With school children coming towards the end of the school holidays, thoughts return to school, and if your child is sporty, can they get into the school teams this year. As a parent you will want to help them in their sporting endeavours, and if basketball is the sport for your child, then maybe you will be looking to buy them a basketball hoop to practice.
If you get a free standing backboard and net on a stand then you will be ok. But if you buy them a backboard and net that you need to fix to an outside wall so they can practice after school, you will want to know how high should a basketball net be so that you fix it at the correct height. Continue reading →
I do love to see small business programmes on TV – Dragons Den is probably the most famous. But tonight I have just seen another episode of Give It A Year, hosted by Karen Brady.
In this ITV programme Karen Brady meets new entrepreneurs who have an idea for a business, and have started on their journey to hopefully becoming a success. They discuss where they are, and what they want to achieve over the next 12 months, before she returns a year later to see how they progressed.
It’s fast action, as with 2 companies in a 30 minute show, it lacks the advice and in depth details that I feel it could give. But it does show what small companies need to go through, so you may find it interesting.
In tonight’s episode Karen met with Barry Freeder, a young man who had invented the Couch Coaster. He came up with the idea whilst watching Match of the Day with a beer in his hand. With his coffee table over the other side of the room, he felt there must have been a way to hold his beer bottle and so invented Couch Coaster (with a prototype starting from a pizza box!).
As you can see, the Couch Coaster is a long silicon product that drapes over the arm of your sofa. In the middle of the product is a holder for your cup, can or bottle, either hot or cold.
By choosing this holder you don’t need to position a coffee table nearby, or leave your drink on the floor where it is likely to be knocked over by pets, children, swinging doors or a forgetful yourself!
Available in 5 colours – brown, cream, grey (pictured), red and black – all designed to complement your sofa of choice. It has a slot for cup handles when drinking tea or coffee, but also comes with an adapter which you can insert to keep cans and bottle snug and spill free.
The buyers on Amazon that left reviews are very complimentary about the product – so many people giving it 5 stars. One person was even close to buying their 7th CouchCoaster – but only because their dog kept chewing them up! But seriously, I have rarely seen a product with almost all positive comments.
If your husband has a horrible knack of keep spilling their drinks, why not copy one of the buyers who bought one for their husband as a joke. He loved it! And has been spill free ever since.
If you have been looking for something to stop drinks spilling, this could be just what you need.
So 8 months down the line I thought I would take a more in depth look. First of all, an introduction from Mark Wesley, one of the engineers that works on the Cozmo.
First of all I have to start with the fact that it is not large at around 20 cm square. When I think of robots I always imagine them at least knee high, but what it lacks in height it makes up for in functions.
Cozmo is an intelligent robot that plays with you, and learns about it’s environment. It shows feelings, and it’s rather cute face (display) will keep you amused. Thanks to artificial intelligence, Cozmo can express hundreds of emotions. It also learns to recognise faces – up to about 8.
Using the app that is required, you can code Cozmo with Code Lab – a simple coding tool. Simply drag some blocks on your app and Cozmo will follow the instructions. He is also great at lifting his Power Cubes and stacking them on top of each other.
Using Explorer Mode you can see on his display what he sees. I think this and the Code Lab are perfectly demonstrated in this video:
Who wouldn’t want to play tricks on their teenage brother?
I’ve mentioned that Cozmo is quite small, but he is extremely tough. As well as being built to last, there are no worries when it comes to data security.
What age range would appreciate Cozmo? It’s recommended for ages 8 and upwards. But with owner reviewers up into their 40’s you can see that it has a wide attraction. If you have more than one child then they can all have apps on their phone or tablet to control Cozmo – but not all at the same time. Maybe a great idea for when they are at home at different times.
It comes boxed with 1 Cozmo robot, 1 charger, and 3 Power Cubes. I was very impressed by one reviewer who said that by playing with Cozmo her 9 year old son, whos suffers from autism, was learning about playing for the fun of playing rather than having to win. He doesn’t have many friends so finds the social interaction of Cozmo a great addition to his life.
Overall Cozmo is a great toy robot. It is a toy built by a robotics company, which puts it way ahead of any toy company made robots. Yes it is small, and it is expensive, but the coding skills learnt, the way it interacts with you as it learns, and it’s all round entertainment value make this a great buy for someone interested in a little friend.
If you do buy Cozmo and you want to take him to friends, you may be interested in the hard carrying case specifically designed for purpose.
With schools across the country about to break up for 6 weeks, how are you going to keep your young ones entertained? I am sure there will be holidays and day trips planned, but these can prove expensive. With the best will in the world, there will be days at home.
Whilst your children may be happy to be indoors either watching TV or playing on their computer games, you may be itching for them to get outside in the sunshine (presuming that this great weather we have had so far this summer continues. Never a given when it comes to school holidays!). Continue reading →
You love barbecues. Eating outside in the sunshine, with a glass of your favourite drink, and tasting food perfectly cooked with that special barbecue taste. But what is even better? When your loved one is the person who likes to do the cooking.
So what can you do to make him or her say to you when you get home after a hard day’s work, “Hey, why don’t I barbecue for us tonight?” No wondering what to prepare for yet another night at home, your partner has got it covered. All you have to do is get into some casual clothes and relax. How can you make that happen? Buy some gifts that will encourage them!! Continue reading →
We are well into summer now, and the weather forecasters are predicting a heatwave over the next few weeks. Which means that it is officially barbecue weather! The smell of meat cooking will be filling back gardens throughout the land. And so, we bring you the best in barbecues, starting with our selection of gas barbecues.
Click on the images to read more from Amazon, or scroll down for our own summary of each one.
CosmoGrill 6+1 Deluxe Gas Burner
4.5 / 5
Outback Omega 250 Gas Babecue
4.5 / 5
Marco Phillippe Gas Barbecue
4.5 / 5
FirePlus 4+1 Gas Burner
4.5 / 5
Fire Mountain Everest 3 Burner
4 / 5
Of course, not everyone wants to be cooking on gas, some would prefer the more traditional charcoal barbecue for a more authentic flavour.
Weber Compact 47cm
4.5 / 5
Landmann Stainless Steel Pedestal
4.5 / 5
Azuma Black Steel Barrel BBQ
4.5 / 5
tepro Toronto Grill Barbecue
4.5 / 5
Fire Mountain Deluxe Trolley Barbecue
4.5 / 5
Which should I choose – gas or charcoal barbecue?
There are both positives and negatives to both types of barbecues, so when choosing which to buy, a lot comes down to personal preferences.
Positives and negatives of gas barbecues
Tend to be pricier than charcoal barbecues, although you can get some cheaper models that compare
Easier to clean – a big positive
Can get smoky flavour with the use of wood chips in a smoker box
More parts that could break
Positives and negatives of charcoal barbecues
Generally cheaper than gas barbecues, although top of the range models can be expensive
Longer to light and get to cooking heat
More difficult to clean – and who likes that job?
Always a smoky flavour
You get to be manly and play with fire, although tougher to control temperature and can get very hot!
What to do before cooking
First of all, light your barbecues. gas barbecues need at least 10 minutes to heat up before cooking; charcoal barbecues need at least 20 minutes (and often much more!). After this time ensure that your grill plate is clean (you did clean it after the last use, didn’t you?). Brush it with a wire brush or use aluminium foil scrunched into a ball. The heat will have loosened any leftover grease but be careful and don’t burn yourself before you have even started cooking.
Once your gas barbecue is hot enough, or your charcoal has turned to white ash, then you can start to think about cooking.
What to cook on your barbecue
Sausages and burgers are the most obvious item with children around. Chicken drumsticks, lamb chops and steak are all popular with most people. But you can be creative and cook vegetables too – corn on the cob, vegetable kebabs, and jacket potatoes are all possible. And of course, don;t forget a nice salmon steak for those that like their fish.
Try not to turn your food too often. It’s tempting also to push down on the meat to help it get closer to the heat – all you will be doing will be squeezing the juices onto the flames below, and that juiciness can never be recovered.
If you want the aroma and taste of herbs, throw a few onto your charcoal or if using gas soak some in water and cook your meat directly on top.
Here’s Jamie Oliver with a masterclass on vegetable cooking on barbecues:
The CosmoGrill from FirePlus has 6 stainless steel burners that can be individually ignited. If you are hosting a large party this will give you the capacity to cope with demand, however if it is just a romantic meal for 2 then you don;t need to use all the burners.
It has a side burner to keep food warm, as it’s not always possible to cook all you need at once.
It’s thermometer will help keep the heat at a temperature that’s right for what you are cooking, giving you more control and less chance of burning your food. It has a double layered hood to keep heat in, and 4 castor wheels for easy manouverability.
Most people found this easy to put together but suggest better with 2 of you. They also suggest that if moving to be careful and again. maybe 2 people would be a wise option.
It is a 47 cm kettle barbecue, which are popular amongst many people. It has a fixed grill height, and although it does not come with a cover we would recommend one if it is going to sit outside in a typical British summer. Very sturdy and easy to assemble.
The Toronto Grill from Tepro is one of teh more expensive charcoal barbecues you can find, but it has a lot of added benefits.
Made from cast iron, it has a crank which lowers or raises the tray holding the coals so that you can get the perfect cooking temperature.
Close the lid and you will get an even temperature all round for perfect cooking. It also has a thermometer built into the lid so you can keep an eye on the temperature whilst the lid is down. The side shelf is perfect for holding sauces and marinades close by.
Made from strong black powder-coated steel, the Fire Mountain Deluxe Charcoal Barbecue has 2 adjustable grills over 3 heights. It also has two side shelves and storage underneath.
The adjustable grills prove perfect for cooking different types of food at the same time, although the back grill could be used as a warming grill.
So there you go – 5 gas and 5 charcoal barbecues to choose from. So whichever is your favourite style of cooking on barbecues, why not take a look and choose one now. We have had a great summer so far, and it sounds like the next few weeks are going to make cooking outside even more tempting.
Click on the images to see latest prices and see product details from Amazon, or scroll down to read more about plastic waste and litter, and details of the products selected.
Environment impact of litter
You cannot help but know that in today’s modern world we produce far too much litter that has a negative impact on our planet. It seems far too easy to create litter, and even easier it seems to not dispose of it properly.
If you look around you as you go about your everyday life, you will see plastic bottles, cigarette butts and packets, sweet and fast food wrappers, and all sorts of rubbish just strewn over paths and in bushes.
And this has a negative impact on our environment. Screw negative – we are DAMAGING our planet. Continue reading →
If you are looking for the 2019 Christmas shows, click here for the Gifts and Gadgets show, and click here for the Toys show.
You may remember back just before Christmas , Britain’s favourite presenter Phillip Schofield, gave us a three part guide to buying presents for our loved ones. Well last night he was back with another show in a similar fashion, called How To Spend It Well: House And Garden.
In the show he looked at what products we should be buying this summer with the help of his wife Steph and some more celebrity friends, as well as members of the British public. In true Phillip Schofield style it was a fun show, and gave us just the right amount of information to make the best decisions.Continue reading →
It’s just 3 weeks now to Fathers Day – for those who can’t remember it’s Sunday June 17th – and so now is the perfect time to think of what gift you are going to get for the first special man in your life.
Obviously a lot depends on what your father likes to do, what his interests are, but here’s a run down of 10 great gift ideas you can use for Fathers Day.
As we step into May, with a long, wet winter behind us, most people are itching to get to warmer climates. As lovely as summer days can be, our infamous British weather makes us itch for some guarantee of warmth and sunshine.
So if you are planning a short break, you may also be looking for the perfect travel bags to take. You’ve probably got some big luggage for your long holiday, but if you are looking for something that will be best for a weekend away, take a look at this list below.
If you are looking for a hardshell case for your holidays, the Hauptstadtkoffer Alex is perfect – as the majority of the over 800 reviews on Amazon testify! You know if this many people have purchased that this is a great case.
Available in 18 colours, it also comes in larger sizes if you want to get a matching set. The hardshell makes your contents extremely safe, and the 4 wheels and telescopic handle make manouvering easy.
As the name suggests, this is larger than your gym bag that you used to empty out for your trips away. More than capable of fitting all you need for a few nights away. Made from faux leather, it is super stylish, and comes in a variety of colours. I can’t decided whether I prefer grey or blue best.
If you are going to travel, then why not travel in style? The butterfly design will get you noticed as you stride through the airport lounge. If butterflies are not your thing, maybe owls will be your pick.
With the exterior made from faux leather, there are several pockets that will prove handy for you.
With a 44 litre capacity, this bag is great at holding all you need for a short trip away. Despite being lightweight, it’s also waterproof, so perfect for a UK trip as well! As well as a large main compartment it has 3 front compartment to help keep you organised. Available in a variety of colours if black is too drab for you.
If you are looking for a walk on bag for a short overseas trip, this is the one for you. Not only will you be able to beat the queues at the baggage claim, you will also avoid the extra expense that the airlines insist on adding nowadays.
With a front compartment for your laptop, room for a tablet, and plenty of space for clothes, this becomes the best underseat bag for a business traveller. Buyers report that they can easily get 3 days worth of clothes, maybe even 4. For regular travellers, whether business or the city break away, seriously consider this investment – you won;t regret it.
The Bago Duffle bag is not only lightweight at 700 grams, but extremely durable. It measures 30x40x70cm, making a great size to put under your seat when travelling. Just in case you are looking to buy this for your fella, and worried about the pink, it comes in a variety of colours that may suit more.
As well as looking great, this gets our vote for being organised – it has many pockets that even the most disorganised person can’t help but think how useful.
This is the bag for you if you are looking for something to hold all your work and work tools. Maybe ideal for someone who is on a day trip or who just wants to keep their work items out of their main luggage.
Not strictly a bag, but a cover that goes around your normal golf bag. Your club heads will be protected in travel by a layer of foam padding, so you need not worry about damage.
As well as your golf bag, there is plenty of room for clothes. So keep your golfwear separate from the rest of your luggage. There’s also a large front pocket – perfect for your shoes, maybe?
Straps will keep your golf bag in place, and extra tough handles make carrying or pulling (did I mention the wheels?) a breeze!
So there you go, that’s our selection of bags for you. I hope you find this useful, for more details click on the pictures or bag names and this will take you to Amazon where you can purchase.
Of course, as well as buying your bag to travel with, don’t forget to get a luggage label to make sure you get yours, and not another reader of this post! We recommend something a bit bright, to stand out from the crowd on the baggage carousel.
Products from Amazon.co.uk
No matter where you go, I hope you have a great break. We all deserve a trip away sometimes, so kick back, you have worked hard, and relax!