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Tefal Safe to Touch Kettle, 1.5 Litre, 3000 Watt, Black
Tefal Safe to Touch Kettle, 1.5 Litre, 3000 Watt, Black
Price: £39.84

3.0 out of 5 stars Dark and powerful!, 18 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I feel a bit sorry for this appliance. Why? Because for the past 20 years I've had a brushed aluminium Seimens Porsche kettle, one of the first to have gizmos like doubled walled insulation and a concealed element, as well as styling to rival Concorde. So if you are 20 years late to the same specification and made of black plastic, you're just never going to cut it, are you.

Ok - that's the necessarily slightly negative context for my review over. Do I have anything nice to say about this Tefal gadget? Well, actually yes. It looks nice and streamlined. Despite the plastic body it has a metal liner, which to me is very important as I'd used plastic jug kettles in the past that seemed to impart a synthetic taste to the water and even one that appeared to contain globules of melted plastic when it boiled. Like my Seimens, this kettle has a concealed element, and I cannot tell you how essential that is if you live in a hard water area - basically it means you never have to descale your kettle again. Granted, aspects of it feel a little cheap - the paddle-shaped 'on' button is a clear perspexy inexpensive-looking plastic (though it does light up a lovely neon blue when on) and the the base is very lightweight and doesn't scream quality. However on the aesthetic front, in general its perfectly ok.

On to performance now. It boils quickly, but quite noisily and despite the double walling that does keep it cool to the touch, a lot of steam seemed to escape from various points in the lid, not just the spout, which I thought probably means you'd lose heat that way instead. The lid was a bit fiddly to get open at first - it looks like you should put your hand into the concave bit and just pull it up, when actually what you need to do is find the plastic bar in the centre of the lid, and press it into the recess to get the top to pop. Water level meter is only shown on the inside of the kettle so you'd need to open it every time to check whether it needed filling or not, which is a bit of a pain. Where it does score over my existing appliance is that the cord to the base is a better length, and of course it's half the price. That said I 'd rather pay a bit more to ensure I got both form AND function, so whilst this kettle is perfectly ok, for me it doesn't represent great value for money at around the £40 mark.

Hama Delta Pro 180 Photo/Video Tripod with 2D Tilt Head
Hama Delta Pro 180 Photo/Video Tripod with 2D Tilt Head
Price: £71.46

4.0 out of 5 stars Say cheese!, 17 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a well-designed, well-made and easy to use tripod. It adjusts effortlessly up and down to eye level, and the head both tilts and rotates. There are two spirit levels - one at the top of the legs, and one on the side of the metal and cork camera baseplate - as well as a teeny tiny compass. Coupled with the spiked feet suitable for multiple terrains, this makes the tripod easy to adjust into a level position no matter where you find yourself. It comes with the joints all very well greased (so much so in fact that you might be advised to carry tissues or a cloth so you can clean you hands before attaching your camera) so any adjustments are always smooth and precise. There is also the bonus of a really decent lightly padded case with double zips, and a thick shoulder strap to distribute the weight evenly. The tripod itself is black with simple white graphics. No self assembly is required - the item comes ready to use straight out of the box and is simple enough to adjust that no instructions are necessary either.

I found it very straightforward to manoeuvre the tripod into the desired position, easy to attach my camera (an Olympus PEN micro 4/3) and easy to lock once in the desired configuration. I did have a moments panic trying to get my camera off after use as the screw thread on the bottom seemed to be stuck (I'm guessing part of the locking mechanism incorporates a screw thread lock too), but by taking the head off the tripod and having better access to the mechanism it was a simple matter to separate the two again. I would just add that without a remote shutter release you are somewhat negating the advantages of tripod stabilisation, however an increasing number of cameras (like mine) have wifi/Bluetooth connectivity which allows for use of remote control through a smart phone app so you could conceivably use this tripod without any further outlay.

All in all I think this item represents good value for money and is nicely made. It is not as lightweight as some of the aluminium tripods I have seen but is a fifth the price of the premium models, and actually when loaded into the bag and carried on the shoulder really not a burden at all. I would recommend this for anyone who wants to take slightly more pro shots with minimal outlay - if you've been roped into covering a family wedding, say, or night time photos with long exposures such as star trails, northern lights, or even moving water for that misty effect. I am quite a pared down sort of girl - hence why I bought a mirrorless compact rather than a DSLR - and I did wonder prior to ordering this if I would find it too bulky to carry around and would have perhaps been better off with one of those flexible rubber jobs that wrap round tree branches and railings but this is so compact when stowed away in its bag that I don't think it's an issue really. Nice item. 4 stars.

Vax Dual Power Carpet Cleaner, 2.7 L, Graphite and Orange
Vax Dual Power Carpet Cleaner, 2.7 L, Graphite and Orange
Price: £119.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Give your grubby carpet a spruce up with a Vax!, 17 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Vax Dual Power Carpet Cleaner is the first dedicated carpet washer I've used and I was a little dubious that a domestic cleaner would really produce a decent result. Happily I my doubts were unfounded.

The cleaner comes in 3 parts which are simple to clip together to form a pretty slimline unit held securely by the three screws provided. The larger top clean water tank holds 2.7l and the bottom waste water tank 1.5l so there's decent capacity to complete a room without too many refills. The unit comes with 250mls of Vax's proprietary regular cleaning solution and to be honest I don't think it would last any great length of time before having to purchase the pretty expensive refill packs. The unit comes with instructions on assembly and dilutions measure of the cleaning fluid to water.

Once the unit is assembled and filled and the tank filled you're ready to go, obviously having preprepared your carpet with a thorough vacuuming. In use the cleaner is pretty light and didn't require much effort to roll back and forth. The lengthy 8m cable gives enough reach to cover the biggest rooms and the two way action, forward while squeezing trigger to deploy the solution backwards and release to suck up the waste, was very intuitive. On my rather deep piled carpet the waste water was satisfyingly murky, indicating the cleaning solution was doing its job. My carpet had some discoloration on the more heavily trafficked areas and there was a striking difference after the vax had done its work. Filling and emptying the water tanks wasn't too difficult, simple tip out and clip in process but without any fill markings i found it easiest to use a measuring jug to fill the tank and ensure the right dilution for the cleaning solution.

After finishing the carpet was noticeably damp to the touch and took a few hours with windows open to dry out thoroughly.For best results I'd recommend ensuring no one walks across it until properly dry. Once dry my initial impression that the vax had lift a significant amount of dirt was confirmed. The carpet looked much fresher and restored to a good condition.

I don't have any stairs at home which is fortunate as this model isn't designed to work on them, a bit limiting for those who do though. It's designed to mop up spills which might stain just from blotting but I haven't so far had to use it for this so can't comment on how well it does that job. Other than that small caveat I thought this was a really well designed and functional cleaner.

Delicious. Love to Cook: 140 Irresistible Recipes to Revitalise Your Cooking
Delicious. Love to Cook: 140 Irresistible Recipes to Revitalise Your Cooking
by Valli Little
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.91

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good All-Rounder, 30 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I ordered this book. Unusually, it doesn't seem to have an obvious theme (such as a tie-in with a celebrity chef, or an association with a particular regional cuisine). What it does offer is 140 relatively simple recipes that pretty much anyone could tackle, that for the most part look very tasty.

The book starts with eggy dishes such as baked ricotta cakes with roasted tomatoes, and Chinese omelette with bbq duck, then progresses to starters such as spiced carrot soup with coconut cream and pork rillettes. The seafood section has chilli prawns with yuzu mayonnaise and a hearty looking mussel chowder. On to poultry for duck legs with Asian slaw, then a more general meat section incorporating recipes such as beef roulade with parsley pesto and Mexican pull-apart pork. There's a chapter on pasta, noodles and rice with the worlds easiest tomato sauce, and greek lamb with orzo, also seafood gets another look in in the shape of bloody mary crab spaghetti. The veggie section has beet burgers and grilled courgette wraps, then onto salads where you'll find pumpkin caprese and greek salad with calamari. The puds were one of my favourite sections with an olive oil, rosemary and pear cake, plus gorgeous looking salted caramel pots. Cakes and Bakes includes home made lemon curd, and a spicey Tasmanian dish - monkey bun. The fruit chapter includes champagne strawberry trifles and baked quince with sweet couscous. Bringing up the rear are festive recipes including Christmas morning granola and beetroot gravadlax, with brined duck breasts as an alternative to turkey.

There is a picture of every single recipe, so you always know what the finished product should look like, and a number of party menus assembled from dishes on a common theme such as 'Arabian Nights' and 'Mexican Fiesta'. I particularly liked the range of cuisines on offer, including Asian, south American, Scandinavian and modern European. Overall this a very decent book which would make a great starting point for someone with few or no culinary publications. No absolute wow factor, but a really good solid all-rounder.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2014 1:20 PM BST

Oral-B Trizone 4000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Oral-B Trizone 4000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Price: £54.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Stay tuned for the next exciting installment., 26 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I will start by saying that I cannot (at the present time) do a full review for this product. Before you leap for the 'unhelpful' button let me tell you why as that in itself may be useful information for potential purchasers. The item is a battery powered rechargeable toothbrush. It comes with a two pin plug to fit one of the old-fashioned shaver sockets. So if (like me) you don't have a shaver socket in your bathroom you cannot use it. Well, not without purchasing some sort of adaptor at extra expense. I am at a bit of a loss as to why no 3 pin plug would be supplied - if the toothbrush ran directly from the mains, fair enough but if it has a battery in and has to be charged why not simply make use of the standard electrical supply every house in the UK has. Rant over.

The design is quite nice, a lovely minty green, but the brush is surprisingly heavy. Also, although you get three heads supplied (which is admittedly quite generous) they are identical and I feel it would have been nice to have a choice of sizes and textures so I could work out what was optimum for me and then know what I needed to purchase next time around without potential wasted outlay purchasing multiple heads till I got it right.

I will update this thread in a few days when I have managed to track down an adaptor and charged the thing, so I can comment on cleaning proficiency (hopefully sparkling, but not filling loosening!).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 6, 2014 10:13 AM BST

Philips GC2048/80 Easyspeed Steam Iron with 120g Steam Boost and Ceramic Soleplate, 270 ml, 2300 Watt, Purple
Philips GC2048/80 Easyspeed Steam Iron with 120g Steam Boost and Ceramic Soleplate, 270 ml, 2300 Watt, Purple
Offered by BestBuyUk
Price: £54.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No need for press ups!, 18 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Looking for an iron that's powerful enough to cut through the wrinkliest pile of washing but wont leave you looking like Popeye? The Philips Easyspeed should be on your radar. This lightweight but fully featured iron is a joy to use.

The top filled reservoir is easy to refill whilst working though a big job and provides enough steam to use liberally on those items you may have left in the drier for a little too long. The ceramic base plate glides across material with no hint of dragging and the dial is clearly marked with the usual settings. The unit gets up to working temperature in no time and the sturdy cord doesn't get in the way either in use or when standing the iron on it's base plate. The boost function gives a big dollop of steam on demand and the plate is shaped to allow you to get into pleats and folds. It also looks pretty funky and the plastic feels durable.

It's hard to get excited about something as functional as an iron but when it does the job with as little fuss as the Easyspeed I'm happy to give a big thumbs up.

NESCAFE Dolce Gusto Oblo by KRUPS Coffee Capsule Machine - Orange
NESCAFE Dolce Gusto Oblo by KRUPS Coffee Capsule Machine - Orange
Price: £89.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Find the right pods and it's a useful addition to the kitchen., 18 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a good looking product. From the box it comes in to the set up machine it all looks quality. But does the function match the form? It's extremely simple to set up. Follow the instructions on the initial rinse setting and within a couple of minutes you're ready to pop in a pod and start sampling the coffee.

Water is stored in an easily detached filler that slips into the rear of the unit and holds enough for a couple of decent size mugs. I found slotting it into the machine straightforward as long as you remember to put it in tilted bottom first then press the top home till it secures. Once it's switched on the red button changes to green to indicate its ready to start. You slip the pod into a tray that slides out from the top of the unit after unlatching the flip up catch. Push the latch down to secure the pod and at the same time it punctures the pod in preparation for the water passing through. The water flow is controlled by a manual lever on top. Slide to the red tab for hot water or blue for cold. Slide to the middle to stop the water flow.

The unit comes with 6 pods of a variety of flavours. It's here that I realised I should have read the instructions as some of the flavours are designed to be two pod drinks and others one. The two pod drinks generally are a mix of a coffee base then either a milk or flavour froth. Not knowing this I popped in a pod only to be surprised that I got a cup of white froth. Made no sense until I realised this should have been the topping for a cappuccino. To be fair when buying pods it lets you know if it's a one or two pod drink.

That leads to another issue. Knowing how much water to put through each pod for the perfect drink. With the supplied pods its hard to tell but when you buy a box of pods the amount of water required is stated on the lid, an Americano pod for instance is 230ml of water. The problem is there's no indication of the amount of water used on the unit and you have to guess. Just a matter of practice I guess but it does lead to a few wasted pods and as the price of the pods aren't cheap that can be an expensive learning process.

I've tried a few of the flavours now and have to say that when you get the water level right the results are pretty decent. Not as good as full sized high pressure machine with freshly ground coffee and I think even my little Bialetti stove top does a better job but the Krups is cleaner, quicker and less fuss. Once done the tray slips out with the used pod and you just pop It in the bin.

The pods are pretty easy to source either online or a good supermarkets and the costs vary from outlet to outlet. I did manage to get 48 Americano pods from Costco for under £8 and, given its a one pod drink, works out at less than 17p a cup.

I was a little worried this would end up another gadget that lived in the cupboard and rarely sees the light of day but now I've sourced some reasonably priced pods I think it will be used frequently enough to earn its place on the counter top. Given that it's easy on the eye too I think I can live with the small niggles.

Oral-B Pro 6000 Smart Series With Bluetooth Technology Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Oral-B Pro 6000 Smart Series With Bluetooth Technology Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Price: £89.33

4.0 out of 5 stars Do I really need a bluetooth toothbrush?, 18 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Braun Oral B 6000 is billed as a professional quality rechargeable toothbrush and comes with a plethora of accessories designed to improve your brushing experience. Along with 4 different cleaning heads there is also a handy travel case, and external monitor which times your brushing session, and a two pin recharging stand for us with bathroom two pin shaver outlets. It's also Bluetooth compatible and a downloadable app receives info about your brushing.

It has six brush modes ranging from standard daily clean to tongue cleaning. I don't notice a huge amount of difference between the modes but they all seem to do a good job of leaving your mouth feeling fresh and clean. The charging process is straightforward and a couple of hours gives you a substantial amount of brush time. I've had it a few weeks and only had to recharge once. The heads supplied all seem to do a good job of getting into the nooks and crannies although I find the handle itself a little bulky.

While brushing, a light on the grip will flash red let you know if you're putting on too much pressure and the wall mounted monitor will count down the remaining brush time and let you know when it's time to move to a new part of the mouth. In other brushes I've had this countdown was achieved by a pause every thirty seconds and cut off at two minutes and although its ok having an external visualisation.I think I prefer a system that doesn't require a separate battery driven device to accomplish this.

I struggled a little to find a reason for the Bluetooth function and app but I guess it would be quite handy for parents looking to monitor the brushing habits of their kids and ensuring they were doing the job properly but for me I think it's probably a function too far.

All in all this is very good brush. Well made, it does the job well and with a host of features to sate the needs of gadget heads but, if I'm honest, it costs more than I'd ever be comfortable paying for a brush and the extras don't justify such a high price.

Body Pure 1200 mg Raspberry Ketones
Body Pure 1200 mg Raspberry Ketones
Price: £12.37

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No discernable effect, 4 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These pills are supposed work by helping stimulate the production of adiponectin, a hormone which is said to assist in the break down of fat. In a couple of studies on rats it's postulated to have led to thinner rats. So far no studies have ever been to done to ascertain if there is a similar effect on humans. Of course that doesn't stop them being touted as a fat burning and appetite suppresant pill in humans.

I've used them for 30 days now. I've experienced exactly nothing from them. No side effects, no appetite suppressant, no weight loss. The pills are easy enough to take with water, haven't caused any indigestion or anything else out of the ordinary. Perhaps in some users there's a placebo effect or it helps as an aide memoire to exercise or reduce calorie intake but without any real trials I've no idea whether it performs any differently from sugar pills.

XLS Medical Fat Binder Direct - Pack of 90 Sachets
XLS Medical Fat Binder Direct - Pack of 90 Sachets
Price: £42.71

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too soon to tell, 4 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's a little difficult doing a comprehensive review of this product after 30 days of use as the full course appears to be three months and that's what was supplied as part of the Amazon review programme. So all I can realistically do is review it based on how it was to use and any side effects experienced.

The XLS medical fat binder is supposed to work by limiting the amount of dietary fat absorbed by the user thus lowering the amount of calorie rich material available to the body. It comes in a powder sachet form that's designed to be taken orally,without water if none is available, three times a day. It assumes one is eating three regular meals a day and the product is supposed to be taken before meals. It's also recommends being used as part of a calorie controlled diet.

I found the product deeply unpleasant to take dry. The mouth feel and flavour had me reaching for water to wash the powder down and get the taste out of my mouth as quickly as possible. In use I didn't find myself suffering any side effects other than a little looseness after a fat rich meal. I didn't experience any cramps or nausea or any serious bowel problems. So far so good.

To date though I haven't seen any evidence of weight loss that couldn't be attributed to a slightly reduced calorie intake and increase in activity. The amount lost is less than 1kg after 30 days use and this on someone hovering near the 100kg mark. Maybe this will improve but if I'd spent the nearly £150 that the three months course costs with my own money I think I'd be feeling I could have put that money to better use with a gym membership or regular trip to the local swimming pool.

To be fair I will revisit this review after the three month period and update as I find at the time but for now I can't really give a better than 2 star rating.

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