Friday, 21 September 2018

10 Tips For Creating Your Dream Interior

Are you looking to finally have your dream home interior? Well, you have come to the right article because here is a list of the top ten things you need to do to get the home interior that is the envy of your friends and family. 

1. Plan out each room 





Before you purchase any furniture or accessories, get design ideas that fit your interest look online and in the latest design magazines and you will discover looks you likely never considered. Pay attention to how colour and space is used in a room and how artwork is introduced. The perfect interior will have great balance and use of the different design pieces. The more you study, the more you will come to understand how to put a room together. And of course, you can always hire a professional interior designed to help you realize your vision.

2. Pick the right floor covering 




Your floor coverings can set the tone for your entire interior design so take your time and select floor coverings that give you just the right look and feel. There are several good ones to select from that feature wildly different price points and have varying characteristics. Most will require that you make a compromise either in price or durability. Perhaps the best popular floor covering is laminate flooring. With its versatility, durability, beauty and price, it can’t be beaten. Companies like Floorsdirectltd.co.uk/laminate-flooring.html sell the widest variety of laminate flooring at prices that are only 10% of the price of hardwood flooring and it is much more durable.

3. The walls are part of your design




Take time and decide what to do with the walls of your home, knowing that they can play a big part in creating a beautiful interior. There are so many wall coverings choices right now. In addition to traditional paints in every shade, you can get all types of papers from flat to textured. The different options can play off of or against furniture and flooring in your home. Consider using different styles in each room that create warmer and more elegant looks throughout.

4. Purchase timeless, not trendy



There is a tendency to buy furniture and floor coverings that fit the hottest trends. The problem is that once these trends shift you are left with big item purchases that look dated. Instead, buy timeless pieces and accessorize them with less expensive trendy pieces. You can buy great looking trendy art and other easy to change pieces. When trends change you can change them and still use your expensive furniture pieces.

5. Buy one signature piece for each room


Many homeowners feel that a room needs to be stuffed with great things but the result is often too much in one space and even though the space may contain great pieces, none stand out. A better approach is to find one great piece and make it the centre of a particular room. In a living room, this might be a majestic looking couch or armoire. In a bedroom, this might be a large and ornate four post bed. Use the other pieces of furniture to highlight this one piece and it will draw attention to it.

6. Don’t overlook the lighting



Lighting is often overlooked in interior design because it is often not noticed unless it is overbearing. But today lighting design has become an art form and there are many wonderful approaches to lighting that can even put the fixtures squarely at the centre of your interior design. You can use the different types of lighting to create different moods in each and in different areas of the same room. Use lighting to highlight different pieces of furniture, art and even the shape of a room or hallway.

7. Your accessories matter



There is nothing worse than a beautiful room with no accessories. When this occurs, the room always looks incomplete. Artwork, racks, pillows, memorabilia, figurines and other pieces placed strategically around your interior show character and make the place look lived in. Be generous with these and each room will come alive.

8. Create a flow


Your interior should have a flow when it is completed with one room flowing into the net almost like waves in the ocean. This does not mean that every room should look the same, but you can incorporate common elements that pay a homage to other rooms in your home. Think about using drapes or even lighting for this purpose. The effect will be dramatic and memorable.

9. Buy out of season


No matter how much money you have, you still need to be price conscious when you purchase things for your dream interior. If you buy furniture, wall coverings and even art out of season, you can save more than 50% on some items. Get into this habit and also consider buying things one season behind. Very few people will actually notice and you may not be the first in your circle to have it, but you will save lots of money and still have your dream interior.

10. Think comfort over style


Remember that when all is said and done, you and your family will have to live in your home, so do not create a beautiful showplace that is too uncomfortable to live in. If you want to have a museum type home but have small children this is probably unrealistic. Modify your ideas to accommodate who the interior must serve. This will affect the fabrics you choose, the types of accessories you buy and style of furniture you select. You may have to make some compromises but you will be much happier in the end.

In the end, when you are creating your dream interior, the key is to take some chances and have fun with it. Like every other renovation project, it will take some patience before you get it perfect.

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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Tip For Travellers With Mobility Issues

If you have mobility issues or are travelling with someone who has problems walking it can be really difficult to get around in an unfamiliar place. There are so many things to take into consideration.  

Every person is unique but there are similar issues that you may come across if you have mobility issues, whether you are in a wheelchair, walk with a stick or have crutches.  You may also have complex needs and other health issues to take into consideration too.

Here are some tips for what you need to take into consideration when travelling with mobility issues.

Plan ahead as much as you can



The more you research the more you can find out about the accessible routes into a city, town or village. 

Even some of the ancient tourist sites are accessible. Herculaneum's ruins are accessible for example when Pompei's attractions are not. Travel writer and author John Sage says that avoiding hills in Paris and bridges in Venice is possible. So do your research in advance.

Ask for help if flying 

Many airports have a designated department to assist people and can help you through security or provide a wheelchair assistance.  If you are travelling with someone who has a mental impairment such as severe autism or ADHD then they may also be able to provide you with help too. They can also help you if you are travelling with service animals, such as guide dogs.

Check out accessible hotels



Look for modern hotels when booking your accommodation. They are more than likely to have ramps, lifts and accessible rooms. Many countries have laws and regulations that all new hotels have to be accessible. Older hotels are less likely to have these features, especially in towns that have old historic buildings and architecture, where changes to the structure are not allowed. Check out the hotel websites too as some will have an accessibility page on there.

Look for a tour route that is suitable.

Look for tours that suit your needs. If you have walking difficulties, some tours that are flat or have a route that doesn't go on cobblestones or up large hills.  If you are hard of hearing some companies may have guides that know sign language. If there is no information on the website, email and ask them for a plan of the route they are following, check if they have accessible toilets along the route, that the streets are not cobblestone, that there isn't a steep incline, that there are ramps you can use if mobility is a problem.

Invest in a good guide book

Books such as the Rough Guide To Accessible Britain and Lonely Planet Accessible Melbourne can be a lifesaver when planning a trip. Check out the guidebooks in your local bookstore or on Amazon.

Check out tourist information offices



They should be able to give you information on accessible hotels and accessible cafes and restaurants. Some towns have mobility scooter rentals or places you can hire a wheelchair if you have mobility problems but don't normally use a wheelchair. 

YouTube guides and blogs

YouTube is a great source of information. Look for tours of the area and attractions you are visiting to see how accessible it is. Some boats and cruise ships may be great if you are in a wheelchair but others not so much.

Blogs are a brilliant source of information too.  Blogs such as Curb Free with Cory Lee can be a lifesaver for people with disability issues and it's always good to read personal recommendations of how someone with mobility issues travels.

Museums

Many of the bigger museums will have tours suitable for the deaf and the hard of hearing and may employ guides that are trained in British Sign Language. There may also be braille guides or large print guides available if you are visually impaired or blind.

Medical Insurance

If you have disabilities you may have complex needs and need specialist medical insurance. I would say to everyone, whether you have disabilities, medical issues or are perfectly healthy, be sure to get the best travel insurance for your needs as you never know when you may have to use it. 

I hope you enjoyed this post and it was helpful to you. For more information, check out this government advice guide on foreign travel for disabled people

*Collaborative post


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Monday, 17 September 2018

My Pet Story

Dogs are amazing pets. They are loyal, loving and non-judgmental, which is more than I can say for most people, and the benefits of having a dog are well documented. The PDSA say that looking after a dog can keep you physically healthy, and can improve your mental well-being for example and much research have proven this. 



My first dog was a cocker spaniel, Rusty. I adored this little dog and I was only little when my dad told me it had run away. It broke my heart. He actually found the dog a new home, not sure why to this day he told me it had run away but that was dad logic in the 1970s! I think he was concerned that it was not getting enough exercise. It looked like this cute puppy above, but we don't have any photos of her I'm afraid.

Fast forward 20 years on, and my next dog was Ben. He was a Collie cross. My ex-husband worked in an old peoples' home and one day an old lady was admitted who had no one to look after her dog. This is when my ex-husband came home and said 'I have a surprise for you' and Ben came running in. Before long we were looking after Ben permanently as the old lady needed full-time care and had to stay at the home.



Ben was a big softy and looked like Lassie. He would come for cuddles and would put his head on my lap looking to be stroked. If I was there watching TV, he would nudge my hand so I could stoke him. He was very protective and loyal, a typical Collie. I remember walking him around the area I lived through the park and then taking him off the leash and throwing a ball for him to catch. Although Ben had lived with the old lady for a couple of years, she had found him in a dogs home and Ben was not without his behaviour problems, and sadly we think he has been hit in the past. Unfortunately, his behaviours became an issue when I had my son Jake.

When Jake came along, Ben started getting jealous of any attention I gave to Jake and not him. One day when my neighbour's two-year-old child was in the house, Ben went for her and took a nip at her. Luckily she was ok but she had a red mark on her face. I was mortified and couldn't apologise enough! Of course, we couldn't take any chances when Jake was so tiny, so we asked my mother-in-law to look after Ben for a while instead.  We saw Ben every week until he became ill with cancer and sadly died. Ben was a loving dog, his past, unfortunately, was a big cause of his behaviour issues. 

Fast forward to today and I am married to Marcus or Mr W as I call him. As we travel a lot, and Jake has been away at university for the past three years we don't have a dog, but I miss not having one.  This led us to recently trying housesitting. Housesitting is where you look after someone's house, and very often their pets too when they are away. There are a number of sites you can register to do house sitting on and mostly this is an exchange of services. You look after the house and pets for free accommodation, the owners know their house is safe and they pets are fed and well looked after. It's a way to travel the world for free and also have the benefit of looking after pets too.



Our first house sit was in a beautiful listed house in the Cotswolds. We were warmly welcomed by the owners who were incredibly laid back. Help yourself to the food they said! When we turned up, there was even a bottle of wine waiting for us. The dogs were brilliant too. A gorgeous Sprocker spaniel called Nellie and an older chocolate labrador called Meg.  


Our day would involve getting up and feeding the dogs, letting them out to go to the toilet and then gave them a long walk morning and night. While we were there we toured the immediate area and saw some of the Cotswolds which is beautiful. 


We loved looking after Meg and Nellie, however, it was not without incident,  Nellie was an incredibly active dog and would chew everything in sight but we had been warned about this by her owners. One day I was looking for my hairbrush everywhere and couldn't find it, then I saw Nellie with it in her mouth, wagging her tail! She also had a habit of wriggling under the fence in her garden, I almost had a heart attack when I thought I had lost her. Again the owner warned me she would do this but always comes back. Nellie was a right pickle! 

We would definitely housesit again as we loved looking after the dogs so much. You can choose which animals you are comfortable looking after. Check out Trusted Housesitters and other sites if you are considering house sitting. 

So this is my pet story. Petplan want to hear your Pet Stories too, so whether it is a recovery from illness or just their day to day mischief share your story on Petplan’s Facebook or Instagram using #PethoodStories and check out Petplan Pet Insurance for peace of mind. 

*This post is in conjunction with Petplan but all thoughts are my own
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Wednesday, 12 September 2018

20 Ways to Stay Safe Whilst On Vacation

We go on vacation for various reasons, - to experience a new place, a new country, a new culture, to unwind, to relax, to learn something new and so much more. However, safety is not always high on our priority list when we travel, so keen we are to get out and explore. 



We may be conscious of our safety in our familiar hometown but when we are in unfamiliar situations we often let our guard down and this means we can put ourselves at risk. So this is my 20 ways to stay safe when on vacation. 


1. Always tell people where you are going and when you are coming back. A simple safety tip that is often overlooked. If anything happens, God forbid, they can alert the authorities. 

2. Be alert to your environment, especially in busy areas, tourist hotspots and areas of high crime. Major tourist attractions are often populated with pickpockets. I was almost scammed in front of the Louvre art gallery in Paris by a couple who said I had dropped a gold ring. Be careful!

3. Ensure you have the address of the accommodation you are staying at written down, in English and the native language. This is especially useful where you are staying in areas where English isn't the first language, so you can show people when asking for directions or taxi drivers.

4. Don't take expensive jewellery, and be wary of wearing expensive branded clothing, as this can make obvious your wealth. You don't want to be an easy target for robbers.

5. Be wary of posting publically on social media when you are away, especially if there is no one in your home. You can always post when you come back if you want to share your photos.




6. Only use a secure internet connection and if you have to use a public computer, never use it for Internet banking. Try not to log into accounts but if you have to always log out after. You don't want scammers or opportunists accessing your email account! If you have to buy tours or theatre tickets, for example, ensure the site has HTTPS at the beginning, not HTTP as this shows it is secure. 

7. Don't carry too much cash around, and if you have a handbag wear it across your body to keep it close to you and help avoid your bag being snatched.  Consider a money belt in areas of high crime, and if you have your purse or wallet in your pocket, put it in your front jeans pocket that is tight, or an internal zipped compartment. 

8. Your guard is often let down when you drink so be extremly cautious if someone you don't know tries to buy you a drink, watch your drink to ensure it is not spiked and never leave your drink unattended. If you are drinking from a bottle, put your thumb over the top and place your hand over your glass of wine or cocktail. 

9. Look up the area you are going before you get there. I always plan the route of Google maps but also check you are not travelling through a no-go area by asking at your hotel or checking on the Internet. Using an old-fashioned map or guidebook when out and about can alert people that you are a tourist, so be careful if doing this, especially in shady areas.

10. If you are not sure if the water is safe then drink bottled water and avoid foods washed in the local water like salads. Avoid buffets where food has been sitting around and possibly contaminated by others and always eat where food is freshly cooked and establishments that pay attention to food hygiene.




11. Having sunburn and sunstroke is not fun! Take sun precautions like wearing a hat, wearing sunglasses and covering up at the hottest part of the day, usually between 11am and 2pm.  Apply sun cream on a regular basis and always reapply after swimming even if it says its waterproof as towel drying will remove the protection.  Make sure you drink plenty especially in the heat.

12. Vaccinations are vitally important to keep you safe when visiting certain areas of the world, so check out the NHS website for vaccination requirements or your local health provider. Some vaccinations you may get free whilst others you may have to pay for but are considered essential in certain areas. If you are going to areas of risk you can order anti-malarial tablets online from a company such as Click Pharmacy if you can't get to your local pharmacy too, so don't forget that.

13. Put together a comprehensive first aid kit for travelling abroad, and tailor it to each trip. It should include items like painkillers, antiseptic, plasters, antihistamines, insect repellant, anti-diarrheal medication and more. Check out this article by the NHS on what you should pack in a travel first aid kit

14. Be careful when using taxis, and never get into unmarked cars. If using Uber or Lyft ensure you double check the description of the car and the name of the driver. You could always ask your hotel to call a taxi for you, or if you can't hail a cab go to a nearby hotel so they can do it for you. 

15. Ensure you buy travel insurance and get the best you can afford. Travel insurance is so essential and doesn't have to be costly. If you travel a lot, an annual insurance will be worth the cost. Check out this article by Money Saving Expert on how to by travel insurance.

16. Dress appropriately for the environment and culture. If you are a woman, unfortunately how you dress can make you a target for unwanted attention, so it makes sense to dress conservatively. 




17. Consider carrying a rape alarm, which is especially important if you are a solo traveller and walk with confidence, which can help you be less of a target. If you look like you can handle yourself, you will be less likely to be picked on. If you are walking alone, follow a couple if possible. If you think you are being followed go to a hotel or busy area and seek help. 

18. Take photos of all your documents including your passport and driving licence and put them in a secure place such as an encrypted Dropbox environment you can access online. 

19. Always lock your windows and doors, buy a TSA approved lock for your case and buy a lock for your backpack. If your hotel has a safe use that and hide items away when you leave the room.

20. Lastly, if something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't, so get out of there, fast.

At the end of the day, millions of us travel every year without any incident, so keep your wits about you and I hope you have a safe trip!

Tell me, do you use any of these tips? Do you have any ways you stay safe whilst on vacation? 

*Collaborative post
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Monday, 10 September 2018

How To Spend 48 hours In Tavira Portugal

Today I have a guest post from Cath from the blog Battle Mum. Cath is a family, lifestyle and travel blogger that now lives in Portugal. 

Tavira is a town located in the eastern Algarve, Portugal, approximately 30 minutes from Faro, the region’s airport. A very traditional town, Tavira is popular with tourists seeking to escape the western Algarve towns synonymous with younger British tourists such as Albufeira and Vilamoura. Lying on the Gilão River, it’s a beautiful little town to visit, and here’s how to spend 48 hours in Tavira.

48 hours in Tavira - Arrival



Upon arrival in Tavira, check into your accommodation at 3pm after arriving either by car, taxi or public transport. After freshening up, I would suggest making your way to the Roman Bridge where you can start exploring the town.

During peak seasons a small guided tour of Tavira can be accessed via the Delgaturis Train. This small train takes you around Tavira town, stopping at the castle for a few minutes for you to visit inside. There is a narrative guide in English, as well as other languages, to tell you about some of the points of interest around the town. The full tour takes approximately 50 minutes and is worth it.

Should the train not be running, I would suggest following the signs for the castle from the main square of Tavira. It is a short 10 to 15-minute walk to the castle, but it is mostly uphill. The castle is not very big but has some beautiful gardens, especially in the springtime or summer. And the views of Tavira rooftops from the balcony to the side of the castle are lovely. Close to the castle are excavations which can be viewed street-side. Just a little further up from the castle is an old water tower, from which you get a better view of Tavira.




After visiting the castle, walk back down towards to the Praça da República, the main square and, if it is open, pop into the Igreja da Misericórdia Church. It is a beautiful old church, one of over 30 in Tavira town alone. There is a small museum off a side door of the church if you like history.




Head back to your accommodation and get ready to head out for dinner. There are numerous places within Tavira to eat, ranging from traditional Portuguese restaurants to French, Indian and Pizza. But if you are in the Algarve you should at least try Piri Piri chicken, which is an Algarve speciality. Most general-type restaurants will serve it but for the best, you need to head out of town, along the EN-125, to Xhicken Piri Piri. You can drive your car or get a taxi. The chicken is our favourite dish alongside pork ribs and the bacalhau, a traditional Portuguese dish of dried, salted cod. Sounds a bit strange but the cod is soaked for 24 hours before being cooked. Each chef has his own take on bacalhau and you should try it at least once.

48 hours in Tavira – A full day



After, hopefully, a restful night’s sleep, you can opt for breakfast at your hotel. Or alternatively, why not head down to the Praça da República square and visit the Pastelaria Veneza for a croissant and coffee or a Tosta Mista (ham and cheese toasty). According to my husband, nothing beats Portuguese coffee. I’m not a fan and always have a black tea (chá preto in Portuguese). If you’d like an Americano coffee, impress the waiter or waitress by saying “Um abatanado por favour”. It will come black, so remember to ask for “um pouco de leite”.

Once you are suitably fuelled, why not take one of the ferries over to Ilha de Tavira, the beaches of Tavira which are part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. The summer service runs from the centre of Tavira, not far from the municipal market, which you should try and visit while in the town. The all-year service runs from the Cais das Quatro Águas pier, located 2km from the centre of town. The ferry is not expensive, a return journey will cost around €2 per person. There are also water taxis which can take you across, but these cost considerably more.

You can enjoy a walk along the beach or sunbathe. There is a lifeguard on duty during the summer months, during which time the beach is popular with holidaymakers. Be warned though, you need to catch an early ferry as the later you leave it, the longer the queues will be to make the trip across. There are a few restaurants located on Ilha de Tavira should you wish to have lunch before heading back to town.

After making your way back to Tavira, and with time to kill before dinner, why enjoy a walk through the cobbled streets or enjoy some time in the small park off the Praça da República. There is a band-stand in the centre which is surrounded by water in which you will see a small family of terrapins.

You could also try and catch a fado, a traditional Portuguese concert, in the Fado Com História, which is located beside the Misericórdia Church. There is one female fado singer, Sara Gonçalves, who has the most amazing voice, and she often sings at the Fado Com História. If you are lucky enough to catch a concert with her, you won’t be disappointed.



The perfect way to end a busy day is to have dinner at O Castelo, an outdoor restaurant just up the road from the Praça da República. This restaurant can get busy, especially at weekends and during the summer, so if you plan to try and visit it, ask your hotel to book the evening before. It is not a cheap eat compared to some other restaurants, but the food and service is excellent, and the ambience on warmer evenings is worth it.

48 hours in Tavira – Departure

Before leaving Tavira, you should take a walk across the Roman Bridge and wander through some of the smaller streets. The houses are very traditional in Tavira and you’ll find many with Instagram-worthy tiled fronts and doors. And why not return to Pastelaria Veneza for one last coffee and a pastel de nata, the traditional Portuguese egg tart. They have become somewhat of an addiction for me since moving to Portugal.

How to get to Tavira

The nearest airport to Tavira is Faro. All the major budget airlines fly from the UK and Ireland to Faro including EasyJet, Ryanair and Aer Lingus. Many of the holiday carriers also fly to Faro. If you’d like to combine a visit to Tavira with Lisbon, the Portuguese airline TAP have at least four daily flights direct from Faro to Lisbon.

To reach Tavira from Faro Airport you have a number of options. You can hire a car from one of the many companies located just outside the arrivals hall and across the short stay car park. Companies like Hertz, Avis and Europcar are available to hire cars from. There is also a large taxi rank at the arrivals hall should you wish to hop in a taxi. It takes approximately 30 minutes to Tavira and can cost anywhere between €50-60. Uber is also an option and is slightly cheaper than the taxis.

If you don’t mind public transport you can get a bus from Faro Airport to Faro Train station and then a train to Tavira. The train you will need will be heading towards Vila Real de Santo Antonio. But be warned, the Portuguese public transport system isn’t the most reliable or frequent, and connections don’t work as efficiently as it does in mainland Europe.

Where to stay in Tavira



There are a number of hotels in Tavira to choose from, depending on your budget. Two higher-end hotels to choose from are the Hotel Vila Galé Albacora, which lies a short distance from Tavira town itself, overlooking the Ria Formosa. You will need transport in order to stay in this hotel. However, the Hotel Vila Galé Tavira is located right in the centre of Tavira, across the road from the Municipal Market and has two swimming pools. There are other hotels in and around Tavira and there is a good self-catering option in Tavira Gardens, located on the edge of town. These are a mixture of residential and holiday apartments.

Cath is an Irish expat who now lives in Portugal with her husband and son. A former scientist, she gave up working when they emigrated south from the UK. She is a family travel and lifestyle blogger and hopes that, through her blog, they will inspire more families to travel, especially with young kids in tow. As a family, they love travelling and have started working their way through their family travel bucket list. Cath writes about their family travels and experiences on her blog Battle Mum. Catch Battle Mum on Instagram too. 

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Sunday, 9 September 2018

Win Parking At Gatwick Or Glasgow With Airport Park And Ride Ends 07/10

Holidays abroad aren't very cheap, and when you factor in the cost of travel insurance, parking and the like, the costs soon add up. An easy way to ensure you get the right price for your parking is using a comparison site like Airport Park and Ride

The ethos of Airport Park and Ride

Airport Park and Ride allow you to search and compare parking at all the best 'Park Mark' awarded airport car parks at major UK airports such as Gatwick, Luton, Glasgow and Edinburgh. 
Airport Park and Ride believe parking should be simple, stress-free and great value for money too. 

So what is the 'Park Mark' award?



Park Mark is an accreditation system that helps ensure the safety and security of your vehicle. Each 'Park Mark' car park has been assessed to ensure they are properly managed and maintained. Security is taken seriously with a variety of features including high perimeter fencing, 24/7 Monitored CCTV, one controlled entrance and one exit via licence plate recognition and keypad. The personal touch is important too and as well as someone always onsite, each car park has regular guard patrols by the security team. I don't know about you, but to me it's brilliant to know that your car won't be parked in a muddy field!



Every car park that is part of the scheme has a Park Mark tick symbol which acts as a quality mark, reassuring customers that their vehicle will be well looked after. 

Why should I book with Aiport Park and Ride?



As well as your car being safe and secure the 'Park Mark' scheme has been shown to be an excellent crime prevention initiative and to reduce vehicle crime, which is good to know! Your car is covered too as they take liability for your car where most airport’s car park are ‘park at your own risk’




Transfers, which are provided are on demand, no waiting around for buses, and the drivers will even help you load your bags on and off the bus. 


All this combined with great value make Airport Park and Ride appear to be a great choice at Gatwick, Luton, Edinburgh or Glasow.


I have a very special discount for my readers today 15% off! 
Add Code : JEWELLERY15, at checkout
The code will be valid to use until the end of 2018 for parking at Glasgow and Gatwick only up to 30th April 2019.

Today on my blog I am also giving you the chance to win two weeks parking at Gatwick or Glasgow with Airport Park and Ride. Entry is easy via the Gleam app below. Why don't you bookmark the page and come back for a daily entry? Whilst you are here check out my other competitions too. Good luck!

Win airport parking for Gatwick or Glasgow
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Friday, 7 September 2018

Popular Charms: What Do They Really Mean?

From butterflies to lockets, to angel wings, there’s no shortage of beautiful charms available. But how much thought do you give to what the accessories in your jewellery box actually represent? The fact is, aside from looking stunning, these sparkling trinkets can say a lot about you.

In their recent infographic ‘What Does Your Charm Bracelet Really Mean?’, jewellery experts Kigu Of London explored the sentiment behind these popular accessories. Check out the meanings below.


Heart


Arguably the most iconic of all jewellery symbols, heart-shaped charms have been used to denote romance, love and passion since the middle ages. When it has an arrow travelling through it, it’s said to symbolise a heart that’s been captured. As well as love, hearts are also associated with truth, guidance, power and life.

Feather

Feather charms have a variety of different meanings. To some, they represent protection, lightness, freedom or truth. For others, they’re used to bring luck. Meanwhile, they’re also linked to angels and used to represent faith and prayer in certain religions.

Butterfly

Butterflies have long been associated with change. After all, these small creatures undergo one of nature’s great transformations turning first from a caterpillar into a chrysalis and then into a delicate butterfly. This makes butterfly charms a great choice for people who are starting something new, whether it’s a career change or moving to a new area. Butterfly jewellery can also represent joy and colour.

Locket

Typically passed down in families between the generations, lockets represent treasured memories. In the past, they often contained small photos or locks of hair. Even though modern designs tend to be miniaturised, they’ve kept their symbolic power.

Angel wings

For many people, angel wings have a strong spiritual meaning. They’re also often used to indicate love and protection, and they can be given a present to show that the recipient has a guardian angel watching down over them.




If you’d like to know more about what particular charms mean, why not take a look at the Kigu of London infographic for yourself?
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Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Is Smart Jewellery The Future of Accessories?

Jewellery has long been considered an accessory piece to spruce up or finish our appearance, however, what if jewellery could do more – like represent our interests or even track your stress levels? It certainly sounds an interesting concept however previous wearables have been bulky and unsightly so what makes smart or tech-inspired jewellery so different? 

Wearing tech-inspired jewellery, whether purposely designed like a ring fashioned out of a circuit board or accessorising using tech – bracelets made from USB cables, for instance, can be a good way to represent your personal interests. It can also make a good talking point when meeting new people acting like a good ice-breaker in certain situations.

Smart jewellery stands to change the face of wearable technology, no longer does smart tech for menswear or womenswear need to be bulky or square, instead, more smart jewellery that is lightweight and unnoticeable is becoming available as smart technology develops. One of the best features of smart jewellery has to be the opportunity to not only look fashionable but offer functionality too.

What Is Smart Jewellery?



You are likely familiar with smartwatches that have been available on the market for a few years now. Smart jewellery is a similar concept but allows for more unique designs than the commonly seen luxury or bulky watches, from bracelets and necklaces, there have even been a few unique ring designs.

Smart jewellery tends to prioritise fitness tracking, which includes active minutes, calories burned, and distance travelled. However, you’ve also got designs that include sleep tracking data, allowing you to see how long you slept and the quality of sleep achieved, in addition to a silent alarm that wakes you up gradually. Women’s jewellery designs have been developed to include fertility and period tracking, which is quite incredible, considering it is a small tracker on your wrist or around your neck.

Possibly the most helpful design feature includes a stress tracker, which uses information based on the amount of exercise completed, the quality of your sleep and the speed and distance details of your most recent journeys to track how likely you are to experience stress during your day. This can be particularly helpful for those trying to avoid stress, allowing individuals to be prepared and take steps to calm down.

NFC-based jewellery is another upcoming type of smart accessory, this smart jewellery allows for you to share information with a quick tap – perfect for conference or exhibition attendees. Compatibility for NFC support includes being able to make payments and unlock or lock compatible locks and devices. When inserted into rings, it can be quite a cool feeling to exchange your contact information with a simple fist bump.

Best Tech-Inspired Jewellery


If smart jewellery isn’t at the top of your wish-list, consider some tech-inspired jewellery to represent your interests. There are plenty of interesting designs available from intriguing mechanical designs including cogs and movable gears on men’s designer bracelets and mini-drone cufflinks. To beautiful pendants and earrings fashioned with keyboard keys or even battery-operated glowing tech symbols.

Some amazing crafty jewellery makers have even incorporated existing technology equipment into their designs, from colourful bracelets made from computer ribbons to belts created by plaiting together unusable or spare USB or ethernet cables.

Jewellery doesn’t just have to be about being fashionable but is a great way to make a statement about your job or personal interests. Whether you go for some subtle cufflinks or bracelet or want to be more outspoken with a necklace or broach. Why not get creative and craft some tech-inspired jewellery yourself? You can even incorporate your unique accessories into a fun activity with friends and family.

As memory cards get ever smaller in size and bigger in capacity, the future of smart jewellery is open to rapid change – we could start seeing mp3 players set into earrings or potentially mobile projectors fitted into bracelets. The always changing future of technology, paired with smart jewellery, will certainly be an exciting industry to watch.

*Collaborative post

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Tuesday, 4 September 2018

How to Make Your Product Photos Really Pop

Whether you are selling jewellery and accessories you make yourself or trying to market other products as part of your online venture, attracting customers with good product information is important. Aside from good and clear product descriptions, you need stunning product photos.


Great product photos can really stop potential customers in their tracks. Stunning photos can even be the deciding factor in the customers’ journey. That is why in this article, we are going to learn how you can produce product photos that really pop
. Let’s get started, shall we?

Clarity Is King

One of the mistakes many still make when producing product photos is stylising the photos too much. I know that it is important to have a signature style and to stay in tune with what the c
ustomers love to see, but you must never forget the basics.

In fact, stylising your product photos too much – by adding multiple filters or altering the colours – isn’t always a good idea. When the colour of the product gets changed in the photos, for example, customers could end up being disappointed.

What you want is a clear and sharp image of your product; a photo that really accentuates the positive features of the product. Add additional photos to reveal different angles and to focus on details of the product to complete the set.

Set the Light

Lighting isn’t something you want to take lightly when producing
 product photos. Any product photographer will tell you just how crucial nailing the lighting setup is when capturing photos of products. The right setup can really make a product shines and look appealing.

The same tip is used in other industries as well. Pay closer attention to food photos used by top restaurants and you will notice similarities in the way those photos use light to make the star dish look incredibly tasty.

In the case of jewellery, a still life photographer can use a lot of light sources, reflectors, blockers, and other tools just to get the shine and the shadows absolutely perfect.

Work with a Pro


Speaking of experienced still life photographers, it is also a good idea to work with a professional in producing stunning product photos. The process of creating product photos that can really make an impact is easier when you work with top names like Howlett Photography. Working as a still life photographer in London, Howlett’s clients include some of the biggest brands in the country which include Pandora and Marks and Spencer. Working with a professional such as this is a lot more effective than you may think.

For starters, you don’t have to worry about losing sales due to bad photos. You can also save on the photography production costs since there will be no reshoots to fix mistakes.

At the same time, you get a lot of value in return. Great product photos aren’t just good for sales. They are also great for boosting the value of your brand. Certain brands are even known for the way they photograph their products, earning them bigger exposure than ever.

It’s all in the details. Making product photos pop and really appealing is about attending to the details, using the right lighting setup, and capturing the photos with complete clarity. At the end of the day, you can simplify the whole process by working with a professional product photographer.


*Guest post
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Monday, 3 September 2018

Biddle and Webb The Friendly Face Of An Auction House

Auction houses are the perfect place to get a great bargain, somewhere to get an amazing deal on a piece of jewellery, to find reasonably priced furniture and to invest in a well-priced work of art. They are also a great place to sell unwanted antique and vintage items that you no longer want or have a home for.

The credentials of an auction house to get a bargain or make you some much-needed cash cannot be questioned but auction houses are often viewed as stuffy, old-fashioned places to go, that you can accidentally buy something you weren't prepared to buy, perhaps by accidentally nodding.  However, auction houses are changing with the times as I found out when I was invited to go behind the scenes at Biddle and Webb auction house in Birmingham recently and are far more welcoming places than I originally thought.


Biddle & Webb Auctioneers are a traditional, family run, public auction house located in the centre of Birmingham. Based in the city for over 60 years, Biddle & Webb has adapted to the changing demographics of the area and with their traditional jewellery, silver, watches, and interiors auctions are now also accompanied by property, vehicles, wine and spirits and commercial auctions.


Over the last two years, they have substantially expanded their jewellery and watches offering, with the opening of a new consignment office in Birmingham’s jewellery hotspot – The Jewellery Quarter, where their in-house qualified gemmologist, Jennifer Pardoe FGA DGA, is based.


I was invited to look around at Biddle and Webb and report back to my readers about the inner workings of an auction house.


When I arrived at Biddle and Webb I was warmly welcomed by the staff, Joyya, and Jennifer.  I was surprised that the staff I met were all young women. They were all extremely knowledgeable and well trained, so I shouldn't have been surprised, but I guess I was surprised because many programmes on TV that portray auction houses seem to feature older men.

Auctions are held on a monthly basis and you can see the up and coming auctions on their website and view the items in advance. 

For the jewellery auction, every item is inspected for hallmarks,  supporting paperwork and certificates are examined and stones like diamonds are tested, so you know you are getting an authentic item of jewellery, that is what it says it is.  I had a look around the jewellery and watches for sale and my top picks of the items for the next sale on Saturday 15th of September are below.


Rings


Opal and diamond cluster ring
Estimate £400 - £600


An early 20th Century diamond dress ring, set with Old European cut, rose cut & baguette cut diamonds, stamped 18 & PT, ring size K
Estimate £800 - £1200


An emerald and diamond cluster ring, set with a central emerald cut emerald, measuring approx. 12x8mm, surrounded by a border of 20 old cut diamonds, set in unmarked white and yellow metal, ring size V
Estimate £1000 - £1500
Watches

A mans 1960s Breitling Navitimer chronograph pilots wrist watch
Estimate £1000 - £1500

A Victorian 18ct yellow gold cased Rotherhams of London open face key wind pocket watch
Estimate £350 - £450

A ladies stainless steel Omega Seamaster Master Co-Axial Aqua Terra wristwatch with mother of pearl dial complete with box and paperwork 
Estimate £2000 - £3000

Other Jewellery

A single stone diamond hinged bangle, set with an old cut diamond, measuring approx. 0.30/0.40ct, in a raised setting, set in unmarked yellow metal
Estimate £300 - £500


A diamond flower design brooch, total diamond weight approx 4.10ct. set with old cut brown and colourless diamonds
Estimate £1500 - £2000

A pair of Tiffany & Co. Peretti diamond starfish stud earrings, each set with sixteen graduated round brilliant cut diamonds, stamped Peretti Tiffany & Co. Spain PT950, housed in a Tiffany & Co. box

How to buy and how to sell


Buying and selling at auction is a simple process but it is different to a retail environment, for full detail
s check out the links. A simple guide to the buying and selling process at Biddle and Webb is below.

You can buy in a number of ways, in person, online and via the telephone. You need to register to do this but this can be done on the day of the auction. A photo ID is needed for this. You can also bid on the auction online live. Public viewing is also available prior to the auction so you can see the items in person if you can make it to Birmingham.

You may wonder if you can buy by mistake. If you are there in the auction house on the day, if you are a new bidder, they will check with you to ensure you meant to place the bid, so don't worry if you think you will bid by mistake. To bid, raise your hand, it's a simple and straight forward way of bidding and then cannot be mistaken.

Selling is open to everyone, from a private seller (like you or me) to a trader or collector. Your item is assessed, photos taken and a condition report written. The item is then listed in their online catalogue. 

There are costs associated with buying or selling, and this differs with the type of item. Typically if you are buying you need to pay a buyers premium on top of the value of the item, of between 15% and 20 % plus VAT. If you are selling an item the cost is typically 16% plus VAT plus a small catalogue fee on top. As fees could change check out the Biddle and Webb website for up-to-date information.



The next jewellery, silver, watches, property and interior auction on Saturday the 15th of September. Why don't you browse one of the catalogues to see if there is anything you like?


I found looking behind the scenes at Biddle and Webb fascinating and it certainly demystified how auction houses work for me.  The only problem is, I saw too many beautiful pieces of jewellery that I now want to bid on! My favourite pieces included the Tiffany earrings below. Set in platinum and studded with diamonds I think they would look exquisite on and really catch the light. Complete with box these would make a beautiful gift perhaps for a birthday, graduation or special anniversary. I will be watching this auction with interest!


If you find the auction process interesting, have a read of the Biddle and Webb blog where they talk about the business and some of the interesting stories behind the items they sell.

Have you ever bid on an auction? Are there any items shown above that have caught your eye?

Biddle & Webb Ltd
Icknield Square,
Birmingham
B16 0PP
United Kingdom

Phone: 0121 455 8042
Fax: 0121 454 9615
Email: info@biddleandwebb.com
Web: www.biddleandwebb.com

* Sponsored post all words and opinions are my own
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