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This basic toaster only cost about 7 or 8 quid if I remember right!
I am starting to like the fact that, at last, shops are actually beginning to put 'affordable' items on to their shelves. I have noticed this in the last five years or so. Most household items have always been priced (for me anyway) at a figure where I give a little "hmmmm..." and grudgingly open the wallet. One of the facts behind this is that we, in Britain, are importing more and more goods from countries where the items can be made much cheaper than they can here.
Nowadays it seems you can get the items you need in the home for a reasonable price - I know we all have different ideas for pricing, i.e. what is and isn't expensive, but this is just my opinion. I am a firm believer in the saying "you get what you pay for". Now that is a double edged sword. In the case of this toaster, what you get is a toaster. Nothing fancy, no frills, no robust build, no space age design, no futuristic design, no hark-back-to-the-past, so called retro design. It is just a simple white design with none of the curves or flowing shapes of a well-designed piece of well, um, design I suppose.
This is a 4 slice toaster, so it least it has something a little extra going for it, in that most cheap toasters will only do two slices at a time. Ideal for a small family trying to get the rounds of toast buttered and marmaladed-off quickly in the mornings, so that everyone can get to work or school on time.
Being a basic toaster, it only has basic control: a control to vary the colour of your toast, which at the end of the day is probably just a timer, and you can also tell it to stop toasting at your will. I actually dislike these controls. You set it to one setting and someone else comes along and puts it to another - result being burnt toast for your good self. I am quite happy with an even more basic toaster that is factory set to toast an average slice of bread for an average time to give an average colour, crispness and so on everything else that is average about toast.
So, not much in the way of functions, but hey, it is only a toaster after all - it saves waiting for the grill on your cooker to heat up, then constantly keeping an eye on the grill for your toast not to burn. Looking at it from the grill point of view, it must also be a lot more efficient. So, I would imagine splashing out on a whole 7 or 8 quid is, in the long run going to save you on electricity bills, due to the efficiency of the toaster compared to a cooker's grill.
If I was selling this to someone, I wouldn't be able to give a long (or even short-) winded spiel on what gadgets and functions it has. for it really has none. No, I would say to people it is cheap and it does what it is meant to do. Personally I like that sort of straightforward honesty from a salesperson anyway. I am liking this because of its simplicity and cheapness, it is affordable by all. There really is no need for an expensive toaster, all you need is toast.
Now this review is actually an update - the original was written just under a year ago. I am glad to report the toaster is still operational. This brings me back to the double edged sword thing about getting what you pay for. You can pay through the nose (or at least you used to) for quality, which would last. Or you can pay the minimum price for something that is hopefully functional, and will hopfully last. We all know though in this day and age nothing is built to last - this is deliberate on two counts - firstly, the consumer wants instant gratification, cheaply if possible, secondly if you don't build it to last (or make it repairable), then the consumer will need to spend again for a new one. In the case of this toaster, I am happy to say it is still with us.
This isn't going to win any awards for design, then again neither is my kitchen, so it shouldn't look out of place.
This is a good, honest, simple, "does what it says on the packet" product. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone on a restricted budget.
This looks great from the moment you get the wrapping paper off!
This comes in a nice manly box, which is black all round except for one front face which has a striped pattern in mainly earthy colours of browns, ambers and reds, with the occasional powder blue and pink thrown in, I suspect for some sort of semiotic balance.
Opening the box, you get a nice solid square glass bottle, with the striped theme carrying on down one side of the bottle. You access the actual spray mechanism by unscrewing a round stopper on the top. this in itself also feels quite solid, like the bottle.
I like the design of the bottle, and although I liked the design of the Paul Smith London (a curvy bottle in a cylindrical box), this outing of Paul Smith is somewhat more manly, all round.
The scent itself is, for me typical; all lemony and spicy. That is fine, because that is the way I like a man's fragrance to be.
What I dislike about this fragrance is that it doesn't seen to have any staying power. You spray it on, and it seems to have gone the minute you step out the door.
Now I have heard the discussion that if you cannot notice your own fragrance, it means you have a good one, i.e. it is so subtle your senses have become accustomed to it, but others will notice it.
I don't think this is the case with this one, as my companions have also stated that they can't smell it when we are out
On initial spray it is a wonderful aroma, but it has that fade, that makes you think it is not worth the money. I appreciated this as a gift, but because of the fade, I won't be buying this for myself.
The product looks great, a really nice bit of design. It also smells great, the problem though is that this lovely scent just doesn't linger long enough.
This review refers to the ball type deodorant offered by Tesco in their value range.
These days we are all so much more aware of evey aspect of our appearance than we would have been as little as twenty years ago. The over-importance of how we look and appear to all those around us has been drummed into us by the media and the world of stardom.
This goes right from the expensive top end. i.e. the boob job and teeth whitening, down to simple things like keeping clean and smelling good, or at its simplest, not smelling at all.
This notion of being over-aware of all aspects of our appearance has been jumped upon by advertisers and manufacturers who, through the media, subtly make us feel inferior if we don't keep up. The end result is that we spend a pretty penny every year on grooming and personal hygiene products.
Whilst out on a food shop recently, the thought came into my mind "must get some deodorant" I don't have a normal brand of deodorant as such, so tend to look for something decent at a reasonable price.
I spied this "Tesco Value Anti-Deodorant" for only 30 pence and thought "hmmm... I will give it a go anyway"
Right, really there is not much you can say about a deodorant. This is of the ball type variety, so you give the bottle a little shake to coat the underside of the ball, then proceed to roll the deodorant liquid into your oxters. Then forget about it for the rest of the day!
This product has no discernible smell, except perhaps a slight tinge of alcohol. Some people may like this. I do as it doesn't interfere with any other expensive scent I might be wearing. It doesn't roll on sticky or leave you feeling sticky. For me it left no marks on my clothing, though to be fair I do let it dry in before I put my shirt/t-shirt on.
All the while I have been using this I have noticed no armpit-pong, or even the slightest niff, even after any strenuous work or exercise.
This, to me, is a bargain at 30 pence for 50ml.
Who remembers Freddo?
I used to love this as a very small child.
What is it that attracts your younger imagination to one lump of chocolate over another? After all most chocolate we were given as children tasted the same.
This is where the marketing men get us from a very early age. Make the chocolate into this shape or that shape and put it into a wrapper which just coontinues the theme.
Of course, as a child, you didn't know this at the time. You just saw the frog with his big eyes and though: "YAY - Its Freddo. I wan't a Freddo"
Well I had the joy of having one of these Freddo bars recently. I say joy. It was more a case of "Oh I remember these". CHOMP! One. maybe two bites. Gone.
It seemed the same as it did all those years back. It felt and looked like a frog shaped, very small bar of chocolate. I can't remember, how these were wrapped all those years ago, so can't really comment on the wrapping changing. I also can't say, "they used to be bigger than this". I have always remembered a Freddo being small. Unlike Curly Wurlys. Now they HAVE got smaller.
I hate to be a spoilsport, especially as I can be a big kid at heart, but the magic of eating a Freddo, is back there in the past for me. The chocolate tasted nice, but I can't see the point in buying a bites-worth of chocolate these days.
This is definitely one for the kids, and very small kids at that who might just find this substantial.
As much as I might sound a little down on this, I won't give it a low rate. It is after all, very tasty chocolate. It is also aimed at kids and it is a decent size for a very small child. With that thought I will pretend I am a five year old reviewer and give it 4 stars.
Many of us, whether we are die hard car enthusiasts or not, might have dabbled a little in looking after a well loved car. For me this came in my teens, when I could not afford a really good car.
I had to put up with a rust-bucket of some sort, and from time-to-time would find myself getting out the mesh, filler, sandpaper, primer and spray paint.
Although this book, How to Restore Paintwork, is really aimed at the srious hobbyist, it did come in useful for my little jobs. From little rust spots, here and their to full blown holes, I was able to get the advice I needed to paint things up at worst, and at best to get a reasonable looking shiny end product.
This book goes through the whole thing and discusses at length the paint products and systems in use. Although most of use are going to nip down to the car parts shop and get the nearest colour we can in a spray can, the more serious restorer will need to know this info.
Much of what lacks in any paint restoration job by the amateur is technique. How many times have we tried to spray a repair job and endud up with runs. smudges and eventual cracking or crazing of the paintwork.
This book explains the whys and how-nots you need to know with regard to technique. It also explains what can and will go wrong. Armed with that knowledge you are going to avoid the mistakes.
As the years go by, I see less and less people interested in doing their own thing with a car. Body work and paints are better than they were years ago. This book really belongs in the workshop of the car enthusiast. Someone who has picked up that car they always wanted, but it is in a bit of a state.
It is an older book, though it would seem it is held in some reverence by car restoration enthusiasts.
This is one I will be keeping on my shelves for when that mid-life crisis kicks in and I find myself an old Jaguar that I can do up.
This is a must have item for the fan of ELO and The Move.
Essentially the ELO story, but as the writer of the book, drummer Bev Bevan, was also involved with the Move, (the 'prequel, if you like, to ELO) we get an insight there as well.
This tells the story of ELO up to around about 1979/1980.
Naturally it starts with a biography of Bev Bevan. We get some of the most typical anecdotes of wanabee rock stars, such as how the school uniform was adapted to be a bit trendy, and how the autograph would be practices for those days of stardom to follow.
We are taken through the journey of The Move to Carl Wayne quitting and Jeff Lynne being recruited. this eventually led to the formation of ELO.
This is where the story really begins and you are treated to what you can expect from a rock group biography, the ups and downs, the arguments, the ins and outs - indeed a usual collection of anecdotes and musings.
I happen to like rock biographies, even if I don't particularly like a band. I did want to read this though, as I liked ELO in the 1970s and 1980s, so when I managed to acquire this, I was delighted (it is not an easy book to track down).
What you are getting here is the story of a band that was managed by Don Arden. That is Sharon Osbourne's dad to the ordinary punter. To anyone in the know, this guy was a rock svengali and a bit of a vicious terrier. This adds somewhat to the story, and indeed we get a chapter dedicated to Don Arden.
This is a thoroughtly interesting read. There is a cracking range of photographs in here to help tell the story as well.
One for your Christmas list.
Imagine a little churchey middle English town, with its own little church of course, which in turn has its own particular vicar. The church also has its own particular church cat and its own church mice.
The adventures of said characters can be found in Graham Oakley's Church Mice series of children's books.
This particular book The Church Mice at Bay, tells the story of when the Vicar goes on holiday, and the adventures in store for the Church mice and their friend, Sampson the church cat.
The curate who turns up to carry out the care of the church, in the vicar's absence, happens to be a bit of a character. He is a bit of a hippy. a bit of a rock music lover. He practices yoga. He plays the sitar. These are some of the things he likes. One of the things he doesn't like is mice.
He doesn't understand why Sampson the church cat hob-nobs with the mice, though he makes sure the cat knows his place - that is, to catch the mice.
The cat and the mice are friends though and they hatch a plan. The plan doesn't so much go wrong, things just don't go to plan. In fact everything turns into a bit of a mess.
Will this be to the cat and mice' benefit?
The strength of this book is the illustration. The books have a very distinctive style, which really does tell the story alongside the scant words.
If you are an adult, who missed out on these, but still enjoys the guilty pleasure of nosing into a children's book every now and again, I suggest you track down a copy of any of the Church Mice series.
I do like a strong bit of cheese on my crackers, in my sandwiches and on my cheese-on-toast.
Although it is not exactly a difficult job, I really can't stand the process of grating cheese or slicing it up just into the right size for your bread or crackers - especially on those days when you are really starving and really need to get some food in you quickly.
One of my favourite cheeses is McLelland Seriously Strong Cheese, so I was really pleased to see that you can get this as a cheese spread.
First thing you need to remember about a cheese spread, is that it is going to have a bit of a false, processed flavour to it. I am sure most of you are aware of this and have kind of grown used to it over the years.
McLelland's Seriously Strong Spreadable Cheese is just a little different. The seriously stong flavour does move away a little from that processed taste, that you have accepted all these years, simply because it is what was in your lunchbox at school or work.
This stuff is simple to use. It doesn't clag up in the fridge, and is still easily spreadable.
I love the idea that this comes in a tub rather those foil wrapped, triangular portions - getting the foil off these is more frustrating than grating normal cheese.
This comes in a tub - as far as foil is concerned, there is just one peel-back layer, then you can get straight in there with your spreading knife.
This is seriously tasty, quick and convenient. Recommended!
First we had Weetabix, then we had Oatibix. Now we have Oatibix Bitesize. Having already tried the original Oatibix and not finding them much different to Weetabix, I was curious when I saw these to try them out.
First off I tried them straight, and just like Weetabix and Oatibix, you need something sweet on them. sugar is the first thing that springs to mind, and sugar it was. Just like the other two, this goes very soggy and mushy quite quickly, but that is OK by me. I have become used to that over the years and this is now how I enjoy my Weetabix type cereal.
I am still surprised at how un-oaty, they are, and how much it just seems like it is Weetabix that is being eaten. And like Weetabix the mushy thing happens, so that makes it seem even more as if you are eating some sort of neutral mess, that needs sweetening up.
This sounds as if I am negatively criticizing this stuff. That is not the case, I do like it as it is. I am just a little dissapointed that the name Oatibix implies an oatiness, yet it seems just like Weetabix.
You can (and need to in my opinion) do the same thing you might with Weetabix, that is, drizzle them with honey or syrup, or one of my favourites with almost any breakfast cereal is to serve with slices of banana. They will also do well in the microwave, with plenty of milk though as they tend to come out looking a bit burnt and dried round the edges otherwise.
Unless you are looking for something specifically oaty and markedly different from Weetabix, I would give these a miss. The fact they are bite size doesn't make much difference - if you don't like the mushiness inherent with the Weetabix/Oatibix range, these might appeal as you will get one or two into your mouth before the mush sets in, but to be fair, the same thing happens with normal size Weetabix and Oatibix, that is you can get one or two mouthfuls of that in before the mush begins.
They do taste allright (with a little sweetening), so can't mark them down, I just feel it is a bit of a pointless product for the consumer, on the other hand it is a marketing exercise for the procuders of Weetabix.
I haven't quite been convinced by the "buy organic" thing yet. Perhaps I will be when the prices are made the same as non-organic, anyway...
Why not give it a try?
At nearly £2.00 for four pints of organic, and about 20p to 30p less than that for normal milk, you will need to weigh up yourself the health, environmental and budget benefits.
I wanted to try this to see if there was any noticeable, immediate difference.
It came in a plastic bottle: if I was the 'organic type' this would rub me up the wrong way for a start, but I am not the organic type - my budget doesn't stretch to being green (yes kids, being green, I mean properly, full blown green, rather than some "aren't I clever" tokenism, involves a bit of a budget, if you want to live something approaching a 'normal life' concurrently).
I tried this organic milk, and can't say I noticed any difference from ordinary milk. I put it in tea and coffee. I put it in cereal. I used it in recipes. I drank it straight. It tasted like milk. It looked like milk. It smelt like milk.
We are told it is better for you. We are told it is better for the environment. If it is so good for you, why is it that little bit dearer. Well the short and simple answer to that, I feel, is that it is a lifestyle product, and if you will excuse the non-intended pun, a cash-cow for the supermarkets.
Really, if something is so good for you, in this case organic milk, does that not have connotations that 'regular' milk is bad for you (and the environment). If 'regular' milk is so bad for you, what is it still doing on the shelves?
As an individual, who needs to eat and drink, and who has no control over the means of food production, and doesn't have the budget to eat and drink the lifestyle way, I have to take what the supermarket offers me within my means.
Sorry if that upsets a few Guardian readers out there, but I don't have the income of your typical Guardian reader - that 20p or 30p difference on every organic product adds up for me at the end of the week, and would be hugely noticeable at the end of the year.
I am sure those who have the scientific equipment and who have done the necessary tests and studies will be able to convince me I NEED to buy organic. That is, the UNBIASED scientists who don't have an agenda. But for now, while ordinary milk is still on the shelves, the newspapers and Tom and Barbara Good (you know the ones up the road with the HUGE garden-cum-smallholding, and a comfortable wage coming in), aren't going to convince me that ordinary milk is so bad for you.
The organic milk tasted, acted, felt, looked and smelt like 'ordinary milk. It was more expensive. My extra 20p ain't going to stop the production of non-organic milk, ever!
As a product, it does the job though.
This is one of those teatime treats which, I am afraid to say doesn't get gently nibbled.
I would say about three bites and it is gone.
I find egg custart tarts a little difficult to eat without getting some degree of crumbs about the place or a litle of the eggy mixture going somewhere, so to overcome this, I find it best to eat them as quickly as possible - this in theory minimises the possibility of you spilling some. Right that is my excuse for scoffing, what's yours?
There are four of these to a pack, so that is just about enough for me, however you will probably want to share them with someone else.
They look feel and taste exactly as an egg custart tart should. The egg mixture is in a delicious and sweet shortcrust case, and filled up to the top. The top is of course covered in nutmeg.
Sometimes an egg custard tart tastes only eggy, with a lack of the nutmeg flavour and a really bland unsweet shortcrust.
These have all three: egginess, sweetness and nutmeg spiciness. The egg has set, so that it doesn't fall apart at first bite, but not too much that it is solid. There is a nice moist wobbliness to the custard.
I will gladly scoff these with a cup of coffee, but my preference is for a strong, hot sweet cup of tea.
Really, you can't beat an egg custard tart baked on the premises of a local home bakers, but these seem to have gone into decline since Greggs made a huge foray into the high street market - I am no longer a fan of Greggs and their cloned output! Sadly the supermarkets seem to be the next best producers of reasonable quality baked confectionary, cakes etc since the decline of the local baker. Next time you are in Sainsbury's, grab a box of these.
I am not a 'gamer' so please don't expect a gamer's opinion on this game.
I am just a humble soul who might try to get to grips with a PC, video or console game now and again, and try to get some fun and enjoyment from it.
I tend to approach such games with some caution, as I am absolutely useless at them in general.
This game tells of the adventure of Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke - a professor of what, I don't know and neither do I know what Luke is supposedly learning from him. Essentially though the professor takes on the role of a detective, but...
There are two sides to this game.
There is an adventure, and a series of puzzles. The adventure is really just a backdrop for the series of puzzles.
This game could so easily have been marketed as "A variety of interesting puzzles of varying difficulty", but I doubt it would have appealed to younger people, so they are set against a mystery, which also involves a murder and other strange goings on. While I might have sounded negative, the mystery does give interest to the game.
The puzzles are 'found' in terms of time i.e where you are in the adventure, and also in terms of geography. The adventure tales place in a village called St Mystere and the player navigates the Professor and Luke around the place. Other characters or occurences within the game will dictate where the professor needs to go next, and which puzzles you will solve.
Gameplay is actuated by use of a stencil (this is for the Nintendo DS). The player touches the characters, or the surroundings to activate directions, or dialog pertaining to the adventure or the puzzles.
The puzzles might involve writing numbers or words after you have made a calculation or decision, or moving objects about the screen.
I am a little biased and really only like this game for solving the puzzles, and find the prefessor's mystery solving side of it a little bit of an annoyance - but not that much of an annoyance. But for those who like to really immerse themselves into this game a little deeper than I do, I imagine this will be added and valuable interest.
...so, I thought I would give this a try anyway!
There are many ways you can make a pizza from scratch.
You can make a pizza from scratch, properly.
You can buy a ready made pizza base
You can get some bread and put pizza ingredients on it to make a, ahem, "pizza" - the posher the bread, the more pizza like it is assumed to be.
You can buy pizza base mix.
There are those days when you really can't be bothered to measure out flour, yeast, knead, wait, prove, rise etc etc.
So on one of those days, you might want to try this. You will of course already have one of these in your cupboard, because, for me, if it was one of those days when I couldn't be bothered doing the proper pizza base thing, chances are I can't be bothered going all the way to Asda for a pack of this.
I already had one of these in the cupboard - long forgotten, but still in date.
This contains two lots of dry ingredients. Just add warm-ish water - about 100 millitres. Give it a good old stir, and when it starts to thicken give it a good old knead. If you have got your water measurement right, you should be able to roll this into a ball then flatten with that rolling pin, which doesn't come with the pack.
This is also the bit where you will need a greased pizza tray, or any old oven tray really - if your oven tray isn't round you might need to rethink the shape of that perfect circle you probably just rolled out!
You will also need toppings. Something tomatoey that isn't ketchup and something cheesy, but not in a cottagey sort of way. Anything extra could be a bonus depending on your taste. I find finely chopped onions and a big handful of fresh chopped basil leaves really helps.
Put dough on baking tray. Put topping on; tomato first, then chesse, then other stuff.
Bake at 170 for between 10 to 20 mins (nearer 10 if you have a fan assisted, nearer twenty if you have something old leaky and innefficient)
Remove, cut into slices and hope that you have put enough topping on to mask the over-yeasty taste of this pizza base.
I much prefer making my own base, but this is more of a fun thing, especially if you have children around the place and want to introduce them to cooking.
Ever get one of those days when you pick up the wrong item in the supermarket?
Yes, me too.
In my haste to actually shop at Sainsbury's on a budget (that is a feat), I picked up items I am not too familiar with. So there I am on a mission to find a reasonably priced pack of smoked bacon, yes that is right I said smoked bacon, I accidentally picked up this unsmoked stuff - that'll learn me for being such a cheapskate - I looked at the price, rather than the product, which incidentally was about £1.50 for a usual size pack (I can't remember the weight, but think of the size of your average packet of bacon).
Essentially, I like bacon to have a good smokey, salty flavour too it.
Anyway, I have got this stuff home and I am in the kitchen starving for a bacon sarnie.
I like bacon to be the right thickness. Anything too thin disappears when you cook it, and anything too thick, I just don't enjoy as much - personal taste.
This was a little on the thick side. I like bacon to be a little tender and easy to chew, and I often find thick bacon a little tough, especially the budget stuff. This was no exception. Bacon to me is something that should be smokey and salty. Unsmoked to me just tastes plain. While some people might like this, I don't. This being budget didn't help either, it was relatively tasteless.
This was a case of whipping out the brown sauce and splashing it on. With the rest of it, I did a bacon and strong cheese thing in a sandwich to give the bacon a little bit of a zing.
I won't be buying this again though.
Most of you are probably aware of this stuff in the winter time, and I bet it will definitely bring back memories of childhood!
The primary purpose of Vicks Vapor Rub is to help unblock the nasal passages when breathing is made difficult by the symptoms of a cold such as blocked sinuses.
If you haven't encountered this stuff before it is greyish, whitish thick gel. It comes in a small blue plastic jar, and this in turn is in a green and white box. I remember this used to come in a glass jar, which made the blue colour of it very vivid.
When you have a blocked nose or problems breathing due to a cold, flu or minor sinus problems, you use this gel in such a way that you can inhale the menthol vapours it gives off, which are supposed to make it easier for you to breathe again.
You might remember as a child having this stuff rubbed onto your chest and back before you went to bed at night. As much as I liked the smell of it, I didn't like the cold 'feeling' it gave off on my skin (think the opposite, but similar effect of 'Deep-Heat rub). As an adult that 'coldness' doesn't bother me too much and I will quite happily settle down for the night with Vicks splattered all over me to help get a relatively snuffle free sleep.
Another way of using this is to put a couple of teaspoonfuls into a sink of very hot water. The evaporation of the water will bring the menthol of the Vicks into the atmosphere. Put your head above the sink, in a comfy and safe manner, about six inches above the water and breathe in the vapour given off - oh almost forgot! Drape a towel over your head to trap the vapour and to keep the heat in. This is like having a mini sauna just for your nose. Just like a sauna you might start to feel a little overheated and maybe even dizzy, so only use this method if there is someone else around.
If you are reading this in the summer, don't forget this stuff also comes in useful (for me anyway) at this warmest time of the year.
Whilst not a hay fever sufferer, I do get the odd day now and again, when the pollen count is high, where I will either have an extremely runny nose, or at the other end of the scalea blocked up nose. Yes, Vicks can be of a great help in the summertime as well. So, be sure to go and drag it to the front of the medicine cabinet.