What to do Before Putting Your Home on the Market

The property market is incredibly extensive, and it seems to get bigger and better every single year. More properties, more affordable prices, more customers looking to buy and rent, etc., which all works out in your favour if you’re looking to sell a property of your own. 

However, putting your house on the market isn’t a one step process, and people often forget about how long the prep time can be. And because of this, we’ve detailed out the most important yet mislooked steps below. If you’re looking to sell, make sure you keep them all in mind! 

Find the Right Estate Agent

Finding the right estate agent should take you some time; don’t just turn to your nearest local agency and expect them to pull off the dream sale you’re looking for! Sure, you can try selling yourself, but if you’re not sure of the process, it’s better to go with a professional. 

When looking for an estate agent, keep in mind the time it takes them to sell a property, how often they successfully negotiate asking prices, and their average fees. Once you’ve worked all of these factors out, pick from the best of the bunch. 

Get Your Property Checked Out

Then it’s time to call in someone who can check your property, and grant it the certificates it needs to be placed on the market. These include an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate, which is the most important certificate you’ll need to be able to show, as well as Asbestos checks, or an Electrical Safety Report, depending on the history of your property. Getting all of these certificates doesn’t have to be hard either - you can get in touch with a supplier of property certificates very easily, and you don’t need a solicitor or estate agent to be present either. 

And whilst you’re here, make sure you have other necessary documents on hand as well, such as a copy of the title deed, mortgage details, and a property information form. Your estate agent of conveyancer should be able to provide more details and/or a copy of the forms you need to fill out/sign. 

Get a Solicitor 

And finally, it’s time to find yourself a good Conveyance Solicitor. Every single property that’s currently for sale on the market has been put there by the work of one of these solicitors, and they handle all legal needs during the selling process. 

Thankfully, you don’t have to wait until you’ve found a buyer to look for a conveyancer. You can find them out ahead of time, and use their services to help the selling process move a lot faster and smoother. Of course, they’re going to cost extra money, so make sure you’re aware of the kind of fees you’ll need to pay here. 

Putting your home on the market is a lot of work, but if you know what you’re doing, the process won’t take half as long! So keep these tips in mind. 

Personalised Christmas Gifts - What Katy Did - Shop with Small Businesses this Christmas

This Christmas gift guide is a bit of a spotlight on a business that's local to me; I know how hard Katie works to make sure her products are the best quality and I know she's up at all times of the night sorting orders out (all while looking after her 3 boys!) so I wanted to share some of the fab products she sells on the What Katy Did. She sells all sorts of brilliant gift ideas from personalised children's clothes and accessories to personalised pet accessories and beautiful homewares.

I've picked out a few bits from the Black Friday clearance section because there are some amazing deals:

I've included a few things which are perfect for Christmas eve boxes such as the personalised christmas pyjamas (£11.95) and a personalised enamel mug which would be perfect for enjoying a hot chocolate on Christmas eve before Father Christmas visits!

I love the personalised children's apron set which can be bought either as a set or as a separate personalised apron and baking set 

The personalised bamboo elephant plate set is a perfect little gift or stocking filler; it comes with a set of matching spoons and personalised name of your choice engraved on it for only £10.00

Perfect for nursery of school, the children's personalised rucksack (£10.00) is another great little gift/stocking filler!

I'm all for dressing for the occasion so the baby's first Christmas dinner bib caught my eye because it's such a beautiful design.

Please note that All What Katy Did products are handmade and therefore take time to create. All turnaround times are listed on the homepage. Please ensure all spellings and your colour choices are correct for your purchase. If in doubt please get in touch with Katie via email; she's really lovely and always happy to help!

Christmas Gift Guide for someone who loves Disney

Here's another small business Christmas gift guide and this is the Disney edition. I've found a selection of businesses selling Disney inspired bits and bobs which would make perfect Christmas gifts for any Disney lover.

Teeqco sell the most beautiful embroidered t-shirts and accessories, one of my personal favourites is the Slinky Dog t-shirt, I also love their embroidered socks with the Up! house on them they also sell some beautiful enamel pins (the classic Mickey heart enamel pin is my personal fave!)

Any Disnerd loves a bit of pixie dust in their home so something from Magical Signage Co would be perfect. I bought one of their Cast Member badge 'Welcome Home' signs a while back so I can vouch for the amazing quality! They have also recreated the Disney road signs and made them into a range of different products which I've had my eye on for a while!

Know someone who would live in Disney World if they could? Bring some of the scents into their house with a candle from Tweedle Dee Candle Company; the Fly Through Pandora candle sounds perfect!

Still on the subject of Disney inspired home scents, Magic Park Scents also do a great range of products and scents to transport you back to your happy place! Their wax melts are very reasonable at £3.50 and they have a great range of scents such as Polynesian, Karamel Kitchen and PhilarMagic

Tails of Toria soaps have you covered for anyone who loves Disney and a pamper night; they have a brilliant range of handmade soaps, bath bombs and bubble scoops. How amazing does the Adventure is out there soap look?! The Lot-so Hugs bath bomb sounds like it would smell incredible (strawberry obvs!). Pixie Dust would make an amazing stocking filler - don't worry too much if it says sold out at the moment as they do a re-stock every Friday at 6pm so keep checking back!

Last but not least I reckon any Disney fan would love to receive the I Wish I was at Disney rose gold necklace from Briar Rose Gifts (I know it's firmly on my wish list!).

Christmas Gift Ideas for Someone with a Sweet Tooth

I know it's tempting to buy all your Christmas gifts from the big brands and retailers but this year I really wanted to try and help raise awareness of the incredible small businesses out there that don't get anywhere near as much recognition as they should. All small businesses featured on here offer delivery within the UK so you can get your Christmas shopping done without leaving the house and knowing that you'll have made a small business owner's day just by choosing to place an order with them. 

This sweet tooth Christmas gift guide is for that person with a sweet tooth and there's a selection of sweet treats from across the UK. If you're worried about use by dates, give them a quick message on instagram or via email and I'm sure they'll get back to you (that's the beauty about smaller businesses, they actually WANT to talk to you and help where they can!)

Pixture and Mixture have a selection of different gift boxes full of your favourite sweets; you can go for a Signature mystery box (priced from £6), the Vegan Box (from £6.50) or you could go all out and get the Jumbo Mystery Sharing Platter (£20.00)

If there's a day when it's acceptable to eat donuts for breakfast, it's Christmas Day; Stupendonuts have got you covered with their box of 6 donuts posted - they look absolutely delicious (and you can pick your own 6 flavours which means you'll always get the flavours you want!)

Pretty Sweets have a gorgeous range of Christmassy sweet boxes like this white themed sweet box which contains snowflake jellys, snowman lolly, choc nibs, chocolate coins and lots of other festive sweet treats. I'm particularly fond of this particular business as it's very local to me in Doncaster and was a business set up during Lockdown 1.0. 

For the biscuit lover in your life, the Biscuit Baron have got you covered; they offer biscuit subscription boxes containing upto eight full sized packs of biscuits from around the world so they'll potentially get to try biscuits that you won't usually find in supermarkets!

If fudge and chocolate is more their thing then The Confectionary Lounge is a good place to start with their handmade fudge selection. They have lots of different flavours including Baileys, Cherry Bakewell, Salted Caramel and Beautiful Biscoff. 

If you've got a brownie lover in your life (to be honest, this would be my ideal gift!) then I'm sure they'd love to open a box of brownies from The Savvy Baker... I've not tried these yet but I have every intention of doing so very soon!

Keep your eye out for other gift guides featuring small businesses as I'll be releasing them over the next couple of weeks!

If you are a small business owner and would like me to feature your business in a gift guide please contact me: j.hewitt4468@gmail.com. These gift guide features are completely free of charge!

Quirky Gifts Christmas Gift Guide - Support Small Business This Christmas - FAN GRRRL

This year has presented challenges like no other for small businesses and there's no escaping the fact that there will be hundreds of livelihoods hanging in the balance right now due to the uncertainty that COVID-19 has created. Thousands of businesses have had to close their doors to the public and are relying on internet orders so I wanted to do my bit a create a series of Christmas gift guides featuring small businesses

Today's feature business is FAN GRRRL. Here's a bit about the business:


I've picked out a selection of products which are perfect for Secret Santa gifts, stocking fillers and gifts for people that seem to have everything:

Y U SO CUTE Art Print (£10.00)

Bridget Jones Art Print (£10.00)

I Just Hate the General Public Mug (£10.00)

Tom Hardy Fan Club Mug (£10.00)

I Got Dressed Today Baseball Tee (£28.00)

Biscuit Club President Pencil Set (£4.50)

Dog Person Pencil Case/Makeup Bag (£12.00)

Anti-Social Club Gold Foil Art (£12.00)

FAN GRRRL offer worldwide delivery and payment via all major cards, PayPal and Klarna. 

If you are a small business owner and would like me to feature your business in a gift guide please contact me: j.hewitt4468@gmail.com. These gift guide features are completely free of charge!

Decorating Tips for Landlords

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If you’re planning to rent out a property to tenants, it’s probably a good idea to doa bit of decorating first. Doing so will make your property more attractive to the kind of tenants you’re trying to encourage and it will give you a chance to get to know the property better.

Whether you’re a seasoned property developer or someone who’s getting ready to let their first property, here are a few decorating tips that you may find useful:

Tiles are a great choice

When it comes to decorating areas like the kitchen and bathroom, it can be tempting to save money by using cheaper materials like laminate, paint and linoleum, but this could well be a false economy. Not only do they look much less attractive, but they are also less likely to stand the test of time, which means you’ll probably need to replace them very often. Tiles, on the other hand, can typically be refreshed by simply re-grouting them and giving them a quick scrub, which is obviously an advantage.

Keep it neutral

It probably doesn’t need stating, but when you’re decorating a property for other people, it’s smart to be cautious and stick to neutral colour schemes. Not only will bright, bold and garish decoration put some potential tenants off, but it will also age your property far more quickly than walls that have been simply decorated in shades of white, cream or maybe even grey. By sticking with the basics, your property will have more appeal, and refreshing your real estate will be a whole lot simpler. Not only that but if you choose light neutral colours, they will give your property the illusion of spaciousness, which is always a big selling point.

Avoid cheaper fixtures and fittings

From door handles and letterboxes to lamps and lights, buying the very cheapest you can buy will save you money in the short-term, but you’re more likely to be called up by your tenants when they inevitably rust, snap or break in some way. Choosing affordable, but good quality fixtures and fittings will be a far better choice in the long-term. Chrome is good as it’s durable and affordable, but see what’s out there before you make your final decision.

Prevent mould

Mould is very common and it can be a real pain in the backside to deal with. Since you can’t control how often your tenants will have the windows open or the heating on, it makes sense to do what you can to prevent any future mould, whether that means treating and removing existing spots or using anti-mould paint additives when decorating. Yes, it may cost you a little more, but you’ll be glad of it when you don’t have to deal with a spreading mould problem a year down the line.

Go for dark carpets

If you plan to carpet your property, it’s a good idea to go for darker shades of brown, which will disguise any dirt and debris much more easily than lighter colours, so you won’t have to clean them quite so often.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of carpet, the thicker the better. Again, thicker carpets may be more expensive, but they will stand up to wear and tear far better, which means they won’t need to be replaced as often. Using underlay is also a good idea for similar reasons.

Avoid wallpaper

Wallpaper is more likely to peel off and it’s almost impossible to remove stubborn marks and stains from it unless it happens to be a very high-quality washable style, which can be pretty expensive. That’s why it’s a good idea, as a landlord, to use paint throughout the home. If you really want to add some wallpaper, just put it on one feature wall so it’s a bit easier to remove and refresh as and when needed, but try to keep that as neutral as possible too lest it put your tenants off.

Keep it natural

If you need to install new skirting boards, doors, etc., it can be a good idea to simply stain them rather than painting them, Why? Because not only will they look great, but any knocks and scrapes won’t be quite as noticeable as they would if the wood was painted white, cream or some other light colour.

Decorating as a landlord doesn’t have to be stressful. The above tips will help you to get it right without spending a fortune or having to put a huge amount of ongoing time and effort into the process.

Why The Property Market Has Grown Since Lockdown

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The property market has seen an unexpected increase in growth since lockdown restrictions were lifted in May, as estate agents were allowed to return to work and could start to sell properties once again. The explanation for the sudden growth could be attributed to certain factors including Brexit and the global pandemic caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

With the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, many people chose to wait until the outcome of the December general election had been announced. This meant that those who were waiting to buy and sell properties after this had to postpone plans even further when the country went into lockdown in March.

Lockdown may have motivated more people to continue with their plans to move once restrictions started to ease up. People were no longer confined to their homes, which enabled them to start the process of moving into a new property. Estate agents reported being overwhelmed with people looking to put their homes on the market and with new potential buyers searching for properties.

Another factor that could have contributed to the growth was the Stamp Duty being reduced to 0% for first homes up to the value of £500,000. This was introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, as a way to get the property market up and running again which proved to be a success.

If you are interested in seeing the stats on how the property market shot up post-lockdown, take a look at the infographic from Mansell McTaggart below.

Infographic By MansellMcTaggart

Feeling Tired? Try These Tips

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Feeling tired sometimes isn't unusual, but when you're always tired, something has to change. Wanting to fall asleep all the time could indicate a bigger problem, and it definitely won't leave you at your best. You can find that you're forgetful or disorganised, and it could be dangerous if you're driving or even just walking around. Having energy and feeling alert is important, so you need to do something if you're feeling tired all the time. Some lifestyle changes could be what's needed. Here are some of the steps that you can take if you're tired and you want to change things.


Prioritise Sleep

To start with an obvious one, you could be feeling tired because you're not getting enough sleep. Even if you think that you're sleeping enough, you might not be getting as much sleep as you could. Seven or eight hours is usually the recommended amount. If you're not sure how much you're sleeping, try wearing a fitness tracker to bed to track your sleeping patterns as these devices usually have a huge features list which can help with tracking how much sleep you're getting each night so you can identify patterns. There are some steps you could take if you need help falling asleep, from meditation to crafting a good bedtime routine. You can also make sure your bedroom has the perfect conditions for sleep. 

See Your Doctor

If you are sleeping enough, it can be a good idea to make an appointment with your GP. This is especially true if you have suddenly started to feel fatigued, and you can't think of any reason for it. Your doctor can ask you about your lifestyle and any other symptoms you might have. They can make some suggestions about how to have more energy or carry out some tests to find out if there might be something wrong. It's not always easy to get to the bottom of things when you're feeling tired, but there could be an underlying cause that can be addressed.

Get Your Vision Tested

Are your eyes feeling tired? If your eyes feel dry or you're struggling to focus, you could be having problems with your vision. Not being able to see properly can cause strain on your eyes, and the effort of trying to focus can make you feel tired too. You should have vision tests every two years or any time you think that you might have a problem with your vision. If you do need glasses, you'll have a selection of eyewear to choose from. Wearing glasses just gives you a new accessory that you can choose to wear. Or you can use contact lenses instead.

Move More

Being tired could actually be improved by moving more. Exercise might not be your first thought when you're feeling tired, but regular movement can help you to have more energy and stamina. If you don't get much exercise, consider building it into your routine. Start gently and slowly build up the level of activity that you do to get moving more.

If you're tired, don't just let things continue as they are. You can solve the problem by confronting it and working out what to change.

Date Night Ideas on a Budget

AD - Working in Partnership with Jack's Supermarket

You want to have some quality time with your other half, you don't want to spend a fortune but you also want to feel like you're treating yourselves a bit. My favourite date nights have actually been where we've specifically taken time out of whatever we'd normally do to actually spend some time at home together without the distraction of phones and, of course, it always seems to involve food. 

Jack's Supermarket recently got in touch with me to ask if I'd like to try some of their products to see how they'd fare in helping me create my date night of dreams. I'd not actually heard of Jack's before I received the email but they're actually the discount sibling of the Tesco family; offering outstanding value on everyday family essentials including fresh fruit and veg, meats and all the ingredients you need to make tasty meals. Having had a nosey in their Sheffield store I managed to pick up lots of goodies to make the perfect date night.

Here are some ideas of how Jack's can help you can organise date night on a limited budget:

Pizza and a film 
If this was a trip to the cinema finished off with a visit to Pizza Hut, you could pretty much wave goodbye to £50 but with Jacks I was able to get bread sticks and dips (for starter), pizza, ribs, cider and chocolate all for under £15!

I was so impressed with the pizza in particular and couldn't believe it was only £2.49; it was absolutely superb quality with the perfect amount of topping on it. The only trouble was, I wish I'd have got us one each because it was so tasty! Ribs can sometimes be a bit hit and miss I find but these from Jack's were beautifully meaty with just the right amount of BBQ sauce. The meal was finished off perfectly with a glass of Crofter's cider and at only 85p a bottle I certainly wasn't expecting it to be so nice; it was the perfect balance between sweet and dry cider!

Date night film suggestions:
Eurovision (Netflix) - the comedy
The Equalizer - the action
The Notebook - the romance

Steak and Pamper Evening
If you're looking for something a bit more 'luxurious' from a meal then Jack's also do some amazingly priced steaks which I picked up and had another night with some homemade chips (top tip: I find that red potatoes make the best homemade chips - just simply cut up, drizzle with oil, shake to coat and pop in the oven at 200 degrees for 30 mins). The pieces of rump steak are only £2.49 each, believe it or not! 

I always slice my steak up to eat it, which I know might make it look a bit weird (I think it's something to do with when I went to Flat Iron) but having cooked it medium rare, it was some of the best steak I've personally ever had at home. Kev's was a little on the fatty side but I strongly suspect that was his fault for picking out one that was a little more marbled. As you might have noticed on the packaging, it's British beef which leads me on to mention that Jack's are also passionate about supporting and working with local farmers and it's a really refreshing change to see quality British products at such reasonable prices!

Perfect pamper night suggestions:

To me, no pamper night is complete without a nice candle lit bath and because Jack's have got a 'When It's Gone It's Gone' middle aisle, I was able to grab some of the softest fluffiest towels to pop on the radiator and wrap myself in afterwards. New products are launched in the WIGIG aisle every Thursday so it's well worth popping in just to see the new offers!

After a candle lit bath I'd highly recommend popping on a relaxing face mask each and taking it in turns to give hand/foot massages (or maybe just hands if feet aren't your thing!). You could also take the opportunity, while you're both relaxed, to do some fun couples quizzes; you can find lots of couples questions on Pinterest and it can be both funny and interesting to hear each other's answers to them!

I'm hoping that Jack's open a store in Doncaster soon as I'd really like to make shopping there a regular thing, if you love the sound of a new discount store with a tempting middle aisle you just need to find your local store (which could be closer than you think!)

4 Paradise Islands You'll Want To Retire On

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If you think of the word paradise, the image of a silent island bathed in heavenly sunshine and calm blue waves will appear to mind. That is no fantasy, as there are countless islands that provide that kind of dream for someone who is ready to move to such a place. They have the same sort of weather but their cultures are different. You have many islands in North America, just off the coast of Florida. You also have islands that are in South America, the Indian Ocean and around the South China Sea. But some are better than others, so we’ve compiled a list of the best.



Just off the east coast of Madagascar, this beautiful little island is in the Indian Ocean. It's so popular that it has a population of 1.2 million people. But don’t worry, it's not as crowded as you might think. Here's why you would want to live in Mauritius. From Grand Baie to Tamarin and to the airport, there are villas, apartments, condos and gated communities that are never too far from the beach. It has a landmass of 1,600 square miles and a GDP of $31 billion. That means that there’s plenty of money for infrastructure and keeping the island clean, heavenly and just the way it should be. So you have peace, quiet and the island is kept in tip-top shape to keep residents happy. 


The British Indian Ocean Territory is further east to Mauritius and it's just as beautiful. Home to coral reefs and turtles, it's also full of penguins during certain times of the year. The white soft sands and the leaning palm trees are just a classic sign that you are in paradise. However, you have a lot more privacy on this island because there are 1,000 people, 3,000 military personnel. It's just 23 square miles but a little shack by the beach is all you’ll want for the seclusion, privacy and quiet you get in return.


An amazing island that is one of the most-loved of the UK’s overseas territories, as well as for its mystique regarding the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ conspiracy theories. It's fish hook shape makes for a great riviera island, with plenty of harbours, ports and places where you can ride around in your private boat. The weather is really quite calm for being further out into the North Atlantic Ocean. It's warm and humid, perfect for roaming around in flip flops and shorts, just the way the British like it! 


Most people have never heard of this island, but that’s even more alluring for someone who wants to retire in peace and quiet. The see-through turquoise waters are incredible. Warm and smooth, these waters will have your floating and swimming in them for hours and hours every day. The long sandy beach is just what you would want in a classic paradise island. Nothing more to say about Anguilla.

Some of the greatest islands on earth are yearning for more inhabitants who want to retire and enjoy the more beautiful parts of the world. Have you chosen your favourite yet?

La Boca Doncaster Food Review

Good steak restaurants can be few and far between but I really wanted to share an absolute gem of a steak restaurant that I've found in Doncaster and it was all down to a happy coincidence. We have eaten at steak restaurants like Miller and Carter and Estabulo but both were booked up with the Eat Out to Help Out government scheme running; so I logged on to Open Table (an absolute must-have app, by the way, if you eat out a lot) and there was a table available at La Boca in Doncaster town centre. 

La Boca is a fairly new steak restaurant in Doncaster town centre, offering the finest cuts of meat with an Argentine inspired menu. The restaurant itself is quite small but perfectly formed; they've done a great job of making it Covid secure and the staff are wonderfully friendly. 


The menu is concise but there are some amazing-sounding dishes on there. We decided to get a starter each; Kev went for the Empanadas which are Argentinian pasties filled with spicy beef, served with a small salad, I went for the Provoleta which is an Argentinian baked cheese with a red onion and chilli marmalade.




As you can see, the empanadas are filled full of pulled beef and it tasted absolutely unreal; the beef itself was very flavourful but not too spicy. These were completely different to any other empanadas I've ever tasted because the meat was so generous. 

The provoleta was also gorgeous; I'm a huge cheese fan and I live for a good cheese pull so this was perfect for me. One thing I will say is that you need more bread, which I asked for and was given but if I were the restaurant I'd serve it with 4 pieces of bread rather than 2 because I knew before I even started that it wasn't going to be enough. 

The main course was obviously what we really came for. We both went for the 10oz rump steak served with rustic fries, chimichurri and roasted peppers. All steaks are brushed with rosemary and paprika butter and cooked to perfections. We also paid extra for Diane sauce on the side.



That for me was the perfect medium rare steak, Kev went for medium which was also cooked perfectly. Obviously rump steak isn't the 'best' cut of steak but for me it is definitely the best value for money as the meat is tender and flavourful. There was a little bit of fat in mine which was inedible but this didn't spoil it for me at all because the rest of the meat was so tender. Until now, I didn't realise how well chimichurri goes with steak and it was the perfect accompaniment. The rustic chips were cooked to perfection and are far better than what we have had at Miller and Carter. You can tell that there's real care and attention paid to these meals and serving good quality food really matters to the staff. 

We saw other people in the restaurant who had ordered the mixed grills which have a mix of steak, lamb, chicken and chorizo which looked absolutely amazing and definitely something I'd consider next time but I would be loathed to choose anything but just steak because it was so good. 

There's a reason why this is the number one restaurant in Doncaster on Trip Advisor and I'm just sorry I have left it so long to visit! Due to the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, this meal only cost us £45 including 2 pints of Diet Pepsi which is almost half the price of Miller and Carter and I can honestly say that the quality of this meal far exceeds that. 

If you're looking for a good steak restaurant in Doncaster, I can highly recommend La Boca!

Fat Hippo Sheffield Food Review

It's been a while since I've done a proper food review (mainly because we had the luxury of restaurants stripped away from us for a few months) so I thought I'd come back and tell you about my experience of Fat Hippo in Sheffield. Fat Hippo are known for their burgers, specifically big dirty burgers that require napkins when eating so they pretty much had me with the pictures of their burgers on Instagram.

We visited Fat Hippo in Sheffield (S1) which is kind of hidden away in Lane 7 which is a bit of an entertainment centre with a bowling alley, pool tables and darts. We actually really enjoyed the vibe in there and I'd definitely go back just for that and probably couple a burger with a few games of pool. But anyway, I digress... onto the food. We ordered a Fat Hippo Burger each which consists of a double patty, American cheese, smoked bacon, chorizo, onion rings and Fat Hippo sauce; I went bunless with mine but Kev got his as normal. All burgers are served with fries and there's the option to pimp your fries so we got our fries with bacon bits and Fat Hippo Sauce:

As you can see, the Fat Hippo burger is a bloody good stack and even though mine doesn't have the bun it still looks good. To be honest I'm sold on any burger with onion rings and those onion rings were so good; crispy and a good thick ring of onion. The burgers themselves were clearly homemade and extremely tasty. The combination of cheese, bacon, chorizo, onion rings and burger patty was perfect. Fat Hippo sauce is a little bit like thousand island and also complements the burger perfectly - I'd always recommend getting some to go with your burger even if you just ask for it on the side.

As for the fries, in all honesty I wouldn't get them covered in Fat Hippo sauce again because it was just a bit much, although I daresay if they were in a wider pot it may have been better but there was just too much sauce dolloped on top and it became overpowering. They were nice to begin with but you know when you just have too much of the same sort of taste? I ended up leaving some

We also ordered a side of 'Freddie's Fingers' (nice little play on the movie title, I assume) and I was really underwhelmed by these to be honest. They were clearly homemade and were supposed to be southern fried but the coating was pretty tasteless and dry. The redeeming feature was the buffalo sauce which was amazing but I still couldn't recommend ordering these.

Despite the disappointing chicken, we did really enjoy the burger and we would visit again but I'd be tempted to just go for regular shoestring fries with plenty of salt and maybe try a different style of burger. Fat Hippo have two locations in Sheffield, and one in Jesmond, Newcastle and Durham so it's very much a Northern gem - I'd highly recommend visiting if you're near a branch! Also check out the Fat Hippo Instagram for some ultimate burger pictures to get your mouth watering!

3 Ways a Trip Away from Home Can Help Improve Your Perspective

There are all sorts of different reasons why people travel, and why travel can be a great and life affirming experience. Part of the joy of travelling is, of course, seeing new sights, trying new cuisine, and turning the excitement level of life up a notch. Obviously holidaying has taken a different turn in the wake of a global pandemic and staycations are becoming much more popular this year than ever. We have just returned from a weekend break at Haven Golden Sands caravan park in Mablethorpe and my step-sister has taken a mobile home to tour around Cornwall for a week which is something I'd definitely consider as it looks like she's having a great time! (with that being said, if you are thinking of buying a caravan make sure you find the best caravan insurance before travelling!)

Regardless of what you choose to do, even a few days staycation in the UK can improve your perspective on life, especially after being cooped up for so many weeks! Here are a few ways in which a trip away from home can help to improve your perspective:

By reminding you of how much you can do when you are being proactive

If your holiday involves getting out of your comfort zone, squeezing in some sightseeing, or otherwise managing your schedule more proactively than you would have been on any given weekend at home, then your holiday has the potential to dramatically remind you of just how much you can actually do and achieve when you are being proactive.

Although there are holidays which are based around relaxing at a resort-side pool, for example, most holidays will involve the holiday-goers trying to optimise their time to get as much out of the trip as possible. Often, therefore, a holiday can really be a reminder that it’s important to break free from “analysis paralysis,” and meet life head-on.

By getting you far enough away from your normal environment, that you can start to view it with more objectivity

We all have assorted troubles, insecurities, preoccupations, and hangups that can haunt us in our everyday lives and cause a great deal of stress and frustration.

Often, what is really needed in order to break free from these negative cycles, is to gain a bit of outside perspective – but that’s more or less impossible to do, in most cases, when you are in the middle of the situation.

Travel can get you far enough away from your normal environment, that you can start to view it with more objectivity. This can then serve as a great impetus to begin making changes, and to adjust your thinking about particular issues.

By putting you in a more optimistic and confident frame of mind

A good holiday will generally put you in a more optimistic and confident frame of mind than you would typically have been in if you had remained at home.

There are many reasons why this can be beneficial, but one of the key reasons is that it can give you the inspiration and self belief necessary to really set yourself some goals, and to commit to going after your dreams and ambitions in a way that you might have felt was out of reach before.

Consider taking a notebook and pen with you on your trip, and brainstorming some of the things you would like to do when you get home, as the inspiration hits you.

What You Need To Know Before Buying a Historic House

Buying a historic house is appealing in a lot of ways. For one, most historic homes are beautiful and unique in their architecture and design. It could also be fulfilling to know that you have a hand in redeveloping or improving upon a town and its economy. Before you go out and buy there are a few things you need to know.

The Benefits
There are many benefits to owning historic property. The first thing is knowing your contribution to the preservation of history. Who knows what opportunities will open up because of your preservation of the historical building. You can give back to the community by allowing local residents to rent the space out. Just make sure you know all the laws and permits you need. Some homes are permitted to host weddings and events, while others can only be used in a museum setting. Some historical buildings are also retrofitted with a commercial quality kitchen for catering. The possibilities are endless. You also receive tax benefits. They are gorgeous additions to any neighbourhood because of their unique architecture, in addition to the tax benefits, you may also get lower interest loans to restore these historical homes and sometimes to even buy and preserve them.

You May Have Some Restrictions
When you own a historic home, there may be some restrictions that come along with it since it is a historical building. There may be some prior guidelines imposed by your local and state government when it comes to modifying the building. As a general rule of thumb, as long as the integrity and style of the home are maintained, you are good to make changes to the home. It goes without saying that the guidelines have to be met.

Make sure you have a proper home inspection by a professional who has a specialty in historic homes. When trying to figure out what you need to invest in, make sure you get estimates from at least two contractors to cross-reference the repair work needed before you move in. Another part of that is making sure the home meets all the health and safety standards.

You may also need a certain type of home insurance that covers historic properties. Typically these are more expensive than the regular home insurance of a newer home.

Do Your Research
Make sure that your historical property is actually a historical property. Do research on why the home is significant. It is important to note that your historic building has to be up to a certain code. You can do this by having your home inspected by a professional. Have a full understanding of what you can and cannot do with the home. It is very important to get a home inspector and have the house thoroughly looked over. You should also get estimates from local contractors on how much all of that will cost.

These are a few things to keep in mind before you purchase a historic building. Be sure to search for a historic building conservation East Devon, or wherever you are local.

Holiday Dreaming And The Inspiration For Next Year

There is no denying that many of us will have holidays on our minds right now, partly because they still feel a little impossible right now. But as lockdown eases and restrictions become less, holidays will be possible once more. Whether it is later this year or next, you may be looking for some inspiration. With that in mind, here are some of the options for you to consider.

A rental cottage

One of the first options to consider would be a cottage somewhere different. A staycation this might be, but looking online for cottages for hire may highlight parts of the country you have never thought of visiting. It avoids you having to worry about any potential restrictions and allows you to enjoy a holiday that feels more home from home. There are some beautiful parts of the country to explore, so this might be the ideal incentive to stay closer to home and see it. 

A road trip
Now more than ever you may have been thinking about seeing more of the world we live in. When the option gets taken away from you it can often reignite a passion to try it once more. A road trip could be the ideal solution. Planning your trip and where you stay, seeing more than one place and exploring new countries. It might not be the first holiday you are able to take, but it is certainly one to plan for the future.

A cruise 
Cruising was extremely popular, but right now those floating hotels on the seas are not a possible option for a holiday. But that doesn’t mean to say it will never be. Cruising will come back, and it is certainly going to be popular once those ships sail the seas once more. A cruise gives you the chance to see multiple destinations and countries in one holiday, so it may be worth planning which one you want to do once the opportunity arises again.

A fun time adventure 
Who doesn’t want a bit of fun and excitement in their lives and a holiday to somewhere like Disney World or Lapland could be the ideal one to plan. These fun locations will start to open up once more, and enable you to enjoy the festivities that surround them. Again this might be a holiday you plan for the future, but it could certainly be fun counting down to that special holiday when the opportunity comes.

An active holiday
Finally, the last spot of holiday inspiration you might need is one for the active person in your life, be that yourself or your family. Holidays don’t always mean lounging by the pool or the sea, so why not choose an adventure instead? A hiking holiday, a boating trip or something like skiing could all be possible options for amazing vacations away with your nearest and dearest.

Let’s hope you are full of inspiration to start dreaming, planning and potentially booking those holidays so we can all start to see the world we live in once more.

8 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself

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You’re going to have more energy and not feel as sluggish when you put your health and wellness first and foremost. Putting these essential to-dos off for another day may leave you feeling stressed out and lacking the motivation to reach your goals.

Learn about eight ways you can take better care of yourself so that you can reap all the benefits that come along with doing so. Changing your habits can be time-consuming and challenging initially but try to stick with it and notice how over time it gets easier for you. Take action now so that you can experience more gratifying days ahead.

1. Make Sleep & Rest A Priority
You can take better care of yourself by making sleep and rest a priority. Get on a schedule by going to bed and waking up around the same time each day, even on the weekends. Also, take the time to configure your room for optimal sleep. For instance, make sure it’s at a cool temperature, that you have a comfortable mattress and sheets, and that the room is dark enough. You should not only focus on getting more and better sleep but also taking breaks and resting when your body tells you that it’s tired.

2. Pay Attention to the Products You’re Using
Take better care of yourself by paying attention to the products you’re using on yourself and around the house. There are many toxins in your everyday purchases that you should be aware of and try to avoid. For example, you can make your own house cleaners at home with natural ingredients. As for your beauty routine, look for skincare lotions and nail products such as those at ciennarose.com that are vegan and that have nourishing ingredients that aren’t harmful to you.

3. Take Breaks & Time Away from Work
You’ll also be doing yourself a huge favour by practising work-life balance and not overdoing it at your job. It’s vital that you set boundaries and take breaks and time away from work if you want to stay well. Go on a holiday with your family or friends or have a staycation at home where you can rest and participate in activities you enjoy. You’ll likely return to the office feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and find that you make fewer mistakes while at work. Plan ahead and prioritise your work tasks so that you can leave the office each night at a decent hour and don’t have to bring your work home with you.

4. Get Daily Physical Activity & Exercise
Daily exercise is good for both your mind and body. It’s an excellent way to tone your body and manage any stress you’re feeling. Find activities that you enjoy and mix up your routine so that you don’t become bored or disengaged in working out. It may help to find an accountability partner who you can count on to keep you motivated to continue exercising and taking care of yourself. Once you start exercising and you notice how good you feel you likely won’t want to miss a day. Also, be sure to stay hydrated and stretch so that you can recover more quickly.

5. Cook Nutritious Meals at Home
Another way to take better care of yourself is to cook nutritious meals at home. It’ll be cheaper than going out to eat, and you’ll likely consume fewer calories. You can control your portion sizes and what ingredients you use better when you’re the chef. Your clothes will fit better, and you may not have as many health issues when you eat well. Make a grocery list and shop and prepare food on the weekends so that your weekdays aren’t as busy. You may even want to think about making meals that you can cook ahead and pull out and serve when you’re short on time.

6. Spend Less Time on Technology
While technology is useful and makes your life easier, it can also be addicting and hard on your health. You may have eye strain, a sore neck or back, and pain in your hands if you type and stare at a computer screen a lot. Therefore, monitor how much time you’re spending on technology and take breaks away from it so you can feel better mentally and physically. Think of all the other activities you could be doing, such as getting outside or participating in a hobby. You’ll likely find you feel less stressed and anxious and that you don’t sit around comparing your life to other people as much when you limit your time on social media and the Internet.

7. Connect with Friends & Family
Another way to boost your health and well-being is to build and nurture your relationships with others. Make it a point to connect with friends and family members more frequently and open up and get to know people on a deeper level. It’ll be nice to have people in your life who you can turn to when you need advice or to engage with when you need a good laugh. Pick up the phone on your days off or ask a friend out for coffee to catch up. These connections are valuable for your well-being, and you’ll likely find that you’re a lot happier when you have people who you count on to brighten your day or who will listen when you have a problem.

8. Make To-Do Lists & Journal
Take better care of yourself by attending to your mental health and finding ways to manage your stress. You may find it helpful to make to-do lists and keep notes about what you want to get done each day. There will be less information floating around in your head, and you can stay on track with tackling your responsibilities. Also, keep a journal of what you’re grateful for and what you like about yourself so you can maintain a positive outlook and uplifting self-talk. These are small actions you can do that will make your life easier and bring you a lot of joy.

The Things That Are Keeping Your Home From Smelling Fresh

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You invest a lot of time and effort in making your home perfect. You sweep, mop and polish your floors until they sparkle. You apply a liberal dose of elbow grease to your windows to the point where guests question whether or not they even contain any glass. You vacuum your carpets and rugs to keep them fully, lustrous and free of dust and crumbs of yuckiness. Yet, no matter how much you scrub, wipe, mop and sweep there’s something that’s keeping your home from looking and feeling completely clean.

Yup, it’s that funk that subtly permeates your living space, and undoes all the hard work you’ve put in elsewhere. While we human beings are inherently visual creatures, we tend to judge our surroundings by their scent, as well. It’s how we’ve evolved to know which foods will do us harm and which environments aren’t safe to live in. As such, our sense of smell can affect our moods. So when your home is permeated by pongs, it can make it really difficult to enjoy your down time. Here are 4 things that are keeping your home from smelling, and feeling, as fresh as it could:

Your drains
Be honest. You’re washing the dishes and an errant pea, piece of sweetcorn or nugget of mince gets stuck in the drain. What do you do? Push it down with the butt of a fork? Thought so. But when food waste is pushed down the drain, it isn’t banished to another dimension. It can get stuck in the u-bend, decomposing and bringing the funk to your kitchen. In some cases a little baking soda and lemon juice down the drain is enough to rid your home of funky odours, but when matter accumulates in your drains over time, you may need to get a specialist drain repair service over to make sure your pipes are spotless. And you can cook safe in the knowledge that the only aroma is the delicious food you’re making. 

As much as we love our furry friends they can be a source of unwanted odours, especially in wet weather or if they're partial to a dip in some water on their walks! Regularly washing pet bedding and blankets will go a long way to stopping any unwanted pet odours as well as replacing them when they become old and worn (because let's be fair they do get to a point where no matter what you wash them with, nothing will get rid of that lingering smell).

Your carpets
You may vacuum regularly. But over time pet dander, crumbs of food waste and other nasties can get trodden deep into the fibres of your carpet and prevent it from smelling as good as it could. As well as getting your carpets and upholstery cleaned annually, you can mix some baking soda and essential oils to make your very own Shake n Vac. Sprinkle it on your carpets, leave it for a few minutes and vacuum it back up for instant freshness.

Your bin
Finally, after a while, your bin may start to smell, even if it’s empty. Sometimes waste can escape your bin bag and linger in the bin itself. Rather than rinsing it out with soap and water, first try sprinkling in a combination of baking soda and your favourite essential oils. Leave it for about an hour then rinse out. Your bin will look and smell good as new!

Always remember to stay safe when cleaning your home!

Tukin Foods Discount Code and Review

The last 10 weeks has been a testing time in more ways that one; we've had to completely transform our lives in a lot of ways and adapt quickly to new ways of living - most of which I will continue with well beyond lockdown because some of it has actually been revolutionary! One of the biggest changes I have made over 10 weeks of lockdown is the way I buy food. I've gone from shopping 3/4 times per week; just picking up a few bits on the way home from work (which by the way, was totally inefficient and used to do my head in!) to relying on a 'big shop' once a week and topping up with other bits and bobs usually from smaller businesses as and when I can.

Tukin Foods is a small business I've been introduced to recently who offer handmade curries delivered to your door which I think is absolutely revolutionary. Sounds a bit daft to refer to a ready meal as revolutionary but I think we all have that image of 'ready meal curry' in our heads as being a bit sad and uninspiring; something that you chuck in the microwave because you have nothing else to eat. Tukin has completely changed my perception of ready meals!

Based in Leicester, Tukin offer a full range of handmade curries, naans and and sides which make for the perfect takeaway treat at home without paying a premium. They were kind enough to send me a care package full of a selection of their products so I wanted to share my thoughts.

I'll start with the curry ready meals: I've tried the Chicken Korma, Chicken Tikka, Chicken Jalfrezi and Butternut Squash and Spinach Curry (all priced at £4.50). These can be heated in the microwave or the oven (I would recommend putting the curry into another container if you are going to use the oven though as I found that the plastic packaging isn't oven-proof). The first thing I noticed about each curry is the beautiful texture and consistency; they are gorgeously thick and the meat curries all contained plenty of chicken. They also do a Lamb Rogan Josh and a Vindaloo if either of those tickle your fancy. 

My personal favourite has to be the Chicken Korma; it was so creamy and coconutty - I much prefer this to the Kormas I've had from restaurants and takeaways because it was creamy but not overly sweet. The Chicken Tikka, again, wasn't as sweet as I've had from takeaways but it was so tasty and doesn't have that luminous red colour that you often get from restaurants and takeaways as it's made with all natural ingredients and no preservatives. I was also pleasantly surprised by the Vegetarian curry - this was delicious and very filling! The Jalfrezi is the hottest of the 4 curries but not unbearable - still not too hot that you don't get any of the flavours but if you don't like a kick then I would stay with the milder curries such as Korma.

Now onto the Indian side orders - I had a Chicken Tikka Samosa, Vegetable Samosa and Onion Bhaji (all £2.00 each) and they were all lovely! They're large enough to share between two if you wanted to try a bit of each and done in the oven they come out beautifully crispy as you would expect in a restaurant - I highly recommend these even just as a snack to take to work!

I was also sent some drinks which were the Nix and Kix Cucumber and Mint and Blood Orange and Turmeric (both £1.30 each). I'm not a fan of the Cucumber and Mint because it was simply just like drinking cucumber water which really isn't for me but the Blood Orange and Turmeric was so refreshing straight out of the fridge!

Mango Lassi is classed as a drink but it's basically a yoghurt drink and I can't describe how nice it is! I would 100% buy this again as it's the perfect dessert kind of drink after a curry - it really cools your mouth down and is gorgeously creamy!

Finally, onto the Curry in a Naan. Where do I even begin with these. Gone are the days when I will buy a boring pre-packed sandwich because these are a quick lunch game changer! They can be eaten hot or cold (although they are better hot) and they are absolutely divine! They do the Naans with Korma, Tikka, Jalfrezi and Vegetarian and I can confirm that they're all beautiful and only £2.70 each. If you check out the Tukin Foods Instagram page you'll see that I'm not the only one raving about their fresh products!

You can buy Tukin products at selected Tescos, One Stops, Co-ops, Wilko's, Nisas, Booths, Jacks and Franprix but I think the most convenient way to order is by doing it directly on the Tukin Foods website. They offer free next day delivery nationwide if you spend over £25 and if you enter my discount code: FOODIE10 at the checkout you'll also receive 10% off your order! All their foods are delivered in a box with cool packs so it reaches you in tip-top condition and it's all freezable so you can stock up to reach that free delivery threshold!

Why You Should Always Get your Car Serviced on Time

It can be so tempting to just put off that oil change or ignore that pesky engine light on the car for a few months. Taking the car in for repairs, or even regular servicing, is such a hassle for those of us who have busy lives, chaotic schedules and way too many responsibilities on our plate. While you can sometimes avoid these little checklist items without facing any real repercussions, the truth is, more often than not if you avoid getting your car serviced at the right time, it can lead to bigger problems down the line. 

That engine light may just be alerting you to a small issue that can be easily fixed, but those small issues, when ignored for lengthy periods, can lead to larger issues later. Sure, it’ll take some time, but when you find yourself faced with a huge mechanic bill, you’ll wish you had taken care of it when it was just a minor issue. For example: forgetting to put oil in your car for a few days is no big deal, but when you’ve put it off for a solid month, you could destroy your engine. The same goes for larger maintenance tasks, like an oil change, having tires rotated, and more: it might not seem like a pressing issue but it will be when you’ve messed up your alignment, have to replace an engine, or worse, get in an accident because you didn’t change your brake pads.

Photo credit: Malte Luk

One major reason that people put off car maintenance is because of the cost. Things like oil changes and tire upgrades cost money, and often we’re strapped for cash. It’s an understandable concern. If you look, however, you can find reputable mechanics and shops that will work with you, providing financing, bundle deals for getting more than one vehicle serviced or having more than one issue taken care of at once, or even free oil changes after you’ve paid for so many. Having your car serviced at a dealership that specialises in your type of vehicle can also save you cash. Some mechanics and shops are even offering discounts for key workers, such as Vauxhall Servicing for Key Workers, providing a major discount for NHS and other essential service workers. These generous shops are happy to give you a discount as a thank you for the hard work you’re doing to help others. 
It can be so tempting to just put off getting the car taken care of, but if you can afford to, don’t. Biting the bullet and getting those little things taken care of will not only take a load off of your mind as a task checked off, but will save you time and money in the long run as you avoid larger problems later. It’s an annoying responsibility, but it’s one worth doing, and doing on time. Your car (and your wallet) will definitely thank you later.