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The Running Sky: A Birdwatching Life
The Running Sky: A Birdwatching Life
by Tim Dee
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure...., 6 Jan. 2014
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I must confess I was influenced by the five-star ratings when buying this book. Clearly opinions aare personal and this book has been enjoyed by some readers. For me, it was not to be.

On the positive side, the author clearly has a very detailed knowledge of birds and the detailed and descriptive text very successfully and imaginatively conveys a sense of the birds and their environment.

The problem I had is that the book, whilst being detailed and descriptive, seemed to lack any sense of enjoyment or wonder from experiencing wildlife and the countryside. The frequent extracts of poetry and quotations quite often seemed inappropriate to the body of the text. I couldn't help feeling that the undelying theme of the book was depression and melancholy and perhaps the author was exorcising a few demons in writing the book.

For me, the measure of a good (i.e. enjoyable) book is asking yourself the question would you read it again. My answer would be "no". I had a sense of relief when I finished the book, and perhaps a sense of achievement that I got there in the end.


Philip's Guide to Butterflies of Britain and Ireland
Philip's Guide to Butterflies of Britain and Ireland
by J. A. Thomas
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great field guide and reference book., 22 Mar. 2013
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The book is a very comprehensive guide to UK and Irish butterflies. There is a section for each species, describing the life-cycle, habits, food plands, distribution and so on. The book is very well presented with detailed photographs and coloured illustrations to help easily and positively identify each butterfly species, including eggs, caterpillars and chrysallises.

I would strongly recommend this for people requiring a field guide or a reference book. The book is easy to read which makes it accessible for beginners, but also contains a lot of excellent detail for the more experienced enthusiasts. The book is a handy size (about 12 cm x 20 cm) to take with you as a field guide.


Casio WVA-470DE-2AVEF Men's Wave Ceptor Radio Controlled Watch, Solar Powered and Radio Controlled
Casio WVA-470DE-2AVEF Men's Wave Ceptor Radio Controlled Watch, Solar Powered and Radio Controlled

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 22 Mar. 2013
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This is a really good watch and certainly excellent value for money.

I needed to adjust the strap by taking some of the links out. I followed the instructions left by another reviewer. The whole operation is relatively straightforward. I used a padded surface to work on to protect the watch from scratches. Also, I used a pair of small pliers with smooth surfaces so that the strap hinge pins did not get damaged. A bent paper clip was used to push the hinge pins out. Note that there is a very small sleeve that is inserted at the hinge points in the strap - they fall out when you split each link in the strap so particular care is needed not to loose any.

The watch has an internal re-chargeable battery which is charged by solar cells in the face of the watch. A future concern could be that this battery will fail (as most re-chargeable batteries eventually do). However, the battery can be replaced, its part number is CTL1616 (sold on Amazon).

The instruction manual is small, so its worth going to the Casio Europe "support" website and downloading a copy which is 6 pages long and much easier to read. The model number to use to download the manual is "5053".

The initial impression on looking through the manual was that this watch is bit complicated to set-up. However, if you are used to setting up digital watches then I would say it is fairly straightforward, paricularly since the factory default settings are probably the best ones to stick with for most users. One good thing is that the buttons are easy to operate and have very positive action.

The "radio controlled" synchronisation can be started manually for immediate setting of the watch. If a signal is received, it usually takes about a minute for the watch to sync up to the radio time signal. After that, a daily synchronisation takes place automatically. The watch has built in time zones, based on various city locations, east and west, which should simplify the task of adjusting the watch for international travel. The watch can also be set-up to be fully manually adjustable if you are travelling to a location outside the 1500km maximum range of the time synchronisation signal(s) which are located in the UK and Germany.


Vaughan Williams: Tallis Fantasia/Fantasia on Greensleeves/The Lark Ascending/Variants of "Dives and Lazarus"
Vaughan Williams: Tallis Fantasia/Fantasia on Greensleeves/The Lark Ascending/Variants of "Dives and Lazarus"
Price: £7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to Vaughan Williams, 3 Dec. 2012
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If you want an introduction to some of the orchestral work of Vaughan Williams this CD is a good start. It so happens that all 4 tracks are favourites of mine, so I could go wrong.

The only disappointment is that there is some noise during the sublime Lark Ascending - it sounds like a 747 taking off in the background - which spoilt my enjoyment somewhat. There are almost certainly better recordings but for the price this is a good purchase.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 14, 2014 10:16 AM BST


Mens SockShop Heat Holder Thermal Socks - 6-11 Mens - Black
Mens SockShop Heat Holder Thermal Socks - 6-11 Mens - Black
Offered by STRAIGHT2YOU
Price: £6.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Very warm!, 3 Dec. 2012
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These socks warmed my feet up within minutes of putting them on! The interior of the sock is soft and seems to hold the heat. I wear them araound the house instead of slippers. Just the job!


Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe
Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe
by Richard Sidney Richmond Fitter
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent pocket-sized field guide, 3 Dec. 2012
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This book is an excellent pocket-sized field guide. It has been superbly illustrated and contains a lot of detail to help you identify wild flowers, trees and shrubs - using common names and latin names. There is a concise introduction section and then more detail to follow in the main body of the book.

Well worth it!


Canon EF-S Zoom Lens 18 mm - 55 mm - f/3.5-5.6 IS MK II
Canon EF-S Zoom Lens 18 mm - 55 mm - f/3.5-5.6 IS MK II
Price: £128.64

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good entry-level lens, 14 Mar. 2012
This lens is represents good value for money as an entry-level kit zoom lens. It is a cheap way of getting you up and running with a Canon EOS series digital SLR and gives fairly reasonable results.

But if you have used better quality fixed lenses in the past should bear this in mind:

1). There is very noticeable barrel distortion at a focal length of 18mm.
2). There is very noticeable diffraction at F16 and smaller apertures.
3). Chromatic abberation always seems to be present.
4). In summary, after doing a fair few lens tests, I found that the best aperture was F11, other apertures gave a far "softer" focus. I wouldn't say that photos taken with this lens are particularly sharp.

I mainly do outdoor landscape shots where the shortcomings of the lens are apparent if you view your photographs in a large format.

In hindsight I guess I was expecting too much of my lens for the price I paid [which is why I am giving 4 stars rather than anything lower]. I have heard people recommend the 17-55mm USM lens, but that is nearly 6x the price of this lens!


2 Port KVM Switch box with Two KVM Cable PC Laptop Monitor
2 Port KVM Switch box with Two KVM Cable PC Laptop Monitor

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 Port KVM, 22 Aug. 2011
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Arrived with 3 days of dispatch. I didn't think the £4.59 P&P was justified for such a small and light item, aside from that, this is a good value for money KVM switch.

I am using the KVM to switch keyboard and mouse between my laptop and desktop (my monitor is dual input so I didn't bother to use the vga inputs on the KVM). The optical mouse I previously used on my laptop would not work when connected to the KVM (via usb - ps/2 converter), when switched to the laptop, but would work when switched to the desktop. I assume this was something to do with the laptop not providing enough power to drive both the KVM and optical mouse. Connecting an external power supply to the optional power input socket on the KVM would probably solve this. As I didn't have a psu to hand, I fitted a plain old ps/2 wheeled mouse and had no further problems.

This KVM is supplied with two sets of cables (2x ps/2 + 1x vga per cable), 1 metre in length. It is a little inconvenient having connectors on all sides of the box, but the box is small and unobtrusive.

Overall, a good cheap and cheerful solution which is easy to set-up and use.


Samsung SE-S084F External USB 2.0 Slimline 8X DVD Writer - Black
Samsung SE-S084F External USB 2.0 Slimline 8X DVD Writer - Black

5.0 out of 5 stars Good value for money., 19 Aug. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Received within 3 days of dispatch.

The Samsung SE-S084F came up straight away with my Windows XP SP3 laptop - no problems at all. The case is indeed slim and more robust than I expected. Operation was quieter than expected. The disk tray requires some care when handling. The USB lead with dual plugs is about 30cm long. Overall, this DVD writer "does what it says on the tin" and represents good value for money.

The DVD Writer is marketed by both Samsung and Toshiba under the name TSST - Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology.

The DVD writer is supplied with a disk containing Nero software. You need patience as loading the software takes 30-40 minutes. A full installation of this disk occupies about 350MB. I did a custom installation of the Nero Express Essentials 9 software as I am only interested in burning disks. Nero Express Essentials 9 occupies about 170 MB. Beware that the software installation fills your hard drive with 1.4GB of temporary files! I used "Wise Disk Cleaner Free" afterwards to get rid of these temporary files. Also, Nero Express Essentials 9 is not very user friendly, particularly when trying to navigate and select files to burn. It takes about 18 minutes to fill a 4x DVD with data using Nero.

For die-hard XP users, I find "CDBurnerXP" (free download) much easier software to use and only occupies 12MB on your hard-drive. It takes about 21 minutes to fill a 4x DVD with data using CDBurnerXP, so is marginally slower.

I ended up unistalling the Nero software.


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