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Mark Loughridge (Letterkenny, Ireland)
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Philips Sonicare HX6952/71 FlexCare Rechargeable Toothbrush 2-Pack with Soft Travel Case, Travel Charger and UV Sanitiser
Philips Sonicare HX6952/71 FlexCare Rechargeable Toothbrush 2-Pack with Soft Travel Case, Travel Charger and UV Sanitiser
Offered by diezahnbuerste
Price: £179.00

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, 4 Nov 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have never before brushed my teeth with a £125 toothbrush. Are teeth really worth that much? Well, yes, they are, once you start paying for fillings and crowns and the like. Logic says that if this little gem can prevent a couple of fillings, it will have paid for itself. And having used it for a few days now, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it does just that. My mouth feels noticeably cleaner, my teeth smoother.

As I understand it the options for brushing are
- a 2 minute 'clean' programme (with a beep every 30 sec)
- a 2 minute 'sensitive' mode for more gentle brushing (with a beep every 30 sec)
- a 2 minute 'massage' mode for gentle gum stimulation (with a beep every 30 sec)
- a 1 minute 'go care' programme (with a beep every 15 sec)
- a 3 minute 'max care' programme (with a beep every 45 sec, the last 15 sec of each set being massage)

I should say that that is how I have deciphered the options; they are not presented quite as simply as that in the manual, and for some reason the first 3 are grouped as 'modes' and the last 2 as 'routines'.

The toothbrush is programmed to increase in intensity over the first 14 uses, to ease the user gently into the rigorous cleaning experience.

Pros
-superior cleaning
-the toothbrush is relatively light and the handle is quite slim
-the timing beeps are very discrete (you could actually miss them)
-a UV sanitiser to zap the germs regularly
-coloured rings to personalise the brushes
-handy head covers and travel bags

Cons
-it's a shame that the main sanitiser/charger unit doesn't have space for both toothbrushes. That said, a second charger is included in the set; you just need adapters to use the 2pin plugs in ordinary sockets.
-the cleaning options aren't set out as clearly as they could be.
-with the toothbrush vibrating so much I find the toothpaste is used up after the first 30 seconds. It could do with a pause button to suspend the cycle for application of more toothpaste
-you soon find the programme you like best and stick with it, so it would be nice if when you turned on the toothbrush it defaulted to the last used option, which would save flicking through all the options every time.

My conclusion - I'm well impressed, and quite optimistic about a reduction in dental fees!!


The Collected Radio Stories (BBC Audio)
The Collected Radio Stories (BBC Audio)
by Maeve Binchy
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £43.36

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing for a couple of reasons, 3 Nov 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
(Disclaimer: Review written by Mark's wife!!)
This set consists of Firefly Summer (3CDs lasting 2 hours 55 mins) and 13 short stories (3 CDs lasting 3 hours 15 mins). The short stories included are Homecoming, Telling Stories, Needy, The Interview, The Night People Came in for Something that was No Trouble, The Stepson, Decisions at Sea, The Answer Machine, By the Time we get to Clifden, The Garden Party, The Special Sale, The Sensible Celebration, and Dolly's Mother. The last 4 are exclusive to audio, not being available in book form.

I am a big fan of Maeve Binchy and have read most of her novels. I find her storytelling ability very enjoyable. She brilliantly portrays how us Irish don't take ourselves too seriously, she has the ability to describe character traits that we recognise in others or (cringe!) in ourselves, she understands human nature, she has a keen but subtle natural wit, and her books are relatively 'clean'. She tells simple stories in a captivating way, relying on her painting of the characters rather than a gripping plot line to make them interesting.

All of that said, so far I have mixed feelings about these CDs for a couple of reasons.

Firefly Summer and 5 of the short stories are not audio books as such, but dramatised stories, ie the narrative has been cut and they are read by different actors like plays. I feel that by leaving out the descriptions the characters have lost a lot of their colour, the tongue in cheek wit is mostly absent, and the story lines are shown to be a bit predictable or overly simple. If I'd heard these without knowing the author I wouldn't have guessed it was Maeve Binchy and I'm sorry to say I wouldn't have been eager to get my hands on more. (I should point out that they were not dramatised by Binchy herself.) They're ok to pass the time on the train etc, but don't expect the captivating charm of her written work.

As for the other short stories, I'm glad that they are read as written. My only gripe with these is that only 2 of the 8 are read by someone with an Irish accent. Maeve Binchy being read in an English accent? I don't mean any offence, but it just doesn't sound authentic. The books are written with a soft Irish lilt - surely it wouldn't have been hard to be true to that?


Philips Lumigos Guidelight Bee LED Night Light With Motion Sensor
Philips Lumigos Guidelight Bee LED Night Light With Motion Sensor
Price: £19.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a rechargeable torch for midnight excursions, not a night light, 3 Nov 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a handy little motion sensor light with an orange glow which comes on gently when you walk in front of it (about 2 feet away), and stays on for about 20 seconds. The bee lifts off so that it can be used as a torch for the child to navigate by at night. I have used it myself to check the children while they are asleep - it gives off enough light to do this without waking them up.

My only gripe is that when the torch part is replaced onto the holder the light goes out for about 10 seconds, even if there is movement in front of it. This is not helpful if a child has used the torch to visit the bathroom, replaces it, but would like the light to stay on until they get back into bed!

This light does not set out to be a night light (it has no switch to keep it permanently on), or to provide enough light to read by. Basically this is a rechargeable torch for midnight excursions, which is easily found in the dark as it lights up as you approach it!


The Book Of...Why?
The Book Of...Why?
by Various
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few answers for the inquisitve 4 to 9 year old, 2 Nov 2010
This review is from: The Book Of...Why? (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a great little book for an inquisitive child of 4 to 9 years old. There are 50 questions, the answers to which can be as little as 2 sentences, up to 4 or 5 maximum. The sentences are very short and simple; children of 8 could probably read this for themselves. However an older child may find the answers too brief to satisfy.

Each of the questions is given a page with an amusing cartoon drawing (in the same style as the front cover), the answer to the question, and a 'Did you know' fact. The layout is attractive and fun.

To give an example of one entry, the question "Why do I chatter when I'm cold", is answered "When you are cold, your muscles contract (become tighter) quickly to try and warm you up. This is called shivering. Your teeth chatter as the muscles in your jaw move." The 'Did you know' fact for this one is "You do not have any nerves in your hair and fingernails, so it does not hurt when they are cut."

An index at the front of the book lists the questions. There is another index at the back which is key-word based. Also at the back is a 2 page dictionary of tricky words and a quick 25 question quiz (with the answers on the next page).

The questions are not grouped in any way. Most of them relate to nature (eg why do tadpoles grow legs?, why do mountains have snow on top?, why do stars twinkle?), with just a few outside of that (eg why were the olympics held?, why did knights wear armour?)

Due to the brevity of the answers, they obviously cannot go into much detail. In a few cases they merely scratch the surface, or perhaps oversimplify to the point of not really providing much of an answer. In others they give enough to educate and satisfy a young mind.

It's an interesting little book, informative but fun. It gets kids thinking and learning about the world around them, which can't be a bad thing!


Pilgrim's Progress for Kids: A Retelling of John Bunyan's Classic
Pilgrim's Progress for Kids: A Retelling of John Bunyan's Classic
by Bunyan
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great retelling with great illustrations, 25 Oct 2010
This is a retelling of Bunyan's classic for younger children. My 4 year old loves it - so much so that it has to be read nearly every Sunday!

The story is simplified, but not overly so - it still stretches to 80 pages, which is ideal for 3-5 year-olds.

Each chapter is essentially a 2 page spread with a massive two page illustration and several paragraphs of text. There has been some modernising of the character's names, but not overly so. Not as much detail in the story as Helen Taylor's version (of which I am a big fan), which makes it ideal for younger readers. It is also good to read alongside Taylors so that older children can enjoy the illustrations.

The illustrations that accompany the story are brilliantly done - humorous without being frivolous, cartoon-like enough so that the 'scarier' moments (Giant Despair and Apollyon) wont give nightmares!

The only reason it doesn't get a full 5 stars is that it only covers the first part of Pilgrim's Progress - come on men give us the second half of the story, please!

If you want to introduce the wonder of Pilgrim's Progress to a younger audience (3-6) or to a younger audience not used to being read a longer version (like Helen Taylor's) - then this is the book for you.


LEGO DUPLO LEGO Ville 5649: Big Farm
LEGO DUPLO LEGO Ville 5649: Big Farm
Offered by Tradisto Ltd
Price: £74.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Duplo farm - a good set to add to your collection, 22 Oct 2010
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Duplo set contains panels to construct a barn (floor, walls, doors, roof etc), 3 people, 6 animals, a tractor, a pully, a milk trailer and hose, 4 fences and one or two other pieces. It is essentially a toy farm in which you build the barn yourself (with a certain amount of freedom as to the design).

My experience of Duplo is that children with healthy imaginations can play with it for hours, creating their own story and fun, even up to age 7. It provides a brilliant outlet for a combination of role play, construction, imagination and creativity.

As I see it, this toy would be an absolute dream for a child who is familiar with the workings of a farm and has an idea how they'd like to run their own farm, albeit on a smaller scale. The imagination of such a child would be at a definite advantage with this set. A less rurally-informed child might have difficulty knowing how to keep the story going once the barn was built and the animals housed.

This toy would also come into its own if the child already had a boxful of Duplo pieces, to expand the possibilities of creative play. This would mean they could design more elaborate buildings, which is always a fun aspect of Duplo. Any Duplo set is a bit limited in and of itself, and this one is no exception.

(Incidentally, the Dora Buildable House in Duplo is excellent for creative building construction - again with an extra box of plain pieces - although I can't currently find the Dora house on Amazon for some reason?)

Do you need this toy if you already have a toy farm? I suppose the 'build it yourself' aspect makes it slightly different, although on the minus side the animals have funny Duplo bumps on their backs which make them less realistic!

By the way I gave 5 stars for durability because in my experience Duplo pieces rarely break, but if they do (or if you lose a significant piece) Lego customer services are more than happy to post out a replacement piece free of charge! I think that's a great service, and it has brought a smile to a little face in our house on a couple of occasions.

All in all, a good addition to an already colourful Duplo collection.


Yes Prime Minister: Series 1 Prt. 1 (BBC Audio)
Yes Prime Minister: Series 1 Prt. 1 (BBC Audio)
by Jonathan Lynn
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £12.27

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great pieces of comedic realism!, 21 Oct 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm just about old enough to remember watching this when it was on TV the first time around. I didn't appreciate it as much then as I did later when I read the diaries, and all these years later again, I find it even better.

The CDs contain the soundtracks to the first four episodes in which Jim Hacker, the new Prime Minister,stumbles bumblingly, and yet not so bumblingly through political life. It is brilliant political satire - at least I hope it is satire, although I fear that it isn't! The quality of the dialogue is such that you dont miss the visuals - except in one place, yet it doesn't detract much even there. In many ways the most interesting feature is that although nearly 25 years have passed. little seems to have dated - other than the smoking ban issue - which has an extra comedic edge in a retrospective way now.

If you have even the slightest interest in politics - and I have to admit that mine is fairly minimal - then this is for you.

If you have any interest in sharply written comedy, then this is for you.

Well worth having.

Looking forward to getting the rest of the series.


AmazonBasics Universal Case for Small Electronics (Cameras, Mobile Phones, GPS Units) Black 9.2 x 15.5 x 2 cm
AmazonBasics Universal Case for Small Electronics (Cameras, Mobile Phones, GPS Units) Black 9.2 x 15.5 x 2 cm

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice item, although not exactly neat, 16 Sep 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a handy little bag, slightly padded, with a drawstring to close, and a carabiner (D hook) on one side for attaching it to a belt etc. I find the case slightly long for my camera or ipod, and too big all over for a phone. As long as you're not wanting the bag to be as neat as possible, this is a nice little item. The slightly shiny material would suggest it could be fairly waterproof, although the opening at the top would obviously allow some water in! The carabiner is a useful addition.


Searching for Schindler
Searching for Schindler
by Thomas Keneally
Edition: Audio CD

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars AUDIOBOOK - A great story, brilliantly narrated, 18 Aug 2010
This review is from: Searching for Schindler (Audio CD)
For those who loved the film Schindler's list this is a must read/hear. It is Keneally's own story of how he came across the story of Schindler. It fills in much of the background, and not having read Schindler's List/Ark, I really enjoyed this. The book also covers the story of the film being made - another fascinating drama in itself.

I listened to the audiobook and thoroughly enjoyed the brilliant narration - the reader does many of the accents of the characters from different nationalities. I listened to it on holiday and found it hard to put down - often wandering around the cottage with my iPod - stopping and replaying bits for my wife to listen to. The 9 hours certainly didn't seem like it.

The story of Schindler itself is fascinating, but Keneally lost this listeners interest for a while when he digressed into his own life as an English Professor in the gap between the book coming out and the film being made. In some ways the book seems to forget if it is the story of the search for Schindler, or the story of Thomas Keneally.

But in the overall context of such a great and fascinating story, this is a minor gripe (although it costs him a star)

I would almost recommend the audio version (bar the price) above the written version for the narrator's ability.


Anger: Escaping the Maze (Resources for Changing Lives)
Anger: Escaping the Maze (Resources for Changing Lives)
by POWLISON DAVID
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent booklet - puts its finger on the problem, 18 Aug 2010
How do you find yourself reacting to things not going your way? Whether it is plans falling through, or traffic delays, or irritating people, or..... the list could go on.

Although this booklet is brief, Powlison gets to the heart of the matter - which is the matter of the heart. And specifically he pinpoints how all wrong anger can be traced back to pride in some form or other. This is immensely helpful because it means that you can recognise the real problem and start to kill pride before anger rises.

The booklet falls into two parts. The first part deals with 3 common lies concerning anger:
1. My anger is something inside me (as opposed to me acting)
2. It's ok to be angry at God
3. My Biggest problem is anger at myself

The second part of the book deals with a pathway out of anger and gives a series of diagnostic questions which will help the reader immensely.

It has to be said that this is only a 28 page booklet, and not a whole book on anger. That being said, it is a well packed, and immensely helpful 28 pages.

Well worth reading and giving to others.


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