Category Archives: Guest Blogs

Have you ever considered leasing a family car?

If there is one thing any parent can do without, it’s the added pressure of finding, funding, and maintaining a new family car whilst juggling the myriad other responsibilities of parenthood.

But the car has become an indispensible part of family lifestyles, and for parents with a young family to take care of it can make a major difference to the day-to-day routine. Having the freedom to do the weekly shop, pick the kids up from the school, and take weekend trips away without a second thought spent on the practicalities of getting around is a luxury few of us would like to live without.

But not all luxuries are easy to afford, and getting hold of a new family car, whether it’s used or new and paid for outright or on finance, can be difficult both practically and financially.

Used cars are often more affordable, but it’s hard to get a clear picture of their history and the chances of something going wrong are significantly increased. What’s more, there’s usually no warranty left in place so anything that does go wrong is left to you to sort out.

New cars, although they’re far less likely to throw up any problems themselves, are notoriously expensive to get hold of and lose their value quickly. Most people will find that buying a new family car requires a personal loan from a bank, building society, or even a family member.

Cars bought on finance deals eliminate the risks associated with picking up a used car, but they do bring along a whole range of their own problems. The financial implications of purchasing via a finance deal can be great and far-reaching. Most deals will require you to pay around 10% of the car’s value as a deposit as well as ongoing monthly sums, and at the end of the deal you’ll be left with a car worth much less than you’ve paid for it.

Leasing is a middle-of-the-road option that gives parents the best of both worlds; you can drive a brand new car with full manufacturer’s warranty, whilst paying an affordable amount of money each month and only having to pay a few months’ rent upfront as a deposit. At the end of the leasing contract, you simply hand back the keys. At this point, you’ll be a leasing convert and ready to choose the next brand new car for you and your family.

Have you ever thought of leasing the family car?

What else is great about leasing?

It’s reliable: Leased cars are brand new, unused, and with warranties still in place. Nothing is likely to go wrong, but if anything does then it’s not your responsibility to get it fixed. That means no surprise costs and no hassle.

It’s practical: Unlike buying and hire purchase finance deals, leasing is incredibly straightforward. You pay a small deposit, pick up the keys, and pay your monthly installments. At the end of the contract, you hand back the keys and take back the deposit before choosing whether another lease is for you. Additionally, day-to-day practicalities are even easier with all of the smart new functions available in brand new vehicles. Think litres of storage space and fold-away seats perfect for daytrips to the beach.

It’s safe: Every new generation of cars on the road is safer than the last, and with your little ones in tow there’s nothing more important than making sure they’re as well looked-after as possible. When choosing a family car to lease, you’ll get to pick from the latest models with the most advanced safety features on the road.

It’s affordable: We’ve said it once, but we’ll say it again. For parents with a limited amount of disposable income, leasing can be surprisingly easy to manage. A short-term agreement with no long-term financial implications means you’re able to drive the best of what’s available without making a loss when you decide to move on to a new family car. There’s no major upfront cost, no loans or credit agreements, and nothing to lose at the end.

If, after reading this you feel a car lease deal maybe a feasible option, then check out Vantage Car Leasing. They offer an array of car leasing options that you may find are suitable for most family budgets.

= This is a guest post =

The Team Santa vs Team Elf MCFC Stadium and Club Tour

I spent most of last weekend sat in a jacuzzi with some good friends, drinking fizz and generally having a good time. I’d left the boys at home for the weekend with a list of chores and no expectation they’d do any of them. I was right, they did this instead…

Mrs. HodgePodgeDays decided to go away for the weekend, so that left two boys at home wondering how to pass the time. It was fortunate that amongst other things, we had been invited to try out the brand new Team Santa vs Team Elf MCFC Stadium and Club Tour at the home of Manchester City FC, the Etihad Stadium.

MCFC Stadium and Club Tour

The new festive themed MCFC Stadium and Club Tour launches on Saturday 10th December. Families are invited to enjoy a City Santa vs City Elf themed tour with a sprinkling of Christmas spirit. We went along to get a sneak preview of what Santa and his footballing elves had in store this December.

The MCFC Stadium and Club Tour includes exclusive access to fascinating behind the scenes areas of the stadium, including the team dressing room and the official press conference room where you can sit in Pep Guardiola’s seat, exactly as seen on TV. From here, visitors emerge pitch side through the players’ tunnel before taking their seats in the dugout and dreaming of the moment they’re called upon to wear the famous sky blue jersey. The Christmas tour is all that and more.

MCFC Stadium and Club Tour

We arrived at the City Store with a few minutes to spare and were greeted by our very knowledgeable and cheery guide Dominic. His job was to show us around the stadium and also to sprinkle some festive sparkle on it.

We started in the Tours Exhibition Area which is above the City Store and is home to historic memorabilia, interactive games and videos, and also features the story of the club right back to 1894. It was here that our tour group was split in two teams, Santas and Elves. We were all handed one of Manchester City’s Christmas themed jumpers to have our pictures taken in and then it was time for festive game No. 1, decorating the tree. In our teams, one by one, we had to decorate our trees and the fastest team would be the winners, this ended in a draw.

MCFC Stadium and Club Tour

We began the stadium tour and went first to the directors’ seating area and into one of the award winning hospitality suites. We sat outside for a few minutes in the directors’ seats and surveyed the pitch in front of us, then went to check out the media centre and sat in the room where the after match press interviews take place.

The tour continued with a visit to the away dressing room for festive game No.2. Each team took turns to throw mini footballs at little snowmen sat on the benches and again, this ended in a draw of the seemingly equally matched teams. Moving on, we went to the home dressing room to enjoy the comfy seats and to tackle festive game No. 3, flipping the water bottles, which ended up being won 10-4 by the Elves.

MCFC Stadium and Club Tour

Back to the tour and the tunnel leading to the pitch and then pitch side and a rest in Pep Guardiola’s seat in the dugout for a different view of the pitch than we’d normally have. We then went back inside onto the concourse for the final festive game of chipping a football up into a container. Absolutely no-one on either team managed to do this, so overall Team Elf won the competition because of their superior skills in flipping the water bottles.

Once the festive themed games had finished it was back to the City Store for both teams to collect their prizes (all children under the age of 12 on the tours will receive a Christmas gift from the Club and be entered into a prize draw giving them a chance to be a player escort at the Manchester City v Liverpool match, scheduled to take place on Saturday 18th March  2017).

Manchester City are offering all those that have been on the MCFC Stadium and Club Tour in December a 20% discount off all purchases in the City Store that month. It’s a great place to pick up a present for the Manchester City supporter in your family!

The MCFC Stadium and Club Tour is a really fun way to spend an afternoon, especially in the run up to Christmas. The small boy had a fantastic time and returned home with the biggest smile, he couldn’t wait to tell all his friends at school about it the next day! 

Tickets for the MCFC Stadium and Club Tour cost £17 per adult, £11 per child aged 5-16 and £12 for concessions and will run on select days throughout December. For more information, visit the MCFC website.

MCFC Stadium and Club Tour

We were invited guests of Manchester City, all images and opinions are our own.

Health: 3 reasons you might be losing your hair

If you’re losing your hair, you might feel like you’re losing part of your identity – and this can be especially difficult to deal with if you’re a woman. If your locks are thinning and this is having an impact on your confidence and self-esteem, it’s important to understand what’s causing this process. You may find there are treatments available that can help you slow or even reverse your hair loss. Here, we take a look at three reasons why you might be losing your tresses.

Your genes

In men, male-pattern baldness is by far the most common cause of hair loss, affecting approximately half of all men by the time they reach 50, often starting much earlier. A hereditary condition, it’s thought to be a result of over-sensitive follicles and it’s generally characterised by a receding hairline and thinning on the crown. There are treatments available, including finasteride tablets and a lotion called minoxidil. You can find out more about how these hair loss treatments work online or by speaking to your doctor.

Less is known about female-pattern baldness – which tends to involve thinning of hair on top of the head – but this may also have a genetic trigger. The condition tends to be more common in postmenopausal women and this could be because of a drop in female hormone levels. Finasteride isn’t a treatment option for women, but minoxidil is. Up to a quarter of women with female-pattern baldness who use this lotion experience hair regrowth. If you think you might benefit from it, it’s worth getting advice from a pharmacist or your GP.

Your immune system

If you have small patches of hair loss on your scalp, your immune system could be to blame. The condition alopecia areata is caused by a problem with your body’s natural defence system that causes it to attack your own tissue. Usually, hair grows back within a few months, but treatments are available if this doesn’t happen. Steroids can be used in the form of injections, creams, ointments and gels, and in some cases immunotherapy is an option.

losing your hair through Stress

If you’ve experienced major physical or emotional strain recently, there’s a chance this has triggered your hair to thin. A condition called telogen effluvium, which involves a widespread thinning of the hair across the scalp, can be brought on by intense physical trauma – such as childbirth, serious illness or a surgery. It can also be triggered by extreme psychological stress, hormonal changes or alterations to your diet. The good news is, in most cases of telogen effluvium, hair stops falling out and begins to regrow within six months, meaning there’s no need for treatment.

If you’re still not sure what’s causing your hair to thin, or you think you know but you’d like further advice on how to tackle the issue, it’s a good idea to contact a medical professional.

Nanogen - losing your hair

= This is a collaborative guest post =

What we did on our holiday by Mr HodgePodgeDays

My husband is famously a man of few words, but he kindly volunteered to put pen to paper and write about what we did on our holiday this October Half Term. We stayed at the Sol Katmandu in Majorca, courtesy of Jet2 Holidays. It’s always interesting for me to see things from his point of view, but it looks like he had a good time…

Being self-employed has its ups and downs. I am my own boss and I answer to no-one, but on the flip side I am totally responsible for everything at work. If I ever think about taking a sickie, the boss knows about it straight away.

Because I work for myself, I’ve had to work some long hours recently to get things ship shape before our first family holiday abroad. Over the October Half Term we packed our bags and went on a family holiday to Majorca courtesy of Jet2. It was eagerly anticipated, especially by the little fella as it was going to be his first time on a plane.

On departure day we woke early at 4am as the flight was due to depart at 6.30am. We jumped in a taxi and headed off to the airport. The check in at the airport and passing through security was a doddle and soon we were relaxing in the departure lounge with a coffee and sausage butty.

We didn’t have long to wait before our flight was called and we made our way to the gate and boarded the plane. I did wonder at this point if the little fella would be a bit scared by it all, but he was happy as Larry and took it all in his stride. He loved the flight, especially the take off, and soon we were landing in Majorca which again put a big smile on his face.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

 

The transfer to the hotel was a breeze. We were staying at the 4* the Sol Kathmandu in Magaluf. The hotel was excellent, our only quibble was the lack of a balcony which we could sit out on, but I think everyone will always find something not to their satisfaction. 

After we’d unpacked in our room, the lad wanted to go exploring as he’d seen the three outdoor swimming pools on our way into the hotel and couldn’t wait to get in the water, and his dad couldn’t wait to get on a sun lounger.

What we did on our holiday

If you want to know what we did on our holiday, most of our days were spent relaxing by the pools; sometimes all of us splashing about in the water, sometimes Ben in the water with the new friends he’d made, while his parents topped up their tans, read their books and had a glass of sangria or two.

Twenty-four hours into the holiday, both my better half and I said that we definitely more relaxed in a hotel abroad than on our usual holidays in Devon. We usually go self-catering and in Devon we are the small boy’s only source of entertainment.

It was so nice to be away and to only have to think about when next to apply sun cream and not about the stresses of work, if only for a week. It was nice to spend time with my family, especially the missus, instead of rushing around badgering the boy to get dressed, or going back to work in the evenings to catch up with stuff.

What we did on our holiday

Here’s to our next holiday abroad, which hopefully won’t be too far away. Thank you to the Sol Katmandu for putting up with us and Jet2 for getting us there and back safely and efficiently.

-What we did on our holiday by Matthew, aged 41 and a half

Frozen Donor Eggs – An Alternative Approach to Facing Infertility

Many women have already begun imagining their perfect partner, their ideal wedding, and the blessing of having a child of their own when they are just young girls. So what happens when a woman finds out that these dreams may not turn into a reality? As people, we create an image in our minds of how our stories are supposed to play out; but when things take an unexpected turn, especially when faced with the challenge of infertility, it can often seem like all hope is lost.

Thankfully, however, there are other options to explore when choosing the path towards motherhood.

Renewed Hope for People Facing Fertility Challenges

In recent years, advanced technology has improved medical treatments to help couples overcome their infertility. One such assisted reproductive technology is to undergo IVF using an egg donor. Through the use of donor eggs, women have the opportunity to experience motherhood from the beginning and feel the joy of life growing inside them. We have reached a time where no longer having viable eggs of does not necessarily inhibit a woman from experiencing pregnancy. The benefits that can come from choosing to use frozen donor eggs are undeniable.

When you decide to use a frozen donor egg, you can feel confident in your decision. Women who are interested in donating their eggs must undergo arduous screening processes for genetic, medical, and psychological issues before they are deemed eligible for donation. They must be healthy non-smokers between the ages of 21 and 32. These high standards are put in place so that donor egg recipients can have the best chance of conceiving and giving birth to a child.

Frozen egg banks, offer patients a wide selection of donors to choose from. When choosing a frozen donor egg, couples often seek out individuals with physical resemblances, similar ethnicity, or preferred backgrounds. With nationwide databases of egg donors, recipients are given the chance to fulfil these requirements.

Frozen Donor Eggs

Fresh Vs. Frozen Donor Eggs– What are the Differences?

By choosing to use frozen donor eggs as opposed to a fresh sample, recipients will be choosing a more economical solution to their infertility. While donor egg IVF is typically more expensive than traditional IVF, frozen samples represent a large discount over fresh.  

When choosing to use a fresh sample, donors and recipients have to undergo a painstaking synchronisation process. Along with synchronising the women’s menstrual cycles, their responses to various medications must also be coordinated. The cost for this can quickly become very high. Frozen donor eggs eliminate the need for these extra procedures and processes. Eggs are ready to go once a woman has finished preliminary screenings and hormonal treatments. In order to further help with the costs, egg banks have created financial plans that will refund your money if you have not had a successful delivery after a certain number of tries.

More often than not, once a couple has decided on a suitable egg donation bank and donor, they will only need to worry about their own medical preparation. The bank itself will usually coordinate with the couple’s chosen fertility clinic to arrange the delivery of the sample. The frozen donor eggs will then arrive at the clinic for fertilisation to be used once the woman is ready for her embryo transfer. Frozen eggs can also remain in storage if a woman’s cycle needs to be delayed for any reason.

An article on Resolve.org tells us that in the past, women who suffered from conditions like premature ovarian failure and diminished ovarian reserve didn’t have many options. Our modern world, however, is full of amazing technological advances that give these women choices that they never used to have. No woman should be forced to lose sight of her childhood dreams and fantasies.

Frozen donor egg IVF, along with other infertility treatments, can allow couples to overcome roadblocks that may arise in their quest to have a child of their own and become a family. Even though a woman may not have the chance to deliver her own biological child, that does not mean she won’t have the chance to become a mother.

This is a guest post.

Review: OM Yoga Show Manchester 2016

Yoga is a beautiful thing, something I used to really enjoy but can no longer do, which is a shame. When I was invited to the OM Yoga Show Manchester I really wanted to go but thought it’d be better if someone who would really appreciate it went in my place. My very lovely friend Naseema who LOVES yoga spent a day at the show and wrote this wonderful guest post for me – thanks Naseema!

I visited the OM Yoga Show last weekend as an attempt to learn more about Yoga and its practice since I am a little bit of a budding yogi myself. I had a preconception that this event only included professional yoga teachers doing headstands and handstands but much to my amazement I felt right at home.

The OM Yoga Show Manchester had over 100 exhibitors and was based at Event City in Manchester. The admission price was £7.50 (adult) for one day in advance, £12.50 (adult) for a two-day ticket and £16.00 (adult) for a three-day ticket. Upon entering Event City I felt really uplifted. I was able to purchase a copy of the OM Yoga magazine for £1 and started exploring the booths, speaking to different yoga groups in Manchester and from around the UK.

OM Yoga Show Manchester

I met different yoga teachers who were based around the UK and in Manchester. One to note is Donna Noble who started her practice encouraging individuals of all shapes and sizes to get involved in yoga. Her aim is to create a powerful and open yoga practice where all genders and different fitness levels can feel welcomed in her class. Even though she is based in London she was still able to spread her message at the OM Yoga Show Manchester and even lead her own lotus open class on Curvesome Yoga. I would recommend visiting her website to hear the stories of women who are transforming themselves in their yoga journey. You can find out more on Donna’s website.

Other exhibitors which were at the show included Dru Yoga, Meditation and Ayurveda, Yogacampus, Yoga mama, Sports yoga, Santosa Yoga and Meditation, Boxing Yoga, The Yoga Bank, the YogaLife Project to name just a few. One aspect that I really enjoyed the most was the section specifically for kids and the integration of toddlers into the practice of yoga. Yoga groups such as Relax Kids and Yoga Bears gave me information on meditation techniques specifically for kids and kids’ yoga. They combined mindful games and storytelling with stretching exercises, breathing, massage as well as positive affirmations. There were also classes specifically for children which seemed very popular.

OM Yoga Show Manchester

The yoga show also had a selection of vegetarian and vegan hot and cold food, snacks and beverages both hot and cold. The Detox Yogi tea definitely was my favourite with its ayurvedic blend of liquorice, dandelion and cinnamon. My other food favourite was Urban Fruit with their gently baked fruit with no added sugar. I also purchased an all natural Whey Isolate Protein powder from She Protein. This product is aimed for women who workout and need a protein supplement as part of their healthy lifestyle.

OM Yoga Show Manchester

Yoga merchandise was also on sale. Yoga mats were at very reasonable prices. Yoga clothing was also sold by Tiger Lilly clothing, Yoga Goodies, Pul Sera, The Power of Greyskull to name a few. Accessories were also sold in various booths all of them handmade and holistic inspired. The yoga workshops were extremely popular and cost around £5 per session. Each workshop differed vastly and can include one workshop on Yoga Nidra to another workshop on Boxing Yoga. There were also free open classes by various yoga teachers which were suitable for all levels and were on a first come first served basis.

OM Yoga Show Manchester

I really enjoyed visiting the OM Yoga Show and I will definitely be visiting it again in 2017. If you missed out on the show in Manchester, the London show is on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd October! My advice is to get there early and enjoy the positive vibes!

You can find out more about the OM Yoga Show Manchester on their website.

5 helpful hints to cut the cost of your family holiday

Going on a family holiday can be quite an experience, and a world apart from trips you might have made before you had kids. There’ll be a whole lot of laughs, a whole lot of checking up on the little one(s), perhaps a complication or two along the way, and plenty of joy too.

Of course, the added bodies among the travelling party will have one other important impact – the cost of your family holiday will be a good deal higher. It obviously depends how young your children are, and costs for toddlers will be a whole lot less than those for older children. But with things inevitably becoming more expensive, it is all the more important to find ways to get the most bang for your buck, without negatively impacting on the levels of fun and enjoyment.

Here are 5 helpful hints to cut the cost of your family holiday…

Give tours a miss
They’re convenient, they’re all organised for you, and they’re often trumpeted as the ‘only way to see (insert name of destination)’. However, tours like these also tend to have a hefty mark-up on them too, and with an entire family to pay for, it really can get expensive. So rather plan your own trips and excursions. There are even peer-to-peer websites around whereby you can get locals to show you around for a fraction of the price. Chances are, the experience will be more authentic that way too.

Be a proper local
Doing as the locals do is an excellent way to save money, and avoid being caught out by tourist traps. This way you can avoid overpriced eateries, activities and tours, and immerse yourself in local markets and culture too. The best thing to do is to mingle with the locals, make some friends, and find out what the best things to do are. Just put yourself out there – and chances are the whole family will make some great friends along the way too.

Get clever with accommodation
It isn’t a universal truth, but hotels really aren’t likely to be the best way to go as a family. True, there are some good package and all-inclusive deals out there, but booking through Airbnb, or similar websites can save you a truck load compared to booking two hotel rooms. It also tends to be more conducive for family activities and eating too. With a kitchen facility of your own, you can eat what you want and when you want; and you’ll probably get some great inside information about the city or town from your host too.

Get familiar with your destination
The last thing you want is to regularly end up lost in a destination city with no idea where you are, and where to go. The kids will get restless, the stress levels will rise, and invariably an expensive taxi ride will be the default method of getting you from A to B. So put in a bit of time beforehand to familiarise yourself with where you’re going, and download some navigational apps like Pocket Earth to your phone. Getting around by public transport and/or walking really can save a chunk of budget.

Budget carefully
Again, you don’t want to scrutinise every penny to the point that you no longer even enjoy your family holiday. It’s a break you all no doubt need, and it’s important to make the most of it. But plan ahead with a daily budget, taking into account all planned an unplanned excursions, and try stick to it. And if you’re using finance in order to fund the holiday, that’s okay too. But be sure to shop around on price comparison sites for the best-value loans you can find, with repayments that suit you. You don’t want a cloud of expensive debt hanging over you while having fun with your loved ones.

5 helpful hints to cut the cost of your family holiday

= This is a guest post =

Is Your Home Office Giving You Headaches?

When you work for yourself, you can find that your work schedule frequently spills over into leisure time and before you know it, you’re sleeping less, feeling decidedly less relaxed and the more aligned work life balance that had been part of your original plan seems to have gone out of the window. Another potential hazard is headaches, which along with colds are reportedly the number one cause of absenteeism from work and when your work for yourself, sick days are a tricky topic to navigate. Headaches can be stress induced from overworking, brought on by lack of fresh air or may at least in part be due to an ill conceived desk set up, so how do you protect your health in your home office and is your home office giving you headaches?

Is Your Home Office Giving You Headaches?

Let there be light – in the right places
It’s very important to introduce natural light into a working space. Not only will this help you feel bright and more awake, it is also proven to aid a good sleep pattern and productivity. If your desk is nestled in the corner of another room away from a window, consider aiding flow of light with bifold doors. These from Vufold are available in both classic oak and more modern finishes to match your décor.

Whether you are positioned near a natural light source or need to rely on a desk or ceiling lamp, you’ll need to take steps to prevent glare on your computer screen, which can trigger headaches and migraines. Position it directly in front of you with the top at eye level and take time to set the brightness and contrast level to comfortable settings. Glare from light bulbs and windows can cause issues, so try and ensure they don’t shine directly on your screen. Along with careful positioning you may want to fit an anti-glare cover to your computer screen.

Find the right angle
It’s not just your computer screen that needs to be in just the right place, if you’re spending more than a few hours a time at your desk it’s recommended that you invest in an adjustable ergonomic chair. As well as supporting your lower back, you should be able to alter the height and position of your chair so that it comfortably supports you at the correct height to comfortably navigate your keyboard and mouse and type with your hands in line with your arms and wrists straight, this should stop nasty aches and pains developing. If you find that your feet are away from the floor when you’re at desk level, purchase a tilting foot support and resist the urge to cross your legs, it’s really not good for you!

Keep things fresh
Keeping a clean and tidy desk doesn’t just help you to find and do things quicker, it also minimises the amount of movement you need to make, which can help you avoid uncomfortable twisting and turning of your head and neck. Back pain is a common byproduct of working at desks and while regular massages can ease problems, it helps to take preventative measures too. Can you position items such as calendars and telephones within easy view and reach? You should also clean your keyboard and desk regularly – it’s estimated the average keyboard harbours over 7500 bacteria, which is not the kind of office party you want to be promoting.

Take a break
One of the best things you can do to protect your health and productivity is to take regular breaks. Try and step away from your screen for five to ten minutes every hour and think about getting some fresh air during your lunch break too. Staring and sitting for long periods can cause a host of problems with your back, legs and eyes. While it can feel like taking a break is slowing you down, spending a moment stretching or resting your eyes will keep you more comfortable, which could just help you finish that important project.

How is your home office set up? Do you wish you had more sunlight or a more comfortable desk or chair? Are you good at taking regular breaks or do you find yourself staring at your screen and typing for hours on end while you’re in the zone? Perhaps you’re planning a home office refurb to support your health goals?

If you have any tips for creating a healthy and comfortable work environment, please share them below.

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All You Need to Know About the Broken Plan Decorating Trend

There was a time not so long ago when fresh from watching hundreds of Grand Design episodes showing Kevin McCloud and ambitious home builders loudly extolled the virtues of open plan living that such layouts were the very height of modern design. For many years now we’ve been in love with open plan living and the freedom it provides but now, now there’s a new kid on the block. The good news is you won’t need to shed your space in favour of separation. In fact, a few barriers can go a long way in the land of broken plan living, the newly emerged trend being championed in the media by publications such as The Guardian and Mailonline.

Why are we suddenly talking broken instead of open?

In the recent RIBA house of the year awards, the phrase broken plan was used by one of the judges, Mary Duggan, to describe a feature of many of the shortlisted properties. Many of the homes that were put in front of her for consideration have the common feature that they’re in essence open plan living spaces but with elements of interconnection built in. The expert explains in the Guardian: “Broken-plan living was a topic that came up during the tour.”

What’s driving the broken plan trend?

While we inevitably have programmes like Grand Designs and Location, Location, Location to thank for helping open plan living to take hold here in the UK, broken plan living is apparently being driven by our changing leisure habits and the technology behind them. Long gone are the days when kids retired to the computer room after a family dinner to consult Encarta for help with their homework. Now, thanks to on demand TV there’s no real need to be in separate rooms while partaking in different activities and even if the whole family wants to watch different things they can do so on different devices all in one place. That said, sometimes a little distance is preferable for this type of activity and according to Ms Duggan that’s what’s behind the broken plan trend – a desire for a little privacy when playing on our tablet computers or even working from home. Open spaces are still very much on trend but there’s a need for pockets of separation, what equates to old style snugs in very new style homes.

broken plan

Creating “pockets” of private space in open plan areas is known as broken plan living.

How can you embrace broken plan living?

If you have an open plan home you might already have made your own personal adaptations to your space, so that it contains separate areas that work for you. You might have an entertainment area that sits on the upper part of a split-level space or perhaps you have fashioned your own office space by sectioning off an area with floor to ceiling bi-fold doors like these classic designs made by Creative Doors Direct. As broken plan living is about making a space work for you, there’s no real need to start re-erecting walls, it’s all about making considered use of all that beautiful open space and finding your own little nook within it.  

Has your interest been piqued by this post? Do you really rather like the idea of creating a cosy spot where you can sit and read a book away from the action or do some online shopping without double screening in front of the TV? Get started on your own broken plan living arrangement now by using items already in your apartment such as bookshelves or other furniture to help you section off a more private area.

A change of circumstances, such as becoming a parent might also create a need for more broken plan living. Open spaces can be really freeing unless you’re chasing a toddler from one end to the other while picking up toys that are scattered from the kitchen area through to the wider living space, then distinct areas can definitely have their merits!

If you think the architecture of your home or one you have worked on is award-winning you can enter it in the next RIBA home awards, which open in December. Find out if you qualify to enter, check the judging criteria and read about the prize you could win here.  In the meantime, what do you think about broken plan living? Is it something you’re already on board with? Have you recently moved from open plan living into something a little more separate? If so, did you work on the existing space or up sticks? Share details of your projects below!

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Guest Post: Father’s Day 2014

Often pictured but seldom heard, my long suffering husband Matthew has kindly written a guest post for me about what we did on Father’s Day. He’s not a blogger, nor does he have the soul of a poet, he is by nature a man of few words, so this is a rather big deal. Enjoy…

So far in my life, I’ve had four Father’s Days. Undoubtedly the best was the first in 2011, but 2014 is a very close second.

Father’s Day this year happened when Team HodgePodgeDays were on their annual two week jaunt to Devon and it was nice to be able to have a Father’s Day to ourselves, rather than slaving away at home with a to-do list.

The day started with a very lazy Sunday morning at the cottage, playing in the garden in the morning sun. Eventually we got in the car and drove the few miles to Rosie’s kitchen in Bude for brunch, which was followed by a stroll on the beach looking for pirate treasure.

After we decided the pirate had taken the treasure with him, we headed back to the cottage for a pitstop and then sped up the coast to Appledore. Appledore is a beautiful village on one side of the estuary of the River Torridge and an ideal place for crabbing.

Unfortunately when we got there the tide was out, so the lad and I went down the slipway onto the sands and ambled about looking at the boats resting on the sand and looking into the pools of water. Sooner rather than later, the tide started to come in, so we made our way up to find Mrs HodgePodgeDays, who informed us it was tea time.

So off to Sylvester’s Chip Shop I went and came back with the best cod and chips I’ve ever had. We gobbled the whole lot down sat on a bench on the harbour side, the late afternoon sun on our backs watching the world go by. It was a special moment.

After tea it was nearly time to go as it was nearly bedtime for the little fella. But we wanted to try our hand at crabbing. Seeing as though that’s why we’d come to Appledore. Mrs HPD proved herself a natural at crabbing, baiting the lines with bacon. We soon had a bucketful of crabs and a very happy boy.

Best Father's day

What a fantastic day we’d all had and the lad is going to have to come up with something extra special for Father’s Day next year to beat it!