Tuesday, 20 February 2018

5 Money Saving Apps You Need

On the 10th January 2018, I officially passed my driving test after nearly a year of learning. Once the initial shock wore off it didn't take long until I had my set on getting a car. The catch? It costs a lot of money. I've been saving for a while but I now have a clear goal in mind, to put towards a deposit for a car.

I consider myself quite thrifty though, I always look for bargains and try to make my money stretch further as is. For a while I've been using a few different apps to save up my pennies and today I want to share them with you. All these apps I've had for at least 6 months, some longer so they really are ones I use. Sadly no sponsorships, just my opinion guys, gals and others.

1/ Quidco// I've started with this as it's my biggest earner. I's a cashback app that you can use online or just from your phone. If I'm buying anything I always have a quick check to see if they have any offers on. The downside is that it can take a good while for tracked transactions to be approved, but once they are its all yours! I'll hold my hands up, the majority of my purchases made through this are takeaways, but even if it's only 20p I earn, its money I would have spent anyway. It all adds up in the end! It also includes the likes of utilities, so I'd say have a look around at what extra offers you might be able to get next time you're switching provider.
If you're interested in trying it out and then use my referral code. Once you save up £5.00, we'll both get an extra £5.00!

2/ Viewsbank//
This one is a little different. It's actually a polling app. They have a daily poll Mon-Fri and answering gains you a solid 10p. They also have extra questionnaires that tend to offer bigger incentives up to£1-2. It doesn't sound much but actually if you use it consistently it doesn't take tooo long to reach the payment threshold of £12. I've had at least 3 payments since I started using this about a year ago and I'm well on to another. The only issue I have is remembering in the week to log in! The app also includes general polls you can take part in but I typically stick to the paying ones.

3/ CheckoutSmart//
This app works to promote new products by offering cashback. I don't use it as often as the products really vary but by keeping an eye on it I've picked up a few freebies or cheap deals on things I already intended to buy. It's worth just checking every now and then.

4/ Receipt Hog//
This is my favourite of the money saving apps. It works in that you earn coins which translate to paypal pay offs. You earn coins in several ways, the first from scanning receipts from the likes of grocery stores and health stores. The other by using the little "hog slots" machine, you earn spins from scanning receipts from clothes and electrical stores. It's a slow builder but I like it because it's a bit quirky and doesn't require me to spend any extra money, just scan after purchases I've already made. It rewards consistent weekly use with spins and then coins as you move through the levels.
I'll admit I haven't had a cash payout even though I've hit one of the thresholds (it is slow to accumulate the coins) but I'm saving for one of the bigger prizes.

5/ Skyscanner +Airbnb/
Okay, you got me, they are two different apps. I just wanted to include them as I've used both a few times to save me some money on trips away and accommodation. I know that technically I'd save more by having no trips but you got to cut a gal some slack! By using these two, the trips I have splashed on have been cheaper than they otherwise would have been. Skyscanner helps to find cheap flights, while Airbnb gives options for a variety of different rooms/flats/homes to stay in once you've decided on your destination. Both are available as apps and websites.
If you do want to check out Airbnb, then use my referral link. You get £25 in travel credit, and then once you complete a trip I get £15! Not a bad offer eh?

So just a few apps I use on the regular, see what you think and let me know how it goes.

Abi x

P.S. nobody paid me for this little post, sadly, so no bias over here guys. I will benefit if you click on the referral links though, so be a doll?

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Book review: This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

I'll be honest I don't often read non-fiction but This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay  caught my eye back before Christmas. I think if I hadn't been a Physio I probably wouldn't have been drawn to a memoir collection, but the medical connection drew me in.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Book blog tour: Force of Nature by Jane Harper

It seems only yesterday that I was reviewing Jane Harper's excellent first novel, The Dry. For me its a stand out book, not only for being a great thriller but for also being one of the first book blog tours I took part in.

In the same way that since then my blogging has come along way, so too has Harper's work. I was approached a little while back to take part in the tour for her second novel, Force of Nature, and was really happy to have the opportunity to do so.

The book takes place in the same world we left in The Dry but could easily be read as a stand alone. It sets a dark tone from the very beginning, where we follow the survivors of a work retreat gone very wrong.
The question from the start is simple, What happened to Alice Russell? An issue that haunts the characters throughout the story. The answer is not a simple one and I'll confess I didn't guess the ending (this once) but once you know it feels like the only way it could have possibly ended. Still we see how Detective Aaron Falk, the protagonist from The Dry and those entangled in the story sift through the facts to find the dark truth.

I talked in my review of her debut novel of the spectacular imagery she is able to create. Again, that really shines through. As someone who has never been to Australia and in fact lives in a totally different climate, it still feels believable and incredibly real to be in the depths of the Australian bushland. 

Overall the book gets a solid 9/10 for me. I don't know if Harper intends to write any further books within this series but I will be awaiting her next work with bated breathe.

Abi x

I was sent this book with the sole purpose to review it. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, popped a few affiliate links in, gal's gonna eat y'know.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

A year in review:2017

Any year comes with its ups and downs but 2017 was one that personally showed that to me.
It’s been simultaneously an awful year for me and also a great year. 
Looking at the lows first:
I lost my Granddad, even nearly 6 months on I couldn’t help but shed a tear at the thought of him not seeing 2018. 
I saw the end of a long term relationship. It’s something that was failing for a long time, but when you’ve invested that time and emotion in it’s hard to see clearly. It came a massive shock to me.
I’ve failed my driving test. A goal of mine this year was to pass it and I’m really gutted I didn’t.

On the flip side? There’s been plenty of highs. 
I ran my first race and then a further three on top of it! 
I moved back to Liverpool, which was a big moment for me and my independence and living on my own again. 
I spent time in new teams in work. I’m one of the more senior junior physios(makes sense in my head) and I feel like I’m still learning so much, I love it. 
I discovered new shows: particularly Rick and Morty and It’s always sunny in Philadelphia, hands up for fellow watchers. 
I went to more events for this wee blog. Was involved with more book blog tours than ever and started my YouTube channel back up! 

New Years is a great time for reflecting back on your life. For some it can be hard to see the highs next to the lows but I promise you they’ll be there. It’s easy to compare to other people, especially those who celebrate there good parts of the year. Hard to acknowledge that they will have had bad times too. That it’s normal for life to not be 100% amazing all the time. 
As January starts to really kick in, a lot of people find that their mood drops. 
For me it’s a good time to remind myself that I’ve got a whole year for more good and bad times. A whole year to make new experiences and memories. 

I’ve never bought into the “New Year, New Me” mantra. Instead it’s always been about new opportunities for me. I’ll always be me, I’m changing all the time and growing. It doesn’t take a change in date for that to happen.

I think what this ramble has been trying to say is that:
  • You can change at any time
  • There’s nothing wrong with reflecting back on your year just don’t compare to other people
  • If you’re struggling in January, you’re not the only one.
  • There’s a whole year waiting for new opportunities 
Abi x

Monday, 29 January 2018

What NOT to do in Milan!

It’s a few days into a holiday, you find yourself just starting to get your feet under you and get the hang of what you’re doing. Everybody tells you what you should be doing.
Next thing you know there’s a great big list of things NOT to do that me and my mum  may or may not have been doing...

Read on for our Milanese mini-distasters!

  1. Don’t get on the tram the wrong way// in fairness we made the on the right number but in the opposite direction...
  2. Don’t accidentally order hot milk instead of coffee// I actually liked the “latte” we ended up with even if it wasn’t the coffee we’d intended
  3. Don’t get excited when you spot something you recognise// my Mum is a coeliac, I spotted some “senza glutine” biscuits and didn’t look any further. One pack was lovely little shortbread bits, the other? Tomato crackers... needless to say they didn’t taste to great with our hot milk...
  4. Don’t go the bar//this isn’t the same as don’t drink. Everywhere we’ve been so far doesn’t seem to have drinks prices up. Instead people sit and the menu comes to them. Sounds very simple but we nearly missed out on Italian “apertivo” by not doing this. Essentially they’re version of a happy hour is if you buy a drink you get access to bar snacks. Except they’re typically more than a few peanuts...
  5. Don’t go the supermarket unarmed with a few words of Italian foods// turns out tuna in tomatoes with pasta turns my stomach... could have lived without trying that one.
  6. Don’t pick an apartment with dodgy power// I’m not sure how I could have known this in advance but one of the days the power stayed on only about 10 mins max. We played cards by phone light...
  7. If you do, definitely don’t go down the creepy basement// especially when their is a mains switch in the kitchen... bonus points if you follow the eerie instructions to your death correctly.
  8. Don’t put cinnamon in coffee instead of chocolate// the disappointment is real...
  9. Don’t go to one of the main tourist attractions at a stupid time//we smartly decided to go back at a less busy time with success!
  10. Don’t forget to pack sun cream//turns out even in winter Milan is  pretty darn sunny... yep we both ended up rosy cheeked! 
If you want to see want fun we actually did have...then head to my wee YouTube channel! 
Blue Striped Square

Abi x

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Celebrating Badass Women


If you’re a twitter user you may have noticed a recent trend on the site. I’m talking of course of the “Badder than Taylor Swift” tweets.
Now I don't have anything personal against Taylor Swift. Her music isn't to my taste but I can respect that she's a successful artist with an immense musical empire. That being said, this particular screenshot has inspired one of my favourite twitter trends I've ever seen, while also being one of the more frustrating examples of  empowerment I’ve seen in a while.

People have taken to quoting with details of women that can only be described as badass bitches. They've been a mix of historical figures and peoples own personal feminine heroes. It's one thing to acknowledge that badass women have existed all along, getting actual examples just makes it that much more amazing.
I, of course took tried to take part and included details of my great grandmother Rebecca. She was a formidable woman with an iron will, who fled across Europe before she was 20 with her best friend. She passed on before I was born but I've heard so much about her growing up, that I've always been a little bit awed by her.

It was only after I’d posted that someone pointed out that what the posts were actually doing were comparing women. As if women can only be successful when compared to other women rather than in their own right. It’s a shame because I really somebof the stories that have come from it.

Instead let’s start our own trend of #BadassBitches, not necessarily ones just compared to Taylor Swift. Let’s honour women’s achievements not match them against others.

In fact let’s just honour when people succeed full stop. Be they male, female or other. We all deserve recognition for our achievements, and we deserve them under our own steam. Not in the shadow of someone else, not in competition to our peers.

This twitter post has been both inspiring and eye opening for me. I can recognise that even when trying to help promote equality, that I instead fed into the inequality.

What badass women do you know of? Care to share?

Abi x

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Looking back in honesty

If you follow me on twitter, you'll have noticed I've returned to the good old medium of Youtube. It's been pretty fun for me if I'm honest, and I like that I'm finding new ways to remember what I've been up to with vlogs.

Yet, it's had a bit of an odd effect on my mental health. I avoided looking through the videos I'd uploaded and never made public(nothing risque I promise) for a long time, and I've kind of been forced to confront them.

In particular is a series of videos that I intended to string into one and be a "day in the life" style vlog on a day off from work. I look back now, and I can remember exactlyhow I felt that day, some 11, 12 months ago.
I remember feeling trapped in my own home. I keep referring to it jokingly in the video as "cabin fever". I remember feeling so lonely. I remember crying a good three, four times throughout the day. Most of all I remember how low I felt and not being comfortable talking about it. Even with my, then, boyfriend. I felt so isolated and lost. A whole day off and it felt like a waste. At the time it would have been one of many days I had like that, as I had a fair bit of annual leave to use up. It was time I was really struggling with being myself and looking back it's not hard to see why the relationship I was in ended shortly after.
Anyone watching the video will likely see someone having a quiet albeit dull day at home. To me it was so much more. The filming was an attempt to take some control of my life again.

The difference to me now is astonishing. Days off, I have plans. I'm busy. I'm exercising. I make plans and I spend time with my friends and family. Days spent in are a choice and a lazy luxury. I really am starting to feel like a different person.
Now, on the surface that should make me feel happy to see such a change. And it does, to a degree.
Yet, I found it really distressing seeing myself at that point of time. It evoked those same feelings of loneliness almost instantaneously. It's a fact that I live in fear of feeling like that. It's something I struggle with, trying to keep myself busy and motivated yet maintaining my own space and time to recharge.

I still have those feelings inside, but they've been losing their intensity and frequency the past 8 months or so. In general, I feel a lot happier with my life and the person I'm becoming. But it's hard not to mourn the person I was, whether or not that was the me I wanted to be.

I think, even though I find it really hard to talk about how I feel at those times, those kind of feelings are something I don't talk about on my blog. I try to keep it a place where I can be lighthearted and escape from them. The times when my posts become pretty scarce are often the times when I do feel low in mood, and my motivation is in my boots. It's something I still struggle with and probably always will.

So, I'm using this opportunity, while it's still fresh in my mind to be honest about it. I hope you as a reader, can appreciate just how uncomfortable I feel even typing this, in attempt to be honest to both you and myself.