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If my reviews entertain, amuse or brighten your moment in any way, then my task is done! ++ Now so far behind that I will only be catching up on your reviews, if you have read mine. ++

Reviews written

since 20/06/2004


Baranow Sandomierski Castle, Baranow Sandomierski 21/05/2015


Baranow Sandomierski Castle, Baranow Sandomierski WHERE IN THE WORLD? Baranow Sandomierski is located in the south east of Poland on route 985 (an English equivalent “A” road), 26 kilometres north of Mielec, which itself is approximately 120km east of Krakow. By road Baranow is roughly a two hour drive from Krakow, most of which is covered on the new E40 motorway. From Warsaw the journey is far more arduous as you will be driving around 230km on mostly country roads, estimated journey time in that case would be five and a half hours – putting it well beyond the realms of a day trip from Warsaw. For the more adventurous traveller, public transport is slow and rather unpredictable in Poland, you would need to get to Tarnobrzeg (the nearest main town) by train and take a taxi the 9km south from there. Frankly a car, either your own, or hired, is the more practical solution – especially as any visit to Baranow should also find you exploring nearby Sandomierz (half an hour north by road), as well as Lancut Palace which is about an hour and a quarter drive to the south of here. Both of these highly recommended attractions I have previously reviewed, in seeing these three sites – plus the Blizna rocket site on the way – you will have seen the best that this region of Poland has to offer. Having now been travelling to Mielec for the last fourteen years, I know this region very well indeed – my wife was born here – Baranow is an annual visit, making it as familiar to me as many of our own local parks in Brighton. The reason that ...

Kärcher WV 50 Window Cleaning Vacuum 21/04/2015


Kärcher WV 50 Window Cleaning Vacuum THE PROBLEM(S) Since converting our two bedroom bungalow into a four bedroom house three years ago, we now live in a rather glassy house. With two conservatories, ok, one is a lean-to and used as a utility room, and two sets of French doors, we have rather more glass to keep clean than most. Due to the roof having been converted, our upstairs windows are also rather difficult to access from outside for cleaning purposes. We also now have two modern bathrooms, one with a curved glass (quadrant) shower cubicle, the other, a wet-room with a conventional, plain glass shower screen, both are fully tiled. Three of our new front windows are of the Velux type, mounted on sloping roof surfaces, they can only be cleaned from inside. The bathroom one is over the bath, so no issues there with a bucket and sponge, however, the other two are above pale blue grey carpet and an especially prized antique wooden cabinet, no margin for error as far as spills are concerned then. Downstairs, all of our front facing windows – and the opening fanlights on the side and rear ones too – are leaded lights, an absolute pain to clean properly as water always ends up trapped in the sharp corners. Many years ago I wrote a review on the dreaded Cillit Bang bathroom cleaning liquid, which was marketed as the end to our hardwater bathroom cleaning woes. The fact that it simply did not work and left pink residue in the grout between the tiles meant that I spent the following years scrubbing everything ...

Subaru Forester 2.0D XC Premium Lineartronic 11/04/2015


My 200th Review 09/04/2015


My 200th Review Thanks be to fellow Ciao member Simon - sirodar - for inspiring me to revisit this my 200th review - we share the Renault 5 as a first car - albeit in consecutive decades! 200 REVIEWS UP, AM I REALLY RICHADA THE CAR MAN? Talking to real-life fellow members several years ago at Ciao Meet in London, it became apparent to me that my reputation here is that of a member who “writes about cars”. Oddly enough, I have never really seen myself solely as a “car writer” and, always being very much aware that cars and car enthusiasts probably bore rigid at least 75% of the population, have from my earliest days on the site attempted to write on as many and varied subjects as I can. Looking at my review portfolio, of the ten reviews published prior to this one, three were cars, and of the previous 199 reviews, only 46, or 23% are actual car reviews. In short, I have done all that I can to make my review portfolio as varied as possible, but, ultimately, I guess cars are what I know best, and if my knowledge and experience in this area can be put to the greater good, then there are worse reputations that I could have than being a Ciao member who writes car reviews. After all, a car is the second most expensive purchase that you are likely to make in life, buying the wrong scented candle is hardly going to break the bank, saddling yourself with the wrong car could very easily do so. My 200th review however is NOT a car review. It is a series of personal reminiscences over the last 48 ...

Fiat 500 1.2 01/04/2015


Fiat 500 1.2 WHAT IS IT? The Fiat 500 is the Italian makers’ ever-popular retro-design city car. Based on the previous model five-door, utilitarian Fiat Panda, this incarnation of the 500 is currently in its final year of production. Sadly, from a conversation with our local Fiat dealer, its replacement will be a slightly larger car – presumably gaining weight too. Unlike the current model Panda, which is built in Naples, the Fiat 500 and the Ford Ka – essentially the same car under its far less cute body - is built alongside the 500 in the Fiat factory in Poland and also by Chrysler (a Fiat owned company) in Mexico. The simple answer to the ‘what is it question’ is that the current 500 is a small three door, four seater hatchback, the styling of which was inspired by the classic 1957 Dante Giacosa designed 500 Nuova. This is now the third, different, version of the Fiat 500 that I have reviewed, for reasons that will become obvious; it is also the version with which I am now the most familiar. WILL IT FIT YOUR GARAGE? Our garage feels so much bigger with the 500 parked in it, more customarily used to housing my five seater saloon car, at only 3546mm long and 1627mm wide, you would need to have a very small garage for it not to fit a 500 in. In my Fiat 500 Twin Air review I was musing about just how many times I have approached a parking space in my 4.7 metre long family saloon only to say ‘damn, if only we had a Fiat 500’ – small cars can be invaluable in a city like ours – well, ...

Do You Support BBC's Decision To Suspend Jeremy Clarkson? 19/03/2015


Do You Support BBC's Decision To Suspend Jeremy Clarkson? I PROMISED MYSELF THAT I WOULD NOT DO THIS! RICHADA does not do 1000 word reviews, POTW, Current Debate, or indeed any other form of competition – the temptation was to let the competition date expire, and then publish a typical 2500 word RICHADA rant on the shambles that are the BBC and their top “star” - Jeremy Clarkson. However, in the midst of this, and, being a man known, on occasion, to write about cars, here I am. HOW WORTHY A NEWS STORY IS THIS ANYWAY? In my opinion it isn’t! Popular as Top Gear is, as a television series and franchise even, however popular the “stars” of it may have become, it is only a television series and, ultimately, a minority interest one at that. There are FAR more important things happening in the world and yet, as usual, the media has managed to hype up a huge firestorm around itself. A MEGOLITHIC CORPORATION AND A SELF-CONFESSED DINOSAUR LOCK HORNS..... I have disliked Jeremy Clarkson since long before it was popular to love or loath him, long before indeed the word “Marmite” was ever applied to personalities. Increasingly I find myself disliking the BBC as an entity, over recent years even starting to begrudge paying the licence fee. Has Clarkson in any way been influential in my forming this view? Yes, as has been Jonathon Ross – and please do not misconstrue this - Jimmy Saville. Simply as employees of the BBC, all three have proven bulletproof until way, way beyond any ordinary business would have been forced to curtail ...

Donatello, Brighton 07/03/2015


Donatello, Brighton What follows is a completely updated version of my original review, published on my 43rd Birthday in September 2005. Whilst the format may be different, after all these years, the content remains surprisingly current, but then again, why, in a restaurants case, destroy a well tried and tested formula? We and very many other regulars simply love Donatello! This very well known, family owned, staffed and run, Italian restaurant really requires no plug from me in order to drum up trade. Originally from Sardinia, Pietro Addis, who already had Pinocchio Restaurant in New Road, close to the Theatre Royal, opened Donatello in 1991. The Addis family now run three Italian restaurants, Donatello, Pinocchio and Fat Leo, plus a Thai restaurant in Brighton Square. Having not visited Fat Leo - the prices are the same, the menu almost identical, the ambiance rather more contemporary, this review is specifically about Donatello Ristorante, although there is a great deal of commonality with Pinocchio as the menu there is identical. Pietro Addis was a Brighton pioneer of two, now common, restaurant features; fixed price menus and, hard to believe now in 2015, but in 1991, eating and drinking ‘on the pavement’ here was still prohibited by local by-laws! Over the years from a small, one room start, Donatello has grown to incorporate every small shop within this historic "island site" at the very heart of the city. Here in a sense lies part of the charm of the place, regular diners, like ...

The Tea Cosy, Brighton 24/02/2015


The Tea Cosy, Brighton WHERE IN THE WORLD? Unusually for a RICHADA review of this type, here we are in Kemptown, right in the heart of our own home town – Brighton! Full of eclectic shops; antiques, boutiques, pubs and masses of eateries of every kind, The Tea Cosy fits in very well with the Kemptown “vibe”. LOCATION & ACCESSIBILITY: 12 / 15 The Tea Cosy is actually located in George Street, just off of St James Street, in one of the very trendiest parts of the City of Brighton and Hove. This is an older, central, district; five minutes walk from Brighton Pier and the beach, or the Royal Pavilion, fifteen minutes from the railway station or main shopping centre and yet Kemptown very much has an urban village feel all of its own. George Street is a one way street, heading south, connecting Edward Street with St James Street and is entered, by car, from Edward Street. If travelling by public transport, plenty of buses stop in both Edward and St James Streets, the Old Steine, where just about every bus in the city stops, is also less than a five minute walk from George Street. There is pay and display parking in George street, and the other local side streets – by Brighton standards a very modest £2 for two hours (a five minute walk away from here it is more than double that), but you will need to be lucky, as we were on Valentine’s Day afternoon to find a space there, having a small car helped in our case on this occasion! There are also a couple of disabled parking spaces almost outside The ...

Samsung UE55HU8500 13/02/2015


Samsung UE55HU8500 In November, 2014, when we purchased our new, to give it its full title: Samsung 55" HU8500 Curved Smart 3D UHD 4K LED TV, I was in two minds about reviewing it, being ever so slightly concerned about how we would be perceived as being prepared to spend £2550 on a mere television. The fact that we did not actually spend that amount of money on this set – thanks to a highly generous doubling of my sizeable Barclaycard loyalty points collection - is probably somewhat immaterial to this review. However as time passed, reviewing this particular television became an increasingly important assignment. We benefitted substantially from an offer that Currys were running at the time; stump up £2550 for the top of the range Samsung TV, they supply you with the superb curved Samsung Wireless UHD TV 8.1Ch Soundbar and sub-woofer for free. As this retailed at the time for £560, by deduction, the actual cost of this television is a slightly more reasonable £2000. If, having read this review, you are still seriously interested in purchasing; my current advice would be not to pay a penny over that last figure for one. In all likelihood in another six months time, if still on the market, this set will have dropped a further £500 in price. At the time we bought this one, there were a couple of “reconditioned” sets being sold at between £1400 and £1800 on eBay, if only we had known then what we do now. WHAT IS A SAMSUNG 55" HU8500 CURVED SMART 3D UHD 4K LED TV? The clues are in the ...

Halifax Hall, Sheffield 23/01/2015


Halifax Hall, Sheffield WHY DID WE BOOK HALIFAX HALL IN SHEFFIELD? A rather convoluted, pleasure followed by business, 1200 mile round journey, just prior to Christmas, found us in need of a bed for the night midway between Hull and Uttoxeter. Looking at the map provided us with a bewildering array of options, doing this on, which overlays available hotels for your chosen date, narrowed the choice not one jot. As the business was paying for this particular overnight stay – and dinner – I decided on a simple price / rating formula, one hotel stood hand and shoulders above all others on this score on – Halifax Hall in Sheffield. HOTEL DESCRIPTION / OUR PERCEPTION FROM HOTEL PUBLICITY In all honesty, it looked too good to be true! The photographs (all important for me when assessing a potential hotel) were entirely encouraging, the hotel description was brief and to the point, the customer reviews however set the screen aglow in front of me. Sometimes the majority can be proved wrong, but what the heck, at £50 for the night for the two of us, Bed and Breakfast; it was a risk worth taking surely? BOOKING PROCESS 8 / 10 In this particular instance I booked directly, and paid up-front, online with the hotel. Whilst not quite as simple as my usual experience, there were reasons for this – detailed directions were issued as well as a car parking permit, both for reasons obvious upon arriving – Halifax Hall is rather unusually situated you see…… LOCATION 7 / ...

Woodcote House Hotel, Hooton 26/11/2014


Woodcote House Hotel, Hooton WHY DID WE BOOK WOODCOTE HOUSE HOTEL IN HOOTON, WIRRAL? For many years now, towards the end of the year, business has dictated that we make an overnight stop in the Chester area. For several years we used the Cheshire Cat – a very pleasant Innkeepers Lodge, located in Christleton, to the east of Chester. In truth we liked the Cheshire Cat very much, what we did not like was the location in regards to the traffic, getting in and out of Christleton having become increasingly difficult over the years….. ……time for a change of scenery then, and, by the magic of internet hotel searches, for a similar cost, I found us the Woodcote House Hotel, located in Hooton, literally just down the road from my last customer call of the day. The reviews ( were very encouraging and, on the map at least, the location looked ideal – after all it was only an overnight stay, not really much to risk was it? HOTEL DESCRIPTION / OUR PERCEPTION FROM HOTEL PUBLICITY The reviews on sites such as Trivago, and laterooms were unusually consistent in their praise and in this case and I felt that we were risking little in booking Woodcote House. Photographs on line showed modern bedrooms and bathrooms, whilst the facilities offered exactly what we needed – nothing more, nothing less. Rich and Ada are currently in pursuit of the best cream tea in the country – it was (oddly!) Woodcote’s internet photograph of their £10.50 cream tea that sealed the deal on an overnight stay here, an ...

Bettys & Taylors 14/10/2014


Bettys & Taylors WHERE IN THE WORLD? Bettys Café and Tearooms are something of a legend – known well outside of their Yorkshire locations of Harrogate, York, Ilkley and Northallerton, they were founded in 1919, in Harrogate, by Frederick Belmont, a Swiss baker and confectioner who had come to England in order to expand his skills and further his career. In setting up his business in the fashionable Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate, Mr Belmont rapidly found success, then, as now, there was, given a suitable location, much demand for a really good quality tea shop and catering business. The only real mystery about this English institution is how it came by the name Bettys in the first place. Still run by third generation descendants of the founder, Bettys has expanded and evolved to encompass Taylors of Harrogate (the Tea and coffee merchants), a cookery school and thriving mail order business – no more lengthy trips to Yorkshire for a Bettys afternoon tea then! That however deviates somewhat from this review, which is specifically concerned with the experience of taking tea at Bettys Tearooms in Parliament Street, Harrogate. For those of you not over familiar with North Yorkshire – a very large county – Harrogate is to be found about fifteen miles due north of Leeds, approximately the same distance to the west of York. LOCATION & ACCESSIBILITY: 13 / 15 Due to its fairly steeply sloping nature, I cannot imagine Harrogate being the most popular destination for the disabled, having said ...

Gap Solutions 07/10/2014


Stanmer House, Brighton 29/09/2014


Stanmer House, Brighton WHERE IN THE WORLD? Here in Brighton, before joining Hove and becoming a city in the year 2000, it used to be said that you could eat out at a different venue every night of the year. We know that there are now over 400 restaurants in the city, I am not going to claim that we have tried more than a tiny handful, we are, after all, choosy where we spend our hard earned cash on eating out and usually manage to avoid the bad and the indifferent……sometimes though, when a third party has their mid set on somewhere and is insisting on paying the bill, one ends up, possibly against one’s better judgement, somewhere that you would not choose to foot the bill yourself. We are still within the borough boundary, but not as you would recognise it. Stanmer House is located in the idyllic village of Stanmer, surrounded in its’ own park. Beyond the park is the Sussex University Campus and, on the opposite side of the A27, the marvellous, new, AMEX Stadium. The old, Grade 1 listed manor house at Stanmer, dating originally from 1722, had fallen into disuse, and after a decade of decay was not only a sorry site, but a great lost opportunity of an asset to this vibrant city. As a lifelong Brightonion and lover of Stanmer Park, I was delighted to see this lovely house put back into use in a capacity that meant the public could enjoy it. For that we have to thank a local entrepreneur who, in 2004 invested in it. Stanmer House is now part of the Whiting & Hammond pub chain who run it as a pub ...

Bad Bridesmaid 22/09/2014


Bad Bridesmaid I rarely review television programmes, mostly because I have a fairly low opinion of the quality of the majority of broadcast output and actually watch very little TV. You therefore know that if I am moved to review a programme I have been grabbed by it, no matter, in this case, how obscure that programme may turn out to be. The very fact that I am about to review “Bad Bridesmaid” may well tell you more about my sense of humour than the quality of this particular TV show. The fact that I watched the last twenty minutes of repeated episode 1 last Sunday evening, totally by accident, may also tell you how interested I was in this programme, having seen it trailered previously on the ITV channels…….so hold on, you may be in for a bumpy ride, certainly the brides and their best friends are in this series! WHEN & WHERE CAN I SEE THIS? Bad Bridesmaid is broadcast on Thursday evenings at 9.00pm on ITV2 (Freeview 6, Freesat 113, Sky 118, Virgin 115) and repeated at 10.00pm the following Sunday evening. This is not really the programme to watch with your gran after Sunday service, being quite deliberately broadcast after the watershed - don’t want to give the little ones ideas or nightmares. It has not been edited for language, which does tend to become increasingly blue as events unfold. The first episode was broadcast on Thursday 11th September, this being the one that hooked me on this series. SUNDAY NIGHT IN THE RICHADA HOUSEHOLD.…. …..Mrs R is downstairs preparing for ...
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