Reviews

Posts including a review of a product or event

Help needed: Ironing out the kinks

As you know I ran a bit last weekend…OK it was a mere marathon, but when I headed out for my next training run on Monday my legs felt a bit on the heavy side. This got me to thinking that it was a while since I had last had a sports massage to iron out the kinks and keep everything moving smoothly.

Unfortunately I haven’t got a regular place to go since the local place failed to call me back after numerous messages when I was last in need. A real shame as they were within walking distance and this made it quite convenient. As someone who has their own business I like to try and support local businesses, and other entrepreneurs when I can. So I thought I would give a new app I had heard about a go. Enter Bidvine!

BidVineBidvine is a new local services start-up and it has a handy iOS app which I downloaded onto my iPhone (Android coming soon). The concept is simple… you chose the service you need, enter in the relevant details and then local suppliers review this and bid for your business. You have the opportunity to connect with the bidders to discuss things in more detail if you need to, and then you chose the right fit for your needs. What better way to support local people and businesses?

The app is really easy to navigate. First choose the type of service you require from the presented options, or just type into the search box. The services are really well broken down into granular detail, so if you aren’t quite sure of the search term you can easily browse and see what resonates best with what you are looking for. There seems to be sections for all sorts of crazy stuff, including Pokémon Go Walking and Wardrobe Organising!

BidVineOnce you choose your service, you enter your post code and answer a range of questions relevant to the service. For my sports massage query, these included questions like the reason for the sports massage, the regularity that I might require it and whether I wanted someone to come to me or whether I was happy to travel (and how far). You also get to choose the level of urgency for your need.

The request gets submitted and relevant suppliers get notified of your request so that they can decide if they are able to meet your needs on the timescales you require.

Straight away I received a warning that they didn’t have many relevant suppliers for sports massage logged in my area. It was actually nice to have this heads-up (and to be honest I expected it as I haven’t managed to find a good one locally in my previous searches). They promised to drum up what they could and would forward bids as they came in, with a deadline 4 days later.

BidVineSo that was it, just a case of sitting back and waiting (or in my case doing a few more short runs with lead legs). Unfortunately on this occasion Bidvine weren’t able to find me a match, but given they are a new company and are probably signing up more main stream category suppliers more easily (cleaning, decorating etc are I am sure all well represented) I don’t see this as a failure. It gives them an indication of a need in an area and will help the team know what areas to target as they build up their supplier database.

I will definitely give Bidvine a go for other services as I need them. At some point we’ll need to get our windows cleaned, and so I think I may give them a shot for that too. It’s going to be a nice way to try and shop local without having to do all the leg work myself. It’s almost like a service concierge service and I think it will be a brilliant service as it gets more established.

Crystal Crazy?

I’ve always had an affinity to stones and crystals.  At the Science Museum I love the gift shop section that has all the tumble stone pebbles, and I have a malachite necklace which has the most amazing patterns on it.

It’s hard to say why I like them, or whether I believe in their healing powers, but what I do know is that the patterns in the stones make me happy.  Perhaps it’s because whilst I love the floral part of nature from a distance (flowers often equal sneezes!), with rocks and crystals I don’t suffer any ill effects.  I can enjoy the way nature takes the elements and makes them into such different substances, all with their own unique look and feel.

CrystalifeI was recently sent a review piece by Taylor at Crystalife as we were chatting about the benefits of crystals and how you can incorporate that into gemstone jewellery.  He suggested that they may be beneficial for me on my long races.  I mentioned that I really like hematite and tiger’s eye as stones, but I guess that they can be trickier to make into the style of handmade pieces that Taylor does.  The necklace I received is a clear crystal (I believe it’s clear quartz but have been unable to get that confirmed) and is hand-set in what appears to be copper (you can tell this by the finger print in the setting).  It’s certainly a unique piece as crystal, although shaped into a hexagonal drop, still has the chips and imperfections you can expect in some crystals.  From my reading, clear quartz is a stone that absorbs energy and then releases back at the wearer (rather than other stones which have their own “powers”), and so I will need to be really careful with it as I don’t want one race’s negativity bouncing back to bring me down in a later race.

Whether you believe in crystals or not, I am sure you can believe in the placebo effect, and so if I believe something will work then there’s a high possibility of it working….if I am negative about it then likely a negative mindset will kick in.

The power of positive thinking is definitely something I believe in, but sometimes my positivity gets carried away (as I demonstrated at the Moonlight Challenge).  It’s also something I have seen work well in others too.  When the Boyf’s mum was diagnosed with a brain tumour (thankfully successfully treated), I bought her a small crystal angel at the Munich Christmas Market.  She took it to hospital and placed it on the side so it could watch over her.  She recently let the angel to a friend who was going into hospital, so that it could watch over them as well.  A simple act like this can make someone feel loved enough that it improves their state of mind and this in turn can help whatever treatment is taking place work better.

If someone wants to get well, then thinking positively about the outcome is certainly going to make them feel a lot better than focusing on everything that could go wrong.

AngelsI’ve recently bought myself some little angels from the Wisdom of Wellbeing shop, they’re keeping me company on my desk right now.  Mostly because I like the stones they are made of, but also because who doesn’t need a bit of extra luck or super-power to improve productivity, abundance and prosperity!  The teeny-tiny goldstone angel is said to enhance drive and ambition, whilst the larger opalite is for soothing frayed nerves and providing inner peace and calm.  Sounds like the perfect home-office combo to me.

Whether or not they have actual super powers I don’t know, but they add a bit of colour to my room and I like them….so there’s my mood improved right there!

Do you have any crystals or stones that you keep in your room or in your pocket?  Do you have them just because they look pretty?  Or because you feel some kind of benefit to having them?

When it’s not the Moonlight that’s Challenging

SVN Moonlight ChallengeWell that didn’t go quite to plan!

On Saturday I headed down to Kent for the SVN Moonlight Challenge. This was on a new course for me (and SVN) and with loops of about 10km and an 8 hour cut-off, so I was hoping to get about 33 miles done. I love running in the dark, so was looking forward to this race as it ran from 4pm to midnight, giving me plenty of time in the dark to practice running with my head torch.

SVN Moonlight ChallengeI set off and settled into a pace that felt good, I was comfortable, not pushing too hard all felt great. I got the first lap done in 75 minutes, perhaps slightly fast, but I was feeling good and after a quick pit stop I set out on lap two. Again, I was running on feel….bimbling along happily and enjoying being outside in the fresh air!

This was the first mistake! Running by feel and not following my Garmin stats…I was sticking to my planned 4:1 run/walk strategy but running faster than I should have been.  I just didn’t realise it! Lap 2 was done, I grabbed fresh Tailwind bottles and headed out for lap 3. I decided to try something different at that point (testing pace ratios for my upcoming 50 miler) and decided I would do a lap at 2:1 to see how that panned out.

SVN Moonlight ChallengeHere comes mistake number 2! Shortly into lap 3 my temperature spiked & I knew I was working too hard. Since I was only running for 2 minutes at a time, not 4, I had subconsciously picked up my pace! I dropped pace and tried to settle down but the damage was done. It probably didn’t help that I had a small backpack on, making it hard for my upper body heat to escape, but as there will be days when I have to wear a pack to carry mandatory kit, I need to find a way to balance the practicalities of racing and my internal combustion issues.

Throughout lap 3 I was struggling to keep my temperature down, and my stomach under control (lesson learned – increase in core temperature definitely causes my emergency poop reflex! Thankfully I managed to do the loop without needing to stop on the side of the trail!).

As I ran I was trying to distract myself from thinking too much about needing a pit stop. I was busy listening to my music, and for once had it on the All Songs playlist. It’s funny that there are so many songs that you have loved in the past but forgotten about, that crop up when you least expect it. It made me think that I should probably listen to more music at home. At the moment I only listen to music when I run, but I think that when we eventually get our own house I might look into getting a wireless music system put in. I’ve seen these Panasonic Wireless Speakers that look really cool, so I’ll be adding them to my list of possible purchases when we have the space and the cash! Maybe then I’ll be able to remember what music I have available and get some new playlists prepped so I don’t listen to the same 30 songs over and over again.

SVN Moonlight ChallengeThings weren’t going great and in the final third of lap 3 I did a quick check of my heartrate, it showed as being up at 200bpm…..oops!!

The Boyf caught up with me at that point (as he was on lap 4) and I brought him up to date, but let him know I was OK and would just be taking it steady on my 4th lap (needed to get the marathon distance). When I got back to base camp the Boyf was there waiting for me! He wanted to make sure I was OK and when he knew I was going out again he sacrificed his race plans and decided to do the lap with me. We set out nice and steadily, mostly on a 1:1 run walk, but at a much slower pace than I had been doing. Anytime I felt like I was struggling we slowed down and took it easy. All in all things went well and by the time we hit the last road section to the finish I was able to put in some solid running without stopping to walk. I had finally got my temperature back under control (or my body knew the end was in sight) and we managed a sprint(ish) finish for me to get in and ring the bell at 5:51:39.

SVN Moonlight ChallengeI could have gone out for another lap, I had over 2 hours to walk 10km to get my planned 33 miles, but there didn’t seem to be much point in possibly stressing my body further. Instead I got changed and relaxed whilst the Boyf headed out to get his 6th lap of the day done!

All in all, I have learned that using my Garmin IS beneficial! If I had been watching my pace then it is likely I would have slowed down straight away, I would have been running well within my limitations and not gone crazy when I dropped to the 2:1 intervals and probably would have stayed pretty cool and managed to get 33 miles done comfortably!

So note to self, if you think you’re going slow enough, slow down! And use your Garmin!! I’ll be making very sure I stay very slow at the upcoming Fowlmead 50 race…..here’s hoping it works!

New branding, new business cards

With my recent development of focus on getting the Tailfish By Pyry Etsy store up and running, and the fact that I have joined the Female Entrepreneur Association and the Awesome Business Club (it’s all about self-development don’t you know) I realised that I am probably going to be meeting more people and attending more networking events.  I also realised that I needed to make sure I am able to share my latest contact info when I am out and about.  So the desire for new, more relevant business cards was born!  Luckily this coincided with a review opportunity when auraprint.uk contacted me to offer the chance to design my own business cards, in exchange for a review.  Perfect timing and not one to say no when the universe throws shiny things at me I said yes.  All views in this review post are honest and my own!

Of course, before you can have business cards you need to have a bit of a ponder on your branding, and it was at this point I was glad I stumbled across the Business Beautician (a fellow Awesome Business Clubber) who was offering a brand quiz on her Instagram.  It was simple, fun and the output reinforced some ideas I had about Tailfish, both the blog and the store.  She gives a great little summary printable highlighting key points too align with your brand’s personality and one of the highlights was around font use.  So I used this to design my new Tailfish logo, and decide on the fonts I wanted to use for that and the text on my new business cards.

Auraprint.uk are a small firm based up in Huddersfield and they were great to work with throughout the process.  I had decided that I wanted to use their Impakt Colour Core cards as the basis for my new business cards.  There are 6 colours available and I went with red, not only because I love bright colours, but I felt it would work well with the plans that were forming in my mind.  The cards can be printed on a double-sided basis, which gives you plenty of scope to be creative.  I decided to go with a big, bold logo on one side and my contact information on the other.
Orange is for Tailfish
As part of my logo design I had used the Adobe Capture app on my phone (free if you have a Creative Cloud account) and used this to choose my colour palette.  This resulted in me choosing a bold orange for the logo, and a greenish colour for the contact font.  The awesome thing with the app is it then gives you the colour codes of each colour (in a range of formats) which is great from a design perspective as it enabled me to be really specific with the information I was giving the auraprint team.

As part of the ordering process you load your design files to the site, providing details of how you want things put together.  I tested them to the limit by being very specific on the colours I wanted, but also tried to help them as much as possible by providing the files of the fonts that I wanted to use.  I also asked if they were able to use social media style icons on the cards, rather than using words to highlight which contact info related to what.  Once they had all the details of what I wanted they scurried off into action.

New business cards from Auraprint.ukThey pulled the design together and sent a proof through for review.  I was really impressed!  The colours looked great, the fonts were exactly as I had requested…there was a minor typo though (and to be honest I wasn’t surprised, everyone always spells Kathryn wrong) and I had become Katheryn.  No bother though, I let them know of the error and it was quickly corrected.  A fresh approval proof was issued and we were good to go.

A couple of days later the cards arrived, 4 boxes, well packaged and looking great.  They were exactly what I had asked for and the quality is spot one.  The cards are really thick and feel nice to the touch, the coloured centre really makes them stand out too.

They also received positive feedback from others when I was at the She Means Business book launch on Wednesday night.  Everyone I gave a card to really liked them, the sturdiness and solid feel received positive comments and the coloured centre really made them stand out from the crowd.  The information is clear and I think they are a really good representation of my brand!  I can’t wait to go to more events and share them with people.
New business cards from Auraprint.uk
From end to end, the auraprint team were a pleasure to deal with, you can really tell that they care about design and printing and I am sure if you had any questions about how the process works, or needed advice on how to best plan your business cards or other design needs they would be more than happy to guide you.  At the moment I don’t have plans to professionally print my printables, but if I do decide to change that in future then I would definitely get in touch with them and see how they could help bring Tailfish By Pyry to life even more.  Please do check them out if you are looking for new business cards, let them help bring your brand to life too!

An Audacious Approach to Aqua Acquisition

You may have noticed that I like running, I also like supporting other runners and that means that this year I have a few weekends pencilled in where I will be taking care of other runners rather than running myself.  I am always on the lookout for items that are going to make my life easier whilst I am out and about, so I was stoked when Audacious Rhino got in touch to see if I wanted to review one of their flasks.  I was given a free flask in exchange for me testing and reviewing it for them.  As always all views are my own (and you know I am a bit on the fussy side).

I went for their 800ml Camouflage flask because if I am going to be in a car hopping from place to place for over 24 hours I want as much hot water with me as I can, that extra 300ml could make a big difference!  It has a nice rugged feel to it, with a strong handle and an additional strap that you could use to tether the flask to a rucksack if you were on the move.

Audacious Rhino 800ml Camouflage FlaskI really like the outer design, it has some sneaky inclusions like a rhino image and a heart….but it definitely isn’t girly, in fact I doubt anyone would notice it if they weren’t looking.  The flask itself has a wide neck, which means you can easily fit ice cubes in it.  This is going to be essential for me as I plan on using it in summer races so I always have a stock on ice on hand if I start to over-heat.  After last year’s issues I want to be as prepared as I can to keep my core temperature down and allow me to get a long, long run done.

I haven’t tested out the claim that cold drinks stay cold for up to 24 hours, but based on my heat tests I have no reason to doubt it.  I’ve been using the flask in an “in office” test as I haven’t had any races in the last week.  This has meant I have been filling it up in the morning and feeding my herbal tea habit over the course of the day.  The fact that it has a pop-up top means that you can pour the hot water without fully opening the flask.  This must help keep the water hot for longer as you aren’t letting cold air in all the time.

Audacious Rhino 800ml Camouflage FlaskI also did a test where I filled the flask before bed, and then used the water in the morning.  It wasn’t boiling, but it was certainly warm enough that if I was tired and needed coffee that it would be hot enough to drink!  All in all I was very impressed with its heat retention properties!  The cup that comes with it is also sturdy and holds a decent amount of water (something that can’t be said for my 500ml flask which would barely make an espresso in the lid).If you want something a bit more subtle, or don’t need such a large flask, you’ll be pleased to know there are also smaller, more understated designs in their range. You can check them all out on the Audacious Rhino Amazon store.

What are you waiting for?  These are great flasks, perfect for use on the move, or at home…I can now happily keep myself supplied with tea throughout a day of back to back conference calls!

Audacious Rhino 800ml Camouflage Flask