The Best Animal Friendly Practices You Should Adopt


What animals do you love the most? Do you love exotic pets like reptiles, local wildlife such as birds, foxes, hedgehogs, and badgers, or maybe you like the more conventional cats and dogs? There are lots of reasons to love animals, and you can show your love for them with some of the best animal welfare practices. These are outlined in the article below; read on to find out more.

Use Cruelty-Free Products

Many of the products we use for skincare, haircare, and the body are still tested on animals. Although the EU has laws against this, it is still common practice in places like China and officially supported.

Advocates of animal testing will say that animal testing is important to prevent illnesses and diseases in humans. Maybe in the past. These days it is not necessary to test on animals, so why do it? Also, animals aren't the best indicator of human welfare.

Luckily, and thankfully, there are many cruelty-free products and alternatives in the marketplace. A bit like vegan food, cruelty-free products now populate the supermarket shelves and online stores like never before – the choice is yours.

Go Vegan

If there was ever a good time to go vegan, it is nowadays. In the past, veganism was seen as an extreme lifestyle choice and not very healthy. All that has changed in recent years as the world changes and more people see the excellent benefits of veganism.

Firstly, going vegan means that as you are not eating meat you are reducing the carbon emissions as animals such as cows produce methane. Your carbon footprint reduces significantly.

There are many other benefits to going vegan, such as health, wellness, and ethical standards. Going vegan has never been easier. The vegan section might still be small in the supermarket, but it is there – unlike before. It's a modern culture that isn't going away.

Adopt a pet

dog

If you want a new pet in your life, such as a cat, a dog, some cute rodents, or something more exotic like a reptile, it's a much better idea to adopt them rather than buy them from a breeder or, worse, a pet shop. In the case of reptiles, however, you might need a reptile survey.

Breeders and pet shops don't always care for the animal's welfare like an adoption charity will; also, the animals are often bred with the intent to sell, and the animals are kept in horrendous conditions to maximise profits – many don't survive.

If you're an animal lover, this is not the sort of practice you want to support in the world by funding it with your money. Instead, buy a pet from an animal shelter where you take the responsibility of caring for an animal that's been badly treated or has nowhere to live.

Support A Charity

You might be an animal lover but don't want a pet for some reason. Some people don't have time in their lives to properly care for one; for others, it's about their living situation. Others still prefer to simply look at animals and leave the hard work to the keepers.

If you still want to support animals and benefit from their lovely presence, why not support an animal charity?  When you support an animal charity, your money will go to the upkeep and welfare of the animals.

When you support an animal charity, you will receive regular updates about the lives and conditions of the animals. You may even get the chance to go and visit where the animals live. A perfect day out for any animal lover.

Learn About Local Wildlife

kingfisher

You might not realise it, but your local area is teeming with wildlife. Depending on where you live, there will be all kinds of common and uncommon animals in the trees, bushes, gardens, grass and local area. In reality, we live together with these animals.

It's also not easy for these animals to live with us. In many ways, we encroach on their living environment and alter their diets. It's too easy to respond to conventional wisdom and feed bread to the birds, for instance, even though it's not good for them.

Try to think of your life as living alongside the wildlife outside and learn about them so you can live in harmony with them and keep them healthy. Find out what local wildlife you have and what the best things are for them to eat.

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Wheelchair Friendly Activities

It can be hard sometimes for wheelchair users to find things to do and this can be a great source of frustration. Fortunately, there are lots of sports that have been adapted to allow those with a physical disability to participate and this can do much more than give someone a new hobby. These sports could help to improve your physical health, develop new skills, make new friends, develop confidence and much more. Here are a few of the best sports to consider.

Basketball



Basketball is one of the most popular wheelchair sports in the UK and this is because it is a game that can be easily adapted. This also means that there is a large community for wheelchair basketball and it can be a fun, social and active sport to play, so it can bring many benefits to your life.

Hockey

Hockey is another popular team wheelchair sport that can be fantastic fun. There are also different variations, which gives people with different degrees of disability the opportunity to be able to play.

Cycling

Manual bicycles and hand bikes allow wheelchair users the excitement and thrill of cycling and this can be a superb form of exercise. Not only this, but this can be a sport enjoyed independently or competitively so it can be social but also something that someone can enjoy on their own too.

Dancing

Adapted dance can be a terrific way for a wheelchair user to exercise, socialise and express themselves so it can certainly be an excellent activity to try. There are many different dance styles to learn and a growing and welcoming community.

Sailing

Those that like water and the great outdoors might want to try adapted sailing, which can be a good form of exercise, provide a great sense of freedom and develop new skills and knowledge. Transport will be key with a hobby like this, so you may want to look into wheelchair accessible vehicles so that it is easy to get around.

Tennis

Tennis might sound like an impossible game for a wheelchair user, but it is a sport that is growing in popularity in the disabled community. The rules are changed slightly (such as allowing two bounces) and there are even adapted wheelchairs available to make it much easier to play.

Swimming

Swimming is another popular sport in the disabled community and those with a wide range of disabilities can participate. It is also a terrific form of exercise as it is a full-body workout and can help many people to overcome some physical limitations.

wheelchair user Marathon

As you can see, there are all kinds of sports that a wheelchair user can participate in. These can be life-changing activities because they can improve physical and mental health, provide a fun new hobby, develop confidence and self-esteem, provide a social life and much, much more.


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Holidays In The UK Tips For Travellers In 2021

I think I can categorically say it's been a stressful year. Many of us who love to travel realise that this year restrictions on how and when we can travel mean a holiday in the UK is looking like a sensible option shortly. However, travelling with the Coronavirus around means that some things have changed too. Let's have a look at some top tips on travelling in the UK for travellers in 2021. These tips are based on the UK government advice which can and does change. This is an advertorial. 

Hygiene

child mask

Of course, whether you have had a COVID vaccine or not, hygiene should still be a number one concern. You could in theory get COVID more than once and you could pass it on even if you have had the vaccine.

I would advise making a pack of hygiene purposes for each member of your family. This should include a couple of masks, hand sanitiser and surface wipes.  You may want your children to wear one so look for fun masks and check out the recommended age for wearing a mask. 

I find surface wipes are useful if you are going to a restaurant or cashpoint to wipe the surface and provide an extra layer of sanitation. Of course, you should continue to wash your hands thoroughly with hot water and soap numerous times a day, especially before and after eating and when in contact with surfaces other people could have touched. Hand sanitiser is a stand by option when you cannot use soap and hot water.

Transport



The transport and travel advice is continually changing. Firstly I would go to the Government advice page for your country for the most up to date advice. As I am in Wales it is different to England.

At the moment the advice is generally to avoid sharing a car with anyone outside of your bubble or household. If you are taking the car anywhere there are some things you need to check. The car may have been standing for a while so check it starts before a big trip, and take it for a drive. Check the oil, water levels, and tyre pressures. If you are concerned it's always a good idea to book it into a garage for some safety checks. If you are borrowing a car for the journey or in between annual policies then you can get daily car insurance. Organising cheap temp cover like this is a good idea when you don't need an annual policy.

If you are going to take public transport you will currently need a mask that covers your nose and mouth. This will need to be worn in covered areas too like bus terminals, airports and railway stations. Plan ahead and avoid busy times where possible and maintain the 2 meters apart rule from people that live with you. Current advice is also to avoid consuming food and drink on public transport where possible.

Accommodation


When booking accommodation it's a good idea to check that they have a COVID guarantee that you can cancel if there is any problems related to COVID and you can move your date without losing your money. You may be only able to share the accommodation with your household, you would need to check this on the local government website as this rule is changing.

I would also look for information on their website that tells you what precautions they are taking regarding cleaning. Big hotel chains like Hilton will definitely have this information with more stringent cleaning in place, with smaller places, a simple email to them can check what extra cleaning they are taking.

For reassurance, it's worth taking a cleaning pack with you to wipe down high touch surfaces like remote controls and door handles, when you enter your room or apartment. Some people take their own pillows and bedding, and you may want to consider this especially in self-catering accommodation. You may also want to take antibacterial handwash or your own soap and towel.

Meals


At present cafes and restaurants are only open for takeaway in Wales. In England and Wales, you should be hopefully allowed to eat outdoors soon and then by the middle to the end of May restaurants should be open indoors, but this can still change. When cafes and restaurants do open again there may be limited numbers so if it's a weekend or an important meal, like a birthday I would book ahead to ensure your reservation.

You will most likely need to wear a mask indoors when they do open again, you would need to check with the establishment and the local rules. If you are sitting down and eating then you can remove your mask but moving to the toilet or bar would mean your mask would need to be worn.

General



Activities may be open in the foreseeable future, like cinemas, gyms, amusement parks, and the like. A general rule of thumb is masks would need to be worn indoors and social distancing should be carried out. Shops and other businesses may look to limit numbers and masks may need to be worn still indoors. You can get an exemption from wearing a mask for physical and mental issues and it may be sensible to have some proof of this with you when asked why you are not wearing a mask. Check out the Government face coverings page for current advice.

For holiday accommodation and meals indoors you will probably need to give a contact number for contact tracing or to download the NHS Covid-19 app.

Conclusion

Holidays in the UK can now go ahead, but COVID has changed how things will happen this year. Hopefully, with more people having the vaccine every day these restrictions may change as we get herd immunity in the UK.

Let me know, are you planning a UK holiday? 
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    5 Reasons To Study GCSEs At A College

    Choosing to study GCSEs at a college rather than in a traditional school setting may seem like an unorthodox and potentially risky path to take. Staying where you are and completing your GCSEs just seems like the most sensible and safe route for many.

    However, as we learn more and more about the multiplicity of learning styles, often traditional schools have a
     one size fits all approach, and you may want to go elsewhere to continue your learning.

    This is where independent colleges can play a crucial role. Many students across the country will choose to attend institutions like these to study A-Levels, however,  independent colleges also offer intensive and comprehensive GCSE courses as well. These are great for students who do not feel like they fit into a traditional school setting.

    When researching this article I came across a host of benefits to studying GCSEs at an independent college. I discussed with a leading independent college in London, Ashbourne College, some of the factors that can make for a highly enjoyable, and most importantly impactful, educational experience at independent colleges. Here are the results. 

    1. Fresh Environment


    Many students remain at secondary school all the way from Year 7 (11 years old) to Year 11 (16 years old) or even Year 13 (18 years old!). Five years is an extremely long time to be in the same place every day, often being taught by the same teachers. Students are an entirely different person at 16 than they were when they started school. I am sure many parents have had the experience of their child missing a deadline or performing poorly early on in their secondary school tenure, for which they are then profiled and pigeonholed for the rest of their studies.

    This situation does not help students develop. Moving to a college for GCSEs allows students to make a fresh start, leaving behind any silly mistakes they made whilst adjusting to secondary school life, with teachers who truly want them to succeed in the most important stage of their education.

    2. Small Class Size

    We have all had experiences of secondary school classes that are at absolute maximum capacity with 30 students crammed into one room. It can be hard to see the board, difficult to get the teacher’s attention and is simply an ineffective learning environment.

    At a private college, class sizes are kept small, often not more than 10 students in a class. This means that students can become more engaged in the lesson and no one is left behind. The individual attention that teachers are able to provide students means that many can gain the very top grades in their examinations. If your student is not one to pick concepts up instantly without support this kind of setting is absolutely key.

    3. Focused Teaching


    The fact that colleges are entirely focused on success in GCSE and A-Level examinations means that teachers’ time and knowledge is dedicated entirely to the specifications for these exams. Their knowledge of the courses will be more in-depth than teachers who are stretched to teach Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 as well as GCSEs.

    In colleges, students are taught to the exam from day one, which is the most effective method for students who are coasting at a ‘B’ grade, who want to access the very top A and A* grades. Overall, this can mean better lessons, more focussed advice and greater success in exams.

    4. Mature Cohort

    When studying GCSEs at college, students go from being one of the oldest students in the setting to being one of the youngest. Whilst this can be daunting at first, having older students around them means they have many to look up to. There will always be a student in Year 13 who is interested in the same subjects as them who can provide advice on tricky things like university applications and revision techniques.

    Colleges also often have an extensive mentoring programme, in which Year 13 students are paired with younger students for homework support. An older cohort also means better student behaviour and fewer disturbances. Students can remain focused and get things done. Overall, a cohort of students ranging from 15 to 18 or 19 simply creates an environment that is more conducive to learning and achievement, particularly for students who struggle with distractions in a larger school environment.

    5. Guaranteed Entry Into The Sixth Form

    Colleges such as Ashbourne, who offer GCSE and A-Level courses will often offer guaranteed entry from GCSEs into A-Levels. Many larger private secondary schools have very strict entry requirements for students looking to stay on for A-Levels.

    Ashbourne’s statistics for grade improvement are some of the best in the country and, as a result, they are able to commit to students and guarantee them a place in their sixth form for A-Levels. On average, students studying there will improve their grades by 1.5 levels, meaning if a student does not achieve their desired grades right away, they will very likely improve by the time they leave. The attitude is, therefore, the earlier they join, the more they will improve.

    So these are 5 reasons to study GCSEs at a college. Let me know if your children are considering studying at college.  

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    Completing a Spring Clean? A Guide To Places That Are Often Missed In Our Homes

    With Spring well upon us, even if the recent cold weather says otherwise, I am confident that there will be some people reading this who are contemplating their upcoming Spring clean.

    While I am confident that those reading this are just as house proud as I am and regularly ensure their homes are cleaned, there are often areas of our houses that remain untouched for vast periods. This is entirely normal! Let’s be honest here, who has the time to juggle regular deep cleans of their houses, along with everything else that life throws at us?

    Enough of my rambling, and onto the main event! Detailed below is a list of some of the areas in our houses that often get missed when completing a deep clean, which should undoubtedly be included in your upcoming Spring clean.

    Houses big and small, I am confident there is something here that relates to you.

    Baseboards



    We have all been guilty of skirting over these in our homes from time to time. The baseboard, also known as a skirting board, are in most of the rooms in our homes and are certainly a magnet for dust and other specks of dirt. Ensure that you give these little nooks and crannies some attention when going about your deep clean, will make sure that you do not need to do it again for some time. Easy to clean, this particular job should not take too much time to complete.

    Underneath Your Furniture

    It does seem somewhat obvious, but it is another place in our homes that often get missed when completing a deep clean. The saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ pops into our heads when imagining this! Setting aside a day or two to clean your home does not go without shifting and heaving – safely, of course – items of furniture that have not been moved in some time. There is sure to be a collection of crumbs underneath your kitchen appliances, so what better time to get them swept away than during your in-depth Spring clean?!

    This is not just restricted to the larger appliances in the home either. When was the last time the toaster and microwave were pulled out and given a clean underneath? Making a mental note to remember these will ensure that those once untouched areas will be sparkling clean again in no time.

    Curtains And Blinds



    Something that we are guilty of forgetting, it doesn’t seem like something that needs cleaning all that often but is sure to be attracting specks of dust and dirt like anything. Particularly if you have vertical blinds in your home for practical or aesthetic reasons – they are said to collect less dust than their counterparts but of course, they still need cleaning, so how best do you go about tackling the task to hand?

    Make My Blinds have compiled a helpful guide on their site on how to clean vertical blinds effectively and easily. If you are someone who has vertical blinds in their home and wants to know how best to clean them without the risk of damaging them in any way, then head to their website to find out more.

    Bins And Waste Disposal

    It goes without saying, but no one really likes to go near the rubbish bin when it is full or smelling foul. That's pretty normal, right? With this in mind, it is easy to imagine that the rubbish bin itself often gets overlooked when the rest of the home is given a clean. It is worth adding to the growing to-do list for your upcoming Spring clean.

    This does not just mean giving it a wipe down on the outside, although that is important. By providing the inside of the bin a deep clean and even pouring some cleaning products that are packed full of good scents into the bin itself, you can rest assured that your nostrils will be pleased the next time the bin is opened.

    While these are but a minimal list of some of the home's commonly missed areas when completing a deep clean, we hope that it has left you inspired and that you have a better idea of what areas in your house you need to focus on in the coming weeks.

    Whether you decide to tackle the jobs in a single weekend or over the space of a few days, you can go forth into the summer months feeling house proud, knowing that it is clean and tidy for when we can once again have visitors.

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    The Better Planet Plastic Petition

    I think I can say that most of us want a better world for future generations to come.  I know as I get older, I am increasingly more concerned about the environment. With so much information out there it can be hard to know what to do to really make a difference, but you certainly can and you don't have to be an 'eco-warrior' either! 

    What I am doing to becoming more eco-friendly

    rubbish

    Of course, it's a big and sometimes complicated subject. Personally, I am consciously buying less especially new, upcycling, and recycling. By doing these three things I feel I am helping to minimise my impact on the world and to be more environmentally aware and more eco-conscious.  I've even joined a group that picks up rubbish from the beaches and surrounding area. 

    Buying less reduces the need for the consumption of energy whilst making the product and the packaging. Upcycling, especially if you have the skills in crafting can be fun and productive by making something new and different out of old products you no longer want.  Whilst recycling is especially important so that our waste can be manufactured and used again, and not burnt to produce greenhouse gases or sent to landfill. 

    Let's focus on plastic recycling, what you can do to minimise plastics and the Better Planet Project by BetterYou.

    Living in a seaside town


    Living in a seaside town in South Wales, I see my fair share of rubbish. Yes, there are bins around but the amount of people we have had through here over lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic has been much more than usual. I can't blame people for coming here, it's a beautiful little town with some amazing beaches, however, the litter is getting unreal. Increased bins and litter collection has helped clean it up a little but also people need to realise that they need to take their litter with them if bins are full. It's a windy place, as many coastal destinations are, and before you know it the litter is everywhere including on the beaches and washed into the sea, causing harm to humans, animals and marine life. There is nothing worse than children playing on the beach and coming across broken glass. 

    Better recycling

    recycling bins

    Recycling here in South Wales is not perfect but Wales generally has a decent recycling system for household waste. In fact, Wales is fast becoming a world leader in recycling with the mantra of Reuse, Repair and Recycle coming across strongly, whilst England seems to have a few problems in this area. For example, there is no national unified programme of household and industrial waste collection. This is where the company BetterYou wants to see change. 

    BetterYou is a health care company that has a commitment to becoming a more sustainable brand through the Better Planet Project.  They are looking to transform their product range so that any plastics they use are ocean recycled or plant-based and 100 per cent recyclable. They are also removing all palm oil and palm oil derivates from all their products and reducing CO2 emissions. 

    BetterYou are campaigning for local authorities to create a unified waste plastic collection and recycling programme in the UK. 

    They feel that there needs to be a national programme that is 
    1. independently monitored
    2. standardised
    3. reviewed annually. 

    Please sign the petition 


    They've even set up a BetterYou petition which I think is worth signing, and I urge you to as well so that recycling becomes easier for the average person, the whole process is unified countrywide, and that the government monitors the progress made by the country as a whole. The UK should also strive to be self-sufficient and in control of its plastic recycling, rather than allowing materials to be sent overseas and to landfill.

    People want to recycle but it's easy to get confused. To make recycling simpler is a worthy task, but a task I feel needs to be carried out to ensure people, know what can be recycled and know what recycling bag to put it in. Many people are confused about this and this needs to be evaluated, changes made and implemented to become more productive. 

    It is time to end the confusing, differing recycling policies across English authorities so that we can all do our part in working towards a greener future. Signing the BetterYou petition by the 19th of April will mean that if they reach their goal of 10,000 signatures the government will respond to the petition and at 100,000 signatures it will be debated in parliament.

    At the end of the day, we all want a better planet for future generations. 

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    Exploring Gratitude With Your Child

    Any parent wants their child to grow to be a thankful person, appreciative of the world around them, and what that world gifts them. With the help of a Prep School in Surrey, here are some tips as to how you can explore gratitude with your child.

    Be A Role Model

    thank you card
    Demonstrating that you yourself are thankful for the things in your life will inspire your child to act the same. If you make sure to show your gratitude for the things in your life, pointing out how lucky you are, will encourage your child to be very appreciative of everything from the birthday presents they receive, to the food on their plate.

    Thank You Cards

    Get your children into the habit of writing thank you cards following receiving gifts for their birthday and Christmas. It is a way to teach them how important it is to say thank you, as well as encouraging them to practice good manners.

    Find Fun Ways To Say Thank You




    Thank you cards may be an important way to practice gratitude, but writing a load of cards could end up feeling like a chore to your children. Try and find ways to make the act of saying thank you fun, whether that’s making the cards yourselves with your kids, or planning a grand gesture to say thank you to someone special like the teacher at the end of the year. Baking a cake, making some chocolates or painting a picture can be another way of saying thank you for example.

    Put Things In Perspective

    Teaching your children to have some perspective can be a little hard, but it is something that will mean much more to them as they grow up and learn more about the world. Help them learn about other areas of the world where people aren’t as lucky as they are, to help build a greater appreciation for what it is they have in their lives. It will also help them to develop compassion and empathy for other people, helping them to become a more sensitive and considerate person.

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    Why You Should Consider Using Natural Protection For Your Garden Growing Needs

    Many of us when new to gardening may think it a good idea to use artificial pesticides or chemicals to help protect our garden.

    At first, you may think this is the best thing you can do, after all, they’re readily available to purchase in all the garden shops. Sadly, you may be doing more harm than good. There are alternative natural options for you to consider which are kinder to the environment, let's have a look at what they are.

    Better For The Environment

    garden and butterfly

    A lot of information has been raised in the last few years regarding climate change and the environment in general. Indeed, there is quite a lot that can be done in our own homes and garden. Growing produce, plants and flowers naturally without any toxic chemicals will help sustain normal growth, and help protect wildlife.

    Whilst it can be annoying to have crops eaten by pests, there are natural ways to deter them, letting everything run smoothly. For example, there are many common plants and herbs that keep the pests away, such as mint, basil and rosemary that keep away mosquitos and flies. Do some research and you will find lots of naturally occurring insect deterrents. 

    Nature is one of our biggest tools when it comes to fighting against climate change, and through replanting and conservation work, we can help make out planet a nicer place to live.

    Looks After Your Plants



    As I’m sure you can imagine, protecting your plants has one main purpose above all. Keeping them alive. A simple concept, but over the years protection went from a simple scarecrow in a garden to scare away birds, to using unnatural chemicals to kill anything that comes near.

    This eventually led to more and more corporations adding in pesticides that were getting stronger and stronger. Many of us would prefer to use more natural methods to keep pests at bay and lots of us have realised that it’s better for all involved to go natural. This is where we’ve started to see innovations such as in thermal protected settings. Thermally protected nettings are designed to cover your plants, stopping both insects and pests from getting in, as well as nasty unwanted weather such as frost.

    This way, nothing gets killed in your garden, nothing is poisoned and nothing is damaged. If you’re not sure where to start, then consider looking at Little Fields Farm. They offer a range of different netting options, such as jacket coverings or traditional tunnels.

    As well as offering protective nets, they can offer other garden essentials, including plant feed and fertilisers, maintenance products and even water systems. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or perhaps not sure where to start, then they are a great place to browse for inspiration.

    Good For Your Health


    Staying away from harmful chemicals will also have a benefit to you, as well as to your plants.

    When you use chemicals, you run the risk of accidentally getting some in your system in some way or another. Whereas when you go more natural, the risk is almost eliminated. That’s not to say that ingesting organic pesticides is a good idea, don’t ingest any chemical or pesticides and if you accidentally do, ring a doctor.

    Gardening itself, as a hobby, also helps support your health. Outdoor gardening will help give your body an injection of vitamin D from sunlight, which helps you fight off diseases and boots the immune system. 

    Let me know, do you like gardening?

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    Choosing An Envelope For Your Special Occasion

    When you have a special occasion to buy for, everything has to be just right. From the food to the drink, to the ceremony to the invitations. You may be amazed how much there is to get right, I know I was when I got married! Finding those perfect finishing touches helps everything go smoothly and makes it a day to remember. Even something as seemingly simple as choosing envelopes or mini envelopes have a hundred different options. Let's have a look at how to choose an envelope for your special occasion.

    Size



    You might not have considered the size of an envelope before, but you must have realised that there are many different sizes for a variety of different uses. A4 envelopes are perfect for documents whilst smaller envelopes are usually the perfect choice for greetings cards or invitations. Work out what size you require by considering how big the item is that you will be putting inside it. A top tip would be to not stuff the item in – choose a size that leaves a little space.

    Design

    decorated envelope
    Are you looking for something plain or do you want something a little more elegant? A birthday party may not require something fancy but an envelope containing a wedding invitation definitely needs to have some style to it. Also you can get personalised envelopes – these are perfect for any special occasion as you can use the name or names of the people the celebration is in aid of. You can also get different patterns or materials to make the design that touch more unique. There are some fantastic designs out there where the envelope has been cut in a certain way to make a beautiful pattern that instantly captures the attention.

    Theme

    Cut envelopes
    The design will often tie into the theme – envelopes with a cut pattern are often used for engagement or wedding invitation envelopes. However, the word theme covers many other bases too – I’ve previously bought a wonderful collection of travel envelopes for sending letters to loved ones whilst away and I have also seen nature-themed and book-themed envelopes in the past. Choose a theme that ties in with the occasion you are celebrating, and the envelopes will surely capture the recipient’s attention.

    Colour

    coloured envelopes

    You might think that white and light brown are the only colours of envelopes to choose from, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Envelopes come in a wide variety of colours – from the understated pastel pinks and blues to the vibrant in your face intensity of magentas, lime greens and sunshine yellows. If you truly want to capture the attention of your recipients, a coloured envelope may just be the way to go.

    Once you have considered all of the above, you should have an idea of the type of envelope you need for your special occasion. Remember that the envelope is the first impression someone will get of your occasion, so it needs to be the perfect choice.

    With plenty of envelopes to choose from, it can be difficult to know what to pick. However, with this handy guide, you should find picking the perfect envelope for your special occasion a breeze.

    How To Brightly Decorate A Loft Conversion For Spring And Summer

    Having a loft conversion can be exciting, as you can design this space for the personal needs of you and your family and decorate it in whatever way you please. If like many of us, you enjoy sprucing up your home seasonally, there are many creative ways you can welcome spring and summer into this space. Some architectural choices are important when designing your loft conversion, whereas other design choices are little additions and changes you can make throughout the year to adapt your space to the seasons. This is an advertorial.

    loft conversion

    When you initially decorate your loft space, it is wise to be mindful of the colours you choose, as dark colours can be difficult to tie into springtime themes. If you like decorating seasonally, choose a more neutral tone that can be used to accentuate prominent colours in the rest of the
    loft conversion. White, cream and paler tones work well in loft spaces as it keeps them bright and airy. Darker colours tend to close the room off and make it appear maller than it really is.

    Spring is all about crisp mornings and breathing fresher air into your home, which can be easily achieved with a Juliet balcony in your loft. This is a great addition to a loft space, as it can bring in lots of natural light and ventilation - great in spring and summer especially.  You want to encourage as much sunlight into your loft space and try to reflect it around the room with your wall paint. Choosing skylights in your Simply Loft conversion design stage will help towards creating this bright and airy effect in the springtime.

    loft

    A design tip that many people forget to consider is the colour and pattern of the bedspread or duvet cover in a bedroom. It can completely transform the appearance of a loft space and is a great way of introducing a spring theme. You can use yellows and pale green inspired patterns or keep it simple with white bedsheets and slightly more colourful pillowcases. Play around with it and see what looks best in your loft conversion. If you don’t have a loft bedroom but have a loft office instead, use light or white painted wood for the shelves and white or a light wood office desk. A carpet in the loft conversion is always good to help muffle the noise. 

    Another way to introduce colour into your loft conversion would be to use artwork that features strong colours and supports the idea you want to create. For a summery theme, I recommend seascapes in green and blues.  In recent months there has been a phenomenal increase in people buying houseplants, which can be another great option to decorate your loft for spring and summer. Houseplants are good as they bring oxygen into a room and are said to help improve mood and purify the air. 


    Let me know, would you have a loft conversion? How would you decorate it?

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    Refreshing Your Home In Time For Summer

    It’s spring and, while the path might be paved with a few windy days, rainy nights, and even the occasional bizarre burst of snow, the days are getting longer and (in general) warmer. That means that summer is on the way and the cosy, warm style of winter decorating isn’t going to suit the season quite as well. A change in the weather is one of the best reasons to redecorate the house, so here are some of the little and large changes you can make to refresh your home in time for summer.




    Get the outdoors ready in time

    Before we dive into the home to look at the various ways you can spruce it up, let’s look outside. If you have plenty of space in your garden, then why not consider changing up how you use it this summer? With the installation of a Prima Porcelain patio and the right selection of furniture, you could end up creating a dining and socialising spot that allows you to spend the best days of summer out in the sun, eating, chatting, and having a great time. 

    Switch up your colour scheme

    In the colder months, we tend to stick to much warmer colour schemes, keeping everything rich with dark reds, browns, and amber. However, now that the summer is introducing more light to our lives switch up your decor.  One of the best ways to do that is to choose a much brighter and lighter colour scheme for the home. White is a clean fresh feeling colour and the best at reflecting light around the home, but colours like yellows, oranges, and pastel tones, also work as well.

    Free your windows

    Similarly, in the winter, we want to keep the heat inside the home. This might mean big, heavy curtains that keep out the light but keep in the warmth.  In the summer, however, why not try a different window dressing to let the light in as best as possible, while still maintaining what privacy and control that you can. Roman blinds can be just the replacement that you want. Adjustable blinds are a modern look and can let light in but can still allow you you to control how much light too.

    Consider adding summery imagery

    If you want your home to feel like it suits the summer, then you can always use a simple trick of aesthetics to make it happen. We tend to associate spaces and the mood and feeling within them with whatever image it offers in the clearest sense. Nautical themes tend to be popular in the summer because they make people think of travel, the coast, and therefore the beach. However, just choosing great summer art for your walls, such as travel shots or scenes of sunny places can help make your home feel a lot more summery. What’s more, art is a great talking point. 

    Bring some life into the home

    If you want the home to feel fresh, lively, and in keeping with the season, then what better way than to commit to a motif that suits the emergence of life that spring and summer are so closely associated with? There are a lot of ways to help make a floral motif come through in your decor, but one of the best ways is to add a flowering houseplant to the home. There are plenty of houseplants that are easy to maintain all year round, so you don’t need to worry about how much of a hassle it will be. Adding a little green to a space can make your home feel a lot more relaxed and welcoming.

    Switch up the soft furnishings

    Good soft furnishings can really help you cement the aesthetic and the feeling of comfort in the home, but  ensure you have at least two sets to switch between to change your look. Instead of thicker, more fur-like rugs that tend to add the tactile cosiness needed in winter, you can opt for thinner throws and more decorative rugs, going for those that have more of a summery design. This can make for a focal point for the room.

    Make sure your bedroom is ready

    Of course, redecorating for summer isn’t all entirely about aesthetics. It’s also about making sure that each space is more practically suited to the season as well. One room that deserves a little more attention is the bedroom. Winter duvet covers and bedclothes are too warm and heavy on spring and summer nights so instead look at options like Devon duvets, summer covers that are much lighter while still remaining breathable, so you be much more comfortable in your bedroom at night. Lighter sheets can make it feel a lot more suited to summer in there, too.

    Use scents to create a sense of the season

    The decor isn’t just about talking to one sense, of course. While we might be visual creatures, you should never underestimate the effectiveness of using tools like Molton Brown fragrances to create a summer sensation in the home. Candles aren’t as widely used in the summer in the winter, but those aren’t the only way to spread your favourite scents around the home. There are also things like room sprays as well as reed diffusers to make your home spell brighter and lighter. Scents such as ginger lily, orange, and lemon all work very well for the summer, it’s just about finding which works best for your nose.

    Don’t forget to tidy

    If you want to make sure that your home’s transformation is set to make the most impact, then you have to take the time to tidy over it and make sure that you’re banishing away any of the feelings of a home that is dusty and cluttered. Dust is super visible in the light, and it has a way of making spaces look a little darker. Not to mention, it makes the home look unloved. There are plenty of great spring cleaning checklists and guides that you can find on the internet to help you give your home the attention that it needs before you open it up to the light.

    Your home can make much better use of the light and heat of summer if you let it. You just have to get it ready in time for the season. Hopefully, the tips above help you do just that.


    *Collaborative post

    A City Break In Barcelona

    Barcelona in Spain is an amazing European city that is certainly worth visiting when lockdown is over. Known for its Gaudi architecture, tapas, Gothic Quarter and much more you really need to spend a few days soaking up the atmosphere of this Spanish City to find out what it can offer a tourist.

    A long weekend in Barcelona is a decent amount of time to explore and find out what this city can offer on your first visit. If you do love this city of course you can come back again and again and although most people speak English I recommend you learn Spanish Barcelona to get the most out of subsequent trips.

    It can be tricky to work out how long to stay in Barcelona. Much of it depends on what kind of trip you want while you explore Barcelona; if you’re happy with a jam-packed itinerary of the best sights in Barcelona, or if you prefer to just chill on the beaches and maybe a day trip to another part of Catalonia.

    The fundamental thing in these cases is to organise and design a good itinerary so that your time in Barcelona will be utilised to the maximum. Here is a simple four-day plan in Barcelona to make your visit to the capital as interesting and as exciting as possible.

    Day 1



    Start your first day by visiting La Rambla on a tour of the historic centre of Barcelona. A walk along this popular road is a must to discover much of the identity of the city. The 1,200 meters of street, is full of surprises and don't forget to make a stop at the Boquería Market for some shopping. Just watch your purse as this area is known for pickpockets.

    The best thing after this tour is to enter the Gothic Quarter. The Cathedral of Barcelona, ​​Calle del Bisbe and Plaza de San Felipe Neri are some of the places that show the essence of an unforgettable walk that is more like a trip back in time.

    The Gothic Quarter goes a long way and the best thing is to get lost in its streets to discover its charms. After that, a good idea is to return to La Rambla and walk to the Mirador de Colóm or the Columbus Monument. Inside a lift takes you to a viewing platform 60 meters high and from which you can get some of the most beautiful views of Barcelona. To conclude the day, the ideal thing is to relax in the Old Port of the city, which today has become a modern leisure space where you can visit the interesting Maremagnum shopping.

    Day 2



    The immeasurable legacy of Antonio Gaudí in Barcelona is well worth dedicating a day to. Start the day early by visiting the Sagrada Familia to avoid the constant queues. This cathedral is truly astounding, and the architecture is absolutely breathtaking. 

    Next visit Casa Milà (popularly known as La Pedrera) and Casa Batlló, two examples of Catalan modernism that the Reus-born architect represented like no one else.

    You could take the Metro or the bus to return north in search of Park Güell, another of Barcelona's icons that seems to transport the traveller to a fairytale setting.

    If you still have time, you could continue discovering the north of the city, finishing the day at the Tibidabo mountain with its Amusement Park, Collserola Tower or the  Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart.

    Day 3



    After spending two days in Barcelona, visiting the most iconic places, you probably have fallen madly in love with this city. However, the following tour will amaze you even more. The magic mountain of Montjuic cannot be missed on a Barcelona itinerary. For impressive views of the entire capital go to the Plaza de España, the place from which the buses that go up to Montjuic depart then take a bus.

    The Olympic Stadium, the Spanish Village, the Montjuic Castle or the Palau Sant Jordi are some of the places that it is possible to visit on Montjuic that had a special role during the most important event that Barcelona has experienced, the 1992 Olympic Games.

    On the way back, make a stop at the National Museum of Art of Catalonia and at the Magic Fountain, which offers a light, sound and water show every day.

    Day 4



    You may be tired on your last day but there is still lots to see in Barcelona. An interesting route for today is to discover the vibrant neighbourhoods of Born and La Ribera, with their small shops, curious cafes, independent restaurants and historic market. Don't forget the Cathedral of Santa María del Mar, a Gothic masterpiece that leaves everyone who admires it open-mouthed.

    What better way to finish off your stay in Barcelona than with a walk along the Barceloneta beach. No matter which time of the year you find yourself travelling in, any time of the year is the best time to visit Barcelona beaches. You can relax with the sea breeze, the sand and the great view of the Mediterranean. An idyllic picture that can put the perfect climax to a trip that will become unforgettable and that will surely leave you wanting more and more time in Barcelona Spain.

    *Collaborative post

    Ways To Help Prevent The Spread Of Coronavirus

    It's been over a year since our first lockdown here in the UK due to the spread of the Coronavirus. I think I can speak for the majority of us in saying what a stressful year it's been. So many people have died with COVID-19, and many of us know someone.  This illness has devastated lives. It also has impacted many of us mentally. This year has been a whirlwind and people have panic bought food and toilet roll, been advised to wear masks, seen many government briefings, and been told to stay at home. 

    Vaccinations and stay at home orders have reduced the incidence of COVID-19 but unfortunately, it hasn't gone away, and we may be living with this virus for years to come. Research is showing that vaccinations are preventing severe effects of the COVID-19 virus however so that is an amazing thing.

    There are still a number of things we can do to prevent catching Coronavirus in the first place. Let's have a recap of what they are. This is a collaborative post.

    Hands Face Space 

    mask

    Hands .. Face .. Space .. was the government slogan to help prevent Coronavirus and was succinct and to the point. Here is the advice from the UK Government.

    Hands - Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using hand sanitiser, regularly throughout the day will reduce the risk of catching or passing on the virus.

    Face - Coronavirus is spread through the air by tiny droplets. Face coverings reduce the dispersion of these droplets, meaning if you’re carrying the virus you’re less likely to spread it when you exhale. At the moment many businesses indoors are not open, those that are for example hairdressers in Wales must ensure their customers and staff,  unless exempt, wear masks indoors.  

    Space - Transmission of the virus is most likely to happen within 2 metres, so maintaining that distance will help prevent the virus from spreading.

    What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

    cough

    The main Coronavirus symptoms are 

    A high temperature
    A new continuous cough
    A loss or change to your sense of smell

    These may change as more about the virus is known. There are also other symptoms like 

    What to do if you get Coronavirus?

    woman wearing mask

    If you get Coronavirus you must self isolate to prevent it from spreading and apply for a Coronavirus test.  Ring the NHS 111 helpline or access the NHS 111 website for advice. 

    You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.

    If you do have the Coronavirus illness there are some things you should do. 
    • Get plenty of rest, keep hydrated, monitor your symptoms, and if your symptoms get worse seek medical advice  
    • Stay in a specific room, isolate as long as medical advice says and avoid other people. 
    • Use a separate bathroom if possible and ensure that the bathroom is cleaned effectively after you use it. 
    • As before, hands, face and space should also be adhered to.  
    • Get your groceries delivered wherever possible.

    If you have been at home and need to go to work, school or college tests like lateral flow tests can help you check that you do not have COVID-19 but should only be used if you have no symptoms. Rapid Lateral Flow tests are recommended by the NHS where there are no symptoms as they are simple to use and results are available in less than 30 minutes. A sample is taken from the back of the throat and from the nose using a swab and this is dipped in an extraction solution and then dripped on special paper to give a result.   

    This post is kept as factual as possible and is based on current government advice, however, it is not comprehensive and does not offer medical advice. Always seek the advice of a doctor in a medical emergency. 

    If we follow the government guidelines we can come out of lockdown sooner and look to the future with some positivity. 

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    Making The Most Out Of The Planning Stages For Your Next Vacation

    Everyone needs time to totally recharge their batteries and relax and although at the moment many of us can't travel far we can still plan for the future. Planning like this helps us mentally to keep positive and look forward.  

    Vacations are a time where we can forget about work commitments and truly enjoy the company of our nearest and dearest. We get to make incredible memories, spend quality time together, and just be reminded of the beauty of the world. However, booking your vacation and getting organised is not an easy thing to do. So I wanted to share with you my top tips for getting it right. With that in mind, here are some of the ways you can make the most out of planning your next vacation and travel when it's safe to do so.

    Take time to really research the destination

    beach

    When it comes to a vacation, prioritise what really matters to you and make a list. You may want sunny weather, a short plane journey, great entertainment and fabulous accommodation. So research what you want, it's as simple as that and the Internet and guide books are your friend. Try Tripadvisor and YouTube for hotel reviews, blog posts for itineraries and guide books for the history of the area. It
    all depends on what you are after and the type of vacation you and your family want. This can actually be the fun part, the research, as you open up your mind to some of the most glorious destinations this world has to offer, and the exciting things you can do on vacation.

    Think carefully about your budget

    You may have big plans for your vacation but you also need to be practical. We all know money doesn't grow on trees, so it is time to consider how much money you really need or can spend on this vacation. This can help narrow down destinations and the type of accommodation you want but most importantly work out which you can afford. For example, Spain has a low cost of living compared to the UK while Iceland is much more expensive. This has implications on your budget for food and accommodation.
    Hotels can offer all-inclusive packages which can help on the spending money side of things, but equally self-catering options can provide you with more flexibility. Compromises may have to be made but if you cost your options up then you can start to save. Weigh up all of your options and price up every avenue to determine what is best for you and your family.

    Plan and prepare in advance


    Now you are all booked you can really start the planning process. From the itinerary of what you want to do when you get there, to planning what clothes to take and the packing. Don't forget to book the airport hotel and parking too. You should also think about things like luggage storage in your chosen location especially if you get to your destination early or want to make the most of your trip on your last day.  Careful planning means that there is no stressful rush at the last minute, and you can actually enjoy the lead-up to your vacation instead of worrying about the little details.

    Make steps to switch off while you are away

    Finally, take steps to ensure that you can enjoy your vacation time. Work hard to meet deadlines at work, and even consider having a social media and phone detox while you are away. It will work wonders for your mind and allow you to recharge the batteries for when you return. 

    Let’s hope that these tips help you to book and plan the perfect vacation.

    *Collaborative post