Posts tagged fun
The Percy Pig brand gets bigger and bigger all the time. Not only are M&S stores full of Percy Pig Easter Eggs (I’m really hoping for one on Sunday!), but you can get desserts, yoghurts, fairy cake mixes (which I reviewed previously), and now a rather stunning looking celebration cake.
Celebration cakes are normally reserved for, well, celebrations. But I decided we deserved cake, for no reason other than that I couldn’t resist. Twitter had mixed feelings – some have tried it and love it, others have tried it and found it less than satisfactory. So I naturally had to buy one just to see what it was like.
It is a pig-shaped madeira sponge cake with butter cream and raspberry jam with pink Percy Pig flavoured icing.
I went in one day and found just one Percy Pig cake on the shelf that was a bit squished. I could have asked customer service for a discount on the much-less-than-perfect cake but I decided to wait til the following day in the hope they’d had another delivery. There were a couple this time and I could resists no more, £10 later I was opening the box at home and trying to stop LincsGeek from cutting it before I managed to get a photograph (always a problem when I’m planning on writing about food!).
Our cake was still not quite right. As you can see the cake had slipped inside the icing and so the pig shape wasn’t smooth on one side. I have no problem with this at all; this cake costs a tenner and is made by a machine – if you want something totally spectacular and completely perfect then you go to a professional baker and sugar craft expert (Charm City Cakes if you’re reading this I’ve got a long list of cake ideas you could make for me!). I thought I’d mention it, though.
The cake itself is an evenly baked white sponge cake with a (very) thin layer of jam and butter cream inside. It is a fairly hard sponge – not a nice light Victoria sponge – that will last a good few days before it goes stale.
The covering is pink icing which is flavoured just like the foam part of a Percy Pig sweet. It’s very good, I was very impressed with the flavour. There is quite a lot of the icing and it is very sweet, so watch out for that sickly feeling if you eat the nose or feet in addition to your slice! I did wonder why there were no actual Percy Pig Sweets on the cake when I originally saw it, but you really don’t need them as well as the icing!
The box says this cake will serve 20 people. Twenty!! I’m not going to admit how many portions we got out of this cake, I feel terrible as it is admitting that LincsGeek and I ate the whole thing between us over the course of just a few days!
I really enjoyed this cake. It is a fun and cute celebration cake which certainly made me smile when looking at it and eating it. My love of Percy Pigs gets stronger!
Docks are designed to allow you to sync and charge your phone while it is sat upright on your desk or bedside table. This one (showing off my very dusty iPhone!) is from Mobile Fun.
The dock is good for charging and syncing your phone with your computer, as well as plugging into the mains to charge quicker. It comes with a fairly short lighting to USB cable (also black – it’s long enough to go from the floor to my desk) which is useful, but not the USB mains adapter. The dock is small and actually looks great in glossy black – it has a non-slip base and has a good weight to it.
I’m impressed with how sturdy my phone is when sat in the dock. I worry about things like this being unstable or a bit precarious, and as a result breaking either the lightning connector or connection inside my phone. But this is very solid and my phone clips on very positively and doesn’t wobble around at all. Good.
I’ve now got this sat on my desk at work – my phone can charge and I can see the screen, there’s also no chance it’ll get accidentally swiped off my desk or lost under a pile of papers (not that I ever have massive piles of papers on my desk – if I can’t see the table there’s a good chance I’m stressed!). I can’t decide whether it’s most useful there or at the computer at home, I might need to buy another one. Thankfully they are a lower price than the official Apple ones at £21.95.
You can get a range of iPhone 5 docks from Mobile Fun.
One of the problems with upgrading to the iPhone 5 or the new iPad is that because Apple changed to their new lightning connection, using old accessories requires new cables or adapters (or new accessories entirely).
Whether you believe lightning is genuinely better (faster, smaller, etc) or that it’s just an exercise to make our old accessories defunct, the fact remains the same for all, and it makes upgrading to a new Apple product more expensive than simply the price on the ticket. Whether it’s a sound dock, a car charger, or the extra cable you bought so you had one at home and at work, it all adds up.
It’s taken a few months, but “fake” lightning cables and adapters are now available to us. Mobile Fun sent me one of their lightning to USB cables to try out. It retails at just over half the price of the Apple genuine one (£11.97 instead of £19.95) and so represents a significant saving, but I was very interested to see if the quality was there.
The cable itself is very slightly shorter than the genuine Apple one I got with my iPhone 5 – 104cm vs 106cm, so not enough to make a real difference (unless you really need that extra two cm!). The plastic coated cable is (again, very slightly) thicker, and the casing for the connections at either end is more bulky and feels cheaper. The lightning connection itself looks a bit different – it’s not as smooth or refined, again seems more cheaply made. The below photo shows the genuine Apple cable on the right, and the copy on the left.
But the proof is in the using… and I can confirm that it works. I used this cable with no problems to charge my phone from the computer and using the mains adapter, and synced my phone with iTunes too and it didn’t complain. I also checked it worked with LincsGeek’s iPad (my pad is an old iPad 2, and it does feel old I have to say!) and it’s fine there too. It is perfect to keep plugged into the computer for charging/syncing, leaving the one that came with my phone for in the office.
I admit I would generally rather by the real thing when it comes to my tech, but there is nothing wrong as far as I can tell with this cable and why spend £20 when you can spend £12 and still have the same functionality. For something like a cable and similar accessories then copies like this one make so much sense. I’ll let you know how it holds up compared to my Apple one after a year of use!
Update 27th January
Since writing this review I have realised that while this lightening cable does work for both charging and data exchange, most of the time it only works one way around. One of the good things about the new Apple lightening connector is that it is not supposed to matter which way in you put it – there is no right way. But this cable only seems to work if you get the cable in the “right way round”. I say most of the time as on occasion it does work both ways, it’s very strange. This could of course be this particular cable rather than a problem with all of them, but I thought I would put a note here to tell you. The cable is still very useful, and I am continuing to use it.
I’ve had a number of generations of the iPhone over the past few years (I know, I’m very lucky), and each time I buy a new one my main concern is keeping it in perfect condition so that I can enjoy the screen and that retina display for as long as possible. I know many people who think screen protectors ruin the display on devices like iPhones, but every day life for me offers great risks of nasty scratches, even with me being as careful as I can possibly be. So I always get a screen protector so that I can stop worrying and just use my phone for everything I bought it for.
MobileFun sent me the Power Support Crystal Film Set to try on my iPhone 5. They didn’t know when they sent it that I am already a fan of Power Support and their screen protectors – I have used them on all my iPhones up until now and had been on the look out for the iPhone 5 version but hadn’t spotted it anywhere yet. I had actually purchased a different screen protector a couple of weeks before receiving this one, concentrated really hard to fit it perfectly, failed despite following the instructions to the letter, ruined it, got upset and chucked it in the bin. I can’t even remember what make it was now. But when this film set arrived I beamed, knowing that I would be able to tell you all what a happy blogger I was as a result.
I mentioned I hadn’t seen this product stocked anywhere. The packaging here might give you a clue… this has been imported – apart from the title everything else is in Japanese. Which if this is your first Power Support Crystal Film Set would be a problem (the picture based instructions are not particularly clear at all), but as I have installed (stuck on) several of these on mine and LincsGeeks phones in the past, I knew what I was doing.
In the package you get two screen protectors for the front of the iPhone 5, a sticky sleeve that cleans off dust and prints, a little cloth and the instruction card. Let me put the instructions here in case you get a Japanese one too… (these instructions worked for me anyway!).
1) Clean your iPhone screen. I use a teeny bit of windowlene on a cloth for this, it gets rid of everything including any grease which might otherwise be visible underneath the screen protector.
2) Stick the white sheet to your phone – the backing is in two halves to make this easy, simply remove one half of it and start sticking the sheet on the phone before removing the other half off the backing. Smooth this over using the cloth.
3) Get the screen protector ready. Have it the right way around etc. Once you are ready, remove the cleaning sheet from the phone carefully from one end and put those two halves of the backing paper back on it (you can use this again).
4) Pull the backing off the screen protector just a little bit and begin sticking it to the phone. It is fairly rigid so it doesn’t flop about everywhere (unlike the other brand one I’d tried and failed with which wafted with the slightest intake of breath) and you can offer it up, getting it lined up with the top of the phone before putting it on. Gradually pull off the backing (which is between the protector and the phone), allowing the screen film to cling to your screen. You will almost certainly have a few bubbles which you can smooth out using that cloth, wipe with a good amount of pressure pushing the bubble to the edge.
5) If you spot a speck of dust, use a bit of sticky tape to pull the protector up from one corner, and another piece of sticky tape to remove the offending item. It is possible to completely remove the protector and reapply it if you’re not happy with the alignment, thankfully it doesn’t ruin if you take it off.
I have to say I thought I was happy with the alignment of mine (above) until the day after when the slight wonky-ness just got too me too much so I used tape to pull the protector off and did it again, much better this time. And I can be sure now that this film will not come off unless I want it to.
I am really pleased with the results, as I anticipated. I can now use my phone all the time without worrying about any damage to the lovely display – and because the protector is completely clear and not textured in anyway (anti glare protectors have a texture to them so they stop the reflections, which unfortunately means the display becomes less clear), my display is not compromised. The touch screen is not affected either, it still works perfectly well. Oh and if for some reason I manage to ruin this protector I have another one in the drawer to replace it with – with my iPhone 4 one I replaced it after about 18 months just to give my phone a clean look again.
So thanks very much MobileFun, you have made me a very happy blogger.
The forest looks awesome from up in the trees doesn’t it? Not seen it from forty foot up? You should…
A couple of weekends ago my sister and I were treated to a Tree Top Adventure courtesy of the lovely people at Go Ape. They have recently launched gift vouchers and so they gave me the opportunity to try out a couple of hours of climbing, walking and swinging so I could tell you all about it.
We went over to Sherwood Pines, which is a Forestry Commission run woodland near Nottingham, where Go Ape run their high ropes adventure course, off road segway tours, and mountain bike trails through the forest. My sister Veronica and I were booked to do their standard tree top adventure which was to last up to around three hours. It was a cold and damp morning at Sherwood Pines, a few spots of rain here and there, but Go Ape don’t cancel for many things and a bit of drizzle and being muddy underfoot would be just fine.
The registration was straight forward; we had to sign consent forms and the instructors helped us put on our harness and we were ready. The safety talk and demonstration seemed to take ages and waiting was rather boring but we understood the importance of checking everyone in the group (there were twelve of us – the rest were in a group of ten, plus the two of us) could use the clips and ropes before climbing the first tree. We attached ourselves to a wire at floor level and walked along sitting back in the harness to feel it working. This gave us plenty of confidence in the equipment, and as this was Veronica’s first time this helped her feel less apprehensive. We were both looking forward to getting started. The last scary bit was doing the first low ropes course in front of the other group members but we managed it without any problems, remembering which clips to use when and managing to avoid dropping the pulley on our shins. Rules were made very clear and there were plenty of signs around to remind you which clips to use when and to help you navigate your way around the course.
After the initial briefing and practice with an instructor we were left to our own devices. This meant that we could do the course at our own pace, could chat about anything we wanted on the way around without feeling like we were being rude, could stop and take photos, and could just be ourselves. There was no pressure (well apart from that the only way down was the zip lines!), and much giggling.
The fact that the instructors were not watching your every move was also a confidence boost – they really do believe in their safety equipment, and also less stressful – not having people watch your every move. The “emergency whistle” in the harness meant we could always get someone there quickly if needed, but of course we didn’t have to use it.
The course was challenging but everything was completely possible. Some bits were wobbly, some made your legs split apart, some had nowhere to put your hands. But it was all doable with a bit of self belief. All that was really needed was a trust in the equipment and that you were attaching yourself correctly. The most difficult – challenging – element of the course was the big Tarzan swing because you had to commit to jumping off the platform before you felt the harness tighten up and take your weight (oh, and climbing up the rope ladders was hard work!). Veronica and I got round with pretty much no problem at all. A few nerves in places perhaps, a lot of concentration on certain parts, quite a bit of strength used when the ropes took your legs and arms in different directions, but all done and all survived, with a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment at the end.
Somehow I managed to land on my feet at the bottom of every zip wire – Veronica didn’t quite manage and ended up ‘landing’ (read: dragged) on her back, side, bum… getting muddy was all part of the outdoor adventure of course and we’d both gone prepared in clothes we didn’t mind getting muddy or scraped, and we’d both worn our walking boots to give our feet and ankles some protection.
We took LincsGeek along with us to take photographs, and it was good he could walk around the course on paths put in place for spectators – it’d be really dull for non climbers otherwise. We were able to chat with him at the end of each part of the course (there are five or six sections each with a zip wire at the end). I was also allowed to take a camera up onto the course that was attached to a lanyard I’d taken with me.
The fact that a group of up to 12 people starts the course every half an hour means you will almost certainly either catch up with the group in front of you, which results in waiting, or be at the front of a line of people behind you, which puts pressure on you to speed up. We did catch up with the group in front of us but they were a small group of four and we all joined in the banter together so it was fine.
The whole course takes two-and-a-half hours or so, which seemed to fly by. We both had a really enjoyable time up in the trees – especially whizzing down the zip wires – and would both love to do it again some time. We were given a certificate at the end of the course which was a nice touch, and had opportunity to buy a tshirt or hoodie which was tempting but neither of us gave in.
Go Ape definitely gets a recommendation from us – the staff were really helpful and friendly, the course was loads of fun and safe, and the grounds (Sherwood Pines) was an excellent location. If we’d have paid the £30 each for our adventure we’d have been pretty pleased with the value too.
You can book your adventure (or buy a gift voucher for someone else) on the Go Ape website.
We went to the BMF bike show in Peterborough today – a good day despite the wind howling in all directions.
This sign made me wonder…
14/05/11: Fun for all the family?!