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If my reviews entertain, amuse or brighten your moment in any way, then my task is done! ++ Attendance may be spasmodic - RICHADA are away. ++

Reviews written

since 20/06/2004


Saab 9-3 Convertible TiD 22/06/2016


Saab 9-3 Convertible TiD WHAT IS IT? This is the latest in a long line of very popular convertible mid-size Saab models. At one time, in the early 1990's, the 900 Convertible, the car that the 9-3's replaced, was the biggest selling convertible on the market. To be honest, it had far less competition in the four seater open top car market then, however, the 9-3 Convertible is still a big success and is currently the third most purchased convertible on the market. Saab continues to shun the latest fashion in providing a folding metal roof for their Convertible. As with all of its forebears, the 9-3 has a very large three layer fabric, or as Saab describes it, "soft top". As this review will, I hope, demonstrate, there are advantages and disadvantages to this. This is no sports car, indeed it is a (very well) converted Saab 9-3 saloon which, in turn, was based on the Vauxhall Vectra chassis. Saab have never marketed this open top four seater as a sporting model, always promoting it on its' image, all weather comfort and refinement. In some circles it may be viewed as a "footballers' wives" car. At 4635mm in length, it will take up an identical amount of space in your garage to the 9-3 saloon, although the convertible roof compromises both interior and boot space. This is a two door, strict, four seater - well maybe more realistically a two plus two. WHICH SPECIFIC MODEL? The 9-3 Convertible that I am reviewing here is the £25,450 1.9 TiD Linear. To those of you unfamiliar with the fairly complex ...

Pirelli P-Zero Rosso 18/06/2016


Pirelli P-Zero Rosso REVIEWING CAR TYRES, AN ART OR A SCIENCE? As with previous cars and swapping tyres, it becomes apparent that in order to judge and review a certain tyre, you have try the same car on different tyres, it is impossible to review one without a valid comparison to another. I recently published a review on the Michelin Latitude Sport 3 tyres, replacements for the front pair of Pirelli P Zero Rosso tyres that my, slightly, second hand Volvo XC60 arrived with, factory shod. That review may rather have given the game away on this one, the two brands and models of tyre being almost identical in price, however I thought it desirable to review these particular Pirelli tyres, using the same comparative scoring system. For the very astute amongst you I would mention here that Ciao actually turned down a proposal for my specific Pirelli P Zero Rosso tyre, which is an SUV rated one. However having examined my tyres and the standard P Zero Rosso’s I have come to the conclusion that, due to an identical tread pattern, wear rate and Euro rates (wet grip, drive by noise etc) these tyres are very much the same apart from the reinforced sidewalls making the SUV version more suitable for gentle off-road use. We are however talking bumpy farm tracks here rather than serious mud plugging for which neither my chosen Michelin, or these original equipment (OE) Pirelli, tyres are suitable. CAR TYRES: THE WRITING’S ON THE (SIDE)WALL The following review is for the specific tyre size 235/60R18 103V. ...

Samsonite Fotonox Messenger 200 Bag 11/06/2016


Samsonite Fotonox Messenger 200 Bag SAMSONITE, NOT JUST STRONG LUGGAGE Are you surprised to read that Samsonite actually manufactures camera bags? I was. Let us start at the beginning and why I wanted a new bag to carry my camera and associated bits and pieces and then, hopefully, answer the question as to whether this well known maker of quality luggage has managed to trump the several well-known camera bag manufacturers such as Lowepro, Hama (my favourite bag to date) and Case Logic. RICHADA AND HIS BAGS I now have three camera bags, why? Well, I actually have three cameras, one of which is never used, another (the Nikon D90) very seldom used and then, I have one in constant use, my Nikon D610. However, in common with many of the ladies reading this, who swap and change hand bags to suit their mood or the occasion, I do exactly the same with my camera bags, dependent upon which accessories I am taking where with me – sorry, to clarify, that is CAMERA accessories, not the ones I happen to be wearing..... ......Coordinating my bags to my outfits is a no-brainer, all of my camera bags are dark grey, verging on black, please do not ask me why, it just happened that way. So, you see, I do not regard my bags as a fashion accessory, for me they require an extraordinarily high degree of utility, let me explain...... I try not to dwell on this fact, but, whilst I have not paid retail price for my current camera, or its two lenses, it is a sobering fact that I am walking around with, at replacement value, ...

National Railway Museum, York 08/06/2016


National Railway Museum, York PREAMBLE Most people we know appear to have at least heard of the National Railway Museum in York, indeed, it was so long ago when I made my first visit there (1998) that I have actually forgotten just where I heard about it from but, over the years, I have visited at least four further times, most recently last year on a day trip to York – we were having a short break holiday in Bradford at the time. This is a slightly unusual review on my part as I tend to write on subjects that I am passionate about; liking or loathing them, however I am ambivalent towards trains in spite of counting several train spotters amongst my friends – none of whom have ever accompanied me to this museum. It is not therefore an expert’s guide to a train museum by any measure. Whilst using my standard museum scoring system, this will inevitably have a slightly different “non-enthusiast” flavour to it, which may indeed turn out to be more friendly to the consumer at large, rather than the rail / train enthusiast who will learn nothing from this review, being all too familiar with this particular attraction. This review only covers the main York site and not its satellite museum in Shildon, Durham. For simplicities sake I am abbreviating The National Railway Museum to N.R.M. for the rest of this review. THE BUILDING(S) AND GROUNDS – FIRST IMPRESSIONS 7 / 10 There is a car park opposite the museum, which is expensive and probably not easy to get into at busy times, free disabled spaces are ...

Michelin Latitude Sport 3 04/06/2016


Michelin Latitude Sport 3 CAR TYRES Here we go again, introducing you to a new review format with scored sub-sections, a clue that this may well be the first in a series. Not the most interesting, or glamorous, of subjects I grant you; after all, they are all round, made of black rubber and mounted on a wheel which is attached to each corner of your car by the suspension. What can there possibly be found to be said about a humble car tyre? Well, quite a lot as it happens and, with the average car tyre costing somewhere between £60 and £130 dependant on size, type and car, not only is choosing the correct tyre in the first place important, but so too is shopping around for it. I ended up paying £113 each for these tyres on line at, then had them fitted two days later at our Kwik-Fit depot having already booked the appointment on line. My first quote on them, from the Volvo dealer, was for £208 – a fitting that would have required a fifty mile round journey, so we can safely say that my final choice saved my Company 50% on the cost of these tyres. Searching the internet can save you a fortune on running a car. Every motorist needs to remember that the tyre is the only contact that your vehicle actually has with the road, obvious, but often overlooked that the tyres are therefore THE most vital safety component on your whole car. Not a component to be compromised on then. How though to choose the ideal tyre in the first place? You could always simply replace like for like – the ... 03/06/2016

VALUE BASKET? AM I NOW THE BASKET CASE? IS RICHADA TURNING INTO A BASKET CASE? Some four months ago I very successfully purchased online a new Nikon camera – my dream camera – from an online seller,, who, by sheer fluke, just happen to have a UK office right here in my home town of Brighton. Indeed so impressed was I with not only their pricing, but also their outstandingly good service, that I wrote a very positive review of them here on this very site. That review did however caution readers as to purchasing big ticket items in this way; I did so from in the full knowledge that my purchase was a “grey import” from Hong Kong. Their website had pulled no punches about that, but their service, from order to delivery was precisely as promised on their website and proved to be trackable, via UPS, at every step of the journey. Spurred on by the total success of this transaction, which saved me in the region of £800.00 on the camera and lens combined, I naturally made them my first port of call when searching for a second lens for the camera, in this case a rather unusual and specialised 12 – 24mm ultra wide angle Sigma one. Panamoz were asking £500.00 for this lens, which from a UK retail shop would be £600.00, Amazon incidentally were offering it at £506.00 at the time, on this occasion I saw no advantage in buying from Incidentally, three weeks later Amazon are now advertising this same lens for £569.97 against a claimed RRP (recommended retail price) of £799.99, a price ... 02/06/2016

PANAMOZ. NO SPAMMING PLEASE This review will prove to be highly controversial in certain specialist interest quarters from whom I am fully prepared for a flaming. However, as with any review that I publish, it honestly represents my own personal experiences with the product or service concerned, in this case I would also state here that, as with ALL of my reviews, I have in no way whatsoever been incentivised to write and publish it. As with ANY purchase whatsoever, online or in a shop, one must always use one’s own judgement as to the potential risks involved in making that purchase and this, or any other review, should only be used to aid an informed consumer in their task of weighing up that risk. WHO ARE PANAMOZ.COM? They are a Hong Kong based internet retailer of top end, i.e. premium brand; cameras, lenses, camera accessories, binoculars, mobile phones and tablets. According to their website, bulk buying direct from the manufacturers and stocking in their own warehouses for distribution direct to customers, globally, offers them great economies of scale and vastly reduced operating costs. Put bluntly, is an importer of expensive “grey” photographic and electronic equipment. IF IT LOOKS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE....... Check it out! Check, check and check again! How many “spam” reviews have you read? The truth is, apparently, you have no way of telling as, reportedly, there are offices full of professional spammers in the east and far east typing away right now, ...

The Meeting Place, Brighton 28/05/2016


The Meeting Place, Brighton WHERE IN THE WORLD? This time we are right here on the English south coast, in our home city of Brighton & Hove, a short, 55 minute train ride from Victoria Station in London. You are joining me, quite literally, at the sea-side for this one, any further south, without taking a walk on Brighton Pier, and you would be in the English Channel. WHY DID WE CHOOSE THE MEETING HOUSE CAFE IN BRIGHTON? At the top of Dyke Road Drive where it meets the A27 in Westdene is located the Hilltop Cafe, this is a lovely twenty minute walk from where we live, across green fields, and we have recently fallen into the habit of walking up there for breakfast on Sunday mornings. Brenda, the lovely lady who runs it, mentioned that the same owner has The Meeting House Cafe on the Brighton and Hove border; naturally we were curious to try it on a sunny day, last Sunday proved to be that day. We knew that we would not be eating rubbish as the basic ingredients used at the Hilltop Café are very good quality. LOCATION & ACCESSIBILITY: 13 / 15 The Meeting Place Cafe is ideally located on the Brighton and Hove border on the sea side of the Peace Statue, literally two steps from Brighton (or Hove) Beach and at the eastern extremity of Hove Lawns. The main A259 Sea Front, Kings Road, borders Hove Lawns and, if you are lucky, offers you somewhat expensive parking - £3.50 for an hour on Sunday morning when we were there. There are many buses using King’s Road, some travelling from as far away as ...

Volvo Polestar Performance Upgrade 21/05/2016


Volvo Polestar Performance Upgrade “THINK OF THE MOST UNLIKELY BRAND OF CAR THAT YOU COULD IMAGINE ME DRIVING…….” ……Was how I emailed an old friend of mine earlier in the week. Since buying a Volvo XC60 in mid-January, I have spent the last four months almost learning how to drive again. Let me explain….. …..After over seven years with a superb, but in many ways surprisingly conventional Subaru Legacy, the Volvo XC60 has proven more of a sea change than I expected. Yes, it is a very different car visually, but it is the driving characteristics and modern gadgets such as the electric handbrake that have taken the most adapting to. For a start, unlike most XC60’s on the road, and indeed my Subaru, my particular XC60 does not have four wheel drive. In order to save me a fortune in tax over the coming years it is an ultra-low CO2, front wheel drive, D4 R-Design model, in spite of its fancy diamond cut alloy wheels and rear air diffuser, it actually has far more “go than show” in the performance department. In Volvo’s slightly odd engine line up, in the XC60, the new VEA D4 unit is the bottom of the range, it is however destined to be the largest engine offered in Volvo’s car range as the brilliant, but, theoretically, less efficient, five cylinder diesel is phased out over the next few years. In the new S, V and XC90 models this four cylinder unit is available with as much as 225bhp and 470Nm torque, to achieve that it has two turbochargers. Volvo are now staking their entire engine future on a single four ...

Sony Xperia Z2 18/05/2016


Sony Xperia Z2 GIVE ME AN I – “i”, GIVE ME A PHONE - “Phone”, WHAT HAVE YOU GOT? Er, actually, no I haven’t...... ......I do have though a SONY Z2, presented to me by my wife who knew just how much I hated my nearly new Nokia Windows phone. You could at this stage be thinking ‘why is RICHADA reviewing a now obsolete smartphone here?’ Well, they are still available new, as listed by Ciao underneath this review and I hope that I can, in non-tecchie terms, explain to you why, in light of experience with mine, I would buy one tomorrow, were my current phone to be in need of replacement. I am not someone given to carrying the latest technology “just because”, indeed, in matters technical, it has always been my policy to be a late adopter, letting others iron out the bugs in new devices of any type. Recommending a phone to you, this or any other, depends very much on your own requirements from such a device, so this review examines the Sony Z2 from my own personal point of view. RICHADA AND THE PHONE Whilst I always considered myself one of the least demanding mobile phone users that I know, I always had certain requirements of a phone that, due to the pressures of modern life, I am seemingly forced to carry around with me at all times. I was also extraordinarily late into carrying a mobile phone, a device that, in truth, I had happily lived without for almost forty years, and, in all honesty would probably to prefer to live without today! By nature, I guess that I am out of step with our ...

Boston Tea Party, Honiton 14/05/2016


Boston Tea Party, Honiton WHERE IN THE WORLD? There is a fair chance that most reading this will have heard of Honiton, famous for its lace making past, in Devon, whilst a fair few of you, if never having passed through or round it, may be rather vague as to where it is situated. I have known this attractive little town since I was about eight years old, making the annual summer pilgrimage, in August, to visit my late, Great Uncle Bill, who retired to Torbay. We drove through Honiton, seemingly, never stopping there...... ......forty years later and with my brother in law, his wife (and now) their baby, not to mention Lord Frederick Jack-Russell, living and working on a farm nearby, we have, over the last five years, visited Honiton fairly frequently. It is located at the junction where the main A35 road through southern Dorset meets the A30 which turns into the A303 to the north east; in turn to the south west you rapidly join the M5 just north of Exeter. In short, Honiton is at the centre of the East Devon road network and is the perfect stopping point on the way to Cornwall. WHY DID WE CHOOSE THE BOSTON TEA PARTY IN HONITON? Having rushed to get to an Easter Sunday Church service, we missed breakfast and, at 9.30, when the service finished (delightful lady vicar by the way), we had a very short walk up the High Street and discovered the Boston Tea Party. Thanks to its floor to ceiling front windows and extremely tempting looking open food counter, we were enticed in. Sadly, the many other ...

Pet Peeves 09/05/2016

AND FOR MY 300th REVIEW......

Pet Peeves RICHADA'S PET PEEVES I find it very hard to get peeved with pets, there are two reasons for this: 1) I love pets, they are great stress busters and, as such, we forgive them when they destroy the interior of our cars (yes YOU Freddie!) drop hairs all over our carpets, eat our slippers and sick-up on our, sorry their, favourite arm chair. 2) Apart from the goldfish in our pond, we do not have any pets to get peeved with...... ......So, I guess you will just have to put up with another RICHADA rant about his current annoyances in life, and, without going over too much old ground, 2016 has been an all-time vintage year for getting RICHADA wound up, and yes, it is only the last week of April as I write this – if the next eight months follow the first four, I will be lucky to get to Christmas this year let alone see in the New Year. For the benefit of those for whom this momentous statistic passed you by, I will point out that this is the three hundredth RICHADA Ciao review published since joining this site twelve years ago....... FROM PET PEEVES TO CIAO FLEAS – TRPSR* 1.7 *The RICHADA Peeved Scale Rating explained at foot of review. .......I would be curious to know just how many words that I have published here, not only combining the previous 299 reviews with this one, but also, and here’s the killer, all the words contained in my 46,146 comments on all of your reviews to date! Oh yes, I am nothing if not a commentator, and here, on my 300th review I lay claim to the ...

Nikon D610 30/04/2016


Nikon D610 A NON-TECHIE REVIEW If you want to read all about the many technical details of the Nikon D610, this review is not for you. Several impressively sized books on the subject are available, the one that I purchased, just after getting the camera, manages to baffle rather than de-bunk whilst the handbook supplied with the camera (thanks panamoz!) runs to 355 pages and is as dry as dry can be. Having now had time to get to know the camera I may actually get more value from the above two publications! In writing this review my aim is to explain how spending twice as much money on a Nikon D610 over (for example) a perfectly good D5500 can be justified by someone who is looking for almost the ultimate in amateur D-SLR photography. RICHADA AND PHOTOGRAPHY In July last year, I reviewed an internet photographic supplier,, who are based in Hong Kong and facilitated the purchase of this, my dream camera. At the time, I realised that this particular camera is such a complex piece of kit that, to review it, having had no experience of at least most of its features, would be to sell myself, the camera and you, the reader, short. Frankly it is a surprise to me that, in the year since the Nikon D610 was launched, I am the first to actually review it here, although, bearing in mind its full list price of around £2000 when launched, maybe not. I am a long standing Nikon single lens reflex (SLR) and digital (D-SLR) camera fan. My photographic hobby started at the age of about ...

Coventry Transport Museum, Coventry 23/04/2016


Coventry Transport Museum, Coventry ......AND SO TO THE COVENTRY TRANSPORT MUSEUM Having very recently visited and reviewed the British Motor Museum at Gaydon in Warwickshire, just a thirty minute drive from this one in the centre of Coventry, I realised that I was long overdue a return visit to Coventry and had, several years ago, fully intended to review the British Museum of Road Transport as it then was. As luck would have it, business called me to the NEC on the southernmost outskirts of Birmingham – it took me somewhat less than 30 minutes, by road, to arrive at the re-named Coventry Transport Museum from there. On at least half a dozen occasions over the last thirty years I have visited Hale Street in Coventry to see this museum, during that time not only has the museum itself grown and changed out of all recognition, but so too has most of central Coventry beyond the Cathedral Precincts – also well worth visiting whilst here, and barely a five minute walk from the museum. Unlike the British Motor Museum at Gaydon, there is plenty in central Coventry to make a day out worthwhile for all the family, or, if you are a solo car / vehicle enthusiast, you may just be tempted to visit both museums in the day – completely possible, but to do so would do neither full justice. THE BUILDING AND GROUNDS – FIRST IMPRESSIONS 10 / 10 Back in the 1980’s this was quite a rundown part of Coventry city centre and the museum was then housed in what looked like ramshackle interconnecting sheds, although outward ...

Youngman Odd Job Trade Work Platform 16/04/2016


Youngman Odd Job Trade Work Platform WHAT IS THE MOST USEFUL GIFT YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN? A Youngman Odd Job, or, to give it its full catalogue mane: Youngman 310898 Odd Job Multi-Purpose Trade Work Platform. I did not have to think twice about the answer to that question! ODD JOB? THAT SOUNDS A BIT PECULIAR, WHAT, EXACTLY, IS AN ODD JOB? The Youngman Odd Job is a 600mm high, lightweight, aluminium decorator’s stepper or platform. It has folding legs, complete with yellow plastic feet, which when extended lock into place. When folded, the legs and stepper take up next to no space at all, it standing vertically against a wall. Unlike a step ladder, even an aluminium one, the Odd Job is extremely portable, light, and easy to store or indeed to pop in the car and take with you to carry out a job elsewhere. If 600mm does not sound very high, at an average 5ft 8ins in height, it allows me to comfortably reach any standard height ceiling. I do not like ladders, have always used step ladders, but the Odd Job provides a much safer, more stable and versatile platform from which to work. HOW DID I FIND OUT ABOUT THIS DIY’ERS FRIEND? This time four years ago we were deep in the midst of the awful trauma of having our bungalow converted into a house. This is a process that, should you have no choice but to live in the property whilst being carried out, I would not recommend to my worst enemy. Living in a building site from January through to April is injurious for both your mental health and physical well-being. The ...
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