What Is The Point Of Uber?

What Is The Point In Uber?
I keep hearing about this shamazing driver service called Uber. It's mentioned on social media all the time with '£10 money off codes' offered on Twitter with increasing regularity. When I look it up it appears to be an uber-expensive (see what I did there?) taxi service and very much a 'city thing'. It feels to be marketed more as a 'private hire' or 'personal driver' type experience with all the Uber marketing being accompanied by pictures of sleek black cars with drivers that are suited and booted to match. 

Here's what happens with Uber...
You open your app, you set your pick-up location (presumably using your phone's location services because what if you don't know where you are?), enter the address of your destination (what happens if you don't know that either?) and the nearest driver accepts the job, After pick-up the driver is provided with your destination and you are shown your route and estimated time of arrival. Because all payments transactions are by pre-registered debit/credit card or PayPal, no cash changes hands.

Here's what happens in my home town...
I ring my local, trusted taxi firm (of which there are many) and order a taxi, a few minutes later the taxi arrives and I receive either a text or a phone call telling me that the driver is waiting for me with the make and model of the car that he is driving.  I am driven to my destination (my own vagueness is not a problem) and I pay in cash when I get there. It generally doesn't cost me more than five quid for a local(ish) journey.

My country bumpkin friends seem to think along the same lines as me:

@Rachel_IRL : Not sure I get it either.
@loveitloveit : Someone I knew was murdered by an unlicensed taxi driver. I wouldn't chance it.

I've also asked a few of my uber-cool (ok, I'll stop now) city-dwelling friends what they think about Uber and there was generally positive feedback:

@markusj75 : I think people like the lottery aspect of it! Will I get some disgruntled, rude boy who charges me though the nose??
@DannyUK : Benefit is that a cab comes to you when you click on the app. You can see estimated fares and where the cab is in a map. It also allows you to see feedback for each driver too.
@HPMcQ : You get all the drivers details up front. You can pay by PayPal so even if in a tight spot with no cash you can get home.
@Jssccaa : Cheaper than local taxis, no pressure to tip as you've already paid, free rides as a new user and for recommending others. It's about a pound per journey cheaper [..than regular taxis..] in Leeds, Downside is there's not always one available. Always go to Uber first, don't have to make a phone call. 
@khloee : I use it. So much cheaper, no cash needed and lower wait times than cab firms.

So, what is the point in Uber? It seems that city taxi firms (un)officially leave you hanging around for ages whilst Uber drivers are hanging around waiting for you to switch your app on. I (now) understand that all Uber drivers have to be registered but as discussed with one of the afore-mentioned contributors to this discussion, there's always the risk of swapping their registration/licence around but that can happen with regulated taxi drivers too.

I'm probably really old-fashioned by wondering if this is something that has yet to filter into an old mill town in the middle of Lancashire or if the latest trend will actually fizzle out before it reaches here. If you're using an app in a city why not crack open Google and search for "taxi in [insert name of city here]" using your location service to find something nearby?

What are your experiences of Uber? Good? Bad? Same as a regular taxi? Let me know in the comments. 

Photo Credit : Angel.Co

What Do You Do With The Books You Have Read On Your Kindle?

What Do You Do With The Books You Have Read On Your Kindle?
Did you know... a full Kindle weighs a billionth of a billionth of a gram more than a brand-new one? That's one of my favourite facts from the book 1227 Facts To Blow Your Socks Off whch I've had on my Kindle for a couple of years now. But what are you actually supposed to DO with the e-books once you've read them? You can't (as yet in the UK) lend them to anyone, you can't donate them to charity, they aren't sitting on a shelf collecting dust and even though you can store approximately 3500 books on one (and even if you read one a day that would take over 9-and-a-half years) they aren't much use sitting on your Kindle.

I love my Kindle. I have the Kindle 4 and it was a surprise present a few years ago. I've never upgraded because there's no real need - it does the job it's supposed to. I've got a couple of hunddred books on my Kindle and that's the beauty of it - there's always something to read whether it be a new book from my "Books To Read" list, a comfort read from my "Favourites" folder or just a couple of .pdf documents that I've uploaded for research purposes.

I'm sure it's just my mild OCD kicking in and me just wanting to have un-read and in-progress books available for me to dip into when I switch my Kindle on.  I was (and still am in some respects) the sort of person who has three or more books on my bedside table, one next to the loo, another by the bath, a couple next to my chair in the lounge and one in my handbag.  The only difference now is that they are all stashed on my Kindle and I cart that around with me wherever I go.

So what do you do with the books you have read on your Kindle?  Do you just leave them there and forget about them? Do you move them into a little folder so that you can find them or refer back to them if you need to?  Do you delete them knowing that you can retrieve them from your Amazon account if you need to?  

Am I over-thinking this?

a full Kindle weighs a billionth of a billionth of a gram more than a brand-new one

Why Am I Not Photogenic?

I look in the mirror and I'm fairly happy with what I see. Given the (no pain) option I'd change a couple of things and I know that losing more weight will change the shape of my body and my face even more so that's a work in progress. But why does the mirror version of me look so different from the camera version of me?

I look at old pictures of myself - the time before I realised about looks, style, angles... I'm a fairly good-looking kid; I'm happy (aren't we all on photographs from the '70s and '80s - none of that 'here's my kid in a dilemma' type Facebook upload)... it's the time before self-conciousness.

I've tried the smiling with my mouth open/closed
I've tried the "drop a hip" method
I've tried turning to the side
I've tried different hair cuts and different make-up looks

I know it's only me that cares and no-one else gives a shit but there's so few photos of me that I'd like at least one or two where I look GOOOOOOOD, y'know? I want to document my life whether that be on or offline. So often I'm the one behind the camera and I still haven't found the best selfie angle and I'm not so sure I'm *that* narcissistic.

Is it true that there are some people just aren't photogenic or can I find my good side somehow? Is it because I've been so unhappy with my body shape for so long that it's affected my confidence? Is the image I see in the mirror so different from what you see?

Edited to add: When I shared this on Facebook it sparked a very interesting conversation - have a read here.

Health And Fitness

Over the past few months I have shared an occasional photo either before or after I've been running (yes, I've become one of those people). Recently I feel as though I'm mentioning my "Couch To 5K" (C25K) running group a lot but it's changed the way I think about my own health and fitness. I joined a community Group Run programme in Blackburn not long after I started my journey with Slimming World as part of my conscious effort to shed some pounds and ultimately become more active.

To be perfectly honest with you, I've never been a "runner". I was always a sprinter. Even the warm-up laps at the track used to knacker me out at training sessions.  And after I had my accident, I didn't really run any more...

I find it hard to explain in words what the Blackburn Group Run C25K programme is like. I tried to complete the process on my own on a couple of occasions but always gave up by week two. The community spirit and the encouragement from others is the main reason it's such a success. I completed my own 9-week C25K programme in August last year. I felt a huge sense of achievement because in week one I couldn't run for sixty seconds without thinking my heart was going to jump out of my chest and collapsing in a puddle of my own sweat after each session.  Afterwards, I decided to 'pay back' by volunteering to lead one of the small groups in the next (and subsequent) programmes.

One of my 'Things To Achieve In 2015' is to complete a 5K run in 30 minutes.  At the moment I'm not sure that's possible BUT on Saturday, I managed to run a personal best. It's a small achievement; the bigger achievement is seeing many of the people I've been mentoring through the C25K programme over the past 8 weeks run better and faster than me. I worry that I'm holding them back - that they should be in a group that will motivate them to run faster and stronger. They have that option but they keep coming back.

The Gallery : Health And Fitness - Foggy day on Witton Park, BlackburnThe Gallery : Health And Fitness - Sunset over BlackburnThe Gallery : Health And Fitness - Frosty morning on Witton Park, Blackburn

(click 'em to big 'em)

The main thing is that I am seeing the world through new eyes; I snap a quick pic of my favourite tree on the park coated in fog, a glorious sunset as I join my running group in the park in the evening, frost on the ground on an early Saturday morning, an amazing moon-and-cloudscape (never captured on camera - but I will one day). And, of course, the obligatory picture of my trainers before I set off - the trainers that I adore seeing filthy and lived in rather than in pristine condition because they are being used for their purpose.

The Gallery : Health And Fitness - Ready to go running

As an aside, all this health and fitness and motivation stuff has made me think more about how other people fit exercise into their daily lives so I run a weekly podcast called FitBitches.  You can subscribe on iTunes or on your podcast capture app or even listen in on MixCloud.

PS... I toyed with sharing this last picture but I'm very proud of it. You may have noticed that I hardly ever share photos of myself but six months or so down the line, I'm starting to see the changes that I wanted in my body shape.  There's still a way to go but there's shape and there's tone and it's a new me.

For more Health & Fitness pictures and stories hop, skip and jump 

Couch To 5K Update (plus win Adidas Trainers!!)

I keep meaning to update you all on my "Couch To 5K" volunteering. I am now leading my second group through the programme (we're currently on week 7) and I'm absolutely LOVING it.  I'd campaign for a C25K group in every single town in the UK if I could. The NHS-supported plan is brilliant for solo or group training, however, for me, it's more the motivation and community aspect of our running club that spurs me on. 

I also want to buy ALL THE SPORTS CLOTHES (now, there's a sentence that I never thought I'd write...) and have recently treated myself to some new running leggings. I like to think that they make me more streamline *wink*  Next on the list is some new trainers - my current ones are OK at the moment - so I've started to save up. 

In the meantime, Mainline Menswear told me about their competition to win some adidas Original Trainers so I entered for my husband, passed it on to both my sons and I'm sharing with you too. Good luck and let me know if you're a winner! 

I am sharing this competition on behalf of Mainline Menswear. 
View my disclosure policy here.