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Texet A4 Laminating Pouches
Texet A4 Laminating Pouches
Price: 4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Such a good idea to include with the machine to save postage, 16 Aug 2014
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Such a good idea to include with the machine to save postage. The free ones in the Laminator didn't last long what with the local Festival, AmDram occasions, scarecrow competitions, etc, etc.


Texet A4 Laminator
Texet A4 Laminator
Price: 17.00

5.0 out of 5 stars I've been needing a small, cheap laminator for ages ..., 16 Aug 2014
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I've been needing a small, cheap laminator for ages and finally got round to getting one. This one is ideal for occasional use and doesn't take up much room. It does what it says on the can efficiently and cheaply. Can't fault it for the odd poster for local organisations. Put a laminated poster up on our gate and despite the usual Cornish sunshine, it didn't run or disintegrate.


Girl At The Lion d'Or
Girl At The Lion d'Or
Price: 3.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant enough but underwhelming, 7 May 2014
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I have to confess to finding Sebastian Faulks rather over-rated. I read Birdsong not long after it came out and was hard pressed to see what all the raving was about. It was skilfully written and at times unbearably tense, but it had terrific longeurs as well. I then read Charlotte Grey some time later and thoroughly enjoyed it; I thought it was a far better book than Birdsong. I hadn't realised that the Girl at the Lion d'Or was his first novel. The lyrical descriptions of the French countryside were definitely reprised in Birdsong, and it did have a strong sense of time and place. The actual plot (or lack of) and the main characters were just not that thrilling. It was a fairly ordinary story of wealthy older man has love affair with younger girl with a difficult/hidden background. The subsidiary characters were rather more engrossing, although they wandered off in sub-plots that never really tied together or added anything to the main protagonists' story. Not a bad holidy read, but not a great one.


After You'd Gone
After You'd Gone
Price: 4.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever, but strangely unmoving, 7 May 2014
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This review is from: After You'd Gone (Kindle Edition)
Having read and enjoyed a couple of other books by Maggie O'Farrell I downloaded this to read on holiday. I came at it cold, and hadn't realised it was her first novel. I found I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as the others I'd read. It wasn't the rather sad topic being less than jolly, light holiday reading, but the irritating chopping and changing of voice and time - perhaps being a first novel she wanted to impress with this. I initially found it very confusing as to who was doing what with whom. I then realised that Maggie O'Farrell has a bit of a theme going with difficult and unreasonable mothers and their disfunctional daughters and past secrets coming back to bite them. I think my main problem was that Alice, who I assume you were meant to feel sympathy for, was such an unlovable character. I don't feel the need to like a novel's characters in order to enjoy it, but she really was a pain. Her great love, John, seemed a thoroughly decent bloke (he'd need to be to put up with Alice), but a bit wet. Time shifts notwithstanding, it was a well crafted novel with interesting characters, albeit a somewhat tame ending. This review does read rather as damning with faint praise - I enjoyed it more than it sounds and and would give it 3 1/2 stars if possible.


1939: The Last Season
1939: The Last Season
Price: 6.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Not just frocks and flowers, 6 May 2014
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I had got "Debs at War" by the same author to read on holiday, but then decided that it would be logical to read this first, conscious that there would probably be some overlap. I'm fast becoming an Anne de Courcy fan - I find the clarity of her writing, the excellent research and fascinating social history to be right up my street. Yes, there was an awful lot about clothes, jewels, furs, food and flowers, but all in the name of clarifying just what went on in an era that to many people today is about as far off as the Victorian age. As the late middle aged child of older parents, I used to hear my mother and grandmother talk about these sartorial and etiquette matters as if they were handed down on tablets of stone. The long kid evening gloves, the always wearing stockings (no matter what the temperature), the "right" things to wear on all occasions, how to eat what; it did matter a lot to them, strange as it seems today. My mother was brought up in Ceylon when in her teens, but returned to England to marry (an impecunious Naval Officer). My father's Commanding Officer's wife offered to present mother on marriage, and my Grandmother was very keen. My niece and I still have the three feathers between us, the ostrich fan and long kid gloves and Granny was planning the dress, when my mother (very sensibly) jibbed at the whole thing. As she pointed out they were so poor they could barely eat at the end of the month, let alone afford to attend the social junkets that the other presentees frequented. Although some debutantes and their families were not rich, the majority could afford to attend the various obligatory season outings, as so vividly described by the author. So thank you, Anne de Courcy for shining a light on a vastly different, but not that distant time.


Waeco/Mobicool U32 12 volt and mains camping coolbox
Waeco/Mobicool U32 12 volt and mains camping coolbox
Offered by Jacksons Leisure Supplies Ltd
Price: 67.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Looks like a OK piece of kit, 4 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When our rather antique italian hard cold box finally met its maker recently (large, easy to carry, easy to clean, mug/glassrests in the lid) I was keen to get an electric version. Over many, many years I had struggled to say in various languages in Europe, "can you put these cold cores in your freezer, please, so I can collect them after breakfast" (or words to that effect). So, a bit of research, a lot of diverse opinions, but I chose this one for its versatility. So far have only used it for small freezer defrosting. It seems fine. Maybe a planned drive to Rome/France in the early summer will give it the necessary test. Hope it delivers.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 18, 2014 5:03 PM BST


Tracing Your British Indian Ancestors
Tracing Your British Indian Ancestors
Price: 7.20

4.0 out of 5 stars Doubtless an excellent reference book, but I should not have bought it on Kindle, 3 April 2014
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I spend hours researching my Indian ancestors, with some success, but was reluctant to shell out for the hardback version in case it told me what I already knew. So, bought this on Kindle, which I knew was probably a mistake, as wonderful though Kindle is, it is not an ideal medium for reference or non-fiction works. What I have read is fine, but I'm already frustrated by my inability to mark and flick to and fro to the bits I really want. I may indulge in the hardback when I have finished skim-reading this version, if I feel it has enough that is of use. No one to blame but myself, though.


Vango 12 LED Rechargeable Lantern (with remote control) Camping Lantern - Silver
Vango 12 LED Rechargeable Lantern (with remote control) Camping Lantern - Silver
Price: 10.75

3.0 out of 5 stars Bells & Whistles but no handle!, 3 April 2014
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My fault for not reading the specifications properly. I'd had a wind up lantern that progessively fell to bits (after not very much Cub Camp related use!) It did have a mains/car recharger, but it was so rubbish that I didn't buy these (they were separate). So, this looked good, and I'm familiar with Vango (used a lot by the Scouts). I thought/hoped that it was a wind-up with mains/car options. Unfortunately it is purely mains /car operated and takes a long time to charge up. If not used, it loses the charge quickly. I bought it because we had a major power cut (one of the first we have had in 7 years of living in this house) and had all the battery torches, candles etc in full use. So, not quite what I wanted (and I certainly didn't want a remote control.) Also, not THAT bright when all's said and done - hence the 3 star rating. But I take the blame for not reading the details closely enough.


The Viceroy's Daughters: The Lives of the Curzon Sisters (Women in History)
The Viceroy's Daughters: The Lives of the Curzon Sisters (Women in History)
Price: 6.49

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best biographies I have read, 27 Dec 2013
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Having thoroughly enjoyed Anne de Courcy's book about the "Fishing Fleet", I was keen to read this, with its further Indian connections via the Viceroy Lord Curzon. Having read his biography by Kenneth Rose many years ago and a number of books concerning the period, including copious Mitfordiana,I had to force myself to wait until I went on holiday. Despite it being quite a long book, and with a huge cast of characters, I found the clarity of the writing and the excellent marshalling of the numerous personae made it easy to read. I found it a total page turner and could not put it down. What I really liked was the way the author let the characters speak for themselves, using (mainly) Irene's diary and never allowed herself to judge from a 21st Century viewpoint, as is common with so many modern biographers. Yes, they were by and large a pretty revolting lot. Curzon was never regarded as a warm and charming individual, and his treatment of his daughters (basically purloining their fortunes left them by their mother for his own ends) and his fury when they challenged him shows him in an unpleasant light. He did seem genuinely fond of his first wife, even if his insistence on her trying to give him a male heir may have contributed to her death. Her wonderful peacock dress, on display in the chilly splendour of Kedleston Hall, and the portrait there of both Lord & Lady Curzon at the 1903 Durbar shows the level of luxury a Viceroy of India inhabited. His extremely shoddy treatment of his mistress, the novelist Eleanor Glin, who had been kind to his three children (all of whom liked her) after his wife's death, only reinforces his unpleasantness - as contemporary doggerel went, "I'm George Nathanial Curzon, I'm a most superior person, my cheek is pink, my hair is sleek, I dine at Blenheim once a week". His cavalier treatment by his second American heiress wife smacked of well-deserved come-uppance.

But what a cast of characters - horse-mad Irene - the first to challenge her father, who made persistently bad choices over married men, and who seemed unwilling to accept even eligible suitors, who cared for her sisters' children and had a struggle with the bottle, was one of the pleasanter. The second sister, Cynthia (Cimmie)appeared to have limitless charm, totally wasted on her utterly repellent husband Sir Oswald (Tom) Mosley. I had always understood Mosley to be a pretty nasty individual, but this book highlighted just how vile he really was. The fact that Cimmie even became a Socialist and stood for parliament at his behest (canvassing in modest attire with limited jewels & furs) but was nonetheless liked by old school trade unionists and labour members, shows how pathetically she tried to do the right thing by her husband (but such judgemental comments were not made by the author!) I particularly liked the vignette of Cimmie whilst in socialist mode, being given the Mosley family jewels by her husband's mother when his father died and he succeeded to the Baronetcy. Hoping to have the old-fashioned pieces "remodelled" into fashionable clips and bangles (as was the rage with old jewellery in the period) she was firmly reminded by her supposedly Socialist spouse that she would "need" the tiara! His entanglement with the equally unpleasant Diana Guinness (nee Mitford)and Cimmie's subsequent death also shed further light on the unpleasantly Nazi sympathies of the Mitford clan, few of whom seemed to entirely escape being in thrall to Hitler.

Finally Alexandra "Baba" who married the Prince of Wales's, later the Duke of Windsor's, friend and equerry, "Fruity" Metcalfe. A man of modest background and intelligence, but an excellent horseman and clearly good company, his unstinting loyalty to both his King and his wife was not remotely returned in kind, although they both seemed fond of him rather as if he were a spaniel. Again, the first person accounts of the romance between Edward and Mrs Simpson were utterly fascinating, including one of the very few descriptions of their wedding (to which both Metcalfes were invited, Fruity being best man in lieu of Lord Louis Mountbatten). Again the actual witness accounts of the Windsors said more about their unpleasant proclivities than any amount of conjecture and hindsight. Poor old Fruity (one of the better guys in this sorry tale) was ultimately used and given the boot by both Duke and Baba, whose promiscuousness was deeply unsavoury.

So why is the story of this sorry band of deeply privileged, rich, heartless and entitled people so compelling? It was extremely evocative - personally I loved the descriptions of houses, fashions, furnishings, vehicles and holidays, as they followed the quite long period covered. Ultimately though, I believe it was the way the characters spoke for themselves through a skillful author that made it so authentic and enjoyable for me. I am off to read more of Anne de Courcy's books.


An Officer and a Spy
An Officer and a Spy
Price: 3.49

51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Triumphant return to top form for Robert Harris, 26 Nov 2013
I have always enjoyed Robert Harris's books immensely, although I did feel he had "gone off the boil" a bit with his later ones. I did not particularly enjoy the two Roman ones, and felt that both The Ghost and The Fear Index were inferior to his earlier, cracking thrillers based around real events. My husband pre-ordered this book and read it obssessively on holiday, and I snatched it from him the minute he'd finished it.

We'd both read the various reviews, which served to act as a reminder about the politics and progression of L'Affaire Dreyfus - like most reviewers, we had a reasonable idea of the episode in outline, rather than the detail. One thing I was unaware of was quite how long it dragged on and how the French General Staff perpetrated almost any untruths rather than admit they were wrong. It did seem to resonate with some current affairs, but it was truly anchored in the late 19th Century, and did not attempt to view it in the light of the 21st. It was still breathtaking in its outrage, however and totally absorbing. The huge cast of characters were so well defined and described and the appalling dirty tricks were as thrilling as any fiction - and at times almost more extreme than could reasonably be imagined. The fact that Dreyfus was not a particularly likeable character, and his defendant Picquart admitted to not caring for him personally, made it all the more astonishing that Picquart was prepared to risk his career in his cause. I found it ironic that one of the things held against Dreyfus was that he was from Mulhouse (in Alsace Lorraine), spoke French with a German accent and his wealth came from Germany, whilst the majority of the Intelligence staff in the book (Picquart included) were also from Alsace(annexed by the Germans post 1870), and all burned with a consequent hatred of Germany.

Despite the outcome being known, I literally could not put this book down, and enjoyed looking up the various protagonists on Wikipedia (unlike some reviewers I did not find this impeded my enjoyment in any way.) The variety of magnificent - and in some cases downright ridiculous - moustaches on view somehow seemed to reflect the self-regard and stubborness of the French General Staff, who refused to admit their errors and machinations even when international interest was aroused. This is a book for anyone who is interested in 19th Century history, as well as Robert Harris fans.


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