Internet highlights – w/c 11th October 2020

17 10 2020

An excellent introduction to Taskmaster.

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Going Green – A Miscellany

14 10 2020

Last year I started trying a load of de-plasticing options, (see my other “Going Green” blog entries), some good, some bad, but I hadn’t tried many new options for a while. So given the disposable income I had from not commuting and from sitting around my parents house for annual leave instead of going away, and re-motivated by the plastic free July campaign, this summer I decided to spend some of that money on a few more swaps to try. It’s been long enough now to give you some feedback, see how I got on below!

Category: Laundry detergent

Brand: Smol
Item: Non-bio capsule subscription.
Price: £4.50 per 24 pack
Thoughts: I was apprehensive because there was only detergent available, no fabric conditioner. I contacted them and they said it shouldn’t be needed, and they were right, I haven’t noticed any difference in the condition of my clothes at all! (though, contradicting what they said to me, they’ve now launched a fabric conditioner option!)
They’re cheaper, they come in the normal post as regularly as you choose, they’re better for the environment, they come in a cardboard sleeve instead of a massive plastic tub – there seems to be very little to lose! They even solved the one issue I had with the liquitabs I was using before (the tubs from the supermarket, I got whatever was on offer – Bold/Ariel/Tesco own brand). I found that before, after washing at 30°C, one item of clothing would have a small patch of sticky residue where the capsule hadn’t fully dissolved, but with these I don’t have that problem! Absolute winner.
If you’re interested, you can get a free trial of 9 liquitabs, just paying £1 to cover postage. (It’s my refer link, so for full disclosure, I do get a discount if you sign up.)
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Decision: Fully converted, my subscription is set up and will continue!
My referral link

Category: Deodorant

Brand: Wild
Item: Natural deodorant subscription.
Price: Initial subscription purchase: case and cartridge, £12. Refills £15 for a set of 3. Or one off purchase of case and 3 refills, £25.
Thoughts: I had a bit of a reaction to the bicarb in it at the start (though this was mid August heatwave when it was 30 degrees), but after a while it seems to have settled down. I’m having to be careful not to use too much as it’s a subscription service, and not particularly cheap, but it’s probably a good thing that I use less anyway! The Orange Zest one smells particularly amazing. Basic deodorant function wise it seems good though! You keep the case, and the refills come in compostable cases, so plastic wise, all is good.
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Decision: Will definitely stick with it for now as long as I can make it last between subscriptions. To be honest, I’d much rather use non-natural deodorant, but all the plastic-free options seem to be natural deodorants. I have written to the companies that make the old deodorants I used to see what their stances were on providing a plastic free option, but their replies weren’t particularly helpful, so for now, Wild is a good plastic free option!
My referral link

Category: Deodorant

Brand: Nuud
Item: Natural deodorant.
Price: £12.95 for 15ml starter pack “6-7 weeks”. £24.95 for 2x20ml pack “19-20 weeks”. They also offer a subscription service.
Thoughts: The big marketing point for Nuud is that you only need to use it every 3-4 days, it’s shower proof and everything. It worked fine for me, but my problem was remembering when I last put it on, to know when I was going to need to next use it! And this was even just while I was working out how often I needed it, not even once I’d got into a regular routine.
I bought this because of the bicarb-free selling point when I had the reaction to Wild, and indeed I didn’t get a reaction from it. But what does bother me, is that while the tube is made of sugar cane and so is biodegradable, the cap on every tube is still plastic.
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Decision: It feels like even at the beginning I couldn’t keep track when it’s not daily, then it’s probably not going to work for me, so while I’ll probably end up using up the tube, I probably won’t re-buy.

Category: Toothbrush

Brand: Glorious Alternatives
Item: Hard-bristle bamboo toothbrushes.
Price: £4.99 for a pack of 4.
Thoughts: I had tried a bamboo toothbrush before, but found the bristles way too soft. I did some googling and found some people recommending these for people who prefer a firm toothbrush. They were better than the other brush I had tried, but still far too soft for me. Though the good thing about this company is that for every pack sold, they donate a toothbrush to a child in need.
Rating: ⭐⭐
Decision: Too soft for me, but as they all come in individual cardboard boxes (which seems a tad excessive), I can donate the other three to the foodbank.

Category: Cleaning products

Brand: Ocean Saver
Item: Cleaning EcoDrops.
Price: £1.50 per refill
Thoughts: When I first bought these, I bought all the initial plastic bottles to go with them (and then reuse forever) so it felt a bit weird, but from now on all that I need to order is the little capsules that come in cardboard boxes, which you then drop into the spray bottle with warm water, give it a shake, and you’re good to go – for ages, since the bottles are 750ml.
I ordered the kitchen degreaser, the bathroom cleaner, the glass cleaner, the floor cleaner, and the anti bac spray. Am pretty happy with them – occasionally have to get the half finished bottle of flash bleach out of the cupboard for the hob, but not much, and I think I might be able to go without that if I got a metal wire ball scourer thing – and if I followed the instructions and actually left the spray for a couple of minutes before wiping, it might just be fine! My windows are a bit smeary, but I think that’s just my lack of skill in window-cleaning, rather than anything against the cleaner!
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Decision: Very happy to stick with it.

Category: Cleaning products

Brand: Eco-Living
Item: Compostable sponge cloths.
Price: £5.50 for 4, or £6.99 for 6.
Thoughts: First thing to say, not only are these compostable, but they’re also washing machine safe, so should last for ages! I was using standard supermarket sponges with the slight scourer on one side before this, and my worktops always felt like there was residue left on them, and now they finally feel properly clean! Whether it’s the cleaner or these I’m not sure, but makes sense as the texture is different that it’d make a difference! They come in a load of colours so you can easily keep track of what you use on kitchen surfaces vs bathroom vs windows etc.
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Decision: I love that these are plastic free, washable, and do the job better than my last ones! I’ve just ordered a second set, so that I can use them when the others are in the wash 🙂

Category: Toilet Roll

Brand: The Good Roll
Item: The Cheerful Choice – Maxi Roll
Price: €19.95 for 24 rolls (less without the wraps or if you subscribe, can also order a 48 or 96 box at better value). I also had to pay a few pence for the international transaction with my bank.
Thoughts: I ordered mine with the wraps the first time around, for the novelty value, but pretty sure I would leave them next time and take the discount! I went with The Good Roll for a couple of reasons. Mainly, their biggest competitor, WGAC ship from Australia (in bulk, and then distribute through the UK) whereas The Good Roll manufacture in the Netherlands, from Dutch waste, so the travel miles, while it does come over the Channel, are much reduced. The roll is decent quality, and being longer, obviously lasts longer. They do offer a bamboo version for those who want the luxury option, but this obviously travels further. Additionally, 50% of their net profits are invested in building safe toilets in East Africa.
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Decision: If there was a UK based firm doing this, that’d be amazing, but I haven’t found one yet so will stick with these guys for now.

That’s all for now, but I’ve got a few other bits I’ve ordered since and not ready to review yet, so I’ll be back with them another time!

Internet highlights – w/c 4th October 2020

10 10 2020

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Internet highlights – w/c 27th September 2020

3 10 2020

A very special Homes Under The Hammer crossword.
Moments when people realised they were old.
Why Africa hasn’t had the COVID19 disaster we expected.
Things that suck about being a grown up.

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Hope Never Dies – by Andrew Shaffer

3 10 2020

I bought this book as a gift for a couple of people a year or two ago, it sounded hilarious and like it would suit their tastes, and then this year I finally got a chance to try it! The thing that made me get it as a present, was the last paragraph of the blurb:

“Part action thriller, part mystery, part bromance, and (just to be clear) 100 percent fiction, Hope Never Dies imagines life after the Oval Office for two of America’s greatest heroes. Together they’ll prove that justice has no term limits.”

If that doesn’t sell it, I don’t know what will!

I finally picked it up now as with the election coming up, it felt timely. Joe Biden narrates the book, and does occasionally ponder on if he’d ever run for office again, but mostly the book is digging into the death of his favourite Amtrak (train company) conductor in suspicious circumstances.

This was by no means great literature, but it was a fun read if you’re looking for something light and escapist!

Internet highlights – w/c 20th September 2020

26 09 2020

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Elizabeth Is Missing – by Emma Healey

22 09 2020

The final book in the stack from Mum!

Before I read this, I knew it was about a woman with dementia who was convinced her friend was missing. What I didn’t know was that she narrates the book.

I’ll be honest, I really struggled with the first few pages as I adjusted to it – it was almost upsetting to read stuff that is so familiar and close to home, from the perspective of the person who is confused. You can feel her deteriorating through the book, which is tough, but laced with humour as well.

Once I got used to the style though, it was an excellent book – the narrator suffering from dementia is such a clever idea. Maud switches between struggling to work out what’s currently going on (other than being sure that her friend Elizabeth is missing, there’s a note in her pocket that says so), and flashing back to when she was a child and her older sister went missing. Essentially it’s two stories being told in parallel, but one reliably, and one not.

I guess it’s really a mystery book, and that’s what had me hooked, trying to work out what’s happened in her past, and what on earth is going on in her present. It really was a good read, I read it in seven days, crazy fast for me!

It turns out that there’s an adaptation of it on iPlayer at the moment, so hoping to watch that this week, trailer below!

Internet highlights – w/c 13th September 2020

19 09 2020

Horses with dog’s mouths.

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A Thousand Splendid Suns – by Khaled Hosseini

15 09 2020

Having really enjoyed The Kite Runner, I jumped straight on into this one, which while not a follow on story, is the next book Hosseini wrote, and is equally well spoken of.

Both books follow roughly the same time period of 1970s to the early 2000s, and are probably equally miserable, but while the two books are not technically linked, it’s very easy to contrast the two:

  • The Kite Runner really focused on the lives of boys and men in Kabul, the centre of this book was the female characters.
  • The Kite Runner covers escaping from Afghanistan and life outside it, but this mostly stays in the midst of it.
  • From a more technical perspective, The Kite Runner was told in the first person, but this is third person (and 50 pages before the end switches from past to present tense).

The first quarter of the book we meet Mariam who lives with her mother in a shack outside a town called Herat, and learn what brings her to Kabul and follow through her backstory. The second quarter we move on to Laila, who had a mention in Mariam’s story as the baby of a neighbour, but they haven’t really overlapped; again we hear her backstory up to the point where her and Mariam’s worlds collide. That brings us to the last half of the book, where we see their relationship and their struggles together.

Just like his first book, he manages to share a miserable story in a brilliant way which is so readable. It also feels really educational, I learnt a lot about the geography and history of the area. This book feels like you get more of the history than the previous one as most of the book stays in the country.

A couple of my favourite out-of-context quotes:

  • “Mariam set about cleaning up the mess, marvelling at how energetically lazy men could be.”
  • “Rasheed regarded the Taliban with a forgiving, affectionate kind of bemusement, as one might regard an erratic cousin prone to unpredictable acts of hilarity and scandal.”

Internet highlights – w/c 6th September 2020

12 09 2020

Examples of where Gender Reveal parties have probably gone too far.

More things that were normal in the 90s or so.

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