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since 02/07/2009


Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Hedge Shears 29/11/2017

Shear-ly Good Garden Tool!

Spear & Jackson Razorsharp Hedge Shears This set of 'Razorsharp' 9" hand held hedge shears is manufactured by Spear & Jackson, a reputable company based in Sheffield. Having owned these shears for the past three years, I can confirm their quality and performance. In Use They cope incredibly well with a wide variety of cutting tasks in the garden, such as trimming the long grass on the edge of the lawn that is missed by the mower, without the hassle of charging up our cordless strimmer. I also find them invaluable for cutting shrubs, trees and hedges with the 'razorsharp' title proving to be an accurate description of the blade's cutting abilities. The carbon steel blades can cope with fairly thick twigs and branches and the metal dial at the top of the handle helps to absorb the impact of cutting through thicker foliage. I particularly like the weight of these shears as they are light enough to hold for long periods whilst feeling sturdy enough to tackle most tasks without fear of damage. I also find the rubberised coating on the handles make these easy to hold without slipping and reduces the likelihood of blisters, without the need for gloves. The shears come complete with the reassurance of a ten year guarantee, although the packaging doesn't offer any specific details about the process of claiming under this guarantee, if necessary. The only information offered is that the guarantee is subject to normal wear and tear and 'reasonable care and maintenance.' Durability I'm not entirely sure that my ...

Wilko Colour Play Bowl 29/11/2017

Bowled Over

Wilko Colour Play Bowl A few years ago, we paid a lot of money to replace our dated kitchen, including a lovely traditional style Belfast sink. Needless to say, we didn't want to diminish the appearance of the ceramic sink so we don't tend to use a washing up bowl at home, even though that would probably be the sensible option to offer additional protection to the sink. When we were planning our camping trip, however, we soon realised that we would need a decent bowl to store and transport our dirty pots and pans to the washing area. The Purchase My husband picked up this inexpensive plastic washing up bowl from Wilkos. (Even the sign on the exterior of the store now states Wilkos rather than Wilkinson.) This is a Wilko own brand product, part of their 'Colour Play' range of kitchen and homeware so, unsurprisingly, is exclusive to Wilko. This bowl comes in a range of bold and contemporary colours, along with other matching products and accessories so that the entire kitchen can be colour coordinated. My husband picked this up in a lovely duck egg blue although I suspect little thought was given to the colour, due to its intended future use as a camping bowl rather than as an interior design statement. This bowl is available in several other colours which can be purchased in store or online but, according to the Wilko website, this particular blue colour is available in store only. In Use Having been originally purchased for a family camping holiday this compact plastic bowl served its ...

Early Learning Centre Build It Construction Toy 29/11/2017

Building Skills, Fun and Imaginary Worlds!

Early Learning Centre Build It Construction Toy Like most people, I love a bargain so I was very tempted to discover that ELC had a half-price sale at the same time that I had a 20% off 'Birthday code' to use a few years ago. I managed to snap this fantastic 'Build It' construction set up for £16 - which is a massive discount when compared to the full (albeit rather inflated) RRP. Boxing Clever This is a suitably impressive 'big box' present, which was an ideal gift for my then four year son at Christmas. It wasn't however, the type of present that immediately caught his eye so I tucked it out of sight for a few days over Christmas and brought it out after the initial excitement of some other presents had died down. The box itself is a simple but practical design and has proven to be strong enough to house the contents after each use and safely store away all the pieces between play sessions, minimising the risk of critical pieces going astray. I do like the practical style of the box but I don't particularly like the images chosen to illustrate the box. The box clearly indicates a recommended age range of 3-8 years but the little boy on the front of the box is quite clearly at the very lowest end of this wide age range. He looks around two or three years old at most and I think this choice of image gives the impression that this is a toy best suited to the lower end of the suggested age range, when I would say the opposite is the case. This set is a wonderful collection of various bits and pieces of what is, ...

Lego Creator 31007 Power Mech 29/11/2017

A Great Lego Trio

Lego Creator 31007 Power Mech As with most households with children (and many without) we have built up quite a substantial collection of Lego sets over recent years, with these durable little plastic sets offering many hours of construction, creative and imaginative play. One of our many sets is this 'Power Mech' set which is part of Lego's popular and ever expanding Creator series. The Product This lego set (model number 31007) is part of the Creator series which includes all of the pieces required to complete three entirely different working models; in this instance an impressive green robot, a helicopter and a pick up truck. Only one of each model can be made at a time as the same set of Lego bricks are utilised to create each of the models (with a few pieces left spare each time.) This does mean that an individual model does need to be broken up in order to build the next item but this does result in a much more versatile and interesting set that other, single build, Lego sets. The Build As I've come to expect with Lego sets, the pictorial instructions provided are very comprehensive and easy to follow. The step by step guide includes pictures of the pieces as they are gradually assembled and there is no room for any confusion. Certainly, for the recommended age range of seven to twelve year olds, this is a fairly straightforward process and one which most children within that age group could complete independently. I would say the minimum age range is broadly accurate, having attempted to build ...

Hasbro Bop It Beats 28/11/2017

Bop It Beats In The House!

Hasbro Bop It Beats It has become a bit of a family tradition to purchase the latest version of Bop It for Christmas, ostensibly as a gift for my oldest son but, more generally, as a game that the whole family can join in with and enjoy. As a result we own a number of different versions of the Bop It games that have been produced so far; Bop It Extreme, Bop It Smash, Bop It Tetris and even a tiny R2D2 version of the game. Amongst our growing Bop It collection is this Bop It Beats version which was given to my then twelve year old son for Christmas 2014. The Product For anybody unfamiliar with the previous formats of Bop It, the premise is that of a hand held electronic device that gives a series of commands to follow. This version fits into the Bop It family extremely well, combining the skills needed to follow the required actions with DJ style activities and contemporary pop music. The design of the Bop It Beats is very different from the look of other versions of the games. This one is shaped more like a small wobble board rather than the elongated shape of most of its predecessors. Ease of Play Playing the game is very simple but exceedingly difficult, both at the same time. Like other types of Bop It electronic games, this shouts out a series of instructions which have to be met by the correct action to avoid failing the game. Actions include 'spin it' 'scratch it' 'reverse' and flip it' which involves turning the whole game over. This becomes faster and increasingly demanding as the ...

Tomy Greedy Granny 28/11/2017

Greedy Granny!

Tomy Greedy Granny Every family has their own funny stories and anecdotes and one of the occasions that my boys remember is when their grandma very kindly came to look after one of them when they were sick - and worked her way through an entire tin of biscuits too! Grandma earned a reputation for being 'greedy' so when my boys saw a new game called 'Greedy Granny' - all about eating biscuits - being advertised, it seemed like an obvious gift idea. Santa was delighted to bring this as a present for my then six year old son for Christmas 2016. The Game Greedy Granny is made under the popular Tomy toy brand and comes in a decent sized box making it ideal for a Christmas or birthday gift. There is a small amount of assembly involved before playing the game each time as the plastic Granny needs to be clicked into position and her tray loaded with all of the little plastic biscuits as well as positioning those all important false teeth into her mouth. In Play This is described as a pre-school game which is in keeping with the age group that Tomy products are normally aimed at. The premise is very simple so I would imagine that kids as young as three years old would be able to grasp the concept and enjoy this one. Essentially, each player takes turn to spin the small plastic spinner provided and has to take the action indicated by the symbols and take one of the biscuits from Granny's tray. This will occasionally involve missing a turn - which can be frustrating to the youngest of players - but ...

HP Power adapter (709985-004) 28/11/2017

I've Got the Power

HP Power adapter (709985-004) Like most family households we have a growing number of different electronic devices purchased to meet the needs of the family at the time and subsequently replaced or upgraded as our needs change. We bought our oldest son his own first laptop at the age of ten and this proved to be a worthwhile purchase at the time providing a source of entertainment through internet access and gaming as well as being invaluable for his homework requirements at the time. This HP Pavilion laptop has subsequently been replaced by a desktop computer for most of these needs so we decided to utilise this (still fully functioning) laptop for my youngest son to use at home for the same purposes. As is often the way, when we came to set this back up the original charger was nowhere to be found and so we had to invest in a replacement power adapter. The Product This is a HP power adapter, model number 709985-004 which fits our HP - Pavilion 15-e078sa 15.6" Laptop, originally purchased in 2013. Sadly these power adapters are not universally fitting across all HP laptops and notebooks which would make life much easier and be helpful to have spares. I did try to see if this would charge my work laptop - having accidentally left my charger at work when I needed to work from home - but the charging point at the end is completely different unfortunately so this won't charge all HP laptops. In Use This power adapter is very straightforward to use and is designed to plug straight into a standard plug ...

Steepletone PSR5 27/11/2017

Penguin FM

Steepletone PSR5 My mum is well known for giving rather unusual and eccentric presents and often chooses to give items that she happens upon in charity shops as gifts. This can result in some great finds or, more usually, some rather random items with little obvious connection to the recipient! The whole family looks forward to receiving presents from my mum as they are rarely boring or run of the mill items and usually raise a smile or two for their obscurity. This novelty radio was one such random present that my then nine year old son received for Christmas. The Product This is a novelty shower radio produced under the Steepletone brand. With the model number PSR5, this unusual radio is designed in the shape of a penguin. I haven't heard of the Steepletone brand before this but they are a UK brand that has been around since the 1970s, making electronic music items such as record players, radios, speakers and CD players. Made out of strong durable plastic, this battery operated radio is designed to be stuck on to bathroom tiles and being splash proof and water resistant can be used whilst in the bath or shower. The likeness to a penguin is very good with this cute character sporting a pair of goggles and a rubber ring. The orange feet and beak make a colourful contrast to the penguin's black and white body and the overall effect is cute and colourful. As ours is second hand, there is visible evidence of fading around the little fella's rubber ring but that aside, the penguin looks bright ...

Aveeno Moisturising Cream 22/11/2017

Get Your Oats!

Aveeno Moisturising Cream I have been plagued with dry and sensitive skin throughout my life and have intermittent episodes of quite severe eczema so I am very mindful about the products that I use on my skin. I have used products from the Aveeno range intermittently over the past few years and find them to be a reliable and effective brand of skin care. The Product This is a moisturising cream produced under the Aveeno brand. Aveeno are an established brand producing a range of moisturising products, creams and lotions as well as products designed specifically for babies and their delicate skin. According to the packaging, "Aveeno® Cream is formulated with Colloidal Oatmeal to actively moisture dry and sensitive skin. Regular use hydrates the skin leaving it feeling comfortable, soft and smooth." Oatmeal has long been recommended as a skin treatment due to its natural moisturising and soothing properties. The packaging (on the tubes as well as the larger sized pump dispensers) is simple with a green and beige colour scheme, in keeping with the supposedly 'natural' ethos behind the brand. The tube has a screw on lid and the cream inside squeezes out readily with a smooth off-white texture and colour. My Experience I was first introduced to this product by my GP who openly admitted that had been given lots of samples of this cream by a medical rep. He had been talking about the best ways to keep my skin adequately moisturised between severe attacks and opened up a drawer that was full of small ...

Do you consult online reviews before making a purchase? 20/11/2017

Spend Your Time and Money Wisely

Do you consult online reviews before making a purchase? Like most households with young children, both money and time seem to be in short supply with increasing demands from all directions. As a consequence, I am always keen to spend both time and money wisely and try to avoid making expensive mistakes. Reading online reviews about potential purchases helps with the decision making process and lets me make informed choices. Where Reviews are Useful to Me Like most people, the more I am anticipating spending on an item and the more crucial it is as a purchase, the more likely I am to consult reviews prior to going ahead. There are certain items that I am much more likely to consider reviews than others. Household Appliances These are expensive purchases and, ideally, an item that will remain in use in the home for a number of years with use on a daily (or certainly frequent) basis. For that reason, I always look at a variety of sources when planning to replace large white goods. Many suppliers such as and Curry's encourage their customers to produce a short review of their experiences with their new appliances on their own sites. These can be a useful source of information and can help to identify patterns and similarities; for example if a number of the reviews talk about an appliance being noisy etc. Where these types of reviews are weaker is that tend to be submitted within a very short period of purchase so don't really offer much insight into the reliability or longevity of a particular appliance. It is also ...

Rayman Legends (Wii U) 18/11/2017

Fun but not Legendary

Rayman Legends (Wii U) With three children in the house, including a teenager, it is almost inevitable that we own a number of different games consoles and the corresponding games. The Wii U console was purchased for my then eight year old son for Christmas 2015 and he has gone on to receive a number of different games as gifts and has chosen a select few using his own Christmas and birthday money. Amongst his chosen games is this Rayman Legends. The Product Rayman is a well established classic computer game character and has featured in a number of games over the years. This particular game, Rayman Legends, is available in various formats including Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One and PS Vita. We only own the game in this Wii U format. This game needs the Wii U gamepad to operate but can also be used in conjunction with other Wii controllers so that up to five players are able to join in at any one time, alongside the online multiplayer options. Game Play Rayman Legends is a sequel to an earlier game, Rayman Origins but that game is not needed in order to play and understand this particular game. My son had no experience with the Rayman series prior to purchasing and playing this game but game play is fairly standard and self-explanatory and he was able to pick up and play the game without any issues. The game is based around the 'Glade of Dreams' which has been taken over by a range of monsters and mythical creatures. Rayman and his friends need to defeat these creatures and rescue the ...

Ravensburger Bugs in the Kitchen 11/11/2017

Got the Game Playing Bug!

Ravensburger Bugs in the Kitchen With three children to buy Christmas presents for I start looking for both ideas and suitable bargains quite early in the year and like to include at least one family type board game that the whole family can enjoy together. I first heard about this 'Bugs in the Kitchen' game via a review here on Ciao and added it as a potential purchase to my Amazon wish list for last Christmas, knowing that the inclusion of a Hexbug Nano would make this a popular choice with my boys. The Product This is a boxed game produced under the popular Ravensburger brand name, suitable for between two to four players. Whilst described as a 'board' game, the entire contents of the box effectively form the board as a 3d maze itself which is a really clever design. The game involves trying to 'trap' a moving bug and earn tokens as a reward. The game includes: * Hexbug Nano inside a little plastic test tube * Game board with 24 movable items of 'cutlery' which form a maze * 18 cockroach tokens * Dice with special cutlery symbols * Cardboard 'trap covers' * Instruction leaflet There is a small amount of assembly needed before the game can be played the first time but this is a once only operation, taking less than ten minutes in total, and the game will then remain set up for the next time. Obviously, as this was a Christmas gift, my youngest was desperate to get this up and running and was a little bit frustrated that he couldn't play with it immediately as there was a lot of other stuff going on ...

Curious George And The Birthday Surprise - Margret Rey 03/11/2017

Curious George and the Birthday Surprise

Curious George And The Birthday Surprise - Margret Rey My youngest son has been a fan of curious George for the past couple of years, enjoying the TV programme and films but had never been introduced to the original books written by husband and wife team Margret Rey and HA Rey. One Christmas, I decided to treat my youngest son to a collection of paperback Curious George books, courtesy of the Book People site and the books have been a popular choice at bedtimes ever since. The Story This is Curious George and the Birthday Surprise featuring the cute little monkey, 'Curious' George, and his owner 'the man with the yellow hat'. Despite the old fashioned illustrations and the setting this isn't actually one of the original books written by Margret and HA Rey in the 1940's but a much more recent story simply using their characters as inspiration and 'illustrated in the style of HA Rey'. In this particular story George is very curious about a special day and a surprise that his owner is organising and is desperate to be involved and 'help out' with typical disastrous and messy results as might be expected from a monkey, however helpful he might try to be. All he needed to do was to stay out of trouble but George can't help joining in with decorating and helping with a spot of cake baking. All that is left is the big reveal about the reason for the celebrations... Age Recommendation This is a simple picture book that should charm toddlers just as much as it does older children able to read and enjoy this independently. The ...

Do you still celebrate Halloween? 29/10/2017

Celebrating at ScareFest

Do you still celebrate Halloween? I must admit that I do enjoy taking part in Halloween celebrations, although not to the extent that some households take things with elaborate and gruesome decorations adorning their properties. Halloween during my childhood and early teens was relatively low key in comparison with modern day celebrations. Trick or Treat This tradition seems to divide opinion but it is an activity that I used to take part in as a child in the late eighties and early nineties. Kids nowadays have it easy hollowing out pumpkins whereas we had to wrestle with the smaller and harder turnips - where the teeth always ended up breaking leaving more of a grimace than planned. We didn't have any of the shop bought costumes available nowadays and had to make do with a black bin bag sellotaped around our bodies and, if we were really lucky, a homemade witch's hat made out of black card. Hard times! This year we have a generously sized pumpkin ready for carving which is tomorrow night's planned activity. My youngest son has been avidly watching YouTube videos showing some amazing carvings. Dave Hax has a lot to answer for! We've got plenty of individually wrapped sweets and lollies at home as we tend to be one of the earliest Treat or Treaters, setting off as soon as it gets dark. We are then back home with our glowing pumpkin welcoming all the other Halloween fans to call for treats. Costume wise, my ten year old has been content to recycle last year's Grim Reaper costume which he's already worn to ...

Rocket Games Pie Face! 21/10/2017

A Contemporary Christmas Classic!

Rocket Games Pie Face! With my kids being quite spread out in age and having different interests and friendship groups, Christmas tends to be one of the few times each year where we will all get together and spend an entire day playing games and sharing activities. For this reason, I always to try to include at least one family type of game within the Christmas gifts that we can all play together. We tend to err on the side of silly games, rather than serious competitive games and Pie Face was one such purchase that went in my shopping trolley in anticipation of Christmas 2015. It has proved such a hit that it is actually becoming quite the family tradition that this game makes an appearance throughout the festive season and all of our extended family members have been acquainted with the joys of Pie Face over the last couple of years. The Game Pie Face became the must have game for Christmas 2015 following a hilarious YouTube video featuring a grandfather and his grandson playing the game which went viral. There is something so engaging about watching other people completely helpless with laughter at the sight of other people getting covered in squirty cream! Pie Face is a very simple concept, which I find usually make the best games. Although listed here as being a Rocket Games product, Hasbro have since acquired the licence for this game - spotting a money making opportunity no doubt- and it is now produced under the Hasbro branding. There is actually very little to this game and the ...
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