Thursday 29 October 2020

Learning to Live with Psoriasis

Photo by Anastasiia Ostapovych on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

Psoriasis is a little-known and sometimes taboo disease to suffer with, and I think that until you or someone close to you has it, your understanding on the profound impact it can have on a person's life is severely limited. 

About three or four years ago my son started to develop some red patches on his upper back and on his face, slowly they got bigger and then the skin started to thicken and it would look like he had white scales on him. This, of course, prompted a visit to our GP, who thankfully was wonderful and prescribed some steroid cream. After a couple of months without progress, she referred my son to a dermatologist to get an expert opinion.

After a few months wait we saw the dermatologist and he recommended that JJ wash with an emollient, moisturise twice a day and use more potent steroids on his patches of psoriasis, by this point, it had also spread to his upper arms. He also had to stay on the lower potency steroids for his face and make sure he had adequate breaks so his skin did not thin too much in this delicate area.

A skin biopsy was taken to check what type of psoriasis it is that my son has and it was thought that as he had skin damage (such as his teenage acne) the body was responding with rapid cell growth and he was ending up with psoriasis plaques (patches). Sadly over the last couple of years, it has progressed quite a lot and he now has psoriasis covering most of his body. Thankfully he doesn't seem too worried by it, but I know that as a 17-year-old lad it will only be a matter of time before he will wish it wasn't there!

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Foraging for Sweet Chestnuts in the UK

Guidance for the novice forager to help them pick, store and cook sweet chestnuts

October is the perfect time to head to your local woods and find a bounty of sweet chestnuts to enjoy both alone, or within sweet and savoury dishes. They really are very versatile and quite easy to prepare. Don't assume that foraging is just for the experienced person, all it means is searching for and using what nature has provided for us to eat. I suspect you've done it with blackberries before if nothing else!

Collecting your Sweet Chestnuts

The first thing you need to do is identify your sweet chestnut tree. You don't want to be trying to cook and eat conkers (the fruit of the horse chestnut) as they are mildly poisonous. You tend to find that conkers fall a bit earlier from the end of August through September and then sweet chestnuts fall more like the end of September and through to early November. Of course, this depends on the temperatures/ weather for that year. 

Tuesday 27 October 2020

The Many Reasons to Choose Amtico Flooring

Thanks to Floorbay for the image

{This is a collaborative post}

Reading this title, you might be thinking, how many reasons can there be?

Well, when choosing your new flooring you need to be assured that there are enough legitimate reasons on which to base your final decision and Amitco go above and beyond to show you why choosing this product for your home is a lifelong investment. By now, you may have already considered laminate and hardwood but perhaps they’re not quite fulfilling your expectations.

So, you’re in the right place to learn all about Amitco luxury vinyl flooring and why you should choose it over the alternatives.

Cost Friendly

A great starting point when renovating or upgrading your flooring is considering the financial implication. Authentic and natural materials such as wood and stone undoubtedly have the largest price tag in the flooring market, followed by high-quality engineered wood or laminate flooring. These all offer great style but what if there was an alternative that was more cost-effective and durable?

When looking at authentic luxury wood effect flooring options you also need to account for the installation costs and price of repair or replacement should the flooring become damaged or chipped in areas of heavy use. As you can see the original price you pay has the potential to increase and could increase even further based on your installation choice or added extras such as coating or underlay.

Luxury Amtico vinyl planks and tiles present great value when installed by an experienced fitter as they will last for decades. Amtico even comes with a 20 year UK residential guarantee that it will tolerate regular foot traffic and not wear out. 

Monday 26 October 2020

COVID Cleaning Tips for a Stress-free Home


{This is a collaborative post}

As COVID-19 surges in the UK again, families are scrambling to keep their homes clean. But it’s important to remember that we don’t just clean our homes for our own sakes or for fear of infection. We also clean our homes to create a safe haven for the ones we love.

Home should be a place where we can feel comfortable and relax. It should be a place where we can leave our stresses at the door and enjoy peace, love, and togetherness. Nothing’s worse than coming home to stress and anxiety and that’s why it’s so important to make sure we disinfect and clean properly during the pandemic. Not just for our physical health, but for our mental health too.

We’ve rounded up some fantastic cleaning tips to make your home feel cleaner and your mood lighter.

Disinfect with UV Light

Walking into a home that smells like a hospital isn’t very reassuring or relaxing. But that’s some homes smell like due to the constant chemical spraying and bleaching. To ditch the fumes and odours (and the scrubbing too!), you can disinfect just as effectively with a UV light wand.

UV light is proven to kill coronaviruses like COVID-19, and it’s so effective that it’s been used by the NHS in hospitals for years. However, it’s never been practical or affordable to use in the home until now.

Now, you can get a handheld UV light wand that kills 99.99% of bacteria, viruses, mould, fungus, and more in seconds. It’s 100% natural, so it leaves no stinky odours or toxic residues behind and, for parents, it requires no scrubbing at all! Just pass the UV-C light wand over objects in your home as if you were shining a torch on them. That’s all it takes!

Our favourite UV-C wand is called Allume, and it’s made by Violet Healthcare. This wand is powerful and effective, but it also has the necessary safety features to prevent UV light from shining on your skin or eyes.

Saturday 24 October 2020

National Trust Ightham Moat: A great place for a Walk, Kent

We've been to Ightham Moat a couple of times now and enjoyed it both times, although they have felt quite different visits, with the first being back in October 2017 with 10-year-old twins and then the next time was this summer, during the COVID pandemic, and we took our three teenagers.

If you're looking to visit in the near future the moated house is currently closed but you can enjoy the outdoor space, both the gardens and the wider estate. The gardens aren't too big and with a one way system currently, they will only take an hour or so to walk around. If I'm honest, they are not impressive like the gardens of many National Trust sites. I think the gem of this site is being able to go inside the house, so with that closed the site doesn't have quite so much wow factor as normal. However, if you are willing to head out and take a longer walk, then the wider estate is fabulous and well-worth exploring. There is a big hill though, so be warned!

I think pictures speak a thousand words, so have a look at these from our visit this summer. The first few photos are within the gardens.

A visit to the National Trust Ightham Moat site in June 2020, when covid made everything different Walking the wider estate is still a delight.

We captured the same photo in 2017 and then again this year and you can see just how much my twins have changed and grown!

Friday 23 October 2020

Perfect Vision: Expectations versus Reality

Photo by Scott Van Daalen on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

The seasons are changing quickly, and trying to see your way forward past the chaos of Covid-19 can feel like a never-ending derailment. 2020 vision is what all optometrists hope for their patients and what the year ahead had hoped to deliver: a more exact brighter future with the vision to see the road forward easily and without a million pitfalls.

However, rather than this beautiful ideal, it has been a year of chaotic upheaval and change. The key to our survival has been family, friends, and the relationships we have with other people. With eyes wide open, we have all watched as our world transforms into a new reality, which is all a little abstract and remote from the streams of our previous existence.

Faith and family are what help us to see past all of the uncertainty and change. For sure faith and hope have steered the direction of many people's lives during this pandemic and with our great British resolve we will get through this difficult time and come out the other side accepting a new normal.

As the days in lockdown or with restrictions have rolled by, we have embraced new ways to relax and keep a clear mind. Here, in this linked resource are a few techniques you can use to find direction and motivation, helping you explore the things you love. There doesn't have to be anything complex or sophisticated about the techniques you embrace, simple acts like taking a walk in nature and observing the changing season can help us to embrace the vision of our new reality.

Friday 16 October 2020

Feeling Grateful for Time, Photography and Flowers

Hello friends, I hope you’re well? I’ve been trying to write this R2BC post for days now and I keep running out of time but I’m now wondering if that was God’s intention, so I had to write it today. I have a terrible headache today and I just feel like I want to curl up in bed, but instead, there are things to be done - JJ to run to college and back, Miss M to collect from her friends later and dinner to be sorted, so making time to sit down and reflect on the things I am grateful for is just perfect.

Here is my grateful list for the last week or so -

1.  I have time to have a cup of tea alone and with my hubby.

2.  I've been Trying out new settings on my phone camera and really liked learning a little more. 

3.  Discovering the glass doors on my cooker can come apart for cleaning in between them. I had no idea! Why haven’t I known this for the last twenty years?

4.  Having a lovely walk and coffee with a friend by the beach the other day.

Tuesday 13 October 2020

6 Gift Ideas For Parents of a Newborn

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

It’s always exciting when someone you know has a baby. But what do you buy for a new arrival? It’s easy to go for something cute and obvious, or vouchers always come in handy for new parents. But if you’re looking for something a bit different, here are a few ideas to give you some inspiration. 

A photo album or frame 

With camera phones to capture every waking moment of a baby’s first months, one thing new parents are not short of is pictures of their baby. A personalised photo album or frame can let them print and frame some of their lovely photos to cherish for a lifetime, and their child will enjoy looking back on them in years to come, I know my kids do.

Practical gifts

While it’s great to buy cute teddy bears or baby clothes, practical gifts are worth their weight in gold. You could put together a little baby medicine kit that includes a digital thermometer, some medicated nappy cream, a bottle of Calpol and some teething gel or powder. While you might think it’s boring, it will be one of the most welcome gifts when the time comes. 

Many times I have put together a practical hamper for friends who already have all the cute clothes. You can never have enough nappies if you are going the disposal route, or if you're friend if using reusable then buy them a super cute wrap or two.

Friday 9 October 2020

The Ten Accessories Every Pushchair Should Have

Photo by Yan from Pexels

{This is a collaborative post}

Finding the perfect pushchair can be a hard task, so here are a few suggestions for must-have accessories that could help your pushchair become as close to perfect (for you) as possible. Things have come on a lot in the 17 years since my JJ was a baby, so there is no excuse not to have something that really works for you nowadays.

1 Bumper Bar

These are normally included when buying a pushchair, yet we often find ourselves taking them off as they seem to get in the way when you're removing a sleeping baby or struggling toddler. However, they can be very useful, not only are they a great added safety feature but they can be used to attach toys to and keep your little one entertained. I'll always remember my little JJ used to pull himself up to sitting when I had put the back down and he didn't want to sleep. He couldn't have done that without his front bumper bar!

2 Rain Cover

Here in the UK, it is bound to rain especially during the autumn and winter months. It is not guaranteed that your purchase will include a Raincover for pushchairs, crazy right? So if your pushchair doesn't already come with a one, or if you have damaged yours then we definitely recommend getting a rain cover.

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Changes to Make Your Website Perform Better

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

Let’s start from the beginning. How long has your website been around for? In this day and age, if it's over five years then you probably need to start thinking about a redesign. Or maybe you just had a redesign, but your results are as good as you expected?

With technological diversity and online trend patterns changing constantly, responsive web design is the key to open the door to your audience online and to encourage and retain new visitors.

You may have heard Digital Marketing Agencies refer to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) before, but what is it all about? Well, SEO means editing your site with the objective of delivering an a great user experience which equates to your website ranking high in the search results of Google. But the key questions is, of course, how do you deliver that kind of experience?

Creating SEO Friendly Content

Nowadays, it is not just enough to take time writing great content, you also need to add in time to decide which words are the key to people finding your article in the future. Then do some keyword research nd once you start writing you'll actually keep your article more on topic.

Keyword research entails taking one word and exploring how it is used online. You’ll want to pick a keyword that is relevant to the product or service you’re offering/ writing about and then ensure the main keyword along with some variations are mentioned throughout your written text.

Monday 5 October 2020

Choosing a Holiday Destination in the Age of Coronavirus

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

We all recognise that times have changed over the last six months and it now seems widely accepted that things will be different for quite some time to come. With these changes in mind, it is important for us all to think through our holiday choices before we rush out and make a purchase that could set us back a few thousand pounds. 

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a holiday destination in the age of coronavirus -

Check the Government Travel Requirements

It's always been standard practice to check Government advice when you are planning to travel far afield but nowadays it is not just visas and vaccinations that you need to check. You also need to familiarise yourself with what our Government are saying if you visit one of our neighbouring countries such as France or Belgium. Will you have to self-isolate on return to the UK? Are there specific virus hot spots that you should avoid? Or even is the Government recommending you don't travel to specific countries? There are a lot of factors to take into consideration.

As well as checking what the UK government is saying, you also need to check for the country you'll be visiting, do they require you to take a covid test before you fly, or at the airport. Rapid covid testing is something that has become familiar to us all now. 

Check you're Protected

Booking a package holiday will give you the greatest protection if the holiday can't go ahead or if a travel operator goes out of business, so this is a good option for those who don't mind paying a bit more and are risk-averse. However, if you are happy to do your own research and want a better value holiday with an affordable hotel and bargain flight then it can save you money to book each element of the holiday separately.  If you do this, make sure you use your credit card, so you have some purchase protection from your card issuer. 

There is always the chance that you or one of your party will fall ill with COVID-19 at the time you are due to travel, so before you book check your travel insurance to see how you are covered for this and also investigate the terms and conditions for the companies you are booking with. 

Saturday 3 October 2020

Feeling Cheery this October #R2BC

It's time to share a positive update again. I find this process of thinking through the last week or two and looking for the highlights so therapeutic that I vowed (back in 2011) to do it regularly, and sometimes I've been great and others a month or two can go by and I've forgotten. But not to worry, here I am now and that is what matters.

Studying the Enneagram

I'm feeling very optimistic as we head into October, as I was on a course for a couple of days last week, studying the Enneagram. This is an ancient tool used to discover your personality type, which I really like as it isn't static, there are lots of opportunities to grow and become more balanced as a person, whilst understanding what deeply motivates you. 

I feel as if I went really deep earlier this week and discovered more about myself and now I have some work to do to learn more about why I act and react in certain ways. I'm not sure this will be the most painless process but it feels very necessary, so I am game!

Even though the course was held at Ashburnham Place (my home) I went and stayed in one of the guest bedrooms and attended the course as an external guest. So I enjoyed good meals, chats and time alone without any responsibilities except to look after myself. 

A visual depiction on my course, of how we are all living in the dark and bound to our ways,
before we become enlightened and move into the light

Owning what I do

I noticed this last week that I have made progress when talking about my life and what I do. The common question when you meet someone new is that they ask what you do, or what your work is and for the last seven years since I left my role as a trainer at a university, I have always mumbled as I answered and given variations on the answer 'not a lot'.

This week I told anyone who asked me that I was self-employed. That I'm a paid writer and social media manager and I didn't add any ifs or buts. It felt good. 

Grateful for a fabulous local Garage

A stupid pheasant with a deathwish decided to fly into my wing mirror as I drove along at speed the other day. I saw it walking across the road but doing 45 mph and with cars behind me I could only brake a little and the stupid bird decided to try and take flight in the direction of my car, then boom! It caused me £110 of damage, but it would have been a lot more if I hadn't had a great local garage who helped me sort it out. I have no idea what to do about car stuff, so I am so grateful to be able to just turn up and Carlton always helps me. 

JJ's Provisional Driving License has Arrived

My boy turns 17 this month and he is keen to get started with his lessons, so I am very pleased his provisional driving license has arrived and now we can book the lessons and also his theory test. I'm hoping that it is all quite a quick process for him as he has great information retention and recollection and normally good reactions and spatial awareness too. 

Making an Effort

I've felt for a while that I am looking a bit old and worn. So I treated myself to a nice new bright top from the charity shop (a bargain £3 and you could see it was new) and each day of the course I put on make-up and rocked my mask. I think I'm finally getting used to wearing them.

Thursday 1 October 2020

Review & Giveaway | Leather ICON Valencia Footstool from Bean Bag Bazaar

Giveaway closed - Congratulations to @Faridah,Brooker, you are the lucky winner. 

I told my kids the other day that my husband and I have reached middle-age and we're OK with it. In fact, we are embracing it; I treated myself to a new tapestry and he got some slippers and a footstool, so he can watch his favourite boxset in comfort and with toasty warm toes! It really is the little things in life that can make a difference.

I wanted to share with you the footstool that he got, as it is totally different to how I imagined but he is loving it, and yes I admit it, I have used it a few times in the day when he is at work and I'm doing a bit of work on the sofa. 

We were sent the ICON Valencia real leather footstool from Bean Bag Bazaar, which is currently on sale for £79.99, this is great value for a quality leather product. The footstool is fairly small and light-as-a-feather as it is filled with beans. The dimensions are 27cm height and 43cm both width and depth.