Category Archives: General

Summer May Be Coming to an End: Things to Look Forward to in Autumn

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The air is starting to feel crisper and the leaves are beginning to tumble from the trees which can only mean one thing: autumn is on its way! Summer is coming to an end with sunnier days feeling a little cooler, so now is the perfect time to start planning for next season. Summer holidays may be filled with trips to the beach, hazy and hedonistic music festivals and sunny weekends away, but autumn can bring even more fun as the coming months are filled with exciting events across the country. You may find the beach a bit too cold, so instead swap that for a picnic in a park to admire the leaves changing and falling. Go for long walks through forests, fields and national parks to make the most of the autumnal colours and fresh breezes. Don’t let the lack of sun dash your hopes for an amazing autumn.

BFI London Film Festival

This year is the 61st BFI London Film Festival and it hasn’t lost its momentum even after all this time. There will be film events across London throughout the first two weeks of august with a number of world premieres and film competitions. If you want to escape the cold weather, grab yourself a ticket to one of the critically acclaimed films set to be screened during the festival.

4th -15th October, London (various locations)

Dursley Walking Festival

Dursley in Gloucestershire is a beautiful hilly location in the south Cotswolds. It is the perfect getaway to escape city life and is even more idyllic if you love going on long countrywalks. In October the market town offers up a walking festival in a gorgeous location. You can take a short 2 mile photography walk to experience some stunning woodland whilst local photographer Tim Taphouse gives you tips on capturing the perfect picture. Whether you’re a novice or experienced, this walk is for all photography lovers. If you’re seeking more of a challenge and want to really stretch your legs you can take a 14 mile walk through Lantern Way which includes hikes and some climbs through beautiful rural surroundings. You’ll even be rewarded a certificate on completion, and runners are welcome too.

5th – 8th October, Dursley

Oktoberfest

Nothing warms you up on a cool autumn day like a few pints of Germany’s finest beer. Throw in some hot bratwurst, some music and great friends and you’ve got an excellent weekend planned! Oktoberfest will be taking over venues across the UK throughout October, so no matter where you are there’s bound to be a festival on near you. The locations include Huddersfield, Preston, Derby, Weston-Super-Mare, Maidstone, Newport, Darlington, Rotherham, Ipswich, Boston, Middlesbrough, Bradford and Hemel Hempstead. Drink steins filled with authentic delicious German beer while enjoying the Oompa band and chowing down on pretzels and schnitzels.

6th – 28th October, across the UK

Southport Comedy Festival

Missed the Edinburgh fringe this summer? Don’t fret because the humour doesn’t stop there. Southport offers its annual comedy festival in October to keep you tickled through autumn. Theatres, hotels and rugby clubs across Southport will be hosting some of the country’s funniest talent, so you can laugh away your autumn evenings. You can catch some of the best comedians the UK and overseas, from Jason Manford to Jason Byrne, and Rich Hall to Jo Caulfield.

7th – 22nd October, Southport (various locations)

Callander Jazz and Blues Festival

Scotland’s biggest jazz and blues festival is back this autumn in the picturesque Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The weekend-long festival is home to some of the UK’s most popular jazz and blues solo artists and big bands. You can expect to see the likes of The Revolutionaries, The Kyla Brox Band, The Andy Taylor Group and The Deke McGee Band.

29th September – 1st October, Callander

Lancaster Music Festival

For a fun-filled, musical long weekend, head to Lancaster to keep the summer festival vibes buzzing across the seasons. The acts have yet to be announced, but the festival has had nine years of solid musicians playing so you can expect it’ll be another great year. The festival celebrates the diversity of Lancaster’s music scene and is complete with a camp site at Lancaster Cricket Club for the full festival feel.

12th – 16th October, Lancaster

Hertford Food and Drink Festival

Calling all foodies: this food and drink festival is where you need to spend this particular weekend in autumn. There are a range of cookery classes to partake in in local restaurants, numerous farmers markets to pick up fresh goods, live cookery demos and food stalls. You can even spot a few celebrity chefs showing everyone how it’s done! On the last day of the festival there is the Herford Castle beer and World Food festival where you can enjoy a variety of local and national beers and ales, some delicious grub, entry to the castle and some live music.

6th – 8th October, Hertford

How to Embed Fitness into Your Busy Lifestyle

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Getting fit can sometimes feel like a struggle, especially with a jam-packed schedule and lots of commitments. So how can you squeeze in an exercise regime when you have a job, perhaps a family and time-consuming social obligations? There are ways to get fit, even with limited time. You just need a plan and some determination!

 

Take the stairs

A simple way of slipping in some exercise to your daily routine is to skip the lift and take the stairs. It might only be a small change to your day at work, but if you are taking the stairs several times a day, you will start to feel less out of breath over time when running up a few flights of stairs. This daily swap will have a bigger effect on your fitness levels than you might predict.

 

Get up early

If you have a family to take care of or a job to commute to, it can feel like there’s no time left in the day to workout. Your mornings are already super busy with no free time to fit in a run around the park. If you can’t find any time in your current routine, you could try waking up a little earlier to commit to an early morning workout. Even just 30 minutes earlier could allow you to fit in a workout DVD or yoga routine.

 

Prepare your meals in advance

If you’re looking to get fit, it’s likely that you will be considering your diet too. It can be difficult to find the time to cook healthy meals, so some planning ahead of time could be beneficial. By preparing your meals at the beginning of the week, you can take healthy lunches into work so you’re not tempted by fast food options or anything from the vending machine. You could make a big, healthy one-pot dish, then split it between Tupperware boxes, placing them in the fridge ready for the week.

Find a fitness plan you love

Some people love running, others hate the monotony. Many find kick-boxing cathartic, while other people enjoy the calmer routine of yoga. If you want to make fitness a key part of your life, you should find a type of exercise that you enjoy, so you’re more willing to do it often and less likely to see exercise as a chore. Try a few different types of exercise to see which fitness routine you find the most enjoyable.

 

Choose a workout video over scheduled classes

If you don’t have time to attend a fitness class, or you can’t find the time (or the babysitters!) to go to the gym, you can bring exercise to your home. There are plenty of reliable workout DVDs available to buy, so you don’t even have to leave your living room to get into a fitness routine. As an alternative, there are also a wide selection of workout videos available on YouTube, so not only do you not need to leave your house to workout, you also don’t need to spend a penny.


Do basic exercise stretches at your desk

During the day, you might feel a little stiff from sitting at a desk for long periods of time. This can make exercise more of a challenge if your body is tired. To combat this, you can do gentle stretches at your desk, to ensure that the blood is flowing round your body and helping you stay relatively active. Try and do some of your work standing up, and aim to walk around the office as often as possible.

 

Keep track of your daily steps

If you can’t make it to the gym or a fitness class, you can squeeze some frequent movement into your day. You can download apps or use wearable fitness technology to track your steps every day. You can give yourself a goal amount of daily steps, then you keep track of them at work and on your commute. Use the Health app on your iPhone, or download the Google fitness app if you have an Android phone to access step tracking features.

 

Cycle to work

If you live close enough to your job, you could swap your bus commute for a bike ride instead. If the weather is nice, you can fit in your fitness for the day during your commute with a healthy cycle to work. By doing this even just once or twice a week, you can see your fitness levels improve and you don’t have to move your busy schedule around to fit it in.

 

Set a goal to stick to

By setting a fitness goal, you can be more focused and determined to exercise daily. You can either create your own individual fitness goals, or you can get some help from an app. One of the most popular apps to help you improve your fitness within a tight time frame is the Couch to 5K app. You can set three workouts each week with the app’s eight-week program, so you have a goal within a time limit. This extra help through the app can help you be more motivated to workout after a long, busy day in the office.

Top Tips When Buying a Second Hand Car

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When it comes to buying a second hand car, there are a few key things to watch out for to make sure you’re investing in a great vehicle and you’re not falling for any scams or losing out on cash. By using these tips below you can ensure that the second hand car you purchase is safe to drive, in good condition and worth every penny.

 

Compare all your options

The best way to find the best car at the most affordable price is to compare a number of different brands and companies. If you’re buying in person, this will require making trips to as many dealers as possible. However, if you’re interested in buying a car online, you can use a price comparison website to compare all of your options in one place. It can show you a range of brands and sizes so you can look at all of your options before making a final, well-informed decision. You can then compare quotes to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.

 

Buy from an older driver

One of the key features of your car should be its condition, regardless of how old it is. It is worth paying a little bit more to have a second hand car with no technical issues, rather than one requiring a multitude of repairs and replacements. Knowing who the previous owner was could help you determine how well it has been maintained. Older drivers are generally safer drivers, so their cars are more likely to be in better condition. This is obviously not always the case, but it could be useful to be aware that a car previously owned by a 50 year old is probably going to have a little less wear and tear than if you bought a car from a 20 year old.

 

Hybrid costs less long term

If you’re thinking ahead and considering the costs long term, it could be worth investing in a hybrid car. Although they are more expensive to buy than regular cars, they cost less to run. This saves you money on petrol and could be a big money saver over time.

A smaller engine is cheaper

If you’re on a budget, or you’re just looking to get more for your money, you could look at the size of the car’s engine to get a better deal. A car with a smaller engine can be cheaper for you in the long run, as it will burn less fuel than a larger engine. However a smaller engine won’t work as well as its larger counterparts when going very fast. So if your car isn’t destined for high speeds or especially long trips, consider a smaller engine for a cheaper price.

 

Haggle to get the cheapest deal

You don’t have to settle for the asking price, especially if you are buying the car in person. If haggling isn’t something you’re used to doing, there are a few easier ways you can get a cheaper deal. If there are any scratches or noticeable flaws on the car, you could use this as a possible way in. Ask for a discount if the car isn’t in perfect condition, and since they know they need to sell it sooner rather than later, the dealer may take you up on your offer. If price negotiations aren’t really your thing, you could always try to add free bundles to your purchase to make the price more appealing. Any extras you may need, from the cheaper options such as floor mats to the more expensive like sat-navs, you could try to negotiate a deal where rather than asking for a lower price, you can add on some free or discounted extras instead.

 

Check its history online

There are a few checks you can do online on a car you are considering buying, to ensure it currently legally belongs to the seller, and to make sure its MOT is up to date. You can use the DVLA website to do a background check on the car you wish to buy. You can check the date the car was registered for the first time, the year it was made and the expiry of its current tax disc. If these features don’t match with what the seller has told you about the car, this could be a sign that the car is stolen. If this is the case, don’t even consider buying it, no matter how cheap they are offering it for. You can also check the car’s MOT history by looking online and seeing if it failed its MOT at any point and when it was last checked. All you need to provide is the car’s registration number and the MOT test number. If the latter is unavailable, you can instead provide the reference number from the V5C registration certificate. These details will be all you need to view the car’s MOT history to give you a better idea of its condition and any underlying issues.

 

Always take it for a test drive

When you find a car you’re interested in and you’re viewing it in person, always book a test drive if you can. The last thing you’ll want to find after your purchase is that the car is an uncomfortable, unfamiliar drive. You need to make sure you are comfortable driving the car and this also gives you a chance to thoroughly inspect the interior, while also checking the indicators, brakes and steering on the drive.

Buy your car with a credit card

If you are buying the car from a dealer, you should consider paying by credit card. With a credit card your transactions are protected, so if anything was to go wrong, you would be able to get your money back.

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