Rob Wiblin wrote a list of things he recommends buying, taking after another list written by Sam Bowman. I found both lists useful and have bought items from both. I thought I’d write down a few things that I think are worth buying that people may not have heard of before.
Milk frother – £5
Rob suggested to get your coffee from McDonalds. I want to go one step further and say that some milk/almond milk heated up in the microwave (about 1:15 for a single cup) + instant coffee frothed with a milk frother is pretty close to the McCafe experience. The texture added by the frother makes a surprisingly large difference in how good the coffee tastes.
Mosquito bite zapper – £22
As someone who attracts mosquitos, this bite zapper removes the itch from bites very quickly. It applies a couple of seconds of intense, bordering on uncomfortable, heat to mosquito bites. I am not sure the mechanism through which it works (may even be placebo) but I swear by it.
Dark sky weather app – £3
Short term rain prediction is quite accurate these days in places with enough radar coverage. The Dark Sky app lets you see when it is going to start or stop raining in the next hour which can be very helpful, particularly if you you are cycling.
I set the alarm to warn me of impending rain and if I see rain coming I will often depart to my next destination quickly if it looks like I can beat the rain. E.g. if it’s 3pm and I get a notification it will be raining at 3.40pm I may leave work early and finish my work day from home.
Light alarm clock – £70-£140
This alarm clock gradually lights up the room over time before an audible alarm starts playing. I have the light set to gradually increase of 30 minutes and find that the light wakes me up about 20 minutes into the light phase. The experience of waking up is much less jarring than with a regular alarm. I tracked the price on camelcamelcamel (an Amazon price tracking tool) and got it for about £80 when it’s usually £110. Right now (24 Dec 2019) it’s only £70.
Computer stand for improving posture – £50 (or less)
I used to hunch over a laptop a lot. Now I put my computer on a Roost Stand so the screen is at the right level. My posture has improved and I no longer get a sore upper back. The Roost Stand doesn’t seem to be on Amazon, and although there are plenty of cheaper alternatives on Amazon, friends who have bought the alternatives have always been a little jealous of the Roost. One advantage of the Roost is it seems a bit sturdier, slimmer and folds up a bit tighter which is good as I keep it in my backpack ready to use in a hotel lobby or cafe.
I have a macbook so I pair the Roost with an Apple keyboard and a XXXX mouse.
Bike with saddle/pannier bag + wet weather gear
Cycling isn’t for everyone, but cycling to work (and avoiding the London tube) was an important part of my London day to day.
An annoying thing about cycling is getting caught in the rain and then being wet and uncomfortable wherever you end up. To mitigate that I always carry wet weather gear and a change of clothes. I have a pannier rack on my bike, and a pannier bag with the following items packed at all times:
Kindle + Audible paired with Whispersync
Very few of my friends seem to know about Amazon’s ‘Whispersync’ functionality which allows you to alternate between reading the same book on Kindle and listening to it on Audible. I will often listen to a book on Audible while commuting to work and read the book on kindle at night.
Unfortunately you can’t use your Audible membership to take advantage of this — you have to buy the Kindle version of the book on Amazon and buy the Audible accompaniment as an add-on at the same time. Sometimes the Audible accompaniment only costs a few pounds extra, and sometimes it is many multiples of the book.
OSMaps – Free trial or £25/year
OSMaps (aka Ordinance Survey Maps) is an amazing app/website that allows you to see walking paths through the English countryside. It contains paths that you will never find on Google Maps. I have planned a number of walks from train stations to pubs through the countryside. Here’s a one-way route I plotted between two train stations in the North of London
My recent experience with Taotronics wireless earphones have been a little mixed, but I still consider them great value headphones for running and everyday life. They have good battery life, are relatively cheap and stay in my ears (unlike Apple headphones). I had a pair that lasted 3 years with heavy use, including going through the wash twice until I lost them. My only gripe about the new pair is that while my old pair seemed to turn off automatically if they didn’t receive any audio, the new pair stays on indefinitely which often leads to them going flat.
These walking paths exist mostly due to the UK’s ‘right to roam‘ which grants access to the public to footpaths through otherwise private land if the public has been consistently using the path over time.
Muscle Rolling stick
This ‘muscle roller stick‘ is a great self-massage tool
Blender + protein powder
The most valuable change to my daily routine in 2019 is making the same smoothie for breakfast every weekday. I blend a frozen banana, frozen berries, protein powder, spinach, milk (cow, soy or almond) and water with a stick mixer. It’s healthy, tasty and very quick to make.
I chop up a week’s worth of bananas and put them into a single ziplock bag in the freezer. I use chocolate protein powder from bulkpowders.co.uk who perpetually have a sale on (don’t accept anything less than 20% off).
Before I started this routine, I often skipped breakfast or had a less healthy breakfast. Now I never skip breakfast and drink less coffee.