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When I was originally looking for a headset in order to talk to friends on-line, I was a little overwhelmed by the selection available, as well as the huge range of prices. I ended up buying two relatively cheap products in the hopes that at least one of them would be good, and I can definitely recommend the Microsoft Lifechat LX-3000. The sound quality is excellent for the price, and the microphone is impressive too. It works seamlessly with MSN messenger and Skype, and is good enough that I now do all my personal music listening through the headphones rather than using others I own.
My only issue with these is that they are rather delicate; being quite a clumsy person I have already managed to break two of these units. They are very cheap though, so it's not a big deal having to buy a new one. When I inevitably break my current one, by sitting on it or some such, I will not consider any other product to replace it.
The headset is available for under £15 on Amazon, and I can't recommend it enough. There are headsets being sold at around the £100 mark, but don't be put off by the relatively low price; these are not a cheap botch job.
There are usually a few of these floating around in our freezer as they are one of my girlfriend's favourites. I like them too but usually find them frustratingly tiny; even eaten slowly they are unlikely to last over a minute.
They are similar to a Mars bar in construction, but instead of a layer of nougat the chocolate shell is filled with a toffee flavoured ice-cream, above which is the usual caramel layer which is actually pleasantly generous. The result does taste like an iced version of a Mars bar, so it seems somewhat more legitimate than, for example, the Malteser and Fruit Pastille ice-creams.
They can be bought individually from newsagents, ice-cream vans and the like, but are likely to set you back something in the region of 70p. It is far more economical to buy a multi-pack from the freezer section of the supermarket, which cost £2 and contain 6 (albeit slightly smaller) bars.
I have recently discovered how good they are as a sandwich filling, but I don't necessarily recommend that as it's probably extremely unhealthy!
It's difficult to comment on the flavour or quality of fish food as fish tend to gobble it up regardless! However, Love Fish is a high-quality product, and they obtain their ingredients from sustainable sources which is nice.
It's affordable and comes in various sized pots. I usually buy the 50g size which costs a little over £5 for the tropical version and will last a VERY long time unless your tank is very large indeed. This is generally better value than alternative brands, considering the quality difference.
I would advise ignoring the feeding instructions though. Fish do not need anything like as much food as fish food brands recommend (they just want to sell more, I think), and 3 feeds per day is more than a little excessive. I would recommend feeding once every other day. Keep an eye on how much food remains uneaten when you clean the tank, and adjust feeds accordingly. Otherwise, excess food may go off in the water and poison the fish.
I love lemon. All of my favourite desserts are lemon-related. If you have ever tried the Lemon Mousse chocolate in a Thorntons selection box, you'll have a good idea of what to expect from this.
As with all Thorntons products, these are not cheap (usually 65-75 pence depending on the shop), but this is actually reasonable considering the quality of the product. Incedentally, they are not easy to find outside of Thorntons stores, but Marks and Spencer usually stock them, particularly in thier Simply Food outlets.
The bar consists of a delicately flavoured lemon mousse coated in white and milk chocolate. The balance of milk to white is not simply decorative; the flavours are perfectly balanced to accompany the delicious mousse without overpowering or oversweetening it. I don't think the mousse itself is exactly the same as that present in the individual chocolate; it seems a little firmer; perhaps that is to prevent the bar getting squished. The flavour of the mousse is creamy and tangy, but not too sour or strong. It reminds me a little of a good lemon cheesecake or, indeed, dessert mousse.
If you are looking at the Thorntons continental range, this is definitely the one to choose if you want something a little different. In my opinion it tastes the best, and I have one almost every time I see one in a shop!
This is essentially millionairre's shortcake, though it is probably the best example I have ever tasted.
Each pack contains 12 pieces. They are very small, however, being not much over an inch square. I suppose they are called 'mini' caramel shortcakes though, so that is fair enough. It does make me wonder what occasion they are designed for, though. They are too little and biscuity to constitute a dessert, and the portion size is too small for them to be a shared snack during a film or over tea. They're not suitable as a gift, either. Personally I usually end up grazing on them while I work, which probably isn't very healthy!
If you've eaten millionairre's shortcake before, you'll be familiar with the taste, although these are of an unusually high quality. The top layer of thick milk chocolate is rich and delicious, as one would expect from Thorntons. The caramel centre is generous and tastes amazing; it has the slightly grainy texture and subtle burnt sugar notes of perfect home-made caramel. The shortcake base is very nice as well, it tastes buttery and thankfully, is not too dry. The proportions are balanced very well.
I generally only buy them when they are on offer (which they often are), because at almost £3.00 per packet they are a little expensive. For the quality, this price is fair, but for me, there is not enough in the pack to warrant it.
My girlfriend and I own a lot of DVDs, and when we visited IKEA these seemed the perfect storage solution. We now have four of them, and plan on getting another two in the next few months. The tall, slim design is great for a small house like ours, as it allows us to store large numbers of DVDs in a relatively small area.
Of course, like most IKEA products, Benno comes in a flat pack, which although easy to assemble (none of ours has taken more than 20 minutes to build) is a very long, thin box which might not easily fit in the smallest of cars!
When constructed to hold DVDs, each tower has eight shelves, each of which holds 11 normal sized DVDs (88 in total). According to my girlfriend (I had not noticed, so it's not a huge problem), when constructed to hold DVDs rather than CDs the spacing is a little uneven. Luckily, they can be evened out quite effectively using the spare shelves.
As other reviewers have mentioned, the shape of these shelves makes them a little precarious if placed on an uneven floor. Out solution is to place little pieces of cardboard under the front half of the shelf base, so that they rest ever so slightly back against the wall. This helps to prevent them being knocked over by children, pets or inebriated relatives. It should also be mentioned that they are nearly 7 feet tall, so those with low ceilings should check the measurements before buying! Aside from the uneven shelf spacing (not a problem if set up to hold CDs), these are very attractive pieces of furniture to have in the house, and at under £20 each, they are a bargain too.
As a sufferer of an Anxiety Disorder I have tried various products claiming to calm the nerves, and although the soothing effects of camomile are not entirely scientifically proven, I have always found camomile teas to be effective in the short term. Obviously they cannot be considered a medical cure, but in my experience they can help you relax and fall asleep, or set your mind a rest a little at a stressful time.
Many people do not enjoy drinking camomile, however, and this is probably why Twinings have produced a range of flavoured camomile teas. I have tried several of them, but this is my first taste of the Camomile and Spiced Apple variety.
As it is brewing, the smell is delicious, reminiscent of a spiced apple pie or cinnamon danish. As usual with flavoured teas however, the smell is much more potent than the taste, which is extremely mild and smooth. Although the apple and cinnamon flavours are modest, they do quite effectively mask the taste of camomile which is present mainly as an aftertaste. The combination is not unlike a mild, slightly spiced, fruity pear drop, and not at all unpleasant, if a little bland for some tastes.
Geo Challenge is a facebook game in which you can pit your geographical knowledge against that of your friends. As with all Playfish games, it's nicely made and has a fun ranking system by which you can compare your scores with others.
There are four rounds to a game, the first of which tests your knowledge of flags. You will have to match flags to country names as quickly and accurately as possible to get a good score. My knowledge of flags has increased hugely just by playing this game, so it actually really works as an educational game, too.
The second round will probably take some getting used to. In this round, you have to match the name of a country to it's shape. Most people will get the first few, but it's surprisingly difficult to memorise the shapes of so many countries, especially since a lot are quite similar to one another! This is probably the most difficult round for people who already have a good knowledge of geography.
Round three tests your knowledge of world cities. You will be asked to pinpoint various cities on a world map. This can also get quite difficult, but it's another round I personally have learnt a lot from!
The final round is probably the most difficult for me. Once again you're putting pins in the world map, but this time you're pinpointing landmarks. You'll be shown a photograph of the landmark, and you have to pinpoint where in the world it is. Personally, I found that many of the photographs were not easy to recognise, and a lot of the landmarks were unfamiliar.
All of the rounds have a way of helping you along if you're struggling; the longer you take to answer a question, the more clues you get to help you along. Obviously, this means that your overall score will suffer, but it does make for a shallow learning curve that means everyone can compete.
I love games like this on facebook; there aren't enough of them! My friends and I end up getting quite competitive over ones like this, and get some impressive scores (although I almost always get beaten!) It's a great way to interact with friends, it's quick and fun to play and will also increase your geographical knowledge. Plus, it's free, so you've nothing to lose by trying it. Yay! There are additional features that can be paid for, but these are not nessecary to get a lot of enjoyment out of the game.
I'm a big fan of traditional role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, but it's certainly true that they take a lot of work and preparation, as well as long-term dedication by the players to get running properly.
Inn-Fighting is a great game for those occasions when there simply isn't time to go through all the rigmarole of adventure planning and character creation. My gaming group often play it when someone is away, or, since it's very quick to play, whilst waiting for someone who is late!
It's highly portable as it comes in a very tiny box, so I often play it at the pub with a couple of friends as well. It's a simple game that condenses the rules and setting of the Dungeons & Dragons world down to the context of a bar-room brawl. Characters are represented by cards and have hit points represented by tokens (we usually use pennies). To put it simply, characters fight each other using the results rolled on a set of special dice to determine what moves they can pull off, and the hit points you remove from another person's character become 'victory points' for that player. First to 20 victory points wins. Because it is so simple, it can be played by almost anyone, and at the pub we have often involved people with no experience of Dungeons & Dragons type games. Another nice element is that no player is ever knocked out completely; if your character dies, you'll get a new one the following turn. There are also henchmen, who are a sort of mini-character who offer bonuses to your main character, and action cards that can be played to great effect in various situations.
It's definitely not a serious game, though. The characters are not particularly balanced, and there is a lot of luck involved (since the cards you get are random and a lot of things are decided by dice rolls). In my view, this makes the game very funny to play though, and gives new players a strong chance of doing well. It's easy to learn, and though in my experience new players look confused when the rules are explained, they know them inside out by the end of their first round.
The set is very nicely made and consists of a deck of cards and a set of dice. The artwork is of a high standard and the whole thing is produced with intelligence and good humour. Because of its unpredictable nature a game could last almost indefinitely, but in my experience an average round lasts about half an hour.
£8.99 is a pretty good price for something of this quality. It may seem like a lot to spend on a portable 'novelty' game, but our copy has seen a lot of use, and I suspect yours will too! Because the game varies so much, it never gets boring, and is perfect for passing the time and facilitating conversation.
At 53p each, these 113g pots might seem expensive to some. Personally though, only shopping to feed myself, it's a lovely little treat. I only wish the pot was a lot bigger!
Fool is a traditional dessert that combines yoghurt and cream with real fruit (30% in this case which is quite impressive) to make a rich, light, luxurious pudding. This is actually a wonderful example; the cream makes the fool rich and creamy, while the yoghurt adds thickness and a refreshing tartness that prevents the dessert from becoming too sickly. The texture is beautiful, it has the luxurious thickness of yoghurt but is carefully whipped to add a foamy, almost mousse-like element.
Traditionally, very tart fruits like gooseberries, blackcurrants and rhubarb are used in this dessert, and the latter is definitely my favourite. Rhubarb is a wonderful flavour and this fool allows it to be experienced fully and with flavours that compliment it wonderfully.
Unfortunately, I do tend to find the pots very small. Perhaps many people would like the size though, as the fool is quite rich. As far as I have seen (or can find online), they do not come in multipacks, which is a bit of a shame.
I've eaten these a few times when I've had a longing for a meat-based snack, but I only return in the absence of a better option.
These are roast chicken flavoured apparently. They have a savoury, buttery flavour but it tastes quite artificial, not dissimilar to the flavouring on cheap roast chicken crisps. The flavour of the chicken itself is mostly lost, but they do have a reasonable texture.
Having said that, I DO like them. I could eat lots and lots of them actually, and therein lies the main problem. Each pack weighs in at only 65g, and contains around 15 of these (tiny) snacks. I find myself having consumed them in a matter of minutes; there simply aren't enough, even for a snack!
So, I should buy two packets, eh? but here's the second problem- fridge raiders are very expensive for what they are. Each packet costs (in my experience) between £1.60 and £2.00, so a reasonable portion would cost somewhere in the region of £4.00! To me this seems absurd, since they are only tiny packets of little pieces of reformed chicken. Perhaps as part of a packed lunch the size would be more appropriate, but it'll be quite an expensive packed lunch!
I'd recommend trying these especially if you find them on offer. They really need to introduce a larger packet size if they want to keep my interest though!
These were the first Ricola lozenges I ever tried, having bought them at London Victoria station to eat on my journey. They are nothing short of the most delicious sweets of their kind I have ever eaten!
Despite being sugar-free, they do not have that unpleasant taste and texture normally associated with sorbitol and xylitol based sweets. They have a gorgeous, fruity taste. The dryness of cranberry is an inspired addition, and the classic herbal mixture of Ricola adds another clever dimension to the flavour.
They come in convenient 50g boxes which are packed tightly full of lozenges. Each packet is rather expensive, generally between £1.50 and £2.00, but this is a high quality imported product and worth every penny.
For a long time I couldn't find these in Cardiff where I live, so a friend of mine in the London area used to send them to me by post because I loved them so much! Thankfully, it is now possible to find them in some of the larger supermarkets in the area.
Trill toppers are compact little discs of seeds. Each pack contains 14 toppers, distributed between four different (natural) flavour toppings; apple, herb, egg and nuts.
The pack also contains a holder for the toppers. This works well at first, although when the product has been nibbled away at for a while, it becomes loose and can fall out. Well, my budgerigar seemed to think it was fun to tip it out anyway. The box also suggests placing the product in the normal feed bowl, so this is probably the best solution for when it comes loose.
Apparently these constitute a complete daily diet that's high in nutrition (there are vitamins and such added to the mix as well) and fun for the budgie to eat. I prefer to give my budgie loose seeds as well though, as he's not always in the mood for breaking seeds away from a block.
The varied flavours are a lovely idea though, as it gives some variation to his diet, which is sometimes hard to do, and anything that adds a little extra interest to his life is a bonus in my opinion.
They cost about £1.50 so they aren't expensive, and each piece should last a few days depending on whether they have other things to eat as well. According to the box, you should feed one per day, but I believe this is just a marketing ploy, as most budgies will not finish one this quickly.
It's always a good idea to pay attention to what your bird is eating and provide everything it needs. Trill toppers are a great supplement food, but I would personally suggest giving your bird other food options as well.
Since I discovered these about six weeks ago they have quickly become my Haribo sweet of choice. I've stocked up a bit since they've been on offer at half price a lot (either due to being new or to the proximity of Halloween, I'm not sure).
I think the fairest comparison is probably with Haribo Tangfastics. These cute little monster shapes are definitely sourer than those, which is a good thing in my opinion. Tangfastics were never particularly sour, so it's nice to have something that lives up to the description. In terms of variety though, Tangfastics probably win out. There are only three different monster flavours; lemon, apple and cherry. On the other hand, I think these are some of the nicest tasting jelly sweets I've ever had, particularly the cherry and apple flavours. I only wish they'd decided to include a fourth; orange, perhaps.
They come in a standard 160g bag, which is distinctive and green. I'm not usually interested in a product's packaging or shape, but the monsters are cute, and I think their flat shape adds to the experience of the flavour, as they can be sucked and savoured before chewing.
Obviously, they're sugary and not very good for you, but that's par for the course with sweets. They contain no artificial colours though, so that's something.
In short, I would definitely recommend these (unless you particularly dislike sour sweets). I'll certainly keep buying them!
Another new fruit infusion from the clever folks at Twinings, this time apparently taking advantage of the sudden recent popularity of pomegranates.
There are no particular health benefits cited, though as always there's no added sugar and the infusion is naturally caffeine free. A standard box contains twenty bags, and costs a little either side of £1, depending on where you shop.
The bags themselves have a pleasant, candied smell. Once water is added, the scent becomes much sharper and characteristic of raspberry. The sweetness remains though, which is unusual in teas of this type, but somewhat welcome.
*waits for it to cool a bit before continuing* :)
The pleasant, scented flavour of raspberries is definitely present, as is the smoother, sweeter taste of pomegranate. Unfortunately, the more delicate nuances of both are masked by disproportionate sourness and only really come into their own in the aftertaste. This infusion is sweeter than most, and I won't be adding sugar or honey to any future cups.
Overall, I consider this a fairly average offering from Twinings. It's not one of their best, but it's not among the worst either, as despite it's flaws the flavour combination is a good one. For me though, the balance of flavour is slightly off, and the overall taste a little indistinct for this to be anything more than a one-off novelty.