I am still convinced that one of the best ways to save electrical energy in the home is by being able to see how much you are using. If you regularly read this column you will know my favourite monitor is the Owl. It has an easy to read display which my whole family take notice of. Since trying an AlertMe (www.alertme.com), however, which has no display but feeds data directly into the internet so you can view realtime and historical data via Google Powermeter, I realised what was needed was a monitor which had the attributes of both. So I was intrigued to try the Current Cost Envi monitor which not only displays current usage but, via a USB cable, can down-load data to a computer, which if internet connected, can be displayed in Google. The best of both worlds has arrived.
Then, with just days to spare before this went to press, Owl announce the Owl CM160 which also has a USB port for data download. They sent me one and I set it up beside the Envi and plugged them both into my netbook. Surprisingly this worked and I could display both sets of data side by side. Envi was displayed via Google while the Owl’s data was displayed via its own windows software which came with it on a CD. Both units work well and have only minor pros and cons. I like the Envi’s porting to Google, the mains adaptor for the display and the seven year battery life of the sender unit. On the other hand the Owl is cheaper, has in my opinion a nicer display, a two year memory and user friendly software. It’s down to personal choice.
I now own three of the Helle sheath knife range so I think it’s fair to say I like them. The latest, the Helle Eggen, has the same tri-steel super sharp blade as the others but has a curly birch handle that just fits the hand so well, that I had to have one.
It didn’t really need testing but I used it to make kindling to test the wood burning capability of a Honey Stove. This is a hexagonal back-packing stove made of stainless steel which packs flat into an incredibly thin wallet. It can be fired by most cooking fuels from hexamine tablets to a gas burner but its real claim to fame is its ability to work as a woodburner.
Having tried several small wood-burning devices over the years I was very doubtful this would work. Boy, was I wrong! This little stove lit easily and then really went for it boiling my soup before I even had time to stir it properly. It’s just amazing, it didn’t scorch the log I stood it on and when cool, packed away into my pan set. It will certainly get a lot more use in the future. An instant favourite product.
Another favourite which has been re-released is Burgon and Ball's Potting Scoop. It has all the old functions; a curved pointed nose for digging, a scoop shape for carrying soil, serrated edges for cutting roots etc., and seed dispensing notches, only the size has changed slightly. This hand tool is a must have item for any gardener whether they own just a couple of pots or a couple of acres. Indispensable.
Reviewed items are available from Green Shopping www.green-shopping.co.uk