Saturday, 3 January 2015

Review: Karcher Car Interior Cleaning Kit

I've been very lucky to try out and review lots of Karcher products over the last year. One of my favourites has been the MV3P Multi Vac cleaner, which I am using most days to clean the house. It really does have superb suction and is so light for such a large volume cleaner.

I also use this cleaner for doing the car but I'll be honest and say that does not happen very often as my car is my one slobbish area of life. I do despair of my car though as it gets absolutely filthy, my three kids don't seem able to keep their pens in their pencil cases, their crumbs in their packets or even put their packets in the bin!

Life has got a bit easier though as Karcher sent me their car interior cleaning kit to use with my multi-vac. The kit includes an extension suction tube, a long narrow attachment, a hard flat attachment, a soft brush, a hard brush, a chamois and a duster. At £57.99 this kit is not cheap at all but after using it today I am convinced of its value.

I hate cleaning the car and find it normally takes ages as the regular vacuum end takes so long to pick anything up but with all my attachments the time really was cut. Now I realise that makes me sound like one of those rubbish TV adverts trying to sell you things but honestly they are good. I used the hard brush on the chairs and this easily cleared off crumbs and sand that were loitering, I used the long thin attachment for between the seats and under the chairs where I cannot normally reach and my favourite attachment is the wide (but narrow gap) hard attachment that I can do the boot and car floor with. This made easy work of getting up dog hairs and also all the ground in dirt that has been on the floor for a number of months!

Miss M came to help me clean the car and everything was very easy for a 7 year old to use too, she was happy cleaning and it was not hard work for her. She was switching the attachment heads herself in no time.

Take a look at the difference in this foot well, the cleaning kit really did make easy work of cleaning it up -

There is something in the kit to clean all aspects of the car - chamois for the windows, soft brush to do the tricky air vents and such on the dashboard and a micro cloth for the rest of the dashboard/ interior. The brushes and attachments I've already mentioned are really decent quality plastic and bristle and I think they will last quite some time.

I did genuinely like this car cleaning accessory kit, I'm very glad to have it and I can see it being used a lot (well as much as I clean the car anyway) but I have to be honest and say the price is a bit heavy for me. The best I could find it for was £52.08 on Amazon but thinking about it the multi-vac itself was an excellent price and the basic model is as low as £69.99 and combine that to the £57.99 RRP and you do have a good vac with excellent accessories for a very reasonable price.

Thanks so much Karcher, it has been great to work with you this year as an ambassador.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Review: Jabra Sport Rox Wireless Earbuds

A few years ago I received a Jabra drive to use and review and I'm happy to say that three years later I am still just as happy with the performance of my in-car Jabra hands-free speaker as I was when I wrote the review back in September 2011. So when I had the chance to review the Jabra Sport Rox wireless earbuds I jumped at the opportunity and I knew they would be super.

The Jabra Sport Rox wireless earbuds are premium earbuds to be used by those who love to indulge in serious sports whilst listening to their music or podcasts. They retail for £129.99 on the Jabra site but I'd recommend shopping around as I managed to find them as low as £75.59 on HandTec which is a seriously great price. They'd make a superb Christmas present for a runner or gym lover.

For sports use only?
I'll clarify for you now, I am NOT a serious sports star, many of you will have seen pictures of me and I'm just not cut-out for it but I do go to the gym each week and I love to walk round the three lakes at my home so these earbuds are great for the not-so-serious sportsperson too. The two earbuds are attached by a short wire that you wear behind your head/ neck and there is a tiny fitclip that you can put on the wire if you wish to make it shorter/ a more tight fit but do be careful as it is so tiny it would be very easy to lose and I have already dropped it under the fridge once!

I was impressed to see that these little earbuds have been built to US military standards and are sweat, rain, shock, sand and dust proof.

The ear buds are clearly marked with L and R so you know which ear they need to go in and there are 4 sets of different size EarGels which are very easy to attach to the earbud and ensure you have a nice cosy fit in your ear, of course this is important so they don't drop out whilst you are exercising. They also act as a good barrier to sweat getting in to the earbud. As well as the EarGels to ensure a good fit there are also 3 sets of different sized EarWings which fit into the top of the ear and give even greater stability to the earbuds.

I love the fact that if you want to pause your workout you can just hang the earbuds around your neck and the steel metal plate/ back side of each earplug is a magnet and they connect together so they don't fall off or get lost. When the magnets are connected they also send the earbuds into power saving mode which is very useful. The white colour is really stylish and anyone would be proud to be seen wearing these. Although to be honest once they are in they are nice and inconspicuous.

You can do everything you need to with this tiny headset - play and pause music, skip tracks, control volume, and even take calls with a quick tap on your headset. With the built-in microphone these earbuds are great for taking calls when you need your hands free to do other jobs as well.

As well as the earbuds, EarGels and EarWings you also receive a USB charger and armband to put your phone/ iPod in.

How easy is it to set up?
Super simple is the quick answer. They’re Bluetooth (4.0) and NFC/Perimeter Pairing-compatible, so you can choose the set up method that suits you, I used my Bluetooth. The instruction book says it is a 5 minnute set-up guide and it really is. You turn your headphones on for the first time by pressing the button on the earbud wire for 5 seconds and then you hear the audio set up instructions. Basically I had to make sure my Bluetooth was on and go to that menu and the Jabra Sport Rox appeared and I pressed it and it automatically paired and was ready for us.

I switched the EarGels to the right size for me and added on EarWings so I had a good close fit and that was it I was ready to go.

What is the performance like?
I loved the sound that came out of these tiny earbuds. It was so good and it is great that you can download the unique Jabra Sound App to experience Dolby sound (code included with each purchase). I didn't experience any interference or noises that I was not expecting, just good clear songs and speaking from my music and podcasts.

There is 5 hours music playtime before the earbuds need recharging and you can do this easily by slipping away one of the metal coverings and revealing the mini USB charging port. Plug the included lead into any laptop or USB charger and in 2.5 hours you will have fully charged headphones again.

The standby time is roughly 432 hours and talk time if you are using it as a phone headset is about 5.5 hours. I think these are all pretty good times and certainly enough for me exercising! It is also pretty darn good that you get a verbal cue to tell you when it is time to recharge the headset.

I'm really pleased with the Jabra Sport Rox earbuds, if I'm honest I think I am more of a traditional earphone kind of girl as I'm not so sure about having the tight fitting earbuds but then again as I do not do the rigorous sports I don't really need them. I was chatting to my friend Natalie who is an avid runner and she tried out the headset for me on a run and pronounced them a Godsend, so that is high praise indeed!

Stay up to date with all the latest Jabra products by following them on Facebook.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Review: Photo Canvas from Wallcreate

Last week my Mum went in for an operation on her foot and now she is resting up in bed or on the sofa for the next few weeks and whilst I might think all that enforced rest is a good thing as it means I could ignore the kids and their constant demands, it seems my Mum is bored already.

I'm off to visit her tomorrow to provide some different conversation and to give my Dad a rest from the cooking, washing-up and ironing and I thought it would be wonderful to take Mum a gift.  We have already sent her cards and some flowers from our family but I now have a beautiful photo canvas to give her.

She has a space on the wall at the end of her bed and maybe she might just like gazing up at her daughter and grand kids whilst she rests up?  I'll soon find out tomorrow!

Above is the photo canvas that I am going to be taking down to Mum. It is 20 x 30cm and retails for just 14.97 with a 2cm depth frame or 16.97 with a 4cm depth frame from Wallcreate.

I was very pleased with this canvas and for the price it is fantastic value. It has been a couple of years since I last got a photo canvas but I'm sure they were not as cheap as this site.  Often cheap equals low quality but that does not appear to be the case here, the photo canvas is perfectly good, the colouring is accurate, it is finished well and you even get a couple of little fixings for when you want to wall mount it.

I like the fact that there is a whole variety of sizes available from Wallcreate (rectangles, squares, long rectangles) and I really adore the 3 canvas panels, where you have one print split over three different canvases. As I mentioned the prices are superb and the postage is reasonable too at 4.97 within the UK. They estimate that delivery will take 2-5 working days and mine did indeed take just 2 days.

I was happy enough with the packaging that the canvas arrived in, it was in bubble wrap and then sellotaped in a cardboard box. On the website it says there would be more card protecting it but I did not find that and frankly it didn't really need it anyway.

As well as the photo canvases Wallcreate also sell canvas wall art with famous pictures, pop art, cute images and so much more. It is definitely worth a good look around and see what you fancy.

Overall I'm very happy with my photo canvases and I'd happily buy from Wallcreate again.

Disclosure: I was sent 2 identical canvas photos for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Shuffle card games - fabulous Christmas presents

Last week we were sent four Shuffle card games to review and I have to say I think they are fantastic. I love playing games with the kids but in this modern day I find it hard to carve out two hours to devote to a traditional game of Monopoly but this is where the Shuffle games come in extremely useful.  You can play with the kids and it is great that you can play a game with just two of you, for years JJ and I struggled as the girls were too young and dh was not into board or card games and you needed more players.

There are a whole variety of games and they all play in a different way, so the fun and variety just keeps on going if you have more than one set. Each game is clearly marked to show what age group it is aimed at, how many people can play and how long they estimate a game will take - about 15 - 20 minutes in the main, which is very realistic and manageable.

The games retail for £6.99 and can be bought in loads of major stores like WHSmith, Tesco and John Lewis. Or of course on Amazon too.

As you can see from the photos the games all come in the same sturdy plastic box, you will see the size from it in my hand and it has an easy to use but effective catch to keep it closed. These games are perfect for travelling and taking on holiday as they are small and easily portable. There is a sticky strip across the front of each box which shows you which game you have in the box and in honesty I'm not sure how long that strip will last before it is all dog-eared, dirty and has lots its stickiness, I say this as it was already curling up on a couple of the boxes when I too their brand new sleeves off.  This is cosmetic though and neither here nor there to be truthful.

The first game we wanted to play was the Littlest Pet Shop as the bright cards really appealed to my twin 7 year old's. Sadly our instruction booklet was missing from our package and we had no idea what to do but a quick look on the Shuffle website meant that I could print a new set of instructions an even watch a really clear demonstration video of how to play.

We found that the cards in each of the games are very high quality, the cardboard is thick and has a glossy, wipe-clean feel to it. The edges are really smooth and they are very suitable for children to play with.

Realistically it does take a few try-out games to get to know what you are doing and to start really enjoying yourself but once you know what you are up to, these are fabulous and such a lot of fun. Especially as many are based on games we already know and love like Cludeo, Trivial Pursuit, Battleships and Monopoly.

I'm pretty sure these games are going to be travelling with us when we go and visit all the family around Christmas time as we are staying in hotels and will have some down-time to kill and also it will be fun for the grandparents to be able to get involved with a game of Trivial pursuit that only takes 20 minutes. You can imagine how much fun the kids will think it is to steal a wedge from one of us!

Another great thing about these games is that once you have played them quite a bit and the shine might be wearing off you can then download a free app (both apple and android) for every game and this adds more fun, what it does will be different depending on the game but it is always great to get something for nothing.

At £6.99 I think these are perfect small gifts to give to children at Christmas and I'll certainly be stocking up.

Disclosure: We received these games free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Mayfair Hotel, St Helier, Jersey

Recently we travelled to Jersey with condor ferries and enjoyed a great family holiday on the island. Condor kindly arranged our hotel accommodation with one of the hotels that they partner with when arranging holidays through them. We stayed at the Mayfair Hotel in central St Helier and it was fabulous to be able to head out for a spot of shopping, a bit to eat or to enjoy the local culture on foot.

The central location is excellent. It was also good to have a large car park at the hotel so we had the car handy for when we wanted to explore further afield. I believe in the height of summer car parking can be an issue but it certainly wasn't in the October half-term. A word of warning though space is tight in Jersey, so get good at reverse parking and using small spaces!

The hotel building itself is not the most glamorous to look at but the important stuff is all there. The hotel is very clean, it is well maintained and there was nothing else I needed in my hotel bedroom. The kids described the hotel as 'well posh', likening it to 4 stars we have stayed in in London but I'd describe it as old-fashioned and decorated to suit an older market to be honest. Again this isn't to say there was anything wrong with it, it is just that emerald green carpet, fussy floral curtains and pink table clothes are not to my taste.

Catering for children
We were really pleasantly surprised to find that the hotel catered well to its child guests and there were quite a number of them. Apparently in summer and at Christmas there are tons of kids. In the school holidays when the hotel has more than ten children staying they organise an on-site kids club for a few times a week. My girls went to two of the evenings and they had a ball, one night making craft times and watching a movie and another evening having a disco party. It was very welcome to get my evening to myself from 7-9pm on a couple of nights, I sat in the public lounge and made the most of the free wifi (the area where this is available is quite limited though - literally reception and the lounge - not the restaurant or coffee shop).

We didn't eat at the hotel in the evening but there is a children's menu but it seemed a bit limited with things like chicken teddies, burger in a bun and fish fingers. I'd like to have seen more family type meals like Shepherds pie but then I suppose they cater to the guests they have.

In regards to bedrooms we had two good sized interconnecting rooms. One with a very large double bed (two singles zipped together) and a single bed and the other room had 3 single beds. Of course both had a large fully equipped bathroom. We were supplied with tea and coffee making facilities, remote control TV, hair dryer, complimentary toiletries, a desk area, some comfy chairs and plenty of mirrors and lighting options.

The views from the rooms were pretty naff but to be expected in a busy town. Probably the biggest issue for us was that the hotel seemed really hot, we had our windows open at all times as much as we could without them being dangerous but still it felt too hot quite often. Air conditioning would be an absolute god-send but I realise probably prohibitively expensive.

Public Areas

As you can see the public areas are pleasant, the reception is spacious and the staff working there were friendly and helpful. There are two computer terminals with Internet access in reception if you just need to use a computer briefly. There is a bar area where there is live entertainment a few nights a week. We were there for bingo (not my bag) and a singer and actually we really enjoyed him and I sung along. The prices in the bar were reasonable and better than UK pub prices I would say. Opposite the bar was a lounge area with loads of comfy sofas and seats and this is where we mostly sat.

There is also a nice sun deck up by the leisure club which would be fabulous in the summer.

We ate lunch in the coffee shop one day (this is open the whole day and early evening) and the food was excellent. The menu was not that varied but it was as we would expect and the surroundings were pleasant.

There is a children's games room on the first floor by the kids club and my kids liked to hang out there and spend 20p on the teddy grab machine. There is also a coin operated laundry room available for all in the hotel to use which was well equipped and clean.

Leisure centre
We went along to use the swimming pool as a family and had a great time. For a small club I was super impressed with how nice the changing rooms were. Good private showers, lots of lockers and hairdryers available. The pool itself was not very big but big enough to have fun and there were lots of inflatables and hoops etc for the kids to play with. My husband enjoyed using the steam room and Jacuzzi bath.

We did not get to use the gym as hubby had a cold but it looked a nice facility.

We had breakfast in the hotel each day and this was a continental buffet and English breakfast served to the table. The quality of the food serviced in general was excellent and we really enjoyed it. We did find on the first day when we came down later, about 9am (breakfast was served 7.30-9.30am) that the buffet had no croissants, ham or cheese but when we asked for more it was replenished. Breakfast is served in a large room which looks like it might be used as a ballroom sometimes, it was a packed with tables and was serviceable but hardly a pleasant surrounding. We did find the staff really friendly and attentive though.

In all I think the Mayfair is a really good middle-of-the-road hotel. It offers everything you need from a 3 star hotel. It seems to be geared up for the coach/ package holiday market but also managing to work well for individual families. If we were coming to Jersey again I would happily stay there.

Top selling points

  • Large bedrooms
  • Central location
  • Free on-site parking
  • Good English and continental breakfast
  • Fabulous kids club in school holidays
  • Free swimming pool on site
Check out the Mayfair Hotel's website for the current special offers and also follow them on Facebook or Twitter for up-to-date news.

Disclosure: We were provided with 3 nights B&B accommodation for our family as part of our review holiday to Jersey. A massive big thank you to Condor Ferries, and the Mayfair Hotel for such a nice half-term stay.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Review: Fellowes 63cb Shredder

I've never owned a shredder before, I'll be honest and say I've not seen the need. Much of the private information I need to access nowadays is online and I don't print much off. The letters that come via the post that I don't want to keep I tend to rip into small shreds and get rid of as soon as possible. I'm not one to hold onto clutter.

I assume it is OK putting them in the bin ripped up, surely I'm not that interesting and no one wants my old bills or payslips? But I am becoming more aware that identity fraud is big business. New research shows that 24% of UK citizens have been a victim of identity fraud, this is the highest figure in Europe and I'll be honest, that is enough to worry me.

I think perhaps I should take more care and dispose of things in a more robust manner having learnt this fact. This is why when Fellows contacted me and asked me if I wanted to trail one of their shredders I was happy to say yes.

The shredder arrived quickly and was well packaged. My initial reaction was that it looks smart but realistically is a bit big and heavy for a home-use shredder. I can imagine if you have a home office and some spare under desk space it would be perfect. Sadly we don't have an office or much spare space so I might actually donate this to my husbands work and keep it in his office. As we live on site I can still use the shredder whenever I need to but it is nicely out of eyesight.

The kids were very impressed that we have a shredder, as they sometimes help out at daddy's work doing this job. To show how easy the shredder is to use and to explore some of its features I got my 11 year old JJ to help me in this video -

This shredder retails for £149.95 and can be bought at all good business machine retailers, John Lewis and on Amazon. In all it is a great shredder and we are very happy with it.

Key points -
  • 16 litre shredding bin, which pulls out for easy emptying
  • provides Security Level P-3 quality shredding, dicing sheets into 4x50mm cross cut particles
  • takes 10 sheets at a time
  • can shred continuously for 8 minutes
  • shreds paper, small staples, paperclips and credit cards
  • includes the Fellows advanced energy saving system with reduced in-use energy consumption and ensures automatic power down after a period of inactivity
  • jam blocker to stop jams before they even start
  • 2 year warranty for the shredder

Disclosure: We received this shredder free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Review - Kids Stuff Crazy Soap Products

I was very pleased to be sent some Kids Stuff Crazy Soap products for review as my children have had the shake and sparkle bath foam before and really liked the smell and sparkle in the bottle.

This time the big hit was the green crazy soap foaming soap.  It comes in a 225ml can which seemed to last a really long time and squirts out just like hair mouse but it has a much better consistency than hair mouse for playing with. Squirt it out, leave it to solidify for about 30 seconds and then as long as you keep it out the water you can mould the foam and change its shape, of course you are not going to be able to make anything intricate but it was easy to make a ball or cube. Once in the water it starts to break down and if you use lots it will make the bath water green too, another reason for the kids to squeal with delight. I really liked the apple smell too, very fresh and not at all sickly like some.

The foam is available for £2.00 currently on Boots and I think that is a fabulous price.

The girls especially also liked the red body paint that we received. I was a little worried about this as it is very bright and I thought the grout in the tiles might get discoloured but I need not have worried as it went on easily with the sponge and then washed off well. There can be a bit of residue in the bath but nothing a good old wash does not get rid of. The body paints come in a 150ml tube and this really does go far, literally dozens of baths and that was with the girls painting each other.

All the Crazy soap products are designed for children and are thus gentle on the skin with a PH balanced formula, they are also paraben and SLES free.  My daughter Miss E sometimes suffers with eczema and there has been no signs after using these products.

We also received a pack of 3 fizzy bath tints and we have not used these as yet.  I have put them away as a Christmas present for Miss E as I know she will love them.  You drop one in the bath and they fizz up, smell fruity and tint the bath colour. I have enough trust in the Crazy soap brand to know they will perform wonderfully.

You can find Kids Stuff Crazy Soap on both Facebook and Twitter, so you can keep up to date with all their latest news and I'd highly recommend these products as great stocking fillers for your kids.

Disclosure: We received these products free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.