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I don't often bother playing the lottery, sometimes when it's a big rollover jackpot which probably makes it even harder to win - I don't know the probability stats - but I see it as a bit of fun.
What I would do depends on how much I won obviously. If it was a modest £1m I'd buy a property, something with character in the city I am just now (Edinburgh) which would probably eat half of it up!
I'd for sure give a chunk to my sister and nephew, treat my friends and put another chunk away for retirement. Boring, I know, but it means being able to relax knowing I'm taken care of in old age.
If I won a massive amount, ie £50m this is when I'd start looking at other people and wanting to change their lives too. Sadly there are so many charities that receive little or no government funding and rely heavily on volunteers and donations so I would love to take the pressure off those charities and donate a sum to ensure they can continue their work and improve other peoples lives.
I think there comes a point where £30m feels the same as £40m, £50m etc so being unable to actually spend that amount would mean having to donate it to others who can.
I can't drive - yet - so I might treat myself to a car. Me and my partner were walking back from Sainsburys today and there's a little Mini cooper parked on one of the streets nearby and I told her that if I ever do learn to drive, that's the car I want. And not one of those new Minis, I want the old fashioned original Mini's.
I don't need piles of money to feel secure or feel spoiled, I had my birthday recently and just opted for a chinese meal at home instead of going out and spending money I don't have to.
I think that money does equal power, but I'd like to think that I'd be responsible and see it as the power to make a difference, not just line the pockets of big companies who have enough already!
Possibly my all time favourite film, a cult classic, Withnail & I is the story of two out of work actors in 60's London, living in squalor and looking for an escape.
Drawing on his experiences in 1960s Camden, the film is written and directed by Bruce Robinson who identifies as the "...I" character in the film (played by Paul McGann), known as Marwood in the unpublished novel. Withnail (Richard E. Grant) is the alcoholic and bitter struggling actor desperate to escape the misery of their impoverished existence - seeking the finer things in life.
The angst of Marwood coupled with Withnails spiral into despair leads them to plan a trip out to the countryside for a while, staying in the cottage belonging to Withnails' accentric Uncle Monty (wonderfully acted by the late Richard Griffiths), a tubby upper class gay gent.
Arriving at the delapidated cottage in Penrith in the middle of a storm, the pair quickly learn that the idyllic rural life is not as they imagined it to be. The local folk see them as they are - townies with no appreciation of what country life involves. The feeling is not reciprocated as the two become frustrated at the slow pace of life, reliance on the kindness of farmers and frightening poachers threatening them. Their survival instincts are severely lacking and it's only at the arrival of Uncle Monty in the middle of the night where the quaint rural holiday can begin. Unluckily for Marwood, this also marks the beginning of an awkward exchange where he must continue to dissuade Monty's unwelcome advances (Withnail telling Monty that Marwood is gay in order to secure the cottage).
Becoming ever more disheartened at his friends betrayal, the friendship is put to the test and finally the vacation comes to an end when Marwood receives a telegram detailing an audtion back in London that he must return for. Withnail's refusal to accept lowly acting jobs isn't appeased when Marwood is given the part in a play which requires him to move to Manchester.
Leaving Withnail in London surrounded by the dysfunctional drug fuelled drop outs as the decade ends, you can't help feel that Marwood has realised that his friend will ultimately hold him back and drag him down. There is sympathy for Withnail though, and the quotes in this film have helped it become a cult classic.
The film draws to a close where Withnail is left to his own devices, to struggle on in his own misery. You can't help but feel that it's what he does best!
The acting is second to none and Richard E. Grant is magnificent, the supporting cast make it what it is without being a sensationalised A-star epic.
When I tell people this is my favourite film and they ask what it's about, I struggle to sum up the plot as, admittedly, not a whole lot happens! Watch it for the dialogue alone - you won't be disappointed!
I recently celebrated my birthday and this was one of the gifts I received. I really love The Body Shop range of shower gels and I adore anything citrus-y so I was pleased when I opened a gift that contained this and some other Body Shop goodies.
The packaging is a transparent recyclable bottle with a screw-on flippable lid. On the side is a peelable ingredients and information panel. There is also a QR code that you can scan with your mobile to read more information about the Body Shops Fair Trade scheme. I've always used Body Shop products and recycle where I can. Before local councils provided recycling schemes, the Body Shop had a bank in store where you could return your empties, so I've always admired their ethical values.
So, onto the product itself. Of course, the first thing I did was flip the lid open and take a sniff. Heaven! It doesn't smell chemically or synthetic like most fruit scented gels can. I always find it strange when you have flavoured things and they taste nothing like the real thing. Like Sunny Delight - when was the last time you tasted an orange like that!?! This definitely has the scent of satsuma which is a lot softer than the tang of oranges. The product uses satsuma extract and mandarin oil which I guess gives it that authentic aroma.
When using the gel, I also think you can feel the oil in it. It feels a thicker consistency than most everyday shower gels and when lathering, I can feel that it's not a harsh soapy feel - it contains no soap at all so leaves your skin very soft and moisturised. Fortunately, there isn't an oily or greasy residue, it's well balanced to prevent that from happening. The lovely scent soon fills the bathroom and the smell also lingers subtly on your skin afterwards without being overpowering.
The lather feels rich and a little goes a long way, which I'm glad as it will last even longer. I really love citrus things and often use Original Source products which are similar to the Body Shops range - they are great for morning showers and really wake you up. I felt really clean without being overloaded with chemicals.
Since this was a gift, I consulted the Body Shop website for price information. It currently sells for £4 but also comes in a smaller and larger bottle size. In the same range there are hand soaps, body butter, body polish and more. There's also a home fragrance oil which I will check out in the shop so my home can smell delicious - not just at shower time!
I'm a big fan of sandwich wraps and paninis when it comes to lunchtime snacks so when I saw the Breville VST025 on sale, I decided to get one so that I could make my own at home.
I have owned many traditional toasted sandwich makers in the past, the type that seal and make triangular toasties and have found them to be messy and have a few issues with the closing clip breaking or coming away. So after reading a bit about this sandwich press I decided to get one as it seemed more versatile than the traditional ones.
Immediately after removing the VST025 from its box, it appears nice and modern in a stainless steel finish and looks good in a modern kitchen. The build is sturdy and seemed a bit bigger than I imagined. Non slip feet keep it in place which is reassuring as it can become very hot while in use. There is a handle to open and close the nonstick hotplates which is also stainless steel with a black cool touch handle. When not in use, the arm can be secured in place using a sliding lock on the right hand side. On top of the sandwich press are two lights to indicate when the optimum cooking temperature is reached.
The operation of the sandwich press works around a floating hinge and two hot plates which cook the food. You make up your sandwich, which can be anything from a ciabatta/panini, filled tortilla wrap, regular sandwich or even flatbreads or naan. Lowering the lid ensures that the food is cooked evenly top and bottom and allows different thickness of bread or paninis to be used.
Once in place and cooking, I normally find that turning the sandwich round ensures a more even cook. Depending on the type of bread used and the filling, I find that there's not much leakage - a problem I've found with traditional toastie machines. Also the hotplates have a raised lip around the edge so any spills are contained on the hotplate and not spilling over the sides which saves on cleaning. Paninis turn out really nice at a fraction of the cost of buying from a cafe. I also enjoy toasted chicken wraps and have even fried an egg on the hotplate! The nonstick surface means you dont need any butter or oil (apart from a little oil for the egg lol)
Cooking times vary but essentially things are ready fairly quickly. My only criticisms of the product are that it's not the best for making sandwiches with regular slices bread - this is the only times the filling has spilled out. It's best to use non metallic utensils when cooking on this as they can scratch the nonstick hotplates. To clean after use I wait until the sandwich press has cooled and then wipe down. It is so much easier to maintain than traditional sandwich makers and so much more versatile.
I use this a lot more than I imagined I would and it's normally kept on my kitchen worktop. The power cord isn't that long so some may have to store it away if short on power sockets.
I'd definitely recommend this to anyone thinking of buying a sandwich press and would urge anyone who is thinking of buying a traditional sandwich maker to try this as I feel you won't regret it.
When I had to part company with my previous HP all in one printer, which had lasted a fair few years, I naturally wanted to consider HP for my new model.
I like the convenience of all in ones as they remove the need to have multiple devices when short on space - and plug sockets. So when I researched the HP e-All-in-One, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was wireless. I will come to that later on.
When purchased, the printer cost me £35.00 and this is normally what I would spend on a printer as I don't tend to use it everyday and normally need an average dpi output as it's mainly text I have to print. I occasionally use the scanner when required so having this included is ideal.
The build of the printer is black (although I'm sure I've seen the same model in white) and features the scanner/copier at the top which is accessed under a hinged lid. Items can be placed on the glass and either scanned in to your computer, or items placed face down can be copied and printed straight out.
To the left hand side is a front facing control display which is touch activated. Here you can access the menus, choosing what function you wish to use, how many copies, what size of print you require etc. The display is clear although is not very responsive and I have noticed a slight delay in pressing the on-screen buttons and the printer activating. Although not a major problem, it can be frustrating when having to key in a lot of information.
Underneath the display is a button to turn the wireless capability on and off, which illuminates when on. There is also an SD card slot that is useful is printing photos directly from your cameras memory card. When inserted, it also allows you to view a preview of each one on screen before going on to choose size of print etc.
In the front centre you find the main part of the printer, the paper tray and a movable guide to select the width or shape of paper or envelope you are using. The paper tray folds up flat against the front of the printer when not in use and there is a slide out support and stopper to ensure when your printing is done, it isn't ejected onto the floor but is held on the tray.
To the right hand side, there is an indentation to open the printer up when inserting the ink cartridges. Included in the box were some original HP starter inks which will get you going, although they are a smaller capacity than regular cartridges so I bought some additional inks as I knew I would be needing them soon. The cartridges used with this model are HP 364 and although not the cheapest, are about mid range in price.
A software CD is included to install onto your computer but the printer is also plug-and-play so is set up with minimal fuss. There is also a printer cable if you choose to connect it directly to your computer or laptop. One of the main reasons I opted for this model was that it is wireless and I use a laptop so it's just more convenient to not have to be sat next to the printer and connect it up when I need to use it. My partner uses a desktop PC and the printer remains connected to this and sits underneath the desk. The wireless set up was actually ok, it involves connecting the printers IP address to your home router and laptop so if your home network has a password - and it really should! - you key this password into the printer using the touch screen display and then you're good to go.
Another nice feature on this model is that you can send it emails. Yes, I was puzzled when I heard that too. Basically the printer has it's own IP address and this enables it to receive communication though your broadband. By going onto the HP website, you set up an account and choose an email address for the printer. Therefore, if you are at work and need to print off some things at home, you send the document to the printers email address and it will print it out and be waiting for you when you get home. In a way, it works a bit like a fax in that it automatically receives and prints out information. You have the option to view email print jobs instead of it being on auto. I had some fun the first week trying it out when I told people the email address and had all kinds of random things popping out!
I had an HP app on my phone which meant that any images I'd taken on my phone could be sent to the printer via wireless connection instead of using the email function. I've used this a few times when checking email on my phone and printing out attachments without having to turn my laptop on. Again, can be very useful thing to have.
My partners new computer uses WiFi so now we have the option to move the printer anywhere at home which is very convenient if short on space.
Now on to discuss the operation of the printer. The print quality is average, 600dpi which isn't mindblowing and it copes reasonably well with photographic images. The speed is up to 32 pages per minute and it can be a little chuggy and noisy - another thing that scares the cat - it's not an unbearable noise though. Not had any technical issues although it is worth noting that if you change your home network settings or wireless password, you will have to tell the printer as the wireless will not work.
I've never had a paper jam yet. The only thing I would recommend is occasionally printing off a page so that the print heads don't dry up. The e-All-in-One has some nice features and whilst I don't use all of them all day everyday, it's definitely value for money considering the price.
I wanted an additional watch that I could wear at the gym and after wearing my usual watch with fabric strap I soon realised why I needed a watch like the Breo! Sweaty arms and damp shower room afterwards do not bode well for a fabric strap :( This type is a lot more hygienic for this type of activity or maybe if you worked in a profession involving being around water/washing your hands often. It is also water resistant so really the perfect inexpensive watch for swimmers. I can't swim so not had the chance to try this out yet.
The range of colours will suit teenagers and the watch is available in different sizes (medium is 170mm, large is 190mm) since there is no adjustment on the strap. The colours available are white, black, bright pink and sky blue.
I like quirky watches and this seemed a little different and minimal. This would also be suitable for people with a nickel allergy as there will be no metal irritating the skin. I liked the range of colours available but went for the black one as it's more slimming (lol)
The digital display is quite small and neat and the silicon strap is in one piece, that is, there's no fastening or buckle - again, handy if wearing at the gym. The watch is easy to set and there are concealed buttons underneath the LCD display you simply press in to access the time/date option. It will also count seconds but I feel the display is a little small to be used as a stopwatch, I much prefer a larger digital display when watching my time. The battery life is 2 years and to change the battery you have to sort of squeeze the display unit from inside the rubber case to access this. Not had to change it yet but I imagine that's how you would do that.
The strap is nice and soft and comfortable and does feel like more of a sporty material (not sure what I mean by that). The product info states that it is tourmanline and soft touch rubber. Feels nice to the touch. It is also lightweight and the rubber material has no scent, which I am glad about as I become hot when wearing this at the gym. Being flexible also means that it's not as restrictive as a plastic or metal face and the focus is very much on minimal.
I got mine for £7.99 and it is used exclusively for the gym. Although the build quality isn't fine swiss craftmanship, it does the job of displaying the time while I can use my other timer/HRM for my workout.
The watch itself comes in a case which is where I keep it when not in use and Breo guarantee the watch for 12 months so you can't really go wrong at this price. I do like the rest of their range and their watches are inexpensive but nicely designed.
My verdict? Cheap and cheerful, it does what I need it to do and if it failed, I wouldn't be upset at having to buy another one.
I have thick unruly frizz prone hair and I absolutely NEED straighteners as I am not lucky enough to have hair that curls nicely, it just puffs out and goes wild and... oh, I could go on but I'm sure if you're considering straighteners then you are in the same boat!
So I've had a few over the years and tend to use them at around 200 degrees to ensure the heat goes right through my thick hair. In the past, I've felt my hair a little frazzled at this temperature with cheapo straighteners so was wary when choosing my next pair. I considered some GHDs but some other reviews showed that these performed just as well so when I saw them in Debenhams sale I gave them a shot.
Out of the box, I could see they had a nice build quality, a black rubbery finish on the outer handles and the hotplates a nice smooth purple. They looked nice.
The power cord has the ability to swivel around which is handy to avoid getting tangled up and the power cord itself is long enough to stretch a distance.
The NSS087 uses ionic technology to prevent frizz. I don't have a physics degree but all I know is that it stops flyaway frizz and that's what I'm looking for! When not in use, there is a lock button which you push in and it closes the hinge between the plates which is handy to use when you've finished using them and waiting for them to cool.
The controls are placed on the inner of one of the 'arms' of the straighteners. There is an on off switch that slides to turn the straighteners on. A red light flashes briefly while they reach the chosen temperature and remains lit while in use. The temperature control is on a dial next to the on/off switch and can easily be turned up while holding the straighteners in your hand.
The outer casing is flattened on both sides which make it easy to sit flat when styling - I had cheap ones years ago with a rounded casing, causing them to rock over and the hot plates caused scorching my furniture. Yes, these do get very hot but that's to be expected, so exercise the same caution when using any hot styling product.
Overall, I am very pleased with these and use them almost every day without any cause to complain. I am very difficult to please when it comes to these things so I hope the good performance continues as I would hate to have to replace these when they work so well.
Thanks for reading!
My other half was upgrading her desktop PC and the old monitor was a little 15" display that was past its best so having sorted out the PC, I began looking for a suitable monitor.
Wanting something a bit bigger I began research and thought a 24" screen would be nice and there were some good deals but on reflection, I think it may have looked ridiculous as its sat near the 32" tv and would either make the tv look tiny or the tv would make the monitor look huge.
Given the dimensions for the HP w1907, I reckoned this was probably a sensible screen size. The appearance of the monitor and stand also looks good, nice and modern and a bit like the Apple desktops without the ridiculous price tag for a picture of a fruit.
When it arrived, it was packaged really well and upon assembly, the stand is very sturdy and shows no sign of being toppled - piece of mind when you have a curious cat. Cables can be neatly tucked around the back of the stand to keep them out of the way and there are some connections there to allow headphone input to.
The screen surround is a glossy black and on the top right edge is an on/off switch which is illuminated. The rest of the screen surround is a brushed silver colour like the base and looks nice and modern.
On first use I was impressed with the brightness and clarity and so glad I went for this screen size as I feel anything bigger would have felt like I was sat with my nose pressed to a tv!
The w1907 responds well and feels like a more expensive model so I feel I should mention value for money when praising it. On the screen are easy to use menu buttons to control things like brightness and volume - the speakers are built in - so it is very simple to use. The output of the speakers is sufficient but I imagine if you were intending to use this monitor specifically for movies or gaming, you would be using a separate speaker for that purpose. I'd say the speakers are the only thing that may disappoint users.
On the whole, a very nice monitor from HP. Their products are somehow viewed as budget items but I have an HP wireless printer and like this, feel that I should give credit where it's due. They are easy to set up and use and to date, have never had a problem with anything of theirs.
This model is now a few years old but it still looks the part and performs as good as anything else.
Thanks for reading!
Well, nowadays most mobiles are several gadgets in one and with the rise of apps and social media, mobile phones need to perform well and keep up with the latest technology available.
I had previously owned an HTC Wildfire S on PAYG and I was severely disappointed with the battery performance so made sure to research when I was looking for my next phone. Having been used to PAYG for years, I always limited myself by choosing sub-£100 handsets as I didn't want to spend anything over that.
I was in the O2 store browsing and the advisor showed me the PAYG available and some of them looked a little clunky and had older Android versions so I was considering leaving my search until a new raft of phones came out that I could choose from. Having never been on a Pay Monthly deal, I enquired about it and realising I could probably save money on my calls, I decided to have a look at what was on offer. Initially unsure of the HTC models because of my bad experience before, I considered some of the Samsung models. Eventually after some research and a demonstration, I decided to go for the HTC Desire X. Here's why:
In your hand it is a decent size and weight, I avoid mobiles that are too 'thick' as I think they are too easy to drop, I can't explain that further, it just seems that they don't sit well in my palm! The back cover of the Desire X has a nice smooth rubbery feel which also enhances the grip as you hold it.
The power button at the top switches the phone on and off and on the reverse side you see a camera with flash at the top, a speaker at the bottom, volume control on the right side and a charging port on the left.
The Android version inside is 4.0 with updates coming to the model to ensure lastability. It's 4inch super LCD display is clear and responsive, there are settings to control the brightness or to automatically adjust to the environment.
The camera is a 5mp with lots of features for editing adding effects and all images are easily uploaded to social media sites, I've found it to be fairly quick in doing tasks such as these.
As a Spotify user, one of the things I was keen to try out is the Beats Audio facility as I refuse to spend £200 on headphones so wanted to see how this lived up to its name. There is the option to have Beats off and when you do, there is a noticable drop in quality. Even with the earphones that are included, the sound is nice and clear and loud with good bass. I tend to use my phone as an mp3 player so I am really impressed with the performance here.
The processor inside the Desire X is a dual core at 1Ghz and hosts a 4gb storage with option to add your own MMC for extra space. The Wildfire S I owned before had a terrible storage capability so I am so far very pleased at not having to delete anything and still having a very fast and responsive phone.
In the box there's a USB charger and plug, quick start guide, all the usual stuff you'd expect in a mobile phone.
What I have noticed is that I'm using the calculator, calendar, even text message function a lot more than I would in other phones. I put this down to the ease of use and appeal of the phone. The ring is nice and clear and loud, will ring louder when it's in your pocket or bag, which is always useful.
I'm glad I got this phone and can see me making the most of it until I'm due for a new one. HTC phoned are quite easy to learn to work so I would recommend it if you've has other brands in the past.
Oh I forgot to add, it has a really good GPS function. So I'd literally be lost without it.
Thanks for reading!
The Indesit CA55 is an economical and stylish fridge freezer with plenty of room for your fresh food.
I previously owned an old fridge freezer that had the upper freezer compartment and always felt it was never enough storage for my frozen food so I began searching for something with more space. I did a quick search online and decided to visit Currys for a look at the ones on display to get an idea of the size.
My kitchen is quite small so I needed something slimmer than the American style fridges and immediately spotted the Indesit CA55 in its striking black colour. Having browsed the range of other models, I wanted something that had sensible use of space. Inside the fridge there are two movable glass shelves, two generous salad and veg drawers in the bottom of the fridge and shelves built into the door that can house large milk containers, 2L bottles, small jars and at the top, an egg tray and butter shelf.
I've found that the space inside the fridge is generous enough yet because the fridge is slim, the height may pose a problem for short statures reaching to the back of the top shelf.
The freezer is nice and roomy, has four drawers which not all do and the upper drawer has a fast freeze function so you have the option to place items in there first. It also comes with ice cube trays but sadly no dedicated area for them to be housed in, I tend to keep them in the bottom drawer. You can easily see whats in each drawer thanks to the transparent fronts and they all individually slide out easily which makes it very easy to keep clean.
I have an Indesit cooker in my kitchen - also in black - so this new addition fitted in well. You can choose to have the model in white or silver which may suit your kitchen better. It sometimes attracts finger marks on the doors as the seal around the doors are pretty tight but a quick pull is all it takes. The fridge I felt was a little noisy at first but it soon settles down and there are adjustable feet on the base if your flooring is a little uneven.
Based on what I paid for the CA55, £239, it is excellent value for money. Indesit appliances come direct from the manufacturer and delivery was no hassle so I am very pleased with my purchase.
I first came across the Fuji HS30EXR when I began researching specifications on what would soon be my next camera.
Previously I had been using the s1000fd, one of Fuji's older bridge cameras so I was by now familiar with the menus and build of their models, which always helps when upgrading to a shiny new piece of kit.
So, what is a bridge camera? To those of you used to automatic compact point'n'shoot cameras, the first thing you will notice is that bridge cameras often look more like larger professional DSLR models. And yes, the size of the lens on bridge cameras often mean that their housing takes a step up. The lens itself is fixed and the better bridge models have an impressive range of zoom available, this often means that they can offer the same range as expensive DSLR lenses. In this case, the HS30EXR definitely performs closer to that of a DSLR, especially in its Auto EXR mode. Those with little or no experience of manual photography settings will still be able to use the camera as a point'n'shoot in this mode, producing really great shots. Its 30x optical zoom has a manual barrel operation so instead of pushing a button to zoom in, you twist the barrel of the lens to get in close to the subject. At the top end of the zoom, I would always recommend using a tripod as even with the most professional cameras, shaking will occur and spoil those fantastic super-zoom images. The HS30EXR also hosts a focus ring closer in to the body of the camera which you can turn until you get the perfect crisp focus once zoomed in on a subject. I'd say this is the only thing that annoys me about this camera as it can be awkward to get a grip on the focus ring when using a tripod. Nonetheless, still a very useful feature to have. In brief, the zoom range is 24-720mm.
When shooting you have a variety of viewing options, the 3inch LCD screen is ample enough to get a decent preview of your shot, there is an electronic viewfinder which can be used when sun glare obscures the screen, or you can tilt the LCD screen out from the body of the camera. The electronic viewfinder has a sensor so when you put the camera up to your eye, it shifts to the viewfinder which removes the need to change settings. A nice touch and can save time. The tilting screen flips down and up, sadly not to the side but gives you the option to shoot at waist level or overhead shots without guesswork.
Now to the menu options and various functions available. As mentioned, the Auto EXR mode is very intuitive and the cameras sensor picks up the information it needs from the environment you're shooting in to alter the settings for your perfect shot. This is where bridge cameras really come into their own. A good model like the HS30EXR can produce some really great shots, less successful models struggle to judge the environment correctly and images can be grainy or overexposed.
As your photography skills improve, you will want to utilise the manual settings on the camera - after all, isn't that the main reason people opt for bridge cameras? I'm so glad the Auto function works well on this camera as it would be a shame to have such a great piece of kit lacking in the basics. There are some helpful features on this camera, including the ability to 'bracket' shots. The camera will take three shots simultaneously, each at a different exposure so when your guesswork is a little off, there will be three images to choose from.
Other intelligent modes on this camera include modes which cater for low light, portrait, depth of field - there is even a dedicated mode for taking photos of your dog! On the thumb dial you will also be able to flick between modes where you take control of one aspect such as exposure. It really is a great camera designed with amateurs in mind but with the necessary spec that will ensure you will be taking manual shots with ease.
The panoramic mode is fun to use, enabling 360 degree views simply by shooting and panning the camera round to take in the view. Very nice images produced using a tripod in panoramic mode. At the other end of the scale, we have a nice macro/super macro function, allowing you to get within 1cm of subject for nicely detailed images. Most of the fun I've had with the HS30EXR has been pushing it to these creative extremes: macro, long exposure and super-zoom.
Movie mode allows you to zoom in and out in 1080HD and produces some really nice footage, an added bonus in my opinion as I'm not always fond of the movie modes on digital cameras.
16mp images also mean plenty of detail and image quality. Another thing that influenced my decision to upgrade is the option to shoot images in RAW format. Shooting in RAW is ideal if you plan to tweak the image in programs like Photoshop, it produces an unprocessed image to enable you more creative control over your snaps. Not everyone will need it but in keeping with its other spec, it's aimed at the amateur who wants more out of their kit.
Nice extras include decent strap, lens cap and hood and you also have an option to add filters onto the lens (58mm thread). When purchased, it also included Li-ion battery and charger, AV and USB cables to hook up and transfer to your computer or tv. The camera also boasts a hotshoe on top of the flash, the ability to expand with this camera is really appealing and definitely places it at the upper end of bridge cameras.
You only have to walk down the High Street to realise that coffee houses like Costa, Starbucks and Caffe Nero are becoming even more popular nowadays. Sure, we all like a cuppa when relaxing at home but this often comes in the form of freeze dried granules and a kettle of boiled water.
Having researched some of the new 'pod machines' such as Dolce Gusto and Nespresso, I opted for a Tassimo machine as I was impressed with the range and had heard good things from a friend who loved her caffeine fix.
The T20 is compact in size and takes up roughly the same kitchen space as a medium sized electric kettle. There are options to customize it with various coloured 'splashbacks' so it can compliment most modern kitchen colour schemes. These can be bought on the Tassimo website for £14.99 each.
Easy to set up, the instructions walk you through first use and how to brew the perfect drink. With the option to vary the strength of your drink, it distances itself from vending machine coffees by using a specific technology to create each hot drink.
Each T-disc has a barcode on it which is placed face down in the top of the machine. A barcode reader picks up the information which tells it how much water to use and what temperature to heat it to. Regardless of this, each drink is made quickly - no more than a minute or so - and leaves virtually no mess to clean up. The used T-disc can become hot after use but apart from that, I have not noticed any safety issue in using the T20.
Maintenance of the machine is also very user friendly. A yellow service disc with its own barcode slots in the back of the machine and can be used to rinse hot water through, this can be useful to use if you have just made some hot chocolate and are going on to make tea. The illuminated display also includes a symbol that will light up when descaling is required. The process involves either using tablets or solution available from the manufacturer and should be done more frequently if you live in a hard water area.
On the whole, I am very impressed with the quality of the drinks, especially the Costa range which I am sure influences many people when choosing a machine. The packs of T-discs normally come in around the £4.00 mark but can sometimes be found on offer in supermarkets so that's a perfect time to stock up!
Prices for the T20 vary, they are supplied by the Tassimo website for £99.95 but I picked mine up from John Lewis for £39.00. Stock varies but if you can get one for this price it's well worth it. They are available from most electrical retailers, department stores and a host of websites so there is plenty of places to search for a bargain.
If you decide to opt for a Tassimo machine, be sure to register your model on the Tassimo website where they offer you a £20 credit to use in their online store. This allows you to buy a decent amount of T-discs and view the full range of drinks available.
I first got this phone after my old mobile finally died. I used my o2 PAYG upgrade option to get money aff, I believe it was around £100 as new, which was over two years ago.
So first of all, on appearance the phone is a kind of jazzed-up version of the Motorola PEBL range, but with much needed features such as mp3 player, upgraded WAP and the like.
The first thing you'll notice is the dual screen when the phone is closed. As a clam-shell design, this phone works well. The outside screen is touch sensitive and this is both a blessing and a pain when it comes to using the mp3 player. When you enter the mp3 player and choose a track, you can then close the phone over and use the screen to skip tracks, play/pause and there are also a few side select keys down the side of the U9 which control volume etc. As the phone comes with a hands free earphone kit, you can plug this into the charger socket and your phone becomes a pretty good mp3 player.
So what's the problem then? Well, if you have the phone in your pocket the touch sensitive outer cover is a little too sensitive and can end up skipping, pausing etc while youre walking. A minor complaint perhaps, I have tried to find a way to lock the outer screen whilst in mp3 mode but have never managed to get it to work. While I'm talking of the mp3 player, it may be useful to get a micro flash card to boost the memory. I think the internal memory holds about 3 tracks so it's an additional cost to consider.
The U9 I own has a kind of smoky purple appearance although I have seen the same model in a pink, black and silver colour. The main body of the phone is encased in a soft rubber material which has worn well. Other than a few scratches on the shiny outer screen (which have not affected the function) the only other area that is visibly worn is the charger plug in flap.
Now onto the rest of the phone. It has the main things you'd expect, text message function with predictive text - which can be turned off. Screensavers and themes, display is clear and in picture mode you can zoom, scroll and link to other functions such as view photo then send via bluetooth, media message etc.
The camera isn't great, all my indoors photos have seemed dark and the absense of a flash doesn't help. It does have a video camera option which is good and would almost definitely require the micro flash card I mentioned earlier.
Most of the things you need are accessed through the File Manager, which easily allows you to delete, move or send files such as photos, videos and music.
Compared to the PEBL model, the WAP access is a lot more user friendly, including images and clickable links. I don't really use WAP and I guess if that's your thing, there are a lot more dedicated mobiles out there to give you that.
I'm looking around for a new mobile at the moment, it's no real reflection on the U9, just that I've had it for a while and looking for something with similar features. It can be a little slow at times so maybe a factor in choosing my next phone.
Like a lot of people, I initially played this game when it was first released on the SEGA Dreamcast. I had never really enjoyed driving games that much, but the controls on this were very simple to master.
The aim of the game is to pick up customers in your taxi, get them to their destination as quickly as possible and earn tips on the journey for your 'crazy' driving.
I have memories of playing this game for hours years ago with friends, it is very addictive and whether you are trying to beat your friends rating or smash your own personal best, the game is very more-ish!
So when I saw this game on PS2 format, I had to buy it. It translates well on the PS2, unlike some ports. There are different ways to play, you have a choice of four different drivers, each has a different car and different strengths. Then you can choose whether to play the arcade rules; no time limit, the game ends when you fail to get a passenger to their destination on time. You can also choose to play a set time limit of up to 10 minutes. Once the time is up, it gives you a rating.
Having played this game a lot, I would say it's easier to get a higher rating playing a timed game as opposed to the arcade but the rules are essentially the same.
As an old Dreamcast game, the port PS2 version has average graphics and the soundtrack is a bit like GTA (except you can't change the radio station lol), bands like The Offspring and Bad Religion. Also, it has to be said, this game is unashamedly from the era of 'product placement'.
"Take me to Kentucky Fried Chicken...!"
Tower Records, Pizza Hut, GAP, Levi's... all destinations you'll be visiting. Or crashing into...
There are side mini games that you can play also, using different moves to pass the level. I don't play these often but they are okay in themself.
All in all, this is a really enjoyable game and usually available in low price sections at gaming stores, often in 3-for-2 deals or single unit price under £10.
As I said, I wasn't a huge fan of driving simulator games but Crazy Taxi doesn't ask you to be precise or use sensitive controls to master hairpin bends.
Good fun and pretty addictive.
With 'Let It Rock', Vivienne Westwood delivers another aromatic scent in her signature styled bottle.
For me, this has a sweet woody aroma - patchouli and freesia spring to mind and has the deep heady hit like Westwoods 'Boudoir' perfume. It's got a very Autumnal feel to it, mellow and sweet. This is one of my favourite perfumes for going out as is lasts without fading so the bottle lasts ages.
The bottle features Vivienne Westwood's orb and also iridescent glass. I'm glad this comes in a gift package also, as this is a really well presented perfume and body lotion set. I also think 'Let It Rock' has a wide appeal, not only to younger consumers as it's a mature and sophisticated scent.
One word of warning though, be prepared to wear this all the time as I found my other perfumes were neglected when I started wearing this!
This fragrance is available in 30ml and 50ml sizes.
The 30ml EDP typically costs £25.99 and the average price for the larger 50ml bottle is £43.99.
If you like this perfume, it maybe worth your while searching for the gift set, which includes scented body lotion and a 50ml EDP bottle, I bought mine in a department store just before Christmas when they sometimes have deals on gift sets. I'd try the perfume counters of department stores rather than high st chemists but there's nothing to stop you searching for the best price online once you decide you like the scent.