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AlexisR

AlexisR
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Member since: 08.11.2010

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    • More +
      06.10.2011 13:09
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      Avoid and take your money elsewhere.

      I felt compelled to write after visiting Chester zoo on Sunday the 25th of August and coming away thoroughly disappointed.
      We had been visiting Wales and decided to stop off at the zoo on the way back home to Sheffield for a combined treat of my birthday and also for the benefit of my twin 6 year old girls. We managed to park with relative ease but then it all started to head downhill after that. The person at the entry till told me the entry fee would be £50 for a family of four, it wasn't until looking at the price board adjacent to the till that I realised this would be £5 higher than the normal price because he had also added on 10% for some kind of conservation? I suspect the zoo knows full well that we, as the public, do not always listen to what people are saying for the first few seconds of any conversation in situations such as these as they are rarely relevant and if they were to ask us first if we wanted to contribute they also know our answer would be mostly "no". My answer was "no" and as a result the price came back down to £45.

      How did they work out that 10% of £45 was £5 anyway? Where is the extra 50 pence going and more to the point where is the £45 going if some is not going back into conservation for the zoo?

      When we got into the zoo it soon dawned on us that the situation wasn't going to improve. The map that was provided to us was completely inadequate. Dotting Rhino's over the grounds of the zoo and no differentiating breeds on the wooden signs just served to confuse us and with no clear guide of the path we were on we spent more time lost than knowing where we were going.
      The monkeys were our first port of call where after struggling through the crowds we realised that the reflective glass made it near impossible to see parts of the cage much to the dismay of my young children, while we are talking about monkeys the display for the miniature monkeys had so much condensation on it it was difficult to see anything but a small section of the cage.
      We thought the monorail may provide a better view of the zoo only to discover we would have to pay again to use this service, was £45 of our money not enough to provide a free rail service for the short distance? Added to that the journey was spoiled again by a distinct lack of animals and a loud tannoy that seemed to bear little relation to where we were on the track and where it was saying that animals were meant to be. So you don't lose count, the total spent is now £52.

      After spending a little more time lost we decided to go and find something to eat. I wasn't going to be Oakfield house as we found that closed, maybe the Acorn pub? No, that was closed to...so were a variety of other premises. The option we were left with was an obscenely expensive cafe which had queues going back out of the entry door. Since the other option was leaving the zoo to find food we decided to brave the queue and wait our turn. I had a BBQ Chicken Panini and my partner had a Tuna Melt Ciabatta. We didn't feel it was unreasonable after spending around £5 for a single sandwich that we may find a small garnish, or maybe a real plate to eat off but alas, we were deprived of both. My children had a snack box and this seemed to represent better value and with retrospect I wish I had just got one of those instead. That "meal", including a scone and two cups of tea came to £23! The total is now up to £83.
      After leaving the cafe, hungry I should add, we decided to try and find our way back only to fail miserably because of the awful maps that were provided. Because my partner was ill and unable to walk far ( she was also sick of getting lost) we had to take the mono rail back again at another cost of £7, we're now on a total of £90.

      Overall I feel cheated, it should have been a great day out for me and my family and turned out to be one of stress and trouble. The dinosaurs were a small saving grace but I certainly wouldn't pay £90 for a family of four to see them which is effectively what it cost.

      Definitely not recommended!

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      • Fiat Punto (1994-99) / Car / 10 Readings / 8 Ratings
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        21.11.2010 21:09
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        Cheap first time car but make sure you get a model that's been looked after.

        I bought my first (and only) Fiat Punto back in the summer of 2005. It was a beautiful Wednesday afternoon and my rover 414 SLI had just gone bang so not quite as idyllic as I would have liked but as fate would have it me and the Fiat met for the first time. As our eyes locked across the busy road i don't think either of us thought much of the other. She was a funny shape with a few to many dents and an interior that had been used to cart around several pounds of dust and I was an unshaven 26 year old male with a habitual tendency to kill cars and drive far to fast (where the conditions allow)

        I checked the make and model and saw that I was about to embark on a purchase of a Punto 60 S, the lowest in the range then. I never did work out what the S stood for, it certainly wasn't sport and although it could have stood for s*** although it's unlikely that Fiat would call a car that. It was metallic blue in colour and had a grand total of Three doors. Two of which were slightly worse for wear. the problem with the doors on the fiat is that they open so wide, practically at a right angle to the rest of the car. This meant every time the wind got up it would sweep them out of your hand and bend them back on the hinges. Nevertheless I was willing to forgive her for the small faults and take her back to my place.

        Two years later I took her to the local scrap dealer with her exhaust hanging in two pieces with much contempt and was pleased to see the back of her. The story behind this shall be explained below.

        The problems started when the clutch went first of all, the car had supposedly only done around 40,000 miles and I expected a bit more. That cost me £130 to replace and have fitted, then it was the brakes front and back only to find out when the rear drums were off that the bearings were shot too. Another £200 down the pan. Mis-aligned tracking, corroded brake pipes, blowing exhaust from the back box and the cat not to mention the god awful smell that the heater produced every time I turned it on. These are just the things I can remember. For a car that had only done a low amount of miles she was nothing but trouble. Every month was another expense.

        The 60 S came with (as standard)

        Sunroof..........

        Come to think of it I think that may even have been an option!

        It really was and is a very basic car. You get a heater, something to De-mist your rear window and seatbelts. I'm fairly sure the seats and steering wheel were standard but don't quote me on that. It had a 1.2 litre engine which is about the same as a pint of milk and while it was willing it struggled at anything over 60mph. The noise inside the car was terrible and resulted in me putting draft exclufing strips inside the car door to try and stop the wind noise, you could hear and feel everything from the road as well.

        Now I feel at this point I should point out that it wasn't all bad. It did feel a bit like a go kart and when you gave it some throttle at anything up to 50 mph it really did try hard to please. You could fling it around corners at speed and apart from some understeer it was very easy to control, I think it being so light helped a lot with that. The tax was cheap though and providing you budgeted for the MOT it didn't come as a major suprise. As I recall it was only group 3 insurance too so very cheap to insure.

        You can pick up a 1995 punto now for £500 or less with tax and MOT but beware because there are an awful lot of poor examples out there. many of them have been owned by boy racers and young drivers and have not been serviced properly as a result. Anything without some service history should be dis-regarded. The ELX is the best model to go for prior to the punto shape change as it has colour coded bumpers and a lot more kit inside the car. if you can stretch to over £1000 then get the newer boxier shape, it's a much better car than the original on a like for like basis. The only exception to the rule is the Punto GT, I've never driven something as much fun as that. If you can get and afford to run one of those then do that instead, you can't go anywhere without grinning like a fool, it's a fantastic little car.

        As an amusing story to the end of my review i did get the chance to turn it into an Italian sports car for the last few weeks of it's life. Some kids decided to try and steal the badges off the back of the car, they took to FIAT badge but only managed to take off the N from the Punto S part whhich left me with a Pu to S Otherwise known as a Putos. (pronounced poo-toss) I had great fun declaring to the world that I had a sporty 3 door Italian sports car! Anyway, shortly after that it was traded in for a slightly shiner ford focus from my ex-partner. I know it's still on the road though so I hope whoever bought has more luck with it than I did. For a first time driver it can be a great little car and if you get one that is already slightly dented then no-one will notice when you bump it into your first parking bollard or wall (happens to us all) Happy motoring!

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      • Ford Focus Zetec Collection / Car / 9 Readings / 9 Ratings
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        21.11.2010 00:32
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        Worth considering and one of the better second hand choices.

        I bought a 1999 's' Registered ford focus back in 2008 off my (ex) partner who had upgraded to a newer model. I'd had a number of years experience as a passenger in the vehicle, and occasional driver but never really had a chance to put it through it's paces.

        Ford released the first Focus in 1998 to much acclaim, the styling both inside and out made it quickly become the best selling car in Europe. Certainly the inside of the car was revolutionary for the year and price bracket and the smooth curves and slopes made it appeal to drivers of all ages. It came with a variety engines and various styles on top of that. The petrol engine sizes were 1.4, 1.6, 1.8, 2.0 and the 2.5 (ST) They also did a 1.9 diesel. Mine was a 1.6 and was a good balance between fuel economy and power. The 1.4 was vastly underpowered and required you to keep the revs high to get any kind of performance from it which of course had a negative impact on your fuel economy.

        With the 1.6 you can expect, in real road as opposed to factory conditions, to hit 60 mph in a shade over 10 seconds but it feels quicker. The car will make it up to 100 with ease in 4th gear which makes motorway driving fairly easy since you always have the power to overtake when needed. With regards to the handling it does really well considering it's size. It feels much smaller when controlling it round corners and holds it's line well without too much roll at normal speeds and slightly over. Unfortunately it's at higher speeds that it lets itself down a bit as the understeer is a real problem and if you don't know what you're doing the car will happily steer you towards the nearest piece of road furniture. In saying that the throttle is very responsive in 1st and 2nd gear but requires more revs in 3rd to get a decent performance from it.

        If you're not going to fling it about like me though then you'll be left with a decent family car. It can be driven with a feather foot on the accelerator and still perform well. The official MPG is around 40 for the 1.6 petrol but I find that under standard to heavy driving I return 31 MPG I know I could do better but I've never been one for hanging around. The market is awash with 3 and 5 door models with a decent 2003 model selling anywhere between £1400 and £2k It's worth investing in the mk2 focus as they changed the bumpers and look a lot better, as a result they are holding their value better than the mk1.

        Alloy wheels demand a premium as well and if possible you should look for higher spec models. The ghia was the highest before they bought out titanium on the newer models but it came with an awful lot of wood trim which will alienate some buyers. You should expect to find a CD changer, air con and steering wheel audio controls for your money with at least 2 front electric windows. As a bonus though ford made the quick clear front windscreen standard which is an excellent tool, especially on the frosty mornings.

        It's build quality is good and while there is an awful lot of plastic inside the cabin it doesn't feel cheap. There is an option for height adjustable seats and steering which means that driving comfort is vastly improved too. I'm 6'4 and fit behind the wheel with ease.

        So what should you look out for on a second hand focus?

        Hidden rust is a good place to start, check behind the cover on the front wheel arch as it was never sealed properly and if not cleaned could have years of salt and gunk built up which will cause it to rust, if it's started then you're not going to be able to treat it. Check in the gap where the boot meets the roof as well as that's prone to liquid ingress.

        Make sure the cambelt has been done after 90,000 miles or so and if possible choose one with a full service history. There are many of these cars that have been treated badly in their younger years and will only give the new owner more problems as things that were already worn, give out.

        I've had a fair bot of work done on my car but then it is 11 years old with 110,000 miles on the clock. The brake pipes have been replaced along with the clutch and 2 new tyres in the last couple of years, it's also developed a strange squeak from the front wheel somewhere that I haven't managed to locate yet. It's all proportionate in cost though and I probably spend around £800 per year maintaining it including the cost of the MOT and tax.

        I'll not post the figures on performance and economy on here since they are freely available all over the internet but be assured they are in line with any other car of this size and year. this is one of the better buys you could make in the second hand market and you should hunt for a good deal to get the most car for your money.

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        20.11.2010 23:57
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        Avoid at all costs.

        Wrapped up in a neat plastic container is supposedly the answer to all of our fatty problems. In this instance Fry light claims that they have managed to capture the very taste of extra virgin olive oil and package it so 1 spray means just 1 calorie. Now I'm a curious guy and like to test these products to see if there really is a market for them as an alternative. Having been a chef for 8 years I wanted to know how it faired under industrial style cooking stresses.

        Package wise it's fairly standard really, easy to grip and a spray nozzle on top makes it no harder to use that any other household product the requires a single finger movement. I was disappointed with how glossy the bottle was though as once your hands were greasy it made it quite difficult to operate one handed. The lid fits securely though and there is very little mess left around the nozzle after use.

        It's when using it though that the differences really become apparent. the spray comes out white and only turns a more normal colour when heated, even then it doesn't sizzle so much as bubble. It doesn't smell like olive oil either. It's obvious from the very first use that whatever is inside it is not pure oil which led me to check the ingredient list, and there was quite a shock for me there. They is only 56% olive oil in the bottle! 44% of my olive oil is made up of emulsifiers, letchin, sucrose ester and xanthan gum. (that's the black stuff you find on your broccoli when it goes mouldy). Even more concerning was the feature of alcohol on the list. I made the decision to give up alcohol altogether 2 years ago and was not happy that I may have consumed some unwittingly. I certainly did not expect to find it there.

        It tasted disgusting, failed to brown food properly and reminded me more of a sticky residue than olive oil. The only thing I saw it stay true on is that it stops food from sticking. I can't encourage you to avoid this product enough. Olive oil is a wonderful accompaniment to many foods, it enhances flavours and the best olive oils could be consumed on their own. To write olive oil on fry light is misleading and I feel they should be made to remove it. You can expect to pay around £2 for 250ml and i personally think that money would be better spent on a real olive oil to be used frugally.

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        • Dell Latitude C600-700 / Laptop / 4 Readings / 4 Ratings
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          09.11.2010 14:29
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          If you're on a tight budget this is worth considering.

          I recently purchased a Dell latitude C600 for £20 from a private seller. It had a broken hinge, an errant mouse pointer that would wonder wayward to the edges of the screen and a couple of pressure points on the screen. Apart from the above though it worked just fine, it came with windows XP home instead of the original Win 2000. The original cost for this Laptop was over £2000! It's funny to think how fast technology has moved on.

          It has a 14.1" TFT screen with what is now an average display

          512mb RAM Upgraded from 128mb originally. (This is the max it can handle)

          Pentium III 750Mhz processor

          10Gb Hard drive

          Considering it's over 10 years old now it's not a bad size at all, it weighs in under 3kg and is no more than a couple of inches think with the lid closed. I use it for general internet searching and also writing reviews on here and it copes with those tasks just fine. The fan is extremely quiet and apart from some occasional crackling noise it runs as it should. You're never going to be able to run anything that requires a decent video card though, the laptop struggles with youtube and nearly keeled over when I tried to suggest it has a go at running Photoshop. It is, as mentioned , just enough to get you on the internet and carry out basic tasks such as e-mail and word processing.

          Considering it's age there is an impressive array of options though.

          Serial (DTE) 16,550-compatible, 16-byte buffer connector

          Parallel unidirectional, bidirectional, or ECP connector

          Video VGA connector

          PS/2 mini-DIN connector

          Infrared port compatible with both IrDA Standard 1.1

          (Fast IR) and IrDA Standard 1.0 (Slow IR)

          Audio microphone jack

          headphones/speakers jack

          USB USB-compliant connector

          Docking connector for the C/Port Family Advanced Port

          Replicator or C/Dock Family Expansion Station

          S-Video 7-pin mini-DIN connector (an S-Video to composite video Adapter is also included with the computer)

          Mini-PCI Type IIIA mini-PCI card slot

          Modem Optional factory-configurable RJ11 port for mini-PCI modem

          Modem/Ethernet LAN

          I run Opera as my browser and Windows XP for the Operating System and although it's not very fast it is certainly effective enough. It's not crashed at all in the 3 months that I have had it and all of the keys are still intact. On top of all of that for £20 you really can't go wrong. It's cost me another £7 for a belkin wirelees card that's inserted externally and i bought a USB adaptor and stand for £2 so it really doesn't get much cheaper.
          Parts are still readily available on eBay although some are more expensive than others. Expect to be able to pick up a new AC adaptor for under £10 but a battery for the laptop will cost you nearly £30. Unfortunately the hinges aren't cheap either but there are whole usits being sold for spares in various states of dis-repair for under £30 should you need spare parts.

          Having read the reviews from 2000 I can see this was once a top spec laptop, It's not going to blow anyone away today but compared to smaller notebooks this unit still holds it's ground. I'd recommend anyone on a budget to consider this laptop.

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        • Neff B14M62N0GB / Oven / 13 Readings / 13 Ratings
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          08.11.2010 20:58
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          An excellent durable oven and well worth the investment.

          We had a Neff oven fitted into the kitchen when we moved into a new build house. Looking at the picture in this article makes me realise just how dirty ours is! I'll have to get the oven cleaner out tomorrow......anyway, about the oven:

          So what's it like at first glance?

          Pretty sturdy really, the exterior is brushed stainless steel with the exception of a glass door. It has a few choice lines on it, presumably to make it look more stylish and looks like it's capable of withstanding my rough cooking methods (I was a chef for 9 years). The door opens vertically and goes 90 degrees to the oven and the hinges are strong enough to support one of the oven trays if needed. All of the buttons are easy to use as well, even with greasy fingers and are removable for easy cleaning.

          The handle of the oven is metal but it's separated from the door itself using 2 plastic blocks, because of that little bit of ingenuity the handle stays cool regardless of if you are grilling or using the oven.

          You only get one tray with the oven so it's not exactly ready to go but there are plenty of runners on the inside of the oven to position other trays should you so desire.

          So what's it like to use?

          Well, the unit itself has 4 settings. Oven, Grill, Defrost and Light. The first two are self-explanatory as for the second two:

          Defrost - This basically spreads the heat around more evenly and allows you to defrost frozen food quicker than what you could at room temperature. In many ways this is safer as it spends less time at room temperature before being cooked. It's a fairly effective setting and I've used for all the main cuts of meat such as chicken, pork and beef without any problems during or after.

          Light - This setting allows you to leave the light on in the oven without asking to distribute any heat. Why you want this is not clear, perhaps you want to show off your latest creation before taking it out of the oven? Maybe it's to remind you there is something in there? Whatever the reason I have never used it.

          The oven and grill temperature setting is marked from 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) to 250 Celsius (482 fahrenheit) with numbers but it appears to go up to 275 degrees Celsius.

          The grill can be operated with the door shut, in fact it's recommended , this is fantastic for keeping the smell and smoke inside the oven instead of sharing it with all of your neighbours.

          There is a timer on the oven that is easily set and can be turned to keep the oven on for anything up to 99 hours which is a little extreme but you never know what you might be cooking.....

          By the far the most fantastic feature on this oven is the ability to set it on a timer where it turns off itself. You simple put the oven on as normal then set the magic gizmo to a time in hours and minutes for when you want it to switch off. For example knowing a chicken joint would take 1hr and 20 mins to cook, I'd set the oven to turn off after 1 hour and let the heat finish it off on it's own. This feature isn't quite worth the £480 it currently costs but it certainly goes a long way towards justifying it. You also have a light above the temperature control that extinguishes itself when the oven has reached the temperature you asked it too.

          It's a pretty quiet oven too, it cooks evenly and being fan assisted it reduces the cooking time as well. As i said earlier I was a chef for a number of years and i never go easy on the equipment I use. We've had this oven for 3 years now and the only thing that has gone is some of the numbers around the dial and that's because of me being a bit heavy handed with the cleaning cloth.

          Is it easy to clean?

          Fairly, it all depends how much use you are going to give it really. Like many ovens if you cook a lot of greasy food then you should expect that when it comes to cleaning it then it's going to be arduous. If you like to clean it weekly and go easy on the grease then it should be a lot easier.
          Neff, being the nice people that they are, help you along a bit though and make all of the runners inside the oven removable. this means you can be liberal with the oven cleaner and not have to worry about residue being stuck behind some parts of the oven.

          And in conclusion?

          It does what most other fan ovens will do but in a little bit more style. It really does look the part and is very durable. I think you're paying partly for the brand name with things like this but would argue that you're paying for quality as well.

          It's an excellent, solid built unit and has provided trouble free cooking for 3 years, here's to another 3 years of trouble free culinary testing.

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          • Panasonic KX-TG8424EB / Telephone / 13 Readings / 12 Ratings
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            08.11.2010 18:16
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            If you're looking for a quad phone system these should be considered but they are not the cheapest.

            What is it?

            These Panasonic phones are sold with four in the pack. One of them has the main base unit and needs to be plugged into a telephone point and the other three are able to be situated anywhere in the house near a plug socket.

            What do you get for your money?

            4 handsets, 1 base unit and 3 chargers including all the wires you need to ensure that everything is powered.

            Feature wise the Panasonic KX-TG8524 is pretty rich. You can send SMS text message from the handset to a mobile phone in pretty much the same way as you do with a mobile.

            You can block incoming calls from certain numbers - previously this is something that would have had to be done through your phone service provider so it's a useful addition. It's not clear if you're able to block withheld numbers but that's an option you can sign up with through your phone provider anyway.

            It allows you to store up to 200 names and numbers in the inbuilt directory, that's pretty handy for those of us who have a lot of people to contact. I used some of that space to store important numbers like the doctors and schools......and the local Chinese restaurant (Not an emergency I know).

            A headset jack is included should you wish to talk handsfree, haven't quite discovered the point of it yet but I'll be sure to edit this review if I ever do. You hare also given the ability to add another 2 handsets to the existing 4. I live in a 3 story house and 4 is plenty for me but I'd imagine this could be useful for adding a phone in the garage for example.

            Polyphonic ringtones come as standard, having flicked through them though I'd rather they invested the time to do polyphonic into creating just a normal ring that didn't sound ill. We've finally gone for a nice soft melody for the ringtone, it's a lot less obtrusive than the normal ringing and serves the same purpose. Jingle bells features on the ringtone list so I can't wait to put that one on at Christmas!

            Caller ID in the form of showing you what number is calling comes as standard so you are able to see who's calling at a glance. I'm one who always answers the phone regardless so not really needed but it's nice to see who is calling before hand.

            The display is pretty cool, it's all in colour and displays signal strength, battery life time and date with a nice abstract picture covering the back of the screen for your viewing pleasure. It's also a decent size at 2 inches.
            Tech wise you get 13 hours talk time on a handset and it will sit in standby with no charge for 10 days which is pretty good. All of the handsets come with rechargeable batteries (AAA's). The answerphone will record for 40 minutes and is easy to see when you have a message waiting and play back. You can also play them back in any order you please.

            You get alot of the more normal features too like speakerphone but also some more unusual ones like being able to mute the ringtone during certain hours so as not to be disturbed. There is an option called "eco mode" too which reduces the signal strength thus saving power. Pretty good if your phones aren't situated too far apart.

            What are they like to use?

            Really easy, you can put people on hold or transfer them to other handsets in the house or even use the intercom to internally phone people in another room and do many things that you would normally expect only to find in the workplace. they're comfortable and it's easy to press the buttons and see the display when making a call.

            They're sold as cordless which effectively they are but obviously there is the base to take into consideration which is plugged into the mains. The phones are comfortable to hold and lightweight and don't have any parts that try to pierce the side of your head or leave your ear raw.

            The menu is very easy to navigate and I haven't had to read the manual more than once yet to find my way around them.

            Anything else?

            I paid £95 from Tesco (www.tesco.com) where they were on offer. I've seen they're on Amazon now for £70 but paid a premium for the advantage of being able to bring them back with me from the shop.

            They are an excellent buy and if you're looking for a quad phone system this is one you should seriously consider. They look the part and do everything a phone should do and more.

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            • More +
              08.11.2010 15:39
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              Providing you don't have fish this is a very effective tool against flys and wasps in your home.

              What is it?

              Raid fly and wasp killer is pretty much as it says on the can. It can be used for a variety of flying insects though and is not limited to the two listed above.

              It's produced by Johnson which is a trusted name so hopefully it's only harmful to the animals you are trying to kill as oppose to the person spraying.

              What's it like to use?

              It really is very effective and kills flying insects within seconds. It can be sprayed all around a room and left for maximum killing effect or you can just point and spray at offending insects as they fly into range.

              It claims it's got a pleasant odour, I'd say it's not unpleasant but it's hardly and air freshener. There is definitely a faint smell of chemicals left in the air after each use.

              You will need to ensure that food is covered when spraying and wash down surfaces after use, naturally you should avoid inhaling it where possible too.

              How much is it?
              at £1.99 for 400ml. There is currently an offer on of 33% extra free as well so it's good value.

              Anything else?

              This product will kill your fish as well so keep it well clear of anything aquatic. It mentions that it's harmful to bees as well but I'd imagine for many people that's a good thing if they end up with one in the house.
              It lasts for sometime, I've had my can in regular use for 2 weeks now and it's still half full.

              The spray dispenses easily with a large plastic button to depress and there is zero mess to clean off the can afterwards. Naturally since it's a chemical normal precautions will apply in it's use.

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            • Cookworks Slow Cooker / Slow Cooker / 12 Readings / 11 Ratings
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              08.11.2010 15:02
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              Shop around first but a slow cooker is a must have in any working home.

              What is it?

              The Cookworks slow cooker is basically an oven that you are able to leave unattended. It's of a fairly decent build with a stainless decent casing although it is a little thin but for the money it's what you'd expect.

              How much was it?

              I got mine from Argos for £10 when it was on offer. Unfortunately it is not there anymore but the Internet is awash with offers should you decide to buy one.

              What's it like to use?

              Very simple, it comes with 3 options to cook the food, Low, High and Warm. Cooking in it is fairly foolproof as well. You simple add the food, some kind of hot liquid to cook it in and leave it to do it's own thing. They're perfect for stews and whole joints but they won't brown anything so you may want to consider frying food first to inject some colour into what you are making.

              I find that I can't can do a stew for 4 people on a low heat and that can be left for a work day of about 8 hours without any problems. The main issue I have is how it cooks indiscriminately, it will cook broccoli just as much as beef which causes problems for texture and nutrition. As a result of that you will sometimes need to add food in stages.

              The entire casserole dish can be removed for ease of serving and can just be placed in the centre of the table if needed, be aware that it will be very hot though so use a mat to put it on.

              Anything else?

              Yes, slow cookers are very economical and much more cost effective to run than a normal oven. If you're the kind of person that can plan ahead then this is perfect for you. Also these are great for cheaper joints of meat as the long cooking makes them more tender.

              Although the food that is cooked in these is naturally very tender since it's been stewing in it's own juices for so long I find that you have to add strong flavours like onions and garlic to inject taste as it seems to leave the food after a day of cooking. Coming back on a winters evening to a lamb stew with dumplings after a hard day at work though is a luxury that I'll never give up, the slow cooker was worth the £10 for that dish alone.

              They do a bigger size as well which is 6.5 liters, if you're cooking for more than 4 you may find that more useful.

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              • Breville JK73 / Kettle / 7 Readings / 7 Ratings
                More +
                08.11.2010 14:40
                Very helpful
                (Rating)
                3 Comments

                Advantages

                • "Ease of use"

                Disadvantages

                Reasonably priced for the market it is in but doesn't do anything a cheaper kettle can't.

                What is it?

                A kettle with mood lighting, presumably to fit in to a similar themed kitchen?
                Perhaps something that can add an attractive light during dinner parties and make an interesting talking point?

                More likely though is that it's just another gimmick in the mad world of kettle marketing. I've noticed over the years that manufacturers have added increasingly wild additions to products that really have a very basic purpose. The kettle for example is there to boil water. Having a kettle with attractive modernistic curves is naturally a bonus but does it really need LED mood lighting as well? After all how many of us watch a kettle boil to see it change colour when it's done?

                How much is it?

                Currently £40.65 from here

                http://tinyurl.com/32w5wfs

                What is it like to use?

                Pretty much what you would expect from a kettle really. It's not so heavy as to make it difficult to lift and it pours well and evenly. The capacity is about 1.7 liters and it states it makes 8 cups on the kettle itself. It boils quickly and quietly and has a concealed element to reduce the build up of lime scale.

                The handle is well designed and coated with rubber on the outside to make it easy to grip and despite it being stainless steel it's also easy to keep clean. The things that I would point out though are that the filter in the spout is not very durable and prone to breaking and also the text on the kettle that has been printed on rubs off far to easily.

                Anything else?

                The kettle goes through an organised lighting sequence of blue, green, red and purple. it floicks to red whenever the kettle is boiled and then back to blue when it's stopped boiling. Having just watched it to check the cycle of colours I can assure you that it's not very interesting :)
                They are not selectable and you are unable to get a particular colour to show.

                There is also a keep warm mode on the kettle situated at the top of the handle. It flashes red when activated to remind you that is on. It's extremely quiet and unobtrusive but given that the kettle is fast boil it's not really needed.

                To fill the kettle you depress a protruding button which in turns open the lid. The filling space is ample to avoid spillage. It is fairly large weighing just shy of 4kg but not so big that it looks bulky. The design is sleek enough to keep the kettle looking good and unobtrusive in your kitchen.

                The kettle itself is cordless but the cord to the base can be adjusted to 2 different lengths and I find it tucks away out of sight without any issues.

                If you want a kettle that has mood lighting then this is certainly worth considering. It's not overly expensive for the market it fills and is fairly attractive. If you're just looking for something that looks good in the corner and boils water however then I'd say take your money elsewhere. While Breville makes a valiant effort at making this kettle look good it doesn't do anything that any other kettle can't and there is a lot of money to be saved if you do without the lights.

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