How to refresh your home with these 5 steps. I don’t know about anyone else, but every so often I get the sudden urge to change my living room! And sometimes it’s not just the living room. I can start there and have done the whole house by the time I’m finished. It’s that time of year again for me, I just feel like the freshness has disappeared and that my house needs a bit of an update. Here’s what I do to refresh my home.
#1 Get the cleaners in
No, actually I have far too much time on my hands to get a cleaner in. Every month I give my house a really good deep clean. I move all the furniture out of every room and brush, hoover and mop. Adding something with a nice lavender or lemon scent to the mop bucket. Makes a huge difference you know! It’s keeping on top of it once you’ve finished that’s key.
I don’t leave anything untouched, everything gets polished, my leather gets wiped down ( baby wipes are amazing for this) and even the dog gets a bath.
So get your marigolds out and get motivated.
#2 New rug
OK so I don’t get a new rug every month. But I’m feeling right now that it needs updating. It’s had it’s fair share of deep cleans with the carpet cleaner. It gets hoovered daily, and the white bits in the design are just a bit grubby. The carpet cleaner isn’t really making a difference anymore.
So, head down to your local rug shop. Or see what’s hanging about on Facebook marketplace! You never know what you might find. I got my last one from a well know high street bargain shop. Paid less than £100 and it was really good size. My living room is huge! Could probably go a bit bigger this time.
#3 Give the windows a clean
I am so passionate about this one, that I do it, oh, twice a year, three times if I’m feeling really adventurous ha!
I wouldn’t spend on fancy cleaners. Vinegar, lemon juice and a squeeze of washing up liquid is much better than most cleaners. The vinegar helps keep streaks away. All you’ll need is a wash on cloth and a wash off cloth. Check out my previous post about cleaning windows for an in depth instruction manual.
#4 Fresh flowers
Spruce up any room in the house with a fresh bunch of flowers. For me it is always lillies. Well it was, until we got our pooch. Lillies are poisonous to dogs and cats.
Never mind. Just having the flowers in your constant view will be enough to create a nice atmosphere. And there are some amazingly smelly flowers out there.
#5 Update your lighting
Try even changing the bulb. Perhaps a lower or higher wattage than you’re used to. I found that mine got quite dusty. When I replaced them it was like I had added an extra window.
The light was so much better. Something I’ll definitely be doing is giving them a quick wipe every now and then. Keeps them fresh, and dust free.
Some fairly easy ways of keeping your house fresh. Is there anything you would do in addition to all of these? Or perhaps you’re a clean as you go person.
How can we help our Nations Bees. First of all, it is no secret to anyone that our nations bee population is in decline. There has been a lot of press recently about the importance of reversing this decline in attempt to save not only the bees, but our environment in general. Bees are imperative to the thriving of our wild flowers, trees, fruit, veg etc. So, what can we do to help?
Why are bees so important?
In short, bees pollinate pretty much everything. Our fruit, vegetables and 3/4 of our nations wildflowers.
Without bees, our food and our economy would be at risk of failing. No, they would fail. Completely.
If we had to artificially, or rather if our farmers had to artificially pollinate our food crops, it would cost them an extra £1.8 billion a year, or there about. Can you imagine how much our weekly shop would cost if that was the case? I mean, they’d have to make their money back somehow wouldn’t they?
A healthy environment
Have you ever sat having a picnic, perhaps in the garden of a stately home, or a even a meadow near your house? If you have, you would probably have noticed all sorts of beautiful smells coming from the surrounding wild flowers, and the unmistakable sound of the bees buzzing while they work hard to gather what they need for their hives.
If you did notice, it means that the environment in that area is good. Bees are therefore a good sign of a thriving area.
A good place for bees is a good place for people. So, not only are these areas responsible for keeping our bees working hard and healthy, they also mean that for humans our air is fresher and our water is too.
Over the years, over 270 species have been recorded in the UK. 13 species have completely disappeared. Since 1900, 35 species have been deemed under threat. This isn’t good news.
Why the decline?
There are a number of reasons why the bee population is in decline, loss of habitat as a result of the need for homes and places to grow crops. Disease, pesticides from farming, pollution from everyday life, and the increase in foreign plants and insects coming here from abroad. The bees just can’t compete with them.
Progress is being made. Slowly but surely. In 2018 three neonicotinoids (pesticides used in UK farming) known to be harmful to our bees were banned. This is a positive step in the right direction! But more needs to be done.
Can you imagine a country without bees? I can. Bleak, barren, devoid of life and colour. But it’s not all bad.
How can we help our Nations Bees?
So, there are a few things that we as residents of this great world can do to help our bees on their way.
Plant nectar rich flowers in our gardens, or window boxes. Herbs such as sage and thyme, flowers like bluebells, lavender, strawberry plants and tomato plants. All of these are fantastic for bees.
A bee hotel. Despite the ever represented swarms of bees, a few of our species are solitary and need somewhere to live. Many of them dig into crumbling walls and soft concrete, others prefer dry logs. Placing things such as logs, untreated wood, breeze blocks etc in your garden can help give them a place to live.
Access to water, install a pond or perhaps a bird bath in your garden. Bees need water too.
Eat local honey, apparently eating honey within 6 miles or so of your home can help tackle hay fever too! I’m not sure how much truth is in this but it would make sense right?
Encouragement at work. Why not tell people what you’re doing to help. You could hold a competition for who can make the most bee friendly living environment, and then have them set up in your gardens, or even in a dedicated space on site at work. Whatever you do, it will help our bees on their way.
What are we doing at the House Nameplate Company?
Here at the House Nameplate company, we are proud to say that we are doing our bit to help reverse the decline in our nations bees. We have launched our range of ‘Bee’ related products and for every product sold, we will be donating £1 to Friends of the Earth – ‘Save the Bees’ campaign. Read more here.
We also have something exciting happening in July, again to do with bees. But I’m going to save that for another blog post. I can’t wait to share though!
What are the Rules surrounding Gravestones in a Cemetery?
The rules surrounding gravestones vary depending on the cemetery. Whether it’s privately owned or council owned, the cemetery will have its own set of regulations you need to abide by. It is important to check these out, as they can stipulate the style, wording, size and material used.
Types of Gravestones:
For the first six weeks to twelve months (depending on the burial site), you will be advised to not fit a gravestone. The earth needs time to settle so a gravestone fitted too early may sink. This can be distressing, as it is understandable that you want a nice place to visit your loved one. Some cemetaries will allow you to place a temporary memorial, such as a wooden cross or plaque. The House Nameplate Company sell a lovely range of slate gravestones on a plinth or a stake that can be placed at your memorial site while you wait for the ground to settle.
Once you are allowed to fit a permament gravestone you need to check what types of gravestones your cemetary allows. There are plenty to choose from:
Upright gravestones are the most common. In most circumstances they are tall, thick and rounded with a concrete base. Upright gravestones are made from a wide selection of materials, most commonly granite and marble. They ususally have an inbuilt vase in the base of the gravestone. Normally they are three feet high by two and a half feet wide by one foot deep.
These simple gravestones which tend to be rectangular, are either flush with the ground or raised very slightly to allow water run off. They are usually cheaper than other gravestones but don’t contain as much information as other gravestones. Flat or ground level gravestones are usually made from either granite or bronze.
Also known as as the DVT (Desk vase tablet) gravestone. They resemble a book with inbuilt vases at the top. It is recommended to have a cement foundation to keep them in place.
Ledger slabs are thick slabs of granite, marble or sandstone which cover an entire grave. They are often used in conjunction with other gravestones or memorial plots. Ledger slabs can also be joined together to create a multiple burial plot. They require less maintenance than grass and are easy to wipe down.
These tall columns are mounted on pedestals and point up towards the sky. They vary in height and they can be as plain or as intricate as you prefer.
A lawn memorial is made to be fixed at the head of a burial plot with a classic base and headstone combination. They can be crafted using a large range of materials – all with lasting durability and protection against weathering. Other types of memorial, often for use in a private garden, include benches, statues, ornaments and water features. It is very important to check the rules and regulations surrounding such features though as not all cemeteries will allow these features.
These memorials include a line of stone which form a rectangular edge covering the whole grave. Kerb memorials create a set area and allow your loved one’s memorial to stand out in a cemetery. They can have different types of cover slabs or chippings, or alternatively they can be left open for planting.
A bespoke memorial means that you can personalise it to make it unique, and tell a story. An alternative design can really reflect the individual personality of your loved one for family and friends to recognise. You can choose exactly what size, shape, colour and finish you would like your memorial to have. It is important though to check the cemeteries rules and regulations as not all allow such individuality.
Cremation memorials range from headstones to plaques, to urns and vases. These kind of memorials can give you a point of focus to connect with your loved one.
Children’s gravestones and memorials:
Choosing a memorial to remember a child can be extremely painful. You may feel that you need to make the decision gently, and in your own time. Gravestones for children and teenagers are often inspired by their youth. Many infant gravestones are shaped like teddy bears, favourite toys, angels, hearts, etc. Teenage gravestones can have carvings that represent their hobbies, such as music notes or cars. Always check the rules and regulations of the cemetery if you plan on purchasing something out of the ordinary.
Gravestone Materials to choose from:
Material plays an important part in the durability of the gravestone. Granite, bronze and marble are the most commonly used materials but there are other options.
Granite is a material which boasts great durability and can withstand virtually any weathering. It’s available in a variety of colours, such as black, red, blue and grey. Granite was traditionally very expensive but is now far more affordable.
Bronze is also popular due to its hardy nature. However, bronze will often darken over time, but is resilient and easy to maintain. It is generally more expensive than granite.
Marble is strong and looks great but it’s not as durable as granite and is more susceptible to weathering. It can’t be placed placed in damp areas due to its weakness in structure. This means that inscriptions will likely fade over time.
Limestone is another common gravestone material. Nabresina is the most commonly used form of limestone and is a light beige colour. It’s durable and suitable for most churchyards. Nabresina can make an ideal alternative to white marble and is just as pleasing to the eye. Portland Stone is another widely used form of limestone.
Slate is hard wearing, weatherproof and has a unique grain. It is easy to engrave and comes in natural shades of black, charcoal, grey and green.
Before you make a choice of material, make sure it is allowed as some cemetaries stipulate what to use to create a uniform look.
What wording to choose?
When it comes to wording for a gravestone, you need to consider font as well as inscription. Different fonts can add character to a gravestone. The most popular option is a Roman font or one very similar. Highly stylised fonts such as elaborate ‘script’ like fonts may look good on paper but are often very unsuitable when cutting into stone. More simple italic style fonts are often used for verses, bible passages, poetry and quotes. It is also important to choose a font of contrasting colour to the gravestone to ensure the wording stands out.
The inscription is one of the most important parts of a gravestone. It’s the message that will represent the life of your loved one and should be timeless and dignified. It can contain anything from bible passages to quotes to poems, and should summarise the dead person’s life, beliefs and accomplishments. This can be very difficult since it’s hard to summarise somebody in just a few words. Common phrases include ‘Rest in Peace’, ‘In loving memory of…’, ‘Forever in our thoughts’, etc. Any personal phrases need to be checked to make sure they comply with the rules and regulations belonging to your particular cemetary.
The rise of Fortnite has taken the gaming world by storm and it doesnt show any signs of calming down any time soon. Epic Games’ mass-multiplayer shooter has more than 40 million players online and continues to grow at a rapid pace.
In July 2017, it was released as a paid Early Access game. It was solely a PvE (Player versus Environment) experience. Players completed levels by collecting materials and creating sophisticated bases in which to fight against hordes of zombies.
Reviews were mainly positive. However, Epic had been watching the success of another Early Access game called PlayerUnknown’sBattleground (PUBG) and decided to follow suit.
The following September, ‘Battle Royale’ a free to play version of the original game, was released. And by January 2018, the rise of Fortnite was clear to see. The world had gone Fortnite crazy with Epic revealing Fortnite had 45 million players worldwide.
Battle Royale mode entails 100 people parachuting onto an island with only the clothes on their back and a pickaxe. Players can play solo or as a part of a team of up to four players.
As they search for weapons and hunt rival players, the game slowly restricts the game area by way of a “Storm Eye.” Players must remain inside the storm eye in order to survive. As the battle continues, the storm eye gradually shrinks and players are forced to get closer and closer with less and less places to hide until there is a ‘last man standing’ winner.
The game offers a different experience everytime it is played. Different opponents of differing abilities are faced each time and loot is randomly dropped all over the map. Also, downed players drop any loot they’ve collected for other players to pick up. Due to this, no two visits to the same location will offer the same weapons, health packs or shields. This keeps the game interesting and fresh.
After being killed, players can either spectate their opponents or join another game and start all over again against a whole new set of opponents
At the minute Fortnite is available on PC, PS4, XBox One and Apple Mac. Some IOS owners can already play it on their mobiles if they are signed up to the official Fortnite site and have received an invite. Once tests have been completed, Epic will be releasing the full mode and this will be available to Android users too. Currently, only users signed up to the site who are using iOS 11 on iPhone 6S/SE, iPad Mini 4, iPad Air 2, iPad 2017, iPad Pro devices or later are getting invites. There are some small differences on the mobile version: its not as visually impressive and the controls are touchscreen. Also a lot of audio cues have been made visual so that users can play in public without the need for headphones. On the whole though, the mobile version is much the same as the full version.
XBox One and PS4 owners can’t play the game together still, but users on these consoles can play with friends playing on PC and mobile devices. There is also cross-progression. So, if you’re logged into your Fortnite account on your mobile and you later log into your console to play, everything you did on your mobile earlier that day is carried over.
Should Parents be concerned
There has been numerous discussions in the media about whether or not parents should be concerned with the rise in popularity of Fortnite. There is a fear that it is highly addictive and desensitizes the user to violence. However, although the game does obviously involve violence and classic shooting game elements, unlike games such as Call of Duty, it doesn’t show any blood or gore and has cartoon style graphics.
Celebrities such as Drake and Travis Scott are massive Fortnite fans. They often tweet to inform their fans when they are streaming live, increasing interest in the game with their followers. Fortnite has also been discussed on popular television programmes, such as ‘Good Morning America’ and the UK’s ‘This Morning’. This kind of exposure is only going to help the popularity of the game.
As Fortnite is free to play, gamers can try it with no risk or financial outlay, which is obviously going to help improve its popularity. Epic are able to offer this because they are an established developer who make their money by selling their game engine, ‘Unreal’, to other companies. They also sell in-game items, such as cheap battle passes and skins, which creates even more interest in the game.
Epic have an entire team of people dedicated to expanding Fortnite and its in-game items. Various new locations were added to the world when the game was updated in January 2018. These changes included a motel, a big city and many unique habitats each with different environments. Just this month a new mode has arrived called ’20 vs 20 vs 20 vs 20 vs 20′, which allows a more clan style of attack. Constant improvements and changes keep Fortnite current and allow gamers to look forward to new experiences and stop boredom setting in.
This constant updating also allows the game to evolve with current popular culture and even somewhat impact on it. Football stars and rugby players are using moves from the game to celebrate scoring creating interest with young fans.
With all this considered, the future of Fortnite is looking bright and the rise of fortnite is set to continue.
The rise of Fortnite: 10 Cool gifts for Fortnite Fans:
The Red Dragon (Y Ddraig Goch) stands proudly with one foot raised on a green and white background. But why is there a dragon on the Welsh Flag? What does a mythical creature, like a dragon, have to do with Wales?
The red dragon has been associated with Wales for centuries and the Welsh flag is claimed to be one of the oldest national flags still in use. However, the appearance of the dragon has been adapted and changed over the years and there are several different versions in existence. The current version of the dragon on the Welsh flag was officially adopted in 1959. It is based on an old royal badge used by British kings and queens since Tudor times. But the real answer to why there is a dragon on the Welsh flag lies in Welsh mythology and history.
The ‘Draco’ Symbol:
One theory is that in the early fifth century, the Welsh kings of Aberffraw used the dragon to symbolise their power and strength after the Romans withdrew from Britain. The ‘draco’ (dragon) head, which was brought to Britain by the Romans, was used as an emblem as their standard in battle. The emblem remained strong within Welsh culture after the invasion due to the Romano-Britons that remained.
The Myth of Merlin:
However, there is another tale linking back to the fifth century that suggests another reason as to why there is a dragon on the Welsh flag. Vortigern, a fifth century war lord and king of the Britons at the time of the Saxon arrival, wanted to build a fort near Beddgelert. He came across many problems though and sought the help of Merlin, a powerful wizard. Merlin told him to dig down and create better foundations. On doing so, he found a red and a white dragon.
The two dragons rose up and began to fight, with the red dragon being victorius. Merlin explained to Vortigern that the white dragon represented the Saxons and the red dragon represented the Welsh. He told Vortigern that this was proof that one day the Welsh would push the Saxons out of Britain and from this point on, the red dragon became a symbol for Wales.
The Red Dragon of Cadwaladr:
The story of the warring red and white dragons, linked to the myth of Merlin, was also used during the ‘War of the Roses’ by various contenders as part of their claim to the throne.
As part of this story, Merlin predicted that the Saxons would be beat by the Celts if Cadwaladr (a future King of Gwynedd – AD 655 to 682) sacrifices his personal power for the sake of his people. By renouncing the throne, Merlin said it would eventually lead to the restoration of British control of the island in the future. Cadwaladr, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, heard this prophesy and did exactly that – renouncing the throne so that Merlin’s prediction could come true in the future.
And although Owain Glyndwr raised the dragon standard in 1400 as a symbol of revolt against the English Crown, the dragon was brought to England by Edward IV who used the tale of the dragon of Cadwaladr to claim the throne. He asserted that he would be restoring the authentic ancient lineage of Cadwaladr, thus fulfilling Merlin’s prophecy of the victory of the red dragon.
When this didn’t happen, the Tudors then claimed their descent from Cadwaladr to legitimise their authority over Britain, starting with Owen Tudor who carried a red dragon badge. Then when Henry Tudor landed in Wales in 1485, he adopted the red dragon flag and claimed to be returning in fulfilment of the prophesies of Merlin as recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth. After Henry VII’s victory at the Battle of Bosworth, he was greeted at the gates of Worcester with a poem asserting:
Cadwallader’s blood lineally descending, Long hath be told of such a prince coming. Wherefore friends, if that I shall not lie, This same is the fulfiller of the prophesy.
(Dobin, Howard, Merlin’s Disciples: Prophecy, Poetry, and Power in Renaissance England, Stanford University Press, 1990, p.51.)
The Welsh dragon was thereafter referred to as the “Red Dragon of Cadwallader” and used as Henry’s personal emblem. The House of Tudor continued to use this emblem as a nod to their Welsh dynasty and during Henry VIII’s reign the red dragon on a green and white background became a favourite emblem on Royal Navy ships.
The current Welsh Flag:
So the reason we have a red dragon on the Welsh flag links back to fifth century history and mythology and remains to this day a symbol of pride and strength. It still sits on top of the Tudor colours of green and white and today the flag can be seen flying from the Senedd in Cardiff and from the Wales Office in Whitehall, London each day.
The dragon on the Welsh flag is contunuously used by those in the arts, sport and business to show a sense of patriotism or recognition of Wales. For example, during the 1999 Rugby World Cup, which was hosted in Wales, the opening ceremony used the motif of the dragon several times. This patriotism has continued in both rugby and football international games with fans carrying huge Welsh Dragon flags to fly during the match.
In music, the flag is commonly flown by Welsh stars and was memorably worn on a dress by the Welsh singer Shirley Bassey. The singer Cerys Matthews also often adorned her clothes with pictures of the Welsh dragon. Other musicians to have used the flag, include Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers, who will often drape the Welsh flag over amps when playing live and classical singer Katherine Jenkins, who has taken the flag on stage during live performances all over the world.
The popularity of the dragon and the Welsh flag seems to be increasing with Welsh nationals refusing to let their relatively small country size and fairly unknown native tongue go unnoticed… and rightly so.
A range of beautiful Welsh Dragon gifts can be found here:
I had a good think about this and thought not only about what I would do with my spare room but what I think others might do. I had a look around at some ace designs (mostly on pinterest) and now I’m planning how to change my space.
It won’t necessarily be your spare bedroom though. Perhaps you’ve decided to have your house extended, or perhaps you’ve converted your loft and are wondering what to put in it. Whatever your circumstances, here are some of my favourite ideas for transforming that extra space.
Ok, so number one is the plain old guest room. This isn’t something that will give you much use though, except when someone comes over to stay. Personally, I’d stick an airbed on the floor, give them some pillows and a blanket, sorted. I’m kidding, If I had the room I’d have a guest room as well as something else.
Kids play room
If you’ve got kids, this would be the perfect place to send them if you want 5 minutes peace and quiet. Sure enough they’ll find something to argue about though eh? You could put a lovely little bookshelf full of their favourite stories, a toy box (self-explanatory), a ball pit perhaps? (Supervise at all times), a mat they can run their cars on, and maybe a wooden kitchen. For the older kids, a mini pool table, a TV and games console. Paint it white and accessorise is what I say, that way as they change their minds about what they like. You won’t have to go the whole shebang with paint brushes or wall paper.
I send mine into the loft, out of the way. But if you’ve got the room, why not create your very own layout. You can add trains, planes, cars and cranes. Little trees around little buildings. Or even just a bit of track laid out nicely simply to run the trains on. Perfect for adults and children of all ages. (But mainly the adults).
Fancy yourself a bit of a crafty genius. You could organise your bits and bobs and have your very own workshop. Add a workstation with storage underneath and lots of jars for your pens, pencils and scissors. Sounds perfect doesn’t it?
Now, if you want to be really boring (I joke), then set yourself up in your spare room. There are a lot of people out there who work from home, bloggers, designers, copywriters etc. So having somewhere you can work without being disturbed is a must. And of course it will take away the temptation to stick the TV on.
This is what my idea of heaven would look like. Books, books, books in a cosy little nook. Shelves on every wall filled with crime novels, fantasy, thrillers and even my childhood favourites. A cosy little chaise longue equipped with cushions and blankets. Not forgetting the mini fridge and tea making facilities. I’d be quite happy in there for the rest of my life, well at least until I’ve read all the books, or until I need to use the loo. But you get what I’m saying.
It can be expensive with all those monthly direct debits right? So why not fork out in the first place and get your home gym set up. Once it’s in, it’s in, no more monthly costs, but twice the benefit. You won’t have to travel and think how fun it would be to get the whole family involved. Maybe not.
Fill it with yoga mats, kettle bells, a trampette and maybe even a tread mill. Go the whole hog. After all, you want it to be yours right? If you’re feeling really adventurous, mini fridge filled with protein shakes and healthy snacks? Go on, you know you want to.
Walk in Wardrobe
Oh yes. What more of an excuse do we need to buy more shoes? Ikea is amazing for this sort of thing. Storage, not shoes. But I reckon you guessed that. You can use the extra space in your bedroom for other stuff then can’t you? A nice chair in the corner where you can stack all your clothes. We’ve all got one, we wash, dry and iron and they end up on that chair. Every time.
A living room is OK to watch your favourite movies I suppose. But a home cinema would be epic. Am I right? Star Wars marathon? Oh yes! Harry Potter marathon? No problem. Comfy chairs, dark curtains, popcorn and drink holders. Think of the costs you’d save long term too, especially if you’re a regular cinema goer.
Ladies, I’m talking to you. I mean come on. Dream come true? Personally I’d have a tea bar, because, well, my life revolves around tea. You could make it into any sort of bar though. Cocktails, real ale, wine, tea. Your options are endless.
The main thing is, you do what you feel is right. Perhaps a good old fashioned guest room is what you want. No fuss, and it would be useful. But if you feel like pushing the boat out, why not. Life’s too short.
See our full range of hanging signs by heading over to our Website.
How secure is your home? Go on, have a think about it….
I bet you’re thinking, actually, my house could be a bit more secure. I’ve got all those kids bikes in the garage, a load of tech in the living room. Oh and then there’s leaving the keys in the front door, and I don’t close all the windows if I’m out.
STOP RIGHT THERE
Does that sound familiar? Maybe, but there are some things you can do yourself to keep your home protected from thieves. But first, lets hear from burglars themselves.
What real burglars say (Express Newspapers, 2018)
In an article published on the express website, a number of ex burglars told of what would deter them from a potential target.
Little yappy dogs are scarier
One individual said that they were deterred by smaller dogs that barked a lot, rather than bigger dogs. So, little ankle biters are the best choice if you live in a neighbourhood that is prone to burglary. Jack Russel, Shih Tzu, or perhaps a Terrier. They have big personalities and are not scared of confronting anything.
Lights and TV’s don’t work
Leaving your TV on at 2am, at an obnoxiously loud volume with random lights on around the house will not always deter a burglar. This is what one individual said. So, you’re best off just leaving everything off. I mean, at night, you should be sleeping, right?
Lock away your valuables
When entering your home, there’s nothing better than seeing all your valuables scattered everywhere. Do yourself a favour and lock them away. Expensive jewellery, money boxes etc. Lock them all away.
Tech and other expensive things
Don’t leave your tablets, laptops, mobile phones etc. in view of the windows. Keep them out of the way. These items are all very attractive to burglars because they can make a quick sale out of them. Keep them in cupboards or drawers out of the way.
Signs to look out for
Police in Yorkshire have released a number of images of tell-tale signs your home may have been targeted by burglars (Express Newspapers, 2018). The Police are urging anyone who has seen any of these signs on any home to get in touch with them on 101.
This blog post aims to give you an idea about what to look out for, and how you can make sure your house is safe, sound and secure.
Look out for these signs. If you see any of these on your home, you have been targeted.
So what can you do to keep your home safe?
Facebook Check ins
How to keep your home secure. Social Media is the easiest way to show people that you’re having the best time ever away on holiday. But it may not be the best idea to do it while you’re away. Save all your photos for when you get home. It’s very easy for Facebook posts to be visible to potential burglars. Make sure your privacy settings are sorted. That way if you really need to share a photo only the people you want to see them, will.
Know your neighbours
Make friends with your neighbours. It’s very easy for us to be introverted when it comes to neighbours. They can be very helpful allies. You can tell them when you’re going away, and who should be at your house. They can report to you any unusual activity that may be happening while you’re away.
They don’t have to be expensive. There are such things as dummy cameras that you can put up as a deterrent. Though if you’re going to spend money on dummy ones, you might as well buy ones that record. If you have a lot of expensive items, it would be worth having them inside and out. As well as in garages and sheds.
Motion detection lights
Another potential deterrent. Lights that come on when something moves around can be good. Though the neighbour’s cat will be prone to setting them off. Light equals visibility, the perfect addition to a safe and secure home.
Of course locking your front door is a must. But what about your windows? Yes, lock all your windows at night and if you are out. In the summer it can get a bit hot I know. But most homes have windows that can be left “on the latch” so that you get a gentle breeze through the gap. A slightly open window can be very attractive to a burglar.
Outbuildings and roofs
Keep all your roofs secure and sealed. Conservatories with plastic roofs aren’t the best and are very easy to get through. Keep all of your sheds and garages locked and secure. Fix any broken windows or patchy woodwork.
Most of what I have mentioned is common sense. Don’t give burglars an excuse to get into your property keep all your valuables locked away. And a camera mightn’t be a bad idea.
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Buying a house is a massive step in a persons life, and it’s a huge investment. It’s only natural that you would want to spend as much time researching and finding out what to look out for when you do start viewing properties. That’s where we come in, here are 21 questions to ask when looking for a house to buy.
21 questions to ask when buying a house: Starting inside
1. Are there any signs of mould?
Mould can cause so many problems structurally but also for your health. Look for signs of water marks on the walls, bubbling wallpaper or paint and water marks in the ceiling. Mould is a problem which is hard to treat, don’t chance it.
2. Does the toilet flush?
Sounds like a ridiculous things to think about, but actually, one of the things you’re going to be using quite a lot is the loo. If it’s got a good flush, you shouldn’t have any problems with blocked drains. Though sometimes blocked drains just happen and it can’t be helped.
3. Is the boiler in good condition? Service certificates?
It might be worth bringing someone with you who is knowledgeable in the art of plumbing. A boiler may not look good, but if it’s works like a dream, you might be best to stick with it. A good indication of a decent boiler is record of servicing. We keep ours in a filing cabinet. Every single one past and present.
4. Does the heating work? Thermostat etc
It’s worth checking the heating while you’re there, check every individual radiator and of course check the thermostat works. Minor things but they can be costly to replace.
5. Are there any signs of pests?
Open up dishwashers and washing machines. And of course check the loft and any outbuildings for signs of rodents, wasp’s nests, and other critters that may be lurking around. It might be worth researching what to look for. With vermin, your biggest tell-tale sign would be droppings.
6. Is there enough storage space?
For me, storage is a must. Walk in wardrobes? Excellent, utility room? Great stuff. It all depends on your individual needs, so check it all out.
7. Are the rooms big enough?
Have you got girls that need to share a room? Have you got a lot of stuff? It’s worth gauging the size of the rooms in the house to make sure they fit everything you need. Bunk beds or single beds? Double or king? Chest of drawers? Visualise the space if you can.
8. Does the floor plan suit you?
This is a big one for me. I like a front room, a dining room, a kitchen and a conservatory with hall space and a stair case. And the same upstairs. I like to have plenty of room. Again, it’s up to you what you need, but bear this in mind as you look around.
9. Are there enough power points?
2 or 3 plug sockets in each bedroom? Excellent. One on the landing, and 3 in every other room. 4 or 5 in the kitchen for all your necessary appliances. Result. You can never have too many plug sockets. Especially with all the new tech that keeps cropping up.
21 questions to ask when buying a house: Now for structure
10. Are there any loose roof tiles? Could you afford to fix them if there is?
Not a cheap job if it does need doing, and a dangerous one too. If you’ve got a nice car on the drive, a gust of wind and your windscreen could be gone. Keep an eye out for loose tiles.
11. Does the drainage system work properly? Uncover the manholes
Have a look under the manholes on the drive. Ask someone to run the water in the house and flush the loo to see if everything is running smoothly. Plumbing can be expensive.
12. Is there an extraction fan? Does it work properly?
Nothing worse than foggy windows and condensation when you’re cooking your spring greens. An extraction fan should be in place. If there isn’t one, you might want to think again. But if you can afford to get one fitted, perhaps that’s just a minor setback.
13. Is the flue in a safe place?
There are laws surrounding the flue extraction, they must be high up. It’s worth doing some research into this. Best to be safe than sorry.
14. Is the water pressure good?
Good water pressure means you’ll have a decent shower. Lack of water pressure can be a right pain in the backside, especially when personal hygiene is concerned.
15. Is the loft in good condition? Could it be converted if you wanted to convert it?
Are all the beams intact, is there room for loft boards. Loft conversions can be a good investment for the future, especially if you plan on selling later on down the line or if you just need a bit of extra space.
16. Could you extend the house if you needed to?
Another good investment for the future. But equally good if you need a little bit more space. Of course you’ll have to get planning permission and look into it a bit further. Perhaps you could do this before hand.
17. How old are the windows and frames? Will they need replacing?
Do they look a bit dated, double glazing a bit worse for wear. They can be expensive to replace, but as long as they are in half decent condition, I’m sure they could wait a year or so.
18. Is there any condensation on the windows? Is it well insulated?
Condensation indicates good insulation but too much can cause a damp house. Ventilation is key. Windows that can be left on the latch to encourage air flow is a must.
21 questions to ask when buying a house: Lastly the exterior
19. Which way does the house face?
Sounds stupid, but you want a house that faces the sun. That way your winters won’t be as dark and cold and your summers will be glorious.
20. Is the garden a manageable size? Could you maintain it?
If you’re a single occupant, a large garden might not be right for you, but then again if you have a dog or two a large garden would be majorly beneficial. It’s all about what you can cope with. Can you cope with the lawn trimming, the weeding and sorting out the flower beds throughout the summer and into spring?
21. Is the garden secure? Important if you have a dog.
Definitely important. You don’t want to be chasing your dogs down the road every other day because they’ve escaped. Ensuring fences are well built and secure is a must. No holes and make sure the hinges on the gate are up to scratch.
How to clean your drive. Now the easy answer to this is, get a pressure washer and pressure wash the heck out of that drive. Because well, it’s quick, easy and fuss free. But the real world does exist, and not everyone can afford a swanky piece of machinery like this.
Don’t worry, there are other options out there. They will take longer to execute but that, is just the way the world works. Work hard and you will see results. Sometimes the easy way out isn’t necessarily the best. I mean, that stuff off the drive has to go somewhere right? Chances are it’ll end up on the lawn, on the road or all over your car. You’ll end up in a never ending cycle of washing the car washing the drive, washing the car, washing the drive. You’ll get really tired and give up.
How to clean your drive.My go-to cleaner for any type of oil, whether that’s engine oil or some sort of oil used in the kitchen, is baking soda. Baking soda is amazing for loads of stuff, but for oil, it’s like magic.
You will need to put enough on the oil stain to cover it, and then you’ll need to leave it for 15 to 30 minutes so it absorbs it completely. In an ideal world it will not be raining when you do this, so pick a decent day. Then simply wash it off with some hot water.
It’s not just baking soda that will work though. Any sort of laundry detergent, washing up liquid, or soap. They are all great for oil stains. But I will stand by baking soda for the rest of my days. So, use baking soda.
How to clean your drive. Moss can be a tough one. It really clings to the road, especially up against edging and what not, where it’s a bit darker.
My go to remedy for this is simply, soapy water and a rough yard brush. Soak the drive in the soapy water and brush the heck out of the drive. The harder the bristles, the better. They will get right into the grooves, Madonna style and clear that moss away good and proper. It would be worth investing in some treatment to stop it coming back too.
How to clean your drive. These things come up everywhere, don’t they? There is no stopping them, it’s like they have superpowers. Any crack in the road and they’re there! No way.
The best thing to do is get rid of them via the root. This isn’t always possible. Go around picking them out with your hands and then get some tough weed killer and spray it on. Try and get a weed killer that isn’t harmful to animals. We don’t want any poorly kitty cats do we?
#4 Snow and Ice
How to clean your drive. I have to include this one, because of the trouble we’ve had over the past few days! If you’ve been a victim of snow and ice then you need to do the following. Shovel all the snow off the drive using, well, a shovel. And in an ideal world you’ll have some grit salt. The grit will melt the ice underneath the snow.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you put water on a frozen drive.
Doing that will give you an ice rink, which will last forever.
They’ll literally be able to film the sequel to Frozen on it…
How to clean your drive. I know what you’re thinking.
“Why has she included ants in this post.”
Well guys, ants are a pest, and I wholeheartedly believe that they should be included in this post. That’s why!
“Yeah, but it’s winter.”
Ants don’t care about seasons, they aren’t nice people. So, best way to clear ants from your drive, or anywhere outside, is poor boiling water into the nest. They will run away in their thousands. Eeeeh I’m getting all tingly just thinking about them, horrible things!
So, cleaning your drive, I reckon you are more prepared than ever to take on this arduous task. You’ll have to let us know how you get on!
House numbers for the emergency services. I’ve written a lot about the importance of a house name or number for the purposes of kerb appeal. But house numbers are especially important for another reason. Locating you in an emergency.
So, there may come a time (and I hope that that time never arrives) when you need the emergency services, whether that’s the fire service, ambulance or police, they need to know where you are so they can get to you quickly and assist you.
When you call 999, firstly they will ask you which service you require and they will proceed to put you through to the one you need.
They will ask you for your house number or name and your postcode and they will direct the nearest available unit to you as quickly as they can.
But what use is it if they can’t locate you because of something as simple as your house number being invisible?
So, there are a few things to consider when making your house number/nameplate visible.
Firstly, the size of it.
There is no point in having a tiny little number/name that you can only see when you walk up to the front door. You need to have a number/name that is clearly visible from the road. If you have a drive leading up to your front door then it’s going to be even more difficult to see if it’s not big enough. It should be big, bold and prominent. Nobody can complain that they can’t see you then can they?
Next, consider lighting
How about an LED house sign/number? These will be illuminated for all to see. Even Santa wont miss you with one of these. If an LED sign isn’t quite what you want, how about installing a security light or perhaps a porch light. These will help boost your kerb appeal, whilst also making you more visible to those who need to find you.
What about location?
I’m not talking about GPS here. I’m talking about where exactly you should be hanging your number or sign. There’s no point having it in the back garden. No one will see it. The best place to hang your house sign is somewhere level with the eye near the front door, ideally. If you live on a lane, or you have a long drive, it would be ideal to have a numbered letter box, or a place to hang a sign at the end of the drive. If it’s large enough, mount it, on two wooden posts that have been secured into the ground with no risk of falling over.
Another way to make your house number or name stand out is to make use of bold colours. Contrasting colours would work even better. It’s all about making yourself visible. Acrylic is an excellent material for this sort of sign as the vinyl used comes in all sorts of colours.
So, don’t put yourself at risk of being missed. Make sure;
You replace faded numbers
You trim overgrown shrubs, trees and bushes that may obstruct visibility.
Your number/name is visible from the road.
It is eye level somewhere near your front door.
You have some sort of lighting.
If you live on a lane, make sure your number or name is marked clearly on a letterbox, post or wall.
In a medical emergency, every second counts. It can literally be a life or death situation.
So, it’s not just the emergency services that will benefit from a visible house name or number. Say you’ve moved house, and you’ve got visitors coming from here, there and everywhere. Chances are, a handful of them will get lost, even with today’s GPS capabilities. I know I’ve been taken around in circles by mine.
Technology, it’s great when it works.
Builders, electric meter readers, the gas board, and the pizza guy will all need to get to you. I mean, come on, pizza is a major part of my life. If I was deprived because of my house number, I’d be devastated. And no one likes cold pizza.
Anyway. I can’t stress the importance of being visible to the emergency services who work tirelessly to save lives every day. I could joke about it until the cows come home but seriously, help make their job easier by getting your front of house sorted.