Making an Easter break special for your kids

16 03 2013

All of us like to take a break from time to time and Easter is the perfect opportunity to get away from it all for a few days and take advantage of the spring sunshine to enjoy a bit of time with your family.


Image via Flickr from Debbie

The great thing about Easter breaks is that they are often cheaper than going away during the summer months. Granted, the weather may be a little more unpredictable, but by the end of March the sun is usually shining and there are plenty of activities to enjoy and destinations to explore, whether you want to stay in the UK or venture a little further afield.

The thing you have to remember if you’re heading out on holiday with your family is that you need to keep your kids entertained. Yes, walking around a stately home and looking at beautiful paintings might be interesting for you, but they chances are your children will probably find this rather dull. All of a sudden, you’ve got bored, impatient youngsters on your hands who are yelling and making a fuss.

It’s important that you try and make your Easter break fun for your children as well as yourself, or neither of you will have a particularly good time.

One way to do this is check the hotel or accommodation you’re booking and see if it offers childcare or a crèche. By doing this you’ll ensure your kids will be entertained if you want to head out and do something else for the day.

Generally, when checking out accommodation you should ensure it’s child friendly – does it say its suitable for families on the website? If it’s more of a party hotel or one that caters for older individuals, the chances are your kids won’t make any friends on their break and will find themselves feeling a bit bored. Interacting with other children and taking part in activities organised by the hotel or resort are get ways for youngsters to meet new friends.

As well as looking for activities to suit you, consider finding something special for your youngsters as well. This doesn’t have to be an extravagant gesture, but if you find a local activity park, an animal farm or a leisure centre, you can surprise them with a treat that they will spend the day looking forward to.

You should also consider how long you’ll be in the car (or on other forms of public transport) during your holiday. If you’re planning to take a road trip to see some nearby sites then ensure you come up with a few ideas to keep your little ones entertained. No doubt they’ll be tired and sleepy on the way back, but on the journey there they will need some entertainment.


How to shovel snow safely

14 03 2013


Image from Flickr Creative Commons via Mash Down Babylon

Now that the winter has well and truly descended upon us, you could be forgiven for wanting to crawl back into bed and shut yourself away from the world for the next few months. However, this is a luxury denied to the vast majority of us. Indeed, millions of us will have to continue fighting our way through the cold, ice and snow, one way or another. But before you whip your snow shovel out and get to work, you should think carefully. As tempting as it might be to simply get stuck in, you should remember that there are injury risks associated with this particular task – so should you end up doing yourself a mischief, you could find yourself laid up for an extended period. This is an inconvenience relatively few of us can afford at the current juncture.

According to an article from, you’ll need to ensure that your snow shovel is up to the job before you start digging away. You should also be careful not to over-exert yourself. Think about your own physical condition before you get started. Shovelling snow can be hard work, particularly if there’s ice underneath it – so there’s a real risk that you could end up getting yourself injured. Be careful not to take any excessive risks. If, for example, you have a pre-existing health problem – such as a heart condition – your best bet is to simply avoid shovelling snow altogether.

As a priority, you’ll need to clear the snow from your driveway, any footpaths leading to your home and whatever other areas you’ll need to provide access. Make sure that you clear the snow thoroughly and chip away at any ice which may be lurking underneath – if you don’t get rid of this as well, you could end up suffering some sort of accident. Once you’re happy that you’ve cleared the snow away, it might be a good idea to lay some rock salt down to avoid re-icing.

An article from also makes a number of suggestions for staying safe when shovelling snow. It might be a good idea to perform a few moderate stretches before you go out, so that you’re properly limbered up. Should you simply get stuck straight in, you may end up injuring yourself, so you need to think about the pace at which you work. In addition, you should think about where you’re going to dump the snow before you get started. It makes sense to work in the direction of your chosen dumping ground, so that you have less of a distance to travel.

Also, try to maintain the proper posture when you’re shovelling the snow. Use your shoulder and leg muscles as much as possible, and hold the shovel as close to your body as you can. Make sure you keep your back straight as you move from the squat position to the upright position, or else you may strain it. You should also take care to avoid twisting your upper body as you throw the snow, because this may cause you an injury of some sort.

The ultimate bachelor’s guide to ironing

8 03 2013


Image from Flickr Creative Commons via Shoshanah

It’s one of those domestic chores which are put off more than any other. But because so many of us depend on having well-pressed shirts, trousers, jackets and ties to wear for work, it’s a job which we have to consider essential.

Because ironing is one of those domestic chores which are impossible to dodge, though, it pays to have a proper plan to carrying out the task. This is especially true when you consider the amount of money which is often spent on clothing which requires ironing. Indeed, when the quest is to look good in lots of different circumstances, do we ever consider the fact that lots of the clothes we love will need to be ironed regularly to keep them in the best possible condition? The answer is probably not.

But that doesn’t mean that we don’t love those clothes, and generally we will put up with the work involved in ensuring that they’re kept in as near pristine condition as possible.

The difference, though, between someone who wears classic and expensive clothes regularly, and someone who only has the occasional need to do so is that the regular wearer will – or certainly should – be aware of the work needed to keep them looking immaculate.

Ironing, though, is still an alien world to many men, even ones who aspire to look as smart as possible whenever they step out. Doing such tasks as effectively as possible, then, is often best when it’s broken down into easy steps. So here’s a step-by-step guide which will help make ironing seem far less intimdating.

1. Use a good iron: A cheapie from a supermarket will never do the job satisfactorily, so at least research which brands are generally the most trustworthy and buy the best one you can afford.

2. Read the ironing instructions on each garment: You can’t just assume that every one will look as good if you keep the iron at the same temperature. A denim garment certainly needs more heat to remove creases than a silk one. So be sure to re-set your iron’s temperature for each type.

3. Use the right motions with the iron for the area concerned: Wide, sweeping strokes work well on large expanses of t-shirt or trousers, but more intricate areas, around the fly for example, need closer attention.

4. Iron clothes inside-out. This will help a garment retain its colour, and help keep heat stains invisible.

5. Start at the waistband with trousers and work your way down.

6. With all clothes, place them on ironing boards in a way which best suits their shape.

7. Work around your clothes in a logical order, as this will help you ensure that you don’t miss any areas – around buttonholes or cuffs in particular.

8. Keep as much of the area of the item being ironed on the ironing board at any time, as you can then quickly put right any bits which crease while you’re working over them.

9 Finally, hang all your garments on a suitable coathanger – one which is appropriate for their weight – as soon as you’ve finished.

And the most important thing about the task so far not mentioned here which will help make it less daunting is to stay on top of the job! There’s nothing more disheartening than looking at a pile of clothes waiting to be ironed, and it’s guaranteed to get worse the bigger the pile gets. So set aside some time each week for working through it – you could even then reward yourself with a trip to the pub once it’s done to keep the motivation up!


Making sure that your family is well provided for in the event of your death

6 03 2013


Image via Flickr creative commons from docguy

Making sure that your partner and children are well provided for is perhaps the most basic duty of any parent. Granted, it might not be something we particularly like to give a great deal of thought to – but nevertheless it’s important to be prepared. What you need to remember is that in the event of your death, your family could be left all at sea. It’s hard enough to cope with the loss of a loved one in any event, but even more so when there are various financial and administrative loose ends which need to be tied up. It could be of immense value to your family if you ensure that there’s a will, life insurance cover and funeral plans are in place should the worst come to the worst.

Having life insurance cover should ensure that your family’s finances are protected in the event of your death. There are many different plans for you to choose from, so you need to ensure that you find one that’s appropriate for your family’s needs. An article from offers a number of tips for those thinking of taking out life insurance. The first thing you’ll need to think about is why you need to take out life insurance, and what your dependents’ needs are likely to be in the event of your death. You should then think about your finances, and consider how much a life insurance is likely to pay out should the worst happen.

You can find out more about life insurance cover by searching online – there’ll be price comparison websites and other ways you can judge which policy would be most appropriate for you. Gather as much information as you can about the various policies on offer. This should allow you to then make a more informed decision as to which one is likely to be best for you. Make sure you obtain multiple quotes, as well.

In addition, you should also ensure you draw up a will to determine how your assets are distributed in the event of your death. Dying without leaving a will behind could result in long-running and traumatic legal wrangling between those closest to you, and it probably goes without saying that this is something you’ll want to avoid. Another article suggests that you should start this process by drawing up a list of your closest friends and relatives. If you have juvenile children, you’ll need to think about who you want to assume the role of guardian, and you’ll also need to name an executor.

When working out who you’re going to bequeath your property to, make sure that you’re as specific as possible to avoid the possibility of uncertainty. If you have young children, you’ll need to set up a trust and appoint a trustee to manage it. You might also want to get in touch with a funeral director to discuss how you want your farewell service to be consulted. There are plenty of funeral directors to choose from, and you can find out more about Co-op funerals and other options simply by looking online.

Six Useful Tips for Getting Around in Snowy Weather

10 02 2013


Image from Flickr creative commons via DCSL

Snow is a weather condition which, above all others, tends to ensure that everyone, and everything, grinds to a halt. Here in the UK in particular, many of us become very frustrated by the way in which a few centimetres of snowfall seem to cause disproportionate disruption to transport and other services.

On the other hand, the sight of several centimetres of lying snow is very attractive to many people, and is irresistible for them, luring them outdoors to enjoy playing in it and to enjoy the changes to the landscape which it can help create.

Nevertheless, snow is always associated with a range of other winter conditions, and it is the many combinations of these which can really make it difficult to get around, and to find a place of safety.

Many people, though, still face the challenge of having to get around as normal when snow begins to fall, and do not have the option of being able to stay put and try to keep warm and sheltered once it hits.

For these people, the following tips can help them ensure that, as far as possible, their progress is not inhibited:

1. Keep your head covered – as this is the part of the body through which more body heat is lost than any other, it is a good idea to keep it covered. Wool is considered the best fabric for doing this, but seasoned outdoor venturers say that almost anything is better than no covering at all. Keeping your ears covered is also highly desirable, as they are highly susceptible to frostbite.

2. Dress yourself in layers of synthetic fabrics – wearing inner layers of synthetic material will help to effectively carry sweat away from your body. Failing this, wool is the best substance to use, as it helps retain the body’s heat inside your shell of clothing.

3. Keep your hands covered – Mittens are a better option than gloves, as they are better at retaining heat in your entire hand than gloves, which are not as good at preserving heat which can be lost through your fingers.

4. Cover your feet in the right material – cotton socks soak up moisture and wearing these chill the feet more rapidly than using main-made equivalents, such as polyester or polypropylene.

5. When walking in snow, always wear a good pair of sturdy shoes or, preferably snow boots, with a good grip. Ice grips, which simply slip on over your footwear to offer extra traction when walking on snow or ice are a very useful item.

Otherwise, tips for walking in snow include keeping your pace slow yet steady, and always watching where you are treading; always trying to plant your feet in fresh snow, or on snow which covers grass or a similar soft surface, as this will help absorb the impact should you slip and fall.

Finally, always try to keep your hands free when walking on snow, and avoid carrying items such as wallets or purses. In this way, you can use your hands to help brace yourself if you do fall, and absorb some of the impact, keeping it away from more exposed body areas such as your knees, hips, elbows, chin and head.

And of course, there is a wide range of protective wear on the market to help make you more confident when forced to negotiate thick snow. A good, warm pair of snow boots, for example, will help ensure that not only do you keep your footing when you cannot properly see the conditions underfoot, but that you can keep moving at a steady pace so that you can get to a warm place as quickly as possible.



How to Soundproof a Room

6 02 2013


Image from Flickr creative commons via williac

Whether you’re a budding musician or you have a noisy teenager in your house and you don’t want to upset the neighbours, there are a number of reasons why you might want to soundproof a room. Soundproofing involves using certain building materials or techniques to ensure that sound doesn’t escape a particular room. It could be that you want to use the room as a practice space to play music, or maybe you just want somewhere where you can really indulge yourself without having to worry about irritating those around you. Soundproofing a room – whether it’s a loft conversion or your living room – isn’t actually as fiendishly difficult as you might think, and can be done relatively simply provided you know what you’re doing.

A helpful article from offers a number of tips for those considering soundproofing a room. It’s worth remembering that there a number of changes you may have to make to the room to ensure that it’s fully soundproof – you may have to make alterations to the walls, ceilings, doors, windows and any other cracks or openings there might be. You might also want to install carpet and carpet padding on the floors, as well as adding a double layer of sheetrock on the walls with some sort of sound-dampening compound – possibly silicone – between them. This might sound like a bit of an effort but it’s relatively simple for anyone who’s a bit of a dab hand at DIY.

You could also choose to add sound-reducing materials – such as mass-loaded vinyl, rockwool insulation, fibreglass or foam panels – to the interior of walls to help ensure that sound waves don’t pass through. Sound waves lose their potency as they pass through mass and substances of different densities, so the more layers you have, the more effective your attempts at soundproofing are likely to be. Thick, solid doors and vinyl-framed, double or triple-glazed windows can also help to reduce the passage of sound. You should remember, however, that sound can escape through the gaps surrounding doors and windows. Applying caulk or weatherstrips can be added to the gaps surrounding door frames can help to reduce this.

Wall treatments can also help to render rooms soundproof. To do this, you’ll need to add or hang some sort of heavy material which can block the passage of soundwaves. Cardboard egg crates are frequently used for just this purpose, although they may not always be the most effective choice of material. Carpeting, manufactured panels and blankets can also be used, but again, the general rule of thumb is that the thicker the material, the more effective it’s likely to be.

According to, it’s worth considering which room to soundproof before you make a start. A cellar could be best suited to the purpose, as its concrete foundation already serves something of a soundproofing purpose. It may also be a good idea to choose a room with as few windows and doors as possible, because this means you have fewer gaps to worry about. Windows are particularly tricky to soundproof, and as cellars tend to have few if any windows this should mean you have less work to do to get the best possible results.

How to stay accessible when away in the great outdoors

4 02 2013

If you like to make the most of the countryside and enjoy getting out and about in forests, mountains and wilderness, then remembering to stay safe has to be one of your top priorities. Taking precautions and making sure that you remain safe is a great idea and the only sensible option.


This image via Flickr creative commons from bobcat123

Even if you are planning to enjoy a day out in the British great outdoors as opposed to the Blue Ridge Mountains then it still pays to make sure there is someone who knows where you are going. It is important to always check the weather before venturing out, but also remember that the weather in the UK can change very quickly and what at one moment is a bright sunny day can turn into a cold, misty and dangerous environment in a matter of moments. If something does go wrong then you are always going to be in a much better position if someone knows where you have gone. Staying in contact, staying accessible, is always worth remembering.

Many of us have come to rely on mobile phones these days and are used to having access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While this is great when you’re in a city or some other urban environment, it is easy to forget that mobile reception is not consistent across the UK and so it pays to think about the other ways that you can stay in touch. Getting to the top of a mountain and discovering that the valleys on either side are blocking the signal from antennas is not great when you have no other way of communicating with the outside world.

One option to consider is investing in a set of walkie talkies that will allow you to remain in contact with a base or, alternatively, with other walkers within your group who are out at the same time. Long-range walkie talkies or personal mobile radios allow people to communicate across an area of several kilometres and can provide a means of communication in inhospitable terrain that traditional mobile phones are not able to cope with. Also remember that dedicated outdoor radios are always going to be tougher and more durable than your average smartphone and, even if they do become damaged, are likely to cost far less to replace.

Another important thing to remember is the European international emergency number – 112. Regardless of what country you are in across Europe you will be able to call this number free of charge from any landline or mobile phone. What’s more, 112 is recognised in other countries around the world, including north America where it redirects to 911 and Australia where it redirects to 000.

Even if you are unable to take a communications device with you, it always pays to let someone else know where you are going. That might be a member of your family, but it could just as easily be the person who runs the accommodation where you’re staying on holiday. If you’ve booked accommodation through a vacation rentals firm then perhaps consider visiting a nearby pub where staff will be able to raise the alarm should you fail to return after a certain period of time. It might seem like you’re being over cautious but safety should always come first.