"Blogging about travel and living life abroad in London, "

with the occasional rave about coffee and cool gadgets.

A Slippery Slope – Headphone Review

Posted on Jan 11, 2015 in Review | 0 comments

Now that I have my health back I’ve decided to really go for it and try to get fit too. However like a lot of people finding the time in a busy schedule for exercise was an issue for me. The solution, use my commute as a way to get fit. So I started cycling the 8 miles (13km) to and from work 3 times a week, building up to a full 5 days for when the weather improves. If you’d like to read about what I’ve learned about winter cycling safety be sure to check out this post.

My journey to work on my bike takes about the same amount of time as my train journey, it saves me money on train fare and gym membership and it means I’m not tied to a train schedule (or train delays!). As I gain strength in my legs and confidence on the road I’m enjoying the journey more and more.

However I’m a bit concerned that doing the same sport all the time might not be the best idea as it means I’m always working the same muscles which can lead to injury. To help prevent this I’ve decided to try running on the weekends. However I’m not a big fan of running, one of the reasons is the boredom factor. So when GiffGaff sent me a set of PhilipsSHQ4200/10 headphones for a tech review they were doing I thought I’d give it a go.

Philips SHQ4200/10

The Philips SHQ4200/10 headphones are sports headphones. The thing I like about them most is how feather light they are (only 546g), it’s the first thing you notice when you take them out of the box.The headphones are comfortable to wear, they have in ear buds and come with 3 different size buds. Selecting the right buds is key to a good experience. The right size ear bud gets you better sound and as my boyfriend (who has taken to borrowing the Philips headphones over his own sports headphones) has found is key to stopping sweat from getting in the way and affecting your sound quality – yuck. Which leads to another handy feature of these headphones, they are water/sweat resistant and washable.

The cord to the jack is shorter than your average headphones which I’ve seen others complain about it being too short. Neither myself or my boyfriend (who runs with his music player in hand and is 6ft tall) has found it to be a real problem. My boyfriend said another couple of inches would be better as occasionally he feels movement of the headphones. If you use an armband the shorter wire length is a bonus. There’s also a clip to you can use to secure the wire to your clothes to stop it swinging around.

Philips SHQ4200/10

Lastly an important feature of headphones, the sound. It’s good, clear with good base everything from classical music to Great Big Sea to George Ezra to Dizzie Rascle sounds great. The Philips headphones are also good at blocking out external noise so one has to be careful when running in busy areas with traffic. For the price group they are in (£19 to £25) I think they’re definitely worth the money.

I’m finding the right music does make a difference to my motivation and I enjoy running more for it (be sure to leave any music suggestions in the comments). Along with these new headphones I have my new Fitbit activity tracker which for me is a great tool for reminding me to drink enough water and showing me how much sleep I’m really getting each night (not as much as I thought!). I’m learning this fitness thing is a slippery slope indeed.

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Christmas Shopping Tour London

Posted on Dec 15, 2014 in Food, London, Technology, Travel | 0 comments

fitbitSaturday I was invited on Best LDN Walks Christmas Shopping Tour London.  I’ve enjoyed all the walking tours I’ve taken of London they get you into the nooks and crannies of the city where there’s always something interesting to see, even for those who aren’t tourists. This walk was sponsored by Curry’s who provided us with wearable tech so we could see how many calories we might burn while shopping. The tech I wore for the walk was a Fitbit. Shopping, London and gadgets, a match made in heaven.

This particular walking tour incorporates sampling the finest gin from a 16th century liqueur shop, tasting cheese from London’s oldest cheese shop, nibbling on the Queen’s favourite chocolate, stepping in the footsteps of Winston Churchill in his Cigar shop, and checking out the finest hats and fascinators in the world’s oldest hat shop and more. The walk is only £8, which is money well spent.

Our first stop was at the Charbonnel et Walker chocolate shop, the Queen’s favorite chocolate is sold apparently sold here.  Coincidentally they sell my favourite chocolate as well the Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles. Soooo good.  At £12 a box it’s a treat but one that’s affordable.

Charbonnel et Walker

The area we were touring was just a stones throw from Buckingham Palace and most of the shops we visited hold Royal Warrants which are granted to people or companies who have regularly supplied goods or services for a minimum of five consecutive years to The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh or The Prince of Wales.  You may have seen the words ‘By Appointment’ along with the Royal coat of arms displayed on products from companies who hold Royal Warrants.

Royal Warrant

Half way though our walk we stopped of in the Red Lion Pub (Crown Passage).  By this point in the tour I did a quick check on the Fitbit app and apparently had burned enough calories to earn myself a glass of mulled wine, my first of the season. This small pub has been around for 300 years and retains a lot of its old fashioned charm (no loud music here). When I walked in I had the feeling that I’d stepped into a local pub somewhere in Cornwall or Devon.  The carpet, the decor, the unobtrusive bar in the corner and the dogs all gave it a country pub feel.

The next stop was wine merchants Berry Bros. & Rudd the most fascinating shop for me.  A shop owned by the same family since

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All the Gear and No Idea – Winter Cycling Safety

Posted on Nov 30, 2014 in London | Comments Off

boardman bikeIf you had told me a year ago I would be commuting to work by bike I wouldn’t have believed it.  I had a few biking experiences in London and most of them terrified me.  However after borrowing a bike from work a few months ago to test the roads of SW London I decided to give it a go and get my own commuting bike.

It’s an 8mile/13km journey and I have chosen the worst time of year to start, when the weather turns wet, the days are short and the roads are covered in slippery leaves which will soon be replaced by ice.  I had to learn quickly how to cycle safely during the winter months which bring on very difficult cycling conditions.  The timing was perfect when LV= asked me to write a post about cycling safety. I didn’t hesitate to say yes, as a newbie cyclist the lessons learned are fresh in my mind.  Hopefully this post will help others or maybe even convince someone to give cycling a try themselves.

The Bike!

It has been many years since I’ve ridden a bike regularly and that was in Canada where they drive on the right side, so I had a steep learning curve ahead of me. Cycling safety and comfort were my top concerns when choosing my gear.  I choose a nice sturdy hybrid bike, the Boardman Hybrid Fi Bike 2014, which is also surprisingly light (until I fill up my pannier that is).

Staying Dry

The next step was finding the right jacket.  The little I knew about cycling safety at this point was that being visible is safety rule number one, day, night, winter or summer. For me this meant finding the brightest waterproof jacket I could find.  Nothing beats

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Reykjavik – Bargain Food Finds

Posted on Nov 21, 2014 in Food, Travel | 1 comment

ReykjavíkIt’s been a while since I’ve written about my travels so hopefully this will be a welcome post for everyone.  In September my long awaited trip (it had been 3 years since my last visit!)  home to Halifax, Nova Scotia arrived.  For this trip I was happy to see Iceland Air were flying to Halifax and they also had the best price (£400 round trip). I’d wanted for many years to visit Iceland and since they allow a stopover for free Nathan and I decided to make the most of it.  We planned a 2 night stopover on the way to Canada giving us just over 2 days to explore.

This post is part 1 of 3, about exploring Reykjavik where we were based and spent most of our time eating and so this post will be very food orientated.  Part 2 will be about the day long road trip and part 3 will be about the Blue Lagoon.

 

Arrival into Iceland (Keflavík International)

After a short 3 hour flight from London we arrived to a the beautiful Keflavík International airport, headed to pick up our rental car and hit the road to the capital Reykjavik.  Reykjavik about an hour drive from the airport and what a drive it was.  The landscape of Iceland can be very barren and due to the volcanic activity is black making it look much like another planet.  So we had barren landscape on one side of the car and the seaside and occasional clusters of houses huddled together on the other.  A stunning start.

 

Hot Dog!

Once we found our hotel (Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel ) and checked in we headed over to the Baejarins Beztu Pylsur hotdog stand we’d read so much about. We were glad it was so close to the hotel (across the road) because we were pretty hungry.  The hotdogs were

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Coding Boot Camp Survival Guide Part 3 – Do They Work?

Posted on Nov 16, 2014 in Technology | Comments Off

Part 3

The Learning Hasn’t finished!

 

internet17Being part of the tech world means things are constantly changing, embrace it.  You will be constantly learning new things and evolving how you code.  There are things I was taught that I now have my own opinions on due to my real world experiences and I’m adapting my style according to what I find works for me.

Find a mentor.  It’s very helpful to have someone (or a few people) with more experience than you (even if they are only slightly further ahead of you) with whom you can speak to regularly to bounce ideas off of and ask for advice.  It’s a good way to get a point of view different from that of those you work with everyday.

Another great thing to do is mentor someone else.  The best way to solidify what you know is to teach it to someone else.  You may think you don’t know enough but after your coding boot camp you will be surprised. I volunteered at a Rails Girls event and it was a great boost to my confidence to realize how far I had come in 3 months. Also teaching at this early stage in your coding career means you can remember being in their shoes and you are more likely to use language they understand.

 

Now What?

Hopefully you’ve been thinking about what you want to do after you finish.  I felt when I was finished my coding boot camp I wasn’t ready for employment. I lacked confidence and didn’t feel I knew enough to be of value.  I spent a month after my code boot camp looking at job postings, internships and other options to see what was out there and what the process was all about.  I applied for jobs, did code tests, took interviews, went to meetups and job fairs.  Getting to know the industry was also important to me and so I took every opportunity to get out there and be part of it.  I also spent this time continuing to practice and learn new code skills.work

At the end of this month I felt an internship was the right place for me to gain some real world experience. I then focused on internship postings and found a placement with a small startup.

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