Monday, 15 August 2016

The Power of Reading a Good Book

The Power of Reading a Good Book

Just imagine it - having the time to curl up in a quiet corner with a good book. Whether it’s a dog-eared paperback from the local charity shop or a hardback carefully selected from a polished oak bookcase, the power of losing yourself in a good book is hard to beat and here are some great reasons from Furniture Plus Online why you should pick up a book.

With Book Lover’s Day being celebrated on 9th August, there’s never been a better time to read. But did you know your favourite pastime has proven health benefits, too?

Books Boost Brain Power
We all know it’s important that children learn to read. But did you know that reading a book exposes a child to 50% more new words than watching a TV programme? And all that vocabulary helps them score higher on intelligence tests.

And in later life, flexing your brain muscle by getting to grips with a good story helps to improve brain function and slow mental decline.

Books Raise Empathy
Losing yourself in the fictional lives of others gives you a much greater insight into how others think and act. That empathy is a useful skill when it comes to navigating complex relationships in the real world.

Books Increase Analytical Skills
You know those racy thrillers and whodunits you love but are a little bit ashamed about reading? Don’t be - working your way through a complex plot to solve the mystery helps hone important analytical skills.

And by mentally critiquing the plot and characters, you’ll be sharpening those skills further. Useful if you’re a member of a book club.

Books Improve Concentration
You’re on Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. Or you just have to check your email and Skype your best friend. Stop. See that bookcase over there, full of tempting volumes? Choose one and give it your full attention.

You’ll soon find you’re immersed in the story and caught up with the characters. Feel the stresses and strains of the world flow away. Focus on the characters in a novel or the complex arguments in an article. Try reading on your commute for 15-20 minutes and you’ll be surprised how much more productive you are.

Books Reduce Stress
If you need to escape the pressures of the world, you don’t have to turn to a glass of wine. Open a book - a real book, with pages - and in just six minutes your heart rate slows and tension in your muscles will ease.
In fact, reading brings your stress levels down by 68% - that’s more than listening to music, having a cup of tea or going for a long walk.

Books Make You Creative
You’ll notice that the more you read, and the more you increase your vocabulary, the better your own self-expression will become. Absorbing different styles of writing - the rhythms and cadences of great fiction will inevitably influence you.

Books have an intrinsic beauty - from paperback cover art to a particularly skilful hardback binding. And what better way to display them than in a solid wood bookcase that showcases that beauty? There’s nothing as classy as having your own library of books on display.

Books Are the Best Entertainment
A local library is a wonderful thing, offering millions of stories to enrich your imagination for free. If you don’t have access to a library you can download millions of books for free to an e-reader.

Using your imagination to lose yourself in great writing is better than any movie. Your brain will thank you for it.

Having Fun with the Olympics

The Olympics are now in full swing, and I have been enjoying watching all of the excitement that is currently taking place in Rio. Even Leo has enjoyed watching GB bring home the medals and because of this I thought he would enjoy an Olympic based game. Leo absolutely loves his games (he's recently got his own laptop to help him with his school work!) so he has been spending a bit of time getting to know it. The games are helping him to navigate the keyboard and learn his away around, and of course I am on hand to aid him when he isn't sure. 

Last week I came across a new game that I knew would be a big hit with Leo, it's called Olly's Medal Run. It's a free arcade-sports game from Poki. Leo has used Poki in the past and he was really excited when I told him about this interesting Olympic game called Olly's Medal Run

In Olly’s Medal Run, you guide a cartoon athlete through a series of ever-changing obstacles that are known as “mini-games,” these include a variety of different sports that you can currently see on the Summer Olympic Games!  There is a swimming round, hurdling track, football match, and even a boxing ring, which thankfully is pretty tame!

Before starting the sports competition, there’s a very fun character selection screen, which Leo has been loving as it allows you to decide whether Olly is a boy or a girl. Then, you can try on a selection of different costumes that might just make you laugh the way that Leo chuckled when he saw the fluffy animal outfit! There is also a big maraca suit, and a sundae costume, not to mention the outfit’s colours change based on the country you choose. 

The mini-games start as soon as the game does and you flow through them all one by one, Leo's especially loving the boxing, but my favourite had to be the hurdles and the swimming. It's all very easy to do and the swimming mini-game requires you to press different buttons on the keyboard as you swim toward the gold! There's no time limit but you do need to keep Olly near the top by pressing the buttons pretty quickly (else he will sink towards the bottom and you will loose one your hearts!).
The hurdling is a bit trickier (this is why I personally liked it!), it means you have to be on the ball (or the hurdle as it is!) as you have to jump at the exact moment, which for the younger ones like Leo can sometimes be a bit trickier, but that being said, Leo was amazing at it.
The football mini-game is anther of Leo's favourites. He loves nothing more than having a kick about, and he liked that he could do it in the Olympic setting of Olly's Medal Run. You run Olly accross the pitch kicking every ball as you go!

The boxing game has you running along and punching the training machine, there's no gore or anything that could cause distress so it is absolutely fine for the younger children to have a play at.
If you really want to get in to the Olympic spirit, give Olly's Medal Run a go and see what you think. It's been a great distraction to Leo when I have to do the washing up or entertain our 9 week old Dalmatian Puppy! We loved the game and will be continuing to play when we want a quiet 5 minutes (which there have been quite a bit of over the last week since bringing our puppy home!).

Join your country’s squad in the game, or try to win gold for a different team!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Bringing Lux Home

Dalmatian Puppy

On Saturday we picked up Lux, our 8 week old Dalmatian Puppy. It was a long drive to Hull, 3 hours to be precise, and I was a little worried how he would cope on the way home. It was all going to be so foreign to him after he had spent his first months of life with his Mum, brothers and sisters, and now he was being taken by people he didn't know and leaving everything that he knew behind him, and on top of that he had to be in the car for a lot longer than I would have liked.

We arrived just after 10am (after one very early morning) and seeing him again after a month, it was incredible to see just how much he had grown. He was bigger, stronger, more active and his spots were becoming so much more defined. You could see it was Lux though because of the markings on his face and the two love hearts on his left ear. He was immediately placed into my arms and we sorted out the paperwork, food and payment with the breeder. 

Back in the car on our homeward journey, he was such a fidget and about 10 minutes in I looked down at my lap and faced the biggest pile of dog sick I had ever set my eyes on. He hadn't even made a sound as he had done it, and thankfully it didn't have any particular odor to it! Luke pulled the car over and we sorted it all out (thankfully I had already put the pet cover on the back seat!). We set off with strategically placed puppy pads throughout the back of the car, just in case I had to catch any other bodily fluids along the way (which of course I did!).

Dalmatian Puppy

Lux went to sleep for the majority of the journey and did so well, we stopped at a service station so Luke could grab some food and a drink but I didn't feel like eating after the earlier incident... So I sat in the car and gave Lux some water to keep him hydrated. He couldn't get enough of it and had drank the entirety in a matter of seconds.

Upon getting home we let him stretch his little legs and introduced him to some of his toys, and soon enough he was running around like the mad man that we now know that he is! Lux loves his toy balls and chases them all over the front room, he chews on anything and everything particularly loving his chew toys (and now has a new love of playing tug!).

Over the last 5 days we have watched him start to show us his personality, and already I can tell you that we have a real character on our hands. Lux is absolutely beautiful, he plays brilliantly with Leo and he is already a much loved member of the family (Even Luke secretly likes him despite what he may tell you!).

Dalmatian Puppy

Dalmatian Puppy

Since we brought Lux home he has destroyed 1 large house plant (they can only tolerate so much pulling and swinging from their branches!), he's pooed and weed on the laminate flooring more times than I can recall (his best game is to run up and steal the toilet roll as your mopping the floor, or to run off with the puppy pads!) but everyday he has been getting that little bit more confident and comfortable with us and that is just lovely to see, he's even getting pretty good with using the puppy pads now!

As for sleep, he has been pretty amazing from the get go. So many people told me I was crazy for bringing a puppy into our lives, told me they were more work than a newborn baby, and their reaction was even more priceless when they discovered it was going to be a Dalmatian Puppy! As for that theory though, he woke up once on the first and second night at 2:30am, going straight back to sleep after a little fuss. Then on the 3rd and 4th night he slept straight through, not a peep was heard from him. 

Dalmatian Puppy

Dalmatian Puppy
40 Winks Grey & Cream Snuggle Plush
He's a real playful little guy, he has a mad half hour and then conks out for the next few having a nice long snooze, and that's exactly what he is doing right now. Which is precisely how I can sit here and write this post, because he also likes to chew on the laptop... I currently have his lovely Rosewood Pets 40 winks bed in the wash, as yesterday I witnessed him stand and pee in it... So he is currently sleeping by my feet. 

Dalmatian Puppy
Meaty Chicken Takeaway Bone
Tough Twist Textured Fish
Lux cannot go outside just yet as he has only had his first set of injections, which Leo and I took him along too on Monday. We will be taking him back for the second lot on the 22nd August and then a week after that he can start to venture outside, and that will of course open up new ways to start wearing this cheeky pup of ours out and help him sleep! 

Dalmatian Puppy

Disclaimer: Lux was sent a selection of items from Rosewood Pets in exchange for monthly pupdates.

Female Hair Loss and Transplants

Female Hair Loss and Transplants

A woman’s hair can be her crown and glory, and it’s not uncommon for thousands of pounds to be spent maintaining it over the course of a lifetime.
There can be a number of reasons behind female hair loss; from lack of adequate nutrition and stress, to traction alopecia or hormonal imbalances. Whilst hair restoration is a good option for nearly 90% of the balding men, women can also benefit from hair transplant procedures. .
Are You a Good Candidate?
Hair loss in a woman should never be considered "normal"; however, the cause should be pursued until a diagnosis is established. The women who tend potential candidates for surgical hair restoration are:
  • Women who have suffered hair loss due to mechanical or traction Alopecia (non- hormonal)
  • Women with alopecia marginalis, a condition that looks very similar to traction alopecia.
  • Women who have a distinct pattern of baldness, similar to that of male pattern baldness. This includes:
    • hairline recession
    • vertex thinning
    • A donor area that is not affected by androgenetic Alopecia
  • Women who have had previous cosmetic or plastic surgery and are concerned about hair loss around the incision sites.
  • Women who suffer hair loss due to trauma, including burn victims, scarring from accidents and chemical burns.
The most common reason why a woman would not be a great candidate for a hair transplant would be because they don’t suffer with pattern baldness.
If you do suffer however, and for the other aforementioned reasons, then you may benefit from this procedure.
The U- FUE method for women
Hair transplant clinics such as the renowned Crown Clinic is one of a few clinics that can perform the U-FUE hair transplant. The U simply stands for unshaven or undetectable. A traditional FUE hair transplant is performed with the donor area shaved to have access to the maximum number of hairs possible to harvest. The U-FUE however, is next advancement in the treatment of hair loss.
The walk-in, walk-out method which requires no hospital stay and leaves no visible scarring, works through the extraction of individual follicles from a donor area which are then transplanted one-by-one into the area that needs to be treated.
With a regular FUE transplant, a small section of the back or side of the scalp is shaved to obtain the donor hair follicles.
With an U- FUE, this is eliminated entirely; making it perfect for those with longer hair. Patients can keep their original hair in the same style and length both during and after the procedure, meaning it is entirely undetectable.
The Result
A professional and skilled surgeon will only agree to perform the treatment if they believe the final result will be beneficial to your needs.

Transplantation is the only way to restore hair in areas that have lost their follicles completely, providing your donor areas is acceptable to harvest.  If it is the case, then your surgeon will be able to perform an undetectable transplant.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Top tips when buying a used car


Buying a used car is a great way to cut the cost of driving, car's are one of the most expensive assets that you will ever own, but by waiting a few years for the price of a new car to depreciate, you can reap the rewards at a much more attractive price tag.

Growing up my Father always had a BMW and this was a tradition he carried forward each time he purchased a new car. They were never brand new, they were a few years old when he purchased them and it was he who taught me that you can still get what you want, even if you don't get it right away. 

When buying a used car it is important to take the time to do your research and make sure that you know you are purchasing a sound car


These top tips below are aspects that we should all consider when we look to purchase a new motor.

Budget ahead
What is your budget? Will you be looking to finance it or pay it out right? Get your financial details together before you start viewing so that you know what ££££ you have to play around with, and you can look at cars that fit your price bracket.

Get insurance quotes and check car tax rates before you make any decisions.

Put in brand and model research
Know ahead of time what brand and model you are going to look for so that you can compare price guides, and have the heads up on any known issues or common faults with a particular brand/model.

Only view cars during the day
This goes without saying, as if you view the car after night fall or in adverse weather conditions you will not be able to check the motor out fully and may miss damage to the bodywork or other problems that may be lurking. Make sure you can see the vehicle in it's entirety before moving forward. 

Service History
All cars need work completing on them at one point or another, so owners of the car should have collected an array of garage bills for work, parts, past MOT Certificates and annual services. 

- If there is no service history, ask why.
- Does it look like there is an issue that has not been resolved?
- Does the history correspond with the vehicle in front of you?

V5C Registration document

You should insist on viewing the V5C Vehicle Registration Document, this document shows who the registered keeper is and not the legal owner. This will be able to show you whether the present keeper is in fact the person selling you the car.

The V5C shows all of the details of the previous owners too, so if you really wanted to do your homework you could potentially contact them to find out more about when they owned the car, as previous owners have no vested interest so their comments will be truthful and honest.

MOT Certificate 

If you know the vehicles registration number and have the document reference on the V5C then you can actually check the MOT status and history online right back to 2005. 


Test Drive

The test drive is your only opportunity to put the car through it's paces before you decide to make the purchase or not. Driving the car will make or break a deal and is the perfect time to check the car's general mechanical condition and to find out for sure if it's the car for you.

- How does the engine sound?
- Is it jumpy or smooth?
- Is the driving position comfortable?
- Can you operate all of the controls easily?
- Do the child seats fit?
- Does the pushchair fit in the boot?

Monday, 1 August 2016

Long Distance Driving

Dalmatian Puppy

This coming weekend we make the 3 hour drive back to Hull to collect our new family addition, Lux, our Dalmatian Puppy. I cannot wait to get in the car early on Saturday morning, because it means we are one step closer to bringing our little best friend home and the fun can commence. Along with the excitement of picking him up, I am also slightly nervous about my car on such a long drive, it has been known to be unreliable at times, and of course setting out on such a long drive can sometimes make you paranoid to every bump in the road or unusual noise.

I have been known to drive along with the radio turned down as low as it will go, and just listening intently to each and every whirl of the motor. That's not how driving should be, those long jaunts in the car shouldn't be stressful, you should be able to trust in your car to get you from point A to point B without the engine over heating and spurting water all over the place or the tyre popping until you are literally running on the metal...

Mini Cooper S Convertible 2005

Yes both of these instances have happened (in the past 12 months within 2 weeks of one another...).

I have been thinking about my future car plans for once I finally break ties with my Mini (Which through all of the car troubles has been a much loved car). I sort of feel like the my Mini Cooper S was a car I needed to have for a short part of my life, just once. Sort of like a mid life crisis in the sense that it worked for us but realistically is completely impractical. If I had gone on to have another baby in that time frame I would have been locked into the finance deal, and I would have had no room for a pushchair and only 4 seats within the car. Of course now we are bringing Lux into the fold, I am going to have to cover my leather seats with some protective covers to stop him clawing the leather. 

Of course all of these factors feed into what I actually need and expect from my next car, and only 2 years after collecting my Mini, my requirements have completely matured. I now want and need something that is more realistic than small and sporty. I need a larger, more recent car with great boot space, with the potential to have a dog guard and of course still have room for a pushchair (because one day this will need to be essential). 

I haven't narrowed down the complete selection yet, but I am thinking of a few brands that I think have the possibilities to meet my over all needs:

- VW
- Ford
- Kia

On Saturday we will be hitting the road early so we can arrive in West Yorkshire with plenty of time to spare, we will be cruising down the motorway hoping for a straightforward drive with no hidden adventures in store for us. We will make all the essential checks before we leave to eliminate anything that we can prevent going wrong, and we will bring our little pup home. 

The count down is on.

Dalmatian Puppy

Friday, 29 July 2016

Are you ready to move into your Newcastle Student House? What to do!

Newcastle University

There is a lot to do when you move into your Newcastle student house - here's our checklist to help you out!
1) Make a plan in advance -There is nothing worse than not having a plan for an event like this. When moving house, you want everything to be as stress free as possible. Maybe you can your family and friend if they can lend a hand? If there's a few of you moving together, it could be worth hiring a van so you can do it all in one trip!

2) Paperwork - Moving is stressful, before you move into your house it is vital you make sure that all paperwork is complete and all fee and rent payments have been made. If you're in a group, make sure every single one of you have completed everything - if just one person is missing one payment or piece of paperwork we won't give out any keys at all until everything is 100% complete!

3) Collecting the keys - Check with your agent or landlord if there is a certain time you have to collect your keys. At Walton Robinson it must be after 3pm and you must call up and make an appointment in advance. Speak to your housemates about when they're moving in, the first person to come to the office can collect all the keys for each tenant.

4) Know your point of contact - When you collect your keys make sure you are given the number and email address of the person you need to contact if there are any issues with the property, and if there is a separate number for out of hours’ emergencies. This will either be the landlord or, if your property is managed by Walton Robinson, your property supervisor. You can also find details here if WR manage your property. We also appoint a lead tenant, someone who is our point of contact for when we need to inform you about viewings and inspections.

5) Inventory - You will be given an inventory when you move in, either from Walton Robinson or the landlord. Make sure you know the deadline for returning the completed inventory (with WR it is seven days) and that you pay close attention to every item and make any corrections that may be necessary. This will help when it comes to moving out and getting your deposit back at the end of the tenancy.

6) Utilities & Bills- You will be asked to record meter readings on your inventory form. Keep a note of them as you will need this information when creating new utilities accounts. If you need any help with this, call your property supervisor and they will be happy to help.

7) Council Tax -  Students are exempt from paying council tax but you will need to inform the council of your exemption status or you will be sent a bill. Download the form here.

8) Summer Arrangements - If you're moving your things in but not actually living there over the summer, let your landlord or agent know. This bit's obvious but remember to switch the heating and any plugs off before you leave and make sure you don't leave any valuables on display! You never know who might be peaking in.

Good luck with your move in day from the full Walton Robinson team!