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Lost John (Devon, England)
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Oral-B Trizone 4000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Oral-B Trizone 4000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Price: 55.00

4.0 out of 5 stars I am completely sold on the TriZone head, but base models usually offer best value, 28 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I already have some experience of recent model Braun Oral-B electric toothbrushes and have tried the TriZone, Cross Action and Sensitive Clean heads, so am in a good position to make comparisons.

First the power unit. This one is the most sophisticated of those I have tried, offering a red light that is illuminated if too much pressure is applied to the teeth, and three brushing modes (Sensitive, Whitening, Gum Care) besides the basic twice-daily brushing mode. The various modes are cycled through by repeatedly pressing the switch; press it a fourth time and the brushing stops altogether. Alternatively, after brushing normally, or in either the Sensitive or Whitening mode, the unit can be switched off by pressing the button firmly for a couple of seconds or so. That takes quite a bit of pressure from a hand that may be wet and smeared with toothpaste, and for an older person could be a problem. The base model (the 1000) could be more suitable for them - the button is similar, but it is simply on/off, with no additional modes.

What about those modes? How useful are they? Well, maybe for some people, some of the time, but it strikes me that (as with cars and cameras!) the base model does all that is really important and offers the best value. The salesman's job is to talk you up the range to models offering a greater profit margin.

Do especially be warned that although the whitening mode may gradually remove stains from tobacco or strong black tea, if your teeth are not naturally white, no amount of brushing will make them so. That needs expensive dental treatment.

There is no missing the red light indicating too much pressure when it flashes - not even with closed eyes! As with the timer - briefly interrupting the cleaning action after 30 seconds, one minute, one minute 30 seconds, and so on, with a particularly 'long' interruption after two minutes' brushing - this may be good for initial 'training', but I would prefer that they could be switched-off after we get to know how much pressure is needed and roughly how long to spend on each rank of teeth (approx. 30 seconds per quartile).

A full charge gets me through 15 tooth-brushing sessions of a little more than two minutes each, so that's just over a week of one person brushing twice a day. A full charge - from red flashing light to solid green - takes a little less than 24 hours if the unit is not used meanwhile, closer to 36 hours if it is. Compared to many other items with rechargeable batteries, that is a long time. It is because induction charging is used, which is safer in a wet environment and, apart from the wait for a full charge, easy and convenient to use.

The TriZone 4000 comes with a plastic ring that fits over the recharging base. Attached to that is a little box that holds four spare or additional cleaning heads. Making use of the coloured identification bands that come with the cleaning heads, a family of as many as four or five can thereby share use of the same basic unit.

I have kept the best to last; of the several heads I have tried, the TriZone is my favourite. In fact, I am completely sold on it. It takes up more space in the mouth than circular heads, and is therefore harder to get behind the back teeth, but it is no bigger than a conventional adult-size toothbrush, so (for an adult) it is entirely manageable really. Thoughtfully applied to each surface of the teeth in turn, it does a very thorough cleaning job. TriZone heads fit any of the Oral-B 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 range, even if the power unit was originally bought with round heads. This particular model comes with a starter set of three TriZone heads.


Rotring RO800+ 0.5 GB Mechanical Pencil with Stylus - Black
Rotring RO800+ 0.5 GB Mechanical Pencil with Stylus - Black
Price: 43.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully engineered; a great pleasure to own and use, 27 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Made almost entirely of metal and impeccably finished, this is a beautifully engineered item of equipment; a great pleasure to own and use.

Oddly enough, it is only a matter of days since I wrote a review of the Staedtler Mars Micro 775 Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm, noting that I have owned one for at least six years (I forget exactly when I bought it), and found it better than the various members of the competition that I have also used. Three Staedtlers that I bought recently were replacements for other makes that had either died or been lost.

Then along comes this Rotring 800+. All that I wrote about the Staedtler remains true, but this Rotring is in another class. The '+' means it has the facility to quickly and smoothly withdraw the lead, its immediate sleeve and the sleeve around that, leaving a smooth, rubberised stub with which to tap at a touchscreen. It is also better in a pocket, not having that sharp point to poke holes through the fabric, etc. Those parts of a Staedtler can also be pushed-in, but not so easily, not so completely, and the resulting head (blunt, but still somewhat pointed) is still not suitable for a touchscreen.

Retracting and returning the point of the Rotring to the business position is just a matter of half a turn of the top end of the barrel. Being restored, the lead is immediately ready for use and is held firmly. I have looked at drawn lines under a magnifying glass and the lead achieves a lot of finesse, from the heavier end of a tick, say, to the delicacy of the top end as pressure is progressively withdrawn from the stroke. Ruled lines are consistent and precise; squiggly circles almost artistic, even in my hands. So it's good for technical drawing, art work, and probably also for doodling in meetings.

The pencil comes with only two pre-loaded leads, but packs of two dozen are not expensive compared to the better-quality competition. Packs of 40 generic leads from high street chain stationers break so easily they really don't represent better value.


Bosch PSB 1800 LI-2 Cordless Impact Drill
Bosch PSB 1800 LI-2 Cordless Impact Drill
Offered by toolsdown
Price: 97.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Quite a dinky drill, 24 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Bosch drill this one supersedes, the PSB 18 LI-2, has been my main drill/screwdriver for home use for just over three years. I have been, and remain, very happy with it, but it has one important fault; after the drill is run and then stopped, the chuck slackens. In consequence, it is necessary to tighten the chuck again before continuing, and if you are unlucky you can have the bit/screwdriver head fall out altogether, perhaps even falling into some inaccessible place and/or falling to the ground from a height. It's not just me, many reviews of the 18 LI-2 report the same, so that feature must have done Bosch's reputation no good at all.

The really good news is that this drill, the 1800 LI-2, has a different chuck and, try as I might - and I have, over and over again - I can't get the chuck to slacken in that way. So that box is now ticked.

What else is new? This drill is significantly lighter and slimmer. Quite a dinky drill, in fact. That means better accessibility in tight corners and less weight to support as you work. To achieve that, the maximum torque has been reduced (from 48 to 39Nm) and maximum drilling capacities into wood, steel and masonry have all been trimmed a little (to 30mm, 10mm and 10mm, respectively). Will that make an important difference? In most DIY circumstances almost certainly not. Those 30mm, 10mm and 10mm holes are still pretty big to be drilling into their respective materials, and I for one have never had to use the upper end of the torque setting on any drill to get a screw in or out. (If a screw is really tight, the driver head destroys the screw long before it gets to maximum torque - I had that experience just yesterday, using this drill to repair a picnic table.)

Less weight also leads to my chief reservation with this model - no handle. Looking at the Bosch and other ranges, it looks as if handles are rapidly disappearing in the drills for DIY market. Well, OK, if you never had one you probably won't miss it, but it's good to be able to use the non-trigger hand to lend support. The only option now is to hold some part of the drill.

The battery and the charger are identical to those on my 18 LI-2, so 1) I know they are reliable and do a good job and 2) there is scope for interchange - as well as with other compatible Bosch power tools.

The lithium battery holds its charge between uses remarkably well, and at the DIY home maintenance level an amazing amount of work can be got out of a single charge. That includes powering the LED 'headlight' too. The light shines on the work area whenever the trigger of the drill is squeezed. When driving screws in good light, you might not even notice it is on, but when drilling in your own shadow (however good the light behind you) it is really useful - in practice, a safety feature.

And right beside the headlight is a set of three green lights to indicate the state of the battery. They are useful too, especially as for the home maintenance user (holes for plugs and screws; a bit of screwdriving; rarely much intensive use) recharges are only needed very infrequently.

The instruction manual is reasonably good. If you never used a drill of this type before, I think the explanation of what the various controls do would be clear enough, although they are mostly diagrammatic, not verbal.


Ryobi LLCDI18022 18V One Plus 2-Speed Hammer Drill/ Driver with 2 x 1.3Ah Batteries and 45 Minute Fast Charger
Ryobi LLCDI18022 18V One Plus 2-Speed Hammer Drill/ Driver with 2 x 1.3Ah Batteries and 45 Minute Fast Charger
Price: 134.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, neat, handy to use, but heavy for a drill with no side-handle, 24 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Whilst not a professional tool, within its class this is a powerful drill, with the added utility and convenience of also serving as a screwdriver (also powerful for its class). It is neat in appearance, handy to use, and looks likely to stand the test of time, even with quite heavy use. Weighing against that, though, is that it is quite chunky (think tight corners), weighs almost 2kg (4lbs) and has no side handle. However, as it stands, all that is there is good, so five stars, not four.

I am familiar with a Bosch drill of similar design, so the position and use of the various controls seemed intuitive, i.e. they weren't much different. (I have used a recent model Black & Decker drill too - also very similar in controls and operation.) For a user new to drills of this type, it would take a little time to find your way around changing the speed and direction of rotation, also making the necessary adjustments for turning the hammer action on and off and the torque setting for screwdriving. With a tool with so much potential to do damage, the instruction leaflet should certainly be consulted in any case. It seems very adequate for instructing the beginner, and got me reading it even though I 'think' I know what I am doing, not least because of the detailed information on what the drill can handle. E.g. 'Deck or wood screws up to 76.2mm long', 'Drill bits up to 12.7mm', 'Spade bits up to 38.1mm', and so on.

At 1.8kg (including battery) - the specification says 1.93kg (??) - it's rather heavy to operate without having a side-handle to facilitate two-handed use. There are other drills in the Ryobi range that have handles, the LCDI1802M for instance.

And, speaking of the Ryobi range, a multitude of other Ryobi power tools can be powered using the same battery and charger, so that may help to justify the outlay on this tool, which comes with two batteries as well as a charger. Given the time that a 1.3Ah lithium battery lasts in non-professional use, and that the charger offers a 45 minute charge, two batteries as standard might otherwise seem excessive.

With or without a battery installed, the drill stands firmly upright on its base. Unfortunately from a convenience point of view, the batteries cannot be charged whilst still attached to the drill, as Bosch batteries can. That may, however, be advantageous in terms of safety (no exposed terminals and no possibility of trying to use the drill whilst it is attached - through the charger - to the mains).

The unit comes with a double-ended screwdriver head (for plain and cross-head screws) and - a nice touch this - has a slot on top of the battery housing that the screwdriver head can be clipped into when not in use.

With the drill comes an attractive and useful tool bag. It easily accommodates the drill, charger and both batteries, leaving room for a pack of sandwiches as well if you want that. But actually, the bag is so nice you might want to keep the drill, its charger and spare battery on a shelf and use the bag purely as a lunch bag!


Oral-B Braun CrossAction Replacement Rechargeable Toothbrush Heads - (Pack of 8 Refills)
Oral-B Braun CrossAction Replacement Rechargeable Toothbrush Heads - (Pack of 8 Refills)
Price: 22.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Family pack, 21 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you change your toothbrush head every three months, as recommended by Oral-B, this pack is two years' supply for an individual. So it might be seen as more of a 'family pack' - two people, one year; four people, six months; etc. Before buying, though, it is always a good idea to check relative pricing (including carriage) of two of the four or five packs), and not just assume the larger pack offers better value.

The brushes themselves are fine - with no question that they are the genuine Oral-B product - and each comes with its own coloured collar to identify whose brush head is whose where two or more people are using the same power unit and/or bathroom. There are four colours, red, green, blue, yellow, so two of each in this pack.


Staedtler Mars Micro 775 Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm
Staedtler Mars Micro 775 Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm
Offered by K Direct
Price: 3.57

5.0 out of 5 stars 'Yer pays yer money and yer makes yer choice', 17 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have been using mechanical pencils for many years, working my way through a number of brands, and the Staedtler Mars Micro is the best I have ever had. Its particularly strong features are its lead feed mechanism - which is firm and has never given me any trouble - and the comfortable rubberised grip towards the bottom of the barrel. For what it's worth, the pencil's appearance is distinctive too, and the metal pocket grip doesn't detach itself.

I don't remember when I bought my first Staedtler, but think it must have been at least six years ago. I still have it, and have just bought three more, not because of any problems with the original, but because I have gradually lost some others that I had for different places, different pockets, etc.

The leads that come with the pencil - sadly only three as a starter - are superior to own-brand replacements from stationery chains. So I have gone back to paying Staedtler's price for 12 Staedtler Mars Micro Carbon 0.5mm HB Mechanical Pencil Lead, which is not much less than at least one chain's price for 40. Even in experienced hands (mine), the latter break frequently; if someone borrows the pencil they get frustrated because the cheap leads break repeatedly. Staedtler leads mostly don't.

So yer pays yer money and yer makes yer choice - mine's a Staedtler.


Oral-B Pro 3000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Oral-B Pro 3000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Price: 44.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Does a good job, but the off switch may be difficult for the elderly, 4 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I already have some experience of recent model Braun Oral-B electric toothbrushes and have tried the TriZone, Cross Action and Sensitive Clean heads, so am in a good position to make comparisons.

First the power unit. This one is the second most sophisticated of those I have tried, offering a red light that is illuminated if too much pressure is applied to the teeth, and two brushing modes (Gum Care and Sensitive) besides the basic twice-daily brushing mode. The various modes are cycled through by repeatedly pressing the switch; press it a third time and the brushing stops altogether. Alternatively, after brushing normally, or in the Gum Care mode, the unit can be switched off by pressing the button firmly for a couple of seconds or so. That takes quite a bit of pressure from a hand that may be wet and smeared with toothpaste, and for an older person could be a problem. The base model, the 1000 could be more suitable for them - the button is similar, but it is simply on/off, with no additional modes.

What about those additional modes? How useful are they? Well, maybe for some people, some of the time, but the overall brushing effect isn't much different and it strikes me that (as with cars and cameras!) the base model does all that is really important and offers the best value. The salesman's job is to talk you up the range to models offering a greater profit margin.

There is no missing the red light indicating too much pressure when it flashes - not even with closed eyes! As with the timer - briefly interrupting the cleaning action after 30 seconds, one minute, one minute 30 seconds, and so on, with a particularly 'long' interruption after two minutes' brushing - this may be good for initial `training', but I would prefer that they could be switched-off after we get to know how much pressure is needed and roughly how long to spend on each rank of teeth (approx. 30 seconds per quartile).

A full charge gets me through 15 tooth-brushing sessions of a little more than two minutes each, so that's just over a week of one person brushing twice a day. A full charge - from red flashing light to solid green - takes a little less than 24 hours if the unit is not used meanwhile, closer to 36 hours if it is. Compared to many other items with rechargeable batteries, that is a long time. It is because induction charging is used, which is safer in a wet environment and, apart from the wait for a full charge, easy and convenient to use.

The TriZone 3000 comes with a plastic ring with a pair of stalks on it that fits over the recharging base. The stalks are for a couple of spare or additional cleaning heads. Making use of the coloured identification bands that come with the cleaning heads, a family of up to three can thereby share use of the same basic unit.

The heads supplied with the unit, 'Cross Action' and 'Sensitive Clean' are both entirely competent when it comes to cleaning teeth. I was surprised not to find the 'Sensitive Clean' very much gentler than the 'Cross Action' - it is gentler, but not massively so. But then, the 'Cross Action' isn't at all hard on the teeth or gums. So have a go with both, and replace with whichever you prefer - or try one of the alternatives. For myself, I am sold on the 'TriZone'. It takes up more space in the mouth than circular heads, and is therefore harder to get behind the back teeth, but it is no bigger than a conventional adult-size toothbrush, so (for an adult) it is entirely manageable really.


TCP LED GU10 5 Watt LED Spotlight, White
TCP LED GU10 5 Watt LED Spotlight, White
Price: 5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better over kitchen or other work surfaces than in more ambient areas, 4 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have more than 40 GU10 type spotlights in my house, so am very interested in replacing the old 50w halogen bulbs with 4.5 to 5.5 watt LEDs. The first I bought, back in November 2011, emits a light that is closer to moonlight than sunlight, but after I acquired my first Philips LED bulb, in June 2013, I became confident that the era of LED bulbs as GU10 replacements had fully arrived. This is my second non-Philips bulb that has proved entirely satisfactory (Auraglow as well as this TCP), so Philips is no longer the only name to look for, if it ever was.

As I have experimented with the various bulbs (eight in total now, all different), I have discovered that the key numbers to look out for are the colour temperature and the beam angle. Whether a bulb consumes 4.5, 5.0 or 5.5 watts really isn't hugely important when replacing a 50 watt bulb - and anyway, how accurate within that wattage range is the claim? Neither am I too bothered whether a bulb boasts an average life of 20,000 hours, 40,000 hours, or something in between. In most home situations, 20,000 hours of use is likely to extend over a good ten years, 40,000 over more than 20 years. Will we still be using the same light units 10 or 20 years from now? Will we still be living in the same house? So long as other performance features of the bulb meet my needs, and the unit cost of the bulb is right, 20,000 hours will do for me. This TCP bulb claims a life of 25,000 hours, so I have no concerns about that.

The colour temperature is 3000k. That is claimed as 'warm white', though to my mind it is very noticeably on the white side of warm white. 2700k achieves a match to what we are most used to from GU10s. A bigger number means a whiter light.

The beam angle also matters; in this case it is 36 degrees. The halogen GU10 bulbs we are familiar with are usually within the range 36-40 degrees, so this one is at the tighter (spotlight) end of that range. A wider beam angle sheds more of its light high up on any adjacent wall (good for illuminating pictures and for general ambience), a lower number concentrates the beam, making it more of a spot light and more likely to direct a pool of bright light all the way from ceiling to floor.

In all, I'm well pleased with this bulb for use over kitchen work surfaces or a workbench, and as a living area or office reading light. In a sitting or dining area, or as a reading light over my bed, I prefer the yellower, warmer white of 2700k.


Philips 5W (50W) GU10 Master LED Value Spot Light, Warm White 3000K, Dimmable
Philips 5W (50W) GU10 Master LED Value Spot Light, Warm White 3000K, Dimmable
Price: 14.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Better over kitchen or other work surfaces than in more ambient areas - though dimmable, if you have enough bulbs on the circuit, 4 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have more than 40 GU10 type spotlights in my house, so am very interested in replacing the old 50w halogen bulbs with 4.5 to 5.5 watt LEDs. The first I bought, back in November 2011, emits a light that is closer to moonlight than sunlight, but after I acquired my first Philips LED bulb, in June 2013, I became confident that the era of LED bulbs as GU10 replacements had now fully arrived. (In fairness, brands other than Philips are also good now; I have a couple of others, Auraglow and TCP, that are entirely satisfactory.)

As I have experimented with the various bulbs (eight in total now, all different), I have discovered that the key numbers to look out for are the colour temperature and the beam angle. Whether a bulb consumes 4.5, 5.0 or 5.5 watts really isn't hugely important when replacing a 50 watt bulb - and anyway, how accurate within that wattage range is the claim? Neither am I too bothered whether a bulb boasts an average life of 20,000 hours, 40,000 hours, or something in between. In most home situations, 20,000 hours of use is likely to extend over a good ten years, 40,000 over more than 20 years. Will we still be using the same light units 10 or 20 years from now? Will we still be living in the same house? So long as other performance features of the bulb meet my needs, and the unit cost of the bulb is right, 20,000 hours will do for me. This Philips bulb claims a life of 25,000 hours, so I have no concerns about that.

In a commercial situation, though, where lights in, say, a shop window, could be on for more than 8500 hours a year, bulb life might be a consideration and, given that it is dimmable, this bulb could be regarded as being aimed at the commercial sector. Dimmer switches tend only to operate satisfactorily on circuits with at least 40 watts of lighting. That's eight or more of these bulbs. Other than in commercial situations, not many people have eight or more GU10 lights on a single switch.

The colour temperature is 3000k. That is claimed as 'warm white', though to my mind it is very noticeably on the white side of warm white. 2700k achieves a match to what we are most used to from GU10s. A bigger number means a whiter light.

The beam angle also matters; in this case it is 36 degrees. The halogen GU10 bulbs we are familiar with are usually within the range 36-40 degrees, so this one is at the tighter (spotlight) end of that range. A wider beam angle sheds more of its light high up on any adjacent wall (good for illuminating pictures and for general ambience), a lower number concentrates the beam, making it more of a spot light and more likely to direct a pool of bright light all the way from ceiling to floor.

In all, I'm well pleased with this bulb for use over kitchen work surfaces or a workbench, and as a living area or office reading light. In a sitting or dining area, or as a reading light over my bed, my personal preference is for the yellower, warmer white of 2700k.


Subtly Worded (Pushkin Collection)
Subtly Worded (Pushkin Collection)
by Teffi
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Coffee should be drunk very hot and with cognac", 21 July 2014
Born in St Petersburg in 1872, Teffi wrote and published prolifically both before and after the Bolshevik Revolution, before and after her 1920 migration to Paris, and before and after the Second World War. She died, in Paris, in 1952.

The stories in this volume represent most periods of her writing, from 1910 to 1952. There is no obvious correlation between date and length, subject matter and style (all of which vary widely), except that And Time was no More, dating from 1948 and placed last in the book, deals meditatively and sensitively with the subject of death.

Observations of and on death feature throughout the book. In Jealousy we read, 'In one little corner lived a dead beetle. ... It wasn't afraid and didn't run away. It was completely dead and living a peaceful life'. The Lifeless Beast recounts 'the woollen death' of a stuffed nursery toy, a ram. The ram's death, inflicted by an outsize rat, underlines the end of innocence as a small girl comes to the end of the nursery stage of her life against a background of the seemingly irretrievable breakdown of her parents' marriage. In Heart of a Valkyrie, the recently departed husband of a concierge acquires in death an individual identity denied him in life, and the status of a philosopher: "My dear André often used to say that coffee should be drunk very hot and with cognac."

In The Quiet Backwater we learn some important folklore relating to name days. Even the cow's name day must be remembered and observed, for if some unkind word is spoken to her on her name day it is a sin, and on high an angel will begin to weep. In Que Faire? the 19th Century Romantic poet Fyodor Tyutchev is quoted as having declared, "You cannot understand Russia with your mind."

The title story, Subtly Worded (1920), is one of two in which small amendments to a letter completely change its meaning. Its reference to censorship - which makes necessary the amendments - famine and executions in the Soviet Union is more explicit than in any other story in this collection. Duty and Honour performs a similar trick on a brief note to an illicit lover.

The Dog (A story from a stranger), in part a Civil War story, showcases Teffi's ability - frequently glimpsed in other stories too - to communicate the feminine point of view, especially in sexual attraction and courtship: the yearning; tentative outreach; the electricity of a potentially disastrous coupling; the resisted realisation and ultimate acceptance that a relationship has no future.

Sitting entirely in context with all that surrounds them are two 'stories' of great fascination because of what they purport to tell us about Rasputin and Tolstoy. Teffi claims only 'two brief encounters' with Rasputin, but at 46 pages the 'story' is the longest in the book.

A single encounter between the thirteen year old Teffi and Tolstoy was indeed brief. Teffi gained admission to the great man's Moscow home but, losing her nerve, abandoned her intention to plead with the author of War and Peace for the life of Prince Andrey and left only with his autograph on a small photograph she had brought with her.


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