8 Tips On How To Renovate A House On A Budget

Renovating a house is never easy and with budget constrictions, it can be even harder but here are some hints and tips on how to renovate a house on a budget to make your life easier. 

1. Find that perfect property

You may be renovating a property you already have or be on the lookout for an existing property to buy. If you are looking for a new property, an auction site is a great place to find a bargain. Be sure to look around the property beforehand, to ensure you know what you are getting into, you don't want to bite off more than you can chew! As long as it's structurally sound then you are winning.  Have a budget in mind for the cost of the property and renovations, give or take 10% and don't go over it, especially if you are buying to renovate and sell on in the near future. Online resources such as this DIY renovation guide can help in your planning and decision-making process.

2. Keep original features

It's best to keep as many original features as possible especially in a period property as this will help the resale value and keep the authentic period look. Timber floors, floor tiles, original doors and windows can all be renovated beautifully. Sand or stain original floorboards, clean tiles and replace broken ones. If the cost is prohibitive always try and get a sympathetic replacement, and avoid plastic doors and windows if at all possible in an older property.

3. Install central heating

Installing central heating or a new heating system will bring the property bang up-to-date. It's always a good idea to shop around to compare prices. Don't forget a bigger house will cost more on installation due to the number of radiators and pipework needed.  Get quotes in writing, detailing exactly what it covers so you can compare like for like. If you have the skills and knowledge to do it yourself you can save even more money but never attempt it unless you know what you are doing, as a botched job could cost you more in the long run.

4. Convert your loft space

A way of adding an extra room without huge building costs is to convert a loft.  A loft conversion can cost anything between £10,000 and £40,000 but adding a loft can add an extra 20% in resale value to your home as well as providing a much needed extra room in the house. Planning permission is not normally required too but always check. For more information check out this beginners guide to loft conversion

5. Rejuvenate or replace windows

Try to keep the original windows especially if its a period property as this will keep the authentic look and will help retain the resale value. It can be cost-effective to rejuvenate your windows by treating the wood, replacing the latches or replacing panes. However, if you have to totally replace your windows, think of the suitability of material and the style of the property. Many modern homes have UPVC windows, as they are cheap, durable and help with insulation. Older properties have wooden windows which can look great but can be drafty. It's important you get someone who can fit your windows properly, so get quotes from local specialists and go from there. 

6. Kitchen

Kitchen's can be revamped fairly easily. If your kitchen units are in good condition you can just paint the doors or replace them without all the fuss of stripping out the old kitchen and putting in a new one. Getting new lights can also make a difference and spotlights can add extra lighting for preparation or cooking areas. If your kitchen is small, free-standing furniture can provide extra storage space, check out IKEA for well-priced kitchen furniture. 

7. Don't forget the roof

Roof repairs are costly so it's worth repairing any damage as opposed to replacing it.  This isn't the time to do it yourself if you are not trained in this area. As well as the safety issue, you don't want a repair that goes wrong, that can let water in, so this is one area you definitely need to hire the best you can afford.  Recommendations are important so ask around in your local area.

8. Do the garden last 

Basics can be done at any time. Tidy up the garden, get rid of dead plants and weeds, mow the lawn and get rid of any rubbish. This will give kerb appeal. Any big overhaul, however, can be done last as this is not essential. Doing simple work yourself can keep costs down, or ask a friend or relative to help you out, in exchange for something you can do for them. Maybe you can do their shopping, teach them IT skills or make them a home cooked meal in return. If you have more complicated tasks to do, a gardener can be worth their weight in gold. 

So here are 8 tips on how to renovate a house on a budget. Do you have any tips? 

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3 Steps To A Healthy Relationship

Whether you’re in an existing relationship or about to enter a new one, we all want to enjoy the time we spend with our partner and maintain the correct balance of a healthy relationship. For couples who have been together for a long period of time, date nights and time spent together can slip away, but it’s important to not let this happen. Whether your relationship is new or old, it’s important to be open and honest with each other and know what makes one another happy. There are many factors that go into creating a healthy relationship, but whatever stage you and your partner are at, hopefully, I can share with you some of the many ways which help maintain the perfect balance.

Be honest with each other 

When it comes to the more intimate parts of a relationship, it’s really important you’re both honest with each other, especially if you’re entering a new relationship. Knowing how your partner feels about sex and the different forms of contraception, means you’re both on the same page and understand each other’s views. For both men and women, it’s important to use contraception and there are many professionals you can speak to about your options and places you can purchase them from, such as LloydsPharmacy. Sex and contraception isn’t something we should feel embarrassed about discussing with our partner, so it’s a subject we must be open and honest about.

Make time for one another

Spending time together is one of the most important parts of a relationship, especially if you live a hectic lifestyle. Family and work commitments can often get in the way of precious time spent together, but it’s important to set aside time for date nights. Whether it’s a trip to the cinema or cosying up on the sofa and ordering a takeaway, it doesn’t matter what you do together, it all has the same benefits. If you struggle to set time aside then enjoy your time together after the children have gone to bed or ask a family member to have them for an hour or two over the weekend. It really is important to not let your quality time slip away.

Speak about your problems

It’s a given that you both won’t always see eye to eye throughout your time together, that’s part and parcel of a relationship, but discussing your problems is a must. Whether it’s bickering or something more serious, it shouldn’t be something you both sit on and let bubble up inside you. Speaking about your problems means you can squash them, forget about the argument and move on. It’s understandable that forgetting what’s happened is sometimes easier said than done, but making sure both of you try is important and will hopefully solve the issue.

No relationship is perfect but we can all try our best to make it as healthy as possible. Above are just some of the ways in which you can make this happen, but finding out what works best for the both of you is the ideal solution. By following the steps mentioned and getting to know your partner, you’ll be on your way to creating and maintaining a happy relationship.

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What Types Of Flowers Make Up An English Garden?

Sloane and Sons Garden Benches are an inspiring contribution to an English Garden. It is an excellent way to sit and smell the flowers – but what is an English Garden?

What is a typical English Garden?

Well, the fashion of the English Garden was created by the landscape architect Capability Brown, who designed well over 100 parks and gardens in England. The English Garden is a mixture of luxurious planting and formalised architecture. You would expect to see walled gardens and topiary, spans of manicured lawns and the odd archway. However, in contrast to this formal structure and focus on control – the very picture of English – the planting is random, and some would say untidy.

The tip with an English Garden is to not get fooled by what appears like random and ill-considered planting. The planting of flowers in the English Garden is as considered and well-designed as the sweeping lawn. Random beauty does not come without planning, careful choice and skilled placement and planting.

What types of flowers should you choose for your English Garden?

With the right mix of perennials and annuals, with the odd accessory added, you can create the style of the English Garden. The most important choices are what should be in your perennial borders. The annuals you choose will simply fill in the gaps. Here are the ten essential perennials for your English Garden.


It is not essential for the English Garden to include a rose – but if you aspire to the cottage look then you would want to include these classic flowers. Roses are notoriously high maintenance flowers, but they do repay you with a beautiful display. If you want roses that show all the summer through then you need to go for repeat-flowering roses such as The Times, which is a vibrant red flower, or the Pat Austin rose if you want a more delicate coppery orange.


In direct contrast to the high-maintenance rose, the daisy could not be easier to initiate and maintain in your garden. They show from spring, even when there is still the chance of a light frost, all the way through the summer. They are easy to grow from seed, division or from nursery stock.


Lavender is one of those shrubs that helps to give the English Garden its chaotic appearance. With purple fronds spouting from all directions. The lavender is renowned for its fragrance and its ability to attract bees and butterflies. You won’t need to maintain lavender – just water deeply and prune in spring or at harvest time.

Lilly of the Valley

The perfect thing about an English Garden is the fragrance – an important part of this fragrance is Lilly of the Valley, a flower that has long been the inspiration for perfumes. It is an excellent groundcover plant – best planted in moist, humus-rich soils. It will spread quickly – and along with lavender – add to the carefully crafted chaos that is an English Garden.

Chrysanthemums tend to flower from mid-summer until the frosts of autumn. Coming in a variety of colours, you can arrange bursts of bright blooms. They need a sunny but relatively sheltered site – and the soil needs to be well-drained. Once planted, make sure you water them generously for the following two weeks until established.


Peonies are wonderful for cutting, as they create big scented flowers. When planting these bursts of colour, you need to give them full sun – but somewhere where it won’t get too hot in the summer. The soil should be well-drained and preferably neutral to alkaline. The classic English Garden has pockets of shrubs – so you would be best seeking out herbaceous peonies such as Bowl of Beauty or La France.


You would choose primroses to get some early blooms in your English Garden. These delicate flowers punch above their weight – as they still bloom even in the dark and when the ground is frozen. You can grow these are annuals or perennials – but they offer some cheerfulness to your space.


The power of the violet is to send the message of your heart to your loved one. Plant a white violet and you speak of your innocence. If you offer a white and purple violet, then your thoughts are completely occupied with love. There are nearly 600 species of violet – so you have a lot of choice for communicating your feelings.


If you choose the Hensol Hareball then you will be adding an erect herbaceous perennial that can grow up to 90cm. This offers some much-needed height to your borders. These flowers will bloom in the late summer and last into Autumn – with divided purple leaves and violet-blue short hooked spurs for flowers.


These are spiky, woody plants that can grow up to four feet tall. They will add colour and texture to your borders. They are beautiful flowers – with clusters of pea-like purple flowering blooms densely clustered on stalks. Don’t panic when you plant your lupine seeds, in the first year they will not bloom until late summer or autumn. If you want summer blooms, then you will need to start the seeds indoors.

Making your English Garden perfect

Remember the point of an English Garden is to create a sense of planned chaos. This is harder than you would imagine. Obviously, you need to first find your place for your Sloane and Sons Garden Benches – and then from here, you decide where you are going to position your sweeps of colours. You will need to consider the timing of the blooms – to make sure there is colour from early spring to late autumn – and you need to think about offering height and texture. By placing a mixture of these plants in exactly the right place – you will get the perfect English Garden of your dreams.

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How to Get Under The Skin Of The Unique City-State of Macau

If you’re a fan of discovering hidden gems, look no further than the tiny island city-state of Macau. It is an autonomous administrative region of China, able to adopt legislation as a result. New legislation in Macau’s post-millennium era has transformed the peninsula into one of the gaming capitals of the world, but there are much culture and architecture to explore, too.

A former Portuguese colony overtook by Portuguese seafarers who wanted closer trade links between Europe and the Far East, the most charming aspect about Macau is that it’s one of the few destinations where western influences fuse with the Asian way of life. Foodies that want to understand the Macanese cuisine will be enchanted by its simplicity. Macau’s street food culture is the ideal place to start. In fact, some of its street food is so impressive that it has been rated by Michelin.

Macau’s Portuguese egg tart is possibly the jewel in the crown. These baked goods with their delicious egg custard in the middle, complete with crispy crème brûlée topping, are a wonderful mid-morning treat while wondering the back streets of the city.

The city’s other signature street food snack is the pork chop bun, which is soft and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. These varied textures are what make them so special. Keep your eyes peeled to some of the local stores in the Taipa suburb from about 2 p.m. daily when they appear fresh from the oven. Most visitors to Macau liken the buzz around the pork chop bun to the western hamburger in its convenience and popularity.

You don’t have to spend a dime to marvel in the Macanese architecture throughout the city. The beating heart of the city is Senado Square, which is adorned with ornate Portuguese mosaics and murals, along with a majestic water fountain. Formerly the civic centre of Macau, many of the buildings around the square used to be government-run and boast impressive colonial structures of all colours. If it’s colours and history you’re after, no visit to the city would be right without exploring its Chinese temples.

The A-Ma Temple is the best place to understand the fables and legends of Chinese heritage here. If you’re fortunate, you might be able to time your visit with one of the Temple’s colourful festivals or celebrations.

If the hustle and bustle of city life prove too much, the beauty of Macau is that you can escape to its coast for a relaxing day at the beach. The unmistakable Hac Sa Beach is one of the most unique you’ll ever visit, thanks to its rare black sand. It’s due to the raft of minerals that have washed ashore here from the seabed. However, the black sand is steadily replaced by typical golden sand due to soil erosion, so we’d recommend you take a trip to Hac Sa soon before it loses its original appeal.

Finally, did you know that Macau has become the epicentre of gaming in the entire world? Before the turn of the millennium, the city’s casinos were part of the region’s seedy underbelly, operated by gangs and dangerous criminals. However, new regulations from the Chinese government helped to clean up the city’s casino scene for the better. It now turns over four times the amount of gaming revenue as Las Vegas, although it’s difficult to rival Vegas as the world’s overall entertainment capital. If you fancy a slice of contemporary Macanese culture for one night only, you could head to one of the downtown casinos and explore the neon lights, infectious music and vibrant crowds at The Venetian Macao — the largest in the world in gaming floor space.

Of course, if you’re new to the concept of playing casino games or the mechanics of how slot games work, you could always learn en route to Macau by playing a mobile casino app on your smartphone or tablet. Mobile casinos are one of the easiest and fastest ways to play casino games and video slots today, and some casinos even offer welcome bonuses so that you don’t even need to deposit real money to play from the word go.

Although Macau is the most densely populated city on the planet, there is still plenty of opportunities to unwind and experience life like a local. Macanese life can’t be all that bad when you consider life expectancy here is the fourth-highest on the planet. With political stability and a proud colonial history, it’s easy to see why increasing numbers of travellers are flocking to the shores of the Macanese peninsula. Macau is one of the best Asia destinations, I hope you enjoy your Asia vacation!

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10 Secrets Of Healthy Ageing

I hate to tell you this but old age creeps up on the best of us. With so many of us living until the age of 80 and beyond, most of us want to live a long life but a healthy life too. So I've scoured some of the research and came up with 10 secrets of healthy ageing, so you can live your best life. 

1. Keep physically active

Regular exercise has a whole host of benefits for the body. As well as being good for the heart, reducing heart disease, and the chance of stroke and diabetes, it has also been shown to improve memory and thinking skills. This study by Harvard found that if you walked briskly for one hour twice a week your memory and thinking skills can improve. Exercise also improves mood, and reduces stress and anxiety. The trick is to find an exercise you enjoy and stick with it. You are never too old to take up exercise after the age of 50, 60 or beyond!

Weight-bearing physical activity is important too. This can reduce the rate of natural bone loss that occurs after the age of 35, so important to women especially. Aim to do exercises such as brisk walking, exercising with resistance bands or using a cross trainer twice a week.

2. Eat your 5 a day

Fruit and vegetables are a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Fibre helps prevent constipation and bowel cancer, and vitamins and minerals are the nutrients your body needs to work properly and stay healthy. If you find it hard to get your 5 a day, try incorporating homemade vegetable soups and fresh fruit smoothies into your diet on a regular basis as well as fruit juice which can count as one of your 5 a day. 

There are many ways of getting fruit and vegetables into your diet, why not try a meat-free day every week to encourage you to be creative in your use of fruit and vegetables? Buy a plant-based cookbook and try it out! Or could also consider going vegan as a healthy plant based diet has many health benefits. 

3. Choose fats wisely

All fats aren't created equally, so avoid saturated fat as much as you can as it can contribute towards heart disease instead use polyunsaturated fat (sunflower and rapeseed oil) and monosaturated fats (olive oil) in your diet.  

There are many benefits of eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, trout, or mackerel, and try and eat twice weekly or consider taking an omega-3 supplement.

4. Don't drink too much and avoid smoking

Smoking contributes to heart disease, osteoporosis, emphysema and stroke. If you are a smoker, you can repair some of the damage though, so it's not too late. There are many things such as nicotine patches, nicotine chewing gum and vaping that can help you quit and reduce the risk of smoking to your body. Many DR surgeries can prescribe treatments and give advice to help you stop.

Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, liver disease and more. To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. There are many things you can do to reduce your alcohol intake such as having some drink free days every week, having a soft drink between your alcoholic drinks, and trying mocktails instead of cocktails.

5. Be careful in the sun

Aim to get a healthy balance between getting enough vitamin D from the sun and taking precautions to protect your skin from the sun. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones so if you are housebound ensure you have a Vitamin D supplement in your diet. This can be a specific vitamin D supplement or a women's multivitamin.

The sun can cause skin cancer so be sure to put on sun cream of an appropriate factor. From March to October in the UK, spend time in the shade between the hours of 11am and 3pm, and cover up with appropriate clothes, including a hat and sunglasses. For more advice check out the NHS site here.

6. Socialise

We are social creatures, and having a group of friends around you helps improve the feeling of well-being. Try and meet up with friends on a regular basis. It's never too late to create new friends either, why not join the University Of The Third Age and learn something new whilst making new friends?

Local magazines and newspapers are great to find out about courses and your local education authority will run courses to learn new skills. 

7. Be mentally active

People who stay mentally active with hobbies, interests and volunteering often say they feel happier and healthier and learning new skills may help improve your thinking ability too.  Why not take up a new skill, such as sewing, photography, dancing or crossword puzzles. It's never too late to take up something that's mentally stimulating. 

8. De-stress

We've talked about how exercise can improve well-being and reduce stress but doing what you love can also help reduce stress levels too, so interests and hobbies are so important as you get older. 

Yoga and meditation have also been shown to help you de-stress. Yoga is brilliant for suppleness too and movement.  Check out local groups around you if you want to start yoga, whilst meditation techniques can be learnt online, which is brilliant if you do not have transport.

9. Look after your teeth

Looking after your teeth, by brushing twice a day and using floss and mouthwash is important to prevent tooth decay as we know, and help prevent the use of dentures, but did you know that research has been carried out that shows brushing your teeth could prevent a heart attack

It's important to get regular dental check-ups, with your Dentist in Kenniwick for example, as this can spot tooth decay and gum disease as well as signs of oral cancer. If you are on certain benefits you can also get free NHS dental treatment too.

10. Take regular health checks

Last but no means least, take regular health checks. Taking regular health checks is so important as if you have any physical or mental health problems they can be spotted at an early stage and treated before they get worse. A company like BetterHelp can provide counselling services if you are housebound. You can also get a free NHS health check every 5 years after the age of 40 so be sure to take it up. Also, consider private health care as a backup plan, if you live in the US check out the Medicare Advantage plans 2021.

This article is just a guide and a summary of current articles and research from respected sources. Always take your doctor's advice. 

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How To Teach A Dog To Walk On A Leash

In most cases, dogs are adorable animals yet often they can be a handful especially when they are puppies.

As a dog owner, you have to have enough energy to keep up with your pet. One of their favourite things is, of course, walks. During these walks, they have the opportunity to run, to be active and socialize with other animals. It is always a great experience for them which they enjoy.

However, these walks can also be problematic for young pups. They are full of energy, always restless and willing to explore. Unfortunately, you cannot simply allow your dog to roam around. It needs certain social boundaries and the ability to adapt to its human environment.

This is why leash was invented.

A leash will limit the dog’s movement allowing you to control it better. Unfortunately, it is also a very unnatural item for puppies and they don’t know how to behave while on it. They will start pulling and pulling even if it chokes them.

As an owner, you need to teach your puppy how to walk on a leash. Here are some tips that will help you do it the right way.

Leash training basics

Leash training basics are very similar to other forms of training.

The first thing you need to do is create a hierarchy. Although puppies naturally listen to people around them, you need to make sure they will listen to you in particular and know that you are the boss. This can be a problem if you have a bigger family and everyone performs a different task.

You have to be authoritative and the puppy has to understand there will be repercussions if it doesn’t listen to you. When talking about repercussions, make sure to avoid any type of physical punishment. Everything you do with your dog needs to be done with lots of patience and love; physical punishment will only distance the doge from you.

Then, you need to make sure that the message is always the same. Consistency is very important for any training as mixed messages are something you don’t need during puppy training. Try to use the same gestures and voice commands all the time and react as soon as something bad happens.

Now, let’s get to the practical side of things.

How should you train your dog?

Leash training starts as soon as the puppy is ready to go outside, but before you introduce it to the outside world, take a week or two to teach it some basics.

Walk around your house or backyard before going to a local park. At home, there are fewer things to distract your dog so it’s much better if it gets accustomed to a leash in a controlled environment.

Walk around with a leash on for at least 15 minutes each day. This will also get the puppy accustomed to the leash as an item. Bear in mind that dogs hate clothes of any kind; they feel most relaxed when naked and unobstructed in any way.

Once you’re ready, it’s time to go outside.

Most puppies will start pulling as soon as you step outside of the house. This can be very dangerous as the dog can even start choking. The best way to address pulling is by constantly changing directions. If a dog starts pulling in one direction, you simply turn around and go in another. Repeat this until puppy gets tired of pulling.

Sometimes, you can also stand still. This will tell a dog that you’re going according to your pace and that, no matter how hard it pulls, you will arrive at the destination when you want.

Lunging is another thing that can pose a problem. If a dog sees a bicycle, a passerby or some other dog, there is a chance it will lunge forward. Not only will this scare other person but can also lead to choking. Because of this, you have to find a way to distract your puppy. As soon as you notice it will lunge forward, call it by its name or do something else that will occupy its attention.


Leash training may seem scary but it is rather basic; you will learn it no time.
Just be patient, take your time and try to send messages that your puppy will pick up.

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UK Lingerie Underwear Review and Giveaway Ends 23/09

Bras and pants. They are pretty essential if you are a woman. We all have those faded pants in the wardrobe, our everyday pants, our greying bras and our knickers with no elastic, but sometimes only the best will do. Maybe you want to treat your partner to a glimpse of something sexy, or you want to splurge on a gorgeous set for yourself. 

The fit must be exacting. The bra straps must by comfy, the wiring must sit correctly and not cut in, and the cup must cover your boobs properly. There is something amazing about picking out a pretty bra and pants set and slipping it on to find it fits perfectly. It's a great sensation and can feel like a real treat. 

So where do you go for your luxury underwear? I must admit I am a fan of a certain high street store for my underwear but recently I was asked to try out the online store UK Lingerie and report back to my readers. 

UK Lingerie was started in 2015 by husband and wife team, Dawn and Jonathan who already had two successful sites - UK Swimwear and  UK Tights. Dawn and Jonathan spotted a gap in the market for a great online lingerie shop, selling quality products to women of all sizes. With a focus on excellent customer service, the company also like to cater for those bigger than an average C cup. When Dawn first set up the company she realised than women with curves didn't have that much choice so UK Lingerie likes to cater to us with more ample curves.

Ordering was easy on the website. You can search for brands you like, such as Gossard, Curvy Kate, Playtex and Wonderbra to name a few, or you can search for types of lingerie,  nightwear, bodywear, shapewear, activewear and new items in. Another way you can search is via colour, type, size and style. Shipping is from a very reasonable £3.50 too. 

I chose a set by French brand Maison Lejaby. Delivery was very quick and before long the packages arrived. 

The full cup underwired bra looked like it would give good support and I really like the navy colour which was described as Nuit Noir. 

Once on the bra seemed to fit well, the straps were wide enough and it was comfortable on.  The matching knickers I thought were a little small so personally, I would go up a size.

I really loved the detail on the bra, with the hatching effect and the pretty floral lace.

The pants were stretchy and the front panel had a satin feel, whilst the side lace added a feminine touch.

I really liked the matching Maison Lejaby full cup underwired bra and Maison Lejaby Gaby full brief. Priced at £49 for the bra and £32 for the brief, the set is certainly not cheap but you do get quality, with well-made seams, no loose cotton threads, and a comfortable fit. I would certainly order from UK Lingerie again and they seem to have some decent sales too.

Today on my blog you can win a £50 voucher to spend on the UK Lingerie site. With bras starting at £8 and briefs from £4 it's not just luxury underwear too. Entry is via the Gleam app below and if you like this competition you can come back for a daily entry so why not bookmark this page.  Don't forget to check out my other competitions when you are here too! Good luck. 

Win A £50 voucher for UK Lingerie

7 Of The Best Packing Tips For Moving House

So it's nearly time. You've found your perfect home and the moving date is looming, but you have to pack all your possessions and now your panicking. Yet packing to move house doesn't have to be that stressful.  Use these packing tips to help you move house and make the experience as smooth and stress-free as possible.

1) Who should pack?

Think carefully - are you going to do it yourself or employing a mover?  It will save you money if you pack yourself. If you employ a professional moving team it can save you time and be safer as they help people move on a regular basis. After all, time is money. You need to weigh up the pros and cons and make an informed decision. 

2) Have a strategy

Think about the time you have and what order you are going to do the packing in. Are you going to do bedrooms first, then work down the house? It's a good idea to pack the rooms you use less first, such as the spare room, garage, shed and so on. Perhaps clear some space and make one of your rooms a packing room.

3) Start in plenty of time

Don't forget to leave enough time to pack. If you have a large home two months before is a good time frame and if you have a smaller home leave at least a month. This is especially important if you work full-time or have a young family. Can you rope in friends and family to help you? 

4) Take less 

Think seriously about what you really need. This is the perfect time to declutter. Create four piles, one to sell, one for charity or to give to friends, one to upcycle and one to throw away. There are plenty of places to sell your items like the local Free Ads, car boot sales, eBay, If you have less stuff to take, you have less to pack. 

5) Packing material

You will need lots of strong boxes. If you are using a moving company they may provide these for you. If not, you can source them from places like Freecycle, local shops especially supermarkets, or buy them from packing companies.  Secure bottom and sides of boxes with packing tape, ensure you don't overfill so they are not too heavy and use bubble wrap to protect your items. Use resealable plastic bags for your bottles to prevent spillage. Fill empty space with old newspapers or material to stop things rattling around. 

6) Label, label, label

Be sure to label each box with the contents, the destination room and any special instructions like FRAGILE or 'THIS SIDE UP'.  Write on the side of the boxes in large lettering, so you can see the labels when the boxes are stacked. 

7) The essential box

This is the box that you want to take with you and not with the moving team if you are employing them. It should contain all the essential items like first aid kit, a kettle with tea, coffee, sugar or squash, non-perishable snacks, paperwork you will need such as bank details, contacts for utility suppliers, takeaway numbers and so on.

So there we go. I hope these packing tips help you, and you have a straight-forward and stress-free move. Have fun in your new home!

* PR collaboration 

Tips To Deliver An Epic Wedding Speech

Giving a wedding speech is a true mix of feelings, ideas, emotions, memories and most important of all – words.

Whether you are toasting your new bride, recounting your days with the daughter you have just seen married or doing your best to amuse the audience with previous tales of the groom’s adventures as a young man - a wedding speech matters.

More than any other speech, it becomes an integral part of everybody else’s memories of the day and an epic wedding speech will be part of the great rhythm of sights and sounds they recall when they look back on the event in the weeks, months and years to come.

Prepare to succeed

Gathering material for the speech can begin early, especially if you are party to the groom’s attempts at securing the perfect venue for the wedding. Chateau rental in France can be a mouthful in English, let alone Francais, and it would be amusing to get his recollections of when his French was suitably inadequate. Or what about that time when he went to Germany and ended up in a certain bar... well maybe not!

Even if public speaking is your idea of torture, the words are the most important part. There is a place in life for standard formula speeches but a wedding is not one of them. Even if the speech is halting, unfocused and too long it doesn’t matter as long as the words are personal, meaningful and heartfelt.

Your words are your own

The language should be your own as listeners will be able to tell instantly if you have taken words from elsewhere. You have been asked to speak because you are you; the least you can do is speak as you on the day. You will be happier and more confident using your own words.

The ambience and acoustics of a room also matter tremendously when speaking at a wedding. Mind your surroundings. If the wedding is outdoors or in a fine reception hall, your voice may not carry as far as usual so you might need to use a microphone or other AV equipment. Ask the venue if they provide them.

This is 2018 so don’t be afraid to use technology to help enhance your speech. If you need cue cards or slides then use your Smartphone or device so you avoid the risk of dropping them at an inappropriate time. If you are incorporating slides and video in your speech then your device can also be used as a discrete controller. Again, check with the venue for their policy in advance.

Taste is universal

Be aware of the audience and their tastes. The speech is for the occasion and for everyone, not your own or your friends' indulgence. Tales of the stag holiday might be hilarious to you and the groom but the bride’s parents? Discretion is the better part of valour and the speech can also be used to build and burgeon a reputation of integrity and discretion. Check with the principals if you unsure about any element. They might be perfectly happy to have you share their pet nicknames for each other in front of their nearest and dearest but they may not so ask.

God loves a trier it’s true but an overlooked part of trying is practice. Don’t wing one of the most important speeches of many people’s lives. The more you run through the words, the more familiar you become with the structure and cadence, the more you can improvise on the day if you need to.

An epic wedding speech is not plucked from thin air and spun from invisible thread. It is the result of effort, thought, inspiration and love. If your speech has these ingredients then it will be sure to be a success on any terms.

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How To Find A Hotel With The Wow Factor

When it comes to booking your dream holiday, everyone has their own idea of what makes a perfect hotel. Perhaps it’s awe-inspiring views, superb service and state-of-the-art facilities, or a unique location.

Whatever your preferences and tastes, there’s nothing like spending the night somewhere truly special. From easy-going beachside breaks to exciting city escapes, and peaceful alpine retreats, the world’s most impressive hotels and resorts come in all shapes and sizes. Looking for accommodation with the wow factor? Read on.

Glamorous beach resorts

If you’re in need of some rest and relaxation, nothing beats a glamorous beach holiday. Whether it's a cutting-edge hotel on Dubai’s sun-drenched coastline, an overwater villa in the Maldives, or a swanky seaside resort like the Hilton in the Carribean island of Aruba, staying just steps from swathes of pristine sand and sparkling sea is the epitome of luxury.

As well as stunning beachfront settings, many top-of-the-range hotels offer upgrades to make your experience even more sumptuous. For example, high-end holiday resorts in the Caribbean and Thailand offer some of the best swim-up suites in the world, where you can enjoy direct access to the pool from your room.

However, you don’t necessarily have to break the bank to enjoy this level of splendour. Many affordable coastal resorts in popular destinations such as Turkey and Greece come with standout features such as beach clubs, watersports, infinity pools and seafront spas without costing you a small fortune.

Outstanding facilities and service

For many travellers, a hotel’s service and amenities can make or break a holiday. After all, a warm welcome, friendly staff and access to top-notch facilities go a long way towards making your stay comfortable and convenient – and it may even have you returning year after year.

Of course, the standards you expect depend on your priorities and budget. While some people may need fine-dining restaurants and personal butler service for added wow factor, others may find that complimentary refreshments or a helpful concierge team are enough for an enjoyable stay, whilst some look for hotels with entertainment.  It also depends on whether you’re looking for All-Inclusive hotels, which usually include a choice of dining options, drinks and use of facilities in the overall price, or if you want a more tailor-made experience.

The easiest way to ensure you choose somewhere with great hospitality and amenities is by opting for a hotel with a four- or five-star rating. However, it may be that you prefer the intimate atmosphere and attentive service offered by boutique or independent hotels, in which case star rating may not be as important. Before you book, it's worth doing some research and reading reviews from previous guests to find the perfect place to suit your needs and tastes.

Visually appealing hotels

Sometimes, finding a fantastic hotel is as much about the outside as it is about the inside. Whether it's the opulent palaces of the Far East or the grand country mansions and fairytale castles of Europe, some buildings take your breath away before you’ve even set foot inside. We stayed in the Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees in Lake Maggiore Italy and were blown away by the grandeur. In today’s world of social media and camera phones, the visual appeal of the hotel is becoming a priority for the discerning traveller. Staying in a run-of-the-mill resort is no longer enough – guests now want their accommodation to be unique and aesthetically pleasing.

Places like Las Vegas and Florida are known for their extravagant and themed hotels, while European destinations like Greece and the Balearic Islands offer beautiful whitewashed resorts with plush interiors. For the ultimate in luxury and seclusion, far-flung destinations like the Caribbean and Asia offer picture-perfect thatched villas, rustic mountain lodges and jungle retreats that are made for the camera lens.

Spectacular views

From dramatic cityscapes to majestic natural wonders, some of the world’s most prestigious resorts come with show-stopping views. To find the most jaw-dropping vistas, look out for hotels with unique locations such as those nestled in jungles, perched upon cliffs and mountains, or towering high above city skylines. You can even stay in hotels which overlook some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Shard in London, the Taj Mahal in India, St Mark’s Square in Venice and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. We stayed at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, and as well as a view of the Las Vegas strip, we also had a canal in the middle of the hotel with gondolas!

When a hotel’s surroundings are its main selling point, you can also expect features such as floor-to-ceiling windows, private balconies, viewing platforms, and rooftop restaurants with uninterrupted views of the stunning scenery and beguiling sights. Make sure you bring along your camera so you can capture some envy-inducing snapshots during your stay.

Whatever it is that makes you say 'wow', there are many different aspects to a hotel that can enhance your experience and ensure you enjoy a truly memorable holiday. So what are you waiting for? Start your search today to find the perfect setting for your next trip.

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How to Save On Your Energy Bills

Energy bills are one of those expenditures that just seem to escalate every year, with energy companies inflicting huge price hikes and cold winters seeming to last an eternity. Throughout the summer, you will hopefully have been saving plenty of money on your heating bills but unfortunately, it will not be long before winter arrives again, so make sure that you are prepared this time and ensure that you are not wasting money that could be saved.

Here are some top energy savings tips that you could use both now and when it gets to the colder nights ahead.

Replace old windows

Windows are one of the places that you lose a lot of heat from your home, especially if there are draughts coming through. Getting new double glazed windows might be costly but they could result in considerable energy bill savings over the years. So get some quotes for window installation service if your current windows are not doing a great job at keeping your heat in.

Get a smart meter

If you have not already had one installed, getting a smart meter is a good idea because it will help you to monitor your energy consumption better. Understanding how much energy you use each day in monetary terms will help you to make better decisions around when you put the heating on and other energy use. You can also use your phone to control your heating if you have a smart thermostat, meaning that if you forget to turn it off you can do so even when you have left the house.

Shop around

Staying with the same energy provider for years will usually cost you more than if you do some research once a year to find out the best deals. Just like there are comparison sites for insurance policies and holidays, there are also comparison sites for energy suppliers. So take a look at the different rates that are currently available and make the switch if you can find a better deal.

Turn your thermostat down

Even a very small reduction in your thermostat temperature can have a really big impact on your bill. So make sure that you are wearing warm clothing in the home rather than cranking up the heating more on the cold days. You can also be more sensible with keeping doors shut in the rooms that you are using in order to keep the heat inside. Buying thermal curtains can also be very effective in preventing the loss of heat.

Buy energy efficient appliances

When it comes to buying a new washing machine or fridge, buying one with a high energy efficiency rating will also save you plenty of energy over time. Even if you have to pay a bit more for the appliance, you will soon make that money back in savings.

Be smart with your water

If you are on a water meter then it will definitely pay to be more careful about your water. Simple changes like not leaving the tap running whilst you clean your teeth or having a shorter length shower will see your water bills go down. It can be tempting to get the hosepipe out in the hot summer weather but it could end up costing you a small fortune filling paddling pools or watering the plants. You can try and collect rainwater to help with watering your plants instead of running the hosepipe, using a collection system or even just use some buckets in your garden to catch the rain ready to use in a dry spell.

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How to Design the Ideal Home Office

There are several factors you need to take into consideration when designing a home office. In simplest terms, you need to factor in the office equipment and the space available, to make an organised and efficient environment.

The lighting should be enough so that you improve your working experience. When it comes to choosing furniture, you should ensure you buy the right office chair which will allow you to sit for long without developing back complications. It is necessary to choose a location where you will incur few interruptions. At home, family members like to involve you in everything they do. To stay productive, you need to design the office in such a way you can eliminate noise among other interruptions from other family members. So let's discuss all this in more detail.

Buy the right office equipment

Working fast and efficiently is important to increase productivity, so why not utilise the right office equipment to help you with this? Try to invest in machines which employ the latest technology so that you can stay productive in your home office, For example, photocopiers can be extremely useful, and many can be used to scan documents or FAX as well, and label machines can be utilised if you have a number of packages to post every week. You can even print from your smartphone with the latest devices. It is necessary to compare different equipment available in the market so that you can buy the best your budget allows and use it in your home office.

You should also remember that the ergonomics of your office setup contribute to how comfortable and productive you would be. Consider any current issue that you have and find a solution for it. For example, here are some of the best lumbar seat cushions that will help if you experience back pain.

Install enough lighting

For your home office to serve you well, you need to invest in the right lighting. There are different lighting fixtures out there but try to go for those which will improve the aesthetic appeal of your office as well as provide enough light to allow you to enjoy your office space. Create an atmosphere with different types of lighting, suitable for people and for the task at hand. Daylight bulbs can help create a bright efficient work environment, and spotlights are great for a desk to see detail. Sometimes you may have to utilise a dark corner so invest in the right lighting which will not expose you to eye strains as you work in the office.

Check on privacy considerations

It is hard to stay productive in an environment full of noise and other interruptions. It will be easier for you to work and concentrate in a space that’s quiet and not distracting. For instance, choose a room where guests will not see you unless you get out of the office to welcome them. If you live with your family, why not get a sign to show you are working such as 'Do Not Disturb' or 'Work in Progress' and inform them they can only come in if it's urgent? Setting boundaries like this will help you get work done.

Design your office without any obstructions

Ensure the setup of your office does not expose you to accidents, and this is especially important if you have staff working for you or if you have young children around. For example, chairs and tables should be arranged carefully to allow space where people can pass easily. Avoid letting cables hang loosely which can entangle people as they enter the office. All computers and the printers should be installed in strategic places where they utilize the best available space in the home office and are out of the reach of young ones and pets. You can buy cabinets and shelves which you can use to keep you organised, think 'a place for everything and everything in its place'. A pinboard or memo board can be useful as well as filing cabinets, pen organisers and in and out trays.

Let me know, do you have any ideas on how to create the ideal home office?

*Sponsored post by House Tipster.