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My Diary For 2023

Every year I write a blog post about which diary system or set up I am going to use for the following twelve months. In recent years, I have moved away from a Filofax (I trialled something earlier this year - more of that in a minute) and fallen in love with the Hobonichi printed diaries. For the last two years I have used a Hobonichi Weeks as my personal planner and I won't be deviating from that this year. I have tried a Hobonichi Techo A6 a couple of times but have never managed to feel comfortable with it size-wise.  I have always lusted after the Hobonichi Cousin A5 as a main work planner so, this year, I have bitten the bullet at launch time and invested in my very first one. Hobonichi Weeks The Hobonichi Weeks is a slim diary with a yearly, monthly and weekly layout. The main section is a "week to view with notes" and there are an additional 70 note pages at the back. This year (2022) I used the "Mega" version which comes with almost three times as m

How To Take The Perfect Selfie

There aren't many photos of me when my children were younger because I was always the one behind the camera, snapping those precious moments to look back on years down the line.  Film was expensive, developing another cost, and photos were taken the commemorate special occasions.  Now we have a camera on our mobile phone, almost everything we do can be captured for posterity and there are many more photos of me now that the 'selfie' has become popular.  There's a knack to taking the perfect selfie though.  Here are some tips that I'm sure even Kim Kardashian uses...

Group selfie of Blackburn Road Runners at the 2019 Manchester Half Marathon
• Have fun with your selfie.  Here's one I took last year where I tried to cram every single member of our running club into the one photo at the start line of the Manchester Half Marathon and another where I shouted "BRIDGE SELFIE" and my running gang just lined up perfectly. 

• Angles are your friend.  Take pictures from many different angles until you find the one that is most flattering for your face (my photo here is NOT the best example of this for me!).  

• Lighting is key.  Natural lighting is best but you can also use a ring light (watch out for reflections if you're a glasses wearer though!)

• Be aware of your background.  Different backgrounds can help make you stand out in pictures but cluttered backgrounds can distract from the main focus of the picture (YOU!).

• Plan how you are going to frame your picture.  What do you want to highlight or hide.  Use the above mentioned angles and lighting to help out here.  

• Use different facial expressions. You might feel a bit daft posing with a big cheesy grin or pulling a funny face but if it attracts attention to your photo then you're on to a winner!

the Selfie Bag from Cotton Bag co with tripod, ring light and reflector

The people at Cotton Bag Co have come up with a genius gift idea for those of us who love to take photos of ourselves.  The Selfie Bag comes with a whole host of tips and gadgets to help us get that Instagram-worthy shot and a really hand tote to carry it around it.  

► Bluetooth tripod selfie stick: get the perfect angle with a Bluetooth selfie stick to connect to your phone. This selfie stick is perfect for group photos, holiday snaps and for when you want to get your whole outfit in the pic.
► Pocket for valuables: a re-usable bag isn’t quite complete unless you have a place to hold your phone, keys and money whilst out and about.
► Zip top: the whole bag has a zip across the top for added security and so that you can be rest assured that nothing will come tumbling out.
► Pop up reflector: to get the perfect lighting for your selfies we’ve included a pop-up reflector which comes tucked up in its own mini bag.
► LED ring light: if the reflector doesn’t quite cut it, then give the LED ring light a go. This ring light handily attaches to the top of your phone, plus it comes with a lead to charge and has 3 settings so you’re sure to get just the perfect lighting.

I'm going to be grabbing a couple more of the Selfie Bags as Christmas presents but do check out the Cotton Bag Co, especially for their ethical and environmentally-friendly approach to business. They also hold the Guinness World Record for the largest jute bag which was 22.5 metres long, 14.6 metres wide and 3.5 metres deep.  That's big enough to hold 9 double-decker buses! 

Disclosure : I was sent a Selfie Bag to review and you can read my disclosure policy here.