Top Tips For First Time Renters.

Rewind back *almost* four years and I was moving into my first student house, I was nervous to move out of the home but the excitement took over. I felt like a real adult, my mum wasn't going tell me to clean up anymore or to turn my music down. I would be in control and I could do whatever I wanted. Living in a student house is fun, but it's also nowhere near as difficult as moving into a place on your own or with my ex in my case. So rewind back again but this time to July 2016, I had moved into a new house, a bigger house and it was all mine. By this point I was ready to never live with another person again, moving is hard and getting settled with anxiety is even harder. However, I am still in that property and I am super lucky as my landlord is lovely. So I am here to share my top tips for first-time renters in collaboration with Homelet. Let me know in the comments your tips for first-time renters. 

Look around until you're sure: 
Renting a property in my opinion is never going to be your perfect house, as you are not allowed in most cases to make the changes you want to make, however, it's worth finding a place you at least want to live, if you're completely picking apart the place it probably isn't the one for you. Although it doesn't have to be a place you love for years at least make sure it is somewhere you enjoy being.

Make sure you can afford it: 
I remember when I was going flat viewing any of the ones I liked were out of my price range slightly, and even though it was only slightly that would leave me short every month. Even though the flat was nice and somewhere I could imagine myself living, the idea of worrying about money just made it not worth it. Half of the battle is finding somewhere nice within budget, but it's possible. I'd advising get all of the apps you can think of letting agencies and check them multiple times a day, something is eventually going to come up. 

Work out your bills beforehand: 
So you can afford the rent on the property, but how much are the bills. There are so many bills I didn't even think to consider when I moved in, but dependant on where you live and the factors of your living conditions these will vary for each person. But it's definitely worth working out council tax along with a rough estimate based on your previous home how much gas and electric you will use. Just to see if you can afford it. For example, heating a house is expensive and the bigger the house the more heat you'll need, it's things like that. It's worth checking how much your council tax will be prior also. Living on your own and being a student gets you a 25% discount. Which can be quite handy, make sure you advise the council of this and they will take it into account. OH and Tv license is another which nearly caught me out, I completely forgot they existed due to just watching Netflix in my student house, it's worth setting up a monthly direct debit for this so it's small chunks rather than all at once. 

Listen to advice: When I moved out and people tried to give me advice I felt like they were trying to take over my experience of moving out, however now I realise they were just trying to help. If someone tells you pieces of advice most of the time it's worth listening to. You think you know everything but really you often don't. It's great to hear other peoples experiences of moving out and their struggles so you can learn from them!

What tips do you have for anyone looking to rent for the first time? Share them on Twitter with #RentingRules!

*Collaborative post 

Tips for surviving freshers week!

September is the month in which most universities across the UK start, which for most people means freshers week! When you start university usually in the first year it can be super overwhelming as for most it is a new place, a new group of friends and you've probably just moved away from home. Most years at university end up going out for freshers week because why would you pass up the chance to get drunk and have LOADS of fun (unless you don't drink obv, then that's ok too!) In your first year it can be a lot to take in and trust me we've all been there. Getting so drunk that you don't remember the night before, ending up in tons of clubs, spending that student loan that needs to last until January (ssshhh that's not important right?). So I am here with the help of fellow blogger and good friend of mine Kim! Hopefully, you find these tips useful and thanks to Kim for helping me come up with some of the tips for this post at 23:00.

1. Make your bed before unpacking anything else, coming home after a lot of drinking can be a nightmare as it is without not having a made bed to sleep in. It seems like a little bit of a bore, however, you'll thank yourself later. 

2. This was my favourite tip that Kim gave me and it's a pretty genius, make yourself a mass amount of food and separate it into portions to last you the week. Pasta bake is goals for this and you will pretty much be living off it at university along with super noodles anyway.

3. Seek out the good clubs/places to go beforehand, if you're in a city/big town there are going to be SO many clubs to choose from and they'll all have good deals on, if you have to pay to enter you are going to want to make sure you scope out all of the good ones. Also on certain days, there are events which are better than others. People from the area/higher years should be great for helping with this. 

4. Make sure you eat, drink and sleep!
With all of the stress of freshers week and being in a new place, it can often be easy to forget to do the essential things, like eat, drink water and even sleep as you're out clubbing and then can have lectures the next day. However as boring as it sounds you don't want to get completely run down to the point where you're too ill to go out. 

5. Learn where your lectures are beforehand.
My worst nightmare is walking into anywhere late purely for the number of stares you're gonna get, it is worth looking around and finding out where to go before you start as then you'll be able to get there easier. 

6. Make the effort to talk to people!
An easy way to do this is to leave your door open and just say hi to people that are around, introducing yourself is a great way to get to know people. Learn peoples names so it looks like you are making an effort although this is a nightmare as you'll meet SO many new people. If you struggle at making friends, just smile at people and try to hang around in an area where you're likely to meet your new flatmates. Like the kitchen. One you're drinking the talk will start to flow a little easier. 

7. Pain killers are your new best friend. 
Nothing worse than waking up the next morning with the hangover from hell and having no way to cure it. We've all been there, however, if you have a stash (of paracetamol) then you're sorted. Plus you're totally the hero if somebody else you live with needs them also. 

8. Budget, budget and budget.
I remember getting my first student loan/grant and thinking god damn I am loaded and living the high life for about a week and then thinking o shit. It is important to remember the money has to last you until the middle of January. Often it helps to get a part-time job, I got one at the end of the first year to see me through the summer and then had one for a while in the second year too. It's great just to get some extra money when funds are low.

For more freshers tips check out my lovely friend Frankii's post

What are your tips for surviving freshers? 

*TW* Lets talk about suicide.

By any means this isn't a glamorous topic to talk about, however it's a real topic and it affects a hell of a lot of us. Mental health is something that we need to talk about, we need the stigma to break down and we need to be brave and stand together and fight against it. Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and it's time for us to talk. Did you know an average of 18 people take their own lives every single day? And the worst part about the horrifying stat is that it can be mostly avoided, through talking, through support. I am telling you this from someone who has been on the edge and ready to jump on several occasions. Mental illness is a fucking lonely place, I'll tell you that now. It's scary, you feel like there is nobody in the entire world who actually cares about you, your own brain starts to convince you that you're worthless, that nobody would notice if you weren't here anymore, that life is too difficult to carry on. Some of us are 'lucky' and manage to talk ourselves down from 'jumping' or have others who make us realise, but what about those who don't? What about those who are alone, or who don't feel like they can turn to anyone? What about those who take their own lives?

Suicide doesn't just affect one type of person, it can affect anyone. We wake up and take notice when celebrities take their own lives, take Chester Bennington for example, that man was a legend, he had a great career, a family and a lot of things most people dream of, yet it wasn't enough; mental illness destroyed that man, and he felt like he had no other way out. He screamed out for help in a lot of his songs, but nobody seemed to take note until it was too late. The world was gutted - me included - that someone so amazing could take their own life. But what people don't realise suicide isn't just a choice you take lightly, your whole brain turns you upside down, convinces you not to fight and when even the voices in you are telling you enough is enough, of course we are going to want to give up. We took note of Chester, but what about all those other people who also took their lives that day? Do those people even cross your mind? So many people are struggling and nobody even bothers to reach out. Your friend starts acting different, disconnected, cancels plans and is avoiding you. Don't be mad, check in. It's a lot easier to be mad, don't get me wrong, but what if they need you? What if this is their cry for help in disguise. As someone who has taken multiple overdoses, and self-harmed for the past 10 years, I am lucky to be here. I've taken so many tablets in the past that I don't even know why I've survived, but I have. I am lucky.

Don't get me wrong, there are days where I consider “what if, maybe it would be like ___” etc. However, I have my boyfriend and some supportive friends who are often able to help me out of that dark place. But what about those who don't feel like they can talk to their friends? This mainly happens to males, due to the idea of being judged and not being manly enough, and to be honest that's not okay. MEN have just as much right to talk about mental health as any other person on the planet. Men experience feelings the same way in which everyone else does, and being told to “man up”, or “get a grip” isn't helping. Mental illness is not as simple as getting a grip. Trust me if it was, so many of us would have done so by now, am I right? But do you know what makes me really mad about the situation? We tell people to get over it, assume they're okay because they seem happy, tell them everything will be fine and get on with it, but honestly this isn't enough. You wouldn't dare turn around tell people who have had a stroke to just get on with it. We already feel guilty enough, and that's why we hide our struggles but your words stick with us forever.

I understand a lot of people are scared to admit they have a problem, because who wants to be branded as 'mental' and ‘unstable’, right? I am glad the stigma is moving in the right direction, but there shouldn't be ANY. It's an illness, just like any other. Needs medication, treatment, days off, support just like any other yet people don't seem to understand until it's too late. I am asking you - if you only do one thing today, reach out to someone you haven't spoken to in a while, find out how they're doing. Make their day. You can do this. Together we can do this. We can change the world. For anyone who feels alone, my inbox is always open to chat, I am happy to listen to whatever you need, I promise. Remember there are so many numbers to call including Samaritans who are open all year round, anytime you need on the free number of 116 123. You can talk to them without feeling judged and it's nothing to be ashamed of! 

My 5 top picks for eating in Birmingham!

This post has been one I've had in my mind for a while now, I am looking at creating an exploring Birmingham series due it being one of the local towns to me and it's always great to explore places near by, and it also gives others who aren't from near the area ideas of where to go for things such as food, drink, shopping and things to do. For the first instalment as you've probably guessed from the title is all about places to eat. I have done a full length review on each of these places on the blog, but I thought I'd collate them all together and share my favourite places to eat in Birmingham. There are so many amazing places, and it was hard to get it down to just five. However part of the reason I went for each of these is not just down to how the food tastes, but also presentation, overall experience and service. Let me know in the comments if you've been to any of these places and where you'd recommend for me to add to my own to visit list. 

Jamie's Italian: 
During my visit to Jamie's Italian, I went to visit during their easy lunch so their menu was more limited then if you were to go in the evening, however the food was still amazing and the way it was presented was lush too. Served on wooden boards, cute mini table cloths and their cocktails were divine (and a little strong, oops). For 11.95 I had two amazing courses, and additionally I had a couple of cocktails, for around £20.00 I had an amazing lunch. They also do a quick and easy dinner menu for £15.95. I am not too sure if these menus are due to change but at the moment those are the prices and they were that much when I visited. I would say if you are quite picky or a vegetarian (as there is only one option) the main menu may appeal more.
Jamie's Italian 2016

Las Iguanas: 
Las Iguanas is one of my favourite restaurants ever and I have visited on a fair few occasions, I usually go pre gig as it's fairly near where I go to my gigs so I stay in a hotel near by. The last time I went and took pictures was a long time ago, so apologies for the quality of these plus at night the light in the restaurant is hard to photograph. Everytime I visit, I always get the nachos because they are out of this world. Plus they have a gluten free option! For my main it has to be Fajitas they have a portobello mushroom one and they're lush! I would recommend Las Iguanas to anyone who loves mexican food and if you have dietary needs they have a really diverse menu.  

Las Iguanas Birmingham

Handmade Burger Co (In Grand Central): 
Don't get me wrong I've tried all of the Handmade Burger co's in Birmingham, however the reason I added Grand Central to the title of this one, is it looks the best inside and has the best service in my opinion. I do find the one nearest the Bullring a little less spacious and quite compact and it ruins it a little bit for me. So Grand Central opened a Handmade burger co back in 2015, and I first went in the opening week and again have been many times since. They have the BIGGEST selection of veggie burgers I've ever seen which is always music to my ears, as often restaurants can be limited on veggie options. They also have a variety of AMAZING sides, including hipster chips and jalapeno slaw! They give you huge portions of chips at Handmade Burger, and they are always so good. You can see your food being prepared fresh and the restaurant is always clean with quick service. 

Handmade burger co grand central

Bills a great restaurant with a lovely location right in the centre of Birmingham, when I visited last year I found their menu a little restricting for a vegetarian, but I have looked online since and seen that it seems to have so many choices now (must go back!). For meat eaters there lots of choice also. The reason I added Bills on here is due to the amazing food, I had a fish finger sandwich with fries and it tasted great followed by the best brownie I've ever tasted, therefore even if you only go for a brownie and a drink I would recommend 110%. 

Bills lunch menu 2016

The Alchemist:
Apologies for the pictures in this post being purely alcohol and cocktails (even though they're pretty damn cool), I have visited the Alchemist since this however I was a bad blogger and did not take photos. Sorry. So the Alchemist, I would firstly recommend for the experience whether you're eating or drinking (or both) you it is totally amazing. You can see your cocktails being made, they come out looking amazing and the food is just as good. Again the Nachos are amazing and I would totally recommend trying the fajitas or their vegetarian platter. Both Lush. The whole building looks lovely and downstairs is an experience you need to see. With amazing art work throughout the whole building a HUGE range of cocktails you are missing out if you have not been!

The Alchemist

 Where is your favourite place to eat in Birmingham? 

I passed my driving test! + tips for new drivers!

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that last month I passed my driving test! I've been learning on and off since I was 18 and often it became too stressful to carry on after I failed my test due to my anxiety, however I FINALLY did it. If you want to read about my learning to drive experience I have also done a post on this. Since passing I have been looking into so many things for new drivers and finding out the best to get a car as well as ways to stay safe on the roads. So with the help of Tyre Plus, I am bringing you my top tips for new drivers and if any drivers have any tips for me, I'd appreciate them so much! 

1. Look around for insurance.
First things first are getting a car if you haven't already as well as insurance, lots of companies run schemes to help you get your first car and insurance as a package deal, you just need a deposit for this. Although it is worth looking into this further as some end up with you just renting the car essentially and it never fully being yours. However, this is the best way to get a newer car which is probably a safer option. If you've already got a car it's worth looking around for insurance, different factors can affect insurance like keeping it on the road at night, where you work etc. It's worth looking all of these things before purchasing. Adding another named driver with experience can often help the policy.

2. Check your tyres regularly. 
It is important especially if you're buying a used car to check the tyres are in a good condition. It's worth getting your whole car checked over. Different weather conditions can impact your tyres too, so it's worth checking everything is in working order Tyre Plus are able to fit new tyres for you at your home, they have an easy process online for you to follow, so even someone as clueless about cars as me has a chance. Some simple things for you to do yourself are things like, check them once a month or before long journeys, always have a spare and get them checked if something doesn't feel right. 

3. Take an experienced driver with you. 
For the first few drives it might be worth taking someone like your parents/grandparents or a friend who has been driving for a long time who won't distract you from driving, it is great to have support alongside you as well as someone to help out if you're a little unsure, driving can be a stressful experience this may help relieve the stress a little.

4. Make sure your car is in good working order. 
We are all guilty of putting things off, however putting off doing any maintenance is not ok. It's important to make sure everything works correctly and to get your MOT whenever it is due. During changes of season it is important to make sure your car is still in good working order, as changes of conditions can change how your car works.    

What tips do you have for new drivers? 

*Collaborative post

4 ways to make sure your blog fails!

Blogging ‘how-to’ articles tend to point out all the aspects of a blog you should focus on, but what about the things you should avoid at all costs? Let’s take a look at a few of the sure-fire ways — from bad web hosting services to poor quality content — to make your blog fail.

As a blogger, you will have undoubtedly read a whole bunch of blogging tips and articles — and if you haven’t, you should start. Although they vary in regards to content, they do follow the same pattern, which is pointing out the things you should be doing to make your blog successful. This is all well and good, but you could follow their advice to the letter and still be unsuccessful. Your downfall will be crucial errors that can and should be avoided, but are rarely talked about online.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the blogging mistakes that are all too easy to make, so consider this a ‘how-to’ guide to make your blog fail. Avoid these key points of blogging at all costs!

1. Inconsistent Blogging
The early days of blogging are always very exciting. You’ll have an endless stream of brilliant topic ideas, your content will be planned and written to the utmost quality and you’ll have no issues uploading posts consistently. Fast forward to a few years later, when it’s natural for your well of topics to run a bit dry, and uploading multiple posts every month may have become slightly more difficult.

While this may give you more free time and less writing to do, your loyal audience will be starved of fresh content and be forced to look elsewhere. This isn’t to say that you need to upload a post every week without fail, but a few posts each month is vital if you’re going to maintain your audience’s attention and give them a reason to visit your site.

2. Poor-Quality Web Hosting Services = Bad Website Performance
With so many blogs online and niches being covered, it’s essential that your blog performance is at a high level. If you visit a blog and it takes forever to load, navigation is clunky and the whole experience is quite a tiresome affair, there’s not much chance you’ll be checking it for updates regularly. 

Poor-quality web hosting services can cause all of the issues mentioned above. When you first created your website, you will have purchased website hosting to get up and running. The problem is that in the early days when your budget will have been tighter, most people opt for the cheapest web hosting packages available. Doing so could leave you with a web host that’s incapable of providing you with a decent service.

This can lead to slow loading times, cyber security issues and unexpected downtime. All of these cause problems for your blog on a day-to-day basis, as well as long-term issues like the amount of visitors your website receives. If you’re concerned about your current website hosting services, it’s a good idea to reevaluate and consider upgrading to a more reputable hosting company.

3. Completely Ignore SEO
Blogger or no blogger, if you have roamed the internet any time over the last few years, you will have stumbled upon the term ‘SEO’. It stands for Search Engine Optimisation and relates to marketing techniques in content and web copy that help your site rank higher on search engines.

Good SEO practices are including keywords in your content (choose popular keywords relating to your niche), structuring your posts to make it easier to read and including backlinks to prove to search engines that the topic is relevant and backed up by reputable sources.

Optimising your content by applying the techniques mentioned above will not only relay to search engines that your site is of the highest quality, but will make you improve as a blogger by getting into the habit of embracing SEO, too. Also, to reiterate our second point, blogging consistently is great for SEO, because search engines love fresh content.

4. Bombard Your Audience with Adverts
Blogging has come a long way from its original purpose — which was basically a digital journal — and now can be a money-making platform. There are a few different ways to do this, such as sponsored posts, affiliate programs, product reviews and advertisements. The latter is one of the most common ways to make money with minimal effort, but too much can quickly ruin a blog.

A website has plenty of room in the header, footer, and sidebar(s). A common use for this space is to advertise various companies in exchange for money. While this is ideal to make some extra cash, going overboard and turning your site into a barrage of adverts will be very off-putting. Not only does it distract your readers from your content, as well as look awful, but it conveys the message that your blog has become nothing more than a money-making tool.

*Sponsored post 

25 thoughts whilst playing The Sims | Lifestyle

So I found this post in my drafts and from months ago and it made me laugh so much I thought you guys needed to read it. The following post is just a bit of harmless fun and my own personal thoughts which I've had during times of playing The Sims. Let me know in the comments what thoughts you have whilst playing The Sims.

1. Why does work always come around so quickly? Let me stay at hoooome.
2. You need food AGAIN. Are you me?
3. Why do you smell so bad that green stuff comes off you...
4. Why is it so quick and easy to have a baby?
5. I need to hire me a live in butler, like now
6. I wish shopping was this easy in real life
7. Why does kissing more than one person make you have a reputation?
8. Where do they wash their clothes?
9. Lifetime wishes are a nightmare!
10. Sims sleep far too much

11. Stop putting your child on the floor in the park.
12. Why do you want to skinny dip so much??
13. Why does EVERYONE ask you if you want to go on dates?
14. Relationship, Engagement, Marriage, Child all in a few days... go for it!
15. Why isn't my house this nice?
16. I want to be able to go up to everyone and talk to them, pls!
17. 434 simelons an hour!!! Make it pounds and I am so down.
18. How do they get raises so easily, give me a raise!
19. Which expansion pack to buy next?

20. It's got to be pets right?...
21. Who even buys the town one?! OH yeah that's me... ITS AWFUL.
22. Who knew thinking of names was so haardddddd.
23. What on earth are these graphics?
24. Oh hai, Grim Reaper nice to meet you.

What thoughts do you have whilst playing the Sims? 

My experience on the contraceptive injection.

It's now coming up to three months since I walked into see the nurse practitioner at my doctors, I have had a very on off relationship with the pill and like most people it made me a hormonal mess. Despite this I wanted to be on some form of contraception and have never had the guts to ask about any other forms, so I've just gone along with the pill. When I walked into the nurses office and sat down she was the sweetest lady ever and I just blurted out I want to talk about my contraception options and she was so helpful, asked me what I'd tried before, what I would try and what else was out there. 

She went through my options and I was leaning towards the implant, but curious about the injection, I hadn't heard much about it at this point, however she said it could done that day, was basically painless, is more the 99% effective as long as it is done within first 5 days of your period and redone before the old one wears off and lasts for three months! (This depends on the type of injection as there are different ones however you will be advised of this but most is 3 months). The little bit of a catch is the fact it is injected into your bum cheek. I was slightly concerned about this, however I went along with it. The worst that can happen is it stings a little and for someone covered in tattoos I can't really moan about pain too much. Needles freak me out usually but obviously I couldn't see it, so I was all fine. She told me to take in a deep breath and within a few seconds it was over. I assumed it was on both sides but it was just the one and I was in shock that it was that easy, no pills, no worrying about it for the next 3 months. Then and there she gave me an appointment for my second one which is coming up in a few weeks.

At first it ached a little, probably for three or four days. I had fairly bad mood swings for the first week also, but that is literally it. I was warned for the first injection I may experience a little bleeding from time to time which has happened, but it is honestly the tiniest bit. I was advised after my second injection I wouldn't have anymore bleeding and no periods, which made so happy as mine are SO painful. However all it means is you need to use condoms for the first week. I've hands down found my experience so far on the Depo injection super easy and will definitely be getting it for the future.

A few pieces of information to bare in mind about the injection before getting it:

  • Once it is in, it's in so you can't do much about it if you're having a bad time, unlike the pill/implant you're stuck with it for three months.
  • Like all contraception you can get bad side effects at first. Which can be a little worrying, however they soon pass.
  • It can take up to one year for your fertility to return back to normal, so not good as a short term thing if you are thinking of planning a family soon.
  • Can make your bones weaker, so if you have any issues around this, this probably isn't the correct method for you. 

I'd totally recommend this to anyone looking for a new form of contraception as it is so easy to be done, and a great alternative to the pill. If you have any questions I'll happy answer them on Twitter or in the comments!