Naxos Audiobooks

I have used Naxos for several years. They sell audio books. Their usp is that all the books are available as unencrypted mp3. The books tend towards what might be termed "Classic Literature", although there are biographies, poetry and other genres.

LG Soundbar

This seems to have disappeared from Prime in the last couple of days, but is available from third parties. It was £55 when I bought it on Prime a couple of days ago.

I wanted to get a speaker that was better than the built in one in our Samsung TV. I didn't need something with Hi Fi quality, but just significantly better than the built in speakers. The LG had good reviews, although I think that the claimed 100W output is probably a decimal point error.

Sound quality is good for TV use and OK for music, but lacking in bass. It has optical, jack and bluetooth inputs. The latter attracted me as part of my plan to have a BT speaker in every room in the house. It comes with a remote control, which was a bit redundant since it worked fine with the TV remote volume control. It paired with my phone via BT, so I can use it when nobody is watching the TV. There is an app on the Play Store. However, it failed completely to work for me and most recent reviewers. However, you don't need an app anyway!

It's long, so check the dimensions to make sure it will fit on your cabinet without overhanging the ends.

Turbo Trainer

I swore that I would never buy a turbo trainer, as riding a bike inside is so boring. However, after my recent operation I needed something to help me get fit again. I had lost almost 2 stone, which as I was quite skinny to start with meant that most of it was muscle.

I wasn't up to cycling on the road and although I was being taken for walks by the dog twice a day, I needed something more energetic. Decathlon is a large French sports retailer, with several shops in the UK. Their stuff is generally of good quality and inexpensive.

I chose this turbo as it was the cheapest in the range, but had good reviews. It folds flat when not in use, so is easy to store. It's also very easy to "connect" to your bike and works with the three most common wheel diameters.

I cycle for two 30min sessions per day and combined with walking it's helped get me much fitter. I have solved the boredom problem by pinching my daughter's music stand and using it for my android tablet. I can now happily watch Amazon Videos and Netflix while I am peddling.

Yesterday, I did manage to get out on a proper road, but am starting six months of chemotherapy next week, so suspect I'll be back on the turbo trainer soon!

If you like cycling, but don't like getting cold and wet in the winter it's cheaper than going to the gym.

Decathlon link:

Water Filters.

Water Filters. If you travel to place where you can't be sure that the water is safe to drink, you need a Travel Tap. It will filter out both bacteria and viruses. Also, it can remove most chemical contaminants. If you want more information about how it works, have a look at their web site. It is used by NGO's and the Armed Forces, so I think you can believe that it does what is says on the tin.

Once the filter has reached the end of its life, it simply stops working and you can't squeeze any more water through it. So you don't need to worry if it's still filtering out nasties. There are several different models available, for different requirements.

It's easy to use: just put water into the bottle and squeeze. You need to be careful about cross contamination. Don't let un-purified water go into the container where you keep your purified water.

Amazon link

Platypus Water Bottles.

Platypus Water Bottles. These aren't cheap, but if you shop around you can get them for less than the prices you can find on Amazon. They are available in various capacities and with different tops e.g. a straight screw on, or one with a pull up drinker.

So why would you buy one, rather than just use a recycled bottled water container? Their main usp is that they occupy almost no space when empty. They are also very robust. My oldest one is about 5 years old and still going strong. If you use a hydration drink tube inside a rucksack they are compatible with all the common systems.

If I go camping I need about three litres of water for an overnight stop to rehydrate meals and drink. I try and get water as close as possible to the place I camp. If I used rigid containers they would be wasting 3 litres of space inside my rucksack for most of the day.

When not in use, I roll them up and store in the freezer to stop fungal growth.

Amazon Echo Dot

Sorry for the fake Echo effect:) Got one of these for the kitchen and so far am impressed. As usual with Amazon stuff it came pre-setup with our account details, so plugged it in and connected it to the Wifi and it just worked.

Voice recognition is good. We have a large kitchen and the Dot is positioned on a shelf near one corner. There is no problem getting it to recognise voice commands from 15 or 20ft away. I mainly use it to listen to various radio channels (using TuneIn radio) and Amazon Music. Being able to operate it purely with voice commands is great in a kitchen, where your hands are either wet, or covered in food.

I haven't bothered to connect it to a bluetooth speaker yet, as the built in one is adequate for kitchen use. I may end up transferring our Google Play music subscription to a Spotify Family one, since the Dot can connect to Spotify, but not Google (no surprises there:) However, I find Amazon Music had improved recently and most stuff I want to listen to is available from there.

Don't have any smart lights, so can't comment on how it works with SmartHome stuff. Having three children who think that light switches are don't have any off function, what I would like is an app that monitors the lights in each room they go into and then if they go out of the room without switching the light off, calculates the amount of electric used until someone comes along and turns the light off. The cost of the electricity should then be transferred directly out of their bank account into mine!

Edit: Just found out that if you buy the Audible narration for a Kindle book, you can listen to it on the Echo. I haven't subscribed to Audible in the past because I didn't want to be tied into a subscription model. However, if you go to the Audible login page and log in with your Amazon account details, you can see and play any Audible books that you have bought together with a Kindle book, no subscription required. In fact it looks as though it's often cheaper to buy the Audible book together with the Kindle book, rather than buy the Audible book on its own.

At the moment this site is just a bit of fun, but I could see the idea being developed into all sorts of interesting uses. At the moment it takes cycling GPS tracks uploaded to Strava and turns them into a sort of flyover video. I presume it uses Google Earth. If you have uploaded some photos with your track it will pause at the relevant part of the track and show the photo.

Zero Flypapers

Living in close proximity to a couple of hundred cows, we are often inundated with flies in the kitchen when it's warm outside. There are lots of brands of fly papers about, but we have found these to be the best we have tried. They claim not to contain any chemical insecticide, but just use natural ingredients.

We have tried several other methods of controlling flies, but these definitely result in the highest body count! The only downside is that you have bits of sticky paper with dead flies stuck to them. However, they are cheap enough to put fresh ones up at frequent intervals.

Don't touch the sticky stuff on the paper when you are putting them up. It is very hard to remove it from your fingers!

Amazon link.

Thule Cycle Carrier

Thule Cycle Carrier. I have had this for about 10 years, but they still make them, or at least something similar. This version carries three bikes and attaches to a tow bar. It has survived multiple trips to Scotland, Ireland and other parts of the UK. The bikes are attached by straps through the wheels and down-tube. Initially I was a bit worried about how safe/stable the bikes would be. However, I have never had any problems with a strap working loose, or a bike falling off in many thousands of miles!


You can tilt part of the carrier backwards, giving access to tailgate/boot, etc. Also Thule carry a range of spare parts, so if you break something it's easily replaceable.

They are quite expensive, but spread over 10 years it works out much less expensive than other carriers which don't last as long. Also as long as you have a two bar, it will fit any vehicle, unlike many other cycle carriers.