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i wrote this "i did" (Bucks)

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Graco Evo Mini Pushchair 2014 Range (Berry)
Graco Evo Mini Pushchair 2014 Range (Berry)
Price: £161.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Review from a Petite Starr Zia user, 23 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We have been using this buggy for 2 weeks now. We have a Petite Star Zia buggy - which is similar in style and price - so I will be making comparisons at times between the two.

Things I LOVE:
The handle. It is very easy to steer one handed which is very useful with a pre-schooler as well as a toddler. You can still hold a hand - something I missed with the Zia. However, it does mean you can't hang bags on the handle, unless you purchase a hook/carabiner for this purpose.

The ENORMOUS basket. The basket on the Zia is tiny and barely holds a thing. We went to the market last weekend and bought two big bags of fruit and veg. They handed them to me and it was then I realised that I did not have individual handles to hang them on. I was amazed when they both fitted under the buggy. Similarly, my changing rucksack can't be hung on the buggy but does fit underneath.

It folds down very easily and can be done one handed.

It is light (although not brilliantly small - see things I can't stand)

The Zia folds down so small - a must for my very small Peugeot 207 boot. This buggy folds down easily and very flat but it is much wider and only just fits in my boot - the wheels have to mount the rubber seal of the boot slightly.

The bottom strap of the harness is so short. My 2 year old is an extremely petite 25th percentile child - and it is tight around her nappy. When her nappy is full it kind of wedges the nappy into two halves. I am still fiddling around with loosening the other straps to try and help with this - but no luck yet.

Should you buy this buggy over the Zia or similar? It depends on what you value in a buggy and this one does have lots of good points.If the strap wasdn't an issue I would give it 5 stars.

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: £36.59

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very fiddly buttons, 23 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Extremely fiddly buttons and larger than a normal memory stick. I get on much better with my Corsair encrypted USB.

swell Ultimate Volume Dry Shampoo
swell Ultimate Volume Dry Shampoo
Price: £20.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE IT!, 14 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
At £20 a pop, I didn't want to like this. I wanted to say that my Batiste dry shampoo is every bit as good .'s not! This stuff is awesome!

The powder is VERY fine - in fact when you spray it on, it looks like your head is smoking as you get little wisps coming up from your hair. Consequently, it really blends into the oils of your hair with no white or grey looking patches.

It has a very fine nozzle and a pump action so you can be very specific with application. It allows you to apply the smallest amount of powder or more with several pumps if you so desire.

I've used it every other day for a week and you can't see that much has gone from the bottle - so I think it will last a while. I'll let you know!

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

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely for lunchboxes and the freezer, 14 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These colourful stickers have proved lovely for little messages in my daughter's lunchboxes.

I have also used them on containers in the freezer (I've given in after one too many serving of bolognese on rice or curry on pasta!) and they seem to come off ok with a little soak.

Kipling Women's Halia TT A4 Shoulder Bag K10624B78 Black Pearl W
Kipling Women's Halia TT A4 Shoulder Bag K10624B78 Black Pearl W
Price: £73.84

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Practical but not beautiful, 10 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As a busy teacher I was very taken with the idea of an A4 bag! The bag is a decent size - although it nowhere near holds enough for working in the education system. However, if you work in a less bureaucratic, 'paper for paper's sake' workplace, I'm sure you would find it more than adequate.

I really wish it has a zip in the middle section. Kind of defeats the point of waterproof lining when you've dashed to the car in the rain and the rain has leaked through either side of the magnetic clasp.

This bag is very practical - but just not very beautiful. For a similar price you could buy a gorgeous coloured leather satchel or similar. I feel a bit dowdy when I'm carrying it. Fingers crossed for John Lewis vouchers from the parents this Christmas - Radley here I come!

The Bone Clocks
The Bone Clocks
by David Mitchell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars AVOID THE SPOILER-IFIC REVIEWS!!! Otherwise: excellent in places but proved to be an overwhelming disappointment., 9 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Bone Clocks (Hardcover)
First up, if you have any interest in reading this novel or any previous appreciation of David's Mitchell's work then please for the love of your own treasured self DO NOT read the press reviews, promo interviews or the publishers blurb!

The reason for a self imposed media blackout is simple; the best thing about The Bone Clocks is the mystery.
The press and publishers seem hell bent on ruining this by filling every column inch I've seen about it with spoilers, something I will try to avoid here. All you need to know is that it is similar in style and tone to Ghost Written and Cloud Atlas, a collection of novella's each from a different characters point of view that tell one collective story centering on a woman from Gravesend and that it fits in with Mitchell's interconnected "Uber Novel".

Sadly I think if you go into this book knowing too much about the story at it's center you are in for a lot of disappointment. You see The Bones Clocks is a lot like a lesser Harry Potter book (I'm looking at you Order of the Pheonix!) in that the best bits are the mystery, the characters and the back story. But once the climax strips those things away all you have are two groups of people throwing special effects at each other over a decidedly shonky McGuffin. And a down beat epilogue. A very downbeat epilogue.

Because you see dear reader once everything is explained and the fire works start flying everything is suddenly humdrum, predictable and dull dull dull. Yes, it deserves all 3 dulls. If the Bone Clocks were a movie the first 3 chunks would be directed by Paul Haggis, with the 4th and 5th by Michael Bay and Darren Aronofsky respectively.

At the half way point I hoped it would prove to be Mitchell's best novel and maybe even my favourite book of the last couple of years. It was a crying shame to see the story descend into Doctor Who levels of Techno Babble. I kept reading hoping that it would pick up again. It didn't. The Techno Babble is just nauseating.

Credit where it's due; Crispin Hersey is hands down my favourite fictional character of this decade. As an irascible author whose glory days are behind him Crispin is a walking cliche who has dedicated his life to deriding cliches. And he's fun too. I only wish Crispin had written the final 3rd of this novel. Sadly the Bone Collectors central plot is riddled with appalling cliches. I should have known from the moment in the opening when a character gives the heroine an apparently useless artifact with a rather large wink to the reader that I was in for a let down.

It's hard to know what else to say without ruining the story. I think on balance the characterization in the first two thirds of the novel is good enough to give this a go. But the finale is just dire followed by a feel bad depressi-logue that had me giving serious consideration to whether I want to read another David Mitchel novel.

On the whole I like David Mitchell's style but Cloud Atlas is still his only book that I felt emotionally involved with. I'm still hoping he can make me fall in love again with his next book, but after this one it will be a surprise.
Go on David, surprise me. Please.

Boompods Earpods In Ear Headphones for iPod/iPhone/iPad - Blue
Boompods Earpods In Ear Headphones for iPod/iPhone/iPad - Blue
Price: £27.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You can do so much better for the same money., 8 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am really surprised at all the positive reviews these headphones are getting. I was sent these to try out for review and I am not at all impressed. I usually use a pair of Sound Magic E10s (5 stars from What HIFI) complimented with a set of Comply Premium foam tips (5 stars from m!), these are a similar price point but out strip the Boompods for sound performance and comfort. They do not feature an inline remote control but the Boompods remote is pretty poor (more on that later).

So now that I've made my preference clear let me go through Boompods short comings:

Sound quality: Audio quality is okay. It's far superior to standard iPhone headphones but so it darn well should be for £30! It's nothing special and to my ears does not compete with the performance offered by other headphones at this price point.
Sound is not just about audio quality though and the cable noise the Boompods produce drove me crazy. Using my trusted Comply tips the loud stethoscope style noises produced by my slightest movement were unbearable. The medium size rubber tips that are fitted as standard out of the box are a little better but still make walking and listening unpleasant as every time the cable rubbed against my clothes my ears where filled with dull thudding noises. The small rubber tips seem to alleviate this, with a side effect being that they don't fit my ears too well.

Noise cancelling: This is snake oil. I can't hear any improvement over any other set of in-ear headphones I've used (there have been a lot). Unlike other manufacturers such as Bose and Panasonic, Boompods do not explain or illustrate their "incredible" noise cancelling technology anywhere on or in the packaging leading me to believe that they are claiming this feature purely because the head phones are in-ear devices (this style does bloke out a bit more sound then old style ear buds). If this is so then the £5 in-ear head phones they sell on market stalls also feature amazing "Noise cancelling" technology!

Comfort: I find the large round section very uncomfortable after even a short listen. My average use is 30mins - 1hr at a time so anything under 20 mins I consider short, just to give you an idea of how long it takes before these things start to hurt me. I've been using these for a week and the more I do the worse it gets.

Inline remote: feels cheap and brittle. The buttons are unresponsive & smoggy to the touch. They are not a patch on the remote you get on standard iPhone head phones. I would rather not have this feature at all and rely on whipping out my phone to press play and pause / take calls then faff with this thing.

The travel case is huge, ugly and I won't be using it. Again, the case you get with a pair of Sound Magic head phones is nicer.

The only thing I can say in their favour is that the cable is covered in fabric instead of the standard rubber and feels very sturdy.

So to summarise these head phones sound okay, but almost everything else about them is a disappointment. You can get a better sound for the same money so shop around.

Melissa & Doug Chalk and Eraser Bundle (White)
Melissa & Doug Chalk and Eraser Bundle (White)
Price: £6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice but break-resistant they are not!, 7 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a nice little set, which has been enjoyed by my 4 year old and one year old. I would concur that the chalk seems less 'dusty' than other brands we have had but break-resistant chalk it is not! I broke parts myself getting them out of the box. It's a very tight squeeze! The majority of the rest have been broken during play on the easel.

The white chalk are no better or worse than any other chalks I have used but I have to say the coloured chalks are more vibrant colours than the usual pastel coloured chalks we have had.

The eraser is fab and gets a really nice clean. It also works on the whiteboard side of our easel. It is made of fibres rather than the usual sponge which means that it does not have the little bite marks in that our other erasers have ended up with!

Melissa & Doug Classic Peg Puzzle Bundle
Melissa & Doug Classic Peg Puzzle Bundle
Price: £14.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully designed and made puzzle set that looks set to stand up to some heavy play., 1 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We've become big Melissa and Doug fans over the years and this sturdy set of great puzzles was a welcome reminder of why. Each puzzle is beautifully made, no nasty sharp edges, no splintery bits and no highly subjective artistic representations, light years ahead of the likes of the Asda brand wooden zoo puzzle we also have in our toy cupboard.
We were sent the set to review and we assumed our toddler would get the most out of it. We were delighted to find that our pre school daughter really connected with the puzzle that encourages children to match up alphabet shapes with pictures representing sounds that start with each corresponding letter.
I'm sure no parent or toddler will feel disappointed with this set which if it's any thing like the other toys we have from Melissa and Doug, will be sure to stand up to years and years of happy play.

Fisher-Price Little People Birthday Party Playset
Fisher-Price Little People Birthday Party Playset
Price: £19.44

2.0 out of 5 stars A well made toy set but it didn't click with my children and you don't get much for your money., 1 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My children just didn't get on with this Birthday party play set.
Most of their little plastic people are from the Happy Land toy range rather than Fisher Price which I think those represent better value for money and lend themselves to more flexible and imaginative play. Here's why:

Strip away the light up/musical birthday cake and there isn't much in the box. The back ground with the spinny pictures is pretty boring and not something my children were interested in. Likewise the "flat" style plastic balloons didn't capture their imagination at all.
My oldest daughter was downright annoyed that the set comes with 4 plastic chairs but only two little people! We suggested she use her other toys to fill the seats but she was most put out (as every parent knows, children know what they like).
The birthday present is the most disappointing aspect. Aside from the questionable decision to make a puppy the contents of the present (whatever happened to "A dog is for life, not just for Christmas!"?), the plastic dog is permanently attached to the base of the present meaning the children had no freedom to play and experiment with their own ideas for little gifts, which I would have thought would be an obvious way to encourage imaginative play.
The build quality is sturdy enough although the back ground scene is a little more flimsy then I would like and I doubt it will stand up to to much rough play.

In the end my children played with the set as it is only once - the time it came out of the box. We were on holiday and they didn't have access to their Happy Lands figures.
Once we got home they adopted the light up musical birthday cake into their 'plastic people' toy box and started throwing birthday parties for their Happy Land people. The rest of the set may as well not exist. Had I paid for this set I would have been pretty miffed, as it was I received it for review so have no axe to grind. But I can't recommend it unless you get it dirt cheap in a sale.

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