I like taking pictures when I get the chance. I made what I now think was a mistake by selling my nice camera some time ago, and recently have been doing research into a replacement. While doing this research I found that Amazon UK is currently selling the Canon G9 in their post-Christmas sale for £230 - very good value indeed. I wouldn't normally be given to writing puff pieces for products, even with a crafty Amazon associates referral link dropped in there, but I thought this was mentioning.
The G9 is a chunky, robust (metal-bodied) digital compact camera that's about the closest you can get to DSLR results from a compact. It has the sort of controllability you'd expect from an SLR, including actual honest-to-goodness dials on the top for mode and ISO, and even has a hot shoe for attaching an external flash. It's nice to handle and has a rangefinder feel - if you fantasise about owning a Leica you can close your eyes and pretend you're using an M8. I've found mine to be great fun for taking pictures with, and the compact size - it's not a tiny compact, but it's still radically smaller than an SLR and fits in a pocket - perfect for actually carrying it around with me. It's got a nice long zoom lens (35-210mm equiv) with a usefully wide wide end and extremely good image stabilisation to make handheld photography in low light do-able. I shot this photo here handheld at 1/8 sec. If you want even more control it'll even shoot RAW. I love mine to bits, in short.
It's the price it is because Canon superseded it quite quickly with the G10. The reception the G10 got was decidedly lukewarm as Canon seemed mostly interested in chasing megapixels rather than building a better camera, and the only addition that I really found worth worrying about was that exposure compensation now has a dial too. The G10 did do something useful, though - it had the useful effect of pushing the price of the G9 way down to the point that if I were in the market for a new camera right now, I'd jump at it like a shot.
Of course, 230 quid is fairly close to the prices of entry-level DSLRs like the Nikon D40 so if you want serious photography you'd most likely be better off picking up one of those, but for a camera you can take just about everywhere you go and still use to take great photos, the G9 is hard to beat.