Monthly Archives

March 2018

Lifestyle

Maximising Your Spare Time

March 29, 2018

Although we might think that our weekends fly over, with a little time management you can maximise your spare time and do something new! The Waterfront Hotel, host of spa days in Bedfordshire, tell us more:

How many spare hours do you have at the end of the week?

You might have more hours spare at the weekend than you think. Let’s say you wake up at 9am on the weekend (give yourself a lie-in), and go to bed at 11pm, that’s 14 hours a day that you have to play with. Take three hours each day off for meal time, and two hours per day for seeing family and friends and you’re left with 18 hours.

Expand your language skills

Why not learn the language of your favourite destination? Benny Lewis, author of Fluent in 3 Months and fluent speaker of seven languages, estimates that it can take around 400-600 hours to be a proficient speaker at B2 level. This is where you can express yourself on a range of topics and would have the ability to show someone around an area and give detailed descriptions in the new language.

If you wanted to learn for 500 hours to reach B2, how long would this take? If you spent eight out of your free 14 hours perfecting the new skill (any more than this could be too intense). This would take you 62.5 weeks — are you up to the challenge?

Be active!

If you like running, why not push yourself and practise for a half-marathon? Experts advise that you should be training at least three times a week. So, if you can fit a training session in mid-week, you could be well on your way! Runner’s World suggest that 15 weeks is sufficient to train for the 13.1-mile race — what’re you waiting for?

Walking can be beneficial too. It depends on your weight and distance of the walk on how many calories you burn. For a person who weighs 130 pounds (9.3 stone) an hour walk at a moderate pace burns 120-140 calories per hour. If you spent four of your 14 spare hours walking the dog or heading out to the countryside, you could burn 520 calories on your days off!

Take to the slopes and learn to ski! There are many dry slopes in the UK that offer ski lessons. UK indoor ski slope, The Snow Centre, say that to achieve a ‘good’ level of skiing (be able to venture down advanced steeps on the mountain) you need to complete five of their two-hour lessons and two of their two-hour coaching sessions. If you spend five weekends completing two-hour lessons and two weeks on the coaching sessions, you’ll be ready to hit the slopes after seven weeks!

If you’d rather relax, you can still burn some calories. If you have a swim and sauna session for an hour a day on the weekend you can still improve your fitness and wellbeing levels. One 30-minute sauna session can lead you to burn as much as 300 calories! And a 30-minute swim can burn 295 calories.

Take your driving test

Some people choose not to drive for a range of reasons. But, being able to get behind the wheel can have some benefits. You can look for jobs further afield, venture on driving holidays and visit family and friends that don’t live close by. With a full-time job though, driving can be difficult. How long would it take if you used your weekends to pass your test?

The Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) say that it takes around 45 hours of learning to pass a driving test. With a non-intensive driving instructor, it’s likely that you’ll be able to take 2-hour lessons. The DVSA also advise that you should spend 20 hours revising for your theory test to ensure that you’re fully prepared. That’s 65 hours in total before you’re a fully-fledged driver!

Taking four hours of lessons a week could mean that you’re ready for your test in 3 months. For ten of these weeks, you should spend an hour per weekend day revising for your theory.

Take up learning an instrument

There’s still time to learn that instrument you’ve always wanted to play. Not only can you impress your friends with your new ability, but you can use it as a way to de-stress and improve your concentration skills. Suppliers of guitar lessons, Hub Guitar, have suggested that it takes around 312.5 to play at beginner level. This is where you have ‘an expanded grasp of fundamentals, and can play several pieces, albeit imperfectly’. Spending eight of your free 18 hours per week could lead you to reach this level in 40 weeks.

Anything else?

There are a range of things you could do with your weekends. You could learn to cook, take up photography or even write a novel! Start being proactive and make the most of your weekends.

Sources

https://www.fluentin3months.com/hours-to-learn-a-language/

https://www.ingenie.com/young-drivers-guide/10-tips-on-how-to-pass-your-theory-test

http://www.bbc.co.uk/consumer/27611093

https://www.runnersworld.com/getting-started/half-marathon-training-for-beginners

https://www.thesnowcentre.com/snowsure/news/howlongdoesittaketogetgoodatskiing

https://www.active.com/triathlon/articles/how-many-calories-does-swimming-burn

 

Lifestyle

Cool and Creative Items That You Can Make From Paper

March 28, 2018

Creating something new brings the humans a great amount of joy. The joy of creativity is immense, and everyone can feel the pleasure after a new creation. The joy can be felt or experienced by having a look at the person’s face after they complete a creative feat. Success, in the end, brings them the innermost happiness and makes them feel confident about their capabilities. If you have the creative bent of mind and have a seeming amount of patience, then there is nothing that can prevent you from making cool and creative pieces using as simple an item as paper. To give a new shape and design to your ideas, you need to think and develop the skill of putting the right fold and giving the scissors the right cut.

You can develop your own ideas, or you can join the institutions just to spend some time to learn some new and creative activity. A lot of creative people with an aesthetic mindset have highly attractive artifacts in their homes that are made out of waste paper or old newspapers. The art of origami is very popular, and you can learn a lot of tactics very easily, such as how to make paper claws, flowers, boxes, and so on.  

Different unique creations from paper 

You would love to know about the variety of items that can be made out of paper.  

  • Summer Snack Trays
  • Paper Plants
  • Paper Cone Garland
  • Paper Hat
  • Folded Paper Backdrop
  • Paper Chandeliers
  • Paper Lanterns
  • Halloween Paper Spider
  • Paper Bracelet
  • Paper Wedding Bouquet
  • Paper Frog
  • Origami Crane and more.

Making these and loads of other creative items is not a problem at all. As far as the techniques for making these works of art are concerned, they include folding of the paper and cutting it carefully, followed by pasting. If you are keen on learning, then you can easily adopt the techniques rather fast and easily.

The raw materials involved

The professional origami artists are often driven by their professional style. They often claim to use loads of raw materials while crafting something from paper. Some of the basic materials include a paper of all types, a pair of scissors, gum or adhesive, shiny mica dust, and balls of polystyrene. Though the last couple of items in the list are purely used for decoration, the first few are essential for making creative works out of paper. Remember, you can use any type of paper for craftwork. You can even use old newspapers that you think are fit for disposal to the scrap buyers. When such waste gives rise to a beautiful creation, the creator would definitely feel immense satisfaction!

While crafting out of paper, you just need to be creative and have faith in yourself to bring out the best in you. You can come out in flying colors, and that can make everyone amazed at your creativity. Adding colors and giving the desired finishing to the products is just a formality that you can do anytime and any moment.  

Technology

How the advancements in technology have influenced our buses

March 25, 2018

Technology has helped us change the way we use our buses. With a constant growth in our population, it has enhanced the commuting experience and allowed services to become more efficient. With 4.44 billion journeys in England alone throughout 2016/17, there has been a demand to make commuting an easier process — and the advancements in technology have allowed this to happen.

How far have buses developed?

It’s important to put things into perspective, because to understand the advances in technology, we must reflect on the history of buses. To do this, we’ve teamed up with the Oxford Tube, a coach to London, to take a look at how advanced our public transport has become over time.

The Beginning: Steam Buses

Walter Hancock pioneered a change that would be revolutionary in years to come, after introducing steam buses in England during the 1830s. These were much more efficient to what was known before — horse-drawn transportation. A common problem with horse-drawn carriages was that they often overturned, but this was a problem that steam buses did not have to face. Steam buses travelled faster and were much cheaper to run. They also reduced the amount of damage caused on the roads.

However, what you may have been unaware of is that, even though these vehicles were very efficient, tolls from the government and harsh legislation eliminated mechanically propelled vehicles for 30 years.

The Middle: Trolleybuses

Powered by the famous trolley pole was electric buses that made an entrance in 1882 — disadvantaging the motor from flexibility due to the overhead wire. William Siemen, who was based in England and his brother Werner, who lived in Germany, collaborated on the creation. Electric currents were able to run to the tram-car and back again, highlighting that tracks would no longer need to be used.

However, although they were introduced in 1882, they weren’t used in Britain until 1911 after Leeds and Bradford adopted the transportation methods.

Before the Peak: Motor Buses

In 1898, London introduced one of the first motors which was a double-decker bus with an open-air section. The bus had a maximum speed of 18kph and could hold 20 passengers at a time. With huge popularity, and requests from across Europe to have similar transportation vehicles, in 1902, a market standard was made available.

Around 3,000 B-Type double decker buses were introduced and distributed around Britain in 1910 — becoming one of the first of its kind.

What do buses look like now?

Even since 1920, single and double-decker buses were fuelled by a diesel engine and are still transiting this way today. If electric buses are on our roads, they’re no longer powered by overhead wires and usually contain their own battery supply, which is often rechargeable at different stations.

Earlier in time, buses were once high-floor vehicles. However, a low-floor design has been introduced to help with air suspension. Another benefit to having low-floor buses is that electric, under-floor ramps can provide access to wheelchair users and those who have pushchairs. Before such technology was introduced, wheelchair and pushchair users would have to use community transport that was provided locally — a separate vehicle fit for their needs.

With advancements in technology allowing us to implement more features, we have used this to our advantage on public transport. For example, we now have an online system where drivers can use a touch-screen to calculate and print ticket prices, making travelling more efficient. These machines do not require a costly wireless network, as they are usually connected by a low-cost general pocket radio service that enables them to function.

What once was an impossible thought, public transport providers are now able to monitor transactions as well as the bus’s motion itself. This also includes a two-way driver messaging system and delivery of online card top-ups, ensuring that everything is achieved in a timely manner.

Scanners have been introduced on buses, allowing smartphones or multi-trip tickets to be detected to grant access and notify drivers. The scanner has the ability to read the ticket and determine whether it is still valid or not — instantly granting access and notifying the driver.

As more banks are introducing contactless payments which allow users to tap their card and pay almost instantly — buses are also implementing this feature, creating a quicker process for all.

Additionally, more services are releasing apps that allow commuters to register an account and purchase tickets that way which can then be presented to the driver — as most buses are introducing free Wi-Fi , they can use this to surf the app. Not only is this useful for the app itself, but for people to browse the internet on their journey.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus#History

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paratransit#Outside_North_America

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/666759/annual-bus-statistics-year-ending-march-2017.pdf

http://www.ticketer.co.uk/

Travel

Motorhome Hotspots to Visit

March 19, 2018

What is your attitude towards a staycation? Do you take to the air and holiday on foreign soil, or do you prefer to embrace the beauty of Britain? As we witness the rise of the staycation for a lot of Brits, motorhome and campervan owners are way ahead of the game. They’ve been doing it for years. It’s an opportunity to take your ‘home’ on wheels to any location you wish – and the beauty of it? You aren’t squashed into a small tent with the rest of your family, and if it rains…it doesn’t matter because you have a roof over your head.

Owners of motorhomes and caravans have the free run of the road, and they aren’t restricting to just holidaying on home soil. You can enjoy the open road and take your wheels all over the world – and with the latest VW Trailer Assist, it’s never been easier. Manoeuvring with a trailer no longer has to be a test of your patience. Instead, allow the Trailer Assist system to do the work for you. As long as you set the system up by selecting reverse gear, press the parking aid button and use the mirror adjustment switch to set the direction in which the trailer should be steered – your car will now steer automatically while you just need to take care of changing gear, accelerating and braking. It’s as simple as that.

With so many great places in the UK, and abroad, how do you decide where to visit and set up camp with your little home on wheels? Just as motorhomes range from basic campervans and trailers to those RVs that are so fancy they give us weep-inducing envy, so do motorhome campsites – from basic wild camping sites and family holiday parks to swish sites with pools or hot tubs, and sites settled into or next to forests, mountains, beaches and lakes. VW dealership, Vindis explore what’s available:

Fields End Water Caravan Park, Lodges & Fishery

Looking for adults only? Looking for luxury? Looking for relaxation? Well Fields End Water is the camp site for you – this five-star rated, adults-only campsite is located in the heart of Cambridgeshire, offering 59 touring pitches, 14 tent pitches and six luxury self-catering lodges equipped with hot tubs. For the fishing enthusiasts, there are two on-site fishing lakes to enjoy, with guaranteed peace and quiet thanks to their adults-only policy. Dogs are very much welcome, with plenty of expansive Fenland countryside to enjoy all year round.

For those of you travelling with a larger caravan or RV, rest assured as this camp also offer extra-large pitches to accommodate you. You are guaranteed a relaxing stay on this site as you explore Cambridgeshire.

Ocean Lakes Family Campground

Take a trip of a lifetime and enjoy the open road on an American road trip stopping at the winner of ‘RV Park of the Year’, ranking in the top 1% of campground in America. Ocean Lakes is pretty impressive! And there’s no surprise why. It’s situated on the oceanfront in South Carolina, USA. Stretching across one mile of oceanfront, you can camp here all year round.

Take no risks, and reserve your pitch up to 18 months in advance of your trip. With plenty of activities on offer, it’s fair to say your kids won’t be bored. From basketball and volleyball to horseshoes and outdoor pools – the activities are endless.

And where do we start with the local area – the to-do list is almost endless. The local area offers national award-winning shows, more than 100 golf courses, and is home to Brookgreen Gardens — named one of the top 10 public gardens in America. It’s definitely worth taking a trip in your RV down to South Carolina.

Hendra Holiday Park

Take a family trip this summer and visit Hendra Holiday Park situated in the Newquay, the heart of Cornwall. There is something fun for everyone. Surrounded by countryside and only minutes away from the beach, the park has 500 touring pitches, 500 tent pitches and 320 holiday homes available for hire. You’ll also be pleased to hear that their toilet block facilities for campers have been awarded the ‘5* Loo of the Year’ award each year.

The top toilets aren’t the only impressive facilities on this holiday park. The park has soft plays, a pool complex, full entertainment both indoor and outdoor for all weathers, and several bars and restaurants. That’s just whilst on site too – the countryside and beaches offer even more fun for all the family.

Campsite Naturista ‘El Portús’

If a holiday to you needs to include sun, sea and sand, then take a trip to the Spanish region of Murcia, and visit Campsite Naturista ‘El Portús’ – a campsite that defines Spanish culture and looks out onto blue seas and clifftops. With over 350 touring pitches available, there is also 60 permanent pitches up for grabs and 80 accommodation units for hire.

Take a dip in the outdoor or indoor pool with the family, or enjoy the available wi-fi. There are snack bars, a pizzeria and a restaurant on site so you can take a break from any cooking duties on your trip.

If the sea and sand are high priorities then you’ll be pleased to know that the local beach is just minutes away, where there are plenty of activities on your doorstep to enjoy with your children — from windsurfing to waterskiing, you can make the most of having the sea within walking distance.

So where will you holiday this year? With so much on offer, this is just a snippet of what’s available out there for motorhome owners. When looking for your next vacation spot, narrow your search down to your requirements to ensure you get the best site for your needs. Whether it’s child friendly, adult only or super luxurious, there will be the perfect site out there for you to visit – and don’t be afraid to venture across the ocean and enjoy the open road on foreign soil.

Lifestyle

Ways To Manage Chronic Health Conditions

March 17, 2018

It’s absolutely crucial that you manage any chronic health conditions if you’re going to enjoy life as best as you can. These debilitating conditions can put extreme strain on your day-to-day living, so being able to control it only stands to benefit you and those around you. If you’re living with a painful chronic condition, then you’ll understand just how overwhelming and disheartening it can be. When you’re in pain, you struggle to find enjoyment in life’s pleasures so you should be doing your very best to alleviate the pain and restraints of health conditions and ailments.

Track Your Pain

Unfortunately, chronic health conditions often come hand-in-hand with pain, inflammation, and discomfort, so doing something about this is going to help you manage how your health conditions affect your day-to-day life. While you’re probably an old hand at keeping your medication topped up throughout the day before your pain relief wears off, the use of a handy app like Pain Scale allows you to keep track of the pain you feel through the day. It allows you to then review your symptoms and also you can use it to show your doctors. This allows your physician to see and interpret a more detailed and reliable source of information and they can be in a more well-informed position to decide upon further treatment should you need to have your pain medication either increased or decreased.

Avoid Alcohol

Drinking alcohol makes it harder to get a good night’s sleep. When you have consumed alcohol, your brain and body are disturbed as it tries to metabolize the poison in your system. Alcohol is a known depressant and can affect how you feel, so if you’re suffering from a painful and debilitating condition already, adding alcohol into the mix is going to affect how you feel in the long run drastically. If you’re using alcohol to self-medicate, then you need to review this avenue and aim to manage your chronic health conditions more naturally.

Natural Highs

Manage your chronic pain conditions by engaging in activities that make you feel happy and work to reduce stress. If you’re able to, try to get active for at least thirty minutes a day. Physical activity stimulates the release of what we colloquially refer to as “happy hormones,” and these are endorphins. Endorphins help you to feel happier, and in turn, this reduces pain and stress. Exercise also helps you keep your weight down which reduces the risk of further health complications like heart disease, and type II diabetes.

Don’t Skip Appointments

The long and short of it is that your doctor and medical health professionals are going to know more about the treatment of your condition than yourself. Although it is you living with the chronic ailment which can feel confusing and alienating, your physician can help you to think that you’re alone and not believe you’re a lost cause. Be careful not to skip appointments as new drugs and treatments are being continuously developed to help ease the pain and difficulties associated with chronic pain conditions.

Lifestyle

New to Photojournalism? These Tips Will Help You Get Published Online

March 12, 2018

One of the most amazing things about the Internet is in having the ability to reach millions of people to share our passions. Perhaps you love animals and have made it your life’s work to travel around seeking out endangered species to help promote an awareness of what we can do to protect their habitats. Or, perhaps you simply love to travel and would like to share the places you’ve been, the interesting sights you’ve seen and some of the amazing people you have met on your journeys.

Blogging is one way to do it, but as the old saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words because it captures authentic emotions and you want others to see what you are feeling. However, you haven’t the first clue on how to get started as a photojournalist. You don’t know how to begin getting these photos you are passionate about published online. These tips should help.

1. A Really Good Camera Is an Absolute MUST

There is a difference between snapping a shot to put on your social media pages and taking outstanding, crystal-clear images for your photo journal. You may get published on a low-ranking site, but if you want to get published on a site to gain recognition in your industry, a really good camera is an absolute must-have. Check out sites like bestcamerasforthemoney.com to find an affordable starter camera of good quality and also check out a variety of lenses you’ll need at the same time.

2. Research Sites of Authority in Your Niche

If you are looking to become a professional photojournalist, you want to get published on sites of authority. These will help you gain instant recognition in the industry, and from there, other high-ranking sites will be eager to publish your work as well. Bear in mind that some sites may offer to buy the rights to your photo journal, and that will add to your credibility as a photojournalist.

3. Let Your Passion Shine Through

Some people naturally have what it takes to be a successful photojournalist. They are passionate about life and those pictures they publish inspire others to passion as well. Let your passion tell the story, but also your words are important. Don’t forget that you need to use strategic keywords if you want to get published online because this is how searchers will find your work. Read, re-read, and edit your work until it is grammatically correct and highly engaging. If your pictures are great but your story is lacking, you may never get published. Those photos are important, but so too are the descriptions you use to document what viewers are seeing.

It takes time, effort, and patience, but if you shoot high-quality pictures from a professional camera, your chances are good. They are even better if you learn the art of writing informative and engaging corresponding content, but perhaps the key element is your passion. Get the angle and exposures needed to capture what you are feeling and you will draw your viewers into the picture you want them to see. Every picture tells a story and that’s what you need to remember.

Lifestyle

Step-by-Step Guide to Beautifying Your Home’s Exterior

March 8, 2018

There are so many good reasons to give your home a facelift; whether you’re fed up with its current state, looking for a new style, or preparing to sell up and move out, revitalising the outside of your home can make everything else feel brand new. There’s always plenty of focus on how to bring life back to the interior since that’s where you spend most of your time, but the outside of your home deserves some love too! Here are some useful tips to help you spruce up your home’s exterior and make it feel fresh again.

One: Tend the Lawn

It’s easy enough to pass over your lawn occasionally with the mower, but if you want to truly uplift the entire look of your home, you should consider putting some proper effort into the appearance of your front yard. Not only will doing so make your house look more attractive, but it will also help to add something special to your neighbourhood. Maybe you’ll even encourage those who live nearby to start joining in and making their own yards flourish. The sight of an entire street with lush, colourful lawns makes everything seem brighter. Do some research and find out about the types of plants that thrive in your local climate as peculiar healthy plants are much more beautiful than conventional yet sickly ones.

Two: Mend or Replace

Sometimes all that stands between you and your goals is a restrictive budget. If you can’t afford to spend lots of money on home renewal and renovation, there are ways of tweaking what you already have without sinking all your savings into it. Small changes can make a surprisingly big difference, so take a good look at your home’s exterior and pinpoint one or two of the most pressing things that you’d like to change. One surefire way of quickly brightening up the appearance of any building is to replace the windows. Timber Windows Direct has a great selection to add a touch of flair to your home without distracting from your own style. If your cladding is starting to fade, stain or fall off, you should patch it up or strip it and redo it. However, it’s best to find a professional to complete one quality job rather than try to fix everything all at once yourself. Make sure to have your priorities straight.

Three: Keep on Top

It’s all very well planting beautiful flowers and installing bright new windows, but if you don’t maintain them or take proper care of them, then you’ll end up back where you started – with a home in need of a facelift. Don’t waste your own time and effort by letting all your hard work fall by the wayside. If you don’t think you can keep up with the different needs of all sorts of plant life or brickwork that needs cleaning regularly, then opt for something lower maintenance. This will help to add value to your home and make it feel like a whole new place for years to come.

Lifestyle

The Impact of Lifestyle on Depression

March 1, 2018

Depression and anxiety disorders are two of the most common mental health problems in our modern society and although stress, medical conditions, traumatic incidents and abuse are usually the primary reasons, the impact of one’s lifestyle on any of those factors and the disease itself is of no less consequence. Let’s now try and understand the effect that our lifestyles can have in both bringing about and worsening the symptoms of depression.

Inactivity

The more inactive your lifestyle is, the higher your chances of developing a depressive disorder. This means that if you spend your entire day in either an office/cubicle or inside your home, without getting even 15 – 20 minutes of dedicated exercise time, the onset of depression is more than likely. On the other hand, if you already have depression, an inactive lifestyle will not only make it worse but will make it even more difficult to get out of the habit and start an active life. The simple act of walking 15 – 30 minutes every day can help anyone get out of an inactive lifestyle without pushing it too hard right from the start.

Substance Abuse

It could be something as major as cocaine or heroin, or it could be something as common as the socially accepted act of drinking; as long as someone leads a lifestyle that consists of abusing an addictive substance, depression is an unavoidable side-effect. Not only can drugs and alcohol directly contribute to depression by disturbing the chemical and hormonal balance in our systems, but they contribute to other causes of depression as well, such as stress, anxiety, and medical conditions.

Bad Diet

Lack of exercise and a bad diet doesn’t only make people gain more weight; they contribute to depression as well. GMOs, dairy products, excess gluten and refined sugar has been associated with depression either directly or indirectly. However, eating insufficiently can become an even worse cause of depression because the unavailability of the nutrients which the body needs to function on a daily basis will inevitably lead to mood swings and other behavioral disorders. This is why it is important to eat healthily instead of eating less.

Leading an Unwanted Life

This one is a bit more complicated to discuss than others because it varies widely from person to person. The basic idea is that if you are leading a lifestyle that mostly consists of activities that you do not enjoy, it may and probably will cause depression. The key is in figuring out what you don’t like first and then in working towards replacing at least some of those parts of your life with things that you do like. For example, if you like trekking, just go for small treks on the weekends to refresh your mind and body. Even the simple act of taking some time out for yourself and enjoying a bit of peace and quiet every now and then can provide us with the energy that is necessary to face old problems with a new perspective.

The effects of depression are not only psychological but can lead to multiple physical issues and changes as well. In fact, according to a recent article on CapitalWired.com, untreated depression can actually end up rewiring the brain’s thinking processes and some of the cognitive functions, if given enough time.

Therefore, it is imperative that you make all the necessary changes in your lifestyle to eliminate any lifestyle-related causes of depression from the equation altogether.

Got any more tips? Let us know in the comments.