Review: What every blogger needs in her handbag

Being self-employed means that you should be able to work from just about anywhere, depending on your business or what you need to achieve on a particular day.

In theory, when you’re working on admin, social media or doing any website-related work for your business, you should be able to work anywhere…and thanks to technology that’s possible. But there can be some restrictions, and I’ve got two must-haves that go with me on my travels from cafe to wherever.

Keeping watered with the Corkcicle Canteen

It may seem a little weird to talk about this next product, but like good wifi, it’s good to keep watered! I am absolutely in love with the Corkcicle Canteen. This has come second to my mobile phone in terms of what I must leave the house with. This is essentially a vacuum flask, but you can carry it with pride as you won’t look like a bird watcher when you’re carrying it. I love the fact that it comes in a range of colours, and is so dinky – I can carry it in my average-sized handbag with all my necessities inside it. They come in three sizes – mine was the 16oz white canteen, which is the middle size.

Corkcicle tumblerYes – you did read right about it fitting into my bag. I am going to give a disclaimer at this point about leakage, but I can say that this Canteen has never leaked. It is so tight once closed fully, that I’m not sure gas molecules can enter it.

The Corkcicle Canteen manufacturers say that it can keep hot drinks hot for 12 hours and cold drinks cold for 24 hours. In my experience with this vacuum flask probably keeps drinks warmer for much longer than this. I often make a brew early in the morning, go on the school run, run errands, come back and forget that I’ve got the drink with me and it’s still piping hot when I come back. This is such a life saver because us mums know how easy it is to get absorbed in the work and forget to hydrate, so you won’t be chucking out cups of tea or coffee – it won’t be cold or rancid when you remember.

Apart from workig mums, this is great for new mums who need to have hot water to hand when it’s feeding time. If you’ve ever been caught short when your baby is screaming for food, refuses to drink luke warm milk but can’t get water that’s hot enough to warm the milk, you should consider the Corkcicle Canteen.

Prices start at £20 for the smallest size, the medium-sized Canteen costs £24.99 and the largest costs £30 and you can choose your preferred colour and size from the Root7 website.

The new Pocket Slim Filofax Lockwood in Aqua

Pocket Slim Filofax Lockwood in AquaSpace in my small handbags these days is like gold dust. I’m really over the ‘mummy handbag’ period when I used to carry a shopper-style bag everywhere so I wouldn’t forget everything, but lose everything at the bottom anyway. I’m over it, and the shoulder bag is my favourite accessory these days.

That’s all well and good, but when you have an A5 Filofax, it can be a bit of a challenge to squeeze it into a tiny shoulder bag. I don’t compromise when it comes to staying organised, and the calendar and notes apps on my mobile swallow everything up like a black hole, so I’m really not so keen on depending entirely on modern technology!

So, when Filofax came knocking and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the Pocket Slim Filofax Lockwood, I was very eager!

I’ll be honest and admit that I’m not used to small, dainty things. Everything I buy seems to be in the biggest size – my iPhone is the Plus version, my iPad is the 12-inch Pro version (this is huge!). The reason: big fingers. It really does start with the biology of my makeup, honest!

Pocket Slim Filofax Lockwood in AquaSo, while my handbag was happy – the aqua Pocket Slim Filofax Lockwood is only a bit smaller than my said iPhone Plus – I was worried that it would be so small that I wouldn’t enjoy using it. I’ve always steered clear of the pocket-sized Filofaxes for this reason, but the one I was sent is also slim to boot, so it is smaller than the usual pocket size organiser. I’ve steered clear from them in the past because there’s nothing worse than struggling to write in something that’s too small, or not having enough space to write when you need it. But, I can say that it really depends on what one’s priorities are. A big organiser that has lots more space, but which the whole world sees whenever you pull it out as if it were a weapon, or something that’s a little more discreet (bar the aqua colour) is a personal choice.

If you’re a regular reader of Mothers Who Work, you’ll know that I’m an avid Filofax fan – I’ve been using them since primary school, and my collection boasts about 20. The quality is something that I expect – because of the brand, and the Lockwood doesn’t disappoint. For the price (£65), I would have expected more texture to the faux leather, but they do make the Croc versions, so if texture is a must, I’d highly recommend that one. It could be because my daily Filofaxes are the Saffiano (in gold) and the Limited Edition Temperley Guinea, which both have a lot of texture to them, especially the latter.

So, while it is dinky in size, the Pocket Slim Filofax Lockwood does have a card insert and two deep pockets on both the inside and outside covers. This is great for storing receipts or important bits of information without clogging up the actual organiser.

One important factor for me is enclosure – I always want to be able to close my organiser – remnenber what I said about those big shopper bags? I really don’t want to risk anything falling out. This Pocket Slim Filofax Lockwood doesn’t have a zip or a clasp, so if there is one thing that would make me think twice about buying this, it would be that because I’m a creature of habit. But, it won’t stop me using this. There is a pen holder, which I wish was a clasp to close the organiser, but hey!

It’s not uncommon for true Filofax lovers to use more than one organiser at a time -hands up if you’re with me? I use one for home and one for business, and it’s the business one that so huge! I’ve been looking at this vibrant, aqua organiser and I’m tempted to swap my A5 for it for a month or so to see how it feels. Can I go down from an A5 to a pocket slim without pulling my hair out? I guess you’ll have to wait and see!

Grab your Pocket Slim Filofax Lockwood from the Filofax website.

A good internet connection with the Netgear Aircard 810

Netgear 810 and Corkcicle TumblerIn theory, you should be able to sign in to a hotspot from just about anywhere. Most cafes have wifi, but whenever I go to Costa, Cafe Nero or Starbucks, after a while, there is a whole gang of other like-minded people all connected to laptops…and the wifi, so it often falls down. There’s nothing worse than having to battle just to get onto slow wifi connection. That[‘s if it works – sometimes, the wifi is actually down in some cafes – can you imagine?

I’ve often had to tether my MacBook or iPad to my mobile phone, but that’s quite restrictive because it means that I have to be careful about what I’m doing – YouTube is out of the question because an hour or so of that would wipe out a significant amount of my mobile data. That’s a big no-no because I must have enough to get emails in as a they come in, and so I can tweet and update my Facebook pages as I need to.

So, instead of griping, I went on the search for a decent mobile hotspot-producing gadget that’s more effective than the cheap mifi (mobile wifi) devices on the market. And in walked Netgear’s AirCard 810. It’s about two-thirds the size of an iPhone, but a little thicker, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space in handbags. Without getting too technical, it uses 4G technology to provide 600 Mbps downloads, which you can connect all your gadgets to – actually, it can connect 15 devices to it.

I’ve used it for an entire morning in Starbucks this week to test it out and the battery stood the test of time. The technical specs say that it will last for 11 hours on full charge (which is like lightning speed to do, but the way) so you really can go out with this gadget for presentations, in the park, or anywhere and be assured that you won’t be let down by other people’s wifi.

The only snag to this is that you need to use a SIM card for it – so you’ll have to get a mobile broadband SIM. I used the SIM from my iPad to test this out – it’s much more stable than using the iPad’s mobile hotspot and the connection is much stronger, so it makes a lot of sense to do it this way.

This gadget isn’t a bank breaker, but it isn’t cheap – £179.99 is the RRP, so it’s an investment buy. But, if having a decent internet connection means a lot to you then you more than get what you invest in it.

Written by Joycellyn Akuffo

Founder and editor of www.motherswhowork.co.uk, a mother of two wonderful children, wife, entrepreneur (check out www.geekschool.co.uk) and journalist.

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