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Steven Unwin "Steve Unwin" (Preston, UK)

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JollySports Resistance Bands Set 6 Loop Best for Training Men or Women Legs Knee Arms and Low to Heavy Duty Workout and Exercise (Multi Color x 6, 5cm x 61cm)
JollySports Resistance Bands Set 6 Loop Best for Training Men or Women Legs Knee Arms and Low to Heavy Duty Workout and Exercise (Multi Color x 6, 5cm x 61cm)
Offered by Grabbits
Price: £25.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Set of Small Resistance Bands, 1 July 2015
The set comprises 6 looped bands. Each band measures 30 cm long (so 60 cm total loop length) by 5 cm wide using various thicknesses of silicone material to provide different resistance strengths.

The bands are marked with their strength rating (from X-Light through to XX-Heavy) and usefully each band is also a different colour so once you become familiar with which band you use for which exercise you can pick the required band from the pack without having to look for the strength ratings. A handy small net bag with tie-cord is provided to store the bands in when not in use.

I'm a keen cyclist and as such am prone to neck strain due to the posture adopted when on the bike. I've a number of neck and shoulder exercises that I have to repeat using resistance bands. These bands are quite short so for some of these I require longer lengths and so I loop a couple these bands together to create a chain with the overall resistance level to suit the exercise. With a little experimentation the bands work quite well for this.

Regarding the size of the bands, the pictures on the item description showing the bands in use seem to have used a little artistic licence. For example if I attempted to stretch the purple X-Light band to the extent shown the Jolly Sport logo would be distorted beyond recognition (and not clearly visible as shown) and I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to stretch it that far without safety goggles. So treat the pictures with a pinch of salt.

However overall the bands look well-made and though I've only had them for a short time have seen nothing to indicate that they won't last. The range of levels of resistance strengths in the set provide a variety of options to fine tune your exercise regime and I like the use of colour to make simple the selection of the right band.

However please don't assume that the bands can stretch to the extent shown in the photographs. I've deducted a star, not because of a fault with the bands but because I think the pictures are somewhat unrepresentative.

I was happy to be invited to review these resistance bands.

Skipping Rope - Fast Speed Rope for Fitness Training - Includes FREE Skip Circuit Full Body Workout & FREE Carry Case - Boxing, MMA, Crossfit Workout, WOD's, Cardio - Best Professional Ropes - Black Long 9ft Cable - Great for Exercise - For Men & Women - Improve Strength & Stamina - LIFETIME GUARANTEE
Skipping Rope - Fast Speed Rope for Fitness Training - Includes FREE Skip Circuit Full Body Workout & FREE Carry Case - Boxing, MMA, Crossfit Workout, WOD's, Cardio - Best Professional Ropes - Black Long 9ft Cable - Great for Exercise - For Men & Women - Improve Strength & Stamina - LIFETIME GUARANTEE
Offered by Roboshop Limited
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the Perfect Skipping Rope, 26 Jun. 2015
Ok so a skipping rope is a pretty simple device, but it's clear that care has been taken in both the design and manufacture of this one whilst keeping it simple.

Though I like to keep fit with plenty of cycling, I'm not a great skipper (I never knew how tiring skipping could be!) so my daughter helped out with this review.

The `rope' is a thin plastic coated wire which is light, very flexible and has been designed to be totally twist and snag free, so no chance of tangles or knots to undo.

The handles are a simple design in black plastic which feels good in the hand. Each has a swivelling end point to which the cable is attached.

The cable passes through each handle's swivelling end point and is held in place with two metal screw operated pinch grips. You adjust cable length by moving these pinch-grips and hand-tightening them into place. The grips have a knurled edge to make it easy to hand tighten them, but if needs be you can use a screwdriver to tighten them further. I've never found a need for this.

The instructions say to cut the cable to your chosen length, but we found that simply clamping the cable at the selected length and letting the short excess hang loose worked perfectly well and had the advantage that we could quickly reduce or increase the length to meet our different needs.

If the above sounds complex, it isn't, and the skipping rope can be used straight from the box, or the handy draw-string bag that is provided for its storage.

All in all it's great to see something kept simple and done well. If you like skipping then I recommend you give this rope a try.

I was happy to be sent this skipping rope for unbiased review.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 29, 2015 9:47 PM BST

DBPOWER® 9.5" Portable DVD Player with Swivel Screen, Supports SD Card and USB, Direct Play in Formats MP4/AVI/RMVB/MP3/JPEG_(NS969B,Black)
DBPOWER® 9.5" Portable DVD Player with Swivel Screen, Supports SD Card and USB, Direct Play in Formats MP4/AVI/RMVB/MP3/JPEG_(NS969B,Black)
Offered by DBPOWER
Price: £79.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A Useful DVD Player but Showing its Age Elsewhere, 17 Jun. 2015
This is a multi-function device, though many people may use it just for viewing DVD's. As a DVD player it performs very well, however if the additional multi-media features are important to you, I’d recommend you note the details in this review before deciding whether to buy.

In the box you will find:-
•DVD Player
•Game control pad
•Audio/Video lead
•Power supply
•Remote control
•Instruction Manual - of limited value.

The device is a clamshell design, open it up to reveal a 20 cm x 11 cm approx. colour screen and a top load DVD player and pushbutton controls. Switch on and using the supplied remote control (which is functional but unimpressive) you can skip through the available modes:-
•DVD and Media player SD and USB devices.
•AV in / AV out
•Analogue TV Receiver
•FM Radio
•Game mode using the supplied disc.

Media Player: 7/10
The good news is that the 9 inch diagonal wide-screen provides a pretty good picture with good levels of contras, bright colours and good definition. Indoors the picture is plenty bright enough and I was able to watch outdoors in the shade of a summer house on a fairly bright day. The viewing angles vertically and horizontally are quite good which means that watching video need not be a solo activity. The screen has a tilt and turn capability which is very useful in setting up the best viewing position.
When playing DVD's the machine performed faultlessly on a variety of disks. The battery is capable of playing a regular feature film before needing a recharge, and films can of course be viewed whilst charging. Incidentally the charger appears to use a standard micro USB connector.
CDs also played surprisingly well with reasonably good sound, certainly louder, clearer and preferable to the output from my Latitude laptop.
From an SD card I was able to display JPG images and play MP3 files, but had little luck playing MP4 or AVI files. Unfortunately I could not get the device to recognise a USB stick at all. Additionally I found the menu system irritating and far from intuitive. The instruction manual is of little help.

AV in / AV Out: 9/10
The unit comes with a video cable which will connect an external Red/Yellow/White RCA video source or display via a 2.5 mm jack plug. In use this worked well to allow output onto a large screen TV and input of external sources for display on the unit's screen. I tested displaying video from a Samsung DVD/Video player but this feature could be very useful, for example allowing the display of an external digital TV signal. The supplied cable is only 90 cm long approx., so you may need to purchase an extension cable.

Analogue TV: 0/10
In short the Analogue TV tuner is of little use in the UK since the switch to digital TV.

FM Radio: 3/10
The FM radio tuner is fiddly to set up and to operate and the results barely warrant the effort with limited station coverage and uninspired reception. If you still listen to FM radio rather than DAB or Internet radio, you probably already have a far better radio than this.

Games Player: 5/10
The unit comes with a disc containing 300 games which allow you to time travel to the clunky graphics and gameplay of the 80s with games like Tetris, Pacman and Super Mario, all played on a rather cheap feeling game controller. Admittedly if you are of a certain age there is a limited joy in revisiting these classics if only out of curiosity, but our lives are so full of game capable devices that this is unlikely to be any more than a curiosity.

To be fair this device seems to be being sold primarily as a portable DVD player. Bought as such it works well and the somewhat patchy additional features might be seen as a valuable free bonus. However if bought as a multi-purpose media machine you're likely to be very disappointed and you may wish to look elsewhere.

It’s a shame since with the addition of a digital TV tuner and some tidying up and fixing of the other features it could be a much better little device.

I was happy to be offered this device for unbiased review.

Ipow ABS Light-Weight hangers Non-Slip Durable Clothes Hanging Organizer Hook various colours Perfect for Pants,Dress,Jacket ,Underwear and Shirt in Home,Set of 10
Ipow ABS Light-Weight hangers Non-Slip Durable Clothes Hanging Organizer Hook various colours Perfect for Pants,Dress,Jacket ,Underwear and Shirt in Home,Set of 10
Offered by Ipow-Official
Price: £12.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Useful Hangers but with Quality Issues, 19 May 2015
I have mixed opinions about these hangers. The hangers themselves are good with a number of useful features, however I received several hangers that had been damaged either in transit or before dispatch, all with the hanging hook broken off.

In their defence the supplier sent out replacements very quickly but even some of these were damaged. In the end I received a surplus of hangers, but it is difficult to recommend them on this basis.

What I liked about the hangers were the rubberised sections which helped prevent items of clothing from slipping, and the selection of hooks that allow you to hang garments from the hanger, or loop ties or even scarves onto the hanger.

The hangers are without the additional lower hooks or secondary horizontal bar that is sometimes useful to loop trousers through. When hanging trousers the hangers rely on the rubberised strip to stop the trousers from slipping off, which in fairness seems to work well.

The rubberised sections of the hangers come in five different colours, two of each colour per set. At first I thought this might offer the chance to categorise garments by colour, but in use the colour is covered by the garments being hung. In this respect it's a shame the colour isn't continued onto the hanging hook so that it can be seen when the hanger is in use.

So in arriving at a rating I've attempted to balance the usefulness of the hangers against my personal experience of receiving in total three consignments all of which contained broken hangers, even though the supplier was quick to send replacements.

I was sent these hangers for impartial review.

Yoga Full Toe Socks, 2 Pairs Value Pack Set, For Yoga, Pilates, Non Slip Skid Socks
Yoga Full Toe Socks, 2 Pairs Value Pack Set, For Yoga, Pilates, Non Slip Skid Socks
Offered by YogaAddict [UK]
Price: £24.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Exercise Alternative to Bare Feet, 19 May 2015
Looking like two elongated gloves, these Yoga Socks wrap your feet, ankles and ten little toes in socks that provide a hygienic alternative to bare feet whilst also being non-slip thanks to their array of rubberised dots on the sole.

First time on it felt a little weird and uncomfortable putting my toes into the individual `fingers' of the `gloves' and my littlest toes never quite got the idea, but after a few minutes of wear you soon forget you're wearing them. The advantage of separate toes is that it improves the grip between your foot and the sock, and the sock and the floor, by stopping the sock from tending to spin on your foot. It certainly seems to work and even on a wooden floor you soon become confident in stretching out without slipping.

With regard to sizing, I'm slightly over a UK size 10 and the Medium/Large size just about fitted. A size 11 would be pushing it, but as the socks are stretchy, sizes up to 10 should be no problem.

Though called Yoga socks they're suitable for most types of exercise and you might find yourself keeping them on afterwards, particularly if you exercise at home, during your warm-down in front of the TV.

I was delighted to be sent these socks for review.

Snow Cake [DVD] [2006]
Snow Cake [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Alan Rickman
Offered by babsbargains *** WORLDWIDE SHIPPING ***
Price: £15.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-warming, Insightful and Beautifully Performed., 14 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Snow Cake [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Alan Rickman stars as Alex, a dour Englishman who is involved in a tragic car accident whilst driving across Canada. The repercussions of the crash bring him to snowy Wawa, Ontario where he finds himself looking after Linda, an eccentric, high-functioning autistic woman played by Sigourney Weaver.

As Alex gradually begins to adjust and open up to his new surroundings, he develops an awkward friendship with Linda. However, things are complicated when Alex begins a tentative romance with Linda's divorced neighbour Maggie (Carrie-Ann Moss).

There are tremendous performances from Weaver and Rickman, the script is peppered with clever and humorous lines and memorable scenes such as Linda and Alex playing a game of scrabble with invented words.

It's a heart-warming and humorous drama, but the kind of film that sneaks up on you and you don't realise how much it has affected you until you find yourself thinking about it days later and influencing the way you see and interact with those around you.

Man on Wire [DVD] [2008]
Man on Wire [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Ardis Campbell
Price: £3.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Real-Life Adventure Story, 14 May 2015
This review is from: Man on Wire [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This is a fabulous film that tells the story of Philippe Petit who in 1974 made an exuberant and illegal high-wire walk between the twin towers in New York. The story is quite remarkable, not simply for the final super-human feat, balancing on a wire unprotected a quarter of a mile above the ground, but also for the meticulous and clandestine planning and plotting required to pull of the illegal feat; a real-life James Bond plot.

The result is a fantastic story of how someone can achieve the seemingly impossible when driven by passion.

Petit is an exuberant Frenchman and I love his use of English to create word-pictures in ways that English speakers seldom seem able. Brilliant.

My favourite moment in the film is when Petit finally is persuaded to come down from his high-wire to be arrested into the arms of the police. He is asked "Why would you do such a crazy thing...?" He looks obviously puzzled that the question has been asked and simply replies "There is no why." It was a lovely juxtaposition between his free spirit and the regimented thinking of the authorities.

If you enjoy the film then don't overlook the book which is a fabulous read. The book was originally titled 'To Reach the Clouds', but more recently seems to have adopted the name used for the film `Man on Wire'.

How to Live Dangerously: Why we should all stop worrying, and start living
How to Live Dangerously: Why we should all stop worrying, and start living
Price: £6.25

5.0 out of 5 stars How Dangerous it is to be Safe!, 14 May 2015
Don't be misled by the title. This isn't a book written for adrenaline junkies hell bent on near death experiences. It's a book written for us all. It explores how the human race that evolved to meet the demands of life on the Savannah, finds it so difficult to correctly evaluate and respond to the risks of modern life.

The book is packed with interesting facts and insights and tub thumping rallying calls to look at things differently. For example as a cyclist it's a little disconcerting to discover that I'm eleven times more likely than a car driver to die in a traffic accident, until I learn that by cycling 25 miles per week I halve the risk of heart disease. As a result for every year cyclists lose through accidents, 20 are added to lives as a result of the beneficial effects of exercise.

The book begins with an assessment of modern life in which more than ever before our lives are filled with fear and a litigation culture in which someone else is always to blame. Countless examples are given where our perception of threats is totally at odds with the actual threat posed. The role of the media in fuelling our worries and the vested interests in maintaining fear are discussed.

People afraid of germs are good business and a fancy sounding medical name for a problem will help boost sales. School clothing with inbuilt tracking devices present the tip of an iceberg of change that has seen children's switched from the free-range lives of their parents, to the closely monitored battery reared childhoods that are now increasingly the norm.

In contrast there are several stories told of how the removal of `safety features' actually makes life more safe.

For example the work of Hans Monderman's ideas of shared-space for pedestrians and vehicles makes fascinating reading. It seeks to minimise demarcations between vehicle traffic and pedestrians, often by removing features such as kerbs, road surface markings, traffic signs, and regulations. Monderman found that the traffic efficiency and safety improved when the street and surrounding public space was redesigned to encourage each person to negotiate their movement directly with others.

The thrust of the book is that our misaligned perception of risk is actually driving us to damage the things we seek to safeguard. The children kept in to avoid the infinitesimally small threat of abduction suffer physical and mental development that degrades and shortens millions of lives. It leads us to spend astronomical amounts in the theatrical and largely ineffective protection against terrorist attacks at airports whilst we sit unmoved by the death toll of 3000 people killed every day in road traffic accidents around the world.

This is an entertaining read, with some important messages and concludes with the rallying call that to make life safer we have to do what appears more dangerous.

The Art of Travel
The Art of Travel
by Alain de Botton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite Phrasing and Imagery, 13 May 2015
This review is from: The Art of Travel (Paperback)
This is a delightful and insightful book that has obviously been written with great care. Some of the phrasing and imagery it creates is exquisite, and the ideas it conveys are quite profound.

By way of introduction, Alain de Botton points towards the vast array of books with advice on where to travel to, whilst we seldom ask why we go and how we might become more fulfilled by doing so. In asking these questions he invites us to explore much more than the nature of travel, but what the Greek philosophers beautifully termed eudemonia, or human flourishing.

The book, complete with many appropriate illustrations, explores the nature of travel through the eyes of critics, writers, thinkers and travellers of all sorts, all neatly correlated to the authors personal experience. The result is a delightfully well written invitation to explore our own thinking. This process is laced with opportunities for new insights. For example the discovery that when we travel we may leave everything behind, but can't avoid being accompanied by ourselves, perhaps the very thing we most seek a break from.

I think my favourite chapter is one in which Alain explores the Provence region of France through the eyes of Vincent Van Gogh. He described how on first encountering the region he found no real charm or magic in the scenery. However having explored how Van Gogh saw and captured the region through his paintings he reveals how he was taught to see in new ways. This experience itself reveals a number of powerful insights about how we see and are able to see the world, but beyond this it revealed to me for the first time the true nature of an artist's role in creating new ways in which to see.

"A few years after Van Gogh's stay in Provence, Oscar Wilde remarked that there had been no fog in London before Whistler painted it. There had surely been fewer cypresses in Provence before Van Gogh painted them."

I highly recommend this book. The use of language is beautiful and the insights are delicately observed and delivered with humour and obvious affection.

Field of Dreams [DVD] [1989]
Field of Dreams [DVD] [1989]
Dvd ~ Kevin Costner
Price: £3.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe it Will Inspire You, 13 May 2015
This review is from: Field of Dreams [DVD] [1989] (DVD)
I missed this movie when it was released in 1988 but the title was one that was later lodged at the back of my mind as it kept cropping up every now and then as I listened to presentations or would occasionally arise in conversations with people from quite different backgrounds.

Eventually the title worked its way to the front of my mind and I decided to buy it.

In attempting to describe the film there is a danger that I will distract you. For example the film is about baseball which although it creates great passion in America, for many areas of the world is a rather minor sport. The story is based on `Shoeless Joe Jackson' who was accused of throwing a game in the Chicago Black Sox scandal early last century.

However don't worry if you don't like baseball or don't even like sport, this is really a story about having dreams and vision and making them happen; as the film puts it, a story of going the distance and realising your dreams. Kevin Costner plays the part of a farmer who hears a voice that stirs a dream and sets him on a course to build a baseball ground on his Iowa farm.

What the film is, in our context of change is of course less important than what the film might stir in you and how it might help inspire you to overcome obstacles to get change to take place.

Of course, just as with books, your response to the film will be very personal. All I can suggest is that if you are involved in change, in trying to create a new future then I think you might enjoy this film and find that in some way it helps you make sense of change and perhaps helps you to better deal with it.

An ancient sage once said `When the student is ready, the teacher will appear'. For me the film echoes this belief that if you allow yourself to be open to change and commit to it this unlocks the means to achieve it. In the words of the film, `If you build it they will come'.

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