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I started reading this book three days ago and I have already romped through it. Do not be fooled by the title, however, since it is certainly not a thriller - you will not be forced to stay up late at night reading to make sure that the lead character has got out of some perilous situation, it is far more gentle than that. The book focuses around the first lady detective in Botswana, Mma Ramotswe, and it is filled with her cases, but these tend to be solved with relative ease in the most part, but each case reveals a new insight into the human character which I found most interesting. The chapters vary in length, but some are quite short, which I find makes me read more.
By far the best thing about the book, however, is Alexander McCall Smith's descriptions of Botswana. Having never been to Africa myself, his writing is brilliant at really managing to bring the scences to life and make you feel like you are there. He picks out the smallest of details, all of which together give you a really excellent picture of what life is like for Mma Ramotswe. She in herself is another brilliant thing about this book, she has an intersting past, is full of life, and has a personality that makes you smile. Her relationships with the other characters are at least as intersting as her cases.
To sum up, this is definitely what I would call 'easy reading', but I mean that in the best possible way. Alexander McCall Smith manages to transport the reading into an exotic African world where everything is new and excited, where the people are freindly and well meaning on the most part (there are a few bad eggs of course) and always have an interesting story to tell. Well worth a read, so go on, what are you waiting for?
I have been running regularly for about three years, and about two years ago my boyfriend bought me this nike sports watch for my birthday. I was very excited, not having owned a sports watch before. The watch is supposed to be unisex, and I really like it because it isn't girly, so many of the womens specific watches seem to be pink, which isn't my thing at all. Both the heart rate monitor and the watch strap are adjustable, but if you were really tiny you would probably want to go for a womens specific model - I use mine on the smallest setting.
The heart rate monitor is easy to put on, and sits quite well most of the time. I don't use it every time that I run, because it is just one extra thing to do, but it is very useful to be able to measure your heart rate sometimes, especially if you are doing hard sessions. The watch is very sturdy, and is waterproof up to 30 metres depth, so you can wear it swimming, although you are not supposed to press the buttons underwater. There aren't huge numbers of functions on the watch, but because of this is it easy to use. The stopwatch is the main function that I use, but it doesn't do split lap timing.
Although it is quite a basic watch, I think this is almost an advantage, because most people don't know how to use half of the complicated functions on their watches anyway. It costs about forty five pounds I think, which I would consider to be fairly reasonable, it is one of the cheapest watches you will find which comes with a heart rate monitor. All in all, I would definitely recommend this product, I certainly wouldn't be without mine.
I fully admit that I have a very poor sense of direction. Even if I have done a journey before, I am never quite sure of myself, and frequently find myself having taken a wrong turn. I find it particularly difficult if you are in the car on your own, because you can't exactly just take two minutes to have a good look at the map whilst you are driving along in heavy traffic. I was thoroughly fed up of getting lost all the time, and after one day when I tried to take a short cut and arrived back from work an hour later than I should have been I took the plunge and bought a Sat Nav. It was a big luxury purchase, but since i drive a fair bit these days, I really felt that it was worth it to save me time and give me a little peace of mind. I went for the 'Tom Tom XL Classic Western Europe' model, because I have friends that swear by Tom Tom, and we holiday in Europe almost every year, so I thought having the extra maps might come in useful. if you think that a map of a but of France costs £8, then you could soon start to recap some of your money if you went to a few different places abroad. The sat nav cost me £129.99, which is obviously a lot of money, but for such a clever piece of kit I thought it was worth it.
The Tom Tom has twenty different voices that you can choose from, a silent mode, a touch screen, the machine gives you traffic and accident updates, and if you take a wrong turning or go a different way it automatically recaulates a route. The screen is very clear, and tells you how far you have to go and your estimated arrival time, which is farily accurate and can be very useful. The unit attaches easily to the windscreen, and is nice and small so that it fits easily into the glove box when you are not using it. I wouldn't be without my sav nav anymore, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who drives a lot and doesn't have a very good sense of direction.
I do not seem to have had much luck with technology in the past - in the days of video players I think I went through about five in the space of a year, each of which blowing up or just going on strike (this may have something to do with them all being hand me downs and probably very much on there last legs anyway). This is the second DVD player I have owned myself, the first one going the way of the video players - to the technology scrap heap in the sky. I bought it for around thrity pounds, which I thought was very reasonable, and I have been using it for about a year with no problems to date (fingers crossed!).
The Philips DVP3120 is a lovely slimline shape, meaning it doesn't take up too much room, is a silver grey colour, and doesn't really have too much going on on the front (not too many buttons to confuse you), with just a display that shows you how long the DVD has been playing ofr, and some buttons for play and stop, and open/close. The DVD was easy to set up, although it didn't come with a SCART lead, but if you've owned a DVD player before you probably have one already. The picture quality is excellent, and although I think that it makes a slight humming noise underneath the otherwise perfect sound, this may be my TV, I am not sure. The remote is easy to use, and if you are complete ninnies like us and manage to lose it you can buy a replacement for under ten pounds. I was impressed though that I could still use the player without the remote, because the basic funtions are on the box itself.
All in all I have been most impressed with our bargain DVD player, it hasn't broken yet which is the main thing!
At my family home I have always enjoyed the luxury of using the fancy pancy all singing all dancing blender - you know the bix kind with a bowl and different attachments. Having long since moved away from home, I have often found myself missing the ease of that glorious machine (although I don't miss washing it up, and you certainly wouldn't fit one into our small kitchen!). I have an electric hand whisk which is great for making cakes and beating eggs, but there are certain things that you really need a blender for.
My boyfriend and I went on a bit of a health kick a while back and were eating lots of soup, so we thought it would be more cost efficient, and probably better for us, to make our own soup rather than buying it in tins from the shops. Our first attempts all turned out a bit runny, and lumpy at the same time, not smooth and creamy like they said in the recipe books. This was all because we had no blender, so we thought we really ought to splash out and get one. As it turned out we didn't need to spend a fortune at all, because we found this wonderful 'Asda Smart Price Hand Blender' for just under five pounds! An absolute steal we thought (fully expecting it to break in the first five minutes). The machine has two speeds, and the blending bit detaches to make it easier to clean. It isn't the most powerful blender that I have used, but you don't really need it to be, and it does the jobs that I want it to do very well indeed. It is also excellent for making smoothies. Even with the detachable part it is still a bit fiddly to clean, and a bit bulky in the cupboard, but it hasn't broken yet and does everything I ask it do, which for five pounds I think is pretty good, so a thumbs up from me.
My boyfriend and I moved into our new flat a couple of months ago, and one of the many things we realised that we didn't have was an iron. Since we had so many new things to buy, we did not want anything that cost the earth, but we did want a brand that we trusted, and a product that would work well. We finally plumped for this, the 'Morphy Richards Turbo Steam Iron 40685'. I was immediately won over by the purple colour, and it seemed to offer a reasonable number of features as far as ironing was concerned. We got our iron for £22.99, but the price seems to vary between twenty and thirty pounds, so make sure that you shop around before you make a purchase, to grab yourself a bargain.
This is a steam iron, but you can switch the steam off if you need to. It also has a 'steam shot', which does seem to help when ironing out tricky creases in the corners of shirts. I have the lovely job of ironing my boyfriends shirts for the week, so I have a fair amount of experience, and I have been very pleased with the iron so far. It de-creases much quicker than previous irons that I have used (that have probably been a little elderly), and glides smoothly thanks to non stick soleplate. The iron is reasonably compact and light, so it is easy to store, and has a 2m cable, which is about standard and long enough. The iron also doesn't drip, like some steam irons do, and you can adjust the temperature, depending on what fabric you are ironing.
All in all I have been very impressed with our iron. It looks great, works well and didn't break the bank, I would certainly recommend this product.
I have used an electric toothbrush for the last two years, after my parents bought me the Braun Oral B Professional Care 8000 for my birthday. My step mum swears by her electric toothbrush, so she thought that I ought to have one as well. This model costs almost eighty pounds, so there is no way that I would have gone out and bought one of my own accord, but I was very pleased to have recieved one as a present, as I had heard such good things about them. I have had a look online and you seem to be able to get them for only about half this price if you shop around.
The toothbrush comes with a base that it sits on to charge, but you can leave it off the base most of the time. The toothbrush flashes to show when the battery is low, and when it is fully charged. It looks great in blue, and the fact that it stands up on its own means that you don't need a toothbrush holder, which inevitably gets all mucky. It also comes with a spare head, so you can replace it when the brushes lose their stiffness, like you would with a usual toothbrush. I have found that the bristles remain far stiffer than they would with a conventional toothbrush though, so you don't have to change them very often at all. If you eventually do need to change the head again, you can buy a pack of two replacements for around ten pounds.
The cleaning effect of the brush is definitely better than a manual brush. I had never really noticed before, but a normal tooth brush really doesn'y clean your teeth fully, especially if you are like me and you only want to brush your teeth for a minute. With the Braun electric toothbrush you don't need to brush your teeth for hours, but the power of the brush gives a really deep clean that removes all plaque. It isn't too powerful that it hurts your gums though, which is good. It has a pressure sensor which is supposed to help protect your gums and this seems to work.
After having praised this product so much, though, I am still not sure that I would buy one myself. If they were twenty pounds I would definitely buy one, and at thirty pounds I probably still would, but certainly not at eighty pounds. It seems to me that however effective the product is, I can't see why a reovolving head needs to cost so much. If you can grab a bargain I would absolutely recommend the toothbrush, but I am not sure they are worth it at full price.
I have always been a fan of thrillers and crime mysteries, spending most of my childhood years with my head in an Agatha Christie novel. 'The Da Vinci Code', written by the fabulous Dan Brown, offers all of the suspense and the intrigue of those classic novels, but in a slightly more modern and stylish way. He writes elegantly and fleuntly, and in a way that makes the book very 'readable' and extremely enjoyable. I found myself unable to put the book down, desperate to know what happens next.
Part of the reason that I love 'The Da Vinci Code' quite so much is that apart from being an avid reader of crime novels, I also love solving puzzles, form jigsaws to sudoku to the cryptic crossword in the paper, I love an intellectual challenge. This book really taps in to this love, with the whole thing being one long puzzle, that you can try to solve as the characters do so. The story revolves around the two central characters, the loveable yet slightly old fashioned Robert Langdon, and the pretty young Sophie Neveu, as they try to solve various clues to solve the mystery. These two make an intriguing pair, and are both very likeable and believable. They also both have excellent minds, as must the author, Dan Brown, to have thought up the complex storyline and to have written such a wonderful book. There are also lots of intesting facts and ideas within the book which really make you think about what could go on behind the doors of great established institutions like the Church. Much of what Brown postulates about is probably fiction, but they are cleverly put together ideas, and it is possible that one or two may indeed have some grounding in the truth.
It is difficult to say too much without giving away the story, and its charm centres on its mystery. I can however say that I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone, and I have also read the sequel, entitled 'Digital Fortress', and whilst this follows a very familiar pattern, this is no bad thing, and I enjoyed it almost as much as the original . So happy reading!
I bought this phone two years ago, I think it cost £18.99 at the time. It definitely would have been the best value phone available, being a student at the time I would have gone for the cheapest option at the time. This is a single handset, with a base that connects to the phone jack in the wall, and a phone that sits in it. It sits in easily and charges automaticaly as it sits there. It holds its charge well, as long as you leave it on the stand you can talk for hours and hours without it running out of battery.
The phone stores up to forty phone numbers, and recalls the last ten numbers that you have rung, which can be very useful. You can change the ring tone of the phone and the volume of the tone as well. There is also a call duration display and a call waiting mode. These functions are useful, and there is even a clock. For a cheap phone it has a number of really useful functions that you would not necessarily expect. The phone also looks good too, is small, and after having used a cordless handset I would never go back to the old type of phone - being able to walk around the house with the phone is great. It means you are not stuck in one place and can get on with other things at the same time.
All in all this is a great little phone that hasn't failed me once in the two years that I have had it, so it is reliable as well as good looking and being good value and functional. I would definitely recommend this product, and I can't really see why you would spend any more money on a phone when this one works so well.
The le cresuet brand is obviously a household name, and one that has been successful, with its main selling point being the quality of its product and the fact that if you buy something that says le cresuet on it it should last a life time (many of their products actually come with a lifetime guarantee). This is impressive stuff, and I have to say that this is a very good saucepan. For the last year we have lived in a flat with a man whose entire kitchen is made up of le creuset items, so he has the entire set of three saucepans, all of which do the job of boiling, frying, making sauces and all manner of saucepan related jobs excellently. This 18cm version is the middle of the three and is a good size for everyday use, if you were only going to buy one of the three then this would be the one to get. If you're boiling rice or potatoes or vegetables for four people then this saucepan is ideal. It gives a good steady heat, and would never buckle or bend because it is so thick and sturdy. It is made of stainless steel and does all the things it is supposed to do like have even heat distribution, and the handle doesn't get too hot, and the lid is close fitting, BUT it is £65!! Yes, it is a good saucepan, yes it may last you a lifetime, but personally I think that you can buy an equally good saucepan for less than £65, so although I have enjoyed using it immensely, I am not planning on buying one myself. If anything, the large 20cm saucepan for around £80 might be a slightly better investment. This one is a really good size, I have even made jam in it, but again I think le creuset are being a little bit cheeky to charge so much, and I won't be rushing out to get one, this year anyway!
I actually recieved this cookery book as a birthday present, but I have a number of the 'Delia Collection' series, which each focus on a different aspect of cooking, and I have been a lifelong fan of Delia. The book can be bought off Amazon for around £8, and I would definitely say it was worth it. I know that in this day and age it is all too easy to go onto the web and find the exact recipe that you want, and you might think that with only about fifty recipes this book is no longer good value for money, but I disagree. Yes the internet is cheap and convenient, but it can never replace the joy of flicking through a recipe book, I love the look of the set on my book shelf, and I know that because all the recipes are written by Delia herself, that they have all been tried and tested a thousand times, and are guaranteed to turn out just perfectly and be absolutely scrumptious. She also explains everything in a wonderfully simple and easy to follow way, and gives suggestions for how you could adapt each of the recipes.
The book has sections for cakes, tea breads and loaves, small cakes and scones and muffins, and biscuits and bars and slices. This makes it easy to find what type of thing you are looking for, and there is also a very good index in the back. There is also a lovely introduction, and helpful conversion tables. The collection includes many of the old favourites, and also some new recipes that I had not seen before. My personal favourite recipes are the plum and cinnamon oat slices, and the amazing ginger cake, but there really is something for everyone, so get cooking!
I am a Science teacher myself, so I thought that this was the sort of book that I ought to be reading. I have also heard rave reviews of it from colleagues and couldn't wait any longer, so I purchased the book new off amazon for £4, a good price for a new book that has only been out a year and a half. Ben Goldacre is the author, and having trained as a doctor himself he has a certain amount of credibility. The book focuses on all sorts of ways in which the public has been conned into believing farcical scientific claims in all walks of life, such as the notorious brain gym that has found its way into many of our schools, the strange ways of homeopathy, the downright devilish workings of the pharmaceutical industry (we all knew they weren't exactly angels, but this book really shows what nasty stuff they are made of), and many more. It is a really interesting read that is relevant to everyone, on a number of occasions I found myself thinking 'I never knew that', and realising that I too had been tricked into believing a lie.
Ben Goldacre's supposed aim in this book is to educate the public into the way that Science works, so that they are better able to judge for themselves the legitimacy of people's claims. This is worthwhile, although if you have studied a Science degree or anything similar, some of what he says does come across as a little bit patronising, and maybe not immediately relevant. However, the book is extremely revealing, funny, well written and one that everyone could benefit from picking up. If everyone listened to Goldacre then consumer ignorance might be a thing of the past, and we would all make informed decisions, maybe understanding a little more about how Science works, and how to distinguish between 'good science' and 'bad science'.
I absolutely love this book. I bought it second hand on a whim because I had read Chocolat and watched the film numerous times and really enjoyed them both. Blackberry wine is written by the same author, Joanne Harris, so I thought that this book might be worth a read too. I picked it up a couple of days ago after it having sat on the book case for some time, and I romped through it in absolutely no time at all, not because it was short, but because I simply couldn't bring myself to put it down. It is far from being a thriller, so that wasn't it, I just simply enjoyed reading it too much to stop. The particularly short chapters also add to this effect - most are a mere two or three pages long, which means you always think you have time to read just one more.
The chapters tend to alternate between the main character (Jay)'s childhood memories, and his adventures as a thirty something, buying a house in France on a whim. There is a good deal of intrigue, with secrets surrounding the mysterious Marise D'Api, his new neighbour, which holds you in suspense until almost the very end - there is a strong sense throuhout that maybe everything isn't quite as it seems.
The book is about relationships mostly, not just the romantic kind, but all types of relationships between people, and it touches on themes of magic, writing, gardening, small village gossip, and the drawbacks of regeneration. It has something for everyone. The way that Joanne Harris writes really makes you feel as if you are in France, or Kirky Monckton, where Jay grew up. Her descriptions bring it all vividly to life so that you can really escape your everyday life and pretend that you are somewhere else for a moment. I would thoroughly recommend anyone to read this book!
I was given this hair dryer for a birthday present after my previous hair dryer blew up! It made big claims of having 'ionic' technology' , and to be honest with you I neither fully understand what this claims to do, believe it, or have really seen the effects of it when using the product. Apart from the lack of 'ionic' effect, however, I think that the vidal sassoon hair hydration variable ionic dryer is a good buy, coming in at a fairly reasonable twenty pounds.
The machine has two power settings, and three heat settings, and also a cold setting - I always have it on hottest and most powerful, but I have thick hair and it is very effective and drying it quickly. Whenever I use a firend's hair dryer I notice a reduction in power, and I am very satisfied with my dryer. It also comes with a nozzle that you can attach for blow drying - it is not quite as easy to use as without the nozzle, but it does give slightly better results. The hair dryer ocassionally overheats and once you have turned it off it won't come back on for a few minutes, but I have noticed that lots of hair dryers do this. The dryer comes with a two year guarantee, so I am sure if you had any real problems you could take it back, but mine has been quite reliable (it hasn't blown up yet which is an improvement on my old model!). All in all I have been very pleased with the product and would recommend it, especially to those of you with thick hair who need a powerful hair dryer.
We have all seen the treseme adverts on TV, the haircare brand that claims to be as good as salon quality, but without the salon price tag. The fact that I have never actually seen it used in any of the hairdressers that I have been too always made me question this claim slightly, but after having borrowed a friend's shampoo and conditioner I was converted.
The products come in various different size bottles, with a great big bottle if you wash your hair frequently and can't be bothered to keep popping off to the shops to buy more. It is not exactly cheap, at about three pounds for a 500ml bottle, but it is similar in price to other quality brands.
It smells divine, not fruity like some shampoos, but just like a hairdressers, that is the only way to describe it. It makes you feel as if you are getting your hair washed in a salon. The conditioner is really thick and conditions really deeply, leaving your hair feeling moisturised nourished, and looking noticeably shinier. This is great for my thick hair, and also helps to detangle it whilst I wash it. The product goes really well with the shampoo, and for quite a long time I used both these products, along with the spray that protects your hair before you blow dry it or straighten it.
I was very happy with the product, but unfortunately I think it aggravated a spot of dandruff, that I can be prone to if not careful. Someone else I spoke to said that treseme was known for this, so I stopped using the brand and the problem went away. I was very sad to say goodbye to the treseme brand though, and if you are not prone to dry skin then I would definitely recommend the shampoo and conditioner.