If you work from home, or if you blog or play hours of Club Penguin from home, you may sometimes wish you could work, blog or play Club Penguin out of the house. In Barcelona, I often work the morning in my flat. That is, my flat with no air con. It's hot. Like, thirty degrees hot.

Since I am wanting to explore Barcelona while I am here, I thought it would be a good idea to try out some cafes and coffee shops while working. I know how stagnant your days can become when you feel you are stuck in the house, even if it is doing work you enjoy. When the sun is shining it definitely affects me more, however even if you're not abroad, I know the feeling. I can feel a lot more productive in a public space. Not always, because then I can't belt out Dej Loaf sadly, but if you ever feel in a similar rut, then keep reading.

Available on Apple and coming soon to Android, the Work Hard Anywhere app has been a lifesaver for non-Spanish speaking me living and working abroad for the first time. The app, also known as WHA, is a platform which suggests the best public workspaces based on users' feedback and comments. The app takes into consideration factors such as Wifi speed, price (of coffee & snacks), parking space, seating options and noise levels. All important aspects for getting solid productive work done.

Think of it as a simplified TripAdvisor solely for work-friendly cafes, libraries and other public spaces. Its incredibly user friendly and aesthetically pleasing, just what I like.

My first visit using WHA was very encouraging. Discovering a cafe (or plant concept coffee shop) opposite my street about a 10 second walk away was a fab start. Espai Joliu is one of the most Instagram and Pinterest-worthy places I have visited. Hidden amongst the outskirts of Barcelona, its rustic and super creative interior charmed me - it was love at first sight.

Espai Joliu lived up to the expectations I had after reading tips and ratings from users of the WHA app. The coffee (and the cookie) was delicious and affordable, it was a quiet and welcoming space to work, there were plenty of seats and the WiFi was free and fast. The owner was also lovely and asked about why I was in Barcelona and what work I was doing that day, as well as saying he hoped to see me again soon. I should probably add this to my review on the app. I'll do that after this post.

And now I'm off to find another laptop and work friendly cafe using Work Hard Anywhere! Ensuring it has amazing coffee, of course.

Click here for more information about the app, and over here if you'd like to download it straight away - or search for "work hard anywhere" in the Apple Store.

Let me know if you find any great spots with the app, I'm hoping to add some myself to the map back in Aberdeen! Have you used Work Hard Anywhere before?

Remember to follow me on Instagram for Barcelona updates!

How to Find Laptop Friendly Cafes and Workspaces

I am very proud that I have managed to publish this on the 20th, as promised in my July 2016 Mixtape post. There have been a few times I have said "post coming next week..." like my non-existent university room tour (I did have a nice pinboard though), however my monthly mixtapes are something I am really enthusiastic about. So do honestly expect one each month. Seriously - they'll be here. I swear.

My August Top 3

  1. Hometown Girl & Working For It - ZHU
    1. If we get technical, these are two songs. However both from the same album, GENERATIONWHY, and WHAT AN ALBUM. Love. Beautiful and amazing. I just love ZHU's signature style ever since I heard Faded. Fangirling brb.
  2. Bacon - Nick Jonas, Ty Dolla $ign
    1. I have recently been having just a little obsession with Ty Dolla $ign (okay quite a big obsession) so this song is perfection. AND THAT BASS!
  3. You Don't Know Love (Cheat Codes Club Mix) - Olly Murs
    1. My Olly Murs fangirling days were a thing of the past, however this remix with my now beloved beats and synths has reignited my love.

So, basically, my top 3 songs are due to fangirling and obsessing. Judge me however you want. I'm happy and belting out all the words and that's all that matters.

UPDATE: One of my favourites, Leikeli47 has just released a new track, Money. So this is now my number one and has been added in. You're welcome.

August 2016 Mixtape

Remember you can follow me on Spotify for more amazing tunez. Let me know what you've been listening to in August!

August 2016 Mixtape

Lying by the pool, sipping wine on the veranda, playing countless games of ping pong. Not the main activities that come to mind when you think of busy Barcelona. Although I love the hustle and bustle of the city, it was great to have a break last weekend whilst visiting my holidaying family in Tamariu, Costa Brava. Coincidentally travelling to Spain whilst I'm living here; my aunt, uncle and cousins invited me to stay for a couple of nights to which I gratefully and excitedly accepted!

Shoutout to Robert, Melanie, Chris, Clidna, David and Lindsay ✌🏼

let's just ignore my uncle's feet sticking out the side of my head there eh

I arrived on the Friday afternoon, luckily managing to drive up (well, be driven up) with my family who flew into Barcelona airport. Arriving a little too early to get into the villa, we took a wander down to the bay of Tamariu - a stunning and serene space of nature as you can see above. I love the ocean.

For lunch I accidentally ordered a sharing plate of Catalan pa amb tomàquet (crusty tomato bread) with Iberian ham just for me. You know the ham I'm talking about, that ham, we all do 😏. Luckily I was starving so ate most of it myself. Give me pa amb tomàquet and Iberian ham all day, every day.

The rest of Friday was spent cooling off in and by the pool, trying out the beloved ping pong table and for dinner we made use of the beautiful veranda and had a barbecue, while sipping wine under the sunset (and just a few gin and tonics).

The villa was such a dreamy place. Definitely Pinterest-worthy. You may have seen a photo of it on my Snapchat, but unfortunately I forgot to save that photo. So the lesson here is, you should definitely add me on Snapchat right now so you don't miss other important and interesting happenings (@mairixlowe 😘).

Here is a very chilled selfie of me (and a sneaky peek of the villa) after having managed to spend a whole hour stretching and doing yoga on the veranda at about 8am. In such a bliss state the time flew by. Yoga with the morning sun (warm but not hot) is amazing. Unfortunately I don't think the sun has discovered Aberdeen yet so I may have to give outdoors yoga a miss when I return for university.

Saturday was an incredibly chilled out day which was greatly appreciated. By the pool, I began reading a book from my self-confidence/girlboss reading wishlist (post coming soon) called You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. So far, it's quite an eye-opener. It has detailed ideas and feelings I have had but never really understood, and shown that there are lots of people who live happy and successful lives doing what they want - which I think is what I'd like too. I'm just not quite sure what that or those things are yet.

So after spending a deep philosophical day reading by the pool, falling asleep for about an hour and playing some more ping pong and watermelon ball ralley (new Olympic sport for 2020 by the way), everyone showered and glammed up for dinner. I even wore mascara. Pushing the boat out.

It was great to head out with my aunt, uncle and cousins as I don't see them an awful lot at home, despite living in the same city. Christmas reunions are always fun but a summer outing was also fab. The main differences I'd say are more heat and less turkey.

After quite a few games of cards and some 1am yoga poses, we slept off the gin and tonics and I didn't quite manage to get up at 8am for yoga unfortunately. More like 9.30, which is still impressive for me.

After a chilled morning and more deep philosophical reading of my new book; Chris, Clidna, David and I decided to take a coastal walk to a nearby beach. Although we got lost and ended up in non-treaded forest and someone's back garden, the scenery on the way was breathtaking.

The beach itself was a lovely beach, just not my favourite type. The type with big and small pebbles instead of the sand all Brits crave when abroad. Once you found your comfy sunbathing spot you couldn't move for fear of a rock in your back. I did want to swim in the sea but was feeling a little unwell so decided to give it a miss (very rare for me). However it was great to be in such an enclosed space of nature and it really was beautiful. Different from your usual dream beach, but just as or perhaps more charming.

Then I had about an hour bus journey back to Barcelona, and I was feeling relaxed and raring to get back to the busy city working life. That's not to say I wouldn't appreciate another beach day or weekend, but I am still enjoying my internship and can't believe how fast my time here has gone so far. I only have about one month left before I return to Edinburgh and soon after to Aberdeen. One month. That's less than I have been here already! So crazy. There is still so much more I want to see and do in Barcelona, and I know I will never complete my bucketlist, but that just gives me an excuse to visit again another day.

Where would your dream weekend getaway be?

Again, massive thanks to my family for inviting me down for the weekend - I had a blast!

One Weekend in Tamariu, Costa Brava

When I first saw my room in Barcelona, I thought YAS white walls, perfect for outfit photos! Actually, that's a lie, my very first thought was there are dirty cotton buds on the floor and an old pizza box. But that's another blog post.

Since I didn't know anyone in Barcelona before moving, I realised if I wanted to take photos of my summer wardrobe, I was probably going to have to take them myself. So that's why I brought my tripod. Actually, wait, I forgot my tripod. Great start Mairi.

For summer, I love to wear airy and light fabrics. This was particularly important to me for Barcelona, as I am working five days a week in a studio with no air con which tends to be hotter than outside. Which is rather hot. This is why I love this top with it's cooling open back, which also adds interest and a touch of flair. White is one of my favourite colours for summer and these shorts have been part of my summer wardrobe for a fair few years now. And, well, you can never really go wrong with stripes, can you? No, you cannot.

My lovely boss Silvia has offered to take a few photos of my outfit when we are working, but I am there to work and have decided to turn this seemingly disadvantage of not having a photographer on hand into an opportunity to improve taking my own outfit photos. Although my tripod would have been handy for this. Alas, I will adapt.

Additionally, part of the reason I wanted to come to Barcelona was to become more independent. What better way to start tackling this than taking my own photos. Challenge accepted.

Luckily, I am quite skilled when it comes to editing photos, and I'm sure I will improve through more practice (some of those edges are annoyingly a little dodgy). This means I can cut out the bloody mosquito remains on the white walls as well as the mattress I'm standing on and replace it with a pretty, although not very realistic, coloured background. A different style of ootd from pretty leafy streets in Edinburgh, but something to experiment with and make the most of. Maybe one day I'll muster up the courage to take some outdoors(OMG!!) outfit photographs, but until then, I'll always have my mosquito ridden white walls and my GIMP editing software at my disposal.

C'est la vie.

P.S. I can't WAIT to show you my shiny new white dungarees!

  • Top | Internacionale | around £4 in the sale (I think)
  • Shorts | Primark | around £5

  • Any tips for taking your own outfit photographs? I really would love to improve!

    Once I work out the best ways that work for me, a How to Take Your Own Outfit Photos post will be published :)

    Learning to Take Your Own Outfit Photos

    Hello August!

    July has just flown by. I can't believe I have been in Barcelona for now three weeks. It really has got me wondering where the time has gone. Luckily I am still enjoying my time in Spain; my internship is diverse and hence always interesting and I am loving wearing shorts and skirts every day. I recently discovered a group of expats in Barcelona through Facebook and WhatsApp and have met up with a small group of the girls for vegan tapas and drinks and am planning to meet up again soon!

    My first few days here I did feel a little isolated and overwhelmed. Understandable since this is my first time living abroad by myself. However thanks to my great boss Silvia, and the group of girls I have now met from all over the world, I am feeling a lot more settled, confident and excited.

    This being said, I decided to set myself monthly goals to make the most of my time in Barcelona (as well as a bucketlist of activities, eateries etc. which is in progress). Here's to a fun and fulfilling August!

    August Goals 2016

    • Join a gym
      • This was something I had meant to do within the first week of moving to Barcelona, but have simply not got round to it. I have been to Zumba once with Silvia though, so I guess that's a start. But this week, I am going to join a gym and get back into a regular routine. I miss it.
    • Improve my Spanish
      • I really do want to pick up the language but know I could be doing more than I did in July. I have been using my Duolingo app almost daily, but have been encouraged to take a look at BBC Languages in addition for grammar and more in-depth teaching. My goal is to spend at least 15 minutes per day on either Duolingo, BBC Languages or both. Once I feel a little more confident, I may attend a language exchange one night however I still feel too clueless!
    • Be brave
      • Recently I have been feeling a little down and that my mind is my worst enemy. I'm usually a very positive person - an optimist I suppose. However moving to Barcelona was a huge change for me and one I am still adjusting to. I am enjoying my time here, but I want to push myself to try more activities independently and just explore more without stressing out or over-thinking as I tend to do. I want to feel brave and not scared at things I know really aren't that scary!
    • Stay organised
      • Using the Strikethru organisation technique in my new Leuchtturm1917 notebook since moving to Barcelona has definitely helped me feel less stressed and on top of everything. I am still working out how best to adapt the technique for myself to be productive and happy without worrying all the time, however it definitely feels like a step in the right direction and I am looking forward to sharing my experience with you once I feel more settled with it.
    • Go to the beach by myself
      • Something I have been wanting to do since before I booked my flights here. The idea of going to the beach alone does seem a little daunting (see Be brave), but also something I really want to try. Just a little unsure how I would feel leaving my belongings on the sand when I go for a swim (I love swimming in the sea) but maybe I could even hire a locker? Or just not take any valuables. We shall see!

    If you have any recommendations on what I should get up to in Barcelona, please do email me or contact me via social media as I'd love to explore every little nook and cranny! If you'd like to keep up with my adventures, be sure to follow me on Instagram where I am aiming to post daily.

    What are your goals for August?

    August Goals 2016

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