Natural Stone Paving Creating A Wow Factor For Your Home

Natural stone paving is a beautiful type of paving that you can use to bring the wow factor to your home. It has a type of beauty that can really make your home look luxurious and elegant. If you are thinking of natural stone paving for your home, then read on to find out about the benefits of this type of paving and why you should have it installed.

It's Classy

slate floor

As I've already said, natural stone paving is classy and elegant.  From marble to limestone, to slate and granite, natural stone paving adds a luxurious air to your home. Being completely natural and not artificial, the quality of natural stone paving always shines through.

It's Durable

Different stones will have different durability but generally, natural stone will be incredibly durable and suitable for the use in flooring both inside and outside of the home. That makes it long-lasting and cost-effective over the long-term compared to flooring options like vinyl which will have to be replaced. It's great for outside use especially. 

It's Non-porous

Natural stone paving is non-porous and easy to clean so this makes it perfect for flooring. You don't need any special equipment to keep in clean, just a brush to brush away the dirt and a soapy mixture to clean the paving is all that is needed and should suffice.

It's Unique

marble floor

Natural stone paving is unique and different. Bring made in the ground each stone has its own pattern that means every piece of paving is slightly different and unique, no two paving stones are the same. 

It's Generally Weather Resistant

If you want flooring to be weather resistant that natural stone paving is a great option. Weather won't affect its appearance due to its hard-wearing nature. It will also keep cool on a hot day which is perfect for a home in a warm climate. 

So as you can see there are a number of reasons you should consider natural stone paving inside your home and out.  Let me know what you think of this type of paving. Do you have a favourite natural stone?

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How To Give Your Living Room A New Lease Of Life

Interior design is a great way to break the monotony of everyday life during the globes current pandemic lockdown restrictions. Whilst splashing the cash may not be as easy as it used to be, you can still give you living room a new lease of life with a few simple changes that don’t necessarily have to break the bank.

Below, I have compiled a shortlist of highly impactful changes that will give you living room the boost it most deserves. So, let’s waste no further time and dive straight into it!

Quick Changes That Make A Difference


The following is a list of highly impactful changes that will give your living room a totally new feel.

Lighting



Lighting is absolutely essential when it comes to your living room. Your living room is one of the main rooms in the house, it’s a place for relaxation and the furniture/lighting should reflect this. For that reason, investing in the correct lighting is one of the best ways to change the whole feel of your living room space.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, sometimes it can be as simple as changing the light shades to allow for a softer light and adding reading lights for a different ambience. Dimming sidelights are readily available and give the living room an entirely new dynamic - take the photo above, the lighting would be softer with dimming sidelights, at a relatively cheap price too.

Picture Frames


Another great way to change the feel of your living room is a picture frame. They not only house beautiful art pieces, family portraits, and landscapes, they also give the room a centrepiece or focal point that makes the space feel complete. A picture frame can be relatively inexpensive and can seriously improve the feeling of your living space. 

New Wallcoverings



The walls that make up your living room are your canvas when it comes to style and room aesthetics. They are the base of your room and are hugely important when designing a room around a theme, for a certain feel or atmosphere.

Changing up the wallpaper or painting over the walls is a simple and quick way to give your living room a completely new style. A feature wall with an interesting wallpaper is an easy way to do this. It doesn’t have to costly either. You could also look at wall stickers or wall murals. Try looking in the sales for unusual wallpaper styles or decals

Accessories 



Living room accessories come in many shapes and sizes, but ultimately, we’re talking about pillows, throws, and side tables, as well as the little things like candles and coffee table books.  These, for me, are the cherries on the cake. The final touches to a room that finishes it off nicely. They will give your living that stylish touch that could complete the room nicely.

Try something new with your living accessories, like going for a new theme. Coastal-themed living room accessories can add a dash of calm and elegance to your space, perfect for relaxing and spending time with the family. It's a little bit like taking a piece of the beach into your living space.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it, a quick guide on how to give your living room a new lease of life without splashing the cash. Also, taking the time to do your research and choosing reputable sites like PicFrames.co.uk will not only save you money but any potential hassle of dealing with the less than reputable interior accessory retailers out there.

All the above changes can be made without putting too much financial strain on your life - and should be easy enough for most individuals to do as well. Whilst there are other ways to change up your living room space, these are some of the most impactful on a budget.


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Smart Ways To Save Money When Buying A House

If you are thinking of buying a house whether it's your first home, downsizing due to a change in circumstances or upsizing for a bigger family, almost everyone can agree that it's an expensive process. No one likes to waste money that's for sure. So let's have a look at some smart ways to save money when buying a home.

Check out special deals



Check out any special home buying deals that apply to you. First-time buyers that are under 40 have several schemes available to them such as the Lifetime ISA and there are also many Government-backed buying your home schemes which you can find about too if you are remortgaging.

Save a larger deposit

If you can afford it, it makes sense to save as much money as possible as a deposit for a mortgage. A normal deposit could be between 5 to 20%. The larger deposit you have the smaller monthly payments as you are taking out a smaller mortgage.

Shop around with fees



There are several fees associated with buying a house, such as legal fees, surveyor fees, valuation fees and stamp duty on a house over £125,000. Some of these fees such as stamp duty are fixed but others can vary, so shop around for the best rates and get some quotes in writing. A solicitor or licensed conveyancer is needed to buy a home and the later is usually cheaper.

Compare mortgage rates.

Mortgage rates can vary depending on your mortgage provider, how much the mortgage is and the loan to value. An online comparison site can let you see which mortgages are best for you. A site such as Mortgage Calculator will also help you find out the true cost of a mortgage and how much your outgoings will be, and help you work out if you should reduce the length of time of the mortgage which can save you money in the long run.

Insurances are not all equal

Buildings and contents insurance, as well as insurance for a buy to let, is virtually essential in this day and age to help insure your property and possessions from any damage and loss. Shop around for the best quotes online and carefully compare policies. Usually, a smaller excess or more comprehensive insurance will cost more but you may want to pay it for better coverage. This is one area where saving money on a cheaper policy may be a false economy.

Moving costs



Don't forget to factor in moving costs such as hiring a removal company or a van, getting mail redirected, packing equipment, and the inevitable takeaways until you get sorted.  

When looking to move you will probably need the minimum of a van to move your possessions.   Check out moving companies where you currently live or where you are going. Personal recommendations cannot be beaten, and also compare the prices quote for quote. Sometimes online recommendation can be misleading so be critical when reading them, check what you get for the money and also if they are insured. This article by Which magazine will help you choose the best moving company.

So here are some smart ways to save money when buying a house. Moving home doesn't have to be stressful or ridiculously expensive either, check out my article on packing tips for moving home to help you prepare for the move. Let me know if you have any hints or tips on how to save money when buying a house.

Five Great Reasons To Redecorate Your House

You’re stuck in the house during lockdown, and you get antsy because of it. The thing is, it’s the perfect time right now to look at your home and give it an overhaul. When you can’t go out, you do what you can when you have to stay in and redecoration is the project you didn't know you needed.

There is a lot involved in redecorating the house, so if you're going to get into this project you need to be prepared for it to be big. You get to stamp your personality all over your living space and feel fantastic for it, especially if you can’t buy a house right now. Design trends are making a comeback, and you should want to be a part of that so that you can have the house of your dreams! So, let’s check out five reasons now is the perfect time to redecorate your home.

bright chairs

1. You Need A Style Update

Things can get pretty stale when you are living in the same decor for years on end. Over time, you can get really tired of staring at the same four walls, so it’s time to update the style. We talked about design trends making a comeback, so why not look at what’s going on in the design world and see what’ll suit your house!

2. Kids, Kids & More Kids

When you add to your family, you need to give some rooms a breath of fresh air. They need a nursery, and then they grow out of farm animals and need an upgraded space in which to sleep. Your lounge space may need an extension to have a playroom, and that will need a good lick of paint, too!

3. You Want To Sell

When you redecorate your home, you can get it ready for sale. It’s called staging, and you may choose to redecorate to make it more appealing to buyers. You want to add light and make it modern while also making the space liveable! A neutral colour palette appeals to most people.

4. Your Lifestyle Is Changing

As we get older, we grow out of certain tastes and colour schemes that we have in our homes. As you get older, your home reflects your tastes. Maybe you are planning to downgrade now the kids are older, which means that you need to change what their bedroom was used for. You want to make sure that you get the most out of your space and that requires redecoration.

5. Increased Value 

You don't want to sell right now, but you will one day. The best way to add value to a house is to maintain it and change things around/ you can add extensions, open the rooms to make them a more open-plan living space. Adding value depends on what you’re doing to the house itself, but even the most basic changes will add something amazing to your house. Updating the flooring can change the look instantly.

Now is the time to change it all up - so, make your plans. You have a house to redecorate!

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Top 5 Tips to Make Your Home Look More Spacious

It is everyone’s wish to live in a less confined space, but finding a spacious house or expanding an existing one comes at an additional cost, which not everyone can afford. Cities are increasingly becoming crowded and land is now a scarce resource, meaning moving to a bigger house may not be an option. However, there are still ways in which you can make your small space feel bigger and eliminate the need to make structural changes. Let’s see some of the easy solutions to make your home feel more spacious without adding an extension.

Adopt The Proper Storage Solutions

shelves

According to Property advice, room organisation is one of the concepts that you need to address when looking for ways to make your home look spacious. Most of the space at home is lost due to lack of proper storage. You have to think out of the box instead of adopting the traditional solutions like the floor-standing cabinets. Floor to ceiling shelves is a good option as they help clear floor clutter and make the ceiling appear higher.

Another smart storage solution is the use of multifunctional furniture. This furniture include seats and coffee tables with storage spaces that can help keep some of the items that you don’t use regularly.

Add Mirrors To The Walls

mirror

Large mirrors can work miracles when it comes to making your home look spacious. Mirrors add more light to the room by reflecting any light from the outside, plus they reflect the room to give an illusion that there is more space. You can hang small mirrors on the walls or large floor-length mirrors. Just make sure that the mirror does not reflect a cluttered space because it will not work as planned.

Declutter

decluttering

One of the reasons why living spaces appear smaller is the accumulation of our possessions. You can free some space by simply eliminating what you don’t need. Walk from room to room and eliminate the things that you do not need. If an item adds no value to your home’s deco or it is not used regularly, you can store it outside the house or consider donating it to charity. Make regular de-cluttering a habit to keep the clear and calm spaces for long.

Make Some Furniture Changes

lounge

The type of furniture in a room and their arrangement play a big role in how spacious your rooms will be. Low furniture makes a room look bigger because they make the ceiling look high, but you should ensure that they show some floor space. Open legs furniture can be better compared to furniture that directly touches the floor because space beneath is still visible. Also, look for dining chairs that you can push under the table when they are not in use.

Furniture takes up most of the space at home, especially if the arrangement is wrong. To avoid that, change the position of the furniture that blocks the view of the room and use furniture that fit your space. You will also open up space by moving the larger furniture closer to the walls and ensuring that the walkways are wide open. Don’t push the furniture against the wall as it will make the room look cramped. Leaving a few spaces in between makes the space appear more open.

Use The Colours And Lighting Trick

light walls lounge


The colours you use also play a huge role when it comes to making a room look bigger. Walls with light colours are more reflective than dark colours and they make your space feel more open. Think of bright colours like light blue, white, light green and so on. The same applies to the material you use for your floor.

You can also transform your room using light. Simple changes like lighting up the dark corners and spreading out the lighting will open up your space and make the rooms look spacious. You can also utilise natural light during the day as it is brings in some warmth and an airy feeling. The use of natural light also blends your space with the outdoors, thus eliminating the boundaries. If the outside view is not pleasing, add some greenery near the windows.

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Buying A House Abroad: The Good, The Bad, And The Not So Ugly

Dreaming about buying a house abroad? Get the lowdown on all the benefits and pitfalls of buying overseas property, right here...

If you’ve often found yourself staring out at the dreary British sky and dreaming of warmer climates, then you’re not alone. In fact, around 970,000 Brits own a second home abroad. What with the constant stream of stunning blue skies and sandy beaches flooding your Instagram feed, and watching back-to-back episodes of A Place in the Sun, it’s hard not to want to join them.

So, should you take the plunge and buy your dream holiday home abroad? Maybe you see a property abroad as a great investment opportunity. Whatever the reason, it’s good to get an insight into the pros and cons of any big investment.

If you’re already thinking about getting in contact with an international property lawyer who can guide you through the process, don’t go anywhere. Here, we’ll be discussing the buying process and the benefits and drawbacks to buying a house abroad, so you can be certain this is the choice for you.

Things You Should Know About Buying a House Abroad

beach

There are a lot of factors surrounding buying a property abroad that are similar to buying a property in the UK. That said, there are many elements that are different, depending on which country you are buying in. Here’s a rough guide on what to look for when buying a house abroad.

Know The Basics

Some of the basic parts of the house-buying process are the same abroad as they are in the UK, such as:

You need to carry out searches on the property
You will enter into a contract that is agreed to by both parties
You will pay a deposit
You will sign a Title Deed which will reflect the change of ownership

However, things like the legal process, costs, and timescales can work very differently in various foreign jurisdictions. Do your research ahead of time, and be sure to seek the help of a financial adviser and international property lawyer along the way.

Work Out Your Budget

Although you may see some bargain property prices abroad, it’s important to remember that things like legal fees and taxes are often higher elsewhere than in the UK. Before you get carried away imagining what colour you’re going to paint the walls, it’s important to sit down and work out what your absolute maximum budget is.

Find out what all the extra fees will cost and, if you’re going to take a mortgage out in that country, find out what interest rates you can get. Taking the time to figure out all the finer details before you start looking at properties ensures you won’t land yourself in financial trouble later down the line.

Seek Advice From An Independent Lawyer

It may be tempting to use the lawyer the seller, agent, or developer recommends to you, but it’s vital that you seek advice from an independent lawyer. Often, when a seller recommends a lawyer, they are also acting on behalf of them, and you want to make sure that your best interests are being looked after.

If you’re using a lawyer from the UK, make sure that you check that they are registered with the Law Society and that they specialise in international property transactions. The government website has a guide to buying property abroad, with a list of English-speaking lawyers and translators to help.

Benefits Of Buying A House Abroad

happy people

There are many upsides to buying a house abroad. Some of these upsides may even be financially beneficial to you, so it’s definitely something to think about if you have some extra savings lying around. Some of the many benefits include:

Ready-Made Holiday Destination

One of the main benefits of buying a property abroad is that you will always have a place to stay in your favourite holiday destination. You don’t have to worry about booking ahead of time and what facilities there will be. You will be able to have all your creature comforts in your home away from home.

Source Of Income

If you are splitting your time between your home in the UK and your home abroad, you could always let out your property as a holiday rental when you’re not there. This can be a source of income to help pay for the mortgage. Alternatively, you might buy a property abroad solely as rented accommodation or as a holiday rental.

Long-Term Investment

Having a home abroad is really a long-term investment. When you plan your visits, you will only need to cover the cost of your flights and any spending money you wish to bring. So, if you return multiple times a year for years, you will save yourself money.

Having permanent accommodation waiting for you also means that you can avoid inflated prices during the peak holiday season. Instead, you can travel to your own accommodation, without having to worry about forking out thousands just for a nice hotel.

Invite Your Friends And Family

Girls in a pool

One of the great things about having a bolt hole you can escape to at the drop of a hat is that your friends and family can take advantage and join you. This is especially great if you’re looking to create some great memories with big family holidays, but without the accommodation costs.

Drawbacks Of Buying A House Abroad

Naturally, everything comes with cons, no matter how amazing the idea may be. Some of the practical drawbacks of buying a home abroad, which you certainly need to bear in mind, include:

Funding Your Property Abroad

One of the main disadvantages of having a second home overseas is that you will be paying for two mortgages, which is a significant debt. Many people will either remortgage their current home (a risky move) or will obtain a second mortgage in the UK or in the country they’re purchasing in.

Getting a foreign mortgage can be quite complex, so it’s important to seek advice from a specialist lawyer or financial advisor before going down this route. Ultimately, though, it’s important not to rely on your rental income to boost your funds. This may not always be guaranteed, and you could end up defaulting on your mortgage payments.

Fluctuations In The Exchange Rate

When you buy a property abroad you will, at some point, need to exchange your English money into the currency of the country you are buying in. Unfortunately, this means that you are at the mercy of the current exchange rate. So, you may get a better or worse deal at the time of purchase, but it is just pure chance and something that you can’t control.

No Variation In Holiday Destination

Having a home abroad will make you feel obligated to keep going back to this same destination time and time again to get your money’s worth. That’s why it’s important to make sure you pick the right location that you won’t get bored of. If you’re the type of person who loves to explore new places and have new adventures, then maybe investing in a property overseas isn’t the right move for you.

Maintaining Your Property Abroad

When daydreaming about their perfect holiday home, a lot of people may forget that the property still needs maintaining, even when they’re not there. If you’re only visiting for two or three months of the year, then you may need to hire a property management company for an ongoing fee.

Thinking about the upkeep of your home is also important when you’re viewing properties. Sure, that infinity pool or hot tub may look dreamy, but who’s going to look after it when you’re not there?

Buying a House During The Coronavirus Pandemic: How Things are Changing

computer

It won’t come as a surprise that COVID-19 has changed the way we do almost everything in life. Markets all over the world have been affected by lockdown restrictions, and that includes the property market. With lengthy lockdowns in many of the prime destinations, like Spain and Italy, how has this affected it all?

Buyer’s Market But Less Properties

A lot of the sales in countries within the EU are dependent on the sale of UK properties. After the UK government advised against people buying and selling their homes, the property markets abroad have also stalled. Property prices have, therefore, taken a hit, and Brits looking to sell their property abroad may be making a loss.

Virtual Viewings

As the pandemic progresses, things are starting to adapt. For example, many estate agents are now offering virtual house viewings, which are particularly useful if you are looking at properties in a country that is currently under a travel ban. Lockdowns have given people more time to makeover their homes ready for listing, meaning more properties may flood the market when the pandemic eases.

Fluctuating House Prices And Exchange Rates

The uncertainty of the Coronavirus and Brexit means that house prices and exchange rates are likely to fluctuate even more than usual for some time. If you’re looking to buy property abroad, it would be wise to keep an eye on the house prices and exchange rates to try to time your purchase. House prices are likely to shoot up once lockdown restrictions and travel bans ease. A dedicated currency broker can help you manage this.

Brexit And Beyond

Before the pandemic, many people were hoping to make the move to countries like Spain and other EU countries before the end of the Brexit transition period on the 31st December 2020. Although the deadline has passed to extend this period, it may still be an option for the UK government, considering the delays to talks caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

However, this isn’t a guarantee, and buyers and sellers may be more reluctant to proceed with property transactions until they know what will happen. It is clear, though, that lockdown has given people a chance to reflect on what they want from life and what their priorities are, which may prompt them to think about buying a second home abroad.

Weighing Up Your Options

Before buying a house abroad, it’s important to consider all the pros and cons and make a list of all the costs involved before making a decision. The current pandemic situation, and the looming deadline for the Brexit transition, should all be considered.

If you do decide to make your move and buy your dream holiday home, just make sure you seek the advice of an independent international property lawyer, a currency expert or financial adviser. Also, be sure to take your time before making any big decisions.

Have you recently bought a house abroad? How did you find the process? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Top Ten Tips For Decluttering Your Garden

The summer holidays are the perfect time of year for some outdoor decluttering. Clearing out your garden might seem like a big job, but if you break it down into easy steps, you can make it a day by day plan. You could spend a day each on the compost, wildlife projects, and garden toys and decorations. Once you finish each decluttering project you’ll be able to reward yourself for a job well done. Here are ten top tips for decluttering your garden.

Reduce garden waste

Wheelbarrow

The best way to dispose of garden waste, so things like grass clippings, weeds, dead plants, and hedge trimmings is with a compost heap. You can also add organic waste from your kitchen and all these ingredients will feed your soil. Here are some other alternative garden waste-free ideas. You could support wildlife by creating a worm bin or repurpose certain materials.

Ideally, you want to reduce waste, but if you feel like you’re going to have an excess of garden rubbish it might be an idea to hire a skip. Otherwise, you can sell or donate unused decking, topsoil, and paving slabs if they’re in good condition.

Replace old decking

Your decking might be in need of a bit of TLC, or replacing completely. If you’re looking for new decking, click here for more information. If you want to get rid of your old decking in a more eco-friendly way you can donate it online. Try advertising online on sites such as Freecycle. People will come and collect things for free, and you’d be surprised by what you get rid of.

Set up areas for wildlife

hedgehog

Wildlife is very important for your garden. As part of your decluttering project, you want to clear some space to attract bees and butterflies and other animals. Set up corners for hedgehogs to next in the cooler months, and they will be looking for a place to hibernate. You could even build a hedgehog house.

Organise your garden into different areas for wildlife and for your family to spend time together. Ensure you keep an eye on the conditions of these areas, particularly if you set up a hedgehog or insect house, you don’t want these to get ruined by moisture.

Reduce your garden tools collection

Go through your garden tool collection and check for any duplicates. You might find you’ve got old tools you never use. Duplicates can also go straight to the charity shop and old or broken ones might just have to be thrown away unless you can find creative ways to repurpose tools. This is a great way to declutter your toolbox.

Weeding

Rake up leaves, debris and get down to some weeding. This can be a daily task, and shouldn’t take long if you get on top of it. Trim back and prune any overgrowing or dead plants for regrowth next season. Once your flower beds are tidy, a handy tip is to use bark to discourage weeds from growing. Invest in an electric lawnmower as these are more eco-friendly. Your lawn will need mowing around once a week.

Don't forget to mow

Your lawn will need mowing around once a week. Also, using easy weed and feed fertilizer is recommended to kill off and prevent new weeds from sprouting while feeding fertilizer for a luscious lawn. BestOfMachinery will guide you on the best feed and weed products for your lawn.

Trim back overgrown plants

If you want to stick to a simple, low maintenance garden, avoid annual bedding plants. Cut a defined edge on your flowerbeds to prevent any overgrow into the lawn. Trim back overgrown hedges, shrubs, and trees. Dealing with overgrown plants can be a fair amount of work, but you’ll definitely see the benefits, your garden will appear much neater, and you’ll gain plenty of space.

Get the kids involved

water garden
Gardening is a great way for kids to get in touch with nature. You can teach them about ecology and the importance of maintaining a healthy habitat for wildlife. At the same time, they’ll give you a helping hand tidying it up. You could make it into a fun project or a game.

Get the kids involved in planting new seeds and watching them grow. You can choose fast options such as cress or salad leaves, so they’ll be able to see the results quickly. You can also use these for healthy packed lunch alternatives.

Check the condition of garden ornaments

If you’ve got garden decorations it’s a good idea to check the condition of these. Don’t let them clutter up the garden if they’re rusty or falling apart. It’s a good idea to choose second-hand items to decorate your garden as a more sustainable option. Alternatively, opt for more durable materials that will last longer. You can also find plenty of options for sustainable garden decorations online.

Don’t forget the shed

If you have a shed, outhouse or conservatory then this room might need a decluttering as well. Get rid of all unnecessary items and decide which you are able to donate, sell, or repurpose. Divide your shed into zones and try using the walls for storage to create more space. Many people often neglect these spares rooms and fill them with junk. Why not repurpose the space? You could get more use out of it.

After the initial decluttering of your garden. Make a list of daily and weekly tasks to keep it clean and tidy. Water your garden on days it doesn’t rain. With weekly trimming and raking, you can enjoy your garden more. Gardening is a long-term project, but if you dedicate a day to clearing out a few things you’ll have the space to work and enjoy it. With a few basic, albeit tiring jobs the results will be worth it. Learn to make your garden gorgeously tidy this summer.

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5 Interesting Places To Visit In Dorset

Dorset, a county in South West England is a stunning area with many beauty spots, hidden coves and sandy beaches perfect for day trips. As well as the beautiful Jurassic Coast, it has castles, islands and many National Trust properties too and is a great area to explore on your own, as a couple or with your family.  Check out accommodation options in Dorset if you are thinking of staying in the area. 

Let's have a look at 5 of the most interesting places to visit in Dorset according to me! This post is in collaboration with Hotels.com, but all views are my own. 

Durdle Door

Durdle Door

Durdle Door is a natural limestone arch part of the Jurassic Coast, an area of Dorset running from Exmouth to Studland Bay and known for its fossils. It's a free natural outdoor attraction owned by the Welds Family who own 12,000 acres of Dorset coast. It is accessible by car or bus and accommodation options nearby include independent cottages as well as holidays parks such as the Durdle Door Holiday Park. Lulworth Cove Visitor Centre is worth a visit, where you can learn more about the geological features of the Jurassic Coast, and after go fossil hunting.

Brownsea Island

Browsea Island Dorset

Brownsea Island is the largest island in Poole Harbour. Owned by the National Trust and managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust, it's a wildlife sanctuary and a great place to see red squirrels and a huge variety of birds including peacocks and terns. There is also an outdoor centre, where Baden Powell started the scouting movement, which is a cool place for camping and activities like archery and orienteering.

Corf Castle


Corfe Castle


Corfe Castle and the surrounding village is worth a visit if you are into history. A National Trust property, the castle is over 1000 years old and was built by William The Conqueror. The village and castle stand over a gap in the Purbeck Hills on the route between Wareham and Swanage. The village has a number of independent shops, cafes and pubs as well as accommodation options. Admission to the castle is £10 per adult and £5 per child with family tickets being available too at a small saving.


Portland Bill 


Portland Bill Lighthouse

Portland Bill is a narrow promontory (or bill) at the southern end of the Isle of Portland. It's famous for its lighthouse, which you can visit, built to protect ships from the rocky coast since 1906. Portland Bill is a great spot for spotting wildlife such as dolphins and seals as well as birds of prey amongst other birds. It also is home to over 28 species of butterflies and lots of beautiful wildflowers.  Admission to the lighthouse is £7.50 for adults, £5.50 for children, family tickets at a reduced rate also available.


Highcliffe Castle 


Highcliffe Castle

Highcliffe Castle, whilst not as old as Corfe Castle, is intriguing in its own way. A grade one listed mansion in the romantic gothic style, Highcliffe Castle is situated just ten miles away from Bournemouth. Take a tour for a small charge to find out about its history including being owned by Mr Selfridge of the London department store, and the two fires that destroyed the interior in the 1960s. The well-manicured grounds are worth a stroll, as well as the tearoom which is worth a stop for tea and delicious cake. Children can enjoy dressing up in period costumed and the outdoor trails. 

As you can see there are lots of interesting places to visit in Dorset, and these are just some of them. Please check the current opening hours of some of these attractions as they may be limited due to the Covid-19 situation to avoid disappointment. 

Let me know, do you have a favourite place to visit in Dorset?

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10 Reasons To Hire A Personal Trainer

So, after being stuck at home for four months, many of us have put on some unnecessary pounds, with the lack of exercise and the banana bread mountain you may have been baking. You look at yourself in the mirror and look nine months pregnant, and think what now? Well, what about hiring a personal trainer to get you into shape?  Let's have a look at the reasons to hire a personal trainer and the benefits to you. 

They can help you start a regime 

personal trainer

If you are not sure where to start with exercise, maybe you haven't taken any exercise for a long time or want to get started again, a personal trainer can help assess your needs and goals and look at creating an exercise regime in collaboration with you. 

They can show you how to do the exercises correctly

A personal trainer can be a wealth of knowledge about health and fitness. They can advise you on how to warm up and cool down properly. If you are using them in a gym they can show you how to use the weights and other equipment effectively and safely. All personal trainers should have undergone training and be certified to show they are experts in training. 

They can help you lose weight

Of course, hiring a personal trainer isn't a magic wand to weight loss but they can certainly help you lose weight in conjunction with a dietary plan. They may be able to advise you on diet as well as exercise and the best food for a healthy sustainable weight loss.

They can hold you accountable

Knowing that you have to check in with your personal trainer every time you meet, means that you are accountable for what you do knowing someone is checking up on you. A personal trainer can also hold you accountable for your goals and whether you are meeting them or not. They can also help you analyse any problems.

They can motivate you 

When you are feeling tired a personal trainer can motivate you and make you go that extra mile. They can remind you why you want to reach your goals which can be an extra incentive when your motivation is poor.

They can suggest ways to change your routine 
A personal trainer can help
If you are bored with the same exercise routine or not seeing the results you want, a personal trainer can look at what you are doing with their knowledge and expertise and suggest ways in which you can change your routine.

They can help you challenge yourself

A personal trainer can be good at pushing you and challenging you. If you think you can't do an extra 5 minutes on the bike, they will help motivate you so you can. If you think you can't run any more miles, they will help push you that extra mile. They can help you set challenges for yourself and help you smash them.

They can track your progress 

A personal trainer will help you track your progress, whether that is in reps on weight, distance run, the speed you cycled, BMI and more.  They can track every step of the way of your fitness journey. 

They can be a workout partner 

A personal trainer can be a workout partner, guiding you through the workouts and leading by example. Have a workout partner like this can help with motivation too. 

They can offer training specific to a sport

If you are training to compete in a sport, such a half or full marathon, a swim event or a tennis match or competing national or internationally, a personal trainer can help you train and make you focus on your goal and getting there. 


fitness instructor

If you think a personal trainer is a good idea, then do your research to find the right personal trainer for you, like the ones on www.bark.com, as every trainer is different, has different skills and abilities. Check they are certified from a professional body and that they know what they are doing.

Let me know, would you hire a personal trainer? 

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5 Health Checks You Should Have Done Regularly

When it comes to our health, plenty of us take proper care of it whilst others can be a little more reckless. However, there are a few different health checks you should have done regularly to ensure you are in the best shape.

Blood Pressure



You should be having a blood pressure check fairly regularly and the test will find out whether you have normal blood pressure or if it is too high or too low. High blood pressure can put a strain on your arteries and organs, making strokes or heart attacks more likely.

Low blood pressure isn’t generally as serious but can have some horrible side effects such as fainting or dizzy spells. If yours is too high or low, your doctor will give you some advice on how to help this - it may mean a change in diet, stopping smoking or drinking or perhaps even taking some medication to control it.

Diabetes



You may not necessarily get checked for this that regularly if you aren’t showing any symptoms but if you are showing any, it is important to get checked out as diabetes left untreated can very serious. Symptoms include feeling very thirsty, feeling extremely tired, urinating more often and more. Check out the NHS site for symptoms you should look out for. Your doctor will test your blood or your urine and if you have it, start you on the best course of action. 


There are two different types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2 as well as gestational diabetes that you can get during pregnancy, and there are different ways of controlling these, with diet, tablets and insulin.

Cholesterol



If you suffer from high cholesterol, you may not have any symptoms which is why it is so important to get this checked regularly. You will only find out if you have it by having a blood test and there are many exacerbating factors why a GP may make you have a test. However, if you are of a certain age or obese you might be more likely to have it. 

You can check your cholesterol at home with a finger prick test kit. To help prevent high cholesterol, a diet low in saturated fat and salt and high in fruit and vegetables is recommended by the British Heart Foundation and Heart UK.

Ears, Nose and Throat



Something that often gets forgotten about is the ENT section of your body - ears, nose and throat. This is quite baffling really when you consider just how many different things you can have wrong with them. There is never any harm in getting these areas checked out due to the amount that can go wrong and a London ENT Clinic will be able to find out what the problem is, being the specialists that they are.

Cancer Screenings



Finally, and one of the most important, cancer screenings. We should all be checking our breasts or our testicles regularly and seeing the doctor if we find anything unusual but there are certain areas of our bodies that we cannot check which need a doctor. We should all be having regular check-ups at the doctors for these - every three years for smears, for example. When you are over the age of 40 health checks need to be more regular too. However, it is important to get checked even more regularly if you spot something unusual.

Can you think of any other health checks you should have done regularly?

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Sophia Alexander Jewellery - Personalised Jewellery Made With Love

I like supporting small businesses and today I have a fantastic British business to bring you - Sophia Alexander Jewellery. Lucille is the main designer and business owner so let's hear from her about what makes her jewellery company unique and special. 

Could you explain how you started your business?



I originally set up my business 14 years ago in 2006 after my first child was born. At the time, I was working in an administrative role at a well-known University and loved what I was doing, but despite being offered part-time hours when my maternity leave ended, I was hesitant to return.

I’d had a difficult pregnancy; I’d had a serious road traffic accident at 8 months pregnant and I was struggling with a chronic health condition. In addition to this, when I did return to work, I found that my job description had changed significantly. Something needed to change.


So I decided to put some previous sculpture training and experience to use, and I set up an independent company casting baby hands and feet in polished bronze. The baby casting work was really rewarding. I loved working with so many babies and families, but it was totally dependent on either me travelling to client’s homes or them coming to me.

I live in the middle of the Suffolk countryside. It’s beautiful, but it is the middle of nowhere and it became increasingly obvious that it was the wrong location. Then I discovered fingerprint jewellery. I already knew how to work with wax and metal and I found that working in gold and silver was very similar.

It was a turning point. Something I could do using my existing skillset, that could be done remotely, meaning I could take better care of my health.

Tell us more about what you sell


Today, Sophia Alexander is a luxury British jewellery brand. We specialise in making personalised jewellery and modern family heirlooms that feature customers own unique fingerprint impressions, handprint, footprint and pet print impressions. We work with prints from anyone – birth to one hundred years old and more. We also work with cats, dogs, horses – even the odd tortoise!

Every personalised necklace, ring and charm is made using 9ct gold, 18ct gold, fairtrade gold and silver. We also make wedding rings in both platinum and titanium.

We personalise pieces further by adding gemstones, diamonds, hand-engraved names and personal messages, and we send our jewellery to clients around the world.

What makes your jewellery so special?



After 14 years, I think I’ve perfected my process. I handcraft every piece of jewellery myself using the finest materials I can source and treat every commission as if it was my own.

Every piece is made to feel like it’s really been touched by someone special. You can run your finger over the impressions and feel every line and detail.

I work with a team of expert craftspeople from around the UK. Together, we ensure that every diamond set and every letter engraved is perfect. 


I am very aware that I’m making memories for people. I’m capturing the prints of special people. Capturing life stories and unforgettable moments. I’ve made wedding rings for couples, who’ve then come back to me when each of their children were born, and I’ve made pendants for those same people when they’ve lost a loved one.

We really are with our customers for the journey. I want them to love their jewellery and treasure it forever.

Can you explain the process of taking the fingerprints, handprints and footprints?



The impressions for each type of jewellery we make are taken quickly and easily at home. Once an order has been placed, we phone each new client to ensure the personal details given online are correct. A complimentary gift-wrapped impression kit is then posted out via Royal Mail Recorded Delivery or Special Delivery (if a specific delivery date is required).

We supply different impression kits for fingerprint jewellery, handprint jewellery, paw print and hoof print jewellery. 
A detailed instruction book is included with each kit, but we’re always here in the studio for clients who need assistance. We can answer questions or even set up a Zoom call if preferred. 

Three-dimensional fingerprint impressions are taken using a skin-safe moulding material that is suitable for taking the fingerprints of even young infants.
Handprint, footprint and pawprint impressions are taken using a special inkless paper and wipe system. It’s a safe and mess-free way of taking incredibly detailed prints that is used in U.S hospitals to identify newborn babies and their mothers. 


Ink fingerprint impressions required for wedding rings are taken using a non-permanent ink pad. The loops, whorls and arches of the fingerprint are clearly defined, and the ink is easily removed by rubbing the fingers together.
Hoofprints are taken using a large box of soft pink impression foam, capable of taking deep three-dimensional impressions from ponies and large horses. The foam is pressed onto the hoof and the box removed, leaving the hoof dry and clean.

Once our clients are happy with their prints, they simply return them using the pre-paid packaging provided, although we are perfectly happy to work from scanned or photographed copies of inkless handprint impressions and inked fingerprint impressions.

What’s your most popular item?


That’s a really difficult question because every commission is so totally unique and it also changes depending on the time of the year. I find star-shaped necklaces are very popular at Christmas. Demand for heart-shaped necklaces and charm-beads always goes through the roof coming up to Mother’s Day. April, May and June are affectionately known as ‘silly season’ for wedding rings and leading up to Father’s Day, I make almost nothing but handprint cufflinks.

I find that people definitely lean towards simple shapes, so oval and disk-shaped necklaces never seem to fall out of fashion, but if I had to say what was my overall bestseller, I’d have to say my petite heart-shaped fingerprint necklaces in both 9ct and 18ct gold. These have been consistently popular for well over a decade.

Who or what inspires you?



As a small business owner, I find Holly Tucker (MBE) who co-founded Not On The Highstreet very inspirational. To have a great idea and then build a brand of that magnitude from the ground up, is beyond impressive. Connecting independent artisan businesses and craftspeople with audiences who would never stumble across them otherwise. Once you’ve run a small business for any length of time, you appreciate how much goes into something like that. That’s an astonishing amount of work right there.

In addition to this, she has also set up the charity organisation The Happy Bricks Foundation and she now runs a new business called Holly & Co, under the umbrella of which she helps support and guide female founders and small independent, creative entrepreneurs.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?


It’s taken me a very long time to build my business into the brand you see today and it’s taken me even longer to be able to take a step back and appreciate how far I’ve come without constantly berating myself for not working faster or achieve more.

The thing is, every time I look at it, I see something else I could design or improve because that’s the thing with owning your own business. You’re never done. It’s a constantly evolving being and there’s always more to do. So here is some advice from someone who’s been there:

  1. As an independent brand, your reputation is everything! Focus on doing one thing at a time and focus on doing that really, really well. Try to make a bit of progress every day. Even if it’s just reeling off some emails, writing a few paragraphs or making some calls. Then, even if the whole day (week, month) goes awry, you will have still moved forward.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to every other company out there. Yes, social media is full of entrepreneurs who are crushing it with their six-figure businesses. You can’t scroll for more than 3 minutes without seeing ads for at least 10 of them and it can make your dreams feel impossibly out of reach. Especially when you don’t have the money, or the time, or the childcare – yet. Just remember that a lot of the time, those ads are smoke and mirrors. Focus on what you need to do.

Sometimes, every now and then, life happens and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it but learn to adapt – quickly. Learning to deal with overwhelm is such an important part of running your own business. If you can easily deal with day-to-day overwhelm, you’ll find it much easier to cope when life throws you a curveball.

If you want to check out the gorgeous personalised and unique jewellery, be sure to visit the Sophia Alexander Jewellery website and you will be smitten. 

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Ruby And Oscar - Exquisite Jewellery That's Fashion Led

I love a bit of colour in my life. That is why I am drawn to coloured gemstones. Of course,, diamonds are stunningly beautiful but coloured gemstones are where my heart lies. So when Ruby and Oscar, the jewellery website that features coloured gemstones got in touch recently, I was excited to see the jewellery that they offer. This ad contains affiliate links.

Who are Ruby and Oscar?


Ruby and Oscar are a passionate British jewellery company based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Employing the best jewellery designers available they encourage creative flair so that every piece is stylish and crafted with the utmost care. 

They follow jewellery trends closely so that their website reflects the fashion of the moment, and thus bringing a dynamic collection of wearable jewellery to their customers. 

There are many pieces that I love from the Ruby and Oscar website and I was surprised at how affordable they are.  Here are some of my favourites below and some of their bestsellers too.

Opal
Opal necklace

I love this opal pendant in sterling silver. The classic teardrop shape is elegant and the opal looks amazing in the sterling silver setting. You can also have a choice of chain length from 16 inches to 22 inches at no extra cost, which I think is a great idea. Opals like this take on the colour of what the person is wearing so will look slightly different every day.

About Opals

Opals are hardened silica and have an iridescence that sparkles in the light. This makes every opal unique and different. Opals are thought to reflect the mood and emotions of the wearer. Opals are softer than some gemstones and are best kept for necklaces, bracelets and earrings. 

Tanzanite


I have yet to meet a woman that doesn't love the gemstone tanzanite, so when I saw these earrings I thought my readers would adore them. These tanzanite and cubic zirconia drop earrings are extremely glamorous. Set in sterling silver, the pear cut tanzanite sits in the centre of these beautiful vintage-inspired drop earrings and the cubic zirconia glitters in the light.

About Tanzanite

Tanzanite is the blue and violet variety of the mineral zoisite. Genuine tanzanite is only found in Tanzania in a very small mining area and this makes it much sought after. Tanzanite is not a hard stone so it's best used as a necklace or earrings as opposed to a ring. It is thought to be good for emotional healing.

Amethyst
amethyst necklace

Of all the jewellery on the Ruby and Oscar website, this amethyst heart necklace is their top seller and it's easy to see why. A simple asymmetrical heart, in inset with an amethyst stone. This modern silver heart necklace is set on a silver chain which is available in lengths from 16 inches to 22 inches available. This necklace would make a gorgeous gift for someone that is cherished and loved. 

About Amethyst

Amethyst is a violet variety of the mineral quartz. Thought to be a powerful and protective stone, the ancient Egyptians valued it greatly and carved amulets out of amethyst. Amethyst is the birthstone of February. 

Sapphire
sapphire bracelet

This sapphire bracelet above is my next choice. The sterling silver three stone tennis bracelet is exquisite, the sapphires are a deep blue and the small charms either side of the sapphires are diamond-cut giving a subtle sparkle. The lobster claw clasp adds some security to the bracelet too so it won't fall off your arm.

About Sapphires

Sapphires are a very precious stone, part of the corundum family and much sought after. Whilst available in a variety of colours, the most popular colour is navy blue. Sapphires are a hard gemstone, and suitable for use in all jewellery including rings. Sapphire is the birthstone of September and is a stone used to celebrate the 45th wedding anniversary.

Ruby
ruby ring

My choice for a ring from the Ruby and Oscar website is this heart-shaped ruby ring with shoulder set diamonds set in 9 carat white gold. A symbol of everlasting love, the heart shape is a classic romantic token. The small round brilliant cut diamonds set into the shoulders add that lovely sparkle to this exceptional ring. Considering the ring is made of white gold, the price is excellent too. 

About Rubies

Rubies are a precious stone also from the corundum family. Rubies are generally pink to blood-red in colour and are prized for their colour. One of the most popular gemstones, rubies are the birthstone of July and a ruby gift is traditional for a 40th wedding anniversary.

Ordering and delivery


Every item of jewellery on the Ruby and Oscar website is hallmarked and produced to British and European standards, ensuring the quality is high. Ruby and Oscar even provide a lifetime warranty, which means in case of any problems they will offer a free repair or replacement.

All items from their website are sent to the UK with free insured and tracked delivery so you always know where your gift is in the delivery chain. Jewellery on the Ruby and Oscar website is conflict-free and they can trace their gemstones back to the source. They strongly oppose destructive mining practices and support fair pay in the mining communities. 

Read more about Ruby and Oscar jewellery ethos here.

As you can see, the jewellery on the Ruby and Oscar website is beautiful and affordable and their ethos of ethically sourced jewellery is fantastic too.  I definitely recommend a browse of the Ruby and Oscar website especially if you have a birthday coming up, or why not treat yourself? Check out the summer sale on for up to 50% off jewellery. 

Let me know, which items of jewellery have caught your eye from Ruby and Oscar?

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