Driving in a convertible, especially during the drier summer season when you can take in the warm air and sunshine and feel the wind through your hair, is becoming an increasingly popular activity throughout the UK. For proof, just check out the stats in this infographic, which details not only the most popular convertibles that are sold, but how many are sold and where people are driving them to make the most of what these vehicles have to offer. If you want to do something different this summer, go ahead and hop in a convertible for a road trip throughout the UK or even into Europe.
Archives for October 2014
As with most things in life, when decorating a kitchen, preparation is the key to a professional finish. Without the right preparation, you will find that your kitchen is a mess with wallpaper falling off the walls and paint where you don’t want it to be. To make sure that you achieve at least a semblance of a professional job, here are a few tips on how to prepare your kitchen for the finish it deserves.
Make sure that you have everything you need before you start; not having the right tools and materials is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Having to buy things half way through a job is not only a nuisance; it could mean have to do it all again. Make a list of everything you will need, including the tools you will use. Measure surfaces to make sure you have enough materials, and buy the right materials for the job. Always add at least 10% to things like paint quantities and wallpapers.
Make sure that you are prepared for accidents like spillages and drips. Have plenty of dust sheets that you can lie on the floor, cover any items of furniture that you can’t remove, and fix the covers in place. Unless you have a very steady hand or are an expert at cutting in, you will need to mask off the edges of things like window frames and cupboard sides. Wiping oil based paint from your beautiful mahogany units is going to be something you want to avoid. Basically, if you are not decorating it, you want it covered.
Remove Kitchen Grease
Whether painting or papering, your new finish needs to bond with the surface it is being applied to, and this is where kitchens can become a nightmare. Grease is particularly difficult to remove by hand, especially along the edges of worktops and ovens, so you may want a little help here. The ideal tool is a steam cleaner, and the ones you will find on sites like www.karcher.co.uk are ideal for the job. Quick, easy and efficient, they will handle all the surfaces you need to tackle, and allow you to be confident about applying the new finish. The days of scrubbing walls with sugar soap are, thankfully, well behind us.
Any paint that is not firmly fixed to a wall will need to be removed with a scraper, and you will need to go back until you meet paint with a good bond. The edges will then need to be flatted back with a suitable abrasive paper to ensure no ridges show through your new finish. Applying paint over flaky paint will simply mean it falling off, making your kitchen look terrible.
Remove the Shine
Not only will paint not bond to shiny gloss paint, if you do not rub down the surface with a medium to fine grit paper, you risk any imperfections in the surface being magnified by the new finish. Anything that you rub down through the paint will need a coat of primer applied, so make sure you have that on your planning list. Once you have applied a primer to any surface, remember to rub that down too.
No Decorator would be seen without his filling knife; and neither should you. There are far too many holes and scratches in most kitchens to be ignored, and if you do, you can be sure they will become highly visible after redecorating. Walk around each surface and wall slowly, and fill any rough and uneven surface you see, allow it to dry, rub it back with a fine abrasive paper, and apply some primer. If you don’t do this, the job will look very amateur after it’s finished.
No professional would start decorating without going through these preparation steps; and if you want a professional looking job, neither should you.
Parenting is an amazing thing. We all love our children. They fill our lives with their excited chatter, their funny ways and their amazing personalities. However, there is no denying that at times, being a parent can be a hard job. There is always something to think about and always something that needs doing. Some days, parenting can take up every minute of every day and, before you know it, it is time to go to bed and you realise that you haven’t had any time to or for yourself all day.
For all of the positives that being a parent can bring, there are stresses too. Early mornings, endless bedtimes, car journeys, supermarket shopping, mealtimes, and getting children dressed all feature in the list of daily stresses that parents face. It can often seem like you have done a full day’s work before the 9am in the morning.
All parents deserve a break. So why not take one? One night off every now and then can be all it takes to refresh the batteries and remind yourself that you are not just someone’s mum or dad. Whether it is a night out with some friends, a date night with your partner, a night at the theatre or cinema, or just a meal out somewhere, it is a night for you to do something that you enjoy and to connect with other adults again.
Why not make it a regular event? If you regularly come into contact with other mums at a group, nursery or school, chat to them about the possibility of a regular mum’s night where you could all take it in turns to organise a night out. There will always be a group who would be so glad of the chance to go out with other parents and even if it was a monthly or half termly event, it would be something to looks forward to.
If you have close friends that you don’t usually have time to see, make time. Go for a drink in the local pub. Grab something to eat in a restaurant. Find something that allows you to sit and chat as a good gossip and a catch up can work wonders.
If you would prefer to spend the evening with your partner, find a babysitter and treat yourselves to a ‘date night’ where you can have an evening without any distractions from the children. Many couples enjoy this time to reconnect and relax and enjoy each others company and it can really improve your relationship.
Whatever you decide, the main rule is not to worry about the children children. This is a time for you and you know that they will be fine and well looked after. Don’t spend that time checking your watch and your phone as that really does defeat the object of having some time away. Whoever is looking after them would let you know if there was a problem. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your me time. You have certainly earned it.
The end of the school term is dawning once again. It seems that the kids have more holidays than adults! With the half term coming up, it’s time to plan what activities you are going to be doing with them during the week off. The weather is turning, and autumn is on its way. This can seem limiting for many people, who are unsure as to what to do with the kids when the rainy days are setting in. Fear not, there is a wealth of fun and educational activities that you can do the kids this upcoming half term. The week will pass in the blink of an eye.
Planning activities is important. After all, it makes sense to have a plan in place for activities. You can download templates online to assist you with the planning of the half term. It shouldn’t be too regimented, but keeping the structure in place is important for children. This is especially true for those that have only just started school this year.
With Halloween just around the corner, now is the perfect time to spend some time on arts and crafts. You can make witches hats, bake scary cupcakes and make bat-shaped biscuits. There is a wide range of Halloween based things that you can do with the kids. The scarier the better! Carving pumpkins is a fun way to get involved with the Halloween festivities.
Get Messy and Learn More about Science
Conduct scientific experiments in the home. Undoubtedly, your kids have been learning about science at home. What’s more, you can perform your own mini-experiments at home with ease. Get in the garden with a sieve and sift for wildlife. Talk about the different plants and animals within your own backyard. Spend an evening looking through binoculars at the night sky and learn more about the wider universe. The Online Star Register can give you some great pointers as to what to look for. Science doesn’t have to be limited to the classroom. Engage your child’s scientific mind in the home too. What’s more, October is the perfect month to enjoy the last of the moderate weather. Take advantage of this and get in the garden.
While the weather is somewhat more pleasant, take advantage of the countryside and go on a nature walk. You can even devise your own maps or bingo sheets. Get kids to mark off the animals, plants and birds that they spot on their walk. You can pick up cones, leaves and other objects and turn their nature walk into a fun arts and crafts activity when you get home. Nature walks are an excellent way to ensure that they are getting plenty of fresh air. It’ll do everyone a world of good to get out of the house!
Prepare For Christmas
With the dreaded C-word just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about Santa. You can write letters to Santa. Turn it into a fun poster activity. There is a wealth of things that you can, in regards to getting in touch with Santa. It’s a great activity, and the kids will love it.
If you like nothing more than spending an evening with your friends engaging in good conversation and eating quality food, you’ve come to the right place. Often, people find that planning their dinner parties involves a lot of work, and so we thought it might be wise to publish a post that contains some advice. While we can’t arrange the party for you, we can help by listing a number of different things you might like to consider. Remember, people will be talking about you for months if there are any major issues.
With all that in mind, you should take a few moments to read through all the points made below. Hopefully, they should make your life much easier. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not only the food you need to worry about. There are a number of other elements that require your attention. While we can’t cover everything in this short post, we’ll do our best to go over the basics.
Planning a dinner party is not like arranging birthday celebrations for your child. You need to send out invitations that ask your guests to RSVP. That is important because you’ll have trouble selecting your menu if you don’t know who you’re cooking for. Some of the friends will be unable to attend, and others may wish to bring guests of their own. If you want to make your invitations special, you should consider producing them at home. However, if you’re in a rush, there are plenty of good websites online that you could use.
Selecting your menu
Your menu will play a big role in other people’s perception of your dinner party, and so it’s vital that you get things right. For that reason, you should consider asking your guests if they have special dietary requirements on the invitations you send out. Some of them may be vegetarian, and others may be lactose intolerant. Once you have that information, choosing the best dishes to prepare should be much easier.
Depending on the amount of people you’re expecting at your party, you should arrange entertainment accordingly. Some people like to book musicians and such, but that’s only viable if you have a lot of people coming. It’s probably more sensible for you to buy or make some party games. People love that sort of thing when the drinks are flowing.
You’ll want to make your home look fantastic ahead of your dinner party. Considering that, you should spend a lot of time selecting the perfect decorations for your table. If this is a particularly special occasion, you might even like to invest in some customised party balloons. You can get them from the likes of www.balloonsgalore.co.uk. There are lots of websites that provide this service, and so you just need to find a reliable one with good reviews.
Now you’ve got all the basics covered, we’re quietly confident your night will go off without a hitch. As with anything in life, preparation is key.
We look forward to seeing you back here tomorrow for more interesting and useful articles!
Before we get into the detail of the article, I really want to thank the team here for letting me post here with them. It means a lot to be able to get something published for my Careers Business Blog at great site like this.
Experts believe that favouritism in families can cause lasting psychological damage – for golden children and the rest
My parents were hardly unique in having a favourite offspring. For my father, it was Steve — a selection made mostly on the basis of primogeniture. “Heir apparent” was the term my father used, and while I didn’t know what it meant, I was pretty sure that it didn’t apply to me. For my mother, the favourite was Bruce, the youngest. It’s one of the worst-kept secrets of family life that every parent has a preferred son or daughter — and the rules for acknowledging it are the same everywhere: the favoured kids keep quiet about their status, the better to preserve the good thing they’ve got going. The unfavoured kids howl about it like wounded cats. And on pain of death, the parents insist that none of it is true. The larger the family, the more acute the problem — simply because there are more aggrieved children.
Studies back this up. In one at the University of California Davis, researchers assembled a group of 384 adolescent sibling pairs and their parents. Overall, the study concluded that 65 per cent of mothers and 70 per cent of fathers exhibited a preference for one child — in most cases, the older one. But just because favouritism is everywhere doesn’t mean that it’s as easy to understand as it seems, or that there are universal truths about which kids will be tapped as the best-loved. “My mum didn’t like my older sister and did like me,” says Roseann Henry, an editor and mother of two girls. “Everyone assumed I had it great, except that my sister tortured me pretty much all the time — and really, what affects daily life more for a kid: the approval of a parent or the day-to-day torment of an older sister?”
If the parental habit of assigning different values to different children in a single brood can cause such pain, it’s a wonder that it ever became such a firmly established part of human nature. As with so much else, the favouritism impulse begins with the parents’ own survival needs; the biologically narcissistic act of trying to replicate themselves through succeeding generations. This impels mum and dad to tilt in favour of their biggest, healthiest, prettiest offspring on the theory that those kids will be more reproductively successful than others. It’s the same strategy that drives the crested penguin to kick her smaller egg out of the nest and the black eagle mother to watch idly while her bigger chick rips her smaller one to ribbons.
Humans, however, do bring more to the game. Compassion — a feature that is seen a lot more commonly among our species than among any other — is more likely to be at work. But so are some practices that we share with non-human species. In her elegant book,Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants and Natural Selection, the anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy cites work conducted with coots. Unlike other birds, coots don’t pour most of their parenting efforts into their strongest chicks, but spread the care around in the hope of maximising the number of offspring that survive. In case the mothers forget which chick is the youngest (coots do all look remarkably alike), nature provides an unmistakable cue in the form of a bit of fancy red plumage on the babies’ heads. Mothers will deliberately steer extra food to the reddest head in the bunch, reckoning that that baby needs the most care. Perhaps my mother was no different.
The pattern of parents with crossgender preferences in their kids — the dad who’s all but helpless in the face of his daughter’s charms, or the mum who adores her eldest son — is more common than we may think, as the psychologist Catherine Salmon discovered in a 2003 study published in the journal Human Nature. “I asked subjects to list which child in the family was their mother and father’s favourite,” she says. “Overall, the most likely candidate for the mother’s favourite was the first-born son and for the father, it was the last-born daughter. You would think fathers would favour their sons, but there is a tendency for them to dote on their little princess. Meanwhile, mothers tend to dote on their first-born sons.”
As a rule, first and last-born children have a better shot of being at least one parent’s favourite than middle kids do. “If you have a child who is different for any reason — especially being the only girl or boy,” Salmon says, “that child is going to get extra attention and investment. This takes away from the negative aspects of being in that disadvantaged birth-order position.”
Whichever child becomes the favourite, once the patterns are established, they’re awfully hard to break. Still, favouritism does have some flexibility to it, depending on what are known as family domains — the different venues or situations in which family members operate: at the dinner table or on the soccer field. And the shifting locales can lead to shifting preferences. The sporty dad who favours his athletic son may be driven to distraction by the boy’s restless energy when it comes time to read a book. When dad is looking for thoughtful parent-child bonding he may thus turn to his daughter. Over the long course of an entire childhood, the son may still come out on top, but the daughter will get enough emotional nourishment that the overall disparity may not wind up being terribly significant to her.
You can’t do much about your gender or your birth order, but you can learn to make the most out of the niche that you’ve got. The non-favoured daughter who talks film with her movie-loving mother may have come by her own love of the cinema naturally — or she may have come by it strategically, knowing that was one way to win some extra maternal attention. In this sense, kids are a bit like tree leaves, sorting themselves out so that they grow in a shaft of light not blocked by the leaf above. Sons and daughters learn to game the system on a more day-to-day basis too, flipping blatant favouritism to the shared advantage of all the siblings — deploying the “favourite” to ask for the things that they all want.
While all the siblings can reap small-scale benefits from such ploys, the larger issue for psychologists — to say nothing of parents themselves — is what the long-term damage of favouritism may be. Not all psychologists agree, but as a rule their advice to parents is simple: if you absolutely have to have a favourite — and you probably do — at least try to keep it to yourself.
Clare Stocker, a research professor in developmental psychology at the University of Denver, has amassed evidence showing that unfavoured children may turn their disappointment not only outward, in the form of aggression toward the first-tier brother or sister, but inward, in the form of private emotional turmoil. She studied 136 sibling pairs from one western US city and its suburbs and found that kids who felt less loved than other siblings were more likely to develop anxiety, low self-esteem and depression. Some of the subjects would begin exhibiting behavioural problems. That would lead parents to crack down on them, only widening the apparent gap between the kind of treatment mum and dad were meting out to them and the kind being lavished on the favoured child.
Patricia East, a developmental psychologist and researcher in the department of paediatrics at the University of California San Diego (and an identical twin), stresses that the parents’ goal should not be to treat all of their kids identically. That’s not only impossible, it’s unwise, since every child has a particular temperament and set of qualities that have to be dealt with in particular ways. Rather, the objective should be differential but fair treatment that, East says, plays well to kids’ unique qualities, their emotional optimism, their happiness. “It would be ideal if parents recognised these things and parented according to the individual child’s aptitudes and personality.” Attention to particular strengths can be paid around the home. It may be impossible not to get frustrated at the child who is not a natural student and forever tries to dodge homework, but it’s not impossible to balance that with applause for the same child’s woodworking gifts or fashion sense.
The damage that can be done to an unfavoured child throughout the long slog of childhood is easy to imagine and understand. Harder to fathom are the ways that the best-loved son or daughter can suffer. The biggest risk may be that when you spend your early life enjoying the huzzahs of your parents, you may be unprepared for a larger society in which you’re just one young adult out of many. There’s nothing wrong with a puffed-up child learning a little humility — indeed, it may be essential to social and professional success. But what happens when favoured kids don’t learn it? What happens when an outsized ego resists being brought down to size?
Favoured siblings have other burdens to carry well before adulthood — among them, a sense of guilt. One of the best things about favouritism conflicts is that they usually fade in significance as children grow older. “Usually”, of course, is not the same as always, and childhood resentments may never be entirely forgotten. Life issues, such as which child becomes the caretaker of aged parents or which is bequeathed most in the will, can often become occasions to refight old wars. Still, in the best of circumstances, even those battles can be fleeting. For every sibling bond damaged by parental favouritism there are many more brothers and sisters who make it to adulthood with their love — and their humour —intact. Even into middle age, my brothers and I — including Bruce — continue to try to coax our septuagenarian mother to concede that Bruce was her favourite son. And honouring the code of maternal omertà, she continues to deny it.
Reprinted by arrangement with Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. From The Sibling Effect (c) 2011 by Jeffrey Kluger. The book is available from The Times Bookshop, priced £16.99, free p&p, on 0845 2712134
‘I hate to admit it but I prefer my older son’
The question “Who is your favourite?” makes me recoil with horror. But every parent knows, deep down, that they have one. After all, most of us know whether we were, or were not, our mother or father’s golden child. Often hidden to the outsider, within the walls of the family the special light that falls on the favourite child pools around them as warm and golden as a spotlight. I know this because I was my mother’s favourite, something that my two siblings have tacitly acknowledged as we’ve grown up. Her glow of favour has accompanied me through life, even though she died when I was in my twenties. My siblings — married, with multiple children — are all highly successful, professionally and personally, whereas my life is romantically chaotic and financially precarious. But every time they score another big life goal (Another wedding anniversary! Another child at public school! Another huge house!), I’ve felt smug in a quiet confidence that I had something bigger and better than they could ever achieve because I was Mum’s favourite.
Twenty years later, and now a mother to two sons, which of my children is basking in the golden light? Could I love one child more than the other? Don’t I adore them both, equally, albeit in very different ways? The truth is more complex. Push me, and even though I find it deeply uncomfortable and wrong, in the most atavistic way I’ll concede that I do have a favourite. It’s not a nice feeling. It makes me feel sick. But I’d be lying if I denied it.
Having a favourite is not the same as choosing which child I’d pull from a burning building. That’s a question I’m completely incapable of answering, although I’ve run the scenario more than once in my head. But while I literally cannot answer that, I can tell you unquestionably that my older son is my favourite. I write this from behind a cloak of anonymity, as the idea of putting up my hand and admitting that I prefer one child over the other feels like a shameful betrayal.
Look at us from the outside as a family and I don’t think you’d be able to guess which son I mean. Having a favourite, I’ve realised, has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of love and physical affection I pour on both children, nor the material gain afforded to one over the other. If anything, the opposite is true. I’m much tougher on my favourite child. I think this is because he reminds me utterly of myself, and I have a creeping suspicion that this might be why he’s my favourite.
I look at him and I know how he’s feeling. He walks into an unfamiliar scenario and I know pretty much how he’ll react. He makes a new friend, fails a test, is dreaming of a new Lego set, is angry, bored, loving, scared, and without him saying it, I understand what he’s going through because the tempo of his emotional life, his longings, fears, joys, are very similar to mine. We’re made of the same stuff physically too. His hair, skin, smell is like my own. Of course, he’s only 12, so time will change this, but for the moment, I feel he’s as much a part of me and me a part of him as he was when he was a baby. I understand his DNA.
His brother is different. It’s true to say that I admire him more. He’s charismatic and absolutely singular, easily as accomplished as his older brother. He’s unlike me, or anyone else I know. I’m more fascinated by him because he’s less familiar to me than my favourite son. I never understand what he’s thinking and have no idea about the path in life he’s taking. Does the fact that he looks like his father, from whom I’m divorced, affect the way I feel about him? Perhaps. His genes — dark hair, lanky limbs, piercing eyes — are less familiar than the blonde solidity I share with my older son.
I love my younger son deeply, and if anything I cuddle him more, pull him towards me more, linger a little longer over his bedtime story to (over)compensate, perhaps, for my subconscious feeling of loving him, if not less, then in a different way. I argue with him less than my favourite, too. When I put pressure on my favourite to get a better mark in maths, chastise him for rushing his homework, scold him for being greedy or selfish, I feel that I’m reprimanding myself, and I know he can handle it. His faults are like my own. I know exactly how much he can take, in the same way that I know myself.
I treat his younger brother with more caution because I have a less instinctive sense of how he can cope.
I feel a deeper sense of intimacy with his older brother. It’s the same intimacy that I shared with my mother. It’s uncomfortable to admit as a parent, but if you claim to love all your children equally I’d put money on the fact that you’re lying.
This post was contributed by the Tech Blog who is a regular poster both here on their own blog. You can catch them on twitter, facebook or even their very popular youtube channel.
Recently, several journalists have been claiming that the dining room is ‘dead’ to those with wealth. This, however, simply isn’t true for the average family and, if anything, it’s more necessary now than ever.
The dining room is the one room that brings all of the family together on an evening. More often than not, we’ve all had a hard day, no matter whether that hard day took place at school or in the office. So, when we get home on an evening we want to sit down, relax, and fill our bellies whilst hearing about everyone’s respective days. Nowadays, it’s all too easy to make tea, take it into the living room and eat it while watching the television.
This is understandable, particularly after a hard day. However, tea time is the perfect time to bring the family together. So, make the dining room more inviting, and a place the whole family enjoy. Here’s how you can do it:
1) Make the Dining Room a Feature
Too often, the dining room just becomes an extra room in the house. It becomes a place for extra storage, or a place to dump bags and books and shoes. Getting out of this habit is pivotal for the room’s long term utility. Be strict on what the dining room is used for and you’ll increase its utility and appeal.
2) Upgrade Your Furniture
If you don’t use your dining room properly then it’s likely that it’s getting a bit outdated. To prevent this, update it and make a statement. Quality dining room furniture from somewhere like the Trade Furniture Company will spice up any room, making it visually appealing as well as practical.
3) Banish the Television
Thirdly, don’t allow the dining room to become an extended version of the living room. Banishing the television will help you properly enjoy your new room, encouraging discussion and family bonding time over dinner. A lack of a television will force you into conversation, bringing your family closer.
4) Let in the Light
Finally, make your dining room as light as possible so you can use it to its full potential. By making the room lighter (even through something as simple as repainting the walls a lighter, fresher shade), the room will become more appealing at all times of day. This means that, although you can use it at tea time, you can also make it the perfect room (away from the television), for the children to do their dreaded homework!
So, there we have it, simple ways that you can make your dining room perfect for all of the family. You want to create a room the whole family can enjoy and a place where everyone comes together. Follow these four simple tips and you can do just that.
If you provide care for an elderly loved one, or are just concerned about their medication and how they are taking it, taking some steps to get a little more organised can be really effective. We’ve put together some tips for doing just that to help keep them safe, happy and organised.
Keep a list of all medications they are on
If they have a lot of health issues and are on a lot of different medications, it’s a really good idea to keep a list of them all so you know exactly what they are taking. This is also really useful for any doctors or hospital appointments as you can take it with you to discuss with the doctor or specialist.
Invest in a pill organiser
Especially if your elderly loved one has cognitive problems, investing in a pill box to help them know exactly what medication to take and when can literally be a lifesaver. They’re also really cheap, as you can see on this website.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion
If you are concerned with the medication your loved one is on, whether it’s the amount or the certain pills they’re on, for example, you are well within your right to ask for a second opinion. This is really common and is nothing to feel uncomfortable about.
Ensure they are being stored safely and correctly
Medication that isn’t stored properly can run the risk of becoming unsafe and can be deemed unusable. The leaflet within the medication should tell you how to store it effectively, but if you are ever unsure, be sure to ask your GP or pharmacist how to store it so you can put your mind at rest.
Speaking to their GP or pharmacist will be one of the most useful and effective ways of getting organised as they will be the ones who know exactly what medication your loved one is on and they will have all the knowledge you need to help keep them safe.
Get the dosage evaluated regularly
Going back to the doctors for regular checkups is really vital if your loved one is on medication, especially if the medication is quite heavy or they are on lots of different things. This is the only way of getting the dosage evaluated too which is important as the dosage will need to be just right to get them well and healthy.
Understand any side effects from the medication
Reading the leaflets that come with the medication should not be something that is avoided. Also, asking the GP or pharmacist what the most likely/common side effects are is a good idea too. If there are no alternatives to the medication they are on and the side effects are unpleasant, having some extra in-home help can be a really good idea. It’s well worth looking at companies like Extra Care at Home that have a range of care options for everyone.