Share this page on

red Status red (Level 5/10)



Trusted by 56 members
See member statistics

Having been away for so long many old faces have left, I'm really enjoying reading the new ones who have replaced them. I'm also enjoying filling up my COT again after removing all those who have disappeared over the last 5 years.

Reviews written

since 02/11/2005


Wild Swimming Coast - Daniel Start 15/04/2017

I must go down to the sea again...

Wild Swimming Coast - Daniel Start I am a swimmer, not a particularly good one I certainly don’t possess any great speed and I worry about entering organised events as I believe, often correctly, that I will come last, but honestly I don’t care and will try anyway. As a kid if we arrived at the beach more often than not I was in the sea before my parents had finished unpacking the car. I don’t understand people who go places without having a swimming costume in the car just in case (unless you are one of the super brave skinny dipping types) I am at my happiest swimming outside be it in a lake, river, lido or the sea. When I was younger we just referred to this as ‘swimming’ these days though it has been given the grander title of ‘wild swimming’ which covers any type of swimming that is not an indoor pool. About the book The author Daniel Start is one of those chaps whose hobby clearly gets in the way of real life, he started investigating great beach places to swim as a student and would spend evenings pouring over maps looking for new places to investigate, this is something I can relate to as the Ordnance Survey maps are great for finding footpaths to less crowded beaches and something I have spent many evenings doing myself. He has since travelled tens of thousands of miles discovering the secrets of the British coastline. The book is a good coffee table sized book coming in at 256 pages most of which have cool pictures of beaches and inlets on, its a great book to flick through. After an ...

Volkswagen Polo S BlueMotion 02/03/2017

Polos with no hole

Volkswagen Polo S BlueMotion I’m truly rubbish at car reviews, I always have been, I have no interest in cars except they have to get me from A to B and to be honest, I tend to find car reviews float somewhere about a foot above my head. Everyone in the entire world seems to understand the inner workings and why you should get one over another, but not me. However I figure that not everyone can be car savvy, so a non techno persons review may be of use to other non tech savvy people. So when my trusty Ford Focus started costing me money every service and it came time for it to go and find a new owner to look after it, I set about the increasingly horrible and daunting task of finding its replacement. My requirements for a car are simple, It has to last forever and if I promise to service it regularly, feed it with fuel and wash it every now and then it should never die or have anything go wrong. Apparently I live in a land of delusion. The car that I finally chose for this impossible task, The Volkswagen Polo 999c with Bluemotion technology. My Volkswagen Polo It’s red with 5 doors and quite cute to look at, some of the older models seem to have a really ugly backside, but not this one. I like it. Features • Automatic Post-Collision Braking System • Driver's and front passenger's airbags • Electric windows, front • Bluetooth telephone connection • Driver's and front passenger's safety optimised head restraints • Side, head/thorax airbag system for front passengers • Composition ...

Everything that starts with R ... 20/02/2017

Robin of Sherwood, The hooded man returns

Everything that starts with R ... I did ask ciao nicely for a category for this but I never imagined for one second they’ll agree as even I can see it doesn’t fit with their business model. But for ever child of the ‘80s this a review that has to be shared, even if simply as one of my rare cafe reviews, and its about time I came clean: My name is Digbycat, and I had a massive crush on Michael Praed as Robin of Sherwood. So I will admit to being more than a little excited when they announced the surviving members of the original cast were coming back together for an audio episode entitled Knights of the Apocolypse. It did of course have to be an audio episode as a tv episode with them 30 years on would be amusing to say the least. The Company: The production company is called Spiteful puppet, from what I can gather from the various press releases it wasn’t a particularly easy thing to achieve, they had agreement from all of the surviving members of the cast but still had to pay the licensing for the rights to the show and the Clannad music which is of course essential to the show. So they crowdfunded the money required and eventually were good to go. The box All of the artwork contained within the box which is a 3 CD special edition is the original photography from the ’80’s so Jason Connery, as Robin, with his blonde, flowing, perfectly conditioned hair, looking broody on the front. I’m guessing this is because the slightly balding definitely grey and not quite such athletic version 30 years on ...

Bristol Violin Shop 14/02/2017

How not to strangle a cat..

Bristol Violin Shop Bristol has always been a great place to shop, you have the out of town Cribbs Causeway, the town centre ‘Cabots Circus’ but the thing I have always enjoyed about Bristol is the range of specialist shops that they have, one such shop is Bristol Violin Shop. Choosing an instrument that will take a student into the upper grades and beyond is always an exciting time although not as easy as you might expect. For the early stages of learning any good student outfit from any music shop or online from amazon or similar is perfectly fine, you don’t want to pay a lot of money at that stage as you never know whether you are going to take to it or not. These cheaper student outfits however begin to really show their limitations at around grade 5 or 6, so whilst it is possible to pass at the higher grades the instrument doesn’t have the capability to produce the tone that is needed. You’ve all heard a squeaky violin, with the ‘sounds like someone is strangling a cat’ analogy, yes it is a well known issue for beginners, but it can also be a sign of an inferior instrument. Bristol Violin Shop is run by true musicians, the owners Nick and Neil are both experienced luthiers with experience of violin making and restoration it is very much a small professional business. They are also very actively involved in the local music community. The Shop The Shop itself is quite an odd little layout, you have to ring a bell to enter, which is fair enough for the security of the instruments, at ...

Le Creuset 3-ply Rectangular Roaster 10/02/2017

From oven to hob roast

Le Creuset 3-ply Rectangular Roaster A few years ago I was enjoying post Christmas get together with my family and asked my nephew what Father Christmas had brought him, he went into very enthusiastic detail about his brand new Spider Man costume clearly the best gift ever and he’d lived in it since Christmas morning. His dad then asked me what I’d received for Christmas and I answered ‘a roasting pan’ my nephew just stopped dead in his tracks and looked at me in utter confusion before uttering the words ‘did you ask for that?????’ Whilst it is certainly no Spider Man outfit (which I can’t help thinking would look a little odd on me) I had indeed ‘asked for it’ for my roasting pan is a ‘Le Creuset roasting pan. Le Creuset Le Creuset is a world class company that originated in France almost 100 years ago, they are normally known for quality ironware and stoneware, very often in a distinctive lava orange colour. The roasting pan, which can come with a roasting rack at an additional cost, so mine didn’t, is made from stainless steel and is described as ‘3 ply’. Now if I’m completely honest, if you say ‘3 ply’ to me my first thought is knitting wool I don’t really get what ‘3 ply stainless steel’ means, but I believe it is something to do with how they layer the steel and get an even heat, it mentions aluminium too, way too technical for my little brain to cope with. What the Le Creuset pan promises: It promises to be suitable for the oven and gas, electric and induction hobs. It promises to be dishwasher ...

Dryrobe Change Robe 08/02/2017

Warm and Dryrobe

Dryrobe Change Robe I love my Dryrobe, its one of those things that I thought long and hard about buying as the price is frankly ridiculous, but it is simply the best thing any outdoor swimmer can own. What is it? Essentially Dryrobe is a changing robe for the beach, but it is so much more than that. As a changing robe there is loads of space inside, even for the slightly more rotund figure like me. You can easily completely change out of swimsuit or wetsuit underneath it. The outside is completely waterproof with a hood, so for the idiot swimmers who have no regard for bad weather you can get your core warm and dry underneath it. The inner lining is a gorgeous fluffy grey material that is apparently synthetic lambswool, so it helps you to dry quicker. I do still use a towel but apparently it should draw the moisture away from your body. It also never then feels wet afterwards. The Dryrobe is mostly made of a single piece of fabric so there are very few seams in it, which makes it more comfortable. The zip is also very chunky and not at all fiddly which is imperative when you have freezing cold fingers. On the inner lining there is a zipped pocket for phone and valuables and there are 2 fleece lined pockets on the outside. Colour When I first got mine there was only one colour available, Black with red and white branding on it. They have added to this a bit in that you can now have pink or green branding and I think I’ve seen some navy ones about, but I still think the Black is ...

Sandford Parks Lido, Cheltenham 06/02/2017

Swimming through a British Summer

Sandford Parks Lido, Cheltenham There is no better place for me to clear my head than a body of water that I can swim in, be it the sea, a lake, a river, a lido or as a last resort an indoor pool. Unfortunately the English weather being what it is my last resort is more often than not my first resort but in the summer one of my favourite places to swim is Sandford Park Lido in Cheltenham. The lido was built, after a split vote from the council who were worried about the expense, in the mid 1930’s and enjoyed massive popularity like many other lido’s around the country until the 70’s when the world changed and people had the options of cheap holidays abroad and there were more indoor pools available. In the early 80’s its financial viability was questioned and again like many other Lido’s it faced closure but the regular users got together and started the fight to save it. But it wasn’t until 2006 when Lottery Funds were made available to completely refurbish and update the pool that it they were able to turn it into what it is today. The Site. When you look at the parkland site that the Lido has, it must have really taken a great deal of commitment and courage from the Friends of the Lido during the 80’s and 90’s to keep it going as the site is huge and would have netted a massive price tag had it been sold for development, particularly in Cheltenham which is definitely not known for its cheap property. It is in a large expanse of park land without the usual concrete sunbathing steps that you often ... 03/02/2017

Beauty Pie, not a mud pie to be seen A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon Beauty Pie after it was featured on Radio 4’s women’s hour. It is hyped as a brand new concept in the beauty industry that will change the way we buy make up. As a general rule I don’t review anything until I have owned it and regularly used it for a while but as this is a completely new company and I couldn’t find any independent reviews online before using it myself, I felt my first impressions of the company would be a valid help to potential consumers. Now I’m not the kind of girl that wears make up very regularly at all but when I do I have always tended to buy premium brands, simply because I have found they last longer so don’t go all gloopy if I haven’t used them for a while so a fairly expensive foundation will last me years. That is until 2 teenagers arrived by stealth into my house, I’m sure they were only toddlers a couple of years ago I am now the proud owner of an 18 and 20 year old and my makeup stash mysteriously ‘evaporates’. The idea behind Beauty Pie is pretty simple, most of the high end make up brands all use more or less the same ingredients and the mark up on them is in region of 1200% they do however put a lot of effort into making the product ‘feel’ luxury with the packaging etc, for example a Dior eyeshadow set comes in a really pretty velvet pouch. So Beauty Pie have developed a range of makeup products and will sell them to you at cost price, and they will be open and honest about their costings. The only ...

Garmin Vivoactive HR 02/02/2017

Monitoring my lack of fitness.

Garmin Vivoactive HR Considering it is essentially what they do, Garmin were pretty late to the party when it comes to the fitness tracker market. They have done GPS running, cycling and swimming watches for years but for some reason they have only recently started offering an integrated step counter and heart rate monitor. Originally I tried the Garmin Vivosmart, the active’s little brother, but I found it very uncomfortable to wear as the heart rate monitor dug into my wrist so when it stopped working after a couple of weeks (no idea why) I upgraded it to the Vivoactive HR model. My main reasons for choosing the Vivoactive was I wanted a GPS option as when I do go out for a run (a very ambitious word for what I do) I want to be able to track my routes and see the speed variations. I also wanted the waterproof swim option. What is it? The Vivoactive is a multisport watch that monitors your heart rate, counts the number of steps, counts the number of flights of stairs and allows you to monitor many different sports via GPS tracking. It also double as a watch showing time and date. You can scroll through the various different things it can do as follows: Watch face This can be changed to different formats but to be honest they’re all pretty ugly and whilst I do wear it regularly the watch is not nice to look at, it gives an accurate time but I much prefer my regular day watch. At the bottom of the watch face page there is an activity bar that buzzes at you if you haven’t moved for an hour, ...

Green People Daily Aloe Shampoo 02/02/2017

Not quite daily shampoo

Green People Daily Aloe Shampoo A couple of years ago I was suffering badly from allergies around my hairline, scalp and particularly and most irritatingly my ears, I tried several different shampoos and none of them made any difference although some were noticeably worse. After suffering for some considerable time I decided to ask my doctor, the NHS wouldn’t offer allergy testing which I wouldn’t have expected them to, but I wasn’t offered the option of paying for it privately either they just dismissed it saying to use hydrocortisone cream to ease the symptoms. A GP friend of mine suggested that the most likely culprit was SLS - Sodium Laurelth Sulphate. SLS is the cheap filler that will be one of the first ingredients listed on your shampoo, it is a known irritant but generally as it washes out it doesn’t cause any problems. SLS is also used in many harsh household cleaning products. It is the main ingredient that causes a product to lather. Green People Green People came about when a mother set up a company because her daughter suffered the same sort of issues that I have. To be labelled as ‘natural’ a product needed barely any natural ingredients in it and could still be made up predominantly of synthetic products. Trying to find shampoos in the local supermarket that don’t contain SLS is impossible, so the Green People company was born. The company is still a family business that have now won many awards for the quality of their products and they have declined to be stocked if the stores don’t ...

Hidden Canyon Kayak, Page 02/02/2017

Paradise in the USA

Hidden Canyon Kayak, Page Lake Powell is one of the most stunning places I have been fortunate to visit. Everyone is familiar with pictures of it as it has been used for many film sets over the years, the red strata rock rising out of crystal clear blue waters. The Lake was created in the 1960’s by damming the Colorado river at the base of the Glen Canyon. It was an environmentally controversial decision as the beauty of the Canyon is lost completely. One of the highlights of the trip is to Kayak through the flooded slot canyons that still remain but it is only a snapshot of the vastness that would have been prior to the flooding. There are some very interesting old National Geographic films on the canyon before it was flooded made by environmentalists protesting against it that are well worth a watch. The reservoir which is 185 miles long and 25 miles wide, is now a playground for water sports and pleasure boats. Hidden Canyon Kayaks The company offer Kayaking trips around the lake varying in length from half a day to multi-day trips. They have a main motor boat that carries the kayaks on the roof so they can cover more distance than would be possible by paddle power alone. We chose to do the overnight trip the current cost of which is $500 (approx £400) This includes use of Tents (if necessary) camp beds, sleeping bags, 2 lunches, a dinner and a breakfast and plenty of snacks. Of course it also includes our guides for the 2 days, kayaks and safety jackets. The trip starts at Antelope Point ...

Amazon Echo Dot 02/02/2017

Alexa, I'm sorry I don't know the answer to that question…..

Amazon Echo Dot This is the phrase I seem to get the most often from ‘Alexa’ the newest edition to our family, the Amazon Echo Dot. Shortly before Christmas I was looking at ‘Alexa’ in one of our local shops and I came to the old fogey conclusion that ‘if I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t need one’ then thanks to my lovely sister in law Alexa the Echo Dot came to live with us as a Christmas present. What is it? To be honest she's an odd little thing that takes laziness to a whole new level. The manufacturers description is: Amazon Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms and more What this means is, if you have her set up properly simply with the command ‘Alexa turn the lights on’ Alexa should indeed turn the lights on, however before she can do that you need to make sure the lights have blue tooth capability. She can also link into the television and change channels etc. How does it work? Once she is plugged in and set up with the Alexa app and linked into Amazon accounts etc, which is fairly intuitive even to a technological idiot like me, you simply say ‘Alexa’ and she lights up with very pretty blue/green lights then you ask your question ‘what is the weather today’ and she links into the local weather. Alexa, play radio 4 she will start the radio or Alexa play ’80’s music and she will. If you have Amazon prime you can also ask her to play any of the music ...

Liszt: Piano Works [Box Set] 02/02/2017

Brahms hated Liszt!

Liszt: Piano Works [Box Set] It is very rare in music for a completely new sound and direction to emerge and when it does it often causes conflict and derision from the established stars and conventions of the day. The Beatles being the most obvious example with the totally new sound embraced by the young of the day and hated by the older generation. Franz Liszt Franz Liszt was such a man, born in 1811 by the age of 8 he is performing piano pieces that it took me 20 years to even consider tackling and he always showed an amazing aptitude for improvisation. He completely changed the classical form that had been used up until this point getting rid of the pause in between movements and creating pieces that flowed seamlessly into one another, he so upset the established musicians and composers of the time that Brahms was inspired to publish a manifesto against him. Jorge Bolet Jorge Bolet (pronounced with the T) was a Cuban pianist who didn’t really achieve international acclaim until his later years. He died in 1990 at the age of 75 and his late recordings of Liszt really helped to keep his reputation alive following his death. Liszt’s music is very popular amongst young soloists; it is very flashy, great to show off musical technique. Liszt was the first performer to really create the solo piano performance, having the piano on the stage as a centre piece and turned round so the audience could see the performer. This means that although every individual performance is of course different, you tend ...

Eat to Beat Arthritis: Over 60 Recipes and a Self-treatment Plan to Transform Your Life - Marguerite O.B.E. Patten 06/06/2011

Can Arthritis be beaten?

Eat to Beat Arthritis: Over 60 Recipes and a Self-treatment Plan to Transform Your Life - Marguerite O.B.E. Patten Arthritis has been a problem in my family on both sides, one of my earliest memories is of my Grampy, whose hands were so deformed by it, he was scraping a new potato for his lunch using his finger nails because there was no way he could hold a knife. The thing I remember most about that incident though is him laughing while he was doing it, overjoyed at his ingenuity but I don’t think he realised that I saw him afterwards soaking it to try and get it clean and to ease the pain. I would also point out that the age of 4 at the time I was too young to offer to do it for him. So with a family background like this arthritis is something that I have always been aware of and occasionally do suffer from, although so far I have been lucky and have only suffered occasionally. When I first started to notice it, I bought this book ‘Eat to Beat Arthritis’ as I always prefer to try and control things through diet before resorting to doctors and pills. Warning Please note that I am certainly not recommending this book as an alternative to proper medical advice from a qualified professional and I myself have only suffered mild arthritis and it has worked for me but I can-not comment first hand on more severe arthritis. The Authors Marguerite Patten, is a food writer, who has suffered severe arthritis which she controlled through diet. She is a member of the forum on Food and Health at the Royal Society of Medicine. Jeannette Ewin is a biochemist and nutritionist; she ...

Lush Squeaky Green Shampoo Bar 05/06/2011

Diary of a Shampoo Bar

Lush Squeaky Green Shampoo Bar Hi, my name is Squeaky Green and I start my diary being lovingly placed in a beautiful basket with lots of my brothers and sisters in a lovely Lush store in Stratford and two long haired teenagers come running in, shortly followed by their short haired Mum. Day 1 The youngest girl turns to her Mum and the conversation goes something like this ‘but we never come into Lush Mum, you hate the smell of it’ ‘I know, but I’ve read hundreds of review on their products and thought we’d give it a go’ My heart sank, this was clearly a woman who didn’t love our products, had never even been into a Lush store before in her life. She doesn’t know that all our products are natural, many are suitable for vegans and have not been tested on animals. She has never experienced the delight of sinking into a Lush bubble bath and thinks it is an unashamed luxury and unnecessary expense for a single bath. It was nearly closing time and I was destined to spend another night not being used for my proper purpose. Then something strange happens, the Mum comes over, and picks me up and smells me. I knew I was on to a losing battle, all of my cousins in the neighbouring baskets smell so much sweeter than me, and I’m just made of nettles, rosemary and mint. I mean who is going to choose something that smells of stinging nettles over all of the flashy Mango and other exotic things nearby. Then, insult to injury, she asks the shop lady ‘so what do you do with these then?’ So the poor lady had ...
See more reviews Back to top