Holidays · Travel

Five Reasons to Tour the UK by Train

Five Reasons to Tour the UK by Train
Photo by Denis Chick on Unsplash

With restrictions on international travel still in place for many countries, there’s never been a better time to spend some time travelling around dear old Blighty! There are lots of places in the UK which rival the rest of the world in terms of beauty and many people never bother to tour our shores, choosing instead to travel abroad for their holidays. With that in mind, we thought we’d look at some of the reasons that travelling the UK by train is a great idea:

Better for the Environment

We all know that visiting new places is exciting, but have you ever thought about your carbon footprint while travelling? Rail transport is actually the most environment-friendly way to travel. The greenhouse effect of gas emissions per kilometer on railway transport is 80% less than cars. In some countries, less than 3% of all transport gas emissions come from trains.

Look at the Views

It’s great being a passenger in a car as you can look out of the window at all of the wonderful views on your journey. However, being a driver means that your view is a lot more limited for reasons of safety, so drivers rarely get to enjoy the scenery. If you travel by train, you can spend the whole journey taking in the view, and you’ll often get to see things that you wouldn’t be able to from a motorway.

No Limit on Luggage

While we aren’t suggesting that you should pack everything including the kitchen sink when travelling by train, you’re not limited by a baggage weight limit. This means that you can pack more if you travel by train than you can if you travel by plane, which saves a lot of worrying and weighing suitcases before you leave!

Efficient Routes

When you travel by road, you’re at the mercy of roads, traffic and all sorts of other things that make your journey long and potentially stressful. With trains, you generally go in a pretty straight line from A to B and you don’t have to worry about traffic or other road users. It’s also usually much quicker because of this. Many people who travel by train find it the most relaxing way to travel.

Stay Connected

Charge your phone or camera batteries, watch a movie or get some work done… it’s all possible on board the train. And what’s even better: more and more train companies are installing Wi-Fi so you can even post live updates as you journey by train. Knowing that you won’t affect your car battery by charging your devices is a bonus and taking advantage of free wi-fi also means that you won’t have to be concerned by huge data charges.

Baby · Gift Ideas

Gift Guide for New Parents

A Gift Guide for New Parents
Photo by Garrett Jackson on Unsplash

Once you get to my age, with two kids of your own, you’re pretty well versed in what is and isn’t useful to give to new parents as a gift. I’ve been through various things like nappy bins (I never really got the hang of our one, to be honest) and wipe warmers to know what I would never buy again, and also remember what was an absolute godsend when my two were little. With that in mind, here are a few suggetions that will definitely be a hit with new parents:

Vests and Sleepsuits

It doesn’t matter how many new vests and sleepsuits new parents buy ahead of their baby being born, once they arrive it will never seem enough. I don’t think there are many parents in the world who have bathed and changed their baby into clean clothes, only for a poo-nami or vomit volcano to erupt! Cute baby sleepsuits are always a winner and the range of neutrals for parets who don’t know the gender of their baby is MUCH greater nowadays.

Takeaway Voucher

In the past, lots of people would turn up with a freshly baked casserole or a stash of frozen meals to make new parents life easier. The modern version of this is buying them a gift card! Either find out their favourite takeaway or go for a delivery service like Just Eat or Deliveroo and have a voucher for a meal delivered. They’ll thank you for making their lives easier AND for making sure they’re getting a decent meal between feeds and nappy changes.

Muslins

As with the baby grows and vests, another thing which new parents can never have enough of is muslins. They’re a fab multi-purpose item which can be used for wiping up spit-up, using as a shoulder guard when you’re burping baby, draping over you if you’re breastfeeding and want some privacy – there are even huge muslins which are made for swaddling baby.

Thermometer

When Sausage was a tiny baby, my Mum and Dad gave us a Braun in-ear thermometer, and we still use it to this day. It’s been an absolute godsend for over a decade and while some people may feel uncomfortable giving a gift which relates to potential illness, it’s genuinely one of the most useful, practical gifts we were given. A few years ago, we were gifted a newer, no-touch model which was fairly new tech at the time and after using it a few times, we actually gave it away and went back to our trusty in-ear model!

A V-Pillow

Although I didn’t breastfeed my two, having a large, v-shaped pillow was a huge help when it came to bottle feeding. I’d sit in an armchair and place the pillow on my lap with baby snuggled safely on top. It meant that my hands were both free for bottle holding and interacting, and we were both comfortable. It’s something that would be one of the first things I’d recommend to new parents, I think.

Finances · Home

Easy Ways to Add Value to Your Property

Easy Ways to Add Value to Your Property
Photo by Andy Watkins on Unsplash

If you’re selling your house, you’re going to want to make sure that you get the very best price for it to maximise the return on your investment. House prices are currently having a bit of an upswing, so you’ll be starting from a good position, but are there other, non-expensive, ways to add even more value to your property? The simple answer is yes – here are five of them:

Garden Sheds and Storage

Believe it or not, a simple garden shed can be a real value-add to your property. Storage is often a key factor for buyers when they’re on a viewing. So, the sight of a shed in the rear garden is usually seen as a big positive, as sheds are great places to store items like mowers and other garden equipment, but also other additional belongings. Greenview Sheds and Fences offer a variety of outdoor buildings, all of which would appeal greatly to a potential buyer.

Maintain Period Features

Buyers will often pay more for a home with period features, so if you have them, do not rip them out. Bring out whatever character your property already has. If you live in a Victorian home, for example, try to make sure that skirting boards, architraves and doors fit in with the era. If you have an Edwardian house, ensure its wooden porch is freshly painted. Consider restoring or installing coving, picture rails or period fireplaces – it won’t cost thousands if you shop around and visit salvage yards, but it may well impress potential buyers.

Adding Built-In Storage Space

Excess space within any home is a premium. But even if you don’t have oodles of space, making the most of the space you do have, particularly unused spaces, is a great way to add value. Having built-in storage means you don’t need to buy any additional bulky furniture and it can generally just make better use of certain areas within the home. Alcoves are a great example of this; they don’t really provide any additional floor or living space, so they’re perfect for turning into cupboards and wardrobes. Even in the smallest of properties, thinking outside the box can unfold a whole bunch of clever ways to add storage solutions within the home.

Groom your Garden

It’s a well known fact that potential buyers hate overgrown gardens! Get yours under control by mowing the lawn, weeding flower beds and trimming hedges and bushes. Add interest with coordinating planters, which are relatively cheap and can be taken with you when you move. Not green-fingered? Let someone else do the hard work and shop for pre-planted pots.

De-Clutter

This one will not only have added benefits of making your rooms look bigger and more liveable to potential buyers, you could also make yourself a few quid in the process! Getting rid of things that you don’t want/need/use anymore will give your home a much needed freshen up and if there’s anything valuable, sticking it on eBay or Facebook Marketplace could be a double win in the long run.

Home · How To

Five Ways to Help You to Sell Your House

Five Way to Help You to Sell Your House
Photo by Matt Jones on Unsplash

Despite the UK being in a bit of flux, financially speaking, due to the coronavirus pandemic, house prices are currently at an all time high, making it a sellers market right now. However, that doesn’t mean that your property will immediately fly off of the shelf, and leaving a property sitting on the market for too long can be costly in the long run. With this in mind, today we’re looking at five things that you can do which will increase your chances of selling your property quickly:

Deep Cleaning

When you live in a house, it’s really easy to become a bit blind to some of the every day bits of grubbiness, like dirty skirting boards or door handles. Hiring a professional cleaning company, such as Clean 360, means that you’ll get a team of professionals tackling a deep clean and they’ll be better placed to spot those tricky areas that you miss when it’s your own home. You may also find that when the house is properly spotless, there are areas which don’t need as much maintenance or redecoration as you’d once thought.

Declutter

If you walk into a house which is up to the shoulders in clutter, not only will it be harder to see the true size of the rooms, it also makes it harder to envisage your own stuff inside the house as well. If you’re trying to sell your house, make it easy for them to see all the fantastic living space you’re offering them but don’t make it look like a generic hotel; leave some personality. Apart from anything else it gives unimaginative buyers suggestions as to what they might do

Think About Kerb Appeal

First impressions really do count and buyers are judging your home well before they step over the threshold. Your house may be stunning inside, but if the outside doesn’t look great you jeopardise your sale. Look at your property from the road? How does it compare to other houses in your street? As you walk from the pavement to your front door, does every element of your property look cared for and well maintained? If not, taking care of those things will make a huge difference.

Use Your Nose!

There are lots of people who advocate baking or brewing coffee before showing potential buyers around your home to make it smell more homely when you sell your house, and I’m sure Mrs. Hinch and her army of followers would have a few tricks using pints of Zoflora, too. Obviously, you want the place to smell good, BUT…not TOO good! If you use strong air fresheners or smells in every single area of your home, people may wonder if you’re masking something, like the smell of damp.

Check Out the Competition

There’s basically zero chance that yours is the only property that potential buyers will be viewing, and it’s good to know what you’re up against. While going on viewings of every similar property in your area would be time consuming, it’s well worth doing some browsing on the usual property websites to see what else is out there at a similar price point to yours. This will  allow you to see if there’s anything else you could add to your home to make it a more competitve option.

DIY · Home

Five Original Features You Should Definitely Hang On To

Original features - tiling

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

While there’s something appealing about the thought of moving into a new or relatively new house where everything is clean and well-maintained, there’s a lot to be said for older houses with renovation potential. As well as maximising your investment by adding value to an older property, there are a few “original features” which, should you be lucky enough to have them, you should definitely consider keeping. Here’s a few of them:

Radiators

While you may want to get your plumbing looked at by a professional or even totally updated, traditional cast iron radiators  are definitely an example of an original feature that you should keep and restore, rather than removing and updating. Aside from looking fantastic, they’re actually a really valuable asset and can add value to a period property if they’re properly taken care of.

Fireplace

It may seem like having a fireplace is a lot of work (yearly sweeps, maintaining liners, etc) but having an original fireplace in your property can not only add value, it can help you to save money in the long run. Using a fireplace for heat is cheaper than gas or electric heating and it’s also a more carbon-friendly method of heating a property if you burn wood, rather than coal.

Doors

Many newer houses come with cheap, hollowfibre doors with flimsy modern handles, wheras older properties usually have hardwood doors with brass doorknobs. The beauty of original doors is that you can sand them down, refinish them to your liking and even add new door furniture. It might be a little bit more work than hanging new doors, but the results speak for themselves.

Windows

Houses that were built before World War II didn’t have windows with plastic UPVC frames. Instead, most got built with sash windows – the ones with wooden frames that slid up and down to open. In England, the oldest surviving sash windows date back to the late 17th century! Although sash windows might not have the benefits of modern uPVC, the look of original features are far more suited to a modern property and secondary glazing can be added to help with insulation for heat and sound.

Tiling

In many period properties, lifting carpet and other flooring treatments will very often reveal ornate tiling, especially around fireplaces or in hallways and bathrooms. It’s often possible to restore tiling to it’s full glory with a bit of polishing or re-grouting, and it’s even possible to find reproduction copies of your tile pattern if you want to replace broken ones.