Thursday, 30 June 2016

Top 5 Tips On Saving Money As A Student

The Summer holidays are fast approaching and many of you have teenagers who will be moving onto university or college. It's an exciting but also worrying time for parents. You may worry about how your child will manage his or her time. How will they cope with the work load? Will they be able to get to lectures on time? How will they manage financially on a student loan?

My son has just returned from his first year at uni and I had all those thoughts myself. To me it was important to sit down with him at the start of the academic year and talk about how he would manage financially, and look at ways to budget and save money. Some students pick up this knowledge anyway but it was reassuring to talk about it and know that he had some of the skills needed as well as discussing further ways to save with him.

Here are my top 5 tips on saving money as a student.





Image Copyright: Rawpixel.com Shuttertstock

1. Work out a budget and stick to it


I know it's not exciting but work out how much money you have coming in, how much your outgoings are and how much you will have left at the end of the month. The Money Advice Service has a great online budget tool if you need help with this.

Money Saving Expert works this out by 'count your student loan and any grant, any cash from parents and any work income, then minus your outgoings and don’t spend more than that.' .

It is worth signing up for a student bank account as many give perks like a 0% interest free overdraft which can help with emergencies.

2. Get the benefits and loans you are entitled to

A student loan is available for tuition fees and living expenses for the majority of students in the UK and it's the lowest cost loan you will ever get. Check out the Student Loans Company for further information.

As a full time student living with other students or on your own you don't need to pay council tax. Make sure you fill in the relevant forms from the local council so you don't have to pay. If you live with a non-student, you still receive a 25 per cent reduction in your council tax. To get your discount, make sure you apply to your local council via www.gov.uk.

If you are a parent, have a low income or a disability there may be benefits you can claim from the government, and financial help and assistance you can get from the college or university, so it's worth checking this out.

If you are predicted to get high grades, there may be scholarships available too, contact the finance department of the college or university to find out.


3. Get an NUS Extra card


The National Union Of Students run a scheme, where for £12 for 12 months students can get an NUS Extra card which gives discounts on eating out, fashion, shopping and much more. Nationwide companies are involved and you can get 5% off on Amazon, 10% off at Co-operative food, and 10% off at Superdrug for example.

4. Sign up for travel cards

As a student and/or a young person you can travel for a lot less with a student bus pass or a 16-25 rail card. The cost of transport can be a big part of a student's budget, especially if they are travelling from home, so any savings here will help a lot.

5. Only pay the TV Licence if you need to

Yes you can legally so this! If you only watch TV on catch up and limit it to you mobile, laptop or computer you don't have to pay the TV licence fee which is £145.50 a year. My son successfully did not pay last year as he doesn't watch live TV. Be sure to check out the TV licence website for up-to-date information on this, and you will have to complete a form online or ring them to speak to them about this and make a declaration.

If you do get a TV license and leave the accommodation in the summer months you can apply for a rebate for that time, which can be up to £40.

For more information check out this guide to student money saving by Money Saving Expert.

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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Win A Retro Sweet Hamper Ends 31st July

Today on my blog I am giving away a yummy retro sweet hamper from I Just Love It.



I Just Love It is an online gift site which offers personalised products. They are a great company run by enthusiastic people with excellent customer service skills and a wide range of gifts suitable for everyone.


If you want a great gift for kids, they have a range from personalised kids books, to colouring pencils, which are useful so they don't lose them in school! If you enjoy good food and wine they have lovely food and drink hampers and personalised bottles of whiskey and wine - great for a special birthday. Jewellery lovers are spoilt with engraved bracelets and necklaces that are so so pretty and make excellent gifts for that someone special.  If you love your sports, they have golf, rugby, cricket and tennis gifts as well as a terrific range of footie gifts for the football fans amongst you.




The hamper that I am giving away today of full of those sweets you may remember from your childhood. From Refresher chews to Popping Candy to Drumstick lollies you get a selection of all those amazing sweeties that you used to buy in your local sweetshop. Full of the best classic sweets every invented this hamper is a brilliant gift for children and adults of all ages. Presented in a wicker basket, ever self respecting sweet tooth lover would love this retro sweet hamper! It can also be personalised too to make it extra special.

If you love competitions check out the chance to win an IPhone SE on my blog too!

Good luck!

Win a retro sweet hamper



Terms and conditions

You must be 18 + to enter 

Open to entrants in UK only
One entry per household 
Winner will be contacted within 7 days of the competition ending 
If I do not hear from the winner within 28 days I reserve the right to redraw 
Please allow 28 days for delivery 
Giveaway Ends 2016-07-31 11:59:59 PM


SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

More competitions at ThePrizeFinder 

As seen on www.loquax.co.uk

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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Mens Fashion Tips

This infographic on mens fashion tips is written with tongue firmly in cheek but it does make some good points too. 

Most people do judge you on what you wear, so ensuring your clothes are clean and ironed and are appropriate for the situation will ensure you are accepted, whether that is on a date night, meet up with friends or a work situation.

Use aftershave carefully, a splash can make you smell fresh and look like you have made an effort, a drench can be over powering and turn a date right off.

Wardrobe classics such as a black tie, navy jacket or white shirt should be a basis of a work wardobe. Keep the fun novelty ties for Christmas day!

My favourite is number 18, 'please for the love of people's eyes, don't wear speedos', too fitted and clingy and just plain wrong.  

So if you want a bit of a chuckle and some fashion tips too, put those budgie smugglers away and brush up on these fashion tips for that man in your life.

22 Mens Fashion Tips  
Source http://www.stand-out.net/blog/22-top-tips-for-mens-fashion/

*PR collaboration
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Monday, 27 June 2016

My Top Three Hen Party Destinations

Weddings can be romantic, exciting and even entertaining and part of the fun of the wedding celebrations, especially for the female guests, is the hen party.



Berlin

Instead of having a drunken night at a local club followed by an Indian meal at your local restaurant, why not try something different. A recent study revealed that 1.3 million men and women headed abroad from the UK last year for the hen or stag do. This doesn't have to cost the earth either, although if you do have the budget then you can splurge. This is my guide to alternative hen party destinations for everyone.


Riga, Lativa

 


Riga, the capital of Latvia has beautiful architecture, a cultural centre, and a medieval Old Town.

Good for those that want some culture with their celebrations, in the day go shopping in the UNESCO protected central market and take in the ornate, gothic inspired Nativity of Christ Cathedral, or the House Of The Blackheads, one of Riga's architectural treasures.

At night celebrate with a cocktail or two at the chic Skyline bar with incredible views of the city or visit the Hardcore Hangover Club, with two rooms, a chill out space and a party room/dance floor, the cheap drinks and late hours make it the perfect party place.


Riga's foodie scene has become hip recently. The airy and modern restaurant 3 Pavaru (3 Chefs), is a much-welcomed addition to Riga’s restaurant scene. Featuring contemporary Latvian cuisine, the restaurant has quickly become popular due to the exciting interpretation of traditional Latvian dishes. If you want something totally different, Vincents, has a modern tasting menu with gastronomic food that will blow your mind. The next day when only comfort food will do after the late night out, try a brunch at Pagalms cafe.


Berlin, Germany



Germany's capital and cultural centre is steeped in history.

To keep the mood light avoid the obvious historic sites, like the Berlin Wall and the Topography Of Terror - at least for the time being, you can always visit again. The city is vast so why not take a city bike tour, checking out the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie on your ride, and then soak up the sun at Badeschiff, a floating pool on the top of the River Spree. 

Berlin's nightlife is legendary. Berghain is perhaps one of the best known clubs, playing techno. Your time at Berghain will involve dancing to the early hours, whilst at the Panorama Bar, you’ll find a more cheerful atmosphere, playing all variations of house music. Alternatively what about some cool cocktails at Limonadier, or a bit of burlesque in Prinzipal Kreuzberg? 


For a meal with a difference check out the underground scene on Berlin's supper clubs, you have to sign up in advance to the email and pray you get in, so this will only work with a small number of people. Alternatively try the eclectically decorated 3 Minutes Sur Mer or the chic Alpenstück for trendy South German cuisine.

Reykjavik, Iceland




For awe inspiring landscapes and an ice cool experience, literally, why not visit the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. 

The city centre is walkable so in the day visit the museums tracing Iceland’s Viking history, the striking concrete Hallgrimskirkja church or the rotating Perlan glass dome offering sweeping views of the sea and nearby hills. For something special you could always visit the Blue Lagoon a short drive away, where you can relax outdoors in the warm geothermal spa waters. Those more adventurous can take a trip to the Thrihnukagigur Volcano, the only volcano in the world which you can explore from the inside! 

In the night try one of the many cafes that turn into bars and clubs - stay for a meal and end up all night boogying the night away. Most of the bars are located in the main shopping street Laugavegur and are literally next door to each other, so you will not have far to stagger. You will not find a club on many floors with different rooms all with different genres of music, Reykavik is not like that, but you can have fun all the same. 

If you want a traditional meal out, Hofnin is the place to sample freshly caught seafood with a great view of the harbour, whilst for a trendy joint try Kol, with it's experimental tasting menu it's the place to go for real foodies. For an awe inspiring experience you could always take a night tour to see the Northern Lights too, something you will remember for the rest of your life or a Game Of Thrones location tour.

Iceland

So these are my top three hen party destinations, for more exciting and alternative hen party destinations check out this guide to hen do hotspots in Europe.

Have you been to any of these cities? 

*sponsored post, words and opinions are my own
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Canvas Prints From My Picture

I have SO many photos of my life, being a mum, being a blogger and especially being a travel blogger.  I have always enjoyed taking photos. I think photos are great at capturing that moment, the moment of surprise, the moment of fun, that moment of pure emotion. As Karl Lagerfeld says "“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.” 

Photos capture memories, that the heart and the mind sometimes forget. Memories like the time you went camping and you had the best time sitting out under the stars with your loved one, memories like that time in Paris when you caught that fantastic sunset photo, memories when you went to Disneyworld Florida and you saw the castle in the Magic Kingdom for the first time, and then saw the look on your little one's face.



In the good old days, my mum used to keep photos of me in a box, some got a bit dog eared I admit but they were all in one place. Then the photo album appeared, photos were stuck in with little corner tapes. Then photo albums appeared with adhesive sheets, you carefully had to peel the pages back, position them carefully and hope that the pages stuck.

Today things have changed so much. Photobooks, fridge magnets, personalised key rings, coasters, jigsaws, bags, these are some of the ways photos can be displayed. 




One idea I have been thinking of for a while is getting a canvas print of my family to put on our wall. You have to get the right photo though, I think it's nice that a canvas photo is natural and isn't too staged, yet still shows you and your family in a flattering light.  

Of course you can also create individually designed canvas prints as design statements, either from a photograph you have taken yourself or uploaded from a print online, and this can be colour co-ordinated to fit with your decor.



Canvas prints can make excellent gifts too, mixing old painting traditions with new technologies and innovation. The natural colour and a contrast-rich image of the photo on canvas are also guaranteed by using the latest technology.

If you are buying a canvas print use a quality company like My Picture. My Picture do not use solvents in their productions at all, and use renewable energies whilst creating the canvas. Every year they also plant over 1000 trees to help replace the trees they use in making the paper.

The process of ordering the canvas is straight forward too, just upload online and your canvas is ready to ship in 24 hours. So if you are looking to get a canvas print, the hardest thing to do is pick that perfect photo for that perfect canvas of your perfect memory.

Tell me, have you thought about getting a canvas print? If you did what photo would you use?

*PR collaboration
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Saturday, 25 June 2016

Places To Eat And Drink In Kalamaki

Hello, I'm Su and blog at Soosie Wales I mainly blog about family, photography, food, travel and general musings.  Like Mel I like travelling and recently went to Zante for the 3rd time. 

I'll be posting a bit of a travelogue about Zante on my blog but as I'm guesting for Mel I'll let you in on some of the best places to eat and drink in Kalamaki, Zante.


Everyone (generally) knows where Drunk Corner (DC) is and tends to give directions from there.

In the picture: top to bottom. 
Costa's Pool Bar, Drunk Corner, Two Brothers, Greek Burger and Tuna Salad at Cronulla and Stifado at Escape. 

Drunk Corner- Run by Tassos and Demi, it's mainly a bar but also popular for breakfast and lunches. The place to go if you want to see any sport or happen to be there when Britain's Got Talent or XFactor is on. You'll always get a warm welcome.

Olive Tree - (DC on your right it's just up on the left) Good food and they do an early bird free starter if you arrive before 8pm. Renowed for Olive Tree Lamb, slow cooked shank, delicious. 

Cronulla Hotel- Next door to DC. The hotel has a good pool area which is open to all. Breakfast choices include a full English, toast, tea and juice for under 5€. Also lots of lighter choices. Lunches are HUGE so consider sharing one dish. They won't mind! It's a good place for dinner too but there's not much choice - basically the same as lunch time. 

Escape - Go down the road opposite DC.  Maria will give you a warm welcome!  Beef Stifado, Lamb Kleftiko, Soulaki all home made. The house white wine is Solomos and is very good. 

Dias- DC on the left take the road that runs up the side. A few people raved about this restaurant.  We were rather disappointed, it's one of those places where you feel that you're just being processed rather than treated like customers. The food was very tasty and the Brucshetta is divine! Just a shame the staff are so snooty.

Two Brothers and Rose N Crown - DC on left and good 5 mins walk on the right.  The two brothers own both so you can have a drink in the bar and order your food. They'll call you over to your table when it's ready. Although the food was good, they bring a bread basket to the table which they charge you extra for which I thought was a bit cheeky! Great service though and you get a rather large Ouzo with the bill! 

Costas pool bar - Keep going past Two Brothers and you'll see Sophia's supermarket, go down the road opposite and then down the road and it's on the left. 

We went there several times as it's opposite where we were staying. Open all day, great breakfasts and snacks. Be careful though as it's huge portions!  When the season is in full swing they have entertainment in the evening. Sound alikes, BBQ, Greek night.  We also went one evening when it was raining and they had a special of Beef Kokkinisto (basically Stifado without onions) served with rice and chips,  it may not have looked pretty but it was one of the most flavourful dishes we had. 

Georgias - Keep going past Sophias and turn right at the roundabout, Georgias is on the right. Great for lunches - Gyros or open plate kebab. 

Besides the full menu, they have set menu specials which include a starter, main and a glass of wine. We both had Greek salad with Tsatsiki and pitta bread followed by their take on Kleftiko which is served in a pot and topped with cheese. Delicious!

Stani's - Past Georgias down to the bottom of the road, turn right about 2/3 mins along the road. Open all day and they provide 'facilities' for the beach. Another place that we were recommended to and it didn't disappoint. Service with a smile, you can watch the sun go down over a glass or 3 of wine and chomp on some rather delicious Lamb chops! Oh and order the garlic bread - a small loaf between 2 people!

Our favourites were Escape for Dinner and Cronulla for breakfast and lunch. 

There are many more places to eat and to be honest most of them are really good. You'll never starve anywhere in Zante that's for sure! 

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Thursday, 23 June 2016

Helping Your Child Cope With The Fear Of Visiting Orlando

I am writing this from the perspective of being an ex psychiatric nurse, a blogger and most importantly a mum.

Recently I was in Orlando when the mass shooting in the Pulse nightclub happened that shocked the world. The nightclub was only 9 miles from where myself and my family were staying.

Only a day earlier a female singer that was on the America's version of The Voice, Christina Grimmie was murdered in Orlando after her concert. A couple of days after the Pulse nightclub shooting an alligator snatched a little boy in the grounds of the Disney Grand Floridan hotel and a mass search went underway. The poor little boy was found dead later in the lake around the resort.

There is so much sadness and death in the world and it's perhaps more poignant that all this happened in Orlando - the land of smiles, where 'dreams come true', and families go to spend time together visiting the many attractions including the Disney and Universal theme parks.


The Orlando Eye in rainbow colours to stand in solidarity for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting


I recently read an article when I was still in Florida in a local newspaper talking about ‘Orlandophobia’. Psychiatrists are seeing a rise in children being scared to go on holiday there. So how do you explain to children these incidents and reassure them to help allay their fears?

I don’t think the answer is to shield children from the atrocities that goes on in the world, they will find out information from television, newspapers, social media and talking to their friends. The key I think is to talk to children about these events and answer the questions truthfully in an age appropriate language they can understand. You do not need to go into incredible detail with little ones, just explain the facts simply and reassure them that these incidents are extremely rare and you will do your utmost to protect them. Alligators rarely attack people , and it's important to point this out for example.


The concept of good versus evil can also be discussed. 
On a simple level if you are talking to a young child about good versus evil, you could apply it to a favourite book such as Matilda, Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets, or a film such as Star Wars, Snow White, or The Lion King.


If the child is a teenager, and emotionally mature, discussions about nature vs nurture can be explored. Are people really born evil or are they made evil? Circumstances can no doubt shape people - those that commit horrendous crimes often have a background of abuse, and are made to see and do atrocious things, however the majority of others who have experienced such things come out the other side with compassion, empathy and a love for other people.

In all these discussions, it’s incredibly important to focus on the fact that although there are bad things that happen in the world, these are thankfully rare and are outweighed by many good things that happen too. Good things that happen don’t always make headline news and I think that is important for children to know this to gain some perspective on world events.

You may also want to limit access to the media in times of great atrocities like the Pulse nightclub shooting. Due to today's constant 24 hour news, it may seem like you can’t get away from reports of the shooting and that may cause heightened anxiety with children especially. Simply turning the TV over and finding something more uplifting can and will help.

At the end of the day, I feel it's important to impart the ethos that you should try and not live in fear as then the 'bad' people would have won.

Let me know if you have had to talk to your children about events like these. Do you have any advice for parents of children in these circumstances?
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Monday, 20 June 2016

My Summer Garden Wish List

With the Summer months upon us,  it's time for sitting in the garden and chatting with friends over an al fresco meal with a glass of wine. It's lovely watching the birds fly by, seeing the gorgeous flowers in bloom and feeling the sun on your face.

At this time of year many of us want to spruce up our garden space, maybe getting some new furniture, and garden accessories. So this is my Summer garden wish list for 2016.







The garden furniture I have chosen is a grey dining set with classic good looks from Fishpools. Perfect for that corner of your garden, this dining set with parasol will provide shade from sun, and the odd shower of rain, and the comfy cushions are washable and shower proof too - you can never be too careful with the weather in the UK!


To compliment the garden furniture I think these solar garden lights by Wayfair are very pretty and perfect to illuminate the garden for the Summer months. Priced at only £32.99 they are great buy. The steel firepit at £79.99 from Oxford Barbecues is an excellent idea to keep your family and friends warm and the personalised planter crate from Not On The High Street, £28, can fit on a windowsill or be used in the garden. If you love watching birds why not encourage them to visit your garden with this bird box which is only £5 from Wilko.


To add to my Summer garden wish list would be an easy to prepare meal such as a few appetisers, pizza, and salad and don't forget the ice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc. So sit back and enjoy the Summer months languishing in your garden with family and friends.


What do you think of my Summer garden wish list? What are your garden must haves for Summer?

*PR collaboration

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Sunday, 19 June 2016

My Pizza Story By Amy-May Hunt

This is a guest post by Amy-May Hunt. Amy blogs over at Purely Amy which is a healthy lifestyle blog.

I love a good story, whether it's reading a romance under a blanket in front of a fire or reading a horror under my duvet in the middle of the day. Whenever, wherever, stories give us a new perspective, you can be in a new location or a new time so here's my story. My food story... and this one, is about pizza.



One of my first memories of having pizza is of me and my mother,which is rare. I don't have many memories where it was just me and her alone. We had this old pine coloured kitchen table that me and my siblings would eat at,  she must've dragged it out so it was central to the kitchen,which was tiny, but it gave us room to move around it. I was kneeling at the table and she brought over the kitchen scales, flour and warm water.. I don't remember much of it after that but I do remember the feeling of accomplishment. 


I think baking a pizza should be an essential part of childhood, the first thing you bake is something that stays with you, isn't it? Well, it certainly was for me! In my house it was rare to cook, so this new experience of raising our own dough and transforming it into a meal was so astounding to me. It really gave me that buzz, I believe that's what inspired me to start baking and creating new recipes.

Who doesn't love a pizza though? 

Whether you like them fully loaded as a meat feast, a Chinese spiced deep dish or a thin and crispy basil and tomato base. There's so much to love about pizza and even more variety than you could possibly want in a life time.

I love to share my recipes but there aren't enough hours in the day to type each one out, I come up with something new almost daily but it's developing the recipe,photographing it and uploading it. It'd take all day and we all know what a pizza looks like. So when it comes down to it, sharing new pizza ideas can be a toughie..but here are my top picks for some new pizza inspiration. It is summer after all, you can do with a good salad and pizza for a picnic, don't you think it's over due?

Pizza Ideas

The Classic

Oooh yeah, a thin based, truly Italian style pizza. Classic tomato sauce with mozzarella and basil leaves. Done.

The Chicago

A thick deep dish pizza, It's some times called a new york deep dish or a 'sauce' pizza as they're normally thick with sauce instead of the traditional light coating. Most of the time deep dishes are filled with meat and heavy toppings.

The Alternatives

Cauliflower pizza bases:
Super light and perfect for people who are unable to digest gluten. These can be a bit fiddly to make and even harder to hold but they're a perfect alternative for those who need pizza but can't stomach the dough. Oh and they're and vegetarian!

Sweet potato pizza base:
A bit on the heavier side, the base really acts like a dough and puffs up to create a chewy and tasty alternative. This dough is also gluten free but is vegan!

The kid-friendly:
I have tonnes of ideas for these but, I'll limit myself to just a few. I mentioned briefly that I think kids should really be involved in the kitchen and that pizzas are a brilliant way of getting them interested in food and health. The easiest pizza-esque flavours to make are...

Toasty tasters:
A slice of toast coated Italian tomato sauce topped with peppers cheese and pepperoni, or what ever takes their fancy! It's always best to prepare the toppings in small bowls for the kids to decorate easily.

Flat bread tasters:
Get the kids involved in this one but try it with a home made flat bread! The simplest way to do this is with 4 tbsp of flour and 3 of water. Just mix and roll it out! pre-bake for 5 minutes and then allow the kids to decorate.

Puff pastry pizzas:
I love these, they're a little bit heavier then the others but we used to have puff pastry in the freezer so it was easy to whip out and roll into individual pizzas.

Pepper pizzas:
Again, super simple. These are a regular in my kitchen too. Just chop off the bottoms of any coloured pepper (the red ones are best!) top with your ingredients and bake for 10 minutes. You can also turn these into pizza bowls if you chop the top off instead, fill the empty pepper with your vegetables and sauce and then top with cheese. These take 15-20 minutes.

That's a lot of pizza, but I'm a 20-something-year old so I've had a lot of pizza experience! I'm hoping there are some new ideas in there for you and if not then I hope you enjoyed my experience of baking in the kitchen with my mother.

What's your first memory of pizza? Did you make them when you were young? I'd love to know!
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Friday, 17 June 2016

How To Choose A Great Hotel In Scarborough

While planning a trip to a different city or region, the first and foremost thing you need to secure is your accommodation. In fact, where you stay can have an enormous impact on how well your trip goes. With the plethora of promotional offers, deals, and hotel loyalty programs out there, choosing the right hotel can be confusing even to those that are travel savvy.



Scarborough marina

The same applies to choosing a great hotel in Scarborough. Often, the price is a key factor that sways the accommodation decision of most tourists travelling to Scarborough, but it is not the only consideration.  Here are some of the other factors you should base your decision on while choosing a hotel in Scarborough.

1. Location: the location of your hotel choice in Scarborough should complement the purpose of your visit. If you're there for a business meeting, choose a hotel that's situated near a convenient meeting spot. If you're in Scarborough for sightseeing, a hotel located in the central part of the city will be the best base. For an romantic stay a hotel located in a serene, secluded place, would be the best choice.

2. Parking: If you're taking your car to the hotel, you need consider the car-parking facilities the hotel offers. You should inquire how much it costs for parking and the level of security offered.

3. Amenities Fees: Amenities are a significant part of your holiday experience. Try to locate the hotels that offer the facilities, which you need free of cost or included in your package price. For instance, if you browse the Internet a lot, finding a hotel that offers complimentary Wi-Fi would be a bonus.

4. Star Ratings: Checking the star ratings of a hotel is the easiest way to choose between luxury and economy. The more stars a hotel has, the higher is the level of luxury and service.

5. Onsite Perks: Onsite perks significantly influence prospective customers. If you are a foodie, look for a hotel that houses an up market restaurant and exquisite cuisine. If you are looking to unwind, check for a spa or swimming pool. If you're a golfer you may want to consider a golf resort hotel.

6. Complimentary Breakfast: Does the hotel offer complimentary breakfast in its offers? If you're visiting with your family, paying for breakfast may be a considerable amount so this perk is certainly worth getting. 

7. Family-friendliness: If you're traveling with your family, stay at a hotel that welcomes your child and is considerate of families. An optional cot, mini-fridges in rooms, recreational areas, pool, or onsite babysitting are some of the benefits you should keep an eye out for.

8. Reliability vs. Adventure: Depending on what you want, you can choose between the tried and tested formula of a hotel chain or be more adventurous and stay at a local bed and breakfast with some character.

Scarborough Attractions


Your preferred hotel choice in Scarborough should keep you close to its main attractions. Scarborough Castle is one of the must visit attractions in the area. The 2500 year old castle has overseen several historical conquests from medieval kings, Civil War armies and the German naval bombardment in WWII. 

The Scarborough Open Air Theatre, built in 1930, is the largest in Europe. It is the epicenter of cultural events in the area and has a rich history of flourishing cultural spectacle. 

The Asian themed Peasholm Park Island has mini waterfalls, wooden scaffolds crossing streams and an abundance of natural life, making this the ideal area to appreciate an unwinding evening.

Make sure you remember these above-mentioned factors during your hotel choice in Scarborough. Prepare for an unforgettable trip by choosing the right hotel.

* Guest Post 
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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Celebrity Cars You Can Lease

Have you seen the new Top Gear yet? Whether or not you liked the old show with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, you can't deny it's appeal - a bit of cheeky banter and a selection of chases, expeditions and dare devil moves as well as some seriously sexy cars. 

In the new show Matt Le Blanc is the main appeal for me, he has a quick wit and comic timing that will make the show great to watch again. Will it be as good as the old show - only time will tell?

The stars on the show can be fun too, by learning a little about the cars they drive you can get a real feel for their personality. It's amazing how many Hollywood stars love a super car such a Ferrari but then have a Prius electric car or Smart car for day to day driving, balancing the guilt of the gas guzzling cars with an economical car that some may say is better for the environment. I must admit I do have car envy when I see the cars they drive and many have a number of super cars in the garage too. If you share the car envy with me, you can always lease a car, and some are more affordable than you think.

Have a look at the infographic below and tell me do these cars surprise you?




Infographic courtesy of http://www.vertuleasecars.co.uk/

*PR collaboration

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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Village Hotel Swansea Review With Buyagift

Last year I gave my husband a voucher from buyagift for his birthday. and it was only recently we managed to use it. So it was with some excitement that we checked into the Village hotel in Swansea for our two night escape with dinner.

I've used buyagift before, including booking a super car driving experience for my husband and a Zombie experience in an abandoned shopping mall in Reading for my son's 16th birthday. Both experiences were absolutely fantastic, you can read a little about them in my previous post. This time though I wanted a more relaxing experience so I though the two night hotel stay would be perfect.



The Village hotel, Swansea

Booking was easy with the voucher, you just log onto the buyagift website, put your voucher code in, search through the hotel options and then ring the number that you are given to book.

The Village Hotels group are a range of 28 contemporary hotels in the UK. I would say the quality of the hotels in the chain are rated as 3 star, with a restaurant and gym facilities are standard.

Swansea is a short drive from where we live, but we love staying in local hotels and exploring locally so we decided we would stay here.

First impressions of the hotel was good. The modern hotel looked busy but welcoming. We noticed the Starbucks in the lobby as well as a pub, a separate restaurant and just off reception the health club. Unfortunately our room wasn't ready (we were an hour early) so the gentleman on reception took our details and asked us to come back shortly. We decided in this time to have lunch at the hotel pub.



A great burger in the pub

The pub was themed as a sports bar and we ordered burgers each which were both excellent. There was an option to have the burger with salad instead of fries which was great for a change.


Then we checked in. The room was a decent size with a sofa bed, king sized bed, desk with chair, a small flat screen TV and tea and coffee making facilities. There was free wi-fi which I feel is important in this day and age too. The decor was play safe beige, which I guess doesn't offend anyone but a splash of colour wouldn't have gone amiss.


The bathroom had an over the bath shower, not a power shower and toiletries were dispensed from containers attached to the wall. Although I prefer smaller toiletries, giving a more luxurious feel, the products did smell lovely, and probably cut down on waste. The bathroom was in slightly worse condition than the bedroom with the grouting looking brown in places. The floor was sticky by the toilet and sink. Although the bathroom was not dirty a touch up of the grouting would make it look bright white and give the impression of it being cleaner. 


Great choice on the set menu

Later we ate in the Verve Grill restaurant. In our package from buyagift was a three course dinner for two on one night. Now sometimes in a set package the food isn't always the best, so it was with a bit of trepidation we sat down. We were presented with the set menu which had a decent choice of dishes. My husband doesn't eat red meat so to see a vegetarian and two chicken dishes on the menu was a welcome relief. So often these days restaurants use a lot of red meat. I ordered Chicken Kiev which was very good and tasted homemade, proper chicken breast, not reformed mear, with an excellent breadcrumb coasting and oozing garlic butter. My husband had a chick pea, spinach and sweet potato curry which was packed full of flavour with a slight spice.




The waiting staff who served us were young but professional and were obviously well trained. They thought we were on a slightly different set package and offered us a two course meal with a glass of Prosecco, instead of a three course meal, but as we preferred this they let us keep to this deal - great customer service in my opinion.

That night we slept well as the bed was very comfortable.

In the morning we had breakfast which was included, in the Verve restaurant where we ate dinner the night before. They had a good selection of food, from pastries, cereal and fresh fruit to a full cooked breakfast. Well worth having breakfast in the package I feel, especially as there aren't many place on your doorstep for breakfast.



The next day we explored Swansea including Mumbles and the Gower coast. It was a good 20 minute walk into the town centre so you may need to consider this if you have mobility problems but it was an easy walk along the marina.


Swansea marina


Mumbles pier

We didn't use the leisure club during our stay but it looked very good, and included a small pool and gym. It seemed popular and always looked busy.




The lobby has a pub, a restaurant and a Starbucks cafe

On the second night we did have a problem. At approximately two o'clock in the morning there was a lot of noise on our floor, which consisted of a group of women shouting and swearing and banging doors. It was a Saturday night, which we normally try to avoid if we can due to the potential for parties, people getting drunk and generally being loud. We were at the point of complaining as this was going on for a while but suddenly it got quieter. The next morning staff were aware of the problem when we checked out and apologised. They had sent their night staff to ask the guests to be quieter in the night.

So to sum up, the question is - would we stay again? 

The Village hotel in Swansea is a modern hotel with good facilities including a restaurant, pub, Starbucks cafe and health club. The staff were good and the food for a 3 star hotel chain was very good.  It is a 20 minute pleasant walk into Swansea. The bathroom could be slightly better. We did have noise one night from a group of drunk women. Unfortunately that is the chance you take when you book a Saturday night in a city centre location. We booked this through a voucher with buyagift. The two night break with dinner is available in over 120 locations all around the country and includes breakfast every morning and dinner on the first night. For £179 I think it is excellent value for money and a great gift.

We would certainly stay in a Village hotel again. The hotel chain is better quality than a budget hotel like a Travelodge, but still a reasonable price. Overall recommended.

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Thursday, 9 June 2016

Top 5 Tips To Choosing A Wedding Ring

A wedding ring needs to last you a lifetime, so here are my top tips on how to choose a wedding ring.

Metal



The choice of metal is important when choosing a wedding ring. Traditionally yellow gold has been the most popular choice but today white metals including white gold, platinum and palladium have become more popular. You can even get wedding rings in rose gold, silver and stainless steel if you want to different. One consideration if you pick a white gold wedding ring, is that most white gold rings are rhodium plated to keep it's bright white look. This coating will wear over time so you would need to budget for rhodium plating every 2-3 years.

Your lifestyle can play an important part in the choice of metal for your wedding ring. If you work in a manual job, or even if you do a lot of gardening you may want to consider some of the stronger metals that won't get scratched as easily such as 9ct gold, palladium and platinum.

At the end of the day, many ladies pick the same metal for their wedding ring as they would for their engagement ring, as it is said different metals wear at different rates, so this could be a major consideration when choosing the metal for your rings.

Cost

Silver and stainless steel are a cheap alternative to gold. After that 9ct gold is the cheapest precious metal which is traditionally used to make wedding rings in the UK.


Palladium which is a member of the platinum family but is much cheaper, comes second.  Many men in particular are choosing palladium for their wedding rings as it is a strong metal, they like the slightly darker look than white gold and it is also cheaper than 18ct gold. 

18ct gold is a great traditional choice for your wedding ring and is more expensive than 9ct gold and palladium.

The finest metal for a wedding ring is platinum, which is often described as 'Pure, Rare and Eternal'. They say there is only enough platinum in the world to fill an olympic size swimming pool up to your ankles.

22ct gold wedding rings are rare these days but were popular in times gone by, and are also popular with the Indian community. The reason why you don't see 22ct gold wedding rings much these days is the cost and the fact that these rings are soft and can mark more easily.

Another thing to take into consideration with cost is that if you have a bespoke wedding ring made for you it could cost more than a ring 'off the shelf'. 

Rings with intricate designs and diamond inlaid can also cost more than a simple plain wedding ring.

Matching 



In today's day and age there are really no hard and fast rules about whether you go for matching, complimentary or totally different rings. 

Many people like to choose wedding rings that are similar to their partners as they feel it makes a closer bond, but it is totally up to you. It's your day and your choice.

Width 

Choosing a wedding ring that is a similar width to the engagement ring is often the most popular choice. Many ladies have thin bands whilst men often go for a wider band. Again it is up to you and your partner which you pick. 

Design



How the wedding band sits with the engagement ring is an important consideration. 

If you have a classic solitaire diamond engagement ring you can buy wedding rings that have a cut out section to fit flush against your engagement ring. If you can't find one to fit exactly, some companies will make a ring for you.

A plain simple wedding band is the most popular choice in the UK, but if you want to you can choose a patterned design such as Celtic swirls, a floral design, and even animal prints.  The choice today is so vast you are really spoilt for choice.

To make things even more personal consider an inscription inside the wedding band such as your wedding date or a love note. Some companies will also give you a sample ring to try before you order, which is a great idea to see how it would look before you part with your cash.

These are some of the considerations when choosing a wedding ring. I hope it has helped you plan your buying choice.

*PR Collaboration
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