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Andromeda Descendent (Tarn Vedra)
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In Praise of Bees: A Cabinet of Curiosities
In Praise of Bees: A Cabinet of Curiosities
by Elizabeth Birchall
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £30.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very fitting subtitle – a cabinet of curiosities indeed, 15 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have always found bees to be very interesting creatures, so this book really appealed to me. The author, Elizabeth Birchall, has obvious read extensively about the subject because the book – quite aptly subtitled "a cabinet of curiosities" – covers an extremely wide range of history, myths and folklore.

This is a very nicely bound and presented book, with indented lettering on the cover, glossy pages and a yellow ribbon to mark your place.

It's not a scientific reference book as such, and should not be considered that way. You should be aware that the past creeps into almost every paragraph in one form or another – with factual descriptions frequently introduced or punctuated with quotes or observations from historical figures or references to folklore. Whilst this is very interesting in its place, it can make those parts of the book which you might feel should stick solely to factual description a bit hard to get through at times. There is a lot of prose and poetry in these pages, some of which was written by the author. It's an interesting addition, and there are a lot of good illustrations.

I learnt a lot about the history of bees in this book, though not as much about bees themselves as I'd have liked to. I did find the constant referrals back to anachronistic views of bees as given by various historic persons an irritation at times, when all I really wanted was the modern accepted facts not to be clouded. But I did enjoy the book and I would recommend it as much for that "cabinet of curiosities" as I would also add the cautionary note that this is more a social and mythological history of bees than it is a factual account of the bee, the hive and modern day beekeeping.

To quote a line from the book that sums it up well: "what an astonishing cargo of conflicting ideals have been loaded onto these small, useful insects".


Philips B22 6 Watt LED 40W WW 230V A60 FR ND/4, Warm White
Philips B22 6 Watt LED 40W WW 230V A60 FR ND/4, Warm White
Price: £5.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 40 watt equivalent LED bulb was just what I needed, 15 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I really wanted a 40 watt equivalent bulb for lighting my hallway and I found this Philips one to be perfect for the task. In reality it only uses 6 watts, being an LED lightbulb – not that I'd really notice the difference, with the one exception that its housing covers the "top" of the light bulb – not an issue for the hallway, but it may be a consideration for people wanting to light larger rooms.

It gives a nice warm light effect and it really helps show off the hallway's wood panelling.

It has an A+ energy rating and comes in some quite nice packaging, not that packaging is a major consideration for most! It says on the packaging that it lasts 15,000 hours or 50,000 on/off cycles.


Philips LED Spot Bulb, Dimmable (GU10 5W) - Warm White
Philips LED Spot Bulb, Dimmable (GU10 5W) - Warm White
Offered by Mercato Factory
Price: £10.42

5.0 out of 5 stars A warm light without the harshness some LED bulbs can give., 14 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This energy saving light bulb gives a 50 watt equivalent "warm white" light, which is slightly towards the yellow side and gives a much more natural lighting effect than the bright white LED bulb I had in that light fixture previously. Unlike that bright white LED bulb, this one seems much more welcoming and doesn't actually give that harsh impression that LED bulbs can give.

It's also dimmable, said to last 15,000 hours or 50,000 on/offs, and it has an A+ energy rating. I find Philips to be a good brand, and this bulb is of the good quality I'd expect from them. Although packaging isn't something you generally look for in a light bulb, I like the design of the packaging this comes in.


APC Back UPS 500VA AVR Power Supply Unit
APC Back UPS 500VA AVR Power Supply Unit
Price: £49.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I can't use it., 13 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's not often a product leaves me stumped for a meaningful review. In fact I think this is the first time. I ordered this review unit because I thought it might be useful, and might serve a longer purpose than testing it and boxing it up again - something I really try to avoid, as I like to use things not leave them gathering dust. But the manufacturers of this backup power supply unit have made a decision I do not understand by only having kettle-type sockets on it.

For a start, there's no mains plug. I thought all heavy duty electronic devices were required to come with a mains plug by law now - but apparently I'm wrong, for otherwise this would have one. That would not be too much of a problem, because I'd have bought one if I thought I could actually use this product for anything more important than a kettle.

Here's the problem -

My PC uses its own custom shaped type of connector, and there is no way at all that it will fit this.

My laptop uses a much smaller type of connector, and there is no way at all that it will fit this.

Even my laptop at work uses its own custom shaped type of connector, and there is no way at all that it will fit this.

So I can't use this device for its intended purpose and I really don't understand why the manufacturer has not put standard three pin mains sockets on it. The most I can say in the way of reviewing its features is that it is heavy and has a quality assurance test printout stuck to the side of it. If I manage to think up a way of using it with the PC or laptop - or someone helps me out in the comments (please anyone) - then all well and good, but for the moment all I can give this is a disappointed two stars.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 18, 2014 6:03 PM BST


Leifheit Pegasus L Comfort 81516 Airer
Leifheit Pegasus L Comfort 81516 Airer
Price: £59.45

5.0 out of 5 stars It's a luxury clothes airier – there's no other word for it, 30 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It might sound strange to use the word "delight" about a clothes rack, but that really was our reaction to it when it arrived and we unfolded it. It is leagues better than the cheap airing frame we used to use. There are always some clothes that need to be washed by hand and hung out to dry naturally, and of course when the man's been called out because the machine's acting up an airing frame is essential. This frame is large enough to accommodate the entire family's wash and it's so easy to unfold into position and is sturdy too. The five clothes hangers click into place on the frame, which keeps a distance between the clothes you put on them, and you can clip on small items such as socks and undies using the red clips along the rail. There is a peg bag as well.

You need a lot of space to set it up if you wish to use it indoors, but if you have that space then it's the perfect thing to have. If you use it outdoors then the way you clip the hangers onto the frame should stop the clothes from blowing away if it gets windy. If you do put it outside, be prepared for a flashback to old fashioned "keeping up with the Joneses" times when the neighbours would look over the fence and give envious looks.


AmazonBasics Portable Bluetooth Speaker - White
AmazonBasics Portable Bluetooth Speaker - White
Price: £35.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All you need is your phone and this, 28 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a great little speaker. It took me about two minutes from reading the instructions to actually getting it working with my phone. It arrived already partly charged, which meant I could use it straight out of the box. The size and weight are perfect for a portable speaker. For a "basics range" model, it looks top end, and its looks stand up to scrutiny both at distance and up close.

The speaker plays a six note signature tune when you switch it on and a two note tune when you switch it off. The single blue / red LED indicates when the speaker is searching for devices and when it has been connected. The volume and next track buttons worked perfectly to move my phone from playing one track to the next (or previous), and the sound quality is excellent.

The built in microphone works perfectly too; it was great to have a conversation over the phone using the speaker as a speakerphone.

I see the speaker can come in a few different colours, but I really like the white. This could be the perfect present if you're looking for something for someone who uses their phone a lot recreationally, because it is going to get a lot of use.


iStorage IS-FL-DAP-DB-8 datAshur Personal 8GB 256 Bit USB Flash Drive - Dark Blue
iStorage IS-FL-DAP-DB-8 datAshur Personal 8GB 256 Bit USB Flash Drive - Dark Blue
Offered by Kikatek
Price: £34.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High security, 21 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The transfer of large files from company to company or from office to subcontractor always presents the same problem; the files are too big for email, so you use a USB stick – problem is, what happens if you lose it? Never mind trade secrets, the most worrying thing is the potential breach of data protection by losing people's personal and financial details. That can get you in a lot of trouble. This ultra secure memory stick would appear to be the answer.

The main selling point of the datashur is that if you do lose it you don't need to worry because without knowing the pin number there's no way that anyone who finds it can hack in and steal your data. That's the claim, although of course I have no way of testing that. However, with a minimum required PIN number of 7 digits up to a maximum of 15 – coupled with rules that prohibit the use of consecutive (e.g. 1234) or repetitive numbers (e.g. 1111) – it's unlikely that anyone is going to guess your PIN (provided you don't use something obvious, such as a birthdate).

Before entering the stick into the USB slot you need to key in the code. Three different coloured lights give you visual cues, and tell you when the code has been accepted (or changed) and that it's ready for you to insert the stick into your PC. It then activates immediately and is ready to use. When you pull it out it immediately locks again.

First use requires a half hour to an hour of charging in a powered USB slot, because it uses an internal rechargeable battery.

It's extremely well made, and the buttons may be small but they give a reassuring click with each press and although the instructions may at first seem complicated, once you know how to use it, it couldn't be easier.


BISSELL Homecare Emergency Spot Cleaner 3698E, 275 Watt
BISSELL Homecare Emergency Spot Cleaner 3698E, 275 Watt
Price: £112.57

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good results, 17 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is my first experience with a dedicated spot cleaner, rather than a vacuum cleaner with wash facility built in. I didn't hold back in testing it, throwing it right in at the deep end by using it on stains on my kitchen carpet. The results were really impressive, washing out food stains along with wash powder stains that have been there for years. The only place it didn't have immediate action was on the hallway carpet, which had a couple of deep dark brown stains. However, returning to the task a few hours later did thankfully manage to remove all of one stain and so much of the other that you can now barely see it.

My pet hate with any electronically powered device is inadequate instruction booklets, and I found the scant instructions that came with this product to be unimpressive. Thankfully, the product itself is easy to use, assemble and maintain. The power lead and hose tube are of good length and the machine is really easy to use. The dirty water goes into a separate tank and is easy to empty away afterwards. The clean water tank has measurements to add the water and the active ingredient bottles but it runs out fairly quickly when you stick to those minimum marks, so these should be used as a ratio guide. On the plus side, if it's just one stain you wish to remove then you'll use as little of the active formula as possible in doing so.


Melissa & Doug Peel and Press Stained Glass Undersea Fantasy
Melissa & Doug Peel and Press Stained Glass Undersea Fantasy
Price: £10.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent combination of jigsaw puzzle and craft activity., 12 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've bought and reviewed literally dozens of puzzles on Amazon, these being mostly 3D crystal puzzles and 3D jigsaws – in other words, puzzles that give you something to display once put together – so I was naturally drawn to this DIY 'stained glass window' effect activity, which doubles very well as a jigsaw puzzle.

When I received it, I was highly impressed by the quality. You get a good quality wooden frame around a clear plastic insert upon which the black lines of the stained glass window effect are printed, and this has a cord attached to hang it up with. I was expecting the 'stained glass' effect stickers to be flat coloured transparencies, but – much better than that – they are actually moulded pieces of plastic gel and are three dimensional. Of course, they are a fairly flat three dimensional, but the third dimension is enough to make the light bend to great effect around each piece in the finished puzzle.

The instructions are in colour and extremely clear and easy to follow. They put many other, larger manufacturers to shame. You are provided with a number guide to temporarily stick to the back of the frame as you stick the pieces on – each of which fits the black lining almost perfectly – and also a piece guide which you place behind the sticker sheets so as to give you the number reference. Take one or both of these away and you have a challenging puzzle, but even when you are using the reference you need to look around for the right shape, because the stickers are arranged on the sheet they come on in a spread out and random order. That's great because it is a puzzle however you assemble it – you just decide for yourself how difficult you want to make it. One note of caution here though is that you need to get it right first time because the glue sets the piece in place within a matter of seconds. You can peel it off if you need to, but you need to be quick in deciding to do so.

Although it's a one go activity (once done, you can't dismantle and start over), the final result is well worth keeping because it looks good in the sunlight and is a nice thing to keep. I was very impressed.


Busy B Kitchen Labels - Multicolour
Busy B Kitchen Labels - Multicolour
Price: £4.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Not waterproof and not multipurpose "kitchen labels"., 12 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Whether or not this little book of stickers is something you'd want to use will largely depend on how keen you are to handwrite and stick labels onto pots and jars. It's ideal for homemade jam hobbyists because several of the stickers show pots, bowls and spoons. However it's not quite what I thought it was when I ordered it. I expected glossy stickers with pre-printed words such as sugar, coffee and biscuits. What I got was paper stickers with spaces for words to be written in by hand, along with around a dozen small round stickers saying "with love" and assorted small stars and coloured drawings of jars and spoons.

The larger stickers are in various shapes, with colourful edges and could be stuck on wrapping paper to say whose gift it is, or of course on jam pots, for which they are ideal.

I counted 23 sheets in the little book, which is made up of four different groups of design repeated throughout. The description on Amazon says it has "messages to suit any occasion, plus blank designs for your own personal message," however there are no messages other than the "with love" stickers, although I suppose that's the only message you need if you're giving jam as a present. (If the person who gives you the jam isn't doing it out of love, then why would you risk eating the jam?)

The stickers peel off the sheet easily (even the oddly shaped ones) and the ones I stuck to paper and plastic peeled back off again without coming apart. They are easy to write on too.

But "kitchen labels" suggests a wide range of uses, and I would only use these on packets of consumables, not on any storage jars and the like, which I – of course – am going to wash or clean at some point. They are not suitable for that purpose. So if you're into jam making, add some more stars to my review score here, but realistically I can only feel good about giving this a 2.


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