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ian russell (UK)

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5.0 out of 5 stars These boots may go all the way to 11 and I'm not talking size., 20 Jun 2014
Initially, I was unimpressed. In fact, I would have bought robust, enduring, trustworthy leather as I have done in the past (eg. Brashers - now sadly too inferior to contemplate) but something is awry with the boots business and retail philosophy. Apparently, after forty years of walking, they now tell me I have abnormally wide feet. I see bare feet a lot, I do yoga, and there is nothing untoward about mine, in fact mine are better than most: no protruding joints, bunions or askew toes, and perfectly graceful arches. But shops refuse even to show me any - the chart says "no". Even the amazingly wide range of Altbergs are all too narrow. How can a specialist industry not specialise in perfectly good and beautifully wide feet? I'm size 9, btw.

These were the only boots which "might fit you, Sir", one retailer offered. I bought them, wore them with distrust. I was told to clean them after each walk and spray them with conditioner which I've done. Each time I ventured out with them I reluctantly awarded them four out of five stars. There was no reason not to give them five stars other than I hated the boots industry for giving me Hobson's Choice. Yesterday, however, after several months use, I turned a corner. After a long, blistering walk, with no blisters, I think these boots are all right. I think they'll do.

I've read the comments and I won't expect them to last as long as leather did. If they do 200 miles, or a year and a bit more, I'll be satisfied, to be honest. You can't get decent shoes for everyday less than 80 or 90 quid these days. They last about a year. I don't know but 130 for serious, all season, waterproof hiking boots seems reasonable. I don't want to dwell on my boots anymore, I want to enjoy walking and for the money it's worth it.

Park Tool PCS-9 Home Mechanic Repair Stand
Park Tool PCS-9 Home Mechanic Repair Stand
Price: £74.63

4.0 out of 5 stars Sturdy bit of kit, looks good., 20 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm fairly pleased I bought this over cheaper apparatus, it's neat, it's sturdy, and the bike looks good on it though I'm not sure it should be stored this way, but why not? It's so much easier to tinker with the bike, in particular gears and chain, when it's secured higher on something like this, without continuous need for stooping down, or bending. Adjustment feels good and certain, overall I feel a sense of reliability. It's not going to fall over. It's made from stout materials and well finished, I feel it's going to last a while. A really nice stand.

The Rag Issue 6
The Rag Issue 6
Price: £3.05

4.0 out of 5 stars Great, contemporary American short stories, 20 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Rag Issue 6 (Kindle Edition)
It seems a long time since the last issue of The Rag; I anticipated the relish of the new edition so much that I put down my current read to get stuck in.

There is something about the short story form which perfectly lends itself to "creative writing", and creative writing is what The Rag is about. You get these quick hits of experimental, no-holds-barred, often taboo infused works. Think flavours of Boroughs, Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson - literary umami, a taste hard to define yet strangely delicious - but these are undiscovered writers influenced by the shadier side of the art and bringing newer perspectives.

Okay, personally I find some juicier than others but the advantage of the short form can be its brevity, although here I don't think there are any tiresome reads. I even enjoyed some of the poetry which I usually find, in contemporary hands, inaccessible.

So, highlights for me are; Best Work (Stacey Bryan) the surreal trauma of an artist's physical destruction during creativity; On Bread Alone (Josh Goller) the existential plurality of a messiah figure with sandwiches; Oddly Precious Melancholy (Janna Layton) youth revolution in a debt ridden dystopian society; Someone In The Room Will (Falcon Miller) a tragic tale of a naive soul and a hint of incestuous love; Pneumatology (Tyler Petty) maverick, murderous experiment to determine heavenly transcendence in the devoutly religious.

Flicking back through though, it's hard not to include most of the others as highlights too, they all have something to offer. A great read.

Derwent Waterbrush Multi  Fine Tip, Medium Tip and Chisel Tip with Clear Water Barrel, Pack of 3
Derwent Waterbrush Multi Fine Tip, Medium Tip and Chisel Tip with Clear Water Barrel, Pack of 3
Price: £10.17

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Outdoors, yes. Indoors, no., 28 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Derwent waterbrushes, set of three, are a good accompaniment to water soluble pencils when used en plein air. The set comprises a fine brush, a medium round brush and a medium chisel (flat) brush, all with nylon bristles. The reservoir holds just the amount of water needed for several small pieces, moleskine sketches etc. Filled at home, they remained watertight in my backpack throughout a six mile walk across fields and through woods.

In use, they're so -so; I'm not sure how much is down to my unfamiliarity with their use. They feel okay, just like a fat pen. The bristles are charged with water and purged of any colour pick up by squeezing the reservoir barrel. I found this fairly easy to gauge. However, I did find that the brush required recharging for blending larger blocks of colour and this didn't give as satisfactory finish as a larger, ordinary brush does. For more detailed work, they're better.

At around ten pounds for the set, they're good to have for going out and about, but I'd still take a larger brush. If working from home or studio, with a source of water, I wouldn't bother with them; just get a jar of clean water and a few good, ordinary brushes.

MASTERPROOFING® Round Banneton 1kg dough hold Basket-- 25*8cm
MASTERPROOFING® Round Banneton 1kg dough hold Basket-- 25*8cm
Offered by Masterproofing
Price: £13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Must have equipment for sourdough baking, imo, 19 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Good, solid, well made, cane banneton. Ideal size for a daily loaf. Light and easy to handle; no more mucking about with a bowl and floured tea-towel. Does give an attractive circles pattern to the top of the bread (will not affect the crust or taste). I would recommend this item for any enthusiastic homemade sourdough baker.

Derwent compact pocket sized pencil wrap
Derwent compact pocket sized pencil wrap
Price: £3.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal for outdoor sketching trips, 14 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I wanted a convenient way of holding pencils for outdoor sketching. I've started using both Derwent's Inktense water-soluble and Graphitint water-soluble pencils, trialing a standard 12 pencil tin of each type. At first, I tried using them out of the tins they came in but it's awkard to hold onto the tin and withdraw a particular colour; as I was standing in a muddy field, it was absolutely hopeless. Now that I've tried this wrap, it improves things immensely.

Despite some doubts after reading others reviews, I found the wrap carries 12 pencils easily, with enough slack to allow easy retrieval and replacement of individual pencil (of course, these are the Derwent branded pencils as specified earlier. However, they seem like standard sized pencils).

With the wrap folded, pencils enclosed, its slim enough for any pocket - even a shirt pocket. The way I use it is to open the wrap out and fold the flap right back to expose the pencils fully. Then I hold it tight to the back of the sketch pad (either A4 cartridge or a Moleskine) with the tips pointing up just above the top. I find I can hold the wrap and pad pretty well with one hand like this, while standing, leaving the other free to select a pencil and sketch. (Obviously, sitting to sketch will be even simpler, where convenient. Also, I'm wondering if a large bulldog clip might make holding even easier for longer studies).

For under five pounds, it's a really good product. Likely I'll be ordering a second for the other set of pencils soon.

The Man From Thrush
The Man From Thrush
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Guilty pleasures, everyone has them., 11 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Man From Thrush (MP3 Download)
It's Lalo Schifrin! The man who gave us the best TV theme tune of all time, ever: Mission:Impossible (you may prefer the newer movie versions but I think they've been mucked about with unnecessarily). Anyway! This isn't the M:I theme, it's The Man From Thrush from The Man From Uncle. Look, I didn't want Lalo Schifrin original and best M:I Theme to be Johnny No Mates on my player. This seemed like the perfect chaser, slower tempo, louche villain, lounge lizard jazz feel - it's the bloke from Thrush!! Look, it's Lalo Schifrin! That's all I needed to say.

Regatta Mens Premium Workwear Belt With Stretch (One Size) (Black)
Regatta Mens Premium Workwear Belt With Stretch (One Size) (Black)
Offered by Texville
Price: £6.64

2.0 out of 5 stars Some belts are thinner than others, 11 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I wanted a belt to go with my genuine Regatta work trousers (see my review, if you like). As the belt loops are quite narrow, I thought the only safe option was to go for a genuine Regatta belt. Not so. This is a standard width belt, about an inch or so, and didn't fit through the loops!

I might have kept it for other trousers but decided on a refund as the clasp was too thin with sharp edges and the webbing fabric, though good enough on work trousers, isn't my style.

There was no quibble or delay over the refund but the postage both ways cost me almost as much as the belt, which I haven't got. Just beware.

Vaude VAU403 Saddle Bag - Grey
Vaude VAU403 Saddle Bag - Grey
Price: £12.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A medium sized bag that's small but adequate., 11 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Vaude Race Light (Sports)
Vaude call this a medium bag meaning they also produce a larger version and a smaller one. My first thought on seeing it was, what on Earth can you fit into the smaller one? Two pound coins and a postage stamp?

However, this medium bag proved big enough for my needs.

Firstly, you need to work out what you want it for. For me, it was to hold an essential, on the road repair kit comprising a spare tube, a couple of tyre levers and a multi-tool. (I went for a decent sized frame mounted hand pump over CO2 injector or a smaller, less manageable pump. Either way, I don't think you'll get a good size pump in this bag.)

Also, you need a bag that fits within the contours of the saddle, doesn't stick out to interfere with your ride. And there's little point in spare space which needs packing with an old sock to stop the contents rattling around when you ride.

The medium bag fits well within the size and shape of a regular road bike saddle. After fitting, I went for a two hour ride and had no problems. As for contents, it was clear a budget chain store tube wasn't compacted enough to fit so I bought a smaller boxed tube from an Indie bike shop, along with a small Lezyne Rap-6 multitool, and a pair of shortish Lezyne non-metallic tyre levers. All fitted in snugly with a bit of space left for one house key and a credit card (as well as two pound coins and a stamp) but no more.

The bag looks well made, good stitching, good zip. It's attached to the saddle and seat post by webbing style straps and velcro. This, I think, is preferable to rubber type straps for durability and tightness - they won't stretch or shake loose. Fitting is easy: attach the seat post strap first, tighten and fasten the velcro. Then shuffle it up under the saddle and thread the two other straps through the bars of the saddle frame, tighten and fasten. Done.

Inside the bag is a stiff tongue which, I imagine, is there to help remove packed in items by pulling it out. It has to be pushed back again before repacking, otherwise it hangs out like a cartoon dog's tongue. On the outside of the flap (opening) is a patch over which a tail light can be clipped.

After the initial surprise at its size, I see this bag ticks a lot of boxes with respect to my needs. Other solutions would be to carry it all in jersey back pockets (don't always have them) or in a second bottle/cage (but you might miss your water). This bag will do for me.

Airace Infinity Sport Floor Steel Bike Pump - Orange, 160PSI 1191g
Airace Infinity Sport Floor Steel Bike Pump - Orange, 160PSI 1191g
Price: £21.32

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Okay but take note of the negative comments, 17 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Often, you get what you pay for. Pumping tyres on a road bike, to 80psi, demands effort and accuracy; you need an air-tight floor pump and a gauge. Shopping around, you can find pumps easily selling for £50 plus so I was in two minds about dipping below the £20 mark, Poundland territory. The positive reviews made me do it. I needed to pay attention to the negative comments.

It's a solid pump, lighter than I thought it would be (is it really steel?), the gauge could be higher up the shaft to save eyesight but there is an adjustable ring with a marker arrow which you set to your requirements. The pump has a nice smooth action, feels like it will last without too much unnecessary punishment. When storing away, the hose is clipped to the body making it all tidy.

I agree with the comments about lack of instructions. There aren't many instructions needed but they are essential. I mean, there's a fine piece of shiny cardboard branding hanging around the body and hose, how hard would it be to print a diagram and some words on one side? It's ridiculously short-sighted, for reasons explained below;

The stated "Clever Valve Automatically Detects Schrader or Presta Fitting" isn't clever at all. It's simply a one-size-fits-all head. It's fine on Schrader valves (mountain bikes etc.) but fiddly on Presta valves (road bikes). It's not impossible, there is a knack. Just don't try to master the knack in 30 deg. of heat, in full sun, immediately before setting out on a ride. It'll take the edge off your day. Once you've unintentionally deflated your tyre attempting to lock the head on, things get worse as air-tightness requires the head to be pushed right down over the valve body and, when flat, the valve doesn't push back; it just wants to retreat into the tyre. You know when it hasn't locked on because the gauge twitches but stays on zero, or you succeed in getting some air in only for the head to move, releasing the air. By now I'm thinking, it can't be right, where are those damn instructions! More by luck than judgement, I managed to get both tyre up to around 80psi. The gauge seemed to work, judging literally by rule-of-thumb (pressing the tyre, old school style), though I have not tested its accuracy.

I am now looking for a replacement head, a dual type, to replace the one-size-fits-all. Like pumps, these vary in price enormously but even if I spend £15, I reckon the whole kit will be good value. Those looking for a new floor pump, I would probably recommend going straight for one with a dual head. You may even get instructions!

I'm knocking off one star for lack of instructions and one star for the dumb head. But I'm adding a star for the overall value for money. Four stars.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 19, 2013 8:04 PM BST

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