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Glasgow Dreamer (Glasgow Scotland)

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AmazonBasics Blend and Go Smoothie Blender 600ml - Green
AmazonBasics Blend and Go Smoothie Blender 600ml - Green

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent little gadget. Performs really well., 11 Feb. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a really great little gadget. Despite some reservations about the colour, it doesn't look cheap and nasty, and it takes up very little space on the worktop.

It's very simple to use; your ingredients are placed in the mixing beaker, and a fitting containing the mixing blades is then screwed on, like a lid. The whole thing then attaches to the body of the blender, and can be held while mixing takes place, or can be locked in place. There are two of these beakers included with the blender, along with lids, so the mixing beaker can also be used as a drinking bottle, at the gym, or on a picnic, etc.

I have tried a variety of concoctions, from simple milk shakes to more involved mixtures of fruit, biscuits, ice cream and yoghurt, and all have been highly successful.

Cleaning the unit is simple; put some washing-up liquid and water into the beaker, attach it and turn on the power for a few seconds. Rinse the beaker and the blades attachment, and you're done in less that a minute.

After a couple of less than impressive items from the AmazonBasics range, I'm pleased to see they have returned to form with this one. I'd like to have seen the proposed price before submitting the review, but I would guess that it would be around the £25-£30 range. If so, then it's pretty god value.

AmazonBasics Coffee Machine with 1 Litre Insulated Jug
AmazonBasics Coffee Machine with 1 Litre Insulated Jug
Price: £25.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Too basic; doesn't provide hot enough coffee, and has no hotplate., 27 Jan. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The AmazonBasics range is, as its name suggests, a no-frills range of goods at economical prices (although there is no price available on this item as yet, I wouldn't expect it to be any different). Usually, the items in the range are of a comparable quality to perfectly serviceable items nearer the lower end of the market, and as such, I have been very happy with almost everything I have tried from the range.

However, I am disappointed with this item. Its black and silver finish is a little cheap looking, giving a pretty poor first impression. The literature states that there is a permanent plastic filter built in to the machine, but I found it was not effective enough to deal with all the grounds, so I have used a paper filter as well. This gives perfectly good results, and makes a litre of coffee in a few minutes. At this point, the machine's principal weakness comes into play. Probably because there is no hotplate on this model, the coffee, even when newly made, did not seem to be very hot (I had no difficulty drinking it immediately). The jug is insulated, and should keep the coffee hot for a decent length of time. Unfortunately, as it wasn't hot enough to begin with, that's not really enough, and it will certainly only cool down further without any external heat source.

The only time I could envisage using this would be if I was going to serve up all the coffee at once; the insulated jug isn't effective enough to keep the coffee warm enough for a second cup, even ten minutes later. I'm afraid this is a thumbs down; it's simply TOO basic,

Classic Album Collection
Classic Album Collection
Price: £29.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost complete album collection at a great price., 26 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The music here is, as you would expect, wonderful. You'll be jumping around the room in no time, as memories of the music and the equally great tv series come flooding back. This is a 10CD collection, comprising nine full albums, and a bonus CD of bits and pieces which don't appear on any of the included albums. It's a no-frills shiny card box, CD-size and about an inch thick, and each of the CDs come in card mini-sleeves, the same as the original albums.

Listening to the albums, as much fun as they are, it is disappointing that some of them are less than thirty minutes long. I know that's (obviously) how long the original albums were, but surely some bonus material could have been found to make this collection even better value. Also, and rather oddly; this set is on the Rhino record label and effectively includes all of the Monkees' original albums, except "Pool It!". which was originally released on the Rhino label, so there should have been no licensing issues. That's a mild annoyance; it would have been good to have the whole set together. (Some may say that "Pool It!" came out so much later that it shouldn't be included, but the bonus disc includes "That Was Then, This Is Now", which came out only the year before it.)

Overall, I'm perfectly happy with the set, but it irks me that they didn't include that other album.

Teach Yourself Visually Office 2016 (Teach Yourself VISUALLY (Tech))
Teach Yourself Visually Office 2016 (Teach Yourself VISUALLY (Tech))
by Elaine Marmel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal step-by-step guide, 13 Jan. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This paperback full colour instruction manual covers Microsoft’s latest incarnation of Office with separate sections on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher and OneNote.

Each section is made up of one or two page exercises covering a single task. A task could be to Navigate OneNote, Type and Draw Notes, Insert and Format a Table or Attach Files to Notes. Each exercise starts with an explanatory paragraph detailing the feature and the task to be done. This is followed by the step-by-step instruction which is aided with labelled up screenshots for guidance.

Each step is indicated with a numbered action the learner has to follow and where required these are supplemented with bullet points adding in options, results of the action taken, or explanation to clarify a point. Some tasks conclude with a "Tips" text box offering further guidance. Bold and italics are used uniformly throughout which helps identify labels, tabs, tools, icons and buttons. Even keystrokes have their own colour scheme. No explanation of these features are required as the learner is immediately drawn into the intuitive design. It is so well laid out that it would be hard to make it any clearer.

The first chapter titled ‘Office Features’ deals with general Windows/Office matters like copy & paste, filing, printing, handling graphics and using OneDrive. Including this chapter has saved the author from unwanted repetition in each of the sections covering each application.

At 430 pages and with all the Office applications to be covered, the impression would be that there wouldn’t be the opportunity to go into any real depth of each application. This is certainly true with the section on Access which is maybe rather lightweight if you were interested in using this application to any extent. Having said that, some sections are surprisingly detailed. The section on Word for instance; after a brief introduction covering changing views and entering text, the author introduces the learner to Inserting Quick Parts, Create a Blog Post, Assign a Theme, and many quite advanced features.

Anyone familiar with Office will recognise the colours used by Microsoft for each product; blue for Word, green for Excel, yellow for Outlook, etc. The chapters in the book use separate colours which helps distinguish each section, but they have used different colours than Microsoft. A missed opportunity there perhaps.

This book is for visual learners and if that is your learning style of choice then this would be an ideal aid to mastering the Office applications. There are plenty of cheaper books on Office available and for half the price you could get a black and white volume, but it wouldn't come close to being as good as this.

Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter
Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter
by Alyn Shipton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A great companion to the music itself., 6 Jan. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a detailed, well sourced biography of a singer who never quite received the recognition he was due while stil alive. Famously acknowledged as being the Beatles' "favourite group", his dislike of performing, and his general lifestyle conspired to ensure he would never quite graduate from respected singer and songwriter to bona fide superstardom. (Ironically, despite his reputation as a song-writer, his two most successful recordings were both written by others.) Perhaps this suited him.

One or two reviewers have commented that there is a lot of overlap between this biography, and the 2010 documentary "Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?" which has been shown on UK television several times recently. I would counter that by asking what these reviewers expect. If you compare biographies of any individual, there is bound to be a great deal of overlap; much of what is covered is undispute fact, which should remain the same, regardless of how, or by whom it is presented. The real question is whether one would really need the book if they had already seen the documentary, and I think both contain enough in the way of unique material to make the book worth reading.

Personally, I found the book to be an ideal companion to The RCA Albums Collection , a seventeen disc box set of all his work, sometimes available on Amazon for as little as £30.00. Recommended.

V-MODA ZN In-Ear Modern Audiophile Headphones with 3 Button Remote and Microphone
V-MODA ZN In-Ear Modern Audiophile Headphones with 3 Button Remote and Microphone
Price: £149.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sound, and seem to be very durable., 28 Dec. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am absolutely delighted with these in-ear headphones. Beginning with the packaging, this is obviously a quality product. They are delivered in a hexagonal box, around six inches high. Everything is packed tightly inside in black foam, including four pairs of in-ear adaptors, hooks to hang the cables over the ears for extra security during exercise, and a small leather pouch to hold these extras. In some ways, the pouch is unnecessary - it's just something else to carry, but I suppose it is a sensible place to store the extras normally loosely thrown into the drawer, never to be seen again.

The plug which attaches the earphones to your device is, of course, 24kt gold, and cleverly angled at 45 degrees to minimise stress on the cable at this vulnerable point. The cable itself is a decent length, and has a re-inforcing kevlar weave, which, according to the company makes the cable twenty times stronger than the industry standard.

I have found the sound to be excellent. I listen to a lot of 1970s-80s music which features both conventional instruments and syntheisers, e.g .Pink Floyd, ELO, Kraftwerk, Gary Numan, OMD, and the bass, in particular comes through loud and clear. There is no "blurring around the edges" of the music, as there often can be, particularly with in-ear phones. However, with this pair, the separation is quite clear, and I could hear some background features I had previously only heard on a pair of high-end Denon phones.

There is a three-button remote, with a microphone, on the cable, which allows you to take control over certain functions of Apple devices. It is partially compatible with some other devices; for example, on my Samsung Galaxy 5 android smartphone, the volume buttons have no effect, although I can still pause and re-start music to take a call.

Overall, I'm very happy with these; easily the best sound I have heard on a pair of in-ear phones. I'm not too concerned about the limited remote functionality for my phone, as the pause/start function is the one I would most commonly use, My device will never be so far away that I can not access it to adjust the volume manually.

Rockport Global Road Bike Toe, Men's Derby, Black (Black), 7 UK (40 1/2 EU)
Rockport Global Road Bike Toe, Men's Derby, Black (Black), 7 UK (40 1/2 EU)
Price: £90.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Bit unsure about long toe section, but comfortable enough., 1 Dec. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These are more comfortable than they look. The long toe section makes them look narrower than they actually are. I wear a size seven, and have very broad feet, but these shoes fit well without pinching, and they were perfectly comfortable, even from the first wear. I often suffer from new shoes or boots rubbing at my heel, but these didn't give that problem.

My one quibble with the design concerns the rather long toe section, mentioned above. These shoes are almost an inch longer than other size 7s which I own. That extra inch is all empty space at the toe end, and I can't help thinking that, over time, the leather may well crease in that area, although there is no sign of it yet (I have only worn the shoes three or four times).

Overall, I'm quite happy with them. They are smart enough for normal work wear with a suit, and probably just a little too smart for casual wear. The insole is nicely padded and adds to the comfort. I'm still a little unsure about this long toe section, though.

Alone In The Universe
Alone In The Universe
Price: £11.19

9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Another Jeff Lynne solo album, and a pretty bland one too..., 16 Nov. 2015
This review is from: Alone In The Universe (Audio CD)
I so much wanted to like this, having been a fan of the "proper" ELO since the early 70s, buying evry album on its release date, and enjoying almost all of them, possibly even all of them, except the last one, "Zoom", which was, in all but name, a Jeff Lynne solo album.

But this is bland. Every track trundles along at the same pedestrian pace; if you're not paying attention you won't notice when one track ends and another begins. Despite Jeff claiming that he went away from the Hyde Park gig last year with the idea of writing a new album, these songs sound like they've been lying around for years. A couple of them are very obviously songs Roy Orbison should have sung - "I'm Leaving You" is more or less a re-write or Orbison's "Running Scared", which Jeff covered himself on his "Long Wave" mini-album in 2012. One song is called "Ain't It A Drag", showing how up-to-the-minute Jeff is with common everyday slang!

Most of the tracks are pleasant enough, but for this to be a good ELO album, they should be surrounded by big bold rockers, and lush strings. He really needs the guys from the old band to beef up the sound, and that's a non-starter; Jeff burnt his bridges with these guys long ago, and seems too pig-headed to swallow his pride. To add insult to injury, if you purchase the "Deluxe Edition" of the album, which contains two extra tracks (both of which are among the best on the album), you still get only 37 minutes of music. That's really not enough (although it is about 10 minutes longer than "Long Wave")

So, to sum up; this is another solo Jeff Lynne album, and not a particularly good one at that. If you haven't been caught up in the hype and bought it already, don't bother - it's just a vanity project.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 19, 2015 1:41 AM GMT

Ben Sherman Ista, Men's Chelsea Boots, Brown, 7 UK (41 EU)
Ben Sherman Ista, Men's Chelsea Boots, Brown, 7 UK (41 EU)
Price: £53.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard leather at the back causing severe discomfort., 16 Nov. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These boots have a simple and uncomplicated design. The elastic on the sides is loose enough that they can be easily slipped on without the need to bend down. They fit well around the foot, with both the length and the width being just about right for me. This suggests that they may be made quite wide, as I often need to go up to a higher size, as I have particularly wide feet.

However, the fit around the ankle is very loose (and I do not have thin legs), which results in painful rubbing on the area around the top of the boot, at the back. The leather is beginning to soften now, but is still uncomfortable enough to cause a little bleeding, even after three weeks wear, although it is far more bearable than it was initially. I now tape cotton wool pads to the back of my ankles,and this seems to do the trick, but that is impractical, and really should not be required.

I quite like the boots, and I do believe they will soften in time, but I couldn't recommend them to anyone because of the reason stated above.

Vax S85-CM Steam Clean Multi Steam Mop - White/Blue
Vax S85-CM Steam Clean Multi Steam Mop - White/Blue
Price: £34.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Effective, labour-saving, and easy to use., 28 Oct. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Two and a half years ago, when these type of steam cleaners first became popular, I reviewed one quite favourably, but lamented that it was rather basic, and more functionality was really required.

So I was pleased to be offered the chance to review this one, new to the market, and, I hoped, an advance on my older, slightly primitive model. And I have to say I am impressed. This unit is light and moves across linoleum and tiled floors with ease. The reservoir is large enough, it claims, for fifteen minutes of use, and this was easily long enough to cover a decent-sized kitchen floor. There is still a limit to how good a clean you can achieve, using only steam, and I did find one or two areas which required a little closer attention after the first clean, but it certainly made a back-breaking task much less painful.

The one area where this unit really shines is that it has the option to detach the steam generator and use it as a hand-held steam "blaster" for more stubborn stains, and to get into more inaccessible places. It took quite a lot of trial and error to get the knack of using it as a hand-held unit, but the results were very impressive. The difference in results between a direct jet of steam (via hand-held) and the steam filtering through the cleaning cloth (via upright) is huge, although using the direct jet will make the target area considerably wetter, necessitating a quick mop-up job after use.

I found the various attachments fitted together without any problems, but I am a reasonably fit man, so can see that it may be tricky for someone less able. Overall, I would recommend this item - I can see it getting a fair bit of use in this house!

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