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So after 12 and a half years I've finally made it to Gold, thanks to everyone for the reads, rates and comments since I became a member

Reviews written

since 29/08/2002


Wickes General Purpose Pressure Sprayer 21/03/2015

A Waste of Time, Money and Effort

Wickes General Purpose Pressure Sprayer If you’ve read my last review you will know that I was recently applying a coat of wood preserver to my new garden shed and had found the perfect brush to finish the job. I say finish the job, because I had actually set out using a Wickes General Purpose Pressure Sprayer as I thought this would be quick easy and a lot less messy than using a brush. Of course it seems that I was totally wrong in that assumption, although not before I had wasted £16.99 buying this sprayer to aid with the task in hand. The Theory Having been sold the concept of a quick and easy applicator for wood preserve from numerous adverts, then perhaps my first mistake might have been buying the slightly cheaper Wickes own brand version as opposed to the Ronseal one. I had, having seen all the adverts, expected this to spray the preserver onto the shed in nice even lines and with enough to give it a good covering, but that’s far from the result I actually got. The reality, which I’ll get to shortly, was in all honesty a million miles away from the theory and intention. Getting Started Once we got the pressure sprayer home I opened the box and unusually the sprayer is already assembled, there was no need to attach anything or work out what went where it was just ready to go, however that’s where I encountered the first problem. There are little to no instructions on how you actually use the pressure sprayer and so filling it was a case of try it and see. It seems that you unscrew a cap around the ...

Hamilton Timbercare Brush 19/03/2015

Preserving Must Go On

Hamilton Timbercare Brush At the moment we seem to be undergoing somewhat of a DIY SOS big build on the house we are renting. We have recently started to replace the floors with carpets that we were given and decorating the house, but the biggest change has to have been to the Garden. A combination of Jen and I and our Landlord have removed all of the trees and we have set about installing new flower beds and revitalising the grass, but perhaps the biggest change is the introduction of our new shed, especially for all of Ross’s toys. The Need To Preserve Of course with a new shed comes the need to cover it in some form of treatment to protect the timber. Having tried and become increasingly frustrated with a pressure sprayer, review to follow, I opted for the old fashioned method of a brush and a pot of wood preserver. Of course like most of my weekends at the moment, I picked this up on one of our trips to B & Q and it cost me £6.47 for this specialist timber care paint brush. Now it would have been just as easy to use an ordinary paint brush, but I figured as they make a specific brush for this specific job it was probably worth buying one. The Brush The brush itself isn’t anything particularly different looking from your standard brush. Where the difference does come in though is in the head, which has been created using specially formulated bristles to make it suitable for use with wood preservers. The bristle material is made of a bristle and synthetic mix to achieve the desired results and ...

The Black Ice - Michael Connelly 05/03/2015

Be Careful Of The Black Ice

The Black Ice - Michael Connelly I have to admit to having been quite impressed by my introduction to Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch in Michael Connelly’s first novel The Black Echo. So it seemed inevitable that I would be reading more about this interesting character. In fact over the last month or so I’ve actually worked my way through another 5 of his stories surrounding his fictional LA cop and even watched the whole of the recent Amazon TV series, such is the enjoyment I found in that first book. I had been looking for a replacement for Jack Reacher and I think in Harry Bosch I found just the character. Bosch’s Dogged Determination Having learned quite quickly from the first book in this series, we know that Bosch doesn’t take things at face value and when a colleague from Homicide Division is found in a motel bathroom having taken his own life something doesn’t sit right with Bosch. In fact something about the way Narcotic cop Cal Moore’s end came about attracts Bosch’s attention, especially as three separate cases he is working all link together around his former colleague. For Bosch there seems to be more to this than meets the eye, but the police department are trying to keep him away from the bigger story but through his separate cases Bosch seems to keep stumbling back to the same question, was that really Cal Moore. My Thoughts After the initial novel in this series had piqued my interest I was really keen to see if Connelly could keep the winning formula of suspense mixed with a strong plot in his ...

Hamilton Perfection Perfection Roller 12/02/2015

Rolling All Over The Room

Hamilton Perfection Perfection Roller There comes a time in every man’s life where he starts to realise he has grown up and for me that moment of realisation really struck home last weekend. Now the fact I’m 32 and have a son now should have been enough of a hint but having just spent a weekend doing DIY and home improvements with the helping hand of my own dad I think this was really the defining moment. We had a new shed to put up, but first we were moving Ross into a new room and decided it would be best to paint the room first. Getting The Kit As we rent our current house we’ve never really had a great number of tools or home improvement bits around the house and having decided on Friday to repaint the room on the we headed down to Wickes and purchased a Hamilton roller and a pack of brushes and it is of course the roller I am going to review first. Now in the past I have bought cheap rollers from Wilkinsons for odd jobs, but this roller actually cost me £7.99 and straight away I thought this might be something a little bit better than any roller I’d bought before as it was costing me more than the sets I’d bought previously. The Hamilton Cage Roller The roller is a cage design roller and comes with 5 metal wires held together between two prices of plastic to create a cage to form the shape once the roller head is in position. This is said to give the roller extra strength and security against slips off the end, something I had certainly encountered with cheaper rollers in the past. It is recommended that ...

The Black Echo - Michael Connelly 01/02/2015

Introducing Detective Harry Bosch

The Black Echo - Michael Connelly Having now caught right up to date with all 19 of Lee Child's current Jack Reacher books and all of the short stories too it meant I needed something else to read for my work commute . I scoured Amazon for some suggestions and finally came up with Michael Connelly and his detective lead character Hieronymus Bosch or as he's otherwise know, Harry. The reviews suggested that as I had enjoyed the Reacher adventures then the antics of LA detective Bosch would be equally as appealing to me, so I opted to start at the beginning of the series with Black Echo. Meeting Harry Bosch It's late on Saturday night and Bosch, a homicide detective in the Hollywood division of LA is on call for the weekend. He finally gets a call out to a body dumped in a pipe out by the Hollywood Reservoir in the early hours of Sunday morning. Upon discovering the scene Harry finds it is an old army colleague from his Vietnam days, a fellow tunnel rat who helped clear the tunnels. The scene is set for Meadows death to appear as a suicide but something about it all doesn't seem right and Harry sets off to try and find out what really happened to the man he knew years ago and soon finds himself embroiled in a much larger investigation. My Thoughts I always find that starting to read a new series of books with a new main lead character can be quite hard work, especially given that I've spent the last 6 months or so working my way through the Jack Reacher stories. What I found in Harry Bosch though was a very ...

Hozier - Hozier 25/01/2015

Trying Hard But Failing

Hozier - Hozier Having burst onto the music scene following the success of a track he posted to YouTube, the last year or so has been a bit of a whirlwind for Andrew Hozier-Byrne. My own encounters with Andrew, or simply Hozier to give him his stage name, came courtesy of XFM where his first single (and the subject of that YouTube post) Take Me To Church has had an unbelievable amount of airplay. At first I wasn’t sure and then it seemed to grow on me so I decided to buy the album not long after it’s release, although I’m still not sure if that was a good idea. So Who Is He Born on St Patrick’s day in 1990 in Bray, County Wicklow it seemed that Hozier was always destined for the music industry with his father being a local Blues musician. With his father as an influence Hozier joined a couple of bands and gravitated towards R & B, soul, gospel and of course Blues music before attending and subsequently dropping out of Trinity College to follow his dream. He then posted his now infamous first EP and video on YouTube during 2013, things really took off for him prior to the release of this, his self-titled debut album in September 2014. The Album With a plethora of singer songwriters around at the moment it would be key for Hozier to really sell himself and from the off by following the Blues route he is trying to create himself a unique selling point but I’m not really convinced that it worked. Whilst the majority of DJ’s on XFM seem to be raving about the album I just didn’t really get ...

A Wanted Man - Lee Child 18/01/2015

Someone Need's Reacher's Help

A Wanted Man - Lee Child My Time on the train to work is really giving me an opportunity to work my way through a large back log of books I've been wanting to read for a long time and to that end it has enabled me to finally read all 19 Jack Reacher stories by Lee Child. The 19th and final one I got round to was A Wanted Man, the 17th book in the series. Ever since discovering Jack Reacher and Lee Child, before Tom Cruise had been picked to star in the movie version of the books, I've really enjoyed the character and the series and the last few months have finally given me that chance to read them all. What Is Reacher Up To Now Having set off after the events of 61 Hours to head for Virginia and meet his replacement in the Army, Reacher figures he must almost be there. After a slight detour into an unwelcoming part of Nebraska he is hitching a ride to try and get him to his destination. After just over 90 minutes a car stops to pick him up, there are 3 occupants, two men and a woman, that Reacher figures for business colleagues travelling for work. He gets in and soon starts to wonder if this is their real story, something doesn't feel quite right. Following a few unusual occurrences he's never encountered whilst hitch hiking before Reacher starts to try and work things out as he navigates a few roadblocks. Meanwhile in a small town not far from where Reacher was picked up on the highway slip road there has been a brutal murder and local law enforcement has called in the FBI, but things are ...

VTech Baby Toot-Toot Drivers Fire Engine 14/01/2015

Toot Toot The Fire

VTech Baby Toot-Toot Drivers Fire Engine Whilst Ross has really taken to his new Toot Toot toys he still goes back and plays with his Fireman Sam toys just as much. In fact it's not only his Fireman Sam toys, it's also his Duplo Fire Engines and the big American Fire truck we got him from Sainsbury's, it's fair to day if it's red and has a siren then Ross will love it, all from his love of Fireman Sam. So for that reason it seemed a bit of a no brainer to buy him another vehicle to add to his ever growing legion of Toot Toot vehicles, I am of course talking about the little red and rather noisy Fire Engine. VTech Toot Toot For anyone not familiar with the Toot Toot range from VTech, they are a collection of toys designed to not only entertain children but to also help them learn and develop whilst they are playing. There are now two varieties of Toot Toot's on the market, first of all you have the car series which also including a train, helicopter and a plane and then you have the animal series with a large variety of animals on wheel's to add a different spin to it. Along with the vehicles (or animals) there are also a large collection of tracks and play sets that interact with the vehicles and through certain points play the sounds. Otherwise the vehicles themselves have a button on the front, but more about that shortly. The idea behind the toys is to help your child develop though and they do this in 3 key areas, with simple phrases to help language skills, through gripping and driving the vehicles around ...

Sodastream Drink Bottle 11/01/2015

My Own Drink Factory

Sodastream Drink Bottle When I was younger I always remembered my Mum had a Sodastream machine hidden away in the back of the cupboard in the kitchen. I used to love fizzing up the bottles and certainly preferred the Sodastream cherryade to the ones you could buy in the local supermarket. Then the Sodastream broke and we didn't replace it, in fact the brand seemed to almost disappear for a while. Then about 4 or 5 years ago I started to notice it coming back and then for my 30th, 2 years ago I got a new design Sodastream machine. The only downside of my new machine was that it only came with one bottle for making up drinks. This is fine if you can drink the whole 1 litre of anyone drink at a time, but I thought it would be nice to buy a couple of extra bottles so I could make up a couple of different drinks at the same time. I therefore opted for these 0.5l bottles. They came as a pack of 2 so then I would have 1 litre bottle and 2 half litre bottles, which I figured would be plenty. I paid £7.99 from Amazon for my additional bottles and they are currently still available for the same price, although you can now get 2 x 1 litre bottles from Amazon for the same price. The bottles are made from a tough plastic that is designed and manufactured to withstand the pressure of the carbonation from the sodastream’s gas cylinder. The way the bottles are designed and manufactured mean that sodastream only recommend that they are used for 3 years before being replaced, of course they are going to say that ...

EMTEC Super Heroes 2D C600 Batman - USB flash drive - 8 GB 06/01/2015

I'm Batman

EMTEC Super Heroes 2D C600 Batman - USB flash drive - 8 GB In my line of work there is a real need to keep master documents with you at all times. There is no telling when past experience may help you out. In addition despite having all of our photos backed up on a cloud drive we like to have them on a flash drive as well and for that reason we seem to have a large number of them around the house, ranging in size from 8GB to 128GB depending on what they are used for. My favourite has to be a novelty one I picked up in Asda about 6 months ago when I was looking for a small flash drive for work. There were a couple of different designs but after much deliberation I opted to buy the Emtec Batman 8GB flash drive. Now as you might be aware I have an enjoyment of Superhero related items. As a result this really cried out at me from the shelf and I didn’t mind spending £6.99 to make it the latest flash drive addition to our household. Of course because my buying this flash drive was all due to the Batman logo on it there were a couple of elements I didn’t really consider properly. Firstly, whilst there is a slot to slide this drive onto your keys it is quite chunky at 15 cm x 1.3 cm x 10.4cm, meaning that my keys then became a bit of a dead weight in my pocket. I normally prefer the flash drives that come with a short length of string with appropriate connectors and I attach them to my bag but that wasn’t an option on this occasion. So this led to me leaving the flash drive loose in my bag and leading to a few moments of panic when I ...

Sonos BR100 Zonebridge 05/01/2015

Wireless For Sound

Sonos BR100 Zonebridge It would be fair to say that anyone who has read my reviews over the last 12 years here on Ciao will know that I love my gadgets. Whether it be my tablet, my smart phone or even my kindle I seem to have a real desire to try out new technological advances and that’s what lead me to opting to get rid of out stereo at home and kit the house out with a Sonos wireless hi-fi system. As I’ve been steadily finding my music preference switching to Spotify and my cd collection heading bit by bit to music magpie, this seemed the next logical step. So What Is Sonos The Sonos brand comprises of 6 different types of speaker from the Play:1, where my system started and includes the Play:3 and 5 along with a sound bar, the Sonos amp and a Sub-Woofer. By using as much or as little of this kit you can create the home sound system you always wanted. In fact over your Wi-Fi you can have up to 32 different players operating from it. In addition to creating a Hi-fi network the Sonos can also be used as a surround sound system. Enough About The Speaker’s As this review is about the Sonos Bridge and not the Speakers I will leave more about those for their own reviews. The Bridge is a piece of kit that creates a more reliable and synchronised network around the house. The Bridge is wired into your router with an Ethernet cable and plugged in creating a dedicated Wi-Fi network to run your speakers without interfering with the Wi-Fi signal around the rest of the house. Installation I found the ...

Sonos PLAY 3 03/01/2015

Expanding The Wireless System

Sonos PLAY 3 When I bought my first Sonos speaker I had thought that a Sonos Play:1 would have been sufficient for our Living/Dining Room, however having set it up and started to use it, I decided that perhaps a slightly bigger speaker would be required. I liked the idea of buying the Play:5 speaker but the cost prohibited me from really pursuing that idea and therefore I decided to opt for the Play:3 speaker instead, it was a decent halfway point between the Play:5 and 1 and seemed like a decent alternative, not least due to the price. So What Is Sonos The Sonos system can be built up in a variety of different ways. There are currently 6 different types of speaker, which include the Play 1, 3 and 5 along with a Sub Woofer, an amp and a sound bar all of which connect together wirelessly either through your existing Wi-Fi system or by using a bridge or booster to create a dedicated Wi-Fi network running in parallel to your existing network used exclusively for the Sonos system. Once installed the Sonos can pick up digital radio or pay subscription music services such as Spotify to enable you to listen to a huge amount of music at the touch of a button anywhere you choose to put one of the speakers within your house. Controlling Sonos & Adding Speakers In its previous versions the Sonos system was controlled using a specially designed controller, however having moved with the times they now use an app free to download for any android or apple device. It’s through this that the process ...

VTech Baby Toot-Toot Drivers Tow Truck 31/12/2014

Toot Toot Tow Tow

VTech Baby Toot-Toot Drivers Tow Truck With Ross having received a couple of Toot Toot Drivers sets for his Birthday it seemed inevitable that more would be following at Christmas time. Add to this how much he seemed to love the initial sets he got for his birthday on the 9th December and what ensued was a mad dash of last minute shopping by both my wife and I but also both sets of Grandparents. We had found a new toy that kept him well entertained and as a result a number of new track sets and vehicles were forthcoming, including this one, the Toot Toot Drivers Tow Truck. VTech Toot Toot From not being overly familiar with the Toot Toot range prior to his birthday I am now pretty well versed in what it’s all about, mainly through looking at it in shops, online and in the living room. The cars themselves retail at about £6 a piece and are designed to encourage your child’s development. With a good pedigree in producing great children’s toys it is no surprise that VTech have created another gem here. The Toot Toot cars and sets are designed for children aged 1 to 5 years old and are specifically designed to develop the child’s imaginative play, motor skills and language. In The Box 1 x Toot Toot Drivers Tow Truck 1 x AAA Batteries Ross’s Reaction As soon as he had unwrapped the Tow Truck he sat and looked at it from all different angles, pressed the button on the front to make it play one of the 6 sounds and 2 songs. After a couple of minutes of ignoring his other presents he then handed it to me to open it ...

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (PS4) 24/12/2014

Call Of Disappointment

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (PS4) Having finally convinced my wife to buy me a Playstation 4 for my birthday it was almost inevitable that when the latest Call Of Duty release came out then I would be getting it. Ive played all of the previous Call Of Duty games on the PS3 and although this is the second one on the PS4, it seemed like a reasonable place to start. Given that I had bought and enjoyed all of the previous versions of the game I thought this would be £42.99 well spent, but was I right? The Single Player Plot The year is 2054 and a private military cooperation has emerged with the power and ability to rescue humanity following the global attacks on military and infrastructure. In this instalment the player takes on the role of a new advance solider, equipped with new technological advances and tasked with restoring order in a world gripped in a state of advanced warfare. Does It Work As someone who has played and enjoyed the other 3 instalments in this series I really want to say that it does. The problem for me is that despite the graphics, effects and enhanced look of the game, the story itself is very weak. In the previous Call Of Duty games I often found myself starting to pay the game and being unable to put it down for hours on end, unfortunately that just didn't happen this time around. The game play seems very linear and the plot, although carried rather impressively by Kevin Spacey, would fall apart but for his involvement. The problem is there isn't anything new or innovative with ...

VTech Toot-Toot Drivers Airport 22/12/2014

Toot Toot Takes To The Skies

VTech Toot-Toot Drivers Airport Along with his New Duplo, Ross also received a few items from the V Tech Toot Toot Drivers range of toys. He hadn’t previously had any of the toys of his own, however he has played with them and really enjoyed playing with them at one of his many toddler groups he goes to. It therefore seemed like a good idea, when people asked for birthday gift ideas, to point them in the direction of the toot Toot drivers vehicles. We certainly hadn’t expected him to receive any of the track sets, however that’s exactly what he did get, the Toot Toot Drivers Airport. Toot Toot Drivers Other than the occasional advert on Cartoonito I wasn’t particularly familiar with the Toot Toot Drivers sets, however my wife has seen Ross play with these for months at the local Children’s centre. The Cars, Tracks and Buildings are all bright colours and talk to the children as they play through a series of smart points around the track and buttons on the vehicles that can be pressed. They come from V Tech, a company who specialise in creating fun and innovative ways of helping children to learn. The Toot Toot toys are aimed at Children aged from 1 to 5, so Ross is really in the middle of their target demographic. In The Box The set is made up of the following components: 1 x Toot-Toot Drivers Airport base 1 x Weather vane 1 x Airport tower 1 x Control tower with antenna 1 x Fuel station platform 2 x Supports 12 x Varied track pieces 1 x Toot-Toot Drivers Plane Ross’s Reaction The fact that the ...
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