5 Reasons To Buy A Luxury Watch

There are many reasons to buy a luxury watch, and buying a luxury watch is one of those experiences like your first kiss - very exciting, a little bit nerve-wracking but ultimately very pleasurable! Buying a luxury watch however is an expensive purchase, so if you are thinking it over, and want to justify it, here are some reasons to buy a luxury watch and to spoil yourself.

For the workmanship



The crafting of a luxury watch is a skill, and the best watchmakers are artisans who have learnt how to make the best through years of training and experience.  There is a certain art to making a luxury watch

A luxury watch, and by that I mean one that is at least five thousand pounds, has a high level of craftsmanship and skill gone into every timepiece. For example, automatic and mechanical movements that are handmade do last decades.  Many of the best watchmakers are traditionally from Switzerland, too and a Swiss made watch has a suitable kudos, and these include Rolex, TAG Heuer and Omega watches.

For the design



The design of a luxury watch is part of the appeal. A luxury watch can be timeless and classic such as many of the Patek Phillipe designs or appeal to the gadget lovers amongst us such as the Breitling Navitimers that are iconic pilot watches. Many have a number of gadgets that are super cool like an SOS beacon on a Breitling Emergency watch, which is also useful if you go to remote places. 

Another super cool watch is the Omega Seamaster which is water resistant up to 1000 feet, more than some nuclear submarines and has added status being worn by Bond, James Bond, in the films throughout the years.

As a statement



Wearing a luxury watch can make a big statement. It can shout out that you have taste, and that you have a classic style. It can also show that you have money and status, that you have made it in the world so to speak. Maybe you are influenced by the brand ambassadors like David Beckham for Rolex or Kate Winslet for Longines and want a taste of their world. Or even want to show off to your friends -  we've all been there!

All in all a luxury watch can be a loud statement or a quiet whisper, depending on the brand and style chosen. 

As an investment



A luxury watch can be an investment if looked after. In a volatile market vintage watches generally hold their value and can be an investment for the future. Pick a design that is a safer investment than others such as one of these luxury watches that are in demand on chronoexpert.com.  You may not make a fortune on your investment but it can rise steadily and you will have something nice to show for your money too.

As an heirloom



A luxury watch is something that can be handed down over generations, as it will last well, retain its looks and craftsmanship over time.  Personally, I would choose a classic design as an heirloom watch so that your son or daughter will appreciate it and it won't date.  A classic Rolex, TAG or a Calatrava by Patek Phillipe will fit the bill.

As you can see there are many reasons to buy a luxury watch. If you have the money I would say buy a luxury watch and enjoy it.

Tell me, do you own a luxury watch? What brands of luxury watch do you like?

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Win A Scooter From Skates Ends 24/03

Skates is a family owned company based in Romsey that has been around for 12 years.  Their sister company www.flywalk.co.uk were the first to champion Heelys and it became such a successful site that they decided to start Skates.





Starting with just a small range of inline and roller skates, as well as foldable scooters, their website expanded quickly and in 2009 their moved to an 8000 square foot warehouse and today they have over 50 staff.

Run by enthusiastic skaters, they are always happy to offer advice on which is the best products for your needs. They now sell all types of scooters, skates, boards, shoes, clothing and protection including helmets, pads and gloves. 






They have some cool rollerskates for retro fun, like these Rio Roller Milkshake Quad Skates above priced at £67.95.



As well as some great ice skates like these Graf 500 white figure ice skates priced at £99.95.

They have lots of scooters too, from toddler and kids scooters to ones big enough for adults, and in a range of prices which is always good. Stunt scooters, slider scooters, dirt scooters and electric scooters, are all on sale.

Today on the blog I am giving you a chance to win an adult scooter from Skates. This scooter is on sale for £109.95 but the RRP is £139.95, so if you win you are getting a fabulous prize.




The Frenzy 250mm scooter is a smart looking adult scooter in a vibrant red design.  It has a 250mm front wheel giving it increase power to push off. It has an easy to use hand release folding mechanism and a 'trolly mode' making it easy to carry. 

I think this is a cool scooter for adults. Perhaps your kids use a scooter to go to school, so why not accompany them with this Frenzy scooter? Maybe you want a scooter like this to get to work faster than walking. It could even make a great Mother's Day gift, I know I would love one of these myself!


Entry is via the Gleam app below. It's easy to register and you can enter daily. Check out my other competitions when you are here too. Good luck!

Win A Scooter from Skates

Why You Should Install Artificial Grass in Your Garden

Artificial grass is a great solution if you’re looking for a low maintenance alternative to regular grass. Many people opt for decking or a patio, but artificial grass has a range of benefits as well. Let's look at the benefits of artificial grass and why you should install it in your garden



The main benefit of artificial grass is you don’t have to mow it or keep it watered during summer. What’s more, artificial grass looks nice throughout the whole year so you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the stunning lush looking grass. 

Since it’s installed on a strong base that separates the mud and groundwater, there’ll be no mud trudged into your home after your kids or dog have been playing outside. It’s easy to install and will probably only take a few hours, depending on the size of your garden. You’ll have to dig up your existing lawn and edge the area, but with modern solutions, your new lawn will look and feel real. There are plenty of videos and guides on the Internet that can help you with the installation and lots of places will offer free samples, so that you can truly get a feel for it before you invest.

Artificial grass doesn’t require any harmful pesticides or fertilisers to keep it looking healthy and aesthetically pleasing. As well as saving time, this limited amount of maintenance will also save you money, making the initial investment well worth it. It’s great for elderly people who struggle with mobility or people who travel a lot and won’t be able to maintain the garden. A quick sweep of a broom once in a while will clear away any debris, but that’s all it takes.

Another benefit of artificial grass is that you can’t be allergic to it. According to research, 1 in 5 people in the UK suffer from hay fever and the majority of sufferers are allergic to grass pollen. This means that, when everyone else is out enjoying the nicer weather of the spring and summer months, those with hay fever have to hide indoors. Although artificial grass doesn’t cure hay fever, it will reduce exposure to grass pollen and allow sufferers to enjoy BBQ season.

The benefits of an artificial lawn outweigh the benefits of natural grass, particularly if you live in an area that regularly experiences harsh weather conditions that tend to harm your garden. If you’re interested in saving time, money and water while adding to the curb appeal of your home, then artificial grass is a suitable option for you.

Would you install artificial grass in your garden?

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Are You On Trend?

Are you someone who keeps up-to-date with the latest trends, or, do you like to sing to your own tune? Either way, I have some of the latest trends to give you an insight into what’s popular at present. Below, I am going to focus on evening attire specifically. I will start off by looking at the best trends in evening glam. After which, I will provide you with an insight into the best clothing and accessory trends out there at the moment too.

Evening/Clubbing Glam



Most people will agree that getting your look right for a night out is half the fun! Some people spend all week thinking about the outfit they are going to sport when they go clubbing on the weekend. From the dress they are going to wear, to the way they are going to have their styled, to the makeup look they’re going to go for… there is so much to consider.

If you are looking for the perfect makeup look for a night of clubbing, here are five options you cannot fail with…

1. Smoky Eyes – Let’s begin with a classic when it comes to clubbing makeup and this is the smoky eye. Not only are smokey eyes very sexy, but also they are incredibly versatile, meaning this is a makeup look that will suit virtually any outfit you are planning on wearing. Black smoky eyes are the safest option to go for and generally the most dramatic. However, this is not to say you cannot experiment. Blue and brown are two colours that also work well when generating this look.

2. Bold Lips – Bold lips are bang on trend at the moment! This is definitely one of my favourite makeup trends. If you are planning on wearing an outfit that is all one colour to one of the next evening events, then you should certainly consider finishing off the look with bold lips. From violet to fiery red, to vibrant pink, there are many different options for you to choose from. When going for this look make sure you keep the rest of your makeup subtle so that all of the attention is focused on your lips.

3. Golden EyesGolden eyes are fun, lavish and sexy! Channel your inner Cleopatra. You will need to apply several layers of eye shadow for the gold to be prominent. You may also wish to use a small dose of glitter for some extra sparkle. It is advisable to line your eyes when creating this look, however, I would recommend using brown eyeliner as opposed to black.

4. Nude Lips – Nude lips can be incredibly sexy. This is also a makeup style that is suited to virtually all outfits, hairstyles and such like. You really cannot go wrong with a nude shade of lipstick. It is always a good idea to finish off by adding some clear lip gloss, as this will give your lips a voluptuous appearance, especially if you apply the gloss on the centre of your lips.

5. Pronounced Brows – Last but not least, the final trend to consider when it comes to nighttime glam is pronounced eyebrows. Bold eyebrows are at the height of fashion at present. All you need to do is look at Cara Delevingne for inspiration. Simply use an eyebrow pencil to thicken them and enhance the overall shape.


Evening Attire



Do you have a party coming up soon? Perhaps you are going on a date with a gentleman you have had your eyes on for a while? Maybe you are looking forward to your usual weekend of drinks and clubbing with the girls? Whatever the reason may be, there is one thing all of these activities boast in common; the need to dress to impress. Therefore, read on to discover the top trends out there at the moment…

Digital Print

First and foremost, let’s begin with the print of the moment; digital. This plays towards the futuristic trend which has been running riot for a while now. The easiest way to rock this lock is to go with a digital print blouse. You can then bring the outfit back down to reality with a pair of skinny jeans, some barely there gold stilettos and a collection of carefully pick accessories. Don’t be afraid of a colourful lipstick when going for this look.

Box Clutch

There is very little denying the fact that the box clutch is the number one bag for evening wear at the moment. In fact, this statement bag doesn’t even have any competition. This is the sort of clutch that is going to generate all the attention. It is your standout accessory, so play towards this strength!

One Tone

We have got very matchy-matchy as of late. Pick one colour and keep it consistent all the way through. Nevertheless, this does not mean that you are going to look boring. You have to bring the excitement via the selection of textures and styles of garments you select. Take a burgundy leather skirt, team it with a chunky burgundy crop jumper and round off with studded slipper shoes. This may not be the easiest trend to rock but when you get it right it can be s
how-stopping. 

Statement Necklace

When it comes to jewellery it is all about the necklace. This is perfect for the cold months that are ahead because you can easily jazz up a thick plain jumper with a statement necklace. From thick gold chains to colourful chokers; the choices are endless. The only requirement? Make sure it can be seen from a mile away! For those of you with ear piercings, you can find matching earrings if you want to go for the full-on, bold look!

Going For Gold

Gold is the ideal colour for evening attire. Very few would refute the fact that it is luxurious, extravagant and extremely glamorous. Not only this, but it is ideal when it comes to parties, as it has a real festive feel about it.

Suits

Finally, suits are coming back into fashion, and we are not talking about the boring black pinstripe suits you used to wear to work in the 90s. No, we are talking bold, skinny trousers with oversized blazers, and colours from turquoise to orange. If you are feeling particularly daring go for high waisted flared trousers, a fitted blazer and a lacy bra style top. This is the perfect party outfit for those who aren’t afraid to show a subtle hint of skin.

There are lots of great trends out there at the moment. Which one is your favourite? If you follow the advice and trends that have been mentioned above, you can make sure that your look is on point next time you club it, or go out for cocktails with your friends.

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How Much Does Couples Counselling Cost?

If you having marital or relationship difficulties most couples start looking at ways to resolve this, especially if they want their relationship to last. When you have difficulty in communicating, couples counselling can really help. However, couples counselling does cost. Let's have a look at what is couples counselling therapy and the cost implications of couples counselling, both emotionally and financially.

Couples Counselling Therapy



Couples counselling therapy is a proven long term solution to relationship difficulties and research into couples counselling have shown it to be highly effective.  

Couples counselling therapy is where a couple or individual as part of a couple seek a therapeutic environment facilitated by a trained counsellor. Counselling can happen either in person, in a session with parties being present or online. 

I've written a number of posts on couples counselling and being trained as a Registered Mental Nurse, with over 12 years of experience in a ward setting, I know the power of talking therapies. Couples counselling encourages the couple to talk about their problems and work through their issues in a safe environment.

Couples counselling, however, does have cost implications, emotional and financial so let us have a look at these.

The Cost Implications Of Having Couples Counselling


The average cost of a couples counselling session in the UK, according to the relationship charity Relate, is around £50, so it's not cheap. A trained couples counsellor should have a qualification in counselling or psychotherapy at a minimum and these qualifications cost money. Having this training means they are in demand and can set their own charges. Also setting up an office, and advertising means overheads that have to be paid for, all effectiving the cost of a session.

A way of keeping costs down is to see an online counsellor. An online counsellor typically won't have the overheads of a counsellor with an office on the high street. Of course, you need to ensure that they have the relevant qualifications still so it's important to check those out thoroughly but using an online counsellor like this can save you money as well as providing more flexibility, privacy and accessibility. It's definitely an option worth exploring. 

The Cost Implications Of Not Having Couples Counselling  



There are financial and emotional implications of not having couples counselling as well.  

You may end up spending more money on activities and holidays together in the hope that this will work in strengthening the relationship when if the real issues aren't addressed it will mean that you are simply ignoring the problems. 

If your relationship does break down then this could mean a change of housing, moving costs, and financial costs that come with that. Maintenance may need to be paid and child support. If a relationship does break down, couples counselling can still be used to amicably settle child maintenance issues and visiting rights.

Emotionally, a relationship breakdown or divorce can cause depression, anxiety and sleepless nights. It can affect your self-esteem and confidence and make you feel worthless and despondent. If children are involved, a relationship breakdown can emotionally affect the children too and the relationship they have with each parent. 

When you look at the costs of not having coupes counselling then you can see investing money and time in this therapy can really help and possibly save a relationship.  If you do go to couples counselling I wish you all the best and hope you can resolve your difficulties.

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Which Technology Goes Into Making Jewellery?

Similar to most industries, technology has played its part in improving the efficiency of jewellery design and the manufacturing process. But which types of specific technology have transformed the sector?

Computer-Aided Design (CAD)



As more people look for products which are unique, computer-aided design (CAD) has become a key feature of bespoke jewellery design and manufacturing. This type of design uses computers to create and modify a design before it goes into production. It can generate precise 2D and 3D models, as well as technical illustrations.

With the demand for bespoke products on the rise, CAD is an important piece of technology for many businesses. When it comes to jewellery such as engagement rings, for example, many customers have different tastes. From bold designs to delicate vintage styles, there are a lot of variants that people prefer. Often, people want a one-off piece made too, and CAD can help with this.

Not only does it reduce the amount of time needed to create bespoke designs, but it also allows for the generation of designs before the finished product is manufactured. The technical illustrations which can be produced allow the customer to see their desired product from different angles and in a realistic format. This means that any modifications to the piece can be made before the jewellery is created, saving wasted gems, metals and resources if the client changes their mind. It also makes more complex jewellery designs possible.

Neil Dutta from Angelic Diamonds says: “CAD allows for the creation of more intricate designs, as the piece can be seen and edited close-up in a way that didn’t use to be possible. Customers can add their own input to the designs after seeing the realistic images too. Jewellery is often a significant investment for the buyer and it’s important for both the client and the seller that the buyer is satisfied with the end-product.”

3D Printing

3D printing has opened a range of opportunities for a lot of sectors, improving the efficiency of the manufacturing and production process.

In the jewellery industry, 3D printing works by using CAD to create 3D printed wax or resin models of jewellery. These are then used to cast delicate pieces with the fine metals — 3D printing with precious metals, to begin with, would be overly costly. These moulds mean that separate sections of metal don’t need to be soldered together, creating a more solid and complex piece of jewellery.

Talking about her business, Shoes by Shaherazad, which specialises in jewellery for shoes, Shaherazad Umbreen says: “I've experimented with 3D printing a lot, as it allows low-cost testing of product designs. In the past, going directly to metal-bashing techniques meant that if a design didn't look right, then precious time (and costly metals) were lost.

“Now, I design in CAD, print in 3D, and only then when the design is just right, do I then use the 3D mould to create a piece of jewellery. Many of my designs are in 22 carat gold, so this new process has saved me thousands of pounds and hours of time.”

Laser Technology



Another type of technology that’s proven popular in the jewellery industry is laser technology. Although this has been around for some time, advancements in lasers are continually progressing the industry.

Laser engraving is a modern alternative for making one-off, custom or unique designs. Laser technology can be used when engraving metal pieces or adding inscriptions and detail to jewellery. The smallest of details can be created with a laser, due to the precision of the machinery, meaning that wording is clearly legible once engraved.

Although the technology of jewellery has changed over time, people still appreciate hand-crafted pieces and jewellery that has taken care to create. Who knows what the next revolution in the industry will be.

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How To Choose The Right School For Your Child

School is where children and young adults spend the majority of their time, so it’s vital you choose the right one. Brampton College, an independent sixth form college in Hendon, have put together the following list of points that you should think about before making the extremely important decision. 




You want your child to succeed academically and also enjoy themselves; neither of which they can do if they are unhappy in the wrong school. But how do you know if you have chosen wisely? How do you know if your current school is the right fit for you and your family? 

Visit beforehand

Open mornings and afternoons are great but sometimes it is best to see the school on a normal working day. Ask your chosen school if you can visit with your child. How the school manages your request and how they interact with your child during this visit will tell you a lot. 

Check Ofsted

Before making any final decisions don’t forget to check the school’s Ofsted report and make sure that the school’s ‘overall effectiveness’ is good or better. Reports can be found on the Ofsted website and are available for everyone to see. 

Suitability

As well as the obvious factors, such as geographic location and subject options, it’s worth considering whether or not a school is academically challenging enough. It’s important that your child/children feel adequately stimulated throughout their education so that boredom doesn’t take over and cause them to lose interest.  

Extra-curricular clubs

In addition to their normal lessons, you could encourage them to join some extra-curricular clubs to keep them inspired. Clubs such as gymnastics, music lessons and football clubs are all designed to help children achieve an important work-fun balance whilst keeping them entertained and interested. 

Learning style

The learning environment in a school is also important; some students prefer intimate settings where discussion groups can take place and personal interactions with the tutors and other students are plentiful. Other students prefer large lecture halls, where they can listen and take notes, but have little input and few distractions. Make sure to choose a school that suits your child’s personal learning style. 

Schools culture

As previously mentioned, in addition to the academic side of things, it’s also imperative that your school is the right cultural fit for you. In other words, your child/children should feel comfortable being themselves and embracing their individual personality. They shouldn’t feel like they have to change, or that their opinions are “wrong”. If that’s the case, then the school that they are at is not right for them or you.  Every student should feel valued. 

Do you feel you have chosen the right school for your child?

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What Is Ethical Jewellery And Why Should You Buy It?

When you choose a ring from a jeweller, you probably never stop to think where it came from, right? With blood diamonds and slave labour behind some pieces of jewellery, there comes a time where we need to stop and reconsider where our jewellery is coming from. If you want to know more about how you can help others and join the ethical jewellery movement, then read on.

What Are Blood Diamonds?




Blood diamonds, often known as conflict diamonds, are called this as they have been made unethically. This source of jewellery came to light after the movie “Blood Diamond”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio was released. If you want to get a good understanding of what goes on in the world of unethical diamonds, this film is worth a watch. Conflict diamonds are mined by rebel groups, who sell the diamonds on to pay for weapons and fund conflicts.

A diamond mined this way is the same composition than a diamond that has been mined conflict-free and can be traced back to its source. This means you will not be lowering your standards with your jewellery when you look for conflict-free or synthetic diamonds. You simply have the advantage of knowing your diamond did not take part in the harm of our planet or its people.  


I always look for a diamond that is certified as part of the 'Kimberley Process' to ensure it is a conflict-free diamond and you should too.

What Exactly Is Ethical Jewellery?



Ethical jewellery is exactly what it sounds like. It is jewellery that has been sourced legally and ethically, meaning the environment and the people who have sourced it have not suffered. This means purchasing jewellery that can be traced right back to where it was first sourced from, so you can discover if it was ethically made.

Any jewellery that is labelled Fairtrade and diamonds that are conflict-free are ethical. It may mean that the jewellery has used recycled materials, like gemstones, or synthetic diamonds (that look just as beautiful as the real thing without any harm being caused in production). Ethical jewellers take a stand against unfair wages and long working hours, as well as never using children in their workforce. They also ensure that minimal environmental damage is caused when their products are made.

How Can I Ensure I Buy Ethical Jewellery?



The best way to make sure your jewellery is ethical is to purchase from an ethical jeweller. You should hopefully be able to find a few of these companies. For example, there’s Ingle & Rhode based in London, who sell ethical fine jewellery using Canadian diamonds and Fairtrade gold, meaning it is easily traced back to its source. They use the finest ethically-sourced gemstones and precious metals to make their jewellery, including wedding, eternity, and engagement rings. You can even create your own ring from their collection of ethically-sourced products. They also ensure that the people mining and polishing their diamonds and making their jewellery are paid a fair wage.

Another way to be ethical when choosing jewellery is to purchase from antiques or second-hand jewellers. This means these items that are preloved are being recycled and sent to another home. This will protect the environment however, you may not know exactly where the jewellery was made or the stones sourced from, so bear this in mind.

If we all begin to follow the ethical jewellery movement, we can bring blood diamonds to an end. Jewellery can easily be ethically sourced and still be just as beautiful, meaning there is no reason why we shouldn’t already be doing so.

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Interview With An Artist - Helen Garfield From Sweet Wild Designs

There are so many unique small businesses in the UK, and I am all for supporting the small independents that are starting out. Today on the blog I am talking to artist Helen Garfield about her business Sweet Wild Designs.

Sweet Wild Designs sell original paintings, art prints, home decor and cards from their base in Somerset England. Helen also accepts commissions for art designs that are delivered in her own unique style. If you are looking for gorgeous floral and animal prints, check out Helen's website today.

How did Sweet Wild Designs come about?



I’d gotten a new ‘dream’ job in marketing and it was supposed to be next the big step for me. Well, I had to quit after two months as the job turned out to be a complete nightmare.

I got a part-time role elsewhere, but I felt like I was now veering away from my true calling, I felt like I had failed.

I realised if I wanted to make a living doing something I am really passionate about and enjoy doing, I’d have to effectively become self-employed. So at the start of 2018, I started to research and build my own creative business.

I feel truly privileged to have an opportunity to pursue my dream. I am still exploring and still quite new as an artist selling my art. I’m also still learning and growing as an artist and I love it – I get to use my creativity and have really enjoyed the journey so far.

What inspires you and your original artwork?

Lot’s of things inspire me. I get ideas from a variety of things I see and experience - such as colours, forms, textures and the shapes that occur naturally in the world around us.

As for the subject for my artwork I most love to draw and paint animals, birds, flowers as well as cultural themes such as the things we enjoy in everyday life.

I have so many ideas for paintings and illustrations I keep a sketchbook so I can come back to an idea and be re-inspired.

With a lot of my paintings, I use a grey background. I like starting the painting with a moody grey painting in layers and then, when the painting comes together, seeing the colours pop out into the foreground totally transforming the artwork.

I love colours but enjoy working with a limited colour palette, for example, my red roses painting only uses red and various grey tones. I enjoy the more stylised look it gives my artwork.

Despite the grey start to a painting, overall I aim for all my paintings to have a positive vibe. With all my artwork I aim to create a joyful experience and celebrate the beauty of nature, love and living life.

Which items are your bestsellers and why do you think they are?


The current top three bestselling of my art prints are ‘Marigolds’ in orange, ‘Hummingbirds’ and ‘Cats on the Wall’ in blue.

I think that these are currently my bestsellers because they offer something a bit different for people looking for wall art for their home.

However, as I will be offering some of the paintings for my Floral Adventures series as art prints, and as I add to the collection the top bestsellers this time next will no doubt have changed.

Tell me about your new Floral Adventures series
My new art series Floral Adventures is about discovery, of both ourselves and of the adventures, thoughts and discoveries made by our favourite animals in nature.

I wanted to create paintings that people enjoy - as well as celebrating nature, a love of discovery and adventure. I wanted to create artwork that illustrated this curiosity and love of all the beauty in nature.

Which items do you think will be popular for Mother's Day?


New for this year I have a small selection of illustrated cards for Mothers Day, I also think my mini canvases make ideal Mothers Day gifts. 


My handmade jewellery would also make a thoughtful gift - especially the floral design earrings that have already proven quite popular!

Where do you see your business in five years time?


This year want to learn about surface pattern design. I’d love to create patterns with my artwork, on fabric for example and explore where that might take my art and illustrations.

Also in the next year or two, a goal of mine is to put on an art show of my original work!

So in five years time, I’d like to see myself having continually grown as an artist and built up my business – whatever that may look like! The unknown is exciting and I will seek out any new opportunities and enjoy it!

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Advantages Of Using A Virtual Private Network (VPN)

If you use the internet on the go, you may have heard of a VPN and the benefits of using one but you may not know what it is, so, what is a VPN and, should you get one?


A VPN is a Virtual Private Network and is a useful solution to providing you with secure internet from anywhere in the world. It is especially useful for keeping your information safe and secure.  In this article, I will go into more detail on the main advantages of using a Virtual Private Network or VPN.

Security

A VPN allows you to create a secure network due to the encryption it uses. This means that bank details will be safe and your information and passwords will be secure. This is especially important if you have to use your computer whilst travelling, perhaps accessing your Paypal or bank accounts on the go. All data is encrypted from prying eyes, and a VPN helps keep your bank details out of the hand of criminals. It also keeps sensitive and personal information safe.

Anonymity

With a VPN you can browse the web anonymously. Now even if you are not doing anything scandalous, this has distinct advantages. Firstly, because you are anonymous then your information will be secure. 

Secondly, you can browse the internet in private. Normally your web browser tracks your cookies so that nothing is completely secret, tracking what sites you go to. This can then affect adverts you are shown as well as potentially pushing up prices of hotels and holidays when booking them, based on past browsing experiences. A VPN keeps your browsing history anonymous and secure and doesn't allow browsers to track you. So it's easier to grab a holiday bargain for one!

Streaming

Some online streaming channels are location specific. A VPN can allow you to watch your favourite local channels abroad. For example, did you know that the BBC Iplayer is not available outside of the UK?  A VPN can mask your location and make your location specific to the country you want. That means in practice you can set your computer's location to be from the UK, even if you are in another country and then BBC Iplayer will work. This is great if you want to catch up with a TV programme or event or if you are an Ex-Pat and you want to watch the channel you loved in the UK

Netflix is also different in various countries, so a VPN will allow you to access content in a different location, perhaps if you are on holiday, giving you more choice of programmes.

Business use

A VPN is great for sharing data with a group securely, as well as keeping sensitive information secure. This is particularly great for businesses. Data breaches can lead to fines and compensation claims so using a VPN makes good business sense. 

VPNs also give businesses the security to share their resources with employees and partners that are not based in the office at all times, allowing for flexibility of staff and remote working.

It's also cheaper to set up a VPN tha
n a physical private network so this can save a business money, and what business doesn't want to save money?!

So as you can see there are a number of advantages of getting a Virtual Private Network or VPN. If you want the reassurance of a secure network, can you really afford not to get one in this day and age?

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10 Email Marketing Do's And Don'ts

To have a successful business there are a number of things that are important.

Great quality products or an in-demand service is the first thing. Staff to make, sell and promote your products are the next thing. Then a marketing and promotion campaign for advertising and PR. This can include old school marketing such as leaflet distribution, newspaper and magazine advertising, as well as modern ways of advertising through a website to show your services and products, and perhaps sell your items. Another thing that is important is building a following on social media so that fans can see your products and offers. Many millions of businesses have a website and socials media these days and it's almost thought of as essential if you have a business. However, something that can often get overlooked is email marketing. 




Email marketing can be surprisingly effective if you grow your email list the right way. It's so important that your sign up form encourages people to opt-in to your emails. Give them a reason to sign up! Maybe that's the offer of special discounts and promotions, competition prizes, or content you won't get anywhere else. Look at segmenting your list for different purposes. Keep your newsletters and email promotions simply designed and eye-catching so people open your emails. Don't forget you have a captive audience! Here are 10 email marketing do's and don'ts to ensure your email marketing is always on point.

10 Email Marketing Do’s and Don’ts - Infographic by Campaign Monitor
Source: 10 Email Marketing Do’s and Don’ts by Campaign Monitor

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Improving the Exterior of Your Home

It’s worth remembering that you can add significant value to your home when improving the exterior of your home, but the work must be carried out to a high standard. However, there are certain home improvement projects that can add significantly more value than others. For example, these might include painting, render or even a new roof.



Whatever project you choose to undertake, it’s always best to walk the exterior of your home and adopt a different perspective, providing you with a more objective approach as to which changes should be made to the outside of the building in particular. You should consider exactly which parts of the house should be remodelled to add greater curb appeal.

Changing the Colour


Selecting a different colour scheme is probably the easiest way to transform the exterior of the house. Select colours that blend in with the overall theme of all the other houses in the neighbourhood. This does not mean your house has to completely blend in with everyone else’s, but you should be sympathetic to the overall colour scheme involved. If you are a bit more daring, then you can always opt for a series of complementary colours which can add an instant dramatic effect without being over the top in-your-face. Even a more mundane neutral colour can be accented with bright or dark complementary shades to achieve a bold yet not overpowering effect.

Monocouche Render

Monocouche render companies render your home with a type of decorative finish applied to the outside of your home. They are modern single coat renders which can be applied by hand or machine. Derived from the French and meaning mono or single layer. They can add a touch of class to your property providing both decoration and weather protection.

Roofing the House

It may be that the only thing that needs to be done to the exterior of your home is simply to have it re-roofed. This can (and should) be done by professionals, usually with just a few days of work. This particular change has the ability to alter the overall impact of the exterior of the home by selecting different roofing materials. For example, if the house has a shingle roof then why not consider a metal roof or architectural tile. Beware though, because before heavier roofing material (such as concrete tile) can be installed on an existing home, the roof system should be surveyed to ensure it can handle the load, and this can add significant cost to the overall project.

Decorative Touches

Adding shutters or window trims also make a dramatic impact on the aesthetic quality of the exterior of the home. Painting the porch might be all that is needed to add a decorative style to the front of the house, whereas, removing a clutter of landscaping, shrubs and bushes can quickly transform a garden and require nothing more than a bit of hard work to increase the value of your house.

There are many ways to improve the exterior of your home and help add value to it. The range of home improvement projects fall between easy do-it-yourself jobs and ones that requires the skills of a skilled tradesmen or contractor.


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The Benefits Of Online Couples Counselling

When a couple faces challenges in their relationship and feel they need help, they may decide to attend couples counselling. In recent years online therapy has become more popular and is a viable alternative to seeing a therapist in person and can really help get your relationship back on track.

Online therapy is, essentially the same service as provided in a therapists office but on the internet. In this article, I will look at the benefits of using an online therapist for couples counselling and to help resolve issues in a relationship.


Benefits of an online therapist




Privacy

Firstly, using online therapy through a reputable therapist can provide a high level of privacy and security. You can do it in the comfort of your own home, and no one will see you walking into a therapists office. All sessions are kept confidential in line with the therapist's code of conduct and kept securing on 

Comfort

Attending sessions in an office can be a stressful experience, being in your own environment can help you settle in, and open up quicker, making it easier to get to the bottom of your problems. Many people feel less intimated when talking to someone online than in person too, the lack of face-to-face communication can be a benefit if you are shy or intimidated easily.

You also do not have the added stress of getting to the sessions through traffic. 

Accessibility

Online counselling can happen any time of the day, within reason and can be completed across different time zones. This is very useful if you have a long distance relationship, live in a remote area, or don't want to see a therapist 'on your doorstep.'

Due to the nature of the work most online therapy sessions are super flexible, it is therefore very convenient and easy to attend,  perfect for those that work nights or shifts. 

If you are looking for a specialist in a certain area, for example, financial difficulties, adoption, or bringing up children then online therapy can bring the specialist closer to you.

Affordability 

Online therapy sessions are well priced, which is great for those that have a limited budget. This is often because overheads can be lower, a therapist may not need an expensive high street office. 

You also save on time getting to the therapist's office and having to take time off work, and you know what they say - time is money.

Documentation

Homework and information can be shared online at the touch on a button making everything very accessible too, and online therapy through live chat will give you documentation transcribed immediately. These transcripts can be useful to revisit what was said and to see how the relationship has improved over time.

As you can see there are many benefits of online couples counselling and this can really work whether you have been together 10 months, 10 years or more. Online couples counselling can be very useful to get your relationship back on track and should not be ignored as a therapy option that can really work. 

Let me know, would you try online couples counselling if your relationship was in difficulty?

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Jana Reinhardt Jewellery Giveaway Ends 10/03

I must admit I like to support small businesses and craftspeople and we have some unique small businesses in the UK.  One such business is Jana Reinhardt Jewellery.  


Jana Reinhardt Jewellery is run by Jana herself and her husband Ross and was set up in 2006. The couple are both qualified goldsmiths and artisans who love creating unique pieces from their workshop in Worthing, West Sussex. Each piece is handmade, which is surprisingly rare these days, by a small professional team, using traditional techniques.

The jewellery is pretty and slightly quirky and includes many animal designs such as hummingbirds, unicorns, whales and frogs as well as tropical and flower designs. 

This pretty penguin necklace above is part of the Polar Nights collection inspired by Arctic creatures. Other designs in the range include polar bears and whales, much cuter embodied in jewellery than in real life!

This gorgeous penguin pendant is finely detailed, complete with a tiny beak and cute little flippers. It's highly polished, in sterling silver and comes complete with a matching sterling silver curb chain necklace. What I like about the chain is that it is adjustable so you can wear it at 16 or 18 inches (41 or 46cm).

This design above is the tiny polar bear necklace. Super cute, it can be ordered, like most of the designs in your choice of sterling silver, 24 ct gold plate or 24 ct rose gold on silver.  Again the chain is adjustable from 16inch to 18inches to suit your style. If you like the design but it's a little small, there is also a bigger polar bear available too that comes in gold vermeil and solid gold as well as silver.



Another gorgeous item is the whale pendant with the water spout. The water spout has pretty stones made of blue sapphires, iolite and topaz, adding a lovely sparkle to the pendant, making it perfect to wear out at night.

As you can see Jana Reinhardt has some lovely items of jewellery. They also make bespoke jewellery as well, so if you want something special made then this is the place to go.

Today on the blog I am giving you the chance to win a gorgeous penguin pendant in sterling silver worth £89. Entry is via the Gleam app below. It's easy to register and you can enter daily. Good luck!

Win a silver penguin necklace from Jana Reinhardt

Letting Loose In Lille France




Sometimes you are blessed with a weekend to yourself without the little darlings. As much as it’s great fun for you all to go away as a family, occasionally it’s really special to plan something for just the two of you. If that’s the case, why not think about a trip to Lille France? It’s so easy from London, just hop on the Eurostar. It takes about an hour and a half, which is exactly the right amount of time to enjoy a pastry, a coffee and maybe a glass of fizz - perfect.

When it's just the adults that get to escape for the weekend, then my favourite way to start is with a thorough pampering. It can be tricky to find a truly relaxing spa in a city, but the Barierre Ribeauville resort is out of this world. Encompassing a state of the art spa, several classy restaurants and a world-renowned Casino, home to the PokerStars Festival, this resort was the perfect way to while away a dreamy couple of hours.


Feeling preened and pampered, your next port of call should be an easy lunch - save the fancy reservations for dinner time. La Cave aux Fioles is gorgeous, find it tucked away in the old town. The restaurant itself is ‘traditional’ in style with knick-knacks and antiques decorating the small dining rooms. There’s a small but well-chosen wine menu and the duck confit is a great way to properly fill up for an afternoon of shopping. The beef carbonnade is also rich and warm and wonderful (and a Flemish speciality, so one to tick off the list!)


If, like me, you’re also a shopaholic then, after lunch, you’re perfectly situated for a little retail therapy. The old town is home to all of the big retailers, but the charming little side streets have plenty of independent boutiques - as well as the top luxury brands. If you stumble into Herm├Ęs, try the perfume.

After an afternoon of mostly window shopping its time to get ready for dinner. Stay at L’Hermitage Gantois, which is a little bit naughty money wise, but so worth it. The hotel is absolutely stunning and decorated in a simple and elegant style, with marble bathrooms and sumptuous Persian rugs. If you can, try to book a room with a courtyard view, it costs a little bit more, but it is such a beautiful way to wake up.



After a quick freshen up, back out for dinner - I recommend making the most of every opportunity to eat, the food in Lille is fantastic! Try La Royale, a classic French bistro which uses only the freshest seasonal produce. Of course, only using very fresh produce means that the menu is small and constantly changing - a good sign, but difficult when it comes to recommending particular dishes! The highlights are the simple terrine, with crusty french bread and pickles. Following that try the cod cooked en papillote with leeks and a white wine sauce. A simple dish where the quality of the ingredients shine. Finish with a Merveilleux, a light whipped cream and biscuit concoction - scrumptious.




The next day should be dedicated to culture. We visited the Palais des Beaux Arts, which is often called the second museum of France, owing to its enormous size and incredible collection. Most pieces are from the 17th to 19th century and whilst a true art lover could easily spend days getting lost amongst the pieces in this collection, we spent just a couple of hours before moving on to more modern art. The ‘Lam’ as it's known, is home to an enormous collection of contemporary pieces and a sculpture park, which must be beautiful in warm weather. They always have events and exhibitions scheduled, with a particularly grand exposition of Alberto Giacometti’s work planned for later this year.

All of that art ought to more than fill up your final day, but please don’t board the Eurostar just yet, there is one more very important stop: Benoit’s Chocolate Shop. This cornucopia of sweets and chocolates is just incredible. Even if you just pop your head in to inhale the smells then it’s worth it, but of course, if you’ve left the children behind for the weekend, then a little box of goodies from here will certainly see you right back into their good books!

A weekend in Lille is full of great activities, shopping and culture, would you like to visit?

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