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tallulahbang

tallulahbang

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We are the Sherlock Holmes English Speaking Vernacular; help save Fu Manchu, Moriarty and Dracula. We are the Office Block Persecution Affinity, God save little shops, china cups and virginity.

Reviews written

since 12/06/2005

206

Samsung RSA1UTMG 18/09/2013

Sebastian the Samsung

Samsung RSA1UTMG It's a curious thing that, of the people I know, it's never the women who are desperate to equip their kitchen with the big, American-style fridge freezers; it's always the blokes. My mother's partner is mad keen to get one, even though they'd have to knock down a wall in their tiny kitchen to accommodate it, but my mother refuses and insists on sticking with the 4 freezers she has running in the garage (I should point out that there's only two people in the house and one of the appliances is the 'soup' freezer. The others contain entire sides of beef. And humans, possibly. My mother is demented.) My step-brother has a mega-mega fridge freezer, you know the kind: the size of a pick-up truck and using roughly the same amount of fossil fuel to run. He lives in Texas, though, where their two major obsessions are food and the death penalty so the desire to keep things on ice is perhaps understandable. I was never that enamoured of this style of appliance. I always found them ugly, hulking and a bit unnecessary for a two-person household. When we bought our new house, though, the sellers were taking their small Smeg fridge with them and it was going to be tricky to find anything that would fit the gap it left behind. My boyfriend REALLY wanted an American style fridge and, as he's the most easy-going man ever made and rarely makes demands, I told him if he could find a reasonably priced, energy-efficient model made by a reputable brand then I'd consider installing it in the ...

IKEA Expedit 15/09/2013

Somewhere to store your stuff

IKEA Expedit In general, it has been very easy to furnish our house: the rooms are all generously proportioned with few awkward corners or oddly positioned doors and windows. The only area that proved a bit of a challenge was under the stairs. Our staircase is mahogany and has open stairs, so closing it in to make a cupboard wasn't an option. Nor could we fit a table or anything sizeable underneath as the staircase spans a corner and so has a very large supporting post. In an ideal world, I'd have had a beautiful antique writing bureau on which to store our phone, broadband router and wireless thingy but, realistically, even if we had that kind of money the 7 cats would doubtless turn it into the world's most expensive scratching post in a matter of days. So off to Ikea I went. And what did you buy in the windowless and overheated world of Swedish furniture? I bought one of the variations of the 'Expedit' shelving range. The littlest one, to be precise. Why? Because, if I'm honest, I quite like Ikea furniture and the reports of it being impossible to construct are overblown. I've got a lot of their stuff and I've always managed to make it on my own, albeit often with a lot of lateral thinking. This shelving unit was also generously proportioned, with four deep cubbies that I knew would hold our larger books and ornaments easily. The style of the unit is plain and unfussy which I thought would suit our large and open hall. Buying it As ever with Ikea, you need to make sure ...

Brainstorm Magnetic Dry Wipe Board 04/09/2013

Brainstorm...or Thought Shower?

Brainstorm Magnetic Dry Wipe Board *In case you're wondering, the title refers to some training we once had from an education board representative who earnestly told us that that we shouldn't be using the term 'brainstorm' any more. Because, and he honestly said this out loud, he felt that it was 'offensive to epileptics' and the supremely arsey 'thought shower' would be much more politically correct. Yes indeed. Rather than letting us get on with the business of actually imparting knowledge, many government officials think this kind of gubbins is a good use of our time. The same bloke also mused, out loud, for half an hour on whether 'disabled toilet' shouldn't be changed to 'lavatory for the challenged'. The former, you see, could lead the unwary to believe that it was the toilet that was disabled, rather than the person needing to use it. Anyway, I digress. Whiteboards... I teach a special needs class of 8-9 year olds who have conditions including autism, Down's syndrome, fragile X syndrome, epilepsy, dyslexia, ADHD and selective mutism. With such a broad spectrum of issues, part of our school's ethos is to ensure that each child experiences success and feels pride in themselves and their work. For us teachers, that can mean a move away from traditional recording methods to allow children greater freedom. So, whilst we still use pen and paper, we also encourage children to make use of iPads, laptops, sand trays, symbols, drawings, sign language (Makaton), malleable materials and individual whiteboards to ...

Roche Berocca 30/08/2013

Me, but on a really good day

Roche Berocca This has been a bad year for me for sickness. I usually have the constitution of an ox, but over winter and early spring I seemed to get every infection, cold and tummy bug going. Normally I rarely take more than a couple of days off work per year, but 2012/2013 I managed to rack up over 2 weeks' sick leave. At one point I was so poorly with flu that, upon my return, our school secretary flung her arms around me for a gigantic hug and she's REALLY not the touchy-feely kind. After the second or third cold I decided it was time to up my vitamin intake. I really didn't feel multivitamin tablets were doing anything for me, so I bought a few packets of Berocca. Packaging Berocca comes in a green plastic tube which I really like as it keeps the tablets safe and secure. It's also the perfect size to pop in your handbag or desk drawer. When first bought there's also a green cardboard box but I always recycle this as it serves no useful purpose. What does it do? The advertising claim is that it helps you feel 'like you, but on a really good day' by giving you a blend of vitamins and minerals in a tasty drink which is available in orange, tropical and mixed berries flavour. The drink is made up by dissolving one of the effervescent tablets in water. Usually I hate effervescent drinks but this is quite nice and I don't mind taking it in the slightest. I think you're supposed to make it up with 250ml of water but I never bother measuring and just chuck it in my work mug. I find ...

Joseph Joseph Catcher Citrus Reamer 26/08/2013

A Pithy Review

Joseph Joseph Catcher Citrus Reamer Over the years I've become quite a fan of the Joseph Joseph range of gadgets and utensils as, while expensive, they are often very cleverly designed and well-suited to the job at hand. A while ago Achica was having a sale on their kitchenware and this was one of the many things I picked up. Appearance This has a yellow and grey colour-scheme; not the most exciting of the J&J range, but I like it nonetheless. The yellow part is the actual reamer that you press into the fruit and twist to extract the juice. The grey part is the handle and cup. The cup has several small holes in it so that the juice can filter through but pips are kept behind. It's made of a matte plastic that feels quite sturdy and is dishwasher safe. Usage It's pretty straightforward, really: you press the reamer part into the half of the fruit you want to juice, twist it round and the liquid comes out through the holes into whatever bowl/pan you've placed underneath while any pips are caught in the cup part. I've found when using it that it works pretty well as it's supposed to, although the holes in the cup part tend to get clogged up with pips and bits of fruit flesh meaning the juice doesn't drain out as quickly as it should. It's not *that* big a deal though - just requiring to be scooped out with a teaspoon or piece of kitchen towel - and I'd still rather use this reamer than the traditional kind as it's easier to wash up and there are fewer bits to lose. I get a lot of use out of this particular ...

Ikea 365+ Frying Pan 21/08/2013

The critics won't pan these...

Ikea 365+ Frying Pan I've always loved cooking but by the time we bought our house my collection of pans was a sorry affair: a ragtaggle bunch of new, secondhand, misshapen oddities. They did the job but they were hardly a joy to use so when we moved I decided to ditch them and get some nice new kit. I went with Ikea as I'd been impressed with their offerings in the past and because I knew they wouldn't cost the earth. With an entire kitchen to kit out I was after affordable quality. Additionally, I wanted pans that I was happy for my boyfriend to use, because he is an official slayer of pans (sounds like I'm being harsh, but the ruling was made when I caught him trying to remove bacon from a £60 copper-based pan by scraping it out with a bread knife). Since then we've segregated the pans into two camps: The Good Pans (only I can touch them. He's not allowed to even wash them up) and The Everyday Pans (he can use them under supervision, after he's repeated the mantra of 'no metal utensils in the pan'). The ones I bought from Ikea were destined to be the everyday pans; good quality and long-lasting, but not so expensive that I'd be heartbroken if Peter somehow managed to explode the non-stick coating off them. Form These are reasonably plain pans, which I like. The outer layer is brushed stainless steel and the inner has quite a thick non-stick Teflon coating. The handle is metal which means these pans can be used under the grill or in the oven although care needs to be taken if using them on ...

Maine Coon 18/08/2013

My 200th review: The Maine Attraction

Maine Coon I have been a member of Ciao for a startling 8 years, in which time I've only managed to notch up 199 reviews which works out as a pretty paltry average of 2 a month. For my 100th review I did some kind of Q&A (I think) but for my 200th I wanted to make good on a promise I made well over a year ago. So, Barry, this one's for you. Who, or what, is Candycoon Dudley Moore? He is my cat, but he is so much more than that, as you will find out. What breed is he? Dudley (also Duds, Duddles, Sir Dudsalot, Dudleyboy, The Dudster and DudsSpuds) is a blue silver tabby Maine Coon. This is the largest breed of domestic kitty and it is one that is slowly becoming more popular and with good reason. The Maine Coon is a pretty ancient breed, as these things go, having been around since at least the 19th century, but they are relative newcomers to British shores. They are a 'natural' breed: they look like cats and they haven't been fannied around with by humans to the point that they have a range of inherited health problems or stupid looking faces (apologies if you own one, but Persian cats, you know who I'm talking about). No, if bought from a responsible breeder, Maine Coons are strong, sturdy and positively radiate good health and joie de vivre. The main thing, though, that most people know about Maine Coons is that they are huge and Dudley is no exception. Unlike most cats, which are fully grown by the age of two at the latest, Maine Coons keep on growing until they are 4. Dudley ...

John Lewis 95001 Dotty 14/08/2013

You're toast!

John Lewis 95001 Dotty If you've ever idly given thought to who the most hateful little jobsworth in the world is, then wonder no more. It is a man called Alex Attwood. Never heard of him? Well, he is the eejit responsible for denying John Lewis's foray into Northern Ireland, therefore also putting paid to the idea that we might get a Waitrose. I LOVE both of these shops and so I will hate Alex Attwood until the end of time. You might wonder how it is, then, that I have a John Lewis toaster. Well, once a year, when we're on holiday, I demand a day out shopping as a treat and a trip to John Lewis is an essential part of this. Last year's visit took place just after we'd completed on our new house, so I got quite a few bits and bobs for the kitchen whilst I was there. Why this toaster? Our old one was a bit battered looking so we weren't bringing it to the new house. I spied this one sat on the shelf, loved the polka dot pattern and loved the price tag of £20 even more (I think it's now gone up to £21). Two or four slice? Ours is a two slice and I think it's only available in this option; certainly the dotty pattern would look a lot less cute on a bigger appliance. We don't eat a great deal of bread and tend to opt for cereal, fruit or porridge for breakfast so we had no need for a bigger toaster as it would only be pressed into service for the occasional bacon sandwich or bagel. Functions This isn't an all singing, all dancing model that will present you with melba toasts or patterns on ...

Tipp-Ex 802298 Shake n Squeeze Correction Fluid Pen Fine Point 12/08/2013

Well, we all make mistakes...

Tipp-Ex 802298 Shake n Squeeze Correction Fluid Pen Fine Point My first introduction to the heady world of Tipp Ex was in grammar school; in primary school it was forbidden, lest we paint our nails and teeth with it. I'd love to say that that was a ridiculous sanction but the truth is that at least one of us had already done their nails (me) and one their teeth (Stephanie H, a girl with so great a disregard for authority that she would later be the ringleader of a gang who did 'bob-a-job' for charity and then kept the money. I confess, I was in that troupe of renegade 9 year olds. The guilt has consumed me ever since. £3.50 of embezzled funds is a heavy burden to carry for 24 years). By the time we were in big school we were more interested in Tipp Ex as a recreational drug, which led us to experiment with sniffing the thinners through our jumpers (didn't get high), painting the thinners under our noses (didn't get high; did get a very fetching rash moustache), heating the thinners in an empty coke can and sniffing the fumes (didn't get high; started a small fire behind the chemistry lab), mixing the thinners and Tipp Ex together and drinking them (only Christopher S was mad/stupid enough to try that. Didn't get high; projectile vomited for 3 days). Eventually, we realised that Tipp Ex is rubbish at being a drug but rather good at covering up mistakes in writing which is what I've used it for ever since. What kind of Tipp Ex have you got? Time was you could only get correction fluid in a small bottle with a brush, rather like nail ...

Boots Repel Insect Repellent Spray 10/08/2013

Bitten by the bug

Boots Repel Insect Repellent Spray The pluses about moving out to the country were many: peace and quiet, a much bigger house and garden, no neighbours overlooking us, great views. One of the few minuses, though, has (literally) reared its ugly head in the last month or so: the fact that we have a lough at the end of our lane, along with living opposite open farmland means that we have seen horseflies that are more like Zeppelins than insects. Non-biting flies don't bother me, we don't really have any mozzies and whilst we get the occasional midge, it's not really a problem. The horseflies are different. If you've never had the misfortune to encounter one, imagine Vinny Jones crossed with The Terminator: they are stupid, annoying, persistent and incredibly aggressive. They also, unlike most flying bitey things, actually saw your skin open when they bite you meaning that it's painful as well as unbearably itchy and is also more prone to infection. It also turned out that I'm mildly allergic to their bites and get huge, hurty red lumps whenever I'm bitten, which is often. Something had to be done. My boyfriend works in the city so I dispatched him to Boots to see what he could find. The Packaging It's a pretty plain but functional aerosol can. The colour has changed from Ciao's pic and it is now light blue. How To Use You spray it on any exposed skin, avoiding eyes and lips, from a distance of 15cm. The blurb on the back advises that it will need reapplying every 5 hours and after swimming. It's not ...

Uni-ball UB200 07/08/2013

Happy Birthday To Me

Uni-ball UB200 Teaching brings few material perks. We're overworked, underpaid and under-appreciated. However, every cloud must have a silver lining and mine comes in the form of....the birthday pen! (and the sense of making a difference in children's lives, also. But I'm mainly all about stationery, if I'm honest). Every year, on our birthday, our names get called out in that week's assembly and the boss makes some kind of hilarious (read: embarrassing) quip about our encroaching old age and we get to either stand up and receive the pen ourselves (few but the attention-seeking go for that option) or we nominate a child from our class to go and get it for us (my choice). I've been teaching in the school for seven years and back before my first birthday (in January) rolled around, I saw others getting the pen and assumed it was some kind of fancy affair, perhaps with the individual's name engraved on it. How wrong I was. It is, in fact, just a pen. That said, it is rather a nice pen hence why I've held on to my little collection, rather than losing them immediately (which is what I do with most writing implements). Appearance Well, no one's ever going to mistake it for a Montblanc but it does look a great deal more classy than a bog standard biro. The main part of the pen is a silvery grey/white with a cutaway down each side so you can see the ink level. The lid has a coloured transparent tip the same colour as the ink (in my case blue/black) and has a silver metal clip. The bit of the ...

Chopard Casmir Eau de Parfum 06/08/2013

Cosy up with Casmir

Chopard Casmir Eau de Parfum This perfume was one of my 'pot luck' buys, where I add a (reasonably) cheap bottle of fragrance onto whatever I'm ordering from Fragrance Direct or Amazon. I have had a couple of stinkers with this method but mostly I've been pleasantly surprised. The Bottle It's quite a squat, flat little thing with clear glass showing the amber coloured perfume inside. The cap is shaped a little like the belfry of a Russian Orthodox Church and is made of a brassy coloured plastic. It's by no means a thing of beauty but nor will it look cheap and nasty sat on your dressing table. The spray is just about perfect: it covers a decent area without drenching you in the scent. I find a spritz on each wrist and one on the neck is plenty. The Top Notes The first thing I get is a huge wallop of vanilla, but not the sickly, synthetic awful stuff so common to many perfumes; this is more like the aroma you get when you split open really good quality vanilla bean pods. After a couple of minutes I get a very slight floral edge although no fruit at all, despite peach being listed in the 'official' notes. A strong presence throughout is a kind of dry, musky smell - a bit like walking into an incense shop. At this point you get a feel for how expertly blended this perfume is: these are 'big' notes and could be incredibly overbearing but I find Casmir to be extremely sophisticated and wearable. The Middle Notes On me, the middle notes start to develop within around 20 minutes or so. The vanilla and ...

BaByliss 5529 04/08/2013

Blow Me

BaByliss 5529 My mother has a lot of talents. It’s part of being mental, I think. It’s as if, in order to make up for all the crazy stuff, evolution felt she should have some kind of compensation. One of her best skills is the ability to stop any conversation dead in its tracks with the use of just one sentence. Don't believe me? Read on: Mum: how was your week at work? Fiona: busy but good. I've got all my planning done and... Mum: sorry to interrupt, but I really am excellent at falling. Fiona: we tried that new place near us for dinner. Pretty expensive, but really nice. Mum: was it? I nearly became a nun but I got thrown off retreat for cheating, so then I didn't. Mum: who did you get to do your decorating? Fiona: a guy called Gary. Do you want his number? Mum: I watched a really funny programme about a man yesterday. Actually, wait, no it wasn't funny at all. He had both his legs amputated. Recently, she utilised this to great effect when talking to me about ferries. Here’s how that conversation played out: Fiona: ‘yes, the Plus lounge is actually pretty good. No kids and you get complimentary food and drinks’. Mum: ‘did you pay for the upgrade?’ Fiona: ‘no, it was a freebie.’ Mum: ‘I was up at 5am this morning blow-drying a joint of pork.’ Honestly, you need a brain that’s had 33 years of the most extreme kind of training in abstract thought not to be utterly bewildered by that statement. Luckily, I’ve had my mother as a parent so that’s exactly what I’ve received. It ...

Staedtler Noris Club Triplus Jumbo Learners Pencil 01/08/2013

Pencil full of lead

Staedtler Noris Club Triplus Jumbo Learners Pencil It always tickles me that, as a brand known primarily for the manufacture of writing for implements, Staedtler have one of the most difficult names to spell. Anyway, regardless of how much of a dyslexic's nightmare they are they make pretty good pencils, so I shall forgive them. What is it? Essentially, a mega-big, triangular pencil in the familiar Staedtler yellow and black livery. They're the same length as a standard pencil but much thicker and the shaft is a long triangular prism rather than the more usual hexagon. The ones I have are HB; having got them through the requisition at work they were only available in that grade and I don't know whether you can go any darker or lighter. Primarily these are a writing rather than a sketching pencil, so I'm not sure you'd need to. Why would you want a mega-big pencil? Well, in my day if you couldn't produce tidy handwriting you either got walloped over the knuckles with a ruler (early eighties) or you got ritually humiliated in front of the whole class (late eighties. And I name no names but Mr O'Kane, I'm looking at you). Now, though, things are altogether much better and we teachers try to find solutions to the problem rather than just being violent about it. In my case, the majority of my class of special needs 8-9 year olds could grip a pencil reasonably well, but I had one autistic boy who couldn't at all and two little girls with Down's who found it tricky. For anyone who doesn't know, Down's syndrome usually involves ...

Brother P-Touch PT-1010 30/07/2013

Oh Brother, I love labelling.

Brother P-Touch PT-1010 Remember those verbal reasoning tests you used to have to take in school that went along the lines of 'if all quarks are snarks, and most snarks like spelunking but only some quarks like philately, is it true or false to say that all quarks like philately? (Answer at the bottom) Well, here's a version more pertinent to me. 'If all teachers like labelling, and tallulahbang is a teacher, is it true or false to say that tallulahbang likes labelling stuff?' The answer is, of course, false: I don't merely *like* labelling stuff, I bloody love it. Hence why I have this gadget living in one of my kitchen drawers. Where to buy? Randomly, mine came from Lidl during one of their great 'let's sell the most bizarre items we can alongside the bread and peas' extravaganzas. I'm not sure if this is a feature common to all Lidls or just an Irish thing, but I've seen wetsuits, chainsaws, circular saws, guitars, USB microscopes, giant plastic birds and saddles. I can't remember what I paid but it was almost certainly heavily discounted as I'm a skinflint and a quick scout around the interwebs has told me that the RRP is £40 (although it can be procured for half that on Amazon). What does it do? It prints labels in black 'ink' on strips of tape that are just over a centimetre wide. Theoretically, the length of the label is limited only by your verbosity and the amount of tape you have left in the machine. Before you decide you're going to label everything you own in an incredibly ...
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