Review: Plantronics BackBeat FIT Wireless Sport Headphones

Plantronics backbeat FIT wireless headphones

I lost my iPod Nano. I am bereft. I’m pretty sure I left it in the cab after my birthday night out, as I remember not being able to find my wallet in my bag as my bag was stuffed full of presents and cards (I should probably point out this was more down to how small my bag was, not my popularity being so huge I should have taken a bin liner or two out with me with which to carry all my gifts) and I asked the driver to drive into the driveway while I rummaged around for the fare (that isn’t supposed to sound as dodgy as it does. I paid with cash, honest). So, I reckon it fell out then and, when I next got a cab two days later on Christmas Eve, I asked that cab driver how many different companies use the rank at the station and told him I thought I’d lost my iPod in a cab a couple of days previously and I thought it was a female driver, and he gave me a number to ring and said there are only three female drivers in Ashford, so it should be easy to locate. I said I won’t ring now, it’s Christmas Eve, they’ll be busy but he assured me it’d be fine. I went inside and rang the cab office and got the most unfriendly and unhelpful woman on the phone ever and she just said blah blah blah and so I remained un-iPodless and too scared to ring back another day in the hope someone nicer picked up. 

Luckily, my old iPod Shuffle worked with Windows 10 (the fucker wouldn’t work with Windows 7 though which is why I had to upgrade it in the first place, meh) so, yay, I was no longer un-iPodless. BUT – and this is a really big BUT – I only had shitty crappy headphones and so along with mourning the loss of my iPod, I also had to mourn the loss of my Sennheisers.

Yeah, yeah, #firstworldproblems, I know; bear with, bear with.

Plantronics BackBeat FIT sport wireless headphones

Then, hurrah, like a headphoney guardian angel, Plantronics asked me if I wanted to give their BackBeat FIT wireless sport headphones a go and, as I was desperately in need of some decent headphones said YES PLEASE, OH HEADPHONEY GUARDIAN ANGEL, TA VERY MUCH. 

The headphones arrived in a smart box, along with the usual instructions and micro USB charging cable. The headphones need to be charged for about two hours to get 8 hours’ listening time but you can also get an hour’s charge out of them in 15 minutes. As I had no intention of going out for an ultra-marathon (okay, I had no intention of going out for anything – I just wanted to play with my new toy), I left them to charge for the full term and then Bluetoothly connected them to my phone (an iPhone 6), which was simple enough. I then decided I wanted to connect them to my new TomTom Runner 3 which, as well as being a normal GPS running watch (along with tracking cycling, treadmill, indoor cycling, freestyle and gym), it can also store music and I hadn’t been able to test its music capabilities yet as I hadn’t had any wireless headphones. But now I did, yee ha! 

But… the stupid things didn’t want to connect to my TomTom. I thought maybe it was getting confused by my phone also being in pairing distance so I disconnected my phone but they still didn’t want to connect. Just as I was about to sack them off in my usual I-cannot-be-bothered-with-this default setting, they connected and now each time I switch on my watch and my headphones, they connect instantly. 

Plantronics BackBeat FIT sport wireless headphones

I don’t usually find wireless headphones particularly intuitive to use – I usually end up not using any of the controls because I either a) can’t find them; b) work out how to use them; or c) mess everything up and end up turning them off by mistake. Not so with the Plantronics; these are easy peasy to use and I have somehow managed to pause tracks, increase and decrease the volume, skip forwards and backwards through tracks, and turn the power off (purposely) without taking the things off and searching for the right buttons. And you even know you’ve pressed the right buttons because a voice tells you when you’ve done something (she also tells you upon powering the headphones up how much battery life you’ve got left). 

So, yes, they’re easy to use – a big plus point for me, but what about sound quality? I’m by no means an audiophile but I can’t bear crappy tinny headphones and these Plantronics, as far as I’m concerned, have a great sound – sharp, clear and not tinny at all. Although these aren’t in-ear noise-cancelling headphones, the surrounding traffic sounds didn’t detract from my music at all but I’ve only tested them out on the street and haven’t tested them in the gym yet and that will be the real test for me so I’ll have to update this post another time. 

I also can’t vouch for their stay-in-earability, as I’ve only used them while out walking – and although you can feel them, they’re comfy enough with their flexible neck and those over-ear things, so I can’t see there’d be any problems with them falling out but, again, I’ll have to get back to you on that. 

All in all, I’m very happy with the Plantronics BackBeat FIT wireless headphones and I’ve even been using them along with my TomTom Runner 3 just to go to the supermarket, instead of using my old iPod Shuffle and crappy wired headphones. 

For more information, visit the Plantronics website or buy now from Amazon

Thanks to Plantronics for sending me the headphones to review. All opinions are my own and I was not paid for this review. 




Infographic: Winter Safety on Two Wheels

I’ve got to admit, I’m much more of a summer cyclist, choosing to leave my bike in the garage during the winter, unless I *really* need it. This is partly because, once my hands and feet get cold, they take approximately two and a bit weeks to defrost and partly because of hazards like icy roads in the morning and poor visibility in the evening. 

If you need to use your bike or motorbike in the winter, check out the below infographic on staying safe in the winter.

Infographic supplied by Michael Jefferies Personal Injury Lawyers

Infographic supplied by Michael Jefferies Personal Injury Lawyers

Infographic: Choosing the Best Compression Socks for Runners

I know compression socks have many benefits but, let’s face it, looking good in them isn’t one of them. But people look stupid running anyway and obviously health comes before vanity so if you want to know all about compression running socks, here’s a pretty infographic for you.

Infographic supplied by Runner Click and GearWeAre.com

5 Ways to Get Movement Into Your Day

Before I emigrated to the countryside, I – like many others – was office-bound, spending many hours sitting down staring at a screen. Ironically though, I was at my lightest then because I was an expert at getting exercise into my day without really trying. Here are my tips for getting some exercise into your working day:

1. Get off the bus/tube earlier

Although I worked in Chancery Lane, I used to get the train to Liverpool Street and walk the thirty or so minutes from there, instead of getting the tube. It only added 15 minutes to my commute and walking down the road, listening to my music, was far less stressful than trying to cram myself into a tube with dozens of other people. It also saved me money, as I only needed to buy an overground ticket, not a tube one. Result.

2. Go to the gym at lunchtime

Just as Londoners are never more than four feet from a rat, the same can be said for gyms. Maybe not quite as near as four feet away, but there are gyms all over the place and I had one an approximate one minute walk from my office, so I used to go there at lunchtime and spend 25 minutes on the rowing machine (you get less sweaty on a rowing machine than, say, the treadmill, so you don’t go back to work completely minging).

3. Go for a walk or run at lunchtime

On the days I didn’t go to the gym at lunchtime, I’d go for a walk down the Embankment. If you’ve ever been down there, you’ll know it’s (excuse the pun) overrun with runners, so if running’s your thing, you could squeeze a few miles into your lunchbreak (running at lunchtime never appealed to me – I’m not sure why).

4. Do a running commute

Although I never fancied running at lunchtime, I used to do a running commute most Tuesdays (other days are available). Not only do you get your miles in, it’s liberating not being tied down to public transport. London gets a lot smaller when you walk or run around it and don’t spend your life underground.

5. Take up office yoga

If you really can’t leave the office to get some exercise in, you can do yoga in your chair. Personally, I’ve never done any office yoga, but the infographic below can tell you all about it. Ommmmmmmmmmm.

Office Furniture experts Furniture at Work bring you Office Yoga with how to stay healthy at your desk and chair
Share your #OfficeYoga tips on Twitter @Furniture_Work (via Furniture at Work).

4 Things to Think about If You’re Thinking of Renting Out Your Home

cohabiting-rights

I’ve been renting out my house in London for seven years now and while the extra money has been welcome, it’s been a pain at times (the renting out bit, not the money). Here’s what I’ve learnt so far and what you should think about if you’re thinking about renting out your home.

1. Consider using a letting agent’s full management service

Because my first tenant came via the council, I received a full management service for the price of their standard letting fee (where they charge you for finding a tenant and sorting out the agreement and stuff but then leave you to collect the rent/sort out any repairs, etc.) As my at-first-perfectly-fine-tenant turned into the tenant-from-hell, this service came in handy (although, it could be argued that I wouldn’t have needed a full management service if she hadn’t been such a rubbish tenant in the first place).

Although – touch wood – my current tenants have been fine, I’ve recently had some costly repairs to make to the bathroom and the roof. Sorting out contractors can be stressful, so it’s been good to let the agency take care of this.

Of course, you might want to skip the middle man and put an ad on Gumtree and hope for the best but the letting agent will vet your tenants for you, collect the deposit and rent and arrange any repairs for you (they don’t pay for the repairs though, unfortunately). And if the worst should happen and you have to evict your tenant, they’ll do all the paperwork for you, including arranging for the bailiffs to visit the property and *ask* the tenant to leave and then change the locks (be warned though, it can take months for all of this to be sorted out – it took me 9 months to get rid of my tenant).

2. Read the agreement carefully

The letting agent will draw up an agreement for both the landlord and the tenant (and the cost of this is usually split between you). Read this carefully as it sets out what is expected from both parties. Also make sure the letting agent doesn’t try and sneak in a clause about allowing the tenant to keep guinea pigs without telling you (as mine did).

3. Get a deposit

I hadn’t realised my first tenant’s deposit was only guaranteed for two years (coincidentally, this page was missing from the agreement the agent sent me. Funny that. See above about reading the agreement carefully and make sure there are no pages missing). Because my tenant had been fine and had lived there for two years with no complaints and because she (or so I thought – I hadn’t realised she’d moved in her boyfriend) was a single parent, I let her stay there with no deposit. BAD MOVE! As soon as I did this, she became the tenant from hell. She complained about doors falling off, radiators falling off the wall, the stair bannisters being broken and I had to pay for all of the repairs, even though they were obviously caused by her as these things don’t happen by themselves. When I eventually got her out of the house and went round to check the damage, my neighbour said she’d been having parties every weekend. The (once cream) carpet was black, there were cigarette butts on the floor, and she’d somehow managed to smash the bathroom ceiling light. She wouldn’t have seen a penny of her deposit had I taken one from her. So much for trying to be nice.

4. Have some back-up savings

As you can see, letting out your home can be costly. There may be expensive repairs to make and the house may be empty for a few months while you’re cleaning up after a previous tenant and finding a new one. So, while you’re spending money on repairs, you haven’t got the rent money coming in and so you’ll need some savings to fall back on.

I’ve probably put you off ever renting out your home but it’s not all bad – I’ve had a good income from it over the last seven years and all houses need repairs done to them now and again.

 

 

This post was in collaboration with homelet.co.uk who have an ebook coming out this month (August). Here are a few ebook quick facts: 

 

  • HomeLet are launching the second edition of their ebook series that offers advice to local landlords.
  • The first edition of the ebook focused on three key UK regions (Greater London, South East and North West).
  • Issue one featured key tips from current and past landlords and had contributions from Tessa from the Landlord Law Blog, Jonathan from The Money Shed, and was featured on HomesGoFast.com.
  • It reached over half a million organic impressions online and was also endorsed by Henry Pryor, leading UK housing and property expert.
  • August’s edition of the ebook is a collaboration of top industry professionals, including useful, insightful and expert information on the effect of Brexit, the importance of good tenant referencing and using HomeLet’s unique rental index data.

 

 

 

3 Myths About Running Shoes

Asics Cumulus 15

The 16 year old goth me would be horrified

Unless you’re Zola Budd (if you’re under 40, ask your parents who she is), you’re going to need to wear something on your feet (and I don’t mean Heelys or rollerskates like the ones you can buy at Skate Hut). When I started running, I bought a cheap pair of trainers from ShoeZone for £10 and although I don’t recommend you do that, there are some common myths about running shoes. Here are 3 of them.

1. There is a ‘best’ running shoe

There is no ‘best’ running shoe – what might be best for one person might not be the right shoe for you. So, while there’s nothing wrong in asking what other people like, you’ll only know what the best shoe for you is by going into a specialist running shop and trying some on, and ideally trying them on a treadmill/running outside in them too. When you try on the shoe for you, you’ll know.

2. You have to buy pink shoes if you’re female

Yes, okay, I have a pair of pink shoes. I like pink. I spent years being a goth and only wearing black but now I embrace my inner Barbie (if Barbie was a complete scruff with dyed red hair, black eyeliner and a nosering). But, despite sports shops apparently thinking all women like pink and therefore mostly only selling pink shoes and clothing, there are other colours available, you just have to dig deep beneath the sea of pink.

3. You have to keep buying the same brand until they go out of business, or you die – whichever comes first

My first ever pair of proper running shoes were Saucony and I thought I had to keep on getting Saucony but when I went to get my second pair of running shoes, the man gave me an orange (see, not pink, hurrah!) pair of Asics. My word, were they comfy or what? Ever since then, I’ve been a complete Asics fan girl and I’d love to stay loyal to them, but sometimes when I’ve gone to get a new pair of running shoes, others have suited me better.

Haraka Trail S Women's FusciaConcord A005494_076 CAT

So, what it comes down to really when you’re shopping for a new pair of running shoes is not the brand, the colour or what your best friend prefers, but what’s right for you. Remember though, every sport has their own type of shoe and you need to buy the shoe for that particular sport – so don’t try to run in cycling shoes or football boots.

If you prefer hiking or off-road running then it may be better to buy some specialist off-road trainers like those by Hi-Tec. They’re sturdy, rugged and designed to protect your feet when walking over rough terrain. If you’re running on trails, all running shoe shops will be able to sort you out with a pair of specialist running shoes.

Infographic: Breakfast v No Breakfast

I used to smoke my breakfast. But, when I say ‘smoke’, I’m not talking mackerel, I’m talking cigarettes. Yes, my breakfast for my entire adult life until I was thirty-six years old was as many cups of tea and cigarettes I could fit in before leaving the house.

I’d like to say that now I no longer smoke, I’m up at dawn making myself a big healthy breakfast to set me up for the day. I’d be lying though because I rarely have breakfast and if I do, it’s just a smoothie (or Nutriblasts as I call them now I’ve got a Nutribullet – you can see my review of it here on my food blog) and nothing more substantial than that.

Although a smoothie is undeniably healthier than a cigarette for breakfast, it’s still not ideal but I can’t face eating first thing in the morning, despite the benefits it would bring, as shown in the below infographic.

Infographic supplied by MOMA

Infographic supplied by MOMA

 

Infographic: The Anatomy of a Golf Swing

I come from a family of champions. I won a trophy made out of tinfoil when I was about 5 for being a chess champion. My younger brother won a scholarship to go to a public school, and my eldest brother came home most weeks with trophies he’d won by playing golf.

I won my trophy by being a sneaky, devious 5-year-old and getting a book from the local mobile library that showed me how to checkmate my opponent in three moves. My younger brother won his scholarship by being a cleverclogs and my eldest brother won his trophies by learning how to play golf properly.

And on that note, I leave you with this infographic that shows you how you can improve your golf swing. If you feel inclined to improve your golf swing, that is. Personally, I’m in the ‘golf is a good walk spoiled‘ camp*.

(*I’m not really – I just like to quote stuff)

The anotomy of a golf swing infographic

Infographic supplied by Golfscape

A Poem for the Dymchurch Marathoners

After being hideously slow during the Folkestone Half a few weeks ago, I knew I wouldn’t make the cut-off for Dymchurch Marathon tomorrow so, to do my bit, instead I wrote a poem for those who are.

Good luck to Helen, Cassie, Louise, Rachel and anyone else doing Dymchurch tomorrow. You’ll have earnt those medals!

A Poem for the Dymchurch Marathoners

A marathon is a lot of miles
and I hope you’ve done your training,
because a marathon still goes ahead
even if it’s raining.

It’s not due to rain tomorrow,
although you should expect a gale,
and it’s probably best to cross your fingers
you don’t get caught in hail.

I’m sure you’ll think I don’t give a fuck
when I’m not there to say good luck,
it’s just that I’m extremely sad
I won’t be getting a goody bag.

The medal is so very cool,
you’ll all have deffo earnt it,
by running in the wind and cold
knackered, feeling shit.

I hope you like my little poem,
it only took a minute.
So go and run the race tomorrow,
and I’ll stay in the warm, innit.

The JogBlog Guide To Training For Your First 10k

Rainforest Regents Park 10

Me on my first 10k. My gadgets have got smaller since then.

If you followed my guide to training for your first 5k, you undoubtedly would have a) won it; and then b) got home and immediately started looking for your first 10k. So, here’s my guide to training for your first 10k.

Get a training plan

You may think, ‘I can run 5k, I don’t need a training plan, I just need to run a bit further’. Which, yes, is true to an extent but a proper training plan will get you running further and faster better than if you just tag a couple of extra miles onto your long runs now and again.

Personally, I’m old-school and like something I can print off so I can cross out the days I’ve done with a pen; my favourite plans being those from Hal Higdon but, if you’re not quite that old school, you can also generate an iCal file to import Hal Higdon plans into your calendar.

If importing a plan into your calendar is still too old-school for you, there are loads of apps you can use, such as the 10k Run Ready app from Kiqplan. This app contains everything you need to train for your first 10k, including advice on snacking, meal planning and how to get more sleep.

Stick to the training plan

Let’s face it – 10k (6.2 miles) is a long way to walk, let alone run, so do stick to your training plan if you don’t want to hurt too much on race day. And, while we’re on the subject of hurting on race day, when you’re running the actual race, try not to fall over a football, like I did during my first ever 10k.

Think about nutrition

The better your diet leading up to the race, the better the race you’ll have, so you might want to have a look at using sports supplements such as protein shakes and creatine (which is especially good for those of you who, like me, are vegetarian). If you’re not into supplements, just make sure you eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of protein to help your muscles recover after training. No need to be too strict though – you can still have your takeaway at the weekend; everything in moderation and all that.

On race day

Don’t worry about any special breakfasts or anything – just have what you normally have, whether that’s a massive bowl of porridge or just a cigarette and a cup of coffee. It’s only 6 and a bit miles and if Mahatma Ghandi can go three weeks without food, you can go without for an hour or so. But, although there should be a water stop during the race, you might want to take some water with you, as a 10k can make you thirsty, especially if it’s a hot day.

There are always massive queues for the toilet at races, so get there early enough for a wee, unless you’re a bloke, then you can just do it in the bushes (don’t tell anyone I said that). And if you’re a Billy-no-mates with no one to look after your bag, get there early enough to put your bag in the baggage drop too.

So, there you go then. There’s my guide for training for your first 10k. Good luck!

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