It’s taken a year to get round to this but we now have a final version of our wedding video (at least as good as it will get). Here is is:
We got this through eBay but were pretty unimpressed by how it fixed to our bike, certainly not wanting to put our little yorkie Ruby at risk with! So back it goes. See the flaws in this video. I think we’re going to try a Topeak basket from Evans cycles next
Just a short(ish) video review we took of this great campsite a couple of miles out of Prestatyn. Giving a bit of a guided tour and description of the facilities. Also giving some ideas on a couple of places/things to do locally on foot with directions. I had some things to say at the end so I used a bit of footage of our Yorkie Ruby enjoying the large dog walking field.
This is a great campsite. Mix of touring caravans, motorhomes and tents. Very friendly (including for well behaved dogs), well laid out, clean, but not too mega formal. Walking distance from the sea and dunes where there is tons of wildlife, but also backed up by easy access into the countryside. I only hinted at it, but we rode our bikes one day from the campsite to Prestatyn and then took the Prestatyn to Dyserth Way (http://goo.gl/bDRa7) which is a disused railway line that they converted to a cycle path between the two towns. Great route up into the hills to Dyserth which has a great pub and an impressive waterfall. Even if you don’t have bikes you can walk it.
We’d also highly recommend a tour around Prestatyn town for lots of individual shops, a wealth of charity shops, but also this new shopping area they built also in centre of town which is pretty good (including Next, M&S (food too), Next, River Island, Tesco etc. free parking.
It took about an hour from Liverpool via Runcorn. I hope you enjoy – We want to move there!
We have been changing the lighting in our communal rooms from the tacky Ikea halogens (which bulbs seemed to go continuously) to light fittings that take standard bulbs (read: energy efficiency drive). We could have gone with your standard pendant set from b&q such as this but instead opted for a fashionable Plumen pendant set. I was not impressed I’m afraid as can be seen in this video:
- No instructions included
- No inside to the ceiling rose so a very unsatisfactory quality of fitting – you will either have a gap between rose and ceiling or be in fear of it falling down with your valuable glass lamp shade
- The wire is far from the fabric wire as advertised – it’s a black plastic wire with faux fish net covering.
- Instead make your own set for peanuts out of black wire, a black lamp holder and painted black ceiling rose, or look around for something higher quality like this remade 1940′s bakerlite set
We made this short video which explains how we finally managed to put up our new Pax Tonnes wardrobe despite our wonky uneven floorboards. This wardrobe is great at what it does to keep all of our clothes together and organised rather than strewn across the floor. It’s got the space and organisation options we required. As our house is quite old (1900′s red brick terrace, high ceilings, wooden floorboards) we were worried that anything that resembled ‘fitted wardrobe’ would not suit, but the Pax Tonnes with glass doors and asian inspired cherry blossom design fits in very well, does not do away with the heritage of the house but instead just is.
But construction must surely be easier in a new build with level flooring. Our floor must have sunk slightly, as the joists and floorboards aren’t level any more. Not noticably so, but when putting up each of the components of the wardrobe (four individual cupboards screwed together) I noticed up to an inch difference in height. And for the rail and door system to fit/work they must be completely in line. Hence I packed each cupboard using varying amounts of ply to obtain an equal height. It took more than one effort.
Here’s the video:
In this video we took a look at the Kindle Fire mini tablet device. This was from a viewpoint of which we have been using the Kindle 3 ebook reader for a number of years now, so it was interesting to compare and contrast both models. What is apparent is that these two devices serve two very different purposes and both are good at what they do.
If you want to get this device predominantly to read ebooks (like the ones you get from the Amazon Store then you still absolutely cannot go wrong with an ‘e-ink’ device such as the original Kindles (i.e. Kindle 3). The screen is much nicer on the eyes as it does not require a backlight which could otherwise be tiring to look at – but it’s only monochromatic which means good for black and white text and pictures. The battery life is astounding, probably about a month with reading every day. And it’s simple and easy to use. Works with the Amazon store, plus easy to email books to it (for example free books from Project Gutenburg). It does have a simple (albeit slow) web browser, can play mp3s through it’s onboard speakers, and does things like text-to-speech.
On the otherhand if you want something a bit more exciting, above and beyond just than consuming ebooks, then the Kindle Fire is your fella. This does it all: ebooks, movies, videos, music, newspapers, comics, the web. It is definitely a veritable iPad killer, the screen is more than adequate, media playback is good, the browser fully equipped, and it’s about a third of the price. Out of the box the Kindle Fire comes with a month free trial of LoveFilm which has a massive collection of videos to watch, which stream through your wifi connection (normally £5/month). There are also free trials for newspaper subscriptions. We thought that for reading ebooks however, the screen would feel too bright to use at length, also it was quite a hefty weight. Plus the battery will last you about 4-6 hours so get ready to charge everyday (or will it become just another piece of kit that is too much hassle to keep remembering to charge and you eventually top using regularly?)
So in conclusion:
- Great for rich-media consumption
- Make sure you factor in £5/month for the LoveFilm subscription (worth it if you go for the Fire)
- Make sure you’ve got wifi in the places that you intend to use LoveFilm
- The superior ebook reader
- Light and confortable screen to use
- Simple menu system (screen reader for great accessibility)
- Battery life is great
We present videos from our honeymoon in Mexico that review the two hotels we stayed at, booked through Thomson holidays. The long and short of it is that we weren’t happy with initial hotel the Riu Playacar (our fault we didn’t work out what we wanted and also were a bit wowed with the trip to see through the marketing), so we paid for an upgrade to the Riu Palace Mexico which was much better for us, although even then we got a bit fed up with the whole all-inclusive thing (didn’t really sit with out usual individual choice of holiday. Anyway read on and watch them videos!
Initially we’d booked in at the Riu Playacar, Playa Del Carmen for the full two weeks. Fine for a holiday, but not for this one off occasion all the way over in Mexico, when you can get the same level pretty much standard closer to home.
Things not great for our honeymoon:
- Basic rooms
- A large bed but made up of two beds pushed together (ok maybe that’s the norm here but at this hotel no effort to create one large bed, i.e. separate sheets and quilt
- Poor quality of spirits in the room. No brands apart from the tequila. The other spirits non-descript in label and taste and with these you’re not really tempted to use the all-inclusive because they’re not a pleasure to drink!
- Entertainment hall right outside the balacony so feels like being on a Butlins camp ’til late at night
- Food in the restaurants was ok but nothing more. Basically a large buffer restaurant where three-quarters of the food is weird mass produced garbage (colourful but basically chopped peppers and spam salads. Breakfast here was nice though. Then in evening there are two pop-up restaurants which are actually the one restaurant room split into two
- The traders that the management let into the hotel compound tend to setup their stalls in a way that makes it difficult to walk around at night and spoil the tranquility.
It sounds like we’re really hard to please! There were some good things: the breakfast was great, and also the bloody mary’s the guy in the lobby bar serves up (actually better than the Riu Palace does).
Normally we’d be very happy with this, but not when we spent so much money with Thomsons, to go halfway across the world, on our one (and hopefully only) honeymoon!
So after a couple of days we made the decision that if we did not ask to be moved to another hotel, we’d end up not enjoying our honeymoon. So we the Thomson rep organised a transfer to the Riu next door the Riu Palace. Unfortunately Thomson were unable to give us any kind of concessions to us on an upgrade so we had to pay the extra (can’t really complain about this), but they also passed on a £400 ‘cancellation’ fee (really annoying considering it was actually an upgrade and they were taking more money from us for the paid upgrade). We paid up because we felt we had little choice, we tried to ask for money on return after looking into it but no joy, nice way to start married life with another £2k debt. We had bought premium seat upgrade on plane, multiple excursions etc. Moldy buggers! Any honeymooners flying with Thomson you might want to check our paperwork below.
||Complaint to Thomson about cancellation fee|
Anyway gave us an opportunity to carry out a further video review, and in the end we were very pleased we did make the move. The general hotel accomodation was much more luxurious and facilitating. The grounds were nice to walk through. Lots more restaurant choices as detailed in the video.
All in all, looking back now, it’s amazing that we went to Mexico. It was very relaxing for us after all the tiring and worrying preparations of our wedding. And we had a good time.
As an all-inclusive virgin I’m not sure I’d do it again. Foods an enjoyable part of the holiday for us as I’m sure it is for a lot of people, not just pile it high stuff, but tasting food that is unique from an area, traditional and basic quality. Neither hotels could deliver on this. I guess this is because they have to cut costs and they’re limited in their food selection being where they are on the Yukatan peninsula. But some of the restaurants were really hit and miss, and looking in the brochure they offer the same menus worldwide. The fusion restaurant ‘Krystal’ was absolutely dreadful! Most of the other restaurants absolutely piled on the salt into their dishes, and many dishes/sauces had some weird chlorine taste going on. Surprisingly the mexican food itself wasn’t up to much either (we did have good mexican food out one day when we visited Coba so we knew that it was about). The other tourists we spoke to were really surprised that we were there for two weeks – I guess that US visitors are there for shorter breaks during which time there is still a novelty factor. By the end of the holiday I was looking forward to getting back to our home kitchen and be the preparer of our own meals!
Update – The Riu Palace has gone undergone an update to their rooms, see a tour of the new accommodation in our video Riu Palace Mexico Playacar renovation 2012
So our advise for other honeymooners -
think wisely about what you are after. If you are after luxury see if you can find a smaller establishment that maybe provides just a bed and a breakfast but then leaves you and your tastebuds to make up your own mind for other meals out. See if you can get a better deal and time by staying in Europe. We had a fantastic holiday a couple of years ago at Palolem Beach in Goa India. We stayed at a place called Ciaran’s which was a small collection of beach huts, but didn’t feel like roughing it at all, very boho and beautiful and probably a good site cheaper than anything the Riu can do: http://ciarans.com/
||Complaint to Thomson about cancellation fee|
In this video we talk about how we prepare our Christmas tree for the festivities, preparing it from it’s outdoor year-round life in the allotment, for it’s short break indoors in our warm home. We want the tree to have a long and happy life so we’ve picked up a few tips along the way to allow this over the four years we’ve had this particular tree.
We recommend looking for a tree with roots (otherwise it would die!), try and buy it from a reputable retailer/stockist as some trees marketed as “with roots” have some of the roots removed so that they are not suitable for growing on. Look for the smallest tree you can bear (and then a bit smaller) in order to have a cutesy Christmas tree that will last your family for many happy years to come! After Christmas is over look for a Terracotta pot, in which you can bury the tree on the ground, and the clay helps passage of moisture so that the tree can more easily draw moisture from the ground. Every few years pot on.
Being based in Liverpool we bought our tree from the fantastic Aigburth Hall Nursery (~£25), but we also say very small growable trees at B&Q (£~14). Any questions/comments either post a comment here or back on the Youtube page.
I posted a video on YouTube back in Feb 2012 in which I presented a review of our new Dyson DC39 vacuum cleaner, in which I pointed out a few design flaws which I? was disappointed about. That video can be found here, and embedded at the bottom of this post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so6cnLTvJ8Q
The video has had quite a few viewers, and some of the commenters said that it was useful and the points raised were real issues. So I wrote a letter to Dyson highlighting the main points. I include below my letter and the swift response received from Dyson.
I am very impressed with the speed they cam back with a reply. I do think that they did acknowledge the problems although I think it was kind of “we knew about the static, we advise to use anti-static wipes”, “don’t worry about the flimsyness, we test everything”, “if your model is having a problem sounds like you need to get in touch with us”. So no real comments and apprechiations from the design team. I’ll write more about this when I have had a chance to think.
The letter to Dyson (also in pdf dysonresponse):
16th October 2012
I wanted to write to you to give feedback on our new Dyson vacuum cleaner the Dyson DC39 Animal which we bought in February this year, and to see if some of the things I have found have also been a concern to your design team and to find out ways that these problems are being addressed.
This is our second Dyson vacuum, our previous model was the DC05 Motorhead cylinder which lasted about 5 years, and we were very happy with that model. Unfortunately we feel that the new model is a retrograde step from our previous model, and the design flaws outlined below really do make this premium appliance extremely unappealing to use:
- The way the wand expands seems to leave a film of hair and dust on the outside of the wand. I understand that the expanding wand mixed with static electricity might be to blame here, but the problem seems much worse than with our old model. It tends to make vacuuming with the DC39 a dirty job – not all dirt is taken away, you end up with dirt stored on the outside of the cleaner and on your hands and clothes. I think it is a design floor with indentations on the wand and absence of a close-fitting sleeve.
- The bin hopper has a couple of problems. I like the idea of the bottom opening bin but in practice the catch that opens the bottom of the hopper is very difficult to open, and the plastic catch that secures the bottom of the bin appears to be very flimsy. It does not extrude the quality that this premium product should. It hasn’t broken on me yet but the way it is molded would require a whole new bin which seems wasteful. Again because this is a difficult part of the design, in order to concentrate on opening the bin and then closing it, you tend to end up with dirt all over yourself.
- There are two other minor points. I find that the pneumatic motorised head sometimes difficult to get spinning and I also lost to how this model can boast that it features a ball when in fact it seems to run on wheels.
I have uploaded a Youtube video review (shortened link – http://goo.gl/CcLe2) which demonstrates these points in a constructive way, and judging by the number of viewers (17,500) and commenters these concerns are shared by other consumers. I was really happy with my old model that seemed much sturdier with more attention on good delivery of performance rather than aesthetic design. It worries me that all of the top Dyson models have the same flaws.
I really like Dyson. As an asthma and allergy sufferer I feel particularly thankful for the attention Dyson had brought to things such as HEPA filters, making these products accessible to everybody. I also like the way that Dyson operates it’s after-sales service, providing easy to order spares and operating a network of engineers that goes against ‘throw-away society’. But I really do feel let down by this top-of-the-range model that I had hoped to get many years of satisfaction from using, but in fact on each use I am reminded of it’s failings.
It would be very interesting to hear a response from your team on these points.
Dyson’s response (also in pdf letterfromdyson):
20th November 2012 Ref:
Dear Mr Moindrot
Thank you for your letter received on 1 6th November 201 2.
I am sorry to learn that you feel there are some particular design issues on the DC39 which you feel could be changed however it is good to hear that you like the aftersales service and ease of ordering parts. I will try to answer most of your points in the letter.
First, in regards to the dust sticking to the outside of the machine, you are right in saying that this is static charge causing this to happen. This does not happen to every machine but when it does we recommend using an anti-static cloth to wipe over the machine occasionally as this will stop it from happening.
The bin should not be difficult to open therefore there may be an issue here. It should be a simple press of the button which will allow the red catch to push it open. If this issue continues I would recommend contacting the Helpline about this on the number below. In regards to the flimsiness of the plastic catch I would not worry too much about this. Please be assured that the individual plastic parts are fully tested before a vacuum cleaner is launched. The entire vacuum cleaner is also tested at Dyson on a computerised rig that accurately simulates vacuuming at its most vigorous. As well as this we complete extensive home trials to replicate normal domestic use. In conclusion, the plastics used to manufacture Dyson vacuum cleaners have consistently proven to be durable and strong.
You mention that the machine runs on wheels instead of the actual ball however I can confirm that the main body runs on a ball and the front carriage where the hose clips on runs on a wheel otherwise it would drag along the floor.
TETBURY Hill MALMESBURY WILTSHIRE ENGLAND SN 1 6 0RP
FAX 01666 827299
FAX 01666 827298
We are continually looking to improve our products and service and your suggestions are extremely valuable in helping with this process. Your comments are greatly appreciated and we do have a feedback system. Thank you once again for taking the time to contact us.
If you require any further advice or assistance please do not hesitate to contact our customer Helpline on telephone number 0800 298 0298 between the hours of 7am to 10pm, seven Hel days a week.
Gemma Topley Customer Liaison
The original video: