Archives for March 2014

Tips For Remodelling Your Bathroom

bathroom

Updating your bathroom is a great way to further add value to your home. It isn’t always easy to know where to start, and it all depends on your home, your tastes and your prospective buyers.

Layout and Functionality

Who uses the bathroom? This makes a big difference on the layout and the functionality of your remodel. A master bedroom en-suite may have a more elegant feel, with marble under-floor heating and perhaps a walk in shower. The colours should be neutral and calming, making use of the natural light. A guest bathroom may incorporate more storage for your guests, so they don’t feel that they are invading your space! A children’s bathroom may have a double sink, to speed up those mornings!

Help or no help?

Are these remodelling tasks you can do yourselves? Or is DIY help required? Look at online tutorials and do plenty of research, more often that not someone will have already had the same problem as you and there will be a handy step-by-step YouTube video for you. You will probably find, however, that the majority of the jobs you will be able to do yourself – but may need an extra pair of hands now and again!

Decorating

Bathrooms can become out dated very quickly; and quite often bathrooms don’t need a full remodel, just a bit of extra attention! A slick of paint can do the world of good, a re-grout between your tiles? Often white tiles can easily be updated with coloured grouting, try dark blue to create a modern, trendy look or why not create a pattern with mosaic tiles. You don’t need to spend a lot updating your bathroom; Ikea has plenty of trendy, affordable, varied options to choose from.

Know your plumbing

Keep all updates and renovation in keeping with your original plumbing, the last thing you need is a surprise, costly plumbing accident. Try not to block main ventilations of the room such as a window or a fan, and if you do not have ventilation into the room, introduce a window or fan to prevent mould – this should be number one on your remodelling list!

Extra features

Does your bathroom allow for plenty of storage? A towel rail? Cupboard for toiletries and cleaning products? Put extra thought into what needs a bathroom offers and whether you cater for them all, putting yourself into your buyers shoes will further increase the value of your bathroom remodel.

How to Care for Your Appliances

appliance

More often than not, we take the appliances in our home for granted, rarely giving them much thought until something goes wrong. However, taking the proper care of your appliances, and ensuring that they are maintained regularly can increase their efficiency quite substantially. Here we take a look at how this can be achieved with some of our most popular household appliances.

Keeping the Cold In:

It is important to check regularly that the seals on the door of your fridge freezer are tight; if not, cold air will escape, resulting in a loss of energy. Seals that fit and are working properly will show some resistance when the door is pulled open. If you discover any broken or badly fitting seals, they should be replaced immediately. Clean the inside of your fridge freezer often, and do not overload with contents, as this can affect efficiency. It is important to clean the condenser coils at the back of the appliance by gently using a brush or a vacuum cleaner to remove any dust or debris; doing this regularly can save up to 30% of your fridge freezer’s energy consumption. Ensure freezer compartments are defrosted regularly, cleaning the area thoroughly after; those that have an auto-defrost option should still be cleaned out every six months. Most fridge freezers have several lights, so if one goes out make sure you have a replacement, rather than waiting until all the lights are not working.

Take the Strain Out of Washing:

Washing machines, tumble driers and dishwashers take a battering in most households, as they are often used daily. Failure to maintain these items could result in more energy being used, inefficient cycles and appliances that breakdown and need replacing earlier than necessary. For tumble driers, check that the lint is cleared from inside (and underneath) the appliance before every use, as an accumulation can slow down the drying time (it is also a fire risk). With washing machines, check the hoses regularly, and replace them if they are showing signs of wear and tear. It is also a good idea to clean inside after every use, even if it just a wipe with a damp cloth. Maintenance checks on your dishwasher should include unclogging spray nozzles, clearing the drain for any food or debris, and inspecting the racks for chips.

In hard water areas, water-using appliances face even more of a tough time. Firstly, hard water prevents the soap (washing powder or dishwasher detergent) from working effectively, as more is needed to get items clean. However, the most worrying and destructive effect of hard water is the limescale build up left behind. This coats heating elements, pipes and anything else it comes into contact with, resulting in poor performance, risk of flooding and a shortened life of the appliance. The best maintenance and care you can provide for your water-using appliances, if you live in a hard water area, is a block salt water softener. Water softeners offer an unobtrusive, easy to use system that will transform the efficiency of your appliances, saving you time and money. However, as with other appliances, it also needs regular maintenance and care. One way to do this is to ensure that you use high-quality block salt like this, as this will maximise its efficiency and longevity.

Be Kind to Your Hoover:

Very few of us give much thought to maintaining our vacuum cleaners; they do the job, and then invariably get stuffed back in the cupboard. However, as with larger appliances, regular maintenance is imperative if you want your vacuum cleaner to work efficiently. Most of us will admit to putting off emptying the hoover bag as long as we can, but it is actually a good idea to change or empty them before they are full, as this will increase air-flow and performance. A clogged filter can also impede air-flow and performance, so if it is removable, wash it with warm water (alternatively, use another hoover to blow out the debris and dust). As tempting as it is just to throw the hoover back in its cupboard, make sure that the cord is untangled; kinks make the cord more prone to breaking. Inspect the hoover brushes and nozzle attachments for threads or particles that could hinder the air-flow, and remove them. The wheels should be checked for debris, as this could restrict movement and scratch your floor surface. A cracked hose allows air to escape, and should be replaced immediately (although patching up with tape is a suggestion in the meantime); it is also a good idea to inspect inside the hose for any obstructions, as these will reduce the suction performance. Lastly, as annoying as a dangling hose is, you should never hang it up on a nail: this can cause kinks or even breaks.

Blend Appropriately:

Even small kitchen appliances need our care to keep them in good working order. Blenders, food processors and choppers all have different functions, yet their uses often seem to overlap; this causes confusion regarding their capabilities. For example, blenders should only be used for soft foods, and not for ice, meat or hard vegetables. Using it for these purposes will reduce its efficiency and life. Use only as intended (if you aren’t sure, refer to the manual) and remember not to use them for extended periods, as they could burn out. Removing stains and stubborn food from blenders and food processors is often tricky; to help with this, try putting some warm water with a little washing up liquid after it’s been used, and set the appliance going. This will make cleaning much easier.

Don’t Ignore Your Toasters and Kettles:

Kettles and toasters are often neglected, with very little thought given to them. However, they could also benefit from a little attention. When using a kettle, ensure you are boiling enough for your needs: you don’t need to fill it to capacity for one cup of tea, and at the same time, using too little water can have disastrous consequences. Emptying any surplus water, wiping the inside with a cloth, and leaving the lid off after use helps combat the minerals that find their way into the kettle, which cause furring and unsightly flecks in your drinks. However, for hard water areas, the only way to successfully stop the minerals from reaching the kettle (and damaging it), is by installing a water softening system, as described above. With toasters, it is important to clean out any leftover crumbs; if there is a tray, empty it regularly, if not, hold the toaster upside down over a piece of newspaper and shake. Too many crumbs limit efficiency, but they are also a potential fire hazard. Clean the exterior of the toaster with a damp cloth and a little vinegar from somewhere like Tesco to bring up the shine.

Throwing a baby shower for my best friend

baby showers

Recently one of my best friends announced she was pregnant and due in a few months– 2 of my girl friends and I decided to gather our ideas together and organise a baby shower for her. I hope she is not reading this (I don’t think she is) but here are some great baby shower ideas we have come up with (and I have added some tips too):

What you need to think about when preparing & budgeting for a baby shower:

  1. Location
  2. Invites & Stationary
  3. Decor & Flowers
  4. Food & Drink
  5. Entertainment, games & prizes

1. We were debating when to throw the baby shower. Initially, we wanted to throw the party once the baby was born but we thought it would be to hectic for the mum-to-be so we have settled to do it in a 3 months’ time (which is a 4-6 weeks) before she is due.

We decided to throw the baby shower at my house simply because we didn’t want to worry the mum-to-be and we can make it a surprise … ooohhh, don’t you just love surprises.

2. After doing a lot of research of theme for baby showers, we all really liked the ‘nursery rhyme & baby names’ theme. We decided to use the themes to send the invitations – every invite said: ‘Once upon a time there was a girl called ….’ where we outlined the details of the party. We asked everyone to bring their favourite book or nursery rhyme and our plan is to go over these at the party to make sure the mum-to-be is familiar with all the words.

3. The decorations will be around the theme too. I plan to put lots of nursery rhyme words around my house and get her to sing them all – bring a bit of fun to the party.

In the invite I asked members to buy baby shower gifts no more than £20 and if there was a way they could stick to the theme it would be great but not necessary. I will get all the presents the day before the party and hang them round the house all wrapped – the mum-to-be will have to guess what the present is and who it’s from.

4. I will be serving light food & drinks too.

5. The best part will be giving the mum-to-be challenges in a certain time frame: For example, I am planning to buy a doll and get her to change a baby’s nappy in 15 seconds(being a first time mum it will be great to watch) – I need to think of a few other ideas.

During the party, I will also be playing pass-the-parcel so everyone will have a chance to win small goodies. We will also be playing ‘sweet sweet baby’ which is a fun game – every guest will be picking a word or phrase out of a hat and they need to relate it to pregnancy or parenting.

I am still in the planning process and it’s all going well. Can you guys suggest anything else I can do? I am looking forward to the party and will let you all know how it goes.

Storage Tips for Moving Home

Everyone who has ever done it knows how stressful moving home is. Even after all the legal negotiations are finalised, the pressure builds as you get into the round of notifying utility companies, switching phone, broadband and TV services, and notifying authorities of your pending address change. Packing also has its stresses, so here are some tips on how to organise your packing and storage to make things a little less stressful:

home

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Packing takes longer than you think it will. Starting early is vital if you’re not to pile on the stress as moving day creeps closer. Arm yourself weeks ahead of time with packing boxes and start as soon as you have a completion day by packing away the things you can live without for a while.

Items such as books, craft or hobby equipment, spare crockery and ornaments are things you can do without but which take time to pack safely. While you’re in the early stages of packing, take advantage of this enforced time of handling everything you possess to have a declutter at the same time.

Get kids involved. Give them their own boxes and invite them to pack up their toys. Doing their bit can help ease the stress they also feel at the prospect of moving house, and will help them feel more in control of their situation.

Store boxes in the room where you packed them so you know what’s inside. Before you move them, clearly label the outside with which room they belong to and what they contain. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your new home with 10 boxes labelled ‘kitchen’ but no idea which one holds the kettle.

Taking Advantage of Self Storage Options

There are times when putting items into self storage makes sense when you’re moving home:

  • You need to store larger items so you can prepare or decorate your house for sale
  • You’re moving into temporary rented accommodation because there’s a delay in the new house being ready and you don’t want to lose your sale.
  • You’re downsizing and don’t have room for everything in the new house

Self storage options make these, and other, situations easier to cope with. You’re not faced with having to sell items you’d rather keep, and you don’t need to bother friends or relatives to store items for you. Many people don’t realise that self storage can be a very short term arrangement, even as short as one week. Flexible terms mean you can keep a storage unit for as long or short a time as you need, with no long contracts to tie you in.

Working With Your Removal Company

Having taken care of the packing and arranged for storage of things that aren’t going with you on the day, turn your thoughts to your removal company:

  1. Stay in touch with them and keep them up to date on any possible changes in your schedule. If you communicate with them and give them as much notice as possible of any changes,  they’re much more likely to work with you as far as possible without you incurring additional fees.
  2. Make sure you know whether you’ll be expected to help carry boxes or furniture. Smaller removal companies, or a man and van arrangement, may not have the staff to do all the work for you. If you need extra helpers, make the arrangements as soon as possible.
  3. Let neighbours know your moving date, informing them when the removal van will be parked outside, and make sure someone is around to keep an eye on the van and your belongings while you’re busy fetching and carrying.

It’s easy to feel at the mercy of a hundred and one outside factors when you’re moving home but, with a little forethought, it’s possible to stay on top of everything. Allowing plenty of time and organising effective storage during the move are the two key elements in reducing house-moving stress.

Drew writes for Big Yellow Self Storage. For more information on the moving process, see their useful Removal Guide.

The Most Effective Ways to Kill Fleas Wherever They May Be

Getting rid of pesky fleas can be very hard if you don’t follow a specific removal procedure. Cats and dogs are a common target for fleas, however; humans can also be at risk from the itchy little critters! Fleas should be targeted on all of your pets, in the home, and even in the garden in order to get rid of them properly. Fleas can make pets and owners miserable, especially if it gets to a point where their eggs have been spread all over the house. Here’s how to go about killing fleas in the most effective way wherever they may be:

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Photo Author: Flickr

Getting Rid of Fleas on Cats and Dogs

Start off by treating your pets with a finely spaced comb. This shouldn’t be used as a treatment alone, however; it’s a good start. Every Time you brush through your pet’s fur, dip the comb in a bucket of hot water mixed with washing up liquid. Continue until you’ve done your pet’s whole coat. You should then try some spot on flea treatment, and maybe even a flea dip. This process needs to be ongoing for some weeks until you’re sure the fleas have gone, as they can continue to hatch after treatment. Take a look here for more pet flea problems.

Getting Rid of Fleas on Kittens

If you have a kitten under 12 weeks of age, you need to take extra care. You’re better off using more natural methods, as these will be less harmful to your kitten. If your kitten’s outbreak is quite severe, use a flea dip. Use a flea shampoo too, but avoid tea tree oil as this is toxic to cats!

Killing Fleas on Bedding

You also need to concentrate on killing fleas on your pet’s bedding if you’re going to take the time to remove fleas from them, otherwise your efforts will have been for nothing. Throw all of your pet’s items in the washing machine, and throw out anything that could have flea eggs on it that you can’t wash.

Getting Rid of Fleas in Your House and On Your Carpets

Get a good hoover if you haven’t got one already, like a water based Dyson. Thoroughly hoover everything you can to remove as many flea eggs as possible, and keep your pets out of the house for the time being. Throw the hoover bag away afterwards to prevent an outbreak.

Killing Fleas in Your Garden

Prune and trim your garden foliage, and then use sulphur granules in your garden to make all pests swiftly up sticks and move.

Protecting Yourself from Fleas

Try to minimise contact with your pets until you’re sure they are gone. Wash your hair regularly, and wear clothing that covers you up to avoid flea bites.

You need to be consistent when it comes to getting rid of fleas on your pets and in your home, so don’t give up and remain vigilant!

 

 

6 Tips on Cleaning the House with Ease

cleaningCleaning the whole house is more frequently stressful than fun. Especially if he or she is working without the right strategy, it would probably be more tiring and stressful than any other work. Below are some tips on how to clean the house with ease and stress free.

1. Work with a plan.

Just like in doing other things, a plan is needed in cleaning the house. Make a checklist on what part of the housed need to be cleaned. Make also a time table as to what is to be cleaned first and how much time is to be spent on that particular part. Prepare also all the needed materials in cleaning like, soap, detergent, and other materials. In making a plan, it is important to know which part of the house is dirtiest. Although commonly, the kitchen is the part of the house that would take the longest time to clean, houses differ because of several factors. Making a plan would help a lot. It can save time and helps in making the work systematic.

2. Work from top to bottom.

When cleaning the whole house, always start from the top most part going down. This strategy makes the work systematic. The dirt from the upper part like the ceiling falls down the floor and gets picked up last. This is one way of saving time and energy in cleaning.

3. Use materials that would lighten the weight of the chore.

In choosing materials to be used, consider the performance of the material or equipment to be used. For example in choosing soap, detergents, or disinfectant, choose the one that would make the work lighter rather than harder and slower. In cleaning the floor, use a vacuum cleaner like the Shark Sonic Duo instead of brooms and rags.

4. Throw away the junks

In cleaning the house make sure that the unnecessary materials are well disposed. Check the cabinets and other containers for things that are no longer useful. Keeping useless materials in the house just adds burden when cleaning. Throwing away this stuff will help one save space, and save time for future cleaning.

5. Work from room to room

Before cleaning the house, make sure to check every room of the house and identify the dirtiest part. It is always better to cleanthe dirtiest room first. Don’t jump from room to room leaving one room unfinished. Work also from corner to corner. Make sure the room is totally clean before going to start cleaning another room.

6. Work with happy thoughts!

All chores become easy when done with happy thoughts. Working with a lively music playing in the background helps one to feel good while doing the job. Someone can clean the sink while singing or dance while vacuuming the floor. Cleaning the house with happy thoughts can surely be stress free and fun!

With these 6 tips on cleaning the house with ease, anyone can make their homes shine! It is good to put in mind that a clean house promotes peaceful and happy living.

Expect The Extraordinary From Cirque Du Soleil At The o2 Arena

Cirque Du Soleil

Without a doubt, Cirque De Soleil is probably one of the most popular and highly praised contemporary circus groups in the world.The Canadian-based entertainment company has proudly described itself as being a “dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment”.  It was founded in 1984 by 2 former street performers Gilles Ste-Croix and Guy Laliberte and is located in the inner-city area of Montreal, Quebec known as Baie-Saint Paul.

In a very deliberate move, the company has created shows that lack performing animals and instead rely upon a more character-driven and theatrical approach helped define their shows as contemporary circus.  This is still very much the case today.  Each and every Cirque Du Soleil show is a synthesis and amalgam of circus styles from all over the world.  There is always a central story and theme that holds everything together, with live music.  Even the more mundane parts of this type of show are enlivened by Cirque Du Soleil performers changing and removing props during the show, rather than stagehands.  This helps each show to be a completely immersive experience for the audience.

In 2014 Cirque Du Soleil is celebrating the 15th Anniversary of one of its most-loved shows – Dralion with a huge tour, including stops in the UK.  Dralion takes its inspiration from the never-ending goal of harmony between nature and humans and draws heavily from Eastern philosophy pertaining to this constant quest.  It combines Cirque’s multidisciplinary approach with 3000 year old traditional Chinese acrobatics for a truly mind-blowing show.

In the show, the four main elements that govern the natural order of things on the planet take human form.  Each of these elements in human form is represented by an appropriate colour.  Earth is ochre, fire is red, water is green and air is blue.  Without giving too much away about how everything turns out, you can expect a truly spectacular display of choreography, acrobatic skill and a storyline that sees cultures blending, Nature and Man becoming one and balance being restored to the world.

You can expect to experience a heady mix of live music and singing; contemporary dance, beautifully crafted costumes and all manner of acrobatic skills such as: single hand balancing, tricks involving bamboo poles, juggling, trampoline acrobatics, hoop diving and skipping rope stunts that you won’t believe and so much more.  If you live in London, then there is surely only one place you will want to see the action taking place.

Additionally, if you are used to seeing performances by Cirque Du Soleil on televised events such as the Royal Variety Performance or have seen the company’s motion picture, seeing it in the flesh is a whole different experience.  To avoid disappointment, you need to consider buying Cirque Du Soleil o2 tickets.  It is the 4th time that the group has taken a show to the o2 Arena and each and every time the tickets have sold out and there have been rave reviews in the press.

Car Buying Services Make it so Easy for Mums Like Me

Hi all, I just thought I’d share with you a wonderful experience I had recently when selling my car. You see, the thing was I didn’t have a lot of time to waste marketing my car and trying to sell it to people only for them to mess me around – as you all know, I’m a busy mum with kids to take care of! In my mind, this left me with no alternative but to use a car buying service. I was a little dubious at first – perhaps if I just spent a little more time trying to sell the car privately, I would get a better deal? But no, I’m so glad I did what I did – mums know best, after all! Read on for the rest of my story including the valuation on my car and how it works:

7996239942_7153471b3b_bWhy I Used This Service

As I mentioned before, I’m a very busy mom. If I’m not dressing the kids, feeding the kids, bathing the kids, putting the kids to bed, or playing with the kids, then you can pretty much put money on the fact that I’ll be getting some much needed beauty sleep. I feel as if I get little or no time at all to myself most days – I can’t even have a wee without one of my beloved children coming to join me in the bathroom. I knew that trying to sell my car privately would stress me out, and stress my kids out due to a domino effect (if I’m happy, the family is happy!). Was I willing to sacrifice the little free time I had in order to sell my car privately, perhaps taking months of my time? Hell no! I decided to do what was right for myself and my family, and use a car buying service.

The Benefits

The benefits of using a service like this were invaluable to me. I’ll name just a few or I could be here all day (the kids won’t like that):

  • More time to spend with my family.

  • Less hassle than selling the car privately.

  • No chance of dealing with ‘tyre kickers’ – you know you have a serious buyer right then and there!

  • Feels like a weight off your shoulders.

  • It was quick and simple to do.

I feel that those benefits were the most important for me when selling my car. Here’s how I did it…

How I Did It

You start off by answering a simple questionnaire about your vehicle, which will then give you a valuation. You’ll answer questions regarding:

  • Your reg.

  • The history of your vehicle.

  • The condition of your vehicle.

You then enter your contact details and somebody promptly gets back to you with a valuation. If you’re happy with your valuation like I was, you can then choose to sell your vehicle to the car buying service. I can’t recommend services like this enough, it certainly made my life much easier and my purse a little happier!

 

5 Things You Can Do to Educate Your Kids About the Great Outdoors

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Credit for image

These days, most kids spend the majority of their time sat at home playing with their friends over WiFi using an Xbox or similar games console. This is in stark contrast to the way in which most of us were brought up, where the very idea of staying inside during the summertime was frowned upon. Kids need to regain their love of the outdoors, as it helps them to learn about themselves and the world around them. On top of this, playing outside helps them to gain essential social skills they might never master whilst sat in front of a computer.

With this in mind, my article today will highlight five things you can do to educate your kids about the great outdoors. There are obviously many other ideas you could try out (and I implore you to), but the suggestions made underneath this introductory paragraph should be enough to get you started. Depending on whereabouts in the world you live, some of the points made might not be that suitable, so just use your common sense, and your kids should be out building dens and climbing trees in no time.

1 – Start Keeping Your Own Chickens

Not only will you get fresh eggs every single morning, but you’ll also inspire your children to get up early and take a few steps outside. Kids love having farmyard animals like this in the garden, and all you really need is some basic agricultural equipment from a company like Tow and Farm to dig out your coop and get started.

2 – Grow Your Own Vegetables

It’s vitally important that all children get to see the path of another life-form from birth to death to help them put their own existence into perspective. It’s also important to teach them how to be more self sufficient and why the outdoors is so special. Growing your own vegetables in the garden should help you to accomplish this.

3 – Take Them Fishing

Whilst it might be a slow starter, all children will love fishing from the moment they catch their first tiddler. Taking them down to your local pond or lake and placing a rod in their hands will almost certainly teach them about patients, but it will also show them how exciting the world beyond their bedroom can be.

4 – Go On A Picnic

Eating outside is yet another great way of making them understand how important it can be to spend time away from the house. Perhaps you live near to a national park, or maybe you reside close to a beach. Either way, spending your Sunday afternoons talking long walks and then sitting down on the floor to eat together is often a fantastic means of helping them to get some fresh air.

5 – Start Rock Climbing

Obviously, you won’t want to do this without the assistance of trained instructors, but as there are so many specially designed outdoor climbing walls, you should have no trouble finding somewhere suitable. The benefits of doing this include; limiting your child’s fear, boosting their confidence and teaching them about mother nature in a way they will have never experienced before.

So there you have it my every enduring friends. Now you’ve got no excuse for sitting on the sofa all weekend while your kids take on Delta Team through the video game “Call of Duty”. The world is an amazing place; it would be a shame if they never thought to take a look.

Have fun!

 

Cheltenham Prepares For Festival

horses

Over 200,000 spectators will attend Cheltenham Festival next week for the four-day national hunt meeting where the best horses from the UK and Ireland takes each other on.

The Festival, as it is commonly known, attracts people from outside of the sport to attend a day’s racing. Generally, they enjoy it that much, they return the following year.

The atmosphere during Cheltenham is what most people remember from their visit to Prestbury Park. Race-goes are always in jubilant mood, whether they have backed a winner or not.

Irish racing fans play their part in the event as 10,000 make the trip across to England each year. Some have saved all year long just to be able to afford a weeklong stay in the town.

Each of the 27 races across the four days means so much to connections, whether it is the jockey, trainer or owners of the horse. The winning runner is cheered back to the enclosure by the packed crowd at the racecourse following each event.

Day one at Cheltenham is known as Champion Day and features the load roar of the crowd as the starter lets the tape go for the opening race of the week. The feature contest of the day is the Champion Hurdle, as the best of the 2m division jump hurdles around the course.

The following day has traditionally become known as Ladies Day. Not only does racing take place, but there are prizes for the best dressed women, among other fashion events throughout the afternoon.

St Patrick’s Day is celebrated on day three, despite it being a couple of days earlier. Unsurprisingly, spectators tend to splash out on one or two pints of Guinness during the celebrations.

Finally, the best is saved until last as Cheltenham Gold Cup Day concludes the meeting. This features the blue riband event of the sport, the race that everybody in racing wants to win.