18 April 2018

The things you need for an organised home

 Keeping your home organised and in order is an ongoing battle that we all face on a daily basis, but just following a few simple tips can ensure that your home is clean and clear.

Having an organised home can take a bit of effort, but keeping it this way can work wonders for your wellbeing.
These are our tips for ensuring that your home is always organised.

Keep the hall clutter free
Walking into your home that’s filled with bits and bobs in the hall is not going to give you the right mindset for the rest of your home.

Keep your hall free from clutter and think about storing coats, bags and umbrellas somewhere else. Or if you have the space for it, invest in some sort of storage solution that can keep regularly worn jackets and shoes in.

Could a letter rack make a difference too? Instead of just piling them up, sort them into levels of importance so they’re not chucked into the drawer and forgotten about.

Organise your book shelves
When was the last time you looked through and sorted your book shelves? Taking the time, even just once a year, to have a clear out and sort things out can make a big difference. Donate the books you aren’t going to read again to a local charity shop, or even just ask friends if they’d like to read them too. Recycling your books is great for the mind as well as helping to keep your shelves free from books you’re never going to read again.



Keep essentials out of sight 
Household essentials like mops, vacuum cleaners, irons and ironing boards should have a designated place in the home that is stored away neatly and tidily. Don’t leave them leaning against the bedroom wall or in the corner of a room, instead ensure that you find the space to keep them tucked away.

No dark corners
Everyone wants a light and bright home, because dark corners are areas that it’s easy for clutter to culminate. If you do have dark spaces in the home, ensure you have plenty of functional lighting in your rooms to guarantee that there aren’t any dark spaces where clutter and unorganised mess can gather. First Lighting has a huge range of functional lighting that is smart and stylish for your home.



Make use of storage areas
Cupboards in the home are a god send for storing the things we really need, but don’t necessarily use all of the time. Keep your storage areas clean and clear and ensure that you know exactly what is in them at all times. That way you won’t have anything in there that is of no use now or in ten years time. Once a year give it a little clear out and make sure it’s tidy and free from useless items. Having some practical lighting in these spaces is also a good idea to ensure that you can see exactly what is in these spaces.


17 April 2018

For The Love Of Dogs

I have always loved dogs.  The unconditional love.  The happy face that greets you when you come in the door.  They way they somehow seem to know when you are ill or sad and come to cuddle you.  

Over the past 25 years we have had many dogs.  See you if can see the (very obvious) theme of the names! Benjie, Sophie, Cindy, Ellie, Rosie and Simba.  All with the "ie" on the end apart from our latest baby boy, Simba.

The saddest part about having a dog is that they have you their entire life, but you don't have them for yours.  We have had to say goodbye to 5 dogs and it is heartbreaking every single time.  But we will always remember their love, their characteristics, their personalities.

Our dining room is host to the pictures of all the dogs we have had over the years.




I realised the other day that Simba was turning 2 in June and we still not have a picture of him up in the house.  That had to be remedied ASAP so I started looking at photo canvas prints online that we could put on the wall.

I think the hardest part was choosing a photograph of him, I have hundreds on my phone as he is such a little poser!  See what you think of the photograph I chose..


Isn't he just utterly beautiful?  As you can see, we have departed from having Yorkshire Terriers to this time, a Shih Tzu this time.  When we went looking at dogs this time around after losing our wonderful Rosie and Ellie last year, I saw their faces in all the puppies we looked at.  We found Simba on Gumtree of all places, with current owners who couldn't care for him anymore so at 4 months, he became our baby instead.

Do you have photographs of your fur babies (or actual babies, whatever takes your preference that you want on your wall?  Because I am happy to tell you that I have a promotion code for www.my-picture.co.uk on their already discounted canvas print formats (87% saving in all!).  

All you have to do is go on the site, upload your photograph, select the desired print canvas format and enter the code THECURVEDOPINION in the coupon code section when checking out.  Simple!  The code is valid until the 15th May 2018.

Let me know in the comments if you buy a print and what photograph you have chosen!




*This item was gifted to me but all opinions (and fur babies) are my own

15 April 2018

Tips For Summer Holidays When You Are Plus Size

So 3 months today I'm off on holiday to Spain.  It has been 8 years since my last holiday abroad and I CANNOT WAIT.  Of course you know about this because I have been on going on about this for months!

I previously wrote about dressing while plus size on holiday and today I want to talk about how to prepare yourself in terms of confidence and preparing yourself in terms of your skin.


Look After Your Skin

One thing that I am conscious about, especially now that I am 39 is that taking care of your skin in the sun is so important and you have to be prepared. 

My skin hates winter and I frequently end up with dry flaky legs and dry patches on my face, no matter what products and creams that I use.  This brings my confidence levels down and makes me cover up more.

I now attend a local thermal spa every month and indulge in the steam and sauna rooms which is fabulous for your skin and the heat exfoliates your skin a thousand times better than any product.  In addition, I am shortly going to be taking a natural collagen supplement in order to improve my skin's elasticity.  This product also helps to protect your skin from sun damage.  I will post a link on the blog when I have finished trying out the product for my thoughts and review.

Bring The Costs Down

As I haven't been on holiday for so long, I am having to buy a lot of things for this holiday when it comes to clothes, products and accessories. 

This can prove expensive and one way that I have combated that expense is by researching online for the best prices and also using cashback sites.  You can get cashback on everything from the holiday itself, to travel insurance, to your clothes and the products that you need.

Do What You Need to Elevate Your Confidence Levels

He had to get in on the act!!

As a plus size woman, even with the confidence that I now have, I confess that I do find the prospect of walking around in swimwear, shorts etc a little bit daunting.  Although I feel confidence in myself, the judging eyes and occasional comments can get you down and that is the last thing that you want when you are on holiday.

Going to my local spa every month has increased my confidence exponentially in realising that people are living their own lives, having their own experiences and generally do not care what other people are doing or look like. 

But if you are worried about being confidence and secure on holiday, do what I do.  Bring on the glam!!!

Work those Audrey Hepburn inspired sunglasses.  Wear the brightly coloured kaftan or sarong around the pool.  Find that swimsuit, swimdress or bikini that makes you feel fabulous.  Wear a dress every night if you want (I will be).  I have even bought a Spanish inspired fan. 

Above all, OWN IT.

I spent far too many years worried about what others thought about my body without ever thinking of what I thought about it.  No more.  I own who I am, what I look like and what I wear and damn, I am going to look and FEEL fabulous on holiday.



On a side note, I share this last photograph of me in a swimsuit for a reason. I reviewed this swimsuit a few months ago and shared it on my blog and Twitter.  An idiot who disagreed with me online recently shared this photograph of me online, without comment, in order to try and silence me.

Pro tip.  If you disagree with me, use your words.  Form an argument.  Grow a set.  Because you will NEVER silence me or make me feel ashamed of my body.  If your only form of argument is to try and silence someone by attempting to disparage their body image, you are the one that needs help.  Not me.

14 April 2018

Horse Racing: The Most Brutal Sport In The World

Today is my annual post about the Grand National.  As always, some will read it, some won’t.  Some of you may look at the title of this post and turn away, not wanting my words to spoil your office bit of fun betting on the sweepstakes.  As ever, all I hope is that at least one person reads my blog today and changes their mind about making that bet. Forever.

The Grand National isn't the only horse racing event of the year of course.  Recently we had the Cheltenham Festival.

North Hill Harvey.  Dresden.  Sandsend.  Some Plan.

Sound familiar?  Probably not.  But they died for your viewing entertainment at the Cheltenham Festival this year.  A broken leg in the horse racing world isn't repairable.  A broken leg is a death sentence.  

Animal Aid began a record of the death of horses 11 years ago at the Cheltenham Festival.  Since then, 1677 horses have died.  That is 3 horses, every single week.  3 horses, A WEEK.  During the popular horse racing events and months, that figure increases.  In March alone 18 horses were destroyed due to injuries in a race.    

This weekend is the Grand National.  People who do not bet the whole year round get together and chose their horses, either with families or work colleagues.  It is a tradition.  After years of horses dying at every Grand National meet, they have at least improved the course and unlike places like Cheltenham who practically have fatalities every year, the Grand National hasn't had a fatality in five years.



Every year the course at the Grand National is improved.  Made safer for the horses, yet still last year 21 horses out of the 40 entered failed to finish.  In any other sport, it would be deemed too dangerous.  By a mile.  By 50 miles.  But because it is horse racing, it is somehow deemed acceptable.

When you make your bet today, what are you thinking about?  The possibility of winning a couple of pounds on  a five pound bet?  Probably.  What you won't be thinking about, what I want you to think about is a horse.  A horse who loves to run.  But a horse that doesn't know that he is entered into a race which could take his life if he breaks a leg, or a shoulder.  A horse who if he manages to make it through the 16 fences, 14 of which jumped twice, will be whipped to the finish line.  All for your two pound win.

So when you think about placing your bet today, ask yourself this.  Do I like seeing horses whipped?  Do I like watching a race where death is a very real prospect for the horses involved?  Do I want to contribute to an industry that values horses value at zero and the mob at one hundred percent?  I hope you know the answer to that question.  


We are a nation of animal lovers.  If you love animals, you do not want horses to be treated this way.

The organisers at the Grand National have started to listen.  It is time that all organisers of all horse races do the same until it is still a competitive sport, but not a fatal one.  Not one where a winner has been whipped to succeed.  

Make your choice.

2 April 2018

Summer Loving

So this was my view yesterday.  Looks idyllic doesn't it? I'm thinking 25 degrees, a cocktail beach bar at the other end, sun shining down on you..... Not so much.  This is in fact Lytham St Annes in Lancashire, England where we took my dog Simba for a walk yesterday.


Here is the boy in question, absolutely loving his first time on the beach (although he wasn't too sure of the sea, preferably to keep his little paws dry). 


Whilst today we are unfortunately back in snow covered scenes, yesterday made me really start to think about the summer ahead.

We are lucky at home to have a large patio area with beautiful views over the town to the countryside in the distance.  It is a perfect sun trap in the summer months and every year in the Spring we take advantage of great patio and garden furniture deals from Groupon, to enhance the area and maximize the space potential.

For summer evenings with a glass of wine and a beautiful view, we have a wrought iron table and chairs set on the balcony and for sun bathing during the day (when possible in the British weather), we have loungers and an ice cooler box for refreshing summer beverages.


I cannot wait to take Simba on more walks on the beach in the summer.  There are so many beautiful beaches in the UK that sometimes we do not truly appreciate until the warmer weather appears and on a sunny day, you really do feel like you could be in the Riviera.

One things that us Brits tend to forget during the summer is that the sun in England can burn you just as easily as when you are abroad.  Because we get so little really sunny days in the UK, we forget that you need to use protection against the sun here too.  All of my really bad sunburn incidents have happened whilst on a day out with no sunscreen.

I remember a particular day out at Oulton Park racing track when we presumed that the weather was going to be raining, and we ended up in blazing sunshine and for me, blisters on my shoulders that lasted for a week!  Prior preparation is key folks!

I am lucky enough to be taking a trip abroad this summer and will be sharing with you my top tips for summer holiday preparation when you are plus size.  Check back in a few days for my tips!



*Collaborative post

29 March 2018

It's A Period Thing

I have a question.  What is it about a woman having a period that is so scary to some people?

When you see adverts about menstruation products, you invariably see women all in white, doing sports, bungee jumping, basically anything active that does not actually reflect how women feel when they are on a period, or what they want to do.

If you want to sell a menstruation product to women, why not for once, work to your audience.  I know that I, for one, do not want to run, jump or bungee jump when I am on my period, I want a hot water bottle, food and more than anything, no one to irritate me more than I am currently feeling.  

Like my insides are being ripped out and my head has turned to mush.  Like I feel anger, sadness, pain, sleepy and so so irritated!  Show me an advert that reflects a woman having a true period, with a product that is going to help me and I will buy it in droves.

Do not mess with me!  I am hormonal.

Sell me a product that is actually made specifically to assist women when they are having a period.  Knixteen for example sell underwear for teens that works as a perfect backup when you are having a period and want to protect your underwear (and your clothes!) from leaks.  How many times as a teenager have you been terrified when on your period that something is going to show through? 

Because we have been taught that showing that having a period is taboo.  

I was in a line at Boots the other day with my sanitary products and an older lady actually looked at me in shock and said "Hide that away dear!".  Why?  Periods happen.  It is a normal bodily function that we should not have to hide.

I cannot count the amount of times that I, and most the women I know, have experienced a sharp cramp, been asked if we are ok and every single time we answer "No it's fine, I'm fine".  Why do we deny the pain?

Studies have shown recently that period pain can be as painful sometimes as a heart attack and yet we are taught to demur, diminish and outright deny.  We are taught that it is something to hide, to protect people away from.  

It is 2018 people.  Sell us the products that work for a woman actually having a period.  Normalise it.  Don't make it a taboo.  We are women, we bleed sometimes.  Get over it.

26 March 2018

Decorating Your Ceilings

The ceiling. It’s something we don’t tend to think much about unless we’ve got a crack in it or the water from the bathroom is suddenly spilling through. However, it’s one of the best places in the house to flex your creative muscle! We’ve talked about what to do with your floors, so let’s turn our attention upwards. It’s time to focus a little on the ceiling, and how decorating it can really bring a room together. You might feel like your space is a little empty if you have minimal possessions to your name (don’t worry, you can easily build on this!), and thus filling a room with a little more life is a must!


Try Hand Painting

If you’ve got enough confidence in your ability with a paint brush, it’d be a good idea to take to painting any designs on yourself. Just imagine being able to look up at your ceiling and seeing an entire constellation there, or a misty woods full of flowers and sprites! Just like the Sistine Chapel, it can be a real work of art when you set your mind to it!

So if you’ve got the paint and a ladder that’s tall enough to get you within head height of the upper floor, try this idea out. Whatever you choose to do with your hand painted masterpiece, try to blend its colours in with the rest of the room. Darker shades work well for bedrooms, and neutral colours in the kitchen are always going to be popular with your marble or hardwood countertops.

Hang Up Some Curtains

If you hang up a curtain from the ceiling, you can easily separate one half of a room out from the other. This works particularly well in the bedroom, and can give your bed a little more privacy when you’re in it. Yet, you can hang curtains up anywhere in your house, and you don’t even need to use nails to do so.

It can be a great way to get some of your own space when it comes to other rooms as well, especially if you share a house. If the curtain is done, no one is allowed to enter! Then you can get on with whatever work needs doing.

Get into the Loft

Most houses and flats have some sort of loft to them, and if yours is big enough to stand up in, it doesn’t just have to be storeroom anymore. Maybe it’s a place where all your grandmother’s old dolls are kept, but they can be stacked neatly in boxes off to the side. It’s time for you to convert the rest of the space into a sitting room.

Whatever you choose to do with your new room will work wonders when you know you can be safe there. Look into Loft Panel Next Day Delivery to keep any essential wires (electricity) out of your face immediately.

Your ceiling doesn’t have to be left white or bumpy; try out these ideas!

19 March 2018

Review: Jileon Wide Calf Boots

A few months ago I was afforded the opportunity to review a pair of wide calf wellington boots from Jileon

Now as any dog owner knows, wellington boots are not something that are not confined to the winter months, especially in the UK where weather can range from sunshine in the morning to pouring rain in the afternoon, with of course the snow we are experiencing at present.  They are of course also perfect for festivals where the mud is an ever present feature.

For me however, wellington boots are an essential to walk this little snow angel.


Now I said that I received these boots a few months ago and you may wonder why it has taken me so long to review.  The thing is with wellington boots is that you need time to make sure that they are right for you.  Are they comfortable?  Are they going to rub?  Do they support your ankles? Do they help you walk in mud, snow etc?

None of these questions can be answered with a single wearing. 

What I would recommend with these wellington boots from Jileon is to size down.  I am a size 6 and they were too big for me, even with wellington boot socks.  So for an accurate review I gifted these boots to my sister who is a size 7; and they fitted her perfectly.





 This was probably a bonus to this review to be honest as I can be a little "tippy toes" in adverse weather conditions whereas my sister takes her dogs out every day, tracking through mud, snow, streams; everywhere basically.

I asked her to wear the boots and give me an accurate reflection of what she experienced while wearing them.  Her thoughts were that they were supremely comfortable, a good fit on the ankle and had great traction.   All basically that you can ask from a wellington boot.

These are wide calf boots but there is also a belt buckle facility at the top which allows you to tighten/loosen depending on the clothing that you are wearing.  

Jileon offer boots at both the standard and wide fitting.  They also offer different wide fittings at the calf, from below calf. wide and extra wide.  They also offer usage options whether you want occasional use, to regular and hard wearing.

From both my trying them on and my sister using them on a regular basis I can confirm that the wide on the calf fitting is very accurate and the adjustable buckle at the top comes in very handy.  

I would not hesitate to recommend these wellington boots to someone else, just with the advice to size down in your shoe size in order to get the perfect fit.


*This item was gifted to me but all opinions are my own


7 March 2018

5 Tips To Sort Out Your Finances


I used to be a couple and utter scatter brain when it came to money.  If I wanted something, I usually bought it, without thinking of the consequences to my bank account, or credit rating for that matter.

This lead to credit cards, loans and ended up in a situation where I could barely keep my head above the water; but my head was buried in the sand.  After getting paid one month and realising the day after that there was barely anything left, I realised that something needed to be done.

I was getting to a stage where I needed help paying bills, my credit card bill was sky high and the dollars coming in did not match what was going out.  I managed to remedy the issue and my debts over the next few years and picked up some tips along the way which I thought I would share with you today.

Find out just how bad it is

When you realise that you had gotten yourself into a situation, everything has to come out.  Find out exactly what you owe, just how many credit cards you actually have, what you are spending your money on every month.

The first thing that I did was to look over my bank statements and credit card bills for the past six months to look at what I had been buying.  I made a chart with my justifiable expenses on one side, and the extravagances on the other.  I bet that you can guess which side had more entries.

Make A Budget

Sounds basic, but when I say make a budget, I mean for everything.  Break down every cent that is coming in and list everything that has to come out and on what date.  Make a 30 day planner and write down when bills are coming out and how much for.  If you are buying your lunches, make them instead.  STOP BUYING EXPENSIVE COFFEE SHOP COFFEES!


Be honest with your credit providers

When I realised just how much I owed to my credit card providers and loan company, I started to look at debt management companies.  Many seemed to offer the same sort of service, for a fee of course, which involved going to your credit providers and negotiating a lower monthly payment and a halt on interest.  I decided to cut out the middle man and go to them direct.

I managed to get my credit card company to freeze my account and stop any more interest going on.  I was completely honest about what I could afford and made a payment plan with them which was management.  Remember, they want their money back, what they don't want is you to stop paying completely.

I managed to make a payment arrangement with all of my debtors, with varying degrees of helpfulness from them.  But it did ease the situation and enabled me to pay them back faster and without the worry of demand letters and Court judgments.


Save

If you are trying to pay off your debts, can you really save?  Yes, but start small.  I was given a large piggy bank styled as a fashion boots many years ago and decided to put it into action.  I only put the smallest denominations into the boot, pennies, cents etc whenever I had them in my purse.  It took around 6 months to fill the boot and I was presently surprised just how much it added up to.

I would like to say that I used the money to pay more off a bill, but I didn't.  I did use it to buy someone a birthday present so that still counts, right??

Sell

If you have been throwing your money around for the good few years, the chances are that you own more stuff that even thought.  Go through everything and be brutal.  Sell what you do not need or had forgotten that you had bought.  Stuff will only ever be stuff and does not enrich your life, or your bank account!

Finally, don't beat yourself up about it.  It does not help.

You got yourself into that situation and you will get yourself out.  It will take time, effort, concentration and a stranglehold on your finances for a while, but you will get there.

Fast forward a few years and my finances back in order and I am saving for the first holiday abroad in 8 years.   Time for a long awaited cocktail by the beach.  I think I have earned one.




*Collaborative piece

5 March 2018

A Weekend Away To Make You Feel Like A New Woman

Whether you’ve got kids, a hard-hitting career, or your schedule is simply jam-packed with things to do, it’s important you prioritise yourself by taking some time away to rejuvenate and feel like a new woman. Planning a great weekend away could mean returning home to your career/kids/husband/life feeling like a brand new person and ready to tackle whatever life throws at you.

Here are some pointers and ideas that can help you to plan this:

Take A Look At Spas In Your Area

If you don’t want to go too far but you do want a weekend filled with relaxation, then take a look at any spas in your area and see if you can find a great package deal to save some money. Alternatively, you could drop some hints to a parent, sibling, or spouse if you have a special occasion coming up, like an anniversary, birthday, or even mother’s day. Spa days aren't as expensive as you think - it’s only when you start adding treatments to your package the price begins to shoot up. With a good book in hand, you could have just as good a time at a spa using the facilities without having a single massage or treatment. Great even for those on a budget!


Treat Yourself To A Stay In A Luxury Hotel

If you don’t want to stay in a spa, how about a luxury hotel? Many luxury hotels have spa and gym facilities anyway for their guests to make the most of. Dorsett City Hotel is a good example of what to look for in a high quality hotel that will meet all of your needs. Make sure you take the time here to pamper yourself, and spend some time getting to know yourself again. You don’t have to go anywhere or do anything to feel great, as long as you’re enjoying the time you’re spending with yourself.

Plan A Loose Itinerary

If you do like to have a few things planned, plan a loose itinerary so you can change your mind at the last minute if you need to. Maybe you could look at walking tours, see a monument, or go to a show.

Explore Somewhere Brand New

Exploring somewhere brand new can give you exciting butterflies in your tummy - there’s nothing more exciting than going on an adventure with yourself! It also increases your dopamine levels, so you’ll feel on a high for ages afterwards. The great thing about exploring somewhere brand new on your own is that you can do what you want when you want, and you have absolutely nobody to answer to. It’s so much fun!

Stay Away From Technology

Try not to get stuck on technology. This is about you spending some quality time with yourself for a change, so you can go home and feel amazing. You don’t want to spend your time scrolling friends news feeds even though you haven’t spoken to them in 5 years, or consuming the fake news that’s all over the internet these days. Stay in touch with your loved ones, but stay away from technology the rest of the time.

Read A Good Book
If you’re not using technology, then what can you do? Read a good book! Story books are great, but how about an amazing self help book if you really want to reduce stress in your life and get some actionable tips on how to feel amazing permanently? There are so many out there - just take a look at Hay House’s back catalogue if you’re stuck on ideas. There are books on learning how to love yourself, how to feel happier every day, how to be more productive, and so much more. Reading a book like this for the first time can really open your eyes to how powerful you truly are.

Treat Yourself
If your budget can stretch, aim to treat yourself to something nice on your weekend away. If you’re used to spending your money on bills and treating the kids all the time, this can feel strange. However, it’s important you don’t feel guilty about spending some money on yourself for a change. You deserve it! Get your nails done, or have your hair done. You’ll feel great even if you can only get a trim, or a blow dry. Maybe you could even treat yourself to a new outfit, or a special piece of jewelry to remind yourself to love yourself always.

Do A Class
There are so many classes you can do, so think back to something you’ve wanted to try for a while and see if you can find one in the area. For example, yoga is a great form of exercise that also incorporates the spiritual, or you could simply de-stress by doing some x-biking. If you don’t want to exercise, you could do a still life class, a cooking class, or something else entirely. It’s totally up to you! Take this time to explore new things and see if you can find a new hobby while having some fun.

Write A List Of Realistic Goals For When You Get Home

Before you get home, write out a list of realistic goals that you want to stick to for the next few months. Here are some ideas:

  • Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg per day.
  • Drink 2.5 litres of water per day.
  • Get at least 8 hours of quality sleep per night.
  • Put your physical and mental health first.
  • Exercise 3 times per week.
  • Read for an hour a day.
  • Spend time on goals/hobbies for at least an hour a day.

It can be tough to fit everything in, but you can do it if you make them a priority in your life. Stop putting yourself and your goals on the backburner and realize how important you are. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and when you feel full and happy, your family will too. Thanks for reading!

3 Everyday Things Storm Emma Forced Us To Re-Evaluate

It’s at times like this that mother nature really shows us who’s boss. We strut around the planet, utterly convinced that we’re top dog. We bulldoze rainforests, we harvest crops, we raise animals for our agriculture, we lay down roads and we build vast jungles of concrete, glass and steel. It’s almost enough to give us an illusion of control. Enough to lull us into a false sense of security. And then the weather takes a turn for the worst and our entire world is plunged into chaotic disarray.


When Storm Emma hit the UK last week it seemed like everyone was feeling the effects, whether they were unable to get to work or school because of a decimated transportation sector, or because their job was rendered extremely difficult or next to impossible by the cold weather, or because they realised just how ill prepared their homes were for the sudden and ruthless cold snap.  It seems like we Brits are forever discussing (a euphemism for complaining about) the weather, and yet we never seem completely prepared for it, either at a personal or a ministerial level. Whether it’s inadequate flooding defenses or road salting the government have demonstrated that even with prior warning that they are ill equipped to prevent the life threatening fury of the Arctic storm.

While most of us have been personally unaffected (at least in any meaningful way) by this disaster we should not just send our thoughts and prayers to those who have been injured, declared missing or killed by the storm. We should solemnly consider those who’ve been more profoundly affected than ourselves, but we should also think about how adequately we prepare ourselves for extreme weather and re-evaluate the lifestyle choices that might see our lives negatively affected by the cold. After all, we’re not out of the woods yet and while the cold appears to have abated, we’ve still a while to go before spring sets in completely.

Here are some things that many of us have been led to reconsider in light of the recent extreme weather...

Our homes

I imagine most of us have given our home’s resilience to the cold some serious thought, but I’m are we’ve also considered how unfortunate the unforgiving cold must be for those who don’t have the luxury of a home, and must endure life on the streets in such harsh conditions.

If you’re lucky enough to own your own home, you likely didn’t give much thought to its ability to withstand the cold when you bought it. While this is perfectly understandable, it’s also led many of us to see out the past few days huddled up beneath a duvet, leaning into a fast-cooling mug of hot chocolate. There are many aspects of our home that we don’t realise are inadequate until it’s too late, and a lot of us have experienced the cold far more than we expected to within the cosy confines of our own homes. Since we never know when the next Storm Emma will strike, it’s worth giving some serious consideration to the little things around the home.

The chances are that your home has UPVC energy efficient windows and doors in line with regulations from the British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC) which are compulsory in modern construction. This does not, however, mean that you’re getting the best possible protection from the cold. BFRC ratings go from A++ to E, and while the bare minimum quality of windows and doors is a C rating, there’s a big difference between an A++ and a C rated window. These ratings are based on how well a window or door is able to retain heat, prevent cold from seeping into the home and absorb solar heat energy. Whatever your style you can change your homes look and stay warmer (and save a fortune on heating bills) by upgrading. You can design UPVC doors online to get an accurate idea of what your doors (or windows) will look like before you commit to buy. If you’ve noticed a chill coming from your windows an upgrade may be long overdue.

On the other hand if you’ve felt that your radiators have been anemic in defending against the cold there may be some issues with your radiators or your boiler itself. Try bleeding your radiators and putting some radiator additive in there. This will increase the surface tension of the fluid in your radiator, allowing it to stay hotter for longer. If your radiators still don’t feel so hot there may be an issue with your boiler itself. If the pilot light is burning yellow instead of blue or you notice strange smells or noises coming from it, the boiler may have to go.

Our skincare

Is anyone else’s face still stinging from venturing out in the furious wind, ice and sleet? If the underside of your nose looks like a flapjack and your skin has taken on a flaky and blotchy tone you may need to reconsider how well you prepare your skin for the cold. While cold weather can actually be beneficial to the skin (it clears your pores, tightens your cuticles and keeps your blood vessels responsive) it can also impede the flow of moisture and nutrients to your skin, making it appear dry, dull and lifeless. Be sure to stay hydrated and moisturise regularly. Remember that on cold clear days your skin is every bit as vulnerable to UV rays as in warm weather so be sure to use a moisturiser with an SPF factor.


Our clothing choices

We all have a wardrobe full of outdoor coats but it’s at times like these when we realise just how inadequate most of them are to shield us from the ravages of cold weather. We tend to apply the same criteria to our winter coats as we do to virtually everything else… How good does it look? If you spent the past few days wrapped up like an eskimo yet still felt the chill through your clothes, you probably need to re-prioritize what you look for in a winter coat. Avoid cheap synthetic fabrics like acrylic and polyester as these will not give you adequate protection or let your skin breathe increasing your chances of unpleasant BO. Wool is the obvious choice but for the vegans amongst you, cotton, linen and hemp are equally good choices. Be sure to buy on the large side so that you can layer your clothes underneath.