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Jeff Walmsley "JW" (Wales)
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Painting Beautiful Watercolor Landscapes: Transform ordinary places into extraordinary scenes
Painting Beautiful Watercolor Landscapes: Transform ordinary places into extraordinary scenes
by Joyce Hicks
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A WELCOME NEW ADDITION TO THE ASPIRING WATERCOLOURIST'S LIBRARY, 16 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'd seen this artist's work reproduced in the "Splash Series", inter alia, and thought it would be nice to see more. Lo and behold, here is her first book.

I place it amongst the higher echelons of the watercolour "How-to-do-it" genre, and this may well partly come about because she is self-taught; I've always felt that college-trained professional artists, through no fault of their own, don't always have the right approach to teaching mature amateurs, whose needs, aspirations and priorities are quite different from those of 18-year-old students aiming at a career in art.

Self-taught artists often develop unique styles; and so it is with Mrs Hicks, whose attractive work is instantly recognisable through the combination of brushwork and use of colour. But her introduction declares that her book "is not an attempt to teach you to paint like me" - whereas so many competing volumes attempt exactly that - and are to be avoided.

The thread that runs through this book is how to turn uninspiring views into inspiring paintings, and this process is very clearly expounded. One sometimes has to look twice to see by what alchmey she has managed to turn a pretty dreadful photograph into an impressive painting. This not a book for the topographically-inclined ! Sprinkled through the last chapter, devoted to demonstrations, there appear little "box-outs", labelled, "A good thing to know", containing nuggets of practical common sense which every beginning watercolourist will do well to heed.

I don't often enthuse about watercolour how-to-do-it books, of which I probably have hundreds, but this one will certainly find a home on my thinly-populated "outstanding" shelf, to be referred to for artistic refreshment whilst the majority gather dust....


Philips LED Light Bulb (A60 9.5 W B22 Bayonet Cap) - Warm White
Philips LED Light Bulb (A60 9.5 W B22 Bayonet Cap) - Warm White
Price: £7.95

4.0 out of 5 stars YOU COULD DO WORSE..., 15 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm offered a bayonet light bulb to review. Unfortunately, it's no longer just a case of how bright a bulb is - longevity and reliability are both now major issues in this market. Many cheap - and not-so-cheap - so-called energy-saving bulbs are proving to have lives no longer than those old-fashioned tunsgten filaments which are now banned. To give a proper assessment, therefore, I should postpone this review either until the bulb fails, or until it reaches the end of its claimed life of 15,000 hours; which, in the location I have chosen for it, would be around 2028.

The very robust packaging in which it is supplied simply says on the front "84% energy saving". 84% of what ? Presumably it's 84% compared with an ordinary 60w tungsten filament bulb - if so, what's the point, since we can't buy those bulbs any more ? This specious advertising practice is seemingly shared by all suppliers.

Is it bright enough ? Subjectively, it seemed so, given its rating. Quality-wise, I liked the warm, but not too-warm, light, unlike that of the 23 W Philips "Tornado" Compact Fluorescent Spiral it has replaced. Which brings up another anomaly. Tested by pointing a digital SLR at it, the bulb under review gave an exposure of 125th/f8; under the same conditions, the higher-powered bulb, as you might expect, a shorter 325th/f9 - but the lower-powered bulb seemed brighter, entirely because the other one is much, much warmer, and therefore doesn't LOOK as bright - to my eyes, anyway...

So I shall leave this Philips LED A60 to partially illuminate my study, and return the Philips 23w "Tornado" to my backup bulb store. I shall have a seemingly slightly brighter and more pleasant light to read by, and save a massive 40 watts or so a day, a whole £2 a year. At £8 for an Amazon prime member, it would only have to last four years to repay its cost. Wow...

All things considered, however, I surely have to like it, and for me, at any rate, it would be a better buy than Philips' 110w-equivalent compact fluorescent. But it will have to wait until 2028 in order to earn a fifth star - by when, of course, it will be totally irrelevant...


Russell Hobbs 18036 Breadmaker Fresh Bread in Minutes
Russell Hobbs 18036 Breadmaker Fresh Bread in Minutes
Price: £44.99

4.0 out of 5 stars CAN'T FAULT THE BREAD !, 14 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I bought this machine nine months ago - and, since I didn't like it, promptly gave it away - without having used it - to friends, who reported delight with their gift and with its output. I replaced it with my second Morphy Richards Daily Loaf 48330 Breadmaker, the smallest machine, makes just a 1lb loaf, no bells or whistles, ideal for the one-person home (or even the two-person home). See my review of that machine for the full story. But now Amazon have offered me the former machine again, to review, and I'm happy to oblige. But before you read on, there are a few things to bear in mind.

This is the cheapest, full-sized, full-spec breadmaker to be found on Amazon, at £45, less than one quarter of the price of the dearest, of which there are plenty at or near £200. A great many of us don't want to pay that price (me included), but if you are going to buy the very cheapest available, you have to expect (a) some compromises, and (b) some risk. Around 18% of the 533 reviewers at the time of writing disapprove of this machine, and many advise us not to buy it, including some who were clearly not novices - however, there were still also around 4% of the 1,000 reviewers of the hugely popular and superior £100 Panasonic who said the same thing about that machine.

Even identical breadmakers are not necessarily created equal, whatever they cost. My current Morphy Richards requires different handling to the previous identical example to creat the same quality of bread - it's just an extra 10ml of water for my standard packet breadmix, but it makes a vast difference. It seems we may all be lucky if we can still use exactly the same technique when buying a replacement machine, even if it's the same model - more so, no doubt, if we move to another brand.

I use only proprietary bread mixes, mostly Wright's, which make superb bread whilst relieving one of all responsibility for observing the strict rules of breadmaking. My initial dislike of this model stemmed mostly from the fact that it requires an inconvenient 350gms of mix for its smallest loaf; mixes come in 500g packets, and my MR takes a convenient half packet, 250g, making enough bread for 2-3 days - which is as much as I want.

So, with those cautionary words out of the way, I can tell you that whilst I recall thinking that the loaf tin of my first example was too flimsy, this one gave no such such impression. Likewise, the fiddly clips for holding it in - as shown in the manual - have disappeared in favour of a simple push fit - but you will need to take care in fitting it; get it out of alignment and you may risk bending the base holding clips. Mixing paddles in breadmakers either stick in the loaf or stick on the spindle; my Morphy Richards comes with a little tool for neatly removing the paddle from the loaf - this one doesn't - but it stuck on the spindle anyway, rather than in the bread.

The display is far too small, with insufficient contrast, and initially I had difficulty in ascertaining where it was at - I needed a torch to read it at all on this dull day. And the list of programmes is printed in pale grey on paler grey... Pretty daft.

Nevertheless, on test, my review model made an excellent 750g loaf straight out of the box, using a Tesco 500g "crusty white bread" mix. Inexplicably, the manual contains no advice on using packet mixes, so I simply followed the directions on the mix packet, whilst using the "dark crust" setting on the breadmaker. (You'll have to get used to the fact that on the display, "I", "P" and "H" mean light, medium and dark respectively...). Perfect bread was forthcoming, albeit not especially dark; see the photos. There is provision for extending bake times, however. So, despite the niggles, I therefore have to like it, because of the good bread for a very low price. But it could have been just that bit better for no extra cost, just some extra common sense - and there is a bit of risk.

The reviews posted so far suggest that you will have odds of five to one on, in favour of your being pleased with this breadmaker. If you want odds of 25 to 1 on in your favour, you'll have to double your outlay. Much like any other kind of gambling...


Otosan Ear 50ml Spray
Otosan Ear 50ml Spray
Price: £7.88

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BETTER THAN OLIVE OIL, 10 Oct. 2014
No-one down at the clinic believes me when I tell them that the olive oil they insist I squirt into my ears for 3 days prior to a syringing is inimical to them. Even the pharmaceutical product causes irritation - and then they won't do the syringing because, they say, my ears are "inflamed" and want me to wait a month to see the GP (by when they are no longer inflamed, of course - just still blocked...)

So I tried this stuff, made in Italy, from a melange of plant extracts; I can detect the odour or geranium oil in particular. Not only does it not irritate my ears, it's a doddle to apply, even makes them smell nice (for anyone who cares to sniff them) - AND it actually dissolves the wax. I can't praise it too highly.

We are all different, of course, and whilst it works for me, may not necesarily work for you - but it's certainly worth a try.


Gardening Through Your Golden Years
Gardening Through Your Golden Years
by James W. Wilson
Edition: Hardcover

2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I anticipated, 10 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
More trite reminiscence than the sensible advice for aging gardners that I was expecting.


1 x Pair Heavy Black Coated Gate Tee Hinges 18"
1 x Pair Heavy Black Coated Gate Tee Hinges 18"
Offered by J. Boyle and Sons (The Ironmonger)
Price: £6.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Quality and economy., 10 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These are good, strong, thick-section hinges, made to last, and sensibly priced. The pair weighs over a kilo.


Bulk Hardware 200 x 150mm Shelf Brackets London Style - White (Pack of 20)
Bulk Hardware 200 x 150mm Shelf Brackets London Style - White (Pack of 20)
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't do better at this price - or even more., 10 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Excellent quality, strong, no sign of twistability, and a very good price.


Levington CNSE Ericaceous Compost 75lt
Levington CNSE Ericaceous Compost 75lt
Offered by Fargro
Price: £16.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Improperly stored, wet, and too heavy too handle, 10 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I sent this back. It had been stored in the open, was consequently saturated, and far too heavy for anyone to lift safely - quite apart from the fact that unused wet compost deteriorates more rapidly. The sellers told me they had none which had been correctly stored under cover. I've bought a bale of peat, and will make my own.


Twine with Wooden Holder
Twine with Wooden Holder
Offered by eTree uk ltd
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Posh kit for the greenhouse, 10 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Twine with Wooden Holder
No problems with this - it's much bigger than I anticipated, and should last the average greenhouse owner almost indefinitely. I like the slightly understated, dark stain on the woodwork, which I find preferable to the natural coloured alternative - it looks posher somehow....


Sigmund Romberg: The New Moon; Up in Central Park; Viennese Nights
Sigmund Romberg: The New Moon; Up in Central Park; Viennese Nights
Price: £6.58

5.0 out of 5 stars Remind yourself how good this mid-twentieth century light classical music is..., 10 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Lovely, lovely music, and it's that which earns it five stars. These original recordings, of orchestra, choruses and soloists, were made in the first five years after WW2, so, although beautifully cleaned up, you can't expect 21st century quality - think in terms of a remastered Black and White TV musical. Which is a shame, because this man's music merits modern recordings, and, I would have thought, at least a couple of BBC proms with our favourite light opera singers. I find it unaccountable that work of this quality, once drooled over by an adoring public, is currently so neglected. This seems to be the best representative collection (certainly the most authentic), and if you're buying volume 2, you may as well buy volume 1 at the same time...


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