31 October 2018

Tips For Preparing Your Garden For Winter


Whether you have a large garden or a small one, there are still things that you need to do to prepare for when winter is on its way.

You do not have to be an expert gardener to make your garden ready for the cold and make sure that it is in the best condition possible for the spring the following year.  But it isn't just about your garden, you need to take care of your equipment too.

Do a Pre Spring Clean

After months of mowing your lawn with grass getting clogged up every time, don't just store your lawn mower in the corner of the garage for months on end.  Give it a good clean, clean out the grass and soil and if you have an older mower, maybe get a service done so that it is in perfect working order when you come to use it again.

Clean up your shears, forks and spades.  Make sure that everything is dried properly and oil the metals parts so that you are not greeted with rust in spring.

Use the Leafs Pro Actively

Where we live we are surrounded by trees, not only close around the property but also with large trees across the road when seem to shed their leaves and deposit them all over our garden, paths and patio.

Cleaning them up is such a chore (especially when they aren't even your trees!!) and then there is the question of where to put them.  Your gardening bin can be filled within a couple of days.  But there is an answer.

After doing some reading last year, I found out that leaf mould is a great way to give structure and organic matter to your soil which will in turn help your plants to grow again in the spring.  All you need to do is find a corner and create an open bin using mesh and a few wood posts.  Shred down the leaves a little, put in your bin, pour water over them and then use leave them.

Once the leaves get mulchy (technical term!) and crumbly, you can then cover your soil and borders.  This is a long time process that can take a couple of years to complete but it gives you somewhere to put your leaves and will benefit your garden in the long run.


Cold Protection

Protecting the plants outside that are in pots is easy.  Simply wrap the pots in sacking and tie up the leaves.

Check out the wooden elements of your garden such as gates, fence posts etc and see if anything needs repair or replacing before the snow, ice and gales hit.  Wooden can degrade quickly if not properly protected and you don't want to have to start fixing things like garden gates and doors in the depths of winter.

Cut back any trees with overhanging branches to enable them to properly grow again in the warmer months and whatever you do, stay off your lawn once the weather turns wet and icy.  The footprints and mess that you mess will still be there in spring and will a mess.  Trust me.


Hire a Gardener

If you are not green fingered or are not sure how to properly protect your garden in winter, hire a gardener  They will be able to tell you what plants you can use during the cold, what plants to put away, what plants to leave and also give your garden a good clean up and tidy so that you are in a great place when the lovely days of spring arrive.

We pay someone to come for 2-3 hours just when autumn arrives so that we are in the best time for making any changes and doing what needs to be done.  

If in doubt, hire an expert!!

30 October 2018

The Unspoken Rules of Giving Gifts




As the most festive time of year is inching ever closer, the mind immediately wanders towards gift giving: what to buy your friends and family, and more often than not, the gifts you yourself would like to receive too. There are some unspoken rules when it comes to buying presents for your nearest and dearest, though – and can even cause anxiety – is your present expensive or sentimental enough? Should you have just stuck to joke gifts? Who are you expected to buy a gift for?

Gift Giving Rules to Live By
Why is it that these rules never discussed? It would make life so much easier, don’t you think?

We have all been there – having bought someone a gift card last minute and then receiving an incredible gift that you adore in return. Avoid the awkwardness and create some hard and fast rules to live by, for Christmas, Easter and beyond!
  • If you know someone is buying you a gift, be prepared and make it reciprocal
  • Set a cost limit for gifts – either with the individual or as a blanket across the board so that you don’t get blindsided
  • Be consistent with the people you buy gifts for, year in year out
By making the most of gift-giving etiquette and these rules for buying presents for your loved ones, you can easily avoid any awkwardness and potential conflict. And we can all agree that this will only ever be a good thing!

Finding a Suitable Gift
Knowing how to find the right gift is something that many people struggle with, but it doesn’t have to be. You just need to know where to start.

Firstly, do some research. Have a look through their social media – what have they been talking about, or is there something they are excited about but haven’t bought already. Instagram and Pinterest – and even Amazon wish lists –are a great starting point.


Make a list of all the things you know and love about your loved ones and use this to help when looking for inspiration. It doesn’t even have to be a gift, organising something you can do together is also a great way of spending some quality time together.

Finally, make it personal – while buying something the person wants or needs is a great start, be sure to add a personal touch. Does your loved one love cheese boards? Put together some of your favourite cheeses and crackers for example.

It’s cliché for a reason, but being prepared in this way can really make gift giving an easy task, and you will go down in history as someone who gives the most thoughtful and generous gifts – and that’s never going to be a bad thing!

Alternative Ideas
These days, knowing what to buy as a gift in itself can be difficult. You always run the risk that you end up buying something they already own or buying something they simply won’t ever use. A great alternative to getting around this is to opt for something less physical; perhaps a donation to a charity or sponsoring an animal, a gift with real value to the recipient. These kinds of gift are so easy to organise and really demonstrate how well you know your friend or family member, and always go down well.

With just a little bit of planning and forethought you can be the gift giving queen or king that you were always destined to be. Follow the rules and you can’t go wrong. It is always worth remembering, though: Christmas is but one day of the year. Don’t get yourself into debt for this one day, your family and friends really will understand if you can’t afford it this year, and more importantly, they will still love you on Boxing Day!

25 October 2018

Top Tips When Moving Home

When I walk my dog at the weekend my steps always seem to take us past my childhood home.  I lived there from birth to the age of 16 and I have many wonderful memories of living there.  

The garden where I spent many an hour on the swing.  The sitting room where we all used to vie for our favourite seat on the couch (I never seemed to win).   The built in wardrobe and shelves in my bedroom that my dad built for me.  The cherry blossom tree from next door that used to tap on my window on stormy days and that I used to spend hours sitting on the large window ledge staring at (think gloomy teenage years!).


I was utterly distraught when we moved from that house and despite moving since, it is and will always be, my favourite house in the world.

Each time you move house you learn something different about how to do it better.  Can arranging a house move be anything less than stressful?  Well yes, it can, but it takes planning and forethought.

Declutter

When you decide that it is time to move house, the first thing that you should do, before you start looking for a new home, is declutter.  Be ruthless and go through everything.  From clothes that you haven't worn for the past ten years to the five whisks in your kitchen that you have accumulated (yes even that one you've had since 1994 that is somehow sentimental but belongs in a museum).

The longer you live in a house, the more that you will accumulate.  

This will not only help with the packing process but when it comes to the time when you sell your house, a decluttered, tidy home will sell faster and hopefully, for a better price when the buyer can see what they are actually buying.

Save the Memories


This isn't a tip for moving home, it is preserving memories.  Be ruthless in your declutter, but save your photographs.  All of them.  The silly ones, the old ones, the ones with your family where you hate the way that you look.

5, 10, 25 years down the line, you will miss them.  Put them in a box for attic storage in the new house.  Your future you, will thank you.

Removals

Order your removal company ahead of time.  Get as many removal quotes as you can and get recommendations.  Everyone you know will have moved home at some point and everyone has a different experience.  You want a good price with a recommended firm that won't break your valuables and won't take all day with the removal.


Notify Everyone

Sounds obvious doesn't it?  Which it is, albeit very, very time consuming.  But we live in 2018 now, not 1960.  Embrace the power of the internet and use a website like I Am Moving where you can put your details in and notify all the companies you use.  Utilities, credit cards, internet shopping providers like Amazon, subscriptions and insurance.

Create a Fact File & Ask For The Same

Pay it forward by creating a fact file for the buyers of your home.  Things like reliable trades people, who your utilities are with and when you last changed them, what make your boiler is, the best local takeaway, when the rubbish is collected; where the best place is to walk your dog nearby and most importantly, which is the best local pub.

Have a conversation with the people you are buying your new home from.  Ask for the same and mention you are doing this for your new buyers.  Maybe even offer a cash incentive.  In all the costs of moving, what is another £50 to gain this sort of information at your fingertips when you first move in? (Particularly the best local takeaway when you are surrounded by boxes and losing the will to live and cook).

Create a Survival Box

That first night that you are in your new home you are going to be exhausted, bewildered, tired and hungry.  Get a big plastic box that you can transport on your lap to the new house.  Put in tea, coffee, sugar, a kettle, milk, toilet rolls, a DVD (if you manage to set up your TV system), scissors, warm socks.  Yes I said socks.  Working out the heating system on the first night, if the owners didn't leave you a fact file, may be confusing and you will be cold.  Socks.  Trust me.

Lastly

The obvious things.  Don't over pack your boxes and LABEL.  Label everything.  Try and get a good night's sleep the night before.  If you are working full time, hire a company to pack for you.  Again, someone reputable and recommended.  Have a glass of wine to calm the nerves of moving (the night before, not on the day!).  Breath.  Just breath.  You are organised.  You will be fine.



*Collaborative piece

24 October 2018

Why I No Longer Identify As a Feminist


Before those who know me and are reading this blog fall over in shock and spit out their coffee; let me explain why.

My principles and beliefs have not suddenly changed overnight.  I have not turned into an anti-feminist or a honey badger.  I am not rejecting what feminism has done for women over the past century.

What I am doing, is removing my label. 

Over the years since I began to identify as a feminist and speak about feminism online, I have been given many labels.  Too much or too little of a feminist, a man hater, a snowflake, an SJW, a misandrist.  Too opinionated or too little.  Too outspoken or too quiet.  While I have never been a “man hater” or a misandrist, at times I can be any of the rest of them. 

Sometimes being a feminist makes me feel like I am shut in a box with no room to manoeuvre.  A box that is being whittled away and becoming smaller and smaller.  Where you are pinned down to one opinion, one stance that must remain immovable. 

It isn’t just society in general and the whole MGTOW/MRA/incel/Redpill crowd that make me feel this way.  Sometimes it is also other feminists.  You say the wrong thing and suddenly you are a bad feminist. 

For example (and I am not going to share my thoughts on the GRA either way), the way that feminists on both sides of that debate have attacked, threatened, no-platformed and doxed each other is deplorable.  Progress comes from discussion, debate and reason.  Not attacks.  Not attempts to silence others; no matter what your view.

For me, being a feminist has always been about creating choice for women and letting voices be heard.  Not shutting them down.  My “brand” of feminism has always wanted women to be able to be, exactly who and what they want to be.



I was told by someone the other day that because I was a feminist, they thought all I cared about was manspreading, air conditioning in the workplace and demonising men.  That was the box that they placed me in when they heard the word feminist.

STOP TELLING ME WHAT I BLOODY WELL THINK! (I don’t by the way give a rat’s ass about manspreading.  I don’t care about air conditioning.  Men and women’s bodies work on a different temperature.  That isn’t going to change.  I also don’t demonise men, period).

I should not be afraid to step outside of my feminism box and say what I think on a subject for fear of reprisal and repercussions from MGTOWs, MRAs etc and yes, even other feminists because as a “feminist” I must think a certain way. 

I was having a conversation online yesterday and a user popped up, very clearly a man pretending to be a woman, trying to derail the conversation into criticising feminists.  The reason I know it was a man was because he referred to himself as a female and called tampons “beauty products”.  You ain’t a woman mate.

I sat there and thought to myself “What I am doing”.   Why am I putting myself into situations and conversations where it just becomes about point scoring and arguing?  I cannot count the amount of times I have been having an interesting discussion with someone/a group online about a particular issue only to have to derail and talk about what feminism is, what feminists want/why we don’t actually want to kill men. 

So I am removing the label of feminist from how I would describe myself.  I am a woman.  An individual.  I have many, varying opinions.  I cannot be put under an umbrella or into a box.

I do not need to identify as a feminist in order to care about others.  Support causes and campaigns.  Talk about equal rights and opportunities for all.  I can, and do, believe that men and women are different and have ying and yang strengths which compliments the other.   That is something I wouldn't have shared before.

That itself I think is a problem with the movement.  Being afraid to air what you think on a subject.  if you are in the public eye, an academic, someone who tours universities sharing their thoughts for fear of no-platforming 

We live in a very complex society where our voices and thoughts are being silenced on a greater scale all the time.  I think it is time that we all got out from our individual boxes and not only spoke out but also listened before shouting down another's ideas or opinions.  On whatever the subject.

So this is me, an ex-feminist, signing off.  Still with the same core ideals and beliefs, just without the label.

23 October 2018

What to expect from a Marella Cruise holiday


Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or an experienced veteran, a holiday with a new cruise line or different ship can often lead to feelings of trepidation. So, to help put your mind at rest, here’s exactly what you can expect from a Marella cruise holiday.
You may know Marella Cruises under its original name – Thomson Cruises. A lot has changed since then, and you’ll love the updates and innovations. You can fly from 21 airports; not just Heathrow and Gatwick. And everything is all-inclusive, including your gratuities and service charges.
What to expect during the evenings
There’s one thing you can guarantee on a Marella cruise: you’ll never get bored. From West End productions to comedy nights, there’s a full roster of evening revelry. Marella Cruises was named Best for Entertainment at the 2018 Wave Awards, and when you take a look at the impressive entertainment line-up available on-board, it's easy to see why.
The Broadway Show Lounge puts on a great selection of West-End-style shows, some featuring special UK guests. Your crew will often star in these shows – it’s great see them show off their skills on stage! If you prefer dry one-liners to all-singing, all-dancing productions, then you’ll love the Comedy Store, where acts like Michael McIntyre and Sarah Millican have performed in the past.
There’s plenty for you to get involved in, too. On your first night at sea, you can expect a sail-away party: you can sip cocktails, wear your best outfits and get to know the other passengers. Likewise, you can also look forward to the weekly Captain’s Gala Reception and Dinner.
What to expect to find on-board
Although each ship differs slightly, there are a number of activities and facilities you can expect from them all. There’s a few pools, big enough to swim laps in, as well as Ocean’s Spa and Health Club, where you can indulge in spa treatments or get your hair and nails done in the beauty salon. The gym has state-of-the-art machines and free weights, and there’s also a sports deck for basketball, volleyball and five-a-side football.
If you fancy something more relaxing, you can sunbathe on the sun loungers around the pool, visit the library, the cinema or the card room. There’s even a casino where you can play blackjack and roulette.
The Discovery and Discovery 2 have even more: climbing walls, mini golf, indoor pools and even more theatres and lounges.

What to expect to eat and drink
With a host of restaurants to choose from, you won’t need to worry about a lack of choice! The menus change every day, too, so you’ll have plenty of delicious dishes to try. In addition to the main dining rooms are selection of a la carte menus: a buffet, a grill serving steak and seafood, a restaurant specialising in international cuisine, and a top-class eatery with a seven-course menu. The a la carte restaurants have a separate cover charge, but are brilliant for a special occasion. One restaurant on-board will be formal, too, so feel free to dress to impress.
What to expect for families
Marella Cruises are perfect for families: there’s such a huge range of activities and facilities just for children. Three- to 11-year-olds can enjoy the Kids’ Club and spend their days doing arts and crafts, taking part in talent shows and going on treasure hunts. It’s completely free and gives parents some time to themselves. Teenagers can hang out in the games arcade, disco or internet room, as well as enjoying the pools and sports facilities. There’s also a stage school for children aged nine to 16. They can learn and practice their singing, dancing and acting then perform in a show at the end.
Marella Cruises can tailor shore excursions for families – from visiting waterparks to swimming with dolphins, and on-board, you won’t pay adult prices or cabin supplements for children.
What to expect from dress code

Marella Cruises ensure you can wear whatever like and feel comfortable. During the day, there’s no dress code – but remember to pack smart. Some religious sites require knees and shoulders to be covered, so pack plenty of options.
Smart casual is required for the evenings: full-length trousers and shirts for men, while women should opt for separates or dresses. Once a week is a formal night – usually the Captain’s cocktail party, so, bring along your most glamorous cocktail dresses and smart tuxedos (or suit and tie!).
What else to expect
When you go on a Marella cruise, expect all the home comforts you need to make your stay a pleasant one. There’s a well-equipped medical centre and English-speaking doctor on-board. You’ll also find a self-service laundry room on most ships as well as an internet room, designated WiFi zones and satellite phones.
Rooms have TVs to keep you entertained, plus handy extras such as hairdryers and tea and coffee-making facilities. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, you can even arrange to have flowers, Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to your room!
Marella Cruises have everything you need for a great trip – from easy flights and fab facilities, to exciting excursions and comfy rooms. Whether it's your first time on a cruise or one of many, you can expect to have a lot of fun, see brilliant destinations and enjoy the journey on innovative, luxurious ships.



*Collaborative piece

12 October 2018

Plus Size Styling

Are you looking to update your wardrobe but are not sure what is best to buy that will best suit your shape and style? There are some wardrobe staples that you need to make sure that you have for the upcoming season and below we are taking you through our favourite style tips for plus size women. 

Get a Vintage Kaftan 
If you live in a warmer climate or love a good holiday abroad, then something that you will definitely need to invest in is a beautiful kaftan. 

You can easily amass a selection of these and vintage ones are great as they will usually be unique and at a great price point. While you may be thinking that you don’t want something flowy that doesn’t show your shape, this is not the case with a kaftan and they can look beautiful and regal on every plus size woman. 

Have a Go to Outfit 
No matter what size you are, everyone needs a go to outfit that is comfortable and suitable for the environment in which they live in. If you live in a warmer climate, this may be a pair of slides teamed with leggings and a crop tops, however, if you live in a colder climate, skinny jeans, a comfy jumper and a great pair of ankle boots. 

You can find a wide selection of boots from DuneLondon.com to tuck into your jeans.This will allow you to be comfortable when you are running errands, but still looking great. 

Stay Inspired by Everyone 
A common mistake that many plus-sized women tend to make is that they think they can only look to plus-sized models for inspiration on what to wear. However, this is simply not the case and you can look for inspiration from a wide variety of body types and then adapt what they are wearing to you. There is no need to restrict yourself to simply looking at one type of body image as you can find passion and inspiration everywhere that will help you to choose clothes that look great on you. 

Try on Lots of Different Sizes 
No matter what size you are, most people will tend to find that there are inconsistencies across different brands sizing. While you may be a size 20 in one store, you may be a 16 in another and this is why it is always a good idea to try on lots of sizes when trying on clothes instore. You may be surprised at how vast your sizing can vary between different shops. 

Go for the Crop Top 
If you are a plus size woman, then you may be thinking that crop tops are completely out of the question, however, this is really not the case! Crop tops can look amazing on curvy girls and you can show off just the right amount with a cool crop top and a pair of high waisted jeans or a high waisted skirt. 

Invest in Tailoring 
Tailoring does not have to be expensive, but it can make a massive difference in an outfit and transform it from being frumpy into being classic, chic and put together. Dresses are a great option to tailor as you can transform an oversized dress into the perfect bodycon dress. 

Always remember that life is too short to be strict on following rules. You should always wear what you want and not worry about what other people think. 


*Collaborative piece


11 October 2018

How To Brighten Up Your Home For The Winter


As the winter approaches, the nights are getting a lot darker and so are our homes. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to brighten up your home for the winter and to help you, we have put together some ideas. Keep reading if you’d like to feel more comfortable in your brighter home this winter.

Add Some Colour
One of the easiest ways to brighten up your home for the winter is to add some pops of colour. If you want to make some big changes, you could consider adding some brighter colours to your walls using paint or wallpaper. If you’d like to make some more temporary adjustments, you could add some coloured pieces around your home. Think about all of the ways that you could add colour and don’t be afraid to buy some standout pieces.

Change Your Lighting
In the summer, you tend to use fewer lights during the day but as the winter approaches, your lighting becomes key to making your home bright. This is why you should think about updating your current lighting set up, buy some new fixtures and change your bulbs. Take a look at great lighting sites like pagazzi.com if you want to find some amazing overhead lighting. If you’d rather not change the overhead lighting but still want to make a difference, you could buy some lamps that you can place around your home. Lighting is key so make sure not to ignore this if you are trying to brighten up your home.

Clean Up
Another great way to brighten up your home in preparation for the winter is to give it a good deep clean. You’ll find that your windows will be able to let in more light if they are sparkling clean and your surfaces will be able to reflect the light if they have been cleaned thoroughly. It is always a good idea to do a deep clean before the winter in preparation for the bad weather and the effect that it is going to have on your home. Think carefully about your deep clean and see how you can use it to brighten up your home.

Add Some Plants
If you really want to brighten up your home, you should think about adding some new houseplants. Make sure to find out which plants live for the longest inside your home in the winter. When you add these plants, they’ll not only brighten up the rooms and make them look great, but they’ll also help to clean the air out. Try some plants in your home and you will love the effect that they have.

Hang Some Mirrors
Our final tip for those who want to brighten up their home a little for the winter is to hang some mirrors. Mirrors are great because they can actually reflect light and so they will open up the space and brighten up the entire room. Think carefully about where you place your mirrors for the maximum effect and don’t be afraid to get a really big one for your living room or hallway.

Summary
There are plenty of different ways that you can brighten up your home for the winter including hanging mirrors and changing the lighting fixtures. Make sure to take all of our advice on board and don’t be afraid to experiment a little with the light. If you try out some of these ideas, you should soon be living in a bright, colourful home just in time for the winter.

Collaborative piece

9 October 2018

Here Come The Girls

At 6.45pm on Sunday, a little smile appeared on my face.  We were about to see the emergence of the new Doctor Who.  For the first time in that leading role; a woman.

There has been much talk about the new Doctor.  A woman did not have, to some angry voices, any place playing Doctor Who.  An alien with two hearts who could regenerate into absolutely any being.  Except, apparently a woman, which was a step too far for some.  

The usual default setting of a white man in a leading role was being challenged.

I started watching Doctor Who when Christopher Eccleston came into the role.  Since then we have had David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi.  All totally different Doctors, all with their own spin, coming from different genres and styles of acting.  Who could have thought for example the shouting, swearing Malcolm Tucker would one day play Doctor Who?

So I watched, with trepidation.  Trepidation.  That is a strange word to use about watching a new actor take over an iconic role.  When I watched the change between David Tennant whom I adored as the Doctor, to Matt Smith; I was uneasy and unsure as to whether he would play the part well.  He was a quirky Doctor, unlike the charm and charisma with the slight dark tinge of David Tennant.



But with Jodie, it was different.  Because she was being, yes in 2018, judged first and foremost as being a woman.  Not an actor who had a fabulous backlog of previous characters to show her skills.  Not her personality and how she would play the role.

But because I knew that should that first episode not have worked, had her spin on the Doctor or the way she played it been any less than spot on and well formed; she would have been blamed not for her character portrayal or her take on the Doctor, but because it would somehow prove in the minds of the misogynists on the internet, that a woman had no business playing Doctor Who.  

(I did not think, by the way, that the story was a great first starter to the series and would have liked a little more oomph with more excitement, but that did not take away from Jodie's fabulous performance).

With Jodie, little girls everywhere have a lead character role that is not defined by the way that she looks, how she dresses or how much she needs to rely on a man to succeed.  Any of us can imagine ourselves as Jodie and I can imagine many a little girl (and sod it, yes me too), visualizing herself now in the role.

When I was a little girl, I remember watching the boys in the playground playing as soldiers and spies (no doubt channeling James Bond).  They had a plethora of film stars and characters to aspire to and want to be.

In my formative years I remember watching Scooby Doo for example.  You had the option of wanting to be the ditsy atypical stereotype airhead of Daphne, or the geeky, dowdy Velma.   The message back then was clear.  You could be beautiful or clever; you couldn't be both.



We had Wonder Woman who could have been an amazing role model for girls, yet her character was defined by the outfit that she wore.  Even Princess Leia who was an amazing role model for girls, is remembered most for the gold bikini she wore when captured by Jabba the Hut.

We had She-Ra who was supposed to appeal to girls as He-Man did for boys, yet she was styled and drawn with barbie style curves, large breasts, short backless dress and riding a unicorn; despite also having super human strength which did not correlate with how she was styled.  Not practical for one!  The idea itself was great, but the execution in her styling, as visualized by the men drawing her, were not.

Boys did in He-Man have a similar problem in the stereotypical muscle bound man, but they had at least other role models to look towards.  The shy, geeky types had Spiderman and any boy could emulate Bond who although an international agent for MI6, was shaped like a regular guy; granted always in a great suit.

Don't even get me started on Barbie.

We did of course have the occasional amazing female lead.  Ellen Riply, Sarah Connor, Clarice Starling.  All well thought out, complex characters who functioned as a single entity without needing direction through the plot by a man.  They didn't need or require sexy clothing, obligatory large breasts (see Lara Croft) and were not there simply to appeal to men.  They demanded respect and they got it.

I noted the recent Lara Croft film reboot.  The main commentary I saw was complaining that her breasts were too small to play Lara.  What the actual fuck?  Is that STILL how women are mainly defined?

In the last few years, female lead characters have been on the uptake.  Little girls can aspire to be Hermoine Granger, Katniss Everdeen, Letty Ortiz, Hit Girl, Merida from Brave (until Disney gave her, and subsequently retracted, her makeover into an "acceptable" looking woman).


I don't want reboots or woman taking over characters that used to be men.  I don't want a female James (Jane?) Bond.  Women deserve their own storylines, their own well defined characters.  We are not a genre, we are half the population of the Earth.

In the days of Instagram and filters and the endless need to be "perfect", female so called icons like the Kardashians who, in the words of Jameela Jamil, are selling self consciousness with their waist trainers and diet lollypops; while one in four 14 year old girls are cutting themselves; we need iconic, strong female leading characters more than ever.

I cannot end this without saying, as I think my teenager self would have shouted out in class had we had The Hunger Games in my teenage years;

I volunteer as tribute!!!!! 

8 October 2018

Budget Tricks To Add Style To Your Home

Renovating your home can be an expensive business.  Adding touches of glamour or putting your own stamp on your home can prove costly; but there are ways to bring your personality to your home without it having to cost the earth.



 First Impressions

They say that first impressions count and in your home, that first impression is your hallway and stair case.  

Family photographs on the wall gives a warm to the home and a glimpse into who you are.  In terms of decoration, flowers at your doorway and a pop of colour with a stair runner adds interest and a touch of elegance.

Think of your entrance way and staircase as another room and decorate accordingly.  Simple touches make the world of difference.

Fake It Till You Make It



So you live in a town or a city but you dream of country living?  Large fireplaces, stone walls, exposed brick; all the features that come as standard in the country but not necessarily in a standard two up two down or city apartment.

If you want to bring some country chic to your home, why not try brick slips?  They can be used anywhere from your kitchen and bathroom to your living area and even outside.  They are inexpensive and so effective to create the look you are going for.  You can find some great examples at https://ukfeaturewalls.com/collections/brick-slips


Feature Walls

If you buy a new build these days you are often faced with white waters, laminate flooring and somewhat of a cold looking interior, with no personality.  

The changes that you make to this kind of interior don't need to be major.  A brightly coloured or patterned couch, a plethora of interesting cushions, vibrant lighting design or perhaps a wall mural.

If you a large expansive wall, a wall mural can be a perfect choice and add a really interesting element to the home.  The bonus being that as they are relatively inexpensive, you can take them down easily and change at your leisure.

How do you change up your home?

Buying a New Car? What Factors Influence the Cost and How to Keep the Cost Down




A Modern Convenience

The vast majority of American households have at least one car. Cars provide a modern convenience to people, who rely on their vehicles for a variety of purposes - the daily commute, the school run, visiting family and friends, shopping; American people love their cars.

But sooner or later the time will come when you want - or need - to buy a new vehicle. However, you should take the time to consider what factors influence the cost of buying a new car in order to get more bang for your buck.

Insurance Premiums

These factors all have a bearing on your vehicle insurance premium- one of the most variable costs when purchasing a car.

   The Age of the Driver - Younger drivers pay much more to insure their vehicle - particularly if they are buying a new car. This is often a hidden cost for young people who haven’t considered all the different options.
   License Points - Points on your license can have a huge effect on the price of your premium - especially if you are a younger driver.
   Annual Mileage - The higher your annual mileage, the higher the price of your insurance!
   Geography - The local geography in which your car is registered influences the cost of your car insurance. Factors such as the prevalence of crime in the local area are taken into consideration.
   Profession - Your car insurance premium may be greater if your work requires regular travel.
   Marital Status - Strange as it may seem, your marital status can have a bearing on the price of your insurance.

Time of Year

In addition to the cost of insurance, the cost of maintenance on your old car should be considered when choosing when to buy your new car. More inclement seasonal weather can lead to breakdowns and high repair costs. As fall goes into winter, the onset of bad weather can put stress on an older vehicle. The number of breakdowns goes through the roof in the colder months of the year. Therefore, making an investment in a new car before the winter months can actually save you money in the long run.



There are many factors which affect the overall cost of buying a new car. Your insurance premium often represents one of the most significant and variable of them all. However, the cost to insure a brand new vehicle may be disproportionate to your expectations.

Therefore, why not replace your old car with a quality used car? This can represent a good and cost-effective investment. Used cars are easily available online from trustworthy suppliers such as AA Cars, and they often give you much more bang for your buck.

You may not be able to change your age or life circumstances to reduce the overall cost of buying a car, but looking for a quality used car may help you to get great new wheels for less!

What are your next wheels going to be?

5 October 2018

6 Steps to Build a Healthy Family


Remaining healthy in today’s world is not as easy as it was in the past, because there are temptations everywhere you look. Almost every food item is loaded with sweeteners, sugars, and fats. Moreover, you will come across many distractions that make it hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

As a parent, you need to lead by example if you want your kids to be healthy. Staying healthy as a family is not easy but it can be fun if you try it together. Here are some steps to build a healthy family:
Stay Active Together
Instead of spending your time as a family indoors watching television, you should consider spending that time outdoors to stay active. You can engage in lots of activities and sports as a family. For instance, if your kids have always wanted to visit the Houston Zoo, you can Charter Flights to Houston Texas. You can also plan a fun family weekend and learn new hobbies such as kayaking. Such activities will have a positive impact on your family and encourage everyone to remain active.
Educate Your Family
The best way to keep your family healthy in this age of confusing news is to keep them educated. You need to be proactive when it comes to learning more about the foods you eat and how they affect your health. You need to avoid following the food pyramid, as it might not be the best way to keep your loved ones healthy.

The more you know about exercise and nutrition, the more prepared you will be as a family to make the right choices. For instance, once you learn about healthy sweets for your kids, you can schedule for candy delivery once a month.
Eat Better


As a family, you can make the choice to eat better every single day. Your kids will look up to you for decisions about their diet. This means that you should start preparing nutritious meals for your family to keep them healthy. However, you should keep in mind that eating right does not necessarily mean that you have to eat boring.

You can spruce up your veggie servings by making them appealing for everyone; otherwise, your children will not eat them.
Slow Down Meal Time
Mealtime is one of the most important times that a family spends together. Not only should you focus on preparing a healthy meal for your family, but you should also take the time to wind down with everyone. When your family members rush through mealtime, they are more likely to chew their food incorrectly and overeat.

If you want to practice healthy mealtimes you should encourage your family to eat slowly. You can do so by telling stories at the dinner table to make mealtime fun for the kids. Moreover, you should restrict the use of electronics such as phones and video games because children rush through meals to go back to their rooms and play with their gadgets.
Practice Moderation
Kids who are not allowed to eat snacks and sweets do not end up learning about moderation. From a young age, you need to teach your kids to eat sweets in moderation if you do not want them to eat them behind your back. You can do this by planning a monthly family outing where you take your kids to eat ice cream and special candy.

Just because you want to live a healthy lifestyle does not mean that you cannot enjoy candy occasionally.
Be Positive
A healthy family is a happy family and parents are responsible for teaching their kids how to eat healthy. Children who learn how to eat healthy at a young age are more likely to carry the behaviors into adulthood and live long, fruitful lives. For this reason, you need to be positive when teaching your family how to live a healthier lifestyle if you want the new habits to stick.

The above tips will come in handy if you want to build a healthy lifestyle. Through purposeful commitment and investment, you and your family will be able to enjoy great relationships and lead healthy lives. Good health will allow your family to thrive in all areas.


4 October 2018

Winter Is Coming


Tell me, are you a Summer person?  Someone who craves the sunshine, loves the fact that you can walk around without the baggage of a coat?  Someone who looks at the snow and ice with dread and has a hatred for all things cold?

Alternatively, are you a Winter person?  A lover of warm drinks and cozy clothing.  Someone who loves a good snow ball fight and generally loves the beauty that Winter brings to the landscape.

Me, I'm a definate Summer person, but am trying, slowly to learn to love Winter.  So here are a few things that I thought about that I love about Winter that might make you love it too.

A Good Cuddle

Summer is wonderful, but how many nights have you spent far too hot during the evenings, stripping off layer after layer of clothing, drowning yourself in ice filled drinks and throwing off the bed covers at night?  How many times have you given up on the idea of a cuddle with your partner because you are just too damn hot?

Winter is made for cuddles on the sofa, a hot chocolate and a good film.  My fella is like a walking hot water bottle and snuggling up in bed on a cold night is something that brings us together even more.  

Stepping Into a Warm House


When you have spent a freezing day in the office followed by a cold and miserable commute home, is there really anything better than walking into a warm, inviting house?

It is this time of year that I make sure that our central heating systems are working as they should to ensure a warm and inviting house.  There is nothing worse that getting home on a cold day only to find out that your radiators are not working and you walk into freezing cold house.



My top tip for ensuring that your house heats up faster and retains more heat is to cover a thin sheet of card with tinfoil and placing it behind your radiator.  This reflects the heat back into your room and helps to heat everything that much and more importantly, retains the heat (saving you a bit of money too!)


Winter Clothing & Accessories


As much as I love, and I do adore, a Summer dress, there is just something about wrapping yourself up in many layers like a cocoon that makes you feel wonderful, calm and serene.  

Warm toasty socks in bed, a sumptuous scarf around your neck to keep out the cold, fur trimmed gorgeous coats and a good, old fashioned hot toddy on a particularly cold night are all things that I love about Winter.


The Food

At a risk of sounding like what they call a "typical woman" (what about any woman is typical I have to ask?), I do love a gorgeous roasted hazelnut latte in the Winter months.

Also, who can resist the lovely beef stew, simmering throughout the day in the slow cooker and ready to perfection when you arrive home?  Cauliflower cheese, apple crumble, chicken and mushroom pie or the good old English breakfast.  My mouth is watering just typing about them.

So, is Winter really that bad?  The icy streets can be hard to handle but there is so much about Winter to love, if you only care to look.