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    • More +
      14.09.2015 00:16
      Very helpful


      • "Overall an open scent"
      • "Fruit layers with vanilla"
      • "Musky layers"
      • "Fragrant and warming"
      • Fresh


      • "Stopped production in 2013"
      • "Can induce coughing"
      • "Can be too dry"

      Not Exactly Unique But Reminiscent of Pink Sands!

      2013 must have been a good year for Yankee Candle, since the original Kittredge family who invented the brand sold it off to another company in Autumn 2013.
      “Lake Sunset” comes from a range of candle scents by Yankee Candle that includes scents such as “Cozy Sweater,” “November Rain,” “Pumpkin Wreath,” “Salted Caramel,” and “Vanilla Chai.” All of this range were phased out last year however some stockists in the UK still have old stock of “Lake Sunset” candles in different formats.

      Although Yankee Candle promise much with the scent such as “Sweetly musky and moody, calling to mind the descent of nightfall, this fragrance will help you pause and reflect on those special slices of the day,” it is all a bit of a mouthful when realistically this rather pink looking candle smells lovely and fresh through the wrapper or glass jar, or even by the other myriad of ranges that this scent is available in.

      At cost Yankee Candle Lake Sunset by wax tart version costs £1-85 to £2-15 on the high street at stockists such as Hallmark card shops or House of Frasers. Amazon UK currently lists this scented wax tart at £2-00 (product code B00DHRTH48) and the wax tart has a generic 8 hour burn time, which will also need a hot potpourri oil burner with a deep concave dish to accept the whole wax tart in one use.


      Supported by a tealight candle underneath, this wickless wax tart has a greater power of scent strength than the more expensive votive candle that also needs its own holder. Once unwrapped and dependent on the amount of tealight candles used to turn this solid wax tart into a hot oil, I don’t suggest that this product or indeed the usage of a wax tart burner is suitable for a busy home. If any hot wax gets spilt, the wax is water soluble and easy to remove with a hot cloth. To remove the wax tart after the scent has dissipated, wait for the entire burner to cool down, remove the tealight candle and place the entire burner into a fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes. Thereafter take out, turn over and tap the top where the now re-solidified wax tart can be found. It should come out as one piece, which can be safely disposed of.


      As a scent designed to conjure up relaxation at best, Yankee Candle Lake Sunset to my nose doesn’t smell all that unique, but I like it because it is indeed a fresh and relaxing scent to be around…to a point.

      From the moment I pierce open the wrapper and place the round deeply fluted wax tart into my burner, I can already smell hints of candles I have bought from this company before with shades of the “Pink Sands,” scent and “Pink Lady Slipper,” a scent that has just been taken out of production at the same time “Lake Sunset” was originally released.

      In its absence then “Lake Sunset” scented candle has a musky depth of champagne quality, not fizzy like that of other candles in their “Sparkling” range but rather reminiscent to my nose of a mix of strawberry and apple that gives this candle an abundantly fruity edge. Were it not for its strawberry cream like finish, this candle could so easily be another alternative to the washing powder/fabric conditioner scents that Yankee Candle produce as the classic “Clean Cotton,” or “Fluffy Towels.”

      The musky depths though have clearly been copied from Yankee Candle’s original family owned Kringle candle company products where their staple scents have musk added instead of Yankee Candle’s insistence of overloading every sweet scent they produce with headache inducing vanilla. Yet again there is also a little vanilla offered here, but its quite milky smooth that blends the fruit aspect of this candle along as opposed to becoming too much to contend with.

      When it burns, Yankee Candle Lake Sunset wax tart has a very fragrant and most relaxing edge to it, though it won’t be for everyone on the basis that it has a lot of sweet fruit to it when it burns. A couple of hours in and I found I was induced to coughing with this scent, possibly because of the musk combination with the vanilla additive.


      The scent also burns for quite a long time and can pervade a home overtaking everything in its path, making it perfect for an alternative to odour elimination. Due to the similarities of “Pink Sands,” and indeed Simply Home’s “Bermuda Beach,” it smells very flowery at times and quite dry. Yet the scents that YC have mixed up never smells synthetic to my nose and it is a pity that the scent here makes me cough if a lot of it is burnt off in one go. Those looking for subtle scents won’t find it here – but at least it isn’t as overly flowery like “Pink Lady Slipper," and has a few nods here and there of other scents such as "Honey Blossom" and "Beachwood," both by Yankee Candle too.

      In terms of delivery, my wax tart has lasted for 8 hours before giving out but still smells fruity even though the musk and vanilla dies away. The burn time test was done by burning the candle for a few hours per day, where its scent mix starts to die away slowly. This is probably where I feel the candle smells a lot clearer, which is a pity given that everything else dies off.

      Ideal placement in my home seems to be my hallway where this scent can drift off in waves and can over power everything in its path. It is a bit too strong to burn in one piece if I burn this wax tart in my bedroom – such is the beauty of the soft round wax tart at first use since I can slice it in two and only use one half of it for half of its power.


      There are many variations of Yankee Candle’s scented family on sale including glass jar candles and the rather famous country style “Housewarmer” glass jar candles in this scent, available.

      Even if it is no longer made, “Lake Sunset,” by Yankee Candle moves the game on a little from previous scents and it is one scent that I try to look out for whenever I want a turn of fruit, musk and vanilla in my home. Hugely reminiscent of “Pink Sands,” though and without its richer, sherbet like quality, “Lake Sunset,” isn’t a very unique scent, but used in small amounts to avoid possible coughing from its dry backdrop, it is pleasant and far more reliable than many a synthetic scented candle from other brands. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2015.



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    • More +
      23.08.2015 15:15
      Very helpful
      1 Comment


      • "Cuts finely"
      • "Long cable"
      • "Vision window"
      • "Spare tines included"
      • "Height adjustment"
      • "Not as heavy to push & pull"
      • "Simple assembly"


      • "No suction motor"
      • "Poor height adjustment"
      • "Fills quickly"
      • "Poor plastics"
      • "Can be bulky to use & store"
      • "Permanently fitted cable"
      • "No cord storage hooks"
      • "Difficult to empty"
      • "It isn't a lawn mower"
      • "Clogs very easily"

      The Flymo Lawnraker - More Like A Messy Moss Maker!

      To obtain the perfect grass lawn, it doesn't half take a lot of work. From cutting grass regularly to feeding the lawn with grass seed to cut and kill weeds, the next aspect of maintenance has always bowed down to raking grass because of associated moss growth due to rain. Whilst in England some areas are permanently brown for the lack of rain, Scotland doesn't tend to suffer from that problem due to nearly all year around of rainy weather and as a result, the grass lawns with plenty of homes are green, lush and fresh.

      I have been looking for an electric lawn raker for some time and one that scarifies and rakes up moss, thatch and collected cuttings that my old 9 year old Flymo Vision hover has perhaps missed. This model by Flymo is perhaps one of the cheapest models on the market where an electric rake is concerned. There are other rivals in terms of the venerable Black and Decker cylinder style push model with a bag at the front, but I have been taken with the Flymo Lawnrake 3400 because it comes with high recommendations from other reviewers, not least on Ciao UK where I first learnt of this model and then saw the model in the flesh at my local Home & Hardware store priced at £89-99 at the start of the year.

      In April, the price fell to £69-99 and it is then that I felt the time was right to purchase the lawnraker in an attempt to do early grass maintenance in time for summer.

      The model currently sells at Amazon UK at £83-25 (product code B00159M01W) and Flymo promise “A powerful electric lawn rake with unique compacting collection box. Removes moss and thatch for a healthy lawn.”


      The first aspect that I noticed when I got the rather heavy packaging box home was how big this Flymo machine is, physically. It reminds me of my late parents' old Flymo cylinder mower from the 1970s. With a huge orange box that sits on top and to the front of the Flymo Lawnrake 3400, it does look distinctive and different to what has gone on before, in my opinion, though it isn't a lawn mower.

      The decision to coat everything in orange and black still stands for the Lawnrake Compact 3400 and reinforces the typical Flymo signature brand. It makes me wonder why the model is called “Compact,” though when it is anything but in my shed. Taking up as much room as my normal Flymo Vision 34” hover with its grass box, also on the top and at the front, the Flymo Lawnrake 3400 can be compacted down by unscrewing the twin orange bolts on the double brace handle and swung over – but it still makes for a very bulky machine regardless of how easy the handles can provide this storage solution.

      All I required to do was seemingly bolt two handles together to make up the double "C" shaped frame of this lawn raker and its associated power handle with excess cable being able to be clipped to the bottom frame to the side. I recognise the twist style bolts when putting the two handles together though as they are the same ones fitted to my old Flymo Vision box hover mower.

      However, in my experience the bolts are liable to crack over time from constant screwing and untwisting to pull the handle over for storage, or setting up the handle for use.

      Elsewhere thick grey and orange PVC plastic makes up this electric lawnraker in general but the feeling to me is that of stability rather than long term durability and I was surprised that Flymo have fitted a permanent 8 metre cable as opposed to pig-tail removable cables available in other countries – which the friendly user manual clearly points out. You also get two packs of spare metal tines, only five “left” and “right” hand ones though, which can be confusing to look at as only the packaging envelope hows the markings, not the tines themselves.

      Where the main design is concerned, Flymo have tried to make this the Lawnrake 3400 as flush and modern as possible with a concealed internal roller wheel bar at the back that features 7 rows of double placed removable tines. Even the large flush, vented and curvy bin at the top has a stylish look but on the underside I found a rather flat and flush fitting which may aid gliding, but coupled with the roller bar with thin, metal tines, this isn’t like a rotary lawn mower that can be rolled on concrete to the garden before use. Flymo have made the base of this machine so flush that it is impossible for me to roll it from my shed to my lawn without one or two tines threatening to break off mid-journey.

      There’s a handy height adjustment wheel on the rear left hand side wheel for depth of cutting to 6 different roller heights, but I was a bit disappointed to find that I had to manually slide the orange knob onto the metal pin and the metal used doesn’t feel that all well made. All four wheels to this unit however are plastic PVC and thickly ribbed with orange tri-star like hub caps to ensure some degree of stability, so for all intents and purposes it feels and looks like a rotary mower with 4 wheels, when it clearly isn’t by design and purpose.


      When I first started using the Flymo Lawnrake 3400, and finding that the power cord measures 8 metres, the first impression I get is how quiet the 750-watt motor is, and how easy the long metre cable can travel, but this electric raker is also pretty powerful when I inadvertently set the roller bar at its lowest height.

      Confusingly this can be done with the height adjustment knob set at its highest.

      There are various lines set at the side that show the height adjustment but I don’t think they explain far enough as to which setting is better for the lightest scarifying process. It's all very well quoting measurements from the user manual but why Flymo can't emboss the actual gradients into each height selection of the metal backing plate, is beyond me! As is, I ended up nearly burning the motor out as well as making the deepest gouges in my lawn with widths big enough to house an Olympic running track for a family of mice!

      Now three weeks later, the grass is still growing back but still shows signs of its awful, ripped and almost burned treatment. When the Flymo Lawnrake 3400 has been used on a higher setting, my lawn does look much improved, but it's not as easy as the company would have me believe...

      Once I had realised that the height adjustment adjusts the opposite way to the roller, life does become seemingly easier with the Flymo Lawnrake 3400 on a flat and level surface, but when it comes to a sloped lawn or areas that requires a hover style mower, I find a four wheeled job such as this lawn raker can start to become a bulky affair.

      All the while the roller wheel at the back becomes more obvious as a poorer location for awkward areas on a garden lawn that needs to be raked but can’t be accessed because the roller isn’t at the front. Angling the Flymo around corners seems to be okay but it isn’t before long when areas gets missed because of the squat, square shape.

      Then there’s the rather useless Vision plastic window at the rear of this Flymo machine. It is very large and very useful to begin with, but because it is situated directly above the roller wheel, it inadvertently becomes caked in so much grass, it is impossible to rely on to when the grass box needs emptying.

      Clearer indications to my eyes are the copious air vents at the front of the box that will happily show bits of cuttings sticking out. For a company who have forever put windows on the top of the bins on their mowers, Flymo have been a bit unwise here to put a window at the back in my opinion.

      I find it so difficult to rely on the window that by the time I realised the roller had clogged up, the Flymo had already scattered some of the cuttings underneath the machine where the roller is located, making for a very messy clean up process!

      Where its actual scarifying and raking consistency is concerned though, the Flymo Lawnrake 3400 just about satisfies the usage on my lawn. I find it copes better on a higher height, which skimps the lawn surface rather than deep digging and it can still perform to a fair standard rooting out moss, thatch and weeds in my grass. But I always have to go over spots I have raked with the Flymo, which is more time consuming. The highest setting will still take out moss, but expect anything deeper and you may have to knock the height down a notch, with the quicker result that the roller will clog up and scatter cuttings every where without a suction motor fitted to pick up the cuttings.

      Unless you have a large enough disposable area, setting the roller to the lowest will see you emptying this machine over 25 times in one use with an average sized UK garden. Electric lawn raking shouldn’t be this difficult! The 34 litre capacity in my opinion just isn't big enough for a bigger fill without continuous emptying and by the fifth time I emptied the box and already filled FOUR 80 litre bags of moss and thatch, I was getting a serious workout as well as feeling fed up..

      Another issue that I am bewildered about is the lack of airflow in this machine that other brands such as Bosch have engineered to stop the clogging process. Other brands even go as far to including a suction motor - and for a company who were previously owned by Electrolux, I find it utterly surprising that the omission of a suction motor to compensate for clogging hasn’t been fitted here.


      When it comes to emptying, it isn’t as easy as Flymo would have me believe, either. The pull up bin may be easy to pull up, but the bin is anything but easy when transferring straight to a garden bin liner. Even with an 80 litre bag in my hand, I severely struggled to empty the huge box without bits falling out to the sides of the box. Even with a flimsy plastic vented grid door that can be unlocked and swung down rather like a ramp, the cuttings fail to scoop in due to the lack of a tapered, inward chute design. Husqvarna of Sweden owns Flymo; I’d have thought there would be more Swedish ingenuity here.

      Unless you consider dumping the cuttings into a compost bin or wheelbarrow and then manually scoop up the cuttings for bag disposal later on, there doesn’t seem to be an easier way of disposing due to the small weeta-flake like cutting consistency that the raker can achieve.

      The orange grass box looks easy enough to pull upwards, but then it seems they have forgotten put a grab handle at the back of the box where there is an obvious plastic partition. Like the idea of having a replaceable power cable, it could well be a market specific model that has the much needed grab handle. I found it difficult to grab the box at the sides to angle it into the bag I wanted to dispose the grass cuttings in.

      Where removal or replacement of the tines is concerned, the process is easy-ish to do but in my opinion it can be time consuming because it all involves unscrewing braces that keep in the metal tines in. Although Flymo give you a free pack of replacements, there's only five tines each and replacement packs from Flymo are very costly ranging from £15 to £23.

      Elsewhere the machine needs to be cleaned out after use before next use to avoid any old clumps of cuttings grass to clog up the sides and spill out. Failure to unclog and clean means the grass will just fall out all over a freshly mown lawn which kind of defeats the purpose – the machine is there to rake up grass, not spread it around!

      There are a few awkward areas in the recovery bin and by the motor that need to be unclogged as well. And when you have huffed and puffed with emptying and unclogging the excess cuttings from both the roller bar and the motor vents inside, you then have the joy to find no cable hooks for the 8-metre cord to wind around. Had Flymo fitted the double bent style handle at the top, the cable could easily be wound around it. As is, the curved and flat C style handle doesn't really make for a fast and convenient way to store the cable after use. A clump of cable bunched into a heap, reinforces lack of design thought for space storage after use.


      Generally when it comes to electric lawnmowers, I am probably first to jump in defence of Flymo hovers and particularly those with grass boxes that make the experience of cutting grass easy and quick.

      But, when it comes to electric raking where a lawn needs scarifying or raking, I am not all that impressed with the design of the Flymo Lawnrake Compact 3400. Beset with unbelievable design problems from a company who should know better, the biggest problem seems to be its general design and a roller at a rear trapped in a rotary mower like body with four wheels. It may be light to push, but that's probably one very good aspect over a lot of disappointments.

      Fitted around a lightweight plastic design that should be a heck of a lot more space efficient and far better designed begs the question to why Flymo have failed at a reasonable attempt of helping the home gardener. When it makes so much mess in the way it is supposed to alleviate, it barely ticks the box of being able to rake and scarify a lawn – without creating more mess than it should - and when it chucks out cuttings and requires a manual rake to scoop up whatever is left behind, the idea of Flymo's electric lawn raker is hardly time saving. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2015.



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      • The dooyoo Redesign / Discussion / 18 Readings / 14 Ratings
        More +
        08.10.2014 16:32
        Very helpful
        1 Comment


        • "Layout looks like a mobile phone window"
        • "It exists"


        • "Lacks custom building"
        • "Lacks personality"
        • "Loses message system"
        • "New layout is awful"
        • "Many members have walked"
        • "Problems and glitches galore"
        • "Difficult to navigate"

        Dooyoo, Do One Better And Return To The Old Layout, Please!

        I can't quite believe that Dooyoo in Germany have decided to redesign the Dooyoo interface and only sent it out ONE country as an obvious pilot project. Can you guess who got the newly redesigned look? Not the Germans though, even if the head office is located in Germany...no, it would appear that Dooyoo UK has been landed with this awful to use new look.

        When I signed up to site more than ten years ago, Dooyoo UK allowed me to express well and to improve the way I reviewed products that I buy. I have thanked Dooyoo many times and even my channel on You Tube carries a Dooyoo word in the name. They have got free advertising backed from my name as well as the general reputation I have worked hard to build up.

        But, from the redesign that came to this site three years ago, Dooyoo promises the same layout you see here would be rolled out to the other three country/EU Dooyoo websites such as:


        Dooyoo have left themselves open where I am concerned - the links to all of these country websites can be found at the bottom of the old page layouts and you'll find them easily on any of the above sites. If you open them up in a Chrome server window, you'll also be able translate the page to English if you are not sure...

        But how could Dooyoo get it so wrong? The new redesign may well mean a much bigger font but there was nothing else in my opinion that was wrong with this site. The new redesign has met many glitches. Earlier for example I wanted to update my profile page on here and the post code section now tells me that my "value is too long and should be 5 characters or less." I have closed that window down - I have not the time to faff about writing my 7 character with a space post code - and if the system doesn't take it on, well it doesn't really matter much to me, any more. I am passed the stage of moaning to Dooyoo when basics like this should be automatic and stress free.

        That is one example in a long list of glitches on this site since the redesign came to force. However, Dooyoo in Germany have not rolled out the new layout other than the UK site and it begs me to ask why? Why should UK members have to put up with the new layout when clearly it hasn't worked in the other countries? What are Dooyoo trying to do here, other than subjectively ruin the quality from years past where members could submit their opinions easily and without having to email external addresses when the page doesn't appear? What does it say for the stalwart members who have to put up with the new look and constantly "give Dooyoo another chance" ?

        The new layout also eliminates the great public and private guestbook messaging that was a bonus to the old system, in my opinion. I do wish Dooyoo would reconsider returning to the old layout. On the basis that it seems the UK branch alone has far more reviews than some of the countries that Dooyoo have bases at, it begs the question to how Dooyoo in Germany view their UK members - rather than trying to bring something more modern to the eyes, that doesn't look or feel all that intuitive to use.

        To conclude, Dooyoo UK is not the place it once was and when I say "place" rather than site, that is how the old Dooyoo review site used to make me feel. There was once a great community of writers here, but in recent times this new redesign has made the site feel like a ghost town. Is that how you treat your UK members, Dooyoo?

        Thanks for reading (c)Nar2 2014.

        Ps I have created a petition to pressure Dooyoo to return to the old layout. I would appreciate it if you sign it - many thanks. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/859/963/865/return-dooyoo-uk-to-the-old-site-layout/


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        • Sony CFDS05 / Portable Radio / 35 Readings / 31 Ratings
          More +
          02.03.2014 20:25
          Very helpful



          A fiddly player that is supposed to be easy with poor sound quality - Sony can do better.

          Roughly two years ago when I realised that as a teacher I would be required to visit schools and take my own equipment, I would require a compact stereo with CD player, radio and tape added to it. There were quite a few in the schools already but they either had broken tape cassette buttons, mechanics and any CD put into play either jumped or refused to play. I also came to the hard decision of keeping or disposing of my cherished premium twelve year old Panasonic ghetto blaster. It had been purchased as a necessity when I was about to graduate and although over the years, friends have commented on its timeless look and impressive sound quality, the double cassette and CD player has been a lifesaver as well as a great machine with a full function remote control to boot.

          The main problem is that the front loader CD player no longer worked signalling an end to the one feature I used more often and its AUX jack feature that turned the Panasonic player into a portable amplifier - very suitable for home keyboards, iPods and other devices that can use an Aux cable. Even when I bought another Panasonic from EBay, a vintage RXED55 last year, it gave me superb sound but no extra Aux facility.

          The Sony CFD-S05 is such an appliance that has one similarity to my old Panasonic portable stereo - an Aux-in jack that lends the same small amplifier idea. One can see then that I assumed the Sony CFD S05 could at least attempt to offer a similar sound quality to the older Panasonic model. Yes, it is produced and sold by Sony but it only cost me £49-99 and for such a small unit, it made sense to replace a Bush ghetto blaster I've since donated to work that I had purchased earlier in the year and keep the Sony alongside the Panasonic for its CD function and aux line-in feature. As this review will shortly reveal, it is handy to have an Aux feature when teaching in schools...

          Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec

          * Model: Sony CFD S05 CD Radio Cassette-Corder.
          * 13 watts total power.
          * FM/AM radio bands with 10 AM presets and 20 FM presets available.
          * Single CD player supports CD-R & CD-W compact discs.
          * Recording tape player, UNLIT LCD panel, and digital analogue radio tuner.
          * Aux-in small jack and small jack headphone socket.
          * Bass boost/mega-bass sound option & ID3 tags on CD player.
          * Operation/standby function button & 1.7 watts per speaker.
          * Portable size: 13.5cm height by 36cm width & 23cm depth.
          * My price £49-99, Amazon UK price in 2014 £45 to £60-00.

          General Design & Quality

          "Curvy yet blocky," is how I'd describe the Sony CFD S05. It has a default light grey, dark grey and black contrasting painted finish, smooth to the touch in some places and all major controls for the CD player and radio are located on the front on a slight slope.

          Sometimes I do wish brands would take up and notice that not all homes like dark appliances. Fine if it is a vacuum cleaner where one or two switches are black but have white decals, but in schools and in homes with poor light, the Sony needs a lighter swathe of colour at times to make out the controls quickly. The tape player is on the left hand side at the top of the Sony and the CD player on the right hand side on the top, with likewise soft-release mechanism buttons for the tape player. As with most Sony products though, the ease of use is simple, quick to do and easily accessible because all decals and information buttons are clearly labelled and seem to be able to be used, even in dim light.

          However, I'm never far away from the feeling that this Sony player is built to a budget. The tape player lid is all plastic, has no handy window to see a tape reel moving and although rubberised buttons and a central LCD display complete the product, the tape player buttons are hard plastic and reverberate through the unit, particularly when rewind and fast forward are pushed down. Indeed, there are a few surprises in store when it comes to general use.

          General Performance & Downsides

          When it comes to operating the Sony, there is an operation button, which I find totally unnecessary at times. Surely once a stereo unit is plugged in and the plug is switched on, a stereo like this should activate automatically? Regardless of this pointless feature, and thus an instant downside for the lack of energy savings putting the player into standby, the amount of energy that this unit uses is 13 watts total. Fine if you have mains power plugged in all the time, but sometimes my work involves having to use expensive batteries and there's a tiny red LED light at the front of the Sony that either glows bright or weakly if batteries are used, flickering as well if you amp up the volume.

          There is a reason to why Sony state that this player is a "corder," and not a "re-corder," in reference to its tape function. Tapes may appear to be too outdated for many buyers but they are still used in many schools and those who collect and buy audiotape stories may feel justified in buying the Sony alone, for this purpose. So, whilst you can record radio, CD or whatever else you have put through the Aux-in jack, this Sony will not be able to record your voice or anything audible outside this players main function. This is because there is no internal microphone that has been offered. Not handy for new teachers who want to record any class room work as evidence, then!

          Although Sony states that the speakers get 1.7 watts each for example and although the sound can be powerful via the volume control, I find the whole experience to be very tinny and off-putting. Infact, whilst there is not enough power here to worry the neighbours or scare a pet in residence where volume is concerned, the Sony offers no other sound enrichment other than a bass boost button. The bass button or "Megabass" as Sony claim, isn't really mega in its approach either; only able to offer a slight surround like dampening quality as opposed to a far more sensible approach that would give music a much better feel, a meatier edge and far more of a thumping sound. Here you get a little warmth but good balance, all the same - but it far from the quality of bass found on much older, vintage Sony branded players.

          Like a lot of portable players on the market, the Sony can only play standard compact discs as well as CD-R and CD-RW. But I find the Sony takes its sweet old time to get through single tracks on a CD that most of the time; I resort to using my iPod with the cable and Aux-in as I have no time to waste when I want to listen to music instantly!!

          Often slow to select and play the CD track, at least the Sony isn't susceptible to jumping if you move the unit slightly whilst it is playing a CD - but it is particularly annoying when it is as slow as molasses when trying to program the CD player to play or select a track.

          Although the Aux-in Jack is located at the front of the stereo just below the main LCD panel, the small headphone jack is located right at the back of the stereo, which is another pointless location, especially if you own short cord earphones that would originally find themselves plugged into the iPod you've decided to add to the Sony for a public performance than personal. Also, you get no cable other than a power cable with this Sony product, so you have to buy a separate Aux cable to use with any device you wish to amplify.

          Other downsides concern the LCD display on the Sony. It is poorly located and permanently unlit, making the numericals hard to see, particularly when Sony claim that the CFD S05 has an "IDE tag" feature where you'd normally get scrolling information like the name of the artist, album and song from the CD you've inserted. None of that promise seems to appear on the LCD screen however, only displaying the track number, if one track has been repeated singularly or "repeat all," in small wording or if "shuffle" has been activated.

          When it comes to radio use, well the cost-cutting Sony has another annoying aspect up its sleeve. For the cost price of £50 I was expecting an old fashioned radio dial complete with a visual dial or at least a rotary dial all in one like my Tesco Boom Box has, but unbelievably you get a bonus with a sting in the tale with the Sony.

          You'll get the "bonus" of a digital analogue radio tuner that offers you two choices of wavebands such as FM and AM. On top of that you have plus and minus buttons that you have to keep your finger on to find the stations. In FM mode you can then save up to 20 FM stations and 10 AM stations. That sounds all very well - until you actually tire of the system and then switch off the stereo and the Sony erases any stations you have erased!

          The Sony does offer "cordless portable power" via battery power like most of its rivals and its somewhat lightweight body becomes heavier when 9 large 1.5V batteries are installed making for a very heavy unit when the batteries are in place. Unbelievably though, there is no facility for battery back up - i.e. knowingly when the radio features preset memory and presets you can programme, a single AA or AAA battery is usually required - but no, not here at all, meaning that you'll lose the radio stations you selected to keep in the radio's digital memory when you switch off and switch on again.

          Other Sorts & Final Thoughts

          Earlier this year Sony brought out another similar CD/Tape/Radio player with speakers like the CFD S05, the Sony ZS-S10CP at £50 to £60 but lacks a tape player and doesn't appear to come with a switchable bass sound button.

          If you require a basic CD player with radio, headphone jack and an Aux-in jack, then the Sony CFD S05 should suffice but it doesn't make life very easy if you are looking for something that should be easy to use.

          Then there's the sound quality, which at best will play whatever you, feed the Sony, but you may not appreciate the lack of actual quality when played through the tinny speakers. Infact it's a telling story that I prefer using my older Panasonic unit than the Sony when it comes to taking into school. I like my pupils to get the best they can when they hear music and loud enough over the din of cheering voices.

          When the Sony name suggests quality, good design input and above all else, excellent sound quality, it seems to me that Sony have forgotten to include the little things that come with portable stereos as standard these days - even rivals from Bush, Goodmans and anything else from the ALBA PLC stable offer a richer sound with far more features, if you can live with the name and their origins.

          Aux-feature aside, the Sony CFD S05 is a bit basic and you definitely get what you pay for. Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2014.



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            01.03.2014 16:22
            Very helpful



            It smells similar to other YC scents but unless it is priced lower, there are better ones out there.

            A return to my local thrift pharmacy who sell Glade candles had a few new Yankee Candle wax tarts on sale this week and as such I wasn't entirely sure whether "Bartlett Pear," was going to be the next purchase since I was so disappointed with the last one. Looking around brought me to a scent I have seen before at my local Yankee Candle stockist and from what she told me, as well as some other reviews online on other sites, "Pineapple Cilantro," hasn't been such a wise choice.

            I wondered why and chose to buy one, just to see what the fuss is! I was pleased to find that my thrift pharmacy shop for example has these candle tarts price at £1 compared to the average price of £1-25 to £2 normally. Thus, I bought two candles!

            To the uninitiated, Yankee Candles make versatile scented candles for freshening up a home and there are so many varieties, which are priced accordingly as per format. The cheapest candle they sell is the wax tart, a solid scented oils that have been made up with the idea of using with a hot oil potpourri burner with a tealight candle placed underneath. As the candle underneath warms up the holder, the solid wax when taken out of its cellophane wrapper and placed on the dish above soon begins to melt down into a home refresher oil.

            Yankee Candle scented wax tarts have a total burn duration of 8 hours. The promise that Yankee Candle have made with this candle scent conveys:

            "...A tropical treat . . . fresh, island pineapple served with a citrus touch of cilantro and sweet coconut..."

            General Impressions & Safety

            "Cilantro," to me is an unusual name, but contrary to popular belief it is NOT the American name for what we know as "Parsley" in the UK. Cilantro comes from the leaves of the Coriander plant, so you get a bit more bite than Parsley and the scent has a bit more "grassy" content than milder, Parsley, which to my nose is more mint based. The mild green colouring matches the green colour of the plant, hence the reason to why Yankee Candle have probably given its wax tart and wax candle range, the likewise green pastel colouring.

            When it comes to usage, you won't find a wick in this candle. When used with a hot oil burner, which is what you will need to use this "wick-less" candle, I always make sure my burners have a tea or drinks coaster underneath them to protect the surface they are placed as the base and entire burner gets very hot. Like lit candles, wax tarts are no different where safety is concerned, although the wax is water-soluble and fairly easy to wash off, should the candle get spilt in use. After so many tealight candles are used and the wax begins to weaken in scent, the easiest way of removing the candle is by following these handy tips:

            1. Wait for the burner to cool down completely and remove the tealight candle underneath.

            2. Then place the burner into a fridge of freezer for a minimum of 15 minutes (the same applies to the removable dish if you have an electric tart/oil burner) and wait for the burner to cool off.

            3. When taken out of the fridge or freezer, the wax tart will have re-solidified back to its normal solid-state and can tapped or pushed lightly out of the dish, safe and easy to be disposed of in a kitchen bin.

            4. The same method applies if you simply want to change scents over if you have bought more than one variety though keep the spare solid candle in an airtight box to retain its scent and away from natural and electric light.

            When I opened up the wrapper, the scent that arose from this wax tart brought me immediately to "Simply Home," "Pineapple Palm," the U.S sub-category from Yankee Candle who were brought in by B&Q in the UK for sell of products in their stores.

            Now, I adored "Pineapple Palm," by "Simply-Home Yankee Candle," and have discovered that it was a short-term scent in the UK that is very difficult to find, now - so could this scent be one in the same?

            General Performance & Downsides

            The moment I unwrapped my wax tart and laid it into the dish of my burner, I became quite pleased - this scent by Yankee Candle does appear to be very similar to "Pineapple Palm," but with only a few differences. Therefore, I know that this candle is going to be fresh and fruity, at the very least!

            Within minutes as the solid wax tart begins to melt down into a fragrant oil, I could smell the greenness of Cilantro coming through. This isn't at all like the heavier "Citrus and Sage," candle by Yankee Candle that shares a similar coloured wax hue. Instead, this candle starts to throw out fresh pineapple that is very fruity with the base tone of coconut that makes the scent appear quite dry.

            Despite the greenness of this candle, "Pineapple Cilantro," gives off a little more coconut than "Black Coconut," which isn't a scent that I have bought since the first time I tried that candle. Here, the coconut is very subtle but it seems to stream through between the herby cilantro and the pineapple, giving quite a dry but full on scent that comes alive in warmer environments. A hall way, bedroom or even a kitchen seem to be the better places to site this wax tart for short drifts of freshness but I found a few surprises along the way, where strength and longevity is concerned.

            Because of this aspect, this isn't a scent that I would normally put into a bathroom or toilet. These rooms don't normally get heat all of the time and would require a more versatile scent that can freshen those rooms, when used. In my experience, whilst "Pineapple Cilantro," is fresh and natural, it lacks longevity - within a day of burning for a couple of hours it was very clear that unless the candle is a more expensive glass jar version - by wax tart or sampler/votive - this candle has a short scent release aspect. It can deal with odours well but at the detriment of wasting away any freshness it has left.

            Another aspect that I don't like is that normally when the flame of the tealight is extinguished and the hot oil cools down back into solid wax tart in the dish, there is usually a strong and long lasting after scent of the scented wax. However, I didn't find this with "Pineapple Cilantro," as the scent seems to die off pretty quickly unless the candle is lit all the time.

            No surprise to find then that after day, the 8 hours of this candle's scent is true to its promise - but Yankee Candle are usually better than this, and the scents can last for a couple of days more by wax tart format alone.
            Luckily I didn't suffer any coughing or sneezing with this scent, but it does lack the warming, "wet" feeling of a scent in the air. Although the pineapple additive is good, the coconut scent dies out all too soon and the herby cilantro makes the whole combination of the scent too dry. This is where "Pineapple Palm," is distinctively different, as it seems to have a lower edge of its herbs, bringing out the fruity, pleasing pineapple scent even more.

            Other Sorts & Final Thoughts

            When Yankee Candle brought out "Pineapple Cilantro" in the UK, it has been on the market for a couple of months now, but only with a small range of different types to suit budgets and pricing. Because of its lack of range, this scent isn't always going to be available from the "usual" stockists such as Clinton Cards, House of Fraser and Debenhams, so it is always best to check if the scent is available online.

            The following ranges are available with average prices shown:

            * Wax Tart (22 grams, 8-hour duration, £1-00 to £2-20 each).
            * Votive candle (1.75 oz 15-hour duration, average price £1-80 to £2).
            * Small Housewarmer jar candle (7 oz 25-40-hours duration, £8-39 to £9-99).
            * Medium Housewarmer jar candle (12.5 oz 65-90-hours, £15-49 to £16-99.)
            * Large Housewarmer jar candle (22 oz 100-150-hours duration, £19-99 to £23).
            * Tea light scented candles (240 grams, 4-6-hours per candle, 12 in a box £6-75 to £7-99)

            Although I am less than happy with the wax tart, I'd be more than happy to buy a medium or large glass jar version of "Pineapple Cilantro," to sample the scented wax with far more longevity on offer.

            In my opinion, the problem with this wax tart is that has a very short-lived performance time. Oh it can be fresh and fruity - to begin with - but the scent soon starts to die away when left to burn for more than 6 hours at a time. The scent is there but the coconut aspect seems to be shorter than the other two additives that would give this candle scent far more quality.

            Yankee Candle need to do a bit more work in this area to make this wax tart version a bit more appealing - otherwise it may be a case of a dud scent if the glass versions are just as short on fragrance freshness strength. There is no way of knowing whether the glass versions would be stronger -without paying through the nose for - and as good as "Pineapple Cilantro," is by fruity appeal, promise and name - the wax tart doesn't promote its other versions particularly well. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2014.


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              24.02.2014 15:53
              Very helpful



              A versatile, aromatic and refreshing 3 in 1 aromatherapy oil that does what it says - and more!

              For the time being it seems that there is one bottle left to review from Neal's Yard. I had forgotten that I bought this aromatherapy blend when I bought my MadeByZen scent diffuser at the time of purchase and found it the some time after when rummaging around and about to dispose of the product box that the MadeByZen Soto was packed in. I always keep purchases together so that if there are any coupons or vouchers left over, they can be found easily in the boxes or bags that the purchases were originally put in.

              The world of aromatherapy was born about 2000 years ago, and not withstanding other forms of scent in the home such as incense, scented candles and room sprays, it is little wonder that aromatherapy is so popular, particularly when you are using natural oils from natural products.

              The Product, The Price & The Promise

              Since the re-discovery of many aromatherapy oils in my life, Neal's Yard has been of benefit to extend the path of aroma-enlightenment - but the appeal of Neal's Yard may not appeal to every buyer because for the most part their natural and organic extracted products like aromatherapy and massage oils are not cheap by any means and for the amount of 10ml of Neal's Yard Remedies Vitality Aromatherapy Blend, it costs £9-50 for such a small amount. As this is a blended oil, it does offer versatility in the sense that it can be used on skin as well but it needs the use of almond oil as a base carrier, or used neat only for aromatherapy purposes only. It appears to be Vegan friendly too.

              Indeed the general promise from Neal's Yard sounds promising:

              "...This blend helps you when your energy levels are low. Energising ginger and clove help a depleted system recuperate, giving you essential support and vitality when you need it most. A pure essential oil blend, which brings renewed vigour for life. Ideal for vaporisation and can be used diluted on the skin..."

              General Impressions & Design

              As with almost all of Neal's Yard Aromatherapy or Essential oil products, you get a small clinical medicine bottle with a similar dark Vicks Vapour coloured blue glass. The reason being is that the tinted glass keeps the oil from being tainted from natural light, though the main brand label covers virtually all of the glass with the company's generic light green on cream label with black writing. It can be viewed easily to see how much oil is left in the bottle but usually in between the strip of the main label where it runs out the back of the bottle and the slightest bit of bare glass given to see the oil left over.

              A flush automatic dropper has been added to the design once the black screw cap is taken off, ensuring little wastage of the oil and proper dosage can be applied. The flush dropper allows two to three drops at a time, though may need shaken for more to disperse. As with most natural oils, you do have to be careful not to get any oil on any painted or varnished surface as the oil can ruin or damage.

              General Performance & Downsides

              Although I have a fairly versatile aromatherapy oil in the form of Eucalyptus that flows easily in the home or the understated "Focus," Neal's Yard Vitality Energising oil has a few versatile uses that are slightly different.

              Dependent on the mood, the first instance of promise that seems to come to light is that it does indeed have a vitalising aroma due to the high clove and ginger aspect but to my nose the first couple of tones remind me of citronella with an added kick of fresh mandarin oranges. Clearly clove and ginger go well together and if a candle company were ever to combine the two scents together, it would give homes an almost celestial presence!

              This is a very fragrant mix that has so much citrus backdrop that it is impossible not to become energetic with it when it is used as a scent in a home! It kicks me into action in an instant whenever the scent from my ultrasonic diffuser emerges and after placing four drops into this handy little gadget, the aroma strength and delivery is far better than the last "Focus," product as well as being far different from the woody and earthy Eucalyptus.

              At times it reminds me of being in a church with likewise gentle layers of incense kicking about whilst at other times, some added sandalwood would definitely give this scent a thicker, sweeter frankincense like quality.
              Where this essential oil thrives better is when it is used on skin. I have a small container pot of almond oil which Neal's Yard recommend to use as a base carrier for massage - though they would probably recommend their version, but at £9-50 for a large 100ml bottle each time - my almond oil by 100ml cost me £1-74 direct from Calmer Solutions (and much recommended, by the name of "Almond Sweet"!)

              Thus, with this oil applied as a carrier base and a couple of drops of Neal's Yard "Vitality," my skin feels very refreshing when using this as a light, topical body moisturiser and feels warming as well as delightfully relaxing. It always has that clove depth on the skin, but on my skin it gives me a rather masculine scent, similar to the kind of scent that Molton Brown's signature Black pepper wash and lotion can give, but with a longer lasting effect compared to MB's body products.

              This is the beauty of dabbling with aromatherapy oils that act as a two or three in one oil. Here, although Neal's Yard "Vitality," claims to be able to be used as a decongestant due to its clove and ginger extracts, I wouldn't waste it on this action alone but at the very least, it is a good bonus to depend on. Instead, it is a fragrant and intoxicating oil that can be used for a cosy, warming bath to bathe with or as a topical oil on skin to freshen and entice. It not only has that clove and ginger aspect when working as a scent alone but freshens a room and leaves my home feeling quite classy with a vitalising scent that candles alone can't provide.

              Okay, so the biggest downside is that the scent won't last for long when used with an ultrasonic scent diffuser - but for something that is different, completely natural and non-paraffin based - you won't get anything cleaner than using an aromatherapy scent, and if it means keeping the scent on for longer, you may need to consider that hot oil potpourri burner with a tealight candle and plenty of water in which this oil can be added for a longer, lingering presence of the aroma in the home.

              Largely then the downsides to this product are the expensive costs/mark up that Neal's Yard are hell bent in adding to every aromatherapy product they sell and for the fact that because of its ginger and clove extracts, this isn't going to be a suitable scent for just everyone. It is also a flammable product and cannot be used on skin as a neat oil.

              Although it is strongly scented of clove, the combination of ginger appears to bring it down without inducing coughs or sneezing, as clove can often do that alone. However unlike a few of the other oils that Neal's Yard sell, "Vitality," has a yellow colour due to its ginger mix and can stain clothing - so it is best to keep this oil solely either for aromatherapy or contained massage with nearby towels to mop up any spillages.

              Alternatively by buying from Calmer Solutions who sell Clove Bud oil at £1-02 for 10ml and then also, Ginger oil at £2-21 for 10ml, you make a massive saving, but at the detriment of getting the exact blend when having to manually mix these oils together. Having done this similarly with Clove Bud oil already purchased from Calmer Solutions, Neal's Yard version seems to be much stronger here with their version of clove oil - so, at least this product has some uniqueness about it rather than just assuming that by buying in two cheaper oils from another company, you'll get the same result. Therefore, Neal's Yard whole preparation here is better value and far more authentic.

              Final Thoughts

              Neal's Yard Vitality Energising aromatherapy oil is a refreshing 3-in-1 essential oil that is both energising, full of freshness and indeed seems to be able to kick me into action as well as able to give vitality both to my senses and to my home from time to time. It has a long shelf life too, bearing in mind that this oil can be used sparingly and when stored in a dark and dry place, appears to keep its freshness rather well.

              Neal's Yard Vitality Energising aromatherapy oil does largely perform to the company's promises though it is fairly expensive for the small amount. When I tried to create the same kind of scent using oils from a different company, the result wasn't as well rounded as this general scent and the layers on offer here seem to be better blended.

              Used as a massage oil though, it works wonders and does a far better job than a lot of other oils I have since purchased. That and its enticing fresh and natural scent makes it a product that I would definitely be buying again! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2014.



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                22.02.2014 15:53
                Very helpful



                A good idea of aromatherapy oil but too expensive & too weak for what it is supposed to deliver.

                Following on from my experience with Neal's Yard "Eucalyptus," oil, and in between waiting for my "spearmint," essential oil to arrive from another company I found online, another purchase I made on the day I bought my Ultrasonic scent diffuser and Eucalyptus oil was "Focus," Aromatherapy blend oil from Neal's Yard. I wasn't entirely sure why I picked "Focus," other than the scent that may have appealed to me at the time. But it may also have something to do with the fact that I wanted an oil that could just act as an aromatherapy oil only and not as a "3 in 1" oil like Eucalyptus. I also reckoned that with this purchase, the "Focus" oil could offer a healthier, herbal-based alternative to all the scented candles I buy, own and use.

                The Price, The Product & The Promise

                One bonus to buying "aromatherapy" oils only that only serve what they promise is that the cost prices are usually a bit lower than more versatile preparations. This aspect is because pure aromatherapy oils are a lot less distilled "at the root" compared to more versatile essential oils. So you can imagine the slight shock I found when this 10ml bottle "prepared especially by Neal's Yard," carries a general cost price of £9-50 even if it carries the additional bonus of being "Vegan" friendly.

                Generally for the cost price, Neal's Yard promise that "Focus," is "an energising pure essential oil blend that brings clarity of thought," as well as "...This blend of spearmint and rosemary helps clear the head and refocus the mind. It will help you tackle difficult tasks and academic learning with renewed vigour and clarity. Ideal for vaporisation..."

                The product carries a year before date and mimics the same kind of bottles that Neal's Yard seem to make other aromatherapy scents in, using the dark blue glass bottle with an organic and professional looking dark green and cream striped label.

                General Impressions & Design

                The bottle has this larger, purposeful label that covers the entire glass to stop natural light from dulling the oil when stored in the bottle, and like before there is an automatic permanent flush dropper installed at the top that allows the owner to drop the oil easily into a scent diffuser, or vaporizer for general aromatherapy purposes and without the oil going everywhere.

                As such you don't get a manual rubber pull out stopper with this type of 10ml bottle. There is only enough space at the back of the bottle between the start and end of the wrap around label to gauge how much oil is left by holding the bottle up to a light.

                Due to cold and dark days with autumn setting in, I couldn't wait to try this "focus" blend when I got home and especially in my ultrasonic scent diffuser, since the moment any aromatherapy oil is dropped into the little pool of water on board this machine and switched on, the aroma starts to flood out with an instant vapour of scent.

                General Performance & Downsides

                As before with the last Neal's Yard aromatherapy or essential oil I purchased, I was quite prepared to give this aroma a fighting chance amongst all the other scented products I have in my home. The reason being, not just from this product's claim of being able to "energise," but rather for the fact that the Eucalyptus oil I bought can already deliver the same promise, I just wanted a different scent that could offer the same purpose, but not be so earth like!

                Whilst eucalyptus certainly has that earthy patchouli and tea tree oil like layer to my nose, the focus mix from Neal's Yard here offers up rosemary and spearmint as the two primary scent layers. Traditionally, Rosemary has a calming property and when used as an aroma can aid or boost concentration as well as de-stress. It can also be used as a decongestant on its own by steam inhalation, although I rather like the herby camphor like smell in general boosted by its woody depths.

                The spearmint oil additive is refreshing, fragrant and extremely strong. For aromatherapy purposes it is known for its clear mind properties as well as able to de-stress and lift moods.

                But when the two come together this is a strange preparation to my senses despite the oil having a clear water like consistency! When I screw open the black cap at the top of the bottle and place the opening near my nose, there is a heavy whiff of menthol, no doubt from the minty extremes that this product paves. However, I also get an after tone of Coca Cola, tiger balm but very little rosemary.

                When it comes to actual vapour usage, the scent is slightly different in operation and only takes a few minutes for the rather fresh layers of mint and rosemary to come together. Positively at best, the scent that this product provides is a fantastic layer of strong ginger like scent, no doubt due to the rosemary flower itself, but the fragrance is very uplifting and only appears to have lighter primary tones of mint to carry the rosemary scent in the air.

                Although not as heavy as the earthy eucalyptus essential oil, Neal's Yard "Focus," certainly appeals to me on the grounds that the scent mix does keep me alert and generally stress free. I doubt that it would give me extra focus "for academic learning," when I burnt this in the late afternoon one day and fell asleep to its fragrant tones! When used in the mornings though, the fragrance does offer a caffeine like feeling to the day, but prolonged and certainly gives me enough power to stay awake.

                The directions on the side of the bottle also go onto direct the owner to add 3 to 4 drops into a bowl of steaming hot water with a towel for decongesting purposes, but again I really don't see the point of fully relying on this product fully when for the same amount you could just purchase "Olbas Oil," for that job alone.

                Instead, although my home smells lightly of mint and rosemary hanging in the air, "Focus" doesn't pervade my home fully. I can't help but feel a little disappointed to find that no other layers of other additives have been added here either and that generally, the spearmint isn't as heavy or as deeper as the fresher aromatherapy oil I purchased from the Calmer Solutions company at a far cheaper cost price. Certainly for the £9-50 price Neal's Yard are charging, one should expect a little more versatility.

                Indeed where downsides are concerned it is granted that not all can use aromatherapy and though this product is generally safe, it does carry a flammable warning and to keep out of the reach of children. The bottle also strongly recommends not using this oil on the body or in a bath and can only be used for aromatherapy purposes.

                Lastly, if, say this product cost £4-50 like the same 10ml quantity of Eucalyptus from Neal's Yard, I'd say that this product would be worth considering. However on the basis that you can buy rosemary oil at £1-24 from Calmer Solutions and combine that with their own 10ml spearmint oil at £1-62, both bottles will total no less than £3 which is three times LESS than the price Neal's Yard are charging for their own distilled mix.

                As such, Neal's Yard preparation here has me questioning on why this "Focus" product is so expensive when two separate bottles from another company that are just as organically produced will also give me greater control from being able to add as much or as little of both oils that I want!

                Other Sorts & Final Thoughts

                There is one other product offered by Neal's Yard known as "Focus Flower Essence Blend," which contains Rosemary and a similar promise of aiding concentration or focussing for exams.

                It comes with a manual rubber stopper and costs on average £8-00 for a 15ml-sized bottle. It is designed to be diluted in water and drunk or a drop can be placed under the tongue. I've been down this road before when I was a teenager and took Bach Remedy, but that never worked yet and I would be at two minds to trying this product, not just because it is expensive at cost.

                Generally although Neal's Yard are known as an organic supplier of essential and aromatherapy oils, the "Focus" Aromatherapy Blend has a rather expensive price and not much strength, even when used in a neater application of halving the directions to get a stronger bite.

                Able to keep me alert during mornings but not really that focussed throughout the day makes this product quite difficult to award a top rating. Were this product a bit more versatile and with a third oil added, it could present a much thicker and longer lasting scent value when it comes to aromatherapy - but when there are other companies online who can supply both oils in the same amount that Neal's Yard are charging three times the price of, the company need to focus themselves on their pricing and preparations. Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2014.



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                  21.02.2014 06:34
                  Very helpful



                  About as pure as you can get for an Aromatherapy oil from a high street name, but pricey!

                  The world of aromatherapy was born about 2000 years ago, and not withstanding other forms of scent in the home such as incense, scented candles and room sprays, it is little wonder that aromatherapy is so popular, particular for buyers who have seen past the artificial room sprays and "heated chemical" plug-in air fresheners for the home. Scenting a room or a home is one thing compared to the benefits of aromatherapy, where more natural scents can benefit the well being - and since the re-discovery of many aromatherapy oils in my life, Neal's Yard has been of benefit to extend the path of aroma-enlightenment!

                  The essence of Neal's Yard however may not appeal to every buyer - after all, their natural and organic extracted products like aromatherapy and massage oils are not cheap by any means and I was a bit taken aback as to one of my favourite oils being so expensive at cost.

                  The Price, The Product & The Promise

                  For the amount of 10ml of Neal's Yard Remedies Organic Eucalyptus Essential Oil, or "Eucalyptus Globulus," as it is also packaged under costs £4-50 to £6 dependent on stockist - either from Neal's Yard or other stockists online such as Lloyds Pharmacies.

                  At best, this product from Neal's Yard is the neatest form of Eucalyptus oil, and has been prepared by Neal's Yard as an "essential" oil that can be used in baths, massages and vaporisation in machines like my MadeByZen ultrasonic scent diffuser and other diffuser types. Neal's Yard also offer good advice for all of their oils and promises that this oil alone is a good decongestant as well as being suitable to be used with other essential oils such as fennel, frankincense, pine and ravensara.

                  General Impressions & Design

                  Like mostly all of the bottles of essential oils sold by Neal's Yard, "Eucalyptus," comes in a dark blue bottle intended to keep natural light from dulling the oil. A large cream and green label strip covers the entire bottle and carries the additional words "Cleansing," and "distilled from the leaf," for quality peace of mind. At best the bottle carries the same generic design as most essential oils with an automatic dropper feed already installed at the top of the bottle underneath the black screw cap stopper.

                  Thus, you don't get a manual rubber stopper with this product and only needs to be turned upside down to direct a couple of drops of the oil into whatever desired performance requirement. Easy to drop into the pool of water in my scent diffuser or a hot, steaming bath "ready to be treated," means the oil is ready and instant for use.

                  General Performance & Downsides

                  Neal's Yard Eucalyptus oil needs no carrier oil, although it can be easily blended with other oils to increase its potency and strength. Initially I was taken aback slightly by the scent that this neat oil offer. It smells extremely strong of eucalyptus but more so of Tea Tree oil, no surprise that it is distant relative of eucalyptus, but for those who use or approve of the popular decongestant "Olbas Oil," this product has a far deeper earthier layer of eucalyptus and isn't for the faint hearted!

                  In general use as a bath preparation, I find this oil to be far stronger on scent than "Olbas Oil," even though the latter is half the price, this oil isn't as effective long term as "Olbas Oil," since the latter product has far more essential oils on board. Plus, for the cost price here, I wouldn't necessarily depend on Eucalyptus oil alone! It has the power to shift a blocked nose but it would take a lot more just or give me energy whilst taking a relaxing bath, but it won't shift aches and pains.

                  Instead, I find this is more of a good tone for cleansing airways when a few drops are added to a tissue and added underneath my pillow, or pretty much the similar ways that both Olbas Oil and Vicks Vapour rub can be used - three or four drops in a glass of hot water can stink out a room, though. But, unlike Olbas or Vicks, this neat oil will only last a couple of hours when used with water vapour. On a tissue, the oil lasts longer and when used as a massage oil, I find it works extremely well and has a longer lasting appeal for easing mild tensions around muscle pain.

                  Normally, if I want a fresher 100% garden scent flowing through my home with added energy, this is the scent of choice first thing in the morning! This is where a mechanical plug in timer comes into play and my scent diffuser - able to awake me with a fresher scent that gives me a brighter and positive sense of well being when it is dark and raining outside in the early mornings!

                  The beauty of Neal's Yard Eucalyptus oil is that it seems to clean the air in my home almost with a sweep of anti-bacterial layers of freshness, with shades of reminiscent "Neutradol," without the added soapy clean chemicals.

                  All the while, the strong peppery pine tones of this scent rear up a lot of wakening tones that give the air another added minty like depth. Certainly if you have ever experienced the similar "paraffin based," Eucalyptus oil that is sold with Ashleigh & Burwood ornate fragrance lamps that use a "quiet" flame, the scent here is exactly the same, but obviously without the paraffin, lingering in the background. Warming and relaxing to have in tandem, there are quite a few properties and uses to Eucalyptus oil, not just as a general decongestant but as a freshening, herbal scent that lifts my general mood, easily and quickly.

                  The biggest downside I find however is the simple fact that this product is fairly expensive for the 10ml on offer here and despite its clear liquid like and water consistency, it can stain clothing as it has a slight yellow tint to it. Recently when I bought another essential oil that couldn't be used as a massage oil, I was at two minds on whether to fully give this product five stars since it offers that 3 in 1 versatility and general approach. When you consider that Amazon UK are selling a single 100ml bottle at £9-00 of the same product without the cache of the "Neal's Yard," name tagged with it, this little 10ml bottle starts to look very expensive indeed!

                  Other Sorts & Final Thoughts

                  Not to be outdone, Neal's Yard offers other Eucalyptus based essential oils with other additives and other ranges such as:

                  * Eucalyptus Radiata Org - suitable for children over 2 years old (£5-50 per 10ml).
                  * Eucalyptus Lemon Oil - suitable for aches and pains (£5-00 per 10ml).
                  * Eucalyptus Salve Body butter - suitable for aches & pains (£10 for 45g).
                  * Eucalyptus Dried Herb - 50g, loose. (£2-00).

                  Although an essential oil like Neal's Yard Eucalyptus oil won't appeal to all, it is a basic energiser in its purest sense that offers healing and decongestant abilities as multi layer properties and when those moan about chemicals in candles, I don't think you can't get purer than an essential oil that has been taken straight from the leaf!

                  Deep and earthy, I find Neal's Yard Eucalyptus "Cleansing" oil manages to deep cleanse my home by fresh and natural aromas whilst also offering a base oil for massaging with. I find it is most effective where other medicines may appear to be too chemically based for their own good.

                  Although it is an essential and effective oil, I feel it is a bit expensive for the small quantity. If Neal's Yard really wants to keep its custom, it has to strive for the same prices online from its rivals. Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2014.



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                  • More +
                    20.02.2014 20:23
                    Very helpful



                    A good attempt at "genuine Bosch" dust bags but can endanger your Bosch vacuum cleaner.

                    Like the advent of pound shops, cheaper car deals, supermarket brands and quite possibly even the ease and cheapness of cheaper airlines, there's a lot of merchandise and services out there designed to make the single pound stretch further. Of course you have to make compromises - the cheap cordless toothbrush you purchased from Argos not so long ago requires constant visits to the store for replacement brushes until they stop selling that product - or vacuum cleaners that brands no longer sell or make - and have to make do with copy dust bags since the genuine ones are out of stock - or are hard to get.

                    The same case is with Bosch's genuine dust bags for the recently purchased BSGL-50 "All Floors," cylinder vacuum cleaner I bought last summer. Although it was handy to find a dust bag already installed in the vacuum cleaner when I took it out of the box, I knew that there wouldn't be a spare box of bags with the vacuum cleaner. Only some brands give away extra bags for free (usually from brands where replacement parts like dust bags may be more difficult to find later on, in my experience!).

                    I was dismayed to find that the genuine "GXXL Super Tex," 5-litre dust bags for this bigger vacuum cleaner, hard to get unless I solely purchased the bags online and at £8 for just four at a time, found it just as expensive as owning a Miele. Even at my local Currys who sell Bosch vacuums, they have run out of the genuine dust bags, making the online purchase necessary to keep the vacuum going, properly.

                    The Product, The Price & The Promise

                    This is where Qualtex come in. Unlike Uni-Fit and other companies who sell "copy dust bags" and copy Dyson filters for very cheap money, Qualtex in the UK have been supplying the trade for many years (since 1961, infact) and quite quietly with close-to-genuine parts as possible for most major brands. They are authorised to produce exactly the same dust bags for Bosch or other brands, and match the design where fitting and stitching is concerned - mostly.

                    At cost a genuine box of Bosch XXXL (which are smaller in capacity at 4 litres) dust bags costs £7-95 to £15 dependent on stockist and like Miele, you get only 4 dust bags for that cost price and spare filters to slide in behind the bag.

                    Qualtex bags are double the price at £12-95 to £15 but you get 20 dust bags making this company a bit of a bargain, even if it is just 4 litres per bag! It is a cost effective solution especially in light of the fact that the Qualtex have made a universal synthetic material fit bag here, claimed to fit "all" Bosch cylinder vacuums and you get 5 additional felt filters to replace each time 4 dust bags are used.

                    Similar to mostly all synthetic dust bags on the market today in vacuums, the material is electrostatic, that allows dust to be captured but still allows "power" of the vacuum to filter through the bag to prolong suction. Dyson may well have taught the general markets that dust bags clog, but he was only telling half the story!

                    General Impressions & Design

                    Qualtex G dust bags fit mostly all of the Bosch cylinder vacuums made available in the UK such as BS1, BS2, BS5, BS55, BS6, BS7, BS8 VSGL7, BSGL5, BSGL4, BSG6000, BSG7 as well as Siemens vacuums and a few others.

                    The design of the bags matches the genuine Bosch dust bags but only with a few differences. For the cost price, the dust bags are made out of similar synthetic disposable material that gives flexibility when the bags are installed in the vacuums and there's the same light blue coloured plastic cartridge holder that is permanently bonded onto the top of the bag with follow arrows that allow the dust bags to slide in and lock into the Bosch bag holder inside the vacuum cleaner. The dust channel has a rubber membrane to ensure a seal between the suction hose at the top of the vacuum cleaner hood, when the door is closed over.

                    Unlike other copy bags on the market that have a poor fold over seal designed to cover the dust channel, Qualtex have adapted a similar pull plastic seal that moves over the dust channel when the dust bag is pulled out of the vacuum cleaner, come the time to empty and the seal does pull over the bag hole when the bags are required to be changed. Compared to Bosch though, Qualtex bags here are a great deal thinner and appear to have 2 layers instead of the 4 to 5 added filtration layers that Bosch fit into their genuine dust bags.

                    General Performance & Downsides

                    Since July 2013 when I bought the Bosch GL-50 and with the intention of using it to clean clients' homes, I have found that the Qualtex bags have a slightly lower duration of longevity compared to the genuine dust bags made by Bosch. It was in mid September 2013 when the "complementary" dust bag in my Bosch was crammed with dust and due to a lack of availability when purchasing dust bags, made the decision to try Qualtex based on the quantity supplied rather than going with Bosch genuine dust bags.

                    Thanks to the HEPA filter on board the Bosch vacuum, the dust bags and accumulated odours from dust collected are kept back, although it is more apparent when the vacuum cleaner door is opened to gain access to the bin that strong odours prevail in the dust bag. It is very easy to waste a dust bag by adding a lot of bicarbonate of soda to keep odours back, so I just add a teaspoon of powder to the Qualtex bags so that it doesn't block the dust bag when in use and Bosch's bags here are better at absorbing smells without adding powder, and it's down to the extra built in fabric layers.

                    Generally, Qualtex G bags do the job as intended although with most Bosch vacuums that have 2200 watts, or 1200 watts if you have the Eco vac models, I have noticed a drop in suction power as the bags get a quarter full and compared to the Bosch dust bag, the Qualtex bag lasted about two months before it required to be changed. Generally, I can tell where the drop in quality is concerned, as I'm using the Bosch vacuum (despite its shortcomings) for cleaning homes only, so the Qualtex bags pay for themselves, even if they don't last as long as the normal 4 bags over 2.5 to 3 months.

                    However, upon disposing of the first bag, I noticed that the suction channel on the Qualtex bag isn't as well made as Bosch genuine dust bags. Depending on how full you allow the Qualtex bag to get, the dust channel is made of very weak rubber that allows some dust to escape, thus having to deal with excess dust outside the bag and clogs up the felt filter behind the motor. I also had problems opening the vacuum cleaner dust bin door as the membrane got stuck between the bag, the bag holder and the dust channel where the hose locks into. If I had applied brute force, I could have cracked the dust bag holder inside the Bosch - thus a gentle hand is required here.

                    This isn't an aspect that I was expecting and as such, it is possible to damage the vacuum cleaner if prolonged dust is allowed to escape the bag and clog the filter! You can damage your warranty this way if your appliance has an extended guarantee.

                    The filters are also required to be cut to size, but you'd have to do that with Miele whereas SEBO vacuums have already made filters that don't require cutting and you normally get 7 to 8 bags or more for the same cost price that both Miele or Bosch charge for their vacuums.

                    Other Sorts & Final Thoughts

                    Although Qualtex offer this deal where 15 dust bags are available, there are other copy companies who offer Bosch dust bags such as:

                    * Unifit UN1234 dust bags for Bosch, 4 in a pack for £3 to £5-99.

                    Were it the case that Qualtex's G bags capture dust well and keep it there, there would be no question in my mind that these bags by price along deserve strong consideration.

                    However much they have been authorised by Bosch to produce a similar disposable dust bag, the "G" copy bags aren't entirely accurate.

                    With the biggest design failure of a weak dust channel membrane that can break loose and allow dust to flood in the dust compartment, thus endangering or even making your warranty void for the vacuum cleaner in question, Qualtex must make these bags stronger to prevent the membrane from leaking dust. They also have to improve the rubber seal so that it doesn't tear apart, sticking to the hose channel on the top of the lid, which can also make removal difficult without breaking the vacuum cleaner.

                    Long term, although Qualtex appear to offer customers a bigger bargain based on the quantity of disposable synthetic dust bags you do get, I would be inclined to stick with Bosch genuine dust bags. They are designed, fit for purpose, don't leak dust and absorb pet hair and stronger odours better. They also last a bit longer, too and whilst Bosch dust bags are more expensive to buy, they are far better for your vacuum and your home. Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2014.



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                    • More +
                      17.02.2014 03:57
                      Very helpful



                      One box of bags is designed to last a year, larger capacity better than FJM, but still pricey.

                      If you are a Miele vacuum cleaner owner and own a Miele cylinder/pull along vacuum cleaner there have always been two to three types per model as to what dust bag the vacuum cleaner is supposed to use. The famous "Cat and Dog" vacuum cleaner from Miele that carries the S5000 model numbers use the GN size dust bag from Miele and it has been on sale for more than ten years since the bag was also used in the previous generation S800 XXL cylinder vacuum cleaner as well.

                      Miele made the change to synthetic dust bags as far back as 2006 when their previous IntensiveClean synthetic dust bags began to meet competition from other brands that offered the same layers of filtration. As such Miele were not to be out done and where previously IntensiveClean offered 7 layers of filtration, the HyClean bags offer 9 layers of protective filtration. Pity the reinvention didn't cover the price. At a cost price of £9-95 to £12-95 dependent on stockist, the GN dust bags come in a box of just four bags with a spare set of Super Air Clean filters, one designed to fit behind the dust bag that has to be cut to fit and a rectangular spare filter designed to replace the standard Super Air Clean filter on board, so that it purges the vacuum cleaner completely, thus giving the filtration value a new lease of life.

                      General Impressions & Design

                      Each GN dust bag that comes out of the Miele GN box can fit the following models: previous S400,600 & 800 models, S2000 models, S5000 and S8000 models. The other cylinder vacuums by Miele use the smaller 3.5 litre FJM dust bag that mimics the same design as the GN series but is smaller in size and has a different colour of pull and seal. The GN series holds 4.5 litres to 5 litres of dust before the bag will require replacing and there's a self seal on the bag that is supposed to prevent dust escaping when the bag is taken out as well as made with a protective barrier grid inside the bags so that harder dust like glass and sharp bolts can't penetrate the synthetic filters, thus having a stronger bag.

                      Add to the additional filters on board and the Miele system offers about 13 layers of filtration altogether - much more than a lot of brands who persist in using paper HEPA cartridges compared to Miele's more advanced filters.

                      For the cost price, Miele have made these synthetic but disposable "one use" only bags as well made as they can. That's not to say that the previous dust bags from the IntensiveClean were bad - they were far from it - and the only design element that has been added here compared to Intensive Clean is the inner self seal and rubberised membrane to seal in dirt as well as extra layers of filtration. They are still white in colour and have a soft, flexible feel with genuine branding in grey.

                      General Performance & Downsides

                      Due to the popularity and general excellence of Miele cylinder vacuums in the UK at least, the old Intensive Clean dust bags are now very hard to find - and that's a great pity as I tended to buy the older dust bags to make money stretch further - and the GN size for Intensive Clean are now extremely hard to find because they have all been replaced by the GN HyClean series.

                      However, in use and in my Miele vacuums, I find 2.5 to 3 months seems to be the maximum that the GN style bag can take in terms of dust capacity before it requires it to be replaced. This is why Miele give you only four dust bags in a box because they have tested each bag to last three months and thus claim that one box of dust bags can last a year.

                      The HyClean GN bag is reasonably well made for the price, very flexible and very easy to slip into any Miele vacuum cleaner, only locking with a quiet, quality reassuring soft-click sound to highlight the soft-locking mechanisms. The smaller FJM size is identifiable because it has a red pull and red seal whereas the GN has a light blue pull and blue seal, thus making sure the owner doesn't get confused as to the proper bag their vacuum requires.

                      In use, the GN bag does what it appears to do - however - if you own pets and even with a pet filter added such as the yearly chargeable "Active Air Clean," or "HEPA" filter cartridge, the free filters are a bit of a waste of money, if only able to be changed for the motor and the bags in my opinion don't hide the rather nasty pong of dog hair and associated dirt collected from having four legged friends.

                      Though the filter on board does a good job of holding back pet odour when the vacuum cleaner is used, it only afterwards when opening the bag door that I can smell the rather off-putting smell of dust and dog hair. This is because, despite Miele's promise, that the self-seal cap inside the bag fails to close over when the bag requires emptying. At times, dependent on the dirt picked up and put into the bag, dust can fall out of the bag's main dust channel when pulling the bag softly from its locked mechanism holder when it requires to be disposed of.

                      Other Sorts & Final Thoughts

                      Over the years companies such as Uni-Fit and Qualtex have provided copy bags that are non-genuine with Miele vacuums. Whilst some fit well, I have only used copy bags ONCE and they were a complete disaster. Despite the copy bags offering top value of five bags for £4-99, the plastic holder that slides into the bag holder in my Miele vacuums were very thin and liable to crack, pulling away from the holder and allowing dirt to fall into the bin area. This is damaging for the filter near the motor, even if it is felt design, it can't hold everything back and can damage the fan if any excess dirt gets past the white felt filter.

                      Secondly due to the high force of power that most, if not all Miele vacuums express, the copy bags that are available for Miele vacuums similar to the GN either have poorer seals that are worse than Miele or have retained the similar plastic holder design and replaced it with thin cardboard that eventually bends out of the holder. With either design, you're liable to shorten your Miele vacuum by using copy dust bags and based on the fact that Miele vacuums aren't cheap to buy but have a 10 year lifetime expectancy, fitting genuine GN HyClean dust bags are far more recommended. If you can find the cheaper "older" Intensive Clean GN dust bags, you're looking at half the cost price for the same amount of bags, but they can be hard to find now, in 2014.

                      At the end of the day, Miele only produce one high filtration disposable dust bag for high end Miele vacuums and the GN dust bag is about as professional as you can get from Miele for your Miele. The dust bags are well made, easy to fit and easy to take out and whilst they hold a lot of dirt, gentle care is required when taking the bags out to prevent any dust escaping. Until Miele address the self seal that properly closes up, no matter what, these bags are good - but they could be better for ultra cleaning and disposing of - especially when bagged vacuums in general are better all round for those with dust allergies. Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2014.



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                      • Kenwood AT994A / Food Processor / 38 Readings / 35 Ratings
                        More +
                        10.02.2014 04:16
                        Very helpful



                        An original attachment for Kenwood's Chef & Major - and a very professional blender!

                        Last week before I went away for business purposes and ended up staying a week down south with friends, I made a small batch of soup knowing what to come home to and prepare in my slow cooker. If the snow arrives for example, all I require to do is choose between the home made recipes I have done already from stews and curries or if I require a light meal, any one of the two to three different soup stocks I have made. At the time of usage though I required my hand blender to liquidise all the chunky vegetables but couldn't find it in my kitchen and well, just decided to put this liquidiser jug to good use - the one that Kenwood usually supply free of charge with every Kenwood Chef bought - usually as a free accessory brand new.

                        At cost, the standard "Kenwood Liquidiser," AT993 is recognisable because it is a white and clear acrylic based design with a central gradient fill line both in millilitres and cups and has no outer spout. Kenwood have also produced the same design but in a slightly different finish, with a glass goblet material rather than plastic and comes with higher / flagship ranges of the Chef and Major models, dependent on the style/price. Earlier this year, Kenwood released an all metal blender that lacks the clarity of either glass or acrylic plastic, and as a result, there's been a little decrease of the original blender's price.

                        At cost 2014 prices of £14-99 to £28 dependent on seller - the cheapest Kenwood liquidiser you can buy for your Kenwood Chef or Major carries the "AT993/4A" model numbers and it is a part that is still on sale if you don't mind its slightly older, angular design compared to a lot of the other liquidisers that Kenwood sell such as the AT337 at £20 and upwards.

                        The following promise from Kenwood conveys exactly what this liquidiser attachment achieves:

                        "...Ideal for milkshakes, soups, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs and nuts. Sharp stainless steel blades will produce a very fine soup.."

                        General Impressions & Design

                        To date I own a few cost optional Kenwood Chef accessories such as the citrus juicer and multi-grinding mill, and it is the mill's base that shares the same "castle cut" acrylic PVC generic design that also befits the Kenwood Liquidiser AT994.

                        Dressed in white with the parts that are removable, the handle is a chunky, rectangular and angular design that feels like a commercial handle rather than the sloping plastic of the smaller 1 litre liquidisers fitted to the old Kenwood FP690 food processors (I know, I had one and whenever it was cleaned in a dishwasher, the dirt would get inside the handle, impossible to remove).

                        Here the more open grab nature of the AT994 is a lot meatier to grab onto and because of the handle's curved wall design, means it is easy to wash down with no flush parts in the plastic where dirt can hide. The whole liquidiser jug comes apart in three key identifiable areas - the top lid which unscrews from the jug, a small pull to twist out feeder lid located in the centre of the lid of the jug and the jug itself, which unscrews from the bottom motor area that includes the 4 quad blades.

                        It is the base plate or rather motor casing that is probably the sharpest of them all because it has those blades permanently fitted.

                        There are several black on white screw labels reminders on the motor casing at the top of the rim as well that show you how to screw the liquidiser jug onto the Chef before usage. It is important to screw the jug in properly as my review will shortly reveal!

                        General Performance & Downsides

                        In general use, I find the Kenwood AT993/4A to be quite an accomplished liquidiser jug. However, when I first took it out of the separate box (it came as a free accessory with our Kenwood Chef KM310) it came in, it came pre-assembled in four parts that are easy to assemble. This consists of the base motor geared part with screw threads and blades on a rubber perimeter ring permanently fitted, then the jug itself, the top lid and a round central pull-to-unlock-twist feeder top that also acts as a handy pull off knob for taking the lid off after prep is done.

                        When I used the blender for the first time I made a milkshake and hadn't noticed the black nibs on the rim of the motor assembly on the base of the jug. What resulted was the blender leaking all over the Chef motor (which is luckily, wet protected) and made sure thereafter to keep an eye on the black corresponding "labels" that have been permanently added to the top rim of the motor casing that separates the bottom of the jug and the blades underneath.

                        Still, it is important to know this, as this is when access to the jug and its blades for easier cleaning can be done. When it comes to washing out I tend to just wash the jug out with hot, soapy water although the jug and lid are dishwasher safe, the base unit is not.

                        However what comes across rather immediately is that before use, I feel this jug is quite a big liquidiser jug that fits on the "high/medium speed outlet" on the top of the Chef mixer. The whole jug has a general height of some 36cm and a diameter of 19cm and approximately 1.4kg in weight. Worlds away from the more compact and lighter 1 litre jug from the food processor, Kenwood's original AT993/4A is fully equipped with four sets of gradients from millilitres, fluid ounces to pints and even cups, ensuring any baker with the more common of food measurement can rely fully on the very clear, large to medium font markings permanently embossed on the jug. It is this feature alone that I appreciate, as I can either add the ingredients at waist level on my worktop before twisting the liquidiser jug and lid onto the top of the Kenwood Chef before processing.

                        Or I can just add the drop-to-twist-and-lock liquidiser on the motor at the top of the Chef and add ingredients drop by drop through the central removable lid from there. However, due to the extended height, access can be difficult in this way as both the mill and the citrus juicer are half the height than this liquidiser.

                        But when it comes to performance in general the Kenwood AT993/4A is a very professional liquidiser and blender jug. Provided by the oomph of power from the Kenwood Chef (base models range from 500 watts to the 1000 watts on the KMC flagships including the Titanium models) slow processing is very easy to accomplish due to the wide diameter of the jug and from the blades themselves. The lid is also air tight because it requires to be screwed on when used and thus can be used with hot or cold liquids to its maximum capacity.

                        This liquidiser however is the original design that uses Kenwood's original "whole lemons" and sugar recipe to produce home made lemonade with ice chunks. Even if Kenwood's initial promises don't convey that this liquidiser can handle ice - it does it with comparative ease. I have often made this homemade recipe with this liquidiser jug and also find it great for making smoothies, milkshakes and even blending down soups.

                        One added aspect is that the central lid's feeder tube can be removed easily to let out steam during the process when blending down soups or other hot chunky liquids like mulled wine.

                        However despite the thick Acrylic plastic that doesn't dull that much with oils produced from grinding nuts or biscuits to a fine powder like consistency, the noise of food prep like ice grinding down isn't for the faint hearted and often a little water is required to dislodge chunks of ice that can get stuck under the blades. Each time this liquidiser is used however, I always get professional results with precise grinding or purifying or even blending.

                        Surprisingly, I find that when it comes to pouring, the liquid seems to narrow when it reaches the top of the open nature of the liquidiser when the lid is taken off. The design of the jug ensures no splashes in general and it is a fairly simple but rather magical way in how easy pouring out with this jug is.

                        Of course dependent on the Chef or Major model you might own, the liquidiser jug can whizz up food prep in seconds dependent on the speed you choose on the variable power of the Chef and those models fitted with the pulse function means a quick turn of the dial produces the highest and most fastest speed available. The jug can be left on its own on top of the Chef as long as it locked in properly, giving you time to do other things or perhaps more prep work via the Chef as it mixes something in the bowl at the same time.

                        Though the jug does absorb some of the noise caused by its geared motor underneath, it is a noisy process - similar to any kind of blender on the market.

                        Other Sorts & Final Thoughts

                        The Kenwood AT993/4A is the older, more original liquidiser jug that comes from Kenwood but the there is a more modern version, the AT337 which also fits the Kenwood Chef and Major models - it has an increased fill capacity of 1.5 litres and a modern lid with a proper spout for pouring. Others consist of:

                        AT338 - Glass blender with 1.5 litres - fits all Chef/ Major models.
                        AT358 - ThermoResist Glass Blender 1.6 litres cold, 1.2 litres hot - fits all Chef/Major.

                        So, if you own a Kenwood Chef, the Kenwood AT993/4A is the more cost effective way of owning a blender attachment suitable for the rather versatile Kenwood Chef or Major mixer. It isn't the most modern of attachments to use though I find it far better to use than the more modern AT337 unit that has a pouring spout but a poorer, inferior quality lid.

                        At the end of the day, like the original attachments that come with this professional kitchen mixer, the AT993/4 is made to last and on account ours has been thoroughly used for the last seven years, it still continues to give superb results and has remained very durable. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2014.



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                        • More +
                          07.02.2014 15:34
                          Very helpful



                          An expensive "basic" wired mouse that should be better made and not so pricey.

                          There is nothing worse, when away for a week and you take your laptop with you when your cherished wireless Mac mouse develops a fault. Such was the case that happened to me when visiting friends and went down to London. Amidst looking for all the old haunts and discovering that very little exists nowadays, I went into a local PC World/Currys store in High Street Kensington after realising that I wasn't going to be able to do any work without a mouse of some sort. The only problem was that at the time of purchase, no one was interested in serving me, preferring buyers who were spending £400 on various computers and totally ignored me.

                          The Product, The Price & The Promise

                          Well, it wouldn't be the first time that Currys have let me down. So, my business instead went to the Maplin store next door and came away with a wired computer mouse known as "Microsoft Basic Wired Mouse," at a cost price of £12.99 It isn't the cheapest by a long shot but I was impressed at the time of purchase with the longer cord on this wired, optical red LED base light product and secondly, I was able to be served straight away without any problem!

                          The general promise that Microsoft conveys with the Basic mouse details:

                          "...Benefit from great features such as ambidextrous design and stay at your peak creativity without emptying your wallet. With this mouse, you can rely on optical technology for smooth, precise control. Use the scroll wheel for quick, confident navigation and customizable buttons for one-click access to your favorite documents, music files, or functions..."

                          General Impressions & Design

                          The "Basic" Microsoft PC wired mouse is as simple and plain as it sounds. But it isn't basic looking to my eyes though, with a "dirt hiding" black colour and my model, which seems to have a bright grey scroller wheel compared to the all in super-black/darth colour that appears to be an older model.

                          The newer version for 2014 doesn't appear to be any different otherwise and has a red optical led base light and generic single left hand and right hand control buttons. The base of the mouse has four slim feet permanently attached and the mouse sits easily on almost any kind of flat surface. It has an approximate size of 113cm length by 5.7cm wide. It isn't a compact mouse by any means but it holds the generic size of standard wire mice in general.

                          In the hand and on my desktop table, the Microsoft Basic appears to have a stylish shape, designed for general use and appears to fit my hand very well without slipping off.

                          This is due in part to the micro fine finish of the matt black surface and the brand name is set in white lettering to the base of the mouse at the top of the hood. For all intents and purposes, there are no contrasting plastic finishes here, which may explain the "basic" name of the product title, but for the cost price of £13, this mouse isn't exactly basic on price, when you consider lower-not so well known names charge a quarter of £5 for a similar item.

                          However, that aside, what attracted me the most about this product is that it can be used with all PC computers with Windows 98 and upwards including Tablet PC Edition, Windows 7 and 8 as well as Mac systems from OS X 10.1 onwards. It is also suitable for PS2 and single USB port and has a lightweight feel.

                          The packaging box confirms this of course with the official symbols from both organisations and you get two booklets of a user guide and worldwide guarantee with this product, though I feel it is a waste of recycled paper for a thick user manual when this product is as basic and simple to operate.

                          General Performance & Downsides

                          When I bought this mouse, I just required it for use either on the train journeys as well as where I was staying and essentially to replace the Mac Magic Mouse I have come to rely on for a few years. I may well buy another Mac mouse in the future, but for my work and line of interests, I really require a far more reliable wired unit than constantly changing batteries, or being at the control of rechargeable ones.

                          As soon as I got the Microsoft Basic mouse home and took it out of it's packaging, I was rewarded with a very long cord from the mouse to the computer. It measures approximately 15cm in length and it is very similar in feel and touch to my budget "Sweex" wired mouse I bought a few years back but lacks the split of the two flush buttons on the top of the Microsoft hood. Powered by a single "plug and play" 2.0 USB cord, the Microsoft Basic mouse has no problems being plugged into either a Macbook or a PC laptop and the mouse works in an instant, which is what I expect from a basic corded mouse anyway.

                          The scroller wheel is ribbed and it moves with exacting precision, with an additional third click when required for more features, dependent on the computer system you have and the software you might use with this mouse. However the clicking of the wheel is noisy and it wasn't the first surprise I would get when it comes to general use. Sometimes in use, dependent on how quick my finger scrolls the dial, the scroller jumps up and down too quickly, so a gentle and slow finger is really required here if you use the scroller often.

                          However, in use, when it came to using this mouse in a shared living room amongst others who had similar mice connected to their computers, I became quite aware that the main buttons on this mouse are rather noisy. It may be comfortable to hold due to is soft edges but it isn't called "basic" for nothing! The left "activation" button in particular feels okay on my fingers and the natural sweeping gestures of my fingers able to press down on the light clicks can't trick this mouse into being any quieter, with the clicks being quite audible and rather annoying.

                          In a heartbeat then, this is not the ideal mouse to use if you are travelling in a shared area, unless you really don't mind making a lot of noise. I'd have also liked to have seen a cord rewind or cord storage bezel added to the design to take up excess cord if you are working in limited space areas.

                          I however was a bit disappointed with this as the mouse is pretty fast in being able to function quickly including the right hand button that is normally reserved for opening up files or activating mini command windows, generic to the system I work on, or with additional software opened up at the time this mouse is used. Both buttons are noisy, so its not as if you'll get a difference with either button - and I feel that the split down the middle of this mouse on the top is the cause of the excess clicking noises.

                          Other Sorts & Final Thoughts

                          Microsoft produce a white version of this mouse priced slightly cheaper at £12-74 but obviously prices change by shopping around.

                          To conclude then, for a fast and functional wired mouse, the Microsoft Basic mouse is as simple as it sounds on paper or by spec and promise and it is fast and comfortable to use without ever feeling that it gets too hot in use. However, in reality I find the buttons are too noisy for my liking, reserving this kind of product for home use only rather than travelling with, and as such with its rather expensive pricing compared to Advent who charge £4-99 for a similar version, but with a shorter cord, both the UK market in general and Microsoft need to address the pricing - it is far too expensive for what you get here - and ultimately what you have to put up with in general use. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2014.



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                          • More +
                            07.02.2014 02:01
                            Very helpful



                            A surprising shower cream from Nivea that does what it promises - largely and cheaply, too!

                            When I was staying in London a week ago with friends, I was privy to the bath products that my host and the rest of the household use. The product he had bought was a product that I haven't ever actually thought about before - a man's product by Nivea for the shower- and from what appears to be a shower gel that offers three functional and practical uses - a shower gel for the body that can also be used for washing hair with AND a facial wash.

                            Why hasn't someone thought about this before? We men always get the hard end of the stick when it comes to shower products. If it doesn't stink of synthetic musk, then it is fake fizzy orange and if it smells decent, then half the time the product is either too expensive to buy on a regular basis or likely to give me an allergy because of the amount of chemicals that the product uses and where my combination skin reacts badly!

                            Normally priced at £2-50 to £2-99, Nivea for Men "Sensitive" Shower Gel is currently on sale slashed to £1 at my local Morrisons per 250ml. That is better than half price and the product carries the following promise:

                            "...Specifically developed for sensitive skin - It gently cleanses and moisturises leaving your skin feeling refreshed and cared for. Recharge and invigorate with every shower. A hydrating formula with caring bamboo milk cleanses and moisturises your skin..."

                            General Impressions & Design

                            New for 2014 in "white" colouring as opposed to the blue bottles here on Dooyoo UK, the product could well be just the old formula or improved against the new bottle colour.

                            Looking a little high tech from its manly twice-ribbed and rectangular bottle, were it not for those details, this bottle could look quite unisex. However Nivea clearly have a good formula here, which they are quite excited about and though the bottle is designed for shower use, it lacks a hook, preferring to offer just a simple silver plastic flip up top, instead. The bottle is quite narrow compared to other shower gels on the market, making it more of an ideal fit for any gym bag or travelling with and it is one bottle in my shower cabinet that seems to fit quite easily without getting scuffed by wedging it in!

                            Reading between the lines here, this formula promises to be pH-balanced and contains Bamboo milk, which made me think about how the company can call it a "gel" since shower gel to my mind is usually opaque. Here you get a thick white lotion type "gel" milk that pours easily out the top of the bottle but has a thicker consistency to many a shower "cream." It is completely smooth and lacks any grainy particles like some other men's shower products that break up on contact with running water.

                            I was fairly impressed last year with some of Nivea's other products for showering with as well as their Men's Silver-Ion Protect roll on, a product that I still regularly buy as it gives me no abrasion for under arm care. I was quite excited to try this shower gel with the Nivea name and promise behind it.

                            General Performance & Downsides

                            When I first used Nivea for Men Sensitive, I was away from home and didn't have a shower puff to use this shower cream. Thus, it was in the hand and smoothened over my body under a hot running shower for first use performance.

                            The scent of Nivea For Men Sensitive is one other reason to why I went out an bought the product for myself as soon as I returned from London.

                            There's a beautifully light lemon scent that rises up from this shower gel that is very understated but reminds me of lemon cheesecake or Muller Lite lemon yogurt without being too zesty rich. The tones here eventually manage to wake me up through the process of showering but the first aspect that I noticed straight away is how well Nivea for Men Sensitive lathers up. It doesn't require a puff or sponge to do this and a little seems to go a long way - good news if you manage to buy this shower gel on offer and want to turn Mr Scrooge!

                            Whilst I was in the shower and read the bottle close up, it does highlight with grey writing on the front that the product can be used both as a shampoo and as a facial wash. Now I have combination skin, and I was a bit hesitant to try this on my face, even if my dry, damaged hair could handle this sensitive formula better. I already have Nivea's Essentials facial gel wash that I use in between the lemon formula of my Clean and Clear product and find it particularly effective, anyway.

                            On wet damaged hair, Nivea For Men Sensitive is pretty good. I find that the gel is easy to lather up, doesn't product that static dry feeling when hair is rinsed off and the shower cream doesn't make my scalp itchy. The overall feeling is one of cleanliness. Thus as a sensitive formula for body and hair, this is a great shower gel that I would be happy to take with me, when travelling.

                            As a facial wash though, the gel does an okay job but near my forehead and after towelling down, I was left with dry skin. It is a joy of having combination skin and where my forehead is usually quite greasy. Nivea For Men Sensitive may be a low-chemical formula, but in this instance, it doesn't fully cleanse everything that the shower gel claims to do but as a bonus I was happy to find that the gel doesn't give me painful dry skin on my forehead like some other shower gels I have used.

                            Through use though, one other aspect makes itself very clear - Nivea for Men Sensitive leaves my skin feeling very soft rinsing the product off in the shower and after towelling down. Not luxuriously soft like a shower cream with added moisturisers, but soft enough without having to add a body lotion, thus adding to its versatility as an all over body wash perfect for a man on the go!

                            Even as the product easily washes off in the shower, the scent of the lemon starts to become more greener with a gentle wave of bamboo, giving this shower gel a slightly refreshing but more cosseting feeling. It never comes across as synthetic though and at a push, you could say there's a faint hint of washing powder about it, too. The scent dies down as soon as I have towelled down though, but for the price I paid, I am not complaining - I feel clean and its 3 in 1 formula is beautifully versatile!

                            Other Sorts & Final Thoughts

                            At the time of purchase there appeared to be other products in the Nivea for Men range of shower gels such as:

                            * Nivea for Men Energy Shower Gel.
                            * Nivea for Men Shower Sport Gel.
                            * Nivea for Men Shower Silver Protect 2 in 1 Shower Gel
                            * Nivea for Men Power Refresh Shower Gel
                            * Nivea for Men Energy 2 in 1 Shower Gel
                            * Nivea for Men Cool Kick Shower Gel

                            At £1 per bottle, Nivea for Men Sensitive Shower Gel gives very little away in the name and it isn't until after purchase that you realise it offers a 3 in 1 wash formula for an all over body wash.

                            Smooth on skin, largely sensitive and pain free for more drier skin conditions, Nivea have produced a winner in my opinion that has a subtle fresh scent and a long lasting appeal. Though the scent is fresh, it has a unisex appeal to it and despite its men's name in the title, it is definitely recommended as an all over wash with a cost effective price. Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2014.



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                            • More +
                              06.02.2014 01:59
                              Very helpful


                              • Reliability


                              A simple chopper attachment for the Kenwood Chef/Major and largely versatile and well made.

                              Following on from the experience of the citrus juicer attachment that I bought not so long ago for my Kenwood Chef table mixer, I was going through cupboards the other day when a spot of baking came upon me and found an old box of attachments I had clearly forgotten I had bought for my late mum - out popped the original Kenwood Chef beaters I was looking for as well as a couple of attachments including a grind and mill set by Kenwood suitable for their Chef and Major mixers. Since I had already had a coffee grinder, which is what I would have used for this set, anyway, there was never a need to use the attachment set and must have hidden it away with quite a few of the other gadgets my late parents used. I remember my dad used this mill attachment rather a lot when he was making spices and herbs.

                              When I bought this set in 2007, the attachment set cost me £20 brand new from Lakeland and good to see that this attachment set is still for sale, seven years later at a slightly elevated cost price of £24-99 to £30 dependent on stockist. These days, Lakeland have stopped selling a few Kenwood attachments but John Lewis and Currys both sell this attachment at £24-99.

                              Put simply, if you have room for a Kenwood Chef mixer, you will have room for the added accessories that you get as standard, if applicable, with certain Kenwood Chef models such as the liquidiser attachment. Known as the "High-Speed" outlet back in the day and before Kenwood ever made the "Titanium" flagship series of mixers, Kenwood have now renamed the standard outlet on the top of the mixer as "medium speed" since the newer Titanium models offer twin ports on top to enhance and differentiate the basic staple Chef models and the top of the range series.

                              Unlike the Citrus Juicer AT312, this attachment made by Kenwood is an universal fit design that can be used on all Chef and Major models. The promise from Kenwood clearly conveys the intentions of this handy set:

                              "The AT320A is designed to chop, mill, grind and blend in small quantities - making it ideal for preparing natural and healthy baby foods as well as spices and coffee..."

                              Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec

                              * Kenwood Grind/Mill AT320A Attachment.
                              * Suitable for ALL Chef and Major models.
                              * 75g total capacity per jar for use/15g herbs/60g coffee beans.
                              * Three extra jars included with screw on airtight plastic lids.
                              * Double blade fitted with screw on cap adapter to medium speed outlet.
                              * Size: 15cm by 10cm by 10cm diameter.
                              * General weight per jar & lid = 200g,
                              * My price in 2007: £20-00.
                              * Price in 2014 £24-99 Currys, £30 online.
                              * 1-year guarantee.

                              General Impressions & Design

                              Out of the box, you get the main mill attachment that has already been screwed and locked into a spare jar, with a spare screw plastic lid and three other glass jars with matching white lids. A small instruction leaflet is also enclosed to give you the basics of this set and how it all works.

                              Each glass jar looks the same and has a softened base with a mix of clear and frosted glass design that is both dishwasher safe and quite substantial enough to the touch. Luckily they each stand up on their own when required and the general impression to my mind is a well-made set for the cost price, here.

                              However if you own a Kenwood Chef and if you have used the liquidiser jug alone, then the usage and general design lends an air of familiarity, particularly when the adapter ring that holds the mill/grind jar in before it can be slid and locked into the top of the Kenwood Chef's medium speed outlet is exactly the same base unit that you will find on the base of the liquidiser jug. Kenwood have retained the rather excellent dimpled bases to make turning and locking easy.

                              The blade platform is a double blade made up of two wings that have been purposefully turned down and two that stick up. They mirror a similar design to the larger blades found on Kenwood's liquidiser - but make no mistake -this attachment only grinds, mills and chops - and you have to be very careful when handling this part of the set.

                              General Performance & Downsides

                              As an amateur cook for most basic things to being slightly more experienced with other recipes, I am not the world's greatest when it comes to chopping and slicing, manually. I can't abide slicing onions and I always manage to cut myself even when I take hard vegetables slowly. Give me red or green peppers to do and I'm just about ok!

                              My Tefal Fresh Express can only do so much too, and one aspect that it can't do is chop and grind, though it does an excellent job for shredding and slicing without being too noisy.

                              In an instant then, the best process of use with the Kenwood AT320A set is NOT to use the highest speed on the Kenwood Chef. Dependent on the model's high motor rating (mine is 800 watts) the first speed on the mixer is sufficient enough to get the blades turning at a reasonable speed. If your Kenwood Chef has a pulse action speed, you may feel inclined to using the pulse action, but on the basis that it automatically puts the machine at its highest speed, I wouldn't recommend this unless you want everything to turn into mush, such as pureed carrots.

                              Unlike the Citrus Juicer attachment, the beauty of the glass jars means that noise is kept to a minimum, even if doing harder food prep like grinding those coffee beans. The glass texture is thick and well made, it is impossible to have the material tainted either by colour or strongly scented foods too. I couldn't resist but try out some coffee beans (though I prefer the automatic decisions from my Tefal coffee grinder) and after a few whizzes; the Kenwood AT320A is excellent at turning coffee beans into powder within a few seconds. It is always good to know this vital information should my Tefal grinder fail at any time, in later life!

                              Thus, whilst this Kenwood attachment appears to work quite successfully, I experimented one day with a red onion following the decision to make homemade lasagne. Slicing the onion in two, I added one half onion to the open jar with two segments of garlic, fit the blade at the top of the mouth of the jar and screw the base adapter on, before sliding the entire jar and assembly onto the main medium speed outlet of my Kenwood Chef. The scenario for process before use is very familiar to the same process that needs to be carried out with Magic Bullet. The difference here is that there are three visible screw threads that are thickly made at the top of each jar, so once the blade and adapter ring are screwed on, there's no chance of any of the food leaking out when the jar is turned over and the motor pointing down.

                              Unlike moisture free coffee beans (okay, aside from some of their natural oils) chopping an onion, which has far more water content, produces some very surprising results. Just after turning the mixer on, I could see that most of the onion had not been chopped properly and unscrewed the jar from the mixer and physically shook the jar to dislodge the onion from the top. Back onto the Chef afterwards and blitzed a second time produced an amazing effect - each onion piece was cut to diced perfection whilst slivers of garlic had already been done for me.

                              Thus, although trial and error is required with this attachment, the AT320A is great at chopping onions, garlic, nuts, nutmeg parsley and all manner of herbs and hard vegetables as well as producing chunky salsa, but can turn to mush if you keep putting power through the blades all the time. I've been impressed with the amount of prep I've used so far.

                              The trick is to keep everything short in terms of adding power and to keep a free hand nearby to twist off the jar should the food in question get stuck. All the while through operation, there is no way you'll ever be able to danger or hurt yourself with this attachment as the goblet's blade will only turn if it has been locked in at the top of the Kenwood mixer.Try and unscrew the main jar on top of the mixer and the blade just falls out including the food prep - so the set isn't the type where you can try and trick it into damaging anything other than the food prep required to be chopped or ground down!

                              The design of the clear glass jars really helps me to keep an eye on the indication of the performance in general but at each set of the process some foods may require the jar to be taken off and shaken to dislodge the food if it sticks to the top of the jar and doesn't make contact the first time with the spinning blade. It only takes less than a minute for most food to be ground or milled with this handy grinder jar but it depends on the coarseness you want. Thus, the characteristic just comes down to the owner depending on the amount of time given to "blitz" through whatever you are doing and to keep an eye all the time on the goblet to see the consistency processed.

                              Once the food prep is done, the whole assembly just needs to be taken off by twisting the goblet to unlock from the Chef and turning the jar over so that the motor unit is now facing you. The inside of the jar is edge free, so it is easy to scoop out all food prep in one go (especially easy if you have Kenwood's own flexible food spatula) and here is where the fiddly part of this attachment occurs.

                              For cleaning, the double edge blade platform has to be taken off, which drops out of the adapter ring for cleaning. Though dishwasher safe, I tend to just clean the blades with a dish brush, hot water and a few suds. Then left to drip-dry before using again.

                              In reality, the blade platform with the screw on ring underneath is a bit fiddly but when laid out there are only 3 parts to this attachment and of course the blades are sharp, can't be removed and must be handled with caution. What I like about the Kenwood AT320A is the fact that I can grind up parmesan cheese and keep it in the same jar simply by swapping over the blade platform for an airtight plastic lid - thus, it offers simple storage of milled or ground up food for later use rather than using it there and then.

                              Once it becomes second nature, you'll end up turning the jars over and over if milling certain foods in one go for many processes for one cooking session, or if doing more than one prep in one go for storage later on. Swapping over the lids from the adapter ring is fairly easy and quick to do.

                              Throughout use, I am very impressed with this set but if there is one tiny downside, it is the lack of gradients on one of the jars that could be easier to rely on if baking or cooking and you need to be precise with your measurements.

                              Other Sorts & Final Thoughts

                              The only alternative or other sort of grinder/chopper/mill that Kenwood offers is in the form of their tiny "Delia Smith Cheat," mini food chopper gadget. Even if Kenwood make their smaller capacity Prospero kitchen mixer and has several cost optional attachments like a grinder or food processor jug, Kenwood have yet to develop a likewise mill attachment like the one here on the Chef.

                              Also a few years ago I did own a similar mini chopper from the Argos Value brand and though it stayed alive for two years, the plastic jug that held the small quantities of food eventually broke. Due to its then £12 asking price, it wasn't a big problem just buying another product to replace it, though I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't order a replacement goblet from Argos.

                              Kenwood still sell their rather excellent "CH-180" mini-chopper today and for twice the capacity than the AT320A's single jars offered at £14-99, this CH180 machine is great if you don't have space on your worktop for the bigger Kenwood Chef in general. However you lose out on the storage jar facility in an instant, only compromising by the cute shape and utterly micro dimensions that this little worktop gadget can provide.

                              If you own a Kenwood Chef or bigger capacity Major table mixer and require a mini chopper or just something to grind down herbs, coffee beans, the odd onion, preparation of salsa to even just doing a couple of cloves of garlic, the Kenwood AT320A Grind & Mill attachment is a great design and a cost effective product that does what it promises. Long lasting and fairly durable, this is a very professional and versatile set for milling and grinding small amounts of food.

                              Having a small chopper machine on the worktop doesn't justify itself if you already own this versatile kitchen food prep machine. Better made than most mini food choppers due to the long life glass storage jar design, this attachment is fairly versatile, easy to keep clean and taint free from colours running from natural foods to strong odour based foods. Thus, the glass alone and its extra storage lids extends the professionalism that a Kenwood Chef appliance merely exerts in every kitchen. Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2014.



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                              • More +
                                05.02.2014 19:48
                                Very helpful



                                A quality man's top that is practical, versatile, stylish, hard wearing and slightly unique.

                                Years ago when I was going shopping at our local sportswear shop in town that also doubles up as an outdoor clothing shop, I found a company of clothing for men that I haven't seen before. Known as "Weird Fish," the company are British by origin and were formed in 1993 and appear to produce a number of different outdoor clothing for men, women and children. I bought quite a few tops made by the Weird Fish company as I have discovered that their clothing is quite durable and well designed. Like so many clothing companies, Weird Fish also sell accessories from branded bags to wallets for both women and men and only a couple of months ago when summer arrived I had a few vouchers to spend where I bought a wallet and a T-shirt by this company.

                                The Product, The Price & The Promise

                                The "Macaroni Cruiser," is an odd name for what is essentially a heavy jumper garment with long sleeves. Durable and hardwearing with only a few downsides, the top is quite a well-made item that has a high price to buy but seems to be very popular amongst many "outdoorsy" types. Mind you, everything that this British company sell appears to have a high price because of the general design and quality that this "overly designed jumper" exudes. The article in question costs on average £49-50 to £65 dependent on stockist. I was so shocked at the initial "middle pricing" that my cruiser top cost at £55 that I promptly ended the shopping at the shop and went onto Weird Fish's own website for future purchases. The general promise from Weird Fish conveys what this garment offers:

                                "...Our iconic, 1/4 Zip Cruiser Macaroni is everyone's favourite in our textured trade-marked chunky knit Macaroni fabric, featuring fleece tipped cuffs, cotton drawstrings and completed with our Weird Fish chest branding - wear this one with pride, you know it will keep you warm and you know it will be your favourite Weird Fish top for any weather!"

                                General Impressions & Design

                                I bought my "China Blue Macaroni Classic Cruiser," jumper three years ago and it still looks and feels as good as new. I have two other "Weird Fish" jumpers that are very similar to the "Macaroni Classic Cruiser," but are made out of different materials and colours. Both are of the same age and they all exude a good design factor of being worn either with nothing else on top of them, or act as insulative over protective garments when the weather changes. In all cases though, Weird Fish are no stranger to coping with men "of bigger sizes," and their sweatshirts, T-shirts and this garment have sizes of small, medium, large, extra-large and 2XL sizes available.

                                The design of the Macaroni Cruiser "1/4 zip," mirrors a few rugby shirts for me in terms of its design because it is longer than most other jumpers and has a rather helpful pair of small slits up each side of the jumper to allow it to be tucked in comfortably. There is also a soft and thin fabric same colour "Macaroni" material collar that lacks stiffness, designed to be pulled tight by the twin cotton rope ties that emerge at the bottom of the collar and instead of collar buttons, you'll find a"1/4 zip" with a small emblem shaped ribbed fish shaped zip fob. The garment however is much longer than just a standard outdoors type jumper although it has as much as 73% cotton, 20% polyester and 7% viscose made up in the material mix. The garment is washable on a 30° wash and features the company label located on the top right hand side of the jumper if you are faced towards it/left chest company embroidery with white lettering on a navy background when it is worn.

                                Quality wise, the classic cruiser top is very well made with its "chunky knit," though it isn't wool and it isn't supposed to be wool, thus a little confusion can be caused early by the claim and assumption. However it is no surprise to find that the company's by-words "Keep it Rugged," on the collar label appear to have inspired fish bone embossed round flush studs that hold a pale blue and fish bone embossed hanging hole located externally on the back of the jumper. The material both inside and out however is quite soft with no feeling of rough stitching digging into me, that often a cheaper top can exude, even if the Macaroni finish is for the exterior side only. The cuffs are fleece tipped but they are of a tightly packed nature to ensure a smooth transition that seems to allow inner clothing to slip through rather than get stuck. It is a pity that the whole interior isn't fleece stitched, but you can't have everything all of the time!

                                General Performance & Downsides

                                Now that the weather has most definitely turned a lot colder, this is one of my favourite outdoor "jumpers" to wear. I choose to wear the macaroni classic cruiser top as an outer garment if I am going out during the day with a number of thinner wool sweaters or fleece underneath. Normally I don't tend to find that it is very warm alone without at least other garments to keep heat in, but this is not the top that is suited for a hot summer, despite the heavy cotton mix content.

                                My larger size is quite roomy helped along by the long sleeves and the slits up the side that allow me to wear other materials underneath. The fabric in general is non-static and very safe to wear. It seems to hold a good body too, whether it is tucked in or just allowed to flap about, even if the cloth is thicker than most jumpers.

                                Partly one of the reasons to why I love this garment so much is simply because it is fairly durable, versatile and practical and can retain some heat, though it lacks a fleece interior to fully absorb body heat and can't be worn over bare flesh; well, not unless you want to catch a chill! The difference here is that in use, although this garment is fairly heavy for what it brings to the table, this is more noticeable when carrying the garment, if say taking it with you if you need something a bit warmer when out and about.

                                However, I don't find that the material is draught proof, thus requiring another layer underneath whilst the collar, even when the ropes are pulled tightly, and the zip has been pulled up all the way on the collar, they fail to keep the wind out, thus either considering an outdoor "wind cheater" half scarf collar or wearing a scarf underneath.

                                The top is at least fashionable, modern and rather timeless due to its dark and sky blue colour and it is very easy to wear contrasting or coordinating colours. One bonus to its design is that the material does appear to lend itself as having a rather "crush proof" nature, possibly down the thick looped design of the macaroni material. Though not waterproof, I have been caught out once or twice in the rain with this top on and it allows some degree of the lightest of rain water to brush off, though I have also had the unfortunate appearance of being a drowned rat when caught in a full rain storm and the garment appears to absorb water far more quickly.

                                Last year however I ended up removing the tie ropes near the collar because I didn't like them and they would often fall into food if I was eating at the table, either out or at home. As such, although the lack of ropes tend to give the open collar design more of a laid back look, the zip fully closes the collar sides up to form a short polo neck style without ropes getting in the way. The zip also has a superb and excellent action with no feeling either visible or during its pull mechanism, that at any time will it fail.

                                One downside to this product that I feel necessary to point out is the wash instructions. They show that the top cannot be ironed, requires a low wash program and it cannot be tumble dried - it is a pity then that my top has always been tumble dried and remains to be beautifully crush proof when it is taken out of the machine. I have dried it over radiators before but it takes an age to dry out compared electric means. When the top has been put into a wash program, it hasn't always had the specified 30° washes - and a higher 40° temperature doesn't allow the colours to run off.

                                Other Sorts & Final Thoughts

                                There are three other different colours of the "Macaroni Cruiser," available such as "Olive Night," "Oxblood Red," and "Ecru," which is like a creamy, white colour and more helpfully, there are other similar items available for women, with no less than 23 different "Macaroni," branded tops. For 2014, darker green colours are also appearing online, although it would appear that www.jacamo.co.uk seem to stock the largest ranges from Small to 2XL.

                                In general then, I am very pleased with the "Macaroni Classic Cruiser," by Weird Fish. Practical, hard wearing, durable and above all purposeful, it is an ideal piece of outdoor clothing that I enjoy wearing all year around, even if in the summer I choose to wear it indoors rather than out. It isn't a product that will appeal to all men, but it is worth the cost price if you buy direct from the website and avoid heavily marked up stockists. It isn't as "all weather proof," as the manufacturer would like to claim though and requires an extra item of clothing if the jumper can be relied upon for extra warmth - but the high price justifies the quality, durability and main design, regardless. Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2014.



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