Memories In Music - My Personal Choices Through The Decades

Music has always been a big part of my life, so when Chums recently launched a campaign called Memories In Music I thought it would be interesting to take part. This is a post about my love of music, and which songs played a part in my life. These songs are some of my favourites, and there is a personal reason to why I have picked them. This is an advertorial.

music tape



I grew up in the 70s when listening to the chart show was part of my Sunday evening. Who remembers hovering over the radio, ready to record the music on tape, then having to forward slightly after each song in case it recorded over the end of the previous one? Then labelling each tape and putting some sticky tape over the top so your mum didn’t record over it. I grew up listening to my dad's favourites singers - Elvis, Kenny Rogers, and John Denver my mum's favourites - Simon and Garfunkel and Queen. I also loved singing in school in the choir.

The 1970s

My first album was Grease. I went to see the film at the cinema with my mum and dad and loved it. It was the time where you could stay in the cinema and watch it again, and we did! The next day I curled my hair like Olivia Newton-John put on my jeans and denim jacket and strutted along the street. I was 7 or 8!

Top Songs Of The 1970s

You're The One That I Want - John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
Such a great song from a fantastic feel-good film.

The Sound Of Silence - Simon and Garfunkel
A beautifully written song, the lyrics have so much meaning. It was so hard picking one of their songs as The Boxer and Bridge Over Troubled Water are also favourites. 

John Denver - Take Me Home Country Roads
I have always been a John Denver fan and I've sung this song with my online choir many a time. This makes me want to go to West Virginia. I also have a soft spot for Grandma's Feather Bed and Annie's Song.

The 1980s

record

Then in the 80’s I was an avid Top Of The Pops fan. The Radio 1 roadshow always went to Barry Island or Porthcawl and I went one year to see Gary Davies but it was packed! This was the decade I found music, listening to Duran Duran, Prince and Nik Kershaw. When I heard Prince had died in 2016 I was devastated, Growing up his music had been a big part of my life. I had many of his albums and the Purple Rain album was my favourite. 

Top Songs Of The 1980s

This Old House - Shakin Stevens
This was the first single I ever bought on vinyl. Ok, I know, it's pretty awful!

When Doves Cry - Prince
An amazing song that still stands the test of time. RIP Prince, a true genius.

Wouldn't It Be Good - Nik Kershaw
Great pop song and I was in his fan club! 

The 1990s

The 90s was my hardcore decade listening to rock music. The sounds of this decade were Nirvana, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Aerosmith. I went to the Monsters of Rock festival in Donnington and saw Aerosmith in concert at Donnington and Birmingham. I was at the front and the sight of Steve Tyler's skin-tight red see-through catsuit will be forever burned into my mind! I still had a love for Whitney Houston though, and have a soft spot for a ballad that can be belted out.

Top Songs Of The 1990s

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
It's just a brilliant anti-establishment song. Kurt Cobain in a legend. RIP

I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston
This is one of the best pop ballads ever. The song starts low and builds to a crescendo and Whitney's voice is perfect. RIP another legend gone too soon.

Give It Away - The Red Hot Chilli Peppers
I just love this band, their mix of rock and funk is just perfect. Probably my favourite band.

The 2000s

The 2000s were dominated by Eminem, Lady Gaga and the Killers for me, but I also loved the soft melancholic Damien Rice and the haunting voice of Jeff Buckley. Songwriting is very important to me and the lyrics of Damien Rice and James Blunt resonated as well. 

Top Songs of the 2000s

Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley
The song lyrics written by Leonard Cohen are perfect but it's Jeff Buckley's version that gives me chills. RIP.

Stan - Eminem
Love the hook, this song brought Eminem to my attention and Dido is great. The lyrics are about an obsessed fan. Dido's Thank You is also excellent, and although sounds similar has a totally different vibe.

Mr Brightside - The Killers
Fun, cheerful song, great to dance to - if you have the energy!

The 2010s

cds

The 2010s for me was all about Adele, Avicii, musical soundtracks like A Star Is Born and the Greatest Showman. When I heard Avicii had committed suicide it really struck a chord, another life gone too soon. In 2016, I did a musical road trip, I visited New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville and went to the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Theatre. From my visit to Nashville, I started listening to new country singers and old country music again such as Johnny Cash and Eric Church. 

This decade found my husband and I travelling more and becoming bloggers and travel Vloggers over at Fly Drive Explore where we started road tripping. For every road trip, we would make a playlist for our driving.  Here is our Route 66 playlist. At the end of this decade, I joined an online choir, the first time I have sung in a choir since my school days.

Top Songs Of The 2010s

Shallow - Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
I loved the 70s film version of A Star Is Born and the new remake is amazing. I wanted to put a Lady Gaga song in my list, I think she is a genius and I would so love to see her in concert.  A fantastic ballad.

Wake Me Up - Avicii
I used to go to the gym and listen to this on my headphones as well as One Republic's Counting Stars. Both of these songs are high energy excellent to work out to. Sadly Avicii committed suicide in 2018. RIP.

Hurt - Johnny Cash
If you have never heard this song, please seek it out on YouTube. At the time Johnny Cash was dying of cancer and it's such a melancholic version of this song by Nine Inch Nails. When I went to Nashville in 2016 I visited the Johnny Cash museum and became a big fan then. RIP.

So that was one of the hardest posts I've ever written! Let me know some of your favourites songs and why. What memories do they bring up for you?

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Typical Costs Involved With Buying A New Home In The UK

Buying a home in the UK can be costly, there are no two ways about it. So if you are thinking of buying a new home then you need to budget for these costs. Let's have a look at some of the costs involved with buying a new home in the UK. This is an ad.

Deposit

new home

When you buy a property, if you are needing a mortgage (a loan to buy your home) you will need to put a deposit down on the house. This could be anything from 5% to 20% or more. As you can see that's a large amount of money and it's a good idea to set up a savings account beforehand, in some cases years in advance to get your deposit ready.

Valuation Fee

The mortgage lender will assess the value of the property to establish how much they are prepared to lend you. Depending on the type of mortgage you may need to pay a valuation fee which is around £250 on average. 

Surveyors Fee

Before you buy a property it is important to get a survey done. This will show up any problems with the property such a
s structural damage. This can help prevent you make a mistake in buying the property but can also be a bargaining tool to get a cheaper price if there are problems. A surveyor's costs will vary depending on the type of property, its size and location and will cost anything from £350 to over £800. 

Stamp Duty

Stamp duty is a tax to the government paid when you buy a property. You pay this to your solicitor and then they pay the government for you. This applies to properties in England and Northern Ireland and is a percentage of the value over £500,000 but over £300,000 if you are a first-time buyer. In Scotland and Wales its a devolved issue so they have their own rules. 

Legal Fees

moving

Legal fees are carried out by a solicitor or conveyancer and are typically from £500. These can be a set fee or a percentage of the property so it's best to check carefully. Local searches are also carried out and will cost another £300-£400. 

Land Registry Fees

The Land Registry keeps records of all properties in England and Wales and charges a fee for registering a new owner. This can depend on property price but it is typically in the region of £100 to £150. 

Mortgage insurance

Ensure you get mortgage protection so that if something serious happens such as death or disability then the mortgage is paid off. This is really important for peace of mind. There are two main types - Level term cover and decreasing term cover. 

Moving Costs

There are some significant costs with moving. You may want to pay for a professional cleaner to clean your old property first. Then there is the cost of hiring a removal service or van hire if you are doing it yourself. You may want to put some of your items in storage so you need to factor in that cost. Mail redirection can be set up with the Royal Mail. Check out my 9 ways to take the stress out of moving for more advice. 

So as you can see buying a new home costs a lot of money so start saving now. 

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Why Does Netflix Geo-Block Its Content?

Netflix has the potential to be the best streaming platform on the web, but its use of geo-blocking is holding it back. If you’re not sure what that is, it’s how Netflix splits its site into different regional libraries. So some titles are available in certain countries while others aren’t. This is an advertorial.

If you don’t believe us, go ahead and use ProPrivacy’s new StreamCatcher tool to check some Netflix shows and movies. One simple search was all it took to find out that Shameless (U.S.), true to its name, is only available in the US, and that Doctor Who can only be watched in the UK.

Because Netflix uses geo-blocks, some content libraries have more variety than others. Right now, the US, UK, and CA libraries are at the top with nearly 6,000 titles each. Doesn’t feel fair, does it? You mostly pay the same price as everyone else, so why don’t you get access to all the content?

Let's take a look at why Netflix uses geo-restrictions in this article, and we’ll also offer you unblocking solutions that actually work.

So Why Does Netflix Use Geo-Blocks?


Because it’s the only way they can respect the licensing agreements they signed with copyright holders.

Here’s the thing – Netflix doesn’t own all the content on its platform. So it needs to license it from the companies that own it. However, they can’t always get global rights.

Why?

Because the copyright holders already sold the rights for other countries to different streaming sites and TV networks. So while Netflix has the right to stream Dexter in the US, it can’t do that in the UK since Sky GO owns the licensing rights there.

Besides that, Netflix won’t buy rights for a certain show in a specific country if its data mining shows that users have no interest in it. It’s not a very profitable move for them, after all. And seeing how licensed content is a huge part of their budget, they can’t afford to make any mistakes.

Why Does Netflix Geo-Block Netflix Originals?

Okay so it makes sense why they geo-block the content they don’t own, but what’s the deal with geo-blocking Netflix Originals?

Well, most of the time, they’re available wherever Netflix is. But there are some exceptions – like Orange Is the New Black or Lilyhammer. Those shows came out when Netflix wasn’t available worldwide. So the platform sold the licensing rights to third parties in the countries where their service wasn’t present.

Even though Netflix has a global presence now, they still can’t stream their Originals in countries where they don’t own the rights anymore. Instead, they have to wait for them to expire and try to buy them back.

That’s easier said than done, though, since the current rights holders can ask for absurdly high prices. Or Netflix’s data mining might show that there’s no longer enough interest in your region to warrant a buyback.

Can You Bypass Netflix’s Geo-Blocking?

stream catcher


Okay, so Netflix has a good reason to use geo-blocking. But is there anything you can do to get around it? Waiting for them to release certain titles in your area certainly isn’t an option right now.


You have three ways to unblock Netflix:


1. Use a VPN

VPNs are online tools that hide your IP address and encrypt your traffic. Here’s how they help you unblock Netflix:


  • You use a VPN app to connect to a VPN server.
  • The two establish an encrypted connection.
  • When you visit Netflix, the VPN server will act as a middleman between it and your device. Basically, it will intercept your connection requests, and forward them to Netflix.
  • Due to that, Netflix believes your requests are coming from the VPN server. Since requests contain IPs, Netflix only sees the VPN server’s IP address. Your device’s IP remains “hidden.”
  • That’s it – Netflix can’t see your geo-location anymore.

You just need to use a VPN server that’s in the same country as the content you want to unblock (so a UK server for UK-only titles).

And here’s another cool perk – by encrypting your traffic, your ISP can’t throttle your bandwidth anymore. They won’t know you’re binging Netflix, just that you’re using a VPN.

To find a really good Netflix VPN, use ProPrivacy’s new StreamCatcher tool. When you look up a Netflix title, it tells you where it’s available, and it also recommends the best VPNs for the job.


2. Use a Proxy

Proxies work just like VPNs – they hide your IP address by routing your traffic through a server that sits between you and Netflix. So the server’s location has to match the country where the content is available.

Here’s how a proxy is different from a VPN, though:
  • It doesn’t use strong encryption (or any at all). So stopping bandwidth throttling is out of the question.
  • It can save requested content on a local cache. If you end up requesting it, the proxy can retrieve it without forwarding your requests to Netflix. So you get faster load times (but might also get outdated content).

3. Use a Smart DNS

This is an online tool that spoofs your geo-location by tweaking your DNS settings and routing your traffic through various proxy servers around the world.

Furthermore, it intercepts your DNS queries and removes any metadata that leaks your geo-location. Then, it replaces it with new data that’s linked to a whitelisted region (so the US for US-only content).

Smart DNS services are a popular alternative to VPNs since they don’t slow down your speeds at all. That also means they don’t offer encryption, though (so no way to prevent bandwidth throttling). It’s worth mentioning that most of the top VPNs on the market offer Smart DNS functionality alongside their main VPN service.

How Do You Feel about Netflix’s Use of Geo-Blocks?

Do you think it’s unfair, or do you believe it’s just something they need to do to follow the rules? Please tell me your opinion in the comments below and check out our post on why you need to use a VPN when travelling.

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9 Ways To Take The Stress Out Of Your Next Move

Moving home should be an exciting and pleasant experience, free from worry or stress, and packed with fond memories. You should be able to look forward to this time, though a lot of people find themselves feeling stressed about it. I'm going to take a look at nine of the best ways to take the stress out of a move, giving you the chance to breathe easy when you go through this process for yourself. This is an advertorial.

1: Record Your Plans

packing list

While it may sound a little obvious, most people don’t take the proper steps to prepare when they are moving home. You need to consider every aspect of this day, making it difficult to feel confident that everything is covered. Keeping a record of your plans will make it much easier to tick every box. This can start with a simple checklist of each of the things you have to do, but you need to make sure that each element of given the same level of attention.

2: Find The Right Removal Experts

Most cities and towns are home to plenty of removals companies. This gives you access to all of the support you’ll need when it comes to moving home, but it’s worth spending the time to find an option that will be good for you. You should look at reviews for each removals company you find, making sure that other customers have had a pleasant experience with them. Alongside this, it’s also worth exploring your options to make sure that you’re getting the best deal.

3: Figure Out The Floorplan

Next, it’s time to think about your new home a little bit. Your floorplan should be available to you, and this can give you the chance to plan where everything is going to go. Each piece of furniture should have a destination, but you can go even further with this if you have the time for it, giving all of your possessions a place in your new home before you get there. This will make it much easier to create a smooth unpacking experience at the other end of your trip.

4: Buy Some Boxes

packing boxes

Boxes can make a huge difference when you’re moving home, but most people find that simply saving old boxes from products isn’t enough. eBay and Amazon are packed to the brim with listings for boxes that will be great for moving, and your removals company may even provide this for you. Thick cardboard is a good option, though plastic boxes will often be better for more fragile items.

5: Pack According To Rooms

With a floorplan mapped out, you can start to think about how you’re going to pack everything up. Boxes should always be assigned to rooms, ensuring that everything destined for a room is consolidated into a range of boxes. These can be labelled, and you can also prepare them for shipping by padding out your boxes. With your boxes packed like this, you will be able to move them straight to the rooms they are destined for.

6: Keep An Inventory

While having items in the right boxes will help, it can also be a good idea to make a record of which boxes your most important items go into. It can be all too easy to be stuck without something that you need when you’ve just moved home, with a lot of people having to unpack everything into a big mess. You can save yourself this pain by simply taking some photos on your phone.

7: Assign Jobs

Your removals company will do a lot of the work for you during your move, but you can pitch in and make the whole process smoother. Your family members can all get involved with this. Assigning jobs to each person ahead of time will mean that everyone can get down to business with their work in the new house without wasting time talking about it. Of course, though, you need to make sure that you don’t get in the way of the pros.

8: Give Yourself Breaks

taking a break moving

Packing everything into a day or two for your move will leave you with very little time to think. Planning ahead will help with this, but it also makes sense to give yourself breaks throughout the day to ensure that you don’t get overwhelmed. It doesn’t always feel like you have time to take a break, but it can be well worth doing it. This sort of action can clear your head, saving you from making costly mistakes that don’t need to happen.

9: Leave Plenty Of Time

Time is always an issue when people are moving home. You will have a limited window to coordinate all of this work in, and it can be all too easy to run out of time. It’s always worth starting your packing early, booking ahead with your removals company, and giving yourself the chance to take breaks when you are moving home. If you think you’ll need a day, it makes sense to have two available, ensuring that you can’t run out of time no matter the delays you face.

Having all of this organised before the day of your move will make the whole process feel a lot smoother. You’ve got a lot of work to do before you can settle into your new place, and it’s always worth taking the time to plan it out and consider every step along the way. This post should be enough to get you started, but you still have plenty of research to do, and there’s no time like the present to take the plunge.


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What You Should Be Looking For In An Accessible Holiday

Accessibility is so important. If you have mobility or accessibility problems ensuring your everyday life is accessible is hard enough but finding an accessible holiday can be incredibly difficult sometimes. If you’re looking for helpful resources, My Mobility Guide has put together a fantastic guide with some brilliant resources to help you find the right holiday for you. Here are some other things you should be looking for in an accessible holiday. This is an ad.

Is The Destination Accessible?


It may be tempting to visit a certain destination or place but first ask - is it truly accessible? Make sure you have a few destinations in mind before doing your research and making a decision. Whilst you might still be able to enjoy a holiday in a less accessible destination, do you really want to miss out on some of the experience more accessible destinations such as Barcelona have to offer? Some historic sites and national parks have a problem with this so be aware and check out the website before you go.

Is The Accommodation Accessible?

There is nothing worse than going on holiday and arriving at your accommodation to find it isn’t accessible. It is best to opt for more modern hotels as they are more likely to have accessible entrances, exits and rooms. You want something that has ramps and lifts which an older hotel or type of accommodation may not be able to offer. The bathroom is also important, especially if you have problems getting into and out of a bath. Make sure you have a walk-in shower with rails to help.  Check out blog posts and YouTube videos about the hotel or accommodation you want to stay in to get a real feel for the place before making any final decisions.

Can You Get Help?

Sometimes you may need a little bit of help whether that is in the airport to get to the right place on time or help up to your room. Do your research before making any decision and get in contact as soon as you’ve booked to put the help into place. Train stations and airports are particularly good for proving help if you book in advance. If you are deaf or hard of hearing many museums provide special guides for you. 

Look For Accessible Tours

Visiting the beach in a wheelchair

Whilst some tours may not be suitable due to a lack of accessible options, there are many tours out there, especially in the major cities, that will cater to your needs. Look for tours that are accessible, perhaps on a bus with a lift or ramp, and maybe ask the local tourist information office for help. They usually have lots of information on tourist sites and hotels that are great for those with mobility problems. You should be able to experience the wonders of your destination as much as other people!

Make Sure You’re Covered For Insurance

Even if you are in the most accessible of accommodations or areas, there is still scope for your holiday to go wrong so make sure you have adequate medical and travel insurance in place. The last thing you want to do is be stuck somewhere with no cover in place and big medical bills. 

Conclusion

It can be tempting to just wing it when it comes to a holiday but unfortunately, when it comes to accessibility, it's best to plan ahead. This means checking out not only the accommodation and the help you can get but also the local area and its landmarks to see which ones are accessible to you plus other things that may pose a problem if you leave them to the last minute.

Hopefully, these top tips will help you find the perfect accessible holiday for you. What places have you found are really good for accessibility?


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Why You Should Consider Self Storage

Self storage is a fantastic option if you are looking for a particular amount of space to store your possessions. There may be a variety of reasons for this - a move to a smaller property or items you would rather not store in your home, for example. So why should you consider self storage? This is an ad.

What is self storage?

packing box

Self storage is a place where you can store both business or personal possessions. It provides flexibility so you can access your items at a convenient time to you. Now Storage self storage in Swindon is one such place that offers such a service. All you need to do is bring the items to the store and you carry your own key to the unit so you can access it whenever you need to or want to.

Why would you use self storage?

There are many reasons why someone may choose to utilise self storage. There are reasons for both short term use and long term use. Someone using it in the short term may be using it to store items from their home whilst a renovation is going on or to store items that they need to go through but don’t want to store in their home, perhaps with a house move,

A longer term use maybe storage for business items or excess possessions that do not fit into their current property but that the person may not be quite ready to get rid of. Other people choose to store stuff they want to keep separate from their day to day life such as items in a collection or stuff to do with certain hobbies, such as windsurfing equipment.

What are the benefits of self storage?

fragile box

The benefits of self storage are plenty but perhaps the biggest one - and the most obvious - is space. Self storage allows you some extra space to store anything you need to. You may be running a successful business from home but don’t quite have enough space to store all of your business stock. By renting out some self storage, you can be safe in the knowledge that your stock is secure and your business can still keep running.

There are also other benefits to self storage too - security being one of those. Most self storage units are completely safe and secure with extensive CCTV and security measures. Whilst your home may be secure, the self storage unit is probably more secure!

How does self storage work?

self storage

The process of hiring self storage is easy and accessing it even easier still. All you need to do is visit the business and arrange to rent out a unit before being handed the key and being able to come and go as you please (within reason). You choose how much you need to store and it will be worked out exactly how much space you will need.

Do I need self storage?

That is completely up to you - only you know your situation. Self storage is a wonderful option for many people though, whether they are moving house, storing business stock or simply want somewhere to store an excess of their possessions. If any of these sounds like you, then you may just want to look into it!

Why Vintage Engagement Rings Are So Popular

There is definite interest in vintage engagement rings at the moment, with people enjoying the uniqueness, the history, the heritage and beauty of a vintage engagement ring. Vintage and antique rings attract the attention of couples looking for something a little different, from the design to the diamonds set in white gold or platinum – these rings have excellent investment potential.

Let us look at some of the reasons that vintage engagement rings are so popular.

Price
diamond vintage engagement ring
One reason is the price. An older ring, with an unfashionable setting, can often be sold for less than the value of the stones it contains. This is because it can be hard to properly assess diamonds while they are mounted in a setting, and removing them from it for inspection can damage the setting. This means that rings that have been sold off from deceased estates or to raise emergency funds, can be sold for less than fair market value. So, if a couple falls in love with a ring that is preloved, they could well be able to snap it up as a bargain, getting a better deal than even they know! They could then set the diamonds in their own ring, and use the gold as well to make a bespoke piece or wear the ring as it is, in its own beauty as an engagement ring.

Uniqueness
ring
Often, older rings have been custom-designed, and will therefore be unique. This is especially true of rings made by hand, before the advent of modern technology. Many of these rings are handcrafted so you have a beautiful and different style of ring. A unique design, unusual setting, or some other quirk can make a vintage ring a one-of-a-kind proposition: perfect for a couple that feels that they break the mould in their own way!

Heritage
unusual ring
Sentimental reasons are another motivation for choosing a vintage ring. This is especially true if the ring belonged to an elderly relative on one side or the other. Wearing a ring that has been in the family for many years can be a way for the couple to cement their commitment to each other, an awareness that their union is meant to be eternal. If there are images – paintings or early photographs – showing other family members wearing the ring this can really bring home the sense of family and unity that are the keystones of any successful marriage.

History

sapphire ring
A similar sense of history is often felt by purchasers, even if they are entirely unrelated to the original owners of the ring, and have no mementoes or clues as to who wore the ring last. A meaningful and distinctive engagement ring with a rich history behind it can be a treasured possession once again. This represents both a rejection of cookie-cutter newness and a celebration of survival and standing the test of time, both of which are, again, symbols of a successful union and true partnership.

Sustainability

A vintage engagement ring is a sustainable option. There is no extra mining for stones or metals that can disrupt the eco-system, so it's perfect for the potential bride that cares about the environment.  A vintage engagement ring is a sustainable option, that is earth-friendly.

And finally, many people choose vintage rings because they are beautiful! Hand-crafted, carefully selected diamonds, unique and clever settings and designs can all add up to a gorgeous and highly desirable ring that you will be proud to wear on your finger for many more years to come.

Let me know, would you wear a vintage engagement ring?

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Styling Your Home For Winter

As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, you’re probably looking forward to staying cosy and warm indoors. You will likely be spending more time at home than usual this winter, so it’s important to create an atmosphere that can help you to relax and unwind. With these top tips, you style your home for the season and look forward to cosy nights in and festive treats:

Embrace New Colours

bathroom tiles

Updating your décor can transform your home and give it a new lease of life. From neutral paint colours to bright, vibrant wallpaper, there are endless options to explore. You can even overhaul your kitchen and bathroom without committing to a full renovation project. Grey kitchen and bathroom tile trends are popular this season, so why not add new tiling to update these key areas of your home? With fresh tiles and new accessories, it’s easy to make a room feel brand new.

Incorporate Greenery

Bringing nature indoors lets you enjoy the outside world without venturing outdoors. Greenery is a fantastic way to make your home feel alive and there are plenty of winter flowers and plants to choose from. Whether you opt for a Christmas rose and Winter honeysuckle or Winter aconites and Winter Heather, you can incorporate colour and scent which you fill your home with greenery.

Add Texture

sofa and cushion

Adding varying textures to a room can make your interior design come alive. While you can use paint effects and specialist wallpaper to achieve this, there are simpler ways to add texture to your home during Winter. Simply layering throws and blankets on sofas and across the back of chairs will give you the extra warmth you’re looking for. Similarly, new cushion covers will complement your existing decor but give each room a new feel.

Use Festive Fragrances

When you’re styling your home, you never want to overlook the importance of scent. Choosing an aroma that’s well-suited to Winter will reignite memories of Christmas past and put you in the festive spirit. Vanilla, cinnamon and pine are all top Winter scents, but ginger, clove and nutmeg are also popular. With scented candles, potpourri or diffusers, you can enjoy a subtle scent that permeates throughout your entire home.

Get A Portable Fireplace

fireplace

A portable fireplace is a great way to add atmosphere and warmth to any room. Wood burners and real log fires may be picturesque, but you’ll need to have these professionally installed and situated in one location. With a portable fireplace, however, you can move it to any area of your home and create a fantastic ambience. Whether you’re entertaining friends and family or settling in for a quiet night, it will create a comfy and cosy environment for you to enjoy.

Make The Most Of The Season

Winter may bring rain, cold temperatures and dark evenings but it’s also a season that’s filled with fun and festivities. By styling your home now, you can make the most of everything Winter has to offer and enjoy the crisp air, twinkling lights and cosy nights in.

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5 Items Of Jewellery All Men Can Wear

Men today are more fashion led than ever before and there is a real market these days for jewellery in men's fashion. However many men may still be wary of jewellery, and most want to balance the look without gong over the top. The key to this, especially if you are new to wearing jewellery, or want to buy jewellery for your partner for the first time is to keep it simple and sophisticated. So let's have a look at 5 items of jewellery all men can wear.

Rings

ring
One of the most acceptable forms of jewellery for a men is a ring. Many men wear wedding bands in gold or silver and platinum and palladium are also popular these days. The giving of a ring is also a symbol of togetherness whether you are married or not. You can't really go wrong with a simple ring as an item of jewellery.

Men are also comfortable these days wearing rings for a fashion statement perhaps with initials engraved on them, in celtic designs, or even inset with precious stones, the flashier pieces coming out for a night on the town. You can even get spinning rings and skull designs when you want to take the fun fashion up a level.

Watches

A watch is another item many men own, although fewer watches are bought than in the past due to how technology has changed with men having phones that tell the time. A watch can be bought for a few pounds or a few thousand pounds, it's all down to quality, craftmanship, function, design and brand. The best quality being made by artisan swiss watchmakers. Watches also have many functions these days from counting your steps to being a stopwatch, to having GPS, whilst specialist watches are made for divers, fitness fanatics and even pilots.

Watches have become a real style statement these days with designer watches going for thousands of pounds. A designer watch that's of an impeccable brand, such as an Omega, Rolex or the very high-end Panerai is also an excellent investment that can be given to a child and passed on as an heirloom.

Bracelets or Bangles
bangle

A bracelet or bangle is thought of as a modern choice of jewellery for a man but simple chain link and curb bracelets in gold have been worn for hundreds of years by men. Some men wear bracelets as a fashion or wealth status today, with bigger gold and silver bracelets being popular in rap music for example. Bracelets can also be functional with medical alert braceles being more stylish than ever.

Modern bracelets from a company like Treasure Bay can be made of silver, cord or leather and plaited in a design for a more casual look whilst a classic silver bangle can be masculine and stylish at the same time but still modern.

Cufflinks

If you have to wear a suit to work then cufflinks are essential to many mens' wardrobe. Cufflinks can be classic and stylish or fun and quirky to go with your personality. Go for simple silver or gold cufflinks for a standard classy choice and you won't go wrong, just be sure the cufflinks are in the metal the man wears.

Cufflinks can also be worn for formal occasions such as a wedding, cruise, a day at the races and more. Personalised cufflinks are a great choice for a wedding or anniversary too, or what about a very special pair with a diamond design.

Necklaces and pendants

Necklace


Some men shy away from a necklace as it can be hard to get right but modern men embrace it. A necklace can be a style statement again think chunky silver chains but for a subtle look a simple pendant can be a more stylish choice, make sure the chain is not too thin and lightweight.  Cross pendants can be worn if you are religious and again medical necklaces can be surprisingly good looking these days.

Dog tag style pendants are a modern choice that reflect an army look and can be fun, whilst cord and leather necklaces are a more casual fashion led look that some will like. 

Let me know, does one of the men in your life wear jewellery?


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The Main Types Of Hair Loss And Hair Loss Solutions

Some hair loss is normal, but when hair loss becomes troublesome then it can really affect your self-esteem. There are many reasons for hair loss, let's have a look at some of these and what you can do about this condition. This is an ad.

What's normal?

hair on brush

Every day they say we lose between 50 and 100 hairs on average. The condition of your hair can affect hair loss and if it is dry and over-processed it may break easier. However, if you think that hair loss is becoming a real problem then there are some things you can do.

Causes of hair loss

According to the NHS website article on hair loss, there are a number of causes to this common condition. These can include illness, stress, cancer treatment, weight loss and Vitamin D deficiency and iron deficiency. If your hair loss is bothering you, your first port of call should be to see your GP. They can examine you and check your health, with a combination of blood tests, and a physical examination.  If you are embarrassed about your baldness you can get an online appointment with a doctor through an online pharmacy. This is straight forward to do and can save you time getting a GP appointment locally.

What can a blood test show?

A blood test can show the level of vitamins and minerals in your blood. This is important as it can show your overall health level, as well as deficiencies. Vitamin D and iron have both have been linked to hair loss for example. It can also show your hormones levels. Hormone levels and hair loss have been shown to be linked to male pattern baldness, baldness in women and baldness related to the menopause, where the pattern is thinness across the scalp, not a receding hairline as in men.

Do you need treatment?

Some hair loss doesn't need treatment and hair will grow back without intervention. Some hair loss will be a natural process of getting older as well.  If you do need treatment there are a number of treatments available appropriate to your condition. No treatment, however, is 100 per cent effective. 

Types of treatments available for hair loss

hair loss

Hair loss solutions are available and are varied but typically include medication and steroid creams and injections. Other solutions include hair transplants and wigs as well as relaxation techniques and psychotherapy to deal with stress.

Medication can address vitamin and hormone deficiencies which can get to the root of the problem (no pun intended!). Medication includes Regaine, Finasteride and Dutasteride which are designed for male pattern baldness. These medications only work for the length of time you take the medication but can be successful although they don't work for everyone and of course can have side effects. 

Steroid creams and injections can be used to treat baldness in alopecia for example with various levels of success.  This is not suitable for baldness due to ageing and again can have side effects. 

Hair transplants can be a solution but it is a major intervention. When someone has a hair transplant, they have existing hair cells moved to the thinning patches on their head. It's important to find a surgeon who is qualified and experienced in carrying out this type of surgery as it can be a big operation and expensive too. If you are going to have a hair transplant be sure to understand any possible complications of the procedure in full.

wigs

There are many synthetic and real hair wigs and hairpieces available today that are more natural-looking than in the past and that can cover hair loss. This is a real instant but temporary alternative to hair loss but does have cost implications, with real hair wigs being much more expensive than synthetic wigs. 

Some hair loss can be caused by stress. Alopecia can be triggered by stress so looking at your health and well-being and trying to reduce stress can help with hair loss. Ways to reduce stress include changing your life so the stressful thing that caused it is reduced, exercising to relieve stress and meditation, and counselling and psychotherapy. Support groups for hair loss can help your emotional well-being as well.

Conclusion

There are many reasons for hair loss but there are solutions out there that can help. Hair loss can really affect your self-esteem so be sure to seek out help if this is the case.

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Maxoak Bluetti EB150 Portable Power Station Review

If you live somewhere remote or love travelling then you may have had the odd sticky situation with power now and again. Your laptop may be flat, you need to charge your drone or you need power for your fridge for example. If you are camping, hiking, love the camper van life, road tripping or living off-grid it's always a good idea to have a backup power charger and this is where something like the Maxoak Bluetti EB150 portable power station comes in handy. This is an advertorial in conjunction with Maxoak. 

charger

The Maxoak Bluetti EB150 portable power station has a maximum output of 1000 watts and weighs approximately 38 pounds. That's a huge charge from a powerful charger! It's the sort of charger you can keep in the back of your car or van and then it's easy to whip it out if you need power. It has a sturdy handle so you can transport it easily too.  
 

As stated before, this charger is really powerful. This is no small stick charger. It's 14.6 inches (37cm) by 6.5 inches (16.5cm) by 14.4 inches (36.5cm) in size.

charger

To charge your items there is a cigarette lighter 12v adapter as well as 4 USB ports too and a USBc port. This means you can charge your USB enabled laptops such as your Macbook Pro, the latest Dell or your Microsoft surface laptop.  It also has 2 AC outlets so that you can charge most of your small appliances up to a max of 1000 watts. Useful when you need to power your hairdryer, camera, drone and so on.

Obviously, always check the instructions to ensure your appliance is suitable. It can even charge a small fridge, which is great for camper van life.

I liked the fact that there is an LCD display panel that lights up, great for low lighting conditions and that it was straight forward to use. Charging time for the unit itself is 
8-8.5hrs to be fully charged from an AC wall outlet. 

Eb150 charger

One of the things that can be especially useful is the ability to charge it from solar power. I mean how cool is that? As well as being eco-friendly this is an incredibly useful feature when you have no sockets to charge it. The MC4 solar charging cable is included, although you will have to buy a solar panel. 

You can buy the Maxoak Bluetti EB150 from the following.

Amazon UK  Use code: powereb51 for £100 off
Amazon USA Use codes: bluetti1500  for $65 off + code coupon for $130 off  in total $195 off
Amazon Germany  Use codepowereb51 for 100 off

Priced at £1499.99 it isn't super cheap but I firmly believe you get what you pay for. With the Maxoak Bluetti EB150, you get a powerful portable power station that thas the ability to charge from a variety of power sources. You also have various coupon codes as above to get some extra money off. When you’re buying from MAXOAK you know that you’re guaranteed quality too and it comes with a 24-month replacement or maintenance warranty. 



Conclusion

The Maxoak Bluetti is a portable power charging station that really packs a punch. If you love travelling, live off-grid or need extra power in an emergency I think you can do no wrong in investing in this. Recommended.

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Why You Should Ride A Tricycle In Winter Instead Of A Bike

When it turns frosty and cold outside, people automatically think this means packing away the trike or bike for the year. Whilst this might be the correct thinking for a bike, a tricycle is the perfect travelling companion for the winter months, and you are sure to be safe on the three-wheeler on a wide variety of terrain.  This is an ad.

Tricycles are well known to be sturdy and safe modes of transport, and this applies, even more so when it comes to riding a tricycle in the colder months.

But why is riding a tricycle safer than riding a bike in the winter? Well, here is a list of all the reasons tricycles are perfect for riding in the winter, and why they are much safer than riding a normal bike.

Tricycles work well on all terrain



Tricycles have three large wheels that have extremely effective grip, which paired with being lower to the ground than a bicycle, makes riding on all terrains extremely safe. So, this winter, when the roads get icy, you can be safe in the knowledge that riding a tricycle is still a safe option.

Also, as a tricycle is lower to the ground this means whilst climbing hills in the wind, rain and snow riders do not need to keep the same forward-leaning motion to gather momentum. Instead, trike cyclists can just lower the gear and climb with ease.

Jorvik tricycles offer various different tricycles, but one of their best trikes for winter weather is their Jorvik electric mountain trike. This tricycle has large tyres and a front suspension which will give you the confidence to conquer mud, ice or snow with ease.

Tricycles are more visible than bikes

Tricycles are much more noticeable than a normal bike, as they are bigger and have three wheels instead of two. This is extremely beneficial when riding in the winter, as the weather in the colder months can produce poor visibility on the roads, which can be dangerous for those on bicycles. For tricycle riders, there is also the added security that they are more likely to be seen due to the stature of the tricycle compared to a standard bike.

Tricycles are easy to ride

Having three wheels, tricycles are very easy to ride as they provide the rider with more balance and support. This means riders are not worrying about their balance at the same time as trying to concentrate on the road in front of them, this makes the riding experience a much more pleasurable one. Jorvik Tricycles also have a range of different seating options, one of the most popular options being the Jorvik adults tricycle seat with back rest.

Tricycles can carry all your bags

One of the worst things in winter when riding a bike is having to try and carry all of your things in a heavy backpack, it just makes the cold journey a tiresome one. But with a tricycle, you can pack all of your things away into safe cargo bag or a Jorvik mountain trike trailer that attaches to the tricycle itself. This is great if you have been shopping and have lots of carrier bags to take home with you.

Things to keep in mind when riding a tricycle this winter: 


Be seen

It’s important to ensure you are visible on the roads, especially when weather is poor and natural daylight is limited. So, equipping your tricycle with sufficient lights is necessary to reduce any possible collisions or accidents. Ideally, you will have a light on the front, back and on a wheel of your tricycle. Be sure to check your lights on a regular basis to ensure that they work.

Be bright

To ensure you are seen on the roads, purchasing reflective wear is essential, especially for when the weather is gloomy and dark. Some wearable reflective options for this include bright reflective gloves, reflective slap wraps and hi visibility vests.

Stay dry

This winter there is bound to be some rainy weather, so, investing in some protection for yourself and your phone could be worthwhile. A traditional cycling cape is the perfect accessory to take with you on your ride and can be worn over all clothing. Also, this weatherproof phone mount is the ultimate universal waterproof phone mount for all tricycles, and you can be comfortable in the knowledge that your phone isn’t getting wet in your pocket.

So, does a tricycle sound like the right mode of transport one for you? With all the safety benefits riding a tricycle brings, swapping to a tricycle and packing away the bike will be one of the best decisions you make this winter!

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Win A £50 Gift Voucher With Boho Homes Ends 22/11

I like supporting small businesses and today on my blog I am working with Boho Homes to bring you a great competition. So read on to find out more about this eco-friendly company and how you can enter for a great prize. This is an ad.

Boho Homes is a small social enterprise with a big heart. Working with artisans and fair trade suppliers around the world, this ethical company is run by Tullika and sells handcrafted products with a strong eco-friendly focus. Products sold are made from sustainable materials such as mango wood, organic cotton and recycled card and each product comes from a traceable production line. With each order, you also get a note that tells you the story of your purchase - what a lovely touch!

A certified member of the British Assciation of Fair Trade Suppliers you know that they pay a fair price to their workers, and that's always good to know. Let's have a look at some of my favourite items.

coasters


One of their bestsellers, I really love these gorgeous brass layered coasters. These 6 coasters have been individually layered with a brass sheet and embossed with blocks by hand. Sold in a gorgeous embossed box, the best thing about these glamourous coasters is that you know that they are made with Fairtrade conditions and the artisans in India get a fair price. Priced at £20 I think these are beautiful. 

elephant bowl


Made from discarded coconut shells, these gorgeous bowls are just stunning. Artisans in Vietnam have hollowed out and shaped the coconuts, then smoothed and treated the shells with coloured lacquer. The final touch is painted on - an elephant in all its splendour. The craftsmanship is unreal with these lovely bowls available in a range of colours.

cushion


My next choice from Boho Homes is this elephant circle cushion cover. In a lovely quality soft cotton, what really stands out is the lovely symmetrical design of elephants. Perfect for your lounge or conservatory sofa, I think any home would be cheered up with these beautiful cushion covers.

tray


Made from mango wood, this beautiful tray is the perfect addition to any home, With gorgeous handpainted tiles in ceramic, the vibrant colours with brighten any home. Each tray is unique as all the tiles are different but if you make a note of any colour scheme when you order Boho Homes will do their best to find a try for you. 

duvet


My last choice is one of these cosy cotton quilts, perfect for an extra layer on the bed in autumn. Made from block printed cotton, these blanket are filled with natural cotton too and not polyester fibres or down meaning that the quilt is lightweight and breathable. Called Jaipuri Raza you can also use these quilts on the sofa when watching TV. 

So here are my favourite items from Boho Homes. Today on my blog you can win a £50 voucher to spend on the Boho Homes website. So go and visit their website, have a look around and then come back and answer the question below to enter. You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  While you are here, check out the travel blog I run with my husband www.flydriveexplore.com

Someone has to win! Good luck!

Win a £50 voucher to spend at Boho Homes