Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Top Apps: Airbnb

Next in my app series is Airbnb.
Boy do I wish I'd known about this app sooner! Airbnb is an app, as well as a website, where people can list rooms, apartments, houses, boats and even manor houses and castles (if you have the bank account to back it up), for holiday-makers to rent out during their trip.

Ok so how does the app work.

// Discover Page // Side Menu // Sleep in a Bus //

Once you've logged in, you'll find yourself on the "Discover" page which is full of a mix of different apartments and houses from all over the world if you just fancied seeing what's out there. I even found listings for buses to stay in! Not sure if I'd be up for it but I love the concept. The side menu allows you to see the trips you have planned, as well as view your property wishlists of listings you've favourited and saved for a later date. 

// Search results can be viewed either as list or on map // Filter results //

The search option then allows you to enter your travel dates, how many people are travelling with you and your destination and BAM scroll away to find the perfect place for you. There are also filters you can put on your search, such as price range, room type and why you're visiting the area in order for the site to come up with the most relevant listings, save you trawling through pages of inadequate homes. 

// Listing Page //
// I do not know or have any affiliation with the above listing owner, it is merely an example //

When you see something that interests you, tap the listing to see a full property description and photos, location details, available booking dates, reviews from people who have stayed there and any house rules that may be in place. There is also a link to the host's profile so you can see exactly whose property you're staying in!

I haven't actually booked any accommodation through the app yet, so far I've just had some fun typing in random places and seeing what pretty apartments come up (my nosy side is never far away!). That being said, I'm going to Dublin next week and, although everything's already booked, I really wish I'd seen this app before then because I put in the dates we're over there and there are actually some really nice apartments right in the city centre that are cheaper than what we're paying for our hotel.

Definitely something to keep in mind next time I'm booking a trip and I'd recommend having a look if you're planning on going anywhere because you might just find something really nice and save yourself some money in the process!

Has anyone used Airbnb or do you know someone who has? I'd love to hear your opinions.
Or maybe like me you've had a nose around different countries for fun, let me know what you've found!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Week Review: 15th March 2014

It's been such a hectic week this week, what with all the dissertation work I've been focusing on (not that any of that boring-ness will be reflected in this post!) so I haven't had a whole lot of blogging time but fear not! A face mask review post is on it's way to you shortly!

But for now here's a look back at what I've been up to (minus the uni work) this week:

// Ed's Easy Diner // We climbed a mountain // Roche //
// Pizza on top of a mountain // The view // Dublin Planning //
// Comfiest leggings // Forgotten photo from London Zoo // Cancer Research //

Ok so Saturday was definitely my busiest day this week. Started off with a trip to Ed's Easy Diner with my mum and brother, which was great (not just because of the American food) but because we rarely spend time as a family anymore and I've honestly missed it. Then I went to Newport to see Roche and since it was such a sunny day we decided to climb (that's probably a bit of an exaggeration) walk up Twmbarlwm Mountain. Roche packed pizza to have at the top (now that's my kind of picnic!) and the view was honestly amazing. We were so high up we could see the entire city and over to Bristol; even if, at the time, I wondered whether the climb was worth it! I'm so unfit it's unreal, let's blame the asthma I had when I was a child to make myself feel better for my complete lack of being able to breathe on the way up...
Then the rest of my week consisted of planning mine and Roche's trip to Dublin, which my Dad ever-so-kindly paid for as my birthday present from him. We're going from 2nd-4th of April, which doesn't sound long but we have 3 full days there and are definitely planning to make the most of it. Definitely going to squeeze in a trip to Dublin Zoo while we're there (I'm becoming zoo-obsessed...). I also ordered some check leggings from Topshop which came a few days ago and I am loving them! I live and die in leggings but these are without doubt the comfiest pair I've owned and I don't think my photo does them justice so I'll leave the link to them at the bottom of this post.
Finally, as I'm sure you've seen on your Facebook feed or on the news, women in the UK have been posting "no-makeup selfies" in order to raise awareness of breast cancer and get people donating. I don't know about your newsfeeds but there was a lot of negativity going around with them. People posting asking others to stop "clogging up" their newsfeeds with makeup-less photos and angrily saying it has nothing to do with breast cancer. Whether it makes sense or not those "no-makeup selfies" have raised £2million (and counting!) which is an incredible achievement that hopefully silenced those who labelled it as "pointless".
Now I think it's a great idea and I wish I had the confidence to post a makeup-less selfie but, as an Alopecia sufferer, I find it incredibly difficult to bare all of my "facial-baldness". So no I didn't post a selfie but I did donate and I hope everyone continues to do so because it is a great cause.

I'd love to hear your "no-makeup selfie" stories or if you have any tips or ideas for places to visit in Dublin they would be much appreciated too!

And anyone who's interested in those leggings:
Topshop Check Leggings (£25)

Monday, 17 March 2014

Top Apps: Sleepbot

Again, a different type of post to what I usually do and, don't worry, I will get back to reviewing beauty products! There are two main reasons why I've taken a break from beauty reviews and they are: 1) since starting to write my dissertation my skincare routine has taken a bit of a back seat (tragic I know!) and 2) my dwindling student budget hasn't allowed me to buy anything new in a long time. That being said I have my eye on a few Origins products so keep your eyes peeled for those reviews!

Anyway onto this post! I was going to do just one post of my favourite apps I've been discovering over the last few months but I just had too much to say about each one (shocker!) so thought each deserved their own individual time to shine. 

Starting with Sleepbot:

I've been using this app for about two weeks now and I actually really like it. Now don't get me wrong it's not life-changing but from a nosey point of view it is quite interesting information to know. I initially sought out a sleep tracker because, for a while now, it seems like no matter how much sleep I get I am always, always tired. I started to wonder why that was and thought maybe seeing what goes on in my sleep will give me some answers and it pretty much did. 

Sleepbot works by keeping your phone or tablet on your bed with you while you sleep. There are three things it is designed to track and you can choose which settings to turn on depending on what you want to know. These settings are "motion tracker" which measures your movements during the night, "sound tracker" which record the audio in your room and "smart alarm" which uses your movements within a 30 minute period of your set alarm time to determine when you're at your lightest stage of sleep, making waking up easier.                                 
Just set an alarm, choose what you'd like to track and tell Sleepbot that you're going to sleep, simple!

Both tracking results are recorded and displayed on a graph, which spikes when you move or when there is noise. I always have the motion tracker on because I thought that might be where my sleeping issues come from. I was right. Most nights the graph shows just how restless I am, showing increased movement every 15-20 minutes; no wonder I wake up shattered! I haven't tried the sound tracker yet purely for wimpy reasons; I'm honestly half expecting it to playback some form of ghost activity which may be silly but I'm convinced my house is haunted and I'd rather not confirm that!

Bad nights' sleep (top) compared to a good night's sleep (bottom)

The app also give you a chance to rate your sleep out of 5 stars and write a short comment on it, whether that's a note about a dream/nightmare you had or just to sum up how you think you slept.

Rating system

All your sleep data is recorded, making it easy for you to go back and check previous nights'/weeks' sleep. Other information it gives you includes how much sleep you owe yourself in terms of getting 8 hours of sleep a night, how long you're asleep for (also shown in graph form) and what your average sleep time is.

All of your recorded nights' sleep archived

The number of hours sleep you have during the week plotted on one easy to read graph

This app is only available on android but I know my housemate has a pretty good one on her iPhone (don't we sound like a fun house!) that also tells you at what stages you were in light, deep and REM sleep so that could be interesting too!

All in all it's a great app that can show you some really interesting things about your sleep pattern. It's free so you really have nothing to lose and it's sort of addictive! I've become quite excited about checking my sleep in the morning (it's not like I experienced the real thing or anything...). Sad I know but I'd definitely recommend it!

Anyone else tried a sleep tracker app? I'd love to know your thoughts!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Birthday Weekend

So I turned 21 on Sunday, despite still looking 15 (which I'm going to put down to having a good skincare routine for the last 10 years, thanks Mum!). I've honestly had the best birthday I think I've ever had and it just made me realise how lucky I am to be surrounded by the family and friends that I am, which is something I take for granted in day-to-day life. 

Saturday 8th March:

Starting with Saturday, my present from my boyfriend was a trip to London Zoo because I love zoos and the nearest one we have is Bristol Zoo which doesn't have the same variety of animals as London offers. It was a super long day, we got the Megabus at 6.30am, then after a 4 hour bus journey, 2 tube rides and a 25 minute walk later we were finally at the zoo! We spent about 4 hours there, it was such a sunny day and I loved every minute of it; I just felt like a kid again. I even got to see a snake yawn, there's a first time for everything! Then began the long trip back, we got home at 10pm and I couldn't wait to crawl my aching body into bed. I'm so unfit I even pull muscles walking round zoos nowadays!

Sunday 9th March:

My birthday! Weirdly (as it's so out of character for me), I started the day by cleaning my room from top to bottom and having a complete clear out. Absolutely no idea why I did it, clearly the new 21 year old me is a tidier, less cluttered individual! As is the tradition, I spend my birthday with my whole family (minus my Dad), we just hang out, have food and enjoy each others' company. It's not very often we get a chance to all get together and it's something I wish we could do more. My cake was absolutely amazing though, it was a cake of a VW campervan (because I've always been slightly obsessed with them) and was chocolate fudge cake inside. Then I spent the evening with Roche, takeaway and TV; pretty perfect end to the day!

And these are the collages I woke up to on Facebook from my Mum and Dad:

Monday 10th March:

Most of Monday was spent in uni but in the evening I saw my Dad and then it was time to celebrate with my uni friends. Me and my friend Joe had a joint birthday night out, starting out in Varsity with a load of Woo Woo cocktails and then moving on to Live Lounge, where my brother and his friends joined us too. Couldn't ask for a better end to my birthday celebrations than being surrounded by my favourite people and listening to great music.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Surviving a Uni House Share: The Rules

Ok so a bit of a different post today but something I think could be important around this time when people are thinking about living arrangements for the next year. Moving out of your parents' house and into a house share with your friends can be one of the most exciting times in your whole university experience. All of this new freedom, making your own rules (which probably means there are no rules!) and being around your friends 24/7. It really does sound great and for the most part it is, I don't want to put a dampener on what is a great experience but in reality it can be harder than it seems. I think it's important to remember being friends with someone and actually living with them are two very different things and that's something I really didn't realise until 18 months ago. You think you know someone but it's only when you're around them the majority of the day that their true colours show; whether that's their bitchy side, untidy side or any annoying habits that follow.

Here's some background on my own house share experience before I lay down some hopefully useful rules. I lived at home in my first year of uni, then second year I decided to move into a house with 4 other girls on my course. I knew some of them more than others but those I didn't know as well seemed nice enough. I was so excited and for the first 6 weeks we were all inseparable, best of pals, nothing could come between us. How wrong I was. Long story short, our friendships went downhill very quickly, resulting in one massive blow up where 3 of us decided to live together the following year, leaving the other two to make their own arrangements. This all made for a very frosty, awkward and frankly hostile atmosphere in the house for the remaining 7 months. Not ideal! So the three of us now live happily (ever after?) and they are some of the best friends I could ask for.

That brings me onto the rules, or rather the guidelines for surviving a uni house share:

1) If you have a problem with something someone has done or said, say something.
- If there are certain things you have a problem with that could be resolved by talking, definitely do it. If someone showers or uses the hairdryer at all hours of the night when you have to be up early or if they leave so many dirty plates lying around that you no longer have any clear surfaces, just take that one person aside, say politely that it bothers you and would they mind showering earlier etc. This was one of the biggest mistakes my first house made; we let all the little annoying habits get bottled up until we literally couldn't stand to be around each other anymore and then it all just exploded (tears and everything!). If we'd spoken up sooner, that person would've had a chance to take on people's advice making for a happier household.

2) Steer clear of bitchy post-it notes!
- It's all too easy to get annoyed by the highest pile of dirty dishes you've ever seen taking over your kitchen or people using your things and not putting them back where they found them and impulsively write a bitchy post-it note, sticking it where everyone can see, which will only cause atmosphere and tension and you will more than likely regret it later. It also starts off "Post-it Wars" meaning the only communication is through these snide comments on little bits of paper. Again that's not healthy and you're better off, firstly calming down, and then trying to talk to the person face to face.

3) Beware of food thieving!
- This is something that is all too common and, on student budgets especially, is really not fair. I know if you're in the middle of cooking and the one ingredient you're lacking is staring at you from your housemate's shelf, it is hard to resist. However with most student areas there are corner/convenience shops everywhere, you are never more than a 5-10 minute walk from one. If a 10 minute walk will save you potential days of tension, I'd say it is worth it. But if you do slip and use your housemate's food, just make sure you replace it, they will appreciate it.

4) Don't bother with cleaning/housework rotas.
- The intention is always there; to share out cleaning tasks equally and potentially rotate jobs for the sake of being fair. However, when talking to people from other houses too, we all start off with one and none of them have ever lasted more than a few weeks (I know ours didn't). Generally, people forget or can't be bothered to do their job, that annoys the people who are doing their jobs, resulting in arguments. The easiest solution is if you make a mess, you clean it up; just focus on your belongings and let other people be responsible for theirs.

5) Joint account for bills.
- Another annoyance for us, although all house shares work differently, was who was responsible for paying for the Virgin Media TV/internet. Since I was the first one moving in, I was in charge of sorting out and getting the Virgin Media installed, which meant I had to sign up using my card details. Everyone said they would transfer their share into my account monthly and I trusted that but it didn't always work out that way meaning at the end of the year I lost out on quite a bit of money. Learning from that, in this house we set up a joint account that we pay into on a monthly basis and Virgin take it from there so no one is out of pocket.

6) Balance your time.
- When you're living with people, a lot of the time you can feel like you're in each other's pockets. No matter how much you enjoy spending time with someone, if you're around them too much they can drive you round the bend. Make sure you have your own down time or alone time, just to be away from the others and do the things you enjoy doing.

7) Minimise the atmosphere.
- Ok so if things do go terribly wrong and you all fall out or form separate groups within the house I think it's still important to be respectful of them. Yes you don't like them but try not to create such a massive negative atmosphere that it makes the house horrible to live in. No one should be made to feel uncomfortable or intimidated in their own house, no one should have to sneak around avoiding people or walk on egg shells. That's what happened in my first house and really what's the point in paying rent on somewhere you can't stand to be? So even if you can't stand to be in the same room as them, just be civil. Smile if you enter the same room as them, say hi and ask how they are if you can muster it! You never know it may lead to rekindling friendships.

I know these guidelines may sound like the most obvious advice ever but when you're caught up in all these different situations it's easy to lose sight of even the simplest of solutions.

Hope this helps and I'd love to know your tips for surviving uni halls or a house share so feel free to leave a comment :)

Monday, 3 March 2014

Let's Catch Up!

Ok so as I said in my last post, I've been Blogger AWOL for 2 months so I thought I'd do a catch up post of everything that's got on in that time. It seems like an absolute blur looking back on it and trying to remember what I've been up to; what would I do without Instagram to remind me?!

End of December 2013:
// White Christmas with Gramp // Millie versus reindeer decorations // Fajita Night //
// Christmas Eve cinema trip with Mum // Christmas PJs tradition // Presents from Boyf //
// One of the Xmas presents to Boyf // Dexter & Uni Work // Presents from me to me //

I was lacking the festive spirit so my Gramp decided to put on White Christmas which, I know, is a classic but I'd never seen it. Adding to the Christmas spirit, my Nan came back with light up reindeer and sleigh for their back garden which my dog in no way appreciated; she didn't know what they were or why they were in her favourite carpet spot but she wanted them gone! Not really in-keeping with the "Christmas tone" of this part of the post but Roche and I decided to have a Fajita night which is definitely something that needs to be done more often! Then onto Christmas Eve, which is full of traditions in my family, starting with mine and my Mum's annual Christmas Eve trip to the cinema which this year involved Saving Mr Banks. I honestly can't rave about this film enough, it's just an all-round great family film full of the Disney magic I'd been missing. Christmas Eve ended how it always did, with Christmas Eve PJs, this year's being a reindeer vest and red shorts set from Boohoo. Christmas Day was full of the usual family festivities and the new addition of driving over to Roche's in the evening to do our own little Christmas. He knows me so well getting all of my favourite things; pug make-up bag and calendar, Nirvana T-Shirt and of course Batiste dry shampoo (where would I be without it!). I bought him something the big kid deep down inside of him (ok really not that deep down...) had been mentioning for months in the run up to Christmas; Lord of the Rings Lego including Gollum figurine to remind him of me (long story short: I used to get called Gollum in high school because the resemblance was uncanny). Finally, no rest for the wicked, uni work doesn't stop just because it's the last couple of days of the year but I couldn't face doing it without my beloved Dexter and buying myself some presents as a reward for trying to be a good uni student!

January 2014:
// Millie's Vets trip // My first opticians visit // My usual view //
// Cinema Trip: American Hustle // Puppy-sitting // Ruby Tuesdays // 
// Night out // Hangover Day // High School teacher on Pointless //

January absolutely flew by! So to start from the beginning (leaving out New Years which was awful), Millie does not in any way like the vets, I don't blame her, I'm probably the same when I go to the doctors but she was properly shaking and hiding under chairs and, being the mean owner that I am, I just couldn't resist taking a picture! I also, at almost 21, had my very first eye test. Probably something that was long overdue but it turns out I have good vision and no need for glasses! Summing up my usual view in photo three, Roche and football, can't say I'm in any way a football fan but I am a fan of Roche so if keeping him happy means watching men run round in shorts then it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. We also went to see American Hustle which I was kind of expecting more from considering how huge the cast was. That being said I did really enjoy it but it was one of those films where it ended and I wasn't sure what to make of it. I then got to do something I absolutely love doing; puppy-sitting! Anyone who knows me knows I'm near-enough obsessed with puppies and dogs in general and I cannot be held responsible for the "aww" noises and baby speech that leave my mouth when a puppy crosses my path so I jumped at the chance of looking after Roche's dad's puppy Jake. Little tinker. Then there was some Ruby Tuesdays action (love, love, love!) and a night out for no other reason than we all needed to de-stress and I had a new dress, which is from Missguided and has accelerated my love of tartan. With every night out, brings a hangover day which involved not really moving from the sofa for 90% of the day. Finally a total surprise while flicking through channels, I spotted my high school geography/form teacher, who has to be said was my favourite (if we're allowed to show favouritism). Needless to say he did not do very well, which was gutting because judging by Facebook we were all rooting for him! Genuinely lovely man, even when we used to wind him up a treat.

February 2014:
// Another night out // Sudden realisations // London Zoo //
// Valentine's Day // Want an adventure // Cinema trip: Lego Movie //
// Russell Howard's Wonderbox // Babysitting the Dweebs // Birthday celebrations //

And finally, February! Another birthday night out with (mostly) my favourite people to celebrate some people completing Dry January. Following that I realised that uni will be over forever in a few months and, since I've had the absolute best years of my life so far, it's the scariest thought having to leave this place and these people. I had a sudden realisation that everything is going to change (I'm not good at change!) and I have no idea what I want to do with my life. It's an adventure I suppose! Speaking of adventures, Roche booked us a trip to London Zoo for my birthday because I absolutely love zoos and the nearest one to me is Bristol which, I hate to say it, has gone downhill in recent years. Onto my first ever Valentine's Day! I know it's all commercialised and you should show you love your partners every day not just one day a year but it was my first one and no one's ever bought me roses before so safe to say I got caught up in the Valentine's moment. Also with the pressures of dissertation writing, even more recently, I've just fantasized about dropping everything, hopping on a train and exploring somewhere I've never been before. I'll do it one day, I love adventures. Yet another cinema trip to see The Lego Movie, which I didn't think would be my thing, but I surprised myself by LOVING it! I recommend it, it's just a happy film. Last week I went to see Russell Howard live and it was just the pick-me-up a needed, I was crying with laughter throughout the whole thing, he did not disappoint! Then this weekend Roche and I were puppy-sitting the troublemaking Spaniel Jake again which I will honestly never get tired of. And finally, it marked a week until London Zoo and my 21st birthday, expect a blog post!

Sunday, 2 March 2014


Just a quick post to apologise for my blogging absence the last 2 months!

Pretty sure I briefly mentioned in a previous post that I had some health issues that got in the way of my blogging time (if only because I couldn't think of anything else!), then it was Christmas and New Year and before I knew it I was back in uni working non-stop on my dissertation! Which brings us to today. 
Juggling third year, dissertation work and a blog was never going to be easy and it was a battle won by the dissertation. Although I'm nowhere near finished with that, I'm going to start making time for my blog again because I miss writing (well writing things that are in no way uni related!).
So I've got quite a few blog post ideas up my sleeve that will hopefully be up over the next month or so; some of them will be in-keeping with previous posts I've done and others will be slightly different to what I usually do but hopefully a good different!

Apologies again and watch this space!