So You Want to Try Parkrun?

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If relentless endorsements of my favourite Saturday morning event have finally worn you down and you’re considering joining the lovely Parkrun community, at the request of my good friend Louise, I bring you every piece of advice that my months of weekly runs have taught me. From what you’ll need to bring along, to what you should expect, allow me to be your Obi Wan…

All You Need Is…

YOUR BARCODE. When you sign up for Parkrun on the website, you’ll get your own personal barcode to print off. Print it. Take it. You’re all set. This is the only absolute necessity.

I choose to also run with my Fitbit, my iPod (in an oh-so-chic bum bag) and a water bottle. England Athletics have become much tighter on headphone restrictions at road races so bear this in mind when entering other events, but at my time of writing you are still allowed headphones at Parkrun.

Start Line Protocol

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Poole Parkrun start line

Because Parkrun events attract a lot of newbies, the start lines can be a little more chaotic than your typical road race owing to the lower level of experience.

For those less versed in start line protocol, the front of the pack will likely be your sub-18 minute runners. Chances are, if it’s your first time, you’ll be closer to the back. At my Parkrun, there are often over 600 runners, and if a 35-minute runner plonked themselves in with the frontrunners, they would get swallowed as soon as the whistle went – or they’d go off too fast in a misguided attempt to keep up. That’s not fun for you or the runners attempting to get past you. But you do also want to avoid going too far back as it can then be hard to get through the crowd. It’s about figuring out your sweet spot. Basically, don’t be afraid to assert yourself but also be considerate to other runners. If you aren’t sure where you should be, talk to the people around you and ask about their goal times – if it matches up to yours, you’re probably in the right place.

#goals

Set goals. Go out with an agenda and push to achieve whatever goal you have set yourself – whether that be long-term or short-term. It will give you a focus. And when you succeed, it feels damn good. If you’re starting from a low level of fitness, the Couch to 5k app might be the perfect way to build up to a Parkrun. You can then set out with the goal of running the whole route without stopping, and then perhaps attempt to better your own Personal Best each week.

Reward yourself with PBPs. My friend Jen introduced me to the concept of Personal Best Presents. The goals we just talked about? Once you achieve ‘em, treat yo self ™. You’ll know you’re hooked when your PBPs end up being new running gloves or a high vis jacket. Reward systems work (I’m pretty sure Supernanny will back me up here), from big treats for major breakthroughs to celebrating sticking to your training plan with a favourite meal. After a few 5ks, you will start craving the achievement of a Personal Best time – and what do Personal Bests mean? Presents!

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10 More Websites for Creative Gift-Giving

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Warning: an onslaught of hyperlinks ahead.

Looking for some gift-giving inspiration? Look no further. My original post full of gift-giving tips seemed to go down a treat so I thought I’d follow it up with another. Since that post, I’ve been discovering plenty more websites filled with fun gift ideas that will leave your nearest and dearest in no doubt of your love for them. Old faves like Society6, Red Bubble and Etsy still stand, but allow me to introduce you to some new gems…

1. Living in La La Land (UK based)

This is my current obsession, with free UK shipping and very reasonable prices all around. I hope the collection continues to expand but, so far, their products are so bizarrely diverse in terms of the corners of pop culture to which they choose to venture. One minute you’re looking at a Breaking Bad chopping board, the next you’re like, “Do I need a notebook covered with the sassy emoji?” and eventually you conclude that it is the Jessica Fletcher “Don’t Mess With Jess” notebook that you needed all along. (You know. From Murder, She Wrote.) It’s a wild ride. With their popcult pencils collections, you also have the option to have your own message printed on pencils, should you so wish.

Fandoms encountered thus far during my adventures in La La Land include: Game of Thrones, Twin Peaks, The X Files, The Office, Mean Girls, School of Rock, Harry Potter, Murder She Wrote (still weird), Pitch Perfect, Parks and Recreation, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Ryan Gosling (with pizza), Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Friends and many, many more.

Pros: Free shipping to the UK! (with no minimum spend; arrives nice and fast, too)

Cons: International shipping costs. Certain random items within the clothes section seem disproportionately more pricey, but that doesn’t take anything away from the many, many bargains the site boasts.

2. Eclectic Eccentricity (UK based)

I’m in love. Seriously. This might be The One. It’s like a sea of radiant, glittering beauty that I just want to swim in forever. If you know anybody with a predilection for all things spacey (of the stars and planets variety, not Kevin) – and isn’t everybody just a little bit mystified by the stars? – this is a wonderland for you. And, should you choose not to shoot off into the stars, you can always just float through the sky. I want to gush about all that this site has to offer because some of these pieces are transcendent and magical, with titles like, “Heading in the Right Direction” and “Spread Your Wings” (a feather necklace, because of course). Eclectic Eccentricity is a danger to me because not only is it filled with gems, but the names make me want to buy everything as a supportive gesture to all my friends who are heading in the right direction or spreading their wings. If you visit this site without a particular purpose, you will soon find yourself thinking of all kinds of reasons to buy everything. I warn you of that.

Pros: All things are bright and beautiful. Also, based in Norwich. As so many of the best things are.

Cons: You may hurt your finances due to an inability to restrain yourself. Not cheap, but prices are more than reasonable. Quick dispatch for orders and delivery only minimally more for international orders.

3. Ashley Bridget (US based)

While a little pricier than La La Land, the quality of Ashley Bridget’s collection reflects that (similarly to Eclectic Eccentricity). This is a great site if you’re looking for a special piece of jewellery and, right now, you’re likely to find some bargains thanks to the 50% off summer sale (applies to all items with the discount code: SUMMER). I discovered Ashley Bridget when looking for a gift for my Harry Potter fan of a friend and was very excited to find a wealth of bracelets, necklaces, etc. that would both tap into my friend’s HP love but would also be beautiful accessories. Currently, they have collections and pieces inspired by Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Frozen, Lord of the Rings and tennis, as well as more general interests.

Recs: The Magic Collection, The Expression Collection.

Pros: Ships internationally.

Cons: A little pricier, $50 minimum spend for free shipping (though this also applies internationally). Has recently added a Grey collection. Thank you for respecting my privacy at this difficult time.

4. Adolescent Clothing (UK based)

This site is filled with fun t-shirt, beanie and sweatshirt designs with slogans such as “You’re freaking meowt.”,  “Girls > Boys” and “Bae-con“. The collection is relatively small at the moment, but there are bargains to be found amongst what is currently available. If your bestie has a penchant for pizza or is on her way to crazy cat lady status, you might just be in luck. Definitely worth a browse!

Pros: Free shipping to the UK.

Cons: The sizing is limited to small, medium and large and I canny find a size guide!

5. Emily McDowell Studio (US based)

How to adequately articulate my love for the Emily McDowell designs that so often express my inner most feelings better than I ever can? This card just about does it. The site has a collection of cards, mugs, dish towels, prints, bags, postcards, notepads, gift tags, stickers and temporary tattoos with designs that are all both aesthetically delightful and amusingly frank. I feel like everyone should have a “basically just waiting to go home and take off my pants” work mug, or a “short, encouraging phrase” tote bag. The specialty of Emily McDowell Studio, though, is the card selection. The messages tap into the reality of what it is to be a human in 2015. While the birthday cards, the valentines and the wedding cards are all uniquely special, there are a whole host of designs for the in-betweens: a card for someone who you’ve lost touch with, a card for a friend with cancer, a divorce card, a card for your honourary mother, one for your platonic soulmate, the awkward dating card “for when you’re kind of together but it’s not a big deal”.

Pros: The selection of cards gives you plenty to choose from; really good value price-wise!

Cons: Variety of items like bags and mugs is limited. International shipping might be a bit of a faff and delivery is not free. I recently ordered three cards to the UK and the shipping came out at just under $10, but per card that’s not too bad and the actual items themselves are priced pretty fairly.

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OMBRE

Photo 18-02-2014 18 20 29Oh, ombre. The best trend that no one’s entirely sure how to pronounce.

A friend just assured me that “an entry about your transformation into the fourth Haim sister will be a thrilling read” so I thought I would post about my third ombre. It was definitely the most successful attempt yet and I think we’ve mastered it, folks. Before I continue, let me apologise for the weird pictures I include – nothing can be done about my not-so-photogenic awkwardness. C’est la vie.

This is my straight-up before and after:

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Jerome-Russell-bblonde-highlighting-kitI used Jerome Russell’s Bblonde Highlight Kit. If you have trouble remembering it, it’s the one with the Natalie Dormer lookalike on the front. It’s really good value in Boots for about a fiver (sorry, can’t find it online!). I chose it because a lot of the ombre blogs and tutorials I’d read beforehand had used this one, and I really like it because it picks up on the natural highlights in your hair so that the blonde is not just an unnatural block colour. For ombre, I want it to look as natural as possible with a gentle fade to blonde.

Both times previously, I was very eager to see the results and took out the dye after only about twenty minutes. Both of those times young, naive Jess ended up reapplying for a second go to get a bolder effect for a further twenty minutes. This time, I was a little more strategic about it.

Clairey, my trustee hair-dyer and commander-in-chief, first applied about half the dye mixture/ blue stuff up to about halfway down my hair – about chin level – and we waited half an hour for it to take effect. I used a Haim playlist to kill the time, which is a very important step that you should not miss under any circumstances. We washed out the dye and used the shampoo and condish that they give you in the pack, and it looked a little like this after drying:

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I was a little disappointed because it looked slightly lighter but it had to catch the light for any real effect to show up. I suggested that the second dye should just be about an inch or two up so that I could have much blonder ends. Claire also made sure to put a little dye onto the ends of my growing-out fringe too, which was a nice touch. I left this on for about 45-50 minutes. AND HOT DAMN IT WORKED SO MUCH BETTER. I also gave my hair a deep condition after because gotta look after my mane.

It came out pretty good in the end:20140218_180615 copy

Thanks to Claire for helping with the blondifying. I’m very happy with how my hair looks now! I plan to do a few more deep conditions over the next week or two, just so that the dye doesn’t damage my hair too much.

Why I’m Glad I Didn’t Go To Hogwarts

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Have a biscuit.

Listen, I know what you’re thinking but hear me out. At this point, I’ve seen so many “when will my Hogwarts acceptance letter arrive” statuses that the total word count would probably exceed Facebook’s terms and conditions. And I get it. You want to hang with McGonogall, you want a little taste of that Butterbeer and to escape the mundane in favour of the magical. However, I recently re-read one of the books and it occurred to me… I don’t think anyone’s really thought this through properly.

  1.  Terrorism. That school is a bigger terrorist target than the Houses of Parliament. I mean, they should probably name a condiment after it. It’s crazy. Yes, there’s a magical shield protecting the school but, ultimately, how much use is that in seventh year? I feel like adolescence is traumatic enough without having to worry about Death Eaters!
  2. Student counselling. In re-reading the fifth novel, it occurred to me that the school did Cho Chang a major disservice in the lack of available counselling. The poor girl is in her fifth year and has to deal with the death of her boyfriend (perhaps someone should tell her that he came back as a vampire). She spends the whole book crying and no one seems to care. Also, in first year, Harry has to adjust from living in a cupboard under the stairs to suddenly being the second most famous wizard and the target of a scary nose-less monster. Perhaps he’d want to talk that through with a trained professional, no? Maybe if Tom Riddle had been able to talk to someone about his troubles, maybe get some CBT, maaaaybe the whole sorry business wouldn’t have happened. Just sayin’.
  3. The Hogwarts Houses. Do you really want your life trajectory to be determined by a smug talking hat? If dude yells, “Slytherin!” I think you have every right to just respond with, “Bitch, you don’t know my life!” Why do they even have Slytherin? It feels like 11 years old is a little young to effectively call out a quarter of the school year as utter scum, no? And it’s just like, oh, spoiler alert: at the last minute Gryffindor win because Harry and co. defeated Voldemort… again.
  4. English, Maths and Science are pretty important subjects. I hate to be a total nerd here but I think everyone can recognise the notable difference in their skills in all three subjects between the ages of 11 and 18, can’t they? I dread to think what my life would look like if I still had just the literacy skills I acquired in primary school. I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to use a semi-colon. Sure, Potions might replicate Chemistry and History of Magic might replicate History and Ancient Runes might replicate Modern Languages, but they need a little literacy on that curriculum. This school cannot be Ofsted approved. I’m surprised Hermione let this slide.
  5. Technology is basically more advanced than magic at this point. Think about it. Who wants owls when you could send someone a message instantaneously over email? And who needs a Marauders Map when everyone’s phones have GPS? Those moving portraits? Helloooo, gifs! Remember when Harry and Sirius had to stick their heads into fireplaces to communicate? Well, now we have Skype. And no one has ever needed a mobile phone more than Harry Potter: “Hey Harry, it’s Harry. Hang in there. I love you. Bye.” I feel like technology has rendered the magical world rather redundant. I’m not saying it lessens the enjoyment of a rewatch but if the films had been delayed and were being released now, wouldn’t you wonder why Harry didn’t get a laptop, or a phone? I feel like it wouldn’t feel at all current. While those things existed when Harry Potter was released, they’ve since become ubiquitous. Twitter would have really helped the DA in Deathly Hallows because, hello, coded tweets for the resistance. Also, can you imagine Voldemort’s smack talk tweets…

Untitled-1Are you sure you want to go to Hogwarts, folks? I mean, this is a big decision and I just want you to think this through. You can take your special, bespoke wand made of unicorn tears and shamrocks but you’ll have to leave that Macbook with your Muggle parents. Yes, that’s right. And your smartphone!

I hope that Butterbeer is worth it.

Things To Do For Christmas

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Holidays are coming. Holidays are coming. Holidays are coming…

  1. Wear as many festive jumpers as you possibly can. I’m talking fairisle, reindeers, snowmen, snowflakes. This is one the time of year when garish is good. Capitalise on that. Keep warm and carry on.
  2. For all those people who hate festive jumpers, buy them one for Christmas. If they want to Scrooge it up, throw some tinsel around their necks and blast Michael Buble’s Christmas album at them. No time for grumps. You don’t want to be friends with someone who won’t go festive.
  3. Instagram every fucking Starbucks you buy in December. Not that you needed my encouragement. Go on, you bunch of sheep. Seriously, I had so many pictures of their festive cup when they brought it back that it was my entire Instagram timeline. I almost forgot the true purpose of Instagram: pictures of sunsets.
  4. WRITE CARDS PROPERLY. Don’t half-ass Christmas. This holiday season is a time for whole-assing. If you’re like me and you have under 30ish cards to write, write a damn card. I’m not talking about “Hi Beyonce, Merry Christmas, Love Jess xoxo”. Write some feelings down. Tell people they’re great (they really like it). Tell people you miss them. Tell people the same joke you’ve been telling when you see them every single day (no, but Heather, what have you done today to make you feel proud? …Sorry Heather). I think cards can mean a lot and how often do you write to someone by hand? Take this opportunity.
  5. Rest your writing hand, because of all the carpal tunnel you got from following suggestion #4, by using your other hand to change the channel from Christmas special to Christmas special. There’s so much bloomin’ telly on the box in December, your hands will be equally tired by the grueling Christmas schedule by C-Day dinner.
  6. Avoid buying anything bath-related items for people you don’t really know that well but still have to buy a gift for. They’ve never used the set of bath salts you got them in 2006, nor the bath bomb of ’08, nor the body lotion of 2010. They use the products that they buy for themselves every week at Tesco. At least if it’s chocolate, they’ll actually get eaten. But do try to be creative and fun in your gifting. It always shows. Also, getting smellies always reads as, “I know I don’t see you that often but when I do, you bloody stink.”
  7. Deck the halls with tacky baubles, tra-la-la-la-laa la-la-la-la. In all seriousness, I do expect 3,000 fairy lights and a giant inflatable Santa to decorate the front of your house. Don’t let me down. If people aren’t confusing your home for Santa’s grotto, you haven’t tried hard enough.
  8. Put your gifts ON the tree. Cliff said so.
  9. Leave a mince pie out for Santa (with Rudolph’s carrot). Dude’s come a long way to give you your presents. It’s the least you could do.
  10. Show gratitude. Both when you get that perfect present and when someone’s missed the mark (but tried!). If you, like me, get to sit around the tree with family opening presents before a three course festive feast, you’ve got nothing to complain about. Let those thank yous spill out faster than the mulled wine.

Merry Christmas! And to all those who don’t celebrate Christmas… Happy Holidays!

The 10 Best Websites for Creative Gift-Giving

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I’m obsessed with gifts! And while I might be a materialistic brat from time to time, in this case I’m referring to the giving  of ’em (a halo appears). A lot of my friends have fangirl indulgences, so I have that advantage, but it’s important to me that I give presents that are thoughtful and personal. I thought I’d share a few of the websites that I use when it comes to the big search, before the lead-up to Christmas properly kicks in.

And yes, I have already purchased present number one. The dam broke.

1. Etsy

We’ll get this one out of the way first. Etsy is my most-used website when it comes to gift-giving. Not only does it have an incredible range of unique, handmade products, but they are made to a really high standard. Whether it’s for my parents’ silver wedding anniversary, a nerdy birthday gift or a yearning for some really exceptional typography design, Etsy never lets me down. It’s also a really easy-to-search site and you can set it to only show items that ship to the UK. Take it from me, you shouldn’t go getting attached to things you can’t have.

Rec: PopArtPress (use the coupon code SAVETWO to get $2 off!)

Pros: Biggest range and best quality.

Cons: US-based so shipping can often be a little startling. Always look into shipping when purchasing – often ‘buy extra item’ deals can help. Also: you may fall into a never-ending search spiral, not unlike when you’re “just going to watch ONE Youtube clip”. Sure, sure.

2. Folksy

Folksy is kind of the UK equivalent to Etsy. While its range is somewhat more limited, and if you’re looking for nerdy gifts (as I so often am) it’s not quite so good, Folksy shipping prices are low for UK residents and there’s still a really nice range of goodies. One of my favourite stores on Folksy, which I first found at a market, is ‘Framedup’. They sell lego versions of a number of iconic film and TV characters in frames. If that does not sound excellent to you then maybe we can’t be friends. A LEGO WOODY AND BUZZ. THAT IS FRIENDSHIP, OKAY.

Rec: Framedup.

Pros: Low-price shipping.

Cons: Limited choice, when compared to Etsy.

 3. YourDesign.co.uk

This is a photo-printing website, where you can personalise items including mugs, hoodies, shirts, phone cases, bags and more. I’ve only got experience buying a few of their products, but it’s the most reasonable price/quality ratio that I’ve found. This is where I would recommend you look if you want to create personalised items for friends.

Similar: Zazzle, Vistaprint, Printster, Snapfish.

Pros: Reasonable prices, decent quality, nice selection of personalisation options.

Cons: You’ll get a higher quality product at VistaPrint, but the prices there become unreasonable when postage and packaging is added in.

 4. Society6

Society 6 is great. They have free shipping deals about once a month, and the designs are works of art. A lot of the presents I buy are nerdy gifts, and Society6 is a great place for that – Firefly, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, The West Wing, The Office. It’s fun to give my friends presents that are covered in pop culture references relevant to their interests. Society6 is perfect for all of that, but it also has more abstract designs if you just want to give someone a distinctive print – for t-shirts, vests, iPhone covers, wall art, tote bags etc.

Pros: Shipping to the UK isn’t too bad, but wait until they have free shipping deals if you can. They’re relatively frequent.

Cons: It doesn’t have a perfect search system. I’m pretty sure it only picks up title words. Keywords, people. Tags? Even instagram has hashtags. Step it up!

 5. Red Bubble

This is a more comprehensive collection than any other print t-shirt design site online. It’s not ridiculously pricey, but it works out a little more than Society6. As well as t-shirts, you can also get stickers, iPhone cases, posters, cards and hoodies. The designs on this website are really impressive, and make a lot of official merchandise look amateur. Again, this is best-suited to nerdy gifting. Whether you want a Pikachu Potter, Joss jokes or just have a penchant for all things Parks, there’s a wide range of cool designs for all.

Pros: I GET LOST IN ALL THE DESIGNS.

Cons: I GET LOST IN ALL THE DESIGNS. So much choice has become too much choice.

 6. Wicked Clothes

The designs are simple but the slogans are gr9. I really love this website. I’m lucky enough to have lovely friends who do lovely things which include buying me lovely sweatshirts from WickedClothes, so I review this particular site as a gift receiver, not giver. Definitely check out the collection though, if not just to admire the pretty.

Pros: Great quality and fun, cool designs. I mean, cool to me. Probably not cool by the most traditional definition.

Cons: Pricey.

 7. Black Milk

They sell Harry Potter leggings. LEGGINGS. They sell Harry Potter swimming cozzies. SWIMMING COZZIES. Guys. I’m not even into Harry Potter enough to buy any of their Hogwarts collection, but damn it’s cool. This website is also damn pricey, but the designs are not just fangirl fine – they’re fashionable. You have to have far more swagger than I will ever have to carry a lot of them off, but if I ever spot a person in a Marauders Map dress, they get an auto high-five.

Pros: The designs are fashionable????

Cons: You still probably aren’t cool enough to pull them off, and you’ve paid over £50+ for the pleasure. Nevertheless, if I am ever wealthy enough, everyone goes home with a shooter of their Hogwarts house that Christmas.

 8. Firebox

Firebox has a real variety of gift ideas, and is at the very least a good start to the brainstorm. I also think this is one of the better sources of inspiration for bloke presents. I take great pleasure in hunting for gifts for my female friends (especially the fangirls), but the men in my life are a mystery come Christmas. Check out the Top 50 as a place to start. Also: if you don’t have a friend who would rock those unicorn slippers, get new friends.

Pros: Ideas for everyone, and some that are out of left field.

Cons: Not the widest selection ever, and some stuff is expensive so keep an eye on the prices while you’re looking.

 9. Lovely Jojos

This is a really small website, that I found after seeing them at a market stall. A friend and I fell in love with their ‘We Love You London’ print, which is simply magnificent. We had the brilliant opportunity to examine all the detail of it in person. Had I the money, I’d have hastily snapped it up for said friend. There are some other really nice items available, and if you’re looking for something unique for a friend it might be a nice place to start. Their card designs are priced at £2.75.

Pros: Unique and fun designs! It’s nice to know that no one will be giving the same gift as you.

Cons: HELP ME I’M POOR.

 10. Custom Made

They have a really pretty website to go with their really pretty designs. The necklaces are where it’s at. They’re as cute as anything you’ll find on Etsy, and UK-based. A particular favourite of mine is the lightning bolt, but everything that they sell has a real charm about it.

Pros: If you have a friend obsessed with owls (and doesn’t everybody?) then this is your moment.

Cons: Only a limited range of products.

If you have any similar great gifting websites or have any further tips on the subject, then leave a comment because I’m always on the lookout for more. Thank you, and happy shopping! Sorry for being that person, bringing up Christmas in September. It’s just really cold in my house. I’m wearing fleece!

Things To Do For Summer

It’s like an oven outside! I’m a little bit concerned that by this time tomorrow, I will no longer have the molecular structure of a human. So, before I turn into a puddle, I thought I’d share with you some pro tips on surviving the summer! Hey, I made it till now.

Use with caution.

        1. Sweat profusely. 

Remember: you wanted this.

2.     Briefly take up tennis, after being inspired by Wimbledon.

 This is your consolation prize in the place of the Olympics. Yes, in 2012, we were inspired to do all kinds of sport. Remember that one cycling trip where you stayed on the pavement the whole way? Or when you played badminton for five straight hours only to later discover that mosquitoes had been confusing you for lunch the entire time? You must remember the trip to the pool! You had to leave after realising you’d only shaved one leg because of that distracting daydream you’d had in the shower. It was the daydream about little people working the cogs of Ryan Lochte’s mind.

 …Or was that all just me?

 Well, anyway, this year your options are tennis or football. Football is so not fetch, you guys, so you have to take up tennis. You have no choice. If you suck at tennis, try slow-motion tennis with wings (badminton).

(It’s okay, you can give up in a couple of days. You tried.)

 3.     Ice, ice everything.

For the next few weeks (HEAT WAVE), nothing will taste good unless it has been frozen, or at the very least refrigerated. To be honest, food won’t taste good at all. But at least it will taste cold. As you throw your Quavers into the bottom shelf of your freezer, between the canned tuna and the lettuce, excitably yell: “EASY FREEZY.” It just adds a little panache to proceedings.

 By the way, while food suddenly becomes less than interesting, cold drinks will seriously spice up your life. Ice them to within an inch of their lives and all will be well. Even if it’s a revolting drink, it will taste of ice. Ice is the only flavour you need. You want it so frozen that if you hit someone over the head with it, it would knock ‘em out (gangsta). Disclaimer: do not try this.

 4.     Write on trees.

Take this time to put away the technology. The laptops are overheating before you’ve even got to the dramatic turning on music (attention-seeking much). It’s time to get out a notepad and write original thoughts down, while sipping on Pimms and lounging on a chaise longue. Stay classy.

 Careful though, there’s a wind. Don’t let all that philosophical insight and creative mindpower blow away. Oh. Too late.

5.     Buy deodorant. A good one. Use it.

God, I can smell you from here.

 6.     Instagram the sky.

It’s okay. You can do this as many times per day as you want. Everybody else is. As much as I’m yet to actually be surprised by the content of all summery scenic images ever uploaded, if there is any shady alien shit going on up there, I reckon one of those Instagrammers will be on it like a car bonnet. Makes it a little easier to sleep at night, don’t you think?

Note from author: don’t use Kelvin.

 7.     Don’t touch people.

Look at yourself. What are you wearing? If your upper half is bare, why are you hugging this acquaintance? If the only thing between your skin and their skin is a revolting layer of bodily fluid, stop. I’m not blaming you. It’s the sun’s fault. It is. I know this. However, damage control. If you want to be held, wear a t-shirt – unless you know me really, really well. If you aren’t sure whether you qualify, assume you don’t.

 Sweaty hugs are not hugs, they’re ughs.

 8.     Beware TV.

So you’ve got some time off. Why not catch up on all the Parks and Rec you missed while you were buried under the weight of all the textbooks available on the inner workings of Sylvia Plath’s mind? Why not dabble in a nostalgic ER re-run? Why not? Are you crazy? You’ve got a whole summer to yourself and you think you’ll be able to stop just as soon as George Clooney’s saved that one little boy from drowning? Do you want to never leave your house again?!

 My suggestion is: pick carefully the boxsets you choose to begin and don’t sign up for Netflix (warning: you will spiral). British comedy is the safest option. Seasons max out at about 10 episodes and they’re shorter episodes than drama, so at least there’s at least a chance of some Vitamin D. See, Mum, I’m responsible. (When you get bored of that, The West Wing is excellent.)

 9.     Say yes to things.

Summer is the time to take opportunities. Whether it be work, travel or socialising, go do. Summer’s the one time of the year when there are things for everyone to do. If you love the outdoors, go to the beach or the countryside and indulge in a jolly bit of nature. If you love the indoors, the cinemas are full of blockbusters and the occasional indie gem (Before Midnight), there are plays and musicals for those who like it a little more 3D and, if none of that appeals, perhaps just retro it up with a little bowling. You can do it all with a side order of saturated fats. ‘Tis the season.

 Don’t say yes to drugs, though. Just say no. Maybe talk to Frank. Or the Hollyoaks helpline, I don’t know. Question: can you call the Hollyoaks helpline if you feel traumatised by how bad the quality of Hollyoaks is or?

 10.  Read. Read all the books.

Now is the perfect time.

Happy summer.

Born To Dye

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Lana Del Rey puns. Yeah, baby.

Tonight I dyed my hair for the first time ever. Okay, not ever. There was that one time when I dyed it black to rebel. (My mum didn’t care, so I didn’t do it again.) This is the only serious time, when it’s actually been in the interest of making me look nice ‘n’ stuff.

With the help of my trusted hairdresser (read: complete novice), Louise Jones, today was the day: the day for change. I decided I wanted to change things up in the hair department, ruling out legs, bums and armpits and going for the classic head hair. About two years after the rest of the world, I opted to get on board with the ombre trend.

Instructions, you say:

  • You put the lime in the coconut and mix them both up.
  • Dab and scrunch.
  • Find an astonishing number of sexual innuendos regarding the hair dying process (e.g. “this is gonna make you wet”, “bend over” – standard immaturity).
  • Grab a friend, get in a shower and wash your sillies out.
  • Rinse and repeat.
  • Take selfies.

Yes, you now have stunning ombre hair, you stunner. Wow. I am blown away. Twirl. Walk with a jaunt. That’s it. Now you’re ready to be unleashed. You must now immediately take up all opportunities to socialise so as to maximise utility.

The ombre is not the ombre without the obligatory root to tip comparison. Yeah, grab the ends of your hair and put it over your face like a fringe. Crazy stuff. It’ll bring back all the memories of yesterday’s hair. Like, remember when it was the same colour all the way down? Good times. But it’s more exciting now – this was a good decision.

And that’s ombre, folks! I’ve been Jessica Eve Kennedy, and you’ve been dyed.

How To Catch Buses and Alienate Yourself

I’m a very experienced bus-catcher. For proof of this, see my tweets and then imagine me communicating all of them from a bus. As many of you can attest, catching the bus is about as enjoyable as catching the flu. But, never fear, the many hours I’ve spent ridin’ ‘round town in a yellow double decker have taught me a few tricks…

  1. Always check for late risers! This one has caught out many public transport novices over the years. I get it. It’s cold and you’ve been on your feet all day; you’re eager to get on that bus. But wait. The 82 year old in the second row’s decided to wait a good 10 seconds after the bus has completely stopped before indicating she’s getting off, and you’re already trying to pay the driver. Rookie mistake. You must survey the bus for late risers before stepping on (basic bus etiquette).
  2. Bring iPod. Obvious but effective. If you’ve got headphones in, it drastically reduces the number of people who will attempt to talk to you. Pro tip: it doesn’t matter if your iPod is charged.
  3. The upstairs, downstairs trick. Imagine it: you’re sat upstairs and some drunken youths (you’re younger than them but they’re drinking on public transport so all bets are off) sit very close to you. You sense they may heckle you, or worse, try to initiate conversation. My solution: pretend it’s your stop and get your ass downstairs.
  4. The stinky food solution. Friends, Romans, countrymen, this is a timeless classic. Effective on any form of public transport (most useful on coaches, FYI), stinky food is your solution to company. Sick of people trying to sit next to you? Buy yourself some Frazzles or an egg sandwich and Bob’s your uncle*, no one wants to come within a good double seat of you.
  5. Bags need seats too. Another obvious one for avoiding company. When you take your window seat, dump your bag in the aisle seat to put off any prospective seat-sharers. It is effective up until the point where the only seats left are the bag seats, and then it’s anyone’s guess who the over-perfumed Avon lady’s going to sit next to. Obviously, move the bag when things fill up – you’re not an asshole. Pro tip: when seats are running low, move your bag early if you see a non-creepy-looking person. Don’t leave it to chance (CHANCE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND).
  6. NEVER make eye contact. I cannot stress this enough. Eye contact is the cardinal sin of catching the bus. Once done, it cannot be undone. If you want to stare at strangers on the bus (and let’s face it, you do), just watch via their reflection in the window. They think you’re gazing out of the window, you know different.
  7. Invisibility cloak. This is particularly effective when travelling with riotous schoolchildren behaving like pack animals. They will approach. They will annoy. The best solution is to whip out your invisibility cloak and disappear. Warning: they may sit on you.
  8. Speed dial a friend. Much like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, repeat bus travel requires a ‘Phone A Friend’ option. Use only in the case of an emergency (e.g. you haven’t even got headphones that you can pretend are plugged into something).

Follow these simple steps and you’re guaranteed to a safe, interaction-free journey home. Good luck friends.

*DNA test proven