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Spring and summer are getting closer (I hope), although with the warmer weather comes the dreaded hayfever! I have suffered with hayfever for as long as I can remember, although it has eased off in terms of the degree of suffering that I get since I have got older. I think that is down to the fact that I can stop the hayfever from 'spiralling' like it used to when I was a young child. For example, if I have irritation in my eyes, I stop myself from rubbing at them, as I know it will just get worse and worse, until they are streaming with water, and all red and swollen. When I was a child, my first instinct was to rub away in frustration at them, causing the symptoms to 'spiral'.
My eyes are always my biggest issue, I can easily cope with having a constant runny nose, and an itchy dry throat, but the swollen red eyes are too much for me.
Another huge factor which helps me to control my hayfever reactions, is the use of medication, and knowing myself when I need to take a tablet to stop the irritations in their tracks. I have used a whole range of different tablets over the years, some working better than others, and luckily they are a lot more readily available in shops and supermarkets now than they used to be years ago, when I would almost always have to go to a chemist.
A big problem with some products is the cost of them! Branded products such as Zirtec for example can be really expensive when costing around £3 for just 7 tablets. Luckily there are numerous 'none branded' products available now which still contain the same active ingredient (Cetirizine) which cost a fraction of the price and still do the same job.
This medication from Superdrug cost me just under £2 last summer, and contained 14 tablets.
They come in a standard looking white coloured cardboard box, with a large cross shape containing a picture of long grass and flowers, along with a picture of one of the tablets. Inside the box, the tablets are contained within a sealed foil packaging. Each tablet has a deep break-line across the centre, but this is not really needed as they are pretty small in size anyway.
These tablets from Superdrug contain Cetirizine as their main API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) with each tablet containing 10mg of Cetirizine Hydrochloride. This is an API that I have commonly used over the last few years as I find it to be very effective at keeping my hayfever symptoms at bay. Also it gives me very little in the way of side effects, which often are a bit of an issue for me, especially the usual drowsiness side effect which is often associated with most hayfever medications, but the Cetirizine API works really well for me. Cetrizine on its own is basically an antihistamine drug, which means it will react in the body to stop histamine binding to receptors in your cells and starting the allergic response.
Along with relief from the symptoms of hayfever, this product also provides relief for other allergies, such as pet or dust mites, and skin rashes, itching and hives. As I have never suffered from any of these other allergies or rashes, I cannot really comment on them, but for hayfever symptoms, they work great on me.
The relief does come quite quickly after taking a tablet, and within 30 minutes or so I generally feel back to normal again, and all irritation has gone, from around my eyes. I wouldn't say that it completely stops the runny nose, but this is not really a big problem for me. Also the relief is long lasting, and just the one dosage each day is sufficient to provide long lasting relief throughout the whole day and night.
In terms of dosage, it is fairly simple, in that it is just 1 tablet to be swallowed with water daily. This medication is not suitable for children under the age of 6 though.
The Patient info leaflet which comes in the box, is full of useful info, and packed with the usual lengthy lists of warnings, including a detailed section on possible side effects such as:
Swollen lips, face tongue or throat.
Breathing or swallowing difficulty
Stomach or intestinal discomfort
I have to say that I have never suffered from any sign of any of the above side effects, but different people react in all sorts of ways to different medications, so it is important to keep them in mind.
Overall these tablets from Superdrug have worked well for me, and I will happily buy them again this season. It is a minuscule price to pay (less than £2), to clear away the nasty irritating symptoms of hayfever, which has in the past restricted me from many outdoor activities. Superdrug also sell these same tablets in a pack of 7 for around £1:20, with the 14 pack obviously offering the better value.
I always like to keep a box of these in my house, as hayfever can strike at some very unexpected times, not just hot summers days. I tend to suffer most on warm wet mornings throughout the summer, but it is nice to know, that by taking a small tablet I can easily get on with life as normal outdoors.
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2014
Over the last 12 months I have started doing a lot of running, and more often than not, (usually weather permitting) I like to listen to my music while I'm out pounding the footpaths. My Samsung Galaxy phone came with a set of headphones when I first received it about 18 months ago, but just before Christmas I managed to trap one of the buds in my car door when I was rushing off to a race meeting, and so I had to suffer with sound in just 1 ear.
I immediately decided to replace my headphone set, and was pleasantly surprised to see that Samsung offered a set at a bargain of a price - Just under £4 on Amazon!
Prior to spotting these I had envisaged paying at least £10 for a set, so I was happy with this price and ordered them promptly.
The headphones are almost identical to the ones in the picture above, but mine are silver in colour, but other than that they look the same.
They fit into my ears well, and are comfortable when in place, even while I run in them. They also hold into my ears well, which is something that I have struggled with in the past, but the shape of these buds seems perfect for holding into the ear, without offering any discomfort.
The sound quality is good too, really crisp and clear - especially for the £4 price tag. I'm sure some of these £100+ headsets must offer a far superior sound quality, but the quality from this set from Samsung is as good as I have ever experienced and suits me for my running purposes just fine.
The jack plug is the standard fit which you find on all most all appliances such as TV's, PC's, laptops, tablets etc, and as such I have used them several times to watch films with on my laptop.
I'm pleased with my purchase here, and I could not be without a set of headphones to listen to my motivational music whilst running.
In summary they are really simple to fit into the ear and to remove, and they deliver a good stereo sound quality with decent bass. They are soft on the ear, and comfortable, and don't fall out during activities such as running. For £4 you really can't go wrong, and it will not be the end of the world if I happen to damage my set again as they are cheap and simple to replace.
(At time of posting this review this headphone set is £3:90 from Amazon with free delivery).
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2014
I bought this laptop skin about years ago now, shortly after I bought my laptop, so that I had some sort of protection for my laptop whilst I transported it around. I had initially looked for a carry case for it, but I soon realised whilst browsing in PC world that a skin was a far less bulky cover and most of the time I would place the laptop and cover inside a larger bag anyway.
The Targus laptop skin cost me around £15 at the time of my purchase, but it is now available on Amazon for just £3:99 (plus £3:72 delivery costs) which just goes to show how long ago it was when I purchased it.
The Targus laptop skin is basically a cover which offers protection from scrapes, scratches and everyday bumps and bashes. It will not offer protection if the laptop is dropped from a height, or smashed into vigorously.
The skin is made from a neoprene material which is a synthetic rubber which has a kind of soft, stretchy and spongey feel to it. Mine is mostly black in colour with an orange trim around the edge of it, and has a very sturdy zip which is used to seal the laptop inside the skin. My laptop is 13" and so this skin is especially designed for my size, but it was available in plenty of other sizes to accomodate most laptops and notebooks.The Targus logo is attached to the skin via a little tag, which looks quite trendy in my humble opinion. When I first bought the skin it was quite common, and fairly modern, although it has probably dated a little bit since then.
Having put my skin and laptop through 3 years of fairly heavy and constant use they have both come out the other end in pretty good condition. The Targus skin has done an excellent job of protecting the laptop from everyday accidental physical damage.
My laptop skin is showing a few signs of wear, as it has rubbed away a bit at one of the corners, and has a few scuffs on it, but this goes to show that it has done it's job well. It has taken the bashing that would have otherwise happened to my laptop, and it is a lot easier and cheaper to replace a laptop skin, than it is to replace a laptop and all of its contents.
Overall I have been happy with my purchase of the Targus laptop skin. It has protected my 13" Asus laptop really well over the last 3 years, and I suspect that if I had not made this purchase then my laptop would no longer be with me!
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2013
I bought this sponge from Halfords a few months back, after getting really fed up of my local car wash being almost permanently out of order. The car wash is a bargain when it is working, as it costs just £1 for the basic wash, but I would estimate that 3 times out of 4 when I drive over to it, it is out of order.
The sponge from Halfords is quite a big one. It is called the Jumbo Sponge and was priced at just 99 pence when I purchased it. It is packaged very basically in a clear plastic wrapping which contains the Halfords logo on it, and is a nice bright yellow in colour.
The sponge is shaped in a way that it is wider at the ends, and gets a little narrower in the middle, which helps it to fit nicely in the hand and offers a bit of grip. Approximate dimensions of the sponge are:
9" X 4" X 3"
Having used the sponge about a dozen times since purchased I'm pleased to report that it is a decent quality sponge. It is nice and big, meaning that it is quicker to clean the car with then if using a smaller sponge. It is soft, and soaks up a lot of water at any one time. I use it to wash the whole exterior of my car, including all widows, wipers, sills and my alloy wheels.
My sponge has so far held together really well, and I have actually enjoyed getting out in the drive on a sunny afternoon to clean my car myself instead of paying £1 each time at the car wash that I used to visit.
Overall for the small cost of 99 pence I would recommend this sponge. It is relatively cheap, it is a nice good size and is soft and soaks up water well. Mine is still in good shape after about a dozen uses and it has not split or broken away, even after using at around some sharper corners of my alloys. Well worth the money in my opinion.
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2013
I had a Lexus IS200 from new just over 2 years ago on a lease deal. The car has served me very well, and it was only a couple of months ago that I had to spend my first bit of money on it (other than petrol, insurance and tax!) That spend was due to the fact that my front two tyres were worn out below the tread marker, which considering I had completed over 23,000 miles on them was not really too much of a surprise.
As my car is on a lease deal, it is quite important that I put good replacement tyres on the car so that when my lease period is up (June next year) the car dealership cannot downgrade the value of my car due to budget tyres. Having had my car from new, it had been a while since I last purchased tyres, so I just decided to go to my local tyre dealer which is somewhere that know a lot of my family and friends often use.
I have to say I was a little overwhelmed at the tyre choices on offer in my local garage! Things have changed a lot since I was last out shopping for tyres with the main difference being the introduction of the EU tyre ratings guide. This is a very useful bit of information which is attached to each type of tyre giving data ratings on fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise.
The tyres that I chose after spending a while weighing all the pro's and con's up from the EU ratings guide and the price of each tyre was the Goodyear Excellence. These had ratings of:
Fuel efficiency 3/5
Wet Grip 4/5
The main reason for my choice was the wet grip, as my car has never handled too well in the wet, and coupled with an offer of a £20 discount if buying 2 tyres it ended up being quite an easy decision. In total I ended up paying £230 for my 2 tyres including fitting, balancing VAT etc etc.
Having done about 2000 miles on these tyres now I have to say I have been happy with my purchase. The Goodyear Excellence tyre are almost certainly a quieter and smoother ride than my original tyres, and they feel soft and have great grip when cornering. The Excellence tyres apparently feature shoulder stabilisers which is why they help to maintain a firm grip when cornering. Pressure is distributed evenly across the tyre contact patch, which is supposed to give better handling and uniform tread wear.
The wet weather of late has also proved to me that these tyres have improved my grip and overall control of my car on wet and slippery road conditions. This extra grip is also noticeable when braking and when pulling off, as the tyres help the whole car to really grip to the road.
All this extra grip instantly made me feel that these tyres must be depositing a lot of rubber on the roads to achieve this, and as such they might wear out quickly, but 2000 miles into their life they still look like new! I fully expect them to be in very good shape next June when my car comes to the end of it lease period.
Fully recommended by me. They are a bit expensive but if they are a purchase for a car that you are keeping for a while then I feel they are well worth the money. The grip is superb, and they are nice quiet and comfortable ride.
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2013
I purchased this fan heater from Argos about 2 years ago in an attempt to try and reduce the ever increasing energy bills. I decided that often I only needed the room I was occupying to be warm, and so the central heating was a bit of an overkill, especially as I like my bedroom to stay as cool as possible to help me sleep at night.
The Argos 2kW Upright Fan Heater costs just £9:99. It is white in colour with two adjustment dials on the front of it, One dial adjusts the fan speed and the other dial lets you switch between the two different heat settings or select the cold air blower facility.
~~~ My Opinion ~~~
For the price of this little fan heater you really do get excellent value for money. It is a neat little unit, which sits solidly on a flat surface, and is nice and bright in colour, and is designed to be easy to wipe over to clean off dust etc. The heat that it emits on the high heat setting is pretty good, and it heats up a smallish room in a matter of minutes. I never really use the low heat setting, as I either want fast hot heat, or nothing at all.
The cool air blower is a handy feature though which I have used several times now during the hot summers days. It basically acts as a fan, but the power of the air that comes out is very good, and it is really good to have just one small unit which can act as both a heater and a cooling fan.
I find the gentle noise that it gives off when running is quite soothing and relaxing, and certainly not too noisy or annoying. It is thermostatically controlled, which means that it will monitor the temperature that is surrounding it, and if it gets too warm it will automatically cut out until the temperature cools down sufficiently, after which it will kick back in again.
Overall I cannot really complain about this fan heater especially as it costs just £9:99. It is basic, but very simple to operate, and it provides the necessary heat to warm up a room in a matter of minutes. It is quite small and so it is easy to store in a cupboard when not in use.
Dimensions: H 265mm x W 215mm x D 130mm.
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2013
My wife and I inherited a horse back in January as she found out about one that was a former racehorse which hadn't made the grade, and so it was booked in to be shot unless an owner could be found (such a cruel world we live in!). She eventually persuaded me to let her have 'Ponto' as he was free to a good home (little did I know at the time about stables fees, food costs, insurance, vets fees, saddles, rugs, shoes, nets etc etc!!!).
The stable where we keep Ponto has a very large field where he spends most of his time in the summer, and so I decided to buy a cheap pair of binoculars so that whenever we went over to the field we could get a clearer view of him especially when he was at the far end. This stopped us having to disturb him, and allowed us to check he was ok (no cuts, rugs correctly positioned, walking normally etc etc).
After a quick search on Amazon I ordered a set of EDU Science binoculars for just £3:99 (plus £1:75 postage). As you may be able to guess from both the name and the price, these are designed for use by children, but I was not after a super expensive multi magnifying set, as I just simply wanted something that would help us to see to the other end of a large field a little clearer. Also it was my intention to leave the binoculars in the tack room at the stable, which is not overly secure, so cheap was the number 1 priority with this purchase.
The binoculars are quite compact (10cm X 10cm X 4cm), making them easy to carry around and store. They are dark blue, with a black area in the center which houses the adjusting knob to alter the focus. They have a black cord which loops from one side to the other side which is for putting around your neck to support them when they are not in use. They also come with a rubber carry pouch which offers some sort of protection to them, along with a lint-free cloth to keep the lenses clean.
Having used these binoculars for several months now, I'm pleased to report that they do a reasonable job. They don't offer a huge magnification, but they vastly improve our view of Ponto when he is at the far end of the field. Being a former race horse, and only seven years old Ponto is still very full of energy, and so it is great to watch him galloping around the field through these binoculars to get an even better view of his beauty and strength as he
bucks up into the air and rolls about on the grass. They are really simple to use, and the focus knob is nice and sensitive and works well. On a wet day the lenses can get a little bit steamed up after prolonged usage, but they are easily cleaned off using the lint-free cloth. For under £6 (including p&p) they are good little buy, and I'm sure they would be ideal for children to use to help them get a better view of various forms of wildlife and nature.
Two warnings come with this set of binoculars:
1. Do not look directly at the sun through the lenses.
2. Not suitable for children under 3 years old.
Overall these are well worth the money that they cost, and I expect to get many more years of use out of them. Thanks to the lint-free cloth the lenses on my set are still scratch free, which they probably wouldn't be if I had to clear the lenses using my fingers or sleeve.
They are simple to use and easy to store, and are now very popular with several of the other horse owners at the yard.
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2013
Back in June I undertook a fairly big DIY project for me! It involved removing a large area of rotten wooden decking from my back garden, leaving just a small section of it in place which I then had to rub down and treat to get it looking like new again. I don't normally take on little projects like this, but I had a week off and the weather was good so I just got stuck in, and was actually very pleased with the result.
Once I had treated the remainder of the decking I then had to set about trying to get the soil and rubble that was left behind from the area of decking that I had removed back to a nice grassed area that would blend in with the rest of my lawn. I bought a bag of grass seed and five large bags of top soil from my local garden centre and leveled off the area with the soil, before sowing my grass seed.
The grass seed was called 'Canada Green Grass Seed' and I paid £5 for a 500 gram bag of it. It was the only grass seed that my local garden centre had in stock and so it was a pretty simple selection process. It comes in a plastic bag with a large picture on the front of a worn out area of a garden 'before' and 'after' the seed has been applied and the result looks impressive although I was a little dubious about the truth of this claim when I picked up the bag.
The grass seed was simple to use by following the instructions on the packet. I simply had to rake the area of soil that I had prepared, and then evenly scatter the seed over the area, before giving it a very gentle going over with the rake again. After this a good watering was required, and the watering needed repeating each day for 2 weeks. Something that I did when scattering the seed about, that seemed to work but that wasn't mentioned in the instructions was to scatter a fine amount of the seed onto the edge of the existing grass, in the hope that it would help the 2 areas blend in well together once the new grass grew.
~~~~~ Results ~~~~~
I am over the moon with the results that this seed has produced! It took about 4-5 days for the small green shots to start to appear from the ground, but once they started to appear they grew really quickly. I cut the freshly seeded area for the first time about 3 weeks after sowing the seed, at which point it was a lot longer than the rest of my lawn, but since that first cut it has grown at a very similar rate to the rest of the lawn. The new grass that the seed has produced is a nice deep green colour, and has grown to a good thick consistency. There were a few little bare patches at first where there was little grass growing, perhaps from where I hadn't scattered the seed very evenly, or maybe it blown away, or been eaten by birds, so I simply added a bit more seed to these patches, and repeated the watering process.
3 months have now passed since I finished the little project, and it is virtually impossible to tell that there was ever any rotting decking in place of the nice green lawned area. The seed is probably not the cheapest to buy (if you have an option), but the results that it has produced for me are well worth the little extra I paid.
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2013
I spent the (August) Bank Holiday in Abersoch (North Wales) with some of my male friends for a 'lads' weekend of camping. This was the first time I had been camping for a few years, and it was the same for several of the other lads, so we were in a bit of a panic a few weeks before we were due to go, as we had no tent, and quite a few of us didn't even have the basic sleeping bag or camping mat!
Luckily I had a nice little sum of money in my Amazon Gift card balance, and so I decided to purchase some of my basic equipment off there. I only wanted something cheap, as this camping trip was a bit of a one off, and would not be likely to turn into a regular event.
I opted for a Lichfield Camping mat off the Amazon site, which was sold by a company called Thinkprice. It was retailing for just over £6 which seemed pretty cheap to me. Delivery was really quick, I ordered it on a Monday morning and it arrived at my house on Wednesday. It was packaged accordingly and inside the packaging it was rolled up as seen in the picture above.
The 'Lichfield Camping mat' is basically a bright blue foam mat. In terms of size, it has dimensions of 180 cm in length by 48 cm in width and is 0.8 cm thick. It is quite lightweight at 0.14kg and a decent size in terms of home storage or for packing in the car when rolled up tightly.
At the campsite I unrolled my new mat for the first time. As it had probably been tightly rolled up for several months (if not longer) it wanted to naturally maintain its curved form at first, and so I had to lay it down the opposite way to its natural curl, and then place my sleeping bag on top of it to weigh it down, and flatten it out. In terms of how it performed at night, I have to admit that it did an adequate job, and I did have a decent night's sleep. A couple of the other lads had proper inflatable mattresses which looked a lot more comfy than my mat, but they had to pay a lot more than me, and had the hassle of inflating them, and the worry of them popping!
Being a bit vertically challenged, the mat was plenty long enough for me, and also wide enough to hold my frame easily with a bit of extra room to wriggle about in my sleep.
The mat could certainly be improved if it was thicker, probably at least twice as thick as it currently is, or certainly if it was composed from more dense foam.
For the price though I cannot really complain, as it allowed me three comfortable night's of sleep when combined with my sleeping bag, and it didn't affect my sleep in any way, and I never suffered any aches or pains in any area of my body the on the morning that followed.
So in summary, it is a basic cheap camping mat, which is ideal for a few nights of camping on pretty flat ground, and when accompanied by a decent sleeping bag. For any situation like this it will provide enough comfort and insulation on a warm(ish) night inside a tent. I would envisage that this mat would not be suitable for a long camping trip, in cold weather, or on un-even or lumpy surfaces though, as it does lack a little thickness.
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2013
I have used a 30 mm Master Lock Brass padlock to securely lock my shed in my back garden for over a year now. I purchased it from my local DIY store for just £4 shortly after buying my shed and realising that it although it came with a latch there was no way of locking it. The master lock padlocks have a dual lever mechanism, which makes them very difficult to break for any 'would be thief'. There are plenty of cheaper padlocks available, but in my opinion it is worth paying more when buying an object like this because just buying some cheap and tacky weak lock that would be easy to break is just a waste of money.
Master Lock is a company that specialises in padlocks and security products, and was founded back in 1921 and is today recognised as the world's largest global manufacturer and marketer of padlocks.
The 30mm master lock brass padlock is solid and heavy, and is perfect to secure my shed door and keep my gardening and summer seating safe from being burgled! The body of the padlock is made from brass, with a hardened steel shackle for extra cut resistance. Inside the lock itself there is a four pin cylinder which adds security by making the lock harder to 'pick' The Brass finish looks excellent in my opinion, and gives a sense of toughness to lock.
The master lock padlock came with 2 keys which is very useful for the possibility that one of the keys could be lost or misplaced, meaning the only way to get into the shed would be to saw through the lock (which would be difficult as my saw is kept in the shed!) and this would then destroy the lock.
The locks can be locked without using the key, as the locking mechanism, can just be pressed into position.
Master lock 30mm specifications are as follows:
Body W x H x Th: 30 x 26 x 13mm.
Shackle W x H: 24 x 20mm.
Shackle diameter: 5mm.
All in all I would happily recommend these padlocks to anyone looking for a little bit of added security. They are tough, and do their job well for the small price of a few pounds. My lock is approaching 18 months old now, and still looks in very good condition with no rust. I do apply a little bit of WD40 to the lock every few months to keep the mechanism smooth and easy to operate. They are not the cheapest locks to buy, but I think they are one of the most secure and toughest padlocks that I have come across.
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2013
I purchased some Topiary Grass Balls from Argos last August after my hanging baskets (containing real plants) had all frazzled in the summer sun. I decided that they would be worth trying as almost every summer the same thing happens to my 'real' hanging baskets. It seems that just a few dry days where I forget to water them is enough for them to deteriate beyond repair.
The topiary balls from Argos come in a large cardboard box and are ready assembled. They cost £19:99 and for this price you get 2 balls, which are a nice deep green colour, and they come attached to silver metal chains which have a hook at the end to enable them to be hung up. The balls themselves are 30 cm in diameter, and the chains are roughly 35cm in length.
The quality of the topiary balls is pretty good, especially when compared to more expensive versions from various garden centres. The colour is good, and the dense thickness of the artificial leaves makes them look bushy and blocks out any sight of the inner bracket holding it all together. The chains are hung from the centre of the ball, and are firmly fixed on, with a good hook at the far end.
Almost 12 months on from my purchase of these topiary balls I am still pleased with my purchase. I left them up all over the harsh winter, and they managed to survive some pretty intense wintery conditions, including lashings of snow and ice.
The balls themselves are a bit faded, and I suspect that this would be highlighted massively if I purchased a new one and put it next to one of my current ones. However compared to the rest of the bushes, shrubs and grass nearby they look just fine, and I'm sure I will get at least another year out of them. The chains did start to rust quite early into last winter, and so I gave them a heavy coating in WD40 which seemed to reduce the rate of rusting and keep them in decent condition.
Overall for £19:99 I think these topiary balls are pretty good value for money. They sit there all year and help the front of my house to look a little more interesting and appealing without any need for me to water them or spend any time pruning or weeding etc. They do gradually fade but this is to be expected, and a handy tip that I found was to turn them round occasionally so that a different area of the ball can take the effects of the weather elements from time to time. The chain also lasts longer if coated in WD40.
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2013
I purchased a fan from Argos back in June after the weather started to get quite hot (for the UK anyway!). I was mainly after a cheap and small fan for my little office as it is on the third floor of my house and it does get hot up there in the summer. I have a little vent on my window, but I do not like to open the window itself as I always have a fear that my cat will jump out, and it would really do itself some harm from that sort of height.
The Argos value fan ticked all my boxes when I spotted it in their catalogue. It costs just £8:99 and is small in size with a 7" fan.
It came boxed up, and inside the box the fan was in 2 separate pieces - The base and the main body containing the fan blades. To put it together was really simple as the two separate pieces just needed locating together, before screwing the plastic tightening bolt on the side to hold it together. This was an easy task to perform by hand and required no tools which is always a bonus.
Although the fan from Argos is from their value range, it is good little fan. It is white in colour, and has several handy features that would not instantly be expected of a 'Value' brand product such as:
2 speed settings (slow and fast)
I have used each of these features many times now, and each works well. The tilt is perfect to get the fan to aim in the correct direction and at the ideal level, and the oscillating mode is useful to prevent a constant stream of air blowing constantly into your face.
The fan itself operates in a quiet manner which would be great for anyone trying to get to sleep with the fan on, although when it is in oscillating mode it is a little bit noisier especially at the points where the fan reaches the end of it's range and has to change direction.
In terms of dimensions it stands at 22cm high, 20cm wide and 22cm deep, and has a weight of 4 kilograms which keeps it firmly on my desk with minimal vibration. The power cord is around 1 meter long which is plenty for a desk fan in my opinion.
In summary this value fan from Argos does exactly what it needs to do. For £9 you get a flexible little fan which runs smoothly and produces a good flow of air to help keep you cool during the hot weather. It is very simple to assemble, and due to it's small dimensions it is also easy to store away in a cupboard or even a large drawer during the colder months.
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2013
I am one of those people who tends to buy the cheap brands as a general rule, and this is the same for my purchases of mouthwash. Why pay £3 for a bottle of Listerine, when you can buy a much cheaper 'unbranded' bottle for around the £1 mark?
However I do like to look out for the offers, and so a few months ago when I saw the whole range of Listerine mouthwashes had been reduced down to £1:50 in my local Morrison's store, I decided it was worth giving it a try for just the extra 50p.
Listerine (made by Johnson and Johnson Ltd of maidenhead), are one of the most famous brands when it comes to mouthwash, and looking along the shelves there were literally dozens of different coloured solutions, all aimed at different areas of antibacterial protection for the mouth.
I ended up covering all bases, by opting for the Listerine 'Total Care', which is described on the bottle as having 6 benefits in 1! These 6 benefits are as follows:
Maintains healthy gums
Strengthens teeth against decay
Prevents tartar to keep teeth naturally white
kills up to 99.9% oral bacteria
up to 24 hour fresh breath protection
Listerine Total Care is a purple coloured solution, which comes in a 500 ml clear plastic (recyclable) bottle. The flavour is based around 'clean mint', and this Listerine formulation has been approved by the British Dental Health Foundation.
The purple plastic lid at the top of the bottle is designed to stop children from opening it, with the usual tab design on the lid that needs squeezing to get the lid to turn off. This is critical in my opinion, as I could imagine that small children would be eager to get this bottle open to get a drink of the mysterious and magical looking purple potion inside it.
The directions for use are pretty standard for any mouthwash, but Listerine state that 20ml or 4 teaspoons equivalent should be poured into the mouth, and then rinsed around the teeth and gums for approx 30 seconds before spitting out the solution.
So, is it worth the high price tag?
Upon opening the bottle there is an instant strong smell of mint, mixed with a kind of germaline smell which is extremely powerful!
Each time I use the mouthwash, and pour the required amount into my mouth, I always end up in shock at just how powerful this formulation really is. The first few seconds feel kind of similar to the cheaper brands that I have used in the past, but after perhaps 5 - 10 seconds the insides of my mouth and gums start to feel hot, and a mild burning sensation starts to creep in, which just gets stronger and stronger, until I can literally no longer take the pain, so I have to quickly spit it out into the sink. It really feels like this powerful stuff is working like crazy at the plaque, bacteria and tartar, and my breath is always smelling very strongly of the fresh, minty / germaline smell for ages afterwards - although the 24 hour fresh breath is a little bit of an exaggeration, unless you perhaps eat or drink nothing for 24 hours after using the mouthwash!
After spitting out the solution my teeth do feel really clean, and it is kind of like they have just had some sort of thorough clean by the dentist! The solution is that powerful, that if I return to the sink a few hours later, even if it has been rinsed away well, there is still a very strong smell of the solution rising up from the plug hole of the sink, almost as though some strong disinfectant has just been poured down the sink!
So in conclusion, it is a lot more expensive than the cheaper brands, but it certainly does a far better job in terms of fresh breath, and plaque reduction. However I could not justify paying out £3 regularly for the Listerine mouthwash, and so I generally will keep to the cheaper stuff.
I will though keep an eye out for when this is next on offer, and I will be happy to pay the little extra for such a powerful bottle of mouthwash, especially when I feel my mouth and teeth could do with a proper workout!
I should also point out that the bottle has a couple of warnings on it that should be considered, in that this mouthwash is not suitable for children under 12 years of age, and that this mouthwash should not be diluted, swallowed, or 'swigged' from the bottle (believe me, you would have to have a mouth made of Asbestos to do this!).
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2013
I have owned a pair of Draper Expert Bypass secateurs for around 5 years now, and although I didn't use them a lot at first, the last few years has seen their usage increase quite considerably due to my ever growing interest in gardening activities.
Draper Tools is a British family-run company that has been selling high-quality tools in the United Kingdom and beyond for more than 90 years. I paid around £10 for my set from my local garden centre around 5 years ago, when I realised that my solitary bush in my old garden was in desperate need of a prune to tidy it up.
There are generally 3 types of secateurs, Parrot beak, Anvil and Bypass. Bypass secateurs feature 2 cutting blades in a similar style to a pair of scissors and are probably the most common type in use.
My Draper Bypass secateurs have green coloured metal handles, with the upper handle styled with a black rubber area to aid the comfort and grip on the hands when using. The handles are spring loaded in such a way that force is required to close the blades together to cut an object, after which the handles (and thus the blades) spring back open again ready for the next cut. They feature a lockable thumb lock, which is well positioned for the thumb to easily lock the blades together for obvious safety reasons when not in use.
Another feature of these secateurs is the 3 jaw opening slider button. This gives some flexibility when pruning as it allows the blades to be set at different widths depending on the nature and thickness of the object that needs cutting. I generally use the secateurs on the narrowest setting which is 25mm, as I find that it copes fine with almost all my pruning jobs. However there is the option to set them to 30mm and to 40mm if required which then enables the secateurs to deal thick thicker foliage.
The blades are thick and strong, with one non-stick Teflon-S coated blade which offers a smooth corrosion-free operation.
As mentioned above I didn't get much use out of this pair of secateurs at first, and I remember debating with myself in the garden centre whether £10 was too much to pay for these just to prune 1 bush with. Since moving into my new house around 18 months ago however they have certainly had a lot of use, due to the numerous plants, shrubs and trees in my new garden.
So far I have not come across a task that these powerful secateurs cannot comfortably deal with, including cutting small branches from a few large trees in my front garden.
The design is superb, and I find that it seems to take minimal effort when cutting almost anything. Both the thumb lock, and the 3 jaw slider button are positioned perfectly for the hand, and the black rubber grip on the upper handle offers real comfort when operating the secateurs, whilst also providing a good grip to stop them from sliding out of the hand.
All in all I would highly recommend these secateurs from Draper. For around £10 they are a strong and solid set, which are easy on the hand and very comfortable to operate. They are powerful, and can deal with most pruning and cutting jobs. The adjustable jaw width is a very useful feature which makes them quite a versatile little tool.
After 5 years of use, my pair still look in very good condition, with no sign of any corrosion and they work as effectively as they did on the day of purchase. Once or twice over the years I have applied a little squirt of oil to the blades and the spring loaded area of the handle just to keep them in good condition, but so far I have not had to even consider sharpening the cutting blades.
A very, very minor niggle for me would be the colour, as they are sometimes a little difficult to locate if I have put them down on the garden, especially when mixed in with the green grass and general off-cuts of shrubs and trees after pruning, but this is only a small quibble.
At the time of writing this review, Draper Expert Bypass secateurs are available from TheBigToolShop.com for £10:14 and from AllToolsDirect.co.uk for £10:57 - These both include VAT, but not delivery charges.
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2013
Having moved house about 18 months ago, it has taken me a long while to finally getting round to sorting out the garage at my new house! Over the last 2 months I have ploughed my way through all the boxes that I put into the garage when I first moved in, and have finally got everything in order. When I bought the house I planned to use the garage as a gym, as the driveway was perfectly fine for the car to be parked on.
Whilst digging my way through the boxes of stuff, and setting up and re-building my gym equipment from my previous house's garage, I came across my skipping rope that I had completely forgotten about, so I thought I would review it.
My skipping rope is about 2 years old now, and was purchased from Sports Direct for around £5 from memory. The rope / cable is quite fine and light, and is protected inside a PVC coating to help preserve it. It measures approximately 250 cm in length, and is a light grey colour.
At each end of the cable there is a nice soft cushioned handle grip. These handles are made from plastic and then covered in a nice soft grey foam, which gives a nice grip in the hand, but also stops the hands from becoming blistered after long periods of usage.
I find the skipping rope to be very comfortable to use, and the rope is a good length for my height (5"7 ish) as it is not too short that it won't go around the bottom of my feet, but it is also not too long and so doesn't get all tangled up after bouncing around loosely on the floor. The grips are really soft and comfortable, and stop the hands from sweating too much.
As I mentioned above my skipping rope is about 2 years old, although it has probably only had about 5-6 months worth of use, and so it does still look in very good condition with no obvious signs of wear to the cable or hand grips.
Having picked up a skipping rope for the first time in a long while I found I was a bit rusty at first, but the technique and rhythm soon comes flooding back, as it is a simple procedure.
For around £5 this skipping rope offers a cheap and easy way to work out in and around the house (but watch out for the ceiling lights!). The rope rotates nice and easily, and is a great weight and length which works well to keep the ideal shape when circling around the body.
It is surprising how much a short session of skipping gets the heart racing, and I can always feel it working a range of muscle in my body including my forearms, abdominals, shoulders, thighs and calves. Obviously a skipping rope can be stored away in a very small area such as a kitchen drawer, and so it is a very simple and effective form of exercise for almost anyone to own.
Thanks for reading
© L500589 2013