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Thailui
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Member since: 08.05.2004

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      23.02.2012 10:42
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      Magnetic ball to assist the removal of lime scale in washing machines

      I have long been a fan of the power of magnets and was aware that the use of them could affect the formation of lime scale, having nothing but beneficial effects on water pipes and tanks. As we live in a very hard water area this has been a big problem over the years. I had read about the Magnoball and its benefits but had never actually seen one - apart from on television - probably on a shopping channel.

      When I DID find them it was in the local ALDI store and seemed to be (as a lot of items are) a lot cheaper than I had previously seen it advertised! I decided that I would treat the washing machine to one of these to try and stop the effects of lime scale which, we are told, is one of the main causes of faults. My reasoning being that it certainly couldn't do any harm to the machine and if it did it good then £5.99 was well worth spending.

      This item is very ordinary in appearance, the magnets being enclosed in a green rubber ball. This has a hole through the centre and, what I can only term as slits around the sides. It has Ecozone Magnoball clearly marked on both ends. As I said, ours is green but I have seen pictures of them in other colours too. I would suggest that you keep it out of sight of any dogs in the house as, being roughly the size of a tennis ball, it is also very appealing to our canine friends!

      Does it work? That is a bit difficult to say without taking the washing machine to pieces. I CAN say that the drum appears to have benefitted as it used to have a white filmy appearance and now it is a bright, shiny silver. I am pleased with the laundry but, until now, had not considered that this could also be affected by the lack of lime scale. The only repair to my machine is the one I did myself (review: Buy Spares etc) which was certainly nothing to do with lime scale!

      The Magnoball seems to be easily available on-line from places such as Amazon, Ebay and the like. There is also a website: www.ecogreenstore.co.uk - where all the Ecozone products can be found in one place. The price seems to vary a good bit from about £16.99 to £6.99 - the average being £11.99 on Amazon or £11.45 on the Ecogreen website. The best price by far is £5.99 at Aldi's and, although I bought mine a couple of years ago, I notice that they are back in the store at the moment.

      All in all, I'm very pleased that I bought this item and feel that it was definitely worth the money I paid for it and it certainly hasn't harmed the washing machine.

      I hope that this has been helpful and I thank you for reading.

      Hazel

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        19.02.2012 13:48
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        Concentrated and biodegradable washing liquid - not highly scented!

        I really can't remember where I first read about Method Laundry Detergent but I am SO glad that I did! I day "read" because I'm pretty sure that I looked up their website and was so impressed that I then went searching the supermarkets for the products. Admittedly I COULD have bought it directly from them but, as it happens, I was lucky enough to find it in Sainsbury's while on special offer. Having not seen it previously, even then it seemed a remarkably small bottle (compared with other washing liquids) for the price, but the recommended "dose" was also very small - and, as I already use wash balls, I knew I could cut this by about half.

        Method say that their washing liquid is "ultra concentrated" (8 times) therefore the 300ml which comes in a pump-top bottle will provide 25 washes. The one thing I was rather concerned about was the prospect of a liquid that was highly scented - something I avoid at all costs. It really IS my pet hate! When I first bought it the only version available was FRESH AIR (blue bottle) and I have to say that I was suitably impressed. Since then I have also sampled the other two fragrances: PEONY BLOSSOM (pink) and FREE & CLEAN (white) and I have to say that I have no complaints about any of them. I have used Fresh Air most, not really from any preference; simply that it seems the most readily available in the local shops. There is also now the added attraction that they make this variety in refill pouches which offer a considerable saving. The bottle retails (usually) at £6 although on their website and in our local Co-op it is £5.99. The refill pouch which holds enough for 85 washes - therefore filling three plus bottles - costs £14 so a saving of over £4, and I have found this in Sainsbury's. I have seen several good suggestions for the re-use of the bottles but I really think this is the one I shall opt for. I KNEW they would come in useful - and I shall have nearly four bottles ready which will last me AGES! I have also found Method available in Tesco and Waitrose.

        The actual liquid is clear and virtually colour free and apparently 95% plant based. You can use it as a stain remover by adding a spot directly from the pump - and it works too! I will admit that I rarely have very stained things in my laundry so I don't feel qualified to state that it will clean everything perfectly but I am pleased to say that it has coped with everything I have "thrown at it" so far. I usually dry my washing outside and, unlike some of my neighbours; no-one would know which detergent I use from the scent wafting across the garden. The washing always smells fresh and clean but without the overpowering perfume you get from a lot of the more "usual" detergents.

        The recommended "dose" per wash is four pumps for an average load, six for a large load and only two for a small load. I rarely use the recommended amount because as I said previously, I also use wash balls (Lakeland Dolly Washer Balls) which reduce the need for detergents, I have certainly never used more than four pumps even for a large wash and I always get the results I expect.
        If you want to learn any more about Method, the website: www.methodproducts.co.uk is well worth a visit. You can also buy the products from this site and I note that they also offer to recycle the refill pouches if you care to return them.

        Would I recommend this product? Definitely! I certainly don't intend to change in the near future and I am well known for being fussy where this type of product in concerned.

        I hope that this has been of interest - and helpful - and I thank you for reading.

        Hazel

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        • Breville VKJ318 Hot Cup / Kettle / 61 Readings / 54 Ratings
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          28.04.2011 12:42
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          An easy way of getting a quick cup of coffee

          The Breville Hot Cup was received as a Christmas present last year and I can honestly say that it has been used every day since. It can really only be described as a kettle - but with a patented design which means that only one cup is boiled at a time which, of course, saves time, energy and money. There is no wasted hot water as you would usually get when boiling a traditional kettle for one or two mugs of coffee - or anything else that only requires one cup.

          I have to say that making instant coffee has never been easier because with this little item you don't even have to pout it out. The reservoir holds up to one and a half litre of water but the heating chamber only boils 250ml at a time - and dispenses it when it is ready. This does sound somewhat like a coffee machine but, for some reason, the coffee also seems to smell and taste better, perhaps due to being exactly the right temperature - or maybe only my imagination!

          Everything has a nice bright blue illumination when switched on - that is the On/Off button on the top and the water reservoir. This is exactly matched to my existing kettle which is also Breville, so it all looks very well together.

          There is a lid-release button and the reservoir is easy to fill. I tend to do it with a jug - simply because I always have a jug of water nearby - but it's not a heavy item to take to the tap. Of course, you have to be sure that you have a cup or mug of the right size or you might find that you've managed to "overflow", but even if you do, there is a removable drip tray which holds over a cup of water anyway so you're not likely to flood the place! This is very smart having a shiny stainless steel top for the cups/mugs to stand on. I have to say that I was really surprised to find that the drip tray held so much as it really seems too small but I did inadvertently switch on one day before putting the mug under the nozzle. After the first initial panic I found that all was well with no flooding of the kitchen! It is certainly very easy to remove to empty or clean. The base is where the power is - similar to any other cordless kettle - apart from the drip tray of course.

          There is a very comprehensive instruction booklet which gives instruction on how to use, cleaning, descaling and troubleshooting. There is also a "quick start" card for those (like me) too impatient to read the whole booklet first.

          I have to say that this is probably NOT something I would have bought myself but having used it so much I feel that I would be lost without it now and would certainly want to replace it should the need arise. I don't think it would really replace the 'conventional' kettle and I do feel that a larger model would be required to serve a family - they ARE available I believe - but for one or two people this is great.

          Would I recommend it? Yes - ours gets a lot of use!

          I thank you for reading this and I hope that it has been of some use and interest.

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          • DeLonghi F18304 / Deep Fryer / 47 Readings / 46 Ratings
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            17.02.2011 12:18
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            A fryer which doesn't need a full pan of oil meaning healthier food

            I have long been a great fan of DeLonghi items but by far my favourite of all time has to be the "Roto Fry" deep fryer. I was devastated last week when mine failed. Fortunately this occurred whilst I was in the middle of cleaning it so I was well aware of what had happened and knew that it would have to be replaced. Having been installed in my kitchen for about five years I can truthfully say that it has seen a lot of use - and had itself been a replacement for a previous DeLonghi model. In short, I knew I could trust it and when replacement was needed I knew just what to look for.

            Of course, in five years things change - and possibly improve. There are quite a few models to choose from nowadays - not just the one "state of the art" model that I had last time. The one I did choose is slightly smaller and much lighter. It also has a non-stick interior which is a nice modern touch. It is also a "cool wall" model which avoids what can cause a nasty burn with some appliances.

            Let me tell you about this appliance in case you haven't come across it before. It is certainly not the same as other deep fat fryers. For one thing there is no deep fat! The maximum amount of oil needed is 1.2 litres. This is because the bowl is angled meaning that the basket (which rotates) dips the food in and out of the oil which results in it being perfectly cooked and yet is never immersed for long enough to become saturated. This is, of course, a much healthier way to fry especially if you also use good quality oil. They suggest groundnut or corn oil but I always use rapeseed oil which gives excellent results. Even with this amount of oil it is still possible to fry a full kilo of chips.

            Naturally the fryer comes with heat settings ranging from 150° to 190° to make sure that you are able to get the correct temperature for whatever you wish to cook - be it fresh or frozen etc. There is an indicator light to let you know when it has reached the right heat. This model also has a viewing window so that you can check on your food while it cooks. My previous one didn't have this although the one before that did! I have to say that this was something that I missed, having had one previously, so I was happy to find that the new cooker had one. There is a handle on the front to raise the basket out of the oil while the lid is still closed so with the viewing window you are able to see if dinner is ready to be served! The lid is fastened while cooking so there is also a release button to open it. There is also an anti-odour filter in the lid. This is, of course, removable and easily replaced when necessary. (As a matter of interest, replacement filters can be bought from www.buyspares.co.uk)

            Cleaning the Roto Fry is very easy now that it has a non-stick interior. This particular model has to be emptied from the top although some of the others have a draining method. My old one had this but, as the new one is much lighter, I can see no advantage and am perfectly happy the way it is.

            Many people consider that fried food is very unhealthy however, when cooked properly - at the correct temperature - it is perfectly fine. Healthy chips? Cooked this way - definitely!

            I hope that this will be of interest and I thank you for reading it.

            Hazel

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              24.01.2011 10:14
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              Air Freshener in a non-propellant spray bottle

              I'm not a great fan of air fresheners as I often feel that the fragrance is not only artificial but also far too strong. We do occasionally have scented candles which are usually very well "vetted" for the smell before purchase!

              Recently on a trip to ASDA I found that Air Wick Aqua Mist was on a "Roll-Back" price of £1.49 - approximately half it's usual price. This was something I had previously read about and thought it sounded rather interesting. I had already decided that I would try it if I saw it, although finding it at this price was a definite "decider" as far as I was concerned.

              The appearance of this air freshener is different to most as it doesn't come in an aerosol. It comes in a clear plastic bottle - about six and a half inches high - with a trigger spray bringing the height to ten inches altogether. The colour of the spray top depends on the fragrance inside and, as the contents of the bottle are clear and colourless - no matter what fragrance, this is helpful once you have decided which you like best. There is also a small green peg which holds the trigger spray thus avoiding accidental sprays!

              There is a choice of three fragrances:

              Freesia and Jasmine which comes with a green trigger spray,
              Cool Linen and White Lilac - with a white top and
              Wild Lavender and Mountain Breeze with a lilac coloured spray.

              In fact, there were only two available when I bought mine so I chose the Cool Linen and White Lilac.

              I was very impressed by the lightness of the fragrance. The description of the name was quite good as the general scent is rather like fresh washing blowing in the garden. I couldn't really smell anything like white lilac and, as we have those in the garden too I am quite aware of what they smell like, I can imagine that if you are not familiar with the flower there is really nothing to suggest anything else. There is certainly nothing unpleasant or overpowering as you can find in a lot of this type of product. Air Wick says that the fragrances are inspired by water-based botanicals.

              As far as I am concerned, one of the biggest advantages is the trigger spray which is, of course, propellant free. Another bonus is that it is safe to spray on fabrics which can be very useful.

              All in all, I must say that I am very pleased with this product - especially, as I said previously - I am not usually one to buy this sort of thing. If, like me, you are not impressed by highly scented sprays, I would certainly recommend it as it certainly seems to do a satisfactory job of freshening the air!

              I hope that this has been of help and thank you for reading it.

              Hazel

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              • Ancol Dog Beacon / Dog Accessory / 30 Readings / 29 Ratings
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                11.01.2011 12:46
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                High visibility flashing collar tag

                Walking a black dog in the dark can be somewhat hazardous at times, especially if it has a habit of taking off after the local wildlife as mine does! In fact, letting him loose in our rather large garden has it's problems too from time to time when one of the resident foxes decides to put in an appearance at the same time. I have managed to stop him jumping the fences (I hope) but it IS very useful to know exactly where he is.

                A small item that I have found extremely useful is the Ancol Dog Beacon. This is a small flashing tag that you attach to the collar. It's switched on by twisting the body of the tag and flashes red and blue - rather reminiscent of a small police car! It is extremely high visibility - even on my long haired border collie. It is said to be visible up to a quarter of a mile away - barring obstacles between, of course - and this I can well believe. I have to admit that I did have my doubts when I first used it and I couldn't believe that something so small could be so visible but I was so pleased with the results that I bought a second one in case of emergencies. That is, in case the batteries should run out when I couldn't get to buy more!

                Speaking of batteries, it works with three AG3 batteries and the advice is that they should be replaced if the light sequence changes to just a single colour. The item is water resistant for normal dog walking but, of course, this does not include swimming.
                ,
                Having previously had border collies with the more usual markings including a large amount of white they have always been quite visible at night however, the one I have now is predominantly black and although he has a fair amount of white this is mainly underneath and consequently he can disappear into the shadows very easily. I do feel that safety is very important when you are walking a dog and this flashing red and blue light does give an indication that he is around - even though some people may initially wonder what is the cause of the strange lights.

                As I said previously, I have used this more in the garden than anywhere else as he does have a nasty habit of disappearing into the darkness and, being a border collie, thinks it very funny if you are searching the wrong end of the garden. This item has truly put a stop to this and spoilt a lot of his fun I'm sure.

                I bought my Dog Beacon at www.netpetshop.co.uk for £2.87 but according to the Ancol site the recommended price is £3.22 - either way a small price to pay for safety and peace of mind.

                I hope that this will be of use to you, and I thank you for reading it.

                Hazel

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                  21.12.2010 10:59
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                  Helpful website for spare parts etc.

                  I have just noticed that I wrote this review over a year ago - well, I am happy to report that my DIY repair on the washing machine is STILL fine and everything is working well.

                  One other thing I have recently noticed about this website is that you can now make payment via PayPal which can be very useful.

                  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

                  A few weeks ago catastrophe struck - the washing machine wouldn't work! As far as I could judge, there wasn't too much wrong, but the thought of calling out an engineer - and the ensuing costs - filled me with dread. I had worked out that the fault was something to do with the door lock as it had been a little "unwilling" to fasten for some time. Being a safety device, I felt that if it HAD failed it would account for the whole machine not switching on. I decided to try the internet and see if I could find any solutions.

                  On doing a search I was directed to a site: www.buyspares.co.uk . At this point, I was really wondering whether I could find a copy of the manual; - mine having mysteriously gone walkabout! However, whilst there, I had a look to see if there was anything that seemed a possible cause for the problem. Having found what I thought was causing the fault (a door interlock) I then found that I could also find out how to fit this - by way of a video. With the information available, it seemed quite easy enough to do myself (only requiring two screwdrivers) - so I went ahead and ordered the spare part. The order was confirmed and the following day I received an email telling me that it had been despatched. It arrived two days after I ordered it.

                  The website doesn't only cater for washing machines, of course - I would think that you could find practically ANY spare you would need there somewhere. For example: Kitchen Appliances, Washers and Dryers, Floorcare, Garden, Computing, Gaming, Photography, Car, Sound and Vision, Household, etc. They give an indication of how easy or difficult the part can be to fix yourself but also offer their own repair service if you prefer.

                  I have to say that I was VERY impressed with the website and I have found other things that I shall be making further enquiries about at a future date. I was very pleased with the service and speed of my order - and note that they have also given me a discount of 10% should (or when) I order again. Since my order came, I have also received a newsletter from the site and have to admit that I was pleased that I signed up for that as well as It was far more interesting than some you can receive.. There was even help to replace an oven door seal and a competition to win an iPad.

                  No doubt you are wondering what happened with my washing machine. Well, I'm very happy to say that it is working perfectly. The door interlock was fitted by ME - with the aid of two screwdrivers (as they said) - and all for less than £20 - probably less than the call-out charge for a repair man!

                  Will I be visiting the site again? Oh definitely, I'm sure there will be loads of other things where DIY is cheaper than the other option.

                  I hope that this will be of interest and help to you and I do thank you for reading it. I feel that I must say that this review has also been shown on Ciao - which resulted in a very nice message from the website in question which I have visited several times since my initial visit!

                  Hazel

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                  11.11.2010 12:50
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                  Small "clear-up" vacuum cleaner

                  For a long time now I have been looking for a suitable handheld vacuum with which to clean my stairs! It was all reasonably easy when we had a cylinder cleaner but, when we graduated to an upright Vax I had to resort to the brush again.

                  The main problem being with the stairs rather than the vacuum cleaner as they are steep and narrow - but they've been that way for over a hundred years so a change of cleaner is certainly cheaper than a change of stairs!

                  A couple of months ago we came across the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser. As many will know there are five cats in our household so the name of it was attractive to start with! Having also seen it demonstrated, it seemed to fit the required bill very nicely. We have had other vacuum cleaners which I thought would be suitable for the same tasks and have, unfortunately, been thoroughly disappointed - to the extent, in one case, where we exchanged the item. (The replacement is now long gone).

                  I have to say that I have been very impressed with this little cleaner - and yes, it IS little; the approximate measurements being 30cm x 20cm x 10cm and the weight less than 1.8 Kg. This makes it especially easy for cleaning the stair which was, of course, the main reason for getting it. The cable is longer than that on the main cleaner and I can easily clean the stairs with it plugged in either at the top or the bottom - rather than having to change half-way as I have had to previously. There is also a cable "wrap" - a Velcro-type strap - which keeps it in place when not in use.

                  There is a choice of two nozzles, the main one being red and a flexible soft rubbery material. Bissell say that it "works like a magnet" and, in a way, it does as the pet hairs are attracted to it and is ideal for stair carpet and upholstery. The other nozzle is a hard one better for hard surfaces and the car.

                  An added bonus is the inclusion of a HEPA Media filter. Something not often found in such a small item. My only problem with this is that I tend to drop it when I empty the canister, easy enough to replace, of course.

                  If course this is not intended to replace a full sized cleaner but for a quick and easy clean-up it is ideal. It makes a really good job of the stairs and is SO much easier than coming down backwards with a hand brush! Or, for that matter, trying to balance a heavy vacuum cleaner half-way while you change the plus from top to bottom!

                  I would certainly recommend this little machine for anyone who needs something for quick solutions or if, like me, they have problem areas in their house. It will certainly fit in a lot of places where bigger ones would be left wanting.

                  The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser has reduced quite a bit in price since it was first shown at, I believe, £59.99. The latest price I have seen is £29.99 which I think is a bargain for the jobs that it can cover.

                  I hope that you will have found this useful and I thank you for reading.

                  Hazel

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                  • Mikki Moult Master / Dog Accessory / 35 Readings / 35 Ratings
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                    29.10.2010 19:37
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                    Grooming tool designed and used by professionals

                    Grooming a pet can be a really pleasurable task - or something to be dreaded - depending on how your particular pet reacts to it. Fortunately, my animals love it and, having a dog and five cats it means that I can thoroughly enjoy the prospect myself.

                    The Mikki Moult Master is something I came across quite recently and, having seen it demonstrated, I couldn't wait to try it out myself. Having already used many Mikki items I had no doubt that the claims they made would be fulfilled and I wasn't disappointed.

                    To start with the whole appearance of this tool shows that it was designed with ease of use in mind. The handle is ideally suited for the task - black plastic with raised grips on both sides in red - these taking the form of "footprints" on the top.

                    The "comb" (for ease of description) is made of heat treated stainless steel and has dual edged teeth. I'm not sure what this means exactly - but it IS very effective! There is also a "tooth guard" to protect the business end of the tool when not in use. These teeth are very small - about half a centimetre in length - but the idea is that they remove the dead hair from the undercoat, which has been shed but sometimes remains hidden under the top coat. This can often cause problems such as matts and tangles especially in dogs with double coats like my own Border Collie.

                    I have been able to use the Moult Master on Zephyr, the aforementioned Border Collie, and also five cats of varying type ranging from one with long hair to a very large half Siamese. They love it so much that they queue for the attention. Every time I use it I am amazed at just how much hair is removed and the resulting improved appearance as it brings a silky look and feel to each of them even though they appeared fine beforehand.

                    The Moult Master comes in two sizes - small: which is 4.5 cm and medium: 6.5 cm. I have the smaller version which works fine on the cats and my dog. I would think the larger one would be needed for big dogs. It does have a warning that it should not be used on dogs with "wool" coats such as the Poodle, Puli or Bichon Frise.

                    The price seems to vary from place to place but the recommended price seems to be £19.99. I have seen it as much as £23 and less than £10 on Amazon, so it is well worth doing a little shopping around. I was lucky enough to receive it as a gift so I can't give any details of the price I paid. I can say that it is probably the best grooming tool I have had for many years of pet owning and I can well believe the claim that it is designed and used by professional groomers.

                    I hope that this has been helpful to you and I thank you for reading it.

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                    • More +
                      19.11.2009 18:39
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                      Easy to use garden shredder

                      This year I have been kept busy in the garden of late, cutting and pruning some of the many bushes and shrubs I seem to have collected over the years! This has, unfortunately, left me with an ever increasing pile of twigs and branches which the local council don't want to know about unless I cut them to small pieces first!

                      We DID have a garden shredder however; this gave up the ghost in a puff of black smoke some years ago and, apparently, would cost us more to repair than to replace so has consequently sat idle for years just taking up space that could well be used for something more useful!

                      During the past few weeks, we have had quite a bit of rain in our area, having had an extremely dry summer, and the garden has subsequently become somewhat muddy. Whilst pondering this problem recently, I decided that if we bought a new shredder it would solve at least two existing problems - clearing all the debris left from my pruning efforts (apart from the big branches that is) and providing a decent dry material for surfacing the walking areas.

                      After a bit of on-line research we settled on the Bosch AXT 2200 Rapid Electric shredder. It was, by no means, the cheapest on offer, but it DID have some very positive customer reviews. It certainly had a lot of attractive features compared to the old one we had. For one thing it is much lighter - the last one weighed a ton! (A slight exaggeration of course). It also has wheels - oh joy! No more lugging a three legged monster round the garden before you can start!

                      We bought it from Argos for about £154 - unfortunately missing a special offer by a couple of weeks - but gaining a £10 voucher anyway, so it didn't make too much difference. Assembly was easy enough, just a matter of fixing the stand and wheels, which took a few minutes, no more. One thing I found out, when reading the instruction leaflet, is that the cutting blade (apparently laser cut) can be turned around when one side becomes blunted and replaced if and when necessary. They even supply an Allen Key with which to change it.

                      Now to the interesting bit! Cutting - or should I say shredding - is very easy. Of course, you don't expect huge branches to go through but, everything I have attempted so far has been "chewed up" - and "spat out" with great ease. There is even a red plastic "pusher" to help things go through. The blade is not visible as it has a plastic shield - another improvement over that last model we had, as it prevents the shredder throwing bits of twig and branch out the top, which can be hazardous for whoever is using it. I did find it a trifle noisy, but then I really didn't expect it to work in silence. It didn't seem much worse than the paper shredder indoors.

                      As you may have noticed, I am quite thrilled with this machine and look forward to clearing the entire garden with great ease. Would I recommend it? Definitely!

                      I do hope that you have found this helpful and I thank you for reading it.


                      October 2011

                      Having just seen reference to this item in the recent Dooyoo Magazine, I felt that I should make a further comment as to its use. I had lost track of how long it had been in use but I see that my review was written two years ago so that is some indication.

                      Over the last year we have had a lot of "tree work" to contend with in the garden - the main being the death of our ancient apple tree - a remnant of the orchard that was here before the house was built in the early years of the last century! Although the main parts of the tree are far too big for shredding there is plenty there that will be recycled and eventually benefit the garden. Apart from that, there has been the "usual" pruning going on leaving me with a huge pile of debris - I DO tend to get a bit carried away once I start!

                      I have to report that the shredder is working just as well as it was two years ago and, as my last bout of shredding was just two days ago, this is about as up-to-date as you can get! I can't claim that this has been constant use of course but it is regular - providing the weather is reasonable it will be used again in the next few days and I'm sure I'll be as satisfied with the performance as I was when it was new.

                      Would I STILL recommend it? As I said before - DEFINITELY!

                      Thank you again for reading - I hope this has been of help.

                      Hazel

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                        16.11.2009 19:11
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                        Laptop Stand with fan and 4 USB ports

                        Earlier this year, we decided that it would be useful to have a couple of extra USB hubs for the laptop. In fact, we already had four on the machine, but with various attachments; printer, camera, webcam, etc., it would save a lot of changing of plugs. As it was also for use with the laptop, we decided to have a look at the Belkin stand which includes a fan. We had already purchased a stand for the laptop to raise the screen to a better angle and allow the circulation of air around it, but this one certainly seemed to be an improvement, especially with the brand name of Belkin attached!

                        We found the one we were looking for on the Amazon website and, as it seemed exactly what we wanted we put in our order and waited impatiently for it to arrive.

                        I have to say that we were not disappointed. We had ordered it in white (it is also available in black) and it was a very neat article, being approximately 11 inches wide and 11 inches deep. There are four USB 2.0 ports sited at the back and a fan in the base. When the laptop is in situ the front is a good inch above the desk top and the back about two and a half inches. Although there appears to be nothing to hold it in place apart from a suede-like fabric, it seems to be perfectly stable - far more so than it was on the previous stand.

                        It has been a very useful buy and in use every day. The fan DOES make a little noise although no more than any other type of small fan, and certainly not too intrusive when you consider the good it is doing. It also seems to protect by collecting dust - as I found out recently quite by accident!

                        Would I recommend this item? Definitely, if you use a laptop as you certainly don't want it to overheat. The extra hubs are extremely useful too and situated where they are, far more space-saving than having a separate unit.

                        I hope that you have found this useful and I thank you for reading.

                        Hazel

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                          11.10.2009 11:50
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                          • Reliability
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                          Easy to handle camera not TOO basic

                          I have owned this camera now for about eighteen months and at last feel that I am able to comment on its use and behaviour!

                          I decided early last year that the digital camera I had previously owned was a little too "basic" and I started looking around for another that would suit my purposes better. Even so, I really couldn't justify spending a great deal of money, the prices of the ones that I would really have liked being way above my budget. What I did have was an accumulation of Amazon vouchers, so I decided that my first stop would be their camera department. I was pleased to find that they had some very interesting "special offers" - this being one of them.

                          I had previously had experience of Fuji cameras - although not digital - so had no doubts that it would be a good buy and, after due consideration (though NOT asking the advice of my photographer nephew), I put in my order and sat back to await the arrival of the parcel.

                          I have to say that I was suitably impressed by the first sight of the camera which is neat and silver coloured. The approximate size being: 10cm wide, 6cm high and with a depth of 3cm. The power is by way of two AA batteries. I don't intend to go into lots of details about technical properties, suffice it to say it is an 8.3 mega pixel camera which is more than suitable for producing photos of a reasonable size and clarity for most people. It also has a 4 x optical zoom and a 3 x digital zoom - a great treat for me! Also capable of taking movies - I've only done this accidentally, so will not comment further on that subject!

                          Of course it has all the usual features of a "point and shoot" camera - plus a few compared to my previous one, various "modes" being: sport, party, sunset, firework, underwater, etc. I feel that I must also add that I am still discovering some of them - being guilty of not thoroughly reading the owner's manual - yet! However, one of the best features is the play back menu.

                          The one thing I found difficult to get used to was the fact that it doesn't have a viewfinder and you have to use the monitor to set up photos. I have since become very used to doing this, but sometimes find difficulty in very sunny conditions.

                          Transferring photos from the camera to the computer are simplicity itself - plug in both ends and its virtually done!

                          I have been really pleased with this camera especially since having the puppy as I have been able to keep a record of his growth - that is, when I don't miss him as he's gone before I get there. I have also been able to photograph the latest member of our family - my niece's daughter who lives next-door and who will be two next week.

                          By the way, when I DID show my photographer nephew (he actually TEACHES the subject) he approved (to my relief) as said it was the same as some of the cameras used on his various courses.

                          Without going into vast lists of technical details I can think of very little more to say except that I am so glad that I bought it and for anyone not looking for one more complicated it would be ideal. Perhaps a little more technical than a first or basic camera as it has so many features but for anyone "moving on" from that type it would be excellent.

                          I trust that this will be useful to you and I thank you for reading.

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                          • Breville VKJ138 / Kettle / 86 Readings / 77 Ratings
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                            26.03.2009 17:55
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                            Illuminated kettle

                            I have to admit that I was beginning to feel ashamed of my kettle. The gleaming white it had once been was becoming yellow and marked and, no matter what I did, nothing seemed to improve the situation. It was during one of my cleaning episodes that I saw what appeared to be a crack! Sure enough it was - albeit a very small one - but enough to make the kettle leak, which is certainly far from ideal in an electric kettle.

                            So, off to buy a new one! I didn't want another white plastic one and have the same problems again. Admittedly it HAD been an "emergency" buy in the first place and had worked well for being one of the cheaper models. However, I felt I would be happier with a stainless steel one. In my kitchen the size and shape has to be taken into consideration and space is very limited, so I really had a good idea of what I wanted.

                            Unfortunately, the first three I decided were ideal were out of stock, so I can say that the one I finished up with was NOT my first choice, but I can also say that, so far, I have found very little to complain about.

                            The final choice was the Breville VKJ138 an illuminated stainless steel model. Having become thoroughly bored by the whole buying process after my initial choices were unavailable, I was quite unaware that it was an illuminated kettle until I switched it on for the first time! I was busy marvelling that the old kettle had had LED indication that the kettle was on - and I couldn't see any on the more expensive new one - switched on and found that the whole kettle shone blue! Well, the water level indicator windows did anyway. It came as quite a shock - but I WAS rather impressed.

                            I had also been rather disappointed that this kettle was polished stainless steel as I preferred the brushed look. However, I must say that I now feel that it looks better in the kitchen and matches other items better for being polished.

                            The size is the same as I had previously with a total capacity of 1.7 litres. This is actually marked on the water level windows in cups with the minimum being 2 cups and maximum 8. It is described as being "3kW fastboil" and I can say that a full kettle takes approximately three minutes to boil. I didn't think this was as fast as the old kettle but I didn't ever time that one so can't be sure. I can say that the new one is noisier but this is possibly due to it being stainless steel as opposed to plastic.

                            It has all the usual features of a modern cordless kettle. The powerbase has a 360 degree rotation so it can be used with right or left handed people. It has an easy-clean concealed element and a removable anti-scale filter. There is a lid release button on the handle - which is very comfortable to hold - and it has a hinged, locking lid for safety.

                            As a whole, I have to say that I have been very pleased with this purchase which, by the way, was £19.57 at Tesco which, it would seem, is a LOT cheaper than in many other outlets. It pours far better than the previous one (something to be aware of when first in use). It most certainly LOOKS far better but that is to be expected.

                            I hope that this will be of help to you and I thank you for reading.

                            Hazel

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                              17.01.2009 18:49
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                              Storage and back-up for computer

                              We have been concerned for some while about storage on the computer. There are also a lot of things that we would really hate to lose - such as family photos etc. With the arrival of digital photography, it is so easy to download the photos on to the computer and decide to come back later to sort them out or print the ones required at the time. All too often you hear of friends losing everything stored due to a power surge - or some such! During the past couple of years we started saving things to disk - unfortunately, another thing that tends to get put off until you have more time!

                              Last October we were visited by a relative who proudly showed off his latest acquisition - a portable hard drive - complete with ALL the photos that he wanted to show us which he had transferred from his computer.

                              Following his visit, we decided to have a look at similar items on offer. The one we settled on was the Freecom Mobile Drive Classic 250GB. Admittedly, this was partly due to the fact that Amazon, in their wisdom, decided to put it on special offer - which we decided to accept! Once the decision was made and the item ordered we were very impatient for it to arrive.

                              I have to say that we have not been disappointed. Transferring files from the computer couldn't be easier. Just plug in to the USB port (either USB 2.0 or 1.1) and it's ready to go. There is no need for an AC adapter as the power is taken directly from the computer. There is very little noise involved - apparently because it has been designed without a fan. There is an LED capacity indicator in a very attractive shade of blue.

                              This hard drive takes very little room as it measures only 8cm x 14cm x 2cm (approximate measurements). It weighs in at just 300g and comes in a very nice shade of black. It also comes with a manufacturer's warranty of one year.

                              As you may have realised, from the lack of technical data, all this sort of thing means very little to me. Consequently, I feel it is all the more recommendation proving how easy it is to use.

                              All in all, I really do feel that this is well worth buying. You can take it (and the contents of your computer) anywhere - meaning you can also "plug and play" into other computers - so not ONLY a back-up device for your stored files and extra storage but a useful mobile tool as well.

                              I hope that this will have been of use to you and I thank you for reading.

                              Hazel

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                              • canineconcepts.co.uk / Online Shop / 47 Readings / 47 Ratings
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                                11.01.2009 19:55
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                                Shop, training and behaviour advice onone site

                                Having recently become the proud owner of another young puppy, I decided to check out a few new ideas in training. As my previous experiences were fifteen years ago - and longer - I thought it might be interesting to see what new methods were around and decided to browse the internet. One of the first sites I came across was Canine Concepts - www.canineconcepts.co.uk.

                                I must say that I could happily browse this site for hours as there is so much advice and information there. It is the idea of Patricia Hunter who is a full time dog behaviourist so it is not surprising that there are sections for behaviour advice which covers such problems as: aggression, barking, jumping up, chasing the postman and many more. There is also training advice on almost every aspect of training from the earliest puppy training to doing tricks and agility.

                                There is a section on Dog Breed Profiles - which is exactly that. You can look up different breeds and find out what they are like - if you don't already know, that is. Having a new Border Collie didn't really hold any surprises for me - he's the fourth I've had in some forty years. However, it's a very useful section should you be wondering what type of dog would suit your family.

                                Anyway, I found all these sections AFTER I found the shop! There is practically everything you could want with maybe the exception of food - from the smallest of dog whistles to kennels and runs. Collars and leads to padded jackets! If you check out the index you can well believe their claim that there are over 4000 items in stock.

                                Perhaps I should mention that they also have a section for cats - having five myself I couldn't very well miss this part. This part differs slightly as they include a certain amount of cat food as well as the usual beds, climbing frames, toys, etc.

                                Their aim is to deliver to addresses in the U.K. within 1 - 3 business days and if ordered by noon will be despatched the same day. I can confirm this happens as I ordered on the morning of 12th December and by the end of the day I had received not only the confirmation of the order but a very nice email telling me that it had also been despatched by first class mail.

                                Postage and packing charges are £3.85 for orders less than £55 and free for orders more than that. There are a few exceptions where goods are particularly heavy or going to an awkward destination. There are other charges shown for Europe, USA and the rest of the World and for these other destinations they aim to despatch within 3 - 6 business days.

                                If you wish you can also sign up for a monthly update on new products etc.

                                I hope that this is of interest and I thank you for reading.

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