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Richard Hammond (Oxford, UK)
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Penhaligon's Vaara Eau de Parfum 100 ml
Penhaligon's Vaara Eau de Parfum 100 ml
Price: £120.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Has the potential to become a new classic, 14 Feb. 2015
A very easy to live with year-round fragrance that layers warm fresh mangoes over dry black tea. The very expensive oris isn't wasted as it helps lift out memories of Raj and contributes to a clean, natural finish. Very attractive scent that reminds you of it's pedigree without shouting. Like it a lot.


L'Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu Eau de Toilette 100 ml
L'Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu Eau de Toilette 100 ml
Price: £83.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and impressive., 14 Feb. 2015
There's a big hit of black pepper, it's sharp but soon dries down to something really quite special. It's been described as having a mid-note that is redolent of the handback section at Selfridges: soft feminine leather, wet woods, sweet citrus cutting through with a comforting and sumptuous dry-down. Forgive the pretentious simile but it reminded me of my Dad's 1979 metallic gold Ford Granada Ghia; at the time a thing of incredible prestige but accessible too. That cuts to the extremely clever way this scent works for both women and men; it isn't blandly unisex, it's complexity allows the wearer to project whatever is relevant for them.


Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac Eau de Parfum 50 ml
Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac Eau de Parfum 50 ml
Price: £65.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A potential new classic, 13 Feb. 2015
Fabulous depth, kicking off with a crisp wood resin note that works down to a comfortably masculine base of fresh cut pine timber. But there's a marine layer too that gives this potentially classic fragrance a clean, natural and coastal feel, as if it were the essence of a sawmill on the coast. There's tobacco and tonka bean in there too, the description mentions patchouli and it's in there but its well under control. I like this a lot.


Vanish Gold for Whites Oxi Action Stain Remover Powder 1.41 kg
Vanish Gold for Whites Oxi Action Stain Remover Powder 1.41 kg
Offered by Golden Wheel
Price: £13.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly expensive relative to it's contents but very effective., 6 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Staggeringly expensive but it really works. One scoop in the drawer and white are definitely boosted or better, my white Oxford shirt, for example, went in with a sort of grey tint and came out fresh bright white. Spot stains can be tackled with a direct application, stubborn stuff, such as our toddler's bedsheet (I KNOW!) needs a soaking but that comes up close to new too. It's really impressive but far too expensive to hit five stars.


Finish All in One Max Original Dishwasher Tablets (Pack of 74)
Finish All in One Max Original Dishwasher Tablets (Pack of 74)
Price: £20.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pricey but extremely effective, 5 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm reluctant to give such an expensive staple household item five stars but these are so much better than alternatives that I have no choice. We've done the ALDI options, the cheaper Finish options and various brands and prices. None of which are entirely satisfying, finally the Finish All in One Max tablets have given us the consistent high quality clean and, erm, finish we want from the dishwasher. Far fewer pans have to go through again or be finished in the sink, glasses are consistently sparkling and everything comes out drier.

We used to have a problem with tablets not fully dissolving or getting stuck in the dispenser. Possibly because these have a built-in polythene wrap, they always leave the dispenser and they always dissolved completely.

Very satisfied. Wish they were cheaper but they're still a five star.


RubyBlue Liqueur Chilli Pepper Cranberry and Blackcurrant Gift Pack 3x350 ml
RubyBlue Liqueur Chilli Pepper Cranberry and Blackcurrant Gift Pack 3x350 ml
Price: £39.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb chilli, very good cranberry and an ordinary blackcurrant, 25 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The reviewer Uncle Barbar above offers a superbly comprehensive list of things you can make and do with this attractive set of RubyBlue Liqueur flavours, so I won't try to match that. Instead I'll focus on presentation and taste. The box they come in is pretty ordinary but is okay when wrapped for a gift, the 350ml bottles (each is 350ml, not 116ml as suggested in the description) are tall and attractive, they give the impression of possibly holding high-end cooking oils. I mean that as a compliment.

The taste is very good. Flavours are natural and authentic - they are clean and fresh tasting. The chilli offers an excellent kick, it's a good burn with a sweet finish that mellows that burn without neutralising it; the cranberry is both sweet and agreeably tart; only the blackcurrant is somewhat ordinary. The blackcurrant isn't bad, it's just not up to the standard of the other two.

We've hammered through the excellent chilli as a digestif, and made some of the suggested cocktails with the cranberry and enjoyed all of them. Forty quid feels a bit steep but it's not entirely beyond the pail.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 29, 2015 10:27 PM GMT


Wacom STU-530 High Resolution Signature Pad with Sign Pro PDF Software
Wacom STU-530 High Resolution Signature Pad with Sign Pro PDF Software
Price: £270.94

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fit for purpose, 13 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For the very specific job of adding real signatures to legal documents, the Wacom STU-530 is absolutely fit for purpose. In order to set it up, you'll need to have a bit of prior knowledge but with some logical deduction you'll have it up and running quickly. The build quality is excellent and will absolutely live up to many years of service.


Fitbit Charge Wireless Activity with Sleep Wristband - Black, Large
Fitbit Charge Wireless Activity with Sleep Wristband - Black, Large
Price: £79.99

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Didn't expect to get much from a fitness band but am hooked., 5 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I didn't want a fitness band but Amazon offered a review device and my mates all have this particular make and model so I reluctantly gave it a try.

And it's bloody brilliant: the first few days the stats kind of mean nothing but as you begin to relate numbers to the day's activities, things begin to make sense. You get a very strong sense of when you've been sufficiently active and when you haven't. The simple counting and easy access to progress data are genuinely habit forming: I'm disappointed if I've missed a target, so I'll often find myself going for a quick walk around the block to top up the day's numbers. I'll take the stairs because I want to get the stairs progress bar to go green (shows you've hit or exceeded your daily target).

I like the sleep monitoring very much, over longer periods it makes it clear where any sleep issues are. I've adapted my habits as a result and I do feel better generally as a result; certainly less tired.

Battery life is really poor and nowhere near as advertised. The black band itself is pretty dull and it's not waterproof. Those are my only real gripes.

The display is great, the companion smartphone app is clear and useful.

And the biggest surprise of all: the optional caller ID display is flipping fantastic: I use it to screen calls all the time. Brilliant.


QuickBooks Online Essentials, 12-Month Subscription (Mac/PC)
QuickBooks Online Essentials, 12-Month Subscription (Mac/PC)
Price: £43.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for small, straightforward businesses, 25 Dec. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This review is broadly the same as my review for the Quickbooks Premier Edition. Why review two editions and why a star lower for this version? The two issues are closely linked: basically I thought I needed this version to link to my online banking. This does indeed do that but I'm still confused as whether or not I could have done it without?

Might be worth giving the context of this review first: I run a small consulting business turning over an average of £110,000. Most of that comes in as a few large invoices. Expenses are a handful each month with some recurring. I occasionally have to bill and account for expenses in the US and Europe. The business is VAT registered and we occasionally subcontract or buy in services.

Previous accounting was based on a few simple Excel spreadsheets laid out in a format recommended many years ago by my local tax office. We do all our banking online.

We've been trading for more than ten years now and this Excel-based approach means we don't really have any useful searchable data on cost trends or on sales breakdown. For this reason, and to improve our year-end efficiency, I decided to migrate to Quickbooks.

And the result? Very glad to have done so. There's a bit of upfront learning curve to tackle but the UI is excellent and frustration levels really very low. It's clear, precise (no more missed boxes inside a creaking Excel workbook). Reports are excellent and our accountants are very happy with the way we can now supply information to them.

As our business grows, I'm sure that this package is going to make it easier for us to track activity and make better decisions.

My only gripe is minor: that the huge number of different QuickBooks packages make choosing the right one a right old faff. I was lucky enough to get this version without charge but would have been annoyed if we'd shelled out and discovered a lesser package would have been just as good. And to be honest, I'm still not clear which package we actually need.

But that aside - QuickBooks Premier 2015 gets a highly recommended from me. It's easy, clear and very useful.


QuickBooks Premier 2015 (PC)
QuickBooks Premier 2015 (PC)
Price: £153.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy, clear - perfect for our small scale consultancy, 20 Dec. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Might be worth giving the context of this review first: I run a small consulting business turning over an average of £110,000. Most of that comes in as a few large invoices. Expenses are a handful each month with some recurring. I occasionally have to bill and account for expenses in the US and Europe. The business is VAT registered and we occasionally subcontract or buy in services.

Previous accounting was based on a few simple Excel spreadsheets laid out in a format recommended many years ago by my local tax office. We do all our banking online.

We've been trading for more than ten years now and this Excel-based approach means we don't really have any useful searchable data on cost trends or on sales breakdown. For this reason, and to improve our year-end efficiency, I decided to migrate to Quickbooks.

And the result? Very glad to have done so. There's a bit of upfront learning curve to tackle but the UI is excellent and frustration levels really very low. It's clear, precise (no more missed boxes inside a creaking Excel workbook). Reports are excellent and our accountants are very happy with the way we can now supply information to them.

As our business grows, I'm sure that this package is going to make it easier for us to track activity and make better decisions.

My only gripe is minor: that the huge number of different QuickBooks packages make choosing the right one a right old faff. I was lucky enough to get this version without charge but would have been annoyed if we'd shelled out and discovered a lesser package would have been just as good. And to be honest, I'm still not clear which package we actually need.

But that aside - QuickBooks Premier 2015 gets a highly recommended from me. It's easy, clear and very useful.


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