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Cartimand (Hampshire, UK.)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   

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Gillette Fusion Manual Razor with Flexball Technology
Gillette Fusion Manual Razor with Flexball Technology
Price: £10.55

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally smooth shave - at a price, 2 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For convenience sake, I normally use an electric shaver, but treat myself to the occasional wet shave. This latest Gillette innovation has just given me a shave as good as any I can remember. The razor has a nice weight to it and glides through your stubble without tugging. I'm not convinced that the gimmick of the pivoting ball adds a great deal to the overall shaving experience but, if a close and comfortable shave is what you're after, then this Flexball Fusion would be very hard to beat.

Why then only 4 stars? Well, I can't help thinking that this is a somewhat over-engineered solution. The lubricating strip and no fewer than 5 blades makes for a very wide head. This makes it a bit tricky to shave under your nose or around any beard you want to keep. Furthermore, at £12 with just one razor head supplied, I don't feel this represents very good value for money.

So there's the rub; if you don't mind spending this much money on a razor, then the Proglide Fusion will certainly leave your face feeling beautifully smooth. If, however, budget is a concern and maybe you want to shave around some carefully shaped facial hair, then this may not be the best choice for you.


Vax Floors and All Pet U86-PF-Pe Upright Vacuum
Vax Floors and All Pet U86-PF-Pe Upright Vacuum
Price: £139.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Vax yet - love it!, 28 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Years ago, we were Dyson users and felt that Vax models were just pale imitations. The latest Vax vacuums though are so innovative, effective and value for money that it's just a no-brainer which make to choose these days.

This U86 combines the light weight and portability of a compact with the sheer dust busting power of a top quality upright. Some great design features further enhance its functionality. For general carpet cleaning, you can use it in default upright mode. Then whip out the extension tube and hose to access dusty areas where other vacuums would not reach. Finally, the piece de resistance is being able to disconnect the cylinder from the base unit, which is great for long staircases or even for reaching up to clean cobwebby ceilings.

This model is particularly effective on picking up pet hairs and, after the first pass across our living room carpet, we were genuinely surprised at how much fluff and of our domestic long-haired puss' shed coat ended up in the dirt container.

A crevice tool, hard floor head and turbo tool are included. I particularly like the latter, which is ideal for stairs and reaching under furniture.

The manual is well written and clearly illustrated and a two-year warranty completes this quality product.

Only very minor irritation is that you need to clean the filters every 3 months (which is more frequently than a Dyson). This means rinsing the pre-motor filter and allowing it to dry naturally for 24 hours. So, slightly irksome, but a small price to pay for such an efficient and beautifully designed vacuum cleaner.

I have no hesitation in recommending this Vax very highly indeed.


The Death's Head Chess Club
The Death's Head Chess Club
by John Donoghue
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful story, beautifully told, 24 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When I ordered this novel, set for the most part in the infamous concentration camp, I was expecting a story that would be unremittingly grim and brutal. Parts of it certainly are. John Donoghue never shies away from depicting the dreadful horror and privation experienced by the inmates. What makes The Death's Head Chess Club stand out though is the exceptional characterisation. The good, the bad and the downright hideous are all utterly believable. Even the appalling Gestapo are fleshed out beyond mere "ve haff vays.." cliches. Above all, this novel manages to be wonderfully uplifting, with its central theme of forgiveness, reconciliation and finding yourself.

It's cleverly and very effectively structured in pre-, during and post-war sequences, which sometimes blend together, creating a profound poignancy.

It's also meticulously researched - if you couldn't tell your Obersturmbannführer from your Hauptscharführer, you will after reading this. Furthermore, a huge bonus, for lovers of chess is the detail in which some moves and gambits are described, which prompted me to play some of them out on the chessboard.

Quite simply, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

If handled sympathetically, it would make a tremendous film!


Ultrasport Paris Bike Helmet Schwarz/weiß/grau Size:58 - 62 cm
Ultrasport Paris Bike Helmet Schwarz/weiß/grau Size:58 - 62 cm
Price: £22.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally light and comfortable helmet, 22 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
At an astonishingly light 270g, this Ultrasport helmet is substantially lighter than my previous helmet. I'm quite a big guy and the 58-62cm size fits me fine, although I did have to adjust the head-ring almost to the maximum.

The helmet sits slightly higher on your head than I'm used to. Its shape is fairly bulbous on top with quite a square rear. Slightly unusual but not unattractive. The visor is nicely positioned too. Plenty of cut-outs ensure optimum ventilation.

Obviously the value of a cycle helmet is in protecting your head in case of a bad fall and, as this one meets all the European standards, that is reassuring.

If ultra light weight without compromising safety are your main criteria in choosing a helmet rather than the more streamlined and sexy looks of other helmets, then this is definitely recommended.


Igenix Mini Food Chopper, 200 Watt, White
Igenix Mini Food Chopper, 200 Watt, White
Price: £16.97

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonably effective chopper, but not the most intelligent design, 21 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Tried this little unit with some onion first and it did a pretty effective job, chopping most of the onion to a fine consistency in 5 to 10 seconds. Some large chunks got thrown to the top of the bowl and I found I had to stop the process, remove the motor unit and push them back to the bottom where the blades are. No real problem though and I had some very finely chopped onion within a minute. Next tried raw carrot and this was less successful initially. Dropping a medium sized raw carrot into the bowl and pressing the button seemed to jam up the works. I found I had to start things off by manually chopping the carrot into more manageable chunks before letting the iGenix do the rest. Again though, within perhaps a minute I had some very nice uniformly chopped carottes râpées. There is only one speed and I found using the iGenix in short bursts was most effective.

Cleaning the iGenix was a bit fiddly to say the least. The blade lifts out of the bowl, so that portion of the device can be washed very easily. You are warned in the (badly written by someone whose command of English is not that great) user guide not to get water on the motor unit, but how then are you supposed to clean all the bits of chopped vegetable that will completely splatter it, including up inside the drive hole? In the end, I winkled out the detritus with a bit of rolled up kitchen towel, but I couldn't help feeling that they should have designed the motor unit to be isolated from the food chopping bowl. Furthermore, the motor unit, which is the heavy bit, sits on top of the bowl. That struck me as utterly illogical, as it makes the whole unit very top heavy and unstable.

Maybe I'm being a tad uncharitable though. This is an inexpensive unit, which will do a decent enough job of chopping your vegetables (I made some very successful rösti using it last night).I can't help feeling though that a little more thought should have been applied at the design stage to improve overall function and usability.


Tred-Lite Orthotic Insoles Wedges 4-degree Forefoot (self adhesive) - Firm Density
Tred-Lite Orthotic Insoles Wedges 4-degree Forefoot (self adhesive) - Firm Density
Offered by Orthotics for Life
Price: £13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Simple and inexpensive treatment for pronation problems., 14 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you suffer from knee pain and have noticed uneven wear on the soles of your shoes, then orthotic wedges are certainly worth trying.

In my case, pain on the inside of both knees was coupled with my shoes wearing far more on the outer edge of the sole. This indicates underpronation/supination. I have tried full-length orthotic insoles before with some success, but wanted to address my gait problem more specifically and so gave these wedges a try.

For your money, you get six pairs of wedges. They have a self-adhesive backing which will adhere pretty well to foam, textile or leather inserts, but not to gel ones. No instructions are provided, but there is plenty of advice available online. I simply removed the existing inserts from my running shoes and stuck a wedge to the outer underside of each and reinserted. The 4 degrees angle is not a huge amount, but was definitely noticeable and should help me to pronate correctly.

Came securely packed after three days. These are an inexpensive solution which may alleviate a lot of pain resulting from an incorrect gait. Check your soles now!


Oral B Pro 3000 White and Clean Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush
Oral B Pro 3000 White and Clean Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush
Price: £44.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent functionality - best Oral B I've ever owned!, 13 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've owned a few of these Oral-Bs over the years, from the cheapest basic model, up to this little beauty and have always been impressed with their performance.

As with most things, the more you pay, the more bells and whistles you get and this Pro 3000 model has some definitely worthwhile features - the 30 second 'stutter' to help you time your brushing routine, the pressure sensor to warn when you're pressing too hard and the choice of normal, gentle or pulsed mode at the push of a button. I really like this, as it allows me to go carefully around some bridgework and then switch back to full-on mode for the rest of my gnashers. If your budget is tight then whether these extras are sufficient to justify trebling the price of the basic Oral-B model is debatable I suppose, but I for one definitely appreciate these features.

I also note that Braun has taken previous feedback into account and provided a wider stand/base, which adds some much-needed stability. The provision of 3 spare toothbrush heads was a nice bonus too.

Whilst I'm always suspicious of any claim including the words "up to..." (as any figure prefixed by "up to" must also encompass the value zero!), I have no doubt that use of a decent power toothbrush such as this will provide far better cleaning and remove more plaque than manual brushing.

Just used it this morning and my teeth really do feel dentist-clean. Overall definitely recommended - this is money well spent to invest in your oral health.


Mindfulness For Dummies
Mindfulness For Dummies
by Shamash Alidina
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well structured and very approachable introduction to this trendy technique, 18 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I seem to be building up quite a collection of these Dummies books, courtesy of the Vine programme. They are usually written in a semi jocular style, accompanied by whimsical illustrations/cartoons. This one, perhaps because of the more serious subject matter, keeps the quirkiness at bay (mostly) and provides a fairly solid and comprehensive introduction to Mindfulness.

The author encourages the reader to browse the index and jump to whatever section interests you, but I expect most readers will do as I did and start at the beginning. We are given a brief history of Mindfulness, with an acknowledgement of its eastern origins. Next, the author explores the similarities and (more importantly) the differences between Mindfulness and other superficially similar techniques including meditation, relaxation techniques, self-hypnosis etc. We then get onto the exercises themselves, which are explained in admirably simple and explicit terms, together with suggested plans/timescales.

Although you will get no firm promises, the potential benefits include reductions in stress levels, improved immune system, boosting your memory, higher productivity in whatever you do, better focus and generally an elevated sense of well-being. What's not to like?

I was hoping to practise the technique a while longer before reviewing the book, but the Vine rules only granted me 28 days. So far I can maybe testify to a greater sensation of calmness and only time will tell if the other benefits materialise.

Obviously, as with any self-help material, the onus is on you to put in the work and I will say that this well-written guide has piqued my interest sufficiently to persevere with the technique.


Philips InfraCare HP3643 650 W Infrared Lamp Half Body Treatment
Philips InfraCare HP3643 650 W Infrared Lamp Half Body Treatment
Price: £196.70

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good news for gammy knees and achy backs everywhere!, 13 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Just two days after placing my order, I took delivery of a surprisingly massive and heavy box. 5 minutes simple assembly later and I could admire my Philips health lamp. It is a very substantial unit from its heavily weighted base to its whopping great lamp head measuring 20" x 8" and resembles something you'd expect to find more in a hospital than in the home. The lamp swivels and the neck is telescopic and so can be adjusted for the optimum position and angle to treat any part of the body.

Reading the instructions revealed a very long and slightly worrying list of contraindications (including carpal tunnel syndrome, which ruled out my wife using this for her painful wrist). Thankfully painful knee joints and aching backs seem to be what this device is made for, so I eagerly switched on for my first treatment.

At a distance of around 15", the lamp belts out a surprising amount of heat, accompanied by a powerful rosy glow. It switches off automatically after the recommended duration of 15 minutes. The warmth really does seem to penetrate deep down into your joints and gives you that feeling reminiscent of returning from the beach on a hot Summer's day (but without the sunburn). The large size of the lamp means it is probably best suited to wide body areas such as the back or shoulder/neck. Trying to concentrate the light on my knee meant that ankle to thigh was also being bathed in infrared. I don't suppose that is a problem though.

I guess only time will tell whether this has any long-term effect on alleviating joint pain but it's definitely so far so good and obviously using light and warmth is more natural and therefore has to be preferable to swallowing pain killers or using loads of sprays and creams.

Not a cheap unit but extremely well-designed and well worth considering if you are prone to such chronic pain. Do check before purchasing whether you have any pre-conditions which would prevent you using it though.


The Well
The Well
by Catherine Chanter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow paced and meandering but original and exceptionally well written fable, 9 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Well (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A 40-something woman, in a fragile mental state, is returned to her idyllic rural home by military escort. What follows is a series of gradual revelations - some in the present, some in flashback, explaining the disturbing events that led to this point.

Throughout, the writing was quite superb - Ms Chanter certainly knows how to employ evocative and sometimes startling use of metaphor and simile.

Very difficult to define the genre of this novel. It's set in a vaguely dystopian Britain, where a catastrophic drought has plunged society into near-apocalyptic breakdown. There are certainly elements of holding a mirror up to society, murder-mystery, psychological horror, sexual tension, the malign coercion of religious cults and even elements of parable-like spirituality herein, all bound together by some very solid and memorable characterisation. Above all, there is a curiously unsettling, even dream-like atmosphere, that permeates everything and which will remain with this reader for a long time.

Sometimes I felt slightly frustrated by the very slow pace and, to be honest, none of the characters except for young Lucien and the sympathetic reverend Hugh were at all likeable, but the quality of writing and the edginess of this unpredictable novel saw me through to the satisfying ending.


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