Woman & Home: Spotlight Oral Care Sonic review


I review a premium electric toothbrush that doesn’t break the bank.

Stuff: Robot lawnmowers


Most of the latest models don't need perimeter wires, making it even easier to get a robot to tend to your turf. My new reviews are incorporated into this big roundup and should also be in the April issue of Stuff Magazine, in print and on Issuu.

Stuff: Air fryers


Go large or go home! This test of the three biggest air fryers I could find appeared in the Christmas (303) print issue of Stuff Magazine, or you can read it any time on Readly. But remember, an air fryer is for life, not just for Christmas...

Stuff: Manual b2c coffee makers


Wannabe barista? These all-in-one coffee machines combine grinder, espresso maker and milk frother but make you do the work. The test appeared in the December (302) print issue of Stuff Magazine, or you can read it any time on Readly


Stuff: Bean-to-cup coffee makers


Catching up on recent clips... this group test appeared in the September (299) print issue of Stuff Magazine, or you can read it any time on Readly. It features all the best bean-to-cup coffee makers, including ones that promise cold brews in minutes, iced lattes and sweet, syrup-infused foams.

WIRED UK: Black Friday deals


A surprisingly enjoyable couple of days ploughing through piles of Black Friday bargains to find the best for our dear WIRED readers. More to come on Cyber Monday! Meanwhile here are our guides to the Absolute Best Black Friday Deals in the UK (compiled by a team of us) and the Best Argos Black Friday Deals (almost all of them picked by me).

Bonus question: finding bargain buys for others largely puts me off shopping for myself, but can you guess the one Argos bargain I couldn't resist ordering?!

Review: Gel Blaster Surge


If laser tag feels a bit meh and paintball feels a bit ouch, the Gel Blaster Surge (aimed at age 14+) is just about right. It is physical… but you’re not covered in little, round bruises the next day. The price of entry is reasonable too.

It’s white and looks quite sci-fi. It shoots little gel blobs called ‘Gellets’ that burst on impact. They're a bit like Orbeez. They’re water-based and, although you can buy them hydrated and ready-to-use, it’s cheaper to buy a big bag of tiny, dry Gellets and soak them in water for two hours plus. They swell up considerably, to ten times their original size.

The Gellets are non-toxic and biodegradable. So while, as a mum, I wouldn’t want the Blasters used around the house; in the garden, park or forest it’s fair game. They’ll wash away. 

It’s shockingly fun. You’ll want to soak a lot of Gellets because you’ll go through them fast. The Blaster’s rechargeable battery lasts for 4 hours of play but a hopper of Gellets lasts mere minutes. It’s that compelling, whether pointed at your sibling or inanimate objects.

Each Gel Blaster Surge (£59.95 at the time of writing) comes pre-charged and with a hopper of 800 hydrated Gellets, so you can play straight away. It also comes with a box of 10,000 dry ones, which will keep you going much longer. You can buy further packs of 10,000 dry Gellets affordably (£6.99) and even get a large, collapsible Depot (£19.99) container to soak them in, but frankly you can soak them in water in any bowl, so you don’t need a Depot. (Though if you do want a Depot, you can save a little by buying a bundle.)

What you do need though is two Blasters. You can shoot at objects but a battle is much, much more fun. The Gel Blaster Surge comes with two barrels. Switch to the orange barrel (90 feet per second velocity) to dial back the strength for toddler battles, but teens will absolutely want to shoot each other full pelt with the pre-installed white barrel (170 feet per second). All’s fair in love and war. 

The Blasters do come with safety specs though, which is definitely a good idea. You wouldn’t want to take a Gellet in the eye, at either velocity.

With the white barrel, your Gellets will go more than 100 feet, so you can also enjoy target practice the length of the garden.

The Blaster also has two modes: semi and full-auto. With the former, it fires one Gellet when you pull the trigger. With the latter, hold the trigger down to fire eight Gellets per second.

My teens loved battling each other, and friends, with the Gel Blaster Surge. I found it compelling too. And while it’s pricier than, say, water pistols it’s great value when weighed against going paintballing. The Gellets are cheap and you can play again and again.

Put a pair of Gel Blaster Surges, and plenty of ammo, on your Christmas list. You’ll have a BLAST!

The Gel Blaster Surge: Shockingly fun

E&T: Sept/Oct


All the gadget news that's fit to print, from spinning pizzas to self-propelled chess pieces, plus I've written a longer online review of the Unistellar eVscope 2 smart telescope.

Saga Exceptional: Slow cooker or pressure cooker: which is right for you?


Each is suited to different dishes, so the answer will depend upon what meals you like to cook. I asked a leading executive chef for their opinion, as well as the cooking buyer for a leading retailer that sells both, for this piece in Saga Exceptional.

Saga Exceptional: Is your slow cooker a secret energy-saving hero?


Cooking “low and slow” is a great way to time-shift your cooking. But do slow cookers use a lot of electricity? I've asked the experts for this piece in Saga Exceptional.

Tabbie Gold award!


Another gong! This time, the shiny gold 2023 Tabbie Award for best Department goes to the E&T Magazine reviews team: Dominic Lenton, Dickon Ross, me, Paul Dempsey and Nick Smith. "Slick, thorough, well-written, and timely information for these technical readers. Love the clean design. Masterful!" said the judges.

E&T: August


The latest, greatest gadgetry plus my hands-on review of the TooA Milano gelato maker and my... feet-on review of the VKTRY Gold Insoles.

E&T: July


Fab new gadgets plus a hands-on review of the Epson LabelWorks LW-C610 portable label printer.

Tech Advisor: Ninja Woodfire Electric BBQ Grill & Smoker


Quick, predictable, electric outdoor cooking with campfire flavour, reviewed here and perfect for this barbecue weather.

E&T: June


All the latest gadgets plus a hands-on review of the new Dyson Zone headphones with built-in personal air purifier.

Stuff: mowers


Aha! In print and on Readly, I've tested a fab mix of new cordless, self-propelling and robots to make light work of your lawn. Online though, they've been split into two separate pieces and combined with other reviews, for big buyers' guides: read cordless mowers here and robotic mowers here.

E&T: May


This month's roundup of the latest gadgets plus a hands-on review of the Netvue Birdfy AI smart bird feeder.

E&T: April


A fantastic array of new gadgetry plus my hands-on review of the Char-Broil Smart-E electric barbecue - convenient or just not a BBQ?!

E&T: March


All the gadget news that's fit to print, plus a test of the bouncy-like-Tigger Keen WK400 walking shoes. 

Ideal Home: Glass wall design ideas


Everything you need to know about using glass partition walls inside your home. You can also read this and more on my Ideal Home author page.

Image: Davonport Kitchen and Home

E&T: February


The very latest consumer technology plus my hands-on review of the Blueair DustMagnet air purifier that thinks it's a table.

Ideal Home: Replacing a roof - everything you need to know


A comprehensive (read: nerdy) deep dive into re-roofing options. You can also read this and more on my Ideal Home author page.

Image: Cedral Rivendale

E&T: January gadgets for children


This month, I also wrote a round-up of tech toys for kids, plus a hands-on review of the myFirst Camera Insta Wi instant-print camera.

E&T: January gadgets for grown-ups


An online and tablet-only special full of gadgety goodness for Christmas and beyond. Plus a hands-on review of the Suri sustainable electric toothbrush.

E&T: December gadgets


All the latest gadgetry plus my hands-on review of the Yale Floodlight Camera subscription-free security camera and the Laica Visione kettle for induction hobs.

ALCS elections - please vote!



If you're a writer, please consider voting for me in the ALCS board elections. (And if you're a writer but not an ALCS member, skip down a couple of paragraphs for why it's worth joining!)

I have experience on committees of all shapes and sizes. Since the last elections, I've also become a Councillor in local government, so I have even more committee experience. I'm good at working with others, reviewing financials and navigating complex ethical and strategic decisions. I'll put my full statement below and all my links are at https://linktr.ee/caramelquin

You should have had an email with details of how to vote online securely. That takes you to statements from all the candidates. If not, visit https://www.cesvotes.com/alcs2022 You get two votes. Please give one to me!

Finally, if you write for a living and aren't a member, do join the ALCS. It's a not-for-profit that distributes secondary royalties to authors, campaigns and lobbies on our behalf and much more. Members include authors, journalists, academic writers, screenwriters, scriptwriters and visual artists. You'd be joining too late to vote in these elections but it's absolutely worth joining. Thank me later!

My statement 

I’ve been a writer for 29 years, with staff writing and editing jobs in the UK and US before going freelance. I have experience on committees of all shapes and sizes: lobbying and campaigning; reviewing financials and navigating complex ethical decisions; serving as a Councillor. I believe in championing writers, good governance and probity in public life. I'm capable and personable. I work well with others.

Areas in which I write:

I write about gadgets and technology for newspapers, magazines and online. I've been staff and freelance. I wrote a book last year too.

The skills and experience I have which match the current requirements of the ALCS Board (i.e. as detailed in pp 4&5 of the vacancies booklet.)

My most important skills for this role lie in committee experience, campaigning and lobbying. I’m used to working on committees, digesting complex information including financials, making strategic decisions. I've gained relevant experience on the Standard Life Investments Ethical Committee and as a local Councillor (see below).

I also bring the no-nonsense, can-do attitude of a seasoned campaigner. I’ve worked hard on local issues for decades and punched well above my weight in doing so. I’ve successfully lobbied, publicised campaigns, pored over legislation and networked at all levels. I’ve worked with others across parties to transform my local area for the better and push for the best outcomes at difficult times (tight budgets, recession, political pressures, pandemic). This hard work continues as a Councillor tackling, for example, the twin emergencies of climate change and cost of living. It's not one or the other, it has to be both.

I would love to use these skills and experience to champion writers. Collecting royalties is invaluable in helping authors pay the bills but we also need to protect and fight for writers’ rights. I have not only the experience but the passion and commitment to do this well.

My experience of sitting on Board(s) and/or Committee(s) and what I believe I achieved during this time:

I'm a local Councillor for London Borough of Waltham Forest, where I serve as vice chair of the climate scrutiny committee and sit on two other committees.

I served on the Standard Life Investments Ethical Committee, which met quarterly in Edinburgh. We reviewed financial information and navigated complex ethical decisions to ensure funds met investors' wishes and expectations as well as their financial needs.

I’ve chaired two residents’ associations and worked on many community campaigns. I've led Woodcraft Folk youth groups. I have decades of experience lobbying and working strategically. Most notably, I had a central role in saving a highly listed art deco cinema and I’m proud to say it’s now being transformed into a world-class theatre, opening in 2023.

Why I would like to be an ALCS Director:

I’m passionate about being a writer. I’ve been one for nearly 30 years: a journalist, a copywriter, an author. Our industries are changing fast, thanks to everything from the internet to Covid. I want to use my experience to help the ALCS, and its members, weather those changes.

I have many friends and contacts who are ALCS members: not just authors but journalists, academics, scriptwriters, visual artists. The ALCS membership is big and diverse… yet many writers still haven’t heard of it. I’d use my committee experience to work to ensure the ALCS does more, for even more people.

The particular strengths I would bring to the ALCS Board:

Thanks to my time as a Councillor and on the Ethical Committee, I can soak up complex information and navigate strategic decisions, listening to members to ensure decisions meet their wishes and needs. As a campaigner, I’m used to lobbying to get the best results. And as an author, I understand the diversity of ALCS members and our diverse needs. I’ll also work tirelessly to expand opportunities and support for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers, women writers and LGBTQ+ writers whenever possible, because the playing field is far from level, in life and in publishing.

E&T: November gadgets


A roundup of new tech plus my hands-on review of the Osprey Transporter Waterproof Duffel bag.

E&T: October gadgets


All the latest gadgets plus my hands-on review of the Victrola Revolution Go portable record player.

Ideal Home: 3 more heat pumps features


To follow on from my piece on Heat pumps explained, here's an Air source heat pumps guide, a Ground source heat pumps guide and an article on Heat pump grants. Watch this space for even more on the subject, or keep an eye on my Ideal Home author page.

E&T: September gadgets


This month is an online special, which means it features videos of all the cool new gadgets in action and an in-depth review of the Acer ConceptD 7 SpatialLabs Edition laptop with a glasses-free 3D display. And if you subscribe to the fab tablet edition it looks like this...

Ideal Home: Heat pumps explained


The first of a series of long reads by me on all things Heat Pump. You can keep an eye out for more in the series, coming soon, by keeping an eye on my Ideal Home author page.

E&T: August gadgets


Fantastic new gadgets plus my hands-on review of the new Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro.

Another gong!


Our fab E&T Gadgets department won another Tabbie Award! A silver 2022 Tabbie Award goes to Dominic Lenton, me, Paul Dempsey and Nick Smith. "Well done, creative, visually interesting to keep the reader’s interest," said the judges.

BBC World Service: Loot boxes


Me on BBC World Service, talking about video game loot boxes and gambling (at 28:36). I think the thing to remember is that they're less like Kinder Eggs and more like buying chocolate bars in the hope of getting a golden ticket...

Woman & Home: Coming out later in life


I wrote this piece about coming out later in life for Pride Month... and by the time it was published with a Rebel Wilson news hook, Dame Kelly Holmes had come out too! Awesome.


E&T: July gadgets


Gadgets galore plus my hands-on test of the Arlo Go 2 remote security camera and my bid to use it to catch the allotment party mice.

Stuff: Cordless lawnmowers


In which I put six cordless mowers through their paces.

E&T: June gadgets


Brilliant tech for around the home, plus I test the Miele Boost CX1, a compact new vacuum cleaner. Full disclosure: those are not my stairs pictured. Mine are now clean but it's a vacuum cleaner not a magic wand...

Sarah Vine's Femail podcast: Elon Musk buying Twitter


Chatting with Sarah and Imogen about why Elon Musk wants to spend billions of dollars on Twitter and what it might mean for the rest of us. Listen at 17:43 for 13 mins of chinwagging. Yet again, I rabbit on and help make her Femail Half-Hour more like 40 minutes. Oops! 🤐

E&T: May gadgets


An online special tech roundup this month, including gadgets to revolutionise everything from games to houseplants. Also check out my hands-on review of the Obsbot Tiny 4K, a webcam with built-in gimbal to track you.

E&T: April gadgets


Gadgets galore plus I test the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser with help from my dog, two cats and 12 rescue hens. That's not me pictured: people with 15 pets don't have white carpets, no matter how good the gadget.

From the school archives


Ha! My friend Penny found this in the archives. Early gadget girl work from the eighties. I was 14, I think. Note not just the nerdiness but the comms skills of knowing what big ticket items would be to attract students to the fair. Technology, robots and lasers, oh my! Top illustration by Henrietta too, I'm glad she signed it!

BBC London: Mini Food Banks


3D artist Sean Rodrigo and I talk about Mini Food Banks. This one is used to connect donations for our local food bank PL84U Al-Suffa in Waltham Forest, east London.

E&T: March gadgets


The latest technology plus my hands-on review of the Kokoon Nightbuds headphones you can wear in comfort through the night for sleepy sounds.

BBC Radio London: Mini Food Banks


Talking live about Mini Food Banks with Anna O'Neill on the Vanessa Feltz morning show. This link should work for 29 days if you'd like to listen! (from 1:42)

Sarah Vine's Femail podcast: NFTs and the Metaverse


Great craic with Sarah and Imogen as I attempt to explain the basics of virtual art, blockchain and whether to buy virtual designer clothes. Listen at 19:47 for more than 12 minutes of bants. Oh god, am I personally responsible for making her half hour nearly 40 minutes this week?!

Pictured: 'The First 5000 Days' by Beeple, which sold as an NFT at Christie's for $69,346,250.

Pictured: 'The First 5000 Days' by Beeple
Beeple / Christie's

TechRadar: Wunda WundaSmart review


The one where I say that I suspect my parents are reptiles. 

Ideal Home: Connect an HP printer


In which I detail how to connect an HP printer to WiFi.

E&T: February gadgets


The best healthy hi-tech tech kit for the new year, plus my hands-on review of the Coros Vertix 2 outdoorsy watch that talks to all the satellites.