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Themistocles
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66fit Ab Roller Wheel & Knee Pad - ABS Core Abdominal Workout Fitness Exerciser
66fit Ab Roller Wheel & Knee Pad - ABS Core Abdominal Workout Fitness Exerciser
Price: £10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Sturdy - for an exercise where you're putting a lot ..., 6 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Quite impressed with this roller for the price.

Sturdy - for an exercise where you're putting a lot of weight on a moving object, sturdiness is essential. This roller feels secure when I use it. The only danger is that my abs and back will give out and I'll do a face plant - that's my problem rather than the roller's though.
Easy to put together.

The mat is a nice addition, but it doesn't offer a huge amount of protection. You'd be better off with a folded blanket or a cushion if you've using the roller with your knees on the ground.

The roller doesn't come with any printed instructions. There's a link to the 66fit site where you can watch a short video about the exercise, but you'll probably have to do a search to find a more in-depth explanation of what you can do with the ab roller. Not a big problem.


Sharples-n-Grant Playpost Cat Scratcher
Sharples-n-Grant Playpost Cat Scratcher
Price: £8.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent value, a little small though, 1 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's a standard cat scratcher. The twine is tight and seems to be holding up reasonably well to the attentions of my two cats. They both use it separately - it's too small to be tag teamed. It's easy to put together and seems sturdy. Not bad for the price.
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OPUS ML038 Triple Hook Deluxe Bird Feeder - Black
OPUS ML038 Triple Hook Deluxe Bird Feeder - Black
Price: £11.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A little flimsiness isn't too bad, considering these birds are naturally used to perching ..., 28 Jan. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We've had this bird feeder set up in the garden for a few weeks now and, on balance, it's made a positive contribution to the look of the garden and to the avian wildlife here.

As you might expect from the price: the word Deluxe is a bit of a misnomer. The feeder is somewhat flimsy - it rocks a little when busy, but it has yet to topple or break. A little flimsiness isn't too bad, considering these birds are naturally used to perching and launching from much more flexible branches. I was disappointed that the fixing method is simply to drive the stake into soil - you need a buy a separate stand if you don't have a suitable spot in a flowerbed or lawn.

The design is quite elegant, although the effect is spoiled a little by the un-treated screws, which will surely rust and present an unpleasant contrast to the black frame. There is something a little art nouveau about the curly arms that I like.

Overall, bearing in mind the low price, it's a decent bird feeder.


Difford's Guide: 365 Days of Cocktails: The perfect cocktail for every day of the year
Difford's Guide: 365 Days of Cocktails: The perfect cocktail for every day of the year
by Simon Difford
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.24

4.0 out of 5 stars There is a useful section at the start to explain the terms used, 24 Jan. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This attractively bound and printed book of cocktail recipes has the interesting premise of providing a cocktail recipe for each day of the year. Some (professionals, perhaps?) could take this as a challenge to make one every day. However, I think that would get expensive - fast. I've made a few of the recipes for cocktails on the intended day: the hot and festive Tom & Jerry with egg, cognac, and rum is an apt choice for the 23rd of december. However, I've generally used it as a non-linear guide, flicking through the pages until something I'm in the mood for presents itself.

The cocktails are generally contextually appropriate, either in taste or the short section of trivia that accompanies each. These little tidbits are quite interesting, though their connection to the actual drink is frequently dubious. I think I'd prefer information about the genesis of each drink rather than a paragraph about a calendar event.

The instructions are appropriate, but quite terse at times, relying on the maker's knowledge of the techniques referenced. There is a useful section at the start to explain the terms used, but I would not recommend the book for novices.

Overall, this is a nice curio for cocktail enthusiasts - very well presented and often interesting. I see it more as a gift than a resource.


NVIDIA SHIELD K1 - 8-Inch Full HD Tablet (Black) - (192 Core Tegra K1 Processor, Micro SD Card up to Additional 128 GB, 4K Ultra HD Ready)
NVIDIA SHIELD K1 - 8-Inch Full HD Tablet (Black) - (192 Core Tegra K1 Processor, Micro SD Card up to Additional 128 GB, 4K Ultra HD Ready)
Price: £149.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars has a great screen, and (when in stock) is a very ..., 10 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is basically 2015/16's Nexus 7. It's extremely fast, runs stock android, has a great screen, and (when in stock) is a very reasonable price. I got mine for reading comics and for the stylus function - unfortunately the stylus no longer ships with the tablet, but it is available separately. Nvidia Dabbler is great to mess around in, particularly with the simulation of watercolours bleeding and mixing on the canvas. You can even turn gravity on and watch the paint slowly slide down the page. It obviously isn't a fully featured art package, but I've been surprised by the results. Great for sketching on the go.


The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare
The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare
by Michael Dobson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £32.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1949) American sculptor whose bronzes adorn the Great Garden of New Place', 10 Jan. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This volume, introduced by Simon Russell Beale, while well-researched and academically impeccable, is nonetheless accessible and of interest to the general reader. At the front of the book, the 'thematic listing of contents' under headings such as 'Critical History of the Works' and 'Shakespeare on Film and Television' allows the reader to see all the entries at once, a time saver if the reader is looking for some particular aspect of the Shakespeare phenomenon and wants to check if it's included in the book.

The main bulk of the book consists of the alphabetical entries, an encyclopaedia of all things Shakespearean, ranging from 'Aaron, a Moor and Tamara's lover in Timon of Athens' to 'Wyatt, Greg(b.1949) American sculptor whose bronzes adorn the Great Garden of New Place'.

There are illustrations in different media, among them a sketch 'done from memory' of New Place as it was when Shakespeare lived there, as well as numerous photographs, for example of David Tennant and Patrick Stewart in the RSC's modern-dress version of 'Hamlet' (2008) and of other leading actors of their day in their most renowned Shakespearean roles.

Other 'thematic entries' cover 'The Shakespearean Legend' encompassing 'authorial controversy' and 'aspects of bardolatry'. Two of the more extensive sections in the 'thematic headings' are 'Literary features and terms' and 'Elizabethan and Jacobean literary context', useful for students and teachers at GCSE and National 5 levels and onwards as well as of interest to the general literate reader.

Several entries refer to musical settings from Shakespeare's time onwards and to the influence the dramatist had, and still has, on composers, both operatic and cinematic, from Verdi's operas to Bernstein's 'West Side Story'.

The central section of the book, interrupting the entries half way through the alphabet, analyses each play under the headings Text (i.e. first appearance of the text, later editions, any lacunae that appear in certain versions, and similar matters): Source ( generally interesting, for example there is a reference to the source of Richard III's famous call for a horse):Synopsis, especially useful as an aid to keeping track, in some plays, of numerous characters with names ending '...tio'): Artistic features: Critical history: Stage history: On the screen: Recent major editions and Some representative criticism. The analyses of the Sonnets which follow is the same, with the omission of 'Stage history' and 'On the screen'. These analyses are by no means comprehensive, impossible in a single volume, but for further enlightenment the reader is given titles of works of criticism which do deal in depth with the plays and sonnets, both in this central section and and in the supplementary 'Further Reading' at the end of the book.

One thing I found distracting about this volume was the use of asterisks before each cross-referenced name. These felt as numerous as midges in summer and almost as annoying. However, they serve a purpose and eventually I managed to ignore them.

This book is printed on glossy paper which serves the illustrations well. It is heavy in the Newtonian sense, so a lectern would be a useful piece of equipment, but not heavy in any other sense and would interest and be helpful to a wide range of readers.

Exit stage right.


Crock-Pot Multi-Cooker, 5.6 Litre
Crock-Pot Multi-Cooker, 5.6 Litre
Offered by Lakeland
Price: £119.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Versatile and capacious - not just a slow cooker, 4 Jan. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've wanted a slow cooker for a while since winter is the perfect season for soups, stews, and roasts, but I haven't been able to justify getting a dedicated one. This crock pot does a lot more than just slow cooking, though.

The multi-cooker is fairly large and feels very well made, with a brushed metal finish that is quite easy to wipe down. The base is sturdy and the pot feels quality - something you'd probably have to spend a bit on to get on its own, probably. It comes with a roasting rack and a recipe book with some ideas to get you started. I've tried the lentil soup and the tuscan bean soup - both very good.

I've mainly used the slow cook and steam functions. Slow cooking works extremely well for joints of meat and for soups, while the steam function boils water quickly for cooking vegetables and heating up gyoza/dumplings up on the rack. I've only used the saute function once, and it seemed to work fine - if you have a free hob, using a pan is probably a little easier, just because the pot is quite deep so whatever you're frying will be a little less accessible. However, it works, and I could see a use case for the multicooker in a homes where there isn't a hob or even an oven. You could easily make all kinds of meals in it.

The 5.6ltr size gives the two of us about three portions each, depending on what we've made. We are pretty greedy though, so a more restrained eater could probably get a whole week of meals out of it.

The control functions are simple to use, with separate buttons for each of the functions and clearly labelled time and temperature controls. Definitely a relief compared to some newer touchscreen interfaces I've encountered in kitchen appliances.

One of the big pluses for me is that the pot is non-stick and, apart from being a little big and heavy, really easy to clean.

Overall, this is a versatile, generously sized, and well built cooker.


Philips Hue White Personal Wireless Lighting LED Starter Kit, Includes 2 x 9.5 W A60 E27 Edison Screw Bulbs, 1 x Hue Bridge 2.0, 1x Power adapter (Apple HomeKit Enabled)
Philips Hue White Personal Wireless Lighting LED Starter Kit, Includes 2 x 9.5 W A60 E27 Edison Screw Bulbs, 1 x Hue Bridge 2.0, 1x Power adapter (Apple HomeKit Enabled)
Price: £59.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The future - but with a couple of minor niggles, 17 Dec. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I buy a lot of gadgets and have a somewhat jaded perspective about what might be 'the future', but I genuinely think this kit is an early step in the future of lighting solutions.

Set up:
The quick start manual is about two pages long and consists of three steps: plug the bulbs in (I put mine in two floor lamps, as my pendant ceiling fixtures are bayonet rather than edison screw), connect the hub to your router using an ethernet cable, and download the app. The app itself has further easy to follow instructions: press the button on the hub when it asks in order to pair the app/bulbs/bridge.

You can then sign up for a Hue account to manage the bulbs remotely, but this is entirely optional. I decided to do so in order to test out the 'geo fencing' function and to scare my wife by turning the lights on when I was out.

Functionality:
Operation is really simple: dimming works with sliders, and there are a number of presets based on brightness level available: fairly bright for 'reading', dim for 'napping'. I really appreciate the ability to dim the lights, since I don't have any dimming switches installed - excellent that it can be achieved just through the bulb itself.

The usability of the app is fine, and I was able to set light alarms, and scheduled dimming easily. With all the talk about how bright light at night can adversely impact our circadian rhythms, it's a shame that Philips didn't include a lighting schedule based on location.

Geo-fencing is a particularly interesting feature that could have big implications for energy savings - if you have a gps enabled phone, you can set the bulbs to switch off when you leave the vicinity of your home, and to switch on when you get back. This is pretty mundane, but seeing the light come on through the window of my flat as I approached it felt kind of magical - futuristic.

Remote control allows the same level of control as you'd have in the home. If you don't tell your flatmate/partner/family that you've installed smart bulbs, it could be a great opportunity to stage a haunting...

Practical applications for this include making sure you've turned everything off if you aren't using geofencing or for scheduling the lights to come on when you're on holiday to deter prospective thieves.

The stability of the system has been pretty solid, although it did experience a few wobbles when I had to restart my router - the bridge connection was lost and it took quite a few tries to get it back. This, and the requirement for a separate hub (what if the bulbs could just connect to your router?), takes a star off.

But I'm really enjoying Hue in this iteration, and I expect it'll only get better.


Philips 5W (50W) 3000K 36D White GU10 LED Spot Light Bulbs (2 Pack)
Philips 5W (50W) 3000K 36D White GU10 LED Spot Light Bulbs (2 Pack)
Price: £9.48

4.0 out of 5 stars If you have a fairly small bathroom with white walls like I do, 7 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These bulbs are insanely bright. Maybe too bright, but I don't know if I can mark them down for that. If you have a fairly small bathroom with white walls like I do, then please consider buying dimmer bulbs unless you want a shock whenever you look in the mirror. I have four downlight sockets and could probably get away with only using two of these LEDs. My wife is pressuring me to replace them with dimmer bulbs since our bathroom now has a certain surgical quality to it.

The mark down of a star is because the GU10 standard is really annoying to fit.


Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen to Music Now
Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen to Music Now
by Ben Ratliff
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm a music lover and I often find it difficult to explain why I love certain bands and composers, 6 Dec. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Writing about something as personal and subjective as music is tough. I'm a music lover and I often find it difficult to explain why I love certain bands and composers, but not others. It's often an attempt to quantify the unquantifiable. That's what this book tries to do - to create mechanical criteria for how we enjoy music.

It's an interesting premise and I actually found myself agreeing with his reasoning in most cases. We do have an unparalleled variety of music at our fingertips, giving us a unique opportunity to try out and understand other genres and styles. Read the book with Spotify or Youtube alongside and you'll get a lot more out of it - especially if you aren't familiar with some of the more obscure artists he references.

Despite the premise being interesting, I found the actual writing a little hard to digest. For that reason I've been picking at it now and then rather than reading it for hours. Some of the concepts mentioned do resurface in my memory when I'm listening to music, but I'm not sure that this understanding actually enhances my listening enjoyment.

Overall, I think this one is probably for existing fans of the writer or for record store employees who might gain a few tools for recommending similar artists based on the techniques used.


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