- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
I have managed to swing it at work so I can work from home for one day a week. The beauty of laptops and dongles eh, I can now conduct a day's work in the comfort of my pyjamas. That is until I have to video conference and then I have to button up a shirt and slip on a tie! Most of our work is done using our company cloud, however the old fashioned guy like I am, still likes to print a lot things off. I prefer reading documents as paper booklets so I can scribble highlight and annotate so I wanted a printer that could cope with vast sums of printing. Having a camera phone and a camera also means that I like to print pictures off so I wanted a printer that could cope with colour printing too; not in great detail but I wanted to be able to print images and the quality to be quite high. I find printers a bit of a minefield, there is too much choice and previously I have made the mistake of getting a cheap machine and then footing the bill later on with expensive printer inks. I had one printer that drained the pink colour in the ink so quick that it meant that it needed replacing all the time, in the end I had to give up printing in colour! I visited PC World and I saw this one which looked good, the spec was good and it was the first printer I saw in the shop. They had made a centre display of it with discount signs practically saying, "Buy me, buy me now!" So of course like the sucker I am, I bought it!
This printer costs around £170 on today's market and I paid £180 but it had twenty pounds knocked off in a sale. You automatically think that a printer priced at these prices will be good, it is not a bad printer but it is not amazing so it just goes to show that cost is not the most important factor when deciding a printer. For information, you need four ink cartridges that cost £12 each and they last for a long time. The good thing is that each colour comes separate.
==A look round the printer==
I personally find the model quite attractive, I have a few niggles with the load tray but on the whole the black and silver design looks good and it can be quite sleek as the paper load tray slides in and out, depending on the size of media you are using. At the left of the printer you have the ink cartridges which can be seen though the plastic clover and on the right you have a series of indication lights and buttons. These are: paper jam, cover open and paper out, then there are buttons to cancel a job and feed a sheet through. At the rear you will find the 2.0 USB socket and an input connector. The power adapter comes with a power surge black box like old lap tops used to and it is massive. A printer of this size could possibly have accommodated it inside. You can buy a wifi or ethernet adapter for the printer and I would like a wifi connector as this would be a massive help and I would find it useful for printing from my phone and tablet.
In terms of build, I find the printer a little flimsy in construction. The whole machine is solid because it is quite heavy; however the paper load tray feels like it will snap at any point and the leaver to adjust paper size also feels rather like a cheap bit of plastic. I have printed on different sized paper which involved shifting the paper loader and this was not an easy task. Once set in the right place and paper or media loaded, then you will find that paper loads and prints without any human interference. Paper jams and things going wrong are fairly unheard of.
Set up is quick and easy and involves installing the printer driver which gives you a help centre and all the basic printing options you will need. I installed this on the computer in less than five minutes, the most time consuming part is physically setting up the printer. You need to put the two print heads in the machine and then load the cartridges. The printer will then run a printer head alignment check and charge up the ink, this takes about 10-15 minutes.
When it comes to analysing a printer's performance, the key questions to answer are what the print quality is like and how quick the machine prints. I have printed in both colour and in black and white. At this stage, I have printed only a couple of A3 posters but this was one of the main selling points for the printer. I guess you could say that this printer is specialised for this reason. I have printed a couple of posters off in A3 and the speed it printed was very fast. For an inkjet printer, this is quick and really impressive when it comes to A3 printing.
When I have printed in colour on standard A4 paper and the format has been pictures and text but not photographs, the quality has been good. The colours are bright and vivid with a good reproduction on the paper from what you see on the screen. The lines are sharp and crisp with the 1200dpi resolution and you could easily print a professional business poster or card on here. When I set the printer up, I had a little thin dribble of ink that kept running along the edge of my paper. I was not sure why it was happening and as the printer was brand new, I suspected it was human error; something I had caused in the set up. I was indeed quite right as once I had completed the quick trouble shooting assistance, the error had resolved itself.
Good news as I was toying with the idea of returning it. In terms of printing photographs, I must say that I was slightly disheartened and overall found the 'photographs' to be quite dark. The colours seem slightly darker than they do on screen and slightly grainy. I used high quality gloss photograph a4 sheets and set the correct setting, however they are still quite dark. Some are not as bad as others and I have printed some nice pictures of the kids to put on the fridge and pass to their grandma but I think I will be sticking to professional photo printing in store as the quality is much better; if not a lot more expensive. I even tried selecting 'Best mode' which should be enhanced printing but this did not give any better results. In terms of printing in black and white, you can tell that this is where the printer has its strengths as it prints so quickly. Sheets are dry, accurate and impeccable when it comes to black and white. Pages are finished with a gloss and lettering and images are crisply defined. The speed a sheet of text prints off is amazing, really fast indeed. In fact, with black and white printing you get speeds of up to 35 pages per minute.
==Final thought for the day==
Overall, this is a printer that is best suited at churning out large volumes of printing. I get sent policy documents that I like to read as paper copies so large PDF files are printed out and the speed these are printed in is really fast. Printing in colour offers good results but if you are wanting photographic style printing then this is the wrong sort of printer, I feel let down in this department. In other respects the printer does a good job, set up was quick and easy and there is a very small delay between the time I have asked the printer to work and when it starts. The printer is probably bulkier than needed but I am not short of room in my office at home so the size is not very important. Would I recommend it? I think I would consider other options first; this still seems rather expensive for what you get. If you are looking for an a3 printer then you may find that this is the best option, it prints quick and the posters it has printed are bright and vivid. It is photograph and detailed printing that lets this one down, but on the whole it is acceptable.
The Zanussi hob was fitted by the previous owners of my property. The style goes with the oven in the kitchen. Both the oven and the hob are finished with a white glossy look that makes them fit neatly with the kitchen cupboards. I am not a fan of electric hobs; I prefer gas as they heat quicker and cook more evenly. The good thing about electric hobs though is that you do not have worry about leaving the gas on. When my mother was alive we had to replace the gas hob with an electric one as she kept leaving the gas on which is certainly not good. This stove does the job but it is not as quick as I would like and it is not as attractive as the new style sleek glass ceramic hobs. One can dream!
This is a mid range hob and priced reasonably at £170.00. There are models more expensive than this and I think if I had the choice I would spend a little more and get a nicer looking piece. I did not have to buy it as it came 'free' with the house! You can buy it from appliance direct, Currys and John Lewis.
==A look around the hob==
The hob is white with black rapid plates that have a dot in the middle. The hob measures 5 cm x 60 cm x 50 cm. Any unit that fits above the hob needs to be at a distance of nothing less than 50cm for fire safety, similarly you need to leave a 5 cm aperture at the rear of the hob as it can make the wall too hot.
There are four rapid hotplates:
The two rear ones are 180 mm in diameter and 2000W in power. The front two measure 145 mm and are 1500W in power. When you use the hob you will find that you get frustrated with the layout as you always cook on the rear ones so it involves a lot of leaning over. Sometimes with hobs you get four sizes of cooking plates, with the larger one always being at the front on the left. This is much easier for stirring and cooking whereas with the larger ones at the back, things are slightly more awkward. At the front of the hob are the controls. Each hot plate has its own dial which is numbered from 0-6. To turn it on you need to turn it anticlockwise to the setting of your choice. This is another bugbear with me, who turns things anti-clockwise to turn them on? No one, it should be clock wise, clock wise, clock wise! In terms the the numbering system, you need to play it by ear as to what setting you need, I always whack it up full and then turn it lower. It is not like gas where you can judge the heat by the size of the flames. The following can be used as rough estimate:
One for melting butter and keeping things warm, two is gentle heating and can be used to fry eggs, make sauces, three is slow cooking and can be used for boiling water, four is medium cooking for boiling potatoes, five is high and can be used for stews, omelettes and steaks and six which is classed as fast cooking is for larger pieces of meat.
There is a light that comes on every time you turn on a hot plate this helps to remind you to turn it off after use.
Each hot plate has a red dot on the middle; this is only painted on and is rubbing off some of the plates. This does not affect the cooking ability and it is obviously put there to mimic the dot that some posh frying pans have. As the pan gets hot, the dot goes red. As these are 'rapid hot plates' the red dot is always there.
The hob does its job but I would not agree in saying that these hot plates are rapid in any shape or form. Boiling water takes ages and I tend to boil the kettle pre using the stove to give the hob the edge, it really does seem to take a long time. I do find that food cooks evenly and once on, the hob is easy to cook on and now I can gage the settings I know which setting to keep the food on so it stays warm and does not turn and which setting will cook my food the quickest. I find the design and layout of the hob quite unusual and as I always use the back plates, I either just spill stuff on the front ones or having them empty. The danger is and, something I have experienced, is that if you cook of the front and then swap to the back , the front is still hot so as you lean across you are risking burning yourself. This is something that happened to me.
To be energy efficient you can put your pan on the plate without preheating it but as the plate takes a while to get hot, I feel I need to heat it up before I cook on it. To be energy efficient you should avoid putting wet pans on the hob and try using lids on the pans to keep the heat in more, this also heats and cooking a lot quicker.
==maintenance and cleaning==
You need to make sure that spills do not land on the plates as not only can they be hard to remove on hot surfaces, they can actually damage the hot plate. Spills onto the plate should be removed using warm water and a soft brush, nylon or plastic scourer. To clean the hob regularly, use a damp cloth that has a little washing up liquid on it.
If you wipe the plates over with a little olive oil on a sheet on kitchen towel, it keeps the plates looking shiny and protects them. The only downside of this is that when you cook on the plates next time, the oil smokes a little bit.
Cleaning the hob is fairly easily as the white painted surface does not scuff or scratch and it wipes with the ease. It is the plates that need the extra care.
This was not my first choice but I am stuck with it. As it works, heats up and cooks my food I will keep it and it is not totally offensive. I do not like the electric hob plates though and I would much prefer to have a ceramic hob. I find the design of the hob the most frustrating element to the hob although the time it takes to heat comes as a close second. To sum up, for the money I bet you can get a much nicer hob these days that is more stylish and streamlined but if you are looking for a white product then you this could do it for you.
When you move house, one of the things you are usually stuck with is the previous occupant's choice of oven. So I am writing this review of a machine that I inherited with the home and it is not one that I would have picked. I much prefer stainless steel or black appliances but this one does seem to fit with the colour scheme of the cupboards. It is not my taste but it was nearly brand new when I bought the house so it seemed foolish to replace it. Not only was it new when I bought it but I only get to use it a few times a week anyway. I work long hours so tend to just grab something at work or I will have a dreaded microwave meal. When the children are over, I do like to cook proper meals though. I tend to use the oven a lot more to make casseroles and hot dinners and hot puddings.
I have been impressed with the oven so far, it is a very neat, easy to clean addition and it is very simple to operate. Even a trained monkey could cook in it! I have had a couple of things from Baumatic before and I consider them a premium brand. I have always had great service from their customer services and (touch wood) everything from this brand has been reliable and consistent.
This is not a fancy appliance and it does not have ground breaking features but it does its job and it does it unobtrusively. I wouldn't say that the machine is stylish but it is sleek in its appearance. The steel chassis of the oven is designed to be built into your work tops so all you can really see of the machine is the door at the front. The door is white with a long slim silver handle that runs along the full length of the machine. The stainless steel casing measures 600 mm x 598 mm x 565 mm with 500mm being the width of the machine. These measurements are quite standard for built in ovens so you should be able to pull out an old machine and insert the new one without having to make any home improvements to accommodate it. The oven door has a window so you can see how your goodies are getting along inside. This is important for baking as you can ruin things by allowing an influx of cold air, many things such as bread need a regular temperature for them to rise. The window allows you see what is going on without you having to disturb things by opening the door.
The glass window is doubled glazed and it is heat reflective glass so the exterior does not get too hot if you touch it and it reflects the heat back inside the oven. The door oven opens downwards and it opens at 90 degrees so the door does not get in the way but it does act as a shelf if anything drops as you remove things from the oven. The oven comes with an enamelled baking tray with a handle, a trivet which is like a raised wire rack for cooking meat on and a safety shelf.
At the top of the machine you will find three dials and two lights. There is the minute minder control knob, Oven function selector knob, Thermostat control knob and then a Power indicator light and an Oven operating light. The minute minder can be used independently of an oven cooking function and can be used for a time period of up to 60 minutes with each section on the dial representing 5 minute intervals. When the time period selected expires, the oven turns off and it will give you an audible beep. The oven function selector knob can be used to cook different foods. The appliance will utilise different elements within the oven cavity, depending on the oven function that you select.
The oven has a fan and a light inside, this is so that you can see what is cooking inside and the fan cools the oven after use. Warm air is pushed out through apertures until the air is cool and the fan switches off.
CONVENTIONAL OVEN: This method uses heat from the top and lower elements. This feature is appropriate for roasting and baking on one shelf only.
FAN OVEN: This is a good option of cooking as it uses the circular element and the heat is distributed by the fan. This cooks food items quicker and more economical. The fan also means you can cook different food items on different shelves and flavours and smells do not transfer from one dish to another. I have used this function to cook an apple crumble and a chicken casserole at the same time and it was worked perfectly.
GRILL: The grill uses the inner sections of the top element, which projects heat downwards onto the food. This is perfect for cooking bacon, toast and sausages for example. It is a much healthier way of cooking than frying for example and it is just as quick.
DEFROST MODE: Defrost uses the fan without heat to reduce the defrosting time of frozen foods.
LOWER ELEMENT ONLY: This uses the lower element to direct heat upward to the food. This feature is perfect for slow-cooking recipes or for warming up meals.
CONVECTION OVEN AND FAN: This uses heat from the top and the lower element with the assistance of the circulation fan. This ensures a fast and even distribution of the heat. Perfect for meringue and delicate pastries.
FAN AND GRILL: This uses the top element in conjunction with the fan and provides super fast circulation of heat. This is perfect for items that need browning quickly such as meat.
==The oven and I==
I find the oven really easy to use and although there are only a couple of settings that I use on a day to day basis, the others are easy to use and control. I tend to use the fan over and the grill most regularly but I also use the fan and grill option as it allows me to brown the tops of lasagne and quiche dishes without burning them. The oven is quick, much quicker than I expected and you will not be waiting ages for your food to cook. My old machine needed a good fifteen minutes to get hot whereas this is hot nearly straight away. The oven has been given an A in terms of energy efficiency and has the following statistics applicable to it:
Energy consumption forced air convection (kWh):
Energy consumption conventional (kWh):
Fuse rating (AMPS):
Electrical connection rating (W):
1,70 - 1,95 kW
I do not like the exterior but it is easy to clean and the white paint does not show up finger prints whereas the stainless or glass fronted machines tend to do. As it is white though it does show up spills which is good as it makes it easy to wipe clean. The silver handle is sleek and I can even open it with my foot as I had to learn the other day when juggling a hot dish in my hands! I like the fact the oven has a window and a light and despite being a slim oven, there seems to be a lot of room inside.
I am probably preaching to the converted here but the best advice I can give you in terms of looking after your machine is to always clean it after each use as this prevents food particles getting baked on. I am not a fan of oven cleaners as the chemicals hurt my chest so I always prefer more traditional methods of cleaning. Use warm soapy water and using either a sponge or soft cloth rub over the elements and internals of the oven. There is no need to use abrasive or steam cleaning. You can use a similar method to clean the exterior and any shelf and baking tray can be soaked in the sink.
Luckily I inherited this oven and it has served me well since moving in, it looks in really good condition and the only thing that gives me frustration is that the glass constantly gets a brown coating in it and it is hard to keep clean. The rest of the oven cleans up wonderfully. The buttons and dials are easy to use and I would consider the machine to be economical as it heats food up really quick. The machine is quite noisy though and it makes quite a bit of noise when the fan is on.
The oven can be bought for the very attractive price of £200 from site such as Appliance world. I am not sure how long the machine has been out but this is a very good price for such a powerful machine and I feel lucky to have it. I would never go for a white appliance as they look old fashioned in my eyes but this fits in nicely against the white cupboards and it looks so shiny that is hard to find fault with it. The only downside is the noise it makes, but this is being picky.
I know that it seems indulgent for a single man to have such a huge fridge but I when I looked around the house prior to buying it had one of these big American fridge freezers and the whole kitchen had been designed around such a monster machine. When I moved in and started measuring up for new appliances, none of the measly machines seemed to come close to the bench mark. As all the cupboards in the kitchen were fitted to encompass an American fridge and there was a water connection for the water and ice dispenser it seemed like a good idea to buy this fridge. It may be big but it is smaller than having two separate machines like I have been used to previously and the ice machine actually takes up more room than you think. Having ample space means I can stack the fridge safely and I do not need to cram anything in. It is also pretty good for storing beer and wine. I can fit a whole case of beer in here which is good as previously I used to have to put two of three in a time and if I forgot to restock it then I would have to drink warm beer which is not as refreshing.
So this is my review of my BFF (Best friend forever? No! Big, Fat Fridge!!)
==Shield of steel!==
The fridge freezer measures 90.8cm in width and 178 cm in height with a depth of 69.2 cm. The fridge freezer has a stainless steel brushed metal finish and it looks of exceptional quality. This is not as robust as it looks though. Taking an opportunity to cut costs I enrolled my brother to pick up the machine from the store and help me unload it. Well getting a heavy America fridge freezer up a set of stairs is not an easy job, as there was a slight bend in the stairs we decided to unpack the machine before taking up. Unfortunately, the tight corner got the better of us and the machine slipped and hit the wall, there is a lovely tennis ball sized dint on the side of the door now! Bad times indeed.
The fridge side is to the right and opens outwards; the door can open 160 degrees so you can have easy access for cleaning and stocking. If you are wondering about where to have your machine, it is important to realise that on top of the above measurements, you need 2-3 cm of room for the doors to open a little wider than the machine to ensure you get access to the drawers. The left size houses the freezer and this opens in a similar fashion. The doors are quite heavy and my little one struggles to pull the door open; he always manages it though. The handles meet in the middle and are chunky; they look just as sleek as the rest of the machine. Despite our problems getting the machine in, once in it is easy to move around as it has wheels. This is good as it is would be quite beastly to manoeuvre without wheels.On the freezer door is the water and ice dispenser and above this there is a digital control panel which shows the temperature. There are a few buttons which control certain functions and these are easy to push and control. This is easy to read and easy to use.
==Full of delights==
Inside the machine there are five shelves one of which is actually the top of the vegetable drawer. These are roomy and can be moved up and down if you are trying to house larger items. You can also remove some of the shelves completely. The choice as they say is all yours. The door also forms part of your storage arrangement and there are five separate shelving units to store different items. There can also be moved and removed if you want. The door storage is perfect for milk cartons, juice and items that you need to find quickly. There is a separate section for eggs and a covered butter section. These units are really useful but sometimes if you pull the door open too hard, you will find that items in the door slide around. I learned this the hard way with a carton of passata, it fell over and I had a very tomatoey door experience. The freezer, which is smaller than the fridge has three shelves. There are two door shelves to keep things but there are no more as the ice machine takes up a large amount of room. The freezer is perfect for a man like me who loves cooking but often ends up making too much. I bought a load of portion pots so if I do cook too much, all I have to do is portion it up and freeze it so I can have an easy cooking free night another week! It also makes things much more economical as I am not wasting food.
==Care and maintenance==
The machine needs a little bit of TLC but the exterior only needs a good wipe. The water and ice dispenser needs the most cleaning as the drip tray collects a bit of waste water. All the shelves can be removed to give them a more thoroughly soaped up clean and a good wipe out every now and then does the world of good. My old freezer needed defrosting regularly and the good thing about this one is that it is frost free. In terms of maintenance this makes the freezer exceptionally easy to care of. The ice department needs to be regularly used otherwise it turns into a solid block and the blades struggle to cut through it.
The whole ice department removes and I think it is important to make sure you have fresh ice regularly so get rid of the old ice down the sink. If you leave the ice machine it constantly makes ice until it reaches the full level. If you do not want any ice at all then you will do best to turn the ice function off as otherwise it is wasting it. The ice and the water it dispenses are made from filtered water and this filter can be screwed to the wall by the water inlet. I love this, I love getting filtered water straight through my machine it's superb. The filter needs changing though and this is after 500 gallons. The staff in the shop said that this should give you three years of use. A new filter costs over £25 and really worth investing is as Samsung claim that it removes over 99% of harmful bacteria. I have really funny tasting water in my area, it always comes out a little cloudy too so it is nice to get water that is filtered and without impurities. The kids use the filtered water for their squash too and they find it really easy to use.
There are many features that make this machine perfect for any home. The machine has a special coating which reduces bacteria and bad smells. I have two boiled eggs in there at the minute and half an onion and the whole fridge smells of nothing but cool air. There is a special setting that allows you to set the fridge for holidays so that while you are away it keeps the produce at a low temperature and airs itself as the doors will not be open for a set period of time. Another more commonly used little feature is the open door alert which is a little bell noise, it is not overly loud but it is loud enough to remind you to shut it. If you want to freeze something that has just been cooked then you can select super fast freezing and this reduces the temperature so everything stays frozen despite the overall temperature being reduced. The fridge also has twin cooling which keeps produce longer and fresher. I have apples in there that are a month (no word of a lie) out of date and they still perfect.
==Noise and other miscellaneous details==
The machine hums but it is not noisy, it only really makes a thunderous noise when the ice machine starts to kick in as the ice drops making a loud crunch. When the ice compartment is filling with water you can hear it being pulled through the filter and this is annoying as the pipe slaps on the wall and it has made me jump before now. The machine is given a level of 39dB for noise.
So machine is an expensive one and brand new you will look to pay around £799 but you are paying for a high spec machine. It does amazing things with food and having filtered water on tap and ice (crushed or cubed) makes this such a fun toy. The kids love squash and crushed ice and if you are a fan of cocktails then you will love the ice feature. As a beer man it is lost on me somewhat but I do like filling a sports bottle of crushed ice and filtered water as it means I can have a cold bottle for my journey to work. They have given the machine an A in efficiency however it will use over 6312.5 Kwh per year which equates to over £90 in sterling. This is a lot and the regular fridge freezer combo is half this. In my opinion (sorry I know about my carbon footprint) the benefits outweigh the bad points!
Filtered water on tap is a godsend and I can take advantage of whatever offer there is at the supermarket. When Ben and Jerry's was on offer I stocked up and I did not have to worry about room. I love the quality, it's reliable and my food stays fresh for so long. I recommend it, now I have one I could never imagine having a smaller one again!
When my wife and I split up, we did the grown up thing of still buying each other presents from the children at birthdays and Christmases. For one of those presents, the children bought me a bottle of this very young, very zany bottle of cologne. I knew the wife intended it as a bit of dig as it was obviously a product that was not going to suit my style. It is a young and fresh cologne and obviously something the new man in her life likes but it is not for me. That is not to say it does not smell nice as it does, I just find it a little on the sweet side and I cannot imagine a man of my age wearing it. I am not old fashioned, I just prefer something a little stronger and little more robust.
==The blue man==
I do like the vessel; I mean what a quirky little piece and although he is nowhere near my mirror image (you would have a much rounder object) it is an interesting bottle. I think the chap is a sailor as he has a striped top and on the adverts I seem to remember a sailor cavorting with a young lady in a corset (The female version of the perfume.) I did not realise until closer inspection that this is a bottle of "Le Male Terrible" which is different, but very similar looking to the cologne, "Le Male." Confused? So am I. The bottle comes in a tin which is like a food tin without the label; interesting and very unusual. He is the Tin Blue Man!
So the blue sailor contains a cologne or EDT as the fashionable kids call it and the overall scent of it is citrus and vanilla which is definitely not for me. I find the EDT smells very alcoholic and it is overwhelming at first but this does go away and the overall pleasant smells of the perfume shine though. According to the EDT the notes used are grapefruit and pink pepper; middle notes are lavender and vetyver; base notes are amber and vanilla. I do not know what Vetyver is and presume it is some sort of flower. I can smell the floral notes and a hint of lavender but the citrus overpowers them. I wonder why they put lavender in male EDTs as does it not have soothing, sleep inducing qualities? If I am wearing an aftershave to impress a woman and this is usually why men wear them, I want them to be invigorated rather than sleepy! The man behind the blue man creation is Aurelien Guichard. I do think the overall end result is pleasant once the initial stages have passed, however it is just a very young cologne and it does not suit me, I feel uncomfortable wearing it as it is too sweet and I prefer something a little less citrus and floral and something a little more spicy.
==Making an impression==
On a whim, I did decide to try the EDT out on a date I had; no I did not use the bottle as a can of mace but instead squirted it on my chest and neck in the hopes she would love it and think I was ten years younger and find me irresistible. None of these things happened and she did not even pass comment on my aftershave so I am presuming she did not like it; we did not make it to date three! I do not feel as confident wearing this as I do other aftershaves; I have a lovely Paco bottle that makes me feel much more self assured. I do find this to last as long as I would expect an EDT to last. You can slap it on and you do not have to worry that it will fade throughout the night. I would consider this as a night time, date night scent as it is very powerful and not just something I would use on a daily basis.
==Half full or half empty==
This bottle is half empty and I have tried to use it as I hate waste but it is not for me. I should give it to my brother, he is younger and better looking than me and it would suit him. What does a balding fat man want such a trendy bottle for? I will not be marking the bottle down as it is personal choice, I would love to say its terrible (ironic as that is its name!) but it isn't and I can imagine one of my lads wearing it in a few years time, it is a youthful, bright scent and it is pleasant. I would recommend it as it lasts well on the skin, but the only downside is the strong ethanol smell when you first spray the bottle. The bottle retails at £35-£40.
Coming out of contract has to be one of the most exciting times in the calendar; it means new phone, new phone hurray! My contract ended in December and I automatically decided to go for an iphone 5 as my previous phone was the 4 and it seemed the next progression. I couldn't help feeling disappointed though. It looks exactly like my old phone with no new surprises. I would be able to pick it up and it would look, feel and do things just like my old phone. I wanted something new and different and it was the first time in about 5 years I started looking at non-Apple branded products. I felt slightly like I was doing the dirty on Apple; I had been a very loyal customer indeed. I visited a few phone shops and chatted to my children who have more knowledge about new gadgets and gizmos at their age than all my cronies and I put together! The kids use blackberry phones and spend lots on time on BBM. As BBM does not use credit; it is a much easier way for them to keep in touch with their friends and family. Being able to talk to the kids on BBM swayed me to looking more closely at Blackberry as a brand. At the beginning of February, the deliberation was over. The new Z10 had been out around a week and on sighting it in the shop and reading up on the spec in the shop, I decided it was the one for me.
==A LITTLE BIT OF GENERAL HOUSEKEEPING==
The phone costs £540 if you do not want to be tied into a contract. Although this probably works out better value in the long run, I decided to opt for a monthly contract for £35 and I get 1GB data, 500 mins and unlimited texts. I was fairly pleased with this contact as I did not have to pay anything for the phone. When I inquired about the iphone 5, I was expected to pay £120 for the phone and suffer a £35 contact each month. The Z10 uses a mico sim so you need to order to new one unless you already have a small sim card as the larger ones will not fit.
==SIZE, DISPLAY AND FEEL==
The phone looks remarkably like an iphone in terms of build and sleek button free style. The size of the phone is 130 mm tall, 65.6 mm wide and it has a thickness of 9 mm. The phone weighs 137.5g and you can see how Blackberry has spent a lot of money engineering a phone that can complete quite readily with the current market. It has taken a while for Blackberry to drop the full size keyboard and alter the perception of their phones entirely. If this phone did not have a Blackberry logo emblazoned on the back, then I would not know which manufacturer it belonged to! The exterior of the phone has a lightly textured, soft to touch surface that I feel more comfortable holding than an iPhone; it feels like you can grip it much easier. The phone is professional, stylish and it has a crystal clear, touch screen HD screen. The quality of the screen is superb and it certainly comes close to the display on my ipad. It is bright and crisp with colours standing out vividly on the surface. Interestingly, the Iphone 5 is equipped with 326 pixels per inch and the Z10 has 355 PPI. In screen is 4.4 inch and the resolution is 1,280x768-pixel WXGA HD.
So quickly whizzing round the phone you will notice it has a definitive lack of buttons. The phone is mainly controlled with gestures which I will discuss shortly but the controls you do have are: volume high and low buttons and a button for pause/voice command on the right, on the left you have left a Micro-HDMI port and Micro-USB port. This is awkwardly placed and it is annoying to charge as it hampers the way you use the phone. The Micro HDMI button is a true gift though! At the top you will find the off/on button which also locks the phone and a 3.5 mm headphone jack; this is well placed and I like it at the top. At the front above the screen there are a number of sensors, the 2 MP front camera and an LED notification light. At the back is the 8 MP camera with an LED flash.
==SPEC, SPEED, MEMORY AND DATA==
The phone can be used on the 4G network; however I am using it on 3G along with Wi-Fi. I find the phone to be quick at locating WIFI hot spots and internet in and out of the home is fast. I stream news clips when out and about and watch football highlights and the quality is excellent with minimal interruption. The phones comes with a removable 8GB memory card which is great as it means you can keep adding more and more. This also comes with a removable battery so you can replace it if you have any problems. The phone has a Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait and overall I find the phone to be quick and responsive. The phone is quick to load the camera, change application and open web pages but to turn the phone on it can take around 40-50 seconds. This was the case before I installed any extra applications and it is slightly frustrating. I would have expected it to be much quicker.
The phone runs with Blackberry 10 operating system which has taken me a while to get used to as an Alien to Blackberry! On the surface, the OS looks impressive, all the icons are clearly displayed, they are bright and as you swipe the screen, they fade into the next screen which looks very advanced. The OS is gesture driven with the layout looking like mini screen shots laid out next to each other. The BlackBerry Hub, where you can see your email, notifications and messages is on the left and on the other side is the "Active Frame" area. This contains thumbnails of your open applications. Here you can arrange, delete and organise them into folders. The Active frame is a weird concept really as every time you open an app, you get taken back here before launching; it seriously reduces the smoothness of some of the phone transactions and it is unnecessary.
==USING THE PHONE==
To do anything on the phone, you will use swipes up, down and left / right and I found it surprisingly easy to use the phone considering the lack of buttons. Once you get used to some of the backwardness of the menus; some open with swipes down, some with right swipes, it is quite easy to navigate around. However in other aspects, the phone's functions have been streamlined. You can have multiple email accounts and social networking applications and you can transfer contact details from here quickly into your phone contacts.
In terms of applications, there is an excellent satellite navigation which has crystal clear maps that is easy to follow and for work purposes there is Documents to go. This allows you to read, create and edit excel spreadsheets, and Microsoft word documents. You can also view Powerpoints and PDF files. Being able to edit documents on the phone is a marvel and something that I greatly appreciate. You can make changes to documents and fire off new emails so quickly it is frightening! I have used this application on a number of times and it is so easy and quick to use. I experienced one slight crash, but it came back up and my work was not lost. The phone caters for the business market well as you can keep personal and business apps separate and the phone has excellent privacy features with RIMs encrypted servers for example and remote wiping. If you are looking for a fun and personal phone, then you also have an excellent music App and games to play. Playing games is fun with the bright display and fast response times but I tend to favour my iPad for games these days. You can download hundreds of apps from the Blackberry App store so there is surely something for everyone.
In terms of emailing, instant messaging and texting; the virtual keyboard is excellent and it is the best I have come across. It is quick to knock out a quick email and the keyboard is responsive and accurate. I tend to struggle with touch screen keyboards with my stumpy fingers however this virtual one seems much easier to use. The phone makes good use of the lock screen as it shows you any unread notifications or messages, so you can see at a glance if you are missing anything. In terms of making a call, the phone's connection is strong and voices are clear and I have not experienced any drop outs. The person on the other end of the phone has told me that I come out loud and clear and the phone call has been static free and loud throughout. Worthy of a mention is BBM 6 which is the instant message facility and this is superb as you can speak to others free and instantaneously. I use this to chat to the kids as they have a blackberry bold and it is a great way for the kids to speak to me for free; no excuses like not having any credit can wash anymore!
==Camera and video==
The phone has a front and a rear camera with the rear being 8 MP with 5 x digital zoom. This is an excellent camera and on taking a few pictures of the kids and the snow this week; I can safely say it is one of the best cameras on a mobile phone I have ever seen. The clarity is excellent and the detail in the kid's scarves let alone the larger things was brilliant. We had some great fun taking action shots on sledging and even when the subjects (my young ones) were moving (whizzing down the hill) the images were still very good. You can choose to take a photo individually or you can snap a few instantaneous and decide which one you like best. Video is great too and the phone is equipped with anti shake so you get quite smooth videos. The microphone is very sensitive though and you can actually hear me puffing as I run after the kids trying to film them. Probably not as much as an advantage as I'd like but it is quite impressive. Even taking photos inside was good and the flash is very bright; managing to light up my front room quite easily. Other features for the camera worthy of a mention are face detection, image stabilisation, and geo-tagging.
The phone has a Li-Ion 1800 mAh battery and this should give you 10 hr talk time and 312 hours of standby time. I find the battery and to be average, it can last for ages unless you are watching a film clip or using an application. It seems to have full change for ages and then it drops really quickly which seems very inaccurate and deceptive. I have to charge the phone up every night to ensure it lasts the next day and I do not consider myself a heavy user.
==HINTS AND TIPS==
Hitting the volume buttons together and you'll take a screenshot. If you're in camera mode, pressing either one snaps a picture.
You need to load a new your memory card to a 4 class or higher if you want to shoot films in 1080p HD. If you do not then you will be limited to shooting video in 720p HD.
Swipe your fingers up from the bottom of the screen to wake the phone.
Turn off wifi and Bluetooth to save battery.
This is an excellent phone and it has been fun learning a new OS and figuring out what is what. It is refreshing to see new ideas and I like having a gesture only phone and surprisingly it is easy to do. Some of the menus can be baffling at first but overall it has been designed with the user in mind. I like how compatible the phone is for work purposes and having documents to go makes life much easier. I was worried this would be slow and painful to use but it is very simple and just as easy as using a tablet. I find making and receiving a call simple and the quality of the reception is good. I love the virtual keyboard and this makes a lot of the other functions a walk in the park. I love this phone, it has everything I need and the only downside is the lack of apps. Apple really had me here, they had everything I wanted, there is a big gap in apps here but having a different phone is refreshing and I am pleased with it.
When I moved in to the man pad I did not feel up to doing much to it at first but gradually as I lived there longer and started filling it with nice things, it was time to make it more my own. The one that I enjoy most is a lovely hot shower on the morning; I do not feel awake until I have washed and shaved so a good hot shower it definitely that I look forward to. The old shower in the bathroom was pathetic, it was a concoction of white and brown plastic knows and dials, a yellowed plastic head and a coil hose that was obviously supposed to be shiny chrome but was in fact brown in placed! My brother told me he would help me fit a new one so I bit the bullet and I went out and bought one, only having to do a little research about what shower would fit my system. I did not realise how expensive showers were but I wanted a decent system. A good shower will not set the difference between a good day and a bad day, but it is always great to start it well! This shower is well recommended as it's hot and powerful.
The shower costs £318.99 and it is available from DIY stores or stores such as splashdriect.com where they offer many different Mira 88 systems.
==in the box==
Mira Gem 88 Exposed Variable Shower Control
Shower head and hose with wall mount.
Installation instructions and parts including mounting template.
The shower is finished in chrome with a shiny bright finish. The shower control features a temperature control that has two brackets and a main body with a dial. This has a large turn dial for you to alter the temperature and it is easy to use when you are wet and soapy. The shower control is connected to the pipe work behind the wall. From this the hose protrudes and this is fastened to the chrome mounting frame which supports the shower head. In a perfect world I would have chosen the Built in Variable as it looks much neater rather than having a long hose collecting dust.
The shower head is supported on the frame which is also made finished in chrome. The stand allows the head to be slid up and down so if you are very tall you can still use this fitting, similarly if you are smaller then you may want to lower the head slightly and this is something that you can do easily with two hands before turning the shower on. The shower head is chrome also with a very neat looking rubber finish to it.
==Installation and useful information==
The shower comes with a 1 year manufacturer's guarantee which is not much really considering the price but if anything does go on the shower the parts are cheap and easy to source. You can install the system yourself if you feel competent but my brother offered to do it for free. It took him two hours whereas it would have probably taken me all day. The shower comes with all the parts you need and as there was already a similar shower in place already it was not as much of a tasking job as first anticipated. The pack includes a template to mark the positions of the holes for the back plate and comprehensive instructions. The hardest job was replacing and cutting the tiles as we damaged a couple taking the old shower out!
The Mira Gem 88 is not a thermostatic shower control and does not sense supply temperature or pressure variations. Therefore, inlet water temperatures and pressures need to remain constant whilst you shower or this could alter the quality of the shower.
The Mira Gem 88 is suitable for installation with the following packages:-
- Gravity fed systems (balanced pressure hot and cold)
- Pumped systems (balanced pressure hot and cold)
- Unvented thermal store (balanced pressure hot and cold)
- Unvented systems (balanced pressure hot and cold)The shower is not suitable for Instant hot water boilers/combination boilers.
I am using the Mira Gem 88 as a gravity fed shower. The shower control has to be fed from a cold water storage cistern and hot water cylinder which provide equal pressures.
==Pressure and quality of the shower ==
The Mira Gem 88 shower features three spray patterns, namely Start, Soothe and Force. These are altered with a small lever on the side of the shower head. These alter the flow of the water and they are all quite powerful. The first one is start which uses all the small holes on the head and the water flow is quite powerful but it is more like gentle rain than a monsoon. It takes longer to wash with and it can feel quite chilly as the water comes out much more slowly than on the other setting. The middle setting, soothe is the setting I use mostly as it is more powerful than the last, yet there is enough of the holes used that my whole body gets a good showering. The last one, force is so powerful it can sting a little on the skin. There are only a very small concentrated ring of holes used in the middle and this causes quite an intense jet of water. This setting is good for swilling the bath and shower out after use.
The shower is great and it is so much better than the old system. I actually look forward to my morning shower now as it is so hot and energising. Just what you need on a cold Monday morning, as it really wakes me up. The only downside to this shower is that it uses a lot of water. I get massive puddles forming around my feet as the water just cannot go down the plug quick enough, there is really that much of it. I have a water meter too so the powerful shower does not help that either, however I chose the shower for its power so I should really not be complaining. It feels like a monsoon, big and powerful and it is rather impressive that all this water comes from such a small head!
The shower is always hot and always powerful. The shower features separate temperature and flow controls to fine tune your perfect shower with easy to control dials. It has Magni-flo which gives up to 3 times more flow than similar mixer shower systems and this is the reason the shower is so powerful. The shower is coated with Clearscale technology that reduces limescale build up and it has a rubber head which is easy to wipe clean. This is a really easy to care for system and it gives a great shower.
I have yet to review my aftershave and I have been putting it off for a while. I am still rather puzzled by all the different names for men's fragrances and I wish they would just call it the same thing and then we all know where we stand. Colognes are what I'm used to, my dad wore cologne, my granddad wore cologne and colognes sound masculine; you do not buy a woman cologne. Similarly, aftershave is something that smells nice and I slap it on after shaving and it burns. This was my ritual as a young man and I learnt the pattern of behaviour from my dad. So where in all this madness does an Eau de toilette come from? Thank goodness that the word Homme is in the title of the spray or I may have been confused enough to think my brother had made a mistake with his birthday present. An eau de toilette for those fellers that wonder (and I have just researched this) is designed to be used on pulse points and is highly fragranced. Pulse points are behind the ears, neck and wrists. An aftershave should contain soothing and cooling ingredients and less perfume oils than an eau de toilette and the scent is not as long lasting. A cologne contains more perfume oils than an aftershave but less than an EDT (Eau de toilette, I am learning the lingo.) It is wholly a fragrance and designed to be used on the body but it is less powerful than an EDT. So now we have made a start, here goes my first review of a beauty product...
I am sat with the bottle in hand and I have sprayed it a number of times to try and work out what it smells of. Interestingly, it smells different when vaporised in the air rather than on my skin. I am spraying it on my wrist in order to detect the notes; however I do not usually use it here. I normally spray it on my neck and shirt and hope for the best. When I lift my wrist to my nose, the first thing I can detect is ginger. Indeed, on reading about this perfume online, the perfumer François Demachy stated he was "was aiming for a simple structure composed around ginger". As a sport fragrance, it should be simple and uncomplicated with a focus around being fresh and inviting rather than being robust and complex. I can also smell a woody undertone of sandalwood and cedar. This gives a very fresh, earthy nature to the fragrance and makes me feel rather wholesome and manly; if indeed this is an emotion at all. I cannot detect anything else about the fragrance so I have had to refer to a guide online that states that the formula is made from a concoction of ginger, citron, bergamot, grapefruit, rosemary, lavender, elemi, cedar, vetiver and sandalwood. Ginger is the first and the last note detected, it smells rather sharp at first and then it fizzles into a subtle clean smelling fragrance rather works for my skin.
I apply this once a day and always on a morning, I do not carry the bottle around so I have to cope with how long it lasts. I must say that I am disappointed with how long it lasts. I like to go for an occasional drink after work so I would like it if the fragrance lasted the full day. Unfortunately the fragrance only stays with me for a couple of hours. It is disappointing but not uncommon; I have never really found a scent that lasts on my skin. I have tried applying more of the fragrance in the hope that it will last longer as it's in abundance but I ended up giving myself a headache it was a little too overpowering. It then faded just a quickly as usual.
==MY IMPRESSIONS AND THEIR IMPRESSIONS?==
I really like the scent and I find it refreshing and clean. I love the smell of fresh ginger anyway, I was bought a shower gel that had ginger in and it made me feel so clean using it. This has the same effect; it awakens my senses and makes me feel fresh and ready for the day. Or night! I do not find the scent too powerful and it settles down in a matter of minutes with the wooded notes balancing out the fragrance and keeping it uncomplicated and subtle. I have had the bottle for around six months and despite we wearing it nearly every day, I still have around a third of the bottle left. The spray gives a good mist and I always use two pumps on my chest unless I am going out and I squirt it three times for good luck. I am pleased with the look of the bottle; it is nothing too ostentatious or pretentious nor is it shaped like anything ridiculous. I have recently seen a male fragrance shaped like a dumbbell. There really is no need to make it more masculine; it is a fragrance whichever way you want to dress it up. This bottle is see through, thick glass and labeled very subtly. The nozzle is black and red and overall it works; it looks good and it looks expensive.
I have been on two dates recently with two different women; I keep getting set up by my friends who feel sorry for me, (despite me very much enjoying my new found singledom) and only one of the woman commented on my scent. She said I smelled nice and asked what it was; I was rather pleased as it gave me a chance to show off how trendy I am! I like the confidence the fragrance gives me and it makes me feel young again. I think I will buy this fragrance again as I know how it smells and I trust it. When you find something that works, why change it!
==FINAL THOUGHTS AND COSTING==
The fragrance is very pleasant and I like the way it smells. It makes me feel fresh and confident and I would recommend it. I was worried that it would smell too young and sporty for me but it doesn't, it suits me very well. I love the scent of ginger and this really works in this fragrance; it is strong and steadfast, making the fragrance very reliable. The downside to it is that it does not last very long, I think it has completely disappeared after 2-3 hours of application. The bottle costs £44 and for this you get 50ml. This is expensive stuff but it shows through the scent and attractive bottle. Perhaps they need to work on how long it lasts but I will be buying it again.
Every woman and man knows that his home is his castle and you want to protect it as best you can. When we moved for the second time as a family, we had gone up from a three bedroom terrace to a four bedroom detached and it was lovely; this was the family home that I had dreamed about and worked so hard for. There were (and still are, unfortunately the wife and children live here alone now) two lovely gardens to the front and rear for the children and a garage for me to tinker with and do man stuff in; just don't ask ladies as you will never understand! After we moved all our lovely things in and bought some carpets and decorated, finally after 9 months of living there is was our home. Then one afternoon, I came home from my place of work to work from home and the front door was open, well not just open but the PVC door panel had been kicked in and someone had entered my territory. It was an awful feeling and even now, the thought of walking into the house on that day makes me shiver. I am fairly well built man but even I felt a little scared going inside my own home that day. I was fearful that the intruders were still inside so I called the police outside. My neighbour came out in the process and we he came with me while we checked the house. The intruders had left; taking my wife's jewellery, the kids video games and my laptop with them. They left the house in an awful state and it took a long time for us to get back to normal.
I decided that I needed to up the security levels in the house so I changed all the door locks and window locks, I added security lights and the most expensive addition was the Yale burglar alarm. The wireless system was put in by a friend as it involved climbing a ladder (fear of heights) at the front of the house and locking the box on the outside wall. No, no, no not I. I felt much better having the alarm fitted, as did my wife. It was my wife and children that concerned me most and all the time you start thinking, what if, what if. Time went on and the alarm system was used every day. The keypad and the whole set up is good quality, with it being easy to set and secure. The motion sensors were very acute though we had to move them from the door as the mail used to set it off as it got pushed through!
==Why did we need a pet friendly one?==
As the kids grew, it was time to get a new furry member of the household and we bought a little kitten as a family pet. The downside? The little thing kept setting the alarm off when we were out so we had to stop using it! I could not stand the thought of the house being unprotected in this way so I did some research on the internet to find a cure. We could not lock her in the kitchen and we needed to do something to the sensor to stop it being activated by the cat. Looking online led me to discovering this pet sensor.
==A closer look at the machine==
The pet sensor comes in individual packs or as a set of three. I had to buy three as the cat was allowed to run around the lower floors and the landing. I bought the pack and I asked my friend to come over again and change the sensors for the new pet friendly ones. You can have up to 20 sensors paired with the alarm but we do not have one in each room, we only have three in the house so it seemed only right that we replaced the three we had with the pet friendly ones. The device is really easy to pair with your system and the instructions talk you through it in a few easy steps. The device measures 23.8 x 15.2 x 7.8 cm and it is white. It is much nicer looking than the angular sensor we had before so it was good to change it. The new design is smooth, bright white and curved, like a chopped egg design. The sensor panel is central to the device and at the back you can wall mount it in the corner of the room. Now it only weights 190 grams so it does not take much effort to get the device mounted; I did not even need to touch a drill. The devices come with all the screws and plugs so that you can do the work yourself and it really is very simple. The devices sit snugly in the corner of the room and I find them quite discrete against the decor of the house.
==Does it work?==
The devices state that they will not go off for animals that are less than 26 KG of weight; they are not as powerful as the previous sensors so allow little animals to do whatever they please under the infra red but they still get activated by larger movements. We trialled the new devices out as you do and indeed the sensors worked for the kids and I but not for the cat. Hurray! We had the new sensors up for around 18 months before I left the home and only once did we come back to a sounding alarm. On this occasion, I do not know what set it off but it was not a burglar and I suspect the cat had done it by knocking the clothes horse down as it was overturned on the floor of one of the rooms that contained one of the PIR detectors. I guess the moral of the story is that the devices will not go off for cats and small dogs, but if the animals decided to make like humans do then you will be in for a noisy surprise. Since having the alarm system, the house has been safe despite statistically being more likely to be attacked again.
Cats and dogs are a nuisance when it comes to alarms and you should not let them put you off having a decent alarm system. These yale pet friendly infra red detectors work brilliantly and I am really impressed with the quality of their devices. I would recommend these to anyone who has an alarm and wants a pet or anyone who has a pet and needs an alarm! The cost of the pack of three is currently £75 and individually there are around £29.00.
I have been a fan of Mychael Danna's work for a long time and when he works with a winning director you are sure to hear a great movie score. He made his debut in 1987 with the film Family Viewing which brought him his first of thirteen Genie Awards. The soundtrack to Life of Pi was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score which is of no surprise. Danna has scored such movies as Little Miss sunshine and the time traveller's wife to the gripping 8MM and the daring Girl, Interrupted. For most of the films mentioned I have the soundtrack as I enjoy his work but most of all, if I enjoy a film I like to keep the memory of it living on.
I won't bore you with the storyline of Life of Pi but as a big fan of the novel by Yann Martel, I must say that the film is pretty good and does the book justice. The story of life of pi takes us on a journey of discovery and spirituality. Pi our hero in the book becomes shipwrecked with a number of animals and he survives on the sea for 227 days. I will stop there but must ask you the question, for those who have seen the film and read the book, "Which story do you prefer?"
The music that accompanies the film is perfect and captures the wonder, the sadness and the spirituality of certain scenes. If you have seen the film you will be able to close your eyes and enjoy the music as you recall parts of the movie. What I like about the music though is that it makes me think. It is relaxing and spiritual. Danna is famous for bringing Eastern sounds to his Orchestra and this of course is completely fitting. I enjoy Pi's lullaby which is at the beginning of the album as it sets the tone of the album. This score is revisited throughout the film and it is the most significant and beautiful of the album. Another of my favourites is Thank you Vishnu for introducing me to Christ and this is what you will hear on some of the trailers. It is a moving piece of music that is only 56 seconds long but it is very beautiful. My favourite track on the album is Skinny vegetarian boy as I love the delicate drumming that takes the listener along with it. There is an interesting piece on the album called Pi and Richard Parker. Parker is the tiger and in this piece you will hear the sadness of Pi.
It is moving and creates a real sense of urgency. The track, the whale is one of the longer tracks on the album at 2 + minutes and it features some beautiful instruments. You will hear a hang drum, and a persian ney (which is used to represent Richard Parker). You can hear a children's choir at the end too which is beautiful. The score has other instruments like dulcimer, sitar, bansuri, sarangi, guitar (played by Mychael's brother and composer, Jeff Danna) santoor and bass mandolin. The hang drum is a similar them throughout quite a few of the tracks and it is very beautiful. The score, the deepest place on Earth is full of sadness and you feel lost in it. It is short but it is rich and melancholic.
The last two tracks are worth discussing because they pull me in. On one hand, the instruments and the scores are peaceful. In which story do you prefer, you hear delicious piano notes, the dulcimer and a choir and it sounds like the sort of the track you should be listening to while having a massage and thoroughly relaxing. This is headed up by the score, the second story. This track is sad, quiet and allows you the time to think about what it going on, what Pi has really been though. The irony of the last track, how beautiful and calming it is shows us that we all prefer the first story. We want to block it out and the music doesn't allow us to do that. The words sit in our heads and we are left feeling uneasy. The last two tracks haunt me the most and as a little experiment I played the first two tracks and the last two straight after. Danna has this canny way of manipulating his audience from being quite upbeat and full of wonder to feeling abandoned and then back to enchantment.
I will list the tracks:
1. Pi's Lullaby
2. Piscine Molitor Patel
4. Meeting Krishna
5. Christ in the Mountains
6. Thank you Vishnu for Introducing me to Christ
7. Richard Parker
8. Appa's Lesson
10. Leaving India
11. The Deepest Spot on Earth
13. Death of the Zebra
14. First Night, First Day
15. Set Your House in Order
16. Skinny Vegetarian Boy
17. Pi and Richard Parker
18. The Whale
19. Flying Fish
20. Tiger Training
22. Tiger Vision
23. God Storm
24. I'm Ready now
25. The Island
26. Back to the World
27. The Second Story
28. Which Story do you Prefer?
If you are looking for music to unwind to, to play in the background whilst you relax then you will enjoy this. Some tracks manage to make me feel quite on edge though, Tiger Training for example gives you raised hackles and evokes a sense of unease as the music gets quicker and shorter. I feel quite tense. The most relaxing song on the album is meeting Krishna and this track sounds very spiritual and wondrous.
Overall, this is a beautiful album filled with some of Danna's best work. This is not the sort of soundtrack that you will forget in a hurry and for anyone who enjoyed the film you will most certainly enjoy this. You can buy it for £10.99 and you will not regret owning such an emotional rollercoaster piece of music.
There is nothing as quaint as settling back with a glass of pinot noir, watching the shadows on the wall from the roaring fire. Well alas my first evening in my new home was spent pondering, why on earth the previous owners had pulled out the old fire place and decided to have a candle in its place. It was very kind of them to leave me the candle (half melted on the hearth) but I wanted a real fire. Yes, you got the dancing shadows from the flicking candle light but it was by no means as warm as a fully fledged fire! It was not long before I got my brother to help (He is the brawn, I am obviously the brains) and we bricked up the old fireplace hole and inserted a new fire. In a perfect world I would have a roaring real fire, but unfortunately my home would not accommodate one. The Dimplex Savile was the fire I chose to warm my cockles on those lonely nights. I was limited to choosing an electric fire rather than a gas one (although I would not chose a gas fire again after my previous one gave my family carbon monoxide poisoning, we were very lucky) so the selection I had to choose from was slimmer but it was still a mammoth task. The house is quite old but there are no surviving features so I was starting with a blank canvas. I like minimal, no fuss living quarters and I wanted a fire that looked contemporary and sleek, but on the same token I wanted to make a bit of a feature of it. When I saw this one mounted on the wall in the show room, I could immediately see it in my new man pad. It is subtly interesting, very modern and it looked easy to maintain (minimal dusting) and care for.
==FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE==
The Fire measures 625 mm tall by 780 mm wide. The total depth of the fire is 190 mm so this needs baring in mind when mounting the fire. The great thing about these fires is that you can mount them anywhere, if you want to make a feature of a different wall then you can do. The exterior frame of the fire is leather effect which looks very attractive. There is a set of white smooth pebbles in the middle with two light bulbs and screen fan to give the flickering fire effect. There are three settings to control the heat and the fire. You can have it on full power which is 2kW, 1kW which is half power and then you can have it with just the flame effect working. This looks great as in the summer I still like the fire on for effect but obviously I do not need the heat.
To mount the fire you get wall brackets and plugs and it is quite simple to attach it to a wall. There is some amount of construction needed with the fire too and you need to unscrew the back fuel bed in order to change/attach the light bulbs. The light bulbs that the fire takes are, 60W E14 SES Clear Candle lamp. The fire is bright when the bulbs are replaced which is something that I needed to do only three months of having the new fire up. The fire comes with an AC plug and this can be fitted into the mains plug socket. If you want the fire on with just the light effects then you will need to still have it plugged into the supply.
==GREAT BALLS OF FIRE==
In terms of heating, the fire manages to heat the room but rather slowly. The layout of the house is awkward
as the living room and stairs are open plan so that any warm air travels straight out the room and up the stairwell. For this reason the room is hard to heat and I have to have the fire on full rather than half setting most of the time otherwise it does not do anything. If I stand close to the fire then it does not take long from turning the fire on, for me to notice that air surrounding the fire has warmed up and it does this fairly quickly. Whether the fire is on full, half or flame effect, the fire makes a very small humming noise. I always have the television or radio on as I like background noise so I do not often hear it, in fact I do ont pay any attention to it. When the kids were first over though, they were asking what the humming noise was so it obviously bothered them.
My favourite aspect of the fire is how it looks. The white pebbles look so stylish against the orange and yellow flames. The pebbles have stayed white as white which is good although they do get dusty. The leather effect frame is very modern and attractive looking. It works well with the decor I have chosen for the room such as a black leather sofa. I find the fire works well in my home and it gives the room a finished look, the fire certainly is the main attraction.
In relation to efficiency, if you only ever had the lighting flame effects on and not the heat, it would cost you around £2 a year to create this lovely environment. If you are using it for heat and indeed I have been using for most nights for the past three months, I have not noticed my bills are much higher. Electricity is much cheaper than gas anyway and combined with the fact that electrical appliances do not require the same level of care and maintenance, this makes the fire much more economical to run. There is no loss of heat up the chimney or wasted power, the heated air comes straight back into the room.
==I'M A FIRESTARTER==
Looking after the fire is easy and involves only water and a soft cloth. A dry or damp cloth can be used to clean the leather effect frame and the pebbles need a light dusting. The glass at the back of the fire needs cleaning too and this should be wiped with the damp cloth also. You should not use any abrasive cleaners or glass cleaners on the glass or the leather frame. I often use the hose of my vacuum cleaner to suck out the dust from the pebbles this is a much quicker way of dusting the flame bed and keeping the pebbles dust free. The fire does not need much looking after at all and it really is a piece of cake, as long as you turn it off before messing with it then you are fine.
==I HAVE RUN OUT OF FIRE RELATED SONGS, SO FINALLY...==
The fire looks wonderful with all the lights in the room dimmed and this being the main source of light. The flames look very real dancing across the screen and they feel visibly warmer. Even though I do not always have the heating element on, the fire effect makes the room seem warmer. The fire has a lovely surround that looks stylish and the leather effect does not look tacky as my ex wife told me it would; it looks modern and contemporary. The white pebbles make a nice clean, minimal looking fuel base for the dancing flame. I think the fire does make the room warm but because of the layout of my home, it takes a while for the heat to reach me. If I stand close to the fire though the warmth of it can be immediately enjoyed. So how much will this fire cost you? Well I paid £170 and I had to buy my brother some beers to fit it although you can fit it easily yourself! I think the fire is worth the money as it looks top of the range and I did not want to scrimp on something that was going to be a major feature in the room. I give this one four out of five stars.
Moving out of the family home brought many obstacles, one of which was the lack of belongings! Rightly so, the family home stayed intact for the children and I had to re kit my life with the things I needed. When I first left home, I ended up renting a city apartment that cost me too much money but it was close to work. The apartment was stylish, modern and had a definitive lack of comfortable floor coverings. It was laminate and tiles throughout which in term led me to buying the Vax. I used a dust pan and brush with this Vax to keep my 'home' in tip top condition. It suited the minimalist life style I had created up there as it was slim and light and modern looking. I enjoyed cleaning with the Vax because it actually felt like it was doing some good, rather than just swilling a wet mop head around. After a few months in the flat I put an offer in on a lovely little house and my life as city dweller came to an end. I took the Vax with me but unfortunately the house was carpeted throughout. (I saw unfortunately but I love having the feel of something soft beneath my feet.) There was, however tiles in the kitchen and lino in the bathroom. I regularly use my Vax to give these a good clean, however I do not use it half as much as I did in the flat. Now I only have a small space to clean, I tend to only use it once a month when doing a big clean; it just seems a lot of effort to get it out all the time when I only have a small space to clean.
The Vax can be purchased from various electrical retailers and I have even started seeing adverts now for it on the television which makes me think it is very widely available. I think I paid £89 when I bought it from Currys but I did not really have the luxury of shopping around at the time. Looking online now, you can pick it up for £69. This is a good price to pay for this and in terms of price and quality I would recommend it.
==A STEAMY ENCOUNTER==
Purchasing the Vax is interesting as you end up walking away with a small box wondering if you have picked up a mop for midgets. Opening the box gives you:
* 1 × Vax Steam Mop
* 1 × Measuring jug
* 2 × Microfibre Cleaning Pads
* 1 × Carpet Glider
* 1 × Vax Steam Detergent
* 1 × Instruction manual
* 1 × Guarantee registration card
The Vax needs assembling, hence the small box and there is a bag of screws for you to connect the sections and build your full sized Vax machine. Standing quite tall the machine is a good height, I am 5'9" and I find it a comfortable size to work with. There is a handle at the top which is smooth and plastic and easy to hold. At the top there is also the trigger button that makes the mop work. At the base of the machine is the mop head where the steam is released and in the middle section there is the water tank. This tank clips in and out with ease which makes emptying and filling up a simple, drip free process. The whole thing is light and really slim which makes the item perfect for apartment living where storage is lacking. It can be popped inside a cupboard and it really takes up minimum room. The machine runs on mains power so you will need a plug socket in easy reach. The flex lead measures around 600 mm so there is a large circumference to work in.
In the box you get two microfiber cleaning pads and for your first go you will need to pop one of these on. The pad needs placing on the floor, angle your mop head on top and then use the velcro fastening to fit it tightly to the machine. As the pad is usually quite stiff, it is best to splash a little water on the pad; this loosens it up and allows it move easier and helps the steam work quicker. After use you can take them off in the same way and wash the pad out to thoroughly clean it and then dry it. This will make the pads last longer and keep them fresher for their next outing. The next thing on the agenda is filling the water tank on the machine. As stated above, this clips off and has a water fill line for you to fill it up to. A full tank gives you around 20 minutes of steam. Even in the flat this was more than enough to do the full apartment. In the house, this is far too much so I only ever fill it half way and this way it makes it lighter to push and easier to put away afterwards. In the water tank before you clip it back on, you can now add a little of the detergent that comes with the product. This has a lovely lemon zest scent to it and gives the house a refreshing smell to it. You should only use Vax approved products with it as anything else can invalidate the warranty. They should not have the monopoly on this though as their detergent is much more expensive that the stuff you can pick up in the supermarket. I bought some Tesco hard floor cleaner and poured a little in with the water, it had a lovely alpine scent to it and it worked just as well as the Vax stuff.
==TURN ME ON AND LETS GO==
Once you have got your machine ready, you will need to plug it in and turn it on. There is a little indication light that turns green the machine is hot enough to use. It does not take long to become ready and it is a couple of minutes before you can crack on with the cleaning. To use the machine pull the machine backwards and place a foot on the head, this then keeps the head flat on the floor but puts the handle at a comfrotable angle to push. Take a hold on the handle and pull the trigger to release the steam. You can then use it like a vacuum and push and pull it across the floor in long strokes. As you do this you will see that the section you have just completed is steaming a little.
==CLEAN AS A WHISTLE==
I find the machine to clean floors exceptionally well and it leaves them close to being dry which is another great advantage of using the Vax. In the flat before buying the Vax I had a mop and bucket left by the previous tenant. I mopped the whole flat and then found myself in a corner in the bedroom unable to get back to the kitchen for fear of standing on the wet floor! I had to shuffle back and then mop over my steps but it took forever for it to dry! When I first used this in the flat, it was a godsend as I was able to mop the living area and kitchen and then once I had tackled the hall, the living quarters were dry again. Using the mop in the flat was great and it removed prints from dirty shoes, water marks in the bathroom and overall gave the floor a nice shine that was not sticky or greasy.
In the kitchen I am a messy worker and often drop sauces, tea stains and spills of red wine. The vax lifts these off in a second and leaves the floor shiny without being greasy. The lino in the bathroom is another good one to clean and to be honest, it gets it more hygienically clean than I ever could. Vax state that the mop kills 99.9% of bacteria which is great and having the machine means I never have to get on my knees and scrub the floor. The kitchen tiles have grout between them and this is quite hard to clean usually as it can stain quite easily. The mop cleans all the grout and tiles and leaves them looking very clean. The mop has a slightly curved angled head which is fine for long sections of floor but for some reason I always drop sauce just in the corners and this mop can not get it. I have to use kitchen towel to finish this little square. It is only about an inch or so square but it just cannot get right in the corner. It does however manage to get right into the skirting board due to having a flat edge. Along with using the mop on hard floors, in the pack you will find a carpet glider. This allows you to freshen your carpet with the steam but I have yet to use this as I have just replaced all my carpets and they are lovely and fluffy. I have used it on the runner in the kitchen though and although it did not do anything spectacular, it did leave it quite dry rather than soaking wet.
It probably is a fitting time to mention that not all steam mops are suitable for laminate floors. I was recommended this steam mop as it was suitable for this type of flooring. Laminate can swell if it gets very wet so some mops that use a lot of steam power can make it buckle and swell. This mop uses less steam than others with the advantage of also using detergent to clean. The detergent aspect is great as it means grease and dirt is cut through so easily and it leaves the floor with a lovely scent. I like how easy it is to push and how quick it is to get hot. I actually thought I would be waiting ages for it to heat up but it really is less than two minutes.
I am pleased with the results of this mop and I love how small it is. Funny enough, it takes up less room than the mop and bucket!
How did one survive without sat navs? The ability to locate a flashing point on a map and find out where you are; all thanks to the wonder that is GPS never ceases to amaze me. I am a terrible map reader, my ex wife who was actually in post as girlfriend at the time spent many a trip fighting with me over my dire navigation skills! Now no one needs to suffer this dreadful, tedious task thanks to the handy devices we come to know as sat navs. This is my latest one and it was provided by work, luckily, as my job involves visiting different sites around the country. The previous model I owned was also a Tom Tom but the company decided that the newer one was much safer for us on the road as it operates a speak and go system. I would never operate my sat nav whilst driving and indeed did pull over to the curb side to programme it; however some of my colleagues did not and fell afoul of the 'using an electronic device whilst driving' legislation. After two company cars were hit with fixed penalty notices and the drivers fined, our IT department decided to reinvest in the new, all singing, all dancing Tom Toms. Alas, they do not sing, nor dance, but they are well equipped to take you where you need to go.
==WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, I GIVE TO YOU... TOM==
Tom the TomTom is a small unit and rather slim. It is small enough to carry you in your pocket (ouf do not leave it in your car on display or you will most certainly find your car with a broken window and your beloved Tom stolen) and it is very light. Speaking of thieves, you can set up a pin on the machine in order to prevent someone being able to operate it if they do not know the pin. I have not activated this feature as I always take the machine out and store it in my locked briefcase which I carry with me. The display is very fine indeed and you have a very large, 5 inch screen so you can see the road clearly. The screen is bright and you have a good range of visibility on it. No matter where you have it on the screen or dashboard, you can easily see the bright screen.
I like to position it on the far right of the window and to be honest, I prefer to follow the voice commands, although sometimes a helpful arrow can point you in the right direction (literally.) The suction mount is small and very compact, in fact the whole mounting system is different to the one I had before. It holds the machine well and it holds it at a useful angle to view it. The screen is touch screen and it quick to react to your finger movements. When you first set up the sat nav up, you will find the menu intuitive and easy to navigate. I would go as far as calling this a plug and play device as there are very minimal preparations needed to use it. In order to use Tom's Speak and Go facility you still need to touch a button. I chortled at this because the whole reason we bought the new machines was in order to keep our hands free and pesky little fingers firmly clamped to the wheel rather than fumbling with the machine. One button though, you only have to hit one button to get it started so I suppose it is much improvement on the last models.
==SPEAK AND GO==
So, on here you are pretty anonymous. I bet none of you knew I have a scouse accent? I was brought up in Ellesmere Port which is close to Chester (how I like to sell it, but it is also close to Liverpool) I now live in Manchester so I have a right old mix going on. I panicked over the speak and go function as I was convinced that the machine would have trouble with my accent(s.) I was so wrong and this machine is very accurate at fetching the address first time. You can say the whole address, 33 Light Street, London without long pauses between and it works perfectly. I would go as far as saying that the speak and go system is much, much quicker than manually inputting addresses. With sausage fingers like mine, you often hit the wrong key. This is so much easier and as my earlier comments suggest, you can do it whilst you are moving! Perfecto. So what are the drawbacks to speak and go? Well you verbalise a post code. This is annoying because as we all have sat navs, the team often give us locations with just a unit name and a post code! This involves you having to put it in manually which is a shame. It recognises house numbers so it really should recognise post codes. This is a shame.
On the plus side, you can navigate home or to your favourite location with ease. I think on the whole, speak and go is a great addition and it makes my old Tom feel very obsolete. This is fast, easy and very accurate. Speak and go is not only good for inputting addresses and navigating to them, you can also search for things like petrol stations, hospitals or restaurants and Tom comes back with a loving list of near stations tallied with a number, to go to one of those locations you then just need the number! Another superb feature is being able to yell, "avoid roadblock" and Tom will re-route you.
==A QUICKY WITH TOM==
Tom is not one of those sat navs that have to think about things for long periods of time, some machines really dwell over the commands you give or take ages to pick up GPS. Tom connects so quickly, at lightening speeds and locates addresses quickly and easily. It takes around 4-5 seconds to calculate a 1000 km journey and on the whole this journey is made as painless as possible. The spoken commands it gives are loud and definitive. Directions and street names are given which is a massive advantage.
The sat nav provides helpful insight into where the speed cameras are so you can slow down to the correct speed and avoid a real sting in the pocket when you get a fine. These are very accurate and I would say that the model I own is very up to date with the latest cameras. In terms of traffic updates, this model is not equipped to link to the live system unlike the old one I had so you are not able to get up to date weather or traffic news. I was upset by this as I really enjoyed having access to this on my dashboard. Never mind, though as I have a smart phone and I can pick up all relevant information though this. What I do like about this machine though is that you can find the most eco route to travel. Although these are not always the quickest to arrive you can save money on fuel. As work pay for my fuel, this is only something I come to appreciate on a weekend when the fuel costs are my own. The machine charges via the mains supply or you can charge with the car charger.This machin really can hold its charge (at a guess,6-8 hours) but mostly I keep it plugged in the car so I do not run out of steam.
Another feature and one that I have just mastered is the hands free facility. I have managed to connect my mobile to the sat nav and use the microphone and speakers. This means that I can always answer my phone when I am in the car and I never miss an important call, although most of the time it's the kids asking for money. They really think I am made of money! Most phones are compatible with this system but the box and instructions explain it in more detail.
I like this machine and I much prefer it to the old one I had. I find the machine much easier to programme thanks to the speak and go system. The only downside is that you can not verbalise post codes, I think that TomTom are really missing a trick here and it would be interesting to see if Garmin evoke the same system or whether it is better. Overall, I find this a really quick machine and it is very accurate. I feel like I can completely rely on it. In terms of cost you can buy this for £199 for the 5 inch screen model and UK maps. If you want Europe, you can buy this extra as an additional SD card or you can pay more initially for it to be already loaded on to the machine. I think that this is a far price to pay for the sat nav and it really does feel top of the range. I highly recommend it.
Well the kids came over Friday and Saturday (today is Sunday) and the house looks like a bomb has gone off! The youngest was cutting and sticking with an art pack and my eldest was playing on the Xbox eating crisps. There is clear evidence on the carpet that they were Pringles and that my daughter was cutting up pink card! Time to get out the vacuum I think! The DC32 was a recent purchase and bought because it was small looking and easy to store. After splitting with the wife, I ended up in a studio flat with no carpets at all. After sorting my finances out I bought a new house, modestly sized for a single man but it is carpeted throughout, so I had to go out and buy a new vacuum. I am not one to scrimp on quality and the old Dyson vacuum belonging to the wife did the job just perfectly so I made my mind up to stick with the brand I was used to. Slightly baffled by the amount of Dyson vacuums ranging from the very small to ones the size of light aircraft, I picked the DC32 Animal pro.
==THE ANIMAL. WHERE THE BARK IS WORSE THAN THE BITE==
The little vacuum is small, distinctively a Dyson in the cylinder vacuum style. The main part of the machine is red and the wheels and hose are grey. The height of the machine is 35 cm high and it is 49 cm long from tip to base with the hose coiled. The width of the vacuum is 30 cm which means you can stack it on the stairs when you vac them rather than having to carry it. This is definitely good thing as it is quite heavy, there is an easy to carry handle but as the 8.5Kg weight is not evenly distributed, it swings and bumps on your leg. The vacuum is bag less and all the dust that is sucked up is stored in the plastic see through bin in the middle. The bin holds 2L but believe me when I say that this fills up quick! The machine sucks up a heck of a lot of dirt, hair and dust and so fills the bin in next to no time. The bin clips in and out from the little stand in the centre of the vacuum, here you will find a little button that pops the bin out. There is a little max level mark and as soon as the dust reaches this line, it means that you need to empty it as the suction can be impaired. As the pull the bin off, you can use the little handle to carry it to the bin before removing the lid and emptying it out. I find emptying the bin a very clean manoeuvre, even when unclipping it, no dust escapes. Once it goes in, there is only one way it is coming back out.
The cylinder vacuum features a long head on the bottom which is adjustable for hard or carpet floors. It has either sponge rims that glide along the hard floor surface or if you push down on the head, tiny little bristles pop down which are good for carpet cleaning as not only do you get good suction action, you get a nice brushing action too. This main head is on an adjustable silver tube which extends to the correct height you need it. It clicks into place and at the top of the silver tube is a handle which allows you push and pull the head across the surfaces you are vacuuming. This rigid silver tube is attached to a windy tube one which allows the dirt to travel along and into the bin.
==THE ANIMAL UNLEASHED==
To turn the vacuum on, firstly pull out the hidden extension cord and pop the plug in the socket. Set up the vacuum by pulling the silver tube out and connect the main head. There is a button on the base of the machine which is designed to be activated with your foot so give it a good tap and then the machine kicks in to life. The machine is loud and has a suction rating of 280AV. Dyson state that the Dyson DC32 has an extra stage of cyclonic separation - a core separator. It gives a boost in cyclone efficiency and helps capture microscopic dust down to 0.7 microns in size (that's 1/1000th of a pin head). The machine is less noisy than the old vacuum we had but it is still a bit of a distraction when someone else in the house is trying to watch television. The vacuum works well and visibly leaves streaks on the carpet, so you can see where you have been, these brush out but it just shows you how powerful the vacuum is as it pulls against the pile of the carpet. I have used this on my lino in the kitchen and at one point it was lifting the lino up! I did not realise that the old occupiers had not glued it down! I had to hit the stop button pretty sharpish.
I find the vacuum impressive to use and it makes vacuuming a quick household job now. The only complaints I have concern getting under radiators and into corners. I find that the edge of a room never gets reached by the machine and I have to swap heads to make sure that all the dust by the skirting board is sucked up. Not only this, I find the floor head does not reach under the radiators in my house so I have to get the thin nozzle to finish the job. All the vacuum tools are stored on the machine as part of the plastic casing; it is quite cool how all the tools fit on board the machine. The tools slot into the head of the nozzle and once in correctly, they are airtight and do not dislodge. To remove there is a little catch which releases the tool and you are ready to stick the next one in. There is an upholstery brush and a stair brush along with the elongated crevice tool. All the tools have their uses and I use them on the sofa and in hard to reach places. When you have finished your vacuuming you can unplug the cord, there is a button on the machine that retracts the cord and keeps things looking really tidy. The lead measures 650 cm. There is a little bit of red tape towards the end of the cord so you know when it is nearly running out. The machine can stretch to a distance of 10m when you factor in the length of the tube and head. The machine runs on 360 degree wheels that pivot and twist as you pull it along the floor. These wheels do not run very smoothly on carpet and the weight of the machine can be a little bit of a struggle sometimes. The wheels run much smoother on lino and it flies across the floor.
==KEEPING YOUR ANIMAL IN TIP TOP CONDITION==
The vacuum is very low maintenance but there are some things you can do to prolong the life of the machine. The head often gets clogged up with hair so gently pull over the bristles and remove particles and hair that should not be there. The tool should ahve nothing blocking the opening and you should be able to look down the end and not see anything blocking it. The main tube can be disconnected from the base and again this needs checking for blockages. The bin can be rinsed out and left to dry but the main thing to keep on top of is the filter, this is stored under the lid and can be removed. There is the image of a tap on one side, this means that this is the side that the water needs to flow on. I just leave it in the sink and run warm water through it to remove the dirt. I then pop it on the radiator to dry it. I have just done this for the first time which is about 6 months after purchase. I think 6 months of dirt is adequate. Cleaning the filter keeps the Dyson performing well.
==COST AND FINAL THOUGHTS==
The price of this machine is £260 and I bought it through an online website and I had it delivered. I can't remember exactly where I bought it from because at the time I was trying to fully kit out the house and spend a lot of money at tonnes of shops! I think that the vacuum is expensive for what it is, it is an excellent vacuum at sucking up dirt and dust, however it frustrates me that the head does not get flush with the wall and it does not reach under the vacuum. I also get a little frustrated at the wheels which feel stiff as they run over the carpet. I like the style of the vacuum and I find it comfortable to hold. In terms of recommendation, I probably would say go for a smaller machine. It's weight and size makes it cumbersome to use. For the price I expected it to make the vacuuming a quicker job but having to mess about with different tools makes the process a little tedious.
==Intro, my opinion and a brief synopsis==
I have bought all the Chris Nolan Batman films and I personally find the last one my favourite. I have fully enjoyed the trilogy and after buying the last film I feel quite nostalgic and sad it has had to end! The Dark Knight rises is a long film with a run time of 165 minutes but you will not be bored at all. I was kept on the edge of my seat throughout the whole film. Batman is a character I have grown up with and still have quite a few of the comics that I loved as a young man. I knew the story line briefly from reading the comic but I was still shocked to see a broken and beat up Bruce Wayne at the beginning of the film. Christian Bale has aged a lot but he looks so brow beaten at the start of the film. This makes the film all the more intense because you are rooting for the caped hero throughout, you really get behind him and he becomes the symbol of hope for the audience.
There is a great scene where he lights the bat symbol on a building and you want to get up and cheer. He is back! Batman has hung up his cape and cowl and lives as a recluse. His home is covered in dust sheets and there is nothing happy about the environment he lives, his wealth is dwindling and he is just a lonely old man rather than infamous Batman. As he took the blame for Harvey Dent's murder, he shut himself off from the world. The film is set 8 years after the last one which introduced us to the Joker and Gotham city, finally is a place of peace and prosperity. Obviously this peace is short lived as Bane plans to destroy civilisation as they know it and cat woman is wreaking havoc. Batman has to dust off his bat mobile and right all the wrongs. I think the reason that I was not bored through the film is because there are so many interconnecting stories that link the whole film together. It is a great story, but there are side stories that make it so amazing. The main story is Bane trying the take over and redistributing the world's wealth but we also go back to the first film and finds the roots here. Catwoman has a major part to play and Ann Hathaway is as sexy as ever in her luxurious black PVC attire. My favourite character apart from Batman is Bane. Played by Tom Hardy, this character had my utterly convinced. Tom plays a hulk of a man with a strange voice changing mask on. We learn a lot about this character and despite his anger, craziness and terrorist nature, I warmed to him. Ton has really bulked up for this film and I found him one of the best Batman nemesis'.
The action in this film is phenomenal, the way the terrorist attack is portrayed is mind blowing but my favourite scenes are the chase scenes. The bat bike with its massive wheels is a huge machine and it is fantastic seeing it race around. The first scene in the film is probably one of the most well choreographed scenes I have ever seen involving the hijacking of a plane whilst it is in flight, the wings are torn off and the whole scene had me in awe. Honestly it is absolutely fantastic and even better when you find out that it is shot with real stunt men and Chris Nolan the director is cicling above in a helicopter! This scene must have cost thousands of pounds and hours to shoot but it was worth it. It was truly amazing and sets the film up well. I had great expectations at this point for the film but luckily it did not disappoint at all. I was overwhelmed by some of the scenes that Bale found himself in. I do not want to give too much away but all the characters in this film play really good roles. When batman has his back broken, the road to recovery is portrayed so well by Christian Bale and he does a wonderful job. Even I cringed at certain points as he has his back snapped back into place.
In terms of the music, there are echos of the last film the dark Knight and indeed the same composer did create the score. Any Batman film must start with the swooshing which symbolises the cape and then the music opens with a dark, lonely piece as we see Bruce Wayne broken. There is also chanting in the film which is really symbolic, deshi basara is repeated over and over again and literally thousands of voices are joined together. It is quite moving, especially as we see Bruce Wayne trying to climb the walls of the prison and it means, "Rise Up." It sounds like Arabic but Hans Zimmer the composer will not say which language it actually is.
The film ends with a bang, literally and without giving much away you really are thrown from pillar to post. There is a massive twist at the end that makes it all fall in to place and I did not guess the ending until right at the end. I was utterly impressed with this film. I went to the cinema with my young lad to watch it and then as soon as it was released on Blu Ray I went out and bought it. This is definitely one to watch and even if you have not seen the last film, you can still enjoy this one. There are enough details and information given for you to work out who is who and what is what. I can whole heartedly recommend it. The blu ray costs £15 and contains the following extras, some are really good and worth the extra money. The best bit which my so loves is the High Altitue Hijacking as this is an incredible stunt to watch.
* The Batmobile
* The Prologue: High-Altitude Hijacking
* Return to the Batcave
* Beneath Gotham
* The Bat Pod
* Batman vs Bane
* Armory Accepted
* Gameday Destruction
* Demolishing a City Street
* The Pit
* The Chant
* The War on Wall Street
* Race to the Reactor
* The Journey of The Dark Knight
* Gotham's Reckoning
* A Girls Gotta Eat
* Shadows & Light in Large Format
* The End of A Legend
* Trailer Archive