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Although my current workplace has a uniform unfortunately if you are anything other than a medium
or large size guy you can be pretty sure that none of it will even vaguely fit. As a skinny size 10 female
most of the polo tops look like I've borrowed them from the local rugby team and the jacket has plenty
of room to fit me and a party for a few close friends.
As I have no choice but to wear the polo top I tend to wear a hoody or fleece over it in the colder
months instead of the huge company branded jacket but I have to stick to plain colours and minimum
branding to keep the management happy. After wrecking several expensive hooded tops I decided
to buy a few cheap ones for work.
The New Look hooded tops come in several different colours including navy, khaki, pink, royal blue,
deep red, grey, mint green, bottle green,, turquoise and Coral and cost £14.99 each from New Look stores or online at newlook.com. I ended up buying 3 of these over the last couple of months so
now own a deep red, a royal blue and a navy one.
The New Look hooded tops are zip through jacket style with a white zip and white drawstring ties
at the neck for tightening the hood. The tops are made from 100% cotton and have a stretchy
ribbed band at the bottom of the jacket and stretchy material is used for the cuffs.
The material isn't as thick or as warm as some of the hooded tops I've owned but they are warm
enough to wear over a top in spring or autumn and light enough to wear under a jacket in winter
as they aren't too bulky. Although the tops aren't really fitted they do have a slim fit so you don't
look completely shapeless or look like you've borrowed a hoody from your boyfriend or hubby.
I wear these regularly for work but they are also great for casual wear or throwing on after a
run or a swim. So far the tops have lasted well although because they are cotton the two darker
colours have faded slightly due to being constantly washed and tumble dried but they still look
pretty good and there's no sign of fraying or any stitching coming undone.
Overall I'm really pleased with these New Look hooded tops and at the current price of £14.99
they're a bargain.
Sitting in a hospital A&E department last year I was informed that my badly bruised and now swollen
to 3 times its normal size ankle wasn't broken unfortunately according to the doctor I would have
been better off if I had broken it. Instead I had torn the ligaments so badly that they had pulled
away a piece of bone which was now sitting like the missing piece of a jigsaw away from the now
jagged edge it had originally been attached to and the ligament damage would take longer to heal
than a clean break.
As I'm self employed no work means no money so I was determined to get back to work as soon
as possible. Although my physiotherapist didn't agree with the idea as my job is pretty physical
he did recommend the McDavid Ankle X Brace would be a good choice to prevent me doing more
damage but still allowing enough movement for me to carry out my job and slowly build up the
strength n my ankle.
The McDavid Ankle X Brace comes in two parts the first is a neoprene wrap that you place your
foot in then adjust to fit with 2 straps with velcro on the end to secure it in place. One strap fastens around your ankle and the other just under your calf. Thankfully due to the area around your ankle
being open until you fasten the straps you don't have to pull the support over your injury like you do with other sports supports I've tried in the past which leave you in agony before you even get them
on. The neoprene part has a padded circle on either side where your ankle bones are for added
protection and even on its own feels very supportive, provides compression to the injury and is comfortable to wear without being too bulky.
The second part is the brace itself which is worn over the neoprene support. This upper part of the
brace consists of 2 sturdy solid plastic parts which reach from your ankle bone to just under your
calf on either side of your leg and are attached by a cuff with a pivot point at the back of your leg
and fastened with a wide velcro strap at the front. The upper part is attached by pivot points at the
ankle joints to the thinner flexible plastic baseplate which sits under your foot. Due to the fact the
brace is pivoted it allows your ankle to move naturally in an up and down motion but prevents it from rolling sideways which is the cause of ankle sprains and ligament damage. The brace measures
7 inches from the bottom of the foot plate to the top of the brace and the foot plate measures 4.1
inches from the heel to the front.
I was initially worried that this would be uncomfortable to wear due to the plastic base plate that
fits under your foot and reaches from your heel to under the arch of your foot. Thankfully this
wasn't a problem as the foot plate is thin and flexible and the neoprene support provides enough
padding that you don't even feel the plastic brace through it. After 2 days wearing the brace I
can truthfully say it is so lightweight and comfortable I hardly noticed it was there and although I
found it slightly too bulky to wear with boots there was no probem or discomfort wearing it with
any of my trainers or flat shoes.
The best thing about the McDavid Ankle X Brace is that it still allows the natural movement of your
ankle. Many of the ankle supports I've tried in the past work by holding your ankle rigidly in place
but although this might prevent injury it restricts movement which won't help regain the strength
and flexibility in the injured ankle. Neoprene supports and tube type bandages do provide support
but will still allow your ankle to roll inwards or outwards where as the McDavid X Brace allows your
ankle to move correctly to allow normal walking but the plastic brace acts as a splint to prevent
your ankle from rolling inwards or outwards.
I used the McDavid X Brace every day at work for over 3 months and still wear it regularly if I'm
running or doing any sports that might lead to an ankle injury. Due to this and previous ankle
injuries my ankle will always be prone to going over so I'd rather prevent the problem now rather
than waiting for it to happen then trying to fix it. Both parts of the brace have stood up well the
plastic brace is still in perfect condition and the neoprene part hasn't frayed or become bobbly
despite being chucked in the washing machine regularly and worn frequently.
Thanks to the McDavid X Brace I was able to go back to work after 3 weeks rather than the 6-12
weeks pedicted by my doctor and physio. Although I admit I was still in agony at least I knew that
despite the pain my ankle was well protected and I was unlikely to cause further damage. Also
because my ankle was getting used I regained the strength and flexibility quicker than if I had
sat at home with my foot up doing nothing for weeks waiting for the pain to go away. Although
this worked for me I really wouldn't recommend my plan of action unless you have absolutely no
choice,a higher degree in stupidity and an endless supply of really strong painkillers to go with it.
The McDavid X Brace costs around £50 which might seem expensive compared to a cheap sports
support but for anyone with a current ankle ligament injury or a weakness due to a previous
injury I'd say this is more than worth the initial outlay. The brace comes in 2 sizes small to medium
fits UK6-9 and large fits UK9-14 shoes sizes.
I bought the Cowon Iaudio 10 to replace my old Creative Zen which had tottered off to the MP3
player scrapheap with a broken screen.. My main reason for choosing the Cowon was due to the
fact that Cowon have always had a great reputation for sound quality although this was also helped
along by the fact it was on offer at the time and my friend got staff discount at the shop so it cost
me £65 instead of £95.
The Cowon Iaudio 10 looks pretty good and seems to be well made. Like many brands these days
they have gone for something that looks more than a little bit like an Ipod or Iphone.but they've
kept it different enough to avoid the inevitable lawsuit from Apple. I'm still wondering how Cowon
have got away with the Iaudio name given Apples slightly over zealous protection of their brand. I
can only imagine in years to come kids alphabet charts will read A is for Apple © and I is for Ipod ©
(copyright and registered trademark of Apple) rather than I is for Igloo.
The device sits nicely in your hand and has a curved back with a rubberised coating so it doesn't slide
out of your hand when you're using it. Based on my highly technical measuring equipment consisting
of a kids ruler and the kitchen scales the Cowon measures 54mm x 114mm x 7mm and weighs around 75gm. More importantly it fits easily in your jeans or jacket pocket and doesn't feel like you're carrying
a brick around with you. The Cowon has a claimed playback time of around 38hrs music or 6.5hrs
video although I've never tested this the player easily lasts all day without charging even though I
use it constantly through earphones or through my car stereo.
Cowon have avoided going down the full touchscreen route with the Iaudio 10 so the front of the
device is taken up with a 3" TFT LCD 400 x 260 resolution screen with a 7 key touchpad underneath
to navigate the menus. The touchpad navigation takes a bit of getting used to and is sometimes
prone to not responding to the first touch then suddenly jumping back or forward 2 steps when you
try again. Although you do get used to this and it isn't a huge or constant problem the navigation
on the Cowon just isn't as slick to operate as other devices I've tried.
The screen is clear and easy to read for navigating the menu or displaying album covers and you
can also use something Cowon have called colour therapty to personalise the background and text colour on the screen. The Iaudio 10 can also be used for viewing pictures or watching videos but in reality very few people are going to bother watching videos or viewing pictures on the Cowons 3"
TFT screen if they have a smart phone in the other pocket with a 5" amoled screen. The device can
also be used to store and read text files so you can also use it as a portable storage device instead
of a pen drive.
The sound quality is excellent but only if you lose the stock earphones and use a decent set. When
I tried the supplied earphones the sound was very flat and almost muffled with very little definition. When played through my Sennheiser earphones the difference was unbelievable with clear mid and
highs and deep defined bass tones allowing you to clearly define the different parts of the track
without any frequency over powering the rest. You can tailor the sound to suit your taste using the
5 band equaliser and 39 preset options including 4 user defined preset options.
The onboard speaker is more of a gimmick than anything useful it gives a rather flat slightly tinny
sound that's ok to let hear someone hear a quick preview of a track or maybe for video playback
but that's about it. The speaker isn't loud enough for background music in a room and the sound
distorts at high volumes. Also due to the fact it is on the back of the unit it is affected by the surface
you place it on so too much vibration on hard surfaces and muffled on soft surfaces. If you want to
play this out loud you really need to buy a decent set of portable speakers to get the best from it.
The Cowon Iaudio 10 supports most file types including MP3, OGG, APE, FLAC and WAV. Thankfully
there's no need to install any software to transfer files to the player or arrange playlists. The Iaudio
just shows up as an external device when connected to your PC allowing you to easily drag and
drop files from your PC directly onto the player. Sadly there's no memory card slot so you can't add
an SD card for additional storage if you are running out of space but the player does come in 4 sizes 4gb, 8gb, 16gb and 32gb so it's best to pick one of the higher ones if you want to store lot of music.
Mine is the 16gb version which will hold roughly 4000 tracks depending on the length of the tracks
and the type of files.
One of the things I really like about this player is the ability to use it for line in recording which allows
you to record directly to the device. Although you do need to buy an additional jack to jack cable for
this it's a great way to transfer music from vinyl or cassette without buying expensive equipment.
The line in feature is also fantastic for any musician who wants to playback their practice sessions
as you can record directly from your amplifier. There's also a voice recorder mic which is handy for
taking down instructions,numbers and addresses if you don't have a pen handy.
If you want a device that has loads of features such as games, wifi, apps etc you're probably better
off looking at the Samsung Galaxy player or Ipod Touch which seem to do everything a smart phone
does apart from take calls. The Cowon lacks the gimmicks and toys but it makes up for that with
fantastic sound quality so if it's a music device you want I'd say the Cowon Iaudio 10 is worth a
look. Sadly I would say it could do with a price drop as at the current price of around £95 for the
16gb and £120 for the 32gb most people will overlook it and pay the extra £20 for the extra features
of an Ipod or Galaxy player.
After years of skiing and snowboarding I've owned lost and broken too many pairs of goggles to
count and one of the problems I found when buying replacements is many goggles are too wide for
my slim face. Although many manufacturers do girl specific goggles there's also a tendency to aim towards pale baby pink and blue which due to my whiter than white complexion make me look like
Casper the friendly ghost on heroin while the normal wide adult goggles leave me looking like an
extra from A Bugs Life.
Now this shouldn't be about fashion but I do prefer stronger bright colours so after years of buying
kids goggles or putting up with pale pastel pink I was happy to discover 2 brands who had a good
range of goggles for slim faces in a wide range of colours namely the Electric EG5 and the Dragon
DXS I am reviewing here.
The Dragon DXS is a scaled down version of the Dragon DX goggles with all the same features in
a slimmer design which is ideal for girls, teens or guys with slimmer faces. The goggles come in
a wide range of colours from plain and muted to loud multicoloured options so there's something
to suit most peoples tastes. The goggles come with a drawstring pouch to keep them clean and
scratch free although I'd also advise buying a goggle case if you intend keeping them in your
backpack or board bag.
The goggles come with a choice of lenses and the last couple of pairs I've owned have also come
with a spare amber lens which is handy if you damage your lens or conditions change and your
original lens isn't the best for the conditions on the day. The lenses are easy to change although
I rarely bother you just pull the frame apart slightly and pull out the old lens then clip the new one
in after a few tries this can be done in a couple of minutes but the first attempt took me a bit
longer due to fear of damaging the frame or lenses.
Both the strap and lens for the DXS can be replaced if you damage them or just fancy a colour
change sadly with prices ranging from £10-£20 for a strap or plain tinted lens and around £25-£40
for ionized mirror lenses you might be as well buying a new pair. All of the dragon lenses have 100%
UV protection and are anti fog my current pair have a blue Ionized lens which I've found to be a good
all round lens in most conditions. The blue Ionized lens is dark enough in all but the brightest sunlight
but not so dark you can't see where you are going on duller flat days although switching to the amber lens on dark, dull or foggy days would give better definition I rarely bother to change them.
The frames are made from polyurethane and have a dual foam layer with micro fleece lining against
your skin. The strap is wide enough to be comfortable, easy to adjust and is also helmet compatible.
I find the goggles lightweight and comfortable to wear for long periods and in my personal
experience have never had a problem with them fogging up even on the worst days on the slopes.
The goggles frames are flexible and with the foam layer provides enough to padding to prevent
damage to the goggles or injury to yourself if you decide it's a good idea to faceplant the snow.
The Dragon DXS cost around £30-£40 for the plain tint lens goggles and around £55-£80 for the
Ionized or mirror lens goggles from the current range. There are plenty of bargains to be had on
previous seasons models my current pair with the Ionized lens cost me £30 last year due to being
old stock so it's definitely worth shopping around before you buy.
I've owned several snowboards over the ten years I've been snowboarding and the Atomic Hatchet
is one I would happily recommend to anyone looking for a good board at a reasonable price.
The Hatchet was the board that launched ski manufacturer Atomic into the snowboarding world with
a bang quickly gaining respect among the snowboarders who had largely ignored attempts by other
ski brands to break into the snowboard market. The fact that the Atomic team were riding the Hatchet
straight off the shelf says something about how good this board is as I never seen any of the Burton
K2 or Palmer team riders on a £200 quid board at the time.
The original Hatchet came with great specs and a bargain price of around £200 at a time when many snowboard brands were charging £300 upwards for low to mid range boards. The Hatchet could be
found as low as £120 if like me you waited for an end of season sale which is an amazing price for
a good quality board with sandwich construction,poplar core and a sintered 7200 base usually only
found on boards costing twice as much at the time.
The hatchet is a twin tip with a centred stance which means both the tail and tip are the same to
facilitate riding switch (backwards) and switch landings riding kickers or rails in the park. The Hatchet
also has a 2.5 degree edge bevel which helps prevent accidentally catching an edge on rails or slightly mistimed landings.The flex is on the forgiving soft side which is great for take offs, landings, ollies and manuals but there's plenty of pop to get you airborne off kickers and onto rails with ease.
Although the board is marketed as an as an all mountain freestyle board the freestyle bias means
it's never going to excel at charging down the slopes at speed but if that's all you want you should
probably be looking at a stiffer freeride board. In a perfect world we'd all have a board for the park
and kickers and a separate board for high speed fun and powder but in reality most of us have to
make the choice of one board for everything.
While I wouldn't say it excels at speed in the days when it was my only board I've happily ridden the Hatchet all over the mountain and it's only when you really push it that it's slightly jittery at speed on piste runs. As I purposely bought mine at a shortish length for mainly park, on piste and using at an indoor snow centre I don't really expect it to be perfect at speed or in powder but while it's not perfect
it can still cope happily with being ridden in most situations.
The Hatchet is a great board for intermediate riders who want a board for freestyle that can also cope
with days all over the mountain but it's also an ideal choice for beginners looking for their first board.
The softish flex and twin shape make for a forgiving ride that's easy to turn and learn the basics but
still has plenty to offer when you're ready to progress so you won't outgrow it in a few weeks unlike
many of the beginner boards out there. My original Hatchet board was an 06 model which was the
camber type board the latest 2012 boards now have a rocker which should make it even easier for
new riders to get the hang of turns without catching an edge and ending up flat on their face or bum.
Due to the sintered base the board has to be waxed regularly but sintered bases run faster on snow
and tend to be lighter and more durable than the extruded bases. The downside of this is if you
do damage it they are supposedly more difficult to repair than an extruded base and if you don't wax
it regularly it will run a lot slower than an unwaxed extruded base due to the porous surface.
The graphics on the Hatchet have always been a bit dark and gothic with a tendency to feature
skulls which obviously doesn't appeal to everyone. Although the grraphics aren't really to my taste
I love the way the board rides and I can't say I spend any time looking at the graphics when I'm
riding it. For any girls who like the Hatchet but can't live with the skulls Atomic introduced a girls
version called the Fallen Angel complete with slightly less skull ridden graphics and a slightly softer
flex but still retaining the great ride characteristics and features of the Hatchet.
My original Hatchet stayed with me for 3 years during which it was used in parks, on piste and at the
local indoor snow slope. In that time the board lasted well and only required a couple of minor repairs
to the base due to hitting rocks under the snow at the end of the season. The board was serviced
regularly and the base and edges were still in reasonable condition and although it wasn't quite as springy as it was when new the board still had a bit of pop left when I gave it away to a friends son
to learn on and promptly bought another Hatchet to replace it.
The Hatchet comes in various sizes from 145 - 159 and includes wide versions of the 156 and 159
to accommodate those of you with boats masquerading as feet that would hang over the ends on
the standard boards.
For anyone buying their first board you should base the decision on length according to weight
rather than height. Although hire shops tend to use the theory that the length of the board comes
up to somewhere between your chin and nose this is mainly to get through as many hirers in a
short space of time so they can to keep the queues down. A rider weighing 8 stone will probably
struggle to flex a board designed for a rider weighing 14 stone like wise a heavy rider will flatten
the camber in a board designed for someone weighing 8 stone. Every board manufacturer has
different weight ranges for their boards so a rider who is 60kg might be fine for a 151 board in
one range but too heavy for a 151 in another. If you spend most of your time in the park or
playing on rails a shorter board is generally easier to handle for spins and tricks while a slightly
longer board is better for stability at speed.
The most recent suggested weight ranges I could find for the Atomic Hatchet are
The Atomic Hatchet currently costs around £180 - £200 for the latest model although shopping
around can save a fortune with previous seasons boards available for as little as £120 online.
I bought the Citizen Eco Drive Ladies Dive watch around 18 months ago my main reason for buying
it was for watersports use including diving and surfing so I needed a watch that could survive both as
well as being usable for day to day use.
The great thing about this watch is the fact it doesn't require batteries. While replacing the batteries
in a normal watch only costs around £5 if you require the watch to be waterproof for swimming or
sports such as diving or surfing when the battery is changed the watch has to be sealed correctly and then pressure tested to ensure that the watch is still waterproof to the manufacturers specified level.
In the past I've paid anything up to £25 to get a battery replaced which is still better than having an
expensive watch flood but works out rather costly over a few years and if you get a dud battery that
only lasts a few months £25 is daylight robbery.
The Citizen Eco Drive works by harnessing the power of any light source and converting it into
energy which is then stored in the Eco Drive Cell. This means that the watch recharges it's power constantly even in artificial light so there's no need for bright sunlight and thankfully no requirement
for keeping your arm out a window half the day to keep it charged as it will continually charge even
if it's only exposed to electric light. According to Citizen he Eco Drive Cell should easily last lore than
10 years and even at 20 years most will retain 80% of their original charging capacity.
The watch has a 300 metre/30 ATM or Bar rating which makes it suitable for scuba diving use
unlike so many dive styled watches that aren't even really suitable for swimming with thanks to
the confusing ratings given to watches. I was surprised to learn that the minimum rating you should
consider for swimming is 50 metre 5 ATM but ideally 100 Metre or 10 ATM and anything lower than
50 metres should be considered as okay for accidental contact with water but not prolonged use.
200 metre or 20 ATM rated watches with a screw down back and crown are apparently the
minimum you should consider for scuba diving at recreational depths. Obviously the water ratings
mean nothing if the seal gets damaged or you forget to lock the crown down before getting in the
water and as with any dive equipment it's a good idea to get the watch serviced and pressure
tested to ensure the seals are still in good condition and the watch remains water proof at the
My Eco Drive watch is designed for dive use so comes with a one way rotating bezel. The bezel is
a handy feature as it acts as a back up safety device if used correctly. By pointing the bezel to the
position of the minute hand when you begin your dive you can tell instantly how long you have
been under the water and by planning your dives beforehand according to the no decompression
limits you know how long you can safely stay at that depth without risking decompression sickness
before beginning your ascent to the surface. The bezel only moves in one way so if it is accidentally
knocked during a dive it will show more time has elapsed so the diver will begin the ascent early
rather than too late.
The watch also features a clear easy to read dial with chunky illuminated hands and markers that
show up clearly in daylight,darkness and underwater. The fact that the watch has a second hand
means you can tell at a glance if the watch isn't working and also informs you if the Eco Drive is
running short on charge by jumping in 2 second intervals although the watch stays at the correct
time and the second hand returns to normal after exposing the watch to light for a while. This has
happened occasionally in winter where I've constantly had my jacket or jumper sleeve covering the
If the watch looses time due to lack of charge the second hand will move in irregular intervals moving
forward 1 step back 1 step then jumping forward 2 so you know you need to reset the watch and
expose it to light. I've only seen this happen once and that was after accidentally leaving the watch behind in a box when I went on holiday. The watch also has a stainless steel case and a non reflective
crystal glass face which has so far remained scratch free despite constant use.
The black chunky strap is made from a polyurethane material and has a sturdy buckle fastening.
After 18 months of constant (usually daily) wear the strap is still in good condition with no signs of damage apart from the ND limits that were printed on it have started to wear off although they
were too small to read anyway. The strap is long enough for me to wear under or over a wetsuit
sleeve but my wrists are really slim so people with thicker wrists might struggle to fasten it over
their wetsuit sleeve.
The look of the watch is something I'm divided on although it's a lot slimmer than the guys version
and is a nice looking watch but the black strap and black face and bezel with stainless steel casing
makes it look slightly boyish. To be fair most dive watches with the exception of the Momentum one
I previously owned seem to be much the same and designed for purpose rather than having pretty
or funky designs. I really shouldn't complain about the looks as it perfectly serves the purpose I
bought it for and I have several dress watches that serve the pretty function for nights out etc.
In the time I have owned this it has been used constantly,been exposed to salt water,sand,snow,
mud, knocks and everything else my sports or daily life throw at it and has survived all unscathed
and still in perfect time. Due to this my boyfriend thinks it's hilarious that I take it off to have a bath
or to wash the dishes but the hot water or soap can damage the seals on a watch so although the
watch can more than cope with the depth levels if I decide to go snorkelling in my bath to get a closer
look at the rubber ducks it's safer to take it off. I also make sure the watch is rinsed off in water after
any diving or surfing to get rid of any salt water or sand that might affect the seals.
Overall it's a fantastic watch that I would happily recommend to any diver or watersports fanatic
The Citizen Eco Drive currently costs between £135 and £160 and comes with a 5 year manufacturers
My boyfriend was doing the weekly shop while I was ill and decided to buy the Flash Spray Cleaner
With Bleach as it was on special offer for £1 at the time. I have to admit it wouldn't have been my
first choice of cleaner as I hate the smell of bleach but since it was there I decided I may as well
The cleaner comes in a white 500ml plastic bottle with a trigger spray and is suitable for use on
hard surfaces such as cooker tops, work tops, tiles and enamel baths etc. Obviously because of
the bleach content you have to be careful what you use it on so it's not really a one spray to do
it all so it's best avoiding textiles, varnished wood,painted pitted or scratched surfaces to name
As always it's a cleaning product and there are safety rules to be followed so don't drink the
stuff or let your kids drink the stuff, avoid prolonged contact with your skin and don't spray it in
your eyes. Due to the bleach it's also best to use in a well ventilated room and avoid getting any
on your clothes as it strips the colour out leaving your clothes with bleached out splash marks.
To use the cleaner you spray directly onto the surface then wipe it with a dry or damp cloth.
When you spray this the product comes out in a foamy splodge rather than a fine mist of liquid
so you can see it clearly against most surfaces.I found that this definitely works better than my
usual all surface cleaner for cleaning the tiles in my kitchen which get greasy and splashed from
cooking. Using this required a lot less effort to get the tiles back to clean and shiny and it also
worked well on my enamel shower base and the tiles around the shower.
The label claims that this has a fresh smell but in my opinion it just smells strongly of bleach and
nothing else which is obviously not a great thing for someone like me who hates the smell of the
stuff and I find this does linger for a good while after you've finished cleaning. Even when using
this in a well ventilated room the bleach fumes were catching in my throat and making me cough
but I've always found that bleach products affect me this way and tend to avoid using them
because of this.
Overall the Flash Spray with Bleach is a good cleaning product and something I will probably buy
again if only to tackle the kitchen tiles but for most other tasks I'll stick to my all in one cleaners
to avoid the bleach smell. The Flash Spray With Bleach usually costs around £2 but is currently
on offer at Sainsbury's for £1.
We get continual problems with slow draining water in our bathroom sink and shower mainly due to
my long hair finding it's way down the plughole and slowly building up in the pipe. After finding the
water was once again starting to drain slowly in our shower I bought the Mr Muscle Drain Gel in the
hope of clearing the blockage before the drain ended up blocked completely.
The Mr Muscle comes in a bright orange plastic container which contains 500ml of the product
according to the instructions for blockages or slow draining water you should use the entire bottle
and leave for 15 minutes or for severe blockages you can leave it in the drain overnight and then
pour hot water from the tap to rinse it away. Mr Muscle claims to sink through any standing water
in the drain to get to the source of the blockage so it should work on drains that are completely
blocked as well as slow draining water. The gel is also suitable for regularly treating drains to
prevent blockages occurring in the first place for this you are advised to use 250ml instead of the
As always the usual safety instructions of do not drink, keep out of reach of children, and rinse with
water immediately if any of the product comes into contact with your skin or eyes. We're also told to
be careful not to let the product splash or squeeze the bottle while pouring it and not to use on gold plated fittings or to use a plunger on the drain. The bottle comes with a child safety cap which is handy
as the brightly coloured bottle might prove attractive to kids.
My big mistake was only leaving this for half an hour thinking that would be long enough to clear the
drain as it usually does with my usual brand of drain cleaner. After half an hour I poured hot water
down the drain but despite a slight improvement the drain was still draining slowly so I ended up
back at the shop to buy another bottle. This time I left the gel to work in the drain overnight and
rinsed the drain in the morning after which the drain was flowing normally again.
Overall although this does work I don't feel it works as fast as the Buster Bathroom Plughole
Unblocker that I've used frequently in the past. The Mr Muscle drain gel is available from most
supermarkets and currently costs around £3 from for a 500ml bottle,
Although I never wear gloves for washing up or general cleaning I do like to use them for the messier
jobs that I probably couldn't face without them such as cleaning the oven or worse still having to clean
up after my dog or cat if they've been sick. I also use rubber gloves when I'm decorating as although I enjoy decorating I hate getting my hands covered in paint.
Having previously spent £1-£2 per pair on rubber gloves I didn't really hold out much hope for these
Sainsbury's Basics gloves which cost just 53p for 2 pairs but as I was trying to save some cash on the
weekly shop I decided to give them a try. The gloves come in typical Sainsbury's Basics packaging with
a clear plastic wrapper and orange writing which tells us that these gloves are thinner but still as
handy. Like most gloves of this type these do contain latex which could cause skin problems if you
are allergic to it.
The packet contains 2 pairs of bright yellow gloves mine are medium in size and although I'm
guessing there are other sizes available our store only ever seems to have these in medium either
that or someone else is stocking up by buying all the large. The medium is a good fit on my smallish hands but because the gloves are pretty stretchy my boyfriend has managed to fit his hands in them
without the gloves splitting.
The gloves are definitely thinner than Marigolds or the other more expensive brands but I actually
prefer this as you get more feel through the gloves which is handy for things like painting but the
gloves are still thick enough to protect your hands from whatever you are doing.. Even though the
gloves are thin I've never had a problem with them splitting and they seem to last quite well no
matter what I've used them for and even when they are wet they have enough grip to stop stuff
from slipping from your hands.
Overall I'm impressed with these Basics gloves and at 53 pence for 2 pairs I really cant see myself
going back to buying the premium brands when these do the same job for a quarter of the price.
A while ago we were adopted by a cat who went from occasionally popping in for a visit before
deciding he was staying and we could like it or lump it! Like most humans we do not own this cat
rather we are owned by him but none the less we've slowly become quite attached to this ball of
purrs, fluff, teeth and claws.
After commandeering a spot on the couch and refusing to move (if you move him he sits on top of
you complete with 4 sets of claws digging in and head buts you till you give in) Likewise if you steal
his spot in front of the fire he'll just lie on top of you and he isn't the smallest cat in the world. We
decided maybe we should buy him a bed of his own in the hope of occasionally getting the couch
We had noticed that our cat loves cardboard boxes although it would seem his main intent is not
to sleep in them preferring instead to use a box as a base for launching ninja attacks on any poor
unsuspecting person or dog that touches the box. After he moved himself into a crisp box and
actually slept in it when I came across the Trixie Minou Cat Cave I thought he would like it and
at least it would look slightly better than a Walkers crisp box in my lounge.
The Minou Cat Cave is an igloo type cat bed which is oval in shape with a round opening for the cat
to climb through. The cave is covered in a furry plush material with fluffy fur around the entrance and
a soft furry interior with a plush cushion inside which is removable and can be hand washed. Ours is
the brown and beige colour pictured above but it's also available in other colours including blue or
pink and some patterned ones such as snow leopard or giraffe.
The Minou Cat Cave looks really cozy and looks ideal for giving your pet a little hiding place to sleep
or just to escape the busy lifestyle of a cat which seems to involve play, eat, sleep repeat! The cat
cave is also suitable for small dogs although it might give them a complex if you tell them it's a cat
bed! When the Cat Cave arrived it was a little on the flat side but plumped up nicely into shape
ready for testing by it's new owner.
Sadly despite my high hopes our cat did not really share my enthusiasm for his new bed after
sniffing around it and poking his head inside he wandered off and went to sleep on the couch. The
next day I put a couple of treats in the cat cave to entice him but all he did was go in get the treats
and came straight back out again and the same happened when I put his catnip toy inside. After a
week of ignoring the cat cave we eventually had a breakthrough and came downstairs to find our
beloved furball lying curled up asleep on top of the now slightly squashed cat cave with a rather
smug look on his face.
To it's credit the cat cave does plump up into shape again and maybe as it gets colder our cat will
actually use it the way it's meant to be used but for now jumping on it and moving about til it
flattens down a bit is as close as he gets. Our cat is also rather fond of attacking the fluffy fur
around the entrance which has remained intact despite his best efforts at eating and clawing it.
The Cat cave comes in 2 sizes either 35 × 26 × 41 cm or the larger 41 × 30 × 50 cm I chose the
larger one as although our cat isn't fat he is huge compared to most cats I've seen and resembles
a small dog in size. The large Cat Cave is easily big enough to accommodate him should he ever
choose to actually go inside it and would probably be big enough for 2 average sized cats.
Overall the Cat Cave has been some success although if there is an empty box in his presence
our cat will choose that every time so basically I could have saved myself a fortune and left him
with his crisp box or commandeering the couch or fireplace which he still does anyway. My friend
bought the same bed for her cat and he loves it so I'm beginning to think that my cat is either
snobby and thinks a cat bed is beneath him (which it usually is after he flattens it)or he's too
thick to realise it's a bed and he's meant to sleep in it not on it.
The Trixie Cat Cave is available from many larger pet stores and also from Amazon and Ebay with
prices ranging from £18-£25 for the smaller one to £23-£30 for the large size.
At 6 years old one of my nephews has just discovered the joy of Lego so when he stayed with
us recently due to his little brother being in hospital I ended up buying him 2 of the Lego creator
packs which were on offer at the local supermarket at 2 for £7 to help cheer him up.
We chose 2 packs a mini racer set and the mini fire rescue set each of the sets come in a plastic
case with instructions for making 3 models and are suitable for 6-12 years old although I know at
least one 35 year old who thinks that age range should be extended. The mini fire rescue set
comes with 69 pieces and lets you build a fire truck, a helicopter and a 4x4 fire car although you
can only build one model at a time.
The instructions are clear and easy to follow with step by step pictures so even younger kids should
be able to build the models with minimal help. Although some of the parts are small and a bit fiddly to
fit Calum managed to build the three models by himself and spent the afternoon playing with each
model for a while before moving on to building the next one. After building all the models he started joining bits together from the 2 mini sets to build bigger and stranger vehicles with a little help from
my boyfriends son.
The models are small at around 2.5 to 3 inches long but they have some nice details including clear
blue and orange bricks which act as lights, clear tinted panels for windows, a ladder that rotates on
top of the fire truck and moving blades on the helicopter. As always the best thing about any Lego
set is the fact that the parts can be used to build something else and used with parts from other
sets when the child gets bored of the original model so the possibilities are endless when matched
with a kids imagination.
One of the great things about these sets is they come in a plastic case rather than a box so it can
be used to store the pieces together and it's also handy for the kids to take with them on holiday
or to keep them amused when visiting relatives etc. Sadly the case isn't big enough to store the
models without taking them apart slightly but it's still a lot better than a cardboard box that falls
apart after a week.
Calum loved these sets and has since added another couple to his collection. His mum thinks he
actually prefers these little sets to the bigger ones they've bought him mainly due to the fact he
can build them himself whereas some of the bigger sets are slightly too complicated for him to
build without help from mum or dad. Calums only complaint about the mini Creator sets is they
don't come with a Lego figure and I have to agree it would be nice if there was one figure
included with the set.
The Lego Mini Creator sets cost between £4 and £6 depending on where you shop and are
available from most toy shops and many online retailers such as Amazon etc. For the price
these are great sets and ideal for a low cost present or for Lego mad kids spending their
I first played the original Lemmings game on a Sega Mega Drive years ago so when I came across
Lemmings Revolution at a car boot sale I had to buy it just to see if the highly addictive game of my
late teens could possibly be updated and survive against the games and graphics we have today.
For anyone who has never heard of Lemmings the game involves a group of small furry rodents
who when let loose will happily follow each other to their impending doom unless you stop them.
The game involves getting a preset number of the lemmings safely across a platform type maze with various hazards to an exit point by designating a limited number of skills to the lemmings such as
builder, miner, blocker to create a safe path for the rest to follow before the timer runs out. The
Lemmings will automatically walk off a ledge, fall down a hole or some other random death trap
unless you find a way to use the given skills to guide them safely across progressively harder levels.
Lemmings Revolution lets you once again take charge of guiding suicidal rodents safely to the exit but
this time the levels are three dimensional rather than the two dimensional game play of the original
which had blockish pixelated platform type graphics against a plain black background. Lemmings Revolution takes place on a 3d rotating cylinder background with levels set in trees and towers etc
which require you to rotate the game screen so you can see any impending dangers and act
accordingly before your lemmings wander off to their impending doom.
The game has some new features such as tele transporters which will shift your lemmings to another
area of the maze, speed pads which temporarily speed everything up and anti gravity pads which
make lemmings fall upwards and walk on the ceiling although all of these can be good or bad
depending on the situation at the time. This game also introduces the evil weasels who will
randomly attack the lemmings and many other new traps such as time delay gates which lock
by trigger levers or after a certain time trapping your lemmings on either side.
Once again we are given the familiar skills of the first game to dish out to the lemmings such as miner
to dig holes,blocker to stop the lemmings wondering off a cliff, parachutist who can safely float down
from heights, bashers to break through walls and bombers who blow themselves up etc but there's
also some new skills such as swimmer and immunity to certain pitfalls such as lava and water traps.
The game is easy to pick up and quite addictive so it's easy to waste a couple of hours then wonder where your time went. The early levels are relatively simple although with 100 levels to complete it
does get slightly repetitive with a lot of the same problems to solve again and again even if it does
get harder as the levels progress.
This game was released in 2000 and the graphics obviously look slightly dated if compared to the
Xbox 360 and PS3 games we have now although they are still cute and the scenery and game levels
are a huge improvement over the original game. There's no fancy soundtrack just jingle jangle
arcade type tunes similar to many platform type games although the little shouts of yippee from the lemmings as they make it to safety still brings a smile to my face as do the little screams as they head
off to furball heaven after following their friends off a ledge.
The only thing that I dislike about the game is the initial trailer where you are treated to a short
cartoon style trailer about the weasels which explains how the weasels imprisoned the lemmings
and built the maze to let them loose in to provide entertainment for the weasels. While this is okay
to watch once it does get annoying when you have to watch it every time you play the game.
There's no need for separate controllers and most of the game is controlled by the mouse using
left click to select skills and designate them to your chosen lemming and right click while moving
the mouse left or right to rotate the game so you can see where the lemmings are headed. The
space bar allows you to zoom in for a better look and the P key allows you to pause the game
which is handy as you can still designate tasks to the lemmings in paused mode so it can be a
lifesaver in a tight situation.
The minimum system requirements are..
100% PC compatible Processor
Pentium® II 266MHz or higher
64MB minimum ram
450MB hard disk space
4X Speed CD-ROM Drive required
DirectX compatible Sound Card
DirectX 7 (provided on game CD)
4MB DirectX compatible 3D accelerator video card
Keyboard & Mouse: Microsoft compatible
Overall I really enjoyed this game and still play it from time to time, It's a fun update for anyone
who enjoyed the original Lemmings game and a good introduction to the cute but suicidal rodents for anyone who missed the original.
Lemmings Revolution can be bought from Amazon and Ebay and I've seen it for as little as £1 including
postage up to around £10 for a new copy.
Like many kids at 2 and a half my little nephew Adam hates being in his buggy but walking any
distance with him is a stop start effort.Since his older sister started school my sister in law wanted
to find a way of walking to the local school which didn't involve Ads screaming like a banshee in his
buggy the entire way or leaving home at 7am to make it to school for 9am at Adams pace. We
originally tried him with his cousin Jamie's balance bike which was a great success for his cousins
Jamie and Arran but Adam didn't really take to it and still the school crawl continued usually ending
up with his mum carrying him and his big sister riding the bike.
We noticed other toddlers riding the Mini Micro scooters to school and decided to try one for Adam.
The Mini Micro Scooter is a 3 wheeled scooter similar in style to the 2 wheel micro scooters that most
primary school kids seem to be whizzing around on but this one is designed for 3-5 year olds. The
scooter comes in pink or blue with a silver handlebar pole and black hand grips or there's also a
range of bright multicoloured special edition scooters which are the same fluo colours as Stabilo highlighter pens and have brightly coloured handlebar grips and rear foot brake.
Thankfully unlike many kids toys and bikes the Micro requires minimum self assembly. In the box
are 2 parts the foot board with wheels and brake already attached and the T bar shaped handlebar
post with chunky grips already on so all you have to do is push the handlebar post into the slot at
the front of the foot board and the scooter is ready to roll. Once built the scooter measures 670mm
high x 550mm long x 220 wide and only weighs 1.5kg and is suitable for children weighing up to 20kg. Sadly there's no adjustment on the height of the bars and no way of folding the scooter although to
be fair the height of the bars is perfect for most 3-5 year olds and the ability to fold it down would probably end up in tears and trapped little fingers.
The Mini Micro comes with 3 PU wheels 2 larger 120mm wheels at the front and a smaller 80mm wheel
at the back the wheels are big enough and a soft enough compound to roll easily over pavement cracks and small stones without jarring or stopping dead. The 3 wheels provide more stability for toddlers and the scooter turns by weight transfer rather than by turning the handlebars so the child steers by leaning their weight to the side which means there's no chance of over steering and ending up flat on their face as could happen easily if the bars turned like they do on a normal scooter and the child decides to turn them 90 degrees when halfway down a hill!
The scooter comes with a flexible springy plastic foot board measuring 300mm long x 110mm wide
which is reinforced by the frame underneath and the top of the foot board is textured to prevent
slipping. The foot board sits lower than a normal scooter giving a low centre of gravity which helps
keep even the most cautious of toddlers feeling secure and makes it easier for pushing the scooter
along without fear of losing balance. Overall the scooter does seem well made and robust so it
should easily withstand daily life with a toddler and have no problems surviving even the worst
Adam loves his new neon yellow scooter and seemed to get the hang of pushing it along and steering
it within an hour or so and although he's a lot more cautious than my other nephews he seems really
confident riding this and seems to be getting faster every time I go out with him on it. Now the school
walk or a trip to the park or shops is a pleasure as he wheels himself along happily and never asks to
be carried and even if he gets tired when we're out he'll just stand on the scooter and allow you to
pull him along which is a lot easier than carrying him.
After walking along with him on this I'm surprised at how fast it can actually go and you definitely
have to hurry to keep up with him and be ready to grab him if he's about to run into someone.
I feel sorry for the poor pedestrians who've nipped out for the morning paper and are suddenly bombarded with countless toddlers on the school walk riding these 3 wheeled scooters down the
street and often accompanied by older siblings on the 2 wheeled variety. Out of fairness for those pedestrians I bought him a bell so at least they have some warning to watch out because his
steering and braking aren't quite up to scratch yet although his speed definitely is!
Micro have a range of scooters ranging from these mini versions to stunt scooters for older kids and
their website includes spare parts for everything from the foot board to the handlebars and wheels
and everything in between so everything is replaceable. Micro also have a huge range of accessories including the normal bells,horns,reflectors.lights,bags and streamers through to Zooters which are
long puppets which go over the long Tbar pole and turn your scooter into a dinosaur,lion or dragon
and hobby heads to turn your scooter into a hobby horse style lion,horse or giraffe.
Overall I think this is a great way to get your toddler mobile and active and should last most kids at
least a couple of years. The scooter is suitable for 3-5 years but I would say most 2 year olds would
be okay with it. There's also a seated version that can be used from one year then converted into
a scooter when the child is older which could be a good option for those with younger children who
aren't quite ready for a scooter and adding a strap means you can tow them along if they get tired.
The Mini Micro costs between £49 and £60 depending on where you shop with accessories and
spares ranging from £2.95-£20. The Micro Scooter website is http://www.micro-scooters.co.uk
After the death of our Gear4 Street Party speaker dock which decided to stop working after less than
4 months use I found myself once again searching for a portable speaker unit for camping trips and
The Philips SBA1610 is a triangular prism shape shaped speaker unit (think Toblerone shape!)which
roughly measures 16cm x 5cm x 5cm and weighs around 500gm. The speaker unit is light, slim and very portable so it fits easily in a bag or jacket pocket without taking up much room making it ideal for travel use. The unit runs on 3 x AAA batteries which will give around 12 hours use but sadly there's no mains power option so you better have a steady supply of rechargeable batteries if you want to use this for home as well as travel.
The unit is designed to work with smartphones, MP3 players or Ipods and has a built in 3.5mm jack pin
which will fit the standard headphone socket found on most MP3 players or smartphones so there's
no need for extra cables to connect your device and it also acts as a stand for your player. The built
in jack pin pivots out from the main unit to allow you to connect your device and then can be pushed
back into the recess when not in use so there's no sticky out bits that are likely to get easily damaged
or broken off when packed in a bag.
The unit is simple with silver plastic grill on the 3 sides and black plastic at the ends but it's good
looking in an understated way. There are no controls on the speaker unit itself it turns on when
you connect your device and a light shows underneath the plastic grill to show it's on but all volume
and controls are done through the player.
Sadly in my opinion the sound quality is a let down for such a well designed unit. At 2W RMS this
speaker unit was never going to be loud but I did expect better sound quality based on previous
experience with the Philips brand. The sound is severely lacking in the bass department and I
find it lacks depth and definition across all levels and is only slightly better than using the on board speakers on a smartphone. I also had a problem with an occasional crackle from the speaker mainly
when I changed tracks or adjusted the volume but occasionally for no reason at all. I tried the unit
with 3 different players a Samsung Galaxy 3 smartphone, a Creative Zen MP3 player and a Sony MP3 player but there wasn't much difference between them although some tracks can sound reasonable played through this unfortunately many ended up sounding like I'd amplified my smartphone in a Quality Street tin.
When I purchased this unit the packaging was already slightly torn and the instruction leaflet looked
a bit rough at the edges which makes me wonder if I got an ex display or a unit someone else had already returned even though I paid full price and there was no note on the unit advising it was ex
display. After a day of using this I ended up returning this to the store for a refund as I wasn't happy
with the sound quality or the crackle although I have read reviews on other sites praising the unit so
I do wonder if perhaps I got unlucky and ended up with a dodgy one.
For anyone considering buying this I would recommend taking your player to the store and asking
to try before you buy or making sure the store will refund if you return it. The Philips SBA1610 costs around £16-£18 and is currently available from Argos and Tesco as well as online retailers such as Amazon.
After being left in pain due to tearing my gum with a stray piece of chicken bone I was concerned
that my the cut in gum had become infected as the pain kept getting worse and my gum was badly
swollen. After a visit to the dentist I was given antibiotics but I was worried that I could not brush
the area without pain or bleeding and not convinced my usual mouthwash was helping either.
Although I intended buying Corsodyl from the chemist Oraldene was a lot cheaper at £2.70
compared to Corsodyl at £4.20 so after asking advice from the chemist I decided to try the Oraldene.
Oraldene is available on prescription or can be bought over the counter and contains hexitidine which
is an antiseptic which kills bacteria and fungi in your mouth. Oraldene can be used to gargle with to
treat throat infections or can be used as a mouthwash which is suitable for treating minor mouth infections, oral thrush, prevention and treatment of gum disease, mouth ulcers, bad breath and is
suitable for oral hygiene before or after dental surgery.
Oraldene comes packaged in a grey box containing a 200ml bottle of bright red liquid. I was slightly
surprised to find the bottle looks scarily like a kids juice bottle and reminds me of the little bottles
of red kola or cherryade we used to get in our packed lunch boxes as kids. Given the fact there's
no child safety cap just a metal screw on lid on something that looks like a bottle of bright red fizzy
pop I would advise keeping this one well out of the reach of toddlers although the taste would
probably have them spitting it out rather than drinking it anyway!
The taste of this is difficult to describe it's very clinical and aniseed dipped in detergent springs to
mind every time I use it! My mouth does feel really clean after using Oraldene and my gum seems
to be healing without any more problems with infection or swelling so although this might not be
the best tasting mouthwash I've used I'll put up with the taste if it does the job. The recommended
dose is 15ml 2-3 times per day sadly there's no cap or measure included for you to use for measuring
or drinking from so you're left to use guesswork and a table spoon and obviously you aren't supposed
to swallow this just rinse or gargle with it and spit it out.
My boyfriend had a cold and a sore throat recently and he found that this helped calm the symptoms better than the cough medicine he had been using. Although he was happy that Oraldene cleared
the throat infection he said gargling with this was revolting and it reminded him of his mum washing
his mouth out with soap for swearing at his brother when they were kids so I'm obviously not alone
in disliking the taste.
Possible side effects of Oraldene are irritation of the mouth or tongue such as soreness, burning sensation or itching, alteration in taste or temporary numbness of the mouth. Neither of us had
any major side effects using Oraldene although I do feel it numbed my mouth slightly for a short
period of time due to the pain from my gum this was quite a welcome side effect for me personally.
Oraldene isn't suitable for children under the age of 6 and although the medicine is not known to
cause any problems with pregnant or breastfeeding mothers it's maybe best to check with your
doctor or chemist before using this. Likewise you should check if you are taking any other
medications that could react with this or are allergic to any of the ingredients which include
azorubin (E122) which may cause an allergic reaction especially in people who are allergic to
I would happily recommend Oraldene for anyone suffering from mouth problems or a sore throat
it might not taste very great but it definitely helps and at £2.50- £3.50 for a 200ml bottle it won't
break the bank!