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J. S. Hardman "Consultant software developer (contractor)" (Near London, UK)
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Timex Expedition Men's Quartz Watch with Beige Dial Analogue Display and Black Fabric and Canvas Strap T49833
Timex Expedition Men's Quartz Watch with Beige Dial Analogue Display and Black Fabric and Canvas Strap T49833

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Presuming mine was faulty, but unimpressed with what I did see, 1 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For use whilst doing heavy, muddy, forestry work, I had been using a watch that I bought for less than ten dollars whilst in the USA a while ago. Unfortunately, although the watch is still working, the strap is falling apart and my local shops want to charge a ridiculous amount of money to change the strap. I therefore thought, whilst it was on a cheap offer, that I would try this Timex Expedition watch instead, as it was (momentarily) cheaper than a new strap.

When the watch arrived, I wasn't overly impressed by its appearance and decided I was very glad that I hadn't paid the RRP. As I unpacked it, I was standing in poor light - not dark, but not well-lit either. The watch face was near impossible to read in that light. As the plan was to use this watch in forests, which are often fairly gloomy, this didn't bode well.

I unpacked the watch and read the instructions (printed on crumpled paper that looked better suited to use for lighting a fire). I then set about setting the time (easy) and date (impossible) before starting the watch. When I say that setting the date was impossible, I mean it - I even managed to cut myself on the watch trying to move the bit out that you have to move to set the date. Really not impressed by the build quality.

I'm assuming that I have been unlucky and that the watch I received was faulty as this watch does get some good reviews (although the equivalent with a black face gets very mixed reviews). Needless to say, I've printed out the return label and it will be dispatched back to Amazon tomorrow. I won't be getting a direct replacement though - even at the very discounted price I paid, I am unimpressed. Maybe I'll just get pay for a new strap on my cheap American watch, even if the strap does cost significantly more than the watch...

I've had some good Timex watches in the past, but this is not one of them.

Not recommended.


AS Level Chemistry: The Complete Course for AQA
AS Level Chemistry: The Complete Course for AQA
by CGP Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compact, but very effective, study guide for AQA AS Level Chemistry, 26 Nov 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I studied sciences and maths to A and S level many years ago. The maths I still use regularly, but the sciences less so. When I do use the scientific knowledge that I learnt all those years ago, it tends to be fairly superficial, so I find myself getting a bit rusty on some of the detail (to be honest, I could possibly have paid a bit more attention in organic chemistry back then as well...). To refresh my knowledge of things I don't want to completely forget, I occasionally work through modern revision guides. For the mathematical subjects, that's a breeze - it's not just that I do use my maths, I really do believe that maths A levels are easier now than they were nearly 30 years ago. However, I'm not sure that is true of chemistry. I had thought that I would breeze through this AS-Level Chemistry book, but it actually contains quite a lot of stuff that I did not study. It looks like the syllabus has changed over those years, so instead of whizzing through this book, I did end up working through it in detail. Clearly, some of it I knew already, but there was also stuff that I did not know.

What I liked about this book, is the quantum leap forward in presentation from most of the books that I worked with at school. Back then, most of us would use things like the "Key Facts Passbook" study/revision guides (which I still have) for cramming before exams, rather than use the books supplied by the school. This AS-Level Chemistry book reminds me of those Key Facts books, but with more modern presentation - lots of diagrams and photographs, lots of use of colour, examples, practice questions (and answers), tips for general learning and for the exam, etc. The language used is easily accessible too - none of the dry text we used to endure. I'm not planning on doing any more A or S level exams (I'm not sure if S level exams still exist - Wikipedia seems to suggest otherwise - [...] ), but for those who are going to be doing AS-Level Chemistry with AQA I imagine this book would be a great study aid. Whether it tells you everything you need to know, I cannot say.

The only negative I have about this book, is that to squeeze everything into approximately 250 pages, there is not much white space, with the text being closely printed (on some, not all, pages). Whether that would have annoyed me at age 17 or 18, I do not know, but these days I appreciate some white space.

Recommended.


Lite Sports Rocky Hooded Top - X Large
Lite Sports Rocky Hooded Top - X Large

5.0 out of 5 stars Very comfortable, but you may want one size larger than you normally buy, 26 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I already own other items from the Lite Sports "Rocky" range and get a lot of use out of them. Because they are so good, I thought I'd also try both the full zip and the non-zip equivalent hooded top.

Since I bought the earlier items, it unfortunately feels like the quality has gone down very slightly - with the zipped top, I put it on and found my hand caught up in a loop of thread in the sleeve, which immediately pulled. With the non-zip top, I heard a thread snap as I put it on. Normally, I would not be thrilled by that. However, given the ridiculously cheap price that these currently sell for (70% off RRP), I'm not going to worry too much. In fact, I think these are so practical and such good value that I've ordered more.

In use, this hooded top is great. It's not as snug as the zipped version, despite being a squeeze to get through the neck, but it is comfortable and warm. Whilst I use the zipped one when heading home from swimming or after using the gym, I find I potter about the house in the non-zipped one, it's that comfortable. The only negative (other than the very slight quality concern) is that the non-zipped one rides up a bit - it could do with being slightly longer. Because of both the neck size and the length, I would recommend going up one size from your normal sizing when purchasing the non-hooded version.

So, although the quality on my last two purchases isn't quite what I would have expected based on previous purchases, these are still great items and at the current price I have just ordered a spare of both the zipped and non-zipped versions (with the non-zipped one in the next size...).

Recommended.


Ultrasport Men's Running Shoe - Black/Silver/Blue, Size 8
Ultrasport Men's Running Shoe - Black/Silver/Blue, Size 8
Price: £32.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit narrow for me. Otherwise, ok but not great, 26 Nov 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These shoes are unfortunately a bit narrow for me. If you have wide feet, you could try going up a size, but then you risk them being too long. As a result, they're not going to be my most comfortable running shoes, and therefore won't be used for that purpose. They're going to become shoes for slipping on quickly when I need to pop out to the garage or to the compost bin - short distances, where the narrowness won't annoy my feet too much.

So, apart from the size issue, how are they? Well, they don't ooze comfort and quality. They do not compete with my ASICS. I'm not actually that keen on the appearance either - the blue is not appealling, and the general appearance is, well, not great. As I won't be running in them, I cannot comment on how well they last when used for that purpose - sorry.

In terms of price, Amazon current shows a range from £29.25 (twenty nine pounds twenty five pence) to £79 (seventy nine pounds). At the bottom end of that scale, they're ok as long as they fit you. If I had paid the top end of that scale I would not be happy.


Lite Sports Rocky Full Zip Hooded Top
Lite Sports Rocky Full Zip Hooded Top

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very practical and very comfortable, 14 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I already own other items from the Lite Sports "Rocky" range and get a lot of use out of them. Because they are so good, I thought I'd try both this full zip and the non-zip equivalent hooded top.

Since I bought the earlier items, it unfortunately feels like the quality has gone down slightly - with the zipped top, I put it on and found my hand caught up in a loop of thread in the sleeve, which immediately pulled. With the non-zip top, I heard a thread snap as I put it on. Normally, I would not be thrilled by that. However, given the ridiculously cheap price that these currently sell for (70% off RRP), I'm not going to worry too much.

In use, this zipped top is great. It is very snug and very warm. It's fairly flattering too. I use it at various times, most commonly on the way to/from swimming, and when relaxing after using the gym. It keeps the muscles warm and keeps draughts off (heading home from swimming on a dark autumn/winter evening is much nicer when you're warm and draught free).

When I say this is very snug, it really is. If you think you are at the upper end of a size range, you are likely to want the next size up (for the non-zipped version, you will almost certainly want the next size up).

So, although the quality on my last two purchases isn't quite what I would have expected based on previous purchases, these are still great items and at the current price I have just ordered a spare of both the zipped and non-zipped versions (with the non-zipped one in the next size...).

Recommended.


Cold Feet: The Complete First Series Plus Award-Winning Pilot [DVD]
Cold Feet: The Complete First Series Plus Award-Winning Pilot [DVD]
Dvd ~ James Nesbitt
Price: £5.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best bits of TV from that decade., 11 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The back of the case for "Cold Feet the complete series one", says "Immersing us in the lives of three 30 something couples". When I first saw Cold Feet on TV, I had just hit my 30's. Watching it now, it's safe to say I'm no longer in my 30's. Both then, and now, this is a brilliant series. It's interesting though how my perception of it has changed. When I first watched it, it was just brilliant comedy. When I watch it now, it's perceptive and clever comedy drama. I thought it might have felt dated, but it didn't - I just responded to the writing differently. Definitely one of the best bits of TV from that decade.

The script is very clever. The characters and settings are perfect. The casting is absolutely spot-on. Whether it's the 6 main characters, or the supporting cast of work colleagues, neighbours, ex-partners, station staff, passers by etc, I cannot fault the casting or the acting.

Highly recommended.


AquaSphere Swimming Mask Clear Lens - Seal
AquaSphere Swimming Mask Clear Lens - Seal
Offered by Mikes Diving Ltd
Price: £18.04

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So much more comfortable than traditional swimming goggles, 6 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This Aqua Sphere Seal Mask was recommended to me by a top swimming organisation. Having used traditional swimming goggles previously, and scuba masks when diving/snorkelling, I knew which I preferred. So when I saw the Aqua Sphere Seal Mask, which is like a really sleek diving mask (but without the nose being inside the mask), I had to give it a try. I'm very glad that I did.

I chose the Transparent/Crystal Clear Lens version. When it arrived, I went to do the usual seal test that divers do with masks, but this mask sealed even better. I didn't need to breathe in to hold it in place (which wouldn't have worked anyway, as the nose is outside the mask) - I just pressed it to my face and it stayed there, without using the strap or any pressure to hold it. Incredible.

When I first used it - a quick rub of spit inside and a quick rinse to prevent it steaming up, pulled the strap over my head, and off I went. Incredibly comfortable, and with the transparent/crystal clear lens, I soon forgot that I was wearing it. It is so much more comfortable that traditional goggles, that it is hard to describe the comparison. And there is no pressure on the eye socket, which is great.

Whilst swimming breaststroke, butterfly or crawl, I swim in a head-down position, so my face is in the water unless I am breathing in (so much better for the neck and back than the heads up "keeping hair dry" position that many people adopt). During breaststroke I tend to do a dolphin motion, alternately going beneath the surface and then coming up to breathe. As a result, my face is under water far more than most people whilst swimming. Does any water get into this mask? Yes, a very tiny amount does, but so little that it is only when I roll over to do backstroke that I notice it. I suspect that those swimmers who adopt a heads-up posture when swimming will notice water getting in even less.

Good value. Very comfortable and practical. Highly recommended.


Computex Chair Mat for Carpet Protection Anti-static 1200x1500mm Ref 3115225EV
Computex Chair Mat for Carpet Protection Anti-static 1200x1500mm Ref 3115225EV
Offered by Shoplet-UK
Price: £46.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical, sturdy and good value, 6 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After replacing the chair that I use when working at home, the new one dug into the carpet, making it hard to move around, and leaving marks in the carpet. After confirming that the chair had the right castors for use on carpet, the solution had to be a mat to use over the carpet. After some searching, I decided on this Computex Chair Mat.

The Computex Chair Mat arrived as a flat package, not rolled up. Made me laugh, as it looked like a giant envelope that had somehow squeezed through a tiny letterbox, rather than being a box containing a rolled up mat as I had expected.

Once unpacked and placed in position, using my new chair became a delight - gliding across the mat without digging in to the carpet. The mat itself has what I can only describe as pimples on its underside, which prevent it from moving across the surface of the carpet - good solution. The mat is clear, so that carpet still shows through it. It's also nice and sturdy - it gets a lot of use and so far has shown no wear at all.

I often wander around in bare feet - I did think this mat might be cold underfoot, but somehow it feels fine.

Does the job. Good value. Recommended.


BargainUniverse® Indoor Outdoor Digital Thermometer 2 Sensors -Top QualitY --Bargain Universe--
BargainUniverse® Indoor Outdoor Digital Thermometer 2 Sensors -Top QualitY --Bargain Universe--

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Basic indoor/outdoor thermometer - very good value, 6 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
We had an indoor/outdoor thermometer on our kitchen window sill for years. When it went wrong a couple of months ago, I looked around for a similar model to replace it. I came across this BargainUniverse thermometer, which turns out to be exactly what we were after.

This thermometer is really basic - indoor temperature, outdoor temperature, and relative humidity (unclear whether it is indoor or outdoor, but given how little it changes I assume it is unfortunately indoor). Temperature can be set to display in centigrade or Fahrenheit. There is no clock included. What is good about this thermometer is that the display is very clear - even better than our old one. On the downside, the cable is thicker than the equivalent on our previous thermometer. We can close our kitchen window with this cable hanging out of it, but there is definitely some resistance because of the thickness of the cable. What I don't know is, how much of that thickness is sheath and how much is electrical wire? If most of the thickness is sheath, then hopefully a bit of squeeze as the window shuts should not be a problem. It certainly hasn't affected ours.

So, a basic indoor/outdoor thermometer at a really good price - altogether good value. Recommended.


Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog
Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog
by Ted Kerasote
Edition: MP3 CD

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diary of life with a dog treated as a friend, 4 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I prefer to be able to say about books whether a book is one that people should really read (or listen to), or one that people should avoid. Unfortunately, I'm kind of dithery about Merle's Door. I certainly wouldn't say to avoid it, but it's also not an unreserved recommendation from me either - it's ok, but not great.

Firstly, if you are not a "dog person", then this is probably not for you. I am a dog person, having had dogs from childhood and through most of my adult life. I've also had rescue dogs (i.e. adopted from shelters), and lived with them in rural or semi-rural locations in the UK. I've also spent time in some of the areas of the USA described in Merle's Door. All in all, there's quite a lot of overlap between my life & my relationship with dogs and that of Ted Kerasote, the author of Merle's Door.

So, given the similarities and overlap, why am I not as enthusiastic about Merle's Door as many other reviewers? I think that it's probably because Merle's Door as a book listened to for entertainment (I listened on MP3-CD whilst driving) doesn't really go anywhere. I suppose you could say that meeting Merle for the first time was the beginning, and Merle's inevitable death and burial was the end, but as a book for entertainment, it really didn't feel like there was a beginning, middle and end. It read like a diary of events and related observations and thoughts.

Yes, because of the location, Merle's life involved some freedoms that most dogs could not have, and because of that location he encountered forms of wildlife that a dog in the UK would not (although mine certainly encounter anything from squirrels and rabbits, to foxes, mink, badgers, deer etc, as well as horses, cows, sheep etc). But other than those differences, there is little difference between Merle's Door and a diary (had I kept one) of the lives of some of my dogs, one in particular. I listened to Merle's Door, thinking "yeap, my dog did that too", "yeap, we did that together" etc. It was all too normal and familiar (other than the location-related bits), so partially failed for me as a book listened to for entertainment. It was fine, but it was nothing exceptional.

For dog owners who don't relate to their dogs as friends/companions and (to a large extent) equals, there may be some enlightenment in this book. However, for those who spend time with animals where you have fun *together* (whether this be dogs or horses, or any other animal), rather than you using the animal to give you fun, this book may just be describing something that is everyday, normal to you. Maybe I've been lucky and unusual in experiencing that. If so, then perhaps this book will make others wistful about what could be. Who knows...

To summarise - Merle's Door, for me, is fine. It's easy listening (although some may find the description of Merle's end difficult, and I did initially find the reading by Patrick Lawlor a bit grating), but it just doesn't seem to go anywhere. It's not bad, but it's also not the must-buy that some suggest.


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