Perfecting Your Work Life Balance


Burnout has become an epidemic among the working population of the UK. The pressure is on to excel at work and get results, and that can drive people into unhealthy patterns that undermine their mental and physical health. Burnout is a subtle thing – it’s a gradual escalation that you may not notice from day to day until it’s gone too far and you’re suffering from stress and isolation.

Today we’re presenting a few ways you can make sure your work-life balance is healthy, so you are too!

Working from Home

If you’re being crushed by your commute, one compromise it’s worth seeking with your employer is regularly scheduled working from home time.

A long or difficult commute can pile on the stress and leave you exhausted before you even reach the office. By the time you get home, you’re at the end of your reserves and can only collapse into bed. If you’re able to work from one or two days a week, you have longer to sleep, and can turn off at the end of the day and enjoy your evening, so it’s well worth looking for London storage companies and clearing out space to create a home office.

Getting Perspective

If you feel like you’re disappearing into your work, it’s worth getting an outside perspective to talk through the issues. Whether it’s a professional counsellor or simply a trusted friend, talking through your situation with them can help you realise if you’re putting yourself through an unreasonable ordeal! Everyone has busy times at work, and talking to someone from outside the situation can help you realise if crunch has become a routine for you.

If you’re talking with a friend try to make sure it’s someone from outside your office and industry. Stress can become competitive when people are working closely together, with people striving against each other to be the last one in the office. Someone you trust from a different walk of life can give you a more objective opinion.

Talk to Management

Assuming you work for a reasonable employer, they’re going to want to avoid their talent burning itself out over the course of a couple of years. Speaking with your manager about your workload could get you more support and resources, redistribute work more reasonably, or even simply introduce new systems to measure work to ensure you’re working smart rather than simply hard.

Of course, if they’re not interested in providing any support for overstretched employees, this could be a signal that they aren’t a good employer in the long term and it’s time to start looking for another job!

Three Types Of Blankets That You Really Need


Blankets aren’t just for tucking into your bed and curling underneath for sleeping — there are plenty of terrific reasons to have blankets in your home. If you are a crafty person or have experience with knitting or crocheting, you should make the following three blankets for your house.

A Blanket to Get Cozy on the Couch  

Your home should always have a crafted blanket resting on your couch — it’s ideal for when you’re watching a movie or reading a book and feel too chilly to get comfortable. If you don’t already have one of these blankets sitting on your couch, you should knit one to stop the cold from ruining your relaxation time. Go to the website Yarnspirations to find the right knitting tools and yarns, then have them shipped right to your front door. The website will have a large number of patterns for blankets, throws and afghans to try out — consider a cable knit or thick slip stitch pattern to end up with an incredibly cozy blanket.

A Piece to Tie the Room Together  

While blankets are primarily used for warmth and comfort, they are also great pieces that can show off your personal style. A blanket can always be draped along a couch, chair or bed as a unique centerpiece or dramatic accent in a room. Make sure that you craft a blanket that will pair well with the room’s interior design, furniture style or theme. If you want your space to have some retro flair you can knit an awesome bohemian blanket to match the atmosphere — the bright colours and bold patterns will blend in with all of your boho décor. If you would describe your room’s style as rustic chic inspired by farmhouses and log cabins, you can create a blanket in a plaid pattern.

Something that the Kids Will Love

If you have children or even a set of grandkids, you should have some snuggle sacks available in your house. A snuggle sack is a knitted sleeping bag that can be made into all sorts of fun shapes like mermaid tails, rocket ships, unicorns or slices of pizza. These adorable blankets are perfect for bedtime, along with special occasions like movie nights, overnight camps and sleepovers. If your child is hoping to have some friends stay the night, you can plan for a successful sleepover by having spare snuggle sacks and pillows ready for them.

One blanket will make sure that your couch is a comfortable space to relax and enjoy your entertainment. Another blanket can match your unique sense of style and make your room look like it came straight out of a magazine catalogue. Snuggle sacks are great ways to keep your kids happy and make sure that their friends are excited to be sleeping over. With the help of some yarn and knitting needles, you can be sure that your house is a place of comfort, charm and delight.

Your Greenhouse Is A Terrific Way To Extend Growing Seasons


Gardeners love the fruit of their labor. There is nothing like getting fresh, tasty produce from your own backyard and serving it on the dinner table. Produce from the grocery store just can’t compare with the rich flavors and freshness of vegetables you’ve coaxed out of the ground on your own.

Winter can be a hard season for gardeners and food-lovers alike as fresh vegetables become harder to come by and the produce in the grocery store shows up in poorer shape, frozen for longer, and from farther away. That’s why more and more gardeners are putting up greenhouses in their own backyard. You can build your own greenhouse or buy one and simply have it shipped to your home. They don’t need to be huge to give you lots of food. Just take a look at this 6 x 8-foot greenhouse packed with lettuce, kale, parsnips, and beets growing through the winter season.

The biggest advantage a greenhouse gives you is a longer growing season. You can start hardy vegetables earlier in the year and even grow through the winter.

Making the most of your greenhouse takes a bit of maintenance and know-how. The fundamentals of gardening remain the same, but there are some big differences between gardening outside and using a greenhouse. You’ll have to pay attention to temperature, air circulation, light, and humidity. Here are a few quick tips you can use for your greenhouse.

  1. Controlling the Temperature

You’re going to need a combination of heaters, fans, and vents to control the temperature effectively, especially in the winter. Extremely cold days will require some extra heat during a deep freeze, while fans and vents will help keep it from overheating in the summer. In the winter, the temperature can go as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit without damaging leafy greens and other vegetables suitable for late growing seasons.

  1. Circulation

Plants breathe carbon dioxide the way humans breathe oxygen. Air circulation helps strengthen plants and fend off fungus. That’s why you need to sow with adequate space between plants. You can get a greenhouse with screen windows as a simple way to improve air circulation.

  1. Light

Light may be the single most important factor to your greenhouse. Be careful to inspect your backyard and determine how much light you’re going to have and where you’re going to have it. Place your new greenhouse accordingly. When there’s too much shade or when sunlight is scarce in the late fall, fluorescent lighting can help grow midwinter greens.

  1. Humidity

Last but not least, there’s humidity. Contrary to what you might expect, you don’t want a greenhouse to feel like a rainforest. Plant growth weakens at humidity points over 90 percent, so use vents to keep humidity levels down.

When you get a greenhouse for your backyard you can enjoy longer growing seasons and fresh produce even in the winter. A backyard greenhouse is a must-have for the gardener adamant about having fresh produce on her dinner table no matter what time of year it is.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas For The Décor Obsessed


Most everyone enjoys dressing up their home for special occasions and holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and last but certainly not least, the sweetest day of the year – Valentine’s Day!

For home décor enthusiasts and DIY experts, creating unique and inventive furnishings and decorations for Valentine’s Day is a literal breeze… but what about all the rest of us? Let’s be honest, not everyone is a skilled artisan or a HGTV aficionado. However if you’ve got some creative ideas in mind and a little bit of initiative, you can easily make beautiful, fun-loving home décor that will uplift your spirits and literally knock the socks off that special someone! So, what are some of the best Valentine’s Day gift ideas and DIY tips out there for the décor obsessed?

Firstly, think outside of the box. Don’t give into buying kitschy items, or furnishing your home with lots of factory-made, store-bought decorations and furniture. Be inventive. Let that free spirit within you rule your choices and artistic, gift ideas.

If you want to totally wow the love of your life or BFF with some incredibly neat gift ideas, create handmade ornaments that say, “I love you” or “Be Mine”. Whether it’s a do-it-yourself romantic card made from recycled paper or a pair of heart-shaped painted wooden signs, the thought and creativity will be more than appreciated. In craft stores, you’ll find everything you need to create cutie-pie handmade sign or ornaments. Try using glitter, paint, decorative appliques, and jewellery to adorn your special piece of lovable art.

If you want to spruce up your home with thoughtful furnishings, consider buying solid wood furniture, which, in addition to looking nicer than the factory produced stuff, will last a lifetime. Your significant other will absolutely adore that you took the time to source only the finest furniture; get ideas from this furniture blog you are sure to love and get ready wrapping this big gift for Valentine’s Day!

Another idea for a DIY gift is to fill old-fashioned mason jars or antique perfume bottles with red, white, and pink beads, jellybeans or marbles. Place vintage-inspired lace or crochet doilies around the house, from dressers to dining room tabletops. Tie red ribbons around old food jars or small clear vases, and fill with colourful pastel flower petals. If there’s one day out of the year when you have permission to get a little kitschy with your design ideas, it’s Valentine’s Day.

You don’t even need to go crazy with the art supplies; want to create an easy Valentine’s Day gift using just a pair of scissors and cardboard? First, pencil out hearts and letters on a flat piece of either heavy construction paper or old cardboard. Afterwards, carefully cut out around your drawings to make the perfect decorations, using marking pens or paint to decorate each cut out. Later string the shapes with utility twine around your mantle, coffee table, or dining room chandeliers. If you are handy with a saw, you can create similar shapes by using particleboard or old slats of wood.

These are just a few ideas to wow that décor-obsessed person in your life. Remember, when it comes to decorations, do it yourself; when it comes to furniture, choose high quality, handcrafted, solid wood furniture.

You Need to Recharge Your Spirit: The Sizzling South is the Perfect Choice for a Family Getaway


There’s an abundance of things to see and do for the whole family in Louisiana, especially if you’re staying in the welcoming city of Baton Rouge. Take a fascinating look at marine life at the Aquarium of America, explore the many plantations lining the Mississippi River or enjoy an interactive experience at the famous Sci-Port Discovery Center in Shreveport; whatever your age, there’s something to entertain you in the Sizzling South.

If you want to explore Louisiana, there are a few trips for the whole family that are affordable and hugely enjoyable. We’ve put together some suggestions which are all just a short drive from Baton Rouge that will give you hours of fun and adventure during your visit to the South.

In terms of somewhere to stay while visiting the fun-packed South, the Marriott TownePlace Suites Gonzales offers some great family-friendly facilities. After an exhausting day seeing the sights, you’ll be grateful of a luxurious place to recharge your batteries!


It will take you about two hours to drive to Gulfport from Baton Rouge but it’s well worth the trip, just for its beach alone! No family vacation is complete without a beach day and in Gulfport, there are plenty of other family-friendly activities to get involved with too. On the way to the beach, you could call into the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies and find out more about fascinating marine life with tours that allow you to get up close and personal with some incredible sea creatures with touch tanks. You can also pay a little extra to feed or take a swim with the dolphins – a once in a lifetime experience!


If you’re into Cajun cuisine, Lafayette is bulging with eateries and restaurants that are all family-friendly, offering the very best in this local culinary specialty. Children of all ages can enjoy a visit to the Children’s Museum of Acadiana, where they can get involved with the interactive exhibits, toddler play area, bubble station and a whole lot more. For older kids and adults with an interest in science, there’s the Lafayette Science Museum which has plenty of exhibits to explore and also a Planetarium which provides a breathtaking view of the night sky in late afternoon shows.

New Orleans

Although possibly better known for its nightlife, New Orleans has plenty to amuse all ages. Your family could spend a whole day in the Audubon Zoo, set in stunning grounds and with a wealth of exhibits in addition to plenty of wildlife. There is also a recreational area at Monkey Hill with a café for the grownups to enjoy a relaxing drink while the kids play and a really cool dinosaur exhibit too. There’s also a fantastic playground in Audubon Park in New Orleans for those looking for a more sedate visit. Here you can walk along winding paths between beautiful oaks and in a clearing, you’ll find the playground which will keep younger children occupied and have them worn out when it’s time for bed.


Another short drive from Baton Rouge is Mandeville, where there is plenty of family fun to be had, particularly if you want to be shaded from the scorching heat! Kids love the Imagination Station which is a cool play area with different spaces for hands on exploration and arts and crafts. You can actually leave your kids having fun while you relax in one of the many nearby restaurants. Also in Mandeville is a 2,800-acre green space called Fontainebleau State Park, where you can get a little out-doorsy and go on a hiking trail, do some fishing, explore nature and even relax and sunbathes on a lakeside beach!

How to Make House Painting Less of a Chore

It’s one of those jobs you know you need to do, but can’t bring yourself to get on with! We’re talking about painting, whether it should be a couple of walls, a full room, or even the outdoor paintwork of the house, plus fences and wooden buildings. It’s a time-consuming and not very pleasant job, and one that means getting out all those brushes, rollers and trays, and expecting a lot of mess! So, what can you do to eliminate the mess, save time, and make painting your home and garden woodwork less of a chore?

You could invest in a paint sprayer! These excellent machines are becoming ever-more popular with homeowners – having once been intended only for contractors and other professionals – and are now surprisingly affordable, given their capability. They come in a wide range of types and across a vast array of prices, and there is certain to be one for you. Let’s talk a little bit more about paint sprayers, and show you why one of these is a great investment, even if you are only using it occasionally.

What Is a Paint Sprayer?

Usually, a paint sprayer follows a simple theme: it is a sort of gun fitment, attached to a pump via a tube, with a reservoir for the paint. The pump creates a pressure source that drives the paint through the tube and out of the gun – which can often be modified with various sizes and styles of tip – and creates a spray of paint that you can direct onto the area you wish to cover. They are easy to use and very accurate, and make painting your home or outdoor buildings simple and quick.

Another benefit of using a paint sprayer is that you don’t get so much waste; you can adjust the spray for fineness, which makes it far more efficient when painting those awkward corners and such. Also, make sure you choose an ‘airless’ model – you can find out more paint sprayer information online and see what we are talking about – as these are the most efficient and up to date, and they also offer the best performance for your outlay. All in all, even if you are only going to use one occasionally, a paint sprayer is an excellent addition to your home improvement kit.

Choose the Right One

Choosing a paint sprayer means considering what you want it for, and how much you are willing to pay. Some models cost several hundred pounds, some considerably less, and for occasional use there are many that fall within a sensible price range. You will certainly find interesting and capable models at the website we linked to, so it is certainly worth your while reading some of those reviews.

We are sure that, once you try using a paint sprayer, you will find it makes life a lot easier, and you will be more inclined to get on with jobs that need doing, so check them out now and see which one is for you.

Don’t Let Your Books Rot in the Loft

Keeping Your Loft Dry and Your Treasure Safe

Most of us have treasured possessions tucked away in the loft or the cellar. Are you sure that yours are safe and dry?

Even the most super organised person has a certain amount of junk tucked away in the loft, cellar, garage or spare room. Of course, where you and I are concerned, junk is not the right word. These are treasured possessions, family heirlooms and articles that are just waiting for that next house move, extension or the conversion of the spare bedroom into a library so that they can retake their pride of place in the centre of family life.

In the meantime, though, these magnificent artefacts are packed away in boxes, awaiting their moment to shine. The trouble is, a damp, musty loft is about the worst place you can leave treasured books, or just about anything else, for any length of time. A simple solution is to install electric tubular heaters to keep the temperature even and the condensation at bay. Let’s learn a bit more about protecting your hidden treasure from the damp.

Why is your loft damp?

If the loft space is damp, the first thing you need to do is work out why. Most likely, the moisture is coming from outside or inside, although there is a third option. We will look at each in turn.

Got a leak?

If the water is coming from outside, and your roof is leaking, it will be obvious, as the water will be concentrated in a particular area. Trace it back to the source, and get the problem repaired as quickly as possible, as left unattended, the ingress will do costly damage. The sooner you fix it, the smaller the problem.

Condensation from within

The more likely culprit is condensation, and this is not such an easy issue to address. Modern houses are typically well insulated, but sometimes they can be too much so. The house needs room to breathe, and there should be ventilation gaps in the loft space to let the moisture escape.

Think about where the condensation is coming from. For example, if you are in the habit of having hot, steamy showers, that’s your prerogative, but make sure the extractor fan is always switched on while you are doing so. Got a tumble dryer? Check the vent pipe is pushing the damp air outside and the vents are not blocked.

Even after checking all these things, you might still find you are getting a certain degree of condensation. A foolproof solution is to install some inexpensive heating in the loft to keep the temperature even. The tubular heaters we mentioned earlier are ideal for this, as they are energy efficient and simple to install in out of the way places.

One other possibility

If you have water tanks in your loft, there is an outside chance that they might be the culprits. These tanks feed the system by gravity and should contain cold water, but there are rare occasions where a plumbing fault causes them to warm up and create steam and condensation. It is not a common problem, but it is worth checking, just to be sure.

Choosing the Best Pond Pump

When you are looking to build a pond, there are several things you need to consider. Or, perhaps you have recently moved into a property that already has a pond in the grounds, but it needs attention? A man-made pond will be one of still water, and water that is not aerated – in nature, this is done by moving streams that tend to feed the pond – will soon go green as algae grows, and become unhealthy for living things. So, if you want fish, plants, clear water and to attract the local water-based wildlife, you need to find a way of keeping your water clean and healthy.

The answer lies in one of a choice of pumps and filters, and they really are an essential addition to your pond. There are many different types, which we will talk about in a moment, but essentially the process is this: a pump constantly drives the water in the pond, via a hose, to a filter. The filter involves a series of processes designed to clean the water. The water is then sent, via another hose, back to the pond. This keeps the water suitably aerated, and the water clean and clear.

The Right Pump and Filter

In general, your pump will be of a submersible design; that is, it sits beneath the surface. However, your filter may not be in the water, as some of the more popular models are external, and they tend to be the more efficient and effective designs. These filters include a variety of treatment methods. A UV light will kill the green algae; bacterial filters will get rid of the harmful bacteria that builds up in the water; and the filter will also take away any debris that is in the pond. The result is clear, healthy water that fish, plants, frogs and newts – let alone the many insects that lay there young in ponds – will thrive in.

You need to find a pump and filter that is suitable for your pond, and this means buying a set up suitable for the capacity of water you are dealing with. If you click here you will find a selection of excellent reviews of pond pumps, filters, liners and other accessories, as well as excellent information on ponds and how they are best maintained. In fact, you will find that a pond, to a certain extent, looks after itself once an adequate pump and filter system is in place.

Enjoy Your Pond

A well-designed pond – you can choose pre-formed pond liners if you want as they are easy to install and surprisingly affordable – is a joy to have in the garden, and you can find any number of excellent fountains and other features that give it an additional attraction.

You will find that your pond is a focal point of the garden, too – consider lighting sets that give it an added sense of interest – so make sure you keep the water clean and fresh with the best pump and filter package.

Lambeth Country Show Review


43rd Lambeth Show Hailed the Best Yet

The ever-popular Lambeth Country Show took place in July and entertained hundreds of thousands in its quirky and unique way. 

A mainstay of the summer festival scene since the days of Flower Power and the Bay City Rollers, the Lambeth Country Show just gets bigger and bigger every year, and its popularity shows no sign in waning.

Established in 1974, this was the 43rd show, and this year hundreds of exhibitors set out to pitch their stall, hire a Templant generator and get ready to welcome around 200,000 visitors to Brockwell Park on 15 and 16 July.

Free for all

The show can be described as a free for all in every sense of the phrase. There is no entry fee, and the festival attracts the weird and the wonderful when it comes to the entertainment on display.

It also attracts a massive turnout. Official figures for 2017 are yet to be released, but bearing in mind that last year it amounted to 170,000, then the magic 200,000 figure is a distinct possibility.

When you consider that around 135,000 visitors attend Glastonbury every year, you start to get a feel for the scale of the event.

Joust for laughs

It is difficult to single out highlights from such an eclectic mix of activities, but some of the events that really stuck out included the chocolate museum, which managed to avoid melting despite the warm summer temperatures, the birds of prey, which were massively popular with adults and kids alike and, of course, the jousting. Who could forget the jousting?

If the enthusiasm at Lambeth is anything to go by, this medieval pastime could soon be making a comeback – expect to see participants on horseback practicing at an athletics track near you soon!

Live music

Of course, many attend for the music, and this year, the quality was as high as ever, courtesy of the Oxjam Music Festival. This is a great organisation that supports grassroots music and at the same time does so much to raise money for those who need it the most.

Brixton Dance School also gave an amazing display that went down extremely well with the enthusiastic crowd.

For those who wanted to get a little more involved, there was even an African drumming workshop, where anyone could have a go. What some lacked in rhythm was more than made up for in enthusiasm!

Call any vegetable

Finally, we can’t mention the Lambeth Show without discussing the vegetables. The traditional vegetable carving competition has been going on for as long as the show itself, and, as usual, produced a remarkable array of artwork and biting satire, all using the humble vegetable as a basis.

Fun, quirky and absolutely unique. If you’ve never been along to the Lambeth Show, put it in the diary for next year. And don’t forget to start practicing your potato carving skills well in advance!

How Does the Real Hampstead Compare to The Movie?


Recent Film is Based on Hampstead Man’s Life 

Hampstead has hit the big screen in Diane Keaton’s Latest film. But the resemblance is only a passing one.

When it reviewed Hampstead shortly after release, The Guardian awarded it a solitary one star and described it as a ghastly faux-mance. As far as incisive social commentary goes, it is hard to argue with that, but taken at face value as a showcase for Diane Keaton to go through her usual range of facial expressions, while a touching story that is loosely based on a real life Hampstead resident is told, it is well worth a look.

As for any links to the real Hampstead – well, Hampstead estate agents will be quick to tell you that while there are a variety of attractive properties available to buy and rent in this popular north London oasis, setting up camp on Hampstead Heath is unlikely to result in a happy ending!

Harry the Hermit

Joel Hopkins’ film is inspired by the real life adventures of one Harry Hallowes. An Irishman by birth, he had lived in the north London area since moving there in the 1950s. In the late 1980s, he found himself homeless, and set himself up in a makeshift camp in a quiet corner of Hampstead Heath.

There, he grew vegetables and became largely self-sufficient, supplementing his supplies with money earned by doing odd jobs for some of the local residents, including famous Monty Python illustrator Terry Gilliam.

In the early 2000s, property developers attempted to evict him, but as he had been living on the site for more than 12 years, he was able to claim squatter’s rights. After a lengthy battle, which captured the attention of the local community and the national media, he was awarded a deed on the plot of land, thought to be worth around £2 million.

Harry passed away last year at the age of 88, leaving his unique estate to two charitable organisations.

Hampstead life

The film might seem a little saccharine, but it emphasises one thing – it could only happen in Hampstead. The suburb has always had a leaning towards the unusual, and its old fashioned high street, surrounded by acres of countryside, could not feel less like London.

Over the years, it has gained a reputation for being home to the artistic, musical, literary and – dare we say it – perhaps slightly eccentric set, so of all the places for a Harry the Hermit to appear, Hampstead was the almost inevitable choice.

It is also a place of extreme diversity. Harry arrived without a penny to his name and somehow found success. Just down the road, Hampstead Village is home to more millionaires than any other location in the UK.

As you might expect, it has also attracted its fair share of celebrity residents over the years, including Liam Gallagher, Sting, Stephen Fry, Dame Judi Dench and Ricky Gervais. You might even bump into Britain’s most famous celebrity couple, Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter, taking a Sunday afternoon stroll.

So how does Hampstead really compare to the movie? The reality is far less likely to be believed!