Free Photos

When we went to see our eldest daughter at Uni last weekend I noticed that she had lots of postcard-sized photos on her noticeboard. Prints are "Free" up to 45 6x4 per month, or a total of 500 per year. Other sizes are available if you pay. There is a delivery charge of £3.99 (ie not totally free), but it seems reasonable for what you get. You can print directly from Google photos, or photos on your phone. Quality looked OK to me, but I am not a pixel peeper.

Brother P Labeller

I have had a Brother P Touch label printer for years. I don't think that they sell my model any longer and I expect you can find a cheaper equivalent to this one. It's very simple to use and has a built-in cutter and gizmo to separate the label from the backing tape.

I use it for labeling all sorts of things, such as files and storage boxes. It's great for labeling wall warts. Most of us have drawers full of rechargeable electronic items, which come with their own wall wart. If you don't label the plug it can be almost impossible to work out which plug you should use to power/recharge a particular bit of electronics.

Amazon link.

Service Charges in Restaurants

Service Charges in Restaurants. If I go to a restaurant, rather than a self service cafe, I can't avoid "Service". It's a non optional part of the experience. As such the price should be built into the price of the meal. If I get crap service, I simply won't go back to the same place again.

I don't think any other part of the economy has such a strange idea of selling you something that includes a service element. If I take my car into the garage I don't expect to pay an extra 10% because the mechanic did their job properly.

Duronic Electric Hub

A recent problem with our Aga means that we are without heating in the kitchen, clothes dryer, hot water and the ability to cook anything except by using the microwave. It will probably be out of action for a week or so while I run some new copper pipe and move the control box.

The Duronic Electric Hob has two different sized rings and seems reliable so far. It's easy to clean and powerful enough to heat things rapidly. I think it's pasta with everything until the Aga is fixed:)

Amazon link

Citibikes Vienna

A few years ago I tried to hire a couple of Boris Bikes in London with my son. Despite help from an Official Assistant, we were unable to unlock two bikes at once. So Boris you owe me £15, which with late payment charges and interest comes to just over £10,000.

Citibikes in Vienna is much better! There are various apps which show you the location of all the docking stations and the number of bikes available at each one. You can do most of the preliminary registration stuff on the website. However, the final step of registering your debit card requires you to use one of the card readers at a bike station. Note for Monzo users, just tell the machine it's a credit card when registering.

Fees are very reasonable. The first hour is free and the second costs 1EU. Vienna is pancake flat with lots of cycle lanes, so even occasional cyclists should be fine cycling around easy and safe.

However, the bikes are really heavy. They would probably survive a direct hit from an anti-tank missile. There is a single front brake, but the main braking is activated by back pedaling. If you are used to aligning your pedals when you mount the bike by sticking your foot under a pedal and back pedalling to get the pedal in the correct position, you can't do this on a Citibike.

There are three gears. However, the weight of the bike means that even on slight inclines you have to push hard in the lowest gear.

If you are a regular cyclist you will find the weight and braking system very annoying. On my 6.5k ride I averaged about 16kph. On a similar route with my normal road bike this would have been about 35kph.

In conclusion good bike for short rides (10-15 minutes) at a very reasonable price.

Self Assembly Flat Pack Furniture

Self Assembly Furniture. +Ted Salmon You need to hire my 17 year old daughter:) She is an absolute wizard. Wardrobes, desks, cupboards, etc. Give her a few tools and come back in a couple of hours to view the finished product. For some weird reason she enjoys doing it.

Lint and Fluff Roller.

In a house full of cats and a dog, clothes quickly get covered with various cat and dog hairs. Lazy people like me just ignore them. However, the female members of the household are much fussier :) These lint rollers are very effective at getting off animal hairs from your clothes.

They come with a roll of "sticky tape" in perforated sections. You tear off a section and wrap it around the roller. The run the roller over your clothes and the hairs will automagically stick to it. If you stick a plastic bag over the roller when you have finished, you can get multiple uses from each sticky tape.

Amazon link

Ruffwear Dog Harness

We have tried several different harnesses for our dog. This is the best we have found. It's easy to adjust and put on. There are two attachment points for the lead, so you can choose a position that suits your dog. It's a close fit, so your dog can squeeze under gates, or dive through hedges without getting stuck. There is a small ID pocket, where you can put the dog's tag, with his/her name and your phone number. The adjustability makes it unlikely it will chafe your dog.

Ruffwear makes a variety of "Dog wear". I want to get him a set of panniers, so he can carry his own food on camping trips!

Amazon link

Bamboo Sheets

As someone who can sleep almost anywhere and if the sheets are uncomfortable, I'll just sleep on the floor or on top of the bed, I was deeply skeptical about bamboo sheets. I thought bamboo, was only used for the sticks that hold up your peas and beans:)

I have to admit that I was completely wrong to be so skeptical. They are very comfortable, feeling much cooler than cotton in summer. Also,they feel much "smoother" than cotton.

Amazon link

Magnetic Knife Racks

On a recent visit to my sister in law, we noticed that she had a magnetic knife rack. I was slightly worried about knives falling off. However, having tried hanging some really heavy things from the bar, I was convinced it was safe.

You just need to drill a couple of small holes in the wall and fix the metal backing plate. The magnetic part just clips over the mounting bar. It comes in several different lengths, so you can choose one that fits your available space. Obviously, you can also use it for things like graters and scissors that are made from steel. A great way to reduce the clutter in your kitchen drawers, making extra space to fill with even more clutter:)

Amazon link