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since 29/08/2008


Pagen Golden Krisprolls 06/04/2011


Pagen Golden Krisprolls She’s got Marty Feldman’s eyesI normally avoid eating crunchy things, on account of it makes my eyeballs vibrate. Looking out through eyes that tremble like my whippet in the presence of food makes everything goes blurry. That said, I am going to encourage you all to try Pagen’s Krisprolls - from Sweden with love. Although they resemble something produced from an archaeological dig, they are, as the packet claims, deliciously crunchy. The flavour I have is Golden Wheat, which is the only one I’ve seen on the shelves. It is quite sweet, but really delicious. A list of other flavours taken from the website (, where you can also learn about the phenomenon called “Krisprollsmania”) includes Wholegrain, Wholegrain without added sugar, Cranberries and Blueberries, Active (with added fibre) and Chocolat Noir. A word of warning, though: when you bite into them they tend to shatter, so be sure to lean over a plate or the whippet will get the shrapnel. Serving suggestionsThe packet suggests you try them as the Swedes do; crumbled on your morning yogurt, or with your afternoon coffee. Or eat with marmalade or honey. I have done none of this; I can’t get past the cheese stage, but please feel free to experiment. Nutritional informationEach “Swedish toast” (their words, not mine) delivers 55 calories, which include 1.3g sugar and 0.2g salt. I have to ration myself to four as they are incredibly moreish (but not moorish, which is quite different) especially when eaten with ...

Shinesun Spider Vac 15/09/2010

Incey Wincey's up the Spout

Shinesun Spider Vac Incey Wincey spider climbing up the spout Down came the rain and washed the spider out Out came the sun and dried up all the rain And Incey Wincey spider went up the spout again. Arachnophobia!Thanks to a mother who was afraid of spiders I spent an unhappy childhood in that respect. Bedtime was torture, with every wall, the floor and the ceiling being scrutinised closely for the dreaded black speck before I would get into bed. The bed was, of course, placed against the wall to make things worse, so I would have to sleep near the other edge as far away from the wall as possible. (But obviously not so near as to be reachable by the man under the bed.) Added to this was not wanting to kill any creature, so the dilemma of having to call out for help, knowing that the culprit would then meet the sole of my mother’s shoe, made me even more miserable. Once I was away from home a new dilemma arose: put up with spiders in the flat, move out or learn to deal with them. I learnt to deal with them. Glass and card, then out. Quite scary, though, and not very foolproof. I gradually got fed up with being scared of them and managed to pick up the smaller ones. The threshold for me seemed to be the body size. Long legs were okayish, but too large a body – no way. Face your fears with a vengeanceI bought a tarantula! She was a Chilean Rose, named, obviously, ‘Gillian Rose’. A tarantula is an eight-legged hamster, that’s all you have to remember, and then you are all right. She lived in a ...

Simpsons Doughnut Maker 01/09/2010


Simpsons Doughnut Maker It is never a good idea to enter my older daughter’s bedroom. It’s a bit like venturing into the jungle; you never know what you might find, or indeed, when you might find your way out. Today’s experience, though, was a pleasant surprise. Not only had she found the floor since my last visit, but she must have been searching for something, for in rotating the heaps around the edges of the room (much as I would rotate our compost heap if I had the energy) she had inadvertently thrown up a prize which was now lying on the top of one of the piles. I had only gone in there to steal a hair band, but I came out triumphant: for I had found the doughnut maker! The Simpsons Doughnut Maker, Model No. SM 708At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that this was a sandwich toaster. It is pretty much the same size and shape, but when you open the lid you reveal six tiny doughnut moulds. Well twelve, really, for the lid is a mirror image of the base. I was particularly pleased to find the doughnut maker today because my younger daughter and her boyfriend were going to cook dinner and I thought it would be a great idea to make doughnuts for afters. The outer casing on ours is a bright bright yellow, with a sexy royal blue cable and plug. On the top is a picture of Homer Simpson for some reason, and the legend, “What you see is what you get” (‘WYSIWYG’ to you computer freaks). I suppose the picture is to justify calling the machine The Simpsons Doughnut Maker, or possibly the other ...

Tesco Diet Dandelion & Burdock 17/08/2010

I'd be lyin' if I said it wasn't Dandy

Tesco Diet Dandelion & Burdock It’s not like me to write two reviews in a week, but exceptional circumstances have led me to the Mac today. Many of you have seen, and rated, thank you very much, my review on Tesco’s Diet Fiery Ginger Beer, which appeared in February of this year. I remain loyal to this fantastic product, but for the last three times I have tried to buy it the shelves have been empty. Whether this has anything to do with the fact that despite all my efforts the Family has also developed a taste for this drink, I wouldn’t know; certainly I can’t seem to keep any in the house these days and I’ve been forced to visit Tesco’s rather more frequently than I like, being a devotee of Waitrose. Fortunately, I was assured yesterday by a Tesco employee that it has not been discontinued, you will be relieved to hear. Enough is EnoughLast time the empty shelves proved too much for me, so I picked up a 2-litre bottle of Tesco Diet Dandelion and Burdock, for the same bargain price of 48p. You will see that I chose the diet version – I see no point in developing a taste for the full sugar variety of any drink, not at my time of obesity. AppearanceTesco Diet Dandelion and Burdock comes in the usual familiar plastic 2-litre bottle. The drink is extremely dark brown, bordering on black, and the label has a lilac band for the wording above a photograph of a glass of the drink with ice, and flowers of the dandelion and burdock plants in the background. It states that there are no artificial flavours or ...

Lakeland Shovel Bucket 12/08/2010

"A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot"

Lakeland Shovel Bucket Yesterday I was moved to do some gardening. This is not a common event, but as we have a very large garden (and nobody else is ever moved to do anything, let alone gardening), I had to admit defeat and get out there. “A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot rot.”We have a large garden as previously mentioned. “Garden” is actually rather a loose term for the unkempt acre of ground to which I refer. We cultivate two main crops: conifers and nettles. The previous owners were heavily into leylandii and other coniferous weeds, which when we moved in eighteen years ago were relatively small. In the intervening years they have grown almost without our noticing them, and now are threatening to block out all light from the garden. Twice a year I attack some of them with shears and have managed to produce a kind of hedge near the house. This I quite enjoy doing, hailing from a hairdressing background. The clearing up afterwards I do not enjoy doing. It always seems unfair to me that I should have to clear up as well as do all the cutting. (Similarly I do not understand why it seems acceptable for the cook to do the washing-up after the meal ... but I won’t get started on that). So, sweeping, raking and picking up the clippings is hard work, especially the picking up bit. I’ve never got on with those huge ‘hand’ things that some people wear to help pick up large quantities of rubbish; and holding a pair of boards to do it is even harder on the fingers. But wait, don’t give up on me, I ...

Royal Mail Online Postage 01/07/2010

Frankly, Scarlett, I'd rather buy a stamp (updated)

Royal Mail Online Postage UPDATED July 2010 If you have already read this review and cannot bear to do so again, please skip down the page to the new heading: “However...” Enabling you to print out your own postage, the Royal Mail Online Postage Service is a valuable tool for those of us who do not live within a stone’s throw of a post office, or, if you are like me, recoil at the very mention of going to one. A valuable tool, but one which could be so much better. Once a month I have to send out a number of Parish magazines to those who advertise in them, and we tend not to have many stamps in the house, so when I learnt that I could print out my own I was very interested and went straight on to the website. Oh how I sometimes wish that I had not. . . There is a lot on this website. To review the whole thing here would be asking too much of any readers I might have. Some people may enjoy a long review, but for myself, unless I am very interested in the subject or the writer has skills which keep me reading regardless, I generally get pretty irritated at the prospect of words disappearing down the page and off the bottom of my screen when I am about to return the rating honours. I can’t say that the subject of this review is exactly gripping, but I have found a few swine to cast among you pearls, in case you are thinking that this is about to change your life for the better. From all the things on offer when you log on to the Royal Mail site, I will choose to describe how to print some second ...

Julian Graves Milk Chocolate Coated Ginger 14/06/2010

Great Balls of Fire!

Julian Graves Milk Chocolate Coated Ginger The thing is, I love chocolate. Not plain chocolate, though, it has to be milk. My latest addiction is to Julian Graves’ Milk Chocolate Coated Ginger, but having run out of it some days ago, I will console (or possibly torture) myself by telling you all about it. A Word about the CompanyJulian Graves’ website ( says they are “a wholly integrated operation from initial supply of product to packaged delivery to its branded outlets”. That is to say they source and purchase their own ingredients often from countries all over the world (cashews from India, dried apricots from Turkey, etc.), package them around the clock in a large processing plant in Kingswinford, West Midlands, and deliver them throughout the country to their 400-plus shops. Although Julian Graves is best known for its sale of ingredients, such as different varieties of nuts, dried fruits, spices, as well as teas and coffees, they also sell the naughty stuff, like Chocolate Coated Ginger. This comes coated in plain or milk chocolate, but it is the milk variety that I am going to talk about here. What's it look like?The packaging is a clear cellophane bag, so that you can see the chocolates inside, with white lettering on the front. They are sold in bags of 150g and 400g, priced at £1.79 and £3.99. They are wheat free, gluten free and sulphite free, but may contain nuts and sesame. All nutritional information and ingredients are listed on the bags as follows: Nutrition per ...

Foolproof Indian Cookery - Madhur Jaffrey 31/05/2010

Mad about curries? You can't get Madhur than her . . .

Foolproof Indian Cookery - Madhur Jaffrey A few months ago I reviewed a product (See “Corrie and a Curry”) where I made brief mention of this, for me, indispensable book; so now, I think, it is time to dignify it with a review of its own. As I may have mentioned a few times, cooking is not my forté – trust me. Ahem. Nevertheless, that does not stop me watching the occasional cookery programme on the box, and one day, back in 2001, I walked in on a show where each week a different celebrity chef actually went to a viewer’s home and helped them to cook a dinner party. I don’t remember the name of the show, but the one I saw happened to have Madhur Jaffrey as the cook. Since I am a sucker for a curry I immediately sat down to watch and was amazed at how easy it all seemed to be. During the programme she mentioned her latest book (which is how I managed to pin-point the year), which she had called Foolproof Indian Cookery, because, as she said, it was “foolproof”. It sounded right up my street. No comments, please. The next day at work I rushed down to our Book Department during my morning break and bought the book. It would have cost me £14.99 had I not been one of the famous John Lewis Partners, but I got it for £11.24, 25% less. A real bargain, although at that time I did not realise just how great a bargain it would prove to be. This is a BBC Worldwide Ltd publication. The one I have is in hard-back and has a nice silky black dust cover, with a picture of the talented Ms Jaffrey smiling into the camera, with her ...

Harry Potter - The Complete Story: Collected Audio Edition - J.K. Rowling 12/05/2010

A Cauldron full of Characters

Harry Potter - The Complete Story: Collected Audio Edition - J.K. Rowling I have been a fan of the Harry Potter books for many years. I bought the first one, ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, for my ten year-old daughter when it first came out, but for reasons unknown she wouldn’t read it. When later on I noticed the book being read by adults on the London Underground I became curious, and likewise took it to work with me. I was immediately hooked! I couldn’t put it down; J K Rowling’s writing was superb and the story was great. When I had finished it I couldn’t wait for the next one to be published, and so it went on. When the films came out they were watched and enjoyed, but not quite to the same degree, because of course they could not possibly contain all the detail of the books. Books read, films watched. So now what to do?As you may remember from my other reviews, I drive an old 2CV (hooray) and for the last two or three years (up until last August) I was making a twice-weekly round trip of some 50 miles to do computer work for a terminally-ill friend in Enfield. This left me wondering what to do for entertainment whilst driving back and forth, for there was no radio and certainly no boot-full of speakers! The answer came in the form of my iPhone and headphones; but instead of listening to music, which I always find irritating when I’m driving because I can’t easily change it, I decided on audio books; so naturally the first thing I loaded onto it was the complete set of Harry Potter books, (borrowed from the friend) and to my ...

Dyson DC07 02/04/2010

Dyson with Death

Dyson DC07 A few years ago we were lucky enough to experience a flood at our house (always look on the bright side), and as a consequence all our downstairs carpets had to go. It was time, we thought, to walk the laminate way and look, if not feel, trendy. As a by-product of that decision I discovered that I wouldn’t have to vacuum any more! Result! All I would need to do in future would be to walk around lazily with a broom or one of those flat mop-things and Bob would be my uncle. WrongPushing dust around for several years without actually syphoning it off occasionally was not the best idea I’ve ever had. I bought a ‘hard floor attachment’ for my old vacuum cleaner, but it really wasn’t much cop. It was an upright machine, which meant that I could no longer use it upright but had to use its hose with the new attachment on. Hard work. Eventually I went back to the broom and the mop. I bought a cylinder machine, but although it worked well it would wait until I was at the other side of the room and then it would shoot across and crack me on the ankle. It never missed. And so I continued for several years; alternating between upright and cylinder models, getting fed up, and going back to the broom and the mop. Now I’m not saying that this would apply to everybody who has laminate flooring. Our problem was caused by our having five hairy cats. Well four actually; number five has short fur. Two of them are Maine Coons, which not only have very long hair but seem to delight in shooting ...

The Gardens of Easton Lodge, Essex 29/03/2010

Daisy, Daisy, give me your Gardens, do.

The Gardens of Easton Lodge, Essex The Gardens of Easton LodgeA lovely Sunday afternoon in mid-March prompted some activity in the Finn household when we woke up the 2CV and took ourselves off to visit the Gardens of Easton Lodge. This was a special day in the timetable of the Gardens, as it was the last of the four ‘Snowdrop Days’ for 2010. When we arrived we could immediately see the carpets of snowdrops throughout the trees, lying like snow on the ground. It was a sight to lift the soul. Easton Lodge is situated in the Essex countryside, just north of Dunmow; CM6 2BB is the post code if you want to use a Sat Nav. Taking the B184 to Thaxted from Great Dunmow follow the brown Heritage signs which take you left to Little Easton. Driving through the village you then go down a pretty lane which crosses Little Easton Manor lakes at the bottom where, if you have brought some bread with you, there are ducks and other birds to feed. There are usually a few fishermen there too – it really is a lovely spot. On, though, to Easton Lodge, which is a little bit further along the lane. It is well-signposted. There has been an estate at Easton Lodge since the 1300s, when it was a deer park. Queen Elizabeth gave the estate of 10,000 acres to Henry Maynard and in 1597 he built a mansion similar to Blickling Hall in Norfolk and called it Easton Lodge after the Tudor hunting lodge which had been there previously. The house was added to by various members of the family over the next couple of hundred years, but in 1847 most of ...

Yesterdays News 17/03/2010

Read all about it - Yesterday's News!

Yesterdays News For four or five years now I have been using Yesterday’s News cat litter – or perhaps I should say my cats have. Prior to that I had been spending a fortune on a top end flushable brand, and was very happy with it, apart from the price of course, but when we acquired a couple of Maine Coons, which turned out to have reeaally hairy feet, I discovered that the usual litter was not only being walked all over the house, but worse, was building up into solid clumps under their toes, and was virtually impossible to remove without a hammer and chisel. Something had to change, so I borrowed a bag of Yesterday’s News from a friend to try. I am really glad I did, because this proved to be so much more suitable for my cats’ feet than my previous brand. Not only that, it was a good bit cheaper too. What is it like?This is a product manufactured (as you might guess) from recycled newspaper, which has been re-formed into little pellets. It is virtually dust-free, and odourless, and the cats took to it without any problems despite the fact that it was quite unlike their previous litter. The pellets are very absorbent and gradually break down as they are used. It is easy to remove solids with a scoop, but the best part is that you can then drop them into the loo and flush them away. Believe me, that is a real bonus when you are cleaning out a litter tray. The rest of the (wet) litter I used to tip into our dustbin, but recently our council introduced a new kerb-side recycling programme ... 09/03/2010

Card Sharp It can be an expensive business buying a birthday card. Unless you’re the sort of person who doesn’t much care what you send, a birthday card can cost £2 or more – it can even include petrol sometimes, if you’ve left it a bit late. In addition to this, of course, there is the postage. So, how many cards do you send in a year?My list of cards is now up to 40, and that is just for birthdays. I haven’t added up anniversaries, the occasional thank you card, a condolence or two or any congratulations on passing your driving test cards, and I don’t think I can bear to do so now, because I have just done a little calculation: I deliberately underestimated things a bit, and assumed that I send 40 cards in a year each costing £1.50. Adding second class postage to those, which is at present 30 pence, is another £12, which means I am spending £72 a year on remembering other people’s birthdays! £72? I must be mad! But don’t forget, that is a conservative estimate – I would say I mostly spend more than £1.50 on a card, not from choice, but because there is no choice, and quite often a first-class stamp is involved (39 pence) because I have left it too late. We are talking about a lot of hard-earned dosh. Now if you want to do a quick calculation of your own, please do so; but when you have had your own private fit, as I did, come back and continue reading as I am going to tell you how to avoid this terrible waste of money. Welcome backNot too much of a shock, I hope, but still an ...

Gourmet Garden Coriander 01/03/2010

Corrie and a Curry

Gourmet Garden Coriander I am not a cook; in fact I would go so far as to say that I hate cooking. To cook a meal is agony for me, as I really have no interest in the matter. That said, a few years ago I came across a book by Madhur Jaffrey, ( Foolproof Indian Cookery, actually), and being more than fond of an Indian meal, I bought it. Perhaps I should amend my opening sentence to read: I hate cooking, but I love to cook curries! Now, against all appearances to the contrary, this is not going to be a review of the wonderful Ms Jaffrey’s book. That may well be the subject of a review to come, but no, what I wish to bang on about is coriander. This is, as I’m sure you all know, the green vegetation usually to be found scattered about on top of your food when you go to your local Indian restaurant. It is a wonderfully aromatic herb, which enhances the dish and improves the meal considerably. If you like it, of course (I do know someone who doesn’t, but I’ve often had my doubts about that particular person, so pay no attention to him). So, in my opinion, coriander is a must in the list of ingredients when I’m cooking curries. A must, but strangely, one which is often absent. There have been several reasons for this: # Coriander does not want to grow in my garden, unlike rosemary, sage and suchlike which I do not want in my curries. # When I buy it in pots to keep on the windowsill I seem to become protective and feel disinclined to cut it – after watering it and looking after it it seems wrong, ...

Goodfellas Deeply Delicious Pepperoni Pizza 20/02/2010

Truly Madly Deeply Delicious

Goodfellas Deeply Delicious Pepperoni Pizza We have just eaten the most delicious pizza. A Goodfella’s Deeply Delicious frozen pizza, to be exact. It could not be better named. Deep it most certainly was, and oh how delicious! The PizzasThere are four deeply delicious varieties of Deeply Delicious pizza; Deeply Delicious Spicy Chicken, Deeply Delicious Meat Feast, Deeply Delicious Loaded Cheese and the one we’ve just eaten which was the Deeply Delicious Pepperoni. We had half each as there was only one left in the freezer, so there wasn’t really quite enough. I think a whole one would have been more than I needed, but (pig that I am) I’m sure I would have finished it on my own anyway if it had been in front of me, because it was just so nice. My favourite is the Deeply Delicious Loaded Cheese (or possibly the Deeply Delicious Meat Feast). There again, the Deeply Delicious Pepperoni is deeply delicious, as I may already have mentioned. The ExperienceThis is a frozen pizza, as I said, and best cooked straight from the freezer. The base is deep-pan – obviously, ‘Deeply’ being a clue here – but the texture is that of freshly-baked French bread; the outside of the crust is delicately crisp, but when you bite into it you immediately encounter the soft almost fluffy inside which simply melts in your mouth. If only I could make a pizza base like this; it is the best I have ever tasted. Maybe the secret is in the French wheat flour they use. On top of this base is a good portion of tomato paste, mozzarella cheese, red and ...
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