The Rise of Being Connected 24/7*

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Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

These days it feels pretty much like I’m never not connected to the internet. The only time in recent memory was during the week I spent in the North West Highlands where I had almost seven days entirely free from my laptop and constant influx of emails. This really got me thinking about how much I rely on the internet these days for just about everything- from doing my day job to working at home- and with thanks to internet providers like TalkTalk Business anyone who wants to be their own boss, can be.

During that week I was away it really hit home to me just how dependant I am on having a constant connection, 24/7. After the initial adjustment period I really started to enjoy having a break and being forced to focus on other things- books were read, board games were played and the times where I did manage to grab a spot of Wifi were spent generally being more productive than when I have constant access to the internet.

That being said, it was frustrating too. Being on holiday could have been the perfect opportunity to sit down and catch up on getting some blog content written, and being able to stream music or use Netflix would have been really handy, and I’ll admit, it came as a bit of a shock to actually stumble across an area of the country that hadn’t yet manage to conquer connectivity.

A break from the online world was on the whole a refreshing thing and I do feel like I had more of a relaxing time than had I been able to update social media, keep connected with friends and family or write blog posts. It did however make me eternally grateful for the advances in technology meaning that I can go away to different places and still be able to meet blogging deadlines, respond to urgent work emails and keep updated with friends and family.

In this day and age I feel this is a bit of a divisive subject, even within my own head. I don’t like that feeling of dependance on modern technology- it feels a bit defeatist and almost a bit…sad? But on the flip side, being out of contact with my nearest and dearest (no internet and no phone signal meant no texts to my family, no face time with the cat and no catching up on the latest happenings within my friendship group).

How do you feel about being constantly connected? Do you feel like the benefits outweigh the somewhat sad fact that these days you can access a whole world of information all of the time and do work wherever in the world you might be? As you’ve gathered, I’m torn. It’s so hard to switch off when you know you’re constantly online and you feel like you might be missing out- I’ll pick up a book then get distracted by yet another notification and not return to my page for hours, or even days.

My personal solution, I think, especially over the festive period where family time should take precedence is to try and have a day or two where I do switch off, flip off the WiFi, ignore my emails and crack out the board games.

I’d love to know where other people stand on this- I feel like it’s a more and more relevant topic and technology advances, and I might starting to show my age here, but I do kind of miss the good old days whilst appreciating what being constantly connected has helped me to achieve.

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Compact System Camera Wish List (and advice wanted!)*

With a big birthday approaching I’ve been given the task of coming up with what I would like as my “big” gift. I suppose it’s more traditional to ask for a keepsake gift such as a piece of jewellery or designer accessory but I’m not in need of either of these things, nor is there anything realistic that I have my eye on. So I’ve gone down the practical route and I’m putting serious consideration in to asking for a Compact System Camera as an upgrade and accompaniment to my current Canon DSLR- and this, dear readers is where you come in. I don’t have a particularly extensive camera knowledge so I’ve drawn up a short list and I’m hoping that from this I can get some advice on which one to pick…

(all images from John Lewis)

I’ve done a bit of reading around but to some extent the information goes over my head. What I really need is to know what cameras you guys are loving! Based on a bit of blog and social media stalking I know that the Olympus PEN is popular (and it certainly looks the prettiest) but am I better off sticking to Canon which is a brand I know and get on with? Or branch out in to new territory completely and try a brand I’ve never had a camera from such as the Lumix DMC-GX80 Best Compact Camera Panasonic? I’ve also thrown models from Fujifilm and Sony in to the mix which are both brands I have little experience with…I’m not especially loyal to any one brand (unless Apple bought out compact system cameras in which case I might be) but price is a consideration although if one of the pricier models gets the best votes I would be more than happy to add some of my own savings towards it.

Essentially this post is a plea for help! You have until April to help me make up my mind- and I will of course report back on the end result!

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Have an Appy Valentines Day

For those who choose to celebrate Valentines Day there is no denying that it can get expensive. Thankfully with the aid of our trust smartphones and the wide variety of apps available there are some easy ways to cut down on the costs- be it bagging a discount on a fancy meal or saving on the taxi home, it all adds up. Together with Vodafone I’m bringing you some of the best money saving apps on the market meaning that you can enjoy a date night without breaking the bank.

You may also remember that a while back I tested out the Vodafone brand Smart First 7 which can also save you a pretty penny. The Vodafone Smart prime 7 is a stylish, super-slim and easy-to-use smartphone that’s full of top-notch features for a ground-breaking price of just £16 per month or £70 Pay as you go.

On the apps and the first one is Vouchercloud (free on Android and iOS). This is an app I use regularly and you can get the best savings and offers available at your favourite restaurants straight to your phone. Simply search for the best savings available on Valentine’s Day in your area and you’ll be sent a discount voucher you can use at a number of nearby restaurants.

There’s also a huge range of online shopping vouchers and codes so you can impress your date with a gift too!

Next up we have TablePouncer (free on Android and iOS) which is perfect for those of you who are last minute with your plans. TablePouncer lets you book last-minute tables at top local restaurants – with savings of up to 65%. You can instantly book a table in just a few easy steps- simply search for restaurants offering deals in the area.

All the deals featured on the app are exclusive to TablePouncer so you won’t find them anywhere else.

Hotel Tonight (free on Android and iOS) is perfect if you’re whisking your date away this Valentines Day as with Hotel Tonight you can book last-minute hotel rooms in just 10 seconds – with 3 taps and a swipe the room is yours – perfect if you’re feeling spontaneous.

With Hotel Tonight you can make mid-week bookings and book longer staycations in locations all over the country – and every hotel is screened by the Hotel Tonight team beforehand to make sure you get the very best for your money.

Music lovers can use Dice (free on Android and iOS) to book tickets to the best gigs and theatre shows in town. Find tickets for performances from world famous artists such as Adele, Taylor Swift and Disclosure as well as up and coming artists such as Skott, The Amazons and Rex Orange County.

Dice only lists the very best in live music and theatre performances – all are handpicked by a research team with too many late nights on their CVs!

Last but not least we have Minicabit (free on Android and iOS). This app will get you the best taxi fares anywhere in the UK. It’s simple and afforable so you can ditch the tube, train or bus.

With Minicabit you can book anything from an airport transfer – if you’re off on a mini break – to a lift home in more than 40 cities across the UK. You’ll also find the best local mini-cabbies around so you can enjoy the benefits of their local knowledge – from short cuts to the congested areas to avoid.

Let me know if you end up using any of these apps and what you thought of them. Also if you have any money saving favourites that I’ve missed in this post then feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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Disclosure: This is not a sponsored or paid for post. I just thought with Valentines Day looming that I’d share some of my favourite ways to save a few pennies in collaboration with Vodafone.

My Top Food & Lifestyle Apps with the Vodafone Smart First 7

It’s hard to imagine now a life without smartphones, I can still remember getting my first ever mobile phone at the age of 13 and how excited I was thinking I was the height of sophistication and yet it was so very basic that I wonder what purpose it ever served, even text messages were limited in character! These days, as much as I hate to admit it I would struggle to keep everything together without my trust iPhone in hand and it’s true what they say- there really is an “app for that”, even things you never thought you could need an app for!

I was recently contacted by Vodafone about their super affordable smartphone- the Vodafone Smart First 7 which costs a mere £20 on pay as you go (which costs £15 per month so much cheaper than your standard contract). They offered me the loan of the device as a chance to explore the wide range of food and lifestyle apps available on the Google Play Store. Now I’m usually an out and out Apple girl but I was intrigued by the affordability of this model and also I was curious to see how the two rival app stores could compare.

So before I get on to the apps I’m loving a quick word on the phone itself- I’m genuinely amazed at the price of this. Whilst I might not be about to rush out and replace my iPhone with it I was impressed with how sleek it looks and how fast it runs. It doesn’t have a huge amount of memory (4gb internal but you can expand this with a memory card) but it has all of the features you’d expect from a smartphone and is very easy to use, making it perfect for anyone knew to the mobile technology world or if you’re on a budget but still want access to the benefits a smartphone can offer. Hats off to Vodafone for creating something so affordable that actually works!
I had a good play around on the google play app store which itself is user friendly and provides easy downloads. I’ve selected a few of my favourite food and lifestyle apps as despite not making any resolutions I do want to start off 2017 with good intentions!
The Headspace app is actually one I’ve been using for a while having had it recommended by a variety of health care professionals as well as friends. Initially it is free, you get a 30 day trial before needing to subscribe and in my opinion it’s worth it. The app uses proven meditation and mindfulness techniques to help you train your mind and gain some inner peace, all in 10 minutes a day to begin with. Well worth a download if you’re finding yourself feeling frazzled and stressed- I also find it great for managing anxiety.
Smart Recipes is a free app produced by the NHS to encourage smart food choices by providing family friendly easy to follow healthy recipes. It has over 160 calorie counted meal choices and helps you plan, organise and mix up your meals without spending a fortune.
Another free app I’ve been using for a while is Clue- Period Tracker and I find it invaluable. Since coming off of my pill my cycle has been irregular to say the least and I find inputting each period really does help me keep track not only of when my period is likely to arrive but also where I am in my cycle and when I am most likely to experience PMS symptoms (which is handy to warn other people to avoid me as I get majorly grumpy!). If you’re looking to start a family you can also use the app to track your most fertile days. I can’t recommend this app enough!
The Love Food Hate Waste is another easy to follow recipe app that aims to help you reduce the amount of food waste you generate (and thus save you up to £200 per year!) I’m making a huge effort at the moment to reduce how much food I waste and I really like the selection of recipes provided on this app as well as the ability to meal plan, create a shopping list and get help gauging portions which is something I really struggle with. Again this is a free app and one I use regularly.
Finally another mindfulness based app, Calm. Perfect for beginners the app offers guided meditation sessions ranging from 3 minutes long to 25 minutes. It covers a wide range of topics from anxiety through to gratitude with various programmes and exercises available.
All of these apps are also available on the Apple app store and I’ve been using them regularly on my iPhone- having had the chance to properly explore them I now wonder what took me so long!

I’d love to know what your favourite apps are, covering any topics…leave them in the comments below and let me know if you try out any of my suggestions.

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Meet the Mighty Buds

Following on from my blog post the other week featuring the awesome Mighty Purse I now bring to you the Mighty Buds- yet another brilliant idea from the people at wowthem.com and yet another idea to file away for Christmas shopping (yeah, I’m on a roll it would seem…)
The Mighty Buds are an innovative product that uses electroluminescence technology to cascade light up and down a pair of super bright and bold headphones so music loves don’t just hear the beat, they can see it too! I seriously rate these as a pretty good headphone, and thanks to the customisable fit cushion tips they are also really comfortable to wear (which is saying something when you have an ear full of piercings) and despite being a bit of a novelty item they don’t compromise on sound quality.
At £29.99 these make for a perfectly packaged and super snazzy gift for the music lovers in your life. Available in three eye catching colours- orange, blue and green there is something for every one and every listening device. My orange pair (c/o) have been plugged non-stop in to my iPhone, brightening up rush hour bus journeys to see Ben no end. If you don’t fancy being the centre of attention you can easily switch the light effect off and just enjoy the high quality sound and you can also seamlessly switch between listening to music and taking a call.
When it comes to present buying this year I will be heading straight to wowthem for something slightly off the wall. A Mighty Purse is on my personal wish list and I have spied a few bits and pieces I’d like to pick up for other people too.
What’s on your list to Santa this year? What are you listening too right now? I’m alternating between a bit of Ryan Adams for some good old American rock ‘n roll as well as The Unthanks for a more haunting, folky vibe.

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