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Bernardette Lugner (Manchester, UK)
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NIVEA MEN Sensitive Shower Gel 250ml
NIVEA MEN Sensitive Shower Gel 250ml
Offered by Kiara World
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars You can get yaself clean . . ., 29 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is very pleasant shower gel, with almost no perfume. The pack is neat and doesn't fall over when balanced on the edge of the bath. It is a good step up from the very cheap gels that supermarkets sell as own-brand, which are a lot like washing up liquid. At the same time, it is not so pricey that you would worry about leaving it behind in the gym.

Nice one, Nivea, and a neat way of upping your Amazon purchase to hit the free delivery threshold.


Finish All in One Max Original Dishwasher Tablets (Pack of 74)
Finish All in One Max Original Dishwasher Tablets (Pack of 74)
Price: £20.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Squeaky clean finish, 29 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Long-time dishwasher users, like me, will have discovered that even the cheapest dishwasher powder from a budget supermarket, does work. The question is, how well?

The Finish brand has long been a trusted guarantee of good performance, since before tablets existed, but I only used it from time to time. A combination of cheap powder and a good rinse-aid seemed to work well enough here in North West England where the water is medium-soft, you don't need salt, and you don't get lime scale. These Finish tablets soon made me realise I can do better!

With no rinse aid - just a Finish tablet - everything came out squeaky clean on a 50 degree wash. Especially noticeable was the cleaning effect on stainless steel cutlery, which looked far brighter than before, and I always pack a lot into the cutlery basket. The tablets also score for convenience. You don't unwrap them, just pop one into the dispenser.

I hope the wrappers will protect me against the dangerous ingredients without really needing the eye protection specified on the pack. Now whether all the claimed ingredients really do anything useful, or whether they are like miracle KP-97 in my toothpaste, I don't know, but it is obvious that Finish tablets do a great job. Yes, you can get away cheaper, but it seems that in this case you pay a bit more, you get a bit more.


Ebuyer.com Calendar Year A1 2015 Wall Planner
Ebuyer.com Calendar Year A1 2015 Wall Planner
Offered by Ebuyer UK Limited
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Plain, decent planner, 22 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A plain and simple planner for not much money. I like the semi-matt finish, making it easy to write on, and I snipped the adverts off the bottom. Shows UK Bank Holidays only, but lacks week numbers. It's earning its keep on my office wall.


Wasp
Wasp
by Ian Garbutt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dark Side of Eighteenth Century Society, 22 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Wasp (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Wasp is a tale of an eighteenth century fallen woman. Like so many others, she is taken from a brothel, a gutter, a jail, or in this case a private asylum. As in so many books from Fanny Hill onwards, she arrives in the big city, and is trained in the ways of a house of pleasure. We get to know her companions, the business of the House of Masques, its wealthy clients, and the details of her training. Here, beautiful young women are dressed up and hired out as escorts who can be shown off in company as expensive, status-enhancing curiosities. They are not, at least in theory, prostitutes, yet they lack the social power of courtesans. If you can last through the first 100 pages of this conventional plot line, you will understand the dark side of society where everything in the book happens, and the real story begins.

Ian Garbutt quickly draws us into an eighteenth century ambience. His language, his detailed descriptions of his characters emotions and appearance, his seriousness and sense of purpose all keep us reading on, despite the slow development of the plot. There is no attempt to imitate historic speech, but Garbutt is convincing by having all the characters use formal language. One supposes that the big city is London, although there is no description of place beyond a handsome square, some fine houses, slums and docks. Carriages lurch, sedan chairs hustle.

This is a novel that depends on the engaging characters rather than an absorbing story. Our heroine is Bethany, later called by her working name, Wasp, and we gradually learn her back story. She is tougher, more intelligent and less innocent than we might at first think. The other women of the House are all ex-criminals, ex-whores, or somehow “ruined”. In the much faster-paced second half of the book, we learn about some of them, too. We also learn about the highly competent, ruthless men who work for, and belong to, the House: a freed African slave, a former doctor, and a dwarf coachman. Although they are not main characters, Garbutt cleverly uses them as the lubricants of his book, the men who make things happen. We see rather less of the secretive, clever and severe woman who owns and runs the House, the old and ill Abbess. Almost all of the characters have gripes of some kind, arising from the past troubles of their lives. I could not help thinking that “gripe” is Ian Garbutt’s favourite word, and we get it often, as noun, verb, illness and complaint.

So where does Wasp’s story end? How does her character find its development? She can hardly escape back to her old home and employment, where her “ruin” took place. Jane Austen this definitely ain’t, so we won’t be concluding with a wedding to a rich man. I won’t spoil it for you, but I bet you’ll guess before you get to the last page.


Chromino Game
Chromino Game
Price: £17.64

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice game that may not hold your interest, 23 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Chromino Game (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Chromino is a domino variation, in which you must match colours. Each chromino has three coloured squares, and at least two colour matches must be made when you play each piece. The first player to play all his chrominos is the winner.

Rules are very simple, and the chrominos themselves are well made of smooth plastic and pleasant to handle. I tried the game with three children, aged four, seven, and eleven. All seemed to like the look of the game, and as we played, we liked the colourful pattern that the chrominos made. The four-year-old, as expected, found it too difficult to locate the required double matches of colour. The seven-year-old soon grasped the game, and played easily. The eleven-year-old and I soon got bored with the repetitive turns once we learned to scan the chrominos for possible matches and either line up our play or draw another piece from the bag. Pretty much the same thing happens every turn, so I do not think this game will stay interesting for long.


Architectural Styles: A Visual Guide
Architectural Styles: A Visual Guide
by Owen Hopkins
Edition: Flexibound
Price: £13.46

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine review and reference to visual styling in architecture, 23 Dec. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Architectural amateurs -- like me -- have a recurring question: "What am I actually looking at?". Hopkins' book elegantly provides the answer for almost any non-domestic building you might admire. This is not a book that you would read through and absorb. It is a strictly formatted reference work that enables you quickly to ascertain what period and type of architecture you are looking at, what its main characteristics are, and why it looks the way it does.

The format is simple, covering nine main periods from Classical and Early Christian through Gothic and Medieval, Renaissance and Mannerism, Baroque and Rococo, Neoclassicism, Eclecticism, Modernism, and After Modernism. Nearly half of the book is devoted to the last 100 years or so, giving wide coverage to modern movements. Within each period are sub-groups, and each of these subgroups, e.g. Italian Baroque, is given an introductory page plus six defining characteristics, as chosen by Hopkins -- you might not agree with his choices, but often I found that they gave me a new insight into a style I thought I knew something about. Each characteristic is explained in a single paragraph, and illustrated by a clear photograph. By the time you have read the introduction and the six paragraphs, and studied the six pictures, you are done.

Nearly all the photographs are a quarter page or less, so this is no coffee table book to be enjoyed for its impactful pictures, while every page is laid out in one of a few formal grids, as taught to beginners in desktop publishing. The design effect of the book is therefore quiet, and does not distract you from the text and illustrations.

At the back of the book is a brief list of further reading, which sent me rushing to my local library's online catalogue, and a useful glossary of architectural terms. This -- and maybe a dictionary -- will help, as even the very first page on Classical style mentioned trabeation and the news that the Minoans weren't interested in articulation. Neither word is in the glossary! Hopkins assumes that we are intelligent readers who will look up anything we do not readily understand.

The book has thick but soft covers, is a pleasure to handle and use, and would make a fine present for some one with an interest in the styles of the great buildings of the Western world.


ThinkFun Robot Turtles Board Game
ThinkFun Robot Turtles Board Game
Price: £20.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and learning for small children, 23 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this for a four-year-old, who has taken to it enthusiastically. The interaction between child and parent is a vital part of this entertaining and educational game, which introduces children to the logical thinking that is needed for programming. Adults need to take it light-heartedly, make funny turtle noises, and play for fun. I suspect that any attempt to "teach" or get results is going to be counter-productive. Children older than about seven or eight can learn by faster, more direct methods, but for pre-school children, this game, which needs no reading or writing, seems like a Good Thing.

The game is based on the Logo programming language, which dates form the late 1960s, and which featured the turtle, an imaginary animal with a pen in its tail. Commands made the turtle move and trace graphics, and the old turtle now turns up in modern form and with a laser on his back. Children use cards to give him commands so that he moves to claim a jewel. As the child acquires skill, obstacles are introduced by the adult player. The adult is supposed to move the turtle around the board, and the child can see what it does, give the next command, or put right anything that went wrong. There are no mistakes in this game,-- they are just bugs, and you can shout "bug!" then try something else until the turtle does what you wanted.

Our four-year-old also wanted to change places and move the turtle and although the game's designer does not encourage this, I think it helps the child realise what happens when a computer gets an instruction (don't mention computers!).

With a bit more playing, children will notice that some command sequences are used again and again, so the adult introduces the function frog. That means sequences like "shoot the laser, move forward, move forward" become a single command, just like a function in a program (don't mention programming!).

Everything is done with a bright board, pieces and cards. The tactile experience, shared with Mum or Dad and incorporating laughs and silly human sound effects, is way superior than using yet another nagging app on the old iPad. A few children can play at once as long as there is one adult, and this introduces new variations, like "what happens when turtles collide?".


3 x Hardwood & Parquet Floor Cleaner 1ltr
3 x Hardwood & Parquet Floor Cleaner 1ltr
Offered by Acdoco
Price: £17.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent cleaning and polishing performance, 23 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've been using this product for a couple of years now on my hardwood flooring, and am impressed by how easy it is to use, and the results.

I have found that the best way to use it is to dilute it 50-50 with water in a spray bottle, then spray it on the swept floor. This turned out to be less trouble than following the instructions on the bottle, and works for me. The trick is to spray generously on the high-wear areas, and skimp on the edges and corners where no one treads. Mop as you go, and there is no need to rinse or buff. The floor won't be very wet, so will dry fast. Your mop will pick up dirt from the floor surface, which the cleaner has loosened.

The cleaner leaves a slight waxy coating on the floor, a bit like one of those car-wash products that leave some wax on your car. The appearance is glossy, and makes the floor less likely to become wetted or stained by spills.


1989
1989
Offered by BestSellerRecordshop
Price: £7.58

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Taylor made for kids, 23 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 1989 (Audio CD)
Highly appealing to schoolchildren, Swift's over-processed voice sounds as if it was played on a synthesiser, with the same settings for every track, so it quickly loses interest for adults. My grand-daughter loved it, and appreciated the packaging, with its bunch of fake Polaroid photos and a booklet of lyrics -- vital for singing along. Definitely a dance hit for children's' parties, and a terrific present to give a primary-school age girl.


Verbatim 52612 LED Classic A B22 9 Watt Light Bulb
Verbatim 52612 LED Classic A B22 9 Watt Light Bulb
Offered by UK Home & Garden Store Ltd
Price: £9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality bulb is a good investment., 26 Nov. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Here's a trusted brand, Verbatim, being used on a light bulb and this certainly looks and feels like a quality product. This bulb is just about the same size as the 60W it is meant to replace, but much heavier. I popped it into a ceiling lamp, and got a very similar colour of light to the old incandescent, with instant start-up to full brightness. It actually appeared a little brighter than the old bulb.

It works perfectly. But is it worth spending 999p on? Here's my calculation:
The bulb saves 51Wh per hr, so if it is on for 3hr per day, it saves 0.153KWh each day.
At 14p per KWhr, that's 2.142p saved per day. So the pay-back time is 466 days, after which you will be saving £7.81 per year.
With a claimed lifetime of 20 years for the bulb, and a likelihood of costlier electricity in future, that seems like an easy decision.


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