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since 18/07/2003


DeLonghi HVF3553TB Fan Heater 01/02/2014

This DeLonghi Fan heater is ideal for a quick blast of heat

DeLonghi HVF3553TB Fan Heater I've had a DeLonghi HVF3553TB Fan heater stored away in my utility room for a few years but it is something that I only use occasionally. During the cold winter months my central heating system warms up my house sufficiently but even though I've just replaced my boiler last year for one of the most economical ones available it still isn't very economical to turn the central heating on for short periods. This is where my portable fan heater comes into its own.  The DeLonghi HVF3553TB Fan heater is small and compact and relatively lightweight. It can be easily tucked away out of sight for most of the year and I usually forget that it is there until there is a bit of a chill in the air.  It operates on the mains electric supply and produces 3kw of heat. The wire on the plug is quite short (about a metre long) but this isn't a problem for me as I have plenty of plug sockets in the areas that I use it. It could of course be used with an extension lead to reach those more isolated areas and indeed I used it frequently a couple of years ago in my loft when I decided to renovate it during the winter months.  The fan heater is an upright model that sits on an on a base. There is a button on the base that is used to turn the oscillating mode on or off and this is described as a foot switch, as it can be easily operated with your foot meaning that you don't need to crouch down to operate it. This is obviously an ideal feature for the elderly or infirm.  There are three different ...

Acuter ST16 48x65A Angled Spotting Scope 25/01/2014

I spy with my little eye

Acuter ST16 48x65A Angled Spotting Scope I’ve owned a telescope and tripod since I was about 16 years old, since the early days of my membership of the YOC (Young Ornithologists Club) and my later progression as an fully fledged (pardon the pun) birder with the RSPB and my local bird club the SBSG (Sheffield Bird Study Group). For years I’d owned a rather expensive Bushnell telescope but then about 3 years ago this was stolen in a house burglary and even though my telescope didn’t get much use by then, I still knew that as soon as I could afford to do so that I would replace it. I don’t do much bird watching these days so I didn’t want to pay too much for something that would only get used a few times a year but I started looking around to see what was available and eventually I purchased an Acuter ST16 48x65A Angled Spotting Scope for just under £150. Whilst Acuter is a well known brand in the manufacture of telescopes and binoculars it was not a brand I’d had any experience with before so prior to my purchase I sought the advise of a local specialist shop that let me look at this model amongst others and test it out. This particular model is a dual speed spotting scope and comes with a large focus wheel which is used to locate your object and zoom into it and then there is a smaller wheel that you can adjust to fine tune the focus. These wheels have a soft rubber coating and there are grooves to help you grip and turn them easily. The main selling features for me was the general appearance of the body, which ...

Buster Bathroom Drain Clear 03/01/2014

A simple way to unblock plugholes

Air Wick Mulled Wine and Cinnamon Apple Air Freshener 31/12/2013

The smell of Christmas

Air Wick Mulled Wine and Cinnamon Apple Air Freshener As the festive period ends and a New Year beckons my house is still full of things that remind me of the Christmas that has just passed - these include the Christmas tree, cards on the wall and a can of Air Wick Mulled Wine and Cinnamon Apple Air Spray tucked away in the corner of my living room. Air Wick produce a wide range of different fragrances that come in all different forms from candles, plug ins etc but this particular fragrance is in a metal canister and comes in the form of a spray. It is produced specifically for the festive period and was in the shops last year but has now re-appeared and has been re-packaged in a slightly more festive looking can, which is predominantly red and green in colour with a picture of an apple and cinnamon on the front. It is part of Air Wick’s Touch of Luxury range and this logo is also displayed across the front. The can doesn’t have a removable lid but instead has a design that incorporates an open front that allows the spray to be released when the plastic top part of the can is pressed. I’ve found that three quick squirts are sufficient to release enough of the spray into my room and the first thing that you will notice is that the fragrance is quite powerful. I love the smell of mulled wine at Christmas time because it reminds me of the Christmas markets and this fragrance really is quite close to the real smell. The cinnamon combines with the apple to give a warm scent with a spicy kick and the aroma lingers for a surprisingly ...

Brillo Soap Pads 29/12/2013

Brilliant Brillo Pads

Brillo Soap Pads When it comes to household cleaning products there are so many different ones available these days that it's often difficult to know what to choose but Brillo Pads are a product my mother always used (and still does) and keeping with tradition I have always used them to.  Brillo Pads are small rectangular pads that are made of fine metal mesh and they contain a pink coloured cleaning product, which when mixed with water produces a pink coloured lather. As a kid I remember scrubbing the oven racks as part of my chores and I never really like the feel of these, but I have to admit they seemed to make the blackened metal racks gleam silver again. I think part of my dislike for these things was probably a combination of having to do chores I didn't want to do and the fact that they are very messy to use. So whilst my mother's oven racks might have been left sparkling my hands were a sludgy brownish, pinky mess. Having said that the mess always washed off quickly, but they left my hands feeling dry.  I recently decided to give my own oven a thorough clean and I never considered using anything other than Brillo pads for this task. I know that there are so called miracle sprays that you supposedly just spray, leave and wipe but I get the impression these must contain pretty harsh chemicals to be so effective. Brillo pads are not miracle pads so you do you need to be prepared to use a good deal of physical effort. The advantages of these pads are however that they are much cheaper ...

Eurax Cream Stops Itching Fast 29/12/2013

Eurax Cream really does stop itching fast

Eurax Cream Stops Itching Fast I was first introduced to Eurax Cream when I returned from holiday and discovered that a mosquito bite on my leg had swelled to the size of a small boiled sweet. My local pharmacist recommended a tube of Eurax, which was available over the counter and even though I hadn’t heard of this product before I was willing to give it a try on her recommendation. The product is specifically designed to reduce the sensation of itchiness and it claims on the packaging to provide relief for up to 10 hours, which seemed like quite a bold claim. The Pharmacist told me that although my bite looked nasty it didn’t actually look like it was infected so she suggested that I also took anti histamines too until the swelling started to go down. I think I paid about £6 for a 50g tube of Eurax cream, but combined with the anti-histamines there wasn’t much change out of a tenner. The cream is also available in smaller 30g tubes but I didn’t realise this at the time. The product comes in a tube packaged inside a predominantly white coloured rectangular cardboard box. The tube itself is quite small in comparison to its bulky box so once I’d noticed that the same instructions were displayed on the tube itself I quickly disposed of the packaging. The tube has a screw off cap that has a pointed end to it to enable the foil seal to be easily broken when you use it for the first time, so I was reassured to know that the cream was sterile. Applying the cream was very easy and only a very tiny amount ...

Birds of Seychelles - Adrian Skerrett, Ian Bullock, Tony Disley 06/12/2013

A handy book on the birds of the Seychelles

Birds of Seychelles - Adrian Skerrett, Ian Bullock, Tony Disley I wanted to buy a bird book of the birds of the Seychelles before my trip there so I looked around at what was available and discovered that there have actually been very few books published on the subject. This surprised me somewhat since the Seychelles is home to at least 12 endemic species of bird found nowhere else on earth. After a brief online search I found and purchased Birds of Seychelles by Adrian Skerret and Tony Fisley, which is part of The Helm Field Guides series of books. The Helm Field Guides have been around since the 1980’s and include around a 100 different titles. They are trusted and praised by ornithologists worldwide but their simple format also ensures that they appeal also to those that have a more casual interest in birds as well. The copy I purchased features a pair of Paradise Flycatchers on its front cover (one of the archipelagos endemic species) and was first published in 2011. This particular book is an updated version of an earlier Helm Field Guide also confusingly called Birds of Seychelles but written solely by Adrian Skerret on his own. The two versions whilst similar should not be confused, the earlier version being first published in 2001 and featuring a Magpie Robin (another endemic species of it’s cover). You might wonder if it was really necessary to publish a new version of what is essentially an earlier book just a decade later but the world of birds has changed dramatically during those few years. Advances in DNA has meant that ...

Tipp-Ex Rapid Fluid 27/10/2013

Top tips for using Tipp-Ex

Tipp-Ex Rapid Fluid There can’t be too many people around that have worked in an office that aren’t familiar with Tipp-Ex correction fluid. The stationary cupboard at my place of work always has a plentiful supply on the shelf but in these days of computers and our IT department’s quest for a paperless environment I’m surprised how popular it still is (and that my company still continues to buy it). Tipp-Ex has been around since the late 1950’s when a German company developed it as a correction aid for typists. Whilst the company has launched many other products since to compliment its range, the original correction fluid that comes in a hard white plastic bottle with a screw off cap has changed very little over the decades. These days Tipp-Ex is manufactured in France and is part of the BIC Group, who are a well known name in the world of stationary and general office supplies. The bottle that I currently have on my desk bears a blue stick on label with the words “Rapid” and “Extra coverage” on it. This is doubtless some marketing strategy to trick me into thinking it is some kind of revamped wonder product but I think it’s probably the same stuff I first dabbed on my school paperwork 30 years ago. The correction fluid inside the bottle contains 20ml of a runny white liquid and when you unscrew the cap you will find that there is an applicator attached to it, this is a design that is similar to the bottles that nail varnish come in. The applicator has a foam sponge tip and this is used to ...

Pets at Home Non Clumping Wood Pellet Cat Litter 13/10/2013

I've finally found a decent cat litter at Pets at Home

Pets at Home Non Clumping Wood Pellet Cat Litter I think I’ve tried just about every kind of cat litter that exists from the very cheap supermarket own brands to very expensive ones but the one that I now buy most often is Lightweight Non Clumping Wood Pellet Cat Litter which I buy from Pets at Home. I buy the large 30 litre bags, which are usually available on offer for £18 for two. The litter is also available in smaller 5 litre and 15 litre bags if you have limited storage space. These large 30 litre bags are normally individually priced at £9.99 each. I have two cats but they both go outdoors so they only tend to use the litter at night or when they are lazy and refuse to go out (usually because it’s raining). Two of these large bags therefore usually last me about 5 months but the recommendation on the packaging says that a bag of this size should be sufficient for one cat for 35 days. This cat litter comes in a large plastic bag which thankfully is quite strong as each 30 litre bags weighs about 18 kgs . There’s no fancy packaging so it’s just a white plastic bag with green writing on it. Unfortunately there is no carrying handle so these bags aren’t very easy to lift so you do need to be careful when lifting them. This is not only because you could do yourself an injury but also because the plastic is quite flexible and if you try and lift it from the top corners when it’s stood upright it will stretch and risk splitting. Storing these bags could also be a problem for some people but I have a large walk in ...

Stabilo Boss Highlighters 03/10/2013

Happy highlighting

Stabilo Boss Highlighters Stabilo Boss highlighter pens are an item that I have used at my workplace on an almost daily basis for the last 20 years and there is always a regular supply of these to be found in the stationary cupboard. We have tried other cheaper brands, some of which are available at a fraction of the cost but we always seem to quickly return to this brand. Part of my job involves checking and approving architect plans so I use these highlighter pens to highlight specific areas on drawings and also to mark off an item once it has been counted and I've double checked that it appears on our tender. Some of our projects can have over a hundred different layout plans and without the ability to identify things in this way it would be impossible to know what I had checked and what I hadn't. These pens are available in a range of different colours and our stationary cupboard is usually stocked with yellow, green, blue and orange ones but it is the yellow ones that I use most frequently. The yellow markers don't only produce a bright mark on the paper that stands out clearly against an otherwise black and white background, but unlike the other colours they do not leave any trace when the drawing has been photocopied or scanned in black and white. The pens are made of light plastic and have an elongated rectangular shape that makes them easy to grip. The body of the pen is the same vivid colour as the highlighter nib so unless you are colour blind it's very unlikely that you would chose the ...

Radox Bath Salts 29/09/2013

Relax with Radox bath salts

Radox Bath Salts In a world full of modern remedies, it is still sometimes the case that the old remedies that Granny recommended are still the best and Radox Bath Salts are a product that for me falls into this category. Yes my Granny did swear by ‘em but so did my parents too and as a kid from a sports mad family there was always a packet of these in the bathroom cabinet for those uncomfortable aches and pains. Radox have been making herbal products to soothe aches and pains since 1908 but it is the original bath salts I still frequently buy and swear by. These days Radox is part of the Unilever group of companies, but like many of the companies under the Unilever umbrella it has managed to maintain its unique Radox brand. I’m fortunate in that I don’t suffer from too many aches and pains and touchwood I’ve never really had back problems but I do a lot of walking and sometimes my calf muscles ache and this is when I like to run a nice hot bath and pour in these salts. These salts are small powder like crystals which are blue and white in colour and as soon as they hit the hot water they dissolve rapidly. They don’t create much of a froth or any bubbles and you just need a couple of shakes to do the job (about two handfuls). The blue crystals do give the water an initial light blue tinge but they also provide a nice fresh aroma of lavender and other floral undertones, but these are quite subtle and by no means overpowering. I find the smell of these salts really help you relax and ...

Lynx Dry Africa Anti-Perspirant Roll-On 22/09/2013

Anti-Perspirant with a hint of Africa

Lynx Dry Africa Anti-Perspirant Roll-On I’ve recently rediscovered roll on antiperspirants after taking them on holiday with me and I’m currently using Lynx Dry Africa which I picked up on offer for 2 for £2. I like the compact design of the product, which is modern and eye catching and the shiny silver label on the front of the black package leaves you in no doubt as to what it is. For those that don’t know antiperspirants and deodorants act in completely different ways. Antiperspirants contain chemicals that restrict the sweat glands and minimise the amount of sweat that the body produces. Whilst deodorants allow the sweat to be released but combat this with agents that kill the bacteria that produces the odour. I believe that the production of sweat is a natural function that should only be suppressed for short periods so I only use an antiperspirant when I go out, but indoors I prefer to use a deodorant. Lynx are part of the Unilever global brand these days but they have kept their original identity as a leading brand name in the world of antiperspirants and deodorants. This particular antiperspirant with the name of Dry Africa conjures up an image of the product combating my sweat in the heat of an African Safari. Applying this product is very simple. You simply hold it upside down and twist off the grey plastic top (which is now at the bottom). This reveals a white plastic ball which is used to rub the product directly onto your skin, the liquid antiperspirant is released in tiny amounts as the ball ...

Gillette Fusion Hydra Gel 18/09/2013

Gillette Fusion Hydra Gel performs well

Gillette Fusion Hydra Gel I’d never dream of paying over £4 for a can of shaving gel but when I found Gillette Hydro Gel on offer during a shopping trip at half price I decided to give it a try. For the past few years I have tended to buy whatever shaving gel is on offer when I need it. I'm by no means loyal to any particular brand but I realised a long time ago that when it comes to shaving I much prefer gel to foam and I avoid the most basic supermarket brands (Asda Smart Price, Tesco Value etc). I have found that most higher priced supermarket own brands are quite similar so I usually buy whatever is available for around the £2 mark and I guess that I've become complacent in believing that all shaving gels are more or less the same. The very name Hydro Gel instantly conjures up an image of something a little bit more special than the norm and clearly serves to temp the shopper with parting with a bit more cash for a premium product. It also comes packaged in quite an eye catching can too, which is a distinctive rusty orange- brown colour with the famous Gillette brand name endorsed across it and a matching orange plastic lid to complete its design. I purchased a 200ml can for £2.25 (standard price was an extortionate £4.50) and now that this can is almost finished I feel that it is worthy of a review. To use this product you gently push down the white plastic top of the canister (after removing the orange plastic lid first). This is the same design as all of the previous brands I have used ...

Challenge SCS718 Xtreme 1800W Chainsaw 16/09/2013

The micksheff chainsaw massacre

Challenge SCS718 Xtreme 1800W Chainsaw I used to live in old cottage that had a border of Leylandi, which grew so tall that they started to touch the overhead power lines. I got a quote to have them cut down, which was several hundred pounds, but we decided to sell the cottage so never had the work done. My current house has a deciduous tree at the bottom of the garden, which has grown considerably in the seven years that I’ve lived here and frightened by the cost of having to have it cut down professionally I decided to invest in a chainsaw. I confess to knowing nothing about chainsaws so my main criteria was something cheap as I knew that it was something that would spend most of its life in my shed and only be used infrequently. I also hoped that I could spend some of the nectar points I’d accumulated (around £30 worth) so the first place I looked was Argos where I found they were selling a Challenge Xtreme Electric Chain Saw for £69.99. Without much in the way of comparison I purchased it. The exact model that I now own is a Challenge Xtreme Electric Chain Saw 1800W SCS718A. It came packaged in a rectangular box but wasn’t too big and bulky and easily fitted into the boot of my car. I still leave it packaged in the box and it stands upright in the corner of my shed so it doesn’t take up much space at all. I purchased this chain saw last summer and I’ve now used it on four different occasions, in fact it’s so simple to use that I’m a bit worried I might become addicted. The large tree at the bottom of my ...

Park Inn Heathrow, Hayes 13/09/2013

The Park Inn - close to Heathrow but nothing special

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