Life is short
A new focus
Shaking things up
With the first warm rays of summer shine, BBQs across the country are wheeled out of their winter hibernation. But is your garden ready for this truly-British summer activity? If not, here’s your to-do list for the upcoming summer BBQing season.
Like a room in your home, the basics of the garden need to be brought back to life. Winter is harsh on the garden so don’t underestimate the effort needed to get the basics back in shape…
It’s the obvious place to start. Come the warmer days of April, you will find that your lawn suddenly springs back into life. Mow it but don’t cut it too short.
Once you’ve done this, give the surface of the lawn a good rake and stop compaction by using a garden fork, poking the earth at regular intervals to allow air into the soil beneath.
Use a good lawn feed to give it a helping hand to become the lush green outdoor carpet you want.
Colour in the garden is supplied by the plants, from the deep green leaves to pretty colourful blooms.
Start adding colour to your garden in late May, with bedding plants in pots to support the spring bulbs. Add shrubs later in the year so they get a chance to bed in before the harshness of winter.
The stain, varnish and paint of sheds and decking take real bashing over winter, as does the paintwork on any garden benches or wooden garden furniture you have. Sand it back, removing peeling or flaking paint and, using a good quality product, add colour and protection back to the garden shed, decking, handrails and so on.
The BBQ Area
Now you have the backdrop sorted, now is the time to add the detail and that means creating a seating and dining area that your BBQ guests will just love to linger.
The dining space
From informal, stand-up-and-eat BBQs to a more formal setting, creating a specific dining or eating space is ideal if you plan on eating outdoors regularly.
There are many of doing this;
- A spacious wooden bench is ideal for extra or informal seating, perfect for enjoying a burger with all the trimmings in the sun
- Garden dining sets are improving in design, style and quality but if you intend on dining al fresco on a regular basis, investing in a decent dining table and chairs are essential. But protect your investment by covering with a waterproof protective cover n winter or store in a shed or garage.
- An outdoor sofa is also a great investment if you plan on entertaining regularly too but is also a great idea for you to relax and enjoy your garden too!
And don’t forget to accessorise with lights, cushions, throws and rugs too.
Now that the lawn is mowed, the shed painted, the plants blooming and your garden bench and dining table ready, you need to start thinking about your BBQ signature dish for the coming season.
From BBQing large chunks of meat to creating a more delicate dish for fish and seafood, there are all kinds of fantastic BBQ recipe ideas. And with May being BBQing month, it is no wonder that there are all kinds of fantastic ideas, including delicious marinades and homemade sauces.
Now that we have done all this, there remains just one thing to do: resurrect the BBQ.
This may be the year you invest in a new one. Have you considered the gas options with several burners?
Or maybe you want to stick with white-hot charcoals and the deep smoky flavour that comes with it.
Or maybe you want to completely ring the changes by building your own BBQ. Why not add a pizza oven and really impress your dining guests!
As well as the BBQ and pizza oven, the must-have garden addition for the coming summer is an outdoor kitchen. complete with running water, they make enjoying and dining outdoors super easy.
There is a lot to be said about the great British BBQ. From burnt sausages to delicious meats, seafood and marinade there is one final thing on our mind – as it always is – the weather.
Why not create a roofed seating, dining and BBQing area so you can enjoy the outdoors, no matter what the weather?
Sloane and Sons are online stockists of high-quality hardwood garden benches and accessories. They help thousands of customers to get their garden ship-shape ready for every season.
Businesses providing goods and services have always used the written word in one way or another to promote their offers to existing and potential customers. They might have taken out advertisements in local newspapers or magazines for their niche. One tractor company produced a farming magazine to attract customers. Radio soap operas were also used to promote goods to housewives. Posters and leaflets were a big part of the marketing mix and often distributed in community venues from churches, to GP surgeries to supermarkets.
In the digital age, content marketing is essential to succeed in the business world and the better your content the more word of mouth you create leading to new customers. It can be very daunting though with terms flying around that you don’t quite understand such as the Google Algorithm. There is a whole range of types of content too such as tweets, Facebook and blog posts, YouTube videos, downloadable white papers, email newsletters, webinars and website articles. It can be a lot for a business owner to get their head around whether they are pushing products, a service or indeed a blog. You can always outsource this work and take on an expert such as Content Mother to help with content, blogging and outreach.
I am sharing some content marketing tips to give you a head start.
Identifying your audience/s
Content marketing needs to be thought about and not rushed into. The first step is to identify who you want to read your content and to engage with your business. If you can produce content that tackles a burning issue or pain point they have in their lives, you are one step away from new customers. If you keep solving their problems over and over again, they will grow to know, trust and like you. Not only does that make them more likely to buy your products and services but it also encourages them to tell other people about what you do. These new people become readers and potential customers and so the momentum builds for your business fuelled by great content marketing. Listen to your team members and perhaps hold a brainstorming session to really pin down the burning issues and pain points for your customers and potential customers. For some businesses, making customers laugh or keeping them entertained can also pay dividends – it’s not all about the pain points although you could argue that we access entertainment to escape the pain points in our lives so it all ties in nicely.
What do you want your readers to do?
When producing content you should keep in mind what you want your reader to do having read what you have to say. Do you want them to give you feedback, buy a product, take up a service or something else entirely. You may even be wanting someone to fund or invest in your company. It is good to monitor results of different content pieces and to have set a target or benchmark as to what you would like to see each one produce in terms of page views, clicks on links, leads and social media shares.
Who is going to write the content?
Not everyone is a natural writer and even good writers are not necessarily wonderful at writing marketing materials. Who in your business has the skills you need? Can you access some training for yourself or a member of your team? You will need to learn about search engine optimisations and work out your focus keywords. If you are not used to content marketing, you can learn relatively quickly and that is better than just producing content with no real purpose and not backed up by effective search engine optimisation.
What are the benefits of content marketing?
If all this sounds like an awful lot of time and effort you will need to be convinced of the benefits of content marketing at best. It is all about finding your prospective customers, converting them into customers, retaining them as customers and then seeing them go out and about in the world on and offline shouting to the rafters about your amazing products and services.
In conclusion, great content marketing can bring huge traffic to your website and blog posts and convert into wonderful engaged customers that buy time and time again. If you don’t know what you are doing you can access training or take on a consultant who is already skilled in this field. Remember also that one good bit of content can be repurposed so a blog post could become a vlog and a podcast. That’s just one example of how creative we can be with content marketing.
I try to be nice. It is how I was brought up and I am pleased about that. I try to support friends and family members. I have started to wonder recently if it is possible to be too nice. Is it ever OK to say that something is not good enough? I am not sure it is yet so as ever I use my blog as my sanctuary to get some feelings out.
Here are some things that I think are not good enough in my life.
Saying it is just the way you are
This is such a convenient get out clause for bad behaviour. People can change so if you behave badly and hurt someone it is not OK to say that it is just the way you are. Or rather perhaps I can say that if that is the way you are I am not sure I want to be around you.
Not communicating information that I need to know
Sometimes I have lots of things to juggle so if there is information I need to know for my own financial and emotional wellbeing, please share it. I find I handle things better when I have information even if it is unwelcome information or means hard times are ahead.
My late mother always said she could handle anything except lies and I think I am the same. Don’t tell me you did not set up profiles on websites if you did. Don’t say you were not somewhere when you were. Don’t tell me time and distance prevented my brother seeing myself and my children when that is so clearly not true as that same (now dead) brother found time to travel the world during the very time he chose not to see me or my children. That’s fine by me but don’t abuse my intelligence by saying it was otherwise please.
Don’t claim to be a friend if the reality is you don’t want to see me again
Friends see each other perhaps not often but sometimes. Or that’s my definition of friendship anyway. There are so many people I would love to see again and through Facebook and so on you really start to think they would be the same but find out actually you just don’t matter to them that much. And that’s a shame. You will keep some because you love them anyway of course but friendship to me means sharing and ideally making new memories together.
So what is this post about? Perhaps I am moving on to a new place in my life where certain people are making me feel so very good about myself. Now I am less isolated, perhaps I am choosing to put up with less poor behaviours. It seems I can have positive people in my world even if family members and old friends are not around for me.
Perhaps I am just entering a new chapter. A time when I look after myself more and focus on those who actually want to treat me well. Perhaps it is about time.
Is it ever OK to say something is not good enough? I guess the truth is we have to set our own standards of what is and what is not good enough. In fact it is all about being honest about that, communicating it and being a good friend to ourselves.
Don’t like what I have written? Oh sorry – it is just the way I am!
I want to write about the reasons I struggle with home education because it will stop the thoughts and feelings whirring in my head so much. I am not against home education but I really struggle on almost a daily basis so I want to share the reasons why that is the case.
It wasn’t my choice
I am freedom-loving by nature and I did not choose home education as such. It chose me when my daughter was bullied by pupils and her Head Teacher. I was interested in home educating when I became a mother but my husband ruled it out so I went down the traditional route placing my children in schools. When my daughter was threatening self-harm that had to change and quickly in her case and her brother did not feel he should go to school if she did not. Perhaps I gave in too easily in his case but it was a very stressful time. That’s just the first reason I struggle with home education.
I have a lot on
The truth is that the bulk of housework falls on my shoulders. I try so hard to keep the house clean and tidy but with dogs in particular and children too that can be challenging. I seem to go from room to room spotting dirty surfaces, floors that need sweeping/steaming, toilets that need flushing/cleaning and so on. It is endless and soul-destroying.
I am also not in the privileged position of having a husband on a great wage so I need to make money. I have the flexibility of freelancing but also the pressure of constantly having to find work which has been in short supply recently.
I do think it is important that there is something of me left in the mix too to avoid collapsing into depression so I am taking more time out to read, listen to music and so on.
My children have different learning styles
I think I could do OK if I was home-educating just one child but I have two on this journey and they have very different needs and learning styles. My daughter is like me, able to decide what her passions are and to pursue them with impressive focus. She is quite self-sufficient but I worry that she is doing things she likes rather than covering all the things that would be covered in a school environment. My son has passions too but would spend all his time gaming if I let him. He likes to learn with me cuddled up doing work-sheets or whatever. I struggle with home education because I do not know how to balance their needs.
I don’t know what I am doing
I don’t have teaching qualifications. I am relatively bright and I had a good education but how does this equip me to teach my children adequately? I veer between being convinced of different schools of thought regarding home education anything from leave them to their own devices and see what emerges through to a focus on the National Curriculum. Then I get myself in a tizz wondering why we need to know the stuff in the National Curriculum most of which seems fairly irrelevant to life skills and jobs except in the most specialist areas. Then I convince myself I am neglecting my children by taking them out of school in the first place. Then I start envying parents who send their children to school or even put them in boarding school so they can leave it to the perceived experts and not have to worry too much. I don’t know what is the right or wrong thing to do or even if such things exist.
I get very little help
As with so many areas of life, I get very little help from my husband who initially said he would take on the maths and science teaching. In three years or so that has equated to two kitchen science experiments and a few maths worksheets. I am a baby I suppose but I just feel like screaming and do sometimes “It’s not fair!”
Don’t get me wrong! I do think home education has loads to offer and I see other parents carrying it off with aplomb. It can be magical and I want it to be for us but I am in the mix so perhaps that is impossible.
Well, I am glad I got that off my chest and will be sharing wobbles from other home education parents soon.