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Back again after a lengthy absence - with a new puppy in the house I can only visit here every now and then!

Reviews written

since 11/10/2006


The DASH Diet 30/12/2016

Less of a diet - more a lifestyle change

The DASH Diet This diet offers much more than the chance to lose weight - it will help you to be healthier, fitter and less likely to get some of the awful health problems people experience as they get older. DASH actually stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and my interest was aroused because I had high blood pressure, but , this diet will do a lot more than help with hypertension - it is suggested it can hep to keep the heart healthy and prevent osteoporosis so I suggest that even if you haven't got high blood pressure you should read on ...... If you think about it our diet has changed massively over the last 50 years or so. It is only since around the 1960s that supermarkets have sprung up everywhere, prior to that people shopped at corner shops from a range of foods that didn't include ready meals, highly processed foods or anything like the range we have to choose from now. The trouble is we are paying the price for that change as our bodies struggle to cope. It is little surprise that there is a rise in obesity and some of the chronic health problems we have today where people can be on drugs for a lifetime. How can diet help hypertension? This puzzled me at first but, as I wasn't keen to spend the rest of my life on medication, I was determined to find out. More than that I wanted to know why it was I got high blood pressure in the first place. My GP wasn't much help to be honest. He suggested I cut down on salt (and I do love salt!), lost a bit of weight, got ...

Bissell 30K4E Little Green 14/09/2012

Really effective spot cleaning

Bissell 30K4E Little Green I know it isn't ideal having cream coloured carpets given that I have three cats and two dogs but that is what I do have in a number of rooms and I do like to keep them looking good. I do have a full size carpet shampooer but very often I just have small areas which need spot cleaning and I don't really want to do the whole carpet. To be fair to the pets they are generally very good but the problems I do have stem from when one of the cats decides to produce a fur ball or if someone spills something plus the general marks of everyday living. I heard from a friend in the USA who was extolling the virtues of the Bissell Little Green so I decided to look to see if they were available over here. What is it? The Bissell Little Green is a powerful electric spot cleaner for carpets and upholstery. It has two tanks located on either side of the machine, one for the cleaning solution and the other to collect the dirty water and it comes with hose and cleaning head which incorporates a stiff brush. It offers a strong spray and suction action which you can use to clean up stains and spills very effectively. Cost and availability The machine itself costs around £100 - not cheap I know but I figured if it could keep my carpets and upholstery looking good it would be worth it. There are various places where you can buy it and although I looked first on Amazon I discovered that it was fractionally cheaper buying from Bissell Direct and they were offering free delivery so I opted to buy ...

Morphy Richards Accents One Cup 30/08/2012

Instant hot drinks - well 30 seconds!

Morphy Richards Accents One Cup I know I am a sucker for gadgets and I do love a bargain so when I was shopping in Morrisons and saw a display selling the Morphy Richards One Cup with £15 off I had to stop and have a look. According to the box this little device is capable of boiling enough water for a single cup of tea or coffee in just 30 seconds. Now it is not that I am a huge hurry to have a hot drink but I am very aware that I often put the kettle on to make a drink and have more water in there than I need for a single cup. This is of course wasteful of electricity but for the life of me I never seem to gauge it right. I live alone so most of the time when I use the kettle it is for a single drink and, as I am now retired, that amounts to a significant number of times each day. The RRP of the Morphy Richards One Cup is £35 - which I think is expensive, but the Morrisons deal offered it for just £20 which is around the same as the average kettle so I felt it merited considering. I spent about a minute 'considering' and then put it in my trolley and brought it home eager to try it out. In use It is a very simple device. When I opened the box I found the black One Cup which looks a little 'space age' to me. It stands about 8" high (200mm) and measures around 10" front to back (250mm) with the drip tray in place. Although it comes with a little instruction book the basic process for using it is amply described in pictures on the outside of the box. Fill your cup with cold water, open the top of the ...

Tesco IRSS2010 28/07/2012

Great value, great product

Tesco IRSS2010 I needed a new iron as my old one had given up the ghost after many years of service. I decided to go 'up market' and purchased a lovely new 'non drip' Tefal iron for £36 only to find that it leaked hot water everywhere so I returned it to the shop and decided to look for an alternative - and so it was, as I was doing my weekend shop, that I had a look at the Tesco irons ....... Tesco irons start off at the very bottom of the range as pretty cheap but I did want a steam iron and I noticed that they had a very smart looking, non drip steam iron for just short of £10 which seemed like a pretty good bargain to me especially as I had already had my fingers burnt (and my feet scalded!) going for something more upmarket. I was also pretty confident that if it didn't do the job well I would be able to return it to Tesco fairly easily. Out of the box This iron is quite smart with a colour combination of white and pale green. It came with a handy little instruction book all written in English and very easy to follow (take note Tefal!) The iron was very easy to get ready for use - all I had to do was remove the protective film from the stainless steel soleplate, fill up the water tank using the little jug provided, set the temperature and I was ready to go. The iron wasn't especially heavy so it was easy to use and it glided over my washing so that in no time at all I had a little pile of properly ironed clothes. The iron has a variety of features: *Anti drip system *Anti scale ...

Duvet and Pillow Warehouse Luxury Mulberry Silk Duvet 27/07/2012

Keeps you warm and cosy but not sweaty

Duvet and Pillow Warehouse Luxury Mulberry Silk Duvet I much prefer a duvet to traditional bedding but I have always found it difficult to ensure I am warm enough without getting overheated. I saw silk filled duvets advertised on TV and decided I wanted to know more about them so I did a bit of research to find out more. About the concept Firstly these duvets have a silk filling in a cotton casing and they are a lot thinner than the fibre filled duvets and yet they do keep you warm. Because they have a cotton outer they don't slide about but sit happily in your duvet cover and stay in place as much as any duvet. Like traditional duvets you can get them in various tog ratings to suit the seasons but because the filling is silk it is a natural product which wicks away moisture so you don't get sweaty during the night. I discovered that although they are much thinner than the synthetic filled duvets that doesn't mean they don't keep you just as warm and I would imagine that they are ideal if you suffer from allergies although I haven't been able to test that as I am not allergic myself. Testing the duvet I ordered mine from Duvet and Pillow Warehouse on the internet as their prices were very competitive. They had a deal on which enabled me to buy a Double Autumn weight duvet for £66 which I thought was very reasonable especially as a TV shopping channel was selling them for over £100 and wasn't giving a tog rating on theirs! It took a couple of weeks to arrive but the web site had warned that this particular duvet was out ...

Tefal FV5331 26/07/2012

Drip free? Well maybe not!

Tefal FV5331 I needed a new iron, my old Tefal iron had finally given up the ghost so I decided it was time to invest my hard earned cash in a new model so off I trotted to the shops to look for a replacement. There was a wide selection to choose from but all I really wanted was a new steam iron that would do the job. I spotted this Tefal model it seemed to be ideal for the job, it had a steam feature, a shot of steam and would allow vertical operation and proudly boasted it had a feature to stop it from dripping plus it had a ceramic soleplate. It was also available at a price reduction from the recommended price so I paid my £35.99 and took it home eager to try it out. Out of the box The iron was a smart white and ice blue model and came with a set of instructions aimed at people of all nationalities. So what they tended to do was provide pictures with either crosses or tick to show the correct way to do things. That is perhaps fine if you have the time and inclination to do a puzzle but that wasn't what I wanted. I wanted an iron I could plug in and use without a jolly game to explain how to do it. I thought it couldn't be hard to use an iron, after all I have been using a steam iron for years so I put the water in and got out the pile of ironing. Big mistake, as soon as I started to use it water started pouring out of the bottom, hot water, all over the ironing board and dripping off the edges. Not good, especially with a new puppy in the house. I certainly didn't want an iron ...

Vodafone Sure Signal 15/05/2012

Improve your Vodafone Mobile Signal

Vodafone Sure Signal I live in a rural area and mobile phone reception isn't good. The best reception seems to be with Vodafone but even then the signal is patchy around the house so when I wanted to upgrade my phone to 3G I was a bit worried about how well it would work and whether it would be worth going on to a contract if I wanted to use the phone at home as well as out and about. Whilst doing some research online I found details of the Vodafone Sure Signal and it seemed like it might be just what I needed.What is it?Basically it is a little box which attaches to your broadband router which improves the signal on your mobile all around your home. It works for up to 30 phones so it is useful for all the family and visitors as well if you want. It is available from Vodafone and only works with Vodafone phones so if family use other providers it won't help and it only works for 3G phones so is no good for old handsets.It costs £50 which is a one off cost, there is no monthly rental, so although it isn't cheap to buy I decided that if it improved reception in the long run it might be worth having.Out of the boxThe contents of the box are very straightforward, you get the Sure Signal unit, a power cable, a network cable and the instructions. The first thing you need to do is to go online to the Vodafone web site a register your Sure Signal and provide details of the mobile numbers that will use it. It is easy to add on additional orders later so you don't need to list them all at this stage. ...

Member Advice on Dog Agility 01/05/2012

Fun fitness training for dogs and owners

Member Advice on Dog Agility When I semi retired a couple of years ago I bought myself a little dog and at the back of my mind I decided it might be fun to get a dog I could 'do something' with. So that woman and dog could be a partnership, having fun together. I had previously been involved in the dog show world and didn't fancy going back down that route so that left me with a few other alternatives. They were, obedience, flyball or dog agility. Whilst I have huge admiration for the people who do obedience I didn't really think it was my cup of tea as it is quite rigid in terms of how the dog must behave and given that dogs often take after their owners ............... .. well enough said! I looked at flyball as a possibility but the thing I really wanted to try out was agility. It looked fairly easy, the dogs looked like they enjoyed it and I figured I might be able to enjoy it too so I started trying to find out more.Getting startedMy first step was to look on the internet (of course) to see what I could find out and I was lucky enough to find which has a whole wealth of information as does and between the two of them I discovered that you shouldn't start training a dog to do agility until they are at least a year old (to allow them to fully develop their bones and muscles) and you can't compete until they at least 18 months old. That gave me enough time to teach him the basics every dog needs to know like coming when called, sit, stay etc which is what I did.As he ...

Winter Trax Shoe Grips 14/02/2012

Safe walking in the Winter

Winter Trax Shoe Grips Last Winter when we had an extended cold spell I really struggled to walk on the roads around here with the dog as the hard packed snow was very icy and it was difficult to keep upright. At the end of the Winter I bought some Winter Trax shoes grips from QVC in anticipation of another hard Winter. I was beginning to this that I would not get to use them until last week when we got 6" snowfall overnight and suddenly Winter had arrived with a vengeance. I hunted in the cupboard, found the Winter Trax and put them over my dog walking boots to test them out.Using the Winter TraxThey are easy enough to fit - basically they are a shaped rubber mesh which you hook over the toe of your shoes and pull the heel tab to fit them over the heel. On the sole they have coiled metal over the rubber mesh which crosses in the centre of the sole and it is this coiled metal which gives you the grip on icy surfaces. Once you have hooked the mesh over the base of your shoe you fasten a little velcro strap across the top of your shoe to make sure that they stay in place as you walk.They recommend that you do not use them on tarmac or concrete but only use them on snow and ice. I found that where there were a few patches where the snow was clear it wasn't a problem to walk across in them although you are aware that they are there and obviously you wouldn't want to use them unless there was snow around. It is also recommended that if over time the coils get flattened you can pinch them again to ensure ...

Honestech VHS to DVD 5.0 Deluxe 16/01/2012

Save those old VHS videos and watch them on your PC or TV

Honestech VHS to DVD 5.0 Deluxe Over the years I have managed to keep lots of interesting moments in my life on video but, now that I no longer use my VHS player, it occurred to me that if I didn't do something with the tapes they could be lost forever. I know there are services that will transfer VHS to DVD but as many of mine were just little short clips I really wanted to do the job myself. I went on to the internet to look for options and I discovered the Honestech VHS to DVD package at Maplin for less than £50, it seemed to do what I wanted it to do so I placed my order. In due course it arrived so I proceeded to gather together my old videos with a view to storing them for the future.Out of the boxIt duly arrived and it didn't take me long to open the package to see what I had got. In the pack was a little box about 4" x 3" x1" thick which is the hardware used for transfer, there were two leads one is the USB connection lead to the PC and the other is for the input from the VHS player and has three connectors on each end (red, yellow and white). Also included was a SCART connector in case the input device has a SCART socket. There was also an instruction leaflet and a disc containing the software.My first taks was to install the software on to my laptop and within minutes that was complete. Next I connected the cable between my TV with built in VHS player and the Honestech box and then connected the Honestech box to the laptop. I started the software and had the choice of using either the Easy Wizard ...

On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals - Turid Rugaas 03/01/2012

If you have a dog you should read this book

On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals - Turid Rugaas I have had dogs for years and like to think I get on pretty well with them but the dog I have at the moment can be a bit of a challenge sometimes even though I do spend a lot of time with him. We are now heavily into doing agility together and I get to meet lots of other doggy people that way and we exchange knowledge. I can't remember who it was who first suggested I read the book about Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas but having heard about it from a couple of people I thought it might be worth a look to see what was different about her ideas on training. Having read it (and it is a small book so that doesn't take long) I must confess to being very much a convert. What she says makes a great deal of sense and seems to be by far the kindest way to interact with dogs. About the author Turid Rugaas is a Norwegian dog trainer and behaviourist. She starts the book be relating a story about one of her own dogs who is able to calm even the most aggressive dogs by using her own body signals to calm the other dog. Turid has used her observation of her own dogs to understand the various signals dogs give to each other when they meet which are aimed at avoiding confrontation. The Calming Signals Turid uses this book to explain all the 'calming signals' she has observed in dogs and how we can use them to develop a better relationship with dogs and help those with behavioural problems. The signals she has identified include head turning, play bow, down, yawning, sniffing, curving, ...

Finn Geotherm 16/12/2011

Specialists in innovative heating

Finn Geotherm Having worked in the building industry for most of my life I do like to keep up with modern developments. As energy costs rise I think it is important to develop more efficient systems and some time ago I started looking at the options that might be available when the time came to replace my old oil fired heating system. I live in an area with no gas supply and I had an oil boiler situated on an outside wall but over the years the costs of heating oil have risen very steeply so I really wanted to use something else if possible. LPG was an option but like oil prices the costs of LPG have risen so I discounted that which really only left me with a choice between solid fuel (wood or coal) or electricity. I am aware that there have been major advances in heating design in recent years and I got chatting to a design engineer I know about the options. He spoke very positively about heat pumps and how they were being used more often these days in domestic dwellings. I had heard of ground source heat pumps before but wasn't aware of the developments in Air Source Heat Pumps until he started telling me all about them and the advantages of them. I resolved to find out more and did a considerable amount of research on the internet about how they work and the comparative costs against other fuel types and began to believe that they represented a realistic alternative for me. Basically an air source heat pump is like a large air conditioning unit in reverse. It draws in air and ...

Lampoassa Air Source Heat Pump V 7-10 14/12/2011

An energy efficient way of heating

Lampoassa Air Source Heat Pump V 7-10 Heat Pumps represent a new way of heating homes and offices although few people know much about them. Some have heard of Ground Source Heat Pumps but in my experience fewer people have heard about Air Source Heat Pumps. Heat pumps come in three varieties that I am aware of: * Ground Source, * Water Source * Air Source. In essence a heat pump works by taking heat from somewhere (either the ground, water or the air) and converting it into greater heat that you can use to heat your home. I have recently had a Lampoassa Air Source Heat Pump installed at my home to replace my old oil boiler so this review provides details of the system, how it works, why I made the change and how it is working in practice. Basically the principle behind heat pumps is that they are much more efficient than most traditional forms of heating. Normally for every kilowatt of heat you put into a system you get about a kilowatt back however with every one kilowatt used by a heat pump you can get between 3 and 4 kilowatts back so they have an efficiency of around 1:3. If that has captured your interest then please read on - heat pumps aren't for everyone but I think we will all hear more about them as time goes on. Air Source Heat Pumps - what are they and how do they work? Quite simply they generate heat from the air outside using the same principle as a domestic fridge or air conditioning system in reverse. As you have probably noticed as your fridge cools its interior it passes heat out ...

Proline PFZ 90 WA 12/12/2011

Good value freezer

Proline PFZ 90 WA I needed a new freezer and I needed it quickly, I had bought one from Argos that wasn't working properly and I was worried all my frozen food was going to waste so I was determined to find something asap. I am not far from Comet so I figured as I only wanted a small upright freezer to fit under a worktop it shouldn't be too difficult to find something to suit my requirements. It needed to be white and fairly narrow as I was short of space so I went online to see what models were available and spotted the Proline PFZ90WA. Specification This model has a capacity of 2.26 cubic metres which is in three plastic pull out drawers. I do prefer solid drawers so that if anything breaks out of the packaging (such as a few frozen peas) they don't end up going through all the levels. I also prefer drawers to shelves as I think it makes it easier to find things when you need them which is why I also prefer upright freezers to chest freezers. It is 48 cm wide and 50 cm deep and would thus fit easily into the space I had available and at just 84 cm high it will fit under a kitchen worktop. It also has a fast freeze facility, a reversible door (should you need to change it) and it is rated A in terms of energy efficiency. It has a 4 star freezer rating and a noise level of 32 dB which is relatively quiet. In use I checked that Comet had the freezer in stock, reserved it online and then set off to get it. I loaded it into the car and took it home and left it to 'settle' for a few hours ...

Frigidaire FCL1008H 12/12/2011

Handy little mixer

Frigidaire FCL1008H Now that I have a bit more time on my hands I thought it would be fun to do a bit more baking and whilst I am perfectly capable of mixing by hand it is useful to have a bit of mechanical help now and again. I didn't want to go to the expense of buying a big food mixer/processor as it would be a bit of a waste in my house so I just wanted a simple hand mixer that would whisk and do cake mixtures. I decided to do a quick search on Amazon to see what was on the market and there was certainly quite a lot of choice. I didn't want to pay too much but I did want something that was robust enough to mix cakes and the little Frigidaire model caught my eye. Features I wasn't looking for a wide range of features and for around £20 I didn't expect a lot but what I liked about the Frigidaire FCL1008H was that it came with two whisks and two dough hooks both of which are made of stainless steel and not plastic. Plastic might be fine for whisking cream but I doubt it would cope with creaming butter and sugar for a cake mix and I didn't want something that would break after a couple of uses. It uses 200W which is modest enough if you are worried about the rising costs of electricity and yet it is powerful enough to do the job. It also has variable speeds, five of them plus a 'turbo' option which is more than enough for my needs. It is a smart silver colour which will blend with most kitchen decor even though it spends most of its time in a cupboard! They do provide a basic instruction ...
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