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Ben Saunders (Stirling, Scotland)
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Philips HR2162/91 Viva Collection Blender, 600 Watt, 2 Litre
Philips HR2162/91 Viva Collection Blender, 600 Watt, 2 Litre
Price: £41.11

4.0 out of 5 stars Vive la Blender, 25 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We already had a smoothie maker, but this is the first time that we’ve owned a proper blender. It has a larger jug than the smoothie maker, which is good if you want to blend a lot of stuff, but obviously it takes up more worktop space.

The size also means that we only wash it by hand, since it would only fit in the bottom of the dishwasher and my girlfriend is cautious about putting it there because of the higher temperature, even though it should be dishwasher safe. This is a bit of a pain since there’s only one jug and set of blades, meaning that it’s then out of action until we get round to washing it (whereas our smoothie maker has two jugs). On the plus side, it cleans reasonably easily and the jug is large enough to get your hand into.

We have actually used it mainly for smoothies, though we’ve also tried it on avocado (to make guacamole) and chickpeas (to make hummus). It was powerful enough to blend the chickpeas, which our old smoothie maker wasn’t able to handle. We haven’t tried it on anything harder yet, like nuts, but based on what we’ve seen so far I expect it will handle them fine.


Life in the UK Test - Study and Practice
Life in the UK Test - Study and Practice
by CGP Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.00

3.0 out of 5 stars It's the test itself that's faulty really, 16 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I should probably begin by saying that I’m a native British citizen and indeed have lived my whole life in the UK, so I didn’t use this book for the test myself. Rather, I’m a university lecturer in politics and ordered this because I thought it would be helpful when teaching migration and membership as part of my module on citizenship and democracy.

This book is NOT the official Home Office guide, but it includes the original text, laid out in a handy textbook/revision guide format, with key points highlighted. It looks as if it would be relatively easy to absorb information from. My main problem with it is not so much with this book itself as the whole implementation of the test itself. The UK citizenship test has had various critics, perhaps most notably Thom Brooks, who have pointed out that it tests a lot of relatively unimportant ‘trivia’. With this guide to hand, I can see their point. Is it really necessary for would-be citizens to know so much about, for instance, British Olympians?

Even worse, some questions are out of date, e.g. practice test 15, question 8, and test 20, question 4, both claim that you must have a road tax disc for your car. Others are simply wrong. Practice test 17, question 9 asks which of the following is NOT one of the freedoms shared by everyone living in the UK, the options being A freedom of belief, B freedom of speech, C a right to elect a government, and D a right to avoid paying tax. The correct answer, according to p. 219, is D. However, not everyone living in the UK is eligible to vote, whereas everyone can avoid (as opposed to evade) tax – the answer should really be C. Practice test 3, question 10, suggests that MPs not belonging to one of the main political parties are known as independents but, if this were so, Caroline Lucas and Douglas Carswell would presumably be independents.

I’m glad that I never had to sit this test and feel sorry for those who have had to.


MICRO Pedi Man Gift Set
MICRO Pedi Man Gift Set
Price: £24.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Little to see so far, 11 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I’m not really that vain about my feet and never wear sandals, but my girlfriend has been known to complain about the rough, dry skin on my feet so I thought that I’d give this a go. The device spins a sandpaper-like tube which gently removes dry skin from your foot. It feels a little funny, but doesn’t hurt. It makes a fair amount of mess (little shavings of skin, kind of like sawdust – I do this over the shower, but you can’t get the device wet and the instructions also say not to use it outdoors). Nonetheless, after a month of using it a couple of times a week or so, I’ve yet to see a really noticeable improvement in my feet. I’ll keep using it and see what results develop, but can’t recommend it based on the results so far.


Philips GC8638/20 PerfectCare Aqua Steam Generator Iron with One Perfect Temperature - 280 g Steam Boost, 2.5 L, 2400 W, Navy
Philips GC8638/20 PerfectCare Aqua Steam Generator Iron with One Perfect Temperature - 280 g Steam Boost, 2.5 L, 2400 W, Navy
Price: £134.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An improvement, but still a chore, 28 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Ironing will never be fun. To be honest, I own an iron but never use it. Thankfully, this isn’t so noticeable over the winter months, since when people only see a shirt collar sticking out from under your jumper they can’t really tell the difference. But I thought this steam generator might smarten my shirts up for summer.

You have to put water in the reservoir, then switch it on and wait 2 minutes or so for it to heat up. It’s a shame that there’s no indicator light to let you know when it is up to temperature, given that it has various other buttons that light up. Once up to temperature, you’re ready to get started.

It’s still not really fun, after the initial novelty of being able to pull a trigger and shoot bursts of steam. Nor would I say that it was 100% effective at eliminating all creases, though this may be down to my own lack of expertise and/or patience. I think there is a definite improvement in my shirts compared to their unironed state and the process was probably quicker than a more traditional iron.

I did find that, aside from giving off plenty of steam, it also had a bit of a smell to it, though this may just be some chemical residue while it’s new (I’ve not had it long enough to tell whether it will go away). I’d suggest it’s best used with a window open, which may be a drawback if you want to do ironing in a winter evening. I’ve also not yet needed to de-calc it, but it should be noted that this will be necessary in time, especially in hard water areas (the instructions actually recommend distilled water in such areas).

If you do a lot of ironing then I’d probably recommend that you try a steam generator, but this being the only one that I’ve used I can’t compare it to other models. As someone who still doesn’t iron many clothes I wouldn’t say that this would have been worth the price for me. And, if you want a cheaper and easier option, you could always resort to hanging shirts in the bathroom before taking a shower.


Scholl Active Everyday Gel Insoles for Women
Scholl Active Everyday Gel Insoles for Women
Price: £11.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Expensive but they are good, 15 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I had some of the men’s version of these for myself and was sufficiently impressed that I ordered a pair of these for my girlfriend. She also found them very useful. They helped her slightly too large size 7 shoes fit better and made them more comfortable to walk in, though she did have to take the original insole out of the shoes to get them to fit. They’re not amazing enough that she wants these for all of her shoes (thankfully!). I suppose you could transfer them from one pair to another depending on what you’re wearing, but neither of us have bothered with this. Like mine, they were a bit tricky to cut to shape (I had to use a knife rather than scissors), but we both agree that they’re probably the best insoles we’ve ever used.


Geemarc Corded Telephone - Apollo10 Black/Grey- UK Version
Geemarc Corded Telephone - Apollo10 Black/Grey- UK Version
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars No frills, but does the job, 2 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is, obviously, a rather cheap and basic phone. In fact, it’s even more cheap and basic than the old Binatone one that I bought it to replace. I ordered it largely because the handset we had been using only just has a long enough cable to stretch from my bedside cabinet (where it lives) to the phone socket on my partner’s side of the bed. I had hoped that this would have a longer cable and not be as stretched, but in fact it was shorter and wouldn’t reach at all. No joy there then.

Thankfully, we’ve still found some use for it as a downstairs phone. The only other socket in the house is rather oddly situated next to the front door – there’s hardly space for a larger phone there, let alone a table, but this small handset fits fine balanced on top of the Amazon box that it came in! (It could also be wall mounted, but since we’re in a rented house I’m not going to bother.)

The buttons are large and might suit someone with poor eyesight or manual dexterity. They do feel a bit cheap, but that’s only to be expected at this price bracket. There’s the ability to store some numbers in memory but I haven’t used that as this is for incoming calls only at present. The sound quality is fine.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 5, 2015 1:25 PM BST


Igenix IG8010 Single Hotplate 1,500 W - White
Igenix IG8010 Single Hotplate 1,500 W - White
Price: £23.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent as a back-up, 2 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I ordered this mainly as a useful back-up, rather than as our main hob or for camping trips, though I’d imagine that it could be useful for the latter (assuming you have a power supply).

We’re used to cooking on a gas cooker these days, so in comparison this takes quite a while to warm up – and to cool again afterwards – but it’s no worse than similar electric hobs that I’ve used in the past. If, like us, you frequently cook a big pan of soup, stew, etc and eat two or even three helpings, this is actually quite useful as the hob can continue to keep the pan warm even after it’s turned off. In fact, though we haven’t tried it, I’d imagine that you could even place the hob on your dining table to keep a large dish warm there – though I’d suggest a heatproof mat underneath, since the whole unit does get warm.

As it happens, our cooker has been playing up lately, so we’ve been using this a few times not only for review purposes. With a working cooker, I imagine it will go to the back of the cupboard again, but we’re currently looking to buy a house and I expect this will come in handy again if we’re without a cooker for a while.


ByteStor Pro 16GB 45Mbps Class 10 High Speed SDHC Card
ByteStor Pro 16GB 45Mbps Class 10 High Speed SDHC Card
Price: £8.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't work with my camera, 17 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I regularly borrow my girlfriend's digital camera (a Nikon E3200) but, since she only has a 128MB SD card, capacity is often a problem and I have to be quick to transfer my pictures to my computer. I hoped that this would solve the problem. Before ordering, we checked the product details to see whether it was compatible, but couldn't see any information about what it does and does not work with. Other reviews suggested it worked with other Nikon models, while the product blurb says "Any Digital SLR camera will perform better with the use of an UltimaPro SDHC Class 10", so we went ahead. It arrived promptly and in minimalistic packaging, but when I tried it in the camera I just got an error message saying that the card wouldn't work with my (girlfriend's) camera. Perhaps, if it works, it's great but this isn't much help if it doesn't.


Breville Colour Notes 4-Slice Toaster - Cream
Breville Colour Notes 4-Slice Toaster - Cream
Price: £29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than our old toaster, 15 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Previously we only had a two-slice toaster, which is fine for a snack, but not really enough if my girlfriend and I wanted beans on toast or similar for lunch – doing two slices for her and four for me would mean three separate rounds of toasting and, of course, the first lot of toast would be cold by the time the third was done.

This toaster can take up to four slices, which is enough for my lunch. It has two levers, so you can also do just two slices without having the whole thing on. If you want either one or three slices, however, then there is some wasted heat from the empty slot being on.

Aside from the extra capacity, this has a number of other advantages over our old (cheaper) toaster. You can lift the bread out to view it without interrupting the toasting. While this isn’t quite as good as the transparent toaster that the in-laws have, it’s still better than having to use the cancel button (because then your toast will invariably get burned if you have to push it down again). It also has a button for toasting frozen bread (which, if I understand correctly, means it toasts for longer but at a slightly lower temperature). We’ve not had it long enough that it’s needed a clean yet, but the crumb trays come out of the bottom easily enough and should help to remove the worst of the debris.

The only point I don’t like really is that, although the front and back are cream, most of the device is actually metal (chrome?) and this does get hot when toasting. I would have preferred it better cased to avoid danger of accidental burns, but this shouldn’t be a problem if you use it carefully and according to the instructions.


Scholl Active Everyday Gel Insoles for Men
Scholl Active Everyday Gel Insoles for Men
Price: £11.24

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Expensive, but good, 15 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
First thing to say, though it’s not really about the product itself, is that they were shipped not – as I’d expected – in a small book-size package, but in a box that would have been large enough for a pair of shoes, let alone the insoles. This also meant that they wouldn’t go through my letterbox and Amazon’s courier helpfully left them outside, behind my bin, on collection day. Thankfully, I received them safely, but thought it worth mentioning this for anyway thinking of ordering them.

The insoles themselves are rather unusual. On one side they look like regular insoles, but the other side (the bottom) is made from some squidgy plastic gel. They rather remind of me gummy sweets. Unless you’re size 13, you have to trim a bit off the end to fit them in your shoe. This wasn’t straightforward, because the guidance isn’t entirely clear and also because they proved almost impossible to cut with scissors. I had to resort to a craft knife in the end, but once I’d done that it didn’t prove too difficult.

I got a good seven or so miles of walking in on my first day of trying them. The gel felt slightly odd underfoot on occasion, but it wasn’t like walking around with jelly on my feet, as I’d feared. I was a little achy after my walk, but my feet felt absolutely fine. Obviously, I’ve yet to give them a more extended test to see how they last (it’s worth noting that the packaging suggests replacing when they show signs of wear – usually after 6 months or so – though I normally keep insoles until they destruct), but my first impressions are very positive. I liked them enough that I ordered some for my girlfriend to try too.


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