Share this page on

bronze Status bronze (Level 7/10)



Trusted by 106 members
See member statistics

Continued Thanks to everyone who rates my reviews, they are all appreciated. May I take this time to apologise for the fishkeeping and terrible music reviews that are on their way!

Reviews written

since 22/02/2003


Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish 06/07/2015

Not a neon tetra, but something even better!

Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish When I started out with my new community fish tank, I wanted to try a few different species that I hadn’t kept before. There are literally hundreds of different fish out there, which are on the whole compatible with a small community, and so I decided to try the Dwarf Neon Rainbow Fish. Now most people know of the common fish in the hobby, especially the different species of tetras and barbs, but one type of fish, which is frankly under appreciated (by me included in the past) in the rainbow fish. There are several different types of rainbow fish and some grow rather large indeed, however a perfect size for my community tank of tetras and danios was the dwarf neon variety. They are not the cheapest option available but neither are they the most expensive. I paid £3 a specimen from a good local stockist, which is about par for the course really. So what are dwarf neon rainbow fish all about then? Well they are found predominantly in West Papau, Indonesia, although most of the specimens found in the hobby these days are captive bred. It is a member of the Melanotaeniidae family and they do best when kept in water in the range of 24C to 28C. They tend to inhabit fast moving tributaries of main rivers or marshes and as such do not mind aquariums with a reasonably high water flow. I keep my tank at around 25C (which is hard work in the recent heatwave!) and they seem to do really well at that temperature. They grow in the wild to a size of approximately 8cm, but tend to be a ...

Sainsbury's Edamame & Butter Bean Salad 01/07/2015

Edamame - Not a request to be attacked with a Dutch cheese!

Sainsbury's Edamame & Butter Bean Salad Well as the temperature briefly soars for our one week of summer here in the UK, hot food doesn’t seem too appetising at the moment, especially in work which is resembling an oven at the moment. If I was at home I’d happily make a nice salad, but for work I quite like to try some of the plethora of dressed salads and pots in the local supermarket. This one is a Edamame & Butter Bean Salad from Sainsburys Taste the Difference range. This salad pot costs £1.50 and surprisingly given the name can only be bought in Sainsburys supermarkets or locals. So edamame beans are one of those buzz ingredients that everyone talks about for a few months as being really healthy, before its realised that they are just as good as any other vegetable in the long run. They are an immature soybean still in its pod, much like a mange tout or sugar snap pea that we are more used to, with a very similar flavour to be honest. As with any prepared salad its probably not as good for you as preparing your own with fresh ingredients – The nutritional information per pot follows for those of you interested in such things: - Energy – 224kcal Fat – 9g (of which saturates 1.4g) Sugars – 9.6g Salt – 0.7g Now as this is all I was having for a light lunch, I didn’t think that the nutritional data held too many nasty surprises, and I am very keen on watching my sodium levels, so at only 0.7g of salt, felt this was actually not too bad. So the salad itself is a mixture of edamame beans, butter beans, ...

Tell 'Em I'm Gone - Cat Stevens 28/06/2015

Tell 'Em I'm Gone to listen to this!

Tell 'Em I'm Gone - Cat Stevens Firstly it’s only right and proper that I should point out here that the album here is called Tell ‘Em I’m Gone by Yusuf. It is billed here on Ciao as by Cat Stevenes, but after converting to Islam over 25 years ago, he is now known as Yusuf Islam. It might not be cool to admit this but I’ve always been a big fan of this man. I was aware of some of his older music whilst growing up, but Cat Stevens disappeared from the musical scene at the height of his popularity in the 70’s and didn’t pick up a guitar again for over 25 years. However after his spiritual journey, he has returned to making quality music. He has tried various different styles over the years, but as he says in his album booklet, which is more of an interview – He has always wanted to go down an R&B route and so he returns here with this 2014 offering, his 14th studio album, and the 3rd since his return to music. Now I paid £8 for this album from HMV, although a quick search on the Internet shows that it is available a little bit cheaper online from the usual haunts, as well as in digital form from the Apple iTunes as well as the Android alternative. It is released through legacy recordings which is a subsidiary of Sony Music The runtime is 35:57, which is a little on the short side but there are 10 songs which due to the shortish nature of the album, have the pleasing aspect of getting in there, doing their thing and finishing so the album keeps flowing pretty well throughout. It should be pointed out here ...

Sainsburys Retractable Washing Line 24/06/2015

A pretty decent, cheap little washing line.

Sainsburys Retractable Washing Line My old washing line sadly came a cropper during one of last winter’s storms. It blew off the wall and ended up in several pieces. I have to be honest, I wasn’t too sad to see it go as it had become so old that some of the covering on the cord was rubbing through and threatening to stain some of the clothes that were hung out on it. With this being said I obviously needed a new one, and not wanting to go down the rotary line route, decided to play it cheap and go for a bog standard washing line – I found just the thing at my local supermarket and so I went for “Washing Line by Sainsbury's”. Well as you can probably guess from the name, it came from Sainsbury's and as such isn’t available elsewhere. I paid £5.99 for this and it is only available from some of the larger stores and only then on occasions. I’ve seen them in on and off over the past few months. They are available from the Sainsbury's website too, but again this appears to be an on and off affair too, so best keep a look out if you are interested. The packaging of the product is a simple cardboard box which is perfect for recycling purposes and comprises of the line itself, a couple of rawl/wall plugs along with a couple of screws to go into said plugs, a hook to put on a far away fence and an instruction leaflet. The washing line itself is quite a simple affair in terms of installation, you simply mark up where you wish to put the line, drill a couple of suitably sized holes, insert the wall plugs and screw the ...

Bush - Snoop Dogg 22/06/2015

Experimental but ultimately disappoints.

Bush - Snoop Dogg Snoop Doggy Dogg or minus the middle Doggy as he prefers these days has been around seemingly forever. Picking up on the popular gangsta rap movement of the early to mid nineties, he has done what many of that era have failed to do and that is move with the times and still be relevant today. Love him or hate him, you do have to admit that the transformation from fearsome gang member to a sort of loveable rogue is pretty remarkable and he is clearly someone who doesn’t care a jot what the critics think about him. With that being said, Snoop has returned in 2015 with his thirteenth studio album with the predictably smutty title of Bush on I Am Other records and Columbia Records. I paid £7.99 for my copy of this album from HMV, (I still like to support the high street!) but I’ve had a look online and it is available from the usual haunts for a pound or so cheaper. It’s also available in digital format from places such as the Itunes store and the Android equivalent. The run time of this album is 41:13, which is a little bit stingy in my view for an album, with 10 tracks featuring. Now the album artwork on this one is a little bit wacky and a little bit trippy, in keeping with Snoop’s vocal support of the pro cannabis movement. The front cover has a selection of topiary trees with a big blue dog sniffing at one of them, and on the back is a woman snipping leaves of a bush (keep it clean people!) The sleeve is also really strange with one having a picture of a dancing squirrel ...

Rummy Nose Tetra 21/06/2015

A superb shoaling tetra for a community tank.

Rummy Nose Tetra There are many types of tetra available in the fishkeeping hobby, from the ever-popular neon tetra through to piranha (yes they are of the same family!) at the opposite end. Most tetras are quite small however and many are very good additions to community aquariums. One such species that is doing incredibly well in my tank at the moment is the superb Rummy Nose Tetra. Firstly, what are rummy nose tetras then? Well they are of the family of characins, which are found predominantly in South America and in particular in and around the Amazon Basin. They are tolerant of a wide range of temperatures in the home aquarium, ranging from 24C right through to the low 30’s. As a result they are not always the best choice of tank mates depending on what parameters that they all require. I keep mine at around 25C at the lower end of their range, but they are perfectly happy at that temperature. They make good tank mates with a wide range of other tetras, corydoras catfish, danios, barbs, but should not be kept with any of the African cichlids as they require completely different water parameters. In addition to temperature, the other critical factor is pH – They are used to naturally slightly acidic water in the Amazon so water with a pH of around 6.5-7 is perfect. Again this puts them in the same sort of range as the fish highlighted above which just goes to show how much choice you have when deciding what to stock with them. My tank is pretty much fully stocked now and I am keeping ...

So Undercover (DVD) 17/06/2015

So unbelievably awful!

So Undercover (DVD) Now from time to time I get really bad chick flicks inflicted on me – to be fair half the time I don’t actually mind them. They are generally ultra formulaic, the “twists” are more telegraphed than a telegraph pole but are at the end of the day rather inoffensive, I can simply tune out and not pay too much attention. However the one that was inflicted on me the other day was certainly not your run of the mill chick flick/romantic comedy – I am talking about So Undercover and so here is my film only review. Cast and Stats Miley Cyrus – Molly Morris (Says it all really doesn’t it!) Jeremy Piven – Armon Ranford Kelly Osbourne – Becky Slotsky Various other randomers who add very little to the film! Runtime is 94 minutes. Directed by Tom Vaughan. Rating in the UK – PG (I think this stands for Please GOD!!!!) Plot Well frankly I struggled a little bit to write this section, but this is what I think was supposed to be going on! Molly Morris (Miley Cyrus) is a young private investigator, taking photos of cheating truckers for small payouts. On one such assignment, she is approached by FBI agent Armon Ranford, with a job to watch over a senator’s daughter, who is an important witness in an organised crime case. Molly is given an undercover name and story (Brooke Stonebridge) and sent in a sorority student to carry out this task. However all is not as it seems – Whom can Molly trust, who is investigating whom, and frankly who the hell cares! Opinion Well we start as we mean ...

Zest 4 Leisure Garden Potting Bench with Storage 14/06/2015

A decent potting table with a few flaws.

Zest 4 Leisure Garden Potting Bench with Storage Always on the lookout for ways to increase storage both inside and outside of the house, I recently came across a sale in a local garden centre of Zest 4 Leisure furniture. Now I am no expert on garden furniture, but this wasn’t really a name that I had heard of apart from the display at before mentioned garden centre. They only have a small display so were selling off stock that they had displayed for a while to bring in some new stuff. As a result I noticed a nifty looking potting table with an inbuilt cupboard beneath it. It was on sale for £70, which was a reduction of £50. I decided to give it a go and bought myself one. As I said it cost me £70, but I’ve had a look online and the average going price seems to be around the £100-£120 mark so on the face of it I have a bargain. It seems as if there are many distributors for Zest 4 Leisure garden furniture so if you are interested either look online or more independent style garden centres or farm shops would seem to be the best options. It is manufactured from pressure treated timber which is FSC certified and has galvanised bolt and hinges which should allow the item to be reasonably weather proof – something that is nigh on essential here in North Wales! Its dimensions when assembled are 120cm wide, 62cm deep with a height of 87.5cm. For me this is about the ideal height for a potting table to allow me to work without bending down too much, and it is small enough to fit into a corner of the patio without taking up too ...

Apples to Pears Blackboard Plant Marker Set 10/06/2015

A stylish little addition to my garden

Apples to Pears Blackboard Plant Marker Set I was very proud of my new vegetable patch last summer, not only did I actually build something from scratch, but also the vegetables I tried to grow all went well to some degree. However for this year I still felt that something was missing. It was when browsing through my local farm shop that I came across something that I thought would be a perfect fit for this year. The thing in question is a blackboard marker set from Apples to Pears. Now this set isn’t the cheapest thing on the market – It cost me £8.49 from the farm shop although having a quick look online I can see it available on several sites in the £5-£15 range. There are far cheaper options for makers to label up which crop/flower is which, none better than the good old fashioned lollypop stick in the ground, but I felt that this set just had a little bit of something about it when I passed it in the shop and so chose to give it a go. The set itself is quite understated really. The packaging is quite small, consisting of a small rectangular piece of cardboard adorned with a few pictures of the marker boards in action with the pen and boards tied to it. The boards themselves are very easy to remove from the ties and so they are ready for use as soon as you get them home. In this set you get 6 individual marker boards along with the pen itself. The pen is describes as a chalk pen, however I would say it is much more akin to something like tip-ex correction fluid. It’s a smooth white finish as long as you prime ...

Gardman Gardeners Mate Garden Secateurs Bypass 09/06/2015

It's certainly my Gardeners Mate!

Gardman Gardeners Mate Garden Secateurs Bypass Well the gardening season is well under way now and if your gardens are anything like mine, things are starting to get a little out of control! I like growing fruit and vegetables and as such a decent quality secateurs is a must to keep the areas free for them to grow well. I didn’t however want to pay a fortune for my tool either as I’ve paid a fair bit in the past for it to rust or break very easily so with this in mind I made my way to the local farm shop/garden centre and bought a Bypass Secateurs by Gardeners Mate. Now I’d seen the display in the shop for a while with this brand of tools on and to be honest its not one I am particularly aware of. I’ve looked online since and it seems that they are quite a decent company for lower priced tools and this set me back £7.99 in the shop. I’ve seen it online since on several websites for around £5 so its really cheap – the important question therefore becomes “cheap and cheerful” or “cheap tat”! Well first off I was pleased to see that the packaging had been kept to a minimum. To be honest I probably wouldn’t have considered these otherwise as waste from excess packaging is one of my pet hates. It was simply tied to a small piece of card, which is easily recyclable when the tool arrives home and is prepared for use. The tool looks pretty smart too, with an attractive 2-tone green colouring employed on the handles. The blade itself looks pretty impressive, nothing too large but the top blade is clearly coated which should ...

Odd Socks (iPad) 09/05/2015

Odd it certainly is!

Odd Socks (iPad) I do like little games on my iPad that either don’t take very long or even better are a little bit quirky or daft. I was recently introduced by some friends to one that certainly ticks the quirky box and that is the wonderfully titled Odd Socks. The game is available through the Apple iStore for both the iPad and for an iPhone. It is also available for Android systems too through that equivalent. The game is free to download which is always good, however there is an option for an in app purchase of cash which you will really wont need, so this game is effectively free to play. The game is released through a company called Oak Games limited and is sized at 43.5MB, so it wont take up a lot of space or take very long to download. It is suitable for all ages to play being rated at 4+, however it should be noted that the game connects and stores all progress via Facebook and so an account will be required to play this game which might put off a few people. So what is odd socks all about? Well the concept is incredibly simple, you simply have to match up pairs of socks that come out of a washing machine onto your washing line. We’ve all had the joys of not being able to match up socks after a good washing session and this game takes this wonderfully simplistic concept and has made a game out of it. The game screen is simple too – Firstly a two levelled washing line across the screen, with the washing machine in the bottom corner next to the waste bin. Along the very bottom of ...

Homebase Edging Garden Knife 05/05/2015

I'm edging towards liking this tool!

Homebase Edging Garden Knife Well gardening season is well and truly upon us now and so in an effort to tidy up the garden as a whole I’ve been in the market for some new tools. One such tool was an edging knife to go around the edge of the drive and the paving stones in the back and whilst not wanting to pay over the odds, as it’s only a small area, I decided to try out the Essentials Garden Edging Knife from Homebase. The edging knife itself cost a mere £7.99, which compared to some of the other branded alternatives in the store seemed a bargain. A few warning signs were present in store with a few pieces of plastic on the handles of some of the tools looking a bit worse for wear. I decided to ignore this, as they were only really aesthetic things anyway but I was slightly concerned over the quality of this tool. Homebase do offer a one-year guarantee with the knife, but with the proviso of not damaged by regular wear and tear. As a result I’m not 100% sure what this guarantee would actually cover this product for? The edging knife itself is quite small and so easily storable in the corner of the shed without taking up much space at all. The knife is just short of a metre tall and so for those who are a little taller, this probably would become quite backbreaking after a short amount of use. I’m 6ft and I really wouldn’t recommend it for anyone taller than me before we go any further! It is also quite lightweight, being just 0.73kg in weight. I’m not sure whether to list this as a positive or a ...

Argos Recycling Pedal Bin with 2 Compartments 29/04/2015

I've 'bin' recycling!

Argos Recycling Pedal Bin with 2 Compartments OK I’ll admit it – I’m messy. So many times I’ve said I’ll clear it up in the morning, I’m too tired now, home from work too late blah blah. Bottom line is I like cooking, love my food but hate tidying up - I’m messy and so in an attempt to put some organisation into the kitchen, I’ve recently purchased a 30 litre-recycling bin from Argos. The bin itself is available from Argos either ordered online or picked up in the store. It retails at £39.99 but when I bought it, was on a special offer at just £29.99. It’s a bin split up into two separate compartments to organise your waste into whatever you decide to put into it. It does come in a rather difficult to carry sized box, its not heavy by any means, just awkwardly shaped so I would recommend either parking the car close to the door or at least taking someone with you when purchasing to help open up the car door! The most important aspect for me when making a decision to buy this was is it going to fit in my small kitchen? Well the dimensions of the unit are 41cm width by 34cm length and a height of 48.5cm, so pretty compact really. In addition it does actually look the part, it’s a silvery colour stainless steel with two coloured pedals yellow and green, one for each compartment with a tidy looking black lid. The mechanism to open them is actually pretty smooth, so with a little self-control on the old foot controls you can smoothly open and shut this bin without banging it down. I’ve always found Argos products a little ...

SimCity (SNES) 27/04/2015

Definitely SIM and definitely no SIN!

SimCity (SNES) Retro gaming, for me is far more rewarding than modern titles. I became disillusioned with the plethora of titles out there with superb video clips and all-star casts, whilst forgetting to actually make a decent story or decent game. As a result I’ve been digging through my old consoles and one game, which illustrates the point about over producing and developing, is the classic Sim City released on the SNES. Sim City is one of the most loved series of games in the history of gaming and one of the first to offer truly unlimited gameplay without defined goals or challenges. It was released on several different platforms, but for me the SNES version was the best by some distance. The reason – a few little quirky twists put in by Nintendo. Bowser attacking the city as a natural disaster, a statue of Mario for reaching a high city level and an Albert Einstein inspired slightly mad adviser - these touches just gave the game a bit of a lift from the norm. So for those who are not aware of Sim City, or what happened before it was turned into a soulless city building game, the idea of this was to construct your own city on a randomly generated map with the goal of reaching a population of 500,000 or even 1 million. To do this was incredibly difficult and involved utilising every available inch of space as best as you could. The city was made up of 3 basic zones, residential, commercial and industrial. You also had to decide between evil polluting roads or the far cleaner railways, ...

Flow Free (iPhone) 20/04/2015

Just go with the flow!

Flow Free (iPhone) I’ve always been keen on simple little puzzle games and often feel that the simpler a game is the better it is, and the further away from ultra snazzy gimmicky graphics the better. With this in mind, I was introduced by a friend to the joys of Flow Free. The game is available through the Apple App Store for both iPhone and iPad and having played the game on both types of media would suggest that the iPad version is easier to play given the bigger screen on the tablet, however it’s not one which becomes obstructively fiddly and can still be enjoyed on the smaller iPhone screen. It is also available to download for tablets/phones using the android operating system though the usual places there too. It is available at no cost, which is always good, although there is the unfortunate option of in-app purchases when playing the game. I would point out here however that the in-app purchases are completely unnecessary to enjoy the game, and unless you wish to purchase hints (just have a go!) or unlock all the levels before unlocking them the normal way by completing the preceding levels, then you will not use them at all. The game is released through a company called Big Duck Games and the file size is only 11.5MB, so it won’t take up much space on your phone or tablet and will download very quickly indeed in a matter a seconds. The game is rated as 4+ and it is suitable and frankly probably aimed at younger children who could have fun with the simple concept – there are no ...
See more reviews Back to top