Argos: Faulty Cookworks Kettle

Cyrill the kettle
Cyrill the kettle

Two years ago, we replaced our old kettle with a new shiny one from Argos’s own CookWorks range. All lovely and well and good and it did it’s job for some time.

We’ll conveniently ignore that a kettle should last longer than two years, and move swiftly on with the rest of this tale.






Please forgive the dodgy photo on this one!The kettle is now well out of it’s manufacturer’s guarantee, but when it developed a fault, I thought I’d replace the kettle, and let Argos know that there is a potential safety issue with one of their own brand products.  Barically, there were two screws poking out of the bottom (from the inside of the base of the actual kettle, so clearly fallen from within)



electricsAfter we’d replaced the kettle, we promptly took the old one apart and we were horrified to find that these screws are actually what holds the power plate containing the cables and the earth screw.

I’ve highlighted the two screws that had fallen out, and you can just about see the small screw marked earth, which was only JUST holding on. 

If this screw had worked a few mm more, then the earth cable would no longer be connected to the metal body of the kettle. Should a fault occur, this means the body of the kettle could become LIVE

So, I thought I’d do the right thing, tell Argos about it and see what they say. I’d replaced the kettle, I know it’s outside of it’s guarantee, I don’t even care that it had broken. I just wanted to highlight the potential danger this could cause. 

To my utter astonishment, they told me to get it tested by an independant electrician (at my own expense) to see if it was wear and tear, or a manufacturing defect. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but the base of the kettle is a sealed unit. Several small phillips screw, and locked in by a screw with a triangular head (I simply broke the base to get this off). How could this POSSIBLY be wear and tear?

Before anyone says anything, these screws were poking out of the base of the kettle BEFORE I took a screwdriver to it, and it was clear where they were missing from. 

Now, we’re protected by a residual circuit breaker (RCD) on our fuseboard, so it’s not possible for us to have been electrocuted. Not all houses are though. 

Rather than saying thank you for bringing this to our attention, I’m brushed aside with some pathetic excuse about it being wear and tear?

OK then, if that’s how you want it, so be it. We’ve solved our safety problem by replacing the kettle, but if Argos get their arse sued, don’t say we didn’t warn you. 

Now, I’m not saying ALL CookWorks kettles are a risk, or faulty, but ours was, and the total indifference I was greeted with when this was highlighted got me so frustrated, I had to vent somewhere, hence this post.

It’ll be a cold day in hell before we buy Cookworks from Argos again. 

Here’s the actual response: 



Restore your twitter background – With a Chrome extension

Well, Twitter have gone and made a mess of things, and removed backgrounds from people’s feeds. I’m colour blind and this change has made Twitter a lot more difficult for me to read.

Previously, going to Settings > Design and hitting save brought it back, but that seems to have stopped working today.

If you use Chrome though, there is an extension you can download which will allow you to restore your background (or possibly use a self hosted one, I’ve not tried that yet)

Visit for the download and instructions. They may seem a bit fiddly, but it should only take a minute and they do work.

What happened to Manchester’s gay scene

The gay village in Manchester has been around for many many years now. I first landed in 1996 when I was brought over by a friend for a day round the shops and then hit a few bars in the village.

I’d been to Manchester many times before this, but never realised the village was 30 seconds behind what was then Chorlton Street bus station.

It was a sunny weekday afternoon as I’d got a day off college. The bars were bustling, we went into the New Union and New York New York, and you couldn’t move. We didn’t go to any other bars, but we went for a walk down Canal Street and lots of people were having a great afternoon, sat outside enjoying the sun.

Roll forward a couple of years, and I decided Manchester was the place for me. The city was big enough for me, but not overwhelming coming from a semi rural background. I thought the gay scene was great, all in one place, and on my first day in this big city, I got a job in what was then called Castros (The small bar below McTuckey’s)

I worked there for a while, over pride ’98 and thoroughly enjoyed it, even if we did end up sleeping on the floor of the bar, it was all a bit of a laugh. I moved on to work in the Union for a while, which was a laugh at the time.

Once I left working in the village, I continued to be involved in various different events and occasions, from painting and decorating inside the Rembrandt, handing out safer sex leaflets, stuffing free condoms and lube into packets and there was a great sense of, whoever you are, wherever you’re from, we’re a community, you felt part of a whole (I said Whole not hole!)

Roll forward to the summer of 2000, and things had started to change. Queer as Folk had not long finished on TV, and the village started to get flooded by hen parties, presumably because they felt safer down the village, which I understand.

This however, started to bring other sorts of people in, people who wouldn’t normally go into gay bars. More bouncers had to be employed to deal with the extra rowdiness, and some bars, didn’t do proper background checks on their bouncers (I’m looking at the Rem here). I was having a drink with my ex, and his ex, a drug dealer, took exception to this fact and had the bouncers physically throw me out of the Rem, my back landing right on the opposite kerb edge, which left my back scarred for many years.

Shortly after, I was mugged a couple of times, and worse (I won’t go into detail here), so I left Manchester and moved down south with what fond memories of Manchester I had.

Long story short, I moved around a bit, didn’t settle, and nowhere came close to what I knew of Manchester, so in 2006, I moved back. For a time, things were mostly good. The Union had had a face lift and your feet no longer stuck to the floor, the Rem was no longer the bar it once was, (proper bouncers, but had lost it’s core customers due to wanting to attract the younger, twinky crowd like the Union)

Luckily there was still the likes of the Outpost, which I newly discovered, and good old Company bar hadn’t changed in the slightest.

I was living at the bottom of Sackville Street at this time, so I would be out in Company Bar till gone midnight every night it was open, and still made it into work the next day.

But things were changing. I don’t know if you can blame the economic downturn, the smoking ban, the rise of gay dating sites and apps, or maybe it’s all three.

Roll forward again to the start of 2010, when I met my wonderful husbear. We still went out every Friday after work to the outpost, and back down there again on Sundays for Bearaoke, and yes, I did take part, without fail.

Legends still held it’s usual appeal, and we went to Alert etc… but that was all about to change, as plans were afoot to demolish both the Outpost and Legends. Both of which held many happy memories and are missed by most.

So, we returned back to our haunts, we tried the Rembrandt (Or Rem Bar as it was now called), and found it was deserted. A couple of people dotted here and there, but that was t. Nobody talking to anybody, trying to start a conversation or make new friends.

It’s the same story next door in Via. This was another old favourite of mine, as it was suitable to take my mum in for a meal (1998-ish), where she promptly asked a couple of things “Are you top or bottom” (Didn’t answer that one) and “What type of men do you go for?” (So I took her in to the Rem). Today, there is nobody sat outside, empty chairs at empty tables.

That leaves one place, Company Bar, where at one point, before I’d finished walking down the stairs, my drink was poured ready and waiting for me at the bar.
Again, the same fate has befallen it, mostly deserted, had an attempted refurb, (Probably to try and get rid of it’s core customers yet again) is now serving piss poor flat beer (I’m entitled to my opinion before you start!), and when this was pointed out to them, their customer service was without question, the worst I have ever experienced in the village. We haven’t been back since.

So where is there left, for men, rather than twinks? If someone would like to tell me, drop me a line @monkeypigs on twitter.

Canal Street itself, can look beautiful when empty, in the morning or late evening sun, however, it now looks tired, scruffy and unloved. Even the Beacon of Hope in Sackville Gardens is overgrown.

At an average price of £3.45 a pint, plus a tenner in the taxi each way, I could just about tolerate that for a night out, if it was worthwhile and going to be enjoyable.

The last few proper nights our we’ve had have left us thinking “What the fuck was that” with an empty feeling at the loss of community.

Will any of this old village ever come back? I doubt it. I think it’s gone too far down that road now.

Caffeine and anxiety

As some of you may know, I suffer from panic attacks, and have done since Christmas 2001 when I had my first panic attack in a busy shopping centre in Southampton.

Since then, I’ve been on various different medications, and the current ones are doing a good job, generally.

Recently, I’ve noticed I’d become panicky for even less trivial things than usual. What should be a fleeting thought about work would be a deep seated anxiety, keeping me on high alert for days, ruining entire weekends

I started to think that I shouldn’t be feeling like this despite the cocktail of drugs I’m on, not all the time.

Then one day, I noticed that I started to feel anxious all of a sudden after just one cup of coffee. So for the first time in years, I switched to tea. After a few hours, I started to feel surprisingly, well, OK actually!

The next day I continued on tea and a strange (but pleasant) empty feeling started to develop, where the panic and anxiety used to be.

Nearest I can describe it is, you know when you’ve been crying for absolutely ages, when you stop, take a deep breath in, that feeling just there in your chest, but almost constantly.

So whilst this feeling continues, I sat down and worked out, how much caffeine I was actually consuming, 8-11 cups of (instant) coffee a day. There’s many different readings for instant coffee, from 80-135mg caffeine, so lets take an average of 100mg per cup. That’s 800-1100mg a day, or 11-14 cans of Red Bull, or 16-22 Pro Plus pills!

Now I’m not daft, I know coffee contains caffeine, but I’d never worked out how much I was consuming per day just by drinking a cup of coffee per hour.

So now I’m drinking tea, at around 50mg/cup for a short brew time, I’m down to 300-400mg a day. No anxiety, no sense of impending doom, no awareness of every single pounding heartbeat.

Now I’m not saying this was the cause or solution to all my problems, but it’s certainly letting the drugs do a better job of keeping things in check.

Strange how it had never struck me earlier, even stranger not a single healthcare professional has ever mentioned it.

Hing Fat – Harpurhey

This evening, we decided on that rarest of things for us, a chippy tea. It’s about 3 years since we last went, and we wanted to see if it had improved any since. 

First of all, they’re still serving dick (sic) in ginger and pineapple. Makes us laugh anyway. 

We were pleasantly  surprised to see a 5 star food hygiene rating, secondly, the little old lady who has been there forever was still serving. 

That’s where the good parts end. 

We placed our order and paid our money, she then went to serve the people who were before us their food. 

It was like watching Julie Walters in a cross between Mrs Overall and Two Soups?

She then proceeded to take our order again, before serving someone who had just walked in. Bit odd, but hey, she then took our order again, and then again wandered off to serve this time TWO more people who had just walked in, before taking our order yet again. 

By this time, 20 minutes had passed and we’d had enough, demanded our money back and walked out. 

If you want to sample their unique brand of customer service and (going by the last time we visited) mediocre food, visit them at
797 Rochdale Road,
M9 5XD
0161 203 4881


Following our visit, we looked them up on the Food Standards Agency website and discovered this:

So in case the service isn’t enough to put you off the food hygiene should be.

Beef & Pudding – a review

Today is our first wedding anniversary, so we decided to head into town and try Beef and Pudding a try. You might think it a strange choice for a vegetarian, but read on!

On arrival we were greeted and shown to our table by friendly and attentive staff (attentive without being intrusive I might add – thanks Lauren!)

As soon as we sat down we noticed the mix of decor, the tiled walls, the mix of unusual light fittings, and the raw, industrial ceiling, all fitting neatly together.

Neither of us has huge appetites so we headed straight to the main course (as tempting as the starters looked!) 

I had the goats cheese, pickled onion and beef tomato tart. Forget about those onions you buy in a jar, this mix of sweet, acidic and richness was perfectly balanced on a bed of puff pastry. In 25 years of vegetarian, I think I have a new number one dish. 

Hubby had the pudding, a rich suet pudding filled with gristle free beef and melt in the mouth pastry served on a bed of mash with a velvet gravy.

There was a decent choice of beers and ales too, which went down a treat with our meal. 

Our only regret is being too full to attempt one of their desserts. 

A main course and a drink came in at £16.50 per head, and to sum the whole dining experience up in one word? Delightful. 

Follow them on Twitter and definitely pay them a visit!

Add yoga classes to your everyday life

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“Lesser artists borrow, great artists steal.”

– Igor Stravinsky


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“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”

– Jonathan Swift


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