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LUST AND LOVE SPECIAL Page 2 - Election Fever Page 3 - Live at Leeds preview Pages 4/5 - Do you come here often? Dating dilemmas Page 6 - Is 3D here to stay? Page 7 - Latest reviews Page 8 - Couch surfing

APRIL 30 2010 VOLUME 2 ISSUE 3

Waste not, want not

LANDFILL: Nearly full by Stephanie Burns

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ver eight million tonnes of food is thrown away by UK households each year and all landfills in Britain will be full by 2020 - although the environment department Defra claims that some landfills will be full by as early as the end of this year. As we edge closer to this deadline, more and more schemes are being set up to fight the war on waste. Nearly 30 per cent of Leeds’ household waste is food, but a six month experiment in Rothwell is aiming to tackle this. Residents are half way through a trial to make recycling easier, increase the items that can be recycled and reduce the amount that is going to landfill. Amongst other changes they now have a weekly food waste collection and general waste (the black bin) is only collected fortnightly. Pam Elvin, 54, who lives in Woodlesford, near Rothwell, and has been taking part in the trial for three months, has easily incorporated the new recycling regime into her everyday habits, although

it has not been without its downfalls. “The difficult the five-a-day that is recommended by health professionals. Along with supermarket offers, people bit is knowing which plastic can be recycled as not are being encouraged to buy more fruit and vegeverything is labelled clearly,” says Elvin. “I also etables but end up not eating it all and throwing worry about smells in the summer as the food is it away. not separated, which I think must affect the way it rots and smells.” Jonathan Broad and Max Wakefield set up the Bristol division of Foodcycle, which targets both Although recycling food waste is better than food waste and food simply dumping it with the rest of the household rub- “If we wasted 1/7th less food poverty. They are given bish, there are alternatives we could meet the world’s waste food from Sainsburys to throwing away food that and local markets which, energy requirements” may still be all right to eat. each Sunday morning, their Fareshare, winner of chef makes into nutritious, Britain’s Most Admired Charity in 2010, redistrib- free meals for those in poverty. The main produce utes food - which would otherwise end up in land- they receive is fruit, vegetables and bread. fill - to disadvantaged people around the country, Broad urges consumers to think of the bigger including Leeds. The charity is helping to decrease picture when it comes to food waste. He said: “If the rate at which landfills are filling up, while ed- we in the west wasted 1/7th less of our food we ucating poorer communities on eating well. could meet the basic energy requirements of the The main culprits are fruit and vegetables and entire world.” some critics claim that this could be the result of Broad is also at the forefront of a student branch

Continued on Page 2


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Style or substance? by Adam Edwards

Babies are being kissed, grannies hugged and politicians are comforting the sick in hospital. Must be election time again.

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ith the prospect of a hung parliament looking ever more likely, the three main parties are desperately trying to encourage people to get out and vote on May 6. The milestone TV debates between Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg (pictured above) were supposed to revive interest in politics among an increasingly apathetic electorate. But not everyone thinks they were such a good idea, with critics arguing that they placed too much emphasis on style and spin above substance. Speaking at a recent political debate in Bradford, audience member Neil Walshaw, 35, of Bramley, said: “I’m concerned there’s so much focus on trivial things like hand gestures, which have precious little to do with policy. We elect MPs to pass decently thought out laws. Our system is too personality driven and presidential. “On substance alone you wouldn’t have chosen Clegg,” he said, referring to the Liberal Democrat leader’s recent surge in popularity following his performance in the debates. He added: “Brown may be boring as hell but he really knows his material.” Fellow audience member, 26-year-old Simon Kilby, of Leeds, agreed. He said: “We should be able to find someone with both style and substance.” Such criticism though, is nothing new. Political commentators have long accused modern politicians of being more concerned with image than policy. But

there may be grounds for this obsession with appearance. Former Conservative Party leader William Hague believes his “nerdy image” contributed to the Tories losing the 2005 general election to Tony Blair’s Labour Party, adding that his leadership style would probably have faired better in a less image-conscious era. During the first televised presidential debates in America, the visual contrast between the tanned and youthful looking John F Kennedy and his older, less TV savvy rival, Richard Nixon, was believed to have drastically affected the outcome of the election, with the charismatic young Democrat wowing TV audiences, despite coming off second-best among radio listeners. Unfortunately for Nixon, more people watched the debates on TV than listened on radio. But not every politician believes the electorate is so easily influenced by the media. The Conservative Party’s candidate for Pudsey, Stuart Andrew, believes the key to a successful campaign is knocking on doors and speaking directly with people. On a recent visit to Horsforth he said: “We’re finding the predominance of the campaign is on the doorstop. We’ve made an effort to knock on as many doors as possible.” Echoing Mr Andrews’ comments, shadow schools secretary Michael Gove said politicians shouldn’t underestimate the impact of old-fashioned canvassing. “If you want to engage the electorate you have to make

TV HISTORY: US Presidential debate things relevant,” he said. “There’s an onus to be clear and pithy and speak directly to people.” Labour Party activist Sam Bacon summed this up, advising party members: “The person on the doorstep is the Labour Party. They are every policy, every minister.” At the last general election less than two in three people registered to vote actually cast their ballot, suggesting a general malaise in voter interest among a significant proportion of the population. This indifference is a stark contrast to how politics was received in 19th century America where political debates were a major highlight in the social calendar. Whole towns would turn out, patiently listening to the discussions, which sometimes ran on for more than seven hours. The recent TV debates attracted huge interest – but would anyone have the stomach for those Americanstyle debates now?

Continued from Page 1 of Foodcycle which launched at Bristol University this week. “It’s good because it allows students to get out of the student bubble,” says Broad. “No matter how socially aware someone thinks they are, actually seeing the food poverty in the community around them can be quite eye-opening.” They are offered three courses for just £1 each, which is a steal even by student standards. But by paying this £3 they are helping to raise funds for the Sunday projects and at the same time learn about what they can do to help those in poverty. Another alternative to recycling or redistributing food is freeganism. Freegans live off edible produce that has been thrown away by supermarkets because it is past its use-by date or slightly damaged. Despite raiding bins to find it, most of this food is perfectly all right to eat and the main advantage is that it is completely free. The use-by and best-before dates on our food

are guidelines set by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and they warn that even if food looks and smells fine it can put your health at risk and cause food poisoning. Many people stick to these dates religiously but, while care should always be taken, common sense can play a huge part in deciding whether food is safe to eat. Approvedfood.co.uk sells short-dated or out-of-date food at reduced prices. It is never past its use-by date but is often past the best-before date and the FSA advises that, while the quality may be diminished, it will probably still be safe to eat. A “Love Food Hate Waste” campaign, launched by the Waste and Resources Action Programme, raises awareness of the need to reduce the amount of food thrown away and highlights the benefits to both the consumer and the environment. It provides tips, advice and recipes for leftover food.

Useful websites www.defra.gov.uk www.fareshare.org.uk www.foodworksuk.org.uk www.fsa.gov.uk www.approvedfood.co.uk www.wrap.org.uk www.lovefoodhatewaste.com


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Live at Leeds 2010 by Tom Richardson

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ou might usually associate May Day weekends with washed out picnics and terrible TV, but a new bank holiday tradition is establishing itself in Leeds - turning the city into a giant music venue. Now in its fourth year, the Live at Leeds (LAL) Festival starts today, bringing a host of acts to the city over the next four days. Started by Leeds-based music promoter Futuresound in 2007, the festival has grown yearon-year since. The original line-up of around 30 artists has increased to an enormous 170, and LAL has become a truly city-wide event, spanning locations from Woodhouse to Boar Lane in the city centre. Promoter Andy Smith said: “At the start it was a very locally-orientated festival. We wanted to incorporate as many venues as possible. We started out with five, which seemed like a lot at the time.” Five venues doesn’t seem like a lot now. Taking place tomorrow over 17 stages in various Leeds locations, festival venues range from the conventional – live circuit mainstays The Cockpit and The Brudenell Social Club – to the unexpected in the form of Holy Trinity Church. But it’s not only the venues that are diverse. Initially designed as a showcase for local talent, LAL now attracts talent from all over the world. Organisers have also made an effort to expand the scope of the festival beyond its original focus on guitar-based indie-rock. Smith said: “This year we’ve got a 20-piece choir at Leeds College of Music, jazz acts, some folk – lots of variety. We’ve also tried to bring in the heavier side of things with acts like The Bronx and Rolo Tomassi.” There’s also electronica from Leeds University

graduates Hadouken!, haunting solo acoustica from Bradford musician Blue Roses, and energetic, hip-hop laden pop from Leeds music scene heroes Middleman. Alongside live music, the festival will also feature a number of events geared toward anyone interested in a music industry career. The Unconference, an all-day event being held at Leeds Met today, will feature panels of industry insiders from around the UK giving advice to fledgling bands, promoters and everybody inbetween. Aptly-named Sunday afternoon session ‘The Hangover’ is a more informal Q&A affair, where any budding Malcolm Mclarens, Liam Gallaghers or Arctic Monkeys can pick the brains of experienced industry professionals over a hair-of-

the-dog pint. With 7,000 fans attending last year’s event, and with this year’s set to be even bigger, anyone wanting to get their hands on a ticket will need to move fast. Andy Smith said that the festival is “going to be very, very busy”, and the diverse lineup will ensure that fans come from far afield to see their favourite artists. A unique event, and one which promises to prove why Leeds is such an important and exciting city for music, Live at Leeds is not to be missed. Roll up the picnic blanket, switch off the telly and witness it for yourself this weekend. Live at Leeds starts today. Day tickets for tomorrow cost £15. Full ticket and venue information can be found at www.liveatleeds.com

It’s just another one of those days by Rebecca Elvin

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ach month our calendars are marked with an array of different national days celebrating or raising awareness about various events and causes. But as the number of national days and weeks has increased, the amount of celebration surrounding them has decreased. And this is much to the detriment of those days that were once celebrated in style.

There are national days for anything and everything, making the more worthy ones, like St George’s Day and May Day, seem less significant. Have we lost the essence of what these days are really about, at the expense of gaining an assortment of weird and wacky days? In Britain, we have annual national days such as Remembrance Day, St Patrick’s Day and St George’s Day which we celebrate and commemorate. We also

have awareness days, weeks and months that try to raise awareness and support for causes, illnesses and diseases, like World Asthma Day, Mental Illness Awareness Week and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are also those days which have a legitimate purpose, like No Smoking Day and World Fair Trade Day. But while these days, weeks or months are significant and worthwhile, they are joined by a collection of those that seem to be completely ridiculous. National Chip Week, Be Nice to Nettles Week, Wrong Trousers Day, Throw your Friend in a Bush Day and International Left Handers’ Week are just a handful of examples that prove people are willing to celebrate just about anything.

NETTLES: Have a good week

And the list goes on… Here is the line up for May. Which ones will you be celebrating? Local and Community History Month National Share a Story Month May 1 - May Day May 1 – 7– World Homeopathy Awareness Week May 1 – 9– National Windsurfing Week May 4– International Firefighter’s Day May 3 – 9– Lavender Week May 4– World Asthma Day May 3 – 9– Red Cross Week May 9– Europe Day May 8 – 15– National Doughnut Week May 8– World Fair Trade Day May 9 – 15– Christian Aid Week May 9 – 16– ME Awareness Week May 16 – 23– British Sandwich Week May 12– Limerick Day May 17 – 30– Foster Care Fortnight May 19 – 30– Be Nice to Nettles Week May 17 – 21– Walk to School Week May 21– Friendship Funday May 29– Oak Apple Day May 31– Spring Bank Holiday May 31– World No Tobacco Day


Picture: Alexander Zabara, www.tangoimage.com

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X marks the spot

by Jonathan Forrester

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avid isn’t your typical ladies’ man. He is tubby, balding and his sentences are strung together with profanities. But tomorrow men from all over the country will flock to Leeds to hear what he has to say about seduction. Known professionally as David X, the Canadian pick-up artist is hosting an eight-hour masterclass to teach men how to attract women using their natural personality. His system of seduction comes down to two simple rules – who cares what she thinks and you are the most important person in the relationship. On his website, David X insists that once they are explained many men adopt his system and achieve results. He says: “A lot of guys have a major transition issue. They have been taught to lie to women to try to trick them into ‘putting out’. In my experience as a dating coach, the guys who have the most difficulty with my two rules are the ones who have spent a lot of money buying products from other ‘gurus’ who don’t actually know what they are talking about. “Here I am telling guys to be honest with women and not to give a s*** what they think. I can’t blame them for getting nervous because it runs counter to what they believe is necessary to attract a woman and get laid.” David X first found fame in The Game, the 2005 bestseller which follows investigative journalist Neil Strauss in his efforts to become a pick-up artist. The book brought the seduction community into the public eye for the first time and made stars of its members, including the mysterious Mr X. David, who keeps his last name secret to protect his young sons from school bullying, has gone on to teach some of the biggest dating coaches in the world. Now, five years later, he is preparing to share his secrets with the men of Leeds. According to David, guests will walk away able to avoid rejection from women. They will also discover how to become irresistible to the women they want. Like others in his field, David’s methods are not approved by everyone and he comes across as the

Marmite of dating coaches - many men appear to like him for his simple and honest approach while others think he demeans and generalises women. In one of many negative comments that litter his online videos a viewer said: “I can pick up on what he's saying in the sense of being a real man, but it's really heavy-handed. It sounds like a brainwashing regime.”

ABOVE: Dating coach David X Another said: “This guy is totally off on what he thinks most men think about women. He demeans the guys he's speaking to without knowing anything about them, and he seems like he has some real resentment toward women.” Whatever is said about him, David X has followers worldwide who swear by his techniques and he is sure to attract a crowd this weekend.

Guests to the seminar will also get the opportunity to ask any questions they have about sex and women. It may cost £97 for the event, but you do get a free gold-plated necklace. The seminar will take place at the Hilton Hotel, Leeds, from 10am to 6pm. For more information visit www.ultimateinnerstrength.com.

Personally speaking

Women of Leeds watch out, writes Shahzeena Khalid. David X, the self styled “dating coach” seems to have a one track mind when it comes to women. "Welcome To David X Dating,” his website says. “If you are ready to learn how to approach women HONESTLY, get more dates, get laid and develop a magnetic personality... without having to put on a facade and lose your self-respect, you've come to the right place.” On the surface, this sounds like a perfectly innocent way of men boosting their confidence in order not to be intimidated by women and ultimately to make intimate contact with them. But the real issue is the way “getting laid” occupies his marketing material. Either it is just clever self promotion or this is the only result the men on his course hope to achieve. Either way, it seems to be to the detriment of the women who may become involved with these men. Females are portrayed merely as objects to be conquered. If his advice leads to sincere relationships between both parties, that’s great. However, there is a fine line between finding a way to “get laid” and wanting a real relationship, something which is dubious as far as David X is concerned. Find out more about his “teachings” at www.davidxdating.com


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ADULT ACTIVITIES: Salsa dancing (above) and pole dancing (below)

Your views: dating and chat-up lines Mary Andrews, 30, from Horsforth, said: “I think chat-up lines are a little pathetic to be honest. I’ve got a friend who uses one all the time, ‘Here’s 10p. Ring your mum and tell her you won’t be coming home tonight’.”

and would also not like to share. I think the best way to approach someone is by just being natural. Be yourself. “I don’t really go up to girls – I’m a bit too shy. I let them approach me.”

Stan Burton, 77, from Horsforth, said: “All of my dating experiences have been pleasant ones. Everyone has their own chat-up lines, but it depends on who you are approaching and what their attitude is like. The best way to approach someone depends on the lady.”

Karen Woolley, 45, from Moortown, said: “I don’t do dates – I’m married. I would find chatup lines amusing though and then it would depend on the person’s attitude and who they are as to how I would react. “I like going out for meals and going on holidays – if I can get rid of the kids. I also like going to the theatre and away to London for the weekend. I’m a doer.”

Simon, 28, from Horsforth, said: “There are quite a few dating experiences I’d like to forget,

DATING DIRECTORY Speed dating If you’re looking for that special someone speed dating may be for you. A group of men and women meet at a specified venue and have five minutes to speak with each other before a bell is rung and they move on to the next person. Perfect if you have a short attention span. www.speeddater.co.uk Tuesday May 11 Henry’s Bar, Leeds For ages 38 to 50 years www.slowdating.com Wednesday May 12 Henrys Bar, Leeds For ages 25 to 38 years www.xfactordates.com Thursday May 13

Chilli White, Leeds For ages 36 to 49 years Leeds matchmakers and personal introductions If you want a personalised touch to enhance your love life then matchmakers and personal introducers can help to sift through the minefield of finding that perfect partner. Using a profile of your personality, likes and dislikes, they try to “match” you to the right person. www.datelineplatinum.com www.mysinglefriend.com Online dating A do-it-yourself way of getting hooked. Websites feature databases of singletons looking for love and have become a huge phenomenon in recent years. Browse from a menu of people and choose what looks tasty to you.

www.eharmony.co.uk www.datingdirect.com www.loveandfriends.com www.matchaffinity.com www.match.com www.parship.co.uk Niche online dating Does what it says on the tin. Online dating, but for people with particular preferences. Niche dating sites help people who are quite particular about the type of person they would like to date. From uniformed professionals, millionaires, environmentalists, the disabled and singles in the city, there is something for everyone. www.uniformdating.com www.greenfriends.com www.lovestruck.com www.millionairematch.com www.whispers4u.com www.horseloverdating.co.uk

Have you already found “the one” and are simply looking for a little inspiration? Here are three things you can do to liven up your love life.

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For women looking to add a little sparkle into a relationship (and tone their tums along the way), Polestars offer burlesque and pole dancing lessons at five locations around Leeds. The classes are a great way to socialise, keep fit and boost confidence. Visit www.polestars.net to find your nearest venue and book your place. Dancing is a great way for couples to forget everyday stress and enjoy each other’s company, and there’s nothing sexier than salsa. Classes are held every Wednesday at Bar Room Bar, on Call Lane, Leeds. New beginners are welcome every week without the need to book. Classes cost £5. Volunteering may not sound sexy, but it’s a great way to show your sensitive side. Doing it as a couple lets you spend time together while making you feel all warm and fuzzy by doing your bit for the community. Leeds City Council has named 2010 the Year of Volunteering and there are loads of ways to get involved. For more information visit www.do-it.org.uk.


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3D: A dimension too far?

by Richard Simpson

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f 2009 was the year of 3D cinema, 2010 is the year that will pose the question: Is 3D here to stay? In the month that major TV manufacturers begin to release the first wave of “3D Ready” televisions, there is a growing sense that 3D may be the future. Media theorists have often pondered how as a population we accept technological advances as a given. Yet here we stand on the brink of a new era that has its fair share of detractors. So how did we come to this? How is it that a technology that first emerged in the 1950s is now hailed as the future of cinema and home entertainment? Already this year we have seen James Cameron’s 3D juggernaut Avatar clean up at the box office breaking records on a weekly basis. $2.7billion later this was followed by the mainstream 3D success stories of Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans. Both these films also topped the UK box office, proving that Avatar was no fluke. What this year has proven is that audiences are not averse to pulling on a pair of 3D specs when they go to the cinema. Movie studios have picked up on this three-dimensional resurgence and have quickly got to work. There appear to be two lines of thinking when it comes to 3D. The first, the James Cameron school of thought, is that when 3D is applied it should be an integral part of the movie itself. Audiences were treated to this essential third-dimension when they realised they had become truly immersed in the world of Pandora. Avatar proved that, done right, 3D can literally take a film to another dimension.

Unfortunately the alternative, pioneered by studio heads and executives, is to use 3D as nothing more than a gimmick. There are a host of films that are currently being converted to 3D for their release in a bid to jump on the bandwagon. Similar to Clash of the Titans, this means taking a finished film and adding in 3D effects in postproduction.

Tellingly Clash director Louis Letterer was underwhelmed by the studio’s decision to hurriedly convert his film to 3D, stating quite simply that “the technology was not ready.” Cameron himself slammed “slapdash conversions” saying that the decision to go 3D should be down to the filmakers and not studio money men. The issue for many lies in the fact that for every 3D release, the UK cinema audience is forced to pay around £2 extra for the privilege. The cinema schedule for the rest of the year is littered with 3D

releases. Audiences can look forward to Shrek Forever After, Toy Story 3, Step Up 3D, Saw VII, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Tron Legacy to name just a few. Some common complaints about 3D are that it can give people headaches and prove difficult for people with glasses, as well as the inevitable colour-loss stemming from tinted 3D glasses. There is also a fundamental issue that 3D, by its very nature, has to draw attention to itself and in doing so, diverts the audience away from what is really going on. So what does the future hold? Sky television subscribers over the past two years have been told daily the benefits of converting to High Definition. But come autumn their focus will change to that of 3D. Premier League football is already being screened in a handful of the nation’s pubs on a weekly basis, including The Old Ball in Horsforth. Sky Movies 3D is set to arrive in time for Christmas. At the moment a cool £1,800 will bag you the latest “3D Ready” televisions and with enough manufacturers throwing their weight behind the technology, this figure will tumble soon enough. Ultimately the uptake of 3D may not be down to what the public wants, but what we are told we want. Films showing exclusively in 3D would, for the meantime, eliminate piracy, while at the same time plump up box office revenues. Could an easy way of killing two birds with one stone mean we are the ones forced to adapt? For MORE’s Avatar Blu-ray review see opposite page.

Pick of the 3D Flicks Toy Story 3 – Released July 23 2010 The eagerly anticipated threequel sees all the original characters return. With owner Andy heading away to college, the toys find themselves sent to a nursery. Pixar are in a rich vein of form with Up and Wall-E registering with adult viewers. So expect more emotional moments and a few tears before bedtime.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I – Released November 19 2010 The series gets darker yet again with the first of the twopart Deathly Hallows instalment. Harry, Ron and Hermione continue their running battle with Lord Voldemort, this time going on a quest to find and destroy the lost Horcruxes. Part II arrives in July 2011.

Shrek Forever After – Released July 9 2010 The fourth installment of the Shrek series sees everyone’s favourite green ogre come up against his toughest foe yet Rumpelstiltskin. The third film received only lukewarm response from critics and Dreamworks will be looking to make sure this final chapter has a happy ending for audiences.


MORE Reviews THE ALBUM Diana Vickers: Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree by Rebecca Elvin

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imon Cowell once likened her to Marmite you’ll either love or hate Diana Vickers. However, judging by her recent chart success with her debut single, Once, shooting straight to the top of the charts and her debut album set to do the same, it would seem that Marmite is the flavour of the month. It is hard to believe that this is the same young girl who appeared on the fifth series of the X-Factor exiting the show in fourth place at the semi-final stage. Vickers has returned with her debut album, Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree; 13 tracks that showcase her distinctive and individual voice; the same voice that was often met with comments such as “quirky”, “individual”, and “strange”, from the X Factor judges. Compared with the previous offerings of poptastic sparkle that has been churned out by

THE BLU-RAY Avatar by Richard Simpson

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o much has been said and written about Avatar. Now with the dust from its box office destruction barely settled, the highest-grossing movie in the world makes its way onto Blu-ray and DVD. Even by modern standards the turnaround from cinema to home release has been brisk. James Cameron revisited his magic formula and created a cinematic “event” the likes of which we haven’t witnessed since Titanic. The real question now is whether a film this big can translate to the home. By now we all know the criticism directed at the plot. With small enough writing you could fit it on the back of a postage stamp, but with so much going on here it would be a shame to let plot hang-ups blind you too much. There is so much to see. One thing that hits you second time around is that Avatar has not received enough credit for its action sequences. As set pieces go Cameron lays it on thick, and although the visceral punch of a cinema soundtrack is missing from your average lounge, the film loses very little of its spectacle on Blu-ray.

the X Factor manufacturing machine, Vickers’ contribution is an unanticipated alternative. She looks and sounds much more mature than her years. She has created a stunning debut album. Working with an array of artists, such as Nerina Pallot and Ellie Goulding, and songwriters that have worked with the likes of Britney and Kylie, she has brought a distinctive and interesting sound. Our ears are welcomed with the catchy and upbeat current number one hit, Once. The pace then slows down and the tracks become mellow and tranquil. Four Leaf Clover, Put it Back Together, and N.U.M.B show a softer side to the album and, as the tempo decreases, the softness and prettiness of her voice crescendos to become incredibly apparent. There is little variation in tempo and style and it does seem rather samey in places. Although many of the tracks sound disjointed, Vickers’ kooky voice carries it off well. Overall the album is good as she has managed to do something many former X-Factor contestants struggle to do - define her own style. With her debut album looking to join her single at the top spot, it seems that Vickers can well and truly leave the negative X Factor remarks behind her - along with the Marmite related innuendos. Diana Vickers’s Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree is on sale from May 3. More Scores: 8/10

The reason Avatar stuck a chord with audiences was its immersive quality. Cameron and the team at WETA Digital spent countless hours rendering stunning images that, chances are, you never saw at the cinema. The eye can only look in so many places at once. The benefit of bringing Avatar back into your home is that you can take the time to really appreciate the immaculate detailing of Pandora. Visually the release is a marked step up from any Bluray that has come before it. By rights it should be the same catalyst for Blu-ray that The Matrix was for DVD. If ever there was a reason to take the leap up to highdef, this is it. Cinephiles will be thrilled with the immaculate texturing and fine detail, all jumping out of the screen even without the benefit of 3D. There is now no doubt which film will be used to show off your system. Another pleasing aspect is the vivid colour, benefiting greatly from the absence of colour reduction that is an unfortunate side-effect of tinted 3D glasses. Just like the cinematic release before it, Avatar looks set to destroy sales records. Already the fastest selling Blu-ray in the States, many UK outlets opened at midnight on Monday to meet with demand. One issue that hardcore fans will have is that this is a release that comes with zero extras. The omission is unfortunate as perhaps, more than any before it, this is a film that demands a closer look. Naturally a more comprehensive two-disc package will be released further down the road before the 3D version drops sometime next year. It would be no surprise if a director’s cut also turned up as Cameron has often discussed the quality of the scenes left on the cutting room floor. This kind of treatment will be familiar to fans of the Lord of the Rings movies, but it remains to be seen whether fans will fork out four times for the same film.

Avatar is available to buy now More Scores: 9/10

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THE RESTAURANT The Olive Tree, Rodley by Adam Edwards & Chloe Doyle

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ituated in an impeccably restored Victorian villa, this award-winning restaurant has a laid back family atmosphere, friendly staff and top-notch meals. It even boasts its own “dancing chef” – who performs traditional Greek dances in the restaurant. The food was excellent and the portions were the perfect size – just the right amount to fill you up without leaving you bloated and wishing you’d not forced down that last mouthful. That being said, the restaurant proudly displays its Guinness World Record for making the longest ever kebab, which stretched a whopping 325 metres. The staff make you feel at ease and strike the perfect balance between being friendly and not overly intrusive. They joked along with us but also left us alone to enjoy the meal. The feta cheese and mint tyropitakia was excellent – the filo pastry was light and crispy and the cheese was perfectly melted. The infusion of mint lifted the flavour and gave the starter an unexpected kick. The main course of vegetarian moussaka, with its layers of aubergines and courgettes, topped with potato, cheese and Bechamel sauce was devilishly good – rich, yet simple and cooked to perfection. You could tell the vegetables were fresh and a lot of effort was put into the presentation of the meal. The chocolate fudge cake was moist and gooey – the most sought after traits of a good chocolate cake. The cake came swimming in cream, so you have to race to eat it before it turns into a chocolatey mush. A three-course set menu is available for £13.95 (£10 for students) and there is a full a la carte menu – from salads to steaks, and everything Greek in between. The verdict? Great food, great evening. It’s not your typical plate-smashing Greek taverna. The surroundings are quaint and it is a good choice if you want somewhere to go where you can have a chat over a meal. The Olive Tree is just off the roundabout on Rodley Lane, Leeds. (Contact: 0113 2569283 or visit www.olivetreegreekrestaurant.co.uk) They also have restaurants on Harrogate Road in Chapel Allerton and Otley Road in Headingley. More Scores: 9/10


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Sofa surfing the USA

WITH HOSTS:At the Golden Gate Bridge, San Fransisco

Chloe Doyle tells her story about Couch Surfing in America.

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have come to expect confused faces and bemused expressions when I tell people how my friend and I couch surfed our way around America for four months. In this time we managed to avoid all accommodation costs. With the summer holidays approaching, more people will be travelling abroad and the questions emerge - would you couch surf? Or let a couch surfer stay with you? Couch Surfing is a non-profit global network between travellers and communities, run from the internet. It connects travellers with locals in over 230 countries around the world. It allows you to stay with hosts in different locations for free leaving you spare cash to explore your destination further.

SIGN OF TIMES: On a surfer’s itinerary The couch surfing mantra is – “Participate in creating a better world, one couch at a time.” You can change the settings on the site to your chosen language – this makes it easily accessible to everyone. The couch surfing website said: “Couch Surfing is a non-profit organisation, funded entirely by the generous donations of members and run according to a set of guiding principles.” The idea is to learn about other people’s cultures and share yours with them. Data compiled from the couch surfing network shows that members come from over 69,000 different cities and practice 302 languages. Since 2004 travellers have used the site for cultural exchange, friendship, and learning experiences. Over 1.8 million people have successfully been able to share hospitality and cultural understanding so far. Because of this, 1.9 million friendships have been made and over 120,000 of these are described as being close relationships. The

SURFING IN LOS ANGELES: Corinne Saunder (left) and Chloe Doyle network also shows that members have reported over 4.3 million positive experiences, which is 99.7 per cent of all couch surfing experiences. Executive director of the organisation Casey Fenton launched the site on January 1, 2003, with the help of co-founders Dan Hoffer, Sebastian LeTuan, and Leonardo Bassano de Silveira. People from all over the world support the couch surfing community - many contributing as volunteers from home, along with a smaller team of long-term staff. It is run through a secure site that contains pictures and information about you on your own account. You simply join, and start searching for hosts. You can browse people’s profiles depending on the locations that you want to visit, and see all other messages and ratings from their past couch surfers. Simply ask the host online if you can stay on certain dates, and wait for a reply. Everyone we left a message with got back to us. Hosts have the opportunity to meet people without leaving home. Surfers are able to participate in the local life of the places they visit. We stayed with many hosts in different states. All the people we asked to stay with were experienced hosts. For the first time, my friend and I just acted as hosts to fellow “surfer”, Alan Klein, 20, of San Diego, at our house in Horsforth. The host plays an entirely different role to the couch surfer. You are more dubious of someone coming into your home than you are of going to a stranger’s house, whether it’s because you are worried about your belongings or it’s intrusion of your personal space. Being a host is different because you feel responsible for the person staying with you. You feel obliged to entertain, feed and generally look after them, which we didn’t realise before we were hosts ourselves. When I share my story, some people think I’m extremely brave or have no regard for my personal safety. Zach Long, 21, an accountant from San Francisco and an experienced couch surfing host, said: “The concept may seem strange to many people but I had an open mind about the concept. It takes a certain kind of person to take the first step and try it. Now I’m a couch surfing ambassador and have had so many people staying with me from all over the world. I even organise events to get hosts and their travellers all together in my area at a local bar or cafe. Then you can become a couch surfing collective for your area or state.”

SURFING WEST AMERICA: Hoover Dam Not talking to strangers is installed in us from a young age. Couch surfing goes against these rules breaking down our safety barriers. Everyone I met while couch surfing was polite, welcoming and fun. Yet the dangers still exist and need to be considered. Jennifer Mervyn, 40, of Canada said: “When I first told my dad I was going couch surfing around New York by myself, he told me to buy pepper spray.” Couch surfing gave me the opportunity to do things and go places that I would never have been able to do. Unfortunately my attitude towards couch surfing would have been different if I was travelling unaccompanied. I am positive that my family and friends would have had strong reservations about letting me go if I were to be travelling alone. There is an uncertainty attached to travelling by yourself. At some point you may be placed in a vulnerable position. The site is monitored so that no bad comment made about a host can be deleted from their profile page meaning if someone has a bad experience there is no way of hiding it. You are identity checked, and hold a verified number from the network to make surfers feel safer. You do have to be extremely trusting – even with these security checks you can never make a full judgment about someone. I would definitely couch surf again. It gives you the freedom to travel anywhere and not worry so much about financial costs. If you’re the adventurous type why not try it out this summer?

Contact NLN MORE T: 0113 283 7318 E: editor@northleedsnews.co.uk Issue three edited by Stephanie Burns  and Chloe Doyle Next issue: May 14


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