Friday, 26 September 2014

A First Car


Passing your driving test and being able to hit the open road solo for the very first time is a life changing experience. I will never forget the day that I somehow managed to pass my test, and was allowed to hop in my own car for the very first time and drive away without a parent or instructor in the seat next to me, it was a surreal experience, but now 6 years later it has just become a way of life.

The Car Buying Service have been in a reflective mood of late, and they have been asking their staff to think back to their very first car.., That includes all of the good experiences, and the not so good! They have posed the same questions to me, so this should make for some interesting answers...

1.       What was your first car?
My First car was a J Reg Rover Metro, it was a clapped out tin on wheels but I loved it so. It was the car I learnt to drive in, and it was there ready for when I passed my driving test back in 2008 at 18 years old. It was a 1.1 Litre engine and seemed to take forever to pick up any kind of actual speed, it had a pull out choke that had a habit of getting jammed, which was far from ideal on a cold frosty morning when the engine needed a little more assistance!

2.       How did you came to possess it?
We found the Metro in a newspaper advertisement, my boyfriend at the time and his Father took me over to view it. It was the first car I had seen but just the prospect of owning a car prompted me to buy it there and then. I didn't care that it was old, just the thought of being able to own my very first car was excitement enough. We drove it away the next day, and I then began being able to drive around in it with my Father, even if this did scare him somewhat...


3.       What made the car special? 
The Metro was special because it was mine, it meant I could head out independently and I could get myself from A-B. I just love the feeling that came with having my very first car, it made me feel amazing, just knowing that now I could drive I could take myself on days out with friends, and I didn't have to worry about catching the bus or working out the train timetable to locations right on my doorstep. That first car feeling is truly the best feeling for a teenage of 18!

4.       What is your fondest memory of that car?
The Metro holds many fond memories for me, I think the one that is hard to beat was that very first day that I passed my test. I arrived home on cloud 9, and realised that now I had my license I could just hop straight into my car and drive off wherever I wished to. That night I did what most teenagers do who have just passed their driving test, I just drove around completely content and proud of what I had accomplished. I drove down country roads, down bypasses and home again, I must have been out for hours just enjoying the moment.

5.       Why did you choose that particular car?
There was no particular reason for my choice of car, it was an impulse buy, I didn't really mind what I had, I just wanted a car that was mine.  I guess you could say I was a hot headed 18 year old...

6.       Do you have any funny stories or memories of your first car?
My Metro is the stuff urban legends are made from, that car lived through a fair bit. Being young and care free we used to have the most random times with my car... I think this photo pretty much sums that up...


I had my very first bump in the Metro, while pulling out of the hotel where I once worked, my poor J Reg met a rather swanky new car and was never the same again, the bumper was hanging and the indicator smashed.  It lived to tell the tale though... For a another month or so at least until it met a sticky end when I hit a fox. I couldn't believe it, I was on my way home from a late shift at work when a fox just stood glaring at me in the middle of the road. There was nothing I could do, no where I could swerve.. I just had to keep going. I will never forget the look on that poor foxes face... The car was a goner too, and that was the day it got laid to rest in the scrapyard in the sky. 

7.       Do you have any tips for those buying their first car?
I think when it comes to buying your first car you need to give it a bit more thought than what I did. I was lucky and ended up with a decent car (until I met the fox of course). Think about your budget and what you want out of the car. Look into the insurance prices and how much the tax will set you back before making your final decision.

8.       Do you have any tips for those selling their first car?
I never managed to sell my first car, nor my second... It was only when coming to sell my Peugeot the other month that I had ever been able to sell on a car I had owned! Have a look online and see what they are going for on Auto Trader, if your on Facebook, have a look to see if there is a local car selling group. I actually sold mine over Facebook. It picked up interest quickly and the first person to come along and see it, actually bought it on the spot and drove it away the same day! 

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Raspberry Ketones - Urban Legend?


We live in a time of quick fixes and cutting corners, but when it comes to losing weight, is there really such a thing?  I am the first to admit to buying into these miracle weight loss aids, but the reality is that if they sound too good to be true, then they probably are.

One of the latest weight loss trends to hit the market are the Raspberry Ketones, it first became popular after it was mentioned on Dr. Oz television show back in 2012,  during the piece dubbed ‘Raspberry Ketone: Miracle fat-burner in a bottle’.

Raspberry Ketone is actually a chemical found in Red Raspberries (Rubus Idaeus), that is thought by many to help with weight loss. There is actually no scientific evidence backing this up, except  for some research that has been carried out with small animals, such as rats that show it may help speed up the metabolism.

Now after having my Facebook timeline inundated with adverts for this apparent wonder pill, I was curious. Having seen the before and after images of these girls who are obviously completely different people my alarm bells were instantly ringing. I followed the adverts through onto the page where you can ‘collect your free sample’ only to find that they required my bank details… It was here that I decided to abandon my quest and leave well alone. You need to be incredibly careful in these instances, and this has recently been publicised on Watch Dog, where companies have been taking random amounts of money out of people’s accounts in order to pay for the Raspberry Ketones once the ‘free sample’ has expired.


Back in July I was actually sent a sample of Raspberry Ketones to try out, I thought that it couldn’t do any harm in taking them just to see if there was any truth in how they are being portrayed. I began taking them, they leave a fruity taste in their wake but nothing to sinister. For a little while I found them a little sickly in terms of the after taste but this is something that doesn’t really bother me 2 months later.

In the first couple of weeks I maintained a steady weight loss of around 1-2lbs per week. This had been the average in my regime anyway, and I couldn’t say that the Raspberry Ketones aided or increased any noticeable changes in weight loss. I know this is what you want to read, but this is my personal experience… and I quite honestly think that the only effect the Raspberry Ketones have is the Placebo Effect. Of course taking them isn’t doing any harm, and my experience is just one of many, but before you part with your cash think about where you are purchasing them from, remember that just by taking these tablets alone the weight isn’t going to just come away. I have been eating better, and paying daily visits to the gym. I cannot say that the Raspberry Ketones have helped me along my way at all, hard work is what has been delivering my results.

My personal advice would be to ignore the adverts and save your money. I have continued to take the Raspberry Ketones throughout, and I am still taking them today. I won’t be purchasing anymore when my 3 month sample comes to an end, but I am pleased that I have laid the urban legend of the miracle fat burner in a bottle to rest.


Disclaimer: I was sent the Raspberry Ketones for the purpose of this post. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.



Thursday, 25 September 2014

7 things that are Cheaper to Buy Online than in Stores


Buying things online is an option that really appeals to modern day life as it’s quick, easy and is becoming more and more secure. If you still not very convinced on the idea, or would just simply like to learn a bit more about it, we’ve come up with a list of 7 things that are cheaper (and sometimes easier) to buy online.

1. Music
Music is notoriously cheaper to buy online nowadays, with online stores like iTunes selling songs for as little as 70p, whereas a physical single in a high street store would cost you around £3.99. You can also even stream music videos for free on some applications, such as YouTube, and download playlists to listen to on your computer or phone with programs like Spotify.

2. Books
Likewise, buying books online is usually much cheaper and you can get much better deals on them. Some sites like Amazon even allow you to pre-order books that are coming out which is great as you won’t have to queue up for them on the day they come out.

3. Designer clothing
Buying clothes online can be a little touch and go, but it can be definitely worth the risk when it comes to buying designer clothes online (as long as they have a good refunds system). They’ll be significantly cheaper online and a lot of online clothes retailers (even the high end ones) offer things like discounts for new sign-ups and money off your first order, too.

4. Televisions
It’s thought that TVs online can cost 10-20% less than in the stores. Look for television suppliers that offer a good guarantee system, helpful customer service, good delivery times, real customer reviews and of course, competitive pricing to get the best deal for your money.

5. Small electrical gadgets
As well as bigger items like TVs, smaller electrical gadgets (such as cameras, coffee makers etc) are also significantly cheaper online. Look out for cheap shipping costs so that you don’t end up spending just as much on it due to shipping, however. 

6. Holidays
Booking a holiday online can feel a little stressful, but if you use a reputable site that makes things a lot simpler, it’s actually surprisingly easy. Sites like lowcostholidays.com for example guide you through each part of the holiday booking process to ensure nothing is forgotten and that you get the absolute best deal for your money. It’s a good idea though to look around before booking to ensure you’re getting the best price for what you’re after.

7. Food and drink

Food and drink can be much cheaper online, but a true main advantage of opting for online shopping when it comes to the weekly groceries is that it avoids the temptation of window shopping in the store, and therefore picking up things you don’t really need. You won’t be able to browse like you would in a store so you will no doubt save a lot of cash. 

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6 Tips for Beginners Painting with Acrylic Paint


Painting with acrylic paint is possibly the most common method when it comes to painting, as acrylic paint is a really great medium to work with, especially for beginners. You can do so much with them, they dry fairly quickly and you can achieve a range of vivid colours in them.
We’ve come up with 6 top tips for beginners painting with acrylic paint to give you some ideas on how to get started if it’s completely new to you.

Essential supplies you need to begin
As with any art project, there are a few supplies you’ll need to get started. These include:
·         Acrylic paint palettes – investing in a set of good quality acrylic paints (available here, for example; http://www.artifolk.co.uk/paints/acrylic-paints/acrylic-sets.htm) is a good start. Opt for a well known brand and avoid going for cheaper options as it should be thought of as an investment.
·         Brushes – likewise, avoid really cheap brushes as these can malt a lot and can even ruin your painting. It’s better to have a few good ones that lots of not-so-good ones. Synthetic ones are fine as long as they’re looked after properly.
·         Your canvas of choice – whether you want to paint into a sketchbook, onto a canvas or a big piece of card, experiment with different types of paper to find the best one for you.

Getting the lighting right
As with any painting, getting the lighting right is essential to ensure that your work is as true to life as possible, and isn’t affected in any way. Natural light works best, though if that’s not possible, an artificial light above you (not behind you) should serve as a good substitute.

Mixing colours and creating new hues/shades
There’s a great guide here for mixing acrylic paints to create new colours and hues that’s definitely worth checking out. As soon as you get the hang of the basics, you’ll soon be able to move onto being a bit more creative and inventive with your hues.

Getting into the ‘acrylic painting zone’
As briefly mentioned above, some artists prefer to work on a canvas or piece of paper/card, and it’s been found that when using acrylic paints in particular, using an easel is superior as this helps a lot with perspective and proportions. Whether you want a tabletop one or a standing one, there are so many available you’re sure to find one that’s right for you.

Deciding what techniques work for you
It’s definitely worth taking a look at this article to see what sort of effects and techniques you can try out with acrylic paints and how to improve your paintings as a result. These include things like what colours to start with and adding details to your work.

Finding your inspiration
Deciding on what you want to paint is of course half the battle when it comes to creating a inmasterpiece, so don’t be afraid to try lots of different subjects, themes and styles to find what you enjoy most and what you’re best at.

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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Peppa Pig's Big Splash


There are so many exciting things to do and visit with your little one’s these days. It feels like Leo and I are off on a new adventure each week at the moment. What with days out to Warwick Castle and trips to Thomas Land, we are always finding new ways to keep ourselves entertained.

With Autumn upon us and that familiar chill circling around, we know that the remaining warm sunny days we have are limited, and we will be forced to wrap up warm and find alternative ways to keep the kid’s entertained.

At this moment in time Peppa Pig’s Big Splash is touring around the UK and Ireland, throughout October the show will be visiting Woking, Clacton on Sea and Nottingham. This is a show that Leo and I haven’t seen, but having had a read of the reviews online it sounds like it is set to be a lot of fun.

The show invites Peppa Pig fans to come along and join in with this all singing, all dancing adventure that is sure to keep kids (and adults) on the edge of their seats.


Tickets

Ticket prices vary depending upon when you visit, and you can have a proper look at what it is going to cost on their website and selecting the best venue and date that you would like to visit. Weekend viewing prices start from £13.50 for stalls and go up to £15.50 for the Dress Circle and Upper Circle. It completely depends upon where you want to sit.

Venues

Blackburn
Grimsby
Woking
Isle of Weight
Bristol
Southampton
Bournemouth
Clacton-on-Sea
Billingham
Nottingham
Leeds
London


Accommodation

Of course when it comes to planning family adventures together we do need to consider transportation and accommodation. I know when we look into our next adventure we always think about the distance we have to travel, and how beneficial it would be to book into a hotel and turn it into a weekend. Of course with the expense of a fun filled family day out you don’t want to incur un-necessary costs but there are options out there that can ensure you don’t break the bank. Ideally family friendly hotels within close proximity to your event venue is the best option to consider, if you are visiting Woking then the Holiday Inn at Farnborough is just on the door step. If you are visiting Southampton then there is a great choice between the Holiday InnSouthampton, Holiday Inn Eastleigh and Holiday Inn Fareham.


The most important aspect of any family trip, is to have fun and make the most of each other’s company.  These moments go by so quickly, and it is so important to enjoy the here and now.

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Back to Nursery


On the 5th September Leo went back to play school for his very first funded session. In the weeks of Summer that quickly passed us by, Leo seemed to blossom before our very eyes. He began to string more and more sentences together, and he made such an effort to use his words. We used to Summer as a spring board and got out and about to really make the most of the weather and each other’s company. I had a feeling that the nursery would also see a huge improvement in just how far Leo had come over the Summer holidays, and I hoped that I wasn't alone in these thoughts.

With Leo’s funding now in place for his final pre-school year before starting reception next year, I prepared his school bag the same way I always did. I packed a spare change of clothes, some fruit and his juice cup. I woke Leo up from his slumber and a very excited child replaced the sleeping child who had been fast asleep only moments before. Leo was so excited to be going back to nursery again and when I dropped him off on the Friday for his first session, he didn't even say goodbye before he ran off to join his class mates.

When the time came to pick Leo up from school, I arrived and peeked in through the window. The entire class was sat together on the carpet talking, and when I got to the front of the line, they called for Leo to come over ready to go home. The nursery leaders each had some incredibly positive remarks about how they had found Leo’s first day back at school. One said ‘Hasn't he grown up over the Summer!?’ another said ‘I have noticed a huge improvement in his speech!’ and another said ‘I am understanding so much more of what he says!’. I was so pleased, Leo has been taking his time but been improving all the time, and now I feel like we are finally bridging the gap that has stopped him getting his point of view across.



Wednesday 10th September marked Leo’s very first full day at nursery,  we prepared Leo’s school bag and even made up his lunch box ready for that very first session. Leo was even more excited at the prospect of taking lunch along with him, that once he had his Planes Lunch box in hand he insisted on having his Ham and Cheese Sandwich for breakfast. So to save his lunch we had to make him up a second sandwich that he could enjoy at that precise moment in time.

Granny dropped Leo off for a 9am start, and then that was the last we saw of Leo until 3pm that same day. It is the longest Leo has ever been out of our care and it was a surreal moment to arrive home from work for lunch, to not have Leo at home. Leo had gone off as happy as always and found his name badge out of all of the other names and proudly stuck it on his hook. Leo then spent the day at nursery for the very first time.

Leo has come on so much since that very first nursery session back in January, he is more confident and willing to give new things a try. I find it incredibly hard to believe that this time next year, my baby boy will be in reception and 4 years old. Time really has got a wicked sense of humor to say the least, but it is not relenting. Time is speeding by and shaping my little man as it goes, each day he does something new and surprises me in a whole new way.

I am so pleased at how well Leo has just slipped back into nursery life, and just accepted that now he is older he gets to go more. I have put Leo into nursery on a Monday, Tuesday morning. He attends Wednesday all day and then has Thursday off to spend an entire day doing things with me, and then goes back in refreshed for Friday’s afternoon session.

I wanted Leo to do one full day so that when he does begin reception next year it won’t be such a shock to the system. I now that as this year progresses he is going to continue to grow up, and when next September does roll around, he will be more than ready to take on big school with all of his peers.




Leo and his bucketful of Schleich Dinosaurs


Dinosaurs are one of those delights that simply fascinate children, Leo is forever racing around roaring and telling us he is primitive beast. Nursery have even told us how he will stand at the top of the play gym and roar his little heart out, while the other children run away petrified of me Leo-saurus.

Dinosaurs are just a whole other world of imaginative play, as once upon a time they walked this earth dominating the planet we now inhabit. I think that is part of the sparkle that draws children towards these rather spectacular creatures, that once ruled the earth. Talking to Leo about the world and it’s past is always an interesting topic of conversation and you can tell he thinks that I am making it all up, and in his mind Dinosaurs are nothing more than a make believe monster on the television, or a heap of bones in the Natural History Museum…


We were recently sent a selection of Schleich Dinosaurs, and Leo was incredibly excited to open up the box to discover Seven new models just for his enjoyment. In Leo’s box full of Dinosaurs we discovered the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Quetzalcoatlus and Spinosaurus along with the brand new 2014 models, Therizinosaurus, Pentaceratops, T-Rex Light Green and the Velociraptor in Green.


Within moments of the un-boxing ceremony, Leo had taken a handful of Dinosaurs over to the table to play. There was instant growling and roaring as the fun began to take hold and Leo’s imagination went wild. I on the other hand was really impressed with the level of detail that had gone into each of the different models, from the teeth, colouring and care that had gone into all of them, they were really something else. The details was so precise that on a few of them they had even been packaged in cardboard due to sharp horns or tails. I was instantly surprised at the weight of the models, they are all pretty heavy and you know you are holding a quality object. There is no cheap plastic in sight with the Schleich model collection, only superb detail.


The Dinosaurs have been coloured as true to life as possible and they all look realistic and even a little scary in cases! Some have moveable jaws, others have rotating arms which of course gives a whole new level of play value to these models. They are aimed at pre-schoolers from the age of 3+ and really do allow your little one to delve into a land long forgotten. Whether or not of course they believe you are telling the truth about this land from long ago… Well that is another situation entirely!


You can purchase the Schleich Dinosaurs through Amazon and prices start from as little as £3.50 depending upon which models you are looking at. They are all sold individually but with Christmas coming up they would make super stocking fillers for the kids.



Disclaimer: We were sent a selection of the Schleich Dinosaur range for the purpose of this review. All views and opinons expressed are completely honest and my own.