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Quiverbow (Kent, England)
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Olympus Stylus Tough TG-860 Camera - Orange
Olympus Stylus Tough TG-860 Camera - Orange
Price: £241.55

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When the going gets Tough, 22 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Throw anything at this and it will take it in its stride. Drop it, submerge it, freeze it, step on it, leave it outside in all weathers and you'll know why this is the Rambo of the camera world.

First off, this is a smart looking compact. The orange front flash is joined by a sliver of colour along the top. The same colour text on black, and the white Olympus logo on the grip sets it off nicely. It's also light (weighing less than 8oz – including battery and card) meaning it's easy to shoot one-handed. The thumb rest and, admittedly small, grip along with all the buttons and dials fall easy to hand. But it's more than just a camera in armour.

When most compacts start at around 28mm, this sports a wide angle lens with the equivalent of 21-105mm (though at f3.5-f5.7, it's a tad slow), the zoom activation is neither a button nor a switch. It's something in between, being a rubber lever, which looks and feels as if it will break off anytime soon. (It won't; it just feels like it.) Although it's a 5x zoom, there is a digital option to increase this to 20x in Program mode but that comes with an expected degradation of quality. There is an option called 'Super-Res Zoom', which is 10x and is restricted to the 16M image size, that is supposed to negate any of that degradation but I can't really see any difference. Back to the lens, I don't think those at whom this is aimed will be particularly worried about the speed.

One thing I haven't seen on any camera is a double tripod mount. Usually, you have to rotate the tripod head 90° for portrait photos but the TG-860 uses the second side mount for this. Another feature I found interesting was a second shutter button similar to an Fn button. Mostly used for taking a self-portrait, when the screen is rotated, the camera can be turned upside down so this button is at the top for easier use (the picture can be inverted). However, if such an option doesn't interest you, the front button can be programmed for one of five alternate uses (as can the red video button).

Showing a live view, you can control this camera remotely via a smartphone but only in iAuto or Program modes. The latter of these allows you to alter ISO, zoom, white balance, drive mode and exposure (+/-2), whilst the former lets you control zoom and self-timer options. Unfortunately, you can't use any of the other modes when tethered.

Commonplace with Olympus cameras, this camera includes 20 scene modes and seven art filters and as always these are accessed from a combination of the mode dial and arrow pad. The problem here is that due to its small footprint, the camera controls also have to be reduced in size and that may be an issue for those with big hands or if you're wearing gloves. Something else the company has to sort out is the use of their own leads. The battery for the TG-860 has to be charged in situ, so there isn't any reason for getting a second battery, and if you don't have the supplied lead to hand, or can get hold of one, you're in trouble. Olympus, make it generic next time!

Because the battery, SD card and the two ports are all in the same side compartment, sealed with a rubber gasket and opened with a lock and a latch (in that order), I didn't have any worry about dunking it in the sink. It worked perfectly immediately after. However, if you want to get at anything within the compartment after, you'll have to wait for it to dry before accessing this. The dog ran around with it in his mouth before dropping it down the steps when he realised he would have trouble carrying it down. I have yet to keep it in the freezer overnight or stamp on it.

Within the menu is an option to be able to view your photos without turning on the camera. Okay, it has to do that to a certain extent, but none of the controls are usable in this mode. Those photos need a memory card, as the internal memory is a mere 37MB, enough space for four photos or nine seconds of video at top resolution. A burst mode in full resolution of around 7fps is limited to seven photos before writing to the card, though there is a 2.5fps (200 photos) option if you want to shoot longer. Alongside this is a 60fps alternative but at the much lower resolution of 3M.

One caveat is that although this camera is crush proof up to 15st and shockproof from about seven feet, all bets are off if the screen is in the 'selfie' position. It may sound a silly thing to say what with all the TG-860 can go through, but you still need a case and a screen protector. After all, unless in a fit of pique, I doubt anyone deliberately treads on their camera or throws it on to a concrete floor. Unless it's in the course of a review. And don't be fooled by the claim that a manual is in the box. All you get is a very basic 2½ pages in 29 languages. You have to download it or take it from the enclosed CD. Either way, it's unacceptable. I'm sure Olympus isn't the only guilty manufacturer, but what is someone supposed to do if they want to know how to action something?

If you're looking for a straight compact camera, there are plenty of alternatives out there but if you want something more versatile, this is well worth a look. Yes, there are some features missing but that's offset by those that are included. At this price point, compromises have to be made.

Alongside that nice bright orange colour, it's also available in the usual black or white.

Wide angle lens.
Excellent quality pictures.
Two tripod mounts.
Go anywhere.
GPS and Wi-Fi.
Looks good.

No full printed manual.
Flash is a bit weak.
Battery can only be charged in-camera.
Proprietary charging lead needed (supplied).
Those with large hands might find the buttons too small.
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Becko 44-inch Stick Black Manual Opened and Closed Straight Shank Strong 24 Fiber Bids Windproof Travel Golf Umbrella (Black)
Becko 44-inch Stick Black Manual Opened and Closed Straight Shank Strong 24 Fiber Bids Windproof Travel Golf Umbrella (Black)
Offered by Eguo
Price: £28.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Toodle-uma-luma*, 21 April 2015
"We here by sincerely invite you to have a free trial of the following item." Hmm, a windproof travel golf umbrella. Sounds interesting.

It's an umbrella. It's a nice looking umbrella too. What it isn't is a golfing umbrella, which was my reason for getting it. Having got over this not actually being what it's promoted as, it's actually a rather decent Oriental looking rain defence mechanism. Coming in it's own sleeve with shoulder strap, this has 24 'spokes' that have enough give in them not to be trashed in a high wind. (Not that it's been windy, nor, indeed, rained since I got this.)

Previously, other umbrellas I've possessed have had a small release button but this has a fairly large (in terms of the item itself) pad that's easy to use with your thumb. The handle has a thick rubber/foam base to get a good grip on things, topped off with a wrist strap. When it's closed, the texture makes it feel like a Chinese fan. Mine was black but there are other colours available; well red or blue.

*For those unaware, the review title is part of the chorus to a song, 'The Umbrella Man'.

This was sent to me by the manufacturer for review purposes.

Meat Claws - Pulled Pork Claws - Shredder Bear Claws - Meat Handler Forks - Carving Forks - BBQ Shredding Forks - Best BBQ Meat Claw- Barbecue - Barbecue Gifts - Barbecue Accessories - BBQ Tools - BBQ Supplies - Pork Shredder - Bear Claws for Pulling Pork - Bear Claw Meat Shredder BBQ - BBQ Smoker Accessories - BBQ Pork - Best BBQ Tools - BBQ Smoking Accessories - Barbecue Tools Grill Accessories - Shred Meat Like A Bear - Best Selling- The Perfect Barbecue & Grill Tool - Kodiak Klaws - Kitchen Forks - Spaghetti Forks - Salad Forks - Mixer - Meat Forks
Meat Claws - Pulled Pork Claws - Shredder Bear Claws - Meat Handler Forks - Carving Forks - BBQ Shredding Forks - Best BBQ Meat Claw- Barbecue - Barbecue Gifts - Barbecue Accessories - BBQ Tools - BBQ Supplies - Pork Shredder - Bear Claws for Pulling Pork - Bear Claw Meat Shredder BBQ - BBQ Smoker Accessories - BBQ Pork - Best BBQ Tools - BBQ Smoking Accessories - Barbecue Tools Grill Accessories - Shred Meat Like A Bear - Best Selling- The Perfect Barbecue & Grill Tool - Kodiak Klaws - Kitchen Forks - Spaghetti Forks - Salad Forks - Mixer - Meat Forks
Offered by Walsh Fellow
Price: £19.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Freddie Krueger 0 Kodiak Klaws 1, 21 April 2015
The first time I ever came across shredded pork was in Faversham where a lady was busily trying to shred the stuff with who-knows-what in an attempt to fill a receptacle where the adjacent burgers came into use. She could have done with a pair of these Kodiak Klaws (though, and I'm guessing Kodiak is from the bear of the same name, the logo looks like a lion).

Okay, they're plastic but are easy to use and surprisingly comfortable to hold. My only reservation is that the underside of the 'claws' are hollow, which may cause detritus, etc. to lodge in there making it difficult to clean thoroughly. However, as that isn't an insurmountable issue, I can only report that, having used them a lot, these work and do indeed shred whatever it is in front of them. Chicken, pork, lamb all ended up the way it should be when faced with 'the claws'. Also useful for picking up the joint when transferring it from the oven tray to the cutting board. (They'll also be useful for scaring people on Halloween.)

A short review yes, but there's not much to say about basic kitchen equipment that performs as it should. Handy to have.

I was sent this by the manufacturer for review purposes.

byteStor Pro 32GB USB 3.0 High Speed Flash Drive - Black
byteStor Pro 32GB USB 3.0 High Speed Flash Drive - Black
Price: £9.22

3.0 out of 5 stars Bytes and pieces, 18 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A few years ago, this amount of capacity would have been jaw dropping but now it's an exercise in shoulder shrugging. This flash drive is listed as being 32GB, though the available space is 28.8GB. How does that work out when less than 100KB of space is used when you first plug it in?

It came in 'frustration free' packaging, which means, as sometimes is the case, you don't need a circular saw to open it. Whilst it certainly looks cheap and arrived in a plastic tray that seemed as if it might be a stray lid for something else, does anyone buy a flash drive for it's aesthetic qualities?

I don't hate it (one star), nor do I love it (five stars), but it works, which is why it gets three stars.

Tefal Pro Express Total X-pert GV8975 Steam Generator - 2400 Watt
Tefal Pro Express Total X-pert GV8975 Steam Generator - 2400 Watt
Price: £290.44

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seeing this, I wish I was allowed to iron, 15 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Well, this seemed just the right thing to replace our 'on-its-last-legs' Hoover Ironspeed. Yes it irons as well (sometimes better) but there are a few things (other than it works properly) that makes this preferable.

The main thing that I noticed is the power lead doesn't hang down and lie all over the place when not in use. Oh no. This bad boy has a system like many vacuums; it disappears inside itself at the press of a button. Where else it beats the iron we've been using (actually that should read "the iron she's been using") is that the handle of the iron doubles up as the carry handle for the whole thing. Yes it's fairly heavy but it is a beast of a machine, and with the large reservoir, you won't need to fill it too often. It's also quick to heat, taking less than two minutes to be ready. The iron itself is surprisingly light and if I didn't know better, I'd have said it glides across the fabrics on its own.

Strangely, it's never occurred to me before but some people think of an iron, hoover, etc. as furnishings, so have to look the part. I have to say this is aesthetically pleasing. 'Er indoors says this is a great iron to have and has cut down the time it takes by half. (I suggested she get another one and cut it out altogether.)

The only issue possible buyers might have is with the sheer size of the thing. You can't leave it on the ironing board, so you'll have to find space somewhere. Something to add to the 'potential' column when deciding on her birthday present.

Graco Ready2Grow Click Connect LX Stroller, Glacier
Graco Ready2Grow Click Connect LX Stroller, Glacier

4.0 out of 5 stars Strolling along, 14 April 2015
A two-seater, not only is this very versatile and a beast of a pushchair, it's also one of the easiest to fold. Whereas the Britax B-Agile is a two-handed affair, the Graco needs only half that number of limbs for the folding operation. However, it is a tad heavy. It's available in two different trims; Glacier (this one) and Gotham (a darker fabric and lighter frame).

A chair such as this needs a good set of wheels and that's exactly what you get here. They're large enough not to get stuck anywhere. The swivel front wheels make it nicely manoeuvrable, having a very small turning circle and you really can turn on that proverbial sixpence. Unlike shopping trolleys, these wheels can be fixed if you feel the need. Where it does suffer is in trying to negotiate steps. The weight could mean some users may struggle, especially if the rear seat is occupied.

The harness and buckles are both sturdy and safe (you wouldn't expect anything else), the brakes are equally as good with easy access to the foot pad in the middle of the rear axle bar. But will your small fry be comfortable on their travels? There is plenty of back rest, as there is leg rest but the foot rest is a bit plasticky. Whilst both seats can be removed and replaced with an appropriate car seat, the rear can double-up as either a bench seat or a standing platform. (What you need to bear in mind is that the front seat has a maximum weight of 50lbs, the rear seat 40lbs, and the bench seat also 50lbs.) There are a dozen seat combinations.

For the one pushing, as well as that good mobility, there is a nice deep basket underneath with your own tray below the handlebar. Incorporated within that tray is a folding cup-holder. Genius! Those handlebars. Nice and big with plenty of padding, the middle has a plastic twist grip with a switch. Flick it to the right and twist the grip and the catches are released, making it easy to push and fold the chair with one hand. It folds to half its height and can stand upright thanks to two protrusions on the rear axle. However, when folded it's actually longer, which means it will take up a fair amount of boot space. Along with it's fairly hefty weight, this isn't a pushchair for the dainty.

Is it better than the Britax? It's more versatile as regards seating arrangements but not as light. It's easier to fold but takes up more space.

This was tried and utilised at an Amazon testing event and as everything was already assembled, I can't comment on the ease or otherwise of that.

Britax B-Agile Double Black
Britax B-Agile Double Black

4.0 out of 5 stars Side by side, 14 April 2015
One for your double troubles. This is a nice looking pushchair available in just two fabrics; neon black or chilli pepper. That might be an issue for some but anyway...

The single, larger, rear wheels are complimented by a double set at the front that will soak up any rough ground because of the suspension. They're also wide enough not to get caught on anything. Because of its size, the brake has to be substantial and it is, though it has just the one pedal on the right hand side. Due to their swivel action, what may appear to be a cumbersome looking chair is very easy to manoeuvre, with a narrow turning circle.

Coming as either a pair or with not much gap between them, you'll want this pushchair comfortable for your precious cargo and this does the job. The seat padding is probably better than that on the back whilst the harness and buckles are up to the required standard (could they be anything less?). Those seats are multi positional, also being able to lay flat. Though front facing only, the right hand one can be removed to be replaced by rear facing car seat. It's unfortunate that the adaptors for this are an optional extra.

Mum will have plenty of space for bits and pieces, as the underneath basket is of a decent size and there are two decent sized pockets in the rear of the canopies. As for folding, this is the part I have an issue with. Unlike the double seat Graco Ready2Grow, this isn't a single handed operation. The adjustable handle is well padded and needs to be moved to its forward position if you want to stand it upright after, and a button on the side has to be clicked in place. So far so good. However, you then need both hands to pull two straps in the seats. Yes it's a swift action, is light to carry and if you have twins is well worth a look, but, for me, it's the folding that takes this down a notch. Also be aware that this is 31 inches wide and the usual width of a door is slightly narrower.

There are plenty of accessories for this; a carrycot, the car seat, three versions of cosytoes; a nursery bag, a play tray, a raincover (though one is included), an organiser, and the click and go adaptors.

This was tried and utilised at an Amazon testing event and as everything was already assembled, I can't comment on the ease or otherwise of that.

Maclaren Globetrotter Buggy (Black)
Maclaren Globetrotter Buggy (Black)
Price: £108.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Not one for a trip around the world, 14 April 2015
What is the main criteria when choosing a pushchair? Safety? Comfort? Ease of use? It's all three. When it comes to this Maclaren chair, there are areas where it's lacking.

The wheels are small but sufficient size but that causes an issue in that you can feel every bump travel up to the handles. The four double wheels make it easy to manoeuvre and it certainly doesn't move once the brake (which could and should be bigger) has been applied. I'm not sure how an occupant will fare as the back rest seems far too hard and lacks suitable padding, though the seat is adequately covered. What I do like is the aircraft style buckle release on the five point harness. (All pushchairs have five-point harnesses.) The cover does its job but I think the foot rest isn't sturdy enough; there's too much 'give' in it, though that's more than likely a deliberate design for the folding element.

The folding part is simple enough, using the red footpad at the rear and it is light to carry. And that is the target market. A quick trip out when you don't need anything personal to carry. The carry basket is too small to get excited about but the main reservation with this particular pushchair (I refuse to use the word buggy or that awful Americanism, 'stroller') is the handlebar. Whilst satisfactory to hold, they are open, which can cause a problem. I've seen people hang shopping bags over the handles, stop to talk to someone, take their hands away and watched as the whole thing toppled backwards.

As an aid for transporting a toddler from A to B it's capable. If you want to wander around for any length of time, look elsewhere. Yes, I realise this is at the lower end of the market but, like car seats, you don't compromise when it comes to your children.

This was tried and used at an Amazon testing event and as everything was already assembled, I cannot comment on the ease or otherwise of that.

Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2015
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2015
by Edited by Lawrence Booth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £45.00

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of the Year. Again, 13 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Many people are erroneously dubbed a 'National Treasure' by the media but if that sobriquet can be bestowed upon anything, it's the non-fiction book of the year (and every year since 1864 come to that); Wisden Cricketers' Almanack.

Alongside the usual stuffed-to-bursting facts and figures of all the matches played to the end of 2014, the writing within is, as always, top-notch. A few pages shy of last year's almanack, the editorial contains articles on sobriquets, 125 years of the County Championship and a too short piece on cricket table top games (I still have my Subbuteo set under the bed - complete with scorecards, and Owzat!). The notes from the editor are always interesting, and this year he has a warranted dig at the BCCI accusing the WICB of not giving any thought to the future of the game when they [West Indies] cancelled a tour. Oh how I chuckled at their rank hypocrisy. In reviewing Kevin Pietersen's autobiography in that particular section, Patrick Collins rips apart the contents and then burns the pages.

Each year the obituaries show how quickly that scourge of us all, time, is moving. With the death of 103 year old Norman Gordon, cricket lost its last link with pre-war Test matches. Long overdue is an update to the obituaries of those who had a link to the game but were overlooked at the time of their death; Bobby Moore, actors Trevor Howard and Basil Radford, and poet Siegfried Sassoon are included.

One thing many look forward to are the awards and this year a new accolade is in place; that of 'Leading Woman Cricketer' - it's Australian Meg Lanning - an annual award that many (myself included) think should have been in situ well before now. The choices of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year in Moeen Ali, Gary Ballance, Adam Lyth, Angelo Mathews and Jeetan Patel will always be subjective, which, in some way, is the idea. Then again, cricket is an opinion based game.

Something I'd like to see added is attendance figures for individual Championship matches. Their overall totals (for eight home games) are there, but I guess the counties don't want anyone to share their embarrassment. It's easy to work out though. Yes, I know play doesn't always happen on each available day but allowing for the maximum of 32 days of possible cricket, Sussex averaged around 1,271 per day whilst Leicestershire attracted a miserable 295. No wonder the four day game is suffering.

Be grateful that you won't have to read about England's humiliation/capitulation/disgrace/thrashing* in the (much too long) World Cup until next year. Something must be done and there is one English player who is the best top order player in the world and would save the national side further embarrassment in limited overs cricket. Unfortunately, it's Sarah Taylor.

Indulging yourself in Wisden will make the possible poor start to the season of your team a bit more tolerable. (In Kent's case, the poor start, middle and end of their season is something that's been accepted for years.) You know the format, you know what to expect inside and you know you're going to buy this.

*even though they're all relevant, delete as applicable.

This Is Merseybeat 1963
This Is Merseybeat 1963

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The beat goes on, 10 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: This Is Merseybeat 1963 (Audio CD)
Just to confirm any possible confusion. The original pair of Oriole LPs had 24 tracks; the Edsel reissue had 29 songs. This is the former of the two.

Back in 1963, there wasn't much happening on the British music scene. The charts were a mixture of USA artists and home grown anodyne singers. The country was a haven of somnambulism as far as music was concerned. Then something that had been stirring came to the boil. The UK music industry suddenly came alive. Of the hundreds of groups plying their trade, The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers took over the charts and every A&R man headed to the north east to get a slice of the pie. Sensing an opportunity to cash-in on this burgeoning market, Oriole took it upon themselves to sign up a bus-load of artists from this modern day Klondike to bring out a couple of compilation LPs.

Other than those mentioned above, this is first rate Merseybeat. The ten artists all had singles released and all paid their dues on the live circuit to hone their skills and act; the groups were having a great time and thought a single or two on an obscure label meant they had 'made it'. Unfortunately, bar The Merseybeats, the one-take songs that make up all the tracks show why none of them went further. The main problem was too many groups and not enough songs, and even at this early stage, none could come anywhere near John and Paul in the vocal and writing department.

It all begins with an introduction by Bill Harry, if three words can be called such a thing, over the opening of 'Let's Stomp' (the second best thing here), Rory Storm's 'Beautiful Dreamer' is the contemporary version; Mark Peters, Earl Preston and Sonny Webb have paper thin voices, 'Nashville Blues' by The Del-Renas is the best track on the CD, and for some reason 'Some Day', courtesy of Mark Peters and the Silhouettes has been remixed. Though the sleeve photo doesn't indicate so, my copy does. It may be 'garage band' stuff and most of it leaves much to be desired, but that's what makes it good.

It's a shame the LP cover couldn't be duplicated to include Bill Harry's sleeve notes but if you're a student of the era, this is a must have. It's Merseybeat; everything else is just silence. And you know that can't be bad.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 15, 2015 5:07 PM BST

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