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It was time to replace my girlfriends car, and she had her heart set on a Mini Cooper S.
Luckily, I kept my sensible head on and suggested that we go for a diesel model, better mpg, plus the added bonus of being able to fill it up using works fuel card!
After lots of shopping around we found a one owner private sale of a 2009 Mini Cooper Diesel, slightly high mileage for the age, but it was fully loaded.
As it's a diesel model, I will start by reviewing the engine. It's a 1.6 Litre turbo diesel engine, producing 110bhp. It's suprisingly quiet for a diesel engine and does run very well, the six speed gearbox is very smooth and it pulls like a train in all gears. With my girlfriend doing a 25mile trip to work and back, with a mixture of city and motorway driving, it always averages an impressive 57mpg. We did once drive it to London and we managed to get this to 66mpg!!
Servicing is very cheap on the mini, the previous owner paid an extra £200 for 5 years servicing, so we are currently benefiting from this, but after this runs out, if we still own the car, a full service is only £199. 12months tax on the car is only £110 which is one of the lower band, we also find the insurance pretty reasonable, costing not much more than her old 1.4 petrol Mitsubishi Colt.
I love the look of Mini's from outside, there are so many options to put on them that if you are buying one brand new you can really make it look unique. If you go to the mini website and see how you can personalise your car, the list is endless, they have literally thousands of options! We were lucky enough to find a spec'd up mini which has a body kit & larger wheels, a real head turner!
Whenever we go out at the weekend, I always find an excuse to use the mini over my own car, as i find it so much fun to drive; It really is very nippy around town and out down country lanes you can really throw it into corners. It handles excellently and never feels like it will let you down. It has to be one of the easiest cars to park too, the steering is so light when stationary, and as it's only 3.7metres long you are pretty much guaranteed to find a parking space that it will fit into.
Before buying the car I had read that mini now fit electric power steeringto their cars, I had heard mixed reviews on this idea but it does work very well, it always centres perfectly when letting go of the wheel, which usually electric steering doesn't do. When we bought the car it had the standard 15" wheels, and this gave a fairly comfortable ride on all road conditions. We have since upgraded these to 17" like on the John Works Cooper S, with these on the ride is rock hard. If you have a bad back this may not be the car for you.
Nobody could call the mini a practical car without being laughed at, there is absolutely no leg room in the back, and the boot is barely big enough for my girlfriends handbag. However when in the front of the car it feels like you are inside a much bigger car, there is plenty of leg room and the seats don't feel close together like you would expect. The big speedo in the middle of the dash looks great in the dark, but does cause problems as your passenger can always see how fast you're going, which does tend to cause some arguements when I am driving. Everything inside the car feels extremely well made, there are no tacky switches or any flimsy plastics, the seats are very comfortable for a small car and the addition of mood lights on the centre pillars makes it nice to travel in during the dark. The engine noise that can be heard inside the cabin is also kept to a minimum, considering it's a diesel engine, when sat stationary you can hardly hear her running, and at high motorway speeds it's as quiet as you'd expect from a much larger car.
When you buy any Mini, standard kit includes CD/MP3 player, electric windows & mirrors, height adjustable seat and air conditioning. Ours is a pretty high spec, when you buy a mini there are several packages including Vision, Pepper, Chilli, Sport etc... Ours is the fully loaded sport pack which had full leather interior, auto wipers, auto xenon lights, electric heated seats, electric folding mirrors, glass roof, Harmon Kardon stereo that does sound amazing, the list goes on!
One great thing on the newer mini's is the way you start the engine, they no longer have a traditional key style ignition. Instead you have a fob which slots into the dash, then a nice red push start button to start the engine, this gives the car a real sporty/luxury feel.
Although the main reason for buying a Mini was because my girlfriend wanted one, its also nice to know she is in a 5star NCAP rated car, it's full of airbags, has traction control and the rear seats have isofix as standard making it ideal for when we have kiddies. Whilst on the subject of NCAP, it's probably worth stating that it only got 2stars on the pedestrian rating. If you have a habit of running people over then this is a car you should avoid, as you will probably end up doing people some harm!
Depreciation is a worrying factor on the mini, our one brand new was £23.295, we paid £17,500 for it one year old with 20,000 miles. Thats a hefty loss when buying a new car, Now the car has taken its initial hit and as our particular model is such high spec'd, I am hoping we will not lose too much in the time we own it.
Overall, I can't rate our Mini highly enough, it's so easy to drive, a doddle to park and it fits in wherever you take it, whether it's Knightsbridge in London, or outside a kebab house in Manchester.
If you are looking to buy a Mini, then definitely do it, you won't regret it and it becomes more than just a car, it feels like another member of the family.
5/5 well earned stars.
A few weeks ago whilst at work I received the phone call that every person dreads, my girlfriend was crying down the phone saying 'Its dead, I can't believe it's dead!' After calming her down, she eventually told me that the dishwasher repair man told us that our beloved dishwasher could not be saved.
As my girlfriend has fake nails, which apparently means she can do no washing up by hand, I headed straight to all the electrical shops to find a replacement dishwasher as soon as I could.
Buying a dishwasher isn't really as interesting as buying a new TV or HiFi, they all seem to look the same! That is until you come across the Bosch GV53E33GB. This dishwasher with its smooth silver exterior really caught my eye, With just one bar on the front to open the machine, the rest of the front was very clean looking, perfect for an ultra modern kitchen.
The salesman then came over to me, as they always do, telling me about the energy rating, and place settings etc... I didn't care about any of that, I had found the one dishwasher that would actually look nice in our kitchen and at the time that's all that mattered. It boasts a huge 12 place settings, so perfect for the two of us who seemed to use the old one twice a day sometimes.
This one is rated the following
Energy efficiency - AAA
Wash performance - A
Drying class - A
I paid £449 for the dishwasher which makes it a bit on the pricey side, but I didn't fancy putting a cheap and nasty white box into our kitchen so I think it's a premium worth paying. I also got a two years parts & labour warranty with it, so knowing the next two years are trouble free on the dishwasher front is nice.
After some bartering, Comet very kindly offered me a free installation service and even disposed of our old one. After watching the old machine being carted away to the dishwasher graveyard, we both headed inside to try out our new toy!
The machine has five different wash programmes; Intensive 70 °C, Normal 65 °C, Economy 50 °C, Quick Wash 45 °C, and a Pre Rinse.
This has a very clever racking system called 'Rackmatic' meaning you can adjust the height of the top shelf, if you have a large number of plates this can be lowered to fit plates into both the top and bottom of the dishwasher.
The display on the machine is very simple to understand, it has an indicator light for rinse aid and salt, so you always know when they need refilling. One thing that does take getting used to is the fact that you can't see the timer without opening the door, as the display is actually on the top of the door. Our old dishwasher had a display on the front saying how long was left on the cycle, this one is just a gamble as to whether it will be finished washing in time for your dinner to be served.
As cleaning goes, we tend to just use the intensive programme, as it gets everything clean every time. This takes around two hours but doesn't bother us too much. We tend to give everything a quick rinse before it goes into the dishwasher but this is so good that i doubt it actually needs the help.
This one even has a self cleaning filter, meaning you never have to go into the dishwasher dragging out the filter to wash.
The quick setting takes around 35minuts so is ideal if you need your plates fast, although after using it we find the glasses come out a bit smeary and not sparkling like you get from the intensive wash.
All wash settings dry everything perfectly, and if you ever catch the dishwasher just as it ends you will find the contents is boiling hot, which again gives the feeling that the contents has had a real deep clean.
One noticeable difference with this dishwasher compared to our old one, was how quiet it is, you could really hear the water sloshing about in the old one. This one is near to silent.
If I were being picky, the one downside is that there is no delay timer. My girlfriend used to time the old one to be ready for when we were home from work so the plates were warm to eat dinner from.
Overall, I would recommend this dishwasher, it is a bit more expensive than others but the looks definitely make up for it. Buying this really helped us get over the tragic loss of our old one!
We have a garden shed down the bottom of our garden which unfortunately has no electricity supply in it. Now we are getting darker evenings it does my head in when I need to go down there to get anything, as it's pitch black!
Whilst in Pound Stretchers, I noticed this solar powered shed light for just £6.99. For the money I thought it is well worth a try. Opening the box it seemed to be a fairly well made bit of kit for the small price paid. Its approx 18cm wide x 7cm tall so will fit into tight spaces where other fittings may struggle.
The light has a fluorescent tube in it, and a small weatherproof solar panel to mount outside the shed. Installation was very simple, just two screws to hold the light to the wall, and another two screws to secure the solar panel to the roof. The cable from the solar panel to the light is 1.5metres so it's more than long enough to reach up onto the roof or outer wall of any shed.
The light itself houses 2 x rechargeable AA type batteries. The idea is that the solar panel charges the batteries, and the batteries power the bulb. There is a simple pull cord for turning the light on and off.
I wasn't expecting this to be very good because of the cheap price tag, but its actually not that bad. The light is fairly bright considering its solar/battery powered, our shed is 8ft x 12ft and it does light up enough to be able to see what you are in there for. I have had the light on for around 30mins in one hit and it hasnt started to dim or flicker, so for most people rummaging in their sheds, this should stay on for long enough.
I am more than happy with this solar light, it does exactly as it says on the box and costs peanuts to buy. One major plus point is that it costs nothing to run!
Since buying in pound stretchers, I have since found the light on amazon for £4.99! Who would ever thought you could buy something in pound stretchers and find it cheaper elsewhere!
Its that time of year again when nearly everyone you look at seems to have a cold! Along with a cold comes the dreaded sore throat. Pain killers never seem to touch a sore throat so I opted for a Honey & Lemon pack of lockets.
I paid 65pence for my pack from a local Esso garage, probably cheaper than this in the supermarkets. Each pack of lockets has ten individually wrapped sweets, so they're ideal for sharing with your other germ infested friends.
Each locket 9.7 mg menthol and 9.2 mg eucalyptus, I think they could use a bit extra menthol as they never seem to help my airwaves at all.
When you eat the sweets, at first they are like a hard boiled sweet. You can instantly tell they're not a normal boiled sweet, they have a medicine type taste, That aside, they are probably one of the best tasting throat sweets you can buy. If you can resist biting into them, after around five minutes you reach the centre of the sweet which is like a smooth honey & lemon concoction. When you hit the smooth mixture you really notice it soothing the throat. Unfortunately, a few minutes after you finish the sweet the sore throat returns! I don't think they actually do anything to cure a sore throat, just help sooth it for a few minutes
The pack states that you should not eat more than three packs in 24 hours, I tend to ignore this and eat around double that, making sure I always have one in during the day seems to keep a sore throat at bay!
Overall I think for the money, they are worth trying out, just don't expect them to cure a throat because they don't, at best they just make it a bit more bearable. For the 65pence that i spent, i did expect a lot more!
3/5 Dooyoo stars
My girlfriend works in a hospital and is always coming home with a cold, most of the time i manage to avoid them but this time I got caught out!
I had a sore throat, blocked nose, headaches and all the usual symptoms of a good old cold.
I took a trip down to Asda and headed straight for the medicine aisle, around half an hour and £20 worth of medication later, I set off home. My goodie bag included a 100gram pot of Vicks vapour rub, at a cost of £4.13.
The vicks is very easy to use, either rub onto your chest before bed, or put a couple of spoonfulls in a bowl of hot water and breath in the steam.
I covered myself in this before I went to bed, and found that it did help breathing during the night, It's quite sticky so I'd recommend putting it on half hour before you are due to get in bed. I woke up during the night and it still hadn't soaked into my skin.
The next morning my nose and throat were back to how they were, blocked and very sore. I used the steam option and put two teaspoons into a mug of nearly boiling water. The vapour that comes off with the steam is great, and instantly gets to work clearing your nose. It worked a treat and smells nice too.
As I was using the steam option i tried breathing in through my mouth and found the vicks to work wonders on a sore congested throat, so much that I decided to eat a spoonful! If you have a sore throat that feels blocked, just eat a spoonful of this and it instantly feels clear, there is a hell of a tingling sensation for about ten minutes after but it really works soothing the throat.
Another thing i have since tried with Vicks is taking the bowl of hot water into the shower with me, this way the menthol vapours get into the steam from the shower and you end up surrounded by a shower of medicine! Vicks also works well in Saunas and steam rooms too!
If you have a cold with a blocked nose or sore throat, I would 100% recommend you try Vicks vapour rub, it works a treat!
I get a lot of headaches, probably due to the fact that I should wear glasses, but decide to squint instead, and I find buying branded pills very expensive.
I tend to munch through paracetamol like they're sweets, so at 21pence for sixteen 500mg caplets, they work out at a penny a pop, what a bargain.
The packaging for these isn't as fancy as some branded pills, they come in a blue and white cardboard box, and inside there are two sheets both holding eight tablets, there is a sheet of paper in there with a list of do's and don'ts, but I have never actually read this.
The back of the packet says these are not suitable for the under 12's. Adults should take two tablets with water, and if the pain still persists take another two four hours afterwards.
The tablets themselves are in a capsule shape so are nice and easy to swallow even without water, just chuck them in your mouth and swallow!
Whenever I have a headache these tend to kick in within half an hour, and it's not often I have to take more after four hours. If you do feel you need another dose, Tesco do not recommend taking more than eight taplets within a 24hour period. If you are ill enough to need more than two doses of these then it's probably worth taking a trip to the doctor.
I find these do exactly the same job as any branded paracetamol, but for a fraction of the price. I tend to keep a pack of these everywhere, at home, work, in the car, wallet.
Tesco will only allow you to buy two packets of these at a time but you will find because they work so well, you shouldn't have to buy them too often.
I would recommend the Tesco paracetamol, don't let the low price put you off, they're as good as any other brand out there!
My girlfriend has got into the habit of making soups every week, ( it must be a winter thing). Unfortunately for me, she likes soup all chunky with huge pieces of meat and veg, I prefer soup to be smooth. As I don't fancy cooking for myself, I decided to get a blender so I can turn her chunky soup to the slop that I like.
I originally wanted a Bamix mixer, which I have read is at the top of its class, but as I don't do much cooking I thought id go for the other extreme and buy an Asda Smart Price hand blender.
I paid about £4.50 for this, which for the money was well worth a gamble. Inside the box there is the blender and one blade attachment. There was a simple instruction book but it did the job and within minutes I was ready to get blending!
The blender itself is white in colour and not the prettiest, so if you are buying one I'd recommend finding a space in a drawer or cupboard to save any embarresment when you have friends come to visit. Put the looks aside, and it seems to be a well made piece of kit.
The blender has two speed settings, there isn't really much difference between the two so I tend to stick it on the fast setting whatever I do with it. The first task I gave it was to sort out the ridiculously chunky soup that I keep getting force fed. The blender has a protective shield round the blade so you can use it in your favourite pots and pans without ruining them.
Once I dunked this into the soup, and switched it on, I did find it to be quite noisy, I'm not sure how fast the blade actually rotates but judging off the vibration through my hand I'd say it's pretty fast! Within a few seconds it was taking shape, it seems to suck everything into the blade and spits it out the side, did the job perfectly. No more lumpy soup!
I have since found plenty of other uses for the blender, chuck a banana, scoop of ice cream and some milk into a glass and you get a nice banana milkshake, you can throw squares into hot chocolate to give it a bit nicer flavour and even use it in a milky coffee to froth it up a bit.
Once you have finished using the blender, you will find cleaning very easy, I usually just unclip the blade and put it in the dishwasher, but if you were to just spin it about in a bowl of hot soapy water I'm sure it would clean just as well.
If I had to say one negative on the blender it would be the length of the power cord, it is on the short side, luckily for us we have a socket near the hob, for the money paid though you can hardly complain.
I'd recommend this to anyone who wants a cheap, simple hand blender.
Returning from a recent holiday, my girlfriend and I had eaten lots of cheese and ham toasties for a lunchtime snack, we enjoyed having them so much that we decided to get our own sandwich toaster. When we saw that Tesco were selling them for just £5.47, we couldn't resist such a bargain.
The toaster was packaged in the usual value colours, a white box with some blue stripes down the front, with a small picture of the toaster too. The box states it comes with 12months guarantee.
This toaster isn't the prettiest of things, it is white in colour and very plain, so if you like to leave appliances out on show then this may not be the one for you, everything else in our kitchen is chrome, so this has to live in the cupboard.
When you switch the toaster on, you will see there are two lights, one for power, and the other for temperature, you have to wait a few minutes before the temperature light goes out, meaning it's ready to start cooking.
This toaster is supposed to be able to make two sandwiches at a time, but unfortunately the hot plate just isn't big enough to accommodate two pieces of bread. We just have Warburtons or Hovis bread, nothing out of the ordinary but the slices do not fit into the toaster correctly, you have to make just one sandwich and put it in the centre, meaning you don't get the toastie cut into two halves like it is supposed to do. If you use Tesco value bread, then you will find that it fit's the toaster perfectly. so a tip from me, if you are buying a value toaster then buy the value bread to put in it!
Putting the size problem aside, it actually does create a nice toastie, the cheese always melts perfectly and it only takes 2 or 3 minutes to complete. We have tried loads using it, tuna & cheese, cheese & beans, egg & bacon, the list is endless.
The hotplate has a non stick coating, so it's fairly easy to clean off spilt cheese or other fillings, it would be better if the plates could be removed completely to put in the dishwasher, but at this price you can't complain.
If you eat a lot of toasties, then you may be better spending a little more, if like us you only have them occasionally, then this will do the job, at less than £6.00 it's cheaper than what you would pay for a ready made toastie in some café's!
I will rate this toaster 3/5, it is excellent value for money, but being limited to value bread does put a downer on things, if it would easily accomidate Hovis or alike, it would defintely be a 5 star.
A few weeks ago my girlfriend and I went to Heaton Park near Manchester, and were surprised to see there was a section where you could take along your own barbecue.
As we had been having some brilliant weather we decided to join the crowd and take our own barbecue along with us. The closest shop I could find was an Esso petrol station with a Spar shop joined to it. We bought the Golden Fuji disposable barbecue for £3.99 along with a pack of frozen Birds Eye burgers & kebab sticks
There is very little waste when it comes to packaging, it is wrapped up in thin polythene with a piece of thin cardboard covering the top of the barbecue. Measuring around 40cm x 25cm it was the perfect size for us to stick a couple of burgers each on, plus some small kebabs.
To set up the barbecue it's simple, just rip off the plastic, remove the cardboard and you're ready to go. Most parks will ask you to sit the barbecue on some bricks or similar, to stop burning the grass, we hadn't planned the visit so had to improvise using some pebbles and twigs.
When it came to lighting the barbecue, we were a bit stuck when we realised it doesn't come with anything to light it with. As none of us smoke so don't carry lighters, it was a pretty embarrassing moment having to ask another couple to burrow theirs! For some reason I just expected it to come with a few matches.
Once we got over the problem of finding a lighter, we found that it was very easy to light, I used a small piece of the cardboard packaging to help it along. The coals took about 15minutes to start glowing white meaning you're ready to cook.
We only had the option of thin burgers but I am glad of this, as they did take a while to cook, I wouldn't recommend buying thick butchers sausages or burgers as I doubt they would ever cook. The barbecue did stay hot enough to cook for around 60minutes, so there was no panic that it may cool before cooking was complete.
When cooked, the burgers did have a nice smokey barbecue taste to them, not bad considering they were cooked in the middle of a park.
Packing away was very easy, a bottle of water thrown over the coals did help the cooling process and once cold it could be thrown straight into the bin.
I would recommend this product for use when camping or a day at the park like we did, I would still much rather use our brick built barbecue at home because they do cook it much better.
If you do buy one of these, remember to take your own lighter or matches, and cooking tools, we forgot to take anything with us so the end result was some very burnt finger tips!
I give the product 4/5
A few weeks ago my trusted old laptop sadly decided to die on me. As i use a laptop for my work I needed one quickly so headed straight to Comet to buy one. Whilst browsing I was drawn to the netbook section, I bought this Acer Aspire One, I paid £270 for it, I have since seen it on some websites for around £199!!
The first thing I noticed when buying the netbook, was that the box was actually packaged in was tiny, probably not much bigger than a loaf of bread.
When you open up the box, I again couldnt believe how small it actually was, sitting it next to my old laptop this looked tiny, The screen is 10.1inches and when closed, the laptop only sits at 2.5cm high. It only weighs 1.8kg which really does feel light when carrying it around. It's a nice looking netbook too, with a glossy black top and inside the keyboard surround is a matt grey.
Setting up was easy, mine was already fully charged so after around 10mins of installing updates it was ready to go. The first thing I noticed, which I didn't even think to check in the shop, was that this doesn't have a CD drive, which made installing my copy of office a bit tricky! I have since seen that no netbook has a built in CD drive due to the compact size of them.
Forgetting the CD drive problem, connectivity elsewhere is brilliant, three USB ports, network port, speaker/microphone sockets plus an SD slot. It has wireless built in which connects instantly and hardly ever loses connection even when I take it into the garden, on the odd day that it doesn't rain.
When I first sat down to actually use it, I couldn't get the hang of it at all, I found it almost impossible to type, and my eyes seemed to really struggle to see the screen properly. Now about two months down the line, I can type on it without a problem, this review is currently being typed on it, so if I make any spelling or grammar mistakes I'll blame the keyboard.
I have found the battery life on this excellent, I can easily use it for seven hours without needing to re charge, If you're playing music or youtube videos you can still expect to get a good five hours out of it so it's perfect for travelling on trains and planes.
Day to day running is brilliant, it hasn't crashed once yet and opens up the usual office programmes & internet explorer almost straight away, it has 1.6ghz processor and 1gb ram, this doesn't sound a very high spec but it's an Atom processor which is supposedly more energy efficient meaning it will keep up with most tasks. It comes with a 160gb hard drive which is more than enough for plenty of music and office files.
It also comes with a built in webcam, I have never tried this so can't comment on how well it works, but it's supposed to be optimised for low light viewing meaning you shouldn't have to be sat in a really bright room for the cam to work.
To summarise, if you are looking for a new netbook, this one is a very good cheap option, the cost doesn't break the bank and I am sure perfomance wise it will give manufacturers like Sony a run for their money.
5/5 dooyoo stars
No faults from me.
Also on Ciao under the name groobus
Having recently upgraded our bathroom, I had spent hours and hours browsing bathroom shops. In one shop I saw a very neat mirror that had a fm radio built in. I thought this was an excellent idea and nearly bought it. It was then that I had a brain wave and wondered if you could get a TV for the bathroom!
I did some searching online, and found on Amazon, this VanguardTech Pure Mirror. Priced at just under £450, this is a mirror and 19" TV screen all in one, it even had Freeview! It didn't take me much time thinking before I clicked the button to buy it.
As I ordered this through Amazon, I wasn't waiting long at all before it was delivered. Setting up was obviously a bit more complicated than a usual TV, we had to have about two inches chopped out of the wall so it would sit flush with the tiles, The TV comes with a scart, HDMI, coaxial and computer cables that are plenty long enough to reach up into the loft or to another room to connect it up, there is no need to worry about installing aerial points in the bathroom as everything is supplied.
As this is in the bathroom, it couldn't be plugged in like a normal TV, so we had the socket plugged into the loft, there is a transformer supplied which also stays well out of the way, then just a small power cable running down to the set itself.
The mirror came with the mounting bracket, and once installed, it was completely flush just like a mirror would be. Before turning it on you'd never guess it was a television, the only thing giving it away would be the two small speaker vents either side.
There are no buttons on the mirror itself, all the controls are on the waterproof remote that is supplied, it may be worth mentioning that this is fully waterproof, and it even floats should you ever drop it in your bath!
When you first turn on the TV you have to do the usual channel installation, this took a few minutes and found all the channels you'd expect on Freeview. The picture quality is brilliant, you'd hardly recognise it as a mirror when the TV is switched on, one fault I have found is that with all the lights on it can be hard to see, if you can dim your bathroom lights then it's fine.
I can't comment on how good the HD is, as I have never plugged anything into the HDMI socket, I have tried the scart with a digi camera and it displayed holiday snaps perfectly.
The sound quality was a bit on the tinny side, but for bath time viewing it was more than adequate, the remote worked very well and after being dropped numerous times, it still works as good as the day we set it up.
The screen itself is IP65 rated, meaning it can be splashed with water without damaging it. I have held the shower head directly on this screen to test it out and nothing changes, it's a very well made piece of kit.
Although the main reason I bought this, was to watch TV in the bath, the actual mirror side of things is very good too, it never steams up no matter how long you're in the shower, which is a good thing, as our old mirror was impossible to use in a steamy room.
Overall, I would recommend this set to anybody, go into any bathroom shop and you can expect to spent £200 plus on a bog standard mirror, I think this is worth every penny and is always a talking point when anyone ever comes to stay.
If you don't fancy having your wall chopped out to fit the tv, there is a £399 option that mounts externally onto the wall, if you really want to splash out, for £700 you can get a 26" screen! Unfortunately my budget wouldn't stretch this far!
If you do want to buy one, just put in VanguardTech bathroom TV into Amazon
I rate this 5/5!
We are quite lazy when it comes to cooking meals, so we often end up using ready made sauces that you pour over meat. We picked up a large family size jar on offer for £1.50, I think it usually costs about £1.85. I liked the sound of this, as it was made with 76% real tomatoes and 14% puree, there were no artificial flavours or preservatives which is always a good thing.
The sauce comes in a glass jar which allows you to see the contents, you can see the sauce inside is a nice rich red colour, it has a green lid an and a red and green label through the middle of the jar, on the front of the jar there is a picture of a few tomatoes, the word Dolmio, and the nutritional information.
When you open the jar there is a nice fresh tomato smell that hits you, it appears to be very thick at first but it is very easy to pour. To use, you just brown off some mincemeat, pour the contents of the jar over and simmer for about ten minutes.
As the product is being heated up, it does smell lovely. You can really smell the tomato and all the other herbs used. The sauce contains some fairly good sized chunks of onions and tomatoes too, but we always add a bit more onion and some mushrooms to beef it up a little. The sauce did seem a little dry towards the end of cooking, I think we probably left it simmering a bit too long.
The taste of the sauce is great, so fresh tasting and not like something that has come out of a jar, it's as good as home cooked in my opinion, they have used the perfect amount of spices to make a great tasting finished product.
Due to the high tomato content in this sauce, one portion provides you with one of your five a day. As we failed to eat it all in one sitting, we both boxed some up and took it to work the next day and I was pleased to find it hadn't lost any taste and was still as good as the night we cooked it.
I would highly recommend this sauce for anyone that loves spag bol!
My girlfriend is going through a phase of home baking at the moment, most of the cakes & tarts she makes include strawberry jam. We usually have Hartleys or jam bought from garden centres. This costs about £3.50 a jar and I think this is a waste to put in a cake as when cooked you'd never know it's expensive jam.
I decided to buy her a jar of smart price jam to try instead, it cost 38pence for a 454 gram jar. The jar itself was the same as any other jam jar. It was glass, had a tin lid with the safety button on the top, and had a sticker through the middle. The paper sticker had the usual white and green Asda colours, it had a picture of one strawberry on the front, just incase you can't read. On the back of the pack there is the nutritional information and the ingredients.
Firstly, I was pleased to find that this jam is prepared with 35grams of fruit per 100grams of jam, I didn't think this was bad at all for the money, considering it costs 10% of our usual stuff.
When you open up the jar you are greeted with what looked like any other strawberry jam, it smelt nice and fruity and was surprised to find it was full to the top. There didn't seem to be any seeds either which was good for us. I decided to give it a try on a bit of toast, it was very thick and fairly hard to spread. As soon as it warmed up though, it was fine. The taste of it was perfectly edible, and I'd say as expected for the money.
The real reason we had bought the jam was to use in cakes, so after my girlfriend had done all her magic, and they came out of the oven, this is what let the jam down a bit, it had turned more like syrup than jam and didn't really taste anything like strawberry. We had plenty of butter cream with it though and they were still perfectly edible.
I probably wont be buying this again, I'd rather spend about 80pence to get the Asda jam, but not the smart price. It just didn't taste fruity enough which defeats the whole object of having jam.
I love anything sweet, especially cakes. I always find Mr Kipling to be very expensive for what it actually is, so I decided on trying Asda own products. The last time I was in Asda I picked up a smart price chocolate swiss roll for just 13pence.
It was packaged in a clear plastic wrapper with the usual white and green asda label through the middle, this meant most of the rolls were actually squashed on the shelf, as there was no card or anything to stop this happening. I's not easy to open the packet without completely ripping it open, so once open you'll need to keep it in an tin or an air tight container.
The sponge itself is chocolate flavoured and is rolled around vanilla flavoured cream, when served it looks very good and you can clearly see the swirl of cream inside, although there doesn't look to be much of the cream included. The sponge is nice and soft and is sweet tasting, and although there isn't much cream, you can definitely taste it; it's nice and sweet and went down a treat.
The roll isn't very big, you'd probably be best cutting it into four pieces as dividing it any further will leave you craving for more. I could easily eat the full thing without a problem, not that I ever have done though.
My girlfriend uses these in chocolate trifles and sometimes pours melted chocolate over the top with crushed Cadbury's flakes, it then passes for a luxury treat.
For the price tag these are excellent value, they make an ideal cupboard filler and would be great for kids parties where most of it would probably end up on the floor anyway. It's by far the cheapest swiss roll on the shelves but the taste doesn't give this away
Wuater of the cake contains 81 calories and 3.2grams of fat, this is really low considering there are more calories in a Kit Kat than this has!
It is free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives and mentions nothing about nuts, It's also safe for vegitarians too.
I would definitely recommend the product, the only let down would be the packaging, as I said earlier most of them were squashed, if you dig deep enough you'll find one unharmed.
Next time you're in Asda give this a try, you'll be impressed.
I have a set of Bose headphones for myself, and whenever we fly, my girlfriend always wants to use them. The danger is, that when I fall asleep, and she then gets bored of listening to music, she just throws them on the floor or stuffs them in the back of the seat. As these cost me over £200, it breaks my heart to see them treated in this way.
I decided that in order to save the life of my headphones, I'd have to buy her a set of her own. I bought the JVC HA-NC80 for around £45 in Currys. They are a noise cancelling set which is what I wanted, and for the price tag they seemed worth trying. We have a JVC Blu Ray player and have found that very good and I have always known of JVC for making good quality audio equipment.
They come in a clear plastic packet which shows the headphones clearly before you open them, the pack says they're noise cancelling which is a must for flying, the back of the packaging gives a bit of information on how noise cancellation works and also how to care for your headphones.
When you open the pack, I was pleased to see they include an aeroplane headphone socket adaptor, this straight away saved me about £5. They also have a carry case.
The headphones take one AAA battery which I think is for the noise cancelling system, they are very lightweight which is ideal when flying. Each headphone is around 2.5inches wide, this sounds more than enough but it doesn't really cover the ear completely which can make them a bit uncomfortable compared to other sets.
I was slightly disappointed with the noise cancellation. With my Bose you are left in complete silence, with these you can still hear plenty of background noise although they do substantially reduce it. The sound quality is acceptable but I find there isn't enough base and with some songs they sound too tinny, they do go to a very good volume before distorting and seem to keep the music confined to the person playing it. i.e. if you were sitting on a bus next to someone wearing these, you probably wouldn't hear their music playing.
The battery life is very good, we have had them for around 18months and still on the same battery, they don't seem to drain the ipod's power either, considering they are much bigger then ear phones, I'd say the battery life stays the same. They're also pretty tough too. As I said earlier my girlfriend will often shove these in the seat in front of her or use them as a foot rest, and they still haven't broken.
I am pleased I bought these for her, I do see them as being good value for money and they are much better than some cheaper headphones you can buy. They are now available on Amazon for £30 so have come down a fair bit in price. If you fly a lot or travel on coaches and trains, you will definitely see the difference using these over a standard set or an in ear pair.
Also posted on dooyoo under username groobus