Review: iPhone SE 16GB

So I decided that I’d review my iPhone, since I’ve had it for a few months now. First, let me start by saying, I’ve never owned any Apple product before in my life. I had no idea what to expect when I bought this phone, and I only went by whether it would do what I wanted it to.

I spent ages looking through phone reviews of Sony, Alcatel, Samsung Galaxy and some weird brands I’d never heard of. The thing was, they were all very, very expensive or the reviews implied they were incredibly crap BY DESIGN. Seriously? Who spends R&D money designing a phone to be awful? The iPhone SE was the only phone at the mid-range price point. I’m not really interested in paying £400 or £500 for a phone, and when some phones were selling at up to £900, they can fuck right off. I didn’t spend that much money on my LAPTOP and that was essential for working.

I bought the 16GB phone rather than the 64GB phone for one reason: Price. The 16GB was £289.99 second hand (unlocked) and the 64GB one was over £400.00 at the time (they’re probably a little cheaper now), so it didn’t make sense to spend so much extra money. If you’re the sort of person who likes to store films and music and whatnot on your phone, you might want to get the bigger phone. I upload my photos regularly and I don’t tend to download many apps, so the 16GB suits me because it’s realtime data (eg. mapping, Facebook and Snapchat and Kindle for iPhone) that I need my phone to handle. The iPhone SE does these things comfortably, without an overcomplicated interface or installation system. I had never used an Apple phone before, and I was amazed by how easy it was to get everything to work straight out of the box.

Another thing I like about this phone is that there are a lot of nice phone cases available for it. I currently have a Cinderella phone case with moving glitter inside that’s like having a snowglobe on the back of my phone. I also have one that has the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter. I really love that there is so much scope to customize my phone and make it look unique.

The camera is quite good; not as good as my DSLR, of course, but it gets some nice pictures when I just want snapshots of things. The front camera is only 2.1 Megapixel and I thought that would be awful compared to the 8MP camera on my old Huawei, but Apple have done a lot with a little and the camera is better than the 8MP one I used to have, and the colors on things come out much more accurately. The normal camera is 12MP and both cameras have produced decent shots.

I also liked the battery life. People complained about it, but given that I’m used to my old Huawei Ascend’s battery lasting less than a day on a full charge when I don’t even use the internet on it, I was pleasantly impressed that my iPhone lasts 2-3 days on a charge, even though I have Wi-Fi or Mobile Data switched on pretty much 24/7.

The thing that stood out the most though was the commonality of it. When I was choosing a new phone, I literally asked everyone I met about their phones. So many people were cursing the day they spent large amounts of money on their Android phones, but everyone with the iPhone SE was telling me how much they liked it, and showing me how it worked, and so on. Everyone with an iPhone SE was happy to spend the time talking to a complete stranger about how well their phone handled Pokemon Go or how many photos they’d stored on it. I liked that, because I figured that if anything went wrong with my new phone, there would be a hugely supportive and knowledgable community of iPhone users who were able to help me out.

In fact, every time I’ve not known how to do something on my phone, my friends with iPhone SEs have showed me how it works. Usually, it’s because I’m used to everything being over-complicated on my previous Android phone, and I haven’t found a single thing that was harder to do on an iPhone. It’s nice when one little aspect of life is a bit easier. I don’t like overcomplicating things; my brain does enough of that anyway.

So, after 5 months, I’m finally ready to recommend the iPhone SE. If, like me, you want to get a second hand phone, Amazon are selling a few reconditioned iPhone SEs in 16GB and 64GB like this one.

If you already have an iPhone SE, I highly recommend the Kindle for iPhone, because it lets you read all your ebooks on your phone (and if you don’t own a Kindle, I also recommend the Kindle for PC free app from Amazon to read ebooks for free).

Cleo died on Sunday

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a little while. It’s been an extremely difficult month, then last week I finally had a week where everything seemed ok, although I was purposely avoiding the internet last weekend because I can’t stand seeing Mother’s Day crap all over the place (even before my parents died, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have always been the worst four days of the year. I wish the UK and US holidays would synch up so I only have to go through half the heartache each year… guess it’s another argument for emigrating). I was going to catch up with everything after that was done. But then, the whole universe had to fuck off again because our oldest bunny, Cleo, died on Sunday. She had just turned 12 years old.

She died peacefully, in her favorite spot in the living room; beside the food bowl. Barely half an hour earlier, my Dearest had fed her some carrots. She’d been having a bad morning but she was still wandering around and showing an interest in all her favorite things, right until the very end.

We have buried her in the garden with Banacek, because they were a bonded pair before he died.

The strangest thing is, about three nights ago, I went to the bathroom and when I came out I looked in on Timmy in his bedroom, and I swear Cleo was sat beside him. It was the weirdest phenomenon. I don’t know if it was wishful thinking or a trick of the light that my brain interpreted or what, but it wasn’t just a shadow; it was a brown rabbit with pert ears and bright eyes, snuggled up with Timmy.CLEO

Night night, little bunny. We will miss you so much.

£250 Car Update

So, remember how a few days ago I bought a car for £250? Yeah well I promptly fell in love with the little rascal and of course it’s got a lot of problems. Here’s what’s happened this week so far:

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Update Monday:

Biggest thing it needed was a new fuel tank. My usual garage was fully booked, so I took it to a Big Chain. BIG MISTAKE. They’ve had my car since Thursday, I even phoned ahead and told them exactly what was wrong with my car before I took it to them, because I only wanted to drive it once to get the fuel leak fixed. Well they basically wasted three days umm-ing and ah-ing and they kept telling me they’d call back within half an hour, and every time I phoned an hour after they said they’d call (every time, literally about 6 phone calls over 4 days, I paid for every one because they couldn’t be bothered to call me), a different person stated the bloody obvious – that my car needed a fuel tank. I was like, hello? I told you that on WEDNESDAY EVENING when I phoned ahead to make sure you could fix my car, because it didn’t say anywhere on their website that they could do this job and I wanted to check I wasn’t wasting my time before I brought it in. I could have taken my car to a different place and had it repaired by now. I’m still waiting for them to even give me a quote on a fuel tank, and all this time, they’ve had my car (and they’re baffled on the steering)!

Their excuse on Thursday was that it was the end of the day (they’d had it 4 hours by then), their excuse on Friday was they were short staffed. On Saturday, they couldn’t get a price from the dealer (didn’t they know that on Friday? Because on Friday they promised they’d have a quote on Saturday). They were closed on Sunday. Now it’s Monday. At 7:30am I managed to get hold of Fiat and get a quote on a Seicento petrol tank. It’s a shocking £550 for replacement fuel tank and lines from Fiat. That will have a £250-ish service charge added by the garage. I’m still waiting for Big Chain Garage to do what they said they’d do by Thursday and get back to me about this.

I’m pretty sure they’re not really this disorganized.

You know why I think they’re messing me around? It’s an old car. They don’t like fixing old cars. Old cars get bumped to bottom of the list of priorities, because they think they can’t make as much money out of you as they think they can make out of a newer car owner. Garages literally decide how much you can afford to pay based on your car. Sometimes, as an old car owner, they’ll quote you a crazy high price to make you go away. I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re going to do next with my Seicento.

I’ve been on the other side of this when I had a top of the range VW Golf. Every service at Evans Halshaw (had to have them to keep the warranty valid) came back with £500 of fake repairs. Every time. Of course, joke’s on them because it caused me to get rid of the car, and now that I don’t have a warranty with them, I’d never buy another car from them or their affiliates, and I’d never take out a warranty with a national car chain ever again.

I’ve been up all night stressing about this damn problem – I have to go to Oxford University on Thursday for a conference and I don’t even know if my car will be back from the garage by then. Of course, if I’d known my car wouldn’t be functioning (and there was no reason for this situation, it’s a couple of hours to change a fuel tank, I’d do it myself if I didn’t have three huge projects due next week that I need to finish early due to that conference), I would have bought train tickets. But now tickets cost £100 instead of £40 because it’s less than 7 days before I need to travel. If Big Chain Garage hadn’t messed me around, I could have taken the car to somewhere else, got it fixed, or I could have drained the fuel tank, kept the car on the drive while I waited to take it to somewhere else and bought train tickets. Instead, my petrol’s pouring onto their forecourt (CLEARLY not safe) and I’m STILL without a car.

They’re ticking quite a few boxes on this dodgy garage checklist already.

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Monday afternoon:

Long story short they told me they couldn’t get a petrol tank (lies; I phoned the parts place and they had one, it was just ludicrously expensive. I think Big Chain just really didn’t want to work on my elderly car), then refused to let me have my car back (it was “unsafe” for me to drive it, but they were happy for “some guy they knew, who could fix my car” to collect it without telling me who or where), so I ended up conning them out of my own car by turning up and telling them I was taking it somewhere for someone. It was disturbingly easy to steal my own car; security is distinctly lacking. Poor car.

The lack-of-power-steering problem that Big Chain Garage couldn’t find in 4 days? They told me they thought the power steering unit had been removed. I was certain it never had one, Seicentos have electric steering assistance rather than true power steering (but what do I know? I only read the owner’s manual and checked online for Seicento power steering issues, after all). When I got the car back, I looked under the bonnet and saw, right beside the battery, a fuse or relay with a picture of a steering wheel on it. Well clearly that can’t be anything to do with my steering issue.

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Update Tuesday:

I got a petrol tank delivered by next day delivery from eBay and took it and my car to a garage this afternoon. I think my car may be at a Mafia chop shop. This place doesn’t even advertise that they do car repairs, they’re allegedly a car wash, but they will fit parts that you’ve supplied, so I hope they don’t wreck my car. I’ll find out in the morning as they’re keeping it overnight.

I did also ask them to look at the oil pressure switch for me, but I’m not sure if they will or not. The engine block is literally covered in oil, and more disturbingly, the engine says “Renault Clio” on it. My car is a Fiat Seicento. The usual little plaque in the car (telling me the VIN and engine number) isn’t where I expected, so I’m a bit unsure as to whether this car is legit or not. Good job it’s getting fixed at a garage that literally asked no questions.

Normally these are things I would check when buying a car, but this was a £250 car, a full £120 less than my previous cheapest ever car (that one got 10 miles down the motorway then the engine exploded. I don’t have high hopes of this car getting me to Oxford on Thursday), so I really don’t have any expectations.

Car still also needs new tyre on one side as the tyre wall is cracked. Acquiring cheap tyres is a bit hit or miss; sometimes car places will do them for free, sometimes they’ll charge you £80 per tyre. I don’t know how to tell between the repair places who will do the latter and those who will do the former. I’ll sort the tyre out when the car isn’t leaking petrol and oil.

This saga will continue, I’m sure.

I bought a car for £250.

Can you buy a £250 car
This car cost £250.

I bought a car for £250 from Auto Trader.
I wanted to know whether it was even possible to buy a car for that sort of price that would start and work (also, it fits the engine size requirements for the Mongol rally… or at least, it did before they revised them again. Fuck it, maybe I’ll drive the car to Mongolia without putting my name on an official list. ANARCHYYY!!!). It was being sold by a complete stranger. Getting a car for that price from a friend isn’t the same. Before I left home, I took out £30 insurance to cover 24 hours, ample time to get the car home, from where I could assess how bad this car was. Then I took a friend with me and we went on the bus (I don’t currently have a car) to inspect this car. There was literally one bus a day that went to where the car was for sale, so we took that one. If the car hadn’t been able to get us home again, we would have been in a pickle.

My friend helped me check that all the lights were working, then I took it for a test drive.
Reversing was almost impossible, because the steering was in serious disrepair, and it was worse at low speeds. The front door doesn’t close unless you reach around the door and push down the external handle while you close the door. It was too dark to really see any of the mechanical stuff so after verifying that it did, in fact, start and drive, I gave the former owners my £250 and took it off the premises.
The petrol light was on when I got the car, so my friend and I took it straight to the nearest petrol station and put £15 in the tank. I never fill the tank on a new car; I prefer to hedge my bets in case it breaks down halfway down the road (as happened a few years ago with a £399 car, which to date is the lowest amount of money I’d ever spent on a car, and it didn’t make it 10 miles away from the place I bought it before the oil pressure switch exploded).

Getting the car manouevred to the petrol pump was entertaining; some jackass had driven in through the exit and thought I in my crappy Seicento should get out of their way. Joke was on them because I was unwilling to reverse due to the steering issue. They literally waited, glaring at me, until I had fueled my car and I ended up driving around them to get my car out. Even with a steering issue, that Seicento had a very small turning circle; I was impressed. There were like five more cars behind me at that point and they were all facing the same direction as me, so jackass got boxed in by them pretty quickly. I circled the road around the petrol station to get to the air, as one of my tyres was virtually flat, but there was no way I could get to the air because of the angle and position of the air machine, so I gave up and went the 15 miles home without seeing to the tyre.

I dropped my friend off where she wanted to go, then I took my car home and parked it on the drive. I was so excited – I got my driveway re-designed in October and this is the first time I’ve gotten to park on it, as I haven’t had a car since June (the choice in October was fix the drive or buy a car). Then I slept and had a series of anxiety attacks as I’d run out of mental energy for anything. The next afternoon, in broad daylight, I decided to tackle the most urgent job: getting rid of the stickers that were obscuring the rear window. After ten minutes with a jug of boiling water, a scraping knife and a generous helping of Fairy liquid, I finished the stickers. The whole time I was doing that job, I could smell a very strong scent of petrol, so, after taking care of the flat tyre with my trusty footpump, I got down under the car.

I wish I’d taken a photo of the fuel tank (and the stickers on the back window), but I was too preoccupied trying to get the thing to a garage after I saw what was down there. The petrol tank was leaking like a sponge, and some genius previous owner had encased the tank in some sort of latex rubber. Everywhere that the latex had torn, the rust was fatal. This was a job for the professionals. I tried to stem the bleeding with some Leak Fix – that two-part putty that you mix together then cover over holes in the petrol tank after cleaning them up – to give me some temporary relief before I could get it to a garage, but there were too many holes.

I’ve tried to fix a petrol leak on a previous car, I got as far as removing the petrol tank from a donor car and discovering that the donor car’s tank was nearly as bad as the one on my car, before I had to admit defeat. I know the fuel system, how it works, etc, and I have never seen such a ridiculous kludge of a fix as the latex around the petrol tank of this £250 car. I don’t know who thought that was a good idea or why but I want to shake them, hard. And the previous owners must have known about that leak because I lost 1/8 of a tank of petrol overnight. The worst leak was right at the place where it goes into the fuel line (that carries petrol to the engine), so there’s no way you could miss that.
It’s been at a garage for over 24 hours now and I don’t have a quote on the petrol tank or steering repair yet.

I thought this could be an interesting project to keep everyone updated on: The car that cost less than my iPhone. And my iPhone was second hand. I’ll let you all know when I find out what’s happening with the car. Hey, if we can get it fixed up, maybe I’ll take it to Mongolia! Or something.

Leave-In Conditioner Review: Tigi vs O-Pro

I bought these two hair products, Tigi Sleek Mystique and O-Pro Leave In Conditioner Detangler, from Amazon several months ago and it’s taken me a while to get around to reviewing them. I suppose it’s because I wanted to make sure I’d used them enough, and it’s hard to tell during winter whether the conditioner is doing a great job or not.

Tigi Catwalk Leave-In Conditioner (left) and O-Pro Leave-In Conditioner Detangler (right). review
Tigi Catwalk Sleek Mystique Hair Prep Spray (left) and O-Pro Leave-In Conditioner Detangler (right).

Firstly the Tigi Sleek Mystique hair primer. I had really high hopes for this one, but in the end it was a spray bottle of hair goo. It was never going to change my life and I shouldn’t have expected it to. It did make my hair slightly smoother but the effect only lasted for a few hours. My hair is normally very dry, and this means that I usually don’t skimp on conditioner. I thought using this as well as my normal conditioner would leave my hair silky, shiny, and like one of those girls from a shampoo advert.

It didn’t come close. It made my roots hella greasy, even when I only sprayed the ends of my hair. I do wonder whether it was being pulled up the hair shaft by osmosis, but the truth is I really don’t know. Then there was the fact that none of the damn product seemed to stay within 4 inches of the ends of my hair, where my tresses needed the most help. Even when I sprayed some of the Tigi Sleek Mystique into my hand and ran it through the tips of my hair, I still didn’t have any success. I think this was supposed to actually be a hair primer but I don’t really know what that is, and it had very similar ingredients to the O-Pro leave-in conditioner, so if it looks like a horse and smells like a horse… beauty companies will still stick a label on it claiming it’s a unicorn.

Then it made my neck itch after a fortnight, so I gave up on it. It’s been discontinued by Tigi since I bought it so I can only conclude it was a fad product that never lived up to customers’ expectations. That’s gotta be harsh, I mean, what expectations does anyone even have of a hair prep spray?? What, exactly, was it supposed to do? As a sidenote, if you want to prep your hair properly for hair chalk, use dry shampoo like I did in this video.

The O-Pro leave-in conditioner and detangler fared better. It stayed where I put it and it made my hair feel less dry at the ends. I liked the fact that it made my hair softer and more manageable, and this feeling lasted for two days before my roots started osmosising the product (technical term), at which point I washed my hair and the whole thing started again. Two days seems a respectable amount of time for a spray-on product to behave itself. Allegedly, it contains “organic protein” and the cynical side of my brain wants to know if they mean protein from organs (e.g. sausage… EWWW) or from some mysterious rainforest plant. Who knows? It’s not really something I’m super-curious about, but if you are, it has this feature.

Overall, I’d say the O-Pro Leave-In Conditioner Detangler left my hair in better condition and it seemed to be working for a little while longer than the Tigi. There was the added bonus that it didn’t make my neck itchy either, which was nice. I loved the scent as well, and the spray nozzle was easy to use, unlike some I’ve tried where they start to leak liquid down the bottle while I’m using them.

Out of these two, I would definitely recommend the O-Pro Leave-In Conditioner Detangler, as it was noticeably better.

Review: ROC Retinol correxion sensitive night cream

I’ve been trying a few different face creams recently and two have stood out as phenomenal. I don’t use the term “Holy Grail” usually, because I think it’s a bit of an exaggeration about most things, but when it comes to skincare, ROC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream and Olay Three-Point Regenerist day cream are now my Holy Grail products.

ROC retinol correxion sensitive night cream for sensitive skin.
Packaging of ROC retinol correxion sensitive night cream for sensitive skin.

I bought ROC retinol correxion sensitive night cream from Amazon back in December and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s been a great addition to my usual skincare routine!

How the box says to use it: The instructions on the back say to use ROC retinol correxion at night, going two nights with cream then taking a break for two nights before using it for two more nights, and so on, until your skin gets used to it, then to use it nightly.

How I use it: I’ve been using it two nights on, two nights off for the last 6-8 weeks and I don’t feel ready to use it every night yet. Why? Because it’s effective! It’s working perfectly for me so why go overboard?

ROC retinol correxion sensitive night cream tube review how to use
ROC retinol correxion sensitive night cream tube.

The immediate effect: When I first used this on my skin, it seemed to enlarge my pores and make my whole face look dry for about two days, then it completely settled down again and now my skin looks better than ever.

The long term effect: After about three uses, my skin got used to it and I found it seemed to be re-drawing my skin (I honestly don’t know what the word is, it was like an IRL photoshop airbrush) smoothing over all my fine lines and making my skin look more vital. It’s been completely amazing! It contains retinol which is drying to the skin so make sure to use a good day cream and maybe even face oil as well!

Negatives: Retinol increases your skin’s sensitivity to UV light, so make sure to use a sunscreen during the day when you use ROC retinol correxion night cream at night. I try to always use SPF-30 or above anyway, so it’s another reason to wear sunscreen. Also this stuff does nothing against blue circles, but that’s fine because the Olay Regenerist 3 Point day cream does.

The scientific bit: It contains Retinol which is a form of vitamin A that stimulates collagen production in the skin.

The packaging: It comes in a box with a clear window so you can see the tube of cream. Inside, there’s a plastic tray to hold the cream in place. I’d like to know if the packaging is recyclable or not.

ROC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream is available on Amazon.

Manuka Doctor Api Nourish Night Cream

So I completely put off writing this review for 3 months. Sometimes when I get a product that I was really looking forward to, I can’t wait to review it. This time, however, I was so disappointed and I felt like I wanted to make sure this cream had the fairest hearing it possibly could before I reviewed it.

On that note, I’m going to keep this fairly short and sweet.
1. It didn’t moisturize. For a night cream that’s pretty fatal.
2. It didn’t improve my skin. It was supposed to tighten and tone skin but I found it did nothing. Bee venom usually tingles on the skin; this did nothing.
3. It didn’t have a great texture. It was just too thick, it was more like a near-solidified jelly and it sat on my face like a layer of tile grout or spackle.

Given those three points I decided to stop using it in favor of some of the other creams I’ve been trying on my face lately, such as the Olay Regenerist 3 Point Cream, the Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream, the Manuka Doctor Replenishing Facial Oil, and I’ve even had better results with the bog-standard Aloe Vera Gel from the pharmacy (I can’t remember if I’ve said but this stuff is like plant botox). If I had to rank the Manuka Doctor Api-Nourish Night Cream (with purified bee venom) against all those other creams, it would be at the bottom of the list. I’m not even going to Amazon link it because (and I don’t think I’ve ever said this about a product in the 2 years I’ve had a beauty blog) it was a complete waste of money and didn’t do what they said it would do. Maybe I got a dud, but when cream is £29.99 for a jar, they shouldn’t be making duds.