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Present Day Spanish: v. 1
Present Day Spanish: v. 1
by J.R. Scarr
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Outmoded perhaps, but still a useful course., 9 July 2014
The approach to language teaching has changed a good deal since this book first appeared, well before the days of the 'functions' and 'notions' of the so-called communicative approach. Each chapter begins with a reading passage of some substance, followed by a dialogue based on similar thematic material. Then follows a section on the grammatical teaching points of the unit, with exercises and usually the opportunity to reproduce the same or a very similar storyline (with prompts) in writing or orally. This traditional (or outdated, depending on your point of view) approach produces some peculiar anomalies. For example, the present, present continuous, past simple (preterite), past continuous (imperfect), conditional and future tenses are all taught before the days of the week. My own feeling is that the tenses are introduced in too rapid a succession, especially as the learner has to deal with irregular verbs from the outset. One could also argue that Scarr has paid scant attention to the linguistic needs of people visiting Spain and having to deal with situations such as giving and spelling their name, buying tapas and drinks in a bar, asking for directions etc. - just the kind of thing which any modern course would start with. There are fairly frequent revision sections and a set of picture compositions at the end for additional writing or speaking practice. Most of the passages have a quirky kind of humour about them, and Scarr is evidently preoccupied with petty criminals, who crop up fairly regularly. Illustrations are in black and white, there is no key to the exercises, and of course no CDs or tapes to listen to or interact with. Anyone who learnt languages at school in the 60s or early70s will feel right at home at home; others probably less so. And yet ..... this 2-book course continued to be published into the 90s, and is still widely used today, largely among groups of older learners, I suspect - way after other books of this type became history. I started to learn Spanish with it (and I had the advantage of having a Spanish national as a teacher) and although it's hard going at times, and frustrating when you find you haven't learnt how to say what might be considered basic things, the funny thing is that after a year or so, you find that you can read and understand full length stories and deal with correspondence from Spanish people (which I occasionally had to do). If I ever use a more modern teaching text with its bite-sized units on 'saying what you like', for instance, I often feel they lack the 'substance' to be found in Scarr's units. Virtually all language teaching books can be criticised on some basis or other, and Present Day Spanish is no exception. But its continuing popularity shows that it must have been doing something right, and is presumably still doing it. I personally enjoyed learning Spanish from it.


Trangia Triangle Lightweight Camping Stove - Silver, One Size
Trangia Triangle Lightweight Camping Stove - Silver, One Size
Price: £17.60

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but overpriced, 23 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have always used gas for cooking when touring, but having heard people endlessly extolling the virtues of Trangia cooking, when a Trangia compatible burner came up at a reasonable price in a local store, I thought I would try it out on a cycle tour of Brittany which I was planning to make. You could use the burner unit on its own, but you have to fiddle about trying to prop the cooking pan up, so the Trangia triangle seemed like the perfect piece of kit to add. And so it turned out to be: very light in weight, effective and easy to assemble, once you work out your own technique for sliding the ring into place. My only criticism is its inflated price. Hopefully you only ever have to buy it once, as there's nothing much to break or go wrong. The French equivalent of meths is ' alcool a bruler', available in any supermarket or quincaillerie, which burns much more cleanly. It's cheaper too. Worth bringing a bottle or two back.


Yellowstone Matterhorn 1 Tent - Green
Yellowstone Matterhorn 1 Tent - Green
Price: £29.00

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Basically a good tent, but with weak poles, 23 April 2014
I bought this tent to go cycle camping, influenced by generally favourable reviews, its light weight and its modest price. I used it for nine days touring Brittany having tested it out in the garden overnight. It has many good features - very easy to erect and take down, completely waterproof, quite attractive to look at, streamlined shape presenting little wind resistance - but it has one major flaw, which is that the tent poles split very easily, as another reviewer has already observed. Two of mine split before the first week was out, requiring emergency repairs with Scotch tape until I returned home.This is totally unacceptable from a new tent. I am now trying to see if I can find some aluminium replacement poles which I shall no doubt have to tailor to fit. This flaw lets down an otherwise good product. I do feel obliged to add that though I am barely 6' tall, I don't think I could have shared the tent with any kind of rucksack, however small. There was room for me, and that's about it. You can just about get dressed inside if you are careful, and you can store small items - shoes - in the gap between the inner and the flysheet. Expect a great deal of condensation in the morning; you will always be repacking this tent wet. I used lightweight plastic tent pegs instead of the metal skewer type supplied - lighter and better.


Rolson Tools 60335 Heavy Duty Helping Hand with 60mm Magnifying Glass
Rolson Tools 60335 Heavy Duty Helping Hand with 60mm Magnifying Glass
Price: £6.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value., 24 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Incredibly good value for money. I bought it to hold specimens for botanical illustration and it is perfect for that purpose.


Skiiddii Single Wheel Yellow Bag Cargo Bike Trailer *Next Day Delivery
Skiiddii Single Wheel Yellow Bag Cargo Bike Trailer *Next Day Delivery

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First impressions, 21 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This trailer retails at a price very much below similar products, but favourable reviews here persuaded me that it would be worth trying it out. When I opened the box, I was pleased to see that the components all looked sturdy, and they had all been carefully packed and protected with bubble-wrap. The separate components are: wheel, mudguard, trailer body (folded flat), trailer coupling fork, 2-part flag, and a plastic bag containing two quick-release 'skewers', one for attaching the wheel, and the other for coupling the trailer to the cycle rear wheel axle. Although the instruction sheet mentions two special nuts to replace the latter in the event of the cycle having a solid axle unable to take the skewer provided, they were not present. More of that later. As has been noted elsewhere, the English instruction sheet is truly woeful, and it is fortunate that assembly of the trailer is largely a matter of common-sense. One reviewer has already remarked that the two bolts which secure the upper rail of the trailer body to the two uprights - the first assembly job to be done - are too short to allow the nuts to be put on properly. I can confirm this; I fitted the nuts without washers, which was the only way enough thread on the bolts could be exposed for them. Before too long I shall have to replace the bolts or put some Loctite on the threads. However, the trailer body is made of fairly rugged square-section metal with a heavy mesh bottom, and looks up to the job. Next to be fitted are the mudguard, which is made of metal, and the trailer wheel. This is made of steel and has a tyre size of 16 x 1.75. The inner tube has a Schrader valve. The wheel's axle is hollow to take the skewer needed to attach it to the trailer. The instructions assume you are familiar with this procedure, so if you are not, it is worth checking it out on the internet. Fortunately the socket for the two-piece flag-staff was not obstructed by other fittings and I was able to drop the flag-staff into it without the difficulty which another reviewer experienced. It only remains now to attach the trailer coupling fork to the main trailer body, which is easily done, though care must be taken that the hook on the special spindle is at the top, not the bottom, so that it cannot fall out. Job done! Er, well, no, not quite. It was at this point I had problems. The bike I was proposing to attach the trailer to had a solid axle, so the special quick-release skewer supplied was of no use, and as I said, the alternative nuts to replace the bike's rear axle nuts were not present. What's more, when I tried to attach the trailer to my other bike (a lightweight road racer, so not really intended for this kind of thing) I found the skewer supplied was too long for the bike's very narrow wheels. Time to contact the seller, which I did via Amazon. The time specified for a reply was 'up to three working days'. The seller replied to my email within three hours on the first working day, and I received the missing nuts two days later - now that's good service. It was a matter of moments to replace the old nuts on the back axle with the new ones, though there was a moment of apprehension as I wondered whether they would fit. Not all axles are the same size. Fortunately they did, and from then on it was a breeze. The trailer coupling is very simple, and relies on spring-loaded bolts, but it seems perfectly effective. A road test showed no problems - you hardly notice the trailer is there on the flat - and I did not experience any of the rattling mentioned elsewhere. Having said that, there are a few modifications I intend to make before setting off on a longer tour in earnest. There is a certain amount of play where the arms of the coupling unit attach to the two axle bolts, and although that causes a bit of rattling when the trailer is empty, the rattle disappears when it is loaded. I shall definitely be fitting some netting all the way round the main trailer body as there is not much at the moment to keep loose straps and other bits and bobs in place. The bag supplied is perfectly adequate, and can be carried like a rucksack, which is a bonus, but I am not going to assume that it is waterproof so I have a couple of heavy duty rubble sacks on my shopping list to put the bag into, and I shall use a small tarpaulin to cover the whole thing when on the road.
So - first impressions. It seems like a good trailer, and the 30kg maximum payload is hopefully more than I shall need for lightweight camping. It is excellent value for money, and the service from the distributor is exemplary. My only niggles are those short bolts and the poor instruction sheet, but they are very minor issues which have no real bearing on the quality of the product itself, so for me it's five stars. It now remains to put the trailer to the test for real, so watch this space for an update on how it performs.
UPDATE Well, I have now been able to put the trailer through its paces for real. I had hoped to do a part of the Eurovelo route linking Norway with Portugal, though in the end I was only able to do the Devon Coast-to-coast section of it. This links Ilfracombe to Plymouth. The longer route then crosses the Channel and picks up again at Roscoff. However, in its 100 or so miles, the Devon C2C covers several different types of terrain, on surfaces ranging from well-manicured tarmac paths along estuaries to one truly appalling but mercifully short section of rocky pathway where the cyclist is at one point asked to dismount for safety reasons. I spent three days over this, and the trailer behaved impeccably throughout, and attracted several favourable comments. I was probably overloaded - I estimate the all-up weight of the trailer to have been about 25 kilos - and this led to some awkward moments which are no reflection on the trailer itself. For example, the endless double spring-loaded gates were not always easy to negotiate, and there is no doubt that the trailer makes its presence felt in the uphill sections. Its main 'fault' is that it perhaps encourages you to carry too much! I did fit a net, and I am glad I did, and at the end of the journey, after a wash, the trailer still looked like new. An excellent buy.
UPDATE 2. A year later, and I've just returned from a tour of Brittany. Well over 600 kms pulling this trailer develops stamina! The trailer is still performing impeccably over terrain that turned out to be worse than the worst of the coast to coast. I have checked the welds and they all still look fine. You do need to make sure the outfit is completely stable before you leave it, to go shopping, for instance - if the bike fell over it would place a huge strain on the trailer coupling with potentially serious consequences. Fortunately that hasn't happened yet. What a great buy it has been!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 17, 2013 9:31 AM BST


Woodnote - Tenor Recorder - Tuned to C
Woodnote - Tenor Recorder - Tuned to C
Price: £49.95

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Woodnote tenor recorder, 7 Jun. 2011
Having read E.B. Tilling's review, I feel I need to add a few points of my own. As in the case of my Woodnote bass recorder, I am basing my review on the matt black tenor, which I suspect to be substantially the same as the black and ivory version. I do to some extent share his/her views on the keys; they seem a bit flimsy, and adjustment of the footjoint position is quite critical to get the finger in exactly the right place to depress the double key effectively. There is also no doubt that it is a bit of a stretch, so it would be advisable to try an instrument out beforehand if possible. Having said that, I have had no problems with the keys at all, and no snapped springs, in more than two years' extremely frequent playing, much of it in public. I'm not sure that I would want to glue the thumb-rest in place either. I tend to move mine about a bit; I have to say it's not particularly comfortable. But the bottom line is, I rate my Woodnote tenor as the best tenor I have ever played, for the following reasons: it is superbly in tune, with no problems on traditionally awkward notes. High A is spot on and reliable. High Bb, so often sharp, is also very good. All fingerings are standard, with no alternative fingerings needed except in special situations. I have had no problem in getting high notes at all. But most of all, the tone is rich,full and even throughout the range. Several people that I play with have admired it and bought Woodnote tenors as a result of hearing mine. Now, given all this comes with a price tag that it would be an understatement to call modest, this is in my opinion, an instrument that deserves 5 stars.


Woodnote Bass Recorder - Black & Ivory
Woodnote Bass Recorder - Black & Ivory

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Woodnote bass recorder, 7 Jun. 2011
First of all I have to say that my review is based on the matt black version of the Woodnote bass rather than the black and ivory model shown here. However, I have tried both versions, and suspect that whatever difference there is, it is largely cosmetic. I have owned my bass for nearly three years, and played it in concerts. It compares more than favourably with my two wooden basses, and I regard it as the best of the three. My feeling is that you are not going to find better value than this anywhere - a Yamaha plastic bass for example will probably cost you four times as much. The instrument plays the full range of just over two octaves well, with especially full and powerful low notes. There is a low F# key, called for quite often. In the higher register the tone is a little thinner, from high D upwards. Top F needed a little coaxing at first; oddly enough, it seems to be better when the instrument has been played for a while. Tuning is generally good. I suspect that it was done at A = 442; I usually pull the head joint out half a centimetre or so. Fingering is broadly standard, but I slightly modify Bb and Eb, which is common practice on a bass for the latter anyway. I would advise locating replacement springs early on; both of mine on the main body needed to be replaced after 18 months, though those on the footjoint are still the original springs. This is not a difficult job. All in all, this is an instrument which I thoroughly recommend as being excellent value for money, and a good way for a recorder consort needing a bass to obtain one at modest cost.


Integral USB 2.0 Single Slot SD Reader
Integral USB 2.0 Single Slot SD Reader
Price: £3.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Integral SDHC card reader, 20 Oct. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought a Sandisk SDHC card not suspecting there might be compatibility issues with my computer, which reads ordinary SD cards without problems. However, it transpired it was unable to read HC cards. Rather than throw the card away, I checked on Google to see if there was a solution - which was to obtain a card reader. The price quoted for the Integral SDHC card reader on the Amazon web site was so low that I thought there had to be a catch, but if there is, I haven't found it yet. I had no difficulty in installing the reader, and after a couple of weeks' use have not experienced any of the problems reported elsewhere in these reviews. For me it has been an excellent purchase; I am now in the process of transferring to SDHC card many of the bulky files which were cluttering up my computer, but which I didn't want to delete. I have found file transfer to be quick and easy, more reliable than burning a CD or DVD, and the SD cards are easy to store. All this has been possible thanks to a piece of kit which costs pence, so it gets top marks from me.


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