Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The Pros and Cons of a Backpack

After years of being perpetually wonky from carrying a full bottle of water, purse full of copppers, notepad and at least a couple of books around with me at all times, I decided a few weeks ago to make the switch to a backpack for work.

I'd dipped my toe in the backpack water over the summer when I bought a light backpack for holiday and I absolutely loved having both hands free and being able to go on long walks without feeling lopsided, and realised the perpetual fear of being robbed was mostly unfounded.

But after seeing a few stylish backpacks around the office, and accepting that my big black bag was 90% receipts and tissues, I decided to take the plunge.

I asked my Twitter pals for recommendations and got a list together of the best options (people love their backpacks!) and had a look at a few different options.

In the end I went for this backpack from Amazon as it seemed a similar style to the Anello backpack which was recommended to me, but at only £17 (ooh it's £20 now!) it was a good opportunity to try out if I liked it without a huge investment. I went for classic black, and I liked that it had wire inside to keep it open (more on this later).

It arrived the next day and instantly I loved it. For less than £20, it looks really smart and it's huge, and the straps are really comfy.

But it's definitely been a learning curve but here's what I've found so far:


  • I love having both hands free
  • I can fit everything in it, including my lunchbag, so I don't have to carry any other bags
  • It's good to have all the weight of my bag on my back, and definitely makes me feel less one-sided!
  • It looks cool!
  • It has a cool little side pocket for your water bottle (two, in fact!) so you don't end up with a water bottle leak and everything inside getting soaked (this has happened to me SO many times!)
  • There's plenty of space inside and I can get my work laptop in it
  • I like that it has a top handle too for carying
Mine has a zip on the back (the side facing your back) so you can get things out without taking it off (I haven't tried it yet) and also wire inside to keep it open which is quite cool.


  • Taking it on and off takes some practice!

  • Having to take it off to get anything in or out. I know this is an obvious one, but so far it's definitely testing my patience! I have to lock the front door, then take it off again to put my keys away, get my bus pass out, then when I get to the bus stop I have to take it off again to get my book out! Otherwise I'm just carrying everything to the bus stop which doesn't seem to be the point!

  • I find myself switching bags at the evenings and weekends. Normally my big black (scruffy, falling apart) "work" bag is my everything bag, and I only change into a different bag if I'm going somewhere specific. Now I find myself switching to a smaller bag for going to the cinema or to someone's house or for dinner, which I wouldn't normally do. A backpack just feels too big and not smart enough to carrying around as a handbag, to me at least. This is good because it means I am using all my other bags, but I know I'm going to leave something important in the wrong bag at some point!

  • It has to be completely zipped up at all times. This is where the wire gets annoying. It's useful that it holds the bag open, but it means you can't just nip in and grab something - you have to open the whole back. This is partly just a design of my bag, but having to have everything zipped up is applicable to all backpacks.

  • Even though I use it for work, I don't feel comfortable bringing it to really important work stuff

  • I have to make sure I'm aware of the space behind me!
I know that seems like a lot of cons, but I knew a lot of people who love their backpacks and I think it would have been useful to know the downsides of using a backpack too! I really love mine and will definitely carry on using it for work, but I am really glad I didn't spend too much money just yet!

Overall, I love having everything on my back with both hands free, and I'm really happy I found a style that I think still looks smart, but it's definitely a learning curve when you're used to just dipping into your bag to grab something!

I hope this is useful if you're thinking of switching to a backpack!

Charlotte x

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

September Life Lately

Everytime I start writing one of these I think, flipping heck this month has gone fast! But then when I start looking back on everything I've done over the month I realise how long a month is!
Here's what went on in September:

What I've been doing
Wedding planning seems to come in bursts - we have a few weeks of doing very little, then suddenly loads comes at once! This month we got absolutely loads ticked off!

At the start of September we had a lovely day in Macclesfield with Phil's Mum and sister helping Phil pick his wedding suit. It's funny because I watched Phil go through the exact same thing I went through picking my dress! Initially he was really excited and keen to try anything on, then he got tired, and then he got frustrated and then he got sick of everyone making him try things on! But the trip was a success and he chose his wedding suit (eeeee!) and a few weeks later we went back and chose the combination for the groomsmen and Dads. This was a big one ticked off, especially as I wanted Phil to choose his suit before I started looking at bridesmaids dresses so I can start looking at getting this big one crossed off soon!

On the same day we also went to a bakery which we've chosen to make our wedding cake! Yes, we did get to taste the cake!

This month I also booked the makeup for myself and my bridesmaids and we also booked our wedding transport. Oh and we also went to the travel agent to discuss our honeymoon! We're pretty much sorted with what we want to do and where we're going for our "megamoon" (and have a few ideas for our mini moon) - we are SO excited!
This month also brought my 150th parkrun! I've been so excited to hit a new parkrun milestone after running my 100th last year. We always run our milestones at Heaton Park as they have bibs you can wear for your milestone runs, and everyone was saying congratulations to me as I ran along! I've already checked there's a 200 one I can wear next year.

I also got a parkrun PB at Heaton Park which led the way for three parkrun PBs this month! I had no idea I'd got a PB until I got my text as I'd misremembered my PB time, and then I looked at my Wilmslow parkrun personal best and thought hmmm, I could beat that. So the following week I ran a 40 second PB at Wilmslow parkrun. But I knew I could do a little bit more, so the last two weeks I've asked Phil to help pace me to get another PB. Two weeks ago Phil's watch wouldn't charge and we missed a PB by a few seconds, but this week, thanks to Phil's amazing pacing, I scraped a PB by 9 seconds! 
In other running news, September always means Stockport 10K. This was the first race I ever ran in 2013, and I've ran it almost every year since. It's a tough, undulating course (seriously, my second mile was 2 minutes slower than my first as the whole mile was a steep uphill climb!), but I finished feeling good and I'm really excited now for my next half marathon in less than 2 weeks.

This month was also sponsored by board game nights and street food markets (we did two of each this month!).

Where I've been

As a late Father's Day present, I took my Dad (and my Mum, and Phil) to Dino Falls adventure golf. It was crazy busy but a gorgeous day so we didn't mind standing around in the sunshine waiting at each hole. It was so much fun (the dinosaurs ACTUALLY MOVE!) and really well done (even though I lost!)
Another highlight this month was going to see Deborah Frances-White at Manchester Central Library (one of my favourite places!) launching her book The Guilty Feminist, based on the brilliant podcast. She read from her book, did some stand up and did a Q&A, and it was so amazing and empowering to be around so many badass feminists! She also took the time to sign our copies of her book. I've been a fan of hers and the podcast for a few years and went to a podcast recording last year, so it was incredible to meet her!

What I've been reading

I think September might have been my absolute best month for reading, not only in terms of the number of books I read, but the quality. I am sure many of these books are going to make it into my favourite books of the year.

I read 10 books in September (and I'm half way through two more!), bringing me to 67 so far this year. Here's what I read this month:

Everything I Know About Love
The Guilty Feminist
Normal People
An Unremarkable Body
Skin deep
Us Against You
The Tidal Zone
The Necessary Marriage

Everything I Know About Love is one of my books of the year. I read it in a weekend and it was beautiful, nostalgic, funny, sad and unputdownable. I cried when it was over.

Similarly, I read Deborah Frances-White's The Guilty Feminist in a weekend. A few of the stories I knew from the podcast, and some parts she read at her signing, but this is the book I want to give to every woman I know.

In fiction, Sally Rooney's Normal People was everything I wanted it to be. I loved Conversations with Friends, but I haven't stopped thinking about Normal People since I finished it three weeks ago. It's one of my favourite fiction books of the year so far.

Honorable mentions to An Unremarkable Body and The Tidal Zone, which I really enjoyed. Transcription was brilliant but nowhere near close to my beloved Behind the Scenes at the Museum or A God in Ruins, and while it was great to be back with the characters and town of Beartown in Us Against You, I found the sequel a little over-the-top, schmaltzy and lacking the quiet subtlety of the first book (though I will, of course, keep reading any future books in the series).

What I've bought
As a owner-but-rare-user of not one, not two, but three Ottolenghi books (Plenty, Plenty More and Jerusalem), I definitely fall into that category of people who love the idea of Ottolenghi's recipes but most of the time are far too intimidated! So of course I was intrigued by Simple. I've made a few recipes so far that have been good, but I haven't decided yet if I'm going to do a review, so watch this space.

This month I also nipped into Asda for a loaf of bread and came out with a stripey jumper. No regrets. It was a tenner.

What I've been watching

As a surprise-that-I-accidentally-figured-out, Phil took me to see Gravity in 4DX this month. I'd only seen Gravity on a teeny TV screen so it was more to get the wow factor of it on a cinema screen. The 4DX was fun too!

At home we watched The Master (not enough Scientology), The Apartment (hey who knew old films were really great? See: All About Eve) and Halloween (as part of our only-watch-horror-films-in-October-but-let's-start-on-30th-September).

And we've also started Gavin and Stacey - which I've never properly watched all the way through, and The Good Place, which I am loving so far!

What I've been loving

Phil's Auntie Jane (HI AUNTIE JANE!) is over from Australia and we both love Ottolenghi, books, amazing food and podcasts, and she told me that I had to listen to The Teacher's Pet podcast and tell her what I think. Well, I am 6 episodes in and I haven't listened to anything else since because I am completely hooked. If you are into true crime podcasts, this is your new obsession.
Guys, it's autumn and I am basic. Sorry not sorry. I went to Aldi the other day and squealed when I saw they had all the squashes out. I then proceeded to run towards our trolley with my arms full of pumpkins, much to the amusement of the shop assistant.

Speaking of autumn, I implore you to make this mac and cheese. You can thank me later.

What I've been reading online

The Pool - Being a woman means being good-greedy or bad greedy

Cooking on a Bootstrap - Stop throwing away your food

The Pool - The sudden concern about Tess Holliday's health is a big fat lie

The Pool - It's okay to sweat the small stuff - sensitivity is a super power

NY Times - Never cook at home

Medium - Bubble baths are for washing, not for fixing mental illness

Cooking on a Bootstrap - Jack Monroe's student essentials for under a fiver

The Pool - How to hold onto that holiday feeling

Wit and Delight - Stop being intimidated by these stupid things

The Times - Dolly Alderton on why she's done with dating

The Cut - Why it's so hard to stop reading books you don't like

Biscuits and Blisters - 25 things I unapologetically don't care about now I'm 25

Real Clear Politics - Tracey Ullman hosts woke support group

Little Winter - 29 things I've learned in 29 years

The Guardian - The Guardian review of lengthening books

Highline - Everything you know about obesity is wrong

Buzzfeed - 21 tweets you'll enjoy if you're frankly exhausted by men

What I'm excited for

October brings our pre-wedding photos which I'm really excited about, and my next half marathon (desperately hoping a few days of being ill and one missed long run won't make a difference to my fitness!). The 13th will be 6 months til our wedding so I'm hoping to get a few more things ticked off, and I reckon we'll book our honeymoon!

We've got a few days of annual leave booked in for October and we've got a few nice things in the diary with friends, so I think it's going to be a great month!

Charlotte x