Sunday, 30 September 2018

Sunday Roast Cheat Sheet

Facing the task of cooking a Sunday roast for all the family can be daunting, especially if you’ve not done it before, but even the most experienced cooks can struggle to get every element of the meal just so. Cooking a roast dinner can take a long time, however, so whether you’re a beginner or are looking to perfect your Sunday roast technique, here are some tips to help you get it right every time when time is of the essence.

Planning the basics

Photo: Kacie Morgan The Rare Welsh Bit

Start with planning what ingredients you need well in advance to avoid dashing round the supermarket at the last minute. There’s much difference of opinion when it comes to what should be included in a Sunday roast. Roast potatoes are essential and if you haven't got the time to cook from scratch, McCain Roast Potatoes are a great substitute to have in the freezer.  

Here are what I think are the absolute essentials: 


Roasted meat
Roast potatoes
Vegetables
Gravy
Yorkshire puddings

General tips and advice



Make sure to buy the highest quality ingredients that your budget will allow – a Sunday roast isn’t something to be scrimped on!

Meat is the star of the traditional Sunday roast, so first decide whether you want chicken, lamb, pork or beef. Probably the most popular choice (it is mine) is beef. Make sure to ask your butcher for his recommendation on the cut and how best to prepare it. There is nothing wrong with buying a boned and jointed piece of meat like a crown of chicken or turkey to save time carving.

Next up are the roast potatoes. When you buy a bag that’s ready to cook, it’s as easy as just popping them in the oven, as they require no prepping whatsoever and come out perfect every time, so I recommend this little cheat. Otherwise, buy Maris Piper potatoes for the perfect roast, boil them for ten minutes, drain and shake them in the pan to get crispy edges. Pop them in the oven in hot oil for 45 mins to 1 hour, turning them a couple of times.

Seasonal vegetables are key to the most delicious roasts and I always want to see a colourful mix of broccoli, green beans, parsnips and carrots on my plate. To save extra time, peel your veg the day before and keep in the fridge.
Whether you like your gravy thick or thin, use the juices produced from the roasted meat for the most flavour. You can prepare the gravy whilst the meat rests.

Yorkshire puddings are another favourite feature of roast dinners and they go particularly well with beef. Ideally, prepare the batter the day before and store in the fridge, then take it out a few hours before cooking to warm up. 

Cooking tips


For most meat joints, you want the oven to be at 200°C (180°C fan) or gas mark 6. Per 1lb, pork and chicken will take 30-35 minutes to cook, with lamb and beef taking around 25 minutes. Rest for about 15 minutes after cooking and before carving.

I like to steam vegetables, as it’s considered the best way to lock in all the nutrients and flavour. Use a steamer or simply use the hob on a medium to high heat and most veggies will be cooked to perfection in around 10 minutes.

Gravy can be made from scratch with the juices of the roast meat or by using stock cubes for an easy cheat. The first method will take around 10 minutes to cook, with the second taking just a couple of minutes to make up. Nothing wrong with buying ready-made gravy too!

For the tastiest Yorkshire puddings, the most important thing is to make sure the fat you use is as sizzling hot as possible before you ladle the batter into the tin of your choice. Cook for 15-20 minutes at 230°C.  
Of course, you can also buy them ready made and they will take less than ten minutes in the oven then, pop them in when you take the meat out of the oven to carve.

Do you have any Sunday roast dinner tips?

*Collaborative post

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Saturday, 29 September 2018

Top Trends From London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week (LFW) is one of the biggest events in the calendar for designers, models and fashionistas everywhere. This article brought to you by Fulton Umbrellas gives you a rundown on all the upcoming trends.  Fulton Umbrellas, love staying on-trend and following London Fashion Week is one way of doing so. So, what were the highlights from September’s LFW according to Fulton Umbrellas?


Dare to diversify 

Everyone was eager to watch the Burberry show since the debut of the chief creative director Riccardo Tisci, newly appointed in March. Fortunately, it didn't disappoint. with models in a perfect blend of classic and contemporary outfits — ensuring this traditional British brand showed its power as a modern fashion powerhouse. 

Both high end and low brow fashion were featured including demure pussy-bow blouses, pleated midi skirts and elegant gowns, and bold graphic t-shirts with leather bottoms and overstated make-up at the other! Basically, go classic British — whether it’s chic and feminine 1950s or punky and rebellious 1980s! The William Morris collection is ideal if you want the vintage vibe.

Keep it minimal

Celebrating 2018 as her tenth year in the fashion industry, Victoria Beckham celebrated it in style with her stand-out collection at LFW. Beckham was applauded for her stunning range of loose-fit, beautifully chic and minimalist designs that looked effortless.

Using block colours set to be big in spring and summer next year — like baby blue and rust — she showed us how a simple pair of tailored trousers paired with a plain blazer and long t-shirt can work wonders. To enhance the simplistic-yet-powerful look, pair with a sleek black umbrella to stay on-trend in all weather.



The ruche appeal
If Molly Goddard’s collection is anything to go by, next season is all about ruffled clothing. Breathing life into a classic 1980s trend, ruffles on everything from skirt hemlines to shirt cuffs will be hugely popular. 

Wonderfully feminine and adding a touch of fun to an outfit, fill your wardrobe with ruched tops and pair them with tapered trousers to highlight the ruched outline. Or, go for a long, ruched skirt and wear a fitted blouse on top so you don’t go overboard on the ruffles! A retro, floral umbrella from Joules will look great with this style of outfit. 

Layers of embellishments 

Layering and embellished clothing were other top trends found across multiple catwalks at September’s LFW. Take Temperley London’s show, which featured models dressed in boxy jackets decorated with shiny metallics, dresses enhanced with tulle layering, and skirts featuring bird and leaf patterns. 

Sequins, shapes and colour reigned supreme at the Temperley London show — so why not bring the look into your style? Instead of plain shirts and tops, go for something with beaded embellishments or nature patterns in a lime green, electric blue or tangerine orange for a stand-out outfit that’s ideal for SS19. And when it comes to choosing a skirt or dress, keep your eye out for mesh and tulle — a satin maxi skirt with a cream netted fabric over the top looks beautiful. Since colour is an important part of this look, choose an umbrella from this Cath Kidston collection.

Edwardian styles

Our final top trend of LFW is the revival of Edwardian fashion. From lace dresses featuring chic high necklines to double-breasted blazers with a check pattern, Edwardian styles took over at the Erdem show.  

If you fancy following suit, keep your eye out for trouser suits, long skirts, frilled embellishments, puffed sleeves, and ultra-feminine frocks in soft, demure shades. Pair with simple court shoes and an umbrella from The National Gallery featuring a scene of a former, quintessentially British way of life and your style will be flawlessly in vogue!

These are the highlights of September’s London Fashion Week. Browse Fulton’s collection of quality men’s, women’s and kids’ umbrellas to complete your look.
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Friday, 28 September 2018

My Top 5 Luxury Bucket List Trips

I think I am right in saying we all like some luxury now and again in our lives. I've been lucky enough to cross some things off my bucket list as I have travelled extensively in the last few years. I've hiked a glacier in Iceland, taken a helicopter across the Grand Canyon and been to the top of the Empire State Building.

I know I have been lucky to have the time and the money to do these things. Now I want to do more. I think activities like this cannot be beaten. I'd rather be old and have no money in the bank but a life full of amazing experiences. So I've been thinking of some more things to do, so without further ado, these are my top five luxury bucket list experiences. 

1. A trip on the Orient Express



A trip on the Orient Express is the epitome of luxury. Elegant cabins with fine plush fabrics, glossy wood panelling and exquisite food, it's the train journey to take in style. A trip from London to Venice allows you to be enveloped in the beautiful countryside and you can watch the world go by, whilst you are spoilt with the food, all served with impeccable precision like a work of art. 

2. Stay overnight at the Burj Al Arab



The Burj Al Arab in Dubai is one of the iconic luxury hotels of the world. I've visited and was blown away by the jaw-dropping opulence of the hotel and the mouth-watering afternoon tea. It would be a dream to stay here and fly in with my private helicopter, landing on the hotels own helipad on the roof. A butler would take me to my room which starts at £1600 a night and spoil me by running my own bath. 

3. Explore and discover Yellowstone park 



I've wanted to go to Yellowstone since I saw a TV programme about the natural beauty of this US state park and the unusual landscape full of geysers and geothermal pools. To stay in a luxury lodge with a spa would be ideal, after a day of gentle hiking and exploring. To have a view like this from my hotel would be so relaxing.


4. Stay in an overwater bungalow in the Maldives



A stay in a luxury overwater bungalow such as those in the Baros resort in the Maldives would be an amazing luxury bucket list experience. They have 30 water villas beautifully set in a semi-circle lagoon filled with high-end amenities and a bathtub with a view of the sea. It's all about the service here as well as the location, and so it should be, with rooms starting at $1500 a night, click here to find out more about the Maldives.

5. Take a Christmas market river cruise down the Rhine



A river cruise screams luxury and I would love to go on a river cruise down the Rhine. The cruise that I would love to do, takes in the city of Cologne, with its Roman heritage, and ancient ruins, medieval Koblenz,  Heidleburg with its picturesque castle and ends in the chocolate box city of Basel Switzerland. Sitting on the boat, watching the world go by and being treated to four-course meals with matching wines would be such a luxurious trip. To do this at Christmas time, to see the Christmas markets would be fantastic.

So this is my top 5 luxury bucket list trips. Where do you want to cross off your bucket list?

*Collaborative posts
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How To Look Smarter

Some people give off an air of intelligence. You look at them, and you get the instant impression that they are smart. Of course, it might not be true. Sometimes, the person that you wouldn’t think of as an academic has a degree, loves a bit of classic literature, and takes a keen and intellectual interest in world news and events. While someone who looks like the smartest person in the room has never read a book. You should never judge a book by its cover, of course, and it’s always wise to remember that intelligence comes in many different forms.

However sometimes, looking smart can give you a head start. Turning up for a job interview, looking intelligent, can make the right first impression. It can also boost your confidence. If you are meeting a group of new people, or presenting a work project to colleagues, looking smarter can help you to feel smarter. You might find that by merely looking clever, you feel like you know what you are talking about, you enjoy the way that other people look at you, and you speak with greater confidence and articulation. So, if you want to look smarter, here are some great ways to do it.

Glasses



There’s something about glasses that makes everyone look and feel more scholarly. Stylish simple frames can make all the difference.  Glasses 2 You have some wonderful choices, and even if you don’t need a prescription, clear glass in sensible frames can work fantastically well. Glasses draw attention to your face and your eyes. People are more likely to listen to you in greater depth and focus on what you have got to say, and the passion behind your eyes, if you are wearing glasses.

Natural Makeup

Makeup is a fantastic way to highlight your natural beauty and to subtly change your look, depending on your mood, your outfit and what you are doing. But, if you want to look smarter, less is often more. Natural makeup, without too much colour, shine or too much going on around your eyes, means that people won’t be focusing on your makeup. They’ll be looking at you, and listening to what you’ve got to say, without distraction.

Speak Less, Listen More

Sometimes, when we are trying to impress people with our knowledge, we speak too much. We get carried away and try to tell them absolutely everything that we know.  So, learn to speak less but also learn how to listen, without interrupting. Then, ask insightful and interesting questions to show a keen interest in the subject.

Smile

People trust a smile. Smiling makes you look confident, clever, and approachable. People will listen to you, respect what you’ve got to say and trust your knowledge and opinions if you look them in the eye and smile at them.

Good Posture

Good posture improves your core strength as well as makes you look like someone that takes care of themselves and will make you feel confident too. If you are in a job interview, good posture can make you look like someone to be taken seriously and possibly more intelligent. It could even help you get that job.

So although there is no substitution for education, whether in a college or university setting or self-taught, here are some ways to help you look and feel smarter easily today.

*Collaborative post
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Thursday, 27 September 2018

Alternative Ideas For Your Honeymoon

These days, you don’t have to head to a Caribbean Island to enjoy your honeymoon. There are lots of different ways you can celebrate the start of your life together. You and your spouse are unique, so why settle for a traditional, generic honeymoon?

Here, you’ll discover some great alternative ideas for your honeymoon to help make it that little bit extra-special.

Why settle for one honeymoon when you can have two?



One of the most recent honeymoon trends is to take not one, but two honeymoons. Couples are starting to treat themselves to a mini-break before their actual honeymoon begins. However, we’re not talking about enjoying a mini-break and then jetting off to your main honeymoon destination. Instead, couples are having a mini honeymoon if they need to postpone their main honeymoon for a later date.

So, you could choose to book a small minimoon and then save up for an extravagant, longer honeymoon later in the year.

Travel in style and luxury



Your honeymoon isn’t just about the destination, it’s about the travel too! So, why not opt to splash out on your honeymoon by booking luxury travel? It could be a private jet to take you to your destination, or if you’re having a nearby honeymoon, why not opt for luxury car hire?

If you pay a little bit extra to travel in style and luxury, you’ll get off to a fantastic start on your honeymoon. You’ll feel extra-relaxed, refreshed and it’s something that will add to the honeymoon experience.

Head off on a couple’s road trip



A road trip may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of a honeymoon. However, there are ways to make it more romantic. Road trips can actually be an awesome way to spend your honeymoon, you just need to make sure you’re well prepared.

Why not book luxury hotels along the way to make it extra-special? You could also make it your mission to check out as many posh restaurants as you can along the way. Road trips can be as simple or as luxurious as you want them to be. You could even choose to hire out a luxury car to take you on the trip if you don’t want to use your own.

Consider Air BnB



When it comes to honeymoon accommodation, you may want to stray from the luxury hotels and couples’ resorts and book an Air BnB. Not only is this often cheaper, but you’ll also find a huge choice of unique properties you can stay at. They offer a home from home experience too so you’re sure to have an enjoyable stay. Tell the host you’re on your honeymoon and they may even throw in a special celebration package.

These are just some of the different ways you can spend your honeymoon. Whichever one you choose, all that matters is you get to spend quality time with your new spouse.

*collaborative post
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Wednesday, 26 September 2018

5 Ways To Complain Effectively

When it comes to spending our money, we want to be getting the best quality of product and the best customer service. When this doesn’t happen, it can be rather frustrating, especially when we have forked out our hard earned cash on such things. Some people are too shy to complain but to avoid others having the same experience, complaining is definitely something you should do.




However, complaining effectively can be quite stressful.  You want to be sure you are in the right and then know how to do it properly. So here are my five ways on how to complain effectively when something goes wrong. 

1. Know what you are talking about

Firstly know what you are talking about. Many companies will try to help you as best as they can - but some companies will try to get rid of you as quickly as possible and assume you don’t know consumer regulations. Read about the Consumer Rights Act 2015 so you know your rights before you make a complaint. 


2. Know what you want to achieve

For example, if you had a bad experience with something you bought before you ring or turn up in person at customer services 
you should know exactly what it is you want to achieve from the complaint. Sometimes companies offer you certain things to resolve the complaint as quickly as possible, such as a promise it won't happen again and compensation such as vouchers. Some people take these then find themselves feeling a little frustrated that they didn’t achieve what they set out to. Knowing how you want to proceed means you can continue until you receive your desired outcome. 

If a complaint is resolved properly, and the company goes above and beyond what they need to then it's always good to give feedback to their head office too. A site such as Head Office Finder will give you contact details for numerous supermarkets such as the Asda Head Office contact number.

3. Use a complaint sandwich

Putting your negative complaint between two positives often helps it become resolved and can let the person you are complaining to see where you are coming from. The sandwich is made of three main ingredients, the 'ear opener' to make the listener sympathetic to your cause, some 'meat' that includes your complaint and suggested solution, and finally a sweet-sounding 'digestive' to motivate the listener to advocate on your behalf.


4. Be polite

Whilst you may be very cross, being calm and polite usually resolves things sooner in my experience. Social media complaints are often littered with posts full of CAPS Lock, excessive punctuation - and often, shockingly, foul language. At the end of the day, the person you are speaking to usually hasn’t played any part in the situation you are complaining about and it isn’t fair to talk to them like this.  Remain polite and they will be sure to help you to the best of their ability. If you are rude and threatening, they may terminate communication which they are well within their rights to do.

5. Set a deadline

You don’t want your complaint to go on forever and you are entitled to an explanation, if not an apology, within a certain time period. When making your complaint, give them a deadline in which you want it to be resolved so they don’t keep dragging it on. With a deadline in place, you’ll often find things resolve in a satisfactory way.

Whilst us British people like to complain about the weather, sport and other things like that, it seems we are often reluctant to actually complain when receiving shoddy service. I hope these tips help you in the future when considering making a complaint.


*Collaborative post.
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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

What To Consider When Buying A Kitchen

One of the most common renovations people do in their house is the kitchen. I’m always seeing pictures on blogs and across social media of people currently in the process of renovation or showing off the finished project. New units, new appliances, new colour scheme. There are so many things that can be changed about a kitchen and it is amazing to see some of the transformations - some look like completely different rooms!


We ourselves only recently had our kitchen redone so I think I am well versed on the things you need to consider when buying a kitchen. It is a big project to undertake and isn’t exactly cheap so you need to know exactly what you are doing before jumping right in.

Your Budget

It is amazing how many people go searching for the perfect new kitchen but haven’t considered their budget and are crushed when they find the perfect one but it is too expensive for them. Consider somewhere like Kitchen Warehouse for a good quality but cost-effective kitchen.

Knowing your budget ensures you know what you can afford and won’t be bitterly disappointed when you fall in love with the perfect kitchen. Keeping a budget and sticking to it can be hard but it will be worth it in the end.

How You Want It To Look

Granted, things may happen so it doesn’t look exactly how you want it to in the end - but we all have to compromise a little sometimes. However, you should have a rough idea of how you want it to look and how it will work with the other rooms in your house.

Remember that your appliances will need to go back in after it is all completed so factor these into the design and work out how your kitchen is going to work for you. 


Make Sure It Fits

So you’ve found the perfect kitchen units - hadn’t you better check that they will fit? So many people don’t consider this factor and end up rushing home to take measurements. Not all houses are the same so some units will better suit a house with higher ceilings whilst others won’t. You don’t want to be buying items and then finding out they aren’t going to fit, do you?

As with all home renovations, get your tape measure out and write down dimensions. This will save any nasty surprises in the long run. There are online kitchen planners that can help you our and some kitchen companies will also plan the design for you for free.

Prepare For Disruption

Installing the new kitchen is a lot of work so there will be a disruption. Often you will find yourself without any of your creature comforts, living off microwave meals or the slow cooker in the living room whilst your dream kitchen comes to fruition. Consider this ahead of time and batch cook some dishes that can be shoved in the slow cooker or microwave whilst the oven is out of use - just make sure the fridge or freezer is stored somewhere appropriate!

These are just a few things to consider when buying a kitchen - do you have any other tips?


*Collaborative post
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Monday, 24 September 2018

Top 5 London Afternoon Teas

Today I have a guest post from Melanie from Melanie Fab Finds.

Afternoon teas are ideal to celebrate special occasions and make a wonderful luxurious indulgent treat.  There are so many options for afternoon teas, especially in London.  I have been lucky enough to enjoy a fair few really lovely ones myself. I am quite fussy about which I will go to so you know they're going to be good.

There are various afternoon teas to choose from in London and it can be hard for someone coming for a day trip or wanting to experience an afternoon tea for the first time to know which to choose.

Those that really stood out to me due to the surroundings, choices offered, service and quality of foods. So without further ado, here is my top 5 London afternoon teas.

Afternoon Tea at Harrods



Of course, Harrods has to be mentioned in the lineup.  The service at Harrods was spot on.  This really is the utmost in luxurious afternoon teas.  The surroundings are exquisite, the service impeccable, and they offer a lovely mix of sandwiches and pastries.

High Coffee at the Intercontinental Park Lane


A wonderful twist on the classic afternoon tea ideal for coffee lovers.  The High Coffee provides guests with something different.  Out go the classic sandwiches and in come a range of NEW flavours to delight the taste buds.  Not only is the food fabulous, each course has a coffee pairing that complements the flavours, whether it's a caramel espresso martini or caffe freddo.  The surroundings are of course exquisite, the room is light and spacious - as one might expect from a five-star hotel.

Afternoon Tea in the Rose Lounge at Sofitel Hotel St James


The room here is a little different from the others listed.  It's more like a French living room.  Not as opulent as the rest but what did stand out were the sublime pastries that looked like mini works of art, each well thought out to give its own unique flavour.  Perfect pastry, moist sponge... I could go on but instead, I recommend you try it for yourself to fully experience them in all their glory.

Champagne Chocoholic Afternoon Tea at The London Hilton Park Lane


Chocoholics will be in their element here.  The chocolate desserts are sublime and the scones are amazing.  The presentation of everything was thought out extremely well and I thought our server was fantastic.  The sandwiches were nice and work well although I could have done with sampling something a little different from the norm.

Champagne Afternoon Tea at the Waldorf Hilton London


This has a luxurious setting and is perfect for anyone celebrating a birthday etc.  The room is bright and airy and our server was a star.  The teas are varied and really lovely and as with the other afternoon teas featured on this post, you can try a few different ones which is great.  The sandwiches featured classics I've come to expect from afternoon teas and the desserts looked mouthwateringly good and did not disappoint.

All these venues will replenish sandwiches which is great especially if you have worked up an appetite sightseeing.  Eaten too much and can't finish off the sweet part?  Not to worry they will package it up for you to take home, don't be embarrassed to ask the staff are used to doing this it's all part of the service.

Have you tried any good afternoon teas in London yet?

Mel is mum to three lovely children and writes about life as a mum, food, restaurant reviews, home, money saving and much more over on her blog Melanie's Fab Finds. You can subscribe to her blog here for her latest posts and competitions and follow her on Instagram too. 
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The Health Benefits Of Growing And Eating Your Own Food

It’s common in the modern world to go to the shop to do all your grocery shopping. After all, we often feel we need everything quickly and it’s the most convenient way to get all the food you need in a short space of time. However, it’s worth considering growing your own food at home. For one thing, it’s a great way to save some money on your grocery shopping and you can grow lots of fruit and vegetables for your family without spending hardly anything. Growing and eating your own fruit and vegetables is also a great learning experience for your child. In fact, you will find that it can make them more interested in eating the produce if they have helped nurture and care for the plants themselves.

Another benefit is that you can also sell food you have grown yourself to friends and neighbours making some extra money for your family. Moreover, there are many health benefits to growing and eating your own food as we all know. 

Here are just a few benefits you need to know about growing and eating your own food.

It’s full of essential nutrients as it’s fresh and new


When you go to the grocery store to buy your food, you will likely pick up items that have sat on the shelf for several days. In fact, they will have been through a whole production line of being packaged and delivered to the store before you even have had a chance to buy it. Also, food that is imported may have many air miles before they reach the store, consequently, it won’t be as healthy as fresh food that you have picked yourself. Fresh fruit and veg also tastes amazing and so much better when fresh.

On top of this, fruit and veg you have picked that day is full of essential nutrients which might be lost when sat in a grocery store. If you want to grow your own fruit and veg consider getting a domestic polytunnel which you can get from sites like First Tunnels. That way, you can start making fresh food as soon as possible.


You can ensure your crops are exactly how you want them


When you buy fruit and vegetables from the supermarket, you will find that they have been through a long journey to get to the store. You have no idea of what they might have encountered on the way to the grocery shop. Therefore, your family might be tucking into items which have an array of pesticides and fertilisers you might not know about. If you grow and eat your own produce, you can ensure they are exactly how you want them. 

As this article from Nationwide explains, making your own produce means you control the fertilizer, water and pest control that is used. That way, you can ensure it’s as healthy as possible for your family and you don’t have to worry about what it has been through before it reaches your plate. You will have confidence that you are providing your family with the healthiest food possible.

You will cut out the junk food from your life


When you have the opportunity to grow your own food you will be less likely to make that extra stop for groceries, and thus cutting down the temptation to buy unhealthy food. You will also be less likely to spend on frozen meals and high-fat products meaning you could potentially cut your calorie intake and may lose weight. When you make your own food, it gives you more knowledge and helps you to make better food choices like this article says by Harvard University.

As you can see, growing your own food has many benefits. Let me know if you do grow your own or are interested in doing so.

*Guest post
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Friday, 21 September 2018

10 Tips For Creating Your Dream Interior

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

1. Plan out each room 





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

2. Pick the right floor covering 




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

3. The walls are part of your design




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

4. Purchase timeless, not trendy



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

5. Buy one signature piece for each room



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

6. Don’t overlook the lighting



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

7. Your accessories matter



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

8. Create a flow


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

9. Buy out of season


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

10. Think comfort over style


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

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

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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Tip For Travellers With Mobility Issues

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

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

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

Plan ahead as much as you can



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

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

Ask for help if flying 

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

Check out accessible hotels



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

Look for a tour route that is suitable.

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

Invest in a good guide book

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

Check out tourist information offices



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

YouTube guides and blogs

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

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

Museums

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

Medical Insurance

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

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

*Collaborative post


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Monday, 17 September 2018

My Pet Story

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



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

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



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

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

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



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


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


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

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

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

*This post is in conjunction with Petplan but all thoughts are my own
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