Ordoo

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If you love coffee (and cakes and treats and everything else) as much as I do, you’ll want to check out the new app ‘Ordoo‘. I’d never heard of it, but was aware of ‘order ahead’ style apps that were already out there (I think Starbucks uses it?) and so was intrigued when they contacted me asking if I wanted to test-drive their service. I had a look through the list of cafes they work with and was pretty excited that they were teamed up with independent, small businesses, rather than just the big boys. So after a few seconds thought (did the traditional ‘order-queue-pay’ routine really bother me that much?) I decided that I was intrigued and wanted to give it a go!

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I checked out Renzo, a gorgeous little café sat on Leonard Street. I walk past it every day on my way into work but have never had the guts to go in there (I’m happy to admit I’m one of those people that resents corporate chains like Starbucks but also often feels intimidated to step foot into an Independent place). One of the reasons being, ‘What if they don’t take card?’ as I literally never have cash on me. Not even pennies.

With this in mind, it suited me well to use an App that takes both the awkwardness and the time of paying – simply tap your order, add your details and pick up your coffee. It really is that easy!

So, it was dreary Monday morning and I thought this the perfect time to test-run the Ordoo app. Who isn’t in desperate need of a Monday morning pick me up, which is why I ordered a soy latte and a slice of avocado bread. It’s little touches like being able to select soy (or oat, or almond, or coconut, etc) milk that make Ordoo great. I often find that in Starbucks or Pret, you’re shouting over several other people’s orders and very often get misheard, leaving you with a coffee you then can’t be arsed to complain about, but don’t really want. Given my love/hate relationship with dairy thanks to my Crohn’s Disease, it is quite important to make sure I get this element right if I’m being risky and ordering a traditionally ‘milky’ coffee!

The app was easy to use and you even have the option of requesting your order ASAP or to order in advance. I hadn’t realise this, stupidly, so literally ordered as I was stood outside Renzo. Like an Uber, once I had confirmation that my order had gone through, I popped inside and awkwardly announced that I had ‘an Ordoo or something’. They smiled and immediately knew who I was/what I had ordered and within minutes I was handed my coffee and cake – dreamy!

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If like me, you want to try out more independent coffee shops and either a) don’t carry cash or b) like the idea of your coffee being ready for you as soon as you walk in the door, then I would highly recommend Ordoo. Plus, their list of shops is growing too, so soon you’ll be able to Ordoo wherever you go in the City!

TenStickers

TenStickers1If you know me, you’ll know that I love an interior (as I’m sure we all do in these visual times of Instagram and Pinterest). Making a space your own and customising it to your own tastes is pretty much the all-consuming excitement in moving anyplace new and is one of the main reasons that personally I love moving house so much! White walls don’t have to be bleak and boring; in fact, they can be a canvas for endless possibilities and style. 

Recently, my attention was drawn to a website called TenStickers; a company who create and produce vinyl wall stickers directly, therefore taking out the middle man and offering the customer great products at great prices. What’s most attractive is the selection – if you are picky like me, and in a world where image seems to mean so much, finding the perfect match can seem challenging. What TenSticker’s carefully does is categorise the stickers, from text to customisable, to laptop and baby. What’s more is you can even search for your desired image by typing in key words or even by specifying what area the sticker will be used. 

TenStickers2Personally, I love the ones that you can just whack above your bed for a touch of instant glam. I’m always a little bit scared of hanging a photo or a mirror or shelve above my bed (in case it falls on my head in the middle of the night…) so a transfer that can go straight on the wall but still lift the room from sparse to chic is right up my street!

Imagine having this in your bedroom, probably as a little bit of motivation to get out of bed on a Monday morning! For those of you who are able to fiddle around with other spaces other than their bedroom, the selection of kitchen phrases are adorable. 

The nicest part about TenStickers is their sea of customisable options. Whether you fancy a wall sticker of yourself and your boyfriend (or cat) or if you would like your favourite quote stuck above your bed (‘dreaming of Pizza’), the options available are endless. Even if you have a wall with little inspiration to fill it, TenStickers have a dedicated squad who can put pen to paper and create the perfect piece for you. The team are so helpful and responsive, that whatever your needs and whatever your vision, I’m sure they will be able to help you out.

TenStickers3Check them out at www.tenstickers.co.uk to explore the full range and to start creating your amazing space. 

*This is a sponsored post

Brooks & Brooks

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January is a fantastic time for change; be it the cliché change of attitudes to food or the change in pace and energy to life back at work after the Christmas slum.

For me, it’s been a change of visual difference. Whether it’s being a girl in the age of social media or just having some severe internal vanity, I felt like it was time to re-invent my appearance to feel like I was fully shedding my skin of 2015. Although every year has its up and downs, I feel like the last one carried a lot of baggage and it was time to breathe some new life into the way I viewed myself.

Being a dye-hard (pun intended) bleach addict, it was a brave decision to go darker. The actual colour I wanted was ‘boring, ash, blonde’ and I feel happily that I have achieved that. As if in a wave of good timing and fate, I was then approached by Social Network Solutions on The Blogger Network for Brooks&Brooks – a hairdressers based in Holborn, London. I fear the sheers more than the average woman but was excited about the opportunity of a fresh and professional cut that would finish my mini-hair transformation.

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Last Friday, I was booked in to visit Kayleigh. I’ll be honest, I was apprehensive – not only had I never had this stylist before but I had also never been to the salon. As soon as I arrived and saw that they had ‘help yourself’ chocolate treats in a jar in the waiting area though, I was totally convinced that I was in safe hands.

Kayleigh greeted me, and was as lovely and bubbly as I’d be told she was. She spent ages going through my hair and talking to me about my routines, needs and desires for my locks before giving her opinion and talking me through the process of what I was going to have done.

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I was taken for an amazing hair wash, complete with no-neck ache (a revolution from the normally painful experience) and head massage. I was given a nourishing treatment to re-condition my hair, which was visibly damaged from all the bleaches and dyes it had persevered with over the years. After this, I was taken back to my chair, given a delicious hot chocolate (this is how I judge most places these days, on the quality of their hot chocolate) and the hair cut began. Although I came in slightly narrow-minded about keeping a lot of the length and hoping to sort out my nasty ‘gringe’ (grown out fringe, FYI), Kayleigh soon changed my mind about how much better it could look if I took that baby step further and allowed more than I’d planned to come off the ends.

The result? My hair not only feels incredibly but it looks great too. Ever since Friday I have had people compliment on how thick, bouncy and healthy my hair looks – something that literally is a rarity when you suffer with thin hair like myself. It is so much more manageable and although it was a bit of a shock to my system at first, I am genuinely loving it and so happy with what Kayleigh has done. She has totally respected my long-term hair vision and given me the best possible solution.

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Brooks&Brooks gets my thumbs up, and I’ve even booked to go back in 8 weeks time.
Anyone who can get me to re-visit a salon is worth their weight in gold.

 

Chapter Crohns

The next part of the journey, begins here.
To be honest, one of the most annoying thing about Crohns Disease is the fact that every computer/phone wants to auto-correct it. The fact that technology doesn’t even identify it as a known word is in line with how little knowledge or information there is out there; not reassuring when you’re trying to work out what your body is telling you. 

On 25th August 2015, I was admitted to the gaestronology department of the Hospital for a Colonoscopy, following an initial bowel cancer screening. I kept relatively quiet about all of this to my friends and family; partly because I didn’t want to provide false information and partly because I was terrified. I knew I had been ill since October 2014, but I put it down to stress of running my own business and general poor diet. Anything to do with your bowels or toilet terrors still seems to be such a taboo subject, and definitely not something I was a fan of talking about; despite how ‘trendy’ gut issues seem to have become. So I suffered in silence for 7 months, not knowing what was wrong and not knowing how I could make myself better. 

In the end, Will and I made the important decision to shut our business, so that we could each invest more time into ourselves – something that had become so crucial with my deteriorating health. I was nearly completely absent from social media and increasingly more anti-social, swapping days out with the girls for days unable to move from my bed. I tried cutting out gluten, cutting out dairy, cutting out caffeine and alcohol – but still no improvement. I took medicines for IBS with little success and eventually my doctor said I needed to be checked out for bowel cancer; not words you want to be hearing at 23 – but progress. People were finally beginning to accept that there was something deeper than just having a ‘dodgy stomach’ and in a way, I was relieved. 

The screening itself was traumatic; it’s bad enough sitting in a clinical room, plastered with ‘How To Make It Through Cancer’ and ‘Call Macmillan Nurses for Support’, metal implements, gloves and jelly staring you in the face, but to have two male doctors and a student nurse greet you and carry out a highly personal, trousers down, knees up, let’s pump you full of carbon dioxide examination trumps most experiences I’m sure people have had. The results? Cancer free – the most likely outcome given my age, so I was told. What this did mean, however, was that it was something else. Which meant being referred for a colonoscopy.

Now, unlike an ear problem or an eye infection, a bowel disease is hard to see. And unfortunately, the only way in, is a way that is normally your body’s way out. Getting over this fact, and the matching robe and shorts (with hole cut out the back) they give you when you go into the surgery ward is the first part. Having the physical examination is the hard bit; 53 minutes of having a long camera tube shoved through your insides, all whilst you lie there, drugged up as you like, watching it on a monitor, as they take biopsies throughout your various tubes and passages. Having small parts of your bowel cut out feels like someone pinging an elastic band on your insides by a tiny, irritating school kid. 

And that brings me to today, October 21st 2015 – a whole year since this saga began. 

I have now been officially diagnosed with Crohns Disease, and am on a cocktail of anti-inflammatory tablets and steroids to keep myself in check and to reduce the number of severe flare ups I encounter, until I am back in hospital with a specialist. My weight is constantly fluctuating, I feel fatigued most of the time and am constantly dehydrated or on the verge of a migraine due to the loss of blood and fluids. I’ve been able to reduce the number of times I go to the toilet from 20 daily, to 2 and most of the time I am able to be pretty lenient with what I eat and drink. 

I am only at the start of an uphill battle, and although this condition does not affect huge amounts of people, once it’s hit home, you realise how alienating it can be to have a life-long illness that currently only offers the options of steroids or surgery for any form of long-term fix. I’ve only been able to classify myself as a sufferer of an Inflamatory Bowel Disease for two months, but I am already suffering the stigma of having an internal illness; how everyone thinks that because your face isn’t green or you’re not sneezing and spluttering, that you must be fine; that it really can’t be that bad. So on weeks like this week, where I can’t sleep at night because I am constantly on the toilet, unable to digest any food, throwing up bile, suffering from shakes, chills, cramps, fatigue and unable to move from the severe inflammation to my joints, I invite you to sympathise. Just because you cannot see something, doesn’t mean it isn’t there; and if there is one thing I have learnt very well throughout the course of my life and through others, a brave face hides a thousand sadnesses. 

Barcelona

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With all that’s been going on in my life lately, a last-minute break was exactly what the doctor ordered.

There have been a huge number of changes in my life over the last few months, and whilst my main concern has been my health, wellbeing and agenda, I’ve noticeably neglected a lot of friends and family along the way. Without dwelling too much on the negatives, it was about time I was able to do something positive for myself and at times like these I am lucky enough to have a constant in my life who pulled it out the bag and booked a week away in Barcelona.

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I think my main note to self is to never get stuck in a place you don’t like.
Whether it’s geographical, emotional or psychological, individually we have the power to change our situation; we do not have to always play victim to circumstance.

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