Tuesday, 31 July 2018

How To Dress As The Mother Of The Bride (or Groom)

So your daughter or son is getting married, and of course, it's an exciting time! You most likely have helped with the preparations, even helped her pick her perfect dress, and probably shed a tear or two, but now, when it's time to pick your outfit, you may wonder what you should wear. How should you dress as the mother of the bride, or even the mother of the groom? 


Dressing as the mother of the bride isn't as simple as you first think. There are certain dos and don'ts that you should take into consideration when planning your outfit. Certain etiquette that you really should think about. It can be a minefield but it mostly comes down to common sense. Here is my guide on how to dress as the mother of the bride or groom.

1. Never upstage the bride

This isn't the occasion for your most elaborate outfit, after all, you don't want to upstage the bride. It's the bride and groom's day and upstaging the bride isn't really on. So don't wear anything dramatic or strange. Just don't, it's not cool.

2. Don't wear white or black

It's an unwritten rule to not wear white to a wedding if you are not the bride. You can wear a neutral colour but white is a definite no-no. The bride is most likely to be wearing white or ivory. The only exception to this if the wedding isn't a traditional wedding, the bride is wearing a different colour and has said everyone can wear what they want. Personally, I still wouldn't.

Black is a colour associated with mourning so stay clear of wearing black from head to toe although some black co-ordinating with another colour or tone can be chic.

3. Dress conservatively


Don't be like Elizabeth Hurley and wear a dress split to your lady parts! Yes, she did wear this to a wedding. A rule of thumb is to be conservative in your dress unless the couple are having a wedding that is non-traditional. They should then discuss with you the theme and explain the dress code. Anything see-through, very short or revealing is a definite no.

4. Try and be timeless

You will look back on these photos for years to come so try and pick an outfit that is timeless and doesn't play to the latest fashion trends. There is nothing to say you can't add something bright or sparkly to your outfit though if that fits with your personality. If you are very outgoing you can always wear something more extrovert in the evening, within common sense guidelines.

5. It's ok to splurge

It's your child's wedding so it's ok to splurge on that perfect outfit. Often spending that little bit more with give you an outfit that is cut well of a quality material and will look amazing on. It's your child's special day so to splurge is almost expected if you have the money.

6. Casual is never casual

Even if it's a casual wedding, it's never really that casual. A wedding is one occasion that it's always better to be overdressed. If it's a beach wedding you may, however, want to wear something less structured, such as a flowing dress. Again, just be sure it's not too revealing, and pay attention to underwear that gives structure under a floaty garment. 

7.  A hat or not



Is a hat compulsory as the mother of the bride? This much Googled question will bring up the answer from Debrett - the guide to British social skills, etiquette and style. They say that it is traditional but not compulsory.  Many people feel that wearing a hat finishes off an outfit. If you are not keen, what about a fascinator that adds some glamour and brings the outfit up-to-date? It's a good idea to liaise with the mother of the groom to find out what she is wearing so you don't clash and also if she is wearing a hat and do the same. 

8. A religious ceremony

If it is a religious ceremony,  especially in a church, be respectful and cover your shoulders. Even if you are not religious. If in doubt, ask the priest for guidance but always err on the side of caution.  

9. Don't leave it to the last minute 

Picking that perfect outfit shouldn't be rushed, so don't leave it to the last minute. That's when disasters happen, you get an outfit that doesn't fit or you are not happy with. It's always nice to ask your daughter what she thinks and this will ensure your outfit compliments hers. She will appreciate you asking and it's something you can share in the run-up to the day.

10. At the end of the day enjoy!


You want everything to be perfect for her wedding day, just don't forget to relax and enjoy the day. After all, it's not every day your daughter gets married!

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Monday, 30 July 2018

How To Choose A Radiator Design

Recently I've been looking to decorate our lounge and some things have really surprised me, such as how choosing a radiator can be surprisingly complicated - who knew!? Also, regarding radiators, there are some amazing designs available now, they are not all white, metal and old-fashioned. 

If you are looking to choose a radiator for a room or planning on overhauling your complete heating system, check out these radiator designs to make your heating system efficient and your home stylish too. 



Panel radiators

Panel radiators are simple radiators made of a panel of metal that get filled with hot water. They come in single panels or double panels, and whilst single panels are slimmer and fit closer to the wall, doubles can provide more heat. Panel radiators although are quite traditional in their looks can bring warmth to a room quickly.

Compact radiators

Compact radiators are slim and sleek in design, with grills on the top to hide the fins. They are ideal for small spaces or where you haven't got much wall space to place a radiator.

Ladder radiators

Perfect for bathrooms, ladder radiators usually have spaced rungs like a ladder, and heat the room as well as being used to warm towels and dry them after a shower or bath. Chrome is a popular material for a ladder radiator although you can get them in different materials like stainless steel and even anthracite.

Low-level radiators




Low-level radiators fit under low windowsills and large windows. As with any radiators near windows, you do have to be mindful that heat can be lost through the window sill and window itself if they are not fitted perfectly. 


Column radiators

Column radiators have that vintage look and fit into period properties well. Modern steel designs are not as heavy as the old cast iron material, however they still can be heavy so radiator 'feet' are recommended to protect your floor. 

Mirror designs

Mirror designs combine heating in a mirror. They work well where there is less natural light than normal, as the mirror bounces light around the room. They are suitable for bathrooms and hallways especially and are a great multi-function item.

Low Service temperature radiators

Low Service Temperature (LST) radiators are cool to the touch radiators and are perfect for environments where safety is an issue, such as hospitals, nursing homes and nurseries. LST radiators produce less dust and are more cost-effective than a normal radiator. They do however take longer to warm up so aren't ideal when you want that blast of heat immediately.

When looking for a radiator, check out a site that has consistently low prices like 
Trade Direct  So as you can see radiator designs have come a long way in 2018. Did you realise the choice available when looking for a radiator?

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Friday, 27 July 2018

Confused About Technology? Join the Post Office Free Digital Drop In Service

Do you remember life before technology? No? I don't either and I am pushing 50, but things have changed remarkably in the last 30 years. 

When I was a child, I grew up with computers. First I had an Atari console, then a Spectrum ZX81 and then a Spectrum 48K. I did computer studies for O Level,  and we had to write our computer programmes on graph paper, then they were sent off to ensure they worked.  




Mobile phones in those days were rare and if you did have one they were huge and heavy. You could only use them to make phone calls. They wouldn't fit in your pocket that's for sure. Now the phones we have can do far more than a computer from 30 years ago. Modern technology is just amazing, and it moves fast too. 

If you haven't grown up with technology or if you find you only use certain features on your laptop, tablet or phone then you may feel like you are missing out. This is where the Post Office digital drop-in service in conjunction with Google Digital Garage, can be useful to you. Sign up here for your free session




In a recent survey by the Post Office, nearly three-quarters of people in Cardiff surveyed said they would like support to improve their technology skills, with 54% struggling to use the newer technology services such as music streaming, smart watches and smart home devices. A significant number also struggle with apps, smartphone and tablets too. It's not just us oldies, with 33% of 18-24 year-olds saying they are not confident with smartwatches, 27% with smart musical devices and 22% with smart TVs.

The Digital Drop-In sessions will cover a variety of topics, helping people get started online and building their confidence. Attendees can bring along their devices for hands-on support too in a non-judgmental environment. What a brilliant idea! 



They will also ensure you know the basics of being safe online and with smart technology. Maybe you want to do online shopping but are not sure how you can tell the website is secure?

The best news is that these sessions are also FREE. Yes, you heard me correctly, and we don't get much for free these days do we?

Held all across the country, from Plymouth to Cardiff, Leeds to Norwich, and Belfast to Southampton, I feel these sessions will be a godsend to people unsure about technology. I will be popping into my Cardiff session at the Cardiff Central Library Hub to find out more an report back to my readers. There will be staff from the library as well as Post Office and Google trainers available to help you. Refreshments are also available. 



Sign up here for your free session throughout July and August or ring 0800 068 1791 to register

Tell me, do you feel confident with technology, or do you find some things confusing?

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Thursday, 26 July 2018

What is Life Coaching and How Can it Benefit You?


Life coaching is about looking at the here and now to set achievable goals and a pathway to future success. It isn’t just for people who are suffering from problems or life issues as life coaching is a process commonly used to continue with great success. But what are the real benefits?

NCC’s online coaching course is a great place to start your career as a life coach. Working with people who want to make a difference in their lives, you will work with a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds.

If you are considering becoming a life coach or are wondering what the benefits to you would be of working with one, here are seven reasons why life coaching works.



#1 Recognise and deal with SELF-LIMITING BELIEFS

Why can’t you become an astronaut/nurse/healthcare assistant or run your own business? What can’t you write a novel? Why can’t you be what you want to be?

In effect, the ‘thing’ that stops us is our own self-limiting beliefs. So we’re too old to become an astronaut, we don’t have the right qualifications to become a nurse or we’ll be no good as a healthcare assistant and so on.

How easy is it to change your whole belief system? Tough and almost impossible on your own but with the help and support of a life coach, you could make the changes you need to in order to reach your goals.

#2 A clearer pathway to success

You may have a firm idea of where you want to be but the journey to that point is shrouded in mystery.

Just like when we drive to a destination, the signposts can be confusing with a navigational aid like GPS sending us the long way around.

A life coach is a person who helps you to navigate the shorter route to your goals.

#3 Shows a better way of doing things

Coaches are everywhere – sports coaches, for example, work with some of the leading athletes to help them do better and reach their goals – and their experience and wisdom, as well as being able to see the whole picture.

And so, if we accept that sports coaches can do this, why don’t we look to life coaches to do the same?

Quite often become who become life coaches do so because they have a particular outlook along with a set of expertise that makes them the ideal life coach.

They have an honesty and integrity about how they interact with their clients that places client achievements and their journey at the centre of what they do.

You may be able to reach your destination without them but if you could take a shorter, better route to success, why not take it?

#4 YOUR journey but why reinvent the wheel?

Other people have become astronauts and nurses, healthcare assistants and nail technicians. But that was their journey and this is yours. You have a specific set of needs and issues, something that a life coach will understand.

We know that to be a nurse, for example, you need qualifications but what about the other life stuff that impinges on how we learn? A life coach can help YOU understand your own specific circumstances.

#5 New ideas and a different perspective

There is a saying, continue to do things as you always have and you’ll get the same results. With a life coach, you’ll find you have the confidence and the support to try something a different way.

You may think of hundreds of different ways something won’t work but a life coach could give you hundreds of reasons why it would. And sometimes, we just need to know that someone is with us when we make the leap.

#6 Personal feedback

Part of the life coaching process is feedback. And from this, you can learn a lot about yourself.

What does your body language say about you, for example, when you walk into a meeting? How well do you communicate? There are all kinds of personal feedback and observations that a life coach can and will make, so many of which we are unaware of.

And just small, subtle changes – such as making eye contact or smiling as you enter a meeting – can make a positive change to the outcome.

#7 Improves self-belief and self-confidence

There are so many ways we hold ourselves back. Fear is one. It stops us from doing so many things, and yet we don’t always know this.

A life coach is the person who can help you see past these fear and make small changes that deliver massive results.

Is life coaching something you can see yourself doing?

* PR Collaboration with NCC Home Learning- a leading provider of online, distance learning courses. They have over 300 courses to choose from, including life coaching.
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Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Footwear Every Woman Needs

There are certain shoes and boots every woman needs in her wardrobe, especially if she is into fashion. With the average woman owning over 20 pairs of shoes, then most of us have a few extra pairs in our wardrobe that we don't really need.  That's the beauty of fashion, we don't really need that many shoes but most of us want them! This is a list of footwear every woman needs in her wardrobe. 

Classic court shoes




The classic court shoe is the perfect shoe for the office as well as going out for the night. Heel height depends on your bravery and your balance! Black courts go with everything but the nude heel is the modern version and perfect for summer. Have both in your wardrobe, in different styles for extra brownie points. You don't have to spend a fortune either to get well made classic court shoes. 

High Wedges

Wedges are the best shoes if, like me, you are super short and want some height but also want stability. A wedge with a platform front won't tilt you forward as well. Ring the changes with a wooden or cork sole for a summer look. Wedges give you more comfort that courts do as well as providing arch you haven't got to be worried about getting your heel stuck in a pavement slab! So it's a win-win all around. 

Ballet flats

Ballet flats add that French Parisian chicness to every outfit and are very versatile being worn with dresses, jeans and trousers. They are also ageless and can be worn by women of every age. Black or navy ballet pumps are a wardrobe staple but why not add a bright pair to add colour to your wardrobe?

Sandals 

A staple for sunny days, holidays and lazy moments on the beach, the classic sandal is a Summer essential. Make sure they are leather to last you well. Add some flip-flops for fun or combine fitness with a sandal in a FitFlop that tones your legs as you walk. 

Adventure boots



Depending on your lifestyle, adventure boots can be a useful addition to your wardrobe. What do I mean by adventure boots you may ask? When Wellington boots that will take you in the muddy fields if you walk the dog, or if you love exploring the countryside or hiking boots if you love going up mountains or walking in difficult terrain. I have a great pair of hiking boots that I wore when I was in Iceland exploring the waterfalls and the countryside.

Ankle boots 



Ankle boots are a great staple that are not just for Winter. I wear mine all year round with jeans and also with tea dresses to add a modern boho touch. They are especially brilliant when you don't want to wear sandals in dusty or dirty environments. These fabulously cheap ankle boots are a great addition to any wardrobe and at those prices, they won't break the bank.

Trainers

Last but not least trainers. Trainers are great for exercise, just be sure to get the correct support for the exercise you do. I always buy the best I can afford. Fashion trainers are great too for walking and canvas trainers add a youthful edge to your wardrobe, great for the school run or for when you need to do some serious shopping.

Let me know, what's your favourite footwear?  

*PR collaboration 

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Tuesday, 24 July 2018

5 Reasons To Choose A Mid Sleeper Bed For Your Child

Choosing the right bed for your child can be a difficult process. Do you want a plain old simple divan or a bed frame with mattress, and, if you have more than one child, bunk beds may be an option - the choice is seemingly endless! However, why not consider a mid sleeper bed? These are great for children, whether they are really young or into their teens. Here’s why you should consider getting a mid sleeper for your child.

They’re fun
Ask any child what they want from their bed and you can guarantee something a little more exciting than your bog standard plain old bed will be on their list. They want their bed to be somewhere they can’t wait to go, to lay down and go adventuring in their dreams. Some have tents underneath which can be a den, or a house, or a tent or a palace in their imagination and these designs help inspire creativity.   A mid sleeper bed fulfils their fun ambitions whilst also fulfilling exactly what you need it for - a place for them to sleep. Isn’t that what every parent wants?

They can help you to maximise space in the room

Mid sleepers are great for helping you maximise the space in a bedroom. Whilst it may not be needed in their younger years, older children will need a desk to do their homework at and that along with their bed and other bedroom furniture can take up an awful lot of room. A mid sleeper cabin bed with desk could be the perfect solution to this problem, giving you that little bit of space back that you didn’t have before. Forget a bedroom where you can barely move, have that extra space back!

They provide plenty of storage

Whilst helping to maximise space, they also provide plenty of storage for their stuff which is perfect especially if your child is in the box room. Many come with bookshelves and little cubby holes where different items such as toys, games or clothes can be stashed away. Whatever your child has a lot of, one of these beds will help with the storage problem for sure.

They can often convert

If required, most mid sleeper cabin beds can be converted into a single bed once your child has outgrown the fun side of it. This means that you effectively get two beds for the price of one so you will still get plenty more use out of it. That’s a great financial investment, wouldn’t you agree? Some can also convert to bunk beds if another child needs to move into the room which I think is a fantastic idea.

They can come in so many different designs

Mid sleeper beds come in many different exciting designs. Some are normal mid sleepers painted in a block colour, some have different patterns or colours on the bed frame. Some have tents underneath, some have desks and some have plenty of book storage. There are so many different designs to choose from that you and your child won’t know which one to pick!

Have you ever considered a mid sleeper bed for your child?

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Monday, 23 July 2018

5 Problems And Solutions To Make Life Easier For The Elderly

There are many aspects of life one takes for granted, and fitness is one of them. As we get older our bodies are more likely to develop problems, and issues with mobility, our eyesight, our hearing, dexterity and our memory are common. Fortunately, we are also smart enough as humans to come up with solutions for these problems thus improving the quality of life for our elderly. Here are 5 problems and a number of solutions that can make elderly life that little bit easier.




Problems with eyesight

While there are medical procedures, for example, surgery and laser treatment to help treat eye-related diseases, some issues can be treated more simply.

Presbyopia is an age-related process whereby the lens in your eye stiffens, and as a result, you’ll find it difficult for your eyes to focus within short distances. This is a completely normal occurrence and although you’ll need to have more frequent eye-checks the older you get, it’s something you can easily counteract. Forms of reading glasses or multifocal contacts can help correct presbyopia simply for example.

Difficulty with mobility

Walking can also become a major challenge as we grow older. Going to sit down or stand up, walking upstairs and even just maintaining a steady balance while walking can be a struggle. Household aids like support bars or walking sticks can help with this.

For those who find they need more support, a wheelchair can be a suitable option. They can allow for mobility and comfort without the risk of serious injury, and although they’ve had a previously bulky reputation, they’ve undergone a lot of development an improvements over time. Specifically designed collapsable wheelchairs for easy storage means greater portable use and home use.

Another useful addition to a home is a stair lift, and although costly can help ensure the elderly stay in their home for longer.

Struggling with dexterity

With age, dexterity can worsen. This can be due to arthritis which causes inflammation of joints, or a general deterioration in fine motor skills and with deteriorating eyesight, this can cause a number of problems. However, there are lots of solutions to dexterity problems and these can be relatively cheap to buy.

Easy-reach handles for seatbelts and special attachments for zippers to make them easier to pull up, big button telephones, special hand grips for writing, easy grip cups and elastic laces can also be useful. If you can think of the problem then there’s likely a dexterity-friendly aid for it.

Issues with hearing

Hearing Loss can be both common and sudden, for numerous different reasons. Hearing aids are one of the obvious solutions to this, provided that your hearing is somewhat functional even if impaired. These come in a few different varieties such as Canal or Behind The Ear aids (BTEs), and prices will vary depending on the version you’re looking for.

BTEs can be provided for free by the NHS while private treatments will offer a much wider range to chose from if you don’t mind paying.

Memory problems

We all know the pain of forgetting something from a lapse in memory, and these lapses can increase as we grow older even without developing a disorder that causes or mimics dementia. The aids available for those with memory problems are mostly simple and cost-effective. From colour coded pill sorters so that you don’t miss out on crucial medication, to keeping a diary or noticeboard somewhere where you will see it every day, will aid memory.

A simple solution is to set an alarm or a reminder on your phone or computer to remember important appointments. Check out this useful article on memory aids to help those with memory problems.

These are a few solutions that can help with problems due to old age. What aids do you think you would you find personally useful as you grow older?


* In collaboration with Pro Rider Mobility.
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Sunday, 22 July 2018

Win Unusual Cufflinks From Off The Cuff Ends 21/08

It can be difficult at times buying a perfect gift, especially for men. Well, why not a pair of cufflinks from Off The Cuff? Off The Cuff sell unusual cufflinks from their Etsy shop online. 





The owner of the shop Pete started making and selling cufflinks in 2010 as a creative outlet from his day job. Since then his Etsy shop has grown well and sells over 170 different cufflinks. From fidget spinner cufflinks to silver meteorite cufflinks to watch movement cufflinks, you know that if you buy a pair of cufflinks, they will be unique and no one else will have the same. 





The watch movement cufflinks are made from vintage mechanical watches, some up to 50 years old. The watch parts are carefully cleaned and polished and set in epoxy resin which protects the movement and the dome concentrates light which really makes the detail stand out. So unusual and different, don't you think?

At the moment Pete has a Kickstarter campaign running to buy equipment to make the process of creating the cufflinks easier, check it out.  For a little over £20 you can get a pair of these cufflinks if you pledge on the Kickstarter campaign.




Today on my blog you can win a pair of the prototype cufflinks made for the Kickstarter project, perfect as a graduation gift, or birthday present.

Entry is via the Gleam application below. It's straightforward to enter honestly, just register, leave a blog comment and click on the ways you wish to enter. Why don't you bookmark the page and come back for a daily entry? Good luck!

Win a pair of cufflinks with Off The Cuff
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How To Make The Most Of A Small Bedroom


Many of us live in a small space these days. Houses are more expensive than ever and space in cities is at a premium.

You may even be renting a bedroom and have shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, so it's important to make the most of the space available to you. Here are some ideas to make the most of a small bedroom.

Decorate in light colours




Use light colours on the walls to make the space look bright and airy. Avoid elaborate drapes, as simple blinds without fuss will add some chicness to the room and not look overly fussy.

It doesn't have to be all white though, tones of blues, greens and beige can all be used to create interest, just use bright colours sparingly for example on a duvet or scatter cushions and not on the walls.

Utilise lighting effectively

A small room can benefit from lots of lighting. Think of different ways to light the room, such as a mix of table lamps, downlights, uplights and spotlights for all purposes. 

You can then take the room from a working space to a cosy chill out space in next to no time. 

Be multi-functional





There are some cool multi-functional pieces of furniture around such as ottomans that can store bedding as well as being a seat or footstool, and sleek desks that also have shelving.

A small double divan bed with mattress and headboard can fit into the space perfectly whilst the under bed storage is useful for hiding away items you don't want on display.

Consider fitted units

Floor to ceiling fitted units can be a godsend in a small space. If you can't afford that what about making your headboard into drawers like in this article? Source a workman locally and you will get something unique for your home.

Mirrors can create an illusion


The old trick of using mirrors strategically can add an illusion of space and make it look as you have double the area. The bigger the mirror, the bigger the space will look. 

Fitting a mirror on a wall can work the best but having a free-standing mirror can also work if you are renting and can't attach anything to the wall. 

Curtains aren't just for windows

You can use curtains to divide a room, whilst giving some privacy too. Curtains can also be used to create a dressing area or divide a dining area from your sleeping area.

Wall mount your TV


Wall mounting your TV is a simple and effective idea that we expect in hotels these days so why not mount it on the wall? Again you may have to check if you can do this if you are renting but this is perfect when making the most of a small space as there is no need for a TV stand taking up room. 

While you are at it, think about subscribing to a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime too, and do away with the clutter of your old DVDs.

For more ideas about making the most of a small space, check out my article on storage solutions to get the most out of your small space

Do you have any ideas on how to make the most of a small space?

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Friday, 20 July 2018

Driving The Great Ocean Road Australia

The Great Ocean Road in Australia is one of the most scenic and unforgettable road trips in the world. The beautiful coastline is just breathtaking and this is what makes the Great Ocean Road a memorable experience. In this post, I will talk about driving the Great Ocean Road in Australia and the must-see stops along the way. 

First a little about why we love road trips.

We adore road trips. Exploring the wide open spaces, seeing the beauty of the coastline, stopping in little towns and exploring and going off the beaten path are some of the reasons we love it so much. The world is a huge place and a road trip is a great way of seeing more of it. You also have an amount of freedom on a road trip, things aren't generally so scheduled, so if you see that instagrammable spot or that idyllic beachside cafe, you can stop and take it all in.




We've driven around the American deep south from Memphis to Nashville, along the Pacific Coast Highway in California and around the Golden Circle, the south and north of Iceland. So when Mr W suggested we travel to Austrailia and drive around the country then, of course, I said yes.

Austraila is a huge country and there are some great road trips to take, but we decided to focus on the Great Ocean Road,  as one of the most scenic drives in the whole of Australia.  





The Great Ocean Road is a 151 mile (243 kilometres) stretch of road along the south-east coast of Australia between Torquay and Allansford. Built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, the road is the world's largest war memorial.


Firstly preparation is key for a road trip. Choose your car or motorhome well.

A car should be comfortable to drive and have air conditioning, a convertible may seem glamorous but you need to weigh up the pros and cons such as where will you put your bags and don't forget your sunscreen if you hire a convertible. Some towns may be small and not have a lot of accommodation so it's always worth booking ahead especially in peak season.

With a motorhome you will have your place to stay with you at all times, however, you may not be able to park anywhere you like, so plan out the campsites in advance. You can buy a used motorhome here which may be worth it if you are travelling across Austrailia for a few months.

So you have got your wheels sorted, packed your swimsuit and your sunscreen and now it's time to plan the stops along the way of the Great Ocean Road in Australia. Here are some of the key towns to visit along the drive.

Torquay




The Great Ocean Road officially starts in Torquay (not the British one), a town famous for its surfing culture. The brands Rip Curl and Quiksilver were founded here and it has a surfing museum called Surf World, about surfing culture.

It's also close to Bell's Beach made famous by the film Point Break and every year Rip Curl hold their pro surfing competition here.

Lorne



Lorne is a picturesque town known for its arts community. While you are here stop by at Qdos ARTS with its gallery and sculpture park. Mountjoy Parade has many shops and cafes so why not stop for coffee and cake and watch the world go by.

Drive to Teddy's Lookout for a spectacular view of the Great Ocean Road over St George River and the coast. Close by are Angahook-Lorne State Park and the gorgeous Erskine Falls set among ferns.

Kennett River



Kennett River is a small seaside town 17 miles from Lorne. It is famous as it's one of the best places in Austrailia to see koala bears in the wild. Turn into Grey River Road, off the Great Ocean Road, and along the first two kilometres of the road, look up and you should be able to spot koalas in the eucalyptus. Also look out for king parrots, rosellas - a type of parrot and kookaburras. 

Watch out for dolphins and seals along the coast and magnificent whales from May to September. 

Apollo Bay



Apollo Bay is a small seaside town known for the Apollo Bay Music Festival every April as well as the Great Ocean Sports Festival. It has shops, cafes and restaurants and is a great place to stop along the way.

Close by is Cape Otway with Australia's oldest lighthouse as well as rainforests, streams, rocky cliffs and sandy beaches. Cape Otway was originally inhabited by the Gadubanud people, indigenous Australian people from Victoria and evidence of their campsites is contained in the middens throughout the region.

Port Campbell




Port Cambell is a small town known for the Twelve Apostles. These huge limestone structures tower up into the sky with a backdrop of limestone cliffs.

Whilst in town take a walk on the Port Campbell jetty and then head inland to the Kanawinka Geotrail comprising of volcanic lakes and craters. This volcanic plain is the largest in Austrailia and the third largest in the world.



Pin for later

As you can see there are lots to see and do along the Great Ocean Drive, some amazing wildlife to encounter and beautiful coastal points. 

For more about the Great Ocean Road check out the official Great Ocean Road website and for more information about the best places to visit in Australia check out this guide.

Let me know, do you like road trips? Would you drive the Great Ocean Road in Australia?

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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Being A First Time Driver

Do you remember your first time? Your first time driving that is! I must admit it was a few years ago now for me, but I still remember the excitement of passing my test and then the minefield of buying a car, getting insurance, driving on the motorway for the first time and all the rest.




My first car was a Ford Fiesta. I saved up for it for about 18 months and it cost me £1000. I loved my little car.   Of course, there has been the odd bump along the way, I even skidded on ice and drove my car into a hedge, I was lucky that the car didn't turn over! My next car was a Peugeot 205. I only had it three months and it was stolen. That was my first heartbreak. Not a boy.

Over the years I have learnt some things about driving, like seriously don't skid on ice. Today on my blog I am sharing some tips on how to make your life easier as a first-time driver, from someone who has been there.

Passing your test



Preparation is key.  Get a driving instructor that you feel confident with, perhaps ask around family and friends for a recommendation, but if you don't feel comfortable with them, don't be afraid to change. I changed mine.

Before you start driving ensure you have an up-to-date eye test and that you wear glasses or contact lenses if need be, then practice, practice, practice. Practice driving and also the theory paper so you are ready to pass your test.  

If you don't pass the first time, it's not the end of the world, have some more practice and apply for your test again. If you leave it too long you may lose confidence.

Buying your first car




Buying and running a car is expensive. There is car tax, MOT and servicing, petrol costs and car insurance to consider. You can, however, do some things to keep costs down. 

Firstly buy a car that is economical to run which is especially important if you are driving a lot of miles. You may need to balance the comfort of a slightly bigger car with the economy of a smaller car. 

Swot up on car tax and buy a car in a low car tax band to save money.  If you are looking for cheap petrol, supermarkets are often the best, but to take the guesswork out of it, download the Petrol Prices app to compare prices locally.

Insurance




Car insurance for a first-time driver can be expensive but there are some ways to bring the cost down.

Firstly, there are three different types of car insurance - third party only, third party fire and theft, and fully comprehensive and you need to understand the differences. Then shop around online to get the best rates. Adding a second responsible driver, with more experience may cut the cost. 


Some sites like Aviva will have a driving app that will monitor your driving skills and help you save money on your insurance. It also comes with an integrated dash cam to record any incidents so this can help support you in a legal claim too. Genius!

Rules of the road




Of course, when you have passed your test sometimes bad habits kick in. 

Only a fool breaks the 2-second rule - if you are of a certain age you may remember this advert, which means keep 2 seconds between you and the driver in front. Especially important when driving on the motorway. Also in wet weather conditions, your stopping distance will be further, so leave more braking distance. 

Ignore your phone!  Do not be tempted to answer it when driving. It's illegal to use your phone whilst driving and the sound of it will distract you so keep it on silent when driving. The only time I would look at my phone is if I am using it as a Sat Nav. It can be useful in that circumstance.

You can get 'P' plates to make others aware you are a new driver and it may help them become more considerate. 

You can have special lessons to help with your confidence driving on the motorway and if you are nervous having calming music playing quietly may help - its worth a try. As you gain experience you will become more confident and start to enjoy driving. 

Drive with consideration of others on the road and you won't go far wrong. Enjoy being a first-time driver!

*PR collaboration with Aviva


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Monday, 16 July 2018

The Feathers Hotel Woodstock Cotswolds Review

Imagine the most idyllic Cotswolds location, with cute little restaurants, antique shops and a deli selling local meats and cheeses, and this is where the Feathers Hotel is located, in Woodstock England. 

The Feathers Hotel is one of those hotels you may stumble upon but is a well-kept secret, the sort of hotel you don't really want others knowing about as it's just too perfect and you want to keep it all to yourself.



It's not always easy to find a traditional country hotel which mixes traditional decor with modern facilities but the Feathers hotel manages to do just that. 


Check in was swift and the receptionist welcoming and polite. The hotel is decorated like a modern version of a country house hotel - I personally loved the decor and immediately thought Kirsty Alsop would be very happy here!



We were shown to our room on the top floor. Stairs were winding and due to the fact that this is a 17th-century building then there is no lift, but it was so worth it. Our suite was huge!

The suite was a collection of three spaces, a dining area, lounge area with a toilet, and a separate bedroom with an ensuite bathroom. 


The dining area was big enough for six to sit around. There was also a tea and coffee tray with kettle and a phone in here.


The lounge area was very comfortable, with two chairs, a sofa, small table and footstool. The TV was a smart TV which is always nice to have to play YouTube.



There was a dark wood dressing table here and mirror. Always useful to have a dressing table in the room, and plug sockets were next to it so you could plug in a hairdryer. Bottles of water were provided.



It was great to have a second toilet with wash basin and mirror, as Mr W always hogs the bathroom getting ready in the morning!




The bedroom was through a set of doors which added privacy.






The bed was a king size and was super comfy. Mr W jumped on it to test it out, he's a big kid at heart, even though he looks like an old prune (only joking).

The bedroom had air conditioning which was really appreciated on one of the hottest days of the year. There was also a fan in the lounge if required.




I was impressed that the bathroom was super modern with a shower, separate bath, toilet and sink. Some things you want modern and up-to-date don't you? Fluffy robes added a nice touch and complimentary toiletries were provided, as well as cotton wool and cotton buds.

What you can't really comprehend from the photos was the size of the suite which must be the biggest hotel room I've stayed in, in the UK.


So we decided to have a wander. Downstairs there is a lounge area, a dining room and also a bar.



As you can see it was all decorated in rich colours, giving a feel of heritage and luxury.



The small bar was jam-packed full of gin! They make a point of stocking over 400 gins and have a place in the Guinness book of records for offering the greatest selection of gins on the planet.  





If you don't like gin though, don't panic, as the wine list was more than adequate too, I had a lovely Sauvignon Blanc by the glass. and with a decent selection of spirits then all your liberation needs are met.



The dining room was again decorated in rich colours and was impeccably set out.



Love this quirky display in the dining room of stacked china, it reminded me of something out of Alice in Wonderland.

So we went back to our room to freshen up and returned downstairs for dinner at 7.30PM.  When we checked in the receptionist (Monica?) suggested we take our dinner in the outside courtyard, so we decided to do just that.


The outside courtyard is a really lovely area to have drinks or a meal. Service was attentive from Flavio. 



We ordered a gin cocktail to start then looked over the menu. 



The menu had a wide range of items from fish and chips and steak, to pork belly and lamb as well as a vegetarian option.



I had rollmops (pickled herrings) on the nibbles section to start. They were good with a mild horseradish cream inside, and tasted strongly of the pickled vinegar, but exactly as they should be. 


Mr W ordered the Ceasar salad which came with chicken. I felt the salad would have been better without the chicken as it was so tasty on its own and the chicken didn't add anything to the dish.



For mains, Mr W ordered a tagliatelli of broccoli and artichokes with a Roquefort sauce and I ordered plaice, brown shrimps, cucumber and dill new potatoes.

Both dishes were beautifully presented and looked very appetising. Although the fish was tasty in the dill sauce, the tagliatelli was amazing, so rich but utterly delicious, and the Roquefort didn't overpower the pasta either. 



But the best was yet to come, a sticky toffee pudding, with a light as a feather sponge, drowning in a sweet, sticky, moreish toffee sauce and accompanied with a tonka bean ice cream with hints of vanilla.  Possibly the best sticky toffee pudding I've ever had. Just outstanding.




To round off the meal, Mr W decided to have coffee which came with the most delectable petit fours. A light coconut sweet, a dark chocolate truffle and a fruity petit four, with mango and passion fruit flavours. The last petit four I popped in my mouth and had a cool little surprise, a topping of popping candy fizzed in my mouth and added a little touch that was just delicious.

So with full stomachs, we retired to bed. We slept well on the comfy bed and the next morning,  we came downstairs to have breakfast in the dining room.




There was a small continental selection of fruit, cereals, pastries and yogurt to start. You could order from the menu. 








Choices on the menu included a full English breakfast, poached or scrambled eggs, kippers, pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, smoked haddock and more. You could even order a glass of prosecco to go with your breakfast.


We helped ourselves to fruit and then the waitress came around and took our order for tea or coffee and also toast.  We ordered a full English breakfast and a bacon and mushroom omelette.



Mr W enjoyed his full English breakfast whilst the omelette I had well prepared, seasoned, light and fluffy. 



Our time was up at the Feathers hotel so with heavy hearts we packed our suitcases and headed home.


So was the Feather hotel perfect? Well, of course, nothing is. The suite was lovely but may not be to everyone's taste if you like minimalism. The building is old and they don't have a lift but it adds to the character. I couldn't really fault the food or the location in Woodstock, a charming little town by the entrance to Blenheim Palace. What I did notice though was that it felt like a real treat to stay here.


Check out the video Mr W made for the travel blog and YouTube channel we run together Fly Drive Explore.





Would I stay again? Most definitely. The Feathers is a hotel jam packed full of character, personality and vivaciousness. Staff were very well trained, and the food excellent. I would certainly stay again, and In fact, I am planning to take my mother-in-law here on a visit to the area. Highly recommended.

The Feathers
Market Street,
Woodstock,
Oxfordshire,
OX20 1SX
01993 812 29
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