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since 19/12/2005

24 09/07/2007

It works much better now! UPDATE AT END OF REVIEW! is not an auction site itself, but a free service that supports your eBay auctions with templates, unlimited photo hosting and a number of other features like scheduling, that eBay would normally charge for. Unbelievably, this service is absolutely free and you can save a considerable amount on your eBay fees. Registration = Using the Auctiva website requires a quick registration. Choose a user name, enter your e-mail address and choose a password. That's all there is to it. You can start using the service immediately. eBay Token In order to list your eBay autions from Auctiva, you need to generate an eBay "token" first. You can do this immediately after you've registered. You'll be required to log into your eBay account through a secure server. This way, Auctiva will not have direct access to your eBay password, but with this token, which is your unique identifier, they'll be able to communicate with eBay on your behalf. You only need to generate this token once and it will be used for all your listings. Free Selling Tools Auctiva offers a whole range of free selling tools that eBay would normally charge for. Some of these tools include: * Free Image Hosting: You can upload an unlimited number of photos to support your listings absolutely free. eBay offer the first photo free, but they charge £0.12 for each additional photo. All photos you upload to Auctiva are supersizable, which means your customers can see ...

Smart Trike with Sunroof 09/07/2007

Not So Smart Unfortunately

Smart Trike with Sunroof SEE UPDATE AT END OF REVIEW! At first glance, this trike looks great. Funky colours, good safety features, complete with all the extras you can imagine. For £39.99 you would expect it to be a quality product, but a few months of usage will sadly prove this assumption wrong. We've had this trike for about nine months now. We bought it to substitute our buggy, when our then 16-month-old flat out refused to sit in it any more. He must have decided that he was no longer a baby and he didn't want to be seen pushed around in a buggy, I guess. We thought this trike would solve our problem, and to be fair, it did to some extent. From then on, every time we left the house, our little boy would run to the garage asking to sit on his trike. No more screaming and struggling trying to strap him down. It's just a shame that the manufacturers couldn't build a better product for this price. The Good Things About the Smart Trike = Parent Handle --------------- ----- The best feature of the Smart Trike is undoubtedly the parent handle. I have never seen another trike with the same wide handle resembling the handlebar of a pushchair. And best of all, it's connected to the front wheel so you can steer the trike around. Pushing this trike is actually easier for me than pushing our buggy because it is much lighter. This mechanism, however, like the rest of the trike, is not very well made and there's a great deal of slack when turning the handle. As a result, you have to hold the ...

Scrapbook Inspirations Magazine 19/01/2007

Warning! Possible Side-Effect: Addiction

Scrapbook Inspirations Magazine What is Scrapbooking? If you've never heard of scrapbooking before, let me give you my husband's definition: "It's some kind of obsession involving women, paper and photos." Well, that just about sums it up. A scrapbook, also known as memory book, is basically a photo album with a difference. Instead of just placing your photos into an album, you use decorative elements and journaling to capture all those precious memories. It is the fastest growing hobby in the UK, with paper craft enthusiasts branching into, or even converting to scrapbooking every single day. I first started scrapbooking about two years ago, just after my son was born. I didn't quite know what to do with all those baby photos and I was looking to buy photo albums online. I discovered scrapbooking quite by chance and I was hooked instantly, probably for the rest of my life. This is a wonderful hobby, which appeals to women of all ages and backgrounds, encouraging a form of creative expression they never knew they possessed. Scrapbook Inspirations - Background and Readership = This review is about the leading scrapbooking magazine in the UK called Scrapbook Inspirations. Like the title suggests, the main purpose of the magazine is to inspire crafters with fresh new ideas each month to help them create amazing layouts of their own. This magazine is suitable for both experienced scrapbookers as well as those new to the hobby. The magazine is published by Future 13 times a year. The cover ...

Rewards at Ciao 14/01/2007


Rewards at Ciao Nobody was more surprised than me when I found out that I had been awarded a diamond for a review I wrote in November 2006. Since then, I've seen an opinion published on Ciao criticizing the quality of the awarded reviews in general, and I also noticed some negative ratings and comments appear on a number of diamond reviews soon after the announcements were made. I had no idea that the diamonds were so controversial and this experience has prompted me to look into the diamond issue a little and find out more about what criteria Ciao might be using to decide which are the "best" reviews. I wrote my review with the primary purpose to share some of my experiences with a potentially problematic DVD recorder. Is it a brilliant review? No, probably not. Is it very helpful? I would like to hope so! Does it deserve a diamond? Well, that depends on your understanding of Ciao. Some people seem to be under the impression that we write our reviews to entertain and impress each other with our wit and writing skills and Ciao should reward us just for that. Ciao is not here for its own sake and it's not about literary brilliance. It is primarily a business enterprise, and as such, it relies on its customers, the companies sponsoring the site. That's where the premium fund comes from in the first place. So how is the premium fund, including the diamonds shared out? It's quite simple really: you receive a share in proportion to the traffic you attract to the site. Of course, there ...

Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Moisture Cream 21/12/2006

Nothing compares to Aveeno

Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Moisture Cream My son has very sensitive skin prone to eczema and rashes and I'd tried many creams and lotions before I found this wonderful product. There are lots of baby skin care products on the market, but nothing I have tried comes even close in terms of quality and effectiveness to Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Moisture Cream. So what makes this cream superior? The Aveeno Brand The name aveeno is derived from the latin word 'avena sativa' meaning oats or oatmeal. Oats are known to contain natural skin protecting agents and these are used in all Aveeno products. The Aveeno brand is owned by Johnson & Johnson, which somewhat surprises me, as I'm not a big fan of Johnson's products in general and their baby products in particular. They all seem like a harsh chemical job with too much colouring and added frangrances. The Aveeno brand is very different but it is clearly undermarketed in the UK for a reason uknown to me. There is a wide range of products in the Aveeno line, including shampoos, bath additives, special treatments, lotions, creams and ointments along with products specifically formulated for babies and children. Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Moisture Cream Properties and Ingredients --------------- --------------- ------- This cream has just the right consistecy: quite thick but it absorbes quickly and leaves no greasy feeling behind. The colour is off-white, which is the natural colour of the ingredients as the product contains no additional colourants. ... 19/12/2006

More like Snail Order Out of Stock I don't normally rate products and services lower than three stars, unless they are really bad. Well, I've had bad experiences with Mail Order Express on two occasions. It might be that they are just too busy at this time of year, but even then, I find their level of customer service simply unacceptable and I feel compelled to voice my frustration in this review. To be fair though, I'll give you a run down of what Mail Order Express is all about and then I'll tell you more about my own bad experiences with them. Background = Mail Order Express is the largest online toy shop in Europe. They are a subsidiary of Arbon and Watts Ltd, a long established toy retailer in Britain, whose roots go all the way back to the 1940s. Mail Order Express was established in 1990, dealing exclusively with mail orders for Arbon & Watts and their online shop was launched in 1999. The parent company, Arbon & Watts, was awarded the title "Toy Shop of the Year" many times in the 1990s and more recently in 2004. Their motto is: Waiting And Ready to Serve You. Not in my experience, but more about that later. The Website When you visit, the first thing you notice is that their home page appears very "busy". There are a number of special offers displayed, and the links take you straight to these hot items. Further down the page you'll find two links that allow you to browse either by category or by brands. They carry an amazing 350 different brands of toys. Both the ...

McVities Mini Cheddars Crinklys Sweet Chilli Flavour 15/12/2006


McVities Mini Cheddars Crinklys Sweet Chilli Flavour When I spotted McVitie's sweet chilli flavour mini cheddar crinklys on offer at my local Tesco's last Saturday, I didn't hesitate a second to buy them. I'd already tried the cheese & onion crinklys and really liked them, so I was absolutely sure I would like this variety as well. And boy was I right! Mini Cheddars Most of you will be familiar with the standard issue mini cheddars. They come in individual handypacks of 50g and in multipacks of seven. They look more like biscuits, and come in a variety of flavours, including Original, Cheese & Onion, Branston, BBQ and Mature Cheddar flavours. I like the flavoured varieties best, but for some reason, they are quite difficult to find. Most often, it is the original variety that is readily available, which is not bad, but a bit bland and boring for me. The crinklys variety is even more difficult to find on supermarket shelves, even if I look for them especially . Is it because eveybody wants them and they sell out quickly, or is it because they just don't make that many of these? In either case, I find the lack of availability of the crinklys more than a bit frustrating. Wouldn't the manufacturers like to sell as much possible? As far as I'm aware, the crinklys come in only two flavours - cheese & onion and more recently, sweet chilli. I'd never seen the chilli flavour before, so I assume it is a new release just in time for Christmas. Hopefully, it's not a special edition only and it will be available all year round. ...

My First Black & Decker Workbench 13/12/2006

Just like daddy's?

My First Black & Decker Workbench When I saw this Black & Decker workbench advertised by Woolworths on their website for half price, I thought I'd found the perfect toy for my son. He's always been into tools and what better way to keep him off daddy's real tools than give him his own pretend ones. Against my own principles and better judgement, I ordered this workbench almost instantly without doing any research first, as I thought I'd found a very good deal and I didn't want to miss out on it. Now I wish I had taken the time to check any other options and maybe see this product on display in a store to give me a better idea of what to expect. I feel that retailers and manufacturers often misrepresent their products and make them sound better than they really are, overemphasizing certain features and failing to mention any shortcomings. Consumers purchasing products online are at an increased risk of being misled this way, as they don't have the added benefit of being able to physically see and touch the products before making a buying decision. The lack of information about products purchased online may lead us to assume certain attributes that they don't actually have. This only proves the importance of consumer sites like Ciao where customers can share their good and bad experiences about products and save other people the disappointment. I hope this review will achieve just that. Product Overview The official name of the product is My First Black & Decker Workbench but I've also seen it ...

Crayola Washable Ready-Mix Paint (4-pack) 10/12/2006

Plentiful supplies for your budding artist

Crayola Washable Ready-Mix Paint (4-pack) My son just looooves painting. Then again, show me a two-year-old who doesn't. Painting at this age primarily means smuging loads of paint on paper (or any other available surface as long as mummy can't see it) and requires quite a lot of supplies to keep them going. They can crank out 4-5 "pictures" in rapid succession using up half a pot of poster paint each time. We needed something more substantial so I looked around Hobbicraft a few weeks ago and stumbled upon these paints. Packaging There are four colours in this pack: red, yellow green and blue. The four bottles are wrapped together with a see-through plastic film. Each bottle holds 250ml ready-mix paint. The bottles can be squeezed slightly, but the plastic is not rubbery enough to make them truly squeezable. It's easier to get the paint out if you shake the bottles, like you would do with a bottle of ketchup. It's quite tricky to get the right amount of paint out; sometimes you end up with too little and other times with too much. The caps are initially sealed and you have to pull a tab first to be able to flick the caps open. When open, the caps remain attached to the bottle and can easily be pushed back on to prevent the paints from drying out. The caps fit well and close into place with a 'click' sound. Price comparison I paid £3.99 for this pack, which roughly works out to £1.00 per bottle. Considering the volume, it's much cheaper than any paint I'd bought before for crafting purposes. To give ...

Whitworths Sunny Raisin 6-pack 26/11/2006

No need to hide this from the kids

Whitworths Sunny Raisin 6-pack I discovered this product quite by chance the other day. We normally buy the Californian Sun-Maid raisins, but I couldn't find any in my local convenience store, so I opted for this one sitting on the shelf. I didn't expect much from it as I had never tried this brand before, but I was very pleasantly surprised. So much so, that I felt inspired to write this review and encourage other consumers to give these raisins a try. Background = Sunny Raisin is a brand owned by Whitworths, the UK's leading producer of fruit and nut snacks and baking products. Originally founded in 1886, the company has been transformed a number of times over the years through mergers and acquisitions. Although the Whitworths Group Ltd headquarters are in the UK, Sunny Raisin is actually produced in the USA using Californian grapes. Packaging, Availability and Price Sunny Raisin is available in handy multi-packs of 6 X 42.5g and also in large bags of 250g. I paid £1.29 for a multipack in my local convenience store, but I've seen it for £1.09 in Tesco's since. The 250g bags cost around £1.27 in the supermarkets. I find the size of the multi-packs just right for my growing toddler, who use to eat 2-3 packs of the Sun-Maid raisins, which are a lot smaller. A pack of Sunny Raisin is big enough to satisfy even an adult's cravings for something sweet and healthy. The pack measures approx 5.5cm X 7.5cm X 2cm. I've posted a photo for size reference below. The Raisins = Whitworths Sunny ...

Yoplait Petit Filous 19/11/2006

One pot is never enough

Yoplait Petit Filous Although this product is listed in the yoghurt category on Ciao, technically, it's not a yoghurt. Fromage frais, as you might have guessed, is a French term meaning 'fresh cheese'. It is generally thicker than yoghurt, and because of the added cream, quite high in fat. This makes it ideal for babies and toddlers, as they need the additional energy from the relatively small amount of food that they consume. There are various brands of fromage frais products currently on the market, most of them specifically made for children in tiny pots. This particular product, Petits Filous (meaning Little Rascals), is made by Yoplait in France. They have a joint venture with Dairy Crest in the UK who distribute this product. Packaging Petits Filous fromage frais comes in packs of 6 minipots. There are two varieties available, depending on the flavours. There's the 2 X strawberry, 2 X apricot, 2 X strawberry&peach variety, and also the 2 X strawberry, 2 X raspberry, 2 X strawberry&vanilla variety. There used to be a forest fruits flavour too but I haven't seen those for a while. You can also buy multi-packs of 3X6 pots. The individual pots come apart with an easy snap. This always leaves two corners of each pot with dangerously sharp edges. I often wonder if anyone has ever had an accident with these. Toddlers like to hold these pots in their little hands, and being toddlers, they might want to wander off with it. If they fall over, like they often do, they can easily hurt ...

Avon Hydrofirming Bio6 Night Cream 17/11/2006

A good, basic, affordable night cream

Avon Hydrofirming Bio6 Night Cream One of my friends is also the local Avon representative, so I get a constant supply of Avon catalogues, which come out every three weeks. In case you've never tried Avon, you should know that some of their products - though not all of them - are extremely good quality, and easily as good as or even better than the top brands available in the shops at the fraction of the price. Avon operates through their representative network who distribute their products on a door-to-door basis. Admittedly, I hate door-to-door selling, but Avon is somehow different, and not only because it's my friend doing it. So next time you get a catalogue through your door, think twice and have a leaf through - you might just find yourself a good bargain or two. This review is about Avon's Hydrofirming Bio6 Night cream. For years, I've been struggling to find a good night cream. I've tried several good brands but most of them gave me either an allergic reaction or a shiny look on my face. I have resigned myself to using just regular moisturisers during the night, which worked for a while but as you get older, your skin needs the extra nourishment from special night creams to regenerate your ageing skin cells. I find that this night cream does a very good job at this. Packaging This cream comes in a 50ml see-through glass pot with a blue metallic sticker band running around it. The plastic, screw-on top is also blue. I know it's a shallow assumption, but I always think that the colour blue ...

Carnation Good Start/Baby Formula 16/11/2006

NAN HA: The formula that helps babies with eczema

Carnation Good Start/Baby Formula This product review is about Nestle's NAN HA 1 baby milk formula. As far as I'm aware, this product is known as Carnation Good Start in other parts of the world. Before I go on to reviewing this product, I have to address the controversial issue of the Nestle boycott. I first became aware of this boycott against Nestle when I researched the NAN HA formula on the Internet. There's very little information available about this baby milk, but the search engine kept bringing up a website called They are a non-profit organisation spearheading the Nestle boycott in the UK. They seem to be on a crusade of some sort to stop Nestle from marketing their baby products, not only in developing countries but here in the UK as well. In their own words: "Our work protects all mothers and infants from irresponsbile marketing." Well, they've done an excellent job here in the UK. Mothers are so protected against Nestle's marketing that they don't even know their baby products exist. Products, that could potentially save their babies from various allergic conditions like eczema, colic and acid reflux. And before anyone would have a chance to criticise mothers for not breastfeeding, please be aware that breastfeeding is not always an option. There are many reasons why a mother would have to choose a formula over breastfeeding, and Nestle's NAN HA formula could be the best option when the baby is at risk of developing allergies. Sensitivity to Milk Proteins Two ...

Sony RDR-HXD710 10/11/2006

I love this machine, but...

Sony RDR-HXD710 We bought our Sony RDR-HXD710 DVD recorder in August this year, just a few months ago. We'd been flirting with the idea of getting a DVD recorder for quite a while but we kept putting it off, mainly because they seemed so unreasonably expensive at the time. However, prices of DVD recorders have gone down significantly in the past year or so. These days you can get a good machine for about £300-£400 compared to £500-£600 a couple of years ago. The HXD710 cost us just under £400 from Amazon, including delivery. This model first came out in September 2005, and as far as I know, they no longer manufacture it since it's been replaced by another model, which is not necessarily better, I hasten to add. The HXD710 is still available from electronic stores and online retailers. In this review, I'm going to discuss some of the basic functions of this DVD recorder for the average user without going into details about the more advanced features, which can be found in the user manual. I will also mention some issues that potential buyers should be aware of. Basic Features * 160 GB Hard Disc Drive (HDD) * integrated Freeview tuner * compatibility with most DVD discs (+/-R/RW), incl.DL discs * Firewire compatibility (i.LINKconnection) * EPG Electronic Programme Guide * pausing live TV Features lacking = * This DVD player only has one tuner, which means that if you're recording a programme from one channel, you won't be able to watch another freeview channel at the ...

Twinings Everyday Tea Bags 04/11/2006

Everyday Everytime for Everyone

Twinings Everyday Tea Bags Twinings took a massive risk calling this tea Everyday. If it wasn't for the clever packaging and the advertising campaign, this tea could easily be regarded as a 'value' product based on just the name. By value, I mean cheap and nasty, which this tea certainly isn't. Instead, Everyday refers to the fact that this tea is a no-frills, no-fuss, straightforward black tea, so good that you will want to drink it every day. Previously, I've known Twinings for their speciality teas: English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Ceylon and other similar 'posh' teas. By launching Everyday it seems they're trying to break into the standard black tea market traditionally dominated by brand names like PG, Typhoo and Tetley. The Price ------------- Twinings Everyday tea bags come in box sizes of 40, 80 or 160. A quick comparison of current Tesco prices reveals that Twining's Everyday teabags are quite a bit more expensive than similar products by their competitors. A box of 160 Everyday teabags is priced at £3.89 compared to £2.88- £2.99 for the same amount of Tetley, Typhoo, PG and Tesco's Finest teabags. Does this mean that Twinings Everyday tea is that much better? Well, if the marketing people have done their job, they will convince you to buy this product despite the price tag and make that verdict yourself. The advertising --------------- ------ Perhaps you remember seeing a series of TV advertisements for Twinings Everyday tea featuring Stephen Fry. These adverts are quite ...
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