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LIFESTYLE: WE KNOW THESE WILL MAKE YOU HAPPIER IN YOUR HOME

Is there any point in owning a home if it isn’t the one place you can turn to to find happiness? We know that a lot of you will value your home, but do you actually find yourself happy in it? For some of you, the answer will be a definitive yes, for others, you’ll be on the edge, and for a lot of you, you’ll feel as though you want to rip your hair out when thinking about your home. Now, think about how much money you’re spending on your home, both in terms of bills and improvements. We’re sure that if we kept going, the money you’re spending would go up and up. So, to save you wasting all of that money coming home to a home you’re not even happy in, we’ve got some things that we know will turn it all around!




Relaxing Decor


Whether your decor is old, a bit rough around the edges, or maybe just a bit in your face, it doesn’t matter. If it isn’t how you want it to be, and if it isn’t modern and relaxing, then it really can create some stress when you walk into your home. If you want a stress free home, then we can assure you that decor does play a big part in that. One thing you should really consider doing, is keeping your paper or paint fresh and bright, using the colour white. White brings in so much natural light, gives your home an airy feeling, and can be mixed with any other colour. So you could go for a white and grey colour scheme, and it would just be like looking at an Instagram picture. We definitely recommend that you look into indoor plants as well. They obviously help to keep the air clean, and they’re known for their relaxing properties. One in each room not only helps to add a little colour, but it’s also great for keeping your chirpy!


A Smooth Running Home


Definitely something that will keep you unhappy if it keeps happening! A smooth running home is often held back by those niggling little issues that you might face. So, think of things like your plumbing. If you’ve got a drain that just won’t unblock, a shower that has lost all of its pressure, or anything else bathroom or plumbing related, then you’re going to be in a pickle. What you need to do is get the best plumbers, and get the problem fixed rather than living with it. People would much rather live with a blocked drain that takes hours to drain, than pay out to get it fixed. But will curse at the drain every day for not draining. So, do the right thing, splash some cash, and keep your home running smoothly.


A Lovely Garden


The final piece of the puzzle. If you always find yourself couped in indoors, even when the weather is shining because your garden isn’t up to scratch, then change that. You can get gardeners and landscapers to come in that will completely transform your garden, add value to your home, and give you that much needed outdoor space to relax!



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LIFESTYLE: ENJOY EVERY MOMENT OF YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE

Enjoying every moment of a holiday doesn’t come naturally, because we believe that from the moment you book said holiday, it all begins. Your excitement starts to build, and if you’ve booked a sort of last minute holiday, you might not even have that long to wait until you’re on that plane! So, if your holiday begins before it even truly starts, then we know you’re going to feel some stress. However, as long as you take your time to plan properly, like we’re going to talk you through today, you’ll be able to enjoy every moment of even the most stressful parts! Booking a holiday should be an all round exciting time, because you know for sure that you’re getting away from the daily grind of life, and you’re experiencing a country that you perhaps haven’t been to before. But, do you think we make the most of every moment whilst we’re there? No, sometimes we just don’t, which is why we’re here to help. No holiday should be wasted, but sometimes, some holiday’s really are. So, if you have a read of the advice below, you’ll see how we think you can make the most of every moment on your next adventure.




Make The Most Of The Planning Stage


The planning stage of it all is the most exciting part in our eyes. You might not even be close to going, but you’ll still have that little buzz inside of you that will leave your itching to get on that plane. But, as we’ve said, the planning process along with the airport is actually the most stressful time. So, here’s how we think you can do it right. First of all, take into consideration how long you’re going for, where your destination is, whether you’re all inclusive, and what you would like to do when you get there. This will build you a clear understanding of how much money you need to take, which is a really big factor when trying to plan your holiday. We would say that the last thing you want to do is take out the wrong about of money, but you can always use the ATM machines whilst you’re there to withdraw more if your calculations are out. However, you just don’t want to make the mistake of not planning to take enough, and not having enough in your bank to ensure that you can withdraw some whilst you’re out there. But, if you do find you’re struggling to calculate how much you will need, you can always use one of the travel money calculators on the internet. They’ll give you a rough guide of what you need, so all you’ll need to do is add a little bit extra on in case of emergencies.


You also need to make sure you’re planning your stay if you really want to make the most of things. Find out what there is to do in the area that you’re staying in, as well as the wider areas that you could go and visit. We do believe that the best holiday is a combination for a holiday is a mix of relaxation, and getting out and about. So, if you’re going for a week, try and do something outside of the beach and the hotel pool for at least three of those days. That way, you won’t feel like you wasted your holiday doing nothing, or even wasted it by doing too much! If you are going to fill your holiday with a lot of excursions, or even anything at all for that matter, you should always make sure you’re getting yourself travel insurance. Even if your plan was to stay by the pool all day, all it would take is for you to slip over and bang your head, and you could have medical bills going through the roof. So, just always make sure you’re being careful with this!


Make The Most Of The Airport


The airport is definitely something we all struggle to make the most of. Instead, we spend most of our time rushing around it, wishing it would all be over, and hoping that you don’t experience any sort of delay. But, the airport is a necessary evil, and there are ways that you can really enjoy it. The first is to make sure that you’re getting there with plenty of time. Even if it means you’re a few hours before your flight, it cuts out that element of rush that you usually have to deal with. Because even if you arrive within just enough time, you might not factor for the queues when checking in your bag, or the airport security queues. So, arrive there a few hours before, and breeze through it all. Always make sure you’re triple checking that you have absolutely everything before you head the airport, or your holiday may never go any further. So, once you’re through the madness, it’s time to relax. If you really want to relax, why not head to one of the airport lounges, if the airport you’re travelling to has one. They’re perfect for relaxing, and you get such good value for money. You can have anything you want in there, from food to spirits, and only have to pay a small entrance fee. Considering how expensive airport food and drinks are, you might as well go for the option where you can have as much as you want, for next to nothing compared to what you would have if you were to just try the food and drink places that are dotted around the airport.




Make The Most Of The Hotel


As soon as you get to the hotel, your excitement peaks. Everything you see will be new to you, as long as you’ve never been there before, so all you will want to do is run to your room and check out the pool. If you’ve arrived early and you can’t be checked into your room, leave your bags with the hotel and go and explore the area. It’ll be good for you to get a feel for where you are, and to know what local amenities are close by. Once your room is ready for you, take some time to actually relax in the hotel room. Even if it’s that you’re just spending an hour lying down, to really unwind after your journey. Then, it’s up to you what you do. If you’re all inclusive, exploring the hotel restaurants might be on the agenda. Or, you could just be itching to get to the pool and chill out even more. To make the most of the hotel, you just need to sink into the atmosphere. Take every relaxing moment in, and appreciate the fact that you’re lying on a sun lounger, and not behind your desk at work. It’s then that you will truly be able to make the most of the hotel.


Make The Most Of The Excursions


Excursions are easily one of the most exciting parts of your holiday, or at least we think so anyway. It’ll take you away from that hotel or beach environment, and will give you a sense of adventure that you might not have had before. So, you should have already done your planning before your travels, but if not, the hotel you’re staying at should be able to help you. If you’re going to Indonesia, or even just a Mediterranean country, then we really would recommend going snorkelling or scuba diving. A lot of the places you’ll travel to will offer it, and the underwater experience you’ll have will be amazing. If you want to make to even better, have a look at the Ninja Shark masks, and see if you can grab yourself one before you go. They’re a great little suitcase addition, and make the whole snorkelling process so much more fun! We also recommend that you do island tour trips, if the country you’re travelling to has them. It’s one of the best ways to see your location, with a guided tour, and fill yourself with knowledge. Some of the spots they’ll take you to will either be beautiful or historical, so they should all be really fun! Just make sure you’re going to the right place to book your excursions. The last thing you want is to be ripped off by one place, when somewhere down the road will offer it cheaper. So just take a day to explore your options before rushing into anything.

Make The Most Of The Food


It’s hard not to make the most of the food. In fact, if people go on holiday, the thing they look forward to most is stuffing their faces as much as they can, every single day. But, we would recommend that you make the most of the food in the local area. We get why you wouldn’t want to eat out if you’re all inclusive, but snacking is something you could do. If you’re heading to Spain, you could try a bit of tapas. It’s so cheap, and won’t feel like you’re wasting the hotel food. If you’re going to Indonesia, you could try a smoothie bowl, which Bali is famous for, or you could try a local Warung. It’s all about getting your money’s worth, whilst also giving yourself a local treat.



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LIFESTYLE: GETTING YOUR CAR SERVICED THIS SUMMER


Going away this summer? Worried your car isn't going to make the long journey?  Here's a few things to keep you safe whilst travelling this week. 

When going on long journeys you should always check your car over and make sure that everything is in working order before you get on your way. I thought i'd put together a list of things to check before going on those long journeys. 

*When was the last time you got your car serviced? Have you got an MOT coming up? If your due to get your car serviced or MOT get this done before you head away on that long trip. There could be a serious problem with your car that you know nothing about. Having your car checked out before you go away could prevent you braking down so it's worth doing. We went to wales a couple of years ago and Clint's car was due a MOT and we found out he needed 4 new tyres and this could have caused a serious problem if we had left it until we got home and could have cost us a lot more money to have the car fixed if we were in an accident or recovered if we broke down. Get your car servicing from KAP Motors Brighton  Branch

 * Are your lights working? This can be a real hazard whether your driving during the day or night. If your brake light is out or an indicator isn't working you can cause an accident as the driver behind won't know what you are doing. Light bulbs are very inexpensive so replace any broken ones before you go. In the dark a lack of lights can be so so dangerous, especially on little country roads that have no street lights.

*Windscreen Wipers, This is such a simple thing to check but can cause real issues if they are broken. Just test them before you get on your way. In case it starts to rain and you cannot see because they are broken or you could get dust or something else blow onto your windscreen and you cannot clear it because the wipers are broken or just smearing it across the screen. 

*Checking you have enough water in your car. Even if the weather is lovely and you wont be using your windscreen wipers the water in your car the water also keeps the car cool and your engine temperature maintained. Your car could overheat or you could break your engine if you don't have enough water in your car. 

* Engine Oil, again this can cause all kinds of problems including your engine could completely seize up and stop working which would leave you pretty much stranded. So make sure this is topped up before you go on your journey. You check the oil using the dipstick. 

* Plan your journey, do you have enough petrol? Do you know where your going? The nearest service station? Do you have tools in the boot should you need 
them. Have you got water and food should you break down. It doesn't hurt to be prepared. 


Enjoy the rest of the week and stay safe on the roads if you are travelling this summer. 



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LIFESTYLE: AMELIA 9 MONTH UPDATE



Amelia is going to be 9 months old in a couple of days so I thought i'd do a little 9 month update.

She's crawling now, shes into everything! She's going so well with her eating, shes loving food right now. Amelia is still teeny tiny, shes just gone into 3-6 months clothing.

She's doing so well, shes super chatty and she's got such a cheeky attitude. I've just gone back to work and she's going to her nanny's two days a week. She loves going and I think it's really good for us to have a little separation. She's gone up to the next group in Gymboree which she's loving. I love that she can just go and crawl and get into everything, it's so cute.

Amelia has been to her first birthday party, it was her friend Jack's 2nd birthday!








FASHION: DRESSING FOR SUCCESS IN A NEW JOB

Dressing for success is of huge importance no matter what job you have. This is even more so the case when you have a new job! You want to make a good impression. You don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb for all of the wrong reasons. But you do want to come across as confident, professional, and approachable. So, how do you achieve this? Read on for some useful suggestions.


Be yourself – This is where a lot of people go wrong. They try to be something they are not because they want to fit in with the corporate feel. While we are not suggesting you go to work in a football top or a pair of yellow shorts, being yourself is important. When you are yourself, your authentic personality shines through and you feel comfortable to work to the best of your ability.
Be comfortable – Anyone who has tried to wear five-inch heels on their first day at work has quickly realised how much of a mistake this is! Comfort should always come first. Falling over isn’t the best way to introduce yourself to everyone!

Get the fit right – Choosing clothing that fits correctly is vital. Don’t try to squeeze into something too small or opt for a blazer that is too big at the shoulders. It looks uncomfortable, whether you feel it or not.



Invest in an iron – It is not only about what you wear, but it is about how you wear it. Nothing looks worse than going to work with a shirt that is creased and looks like you have gotten dressed in the dark.  To read more about the best steam irons for that professional look, read reviews online. It is certainly an investment worth making.

Don’t over accessorise – When it comes to accessories, you need to go for statement pieces. Wearing lots of different bangles will certainly not endear you to your co-workers. No one likes the sound of metal clinking all day. The best thing to go for is a statement watch or something along these lines.
Research what others wear - The final piece of the puzzle is to make sure you know if there is a company clothing policy. It is also a good idea to make note of what others wear so you can ensure you fit in with the dress code. Hopefully, you were paying attention when you want to your interview!
So there you have it: some useful tips to help you dress for success in your new role. What you wear does not only impact how others view you, but it impacts how you feel about yourself too, which is why the advice above is so important.




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LIFESTYLE: TOP TIPS FOR SAVING MONEY ON YOUR FAMILY HOLIDAY




If you’re looking for the perfect family holiday then one thing that will play a part in your decision making process is that of cost.  See, money when it comes to travel is akin to the jet fuel that fuels the plane that takes you from where you are to your final destination - it’s absolutely vital, yet for many people, money is a barrier to finding the perfect family holiday, mostly because family holidays tend to have to take place at the busiest and most expensive times of the year - the school holidays.

In an ideal world, of course, you wouldn’t be going on holiday during the summer break, as this is the most expensive time to travel to popular holiday destinations.  That said, when the alternative is to pull your kids out of school for a week or two, it puts most families in a position where out of necessity they have to travel at peak times.  

Indeed, when you consider the fact that you can get an all inclusive deal to one of the popular Spanish resorts for as little as £179, slightly out of season (e.g. mid-late september) versus the £500+ equivalent, for the same hotel, just at a time when the kids aren’t at school - it shows how punitively priced trips within the summer holidays are, which can be particularly challenging for young parents.

Therefore, if there’s any way that you can travel just slightly outside of the main school holidays then you can save a small fortune.

Failing that, you’re best bet is to hunt out the cheapest deals.  Now, that’s often easier said than done as it can take up a ridiculous amount of time, yet in this post, we’re going to look at some of the best ways to save money on the larger aspects of your trip (such as accommodation, flights and car hire) in order to have more money to spend within the destination.  This way, you’re not exactly “saving money” it’s more that you’ll be getting a lot more value from the trip, meaning you will have a much better time, for the amount you have available to spend.

In essence, you’re saving money on the commodities (e.g. flying) in order to splurge on the fun stuff such as snorkelling with a Ninja Shark in the crystal clear waters of whatever holiday paradise you decide upon.

For som, this post may seem a little late into the summer holidays, but bearing in mind the above point relating to how much cheaper it is to travel just outside the school holidays, and the fact that many families haven’t been able to afford a trip abroad this summer - this post is here to help families looking to save money on a last minute family holiday, or to plan for next year’s holiday.


FLIGHTS
Flights are a major expense, for most trips, and whilst you can get some fantastic deals with low cost carriers these deals tend to only be available for those with flexible dates - and/or at times which are really inconvenient.

There’s a certain trap people fall into, as well, when it comes to booking cheap flights, in that they may find a really low cost fare, for instance from Glasgow to Majorca for £10 - yet they live in Birmingham, meaning they would have to spend an additional amount of money to travel all the way up to Glasgow in order to take advantage of this cheap fare.

If we break that down, let’s say you get a cheap advance ticket for around £30 and are happy to spend nearly 4 hours on a train up to Glasgow.  Then, there’s the bus from Glasgow train station to the airport that costs around £6 and takes at least half an hour.

We’re now looking at £36 + £10 for the flight, which is still great value, but given the amount of time required to get to Glasgow (particularly if it’s a return flight where you have to do the same all over again) then it offers reasonably low value.  Indeed, the flight for £50 from a nearby airport may end up providing much better value - so start to think in terms of value rather than low cost when it comes to arranging your flights, particularly if they are really early in the morning, or get in to the destination very late at night, as the hassle and exhaustion that tends to come with such trips is rarely worth the slight reduction in price.

Now, on the topic of reducing the price of flights, there’s one tool that everyone needs to be using.  The online tool (and mobile app) is called SkyScanner, and this searches pretty much every airlines ticket prices in order to find you the best deal for the parameters you set; such as the date and destination.

The great thing about SkyScanner is that if you are flexible, then you can start doing some really flexible searches (e.g. flights from Birmingham Airport to EVERYWHERE leaving on 10th September 2018, or even The Month of September).  This way, you can find the very best bargains, and if you are feeling flexible, rather than search from Birmingham, for instance, you could search from the whole of the UK.

Flexibility is your friend when it comes to booking flights as the more flexible you can be, the more options you have to choose from, and obviously some of those options will be significantly cheaper than others.

The challenge, here, however is that most people do have fixed windows to travel - based on time off work, school holidays and other factors of life - but if you are in the fortunate position to have time flexibility, then this tool can help you save a LOT of money.

The other key piece of advice when it comes to flights is to endeavour to book your flights as early as possible, as flight seats are sold in price bands, for instance - the first ten seats might be sold at a promotional fare of £25, then the next 50 seats are sold at £28, with the final 10 seats sold at £185.  

The principle is that the less seats they have left to fill, the higher the price will tend to be, and whilst there are exceptions to this rule and many airlines do sell off their seats in the final few days if the flight is particularly empty - as a practice, it’s rare to find cheap flights a few days before departure.


ACCOMODATION
Hotels and holiday apartments or villas are the preference of most families, though renting out a room in someone’s house or perhaps the entire house via AirBnB is becoming a more and more popular option.  That said, AirBnB can be surprisingly expensive, as in addition to the amount the room is being charged by the host, their are fees on top of that from AirBnB plus occasionally there is an additional cleaning fee, and by the time all these fees have been added on - it could be just as cheap to go to a decent hotel.

In a similar vein to SkyScanner, there’s a site called Travel Supermarket that’s very similar to Money Supermarket in that it compares hotels in a similar format to how such websites compare insurance products.  You can save a lot of money using this website, as unlike online travel agents such as Booking.com this site is scouring every agency, meaning it will find the lowest prices.

For instance, let’s say you have an interest in staying in the Marriott Hotel in Barcelona; each travel agent will be selling the same room at that hotel for a different price.  This website offers transparency in terms of who is selling the room, and for what rate, meaning you can find the cheapest online travel agent in order to save money.

The reality is that Expedia, for instance might be selling the room for £78 per night, whilst Lastminute.com are selling it for £82 and Hotels.com are selling it for just £56.  This tool allows you to see what everyone is selling it for, meaning you don’t have to do the legwork - it’s all done for you in a split second.


CAR HIRE
The best deals on car hire can often be found on both SkyScanner and Travel Supermarket, as prices are compared by all suppliers - but there’s one thing to be mindful of, which is you need to read the rental conditions of each car rental company, as some will charge a huge deposit (e.g. £1,850) that not everyone will have available on their card; in which case you would turn up to find you can’t hire a car, and potentially you might lose the amount spent already.  

Then, there are several car hire companies that are notorious for charging “damage” after the car is returned, taking money from your account, which may not be as substantiated as they claim.

This is why, sometimes, it can be best to go with a reputable company like Avis or Hertz, who tend to be more expensive in terms of the daily rate, but a lot less hassle and a lot more reliable in terms of “fake damage”.  To offer some context, you can rent with Avis with just a Debit Card (whereas most require a credit card) and a deposit of just £200!





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LIFESTYLE: WHAT WOULD MAKE A PERFECT FAMILY HOLIDAY?


We’re not going to suggest that every family holiday you go on is going to be perfect, because it’s just not! Some holiday’s you will come back from, and all you’ll do is complain that it was a complete nightmare. You had a huge flight delay, the hotel room was cramped, the food was poor, the weather was rubbish, one of the kids got hurt…does this not sound like your typical family holiday!? So much more seems to go wrong compared to the holiday’s you would take as a younger couple, which is typical considering there is hyperactive children involved! So, what would make a perfect family holiday!? Well, we know a few things that might just make it the best, so have a read on if you want to have the perfect family holiday this year.


Forget Going Abroad

So, all of the things we listed that could be a nightmare in the opening paragraph, all involve you hopping on a plane to your next destination. But, who is to say that the perfect family holiday has to be abroad? In fact, think of all of the hassle you’ll save if you just stick to your home country. No waiting for the flight, no stressing about what the kids are doing, no airport meltdowns… the dream is here! So, what we would suggest is a little camping trip. If you check out companies such as 4WD Supacentre, you’ll be able to find a range of different camping equipment. Once you’ve got that, all you need to do is find the perfect location that will have plenty to do. Pack the car, drive to it, and have a perfect holiday. You cut out so much fuss and hassle, although we would recommend doing a trial run of setting up the tent. There’s nothing worse than arguing over what pole goes where and having a tent meltdown!

If You’re Hopping On A Plane, Be Prepared!

So, if camping just isn’t your style, and you know that you’re going to be hopping on a plane pretty soon, then be prepared. You need to have absolutely everything printed, in a folder, and organised so that the airport is a breeze. Once you’re through security, use food and exploration to keep the kids entertained. As for the flight, it all depends on the length of the flight you’re going on. If it’s long haul, the airline should provide little activities for your children, and there will be plenty of kids films on the TV’s. But, be prepared!! Have plenty of colouring books, toys, and anything else that you know they love to make sure they’re entertained. Having a travel pillow with you as well for their comfort will also help for when they need to sleep!

Minimal Family Drama

The perfect family holiday isn’t going to happen if there isn’t minimal family drama. But, when younger children are involved, it’s hard for this not to happen. We would advise that you fill the holiday with activities to keep them entertained, take them for naps in the afternoon as you would if you were at home, and encourage them into the kids clubs of the hotels. They’ll be able to make some friends, it’ll give you some time with your partner, and everyone wins!





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