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I bought the basic console only for £317 from Amazon Warehouse - returned it immediately ( there were issues with some of the first models so beware of buying used now - more details below). I next bought a basic console from Tesco for £349. This comes with:
1 Dual Shock Controller
AC Power Cord
Pre-installed game - The Playroom
14 Day free trial Playstation Plus
The first thing you'll need is a game. Expect to spend between £25 - £55 for a new game with used prices being only slightly less. The play room is absolutely brilliant, but you won't be able to play without a camera - and this is going to set you back another £ 50. I bought Killzone used for £20.If you want to be able to play two player or more - you will need an extra controller. I was lucky enough to pick one up for £39 but they normally sell for £44 - £60. You can not use a controller from a PS3.
You will get a 14 day free trial of Playstation Plus, but I got the paid version right away. So all in my PS4 cost £ 479 for the Playstion 4, the camera, the extra controller, one game and 3 months of Playstation Plus.
Playstation is an entertainment centre as well as gaming device. You can play your Bluray DVD's and stream live video. This comes with Netflix and Amazon Prime preinstalled, you only need to enter your account details. The older consoles could stream live video as well - but not like this. My husbands old PS3 was hopeless for watching films, freezing up and needing to reload frequently. My son's newer PS3 was far better, but we still got the circle for loading now and then, and I don't believe the video was the same quality. I watched two films on this last night and the picture was stunning. It was every bit as good as bluray and no skipping, loading etc.. Audio was brilliant as well. This really is a top of the line device for those of you with online video services.
Flashing blue light - won't power up.
Many of the first consoles shipped had a problem with the hard drive. The issue has been resolved and does not affect newer shipments. Be warned though, the faulty models can play perfectly well for limited periods of time, then freeze. They may turn back on and they may not, leaving you with a worthless lump of electronics. Be very cautious if buying used.
There were many other things I wanted to describe here, The Playroom games, the new controller, ease of upgrading, energy usage and more but there wasn't room. I have posted a far more complete review on ciao under my user name Marge3781
My house is a bit like a library. I have 9 bookcases at last count and for the most part, if you were name a subject, I would have a book. My son recently pointed out though that we did not have any books about fish except for a couple of more general Ocean books and a few on tropical fish. We had been reading about prehistoric ocean life, and he wanted something about modern ocean life, and sadly I came up short. A quick visit to Amazon and we had a wealth of books to choose from, but my son wanted this one. It isn't really age appropriate, especially as this was bought for my youngest child, age 5, but this was what he wanted, and the photographs in the preview did look beautiful so I gave in. I am glad I did. This book really does have something to offer almost everyone.
Once again, we did judge this book by its cover, but it would be hard not to. The cover displays a remarkable variety of creatures and the detail is absolutely stunning. It gives the reader a good taste of what is to come, as this book is packed with an incredible variety of life, from the microscopic viruses and bacteria to the mighty blue whale. This does have fish, but not nearly as many as we were expecting. This isn't a complaint, my son was enthralled with the vast array of animals depicted. In fact with a few notable exceptions, the microscopic life forms seemed to fascinate him the most, but don't worry, there are plenty of fish as well, and some very unusual ones at that.
Citizens of the Sea is divided into 12 chapters. These cover a myriad of topics including the naming of living things and classification of life, how animals stand out, or hide from others, the senses of different marine animals and levels of intelligence, getting around, growing up in the ocean, the variety of oceanic habitats, finding a meal, safety in numbers and reproduction and more. I have to admit I was a bit concerned by the title of the chapter on reproduction - Sex and the Sea, but the pictures don't really show anything, and even the text isn't really graphic.
This book is written for adults, and it is a bit text heavy for a child as young as my son. I found that he enjoys this more if I just show him the pictures and tell him a bit about most of the species. However, despite the fact that this book conveys quite a lot of scientific information, it is easy enough for most children to understand. at age 9 my oldest can easily read a page on a species of interest and understand completely. Even at age 5, when my youngest has wanted to hear the whole the page, he is able to understand most of it, although at times he will need a little help with something, and when I read a word I know he won't understand , such as aperture, I tell him what it means as I go along or simply replace it with vocabulary more appropriate to his age.
As wonderful as the text is though - the photographs are what attracted us to this book, and it is the photos that make this book such a treasure. This book contains, without a doubt, the most fascinating and stunning pictures of marine life I have ever seen. This book is printed on a very high quality, thick gloss paper, which allows the photos to be reproduced in the highest possible standard. The pictures are incredibly sharp and clear, and the old saying a picture paints a thousand words really rings true here. Even if a child could not read at all, and had no adult to read this to them, I think they would learn so much about the biodiversity of our oceans just by looking at the pictures, and the pictures are so fascinating - I doubt many children could resist pouring through this. It is difficult to choose a favourite among so many incredible shots, but the picture of a fish with a see through head has to be top of the list. We also loved the sea dragon, many of the microscopic things like a newborn transparent lobster, a basking shark with an open mouth and the coelacanth. There are not many photos with the potential to upset children, but I will warn there is a fairly gruesome one of elephant seals fighting and another photo of a killer whale about to eat a seal.
I do feel that any adult who enjoys reading about nature is certain to be delighted by this book, but I also feel this could be a good choice for many children as well. While my youngest does love this book now, I feel he will get much more from it as the years go by and I think this is something we will come back to over and over as the years go by. It is certain to be treasured by anyone, regardless of age with an interest in marine life, but it may very well spark an interest in those who have not been fascinated by this subject before. I think it is a wonderful resource for any home, but especially those with young children as this may be just the thing to awaken your child to lifelong interest in the oceans.
I believe I paid about £12 for this from The Book Depository. Amazon is currently selling this for £19.99, but new copies can be bought from amazon Marketplace for roughly £12 still. The Book Depository strangely lists this as out of stock, and yet is listed as having it in stock as a Marketplace seller. I've found in the past when this happens that I end up waiting a week or two before getting an email to tell me it is out of stock - so I'd suggest another seller. I really feel that I have had value for money from this book, and it has been worth every penny spent, especially when I consider the fact that this is something we will certainly read again and use as reference source. Even if I had paid the full £20, I would be happy enough with this, but of course I'd rather pay less. I have noticed the best deals on Amazon are all from the USA, so if you are interested in this book and in no hurry I would suggest buying from one of these. If you are in a rush though, ebay does have new copies in the UK from £13.29 with free delivery at the time of writing.
I've always worried a bit buying plants online. I've ended up with a few crushed beyond recognition in the post. But, we love the unusual, and the type of plants we buy are usually completely unheard of in chain stores and local nurseries, so I take my chances online. I have found one retailer though whom I would completely trust to send me a healthy specimen packaged in such a way as to sustain no damage whatsoever in transit - Jurassicplants Nurseries in North Wales.
Jurassicplants has the catchy slogan "Standing the test of time". This certainly applies to the plants I bought from them - all plants which flourished in the Mesozoic Era. Many scientists freak out at the term living fossil, as this is a bit of an oxymoron, but these are living specimens very much like, if not identical to the plants that grew at the time the dinosaurs roamed the earth. We collect these as my son has a keen interest in paleobotany, but also because they are beautiful and unique plants.
Jurassicplants only has a few varieties of plants which are actually from the Mesozoic. This is fair enough, there really are not that many left around, and they only sell what they can grow in wales. This gives me a real advantage over buying foreign seeds. Yes I can buy seeds for anything online, but will they grow? In all honesty I've had pretty poor luck with many of our attempts to grow unusual plants from seed. Buying from Jurassicplants guarantees you a plant that will grow in our lovely British climate. Not only is it capable of growing here, the individual plant you buy will have been growing happily in their nursery before shipping.
But if recreating scene from Jurassic Park isn't your thing, this nursery still has plenty to offer any one looking for something unusual. They have a good selection of trees for Bonsai, edible ornamentals, unusual trees and shrubs for smaller gardens, scented plants for winter months and plants for a colourful autumn in addition to the prehistoric plants. Of course they do not always have every species available at any time of year, but they are quite happy to help - so if you need help, visit their facebook page or drop them an email.
You can buy directly from their shop page, or from ebay. I've noticed they may have different stock available on ebay, for instance I can not find their Living Fossil Tree Collection (1 Ginkgo, 1 Araucaria and 1 Metasequoia tree ) on their website but you can buy all three for £12.90 + £5.60 postage on ebay. These are fairly rare and expensive plants, especially the Metasequoia, so this price is very fair. I would check both the main website and ebay before purchasing to see which has the best bargain, but the main site is well worth spending some time on even if you do buy through ebay.
If you buy through the main site you have the option of debit, credit card or paypal. If you choose ebay your only payment option is Paypal. I chose Paypal I prefer this method for buying online with anyone but Amazon. Postage is by Royal Mail first class and the plants are incredibly well packaged ( although it did take us ages to get them out). I would never say it would be impossible for the Royal Mail to damage anything. Run this over with a lorry and I suspect it would be destroyed, but this company ahs a very generous guarantee that evene if the plant arrives in good condition and you kill in 30 days they will still supply a new plant - assuming of course some level of care. I doubt having the plant eaten by the new puppy qualifies.
I have two beautiful Dawn Redwood or Metasequoia seedlings and a Ginko Biloboa, as well as a package of seeds for Cycas Revolutas. I have wanted bonsai tree since the Karate Kid first came out ( OK laugh if you want but they are beautiful and so inspiring of peace and tranquillity) so one Dawn Redwood is destined to become a Bonsai. The other Dawn Redwood and Ginko Biloboa are destined to join our prehistoric garden, a special collection of plants from the time of the dinosaurs. The Ginko has special meaning to s for other reasons as well - due to its status as the Peace Tree, but more on that later. I would really love to have the cycads in the dinosaur garden as well, but as they are meant to be both appealing to pets and toxic, they will go in hanging baskets out of reach. These are incredible plants though and well worth adding to your collection if possible.
All of the plants arrived in perfect condition, green fresh and without the slightest bit of damage or shock. They came in small pots as opposed to the cheaper bare root method of shipping, with little bamboo like supports, extra ties if needed, plant food and instructions. There is also the option to send you plants gift wrapped, but as we were buying these for ourselves there was no point in this. The company does offer international postage, and plants sent to a third party as well, but not having tried this, I can't say much about it. The owner was also very kind in answering my questions and extremely helpful.
My sons are over the moon with the new trees, in fact they almost treat them like pets and give this company 5 stars out of 5. I am giving it the same, with the notation that this is one of those special companies where we really should have a five star + option. I would very heartily recommend them and will certainly check their site first before buying more unusual plants. My only wish is that they would do carnivorous plants too, but they seem to specialise in plants best adapted to British weather, which the carnivorous plants really are not. I'd love to see a few additional dinosaur plants as well, but they might be able to get them. I didn't ask I already have these plants. I've added additional information below about the plants we bought and my suggestions for a dinosaur garden.
GINKO BILOBOA - THE PEACE TREE - DINOSUAR TREE - JURASSIC TREE
The Gingko has not only survived all five mass extinction events, it has also survived mankind's first attempt at a manmade mass extinction event - nuclear war. Six Ginko Biloboas survived the Hiroshima nuclear bomb. From what I can gather, the closest survivor was outside a Buddhist temple 1,130 metres from ground zero. The temples was completely destroyed as was almost everything around it, but shortly after the blast these trees began to bud, bringing forth new life in the middle of so much death. They are still there, as the Japanese have built around them. The Biloboa was sacred before the war, in fact Buddhist Monks are credited with keeping the species going for last 1,000 years, but now it has become a symbol of peace. For us, it also shows that hope goes on, through the darkest and most bitter times, and life and joy do spring again.
Beyond its significance as an international symbol of peace now, the Gingko also has the unique honour of being one of the oldest species on the planet. This isn't the exact tree which grew before the dinosaurs roamed the earth in the Permian, but it is close. And it is the exact tree that grew during the Jurassic period. Individual specimens can live 1,500 - 2,000 years depending on which source you believe and can grow into large shade trees, or be kept as tiny Bonsai. This a beautiful and unique specimen well worth considering for any garden.
METASEQUOIA GLYPTOSTROBODIES - THE DAWN REDWOOD
I believe I have this plant as a fossil, from the Cretaceous era. It was quite common then. How wonderful for my son to be able to hold the 70 million year old fossil in one hand, and the living tree in the other. This is one of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen, I can understand why the children love it so much. It is also quite unique in that it is a conifer, but it is also deciduous. It loses it's greenery every winter. I can also see now why they call it redwood. The wee stick really is a lovely reddish shade with the most beautiful contrast of little green buds. These are commonly kept as Bonsai, but once again, this can make a very large garden tree if you wish. It was thought to have been extinct before a small forest of these was discovered in 1941 in China. After the war a famous American paleobotanist made an Indian Jones style trek of 10,000 miles up the Yangtze river to bring back this rare treasure.
CYCAS REVOLUTAS OR SAGO PALM :
This is a really weird looking plant often depicted in children's dinosaur books, so it will be familiar to any budding young palaeontologist. It is native to Southern Japan and looks very tropical but is able to live here as a houseplant or outdoors. It is however meant to taste quite nice which is a very bad thing with highly toxic plants. You must not grow this indoors if you have babies, toddlers or pets, and if you wish to grow it in a garden - it must be someplace completely inaccessible to pets.
YOUR OWN DINOSAUR GARDEN :
My oldest has wanted to be a palaeontologist since he was three years old. My youngest is also fascinated with all things prehistoric so we have collected fossils for some time. These are wonderful, but of course the children wish they could see what these plants and animals looked like in life. In most cases this will be impossible - of course I don't mind missing out on seeing the huge carnivores in the flesh, but there really is something magical about being able to see and touch the plants the dinosaurs ate, the plants which we can see fossils of, and the survivors of the extinction events. Something about living through these events reminds my sons there is always hope no matter how horrible the event and the mass extinctions were catastrophic beyond are wildest imagination for the creatures who lived then.
Unfortunately, most of the survivors are large, but they can stay small if kept potted. If you are considering a Mesozoic Garden, the first three plants I would look for are the three included in Jurassicplants Living Fossil Collection : The Dawn Redwood, The Arucana, or Monkey Puzzle Tree and the Ginkgo.
I have also collected the following living fossils,a lthough some debate whether there has been any slight DNA change on some of these - I'm not really worried, they look like the plants from the dinosaurs period so they make a perfect dinosaur garden. Our plants include:
The Tree Fern or Dicksonia Antartica, The Horsetail or Equisetum, The common Liverwort, unfortunately I have only been able to source the fully aquatic version (I can't find the terrestrial version for sale anywhere - only chemicals to kill it with) Rose of Jericho or Resurrection plants, and of course common algae and lichens. I have also included common ferns, although I am uncertain if the exact species I have would have grown then and I am debating adding grasses. Of course all the old books tell us grasses didn't evolve until after the cretaceous extinction but the new fossil evidence showing 5 different species of grasses in one dinosaur poop from 70 mya has blown this theory out of the water. A few model dinosaurs or giant bugs will really finish off the garden - or if you are growing these as houseplants you might consider adding an ant farm - another group of living fossils, triops or giant roaches, but I will certainly pass on the last of these. You could also grow triops in a small pond or container outdoors in the garden, as their life span is quite short. Whatever you decide to add - a dinosaur garden will bring the past to life for your little ones.
We tend to be a rather odd family with unusual tastes. My sons are only ages 5 and 9, but they often ask for very unusual books. And interest in rock collecting led to an interest in the elements, but there really isn't much age appropriate material for such young children, so I did what I often do in such situations, I bought an adult book with beautiful illustrations, read it myself and then paraphrased the basic information. In all honesty I was afraid this was going to be very boring, but I was surprised by just how fascinating some of this information is.
This book is titled "The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Atom in the Universe". That title might be a b it presumptuous. It is in fact every known element in the Universe, but the possibility of finding more still exists, and in fact three elements are included only with the temporary symbol and number on the back page with a big " ?" in place of a picture, and no detailed information is provided. The author does make clear that more elements may yet be discovered - and I strongly believe the will be.
Each element is presented in a two page spread., listed in order by their place on the periodic table. Almost every one has a beautiful colour picture on the left side, with the element name, element symbol and atomic number. Sadly radium and the last few elements do not have photos, and I was rather disappointed by this until I actually came to the end of the book and realised most of these are very unstable and not around long enough for many photos. However Curium Cm 96 could have been shown, as I've found a number of pictures online. This is my only complaint with this book though, and it is a minor one. The photographs are truly stunning, and would make this book worth buying even if I had been unable to understand the text at all, as I was very much afraid would be the case. - " Here this may be too much for your little brain - but you can look at the pretty pictures - LOL ". Thankfully that did not prove to be the case. The right page for each set has a few more pictures, often of the items that contain the element such as an atomic bomb for uranium, coins and jewellery for gold, a skull for calcium and that nasty pink medicine, Pepto Bismal for the beautiful element, Bismuth. At least now I know how it got its name. The best part though is the text is written in such a way that child really can understand it - and so can I. It isn't the type of book that my children would read cover to cover, but if we are looking up a particular element, my 9 year old is capable of understanding the vast majority of this, and my five year old needs only a little extra help if I do choose to read the book word for word to them. I do often tell them only the parts that will interest them. More technical information is included in a strip at the far right hand side with things like atomic weight, density, atomic radius crystal structure etc..
In addition to the material on each individual element, there is a good basic introduction to the periodic table explaining very well how and why certain elements are grouped together. I have no background at all in chemistry and really appreciated this. The author does not talk down the reader, or treat us like morons, but he does keep everything in layman's terms and he writes in such a way that the reader does not need any background in the sciences whatsoever to read and understand this book. In fact I'm really not sure who would benefit from this book more, some one with almost no knowledge of the subject like myself who can find every page a new discovery, or a reader with an advanced knowledge of chemistry who may grasp things I never thought of. Regardless of who might get the most from this book, I really would recommend it to anyone with an interest in what things a re made of and how the world works, whether old or young, well educated, or still learning. This is a wonderful resource for home education, but I think it would be brilliant for any family to help children and teenagers, or even university students understand and enjoy this area of science, or simply to satisfy idle curiosity. While my children do enjoy this book now, I think they will take more and more from this over the years, and I can't imagine selling this ever. It is one of those nice reference books that is nice to keep on hand for a lifetime.
This book is currently for sale on Amazon at £13.95. I am pretty sure I bought it through amazon Marketplace or Warehouse deals for £2 less, and you can still do the same. Used books are slightly higher in price than new. This is an expensive book, but it is quite large, absolutely beautiful, surprisingly fun to read - and extremely educational. In light of all this, I feel it is well worth the price and would be happy to recommend it to almost anyone. I would note that this book is also fairly large. The children have my measuring tape again so I stole the dimensions from Amazon : 25.3 x 25.3 x 1.5 cm, but this could make a nice coffee table book - if you don't have ants, lego , plants and a book eating parrot on your coffee table like I do :)
We make a gingerbread house ever year. It is a tradition in our house. We've tried a few different types, from a box kit to an all chocolate one, but the children have made very clear it doesn't count if it isn't real gingerbread. For awhile I made do drawing out paper patterns and cutting them out of dough, but my sons have taken over more and more of the actual baking and assembly and I wanted to make things easier this year. In fact this was the most difficult year ever, but that is primarily my fault for mixing up the walls with the roof panels. Naturally it didn't fit - I ended up breaking a roof piece, had to bake a whole new batch of parts and by then the royal icing used to stick bits together had hardened like rock making lining the parts up very difficult. I used so much icing to stick the thing together it must have weighted half a stone, but in the end we had a lovely house for the boys to decorate and even if no one ever eats the things, the look on my sons face made it all worthwhile.
This kit is very simple. The description says you get 12 cutters, but I count 10 of which you really only need four, but the others are nice extras. You get the basic house shape for the front and back of the house, or if you don't feel like making the whole house, you can make these on their own to decorate, a smaller rectangle for the walls and a larger one for the roof - you need to cut two of each of these shapes for the house. Then you get a gingerbread man, a snowman and a Christmas tree - all of which can be used on their own as well. Finally, a square window, a rectangle for doors and two pieces to make the chimney.
You do not get any of the ingredients, or any recipes. I wouldn't expect ingredients with this type of set, but a recipe would have been a nice touch. Still- I most likely would not have used it anyway but would have gone for an easy to bake American version with cups instead of weights. You must be certain to find a recipe for gingerbread houses rather than just gingerbread cookies or biscuits though as the dough needs to be stiffer. I've tried this with sugar cookie dough and the paper cut outs before to make a haunted house and it simply did not work at all, forcing me to use gingerbread and my husband to eat lots of crumbled house bits . Christmas of course has to be gingerbread. It wouldn't be Christmas without the wonderful scent of ginger and cinnamon throughout the house. A set of instructions might have been handy as well. I would say a complete idiot could figure this out on their own - except for the fact that I got it all wrong. Had there been a drawing showing the pieces and what part of the house they were meant to be - I might have read them and avoided the great gingerbread disaster of 2013.
My husband bought this and I'm not certain of the price but I think it was £7. unfortunately Lakeland does not have these in stock at the moment and the only one on ebay is a whopping £17 which I feel is a bit steep. Still if you use it year after year it may be worthwhile. Of course most people do only use these at Christmas, but they do make brilliant Halloween Houses too - you just need to add a few different decorations. For Christmas we frost the roof , around the windows and the doors. Then we stick small sweets all around it. The house rests in a bed of white icing as snow. One year one of the boys added a pool of yellow snow under the gingerbread man with yellow decorators icing. For Halloween it is black icing with orange trim, bats ghosts etc... It would also make a beautiful Spring House with Easter bunnies, green tinted coconut shreds as a lawn and jelly bean eggs hidden throughout the cottage garden. You an also make the shapes with clay and a make a permanent house if you wish, or cardboard for a fun decoration.
The cutters themselves appear to made of stainless steel. They are good quality, easy to use, would not bend easily and can be washed in a dishwasher taking care to keep the tiniest parts n the cutlery basket. There are no signs of rust, but I have owned these less than a year.
This didn't make things any easier this year, but that was my own fault for not really thinking about which pieces should go where. I will use these again - and not just at Christmas. For all my mumbling and grumbling and wishing they'd just outgrow the whole gingerbread house tradition when everything was going wrong, once all was said and done, the finished house and the look on my little one's face as he completed it made one of those memories which will last a lifetime. I hope they never outgrow the gingerbread houses now. It is a part of Christmas for us and a tradition I whole heartedly recommend taking up if you haven't tried it yet yourself.
I have heard some real horror stories about pedigree dog food, and I know a lot of people hate it. I could tell my own horror story as I was once given a dog very near death in large part from a pedigree chum only diet. The poor dumb owner had not realised how much of this food was water, so the dog was literally starving to death on one tin a day ( and I suspect some days this was forgotten altogether). He was kept outdoors with no shelter so needed more calories to fight the cold as well. I didn't keep the dog. He hated women and never took to me but within a few of a weeks of a proper diet he was well on the road to recovery, within 2 months he was rehomed fit as a fiddle. I honestly don't know how many of the horror stories you read online are true, but I do not believe this is balanced or healthy diet - so why would feed it to my dog? In short, I think most things are OK in moderation. My dog does really enjoy this, and it is easy to keep a tin in the cupboard for the occasional time when I don't have any real meat to add to her dinner. My dog is always given dry mixer, with various table scraps including a small portion of any meat cooked in the house that day, or perhaps a good serving of cheese. At times I have meat bought specifically for the dog - often liver, kidney, heart or chicken leg quarters which can be bought already cooked at 8 for £2 at a local butcher and have enough meat to do two days in pinch.
Tora gets on average two tins a month of this. She might get a bit more when we go to the caravan, or when we have had a lot of hospital visits, but then she might go two months or more in the winter without a single tin. If this fed only occasionally, she does seem to really enjoy it. I would usually only feed her a half tin per day, as she is not a huge eater, and she always has some people food, plus dry food, so when she does get this, it is usually two days in a row. Anything over three days and she seems to take offense, lifting the chum out of the dish and depositing it on the kitchen floor to show her disgust, but she isn't big on many foods too many days in a row. My first dog of my own, which I got at age 14, had a half a tin of this every day and was happy enough with it, but he didn't have as much to choose from. I worked odd jobs and spent most of my pocket money to see to it that he always had some meat with his dinner, and thought I was doing a really good thing. he died of cancer at age though, so maybe I wasn't. Tora is an exceptionally fussy eater - and all of my other dogs have enjoyed the odd tin of this as well, so I do think it is something most dogs used to dry food would see as treat.
I know many people will disagree with me - as this isn't a popular food among doggie fanciers, but I do feel this is fine as occasional treat, or the odd quick meal for a dog. I do not think any dog should have this as their primary source of nutrition. I'm not one for listing ingredients, but in this case I feel it is important so here goes. the ingredients given are for the chicken in jelly recipe, as this the one in my cupboard at the moment. All the jellied recipes are basically the same though with the only change being whatever flavour the food is meant to be will have a minimum of 4% that type of meat. So where does the other 96% of the food come from?
Meat and animal derivatives 42 % - minimum chicken 4%
Legally the term animal derivatives allows a manufacturer to use any type of meat, and it will usually be what the supplier can get cheapest - but it is not all meat - it can include any by product of the slaughtering house as well by law. To be honest - I don't know exactly what by products are used, and I doubt many other consumers do either, but it could be innards, hair, hoof, bone, heads hooves etc.. Pedigree claims that it only uses fresh meats, and uses this term to allow them to use "the freshest meats available". In reality I suspect it the cheapest meats available, but they point out - no animals are slaughtered for the production of pedigree. It is made from the left over parts humans don't want. Now that isn't to say it all bad. I often buy heart as most people don't want to eat it anymore and it can be sourced for very little money, but still makes a good occasional, if very rich pet food. Tripe is fine for dogs as well, but Tora doesn't like it. The problem is - we really don't know exactly what is in the tin - but that is probably true of the sausage and bargain burgers we buy for human consumption as well. On the plus side, many people may feel more comfortable feeding their pet a meat that did not directly cause the death of another animal. On the negative side - many of us do feel uncomfortable feeding the dog what is in effect, garbage.
Cereals - derivatives of vegetable origin: Again, this is usually the waste products from human food production
That is really all there listed under ingredients. There is a very minimal amount of sugar beet pulp (0.7 %) and of sunflower oil ( 0.5 %). I was really surprised that there were no preservatives listed - but then I noticed the additives section just across from the ingredients. T I immediatly suspected all teh long and awkward sounding chemical names of being awful perservatives, but they all turned out to be mineral supplements, like copper, zinc and iron. There is one other additive 1960 milligrams of cassia gum added as a gelling agent, but there still were not any preservatives. Now I've read a lot of nasty stuff about the preservatives in pedigree tinned food, and I know there used to be other chemicals at one time, but this tin doesn't list even one. I spent ages looking this up, and Pedigree no longer uses any preservatives in their tinned food. So everything on the web in this regard is either dated or hearsay. Of course it isn't nearly as bad as the old story that they were using dead cats and dogs - also complete rubbish.
Look and smell - for some reason when I was pregnant - this smelled delicious. I never did yield to the temptation to try it, but it smelled quite nice and meaty. It was probably something to do with the fact that I was seriously anaemic, to the point of having IV iron supplements, but it smelled lovely. My father used to really enjoy sandwiches made of this many years ago ( my mother maintained that he would eat anything while drunk and always demanded everything in the house - she might as well save a few quid as he certainly drank the money up fast enough - he never knew what she fed him, but years later asked if my mother still got that lovely tinned sandwich meat and didn't understand our laughter. He wanted to know the brand so he could buy it himself. But whether the recipe is the same or not - I don't know - nor if it would have tasted nearly as nice sober. I do know it was sold under a different name then.
Now without the influence of pregnancy, I don't find this appealing. But it isn't a horrible smell and it really doesn't smell much different from some of the sandwich pastes my husband eats. It is a bit jellied looking, and it doesn't look as nice as freshly cooked meat, but it isn't bad, and the smell is not overly powerful. I would note that if you feed to much of this though, the smell the dog produces later may be very powerful indeed. Too much tinned food does lead to gas.
So overall, I don't think this food is nearly as terrible as it has been made it out. It does have a very high moisture content, so a dog would need a lot more tinned food than dry - and they will poop more too. I do have my reservations about the quality of animal derivatives, but this is on all the tins of dog food we have tried. I have also seen many dogs with every tooth in their mouth rotted away from a tinned food only diet, and no matter what anyone says, I will never believe this a complete and balanced food without any additional food. I feel a good quality dry food should form the main portion of a dogs diet, with additional table scraps and meat. But dogs do enjoy tinned food far more than dry, and I think a balance can easily be struck. Adding a small amount of tinned food gives the dog variety and a much more enjoyable meal than dry alone. I would never recommend that anyone feed a dog a diet of 50% or more tinned food, but if no one in the house ate meat, I'd be happy enough to feed this much more often, and as an occasional treat, I see nothing wrong with this.
Rather then use a cook book, I make many recipes with the old a bit of tis and bit of that method. It works for simple foods like soups, stews and pastas, even a loaf of bread but some things like biscuits that retain their shape after baking or a gingerbread house are hard enough even with more exact measures. Where cooking by tastes won't work, I use online recipes. Many of the recipes I use are American, especially for things like biscuits or cookies. One of the few cookbooks I own to make KFC style chicken is American as well. I had a plastic measuring jug from Tesco for years, but this has become old and cracked. Rather than just buy a new jug, I chose these as they are brilliant for teaching fractions as well.
This set of four measuring cups has only the most basic measures : 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup. and 1/4 cup. This should be more than adequate for most recipes, as anything under 1/4 cup is usually given in tablespoons, but if you should need 1/8 cup it would be easy enough to guess half of the 1/4 cup. From a maths teaching perspective, I would have loved a few more cups with different fractions, but nearly every set I looked at had only the 4 sizes. I found one which did include a 1/8 cup, but it was much more expensive and made of plastic. I prefer the metal.
If I were to guess, I would have guessed that these were made of aluminium. The light colour and very light weight make me think of old aluminium milk pans I owned years ago. they are however stainless steel, and this was a plus for me when I was buying these. I no longer use aluminium cookware. I don't believe everything I read online, but I do believe aluminium poses some health risks and we get enough it in our diets already, I'd rather use less. I won't go into any health risks as these are all hotly debated and other forms of cookware pose other risks, but you can look it up yourself if you wish. My other problem with aluminium is that it dents or bends easily. Stainless steel can be smashed as well, but it is a lot more difficult. These appear to be very well made. The metal handle looks welded on, and this seems very sturdy. These all cam hooked together on a very simple key ring. They are now loose in a drawer. I would have preferred an easy to open an close attachment to hang them together, but it isn't a major issue. I keep asking my husband to put little hooks up as I feel this would be an ideal way to store these. I've had a large number of items sold as stainless steel rust. I know they are not meant to rust, but they often do. I've only had these cups for about 6 months, but so far there are no signs of rust, or any other sign of wear.
I find these very easy to use, and so do my children. Even my five year old can easily mix ingredients if I read a recipe out to him, and my nine year old can make basic recipes without any adult assistance with these. There is a slight lip built into the cup making it easy to pour without spilling - but of course children usually do manage to spill anyway. They love "spilling" flour up into the air to watch it come down as snow, and in general when cooking - the messier the better. But even I can usually pour from these without spilling, and the children can if they really want to. I think this makes cooking much easier for children than weights and measures, but there was another reason I wanted measuring cups for my sons. My oldest has done fractions over and over, and he kept forgetting some aspects. Cooking with measuring cups allows a child to really see and touch the difference between fractions and with a bit of creativity, you can easily make a recipe into a maths equation. For instance I might present my son with a recipe and ask him to double, triple or even quadruple it or cut in half, down to a third or even quarter. This is the only thing that has ever seemed to make multiplying and dividing fractions make sense to him - and we haven't had a problem with them since. With my youngest son - I might ask him to measure out a cup of some ingredient, but purposely lose the 1 cup measure. Instead, he needs to measure out the required amount using smaller measures. I'm not really teaching him fractions yet, at least not by the book, but he has a pretty good grasp of them of them from cooking and dividing up foods.
These sell for £5.49 from Amazon and are eligible for free super saver delivery on orders over £10. I feel this was a very reasonable price and I am very happy with these wee cups, and the children like them as well. I only wish I had bought them sooner. I think my oldest would have found fractions easier if we had been using these from the beginning and they'd make a grand baby toy for stacking and banging as well.
I've never been a big fan of Marks and Spencers. I haven't been in the shop in years and the last time I did visit, I felt uncomfortable with a hovering salesperson. I'm not impressed by labels either. I really couldn't care less what name tag is on my clothing, I just want good comfortable clothes that last. Per Una provides just that.
I have owned a fewpairs of per una jeans, in fact I rarely buy anything else now. I still have the first pair I ever bought when I was searching for something comfortable and a bit stretchy after giving birth to my oldest son, now age 9. The fad at the time was for those super low cut jeans that let everything hang out if you bent over, and no way I was wearing those in public. I'd rather have stayed in my maternity clothes. The jeans are faded now, but after being my favourite pair of jeans for many years, and still worn on regular basis, I'd expect that after 9 years. But the fabric is till intact - no holes in the knees like most of my cheaper pairs of jeans, the seams are still in good condition and the zipper still works perfectly. I hope to get at least another 3 -4 years out of them.
I like Per Una Jeans because they have a higher waist than most, meaning you don't have to worry about your knickers being on display, or worse builders bum. I really couldn't see how that was fashionable for anyone, but all the more so for older women who have already had children. I'm happy to see the super low waist bands aren't as popular anymore, but I still think Per Una is a bit higher than most. The jeans also come in long, short and medium which has been quite helpful for me as I tend to need a longer length than most, and whole I don't mind showing off my socks as much as my knickers, it still looks unsightly to have your trousers and inch or two short.
Per Una look just regular jeans, but they have 1% elastine. It doesn't sound like much, but it makes a huge difference. There is no gap at the back when you sit down, and no matter how you move, these fit perfectly. If you put on or lose a bit of weight, they still fit as they are the fabric just adjusts itself. I know it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. But the best part is how soft and comfortable these feel. After my second son was born by emergency C section - these were the only trousers I could wear for months besides sweats - and while I don't mind sweats around the house, after you've had a baby you do want to wear something decent now and again. I had some major complications, so it was months before the incisions healed ( I had two - no idea why). Per Una was brilliant - the jeans were also grand in the early stages of pregnancy. But whether you have children or not, these are quite simply, the most comfortable jeans in the world, and they do wear very well.
I have since bought four more pairs of per una. One pair was used and I would guess a good few years old when I bought them. I've had all of them roughly 5 years or more and they form the main part of my wardrobe, but only the 9 year old pair and the one other used pair really show any signs of wear.
The downside to Per Una is that you can only buy it at Marks and Spencer or online. They are also moderately expensive. Prices range from £29.50 - £39.50 with Marks and Spencers. I prefer the Roma Bootcut which is thankfully the cheapest. I have found them on ebay several times though from £10 - £12 for a new pair of jeans, and this is how I have bought most of my jeans. I am not usually one to spend a lot of money on myself, but after taking into consideration how long these jeans last, I do feel they may work out cheaper in the long run than most bargain brands, even Primark. It also means less waste for the landfill.
I have tried to look up Marks and Spencer's ethics, but haven't found much. There was an issue with sweatshop labour in India, but this was four years ago. I do know they use fair trade cotton, but have been unable to find further details on working conditions for their factories.
In addition to jeans, per una makes a whole range of clothing. I have only ever bought one other item though, a lovely T-shirt, which I washed with new jeans and stained terribly after the first use. Sadly it has been resigned to being worn around the house or under other clothes, but it is still in excellent condition other than the staining after perhaps 8 years. I do like many of their other items, they seem to have sensible but stylish clothes suited to a wide range of ages, but most are too expensive for me.
My son had an absolutely brilliant ant farm. the antosphere, but sadly it began to fall apart after a years use. The plastic bits that connected to the tubes started to snap off, and the whole set up was impossible to move. My husband pretty well finished it off moving it to set up Christmas lights this year, so we started to search for another any farm. To buy another three antosphere sets at the time was going to cost me over £80, a bit much for an ant farm. They have since dropped in price again, but we really were hoping for something that would last a bit longer. My son chose this because he liked the looks of it. It is currently £24.72 on amazon, but I paid a bit less as I bought this on Amazon Warehouse deals.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
Plastic base with three small planting sections and a place to put the ant farm.
plastic ant farm with lid
plastic ant maze
3 clear containers with lids for collecting
thin plastic rod
five circles of peat which expand in water
a sticker for the back of the maze
gel base - which turns out to be ordinary agar
WHAT'S NOT IN THE BOX
Ants - they suggest collecting ants but fail to mention that the only species of ant you can keep in a gel colony is the Messor Barbarus or harvester ant. To the best of my knowledge this ant is not native to Britain, but I may be wrong. You can a buy a colony for £50 on ebay though. I think my husband might murder me if I spent £50 on ants though. They are also very large, too large in fact for this set up and prone to biting. Gel ant farms look brilliant, but the sad truth is they usually result in dead ants. I did end up paying for ants, as my son was very disappointed his queen ( if it was a queen) did not survive the winter. I paid £12 for a mated queen and workers, plus the children would be upset, so dead ants is not something I would be happy with. Thankfully, I did my research before setting this up.
Sugar, cotton wool, ordinary soil
We chose to make a prehistoric set up with this. Ants have been around since the Cretaceous Period, so we used plants that have been around since then as well, horsetails, resurrection fern and liverwort. I pilfered the peat circles that came with this to add to another set and used potting soil instead. Set up was fairly quick, less than 20 minutes including planting time. We used sand and soil in the main ant farm instead of the gel, and tried using the gel to grow seeds instead ( it didn't work, but it was worth a try). We did not use the seeds that came with this either, but I remember pinto beans, basil, and peas, and I believe rye grass. It got confusing because we were setting up two sets from the same company on the same day. I don't think anything of the seeds except perhaps grass would really suit this set though, so would recommend getting a package of cress if you don't want to search out more exotic plants as we did.
My sons love this. It matches some toy volcanoes and other bits they have quite nicely, and it does make for a nice Mesozoic zoo. You can even add a few plastic dinosaurs to the set if you wish. My son also says it is much easier to see the ants in this set up. However the lid is very difficult to open, in fact I was afraid we would break it and awkward to close. If you don't line it up at press it down just right a gap will be left where ants can escape, but if you push hard enough to close the gap it is incredibly difficult to open. There is no way to feed them other than to open the main lid and just toss the food in on the dirt. We ended up using a soldering iron to add a small hole and then used a connecting tube and attached a small feeding container from another set. I also feel that the plastic base is very thin, I wouldn't expect to get more than a couple of years out of this, and for the price, I feel this could have been better made. That said, this is very fun, and very educational.
I think it was a brilliant idea overall, I just feel that the manufacturers needed to put a little more attention into a few details. I realise ants are just insects and we do kill ones that invade our home, but they should not be trapped in something like this on a gel base in which they can not survive. I really feel the manufacturer dropped the ball by not making it clear that the average ants that children collect outside will simply die in this. I would also note that agar is what I use for bacteria experiments. It is the ideal substrate to grow moulds and bacteria on. This means it is apt to introduce disease to the ants and possibly the children. Of course they do give you latex gloves to wear - but I don't see many children really doing that.
If I made the set, I'd have left the gel out. I would also have included very simple seeds, like cress and perhaps Irish moss. I would have thickened the base, and placed another connection port on the ant farm, with a separate feeding tray. Finally, I would have marketed a second. slightly more expensive model with a mini volcano, plants from the dinosaurs time and a few plastic models.
I've taken one star off for failing to provide adequate information on the type of ants that can live in a gel colony, and another for failing to think of a way to easily feed and water the ants, I might have taken more off for the base being thin, but this does deserve more than two stars. Despite this, I am still glad I bought this. The boys both say they would give this five stars except for the fact that putting the wrong kind of ants in is cruel. I do still recommend this if you happen to be in the market for an ant farm and want something a bit different, but do be prepared to make a few alterations. Keep in mind ants must have water at all times, a damp but of cotton wool works very well, and their food container needs to be cleaned regularly. I place the cotton wool in with the food. If you place it directly in the sand or dirt - it is apt to turn into a stinky mouldy mess very soon. If you are looking into ant farms, I would suggest you look at Interplays Ant Farm on Amazon and note the tube that hangs down with a round feeding tray. This is the ideal way to feed your ants, and if you don't have one, you'll need to rig something up. I would suggest putting a hole in one of the lids to the plastic vials that come with this set, and in the ant farm and connecting the vial with lid on to the ant farm with a bit of aquarium tubing. If you want something simple though, where you can just add ants, I'd really have to recommend a more basic model like interplay Ant World instead.
If you do decide to buy the Messor Barbarus ants, you are still going to have to alter the ant farm as you absolutely can not release any ants that are not native to your area, so once the gel starts to rot - you'll need to place the whole lot in another container until the ants come out, then clean and set it up with sand and somehow get them back in. Keeping in mind that they bite a lot it mightn't be much fun unless you get your husband to do it and just watch.
* Collecting ants
Ants can be collected from early spring through early autumn. You should not collect the queen as this will often cause the whole colony to die ( unless of course you have an ant infestation you want rid of). You can however collect the winged queens and drones after their mating flight in late summer. If you are lucky and get a mated queen, which survives the winter, you may be able to establish a permanent colony. Keep in mind if you do have a breeding colony you are going to need to be very careful to avoid the escape of winged queens into your home.
Buying ants: Live ants can be bought for as little as £4.95 for workers only. A set with a queen will usually cost at least £10, but allows you see how a colony really works. Without a queen the ants tend to be very inactive, and survival is usually only a few months. I bought my ants from Ants UK which sells only the more, naturally occurring ants. I have grave reservations about importing non native insects and personally feel it should be banned. Surprisingly, you can order ants from Asia and Africa on some other sites including some with strong stings or that could pose a significant risk to agriculture. The risk of escape is always there. I would recommend choosing only harmless native species. Common black ants Lasius niger. Lasius flavus are usually recommended for children as they do not bite, are cheap and easy to keep, and would not damage the local ecosystem if any were to escape. It should be noted that Lasius Flavus is far more interesting looking, but far less active and most likely to stay hidden away underground most of the time.
For the most part, I don't mind having a disability too much. In a way, I brought this on myself, too many pregnancies took their toll, but I wouldn't change a thing. No one has a perfect life, and I am happy with mine. But one of the things I really miss is being able to throw a ball for the dog. Oh I can kind of toss it 4 - 5 feet, and yes the dog will still bring it back, but I can't throw a ball properly anymore. I had something like this for ages, and not only did it work for me, but the children loved too. Eventually it got left outside and someone stole it, but it wasn't a dear item so I decided to buy another.
My thrower is blue, measures 64 cm and came with a small tennis ball which split in half with the first bite. Well at least it saved me taking the tennis ball away. I don't like tennis balls as dog toys as they act like sandpaper on the teeth. My poor staffy already has her two canines broken off. She doesn't need them worn down more. I have also heard - although it most likely simply a rumour that the powdery stuff inside the balls is not healthy for dogs, and finally, I think they present a choking hazard. So I won't be rating down for the ball falling apart right away, and I must point out that it would probably last a lot longer with a smaller breed of dog.
I had bought this to use with three Chuckit balls, which are the same size as average tennis balls. Sadly none of them fit in this. So just out of curiousity, I tried the boys tennis balls. No luck with these either. You can jam some of them in, but getting them out is nightmare. I ended up using a knife to pry them out. I never got a chance to try the ball that came with this. My son did try it though and said it wouldn't come out, no matter how hard he threw. He had let the dog grab the ball while still attached to thrower, and once she split it in two it came out much easier. My son did find one ball that works perfectly - a golf ball. Needless to say I hit that idea on the head - thankfully before the ball hit one of my children or neighbours in the head. It can be used with large bouncy balls as well, but I feel these are too small for my dog to safely use. A small ball can present a major choking danger for a dog.
Amazon has this on offer now at £4.92. I am sure I paid about a pound less. But I honestly could not recommend this at any price. If you have a small breed and use a ball smaller than a tennis ball, this might suit. I would think this would best suit Chihuahuas, yorkies, or other very tiny breeds, but then I would think with such a small breed most people could throw the ball by hand. If you do have a breed of dog small enough to use a ball size of 2" or less though, this might do.
I ended up tossing this in the bin. My son did want to keep it for golf balls, but I felt this was too dangerous. I would never allow my dog to use golf balls. I will buy another one of these, but not this brand. Next time I'll either cough up for the Chuckit brand thrower, go to pets at home, or even the local pound shop.
My youngest son loves horses, but for some reason almost all horse books tend to be aimed at girls. Finding a good one for boys is like finding hens teeth. I chose this because it looked equally suitable for boys or girls and I love Jan Brett's illustrations.
Fritz is a shaggy little pony who lives outside a walled city. He isn't allowed in as only beautiful horses are allowed inside the walls and Fritz is not what the citizens consider beautiful. He watches sadly as the children of the city ride their beautiful spirited steeds and wishes a child would choose him, but no one rakes any interest in Fritz. But poor little Fritz has something the majestic purebred horses lack. he is exceptionally kind, brave and intelligent. Will the people of the city ever be able to look beyond fritz's matted coat and tangled mane and see the inner beauty?
This is a cute story, and my son enjoyed it. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful, but it is terribly predictable and of course not very original. We've al read the story of the lonely outcast who is finally accepted countless times with everything from ducks and donkeys to dinosaurs as the main character. Despite this, it does still present children with the message that they should value others based on what is inside, not the outer wrapper. I don't know if it is just me though, but I am beginning to resent the many stories of the outsider who is only accepted through some heroic act, or in the case of the ugly duckling, changing into something beautiful. Just once I'd like to see another character have the courage to befriend an outsider before they win acceptance through some spectacular feat. After all, isn't this what we should be teaching children - to be kind and befriend the friendless, whether or not they do anything grand? But all complaints aside, I am glad I bought the book. The illustrations alone make this worth considering as they can easily sweep you away to a time and place with bright colours, castle like cities and beautiful horses, even little Fritz who was always beautiful to us.
I paid £2.81 for this used, including postage, but new copies are reasonable enough at £4.40 from Amazon. Postage will be extra though unless you spend £10 in total. I feel this would best suit children from ages 2 - 6.
Please note , this review will not contain spoilers for any of the previous books other than the very obvious fact that the main character has survived the first two books, and one very minor detail revealed early in the first book, and somewhat obvious by the name Silo 18.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Wool series, it started out as a self published short story, quickly moving onto a serial ebook. The premise of the series is the fall of man from the most successful and powerful creature on the planet to a limited number of survivors buried alive in vast underground silos in which every aspect of life is dictated by the pact. The outside is deadly, the air toxic, and no sign of life is visible through the dirty viewing screens which are cleaned by those condemned to death - sent outside with a pad of wool to clean before their suits fail and they die. Are the silos the salvation of mankind? Or their destruction? Some of those who built them may have had good intentions, but the intentions of those in charge are anything but good.
The main character of Wool is Juliette, or Jules, a very strong female protaganoist, but one it was difficult for me to warm to. Jules begins life as privileged daughter of a doctor, giving her the right to live closer to the top, but chooses to move to the bottom of the silo and work in mechanical. She is thrust into politics somewhat against her will when a new sheriff takes her as his second at the beginning of a very troubling time for the silo. Jules will take her mechanical attitude to heart, taking everything apart in an attempt to fix it - but will she be able to pout all the pieces together again? This is the crux of the matter as Jules attempts to make a great many changes in a very short time, with a people who have lived underground for hundreds of years in a very restrictive environment. Jules could be the salvation of Silo 18, or its destruction.
My favourite character was not Jules, nor was she even my second favourite. Those titles would go to Solo, a grown man who in many ways is still a child, and Elise, a child who in some ways can be very grown up, but who still has all the innocence of youth. Finally I a quite liked Rickson as well although he is a very minor character. I can't really go into more detail on these three though, as to do so would be to spoil the first two books. I would describe this book as more event driven than character driven still, but the characters are far more likable in this book. I would also note that while there is tragedy and death, the suspense in this book is far more psychological than anything else. This is not one for lovers of gore and violence. Death tends to be almost clinically sterilised - but in some ways that makes it more frightening.
The third book in the series sees Jules struggling to hold onto the power she never wanted in the first place. She would be quite happy to step down, but she knows she has to see through the course she has started. This book sees some major breakthroughs in communication between the silos, and a real chance at better life for all of Silo 18 - but will Silo one allow it. It also solves all of the unanswered questions of the previous books, we learn the full intentions of Silo 1, what has caused the earth to be poisoned and how pervious silos have been shut down. But knowing the truth only makes things worse when you can't change things. Jules is determined to try - whatever the risks. This book sees her mature as character, in some ways through loss, but also through determination. The story moves back and forth between Silo 1 and Silo 18 and we see some within Silo 1 struggle for some shred of redemption, while others fight to maintain control, as Silo 18 fights for survival. Both the best and worst of human instincts come to the forefront, and Howey seems to have captured human nature very well. But above everything else, there is the very basic instinct of humans to survive, even as the world they know falls apart.
The first book was rough in my opinion, and I reached the point that I wanted to throw it across the room every time the author started describing stairs, but I stuck with it, and very hesitantly bought the second book, Shift. Shift was better, but still not a masterpiece in my opinion, although thousands of people would differ with me. This series has a huge following. But Dust draws all the pieces together. It is the perfect ending to the series, and yet left me completely and irrationally enraged. How dare he get everything right just as the series ends? Now I'm desperate to read another book in this series and it is over. All the same, this book makes reading the whole series worthwhile.
As I finished reading this book the first thing I thought to write about was that cutting the length of the book certainly worked in this case. I honestly thought this book was about half the length of the first book in the series, Wool. After I looked it up though it isn't much more than 100 pages less, but the fluff has been cut and thank god the endless descriptions of climbing stairs. As I read Howey's previous books, I wished they were shorter. With Dust 416 pages seemed all too short. The book left me very much wanting more, but the series has come to it's natural conclusion and there were no loose ends left. Still, I keep thinking of ways the author could extend the series, and if I thought he's listen I'd be sending suggestions instead of writing this review.
I realise I have been rather vague in my description, but I wanted to write this review in such a way that a newcomer to the series could read it as well as the person who has already read the first two. If you have not read this series yet, I would recommend it very highly, but you really do have to start with the first book, Wool. I would not recommend reading these out of order at all. Wool isn't as polished as this, but if you look at it as the prologue to Dust, it is well worth reading. If you have already read Wool, or perhaps Wool but given up on the series, I'd really recommend you give it another chance - you've already got through the difficult part. And finally, if you have read both previous books, you really must read this one as well. It is by far the better of the three books, and I really can't believe I am saying this after the way I felt about Wool, but I absolutely can not wait for Howey's new series to begin, and will most likely pre-order Sand.
OK - I'm really not a gun nut, but my army barmy and video game mad sons do like weapons, so when I saw this tablet case I knew it would be a bit hit. Unfortunately, this only comes in one size 11.5" x 8", and both of my boys have 7" tablets. We bought these covers about a year ago, and at the time they were bought for my sons' older tablets, but are now used on the new HP Slates they got this Christmas. We also keep the tablets faux leather folios cases at all times, which fold back when you use the tablet, so a standard 7" neoprene sleeve would be unlikely to fit over the tablet and folio case. I realise using a folio case and a neoprene sleeve may seem like overkill, but we've already had one tablet with a damaged screen, and young children do tend to drop things or leave them laying about. You can never have too much protection in my opinion, and considering the fact that the tablets cost £100 each, this seemed like a good investment. I do think it is worth paying extra for a nice design as well, as children are more likely to use something they like the look of.
The current price for these cases is £9.85 from Amazon marketplace with free UK delivery. They were significantly less when I bought them, and I believe I paid about £9 for two. Nonetheless, £9.85 is a lot better than a broken tablet, and I do still feel these are worth considering. I have searched on the web and have not been able to find a better price on this cover, but most of the 11.5" sleeves are in this price range.
This is made of a very soft, shock absorbent neoprene. This is advertised as water resistant, but not water proof. My son has spilled a drink over one of these and there was no problem. I would also expect this to hold up very well out in the rain for a short period of time. I most certainly would not want to try submerging the case. The fabric does seem water proof - this is after all what wetsuits are made from, but the seems and zipper will not be.
I bought these cases because we expect children to have accidents now and then, but I have to admit, I am the one who put this case to the test. I had picked up my youngest sons' tablet and was about to carry it downstairs to start his school day just before my vertical lift with in. I slipped, a crutch went out from under me and I ended up throwing the tablet up into the air as I went down. Thankfully, the tablet was completely unharmed at the bottom of the staircase. It would have been bad enough for my sons biggest Christmas present to have broken. It would have been worse if I had done it., I would have died with guilt. I can't say the case is the only reason the tablet did not break. After all, the tablet was actually in two cases, and I am not willing to try tossing it down the staircase with only one case to see if it makes a difference. But I do believe the case made a difference, and I am ever so glad I am paranoid about breaking things and had a double layer of protection on his tablet.
I am also well pleased at how easy it is to wash these tablets. When one had a drink spilled on it, I simply rinsed it clean in the sink and laid it near a radiator to dry. It is impossible to tell now which tablet was washed. The zip is also well made and has held up well with children using these for an extended period of time. This does not have any extra compartments, it is for the tablet only. I could easily fit extras in this since our tablet is small, but I wouldn't want to. I'd be afraid of scratching the screen. It isn't a carry all, but it is a good tablet case.
My sons really like the design, and as long they are happy, I'm happy. If I bought this for myself though, I would have chosen a different picture. In addition to the gun design, you can buy this with a nice picture of horses racing through the surf with a full moon in the background, a black and white tiger design, a Union Jack, a rainbow fuzzy headed thing, or some very rude fruit. They all sell for the same price, so it is just a matter of personal preference.
These actually do, at least with long to medium wave range rays. I know because I tested them with our UV lights. I have minerals that fluorescence if exposed to UV light. If you hold these between the mineral and the light source, you get absolutely no reaction. Move the glasses away and the reaction is there. But I'm sure you're thinking there are much more fashionable choices to protect your eyes on a sunny day - and there are. I bought these for my sons to wear when playing scientist - mucking about with chemicals, ultraviolet lights and all that, but especially for fossil hunting. In addition to providing UV protection these provide protection from roc splinters, dust and more.
The pokelux safety glasses are designed for mechanical protection in industry or building work. They have a scratch resistant surface and crystal clear lenses making them very comfortable to work in. I have tried these myself and you quickly forget they are there. My children would put the goggles on for a few minutes and then take them off as they made it hard to see, but they quite like wearing these with their little white lab coats, and I must say, the glasses do help them to look the part.
We have used these for breaking open rocks with a rock hammer and have found them very resilient to scratches. They do look just like new now, despite being left in a bag full of rocks on one occasion. I do believe they will end up ruined if a large piece of rock hits them, as once something like this is scratched it becomes unpleasant to see through, but I'd rather destroy a £2.70 pair of glasses than have a child with an eye injury.
I have to admit, we have only used these for light use. The chemicals my children play with are from children's chemistry sets. We are not dealing with highly caustic acids or deadly gasses ( at least not yet). Likewise the force of rock shard flying from a child's hammer is not likely to compare with the speed a bit of metal could flying off a grinding wheel. The manufacturers description does not let us know if these are suitable for heavy industry use, and as such I would not recommend it for these purposes. However, for a bit of rock hunting or science experiments, these are perfect.
I also feel these would be ideal for motorcycle riding, to keep the wind out of your eyes without darkening things down. They would also be a cheap and practical product to use for things like weed whacking as I hate anything flying up into my eyes.
I bought 2 pairs of these from Amazon @ £2.70 each with free super saver delivery about 6 months ago. You now have to spend a minimum of £10 to get the free delivery, but you can order them for only £2.65 from Amazon Marketplace now with free postage. I think this is a brilliant deal for such a handy little item. We chose clear as we didn't want anything to filter out light or interfere with the children's vision, we simply wanted protection. These are also available in in marigold yellow, which is best if using low wave ultraviolet lights, or a basic black sunglasses style for outdoor use in bright sunlight ( not that we ever get any). The sizing is pretty flexible. I can easily wear these, as can my sons, ages 5 and 9.
In addition to use as a safety product, these are cheap enough to buy as a toy for children who enjoy dressing up as mad scientists, or as that extra prop for a fancy dress costume.
Please note - this is a children's book review intended to be read by parents, not the child who actually be listening to the story. As such it does contain a spoiler as I feel the ending of the book determines what type of child this will suitable for. As a parent I searched long and hard for a review before buying this book, but came up empty handed. The spoiler contains the information I was searching for, but if you do not wish to know how the book ends, simply stop reading at the spoiler alert which will be clearly marked below.
I find it difficult to believe that anyone reading this will be unfamiliar with the story of the boy who cried wolf, but just in case, it is one of Aesop's best known fables. It is about a little boy who enjoys the seeing all of his kith and kin come running when he cries out that a wolf is attacking the flocks - until the other villagers no longer heed cries and a real wolf appears. This is a retelling of the classic folk tale with an unusual twist. Rather than a boy crying wolf - it is a small fish - but why would a fish cry wolf?
Amazon recommended this book for me. I've read enough boy who cried stories, so I really wouldn't have bothered with this one except for one thing - the cover illustration is absolutely beautiful. A google search revealed a few more illustrations, and I was sold. The artwork in this book is nothing short of magical. Water can be a difficult thing to paint, but the illustrator has captured every ripple and sparkle. The most stunning picture is of a child hands through water. The little fish is completely life like, as is the wolf, but what makes this book really worth buying is the use of colour depicting the beautiful interplay of light and shadow in the nearby forest, and in the pond, the cool soothing tones of green and blue with the water and the trees contrasting with the vivid lively orange of the little koi.
But as beautiful as the illustrations are, they still wouldn't be of much use without a good story, and I did have my doubts about this book. Just changing the boy to a koi wouldn't make a brilliant story on it's own, but the author has managed to pull this off perfectly.
The Koi Who Cried Wolf is about a beautiful but foolish young Koi. He had a good life in a beautiful pond with a family who loved him, but he was bored with such a simple life and looking for excitement. One day a mother and son sat near the water to read a story. The little fish swam close to them and listened to the story as well. He didn't get to hear the end, but what he did hear gave a him a wonderful idea to liven things up a bit in the quiet little pond. The little fish had heard how the boy would pretend a wolf was attacking to get all the other villagers to drop what they were doing and come running - then he would have a good laugh at them. He decided to scare the other fish by telling them a huge wolf was near the surface, forcing them to hide in the shadows while he laughed and laughed, but his mother found out ad told all the other fish to ignore his cries about a wolf. But, just like in the story, a real wolf does come, and he is very hungry. Will fish without chips be on the menu?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ SPOILER ALERT ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We all know that the little boy who cried wolf did not come to a good end, so I was a bit concerned about buying this book. My son really loves fish and I knew he would identify with the cheeky little character. he understands that fiction is not real, and fish wouldn't really listen to stories anyway ( although he thinks his parrot does), but he wouldn't really enjoy the book if the fish were killed either, and it would be a waste of my money. Thankfully the fish is saved, by a kind and gentle little boy, adding another dimension to this story. The overall tone of this book is calming and peaceful, despite the little koi's pranks. The ending keeps the tranquil nature of this book, and coupled with the soothing illustrations make this the perfect night time story. This also shows something of how children should treat animals, with kindness. It is easy to assume that all children would know they should help any creature if they can, and should treat animals kindly, but sadly many today do not. The little boy becomes the quiet hero of the story, which shows something as well - you don't have to be brave, powerful or strong to be a hero, all you need is compassion. I loved this story, and found this the perfect addition to my collection of stories with morals. Of course it teaches the obvious lesson about crying wolf, and that if you tell lies too often no one will believe you anymore. But, this story has a second more subtle message of gentleness and peacefulness.
I would also note that the little fish finally does hear the end of the story and realise how foolish he has been - but the child listening to this story will not know what became of the little boy from the fable unless you choose to tell them. My children have grown up knowing the original story, which they have never had a problem with. This may sound odd as the fish would certainly have drawn more sympathy, but I make the boy rather obnoxious in the story. I would expect most children will want to hear the original story as well, if they have not already done so, but parents have the option here of telling the story in a way that will not upset their own child.
My children were 5 and 8 when I bought this. The oldest was a bit too old for the story, but did listen to it once, if only to see the illustrations. Both children loved the pictures. I feel this would best suit children form ages 2 -6, but I honestly did enjoy it myself. You want pure escapism into a beautiful and tranquil world, these illustrations are perfect, regardless of age. It is a fun story with a good message. There is only one drawback to this book - the price. This is £8.10 which I feel is a bit much for a 28 page paperback. Naturally, I waited for a cheaper copy, buying used from the USA, but used copies for under £8.10 are few and far between. This book really is exceptional though, and I feel very illustration is a work of art worthy of gallery status, and the book does have such a wonderful calming effect at bedtime, as well as few good morals, so I do feel this would be worth the high price.