The One With The Inappropriate Airbnb Host…

Hey guys it’s been a minute. Let’s chat. Grab a cuppa and get comfy because this is not a quickie.

In order for me to tell the story as clearly as i can, there is some scene setting to start and then we’ll get stuck in.

Why am I telling you this story?
1. Everyone deserves to feel safe. If you don’t feel safe, leave.
2. I still can’t believe this happened
3. When I’m telling this story it doesn’t sound real but believe me, it was.
4. Things like this must happen far more than they should.
5. Airbnb handled this so well. If anyone reading this ends up in a similar kind of situation, please know that you will be taken seriously in reporting it!

Okay, here goes…

To give some context to the situation and why I was staying in an Airbnb; On the 2nd of June 2019, I left my partner who I was living with and escaped the abusive relationship. It was something I had threatened to do before but it was a decision I couldn’t have planned for actually making. After an explosive couple of days I had to leave. I had to leave right away. What this meant was that I had nowhere to live. I was able to stay at my Parents’ immediately but it wasn’t a commutable distance to be able to keep my job. I ended up finding a new flat to live in pretty quickly but it wasn’t available to move into for another 5 weeks. In the final week prior to the big move, I booked an airbnb that was cheap, had great reviews, commutable distance and would allow my puppy too. Here’s how it went…

The title of the listing was ‘A Palace’ … I should’ve picked up a vibe there but apparently I like to ignore red flags. The listing doesn’t exist anymore so I can’t give exact details of how it was described but I know it was listed as the kind of place where people airbnb a spare room in their house and the host stays there still.

We communicated a lot between booking and staying. He insisted on pretty much daily messages and a couple of phone calls too and that was even before I arrived. I figured he was just trying to be a good host and have everything ready. It did feel a bit weird and I told one of my work friends but he had 14 5* reviews so who was i to argue with that and I did’t think too much of it.

I arrived after work on Monday 1st July. I entered the property, was greeted by the host and shown around the property. Here’s where the first alarm bells started ringing. Turns out, it was a one bed property. He rents out the room on Airbnb and he sleeps on the sofa. The bedroom, like any normal bedroom, didn’t have a lock on it but the only other thing upstairs was the bathroom- which we would both be using. I went and collected the rest of our stuff and settled in for the night.

He had made us dinner, an eclectic mix of pasta twists, stir fried vegetables and siracha. Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for him preparing dinner. He offered me a drink… of neat vodka… It was around 6pm on a Monday evening. When I asked if he had anything to go with it, he offered water. I set the glass down and didn’t pick it back up again.

Anyway, we sit down and we’re chatting. He’s around 60 years old, recently divorced after 40 years, 3 children (who i imagine are at least my age!) He tells me he doesn’t use Airbnb for the money, that he has plenty of, but for the company. He also told me he was looking for a ‘nice young lady’ . My initial thought was: Shit, am I auditioning for this role right now?! He asks if I’m single. I quickly and briefly said how I’d just come out of something pretty horrible and traumatic and certainly wasn’t looking.

He tells me he’s really spiritual, does predictions and could he predict something for me…sure. He tells me not to say anything so that I’m not feeding into his telling. He goes: […] ‘At around 13/14 something bad happened, you were abused.’ FALSE. […] ‘Your boyfriend at around 18, he fucked you up’ FALSE. I tell him he’s wrong and he replies ‘No, he had two sides, he messed you up.’ Now imagine how uncomfortable I’m feeling.

Next, he needs to call his friend so he asks my permission- It’s your house, call your friend. A few minutes in and he’s handing me the phone… to talk to his friend…who I don’t know. Who hasn’t asked to speak to me. THE most awkward phone call.

Next, we FaceTime his neighbour. I don’t really need to say more on that. Weird.

It gets to about 9pm and I make my excuses to go to bed. He pulls me into hug me and goes ‘Oh good, you’re a hugger too!’ … dude, I didn’t really have a choice. Not long after I’ve gone up, he messages me from downstairs asking if Bonnie is asleep, if I have internet, if I’m asleep. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep very well.

In the morning I get up and go to work like normal. I delay heading back to the property until later that evening and take Bonnie for a nice walk. I get back and he’s made dinner again, he’s also bought us a bottle of wine. He says he’s taking us to see his neighbours so that Bonnie can play with their dog. IT’s all a bit awkward and then we come back for dinner. I accept a small glad of wine not to be impolite but refuse any more on the numerous attempts that followed- just incase I had to make an emergency exit.

After dinner of course the conversation leads back to him asking about if I’ll go back to my ex etc and if I’m looking for anything. No and No. He goes on to tell me how he doesn’t think that my current job is my passion. He says that I should be in the Art industry, painting and that he can make that happen for me…He also tells me how he wants to go to Bournemouth with me and Bonnie at some point.

He goes to the bathroom, so I go to wash the dishes in an attempt to then escape to bed. He comes back downstairs and he places his hand on the middle of my back and says thank you. His hand just lingers. I feel gross. I try to make my excuses to go to bed and he goes ‘But I made you jelly!’ I assumed he’s made up a big bowl and was going to serve me a portion but he opened the fridge and there was just one small bowl. He sat and watched me eat the jelly. All I could think was- What’s in this jelly?… I finish the jelly, wash up the bowl and get ready to head to bed.

The conversation goes like this:
Him: Can I ask you a question?
Me: Suuuuure
Him: a personal question?
Me: Okaaaaay (like you can ask but I can’t promise I’ll answer)
Him: Would you be interested in a relationship?
Me: No, Nope, not at all. ( I try to play it off like he just asked me generally rather than if I wanted to enter a relation with him)
Him: Please don’t look at or think of me any differently now!
*silence*

I head upstairs and into the room incredibly conscious that my door doesn’t have a lock on it and at some point, he’ll be heading up to use the bathroom…I barricaded the door with mine and Bonnie’s things, sat on the bed and cried. How is it that I’ve left a man and a house I don’t feel safe in and then found myself in this situation?! I call my mum crying. We decide I can’t stay there. I book a room at a travelodge and pack my things. Mum’s still on the phone and I’m still crying, I head downstairs and say that something has happened at home and that I need to leave right away. Bonnie’s run downstairs and he shuts her in the garden while I’m getting the rest of my things together. I come downstairs and I’m loaded up like Buckaroo- SO MANY BAGS. I’ve got Bonnie’s lead in my hand ready to attach her, she’s still outside. He tells me to put everything in the car and then come back for her- no chance! I was going in one trip and not coming back, never mind leave my dog with him. ‘So you want her?’ -YES YOU WEIRDO GIVE ME MY DOG! As I’m clipping Bonnie to her lead, he tries to take a bag off of my shoulder- ‘Let me help’ I didn’t want him coming to my car with me so I said no and tried to give him his keys back. He embraces me in another hug , his head resting on my shoulder- he’s not letting go. I’m pretty hysterical at this point and try pushing him off, thrusting his keys at him and make my exit. I figured if I’ve forgotten anything it’s gone now, I’m never coming back.

I quickly leave in the car and the pull over nearby to try and compose myself before driving more. Instead of staying in the travelodge, my friend from work says I can stay wit her so I do that instead of being alone. After I leave he messages my twice. He messages twice more the following morning telling me to ‘keep in touch’. I don’t respond, so he tries calling. I don’t answer.

That day I reported him to Airbnb. That part of their website is a bit of a click through rabbit warren but we got there in the end. I submitted my initial report and awaited their response.

They were fantastic. Someone from their team called me, allowed me to talk and was really understanding and empathetic. They continued their investigation. They ended up refunding my entire stay- I’d booked 4 days but only stayed overnight for 1. They also compensated my travelodge booking and the host’s listing was removed. I felt like I was listened to and taken seriously; two things that you worry about in disclosing something like this especially since he had 14 5* reviews. I am now questioning if they’re even legit.

I have stayed in an Airbnb before with a host and never had a problem so never imagined this would unfold.

The moral of the story is: put your own safety first, stay vigilant and if it doesn’t feel right, get out and report it.

I’m so glad I hadn’t had another glass of wine that night so I could leave when I needed to.

If any of you reading this have ever experienced anything like this at all, I am so sorry. It really is truly awful and I wish situations like this didn’t happen.

Char x

Homemade Chicken and Peanut Butter Pupcakes

Something a little different from my recent posts but i thought I’d turn my hand to baking little Bonnie some homemade treats. He has been losing her little mind over my attempts and quite literally hop, skipping and jumping all over our apartment in excitement.

I figured they’re SO unbelievably easy to make that I’d share my own recipes with you so that your pups can lose their little minds too!

Remember, these are treats and should supplement your pups daily food intake, not replace. But also that if feeding a few of these treats, you should reduce their other meals slightly too to counter.

Ingredients: Makes 10
* 2 eggs
* 1 large tbsp butter
* 2 large tbsp peanut butter (be careful to make sure it is xylitol free!)
* 1 cup Readybrek/ ground oats
* 2 chicken stock cubes

Method
prep
1. Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius
2. Grease a muffin tin
make
1. Add peanut butter and butter into a mixing bowl and cream together
2. Mix in both eggs until fully combined
3. Add the chicken stock cubes and mix until full combined
4. Add the Readybrek until a thick cakey batter comes together
bake
1. Divide mixture into the muffin tin
2. Bake for around 20mins until golden
decorate (optional)
* I used diluted peanut butter, so mixed peanut butter with hot water to make a runnier, creamier texture. I dipped the top of the cake in and then grated some puppy chocolate on top (from Bonnies Advent Calendar)

Bonnie when wild for these! They’re human friendly too…. just perhaps not to human taste haha Baking for your pup is super fun and seeing them go wild with excitement is so lovely too. What’s also amazing is that you know EXACTLY what goes into them 🙂

Enjoy!!!

Gift Manipulation and Spending Beyond Your Means

The best gift you can give someone at Christmas is your time.

This is especially true in a time where if you’re not busy all the time and on the go constantly, you’re perceived to not be working hard enough or  not doing enough. When we meet up with friends and family it’s-

“hey how’ve you been?”
“Busy!”
“Yeah me too! So busy!”

… busy isn’t how YOU are though is it and it does not equal productivity or a good use of your time…
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀


This time of year SO many people spend beyond their means and buy presents people don’t even end up using. Or another scenario is you feel bad because the value of your presents exchanged is evidently different so the next year you HAVE to spend more through guilt and apprehension of it happening again….

 
I’m about to speak very honestly about how I’m feeling about christmas, gifting and why.


Last year I was manipulated into spending around 4-5x more on my significant other than they did…. the conversation went something like:
 
Them– “ how much are you planning on spending?”  
Me: ” Oh I don’t know, why how much are you planning on spending?”
Them: “About £500”
Me: “really?!”
Them: “yeah!”
Me: *in my head* Shit i need to up my game..

It was a lot of money, but the conversation was a normal conversation right? You’re probably thinking – Char that’s not manipulation… and you’d be right, it’s what happened next that made it manipulative.

So then the budget was set. I DID up my game. I bought bigger, I bought better. I bought presents to open Christmas day, I bought a trip to take them away. Did I really have that much to spend on one person at that point in my life, probably not no, but I felt I had to because they were, aside from the fact we’d only been together a few months AND I’d just gone big for their birthday.

So when Christmas came around, so did disappointment. Now, I’m not into material things, I recently sold my Apple Watch because that could be money better spent but when you’ve been told you’re receiving around £500 worth of gifts and what you receive is >£100 you’re left disappointed. Disappointed in yourself for expecting more, BUT I think what i was most disappointed in was the realisation that I’d been manipulated for their gain. I hadn’t really experienced that before and maybe I was naive in trusting, I don’t know. Now don’t get me wrong even £100 is a lot to spend so I am not ungrateful, nor am I spoilt, that’s not the message here. (For the last few years, my sister and I haven’t exchanged gifts we’ve instead set aside a day to spend together doing something we really want to do and just enjoy the time uninterrupted.) The message is around the manipulation to spend far more on them than they ever planned to spend- and notice how it was them who initiated the original conversation anyway.


I did bring it up with them at a later date. When I questioned it, they said it was “banter”.


Manipulation. Is. Not. Banter.

I guess this year I just feel a bit funny about Christmas. People ask me what I want for Christmas and I don’t know. The whole thing around buying presents this year, I’d just rather not- I’d rather people just spoilt Bonnie (my puppy) instead. Do I love buying gifts and treating people? absolutely but this year my excitement or ‘festive cheer’ comes not from gifts, but from looking forward to spending time with people I love. I have a generous Christmas holiday entitlement from work so I can enjoy a good break where before as a freelancer and self employed, I’d feel anxious taking more than a couple of days off.


Even more recent events have also just taught me that life is way too precious and our time together is worth so much more than any gift that could be bought.


It is hard, I know, but I strongly encourage you to try and not spend outside your means. Your company is worth far more so maybe arrange a date you can get together with friends and family that you’ve been meaning to see for so long.

People will remember the effort you made to see them, more than the present you can’t afford that you sent them in the post.


Now go and tell someone you love them xx

Finding My Purpose

Here I am, back after a small hiatus. I say small, it’s been months but it made me feel better to say small…

So a lot has happened since I was here last, some of it I’ll share with you at some point and some of it i probably don’t feel so comfortable talking about out loud. I guess for me, writing now is less about writing for the purpose of other people like when i wrote my vegan fitness blog; but rather a way of getting what’s in my head, out. So bear with me some bits won’t be pretty and some bits probably won’t even be interesting but here we go.

I’ve titled this post- Finding my purpose– but if i’m honest, i still feel like I haven’t found it yet.

I’ve had so many jobs in different fields that my CV doesn’t exactly flow or even help indicate what i should be doing. I started out in telesales and retail, then into hospitality, then as a cover teacher in a Secondary school, a Student Services Advisor in a University, a Professional dancer, TV Extra, Model, more hospitality, Fitness Instructor, Athlete, Influencer, Personal trainer and now Student Advisor in a Students’ Union.

When i was living in London, in the early days I wrote a vegan health and fitness blog, I wrote recipes, I reviewed fitness classes and event, I tried to break down assumptions of what life as a vegan athlete was like. I continued this as i first started as a fitness instructor too. I thought I’d found my purpose. To educate, to raise awareness and show that you can be a serious competing athlete in the fitness model world as a vegan. Turns out, that wasn’t my purpose.

I changed gyms, went to a transformation specialist gym. I stopped teaching a bazillion high participation classes and focused on 1-2-1 PT. The idea was that I wanted to be a competition prep coach so this shift was in the right direction. That summer I took an online course called Transitions that was hosted by the Eating Disorder Charity: Beat. I knew I wanted to help people that were struggling. Unfortunately, my PT hours meant that I couldn’t volunteer of an evening or anything. I had had testimonials from old clients saying I’d helped with their mental health and their relationship with food, I knew I had to find a way to incorporate my new training and actively try and help people who were struggling.

Eight months later, I decided to leave that job and I took a job at a Students’ Union as a Student Advisor. I am currently there now and I get to help students every day and I love it. I’m no longer simply someone’s expendable income but rather a key member of staff that students know they can come to when they need help. I thought my purpose was to be a comp prep coach, and now I’m here. So i guess that wasn’t my purpose either.

Just after starting this job I decided to rehome a puppy that wasn’t wanted anymore by their current family. I was living with my partner at the time and he had a dog too. This little puppy was always mine but the idea was she’d be the second dog in the household and they’d keep each other company while we were out at work.

A severe change in circumstances means that it’s now just me and her. We left abruptly meaning we had nowhere of our own to live. Lots of upheaval for the both of us for 5 weeks until we could get into our new place. This has left her super anxious, attached and really distressed if she’s left alone. It;s heartbreaking to know she doesn’t feel safe and confident just in her own company without feeling abandoned. I got a behaviourist in and we’re working on it. Is my purpose to have rescued Bonnie and make sure that she’s happy? I’m not sure if that’s what I was put on this earth to do, but it’s sure as hell my top priority.

We left an abusive relationship and I’ve spoken bits about it on my instagram. My hope is that it might help at least just one other person to get out of a shit situation. I’m also in the middle of counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for the PTSD from that relationship, I talk little bits about that on my Instagram too to try and encourage others to seek help when they need to and that it’s not a sign of weakness. Is that my purpose?

Right now I love my job and feel like I do make a difference, I love my dog and her nature and sure, she tests my patience, she’s a puppy, but my role is to make her happy, I share bits of my life online, that others perhaps wouldn’t, and have had messages to say i’ve either helped by talking about it or that they with there had have been people talking out when they were in a shit situation too that might have encouraged them to get out sooner… I’ve got all of this amazing stuff going on but are those things part of my purpose?

The thing is, I know they aren’t my sole purpose because if I’m honest, I feel a bit lost, a bit empty and a bit like something is missing ever since I started rebuilding my life. I don’t know what the missing piece is or if I’ll ever find my purpose, I just know I haven’t found it yet. I have things I’m good at like my job, I have things I like doing like making sure my dog’s living her best life but I don’t feel like I’ve quite found what it is I was put here to do yet. I don’t know, maybe I won’t, but I’ll keep you in on what I do and don’t find along the way.

THAT Favourite Spoon…

Now, unfortunately this isn’t going to be a post about spooning, although that would have been fun!

No, this is about the moment you realise you have a favourite wooden spoon and a favourite hob ring. Now you’re all sat there like- yeah I actually do! … and I bet that hob ring is bottom left… tell me I’m wrong?!

Now I am unsure as to when this actually happens. It seems to be one of those things that you all of a sudden realise you do/have and seem to have missed the actual ‘happening’ of it. Like, you don’t stand there and go- God this wooden spoon is SO superior to the others. Just all of a sudden you’re prioritising your cooking over that hob ring and pissed off because you can’t find your favourite wooden spoon.

Go on, tell me I’m wrong…. I’ll wait.

Char

Am I Adulting yet?

When I was growing up I kinda had this idea that you’re an adult as soon as you turn 18 and by the time you’re mid twenties you’d probably be in that life long relationship, have your life long career job, own your own place and definitely have your shit together.

You then turn 18 and realise you’re definitely not an adult yet and still need to run a sick day past your mum…

I went to uni at 19, a year later than most. No, I didn’t have a ‘gap yah’ … I spent the year working three jobs to afford to go to university; teaching p.e, retail and hospitality. I definitely felt older than the 18 year olds coming straight from school. Okay so three years pass at uni, you’re definitely feeling more independent. But an adult? not yet.

I graduated with a First Class degree in Dance and wanted to pursue a career in performing. Life had other plans. 4 months after graduating and I had my second heart operation and lived at home with my parents for a year. I worked in an admin role because I couldn’t do anything physical fro a while. I resented it because it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing straight out of uni.

Aaaaaaanyway, a year later I moved to London to live the dream. I’d just started a dance company with a friend and I was doing TV and modelling work. As much as I now had real rent to pay to a real Landlord, i.e not my mum, I still didn’t feel like an adult. In the industry i was working in TV companies had up to 90days to pay you. So you literally had no idea when you would be paid, it could be a week later or three months later. I wouldn’t call it adulting if you don’t know when your next pay cheque is coming in.

Fast forward a few years, I’m 26 and working full time as a fitness instructor, personal trainer and fitness model. I was essentially paid to bop around with people who were paying to bop around. I worked with several brands via social media. Sounds pretty cool hey, it was. I was in my chosen career, why didn’t I feel like an adult yet?… I was still living in a house share.

When I turned 26, I was still living in a flat with FOUR other people. I still felt like a student. Later that year, after three years, I moved out of that flat and into a flat with a friend. From a 5 bed flat to a 2 bed. This felt more like adulting but not quite. I’d known her for 12 years and her parents owned the flat, she’d lived there 4-5 years or something and it very much felt like I was just living in her home. I’m not sure if that makes sense. Rather than us living there together it felt like I was just existing in her space. I wasn’t really allowed things out in the living room or anything. I remember adding some books to her shelf and stack… they didn’t last there long. They got moved and hidden… BOOKS! A year later, her parents want to sell the flat because she’s moving in with her new boyfriend. I got asked to move out via text message and I had 4 weeks to do so. Like I said, we’d known each other for 12 years…I found somewhere to live and moved out within a week. The day before I moved out, I put a bag of my belongings in the living room because my room was full of bags and cases. I went out for the evening and when I came home that bag was wedged into my room meaning I couldn’t even get to my bed now. (it was a very small room btw) It was one bag of my belongings in the living room the night before moving out and that wasn’t allowed. I won’t talk about the rest, It got nasty quick shortly after that and wasn’t dealt with in a very adult way. Needless to say we aren’t friends now. Major adulting fail.

So at 27 I found myself back in a flat share living with strangers. Something I never thought I’d do again. No living room. Just my bedroom and navigating my way around when the kitchen would be free because one of the other girls would cook allllllllllll the time. It was only a small kitchen with enough room for one person to be cooking. I ended up deliveroo-ing or staying at my boyfriend’s. I was paying £800+ pcm to not really be living there and when I was there, I couldn’t use the kitchen. This felt far from adulting.

I’m 28 now. Not living in London. Not working in the fitness industry. Not in a house share with random strangers from the internet. I feel like I’m finally having a go at this adulting thing and from here on in you’ll be joining me on that ride.

Char

The coffee wanker evolution

One minute it’s Nescafe Original… you know the one, glass jar, red lid, the darkest brown soil looking instant coffee…. then it’s a double vent soya vanilla skinny basic bitch latte…. then it’s an oat milk flat white from your local artisan coffee shop.

You feel me?

I feel like instant coffee is very entry level to coffee. Then you discover Starbucks and go for the sweetest thing because it’s all new and essentially a dessert in a cup. It no longer actually tastes like coffee. So you then find yourself somewhere in the middle. You’re still in Starbucks but instead of a dessert latte you opt for a regular latte. That bitter, wonderful taste of coffee is back.

You like it, but you know there’s more and you want in.

*To be honest I’ve found the next part to mainly be in London*

You’ve been commuting to work for a while now and you’ve been noticing this coffee shop. There’s always a queue and the cups are unbranded and very non descript. But you keep walking past just peering through the window on your way

One day the intrigue gets too real and you decide to give it a go. But what do you order?You’re familiar with the americano, the latte, the cappuccino but what’s this flat white thing you can see?! No, can’t handle too much newness in one day. You play it safe ” a latte please”. Then they ask what size you want. Instead of your regular- small, medium, large or small , regular everything is in ounces. I don’t know how many ounces I want, you think. You pick the middle number and play ‘safe’ again. Now they’re asking what milk you want. “Just normal please”. Again, safer. You didn’t even know you could make milk from oats?!

The coffee comes, there’s a fancy pattern in the top of the milk. Their medium is definitely smaller than a Starbucks medium. You take a sip, it’s almost too pretty to drink. Holy shit thats strong. But boy is it good!

It’s strong, it’s bitter, the milk is silky.

Uh oh, you’re hooked. Welcome to the club you’re now a coffee wanker. Up next, the flat white.

Char

*all posts written slightly tongue in cheek and in jest* Image: mskfp.com

Adulting? What on earth is that?!


“The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.”
‘it feels really good to take a step back from adulting and have someone else cook dinner for me’ – Oxford Dictionary

I posed this question to instagram the other day. I only got a few responses but it was a funny mixture for sure.

From sexual acts to gardening to working to slavery to it just being too. much. effort.

it would seem this adulting thing we’re all trying to do is all a bit of a tangle. Like that drawer or box of cables we all have probably full of old camera leads, old phone cables and t.v scart leads before we got fancy smart t.vs. Adulting appears to be a direct representation of trying to untangle THAT drawer.

OR

When I was at school you would open ‘paint’ on the computer, draw a load of squiggles and then click to fill the spaces with colour. That finished picture is pretty much what adulting looks like in my head.

So here i am about to share with you all, my attempt at adulting…

Char