Tuesday, 30 December 2014

5 Resolutions for 2015

Loose weight, quit the fags, drink less...we've heard it all before. Clearly these classic resolutions are doomed to fail. Instead, let's be a bit more creative and make a resolution that is realistic and enjoyable.

1) Be more charitable. 2014 was a great year for text donations with loads of people joining in and raising money through no makeup selfies and ice-bucket challenges. Let's keep it going! Resolve to do something charitable once a month. It doesn't have to be huge, maybe put a fiver in the charity box on payday or donate unwanted Christmas presents to your local charity shop or make a packed lunch for a homeless person. We're all blessed and have more than we need, it's time to give back.
2) Create more memories. How many times have you blown off a friend this year, honestly? Time's flying by and you have to make the most of it. Resolve to do something and do it. Sit down and brainstorm ideas, make a list, and tick them off as you go. Don't make a dream list (resolving to take a holiday in America when you're £1,000 into your overdraft isn't going to happen) and don't fixate on how impressive or expensive it is. Feeding the ducks costs a loaf of stale bread but can be loads of fun, visiting an old favourite hangout might only be the price of a bus ticket, and having a DVD marathon with your bestie is free.
3) Take more photos. We all have a phone these days, bang it out and snap away. Keep a folder on your computer of the best ones and print them out at the end of the year. You could even print two and make a cute, personalised gift for someone (although make sure they were around when those pictures were taken otherwise you've given a photo album of look how great my life is).
4) Recycle. I know it sounds boring, and it is, but once you start you'll realise how much we throw away. It's actually scary. And, okay, one person washing out their jam jars isn't going to make much difference to the state of the world but if we all had that mentality life would be very depressing.
5) Improve yourself. Okay, this is kind of a classic failure. After all, why would you suddenly have the motivation to go to the gym 5 times a week on January 1st when the thought of a treadmill made you a tiny bit sick on December 1st? Maybe the reason we all fail so spectacularly at resolutions is because we're thinking of them as flaw fixing. Stop concentrating on what's wrong with you and set a goal that will improve you. Maybe it's learning a new instrument, or getting your driver's licence, maybe it's learning to cook more dishes (hint to any students still living on baked beans come student loan day). Focus on the good and enjoy learning something new.

That's all folks! I'll see you in 2015. A big thank you to all the readers who regularly drop by my corner of the internet, especially to all you non-UK and Ireland ones! It's one thing forcing your friends to click on your blog but seeing that people I don't know are dropping by is super cool.

Just to be clear, this faux inspirational picture is here
purely for irony's sake. 

Oh, one last thing, I resolve to never use the phrase 'super cool' again. I think I'm cringing to death here.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Fun Things to do in an Airport

Airports are funny places because, as an adult, situations where you're forced to stay in one place are fairly rare.
Once you pass the 'I am not concealing anything' test you're ushered into the 21st century equivalent of purgatory; the 'departures lounge'.
Don't get too excited by the title. The departures lounge is nothing but a stained communal seating area, a few coffee shops (that sell dishwater and stale sandwiches), and the duty free.
You could always head to WHSmith for a magazine, or whatever chain sandwich shop is available (might I point out that those sandwich shops only make money because you have no choice. It would die on the highstreet. It's literally trapping customers). Or you could have a little fun...but not too much, you have a plane to catch.

1) I (accidently) recently discovered you can bring food through the scanning machine. So what are you waiting for? Load up that picnic basket.
2) Flying with Ryanair? Obviously you'll be wearing the contents of your suitcase because a single sock apparently weighs 15kg. Swap clothes with your partner. Or, if you're a single pringle, wear your bra on the outside of your top. There is literally no law against this (although the fashion police may want a word).
3) Buy a cup of dishwater and take two big handfuls of sugar packets. Proceed to empty them all into your cup and form a wrapper mountain in front of you. Take a big sip (or pretend to), screw your face up slightly and then go get more sugar.
4) Have a loud phone conversation about your favourite soap without mentioning the soap's name. If nothing else the check-in staff will think you have a wild life.
5) Buy a pregnancy test from Boots and make a really inappropriate comment to the checkout staff. It's even funnier if you're a man.
6) Give yourself a makeover in the duty free. Lads can take this as a golden snapchat opportunity. Also, there's plenty of nail varnish testers. What are they there for if not a full manicure?
7) Casually scroll through your tablet then make a loud gasp followed by a, "Nooooo!". Make your eyes scream for that added drama.
8) Bring out the blanket and travel pillow for a quick nap on the chairs.
9) If you play an instrument bring it along and give the whole lounge a free show. Better with friends. Best with a tamborine. Excellent if none of you can play anything more than the tin whistle.
10) Run like the wind to your departure gate to be the first one there.



Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Review: St Vincent

Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O'Dowd. These are all people who make me want to see a film. Put them all in the same film and you've got yourself a customer.
St. Vincent is about a grumpy old man called Vincent (Murray) and his new neighbours Oliver and Maggie (McCarthy). Maggie is a single mother who works erratic hours at a hospital and because of this Oliver ends up being minded by Vincent. It's an unusual pairing - Vincent smokes, drinks, swears, and generally says the things you're not meant to say to children. Oliver takes all this without shock. The more time the two spend together the more we can see the good side of Vincent and the events which have led him to become the man he is. 
I won't give too much away, but expect some heart-warming scenes and plenty of laughs, because if there's one thing this film has it's laughs. It's easy to say the dirty joke - and Vincent often does - but what makes this film so funny is the innocence of Oliver and the reactions he gives to Vincent's lewd speech. The writers really captured the innocence of a child when they wrote Oliver's lines and it's these which will have you spilling your popcorn. 
It's great to see Bill Murray acting again. I can't remember the last really successful film I saw him in. It's strange though, because when he comes on screen everyone simultaneously asks whether that's him because he looks so much older in St. Vincent. Part of the reason for this is, hello, Murray is sixty-four. He looks old because he is old. And he's hardly playing a suave young bucko. The other part is whenever I hear 'Bill Murray' I picture Bill Murray circa 1984 i.e. Ghostbusters Bill Murray. So if you see St. Vincent you have been officially pre-warned that Murray has aged in the last thirty years. 
I was a little disappointed at McCarthy's character. Maggie is a very typical, stressed out single mother who doesn't get to make many jokes during the film (except for one howler about twisted fallopian tubes). Considering the comedic abilities of McCarthy I think a big opportunity was missed here. 
And finally, where does Chris O'Dowd fit in? He's the Irish Catholic teacher, of course. Has he been pigeonholed? Yes. Does it work? Yes. The jokes are mildly clichéd, and a lot of fun is made at the expense of religion (too easy), but every time O'Dowd opens his mouth the audience end up in stitches. And, fair play to him, he really captured the spirit of the Irish primary school teacher. 

All in all it was an excellent film which is definitely worth seeing over the holidays. It's rated 12a but the jokes and the general nature of the film would make it unsuitable for under fifteens. I'm awarding it 4*.

Can we all take a moment to appreciate
£3 Crazy Tuesday cinema tickets

Monday, 8 December 2014

Christmas To-Do List for Students

  1. Draw your secret santa. It's better to get one nice present than four crappy ones. 
  2. Organise a farewell meal - dine out where possible to lessen stress and avoid washing up. 
  3. Watch a Christmas film in your pjs with your housemates. Santa hats are optional mandatory. 
  4. Hang mistletoe in your doorway and make inappropriate jokes to your postman. 
  5. Make pitchers of seasonal cocktails and proceed to get sloshed in the name of Christmas. After all, we're students and it's Christmas. You shouldn't be sober all month.
  6. Make or buy mince pies. Eat them all in one sitting. Have no ra-grets.
  7. Put up tacky decorations. Student houses have no tinsel limits. 
  8. Go for a Christmas coffee (everyday). Gingerbread syrup comes but once a year.
  9. Skip a lecture because of seasonal overindulgence. 
  10. Visit your local Christmas market multiple times and buy unusual things. Garlic jam?! I MUST HAVE THIS. It will go so well with the moose shaped mug tree. 
  11. Wear a naff jumper. 
  12. Put all exam related thoughts out of your head. Whenever panic begins to wash over you eat a candy cane. You'll gain a stone, and maybe a filling, but the only lessons you should learn over the holidays are contained in corny family films. 
  13. Blast Christmas songs waaaay too early. 
  14. Cry about having no money. Christmas is expensive.  
  15. Have an overly emotional farewell with your uni friends even though you'll see them again in a month. 
  16. Talk about how you can't believe that 2014 is almost over and make dramatic statements about not seeing people until next year
  17. Clean out your fridge before you go home for the holidays. Milk doesn't age well. 
  18. Make plans to see all your friends from home. Bring Christmas crackers and force them to wear paper hats in your local pub. 
  19. Daydream about seeing your pets again and imagine their surprise at the gifts you got them (spoiler alert for cat owners: cats won't react to Christmas presents and will make you feel like an idiot for buying them). 
  20. Tell everyone it's forecast snow; maybe we can will a white Christmas. 
  21. Chill out, Christmas is stressful. Don't let it get to you. 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Review: Annie Mac at Limelight

The 4th of December was Sketchy's 9th birthday and Limelight sure celebrated with a bang. Annie Mac, the famous Radio One presenter, was down DJing the night.
The atmosphere was electric with good vibes as soon as you entered the club. Lines were fast moving and bouncers were efficient, which is a blessing for all us girls in short dresses.
Once inside the main room, the DJ was on top form playing dance music that was simplistic enough to keep the banter going between your friends but upbeat enough to get us dancing. The dancefloor was moving in waves with intense raving patches and sideline boppers so no matter what mood you were in there was a place for you. I have to give major credit to this DJ, he was completely in tune with what the crowd wanted and delivered time and time again without playing a single dud.
Annie Mac came on after midnight - her set must have only been 90 minutes - and she was...well, personally I don't think she was as good as the warm-up DJ. There was minimal crowd interaction and she'd obviously just pressed play on a setlist. Besides from one quick shout out there was nothing to tip you off to the change in DJ, except perhaps that the music became less in sync with the mood. Also, the lighting around where she was stood was quite dark so she just looked like a smokey outline. Maybe this was meant to be cool and mysterious, but it just served to put her in the background.
However, Mac did keep the great mood going, we were all hyped, but there was nothing to particularly amazing about her set nor did she bring any fresh excitement. If there hadn't been such a great warm-up I think she would have struggled to get the buzz going as well as it had been.
Limelight could have used its resources better too. Some songs had a steady beat which would have been easy to time with a light show. Instead lights appeared sporadically. They barely used the smoke machines, but this is a blessing because they can make everything a bit overwhelming and chokey.
Real credit has to be given to the staff though. The bar line was never overly long and bouncers were quick to break up any trouble. If anyone was in a real state they must have been escorted outside quickly because, even at the end of the night, everyone was still standing and most of us seemed pretty coherent.
Overall it was an excellent night, a real highlight of 2014. I'd also like to give a major shoutout to whomever found and handed in my purse. You've saved me a lot of stress and drama, good on you!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Review: Skinny Spinkles

The Product: Skinny Sprinkles is a powder you mix with water to create a strawberry flavoured drink. You take it 30 minutes before each meal. It's meant to make you feel fuller faster and therefore you eat less. It can also be used as a snack replacement
The active ingredient is glucomannan but Vitamin C and B3 are thrown in for good measure. Skinny Sprinkles recommends having 3 sachets a day for maximum results.
At the moment it's only available in strawberry flavour.
The Taste: I loath strawberry flavoured things. Skinny Sprinkles has the same flavour and consistency as unset sugar-free jelly. Just like alcohol, it's best served ice cold so keep a jug of water in the fridge.
Convenience: Because each drink is individually wrapped it's easy to have on the go. The only issue is mixing it discretely, but who cares as long as you lose weight, right?
The Results: Skinny Sprinkles isn't a meal replacement so you still have to eat something. I already eat small meals so my food intake barely fell. I didn't feel fuller for any longer than usual.
During the course of Skinny Sprinkles my calorie intake was 'good', but there was no noteworthy decrease. I was eating slightly less but because I eat healthily that decrease only added up to about 100kcal a day. Three sachets of Skinny Sprinkles are 57kcal so the few calories I saved weren't worth talking about.
I haven't lost faith in this product though; when taken on an empty stomach it killed off hunger pains. It's suited to people who eat larger portions and need help cutting down, or serial snackers.
Drawbacks: If you're anything like me Skinny Sprinkles will greatly increase your water intake. Hydration is good but constantly having to pee isn't!
The Website: Firstly, do not be put off by the atrocious grammar; apostrophes and colons are all over the place along with random capitalisation.
There's some great advice on the website about how to lose and manage your weight, and it's all written in a light-hearted tone. Perfect for anyone who finds weight loss medical jargon about as useful as a freezer full of Ben and Jerry's. There's a fab 1940s theme too, which won't help you lose weight but sure is funky.
The Price: You can order straight from the Skinny Sprinkles website where a 21 stick box will set you back £17.95 + £2.60 P&P (£4.95 for Ireland). I recommend checking out their facebook page for discount codes. Delivery was really fast, my order came the next day.
Additional Info: Vegan society approved!

Skinny Sprinkles could be a handy product to have over Christmas to minimise over-eating (we've all eaten a full tin of Roses at one time or another). If you're already eating small portions I don't think this is the diet aid for you.


Monday, 3 November 2014

Review: Slim Pasta

Dieting can be hard and there's nothing worse that being hungry. If you've set yourself a restrictive calorie allowance it can be difficult to create meals which will leave you satisfied without being repetitive.
On the other hand, low calorie diet food usually sucks. It's like all the taste is in the calories. This is why I was skeptical of Slim Pasta. I mean, 21 calories a serving? Who are you trying to kid? But I was made eat my words (and my pasta) because, amazingly, Slim Pasta is good! 
I was delighted by how quick it is to cook. All you do is rinse the pasta then chuck it in a pot for a few minutes. Definitely a life-saver if you come home starving and can't wait for your dinner to cook. The pasta itself is tasteless, but 'real' pasta is hardly packing flavour punches. Whatever sauce you put on it is where your taste is going to come from. 
The texture is probably the strangest part of Slim Pasta. It's rubbery and takes a bit of chewing. It's not massively unpleasant but it's definitely its weakest element.  
If you decide to give Slim Pasta a go be aware that when the packet says 1-2 servings it really is 2 servings. I definitely misjudged how filling it is and used 3/4 of the pack. Waaaay too much. Then again, that's only an extra 10 calories so I didn't cry over it. 
As a diet aid Slim Pasta is a great way to reduce your calorie intake and is available in penne, fettucine, and spaghetti. Slim Rice and Slim Noodles are also out there which really opens your dinner options up. 
The biggest drawback is it makes mealtimes rather expensive. The RRP is £2.49 (Holland and Barrett), so I'd recommend using it a few times a week rather than at every meal.


Saturday, 1 November 2014

5 Ways to Kick Start Your Pre-Christmas Diet

It's November, which means it's only one month until the Christmas season really kicks off. That means parties, a house full of goodies and more photos than you've taken all year. You need to look good, right? Start your diet now, lose a few pounds in time for all those parties and relax your eating over Christmas.
What's the quickest way to drop those pounds? There's no magical answer, unfortunately, but there are ways you can start your diet with fire and maximise your results.

1) Try a teatox. I've reviewed the Bootea one here. It's a brilliant way to start your diet and the structure of the routine is a major help for anyone who struggles with self-discipline. You can teatox for 28 days, or just for 14 if you prefer.
2) Cut out the booze. Alcohol has so many calories that heavy nights on the town are bound to ruin all the diet and gym work you've done. A sober month in the run up to the least sober month will also give your liver some well deserved resting time.
3) Cut out all liquid calories. Swap your full sugar pop for the diet version - or even better replace all pop with water. Also watch your coffee intake; a grande Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks is 311kcal which is more than most chocolate bars. Be careful not to cut out milk though, you still need calcium. Try skimmed or non-dairy alternatives for the lowest calorie options.
4) Don't weigh yourself more than once a week, it will drive you crazy. Weigh yourself when you're feeling good about your weight and use it as reassurance that you're on the right track. Remember that all kinds of things can affect your weight (muscle weighs more than fat so anyone hitting the gym hard might not have amazing numerical results). Also remember that the type of scale you own will have an impact on your weight, whilst electronic scales are more accurate they can give different results depending on the type of flooring they're on and even the temperature!
The best measurement of how your diet is working is what you see in the mirror. Happy with it? Then you're doing it right.
5) Buddy up. Being the only one not eating pizza can really suck, get a friend to diet with you and you can keep each other strong (and call each other fat bitches if temptation is given into).


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

50 Reasons I Swiped Left

1) His picture is obviously him and his ex-girlfriend.
2) His picture is him and his current girlfriend.
3) I would tower over him like the BFG.
4) He's wearing more fake tan than me, i.e. he's wearing any fake tan.
5) There's more edited gym shots that Pure Gym's homepage.
6) There's only one photo of him and you can't see his face; I'm not prepared to take that gamble.
7) Bio reads an inspirational quote by a famous figure.
8) Bio is misspelled (if you can't be arsed to spell check you probably can't be arsed to let me finish first).
9) Any boy posing with a baby - either he's broody or is trying to use a minor to score.
10) His name is too similar to mine.
11) He has murderer eyes.
12) He's wearing a sleeveless shirt, during the day, in Belfast. Obviously devoid of common sense, he'll catch his death.
13) Dick shots.
14) Obvious drug addict.
15) Outdated photos, I can see that 'Happy NYE 2012' banner you know. I want to know what you look like this year.
16) His pictures all feature him doing some kind of outdoor activity. I find getting out of bed on a Monday morning akin to climbing a mountain but you actually climbed a mountain? 
17) I know him.
18) He's ginger - it wouldn't be fair to deprive the world of two redheads. We're rare and therefore must be spread out as much as possible.
19) It's all holiday shots of LADS ON TOUR.
20) He's posing with impoverished children purely to get pussy.
21) Ditto with a sedated tiger.
22) Ditto with a flash car. I also suspect the car is rented.
23) Babyface.
24) The display picture doesn't even have a human in it.
25) He's pouting, no ...just no.
26) The guy's naked.
27) There's a sock on it.
28) He's 69ing whilst standing up - I don't deal with headrush well.
29) Tractors feature anywhere in his photos.
30) He's prettier than me.
31) Tinder is showing me the same guy twice. Why do you do this Tinder? No means no.
32) My hand slipped, NOOOOOO, Tinder bring the cute boy back!!!
33) Any boy who's posing with children that he actually created. I am so not ready to be a crappy step-mum.
34) His bio is full of sexist BS that's meant to show he puts women 'in their place'. Here's my place, away from you.
35) It's selfie-central, read: vain betch.
36) He has so much muscle he no longer has a neck or he's thinner than me.
37) Hilarious photos of him pulling sex poses with the lads. We don't know each other well enough for me to see this. Save it for the fourth date.
38) He's too good to be true. Oh, you're a bodybuilding cat enthusiast with a six pack and your own coffee shop? BUUUUULL.
39) IQ of a button. A dull button.
40) He's holding a weapon, either type.
41) The man is clearly lying about his age.
42) The child is clearly lying about his age. WHY ARE YOU ON TINDER SCOPING FOR 20 YEAR OLDS???
43) He's been far too honest. Some things are best left for an awkward first date.
44) He has a beard that looks like it's made of iron wool.
45) I've had a bad day and just need to reject some people to make myself feel better.
46) Too rapey.
48) The photos have obviously been stolen from a Google 'attractive models' search.
49) His bio looks like it was written by throwing magnetic letters on a fridge and seeing what sticks.
50) I've been staring at my tablet so much I'm in a zombie-like state so I'm not really seeing these men anymore.


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Review: Bootea 14 Day Teatox

What it is: 14 day programme designed to maximise weight loss as well as rid the body of nasty toxins.

What's in the kit? 14 'Daytime Detox' teabags and 7 'Bedtime Cleanse' teabags.

Morning Tea: The tea had a pleasant taste (although who cares about taste if it works?) and was a relaxing way to start my mornings. I really liked that it was loose tea in a nylon bag as loose tea can be messy, especially if you don't own a tea strainer. It claims to increase your metabolism and suppress your appetite, and amazingly it follows through! I found myself less tempted to snack during the cleanse and cravings for sweet and fatty foods were reduced.

Bedtime Tea: This tea isn't as tasty as the morning one, but it was drinkable. Its aim is to cleanse your body of built up toxins which is meant to help excess calories from being stored. It also rids you of excess water weight.

Restrictions: Bootea's website has a free eating plan designed to maximise your results, and there's no fear about going hungry. If you're looking for maximum results Bootea recommends avoiding meat and poultry. Alcohol must also be avoided - I know this can seem a bit much but if you can't go sober for 14 days you have bigger problems than a few extra pounds.
Please bear in mind Bootea is only effective if you follow the rules. Nothing, repeat nothing, is going to magically work if you're eating pizza 24/7.

My Verdict: My body took a little time to get used to the teas. For a few days I had stomach cramps that completely put me off eating in the evenings...which I guess is a pretty effective weight loss tool.
I lost 4lbs, which I was delighted by, but the real benefit of Bootea to me was the the healthy feeling I got by following the programme. It was tough (especially when free shots were on offer) but I was full of energy by the end of it and my skin was flawless.
I think the most powerful effect Bootea has is a mental one. I found that because I had a plan and rules I was stricter with myself than if I'd just decided to go on a diet. Bootea is definitely a good idea for anyone who finds themselves being won over by the offer of takeaways and goodies.

Where to buy: You can purchase directly from the Bootea website where a 14 day kit will set you back £19.99 + £3.99 P&P (£5 for Europe, Canada and America) or from Holland & Barrett for £19.99/€26.99. I ordered from the latter as P&P was free (click here for the Irish link).

Refunds: Bootea don't offer a satisfaction guarantee so the only way you can get a refund is if your products are unopened. However, following the diet alone should result in weight loss so if you don't lose weight during a Bootea cleanse it's highly likely the biscuit tin is to blame.

Bootea

Sunday, 28 September 2014

10 Things I've Learnt Working With The General Public

I've had a lot of jobs and most of them involved interacting with the general public. It's taught me a lot, like...

1) People stink. OhmyGod, please shower before you grace this business with your presence. The counter between us is nowhere near enough. I honestly have to take a step back from customers a few times every working day. If I know that a certain customer reeks I even hold my breath while I serve them.
2) People will sadistically pay for a €10 charge with 10 and 20 cents which I am meant to count out for them. Nine out of ten times there'll be a line out the door whilst I'm trying to deal with the contents of someone's piggy-bank.
3) Everything is somehow my fault. The tills are down because of me. The line is long because of me (I guess I invented the lunchtime rush). The items are over-priced because of me. The thing they wanted is out of stock because of me. Their children cry because of me. They have to break a €20 note because I charged them the money. FYI guys, I'm also responsible for the ebola outbreak, 9/11, the failing economy and terminal illnesses. SOZ.
4) Tills hate cashiers. I don't know why.
5) Customers will put a few items before me then wander off to get more even though there's clearly a queue behind them. There's no way to gauge if this is to quickly get one item (reasonable) or whether it's to fully sweep the shop and fill a basket (unreasonable and very rude).
6) You don't realise how many people are functioning alcoholics until you work an early shift and can smell drink off every other customer at 8am on a Tuesday.
7) When someone else is cleaning up the mess people are disgusting. Now, fair enough they've paid for the luxury of sitting down with a coffee and some food but that's no reason to be a pig. Put your gum in the bin not on the empty plate. Don't let your kids smear butter packets all over the table and pour sugar everywhere. Don't discard wrappers on the floor, I'm only asking that you leave it on the table/on your tray!
8) The correct change will suddenly be found just as I'm about to hand them the change from their note. It's never something simple like giving me 20c so they can get a note back, usually it'll be something like, "Here's another 73c so now just give me the fiver note and the €1.50 as change." Except customers don't do the maths for you.
9) People have no patience and will throw euros at me then run for the door before I've even scanned their items. It's incredibly ignorant and ignores the fact that, hello, I'm a person too and I deserve a bit of common courtesy. If you want to throw money at something use the self-service checkouts in Tesco.
10) People buy a disgraceful amount of sweets for fat kids. Obviously you have to feed kids a lot to make them fat, but seeing it in play is quite a sight to behold. Why are you buying your 5 year old a King Cone and crisps? Why are you giving your child a large breakfast roll when a small one would be far more appropriate? Why are you giving a child free reign over a share bag of sweets? And why are you doing all this at 8 in the morning?!

Some of the things you might expect to feature don't actually bother me. I sympathise greatly with parents of demanding toddlers. I even try to help them out when I can (I once told a 4 year old if she didn't stop shouting I'd have to get the manager and, much to her mother's delight, she shut up).
I have no problem with older people who take a long time with their orders. I even try to spend extra time with them because I'm aware they may be lonely. For all I know I'm the only person they've talked to that day so I'm going to make damn sure they feel welcomed and taken care of.

Anyone looking to improve the working-life of minimum wagers like myself should follow three golden rules: one, once you've handed me the money don't start faffing with more change, it's easier just to give you what the screen is telling me; two, use disposable cups and plates where available because it's more buses and washing-up otherwise; and three, smile and use your manners. They're free you know.


Friday, 19 September 2014

Are Employers Exploiting Young People?

My friends often come to me complaining about their bosses. They switch shifts last minute, they accuse workers of being unreliable when they can't meet every demand, and they pick on them for insignificant things. Why? Because they know they can't afford to walk away from the job.
During the recession people's job moans have often been answered with "At least you have a job!!!" Which is true, if you're lucky enough to be in employment you're luckier than 747,000 young people who were out of work between May and July 2014 in the UK. But does that mean you should be treated unfairly? No, it doesn't.
There isn't adequate protection for young workers because the job market is so demanding. Bosses know that if they fire you there's another ten who would take your place for half the wage. Part-time jobs are scarce and young people are desperate so what does this breed? Terrible working conditions for minimum wage.
Most of the time these bosses are working within the realm of the law but that doesn't mean all is fair. Take the example of a young worker asked to work late time and time again. Sure, they're given the legal amount of breaks (perhaps unpaid) and they may be within the maximum working hours permitted but maybe the worker is exhausted and doesn't want to work extra hours. What then? Refusing extra shifts looks bad and can put you first in the firing line when cuts have to be made. So the young worker feels there's no option but to take the extra work.
The only way out is to keep working on your education and get the career you've always wanted. Then you can walk into that sandwich shop/restaurant/clothes shop and stare your former boss in the eye knowing you earn twice as much as the person who once pushed you around. Heck, say it to them. Write them a patronising letter if that's what you fancy. But until then young people will have to keep their heads down and their mouths shut because working for the man is what's paying the bar tab at the moment.

Never admitting you don't know what to do
is also a major part in most minimum wagers' days



Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Freshers: Making the Transition

Going to university is hella exciting, we all know that, but there's a flip side to every coin and once freshers' week is over you might find yourself feeling low. The golden rule is keep calm, no problem is too big. Here's some helpful advice on common problems.

You don't drink a lot. It's a myth that all students drink. However, there's definitely peer pressure for those who do. From drinking games to buying rounds of shots it can seem like there's no way to avoid binge drinking on a night out. If this isn't your style just refuse the drink. You'll probably be heckled at first but once people cop on that you're serious they'll shut up.
You miss your hometown. Everyone gets homesick at uni but some feel it more than others. If you're finding being away from home try going back regularly. Be warned not to neglect your uni life though because you'll feel worse coming back if you haven't got strong friendships waiting for you.
You miss your friends. Your 6th form/college years are over and you still meet up with old classmates regularly but you find yourself missing 'the good old days'. There's no solution to this one, you have to accept that they're over and move on with your life or risk missing out on 'the good present days'.
Money. Everyone struggles with their finances at one point or another. Make a budget and stick to it from day one. There's really no getting around it.
You're having doubts about your course. Loads of people doubt their degree choice at one point or another (usually in the library at 2am) so worry too much. If your doubts persist see your personal tutor. You might be able to transfer course.
You're having doubts about your uni. Love your degree but not your uni? Transferring uni will usually involve repeating a year so it's best to analyze what you're really unhappy with. If it's a certain lecturer or tutor then there's no need to change as they change every semester. Maybe it's your living situation that's making you unhappy, if so talk to the people in charge ASAP.
You're finding the workload difficult.Two words: time management. Are you leaving things to the last minute? Are you trying to work late at night? Are you rushing your work? Uni demands attention, there's no skimming through and getting a first.
Make a study timetable and stick to it. If you're still having problems then speak to your PT.
You don't get on with your hallmates/you're having problems making friends. The solution to both is to get out there! Join a society, talk to new people, try your hand at a new hobbie/craft. University holds a variety of diverse people so you're guaranteed to find a new bestie by the end of it.
More serious problems. You're well on your way to becoming a 'proper adult' but we all can struggle. If your bad days are turning into bad months don't be afraid to see a doctor and get help. Likewise the pressure of university can bring out the worst in those who already have problems such as eating disorders and social anxiety. Don't stay silent, uni can provide you with all the help and support you need. The hardest step is the first one.

Above all, enjoy your time at uni guys. Not everyone is as lucky as us!


Friday, 5 September 2014

Review: If I Stay

If I Stay stars Chloë Grace Moretz as Mia Hall, a girl whose biggest problem in life is getting into college and keeping her boyfriend. Then a carcrash changes it all. Mia must decide if she wants to wake up to a world without her family or to simply pass on.
If I Stay's characters were a mixture of totally believeable and Hollywood corn. The girls looked like normal girls, no one was wearing a mini-skirt in the snow, but the lines Adam (Mia's boyfriend) came out with were so unbelievable it ruined the realistic appearance.
There are some definite tear-jerker moments; the biggest being the scene where her grandfather tells her it's okay if she wants to go. It really makes the audience think about the quality of life Mia would wake up to and the reality of the situation. There are also some mega-cringe moments. As this is a film about a high school girl you can pretty much guess that most of the cringe came from romantic moments, most horrifically so in the 'deflowering' scene. I literally watched from behind my hands.
The ending was...unfulfilling. It's obvious *spoiler alert* that Mia is going to choose to live. I don't think anyone walked into that film thinking otherwise. The film builds Mia's story through a series of flashbacks and this helps her make her decision but the reasons to die seem to outnumber the reasons to live. Mia has her mind firmly set on dying and seeing her boyfriend doesn't suddenly make her want to live. In fact her out-of-body-self is telling him she can't stay, but then she suddenly wakes up. And we were just sat there like *hands in the air* what was that?

I'm giving If I Stay three stars mainly because of how cringey it was and the ending. It's worth seeing for Mortez alone because she's set to become such a massive star and this is the first film where she gets to play a normal girl, instead of one with demonic powers or a penchant for superhero masks.


Saturday, 30 August 2014

Review: Let's Be Cops

Let's Be Cops stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. as two best friends who live in LA and are going nowhere in life. They attend a college reunion dressed as cops and immediately notice the effect this has on the people around them. From there on the pair continue dressing as officers and take it one step further by buying a police car and learning the lingo. Soon they begin tackling crime and before they know it they're caught in the middle of one of the most dangerous criminal operations in LA.
The one-screen pairing of Johnson and Wayans is hilarious. Those who know the two from hit-show New Girl will be able to imagine the riotous chemistry between them.
Let's Be Cops will keep you laughing all the way to the exit doors, but there are one or two flaws in the film. Firstly, a lot of cliched 'black' jokes have been lazily thrown in. Secondly, *spoiler alert* there's a scene where Wayans has to go undercover so he dresses up as a character called Pupa. He looks nothing like him, mainly because he's an entirely different colour. It's amazing that in no point of the production of this film did someone say, "Hey guys, I know these two people are both not white but that doesn't mean they could pass as each other."
Besides from the above the film is well worth watching. It has all the elements of a classic cop-duo film with a fresh new take on the genre. Let's Be Cops will hopefully be the beginning of more films starring Johnson and Wayans as they both really stepped up to the plate in this film and proved that they aren't just for the small screen.

Star rating? 4 out of 5.


Saturday, 23 August 2014

5 Ways Ryanair Tries To Screw You

We all know the story of the little boy who booked with Ryanair; he thought he was getting a great deal by booking with the devil but ended up shafted more than a pornstar in a feature length.
The only reason anyone books with these souless cretins is to get a good deal, but often people end up with a mediocre deal on an abysmal airline with a free headache (though soon they'll be charging for those too). Here's the  top five ways Ryanair gets you, be sure to avoid these traps.
1) Ready, steady, BOOK! Ryanair's website won't let you book if you take too long. If you're trying to do the right thing by triple checking every detail (to avoid any changes charges) but take more than 10 mins from start to finish the website will revert you back to the beginning and erase all the booking progress you've made. Yes, this is after you've painstakingly entered card details.
I can only assume that the aim of this is to rush you the second time you attempt to book so you're more likely to make a mistake which they can then charge you for.
2) You'll often see 'only one left @ this fare' next to the bargain flights. If you increase the people you're booking for you'll lose that cheap fare and move into the next 'only 2 left @ this fare' band, but if you book the cheaper flight separately you'll get one of the seats for less dollah. Don't worry about whether you'll get to sit together...you'll have to pay for that luxury anyway.
3) 'Country of residence'. Ever fill in this drop down menu to be met with an insurance charge? Why does it ask for country of residence instead of just a simple 'do you want insurance?'? Contrary to what it seems to be telling you, you don't have to purchase insurance. To get around this click 'Don't insure me' under 'Denmark' in the country list. Tricky...
4) You have to check-in online and can't do so until 7 days before your flight unless you purchase an allocated seat. So if you're going on a 10 day break you'd better find a printer at your destination or face a €70/£70 fee (incidentally anyone paying in Sterling is worse off that people paying in Euros for all fees).
5) Bought a surprise ticket for someone? Better make sure you know their name down to every last letter as there's a €110/£110 fee for changing...or €160/£160 if you don't discover it until you reach the airport!

In 2016 they're going to introduce a 'breathing' charge

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Things I've Learnt as a Student

A Level results are out today, I hope you all got into the university you wanted! Going to uni is an exciting time that isn't only about learning your chosen subject, but also discovering who you are as a person. It's as amazing as everyone says and the student lifestyle rumours are all true! Here's a few things I've learnt about being a student over the past year.

1) Toast does not require a plate
2) Watch how much you drink lest you end up on a 'spotted' facebook page
3) 'Smelling it' is the true 'best before'
4) You'll need a second mortgage to pay library fines, at 50p an hour it's cheaper just to fail your degree
5) Waking up at 8am is torture
6) You'll never need to get drunk more than once you've finished coursework
7) Buying ice is a thing
8) It's socially acceptable to bring a sleeping bag to the library
9) A bit of bread mould never hurt anyone
10) Suffering a hangover so bad you can't get out of bed until the evening is a sign of a good night
11) Learning how to properly reference is a degree in itself
12) Coming home to a fully stocked cupboard is better than seeing your parents or your pets
13) Mr Samuel Buca is a fickle friend
14) You will never need to own an NUS card
15) You're guaranteed to have a 'ghost' flatmate

If you're looking for any advice on packing for halls, the truth about your new hallmates, how to best deal with a hangover or how to stretch that student loan you can follow these links to prepare yourself for the most exciting time of your life (so far). Good luck to all you freshers!

Friday, 8 August 2014

50 Shades of Sales

The 50 Shades of Grey trailer certainly got a lot of us steamed up (thank you Jamie Dorman - perhaps the best export of N Ireland). Ann Summers famously reported a rise in sex toys sales off the back of 50 Shades book success and it looks like we're about to have another sex boom.
Seeing as most of the readers will want to see the film and some people couldn't be arsed reading but would gladly watch the sexcapades on the big screen it's already predicted to be a 2015 box office hit so expect another bout of daytime tv discussing the best fluffy handcuffs to hold down your man with and the most effective type of knot when it comes to bondage.
I'm welcoming the sex boom with open arms (the handcuffs aren't for me) for two reasons. From a purely economic point of view it'll breathe some life back into Ann Summers. Once a favourite for girly shopping trips Ann Summers has fallen from grace. They have permanent sales on (not a good sign for their future) and some outlets, especially the Belfast one, need some major attention. Their shopfronts are beginning to look aged and seedy, not the modern woman's orgasm havana they once were.
It'll also help bring a more open attitude towards sex which is something sorely needed in our society. The British and Irish especially can be uptight and prudish about sex, but at the end of the day it's totally natural and we're all here because two people got down and dirty. We should feel comfortable enough to talk about the things we like, things we want to try, things we want you to stop (so much could be put in these brackets), whether your partner is making you cum (yes ladies, you have a right to expect an orgasm too!) and whether doing with with the 50 Shades DVD on would be acceptable.


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Alt-Fest Is Laid To Rest

Yesterday Alt-Fest made the official announcement that the festival is cancelled. Seeing as Marilyn Manson, Gary Numan and many of the bands scheduled to play have already said this it's hardly news. Alt-Fest also informed us that ticket holders would be entitled to a full refund. This is welcome news to many of us who have already spent hundreds of pounds which we've no hope of claiming back.
Alt-Fest's latest statement is teaming with emotive language and blame shifting. It emphasises the effort Missy and Dom put into trying to save the event along with detail of all the avenues they tried. However, it also reveals they knew about the financial problems for months. Months! Yet they waited until the eleventh hour to tell us. In those months countless flights and hotel were booked. Their spineless attitude is what has cost us! Given the chance we the fans could have helped. The alternative community is well known for pulling together and given the opportunity to prove ourselves I bet we'd have been able to raise cash for this.
The fatality of Alt-Fest was all apparently down to a "costing error"and "poor advice" (not-so-subtle blame shifting if you ask me), so what they're basically admitting is this whole fiasco is down to someone getting their sums wrong and no one bothering to double check. For two people who apparently own a nightclub they seem to have minimal business knowledge. Most businesses wouldn't rely on a plan drawn up in the early stages without having a quick double check to see if it was still relevant. Most businesses would think that a plan based on an idea which hadn't properly begun yet might do with another once over. Not Dom and Missy, noooo they thought it'd be grand and had no contingency plan in place for if it wasn't. I hope that isn't how they run Club AntiChrist.
What angers me the most is the way this statement is written, Missy and Dom write as if they're our friends (I've no idea who these people are and I care even less so now that they're responsible for me losing £300) and make references to themselves as being a "family" and "act[ing] in your best interests" to draw an emotive response from readers. They create a pseudo-relationship with us by taking us through their harrowing journey and, of course, using their first names. The whole thing is full of emotive language and apologies and reads like it's straight out of a GCSE English exam. It's like they think we can take 'sorry' to the bank! People have fallen for it though with comments on the announcement expressing sympathy and gratitude. GRATITUDE! For people who have cost us tens of thousands of pounds!!!
I have no sympathy for either of them, nor will I applaud them for apologising to us. It was a facebook post aimed at thousands, not a heartfelt individual apology.
I would also like to add that anyone who thinks Missy and Dom deserve our sympathy right now all because of their bankruptcy status to read up on business. Bankrupt is a strong word which isn't as bad as you think, nor is it permanent. I personally know someone who had to declare himself bankrupt twice and he's far from living in a cardboard-box. The brunt of the financial disaster will be taken by Alt-Fest the company, legally speaking Alt-Fest is its own entity. That's why you won't be dropping pennies into Dom and Missy's Starbucks cups anytime soon.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Alt-Fest: A Shambles

For those of you who haven't heard the latest Alt-Fest has finally released an official statement over this whole fiasco. So what has the 24-hour wait brought us? Another wait! We've been promised an "official statement and full information" on Monday- 11 days before it is meant to begin.
With people flying in from all over the globe 11 days notice is not good enough! For many of us the festival was over when Marilyn Manson cancelled his appearance. Personally all I want is my ticket money back. Like many others I only booked tickets because I wanted to see Manson at what would have been his only UK show. 
The biggest fear is the show will go on with a half-assed setlist, far short of the 180 bands across 7 stages  we were promised. I know I won't be attending that Pity-Fest. With thousands of pounds already spent on non-refundable hotels and flights the most welcome option for many of us would be to call the whole thing off and give us our ticket money back. It wouldn't be much, but it'd be better than nothing. 
Unfortunately there'll probably be lots of hotel rooms going to waste this August, but in case you didn't know a lot of airlines allow you to change the time and destination of your trip for a fee. I've already planned a break in Paris where I'll find it a bit easier to mellow out about this whole disaster. 


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

ALT-FEST CANCELLED

Hours ago the internet rumours started and now headliner Marilyn Manson has cancelled his appearance at the 3-day festival. He joins a handful of other bands in doing so.
No official announcement has been made by Alt-Fest as of yet. Their silence speaks loud and clear to ticket holders though. Expect disappointment. The 'for the people by the people' festival is NOT going ahead.
What's the worst part of this story? That there's only 16 days until it was meant to happen? That we're all being kept in the dark? Or that only last week they were e-mailing us to say tickets would be sent out soon?
I for one am extremely disappointed. Not only have my friends and I booked (non-refundable) hotels and flights but this was meant to be the highlight of my summer and my first ever festival. Not to mention the fourth time I'd be seeing my favourite band and idol Marilyn Manson.
To add insult to injury I now have the choice between wasting pre-booked flights and a hotel or taking a holiday to Northampton. I honestly don't know which would be sadder.


Revenge Porn

Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boys sends photos of his doolally to girl. It's an age old story, right? It's when girl posts these explicit photos online that the story takes an unfortunate turn.
What's been dubbed 'revenge porn' by the media has made its way into Parliament, and no I don't mean Mrs Cameron thought we should all see more of our great leader. It makes sense that new laws should be developed to meet the increasing impact that the internet has on our lives. Current laws do protect people, but in a more general manner, and unfortunately the vague nature of existing laws can make prosecution difficult.
So what would specific revenge porn laws bring? Well, instances of revenge porn may go down if people know it's a specific offence. Right now many young people don't know the legal stance of going around posting pictures of their ex's fah-abulous knockers. A specific law would create awareness that, in case you didn't already know, this is not okay.
 Most importantly it would bring protection to the victims. Imagine trusting someone with naked images of yourself and then having that trust violated. Sure, some may say that it's their own fault for sending those pictures, but I don't think that's fair. Revenge porn should join other sexual offences not only in legislation but in the removal of blame culture. In the same way a woman's attire isn't a factor in her rape a person trusting their partner with explicit photos isn't a blameworthy factor if they're posted online.
Revenge porn is a malicious act intended to bring humiliation to the victim. Its very nature is criminal. Parliament needs to get with the times and lay down the law in this area before any more people are affected.



Sunday, 20 July 2014

Love Your Body (Because This Is As Good As It Gets)

Ever look in the mirror and think 'if I could only change this'? Que a grab at some spare flab. Well you're not alone. It's safe to say most of us have body hang-ups whether they're about excess weight, wide hips or small boobs. I'm not going to tell you to feel good about yourself because you're an amazing person and beautiful as you are. Being an amazing person doesn't affect your outer image. And being told you're 'beautiful as you are' always sounds false and hollow.
You should love your body because this is as good as it gets. Those horrific teenage years when your body didn't know what it was at are over and you've been left with whatever you're rocking right now. It's not going to get better. If you're carrying a little extra weight right now you're only set to get heavier, bone structures won't change and bra sizes (sadly) remain the same.
So accept your flaws (no need to love them) because if there's one thing the beauty industry teaches us it's that as you get older you'll have more flaws to worry about. Wrinkles, weight gain, stretch marks, grey hair, saggy boobs, age spots...it's all ahead of us!!! When you're forty and trying to squeeze yourself into spanx you'll look back on photos from your twenties and think you were absolutely mad to be worrying about your body.
Funnily enough, even with all these extra beauty niggles a lot of older people report they've learnt to accept their bodies. Why not kick-start that now? Look in the mirror and tell yourself you're fab (although not out loud incase people think you've cracked).


Friday, 18 July 2014

How I Met Your Mother Finale

How I Met Your Mother has been around since 2005 (what was I even doing in 2005?) and in the last nine years it has provided some pretty decent telly viewing. At first it was dubbed a Friends copycat but HIMYM has evolved past this label and developed its own unique essence.
Over the years we've watched Lily, Marshall, Robin, Barney and, of course, Ted go through life and develop as characters on a relatable level. Who hasn't seen themselves in some of the awkward date moments or referred to an ex as Blah-Blah? The show has tackled so many of life's big issues such as dealing with the death of a parent, accepting you're getting older, having children and how they change your life...not to mention what to do if a goat gets into your bathroom.
Sure the show was a little outlandish and unbelievable at times. Perhaps if it had only been stretched out over eight seasons rather than nine some of the sillier filler episodes could have been avoided. However, overall HIMYM has been a roaring success and joins precious other shows in being incapable of getting old. Thanks to E4 there's never a day where you can't waste an hour or two watching repeats and God knows it eases a hangover day.

However, the finale was not up to scratch. Since day one we've been expecting a happy ending. Instead HIMYM turned round and spat in our faces. If the past nine years have taught us anything it's that Ted and Robin don't work, but Robin and Barney were a perfect fit. Why did they have to get divorced? Why not keep the mother alive and keep Barney and Robin together?
It's left Barney completely open ended as, sure, he's a good-looking new father right now but what about when he hits his 50s and 60s? Would he really want or be able to keep sleeping with countless women? Would having a baby not change his behaviour if not just by restricting his ability to sit in bars every night but also by changing the way he sees women as his daughter grows? He already appears to have taken on this new attitude in a flash-forward so what is he going to do, stay single and alone for the rest of his life? Having a child is nice but not a replacement for a partner.
Robin is problematic as whilst she seems to have feelings for Ted let's not forget she's constantly traveling with her job. This won't work for Ted as he's always wanted someone to spend his life with, not someone to he sees every other weekend.
Credit where credit is due though, Lily and Marshall's ending was perfect. Marshall's career progression combined with their strong relationship being as solid as ever has sewed up their characters in a perfect stitch.
And the mother? She's perfect. Completely worth the eight year build up. She's matched for Ted in every way and goes the extra mile where Robin just couldn't. There was no need to have her killed off and the execution of the death seemed rushed. We're offered nothing more than she was 'sick'.The least the writers could have done is go through her battle with a long illness to give the audience a 360 emotional view. Instead, practically as soon as we've been introduced to this perfect woman she's been taken away. The build up to how insanely perfect she is for Ted worsens the situation as Ted has spent his whole life waiting for this woman, all the near misses, all the signs and all the waiting for 'the one' and now we're meant to accept that Ted will be happy with Robin? No, the truth is if this is how it plays out he's settling for Robin. She's a consolation prize for losing his 'one'.

The ending hasn't done the show justice but I sure as hell enjoyed the ride. It's hard to imagine what will be next to match HIMYM's success but let's just hope and prey no one thinks a How I Met Your Father spin-off is worth producing.

I was going to quote the show here, but how could
I possibly chose just one line?

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Using The World Cup To Score

No matter where you go these days you'll be able to find a television broadcasting the latest World Cup match. Surrounding this will be men of all ages bonding over the game. A lot of these time the men will be sporty (and therefore likely to be buff). So basically the World Cup is a magnet for well-toned men.
Ladies, I'd like to tell you it's simple to pick up these men but the truth is it's so ridiculously easy you'll be worrying whether you're pregnant by half-time. Use the power of the World Cup carefully.
All you have to do is find a screen showing a match. Then stand in front of it and try to work out who's playing. Cheer in the correct places and give a heartfelt 'ohhhh' when someone misses something.
A lot of the lingo and phrases are constantly repeated so keep your ears open. Sometimes men are so eager to believe you have an interest in football they'll hear what they want to hear. For example, I was recently in a bar pretending to watch the match and a man asked me who I was rooting for. I looked at the screen and had to take a wild guess at who was playing. "Croatia", I mumbled. "Costa Rica", he heard.
The other beautiful thing about using the World Cup to pull is the atmosphere is very relaxed. You can casually chat and mingle with everyone. One well-placed phrase about the match will make you a 'top bird'. Bada-bing-bada-boom, grab your coat you've pulled. Equally because the men are so relaxed they find it easier to strike up a conversation and therefore, even though you're the one on the pull, you don't have to do any work. Honestly I wish there was a World Cup every year.
The only snag? You'll probably have to wait until after the match to snog him so don't employ this pulling tactic until about 75 mins into the game.


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

What You REALLY Need To Bring To Halls

There are thousands of student websites with lists as long as both your arms of things you need to bring to university halls. A little known secret is these lists are BS. It's comforting to overpack before leaving home because then you feel very prepared, but within a few weeks you'll realise a lot of what you've brought isn't needed and that these things will sit in the same place until June. Here's a rundown of some things you'll need and some you won't.

- Clothes, obviously you need these. Don't bring your entire wardrobe though because halls bedrooms are tiny. Only bring clothes for the season because you'll be going home for Christmas break soon enough. Bring two warm coats so you don't feel like you're always wearing the same one. Ditto goes for practical shoes (ankle wellies have been my saviour this year). 
- Leave the sewing kit, door stop and bathroom tidy in Wilkinson. Make sure to pack a first aid kit though. Plasters are useful for obvious reasons and I used the pins in mine for modifying a pub crawl t-shirt. 
- A few photos, but not too many. Everything's on facebook these days there's no need to cart photos around. Also there will be poster fairs within the first month so don't stress about finding your wall art over the summer. 
- Do not buy all the kitchen gear you can find. You don't need a colander or a baking dish. You won't use these things and by buying them you're just kidding yourself. Be brutally honest and buy one frying pan, one large saucepan, some tupperware (for saving leftovers) and a baking tray (for all the frozen food you'll be eating). Buy disposable cups too for prinking sessions because it saves a whole lot of washing up the next morning. 
- Bring two sets of sheets so you're never pushed to do laundry. Laundry facilities are expensive and you're best off saving up as much washing as you can. A blanket and a warm dressing gown will be very useful as halls' heating arrangements are famous for being timed and dodgy. The best type of dressing gown is one which goes past your knees; you won't be sexy but you'll sure as hell be warm. Don't bother with the decorative cushion on your bed it will just get in the way. 
- Something you've probably not though of is a radiator dolly. You can't put clothes directly on halls radiators because it's bad for the paint and it will block the small amount of heat that come out of them. Avoid getting a clothes horse because it will take up valuable space. A lot of clothes aren't dryer friendly (you'll find out for yourself when your favourite pants are ripped apart by dryer cruelty) so I used to let anything delicate dry in my bedroom. 
- Hangover supplies are a must. Don't wait until you have freshers' flu to venture to the shop for painkillers, Fanta and crisps. You need to have all these things in abundance and you'll also want to keep your money for drinking sessions. Let mummy buy the Panadol. Building on this it's a good idea to have cough syrup and TCP too for when you have an illness that's unrelated to alcohol (yes, it is possible). 

Remember that wherever you're going will have shops so you don't need to pack everything 'just in case'. You'll get by on a lot less than you think. The only area I would advise you to go a bit mental is the parental food shop. Buy the family pack of cereal and the bumper pack of laundry gel. If anything is on special offer then buy it. Food is so much more expensive than you think it is and it's no lie that you will be saying goodbye to simple things like ham sandwiches and chicken breast fillets until you go home for Christmas.

My cats are probably the only thing I really needed
at halls but couldn't have

Friday, 20 June 2014

The Truth About Hallmates

Moving into university halls can be scary. After all, you'll be stuck with these strangers for your entire first year. I won't lie to anyone moving for uni this September, you're not guaranteed to be friends with your flatmates. Some halls operate like a close family and some operate like the type of family you only see at Christmas.
The best advice I can give to anyone moving is be an open person. Take all the opportunities to meet new people that you can. Don't shy away in your bedroom and don't stick with your friends from home just because it's easier. You're better off having nights where you know no one rather than use an old friend as a social crutch. Some of the best friends are made within the first few weeks so make sure you don't sell yourself short.
Shifting your flatmate is a dangerous activity. It can go one of two ways: a one off or a relationship. The 'one-off' is only awkward if you let it be. Laugh about it and move on. The 'relationship' can be trouble for your entire halls as couples can be annoying to live with. The trick is to keep drama and sickening cuteness to yourselves, don't get jealous about other flatmates hanging out with your bf/gf, and have a plan in place for a break-up. Don't bring other flatmates into your fall out, but this is easier said than done as it's bad enough seeing an ex on the street imagine living with them.
Sharing is caring but don't be taken advantage of. Be careful about lending money to anyone until you've known them a few months. Believe me, it ends badly. This stretches to personal safety too, especially for the girls. They might be your new flatmates but you don't truly know them so keep your senses about you.
At the end of the year you'll hopefully be able to stand everyone you live with and be sad to see them go. It's funny how they turn into family, even if it's just an annoying brother. Strangely no matter how attractive your flatmates are they will lose all sex appeal (unless you date them obviously). This year I lived with the world's nicest arse but I couldn't appreciate it fully because it was just too weird. Like checking out a cousin *boke*.

Goodbye Rowan 4 Room 103

Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Sliding Scale of Hangovers

The no show. You drank a considerable amount but have woken up without a trace of hangover. As rare as a Christmas miracle, appreciate these mornings when they happen.
Feeling a bit rough. Your head is a bit sore and you need a lie-in. Nothing a bacon sarnie won't sort out.
Oh dear. Dry mouth and a stomach churning so much you'd think you were making butter in there. You definitely over indulged last night. You have acid reflux so bad it may erode your throat. To make it worse last night's takeaway is still on your breath. As lovely as a chicken burger is you really don't want to taste it the morning after.
Oh no, noooo. Light is your enemy and you can't think about everything you drank without wanting to throw up. Your stomach is dissolving in its own acid. Your insides feel like they're trying to escape. This type of hangover will likely be coupled with a deep sense of shame over something you did last night. If you're like me you needn't even have done anything bad, good old fashioned Catholic guilt will make any molehill into a mountain.
Death. This hangover is so bad you will consider whether something is seriously wrong with you. It can't be normal to feel this bad after drinking. Forget about opening your eyes or getting out of bed, all you can hope for is to make it through the day.


Sunday, 1 June 2014

Why I Fly with Ryanair

What takes half an hour, causes extreme frustration and leaves you feeling emotionally drained? Booking flights with Ryanair.
Why do I do it then? For the same reason everyone else flies with those soulless monsters. It's cheap. It's so cheap that to bring a bag costs more than my seat on the plane.
Of course, you sell out your happiness when you fly with Ryanair. I have to be at the airport before most of the staff, I had to restart the entire booking process because I'd forgotten to fill in one box, and printing my boarding pass is a hellishly specific process (you must print your boarding pass 24 hours before flying, but not 2 hours before, you can only click the link once, it must be in magic ink, God Himself must sign it, and don't forget to bring your passport, dental records and family tree going back 5 generations).
But at the end of the day I save £40, so it's all worth it. I can fly with British Airways when I have a steady job and 2.5 children.


Sunday, 18 May 2014

Low-Calorie Wine: A Godsend or a Con?

Wine is lovely (if it's not mix it with some Ribena) but at around 600kcals a bottle (and come on ladies, we drink the full bottle) it's cancelling out any weight loss you're trying to achieve. And yes, I am assuming most of you are trying to lose weight because aren't we all?
The other day I picked up a bottle of light wine. For those who don't know, this is a lower calorie wine. Sounds amazing right? Well, everything has a catch and light wine's is it has half the alcohol of regular wine. The particular one I picked up was 5.5% and I bought it specifically because I didn't want to get drunk, I just wanted something to drink.
The wine itself went down easily with a lighter taste than some of the £3 taste crimes I've bought in my student life. Of course, the bottle didn't get me drunk, it was barely more alcoholic than WKD, but I got a bit of a buzz nonetheless.
The verdict? If you enjoy a single glass of wine on an evening switching to light wine might be a diet-friendly way of keeping your tipple. However, if the girls are coming over I recommend sticking to the over 8% stuff to extract the most giggles and sch-kandal.

I prefer to drink straight from the bottle, with a straw though.
Because I'm classy. 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Swipe Right for My Tinder Experience (or lack of)

I never thought Tinder would be the place I'd find love, or even a boyfriend. The most I was hoping for was a whirlwind romance to fill the space between exams and going back to Galway. What I got was a steaming pile of disappointment.
After 2 hours of staring at my tablet, breaking only to gulp down more wine, I swiped right about 5 times. Are my standards impossibly high? It's up to you to decide, here's some of my main reasons I for thinking you belong in on the left.
Firstly, because I was new to this, I had no filter. And I didn't figure out how to reset that until 63 year old Roy popped up (sorry Roy). I also didn't realise you could see more photos for the first 45 minutes (I never listed apps as one of my CV skills) so I rejected many rather than play cute guy roulette in group snaps.
And the rest? I either knew you, and thought it was less awkward to swipe left, or you looked like an asshole.
Anyone who was pouting was swiped left. Anyone in a sleeveless shirt in a nightclub was swiped left. Anyone who appeared to be wearing fake tan was brushed to the left. Anyone with a bio that sounded like it could be written by a Geordie Shore cast member was firmly sweeped to the left. Anyone posing with African children/their car/on top of a mountain was shoved to the left (not that I have anything against African children, cars or mountains. All those guys just looked like hipster asses when they were next to them).
Of course, my own photos probably don't represent me properly. But I felt a pic of me in my pyjamas, juggling 3 cats and a bottle of wine, with my best friend applying a facemask might be too intimidating...or bring some fetish weirdos out of the shadows.
So what now? I'm going to go back to the good old fashioned method of getting hammered and scoping the bars for talent. See you there, ladies and gents.


Monday, 5 May 2014

Hangover Realisations that Make You Want to Die

The morning after the night before can be a tough time. Especially if any of these apply...

1) You have to prise your eyes open because you went to bed in full make-up thinking it wouldn't matter. It's not opposite world, it does matter.
2) There is no water, anywhere.
3) Remembering any conversation from the night before.
4) You have sent multiple texts since 10pm and, oh sweet baby Jesus, there is an unaccounted for phonecall.
5) You gave out the shift more than your name.
6) Shots, in any form. Not taking them, not having an empty bottle of them by your bed, just that they exist is enough.
7) Remembering that you picked last night to develop a catchphrase and anyone who met you will forever associate you with being that person.
8) You have 20 facebook notifications. No one should ever have 20 facebook notifications.
9) You thought you were gorgeous/a stud muffin last night, photographic evidence reveals a pure munter.
10) Your far more sober friend saw everything you said and did and will recount this information to you as soon as your ears stop ringing from a combination of club music and loudly singing in the streets.


Monday, 28 April 2014

Breakfast Drink Not as Sweet as You'd Think

I mentioned in a recent blogpost that cereal bars aren't a real on the go breakfast because they need to be eaten with so many other foods. Well, here I am again exposing breakfast lies for the good of the nation!
Weetabix have released an on the go breakfast drink. From what I can tell it's your entire breakfast in one drink, or they're hiding the serving suggestion very well.
Great! Something which requires no preparation, can be eaten (drank?) outside of the home and is a full meal. What could be wrong?
Try 22g of sugar per bottle. That's 5.5 teaspoons of the white stuff. The Recommended Daily Allowance is 90g so without having touched a bun or a cake you've used 24% of it!
Want to know something else? They boast about a protein content of 9.5g but the same quantity of semi-skimmed milk contains 9g anyway.
Granted, Weetabix have never claimed this to be a particularly healthy food, but their assertion of a high protein, energy and fibre content combined with a calorie content no higher than two Weetabix biscuits with milk is misleading.
Honestly, I expected better from Weetabix. I associate their cereal with being a healthy, low-fat and low-sugar option. Obviously their breakfast bars are cakes in disguise (for a start they used to be marketed as 'Elevenses'), but making so many comparisons to their cereal deceives people into thinking this drink is just as healthy when in fact there's a huge difference.
This sweet breakfast drink will surely leave a bitter aftertaste on your health. My advice is to take an extra 5 minutes on a morning for a bowl of cereal or round of toast, or both! No judgement here.

It's flavoured milk, just admit it. And Jaysus, who's
full after a flippin' drink?! Full meal my
(sits down for breakfast) arse

Friday, 18 April 2014

Lady Gaga Leaked Photos

Leaked photos of Lady Gaga posing for the latest Versace campaign are causing quite a stir. The unedited photos show a pale, tired looking Gaga with little make up whilst the photoshopped ones Versace use depict the glowing, energetic beaut you'd expect.
One newspaper described Lady Gaga as 'humiliated' over the photo leak. Humiliated. Like she wakes up on a morning, looks in the mirror and says, "gosh, how embarassing."
Let's properly look at these photos for a second.

 

Yes, she looks better in the photoshopped one. That's the whole point of photoshop. But how bad does she really look unedited? Not that bad at all. 
True, Gaga looks washed out. But remember how much touring she does. I have bags under my eyes that Ryanair would charge for if I party too much. Gaga produces albums, has constant dance rehearsals, makes music videos, tours and churns out new music regularly so, put into perspective, she doesn't look half as knackered as she should. 
Also, how much better do any of us look? Yes you there, uncomfortably shifting around in your seat. Are you a 10/10 glowing specimen of feminine beauty? Do you roll out of bed ready to walk the red carpet? No, you don't. Neither do I. Neither does Lady Gaga.
We should all remember that even though the photoshopped version looks better it's not real. Most of the celebrity images we see aren't. So if you want to slag a woman for not looking like a fake perfect image you're really quite dumb. We don't slag our parents for not actually being Santa, we don't slag our cat for not talking like Salem in Sabrina the Teenage Witch and we shouldn't slag Lady Gaga for not looking like her photoshopped twin. 

If anything, this should make us stop obsessively comparing
ourselves to glossy magazine images. Here's a dose of
pale reality: no one is perfect.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Review: Ben & Jerry's Greek Style Frozen Yogurt

Usually low-fat foods are less satisfying that their full fat equivalent. In fact, I find the percentage of fat they remove directly corresponds with the decline in enjoyment. But Ben & Jerry's Frozen Greek Style Yogurt isn't intended as a low-fat option. It's simply a healthier one.
Let's face facts, not many of us are eating frozen yogurt because we prefer it. We eat it because it's similar to ice cream with substantially less guilt and at 160kcal per serving it's hardly going to break the calorie bank.
How similar to ice cream is it though? Well, for starters it has that thick and creamy consistency I'd expect from Ben & Jerry's. It definitely tastes of yogurt but the indulgent type not the runny milk-water type. It's soft straight from the freezer too, so you don't have to wait. Don't pretend we haven't all had that moment of digging into a tub with avid greed to be met with a frozen brick.
I chose the Strawberry Shortcake flavour. It had a subtle, natural strawberry flavour with a pink twinge of colour. The shortcake was the biggest let-down. The chunks were a nice size but very bland. Compared to the sweet explosive chunks in the ice cream flavours it did nothing but change the texture to a dry crumble.
Overall, as a lower calorie option it's certainly a winner. But if you're looking for a Friday night binge food I wouldn't throw out the Cookie Dough just yet.


Sunday, 13 April 2014

6 Fun Facts About Cows

Country life is treating me well. I've been home for a week and the delights of the farm are still here. For all you city-slickers out there here's some fun facts about life owning cattle.

1) Cows are very good listeners. You can tell them all your secrets and rest assured they won't tell anyone.
2) Cows haven't got a judgemental bone in their bone. In fact, where there should be a judgemental bone there is a T-bone
3) If you put a small child on a cow's back they will carry on grazing regardless.
4) A cow can be deathly protective over its calf. You really haven't seen anger until you've seen an irate mother cow. However, if you have a bucket of cow nuts with you the mother cow will happily let you do whatever you want.
5) Cows go so mad over the aforementioned cow nuts that farmers can only assume they're made of cow-crack (that's crack especially formulated for cows, not crack made out of cows).
6) Cows faces are 90% kindness.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Cereal Servings: Breakfast's Biggest Lie!

The other morning I was waiting for the milk to soak through my bran flakes so I started to read the box. The recommended amount of servings per box is 25; it's done me about 12 bowls.
It's not just bran flakes either, all the cereal servings are tiny. Those minute boxes you get at buffet breakfasts are actually the serving size. You know, the boxes with 8 flakes inside them.
So whilst I'd been thinking to myself a bowl of cereal is a fairly average breakfast, maybe even on the smaller size of average, I've actually been consuming double breakfasts.
Unless, and this would be very sneaky, cereal companies serving sizes are based on a person having cereal and toast. In which case please print that on the box to stop me feeling like a fat bastard.

Whilst we're on the topic cereal biscuits are breakfast's second biggest lie! They're made out to be a breakfast for people on the go but if you read the small print they're not a full breakfast. They're recommended to be eaten alongside a piece of fruit, a dairy serving and a drink.
By the time you've eaten an apple, yoghurt and biscuits you've saved no time as opposed to 'making' a bowl of cereal, or two if you're me.