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Confucius

Confucius
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Member since: 11.03.2013

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      22.08.2013 23:28
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      The ideal solution to the washing line problem

      This is a review for the 15 metre retractable clothesline made by Minky.

      When I spied this clothesline for sale in Aldi I became more excited about it than perhaps is normal. It seemed the perfect solution to my clothes drying problems.

      Where I live I share a very wide balcony that leads to the front doors and is pretty much the only outdoor space I have. For years I have had the rigmarole of gathering in a clothesline after each time I put washing out to dry, so as to avoid garrotting my neighbours in the dead of night as they return home. This was then left coiled up hanging off a nail by my front door: an eyesore indeed. A whirly-spinney rotary type dryer was a non-starter. Firstly, making a hole into the ground to accommodate it would severely compromise the roof of the properties below, and secondly, it gets so windy with me being high up on a hillside that the lump of concrete needed to steady a rotary dryer would be ridiculously large.

      The main attraction of this dryer is the fact that it retracts into its housing, thus keeping it nice and neat and accessible.

      The quality of this product is fantastic. I find it amusing to also note this manufacturer carries a Royal Warrant. My two bed flat and Buckingham Palace have sooo much in common. Mainly dog hair problems and bigoted relations. But at least we all have to wash our smalls, eh, your Maj?

      There are not a great number of components to this product when you take it out of the box. The main unit, some mounting screws and rawl plugs and the instructions.

      To mount the unit to the wall will require a drill and, because it will be mounted quite high up, stepladders will be required. Obviously, care should be exercised here, especially with regard to having someone foot the ladders. Into the four holes go the four rawl plugs and into these the mounting plate is then screwed. The main unit is then mounted to this plate using a long rod that serves as an axis enabling the whole unit to swivel through 180 degrees - a good feature as this means the line itself can be aimed at any suitable mounting position in the garden. One thing I was surprised with was that I actually trusted and used the plugs and screws provided with this as I normally use my own for peace of mind.

      What you attach the line to at the other end is, of course, very dependant on your own set-up. Just ensure it is also secure as there will be a hell of a lot of tension and weight on the line when in use.

      To use the line it is just a simple matter of pulling out the flying end and attaching it to wherever you choose. There is a hook type plastic thing on the end of the line to use. You then go back to the main housing unit and tension the line by looping it back around a peg that traps it securely. It may be an idea to tension it loosely while you put the washing on so it is at a suitable height for you to peg and then re-tension it so it lifts the washing up higher.

      When you are done you just reverse the process and the spring inside the main unit reels the line back in. Don't let the line go, as this will just jam the mechanism. Just walk with the line in your hand as it slowly gathers the line back up. Simple.

      The main advantages of this retractable washing line is the fact that it does retract, thus keeping the line neat and contained. Also, it is fantastic at keeping the line clean; I used to get so annoyed at dirty lines on my washing if I left the line out in the weather and forgot to wipe the length of it before using it again.

      The only negative I can gripe about is that the plastic coated line is very slippy and the washing can have a tendency to slip and 'gather' together. This is a real problem when washing bedding but I cure this by going overkill with the amount of pegs I use along the length of the sheet. This is the only drawback and the reason why i cannot award all five stars to this otherwise brilliant product.

      I paid £3.99 when I got mine from Aldi back in March (?) but these can be had for £9.99 from Argos (including free delivery) or £10.45 (including delivery) direct from Minky.

      All in all, it is the best solution if you use a washing line and would have no hesitation in recommending this. I love it - again - perhaps a tad more than is normal.

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      • Beldray Mop / Vacuum Cleaner / 150 Readings / 143 Ratings
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        30.07.2013 16:28
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        A perfectly efficient substitute for the old mop and bucket.

        This is a product review for the Beldray 1500W Steam Mop.

        Always being the cynic I have, in the past, looked at new products with a pessimism and disdainful sneer for new solutions to age old problems. So it was with great surprise that when I saw this steam mop in action and witnessed its effectiveness that I decided I had to have one.

        It cleans and sanitises by using steam and collects the dirt in a microfibre cloth.

        I paid £39.00 from a local electrical outlet, which seems to be a little over the odds as they can be purchased for around £33.00 including delivery.


        ~~~ The Product ~~~

        The steam mop comes well packaged in a sturdy box with a much welcome carry-handle on top. Although not heavy the box is quite large and would otherwise be awkward to carry.

        To assemble the handle section you may as well completely disregard the instructions as they cloud the issue rather than shed light upon it. Common sense and trial and error will win through and prove this to be not too difficult.

        Also provided are two microfibre mop heads which attach to the mop foot with hook and loop - Velcro - in other words. This is more than adequate in operation and should last the lifetime of the mop. Replacement mop heads are available although I have no knowledge of price or availability, as the ones provided are easily cleaned in the washing machine and are holding up very well indeed. There is a "carpet glider" included for the cleaning of carpets.

        A small jug and funnel are provided for filling the reservoir with water prior to use. Living in a hard water area I will only use filtered water to prevent limescale build-up, thus helping to prolong the life of the mop. Using boiled water will also help prevent limescale build-up, but will obviously use more electricity and will fur up your kettle. The water reservoir holds 400ml and is stated as being capable of providing 20 minutes of cleaning. You can monitor the water level through the opaque window on the reservoir body.


        ~~~ In Use ~~~

        In use, the mop is very straight forward to use. The reservoir is filled and the cap is used to seal it. This cap is permanently attached to the neck of the reservoir to prevent loss. When the unit is plugged in and switched on a light appears in the opaque tank to indicate power. The unit is ready to use after 30 seconds. When downwards pressure is applied to the mop the steam is activated and is forced out through the microfiber mop head. A normal mopping motion is then used to clean as normal. The push and pull allows the steam to do its thing while the microfiber cloth picks up the dirt and grease.

        I was a bit dubious as to the effectiveness of this on my kitchen floor tiles which are a rough unglazed tile. Normal mopping does clean them, but any stains have to be scrubbed on my hands and knees. So far, this steam mop is doing a sterling job of shifting stains from accidental spillages. I have yet to try it on more stubborn stains especially those that have dried on. It is just as easy to whip this mop out for a quick clean as it is to fill a bucket, so any accidents have been quickly dealt with.

        On smooth tiles and on the vinyl floor in the bathroom this steam mop is brilliant. It cleans to a shine with no streaks and is dry very quickly. Gone are the days of the bathroom being out of bounds for an hour while the floor dries.

        After doing some research on the suitability of this product for use on wooden floors I have to say I am not convinced either way. There seems to be conflicting evidence with the majority saying not to, especially on hardwood flooring. Personally, I would say the steam mop is a better method if the currently using a mop and bucket, as I believe much more water is used with a traditional mop and takes longer to dry. I guess "buyer beware" is the phrase.

        I have tried to use this steam mop to clean my lounge carpet. To do this you have to attach the "carpet glider" which is a plastic surround that slots over a microfiber mop head. This then lifts the mop up onto the runners to enable you to slide the mop over the carpet while still allowing the mop head enough contact with the carpet to collect the dirt. The fixing of the glider is bit dubious as there is no proper fixing - it just kind of, well - errr - fits. It seems to do the job anyway. It does clean the carpet, evidenced by the dirt on the mop head afterwards, and certainly lifts the pile of the carpet - a welcome surprise for my tired old carpet.

        When finished, I tend to kill the power at the socket and let it stand for a while to cool down. I then whip off the mop head and if it needs cleaning I chuck it in the washing machine to await my next load going in. If it is fairly clean I just rinse it through under the tap and hang it up to dry. It is a good idea to empty the reservoir of water over the sink - obviously once unplugged. The chord then wraps around two pegs on the handle for storage.


        ~~~ Positives ~~~

        The main benefit of this steam mop is its effectiveness; for a domestic environment this mop does its job very well. As with a mop and bucket it has its limitations when it comes to stubborn dried-on stains, but this is to be expected.

        It is very easy to use, something I was concerned about to begin with. Would it be just another gadget cluttering the understairs cupboard? I say "no" - I would say in some respects it is less hassle to use this than it is to fill a bucket with hot water and add the cleaning product suitable for the floor type you are cleaning.

        While on the subject of cleaning products, this does not need any and so is environmentally friendly in that respect and will save money in the long term. The high temperatures also help to dissolve greasy deposits.

        The speed at which it heats up is impressive, obviously helped by the 1500 watts of whoomph behind it. By the time you have shifted the furniture it is ready to go.

        Another thing I like is its weight - light enough to easily carry upstairs but weighty enough to be effective at cleaning. The mop itself weighs 1.6kg or 3.5lb, slightly more than advertised.



        ~~~ Negatives ~~~

        The instructions let this product down to a certain degree as the details for putting the handle together are more confusion than help.

        There is a certain amount of flexing in the handle and clearly this has been built to a price. The plastic used for the handle, and the pegs around which the power chord is wrapped, seems rather fragile and brittle. I can say, however, that the business end of this mop - the reservoir and mop head - is certainly built for the job.

        The power flex only measures 5 metres, which seems a tad on the short side to me. It is fine in the kitchen where sockets are plentiful, but could prove an issue in some situations and some households. Having to use an extension cable would negate the benefits of this mop in my opinion.


        ~~~ In Conclusion ~~~

        I would not hesitate in recommending this mop providing the price is right and the purchaser recognises the limitations.

        In a domestic environment as a direct replacement for a mop, bucket and detergent this steam mop will not disappoint.

        I feel it justifiable to deduct one star due to the slightly less than satisfactory plastic used in the handle.

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          21.07.2013 18:24
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          Possibly the best lead available. Would definitely recommend.

          ~~~ About & Price ~~~

          This is an extendable dog lead and was bought from an online retailer 18 months ago for about £25.00, excluding postage and packing. Although I see this now can cost as little as £23.61 including delivery.

          ~~~ Specifics ~~~

          The length of the lead is 8 metres, which equates to just over 26 feet.

          ~~~ Use ~~~

          The handle unit features a looped grip which is rubberised for comfort and to aid grip. Where the thumb lies on the top of the handle are two buttons. The lower button acts as a brake to prevent any more lead being issued and thus keeping the dog at that distance. The upper button is the locking button to hold the lead at the determined length and can only be activated when the lower brake button is depressed. To release the lead the upper locking button is simply flicked back towards the dog walker and the lead is then allowed to protract and retract, giving the dog the controlled freedom these lead systems are designed for.

          The attachment at the end of the lead is a spring-loaded trigger hook that will attach to any collar that has a lead ring. This is attached to a small length of inch wide nylon webbing which prevents discomfort or injury if the dog becomes entangled in the lead or snags it on a branch or similar. This webbing has reflective thread in the weave which will shine in car headlights for added visibility. The rest of the lead is made up of a nylon string. The unit as a whole has a recommended upper weight limit for the dog of 50kg which is 7 stone and 12 pounds.

          In operation the initial feeling this lead gives is of a solid build and of quality materials. The grip handle is quite large and smaller hands may be fatigued after a while and may also struggle with the two buttons - two hands may be needed.

          The snap hook is easily attached to the dog's collar using the thumb, and the webbing section also makes life easier here as it is better to grab and hold.

          When pressing the button that operates the brake you can really a positive 'bite' as the brake is engaged and you can feel the toothed cog into which it locks. It is such a positive and aggressive movement that this can lead to the dog being jerked back if it is moving away from the owner. Once the brake has been applied it is then a simple forward movement of the thumb to apply the lock. When the dog is to be allowed more lead length, the lock button is very easily flicked backwards and the lead is released.

          These leads require a certain amount of forward planning and common sense to be displayed by the dog owners, all to often dogs are allowed to control their owner, rather than vice versa, and inevitably bad habits are instilled in the animal (and owner).

          ~~~ In Summary ~~~

          Providing this lead is used sensibly then I can have no hesitation in awarding it the whole five stars. Whereas there are plethora cheaper options available to buy, I feel none of them offer the quality that the Flexi Comfort Long 3 so adequately provides.

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          • Challenge Desk Fan / Fan / 103 Readings / 100 Ratings
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            19.07.2013 00:08
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            Good basic fan at a good basic price.

            This is a review for the 12" desk fan made by Challenge.

            Living in a poorly insulated apartment with a flat roof the temperature swings hugely between freezing cold in winter and red hot in summer.

            In summer I need a fan.

            I bought this fan last year from Argos for a price not too dissimilar from this year's price of £12.96. This price seems fairly standard across several of the retailers I have checked. Although with the weather as warm as it is now I am surprised they haven't ramped up the price.


            ~~~The Product.~~~

            It is the 12" (30cm) fan and has a power rating of 50 Watts, according to the sticker on the base.

            It is predominantly made from a white plastic that seems to be adequately tough enough for the job.

            It is a three bladed fan with three speed settings which are selected from the four buttons mounted on the base. Obviously one button is the "Off" button.

            The fan blades are surrounded by a white wire mesh guard which is fine enough to prevent even the most slender young fingers from coming onto contact with the spinning blades.

            There is a push/pull switch mounted to the rear of the fan on top of the motor housing. This switch controls the oscillation, which is where the fan sweeps from side to side to push air over a larger area, instead of concentrating it in one direction. This useful when cooling a room full of people so they all feel the benefit. As a rough estimate I would guess it sweeps in a 40 degree sweep.

            There is an adjustment wheel on the main body of the fan to adjust the height at which the fan is aiming. Whilst it doesn't seem to allow much adjustment, it is more than enough in my experience, as the further away you are the more difference it makes.

            The flex measures about 5 foot from fan to plug.

            The product comes out of the box unassembled. Being a man I attempted to assemble without referring to the instructions as it seemed very straight forward. Obviously, I only looked at the instructions to ensure they had written them accurately: They had.

            Seriously, the fan is very easy to assemble and only requires two hands and a modest amount of dexterity.


            ~~~In Use.~~~

            It blows air.


            ~~~To Summarise.~~~

            While there is a difference in air output between the three speed settings, it is minimal; speed setting one is enough for me even on the hottest of days. The slight increase of speeds two and three can be just a tad too much if the flow is directed directly at you. The highest setting reminds me of an old diesel Ford Fiesta I owned - "it makes more noise than go". Even on the first speed setting this fan would be an annoyance in the bedroom. What is worse is the clicking of the drive mechanism that makes the fan oscillate. Very annoying when concentrating or trying to sleep - like a dripping tap.

            Visually this is not particularly modern looking when compared to what else is available, but for the price this fan is more function over form.

            It is secure and steady when mounted on a smooth flat surface. The rubber feet offer good grip and the low centre of gravity means it would take some effort to knock it over.

            I like this fan. For the money it is doing a sterling job. Whilst not the prettiest around, it does what I need it to do - keeping me cool and sane on hot days and cool and calm on steamy nights.

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              17.07.2013 18:21
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              Basic but does the job very well.

              There are various arguments floating around as to the potential benefits of using a raised feeder such as this; some say in a healthy dog it can cause problems, whereas others conflict this with the suggestion that it can prevent problems. Some say that in the wild a wolf eats its prey directly from the ground, to which I say codswallop. You cannot compare a wild canine with the domesticated animal we know and love. It is all too common to hear the results of the pedigree breeding that has caused some serious health problems in our most loved breeds.

              I personally think it is obvious that larger breeds benefit from a slightly higher feeding position, especially those greedy mutts that love to "wolf" down their food; a common concern is that gobbling grub from ground level introduces excess air into the stomach, which clearly will not aid digestion. A gaseous dog is bad enough at the best of times, like just as you are settling down to watch a film.

              My own personal reason for using this product is to alleviate the arthritis our German Pointer has developed in his front legs. Stooping to the floor to eat and drink is clearly going to cause some discomfort and could even exasperate the problem.

              This item was purchased some time ago from Argos and they currently retail for £14.99.


              The Product

              The product consists of an "H" shaped base section to which an upright is bolted that provides the mounting for the bowl holders. The upright is bolted from underneath using a threaded wing nut. At the corner of each leg of the "H" is a grippy rubber foot that, combined with the overall weight of the feeder (~2kg) plus the food and water, ensure that this contraption does not slip and move as the dog feeds. The area of the base section pretty much guarantees this will never be toppled over, even by the biggest, most exuberant hound.

              There is then the bowl holder which slides up and down the upright for adjusting the feeding height to suit your dog. There are various calculations banded around, but it is mainly common sense so will not go into great detail here. A threaded bolt with a thumbwheel is how the bowl holder is clamped to the upright and is very easy to operate and provides a simple, effective and secure way of fixing.

              Protruding outwards from the fixing point are two rings into which the stainless steel bowls are lowered. Again, a simple and effective design.

              As an extra feature there is also a clamp that drops down onto the top of the bowl holder to stop the bowls lifting out of the rings. This is also screwed securely to the upright by means of a threaded bolt with a thumbwheel to tighten.

              The two stainless steel bowls are obviously very easy to clean, dishwasher safe and will last forever.

              The overall dimensions are roughly 50x54x27 (H x W x D).



              In Summary

              While not the best looking feeder available I feel this is a very effective way of delivering this function through efficient design. Whoever was given the specification to design this has more than adequately delivered a brilliant solution and has thoroughly earned their fee.

              The stability and lack of slippage ensures that the dog is not chasing this around the room as some dogs do with bowls placed directly on the floor. Obviously the non-slip feet work best on a hard floor, i.e. a kitchen or utility room, and anyone who feeds their dog on a Wilton carpet may as well get the best silver cutlery out and feed the dog by hand.

              The clamp which drops down over the lip of the bowls is very much overkill, in my opinion, as there is little or no danger of the bowls becoming dislodged - but it is a feature to use if necessary. It also becomes an annoyance when you just want to quickly remove a bowl to add some fresh water or to clean; you have to go through the rigmarole of loosening off the clamp - moving it up the shaft - retightening it while you remove the bowl - and then reversing the whole process. Again, a thoughtful feature to have but is never used in reality.

              A word of warning: It is important to bear in mind that while this feeder is height adjustable to suit any size dog, the bowls MAY BE TOO SMALL for the larger breeds - they are 23cm diameter and 7cm deep. It would be highly advisable to compare these measurements with your dog's current bowls before considering this as an option.

              The only gripe I have is that due to owning a very messy Pointer, some water inevitably is splashed about and in this case has dribbled down the upright mounting shaft and corroded the joint where it joins the "H" section base. I can only assume it is a poor grade of stainless steel. Perhaps some better housekeeping would have prevented this. Also, some thread lock on the bolt that secures the upright to the base will alleviate any problems with it coming loose and spinning as the dog feeds, as some users have reported.

              All in all this is a very satisfactory product that does not delight, but delivers dutifully. I would have absolutely no problem in recommending this to owners of dogs of small to medium size; it will cater satisfactorily and last a lifetime - even in human years!

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                16.07.2013 22:02
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                An excellent quality cuddly toy at a very good price

                This Aurora Emperor Penguin chick soft toy was bought for the special lady in my life at the start of our relationship. No, seriously, I am actually a massive softy underneath this hard shell of masculinity. ;)

                It was at that stage in the relationship where you want to buy gifts for your special person that on one hand are a sign of your affection, but on the other are a whimsical, light-hearted bit of fun that are not too serious or vomit-wrenching. In this case this is arguable, I know.

                As soon as I found out that the penguin is my girlfriend's favourite animal I knew exactly the type of gift I wanted to buy and found this cute Emperor Penguin chick on Amazon. The cost was £5.99 with free delivery. With certain items bought on Amazon you have the option to send the item as a gift and have it wrapped. You can also send a note to accompany the gift with any text you wish printed on.

                Obviously, in the vast majority of cases, the purchase of this will be as a gift for a child; for that purpose it is an ideal present for a young animal lover.


                Company

                Aurora is a South Korean company based in Seoul with the manufacture of its soft toys taking place in China and Indonesia. They are a worldwide brand and have licensing deals to produce toys for the Gruffalo and the Moomin franchises.

                All toys produced meet necessary international safety standards - in Europe this being the EN71 standard relating to the safety of all toys.

                In the UK the company is a partner of the National Blind Children's Society.


                Product

                The toy itself stands at 8 inches in height. It has beans inside its base to give it some stability so it can be stood upright.

                The synthetic fur is fantastically soft to the touch and I imagine would encourage tactile handling with young children. It really is a feel-good material. The colours seem to be an accurate representation of the actual animal in real life; black head and back, grey front and white face. The beak and feet are made from a leatherette type plastic and again seem quite faithful to the actual chick. The eyes are, as usual in soft toys, a hard plastic and are very securely fastened on.

                All the seams appear to be very well sewn and from handling this toy it is obvious it will easily accept the tough life that soft toys seem to lead.

                This toy is for children aged 3 years and older and is hand was only.


                In Summary

                The visually attractive nature of this toy will endear it to anyone with a heart. The amazingly soft and tactile choice of material will also ensure this toy will provide many years of comfort and cuddles for the lucky owner.

                While the size may be an issue for some people I feel it is ideal for use as a bed fellow but is also small enough to be taken on travels. This penguin chick can accompany the owner on holiday or even down to the supermarket without becoming cumbersome - quite handy when a young child cannot "bear" to be without their favourite teddy.

                The only concerns that came to light are the eyes. Whilst being an accurate portrayal of an emperor penguin chick's eyes, some may find them rather evil and scary, especially kids of a sensitive disposition

                But please do not let that you put off this adorably cute little baby penguin.



                Don't be as cold as the Antarctic - let this adorable bundle of fluff melt a place in your heart!

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                  15.07.2013 14:32
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                  An effective, simple, solution.

                  As a wildlife fan and casual birdwatcher I have made several attempts over the years to attract wild birds into my garden. I have tried all types of bird feed, from fat balls and suet cakes, to sunflower hearts and nyger seeds, in all manner of feeders and situations. Something was not working and was costing a small fortune in wasted feed.

                  After reading hints and tips from all over the internet I came to the conclusion that perhaps the location of the birdy treats on offer was not suitable to give the birds the confidence and protection from predators that they need to feed in comfort.

                  It seemed that if I could provide a situation where the birds could approach the food from a protected position while they scan the area for potential threats then they would gather the confidence to approach the feeder and feel comfortable enough to tuck in safely.

                  So, because of a lack of trees and bushes to hang feeders from I decided that a mobile stand on which to hang feeders was the way forward; build it and they will come.

                  This is when I came upon this bird feeding station - just what I needed, I thought.

                  This feeder is labelled and sold by many outlets, both high street and online, but is clearly manufactured by one company. I bought mine from Wilkinsons for £11.99 in store.

                  It comes sensibly packaged and ready to assemble. There are three main segments to the main shaft of the pole that simply and easily slot together to give it a total height of 175cm. The bottom most section of pole has a spike to drive into the ground. The top section slots over the uppermost pole section and is secured with a pretty crude but effective wingnut. (In hindsight a touch of copper grease or other protective grease would alleviate the slight corrosion that has since occurred around the bare thread of the wingnut.) This top section has the two main hanger arms welded to it: again basic but effective. The decorative finial is made from rubber, supposedly for health and safety reasons as it is a spike, and simply inserts into the top section like a rubber bung.

                  It is painted a dark green and blends in well in the garden.

                  There are two mounting brackets for the water bowl and seed tray. These are positionable and are easy enough to attach and adjust.

                  There is one other hanger arm to attach, which is also postionable, and this uses the same attachment method as the other two arms. Once mounted in position they are safe and secure and do not seem prone to slipping or detachment.

                  The water bowl provided is more than up to the job, it being made of a good thick plastic. The seed tray is a metal mesh so that rain water drains through and does not spoil the seed. Both are easy to clean - essential to prevent disease.

                  The only concern I had is because it is top heavy, owing to the two top mounted hanger arms, the pole has to be driven into the ground sufficiently to withstand all that the British weather can throw at it. So as not to damage the bottom section I used an off-cut of wood to protect to hollow pole while I tapped it into the ground using a hammer.

                  The main joy of this type of feeding station is its mobility. Through trial and error I have managed to place it in a rockery within two feet of a thick protective bush. At first I mounted it actually touching the bush, but soon spotted mice performing acrobatics to get to the feeders. They can more than have enough food from the seeds that inevitably fall to the ground from when the birds are feasting.

                  And feast they did!! Since finding the ideal position I have been visited by all sorts of garden bird from the obligatory Blue Tits to less common birds such as Grey Wagtail, Coal Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker.


                  Summary

                  I would recommend this product because for the money it is very good value and is a perfect way to cheaply attract wildlife to the garden. A bonus is that extra arms can be added, although I would only advise one or two more for stability reasons.

                  The main faults are the cheap wingnut and the potential for corrosion.

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