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G3 Ferrari G10006 Delizia Pizza Oven - 1200W in Red
G3 Ferrari G10006 Delizia Pizza Oven - 1200W in Red
Offered by RMXdirect-UK
Price: £99.90

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars High Temp, But Flawed, 26 Jan 2014
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This reaches impressively high temperatures after just 8 or 9 minutes of being switched on. I've clocked it at 370 degrees celsius with an infra-red thermometer. These temperatures will transform your pizzas if you are used to cooking them in a conventional oven. No pizza stone or similar gimmick can make up for the pure heat that you need to make really good pizza.

There are two downsides. First, this machine uses two elements to heat the pizza, one above and one below. The one above switches off when the thermostat reaches top temperature. This can result in a pizza that's cooked to perfection on the underside, but a bit undercooked on top. That's easy enough to get around, though - either you finish the pizza off under a hot grill, or you find the timings that work for you. I found that slipping the pizza in 8 minutes after powering up and removing the pizza 4 minutes later provided a crisp base and cooked top.

The second and bigger problem is electrical safety. I recently had my place rewired and a modern consumer unit installed, and the oven now trips the fuse every time we try to use it. The electrician tells me it must have been overloading the circuit previously, and I now wonder if the oven was the cause of some other electrical problems around the house. I've binned the oven and switched to a more expensive, British-made equivalent that sits on the gas hob and reaches even higher temperatures without the need for electricity.

That said, I had a year of happy use of this oven before the electrical problems came up, and I can't be certain that this oven was the cause.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 4, 2014 1:16 PM BST


DD122FW-MK4 Dehumidifier
DD122FW-MK4 Dehumidifier
Offered by EcoAir-Online
Price: £159.96

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Works Well, Then Breaks Down, 11 Dec 2011
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This review is from: DD122FW-MK4 Dehumidifier
I've been using dehumidifiers in my house for five years because of condensation problems. There are basically two types: desiccant dehumidifiers and compressor dehumidifiers. The compressor type uses less energy but is quite weak, so it's only really suitable for use in rooms where you can leave it running 24/7, such as an attic or a cellar. The noise it makes means it would be too annoying to run constantly in a room that you spend a lot of time in. If, like me, you have to solve a condensation problem in a living room, you'll need a desiccant dehumidifier. They're more expensive to run, and (in my experience) noisier, but they're far more powerful, so you can run them overnight.

This DD122FW-MK4 is a desiccant type that works brilliantly at removing moisture from the air overnight. When I go to bed the relative humidity in my living room is about 70%. In the morning, this machine has it down to the high 40s. As soon as I switch it off, the humidity starts climbing, but at least the room is comfortable for the first half of the day and there is no longer condensation on the windows.

The downside, and it's a biggie, is that I have used three of these machines and they've never lasted longer than 18 months. The most recent one I bought lasted 5 months. £150 is a lot of money for a machine that's probably not going to last you a year. However, having recently experimented with a compressor type, I see no option but to go back to something like this. Perhaps the answer is to buy a more expensive model of this type.


The Successful Self
The Successful Self
by Dorothy Rowe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately too simplistic and impractical, 18 Nov 2011
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This review is from: The Successful Self (Paperback)
Dorothy Rowe divides the human race into introverts and extraverts and all her theories follow from that. There are some interesting stories here, and some useful insights into personality types, but ultimately her theory is too simplistic to convince me. After 280 pages I still wasn't sure whether I was an introvert or an extravert. Maybe people are just too complex for her pigeonholes.

She's prone to make sweeping generalisations without backing them up with evidence. I really lost my faith in her after her claim, a third of the way into the book, that all marriages, with no exceptions, are made up of one introvert and one extravert. I can just about swallow the idea that we all fall into one of two personality types, but the idea that no-one ever marries anyone of the same type is risible.

Some of the advice is worryingly impractical, too. Rowe describes how she used to be oversensitive to criticism, and so developed the habit of regarding everyone who criticised her as a fool. Surely that's just going from one extreme to another, and swapping one problem for another.

Insofar as there is wisdom in this book it can be summed up: shy types need to ensure they get out a bit; people persons need to ensure they get a few quiet moments. It shouldn't need 280 pages to say that. This book could do with heavy editing and a bit of nuance.


Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia
Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia
by John Dickie
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Stuff, 13 April 2009
This is one of the most enjoyable books I've ever read. Dickie has the priceless combination of academic insight and genuine literary talent. Cosa Nostra is eye-opening, inpirational, tragic, clever and unforgettable. I've read many dozens of books about Italy, and this is up there with Barzini's 'The Italians' as one of the very best.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 10, 2011 11:36 AM BST


Italian Neighbours: An Englishman in Verona
Italian Neighbours: An Englishman in Verona
by Tim Parks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tries to be realistic, but is sometimes just cynical, 25 Aug 2008
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Tim Parks has a habit of writing on subjects I'm fascinated by - Italy, football, education - so it's a bit odd that I tend to find his books hard-going and uninspiring. A Season in Verona seemed to me the work of a man who had no real enthusiasm for football, and Italian Neighbours reads like the diatribe of a bitter foreigner against a Veneto suburb and its inhabitants.

I believe Parks is trying to write an antidote to those travel books that come over all misty-eyed about sunsets in Tuscany, and so on - and I'm all for that. But there's no balance here: the book goes into considerable detail (it is 30-40% overlong) about the numerous petty annoyances of life in Italy, but has very little to say about what makes the Veneto, or its people, interesting. As one reviewer says below, Parks can be quite cruel, and often snobbish, about people who seem to be trying to be friendly towards him - this book is about his friends, but you suspect they're not friends with him now. At the same time, he has almost nothing to say about his wife, which is an odd balance, or lack of it.

Finally, there are a few stylistc quirks that make Parks an occasionally annoying read. He has a thing about starting sentences with verbs, such as 'Starts the author sentences with verbs often in this book', though that's a personal gripe. More importantly, he repeats the same observations time and again, particularly when describing people, so that he reduces them to a caricature. I think it's meant to be funny. So he lives opposite a woman who sweeps her patio with a broom every night? Great, but don't tell me 58 times in 200 pages.

There are some interesting chapters, especially those on cemeteries, bribery and the three types of job in Italy. But ultimately this book is what happens when you aim at realism and hit cynicism instead.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 29, 2014 8:33 PM BST


Made in Italy: Food and Stories
Made in Italy: Food and Stories
by Giorgio Locatelli
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £27.11

81 of 101 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars London Restaurant food, not Italian food, 8 Feb 2007
I have no doubt that Giorgio Locatelli is a genius of a chef, and I would love to eat at his restaurant. Whether I want to attempt to cook his restaurant's menu in my own kitchen is entirely a different matter.

One glance at the Contents page of this book - here called the Menu - will tell you that Locatelli is dealing in recipes which are almost impossible to make unless you have access to very unusual ingredients that are extremely difficult to buy in this country. Some of the recipes require a skill that is way beyond my capacity, but far too many others require access to specialist delis, fishmongers and grocers for goods that are simply impossible to acquire unless you live in London and spend all your time sourcing top-quality ingredients for your dinner. Every two months I drive 150 miles to a good Italian deli to stock up on salami, pancetta tesa and parmigiano, but I would have to give up my day job if I wanted to make half the dishes in this book.

It is also worth pointing out that Locatelli is very much a northern Italian cook - so if you want risottos and meat dishes, he is your man. But if you prefer southern Italian staples like seafood, tomato-based pasta dishes, suppli, pizza, baccala, peppers, capers, anchovies and olives - this is not Locatelli's style. It says everything that there are only 3 or 4 tomato-based pasta recipes in the book. At one stage, he tells us he does not use much olive oil, and does not like the strongly-flavoured oils when he does use them. This is not Italian cooking as most of us know it, it is certainly not cucina povera, and if you're like me, you'll enjoy the stories and take some of the technical tips in the book while giving most of the recipes a wide berth.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 6, 2011 1:20 PM BST


How to Stop Smoking and Stay Stopped for Good (Positive health)
How to Stop Smoking and Stay Stopped for Good (Positive health)
by Gillian Riley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A much-needed dose of realism, 15 Oct 2003
Gillian Riley has some very bad news for smokers who want to give up. It's hard. And there's not much help out there. Nicotine Replacement Therapy doesn't work. Hypnosis doesn't work. Herbal cigarettes don't work. Acupuncture doesn't work. All these things get results in the short-term, but if you want to stay stopped for more than a year, you'll have to face the harsh truth that giving up is difficult and takes enormous willpower.
Once you've accepted this, Riley has an awful lot of good practical advice. Hers is the only book I found in this field that isn't some kind of rip-off or con. Where others will tell you they have a magic wand to wave your smoking away, Riley tells it like it is and is all the more effective for doing so.
I read her book three years ago and it helped me quit successfully. This after years of trying and failing with the 'help' of all the various miracle cures I've listed above. If you're going to try to quit the most addictive habit of the modern world, you owe it to yourself to learn the truth about it from Gillian Riley.


Eat Yourself Slim....and Stay Slim !
Eat Yourself Slim....and Stay Slim !
by Michel Montignac
Edition: Paperback

33 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is NOT how the French Eat, 27 July 2003
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This book is aimed at those who know the French diet is considered healthy and wish to follow it in their own countries. The author is French and he makes the most of this fact to lend the book kudos. However, to my amazement, I discovered that this book does NOT give an accurate picture of how the French eat. What it does, disappointingly, is reproduce the tired old low-carb formula associated with Atkins.
I have holidayed in France over many years and paid close attention to the way they eat. Every French town and village has a boulangerie (bakery) that produces fantastic crusty white bread. The entire nation eats this for breakfast, and they have more with their evening meal. Yet Montignac will tell you that white bread is banned, and should be replaced with wholemeal - which itself is limited to a couple of slices in an entire week. I have yet to see a wholemeal loaf anywhere in France that I've been.
Strangely enough, if you want an accurate account of what the French eat you have to turn to an American author. Will Clower's book on "The Fat Fallacy" told me everything that I'd hoped to learn in Montignac but which was missing. Unlike Montignac, Clower does not dabble in trendy low-carb theories, or any other dieting fad for that matter. All Clower does is describe how the French eat, point out that 92% of them are slim, and suggest we eat that way in the UK / US as well.
The French way of eating is centuries old and has been tested by millions of French people over many generations. The results it produces are these: you enjoy food more, have more energy, live longer and stay slim for life. But you won't find this way of eating in Montignac. I hope I've given you a big enough clue where to find it instead.


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