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Beansmummy (Oxfordshire, UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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Vax Air Base U91-MA-Be Upright Vacuum
Vax Air Base U91-MA-Be Upright Vacuum
Price: £129.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Efficient, but uncomfortable to use., 24 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
After a month of trialling this vacuum cleaner we have been quite pleased with it. It is certainly lighter than our roller-ball Dyson, and it makes a useful second vacuum in a biggish house. It is very efficient at sucking up huge volumes of dust/ fluff; we first tried it on a carpet which we had just cleaned with the Dyson and it collected an almost full cylinder more. This prompted me to wash the Dysons filters (we hadn't noticed the drop in performance) - and after this the Dyson only marginally outperformed the Vax. it is smaller than other cleaners, and I suppose therefore slightly easier to store.

In terms of negatives, the worst for me was the handle. It is spectacularly uncomfortable to use and (I realise how pathetic this sounds) it hurts my hand! The wand doubles as the handle and this tends to repeatedly extend while using the cleaner in upright mode, which is a nuisance. I am used to the superb handling of the Dyson round corners etc with the roller-ball. This is a more conventional style and slightly more awkward, though compares well with other non-roller-ball models we have had. The suction when pulling the vacuum cleaner backwards is considerable, and makes it quite hard to use; you rather strain your arm/ shoulder when using it on carpet in this way although it is very little effort to push forwards (I know I am coming across as a weakling here; I'm really not!). Finally, the position of the hose, and the way it is attached to the unit, makes it rather awkward to use the hose and tools; they stretch a very short distance from the machine, and it is not possible to safely clean stairs, or anything above about waist height; this is a really significant limitation.

So for us, it is a useful second vacuum, but I would not buy it as my only one; it is too uncomfortable to use, and too awkward to use the hose effectively.


Fisher-Price Smart Stages Chair Yellow
Fisher-Price Smart Stages Chair Yellow
Price: £26.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Great even below the recommended age range, 21 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My 8 month old daughter is well under the recommended age range for this chair but nonethleless adores it. She cannot yet even crawl, but sits on the floor next to it playing with the seat lid and putting her other toys in and out. She enjoys the book on one armrest and the buttons on the other. She cannot yet get herself into the seat, but likes to be placed in it as she can better reach the book, and then slowly slides forwards until she drops onto the floor with a bump (which she finds very entertaining). I think when she is crawling and walking this will be even better as she will be able to take full advantage of all it has to offer.

Older visiting toddlers beeline for this, and as with other FP toys, it has different play levels for different ages, and seems to sustain their interest for extended periods. It is pleasingly sturdy and promises to be a long-lived toy. As such it provides superb value for money. We are delighted with it.


Philips HF3420/03 Intense Blue Energy Up Energy Light
Philips HF3420/03 Intense Blue Energy Up Energy Light
Price: £149.79

4.0 out of 5 stars So far, so good..., 17 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was slightly sceptical about this but my husband has agreed to be the guinea pig. he is convinced he feels low during winter months so was keen to give this a go. A month on (he has it on his desk at work) he does feel there has been some improvement in his mood and general sense of wellbeing from making this change alone. But it is difficult to evaluate the impact over such a short period, so we will update this review after a suitably longer time has passed. He is using it daily (not weekends). He is pleased that it is a background object that he does not need to devote special time to each day in order to gain benefits, and it is small and compact so ideal for taking around with you day to day.

So far, so good, but updates to follow...


Braun NTF3000 No Touch Plus Forehead Digital Thermometer
Braun NTF3000 No Touch Plus Forehead Digital Thermometer
Price: £42.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This GP will be recommending this to parents, 1 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Absolutely all responsible parents should have a working, reliable thermometer as an essential piece of kit when you have children. Yet many do not. Often this is because they cannot afford a good one (not surprising at this price), and struggle to use the more traditional/ old-fashioned oral or rectal versions on a wriggly child. I have generally recommended the aural (tympanic "in-ear") sort, but many parents are still afraid of hurting an uncooperative infant, so avoid these. Forehead strip versions are notoriously inaccurate, and so many parents still try to gauge temperature with the hand-on-forehead method ("he's burning up, doctor!").

To test this thermometer, I have been using it at home, almost daily, on all family members (adults, plus 3 children aged 11, 6, and 7 months) during recent fevers and when well, and comparing it with the aural type I keep in my medical home-visiting bag. So far it has proved very accurate; a difference of never more than 0.1C between the two (although I appreciate I have only actually used it on five people so far so this doesn't add any particular weight to Braun's own data!).

I think this makes a very acceptable home alternative to an aural thermometer, therefore, and highly recommend it as an extremely easy-to-use version for even the wriggliest, most uncooperative child, and the least confident parent. It is ready to use immediately, and is practically fool-proof. The barrier, of course, remains the price.


The Princess and the Foal
The Princess and the Foal
by Stacy Gregg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A girlhood classic?, 31 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have very much enjoyed this children's novel and look forward to reading it to my 6 year old daughter. She is not even remotely into horses, but this is not the typical girly horsey book, and will certainly appeal to her. It is beautifully presented, as detailed by other reviewers, and as such makes a lovely gift book. From an adult perspective it is very welcome to read a book based on real life events, rather than the ubiquitous magical fiction usually mass-produced, badly, for little girls.

For something a bit unusual, and absolutely not the usual clichéd pre-teen horsey stuff, give this a try for your 6+ daughter.


Kingsway Mushrooms 3 Kg
Kingsway Mushrooms 3 Kg
Price: £13.15

3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the originals, 31 Oct 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Kingsway Mushrooms 3 Kg (Grocery)
Bought for my husband who loved foam mushrooms as a child. Unfortunately, they were not the sweets he had hoped for. The originals were a lighter foam, consistent all the way through; these are quite a dense foam with a jelly-like strawberry centre and are sickly-sweet; nothing at all like those childhood favourites. He still quite likes them, despite his initial disappointment, and they have been a great hit with our children (perfect incentive to get them to revise/ practice maths etc in return for payment in mushrooms).

3 kg is a LOT of sweets; the combined efforts of one adult and 2 children have barely made a dent in them after nearly a month! Good value for money, but don't expect a replica of the sweets you remember from the seventies; these are not the same.


The Third Wife
The Third Wife
by Lisa Jewell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book, despite the irritating main character, 31 Oct 2014
This review is from: The Third Wife (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A love-addicted father of five has married yet again, leaving two broken families behind him. When his third wife is killed in an apparent accident, his life unravels; he has never been partnerless, or had a relationship end except entirely on his own terms. Forced by his curiosity about a strange woman who seems to be stalking him, he starts trying to make sense of his life, and his wife's death, and gradually confronts his past, beginning to realise the effects his actions have had on all those around him.

An intriguing premise, admirably tackled by a gifted author, who made me want to read on despite my antipathy towards the irritatingly hopeless and utterly selfish man at the centre of the story, whom I wanted to slap. All becomes clear, and loose ends are satisfyingly tied up at the end, although I had rather hoped for worse things to befall him in just retribution for being such a self-centred idiot. His ex-wives are more likeable, and one feels for the third (who contributes to the story by the narrative jumping between past and present) as she really had no idea what she was letting herself in for.


Sylvie and Star
Sylvie and Star
by Julia Green
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Makes a change from princesses and fairies for girls aged 6+, 31 Oct 2014
This review is from: Sylvie and Star (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Simple and sweet story about a 10 year old girl living unhappily in a city, desperately wanting a dog, but knowing she cannot have one in their small flat. She spends idyllic holidays with her grandparents in Italy, and with their dog, and thinks life will be perfect when the dog becomes pregnant; surely she can have one of the puppies? But things are much more complicated than they first appear, and she begins to realise that in real life, your dreams should not necessarily always come true. The ending is happy, but not sugary; realistic rather than fairytale.

I enjoyed the story, and my six-year-old daughter is now reading (and enjoying) it, although I suspect she would prefer a different ending. It makes a welcome change from stories about fairies, princesses and mermaids. Reminiscent of Morpurgo, it is a nice book for a young girl, without being too heavy or demanding a read.


GoldieBlox and the Parade Float
GoldieBlox and the Parade Float
Price: £17.57

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing sequel, 17 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I agree with much of what other reviewers have said about this. It comes in a poor second to the first GoldiBlox set which we rather enjoyed. My six year old daughter found the story babyish ("I think I'm a bit grown up for this, Mummy"), but did quite like it, but she was unable to fit the pieces together at all and needed my help (and I struggled a bit). It remains a good concept, but very poorly executed this time around, and nothing like as good as Lego in terms of imagination, flexibility, and age range suitability. My daughter does like the cutesy characters, though.

In conclusion, this is a worthwhile activity for a smallish child (4-5?) WITH parental involvement throughout. I have given it 3 stars because I approve of the idea, but I am unimpressed by the toy itself this time.


GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine
GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine
Price: £20.65

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, unusual toy, 16 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My six year old daughter has been rather taken with this and had no difficulty reading the book and following the story and instructions. It is rather expensive for one afternoon's entertainment (I doubt she will do the whole thing again) but is certainly a first for her. She is quite girly; likes pink, princessy stuff, but also enjoys imaginative Lego construction (generic Lego, rather than the very prescribed and limited sets, although she likes these too), so I thought this would be right up her street, and it was.

From a parent's perspective it is a little depressing that girls want their engineering toys to be pink and girly too. But if it gets them thinking in new ways then it can't be bad.

All in all a fantastic gift for any little girl who has everything else; probably suitable to age 7 as a max (I think the 8-9 year olds we know would be underwhelmed).


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