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Paris Requiem - Lisa Appignanesi 12/02/2014

A Parisian Whodunnit

The Palace Circle - Rebecca Dean 12/02/2014

Love in the desert

Canon MG5450 06/02/2014

Printing with a Pixma

Canon MG5450 About a year ago, I convinced my manager that I needed to buy a small desktop printer to take with me to offsite conferences that I organise - having managed to break two lent to me by the venue during a recent conference, I wanted something reliable which I knew how to work. I spent some time browsing our office supplies catalogue trying to decide what to get. I wanted a good quality printer, easy to set up and use, with copier and scanner functions, able to print photos (I didn't need it but I thought I might as well have that option) and not too large or heavy. I also didn’t want a horribly ugly boxy looking thing, which is where the Canon Pixma range had the edge - they’re fairly attractive things as far as printers go, so I chose the MG5450 which was in the price range I was looking at (under £100) and which seemed to be getting good reviews. Set up wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped, but frankly I think it’s just me. I always have issues with setting up printers, and this is further hampered by my work’s IT security procedures which mean my laptop gets upset when I try to install something new. It seemed to take me ages to get the printer set up first time round - which fortunately I did when still in the office, rather than waiting until I actually needed to use the printer offsite. Once the printer was set up and my laptop had got over it’s tantrum, reconnecting the printer every time I need to use it has been incredibly straightforward - I literally just connect it to my ...

Boots Skin Clear Deep Cleansing Scrub 05/02/2014

Scrub your cares away

Boots Cucumber Cleansing Wipes 04/02/2014

Wipe your cares away

Soap & Glory Scrub Your Nose In It 03/02/2014

Scrub your face in it, not just your nose!

Soap & Glory Scrub Your Nose In It After receiving a gift set of Soap & Glory products for Christmas which I absolutely loved, I was keen to try more from the range. I bought myself a tube of face scrub, Scrub Your Nose In It, as part of a minimum spend offer which got a me free full size tub of body butter. As I use face scrub regularly and am always looking for the perfect one, it seemed like a good time to try Soap & Glory's offering. The scrub comes in a tube with a similar design to most Soap & Glory products - mainly pink with text on it. The tube has a flip top lid which is easy to use with wet hands, and the scrub is easy to squeeze out. I do find that it tends to congeal a little around the opening, but that's not an issue. At first sight, the scrub is a little disconcerting - it's bright blue, instead of the pale pink that all other Soap & Glory products that I've tried are. It also doesn't have the same lovely floral based scent which is what hooked me on the body scrub. The fragrance isn't something I can identify, but it's similar to many other face scrubs - functional, maybe slightly chemical. It's not unpleasant at all, but it's not something you'd open the tube just to have a sniff of. Scrub Your Nose In It has a good consistency, liquid enough to be easy to use, but also not too runny as to make it pretty useless, like some cheaper scrubs. I squeeze a small amount onto my fingers, maybe about the size of a 20p piece, and then rub it into my face. I start with my cheeks, then nose and chin, ...

Breville TR30 27/01/2014

A toastie a day...

Breville TR30 Many years ago, when I was living in halls at university, one of the girls on my floor had a toastie maker. She put it in the kitchen and let everyone use it. Toasties were perfect cheap food for a student, so when I moved into a flatshare, I bought my own toastie maker. I chose a Breville because they are a good brand, and the TR30 was actually the cheapest two sandwich toaster that Debenhams had at that time (I worked there part-time during uni, so I bought everything there with staff discount). This is about twelve years ago now, so I'm not certain how much I paid, but I think the full price was around £20. The reason for this little introduction is to illustrate the longevity of the toastie maker - I've still got the same one today, and it is still in regular use. The outside of the machine is white, and rather surprisingly is still in very good nick, there are no marks or stains on it. The toasting plates inside are showing some wear, there are a few scratches, but no burnt on stains - it still cleans up nicely. The toastie maker has a couple of lights on the top. When you plug it in, the red one lights up. This shows that it is heating up and is not yet ready to toast. It takes a few minutes to heat, and I find this time is just right for preparing your sandwich. Once the green light comes on, the toastie maker is ready to go. While in use the lights cycle between green and red, and I'm sure I remember the instruction book saying that when green changed back to red it ...

Samsung GALAXY S III Mini 24/01/2014

A Galaxy in Miniature

Samsung GALAXY S III Mini A few months before I was due to upgrade my mobile, I started thinking about what kind of phone I would like to get. I really liked my Samsung Galaxy Ace, but it had limitations - it ran an older version of the Android operating system, which seemed to mean I couldn't watch videos on BBC iPlayer or the BBC mobile site, or on Google Play. So I wanted something which would allow me to do this, and the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini seemed to fit the bill - plus it was on Skys listed of supported Android devices for using the Sky Go app. In October, when the battery on my Galaxy Ace suddenly became rubbish (receiving a text and replying drained it), I decided to upgrade one month early. I did this through Carphone Warehouse instead of directly with o2, as they were offering a free TV with certain handsets, which was convenient as our TV had also recently died. Having endured the very long add-on sales pitch for cases, car chargers and insurance, I walked out of the shop the proud owner of a shiny blue Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini. Aside from the fact that it runs Android 4.1., aka Jelly Bean, which allows me to play videos, I chose the S3 Mini mainly on its size and appearance. I was really pleased with the Galaxy Ace, so I was fairly sure I wanted another Samsung - especially as phones from other Android brands seem to be quite angular, and I like a phone with curved edges. Size was key however, and this ruled out Samsungs headline offerings of the S3 and S4 - I don't want a phone that's ...

After Dead What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse - Charlaine Harris 16/01/2014

Still Dead

After Dead What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse - Charlaine Harris Earlier this year I read and reviewed the final novel in Charlaine Harris's popular Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead Ever After.I concluded that I was unhappy with the rushed and forced feel to the ending, although I had suspected that was where she was heading after the previous novel. After that, I looked forward to the publication of After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse with a kind of desperation, hoping that not only would it give me one last shot of the characters and stories I had grown to love, but also that it would provide a comfortable closure which had been missing from Dead Ever After. After Dead was published in October 2013. It promises to give details of what happened next to all the characters in the series, from the Ancient Pythoness to Bethany Zanelli, and everyone in between, including more details of Sookie's own happily-ever-after. It takes the form of an A to Z, taking us through what happened to characters after their final appearance in the series. Some characters are very minor, so minor that I struggle to remember tham, and I've read the series through several time. All the major characters are present though, so we find out what happened to them after Dead Ever After's slightly rushed conclusion. The entries for the major characters are understandably longer, although even Sookie only gets three pages, and Bill only one. The entries are concise, and give only a bare outline of the characters story. However in some cases the ...

Philip and Elizabeth - Gyles Brandreth 15/01/2014

An enduring relationship

Cake, North Berwick 19/12/2013

Let Them Eat Cake

Cake, North Berwick While strolling along North Berwick's high street on our first full day in the town, we decided to stop for a spot of lunch. There are a few places to choose from, but we settled on Cake - as it was almost full we reasoned it must be popular with the locals, always a good sign for any sort of eatery. We were lucky to get a table. Although quite large for a cafe, it really was very busy. We were even luckier that the only free table was in the corner by the window, so we were out of the way of waitresses and kids roaming about. The decor is simple but smart - wooden tables and chairs, and a serving counter with a display of cakes and blackboards on either side. We considered the menu for a while. My impression was that it seemed rather simple for the style of cafe - basic sandwich and toastie fillings instead of more interesting ones that you see in most places now. Fortunately, before the waitress came over, my dad spotted that we had all been perusing the kids menu. Having pilfered a proper menu from a neighbouring table, we realised that Cake did have fancy sandwich fillings. My dad decided on a brie and cranberry toastie, my mum was just going to have a scone, and I decided on a baked potato. Sadly they were out of baked potatoes so I changed to a cheese and onion toastie. Service wasn't terribly quick, but it was very busy and we had come in at the end of the lunch period. The food turned out to be worth the wait - the toasties looked delicious as soon as they were set ...

Shadowmagic - John Lenahan 17/12/2013

Magic in the shadows

Hotpoint BHWM1291 10/12/2013

Laundry with no smoke

Hotpoint BHWM1291 The story of this washing machine starts with a bit of drama. One evening back in March this year, I put on a load of laundry. When I opened the machine an hour later when it was done, we were alarmed to see and smell smoke coming out of the drum. After a bit of debate and a fruitless search for a non-emergency fire service number, we decided we should probably do something about it, although we couldn't see any sign of fire - smoke coming from an electrical appliance is never good news. The very nice London Fire Brigade promptly despatched a fire engine to us. Our small flat was soon full of large fully kitted out firemen and women, and using their little electrical heat scanning gadget they said there was no fire but we needed to get the washing machine looked at. The plumber who was sent said there was no problem. After this was repeated two more times (minus the fire brigade), our managing agent finally sent someone who knew what they were doing - he announced the machine was repairable but we'd be better with a new one. And that's how we ended up with the Hotpoint BHWM129/1. Living in a rented flat, we had no choice in the washing machine. However when it was delivered I was quite frankly so pleased to have a washing machine that was unlikely to start smoking that I didn't care. Once I considered it properly, I was pleased to have a Hotpoint as it's a brand I know to be good. To look at, it's a washing machine. It's not a particularly snazzy looking one, but it's not ...

Lakeland 1.5L Slow Cooker 26/11/2013

Making It Slow

Bosch Tassimo T40 25/11/2013

A taste of Tassimo

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