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Jeff Walmsley "JW" (Wales)
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Philips GU10 50 Watt MV Master LED Spot 6, 2700 K, Warm White
Philips GU10 50 Watt MV Master LED Spot 6, 2700 K, Warm White
Offered by Philips LED Specialist
Price: 12.40

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I'M NOT INTO LIGHT BULB FUTURES, 29 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A light bulb for 25 ? Let's do the arithmetic. (Which I'm none too good at, you should know...)

This replaces a 50w GU10 dimmable halogen, which you can buy on Amazon for 70p. Lets say that electricity costs you 15p per unit, and that your halogen bulb is on for 1,000 hrs a year. That's 50kw a year, or 7.50. So after two years, you would have spent less than 16 on this particular light source; and I would bet that probably before those two years are up, LEDs like this will have come down to a more realistic price, and become more efficient. I doubt if long-term investments in expensive bulbs is necessarily good thinking at this time. The arithmetic obviously varies with usage, however, and if your Halogen was on for 2000 hours a year, this LED is obviously a good buy even at 25 - although as others have pointed out, there are cheaper equivalents around.

It's a decent quality of light, and a beautifully made bulb, at least judging by appearances, but cheap GU10 LEDs I bought 2 years ago have already faded in intensity quite markedly, and although Philips guarantee 70% of lumens at end of life, we have no experience of how this bulb will fare in that respect, or, more importantly, how soon the 30% drop will occur. At present, I am inclined to stick with my halogens (which admittedly have relatively little use) until LED prices have reached rock bottom (or electricity prices hit the roof !).


Medusa's Gaze: The Extraordinary Journey of the Tazza Farnese (Emblems of Antiquity)
Medusa's Gaze: The Extraordinary Journey of the Tazza Farnese (Emblems of Antiquity)
by Marina Belozerskaya
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.72

5.0 out of 5 stars THE DIVERTING BIOGRAPHY OF A BOWL, 28 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There have been films about the adventures of motor cars and guns, as I recall, but none about the adventures of a bowl; well, here is a book about the adventures of a very special 22cm bowl, which could well be transcribed into a lavish and spectacular TV series running the gamut of modern history, starting with Ceasar and Cleopatra, passing through, inter alia, the Crusades, the Holy Roman Empire, corrupt and degenerate Popes, Tamburlaine the Great, Nelson and Lady Hamilton, and ending with a crazed Neapolitan Museum attendant who smashed it to bits, apparently with his umbrella... The very stuff of Saturday night.

This is just the kind of entertaining popular history I enjoy, the product of a vast amount of scholarly research (the bibliography alone runs to 20 pages), yet fluently written and easy to read, with modest and plausible supposition to fill the gaps in the evidence, and above all not just one, but lots of great stories, supplemented with fascinating historical detail.

Against the book's background, the nature of the little bowl itself seems hardly relevant and, as the authoress says, "Most people have never heard of it"; but it's a far from trivial item - being the equal of any decorative artifice ever made, and all the more remarkable for being 2,000 years old. And you can still go and see it - it was put back together again quite skilfully after its mishap and remains on display in the museum of Naples (if, that is, you go on a day when its section isn't closed due to staff shortages).

One reviewer unkindly calls the book a pot-boiler; well, fine, I read for enjoyment not for scholarly enlightenment, and it boils my pot very nicely. And although I agree that the black and white illustrations are a bit of a let-down in these normally highly colourful days, they aren't a hindrance and serve a purpose; after all, you can buy it new for only 6.45 + PP at which price you can't expect more.

And just to counter the snide comment added to J Turner's review by Simon Barret, 7 out of my last 10 Vine reviews have been awarded 3 stars or less. Mustn't judge everyone by your own lights, Simon...


Selected Poems (Oxford World's Classics)
Selected Poems (Oxford World's Classics)
by John Wilmot Earl of Rochester
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars POEMS FOR THE SWINGING SIXTIES..., 23 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
...The 1760s, that is.

The second Earl of Rochester, a gentleman (you wish) of King Charles II's bedchamber, drank and whored himself to death at the age of 33. He was apparently already suffering from alcoholism and VD even before his twenties. During this short and busy life, he nevertheless somehow found the time and energy to compose a fair oeuvre of poetry and verse, most of which is best described as lewd, requiring rhymes for words ending in -uck, -ick, -unt, -erm, -lock, -it, arse and the like.

I found it a bit wearing, I have to say, and together with all the spiteful cruelty emerging from these lines, it detracted somewhat from my enjoyment of the non-lewd, although some is quite witty - "Against the charms our bollocks have - How weak all human skill is ! - Since they can make a man a slave - To such a bitch as Willis." (Mrs Willis was a prostitute of his acquaintance, who became Mistress of Lord Colpeper.) You need the help of the glossary, though, to appreciate the full extent of the lewdness in this particular work (and others) - for who today would know that a double clout is a sanitary towel or that flowers is menstrual blood ? And this is a fairly mild example compared with some others.

I suppose it merits inclusion as a curiousity in a mixed collection of poetry, and I can well understand that some will read it with enjoyment. I will confess it did raise a few smiles, but it's not the reading of my choosing. In terms of output, one could, perhaps, place the intemperate Earl in a class with those modern artists who like to depict close-up genitalia, excrement, stained bed-linen and the like. Neither kind of art meets my definition of beauty to be enjoyed. The star rating reflects this.

The Oxford World's Classics, of which this volume is a constituent, was an important part of my literary education as I turned 20. The law wouldn't have allowed this volume to be published then, which was wrong, of course, because lewd or not, it has literary as well as historical worth.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 13, 2013 3:37 PM BST


Forged: Why Fakes are the Great Art of Our Age
Forged: Why Fakes are the Great Art of Our Age
by Jonathon Keats
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.39

4.0 out of 5 stars IN WITH A BANG, OUT WITH A WHIMPER, 21 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Many books have been written about art forgery - as the three page bibliography at the end of this book attests - and they are probably all condemnatory, if only because they tend to be written by art critics, who are the most likely to be stung by the forgers, and perhaps seriously out of pocket, too... Jon Keats takes a different tack; he begins, engagingly, by appearing to want us to consider the worth of the pure talent of the forger, and puts this iconoclastic view across with a dry, acid and sometimes cynical wit.

Renoir and I belong to that group which views the purpose of art as being to decorate walls. If you take that view, then you pay what you can afford for what you most want, and will settle for reproduction, copy, fake or pastiche if you can't afford an original; and you will pay only what you consider to be its worth as decoration (which, depending on your tastes and your wealth, could nevertheless be a considerable amount, given that we would all prefer to own original works). But there is another kind of art which has nothing to do with its aesthetic, being concerned only with the object's monetary value. The name of the game is to garner wealth and prestige for those who own such art on the one hand, and the critic or expert who "discovers" it, or makes it fashionable, on the other. It is these groups who are the forger's victims, and the book shows all too graphically how the "experts" in particular have often been made to look very, very foolish indeed. No wonder they are condemnatory..

Those who make the most money from forgery are dishonest dealers rather than the fakers themselves, who often gain little. Some artists have simply started making utterly convincing pastiches of the work of famous artists - creating new works in their style, rather than copying existing works - so demonstrating that they are just as good as that dead fellow whose works sell for millions when theirs don't sell at all. And in some cases, their work has been hailed as the finest that the supposed original artist has created ! But neither art critics nor wealthy buyers are interested in talent. You may be as good as Rembrant (I know I am), but it's not about your talent, old chap; it's all about the millions; Rembrant owners want to maintain the value of their investments, which will obviously diminish if the market is flooded with undetectable fakes - despite that it may offer the aesthetic experience to a wider audience. (And besides, you're not dead; only death will trigger the benefits of restricted supply and competitive demand for your work...)

The author gives us brief accounts, each a chapter long, of the lives and work of 6 famous modern forgers (our own ex-con, TV celeb faker isn't included; too run-of-the-mill, I suspect), each hugely entertaining and revealing in its own right, and guaranteed to make you think. I won't spoil the fun by telling you why. If you've never investigated the intriguing world of high art forgery, which goes back many centuries, you will enjoy these first two parts of the book immensely.

Thereafter, however, it goes pear-shaped. Part III degenerates into an apologia for modernist art - not the kind defined by an "-ism", but the kind defined by the addition of an adjectival prefix - "appropriation art" and "attribution art", for example, much of which is nothing more than prankish mischief, and does not qualify as art at all. In with a bang, then, out with a whimper.


Guide to Creative Gardening
Guide to Creative Gardening
by Reader's Digest
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A HIGH QUALITY GARDENING PUBLICATION, 21 May 2013
I bought this book when it was first published 30 years ago; it cropped up during a browsing experience, so I thought I'd add my two pennorth.

The list of major contributors on the first page reads like a Who's Who of the gardening establishment; names like Beth Chatto, Christopher Lloyd, John Brookes, Kenneth Beckett, Ann Scott-James, Brian Matthew, Roy Lancaster, Penelope Hobhouse and Allen Patterson leap out from the page, to name only a few of world renown. The illustrations - around 8 on every double-page spread - are a mix of top-class photographs - even Jerry Harpur and Heather Angel contributed ! - interspersed with occasional first-rate watercolours from the likes of Lynn Chadwick, Shirley Felts and Sally Smith. I doubt if such a distinguished assemblage will ever be brought together again, no-one could afford it these days.

Almost needless to say, the advice is top-class, the ideas overflowing on every page. Obviously, you don't see any of the latest introductions on these pages (I bought three Hostas today which don't appear in the very latest reference works) but those that do appear have stood the test of time and remain popular for the very best of reasons. A "Very Good" copy for under 3 would be the bargain of the century.


Kingavon BB-DC105 Plug-in Wireless Door Chime with Socket
Kingavon BB-DC105 Plug-in Wireless Door Chime with Socket
Price: 8.31

3.0 out of 5 stars IT WORKS WELL, BUT, OH ! THOSE CHIMES..., 15 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Paid heed to the reviews and thought this came out best for my purposes - especially the thru-socket. I was tempted to buy one of the twin sets so as to have the chimes at both ends of the house, but then I thought, when I go to a remoter bit I can just take the chimes with me and plug in close by - big mistake... When you unplug it, the chimes reset to the default, which is an excruciating rendition of Beethoven's "Fuer elise", guaranteed to make any music lover foam at the mouth. You can run through the chimes sequentially by pressing the little button on the side - but if you have nobody to press the doorbell for you, once you've stuck it to the door you can only do this by plugging the chimer in nearest the doorbell - unless you want to keep trotting to the other end of the house. And out of all the choices, it has only one plain ding-dong, unless you count Big Ben. Fortunately. I can hear it two rooms away, so it's going back to the side of the door.


Schumm Mareta 1808543024 Plant Pot 30 cm Diameter
Schumm Mareta 1808543024 Plant Pot 30 cm Diameter
Price: 16.63

4.0 out of 5 stars FAR MORE EFFICIENT THAN A TRADITIONAL WIRE BASKET, 15 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
...But less pretty. I prefer efficiency, because if your stuff grows well, the container will be hidden ! And your stuff will undoubtedly grow better in this kind of "basket".

For over 40 years, I have been using Grosfillex plastic self-watering pots converted to "hanging baskets" by drilling 3 holes towards the top and attaching hooks and chains, but they are now gradually disintegrating; this is the third type of replacement I am trying, and the most expensive. For the others, see my reviews of Plastia 1707033024 Siesta Flower Pot with Wick-Watering 30 cm Anthracite and Stewart 35cm Balconniere Square - Chocolate.

Although merely a matter of taste, I don't like the "modern" design of these pots, which will limit their suitability for the traditional house and garden, but additionally the instructions are not in English, it's more expensive than the other two, and it will hold less compost than either of them, so allowing for less growth and demanding more attention. On the other hand, it is already supplied with hooks and chains for hanging.

Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly a very efficient product, and likely to give far better results than any form of hanging basket which does not possess a similarly generous water reservoir, and if you can put up wth the design you will not be disappointed. The plastic seems robust, and time will tell if it will last the 40 years of my original Grosfillex design; but sadly, I shall not be around to report on this...


Plastia 1707033024 Siesta Flower Pot with Wick-Watering 30 cm Anthracite
Plastia 1707033024 Siesta Flower Pot with Wick-Watering 30 cm Anthracite

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AT LAST !, 15 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Living where I do, and being as old as I am, shopping potential was very limited until Amazon arrived - which is perhaps why I have been making my own self-watering pots and baskets for over 40 years - using exactly the principle employed in this product. It wasn't my idea, though - I copied it from a French plastic self-watering pot by Grosfillex that was briefly on sale in this country in the early seventies; I bought the whole 20 on offer in a "discontinued" sale in a Worthing garden centre, and I've been using them ever since. They have withstood continuous use, and being left out every winter, extremely well (no wonder they stopped making them), but I am now down to my last dozen - so I was pleased to discover these (and similar) on Amazon.

The operational method employed by these pots is exactly the same as my old Grosfillex, and has stood the test of time. My old ones are made of 3.5mm thick plastic, whereas these seem to be 2mm, but I am unlikely ever to learn if they will last as long, and they seem quite robust. I shall convert them to hanging "baskets" (as I did my old ones) by drilling three holes and attaching hooks and chains.

Pelargoniums don't like this kind of pot, but Fuchsias do. I have never understood why any other kind of pot is ever used for most container gardening; they make life so easy, and save so many disasters in excessively hot weather, when nothing less than twice daily watering of a normal pot will keep generously-clothed plants alive. But if you want to keep hardy plants alive in a self-watering pot through winter, you may (depending on species) need to keep them under cover, to avoid permanent waterlogging.

Days before I found these, I found and bought four much cheaper Stewart versions - see my review at Stewart 35cm Balconniere Square - Chocolate However, the Stewart version suffers a few disadvantages compared with the Plastia - but is still far better for summer container gardening than any non-self-watering alternative.


Layered Garden, The
Layered Garden, The
by L., David Culp
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WORTH HAVING BY ANY STANDARDS, 14 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Layered Garden, The (Hardcover)
This volume seemed dear by current standards for gardening books, so went on my Wish List; but no-one bit, so I succumbed. I'm not disappointed, nor do I think I've been in the least overcharged - it's a splendid gardening book, although whether it's up your street (or garden path) will depend.

This is an American author writing about an American Garden; but it has much the same climate as the UK - Zone 6, in fact, meaning winters down to an average minus 15C - and everything he writes about is applicable over here.

I was as much attracted to the book by the photographer, Rob Cardillo, whose work I've encountered elsewhere, as by the well-known author (who is perhaps best known over here as a breeder of the modern hellebore), and the illustrations are plentiful, appearing on every page, and of the very highest quality.

This is a very personal book - in effect, the story of the making of the author's garden at Brandywine cottage, named for the historically famous area in which it lies. He refers frequently to his "design", but this is not garden design in the modern professional sense; it's actually all about plant association, selection and placement - just page after page of what could easily be English cottage and woodland garden. He calls it "layered gardening", but although it's a new name, it's not a new concept, having been practiced for centuries - as he acknowledges on the frontispiece page by quoting a definition of it from Francis Bacon's work "On Gardening", written in 1625.

The author is a bit of a romantic and writes in that vein, albeit very lucidly and pleasantly, and is a fervent admirer of several very well-known English gardners, which helps to place the book even more firmly in our own traditional context. It's very flattering to find such a well-known figure of the international gardening establishment agreeing with me in every aspect bar one - hence my admiration for his book ! The one area on which we don't agree is weedkillers. He eschews them, but his garden is half the size of mine, he's much younger than me and he has a full-time helper in his partner; I'm surrounded on all sides by thistles, nettles, docks, dandelions,fireweed, buttercups, and every other kind of ebullient British pasture and hedgerow weed - so if I didn't use weedkiller, I would have nothing else. I also firmly believe it's not the weedkillers that do the eco-damage, but the people who misuse them...


Rehau 18in Lance Spray 9 Pattern Adjustable Head
Rehau 18in Lance Spray 9 Pattern Adjustable Head
Offered by Gardens by Covey
Price: 23.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SERIOUSLY OVERPRICED, 13 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this item two weeks ago for 26, and as I write this review today, I see that its price has been increased by 30% to nearly 34; so my review will be rather different to what I had planned. It's a good product, but it isn't worth anywhere near that much in the light of the considerable competition. I thought it was dear for 26, but I chose it nevertheless because it was the only one I could find of the exact length that I wanted (extendable models just have another part to fail or leak), and I prefer brass fittings wherever possible - although they will still crack if you leave them out in freezing conditions with water in them.

Until the Big Red Tool Bank comes to its senses, I suggest opting for one of the cheaper models.


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