Wednesday 12 January 2022

My 5 Best Buys of 2021

As a change from my usual blog topics, this week I’m sharing my five top purchases from 2021. One way or another, they’ve made their way into my life and feel very much at home here! I’ve listed the items in the order I bought them.

1. NRS Healthcare F19959 Divan Overbed Table

After balancing my work laptop on my knees since the start of lockdown in March 2020, I finally splashed out on a table in February to make working from home a little more comfortable. It’s sold as a “divan overbed table” and is the kind you might find in a hospital ward, but it’s perfect for me to work at. At 60 cm x 40 cm (23½ inch x 15¾ inch) it’s large enough to take my laptop, phone on its stand, notebook and pen. It’s very stable and adjusts in height. You can also tilt the table top, although I keep it horizontal. I’ve added a large bulldog clip to one side as a hanger for my headset, and to manage the cabling. When I’m not working, it doubles as my writing and crafting table, both of which are much easier now I’m not balancing things on a lap board across my knees!

Amazon listing for details.

2. Samsung Galaxy A8 Tablet (Wi-Fi, Black)

It’s no secret that I like my gadgets. I’m rarely off my phone, and have a PC, an ageing Chromebook, a Kindle Paperwhite, and a number of accessories including a Bluetooth headset and keyboard. I don’t collect gadgets for their own sake, though, and rarely spend money on something unless I’m sure I’ll have a use for it. I’ve no great interest in a smart watch, for example, because there’s no gap in my life it would fill. My phone (a Samsung Galaxy S9) is several years old, but unless it breaks or its performance drops significantly I’m unlikely to upgrade. For a long time, I felt the same way about tablets. I could do pretty much everything I wanted to do on my phone, and I had my PC for the rest. I rarely stream movies, and the only games I play work very nicely on my phone. What use did I have for a tablet?

I draft almost all my blog posts on my phone using my Bluetooth keyboard, both at home and in cafés and coffee shops. It works well and my new table means I can use this setup more at home of an evening when I might previously have used my PC. The only downside is that I found myself getting eye strain at times from working for long periods on the small screen of my phone. I began considering a tablet as something that might meet a need, and finally in April I bought a Samsung Galaxy A8 tablet.

I have to say, it’s more than met my expectations. It’s significantly less responsive than my phone, especially when switching between apps, but it performs brilliantly for my purposes. I can write for long periods without eye strain, and it’s also proven excellent for video calls. I use it most evenings for my Skype calls with Fran, which means I’m no longer tied to my PC and desk.

Amazon listing for details.

3. Lixada Crossbody Bag

This purchase counts as a success for the internet advertisers! You know how it goes, you click on something that catches your eye, after which you keep coming across adverts for it on websites and social media! In this case, though, I’m glad I followed through, finally buying one of these crossbody bags in September.

My regular EDC (every day carry) kit is pretty large (see Every Day Essentials for the Successful Blogger for details of what I take with me on trips out). I replaced the Lorenz bag described in that article with a larger AlwaySky bag in August 2020, but sometimes I don’t need or want to take my full EDC kit out with me.

My Lixada crossbody bag fits the bill. It’s just large enough to carry my diary, pen, battery pack and cables, with room for a few other items such as a spare mask, coins, small notebook, carrier bags etc. It’s also slim enough to be worn under a coat or jacket. It’s perfect for local walks, or for days out if I don’t anticipate needing much with me.

Amazon listing for details.

4. M&S Thermowarmth™ Gilet (Grey Mix)

Anyone who knows me knows I love pockets. Bags, trousers, coats. The more pockets the better. For many years I’ve owned a Highmount bodywarmer/gilet like this one – note the high pocket count! I’ve worn it almost every day; as an outer layer on all but the warmest of days, and under a coat when it’s extra cold. It’s seen better times, though, and I spent most of last year looking for a replacement. I may still pick up another of the same kind, but in October I walked into the Marks and Spencer department store in Newcastle and was delighted to find a very nice padded gilet in a grey/black mix.

True to the manufacturer’s claims, it’s very cosy. It can’t compete with the Highmount for pockets, but it has two patch pockets and two handwarmer pockets on the front, and four inside pockets (one zip closure, three hook & loop) which is more than adequate. It’s a little too bulky to wear under a coat, but as an outer layer it’s perfect. Best of all, I feel great wearing it.

M&S listing for details.

5. BGST Block Logo Hoodie (Mustard)

I mentioned my new Boys Get Sad Too hoodie in my look back over 2021, but it deserves a further mention because it’s definitely one of my favourite new items. The design caught my attention in June when I first came across the BSGT brand and bought myself a pin badge which I still wear proudly. As I wrote at the time:

Founded by Kyle Stanger, Boys Get Sad Too (BGST) is a fashion brand working for positive change. (“Sometimes it feels like you’re alone. Boys Get Sad Too is here to show you that you’re not.”) I bought the pin to support their endeavours. I didn’t expect its message to resonate as strongly as it does right now.

It took me a long time, though, to commit to ordering the hoodie, as I’m wary of buying clothing online. You can never be sure of the quality and size/fit. I was also uncertain how often I’d actually wear it. I’m so glad I finally took the plunge (and to Fran for making it my Christmas gift from her) because it fits me perfectly and has become my absolute favourite item of clothing. It goes especially well with my M&S gilet. Expect it to feature in selfies for some time to come!

BGST listing for details.

Over to You

I hope you’ve found something of interest in my top buys from the past year. Maybe you’ve gained a fresh insight or two into my life and likes, or seen something you’d like for yourself. What new things came into your life in the past twelve months?


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