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Marand (Warwickshire)
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Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Model Auto Lead Rotation Mechanical Pencil - Gun Metallic Body - 0.5 mm
Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Model Auto Lead Rotation Mechanical Pencil - Gun Metallic Body - 0.5 mm
Offered by Port Trading
Price: 8.86

5.0 out of 5 stars Just brilliant, 22 July 2014
This pencil was recommended to me by a colleague on a design course. Up until now I have been using a Rotring technical pencil but I didn't really like it primarily because the lead breaks with annoying regularity. This Kuru Toga pencil does away with that problem - its rotating lead is always ready & sharp. It is very nice to hold with a decent grip for your fingers, and is better made than the Rotring too. It is only after the end of a lengthy session of drafting that I realised I hadn't even thought about the pencil which is as it should be - quite a change from the experience with the Rotring.


Chrome Finish Solid Brass Luxury Traditional Wall Mounted Bathroom Toilet Roll Paper Holder
Chrome Finish Solid Brass Luxury Traditional Wall Mounted Bathroom Toilet Roll Paper Holder
Offered by Trueshopping Ltd
Price: 11.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good value, 22 July 2014
We were looking for something in a traditional style for our cloakroom. We also wanted to avoid the type of holder that is held to the backplate by a single tiny screw as invariably these screws weaken and the roll holder won't stay in place. This one satisfied both requirements. It is a very good quality piece particularly bearing in mind the price. The screw holes are hidden by the toilet roll so do not detract from the design.

I was a little disconcerted at the packaging - a fairly flimsy plastic 'envelope' wrapped round an even flimsier box so that the contents clanked and I feared they would be damaged/scratched. Thankfully my fears were unfounded.


Maxsima - Snap On Lens Cap 58mm for Canon EOS EF-S 18-55mm, EF 50mm f1.4, EF-S 70-300mm, EF-28mm Lenses & others - 400D 450D 500D 550D 600D 650D 1100D 1000D etc.. as E58U..
Maxsima - Snap On Lens Cap 58mm for Canon EOS EF-S 18-55mm, EF 50mm f1.4, EF-S 70-300mm, EF-28mm Lenses & others - 400D 450D 500D 550D 600D 650D 1100D 1000D etc.. as E58U..
Offered by Cameramarket UK
Price: 2.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly acceptable, 14 July 2014
This cheap lens cap actually fits better than the Canon original which was so loose and came off so frequently that it was inevitable I would eventually lose it. I am minded to get another one of these as a spare.


Pasta: The Essential New Collection from the Master of Italian Cookery
Pasta: The Essential New Collection from the Master of Italian Cookery
by Antonio Carluccio
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Can't do better than this one when it comes to pasta, 14 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Despite the fact that I have a considerable number of Italian cookery books, some at least covering the same area, I still love this book. If you don't have a pasta cookery book, then you couldn't do better than this one.

The first part of the book is devoted to the basics, including ample photos showing how to prepare fresh pasta and shape it into various forms. Then follow the recipes. There are dishes which are familiar and feature in many Italian and pasta cook books, e.g. spaghetti aglio, olio & peperoncino, spaghetti alla carbonara (here cooked in the traditional way which does not include cream!), tripoline all'Amatriciana. However, there is still plenty that is new. Even where the recipe looks familiar, Carluccio often rings the changes by introducing regional variations. For example, there is a recipe for past e fagioli but the recipe offered here is a southern Italian version rather than the usual Tuscan standard. Similarly, the recipe for penne all'arrabiata is an authentically Calabrian style using nduja.

It is nice to see a good collection of pasta soups including tortellini in brodo & stracciatella (a lovely pasta & egg soup). An unusual feature is the pasta-based desserts including such things as ravioli stuffed with jam or crespelle (pancakes) stuffed with ricotta cheese and served with a chocolate sauce.

I have tried a few recipes. The maccheroncini con fridedda (asparagus, peas & broad beans) are lovely - simple, relying on the freshness of the vegetables - and in similar vein, pennoni giardiniera with courgette sauce and spinach balls. The green ravioli stuffed with burrata cheese are also excellent as is the pasta with celeriac sauce. It was delightful to see a recipe for a dish that I remember from eating at Carluccio's now defunct Neal Street restaurant - ravioli con surpresa - large ravioli stuffed with a mixture of cheese topped with an egg yolk. Quite a number of the recipes involve meat, fish or seafood although many are easily adapted for vegetarians.

It would be fair to say that some ingredients will be hard to find and having an Italian speciality food shop nearby would come in handy. Just off the top of my head I can recall recipes requiring squid ink, two different types of bottarga, good quality truffles & porcini, the occasional specialist cheese although generally Carluccio offers an easier to find alternative when it comes to the cheeses.


The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit
The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit
by Tom Hunt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.60

4.0 out of 5 stars Economical seasonal cooking, 14 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a really lovely book. I have literally hundreds of cookery books and too often these days I find many new offerings as too samey, going over ground done better in earlier books.

The book is arranged seasonally, the author being a strong advocate of the cook seasonal, cook local approach. Within each of these seasonal sections, the author picks out a few individual ingredients and then suggests a preparation method and ways to use it to make other dishes. In addition there are ideas for using leftovers. I really like the clear guidance on how long recipes can be safely stored in the fridge so that food waste is reduced. It's all very straightforward, and perhaps, obvious but useful in planning menus for a few days ahead whilst minimising preparation time and waste.

Whilst the book is not exclusively vegetarian, there are plenty of vegetarian recipes and others which either use meat/fish as an option, or where it would be possible to omit the meat/fish or substitute it with a vegetarian alternative. Although it is mainly veg cookery there are some ideas for fruit as well.

To give a flavour of the recipes, there is watercress pesto (I never seem to finish a bag of watercress so this is a great way of using up the leftovers) which can then be used to make a lovely puy lentil salad with sun-dried tomatoes. Another really nice idea is to cook older radishes in butter & herbs, either to eat as a side dish or to be used to make a soup. There is a great homity pie, leek & potato pizza, some more unusual things to do with broad beans, courgettes, aubergines and celeriac. On the fruit side, although not exactly healthy options, there's a marmalade polenta cake or apple & chocolate charlottes - based on a dish of stewed apples with cinnamon and chocolate - or a tarte tatin with caramelised apple and a simple to make toffee apple peel.


BT Universal Dual-Band N600 Wi-Fi Upgrade Kit
BT Universal Dual-Band N600 Wi-Fi Upgrade Kit
Offered by The Tech Lodge
Price: 40.10

2.0 out of 5 stars Simple to set up - if only it worked!, 14 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am sorry to say that this was a complete waste of time for me. We live in a village which has slow broadband, and to compound matters our house is a long barn conversion with stone walls which means that the strength of the wi-fi signal varies around the building. We have used wi-fi extenders to counteract this and have managed to get pretty even coverage that way.

I had hoped that upgrading to dual band would improve our speeds but for me connecting via 5GHz, somewhat bizarrely, was worse. The 5GHz connection consistently showed a 2 bar connection when the connection to the router would show 5 bars, and it also frequently dropped the connection to the internet altogether. Needless to say I ditched the "upgrade". I am not sure whether the problem is that the 5GHz network is more sensitive to thick walls than the 'junior' network (although conceptually I can't think why this should be so) or that the signal from the dual band unit to the dongle is weak, but either way there was a poorer connection. I will say that set up was very quick and easy.


Cotswold Gardens
Cotswold Gardens
by David Hicks
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Cotswolds Gardens, 1 July 2014
This review is from: Cotswold Gardens (Paperback)
This is a lovely book with fantastic photos of some of the loveliest gardens in England. Some are very well known - Hidcote, Kiftsgate, Buscot Park, Sezincote, Bourton House, Blenheim, Barnsley House, Rousham, Abbotswood & Badminton to name but a few - whilst others are private gardens, rarely, if ever, open to the public. The book was first published in 1995 and therefore over the years some gardens have changed, some have new owners or are no longer open to the public. Nonetheless this is a lovely book for the gardener and will prove useful for visitors to the area as a taster to help them plan a tour.


Honeywell ST9400C Programmer
Honeywell ST9400C Programmer
Offered by Plumbing Supermarket
Price: 59.61

4.0 out of 5 stars Simple to programme, 1 July 2014
We had one of these installed to replace an ancient Potterton controller in our new house which had clunky controls, limited settings and no battery backup (owing to a type of battery that is no longer produced) to preserve settings in the event of a power outages - we have lots of in our village. The old controller took ages to programme and when you have done this five or six times in one day it gets a little irritating. This new controller is quick to programme and, of course, the battery back up facility is a godsend when barely a day goes by without another power outage. Stupidly, I let our heating engineer buy the unit from his trade supplier as, he said, we would get a better price because of his trade discount. Needless to say, his 'trade' price from the wholesaler was fully 50% more than the Amazon price before his mark up for the time he spent collecting it.

We have only had the unit in place for a couple of months so I cannot comment on its longevity. We had a similar, possibly identical, unit in our last home which was still going strong five years down the line. I've read online that there was a bad batch of the ST9400C units but that the problem was corrected so I'm hoping we won't have any problems. I made sure the unit was thoroughly tested before the engineer left and all seemed to be in order.


Eat Istanbul: A Journey to the Heart of Turkish Cuisine
Eat Istanbul: A Journey to the Heart of Turkish Cuisine
by Andy Harris
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very impressed, 1 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have travelled to Turkey several times and always loved Turkish cuisine which for me is sunshine on a plate. With a few warm days offering up a vision of a Mediterranean summer, I tried out several of the recipes within a few days of receiving the book. First up were the chickpea wraps with onion, parsley & sumac salad. I didn't have any of the red pepper paste to hand but found an easy recipe online to make it, but the other ingredients were household staples. The cinnamon-scented onions & eggs were very nice too - although for lunch rather than breakfast as they are listed.

There are lots of lovely salads and vegetarians will find the book to be particularly useful - it isn't exclusively vegetarian but there is plenty for non-meat eaters. By way of example, there is cheese & spinach pide (a type of pizza using flat breads as a base); lovely little cigar boreks (a mixture of cheese, herbs & spices wrapped in filo pastry then fried or baked); chick pea fritters; borlotti salad; cucumber, pistachio & yogurt salad; bulgur & lentil salad; a simple but lovely dish of baked summer vegetables; chick pea stew; and a number of stuffed vegetables with both vegetarian and meat stuffings.

I have yet to try the Turkish ravioli but they look good. Meat eaters won't object to dishes like chicken & rice pie, aubergine & veal layered pilaff, stuffed lamb, or beef and chestnut stew. Unsurprisingly there is plenty of fish & seafood too with sardines, mackerel, swordfish, squid and some interesting fish kofte with a sauce based on walnuts. To round things off there are a few cakes & desserts including the ubiquitous baklava.

The book is laid out very clearly - the recipes on one page with photos of the dish or dishes on the facing page. The publishers are to be applauded for the fact that the background on which the recipes are printed is clear and clean, with no silly fonts or fonts which are difficult to read against the rest of the page.

All in all a very impressive offering which will be much used in the summer months.


The Cabana Cookbook
The Cabana Cookbook
by David Ponté
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Strangely uninspiring, 1 July 2014
This review is from: The Cabana Cookbook (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Maybe its just me and I am getting jaded (I have 400+ cookery books), but, much as I love to experiment with new styles of cooking, this book left me cold. I did not realise when I ordered it, that it has been written by the founders of an eponymous restaurant chain which has several branches around London.

The authors claim to wish to bring real Brazilian barbecue food although in the recipes the phrase "inspired by" appears fairly frequently, and even the authors admit some of the dishes do not exist in Brazil so I have my doubts about its authenticity. It isn't much different to general barbecue cook books which I have apart from a few Brazilian standards. It isn't all barbecue stuff, though. There are a few breakfasts including corn cakes with bacon & doce de leite ("inspired by the classic American combination of pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, our Brasilian version....". This is much of a muchness with the sweet potato hash with feta & poached eggs - something unheard of in Brazil (or Brasil as they prefer to use, presumably to invoke a sense of authenticity).

Then there is the "Anglo-Brasilian dish (which) combines Brasil's favourite cut of meat with Britain's favourite barbecue dish" - the recipe calls for "500g picanha, hand minced or ask the butcher to mince it for you". I am not sure I could cope with the withering stare my excellent local butcher would give me if I actually asked for picanha, minced or otherwise! Elsewhere it becomes clear that picanha is beef rump (or rather "cap of rump") - why then is this not stated clearly in the ingredients list? Why use a term which is meaningless in this country?

The best section is the one on street food and snacks - although be prepared for a lot of deep-frying. After that it is mainly marinaded grilled meats of one kind or another, a few side dishes & salads and then some tooth-achingly sweet desserts. Apart from the deep-frying, the liberal use of coconut milk and condensed milk suggest this isn't the cook book for anyone on a diet! We trialled a few dishes but weren't impressed by any of them so its unlikely we will try any more. One was a salad using watercress, mango & avocado, dressed as instructed with the standard 'simple salad dressing' from the book. I followed the recipe for the dressing to the letter and ended up with something that completely obliterated the taste of the salad ingredients - a complete waste of half a litre of olive oil.

I can see that other reviewers disagree but I absolutely loathed the little interruptions to the cookery with titbits of usually insignificant information - I mean who cares if there were several electoral candidates who had co-opted Barack Obama's name. This is supposed to be a cookbook not a travelogue! For the same reason the potted instructions on how to salsa together with a play list had me at the point of lobbing the book at the wall. On the positive side the recipes are at least set out in a readable font - occasionally against a coloured rather than white background, but still easily read. The book would have benefited from a wipe clean cover - it has a cardboard-feel cover than easily absorbs drops of oil, sauce, etc..

I have dithered over whether to award 2 or 3 stars and finally come down on the 2 star side - there just isn't enough in this book for me to be inspired to pull it off my admittedly groaning kitchen bookshelves. At about the same time as I got this I also got a Turkish cookbook - and that one is already being well-used.


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