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Peter Biddlecombe "peterbiddlecombe" (Bucks, UK)
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Faber Castell Grip 2011 Ball Mechanical Pencil In Gift Box
Faber Castell Grip 2011 Ball Mechanical Pencil In Gift Box
Offered by M.D. Shop
Price: £9.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great-looking pencil, but ..., 20 Aug. 2010
I bought one of these after the lead-gripping mechanism on an otherwise perfect GRIP PLUS model started to slip. I was hoping for the ideal marriage of the GRIP PLUS mechanical pencil with the GRIP 2001 wooden pencil.

The GRIP 2011 initially comes close to what I wanted but it's not quite there - the rubber hidden under the cap at the top is nearly as small as those tiny green ones that you get in the classic Pentel mechanical pencils - so for occasional use only (see the customer images that I'm just about to put up). The barrel is about 1.5 times bigger than the wooden pencils - a bit on the chunky side for skinny little hands like mine, but perfectly OK.

Whether the lead-gripping parts will last better than those on the GRIP PLUS remains to be seen - if they fail in a year or two, I'll update this review. Update: the mechanism failed after about 3 months - after using up one lead, the next one no longer feeds into the point in the usual way. So the GRIP PLUS model is much better than this one.

You'll also see from the pictures that this model comes in various colours. So far, I've seen black, grey, silver and dark blue offered on various sites. The matching ballpoint can also be had in white, frosted pink and light blue, so more colours may be on the way.
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No Title Available

61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The way to escape from cartridges, 19 Aug. 2010
This converter replaces a cartridge in a Lamy fountain pen (Safari or similar - note the pen types in the product details carefully, as some Lamy fountain pens use different converters), and allows you to fill the pen from an ink bottle. The volume held by the converter appears to be about the same as a Lamy cartridge (they're fairly short). It fills completely with the usual twisting method to move the internal plunger.

The maths involved depends on the current prices of ink bottles and cartridges, but in the long run, this converter and bottled ink should be a bit cheaper than cartridges.

Another benefit is that you can use ink from other pen manufacturers if the price or colour suits you better. Doubtless they will all tell you that their ink is specially designed for their pens, but a fountain pen is a fountain pen and I doubt very much that anyone could tell the difference between Lamy inks and the ones from Watermans, Parker, or Sheaffer. I've never filled my Lamy Safari with Lamy ink except to use up the cartridges that came with the pen.

The downsides: Filling with ink involves a little bit of waste/mess as you need to wipe a bit of ink off the pen after filling. And P&P on a tiny converter can seem extortionate, so try to get the pen and converter at the same time from one supplier.


Faber-Castell Pencil GRIP PLUS 07 Green Metallic
Faber-Castell Pencil GRIP PLUS 07 Green Metallic
Price: £6.64

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost the perfect pencil, 18 Aug. 2010
Excellent grip, a good-sized eraser, and only costs a few pounds. What can possibly go wrong?

After a year or so of frequent use, the mechanism that grips the lead no longer works well, so natural pressure on the point pushes the lead back into the pencil.

So now I'm trying their GRIP 2011 model.

[There is also a GRIP PLUS ballpoint, not currently available from Amazon. This obviously doesn't have the lead gripping issue, and is excellent.]


Faber-Catell Erasaer Cap 2001 Twin Pack (2 pieces = 1 bag) white
Faber-Catell Erasaer Cap 2001 Twin Pack (2 pieces = 1 bag) white
Price: £1.25

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for any pencil without an eraser, 11 Aug. 2010
If you're like me and want the eraser attached to the pencil, these are just the job - they fit on the end of a standard hexagonal cross-section pencil as well as the Faber-Castell GRIP 2001 pencil that they're designed to go with. I'd never realised until looking at the product description that you could use them as "pencil caps" too.

On the other hand ... if you're not fussed about the pencil cap functionality, your local branch of WH Smiths will sell you 13 brightly coloured pencil top erasers for about the same price.


No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top-notch pencils, 11 Aug. 2010
I use a lot of pencils, and these are my current favourite. They might seem expensive but they're worth it - I can't remember sharpening one of these and then finding that a bit of broken lead breaks off when I start to write. The rounded triangle cross-section and little rubbery nobbles give you a good firm grip. For erasing, get the eraser cap rather than the version of this pencil with an eraser on the end.


Joculatores Upsalienses (Joculatores Upsalienses)
Joculatores Upsalienses (Joculatores Upsalienses)
Price: £15.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good sampler of medieval music, 7 Aug. 2010
The music on this album covers a huge time range - at least 1200-1571 from the dates listed for some tracks on my iPod listings. So there's music here that covers a time span as wide as that from Claudio Monteverdi to Arnold Schoenberg.

It's performed with enough swagger to make it interesting, but doesn't get silly. There's a mixture of vocal and instrumental pieces and as you'll gather from above, a big range of styles and instruments - including cornetts and sackbuts unless my ears decieve me.

Some tracks fade out rather than end, which may not be to your taste.


Basso Profondo from Old Russia
Basso Profondo from Old Russia

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable singing, 7 Aug. 2010
If you sing bass in a choir and are proud of your low notes, this will probably put you in your place. Ditto if you think all those stories about Russian basses are exaggerated. These men go as low as the G an octave below the bottom line of the bass clef, and make it audible, and at least something like music. Most of the pieces are a bit slow and ponderous, which means you're unlikely to listen to the whole thing in one go.

It's not an album you'll play very often, but well worth having. At the time of writing there are some representative clips on Youtube.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 25, 2011 10:45 PM GMT


Philips CD2554S/05 Digital Cordless Phone With Answer Machine & HD Sound - Quadruple Handset
Philips CD2554S/05 Digital Cordless Phone With Answer Machine & HD Sound - Quadruple Handset

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good bit of understated Philips design, 7 Aug. 2010
Bought to replace BT Freestyle 250 Quad which we were fed up with because the handset batteries kept going flat.

So point 1 in favour of these: when you put them back on the cradle, they seem to make the necessary electrical connection for recharging reliably - the "sloping hillside" cradle design used for these is far better than the "ashtray" shape which the BT ones had.

Set-up was pretty straightforward - two of the four handsets didn't show the names I'd given them, but choosing the RESET option and going round again fixed it. Once you've set a couple of options from the handbook, finding and usig the others is pretty straightforward.

The choice of 10 ring tones covers a decent range - 2 "rings", tweet, buzzer, 2 "whirls", a couple of electronic modernity horrors (Techno, Tcha-Tcha (their spelling), and a couple of tunes (Turkish March, and Maple Leaf Rag, the second of which is my favourite for the moment ).

Answering machine works straight out of the box with an announcement from an anonymous lady which you can replace. And you can listen to messages from any handset.

I can't yet comment on the phone book side of things as I'll probably still just open up my mobile and look at the numbers there.


Roberts Radios Ecologic Digital Clock Radio with Dual Mode Backlight Dimmer
Roberts Radios Ecologic Digital Clock Radio with Dual Mode Backlight Dimmer

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly excellent - shame about the alarm radio volume, 7 Aug. 2010
Let's get the bad bit done first. The fact that you can't set a volume for the radio alarm is a poor bit of design. If you have to be certain of being woken, you need the buzzer too - that's more sensible, increasing in volume until you hit the snooze button (that's the triangular one in the middle). There are 4 different alarms, so you can have the buzzer five minutes before the radio each day, but as this is a fairly expensive alarm radio, you'd really expect them to get that kind of thing right.

As another review says, it's a bit smaller than you might expect - great for me as it gives me a bit more space on the bedside table than the defunct old Pure Evoke wooden box that it replaced. The shape means that it's easy to position it on your bedside table so that someone sleeping on the other side of the bed can see it easily.

The set-up process was very easy, and mildly entertaining as you watch the clock hands whizz round to set the right time. The flimsy-looking aerial works fine here (somewhere in Buckinghamshire), and so far (one day) the clock has kept perfect time. Setting preset stations and the times for alarms was easy too. There are points that other reviews grumble about - controls that you can't use in the dark except by memorising their positions, and the backward-facing speaker, but if you put it on a bedside table/dresser that has a bedside lamp and is close to a wall, these are non-problems.

Nifty feature: if you use the sleep option, the time period you choose (in 5 minute intervals up to 1 hour) is remembered and shown as the default selection next time.

The product picture shown here is very slightly misleading - the lighting to help you read the clock isn't quite as strong a shade of 1970s orange as the picture suggests, and the clock face has only half the numbers - the even ones, not the usual 12/3/6/9. It's also not very clear that there's a perspex screen covering the front - the reflections from this, mentioned in another review, weren't a problem for us.
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BT Freestyle 250 Quad
BT Freestyle 250 Quad

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good answering machine, not so great handsets, 6 Aug. 2010
After about 5 years with these we replaced them with something else well before we should have been wanting to. Reason: the connection between handset and cradle (for recharging the batteries) seems weak - you keep finding that a handset unused for many hours is on its last legs - and we're not clumsy thugs. Meanwhile the person you're in is diverted to the answerphone while you run around the house finding a working handset, and if you get there in time you sound a bit of a chump. So a disappointing product for us, though the answering machine is easy to use and does record timestamps automatically.


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