Friday, 16 March 2018

Simple Tips For Looking After Your Heart

We all want to live longer, don't we? Well, there are certain things we can do to look after ourselves and look after our heart. Here is a roundup of advice from respected websites, research and the NHS.

Eat Healthily

I'm a firm believer in everything in moderation but there are some things you can do to actively look after your heart. 

Current advice is that a balanced diet should contain at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. This doesn't have to be fresh fruit, it can also be frozen, tinned or dried. You can only count fruit juice, beans and pulses once in this equation.

Too much saturated fat and trans fat in your diet can increase the amount of cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease so try and replace with polyunsaturated fat and monosaturated fats.

Rapeseed oil contains less saturated fat that all commonly used cooking oils so when you are looking for an oil to cook with it's a good choice. Replacing saturated fats with some unsaturated fats such as rapeseed oil, as part of a healthy balanced diet has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, which may help to lower the risk of heart disease.

Fish oils can also be added to the diet, either by eating oily fish twice a week or as a supplement. Fish oils contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to help protect the heart. 

Reducing salt can help your blood pressure remain low, and adults should eat less than 6g of salt a day.

Get Active

It's well documented that an active lifestyle can reduce your risk of heart disease. Adults should do 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. You need to be active enough to be out of breath, so try an aerobics class, cycling or even brisk walking.

Simple things you can do include trying to not sit down for long periods and build more activity into your lifestyle. On lunch breaks go for a walk, on coffee breaks walk around the office. If you work from home, make sure you get out doors a couple of times a day to get some fresh air and exercise. Exercise also helps with stress and helps lower your blood pressure.

Check out these NHS guidelines for more information. 

Quit smoking

If you are a smoker, quitting smoking will be the best thing you can do for your heart as smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack as someone who has never smoked. If you live with smokers too this can also increase your risk of a heart attack.

For help with quitting smoking, ask your GP for advice. They can refer you to specialist NHS stop smoking team and can prescribe treatment to help you stop. Popular stop smoking options are nicotine replacement therapy, and medication to stop the cravings. 

Be a healthy weight

People with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 and above are considered 'obese'. It's a hard-hitting term but simply means you are 20 percent above your ideal weight. Why it is important is because it can put you at higher risk of health problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and more.

Eating less and moving more in the simplest terms will help you lose weight. There is a lot of advice on there on losing weight. If you do have a lot of weight to lose, ask your practice nurse/GP for advice and support.

Social support, such as joining a weight loss group has been shown to help you lose weight. If you are trying to lose weight on your own, a slow weight loss will help you lose fat and not muscle and is more achievable.

Limit alcohol 

Heavy drinking can damage the heart, however, some research suggests moderate drinking, less than 14 units a week could help protect it. It's important to also spread alcohol use throughout the week and avoid binge drinking. Drink alcohol with food to limit the effect on the body, and consider having a non-alcoholic drink in between your favourite glasses of wine, beer or spirits. 

Check out this article for a round-up of research into drinking alcohol and to make up your own mind. As always pay attention to up-to-date advice from respected medical professionals as things do change. If you are pregnant check out the advice for you as the Chief Medical Officer in the UK advises the safest approach is not to drink at all to keep risks at a minimum to the baby. 

Tell me, what do you do to look after your heart?

*PR collaboration

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

A Simple Guide To Renting Commercial Property

If you are considering renting a commercial property then there are many things you need to take into consideration.


This is the most important consideration and can have implications for the cost of the rent. A popular high street location would generally be costly compared to a side street.

When you are looking for a property for a restaurant, gift shop or cafe, then it will be important to ensure you have high footfall, however a specialist shop such as a wedding dress shop. wouldn't matter as much as people would travel to you.

When looking for office space or warehouse space then a high street location may not be important, however efficient transport links to the area would be.

Facilities and services

Basic facilities such as a toilet and washbasin with hot water are essential. however, there are a host of other facilities too that you may want to take into consideration.

If the business has parking facilities or the proximity to parking, this may be a bonus for staff and customers. Check if you have to pay extra if you get parking spaces with the property. If an office or shop is close to cafes and other shops this can also be a benefit.

Are there delivery facilities or parking/loading restrictions near to the business? This is especially important if you have a shop or restaurant/cafe which has regular deliveries.


As well as rent you need to factor in business rates, which is a tax on non-residential properties in England and Wales. You may be able to get business rates relief from you council so it's worth looking into this, and this could reduce the amount you pay.

Service charges are applicable to commercial property too so you may need to pay the landlord towards the upkeep of the property.

Legal costs will need to be paid and which include professional fees for a lawyer and surveyor, costs of searches and land registration fees and any stamp duty. Other costs include energy costs, phone line, moving costs, and fixtures and fittings.

Fitting and fixtures

Generally, you will be expected to fit out the commercial property yourself as you would like it. 

A commercial property may get high footfall so using a commercial flooring company can be a good idea as they can work around you and your business and fit a beautiful yet practical flooring to suit your needs.

There are specialist fixtures and fitting companies that can fit out a shop and you could consider going to one for all your needs or do it yourself.

Commercial properties will need an alarm so this is another cost to add to your list and shops would need cabinets, a till, a card machine and bags as well as stock.


As a tenant, you have responsibilities by law when renting a business property and under the Health and Safety At Work Act.

A health and safety risk assessment must be carried out to check for any hazards so you can remove them.  You will also be responsible for fire safety, electrical equipment, gas safety and managing asbestos. 

You need to ensure that there is good ventilation, that the working environment is of a comfortable temperature, that all equipment used is safe, that there are toilets and washing facilities and safe clean drinking water. 

So this is a simple guide to renting commercial property, and a starting point if you are considering this. Good luck with your business!

*PR collaboration

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Can a Rhinoplasty Help Me Breathe Better?

For many people who pursue rhinoplasty (commonly referred to as a "nose job"), the procedure is purely cosmetic. However, if you have breathing issues or find that you snore, you may be wondering whether or not a rhinoplasty can improve your breathing. The short answer is yes - this procedure has the potential to fix structural issues that may be obstructing your breathing. However, these procedures may differ from your typical rhinoplasty. Below, we'll look into what type of rhinoplasty can improve breathing issues as well as your quality of life.

How does a Rhinoplasty work to improve breathing?

Everyone has experienced breathing issues due to a cold or congestion, but for some, breathing through the nose becomes a challenge that doesn't get easier. For some people, structural issues within the nose itself make breathing very difficult. These issues are often genetic, but they may also be caused by injuries that have healed abnormally.

If you are one of the people who struggle with breathing issues due to your nasal shape, you may not realize your breathing issue is structural at first. This is because, when there is a physical issue preventing comfortable breathing, it is deep within the nose. Sometimes, the issue is caused by a deviated septum, which is an abnormality in the cartilage of the nose that divides the nostrils. In other instances, this issue is caused by unusually narrow or misshapen nasal passages.

Because the structural issues that cause breathing trouble are often hard for you yourself to see, it is a good idea to consult a general practitioner if you are having trouble breathing. Your doctor will be able to examine you and determine whether the issue is a structural one. If your doctor sees an abnormality with your nasal structure, you can then set up a consult with a plastic surgeon.

A rhinoplasty with the goal of improving breathing is known as either a "functional rhinoplasty" or "nasal valve repair." By widening the nasal passages and/or improving the shape of the septum, this procedure makes it so airflow through the nose is increased. This, in turn, makes breathing easier and more comfortable, and it may also help to reduce symptoms of snoring.

How is this different from a cosmetic Rhinoplasty?

If you're like many people, you might be surprised to learn that a rhinoplasty isn't always done to change the way you look. While both cosmetic and functional rhinoplasty procedures change the shape of your nose to an extent, they differ in one fundamental way: functional rhinoplasty reshapes the inside of the nose, while cosmetic rhinoplasty reshapes the outside. For instance, cosmetic rhinoplasty is frequently sought by those who want to make their nose straighter or smaller. Some people also want to narrow or widen their nose or make it into a particular shape.

While a cosmetic rhinoplasty is focused on appearance, it may involve some degree of reshaping the inside of the nose. However, most experienced plastic surgeons will be able to ensure that these changes do not negatively affect your ability to breathe well.

What if I want to breathe easier and also improve the appearance of my nose?

You may be wondering if you can combine functional and cosmetic rhinoplasty, as some who have issues with breathing may also want to reshape their nose while they are under anaesthesia for the functional rhinoplasty.

The good news is that, if you are a patient who wants to pursue both functional and cosmetic rhinoplasty, you can have both done at the same time. This offers a few advantages. One is that you can save money--since you will only need to cover operating room and anaesthetic costs for one surgery, you probably will spend less than if you opted to have separate cosmetic and functional rhinoplasties.

The other advantage is that you save yourself pain and recovery time. Recovering from a surgery, and especially recovering from one that involves the reshaping of bone, is often painful and time-consuming. Additionally, for most people, undergoing rhinoplasty will mean losing at least a few days of work or school. By combining procedures, you will be able to streamline recovery time.

It is important to note that, while the procedures can be combined, a combination functional/cosmetic rhinoplasty will almost always be more expensive than a rhinoplasty with a single focus.

How does the process work?

As with most plastic surgeries, rhinoplasty - whether cosmetic or functional, is a highly individualized procedure. If you are seeking out a rhinoplasty to improve your breathing, it is very important that you tell your surgeon about your symptoms. Then, taking your symptoms into account, your surgeon can examine your nose in order to help develop a surgical plan.

If you are hoping to also change the shape of your nose during this process, it may be helpful to tell your surgeon this as early on in the process as possible. This way, your surgeon will know all he or she needs to know while developing an individual surgical plan.

Recovery time varies depending on the extent of correction your rhinoplasty involves, but you very likely will need to plan to take some time off work or school. Be sure to ask your surgeon about downtime so you can plan accordingly. Lastly, you likely will need to plan for one or more follow-up appointments to be sure that your surgical site is healing well.

Are you ready to improve your breathing?

Having difficulty breathing is often distracting and uncomfortable, but you don't need to live with this treatable issue. If you are in the Washington, D.C. area, RENU, a practice founded by Dr Philip Schoenfeld, can help revolutionize your life. Dr Schoenfeld is a renowned facial plastic surgery and rhinoplasty specialist in Washington DC offering surgical and non-surgical procedures to improve health, appearance, and confidence. Better breathing is within your reach.

*Guest post

Monday, 12 March 2018

Kitchen and Dining Room Must Haves

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms of the home and, as such, it deserves to be treated accordingly. This room has often been described as the heart of the home, where people go not just to make food but to seek warmth, shelter, company and conversation.

Similarly, the dining room is also important. Although some homes have built-in kitchen/diners, the tradition of sitting down together as a family to eat your evening meal is one that many households still uphold today.

So, we all know that these two rooms are integral, but how should we go about furnishing and decorating them?

Whether you are looking for an update to refresh the look and feel of your home or have just moved into a brand new property, here are some must-have essentials you should be sure to incorporate into your home.

In the Kitchen


Pots, pans and utensils – the bread and butter of the kitchen. Many homeowners end up hoarding cookware, resulting in cupboards being filled with old items and bits and pieces that are no longer in a usable condition or, at the other end of the spectrum, have never even been used. Instead of this, now is the perfect time to spring clean your kitchen and work to create a cleaner, tidier living environment for the whole family to enjoy! Simply work out which pieces of cookware you actually use on a regular basis – these are your kitchen cookware must-haves.


In the kitchen, your crockery is one area where you can really push the boat out in terms of uniqueness. Colours, patterns and designs are entirely your own choice, allowing you to get creative and make the most of the styles that are available to you. Don’t be afraid to mix and match contrasting colours or patterns for a truly unique crockery collection, either!


Although there are certain essentials that every kitchen needs, there’s no reason not to get creative with your choices and do what you can to make the most of your individuality. Small appliances like toasters and kettles can often be colour matched, allowing you to create a greater level of uniformity throughout your kitchen.

In the Dining Room

Tables and Chairs

Of course, it almost goes without saying, but one dining room essential is a table and chairs. Even if you don’t sit down for a family meal together every night, you will still need somewhere to enjoy your meals. While the size of your table and chairs will largely depend upon the amount of space available and the size of your household, you can get creative with the style, design and finishes. Whether you prefer traditional or contemporary, subtle and muted or bright and bold, the choice is entirely yours!


If you have the space available for a larger dining table, then it may be nice to pick out a centrepiece to take pride of place on the table. From plants and vases to ornaments and candles, pick something that works for you and the space you have available. It can make a nice touch to try and coordinate the colours to other items in the room, such as curtains, lampshades, carpets or the shade of the walls as this will create a more complementary feel to the room.

Wine Rack

If you are a wine connoisseur, the chances are that you will have built up a wine collection of your favourite bottles over the years. If this is the case, you need somewhere safe and secure to store them – contemporary wine racks are ideal. If you have enough bottles, you could even make the rack into the focal point of the room and pick a stylish design which draws the eye to really make the most of the piece.

Of course, every home is different, and everyone prefers to decorate and furnish their homes in different ways. As with any home improvement project, the most important thing is to go with what you are happy and comfortable with – don’t be afraid to let your individual personality shine through your home.

*Guest post

Friday, 9 March 2018

The Top Things To Do In Zermatt Switzerland

Zermatt in Switzerland is one of those absolutely beautiful places that you have to pinch yourself to believe is real.

A car-free town, Zermatt it is only accessible by train but that makes it more of an adventure to visit. Fly into Geneva and take the train to this picturesque town, winding through the deepest cleft valley in Switzerland, with the highest mountains in the country on both sides, taking in the lush green mountains with the snow-topped peaks. The majesty of the famous Matterhorn mountain is just astounding.

Take a walking tour

Taxis and buses in the town are electric and its fairly easy to get around on foot. The old timber buildings from the 16th century are just beautiful and as well as gorgeous little cafes serving the best hot chocolate and restaurants with tasty cheese fondues there are boutiques selling high-end clothing, exclusive jewellery and watches, good quality sports clothing and cute little gift shops.

Go skiing

They say snow is guaranteed 365 days a year so it's a great place for skiing, with the best time mid-July to September

You don't have to be able to ski to take a cable car, though, so if skiing is not your thing, why not take a cable car to the top of the mountains and sit with a coffee taking in the fantastic view.

Hike into the mountains

Hiking into the mountains is a great pass time, and in Zermatt, there is over 400 km of hiking trail, with different degrees of difficulty for beginners and families to harder trails for experienced hikers.

See if you can spot the local wildlife - Alpine ibex, stags, roe deer, and marmots are some of the animals you could spot in the area.

Discover the amazing restaurants

Zermatt has a wide range of places to eat and drink, Stop in a cafe with a view of the Matterhorn for a tasty lunch of garlic soup or grandmas homemade vegetable casserole, dine in cosy restaurants on the best Swiss fondue or farm fresh lamb, or eat in one of the 16 restaurants listed in the Michelin guide for the best in haute-cuisine.

Indulge in a spa treatment

There are more than two dozen hotels that offer spa and wellness facilities in Zermatt. After enjoying the refreshing mountain air, why not have a relaxing swim in an indoor or outdoor pool or a spa treatment such as a massage or facial.

Stay in a luxury chalet

Stay in a luxury chalet for the ultimate Zermatt experience. Zermatt chalets are well equipped and are especially perfect if you are travelling with friends or family. Maybe you are celebrating a birthday and want somewhere to stay for a family get together, then renting a chalet can be the perfect experience. Tempston Luxury have Zermatt rentals that can sleep from 2 to 36, some with hot tubs and even a cinema room, and with traditional chalets as well as super modern ones you will be spoilt for choice.

So here are my top things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland. Have you been to this beautiful alpine village or would you go?

*PR collaboration


Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Why You Should Choose A Gen X Blogger To Promote Your Brand

Gen X bloggers rock. There I said it, but sometimes I feel we don't shout loud enough for companies to realise. 

Those of us from the Gen X period were born roughly from 1961 to 1981 (or even 1964 to 1985). We know how to work hard and how to play hard but we also seem to get overlooked by brands and agencies. Maybe it's the emphasis on the 'smartphone' generation' that companies spend billions on but what about us Gen X'ers?

We thought we were going to get killed by rabies, or quicksand or nuclear war. We used Sony Walkmans, recorded our music on tape, were the first to own a video recorder,  but we were also there from the beginning of the World Wide Web and grew up with the Internet. We transformed the 80's and owned the 90's. We are pushing back the rules on ageing by being kids at heart but we are still mature enough to get on with life. We use Facebook, a lot, Instagram and Twitter. We are social media savvy. So how does this translate to us Gen X bloggers?

"Most of us want a little luxury and can afford to pay for it"

Now don't get me wrong I'm not bashing any group of people here I'm just trying to fly the flag for us Gen X bloggers. It's a silly term really as it covers people born over a 20 year period, but one thing we do have in common as we get older is most of us want a little luxury and can afford to pay for it. Often we are independent travellers, used to the Internet to book holidays. We use YouTube, Tripadvisor and blogs to look for reviews. Our children are growing up, leaving home, and we are likely to have lower mortgage costs. We often have more disposable income than those younger than us. Our readers do too. That is why we need to be taken seriously.

"We often have more disposable income than those younger than us."

We want to see countries, cities, local life in faraway places on our own terms. We want luxury but value for money too. I know I don't like to waste money and our generation was often told that you need to work hard for every penny. 

Many of us are happy to spend our money on well-made quality items - a great coat, a well-made bag, jewellery that is unique and reflects our personality. 

Our kids are getting older, or maybe we don't have kids and often we are ready to explore. In fact, as we get older, our readers are getting older too. We are maturing without losing a sense of fun and more importantly, we have lived a life. A life that gives our writing an edge.

So don't overlook us PR companies, brands, destinations, use us to promote your quality brands, your luxury destinations, your boutique hotels. As our readers have the money to buy your products, to explore your countries and to live a lifestyle with a touch of luxury. That is why you should choose a Gen X blogger to promote your brand.

I asked some blogger's to comment on why you should choose a Gen X blogger to promote your brand and this is what they said.

Emma Tustian
Why should you choose a Gen X blogger to promote your brand? You should because we've been through life good and bad, have a more laid-back attitude to bringing up kids (or have already done so), there's fewer of us around than younger bloggers, so can reach out to slightly older demographics as well as younger ones.

Monika Mumonthebrink
Gen X are the linchpin between the non-connected 9-5 society and the 24/7 always connected society. We've grown up being allowed to be bored and learned the new world as it came about. We are raising and equipping the first generation of people who have an indelible digital footprint. Our audience is mature and tends to be well-considered, more disposable income.

Victoria Welton
We have seen the before and after effects of social media. As an older mum, I'm making sure that my children - daughter of 10 and a son of 5 months - understand that there is more to life than computer games and selfies. I believe that I can be more rounded in my opinions and more honest with my audience which all comes down to life experience.

Emma Bradley
Generation X bloggers have a little bit of life experience that they bring to their blogs and to those reading it. We have witnessed the digital explosion and embraced it using this new technology to change careers. We use our space on the internet to inspire and challenge others. We often review products and work on exciting campaigns because we influence others with our words and images. We might not be the new young thing but we are grounded and have worked out our values and our place in society.

Clare Nicholas
We've seen life without social media and boy was it easier but we are also embracing it to the full and many like myself have managed to turn it into a full-time job. We've seen it evolve from the start and are easily adaptable to new streams of social media and being online. We are more aware that there is life away from a computer screen and can help younger generations to find a happy medium...hopefully. 

Sally Akins
1975 Xennial here, and I think that sometimes those of us born in the 1970s are thought of as not being as comfortable with technology as Millennials and Centennials. But we're just as eager to adopt new technology as the generations who follow us, plus we have the extra life experience to bring to our content. And our readers also tend to have more disposable income and more free time than those from younger generations, making them a great target audience for brands.

Mel Knibb 
As we grew up without social media, we are all too conscious of the dangers of the Internet, as well as how attractive it is (information at the ready, never get lost with GPS, friends always connected). I also feel like I really understand both 'worlds' and can relate to older generations who cannot get their heads around a touch screen, and younger ones who learn to code pretty much before they learn to read.

Kaz Dee
I’m a 1971 baby and think we bring so much - we are old enough to remember pre-internet days but young enough to embrace all the technology and its rapid developments. I want my children (21,17,15,5) to know about the values and importance of what I grew up with, to value and understand what they have today.

Claire Toplis
As a blogger of that age Golden age, I’d say I think we are well placed.We have a nod to the past with two eyes firmly on the future. We are wise with our words and can impart our knowledge with conviction.

Kavita Favelle
Travelling in your forties or fifties is a wholly different game than the wide-eyed but inexperienced wonder of your twenties or even thirties. With age comes a much wider knowledge of the world... of global cultures and cuisines, of the sheer variety of natural landscapes and manmade urban ones, of history, politics and ways of life. With age comes (if you are fortunate) a higher disposable income, much of which can be put aside for travel. With age comes a much deeper well of experience; this applies to travel and to life in general. And for me personally, it's the point in life where I've achieved a great life-work balance and can dedicate a lot more time to travelling, and to sharing my experiences and recommendations with others. Generation X bloggers have so much experience, what we write and share is often more detailed, and able to put a place into context, to really pinpoint why a reader might choose this place or activity above any other. And of course, many of our readers are in the same demographic and are eagerly looking for recommendations from people they trust!


Monday, 5 March 2018

Watching My First Triathlon

I'm always in awe of those super fit people in the world. People who can run 10K without losing breath, people who get to the end of a Zumba class and hardly break out a sweat, and people who can swim lengths of the pool like an elegant fish getting lost in the water like they belong. I'm not one of these people I admit, so I live my fitness goals through the likes of other people, like my brother-in-law Stephen.

My brother-in-law Stephen doesn't do things by halves, and one of them is fitness. He's just turned 60 and he's a triathlete. 

If you don't know what a triathlete is, it's a person that runs triathlons. This multiple-stage competition involves great inner and mental strength, great stamina and great endurance.   

The most popular form of a triathlon involves swimming, cycling and running in quick succession without a break over various distances.   

Last year we went to Tenby, in West Wales to see Stephen complete the Ironman Wales triathlon.  This begins on Tenby's North Beach and ends on the Esplanade.  The Ironman is a specific type of triathlon and is one of the most difficult sporting events in the world. A 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a complete marathon of 26 miles, raced in that order and without a break. It's not for the faint-hearted!

Beautiful Tenby, normally a sleepy town out of peak tourist season, really comes alive for the Ironman Wales and the camaraderie is amazing with all the spectators cheering the participants on. 

If you are thinking of entering your first triathlon there are some things you need to know. A good training programme is, of course, important for your first and indeed subsequent triathlons, and then getting the right kit is important as it can make all the difference. 

Below is the basic kit for a new triathlete and can be varied as needed. 

For the swim
A wetsuit with goggles and a swimming cap. 

For the cycle
A bike in good working order, cycle shorts and top, water bottle.

For the run
Addition of well-fitted running shoes.

Some triathletes will change into cycle shorts after the swim whilst some will use a Huub tri suit, which is suitable for each step of the race. This can maximise performance and be supremely comfortable managing temperature for the race in hand. 

For swimming caps and goggles or if you want a wetsuit,  try a site like Simply Swim,  a specialist bike shop will be your best bet for that perfect bike, whilst running trainers can be picked up on the high street, just be sure to get the best you can afford, wearing them in beforehand.

With the Ironman triathlon, you have 17 hours to complete it - Stephen did it in about 16 hours. Not too shabby for a 60-year-old and I couldn't do even one leg of this race that's for sure! 

Have you ever watched a triathlon? Would you think about participating?

*PR collaboration


Friday, 2 March 2018

A Visit To The Cornish Seal Sanctuary Gweek Cornwall

Have you ever been to a tourist attraction or destination and just thinking about it for days later, makes you smile? The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek made me do just that. 

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary at Gweek, on the beautiful Helford Estuary, is one of Europe's busiest and best seal rescue and rehabilitation facilities.

They have clear aims and objectives here which is great to see. The most important one is that they handle the seals as little as possible, whilst still providing professional care for the animals. This is so that they do not become tame and can fend for themselves when released back into the wild. If the animals cannot be returned, for example, those that are too sick or disabled for release or those that are rehomed from zoos, then they provide a safe and caring environment.  They also educate the public and raise awareness of the wealth and diversity of the marine environment. As well as seals there are other animals too such as sea lions, penguins and otters.

So we set off on the 40-minute drive from where we were staying in St Ives to get to the seal sanctuary.  When we got there we were greeted by Ellie, one of the members of staff who was allocated to show us around as we had arranged a 'breakfast with the seals' package.   This premium package included early entry prior to opening, a private VIP tour with a member of staff, a chance to feed the seals and breakfast in the cafe. If you want to do this package it needs to be booked at least two weeks in advance. 

Top Tip I would also recommend booking on the website if you want standard entry as it's cheaper than just turning up. There are also other VIP packages such as being a keeper for a day so do check them out.

Ellie was amazing and super enthusiastic about the seal sanctuary. Although only a member of staff for a short time, her love of the place really shone through.  She explained that this year was the 60th year of the seal sanctuary and that it started in 1958 when the founder Ken Jones found a baby seal washed up on the beach in St Agnes, Cornwall. This was the first of many rescues, the single pool that Ken used soon became too small and in 1975 a new site was found in Gweek.  

Then on to the tour. The first place we were taken to was the seal rescue hospital and admission centre.  Most of the pups here are young, many only a few weeks old. When the seals come in they are assessed, any wounds treated and put on a treatment plan. Many of the seal pups are malnourished. When a seal has babies, the mum feeds them milk 5 to 6 times a day, then after 3-4 weeks the mum leaves them and heads back out to sea to feed and mate again.  In this time the seal pup has to learn how to find fish and feed itself. This is a time when they are at their most vulnerable. This is often the time that seals are brought to the centre, washed up or injured during storms. If a seal pup is admitted at this stage they are fed a fish soup mixed with Lucozade through a syringe until they start eating properly.  They have to be 35 to 40 kilos before they are released. 

In the seal hospital is the food prep area, and here we saw the volunteers who wash and sort the fish.

After the hospital, we were taken to the nursery pool. The seals in this pool had gained weight and were well enough to move on from the hospital.

After the nursery pool, we moved on to the convalescent pools. These pools had mostly seal pups, but also a few adult seals with injuries or disabilities that meant they wouldn't be able to survive in the wild. These adult seals helped nurture the seal pups, and the seal pups learn how to fight for the fish as they would in the wild. 

It's important here to point out that this place isn't a zoo, it's a working hospital and rehabilitation centre and thus the areas to swim and enclosures aren't of course, as big as the wild open sea.  The water for the pools are also taken from the sea so can be murky in places, but that is how it should be, as the baby seals will be returned to the wild.

As part of the package, we were given the opportunity to feed the seals in the rehabilitation pool. I left this to Mr W who had a challenge for the seals to get the fish before the seagulls!

The seals are moved there when they have been socialised with the adults and get to the desired weight of between 35 and 40 KG before they can be released. Then the staff wait for good weather and good surf for the seals to be released. The pool here is smaller so they can drain it quicker on release day, and then they are taken in a trailer to the beach. They are released in groups of 6 to 10 and those that are less confident can take the lead from others.

After feeding the fish we were shown the two Californian sea lions which were rehomed from a wildlife park in Spain. It was interesting to hear that when they arrived they could only understand Spanish. They had to be taught commands in English (so the team could carry out health checks). 

There are also otters, penguins, a play area for children and a rock pool area where children can learn about starfish, crabs and sea anemones. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to explore more. 

Then it was time for our breakfast which was in with the 'breakfast with the seals' package'. This included a huge basket of croissants and pain au chocolats, toast, porridge, fresh fruit, orange juice, tea or coffee. I think other cereals were available.  The food was plentiful and there was more than enough food for us both. 

When we had breakfast Mr W and I chatted about the sanctuary. The work that the Cornish Seal Sanctuary does is amazing and we can definitely recommend the breakfast with the seals' package at £35 per person. 

If you are coming for a visit though there are certain things to bear in mind. 

  • The number of seals in the sanctuary can vary depending on when they are released, and at certain times of the year, you will see less. 
  • Book your tickets online for the best prices, and all VIP packages need to be booked at least two weeks in advance.
  • The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is part of Merlin Entertainment group so if you have an annual pass you should be able to use it for entry. 
  • The area is hilly, and this will have implications if you are in a wheelchair, have a mobility scooter or have mobility problems. 
  • At peak times there is a safari bus to take people to the main pools, which will help those with young children, but this may not be running in Winter.  
  • Check out the times for animal feeding and talks on the website, to help you plan your visit.
  • Allow a couple of hours for your stay.
  • As always check the website for the most up-to-date information. 

Here is a video Mr W made for the travel blog and YouTube channel we create together Fly Drive Explore.

So if you love seals, and want to support the work that the Cornish Seal Sanctuary do to rescue and rehabilitate marine animals, I would say go. 

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary,
TR12 6UG.
01326 221 361

*We were given complimentary admission but all opinions are my own

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Why Garden Benches Are A Sign Of A Welcome In Your Garden

Wooden benches for your garden come in a variety of shapes, designs and sizes. Not only can they be designed to look traditional or modern, but they can also be great for creating a functional and fun family seating area too. 

Plenty of people have benches in their garden as a place to sit, as well as the decorative focal point. However, what you might not realise is that wooden benches are also a great sign that you are ready to welcome people into your garden too. Here are some reasons why you should have a garden bench in your garden. 

They are a place to sit together

One of the main reasons that people install wooden benches into their garden is because they want to sit together and chat. Benches come in a variety of styles, some are for two people to sit together, some offer the option of two separate seats that are joined together with a table in the middle. Some are large picnic style benches that everyone can crowd around.

The bench that you pick for your garden will really depend not only on the space that you have to spare but also, just how many people you think will be visiting you and your garden.

They show that you are ready to relax

There is no better feeling than sitting on a wooden bench and simply watching the world go by, particularly if that is with a large cup of tea in hand. Having a garden bench means that you always have a place to sit down and relax, no matter the time of day or the weather. Many people like watching the birds and local wildlife in their garden too. For your guests, it also shows that you are ready to sit down and chat whenever they need you, without having to go to the hassle of digging out a folded chair into the garden or even dragging a chair from inside, outside.

They can be stylish

Whilst the main aim is to provide a place to sit and bring people together, garden benches can also do this in style. Garden benches come in a variety of styles and designs that will appeal to everyone, so you will definitely find one that will fit in with the rest of your garden and your own personal style. You can opt for intricate and ornate or perhaps something a little more basic. It really is down to you.

You can make them a memorial bench

Memorial benches are incredibly popular. This is because they allow you to sit and think about the person who is no longer in your life. They are often placed in public places or sites of particular interest to the person who has passed away, but they can just as easily be located in someone’s garden. Having a memorial bench in your garden is not only ideal for you to use, but also could be a site that family and friends can come and sit down too, remembering the person that has passed. It can help you feel closer to them, despite them no longer being around.

They are social

As we have already covered, garden benches are a great place to sit together and relax. Which means that they are a social spot within your garden. This is particularly true if you pick out a garden bench that is has a table attached. You will often see these used by families who like to eat together outside, as well as those people who like to throw parties or BBQ’s in the summer months.

The great thing about wooden benches is that they are always there, which means that no matter when it is, no matter who has come to visit, you are going to be ready and waiting to invite them into your garden.

As you can see, there are a variety of reasons why people see garden benches as a way to be welcomed into a garden.  Why not install a wooden bench into your outdoor space and see just how much it improves it? With so many different styles to choose from, you are never going to be stuck finding a wooden bench that is not only the ideal style for you, but offers something extra to your garden and give your guests the welcome that you hope to achieve.

*Guest post

Making An Entrance

The phrase 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder', often holds true when it comes to what people feel when they look at a home or business for the first time. Positive or negative first impressions are formed instantaneously. Curb appeal refers to the aesthetic charm of a residence or commercial property when first seen. Usually, this becomes more significant when selling the property.

The new kerb appeal in the internet-obsessed age is having your property up for sale on an internet listing. “Web appeal” means that a home’s interior and exterior both need to be inviting enough to tempt potential buyers online.

A company’s kerb appeal sends a significant message to customers. Current and potential customers form an opinion about your business based on how it appears from the outside.

There are some notable examples worldwide where unusual exteriors have raised eyebrows, for example, a sporting venue’s entrance that resulted in a redesign five years after construction, artsy apartments in Seattle, USA or even the CCTV media house headquarters in China, referred to as “the Big Pants” by residents.

CCTV media house China Photo by Verdgris, CC BY-SA 3.0

These whimsical structures contrast with the Brutalism exemplified by bare concrete that was prevalent from the 1950s to the mid-1970s. Brutalism was the style popularised in post-war Britain, exemplified by many shopping malls, government projects and high-rise apartments. Its origins can be traced to French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier. The name itself was derived from b├ęton brut or “raw concrete,” but the name created a wholly different and for some, negative connotation.

This architectural legacy resulted in different box-shaped homes built from cheap and ageing materials, which over time, became quite unpopular and hotly debated over whether it is worth preserving or not.

Discarding an architectural genre does not come without resistance, so there will likely be a compromise. The exterior of any property can be tweaked through several imaginative options. Some inexpensive fixes to a boring house include putting on some accent trim like shutters, investing in some creative landscaping or painting the entrance a new colour.

Photo by Chanilim714, CC BY-SA 3.0

Even your old driveway can get a pick-me-up with some paving stones to uplift a lacklustre entrance. Creating an outdoor space at the front of the house for entertainment can also make the home quite inviting. A water feature, for example, is both pleasing to the eye and calming.

Photo by Phil Jones, CC BY-SA 2.0

For a business, architects can incorporate some comfort features into a new facade so that the style of the business is improved, and the functionality is enhanced as well. Contemporary buildings also have the critical role of improving energy performance for the interior of a building. Natural ventilation may be the purpose of the upgrade. In improving the exterior, access may be upgraded to accommodate ageing clientele or those with vision or physical issues.

Though the term 'kerb appeal' relates to selling a property, it’s not the sole reason for improving the exterior. Besides sending a message about you, the homeowner, or about the business, there can be a functional reason for an exterior upgrade like energy-efficiency or improving access. A professional can assist, but there are reasonable options that you can do to turn your uninspiring entrance into a visual masterpiece.

Do you have ways of adding kerb appeal to your home or business?

*collaborative post

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