When it’s cold outside

When it’s cold outside

Christopher Walker No Comments

Since the dawn of time, humans have needed to protect themselves from the elements and had a desire to make that protection as warm and comfortable as possible. So how did early man heat his home? Initially, there was only a fireplace for everyone to gather round which would have heated one space very well but wouldn’t have extended very far. It was also a bit on the dangerous side, with the risk of fire spreading, deadly fumes and a need for good ventilation. Let’s take a look at the history of heating homes.

It was the Romans who were credited with inventing the first central heating system. Hot air was channeled through pipes from a furnace. These pipes were placed behind walls and underneath floors. Early Muslim architects also had ingenious ways of constructed pipes under floors to heat up an entire building. When the Romans decided they’d had enough of our terrible weather, we were left to our own devices for a long time and many of the villas were left to ruin while we returned to using wood and manure for heating.  We did improve our insulation by filling walls with wattle and daub but not much happened in our quest for comfort for quite some time.

Around the 1800’s, somebody remembered about the benefits of a central heating system and this is where the history picks up again. An inventor called William Strutt designed a new mill in Derby which featured a hot air furnace. A large stove heated up air brought in from outside via an underground passage. The heated air was then sent through the building via large central ducts. He went on to design heating systems for hospitals that were healthier in that they allowed people to breath fresh, heated air while contaminated air was removed. These systems were still only available for the wealthy, who began to adopt the systems.

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The beauty and elegance of Victorian and Edwardian homes was reflected in their radiators. Cast iron radiators included intricate, scrolled detailing in the iron casting process of the heater. Central heating continued to evolve which is just as well as the cast iron radiators of 1930’s Britain held 25 litres of water and weighed a staggering 80 kg. By the 1960’s, these figures had halved and by the 1980’s a radiator held about 7 litres and weighed 30 kg. Radiators became a bit bland after their Victorian heyday, made from pressed steel sheets which were more about utility than style. Which might explain the current trend for unique, interesting and traditional column radiators, designer radiators or heated towel rails for example. For Aluminium Radiators, visit http://apolloradiators.co.uk/Category/3/header/3/radiator-ranges.

The radiator was heated by water that’s been through a boiler. These days, there are different ways in which to heat the water such as solar panels and ground source heat pumps. Some people still use the material that cavemen used, wood and of course gas, electricity, coal and oil to heat our homes. I wonder how we will be heating our homes a thousand years from now?

How to tell a partner that you have an STI

Christopher Walker No Comments

Sexually transmitted infections are passed by genital contact or unprotected sex from one person to another. The most common is chlamydia, a bacterial infection which can be easily cured with antibiotics. There are, however, STIs which cannot be cured, such as Herpes and HIV. If you get one of these infections you will always have it.

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Risk

Even though STIgons are common and anyone of any age, race, gender or sexual orientation can get them, there is still a stigma around this subject. The first thing to do is go to your doctors or local STI clinic. Testing for chlamydia and gonorrhoea usually requires a urine sample, whereas tests for HIV and syphilis require a blood test.

If you are diagnosed with an STI it is important that you pass this information to any recent, past and future sexual partner as soon as possible for the sake of their health.

Partners

The way you begin the conversation will depend on what you know about the other person and how you think they are going to react. Don’t do it just before you intend having sex or in a public place where there are lots of other people. Try making your disclosure part of the normal conversation. Keep calm, be direct and stick to the facts. If you have had intercourse with this partner recently you will need to advise them to get tested themselves. Allow your partner to ask questions and give them information, for example, leaflets or website addresses. Test for chlamydia by following this link https://www.checkurself.org.uk/order-a-test-kit/.

Let your partner know that intercourse will still be possible using condoms and practice safe sex techniques. Your partner may get upset and angry, but you must put yourself in his or hers shoes and imagine how you would feel. The most important thing to do is to listen to your partner’s fears and help them understand what is happening. Emotions will be running high and questions regarding trust and infidelity will have to be answered with honesty if you wish to continue this relationship.

If you think you have been infected with an STI you may also need to inform former sexual partners so that they can get tested too.

Telling your partner about STIs may be awkward but it’s the right thing to do.

Time Out for You

Christopher Walker No Comments

Spa days and breaks are becoming increasingly popular and it’s an industry that’s currently booming. Modern life seems to get so stressful sometimes that it’s no wonder people are desperate to escape for a few hours of blissful relaxation. We all work very hard, whether it’s full time or parenting, or both so why shouldn’t we indulge ourselves occasionally with a massage, facial treatment or sauna? Read More

How to install a garage door

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Garages are a popular feature when it comes to buying property, so it’s perhaps no surprise that it is one of the first improvements people think about making if they have enough space.

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What you might find surprising is that most garages aren’t actually used to store cars. Part of the reason for this is that modern cars are larger than their 1950s and 1960s counterparts, so they may simply not fit. Garages are often used for storage or for a range of domestic and hobby purposes.

One of the reasons people do not use their garage effectively could be because the main door is awkward, damaged or stuck. Installing a new garage door may seem like a major undertaking, but it often ends up being an easier job than you think.

Types of door

In the UK, the most common type of garage door is the up-and-over type, which consists of a single panel that pivots up out of the way. There are also sectional doors that move up and down on rollers fitted at either side. Older properties may have conventional hinged doors, and people often seek to replace these with the modern variety.

If your existing door has problems that you don’t fancy tackling yourself, you could consult a
London garage door repairs specialist such as http://garagedoorsrus.co.uk/ for advice. Before ordering a new door, it is vital to measure the opening carefully and ensure that you get one that is suitable for your needs.

Installing

The latest up-and-over doors often come pre-assembled with a sub-frame. This makes fitting easy as you just need to fix the frame in place, remove the travel bolts, and the door is ready to go with no worries about tensioning springs. Doors are usually made of steel for durability, and they can be fitted for automatic operation if you prefer.

Sectional doors need to be assembled on site, tracks are fitted vertically on either side of the doorway and horizontally back into the garage to give the door smooth operation, and the door panels are then slotted into these. Sectional doors offer different styles and finishes but are less popular in the UK.

Roller doors are made up of narrow horizontal slats that give a neat look, but they do require enough space above the door opening to accommodate the roller mechanism.

French doors from Italy?

Christopher Walker No Comments

French doors offer a very attractive addition to a room, letting in lots of natural light and making a room feel bigger. But why are they called French doors? The roots of French doors can be traced back to 16th and 17th century when France was at war with Italy. After victories by the French over the Italians, the French soldiers brought home with them some Renaissance artworks as well as some Renaissance  architectural ideas. So even though they are called ‘French’ doors, their origins are actually Italian. Read More

Styling Tips to Create Danish Hygge-Style Cosiness

Christopher Walker No Comments

Hygge is a Danish craze that has taken the world by storm lately. In the fast-paced nature of the world we live in, it centres around the contentment we can achieve by taking pleasure in the simple things in life.

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A report in The Independent also focuses on the importance of making the ordinary special by ritualising simple daily activities and creating a cosy ambience in your home. Hygge isn’t something you can buy, but there are ways that you can style a beautiful house that will allow the concept to flourish.

Sound and Temperature Control

In order to embrace a hygge lifestyle, you have to be comfortable and relaxed. It’s hard to do that if your home is too cold, too hot or too noisy. These factors will impact your mood without your even noticing. Make sure your home is warm and cosy with good acoustics.

A Personal Environment

Hygge is personal to you, so don’t try too hard to emulate styles you may see in magazines or online. By all means, gather inspiration but find the hygge that is right for you. This means incorporating visual props of your past and personality into your home – books, photographs, heritage pieces can be used alongside your furniture to make a hygge environment that truly reflects you.

Less Clutter

They say a cluttered home creates a cluttered mind, and that’s not what hygge is about. Keep your spaces open and airy. Utilise the space that you do have thoughtfully and you will find you’re able to create different atmospheres within the space.

Accessorize Well

Accessories play a big part n a hygge lifestyle and should be chosen thoughtfully. Candles are a must-have, and experts warn against using too much plastic in your decor. Instead, opt for warm, neutral rugs to create a calming ambiance.

Let There Be Light

Good-quality mood lighting can transform a room – see http://reliable-remodeler.com/rooms/ for more information. As mentioned, candle light is the ultimate relaxation tool in chill-out areas of the home. Well-placed dining or reading lights are also essential.

Music

Music is the perfect tool for creating alternative atmospheres, but visible electronics can kill the vibe. Try to conceal your stereo behind some furniture so that you can enjoy the sweet sounds of music without being distracted by unsightly wiring.

How to choose your perfect Caribbean island destination

Christopher Walker No Comments

If you have set your sights on a Caribbean holiday, you will be faced with the difficult decision of choosing the perfect destination. Although all the islands are beautiful, they each offer something different.

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Let’s look at some of the nicest all inclusive Caribbean resorts to help you make up your mind.

Ease of access

If you are looking for a straightforward option, you may want to consider the islands offering regular direct flights from the US or Canada. One of these is The Bahamas, which boasts beautiful beach resorts and allows guests to hop between its multiple islands. Similarly, the Cayman Islands provide an array of waterside resorts where visitors can try their hand at diving and snorkelling.

If you are keen to discover some new cultures, why not take a trip to Jamaica, famous for its mouth-watering food? You can enjoy some reggae music and soak up the urban culture. St-Martin has two distinct cultures across its territory: Dutch and French. Although a relatively small island, it is very lively and accommodation is not that expensive. Other islands to consider are Aruba, Dominican Republic, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Travel further for new experiences

Although the next islands are not so easily accessible, this should not deter you; after all, you need to get in touch with your sense of adventure! Travel agents and resources such as http://lostwaldo.com/the-best-all-inclusive-caribbean-resorts/ can help to make the journey easier and save you time and money.

Anguilla is one of the most beautiful islands you will ever visit, and its population the kindest. Unlike islands such as Antigua and Barbados, you will feel far less isolated and less like a tourist. It has lots to offer, such as wildlife, history and water sports.

Most people will have heard of Cuba, St Lucia, British Virgin Islands, Dominica and Granada, but what about Bonaire, Haiti, Curaçao, St Kitts, or St Vincent and the Grenadines? The first and last are perfect for divers, while Haiti, Curaçao and St Kitts are well-suited to those who like to hike and explore their surroundings.

Add Guadeloupe to your top three if you want to taste some amazing seafood, or Trinidad if you are a fan of the pulsing Creole culture. Finally, Martinique features huge, unoccupied beaches and French-speakers will get by well.

6 benefits of buying custom furniture

Christopher Walker No Comments

Most people are so used to buying furniture in a store that they don’t even consider the possibility of custom furniture. It is surprisingly easy to commission a piece of unique, affordable custom furniture.

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Here are six benefits of buying custom furniture.

It Is Normally Better Quality

Big companies that create mass-produced furniture are focused on reducing the business’s overall costs, which is why most in-store furniture is flat packed or made with cheap materials. Custom furniture requires a higher level of care and focus, so the materials are normally higher quality.

It Is Personalised For You

According to Chicago Business, custom furniture gives you a way to control what your piece is made of. You can work together with the carpenter to create a totally unique item for your home, and you can choose the style and the material. The piece of furniture will perfectly represent your tastes, and no one else will own the same piece.

You Avoid International Supply Chains

Most furniture suppliers buy products from across the globe, so it can be difficult to know where exactly the furniture came from. If you buy custom furniture, you know exactly how and where it was made, and you can even find out where the materials were sourced from.

It Is More Sustainable

In the last 40 years, the amount of furniture that is thrown away each year has increased by 385 per cent. This is shocking, especially when you consider that the population only grew by 50 per cent. Lots of store-bought furniture is made cheaply and does not last many years, but custom-made furniture is built to last for generations and the pieces are normally made with sustainable wood.

If you want bespoke commercial desks, check out websites such as http://simonkohnfurniture.co.uk/our-work/commercial/reception-areas-and-desks/ for high-quality custom desks.

It Supports Local Talent

By choosing to buy from local carpenters and artisans, you help to increase the demand for an important craft that has existed for centuries. For most people, this is preferable to supporting a huge company that already has hundreds or thousands of customers.

It Is More Sentimental

Custom furniture holds more meaning and sentimentality than store-bought furniture as you are involved in the process of choosing styles and materials. This makes it an investment piece that you will treasure for years to come.

Benefits of a Forest School

Christopher Walker No Comments

The idea behind Forest Schools has a long history. Scouts founder, Baden Powell, and educational theorist AS Neill both proposed the concept a century ago, to use the natural environment as part of the educational process. This is not the nature walks of most parent’s childhood, but a structured learning experience, with performance indicators and attainment targets.

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The Scandinavian model which is becoming widespread today is based on real pedagogical research in education systems which are the envy of the world. Finland, for example, has regularly been in the top three in the Pisa rankings for the last decade, and all of the Scandinavian countries’ education systems have outperformed the British since the rankings were introduced. So, there are real benefits to the concept, and the idea is growing in popularity in the UK.

Building confidence

The idea is to build a child’s confidence and allow them to develop independently as learners. This improves both communication and social skills. Group activities, sharing tools, and sharing knowledge in a natural environment all build up pupils’ learning skills.

Engagement

Boredom is the bane of educational development. By engaging children in a natural environment, Forest Schools stimulate natural curiosity, and, because they are enjoyable experiences, they keep interest levels high. This makes the children active participants in the lessons, and active learners make better learners. This is particularly good for children with special educational needs, or those who struggle in the traditional classroom environment.
Of course, lessons need structure and learning outcomes, which are overseen by trained practitioners. When space is an issue for a school, there are recognised companies that can create bespoke education buildings and spaces to facilitate learning, such as http://www.educationspaces.co.uk/.

Positive outcomes

There are measurable longer term outcomes from Forest Schools. These include improvements in physical skills, fitness and ability, the development of gross and fine motor skills, a development of environmental awareness, and improved knowledge and understanding of the natural world. It also allows teachers and educators to provide different learning experiences to pupils and to gain a better understanding of their class’s educational needs.

Perhaps the most positive outcome is the impact that Forest Schools can have with children’s wider educational engagement. As pupils share their experiences with family and friends, it not only reinforces their own learning, but also encourages environmental engagement in the wider population.

Moving on to the Street

Christopher Walker No Comments

Despite our uncertain weather, street food has become increasingly popular in the UK, and the variety of cuisines available from individual traders is amazing. If you are thinking of joining this idiosyncratic crowd and creating specialist gourmet food for your customers on the street, here is a brief guide to starting out.

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Legal Matters

Whether you decide to be a sole trader or to set up a limited company you will need to register with your local authority as a food business. They will inspect your operation and, in conjunction with the Foods Standards Agency, give you a Food Hygiene rating. You can find further information about the requirements on their website.

Other paperwork you will need includes public liability insurance, and the relevant gas or electricity safety certificates. Depending on where you intend to trade there may be other documents such as risk assessments that you need to produce – the manager of the market, festival or other venue will tell you their requirements.

What Food to Serve

You may already know what you want to cook, but bear in mind that whatever you choose has to be popular enough and quick enough to produce to make you money. Have a look at the competition, watch which stalls have the longest queues, and decide where your product will fit in. Then you have to make sure you make it better than the competition. The specific catering supplies that you need will depend on the specific foods you are supplying, but refrigerated storage is a must for everyone.

Consider your Venue

It is up to you to decide where you want to trade. Music Festivals are often a good bet, as tickets are sold prior to the event and they are usually busy whatever the weather. Markets can be a good regular source of income although customers at town markets are often more on the lookout for a bargain than a gourmet experience. Speciality farmers’ markets will attract more foodies, but they are usually held for just a weekend and you can expect takings to be lower than those you would get at a small music festival. Street food collectives are found in most major cities and attract people looking for unusual dishes. According to the Guardian many Street Food providers are moving indoors to venues such as Market House in Altrincham or Trinity Kitchen in Leeds.

Your Rig

If you need to set up your operation on a shoestring, a gazebo is probably the cheapest option. For speed and ease of setting up, a food van is the set up of choice, although they can break down or go wrong in other ways. Alternatively you could consider a trailer which would be more versatile and can be customised by installing the appropriate equipment from combination ovens sold by suppliers such as https://www.247cateringsupplies.co.uk/catering-appliances/ovens-and-ranges/combination-ovens to commercial microwaves. Whatever you choose, it is important to make it stand out by a distinctive and easily recognisable paint job or banners to attract customers to your outlet.

Whatever you are supplying, you can improve sales by employing social media to promote your street food. Facebook and Twitter are the new “word of mouth” by which businesses have grown in the past.

World headlines from the FT

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

Politicians’ traditionally cosy relationship with the press crumbles