Monday, 28 March 2011


If you are not the sort of person to do their own cleaning, then perhaps skip this post. For it is about mops.

I do have a cleaner. Her name is Rute and she is Portuguese. And even though Portuguese (or Porkinese as my child calls it) is very different from Italian, we converse splendidly. Partly through the international language of Rant.

Anyway, despite me having a cleaner, I still do my own cleaning at times, largely because I think it's really important to be able to deal with your own dirt.

If you didn't know this, Italians have a thing about cleaning. Spesh southern Italians. My family in the south are all certifiably insane and wash the kitchen from top to bottom after lunch.

Every day.

I'm not like this. But I do like a bit of Scanda-style which means wooden floors, and wooden floors show up dirt far more than carpets. Dust-bunnies kinda get sucked into carpets. Anyway, this is a fucking mop for Christ's sake so I won't go on too much. But it - the E-cloth mop - is fab.

Why it's good:

  • It's so simple and it looks good in that pared down way (look: design is important, even in mops)
  • You get interchangeable 'heads' which are rectangles of fabric. There are three, a white fluffy one for simply 'sweeping', a blue one for washing and a blue striped one for tough stains.
  • They attach via a Velcro-type strip, super easy.
  • They zzzzzp off for washing - bung them in the machine at 60C.
  • Also zzzp it off for dunking in the washing water and wring it really dry before putting it back on for cleaning another bit of floor - because the cloth is so wrung out you can use it on engineered floors (well, I do).
  • It's a step up from the 'straccio' over a broom head that we use in Italy.

That's it. If you need a mop, this is the one to get.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Kindle

When the Kindle launched in the UK last September, I had one on pre-order. I quietly fretting for days about its purchase, feeling distracted with the guilt of it, and then cancelled it. But the urge never went away.

Here is the Kindle, in its cover, open. This is it in its sleep mode, it throws up random literary pictures which are rather nice.

I did lots of research into the Kindle. Canvassed my friends that had one. I was curious about just how much they seemed to love it, which seemed odd. I love books, especially picture books or ones you can dip in and out of. But I don't read (didn't read..) fiction, not since the heady days of going to Callosa D'Ensarria with my girly friends and devouring Jackie Collins in between tormenting the local boys.

I read loads, but just not fiction.

My best friend, Emma, regularly devours novels. She loses herself in them. I see people on the train lost in paperbacks, chunky as bricks. The odd time I have picked up a novel and managed to finish it, I've loved having this whole other world to escape to.

But I'm not what you might call, a natural novel-reader.

So what the fuck would be the point of me having a Kindle?

This was why I cancelled my order. But then, but then..

So I ordered one again and before I could cancel it, it arrived. And God, I love it.

It's not an iPad. I mean, that's obvious, but if you're wondering "should I get an iPad or a Kindle", you really haven't understood the difference at all. The Kindle is rudimentary compared to the iPad, it's nothing like it. Whereas the iPad is what it is - like the screen of your computer that you hold in your hand, and able to do more or less what your computer can do, the Kindle is an electronic reading device in black and, er, grey. You can read newspapers on it, but really, this doesn't work (yet, I'm sure it will). You're much better off reading newspapers n' stuff on line, on a regular computer/laptop/iPad/iPhone type thingy.

Here's a Kindle page. It's not back-lit (like the iPad or a computer screen is, so easier on the eye).

So the Kindle is, really, for books. Word books. I can't imagine anyone buying a cookery book for the Kindle, that would be really wrong I think. So the Kindle is not going to replace you having to buy any books, but if you read novels: great.

Here are some observations on it, some of them are obvious but heck, I'm gonna make them anyway:

  • You can store loads of books on it.
  • You can change the size of the font or spacing of lines - brilliant if you're short-sighted.
  • No wastage. No 'what do I do with this book now that it's read', although no lending to friends, either.
  • Not every book you will want is available as a Kindle version, yet.
  • Books that are out of copyright are free.
  • It's not good for pictures, but great for older children - in fact I think its use for older children has been underplayed.
  • It has an inbuilt dictionary - which I find super useful, children will too.
  • You can make notes and see notes others have made.
  • It automatically notes what page you last read, no matter how many books you have on the go at once.
  • Although the 'turnpage' buttons are on the left and right, the up and down controls are bottom right, left handed people might find this frustrating (I don't know, I'm right-handed). I'm thinking there should also be a LH version.
  • You can download various Kindle apps for your computer/phone and it all syncs so you can access your books anywhere, if you're desperate. 
  • The battery lasts for weeks.

If you're fairly wealthy, I think it'd make a great present to load up a Kindle with the sort of books you think your friend would like. The novelist and journalist India Knight did this for a friend (although to be completely accurate I think she loaded up her own Kindle) who was poorly, which I think is a great idea.

I wouldn't, personally, get the 3GS version. Honestly how desperate do you have to be to get a book? Most places have Wi-Fi, so save your pennies. What I would spend money on is the official Kindle cover that Amazon does which is an EXTORTIONATE £50. But it's fabulous. Leather and has an inbuilt light which is just great if you read at night (you can't read the Kindle in the dark, it's not back-lit like the Ipad is, which is also why it doesn't give you eye-ache after a while).

Here's the Kindle, in its cover (chocolate brown since you asked) with the inbuilt light. The actual light shining on the Kindle is actually from an overhead light so don't be confused. The Kindle light is plenty sufficient to read by.

I've started reading voraciously (so anyone who wants to buy me a present: Amazon vouchers are a good idea) and I love having my Kindle to escape into on the train. Plus with the cover it looks more like a book so you don't feel as much of a wanker on the Tube. It's invaluable, for me, when I'm breastfeeding in the middle of the night/trying to get the baby to sleep, as I just don't mind if she wants to feed for an hour, as I can just read read read.

The Kindle, all snug and safe in its cover, it has a rather nice elastic band fastening with tab, which you see above.

I love a way that's curious..

ps: I forgot to add, you can get sample pages from the Kindle store for free, so a try before you buy kinda thing.