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Can't believe it's been a year! Time to tentatively dip my toes back in the Ciao waters.

Reviews written

since 30/10/2010


Miele S 8310 02/01/2014

This Miele sucks .... but in a good way!

Miele S 8310 When my old Dyson finally died, I resolved that I would replace it with a better brand. After two Dysons, both of which failed to live up to their marketing hype, it was definitely time to check out the competition. Although I'd initially intended to buy a Henry, I decided to research some other brands as well. I'd hoped to buy British but, sadly, the British manufacturing industry is just about dead on its feet and the British Mr Dyson has already failed me twice, besides which they're built somewhere in the Far East these days making them not quite as British as they should be. Of course, before making a final decision I first referred to a few of the reviews from that star vacuum reviewer, Nar2, who is definitely a champion of the Miele brand. Having done my homework, I did eventually plump for a Miele, the S8310 Power Plus cylinder model, which is small, relatively light and yet, punches well above its weight. The fact that it's a Which Best Buy was the clincher. I was not disappointed with my choice. Price: As a premium brand, this means that the vacuum does come with a premium price attached but it's possible to get pretty good discounts online. I bought mine through Peter Tyson Appliances (a fantastic supplier who offers free next day delivery and the best price on the internet I could find.) I paid £149 including the free delivery. This may still seem a pretty hefty price compared to the average vacuum cleaner but it's considerably less than a Dyson and after a few ...

The Tempest (DVD) 28/01/2013

I give this a full fathom three out of five

American Soul - Mick Hucknall 17/11/2012

Sorry, Mick, but you ain't got soul

20 - Kate Rusby 16/11/2012

Twenty of Kate's best?

20 - Kate Rusby Kate Rusby must surely be one of British music's best kept secrets. Although very well known amongst folk music fans, she's never really hit the dizzy heights of chart fame (unless you count her duet with Ronan Keating on his single 'All Over Again' which made the top ten) and neither has she gained the recognition one as talented as she deserves. Unless you're a folk buff or a fan of Ronan Keating the chances are you've never heard of her, though you've more than likely heard her version of the Kinks' 'Village Green Preservation Society', used as the theme tune for the sit-com 'Jam and Jerusalem' Born into a musical family, Kate's been immersed in the folk scene all her life and she played in several bands featuring other luminaries from the folk circuit such as Seth Lakeman and Cara Dillon before striking out on her own. Her first solo album 'Hourglass' received critical acclaim and some ten albums later, including one nominated for the Mercury Prize, she's released an album to commemorate her twenty years in the music business. As the album also showcases 20 songs, unsurprisingly it's entitled '20'. The album was produced by her husband Damien O'Kane who also plays guitar on the album. The 2-disc CD is currently on sale for £8.99 or it can be downloaded for £8.49. An additional incentive to buying the album is that it features guest appearances from such people as Paul Weller, Eddi Reader and Richard Thompson of Fairport Convention to name but three and The Grimethorpe ...

The Turning - Jennifer Armintrout 09/11/2012

Blood is thicker than water

Tesco BV012011 2500W BLOW VAC 26/10/2012

This blower sucks!

Regency Buck - Georgette Heyer 16/10/2012

A sure fire cure for the reading Doldrums

Leighton Denny Supermodel 18/09/2012

Supermodel nails!

Leighton Denny Supermodel Over the last year or so I've become a huge fan of Leighton Denny nail products and now have several colours from his vast range of nail polishes. The colour I keep returning to, however, is the one which goes with absolutely everything and that is Supermodel, a mid-beige neutral shade. For those who've never heard of him, Leighton Denny is an acknowledged and award winning expert on nail care and as well as being manicurist to the stars, he's also developed his own range of nail products which includes his very effective Renovate Cream which is a nail resurfacing treatment as well as his range of nail polishes featuring every colour under the sun and many more besides that you've never dreamed of, so there's a colour to suit everyone and in all the usual finishes whether it's elegant creams, shiny metallics or shimmering opalescents. His range includes several neutral shades which go with everything but for me Supermodel just has the edge. The full range of colours can be found on his website (address at the end of this review.) The Supermodel shade was first introduced as a limited edition colour but the response to its introduction was so overwhelming that the colour has now been added into the Leighton Denny permanent range and is not only a best seller but the most popular colour of all the shades on offer. It's a warm mushroom beige and because it's such a neutral shade, it complements any outfit from super casual jeans and t-shirt right up to evening wear. In fact, ...

Braun Oral-B ProfessionalCare 1000 27/08/2012

Not all the bells and whistles but plenty of flashing lights

Touch - Mark Sennen 03/08/2012

A crime novel that's a touch above the rest

Touch - Mark Sennen Synopsis: Devon may be mainly regarded as a tourist paradise of cream teas, sandy beaches and wild and ruggedly beautiful scenery both on the coast and inland, but in Plymouth, one that county’s principle cities, there is currently a spate of violent assaults on young female students and the police are under pressure to produce results in the shape of a conviction. When a body is washed up onto a local beach, murder enters the equation but D I Charlotte Savage soon discovers that the murderer she’s hunting isn’t prepared to stop at just one crime. My opinion: I bought 'Touch' from Amazon based on the number of positive reviews it’s received. In the past, I’ve been disappointed by some of the Kindle only books that I’ve downloaded, even those which have had good reviews, but after reading the sample on the Amazon website, I decided this looked a cut above the rest and 99p wasn’t exactly going to break the bank. As far as I’m aware, ‘Touch’ is the first book Mark Sennen has published. It’s certainly the first in a proposed series which will feature Detective Inspector Charlotte Savage and I can’t wait for book number two. The author lives in Devon so he’s created a story set in a landscape that’s familiar to him and which certainly gives this novel authenticity and it should appeal to anyone with a detailed knowledge of Devon and Dartmoor in particular. I’m not sure how accurate his portrayal of police procedures may be but it comes across as totally ...

History Of Fairport Convention, The - Fairport Convention 26/07/2012

More truthfully, an early history of Fairport Convention

Words for You - Various Artists 08/07/2012

Words for you, perhaps, but not for me.

Words for You - Various Artists In theory, beautiful words accompanied by beautiful music should be a match made in Heaven. In reality, it can turn out to be a case of the one cancelling out the other and with Words for You, I found it to be rather more of the latter. This was a gift and though one shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, I’ve really not appreciated this CD quite as much as the giver expected me to do. The fault may lie with me, of course, but I find that words and music work best in song format where the two elements combine into one coherent whole and not where the listener is torn between hearing the words or listening to the music. One also shouldn’t ask how much a present cost but I’ve checked on Amazon and it’s currently selling for £4.49. This album provides 27 tracks of some of the most beautiful poetry ever written plus one passage from the Bible, all very competently, and sometimes superbly read by British actors. Don’t worry; I’m not going to review each track individually, just cherry pick what I found to be the best and the worst aspects of the album. The main difficulty for me is that although acknowledging poetry is written to be read aloud, I feel some poems are best kept inside the reader’s head where they can be given whatever form of interpretation the reader wishes. Some of the poems read here are particular favourites of mine and the vocal interpretation given by the reader isn’t how I’d imagined they would sound if read aloud and they simply don’t resonate ...

Life Goes On (Live Recording) - Gerry Rafferty 02/07/2012

Gerry Rafferty's music lives on

Life Goes On (Live Recording) - Gerry Rafferty Following his stint in the Humblebums and Steelers Wheel, Gerry Rafferty went solo and garnered the biggest hit of his entire career, the mostly autobiographical Baker Street, which was reputed to give him a very comfortable living ever after from the royalties alone. Whether his constant striving to equal or better that song over the following years had any bearing on his slow descent into alcoholism, I can’t say, but there’s no denying that his fondness for the drink led to his somewhat early death aged 63 at the beginning of last year. His death was a great shame as it had seemed as though he had put his personal problems behind him and was getting his life back on track. In 2009 he’d released this album which included not only a few new songs but also reprised some of his earlier work, covered a Beatles song and even gave us a piece of religious plainsong and a couple of Christmas carols. The album doesn’t quite take the listener from the sacred to the profane but it’s a curiously pleasant melange of the spiritual, the religious and the secular. I can’t review this CD without mentioning the cover which is absolutely beautiful. Designed by John Byrne, in shades of bronze and turquoise, and depicting carved early Christian images bordered by filigree flowers, it’s a piece of art in itself and that’s before we even get to the music. The 18 track CD begins with a religious piece, demonstrating that Gerry was still a good Catholic boy at heart. It’s the rather mournful ...

Crocus spiral peanut feeder 30/06/2012

Almost squirrel proof

Crocus spiral peanut feeder Although I frequently bemoan the fact that the trees which border my garden cast it into dappled shade making it difficult to grow some plants, one of the benefits is that it brings a wealth of wildlife into the garden ranging from foxes and hedgehogs to a wide variety of birds. To ensure the birds keep coming, I’ve installed the obligatory bird table as well as having lots of nut and seed feeders dotted around. Sadly, as well as ‘nice’ animals and birds, the free food also attracts those pesky squirrels. (Anybody who thinks they’re cute, doesn’t have to contend with their nasty thieving and very destructive ways.) I’ve a couple of so called squirrel-proof feeders which allow the smaller birds access to the nuts and seeds whilst discouraging the squirrels but as there are a couple of woodpeckers who regularly visit the garden, I wanted a more robust nut feeder without a squirrel guard which would, hopefully, withstand any attack by squirrels, for a little while at least. Price and availability: I spotted this peanut feeder on the gardening website for £5.99 and it looked as though it was more robust than the run of the mill wire mesh peanut feeders so I hoped it would last a little longer. Although it’s listed on Ciao as being from Crocus, it’s actually a Gardman product and is sold through several websites besides Crocus as well as at some branches of Robert Dyas and various garden centres and it can probably be picked up for a little less than I ...

Soulless - Gail Carriger 22/06/2012

A lady who's all heart but no soul

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