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We don't use the house phone, with four smart phones in the house it's a totally unnecessary expense and the only reason we have it at all is due to the fact we need the line installed anyway for the broadband - so we might as well plug a phone into it. We had a very old set of BT phones but once the battery on one of them failed we realised we wouldn't be able to replace it so bought a Binatone Veva 1700 (I paid £10, the current price looks to be around the £14.99 mark).
This is the most simple phone on the planet - it looks like an old school mobile and if you're old enough to remember the mobiles of the mid 90s you'll have no problems getting to grips with the handset.
You can store up to 20 names and numbers in a phonebook, I've never bothered setting this up as I keep my numbers in my mobile but it looks easy enough with a dedicated 'phonebook' button on the handset.
The battery life isn't wonderful, as I've already said I don't really talk on the phone much at all but was surprised when the battery went during a series of phone calls that had to be made on the house phone - these calls had lasted the best part of a ten hour period (eugh) and the phone needed charging after just five hour and again when all the issues were sorted, thank goodness it was companies ringing me rather than all those minutes going on my phone bill!
It's lasting well, call clarity is very good and the handset itself is easy to use and reliable. We'll be replacing it at some point as we've decided we need an answering machine and I'd rather have one that's built into the phone than a stand alone unit.
Recommended to anyone who needs a basic phone for basic needs, it's nothing special in terms of functionality but it works well when it's needed.
My youngest is four now, he starts school in September and has obviously been out of a pram or pushchair for a long time. It's quite a sad time really as since I started having my children in 1996 I've developed a bit of an obsession with pushchairs, over the course of four children I guesstimate I've owned at least 100 pushchairs, prams and strollers - with the last few being taken out of the loft yesterday to be cleaned up and sold on Gumtree over the coming days.
I purchased my Mickey Mouse buggy in August 2011, when my son was eight months old - he was a chunky baby and went into stroller style pushchairs early, however he was still so young that I wanted one with enough protection to keep him safe and comfortable. The buggy at the time was more built up on the sides than the one pictured by Dooyoo although the rest of the styling was very similar (if not exactly the same), I do think Disney make a consistently good basic stroller and had no issues with this one. The only thing missing was a shopping basket, but Disney have added this to later strollers and it looks like it comes as standard even on smaller models now.
The buggy folds much smaller than expected when you see it unfolded, it's not a complicated fold system but you do need two hands so if you have a toddler who can't be put down while you deal with folding it up you might be in trouble. It's an umbrella style fold but with added steps as the mechanism attached to the frame to fold it is a little awkward, it doesn't take up much room in the boot which is always an advantage to strollers over full pushchairs.
Pushing the buggy is fine, it's not the nicest to push as you need to have both hands on the handles for it to steer in a straight line - this wasn't ideal as at the time I had a three year old with me as well as David in the buggy and not being able to hold her hand as we were crossing the road and things like that was a little irritating.
I never feel confident in the brakes of buggies and this was no exception, I used it but as always kept hold of the handle as no way would I trust my baby's safety to a thin metal lifting bar! A safety feature I did appreciate was the five point harness, which was always easy and smooth to operate but kept David exactly where I put him no matter how much he wriggled!
I had the Altan pram from Mothercare back in 2008 when my (now) eight year old was just coming out of her travel system. I bought it new but as I understand it the Altan range was discontinued soon afterwards, the pram still comes up on Ebay occasionally but never in excellent condition due to the length of time it has been unavailable for as new.
Dooyoo's photo is slightly deceiving as the colour of the Altan is much nicer in the flesh, it always reminded me of peacock colouring as in dull light it appeared charcoal but in the sun a shimmer of emerald and sometimes sapphire would roll through the fabric coverings. It was this which originally saw me purchasing the pram, despite the fact little Hollie already had five by that point and I really didn't need another!
The pram is fantastic to push, I got ours out of the loft yesterday to put on Gumtree (mine is in excellent condition) and gave it a quick go around the garden to test everything out ready for sale. Steering the pram even one handed is easily done, the foot brake is absolutely solid (although I never rely on a pram foot brake, the contents are far too precious!) and it folds in seconds once you get the knack of pulling the folding mechanism in it's specific way. The folded pram is terribly bulky, that was the only downside to it as at the time I had a BMW with a very small boot and it filled that leaving no room for my shopping.
In terms of comfort the Altan was excellent and I had no qualms about Hollie riding around in it for long periods - the back rest only moved to a few increments so unfortunately it wasn't suitable for my son when he was born a couple of years later as he suffered reflux and I just couldn't get the seat in a comfortable position so as not to irritate his condition. I loved the chunky five point harness as it held Hollie safe and secure despite her being a Houdini baby and escaping from just about ever other harness we put on her.
I used the provided footmuff but Hollie went into the pram at the start of the summer of 2008 so it wasn't needed for long - by the time winter rolled around she was ready for a more upright buggy so again the footmuff was used only for a few short weeks.
If you can get one at a reasonable price in usable condition then go for it, but I doubt there are many about now - you could buy mine, it's going on Gumtree later on today!
When we started home schooling our seven year old at the start of the year my partner decided it was time to change our old non-working printer, we didn't want to spend a fortune as we had so many other education related expenses at that time and he eventually decided on the Canon MG3550 which cost around £40 in PC World. Ours is white but aside from that there's no difference between it and the black one - other than ours looking much nicer in my opinion!
It's fine, we've had no issues with it. Occasionally the print isn't as good as it could be, sometimes it loses the wifi connection and has to be re-synced but on the whole it's been exactly what I expected for the money.
The main uses for the printer have been printing out worksheets for Hollie to do while being home schooled, but as she has now gone back into school (a different school!) this isn't needed so I tend to use it for printing out the occasional money off voucher and lots of colouring pages for my four year old.
It's easy to use, spend a few minutes setting the menus when you first start using it and it'll be rare you have to change anything. I sometimes click the two sided option on as that saves paper (we run low alarmingly quickly) and use the function for removing the headers and footers which are always on the page when I use my cheapie word processing program. Everything is ridiculously straightforward, the most complicated thing about using this printer is the fact the page guides aren't the best and it can be awkward loading the paper in straight unless I get up and physically stand face on to the tray.
I love the way both trays fold into the printer as that prevents damage when the kids are playing around near the printer and also makes it look better when not being used.
I recommend this Canon printer but with the caveat that if you need better then spend more, it's perfectly fine for my relatively light needs which is all I can ask for really.
We've had our Pure Evoke 1S DAB radio since 2007, I actually remember the day we bought it as it was a day before I went into hospital to have (now) eight year old daughter - it was my partner who wanted it, I wasn't into the idea of digital radio at all but our local radio station had switched a lot of their football reporting to DAB so it made sense for Villa loving Mark to want to upgrade at that point from 'normal' radio.
I don't know why we chose this model but evidently it was a good decision as it's still going strong and is showing no signs of dying yet.
It's simple to use, scanning for stations picks up anything new and you have the option of saving any channel to your 'favourites' so you can find it quickly and easily next time. You can use the favourites to save DAB and FM stations, although we tend to use this mostly for digital radio and as far as I'm aware there are no analogue stations saved - there's plenty of room to save what you like however as up to 30 stations can be stored (although to be honest if I saved that many it would take me too long to scroll through so I might as well scan afresh each time!).
I love the display which features Intelligent Text, telling me not only the station I've chosen but also giving a brief description of what the programme is about or what song is playing - this is only live when the station is linked up with Pure (not all are) but considering the age of the radio I think it's pretty good and works extremely well at all times.
Sound quality through the one large speaker is excellent, although we have a niggle with the volume as my partner likes to listen to the radio in bed and even at the lowest volume increment it's slightly too loud - annoying, although it's an issue we had with our previous Pure DAB radio so not completely unexpected (we've gotten around this irritation with the simple method of 'getting another portable radio for the bedroom' but really I think Pure should address this as surely a lot of people use their radios in the bedroom where a nice quiet sound is preferable!).
This model isn't currently available and I doubt it will be again, similarly designed modern Pure Evoke models are priced around the £100 mark which is a bargain.
The basic Apple In Ear earphones are the ones provided with iProducts, or rather they used to be but these days you tend to get the earphones that have a microphone attached when it's a phone you've purchased. I've had a few sets as although I don't use an iPod myself my teenagers are converts but neither of them like Apple earphones so they always get passed to mum.
It's a good job I'm not too fussy as these seriously aren't the best quality earphones on the planet, one side usually turns tinny and irritating within a few short weeks of use (and believe me I'm by no means a heavy earphone user so that's not terribly regular use).
Sound quality is good but the fit of the earphones isn't comfortable in my ears, which is unusual as most other earphones I've used/am using fit fine - these just feel too *something*, I'm not sure if it's too long or just generally too bulky but I find these harder than usual to keep in my ears and when they're in they feel a bit 'eugh'.
The thing no one else ever mentions about Apple earphones is the fact that they can go a bit grey if you're the sort of person who keeps messing with either the bits in your ears (it's impossible not to mess when they constantly feel like they're falling out!) or, like me, you fiddle with the cable. After a short time they start looking grubby and once that happens they're pretty much impossible to get cleaned up again to their original bright white.
I wouldn't rush out and buy a set of Apple In Ear earphones as frankly the quality overall doesn't match up with the £12 price tag, I'd rather spend less for equal quality or spend more for improvement in comfort (or actually even cheaper earphones are more comfortable than this).
I bought two sets of Sony MDR ZX310 headphones just before Christmas 2014, I knew both my teens would appreciate them and as they cost just £14.99 I decided to grab them as a little extra - I bought a blue pair and a red pair, but there were other colours available in the shop that day including black and white.
I've used the red set and have been massively impressed with the quality for such a low price, music is loud and clear through the headphones and noise is cancelled both ways (so I can't hear outside noise while I have the headphones on, but I can't hear the music when my daughters' have them on - and believe me they have theirs turned up waaaaay higher than I do!).
The headphones are soft and comfortable around my ears, I must admit to finding headphones (and earmuffs!) irritating and distracting so don't wear them for long but these do rank as one of the most comfortable I've tried in terms of not driving me crazy with the feeling of my ears being so enclosed!
The cable is fine - nothing special and the same length as just about every other set of headphones I've ever used. The headphones are really lightweight so don't tug at the cable, and likewise they never feel weighed down by the cable which is another bonus as you'd be surprised how annoying I found another pair of headphones recently as the cable was so heavy it felt like it was tugging them downwards into my head!
A plus point to these is that they fold down to create a compact(ish) circle - I don't carry headphones around with me but have seen them slung in my daughters' bags while folded and despite the general rubbishy chaos in their bags there has been no damage to the headphones either cosmetically or relating to the quality of sound.
We have several vehicles as my partner works for himself so while I have my car he has a van and Land Rover plus his own car as and when he decides he needs one. I'm insured to drive his works van and do occasionally, the last time was on the day he took out this stereo to replace it with a more up to date Sony model.
The CDX F5500 has been a good stereo, it's been installed in the van for a good two years and possibly longer than that as I seem to remember it being in there when our (now) four year old was very small.
Mark tells me the stereo was simple to fit, he had to buy a plate as the fit wasn't compatible with the great big hole left by his original Ford stereo but the finish is practically seamless and after so long I don't notice the minor irritations of joins in the plate.
Sound quality is pretty good, in the van there are only standard speakers and those are enough to convey good sound - although after listening to this compared to the stereo in my car (with much better speakers!) it sounds a bit naff. CD playback is excellent with no skipping or slipping of the disc, there are various functions to choose from relating to the playback so you can adjust the sound easily (I tend to leave it just on the one setting but my partner does swap and change between them to get the best possible sound).
Recently I've started using my phone more to store and play music and irritatingly there's no USB socket on this stereo, one reason I sowed the seed in Mark's head about replacing it as I found it so annoying to have all my music on my phone but having to listen to the radio or a CD while in the van!
You can pick this stereo up really cheaply now, I've seen used but perfect working order models on Ebay finishing at under £20 which is a bargain - although to be honest now we have our new stereo in the van I can see this one isn't as good as I originally thought!
I'm reviewing the JBL Flip 2 speaker, which is the update to the Flip and was released just over a year ago. It's a fantastic little speaker that actually belongs to my teenage daughter but I use it far more than she does to play music from my iPad while I'm faffing around in the kitchen.
Our Flip speaker is a gorgeous red colour which appeals to my love of bright accessories for around the house, the same speaker is available in a variety of different colours though including more muted lilac and cream shades.
It connects via Bluetooth and has a clever little function whereby compatible devices are automatically paired with the speaker, this saves the hassle of having to sync each time you switch it on which is useful for us as there are a few family members who share this speaker.
Sound quality is fantastic; I love a bit of dance music and think it sounds surprisingly good through such a compact little speaker, there's no tinniness or vibration in the sound with everything sounding loud and clear. I don't think I've ever listened to something through the Flip 2 that has sounded anything less than perfect, my daughter agrees and has said the only reason she doesn't use this speaker much is simply because she prefers to wear her headphones.
Battery life is pretty good, it needs charging quite regularly but no more than I'd expect from the power level and fact it can easily be used for hours on end without even thinking about it when I get into my tunes.
For £79 this really can't be beaten - connectivity is excellent as is the quality of sound, which is all you can ask of a wireless speaker in my opinion.
This Blu-Ray player came bundled with our 3D TV, we've had cheaper model Blu-Ray players before but haven't really bothered too much with them - this one, however, has been used loads over the past two years by the whole family.
It's very simple to use despite there being about 500 buttons on the stubby remote control, I'm not technical minded when it comes to stuff like this but have never had a problem sussing out what I need to do or where I need to be.
The player has Freeview built in, this works well although I must admit it's rarely used as we tend to watch Sky so Freeview is surplus to requirements really.
Discs play smoothly and well, everything I've played has behaved perfectly well and combined with the 3D TV the picture and sound quality have always been just about perfect. It'll play a dirty disc but is tetchy if you try to put anything scratched into it - to be expected I suppose but our much, much cheaper DVD player would play a disc with a hole in it so not all that good really!
In terms of appearance this is a good looking Blu-Ray player but it collects dust like no ones business - I wipe ours over daily and the next thing I know more dust has been sucked to it. Mental!
If you're looking for a reasonably priced Blu-Ray player this could be the one for you; it works perfectly, doesn't take a degree to understand the functions and gives you good fluid playback every time.
We've had this television for a couple of years now, it replaced a larger 50" non 3D Sony model - at the time I'd have rather stuck with the bigger screen but the kids were insistent that they wanted a 3D television and we gave in, compromising a couple of inches in screen size for the 3D effect.
It's been a fantastic tele all round really, the 3D images are clear and wonderful using the LG 3D glasses that came as part of the package. As it's a smart TV you can go on the internet using it, I don't do that much as I'm happy with my laptop and tablet but it's handy for Netflix or checking Ebay if I can't be bothered to move!
I've connected the TV to my iPad so use the You Tube app to play music, nail tutorials etc... over the TV for better sound and image quality than on the tablet screen.
Mostly I use the Sky box to control what channel we're watching (or rather my remote-hogging partner does) and everything works as it should - and frankly when it doesn't it's usually a Sky issue rather than anything to do with the television!
The picture quality is always excellent with bright vivid colours and clean lines whatever I'm watching, in the past two years we've watched everything from films (DVD, Blu-Ray and 3D) to concerts, the news, soaps and kids programmes. Everything is perfect in colour, contrast and sound - helped along by a good set of speakers and complimenting LG Blu-Ray player.
I can't recommend this television highly enough, I'm not much of a tele person myself but my partner is a total tele addict while my teenagers never go long without watching something on Netflix so it's been well used - to still be in such fabulous condition and working so perfect is pretty good in my opinion.
We paid around £800 for our television which is excellent value for money in my opinion and I'd happily buy the same one again.
Prior to buying a can of rubbish Bristows hairspray I was using Extra Hold hairspray made by Tresemme, mine was a small handbag sized can but I believe the same hairspray is available in a larger format for people who use it more than I do.
I don't use a huge amount of hairspray, my reason for buying it is because I'm currently growing my fringe out and am in the inbetween stage of it looking scruffy whatever I do with it - my only option is to pull my hair into a quiff and set it with a combination of clips and hairspray.
This Tresemme one has been fine for me, it holds my style and keeps it in place throughout the day - any hairs that escape its grip are easily pushed back into place and then the tiniest squirt of hairspray is enough to keep them where they should be. If I'm too heavy handed with spraying I've noticed my hair starts to separate but this is easily avoided and I assume it's due to the fact the hairspray has such a firm hold.
The hairspray is easily washed out of my hair and I only have to stick to the one shampooing session, sometimes my hair feels a little dried out if I've been using it daily for a week or so but it's not often that happens as if I'm not planning on leaving the house I don't go to the bother of creating the quiff anyway.
For a couple of quid I think this is excellent hairspray and one I'll continue to buy for as long as I need to.
I'm growing out my fringe at the moment and the only way I can get it looking half decent is to sweep it back into a quiff and pin it up on top, this is working well but I am having to use more hairspray than usual (which wouldn't be hard as I barely use any at all most of the time).
I bought Bristows because I was in the little shop near me and that was all that was available, it cost around £1.69 which I thought was good value for money considering it was double the size of the previous can of hairspray I'd bought and been using.
I opted for Ultra Hold because I have a few loose hairs in my growing-out fringe that are shorter than the rest, I need whatever hairspray I use to keep those in position despite the clips not really holding them properly.
This is actually the worst hairspray I've ever used, it does hold my style in place but makes my hair feel absolutely awful. It's sticky when first sprayed on and once it dries it separates my hair into strands which I think looks absolutely dreadful, when I tried to use it on the sides of my hair (to keep some strands flat to my head) the result was two patches of hair which looked horribly greasy compared to my otherwise squeaky clean hair.
Within, say, six hours I noticed small flakes in my fringe and when I looked closer it was the hairspray that had flaked and left me looking like I have dandruff. It's not even easy to wash out, I'm having to wash twice each time now - although that won't be a problem for long as I intend to buy a new hairspray today and the remainder of this Bristows can go in the bin!
I bought this shampoo for my Jack Russell late last year, sadly Jake was put to sleep at fourteen months old as his kidneys failed and yesterday I was sorting out the bathroom and came across a part used bottle. After I'd finished welling up (ha!) I realised what a lovely smelling shampoo it was, the citrus fragrance being natural and absolutely gorgeous - sometimes I smell a pet shampoo and wonder why human shampoos are all so chemical smelling when it obviously is possible to put a more natural fragrance in!
There are no chemicals in Pet Naturals shampoo, which was the first thing that drew me to this brand if I'm honest - our previous dog had suffered with a very sluggish digestion and if she had anything on her fur which could be licked off this would irritate her delicate stomach. I didn't want this happening to Jake so a natural product seemed perfect, especially as he was a white Jack Russell who had fun by getting dirty so needed bathing regularly!
The shampoo lathers nicely but is easy to rinse out, important for me as Jake didn't really enjoy a bath so the easier the products were to use the better - I wanted to be able to clean his fur, quickly rinse him and get him out before he had a panic attack.
He always looked spotlessly clean after using this shampoo and his fur developed a gorgeous shine which lasted for quite a while afterwards (or until he found another muddy puddle to go and play in...).
This is one shampoo I really recommend, it caused Jake no irritation whatsoever and left him looking clean and beautifully fluffy - at £12 a bottle it's expensive but if you have a small dog like Jake it's definitely cost effective as a little goes a long way so a bottle will last just about forever.
I rarely use mouth wash but some recent dental work has left me with a rather nasty taste in my mouth at times, I've checked with my partner that my breath doesn't smell but it's knocking my confidence slightly as the taste in my mouth keeps making me think I have halitosis or something! Not good!
My dentist recommended a mouth wash just to remove the taste and explained that it would lessen as the wound in my gum healed, but he said there was no need to go mad buying an expensive medicated mouth wash as a cheap minty version would do the trick just as well - this led me to buy Sainsbury's Fresh Mint mouth wash from their Daily Care range.
At 65p for a 500ml bottle it's very good value, you're advised to use a capful for each rinse but as it's only me using the mouth wash I just swig it straight from the neck of the bottle (naughty, I know!).
The taste is very fresh, it's minty but not harsh in the slightest and feels extremely refreshing when swished around my teeth and gums. It has reduced the nasty taste in my mouth (but has not got rid of it entirely) and given me back my confidence that my breath is once again fresh and clean.
I use my mouth wash after brushing my teeth in the morning and evening, and will have more if I feel like I need it - this is a couple of times a day at the moment as the infection-laced taste is absolutely stomach churning and I like to get rid of it as soon as I notice it.
I can't recommend this highly enough, the taste is much nicer than the comparable Tesco mouth wash and it does the trick when it comes to nasty tastes in my mouth.