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......Kenwood TTM404 Chrome Four Slice Toaster......
This is a mid to low range four slice toaster from the well known manufacturer of kitchen appliances, Kenwood. You can buy these from major supermarkets, catalogues and many high street retailers for around £20-£30. The toaster's main features are two sets of controls for each 'pair' of toasts, a seperate crumb tray for each, reheat, defrost and cancel functions and adjustable timers.
......Why did I buy it?......
I had been wanting a four slice toaster for a while as we are expecting our fourth child and the mornings are already getting pretty demanding on the toast front (hubby suggested a 12 slice but not sure it would fit in the kitchen). I particularly wanted one that was capable of toasting just two slices for those occasions when I may be eating on my own (rare but blissful!), so when I saw this for sale in my local co-op at the 'bargain' half price offer of £24.99 (and made by a well known company) I snapped it up. I then returned home and proudly presented hubby with my 'catch', with which when informed of the price he was fairly approving.
......Setting up the beast......
Before I could play with my shiny new toy (which despite it being around 8pm, I could not wait to do!) we had to wrestle the toaster from it's cardboard and polystyrene prison (no mean feat, it certainly comes well packaged!) and find a suitable place for it on the worktop. This toaster is rather on the large side, even for a four slice but we squeezed it in, however it is worth noting that, like most toasters, it should not be placed under low cupboards so do think carefully about where to put it before buying one. The toaster has a neat cord storage bit underneath so you just use as much cord as necessary and tuck the rest into the clip type bits, which can be a little tricky but it does mean you have no cord trailing everywhere. Before the first use you must run the toaster empty a few times to burn off whatever may have got onto it in the factory... this stinks so open a lot of windows and prepare to cough!
......The toasting experience......
As I said earlier, I especially liked the function of being able to choose whether to toast two slices or four, I also like the fact that with this toaster you can adjust the brownness to be different for each set, so one person can have their toast more done than the other and works simply by toasting one set for a little longer. One of the first things to strike me about this toaster was how long it took to toast the bread... it seemed a lot longer than previous toasters I have owned so I am not sure quite how much time I am really saving but it does mean the kids can have their toast at the same time as Daddy and I can butter it all together. The reheat function seems to work well so I can't fault that and you can lift the levers up to make it easier to get your toast out. I have also used this to toast things like crumpets and pitta breads and it seems to cope well. My husband has moaned that the toast often seems more done on one side than the other but this isn't too noticeable most of the time. I don't tend to cook bread from frozen so I haven't used the defrost button, but even if I was I would probably just toast as normal but for a little longer as I find these things to be rather hit and miss on toasters in general.
......Appearance and cleaning......
This toaster does look very smart, I especially like the nice curve to the front and the shiny finish. As with all stainless steel appliances it will look dirty after a while unless you polish it (WD40 works really well, just rub on and off with kitchen roll). The crumb trays seem fairly effective as the toaster does not seem to hemorrhage crumbs every time it is moved slightly, like some I have owned. The main problem I have with the shape of this toaster is that for some reason crumbs seem to collect in the little nook below the levers everytime you use it, which makes it look dirty and I do find this very annoying and hard to clean.
I was rather dissapointed to find that my 'bargain' was not so great, some people have even bought these for £19.99. I would also expect a slightly quicker toasting from such a beast of a toaster, especially being made by Kenwood. I suppose I would have to give this toaster three stars, it loses one for speed and one for collecting crumbs on the front! I probably would recommend not buying this, but choosing a similar one instead.
'How to Fossilise your Hamster... and other amazing experiments for the armchair scientist' is written by Mick O'Hare, editor of New Scientist magazine and follows the other New Scientist books, Does Anything Eat Wasps and Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? The book is aimed at anyone with both an interest in science and a sense of humour and contains many interesting and enlightening experiments, written in a witty and humourous way. How to Fossilise Your Hamster would make a fantastic gift or stocking filler for anyone who likes to have a go at home experiments.
The book is divided into sections of experiments with different themes, the first of these are 1, In The Living Room and 2, In The Kitchen.The first few experiments in these sections involve alcohol, which gets us off to a good start and although the author does say it is not necessary to drink the results, it is certainly more enjoyable that way. Many of these experiments explain things you will have often wondered about, such as whether champagne really does stay fizzy for longer if you place a teaspoon in the neck. I would have tried this experiment but I never have leftover champagne in my fridge!
One of the best non-alcohol related experiments in the first section is the Flower Power experiment, which is a great one to do with the kids as it's educational and easy to do. The experiment illustrates how flowers 'drink' water, by adding food colouring to the vases so you end up with pretty coloured patterns on the petals and through the stem, this teaches us a lot about plant structure and I remember doing a similar thing at school. Another great experiment for kids from the kitchen section is the Apple Fool experiment, which shows us how easy it is to trick yourself that you are eating a pear when you are really eating an apple! You can also learn how to extract the iron from your fortified breakfast cereal, which I plan to do as soon as I get around to buying a magnet...
Section 3, In The Study, contains an experiment that allows you to illustrate to your friends how your reactions are affected by talking on a mobile phone. Many of the experiments in this section contain few necessary props (and no alcohol at all!) so they are some of the easiest, though possibly the least fun.
Section 4, The Bathroom contains a fantastic experiment in which you can extract and see your own DNA, I am yet to try this but it is certainly on the top of my list. Another I am not so keen to try is the aromatic Pee experiment, in which it is possible to find out whether you can make your urine smell of asparagus!
The first experiment in section 5, The Garage, shocked my as I learned that hot water actually freezes faster than cold and another freezer related experiment explains why it is sometimes almost impossible to get the freezer door open.
Section 6, In the Garden and Further Afield, contains the experiment you have all been waiting for... Fossilising your Hamster, but if you want to know more about that you will have to buy the book!
I really enjoy reading this book as it's well written and funny, although I originally bought it for my husband but he is yet to pick it up! I do feel that the language in the book does get quite technical at times so you would need a good basic understanding of science in order to fully appreciate it. The experiments range from easy to complicated and there is definitely something to interest everyone and a lot of things you can do with your kids (mine are a bit young) that will build upon things they'll be learning at school. I would definitely recommend buying this book as a stocking filler for a teenager or a gift for someone who is interested in science. The book is aimed at adults but most of the experiments a teenager should be able to manage safely (perhaps not the ones involving booze though!).
...Availability and Price...
I bought this book from Amazon where it currently sells for £4.79, which is very reasonable. It is also available from many large high street book shops and you may even be lucky enough to find it in your local library.
Fragrancedirect is a website selling discounted fragrance, cosmetic and beauty products. They do some fantastic deals and when you visit the site you are bombarded with adverts for hugely discoutned lines and gifts, so it's hard to miss the savings. They even have a clearance section with even greater savings. Fragrance direct sell a lot more than just perfume, with their products listed under the headings of; fragrance, mens, gifts, cosmetics, skin care, bath and body, hair, at home, specials and brand. You can find brand name cosmetics at prices way below what you could ever find on the hight street, although stocks of their greatest bargains do go fairly quickly.
My recent bargains from Fragrancedirect include various shades of Bourjous Eau de Gloss lipgloss for 99p that had an RRP of £7.25 and a bottle of Roc tinted moisturiser for £3.99 with an RRP of £23.99! This is just a small example of the fabulous bargains that can be found on this site. If you are lucky enough to find your favourtie perfume stocked here then you are unlikely to find it cheaper anywhere else. Sometimes you will find that items are sold without their boxes but if this is the case it will be clear when you are ordering. I bought a lot of stocking presents from here this year and have placed at least 3 orders in the last month.
My only gripe swith Frangrance direct are with the site itself, I find it a little difficult to navigate so it can take a while to find things sometimes and once you have placed an item in your basket you can return to that item but not the department you were browsing. However I can't mark them down for that as their bargains are so good!
The postage charge is only £1.95 which I find very reasonable as I am often put off ordering from websites when I only want a few thigns if the postage charge is quite high. With it only being £1.95 you can easily justify placing a small order and know you are still making a decent saving.
All orders arrive incredibly well packaged and I enjoy playing lucky dip, fishing my small items out of a box full of packing peanuts!
Asos is an online clothing and beauty/gifts store, stocking brand name as well as own label goods, for women, men and children. They are often mentioned in women's fashion magazines as they keep on top of trends and stock a great variety of clothes. They often have discount offers in certain areas and my favourite part of their service is the free delivery, which is usually fairly prompt.
I first discovered Asos about a year ago when I bought a lovely pair of maternity jeans/trousers for £25, reduced from £60! I was really impressed with the service, delivery and quality of the item I bought. Asos do a surprisingly large range of maternity wear, which I think they should advertise more as most people are unaware of this. They even sell their maternity clothing in a range of different lengths which is important to me as I am rather tall!
When there was a slight glitch with a voucher code recently at Asos (publicised on HDUK and MSE) I did take advantage and place 3 orders, which meant I got a few people's Chritmas presents for ony a couple of pounds (I bought some Cath Kidston and Jelly Belly gifts for female relatives). But a week later I did order another pair of Maternity jeans from them as they are such a good company, so I don't feel too guilty about my bargains.
If you have an NUS card you can get a 20% discount, which is pretty good, especially on top of their frequent offers which at the moment include 20% off party dresses and 20% off jeans!
With all my orders they have been dispatched quickly and arrived well packaged and in perfect condition. I would definitely recommend Asos to anyone.
I would never buy Pampers nappies out of choice as I have had bad experiences with them in the past, but when I had my daughter last week we were given a pile of them by the Bounty lady in the hospital, so these are what we used for the first few days. I will be comparing them with the Huggies equivalent as they are the ones I had bought and of course are the main competitor, brand wise.
These are New Baby nappies, suitable for babies who weigh between 4 and 11 pounds. This being the case, they will only fit for the first few weeks, especially if you have large babies like I do! However, you will get through quite a lot of nappies, up to around 10 a day, in the first few weeks so it's worth buying a few packs if you see them on offer.
The nappies are very soft to the touch and flexible too (unlike the huggies equivalent, which I found rather too firm and stiff) so are comfortable for your baby to wear and easy to put on. Fastening the nappies is simple, using the velcro-type tabs which can be repositioned if you get it wrong a few times, without meaning you have to use another nappy!
These nappies fit well, being not quite as wide as the huggies ones so easier to fit between the legs, however I did find them a little short - but I had a big baby.
Have no no leaks so far with these nappies, which is very good going for a newborn (think explosive poo!) and they soak up a lot of liquid.
Overall I am really pleasantly surprused by how good these newborn nappies are, especially the fact that they seem better than the huggies ones as those are usually my preferred brand.
5 out of 5!
I am probably the only person in the world who opened their stocking on Christmas morning to find that Father Christmas had thoughtfully included a box of these breast pads...
~~Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature Ultra Absorbent Breast Pads ~~
These come in a cube shaped, silver and grey coloured box of 50 breast pads. Inside the box the pads are wrapped individually in pairs, in thin plastic to keep them clean. I like that about the packaging as when I used to buy cheap supermarket ones they were just loose in a box, which made it harder to stick a few in my handbag/changing bag when needed.
~~ Why do I need breast pads? ~~ (Feel free to skip this part...)
The benefits of breastfeeding can never be over stressed and it's clear that this is the best thing for your baby, however long you manage to keep it up for. But while the whole world is keen to tell you the great benefits of nursing, they tend to gloss over the less pleasant parts...
like the fact that your boobs will go from being rock solid and painful to leaky balloons that can soak your favourite top in seconds and leave you with embarassing wet patches where you really don't want them...
Hence the invention of breast pads, handy little absorbent pads that sit inside your bra, to soak up 'little leaks' before anyone can notice!
According to the information on the box, these breast pads are...
Waterproof and Breathable
Have an Ultra Absorbent Moisture Trap
A Soft Lining
Non Slip Tape and a
Slimline Contoured Shape
I find the non slip tape is really useful as breast pads without this do have a tendency to 'travel' a little, these ones stay in place really well and because of the Slimline shape they are comfortable to wear and don't show through most clothes.
The absorbency is great, I only have to change these a few times a day and they keep their softness, unlike cheaper ones I've used that can go hard and lumpy epecially when worn overnight. They don't cause any irritation or soreness to my nipples so the soft lining certainly does it's job.
The major downside with these breast pads is the price tag, at around £5 a box of 50 can cost over twice as much as cheaper ones and even that many won't last very long. Also of course, environmentally speaking, using disposable breast pads is not very 'green' as you can buy washable ones that would also be more economical.
However, personally I do think these are worth the extra money and if you ever see them on offer it's worth stocking up. These are definitely the most comfortable and convenient breast pads around, in my opinion.
I don't usually buy bubble bath for my kids, my youngest has Eczema so I use special bath products for him and if they want bubbles I find a tiny drop of my Body Shop shower gel gives plenty, but my mother-in-law bought some of this for us the other day so I dutifully gave it a go.
I think Avon must have changed the packaging as mine is in a yellow bottle (the same shape as the one pictured) with a blue label. I have to say I prefer the one in the picture, mine looks a bit cheap and nasty and not something I would chose to buy. This is a 250ml bottle and it cost 99p, but I think that was a special offer price. It is sold as Mild and Gentle Bubble Bath and is Blueberry "flavoured"...
The first thing you notice when opening the bottle is the very strong and sickly smell, though I wouldn't say it smells anything like actual blueberries, more like cheap sweets. I personally don't like the smell of this as I don't like fake, cheap fruity fragrances.
When putting any products in my sons' baths I tend to use a minimal amount as they have shallow baths and their skin is fairly sensitive. However that wasn't possible with this bubble abth as it's so runny that as soon as I tipped it up, loads came rushing out. I was not pleased about this as I expected the bath to fill up with millions of bubbles but actually considering how much product went in, there weren't really that many. I get just as many bubbles from a lot less of my shower gel...
The bubbles lasted well and the smell lingered (if that's a good thing for you!) though not on the children (thankfully) so it's not completely rubbish but I will certainly not be dissapointed when we run out of this - which won't be long considering how much comes out each time!
I am pleased to say that this product did not appear to irritate my son's Eczema so it is indeed Mild and Gentle as claimed. Though that's about the only favourable thing I have to say about it. It does still contain Sodium Laureth Sulphate and many other odd sounding chemicals so is by no means natural.
These Tesco Light Choices (as they are now called) Chocolate and Orange Cereal Bars cost £1.28 for 6 individually wrapped 22g bars and are available in most large Tesco stores.
The packaging is very uninspiring - a white box with a LOT of writing and a picture of the bars piled up on a plate. I have to say, they don't even look very tasty in the photo! The usual nutritional information is on the front of the box along with a description -
"A chewy crisp rice and wheat cereal bar with dark chocolate chips and candied orange peel."
First impressions are not favourable...
The smell of these bars is dull and uninviting, slightly orangey but mostly just a bland cereal smell and no hint at all of chocolate. The bars are small and feel slightly tacky to the touch and very hard. Chocolate chips are scattered over the top but they are very small and few, a token effort that may as well have been left out altogether.
The texture of these cereal bars is not particularly nice in my opinion. They are very hard and tough to bite into then chewing is hard work on the jaws! They tend to get stuck in your teeth and because they are so hard they are also very dry which means you will need a drink with them. Not a pleasure to eat simply because it's so much effort and doesn't feel like a treat.
Tastewise, as you can probably guess by now, these are really nothing special. All they taste of is dusty cereal with a bitter-sweet orange flavour that seems very artificial, The chocolate is utterly undetectable and although these are sweet, they aren't sweet in a nice, indulgent, treat-like way.
Nutritionally these bars redeem themselves a lot as they are only 80 calories with 1.3g of fat. This is very good for a sweet snack but I have to say I have had other "diet" cereal bars that taste a lot nicer and the fact these are very healthy is irrellevant because they are rubbish!
Having been incredibly dissapointed by the Pampers Easy Up Pants I bought a few weeks ago I was not pleased when this was all I could get from my local shop the other day. I don't buy Pampers through choice as I find supermarket own brand nappies to be more than adequate, however, needs must...
~~~ Simply Dry~~
I have only just discovered these are an "economy line" from Pampers, which explains a few things, including the relatively low price of £3.99 for 22 nappies, which isn't too bad. These are simply absorbent nappies with none of the special features that the other Pampers lines claim.
I usually buy pull ups as my son is 2 and a half and at the potty training stage which makes these inconvenient for that.
~~~How they look and feel~~~~
These nappies are very thin, which I found disconcerting considering they claim to be very absorbent. They are also quite plasticy feeling, which although it's on the outside would put me off if I had a child prone to nappy rash. The sides aren't as stretchy as their "posher" ones and the leg bits don't feel as comfortable. This is definitely an Economy nappy (for the same price as a decent supermarket own brand one!).
After discovering how appalingly soggy my son got while wearing Pampers pull ups I was dreading a night time in these. However, after 12 hours he woke up dry and comfortable this morning and these nappies do absorb a lot, especially considering how thin they feel.
I won't buy these regularly as I can get better supermarket nappies and pull ups cheaper or the same price, but if faced with the smaller choice of the local co-op I would chose these over the other Pampers nappies.
They are cheap, and feel it, but they do the job.
I usually buy supermarket own brand wipes but these were on a really good offer in Tesco recently at 6 packs for a fiver I think, so I decided to treat my sons' bottoms! One pack this size usually costs over £2.
These wipes come in a mainly pink packet with the Johnson's branding on. My packets contain 64 wipes, although you can also buy travel packs of 24 or bumper 128 packs. The pack opens with a resealable thin plastic tab on the top. Supermarket own brand wipes tend to come in packs of 80 so I thought 64 was rather stingy, especially for the usual price. Also, the cheaper ones have a better opening system with a solid plastic flap that makes getting the wipes out easier and I find it odd that a more expensive type doesn't have this. You can find yourself with a handful of wipes if you're not careful and often the moisture of the wipes gets on the tab and prevents it reclosing easily.
The wipes are Fragrance Free and apparently New and Improved, though it is not specified how. I don't actually like the smell, even though they aren't meant to be fragranced they smell different to the unfragranced Tesco ones but not enough to put me off using them. The wipes are too wet in my opinion, which is fine for pooey bums but makes them rather unsuitable for wiping faces.
They are meant to be No More Tears but when I used them to remove make-up they made my eyes sting so I would not recommend you use them for this.
I do like the thickness of these wipes, which might explain why you get less in a pack and they don't come apart like huggies ones I've used. They are a reasonable size too but still certainly not worth paying over twice as much for these as my usual own brand ones.
"All customers in store this morning will be given a free gift..."
Well, you can't say no to that! I was shopping in Tesco one morning and they were giving out a "free gift" of a vegetable peeler, to all customers who stayed to watch a demonstration of The World's Sharpest Knife.
~~~ The Demonstration ~~~
An insanely smiley lady climbs onto a small podium, waving a knife... most sensible people would leave, but I wanted my freebie!
Now, I don't watch shopping channels and I've never seen an instore demo before, so I did find it quite fascinating, although I was very dubious (I thought, they're giving away something free so there must be a catch!). But as I had to watch the demo in order to get my free veg peeler (which wasn't worth it of course but by then I was commmited!), this is how is went...
The lady launched into a long and overly cheery schpeil about how fantastic and sharp the knife is. She slices tomatoes thinner than you'll find in a Mcdonalds burger and makes light work of a cucumber. All very impressive of course, but then it was the World's Sharpest Knife! She also told us several times about it's lifetime guarantee and how we would never need another knife again. Etc etc etc...
However, the impressive bit came when she cut through the chopping board and made a sizeable groove in a steel hammer. Now, when I was a child I fantasised about having a magic sword that would cut effortlessly through anything, so perhaps that explains why this Knife seemed so appealing!
~~~ The 'Sharp' Sell ~~~
After the demonstration the smiley, rather scary lady with the very sharp knife offered us an amazing opportunity. These knives cost £25 each, but today, just for us, because we're so special and lucky, we could buy not one, but two knives for £25! Not only that but, because she liked us so much, the lovely smiley lady would also give us two free paring knives. And a wierd plastic orange juicing tool. Two, in fact. AND ANOTHER KNIFE!
So for £25, just for today, for us few special people (who hadn't wisely legged it 10 minutes ago) we could buy
3 World's Sharpest knives
2 paring knives
A couple of wierd plastic things
and of course, our original free gift.
~~~ Why I fell for it ~~~
Like I said before, I'd never really witnessed a sales pitch like this. The knives were shiny and impressive. The smiley lady smiled a lot. The knives were very sharp...
~~~ The World's Sharpest Knife, my opinion ~~~
On getting home, one of the first things I did was get out one of my new knives and test it out. On an onion...
Everyone knows that if you cut yourself the last thing you want in it is onion juice!
After recovering and feeling rather silly, I took a closer look at the knife.
OK, so we know it's sharp. However, as far as quality goes, it left a lot to be desired. The handle was obviously cheaply moulded and didn't feel very secure or comfortable in my hand.
The blade was thin and very bendy, which considering it's length is not a good thing and made it feel very unsafe in my hand. It was rather hard to use and my dreams of slicing chef-style through mountains of veg in seconds were beginning to shatter...
My concerns were confirmed by my husband when he inspected my latest purchase. He is a man who knows his knives (he sharpens his own and finishes them off on the car windows!) and he instantly recognised it for the cheap tat it really is. I felt very gullible and silly, I am normally the first to poo-poo something like this but I had totallly fallen for it... oops!
~~~ Lifetime Guarantee ~~~
I inspected the guarantee certificate that came with the knife (for that lifetime guarantee the smiley lady ahd made such a song and dance about) and realised that was barely worth the paper it was printed on, by this point I was not surprised. If the knife does break you have to pay to return it - to the USA - and pay have it sent back. Which would cost nearly as much as buying the over priced piece of rubbish in the first place.
~~~ Summary ~~~
If a lady who smiles too much offers you a free vegetable peeler, don't buy a knife off her...
Oh, and the vegetable peeler turned out to be a wierd gadget for cutting veg into spirals. That doesn't work...
I returned the knives two days later...
I bought my 2 and 3 year old sons one of these each for Christmas this year. They previously had a Thomas the Tank Engine one (also Tomy) that they were sharing but it was getting rather broken, being second hand when we got it. These cost me £12.99 each from Argos and I think that is a very reasonable price.
~~~ What it does ~~~
This is one of those drawing toys that works by drawing on it with a magnetic pen, which pulls iron filings to the surface creating an image in whatever design you chose. The picture can be wiped by pulling the eraser button down, which travels back up again, detatching the iron filings and erasing the image, ready to be drawn on again.
So basically, a way of drawing that creates no mess and can be carried around with you. A great idea!
The Tomy Megasketcher pen is attatched by string so it doesn't get lost. The toy also comes with 4 printing tools, a spiral shape, a sun, a flower and one that I say is a house but my husband insists is an arrow! The stampers are a nice idea as the child can incorporate them into their pictures or just bang them on and get a pretty pattern. Unfortunately they clip in very firmly so many children have trouble getting them out and then can't put them back, so they get lost.
~~~ The downsides ~~~
The eraser is mechanised so you pull it down and it travels back up by itself. This is quite slow and children have a tendency to try to force it so this may cause problems after a while.
Your child may create some amazing artwork than gets erased a few minutes later so you can't keep it or show it to anyone (unless you're very quick with a camera!).
The toy is quite large so is best used sitting on the floor, you could take it in the car but it would be rather bulky.
The screen is not as tough as it could be and can be almost wrinkled if your child pushes on it, it is not a solid screen.
~~~ My opinion ~~~
Having had the thomas one previously I am able to compare and suprisingly the Thomas one was sturdier. The screen was solid plastic rather than flexible which it is on this one. Also I found the Thomas one gave a clearer picture.
However, as a toy on its own the Tomy Megasketcher is great value and will provide your child with endless hours of amusement. It doesn't cause any mess and yet allows your child to be creative. My sons were really pleased with these toys and use them on a daily basis, which I think speaks for itself.
I am deducting a star for build quality and the fact that the stampers don't fit in very well.
As I'm just sitting down with a mugful of this, I'd thought I'd try a review.
~~~ Preparation ~~~
Simple! 4 heaped teaspoons in a mug. Add hot (NOT boiling) water and stir. Leave it to bubble up.
- Well, I have done as instructed (unusual for me!) and lo and behold, a mug of bubbly hot chocolate. How clever...
~~~ Appearance ~~~
There are a suprising amount of bubbles, some quite big, on the surface of my drink and this makes it look luxurious and appealing. I can't wait for it to cool down enough to drink!
~~~ Smell ~~~
This may seem an odd inclusion but smell is just as important as taste. This drink does not smell of much, there is a vague sweet smell but certainly does not beg to be drunk.
~~~ Taste ~~~
Rather dissapointing.... this drink does taste very slightly chocolately and of course sweet. However, despite being a little thicker in texture than most instant hot chocolate drinks this really does seem to be all bubble and no flavour. The thicker consistency makes it seem like it should have more flavour than it actually does. I do ususally add a little milk and some extra sugar to my hot chocolate but I get the feeling that if I do that with this one I'll just get milky sugary water with bubbles in! There is no real chocolatey taste and this will certainly not satisfy a chocolate craving.
~~~ Nutrition ~~~
At only 99 calories a mug this seems like a healthy choice but you're looking at 2.7g of fat, of which a whopping 2.5g is Saturated so although this tastes like a low fat hot chocolate, it isn't.
~~~ Conclusuion ~~~
Despite being on special offer and only costing me £1.29, I feel this has been an utter waste of money and can't see myself finishing the jar full. Which, I may add, is only 12 servings so this is quite expensive for what it is. If you want a decent hot chocolate, don't buy this one and if you want a low fat hot chocolate, don't buy this one. Thoroughly dissapointing and the bubbles, while pretty, are really just a pointless gimick.
This year, for the first time, my brother in law had enough money to buy my kids a Christmas present. I told him not to spend too much but he'd seen this and had his heart set on buying it for them, despite the fact that at 2 and 3 they are a little young as it is aimed at 3-6 year olds. This set costs around £30 to £40 depending on where you buy it.
~~~What is it?~~~
If you've ever had a Scalextric set you'll be familiar with the concept, if like me you had a deprived childhood and have never seen one before, it works like this...
In this set you have a small track, which can either be made in a figure of eight or an oval. The track has two runs with a groove in the middle of each and metal strips, through which (I am told) the electricity runs to power the cars. The track it plugged into the mains and therefore "electrified" - apparently it's safe.
You have two little cars, a red and a yellow and on the underside of each are metal "brushes" to pick up the power and a bit that runs in the groove to keep the car on the track.
The cars are controlled by the contollers that are also plugged into the track. The only control is a trigger button that you can pull on a little of a lot depending on how fast you want the little car to go. If you keep it on full power it will just fly off at the corners so you need to be gentle at times.
The track comes in pieces and as there are arrows on each one you have to make sure you put it together right, there's only one way the tracks fits together and if you mess it up it won't work. getting all the pieces facing the right way and in a figure of eight is quite tricky and I had trouble with it so the kids definitely can't manage it themselves. The pieces slot together but you have to be gentle as there are metal bits (presumable that the electricity goes through) that could get bent or broken.
The controllers are not wireless so you have to make sure they aren't tangled up and are all facing the right way so they don't hang over the track and upset the cars. The controllers do tangle easily so this gets tricky.
~~~Is it Fun?~~~
My sons were taken with this the second they saw it, purely because it's a track with cars on. When they discovered that they could control the cars they were overjoyed! My eldest, at three years old is just able to control the trigger with enough care to stop the cars flying off, my youngest at two has trouble but he does enjoy playing.
The track really is very small and the cars go so fast that racing as such is not really possible as you can't count the laps, but simply seenig who can last longest without coming off the track is fun enough. My husband and his brother had great fun playing with this once the kids got bored! I had a go but I have to say that after the car's gone round once or twice and you realise that's all it does, the novelty wears off. Must be a boy thing!
This is quite a fragile toy considering the age range it is aimed at. The track is fiddly to put together and the little cars have a tendency to come apart when they fly off the track.
While this entertains a 2 and 3 year old, I think it would get boring for an older child so if you're buying for a 5 or 6 year old I'd say just get a normal Scalextric set as it'll last longer and get played with more.
This is a lovely introduction to Scalextric for very young children. My sons really enjoyed playing with it but they did get bored after a while and having to constantly find the little cars after they fly off and go under the sofa means you spend more time putting them back on than they spend on the track. It's a nice toy to get as a present but I wouldn't buy it for very little kids, perhaps age 4 would be about right. Given the bad points mentioned above I am giving this 3 stars.
After my husband seeing several adverts for this CD in the run-up to Christmas and expressing an interest in it, I bought it for him as a little extra present. It costs around £10, which for a three CD compilation and a total of 60 tracks, is pretty good value in my opinion.
This CD was produced in 2009 by Ministry of Sound and as hinted at by the title, is a compilation of hit 80s electro pop and rock tracks. It's a nice CD to have playing in the background when you have people over, but also nice to just sit and listen to, it's not all fast tracks and you can chill out quite nicely with it. If you were to play this at a party it would be a good 2am album.
There's a good mixture of tracks on all three CDs, with there not being much between them except that my husband feels CD 2 is not quite as good as the first or third. He would also have preferred it if the tracks were mixed into each other, but I'm not bothered at all that they aren't. My favourite CD of the collection is CD1, with Gary Numan's Cars and Are Friends Electric, Soft Cell's Tainted Love and Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart being my favourite tracks.
I have discovered quite a few new songs from listening to this album and it contains originals of several tracks that I did not actually realise were covers, such as Mad World and Tainted Love (forgive me, I was only born in 85!) so it's also been educational! There's a lot of really great songs on here and if it's 80s and has a synthesiser on it, it's probably included! Unlike many compilation albums that have a lot of rubbish to pad them out, this seems to be all popular sons and my husband at least knew all of them (I didn't, obviously!).
I really enjoy listening to this CD and my husband is really pleased with it so I'm definitely glad I bought it and it really is worth the money as you get so many tracks. I would recommend this to anyone!
~~~ Track Listings (for those who are interested) ~~~
1. Vienna - Ultravox
2. Cars - Gary Numan
3. Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go [12" mix] - Soft Cell
4. Fade To Grey - Visage
5. Don't Go - Yazoo
6. Enola Gay - Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
7. Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
8. Quiet Life - Japan
9. Planet Earth - Duran Duran
10. Being Boiled - Human League (The)
11. Penthouse And Pavement - Heaven 17
12. Promised You A Miracle - Simple Minds
13. Kids In America - Kim Wilde
14. Don't Talk To Me About Love - Altered Images
15. Feels Like Heaven - Fiction Factory
16. Close (To The Edit) - Art Of Noise (The)
17. Pop Musik - M
18. You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties - Jona Lewie
19. Are Friends Electric - Tubeway Army
20. Maid Of Orleans - Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
1. Love Action (I Believe In Love) - Human League (The)
2. Temptation - Heaven 17
3. To Cut A Long Story Short - Spandau Ballet
4. Absolute - Scritti Politti
5. Living On The Ceiling - Blancmange
6. Love On Your Side - Thompson Twins
7. Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You) - A Flock Of Seagulls
8. Black Man Ray - China Crisis
9. Hyperactive - Thomas Dolby
10. Einstein A Go-Go - Landscape
11. New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84) - Simple Minds
12. Groove Thang - British Electric Foundation
13. First Picture Of You, The - Lotus Eaters (The)
14. Kiss Me - Stephen Duffy
15. We Close Our Eyes - Go West
16. Too Shy - Kajagoogoo
17. Brilliant Mind - Furniture
18. Imagination - Belouis Some
19. Driving Away From Home (Jim's Tune) - It's Immaterial
20. Moments In Love - Art Of Noise (The)
1. Mad World - Tears For Fears
2. West End Girls - Pet Shop Boys
3. Blue Monday - New Order
4. Reflex, The - Duran Duran
5. Smalltown Boy - Bronski Beat
6. Situation [12" remix] - Yazoo
7. Sometimes - Erasure
8. Fashion [radio edit] - David Bowie
9. Rapture - Blondie
10. Together In Electric Dreams - Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder
11. Shattered Dreams - Johnny Hates Jazz
12. French Kissin' In The USA  - Deborah Harry
13. Is It A Dream - Classix Nouveaux
14. Love Missile F1-11 - Sigue Sigue Sputnik
15. Whip It - Devo
16. Underpass - John Foxx
17. Beat The Clock - Sparks
18. Duel - Propaganda
19. 19 - Paul Hardcastle
20. Pump Up The Volume - MARRS
(Thanks to HMV.com for the track listings)