Review: Philips FC9920/69 Ultimate Bagless Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner

Philips FC9920-69 1My wife and I have 16 years of parent blogging between us but if you asked us all those years ago which product we’d end up reviewing the most, I’d have been surprised if the answer came back as vacuum cleaners but we’ve reviewed over ten of them between us, and now I’m on the road to upping that to a round dozen with the Philips FC9920/69, a cylinder cleaner that Philips have kindly sent us for review. View Full Post

Saving money through lifestyle choices: Green Living in 2016

imageforalexIt’s fair to say that we would all like more money to spend at the end of the each month. It is also safe to assume that we would all like to do our bit to stop climate change and live more environmentally friendly. So saving where possible whilst simultaneously being kind to the environment is surely a win-win situation? This article will go through the basics that are key to achieving both objectives.

  1. Reduce energy consumption and the associated costs

Starting with the most obvious, the reduction of energy consumption offers two key advantages to low-income and conscientious home-owners. Firstly, it reduces your carbon footprint, helping you to play your part in driving environmental awareness. It also leads to considerable cost savings over the course of a typical year, reducing the amount spent on heating, gas and similar amenities. Those with a minimal budget can even look to insulate their homes (if built prior to the 1990’s) and loft spaces to optimise the amount of heat that is retained during the winter. Seemingly obvious but rarely put into practice.

This will lead to cheaper winters and reduce your heating bill considerably!

  1. Install LED Lights in your home

We are now in the fifth generation of LED lighting, as the technology behind this has changed considerably since the 1970’s. While this type of product has always delivered energy and long-term cost savings, for example, previous iterations were an eye-sore and prohibitive to buy and install in the first place. This has now changed, however, to the point where LED lighting is affordable, available in an array of stunning designs and still capable of delivering huge energy and financial savings over the longer-term.

  1. Integrated Smart Technology into your home

On a similar note, smart technology has also become increasingly accessible in recent times, while the development of central, intuitive control hubs has also enabled home-owners to take real-time control of the amenities and security in their home. With most smart technology hubs accessible through an accompanying mobile application, you will have ample opportunity to completely minimise your energy usage remotely regardless of where you are in the world. This will also require a small, initial investment, but your savings will quickly accumulate and all through a desire to make sustainable, Eco-friendly lifestyle changes! Saving £30 a year though will eventually pay for itself.

  1. Use  a Laptop instead of a PC

Quite an obscure one, but over the course of a year a standard laptop will go through 85% LESS electricity than a standard PC. Quite a shocking statistic, the theme applies to all corded vs cordless devices. For instance a cordless vacuum cleaner is much more energy efficient than its standard corded counterpart and electric power tools are more of a sound investment than their corded equivalents as well. It is not advisable to replace what you already own, but if your corded devices are coming to the end of their lifecycle invest in cordless where possible.

  1. Buy an Eco Friendly shower head

Another fairly obscure suggestion, but having the right attachment can save you over £67 per year. Why literally pour money down the drain when you can keep it sealed nicely in your pocket! For more money and energy saving tips around the home and Garden you can view this handy interactive guide. If you follow all the tips you can save well over £1600!

Is the Huawei P9 the ultimate phone for parents?

huawei P9Smartphones are increasingly becoming a major part of all of our lives. Heck, sometimes I even use mine to make telephone calls. Imagine that! But as a parent there are certain things I look for in a mobile phone that it isn’t always that easy to find all in one place.

By accident, Huawei might have actually made that phone in the Huawei P9 but first let me rewind a little and start at the beginning. View Full Post

Review: Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League – Cosmic Clash

cosmic clash (Medium)I’m going to call Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League – Cosmic Clash by the much shorter moniker Cosmic Clash from now on in, otherwise I’ll hit a thousand words before I’ve even got going! Although the title may be a bit of a mouthful, the direct to “video” (DVD or Blu Ray actually) is well worth writing about because it’s pretty good fun.

LEGO is the only brand to successfully cover both Marvel and DC super heroes, and it does them so well it’s a real joy to watch. The feel in the film is pretty much like that in the LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham video game that came out about 18 months ago. That’s a good thing, believe me, as it’s probably the second or third best LEGO game ever. View Full Post

How big is your car?!

Sometimes it feels like all the cars on the road are basically spacious armchairs with a SUV frame wrapped around them but this isn’t the case, as the infographic below from motorparks.co.uk shows. We’ve got a supermini in a Ford Focus in our family, as well as a people carrier but I well remember my first car, which was an old C plate Vauxhall Nova. Cars weren’t as safe back then and were consequently quite a bit smaller. In fact I remember reading recently that the VW Up! is the only car in their current range that’s smaller than the Mk I Golf. My dad used to have a Mark II Golf, back in the days when power steering was an expensive option and all cars had manual chokes. My mum basically wrecked her shoulder trying to parallel park the thing.

Still, the thing I remember about my Nova, and my subsequent Polo and Ibiza, were the great fuel economy. They were brilliant next to what my wife used to get in her Rav4!

Small cars (Infographic)

The essential Pre-MOT Checklist

I’ve been driving and owned a car since 1992 and 1994 respectively but in that time I’ve only owned a new car twice, and then it only stayed new for a relatively short period of time. MOTs are a hassle of car ownership that is often something you can do without but if you follow a checklist beforehand, like this one that motorparks.co.uk have prepared will stop the stupid fails and the mandatory (panic and) retest.

I’ve had a couple of MOT test failures- one for a license plate, the other for tyres, and the amount of running around like a looby I could have avoided has made me do my home work subsequently…

Pre-MOT Infographic 04.2.14

Benq Wit E-Reading Lamp review

For me the name BenQ is more synonymous with computer monitors than lighting but the BenQ Wit E-Reading Lamp isn’t really just any old anglepoise style light. As one of the foremost manufacturers of monitors, BenQ know as well as anybody the problems of eye strain from either too much screen time or too much reading in general and they’ve set about combating this with a new innovative lamp.

BenQ offered us the opportunity to review one of their Wit E-Reading Lamps, and keep it afterwards. I said yes for a number of reasons. Firstly I often spend in excess of 8 hours a day in front of a computer at work and then an additional hour or two in the evening if I’m blogging. I know all about tired eyes and eye strain. Secondly, our eldest who is fast approaching nine, spends a lot of time in front of the computer. A tiny fraction of it relates to homework, more of it relates to Minecraft and videos about people playing Minecraft. If you have a child of a certain age, the name Dan TDM will mean something to you, if you don’t, you’re lucky!

If you want to read more, you can look an the Wit E-Reading Lamp website, if you don’t, you can always watch a video…

That’s the idea but how is it in practice? I’ve had the BenQ Wit E-Reading Lamp set up in front of our family computer for the last week or so in order to give us a chance to all use it and see if it makes any concrete affect on our tired eyes.

Wit E-Reading Lamp

The Wit E-Reading Lamp puts an even light across our 23 inch Lenovo computer

As you can see from the picture above the smiley lamp illuminates the screen more equally than a spot lamp would and much better than our ropey ceiling lights will. Before we get on to how we found the lighting, I think the biggest surprise was how incredibly stylish the lamp is. BenQ haven’t stinted on design and the build quality is astonishing. It’s built like a proverbial tank but not at the expense of style.

It’s not just a basic lamp in terms of turning it off or on though, it also has colour/warmth adjustments and a dimmer, allowing you with minimal fuss to get a suitable light for your viewing:

IMG_20160321_110240706

The lamp also works in the same fashion for reading- either tablets, books or Kindles. Again, it’s the even distribution of light that reduces the stress on your eyes- you can see here how even the keyboard is lit and it’s the same with a book.

So after a week or so of use, has it dramatically reduced my eye strain? It’s difficult to know as I haven’t taken it to work (my desk set up at work isn’t conducive to additional lighting) but at home in the evenings it’s definitely kept my eyes from getting too tired. It’s also improved the lads computer use too, even if it is just Minecraft. He actually uses a coloured film to help him read, and with this in mind I’ve relocated the lamp to his bedroom in place of the bullet  clip on spot light he uses to read in bed to see if it helps. I’ll update this once he’s been using it for a few weeks.

The BenQ Wit E-Reading Lamp is available to buy now and retails for around £159 in a wide variety of colours. It’s a lot for a lamp but at the same time, if it stops your eyes getting as tired, it’s not a lot as it opens up a lot more time for you to do stuff. My eyes don’t feel as tired in the evenings when I’m typing reviews like this, I just wish I could whisk the lamp off to work to do it justice!

The modern man’s brief guide to grooming

If your current prepping and preening rituals consist of nothing more than brushing your teeth and running a comb through your hair, you might want to listen up. Taking care of yourself is important, so read on for some useful hints and tips when it comes to keeping your grooming schedule in check.

Care for your hair

Whether you’re blessed with flowing locks or you’re proudly bald, having a hair care routine is vital if you want to keep your head looking and feeling healthy. If you have a full head of hair, you should aim to wash it regularly using a shampoo and conditioner and go for frequent haircuts to keep it in tip top condition. On the other hand, if your barnet is nowhere to be seen, you’ll need to ensure your scalp is protected, especially from the sun’s harmful rays, so you could use a lotion that has a high SPF.

While many men are not phased by their lack of hair, it can be a distressing experience for a lot of people. If you’re unhappy with your fading follicles, there is help at hand. For example, Regaine hair products have been clinically proven to stimulate hair regrowth. These treatments come in the form of a foam which can be applied directly to the scalp twice daily. If used regularly, they can be highly effective in preventing further hair loss and they can even encourage regrowth If you require more information about Regaine or other hair loss treatments, you could speak to your GP or pharmacist.

Stick to a skincare routine

To keep your skin looking fresh, smooth and spot-free, you could try sticking to a skincare routine. Your skin is delicate and making the effort to look after your complexion could help you keep wrinkles and fine lines at bay. Your routine doesn’t have to be complicated; you could simply start by washing your face with an exfoliating scrub followed by applying a nourishing moisturiser. To take your skincare game to the next level, you could also use a cooling eye cream or even treat yourself to a deep-cleansing face mask once a week.

Maintain your facial hair

Regardless of its length, you should make the effort to keep your facial hair in check. Leaving your beard untamed could make you look scruffy and unkempt. So, whether you prefer the clean shaven look, just a small amount of stubble or a fully grown beard, you could get into the habit of regularly tidying up your facial fuzz to stay looking sharp and well groomed at all times.

Find your signature scent

While it pays to use a pleasantly fragranced deodorant or body spray, you could take this one step further and find your signature scent. With so many different aftershaves available, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a smell that suits you. Whether you go for a light, citrus scent or a more spicy aroma, you should choose a fragrance that you think smells great.


By taking some of these simple tips into consideration, you shouldn’t go too far wrong when it comes to fine tuning your grooming regime.

Daytime activities for you and the kids this father’s day

Father’s Day is always one of the most special days in the calendar for dads – and proud mums – and there are a huge number of great activities that you can enjoy on the special occasion. Here are several ideas for how to spend a perfect day:

Cooking a meal

The days of the mum doing all the cooking and baking in the kitchen are long gone. Many fathers now take the lead when it comes to preparing fantastic meals and sweets. You might not want, of course, to be stuck behind a stove. You might want a pub lunch, or your meal prepared by the loving hands of your partner. But if you and your son or daughter love getting your aprons on and doing some proper cooking, then don’t let anyone put you off.

Sport

Sharing the experience of watching sport is one thing, but participation for little ones is even better. If you’ve been itching to get your youngsters to pick up the ball, racquet or reins then what could be a better father’s day present – for you both? Parks, fields, rivers (for fishing) and gyms are likely to present lovely opportunities in the summer sunshine, and the latter might host taster sessions for you both to enjoy together.

Train journey

It’s unlikely that any father would want to drive for a concerted length of time, or indeed inflict that responsibility on mum. But there is a way that a family can enjoy time together travelling from one destination to another in a traditional and loving way – a steam train experience across beautiful parts of rural Britain. It’s fun, easy, and feels like a real adventure. Be careful to check the minimum age requirements before buying a ticket.

Photo Fun

Ask older people if they have any regrets about life, and one of them is usually: “I wish I’d got more photos of…”. In the digital age we can now take hi-res photographs and record HD video on our phones, throwing in all manner of special effect and filters later before turning them into gifts – click here to find out more. So get out your phone or camera and spend a day being silly in the garden or in the front room with your little ones. Use water pistols or food, or cuddly toys. Build a base or a den. Have fun, and keep it forever.

Beach

Visiting the coast is clearly not ideal for rainy weather and therefore you are somewhat reliant on the traditional British climate. However, a stroll along the waterfront or building a castle or series of castles from sand is guaranteed fun, no matter the beach. And the day wouldn’t be complete without some fish and chips and a bucket of 2p pieces in the slot machines.

Cycling

A gentle pedal up hill and down dale, or the first tentative pedals in a cul-de-sac or quiet road, can be a life-affirming experience for all involved. No father will feel prouder than when he sees his offspring take to the road with their stabilisers for the first time, and then takes them off. It proves the bond of trust between parent and child, and is great for confidence and health. If you or your child don’t have a bike, then why not go shopping in the morning and test out the new wheels in the afternoon?

CEWE Photobook; photo books ideal for Mother’s Day

photo 5When it comes to Mothering Sunday, what better way to show your wife (the Mother of your children) how great she is than wading through  8 years or 40,000 photos of your kids and getting them to help you put together a lovely photo book of their early years?

That’s what we immediately decided to do when CEWE Photobook offered us the opportunity to review one of their photo books. They provided us with a £50 credit to create our book with, the rest was indeed up to us.

After a quick rummage through the back up of all our photos to make sure there was nothing untoward *cough cough*, I sat down with the kids to trawl through their baby to 4 year old pictures to make a nice book. I picked up to four as Ned is now 4 and it wrapped up a nice period in their lives. Kids are great until 4 and then go rapidly downhill from my experience*. View Full Post