Monday, 17 December 2018

Diamonds And Gold - The Luxury Buying Market

Christmas is coming, and many families have to really watch the pennies, but in the lives of the rich and famous, money is no object. Many think nothing of splashing the cash on a Rolex watch worth £50,000 or a diamond-encrusted pen and a tree topper studded with diamonds is virtually acceptable of £600,000.

On my blog today I bring you an article, in collaboration with Angelic Diamonds, retailers of white gold wedding rings looking at the market of expensive goods and investigate how some items earned their price tags.

The attraction to pricey purchases



Of course, if you are super-rich you will have the disposable income to make expensive purchases but people spend money on pricey purchases for other reasons too.

One of these reasons is to demonstrate social status. In one argument by French philosopher, Pierre Bourdieu, it was suggested that the things that consumers buy are ways of communicating a ‘symbolic hierarchy’ to others — a way to distinguish their place in society.

The attitude of the buyer also determines if they are likely to make a luxury purchase and attitudes are affected by age. By 2025, Bain & Company predicts that Millennials and Generation Z will account for 45% of the global personal luxury goods market, yet that brings challenges as they shop and think differently - many preferring experiences than objects of desire and valuing an immersive and/or online shopping experience.

Shopping online has had a revolution in the last 10 years with 70% of luxury purchases influenced by online interactions. The availability of luxury e-commerce also meant that 14% of buyers aged 18 to 24 were found to have made their first luxury purchase over the internet. So there is definitely a market for selling luxury items online as online shopping becomes normalised.

What makes certain items so expensive?




A range of things can determine the price tag of an item. Craftmanship, the quality of the item, what the item is made of and the brand are factors that can determine the price of an item. Two materials that often bump up the cost of an item are diamonds and gold — but why?

The luxury of diamonds 



The attraction to diamonds dates back hundreds of years. At one point in time, they were reserved for royalty — making them a stone owned by the rich and wealthy and sought after by everyone else.

Now, diamonds are more accessible, but price and quality still vary depending on the ‘Four Cs’. These are clarity, carat, colour and cut — together these determine how much a diamond is worth. Clarity refers to the overall appearance of the diamond, which can be affected by ‘inclusions’ and ‘blemishes’. These are often not visible to the naked eye but are found through analysis by an expert. The weight of the diamond is expressed through the carat weight, a 1-carat diamond is definitely a status symbol. Moving over to colour, a pure diamond is truly colourless and more valuable than one which has a presence of colour. Lastly, the cut of a diamond determines how well it sparkles due to its interaction with light, with a round brilliant cut diamond being the most classic and sought-after look for an engagement ring.

Diamond encrusted items can sell for millions of pounds. Take a look at the following, for example:

Potentially the most expensive pair of shades in the world are Dolce and Gabbana's DG2027B sunglasses. They have been crafted with a solid gold frame and studded with diamonds. To buy this luxury product would set you back $383, 609 (£271,472).

One dog collar was valued at an astounding $3.2 million (£2.26 million). Forbes Magazine called it ‘the Bugatti of dog collars’ and it’s clear to see why. It was encrusted with 1,600 diamonds with a seven-carat, colourless centrepiece and black alligator leather for the collar.


A love for gold




Another material which gets a lot of attention from the rich and upper-class is gold. Gold has always been associated with wealth and power and this opinion has continued to today.

Compared to many of the other elements in the periodic table, gold is one of the least-reactive. This means that it is less likely to corrode when used. The metal also doesn’t rust and is aesthetically pleasing, plus it’s versatile! We’ve seen many items crafted out of gold or fitted with gold plates to add value. Take a look at the following:

Costing $999,999 (£707,799) is the GoVacuum GV62711. Features include a 14-inch cleaning nozzle, a weight of 16 pounds and gold plating. There were only 100 of these products made — true exclusives.

Another standard product made expensive by the addition of gold is the 24-carat gold shoelaces. These cost a pricey $19,000 (£13,448) or shoppers can opt for the silver shoelaces which would set them back $3,000 (£2,123) 




Diamonds and gold are examples of true luxury materials. They’ve been popular for centuries with the rich and famous and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s clear that the addition of them to even the most mundane of products can increase the value more than a hundred times over. While the wealthy have the funds to do so, it’s likely that they’ll continue to splash their cash on things that everyone else thinks is a bit extravagant.


*Collaborative post 
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Sunday, 16 December 2018

Creating A Wow Factor In Your Home

If you have bought a new house or are looking to revamp your current home, you may be looking to create that wow factor in your home decor, but how do you exactly do that? How do you find that brilliant idea or design feature? Well, here I have rounded up some ideas for you on how you can create that well thought out wow factor in your home.

Create the unexpected



When you walk into a room the wow factor is often created when you see something unexpected, so this is the first thing I would consider. Don't be the same if you want to stand out from the crowd - be different. Walk into the bathroom and surprise your guest with a Moroccan vibe, or enter the conservatory and have it crammed with pot plants and flowers so it feels like a jungle!

Get a focal point



In each room consider a focal point. This could be a large fireplace or a sunken bath, a piece of modern art or a chandelier, a huge plant or a feature wall (more of that later) Create that memorable focal point in each room and people will go wow.

Terrific tiles



Tiles can really add detail and colour to a room, you can even get lost in their pattern. Whether you go for a chic black and white tile, a Portuguese blue, an Arabic geometric pattern or a modern dash of colour, tiles are a cool design feature. So consider tiles to create a different look but one that won't go unnoticed. 

Feature walls



Feature walls can work well, so don't be beige and boring instead go for bright colours or a vinyl wrap around. Custom wall prints by Vinyline Graphics are an excellent way to create an individual feel to the space you are looking to fill. The only restriction is your imagination, perfect for home or a business environment. 

Sometimes less is more



Sometimes less really is more. So instead of cramming the furniture into a room, consider one or two items of furniture aesthetically placed. This works particularly well if you have an amazing view or modern minimalist furniture in the room. In this photo above the view is doing the talking.

Quality is best



Poor quality items do not get a wow. Instead, invest in well made design-led furniture or vintage and antique items that you upcycle and are unique. Different is good and different will give you the wow factor and make a home memorable.

Large-scale lighting



Lighting that wows and is a talking point can really add to a room. Go old school with a large chandelier, or unleash your inner Scandi designer and go for Swedish minimalist light.

So here are some design features that will create a wow factor in your home. Tell me, what do you think of these ideas?

*Collaborative post

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Friday, 14 December 2018

YNot? Suitcase Review

YNot? is an Italian fashion accessory brand that makes handbags, purses and suitcases. They contacted me recently to see if I wanted to collaborate with them, and when I saw the designs that were travel inspired I was keen to take part. 

YNot? was established is 2003 and opened its first branded shop in Milan, in June 2016. Located in the heart of Milan’s fashion district, the boutique’s design is inspired by the aesthetic philosophy of the brand. 'Why not?', typifies the attitude to life of fans' of YNot? bags and fashion accessories. The typical customer sees life as an adventure in which you have to try everything once. 
 You can now find YNot? in over 800 shops across Europe.

So when I was looking at what to choose I decided to review a cabin size suitcase. I use my small suitcase a lot as it is perfect for a few days away.  As I needed a new one I decided to pick one from the range of YNot? at Our Bag Online.


The cabin size suitcase I chose was called the Yes-Fixy suitcase,  in a design called Blue Rain. Blue Rain is a black and white design of Paris with vivid colours over layed. 


When it arrived it was well packaged and had a fine film to protect the design. Immediately I thought the design looked great and the suitcase appeared sturdy and well constructed.


The suitcase comes with a TSA approved lock. The TSA are the agency that deals with travel security in the US. If you are travelling to the US, the TSA requires access to luggage without the passengers being present. Staff have an approved master key that can open and relock your case without having to break the lock. This suitcase has a Travel Sentry Approved lock, a lock that is extremely secure and is approved by the TSA.



To set the lock was easy, just follow the clear instructions above and you are good to go. Simple.




The inside of the case was well thought out. On the right is an area with the luggage ties and on the left is a zipped compartment of the same size. This also has two smaller zipped areas too, perfect for putting charges and cables perhaps. 





I took the suitcase away for a weekend and it was the perfect size for a weekend break. I managed to get all my clothes in as well as toiletries and my laptop and camera. 

I would recommend the YNot? cabin size suitcase. It's a perfect size for a weekend break and to carry as hold luggage, measuring 54 by 34 by 20 CM. It has a packing size of 33 litres and a weight of 2.5KG. It feels sturdy and is easy to wheel around.

If you are looking for a stylish cabin suitcase that won't break tomorrow I can definitely recommend one of the suitcases from 
YNot? They offer free delivery to the UK on all orders over £50 as well and qualifying orders over £100 for EU and USA delivery. I really like my new cabin size suitcase, it's stylish, it's easy to use and it's great for a weekend stay. Recommended. 

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Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Overcoming The Fear Of Flying

For many of us flying is a necessity, a way to travel for business or for pleasure, for some it is even a delight, they enjoy the excitement of the whole experience, however, for many people a fear of flying fills them with dread and anxiety. A fear of flying is a common fear these days, and I have to admit it affects me too, but I try not to let it stop me travelling.

For some people, it may not stop them travelling but their fear of flying can make them tearful, upset and anxious, maybe even have panic attacks. However, for some people, it can get to the extent that it makes them avoid planes or travelling. If you are affected, here are some tips on how to overcome your fear of flying. 

Why are you afraid?




A fear of flying or aviophobia affects between approximately 3 and 6 per cent of the population at any time and there are usually a number of factors involved in someone being scared to fly.

A lack of control is one aspect. In a plane, you are not in control, and when the doors shut you can't get out, which makes it claustrophobic for some. That is one reason why people hate flying. In fact, this is why I hate it myself!

Also with 24-hour news and media these days we see more plane crashes than ever before reported. However, flying is so much safer than driving, with many research articles pointing this out, and you are actually 15 times more likely to be hit by lightning than be involved in a plane crash. 

Another reason you may hate flying is if you do not like heights. In some respect, this is a natural fear, a 'fight or flight response' to keep you safe. However, if it is affecting your ability to take a flight then this needs to be looked at further. 

Self-help tips


1. Plan everything in advance

Plan everything in advance so you feel you are in control. If you live a distance from the airport, consider booking an airport hotel the night before, this will avoid any traffic hold-ups on the day and give you less potential for being stressed.  Booking an airport lounge is also a relaxing way to start a trip, as the lounge will generally provide food and drinks as well as free Wi-Fi in a relaxing comfortable area, away from the general bustle of an airport.

2. Book an upgraded seat

An aisle seat will give you more of a feeling of space and stop you feeling hemmed in. I always do this or upgrade my seat to exit row, premium or if its a special occasion, business class. The extra space of these seats cannot be beaten and in my experience definitely helps with claustrophobia. 

3. Keep yourself busy

I like to check out the plane beforehand to see if there is an entertainment system, with TV, films and music to keep me occupied. On short-haul planes, this is less likely so I make sure I have films and music downloaded on my laptop beforehand. I also take work with me to do on the plane as well.  A point of note, try to avoid programmes on plane crashes and media coverage of such things especially in the run-up to a flight. I must admit I was shocked that one well-known airline had the film Flight that starts with a plane crash on their entertainment system last year!

4. Use relaxing music 


Make a playlist of relaxing music and download it prior to the flight so you can listen to it whilst you are on the plane. 

5. Practise relaxation techniques

Before you get on the plane, research relaxation techniques. Even simple breathing exercises can help if you feel panicky. You can download audio or video content to help with relaxation techniques.

6. Avoid caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant so avoid caffeine as it can make you jittery. Instead, drink soft drinks that aren't carbonated as fizzy drinks may make you feel bloated and uncomfortable. 

7. Adjust air vents

Turn on the air vents as soon as you get on the plane. I also like to take a hand-held fan in case it gets warm. Anecdotal evidence and personal experience does suggest that having cool air on your face makes you feel anxious. Try it, and let me know what you think.

8. Beware of alcohol 

Alcohol can take the edge off the fear for some but be careful not to drink too much, and especially be careful if you are mixing alcohol with medication, such as travel sickness tablets or anxiolytic mediation as this can enhance the sedative effect. Alcohol can also make you dehydrated so be sure to drink plenty of water during a flight. 

9. Be careful with medication 

If you find your fear is getting worse, visit your Dr, they can help refer you for counselling (more of that later) and prescribe medication for short-term use, usually 6 or 8 tablets of Diazepam or other similar medication. Some people do not like the effect that anxiolytic medication has on them, so it is useful to try out a tablet before you go if you have never tried them before. 

10. Positive thinking

It's always good to focus on the destination you are going to and visualise yourself there perhaps lying on the beach or relaxing with a glass of wine over a meal in your destination. 


Do you need counselling? 



If you feel that your fear is getting out of control and you want to seek further help, consider counselling Counselling can be online or in person with a trained counsellor. Often a fear of flying starts after a big life event. Counselling can help get to the route of the fear of flying and the triggers to your anxiety. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is one such technique they use to help you conquer your fear for example.

What about fear of flying courses?


Fear of flying courses are worth considering especially if your fear is severe. Often these involve an educational session about how a plane works, what the noises mean and how safe flying is, with relaxation techniques and support from airline staff.  British Airways run a Flying With Confidence course, and Virgin Atlantic run a  Flying Without Fear course too. Many people have been helped with these courses every year and the group setting can help you feel less isolated as other people feel the same as you. 

As you can see there are a number of things you can do it help you overcome your fear of flying. I hope this article has been useful to you.

For more information check out this post on how you can overcome your fear of flying from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

*Collaborative post

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Monday, 10 December 2018

Five Steps To A Sparkling Smile

Everyone deserves a sparking and friendly smile. Most people when asked will say that if there is one thing that they can do today to improve their smile it would be to have a whiter smile. However, with today's modern diet it can be difficult for people to achieve a dazzling white smile on their own.

Unfortunately, staining food and drinks, the ageing process and poor oral hygiene practices can lead to our teeth yellowing, making it very hard to keep those pearly whites clean and bright.

What you can do to get whiter teeth



There are a few things that you can do to help improve the brightness of your smile and the whiteness of your teeth. Let's take a look at five tips for obtaining the dazzling smile you deserve:

1. Reduce or avoid staining food and drink

We all love our favourite food and drink items but many of them are not our friend when it comes to keeping our teeth white. Try to minimise your consumption of highly staining drinks such as coffee, tea and red wine.

Many acidic foods can be very damaging to your teeth and can cause a lot of staining or discolouration over time. Try to reduce your consumption of acidic fruits such as lemons and grapefruit, tomatoes are another highly staining and acidic food that can erode tooth enamel and allow your yellow-coloured dentine showing through.

Eating and drinking sugar-laden food and drink can also cause plaque build up on your teeth that can lead to tooth decay. Tooth decay can cause severe discolouration to your teeth. Even eating what most people believe to be healthy berries and fruits can deliver a high sugar impact as well as staining from the rich pigments contained in the fruit.

2. Use a straw to drink with

You can bypass your teeth and avoid a lot of tooth staining by sipping your drinks through a straw. Using a straw presents a simple barrier between a staining drink and the surface of your teeth. It can also help to prevent staining from food and drink by cleaning your teeth soon after you have finished your meal and drink. Avoid plastic by using a paper straw or a reusable metal straw.

3. Keep a good oral hygiene routine

There is nothing better to help keep your teeth clean and free from plaque build up and staining coatings from food and drink than to brush your teeth twice per day, floss at least once per day and visit your dentist for regular deep cleaning.

4. Stop smoking

If you smoke, then you are not only putting your health at risk, you are also increasing your risks of tooth staining. The nicotine and tar contained in tobacco smoke can easily leach into gaps and fractures in your tooth enamel and leave tell-tale yellow or brown stains on your teeth.

5. Get your teeth whitened by your dentist

Your dentist should be your first call when you want to get your teeth professionally whitened. They can give you a thorough oral examination and recommend a tooth whitening procedure that would be the most effective for you to follow. This may involve in-office treatments at your dental surgery, an at-home overnight whitening system, or a combination of both.

By far the quickest and most effective way to give yourself the sparkling smile you deserve is to book yourself in with your dentist for a professional teeth whitening procedure.

*Collaborative post
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Friday, 7 December 2018

How To Save Money On Your Mobile Phone Contract

Traditional mobile phone contracts see customers happily sign up to a two year deal to get their hands on the latest iPhone for ‘free’ and end up paying more than £50 each month for the privilege.

Yet some people, me included, spend much less on their mobile phone bill and that got me thinking about sharing my knowledge with you, especially when an estimated four million people have been charged £490 million for handsets they already own!

Obviously I can’t promise you’ll cut your bills dramatically, but follow these tips and there’s no reason you should be paying more than £15 a month.

Go SIM only




The cheapest deals are ones that don’t come with a smartphone included and they’re SIM only deals. With a SIM only deal you either keep your old smartphone or buy a new one outright and pay just for your minutes, texts and data.

As well as the lower prices, the good thing about SIM only deals is that they give you a lot of flexibility. You can get contracts that run from as little as 30 days and most only last 12months, rather than the 24 month deals you’re tied in to on a phone contract.

Because you are no longer paying for a shiny new smartphone, the monthly costs are also a lot lower.

Some networks also offer discounts for family plans where if you take out one sim only contract, then you receive discounts on any others you take out on your plan for other family members. This is worth considering if you have teenagers and BT Mobile offer the best value family plan at the moment with 20% off every additional sim and they’re only 30 day plans too.

Should I avoid a contract phone altogether?

I’m a total convert to the SIM Only contract but there are some deals that can make sense, especially on less popular phones. Some older devices that have been out for over a year can be picked up on cheap deals that will match SIM only or only put you out by a few pounds over 24 months.

Don’t just look at prices on the main networks


You are probably familiar with the main networks in the UK: O2, EE, Three and Vodafone. But there are lots of others called MVNO’s that “piggyback” on the main networks signal.

You can get exactly the same reception as someone on O2 if you use giffgaff for example. If you look at the prices, you will usually find the prices on these smaller providers far cheaper than the main brands. For reference here’s a list of ones you should consider: 


Giffgaff and Tesco Mobile who use O2
Asda Mobile, Virgin, BT, Post Office Mobile use EE
Voxi use Vodafone
ID Mobile and Smarty uses Three

Make sure you check the coverage of each network before you part with your money, the Ofcom Mobile Coverage checker will show you reception across the four main companies.

It’s also easy to move your number to a new network if you switch so don’t be afraid to move providers. All you need is your PAC code which your existing network must issue if you request it.

Don’t pay for more minutes/ text/ data than you’ll actually use

One of the biggest ways you can waste money on your phone bill by paying for data you don’t use. This is often done via clever upselling.

You will often see deals that are just £2 more for double the data which sounds great. Except you don’t always need more data.

You should be able to get an idea of how many minutes and texts you use each month and there are some useful data usage apps and calculators for working out how much data you need. As a rule, unless you are constantly streaming video you’ll not need more than 1GB or 2GB.

Compare prices and cashback



Just like you would with your household bills, it’s important to compare the entire market. There are so many price comparison sites now so use them all and see if they have different deals available.

Factor in the extras and freebies

I wouldn’t choose a deal based purely on extras, but if prices are similar it’s worth seeing what you can get. For example if you use your phone abroad, Three might be the best choice because they have a lot of inclusive roaming destinations.

Call your network to see if they’ll negotiate

If you are on an existing deal it’s worth calling your network to see if they can do you a better deal. Ask to speak with the ‘disconnection’ team as they have access to cheaper deals to try and convince you to stay.

Don’t wait for your contract to end to start finding deals

Whatever you do, don’t let your existing contract run over at the higher monthly price. Plan ahead and look at deals the month before it ends, that way you’re ready to switch as soon as the contract ends.

*Collaborative post
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Wednesday, 5 December 2018

The Old Rhinebeck Inn - A Historic American Farmhouse In Dutchess County New York State

Recently we were lucky to visit the beautiful Dutchess County area of New York State. Dutchess County is located in southeastern New York State, between the Hudson River on its west and the New York–Connecticut border on its east. It's an area of America, with lush green countryside, with vineyards dotting the landscape, farms selling their tasty produce and plenty of outdoor activities.



Our stay for the whistle stop press trip with Dutchess Tourism was the Old Rhinebeck Inn, an early American style farmhouse built around 1745. Located three miles away from the little town of Rhinebeck, just over two hours drive from New York City, this little gem of a farmhouse is tucked away in a rural location surrounded by meadows and trees. 


We had a warm welcome from Cindy who helps run the farmhouse with the owner Jonna and on arrival were offered local apple cider, which is a non-alcoholic beverage like cloudy apple juice. It was delicious and just what we needed after the drive.

The inn began as a home to the farming family of Johann Michael Pultz and his wife, who extended the house room by room as they had more children.

The four bedrooms at the Old Rhinebeck Inn are all individually furnished in a rustic style. Each room is filled with antiques and has an air
 of comfort and cosy luxury. Each room has a private bath and/or shower, eco-friendly toiletries, hair dryers and plush soft robes, as well as all the modern conveniences you expect these days like free W-Fi, USB chargers, Netflix and satellite TV.


The little touches in this place make your stay feel extra special. Each room has fresh cut flowers, a guest fridge with complimentary soft drinks and a welcome plate on arrival with scrumptious cookies. Complimentary tea and coffee were available on each floor and fresh milk (including almond milk) provided on request. 

Our room was called the Plow and Harrow suite. A large suite, this consisted of a cosy sitting room, a stylish and rustic bedroom and a cool modern bathroom. 


The furnishings fitted in with the American farmhouse feel. I was particularly impressed with the bed that was huge and really comfortable with a memory foam mattress. The room had a sofa, small table, bedside tables and a little nook to store your clothes. An in-room fridge full of cans of complimentary soft drink were very welcome, and not seen very often in a hotel room.







The bathroom consisted of a shower, separate claw foot bath, toilet, and sink. Everything was suitably pristine and spotlessly clean, which is super important don't you think?

Toiletries were eco-friendly and the accommodation has a Trip Advisors Green Leaders platinum level for its eco-friendly practices such as recycling and growing their own vegetables. 

The view from the bathroom and bedroom was of the green fields below but was shaded so no one could see you too. 


There was a gas fire in the room, which I would think would be very welcome on a cold winters day, keeping you cosy and warm.

We had a glimpse of the other rooms as well and some of the highlights are below.














As you can see the whole place was gorgeous and the photos really don't do it justice.  Each room was decorated authentically and in compliment to the history of the inn. 



Breakfast was served at 9am in the dining room and included items such as homemade vegetable frittata, baked french custard pancakes and other scrumptious delights that change on a regular basis. Dishes incorporated organic milk, the freshest eggs from their own chickens, and vegetables picked that day from their garden. 



We were treated to Bircher muesli which was possibly the best I have ever had, avocado toast with radish which was seasoned perfectly, baked eggs with salmon and crispy sauteed potatoes. Juice was a cherry and berry mix packed full of antioxidants. Everything was healthy but tasty too and you certainly wouldn't go hungry with the food on offer. 



Rooms at the Old Rhinebeck Inn start at $225 a night, which for the standard of accommodation I think is fairly priced. It's not cheap certainly but in this instance, I believe you get what you pay for.

Would we stay here again? Most definitely! I've always wanted to stay in a homely American farmhouse, being brought up with the Waltons TV show in the 1970s. The Old Rhinebeck Inn exceeded every expectation I had on the decor, the amenities and the warm welcome. The breakfast was outstanding and the quality of the ingredients was exceptional. Cindy and Jonna are friendly and warm and were great company too. 

For more information on what to do in the area check out Dutchess Tourism.

If you are ever staying in the Rhinebeck area or want a luxurious base to explore Dutchess County then I can say with my hand on my heart you can do no wrong staying here.  Exceptional.

Olde Rhinebeck Inn
340 Wurtemburg Rd,
Rhinebeck, 

* This was a complimentary stay as part of a press trip

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Choosing Kitchen Worktops

If you are having a new kitchen fitted or you are upgrading your kitchen by refurbishing it, one thing you will have to think about is the kitchen worktops. Replacing them on a old kitchen can make all the difference to the overall look of the kitchen and they are also an integral part of a new kitchen, but there are a surprising amount of options to choose from.

All kitchen worktops have to be hardwearing and withstanding food preparation. They come in a variety of prices and have a different aesthetic look depending on the substance used. To take you through the various options, here is a guide to choosing kitchen worktops.  

Marble


Marble worktops give a luxurious high-end look in a kitchen. Even piece of marble is different so your worktops will be unique. Marble is cool to the touch and doesn't get hot so it is good surface for people who like to bake a lot and make pastry. It's fairly easy to maintain and clean with wam water and a mild detergent. It can scratch over time as its a natural substance but you shouldn't notice it much due to the natural design of the material.

Glass

Glass has a variety of benefits. It is modern and chic in a kitchen and is heat resisitant and very durable. It's easy to keep clean and hugienic too. It comes in a variery of sizes and shapes and colours to fit in with any kitchen. The only problem with glass is that it needs frequent cleaning and can be expensive. 

Laminate

Laminate is a great budget option, so if you are on a limited budget consider this. It can be made to look like more expensive worksurfaces and is scratch and heat resistant. It's easy to mainain too. Laminates don't seem to last as well over time however and can peel or even burn and melt.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is often used in industrial or high-end kitchen restaurants. It has a very modern look so wouldn't be suitable for more traditional style houses and kitchens. It is strong, easy to clean, waterproof and antibacterial. It can give off a look that is cold and clinical however. It's not a cheap option as well.

Wood



Wood works well in a traditional kitchen, especially in a older house. Maple, oak and beech are popular choices. The look of wood improves with age and every piece of wood is unique, They are naturally resistant to germs and bacteria. Wood does need some upkeep however. They need to be oiled regularly to ensure it is protected from water and they can mark with heat so avoid putting hot pans and dishes on a wooden work surface. They are reasonable in price but more expensive than laminates.

Composite 

Composite worktops where two or more materials are combined together can be hardwearing, very hygienic and easy to install.  Diresco worktops are one such example and they are made of a combination of granite granuels, high quality resin, authentic quartz, and varying pigments. With a range of natural looking finishes its a luxurious finish that can be surprisingly cost-effecive.

As you can see there are a number of different worktops you can pick for your kitchen. Which do you have in your kitchen?

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Monday, 3 December 2018

My Seven Wonders Of The World And Win Your Own Version

The world is such a fantastic place and we all have places we want to visit and cross off as we meander through life. Many of us have 'bucket list' ideas of places that are our ultimate destinations too, perhaps Japan would be in there or New York or Venice. 

There are also those wondrous constructions that are really awe-inspiring, perhaps built by an ancient civilisation or a new modern wonder of architecture that is iconic, somewhere that, if you visit, you know you've been there, and the sort of destination that could be in our own personal seven wonders of the world. 

So when Exodus Travels asked me about my seven wonders of the world, the places I have visited and places that I want to visit that fill me with a sense of wonder and awe then I had to think long and hard. Should I focus on destinations such as Iceland or Sri Lanka or should I focus on constructions like the traditional seven wonders of the world, or should I just mix it up? 

Well here are my seven wonders of the world, personal to me, let me know what yours are, and enter here to win your own seven wonders of the world with Exodus Travels.

Colosseum, Rome, Italy



Rome is an amazing historic city, and one of the must-sees is definitely the Colosseum, an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city. It was used for gladiator contests, reenactments of famous battles, dramas based on Greek mythology and public executions. In its day it could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators.  If you have ever seen any movies about gladiators, you can really imagine the spectators putting their thumbs down when a gladiator lost a fight. 

St Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, Russia



At the southern end of Red Square, Moscow, St Basil's Cathedral stands out with its colourful decor. The patterns and colours make for a striking and awe-inspiring sight. Built from 1555 to 1561, this masterpiece would become the ultimate symbol of Russia and was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible to celebrate a battle victory the 1552 capture of Kazan from Mongol forces. It is now a World Heritage Site.

The Top Of The Rock, New York, USA



Why the Top Of The Rock you may ask? The iconic view of New York from the top of the Rockefeller Centre is a view that means you are in one of the best cities in the world, with the bustling working city below you! The Rockefeller building is a large complex of 19 buildings but it's most famous for the view which takes in the Empire State Building. The view of New York City is simply breathtaking.

Statue of Christ The Redeemer, Rio, South America



Ever since I saw it on children's television programme Blue Peter in the 1980s I've wanted to see the statue of Christ The Redeemer in Rio. At nearly 30 meters tall excluding the pedestal, you can't miss it as it dominates over Rio. The statue of Jesus with his arms open is made of reinforced concrete and clad in a mosaic of triangular tiles. Even though I am not religious, it would surely be a sight to see.

Roman Baths, Bath, England, UK



The whole city of Bath in the South West of England is a UNESCO world heritage site, known for its 18th Century Georgian architecture and its natural hot springs. The Roman Baths are in the centre of the city, dedicated to the goddess Sulis by the Celts and then adopted by the Romans and dedicated to their goddess Minerva around AD60. The Romans kept the original Celtic name calling the site ‘Aquae Sulis‘.  The Roman Baths are no longer used for bathing but to see this ancient site and read about the history is enthralling. A must visit.

The Taj Mahal



The Taj Mahal epitomises India and nothing says India more like it. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site it was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife - with construction starting in 1632 and finishing in 1653. Made of marble it is a beautiful building both inside and out and inside the gorgeous decor has intricate flowers, calligraphy and geometric shapes all around.

Pompeii, Italy



My last wonder of the world are the ruins of Pompeii near Naples, Italy. Since I studied the eruption in AD 79 of Mount Vesuvius in school and the aftermath of the volcano erupting I have always wanted to see the remains of the cities decimated. It has erupted many times since - the last being in 1944. It's a sobering place, after all, many people died but it's such an important historic site, and you can learn much about life in those days as much was preserved, such as buildings, graffiti and even the outline of the bodies. 

So these are my seven wonders of the world. What are yours?

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