Wahaca Oxford Circus - Family review

16/02/2024

7 comments
Wahaca


When it comes to travel and eating out with kids, you want to go somewhere that is within a reasonable budget (which isn't always easy in London) and you know there will be something for everyone and balances dishes with depth for adults and fun favourites for kids. This is where Wahaca comes in, it offers up a delicious and creative take on Mexican food along with great choices for younger diners and it's one of our go-to places in Cardiff so we decided to try out the Oxford Circus location on a recent trip to the capital. 

Close to Oxford Street and Oxford Circus Station, its central location is perfect after a long day of adventuring and offers a relaxed and cool place to recharge and refuel. I would advise especially in the summertime to book in advance although in the quieter months, you can usually find a table, which is what we did and the staff were really friendly throughout the meal. 


nachos


What I love about Wahaca is the array of nibbles and small plates, making it a bit of a sharing experience which is perfect when you have kids. We always opt for some nachos and guacamole to start and we all dive in. I also treated myself to one of their delicious virgin mojito mocktails which I highly recommend. 

The menu also has plenty of vegetarian and vegan options with black beans and three cheese quesadillas and sweet potatoes and feta taquito being favourites of mine. The kids opted for the "build your own taco" bowl which is great for kids who want to try new things or are picky eaters as they can create their own taco's just as they want them. 


build your own tacos


You really can't go to Wahaca and not finish the night by dipping some delicious churros into chocolate sauce, which once again also makes for a great sharing dessert.

Wahaca is perfect for families, adults can enjoy some cocktails or mocktails, kids can build their tacos and the food is always fresh and tasty so everyone wins. 


Churros

Disclosure - Wahaca invited us to try their menu. Words and opinions are 100% my own 


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A budget family guide to Turin, Italy

13/02/2024

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Turin
Standing in front of the Roman gates


The first overnight stop on our Interrail trip, leaving London was Turin in Italy as we wanted to make as much ground travel-wise on the first day as possible and felt London to Turin via Paris was more than doable. We had a rather eventful journey after leaving Paris with a train in front of us breaking down inside one of Europe's longest tunnels, the Fréjus Rail Tunnel, which left us stuck at Modane train station in the Alps, for over 3 hrs, while they rescued the train inside the tunnel.

Despite the delay, the staff were excellent throughout and we were given food and drink while we waited although this did result in getting into Turin at around midnight with two overtired children but we were safe and quickly caught a taxi the travel hostel. 

Waking up in Turin the next day is really when our European adventure began, we had arrived at our first destination, ready to explore. We would be heading to the coast the next day so wanted to make as much of our only full day in Turin as we could although of course within the small budget we had, which throughout our trip meant focusing on things to do for free with the odd paid attraction we felt worth it, street food and soaking up the culture. 

Our accommodation Combo Turino, a very hip and cool backpacker which offers great private rooms for families, was within easy walking distance of the old town and after breakfast, we headed straight to Porta Palatina which was less than 2mins away. 


Turin backpacker
Our room at Combo Turino Hostel


Porta Palatina 

The Palatine Gate is an impressive Roman city gate and is one of the world's best-preserved 1st-century BC Roman gateways and is completely free to explore and I imagine a lot of locals enjoy picnics on the grass, under it's red bricks in the summer. There are also two bronze statues depicting Augustus Caesar and Julius Caesar which were placed in the 1930's. While this is not the largest ruin it's still rather breathtaking and worth a visit. 


Porta Palatina


Piazza Castello

A quick walk on and we found ourselves in the beautiful Piazza Castello, a large and open city square lined with several landmarks, museums and cafes as well as monuments, sculptures and water features. From the Piazza Casello you can also get a great view of the Royal Palace and is well worth a visit for the free photo opportunities found here. 

The Museo Egizio

The kids and I decided together which museum we would pay admission for and The Museo Egizio and Egyptian Museum came out on top, with over 4,000 years of history and archaeology housed within its walls we knew we wouldn't be disappointed. It actually houses one of the largest collections of Egyptian antiquities in the world and receives nearly 1 million visitors a year making it highly popular although it really didn't feel crowded in any way and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. I would allocate 2-3hrs for this museum as there is simply so much to see and do and you don't want to rush through it.

 The adult ticket was roughly €18 and children under 14yrs are €1, with under 5's free. 


Museo Egizio


Riecco Focacceria

After a fair amount of walking, we were ready to sit down and try some much-anticipated Italian street food. After we left the museum we stumbled on to Riecco Focacceria down one of the side streets and I always think when you see a place filled with locals you know it's going to be good. It sells an array of focaccia and pizza, you can get beer to go as well, find a seat outside if you're lucky and take in the bustling atmosphere. 

Right opposite Riecco, to the kids delight was a Gelato shop called Grom, so it only made sense to stop off and try some of their delicious flavours before taking in more the city. 


Gelato


 Italian Job film locations

We had spotted a film location at Piazza Castello but wanted to tick a few more off and made for a fun and free way to explore more of the city. We stopped off at Palazzo Carignano, another beautiful piazza filled with beautiful buildings and statues and also where in the film we see a lot of angry Italians banding on huge oak doors. 


While we could have seen more, we had hoped to get to Borgo Medioevale, a medieval reconstructed village, we felt for our first full day on the continent this was a great start and well-paced for children. I know lots of people bypass Turin for more popular destinations but we really enjoyed our time here, it also was very reasonably priced unlike some of the other cities we visited later on and despite only scratching the surface we would love to come back and would definitely recommend a night or two here. 


Turin Italy


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The Benefits Of Upcycling

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vintage furniture



In the hustle and bustle of refreshing our living spaces, old furniture often finds itself on the less glamorous end of change. But wait, don't be too quick to say goodbye to those trusty old pieces! Keeping and storing old furniture, rather than discarding it, can be a surprisingly savvy move.

Let's explore why holding onto those pieces might just be a stroke of genius.

A Nod to Nostalgia

First off, old furniture is a treasure trove of memories. That coffee table isn't just a coffee table; it's a silent witness to countless family gatherings, late-night chats, and lazy Sunday afternoons. Each scratch and dent tells a story, adding a layer of warmth and history to your home that simply can't be bought off the shelf.

By storing these pieces, with the help of secure and convenient personal storage options like Safestore, you're essentially keeping a tangible piece of your history alive, ready to tell its tales to future generations.

Quality That Stands the Test of Time

Let's talk craftsmanship. Many old furniture pieces were built to last, with attention to detail and quality that's hard to come by in today's fast furniture era. The wood used in older items often comes from mature trees with denser, more durable wood grains, meaning these pieces can often outlast newer ones.

Storing these items, rather than discarding them, means you have access to quality furniture that can withstand the test of time.

Eco-Friendly Choices

We live in an era in which sustainability is more than just a trend – it’s a dire necessity. As a result, keeping and storing old furniture is a great way to go green. It reduces waste and the demand for new furniture, which in turn diminishes the carbon footprint associated with manufacturing and transporting new items.

Plus, giving furniture a second life, whether through upcycling or simply reusing, is a fantastic way to contribute to a more sustainable planet.


record player



The Joy of Upcycling

Speaking of upcycling, old furniture offers a blank canvas for those itching to unleash their creativity. With a bit of imagination and some DIY skills, that outdated dresser can be transformed into a chic statement piece.

Storing these items gives you the opportunity to breathe new life into them at your own pace, turning a weekend project into a rewarding and personalised addition to your home.

Financial Savvy

Believe it or not, keeping and storing old furniture can also be kind to your wallet. High-quality pieces, especially antiques or unique finds, can appreciate in value over time.

Instead of buying new, cheaper items every few years, you can invest in maintaining and eventually restoring old furniture, which not only retains but can also increase its value. Storage ensures these pieces are preserved until you're ready to use or sell them.

Flexibility for the Future

Life is full of changes, and what doesn't fit your space now might be perfect for your next home. Storing old furniture gives you the flexibility to redecorate and reconfigure your living spaces without the need to constantly purchase new items.

Whether it's a future move, a room repurpose, or a growing family, having a selection of furniture on hand can make transitions smoother and more cost-effective.

A Unique Style Statement

Lastly, blending old and new creates a dynamic, eclectic style that sets your home apart. Old furniture adds character and a sense of uniqueness, making your space a reflection of your personal journey and taste. Stored pieces can be reintroduced into your decor, lending a timeless charm that new furniture often lacks.

Before you decide to part ways with old furniture, consider the myriad benefits of keeping and storing it. Not only are you preserving a piece of history and embracing sustainability, but you're also opening up a world of creative and practical possibilities.

So, give those old pieces another glance – they might just be the unsung heroes of your next home makeover.


upcycling


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10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Life Right Now

12/02/2024

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positive changes



Many of us as focused on making small improvements, to help both our mental and physical well-being and recognise that small, intentional actions can significantly impact our overall health. Each step, no matter how minor it might seem, propels us forward to a more fulfilled and happier existence.

I'm hoping this guide will help to cut through the noise, offering clear, actionable steps we can all make to help improve our lives in tangible ways. Whether you're looking to bolster your health, deepen your relationships, or find more joy in your daily routine, the key is to start small.

As we grow older we all start to realise the importance of setting achievable goals, prioritising mental health and nurturing relationships. It's something I am constantly working on, even if it's a bit of trial and error, we learn and grow which is always a positive so let's embark on this journey together, with the understanding that every step forward is a step towards a better version of ourselves.

1. Set Realistic Goals Educate 

Goal setting is a powerful tool for personal growth and improvement although we have to learn how to be realistic. Start by defining clear, achievable objectives that motivate you to move forward. Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks to avoid feeling overwhelmed and to track progress more easily. For instance, if your goal is to become more physically active, start with short, daily walks instead of committing to running a marathon right away. Celebrate each small victory along the way. This approach not only keeps you motivated but also creates a habit of success. 


goal setting

 


2. Educate Yourself when it comes to your Health

One of the most empowering actions you can take today is to educate yourself on health matters. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to understanding and managing health conditions that could affect you or your loved ones. I live with a heart condition, knowing my triggers has been a huge help as well as gaining knowledge on what is best for me to eat, how to stay fit in a safe and healthy way and it also means I feel less anxious and more in control.  Perhaps you or a family member are dealing with a chronic issue, learning about it could be really helpful. Take Mesothelioma, for example, a rare but severe cancer often linked to asbestos exposure. Organizations like Mesothelioma Hope provide invaluable resources, offering information on the latest treatment options, patient support services, and ways to connect with expert medical professionals. By familiarising yourself with such resources, you not only prepare yourself to make informed health decisions but also become an advocate for your well-being and that of those around you. Remember, staying informed about health issues is the first step toward prevention, early detection, and effective management.


3. Prioritise Your Mental Health

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. In today's fast-paced world, taking time to care for your mental well-being is essential. I've found incorporating mindfulness practices into my daily routine to be helpful and things such as yoga, or deep-breathing exercises can be useful tools. These can help reduce stress and increase your overall sense of well-being. Don't hesitate to seek professional help if you're dealing with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. Therapy can provide the tools and support needed to navigate life's challenges more effectively. Remember, prioritizing your mental health is a sign of strength, not weakness.


meaningful friendship



4. Foster Meaningful Relationships

Humans are social beings, and our relationships play a significant role in our happiness and quality of life. Make an effort to strengthen bonds with family and friends by spending quality time together, communicating openly, and offering support during tough times. Additionally, expanding your social circle by meeting new people can introduce fresh perspectives and enrich your life. Whether it's joining a club, volunteering, or attending community events, engaging in social activities can lead to meaningful connections and a sense of belonging.

5. Improve Your Physical Health

Improving your physical health is about fitness and not weight loss, diets or doing anything that is going to have a negative impact. Hydration is also key, so drink plenty of water throughout the day. Incorporate regular physical activity into your routine, whether it's a daily walk, a dance class, or weight training at the gym. Exercise not only improves your physical health but also boosts your mood and energy levels. Lastly, ensure you're getting enough sleep each night. Adequate rest is essential for recovery, cognitive function, and overall health.


woman hiking



6. Learn a New Skill

Expanding your knowledge and skills is a rewarding way to improve your life. It can boost your self-confidence, open up new opportunities, and increase your engagement with the world around you. Start by identifying a skill you've always wanted to learn, whether it's a new language, playing a musical instrument, coding, or even gardening. The internet offers a wealth of free and paid resources, such as online courses, tutorials, and workshops, making learning more accessible than ever. Dedicate a small amount of time each day or week to this new pursuit. As you progress, you'll not only enrich your skill set but also enjoy the satisfaction that comes with personal achievement.

7. Manage Your Finances Wisely

Financial health is a critical aspect of improving your life. Educate yourself on basic investment principles to grow your savings over time. Consider consulting a financial advisor for personalized advice tailored to your situation. Managing your finances wisely relieves stress and builds a foundation for future security and opportunities.

8. Embrace Positivity

Adopting a positive mindset can transform your outlook on life. Surround yourself with positive influences, including people who uplift and inspire you. Limit exposure to negativity, whether from social media, news, or toxic relationships. Remember, positivity is a choice that can lead to greater happiness and resilience in the face of challenges.

9. Give Back to the Community

Volunteering and contributing to your community can provide a deep sense of satisfaction and purpose. Look for local organizations that align with your interests and values, and dedicate some of your time to supporting their causes. Giving back isn't limited to volunteering; it can also include small acts of kindness, like helping a neighbour or supporting a friend. These actions not only make a positive impact on others but also enrich your own life, fostering a sense of connection and shared humanity.

10. Take Time for Yourself

In the hustle of daily life, it's important to carve out time for self-care and relaxation. This might mean engaging in hobbies, reading, or simply taking a moment to breathe and be present. Respecting your need for downtime is essential for maintaining balance and avoiding burnout. Personal time allows you to recharge, reflect, and nurture your well-being, ensuring you have the energy and mindset to pursue your goals and face life's challenges.



Florence



Improving your life is an ongoing journey, not a destination. By learning new skills, managing your finances, embracing positivity, giving back, and taking time for yourself, you can create a fulfilling and balanced life. Each step, no matter how small, moves you closer to the life you envision for yourself. Remember, the power to change your life lies within you. Start with these actionable tips and watch as your life begins to transform. Embrace the journey with an open heart and mind, and enjoy the progress you make along the way. Improvement is a personal and unique path for everyone—celebrate your achievements, learn from setbacks, and always strive for a better tomorrow.
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3 products that never fail to get your kids outdoors

11/02/2024

6 comments
kids outdoors


It's getting harder and harder to pull kids' attention away from screens these days but here are 3 things that are guaranteed to do that and are well worth the small investment (they also make great birthday gifts). While screens can be very educational as well as fun, we all know that children need a balance of both indoor and outdoor play. Here are 3 things I have tried and tested with my boys, so I know they work and in all honesty, they are fun for all ages so even adults can relive their childhood days as well. 

1. Den Kit

Who doesn't love building a den? It taps into that real sense of adventure, building and independence and kids love it. My boys have used their den kit so much over the past few years and it's still going strong. What is great about these kits is that it brings people together, siblings can have a go at putting up their own den or parents can lend a hand as well. Once it's up it's great on a summer day, my boys each have their lunch and supper inside their den and have hours of fun as it really helps to spark the imagination. 

They also learn useful skills such as choosing the right place to build their den, what tools they need for the job, planning and ensuring they have supports for the tent cover and using the wooden mallet safely and effectively. 


Den kit


2. Trampoline 

If you have the space then investing in a well-made trampoline can bring years of joy and outdoor play. You will also be pleased to hear that most step-ups today have improved safety features and enclosures, which are essential and as standard with 6ft and 8ft models. The magic of a trampoline lies in it's ability to captivate children's attention for hours and can offer an array of activities, games and challenges as it combines both creative and physical challenges.  For smaller gardens, the compact 6ft trampoline with enclosure is an ideal choice and its enduring appeal makes it a great asset, especially during school breaks and summer holidays as well as when they have friends over. 


Beyond the obvious joy trampolines bring, they are also powerful tools for promoting physical health. Regular use helps children improve their cardiovascular fitness, enhances balance and coordination, and strengthens the body's core and limbs. For those with more space, you could go for the 8ft trampoline with enclosure which is large enough to grow with you child and even adults can have a go. Of course, it goes without saying that adult supervision is a must as well as being aware of basic health and safety before using a trampoline. 


trampoline



3. Binoculars and a birdwatching log

What is great about binoculars is how portable they are and kids love using them! You will be surprised how fun birdwatching is even for young children and total beginners and it's something my boys and I do together. Having a purpose when we go outdoors gives a real incentive and something to look forward too rather than just an aimless walk - if I incorporate things like bird watching, bug hunting and geocaching they are far more receptive to wanting to spend time outdoors. 

You also don't need a really expensive pair to start with - we have a basic pair we picked up from Go Outdoors for around £15 as a starting point. It also means they they can get knocked about when we are outdoors and it's not the end of the world. We also have a copy of The National Trust Bird Spotter book which is great for beginners and children to get excited about identifying birds we find in the UK. 


Of course, there are lots of other ideas when it comes to getting children outdoors but these are three that have worked well for me and while we should always aim to keep things simple having a few tools to help encourage children to spend more time outdoors is never a bad thing. 


binoculars



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Diving Into Style - Essential Picks for Spring 2024

10/02/2024

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spring fashion



When it comes to new trends, firstly I try to make my existing wardrobe work and if not any new purchases need to be practical and long-wearing while still having some seasonal flair. With the Spring 2024 collections unwrapping, it's clear that designers are blurring the lines between classic elegance and bold, contemporary aesthetics. This season, it's all about embracing versatility, with swimwear, suits and sandals stealing the spotlight. 

Spring 2024 Fashion Essentials

Black and Bold Swimwear 

As the mercury rises, the call of the beach becomes undeniable. This season's swimwear is a nod to both the bold and the beautiful, with designs that promise to make waves. Think high-cut one-pieces and bikinis adorned with unexpected details like ruffles and ties. These pieces aren't just for a dip in the ocean—they're crafted to double as statement tops under sheer blouses or open knitwear. For those seeking inspiration, look no further than the vibrant selections from UNE PIECE and Zimmerman, where swimwear is redefined as a cornerstone of spring fashion.



suit



The Reinvented Suit

Forget everything you know about suits because Spring 2024 is about reimagining this classic silhouette. Moving beyond the office, suits now come in a plethora of colors, patterns, and materials, making them a versatile choice for any occasion. From pastel linens for a casual day out to sleek satin for evening events, the suit is your canvas for personal expression this season. Brands like Oxford and Hugo Boss are leading the charge, offering suits that effortlessly blend sophistication with style.

Statement sandals

Footwear this spring is all about making a statement. Heels and sandals are not just accessories; they're conversation starters. This season's favourites include sculptural heels that defy expectations and sandals that combine comfort with chic design. Think bold colors, intricate straps, and unexpected materials. Whether it's the architectural heels from Amina Muaddi or the elegantly crafted sandals by Jimmy Choo, your footwear can elevate any outfit to a work of art.


sandals



Spring 2024 is shaping up to be a season of bold choices and reinventions, with each piece offering a unique story. Whether you're drawn to the allure of the beach or the sophistication of a suit, there's something for everyone. Remember, the key to embracing these trends is to find pieces that speak to your personal style, allowing you to navigate the season with confidence and ease.

*This post contains affiliate links

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7 Free things to do in Cardiff Bay, Wales

01/02/2024

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Cardiff Bay


If you are heading to the Welsh capital, then you need to make time to visit Cardiff Bay. This fantastic waterfront development is only a short train or bus ride away and has plenty to see and do, you can easily spend a whole day here. 

There is always a great atmosphere in the bay, all year round, with the old docks lined with buzzing foodie spots, bars and independent shops as well as intertwined with historical buildings and heritage and while there are a lot of activities that are well worth the admission fee, there is plenty to see and do for free and here are 7 of our favourites.

1. The Pierhead Building 

This Iconic red brick Grade 1 building which looks out across the Bay is well worth a visit and is completely free to wander around and take in the stunning interior and architecture along with its informative exhibition and gallery space which tells the story of the building.

2. The Senedd 

The main public building of the Welsh government and Centre for Democracy is an interesting place to explore for all ages. You can go into the public galleries, have a tour of the building, pop upstairs for a cup of coffee, which also has an area especially for children to play with puzzles and games. They also regularly have performers, singers and special exhibitions. 


The Senedd


3. Cardiff Bay Barrage Skatepark

If you or your kids are into skateboarding, BMX or scootering, heading over to the Bay Barrage Skatepark on a sunny day is always a good idea. The walk or skate to the park is predominantly along a smooth cycle path, taking in the views across the bay. The actual skatepark is spread out with an urban concrete feel and has both small and big ramps, stairs and rails and is suitable for all levels. It's open all day and is free to enjoy although I would recommend wearing a helmet. 


4. The Bay Barrage open-air gym and basketball course

This free outdoor sports facility can be found opposite the skatepark and is designed in the shape of the London 2012 Olympic logo. It comprises various fitness stations, a small climbing wall area, and a basketball court. This open-air gym is popular with not only gym-goers but also families and teens who make use of what is on offer. 


5. The Bay Barrage Pirate Playpark

The walk from Cardiff Bay to Penarth along the Barrage is a lovely buggy and wheel-friendly path and is suitable for young children to do and knowing there is a fantastic play park to stop off at along the barrage certainly helps. The sandy adventure play park is great, with a huge wooden pirate ship to climb and explore and plenty of space for kids to run around. There is usually a coffee stand open nearby as well for parents to get their coffee fix.


6. Free Art Installations across the Bay 

There is a huge array of art and installations to spot across the Bay and Barrage from the huge Celtic ring to the beautiful mosaic Captain Scott Memorial and the moving Merchant Seafarer's War Memorial or the bronze sculpture of "people like us", among many more, there are plenty of stunning artworks to see and get up close too. 


Cardiff bay Wetlands
Exploring the Cardiff Bay Wetlands


7. The Cardiff Bay Wetland Reserve

I'm always surprised by how many people don't even know about this little wildlife haven and it's only a short walk from the buzzing waterfront. The reserve covers around 8 hectares of former salt marsh and is the perfect spot for keen bird watchers. There is also a boardwalk that extends out over the water with fantastic views across the bay. 


A few more free and low-budget ideas

It's worth popping into the Iconic Norwegian church which you won't miss as this traditional wooden church really stands out and also frequently has free art exhibitions as well as a lovely cafe. 

Depending on the day the Welsh Millenium Centre holds free performances, events and craft activities in the Glanfa aka open public reception space, so do check out their website to see what's on. 

If you are a Torchwood fan then no trip to Cardiff Bay is complete without a visit to Ianto's shrine which can be found on the boardwalk in front of Mermaid Quay. 

If you fancy getting on the water at a budget-friendly price then why not take the Aquabus otherwise known as the Water taxi from Bute Park to Cardiff Bay. The trip takes 25 minutes and is £7 for adults and £3 for children 3-15yrs and children under 3 go free. 


Cardiff Bay


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Lighting Up the Celebration: Responsible Fireworks for an Unforgettable Event

31/01/2024

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Fireworks



Fireworks are the epitome of celebration, so if you're hoping to incorporate fireworks, in a responsible way, for an unforgettable event, then read on! In this article, we delve into innovative ways to ensure a truly one-of-a-kind experience for everyone.


Why Should You Incorporate Fireworks?

Create Lasting Memories

Fireworks have a unique ability to create long-lasting memories. This stunning visual spectacle doesn't happen all that often, and the exhilarating bursts of light and sound create a sense of wonder that captivates audiences of all ages. Just make sure you have enough space so everyone can keep a safe distance, be mindful of neighbours and pets and bringing in a  professional company is always best. 

Add Excitement

When guests know a fireworks display will accompany an event, it creates a palpable sense of anticipation. It provides a focal point for guests to gather around, creating a sense of unity and camaraderie, not to mention, a good talking point.

Set the Atmosphere

Fireworks can be the perfect tool for creating an atmosphere. Whether you're going for grandeur, romance, or celebration, they can help set the perfect ambience that reflects the mood and theme of your celebration.

Celebrate Milestones

If you're celebrating a significant milestone, Fireworks can add a sense of significance to the occasion. So why not celebrate your birthday with a stunning display?

Create Unity Among Guests

Fireworks are a shared experience, and they bring people together. A sense of unity and community can be felt as people huddle together for warmth and look up at the sky. Do be aware of neighbours though and preferably do this away from built-up areas in socially acceptable times. 



fireworks




Where Can You Incorporate Fireworks?


At Weddings

Fireworks can elevate a wedding celebration, adding a touch of magic to the occasion. A firework display can also create a breathtaking backdrop for wedding photos, so it's important to consider the perfect moment to light up the sky.

New Year's Eve Parties

New Year's Eve is synonymous with fireworks, as people around the world gather to ring in the new year with spectacular displays. A New Year's Eve party without fireworks is sure to end in disappointment. It's a tradition that unites.

Corporate Product Launches

An event where you're less likely to see fireworks is a product launch. However, fireworks are sure to make for an unforgettable event. Whether you're celebrating a successful year, launching a new product, or hosting a milestone anniversary, fireworks can help to impress clients, employees, and stakeholders alike. It's a way that your business can make a statement.

Community Events

Community events, such as festivals or fairs, can also benefit from the inclusion of fireworks. They bring people together from all walks of life to celebrate shared interests and experiences. A firework display at the end of the event can serve as a grand finale, leaving attendees with a sense of awe and appreciation for their community.


Safety Considerations

It's important to prioritise safety when incorporating fireworks into your event. Follow all local regulations and safety guidelines. Provide clear instructions to guests on where to safely view the fireworks and have designated areas for spectators to gather in.


In conclusion, incorporating fireworks into your event adds a touch of magic, excitement, and entertainment that elevates the entire experience for you and your guests. By considering the benefits of fireworks, the perfect timing for their inclusion, and the variety of events they can enhance, you can create unforgettable moments and cherished memories that will last a lifetime.


fireworks

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5 ways to live more sustainably in 2024

21/01/2024

3 comments
cycling

* This post may contain affiliate links.  

Now more than ever we know we need to do what we can in terms of cutting down our personal impact on the earth and that some of our daily habits need to be changed to encourage this. However, it's not a bad thing, in fact, these changes usually have a positive effect all round and are fairly easy to implement. Changes like this also need to be seen as long-term goals and nothing one and one situation - I've already do most of these things. 

So here are 5 ways to live more sustainably this year

1.  Travel - focus on flight-free destinations and reduce your car use 

We all love to go on holiday but if you are based in the UK with Europe right on your doorstep, there are so many ways to completely cut out flying while still enjoying a sunny destination while taking advantage of the fantastic trains and bus networks across Europe. Travelling by public transport is the most sustainable and often economical way to go, in 2022 I took my kids Interrailing across Europe and it was one of the best things we have ever done and not a plane in sight. 

When it comes to daily travel, try and make sustainable swaps, such as if your destination is within cycling distance then try that inside of driving, or ditch the car for bus or train commute. Also try and actively walk to more places if possible. 


train travel
Interrailing across Europe


2. Eating - Grow your own and have more meat-free days

You don't have to fully commit to a plant-based diet to have an impact, just having more meat-free days will massively help. Instead of just meat-free Monday why don't you try and adopt a veggie-based meal three times a week? Planning meals in advance also helps to reduce waste and remember to compost left over food because it all helps.

If you have a garden or outdoor space why not focus on making it as wildlife-friendly as possible this year, you could let your grass grow longer, plant more wildflowers and flowers that attract bees, hang up a bird feeder and create micro-habitats and also why not try your hand at growing your own food? If you don't have any outdoor space then why not consider volunteering at a community allotment, I do and its a lot of fun and a great way to meet people and spend more time outdoors. 


grow your own


3. Ditch fash fashion for second-hand finds

I rarely buy anything new and now with apps such as Vinted and Depop there is hardly any reason to not buy second-hand - it's easy, economical and sustainable. Charity and secondhand stores are also great and when you are done with your item why not list it online and continue the circular fashion loop. 

Also instead of throwing a garment away because it has a hole, or has lost a button, either repair it yourself or get it repaired. I recently dropped a pair of trousers off at a local seamstress to fix the zip that had broken - it was cheaper and easier than going into the city to buy a new pair. 


thrifted fashion
My favourite second-hand jacket and top

4. Make eco swaps and support B Corps

We all need to start making small changes when it comes to our purchases. If you can reduce the need for plastic even better, such as changing to shampoo bars and creme deodorant. Not everything it suitable to be purchased second hand so when we are making new purchases try to go with a company that has sustainability at it's core, such as B Corp Brands which is an accolated awarded to businesses that promote positive social and environmental change. I recently needed a new duvet and discovered Simba, the first B Corp sleep brand and is made in the UK using sustainable products and is committed to reducing emissions as well as offering a robust recycling service. I've been so impressed with my Hybrid duvet from Simba, I know its' going to last a really long time which is also important when making purchases, longevity is sustainability. 

5. Energy 

With energy prices having skyrocketed over the past 2 years, its not only beneficial for the environment for us to be more energy aware but also for our pockets and saving money. We all know to turn off lights when we are not using them and to turn our thermostat down along with taking shorter showers and laying warm clothes instead before putting on the heating but we can also look at alternative energy such as installing solar panels or switching providers that use wind turbine installation company for power. There is a whole array of renewable energy options on the market today and many more in the pipeline, here is a really informative article about the renewable energy sources choices out there. 





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Beat the Cold: Adventurous Winter Date Ideas

19/01/2024

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outdoor cooking


The winter season can be a magical time of year, filled with cosy movie nights with family and friends and hot chocolate, yes it is a lot colder but despite the drop in temperature, it's still a great time for adventure seekers. If you are looking for some active or outdoor ideas that go beyond a brisk winter walk then hopefully this blog post will give you some inspiration.  Don't let the cold weather keep you from having fun with family, friends or on your own – embrace it and get ready for some exciting winter date ideas!

Have hot chocolate in the woods 

My kids and I love heading out into the woods with our Ghillie kettle 0 similar to a Kelly Kettle, getting the small (and very controlled) fire going and heating up water for a warming hot chocolate out in nature, we do this every winter and it's something we really look forward too. If you don't have a camping stove or kettle then just take a flash out with you and a picnic blanket to sit on, you will surprised how fun it is.

Try cold water swimming

 Most people by now have heard about the benefits of cold water swimming and the colder the better, however, this is something that takes getting use to and needs to be approached with some level of caution. There are groups up and down the country that are open to beginners such as mental health swims and as with anything to do with swimming outdoors, safety in numbers. If you don't fancy heading in thre sea or river this time of the year, many spas and health retreats now offer ice tubs for you to have a dip in and get that adrenaline pumping.  


cold water swimming



Hit the Slopes even if they are artificial ones

While except for Scotland, in most of the UK you cannot guarantee snow but that doesn't mean you can't get out on the slopes and either learn a new skill our touch up on your skiing and snowboarding abilities. Most cities have artificial slopes, Cardiff my local city does and places like Tamworth have great indoor facilities using "real" snow. There are of course 5 ski slopes open annually in Scotland so that is always an option. However, it would be dreamy to be able to go skiing in Utah is a must-try for any adventurous couple, with its world-renowned ski resorts and stunning mountain views, it's no wonder Utah is known as the ski capital of the United States.

Tick off a bucket list Winter hike

Who says hiking is only for the warm months? Bundle up in your warmest winter gear and hit the trails with your loved one. Winter hikes offer spectacular views of snow-covered landscapes and peaceful solitude away from the crowds. Places like Pen Y Fan in South Wales is stunning this time of the year with it's snow-capped peaks.

Research some nearby hiking trails and plan a day trip to explore together. Make sure to bring plenty of snacks, water, and a camera to capture the beautiful scenery along the way.

Pen Y Fan
Pen Y Fan in South Wales in the winter




Embrace the Cold

Instead of hibernating indoors during the winter months, embrace the cold with your family, pets or even significant other by trying out one of these adventurous date ideas. Whether it's hitting the slopes or cuddling up by the fire after an exciting day, these winter activities will make you enjoy the colder season more.

So bundle up, have fun, and don't be afraid to venture outside of your comfort zone – you never know what amazing experiences await! Keep exploring together and making the most of this magical time of year.

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7 Tips for Stunning Landscape Photos

12/01/2024

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Sugarloaf mountain



For those who don't know, I have a degree in Photography and I love to travel so I thought I would share a few tips on getting the best results when heading outdoors with your camera. The allure of a mountain range, the serene expanse of a valley, or the dynamic colours of a sunset draws people to a particular photography genre, landscape photography. Yet, the journey from a casual snapshot to a breathtaking landscape photo is often challenging because it's not just about having a high-end camera or finding the perfect location. Taking beautiful photos of nature requires understanding and harnessing the subtle details of light, composition, and perspective.

But what if your attempts at capturing the grandeur of landscapes leave you feeling more frustrated than fulfilled? What if, despite your best efforts, the images you capture do not quite echo the majesty of the scenes before your eyes? The solution lies in knowledge and technique. Whether you're a seasoned photographer or just starting to explore the vast world of landscape photography, there's always room for growth and improvement. Below are some tips you can apply to elevate your landscape photography from ordinary to extraordinary.


1. Composition Techniques


A stunning landscape photo is a well-composed one. A guiding principle for good photo composition is the rule of thirds. Most if not all modern digital cameras and smartphones have a “rule of thirds” mode, which you can activate by going to the settings and turning on the grid (or the equivalent).

Place the vital elements of your landscape along the grid or at the intersections for a more balanced, visually appealing shot. You can also use leading lines, such as paths, rivers, or even patterns in the landscape, to create a sense of depth and direction, drawing the viewer's eye into the main subject. Don't hesitate to experiment with different compositions to find the one that best tells the story of your landscape.



mountain range




2. Explore Different Perspectives


The angle and perspective from which you take your shot can dramatically alter the story you’re trying to tell with your photo. So, when it comes to landscapes, don’t just settle for the typical eye-level shot. Climb to a higher vantage point for a bird's-eye view or get down low to capture an interesting ground-level perspective.

Experimenting with different lenses can also change the entire feel of your landscape photographs. If you're not ready to invest in a wide range of lenses just yet, consider a lens hire service. This allows you to experiment with various types of lenses, such as wide-angle or telephoto, which can provide new creative avenues for your photographic endeavours without the commitment of a large purchase.
 

3. Create Depth in Landscapes


Depth is what transforms a flat image into a three-dimensional scene that invites the viewer to "enter" the photograph. To achieve depth in your landscape photos, include details at various distances from the camera. This layering of the foreground, middle ground, and background produces a sense of scale and depth that makes your landscape photos more engaging and realistic. Also, consider using a smaller aperture (higher f-stop number) to keep as much of your scene in focus as possible to enhance the sense of depth in your image.


4. Utilise Filters Effectively


In photography, filters can significantly enhance the quality of your images. A polarising filter, for example, can reduce glare, deepen the blue of the sky, and bring out the richness of colours, especially in foliage and water. Neutral density filters, on the other hand, allow for longer exposure times even in bright daylight. This helps achieve that silky smooth effect in moving water or clouds. When starting, experiment with different filters to see which one suits your style and preference best.



sunset hour


 

5. Optimise Camera Settings for Clarity


The mastery of camera settings is a game changer in landscape photography. A smaller aperture is typically preferred, as it ensures a greater depth of field and sharper focus. Also, don't shy away from using a tripod to stabilise your camera. This is crucial for blur-free images, especially when using slow shutter speeds or shooting in low-light conditions. Finally, toy around with your ISO settings; a lower ISO minimises noise, creating clearer, crisper images. The bottom line? Understand and experiment with your camera settings to capture landscape photos that truly stand out.


6. Understand Your Landscape


For photographs that truly capture the essence of a landscape, the first step is to understand it. Different landscapes, from deserts and mountains to rivers and seas, require different approaches. Research the area you plan to photograph by understanding the geography, the typical weather patterns, and even the time of year. These factors can all influence the output and knowing about them can help you anticipate certain elements like cloud cover, the quality of light, or even what kinds of flowers will be in bloom. Being informed also deepens your connection with the landscape to allow you to portray it more authentically.


7. Keep Compositions Simple and Powerful


When capturing the grandeur of landscapes, it can be easy to fall into the trap of including too many elements in your photo. However, simplicity can often be more powerful. A minimalist approach can create a more impactful, memorable image by highlighting a few strong elements: a lone tree against a vast sky, a single mountain peak piercing the clouds, or a quiet stream meandering through a forest. These simple scenes can carry immense beauty and emotion. Ultimately, it’s about letting the landscape speak for itself.

Capturing One Landscape Photo at a Time

Landscape photography is about sharing how you see the world through a camera lens. It's also a journey of continual learning, experimentation, and, most importantly, enjoyment. So go ahead, take your camera, and step into the great outdoors. With patience, practice, and these tips in mind, you can easily capture the breathtaking beauty of nature through photos. Happy shooting!


mountain landscape


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How to have a positive Co-working experience as a digital nomad

11/01/2024

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Digital nomad

*This post contains affiliate links.





With a growing industry of digital nomads, self-employed freelancers and those switching from an office environment to working from home permanently, many are enjoying the new flexibility of being able to choose where and when they work and in what kind of environment.

As a creative freelancer myself, who can work from anywhere that has a fast internet connection, I wanted to share some insight to my experiences of trying out different working environments. I've worked from coffee shops, libraries, hotels and backpackers while travelling and co-working hubs in my local city, I also have a home office. For those who travel and work Nomadic Matt offers up some great digital nomad tips. I found each has its pros and drawbacks, which I will share in this post.

Which working environment is best for a digital nomad?

1. The Coffeeshop 

Nearly all coffee shops have free fast wifi and while this is good for checking email or just touching base with clients, coffee shops in general are not a great option for anything that is going to take longer than an hour. Firstly you will need to purchase food and drink and secondly, I've seen a rise in coffee shops limiting laptop use to 1hr to prevent people sitting for hours on end while spending very little, which is fair. It's also not the most social atmosphere if you are looking to bounce ideas off other creatives.

2. Local Libraries

Council-run libraries in the UK all have free-to-use fast internet (well at least 95% do) and most will have desks and plugs you can use. There is usually no time limit and it's a great free option although can be lacking in terms of social connections or creativity. Also you need to be aware of being on a shared server which can pose security issues for things like mobile banking and libraries may also block certain websites. 

3. Home Office 

Now I love my home office but sometimes I find I can start to lack motivation or inspiration day in and day out and connecting with other creatives can be really helpful at times so there are definitely some drawbacks to working solely from home. 

4. Co-working hubs

Personally, I think every digital nomad should give a co-working hub a go at some point, you don't need to use them all the time but it can be a boost socially and creatively being around others who work in similar industries. Also many are now offering more flexible approaches and you can often get a hot desk on a daily basis and don't have to lock into longer-term or monthly contracts. If you do your research and look around you will also be able to find a variety of options to suit your budget depending on facilities, space and how many days a week you want to use it. 


digital nomad


With every situation, including co-working, you need to create some kind of routine to get the most out of it. Here are some tips on having a positive experience while using a co-working hub

1. Have a daily to-do list

It can be easy to become distracted in a co-working space so ensure you find a quiet desk and consider using headphones to zone out any unwanted noise and and have a clear to-do list for the day with tasks you want to complete.

2. Take regular breaks

It's important to step away from your laptop or phone regularly, even if it's just for a few minutes to help you both physically and mentally recharge, doing this can help improve your well-being and productivity. Also, go for a short walk or grab a coffee and connect with others throughout the day when you feel like you're hitting a slump. 

3. Connect with others during your breaks

Co-working hubs are great spaces to meet other like-minded digital nomads and freelancers although you do need to put a little effort in to get the most out of it. In most co-working spaces they will have a social area where people can share ideas, grab a bite to eat and enjoy social interactions with others, something you won't get when working from home. 

4. Be a conscientious co-worker

Co-working spaces are just that, sharing and working in a space together, so make sure to tidy up after yourself, keep your space clean and be aware of others around you. Help to create a positive atmosphere while being kind to your other co-workers.  

5. Don't go into a co-working space if you are unwell. 

There are lots of viruses going around, from colds and flu to stomach bugs, so please be aware of your fellow digital nomads and do not go into a shared space if you are not feeling well. Some hubs may offer some form of rapid testing and in other places such as in Oregon, it is legal for employers to conduct drug screening as part of the hiring process so they may have stricter rules in co-working spaces depending on the area and country, needless to say if you feel you are coming down with something but don't count on it, always best to stay at home until you are feeling fully well again before heading into a shared working space. 

6. Take snacks and stay hydrated

A lot of co-working hubs will have some kind of small kitchen space and coffee machine at a minimum, so may even have a small cafe on site but always ensure to bring along plenty of snacks and water to keep you going throughout the day and to prevent a midday slump. 

If you are a digital nomad or freelancer or someone just switching to working at home full time then I hope you found this useful. The main thing is to be flexible, try new things and look for a routine or setup that works for you. 



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