1. Sunrise Alarm Clock – SRS260
I’m really not a morning person, and I find winter in Europe very difficult to deal with. If I wake up to an alarm clock I feel I’ve been shocked into the world, and I remain tired for the rest of the day. I don’t have the same problem in the summer, because sun streams in through the window and I wake up naturally and refreshed.
The Sunrise Alarm Clock mimics natural sunrise, allowing your body to gently rise from its slumber over the course of 45 minutes or so. I find I don’t need any audio alarm with the Sunrise Alarm because my body simply knows when to wake up, I open my eyes, and I feel good.
My sunrise alarm clock also has the option to play MP3 audio, and comes pre-packed with a selection of nature sounds. While the “Bleep Bleep Bleep” of an alarm clock is entirely intolerable, soft bird song is actually nice to wake up to.
If you think you can buy an alarm clock for £5, the cost of a sunrise alarm clock can be quite off-putting (upwards of £100) – but I quantify that cost as spending £1/day for the “dark season” so as not to feel like an anvil.
2. Vacuum Trimmer – Philips QT4090/32
I hate shaving – it’s an annoying, messy, waste of bloody time. I generally walk around with stubble and when it gets unmanageable or itchy it’s just gotta come off. This used to mean I created a gargantuan mess which took ages to tidy (hair all over the sink, taps, floor, mirrors, toothbrushes….)
Phillips does a nifty little trimmer with a built-in vacuum. It sounds entirely absurd and gimmicky, but it works. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a damn sight less messy than any other method I’ve seen. It isn’t waterproof, but it doesn’t really need to be. Shaving in the shower is to reduce mess, and isn’t always comfortable, but without the mess I can shave in front of a mirror which isn’t fogged up, and I don’t have to worry about imminent divorce papers as a result.
3. Juicer – Phillips HR1861
Carrot juice with a hint of ginger… yum! With a juicer you get what you pay for – any dual purpose device (juicer/food processor) will leave you entirely annoyed because it doesn’t do either of its tasks properly.
The reasons for loving a juicer are obvious, fresh juice, but if you get a cheap juicer you’ll end up sticking it in a cupboard and never using it. The Phillips HR1861 does an excellent job of juicing and its components are dishwasher safe. Make a glass of juice, empty the hopper, stick everything in the dishwasher – done.
4. Swiss Army Knife – Craftsman
I forget when I was given my first Craftsman swiss army knife, but it was in my early teens as a birthday gift from my grandmother. The single difference of the Craftsman model over other models, which makes it a million times more useful, is instead of a bottle-opener it has a phillips head screwdriver. The Craftsman is literally identical to the Swiss Army Handyman except for the phillips head screwdriver.
My first Craftsman was stolen out of my luggage between Bangkok Airport and Phnom Penh, and it wasn’t until I went on holiday to Geneva that I found the same knife. This time I had it engraved with my name.
The longevity of these tools is phenomenal, and the number of times the Swiss Army Craftsman has saved the day are uncountable.
While on holiday in Amsterdam once, I was staying in a friends new apartment which had only a brand new, unbuilt, ikea bed. I shopped for hours looking for the right tools to put it together, but I wasn’t having any luck and I was getting desperate. I ended up buying a “Swiss Army Tinker Small” which also includes the Phillips head screwdriver, and build the entire bed with just this multi-tool.
5. Walimex Timer Remote
This nifty little piece of kit allow anyone with a Canon Digital SLR Camera to shoot time lapse over long periods. Its a very simple little gadget which plugs into the remote socket of the camera and triggers the shutter at pre-set intervals, and for pre-set durations (if you so wish) – This also allows you to time shutter speeds over the standard maximum 30 seconds, so you can more accurately expose night shots on very dark nights.
There are a few other options for canon timer remote controls, but I found they were more expensive and had less functionality.
6. In Car Power Inverter
In-Car power inverters should come as a standard feature on all cars – the ability to plug in most small devices with normal 240v power requirements is extremely useful. Laptops, Flood Lights, Portable Fridges, Camera Chargers, even mobile phone charges if you don’t have an in-car charger. I use mine all the time, its a reasonably unusual item for most people, which is why it makes the list.