Category Archives: Blogs

Top Tips for Family Road Trips 

It’s just you, the car, your family and the open road – what could possibly go wrong? Very possibly, quite a lot, here are some top tips for successful family road trips.

Everyone has been there at some point. The long-awaited family holiday is finally here, the kids are more than just a little bit excited, dad is working out the best route (he doesn’t need to ask for directions, of course) and mum is playing the role of peacekeeper. Fairly standard stuff.

It is part and parcel of any family holiday. To be somewhere, you have first got to get somewhere. Thankfully, here are some tips that we are sure you will find more than helpful as you settle in for the ride.

Top Tips for Family Road Trips 

Consider Your Route

To allow for as smooth a journey as possible, try to map out a route that will have as little delay as possible. The shortest route is not necessarily the quickest, especially if that route involves going out onto busy congested roads that are prone to traffic jams. No one likes sitting in traffic for hours on end, not the driver and especially not the children.

Take into consideration what time you begin your journey, as this can also make a massive difference to your journey time. Obviously, if you are setting off during rush hour you can expect a far more congested road than if you started your journey at night or early in the morning.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of accidents occur during the morning and evening rush hours, however, noon is statistically the most dangerous time to be on the road.

Comfort

To get your family holiday off to the best start possible, it is essential that everyone is as comfortable as possible. This means checking that your vehicle’s interior is up to scratch, the air conditioning is working and any other essentials are included.

It might be worth looking into car hire for your family, especially if you are staying away for a prolonged period of time. If your holiday will involve a lot of travelling, taking the steps to ensure that everyone is as comfortable as possible will take away a lot of stress that can be caused.

Also be sure to factor in comfort breaks into your journey. Most children will not be able to last more than a couple of hours without needing to use the toilet, and it is also not advisable to drive for more than two hours without at least taking a small break.

Entertainment

Have you ever been on a long journey without any form of entertainment? No radio, no music whatsoever, and not even any mobile signal…boring! If you are unsure as to how you would cope, just imagine what it must be like for children. Little ones become bored very easily, and if they are bored they are going to let you know about, which is the last thing you need when driving for long periods.

Bring along some of the kids’ favourite toys, within reason, of course. Ensure that any electrical devices have spare batteries, or the ability to be charged while in the car because, if the power dies, you will hear about it.

It is always best for families to have fun together. While toys and gadgets are great for occupying children, they can easily be lost in their own world during a time which is meant for family bonding. Simple games such as I-spy, storytelling and 20 questions are fun and cost-free activities that everyone in the family can take part in to pass the time.

With these handy tips, you and your family will be guaranteed a pleasant and stress-free start to your holiday.

This is a guest post.

Five tips for heartbreak free school trips

One of the biggest childhood rites of passage is going on school trips and being away from home for the first time. School trips are a great way to encourage independence and for children to explore the world a little bit more. School trips to European cities are very much the norm. I was lucky enough to go on school trips to America and Holland. They both broadened my horizons, gave me a sense of independence and taught me some new things about life and friendships.

Most away from home school trips start when your children reach double digits. Often these are whole class trips away to cities such as Paris or Barcelona, other times they can be skiing holidays or trips to take part in school football tournaments.

Tips for heartbreak free school trips

Some children might also get the chance to go away for a night or two with Beavers, Brownies, Cubs or Scouts. Short Scout camps and the like are excellent for preparing younger children for slightly longer periods away from home with school.

It’s never easy to wave goodbye to your children, even if it’s just for a night or two. I’ve put together a list of things to can do to lessen your heartbreak and their separation anxiety.

Tips for heartbreak free school trips

Let go – trust that the group leader will take care of them and all will be well. They will have your emergency contact details if you are needed. Remember the group leaders will be well qualified and able to manage whatever situations crop up.

Be available – if your child is old enough for them to have their own phone, top up their credit and tell them to call you anytime they want, day or night. A quick chat with their family when they need one will be enough to keep them from getting too homesick.

Tears are normal – try not to cry too much in front of their friends, it’s so not cool. But if there are tears from you or from your child, then that’s normal too. It’s normal to feel anxious or worried, or to miss them terribly.

Leave little notes – whenever I am away from my boys I always leave them notes. They will find them hidden in their shoes, tucked under pillows, written in toothpaste on the mirror. Write little notes of joy and pack them in their bag. Hide them in shoes, tuck them in their toiletries bag. Secretly change the lock screen on their phone to one which will make them smile. It’s the little things not the grand gestures they will appreciate.

Enjoy the peace – enjoy a night or two in a quiet house. Go out as a couple if you can, stay up late and get up at noon. Or if you’re like us, take the opportunity to really tidy and declutter their room without them moaning about it all.

They’re going to leave home sooner or later, giving them little bursts of adventure and independence can help build their confidence and life experience. Saying goodbye, even for a for nights is hard, but it can be very worthwhile for everyone.

Tips for heartbreak free school trips

This is a collaborative post.

Stylish & Practical Flooring Trends for 2017

One of the key things you can do when you’re refurbishing or redecorating your home is invest in new flooring. Often the sensible but uninspiring option it to lay beige carpet everywhere, but going for something a bit bolder can really help to bring warmth and life to your home. We took a look at the key flooring trends for 2017.

Stylish & Practical Flooring Trends for 2017

Stylish & Practical Flooring Trends for 2017

Introduce some six-sided style into your home this season with hexagon flooring. Hexagons are everywhere at the moment. They are the flooring style of choice for contemporary homes and businesses alike. Hexagons make a bold but classic style statement. A hexagon floor would look great in kitchens, bathrooms and hallways. 

Floorboards continue to be a key trend. It’s bye-bye blonde tones, stripped back and stained in darker tones are now the order of the day.  It’s up to you if you prefer broad boards or skinny slats, but don’t feel you have to play it straight. Mix things up with a herringbone design, chevron, or a classic parquet style in contemporary colours.

Stylish & Practical Flooring Trends for 2017

Many people are choosing to rip up their carpets and replace them with vinyl flooring. It’s a practical and stylish option. It is easy to maintain and clean, it’s incredibly hard-wearing, ideal for high traffic areas in your home and can stand up to the rigours of family life.

Vinyl flooring has come on in leaps and bounds since the 1970’s orange and brown lino monstrosities we remember from our childhood. It is warm under foot, with a range finishes to choose from. Whatever your personal style, amtico vinyl flooring will have a design to match. 

Floors don’t need to be 50 shades of brown and beige either. Be bold and inject a splash of colour into your flooring. This is 2017, there’s no need to be pedestrian in your choices. The only limits are your imagination and your budget. There are literally thousands of ideas for bold flooring on Pinterest to inspire you.

Stylish & Practical Flooring Trends for 2017

This is a collaborative post.

Catch the new series of Kazoops on CBeebies

Cbeebies is our kids TV channel of choice and we enjoy sitting down and watch together. We are excited that a new series of our favourites, Kazoops is starting this week (Monday 17th April at 4.20pm).

If you’ve not watched Kazoops before, it’s about a six year old boy called Monty Kazoops. He has a very vivid imagination. This week Monty and his loyal pet pig Jimmy Jones are back with a new series of brand new animated adventures in Kazoops.

Catch the new series of Kazoops on CBeebies
Children see the world in a different way to the adults around them. Monty and Jimmy use their imaginations to find ways to look differently at the world around them. After all, who says the world works the way grown ups think it should? Things can always be different if you just imagine… 

We were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the first episode in the new series of Kazoops and it does not disappoint. In the first episode, Monty is busy dreaming up helpful but rather fanciful ways to get a new piano upstairs. When his family tell him that his ideas are fun but not actually useful, Monty wonders if daydreaming can help solve problems. Do you think it can? I do.

The world of the Kazoops family is fun, fantastical and colourful. There’s never a dull moment with Monty and Jimmy Jones around. Their family, Gran, Mum, Dad and big sister are well matched and excellent foils for imaginative Monty and his piggy friend. There’s lots of fun to be had in this incredibly appealing series.

Packed with bright colours, these well drawn characters make for imaginative talking points for young children. If it’s not dragons flying high in the sky, it’s aliens, lions or medieval knights lighting up Monty’s imagination.

Catch the new series of Kazoops on CBeebies

Each episode asks a question, or throws in a talking point. Why can’t you keep wild animals in the house? Is it really is important to always be the winner? Can still be friends with people if you like different things? Do adults get scared too? These are all excellent starting points for children to start exploring empathy, friendships, or just to discover more about the world around them.

At a little under ten minutes long, each episode of Kazoops is packed with imaginative fun. It completely enthralls my six year old and holds his attention. It really helps to get him talking to me about what he’s seen and what he thinks about it. If you’ve not seen it, give Kazoops watch. Just imagine!

Kazoops is on CBeebies from Monday 17th April 2017 at 4.20pm.

This is a collaborative post.

What makes the ultimate spa day?

I am a great believer in spa days and taking time out to pamper yourself. I’m a busy mum and taking time out occasionally to completely unwind and relax is a massive treat, and one I am prepared to scrimp and save for. 

I’m happy to have a bit of regular home pampering to tide me over until I go on my annual spa weekend. I love a hot bath, a face-pack, a little home pedicure and maybe a hot oil treatment for my hair. They’re a nice little pampering pick me up after a busy week, or before a big night out.

Each year I go away with a couple of close friends for a spa weekend in Yorkshire. It is nothing short of blissful relaxation. When I think of my idea of an ultimate spa day, I think of my last visit there.  A few hours exploring the sauna and steam rooms, sitting in the outdoor hot tub chatting with my friends long into the cold November night; having a luxury pedicure and falling asleep in the relaxation room and waking up to find my amused friends peering over me and chuckling to themselves.

We’ve booked another spa weekend away in July and I can’t wait. Now I know the spa and what to expect I know exactly how I will spend my day. It will begin virtuously with me swimming 20 lengths of the pool. Then I will move on to experience the sauna and steam rooms for a while. I’ll meet my friends for lunch, then off to the relaxation room for a nap. The afternoon will be spent having a facial, another nap and then an hour or so in the hot tub. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

www.ellisons.co.uk, the wholesale hair and beauty specialists have created an eBook about the Ultimate Spa Experience which you can download here.

What’s your idea of the ultimate spa day?

 
What makes the Ultimate Spa Day?

This is a collaborative post.

Making a style statement with your composite front door

First impressions are everything. A smart and stylish front door is a great way for you and your home to make a statement. When we moved to our current home six years ago I wanted a front door with a bit of flair. Having moved from an estate where everyone had virtually identical white uPVC front doors, I was determined to make a more stylish statement about my new home.

Of course, there’s a reason why uPVC doors are so popular. They are considered to be more secure, well-insulated and hard-wearing. These days modern composite doors have been engineered to have all of the positives of a uPVC door, but with a sense of style most white plastic doors lack. Plus they’re available in a range of finishes and styles to suit all tastes.

If you’ve never heard of a composite door before, they have solid timber cores and are fitted with multi-point locking systems. Composite doors are designed to easily fend off even the most determined intruders. Hard-wearing and thermally insulated; a composite front door has the practicality you need in a secure front door, but with an individuality you can enjoy.

Making a style statement with your composite front door

It makes me happy to walk down my path towards my lovely solid bright blue front door; knowing that behind it is the secure oasis of my home. My front door looks pretty unique and it gets a lot of compliments. You certainly can’t miss it. 

People think a front door is just a door, but it can say a lot about the individuals who live in the house behind it. The colour, the style and the door furniture can tell you so much. This article in House Beautiful – what your front door says about you makes for quite fun reading.

Of course, choosing a style and colour for your front door might not just be a case of personal taste. You might be wise to consider feng shui when selecting a new door. Which direction does your house face? This article could help you to select the most auspicious colour for your new composite front door, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Whatever you decide in terms of colour, style, finish and furniture for your front door; safety and security come first. Choosing a modern composite front door over a generic uPVC one will help your home stand out from the crowd.

This is a collaborative post.

How do you say I Love You to your loved ones?

Shout “bah humbug” at me if you want, but I often feel that being given a bunch of flowers on an occasion such as Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day is a bit of a waste. I’d hate to feel that someone felt obligated to buy me something because it was considered the right thing to do.

I’d much, much rather have someone give me a bunch of flowers just because they wanted to tell me they loved me, or because they knew they were my favourite flowers, or because it’s weekend and why not. Impromptu flowers are my favourite kind of flowers.

Flying Flowers

A beautiful bouquet of flowers can often be the perfect way to say I love you. My husband and son, when they are moved to express their feelings for me in gift form, often do so in a bouquet of flowers. On birthdays and special anniversaries I often receive a delivery of beautiful flowers.

I have on rare occasions sent my husband flowers. But more often than not, I express my love for my boys is through cooking. By cooking their favourite meals and baking them their favourite cakes and biscuits. I feed them well and they know when there’s a roast dinner in the oven; what I’m really saying is I love you.

UK flower delivery specialists, www.flyingflowers.co.uk have done some research on how the people of the UK say I love you., Flying Flowers have created the infographic below with their research results.

Apparently 83% of people associate the classic red rose with love. I do love receiving red roses, but I had delicate white roses in my wedding bouquet and a bouquet similar to what I walked down the aisle with is a special gift for me. 

How do you show your loved ones how you feel about them? Are you a feeder like me? Or a sender of flowers or chocolates? How do you say I love you?

Flying Flowers

This is a collaborative post. 

Making the most of natural light with aluminium roof lanterns

Until I had a family of my own I didn’t appreciate just how much room kids take up, with their toys and games and general bouncing around. It’s nice to have a space just for the grown-ups. In my Grandma’s time, her house would have a parlour reserved for visiting adults which was absolutely child free. These days many family homes have a well turned out conservatory for grown-ups to enjoy some clutter free quiet time.

Of course conservatories have a whole range of different uses. Most people build them for the extra space and to take advantage of natural light. Natural light is so important. It can be a great mood booster and can help reduce the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (known as SAD). I often walk into the sunny atrium of a large public building and feel uplifted, purely because of the light. But how can we bring that uplifting feeling into our own homes?

Installing aluminium roof lanterns in our homes is one way to maximise the natural light levels in your new or existing conservatory, kitchen or flat roof extension. Aluminium roof lanterns are made to measure and are available in standard white finish or a wide range of colours and finishes.  

Making the most of natural light with aluminium roof lanterns

From the inside the roof looks like a solid glass panelled roof. The glass panels help the conservatory to retain heat and this means that you can use your conservatory or extension all year round. 

Dark homes can feel a little oppressive. I love these ten ideas to bring light into your home. Trimming down trees, cleaning your windows and having lots of light reflective surfaces can really make a difference. 

If you’re building an extension, or you need to replace the roof of your existing conservatory or extension; aluminium roof lanterns are beautiful, modern, efficient and stylish option. I adore the idea of a light filled room we can use year round. Somewhere to relax with friends, a quiet space to read; or a vibrant colourful family room where we can enjoy meals, crafts and games. A conservatory or extension can add so much to your home and is a great investment, it makes sense to maximise the natural daylight in your home by installing aluminium roof lanterns.

= This is a collaborative post =

Is your business making a good first impression?

In the dim and distant past, I had a job where I managed the admin teams for a number of NHS services. The largest service I was responsible for was the admin team of a unit with a number of (usually quite jolly) inpatients who were looked after by a fairly large number of staff and carers. It was busy, the patients had lots of visitors and when I arrived on my first day, it was clear that our reception area needed some care and attention and wasn’t making the right first impression.

Being the NHS, the budget I had was quite tight; but I was determined to do my best to find some reception furniture for the unit which ticked all the practical boxes and a few aesthetic ones too. Not to mention furniture which wouldn’t blow my budget. We eventually managed to find reception furniture which fit the bill and as far as I know it’s still going strong ten years later.

Creating the first impression when you walk into a building or business for the first time is so important. My husband has his own business and he often asks me for my opinion on sprucing things up. His budget is also woefully small, so again I’m shopping for office reception furniture on a shoestring. The problem is having a shoestring budget often shows when you’re trying to make a good first impression.

Furniture At Work who have created a video that looks at how quickly we make a first impression, whether that’s of people or places. It makes for pretty interesting viewing, especially if you’re thinking of making more of your office reception area.

If you’re looking at giving your reception area a refurb, having a tidy, decluttered space is an excellent start. A lick of paint and a clean (shampooed or new) carpet or polished flooring helps. Help your reception staff keep things tidy by giving them sufficient storage and space to work. You don’t need to blow your budget on expensive furniture; but if you buy cheaply it usually shows quite quickly, especially in a high-traffic area like a reception. 

Creating a positive first impression for your business is vital. You don’t have to blow your budget, but blowing some of the budget can help you make the right impression.

Is your business making a good first impression?

This is a collaborative post.

How to plan an Easter egg hunt at home

One of my favourite things to do on Easter Sunday is to set up an Easter egg hunt for my son. He’s 6 now, but he still believes in the Easter bunny and I have no wish at all to shatter his illusions. Easter egg hunts are pretty easy to put together and lots of fun to take part in. Here are my top tips for setting up an Easter egg hunt.

Step 1:
Buy some Easter eggs. I like to get a selection of sizes and colours to hide in the garden. Make sure you buy enough to share fairly equally between the Easter egg hunters. I tend to get a couple of medium sized eggs and then some smaller ones for the hunters to seek out. You don’t have to stick to Easter eggs, you can also mix things up and add some Easter sweets too.

Step 2:
Count the eggs and sweets before you hide them and try to make a mental note of where you’ve hidden them.

Step 3:
On Easter Sunday I am usually tasked with distracting the boy whilst my other half scurries around the garden hiding the eggs in obvious and not so obvious places. If you can do this just before the hunt without anyone noticing you’ve got a better chance of finding everything and it’s less likely that the local wildlife will find your goodies and eat them for you.

Step 4:
Don’t forget your bucket or basket to put your Easter bounty in.

Step 5:
Go hunting! Have fun, don’t forget to take some photographs. See if you can find an egg and get away with keeping it all to yourself.

Since last Easter we’ve got a new puppy and she is into absolutely everything. If you’ve got a new puppy, or an older dog it’s worth remembering that chocolate is very bad for them. So sadly our puppy, Penny will not be able to join in with the Easter egg hunt. She will have to stay on her lead just to make sure she doesn’t snaffle any goodies she shouldn’t have.

Will you have Easter egg hunt at home? What are your top tips for a successful hunt?

 
How to plan an Easter egg hunt at home

This is a collaborative post