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It was during a pilgrimage to Curry's when I first laid eyes on this odd shaped machine. Then I noticed the display box beneath it. Five words sprang out and instantly grabbed my attention. Being a serial tea drinker my eyes had to do a double take when I read "Hot Water in 3 Seconds" The picture on the box was the displayed Tefal Quick Cup with a tea mug under the nozzle and hot water being poured in. I just had to have it. My tea drinking days had just advanced to a new level. It was on a special offer of £29.99. I paid the money and took it home.
Once home I opened the box and lifted out the Quick Cup machine. It was nice and straightforward to put together. There's a kind of base, front and nozzle section all in one unit. A clear plastic water tank shaped like a fat half moon that fits snugly around the front unit and slots onto a circular release valve in the base section. Finally the clear plastic lid that's shaped to fit the tank sits on top. There was also a part in the tank that can hold a Claris Water Filter Cartridge but sadly the model I bought didn't come with one on purchase and was sold as an accessory. The shape of the three parts meant that it could only be put together one way so was impossible to make a mistake on this one.
The machine itself looked great and made a fantastic addition to the kitchen. It stood approximately 23cm high and 14 cm wide in a mostly circular shape except for the nozzle that overhangs the front allowing for a cup or mug to be positioned below.
First thing to do before using the Tefal Quick Cup for the first time is to rinse the system through. To do this you first thoroughly wash the tank in clear water and replace it back in its position on the machine. Fill the tank with cold water and place a container under the nozzle that will hold around 1.5 litres.
Plug the machine in. On top of the front panel there are two option buttons, one red for hot water and one black for cold filtered water. Hold down the red button and water will begin to run out of the nozzle. You continue to hold down the red button until all the water in the tank has gone. Throw away the water in the container and you're now ready to use the machine.
Eagerly I prepared a cup of tea and placed it under the nozzle. I filled the tank up with cold water and pressed the hot button. Sure enough the water began to drain through and into the cup. One press on the hot button will dispense 220ml of hot water. If you hold the button down continually the water will just keep running. If you've pressed the hot button once and the 220ml is running you can interrupt this at any time just by pressing the hot button again.
By now the hot water is in the cup and I'm allowing it the statuary time to brew. Sampling the tea you can instantly tell the difference between the Tefal Quick Cup and a standard kettle. The Quick Cup does indeed give you hot water in 3 seconds, no complaints there, but it's hot to the touch, not boiling that the kettle will give. This is reflected in the taste of a cup of tea from the quick cup system.
Fantastic idea if you need just hot water and not boiling water. We did eventually adjust to the tea tasting different but visitors never thanked us for insisting on using it instead of a kettle.
The cold water was no different from the tap so we never used that side of it. Maybe if we had the filter it would've been different so cant really give a personal view on the cold water from the quick cup.
We used the Quick Cup system continuously until after around a good three months it started to scale up and the hot water dispensed wasn't any longer hot. The instruction manual recommended every 2 months for descaling so I think it did very well in that time considering we live in a very hard water area.
Descaling the Tefal Quick Cup system is a bit of a handful in some respects. You place the 1.5 litre container back beneath the nozzle. Fill the empty tank with 1 litre of white vinegar and then press the hot water button and cold-water button simultaneously for 10 seconds. This should start the descaling cycle that will run for around 10 minutes. When the cycle finishes, empty the 1.5 litre container and replace beneath the nozzle again before filling the tank with cold water and repeating the rinsing cycle we first did when the machine was first new.
I'll have to admit we did get the old kettle back out while the machine was descalling and did notice a huge difference in the taste of the tea for the better. Sadly we never used the Tefal Quick Cup again and it got demoted to a cupboard.
Conclusion: Ideal if you need a max of 1.5 litres of hot water. It does what it states and turns cold water into hot to the touch water in 3 seconds. Makes an 'acquired taste' cup of tea but don't expect visitors to thank you for using it.
I didn't really fancy Bibleopoly on first impressions to be honest as I thought it was just going to be a version of the popular Monopoly board game but with the famous streets and stations of London renamed. Opening the box and game board for the first time didn't change my views. The layout was pretty much the same with the old popular corner squares renamed to a biblical theme but no stations on this one. Fair enough I guess as I never recall reading about any railway station in the Bible.
Three of us have decided to give the game a run, myself, my twenty year old son and my eighteen year old daughter. Interesting combination of teenage stubbornness, 20 years of wisdom and answers on every known subject to man and a 49-year-old who, given the current competition, anything but winning isn't an option.
Now it's time to have a closer look at everything.
There are no houses or hotels in Bibleopoly. I must admit to immediately thinking there must be inn's and stables then. But no, I spot a small clear bag of multi-colours rectangles. I wonder what they're for? As I ponder, my daughter deals out the money as per the game instructions. She announces that she is the Overseer (banker).
I smell a rat and demand to know where my wedge of £1500 starting monopoly money is. But as is proved, you start with 75, and not money but offerings. Ok, that makes sense. We're zooming back 2000 years here after all. I start to plan my victory armed with my 3 tens, 7 fives and 10 ones.
Here's another new variation. We are also dealt 4 deeds each to start with. (as three are playing). Owning a deed - which is a biblical town on the game board - instantly promotes you to caretaker of that town. Anyone landing on your town has to pay up. I quickly scan the board to see that Jerusalem and Bethlehem is where Mayfair and Park Lane would be. Also Nazareth has been added to make the big hitters a group of three. Nice touch in my opinion.
Community Chest and Chance are also here but are now named Abyss and Faith / Contingency respectfully. The Abyss squares are located where the stations would be. Read into that what you will.
All the playing pieces are the same, bar colour. Out with the hat, dog, car, iron etc and we have a selection of what can only resemble a kind of square edged witches hat. I must add here that it turns out not to be anything like a witches hat and is actually a very nice addition to this game. My daughter selects the blue piece, my son takes control of the red piece and I take on the white. Three other coloured pieces remain in the box unused. We're now ready to play.
Two dice are used and the same rules apply, a double entitles the thrower to another go, three doubles on the trot and it's off to Meditation for you for a further three turns to attempt to throw a double to get out. No double after 3 attempts and it's 5 offerings to the middle of the board.
The game progresses as expected with each player taking a turn. If you land on an available town you have the option to purchase it from the Overseer. The cost is much cheaper than monopoly, you can become a caretaker of the town from between 6 offerings being the cheapest and 14 offerings for Jerusalem. Landing on them isn't such a slap in the face and ranges between 2 and 9 respectfully.
One thing we did discover is that although community chest was the baddies of the two sets of cards in monopoly, it wasn't always a punch in the privates that the Abyss cards often dish out. This is where the Biblical theme really takes hold on the game and can have totally changing effects not just for the player landing on the card square but for all those playing - just like a famine or a plague. Some can cost you heavily.
Faith and Contingency wont hit you as hard as the Abyss and can sometime be quite kind. Watch for any bending of the rules here as well. My son was told to move forward one space and state something factual about the town he would land on or move back five spaces.
I could tell by the look on his face that he's never even heard of Miletus let alone knew anything about it. But with passion my son announced that Miletus began with the letter M and that was a fact. Fair comment but not really the ideal answer in the spirit of the game. But he protested that the question was to state a fact and not to state a Biblical fact. In the end we let him have it just to shut him up.
After playing for a while I could start to feel that there was something about the game that was pretty good. The cards had a kind of way about making you reflect about your decisions and what affects certain things can have on others. Some good and some not so good.
The closing, or winning of the game is a nice clincher. Rather than having all the money, wealth, assets and being the last man standing as in the monopoly format, the object to win Bibleopoly is to be the first to build a complete church on one of your deeds. You can only build one church and you have to decide where it will be built. The Church is made up of a corner-stone, three bricks and a steeple. Bring on the afore-mentioned clear bag of multi-coloured rectangles and the odd square edged witches hat playing piece (which turned out to be the steeple).
Ok, admittedly 3 bricks doesn't build a church as we know it but the three bricks will be the 3 sections you have to add to your corner-stone before your steeple goes on top and proclaims you the winner.
This is where the game can get really interesting. Unlike monopoly, Bibleopoly has three deeds (towns) per colour group. You get a small fee paid to you in offerings if someone lands on your deed. If you own all three deeds for the group then anyone landing on a deed has to pay double. That's really as far as that part goes.
The idea of the game is to build a church but you can only do this if you own three deeds of a colour group. Once that is done and you own all three you first have to start your church by obtaining a corner-stone from the Overseer. I liked this bit. You can only get the Corner Stone from the overseer if you give, yes give, one of your deeds to another player who has two of that colour. So in effect you're giving your opponent a final deed so they will have three deeds of a colour set as well. This enables them the chance to get a corner-stone also. This is a nice Charitable thing to do for someone and allows you to build your church based on an act of charity and donation. You then receive your appropriate coloured corner-stone and place it upon any one of the three towns.
The next stage is to build the three bricks upon your corner-stone. Easier said than done. A brick costs 30 offerings and you can only get one when you pass the starting square aptly titled 'In the Beginning' (you also get 10 offerings from the Overseer each time you pass here as well). That doesn't sound a lot but it's quite surprising how hard it can be to do a circuit of the board and keep that amount in your hand, especially if someone gets an Abyss card which can flood 5 of your towns or you get swallowed by a whale and miss three turns. Good ol' Jonah.
Eventually, by practicing good patience together with Faith, Hope and Charity. You will get three bricks on your church. All three of us did. Dont get complacent though, you could lose a brick or two if the Abyss cards aren't kind.
Now comes the final hurdle. Your almost complete church sits proudly on the chosen deed. All it needs is a steeple and you win. But where is the steeple? It's on the game board doing it's best to dodge anything too costly or being sent off to Meditation. The only way to get your Steeple onto your Church is to land exactly on the deed it's built upon. That is no easy task with two dice and forty playing squares. But amazingly there are more than one way to do it if the Faith/Constitution cards fall right for you. And it's also possible to have two winners at the same time. Which is a very nice addition.
All in all Bibleopoly is based on a good moral foundation. Some knowledge of the Bible will help but it's by far not needed to play the game. It's a fantastic family game and produces an enjoyable atmosphere. We'll be playing this again.
We had to replace our poor old washing machine that had given up the ghost so off we went to Comet to spend our money on a brand new addition to the kitchen. After much deliberation we decided on the Candy Grand with an impressive 1400 spin speed and a nice fat 8KG drum. It was the drum size that sealed it for us because we thought it would take a double quilt. The machine cost us £349.99 in August 2009 and looking back now, we thankfully paid an extra £164.99 for the extended 5-year warranty.
When it arrived we were very happy with it. There are five of us in the household and having three children meant that the washing machine would be put through it paces. The Candy itself comes with a pretty good array of program choices. The front panel is well laid out and the button options are all labelled for easy reading.
The Front Panel Controls:
Door Security Indicator Light -
This comes on when the machine is turned on and the door if fully closed. If for any reason the machine detects that the door is not fully closed the indicator light will flash to let you know that something's not right. After the washing program's cycle has finished the indicator light remains on for a further 2 minutes then goes out and allowing you to then open the door. That's an awfully long 2 minutes when you're in a hurry.
Start / Pause Button -
I wasn't too sure why anyone would want to pause a washing machine once it was in full swing. It's not like I'm going to watch it in action and then pause it so I could make a cup of tea happy in the knowledge that I wasn't going to miss anything but my wife assured me it was good. Apparently you can pause the cycle if you wanted to add or remove an item or change the selected program. You still have to wait for the dreaded 2-minute door security light to go out before you can add or remove anything though. Good thing really I guess. Just hit Start and you're off and running again.
Fast Wash Button -
As described you can speed things up with this little kiddie and we use it a fair bit but it only ideally works on the Cotton and Synthetics program. It doesn't work on a 30 minute wash either or for woollens. The indicator light above the button will only light up if you've selected the option and it's compatible with the selected program.
Allergy Care Button - We don't use this feature ourselves but it is a good option in my opinion. With the Allergy Care activated the machine will use more water and also the drum rotates in a way to remove any traces of detergent during the final spin making it ideal for people who have delicate skin. We were advised to use it for delicate fibres and young children's clothes or when washing fabrics made from towelling as they absorb a greater quantity of washing powder. We haven't got any young children so never use the option through choice, however it's automatically activated on the Delicate and Woollens Programs. Again, the indicator light only illuminates if you've selected the option and it's compatible with the selected program.
Stain Vanish Button -
This is another option we don't use through choice but it's automatically activated on the Cotton programs. The idea of the Stan Vanish option is to keep the water temperature at a constant level throughout the cycle. The drum will also behave differently in that it rotates in a way to allow the powder to be distributed evenly during the cycle. The drum speed will also increase. Once again, the light above this button only comes on when the button is pressed and it's compatible with the selected program. No light, no go for this option.
Delay Start Button -
This is another option we've never used although I can see one particular benefit from it. With this option we could set the machine to start its cycle 3, 6 or 9 hours later. Easy to do as well. You just select what program you want, this is after putting the washing in and closing the door and adding the powder and softener in the drawer, then you press the Delay Start button once for 3 hours, twice for 6 hours and three times for 9 hours. Lights on the machine will indicate how many hours you've selected for the delay. Once done just hit the start button and wait patiently. Being a bloke I couldn't see the point of this at first, you either want to use the washing machine or you don't, but then the ideal hit home. You can set your machine to start and run on the cheaper electricity nighttime tariff.
Spin Speed Button -
We never use this so cant give a personal account but it's supposed to give us control on what spin speed we would like to use. You can reduce the maximum spin speed of the selected program and even have the spin cycle cancelled altogether. It's not however possible to override the maximum speed which is automatically set for each program.
Spin Speed Indicator Light -
This little bank of lights sit just to the left of the spin speed button and indicates which speed you've selected via the spin speed button. The spin speeds available are 600, 800, 1000 and 1400rpm or no spin at all. Ours is on 1400 most of the time but as mentioned earlier the Candy Grand machine wont allow you to override the speed settings for the programs anyway so it protects fabrics such as jumpers.
Time to End Indicator Light -
This little bank of lights will tell you how long is left before the cycle is complete. There are five little lights here with 90, 60, 30, 15 and Stop. The 90 is alight when the remaining cycle time is beyond 60 minutes. The 60 light illuminates when there are less than 60 minutes before completion. The 30 light takes over when there less than half and hour to go. The 15 light kicks in when we're into the last quarter of an hour and the Stop light jumps into the fray when the show's over.
There's also the Program selector dial and the washing machine powder drawer.
The program selector dial is pretty cool to look at. There is a good selection of programs available. The dial selector is broken down into 4 sections. Cottons, Mixed/Synthetics, Delicates and Specials.
We only personally use the '40 Colour Fast' setting in the cottons for the colours, the '60 Soiled' also in the Cottons settings for towels that have only been used once. We also use the exact same settings for our whites. We use the '90 Whites' for towels and tea towels combined. The 'Wool 30' under delicates for all the jumpers. The 'Rinse and Spin' is selected for anything my wife washes by hand first such as our youngest school trousers that need to be washed quickly or items that cant go on a rapid wash. The final selected program used by us is the 'Rapid 32' in the Special section for anything that we would need quickly or for something that needs to be worn that day. So out of a good selection of 19 programs and 2 different spin settings the dial has to offer we only use 5.
Overall the Candy Grand washing machine is good for what we need and in all fairness it does get a lot of use. We've had to call the engineers out many times unfortunately to repair it so it doesn't get a good reliability thumbs up. The most common fault is that the heating element keeps going and has had to be replaced three times in 3 years. The entire system went up the swanny on one occasion and the main board had to be replaced. The extended warranty is definitely recommended for this machine.
The Candy Grand doesn't like being in a hard water area like ours, make no mistake. We have to run the machine on a boil wash with special granules put into the draw at least once a month to remove lime scale from the elements. We found this is an absolute must for this machine. Another disappointment was we bought the machine initially because of the 8KG drum taking a double quilt. It doesn't. Well it does if the quilt was really thin but I would say it wouldn't wash very well due to lack of space. We use between 10 and 13.5 tog quilts in our home and sadly these don't fit inside the drum.
To conclude, not a bad washing machine by Candy but we'd have to admit we've had better machines in our kitchen.
That time of year came round yet again when a married man with 3 kids eagerly opens his Christmas presents to reveal yet more toiletries to join the countless others in his small corner of the bathroom cabinet. I've mastered the art of the stunned surprised look of excitement followed by my carefully practiced "Whoo Hoo! Shower Gel!" "Yay! Shaving Gel!" I can hardly contain myself as I open another present. "Socks!" I cry with the tones of mastered joy.
I do take my hygiene seriously, don't get me wrong, but when it comes to showering and shaving I would use the nearest thing in the bathroom that describes the purpose intended. My shaving kit would consist of a Mac 3 and the nearest bar of soap.
As my birthdays passed and the years took their toll I noticed that my skin started to become quite sensitive to certain brands in the bathroom. Most things I used would leave me with sore or itchy skin, shaving included. A heated discussion followed, but I was assured that we still used the same fabric softener we always had and I had to settle for the fact that I was getting old.
It was my wife who suggested I should look through my collection of gel and foams in the cabinet to see if there was anything for sensitive skin. A thourough search left me with two and by luck one was the Gillette Fusion Hydra Gel and in a nice green block was the words 'Sensitive Skin'. I decided to give it a try.
The green block announcing the sensitive skin text is a bit misleading because once you take off the lid and depress the trigger it actually comes out blue. Bearing in mind that I have always used soap to shave I didn't give any thought to how much blue gel I would need and decided that a golf ball sized mass in my hand should be enough. An added twist to the blue gel is after applying to a wet face, it turns white. I continued to apply my golf ball sized amount to my chin and it actually turned out to be way way more than enough. Made mental note to try marble sized amount next time. So with my Papa Smurf impersonation finished I decided to start again and I'd say that a marble sized amount is just right for a good shave. A case of a little will go a long way.
I must admit that I was impressed. I thought it was just hype but you do in fact get a closer shave with gel against soap and the Hydra Gel lived up to it's name and surpassed all expectations. My chin felt smoother than it had done after previous shaves. I was now converted.
It still tingles the skin along the jaw line but I can live with that personally, the Aloe addition keeps the skin soft and smooth. I've replaced the original tin twice and pay between £3 or £4 for a 200ml can but it will last for many shaves so I personally consider it good value for the price and the fact that my wife approves of the end result that the Hydra Gel gives is an added bonus.
I tend to get quite a few headaches and regularly take Paracetamol to combat the little rascals. I'm lucky enough to have found all brands of Paracetamol have had satisfactory results for me but if I would have to make a list of value for money then I would recommend the Tesco brand of Paracetamol.
The two types mostly available are the 500mg tablets or the 500mg caplets. The tablets being round and the caplets more of an elongated oval. I find the round ones I can swallow in one hit but the oval ones I will bite in half first. So given the choice of the two I go with the tablets for ease of swallowing.
Even though they do a great job for pain relief, especially easing headaches, you have to be really careful that you don't exceed the maximum dose of two every four hours and no more than eight tablets within a 24 hour period. There is a chance that you can become addicted to them if you don't monitor the dosages over a long period of time and there are reports of Paracetamol causing kidney damage. Because of the addictiveness reports you're limited to only by a maximum of 32 tablets or caplets in one purchase. The Tesco Paracetamol comes in packs of 16 so I buy 2 boxes at a time.
A box of 16 Paracetamol tablets will cost 15p and I consider these great value for money for the effect they have on my headaches. I would happily pay anyone 2p a time for the desired results. I give the Tesco Paracetamol a big thumbs up.
I have to write this more on behalf of my cat Fat Bloke, as he's not so good on a keyboard and will completely ignore any form of spell checker so cant be trusted.
The ginger stray more adopted us and decided to move in rather than wait to be invited. We made the big mistake of really spoiling him at first due to his skinny frame, and sadly due to our own inexperience, he piled on the pounds. Hence why he became known as Fat Bloke.
A neighbour recommended dry food as a diet and after many trials we finally found something that met his, what seemed like remarkably high set standards.
It appears that Purina have pulled out all the stops and the Go-Cat Complete for adult cats have ticked all the right cat baskets as far as he's concerned. A good balanced meal made from a combination of meat and cereal gave him the nutrition he needed. The protein, minerals and vitamins helped to get his good health back and keep his coat shiny. There is also small percentage of crude ash and crude fibres which indicates the minerals that don't get burned off after the meal is eaten. Polite ash and polite fibres may have been more pleasing to the taste I'm sure but we'll have to accept that it's called crude for a good reason.
A good all round meal for a cat to maintain a healthy balanced diet, good muscle and bone structure.
It was after the sad loss of our vacuum cleaner that we were forced into finding a replacement. I was all up for getting the same one but my wife insisted on getting the Hetty. Not a problem at first, especially when she announced that it came with two power options. I had serious reservations however when I learnt that we were actually purchasing a pink hoover with a smilie face and elegantly painted eyelashes. I admit pink's a nice warm colour but it's a bit anti-bloke when you could have blue or red.
That aside. The Hetty is more than an impressive machine and perfect for our laminate and vinyl covered floors. The lower setting of a respectable 1000W power is more than ample enough for any domestic chore and will make easy work of our rugs. My wife prefers the higher 1200W setting for the rugs but I find the more powerful setting actually lifts the rugs from the floor. The higher setting makes hoovering the car seats a doddle though. The recommended dust bags are strong and hold a good amount.
There's a good amount of flex on the Hetty that will allow enough reach to hoover the entire floor of an average sized house. The flexible hose extends to around 8 feet and three stainless steele extension tubes allow for an array of areas including walls and stairs. With a fixed axle at the back and two swivel wheels at the front, the round-shaped Hetty will happily glide along behind you.
It's a bit of a beast at 8.7kg in weight making staircases a little awkward in that you have to keep a careful eye on Hetty especially when she's perched precariously on the edge at the top and you're just squeezing in that final step before switching to downstairs plug socket mode.
For just over £100 this is a great little machine. The dual power option is a very useful addition and the attachments make it a fantastic all-in-one useful household tool.
I couldn't believe my luck when I was actually given this car. A huge navy blue Citroen C5 VTR Estate. I'm in no way a car technophobe, I know how to change a tyre and put petrol, water and anti-freeze in and that pretty much sums up my knowledge, other than the engine is a scary thing in the front and there a big space in the back where I can put my shopping.
The first time I got in the car I was amazed at the space. Looking in the review mirror I could see the car went back a long way. I was already on a high as I'd never had a car with the electric key thing that you could lock and unlock the car with from the other side of the road. Big new world for me.
Just sitting there and looking around, I could feel the comfort in the car. The driver's seat has lots of options so easy to adjust it to my style. A good added bonus was both front seats have an inside arm rest. I didn't realise at the time but after many many miles of long dual-carriage way and motorway driving the armrest is a brilliant addition.
The car itself is a smooth drive in any whether conditions. The onboard computer display thing was confusing at first but once used to it, you can get a lot of info as to how you should be driving for maximum mileage. These options can be quickly scrolled through just by depressing the very end of the wiper bits on one of the steering column arms.
The boot area on this car is massive, to me anyway from what I'd been used to. The rear seats fold down pretty flat so open up the space even more. You can get a lot of stuff into these cars and they really come into their own for a good tip run.
I find the C5 estate a bit of a slug for acceleration but a speed of 100mph doesn't even make the car blink. Often I'll find myself doing between 85 and 90 without realising and have to bring it down a pace. Cruises beautifully at 70. 3K revs per minute on the flat give roughly 67 miles per hour. The car for my style of driving, which includes an even mix of town and dual carriageway, averages at near 25.9mpg so quite heavy on unleaded.
All in all, in my opinion, the car is slow on acceleration and because it's long it can be a nuisance to park in town. The comfort is fantastic, good space and legroom. I've had the car now for 18 months and it's still as reliable as it's ever been. A good comfy car with lots of things to play with.