The patio is a sun trap – or it should be – but is there something that is stopping you from enjoying this space? Take a look at six small changes you can make, starting and finishing the project on the same day!

Patio

#1 Spruce up the pavers

This patio edit can be applied to any patio material, to be honest, but especially concrete.

All that rain, wind, sleet, snow, ice and sun have left their mark on the patio. From puddles drying green to stains and other detritus becoming ingrained, the best patio edit can be to give it a good scrub.

From a hands and knees job – scrubbing brush, a bucket of warm water and detergent and plenty of elbow grease – to using a jet washer, lifting the grime off the patio surface will give it an instant facelift.

Better still, do it on a breezy day and it’ll be dry by tea time, perfect for a spot of al fresco dining.

#2 Spruce up the patio furniture

Garden furniture can suffer the same fate as the patio surface. At the mercy of the weather, it can soon look tired and jaded.

Giving it a brush and a clean is the first step but then giving it a new lease of life with new soft furnishings changes its looks completely.

Rattan garden furniture is tough and durable but welcomes a little ‘extra’ to enhance its already stylish looks. Add an extra cushion or two to seating, and a throw, perfect for wrapping up in on a cooler summer’s evening.

#3 Buy a rug

Outdoor rugs vary in size and price with some starting as low as £50 for the smaller sizes and rising to over £100.

Having said that, they are a worthwhile investment as they will last several seasons. Available in a range of patterns and colours, there is sure to be a stylish outdoor rug that takes your fancy.

Can ordinary households rugs be used? Some people do use ‘normal’ old household rugs but bear in mind that when it rains, it may take the water-soaked rug a long time to dry.

#4 Add lighting

With so many variations of lighting to choose from, you won’t know where to start.

Opt for solar lights and you won’t end up with a whopping electricity bill.

  • Single ‘light bulb’ for accents – you will no doubt have seen these but these individual lights have their own solar panel on the top that charges the smaller battery sealed inside. Mimicking the traditional lightbulb shape, there are many finishes, colours and styles from those daubed in thick glitter for extra sparkle and clear bulbs. Either way, they add pretty detailing on the patio.
  • LED ‘rope’ lights – many of the LED lights on the market are sealed and suitable for use in the garden but always check. These light strings or ropes will need to be plugged in so make sure you have a safe electrical point to do so. Some systems come complete with their own remote control too or use the app on your smartphone to change light sequence, colours and to turn on and off. Start from £25 upwards depending on the kit you opt for.
  • Solar lights – simple yet effective, use solar lights around the patio to add ambience and glamour. Expect to pay £6 upwards for quality lights that last longer than a few weeks.

#5 Edge the patio

Hard landscaping trends for the garden in 2018 use two or three different hard materials so bring your patio bang up to date by cutting a small recess or moat around the edges of the patio and filling with decorative stones.

The colour is your own choice but use smaller stones as the base and then use slightly larger pebbles in a slightly different colour for contrast.

#6 Add a sail sunshade

If the patio is in full sun without shade, sitting in the sun can see you roasted within minutes.

Adding shade can be easily done by using a garden parasol but why not add a more permanent structure – one that will last the summer but take down when the chillier autumn days come – with a shade sail?

Pricier than a parasol, you ‘plant’ the four poles and then attach the sail using small pieces of rope. Shorten and lengthen the connecting ropes to create a sail of different shape, perfect for keeping the sun off your patio. Available from high street and online retailers.

Which of these six ideas will you try?

 

A leading retailer, Rattan Direct are online suppliers of stylish rattan garden furniture, from sofas to dining sets, all perfect for the patio.

Money

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Coming up with ideas that are going boost your monetary situation is so important. The first place to start is by understanding what the modern money concerns are that we are all susceptible to facing, and what can be done to address them. You have to make sure you do as much as possible to come up with ideas that will help you get a better handle on your money. These are some of the biggest modern money concerns you’re going to need to deal with, and ideas to help you deal with them!

Bills

There is no doubt you’re going to be facing a lot of bills at some point in your life. This is a fact of life that none of us can get around. In fact, it’s a good bet that a fair amount of your expenses on a monthly basis are taken up with bills. You have to remember that there is a lot to think about in this regard, and doing what you can to trim your bills is so important. Consider switching your energy provider, changing your TV package, and going a little more eco-friendly.

Rising Debt

So many people face the costs of rising debt these days, and this can be crippling. You need to make sure you figure out what you can do to deal with the costs related to this. There are so many things that can affect your debt, and one of the biggest is to kerb your spending. The average Brit has debt of around £8,000, so this is a real concern for a lot of people moving forward. Speaking with a debt management company, and trying to pay off your credit cards as fast as possible is a good approach to take.

Money

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Mortgage Payments

Mortgage payments are one of the big necessities in life if you are serious about keeping the house. There are so many expenses we could do without, but, if you are a homeowner, it is crucial to make sure you keep up with mortgage payments as much as possible. This is something you need to make sure you focus on wherever possible and make sure you cut costs in other areas so you can make your mortgage payments each month. You might even consider lowering your payments temporarily until you are in a more comfortable financial position.

Being off Work

Sometimes things happen, and we wind up being off work. Now, this could be due to ill health or some kind of workplace accident that resulted in injury. The fact remains, if you are off work for long enough this can start to adversely affect your finances. So, you need to make sure you take action to deal with this. You should consider filing for compensation for your personal injury. Now, you might be wondering, is there a catch with no win no fee? In some cases, yes, but there are a lot of reputable companies out there where this isn’t an issue, and you are no worse off if your claim is unsuccessful.

Running a Car

A car is seen as a necessity for many, and a luxury for some, but either way it is an expense that can mount up. There are some pretty hefty running costs involved in owning and maintaining a car, and this is something to keep in mind. You will need to think about the costs of fuel, as well as road tax, insurance, maintenance, and MOT. There is a lot to pay for when you own a car, and one of the best ways around this might well be to stop using your car, or at the very least cut down on your usage.

Living Costs

You have to understand that there are going to be living costs as well, and these are unavoidable. This is the cost of things like food, parking, and just everyday things that are a part of life. Now, these are costs that can’t be avoided, but they can certainly be reduced. Try your hand at something like couponing, and do as much as you can to save costs on a daily basis. The more you can do to reduce spending the more money you will be saving, and the more disposable income you will be left with.

Money

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Trying to Save

Come up with as many ideas as you can to help you save more money. Trying to save is a big concern for a lot of people, and it can be very difficult to achieve. So, you have to come up with ideas that will help you make more savings and free up more cash. There are a lot of options you can use here, and it is important to think about where you can trim costs, and how you can earn more money on a monthly basis, allowing you to free up more cash.

Taking Holidays

Though they aren’t an essential part of life, holidays are pretty important. You work hard, and there is a lot of stress in modern life, and that means you need to get away once in a while. Holidays are great for detoxing and relaxing, but the problem is that they cost money. So, the thing to do is to come up with ideas that will help you to enjoy a less expensive holiday. You could look for special offers, fly last minute, or travel off-peak if you want to be sure you’re going to get the best possible deal.

Having Kids

Having kids is the dream of a lot of people, but it is easy to overlook how expensive this can be as a venture. So many people have children and fail to recognize how much this is going to affect their finances. Kids cost money, and raising kids can put a strain on the family budget, so this is something to remember. There are a few ways around this, and you might want to think about things like hand-me-downs in order to save you some money.

Insurance Costs

Insurance is a big thing to consider in daily life, and there are a lot of different areas in which insurance is a big deal. This is something that you have to consider in order to protect you and your family in the future. Now, insurance is going to cost money, but you need to make sure you look at how to reduce your insurance costs. There are a lot of premiums that you can get at reduced costs, and this is something to consider. Insurance costs are, in some ways, a necessary evil, so you have to think about the best way of doing this.

Emergencies

Let’s be honest, emergencies happen, and we often can’t legislate for these. But this is why it is important to keep some money aside in order to cover the expenses that emergencies can cause. Whether it is the car breaking down, the roof leaking, or an emergency hospital appointment, you need to make sure you are prepared. Setting aside some money every month or so to help you account for emergencies is actually really important. This is something you need to consider moving forward, and you have to consider how best to do this.

Investing

Investments are great for providing financial security in the future, and this is something that is important to keep in mind. There are loads of great investment opportunities these days, so you need to decide what you would like to invest in. This is an important decision to make for the future, and you need to understand that this is going to cost you money. Investment is crucial for the future, and you will need to pay out now in order to make sure you benefit from it later down the line. Think about the sort of investments you would like to make, and how much money you’re going to set aside for them on a monthly basis.

Getting Married

If you are in a loving and committed relationship the odds are you’re going to want to tie the knot at some point in your life. This is so important in terms of lifelong commitment, but you have to understand that weddings are an expense. Having said that, there is no obligation to have a lavish, expensive wedding. You can have a budget ceremony and get married as cheaply as possible, and this is a great way of helping you save money and cut costs.

 

Money

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Modern money concerns plague us all sometimes, and we need to come up with ideas that help us address these and deal with them. It is so important to come up with ideas that will help you to improve your personal finances and sort out these money concerns once and for all.

Confessions of a New Mummy

Saving money is something that is usually on at least one person’s mind in wedding season. It may be the bride and groom who are concerned that costs are getting out of control. If parents are paying, they want to appear generous but also have limited funds and are looking for ways to save wedding budget without looking tight. So many couples have children already either from their current or previous relationships and don’t want to put all their financial resource into just one day even if it is their Big Day. Every item on the budget can be considered as an area where savings can be made and wedding favours is one of them. You can spend a small fortune or check out wedding favour ideas for under £1 online.

History of wedding favours

Wedding favours certainly were given to wedding guests as far back as the 16th century often simple love knots made from lace and ribbon. European aristocrats gave fancy bonbonnieres containing sweet treats.  There is a tradition around giving five almonds representing fertility, longevity, health, wealth and happiness. Most of us will probably have received coloured almonds or bon-bons in tulle at a wedding  at some point. It is a pretty little memento of a lovely day.

My wedding favours

I have to confess I did not give wedding favours at my wedding. I wanted our day to be very individual and it did not include many of the traditional elements such as a first dance for example. I had always fancied having an outdoor picnic as my reception but as my parents were elderly by the time I tied the knot, I ruled that idea out in favour of a small sit-down dinner. My flowers were simple along with the cake. I did buy 6 wedding dresses which was not how to save wedding budget but that’s a whole other story! Anyway I guess I am saying do your day your way and if one item does not bother you, why invest money in it in the first place?

Home-made wedding favours

Of course, maybe I should have given my guests something to take home with them. I was not trying to be ungenerous. I simply put the focus on giving them a lovely day rather than something to take away with them. There are so many ways to save money on wedding favours with a little creative thought. My first suggestion is that you should not fall for the fancy marketing ploys seen in wedding magazines and at wedding shows. Wedding favours do not need to be pricey. You could consider giving a really personal touch by making something yourself for your guests to take home with them after your wedding. If you are a great baker, why not produce some yummy cookies which are bound to be welcome and a talking point too. It really is the thought that counts so a home-made treat made with love matters so much more than something pre-bought. If baking is not your thing, perhaps you could use your crafting skills in some way to create a memento of your day.

Shop around

Of course brides and grooms are very busy in the run-up to the wedding so perhaps you lack the time or inclination to go down the home-made route for wedding favours. If that is the case, do shop around to see what is available out there both on and offline. Look out for voucher codes, discounts and sales as you would for any other purchase.

Be inspired by ideas from around the world

If you want your wedding favours to stand out, why not take inspiration from other countries. In Spain, gentlemen guests are sometimes presented with a cigar. In Russia, you might get a tiny picture, a trinket or a candle. Mini wedding bells are given quite often in Ireland as favours whilst in India, you may be given a hand-crafted elephant. Perhaps your wedding favours could reflect the location of the wedding in some way or the place that you and your other half fell in love. Use your imagination and have fun with deciding on the perfect wedding favours for your Big Day.

So what will you decide? Will you take a bold decision like myself and do without wedding favours entirely or is that too harsh on your guests? Will you get creative and use your existing talents to make something very personal for your wedding favours? Or will time constraints lead you to look for affordable solutions online?

On reflection, I probably would give my wedding guests favours if I ever remarried. I did remember it was important to send thank-you letters and I did have party bags for the child guests so perhaps I did not do too badly really.

What is your favourite type of wedding favour?

 

3 Little Buttons

Have you had a great tenancy? My belief is that they are not as common as they should be. When they go wrong, it is stressful for both the tenant and the landlord. Advice on having  a great tenancy should be on the school curriculum in my opinion. When I worked for Citizens Advice about a fifth of problems concerned housing which is such a shame when homes are where we should feel safe and happy.

My renting experiences

I have rented homes since leaving university. To be honest, my best  experiences were living in a rented room with a resident landlord. I think that is probably because a resident landlord obviously wants to keep their home in a good state of repair so you benefit from that as a lodger. Also I think that when you are lodging you get to know the  landlord and vice versa so you understand each other that bit better than in a traditional tenancy.

My complaint about landlords is probably mainly that they are not realistic. If you rent to a family with small children, the house will not be pristine 24 hours per day. Similarly do not rent to families with  pets unless you want to see the odd dog hair or two. Life changes from time to time so if someone loses a job there may be a delay in getting their benefits and they can’t help that. Pick the right tenant for your property and for your circumstances.

My other complaint is that landlords can be tardy to deal with repairs. That means things tend to only get worse and in the most extreme cases the wellbeing of the tenant and their family is put at risk.

I have had some good landlords but overall it has always felt that they were after money and did not really care about their tenant’s welfare at all. I find it amazing that I have never had the How to Rent  booklet that landlords are supposed to hand you when you take a tenancy with them.

The landlord’s perspective

Of course, landlords have their own pressures partly because they are maintaining more than one house with all the associated costs from mortgages to maintenance. Some tenants do behave badly causing damage or issues such as noise pollution with neighbours.  Great tenancies happen when both parties behave well and with respect. Sometimes it can be easier to have a letting agency such as HomeLet to help with this.

How to have a great tenancy

I think the first step is for both parties to act honestly and to communicate clearly. Yes there is the written tenancy agreement but it would also be good to see a good human as well as legal relationship in place too. Some things really help at the start such as reading the fuel meters together and agreeing the readings. That is one potential area for conflict sorted on day one.  Make sure the landlord or his/her agent shows you how to use the boiler and appliances, where the fuse box and stop cock is. These are so easily forgotten but you do need this information about your new place. Setting up a direct debit for rental payments is reassuring to the landlord and a great idea for the tenant as then the rent is prioritised over other  expenditure so securing their home.

Protection for tenants
  • Negotiate for the period of time you would like the tenancy for
  • Be realistic about what you can afford to pay in rent
  • Check that you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to
  • Collect proofs of identity, immigration and employment status so you have it ready for the landlord should they ask for these
  • Find out if your potential landlord is part of an accreditation scheme
  • Find out if the letting agent is accredited
  • Check out deposit protection schemes
  • Research bond and guarantee schemes to help you put your deposit together if you are struggling
  • Ensure the landlord has provided smoke and carbon monoxide monitors
  • It is a good idea to agree an inventory of the items in the house to prevent disputes later on
  • Make sure you have the landlord’s real address and find out if the property is mortgaged. I once had the not so lovely experience of a possession summons for mortgage arrears arriving on the doormat just after I moved into a house many years ago now.
  • You should be provided with a gas safety certificate, electrical inspections details and an energy performance certificate.
Who can help in a crisis?

The lovely news is that if everyone behaves with good intentions, you can have a great tenancy. If things do go wrong, you can seek support from the Citizens Advice Bureau or a specialist housing charity such as Shelter.

 

 

 

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

Cosmetic dentistry is not something I heard of as a child or teenager. My mum took me for regular check-ups with a great dentist. I loved to go and see Mr Shaw. I knew my mum had such faith in his expertise. His practice was based in Empire House and I remember going up the steps to his place and the magazines in the waiting room. He was always kind and I needed only a couple of fillings as a teenager and then some braces at one point. The best bit was that mum always bought me a present after a visit to the dentist.

Neglecting my teeth

To my shame, I let Mr Shaw and my parents down after going to university. I just did not make time for regular visits to the dentist and once you stop going it is so easy to forget about the whole dentist thing. Of course, time and age will catch up with you.

Post-natal depression

My teeth are awful. If I am honest, I hardly cleaned them at all when in the depths  of post-natal depression. Two teeth seem to be knocked back a little and they are not sparkling white. I do look after them these days but the damage is done.

Cosmetic dentistry

So for a long time, I have considered cosmetic dentistry and recently checked out Saving Faces as if anyone needs to save face it is me! It’s hard not to when the media is full of such white smiles and perfect teeth. Actually I don’t want a celebrity smile but I would like to see my own warm smile at its best again. This is one area where I might actually set money aside for myself at some point rather than for the family. I know that it would boost my confidence massively.

Taking the plunge

In fact, as I am planning a trip to Liverpool over the Summer, this may be the perfect time to not only have a fun weekend but perhaps to actually take the plunge and get my smile fixed. I did not really know what would be needed but apparently dental implants liverpool are just the ticket and a modern version of false teeth to replace my damaged ones.

Have you ever considered cosmetic dentistry? Perhaps you have had it done already and can leave me a supportive comment.

 

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