Kosher restaurant "Liliyot" ("Lilies")

Jonathan Berrebi from Tel Aviv Kosher restaurant Liliyot
(credit Ilya Melnikov).

"Seven Species" Salad

Ingredients (2-3 diners):
200g cooked groats ( or substitute with Quinoa** see note below)
100g minced dried dates
100g minced dried figs
100g pomegranate seeds
100g minced chicory
8 fresh and soaked vine leaves (you can buy them in tins or jars in many British supermarkets now)
100ml olive oil
3 squeezed lemons
3 tablespoons of honey
Sea salt and black pepper 

Take a deep plate and cover it with the fresh vine leaves.

Soak the pomegranate seeds in 15mL of the freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Combine the dried fruit, the groats, the chicory and the pomegranate seeds in the plate and pour over the olive oil, the remaining lemon juice and the honey. 

Season the salad with salt and pepper according to taste.

The Priests' Stew

Ingredients (3 diners):
800g Diced stewing lamb, approximately 4-5cm cubes
100g leeks cut to 4-5cm pieces
100g carrots cut to 4cm pieces
2 white onions peeled and cut to quarters
1 garlic clove
2 cooked beets peeled and cut to quarters
20g thyme
100g cooked wheat
100g cooked black lentils
60mL grapeseed oil or canola oil
200mL barbecue sauce
100mL orange juice
400mL boiled water
150mL red wine
Sea salt and black pepper

Pour oil into a heavy or  double-bottomed pot and sear the meat from all sides, then take it out. 

Pour in the red wine and – using a wooden spoon (very important) – deglaze the meat residues. 

Pour in the vegetables, the wheat and the thyme for a quick roast, and then place the meat back in the pot. Stir for 5 minutes.

In a smaller pot pour the barbecue sauce, the orange juice, the water, the salt and pepper; boil and stir.

Pour the liquid on the meat and vegetables, cook on low heat for 5-6 hours. 

If the liquids overly reduce, you can add some water and orange juice. Stir frequently.

**If it's important for food to be Kosher for Passover, remember to check for the OU-P symbol on products. Quinoa has been approved as OU-P but only when it bears the certification symbol.

Now - if you are lucky enough to be able to visit Tel Aviv this week  you should find time to go along to Tel Aviv EAT, a 3-day-long celebration of food, bringing together Tel Aviv's culinary scene's highfliers who will cook for the city's foodies. 

The festival will take place on May 24-26th, beginning at 18:00 in Charles Clore Park in Tel Aviv, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. 

Tel Aviv EAT will include gourmet chefs managing street food stands, local music bands playing as the sun sets and various farmers' markets selling their freshest produce.

Foodies will be able to find the following renowned restaurants at the Eat Tel Aviv Festival: Yaffo Tel Aviv, Yahaloma Banamal, Manta Ray, Zakaim, Meshek Barzilay, Lima Nippo, Mexicana, Vicky Cristina, Little Italy, Agadir, Cookeez, Tamara, Dim Sum Shop, and many more. 

Sadly I won't be there but will enjoy recreating these two recipes from Jonathan - many thanks to him for sharing them.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.