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Apollo 11 (UK)
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Melissa & Doug Deluxe Grocery Store/ Lemonade Stand
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Grocery Store/ Lemonade Stand
Price: 83.60

4.0 out of 5 stars Fab, fab, fab..., 5 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Don't know who was the more excited - me, finding this, or the five year old who got it for her birthday. What's not in doubt is how fab this is for any child who loves playing shops. The box says for '3 years +' but in terms of actual height, the grocery store will last for years. (In fact, I'd say the child in the photo is probably about seven or eight.)

As mentioned in another review on here, once built from its flat-pack arrival, the grocery store is very sturdy - and while it's not cheap, for its size and the many years of play it will service, I reckon this is a good investment. I particularly like the little blackboards attached to each bucket on the store front: as kids take to numbers, you'll be able to write prices up and test their adding skills.

There's a fair bit of construction to do. Nothing complicated, just a lot of bolts to slot in and secure. And my only criticism is that some of the drilled holes weren't aligned, and the bolts provided are soft, to the extent that they began to strip as we worked the misaligned holes and bolts together. That said, once its built, it really will survive any amount of rough and tumble.

Note to parents: the store doesn't come with any of the fruit shown in the picture, so be prepared to buy some separates. However, if you shop around there are some cheap wooden groceries, fruit and vegetables to be found online.

All in all, a great plaything. I wish I'd had one of these when I was a kid.


Philips GC4511/20 Azur Performer Steam Iron with 180 g Steam Boost, 300 ml, 2400 Watt, Blue
Philips GC4511/20 Azur Performer Steam Iron with 180 g Steam Boost, 300 ml, 2400 Watt, Blue
Price: 65.00

5.0 out of 5 stars My new favourite iron!, 31 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There's only so many bells and whistles you can hang on a classic invention - but I'd say this iron warrants five-stars for its quirks.

Something I noticed straightaway was the tapering of the iron's tip. It may seem like a little thing, but by giving this model a sharper, tapered tip, allows for greater precision ironing shirt details. The weight is fairly standard (not heavy), but the glide is excellent - and (selling point, ahoy) this model has a removable plug to help remove calcium build-ups.

So many times I've almost ironed a full shirt, only to have a dirty calcium build-up spit out onto (yes, it's always the front of) the garment. And no matter how conscientious I am, these calcium build-ups keep happening once an iron has been in use for six months or so.

A problem which this Philips, thanks to (how simple was this to solve?) a removable plug at the back of the iron - which allows for the inner tank to be swilled out and cleaned.

This is my new favourite iron, for sure - and believe me, I'm fussy about my ironing.

Highly recommended.


My Salinger Year
My Salinger Year
by Joanna Smith Rakoff
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A luminous, evergreen tale..., 31 Aug 2014
This review is from: My Salinger Year (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Gorgeous. Wouldn't call myself a Salinger fan - nor young, wanting tips on how to get into publishing or become a writer. But I loved this nevertheless - simply because there's something otherworldly about this tale of a young woman's post-Masters deviation into full-time employment. It's certainly not of this age: reads more like a Fifties novella, with all the romance and attention to detail that era suggests.

Granted, being set in the Nineties, the tale refreshingly excludes contemporary obsessions (with self-esteem through social media and/or technology) but, still, there's a luminous, evergreen quality to Smith Rakoff's memoir that I found truly endearing. There's naivety, albeit balanced with keen-eyed observations of everyday grace - and the author's crisp prose style bears just the right tang of melancholia.

In fact, while this is a memoir, it actually reads more like fiction, it's that evocative.

Beautiful.


Philips GC8616/30 PerfectCare Aqua Iron Steam Generator with One Perfect Temperature and 240 g Steam Boost, 2500 ml, 2400 Watt, 5 Bar, Lilac
Philips GC8616/30 PerfectCare Aqua Iron Steam Generator with One Perfect Temperature and 240 g Steam Boost, 2500 ml, 2400 Watt, 5 Bar, Lilac
Price: 149.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Make's life easy..., 28 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This iron has some fantastic features. It heats up in 2 minutes, to a heat that allows you to iron quickly and efficiently. It glides easily over clothes, and the iron itself is lightweight and small, idea for delicate materials.

The drawback, however - slight but fundamental -- is that the base (containing the water) is heavy; and if sat on the ironing board, makes things unstable. Likewise, the hose isn't quite long enough to have it on the floor. Therefore, like me, you'll probably want to stand it on a handy chair.

That said, it iron makes quick work of a family of five's ironing. And that can't be bad!


Pasta: The Essential New Collection from the Master of Italian Cookery
Pasta: The Essential New Collection from the Master of Italian Cookery
by Antonio Carluccio
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Truly scrumptious!, 21 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Quite possibly the best pasta cookbook I've read. You'd expect it from Caluccio, but the book is nevertheless gorgeous. Walk into a bargain bookstore, and you'll see oodles of pasta recipe books. But this, well, this is creme. Broken down into two parts: 'All About' and 'Recipes', the various chapters cover just about everything you'll ever need to know.

There's an excellent section on making (and identifying), the many different pastas, sauces, crucial Italian ingredients (and their roots), and with recipes broken down into... 'pastas in soup', '... with sauces', 'baked...', 'pasta salads and leftovers' and '...as deserts' it's certainly thorough.

A great touch is how each recipe bears a small map, highlighting which region of Italy it came from. There's a paragraph from Carluccio himself on why it's a necessary part of the book - and the recipes are excellently laid out and clear.

Most of all, this is a beautiful book to look at. Quadrille are the Michelin star of cook books, and their designs, photography and layouts are, in my opinion, the best on the shelf today.

Truly scrumptious - and highly recommended.


AmazonBasics 10-Inch Black Sleeve for iPad Air / Kindle 8.9 Inch Tablet
AmazonBasics 10-Inch Black Sleeve for iPad Air / Kindle 8.9 Inch Tablet
Price: 5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic for the iPad Air, 9 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Great, great protection for the iPad. I've a few Amazon Basics, and they've all been excellent quality - but this iPad sleeve is the best so far. Made out of what feels like a diver's dry-suit type material, the sleeve is really well padded. The fit is snug but not tight, and if you're someone who takes theirs out of the house a lot, this has got to be the perfect sleeve for protection in bags.

And while it might be labelled a basic, in terms of look, the sleeve - in my opinion -- is far cooler than those bright, and rather fussy, coloured ones you can get.

Highly recommended.


Ultrasport Men's T-Shirt V-Neck  - Black, Small
Ultrasport Men's T-Shirt V-Neck - Black, Small
Price: 14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Cool; keeps its shape!, 19 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Not up on the special processes used to make this t-shirt, but I was nevertheless surprised how cool it is to wear. I've only worn it during the day, not on a sports field, but I'd recommend this as a great, breathing t-shirt, that won't have you clammy.

Just as importantly, it washes well and retains its shape. So, for the money, this is a great buy.


NOCO G7200UK Genius Smart Battery Charger
NOCO G7200UK Genius Smart Battery Charger
Price: 39.57

5.0 out of 5 stars My new BEST charger..., 19 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm not a mechanic, and will happily admit my knowledge of what goes on under the hood is limited - but this charger put my old one in the shade. Okay, it costs a little more than the average charger - but I can't imagine ever needing another one, this is so comprehensive. There are a couple of features I've not had to use (to save a majorly damaged battery, and because I only have the one car, haven't used anything but the 24V setting), but this is a great and responsive tool to use. There's a percentage counter, so you can see how fast this model works - and (a little thing I know, but) the connector leads are plenty long enough to make recharging a car battery easy in these days of not necessarily parking your car in the garage.

Really like that this model will give you an 'error' message if you've connected it incorrectly - and while the instructions are a bit on the tiny side, it doesn't require an electronics degree to get the most out of what is clearly a well designed machine.

Highly recommended.


Linksys EA6400 Dual Band AC1600 Smart Wi-Fi Router with Gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0
Linksys EA6400 Dual Band AC1600 Smart Wi-Fi Router with Gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0
Price: 80.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Great (but instructions could be better), 17 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've had this up and running for three weeks now and, living in a two-floor house, it's served us pretty well. Some folks have complained that it's complicated to set up - and to an extent, I agree it could be simpler. There's little instruction beyond some basic steps; and I think this could have done with a couple of paragraphs on what it actually does - and how. I say that because the fact this booster doesn't just spread extra signal, but in fact has the facility to offer specific streams to named devices (including a 'guest' stream for visitors) is great... and actually simple to set up once you're running.

That said, getting this going is a bit trial and error... and there's a curious mind at work if, once they've told you to unplug your existing router in order to supplant this between it and your computer, they advise you to consult a web page if you're struggling to make sense of it all. Personally, I got by just plugging the thing in and making some educated guesses as to what I was supposed to do - but for the first ten minutes I could be found cursing the makers for sending something so bizarrely lacking in basic instruction.

But... once you're up, it's good. That said, like all routers, it can't do the impossible and push strong signal through brick walls. So if you're on separate floors and opposite corners of a house, you're still likely to find yourself walking your iPad closer in order to get an extra bar of signal.

But, for the money, I'd say (and it does seem that most of the boosters out there lack instruction) it does what you need!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 19, 2014 6:58 AM BST


Galt Toys Art Jar
Galt Toys Art Jar
Price: 14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great for the money!, 17 Jun 2014
This review is from: Galt Toys Art Jar (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For the money, this is excellent. The four- and ten year-old sisters squealed with excitement, and that, I reckon, is the marker. Four weeks later, and they're still dipping into it; and it's still got untold treasure swishing around inside.

Some reviewers have grumbled about the amount of paper (creped and shredded), but I think they're expecting too much. if you tried to buy everything that was in this jar individually, it'd cost way more than the asking price. And to focus on the larger paper content, is to ignore everything else contained.

To be honest, I was as excited by this as the kids I gave it to - and I can't say its lost its thrill yet.

Go on, you know you want to!


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