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If my reviews entertain, amuse or brighten your moment in any way, then my task is done! ++ Thank you all - my first ever competition win here. ++

Reviews written

since 20/06/2004


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 ...

Osso Buco, Weybridge 16/09/2014


Osso Buco, Weybridge WHERE IN THE WORLD? Within the 116.8 mile circumference of the M25 there are, reportedly, some 327,423 restaurants, surely one of the highest concentrations of eateries in the world. Not being a lover of London, and having a great choice of places in which to eat out right here in Brighton, I can count on my fingers the number of times within the last ten years that we have eaten within that 116.8 mile radius and it has taken some pretty special occasions (a Ciao meet on one!) to induce us to do so. Why then, were we in Weybridge, of all places, for my 52nd birthday? We chose to spend the day at the nearby, excellent, Brooklands museum. For those of you unfamiliar with the south eastern extremities of our capital, you will find Weybridge roughly eight miles south of the M4 and Heathrow Airport, about five minutes from Junction 11 of the aforementioned M25. LOCATION & ACCESSIBILITY: 13 / 15 Osso Buco is located on the main A317, Church Street, almost next to the library, opposite the community hospital, right in Weybridge town centre. Whilst there is on street parking, this is only for an hour. Very conveniently there is a large pay and display car park immediately behind the restaurant – we paid just 70p for one hours parking, after 6.00pm it is free. Better still, there are bus stops on either side of the road, right outside the restaurant – for the sake of locals, buses: 451, 459, 461, 462 and 637 stop there. Weybridge is not on the London Underground system and it ...

Maserati Ghibli 3.0D V6 12/08/2014


Maserati Ghibli 3.0D V6 PREAMBLE Knowing how passionate Italian car enthusiasts can be, and having fallen foul of a vociferous, if small, hard core of Alfa Romeo enthusiasts through my reviews here in the past, I would like to reiterate that this is a Consumer Opinion site and that the following review represents my own personal impressions of this rather unusual motor car. Furthermore, I would point out here that the whole purpose of my standard car review format is to present as dispassionate an opinion as I can, the format having been originally designed to make it possible to make direct comparisons between cars of all sizes and prices. Whilst, at £50,000, this Maserati Ghibli is far from the most expensive car that I have reviewed, it is, by nature, of all of them, quite probably the one that most stirs the emotions – or so Fiat’s, proprietor of Maserati, public relations people would want me to believe. WHAT IS IT? Launched on the UK market in the spring of 2014, the four door saloon, Ghibli is a brave new departure for Maserati as Fiat uses it as a weapon to attempt to muscle in on the highly lucrative executive car marketplace, defined, almost, by the 5 Series BMW. This is a highly talented market sector, populated by such well-established models as the Audi A6, the ubiquitous, and for good reason, BMW 5 Series, the exceptionally good Jaguar XF, the traditionalists E Class Mercedes and some left-field entries from the likes of Infiniti, Lexus and even Volvo. Some would offer an argument ...

Shutterly Fabulous 25/07/2014


Shutterly Fabulous THE CONCEPT Fashionable for some time now, window shutters (sometimes referred to as plantation shutters) are widely available from a range of sources – just Google window shutters (as I initially did) and you will quickly see that this is a highly competitive home improvement market. Window shutters, as discussed here, are an interior window “dressing”, usually used as an alternative to curtains, blinds or nets, although can actually be used as an addition to each of the above according to taste. Having now totally refurbished our house, we were left with making decisions about the very last room, our former spare bedroom. This room had always served a multi-purpose role; it had been the second bedroom come study, come “junk” room. Having added two extra, larger, bedrooms in the conversion of our bungalow to a house, this room had been left without a clear purpose. The most sensible thing appeared to be to turn it into a library come study, containing all of our books, music and DVD collections and then add a bed settee for very occasional overnight use – should the need ever arise. With shelving for books and CD’s etc being constructed, it left a much narrower scope for curtaining the large window – which looks out onto the side of the neighbouring bungalow – in truth the least attractive outlook from any window in the house. What to do? Well, this particular window so obviously lends itself to shuttering that we are amazed that we had not thought of it before – but ...

KIA Rio 1.4 CVVT (since 2012) 08/06/2014

KIA's RIO to the power of 3

KIA Rio 1.4 CVVT (since 2012) WHAT IS IT? The Rio is Kia’s alternative to the Ford Fiesta – the archetypal supermini. Available in two and three door variants, the Rio competes for sales in one of the largest selling vehicle segments world wide currently. Looking rather different, but very closely related, to the Hyundai i20, which I have previously reviewed in (superb) 1.1 diesel form, and the less agreeable 1.2 petrol, this is my first outing in a Rio. WILL IT FIT YOUR GARAGE? Obviously without knowing the specifics of your garage, a difficult one to answer! It should do. Superminis are so very popular because of their compact dimensions, but, at just over 4 metres in length (4045mm), the Rio is pushing the supermini boundaries in terms of length. A current model Ford Fiesta measures 3950mm, whilst a Vauxhall Corsa at 3999mm just stays under that psychological 4M mark. In terms of width, although it does not feel so from the drivers’ seat, the 1720mm (door mirrors folded in!) Rio is class competitive. WHICH SPECIFIC MODEL? The model that I am reviewing here is the petrol powered £13,395 Kia Rio 3, 1.4 3 Door. This is pretty much top of the range as far as a 3 door Rio is concerned, being both the most powerful and well equipped version. The Kia Rio range starts at £9,395 for a 1.25 litre (petrol) 3 door 1 model, and tops out at £15.595 for a fully loaded 1.4 CRDi (diesel) 4, 4 door. 1, 3, 4? What’s that all about? Actually it is a quite novel, yet simple, way of determining the equipment ...
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