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ian russell (UK)

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MASTERPROOFING® Round Banneton 1kg dough hold Basket-- 25*8cm
MASTERPROOFING® Round Banneton 1kg dough hold Basket-- 25*8cm
Offered by Masterproofing
Price: £13.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must have equipment for sourdough baking, imo, 19 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Good, solid, well made, cane banneton. Ideal size for a daily loaf. Light and easy to handle; no more mucking about with a bowl and floured tea-towel. Does give an attractive circles pattern to the top of the bread (will not affect the crust or taste). I would recommend this item for any enthusiastic homemade sourdough baker.

Derwent Canvas Pocket Pencil Wrap, 12 Pencil Storage Capacity
Derwent Canvas Pocket Pencil Wrap, 12 Pencil Storage Capacity
Price: £2.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal for outdoor sketching trips, 14 Jan. 2014
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I wanted a convenient way of holding pencils for outdoor sketching. I've started using both Derwent's Inktense water-soluble and Graphitint water-soluble pencils, trialing a standard 12 pencil tin of each type. At first, I tried using them out of the tins they came in but it's awkard to hold onto the tin and withdraw a particular colour; as I was standing in a muddy field, it was absolutely hopeless. Now that I've tried this wrap, it improves things immensely.

Despite some doubts after reading others reviews, I found the wrap carries 12 pencils easily, with enough slack to allow easy retrieval and replacement of individual pencil (of course, these are the Derwent branded pencils as specified earlier. However, they seem like standard sized pencils).

With the wrap folded, pencils enclosed, its slim enough for any pocket - even a shirt pocket. The way I use it is to open the wrap out and fold the flap right back to expose the pencils fully. Then I hold it tight to the back of the sketch pad (either A4 cartridge or a Moleskine) with the tips pointing up just above the top. I find I can hold the wrap and pad pretty well with one hand like this, while standing, leaving the other free to select a pencil and sketch. (Obviously, sitting to sketch will be even simpler, where convenient. Also, I'm wondering if a large bulldog clip might make holding even easier for longer studies).

For under five pounds, it's a really good product. Likely I'll be ordering a second for the other set of pencils soon.

The Man From Thrush
The Man From Thrush
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Guilty pleasures, everyone has them., 11 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: The Man From Thrush (MP3 Download)
It's Lalo Schifrin! The man who gave us the best TV theme tune of all time, ever: Mission:Impossible (you may prefer the newer movie versions but I think they've been mucked about with unnecessarily). Anyway! This isn't the M:I theme, it's The Man From Thrush from The Man From Uncle. Look, I didn't want Lalo Schifrin original and best M:I Theme to be Johnny No Mates on my player. This seemed like the perfect chaser, slower tempo, louche villain, lounge lizard jazz feel - it's the bloke from Thrush!! Look, it's Lalo Schifrin! That's all I needed to say.

Regatta Mens Premium Workwear Belt With Stretch (One Size) (Black)
Regatta Mens Premium Workwear Belt With Stretch (One Size) (Black)
Offered by Texville
Price: £6.64

2.0 out of 5 stars Some belts are thinner than others, 11 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I wanted a belt to go with my genuine Regatta work trousers (see my review, if you like). As the belt loops are quite narrow, I thought the only safe option was to go for a genuine Regatta belt. Not so. This is a standard width belt, about an inch or so, and didn't fit through the loops!

I might have kept it for other trousers but decided on a refund as the clasp was too thin with sharp edges and the webbing fabric, though good enough on work trousers, isn't my style.

There was no quibble or delay over the refund but the postage both ways cost me almost as much as the belt, which I haven't got. Just beware.

Vaude VAU403 Saddle Bag - Grey
Vaude VAU403 Saddle Bag - Grey
Price: £11.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A medium sized bag that's small but adequate., 11 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Vaude call this a medium bag meaning they also produce a larger version and a smaller one. My first thought on seeing it was, what on Earth can you fit into the smaller one? Two pound coins and a postage stamp?

However, this medium bag proved big enough for my needs.

Firstly, you need to work out what you want it for. For me, it was to hold an essential, on the road repair kit comprising a spare tube, a couple of tyre levers and a multi-tool. (I went for a decent sized frame mounted hand pump over CO2 injector or a smaller, less manageable pump. Either way, I don't think you'll get a good size pump in this bag.)

Also, you need a bag that fits within the contours of the saddle, doesn't stick out to interfere with your ride. And there's little point in spare space which needs packing with an old sock to stop the contents rattling around when you ride.

The medium bag fits well within the size and shape of a regular road bike saddle. After fitting, I went for a two hour ride and had no problems. As for contents, it was clear a budget chain store tube wasn't compacted enough to fit so I bought a smaller boxed tube from an Indie bike shop, along with a small Lezyne Rap-6 multitool, and a pair of shortish Lezyne non-metallic tyre levers. All fitted in snugly with a bit of space left for one house key and a credit card (as well as two pound coins and a stamp) but no more.

The bag looks well made, good stitching, good zip. It's attached to the saddle and seat post by webbing style straps and velcro. This, I think, is preferable to rubber type straps for durability and tightness - they won't stretch or shake loose. Fitting is easy: attach the seat post strap first, tighten and fasten the velcro. Then shuffle it up under the saddle and thread the two other straps through the bars of the saddle frame, tighten and fasten. Done.

Inside the bag is a stiff tongue which, I imagine, is there to help remove packed in items by pulling it out. It has to be pushed back again before repacking, otherwise it hangs out like a cartoon dog's tongue. On the outside of the flap (opening) is a patch over which a tail light can be clipped.

After the initial surprise at its size, I see this bag ticks a lot of boxes with respect to my needs. Other solutions would be to carry it all in jersey back pockets (don't always have them) or in a second bottle/cage (but you might miss your water). This bag will do for me.

Airace Infinity Sport Steel Floor Pump - Orange, 160 PSI, 1191g
Airace Infinity Sport Steel Floor Pump - Orange, 160 PSI, 1191g
Price: £19.99

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Okay but take note of the negative comments, 17 July 2013
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Often, you get what you pay for. Pumping tyres on a road bike, to 80psi, demands effort and accuracy; you need an air-tight floor pump and a gauge. Shopping around, you can find pumps easily selling for £50 plus so I was in two minds about dipping below the £20 mark, Poundland territory. The positive reviews made me do it. I needed to pay attention to the negative comments.

It's a solid pump, lighter than I thought it would be (is it really steel?), the gauge could be higher up the shaft to save eyesight but there is an adjustable ring with a marker arrow which you set to your requirements. The pump has a nice smooth action, feels like it will last without too much unnecessary punishment. When storing away, the hose is clipped to the body making it all tidy.

I agree with the comments about lack of instructions. There aren't many instructions needed but they are essential. I mean, there's a fine piece of shiny cardboard branding hanging around the body and hose, how hard would it be to print a diagram and some words on one side? It's ridiculously short-sighted, for reasons explained below;

The stated "Clever Valve Automatically Detects Schrader or Presta Fitting" isn't clever at all. It's simply a one-size-fits-all head. It's fine on Schrader valves (mountain bikes etc.) but fiddly on Presta valves (road bikes). It's not impossible, there is a knack. Just don't try to master the knack in 30 deg. of heat, in full sun, immediately before setting out on a ride. It'll take the edge off your day. Once you've unintentionally deflated your tyre attempting to lock the head on, things get worse as air-tightness requires the head to be pushed right down over the valve body and, when flat, the valve doesn't push back; it just wants to retreat into the tyre. You know when it hasn't locked on because the gauge twitches but stays on zero, or you succeed in getting some air in only for the head to move, releasing the air. By now I'm thinking, it can't be right, where are those damn instructions! More by luck than judgement, I managed to get both tyre up to around 80psi. The gauge seemed to work, judging literally by rule-of-thumb (pressing the tyre, old school style), though I have not tested its accuracy.

I am now looking for a replacement head, a dual type, to replace the one-size-fits-all. Like pumps, these vary in price enormously but even if I spend £15, I reckon the whole kit will be good value. Those looking for a new floor pump, I would probably recommend going straight for one with a dual head. You may even get instructions!

I'm knocking off one star for lack of instructions and one star for the dumb head. But I'm adding a star for the overall value for money. Four stars.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 19, 2013 8:04 PM BST

The Rag, Winter/Spring 2013
The Rag, Winter/Spring 2013
Price: £3.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent new shorts, 21 Jun. 2013
Short stories, generally, are delicious. You can dip in, play around, indulge at whim, revisit with ease. And they can be profound; the best are pure genius.

The Rag is a lovingly curated platform for contemporary writers of particular genre of shorts; Here in this edition is noir, taboo, outsider fiction. Throughout, there's a youthful, fresh edge; unselfconscious. At times, adventurous, experimental, at others, imitative yet expanding.

From the first, Memento Mori, a regaling of cadaver misappropriation and curriculum of necrophilia, written in an engaging style and not without a hint of humour (I imagined Holden Caulfield as a woman with a romantic passion for the recently deceased) - to the last, in Olivia, an absurd surgical pursuit for perfection told matter of fact, there's a wealth of great stories.

As expected from the introduction, the edition offers plenty of noir and semi-noir stories. There's a tranche of these close to the start. I thought this might be the theme and, really, given the quality of these, I wouldn't have minded. There's underworld (Putting in the Work); fraud and laundering (Not Giving to the Alumni Fund); loan shark noir (Karl's Last Night); domestic noir (Yes, Officer); and femme-fatale (The Observer Effect).

There's also strange, observational tales; The Man Who Wouldn't Jump; The Girl with Pretensions in Her Hair, a forlorn relationship between tutor and student; Vibrancy, and the almost inscrutable, clubbing twins; Passing Through. The Poe-like, pet dog, horror-misadventure that's Zeke Stargazing is fantastically good and had me wincing up to the finale.

There is, of course, poetry, but I leave these to those who have a better understanding of it. I did take an interest and the piece that touched me was the brief and wonderfully observed, Citizen of Megabus - really a prose poem and likely the shortest of all the contributions.

Last, but not least, are the multi-media artwork illustrations by Meredith Robinson. I had expected, and wished, for more, and, good as they are, possibly more in tune with the themes. There's much you can do within the ebook medium, the future is bright for publications like The Rag.

Highly recommended.

Regatta Action II Men's Leisurewear Trouser - Dark Grey, Size 34 Inch Small
Regatta Action II Men's Leisurewear Trouser - Dark Grey, Size 34 Inch Small

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good trousers but how about a belt?, 17 Jun. 2013
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These trousers, at about twenty pounds with postage, are just what I needed for walking across fields and woods with our dogs. Tough enough yet lightweight and comfortable. More pockets than I know what to do with, some with zips which is handy for keys, cards and cash. Colour, a nice, presentable shade of grey. Well made for the price.

Slight niggle for me is the lack of belt and the narrowness of the belt loops which probably means a hunt for a belt that fits. Okay, they probably don't need a belt to keep them from falling down but I've worn one for so long it seems strange. If loops are included, why don't they make them a decent width?

Notwithstanding this, I would happily order another pair or recommend them to a friend - with enthusiasm if I find a belt!

The Aubin Academy: Revit MEP 2013 (Aubin Academy Master)
The Aubin Academy: Revit MEP 2013 (Aubin Academy Master)
by Mr. Paul F Aubin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £42.44

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The best of the worst learning options; however, it's okay but might be improved., 10 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For a freelance engineer, there's a big, big difference between paying to attend a course and buying a book like this. Of course, you try the book first. But can you learn Revit MEP effectively from a book?

You have to get access to the software; this obviously isn't included in the cost. Autodesk, I find, like most virtual market monopolies, are cynical. You can weedle a 30 day trial but as soon as you start you're working against the clock. This is where the structure of the book could help, but I'm not sure this one does. It's compiled a bit like a Bible, beginning with Genesis and through to Revelations. That's fine for a lifetime's studying but what if you're on a deadline and you really just need to nail the concept of Jesus?

The way we learn stuff like AutoCad, or basic drawing, modelling, isn't thoroughly learning A before thoroughly doing B etc. all the way to Z. We do enough of A to get us to, say, E which is what matters, and then we may pick up handy bits of B, Q, and P along the way, on the job. What I'm saying is, it really needs a quick start section, possibly for Dummies, and then some kind of guidance of this for the various levels of user. We're not all going for exemplar modeller credentials. It's a fat book, it appears you have to work through every page in case you miss something, it's very wordy, I found it a chore.

The people at Aubin Academy are contactable, approachable, and helpful. The book, with the aid of the online index and search, is a good, fairly comprehensive, reference book for Revit MEP. The downloaded project didn't quite match the illustrations and text in the book. Fair enough, this was corrected after an email.

If you're an employee, get your company to train you. If you're a freelancer and have a spare thousand burning holes in your pocket, get on a face to face course. Otherwise, it's the book. As books go, this is okay but could be improved with quick start, simple, dummy steps to tie in with the limited 30day trial.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 5, 2016 10:31 PM GMT

Abig Lino Cutting Set Wood Handle + 5 Blades
Abig Lino Cutting Set Wood Handle + 5 Blades

54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Linocutter for Beginners & Improvers, 10 Mar. 2013
I started linocut printing about a year ago, as part of a general, beginners class in hand pulled printmaking. Initially, I was advised to buy one of those cheap, red plastic handled sets which retail at about five pounds. It looked and felt a bit flimsy, one of the blades wouldn't slot into the handle and two of the four remaining blades were quite blunt. After a couple of frustrating linocuts, I desperately needed a better tool.

The Abig cutting set was recommended to me by a fellow student. On seeing the price, only a few quid more than the useless red one, I was doubtful. However, the difference in quality is astounding. It's a simpler design. The wooden handle feels better to hold than the plastic one. The blades, which are made of thicker, better grade steel than the other set, are simply pushed into a hole drilled through the centre of the handle, and removed by pushing a dowel, provided in the set, through the opposite end. No weak and dodgy plastic threaded ferrule.

There are five blades: four grooved of different sizes, U & V profile, and one flat cutter, are razor sharp. I've used them on both vinyl and proper lino with ease. The four grooved ones are slightly angled from the handle to the tip to aid getting the position right on the lino for correct cutting. On vinyl, softer than lino, they really glide through the material (with real lino, you have to warm the lino up a bit, under an angle-poise lamp or on a radiator, to get similar results). The whole set comes in a small, neat plastic box.

Really, the next step up from this would be professional grade cutters with mushroom heads, where I'd expect to pay at least twice this price for each cutter. For now, for me, this is an ideal tool for an improving novice.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 22, 2015 11:30 PM GMT

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