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Quiverbow (Kent, England)
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Lola Rose Benita Moonbeam Agate and Cocoa Quartize Bracelet of Length 15-21cm
Lola Rose Benita Moonbeam Agate and Cocoa Quartize Bracelet of Length 15-21cm

4.0 out of 5 stars "Oh, just what I always wanted", 27 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A nice cerise/pink velvet look bag with Lola Rose (London) on the front and closed with a bow using the same colour ribbon, opens out to reveal a dual compartment. Inside one is a Lola Rose card that has something written on the reverse that is far too hard to read as the text is the same colour as the card (that cerise/pink). You have to try to catch it in the light to see what it says. The other compartment has the bracelet.

It's 8cm diameter but isn't expandable in that there are no links. It's on thin elastic that stretches out to about 10cm diameter, which is where the 15-21cm in the product heading comes from, so those with thicker wrists might find it a tad tight. There's a logo embossed gold tag attached. The 16 stones themselves aren't split equally, as the 11 Moonbeam Agate and five Cocoa Quartzite nuggets is more aesthetically pleasing. (It claims to be 'Quartize', whatever that is.) My only reservation is that the elastic doesn't appear the strongest.

Is it value for money? I can't comment, as, at the time of this review, there is no price given making it somewhat difficult to rate. Mind you, the one you never argue with says it looks nice and likes it, which is all that matters. I'm sure it won't break anyone's bank.


Britax BOB Revolution Pro (Black)
Britax BOB Revolution Pro (Black)
Price: £455.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Running with the family, 22 July 2015
There are plenty of things labelled as 'sporty'. A haircut, for instance. Who would have thought something like that would ever be described as 'sporty'? Maybe the word itself has lost its meaning, what with it being attached to everyday objects and occurrences. One item you wouldn't usually associate with that particular word is a pushchair. In the instance of Britax's BOB Revolution Pro, it's entirely justified.

Available in the ubiquitous black, as well as red or wilderness (green), it's easy to see why this chair is a premium product and at the top of the company's range. The invention (possibly by a man named Bob) is actually based on a bicycle and you can see the similarities. It's not only a pushchair; it's both a running and skating chair. With valve wheels, which are detachable at the flick of a lever, you can use this in either city (fixed) or sport (moveable) mode by using a switch on the front wheel. As with a bike, this has a hand brake on the handle for slowing down with a foot bar brake for permanent use. (There's also a tether on the handle.) If you use this chair over uneven ground, there is a two position suspension lever on the chassis.

Folding is a single-handed affair. Two clips are pulled upwards to fold forward and a red strap is pulled toward you. Though it may look big when in use, it does fold down to a convenient size for carrying in a car boot with an even smaller footprint if the wheels are removed.

The under basket is a decent size with additional storage at the rear. As usual, the canopy can be open or closed and there's a nice window section for the occupant. In addition, plenty of accessories are available; a baby carrier (with the appropriate adaptor), carrycot, the cosytoes, front tray and raincover, which I'm surprised isn't included.

From the limited time I had to assess this chair, it does look as if it justifies its cost and you'll certainly get admiring glances. My only reservation is that for a premium product, the five point seat belt fastening does seem rather cheap. It has obviously passed whatever testing needed, but for the price I would expect better.

This was tried and utilised at a Britax/Amazon testing event and as everything was already assembled, I can't comment on the ease or otherwise of that.


City on Fire
City on Fire
by Garth Risk Hallberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A damp squib, 22 July 2015
This review is from: City on Fire (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
New York 1976 and two gunshots are heard in Central Park on New Year's Eve. Hmm, a crime thriller, eh? I haven't read one of those in a while, so I thought I'd give it a go and be able to lie back in the bath reading. No such luck. It's 927 pages! No wonder the rear of the delivery van rose significantly on it's axle when this was removed from the back; it took two men to carry it to my door. (As this was a review copy, it could even be more than that come publication date.)

The title is part taken from the lyrics of a song by imagined punk band Ex Post Facto, who just happen to have reformed for a one-off New Year's Eve gig. (Well, not actually reformed, as there are no original members playing and they've had to change their name.) I suppose it's easy for an author to keep writing until they can't carry on, which is when a first draft is whittled down to make it more readable. The début novel from Garth Risk Hallberg seems to be that first draft in as much as it goes on and on until you start to wonder which will come first; the Sun going nova or the end of this book.

That isn't to say the writing isn't good, it is, and some of his metaphors, similes and such like are excellent; there's just too much of it. It seems as if Hallberg is trying to be too clever with words such as 'horripilating', 'transubstantiated', 'etiolated', 'odalisqued' and many others that abound. The short, modern day prologue and the first chapter had me thinking 'Raymond Chandler', such was the use of words and their associated images. Irrespective of the quality of writing, after 200 or so pages, I realised much of what I had read was superfluous, which makes a book begin to get tedious. Even though they may not realise, all the characters are inextricably intertwined but sometimes it seemed a bit too fanciful. The thing that was missing for me was any hint of excitement or empathy and I found myself wondering why certain characters were even included.

Though literary agents and publishing houses have bestowed great enthusiasm on this, I get the feeling that if you don't fall over yourself in praising this, then you shouldn't be reading books. Then again, does it matter what critics think about something? Isn't it the end user's thoughts that matter most? Me? I found it long-winded and rather dull. Would it have been better pared down to half it's length? It certainly wouldn't have done any harm.


K-POP® Automatic travel umbrella - black - best auto open & close, for outdoor use - beach garden sports - sun rain + wind resistant / windproof umbrellas - folding compact umbrella not clear bubble or parasol - best for men women and kids
K-POP® Automatic travel umbrella - black - best auto open & close, for outdoor use - beach garden sports - sun rain + wind resistant / windproof umbrellas - folding compact umbrella not clear bubble or parasol - best for men women and kids
Offered by Kitchen Tools LTD
Price: £29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Any umberellas? Any umberellas?*, 20 July 2015
Something everyone in this country needs is an umbrella. Even the sunniest of days can end with it raining, so carrying an item that will save you from getting wet is pretty much essential. And you won't do much better than this precipitation cover.

Folded, this is 11 inches long and has a solid handle. I would have preferred it to be a bit bigger and padded but that's just me. That handle has a wrist strap and the button for opening. Don't stand too near to anyone when you open it, as it's quite powerful. Opening out to 22 inches, once opened you can see the eight spokes have springs and you'll wonder why. Now here's the thing.

Press the button again and it closes from whence you push it in to contract the whole thing. It needs quite a strong push but that's probably due to the mechanism inside the pole. Whatever you do, don't try to find out what happens if you're under your brolly when you press the button. Believe me, it hurts. It seemed expensive at the time of writing for an umbrella but it's a good, solid one that doesn't look as if it will turn inside out when the Beaufort Scale gets to 6 (a strong breeze), a level when use of an umbrella gets difficult. (It hasn't been that windy, but it hasn't rained for weeks, either.)

This was sent to me by the manufacturer for review purposes.

* Yes, I know it isn't spelt like that but it is in the song.


Ekouaer Seamless Comfort Stretch Sports Leisure Yoga Bra Top Removable Pads
Ekouaer Seamless Comfort Stretch Sports Leisure Yoga Bra Top Removable Pads
Offered by avidlove
Price: £9.59

1.0 out of 5 stars Storm in a D cup, 20 July 2015
I was asked to get the medium size and obviously something can only be reviewed on the one in front of you and I'm told by the two people who tried it on that this is far too small for them. One is 34D, the other 36C and both found it rather difficult to breathe wearing it. It seems I was either sent an incorrect size, or Ekouaer have their sizing mixed up.

I was sent this by the manufacturer for review purposes.


Bi-Office 1200 x 900mm Aluminium Framed Felt Board - Blue
Bi-Office 1200 x 900mm Aluminium Framed Felt Board - Blue
Price: £27.07

5.0 out of 5 stars Board meeting, 19 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I knew this would be a fair size but I didn't realise how big it would look in the study. Both me and SWMBO didn't quite visualise the space on a wall this would take up but it does mean more can be on show.

Anyway, it came ready assembled (good) along with fixing screws (good) but not a pack of pins (bad). The depth of it (about 8mm) means that you will have to be careful with what you use for attaching whatever it is to the board to ensure nothing comes through the rear. What is good to use are map pins, as they have short 'spikes' with long bases, though you might be okay with standard drawing pins. As this is a huge board, you can pin a lot of items to it, so get a large box of them.

Useful in an office or school, it's big enough for everyone to use. It's a nice colour, too.


CESAR Pouch Deliciously Fresh Selection in Sauce 8x100g ,Pack of 6, 48 Pouches
CESAR Pouch Deliciously Fresh Selection in Sauce 8x100g ,Pack of 6, 48 Pouches
Price: £20.94

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars In for me, in for me. He has it in for me., 18 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There's a decent variety of meals in the box and remember, it can only be reviewed on my dog's reactions.

Day 1. I fed this to Murphy, which he gladly ate. Unfortunately, ten minutes later it was all over floor. Oh well, just one of those things.

Day 2. I mixed this with some of his usual wet food for Murphy, which he gladly ate. Unfortunately, ten minutes later it was all over floor. Oh well, just one of those things.

Day 3. I mixed this with some dried food for Murphy, which he gladly ate. Unfortunately, ten minutes later it was all over floor. Oh well, just one of those things.

Day 4. I didn't bother with it again, as it obviously doesn't agree with him.

It isn't that he didn't like it; it didn't agree with him, probably because it was too rich.


Britax KIDFIX SL Group 2/3 Highback Booster Car Seat (Black Thunder)
Britax KIDFIX SL Group 2/3 Highback Booster Car Seat (Black Thunder)
Price: £85.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Back seat driver, 15 July 2015
When it comes to car seats, the one thing you don't compromise on is safety. You might think you're getting a bargain, but never buy a second hand one from a boot fair. Avoid like the plague and only buy new. With this in mind, it's worth noting that there a multitude of choices out there split into four groups, 0/1/2 and 3 with the numbers denoting suitability for weight. A 0 seat is up to about 221bs (10kg), 1 goes to around 40lbs (18kg) and a 2/3 seat has a maximum of 5½ (36kg). Britax has a plethora of seats suitable from newborn up to that maximum allowed. This is the Kidfix SL in group 2/3 (15kg - 36kg).

Available in four fabric trims, black thunder, chili pepper, crown blue and smart zebra, this particular seat uses the ISOFIT system, which uses the same 'alligator type' metal clips as an ISOFIX seat to secure the seat in your car. The major difference between this seat and others in the Britax range is that the SL denotes 'soft latch'.

Installation:
'Soft latch' means it is easier to fit in cars that have their anchor points hard to reach. Usually, the seat has to be set in place and pushed back until the clips click onto the anchor points. The SL version allows you to attach each clip separately. A couple of plastic guides make it easier to get the clips in line with the anchor points. You'll know the seat is secure when you can see a green safety button on the locking arm. At the front of the seat is a strap which you use to pull the webbing attaching the latches tighter into the seat for a more secure position. The occupant is then secured with the seat belt. (There is no five point belt within the chair.) If your car doesn't have ISOFIX, you can use the seat belt to secure the seat on a non permanent basis.

This seat doesn't have a ratcheted back in that it can be set into different positions. It doesn't need to be. As the backrest will be against the seat itself, the belted occupier will stop it from moving forward.

Safety:
Though missing the XP and SICT of the higher priced seats in the range, like those, the headrest, which has wide wings for sideways head movement, can be moved up about seven inches by pulling the handle in the back upwards. It locks in place as soon as you release this handle.

Aesthetics:
The colour trims have removable covers (which I've done) for cleaning (which I haven't), so you can always replace whichever one you have if need be. There's supposedly a small storage compartment in the backrest, which, in all honestly, might as well not be there, as all it can be used for is to store the separate instructions in 27 languages.

Verdict:
All car seats go through the same rigorous testing procedure but it goes without saying that you buy the best one your budget will allow. Don't get something 'a bit cheaper' just to save yourself some cash. Now we come to the value for money part. You get a two year warranty and this is at the lower end of the market because it's 'soft latch' and is missing the extra chest pad and side impact cushions. It's a good seat and has been through the same testing requirements as all others, but I would pay the extra and go for the higher specification seat every time.

I tested this at a Britax event.


Britax KidFix XP High-Backed Booster (4-12 years, Chili Pepper)
Britax KidFix XP High-Backed Booster (4-12 years, Chili Pepper)
Price: £126.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Back seat of my car, 14 July 2015
When it comes to car seats, the one thing you don't compromise on is safety. You might think you're getting a bargain, but never buy a second hand one from a boot fair. Avoid like the plague and only buy new. With this in mind, it's worth noting that there a multitude of choices out there split into four groups, 0/1/2 and 3 with the numbers denoting suitability for weight. A 0 seat is up to about 221bs (10kg), 1 goes to around 40lbs (18kg) and a 2/3 seat has a maximum of 5½ (36kg).

Britax has a plethora of seats suitable from newborn up to that maximum allowed. This is the Kidfix XP in group 2/3 (15kg - 36kg). The XP denotes it has eXtra Protection, of which more later.

Available in four fabric trims, black thunder, chili pepper, cool berry and smart zebra, this particular seat uses the ISOFIT system, which uses the same 'alligator type' metal clips as an ISOFIX seat to secure the seat in your car. (Bear in mind, that unless your car is equipped with ISOFIX, the seat can move around.)

Installation:
Easy to do. The clips snap onto the anchors behind the back seat, which will stop it moving. A couple of plastic guides make it easier to get the clips in line with the anchor points. You'll know the seat is secure when you can see a green safety button on the locking arm. The occupant is then secured with the seat belt. (There is no five point belt within the chair.) If your car doesn't have ISOFIX, you can use the seat belt to secure the seat on a non permanent basis.

This seat doesn't have a ratcheted back in that it can be set into different positions. It doesn't need to be. As the backrest will be against the seat itself, the belted occupier will stop it from moving forward.

Safety:
The XP is used in conjunction with the diagonal belt. It's a rubber pad that sits over the chest area and the belt threads through it. Usually, in a frontal collision your head falls forward and your chin ends up against your sternum causing possible injury to your neck. With the XP in place, this is negated as it absorbs a lot of the force. Again, I hope none of my small passengers are ever in a position to test it. It can be used on any three point seat belt.

The headrest, which has wide wings for sideways head movement, can be moved up about seven inches by pulling the handle in the back upwards. It locks in place as soon as you release this handle.

Aesthetics:
The two colour trims, black thunder or chili pepper, have removable covers (which I've done) for cleaning (which I haven't), so you can always replace whichever one you have if need be. There's supposedly a small storage compartment in the backrest, which, in all honestly, might as well not be there, as all it can be used for is to store the separate instructions in 27 languages.

Verdict:
All car seats go through the same rigorous testing procedure but it goes without saying that you buy the best one your budget will allow. Don't get something 'a bit cheaper' just to save yourself some cash. Now we come to the value for money part. This comes with a two year warranty and for another £25 or so, you can buy the Kidfix XP SICT seat, which comes with side impact cushions, in reality huge plastic screws that absorb a large amount of energy from a side collision. It's a small price to pay.

I tested this at a Britax event.


Britax KidFix XP SICT High-Backed Booster (4-12 years, Chili Pepper)
Britax KidFix XP SICT High-Backed Booster (4-12 years, Chili Pepper)
Price: £153.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Are we there yet?", 14 July 2015
When it comes to car seats, the one thing you don't compromise on is safety. You might think you're getting a bargain, but never buy a second hand one from a boot fair. Avoid like the plague and only buy new. With this in mind, it's worth noting that there a multitude of choices out there split into four groups, 0/1/2 and 3 with the numbers denoting suitability for weight. A 0 seat is up to about 221bs (10kg), 1 goes to around 40lbs (18kg) and a 2/3 seat has a maximum of 5½ (36kg).

Britax has a plethora of seats suitable from newborn up to that maximum allowed. This is the Kidfix XP SICT in group 2/3 (15kg – 36kg). The XP denotes it has eXtra Protection, whilst SICT is Side Impact Cushion Technology, of which more later.

Available in four fabric trims, black thunder, chili pepper, cool berry and smart zebra, this particular seat uses the ISOFIT system, which uses the same 'alligator type' metal clips as an ISOFIX seat to secure the seat in your car. (Bear in mind, that unless your car is equipped with ISOFIX, the seat can move around.)

Installation:
Easy to do. The clips snap onto the anchors behind the back seat, which will stop it moving. A couple of plastic guides make it easier to get the clips in line with the anchor points. You'll know the seat is secure when you can see a green safety button on the locking arm. The occupant is then secured with the seat belt. (There is no five point belt within the chair.) If your car doesn't have ISOFIX, you can use the seat belt to secure the seat on a non permanent basis.

This seat doesn't have a ratcheted back in that it can be set into different positions. It doesn't need to be. As the backrest will be against the seat itself, the belted occupier will stop it from moving forward.

NB. The XL SICT version is slightly different. The SL denotes 'Soft latch', which means it is easier to fit in cars that have their anchor points hard to reach. Usually, the seat has to be set in place and pushed back until the clips click onto the anchor points. The SL version allows you to attach each clip separately. At the front of the seat is a strap which you use to pull the webbing attaching the latches tighter into the seat for a more secure position.

Safety:
As far as I'm, aware, there are two things this seat has that other rival systems don't offer. The SICT is used before the passenger is in place. One on each side for either left or right installation, these are giant plastic screws that you turn to within 5mm of the door (or to its maximum, which is 3½cm) that acts as an airbag of sorts. In the event of a side collision, the idea is that this 'cushion' takes a lot of the impact and directs it around the seat and not through it. This has been vigorously tested, so I'm accepting Britax's explanation.

The XP is used in conjunction with the diagonal belt. It's a rubber pad that sits over the chest area and the belt threads through it. Usually, in a frontal collision your head falls forward and your chin ends up against your sternum causing possible injury to your neck. With the XP in place, this is negated as it absorbs a lot of the force. Again, I hope none of my small passengers are ever in a position to test it. It can be used on any three point seat belt.

The headrest can be moved up about seven inches by pulling the handle in the back upwards. It locks in place as soon as you release this handle.

NB. The SICT on the SL version has a removable 'cushion' and not the two screw type ones. Only one 'cushion' is provided and is used depending on which side you install the seat.

Aesthetics:
Strangely, although others will never see your car seat, it's always better to have a nice looking seat and one the occupants will like. Not only does the zebra pattern I have look good, it feels nice to the touch. Mind you, it can also cause disagreements as to whom is going to 'ride the zebra'. The covers are removable (which I've done) for cleaning (which I haven't), so you can always replace whichever one you have if need be. There's supposedly a small storage compartment in the backrest, which, in all honestly, might as well not be there, as all it can be used for is to store the separate instructions in 27 languages.

Verdict:
All car seats go through the same rigorous testing procedure but it goes without saying that you buy the best one your budget will allow. Don't get something 'a bit cheaper' just to save yourself some cash. With its two year warranty, this seat is one to add to your list of potentials.

Apologies for the orientation of the photos. Blame Amazon.
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