Latest Posts
Ways To Stay Entertained
Keeping ourselves busy, even amused, can often feel quite difficult; although there are plenty of means to keep entertained, sometimes the sheer number of options available can be overwhelming. Therefore it’s important to seek out activities that are among the most versatile, not only will they prove to be the most popular, but usually they are the more accessible. Seeing as our lives revolve almost entirely around our smart devices, then let's take a lot at some of the best online forms of recreation.


Read Confessions

I’m sure a lot of you have heard of apps like Whisper: they’re designed to allow users to spill their darkest secrets and confess to questionable acts, all while remaining anonymous. While on the surface it may not sound very entertaining, a lot of these stories are enormously funny, and allow you to escape from your own life for awhile. Laughter and humour is among the best forms of fun around, and what can be better than real life stories of it in action? Think of online confessions as the agony aunt pages of the internet.


Play a Game

Now that gaming is one of the frontrunners in both the recreational and business world, there are no end of online activities available to keep even the most novice of players busy. Whether you want to explore the depths of a mysterious forest or enjoy the thrill of Live Baccarat from Betway, there is a lot for you to enjoy. Not only can you immerse yourself in any title of your choosing, you can also win back some money as well, which always adds an extra level of entertainment to any activity.

Watch a Video

Another time old classic that never goes out of fashion, and just keeps becoming more convenient. Long before our technology became so varied and multifaceted, we were restricted by what we could and couldn’t do online and via our devices, now however that isn’t the case. There is nothing more funny than watching a cute panda sneeze and fall over, or a cat try to jump a gap and then fail epically. Even if funny animal videos should prove too cliche, you can always find how-to guides and reviews that are worthy of watching. We could go further into why games are better than films, or why reading true life stories are more riveting than fiction, but there is no true need for they are all entertaining nonetheless. These three options will keep you amused for hours on end, and should you eventually tire of them, plenty of others can take their place.


Is It Possible To Find The Perfect Notebook?We are just over half way thought the year and I've still not managed to settle into one notebook or diary. The Hobonichi Techo (mentioned in my Planning in 2016 blog post) didn't totally resonate with me. I really liked the layout however I wasn't a huge fan of the paper (*hears all stationery aficionados draw a sharp intake of breath*) and I was missing my travellers notebook set-up.  I dipped in and out of other notebooks from time to time and ended up settling on the official Bullet Journal Leuchtturm 1917 which was a gift from a friend. I'm making a conscious effort to see this notebook to the end however I still haven't found a particular set-up that gives me 'planner peace'.

In the meantime, there's been a few notebooks that have caught my attention so I have tried and tested a couple.


Dodopad - Acadpad - plus paper for Filofax
I'm a long-standing fan of Dodopad and used their Acad-Pad when working in education as it was easier to plan my work timetable alongside the academic timetable. I always like to have one of their mid-year diaries on my desk in my home office as it helps me to have a focus on next year's family events and holidays or even to work out savings plans for these events.  I usually keep this in my personal sized Filofax and saw that recently Dodopad have brought out a range of everyday writing paper for 6-ring binders too. It's the same quality paper (100gsm) that is used in their diaries which passes every single ink test as you can see in this intensive test conducted by Philofaxy against Filofax's own paper.  The paper style is one of my favourites too - squared on one side, plain on the other - perfect!

Atomic Notebooks - set of three - from Inkabilly
Also, I've recently been introduced to the husband and wife duo who run Inkabilly.  Their brand is very much vintage inspired and influenced by their days when they were roller derby skaters.  What I do love about their ethos is that they source as much as they can in the UK and strive to support small artisan businesses, makers and artists (something that I also support, especially when I worked with the local regeneration project, Blackburn Is Open, a couple of years ago),  They have a small range of A6 notebooks with their 'Atomic' design which are super-handy as a bright, fun notebook (the paper is 80gsm) which fits perfectly into a pocket or handbag.

  • If you want to grab some of the gorgeous stock from the Inkabilly website, use discount code TYPECAST15 for 15% off anything! (valid until 31.08.16)

So with all this temptation in my wake, is it any wonder that I struggle to use just one notebook. In the interest of research, I watched tons of videos on YouTube looked into the 'One Book July' project in the hope that it would provided me with some hints and tips for using just one planner.  What I did glean from it was that I'm too conscious of having a neat and tidy diary where I should be using any diary or planner for their purpose. A total revelation!! 


Tell me... are you a one-book per year type of person or do you use lots of different notebooks for different reasons? What's your preferred method of planning? Do you use a traditional diary or planner or are you a fan of bullet journaling?

For a long time I have been interested in the way in which the trend for e-cigarettes, or vaping, has grown.


Learning More About Vaping
Marketed as an alternative to smoking cigarettes or as an aid to giving up smoking, part of my concerns stem from the way in which smoking was glamorised back in the 1920s and 1930s after smoking was originally associated with prostitutes and 'wayward women'.

Clever marketing connected smoking to the growing independence of women and liberation movements along with sponsoring training sessions which taught women how to smoke delicately and lady-like! In 1923 as few as 5 percent of American women smoked, rising to 12 percent by 1923 and upwards of 33 percent by 1965. Although smoking related diseases were still rare for women in the 1950s, by the year 2000 more than 70,000 were dying per year in the USA with lung cancer surpassing breast cancer as the lead cause of cancer death in women in 1987 [source].

Fast forward to 2014 and vaping is hugely popular. Because of the method of vaping, some establishments allow vaping to be conducted indoors (although this has changed moving forward) and my own son decided to try it out. This culminated in a phone call to home from school and his e-cigarette being confiscated after he was caught vaping on school premises.  Around the same time, Cancer Research UK tweeted out the following message which generated an interesting conversation about my concerns regarding my son's activity plus the lack of research towards effect on the human body in comparison to the research conducted on nicotine over the years.  It's worth clicking on the tweet in full to see how the conversation between myself, CRUK and another person developed.



I find it hugely interesting that my son tried vaping in the same way I tried smoking at the same age however he admitted to trying it because of the 'different flavours' available rather than the addictive nicotine element which I fell for.  I also found out that whilst e-cigarettes are not entirely risk-free, the health risk reduction has been proven to be 95% less harmful (you can read more about this here and it includes a link to a Public Health England official study).  I also read in the same link that there doesn't seem to be a link to e-cigarettes or vaping being an 'easy way to start smoking' for children or non-smokers. 

I'm personally still not entirely convinced that vaping is as risk free as is currently demonstrated but I'm happy to see that it is reducing risk in many fields, moreso with the risks associated with nicotine-related second-hand smoke compared to the (much lesser) risks from vapour.  

As ever, I'd be interested in your thoughts.  Do you vape? How did you start vaping? Have you only ever vaped or did you switch from normal cigarettes to e-cigarettes? 



For more reading and research visit the Vapemate Blog
For more information about articles like this please see my disclosure policy.

You know me and notebooks... it's a total love affair. But I'm always on the lookout for something new and different and that's exactly what these Dreamday Journals are.


Notebook Review | Dreamday Pattern Journals
Adopting the trend of stress-busting 'adult colouring', Laurence King Publishers have created six luxe notebooks which are unique in their layout and I was lucky enough to review two of them.  Each notebook has 100 pages (uncoated ivory paper) and you get a mixture of blank and patterned pages.

The two notebooks I took a look at were the Japanese themed journal with its cherry blossom pink cover and leaf-and-wave designs and the Marrakech themed journal with the blue cover and Moroccan mosaic inspired patterns. In fact, you can have a proper sneak peek inside the journals by watching my video.



These Dreamday Journals have quickly become my desktop jot pad because I have blank paper to hand to scribble notes on but then I can while away a few minutes when on the phone or just waiting for inspiration to hit me by shading in the patterns.  But I'm sure yours would fast become a place for your own musings and shading.

To find out which Dreamday Journal would be best for you, take this fun quiz - then you can order your perfect Journal direct from the Laurence King website.  Mine was the Marrakech, which is fortuitous, isn't it?

Recently I mentioned in a video on YouTube (it was either this one or this one) that my favourite style of pen to write with has to have a fairly thick barrel. I also had a bit of an epiphany because I realised that the reason for this is because of the way I hold my pen - balanced on my ring finger rather than my middle finger, therefore the thick barrel compensates for the difference in grip.


Pen Review | Monteverde Prima Rollerball from Pen Chalet
So when choosing a pen to review from US-based pen retailer, Pen Chalet, it was only natural that I gravitate towards a larger sized barrel.  I also chose to review a rollerball rather than a fountain pen simply because I don't use my current fountain pens enough and wanted a good quality, everyday pen.

A couple of reservations I had when accepting this review was that it was being transported from the USA to the UK so delivery time was something I was conscious of and whether custom duty charges would be applied.  As it was, I didn't need to be worried about either. The pen was shipped on the 14th June and I received it on the 22nd June (I've had slower deliveries within the UK) and no customs duty charges were incurred.  Also, as you can see from the video and the image I shared on Instagram, it comes beautifully boxed in a leather-look case so would make a wonderfully presented gift for someone.

The Monteverde Prima is a chunky, weighty pen and is really distinctive looking.  The barrel of the pen made from resin so the patterns on each pen are unique.  Sticking with my orange theme for 2016 I chose the Tiger Eye Swirl (orange and black) but the pen is also available in other colours. You can see an 'unboxing' and a pen test in the video below.


The pen has been in and out of my handbag for the past few weeks and has been used every single day.  There isn't any noticeable damage to the barrel, the finials or the chrome embellishments which is great news.  Yes, this may seem to be an expensive pen (the RRP is $65 USD) to be using on a regular but it's such good quality that it deserves to be used every day.


Thanks to Ron from Pen Chalet for asking me to review this pen. He approached me because I was nominated for 'Blogger of the Year' during National Stationery Week. Follow Pen Chalet here:
Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest | YouTube

A few weeks ago I shared a couple 'throwback' pictures of myself; a time when I didn't appreciate the body I had and didn't think twice about fitting into a swimsuit or bikini. As time has gone on, I've become more body-conscious but also have realised that a lot of the pressure to have a 'perfect body' comes from my own perception of what is printed in the media. It is also something I picked apart in a blog post a couple of years ago - 'This Isn't The Body I Want But It's The Body I've Got' where I sort of conclude with the thought that I wish I was as fat as I was when I first though I was fat... but it doesn't really matter because it's only really me and the Daily Mail that cares, isn't it?

me in swimsuits through the ages

Fast forward to this year and we managed to book a little break in Majorca at the beginning of the season. It was going to be hot enough to get a little colour on my skin but I fancied some new 'sitting out in the sun and looking like a supermodel' type swimwear.  I read loads of articles about how to find the right style of swimsuit for your body (or draw attention away from the most disliked parts of my body which has changed drastically over the years) and I tried to work out how many different coloured bikinis I would need to have just the right amount of 'mix and match' outfits but then I gave myself a bit of a shake.

swimwear from UK SwimwearWith new found determination, I chose a couple of styles from the swimwear section and the bikini section of UK Swimwear that I wouldn't normally go for but were a huge success. I reminded myself that I going away to relax and didn't need to comply to a 'type' or a 'trend'.  I had to not look at the size on the label and find something that would be comfortable enough to sit on a sun lounger whilst sipping a cold drink and reading my Kindle for a few hours a day. I had to take my own advice about not conforming to a particular size or shape, especially when age and lifestyle has a lot to answer for in the way my body looks at the moment.

And no-one is really looking at me anyway - and I'm OK with that. 


This blog post was written in collaboration with UK Swimwear. 
Please see my disclosure policy for more details.