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Due to the 500 word restrictions this is a film only review. This has been my latest purchase of the old Dr Who series with perennial favourite Tom Baker in the lead role. Tom played the doctor in the guise of a science teacher who you were not always sure still had all his marbles. He was well known for his unscripted lines especially when it came to offering jelly babies. Most of these were left in but sometimes Tom had to be told to do the script as written. This story was first televised October to November 1977 Brief plot: A strange skull has been unearthed, almost certainly human but with one minor problem ? the volcanic deposits it was found in are 12 million years old. Just how did it get there? Scientists are playing with time experiments trying to unlock the secrets of the skull, the Doctor has to stop them before something unimaginable in horror is unleashed but can he get there in time?. My thoughts: OK this certainly won''t win any award for its special effects. This boils down to a simple camera overlay technique and a fiberglass skull with a bulb inside but considering the budget they had to work with in the 70s they have done quite well. I often find that the older stories were better written and frankly most of the better acted than the more recent series as now they rely on all the wiz bang special effects rather than acting ability. OK this story is a bit hammer house of horror like but the plot is a good one. Tom is still at the height of his powers as the Doctor but for me this time he is out classed and out acted by Daphne Heard as the local ?psychic''. Also Denis Lill as Dr. Fendelman does put in a good performance but his put on accent does crack at times. The sets in general have been well put together and even though the computer banks in the lab may look very out of date by today''s standards they were (or with lots of cardboard and sticky back plastic made to look like they were) probably almost state of the art when the series was made. The lighting in the cellar/chapel does help to add a sinister edge to that particular part of the story as does some of the incidental music used. The aliens are well the usual old Dr Who standard. You know the foam rubber and bubble wrap painted green which looks like the work of a Blue Peter presenter that has had a liquid lunch. Still just keep reminding yourself this was low budget at its best. I have a more detailed review of this on my ciao account.
I don''t think words can convey just how bad this latest change to dooyoo is. Three months on and many members are still unable to even log in and others still can''t post reviews. All dooyoo say is that they are working on solving these bugs. From what I can see the site is so full of bugs even Rentokil would throw up their hands in defeat. Most companies would have toughly tested the new site before it goes live but that appears to have been far too much trouble for dooyoo. They inflicted it upon the UK members ? and ONLY the UK members and seemed to expect us to test it for them. The result has been almost four months of a website that is about as much use as a cat flap in an elephant house. Then we come to the layout which looks like the result of a rushed year 9 homework. To say it is clunky and difficult to navigate would be an understatement. The reviews are also badly formatted and even if we do put in paragraphs these are nearly always lost resulting in a big block of text which makes the review much harder to read. Then when we do manage to post a review many of us don''t even get the miles we are owed ? this matter is raised on their facebook page and, just like everything else it gets ignored or a patronising comment about ?bugs in the system'' followed by an infuriating smiley is left. The other revolting changes are that on the re-launch dooyoo stated that they would be concentrating more and more on three small areas including health and beauty and fashion. Well what a slap in the face this is to those of us who write in sections such as travel and kitchen appliances. The imposed 500 word limit is fine for something like a perfume or a kitchen cleaner but not enough for something like an LED TV or travel. Then we have the rating system, gone is the four level system replaced with a two level one. How many times before this downgrade of the website were we told to ?use all four levels''? Then we have the spammers who post the same review in many sections and those who copy the work of others but don''t get removed. Alerting the team to this gets the same result as all other contact ? it is ignored. I find it unbelievable that it is only the UK site that has suffered this terrible fate. The German, Spanish, French and Italian sites are still the old site. It appears that dooyoo are treating the UK members as a pack of lab rats to experiment on to see if their new site works. The result is that it doesn''t. Now give us the old site back ? you know the one that worked.
I suffer from a mild case of combination skin on my face and have a slightly oily 'T' zone. Whilst I do use a separate cleanser and toner every other day I keep a pack of these on hand as they are quick to use and save me having to take bottles and cotton wool with me when I go away or if I'm at work and the hot weather hits. I bought my most recent pack from my local supermarket when they were on offer for 4.33 GBP Whilst they are slightly expensive as I have found out in the past no witch product is tested on animals and they do work so I don't mind paying a little bit more. Whilst these do claim they will remove make up as I do not ware any I cannot comment on this claim. The pack has 25 good sized wipes in a re-sealable pouch which is easy to open and to close again. The wipes themselves are about the size of a non-man sized tissue and they are moist but not so damp you have to dry your face after having used them. They have a nice clean sort of smell to them but no real perfume. The wipe is similar in strength to those surface cleaning wipes so will not fall apart before you have finished using them. These do do a good job at clearing up my slightly oily 'T' zone to leave it clear and so removes the shine which can be caused by the oil on the skin. The also refresh my face leaving it feeling clean which can be good on a hot summer's day. Whilst the cleanse isn't as deep as my regular cleanser it allows me to keep on top of it so hopefully preventing a breakout of spots which although I am not overly prone to we do all get the odd one or two now and then. They do not leave any residue on my skin and for me one wipe is enough to do the job. After using the wipe there is no actual dryness on my skin but there is perhaps a slight tightening of the skin over my forehead due to the witch hazel but this is a temporary feeling. The pack states that the wipes should be used within 3 months of opening the pack for the first time but this is not a major issue for me as I do tend to use them within this time.
After battling with a devil of a sore throat for a while I finally decided to give this a go. Whilst it is more expensive than I really wanted to pay at around the 5.50 GBP mark I felt it was worth it if it worked. Also if all 3 sprays are used per dose it contains just over 33 doses so compared to a certain brand of throat lozenges it isn''t too bad. It also has quite a long shelf life which is also good.
The bottle has spray nozzle which makes using it a bit easer although I did have to stand in front of a mirror the first couple of time I used it it did become easier after that. The nozzle can be rotated so you can direct it better towards the site of the pain. The spray system makes it easy to get the dose right and it does work very quickly. The feeling after using it is quite unusual as the anaesthetic (benzocaine) numbs the back of the throat very quickly and this rather odd feeling does last for a while but it either passes or you get used to it and stop noticing it ? I can''t tell which. The pain does go quickly and is kept away for a good length of time. However, it will not treat the under lying problem as it is not an antiseptic. The fact the back of the throat is numb does have its down side as if you eat and/or something soon afterwards then there is possibly an increased risk of burning your throat as you can''t feel anything and it may affect your ability to swallow.
The one I have is the cherry flavoured one well it certainly does not taste like real cherry but very few things do. It is a cloying, over powerful and slightly acidic synthetic flavouring rather reminiscent of cheap cherry sweets but without the sweetness. The redeeming feature of the taste is that it does not linger too long.
The bottle is quite small and can be carried fairly easily in an inside jacket pocket or handbag and the cap won''t just fly off. The box also has a small amount of braille on it which is becoming quite standard on a lot of things.
WARNING: If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should not use this product and it must not be used by children under 6.
Yes I've been trawling through the original series of Dr Who again and I came across this gem from the Jon Pertwee era. This was the first story of the final series which regularly saw Pertwee as the Doctor and this is also the first story to feature Sarah Jane Smith and introduced the Sontarans (this is in the first 5 minutes of episode one so not much of a spoiler there).
This story was first screened in 4 parts from December 1973 - January 1974
In middle age England a Sontaran ship has crash landed close to a castle recently (and before the story begins) raided and taken over by Irongron and his band of brigands. The Sontaran needs help to fix his ship and perhaps these less than intelligent humans will be easily persuaded to help....
Back in the modern times (well 1970s) the Doctor has been taken by UNIT to a top security facility for his own safety due to some top scientists going missing. Here he meets Sarah Jane Smith for the first time and soon realises that she is far feistier than Jo Grant was.
As a further scientist goes missing the Doctor knows something is wrong, he believes someone is messing with time - this he must stop but can he do it in time, especially as the TARDIS can be a touch unreliable. Can he succeed as well as keeping himself and Sarah Jane alive. Especially when he realises that Sarah Jane is going to be trouble....
What I thought of it
Jon Pertwee has quickly become my second favourite Doctor (just behind Tom Baker) the third Doctor was portrayed as a man of science and a deep thinker and a believer in pure mathematics. Pertwee's Doctor became well known for his technobabble as well as his rather nifty martial art moves. Also the Doctor appears to have lost his aversion to computers which both the first and second doctor had. Pertwee's Doctor was also more physical in not being afraid to attack any enemy when cornered and did far more running around than the first two put together.
As with many of the original run the acting in this story is top notch by nearly all the main cast. There is a touch of over acting by John Carney as Bloodaxe and perhaps a few too many extras but that always happens. June Brown (yes her from EastEnders) in the part of Lady Eleanor steals several scenes and as the viewer you are left with no doubt that when it comes to Wessex castle it is she who wares the trousers. However the best overall performance has to go to David Daker as Irongron as his portrayal as a malevolent power crazed mercenary does shine through also as does his exasperation at being surrounded by, in his view, idiots. The only way this part could have been better would have been if Brian Blessed had played it.
Some parts of the story do look as if far more has been spent on them than the budget would have actually been. Some does hit the quality of a mid budget film set in the same era. The writing and plot is, in my opinion, far superior to any of the most recent series with Matt Smith as the Doctor. The story line overcomes the lack of any wiz bang special effects which are used in the more recent series to mask any real writing skills. However, in the days before CGI it is still amazing what they were able to do. None of the main cast seem to have the 'well it's work' look about them although some of the extras do seem to crop up in different scenes and different parts - well it kept the costs down a bit.
The costumes for the parts in the middle ages have been well made although how authentic they are will remain a mystery. Although with the look of some of them I can hear a voice saying "fancy them having full polyester back then".
The sets are well made considering the budget they would have had to work with and the gloominess of the 'castle of Irongron' does come through in a number of scenes, however, sometimes the studio lights do reflect off surfaces and so the feeling is partially spoilt by this. Some of the interior walls do look a bit fake rather like stone cladding but I think we can forgive them that. The Sontaran ship looks like it has been made out of polystyrene ceiling tiles (Well they were cheap). The computer banks etc. in Linx's lab do look like ones that were removed from power station control rooms when more up to date ones were put in but still look advanced for the early 70s. The exterior of the castles and courtyard scenes were shot at Peckforton castle in Cheshire whilst the interiors are BBC sets. Still it is this low tech, by today's standards appearance which is part of their charm.
A well written and for 90% of the time well-acted story. Far better than the story lines used in the rebooted series.
Beginning the End (filmed in 2007)
This looks at the time this story aired the regular production team had decided to move on and Jon Pertwee had said he would be leaving Doctor who during the series. Also, tragically Roger Delgado who was the first person to play The Master had died in a car accident. Producer Barry Letts opened by saying that Jon's decision to leave wasn't a surprise as he had been doing it for five years and how the success of the show had improved since casting him in the part. Terrance Dicks the script editor says that Jon left as he was being offered lots of good work but had to turn it down due to Dr Who. They also explain how they managed to get over the problem that the historical stories got lower viewing figures as viewers saw them as a history lesson.
Also included is how they introduced Sarah Jane Smith and gave her more of a backbone and less of a Penelope Pitstop crying for help the whole time. Elisabeth Sladen was also interviewed for this talking about how she got the part and what she thought of her time on the programme and the rest of the cast and crew.
Also included is how they got the rest of the cast for the story and how they got on with each other and how when the first choice for Irongron wasn't available how they took advice to get David Daker for the part and how some of the not so special effects were done.
The same story but with some of the effects replaced with more up to date CGI ones. These are only small changes such as a full beam for Linx's weapon rather than just a coloured bulb. The changes are so slight it doesn't distract from the acting.
Trails and continuity:
All the announcements etc. made by the BBC at the start of the first episode and then saying what the new story would be.
Indigestion and heartburn isn't something that my other half or I suffer from very often but it is always wise to have something in for that occasional bout (normally when I have overdone the chilli in a curry). Gaviscon is the brand which I keep in the cupboard.
I tend to buy the smaller 150ml bottle so the description of the bottle is based on this. My most recent one cost me £3.70 from Boots
The bottle is fairly easy to open and does have an inner seal so you know if it has been tampered with or not. The large cap is easy to get a grip on so those with dexterity problems should also be able to open this with little difficulty. The label and instructions etc. come in layers which does do away with the far too easily lost paper instructions. On the top layer there is also an area of braille as well although this is not repeated on the other layers of the label. The cap is not a child proof one so although this is not exactly dangerous it would be wise to keep it well out of the reach of young children.
I find this liquid format far better than the gaviscon tablets which are also available as I don't like the really chalky texture of the tablets. Also I prefer this one to the mint ones as I find the mint ones tend to taste a bit too much like toothpaste.
After giving it a good shake open and pour onto your tea spoon. The liquid is quite thick and a fairly bright pink (not my favourite colour). There is no strong smell to it which is always a good thing. Whilst the taste isn't really reminiscent of real aniseed it is still reasonably pleasant. This difference in flavour is because it does not actually contain any aniseed but rather fennel flavour instead. Fennel does taste similar to aniseed but not exactly the same. There is a slight chalkiness to the taste and texture but as long as it does the job I can live with this as it is no-where near as bad as the tablets. The taste does linger for a while after taking it as does that slight chalkiness but that is not a big issue for me as a glass of water normally takes care of that chalkiness. The after taste is not strong and it doesn't change the taste of anything you eat or drink after tasking it.
I find that this does the job that it is sold for. Ok it isn't as instant as it appears to work on the adverts but the pain associated with indigestion and heartburn is relieved within a few minutes normally after just one dose and it normally keeps it away as well which is a big plus. Can I feel it coating my oesophagus (sorry, my biology A-level does come back to haunt me at times) as it goes down? Well, no not really but the relief it brings from heartburn is certainly noticeable.
Simply put this product works for me and I will buy it again although it is a bit expensive.
Now I have nothing against bars of soap but I hate it when they go all slimy underneath and as I use shower gels etc a bar just to wash my hands with would last a very long time. The solution in my flat for a long time has been liquid soap or hand wash. I don't stick to one particular brand in this area and I tend to buy the one which is on offer. I bought this one from my local Sainsbury's for £1 down from the usual £1.60 price for a 250 ml bottle.
Now as I have said in a previous review I am not one for all of these anti-bacterial things but after using the toilet and when cooking I feel this extra protection is needed and I tend to have this kind of soap or hand wash in my bathroom and kitchen.
This bottle is in my kitchen as when I'm cooking I'm forever washing my hands especially when using chicken. The fact that the claim is that it kills 99.9% of bacteria is a major bonus here. It probably does kill 100% of bacteria but this is hard to definitively prove.
The pump action does deliver a good amount of gel in each pump and I find that one pump is plenty to wash my hands with. The gel is fairly thick so it won't just run off your hands as soon as it hits them. It lathers up well and there is no strong smell to it and that it does have dissipates quickly in use which, when preparing food, is always a big plus. The gel leaves my hands not only looking clean but feeling and smelling clean as well which is always a bonus.
The pump mechanism, although rather stiff, does give the impression that it won't drop to bits half way through using the bottle. The pump head can be screwed back into the neck to lock it so you can take it away in your bag/luggage so it won't spill anywhere - or so you can stop your 6 year old nephew from pumping it all down the sink.
Although the aloe vera content is small it is enough to stop drying the skin on my hands out like regular soap can do. I can't say that it makes my hands any softer but it certainly does not make them feel like I have had industrial degreaser over them like with other brands I have tried. The product does rise off the skin well and no residue is left behind. I do not suffer from sensitive skin but I fell this product could be used by those who do with no problems. The bright green colour of the gel can be seen through the bottle and it doesn't exactly fit in with my kitchen tiles but you can't have everything.
The '18M' symbol on the back indicates that it has an 18 month shelf life after it is first opened, although a bottle never lasts me that long so it isn't a major problem. Looking on the list of ingredients there are no parabens in the product which is another plus.
This hand wash does a good job of keeping my hands clean as well helping them feel well cared for.
My latest view of the classic Dr Who brings us to another one for the Tom Baker era. Now as I have said in the past Tom Baker is my favourite Doctor with David Tennent and Jon Pertwee close behind in joint second. Tom took to the part quickly and with his occasional unscripted line and his rather eccentric portrayal made him a fan favourite.
This story was first broadcast in September 1977 in four 25 minute parts.
An old lighthouse stands watch over Fang Rock when a strange light is seen by one of the men manning it followed by a strange cold fog. The Doctor and Leela arrive close by having, as usual, taken that wrong turn off from the space time continuum.
Reuben, the old light house keeper fears that an old superstition about the beast of Fang Rock has come true, the Doctor is less sure. Something quite unwelcome has arrived and the Doctor needs to find who or what it is and quickly before s/he or it can complete their plan.
What I thought of it:
Ok so the classic run won't win any BAFTAs for its special effects especially this one with the projected back screen used behind the lamp room of the light house to what looks like pink highlighter used for the landing 'ship' it always was a bit basic but considering the budget they had, when it was made and no access to CGI they still did very well. That's it the days of bubble wrap sprayed green and pipes from old vacuum cleaners sprayed silver (well they were), exterior shots that look like plastic models on papier-mâché and painted polystyrene(again...).
The interior sets are well done especially that of the lamp room. The gloominess of it lit only by paraffin lamps at times and the cramped conditions do portray what a lighthouse in the early 20th century would have been like. As for the alien well this one looks like a cross between half set lime jelly wrapped in cling film and a badly fried egg with a green yolk.
The cast is strong despite that with the exception of Tom Baker and Louise Jameson the cast are not well known there isn't a weak performance from any of them. The costumes do look of the period the only change was that Louise Jameson removed her brown contacts at the end of the final episode. She had claimed they were uncomfortable and would only continue in the part if she could remove them so the change to her eye colour from brown to blue had to be written in. The change was explained by some made up medical event caused by a bright flash of light. Although it has to be said Tom Baker did make it sound convincing. I'm sure one or two of the hair dos are either so badly done that the hair dresser should never be allowed near hair again or they are cheap badly fitting wigs, my money is on the latter.
The story its self is fairly well written but does feel somewhat rushed (reasons are explained in the extras). It does play of the fears of old superstitions and those stories passed down for generations. Although the body count is higher than the Christmas special of Casualty it is still mild in comparison to the modern series. For me this is one of the better acted stories and the lack of any extras does help to focus on the remoteness of the lighthouse and the fear of being cut off when things go wrong. The acting does help to mask some of the weaknesses in the story such as the coincidence of the ship just happening to crash on the rock close to the lighthouse and one of those from the ship just happening to have diamonds on him makes it a bit far- fetched but it is Dr Who not a documentary.
Not a bad story but not the best of Terrence Dicks writing due to how it had to be rushed to fill a gap.
Terrance Dicks - fact or fiction
The writer of this story along with producer Barry Letts.
Terrance talks about his time as a writer for the programme since he started with 'The War Games' (from the Patrick Troughton era). Some of this concentrates on how well these two got on whilst working on the series, how they came up with the ideas behind the stories and how they put them into practice including how they came up with The Master. Also Terrance says how much he hates re-writes and how he avoided complaints from other writers. Included is also how he tried to keep the costs down and how he was, at times, overruled in favour of a more expensive scene. Barry discusses how they kept costs down and how made sure all expenses were properly accounted for. The transfer of the stories to novels many also written by Terrance Dicks is also discussed along with some of his other books. The new books 'the new adventures' and 'the missing adventures' written after the original series was cancelled is also mentioned again some written by Terrance.
Paddy Russell - A Life in Television.
The director of this story discusses her career including her work on the Quatermass series through her work on Dr Who. Including how this story had to be done in a rush. The one which should have been done was a story involving vampires but as the BBC were about to do an adaptation of Dracula this had to be shelved and the Horror of Fang Rock was done very quickly to fill the gap. The Vampire one was partly re-written and done some years later. Also mentioned is the, up till this story, the rather frosty relationship between Tom and Louise.
Antique Dr Who show
A look at some of the memorabilia and collectables from the original series along with their values
My cupboard normally always has a pack of these in them of one flavour or the other (although never the 'natural'), not that either my partner or I suffer from diarrhoea that often but always better to be safe and have some things in. My current ones are this citrus flavour. Now I'm sure they used to have a pineapple flavour one which tasted as much like a pineapple as an apple tastes like an orange but this one isn't too bad.
The boxes have braille on them although the instruction leaflet inside is only in rather small print but there is a helpline if you find it hard to read.
The box cost me £3.50 for 6 sachets.
What are they?
They are a sachet of a mixture of salts which you lose when you have sickness or diarrhoea and when mixed up with water they help replace both the lost fluids and the lost salts. The salts are mainly sodium and potassium which are needed for normal nerve function and fluid balance in all the cells in your body. Too much or too little of them can cause severe problems.
Now I know that diarrhoea does not kill that many healthy people in the richer countries of the world but that things like this could save hundreds of lives in some of the poorer countries where diarrhoea is more endemic. This product actually costs pennies to make so I do feel the price of them is perhaps a little over the top.
This will not cure the underlying problem but they do prevent things from getting worse by replacing lost salts and fluid.
They do contain quite a bit of sugar so those with diabetes may have to take this into account. Also those on low sodium or low potassium diets should speak to your doctor or pharmacist before taking it.
To make them up add one sachet to a glass and mix with 200ml of water, stir until dissolved and drink. Whilst there is a fairly pleasant although artificial citrus like taste to them it is a bit like those cheap 'citrus flavour' sweets a sort of generic lemon/lime taste. I still think they taste a little odd as the taste of the salts within the treatment come through especially in the after taste. Despite the amount of sugar I wouldn't say they tasted all that sweet. However, it really isn't a case of hold your nose and saying 'through the teeth and round the gums, watch out stomach here it comes'.
When mixed up you are told it should be drunk within one hour although according to the box it can be kept in the fridge for up to 24 hrs. I'm not entirely certain what would happen to the solution after an hour I can only assume it becomes less effective but I'm not certain exactly how this would happen.
You are advised to take one to two sachets mixed as directed after each loose bowl movement.
Well they don't cure the problem but they certainly help you feel better as it keeps your body's fluids and salts at the correct level so that horrible sort of groggy 'don't want to do anything' feeling is kept at bay.
Whilst these are designed as a treatment for those with vomiting and diarrhoea my partner also swears by them as a hang-over prevention drinking one in a glass of water after a night of drinking. I don't drink enough alcohol myself to warrant trying this out so I will have to take his word for it. Not that he over does it all that often either.
My quest for alternatives to coffee continues as I think when I hit 6 mugs of it a day I am overdoing it just a tad. I have never liked normal tea but some of the herbal ones are very palatable even if they do sometimes smell better than they taste.
This latest one I have bought is another one for the Pukka range. I have always liked ginger whether it is ginger chicken, ginger cake or even just eating crystallised ginger straight from the bag (yes folks I do really do that) but some 'ginger teas' taste as if they have just been passed over the root rather than actually containing it. Now this particular tea boasts a 'great taste gold two star' award from 2011 so I thought I would see if they knew what they were talking about.
This box of 20 tea bags cost me £2.30 so it is a tad expensive but as long as it is a good product I don't mind paying a bit more once in a while.
Ginger has been used for many years as a digestive aid and there has also been some research into its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also reported to have properties which help to reduce nausea. The tea also contains a small amount of turmeric root. Turmeric is also reported to be an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant as well as having antiseptic properties. However, the amount in the tea is unlikely to give much in the way of these benefits.
All the ingredients in this tea, like the rest of the range, are 100% organic and this one is also apparently kosher as well.
Use and taste:
Just like my earlier purchase from this range the box is a William Morris design with 20 individually wrapped tea bags in them. Again I feel the box is too big and a reduction in the size would save on the packaging. I like the fact the tea bags are individually wrapped as this keeps them fresh for the longest period of time. On opening the box there is a very earthy smell which is due to the turmeric but the spicy undertone of the ginger is also there.
On opening one of the orange sachets the smell of the ginger comes through that bit more. The contents of the bag are chopped up quite small so the best taste is released.
After making the tea with boiling water and allowing it to brew for 5 minutes it is time to taste it. The smell of the tea when brewed is unmistakeably that of the ginger. The initial taste is quite sweet and there is a mild ginger flavour (well mild for me) there is a slight undercurrent of the earthy taste from the turmeric. Thankfully the turmeric does not overpower everything else (which it can do at times) so the blenders have got the amount just right, well in my opinion they have.
The heat of the ginger comes through more as an after taste and I find this to be very pleasant. The mixture of the overall blend of the ingredients gives a well-rounded taste to it but for me a bit more ginger would have been nice. There is even a slight hint of the liquorice used in the tea despite there only being about 4% of this in the blend. I feel the inclusion of the liquorice is the reason for the slightly sweet taste. This is more of an undercurrent taste wise and I doubt it will be enough to put off those who don't like liquorice.
Leaving the teas to brew for longer than 5 minutes allows the flavours to develop more but for some this may give the ginger a bit of an overpowering edge to it. The gingery aftertaste does linger for quite a while after I have finished drinking this which helps my mouth to feel fresh.
There is no bitterness to the taste and it is something that can be enjoyed at any time of day but I think first thing on a morning I'll stick to my coffee.
Do I feel different after drinking it?:
Well in some respects yes, it is refreshing and as it is caffeine free so won't keep me up if I drink it late at night which is a major plus. Whilst I rarely suffer from any digestive issues it has helped reduce that uncomfortable over full feeling that we all get from time to time. However, I didn't necessarily feel 'uplifted' by the tea (as it claims on the box 'to uplift and warm') I put this down to it not containing any caffeine more than anything.
Did it deserve the 'taste' award?:
Well it certainly tastes better than the vast majority of ginger teas I have tried in the past and it is a pleasant hot drink. As for the two stars I think I may only have given it one but that is possibly as I am more of a coffee drinker so I may be a little biased.
Now my mum has had a Kenwood chief for almost 40 years and it has had regular use in that time and it is still going strong. It is one of those from the early 70s which is almost fully made of metal and would probably survive a nuclear bomb going off. They were built to last in a time when quality was much more important than price and the idea of 'celebrity' chef endorsements which adds £40 to a price tag was thought to be tackier than impact adhesive.
I have wanted a proper mixer for some time but didn't really have space for the big mixers and they are still quite expensive. Still I saw this compact model on the co-op electrical website for £124.99 so I decided to take the plunge and invest in it. As usual with the co-op there was the bonus of the co-op points was delivered on time and delivery was free.
What was in the box?
Surprisingly, an electric mixer, then again what would you expect? Along with the mixer are the three mixing tools: the K beater, the dough hook and a whisk. Also there is a plastic blender/liquidiser and a plastic spatula. The bowl is a good size at a little over 4 litres and will be able to hold a fair amount of cake mix and is made of aluminium. There is also a 'splash guard' which fits over the bowl so you mixture doesn't go everywhere. There is a good sized opening in this so you can add more ingredients as the machine is mixing.
The three main tools:
The K beater is probably the tool which gets the most use as it is used to cream sugar and butter together then beat in the egg. Now I know I can use this to also mix in the flour as well but it is easy to over mix especially a sponge cake which will make it have a close texture and won't rise as easily so I still mix in the flour into cakes by hand with a large metal spoon.
The dough hook is very useful for all bread makers out there. Now I do have an automatic bread maker and I still make 80% of my bread using it as it is more convenient but for wetter doughs and things like focaccia and 'fancy' shaped bread then the bread machine isn't quite as good so I use this attachment to do the majority of the mixing for me. Well it keeps my hands clean. The results are good and I have had no complaints so far.
The whisk I hardly use as it looks flimsy and I doubt it could withstand much more than whipping cream or whisking up egg whites to make merengue. For these small jobs I tend to use my electric hand held mixer which has beaters which are also easier to clean and dry.
The machine in use:
I have mainly used this machine for making cakes and to make some speciality breads with it. I'll mainly go over making the cake as it is easier and what most people may use it for. Fitting the tool into the mixing head is easy and it comes with a silicone 'plug' which you can use to stop the cake mixture splashing up and gumming up the works. This is a bit fiddly to fit the first couple of times but it does get easier. After fitting the bowl with the butter and sugar in and lowering the mixer head so it locks in position fit the splash cover and turn on, increasing the speed slightly as you go. After a few minutes of this it is time to add the beaten egg (if using any) slowly a bit at a time via the hole in the splash guard - make sure that each addition of egg is well mixed in before you add more. Adding a small amount of your flour (about a tablespoon) as you put in the last of the egg can prevent the mixture from curdling. Next the process is reversed, remove the splash guard lift the mixer head and scrape down the K beater. As this is non-stick it is easy to do with a plastic spatula. Remove the beater and then unlock the bowl and remove. As I've said I now mix the flour in by hand but you can add it slowly to the mixture but you need to be careful not to over mix. Just until you can no longer see any of the flour.
Despite occasionally (two cake mixes out of seven - I turned up the speed a bit too quickly) having to stop and scrape the bowl down with the spatula the mix the butter, sugar and eggs are always well combined. This is helped by the planetary motion of the beater. The beater is spun on its own axis as it is swept around the bowl. In this case at a slight angle to collect up all the cake/bread mixture. When making bread the mixing head does have a slight movement to it but according to the instruction book this is normal but it is not so much that I think it is in danger of breaking.
The bowl and the tools are all easy to clean although drying the whisk is a bit fiddly if you need it for something else quickly. I tend to let them dry naturally after rinsing the washing up water off them. I don't own a dishwasher so everything gets done by hand but as the tools are non-stick I wouldn't advise washing them in one.
The machine has a variable speed for the mixing head and a pulse setting which is mainly for the blender.
There are also high and medium speed outlets on the machine hidden away under plastic covers. The high speed one can be used for the included blender/liquidiser. Now I would have preferred a glass one but it is a good size and had I not already got a liquidiser/blender with my food processor (also reviewed on her) it would be used about ones every two weeks. However, now having two I can prepare the spicy and mild versions of my base curry sauce next time without having to wash the liquidiser out between them so it will save time. Unfortunately the two are not universal and will only work with the machine they came with.
Although the blender has markings up to 1.5 litres I wouldn't advise having it that full especially with hot foods. The lid has a locking system and unless it is fully on it won't turn on via the machine. The lid has an inner 'plug' which has 20, 30 and 40 ml markings. It is quick and easy to take apart and clean but take care of the blades.
You can obtain a food processor attachment for the medium speed outlet but as I already have a separate one I don't think this will get any use. Still I bought it as a mixer not for use as a food processor. Also you can but a meat grinder to attach to the mixer head but I have to ask is there actually anyone who minces their own meat at home these days?
Dimensions /mm (dxhxw) 315x285x240
Weight 6.95 kg
Blender height 26 cm
Blender width (biggest point) 20 cm
The size is compact enough to have out on my worktop without me having to move it all the time. Ok it is white and a black one would have fitted in better with my other kitchen appliances but there is just something about a black mixer that just didn't appeal.
A good, well-built mixer which I'm sure will give me many years of good performance.
OK for those younger than me I may need to explain the title. In 1992 Hoover UK, to clear old lines, offered free flights to Europe and the USA when people bought certain appliances to the value of £100 or more. The take up was massive and when Hoover was told they had to honour all the tickets it sent Hoover UK to the wall and it was sold to the Italian company, Candy.
Now, I bought this hand held as sometimes I need a quick clean-up of worktops, table tops or crumbs dropped everywhere when the other half doesn't use a plate when he's eating (over the sofa, the floor, the coffee table.... He's banned from eating in bed) and I don't want to get my big vacuum out. It is easy to use but the bright neon green dust holder is a bit much. However, as I store it in a cupboard it isn't on show all the time. You can attach the charger/holder to a wall but I personally don't like keeping these things on show.
It cost me £34.99 worth of my nectar points from my local Argos.
When you have unpacked it the vacuum is easy to fit into the charger and you are advised to charge it for 24 hours before its first use so that is a bit inconvenient but still it does make sure the battery gets a good charge up and preserves its life. With all rechargeable things you should let it run down completely then charge it up again fully as these preservers the battery life.
The big plus for me is that it is cordless with a 7.2 V battery and when fully charged it can do about 15 minutes of vacuuming. This means I can use it in different rooms without having to unplug it first or having to recharge it constantly. The charge remaining indicator (a set of 4 LEDs) is also useful to show you how much battery life is left.
Using and the performance:
Please note this is a dry only handheld vacuum.
There is a single slide switch operation to this so very easy to turn on and off. For me the rather thin handle is ok but for those with bigger hands or those with arthritis getting a good grip on it may prove a bit more difficult. The suction is just about reasonable for a hand held but frankly I feel it is lacking power. Although it does the job I bought it for but it did struggle with the fluff on the sofa from the blanket I put over it and this was not due to the filter becoming blocked. I doubt it could stand up to a bigger cleaning job than vacuuming the stairs as the suction just isn't there.
There is a built in brush on the underside of the vacuum for cleaning delicate things such as keyboards etc. The brush is easy to slide in and out and isn't a test of dexterity. If not using the brush, what comes into contact with the surface is an upholstery cleaning pad. You know one of thoese red pads on one of the vacum attachments. Now I would prefer this to be removable so it stays as clean as possible but you can't have everything. There is also a crevice tool which is held in the charger base for easy storage. This may not be the biggest crevice tool but it does the job.
The HEPA filter is easy to remove from its holder and cover. The filter cover is made of the same sort of stuff that scale filters in kettle spouts are made from only a bit thicker. I find the best way to clean the filter is to gently tap it against the inside of the dust holder after removing it from the holder. You are advised to clean it after every use but I think that is taking it a bit far. The filter does its job and doesn't spread the dust around the house.
The dust holder has a capacity of 0.5 litres so it can go for a while before it needs emptying. This is easy to do as the dust holder it easy to remove then take out he filter holder and empty in the bin. Putting everything back together is also easy so this gets a big plus. The only trouble is that the dust holder is made what looks like quite a brittle plastic so may not survive being dropped. The vacuum section of it has an empty weight of a little under 1.2kg so not too hard to use to remove dust from the top of the curtain rails without taking them down. With the charger/holder it comes to 1.6 kg but as you don't carry this bit around it isn't a major issue.
Well as I've already said I keep mine in a cupboard rather than attaching the holder/charger to the wall. The dimensions are H14, W13, D38.5cm. Stored actually in the holder the size changes very little. The charging chord is a good length at around 1.75m although some of this can be wrapped up inside the charger/holder.
Well despite being somewhat underpowered it does do the job I need it to do relatively quickly, I just need to train my other half to use a plate more often. For the price I paid I can't really argue too much but the rrp of £69.99 would be more of a case of paying for the name rather than how good the product is.
It is underpowered (in my opinion) and too expensive for what it is at full price. Taking these into account I would give it 3.5 stars (if half stars were allowed) but have rounded it to four as I feel it does do the job I need it to do.
Now I do like the odd bottle of wine and red is my usual choice particularly a 100% Australian Shiraz (should anyone want to buy me a bottle). The only trouble is red wine needs to breath to be at its best and this can be done by decanting for a certain length of time or if you don't have a decanter, open, pour about half a glass and leave the bottle un-stoppered for about half an hour. What to do with that half glass - well why waste it - down the hatch.
I received this little device a few months ago and I have used it a few times with different bottles of wine since and the results have been very mixed but, for me, not impressive most of the time.
What does it do?
As you pour the wine in at the top (whilst holding it over a glass naturally) air is drawn into it and mixes with the wine to quickly get the wine to breath. The stand provided can be used to keep it on the table without splashing your nice white table cloth with wine. Also included is a sort of mesh filter. This can be put in the top of the device and pour the wine through via this filter. This will trap any bits of cork or sediment in the wine.
My use, results and thoughts:
Well when using it the sound is frankly horrible which is a loud slurping that sounds like a vacuum being used in a toilet bowl or a toad farting in custard whichever you can more easily imagine. If you don't hold it correctly you can end up blocking the holes which the ait is drawn in through. Also it is a bit of a pain to carry this round everyone's glass whilst hosing a dinner party when serving the wine - if you are using it that is.
The major floor with this is that it draws the same amount of air into every wine that is poured through it. This is majorly wrong as different wines need different lengths of time to breath in a decanter so will need a different amount of air drawn through it for this to work properly. This means some wines have too much air others not enough both of which don't do the flavours much good.
I find it although it can take the harshness off some wines it also destroys the complexity of others. This is a major problem for me, as using this device with the Shiraz I love it just doesn't taste right. In fact it makes a £7.50 bottle taste like a £1.50 knock off from some ones garden shed. The complex combination of the taste of red fruits and the dark cherry notes seem to be removed by it leaving the wine tasting like a rather flat, alcoholic, watered down grape juice. An older Rioja which has quite delicate flavours is frankly completely ruined by this device and should be allowed nowhere near it. I haven't tried this with a 100% merlot and going by the results of the Shiraz and Rioja I don't think I will either, I like my merlot as it is.
Wines made with a blend of grapes are, however, somewhat improved by using this. The harshness of some of the base flavours of the cheaper grapes is softened and the aroma of the wine is opened up much more. This has helped to give the wine a much more rounded flavour.
The issue for me is that I tend to go for single grape variety wines so for me most of the time the wine is made much worse by this device and not better as it claims.
People's taste for wine is personnel and there are some wines which others have raved about which when I'm given a glass am looking for the nearest plant pot to pour it into so how much you think this device improves or ruins wine will be very individual.
A device which for me is a case of clever claims and psychology about saying it will taste better as you know red wine has to breath, don't you... but I think lacks real independent trials and frankly I don't think it lives up to its claims.
Possibly a ground breaking comedy as far as UK TV goes as the two central characters are a same sex couple.
The two main characters are played by two of the UKs best known (and openly gay) actors in Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi. Perhaps the refreshing part is that they didn't go for straight actors to play gay characters. It was first broadcast in mid 2013 and a Christmas special was also screened.
Freddie and Stuart have been together for almost 50 years and with their respective careers now over (not that they really started) they seem to pass their days be being awful to each other. Not quite on the same level as 'The Twits' from Roald Dahl's wonderful book but pretty close. Both of them try to make out they had bigger careers than they really had in a constant game of one up manship.
Their new neighbour, Ash, has just moved in to the flat upstairs and, unfortunately for him, he is unaware that being friends or even being casual acquaintances with Freddie and Stuart should come with a sanity warning. Then again Freddie and Stuart's best friend, Violet, has decided that Ash is the man for her so he may need to be on guard here as well. Then again Violet seems to think any man with a pulse is for her so she may move on quickly.
What I thought of it:
I didn't know what to make of this when I saw it at the time of broadcast as it wasn't exactly awful but nor was it a really funny comedy either. However, I was given the DVD of it as part of a late Christmas present so I watched it again. Perhaps not the wisest choice I have made. The DVD is of the full first series but does not contain the Christmas special.
I think part of the problem was that McKellen and Jacobi are perhaps too big in the field of acting for the parts they were playing. This is a pity as I have, and still do, hold these two actors in high regard for their other performances. However, they are not really comedy actors and I'm afraid this shows. Although it has to be said some of the timing even when they lift their coffee cups in unison is spot on but this comes with experiance.
Iwan Rheon as Ash I feel was a huge casting mistake in this series as he is massively overshadowed by McKellen and Jacobi. As the series went on you can see Rheon getting more and more uncomfortable in the part to the point that in the Christmas 'special' screened in late December, (un)fortunately not included on the DVD, it as if his primary thought is of sacking his agent for getting him the part.
For me the one of the performances which makes this watchable was that of Frances de la Tour as Violet as she seems to be relishing the role and is fantastically over the top as the archetypal man eater. Then again Penelope played by Marcia Warren as the slightly dotty old friend is also one of the funnier characters as her selective memory only embarrasses everyone else as do her rather outrageous comments when out in public. These comments get the biggest laughs from the studio audience as Marcia looks so sweet and innocent and there is the half second where you think 'did she just say that'.
The setting is primarily the sitting room of Freddie and Stuarts flat well this looks more like a funeral home from the 1970s than a sitting room and it is rather gloomy with no natural light which I suppose matches the mood we find the lead characters in most of the time.
The script writing is, to say the least, a bit flat and some of it looks more like a bad sixth form written play. I have to wonder if the cast were not so well know if it would have got a second series as the viewing figures were rather poor. Whilst the occasional acidic putdown works well in context of what is being said when almost half of the script is made up of this it does drag as it is the same gags are recycled again and again. Whilst there are a few humours moments there are times when the audience laughs when I'm sitting there thinking 'that wasn't funny'. It has been denied that this is canned laughter but I have to wonder. With Freddie and Stuart always being so vile to each other you do sometimes wonder whether they are still together because they actually do love each other or because they know no one else will have them.
There are a small number of extras on the disc including interviews with the main cast and the behind the scenes making of Vicious.
The making of vicious:
Well describes its self really but it has the cast discussing their thoughts of the series. Along with the writers discussing how tough it is to learn the scripts and get all the rehearsals done and film it. Also how they were able to give Freddie his theatrical entrance with a slightly OTT staircase and the length of time make up took and getting the stunt doubles in. It is revealed that there is a live audience when it is filmed and how McKellen and Jacobi are able to use their experience to act through the laughs.
Personally I simply didn't find this all that funny despite a few funny moments I didn't raise more than an occasional smile. McKellen and Jacobi do their best with the scripts they have been given but the writing lets them down.
Now living in a very hard water area where water doesn't fall to the floor it crashes to the floor lime scale can be a big problem and removing it a bigger one. Especially from taps and plug holes. I have used vinegar in the past when I was really into my natural cleaners phase to remove it which works well but I'm not a fan of the smell of vinegar so after a while of my bathroom smelling a bit like a chip shop I wanted an alternative.
I have now used Viakal many times over the past 18 months to keep on top of the lime-scale especially on the taps in my bathroom. I bought my latest bottle for around £3 for 500ml from my local Sainsbury's.
The gel comes in a white bottle with a blue 'child proof' cap, the type you have to squeeze the sides and twist. This is still, in my opinion, too easy to open but as long as it is kept out of reach of children it shouldn't be a problem. Under the cap is a small nozzle allowing for a bit more control over where you direct the gel so you don't slop it everywhere.
The pale blue gel is perhaps a bit thin to really be called a gel but it doesn't run of the taps as soon as it is applied. After leaving it on the lime-scale for a few minutes I then wipe it off with a wet cloth then rinse it off and most of the lime-scale has gone restoring the shine to my taps. With rather tougher lime-scale it may need a second application to remove it all. However, with really encrusted lime-scale (I'm talking years of build-up) something harsher may be needed. When applied, at times you can sometimes see it fizz as it eats through the lime-scale to remove it. The smell from the gel is more of a fresh clean smell than anything else and it is not that offensive acidic catching the back of your throat smell which some lime-scale removers have.
I have a hot tap in my bathroom which is a bit temperamental and occasionally drips. This can leave a lime-scale build up inside my sink which can look a bit unsightly as it just seems to absorb the colour of any dirt which comes into contact with it by using the sink. This gel makes short work of removing this scale as well without having to scrub it off. At times my shower does lose a bit of its power (not that I have a power shower) but lime-scale build up in the shower head is a big issue. I Squirt Viakal over the shower head and leaving it with the outlet nozzles facing upwards for about 5 minutes. Turn the shower on and this clears the vast majority then a quick scrub with an old toothbrush dislodges the rest, wipe with a wet cloth and it's all gone. This returns my shower back to its full power and glory. I have also used to remove suborn lime-scale from my toilet bowl. A quick squirt round the inside of the bowl wait about 3 minutes then scrub with the toilet brush and flush - and the lime-scale is gone.
WARNING - Do NOT use this product in your toilet (or anywhere else) at the same time as or just after/before other cleaning products especially bleach as this can release Chlorine gas.
Like all lime-scale removers this is acidic and prolonged contact with it should be avoided and those with sensitive skin should wear gloves when using it. After using it I would advise everyone to wash their hands - just in case any of the product got onto them.
Please note this gel is not suitable for removing scale from kettles or gold plated fittings.
Well it is more expensive than vinegar but it does the job it says on the bottle. Also it smells better than vinegar as well.