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Andromeda Descendent (Tarn Vedra)
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Cressi Men's Naxos Performance Swimwear, Black, X-Large
Cressi Men's Naxos Performance Swimwear, Black, X-Large
Price: £19.95

3.0 out of 5 stars No real complaints but they seem expensive for what they are, 20 Dec. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I found these swimming trunks reasonably comfortable. They have a drawstring around the waist to adjust them, a couple of white stripes down the right side and "Cressi swim" in white and red on the front left side. Are they worth the current listed price of £19.95? Well, sometimes you know you're going to pay a little more for a well known brand – that's just the way it is – but seeing as I don't recall being aware of this brand name before and I could get two pairs of similarly sized Speedos for the same amount if I wanted, I'd suggest they're overpriced. If the price does come down to under a tenner in the future, then consider my review to be 4 stars not 3.

I could just end the review there, but there is one more thing to point out. The makers describe the material being used in the trunks in the following terms: "Designed specifically for the athlete... higher level of protection... ultrachlorine resistant... exceptional breath ability". And to be fair, it does seem to be made from good quality material. However, Speedo will tell you the same things about their material, albeit using different words, e.g. "100% chlorine-resistant". Sometimes, in the customers' minds, in can all come down to whose product sports the coolest logo. So here's a suggestion for you Cressi: if you want to continue selling trunks at this price why not team up with Beats by Dr.Dre, because there's a logo that people would buy.


WAGNER Furno 300 Heat Gun
WAGNER Furno 300 Heat Gun
Price: £34.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good for many uses (and some you might not have thought of), 18 Dec. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Although the shape of this heat gun may look like it's been inspired by a hairdryer there is more than one practical purpose behind this. The most obvious reason is that this is a design which makes it easy to hold and aim, even at different angles. The other, less obvious reason, is that it can be placed on a flat surface, resting on the back of the heat gun and steadied by the clip-in part of the power cord. This allows you to have it facing upwards for hands free work, passing objects over it or using it like a Bunsen Burner. It has two intensity settings and a nice solid switch. The instruction booklet gives some advise on the best way to use it when you are doing paint stripping, along with some other useful information.

Honestly, before reading the booklet that came with this heat gun I would not have thought of some the uses it suggests you put it to. Defrosting the refrigerator? Burning weeds? Smartphone and tablet repair… what!!? Okay, the other two I can see that people might actually want to do that (although I wouldn't expect them to be recommended uses for reasons you either see straight away or you don't), but I think I'll leave my smartphone repair to the professionals.

There's only one thing I don't like about it, and that doesn't concern the main unit but the power cord. The cord is quite long, which is good, and where you plug it into the heat gun it has a loop to hang it up on, which is also good. But I don't like the way it clips into it and stays there apparently forever unless you can somehow manage to push a very thin piece of plastic inwards with the edge of your fingernail whilst also gripping the connector to pull it out. I haven't managed to do it yet. Whether or not this is a minor or a major problem may depend on whether you have children and want to keep the unit and cord of such tools in separate places as an extra safety precaution to locking them up. Other than that, it's a very good product.


Rapesco Clipboard - A4 / Foolscap, Frosted Transparent. Assorted Colours
Rapesco Clipboard - A4 / Foolscap, Frosted Transparent. Assorted Colours
Price: £4.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A little bit different, certainly stands out, 18 Dec. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It seems you get a random colour (blue or green) when you order this clipboard. I got a transparent light green one, and I'm happy with that because I think it looks attractive. Like a number of other Rapesco clipboards it has a good clip to hold the paper in place and a small pull-out square of metal on the top with a hole, allowing you to hang it up on a hook. There is no pen holder, but that's not too big a deal. The edges are safely rounded, and it's lightweight but sturdy. The good thing about having a transparent clipboard is that it opens up your options and if you want to do some tracing, then you can.


How to Speak So People Really Listen: The Straight-Talking Guide to Communicating with Influence and Impact
How to Speak So People Really Listen: The Straight-Talking Guide to Communicating with Influence and Impact
by Paul McGee
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.92

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The writing style draws you in, and the advice imparted is excellent, 11 Dec. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I find myself having to give presentations now and then at work and (whilst it is not my favourite thing) I would like to be better at it. I had not heard of Paul McGee before and I was expecting that I would probably learn a few things, but also expecting from past experience with books of this sort that it would be a bit of a hard read – a slog to trudge through it and dig out the nuggets – but I found myself enjoying the easy to read, almost conversational tone of the book and I astonished myself by actually finishing it within 24 hours of first picking it up.

Some of the advice is obvious and some not so obvious at all, but even when it is obvious, do we actually do it already in our presentations and when addressing a crowd? I suspect in many cases we do not, and so sometimes it helps to have it spelt out for you exactly why it matters. The book gives both corrective advice to help you realise, acknowledge and act upon what you are doing wrong; and recommends improvement techniques, which I am sure will benefit me the next time I have to address an audience. I am someone who likes to prepare and rehearse before giving presentations, but reading this book did make me realise that in order to be best prepared, you need to have a much greater awareness of what form your preparation should take.


BUKI France MR600 "50-Experiment Microscope" Educational Toy
BUKI France MR600 "50-Experiment Microscope" Educational Toy
Price: £51.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Great for an inquisitive mind, 10 Dec. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you're looking to buy an educational gift for your son or daughter this Christmas, ask yourself one question – are they inquisitive about science or nature? – if so, this microscope and experiment kit might be a good choice. Exactly how good a choice may depend on whether they can cope with a not very well written experiment book and take the initiative by picking up a book, laptop or tablet to fill in the blanks. If they can, it's probably the perfect present.

The microscope itself is very good quality for what some (because of the packaging) may classify as a toy. You need to have three AA batteries, which power a spot light above where the sample sits, and you are supplied with a disc type battery which powers a light that shines up from underneath the sample. There is a disc wheel between where the sample sits and the light underneath which has coloured filters and different sizes of hole, and these allow you to vary the colour and quality of light that illuminates the sample. There are six possible magnifications, made possible because as well as the three lenses (4x, 10x & 40x) there are two eyepieces (10x & 25x). Of these, five worked fine, but we had trouble seeing anything when combining the 40x lens with the 25x eyepiece.

The platform the sample sits on can be raised or lowered and, with a bit of precision and patience, you can get good focus and detail. It's not perfect though, because the platform doesn't always move smoothly. Occasionally there is a click and it jumps slightly out of place (and therefore focus) when you are trying to get the distance right.

The box could be seen as being a bit misleading, and yet also entirely correct when it says you can do 50 experiments with the kit. In truth you can do hundreds – if you count the number as being the 18 samples (3 each to a slide) that come in the box plus however many samples you the user choose to find around the kitchen and garden and prepare by yourself using the impressively large set of tools you are provided with. The experiment book gives some small amount of information on what to look for in the 18 samples, and makes the number up to 50 by making suggestions of items you could look for around the house. It's not a bad idea by any means, and I'm just mentioning it for the sake of clarity. The kit has seemingly everything that could be required for preparing samples, including slides, scalpel, needle, tweezers, thin-slicer and red dye. Every page in the experiment book has the text in six languages, which means it only gives a sixth of the detailed information it could have done – hence my comment earlier that discoveries should be supplemented by further reading materials – maybe that's another idea for a present.


The Chase: The Greatest Chases
The Chase: The Greatest Chases
by ITV Ventures Limited
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Chase is on… paper, 3 Dec. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My family always watch the celebrity version of The Chase, and I like to watch regular episodes now and then, so this book appealed to me but I did wonder whilst I was waiting for it to arrive how a quiz book was going to handle the main point of the show, that the Chaser can get questions wrong as well as right and sometimes the contestant has one or more extra chances if the Chaser gets a question wrong. When the book arrived, I was pleased to see that the questions are all actual questions used in past episodes of The Chase and you are given 10 sets of questions for each of the 5 Chasers, each set having 4 Player v Chaser rounds and 1 Final Chase. Because you are told how many questions the Chaser actually got right in the Final Chase and what your target is to beat him/her, it helps with the authenticity of your team (if you have more than one person playing this book at once) aiming to reach a certain number.

Whilst the Player rounds in this book simply require 5 to get through to the next round, if you want to make it more interesting why not get a die and roll it so if lands on 1 to 5 the Chaser gets it right, but if it lands on a 6 they get it wrong?

I and the family are very pleased with this book because I'm sure we'd all love to actually play The Chase for real, and the questions here are a good balance of hard and medium questions. There is also a good foreword by Bradley Walsh, who estimates he has asked over 130,000 questions since the series first began in 2009!


RHS How Do Worms Work?: A Gardener's Collection of Curious Questions and Astonishing Answers
RHS How Do Worms Work?: A Gardener's Collection of Curious Questions and Astonishing Answers
by Guy Barter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars …or "Why is my compost hot?", "Why don't fig trees have flowers?" and so on, 1 Dec. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am a sucker for impulse buying books with titles such as this, and a great number of them have passed across my shelves. Some have managed to stay on my shelves by virtue of actually being interesting and informative, whilst others have gone to car boot sales or the charity shop because they were poorly written, probably churned out en masse for the impulse buy market. But this is, thankfully, a proper, serious, informative book.

Whilst it is the sort of book with just one or two pages per heading, and each heading posed as a question – designed for casually dipping into at any page – I actually found myself reading sequentially though it. Not just that but learning interesting and useful facts as well. Things I may never have learned otherwise but are genuinely illuminating and make me wiser about the garden and plants in general. I guess that the RHS branding should have been a clue as to how high a quality to expect, but it's worth noting that you don't need to be a gardener to appreciate the information in this book.

There are five sections: Seeds and Plants; Flowers and Fruits; Below the Ground; Weather, Climate and the Seasons; and In the Garden.

The book is full of excellent colour sketches and illustrations. It is hardback and has a red bookmark ribbon.

I enjoyed it immensely and think this would be a great present for anyone even remotely interested in gardening or nature in general.


Rapesco Scissors - 17cm, Frosted Finish
Rapesco Scissors - 17cm, Frosted Finish
Price: £1.61

3.0 out of 5 stars The handle design of a scissors is very important part of its usability, 1 Dec. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The stainless steel blades of these scissors are well aligned and they cut well, with a smooth motion. The only thing I'm finding a problem with is the finger holes in the handle part, as my forefinger keeps sliding into an uncomfortable position when I try to manoeuvre the scissors to cut in a curve or around a shape. When cutting in straight lines it is more or less fine, but repeated use can be a bit uncomfortable on the back of my forefinger, between the first and second joints.


I Could Be The One (Noonie Bao Acoustic Mix)
I Could Be The One (Noonie Bao Acoustic Mix)
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Noonie Bao, 27 Nov. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I don't think Noonie Bao was credited on the released version of the main released version of this song even though she was one of the writers and sings the vocals, so it's good that she is actually credited on this great acoustic version. I've bought her album, EP and some other songs and really love her voice and the style of her songs. I don't think many people in the UK have heard of Noonie Bao but that just makes her a hidden treasure as far as I am concerned, and I am glad to have discovered her music.


Lynx Fragrance Edition Gift Set
Lynx Fragrance Edition Gift Set

5.0 out of 5 stars Selection box, 27 Nov. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The first question that comes to mind when getting what is effectively a selection box of body sprays is obviously going to be "are they full size or are they small sample versions?" These are indeed full size versions of 150ml each. That makes it a good choice of gift for someone who wants to try out a different scent but doesn't know which, because when he has settled on one he likes he has the rest of the bottle to use. It's even better for larger families as Dad and sons can pick the ones they like and share the rest out.

In broad terms, the five varieties are all quite similar, yet with easily recognisable differences which can seem subtle at first but become more recognisable as signature scents the longer you're exposed to them. The swivel and spray top of each can is a great idea, meaning you don't need to pull off (and potentially lose) a lid each time. It also makes it next to impossible for accidents to occur because using the pop-up push button that appears when you swivel the lid means you always know exactly where the nozzle is facing when you press that button.


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