Pearls By Fleur Jewellery

Pearls By Fleur is a pearl company that sell classic and contemporary pearls at budget-friendly and realistic prices. 

Their founder, Louise, fell in love with pearls when she visited the pearl farms in China. Working in fashion styling she realised that the right jewellery really made the outfit and she then noticed the gap in the market for classic and contemporary pearl jewellery that was affordable, and thus Pearls By Fleur was born.

Stunning pearl jewellery beautifully packaged

At the heart of Pearls By Fleur is a love of quality jewellery. The company never compromises on their standards and their attention to detail is obvious, in every piece of jewellery, their packaging and their customer service.

Classic designs

Their range of pearl jewellery is both classic and contemporary. Classic jewellery pieces that every fashion lover has in her jewellery box, such as classic pearl earrings or classic pearl bracelets are featured on their website. 

Contemporary designs

Contemporary jewellery pieces are big, bold or have a designer twist. Stand out pieces include the pearl 'Hug' bracelet from Lucy Q in rose gold vermeil. The pearls are caged in a unique design with the rose gold vermeil chain draped through each section (above top left). Another unusual item of contemporary jewellery is the pearl ring with a water droplet effect, set with blue Swarovski crystals, also by Lucy Q (above bottom left).

The Unity Collection

They are also proud to have a selection of jewellery called The Unity Collection, that is produced by fair trade suppliers using freshwater baroque and coin pearls and 22-carat gold plated metals. Fairtrade suppliers are based in developing countries and the ethos is, that they set their own prices and create fair conditions for their workers. Buying an item of fair trade means you are supporting the lives of these suppliers - something important to do, don't you think?

With a range of gifts from £20, a real person at the end of the phone and a secure shopping website, all you classic girls or high fashionistas out there should really check out the Pearls By Fleur website, if you love affordable pearl jewellery.

Tell me, do you have any pearl jewellery? What do you think of the Pearls By Fleur jewellery featured above? 

* a sponsored post, all words and opinions are my own

How To Work With A Jeweller To Get The Perfect Engagement Ring

If you are looking to get engaged, finding the perfect engagement ring can be a stressful experience. There are so many styles of ring available, be it classic or contemporary. If you are a man you may also worry that your future wife won’t like the ring that you’ve chosen. This is where a bespoke ring could be a good choice from a quality jeweller.

At first the idea of designing and creating your own bespoke ring may sound like a complicated and expensive option, however it's actual price is extremely competitive compared to off the shelf rings.  At Handleys of London we can create a bespoke ring for you and your soon to be wife to cherish forever.

Do Your Research!

A bespoke engagement ring offers that personal choice

There are tons of things to consider before you look to purchase an engagement ring. This is definitely something that you shouldn’t be rushing into. Take some time before to look into the different cuts and gemstones that are available. 

A diamond is the obvious choice for the centre stone, however you should not rule out looking into some of the other precious and semi-precious stones available. Combining a coloured gemstone (like a ruby or sapphire) with diamonds is coming back into fashion. When used as part of a halo ring or as shoulder stones, diamonds are fantastic at bringing out the full colour of the gemstones they surround. 

Coloured stones, like this sapphire, also work well in an engagement ring

As well as the stones you need to look at the different details you can add to the ring, like the setting or the type of metal. Adding all of these together there are tens of thousands of different combinations for your ring. Search online for the elements that you like and we will work with you to incorporate them all together and create your perfect ring. 

Before going into the jewellers it always helps to have a brief understanding of the language that they are using. The most important terms that you should understand are the 4C’s. These are the four characteristics used to grade a diamond, developed by the Gemological Institute Of America (G.I.A). 

The 4 C's stand for cut, colour, clarity and carat.  The 4 C’s have become the universal method of assessing diamonds and provide a methodology by which jewellers across the world can abide to in their diamond certification process. When choosing your diamond it is useful to understand how each of these affect the overall appearance of it. 
    • Cut - This is the overall shape of the diamond.
    • Clarity - All diamonds hold imperfections either on the inside or the outside of the diamond. These are called inclusions or blemishes. The severity of these defects are what determine the overall clarity of the stone.
    • Colour - The G.I.A. grading system ranks a diamonds colour from D (colourless) all the way to Z (slightly yellow). 
    • Carat - The unit of weight for diamonds, 1 carat is equal to 0.2 grams. 
A diamond ring is a classic choice for an engagement ring

This may be an obvious one, but it is so important to outline a budget before you start this process. It is far too easy to get carried away when you are picking out a ring and go over budget. If you inform your jeweller of your maximum budget beforehand they can work with you to find the best possible ring within your price range. As mentioned above, it isn’t only the size that determines the price of the diamond. If a diamond you chose is pushing the ring over budget then the jeweller will help you find one with a lower clarity or colour. 

Working With Your Jeweller

When you come in for your first consultation meeting at Handley's of London, it doesn’t matter if you know exactly what you want or if you haven't a clue, we will pick your brains to get an initial design down on paper. 

For the larger and more complicated designs we can then send this off to our designers who will create a photo realistic CAD design, showing you exactly what it is going to look like. We can also then create a 3d printed wax model for you to try on. Keeping our clients updated in every step of the process is important for us, as we want them to see their creation come to life. We also encourage them to give us feedback throughout the process, allowing them to make any changes where they see fit. 

How Guys Are Proposing Now

Over the years, we have noticed a change in the way in which men are proposing. Everyone knows the traditional method of proposing to your loved one, purchasing the perfect piece of jewellery, waiting for the right moment and getting down on one knee (okay...maybe not that simple, but you know what I mean). However, if you are unsure of what your wife is looking for in her engagement ring, we offer the option of purchasing just the stone. Then after proposing, you can come into our Hatton Garden offices and design the bespoke ring together to ensure that it truly is the ring of her dreams. We have seen this increase in popularity in recent years, and it is always great to see the couple working together on the design. 

So remember if you are truly stuck picking out a ring, we can help you find the most beautiful individual stone for you to propose with.

Simon Handley - Handleys of London

* A sponsored post 

How Street Food Became Vogue

Walk around any major town centre and you would have noticed an uprising in the food stakes where established players are paying particular attention to street food sellers; and it shouldn’t be a surprise as to why.

Flavour Art have been known to help many a budding street food vendor and they had some thoughts as to how this new way of dining has become so popular.

Copyright: Artisticco Shutterstock

From gourmet burgers to Vietnamese cuisine, Lebanese salads to Mexican tacos the sight of a van now just serving a grilled hot dog or less than artistic impersonation of a burger is now questioned. We have become a nation of food critics, tasters, bloggers and judges in a very short space of time; and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it, we should most definitely embrace it.

It Has A Rich History

Copyright: Alexandralaw1977 Shutterstock

Street food has had a rich history. Starting in downtown LA where South American immigrants were bringing the taste of home to California, it soon became in vogue for business people to dine on street food too.

It’s popularity grew as experienced qualified chefs were leaving their luxury kitchens to set up basic versions of their kitchens often on the back of a van, that could produce high quality street food - with twists. The thought of creating a Michelin star experience on the streets of a major city must have been very appealing and terrifying at the same time for these chefs.

Since the start, street food has acquired its own loyal legion of food tastes and styles that have made it stand out and become the global sensation that it is today. 

Picking Up On Trends

Copyright: Brent Hofacker Shutterstock

One of the key things about street food is that it most definitely picks up food trends and flavours which then become quickly adapted into other foods at a rapid scale. 

Take Kho Po dumplings that trade in London, they started adding aromas to their dishes which departed from the norm making customers crave their unique style, vision and taste. But Kho Po picked up on this from an artisan bread street food retailer that discovered this new trend whilst backpacking in Malaysia - you couldn’t make this up!

It Has Everything 

We’ve already spoken about the amount of choice that is available to the average customer, but the phenomenal rise of the street food scene over the last few years has taken London by storm.

As Bartlett Mitchel put it “From the juicy burgers of Mother Flipper, made from chuck steak and cooked medium only, served with maple fried bacon on a half brioche roll with all the trimmings, to the outstanding Breddos Tacos and their slow cooked short rib soft tacos, this is serious street food. There are now companies such as Kerb and Street Feast involved in bringing together and organising various high quality vendors, arranging mini food festivals all around the city on just about every day of the week.”

Pizza used to be either a greasy boxed up experience or something that you would need to buy frozen and then heat. Well, not anymore, street food, especially in the UK as early as 2001 showed what the pizza in Naples is really like. Pizza Pilgrims has brought the rise of the sourdough pizza experience to a whole new playing field with other restaurateurs having to change how they now make pizza due to demand.

It's An Experience

Whether that be the food, the people you meet or even the cooks and chefs preparing the food, you will be left with a sense of having learnt something new and enjoying the whole street food experience.

Eating with your hands, sat next to strangers on a street corner and talking about the food, has become the way for people to meet and talk and get to know new places, venues and food traditions all in one hit.

Why is street food in vogue? Well, these are just some of the answers, maybe and just maybe, the food is astonishingly good which pleases the inner food lover of us all. 

* Post contributed by Flavour Art

Win A Seagate Personal Cloud - Ends 17/12

Recently I reviewed the Seagate Personal Cloud home media unit and found it extremely useful for the back up and storage of large files.

This Network Attached Storage Device (N.A.S.) is a central secure box where you can backup, access and store all your data.  Documents, movies and photos can all be stored, in fact anything you have on your computer or smart phone and all you need is an Internet connection, a smart phone, tablet or computer to access your information from anywhere in the world. 


Large storage area - up to 8TB drives available
Secure storage - plugs into your modem
No monthly subscriptions like equivalent online cloud services - just a one off payment
Access to your files on the go - from a smart phone or tablet
Frees up space on your computer - which can help speed up processing
Ability to view photos and videos on a Smart TV - so family and friends can view them easily
Easy back up option - keep a back up of all your data for safety and security
Multi-user access

If this sounds like something you would love to win, I am giving my readers the chance today to enter my Seagate Personal Cloud competition. Entry is easy via the Gleam application below. Once you put your details in, you just need to click on the options to enter. If you love competitions be sure to follow my blog via email on the right hand side and check my competitions link where you can win all your Christmas presents, jewellery and much much more. Good luck!

Seagate Personal Cloud

Term and Conditions
You must be 18 + to enter 
Open to entrants in the UK only
One entry per household 
Winner will be contacted within 7 days of the competition ending 
If I do not hear from the winner within 28 days I reserve the right to redraw
Please allow 28 days for delivery 
Giveaway Ends 2015-12-17 11:59:59 PM

Seagate Personal Cloud Storage Review

Being a blogger and a keen traveller I have many photos and videos on my computer, camera and phone. They hold precious memories. Like my son's first photo, his first day at school, our holidays in Orlando, our trip to the Grand Canyon and our family Christmases.

All these photos and videos take up space, and before you know it, your storage space on your computer and phone are full. This is where personal cloud storage becomes invaluable like the Seagate Personal Cloud.

Seagate have sent me a 5 TB version to review. I don't want to weigh my readers down with technical jargon so I have simplified the set up process as much as I can.
The Basics

With a Seagate Personal Cloud your movies, photos and files are available 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world. It is what is termed as a Network Attached Storage Device (N.A.S.), a central secure location where you can backup, access and store your files. All you need is an Internet connection and a smart phone, tablet or computer to access your data.

The Science Bit

The drive is stylish, black and discrete. To set it up, simply plug into your wireless router. Leave it for ten minutes while it automatically sets up and detects the files and until the light on the unit stops flashing. On the Mac the personal cloud then appears automatically in Finder in the shared section. On a Windows PC you should see it in File Explorer under Network Devices. Clicking on that opens up the files. To finish the set up process you click on the 'Personal Cloud url' and follow instructions.  

When it is set up, the first thing you do is create a user name. The user than gets a folder created for them. Only that user will see what is in that folder. However if you want to share something publicly that can be done with the Public folder. 

To add a remote user type their email address into the Invite Users section and it will send an email out allowing that person to access the drive.

The Benefits

Media stored can be viewed on a Smart TV

Storing your data on a personal cloud adds another layer of safety and security as a back up storage. You can access the drive anywhere in the world as long as you have the Internet and a device that allows you to access the Internet. This can be anything from a smartphone, tablet and computer to a Smart TV, media player or game system.

I think this is incredibly useful as I am fearful of taking my Mac with all my media stored on there, on holiday with me. Thefts happen and things get damaged in transit, however being a self employed blogger I need access to my emails and files at all times.  Now I can leave my Mac at home as I can access those files with my phone or Ipad if need be.

The storage space available is vast too. I am reviewing the 5 TB version but it also goes up to 8TB. That is much bigger than the storage space on my Mac. Whilst a free service like Dropbox only gives you a few GB's of space.

I particularly like being able to view the photos and videos on a Smart TV. A lovely feature that makes it easy to share your memories with family and friends. 

The Limitations

Transferring the media in the first place can take some time, that is one of the only limitations I have found, however after that instance there is a backup option which allows you to do this fairly quickly. For faster transfer of information it recommends using an Ethernet cable. 

Other Features

I would recommend backing up your media on a frequent basis as part of your routine. You can also back up to another storage device or another cloud system like Dropbox. 

The ability to sync to a folder is very convenient especially for important files that are updated regularly - useful too if you have a poor memory! This isn't done automatically however, you need to set it to sync at a certain time.

There is a also an app that allows you to access the files via a phone or tablet. This is great for you to be able to play a film, view all your photos, access your documents and listen to your music on the go. Don't forget you still need Internet access though.

You can buy the Seagate Personal Cloud in a range of sizes from John Lewis, Currys, PC World and many other stores. Priced at £199 the 5TB version isn't cheap but for the size it is worth it. This is a one off price, and in comparison for a similar size storage Dropbox starts at £11 a month, but you need to renew monthly to get the storage. I personally feel more secure knowing my data is on the N.A.S device and not stored in a 'virtual' world, with the security risks that can involve.

In conclusion, the Seagate Personal Cloud is an invaluable storage system for accessing and backing up your files whilst out and about, especially for those with lots of large files. If you would like to see an overview of the Seagate Personal Cloud check out the video above. Also watch out for a new competition going live this week on my blog where you can win a 5TB Seagate Personal Cloud!

Tell me, what do you think of the Seagate Personal Cloud storage?  Is it something you would consider buying? Do you have a lot of media you wish to backup?

Top Things To Do In Palma, Mallorca

As the capital city of Mallorca (Majorca), Palma is a place of many beautiful sights and attractions, whether you are just stopping for a weekend break or a longer trip. If you are planning a visit and not sure what to do to fill your days, consider the following options…

The Amazing Architecture Of Palma Cathedral

Marvel At The Architecture

Palma Cathedral

Palma is renowned for its excellent architecture. The most popular and undoubtedly most important must-see architectural wonder would be the Cathedral (Le Seu) where you will get the chance to witness works by Gaudi and Barcelo. Other places to see include the Bellver Castle, Basilica De Sant Francesc and Llotja.

Take In The Views Of Serra De Tramuntana

One of the most popular outings for visitors to Palma is a journey through the many glorious mountain ranges and coastal views of Serra de Tramuntana. The views are nothing short of spectacular from this World Heritage Site. Whether you head out in a hire car or take public transportation, the drive is well worth it and you will get to walk away with not only some incredible pictures but also a new perspective on what makes Palma so remarkable. We stopped at Valldemossa and Estellencs - two gorgeous little villages in the mountains.

Pay A Visit To Palma Aquarium

Palma Aquarium

For those who are travelling with little ones, the Palma Aquarium is a definite must-do. Both adults and children will enjoy learning about the beautiful marine creatures and wonder at awe at the big fish and sharks. This is one place that is sure to keep the kids entertained as well as allow them to learn and have fun at the same time. Palma Aquarium also works to support the environment and have worked on many ecological campaigns such as the one to save the bluefin tuna. We thought it was much better than we expected!

Explore The City By Bike

Palma Marina

If your feet are sore from walking around the Palma Aquarium, consider exploring the city by bike! For only 5 euros you get a fantastic way to look at some of the main attractions in town along with a great work out. There is a cycle path along the marina so this is a great area to explore whilst marvelling at the beautiful boats and cruise liners in port. When tired, stop at a cafe for a much needed cold drink and a spot of lunch.

Discover The Shops, Cafes And Restaurants

An amazing chocolate cake at restaurant Appetite 

Chances are that in between all the sightseeing and exploring the city, you will want to spend some time discovering the many inviting and unique designer boutiques, gift shops, cafes and restaurants. Stop for a coffee and lunch at one of the tiny cafes, eat tasty tapas in one of the cool bars or go for a special meal at one of the Michelin star restaurants for which Palma is renowned.

Where we stayed - Hotel Costa Azule. A fresh modern, well-priced hotel with views over the marina. 
Where we ate - Ribello, a lovely Italian restaurant, Appetite, a fusion inspired eatery and Koa, an excellent grill and cocktail place. If you fancy trying nearly 50 wines by the glass and tasty tapas I recommend the tapas bar Wineing.
Top Tip - It's worth hiring a car to explore the island. Bus services are excellent and reliable too so consider this if you don't drive.

Let me know, have you visited Palma Mallorca? Do you have any recommendations of what to do or see?

Portuguese Filigree Review And Competition Ends 14/12

I really like unusual jewellery and the Portuguese Filigree Jewellery Store is a site that has caught my attention recently.

A Portuguese lady started the company with her husband and sister, with the idea of bringing the work of artisan Portuguese jewellery makers to the world. 

The strong tradition of filigree jewellery in Portugal predates Roman times. Strings of metal and balls of silver combine together to make exquisitely detailed jewellery with a rich heritage, especially worn at weddings, festivals and special occasions. A distinctive symbol of the regions of Gondomar, Viana do Castelo and PĆ³voa do Lanhoso, this beautiful jewellery is part of the rich Portuguese culture.

A selection of Portuguese filigree earrings

More Portuguese filigree jewellery from the Portuguese Filigree Jewellery Store

As you can see designs are intricate, detailed, and complex. Superb craftsmanship, handmade by artisans in Portugal is what makes the Portuguese Filigree Jewellery Store extra special. If you buy from the store you are supporting local Portuguese people. Jewellery is designed in silver, gold plated or rhodium plated to bring a selection of different looks to their customers.

Of all the jewellery on the site, the Meticulosa pendant is my favourite. A big statement piece I would wear it with a little black dress on a long chain. The free-flowing silver filigree has a large heart design, inbuilt with swirls and waves of silver. The flower centrepiece adds that finishing touch. Simply gorgeous.

If you are looking for Christmas gifts of handmade silver jewellery that is unique and different, then the Portuguese Filigree Jewellery Store ship worldwide too. Packaged in a premium white gift box with the black and gold logo, any self-respecting jewellery lover would be delighted to receive a gift from this company this Christmas. 

Today on my blog I am giving you a chance to win a silver filigree ring from the Portuguese Filigree Jewellery Store. This pretty intricate ring is adjustable in size and fits most fingers.
For a chance to win the gorgeous ring detailed above, worth 67 Euros (£47), please check out my giveaway below. This is a fabulous opportunity to get your hands on an amazing piece of jewellery to keep for yourself, or perhaps give as a gift. Good luck.

Check out my other competitions here, including a chance to win your Christmas presents worth over £400.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

You must be 18 + to enter 
Open to entrants in Europe only 
One entry per household 
Winner will be contacted within 7 days of the competition ending 
If I do not hear from the winner within 28 days I reserve the right to redraw 
We will endeavour to get the ring to you before Christmas however this is not guaranteed, therefore p
lease allow 28 days for delivery 
 Giveaway Ends 2015-12-14

Hotel Chocolat Christmas 2015

Regular readers of my blog will know how much I love Hotel Chocolat. This award winning British company which was set up 20 years ago, produce ethical luxury chocolates with amazing flavour. They are especially fantastic as they help support cocoa farmers and their communities in Saint Lucia and Ghana. Not a lot of people know that!

The managing directors of the company are really hands on too. Angus Thirwell the co-founder and CEO eats chocolate every day and personally tests every single recipe. Now that's a job I would love to have - wouldn't you?

Attention to detail is important to Hotel Chocolat. The chocolates in the stores are immaculately displayed. Staff are all dressed in chic black and are on hand to answer any questions you have. Pop into your local store (there are now 81 in the UK) and samples are always available to try, tempting you to buy more.

If you are ordering from the website everything is beautifully packaged. Delivered in a Hotel Chocolat branded bag and stylishly wrapped in tissue paper it's the finishing touches that make you realise what a quality brand they have. Like the card that comes with the delivery.

Today I am reviewing two of the 500g 'Slabs' of chocolate that they make. The Billionaire's Shortbread and the Rocky Road Slab. I normally buy the H boxes and like the dessert style chocolates but I thought I would try these for a change.
The Hotel Chocolat packaging

The Billionaire's Shortbread Slab

First the Billionaire's Shortbread Slab. When I removed the plastic packaging the sweet smell of chocolate just hit me. Each section of chocolate is slightly different to each other but compliments each part well. In the middle the sweet caramel flavour mingles with the slghtly darker chocolate section decorated with dark chocolate stripes, all sitting next to a section of chocolate scattered with crispy shortbread pieces. This addition is lovely as it brings texture and crunch and lifts the chocolate to another level. 

This huge 500g slab of chocolate is a perfect present for a chocoholic and is also great to share with the family. The luxurious taste of the chocolate means a little goes a long way and the different sections means that different tastes are accommodated. My only negative point is that the chocolate is devilishly hard to break!

The Rocky Road Slab

The Rocky Road slab is a little less sophisticated, in fact if I was a teenager I would call it a Hot Mess -  a "state of total disarray while still maintaining an undeniable attractiveness". Tasty crunchy cookies meet smooth white chocolate chunks and crispy puffed rice. What I personally liked about this slab was that it was very satisfying - a little taste goes a long way. The texture was amazing too, the puffed rice added crunch whilst the cookie added a slightly softer but still interesting texture. There is a mix of milk and dark chocolate as well all topped off with white chocolate buttons.

Rocky Road Slab and Billionaire Shortbread Slab

Priced at £16 these slabs are great treats to put under the Christmas tree. They also come in smaller portions too and the Winter Nano Slab Gallery is like a selection box of all smaller individual portions if you want to try all the different flavours.

Well after a few days of stuffing our faces we still had this amount left of both slabs. I think you can see here how thick the chocolate is, mmmm. 

Other Christmas ideas from Hotel Chocolate include Festive Wreaths, Advent Calendars and Christmas selection boxes. I can highly recommend the Christmas Crackers as I bought these before and the jokes are actually funny and the chocolate is totally delicious.

You can follow Hotel Chocolat on Facebook and Twitter which I recommend doing as they are always running competitions.

So no surprises from me here, being a long term fan of Hotel Chocolat, I can highly recommend these slabs of mouthwatering goodness.

Tell me have you ever tried Hotel Chocolat? Would you buy some as a Christmas gift?

Top Tips For Christmas - Budgeting And Saving

We all know that Christmas is an expensive time. Research by YouGov in 2014 found that UK households planned on spending £861 on Christmas last year with over £600 on gifts. That's a lot of money.

With a bit of planning, some budgeting and some saving in advance it doesn't need to cost the earth or get you into debt.

If you are watching the pennies at Christmas think of these important points.
  • Presents should be affordable - make a shopping list and stick to it. Don't go mad, work out what you can afford and stick to it. 
  • Do your research - use price comparison sites and shop around for the best prices. 
  • Cut our unnecessary presents - just buy for immediate family and close friends, and cut out buying for work colleagues, extended family and friends of friends because you feel you have to.
  • Spread the cost - put aside some money every month for Christmas presents. Many supermarkets have a stamp scheme where if you fill a card with pound stamps, you will get extra if you cash it in, in December.
  • Don't be a retail snob - young children don't value your gift on price or brand. Consider making gifts if you are creative as people appreciate the thought, it can be very personal and save you money too.
  • Don't panic buy - write a list and plan what you are going to buy in advance. 
  • Plan for next year - start putting a few pounds away on a regular basis in January and before you know it you will have your Christmas shopping sorted. Buying in the sales can also save money, as well as spreading the cost over the whole year.  If you're interested, here's a website helping you pick the right credit card that earns rewards for shopping.

Tell me what are your top tips for budgeting and saving for Christmas?

*PR collaboration

How To Get Your Home Ready For A House Sale

When it comes to selling your home, there is one word that strikes no truer than, preparation. Yes, preparation is key when selling your home because you won’t be dealing with the unexpected, in fact, if you’re that well prepared, nothing is unexpected and you will drift through your house sale like a breeze. 

Copyright: bikeriderlondon Shutterstock

Of course, today, we all live chaotic lives and this can mean that getting prepared can be extremely time consuming and overlooked when it comes to preparing for a house sale. Recently, a study that was conducted to nearly 2,000 homebuyers supported what has been widely thought true for a long time, a house that doesn’t look like it will fit the bill won’t sell!

So what actually puts people off? According to the study that was carried out by Barclay’s mortgages, things such as; avocado bathrooms, woodchip walls and flocked wallpaper were just some of the biggest turnoffs; whilst other, larger exterior reasons such as stone cladding and pebble dash have been known to cause buyers to consider their choices in a house purchase.

Property sale experts, have however provided some well seasoned and sound advice when it comes to preparing your house for a house sale.

Lighten up your furnishings

One of the simplest, yet most effective things you could do to improve your interior is actually creating the effect of space in your home. One of the ways to do this is to perform some good DIY work and try and neutralise the more “bolder” colours and furnishings in the house.

From neutral paint colours to updating your bathroom set, these can be quite time consuming if you don’t organise the workflow properly so, make sure that whatever work you undertake is manageable. If you can’t manage it yourself, then call in some of those favours with friends and family or hire a professional (but this can cost a bit, so remember that if it happens).

Box up some personal items 
Declutter and Depersonalise
Copyright: lculig Shutterstock

Did you know that potential buyers are nearly 3x less likely to purchase your home if they feel they can’t see themselves living in that space. One of the biggest pet peeves of potential buyers is seeing personal items such as photos and trinkets lying around the home.

A big tip here is to start boxing together some of the more personal and precious items and clearly label them so that they are to hand to when you need to move them into your new home.

Spring clean or even, car boot sale! 

Well, a good old spring clean can be handy in situations precisely like this. Remember, you are moving into a new home and you want to sell your home; gathering together items which you no longer need, use or even like isn’t a bad idea. You can donate them or even sell at a good old car boot sale to finance some of the things you need at your new home.

Our top tip here; don’t be over emotional with belongings here we use the three month rule quite regularly. “Has it been used in the last 3 months?” if the answer is no, then off it goes. If the answer is yes, we’ll ask “do you really need it?” the same applies as before.

We hope that this provides some insight into how you can get your house ready for a sale, especially in today’s chaotic lifestyle. What do you think works best for getting ready to move home? What top tips do you have? We’d love to know.

*This post was contributed by Mike Fisher, senior marketing adviser at Jet Homes

A Christmas Break In Prague

This post was originally published in December 2013 but I wanted to re-publish it for you today because I have a feeling that you'll love it as much as I did. 

I've just come back from a weekend break in Prague. What I didn't realise before I went, is how beautiful the capital city of the Czech Republic is. Here are my top tips on what to do on a Christmas break.

1. Get your bearings and learn some of the troubled histories of this city by going on a tour. Almost undamaged by World War 2, Prague's medieval centre is a mix of cobbled lanes, walled courtyards, and Gothic architecture. We did a free tour by New Prague Tours. The guides work on tips and our guide, Colin, was informative and funny and helped up gained a valuable insight into Prague's history. Wrap up warm as it was near freezing in December.

2. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without visiting Prague Christmas markets. The main ones are in The Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Traditional crafts such as glassware, wooden toys and decorations, mix with food stalls selling mulled wine, Prague ham, and lager. In the old Town Square, the stunning Christmas tree, illuminated at night, is worth a visit alone.

The Christmas Tree In Old Town Square

3. Visit Prague Castle - the largest castle complex in the world. It consists of courtyards, palaces and churches of various architectural styles, and is stunning to see. Originally it used to be the residence of Princes and Kings of Bohemia.

The Prague Castle Complex

4. Take a walk over Charles Bridge for a great view of the city. Local artists mix with tourists and historic statues line the bridge, but be careful of pickpockets as it can get very crowded in the day.

Charles Bridge

5. Visit the infamous Astronomical clock at the Old Town Hall. On the stroke of the hour, people gather to see the 12 Apostles and the skeletal figure of Death appear. Colin, our guide, told us it is among the most overrated attractions in the world, but personally, I feel it has to be seen :).

The Astronomical Clock 

6. Visit the opera, the ballet or the theatre while you are there. Tickets can be bought last minute at a very reasonable price but always buy from the theatre's box office as Prague is known for ticket touts. Did you know that there are over 40 different theatres in Prague?

7. Prague's museums are known worldwide for the quality of their exhibitions. The National Museum and National Gallery of Prague hold great displays and exhibitions with depth and quality. We went to the Rudolfinum to see a modern art exhibition by the brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman. These British artists are well known for their modern art based on death and life and it was certainly entertaining!

8. Try the local food, or eat out at one of the many restaurants. The local dishes include a type of goulash, stewed pork or beef with dumplings, and sausages often served as bar snacks with the local lager. Prague has also more cosmopolitan places to eat and drink with a range of prices and cuisines. We ate at Sansho - and had an absolutely fantastic meal. They serve a tasting menu and although the food does not have a Michelin star we felt it should have had. The Asian inspired food was beautifully presented by a past chef from Nobu, London. Our 7-course meal with wine came to £80 and for food of this standard, we thought this was amazing. At the other end of the scale, we found a great pizza at a bargain price in Giovanni's, just behind the Old Town Square. We had a two-course meal with wine for under £30 for two. It was tasty, service was quick and the restaurant had a certain rustic charm.

Delicious Food At Sansho

9. Where to stay. There is a wide variety of hotels of all prices in Prague. We stayed at the Hotel Maximilian. This stylishly modern hotel doesn't compromise on service, you can even have a pet goldfish brought to your room for your stay! Complimentary tea and coffee are served every day and the buffet breakfast had a good mix of tempting hot and cold dishes including food cooked to order. The rooms have facilities such as DVD players, coffee machines and free Wi-Fi. We were very impressed with this hotel as on a special rate we only paid £90 a night which is fabulous for a city centre hotel of this standard.

10. Be careful of pickpockets and petty crime. Tourists can be scammed by people in the street asking if you want to change money and ripping you off. Taxi drivers are renowned for overcharging, so arrange taxis with your hotel or look at Trip Advisor for reputable companies. I had heard that there used to be a problem with stag dos but we never saw anything when we were there. Fortunately, serious crime is rare.

In conclusion, there is so much to see and do in Prague, and we were pleasantly surprised by the cost of living. It is a beautiful city with amazing architecture and is a perfect city to visit this time of year to enjoy the Christmas markets. If you have never been to Prague I urge you to go. For more cool things to do in Prague, check out this post.

Have you been to Prague? What did you think of it? If you haven't been would you like to visit the Christmas markets?

Strictly Good Fun

Amazingly, Strictly Come Dancing is now in its 13th series. Despite the departure of stalwart Bruce Forsyth at the end of series 11, the show’s popularity continues unabated. With all the dramas and gossip that surround the show each year, it’s not surprising it still attracts an impressive prime time audience.

Some of the most memorable highlights from previous years include Julian Clary’s double act with Craig Revel-Horwood. Craig is considered the pantomime villain of the show and has been known to reduce contestants to gibbering wrecks with his caustic comments. Julian, however, was having none of it and championed much of the nation’s thoughts with his comedy comebacks and refusal to be intimidated.

Who could forget the artistic stylings of John Sergeant? A man so left-footed he eventually volunteered to leave the show out of embarrassment. Despite featuring in the bottom two every week, he was endlessly voted back in by an underdog-loving public. He finally walked from the show in week 10, in case he ended up winning, which he felt would be a travesty under the circumstances!

This infographic by Great British Bingo looks back on the Strictly Come Dancing winners.

By far the most memorable dance so far this series has been Jay McGuinness and Aliona Vilani, dancing an astonishingly technical jive to the soundtrack of Pulp Fiction. The dance was performed during week three, when most of the contestants are still discovering their feet (and their partner’s toes!). The footwork can only be described as hypnotic and I am confident it will go down in Strictly history as one of the defining moments of the show, alongside other classics, such as Sophie Ellis Bextor’s Charleston and Abbey Clancy’s Samba.

As of the start of this current series, there have been six male and six female winners overall. Which is an interesting result, as there is often much debate over who has an easier time on the show. The men have to learn to do some complicated lifts as the show progresses, but the ladies have to be lifted, which does require an element of bravery. There is also some disadvantage attached to the costumes required by the female contestants. As Ginger Rogers once famously said of Fred Astaire; “I did everything he did, but backwards and in high heels.”

Tell me do you follow the show? Can you dance? Do you love the outfits as much as me?

*PR collaboration

Stylish Lighting Ideas For Autumn/Winter

Christmas will be here before you know it. At this time of year, I always look for stylish ways to update my home for the Autumn/Winter season. New furnishings and some select lighting can make all the difference and add some personal touches that can take your dwelling from a house to a home.  Here are some smart lighting ideas from Lampcommerce this season.


The ambience of a room can really be altered with great lighting. Soft-focused lighting can create a relaxed atmosphere, whilst task-orientated lighting for reading, cooking or sewing for example, can help you see more clearly and focus on the task in question. Accent lighting when used can help to enhance the special features in a room such as a photo or a painting, whilst outdoor lighting can be helpful for security and help create a welcome at your door.

These outdoor lamps by Fabbian - a company from Veneto, Italy are twinkly and still supremely stylish whilst saving money through LED technology.


Most homes have a combination of lighting for all purposes and all moods.  It is therefore important to choose the right lighting for each room. 

When you are buying new lighting think about how specifically each room will be used. Is the room a bathroom, kitchen, study or utility room? Lighting in a task-orientated room like this will be different to lighting in a relaxing area like a lounge or bedroom. You may need reading lights and spotlights as well as general ceiling lighting for these types of rooms.

If it is a room with a lot of moisture like a kitchen or bathroom you will need to use special lighting that is designed for wet and humid areas. 

For the kitchen, a combination of lighting for each task-related area is a great idea. The cooker itself may have lighting on it to help when cooking. Preparation areas need to be adequately lighted so you can see what you are doing and you don't make any nasty mistakes - you don't want to chop off a finger by mistake! You can buy ceiling lighting that combines spotlights targeting each different area of the kitchen, a great cost-effective way to light your kitchen.

The Vistosi Quadra ceiling lamp is a minimalistic yet chic addition to any bathroom

For the bathroom, a combination of pendant lights (especially good on higher ceilings), flush lights, spotlights and over-the-mirror lights to help with shaving or applying makeup, are an excellent idea.

If you have a lounge/diner then your lighting needs will be different in each section of the room.

For your lounge area, lighting can be softer, and more ambient but still practical and flexible. Table lamps and floor lamps are useful here as well as uplighters.

For a diner/lounge, the lighting in the dining area may be different. Some people prefer muted lights when they are eating whilst others prefer brighter lighting. Table lights and candles can all add atmosphere as well.

This Fairy pendant lamp by Axo Light, a Venetian company, is a different way to illuminate your dining table. The crystal multi-faceted diffuser creates light patterns

Bedroom lighting can be a combination of table lamps and pendant lighting. It is helpful if lighting can be adjustable in the bedroom, this is especially true in children's bedrooms and this is where a dimmer switch comes in. Many people like to read in bed so focused lighting like an adjustable table lamp is also worth considering so you can read in bed if you wish to without glare.


There are lots of stylish ways to light your home. Updating your lighting can make a big difference to the ambience of a home. Why not buy some new lighting this Autumn so your house will feel cosy and welcoming as well as look smart and stylish for this festive season.

* PR Collaboration - All words and opinions are my own.