Fire Safety Tips for home & away


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Luckily I've never had to deal with more than very minor issues when it comes to fire although I once had to evacuate my house for a short time as my neighbour had a fire in her kitchen & smoke was coming into my home. I've also been one of those travellers who has had to stand outside the hotel because someone set the fire alarm off due to smoking in their room (which of course you can't do). But since having kids, fire safety has become even more of a priority and not just in our own homes but also when we are travelling. 

Fires can occur in any kind of property, from your home to a school, workplace or even a hotel, so having basic knowledge of fire safety, improving safety in your home and what to do in an emergency is so important. Here are a few ways to make sure your home and travels are safer

1. Install a fire alarm & make sure your holiday property has one

Firstly fit at least one smoke alarm in your home, preferably two (one on each level). It's the easiest way to protect your home and family and they are both cheap and easy to install. If you are travelling, especially if you are using sites light Airbnb, make sure to get in touch with the owner to check if the property has been fitted with a fire alarm and it may also be worth asking if they have done a proper fire risk assessment of the property, something which they are responsible to do but it's always monitored with individual holiday rentals. 

2. Establish an escape route

While most hotels have the fire escape route placed in your room (usually behind the door), you should also have a plan for your home and every family member should be aware of it. The escape route should be straight forward and keeping that route clear daily is key. Unlike the home Hotels have fire doors which add an extra level of protection and should have regular checks and a fire door survey done. 

fire safety

3. Make sure both you and your children know basic fire safety

You and your children so know how to dial 999 and make an emergency call and if there is smoke to keep low where the air is clearer. You should both also know the Stop, Drop and Roll technique should your clothes catch fire as running around makes the flames worse, what you need to do is immediately lie down and roll around. 

4. Don't overload plugs

Electrical fires happen more than you think and can occur both at home or when travelling. There are simple ways to prevent them such as not overloading extension plugs and unplugging small appliances when not in use

5. Have a nighttime checklist

You are more at risk of a fire when you are asleep, so doing a nighttime check before you go to bed can really help reduce the chance of fire by doing a few simple things. 

1. Turning off and unplugging electrical appliances, including your cooker, unless they were designed to be left on, such as a fridge or freezer. The same goes when you are travelling, try not to leave phones or cameras charging in your hotel room overnight. 

2. Make sure things like candles are fully blown out and turn off your heaters.

3. Make sure exits are clear and know where your door and window keys are, both in your home or while you are travelling, especially if you are hiring an apartment or Airbnb

It's surprising how many people don't do this but in an emergency having clear exists and being able to access your front and back door keys are essential so you can get out quickly

camp fire

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Travelling to Europe? 5 things you need to do before you go


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London Paddington

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Many of us, due to the pandemic are only now slowly getting back into international travel, whether it be a long-haul trip or just city break or ticking off a bucket list moment such. as tours in Paris, the world is open again. My boys and I have just embarked on a trip around Europe by train and I thought I would share the top 5 essential things to do before you head off on your own adventure.

1. Check your Passports

While this may be obvious, the amount of times I've seen people miss out, especially those with kids (as their passports only last 5yrs) due to expired passports has been surprisingly a lot. The UK passport office is still experiencing delays and it may take longer than expected to get your new one back, there are options for fast tracking but these can cost significantly more so don't leave this until the last minute.

2. Apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

While this does not replace travel insurance it's still really important to get one of these free cards which lets you get state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. When I was travelling in Amsterdam a few years back I needed to see a GP for a non-urgent appointment to get some medication and was able to quickly arrange an appointment with a local GP for free as I had what was then called the UK European Health insurance card. The UK European Health Insurance Cards can still be used if valid but once expired you need to reapply for a GHIC. Also it goes without saying also book comprehensive travel insurance.


3. Print physical copies of all your bookings

While the majority of us rely on smart phones and smart phone passes we should always print physical copies of our train reservations, flight plans, accommodation bookings etc as what would happen if you lost your phone or it was stolen, or simply ran out of battery and couldn't access the ticket, address or information? It's already happened on our trip where I thought I would be able to charge my phone on the train but the charger port was not working so I ran out of battery, luckily I had a small portable charger that helped a little but I also had our train reservations and accommodation booking printed otherwise I wouldn't have know the address or hotel contact number without it.

4. Decide how you plan to get around & prebook your transport

If you are just going for a quick city break and plan to walk to most of the sights thats fine but if you are planning on using public transport make sure to research where you need to buy tickets as most trams, busses and metros require a ticket before boarding. Also purchasing rail reservations beforehand if you are planning on taking intercity or high speed trains is highly recommended as these often sell out beforehand. It also goes without saying that that if you plan to hire a car do this in advance to ensure both availability and the best rate and make sure you driving licence is valid. When it comes to car rental there are lots of options so shop around and do Car rental compare online.

5. Still check for additional Covid restrictions

While most of Europe has fully opened up there are still some restrictions in place in a few countries and need to be adhered too. They are usually to do with mask wearing, such as in German it's not a legal requirement to wear an FF2 mask on public transport. You don't want to be subject to a fine if you have not prepared and packed the right mask.

European travel

Of course the main thing is to have fun while travelling but doing your research beforehand will save you a lot of time, money and inconvenience and having a rough itinerary before setting out also enables you to have a better idea of what kind of budget you need before going. Travelling slightly off peak will also mean cheaper accommodation and less crowds, allowing you to really enjoy the popular sites with less queues.
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How to have a Japanese-inspired Day out in London


Kyoto Gardens
Enjoying Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park

My kids and I, like many people, have a deep love and fascination for everything Japanese and while we would love to jump on a plane to Japan (hopefully we will one day) right now with ongoing travel restrictions that are still in place in Asia means that's not the most feasible option. So how do we learn more about Japan and experience some of the culture without actually travelling there? First of all, we have been reading a lot of books, watching documentaries and films and learning how to cook some Japanese-inspired food at home. But then my son asked if we would have a Japanese-inspired day out in London for his birthday and like any major city London is a melting pot of cultures and influences, so we set out to see what we could find.

Kyoto Gardens

1. Kyoto Garden, Holland Park

We started the day with a relaxing walk around the beautiful Kyoto Garden in Holland Park. Kyoto Garden was a gift from the city of Kyoto to commemorate the friendship between Japan and the United Kingdom. As soon as you walk into the carefully planned and landscaped garden you feel a sense of tranquillity and calm especially as you approach the tiered waterfalls and pond full of koi carp, surrounded by stone lanterns and Japanese maple trees. We also spotted a rather majestic peacock wandering around the garden which only added to the unique atmosphere. The Kyoto Garden is free to explore, open daily from 7:30am and is a lovely spot to start the day. 

Japan House London
Exploring the exhibition at Japan House

2. Japan House London

The cultural home of Japan in London, Japan house was created in 2018 by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign affairs to showcase the best of Japanese culture, crafts and food. Here you will find Akira Restaurant (we didn't eat here but I've heard it's excellent) on the upper floor, the ground floor offers an emporium selling a curated collection of crafts from different Japanese artists and designers. The ground floor also has The Stand, take away drinks and snack bar stocking authentic teas such as iced matcha and sencha teas as well as a small seasonal menu. Downstairs is an exhibition space, we explored a free exhibition called "Windowology: New Architectural Views" which was really interesting, they also host film screenings and talks here. 

3. V&A Japanese Collection

The V&A houses a permanent and free Japanese collection in The Toshiba Gallery that is well worth visiting and will be of interest to both children and adults. The collection includes paintings, textiles, armour, woodwork, sculptures and ceramics, as well as modern and contemporary crafts and gives a good grounding into the history of art and culture in Japan. 

If you have time you can also pop over to the Natural History museum and head to the Volcano exhibition and experience what it's like to be in the middle of an earthquake in Japan - it's interactive and my kids found it really interesting. 

Mochi Donut
Trying a Mochi Donut at Japan Centre

4. Japan Centre and Mochi Bar, Leicester Square

Both my kids and I were keen to pick up some tasty snacks. to take home and Japan Centre in Leicester Square has everything you need and more making it an authentic Japanese dining and shopping experience with open kitchens and a central dine-in basement courtyard. On ground level they also have the Mochi Bar, a Japanese bakery serving up freshly hand-baked delights such as mochi donuts, mochi ice cream and bubble tea, we, of course, had to try some Mochi donuts and they were delicious. 


5. Experience Tokyo Ramen at Yokocho

Luckily over the time we visited Heddon Yokocho near Regent Street was having a special Godzilla event and as both my kids and I love retro Godzilla we had to make a visit and taste their amazing Ramen and Godzilla-inspired cocktails (for me, not the kids). Both the interior and food transport you to the alleys ways of Tokyo, "Yokocho" actually means alleyways which are hidden off the main streets of every city of Japan and offer delicious restaurants and street food. I cannot recommend this place enough, the food was amazing and the kids ate every last bite of theirs as well which is always a win! It was a great way to end a Japanese inspired day out in London.

We had also planned to visit Kew Gardens which has a large Japanese garden, Bamboo Garden and Minka house but unfortunately, we ran out of time but that is another place to put on your list.


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It's Time to Start Thinking About Your Autumn/Winter Style

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Autumn fashion

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It's that time of year again! The trees are bare, the air is chilly, and we're all bundling up in our warmest clothes. But just because it's cold outside doesn't mean your style has to suffer. In fact, winter is the perfect time to experiment with different textures, layers, and colours no matter what your personal style is. But not only that, but it’s also time to stock up on some of essentials that will carry you through this season.

Fall and winter fashion can be tricky especially at the start of the season when the temperature fluctuates between warm and chilly. It's not as easy as throwing on your favourite outfit that has seen you through summer and calling it good. But there are ways of tackling the colder months that will keep you feeling good about yourself and warm all at the same time. One of the key to pulling off a successful fall or winter look is to focus on the details, a simple way to do this is by adding a scarf, a hat, or even a belt. But let’s take a look at three elements that will help you with your styling.

Tartan pattern

1. It’s Time to Play With Texture

Winter is the perfect time to experiment with different textures and fabrics. It's the one time we can really embrace things like the tartan print and a mix of textures not only looks stylish, but also keeps you warm. Try pairing a fuzzy sweater with corduroy pants. You can also add a pop of texture to your accessories. A chunky knit scarf or gloves will add some visual interest to your outfit.

2. Layer Up!

Layering is a must in the UK, especially if you regularly go from the inside to the outside and vice versa. Not only does layering keep you warm, but it also allows you to play with different proportions. Try pairing a top with an oversized sweater or long coat. Layering can also help you transition your summer clothes into fall and winter. For example, if you have a light summer outfit that you love, you can layer it over a turtleneck or long-sleeved tee for a winter-appropriate look.

3. Making Fall/Winter Colors Work

Winter is often associated with dark, muted colours like black, grey, and brown. But don't be afraid to experiment with other shades! Jewel tones, pastels, and even white can look great in the wintertime. Just make sure to pair them with other colours in similar hues so that your outfit doesn't look too jarring. For example, if you want to wear a white sweater, pair it with other whites or creams. This will create a cohesive look that is both stylish and winter-appropriate.

Autumn shades

The 6 Styling Essentials to Invest in Now

As the weather starts to cool down, it's time to start thinking about what you really need in terms of essentials to get through the colder season comfortably but still feel good about what you're wearing! Here are the top 6 winter fashion trends for men that will keep you looking good and feeling comfortable all season long.

1. The Puffer Coat

Puffer coats have been popular for a few years now and they don't seem to be going anywhere. They're perfect for cold weather because they're so warm and comfortable. And there are so many different styles to choose from that you're sure to find one that fits your personal aesthetic. Whether you want a solid colour or a fun print, there's a puffer coat for you.

Puffer coat

2. Chunky Sweaters

Chunky sweaters are another great option for keeping warm in the winter. They also happen to be very stylish and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Pair a chunky sweater with some jeans and sneakers for a casual look or dress it up with slacks and a blazer for a more formal outfit.

3. Flannel Shirts

Flannel shirts are always in style in the fall and winter. They're perfect for layering under a sweater or jacket and they add an extra element of warmth on those especially cold days. Plus, they come in a variety of colours and patterns so you can find one that fits your personal style perfectly.

4. Beanies

Beanies are a must-have accessory in the wintertime. Not only do they keep your head warm, but they also look great! They come in all different colours and styles so you can find one that matches your day-to-day outfit or goes with a more specific outfit if you're going out on the town.

5. Boots

Boots are essential for snow, rain, and cold temperatures. And luckily, there are so many different styles of boots to choose from these days that it's easy to find a pair (or two) that fit both your needs and your sense of style. Whether you're looking for something practical or something fashionable (or both!), there's definitely a pair out there for you.

6. Scarves

Scarves are the perfect way to add an extra layer of warmth. They come in endless colours, patterns, and materials so you can find one (or two...or three!) that fits your personal style perfectly. And they're so easy to throw on when you're heading out the door on a cold day!

Styling Your Favorite Fall/Winter Fashion Today

These are just a few of the many fashion trends that will keep you looking good and feeling comfortable all winter long! Experiment with different styles and see what works best for you. With so many options available, it's easy to find a winter wardrobe that expresses your personal sense of style while still keeping you warm throughout the season!
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