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Reviews Written by
Grr "Gumbo" (England)

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Octonauts Gup I Playset
Octonauts Gup I Playset
Offered by Fun Collectables
Price: £30.41

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice toy but could do with a little more thought here and there, 25 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Octonauts Gup I Playset (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We really enjoy the Octonauts in our household, it is a well made educational programme that holds the attention of my three year old son and his smaller sister really well. Octonaut adventures with Octo toys are a great idea and we were really excited about getting this set. The first thing that really struck me about this toy is the sheer size of the packaging. It really is quite a beast of a box so if you are ordering as a gift you may need to make sure you have adequate storage if you want to hide it away. It is also a bit of a task getting to the toy itself once you open the box up as it is clamped in, tied down and generally secured to the nth degree. Again something to note if this is a gift as someone wanting to play with their new toy quickly might have patience issues as you wrestle it out of the cardboard.

Once you have got the toy out it is of a decent size and feels pretty sturdy. There are three modes to play with and the GUP I transforms fairly easily between each one. It also has a good range of noises and some flashing lights which help to keep small ones interested. We have had an Octonauts bath toy in the past and being that the series is based around being in the sea my son took a little persuading that this one could not in any way join him in the bath due to the batteries, but he has now got used to the idea. It is a shame it is not water tight, but I guess this is the trade off between having lights and sound or being able to be used in the wet and dry.

As other reviewers have noted you do only get one Octonauts character to play with which is a bit of a shame as our son loves his role play games and our Peter Rabbit figurines have endless fun in their treehouse together. Having only Kwazii to play with means that children cannot have conversations with other Octonauts which is a little limiting. He does use the seal toy to talk to now and again but the seal is not an Octonaut so it's not quite the same.

Overall this is a nice toy with a fair amount for an excitable toddler to do. It would benefit from an extra character (and considering the price this doesn't seem too much to ask) and perhaps from a little more thought in the packaging where less could well be more. I have a feeling our three year old will be getting a lot of use out of this over the next 12 months or so.

Institut Karité Paris Almond and Honey Shea Body Milk 250 ml
Institut Karité Paris Almond and Honey Shea Body Milk 250 ml
Price: £18.17

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely product but a tad over priced., 19 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The body cream comes in a simple plastic bottle with a pump dispenser. It has a very minimal design on the label and provides a small amount of information on the product in several languages.

The body lotion itself has a fairly thin consistency but is in no way watery and it is absorbed easily into the skin. It has a nice sweet fragrance which is not overpowering but does linger for a while after application which is lovely, and the aroma is definitely true to the description of almond and honey. I am not normally a fan of strong perfume but this one has the balance of fragrance just right, strong enough to be noticable but subtle enough to use everyday.

After application my skin does feel nice and moisturised and there is no greasy sheen. You do not feel like there is any residue and you can put clothes on straight away. I can sometimes have sensitive skin but this product does not seem to aggrivate it at all which is always a bonus.

Although I would class this lotion as being of a slightly higher quality than many products you find on the high street I cannot see this is a luxury high end product and as such I feel that the price tag is somewhat excessive. If I am paying nearly £20.00 for 250ml of body lotion I do expect there to be some little touches to make it stand out in both the packaging and product. This is a little lacking with this product - yes it does a good job but it doesn't have a wow factor and the packaging really does need a rethink to make it stand out amongst the other products out there. Overall a really good product with a slightly high price tag.

Becky Mantin Nappy Grab Bag All-in-One Disposable Changing Bag--Size 4, Pack of 10
Becky Mantin Nappy Grab Bag All-in-One Disposable Changing Bag--Size 4, Pack of 10
Price: £19.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous idea, well designed but a pricey option!, 18 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These little packs are a really good idea. To be able to grab one and tuck it into a handbag as you head out with your small person instead of grabbing a bulky changing bag whilst calmly knowing you have everything you need for a change is a great idea. The nappies are Naty which are a fabulous make. They are eco nappies and do a wonderful job, we have loved them for a long time in our house. The wipes and nappy cream are also eco options, gentle on skin and great products. The changing mat is a simple plastic sheet which will protect your little person from any ick underneath or any damp etc. There is a little pouch at one end into which you can insert the dirty nappy, wipes and packets once you are done and then you wrap the whole thing up and seal it ready for disposal. It is neat, clean and well designed. The fact that each componant part is designed to be eco and disposable means this combines convenience and functionality while helping to keep a clear conscience.

Some people have mentioned the fact these have a best before date which seems pretty short however I can understand this as they are designed to be eco friendly and use eco friendly products which will have a shorter life before starting to degrade than some others. This is a shame in some ways but a good feature in others. It does however mean you will need to use each pack fairly quickly.

One thing I cannot get my head around though is the price. At getting on for £2.00 per change that is one expensive dirty bottom. I do understand that these are designed for occasional use and use products of real quality but to me this does seem a little excessive. That said they would make a great gift for anyone expecting a baby as it will help to take the stress out of changing bags for those first visits out. These are really priced as luxury items and most families will not want to splash out on this on a regular basis when they other things more. If these were a lower price I know I would be stocking up to use every time we pop out. So much easier than a changing bag and easy to dispose of once used. A fantastic idea, well executed but at a price which seems a bit high.

Philips Avent Classic+ Pink Feeding Bottle SCF564/27 (260ml/9oz) x 2
Philips Avent Classic+ Pink Feeding Bottle SCF564/27 (260ml/9oz) x 2
Offered by Nina Trading Ltd
Price: £7.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Great bottles from birth onwards!, 18 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We have two small children who have both been breast fed, but whenever we have needed to provide a top up or bottle feed breast milk we have used Avent bottles and these do not disappoint.

As with most Avent products they are designed to be as easy to use as possible. They come apart quickly and the wider neck means the interior of the bottle is easy to clean. The teats themselves are easy to remove and you can buy them in a variety of sizes to ensure you use the bottles right through the beginning months and beyond. There are no extra components to this bottle either, it is just the bottle, teat, screw on lid and the protective lid meaning you are less likely to end up rummaging around at 2.00am because you have lost part of the bottle. The teat supplied with this pack is a size 2 so not the smallest available and they are designed to be used from one month old. There are a further 3 sizes you can go up with these bottles giving them a great flexibility as your child gets older.

The bottles themselves are a nice size, they hold up to 260ml or 9oz and they have clear markings on the side so you can easily measure the correct amount. As with other Avent bottles these markings are printed in a dark colour and so easy to see when the bottle is empty and full. I have found some bottles where the measurements are in raised plastic harder to read at speed so this is a nice plus for me. The bottles and teats are durable and well constructed - no leaks so far - and the anti colic system is fantastic.

I'm not entirely sure why the bottles need to be pink (or indeed blue) as the idea gender coloured bottles doesn't sit that well with me, but that said from a practical point of view as the plastic is coloured it does make them easier to find in the cupboard and also easier to identify if you are out and about. If you are the person with the pink or blue bottle it will be harder for someone to pick up the wrong one or for it to get lost. Personally I would love Avent to produce a rainbow set of bottles as this would be practical and look amazing.

As always these are great products that look good and function well, some of the best out there.

WOW Toys Pre-School Countdown Calendar
WOW Toys Pre-School Countdown Calendar
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A great way to prepare for pre-school, 4 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This calendar is a great idea to get your little one used to the idea of going to pre-school and also to help them think that it will be a fun place to go. In the same way that an advent calendar counts down to Christmas your child opens one door each day in the ten days prior to starting pre-school and each day gets a small toy which put together create a simple classroom scene. You are also able to use the box to play with but we found that it is a little too delicate and was pretty much destroyed immediately when we let our son do this (this was after all the doors had been opened).

We have had WOW toys in the past and really liked them as they are simple, chunky and well made. The toys in this calendar are no exception and they can be easily played with on their own or in conjunction with other WOW toys or with other figures your child happens to own.

Overall this is a really great idea to help a child get ready for any big event, pre-school, big school, nursery etc. It lets them get ready over a decent period of time to allow their brains to process the change that is about to happen. The fact that the toys will last long after the calendar has been thrown away is a great bonus and means this is more than just a gimmick.

Comfort and Harmony Simply Mombo Pillow with Removable Slipcover (Turquoise)
Comfort and Harmony Simply Mombo Pillow with Removable Slipcover (Turquoise)
Price: £24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful pillow to help support breast feeding with many other uses as baby grows!, 28 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a lovely pillow designed to help with breast feeding, it fits snuggly round your middle and baby lies on top to lift them up to the level of the breast and provides support for both mother and baby. This cushion has been designed with extra slim sides to allow mothers to fit into small chairs as well as using it on sofas etc. The cushion itself is a great size, it is not too big or too small and has a good density. I have used pillows in the past which were filled with a softer stuffing which deflates when you lie the baby on it which makes them pretty useless. This pillow has a nice firm support which is soft enough for baby but does not compress too much.

The cover for this pillow is a in a calm unisex colour with a nice simple design, it comes off for washing and is reversible (hence the two pictures shown on Amazon). The ability for the cover to come off is pretty essential as babies are not the cleanest of eaters and quite often you end up with milk, dribble, spit up or sick all over the place. I have used a pillow previously which did not have a removable cover and trying to get the entire thing in the washing machine without damaging the shape was pretty impossible. It's also worth noting that the cover is made from a fabric which seems to be so tightly woven it has slight liquid repelling properties meaning that if you get to the mess quickly nothing will get through to the cushion below. The cushion also comes in a plastic case so you can pop it away in there when it is not needed and store it without worrying it will get dirty, keeping it nice and clean for baby.

As your child gets older this pillow doubles as a great support to put around baby to stop him falling over when learning to sit, they can also use it to help with tummy time to provide support. It can also be used during late pregnancy to help support bumps and once your little one is bigger it can be used as a back support or just a pillow for mum or dad.

Compared to other pillows on the market this is well priced, it may seem expensive for a simple pillow but it really is well worth it - especially if you are planning on breast feeding. Anything that makes this process easier is pretty essential. I really like this nursing pillow, it would make a great investment by any parents or a wonderful gift for anyone expecting.

Battat Airplane Take-Apart
Battat Airplane Take-Apart
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Simple, well made, bright, chunky construction toy for small people, 28 July 2015
This review is from: Battat Airplane Take-Apart (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a great little toy for small people who want to take things apart and put them back together, if they also love planes then you are onto a real winner. The plane does arrive semi assembled so if you want to give it to your child so they start from scratch you may want to dismantle it first and put all the pieces back into the box before wrapping.

The parts of the plane are brightly coloured and chunky so they can be held easily. They slot together well, though it can take a few attempts to get things in the right order as there are small details meaning bits can only be attached in one way which can confuse younger children - though an adult can make sure this is not a problem. There are a decent number of parts to the plane meaning it has a decent level of complexity for children and they are not likely to find it boring.

The drill is great, it needs batteries which are not supplied so make sure you have some to hand, but really means your child feels like they have a proper tool to use. It also comes in extremely handy when you are doing DIY around the house and someone wants to "help". As the drill actually works they can work on things after you have done your bit to finish it off.

For very small children you can give them the plane fully assembled and they have a great sturdy toy to play with and then you can introduce the drill and construction elements at a later date. This means that the toy has more longevity than many and should not get abandoned in the toy box too quickly!

All in all a really fantastic toy for boys and girls (and many mums, dads, grannies and granddads). It's not the cheapest out there but overall I don't believe it is excessive cost wise and the fun is definitely worth it.

Jawbone UP2 Sleep and Activity Tracker - Black Diamond
Jawbone UP2 Sleep and Activity Tracker - Black Diamond
Price: £69.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good First Impressions, 20 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is my first experience of an Activity Tracker and I must confess that my initial scepticism has largely been quashed by this rather nifty piece of kit.

I'm a bit of a chunky chap at the moment, about two stone over weight, and have decided that this summer is the time for the wobbly bits to be tackled, as such I was pleased to be given the opportunity to try this item but did think it would struggle to live up to all its promises.

Firstly, the product is packaged very simply. No paper instructions at all. It's a very lightweight item and is every bit as minimal as it looks in its picture. This appeals to me as wearing a garish bracelet would be off putting personally. I had no qualms about slipping this on and, aside from the very occasional comments; it has mostly gone unnoticed by my colleagues and friends. The clasp is the only obvious physical design concern. It does not feel quite as robust and solid as it could be and it does not overly surprise me to read reviews that mention it breaking. That said, mine is still in one piece so I guess you just need to be a bit careful with it.

The product runs off its app, which I found extremely simple to download and to pair with the tracker. The Jawbone App is very good, easy to use and personalise and keep as simple/complex as you wish. The calorie counter is probably the best one I’ve used, though as with all the others I have seen it depressingly maintains that Bacon is not the dieter’s friend! As someone who walks pretty much everywhere, I’ve found it to be a decent enough step counter too.

I'm not a huge fan of the sleep tracker aspect but as a parent to a teething 9 month old and a boisterous at dawn 3 year old, anything that tells me I need more sleep is always going to irritate! I do feel that I will find this more useful going forward though but it’s a bit of a nag just now.

Battery life has been exceptional. A full week on one charge, no problem. Can't grumble about that.

Overall, I think this is a really decent item which I believe will assist me in becoming a bit less of a man than I am right now!

Braun Silk Epil 5-541 Wet and Dry Cordless Epilator with Shaver Head
Braun Silk Epil 5-541 Wet and Dry Cordless Epilator with Shaver Head
Price: £53.33

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to use and effective, 7 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have used many epilators over the years and one thing I have learned is that there is no way to make them painless, however the good ones make hair removal quicker, more effective and are simple to operate and the Braun Silk Epil 5-541 offers all of the above.

This epilator feels balanced to hold, it has a nice weight and is easy to grip. As advertised it can be used in both wet and dry conditions which is great as it can be much easier to use one when your skin is wet and I have found it leaves less redness on my skin. You charge the epilator using a lead which connects to a two pin shaver socket and I have found I can get roughly 25 minutes from one charge which is certainly enough for the areas I wish to use it on.

It is best to use this epilator on hairs that are about 5 mm in length but you can use this on much shorter hairs right down to 0.5mm. At this sort of length however it is likely to be less effective and take more time to clear an area than it would if the hairs were longer.

There are 4 different heads that come with this device and can be used with it. The first of these is the standard tweezer head, the second is meant to massage the skin (something which sounds great but I have never found to be of much use), the third is a skin contact cap and finally there is a shaver head which allows you use the device as a standard shaver as well as epilator. You are also supplied with a small cleaning brush which helps to remove hairs from inside the device heads.

The instructions you are provided with for use are fairly basic and designed to cover more than just this one model which could be a little confusing. If you are using an epilator for the first time then you might want to make sure you make sure you go through them thoroughly.

Overall this is a great little epilator, one of the best I have ever used. It is simple and effective, easy to use and does what I want it to. Compared to other models on the market it is competitively priced and would be great for anyone to use.

A Companion to Michael Haneke (Wiley Blackwell Companions to Film Directors)
A Companion to Michael Haneke (Wiley Blackwell Companions to Film Directors)
by Roy Grundmann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, cerebral and huge, 24 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Michael Haneke is a Seventy plus year old Austrian director who, over the twenty odd films he has made, has challenged audiences sympathies and sensibilities like few other film makers in the current era. With no sign of slowing down with age, his output has been more prolific this millennium and, arguably, more controversial and divisive.

This enormous and exhaustive critical tome covers his career up to 2009’s ‘The White Ribbon’ which won him his first Palme d’or at the Cannes film festival. Sadly, the book does not go on to cover his 2012 film ‘Amour’ – his second Cannes triumph and his finest achievement in my opinion – but it does cover his exceptional run of the late 90’s and 00’s with such films as the terrifying ‘Funny Games (1997)’ and it’s odd but effective American remake (2007) as well as the fantastic ‘The Piano Teacher’ (2001) and ‘Hidden (also known by its original title Cache)’ (2005). Certainly it’s a collection of films worthy of in depth analysis and critique.

I haven’t read this whole book from cover to cover yet. It is over 600 pages in length after all and, whilst very much a fan of his work, I can’t bring myself to do this in one sitting! Thus far I have read a few of the critical essays contained within and Haneke’s own essays and the interviews he has given. Probably about 40% of the content and with my obvious bias towards the ones that tackle the films I am most familiar with. I will certainly dip back in and read the rest over time however as he is a worthy subject of such a meticulous exploration.

The essays I have read thus far have tackled a varied range of topics from the broadly cinematic and thematic to the more specific allegories and sub-textual implications his films contain. Violence, Sex and European values against Hollywood values all feature fairly heavily as you may expect! The Essays vary in style and tone and, naturally enough, some have been more enjoyable personally that others but it’s fair to say that I’ve not read anything poor or sub-standard within this book yet and don’t expect to if the same degree of care and thought has been put in throughout. A well earned doff of my cap to the editor Roy Grundmann in respect of this.

Clearly this is not a book for a casual fan. In fact, whilst I enjoy Haneke’s work and own several of his films, this is possibly a heavier read than I would normally have tackled. That said, I am pleased to have been given the opportunity to read it and have found it very interesting. Film academics, I have no doubt, will lap this up.

If you are reading this you probably know all about Haneke’s films already. If not, please seek out ‘The White Ribbon’, ‘Amour’ and ‘Funny Games’ immediately. They are wonderful and provocative pieces of cinema and are worthy of your time, investment and interest.

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