Bookkeeping Tips For A Profitable Blog

There’s more to running a blog than meets the eye. What might start out as a hobby venture can end up being a full-time business?

Even if you didn’t mean to become a business owner, once you start making money from your blog, that’s what you are. And there are a few responsibilities that all businesses share, one of which is keeping proper business records.

If that sounds awful, the good news is it’s not at all. With a very simple system you can keep all the records you need for a blogging business, then take it a step further if you need or want to.

A Very Simple Accounting System



At the heart of all accounting, from big business to the very small, good accounting simply means keeping track of where your money is coming from, where it’s going, and what it’s doing in the meantime.

All you need to get started with simple records is a notebook or ledger if you like pens and paper, or a spreadsheet if you prefer digital.

Have four columns and label them with Date, Item, Cost, Balance.

Date and Item are obvious. What did you buy and when? The other use for the Item column is to list where income comes from, such as sales or commissions.

The next two columns are also self-explanatory: Cost is the expense or the income amount, and the Balance is what’s left in your account. You’ll add or subtract your cost from your balance to keep a running total.

When you’re first setting up your system, use your bank account statement to get an accurate starting balance. Don’t forget to record automatic payments, direct debits and the like, from your spreadsheet or notebook. Managing your business transactions is a lot easier if you keep a separate bank account.

This really is a quite simple method, but when all you need is a straightforward income and expense record, it’ll get you started. Bookkeeping and accounting can get a lot more complex, which is why professionals are well paid and respected.

If you find you enjoy digging into figures and finding patterns in money behaviour, you could consider taking an accounting course. You can even learn accounting online, so you don’t have to stop blogging to expand your knowledge.

Analysing Your Numbers



When you’ve gathered some figures to work with, say over a month or two, take a few moments to understand what they’re telling you. This is where accounting really shows its strength.

If you also keep a track of the time spent on various activities (such as photography, writing, social media, engaging with clients or readers) alongside your basic figures, you will see how you’re spending your time as well as your money.

With money, check your item list to see what you’re spending on various things and what your income is for different activities. With those details, you can channel your energy into the areas of your blogging life that are most rewarding financially. Since bloggers can earn money from several different channels, whether through sponsorships and collaborations, affiliations, or direct sales of their own products, tracking income streams and expenses can really boost your profits.

On the flip side, you can also see which tasks are time-sinks for little return. This is powerful knowledge as it means you can choose your blog’s direction from an informed position. You’re the boss, and it feels good.

See Pitfalls and Potholes Before They Swallow You



With regular bookkeeping, you start to anticipate income and expenses. Over time, you can predict the slack months, the busy times, and the regular expenses.

With that knowledge, you can plan, organise your schedule, set up automatic payments, shop around for better deals or hunt down more profitable collaborations in good time to plug any gaps. You’ll know when you need to put extra aside because a bill is coming up, and this can include taxes if you’re making a full-time income.

The more you know about accounting and bookkeeping, the more you can profit. But if you’re looking for an additional income stream, getting qualified would also mean an extra professional income from helping others with their accounts.

*Collaborative post

Santorini With The Kids – A Must Have Guide For FAB Family Holidays

Santorini might be on top of the must-visit list for couples and groups of friends, but it can be challenging to visit with children unless you know what to expect. Come prepared, though, and Santorini will offer you some of the most memorable experiences for you and the little ones. With such profound natural beauty and Cycladic allure, it would just be a shame to miss spending your summer vacation in Santorini for sure. Here are some tips to help you plan the perfect Santorini family escapade for maximum fun and safe, all-around family-friendly entertainment.

1. Book Your Hotel Early


Santorini is a highly crowded Mediterranean island during the summer months, so ensure you book your luxury hotel in Santorini as soon as you have settled with your plans and dates. Early bookings also enable you to find the best deals for family accommodation, which is big news for a family of four to six.

Plus, most family-friendly hotels like Kivotos Santorini offer an impressive range of amenities and facilities that please even the most discerning guests, kids included! This means that you have a beautiful place to pass the time when the children are asleep or take a nap that could include your own private pool just off your luxury room and ample space for everybody to spread out.

2. Visit The Beaches In The Morning

Santorini beach

The volcanic activity on the island has shaped its shores, which is why you will find beaches with black, white, or red pebbles that are the aftermath of that volcanic activity. The peculiarity of these shores, along with the crystalline waters and the superb seascapes, attract lots of people seeking unique beach experiences.

The downside with these beaches is that the sand gets quite hot after the afternoon. For that reason, ensure you hit the shores in the morning so your toddler can get around on the sand with ease. Now, if you are not a morning type, getting your kids’ feet in aqua socks will solve this problem just fine!

One of the quietest and tranquil shores in Santorini is Perissa and Ammoudi Bay at Oia that dazzle with their natural beauty and the many tourist facilities around.

3. A Tour To The Caldera Is A Definite Must Have

Caldera

Children absolutely adore the boat tour to the Caldera and the swim to the Hot Springs nearby. You can hike all the way up to the volcano and see the craters and the shimmering Aegean Sea spreading below your feet. You may even have dinner on board and then see the caldera cliffs from up close with a cruise around the base of Santorini.

The end of the day can find you dancing Greek dances with the locals at a seaside taverna while savouring Greek ouzo or wine and captivating vistas of the Mediterranean as the little ones please their palate with delicious seafood and local dishes!

4. Have The Basics Prearranged

Santorini

Most families with small children admit that their kids adapted to the new schedule much more easily than expected. Also, throwing in an extra nap when the baby seems to need it is key as the child tries to cope with things like time changes and jet lag. When it comes to baby supplies, Santorini has nearly everything you will need. However, do pack some essentials if you are using a specific brand, including organic baby formulas, which are a bit harder to find here.

Finally, a stroller is rather a burden (and inconvenient) here as most streets are cobblestoned. As for car rentals in Santorini, most provide baby seats. The same applies to pickup car services that also supply baby car seats upon request.

5. Wear Lots Of Sunscreen

Santorini village

Santorini is hot and a tad difficult to be out and about with a child, even with a hat. The best course of action would be to wear lots of sunscreen if you must go out around midday or hang out at your deluxe hotel room during the day and enjoy the pool, the coolness of your room, and the gorgeous scenery.

In the evening, you can pamper yourself and the rest of the family with leisure strolls through the streets of Oia, Fira, and the other picturesque Santorini villages and expect to be greeted with a big smile wherever you go. In fact, Santorini is a place where babies and children are absolutely adored, with locals bending over backwards to ensure you have a great time with the family on their island.

For older children, activities like watching a movie at the open-air cinema, scuba diving, and snorkelling will leave them incredibly excited. As for you, you will surely find lots of time to soak up heart-stopping views of the Aegean Sea and share romantic moments with your significant other as the little ones entertain themselves with the beauties of Santorini.


*AD

Why You Should Get Outdoors More Often

Being outdoors has many physical and mental benefits that may surprise you. Whether you are walking outdoors, being at one with nature or just soaking up a different environment, being outdoors can be good for you and we should all aim to get outdoors more often. Let's have a look at the reasons why you should get outdoors and the benefits being outdoors has to each and every one of us.

1. Being outdoors boosts your immune system 

woman outdoors
Being outdoors means you are absorbing Vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is a 'feel-good vitamin', it helps us absorb calcium and keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. It also helps maintain a healthy immune system which is very important with the pandemic at the moment, helping you fight off illnesses.

2. It can help prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD

SAD can happen in the winter with low sunlight levels and shorter days and can cause anxiety, depression and lethargy. Getting outdoors can help with SAD even if the weather is overcast. Sunlight increases the amount of serontoin in the body that can affect your mood, appetite and sleep, making your feel happier and better rested. So get outdoors if you want to help prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

3. Immersion in nature is good for you

girl reading stream

A growing body of research has shown that immersion in nature is good for your health. One study of over 20,000 people by the University of Exeter found that people who spend over 2 hours a week in green spaces were much more likely to report good physical and mental health over those that don't.  Being surrounded by greenery can also make you feel more connected with nature and the environment and make you feel calmer and less stressed, and we all want that, don't we?

4. It can help you sleep

It really isn't in your imagination, being outdoors can really help you sleep.  Natural light can help regulate your circadian rhythm, whilst exercising outdoors is always a good thing, and it doesn't have to be running a marathon! Even brisk walking will benefit your sleep pattern, get your heart rate working and help improve your sleep. 

5. The outdoors enhances creativity

Past research shows that being in nature helps concentration, and the sights and sounds of nature can inspire creativity. Researches found that backpackers scored 50 per cent better on a creativity test when they spent 4 days in nature disconnected from electronic devices. Forest Schools which are woodland based schools capitalise on this by learner-led exploration and discovery in an educational setting. 

As you can see there are plenty of reasons why you should get outdoors more often. There are some beautiful places to live in the world and living in an area of outstanding beauty does help you appreciate the outdoors more.  Why not look for real estate for sale in Whistler, Banff or near one of the national parks in the USA or Canada or an area of Oustanding National Beauty in the UK so you are living close to nature. 

Simple Tips To Make Sending Gifts Abroad A Breeze

Sending a gift overseas can be surprisingly challenging. While most of us are fine giving a gift to someone in person, sending something abroad to a friend or family member can be really challenging due to all of the logistical things to keep in mind. If you really want to send a gift that will be remembered to someone overseas, then it helps to keep these simple tips in mind before you send it off.


If Possible, Try And Prepay Customs Duties And Taxes

There are some rules around sending gifts overseas. For example, some countries may require the recipient to pay customs and duties, but others might let you mark the package as a gift so that it skips any customs charges assuming it’s below a certain value. In some cases, you might be able to prepay the customs duties and taxes so that it goes straight to your recipient. In the event that they do need to pay, you may want to send them a little money ahead of time or even offer to pay the customs and handling fee for them.

Don’t Stress Too Much About Your Gift Arriving On Time

International deliveries are always going to be finicky. They might arrive early, they might arrive late, and sometimes they’ll arrive just on time. It’s difficult to judge the exact time they’ll reach your recipient, so it’s best not to get too stressed out over the gift arriving on a specific day. Whether it’s their birthday, for a holiday, or to coincide with an event, you should always aim to send it earlier rather than later.

You Can Send More Things Abroad Than You’d Think

Some people don’t like the idea of sending gifts abroad because it’s a lot of work to package things correctly and print out shipping labels. As such, you may want to consider buying something from a store and having it gift wrapped and sent to your recipient. You can use Amazon to send international deliveries, many online stores also ship overseas, and you can even send flowers to another country. There are more stores than you think that will send items abroad, so don’t hesitate to try this out if you’re looking for an easier way to send a gift to a friend or family member in another country.

Make Sure It’s Packaged Properly With Plenty Of Padding

But if you do go the route of packaging the gift yourself, it’s important to make sure there is plenty of padding to protect the items inside. Even if the item itself isn’t fragile, it’s always best to add plenty of padding so that it survives any rough handling during the transportation process. For instance, you may want to consider placing your gift into a box with protective materials, then placing it into another box that is slightly larger and also contains more padding. This is the best approach for fragile items and doesn’t increase the cost much while offering more peace of mind.


*Collaborative post

4 Of The Best Free Online Game Sites

Online entertainment and online gaming is huge. From big-budget games that you can play online, like Minecraft and Pokeman to specialist adventure games like Warhammer to online escape rooms, online entertainment is a trillion pound business. There is also a wealth of free games available too, often in the retro category, like games you played in your childhood.

Do you remember playing Tetris, Space Invaders or Pacman? Well, you can play games like these or very similar games online for free. Here are 4 of the best free online game sites.

duck shoot

CBBC

CBBC has a number of games you can play for free many with an educational slant. They are all based on BBC programmes so you may already know the characters, from Dennis and Gnasher to the Worst Witch and Horrible Histories and more. Of all these I particularly liked Dangermouse. They also have quizzes and puzzles on the site. You can access these from a tablet, phone or laptop. Especially good for kids this site is super cool as you can play games based on your favourite TV programmes. A site for primary age children or young teens especially.

Cartoon Network

Cartoon Network TV channel has a range of games that you can play online. There is a large selection here bigger than the BBC and a range of style of game, from arcade to platform, puzzle to racing. The creative games are fun on here, especially if you like drawing. You do have some advertisements here which means the games are free to view. Especially great for kids, you can access these from a tablet, phone or laptop again.

Lock House

Lock House is an online escape room site that you have to pay for but it also has a list of free online escape rooms too. Now I've played an escape room online, and had to pay for the privilege so it's great to know there are a variety of online escape rooms out there that you do not have to pay for. Online escape rooms are great collaborative rooms that you generally do with a team, so it can be fun playing with friends or family. There are even games listed that you can play from a Google Form like a Hogwarts Harry Potter digital escape room. Most of these games are for ages 10 and up.

Plays

Plays is a site where you can play video games online for free. What I like about this site is the retro nature of the games which are based on games from the 70 and 80s mainly. Games include Jumper Frog which is based on Frogger, Neon Snake based on the classic Snake game and lots of mini-golf and soccer games. The games are simple to play from a phone or laptop. I liked the Duck Shoot game which was colourful, easy to play with the mouse or keypad, and would appeal to everyone from young kids to adults. Just try to avoid the ducks with the X. They also have more challenging games and you can see the reviews online too. A great fun retro site suitable for children and adults. 

As you can see there are a number of free line games sites out there. You don't have to pay for good quality games these days. Although these games may not be cutting edge or have the graphics you get from games you pay for they still provide an enjoyable experience for all ages. 

*Collaborative post

4 Delicious Chicken Dishes You Could Easily Learn to Make

If you are looking to branch out on the meals that you cook or you just need some inspiration for the chicken that you have sitting in the freezer, then look no further as this post will go through 4 delicious chicken dishes that you can easily learn to make at home. These recipes involve minimal fuss and maximum flavour.

  • Chicken Chow Mein



This recipe is an authentic Chinese dish that can be cooking in a mere ten minutes. The noodle stir-fry is a flexible dish, meaning you can take out and add in any ingredients you desire. So if you are cooking for a fussy eater, then this dish is ideal for adapting to picky needs. 


Ingredients:

  • Medium egg noodles
  • A splash of toasted sesame oil
  • Skinless chicken breast fillets - sliced into strips
  • 2 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 red pepper - finely sliced
  • Bean sprouts
  • 2 spring onion - used for garnish on top 


Use one pan for boiling the noodles, and another for frying up the chicken, vegetables, and sauce. Once the noodles are cooked, mix them into the pan with all the goods in it.

 

  • Shredded Chicken Tacos

This Mexican dish always goes down as a treat, with even the pickiest of eaters enjoying the tender, moist chicken. Cooking chicken so that it is not dry is essential to this dish, and at Corrie Cooks, they recommend using an instant pot to get perfectly cooked chicken. Once the chicken is cooked, you take it out of the pot and put it on a chopping board. Then you can use two forks to pull the chicken apart. 


Ingredients:


  • Corn tacos
  • Skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • A dash of Olive Oil
  • Pepper - cut into strips
  • Red onion - cut into strips
  • 1 tbsp of BBQ sauce


Once the chicken has been pulled apart, lightly fry it up with the vegetables and add your seasoning. Pop the taco shells in the oven for a few minutes to warm them up before putting the filling in.

  • Chicken and Bacon Pie


If you are after a comforting and warming dish, then what better option than a chicken and bacon pie. While this one takes a little longer to cook, it mainly spends its time in the oven so you don’t have to be at the stove watching over it. 


Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast
  • Bacon lardons or pancetta cubes 
  • Leek
  • 100ml of Milk
  • 1tsp of Flour
  • Puff Pastry
  • An egg for egg wash on the top of the pastry


While you fry up the chicken, bacon, and leek together in a pan, preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Pour the milk and flour into the frying pan and mix until you get a creamy texture. Then pour the filling into an oven dish and place the puff pastry on top. Once the pastry is firmly in place then do your egg wash before popping it in the oven until golden brown. 

 

  • Chicken and Chorizo Tray Bake

Last but certainly not least we have the chicken and chorizo tray bake! What is most exciting about this dish is that it is a one tray wonder, meaning your washing-up duties will be minimal. 


Ingredients:


  • Chicken thighs
  • Chorizo ring or cubed chorizo pieces
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • White Onion
  • A splash of white wine of your choice
  • Mushrooms - chopped into chunks
  • 3 Rosemary sprigs 


Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and while it is warming up, assemble your tray and spread out the ingredients so that they can cook evenly. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and there is no pink showing. 


Author Bio



Allen Brown 

A dad of 3 kids and is a keen writer covering a range of topics such as Internet marketing, SEO and more! When not writing, he's found behind a drum kit. 

5 Of The Best Cultural Experiences In Tuscany Italy

Tuscany, the beautiful region of central Italy, is an amazing place to visit. It has a diverse natural landscape with lush rolling hills, green mountain peaks and soft sand beaches as well as historical cities with architectural marvels such as Florence and Sienna. 

If you are planning a trip to Tuscany there are so many things to do and places to explore. Top of my list is the many cultural experience and attractions.  Tuscany is known for its many UNESCO world heritage sites as well as its art galleries and its strong cultural identity.  Let's have a look at 5 of the best cultural experiences in Tuscany Italy.

Explore Cultural Florence

Florence

It goes without saying that Florence is worth visiting and is a popular destination in Tuscany. This historical city known as the birthplace of Renaissance art has so many iconic sites, such as the Duomo cathedral, the Galleria dell’Accademia home of Michelangelo's David sculpture and the Uffizi, an outstanding Renaissance art gallery that houses the Birth of Venus. It's a must-see city to visit if you are into culture and art and was the first place in Tuscany to be declared a UNESCO world heritage site.  Allow two to three days to explore and soak up the atmosphere.

Wander Siena's Streets


Siena in central Tuscany is one of Italy's most intriguing medieval cities. A UNESCO world heritage site it's a place where it's easy to walk, discovering little shops and cafes as you go and enjoying the outstanding architecture. Piazza del Campo is the main square where you can people watch as you stop for a glass of Vin Santo, an Italian dessert wine from this region. Siena is a city in Florence's shadow, but it shouldn't be as it's just stunning. 


Travel Slowly In The Val d'Orcia Valley 


If you think of the typical postcards of rural Tuscany, the chance is you are thinking of the Orcia Valley or Val d'Orcia. Known for its cypress trees, olive trees and vineyards this truly beautiful area has several quaint villages where life goes slow. Montalcino, a classic hilltop town is known for its Brunello red wine, while Pienza, a tiny village is another World UNESCO heritage site with 15th-century architecture. Explore  The Orcia Valley for slow travel when you want to be immersed in the everyday life of the Tuscan people.


Visit A Vineyard Or Two On The Chianti Wine Trail

Chianti wine

With some amazing wines and extraordinary scenery, Tuscany's Chianti Classico Wine Route is definitely worth exploring. Known throughout the world, Chianti red wine is a red blend made primarily with Sangiovese grapes. from this region. Make time to visit some of the ancient little towns along the Chiantigiana scenic road and stop in one of the many vineyards for a tour, soaking up the history of the winemaking process. Fontodi is a well known organic vineyard following biodynamic principles and others include Villa Pomona and Van del Corti. Some are free whilst others charge a small amount and the area has some amazing little restaurants too.


Take In A Thermal Spa

Saturnia Spa

Tuscany has several thermal spas where the water is heated naturally underground and has been for thousands of years. Some like the Saturnia Spa are very well known and offer a range of treatments too whilst others are more rustic and simple. Spa waters are rich in minerals and vitamins and can be beneficial for a range of conditions including skin conditions reducing inflammation and soothing. Some of these spas have gourmet food experiences too. 

Accommodation


Tuscany has a range of farmhouse accommodation, bed and breakfasts and hotels. For a little luxury stay in one of the Tuscan luxury villas available in the beautiful Italian countryside and experience your very own Under The Tuscan Sun moment. 

Let me know, have you visited Tuscany?

*AD

Smart Ways To Get The Whole Family To Spend More Time In The Garden

Fresh air, natural sunlight, and getting closer to nature are all benefits associated with encouraging the family to spend more time out of doors and in the garden. However, sometimes they need an extra push to turn off the TV, put their video games down and get outside. Happily, you can find several suggestions for things that are almost guaranteed to get everyone out of doors regularly. Keep reading to find out what they are. 

Make An Area Where You Can Cook 

grill

While you may fancy going the whole hog and installing an outdoor kitchen, complete with granite worktops and a teppanyaki grill. Although, you certainly don't have to create some wonderful alfresco food and get the family out of doors. Indeed, a simple gas or charcoal BBQ will do the job, as long as you mix up the type of food you offer. Fortunately, there are plenty of delicious BBQ recipes online from which you can draw inspiration.

 

Alternatively, what about a pizza oven? You can DIY these or buy them ready-made if you like. They are sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike especially when you instigate pizza-making parties as a regular thing! 

Invest In Some Lighting 

While the evenings are getting longer, there still isn't always as much light as we would like in the garden, something that makes reading, cooking, and eating outdoors more difficult than it should be. With that in mind, putting in some lighting can help you and your family get much more use out of your garden space. There are several lighting options to consider as well, including lower wattage solar mood lighting that can be placed in flower beds, or fairy lights that can be strung from trees that give a pretty magical look to your garden. Alternatively providing some brighter lights by your seating, cooking, and walkway areas is a great approach as it makes this space much more suitable no matter what the time of day. 

Add Some Seating 


Garden seating is another smart way that you can make your outside space more appealing to the whole family. If you are going for a holiday vibe why not choose things like these folding wooden deck chairs for your garden? You may also want to go for reclining sun loungers as these can be hugely relaxing too. However, if you are looking for more of a sophisticated vibe a matching rattan or wicker set with removable cushions can be a great choice. Indeed, look for one that includes modular sofas as this can help replicate the indoor lounge experience out of doors, which can be very appealing for adults and kids alike. 

Put In Some Play Equipment

 

Last, of all, there is nothing that will encourage the kids to get out of doors more than installing some play equipment. In particular, a climbing frame and swing can work well, even in a small garden. Although, if you are looking to get the kids outside all summer long an above-ground swimming pool can help them recreate a vacation experience in their own backyard.

*Collaborative post

Top Tips For Preparing Your Child For Nursery


It can be a hard time for both parent and child when it comes to the move to Nursery. As a parent, you want to be sure that your child is prepared for the move, in what is one of the first most significant moments of change in your child’s life.

With the help of a Nursery in Richmond, I’ve put together some top tips for helping your child be prepared for Nursery.

Meet Other Kids

toddlers
This is particularly key if your child is an only child. To be suddenly thrust into an environment with lots of children can be quite overwhelming for them. Make sure to have some play dates with other children or parent-children groups ahead of starting Nursery, to allow your child to get used to the idea of spending time and playing with other children.

Time Apart From You

While you will, of course, want to spend as much time with your child as possible, you do have to help them get used to the idea that you won’t be around them 24/7. They will be better prepared for the idea of Nursery if they’re used to being placed in the care of other people, be it other family members or friends, and not constantly relying on you for their care.

Visit The Nursery


Bringing your child to the Nursery ahead of their first day is a vital step to helping them feel prepared for going there. Allowing them to be more familiar with the environment, as well as getting the chance to meet the teachers is invaluable to helping your children feel less intimidated by the new step in their lives.

Potty Training

A lot of Nurseries like children to be potty trained, or at the very least have the awareness to say when they need to go to the bathroom. But accidents can happen, so make sure you pack some spare clothes in their bag when you send them on their way.


*Collaborative post

Exploring Creative Writing With Your Child

Creative writing is a form of expression well worth exploring with your child. It can help them in ways that may well surprise you, from developing vocabulary to improving their grammar and communication skills.

To show how you can explore creative writing with your child, I’ve collaborated with a Private School in Somerset to show you how to help them catch the writing bug.

Read Early & Often

reading baby
Reading to your child from a young age is the easiest and probably earliest moment in their lives that you can introduce them to creative writing. Hearing stories will inspire them and get their imagination running, demonstrating the potential of stories to whisk you away to amazing fantastical places. Read to your child from the day they are born, get them used to hearing books and realising that they are something to be treated with respect.

Talk To Them About Stories

Getting your child to talk about the stories they like can help them engage with the art of writing. Ask them their opinions on events and the characters in the story. This will help them think about what makes a story work, and why it is they respond to certain characters, events and details.

Help Them Find Out What They Want To Write About

writing mum and child

Explore your child’s interests with them, and see if writing about what they like is a way for them to get into creative writing. Creating something focused on what they like will make your children much more invested in the process.

Give Them Space To Write

Create an area of the home that can be dedicated to writing. Populate it with their favourite books, and give them all the tools and equipment they might need to begin creating their own worlds. Inspire them to not just write, but to create drawings of their characters, and mind maps explaining elements of their stories in detail. It will help make writing feel like playtime and encourage them to let their imagination soar.

*Collaborative post

Top Attractions To Visit On The Island Of Madeira

Madeira is one of those holiday destinations you may not have heard much about but is a secret gem. A Portuguese island that happens to be the largest and most populated island of the Madeira Archipelago, it is on top of a massive, submerged dormant shield volcano. It is located off the coast of Morocco in the North Atlantic Ocean.

The island has a very mild subtropical climate all year round. You can expect some winds which may bring some cloudiness and rainfall as well as some humidity. Rainfall tends to be concentrated between October and April with it being quite rare in the summer, especially on the Southern side of the island. If you want warm weather and less humidity visit Maderia from May to September.

The island is breathtakingly beautiful, and it is little wonder travellers flock to visit it. There are many places that you can visit on the island and I thought I’d share with you five top things to do or places to visit on the island of Madeira.

Levada Walk

Maderia

If hiking is something you enjoy, then taking a Levada Walk might just be the thing for you.
Levada Walks are walking trails along the maintenance paths beside the Levadas or mini canals. It is a wonderful way to see the beauty of the island and is one of the most popular outdoor activities on the island throughout the year.

Sao Vicente Caves

If you love exploring caves when you go travelling then the Sao Vincente Caves are caves of outstanding beauty. Formed as part of a volcanic eruption over 800,000 years ago, you can now walk through the caves and see the lava tubes formed from the eruption. 

Monte Palace Tropical Garden

Monte Palace

These gardens are home to more than 100,000 species of plants. Very impressive, right? However, the gardens also house a collection of ‘living fossils’ as well as many free-roaming birds. It is great to explore in the sunshine and should it start raining you can visit the museum on the grounds as well housing two collections one of rocks and minerals and one of sculptures.

Monte Toboggan Run

If you are a traveller who loves to experience the more unique side of 
a destination then the Monte Toboggan Run is the activity for you. Head to the Madeira Botanical Garden above the city of Funchal and then, instead of walking back down, take a ride down instead! The toboggan run is essentially a wicker basket with two seats. It is pushed and guided by two men wearing a traditional costume and straw hat. Their shoes are made of rubber and serve as brakes and the basket goes down the mountain on wooden runners. A thrilling, fun, and unique way to explore the island for sure!

Whale And Dolphin Spotting

dolphin

Because of the location of Madeira, the opportunity to see visiting whales and dolphins arises more than in most other places. Some species can be very common to see in the waters of Madeira. If you have the chance to do so, try spotting some whales and dolphins by taking a boat trip, It is spectacular to watch them in their natural habitat at such a close range.

As you can see, Madeira is a beautiful island with plenty to offer both its residents and visitors. There are plenty of other stunning places to visit and fun things to do. Why not consider Madeira for your next destination when it's safe to travel again?


*AD

How To Raise A Science Lover

Science is all around us in every part of life. For your children, it can be a subject that is utterly fascinating, and one that can lead them towards an incredible career, or helps fuel their curiosity about the world around them.

For some pointers on how you can help nurture a love of science in your children, I’ve collaborated with an independent school in Surrey to offer some ways as to how you can raise a science lover.

Start With Play


Simply playing with toys, modelling clay and building blocks, is a very informal means to get your child interested in the world of science. Water play, as well can help your child see science in action, as they see how different objects react to water, and the kind of cause and effect their actions can have on different materials. Encourage them to make gloop or salt dough or hanging crystals with salt and water.

Get In Nature

Nurturing a deep appreciation for nature in your child is a wonderful way to encourage them to be a science lover. Seeing the wonders that exist outside their front door, from the beauty of a giant tree, or bright colours of different flowers will put them in touch with how amazing the natural world is. Having a great appreciation for the environment is vital for our children, so the sooner you can do that the better. Why not take them to a local park and talk about the changing seasons and how it affects the trees, the plants and the wildlife?

Visit Museums


Visiting museums is a great way to bring aspects of both science and history to life for your children. Many museums, once things are back to normal, offer dedicated children's workshops that can help bring elements of science to life. There are some amazing science museums specifically in the UK such as the Science Museum in London, Techniquest in Cardiff and We The Curious science museum in Bristol.

Talk About Science At Home

Bring up your own interest in science, and the many forms it takes in everyday life. You can do this with when you cook or when you clean or when you bathe for example. Showing that you yourself have an interest in science will inspire your children to be more into the subject themselves, and can be an interest you share together.  There are many opportunities to learn about science in the home, why not have a look online to see if there are any activities to help reinforce analytical and scientific skills. 


*Collaborative post

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.

*Collaborative post

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.


*Collaborative post

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 like King's Cross and Paddington Station. 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. Sometimes it's easy to get a hotel near the train station especially for an early morning journey. 

Accommodation


When booking accommodation it's a good idea to check that they have a COVID guarantee that you can cancel if there are 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 in popular destinations will also do as well, like hotels near Hyde Park. 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 an 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 that 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. If you are travelling to the UK internationally when restrictions are lifted check if you need a UK tourist visa to ensure your travel runs smoothly and you meet all the requirements at the airport.

Let me know, are you planning a UK holiday? 
    *AD