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Brett H "pentangle" RSS Feed (Brighton)
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Merrell Women's Decora Chant Waterproof Winter Boot
Merrell Women's Decora Chant Waterproof Winter Boot
Price: $174.94 - $253.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish and Effective, December 19, 2014
These are attractive, well made boots from a well known manufacturer, suitable for just about anything the weather can throw at you. Although billed as snow boots, and doubtless with their grippy soles they are very suitable for that purpose, these are actually very comfortable footwear for just about any weather conditions.

My daughter's immediate reaction on trying the boots was just how good to wear they were and I do not think she has worn any other footwear since she tried them! The fur lining, cushioned base and sensible but not too substantial weight combine to make for a very satisfactory boot. The leather appears to be of very good quality and the stitching is very careful and in perfect alignment. Size wise, my daughter is about a 3.5, but found that with thickish socks, the 4 sizing on these boots worked very well for her.

These do look quite stylish which is not something I would particularly have expected of snow boots and the stitching at the front is in white to accent it, whilst on the buckles it's in black so the style aspect has been well thought through. The fur tops of the boots look very seasonal without making them unwearable at other times of the year. Obviously it's early days yet, but I would be surprised if these do not provide many years of good service since they have no obvious weak points in their manufacture.


URBAN ARMOR GEAR Case for iPhone 6 (4.7 Display) Clear
URBAN ARMOR GEAR Case for iPhone 6 (4.7 Display) Clear
Price: $29.99
13 used & new from $22.58

5.0 out of 5 stars Effective, December 17, 2014
I have seen and tested a number of iPhone cases. Some are rather more cosmetically attractive without being too effective whilst others increase the weight you are carrying around, either due to their battery boosting abilities or just because of their construction. However, this impressive little beast suffers from none of these vices. Constructed from a strong composite material, it weighs in, unbelievably, at just one ounce!

Being moulded, the gaps for the camera, charging point etc are in exactly the right places so as not to impede operation. The screen protector supplied with the case is similarly designed with gaps for the camera and operating button and applies to the screen very easily, again unlike some so called screen protectors I have used. One day Apple are going to start supplying phones with toughened screens, but you see enough with cracked screens at present to understand that this is a real problem currently. However, meantime this case and screen protector will provide adequate protection and the small lip on the case is a useful feature which provides an extra measure of protection for the screen.

Aesthetically this is a very tidy case which looks good as well as protecting your iPhone without significantly adding to it’s bulk. Neither does it intrude on the screen in any way which, again, some other cases do. Overall this a very good iPhone case and I have no hesitation in recommending it.

This was kindly sent to me to test and write an objective review.


iPhone 5 Wallet Case - Holds 9 Cards - Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather - Tan - Quickdraw by Huskk
iPhone 5 Wallet Case - Holds 9 Cards - Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather - Tan - Quickdraw by Huskk
2 used & new from $59.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Attractive and Effective Premium Case, December 17, 2014
I have tested a fair few iPhone cases, and in terms of appearance and practicality, many fall short of the ideal. However, I have been really impressed with the Huskk which has no apparent faults and is a really smart design. It is a shell type case which encases the back and sides of the phone. It is made of a hard, rubber type compound and has cutouts for the charging point, camera etc. Hence the problem often encountered with leather cases, where the holes are not in quite the right place, is avoided.

The leather on the back, apart from providing an added layer of protection in case of dropping, looks really attractive. Stated to be made from Italian leather, it looks, feels and, indeed, smells very good. Again this is in contrast to cheaper imitations, many of which are clearly not authentic leather even if claimed to be so. There is a slot in the leather for credit cards or money, but capacity is very limited and I would personally not put more than one or two items in it for fear of stretching the leather.

I have not tried it, but I would imagine this case is effective if dropped as the compound it is made of has a little give in it, which will provide some shock absorption. Ideally I would consider adding a clear cover over the screen to protect against scratching or possible cracking which is something iPhones are rather prone to.

Overall this is a top end case, well thought out which will add a certain something to your iPhone. Certainly not the cheapest, but basically you get what you pay for.


Crooked Heart
Crooked Heart

5.0 out of 5 stars A Charming Story, December 9, 2014
This review is from: Crooked Heart (Kindle Edition)
We first meet Noel when he is living with his Godmother, Mattie, in Hampstead. Sadly Mattie is clearly in a state of mental decline and Noel soon finds himself on a train to St Albans in the company of many of the other local children, as they are evacuated from London early in the war years.

Noel is marked as a singularly unattractive prospect since the other children quickly find temporary homes with surrogate parents whilst he is the last to be claimed. Eventually he is homed with Vera Sedge and initially there is little to bond them. However, Noel gradually gets involved in Vera's life and hairbrained schemes as she totters from one potential disaster to the next. It is quite clear to both the reader and Vera that Noel is far from the half wit she had first assumed him to be and is actually very sharp for a ten year old.

This is a charming tale, very well written which will appeal to a wide range of readers. Rather outside of my usual genres, I nonetheless found it hard not to get caught up with this story and to enjoy the bonding which takes place between Noel and Vera. Very different in nature they still manage to complement each other and each comes to understand their dependence on the other. Highly recommended.


Interlude
Interlude

5.0 out of 5 stars An Impressive Novel, December 6, 2014
This review is from: Interlude (Kindle Edition)
Helen, a housewife with two young children, becomes interested in her genealogy. To be specific her paternal grandfather, who her parents have not spoken to for many years, but who has achieved past fame as an acclaimed novelist. Intrigued by the wall of silence and hostility she meets from her parents she sets out to meet Edward Barton and is quickly enrolled as his future archivist.

As Jenny delves deeper into her grandfather's papers she starts to uncover skeletons which make most family's scandals fade into insignificance as secrets emerge covering the preceding three generations, and the revelations get bigger and bigger. She comes to understand just why her parents are so reluctant to talk about their own parents and why they are so distant towards her. Meanwhile Jenny has plenty of drama unfolding in her own life to deal with.

This is an impressive novel and the narrative switches between Jenny in the present day and Edward talking through the medium of his diaries. It certainly seized my interest from the start and does not lose momentum throughout. More than anything else I would say that this was an unconventional but very intense love affair which transcends both the accepted customs and, indeed the laws of the period in which it is set. Highly recommended.


The Other Shakespeare
The Other Shakespeare
by Lea Rachel
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.95
15 used & new from $5.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting and Authentic View of a Woman's Options, December 1, 2014
This review is from: The Other Shakespeare (Paperback)
This novel purports to take up where Virginia Woolf left off in questioning what would have happened had Shakespeare been born a woman. It focuses on William's older sister, Judith, and her struggles to become accepted as a playwright in the theatre of the Sixteenth Century.

The story begins with her as a child writing plays for her brothers and sisters to perform in the woods during the summer. William is her constant companion and soulmate as they are growing up and as anxious as Judith to perform if not write! Judith has taught herself reading and writing as unlike her brothers she nor her sisters are allowed to go to school.

Sent to service in London, Judith falls in with Leicester's men, a troop of actors who perform in the local theatres. She writes many plays (which the reader will recognise) but the leader of the troop refuses to let her join the players and is disinterested in taking up her plays for performance. Meanwhile back at home the family have gotten into debt, from which her mother has arranged for them to be extracted from by an arranged marriage for Judith.

Judith's future is bleak. Even beloved William appears to think she should give up her ambitions and turn to traditional marriage as the only way forward. The moral seems to be it was tough being a woman with non traditional aspirations in the Sixteenth Century.

The novel is well written and the main characters are well developed - from Judith's pious mother to her lover. It provides an interesting and authentic view of a woman's options in this period and the reaction of one strong and ambitious woman to them. This is a good read if you enjoy historical novels and I would recommend it.


A Well-Tempered Heart
A Well-Tempered Heart

5.0 out of 5 stars Sharing Julia's Journey, November 29, 2014
Julia is a successful patent attorney in New York when she starts hearing voices, well to be more exact, one voice, that of a woman who is constantly questioning her. Initially she does exactly what most Americans would do under similar circumstances which is book an appointment with a psychiatrist. He, naturally, prescribes pills. However, encouraged by her close and non materialistic friend Amy, she then travels to Burma to see her half brother, U Ba in her search for answers.

What follows is Julia's quest to discover her true self as she and U Ba travel around this beautiful country gradually unravelling the mystery of her inner voice. This is a sequel to a previous successful book, set ten years previously. However, I was not aware of this when I started reading and this is very much a standalone story.

This is quite hard book to categorise and I was not at all sure how I really felt about it for quite a while. However, towards the end, as Julia begins to see things clearly, the reader also appreciates how it all fits together. This is not a spiritual book, although there is a fair measure of the Buddhist outlook on life within its pages. This is all about Julia looking at her own life and coming to realise what is really important to her. It is a journey which I appreciated taking with her and which I would recommend to others.


Brothers in Blood
Brothers in Blood
by Simon Scarrow
Edition: Paperback
6 used & new from $18.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Saga, November 28, 2014
This review is from: Brothers in Blood (Paperback)
This is the latest of Simon Scarrow's tales of the Roman heroes Prefect Cato and Centurion Macro. In this saga they have been sent to Britannia. They, and their much depleted men, including the feared Blood Crows, have the rather ignoble task of guarding the baggage train. In reality they are seeking the spy who has been sent to ensure Emperor Claudius' final conquest of the tribes of Britain does not succeed.

Their task within the Roman army leads them into many tough situations, dealing with Caratacus and the well fortified British tribes. Even once he is defeated Caratacus refuses to give up and escapes to raise the Brigantes, supposedly allies of Rome against the tribes.

Cato begins to smell a rat when the Brigantes' Queen is deposed by a faction of her people. Where did the silver necessary to buy their locality come from? Cato and Macro have to fight hard battles before they can even begin to solve that mystery and hopefully put an end to Claudius's problems-in Britannia at least.

This is a riotous romp and if you have enjoyed the escapades of Cato and Macro in this author's earlier novels I am certain you'll enjoy this latest offering. Even if you are new to Scarrow this is still a very enjoyable stand alone novel but one which I feel sure will send you to seek out more of his excellent writing.


Smart Weigh Calibration Weight Kit, Includes 50g, 2x20g, 10g, 5g, 2x2g, 1g and 8 Different Sizes Milligram Calibration Weights, and a Set of Tweezers
Smart Weigh Calibration Weight Kit, Includes 50g, 2x20g, 10g, 5g, 2x2g, 1g and 8 Different Sizes Milligram Calibration Weights, and a Set of Tweezers
Offered by MeasuRite
Price: $11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful Set of Calibration Weights, November 24, 2014
This is an extremely useful set of weights which can be used to accurately calibrate weighing equipment. There are eight larger weights at 50, 20 (2), 10, 5, 2 (2) and 1 gram. Also supplied are seven smaller weights which vary between 0.5 and 0.02 of a gram, so it is possible to test up to 110 grams with a 0.02 gram limit.

I tested the weights on a recently calibrated set of jewellery scales and the results were so close to the nominal weights that I have no reason to suppose that the test weights are not 100% accurate. They come complete with a set of plastic tweezers which are particularly useful for handling the smaller weights which are really tiny. The set is contained within a smart and convenient red box which measures some 2 by 3 by 4.5 inches. This is absolutely essential to avoid these small weights being mislaid.

I thought this set would be invaluable for calibrating scientific weighing equipment where absolute accuracy is essential. However, it was also very encouraging that, when tested with 110 grams, our everyday kitchen scales returned a measurement of exactly that. We do all rather take it for granted that the scales we are using are accurate, which is not always the case and it is helpful to be able to confirm it.


Masterpiece: Downton Abbey Seasons 1, 2, 3, & 4
Masterpiece: Downton Abbey Seasons 1, 2, 3, & 4
DVD ~ Hugh Bonneville
Price: $49.99
18 used & new from $45.99

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Annual Downton Box Set, November 21, 2014
A new series of Downton is an annual treat, although you may prefer to wait for the Series 1-5 DVD which will doubtless appear early in 2015 since Series 5 has now aired on UK TV. This set includes the 34 episodes to the end of Series 4. There are seven episodes from the first series, eight each from the second, third and fourth, plus the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Christmas specials of which the first was a dramatic masterpiece, but the second did not deliver in the same way in the opinion of most people although it ended dramatically. The third was not as good as the first but was good solid stuff which most will enjoy.

The four series so far have taken us from 1912, just after the sinking of the Titanic, up to 1923. Each of the four series to date has had a slightly different background. Series 1 takes us to a very formal setting within the household with much concern about match making for the Crawley daughters to find them suitable partners which will secure the financial future of the estate. However, those above stairs are generally shown in largely a sympathetic light in their relationship with their servants below stairs and this sets the scene for the whole subsequent series.

The second series takes us through World War 1. Downton Abbey has been converted into a convalescent home for servicemen injured in the conflict. This quite different scenario provided the script writers with some interesting stories and the series runs from the Battle of the Somme in 1916 up to the end of the war in 1918.

The first Christmas special and the third series take place from late 1919 into 1920. The first features a very dramatic trial and this was probably the single best episode so far. In the third series the household is far more back to the life of an aristocratic family as it was in the first series although the estate faces major challenges in the post war period and a need to embrace change if Downton is to survive.

The second Christmas special sees most of the action move to Scotland, and a tragic conclusion which shocked most viewers and rather put a blight on Christmas Day for many. The fourth series takes us a little further into the 1920s and some relaxation of the divisions between those above and below stairs is obvious, although it still all looks like a rigid division to our contemporary eyes. The Christmas Special, set in 1923 involves the 'coming out' of Lady Rose, which is a quaint British upper class custom where young ladies are presented to society.

A major source of story lines for the script writers has been the interaction between those below stairs and those above stairs. Quite a few of the main characters in both groups have been in Downton from the beginning and there are some very strong performances. However, I am not sure things would be the same without Maggie Smith as the matriarch of the family and she continues to dominate any scene she is in.

If you are interested in the additional features, this DVD set includes all the extra features which were on the individual season releases. These amount to several hours of additional viewing.

Personally I have been an avid follower of Downton Abbey from the first series and have seen every episode to date. I have now started to enjoy reruns of the earlier episodes. However, if you have missed out so far, then this DVD set is an excellent introduction to probably the best costume TV drama in recent times.
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