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And fireworks. Oooh!

I didn’t get just one present on Friday, but two! Hurrah!

First up was a new mouse for my desktop, a Logitech G300. I’d been using a Microsoft X8 for the last couple of years (at least, the parts of them when I had access to my desktop PC), and didn’t really get on with it for some not-really-definable reason… I thought it was because it was a bit jittery (imagine trying to draw a circle with an etch-a-sketch) at 2,000+ dpi, but it turns out the Logitech is exactly the same in that regard (and it’s a completely different sensor, so must be normal, despite my never noticing it with any Razer mice I’ve owned).
But the new mouse seems really good, smooth and responsive. Maybe it’s just that it’s a different shape and much lighter; there’s almost no weight to it at all. Maybe it’s because it’s wired. The feet seem slicker than even the replacement feet I got the X8, so maybe that helps. Anyway, it “feels” better, as utterly unscientific as that is.
And it’s ambidextrous, which I prefer; I can use mice in either hand, and tend to swap them over occasionally to avoid RSI (or, at least, spread it around evenly), or because I’m sitting at the other end of the desk. Using the X8 left-handed is awkward, as comfortable as it is for the purely dextrous.
Its extra buttons are quite easy to reach, too, although you couldn’t really hold them down because they’re not thumb buttons (which are a rubbish idea on ambidextrous mice, as shown by various Razer designs over the years).
Best of all, it’s got a green light in it. This is much better than the X8’s red LEDs and fancy LCD display. And if you’re wrong and disagree, it can also glow blue or red, if you want.

The other present was the aforementioned espresso machine. Hurrah! Specifically, a DeLonghi EC152. I need never have another unpressed S again.

I’ve coveted an espresso machine for ages, but had been put off by the price combined with the assumption that it’d be a bit fiddly and a pain to clean, like cafetieres or filter machines. Happily, I can report: not so!
Making a cup of espresso with the machine takes less time than a properly brewed mug of tea. And cleaning up afterwards is a doddle: empty out the filter (allegedly you can just tap it to make the spent coffee puck – ooh look at me and my jargon – fall out, but I’m yet to manage that. Just go ’round the edge with a teaspoon or something), rinse it out under the tap, quick dry and leave to air so it’s ready for the next time you want to use it. No jug to wash out, or plunger apparatus that regularly needs dismantling. It’s really easy.

The other thing it can do is steam milk, which sounds like a recipe for cleaning-up disaster. Heating milk always makes a mess. But, amazingly, no. You steam your milk, turn it off, unscrew the end nozzle, wash it under the tap, wipe the metal pipe, screw it back together and give it a few seconds blast of steam to make sure there’s nothing blocking the hole and that it’s all nice and sterile. Dead easy. Even easier than warming up milk in a microwave, and the milk goes all frothy to boot. You don’t even need coffee to go with it; just sprinkle on some nutmeg for a bedtime drink, or pour it onto breakfast cereal so that’s nice and warm. It’s bril.

The machine’s not perfect; the lid over the water reservoir doesn’t click down firmly, which doesn’t matter at all but it makes that bit of the machine seem flimsy (the rest of it, despite being surprisingly light, is rock solid. The lightness does mean it’s sometimes hard to lock the filter handle into place, though; the machine’s easier to turn than the handle!). More annoyingly, the whole thing’s really short; if you want to use a normal mug you have to remove the drip-tray, and trying to get the mug and filter handle in and out without spilling anything is still reminiscent of one of those wire puzzles you get in Christmas crackers. The steam nozzle’s also rather short, and a bit close to the worktop (solvable by pointing it over the edge, of course, but you can’t use a massive jug for the milk).

Those niggles aside, it’s cheap (for an espresso machine), and makes brilliant coffee, in my non-expert opinion. Better coffee, I reckon, than my usual coffee shop manages. And comparing the price, once I’ve got through three packs of coffee the machine will have more than paid for itself, even just counting double espressos; Lavazza espresso coffee costs about 20p per cup, rather than £1.60 in CCL. 43 cups to break-even. That’s a fortnight at present consumption.

Admittedly, I buy perhaps one coffee per month, so if I only used it that often it’d take ages. But the past week I’ve been having three or four per day, and it’s still been cheaper than buying one ready made. And better. And you don’t have to go out in the cold.

You can’t lech at the pretty staff, though.

My favourite discovery so far is that you can leave the pump going for longer than the normal time, meaning you wind up with a cupfull rather than about 60ml. “Lungo” is the fancy term for this, apparently. I like them with a splash of milk and a little sugar, which is probably heretical. Mmm, tasty heresy.

I’m really glad I bought it. A gizmo that works! Amazing. If you like coffee, and ever wanted an espresso machine, go for it.

This post was not sponsored by DeLonghi, Lavazza, the International Coffee Association, or anybody else. Other appliance manufacturers, coffee suppliers and hot beverages are available. Have you tried tea? Tea’s also nice. Teapots are cheaper than espresso machines, but less convenient. Tea is also more traditional for dunking biscuits. Do you like biscuits? You should.
If any of those organisations would like to sponsor it, please get in touch. I can even remove the line about tea.

Back to my evening. Dinner was lamb rib and grilled onion sandwiches, in fancy sundried tomato rolls; another tasty result of Thursday’s shopping trip. Then it was the local firework display, so my sister and I walked over to watch them. Having the council put on a free display less than ten minutes’ walk from your house is dead convenient. Worth seventy quid per month, along with the bins and swimming pool? Perhaps. The display was good, as it always is, and as it was surprisingly mild we didn’t even have to worry about frozen fingers.

We returned to my house, and I wanted to show off my new toy so I made my sister espresso. She thought it was a bit strong, so that was an excuse to give the milk steamer its first go. It was an education; the lesson being “turn off the steam before you pull out the nozzle”. After we’d both finished laughing we cleaned up. The milk turned out OK, though.

Then I got rid of 700 kCal by feeding it to my sister, meaning that I only had to (had to!) scoff 4,000 all day. Omnomnom.

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