Hostess Milk Frother

I'm not one of those people who wins something in every competition they enter, in fact I don't remember winning much of anything. That is, until I entered a competition run by the excellent Yeo Valley - an organic, family-run dairy company here in the UK, and received a text letting me know I'd won a milk frother - and boy, what a frother!

I should explain that when I think of a milk frother I think of something like this Bodum model, but what actually arrived was a Hostess Frother.

I don't drink coffee (though my wife assures me it makes *wonderful* frothy-coffee), and it's not much good for tea, but it makes short work of making a delicious hot chocolate. 

Not only is the resulting drink creamy, with a nice froth (as expected!), but this wonderful device even heats the milk - which means I can throw in some milk and some hot chocolate (I recommend Hotel Chocolat, home of many lovely chocolatey things..) 

You can also use the frother to make cold milkshakes. A little less successful here, but only because the hot chocolate didn't dissolve fully, so I'd recommend trying this with syrups.

Not much extra to say, except that the jug is very easy to clean as long as you do it straight after making the drink, and I can **strongly** recommend you look into getting one of these if you're interesting in nice, easily-made hot chocolate (or frothy coffee of course!). Especially nice with organic whole milk for extra creamy goodness (just not every day!)..

(Not sponsored or prompted in any way by the folks at Yeo Valley or Hostess..!)

The Shambling Guide to New York City


One of my most enjoyable recent reads was this fine novel by Mur Lafferty. Coincidentally, it was also one of my favourite birthday presents this year.. In addition, Mur is podcasting the chapters week by week, which you can search for in your podcaster of choice, or find here:

In the interests of full disclosure, I should also mention up front that I'm a fan of Mur's podcast "I Should Be Writing", her soothing tones as she talks through her own creative challenges, and more recently, her feelings following the publishing of the new novel, are a balm for my own creative angst.

 I always find it difficult to review a novel without significant spoilers, so I'll keep this review brief.

The TL;DR version of the novel is something along the lines of young woman in search of direction lands a new job with unexpected co-workers, shenanigans ensure, but this really doesn't do justice to what is a well-written and enjoyable story..

I found myself interested in the main protagonists, though with so much to introduce the reader to, and so many characters who have their parts to play, there wasn't enough depth for most of them. I hope to learn more in future 'shambling guide' novels (and, I think, the potential will exist in the future for spin-off novels for some of the more interesting characters..). This wasn't a bad thing in the context of the novel per se, because it didn't detract from the story - it was more that the brief sketches were well-formed enough to leave me wanting to know more about the characters..

The story arc for the main character is an interesting one, that leads the reader by the hand as she learns more about the world she finds herself in. I found myself hearkening back to Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman at points in the story, with the idea of the world beneath the skin of the world we think we know, and I think it's an idea that still has much to offer the reader, with the dissonance between what we think we know and the true nature of things - something that drives artists and scientists alike..

Probably the one weakness, to my mind, was the main 'villain' of the novel, and how they tied so neatly into the backstory for Zoe. It felt a little contrived, whereas the rest of the novel flowed well as Zoe learns more about the world and herself, and grows in both confidence and strength.

I strongly commend both the novel, and the associated podcast, as well-worth the time for any reader of fantasy novels.. (I recommend reading the novel, then listening to the podcast to hear Mur give the story her voice - she is an experienced podcaster, and her telling of the story will only enhance your enjoyment of this work..)

I'm already looking forward to the next instalment.



A little black book..

One of my thoughts when buying my iPhone 4S last year was that I didn't want a typical case for it - I'd seen so many variations of the rubber bumper, that both looked ugly and didn't, to my mind at least, offer much in the way of protection (I drop my phone at least once a week - and a bumper wouldn't stop the glass back shattering). 

So my criteria were, in essence:

- Looks good

- Protects the phone from being dropped at height (I'm over 6' tall, so the phone tends to be fairly far from the floor!).

I did a fair amount of research, and eventually settled on a fine looking case from Pad & Quill, which my wife was kind enough to get me for a Christmas present.

Now, nine months later, I feel well qualified to share my considered thoughts.


- looks good (still, after daily use for over 9 months..)

- offers plenty of protection (my phone is still intact!)

- you can still use the camera, unlike some other similar cases

- it looks like a Moleskine notebook, so less likely to be stolen


- doesn't really play well with iPhone docks, or lens kits

- adds bulk to the iPhone

- hides the nice design of the phone


I can't recommend this highly enough. It's functioned very well and still looks great (in terms of both style and build quality). I'll be getting hold of a kindle paperwhite from relatives in the US, and I'm planning on getting a case for it from Pad and Quill - I'm expecting both form and function to be superior to the standard cases...

You can find the model I'm reviewing here: