Where to learn BSL (British Sign Language) in London

learning bsl in london

Last year I completed my BSL level 1 and I'm currently studying for my BSL Level 2, so I thought I'd share some resources, if you are considering learning British Sign Language in London.

Just curious? Want a taster or introduction to BSL?

This list is not exhaustive, but proves you have lots of options if you're wanting to try some basic BSL, without committing to passing exams/assessments. You can certainly start Level 1 without an introduction course, but if you're feeling a little nervous or shy, an introduction course may provide the perfect entry into BSL. 

If you're ready to commit to studying for your Level 1, all of these colleges mentioned also offer those courses. How to choose one? Recommendations are ideal of course, but it will also depend on the time slot the session is, and how it will fit into your life. I have done both my Level 1 and 2 with Remark Training, and am happy to answer any questions you may have!

Want to get social with your BSL?

  • Remark have their FREE BSL sign club, every Tuesday evening, and it is open to everyone. You don't need to have studied with Remark. Just turn up!
  • Deaf Pub is hosted every Wednesday evening in Leicester Square, and is FREE.
  • Femaura hosts their Sign Club every Thursday, admission is currently £5, suitable from Level 1.
  • Clapham Deaf Club has weekly meetups on Wednesday, for a small fee (£1.50 - £2.50)


Tikiboo leggings review - and what size should I get?

tikiboo review

I'm now on my third pair of Tikiboo leggings (not a sponsored post but is a referral link) so I thought I'd share my thoughts on the fit, as all three of mine are different sizes/fit.

Firstly, they are thick, and perfectly good for squats and bending over. You barely see a knicker line either. So that's good to know.

They either come as a standard waist, or high/zip (higher waist with a zip pocket). I wasn't sure about size either, so in my first order, I ordered one pair which was a size Medium, and High Waist, and the second was size Small and Standard waist. It's sod's law, that of course I realised that what I actually needed was a size Small with a High Waist. I have a pronounced difference between my waist and my hips (I have a small waist and what traditionally were called child-bearing hips), and I find the standard waist can roll down a bit. I don't need the zip pocket, but I really like the height of the high waist. 

I'd say I'm currently a size 12 in most high street stores for my bottom half, and I'm happier in a size S from Tikiboo (as a guide). They're tight to get on, but they should be! I find the size Medium is fine, and I'm wearing them, but I can feel them slightly slipping down. 

My third pair then, was a size Small and High Waisted, and I ordered them in capri length, rather than the long, as the weather is getting warmer (yey). They're fab and I'll be ordering more!

My only criticism is that the designs often seem a little too childish for me, but they assure me some collaborations with illustrators are coming (unlike their recent collaborations with Hello Kitty, Mr. Men and Candy Crush). They've sold well, but really not for me. 

I also bought a Boobuddy from Tikiboo - my review is here.

Dating as a feminist

tinder for feminists

I was recently featured in Glamour magazine, which revealed our Tinder profiles, and the reason behind the picture. I was quoted as saying, "My t-shirt is a great way to weed out men who find my politics 'annoying'."

A few weeks later, I had this exchange on Bumble.

feminists on bumble

So we started with a flirty kiss, and he returned to my profile again. Then he saw the t-shirt and changed his tune.

feminism online dating

I hear my mother's voice in my head swiftly reminding me never to pay any attention to anything before the word 'but'. 

The line "...but I've found feminists are against me" literally made me laugh out loud.

bad bumble messages

I was referencing his bio, which said he was a 'sapiosexual' which technically means "attracted to intelligence'.

Feminism - your local neighbourhood cult. We sacrifice men to the higher gods, sipping on their blood.

He wasn't quite done.

men who hate feminists

I enjoyed another laugh here though, those inverted commas are pure genius, and I think I want a t-shirt. 

feminist jumper 2018

Boobuddy review - does this thing really work?

booband review.JPG

This week I bought a Boobuddy (formularly known as a Booband hence the difference in name on mine!) from Tikiboo (which is where I get my current gym leggings from too. This is a referral link, but this is not sponsored content). 

I've always had boobs. I''ve  had an okay relationship with them, as long as they're not really visible, although when I gain weight I always hate that my boobs bloom too. I really enjoyed their drop in size when I was smaller. I rarely wear tops that show cleavage, and I feel much happier when they're under wraps. I'm always very aware of them during workouts though. 

I've been wearing sports bras from M&S which I've been happy with, they zip from the front and are soft, yet firm. But I've never found a bra that actually holds them down. Enter....the Boobuddy/Booband.

booband review

I tested it the first day during a weights workout, and I was really happy with it. I liked the extra cleavage coverage it gave me too. It creates an odd shape, that we're not used to, but that can't be helped! It's doing its job!

Today I put it to its proper test - a cardio workout. And by gosh it passed. I loved how it just strapped my boobs down, but didn't feel restrictive. Perhaps for the first time, doing things like star jumps and burpee type activities, I wasn't anxious about the bounce.

I'm returning to running this week too, and I'm so pleased to have found the Boobuddy. It really works. It just does the job, without too much fuss. 

I'm now at the 3 month mark of my return to fitness, and I'm starting to mix it up. As indulgent and amazing having a PT is, its not something I can afford long term, so I'm starting to explore other activities, while I wean myself off her. It's also good to keep mixing it up, to keep your body working hard, and not getting too safe in a comfort zone.


Why do hair salons take deposits?

why do hairdressers take deposits

Deposits are a way of life, we save them for homes, leave them for holidays and hand one over to our landlord. They are either a part payment (like when booking a holiday) or an insurance policy (like when renting). So why exactly do we ask for one as a hair salon, and why do we sometimes ask for one, and other times not?

At Rockalily Cuts the majority of our clients are pre-booked. This means we're not like a barbers, or a SuperCuts, where people regularly just turn up, and ask for an appointment. People book their appointment with us, often far in advance, and they're not always local to us.  Appointments may be a simple trim, or a complex colour change that will take 6 hours. 

This means that if we have a last minute cancellation or even worse, a no-show, its unlikely we can fill that spot.

We certainly don't take deposits for all appointments, and luckily we don't have many no-shows. But we do take a lot of deposits, and it may not seem obvious why and when we do, and why and when we don't.

Have no fear, I'm here to share the thinking behind deposit requests. If you own a small business, you may want to think about why and when you take deposits too.

1. We take a deposit to reduce the risk of a no-show. It's less about punishment of a no-show, I mean £30 for a 6 hour spot doesn't even begin to cover the loss of revenue. It's to reduce the risk. If you've paid a deposit, you're much less likely to forget the booking. 

2. We take the deposit to really make you decide if you're sure you want the booking. Booking in a colour transformation can feel exciting, and liberating, but sometimes the reality just doesn't match up. If you're asked to pay a deposit, you are forced to confront this reality when booking, rather than the night before.

3. We take deposits on appointments that are often cancelled last minute. For us, this is vintage styling appointments. If you've booked a hair up for an event you're going to, its very common for the day to run away from you, and you just decide to do your own hair. These are often on the weekend too, and are spots that are high in demand. We often take deposits for these, as time has taught us that they're often cancelled with no much notice. Deposits make this much less likely to happen. 

4. We take deposits on dates that are in extremely high demand. This may be for a variety of reasons, but if a day is particularly busy, and we've had to turn a lot of enquires away, we may ask for a deposit. All no-shows are painful, but they're especially painful when there were a lot of people desperate for that spot.

5. We take deposits off clients who have cancelled in the past. We have to minimise our potential losses, and if your schedule has been chaotic before, we may take a deposit next time, to reduce the chance of a repeat offence.

These 5 reasons mean that you may sometimes be asked for a deposit, and sometimes not. It's rarely personal, it's just business.

I attended a 'Writing for Magazines' course and almost got commissioned by Stylist magazine

writing for magazines course london

At the start of the year I enrolled in a 6 week "Writing for Magazines" course, which consisted of weekly 2-hour sessions. I've certainly dabbled in writing, of course online, but in print too for some independent magazines over the years (I had a regular column in a tattoo magazine, and I've written for a few other niche mags). I've never been paid for my writing though, and I've never considered myself a 'real' writer, and never written for a mainstream publication.

So I packed my notebook and pens (always multiple) and off I went. I wasn't really sure what to expect if I'm honest. It was a pretty small class, perhaps 10 people at most, some weeks less. As always with adult classes, the attendees are delightfully varied. Some had published before, some had never even considered it before. Some had clearly defined niches or areas of interest, whereas others were more open/confused (delete as appropriate).

Confession. I'd expected to write more. This was the same for another writing course I attended at the same time at another college (Writing for Children), so perhaps this was my own misunderstanding of expectations. The classes were largely chat and conversation, with some short exercises. Each session had a different focus, from pitching to interview technique and everything in between. 

The final session arrived. Half way through I'd pitched my first 'proper' idea to Cosmopolitan, and got a warm, "This sounds interesting, let me see if the editor wants it," (she didn't but I still found the exchange exciting and positive.  I felt all a bit flat at the end, but on the bus ride home, scrolling through instagram, I saw this meme.

bald women.JPG

It sparked an idea, and I decided to pitch my idea to Stylist Magazine, which is definitely an aspirational goal as a place to be published. I mean, its the Stylist. I got a quick response, with their price per word rate, what they'd want me to include, and a deadline of a few days away. A sense of achievement washed over me. Here I was, being asked by the Stylist to write! For money!

Writing something for someone other than yourself (like on a blog) is scary. And not something I'm used to. I had to research, speak to people and write a few drafts. I struggled to keep it to their word limit, but did my best! Writing for a publication means writing in their tone, not just your own, and I have such a strong narrative tone when I write for myself that I found this an interesting challenge.

I sent it off and waited patiently. I eventually chased it, and was told they wouldn't be using it. Of course I'd half expected it, but still felt a little disappointed. However, despite that, I still felt a sense of achievement, and validation. My ideas and "me as a writer" were being taken seriously, which felt weird, and exciting. So I decided to see if anyone else would be interested in taking my piece. 

I knew it would need to be digital, as the topicality of the subject was waning, so I decided to approach Bust. They said YES! They 'only' published it digitally, and they don't pay for that, but I was immensively proud to be published on their platform. It's a brand I respect, and I read. 

Seeing my words shared to their 162,000 facebook fans, and their 70k twitter followers certainly challenged my writer's imposter syndrome. 

reeree bust.JPG

It wasn't Stylist, but it was exciting.

Head on over to Bust to give it a read now.

Monkey bars and perseverance

learning the monkey bars

Ask most adults to try and use a set of monkey bars, and I'd expect to see a lot of fear and laughter. I've been attending a local training session run by my P.T, which always ends with the monkey bars. In my small group, the women are strong beasts, and can get from one side to the other. They generally work on technique. Enter me.

My first attempt was obviously just a fail. In the coming weeks, my goal was to just hang, and I'd recieve enthusiastic claps when I managed to just stay up there for a few seconds. 

The sessions have finished now, I think I attended five, over 7-8 weeks. But last night.....I hit a massive non-scale victory. I had two attempts at those monkey bars. The first attempt resulted in me being able to hold onto the next bar, with one hand. GET IN. So I'd been able to lift one arm off, support myself with one hand, until I gripped the new bar, and so then I had one hand on each different bar. Seems so small, but blimey, it felt like I was about to take over the world.

Second attempt. I was able to repeat my removal and replacement of one hand to a new bar. Then I moved my second arm/hand to join in. And I hung with both hands, on the new bar. BOOM.

Then I dropped to the ground; let's not get carried away here.

However, my point is that we need to remember to perservere. Change is slow, and we can't rely on instant or quick changes. But change comes. We just have to keep showing up. It's also critical to have reference points, otherwise you don't notice those changes when they do come. As we all know, weight is not a great measurement (hence I don't weigh myself), so I'm a fan of fitness related markers such as these monkey bars. Just over a month ago, I could barely grip and hold my body hanging from the bar, let alone move it anywhere. Maybe in a year I will be able to get to the other side?