Reviews

Inspiration on creating your own home office out of even the tiniest space

Christopher Walker No Comments

Working from home is an attractive option for many workers. The high cost of commuting coupled with overcrowded and delayed trains have meant more employees want to set up an office from home. About four million British workers are considered home workers, according to an ONS report. Some will report into the office one or two days a week or month while others work solely from their home. The temptation is to work longer hours which is why it is important to create a special space which you can walk away from at the end of the day.

Image Credit

Small spaces in your home

You may be able to convert the cupboard under the stairs into your office with a small desk for your laptop, a foldaway chair, small amount of shelving and a light. The hallway or landing is another area which can fit in a slim desk for working.

Standing room only

You can also get ‘on-trend’ with a standing desk, taking up much less floor space than a desk you sit at. It’s also healthier to stand rather than sit for a long time so you’ll be doing yourself some good too. All you will need is a breakfast bar or high console unit for your computer and you are good to go – http://www.homesandproperty.co.uk/home-garden/interiors/design-news/fifteen-of-the-best-ideas-for-home-offices-how-to-make-small-spaces-work-as-a-study-room-or-a-a107541.html.

Creating your own office

If you need more space, then converting the box room or attic into your office would be worthwhile. This also means you can mentally prepare for work by creating a special room just for work. You can also shut the door behind you at the end of the day. If the box room is still needed as a spare bedroom, think about getting a pull-down table for working on. If you have a garden, you could create a studio and particularly handy if you have children at home and need some privacy or peace. Garden studios can come in all sizes to fit in with your garden. You can choose garden studios to suit many budgets from companies like this http://www.gardenspaces.co.uk/garden-rooms/garden-studios/.

You will need to factor in the cost of putting in electricity but you should be able to pick up the wifi signal from your house for the internet. Also, it is best to check if you need planning permission at all.

More creative photo ideas to best display your wedding snaps

Christopher Walker No Comments

Whether you’ve just got married or you’re planning your big day, you might want to think about how to display your wedding photos. As nice as it is to keep them in a photo album, it’s a shame to have them tucked away where no one sees them. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking.

Image Credit

Ways to show off your photos

There are lots of different ways to showcase your big day. Framing a few favourite photos is always lovely, but if you want something a little different then there are some great ideas out there.

Wooden photos

If you want to incorporate a rustic feel, why not get your photos transferred to wood? You can hang them, use them as coasters or just have them dotted around the house to make you smile.

Photo star

This large star allows you to add your own photos alongside different colours and patterns. It’s a great feature which makes your photos stand out.

Tiny Polaroid magnets

We go to the fridge several times a day, so where better to display your photos to remind you of your big day?

Ornaments and gifts

If you don’t have enough room to hang your photos, or you’re looking for a gift for newlyweds, these would be perfect.

Memory candles

This is a great idea for you to remember your perfect day, or even as a gift to the bride and groom after the wedding has taken place.

Photo snow globes

This would be an amazing way of showing off those photos, especially for winter weddings.

Photo jewellery

Wearing photos of your wedding is unique, but why not show off the happiest day of your life? You can also get your snaps transferred onto clothes, to make an even bigger statement.

Of course, in order to get perfect photos to display, you first need a great photographer. Choosing your Hampshire wedding photographer can be tricky, so remember to check out their work before you book. They should have examples of their work on their website, like this http://www.nickrutterphotography.co.uk/blog/best-wedding-photography-hampshire-dorset-2016/. You never know, you could even be lucky enough to have a celebrity in your photos!

With so many ways to show off your photos, why not use one of these ideas to make a unique statement.

How to keep your car finance costs low

Christopher Walker No Comments

Household spending has risen by 25% in the past 20 years, yet incomes have not generally followed suit. This means families are stretching to make ends meet, which is all the more reason to keep the cost of running a car as low as possible.

Image Credit

Refinance

If you’ve purchased your car through a finance scheme or higher purchase, there are things you can do to reduce costs. You can try to refinance the loan to lower the interest rate, or to extend the loan term. First, you must determine if you have a healthy credit score and work out the balance of your loan. The amount you are refinancing must be lower than the current market value of the car.

Remember that, until you have paid the loan off in full, the car is not your property. Speak to several lenders and try to get a lower interest rate than your current one, to reduce your monthly payments. You could approach your current lender and chat about your difficulties, as they may be willing to offer help. You could also try and lengthen the term of your loan, which will also reduce your repayments.

Consolidate

Consider consolidating your car loan with any other debts. Your monthly repayments on a single loan may be lower after consolidation of multiple debts.

Also consider selling your car and buying a less expensive vehicle. You must remember if you have a finance agreement, it must be paid off before purchasing another vehicle. You must always notify your lender of any changes you are making, either by letter or email.

Lease

Instead of buying another car, consider leasing one. As explained by Total Motion, specialists in car leasing in Leicester (http://leasing.totalmotion.co.uk/), leasing effectively means that you pay to rent a car, so you never own it. When the lease terms expire, the car goes back to the lease company.

Savings

If your savings interest is lower than the interest on your car finance loan, it would be sensible to use your savings to pay off all or part of your loan. If you cannot pay the full amount, contact your lender to discuss restructuring the loan. Even if you cannot negotiate a better interest rate, your monthly repayments will be less.

Health risks of nuisance birds

Christopher Walker No Comments

The winged beasts of the air are generally considered delightful creatures, but when they start nesting in your home or workplace you could be putting yourself in danger from the many bacterial and fungal diseases that birds can carry, not to mention the infections that lurk in their droppings.

Image Credit

Danger from Droppings

Direct contact with bird droppings sounds bad, and it is. However bird faeces dry out and become airborne, and breathing them in can create all kinds of problems, including ailments of the respiratory tract. In 2011, a woman from Canada contracted an infection that invaded her brain and her spine from pigeon droppings. The result was incurable blindness.

Diseases that can result from bird droppings include hiptoplasmosis, a disease of the airways caused by a fungus that can be fatal. Chlamydiosis or psittacosis is an infection of the lungs, with a fever, coughing, headache and difficulty in breathing, caused by a bird parasite. Cryptococcosis can affect the lungs and even the central nervous system, and is the result of a yeast harboured within the droppings of starlings and pigeons. Pigeons, along with sparrows and starlings, can also be carriers of potentially fatal salmonella.

This report from the government’s Heath and Safety Executive contains information about how, for example, construction workers must be protected from the risks of contamination with bird faeces.

Other Nuisances

While there are plenty of diseases that can result from what birds carry on the inside of their bodies, their exteriors pose a threat too. There are at least 50 varieties of parasite that exist on or near the skin of birds. These can include bed bugs, lice, worms and ticks. Additionally, their feeding and nesting attracts other undesirables such as insects, rats, snakes and mice. If the problem is really bad, it may be worthwhile for everyone’s health to call in nuisance bird management services.

If you need to know more about nuisance bird management services it would be a good idea to consult experts such as http://www.vvenv.co.uk/.

Birds deserve respect, but they, and humans, are much better off when they remain in their natural environment. While it can be soothing to watch birds flying around, allowing them to nest in your roof or in some part of your office could prove to be a fatal move.

 

North London Land Remediation Begins

Christopher Walker No Comments

The United Kingdom is currently in the throes of a serious housing crisis and the solutions being suggested are quite radical. Ministers are, for example, looking at a new generation of “prefabs” or modular homes, because the latter can be constructed and much-needed housing delivered quickly. Repurposing brownfield sites is also thought to be key to the country’s future strategy.

Image Credit

Land Remediation: A British Skill

Owing to its lengthy industrial history, Britain has more so-called brownfield land – around 400,000 hectares – than many of its counterparts. As the Government says in a recent guide, the nation’s mastery of the most advanced land remediation techniques springs from necessity. We simply had to develop processes to help transform disused industrial areas into safer, functional and more aesthetically pleasing spaces. There have been some striking land remediation successes across the UK, with the London Olympics Village being perhaps the most high-profile. But adopting disused brownfield sites for vital housing could ultimately be even more important than that famous project.

Homes for the 21st Century

There is an argument that we will need to deregulate planning on the green belt if we are really going to succeed in making significant inroads into the housing shortage, but it probably makes greater sense to repurpose existing brownfield sites before we breach our precious green spaces. This is the thinking behind the various projects that are currently afoot to convert former industrial land into housing, including an exciting new scheme for North London.

Meridian Water is a 210 acre space situated in the borough of Enfield. It is host to such retail behemoths as Ikea and Tesco, but is also close to some delightful parkland like the Lee Valley Regional Park and the waterways of the River Lee and Pymmes Brook. Expertly remediated, this land could be the ideal location for a vibrant and attractive waterside community. It is expected that there will be similar schemes adopted up and down the country, with local authorities seeking land remediation services such as those provided by http://www.ashremediation.co.uk/ to transform post-industrial eyesores into comfortable modern living spaces supplying accommodation for thousands of families.

Delivering suitable housing has been identified as one of the central challenges of our time. Unloved and often unused brownfield sites are currently part of the problem. Remediating them can turn these spaces into part of the solution.

What Types of Wooden Climbing Frame are There?

Christopher Walker No Comments

Climbing frames are a great way to entertain children outdoors and there are so many different options to choose from. Regardless of how young or old a child is, a wooden climbing fame is a wonderful attraction, and having one in your garden or local park will provide hours of amusement.

Image Credit

Studies have shown that children prefer playing outdoors but that parents preferred to have them close to home. A climbing frame is therefore ideal, and this guide will help you determine which option best suits your requirements.

A Solid Choice

When it comes to choosing a climbing frame, wood is your best bet. Wooden play equipment is durable, versatile and it is long lasting, and you have the option to add accessories such as swings to it with ease.

Frames such as those available at http://www.niclimbingframes.com/climbing-frames will weather but won’t lose their structural integrity, and you can paint them fun colours, treat them with wood stain or order them to match your outdoor environment so they blend in seamlessly.

Pine or Cedar?

Most of the wood climbing frame options available are made fro either pine or cedar wood and each offers their own distinct attractions.

Cedar wood has wonderful natural characteristics and is strong, beautiful and doesn’t splinter easily, thanks to its dense composition. The lack of splinters makes it an excellent choice and the wood is also very durable, ensuring it lasts for years.

Pine also offers its own advantages, and it is incredibly easy to get hold of, and very cost effective. However pine is very soft and has to be pressure treated to ensure that it can withstand the demands of a climbing frame. Pine also splinters easily, and is often better used in swing sets or other items where children’s hands don’t come in to contact with it.

Planed or Round?

The choice between round or planed (sawn) wood is a big one, as it not only affects aesthetics, but the experience children will have on the climbing frame. Round wood sets are cheaper as the processing time is minimal, but they are not always as robust as sawn sets. The sawn sets are more aesthetically pleasing and less rustic, but they are more expensive and come with a greater number of accessories and features.

Never too old to have a party

Christopher Walker No Comments

So you want to throw a party for a grown up? It’s not always easy to come up with original adult themed ideas for parties as we usually associate them with children. Gone are the days of easily decorating a room with pink princess balloons or buying in a Spiderman cake. Adult parties need a little bit more creativity to get everyone in the mood. Here are a few fun ideas for a themed party for any occasion:

  1. Most people over the age of 30 will have some fond memories of the eighties so why not throw an eighties themed bash? Music must be strictly eighties pop and everyone must come decked out in some eighties splendour such as leg warmers, shoulder pads or just about anything as long as it’s neon. Maybe find some retro sweets online and put them out in bowls so people can reminisce about how everything tasted better back then. Don’t forget to crack open a bottle of Blue Nun too, which was big in the eighties. For Online wine merchants in Northern Ireland, visit http://thewinecompanyni.com/.
  2. If you have a bit time to prepare then a Who Dunnit Clue Party is a fun idea for entertaining your guests with a mini murder mystery challenge. Prepare props, a murder weapon and even a script if you’re feeling creative. If you put plenty of thought into it, it can be a huge success and really engage all your guests.
  3. Toga Party – this is a classic theme for a get together as everyone must wear a toga. Serve drinks in large chalices (plastic is fine and cheaper). The toga theme is quite popular which makes it easier for you to find decorations and party supplies online.

Image credit

  1. A Mexican Fiesta is guaranteed to be bright, cheerful and noisy with a real focus on fun, flavourful food. Set up your own unique margarita bar with different varieties of tequila and of course, don’t forget to put up a pinata. Play some Mexican, Latin style music and have super bright decorations featuring oranges, greens, blues, reds and yellows.
  2. For a summer party, creating a summer luau will look amazing. This idea will work especially well if you’re holding your bash in the garden. Food should be light and include lots of fresh fruit and tropical flavours. Serve tropical drinks at your own bar and if you can create the look of serving drinks in coconuts with little umbrellas then even better. The key to decorating for this theme is to feature plenty of flowers, tiki torches and lots of twinkly lights. Encourage your guests to wear a Lei Garland and/or hula skirt.
  3. Classic Art Deco party – black and white is a relatively easy theme to carry off and is inspired by elegance, art deco and jazz influences of the 1940’s. This might be a fantastic idea for a party for an older person. You could even go Hollywood with this one and encourage Little Black Dresses and White Tux jackets for the men.

Top Tips for Creating a Vintage Style Bathroom

Christopher Walker No Comments

Vintage style bathrooms add elegance and style to a modern property and are sympathetic to an older one. By taking style cues from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, you can create a gorgeous vintage style bathroom that will be the perfect place to relax at the end of the day.

Image Credit

Set the Scene: Floors and Walls

A wooden floor can looks stunning in a vintage bathroom, and with modern luxury vinyl wood effect tiles or ceramic wood grain tiles you can create the vintage effect with modern low maintenance convenience. Otherwise a black and white tiled floor is timeless.

There are two obvious choices for vintage effect walls – tongue and groove and subway tiles. Both are easy to maintain, hygienic and stylish. Keep the look light and airy in clean and bright white. A striking wallpaper would be in keeping with the vintage theme, perhaps in a subtle geometric or floral print.

The Centrepiece: A Free Standing Bath

The key piece for a vintage style bathroom is, without doubt, a stunning free standing bathtub. Original cast iron baths make a striking centrepiece – try an architectural salvagers such as http://www.wilsonsyard.com/products/bathrooms/baths-new-cast-iron.html for the genuine article.

Choose a bold and architectural pedestal sink, or an airy vintage style vanity with graceful and slender legs. For something unique, recycle a suitable piece of vintage furniture with either an inset or console sink. Brass or chrome cross head taps are in keeping with the vintage style, though a contemporary and sleek floor standing bath filler and matching taps will add a modern edge.

Lighting: Add Glamour

Wall mounted globe lights are in keeping with this look and make excellent task lighting round a vintage mirror. However, for real glamour, why not try a central chandelier? Recessed spots are discreet enough to add general lighting without intruding on the vintage theme.

Accessories: The Unexpected

A large vintage mirror in an ornate frame will make a spectacular addition to the room and open up the space if it’s on the small side. Do consider adding a period style chair if you have the space, as this lends a real sense of luxury to a vintage bathroom. Open shelving with apothecary jars and neatly folded towels are in keeping with the look, and a lush bathrobe and slippers will add a touch of luxury.

Live like a special agent

Christopher Walker No Comments

There are many of us who might secretly (or not so secretly) long to be just like James Bond. So we may not have the beautiful women and the Aston  Martins but we can have the pretty amazing spy gadgets. There is all manner of sneaky spy wear available these days and even if we don’t have a reason to use them, it can be awesome just to play with them! Here are a few good ones for all you amateur 007s out there:

The spy pen – this pen holds a tiny camera enabling you to gather evidence while you innocently write things down. Inside the ‘normal’ looking pen is a 2.8mm wide angled camera, a microSD card slot and microphone for capturing all those moments and conversations that were thought to be private. For a more obvious Body Worn Camera like the Police use, visit http://www.pinnacleresponse.com/body-cameras-and-the-law/.

Keysafe Pro – ever wanted to log on to another user’s PC but can’t get past the password stage? This is a fiendish little device that fixes to a computer and records the sequence of keys pressed on a keyboard. No need to interrogate your suspect when you can log in and sneak around yourself. Strictly for fun and nothing illegal though, thank you 007.

Executive Kit Pen Scanner – time is running out and you need to remember details on a document? A scanner would be good but not exactly portable. Well, now you can have a scanner as small as a pen. This pen size document scanner doesn’t even need a computer to do its job.

Bionic Ear Hearing Amplifier – this gizmo allows you to eavesdrop on a conversation from 20 feet away. The sounds can be amplified by 50 decibels so even whispering can be picked up with clarity.

Google Project Glass – wearable computers have arrived and Q would be proud of this one. This is a computer and camera built into a pair of glasses. It’s not exactly covert but we imagine that Bond could have disguised it somehow.

Digital Night Vision monocular – why eat a load of carrots when you could pick up one of these beauties instead for a mere £145. This device is super effective at removing darkness and enabling you see as clear as day – well almost! Lighter than a bag of vegetables too.

Image credit

Byte Mini Global GPS tracker – need to know where someone’s heading? Following someone is just too risky so this mini device does all that hard work for you. Plant it and then sit back and watch your target’s movements in comfort back at MI6.

Covert Air Freshener Camera Unit – my personal favourite is this camera that looks like a run of the mill, everyday air freshener. This gadget provides remote video monitoring over 2G and 3G networks, meaning you can watch events unfold from your mobile. It also doubles up as a sensor and will start a video call when someone walks past it. Sadly, the only downside it that it doesn’t smell pretty.

Why we wear what we wear

Christopher Walker No Comments

As influential as celebrities and style bloggers might be, they are certainly not the only thing that affect our clothing choices. When you opt for a particular pair of jeans or a specific style of jacket, there’s a lot more going on in your head than you may realise. Media and peer pressure do lend a hand but it could also be our emotions and memories that are affecting our decisions.

Many of our choices reflect the way we were raised and the things we were exposed to as a child. If someone you loved wore a particular shape or style of jacket, then you will be more naturally inclined towards the same shape or style. Many of the things we are drawn to come from a subconscious place and our choices are affected by our genetics just as our eye colour and mannerisms are. Clothing styles that we are emotionally attached to make us feel happy and safe. We quite often hold onto styles we adopted when we were at our happiest and that’s why many outfits can age people because they are, quite literally, stuck in the past.

Some of us may fear change. Quite a lot of people have only just started to wear skinny jeans, even though they’ve been around for almost a decade. Some young people will only be familiar with skinnies and may feel odd when bootcut comes back into fashion. The only way to overcome this fear of change is if we absolutely love and trust a brand so much that it convinces the consumer to try something new.  For Mens Farah Shirts, visit http://ejmenswear.com/brands/farah.

Advertising does have a creeping effect on most us, whether we care to admit or not. Exposure is bound to have an effect as the longer we are exposed to something, the more likely you are to react towards it with positivity without really understanding why. After seeing a new fashion on a billboard a few times and seeing some people in the street wearing it, then the item gradually seeps from your subconscious into your conscious mind. Your mind is always picking up clues and signals from those who surround you.

Image credit

Turbulent times in our lives can also make us act more rashly when it comes fashion choices. A new job or a divorce can make us purchase things that would usually be out of our comfort zone. Clothes reflect our sense of self so if our lives are going through some serious upheaval then our wardrobe might too. This is the reason why teens can change style so rapidly as it takes time to find which tribe you belong to and feel comfortable with. As you grow older, your style reflects your life.

Self esteem also plays a large part in the choices we make. If you know a certain style or shape suits you then you’re more likely to gravitate towards it as you know you’ll both look and feel better. We can only be confident and communicate authentically, if we’re comfortable in our own skin and the garments we choose to cover this skin.

World headlines from the FT

Federal prosecutor takes over case on terrorism suspicion following London attack

President fails to reach deal with party hardliners on landmark repeal bill

Agents given jail terms for death of dissidents hurled from helicopter into Pacific

Long march to World Cup with clash fuelled by tension over missile defence system

Ukraine accuses Moscow of role in attack on witness in Yanukovich treason trial

Ankara protests after sniper in Kurdish-held area kills Turkish soldier

Sri Mulyani Indrawati rises to challenge she insists Jakarta must win

Joint FBI and Israeli police investigation lead to arrest of suspect in Ashkelon

Politicians’ traditionally cosy relationship with the press crumbles