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Marand
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Philips GC3811/80 Azur Performer Steam Iron with 160 g Steam Boost and Steam Glide Plus Soleplate, 2400 Watt, Multi-Colour
Philips GC3811/80 Azur Performer Steam Iron with 160 g Steam Boost and Steam Glide Plus Soleplate, 2400 Watt, Multi-Colour
Price: £44.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as my current Philips iron, 30 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There are good things and bad things about this iron. On the positive side, the temperature controls and calibration are very good – the markings for e.g. linen, cotton etc actually seem to reflect different temperatures whereas on many irons I end up using the two highest levels for everything. It also heats up very quickly. It has a large sole plate with plenty of steam holes and is well balanced on its heel and the cable swivel works well to keep the cable out of the way.

Unfortunately there are too many bad or underwhelming features for me. As many reviewers have commented, the power cable is short – ridiculously so. I have my ironing board situated within 12 inches of a skirting board level socket and the cable is at full stretch as the end of the board. I also found the iron to be heavy even before filling the largish tank. My current iron is a Philips Azur which is probably two years old and it is definitely lighter and the ironing plate is slightly smaller too. With this new model my arm was aching after just three shirts. The iron felt slightly cumbersome and unwieldy – it glides very well but something just didn't feel right or balanced. The spray function seems to deposit water too far ahead and I thought the steam function was under-powered compared to my old iron. In particular the 'shot of steam' seemed very weak. It is annoyingly noisy too when sitting on its heel when it constantly gurgles like a coffee machine. I can't comment on the anti-scale function as I haven't had the iron long enough to assess.

It says something that I finished the ironing session with my old Philips iron and not the new one.


Mushy Mushy Baby Food Storage Containers with Clip-on Lid, 9 Easy To Remove Pots Ideal For Weaning, FREE Recipe eBook, BPA Free and Long Lasting Silicone Freezer Tray, Lifetime Guarantee
Mushy Mushy Baby Food Storage Containers with Clip-on Lid, 9 Easy To Remove Pots Ideal For Weaning, FREE Recipe eBook, BPA Free and Long Lasting Silicone Freezer Tray, Lifetime Guarantee
Offered by Mushy Mushy
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for baby food!, 30 Mar. 2015
I don't have a baby but regardless of its label, this product has a myriad of uses in the kitchen aside from its use for preparing and storing baby food – freezing portions of stock, pesto, sauces, etc, making ice lollies, setting individual jellies. The containers are a decent size and it is easy to turn out frozen food. I used the tray for creating some ice-cream 'domes' – the shape was perfect and the little indentation was great for pooling some sauce over the top. I haven't yet tried baking in the pots – this shouldn't be a problem as the pots are oven-safe to 240°C and the size is ideal for sponge/cake to be split and filled for desserts and also for small muffins . The pots are also microwave and dishwasher safe.

There is a knack to get the lids to stay on – there is a little tab that you need to pull up and over – but once closed the individual pots are sealed even if, for example, they are sitting in the fridge/freezer at an angle. The tray will sit flat and could easily be stacked, alternatively you can just empty the frozen portions into bags and have the tray ready for the next batch. The silicon seems to be a of high quality – thick enough but still flexible to get food out easily. There's a lifetime guarantee so I guess the manufacturer is confident in the longevity of the product.

In a nice touch there are a few recipe suggestions on the packaging, together with tips on using the pots, and you can email for a free e-book of baby recipes too. I was provided with a free sample by Mushy Mushy but I have reviewed his in exactly the same way as I would review something I had purchased myself. I have no hesitation in recommending the pots whether you are making baby food or just want to use them for other purposes in the kitchen. Clearly if you are using them for baby food the bacteria resistant quality and the absence of allergens and toxins will be a boon.


Rhinowares Hand Coffee Grinder
Rhinowares Hand Coffee Grinder
Price: £33.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Simple to use, easy to clean, 30 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Simple to use, albeit you have to put a bit of effort in for a pot of coffee, easy to clean. You fill the top container with beans, attach the handle, turn it until you stop feeling any resistance and then remove the ground coffee from the bottom container. Alternatively you can grind direct into a cafetiere (including the smallest of the Bodum & Le Cafetiere ranges). You can adjust the fineness of the grind. Rather oddly there are no instructions in the box but you can find these on the Rhinowares site. It will be easy to take on holiday too as it is small and has a neat little bag to keep everything together.


58mm Essential Lens Filter Set for Canon 70D 60D 700D 650D 1100D 1000D 600D 50D 550D 1DX 5D Mark 5D2 5D3 6D 7D 70D 60D 700D 650D 1100D 1000D 600D 50D 550D 500D 40D 30D 350D 400D 450D 30D 10D LF132
58mm Essential Lens Filter Set for Canon 70D 60D 700D 650D 1100D 1000D 600D 50D 550D 1DX 5D Mark 5D2 5D3 6D 7D 70D 60D 700D 650D 1100D 1000D 600D 50D 550D 500D 40D 30D 350D 400D 450D 30D 10D LF132
Offered by XCSOURCE
Price: £48.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good value for what you get, 30 Mar. 2015
You can't really fault this kit in terms of what you get. Of course you aren't going to get top quality optics at this price point but as a starter kit for someone wanting to explore photography it provides plenty to try.

The macro/wide angle and tele lenses aren't brilliant but they do allow an affordable way of experimenting: if you enjoy and/or find these lenses useful then you can go one to higher quality lenses. The macro isn't bad, but the wide angle lens does suffer from vignetting at longer lengths although you can compensate for this, and the tele lens isn't high quality (you can't expect it at this price). Whilst the lenses have their limitations they do allow you to play around and see the impact on images so you are learning as you go.

There is a wide range of filters included too. I am old school inasmuch as I learned photography with a film SLR and switched to DSLR comparatively late in the day so I have used filters in certain situations/for certain purposes for years. Some filters, like the ND filters are in one sense obsolete because you can achieve the same effect by adjusting the white balance on a modern digital camera and without losing light, but still it is useful to see the impact these filters can have. The NDs in the kit aren't particularly good (plastic not glass) but will still give beginners some insight. The graduated filters are a bit of fun although they have their practical uses too– I have used these in the past with a film SLR but never did I have so many colours and I certainly wouldn't buy expensive filters in all the colours included in this kit. The grey one is probably the most useful and the absence of a blue grad seems a little odd to me. The close-up filters, which can be stacked, are a great way to try out photographing flowers & insects and produce some perfectly acceptable results.

The adapter rings, which allow you to use filters on lens of a different thread size, are metal but the sizes in the kit are not as stated (I think the description is wrong as all the adapters are to 58mm – from 46mm, 49mm, 52mm & 55mm). They are decent quality at a fraction of the price in a camera shop. The kit includes a nice pinch-centre lens cap – it is always useful to have a spare. The lens hood is also a good addition to a basic camera kit. The filter holders aren't very good – every time I unwrap one of the two filter rolls some of the filters fall out. The individual pouches inside are too loose at the top to hold the filters in and the problem is exacerbated by the slippery nylon lining. The two lens bags lack any form of padding.

This is a great kit for beginners and for students, offering plenty of things to try. Some parts are better than others but it is good value.


Veggienomics: Thrifty Vegetarian Cooking at its Best
Veggienomics: Thrifty Vegetarian Cooking at its Best
by Nicola Graimes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Economic veggie cookery, 30 Mar. 2015
This book's stated aim is "straightforward, simple dishes that don't compromise on good taste, are nutritious and, importantly, don't burn a hole in your pocket". Apart from using store cupboard items like pulses & pasta, the book includes recipes for making soft cheese, stock & preserves on the basis that it is cheaper to produce your own than to buy. The thrifty themes also encompasses foraging.

To give you an idea of the recipes here are a few of my favourites: Spanish-style white beans; Provencal soup; arancini eggs; Thai rice with spiced cashews; coconut curry; spiced baked eggs; potato & parsnip latkes; tandoori halloumi with a coconut & pineapple salad; yummy cheese & pepper strata which is a brilliant way to use up bread. There is a pretty good selection of tofu-based recipes too, particularly a Thai spiced version and pea & tofu fritters.

I have lots of cookery books, including many vegetarian books. Whilst there are some things in Veggienomics where I have umpteen recipes for the same dish, there are also original recipes. I picked up my copy at a bargain price in a remaindered bookshop – once I had leafed through it I was mentally preparing menus.


Foxnovo® F-04 4-Slots Li-ion LiFePO4 Ni-MH Ni-CD Universal Intelligent Battery Charger LED Indicators with UK-plug Adapter 12V Car Adapter for 26650, 22650, 18650, 18500, 18490, 17670, 17650, 17500, 16340, 14500, 10440, LiFePO4, Ni-MH and Ni-CD A, AA, AAA, C, SC Rechargeable Batteries (Black)
Foxnovo® F-04 4-Slots Li-ion LiFePO4 Ni-MH Ni-CD Universal Intelligent Battery Charger LED Indicators with UK-plug Adapter 12V Car Adapter for 26650, 22650, 18650, 18500, 18490, 17670, 17650, 17500, 16340, 14500, 10440, LiFePO4, Ni-MH and Ni-CD A, AA, AAA, C, SC Rechargeable Batteries (Black)
Offered by FoxnovoStore
Price: £39.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Not particularly cheap and not very cheerful, 23 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was offered this by the manufacturer for the purposes of evaluating the product. In one sense I can't review it because I haven't plugged the thing into the mains. There is, though, a reason for this.

This is four battery charger, originating from China, that feels rather lightweight and there are some concerns with construction. The plug is of very small size and feels like a rough plastic moulding and, although there is no formal requirement to earth such devices, the size clearly indicates that the plug is not fused – there simply isn't room. I could have tried the charger with another lead but I just didn't feel comfortable that the rest of the device would be safe to use. From other reviews I see I am not the only one with reservations about connecting the charger to the mains. I can't comment on using the car charger – this isn't something that is of interest to me. The spring clips that contact and hold the batteries feel somewhat shaky, and I have worries that one or more will break free (unfixable) with repeated use.

The unit will charge a variety of battery types (Li-ion, LiFe, Ni-MH, NI-MH) in a variety of sizes (A, AA, AAA, C, SC). It allegedly has a thermal cut-out -if the mangled English blurb on the box is to be accepted - but what is missing from the box (and only found on the very small print label on the back of the unit) is that if you are charging only two batteries, you have to put them in slots 1 and 3, or slots 2 and 4, otherwise the unit will not work.

Overall, I wasn't very impressed and was worried by the lack of a fuse, particularly in a device that will generally be left unattended.


Philips SatinPerfect Deluxe HP6581/03 Wet and Dry Epilator, with Skin Tautening Attachment, Shaver Head and Precision Epilator
Philips SatinPerfect Deluxe HP6581/03 Wet and Dry Epilator, with Skin Tautening Attachment, Shaver Head and Precision Epilator
Price: £100.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Results no better than shaving for me - and painful, 18 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have awarded this only two stars based on Amazon's definitions of the grading system i.e. 2 stars = I don't like it. This is very much a reflection of my experience of using the product which is otherwise a high quality item, very nicely presented. It's just that an epilator isn't for me because I find it too uncomfortable. I suspect that a person's view of these items depends heavily on their pain threshold, the thickness of the hair to be removed, their skin, etc..

I tried an epilator when they first arrived on the market, fifteen or maybe twenty years ago. The experience of using it was so uncomfortable that I used the epilator just once and, not wishing to inflict the same sort of pain on anyone else, the machine eventually ended up in the bin. I have viewed epilators ever since as instruments of torture! When this Philips epilator came up on the Vine programme I thought I'd see whether in the intervening years the pain/comfort aspect had improved and I thought that the ceramic discs might offer a better experience than the metal tweezers of old. The answer is yes to a degree, but, for me at least, not by enough to persuade me to use the epilator rather than my Philips Ladyshave.

You can't expect these devices to be completely pain-free, and maybe I am too sensitive and/or wimpish (I tried waxing once only and that was quite enough for me), but I don't have enough devotion to the cause to choose an epilator when a conventional shaver produces very similar results for me without the pain and in less time! I don't see any difference in terms of stubble between shaver and epilator – I'm not sure the epilator is particularly effective on fine hairs which the shaver catches. It is perhaps worth mentioning that the hair on my legs is confined almost entirely to my lower front leg and is pretty fine. My skin is also very dry (caused by medication I have to take) even after applying liberal doses of body lotion. This may well affect how the epilator works and the sensation of pain and irritation. I have very pale skin and after epilating my legs wore a rash of red blotches. This would put me off taking the epilator on holiday – I wouldn't want to walk around with bare legs after a session with this. I suspect that I would need to leave the hairs to get a bit longer but that rather defeats the object, particularly as they are dark!

As you can probably guess, I didn't try out the smaller, battery-operated epilator for sensitive areas (I'm wincing just thinking about it) nor did I attempt to epilate my under-arm area. The unit looks suitable for its intended purpose if you are up for it.

The shaver head is fine giving a decent smooth shave, so I'll be sticking to that.

The kit also includes a set of tweezers – I wasn't impressed by these at all, they just weren't particularly high quality and not precise enough notwithstanding the light, which incidentally made gripping the tweezers quite awkward.


Letraset ProMarker Ultra Fine Edition Set (5 colours + 5 Ultra-fine Nib Attachments) - Nature
Letraset ProMarker Ultra Fine Edition Set (5 colours + 5 Ultra-fine Nib Attachments) - Nature
Price: £8.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Very good for adding colour to plans, 18 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have been using these to add colour to garden design plans. The colour palette in this set is ideal for what I want, with brighter pens for e.g. grass, and more muted greens for trees & shrub foliage to which detail can be added with conventional ink drawing pens. The twin tips are a great feature which I can use to vary texture.


Lyra AQUA BRUSH DUO 12-Piece Set of Watercolour Brush Pens
Lyra AQUA BRUSH DUO 12-Piece Set of Watercolour Brush Pens
Price: £14.07

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine for adding colour to plans, 18 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have been using these to add colour to garden design plans. I'm no artist but have found these pens to be easy to use and I prefer the depth of colour compared to watercolour pencils. The pens are not dissimilar in effect to felt tip pens but the brush makes it easier to control and the effect is much nicer. I'm not sure I'd be happy with them for watercolour paintings but for my purposes they are fine.


Tefal FV9630 Ultimate Anti-Calc Steam Iron - 2600 W
Tefal FV9630 Ultimate Anti-Calc Steam Iron - 2600 W
Price: £59.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of excellent features but too heavy for me, 12 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There is much to like about this iron: the excellent anti-calc feature, the very stable heel stand, the auto-shut off, the good sharp point which is very handy for deep pleats and for dress-making, the easy-glide surface, the flex which doesn't get in the way. The iron works well on heavy fabrics, producing plenty of steam that makes the job easier and makes light work of heavyweight bedlinen. The water tank is easy to refill too which is just as well as you need to feed it frequently.

Unfortunately all these excellent features are outweighed (literally) by the weight of the iron – my arm was aching after a fairly short ironing session.


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