Sunday, 31 January 2016

What Can We Do To Stop Our Homes Flooding

The weather in the UK in the last few months has been wet, windy and depressing. It feels like we have have had constant rain since November and I can barely remember the last sunny day. As Storm Gertrude batters Wales, with roads closed and winds of up to 80 miles per hour many householders are again worried about weather and flood damage. It only seems like yesterday that Storm Abigail caused chaos to those in the North of England and just before Christmas too.

Seeing the devastation the floods have caused, has made many people try to apportion blame and question things. Could the government do more to help? Is climate change to blame? How can home owners take action to prevent their homes become flooded in the future?



Copyright: gemphoto Shutterstock

Government Help


David Cameron has called for more to happen to prevent future flooding and some people may say this is too little too late, but I feel as least something is finally happening. I wonder though where the councils will find money for improved flood defences, as it has to come from somewhere. Will it come from education, or the NHS, is a question that has to be asked, and if so will party of these services become neglected? 


As well as investing in engineered flood defences I hope the  government will be forward thinking and invest in natural flood defences too.  Investing in wilder landscapes and natural flood defences in urban and country areas can go a long way to prevent flooding.  Habitats such as upland bogs and moors, woodlands, wetlands and species-rich grasslands act as giant sponges, absorbing and holding water and slowing down water runs into rivers. Planting trees can also help defend against flooding. I hope this natural way of help preventing floods will be the way forward in the future.

Climate Change

According to the World Wildlife Fund, major floods that used to happen only once in 100 years now take place every 10 or 20 years. Weather patterns that people were used to for hundreds and thousands of years are changing gradually – and it is unlikely they will return to normal.  Whilst scientists research whether or not we can really reverse climate change, homeowners need to come to terms with the fact that this may not happen in their lifetime. It's not something that the average person can have any control over and that can give you a feeling of helplessness.

Home Owner Action


Flooding can cause real devastation

Copyright: SpeedKingz Shutterstock

Well all is said and done there are some things that home owners can do to help themselves in this situation and take some control. Firstly when buying or renting a home, do some research to see if the prospective house is in a flood plain area. The environment agency provides an online postcode search for England and Wales, enabling people to find out if the area they live in is at risk of flooding. If you do move into a home in this type of area be sure to take out insurance and check what it covers if you are flooded. 

Recently a survey by Simpson and Millar  asked 500 people what they thought of the recent flooding and examined the human impact. Whilst 62% of people thought that the damage seen could not have been avoided, 74% thought that the government could have done more to help.

Lisa Gibbs, partner and head of Conveyancing offers some good advice.

"  When you purchase a new house, searches are undertaken which include an environmental search report which will report on historical flooding in the area. It's important that all buyers ensure that they instruct their solicitors to carry out these searches; the cost is relatively low in comparison with the potential risk".

Buying property is an expensive business, and is makes sense that before buying a property the prospective homeowner assesses the potential flood risk. This may have implications on insurance and may even be a contributing factor in not buying the property at all.

If you do unfortunately own or rent property that is at risk of flooding, you can take precautions to minimise the risk. The Home Owners Alliance suggest measures such as moving electrical sockets higher so they are less likely to be damaged by low level flooding, replacing wooden floors and carpets with concrete with a damp proof membrane and laying ceramic tiles, and raising household appliances and entertainment systems well above flood level. 

In conclusion, I hope these pointers have helped you consider the risk of buying or renting a home in a potential flood plain and I sincerely hope that it doesn't happen to you or people you know.

* PR collaboration

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Friday, 29 January 2016

How To Find A Good Quality Tradesperson

When hiring a tradesperson to perform remodelling services, who exactly should you hire is one question that will be at the front of your mind. It is imperative that any tradesperson you hire is experienced, is fully licensed, and can present you with all required certifications to perform the services in your home. But, this is only the beginning. If you are looking to hire the top people and avoid remodelling disasters, these are some of the best places and ways to go about hiring these top local experts.




Copyright: Monkey Business Images Shutterstock

Use Online Sites 

There are several online sites which will help you find a local tradesperson. myjobquote.co.uk and ratedpeople.com are two of the many sites you can visit to compare local experts. In addition to only showing you locals who are licensed to perform services they will also help you find specialised experts as well. So, whether remodelling the bathroom, the kitchen, or other rooms of the home, or whether you are looking for a plumber, plasterer, roofer or builder you can narrow down the search to find qualified experts in that particular line or trade.

Rely On Locals  

You can never go wrong with word of mouth referrals. More often than not this is a trusted way, and has been for years, to finding the best local tradespeople. If you know a friend or family member who recently remodelled their home, enquire about their experience and ask who was hired. If you know anyone who had a poor experience with services, find out who they hired too and avoid! The more you compare, ask around, and learn about local experts the easier it will be to find the tradesperson you need.

Use Online Services 

Online referral sites, review sites, and forum based sites will also steer you in the right direction. Since you can read unbiased reviews posted by people who have recently hired a tradesperson and find out about their experience, this can help you narrow down the top local candidates, based on services you would like performed in your home.

There are hundreds of local tradespeople you can hire when time comes to performing remodelling work in the home. In order to know you are hiring the best person for the job, and that they are fully certified, these are some ways to go about comparing the top local experts. Furthermore, you can rely on these unbiased opinions and reviews which will give you better depth and insight about what you can expect when hiring a particular local expert.

* PR collaboration
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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Brewers Fayre Review - Bristol

Recently I stayed in Bristol for a few days and was given the chance to review the Brewers Fayre, Llandoger Trow, in the centre of Bristol by the area called Welsh Back.


Brewers Fayre, Llandoger Trow

Brewers Fayre, is a the family friendly pub chain that focuses on looking after little ones with child menus, and in selected restaurants soft play zones and supervised play areas with a Dennis the Menace and Beano theme.

This restaurant is in an old historic building dating from 1664. Tradition has it that Daniel Defoe met Alexander Selkirk, his inspiration for Robinson Crusoe, here, and it was Robert Louis Stevenson’s inspiration for the Admiral Benbow in Treasure Island. Very interesting!


When we arrived at the restaurant on a Sunday evening, we were greeted with friendly smiles from the staff and in particular Erica - who was really helpful. She explained that they had limited availability with grills and the roast dinners but everything else was on the menu. 

The restaurant was in a traditional style with dark wood and stone flooring. We then sat down at a window table to study the menu. The menu had a wide choice of dishes with starters from under £3 to £5 main courses from £7 to £12 and desserts from £3 to £6.

In the day you can also get smaller meals such as jacket potatoes, wraps and burritos. The daytime value menu offer runs from 12 - 6pm Monday to Friday and means guests can enjoy two starters for £2.50, two mains for just £10.99 and two desserts for £2.50, so great value food, I think you will agree. The kids menu looked kid friendly with choices from burgers to spaghetti bolognaise, and main courses were priced at £3.99.


After browsing the menu we decided on ordering loaded nachos to start, and Thai chicken curry for myself and chicken biriyani for my husband. We also ordered a bottle of Sauvingon Blanc which for £10.99 I thought was excellent value. For a pub chain there is also a decent selection of wine of over 18 different varieties. My son wasn't with us as he has now started university and lives in Cardiff. I think he would love the grills and steaks here. He is a big meat eater!


Loaded nachos

The food then arrived after a short wait. The loaded nachos for one was a large portion, big enough for sharing. They also do a larger portion again but myself and my husband thought the one person's portion was just the right size. The nachos were warm and tasty. Topped with a salsa, guacamole and sour cream, and also melted cheese they were devoured in no time. I did think though that perhaps the cheese could be a stronger type to hold up to the spicy flavour of the salsa but that is a minor point.



Thai chicken curry

The Thai chicken curry arrived next. The curry sauce I was impressed with - you could really taste the coconut, and Thai spices, and it was creamy and delicious. The rice was also light and fluffy. What made the dish in my opinion was the sprinkling of chili's and coriander on the top which really gave it an authentic taste. My only criticism would be that I thought the dish could do with some seasoning. Accompanying the curry was a basket of Thai spiced crackers and sweet chili dip. The crackers were crisp and the chili dip complimented it well.


The chicken biriyani was a lightly spiced rice dish with chicken, peppers, tomatoes and onions. My husband felt that the dish had good flavours with medium spice and heat but could benefit from a vegetable curry sauce being serve with it. The dish is served with a poppadom, mango chutney and mint and yogurt dip. The poppadom was crisp and not oily and the dips were like shop bought dips - good but not outstanding.


Cadbury's chocolate chip cookie sundae

So onto dessert, and after a break we ordered something very decadent - a Cadbury's chocolate chip cookie sundae. This sweet treat has vanilla flavour ice cream, chocolate chip cookie pieces, Cadbury's Diary milk pieces, topped with squirty cream, chocolate sauce and a biscuit curl. This sundae was moreish, with a nice crunch from the cookie, complimenting the smooth coolness of the ice cream -  perfect for those with a sweet tooth.

In conclusion, we thought the food was better than we expected overall. I did think that for pub food perhaps the evening mains could be a little cheaper, although it was a nice touch that the poppadom and crackers were included with the different dishes that we had. The day menu though is certainly a bargain for the price.

The main benefit of the Brewers Fayre for families in particular is the facilities for children. Unfortunately the Llandoger Trow do not have any such facilities - maybe this is because it is an historic building. They were certainly family friendly though as they told me if it is quiet they do let children run around in one of the lounge areas, to blow off steam.
 Many Brewers Fayres have play areas for children

During this February Half Term, Brewers Fayre will be offering extra entertainment in selected pubs. There will be fun discos for kids on both Friday 19th and Saturday 20th February at selected Brewers Fayres. The Toddlers disco will run from 9.30am – 3pm while the Kids will run from 3.30- 7.30pm at a cost of £3 per child. These discos sound so much fun for little ones and a much welcome break for mums and dads.

Also every night of the week from 5- 8pm at the Chef's Counter there is a nightly special. Kids and adults alike would love the Pizza Parlour on a Monday or Burgers & Hotdogs on a Wednesday. For something with a bit more spice, there is a Mexican night on Tuesday and a Curry Night on a Thursday.


Tell me dear readers, have you been to a Brewers Fayre? Would you try out the food? What do you think about the facilities for children?

* I was gifted a meal in exchange for an honest review
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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

What To Do In Mallorca



Palma marina

Mallorca, or as the British sometimes call it Majorca, is a beautiful island in the Spanish Balearics. The island is well known for its package holidays and partying lifestyle but there is another side to this Spanish beauty that not everyone knows. Mallorca is a naturally beautiful island with vast unspoilt beaches, a rich cultural heritage and remarkable sights to explore, as we found out when we visited last year.

A Naturally Beautiful Island


Serra de Tramuntana

A drive through the stunning mountain ranges of Serra de Tramuntana is highly recommended. A World Heritage Site the views are nothing short of spectacular. Stop off at Valldemossa, a quaint little village known for its historical importance and Estellencs - a gorgeous little village in the mountains. The area is known for hiking as well as cycling and is popular for those that like the outdoor life.

There are many beautiful beaches with white sand and azure blue seas in Mallorca. Playa de Muro, close to Alcudia is a long stretch of fine golden sand on a blue flag beach with lot of facilities and watersports available, whilst S'illot beach is a tiny unspoilt cove with clear blue water.


A Rich Cultural Heritage


Le Seu cathedral Palma

The capital city, Palma is renowned for it's excellent architecture, cool tapas restaurants and atmospheric bars.  A must see is Le Seu, a magnificent Gothic cathedral where you will get the chance to witness works by Gaudi and Barcelo. 


Bellver Castle

Other places to see include Bellver Castle, a gothic style castle 3km to the west of Palma, and the Basillica De Sant Francesc, one of Palma's oldest churches, built from 1251 yet only completed in 1700.

Remarkable Sights To Explore


Palma Aquarium

If you enjoy the Spanish culture and architecture, Poble Espanyol is a Spanish 'show' village, just outside Palma where reproductions of famous buildings from Cordoba, Toledo and Madrid are gathered together with typical houses from these regions.

For those that love art, Es Revellar Art Resort Galleries, Campos, has extensive galleries set within stunning gardens in a hotel's grounds. Walking around this tranquil oasis of calm, the estate is full of sculptures, antiques, palm trees, marble columns and spectacular gardens. 



The deepest shark tank in Europe

With a variety of fish and sea creatures including the deepest shark tank in Europe, the Palma Aquarium is a great afternoon out, with or without the kids. If you want to you can even dive with sharks, and the aquarium also works hard on ecological campaigns such as one to save the blue fin tuna.

For some water park fun you are spoilt for choice, with Aqualand, Hydropark Waterpark and Western Waterpark, whilst Marineland in Portal Nous in Mallorca's answer to Seaworld.

As you can see Mallorca is an island rich in culture and full of family friendly activities. With a year round sunny climate, it's certainly a lovely place to visit, within a short flight time from the UK.  

If you like my post, don't forget to check out my other travel posts here.

* In Collaboration with Book Mallorca
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Monday, 25 January 2016

Top Restaurants In South Wales

Here is a list of my top favourite restaurants in South Wales

Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth


This fine dining restaurant, number 24 in the Good Food Guide 2016 is perfectly situated on Penarth sea front. Head chef James Sommerin, held a one Michelin star when he was a chef at The Crown in Whitebrook and I am sure it won't be long before Restaurant James Sommerin will be getting a Michelin star of it's own.

The food is confident, experimental - choose from a tasting menu full of surprises or the A La Carte menu, which is only available midweek. This is one restaurant where you really feel like you are in for a treat, with a blend of textures, flavours and aromas all on a plate. Bravo!

Go, and go now...

Le Bistrot Pierre, Cardiff


This French bistrot chain, never fails to deliver in my experience. The two course lunch for £10.95 is a real bargain for the authentic quality of the food and with a Trip Advisor certificate of excellence you know all the other reviewers can't be wrong too!

My favourite dishes here include a Beef Bourginon and a Poulet Printanier - pan-fried chicken breast in a tarragon sauce, whilst my son enjoys the steak and fries. Their loyalty scheme is a great idea too, when you dine you collect a stamp toward a free lunch or dinner. 

The best chain restaurant I have ever eaten in, hands down.

The Pickled Radish, Laleston 


This hidden gem in Laleston, just outside Bridgend, is a little off the beaten track but well worth tracking down. Headed by a team of chefs that have worked in Michelin star restaurants this is one restaurant just made for 'foodies'.

The elegant tasty food, was slightly let down by the inexperienced staff when we visited, however don't let that put you off. The food however is a joy and a real surprise - deconstructed chicken korma was tasty, beautifully presented and totally delicious and the peanut butter and chocolate pie was amazingly decadent. 

We are going back very soon! 

The Potted Pig,  Cardiff



We recently visited The Potted Pig to celebrate my son's 19th birthday. Hidden away on Mary Street in the centre of Cardiff this restaurant in an old bank vault is cool, atmospheric and a little bit quirky. 

Carnivores are looked after well with a great selection of steaks, and dishes such as potted pig with pickles and home cured free range pork belly with fried bacon cake, roasted beetroot and kale are great crowd pleasers. With some super reviews from restaurant critics such as Jay Rayner of The Observer, I suggest you get down to Cardiff to see what all the fuss is about.

Also known for their wide selection of gin cocktails this is one trendy restaurant that doesn't take itself too seriously. 

Let me know, have you tried any of these restaurants? Which restaurants do you rate in South Wales?

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Thursday, 21 January 2016

Shopping In Style With A Luxury Jet

If you love shopping and travel as much as me, or you are looking for that perfect gift for the lady that has everything - consider a weekend jetting off to some great shopping destinations.  

With a private jet charter you could start your weekend in London, have lunch in Paris and arrive in Singapore the next day, refreshed and raring to go. Or what about a trip to the shopping mecca that is Dubai, followed by a stop off in Tokyo or even New York for the January sales?




Air Charter Service can arrange private jets from all around the main airfields in London (and all around the world really), as is suited to your needs, should you require a quick and easy way to reach or depart from London via private jet.  

London

In London you have some great luxury shopping, from the world famous department store Harrods to another luxury icon Liberty. No trip to London for any self-respecting jewellery lover, would be without stopping off at Hatton Garden too, for some of the best jewellery shopping in the world, and De Beers, Graff, and jewellery designer to the stars Stephen Webster all have shops in the UK capital. 

Inside a very comfortable private jet

For a spot of lunch you are spoiled for choice, from casual eateries to Michelin starred restaurants like the three Michelin star, restaurant Gordon Ramsey in Chelsea and the two Michelin star restaurant Le Gavroche, owned by the Roux brothers in Mayfair. Be sure to book the best restaurants in advance for that special meal, as that gastronomic delight may have a waiting list.

Now board your deluxe jet to Paris, while you will be whisked away within a matter of minutes on a 50 minute journey to Le Bourget Airport.

Airport:  London City

Paris



Paris is a beautiful city known for its chic style. As well as boutique stores selling luxury clothing and accessories Paris is known for it's iconic department stores such as Galeries Lafayette with it's avant garde designers and huge shoe department and Le Bon Marche, the city's oldest store, with an amazing food hall and the best macrons money can buy. 

Paris is also known for it's perfume and while you are here why not get a fragrance made for you from an illustrious perfume house. At Maison Guerlain your hour long scent experience is divided into two parts - firstly you will see 'mood boards' to help distinguish what fragrances will appeal, then you will smell a variety of notes to see which you like. At the end of this process you will be presented with your ideal scent.

For a stunning piece of jewellery, take a trip to Jaubalet Paris, a jewellers full of beautiful gems, and wealthy clients. Get a bespoke piece made to your unique specification from black diamonds, pink sapphires, rubies and emeralds.

Airport: 
Le Bourget 

Singapore

Although a long journey from Paris, your private jet’s many on-board luxuries will keep you occupied during the flight. As you land in Singapore the signature electric buggy escort will take you through the boarding gate to your limousine, provided by the elite Jetside service.

For jewellery shopping in Singapore look no further than Lee Hwa Jewellery. Housing exclusive brands and Asian designs this boutique jewellers is certainly one to visit. One origami inspired piece of jewellery from Lee Hwa Jewellery is the 'Happy Dove' necklace, crafted to inspire hope, peace and joy.

When your feet are tired and you want an outstanding meal head over to Restaurant Andre, shortlisted as number 5 on Asia’s Best 50 Restaurants list. Their stunning fusion cuisine is a taste sensation.

Back at the terminal, freshen up at the Haven lounge. Whatever you need - be it a quick nap, shower, light lunch, glass of bubbly or even a cup of coffee - the Haven Lounge is the perfect place to prepare yourself for the next lego of your journey. Hong Kong anyone?

Airport: Changi 


There are so many places to visit in the world and so little time, but if you want some luxury shopping via private jet from the UK's capital then this is the only way to go.


* In collaboration with ACS
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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Clarins and Tweezerman Review

Clarins have brought out some new beauty products for Spring. 


Their best selling Rouge Eclat age-defying lipstick has 4 new pretty shades. These lipstick are great for older ladies and those that are concerned about fine lines around the lip area. Their Nutri-Youth complex is packed full of products that really feel they do your lips good, Vitamin E, Mimosa, Jojoba and Sunfower all natural plant waxes. In shades such as Hot Rose, Pink Blossom, Pink Cherry and Rose Praline these flattering colours add a touch of beauty to the lips.


Rose Praline

The colour they sent me Rose Praline 26, is a soft pinky brown. Very flattering on and suitable for most complexions, this is a perfect wearable everyday colour. As you can see from the photo above the lipstick is in a glorious and glamorous gold case. The sort of lippie you would be proud to bring out of your bag in a posh restaurant or cool bar.

A lovely wearable colour

On application the lipstick feels nourishing on, lightweight and has a lovely scent which reminds me of a sweet shop. It lasts through eating but I found it does need another application later on in the day. Using a lip pencil, applying two applications and blotting inbetween would help make it last longer.

Rouge Eclat age defying lipsticks are available from Clarins, John Lewis, Debenhams and other beauty counters priced at £19.50.

Ombre Iridescent cream to powder eyeshadow in silver plum

Another Spring release is the Ombre Iridescent cream to powder eyeshadow. These day to night eyeshadows are available in 6 colours, with 4 new for Spring. With a pearlescent look when applied the eyeshadow has 'soft focus' pigments so that the eye area looks fresh and lines minimised. On application I found the eyeshadow blended well with my finger rather than a brush and lasted all day with only a little creasing along the way. Priced at £19 a little goes a long way.

Wearing both products

Clarins products are luxury products and the price point is not cheap however I do feel you get what you pay for, in the combination of beautiful packaging, lovely colours and extra benefits.
 Rose Praline Rouge Eclat lipstick and Silver Plum Ombre Iridescente eye shadow

Tweezerman are well known on the beauty market for providing excellent Tweezers and brow products. I was sent a mini slant tweezers to review from Tweezerman. This convenient tweezers is a great travelling product and perfect to keep in your bag at any time.  


On the packaging it says 'Expert Tools For Expert Results', and it sure lives up to this quote. Precision is super, and the slanted end makes it easy to get even those tiny stray hairs and to tidy up your brows. The little plastic case protects the product and stops you scratching you hand when you rummage in your bag.

As you can see with dark brows a great tweezers is essential to me

The original Slant tweezers are a beauty classic - and an InStyle Best Beauty Buy award-winner for Best Tweezers in 2015. Hand filed and slanted to grab every hair I would recommend this travel version - what's not to love! 


The mini slant tweezers are priced at £12.50 and are available from John Lewis, Feel Unique and other good beauty stores.

Tell me, have you ever used Clarins or Tweezerman products? What do you think of the products I have reviewed?
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Friday, 15 January 2016

Drink Positive With wagamama


January is often a time of the year when we feel fed up. With the short nights and dark days, cold and rain, the Summer holidays seem far away. This Winter wagamama, a company whose Asian food is based around fresh fruit, vegetables and nourishing flavours, has joined forces with mindfulness expert Michael Townsend Williams. The result is a mood-boosting juice called 'Positive', designed to help us Brits beat the January Blues amongst other nutritious juices.


wagamama And Juice

wagamama are no strangers to having juices on their menu, all squeezed, pulped and poured fresh for the customer every day. Their 'Raw Juice' is a cult product for example, with carrot, cucumber, tomato, orange and apple all juiced and mixed together for that delicious taste and fabulous goodness in a glass. Other juices available include 'Super Green Juice', 'Blueberry Spice Juice' and 'Tropical Juice'.

The Benefits Of Juicing

Raw Juice, Super Green Juice, Blueberry Spice Juice, and Tropical Juice


Advocates of juicing point to the fact that juicing contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in the whole fruit, and can be easier to digest. It is also a great way to add more servings of fruit and vegetables to your diet and lower your cancer risk

Although you should still aim to get your recommended 5 portions of fruit and veg per day from whole foods, fresh juice is useful to supplement your portions and get the valuable phytonutrients. 

The Positive Juice


The Positive Juice

wagamama’s limited edition 'Positive Juice' contain lots of mood-enhancing properties. This tasty juice contains a blend of pineapple, apple, lime, spinach and cucumber – fruit and vegetables that contain natural feel-good properties as well as vitamins and antioxidants to help boost energy levels. Made using 100% raw ingredients and made fresh to order, the nutritious elements of this super juice are below.

Pineapple – contains a significant amount of serotonin, a chemical messenger that’s believed to act as a mood stabiliser. Serotonin also help regulate healthy sleeping patterns.

Apple – contains quercetin, a flavonol antioxidant that can help to fight stress.

Lime – contains rich amounts of vitamin C that help fight fatigue, depression and maintain healthy skin.

Spinach – contains a high level of iron which helps transport oxygen around the body, leaving you feeling more motivated, less tired and increasing cognitive development.

Cucumber – contains vitamin B to which helps reduce tiredness and fatigue and maintain energy levels.


Available until the end of February, this 'Positive Juice' is also available to go. Let me know, have you ever visited wagamama? Would you try this positive juice? 
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Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Why Canadian Diamonds Are Worth Your Money

Have you ever wondered why Canadian diamonds are more valuable compared to your regular diamond? Unlike other kinds, diamonds aren’t particularly considered a commodity. You won’t find diamond exchanges on Wall Street or hear of investors buying and selling diamonds. 

The DeBeers Corporation has been regulating, controlling, and pricing diamonds on the global market for over a century. Recently, though, there have been a lot of new independent diamond mining companies emerging. However, despite the competition, DeBeers has maintained its stronghold in the world’s market. 

So What About Canadian Diamonds


Some diamonds tend to be costlier than others owing to the location in which they are mined. Diamonds that are mined in Canada are more expensive to extract from the earth than diamonds from Africa where labour is a lot less expensive.

There are multitudes of diamond trading companies situated in different cities all around the world. Approximately every five weeks, the DCT ( a distribution subsidiary of DeBeers) calls the small groups of pre-qualified representatives that they consider major diamond cutters. They then buy a particular quantity of raw stones. Each buyer has an invitation and is then assigned a specific seat and a large, long table. 

At the table, each buyer is presented with a box. In the box there are uncut diamonds and a stated price. Buyers may inspect the stones first, but cannot exchange the stones. No bargaining of the price is permitted, but they are allowed to refuse to buy the stones. Refusing the box is very rare, though, since once refused, buyers may find it rather difficult to process to the next business agenda.

Diamond business agendas tend to be well regulated. The business deal doesn’t particularly require any paper work and usually ends with a handshake or even the Yiddish phrase “mazel and broche,” meaning luck and riches.

Buyers expect full honesty throughout the entire business deal. Some may even leave their boxes on the table when they are busy socialising. This is the first phase of a diamond’s price being generated, also known as the wholesale price.

Diamonds with less than a carat aren’t really rare, but they’re also not in abundance. There are loads of gorgeous gemstones that are rare, but if they are too few, then they have no value on the global market.

Benefits of Canadian Diamonds

In Canada, there are just four diamond cutting companies that handle small amounts of gems mined in Canada. There are a multitude of advantages to Canadian diamonds, which contribute to their higher value.

For starters, the companies that sell them guarantee that diamond mining in the country is carried out in strict accordance with the rules of environmental protection, sustainable development, and human rights compliance.

The Code of Conduct in the diamond industry of Canada – a body composed of cutters, polishers, and miners – publishes a list of retailers on its website that guarantee the authenticity of the Canadian diamonds.

One of these providers includes Serendipity diamonds which only sells conflict-free diamonds. So should you decide to purchase an amethyst and diamond flower ring from them, you can rest easy knowing it is made out of ethically sourced diamonds.

What’s more the stones are very easy to track as the opening of the first mine in Canada in 1998 ensured that all diamonds produced in the country are appointed numbers that are engraved on the stones. This allows users to know their exact origin and ensure they are getting ethically mined diamonds that won’t contribute to blood-riddled wars.

If you’d like to know more information about Canadian diamond, feel free to visit Serendipity Diamond’s website.

Serendipity Diamonds are among the jewellers that provide CanadaMark diamonds. When you buy any diamond jewellery from them, you are rest assured that what you get is ethically sourced.

By supporting ethically-sourced diamonds, you are not only supporting humane practices of mining diamonds but you also help weaken the system that allows conflict diamonds to flourish. Before buying diamond jewellery, it pays to buy diamond which you know was mined in the most humane way possible.

* Post contributed by Media Buzzer
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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Cool And Fun Ideas For A 2016 Wedding

If you are looking to get married in 2016, here are some cool and fun ideas to make your wedding day, a day to remember.

Transportation


Copyright: r.nagy Shutterstock

Depending on the time of year and the weather you could break with tradition and arrive in style on a motorbike and sidecar, horse and carriage or a supercar such as a Porsche or Lamborghini. Transportation for guests can include a vintage red bus, or the VIPS could arrive in a camper van. All different and all very memorable.

Special Favours

Make your guests feel extra special with personalised favours. Particularly suitable for a small wedding, each bag could contain a mini bottle of champers/ non alcoholic wine, disposal camera to record the day, and a personal note from the bride and groom. Kids could have a wedding themed colouring book, crayons, and personalised cookies or Love Hearts sweets.


A Photo Booth



Having a photo booth, such as those by OMG! photobooths London, is an excellent way to capture brilliant memories. With a variety of themed backgrounds and props, including hats, feather boas, and sunglasses this is an incredibly fun way of creating your own photo book of the event. You can even hire a green screen booth, so your guests can be on the beach, in a Hollywood movie or outer space even. A copy of the guest's photo can also be attached to the thank-you note.

Cocktails For Everyone

Set up a cocktail bar with a variety of spirits and mixers and hire a mixologist to make the party go with a swing or should I say a shake. Better and cheaper still, create a 'Bubbles Bar' where guests can customise their sparkling wine with fruit purees  to make a refreshing fruity Kir Royal or sparkling peach Bellini.

A Choreographed Dance

Spend some time before the day learning some dance moves and surprise your guests with the 'Time of Your Lives' from Dirty Dancing, or strut your moves like Travolta and partner in 'Saturday Night Fever'. Even better make sure the best man is armed with a video camera to record it all for posterity. For added fun see if one of the older guests will join in and dance their funky moves - all arranged beforehand of course!

Don't Forget The Child Care

Those with younger children will really appreciate the thought. Ensure your reception venue has a room available and then hire a babysitter or two to look after the little ones. Make sure the room is comfortable and stock it with games, colouring pads and pencils, popcorn and a DVD player with movies. Consider theming the room and activities depending on the age and sex of the child - what about a Frozen evening anyone?

Amaze In The Evening


A Pinata Is Fun For The Kids - Copyright: modd Shutterstock

Instead of a buffet amaze your evening guests with a barbecue, complete with campfire and sing along with an acoustic guitarist, or a food truck with Mexican tacos or burritos all washed down with some Tequila cocktails. You could even hire some Tequila slammer girls but bring them out after the food and make sure you also have plenty of soft drinks too or your guest will have sore heads the next day.

To theme the venue for your campfire consider Wild West props such as plastic cactuses, model horses and cows and for the Mexican evening give out prizes for those who come in fancy dress - think big moustaches, ponchso and sombreros, topped off with a Pinata party game for the kids.

I hope these fun ideas will add some inspiration to your wedding planning. Tell me do you like any of these ideas? 

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Monday, 11 January 2016

How To Save Money And Spend Less In 2016

* A guest post by Rebecca Smith, Bex blogs over at Futures, a UK lifestyle blog and Keen On Saving , where she advises on how to save money.

When it comes to our savings, we all have the urge to dip into the pot when the going gets tough.

Some people are resilient and manage to resist the urge but for many of us, sometimes we just have to use that cash we have so steadfastly saved for so long. Perhaps it is for something crucial like car repairs or perhaps you just have a little too much month left at the end of your money. Either way when this happens, something needs to be done - and what better way to up your savings account than by spending less and earning more! 




Copyright: scyther5 Shutterstock

Cut back on any unnecessary expenses

Do you really need Sky, Amazon Prime or Netflix? Are you really using the gym to its full potential? If the answer is no, cancel your subscriptions and put the money you would usually spend away in your savings account. You weren’t missing the money when you were spending it so why not boost your savings?

Empty pockets of change everyday

Whilst it may seem like a small amount, this will soon add up and make a nice addition to a savings account. You don’t have to add the gold coins, not even the silver ones if you really don’t want to but you will soon see the savings pot go up!

Develop some side hustles

People often have hobbies that can be monetised – these should be taken advantage of. Homemade jewellery sales, dog walking and even shopping can be made into monetised hobbies. Who wouldn’t love being paid to shop? Make some money and save it for a rainy day. Even better if the hobby is free or fairly cheap!

Get cashback

When I say this, I mean in one of two ways. Use a cashback site like TopCashback or Quidco when buying online. Why not make some extra cash when you are spending some?

Declutter & sell




Copyright: chattanongzen Shutterstock

An obvious choice but something people are reluctant to do. I have resisted selling some stuff ‘just in case’ but realised that this was not helpful to me or my savings account. Plus it left my house cluttered and left me feeling down as it just seemed to be everywhere. Adding the small amounts you make from selling your old stuff to your savings account will soon make a difference.

There are plenty more ways in which people can save more and spend less in 2016. It is all about taking a step back and taking a long, hard look at your finances. Cut out any unnecessary spending, develop some side hustles and you can have a bigger, better and bulging savings account come the end of the year.


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Sunday, 10 January 2016

What To Buy For Your First Baby - Prams And Cots

Having your first baby is an exciting time, but planning for your first baby can be overwhelming. In this post I am focusing on the different types of prams and cots out there. These items are often the costliest and there are so many types of each on the market that I hope this post will shed some light on them.

Prams, Pushchairs and Travel Systems


A good quality pram or pushchair is essential, as well as a rain cover and sunshade for added protection. To be suitable for a new baby you should ensure that the baby can lie flat in the pram or pushchair.


A Budget Option - Joie Brisk Travel System - Royal Blue £134.95

A pram is generally more robust and cannot be folded flat for storage while a pushchair can be easily folded away. Some pushchairs are marketed as 'all terrain' and have 3 large wheels. These are especially good if you do a lot of walking in the countryside and on uneven ground. If you buy a pram and are a car driver, consider if you have space in the boot for the pram or would a pushchair take up less space.

A stroller is more suitable for older babies when they can sit up unaided and is also lightweight and easy to fold. Strollers are particularly easy to manage when you get on and off public transport and are light and easy to manoeuvre around.
A Luxury Option - Cosatto Ooba 3 in 1 Travel System - Charleston £899.95

A travel system usually includes a carry cot which can convert into a pram and car seat in one. If you do not have have a travel system, and you have a car, you need to think about a car seat as wellAlthough seemingly more expensive at first a travel system can be more economical in the long run as you do not have to buy the separate pieces. 

When choosing a car seat the rule is that all babies start off life in a rearward-facing infant carrier. As there are many things to consider when buying a car seat, I recommend checking out this guide by Which magazine here.

Cots, Cot Beds And Moses Baskets

A newborn baby needs between 10 and 18 hour of sleep a day so choosing the right bed for your little one is vitally important. 





Clair De Lune Palm Moses Basket - Butterscotch £25.95 Sale Price

Moses baskets which are suitable from birth are generally made of wicker and lined for comfort. Moses baskets are smaller and cosier than cots and are usually suitable until the baby is 3 or 4 months old. They often have handles so you can carry the baby from room to room if needed.

4Baby Classic Cot Bed - Country Pine £89.95 Sale Price

After the baby outgrows the moses basket a cot or cot bed is the next step. A cot bed is generally bigger as it can adapt into a child's bed when they get older, and therefore can be better value for money. It's a matter of personal preference if you choose a cot or cot bed. Some parents can feel a little baby can get a little 'lost' in the cot bed due to their size. 

A thick waterproof mattress is important in a cot and cot bead. Make sure you have the right size and type for the cot, and that it is firm with no sagging, tears or damage and no obvious gaps between the mattress and the cot. 

Babies are not good at regulating their heat so you must monitor their temperature and adjust their bedding accordingly. The advice is to not use a duvet when the child is under the age of one, as a sheet and a light blanket is often enough, just add an extra light layer if the room is cold.

For more advice when buying a cot or cot bed, check out this guide by Which magazine which is very useful and this website by The Lullaby Trust, which offers help and advice on SIDS and safer sleep for babies. 

When buying a pram, pushchair, car seat or cot always look out for the British Standards Institute mark to ensure the item is tested to rigorous standards and is safe to use.

All items featured above are from Online 4 Baby. With next day delivery and a one hour delivery slot * in most cases, your pushchair, cot or other baby essentials will be delivered to your doorstep when you need it, quickly and effortlessly, at a click of a button.



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