Monday, 12 November 2018

Living DNA

A post by Mr W, who blogs over with me at www.flydriveexplore.com our couple travel blog.

Last year my wife completed her ancestry test. I don’t know where her love of travel came from but it certainly wasn’t genetic as the results indicated that her family have barely moved 50 miles in the last 10 generations.

I’ve always been interested where my family were from, my mother says she was Welsh and knew her family tree back at least 4 generations however past my grandfather was pretty vague on my father’s side. Although my father did insist he was a ‘Celtic Warrior’ from the Silures tribe.

To find out more about my ancestors I tried the Living DNA test. Firstly, what I did like was that there wasn’t any hard sell to upgrade you to some additional family tree membership site.


Taking The Test


It was simple to order the test online and the kit arrived within a few days. The instructions were clear and simple and it was easy to use the mouth swab. There was a slight problem with registering my kit online so I emailed the help desk who did get back to me straight away despite it being a weekend.

They did apologise and said everything would be sorted on Monday, which it was by 10 am without the need for any reminder or further emails.

Now everything was sorted and my secure online account was now live. Just pop the sample into the pre-paid envelope and sit back, wait and dream. I’m sure the results would show that I am the rightful heir to the British throne, just step aside Prince Charles.

A day later I received confirmation that the sample had been received by Living DNA, you can actually check the progress and status of your test online. The estimated turnaround time for the results was 10 to 12 weeks although I got my results in about 4 weeks.


The Results


I was notified by email that my results were available online but there is an option to request a printed version as well. It was quite exciting to get the results, Would there be any strange anomaly in my family? Well, any stranger than they actually are. Did I have a half Peruvian, half Nepalese great, great uncle?

When I looked at the results unsurprisingly I was 98% European, although I was glad they were human!




My father's line had strong connections in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Brittany and even Northern Spain, so as mentioned earlier, the claim that he was a Celtic warrior looked like he was probably right. It may be time to cover my body in woad and walk through the town centre with an axe as a tribute to my ancestors.

My mother always thought she was more Welsh than my father but the results on my mother's line seem to come from all over Europe and beyond. It was news to her that she had strong matches with Belgium, The Netherlands, Georgia and Dagestan.

It was really interesting to find out more about my family history and it made me think about their work and lives and how different it must have been to my comfortable life. Would they be proud to see where the family ended up or would they despair at the state it’s in?

Anyway, if you haven’t tried a family DNA test I would highly recommend giving Living DNA a go. It was easy to use, helpful support and no ‘hard sell’. You’ll never know what surprises you may uncover.

* I received a DNA kit in exchange for an honest post.
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Sunday, 11 November 2018

Win Your Christmas Presents With My Adult Christmas Gift Guide Ends 02/12

It won't be long before it's Christmas. Yes, I hate to remind you but this time next month you will be probably panicking that you are not ready! Or are you like me, super organised but then end up buying a load of presents last minute as you think you haven't enough?

Well, I've made it easy for you and I have got together a number of lovely companies in my Adult Christmas Gift Guide 2018. The best part is, you can win all these prizes too! 


For the man who has everything, what about a premium drinks subscription service? The Summerton Club is the perfect way to fill up your drinks cabinet with rare and unique spirits. At £50 per bottle delivered, you need to choose how regularly they arrive at your door, or the door of a loved one and then let them do the searching to find unique spirits. With free delivery and the ability to pause or cancel the service at any time you are always in control, and they also aim to ensure that you won't be able to buy these bottles at less than the price of membership, saving you money into the bargain.

This bottle above is one of the bottles received by members and the bottle I am giving away. Only 8000 of these bottles of Mackmya Gruvguld single malt whisky have been produced worldwide, so you are in for a real treat.

For your mum





For the mum that is always rushing around, what about a luxury foot spa from HoMedics? This foot spa has removable massage rollers to stimulate the tootsies with acupressure and a comfortable ergonomic angle base your feet will be relaxed and refreshed in no time. It has a pumice stone and massage roller as attachments and produces double the bubbles than normal with 4 bubble strips. 

The HoMedics foot spa also comes with a luxury nail care kit with a nail brush, cuticle scissors, emery board and more, to look after your feet. The HoMedics foot spa also fits up to size 12 feet so watch out for your dad pinching it too!


For your sister

This miniature gin set is perfect for the gin connoisseur - your sister or friend perhaps? With eight bottles of 40ml, containing one each of delicious fruity gin liqueurs, there will be a flavour for everyone. From violet gin to Turkish delight gin, from elderflower to gin lime basil there is a taste sensation in every little bottle. The purists will also like the sloe gin or the rhubarb gin. Whether you serve it straight on the rocks or make a cocktail concoction your recipient will be delighted. 

I like this recipe for an Elderflower Gin Martini. Take 2 parts Elderflower Gin, 1 part fresh lemon juice, 1 tbs Dry Vermouth, 1tbs sugar syrup. Shake all ingredients with ice and pour into a glass straining out the ice.
 

For your brother

Kentucky has some of the best bourbons in the world, they even have a Kentucky bourbon trail where you can visit the 14 distilleries in the county where bourbon is made. The next best thing to visiting Kentucky is to have some delicious Kentucky bourbon at home. 

This Kentucky bourbon filled Christmas tree will be highly appreciated by any bourbon lover. With 200ml of 40% vol alcohol, you have enough to drink it on the rocks or make some cocktails with. I like an 'Old Fashioned' made with bourbon, orange, bitters and sugar. Cheers!
For your son or daughter
For your son or daughter what about these on-the-ear Out There wireless headphones from Jam Audio? These headphones can pause the music to make hands-free calls within the 15-meter Bluetooth range. 

With active noise cancellation, they are also perfect to wear in noisy environments, I would definitely use these on the plane for example. The active noise cancellation ensures crisp clean sound whether you plug in with an aux cord or go totally wireless. With some seriously good battery life too these are the perfect Christmas gift for musos everywhere.


For You





For a little treat for yourself what about this gorgeous lingerie set from Knicker Locker by B.Tempt'd? This beautiful B.Provocative bralette in a soft shape is made with dramatic black lace, and the back features a decorative lace racerback style and adjustable straps. The pants have more black pretty lace as well as a gorgeous nude fabric with an opalescent finish. 

The B.Tempt'd range to designed to entice young-minded women with sexy, sophisticated styles from cup sizes A to E. Their bras create a natural uplifting shape whilst giving you the support and body confidence you want.



For your boyfriend or husband


The datAshur Pro USB 3.0 flash drive is a great present for those that love their computers. Perfect for backing up your photos, images and documents, it's an affordable way of ensuring everything is backed up and you won't lose it. It has secure PIN authentication, with real-time military-grade hardware encryption.  
No software or drivers are needed and for extra security, it had an unattended auto-lock feature too. 

You can even have it laser etched for personalisation. The datAshur Pro delivers drag and drop encryption, plug and play simplicity and can be used with any software.

So here is my Christmas gift guide 2018 and here is a brilliant competition! One of my lucky readers will win all the prize above worth approximately £355. Thanks to these brands who have given one prize each for the prize bundle. If you like the prize you have an option of entering daily through Rafflecopter. While you are here don't forget to check out the other competitions I have running too. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Terms and Conditions 

You must be 18 + to enter.
Open to entrants in the UK only.
The winner will be contacted within 7 days of the competition ending.
No cash alternative is available.
If I do not hear from the winner within 28 days I reserve the right to redraw
The brands will endeavour to get your prizes to you by Christmas Eve, however, this is not guaranteed so please allow 4 weeks for delivery 
Closing date 2nd December 2018 midnight
Good Luck!
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Must-Read Tips On Boosting Your Homes Value

If you are thinking about putting your home on the market in the near future, you will want to attract the highest offer possible. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some useful tips on boosting your property’s value.

Six cheap fixes that can add value to your home



You don’t have to add an extension or invest in a stunning new kitchen to add value to your home. You can make your pennies go further and increase your home’s value with these cheap and simple upgrades.
  1. Improve kerb appeal – People notice the exterior of your home first. This is your chance to wow your viewers. First impressions count!
  2. Replace old and dated radiators - Nothing makes a room look more dated than old-fashioned radiators, especially in your bathroom. Head to OnlyRadiators.co.uk for some inspiration. Heated towel rails are a good option because they create a warm and homely feel in the bathroom.
  3. Let there be light – One of the easiest and most effective ways of increasing your home’s value is to ensure it is lit properly. Let as much natural light into the home as possible and ensure all lights are fitted with the correct bulbs. Consider daylight bulbs for a natural light in a dark room. This will really open up the space and make your property look bigger.
  4. Give your kitchen a face-lift – You don’t have to buy new kitchen cupboards, simply fitting new doors can make a big difference and adding new accessories, like a new kettle and toaster can make the kitchen look fresh again. Top it all off with a lick of paint and you are done.
  5. Declutter – De-clutter your spaces! You want to show the buyer how much room they are going to have for all of their things.
  6. Re-frame entry – Similarly to the first point, your front door gives you the chance to start off on the right foot! Re-paint it and buy a new doorknob to make it look as good as new!

Are your photographs showing your home to its best potential?


If you are marketing your home yourself you need excellent photos. For some real estate photography tips check out this useful article to avoid some of the common mistakes made. Your photos and your main photo especially make your first impression on buyers. These photos should make them want to view your property. You need to make a great impression if you expect to create interest. How can you expect people to be interested in your property if the photos look poorly angled, and are badly lit? You will be doing your home a disservice and making it look like it is worth much less than it is.

If you are marketing your home through an estate agent, it is likely they will take the photos for you. Instead, why not hire a professional! photographer? This is a great way to ensure your photographs show your property to full effect. Professionals take the time to get every shot right. They know what works and what doesn’t. They know how to use lighting to full effect and take their photographs from the best angles. They will also help your property to have a lifestyle element with different props. On the other hand, an estate agent will literally walk into the entrance of a room, take a photograph, repeat the process and then leave.

Can you add too much value to your home?



If you are looking to sell your property down the line you really need to think about the improvements you make. Sadly, the sky is not the limit when it comes to increasing your home’s worth. So, before you add an extension, install countertops, add a conservatory and an extra bedroom, invest in double-glazing and basically remodel your entire home you need to ask yourself, where you draw the line.

All of the suggestions mentioned are great ways of improving your home and making it comfortable for you. Yet, if you over-improve your property you may find that you don't get the value back of the money you spend on it. You may have spent thousands on home improvements but realistically you may not get that back in increased value

You need to take a look at the estate you live on and the other properties situated there. What are they worth? Check properties online - historic prices can be seen on Zoopla or Right Move. If all homes seem to be in a certain price band, you have to wonder if someone with a higher budget is really going to want to buy in your area.

You have to determine how far you should go with improvements so they are worth it. 

* Collaborative post

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Friday, 9 November 2018

The History Of Bangles And Bracelets

Bracelets and bangles have been worn for centuries to adorn people and bring attention to their wrists and hands. The difference being that bangles are rigid and bracelets are flexible being made of an ornamental band, loop or chain.

It was thought for years that the Egyptians invented the bracelet, being crafted from stone, bone and wood but the history of wristwear goes back further, and in 2008 a collection of jewellery was found in a cave in Siberia which included a green stone bracelet carbon dated to be 40,000 years old.

Bangles and bracelets have been found in many civilisations including ancient Mayan, Roman, Indian and Mauryan ruins and have been worn by many cultural groups for different reasons. 


In China bangles and bracelets made from jade have been given to children from their parents for years as jade is thought to protect them. The ancient Chinese also valued bracelets with intricate carvings of animals and nature. 

In Indian culture, different types of bangles are worn depending on the area, but it is common to see a new bride wearing glass bangles at her wedding, the traditional view is that the honeymoon will end when the last bangle breaks. Gold bangles are also coveted in Indian culture and are a sign of wealth and prosperity.

Bracelets and bangles today are more popular than ever with the mass production of fashion led pieces made of cheap materials, however, gold and silver bracelets are still hugely valued and adored.



Two popular designs today, that are still going strong, are friendship bracelets and charm bracelets. Friendship bracelets are a decorative symbol of a friendship given by one person to another, traditionally made of thread or a textile material. There are various styles and patterns, but most are based on the same simple half-hitch knotCharm bracelets have symbols or good luck charms attached to personalise the bracelet, traditionally to ward off evil and bring luck and prosperity. 

My collection

I personally like the charm bracelet design and have a charm bracelet by Thomas Sabo as well as two charm bead bracelets by Pandora and Lovelinks.  Although they have been around for thousands of years charm bracelets were made popular by Queen Victoria in the 1880's.  As gold is so expensive these days, the most popular type of charm bracelets today are made of silver. 




What I like about charm bracelets or charm bead bracelets is the ability to personalise the bracelet and tell a story through them - your story. 

Of course, some of the charms are purely decorative, like the starfish which I thought had a lovely texture, but the cocktail glass was from my son on my 40th birthday, and the lucky clover charm was a gift to bring me luck as I like entering competitions.  I bought myself the Las Vegas charm when I was in 'sin city', whilst the M was from my husband on my birthday. That is the great thing with charm bracelets, if you have one, people can easily think of a charm to get you on special occasions and you can decorate it with charms that reflect your life, your loves and your passions.



My Pandora charm bracelet is purely decorative. I wear blue a lot and love a little sparkle. It's not a full bracelet, and I like wearing it with only that amount of charms, however, I also have space to expand it in the future as I see charms I like. My son bought one of the heart charms for Mother's Day for me and the other heart charm was bought by my husband.


My new bracelet is a smart and stylish bracelet gifted from Joshua James Jewellery. I wanted a classic bracelet that I could wear on a daily basis but also that could be worn out in the evening. Made of sterling silver, the loop design is a modern classic and the adjustable chain means it fits a range of wrist sizes. I also think this bracelet will work well in layers with my other silver bracelets. 

Joshua James Jewellery offers worldwide delivery with free delivery in the UK. With a range of classic wedding rings and watches as well as fashion brands like Nomination, Hot Diamonds and Trollbeads, it's a jewellers that is well known and trusted in the UK.

Tell me, do you have an item of wristwear that you covet? What do you think of my bracelets?

*Collaborative post

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Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Top Tips For A Stress Free Wedding Day

Weddings preparations can be really stressful in the run-up to the big day and the last thing you want is stress on your wedding day as well. There is so much to do and prepare as you approach the day but on the day you want it all to run as smoothly as possible. Here are some top tips on how you can have a stress free wedding day.

Delegate tasks


A maid of honour and best man are there to help you so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need to. If certain things need doing on the day, kindly ask them if they will be able to take charge so you can focus on the more important part of the day - marrying the person you love!

It doesn’t just have to be your best man or maid of honour either. I’m sure if you asked your immediate family for a little bit of support on the big day, they would be more than happy to help.

Get some relaxation time before the ceremony


Whether you choose to do it on the evening before or on the morning of the big day, you need to make sure you give yourself some relaxation time to just chill and not think about anything for a while. Many brides tend to treat themselves to the use of a spa in the run-up to their wedding so this may be an option for you. Choose a decent hotel with spa such as the Bedford Lodge Hotel - they have a 5 Bubble rated spa with a spacious hydrotherapy pool, rooftop hot tub, beautiful treatment rooms and a private rasul - blissful!

Hire recommended suppliers in advance


We’ve all heard those horror stories of people who’ve been let down by suppliers with days to go until their wedding. Ensure the same thing doesn’t happen to you by properly researching potential suppliers and taking on board recommendations and reviews. Hiring reputable people that you know will deliver on the job will certainly take away some of the stress of your wedding day.

Don’t forget to eat


One of the worst things to do on your wedding day is to not eat but so many brides don’t. Ensure you have some good food before the wedding itself - then, later on, you can graze if you don't have much of an appetite. A healthy breakfast of fruit, yoghurt and wholewheat toast will give you the energy for the rest of the day.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

So something went wrong - this stuff happens. However, the things that go wrong are often only noticed by the bride. Try not to sweat the small stuff - it may be easier said than done but try and let it go. Life isn't perfect and often wedding days aren't either. Relish the things that did go wrong and try and enjoy the day.

What did you do to ensure you had a stress free wedding day? 

*Collaborative post


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Beech Hill Hotel And Spa Lake Windermere Review

The Beech Hill Hotel and Spa is a boutique four-star hotel on Lake Windermere. We were invited recently to visit the hotel and report back to my readers on our experience. 

It was a long drive from South Wales, but we welcomed the change of scene and stopped in Liverpool along the way. The area around the hotel is beautiful. and just as Mr W said, 'shall we stop here to take a photo?' we came across the hotel!



We parked our car in the large car park and then went to check in. From the road, the hotel didn't look as grand as it was inside.



Beautifully decorated with lovely furnishings and a magnificent chandelier, we were both impressed. 




Although the room was not quite ready as we were early, we didn't mind as it was a lovely sunny day, so we sat outside and took in the wonderful view. 





We took some photos and then I ordered some lunch and sat with Marcus talking to other guests.  The egg mayonnaise baguette was crusty and super fresh, served with coleslaw and crisps, it was enough to share.



One elderly lady had come here from Blackpool by taxi and was impressed with the view. Another lady said it was her first time year and couldn't believe how peaceful it was.

The Room



Before long our room was ready and we were on the second floor. Our room was a 'select' room, a little bigger than a standard size but with a lake view. There are 57 different rooms from suites to family rooms. The decor was modern with an impressive leather headboard, beech looking wooden furniture and a wall mounted flat screen TV.



The chocolates on the bed were a lovely little touch.

There were two large mirrors in the room which I was pleased about as Mr W always hogs one, as well as an illuminated mirror in the bathroom. The room was in good condition, the carpet actually looked new although there was the odd scuff on the furniture.



The bathroom was spotless, with large white tiles on the walls and black tiles on the floor. 



There was a bath and over the bath shower. Toiletries were Gilchrist and Soames which smelt amazing.


A tea making tray was set up in the room, always a nice touch and expected in a luxury hotel. The room also had free Wi-Fi, although it was a little spotty on times but fine to check your emails. The room also had two chairs and a little table, right by the window and perfect for the lake view. A desk was also a useful addition. 



The view was to die for!

Dinner


Dinner was at the Burlington restaurant. The restaurant under the management of head chef Lukasz, specialises in French and English cuisine, using local seasonal produce.  The restaurant holds AA rosettes and prides itself on its attentive but unobtrusive service. 




The menu has new dishes on a regular basis and has some excellent set courses.


As we sat down we were given a menu. Now although Mr W isn't a vegetarian he doesn't eat fish, seafood and most red meat so I noticed on the website they had a vegetarian menu and asked for that, and they were happy to oblige.

The menu options sounded good. Mr W being contrary, did decide to go for the chicken in the end but asked for it without mushrooms and they were happy to accommodate him.



Before our starters came they brought us bread. The bread was warm and came with salted butter, oil and balsamic vinegar. It tasted good but I thought it could have been a little fresher.






It wasn't long before our starters came. Both starters were well presented, and my ox cheek especially looked very appetising. The soup was well seasoned and had a good flavour whilst the ox cheek was tender and the apple sauce added a nice sweetness, with the cubes of crackling and a julienne of vegetables added a nice crunch. A very good starter indeed.





Once the starters were cleared, we waited a short while for our main courses.  Again when they came the presentation was excellent. Mr W's chicken was part boned and served with dauphinoise potatoes and carrots with a light jus. My sea bass was on a bed of roasted potatoes and pea puree. The potatoes were roasted well and the pea puree added some lightness to the dish.



For dessert, we both ordered Tart Tatin. Tart Tatin is made traditionally in a cast iron pan, and it can be hard to get the caramel right without burning the sugar. This Tart Tatin was very good indeed, the caramel did not taste bitter and the vanilla ice cream was rich and added a lovely vanilla flavour. 

Breakfast



The next morning breakfast was served in the same dining room.  Unfortunately, it was misty and raining or we would have had a lovely view over Lake Windermere again.


There was a menu where you could order food cooked to order, such as porridge and a vegetarian breakfast. There was also a decent buffet which included fresh fruit, croissants, cereals and a hot buffet breakfast with bacon, sausages, mushrooms, black pudding, beans and grilled tomatoes.

We helped ourselves to the buffet. The restaurant was busy this morning. The fruit was good, not tinned, although the juice wasn't fresh juice. We ordered tea and coffee and it was brought over quickly as well as freshly made toast. I asked for soya milk, and they had some which I was pleased about.

The Spa


We had a peek at the Lakeview Spa and pool and it looked really lovely. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to take a dip in the undercover swimming pool or the hot tub with a view of Lake Windermere. 

The spa treatments were Elemis and included manicures, pedicures, massages and all the usual treatments you would expect. 

Having a spa in a hotel like this is a big bonus and if we return we will definitely use the facilities. 

Overall we liked the Beech Hill Hotel and Spa. The public areas are very nice and have a classy, luxury feel, the food in the Burlington restaurant was very good indeed and the lake view and position is hard to beat. Having the added bonus of a pool and spa is also a big plus point. We will return if we are ever in the area. Recommended. 

The Beech Hill Hotel & Spa
Newby Bridge Road,
Windermere,
Cumbria.
LA23 3LR

Tel 0333 444 6835

https://beechhillhotel.co.uk/

*We were given a complimentary stay in return for a review, all opinions are our own
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