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Crazy Seahorse "Crazy Seahorse" (Cambridge)
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Monster High Boo York City Schemes Nefera De Nile Doll
Monster High Boo York City Schemes Nefera De Nile Doll
Price: £22.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautific, 27 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My daughters actually argued over who was getting this doll, under the vine voice scheme. Nefara is perhaps the most human looking doll in the range, with pink skin and a pretty face, without the overly large eyes used on a few others to make them look cute or more animal like. Her clothes have an Egyptian style to them and, as with all the dolls in the range, they are brightly coloured, well designed and well made. I quite like the streaked black and blue hair on this doll. Her shoes are quite impressive too.

The doll comes on a stand and won't stand up on its own, the joints are articulated and can be put into a variety of poses. For my daughters there don't seem to be any other range of dolls that have captured their imagination. Barbie is passe it seems.


Monster High Boo York Gala Ghoulfriends Luna Mothews Doll 
Monster High Boo York Gala Ghoulfriends Luna Mothews Doll 
Price: £23.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting, 27 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My daughters love Monster High and Monster High dolls. Like most of the dolls in the range, Luna is equipped with a good quality costume, with bright colours. There is a moth like theme to her clothing, which does come across as a moth rather than say an angel. Luna looks almost like an anime figure with very large eyes and a distinctly yellow skin, she comes mounted on a stand and won't stand up on her own. Her joints are articulated so she can be put into a number of poses.

This is a well made good quality doll. My daughters don't seem to be interested in anything else right now. I am not sure it will stand the test of time, but at 10 and 12 their interest in dolls will surely fade over the next couple of years.


Monster High Boo York Gala Ghoulfriends Mouscedes King Doll
Monster High Boo York Gala Ghoulfriends Mouscedes King Doll
Price: £24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Cute for a mouse., 26 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My daughters aged 10 and 12 love Monster High dolls. As a parent I can't quite see the fascination but I do understand that Barbie is out and Monster High is the thing to have. This doll is based on a mouse character, which is cutely styled with a grey/ beige kind of skin. It has rodent like incisors and little mouse ears, the eyes are drawn big to make it look cute. The clothes are very well made, and appear of good quality. The top clips on with velcro and there is a jewelled belt that does not fit on quite so well. All Monster High dolls are about the height of a Barbie, but this one is a little bit shorter as it is based on a mouse.

The doll has articulated limbs and can be put in a range of poses. It does not stand up on its own and comes with a stand mount that it clips into.

Overall my children really like these and the creepy styling that goes with them. They are inspired enough by the whole world of Monster High to build houses and bedrooms out of cardboard so I think the dolls are good value in that they play with them a lot.


GBC HeatSeal Proseries 4000LM A2 Laminator with Hot Roller Technology
GBC HeatSeal Proseries 4000LM A2 Laminator with Hot Roller Technology
Price: £332.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality professional laminator., 26 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a big solid laminator with a professional feel to it. It can laminate A2 sheets, which is four times the size of A4, so a reasonably good size poster. It has controllable heat so that you can vary the settings to produce the best effect, but we found right out of the box that it laminates perfectly anyway without giving any bubbles or air holes. I guess more expensive models have more automation, but this does the job and gives you a lot of control.

The unit feels heavy and appears robust and heavy duty, so you will need to find a good space for it if you are using it at home, and also for when you leave it to cool down. Our old A4 laminator did not last that long, but I am much more hopeful that this will stand the test of time as it feels so much more professional, both in its ruggedness and the simplicity of use. Recommended.


Barbie Her Sisters in The Great Puppy Adventure Spin-n-Ride Pups 
Barbie Her Sisters in The Great Puppy Adventure Spin-n-Ride Pups 
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, 26 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a Barbie doll on a bicycle and I have to say I think it is delightful. Barbie sits on the saddle supported by a stand and clips into the pedals. As you push the bike forwards she pedals it, which is really nice. The whole thing is pretty stable and works well. The bike is a dutch style sit up and beg type beloved of Mums in the UK. Barbie's legs and arms are more articulated than a standard Barbie to facilitate the movement. As such she permanently wears her blue jeans, which have molded seams and patch pockets. The tops can be changed and her helmet is removable too. If there is one criticism I wonder if they should have fitted a basket to the front of the bike or supplied some panniers for the stand for them on the back. I think having something to put shopping and the like would have made the set more fun for my daughters.

Barbie comes with a dog and puppy, which my 9 year old thinks is cute. Although it looks like there might be 4 in the pack there is actually 1. The dog on the skateboard can be fitted to the bike via a clear plastic attachment. the puppy's board fits to the skateboard via its own plastic attachment, as you push the big dog's skateboard forward the puppy rotates around it, which is a nice effect. Alternatively you can remove, dogs and skateboards and play with them all separately.

This is a nicely thought through and designed set, which should give hours of fun. I think it is great to normalize cycling among the young in this way. All in all I think it is delightful.


TP-LINK Archer VR900 AC 1900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit VDSL2/ADSL2+ Modem Router (2.4 GHz 600 Mbps, 5 GHz, 1300 Mbps, 1 GHz Dual-Core Processor, Beamforming Technology)
TP-LINK Archer VR900 AC 1900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit VDSL2/ADSL2+ Modem Router (2.4 GHz 600 Mbps, 5 GHz, 1300 Mbps, 1 GHz Dual-Core Processor, Beamforming Technology)
Price: £139.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A decent router giving drop-out free performance., 17 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This review applies to the VR900, but could equally apply to other Archers. I have used it to replace a Belkin router I had for many years and we are connected to a BT type phone line with Utility Warehouse. In our house we run Macs so I cannot comment on how easy the set-up process is from the supplied disk as it is PC only. However, if you have a record of all your settings, username password, PPOE, VMUX etc then it is pretty straight forward to do and the on board software is quite easy to follow. I have not tested it with a cable connection but it is good that it is compatible with both.

The Archer unit has ac standard Wifi rather than the N that my Belkin did, and a higher frequency band so it could be expected to give a better range, but I did not find this to be the case. It appears that the range is pretty similar to the old Belkin, although penetration through our old brick walls up stairs and into the garage might be a little better. What is noticeably better is the stability of the network, a feature of the Belkin was a tendency to drop out quite frequently needing a hard reset every day or two, I have not needed to do any with the Archer.

Connecting has been without issue on the various idevices we own. We also have wired connections into hifi and home cinema equipment, which all works fairly seemlessly.

The parental function works but is not that useful. You can configure your children's units to have active internet for a period of time, but you have to list every site you want them to have access to, which is a chore. Instead I use a service like Open DNS, which is compatible with the Archer, which allows custom DNS settings. The router also has MAC address filtering if you are worried about rogue access, we think the provision of a guest wifi is also useful. Another feature is that the router seems to favour whatever device is streaming in the house and throttles other things down, that said when both of my children are streaming things there hasn't been an argument.

In summary this appears to be a good router that makes a robust connection to a broadband signal. It has functioned for weeks so far without annoying drop outs and it is particularly recommended for this. Range does not appear to be any different to previous generation (N) routers but are superior to G.


Mosquito Patches Insect Repellent Deet free perfect for the family. (24 PATCHES)
Mosquito Patches Insect Repellent Deet free perfect for the family. (24 PATCHES)
Offered by Healthcare Europe
Price: £8.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Effective repellent in a convenient package., 17 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We used these in an area renowned for insect bites and received none at all throughout our whole party, so anecdotally they appear to work. The patches are quite small, measuring about 1.5cm x 1.5cm. You break one off and squeeze it, you can feel it break and then you get a citronella type smell. Sticking the patch to my finger I then rubbed it up and down my arms and legs before sticking it to my T-shirt.

I like that the patches are small and activated by squeezing, it was also helpful to stick the tab to my shirt. They are easy to transport and lasted for a long day in stifling heat (around 40C)

Small convenient and effective, there really isn't much not to like.


Beurer Activity Tracker with Bluetooth Smart
Beurer Activity Tracker with Bluetooth Smart
Offered by Cosse GmbH
Price: £50.96

3.0 out of 5 stars Would have made more sense as a product if it was waterproof., 29 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a nicely designed wristband that is narrow and sleek. It tracks activity by measuring your steps, and tracks your sleep by you telling it that you are going to sleep and monitoring how much you move and deducing if you are awake, in deep sleep or in light sleep. When you wake up you have to take it out of sleep mode. It syncs the information to a smart phone via the software Beurer provide for free. So all in all the wrist band doesn't do very much, it does tell the time, and gives you a running total of the calories you have burned. I think this running total is a combination of weight height and time spent active, as it counts your steps and does a calculation of how far you have gone. Distance for each stride can be entered in the settings for your software.

I have found that the device is comfortable to wear and appears to work fairly well. I am not sure if it is accurate as I don't have another device to compare it to. It gave me roughly 3000 steps for my cycle to work, and I also accumulated about the same amount on a 30 minute walk which is about the same duration as my cycle commute. The numbers for calorie burn seem plausible. For me the value of the device is that I can look at it and decide whether I have been a bit to sedentary in a day, if so I get up and do some walking. This has already happened twice in the four or so days I have been testing it, so in a real sense absolute accuracy is not required as long as it is mostly right, which I suspect it is. I've found it works better if it attached tightly to my wrist.

The software is a general app for all of Beurer's products. It is a bit clunky on my iPhone as on most days I have to tell it to forget my device and then add it again. Upon doing so it manages to sync properly, I haven't had the same issues on my iPad. The software gives you some nice graphs of sleep duration and activity and appears to send the data to healthkit properly, which doesn't happen for many products in my experience.

The device has an OLED display and is a bit dim in normal sunlight, although fine in doors, presumably this is to save of batteries. It is charged by clipping a lead onto the device, which avoids a connector I guess but it is not water proof so why not put on standard usb and not go to the length of making blue tooth. It would have made more sense if it was a bit more waterproof in this regard.

So is this good value for money? Well I think it depends on your personality a bit. If you are motivated by numbers and graphs then this will help you be a bit more active. If you aren't then it isn't going to stay on your wrist for long. I wouldn't want it as my main watch, I have a nice watch I want for that and I am wearing it as a sort of cheesy tech bracelet on the other wrist.


Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
by Carlo Rovelli
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Short but a good read, 29 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is called seven brief lessons on physics and it is not joking it is brief. However it is very well written and an enjoyable read. It is aimed at the non-physicist and attempts to get over some of the sense of wonder at the ingenuity and genius of the pioneers of relativity, quantum theory and the like in the early part of the last century. I think it succeeds in doing this, but I am not the best judge as I am a physicist and I am already familiar with the concepts being described.

It is not a book that attempts to teach anyone any physics at a serious level but instead tries to open a window so that others can look at the world like a physicist does. On top of this it does it with some beautiful prose I've given it four stars because I liked reading the book, but it is short. Many people bought a brief history of time because they wanted it on the coffee table, This is nowhere the depth of that book, but I suspect would get read by many more of the same people who bought that earlier tome.


MaxiNutrition Cyclone Strength and Power Protein Shake Powder 1.26 kg - Strawberry
MaxiNutrition Cyclone Strength and Power Protein Shake Powder 1.26 kg - Strawberry
Price: £33.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Taste is alright, but needs to be drunk on its own., 27 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Protein shakes are often the preserve of body builders. I am not a body builder but a keen amateur cyclist who uses weight training to improve my strength and to help keep my own weight down, as a mature man I am aware that I will start to loose muscle mass and tone unless I do something to fight against the progress of the years. Protein shakes are for me a useful tool, in that they help feed your muscles without having to eat tiresome quantities of protein rich foods (e.g. chicken) and boost the amount of protein consumed without taking on the fat that eating all that meat often entails. Protein shakes do work in my experience, but need to be used with care as part of a planned diet and exercise programme, if you do this you will build muscle and not gain fat, if you just take the shakes without putting in the work, you will not build muscle and will gain fat, So as an example the last time I followed such a programme I reduced by body fat % by around 4% in about 4 weeks.

So having said all of this how do I rate cyclone? Well it has a good dose of protein per serving (30g) and the benefit of added creatine, which the sports scientists say helps to maintain your muscle once you have built it. I also look for how much sugar is in it and what it tastes like. Many protein shakes taste a bit foul and have lots of sugar in to disguise it. This does not have much sugar and tastes OK, I normally go for Vanilla not strawberry as it makes it a bit more neutral when mixing it with oats, but this one is OK and quite easy to get down. I am not sure you could mix it with anything though.


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