1732 posts Posts by Jayne

Take Your Business to the Next Level

Starting a Small BusinessPhoto by Clark Street Mercantile on Unsplash

If you’re starting a business, be it a shop selling handmade items or a restaurant serving high-end dishes, you’ll want your premises to make an impact. Most of us walk around only half-noticing our surroundings, so creating a space which is enticing and exctiting to prospective clients can make a big difference when it comes to your profits. When making plans for yur new premises, you should be thinking about how you can take your business to the next level and blow your competitors out of the water – here are some suggestions of how to do it:

Get Your Design Right

If your new premises is an empty space, it’s full of potential but it can sometimes be hard to visualise. Invest in bespoke interior architecture  which will compliment your business and create a space that your customers or clients will WANT to spend time in. Restaurants often benefit from a variety of seating areas, from large open areas for big groups to smaller, more intimate nooks for couples. Adding to your architecture could help you to create all of these in one space.

Think About Your Signage

Shop and restaurant signage can be a tricky thing to get right. You want something that represents your shop and looks good on the front of the business, but it also needs to look fitting in the street location and complement the surrounding businesses. Sticking out like a sore thumb ight get you notices, but if everyone else has muted, vintage styling and you opt for a neon sign that you can see from space, you might not win too many friends!

Sound it Out

When it comes to shop and restaurant design, it’s also important to consider music, volume, and how it will sound around the space and affect customers. Research has proven that background music has a direct effect on shopping behavior, so it is something business owners should always keep in mind. Bluetooth speakers are the ideal solution to creating a pleasant shopping environment for retail stores and small businesses.

Are Single Parents Being Penalised? #CostOfSingleParenting

Single ParentsPhoto by S&B Vonlanthen on Unsplash

One thing you may or may not know about me is that I am basically a professonal bargain hunter. I never pay full price for anything, unless I’ve fully satisfied myself that there’s not a discount code or voucher that I can use, or some way to bring a price down before buying. I collect points for everywhere I shop, never EVER pay full price for a pizza without searching for a voucher code and I even shop around every three months to get my contact leanses at the cheapest price.

This summer, we’ve been trying to do things as a family and we’ve been fortunate to get ‘family’ tickets for a lot of places, thanks to the fact that we’re a “two adults and two kids” family, which is where most discounts are firmly aimed. However, it got me thinking about the fact that single parents are being penalised and missed out of discount opportunities, despite the fact that with just one adult, they’re probably in greaterneed of offers and discounts than anyone.

PayPlan has put together an infographic showing the true cost of the summer holidays to a single-parent family and some of the figures are truly eye-opening:

Do Single Parents Feel Penalised?

As well as missing out on the discounts, being the sole breadwinner must be daunting for many. I thought I’d ask some of my single parent friends if they felt that they were penalised for being a non-conventional family and about the difficulties they’ve faced. Here are some of their comments:

Zoe (Insta: runningonempty_mummy) said “I’m new to the single mum world and notice it all the time – family tickets [aimed at 2 adults and 2 kids], holidays abroad – I got charged a supplement, kids eat free with two adult meals bought etc”

Sarah said “I’m not a single parent but I travel and go out a lot on my own with my 5 year old. I find I can’t use child free places on holidays, I have to sometimes pay single Supplement in rooms as he’s only 5, I can’t take advantage of family deals at the cinema (even with the husband we don’t have enough kids to make the min number) I also effectively pay more per head on the train as well as with groupsave other adults can travel free bringing cost per person.”

Mandy said ” I had an argument in [a cinema] once; they had this promotion on for families for tickets and like a snack combo thing, which worked out cheaper than me and sienna and a snack combo, but they wouldn’t let me have it”

Sian said “Not [a single parent] anymore, but continue to be sick of having to be quizzed as to who I am to my daughter when bringing her home from abroad get no one ever cares what kids I’m taking out the country!! Just because we made the mistake of putting a fathers name on birth cert doesn’t mean we should be interrogated and humiliated at every UK airport!”

Toni said “Private renting is my biggest problem. I work but obviously don’t earn enough to be able to private rent a house without claiming top up and no one accepts it. So i am left renting a damp house with a leaky ceiling because I am worried if i complain i will be evicted and homeless.”

Are you a single parent? Do you feel like you’re overlooked when it comes to money saving opportunities? Do you experience other difficulties? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, please do leave me a comment below.

Best Family Days Out in Cambridgeshire

Best family days out in CambridgeshireEveryone loves a family day out, and it’s a great chance to bond and explore the world together. Cambridgeshire has a lot to offer in that regard, pleasing clans the world over decade after decade. There’re great transport links here too, so you can quickly get the train from Huntingdon to Peterborough, with very little fuss – you’re never cut off in Cambridgeshire.

However, if you need further inspiration as to what you can get up to here, here’re 3 good ideas for family days out in Cambridgeshire.

Punting in Cambridge

Punting is iconic of Cambridge, and Cambridge is iconic of Cambridgeshire. Even young kids can get involved if they’re positioned toward the middle of their parents’ flat-bottomed boat. You can explore all the small rivers of Cambridge this way, and ease into a serene and relaxing day spent drifting along the water with your loved ones.

Don’t want to do any of the legwork yourself? That’s okay! In Cambridge, you can take guided tours while punting, the same way you can clamber aboard an open top bus in most of the major tourist cities and have a guide inform you on your surroundings. It’s certainly a tranquil way to pass the time with your folks, so give it a go!

The Riverside Park

The Riverside Park can be found in Huntingdon, and here your family can enjoy a lot of different activities. These include walks along the river, hay meadows, canoeing, river cruising and there’s even an enclosed children’s play area for the day’s activities. The park has a nice and quiet atmosphere, so if you’re looking for somewhere to lay low and unwind, The Riverside Park is that perfect place you crave.

In the summer, you can also expect to find concerts and local bands showcasing their talents too. Therefore, there’s a nice laid-back vibe here that feels more like a gathering of village locals than a big bustling city park that’s teeming with strangers. In the end, you wouldn’t be the first person to swap a city for some country living, so pay a visit if it sounds like you’d all love it there.

Nene Park

Located in the heart of Peterborough, Nene Park is full of things to do for the whole family. It plays host to Ferry Meadows, which is one of the largest country parks in Cambridgeshire. Train rides, open water swimming, sailing, climbing and of course long walks, it’s all available here. There’s a lovely cafe to be found here too, so if you or your kids need a little rest at any point, you’re covered!

You can also tailor your day even further to your needs by utilising the Ferry Meadows events programme if you have a particularly big family on an ambitious adventure. Pick out what you want to do and get to it! In any event, there’s seemingly endless woodland, meadows and water to play in here, providing everything you need for a great family day out.

Ways You Can Get Out Of A Slump And Back In The Swing On Things

https://unsplash.com/photos/12yvdCiLaVE

For some reason, life has this strange way of handing us lots of adversity. Sometimes it is fine to deal with; sometimes it’s even quite fun as it provides us with a challenge and helps us veer away from the mundanity of everyday life. A lot of the time, however, it can be quite draining. We’re already very busy with everything on a day-to-day basis, so throwing in a few curveballs isn’t exactly what we want. Maybe it’s the universe’s (or God’s, if you’re a believer) way of providing a balance. Who knows? What we do know, though, is that it takes a lot of effort to climb out of certain issues.

Are you in a bit of a slump right now? Well, that’s not good. I hate when those come along. We know what we have to do in order to get back to normality, but, for some reason, we’re stuck in the mud and cannot reach where we need to be.

While they’re a real pain in the backside to get out of, the good thing is that we can (and do) get out of them. We just need to do a few things to boost ourselves mentally and physically. Everyone has a different way of viewing the world and doing things, so there’s no fixed way that everyone should heed. Here are a few that you could try to see if they work, though:

Do Something Your Worried About Every Single Day

It’s a paraphrased quote that’s often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. It’s the idea that you’ll grow as a person and a personality if you constantly face something that you don’t feel you can. Now, everyone should probably do this, whether they’re in good spirits or not. It can make us improve so much, so it’s a great little piece of advice. For someone in a tricky situation, though? It would do them a world of good. The idea is to become more accomplished and much more mentally sound than they were before. Improving on one’s self? There aren’t many finer ways of getting out of a slump. 

Exercise More Often

When you exercise, you have way more of a bounce in your step. You also gain a mental boost as the good chemicals in your body start flowing at a fast rate. It can get a lot of people temporarily out of depression and immense states of anxiety. The prospect of exercising always seems daunting beforehand, but you always feel so much better afterwards. With that post-workout attitude, you might feel as though you can conquer anything.

Get A Car And Start Driving

It sounds a little odd, but having a car is a lot different from being a pedestrian. You have the freedom to go out and view the world. You have that confidence in yourself to go wherever you want. You feel more mature and capable. These all make you feel a lot better about yourself. Simply hopping online, and looking at places like Stephen James, AutoTrader, and similar sites might initially shift a large burden. 

Stay Hydrated

This is a huge one, and it’s quite frustrating to hear if you’re not in the mood. But a lack of fluids in our system genuinely makes a massive difference to our mentality and our thinking patterns. We’re made up of the stuff, so we need to have it in us at all times. 

Are There Lords & Nobles in Your Family Tree?

Family TreeMy Uncle Mick is an avid genealogist – he’s spent a lot of time researching our family tree and has discovered loads about both my Nan and Grandad’s sides of the family. Although I don’t have the time or patience for researching my heritage in the way that Mick does, I love the thought of unearthing the secrets of past generations and piecing together what our family history looked like. Just in case you were wondering, my Nan’s family were largely Irish and my Grandad’s family all come from within about a 1 square mile area of the East End of London for several hundred years back!

It got me thinking about the reasons for researching your family tree, so I thought I’d share a few of them with you here:

A Royal Surprise

If you’re a fan of “Who Do You Think You Are?”, you’ll know that it’s not completely unheard of for people to discover royal lineage in their family history. However, if you don’t find any royal relatives, you could always buy yourself a title! Buying a Noble Title is easier than you might think, and if you can afford it, you could end up a Lord or a Baron!

Preserving Your Story

Family stories and anecdotes can be unbelievably interesting, but if there’s no-one to pass them along, they’ll eventually get lost. Husband’s grandmother was German and lived as a child through the Second World War. As an adult, she wrote a memoir which makes an amazing accompaniment to the family tree and is something that can be shared through the generations.

The Fun of the Process

Family history research can be like working on a giant puzzle for which you may never find a final solution – there are always more details to be added or people to be found. A eureka moment of discovering an elusive third cousin twice removed or even details on a secretive grandfather is sweet indeed!

Bringing Your Family Together

One of the key parts of researching your family tree is speaking to your relatives, asking them questions about what they know of relatives who have passed, and working together to piece together the puzzle. This can be a fabulous experience for everyone involved, giving you a reason to spend more time with the ones you love and to reconnect with family members who you may not get to see very often.

Have you done any family tree research? Have you found any royals in your bloodline? Have you uncovered any huge family secrets? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Sausage and BB Design Their Dream Home

It’s been pretty rainy and rubbish here for the last few days and after the madness of last week (Sausage turned 11 on Tuesday, so we’ve had playdates, sleepovers, shopping days as well as a barbecue at the weekend for our friends’ 40th) we’ve opted to spend some time chilling at home. You know what kids are like, though, and even chilling at home means finding pretty constant ways to entertain them, so I thought I’d ask them to tell me what their dream house would be like, and write about it here!

A Personal Lift

While brainstorming their ideas, both girls decided that their dream home would have bespoke passenger lifts – Sausage to transport her dozens of dogs and BB to get her pushchairs upstairs because she wants a dozen babies!  I can see my retirement years being spent doing a LOT of baby sitting and dog sitting…

Walk-In Wardrobe

Despite neither of my kids being massively girly girls, they both LOVE clothes, and another thing they agreed on (I can’t believe they’ve agreed on so much to be honest!). When Sausage mentioned that she wanted a massive walk-in wardrobe, BB decided that she definitely wanted one of those, too. They’d better both have good careers for all this stuff!

Conservatory

I’m not sure what it is about the women in our family, but we all love a conservatory. Maybe it’s the feeling that you’re sitting outside but manage to be warm and dry at the same time? Either way, both girls decided that a conservatory would be high on their list of demands when designing their dream house.

Theatre Room

In all honesty, we’re only just at a point where BB will sit still for long enough to watch a whole film. She’s okay at the cinema because she can’t get up and wander off but at home, it’s a struggle. However, she’s recently decided that she does like watching movies with us (even if we have to spend ten minutes convincing her beforehand!) and both girls agreed that a theatre room would be a great addition to their dream house.

Indoor Swimming Pool

They might not be overly keen on school swimming lessons (who likes being given two minutes to get your school uniform back on to your still-damp body?!) but both girls love being in the water. My dad kindly bought them a pool for the garden this summer and they’e had great fun using it so far, so they agreed that an indoor pool that they could use all year would be a must-have in their fantasy house.

What would your kids have in their dream house?

Seven Changes To Your Coffee Habit To Be More Sustainable

Coffee is a very popular drink, but one with a high environmental and ethical impact. How your coffee is grown, the carbon footprint of flying it to you and the waste generated by coffee pods and takeaway cups all cause a problem. With these small changes to your caffeine habit, you can make your coffee drinking more sustainable. 

Seven Changes To Your Coffee Habit To Be More Sustainable

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  1. Don’t use takeaway cups. One of the biggest problems with coffee is the volume of non-recycled waste that is produced by takeaway coffee. Paper cups, cardboard sleeves, plastic lids and plastic straws often end up in landfills, even when they can be recycled. Instead of using these, take your own reusable cup. You can even buy ones that collapse flat to take up less room in your bag. Buy a fun cup and get in the habit of carrying it with you.  
  2. At home, don’t use single serve coffee pods. These pods are incredibly popular, but most can’t be recycled. Even the ones that can be usually aren’t, as they usually need to be sent back to the supplier and can’t just be put out with the rest of your recycling. Instead of using pods, treat yourself to beautiful fresh coffee, like Third Wave Coffee, and make a habit of drinking fantastic coffee at home.  
  3. Swap single use filters for reusable ones. Paper filters are often bleached with chlorine, so as well as creating more waste, they’ll also leak chemicals when they reach landfills. Instead, use a reusable filter, like a metal one. Less waste, and your coffee will taste better. 
  4. Treat yourself to a manually brewed coffee. Auto-drip coffee machines are cheap for a reason. They use a lot of plastic, and break often, meaning all that plastic gets thrown away. A manual option makes your coffee more of a routine, and is kinder on the environment. 
  5. Read the packaging carefully. Look for information on whether you can recycle the packaging. Check for symbols to confirm the coffee is organic or fair trade. Do some research into your preferred coffee brands to make sure they’re paying growers fairly, and doing what they can to reduce their carbon footprint.   
  6. Don’t waste leftover coffee grounds. You can add coffee grounds to your compost heap or straight onto your plants. The nitrogen in the coffee grounds acts as a great fertilizer for your plants. If you add the grounds around the flower beds, the nitrogen also acts as a natural bug repellent, keeping ants and other creatures away from your plants. The smell of coffee can also work well to discourage neighbourhood cats from using your garden as a litter box. 
  7. Don’t use a coffee pot with a warming plate. The plate is left on for long periods, which uses up a lot of energy, wasting electricity. Consistently warming your coffee also over-brews it and can end up burning it, making it taste worse too. For better tasting coffee that doesn’t waste energy, buy a thermal coffee pot instead to keep your coffee warm for longer. 

A Little Bit of Self Improvement

A Little Bit of Self ImprovementI don’t know about you, but September for me always feels like a time for new beginnings. I think it’s the start of the new school year that does it, but I always feel like I should be embarking on a new project or job at this time of year. With both girls now in full time education, I have time to do something just for me, so I thought I’d share a few self-improvement things that I’m thinking of embarking on in the coming weeks:

NLP Training

NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming. ‘Neuro’ being your brain, ‘Linguistic’ the language we use with others and how that can influence their thinking and behaviour and our own self talk and how that impacts on our results. A good accredited NLP Training programme can help you to become more successful in many areas of your life.

Exercise

One of the single most important things that I need to do after the holidays is get back to the gym. As well as needing to lose a lot of weight and improve my physical health, exercising always seems to have a positive effect on my mental health, too, giving me an overall more positive outlook. This usually helps me to be more productive in other areas.

Learning

I really want to resume my OU studies and complete an Early Years Education degree. I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was a kid, and having spent more time in class with BB this year, I realise I’m never happier than when I’m in a school environment. I really want a job where I feel like I’m contributing to society.

Volunteering

Something that I’ve always enjoyed doing is volunteering my time to a good cause. Giving money to charities is essential, but giving time can sometimes be even more valuable. When I was younger, I spent my Saturdays volunteering in a Child Contact Centre, where parents with a court order in place could have visitation with their kids and although it was sometimes upsetting, it was also incredibly rewarding.

Find a Hobby

If I have any time left after all of my other attempts at self improvement, I’d really like to find a hobby. I spend SO much of my free time either surfing social media and the internet or watching TV and I think it might be making my brain turn to mush! I need to find something to do which actually helps me to engage my brain, or at the very least helps me to do something creative.

Things to Avoid Doing in Rehab

Group therapy in rehabChecking into a rehabilitation centre takes courage, as you’re signing yourself up for a month of intense, structured suffering in order to overcome your addiction. However, there are various approaches you can take to rehab, some of which will make it easier and some that will make it harder. Here’s what not to do in rehab if you want to make it as easy as possible for yourself.

Fighting Routine

Your time in most rehab centers, like this Orange County rehab, will be highly structured and your daily routine will follow a tight schedule. This is designed to bring some organization and control back into your life, but it can be difficult to adhere to when you’re used to life on the outside. Don’t fight against this routine as it will help you to get to where you need to be.

Your routine will include regular meals, which you need to eat rather than refuse. What you eat has a big impact on your mental health and energy levels and can therefore play an important role in your recovery. You will also be asked to partake in exercise classes which you also need to join in with.

These will help you to develop a healthy lifestyle, and exercise releases endorphins so it will help you to organise your thoughts and maintain a positive outlook, which could act as an alternative solution to substance abuse. Eminem famously replaced prescription medication with exercise post rehabilitation and has now overcome his addiction.

Not Attending Therapy

Your daily routine in rehab will also include therapy, both group and individual sessions. Therapy can be frightening for those who have been trying to mask their difficulties with intoxicants for a long time, but they are a crucial part of your recovery. Individual therapy sessions will be tailored to your specific experiences and will help you to understand why you might have turned to addiction, and how else you could manage these issues in a different way, so it’s important to open up and not run away from them.

Group therapy sessions can be even more intimidating, but they will help you to deal with symptoms of withdrawal. They also give you the opportunity to speak with other addicts, bond over your shared experiences, and create a support network for your post rehab life. Make sure you attend and contribute to these sessions as you will benefit hugely from them.

Keeping A Closed Mind

Part of the initial struggle of attending rehab is accepting that you are an addict, that you may have underlying issues that have contributed towards that, and that you can do what it takes to recover. A big part of a successful rehabilitation experience is opening your mind to these possibilities in order to learn and grow from them, as well as taking on board advice and recommendations from the professionals.

It would be fruitless to take the leap and check into rehab if you are not prepared to approach it with an open mind. Their aim is to break down and rebuild the negative thought cycles that have resulted in addiction, so you need to have faith in their approach and that you will succeed. This includes accepting a routine, attending therapy sessions, and attending alternative therapy classes such as exercise class. For more advice on addiction, for example how to help a loved one who is suffering from it, visit mumstheword.me.

Five Top Tips For Family Festival Fun

Family Festival FunImage via Unsplash

It’s a huge part of the summer experiences – festivals pop up around the entire country, covering every topic from music to food to literature to wellness and more, so no matter what you’re into , there’s a festival waiting to be discovered – for you and the rest of the family too! Once solely the preserve of groups of friends, festivals have evolved to become a part of family life too. With kid-friendly entertainment, activities such as face-painting, storytelling and drama workshops, they are now a must-do summer event. But if you’ve never done a festival before or if you’re a seasoned pro of them but are contemplating your first one with kids in tow, what do you need to know in order to make the experience swim rather than sink?

Organise Your Travel

It’s always a good idea when going to a festival with your small humans in tow to ensure that travel arrangements are sorted well in advance. Whether you’re hiring a camper van for the week, driving in a family car or travelling on the train, it’s always better to time your arrival a little on the early side. That way, you can claim the best camping spot. The worst part of any festival experience is generally the lengthy queues to leave the site and traffic on the roads surrounding, so consider leaving a little before the stated finish time to beat the rush and make sure that you don’t get stuck in a gridlock with tired and fractious kids to entertain.

Create A Packing List

The number of essentials you need to keep children happy and comfortable can be huge, so packing lightly or spontaneously is definitely a thing of the past. It’s a better idea to follow a family festival packing list to make sure that all the bases are covered. Remember to include items such as baby wipes (even if your children aren’t babies, there’s nothing better for taking care of sticky hands and wiping them down), lots of high factor sunscreen, waterproofs and wellies, hats, sunglasses, packets of tissues and insect repellent. Remember that concerts can get very loud, so bring ear defenders for young children or you may find yourself having to look up Miracle-Ear’s tinnitus treatment. Remember that kids can be less tolerant of discomfort and go for a level up on what you may normally have opted for – some extra blankets, inflatable pillows and foldable camping chairs can go a long way towards keeping everyone happy.

Overpack On Snacks

When blood sugar levels drop, that’s when kids can get extremely fractious, so it’s a good idea to overpack on healthy snacks. The food available at festivals can be quite unhealthy, with a lot of fried or sugary treats on offer – and while the occasional ice-cream is more than recommended, to stop costs mounting up and keep energy levels steady, take healthy snacks along as well. Dried and fresh fruit, unsalted nuts and packets of vegetable crisps are all a good idea, and you could also try involving the kids in making some homemade low sugar granola bars to take along. Pack plenty of juice and give the whole family reusable metal water bottles which can be refilled on site to stay hydrated.

Layer Up

With the weather being so unpredictable, even safe bet packing can go disastrously wrong, and even outfits which are suitable for the sunshine during the days can get too chilly when the temperature drops in the evening. Rather than taking up lots of room with bulky jumpers and thick coats, go for a mix of light layers, for yourself and the kids. Pack things like lightweight fleece jackets, compact ultralight down top layers and thermal tights and tops which are warm but non-bulky and can be layered under or over more summery pieces if it gets colder. Don’t forget the waterproof items as well – children can quickly get cold and miserable if they’re not dressed right for the conditions. Take lots of spares as well – all that running around outdoors means that kids often get through more changes than they ordinarily would.

Get Yourself A Trailer

Taking kids to a festival means transporting a lot of stuff – be it camping equipment, supplies or even the kids themselves when little legs get easily tired. A lightweight, foldable trailer can be a lifesaver in many circumstances, as it’s easy to take and provides instant transport or even an impromptu napping spot. It means that when you leave your tent, you can carry all your supplies for the day with you and not have to keep heading back –  cool bags, rucksacks, kids things and an umbrella for shade or showers can all go with you.