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!

The Unsung Heroes: Useful Inventions We Use Everyday

Unsung Heroes

Every day, we take things for granted. We don’t stop to marvel at the technology in our smartphones, or pause to think about the work that went into developing the materials that our cars are made of. But, every once in a while, it’s nice to actually give some thought to the unsung heroes that make our lives so much easier. Here are just a handful…

Seat belts
Granted, we all know how important seatbelts are (so it’s not as though they’re ‘unsung’ in the traditional sense), but did you know that the seatbelt you’ll use today has had a major remodel since it was first invented? Hunter Shelden was a neurosurgeon who realised that the major head trauma that passengers were experiencing in accidents was actually made worse by the current seatbelts of the time. In 1959, he revolutionised seat belts and made them so much safer than they used to be: it’s now estimated that seat belts save around 2,000 lives a year in the UK alone – something to thank Hunter Shelden for when you next buckle up!

Have you ever given any thought to those little swivelling wheels that are fixed to the base of furniture? Probably not, but if you’ve ever tried to move a heavy item without castors, you’ll have lamented their absence! Castors are useful in an incredibly diverse range of industries, from manufacturing to fire departments, airports and offices. Take hospitals for example: can you imagine beds, bedside tables, computer carts and IV poles without castor wheels fixed to the bottom of each of these vital pieces of equipment? Suppliers such as Tente castors provide wheels to all these industries and are probably one of the biggest unsung heroes on this list.

Infrared ear thermometers
As recently as twenty-five years ago, temperatures were taken by mercury thermometers. Unfortunately, these thermometers were difficult to read and highly poisonous if the thermometers broke. So, one clever company took advantage of the technology that NASA was producing to measure the temperature of stars from afar. Infrared sensors allow a sick patient to have a thermometer placed in their ear to give an accurate, safe reading in less than a couple of seconds, making medical diagnosis and treatment so much easier than it ever used to be.

Safety razors

Before the safety razor, a single, straight bare blade had to be used to remove unwanted hair. As you might imagine, this took a lot of skill to use and could have life-threatening results if you slipped (which is why men would visit the barbers to have their beads shaven). However, in the early 1900s, King Camp Gillette had the clever idea of putting a couple of blades together and adding a handle – a design that was widely used by American troops in World War 1. Later in the 1970s, the blades were embedded into disposable plastic so that razors were safer and easier for the public to use. So, next time you’re grooming from the comfort of your own home, think how much work has been done over the last hundred years to give you a close and comfortable shave!

A Guide to Hosting the Ultimate Summer Garden Party

the Ultimate Summer Garden Party
Summer is all about soaking up the sun, fresh air and catching up with friends. There is no better way to do this than with your very own summer garden party. To ensure that it is the highlight of the summer and a party that your guests will be talking about for weeks to come, there are a few ways to make it the ultimate party. Even those with a limited space can still transform their garden and create a fantastic space for socialising with a few of these tips.

Tidy and Decorate
The first step will involve sprucing your backyard, which could include trimming the grass, picking up foliage and perhaps introducing new plants and flowers. Next, you will want to decorate to create a fun and happy atmosphere. Bunting is perfect for the garden, but you could also consider fairy lights in the trees, colourful paper chains, balloons, vintage linen and pretty tablecloths. This can be furthered with vintage china and flowers in jars on the tables to inject vibrant colour.

Social Areas
You will want a large outdoor table and chairs, as this allows your guests to sit down and eat. Also, a head table can also be a great place to keep food and drinks. In addition to this, you may want to have a few other smaller tables throughout the garden if space allows. There should also be seating in various places and blankets on the grass; this encourages your guests to spread out and enjoy your entire garden. This is also a great way to further decorate your backyard with colourful and comfortable areas. Candles or fairy lights will allow you to continue being outdoors once the sun goes down.

Food and Drink
No classic summer garden party is complete without strawberries, cream and sandwiches. These can be great light snacks, but you may also want to consider a BBQ so that your guests do not go hungry. Pimms, white wine and beer are also great summer drinks, but for a unique and special touch, you could also have personalised miniatures to celebrate the occasion. These can be placed on tables throughout the garden and offer your guests something a bit different to drink. These are available from specialists, with Just Miniatures being a good example.

Music is a must for any party, but you may also want to consider fun and games to keep your guests entertained. There are all sorts of excellent garden games to consider, including bowls, croquet, ring toss and badminton.

Incorporating these ideas into your summer garden party will help it to be a huge hit and have your guests raving about the party for weeks to come. 

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Year 1 Transition

School Sport Day

Children learn in many different ways and it's worth remembering that each and every child is very different. What works for one child, may not work in the same way for another, and that's one thing that being a parent to Leo has highlighted to me over the past couple of years. 

Describing Leo is always such a complex account, because he's so kind and is always thinking about other people and how their actions will effect them. He's considerate, emphatic and just down right beautiful. He just shines, he truly sparkles and he models amazing behavior (usually....) and he is always a joy to have around with that contagious giggle that he shares so freely. That same little boy though is head strong and down right stubborn. He has selective hearing and only picks up the information that interests him, and that same little boy is struggling with school.

We are at the end of reception year now, and he is not reading. He is not where all of the other children are and I know that year 1 is going to bring it's very own set of challenges to accompany those that have already been highlighted in the last 12 months. Leo is aware that the work load is about to get more demanding, and he is worried about how tricky it is going to be, but at the same time he is also so excited about his new class and his new teacher. As much as he worries, he is also excited, and it has already been decided that he is going to have a varied curriculum from his peers. Leo's curriculum will  work with him to ensure that he is supported and guided so that he can achieve to his fullest potential, and the school have been absolutely fantastic in putting everything into place for him. 

School Sport Day

Leo loves to be outside and the school  have realised that he responds better in a learning scenario when it is more hands on and structured in a way that helps to keep his mind where it is supposed to be. Leo loves Forest School as this is a chance for him to get outside and learn through a fun approach, that to Leo doesn't feel to pressured and is out of the confines of the class room. I absolutely love that the school are willing to provide Leo with these varied learning techniques, and getting him outside to complete mathematics with raw materials like acorns and leaves is such a fantastic, natural way to help him come on in leaps and bounds.

I personally think that getting outside and making the most of the natural resources is an essential part of learning, because not only does it aid the theoretical part of the learning process, but it provides an essential knowledge of the great outdoors that can only truly be picked up through getting out there and getting your hands dirty. 

Rope Swing Forest of dean

Learning and development outdoors contributes to the over all development of children and encourages them to develop and maintain life long skills such as problem solving, team work and boosts their confidence while offering endless imaginative play opportunities. 

Towards the end of the Summer term, I was invited into the school to watch the entire school participate in Sports Day, and I was so looking forward to seeing my little man take part in the event. He gave it his absolute best shot, and I was so proud to watch him running, jumping and throwing his way through each of the activities. 

School Sport Day

Leo may have found the last 12 months challenging, and he may have so many hurdles to jump over the coming months ahead, but he will do so with the complete support of myself, his Father and his entire school. We all only want the very best for him, and as long as he tries his best and keeps on smiling, then everything else will fall into place as it is supposed to.

For now though, we are enjoying the Summer holiday and have lot's of exciting things planned!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Top Tips when Searching for a New Career

New Career

When searching for a new job, people tend to give you so much conflicting advice it can be difficult to know the best approach to take. Whether that’s by looking online, doing work experience at a company you’d like to work for or directly approaching your desired company, there are so many different avenues you can go down. Despite the confusion, there are some failsafe ways to get a new job. Check out our top tips to follow to help you in your search:

Personalise your CV for each Role
Something everyone will tell you that is essential is to update your CV and its true. Your CV is the most direct way to impress employers and needs to showcase all your skills and abilities for a particular role. Make sure you get a friend or family member to proof read yours as any spelling mistakes or errors can instantly give employers a bad impression and reflect poorly on you.

Look at alternative options
If you’re feeling unhappy in your current job, you might need a complete career change rather than just a new job. Often it can be hard to identify whether or not it’s the company you work for that’s making you unhappy or the responsibilities of your role. Looking at alternative career options that could be more rewarding like nursing or teaching, could prove to be exactly what you’re looking for and completely change your life.

Be prepared for interviews
Once you start job hunting it’s likely you’re going to get calls from the jobs you’ve applied for wanting to arrange interviews or have a quick chat with you over the phone. You need to be prepared for this within your current job and have enough holiday days to take a day off for an interview at short notice. As well as having the holiday days, you need to have a smart outfit at hand and a portfolio of your work or some examples of the great work you’ve been doing to demonstrate at an interview.

Go the extra mile

If you really want a job, doing some work experience with that particular company can be really helpful and gives you an opportunity to get your foot in the door. Sometimes bagging the opportunity to do some work experience or an internship can be just as tough as getting the job itself, so be prepared to be persistent. 

Monday, 25 July 2016

Summer Garden Deco Ideas for Small Gardens

Summer Garden Deco Ideas for Small Gardens

Are you thinking that the only garden worth having on a hot summer’s day is a large one? Think again. There’s actually plenty that you can do with a small outdoor space – whether you’ve a rabbit pen of a garden in a busy city centre, a rooftop terrace, or a teeny tiny square in a row of houses, it’s perfectly possible to create an area that feels lovely to spend time in. Get it right (using these summer garden decorating ideas), and you’ll feel recharged, relaxed and reluctant to move from your spot ever again!

Avoid the waiting room look
When you have a small space, the overwhelming temptation is to take plants and position them around the perimeter of your garden. While this might feel like you’re saving space, you’re actually just highlighting the boundaries that you’re living within, and creating that same effect you get with doctors waiting rooms.

Vary the heights of plants and position them all over the garden – including in the centre – and you’ll create a lots of depth and interest. It’s up to you how much you fill it (though the ‘jungle’ look is a very cool idea!), but consider ‘zoning’ bits of furniture as you would in an open plan living room. Doing so will mean your small garden is functional as well as beautiful.

Move the inside out…
You could take a leaf out of Abigail Ahern’s book and take the indoors outside by moving furniture out of your home and in to your garden. She recommends making sure your outdoor furnishings fit with your garden, and that you keep up a strong sense of continuity between the indoor and the outdoor to enhance the sense of space.

For example, if you have a garden bursting with lush, green foliage, add a little to the top of your kitchen cupboards to suggest that the two spaces are linked: this will make your small garden feel much bigger!

Welcome wildlife
Another misnomer with small gardens is that you have to use it for just one thing: just entertaining, just drying the laundry or just creating a haven for wildlife. Well, that’s not true. Consider buying furniture that you can pack away in a shed when you’re not using it, and hang a washing line from one wall to a fence or pole to retract it whenever it’s not in use.

And, while you probably don’t have space to dig a pond or keep hives of bees, you could install a bird feeder or two to encourage birds to come and spend some time in your garden. There are are range of feeders on offer from the likes of Wild Bird Feeders, ranging from decorative pieces so that you can keep within your decorative scheme, to squirrel-proof feeders to stop unwanted pests stealing those lovely seeds…a real consideration in small, city gardens!

So, as you can see, there’s plenty that you can do with a small garden! It doesn’t have to be restrictive, and in fact there are actually lots of benefits to having a small plot… they’re often much easier to maintain than larger gardens, your gardening products will stretch further with less land to deal with, and a small space might even encourage you to be far more creative than you otherwise might. Enjoy yours this summer!  

Friday, 22 July 2016

How To Keep Your Prized Possessions Safe

How To Keep Your Prized Possessions Safe

We all have possessions that we’d be devastated to lose, either because they have sentimental value to us or are actually worth a quid or two. But how do we keep them safe? Ideally we would have them on us at all times, keeping them in sight to know they are safe, but this wouldn’t be very practical, would it? Instead, you could find them a hiding place so safe that not even you can remember where you last saw a belonging. No good either?  Consider these ideas instead…

The first thing to do is make sure you have insurance. Unfortunately, this won’t replace the ring left to you by your late Grandma, but it will guarantee that expensive items are replaced or compensated for if they are damaged or stolen. Make sure you keep your insurance details handy incase you need to contact your insurer.    

Security when out and about
There are some valuables that we will take out and about with us such as phones, cameras, laptops and so on. Make sure these are security marked as this will make it harder for thieves to sell on and easier for the police to return to you if they are found. You can also record details of your prized possessions here. Don’t leave items unattended, and try not to display them too overtly if you want to avoid them being taken in the first place.

Security at home
Your most prized possession could be something you have on display in your home. Of course, you’ll be reluctant to hide a beloved item away just to make sure it’s safe…else what’s the point in owning it?! But, you do want it to be secure, so consider your home as a first line of defense.

Houses without security measures in place are five times more likely to be burgled than those with simple security measures. Install a visual burglar alarm and a security light, hide all keys out of sight, and keep keys away from letter boxes. Lock all doors and windows whenever you leave the property too.

If you leave the house for any length of time, leave radios and lights on a timer to make the property appear occupied, and remember to remove any valuables from the view of ground floor windows.

Clever home storage
There are many ways to keep your belongings safe within your home with clever storage, such as this product which looks like a dictionary and would fit seamlessly into your bookshelf. It actually secretly stores irreplaceable possessions!

Alternative Storage
Whilst you might want to store some things in your home, you can get storage outside of the home as well. Storage facilities store your items safely and securely – providing 24/7 CCTV security to give you peace of mind and round the clock access so that you can access your items whenever you want to.

There is no way to guarantee that your prized possessions will never get lost, stolen or damaged. However, implementing the ideas above should give you a much better chance of keeping them safe. 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

How to Afford Your Dream Car On a Budget

Mini Cooper S

There are often moments when many of us yearn for our dream car. Maybe it’s when our old banger refuses to budge from the drive in the morning, or when you pull up in the car park next to the boss’ shiny new motor. Whatever we own, the likelihood is that our car is something that we’d love to upgrade. It’s why 3,000 National Lottery-winning millionaires have splashed a collective £460 million on cars.

But you don’t have to win the lottery to afford your dream car. Here are some tips to help you achieve your dream on a budget…

Budget properly
There are two important elements to affording your dream car on a budget: your dream and your budget. Your dream is an emotional decision based on the car that you’d love to be able to drive.

The budget, however, is something that you can work out and improve. Go through your finances with a fine tooth comb. Weed out any unnecessary expenses, trim any bills that you can and make sure you’re fully aware of the disposable income and savings that you have to play with. By making some cuts here you may well free up vital funds that can go towards your ideal motor.

Then you need to work out the cost of your dream – not forgetting the £3,500-a-year running costs this entails – and come to a proper, thorough conclusion about the gap, if any, between your budget and the cost of your dream.

Search for a bargain
Patience and persistence should be your watchwords. Be prepared to wait until the right car comes along with the right deal for your budget. That might take many months, but it’ll be worth the wait.

Also, search as far and wide as you can. Look at dealerships and private sellers and be prepared to travel. What’s 50 or 60 miles if it means landing on your dream vehicle?

Consider all financial options
Weighing up all of your options refers to finance as well as places to buy your dream car. Don’t think that you have to take up the finance packages offered by dealers. A personal loan might offer you a lower rate and be a better option for your circumstances. Borrowing at an interest rate that is two or three per cent lower could save you a lot over the course of your agreement.

Lease don’t buy

The type of seller and finance package are important, as is the form your ownership of the vehicle takes. Leasing a car can be a great way to get access to your dream car, without the need for a big up front cost. It’s also great if you know you’re the type of person who is likely to want a very different dream car in just two or three years as technology and tastes change. Lease Car illustrates this with the example of an £18,000 car. It shows how buying this requires you to find that £18,000 upfront (or more over the course of the loan). In three years this car might well be worth about half of its original price. By leasing for £250 a month you’d spend just half of the price of the vehicle in three years, with maintenance and MOT costs covered and no need to keep a depreciated asset.

How To Maximise Storage In Your Small Home

Small home

Does it feel like the walls are closing in on you?  If you live in a small home, then it probably does.

Perhaps you have finally saved enough money to get on the property ladder but, due to high house prices, you have had to sacrifice space in order to own your first home. Or maybe you are renting in the capital city in a studio apartment where your bed is practically next to the oven or, even worse you have a cupboard for a room.

Either way, you need to maximise storage in your small home – giving you the space and organisation that you need – to avoid becoming stressed and claustrophobic as the space gets smaller and smaller.

Here are some ideas for doing this…

Multi-functional and foldaway furniture 

The bedroom is often the room that needs the most storage, but has the least amount of space for putting things away. Your bed takes up a huge amount of the room, doesn’t it? Simply swap your current one for an ottoman and you suddenly have a lot more storage space in this room. These beds lift up to reveal a large storage space; perfect for anything you need to tidy away.

Likewise, there are other items around the home that can double up as storage – such as tables and seating. Alongside this you can get items that fold away when you aren’t using them, such as kitchen tables, chairs and nests of tables. 

Think before you buy!

If you don’t have much space in your home then you need to think carefully before you buy anything. Do you really need it? Could you buy something similar that would also give you extra storage space?

Think vertically

In a small home you need to make sure you are making the most of the often wasted wall space, rather than the much needed floor space. This could be shelving or stacker boxes or something a bit quirkier such as side table that hangs from the ceiling.  

Clear stacker boxes

Clear stacker boxes are perfect for storage because you can see what is in them without having to rummage through them all each and every time you need something. Plus, you can easily add to them whenever you need to.

Think outside the box

When it comes to storage you can get as inventive as you like – so think outside the box. Take this piece of art, for example, it is a great addition to your wall but it also opens up to reveal a large space, ideal to neatly organise all your jewellery.

Take advantage of storage outside of your home

While you are working out how to maximise the storage within your small home, have you considered using storage outside of the home to help? You can find storage providers across the UK, which will enable you to remove a large amount of your belongings from your home, without having to throw anything away.

You will be surprised how much space is actually hidden within your small home. 

Preparation is key

Mario Birthday Party

When it comes to organising an event, who you will invite and the guest list are only the very tip of the iceberg, there's the venue, music, tables, chairs and of course the food that will be served. So you have your list and you know exactly who will be joining you on your special occasion, but what are you going to feed all of these people? For me this is always the most stressful part. Do I attempt to cater it myself? Or do I hire someone to take the stress out of the situation so I can just sit back and enjoy the party?

Whatever you choose to do, it is always worth baring these general tips in mind to help you get the most out of your special occasion:

- Think about the different flavour combinations you want to present as people usually want to try a little bit of everything.

- Carefully select different colours and textures to create a full looking spread.

- Do as much as possible in advance as once the guests arrive, there will be plenty more to do!

- Be smart with your budget.

Mario Birthday Party

Over the years we have done it both ways, we have catered our own gatherings from my own 21st Birthday Party, through to Leo's Christening and most recently Leo's 5th Birthday Party, sometimes it is nice to play a hand in the catering and be able to take the credit when everyone loves the end result. Of course there are instances where you cannot cater the day yourself, and moments in time where you really just wouldn't want to, and then it is a necessity to bring someone in to do it all for you. cater for absolutely every occasion you could imagine, from weddings, holiday celebrations, corporate events, birthday parties, engagement parties or even a family reunion. They can create a menu that entails all of the details that you request, and really help you to achieve the objectives you have set for your event.

They do everything from:

- Canapes and Finger Food
- Breakfast, Morning and Afternoon Tea
- Fresh Fruit
- Sandwiches
- Lunch Packages and Salads
- Feasting Platters and Buffets
- Themed Stations
- Corporate Day Packages
- Cocktail Party Packages
- BBQs
- Sit Down Dining

Mario Birthday Party

When I was putting the preparation's for Leo's party last month, as much as I loved getting it all together and watching it all take shape, it took me a long time to get everything together. Of course seeing all of the children's excited faces when they saw all of the Mario bits and pieces made it all incredibly worth while, but it would have been nice to direct a catering service and being able to concentrate completely on the Birthday Boy!

However you choose to cater your event, it all comes down to what works for you. I know there are occasions where I just want to do these things for myself, just to see if I can pull it off. Take Leo's Birthday Cake for example, it was far from perfect, but I slaved over it for 2 days trying to get it right. I put all of that time and effort into it, and even though it wasn't the best cake in the world, he still absolutely loved it, and he loved it because he knew how much I had wanted to do it for him.

Friday, 15 July 2016

The MX Trixx Micro Scooter Review

Micro Scotter 3in1

All of those years ago when Leo had not long turned 1, Micro Scooter sent him his very first scooter. A Micro Scooter 3in1, a scooter that he still has to this very day. A scooter that has been a source of great fun and joy over the years, a scooter that has grown with Leo as he has grown. 

As they say though, all good things come to an end, and despite the scooter seeing him through to the age of 5 (and still has life left in it yet!), Leo has decided he now wants a 2 wheeled scooter to take him to that next level of scooting.

With this announcement though I suddenly realised that I had no clue about what to look for in a 2 wheeled scooter, was he even ready for 2 wheels? He had spent his entire life on 3 wheels and the 3in1 was such a great scooter that I just took it for granted that he would use it until the very end of time. I began looking online at the Micro Scooter website as I knew without a shadow of a doubt that we would be staying with the brand because of the quality of the products. You see both Leo and I have our own scooters and we often scoot into town together, it's safe to say that Micro Scooter has stolen both of our hearts.

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

If you are in the same position and are currently looking to upgrade the 3in1 Micro Scooter to the next level, then make sure to take a look at the Micro Scooter guides, I found this incredibly helpful in making the decision for Leo's new model, and finally I decided on the MX Trixx Scooter.

I chose this particular model because I thought it had the most potential to grow with him over the next few years. It is suitable from the age of 5 years old and should see him through until he is 12 years old, I took into consideration that he might very well want to learn some new tricks on it eventually, and as we have a skate park so close to home, I thought that opting for a light weight aluminium model, it is an option that we can explore together as and when he wants too. While it has the capabilities of a stunt scooter, it is also perfect for the school run or trips into town, which was an essential feature for me as Leo absolutely loves to ride everywhere these days, it makes my life so much easier as he walks so incredibly slowly, and at least when he is on wheels I am the one trying to keep up with him!

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

In the past Leo has headed out on his scooter while I have opted to run along side him, it's been a great way to get out and complete my daily cardio while having Leo with me, We got some amazed looks as I jogged along side him scooting, but I like to think that they were pleased to see us out and being active together! In fairness though, I get some equally amazed looks when people see me out on my own Micro Scooter!

Leo has been using the MX Trixx Scooter since his birthday at the end of June, his face when he first saw it was the most amazing thing. All he had been asking for was a new 2 wheeled scooter, he had told me that now he was turning 5 he was a big boy and he NEEDED a new scooter. As we are in the process of preparing for a move, I told him that we would look into a new scooter once everything else was sorted, but secretly in the background was working on the grand unveiling of the MX Trixx!

5th Birthday

The scooter was easy to put together, and the night before Leo's birthday, his Granddad put it together for me so I could get it wrapped up. I wrapped it so he could guess exactly what was inside it, and that next morning when he walked into the lounge, his face was a picture. Leo could not have been any more excited than he was in that very moment. In fact as soon as all the paper was torn away, he insisted that we both go outside in our PJs and ride around on our scooters. 

Leo took to two wheels like a duck out of water, and we haven't looked back. Leo is so over the moon about his new stunt scooter, and when we scooted to the park last weekend, he insisted that we have a look at the skate park for the first time. I haven't been to the skate park since I was in high school (In fact that is when they opened the skate park!) and I was amazed to see the stunts that all of these young boys were performing.

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

Leo stood and watched in awe at the bigger kids as they rode up the half pipe before placing the scooter plate on the rim at the top, before jumping it back up and rolling back down at serious speed! You could see the admiration in Leo's eyes and he told me how cool he thought these boys were, what was really lovely was that these same boys saw how interested Leo was, and they saw he had his own scooter and they told him how to get started. They told him that they weren't much older than him when they first started scooting around the skate park.

This vote of confidence was all Leo needed to start scooting around the bottom of the half pipe, and he has decided that he wants to start learning a little more and getting his confidence built up. We have been back to the skate park since this and for the moment Leo is perfectly contented scooting around the bottom of the ramps and watching the bigger boys as they do their flips and scarily amazing stunts!

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

MX Trixx Micro Scooter

The next thing we will have to look into is some brand new protective gear for him, because there is no way he is doing anything without the appropriate gear!

Disclaimer: We were provided with the MX Trixx Scooter for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Is the current UK Financial Education Enough?

Everyone needs to be able to manage their money, but for young people the inability to do so has serious consequences. For them, it is easier to fall into debt, be scammed, make uninformed decisions and establish bad money habits.
New research from icount shows that the majority of British adults think that children should learn the value of money from age 5; however, in the UK, financial education starts at age 11.
What is financial education?
Financial education is a programme of study that aims to equip young people with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to manage their money well. 
The idea behind teaching financial education as part of the national curriculum is to encourage children to make smarter financial decisions as they get older and have more money to manage.
The majority of the UK’s adult population never received any money management lessons
Why do we need financial education?
The shift towards an increasingly cashless society, and more financial products and services than ever before, is making it harder for young people to navigate their personal finances and make good decisions where money is concerned.
Financial education became part of the national curriculum in September 2014 which means that every child since that date will have had some form of money management training.
Should we be teaching children about money sooner?
The new study from icount showed that just 10% of parents think that age 11 is early enough to learn the value of money. It does seem bizarre when you consider that nearly 25% of GCSE maths papers contain questions with a financial context, with words such as VAT and APR; terms children have never been educated about.
How can you teach your children about money?
As the national curriculum is only compulsory for around half of schools; the rest are academies or free schools, therefore they don’t need to follow it.
Involving your children in some of the decisions you make about money is one really easy way to help develop the right financial behaviours for the future. For example, you could sit them down and show them how you budget the weekly food shop and ask them to have a go.

Another great way is prepaid cards. Most children’s bank accounts come with a debit card, but the worry is that they can spend all of the money in the account. Prepaid cards let you load cash on them and spend anywhere credit or debit cards are accepted. They're good to get if you want to help teach teenagers how to spend responsibly. If you haven’t loaded money onto it, you can’t spend it, forming a safe barrier.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Raw Food for Dalmatians

Dalmatian low purine food

July and August are two very expensive months in this household this year. It seems that everything always happens together, and as I prepare for a move that should begin to happen next week, I have suddenly realised that my car tax is about to expire and I have that on my plate too. If a move and a rather expensive car tax in the region of £300 for the year are not enough to contend with, you may have also seen that I am finally getting the puppy of my dreams.

I have wanted a dog for as long as I can remember, right from a young girl, my own dog has always stolen the top spot on my Christmas list, but it was never going to happen because my family have always had cats. I swore to myself that one day, when I was in a position to take on a puppy, then that is exactly what I was going to do. 

As with anything puppies and dogs are not cheap, they come with a price tag that extends far past the initial cost of buying a puppy. Puppies need their jabs, they need microchipping, they need defleaing and deworming on a monthly basis, and they need to eat multiple times a day. Taking on a dog is not a cheap thing to do, but oh my is it worth it. I am not sparing any expense when it comes to making sure this pup has everything he needs, and I am considering cash lender Vivus to pay the annual pet insurance off in one lump sum.

We pick Lux up on the 6th August and I cannot wait to bring him home. We have picked a Dalmatian Puppy, and that alone has caused some people to think I am crazy (more so than usual). Dalmatians have an array of health issues, some that can be levitated by the diet that they eat, other's such as deafness which of course is a life long commitment.

I have spent the last few months researching the Dalmatian breed, and when I say researching I mean extensive. I know what I am taking on, one of the ways in which I am demonstrating this knowledge is by making the executive decision to stay well away from manufactured dog food. The reasoning behind this is because I need to provide little Lux with a low purine diet, since it is the purines that have the potential to make him sick. 

Dalmatian low purine food

You see Dalmatians carry a genetic mutation that alters the way in which they metabolize and pass purines (Similar to gout). Purines are found in many foods, food that we all eat, but higher levels of purines are found in meats. Normally purines are broken down in this way: 
  1. Purines are converted to hypoxanthine.
  2. Hypoxanthine is converted to xanthine.
  3. Xanthine is converted to uric acid.
  4. Uric acid is converted to allantoin, which is excreted in the urine.
When some humans ingest foods high in purines, they develop gout or kidney stones. When some Dalmatians ingest those foods, they develop urinary stones and in particular those known as "purine" or "urate" stones.

Dalmatian low purine food

It is safe to say that the majority of the Dalmatian breed cannot perform step 4, which is exactly why their urine contains very high levels of uric acid. This might be enough to scare some people away from this beautiful breed, but I believe it is all about balance. I will be feeding Lux a range of home cooked meals that will all be lower in purines and high in protein. Some people seem to get confused and think that they need to withhold protein, but that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact refraining from including protein in their diet will do more damage than it will good. It's all about making conscious choices and opting for protein sources with lower purine content like chicken or turkey as opposed to liver and organ meats.

My aim is to essentially provide Lux with a clean eating diet for dogs, many people have opted to avoid the manufactured dog products for their Dalmatians, with the majority opting for a raw food diet that consists of raw meat. Now although I am going with this, I wont be letting Lux eat raw meat, I will prepare it and cool it so that I know it's cooked through for him. The meals will be consist of many things you don't usually associate with feeding dogs:

- Eggs - Hard boiled, scrambled
- Porridge
- Weetabix 
- Tuna
- Turkey
- Chicken
- Vegetables - Broccolli, Sweet Potato, Potato, Carrot
- Fruit - Apple

Dalmatian low purine food

It might all sound crazy, but realistically I think it's going to be really beneficial. You can of course buy specially made food for your Dalmatian but I fail to see the point, when you can provide everything you need without throwing all that money at a food that could be made out of pretty much anything. 

So that's my latest mission, clean eating for dog's! I might not be able to get my 5 year old to eat vegetables, but I don't think getting Lux to play ball is going to be to difficult.

I'll be sharing his eating with you all in the next month or so, and you can witness first hand how he is getting on!

Ageing is not for sissies

Back in March I said goodbye to a very special lady, my Great Aunt. I have such fond memories of growing up where she is at the very forefront of the smiles and the laughter, she was an incredibly strong and kind women who always had the time for her family. 

She kept her good humour and grace right up to her final moments on this earth, and continued to instill her pearls of wisdom, even now I can't help but smile when I think of the down right hilarious things she used to say, and I think it is only fitting that I share some of my favourite 'Awesome Audrey Quotes' with you today.

'I'm not deaf...I'm ignoring you'.

'Ever stop to think and forget to start again?'

'Spoiling the grandchildren? It's my job!'

'What if the 'Hokey cokey' really is what it is all aboout?'

'Trust me. At my age I'm an expert at everything'.

'Ageing is not for sissies'.

It's true, ageing really is not for sissies, but regardless of whether we are ready for it, growing old will come to all of us at some point in our lives, so it really is important to live the best life that we can. It's so beyond important to be ridiculously happy and smile through everything that has the power to make us feel inferior. They are the life lessons that my Great Aunt has taught me, because you truly do not know what is going to happen.

Audrey was diagnosed with Parkinson's over a decade ago, it followed a fall where she really injured herself, and as time progressed she was moved into the home where she spent the rest of her days. It was a lovely home and family was never far away because Audrey was and always will be the very heart of the family. It was essential to find a home where Audrey would be happy, because living on her own at the home she had always lived was no longer an option, she was falling more and  we had to look at the Bathing Solutions so that she was safe.

The last time I saw Audrey was in the hospital after a fall almost 4 years ago. I had Leo as a baby and I really wanted her to meet him, so I took him along with me. She couldn't lift her head very well now, so it was hard to hear what she was saying as she was almost looking directly down at her chest. I could see that she was pleased to meet little Leo, and the big smile said more than words could ever say.

2016 is almost like a new world, because for one of the first times ever, the senior generations are surpassing that of the youth. By 2050 the global population will be made up of 15.6% within the age range of 65+! The levels of care within the NHS and the standards of living mean that we are better equipped to help people, so even when they get sick we can offer a great quality of life. With people living longer than they have ever lived, we really do need to address the issue of how we as a society cast people aside once they reach a certain age. It happens, and we are all aware that it happens, but why does society often cast off it's seniors as 'incapable' or 'unable' to learn new skills?

Bathing Solutions are driving the Breaking Barriers campaign which aims to break those social barriers right down. It's high time people's mindsets matched the times and it's time to once and for all shake the stigma that has been hovering around. Who's to say when people 'should' retire? Who's to say that your too old to do 'that' job or go back to college?

Audrey was in her 80's when she passed away,  and she was right, ageing is not for sissies, but you really are only as old as you feel.