This is a question that I have struggled with my whole life, but as I am now older, I seem to settle for comfort rather than the excitement and unknown that I would find in travelling.
This blog started out as a trave tips blog, and after a recent re-vamp, I hope that it will continue in that vein, but I also wanted to add tips on home improvement, renovation and decoration, as that seems to be more of a focus these days.
House renovation is also a way of adding value to a home, and I am very aware of the benefits of improving real estate as an investment. By doing work myself or getting quality craftsmen to work for good negotiated prices I can live in a better place, while adding value and comfort to my home.
I hope you find value in this blog, and please send me your ideas and contributions, so that we can stay current with new technology, trends and ideas.
To travel or not to travel. Why not do both? If you follow my lead, you can travel in style for less, but still have a welcoming and comfortable home to come back to!
Below I have selected 2 videos, one about travel and another about improving your nest. Which are you more attracted to?
A rewarding holiday destination
Mystery, civilizations rising and falling, the place of birth for Judaism, Islam and Christianity, this is in just a few words, the Middle East. Resembling a huge open air museum, the ancient cities hosted by the Middle East are the perfect place for a once in a lifetime holiday. Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Turkey, with their cities like Cairo, Casablanca, Damascus, and Istanbul will charm you with their special perfume, their history, their customs and traditions. The Middle East is the place where the modernity found its place between the ancient buildings, vestiges of the old civilization that brought life to these regions. The Middle East is also the place where antagonist landscapes meet: the sand dunes of the Sahara desert with the world of the Red Sea, the imposing mountains and the small, palm fringed lakes in Libya.
Exploring the cities of the Middle East
Cairo is known as being the oldest destination for tourists in the world, the place where one of the Seven World Wonders is still present, always ready to remind us of the former civilizations that created our world. When you visit the Sphinx and the Pyramids, everything you can do is to agree with Herodotus, who called them “The eternal gift of the Nile”. The country that has the longest history recorded on paper is also the cradle of civilization, a gate to Africa and has Cairo as the capital. Cairo is the only capital in the world where routes leading to Asia, Africa and Europe meet. However, you’ll find in Cairo a city with chaotic traffic rules, jammed with people and cars, but a lively city, a vibrant one, which is not formed just by dunes, sand and pyramids. There are hundreds of sightseeing monuments and places that need your attention, as Cairo is not the city where you can afford missing something; it’s simply a beautiful place, unique in the world that asks you to discover it step by step. Start with the Citadel of Saladin, where you will find the ancient mosque known as the “Mohammed Ali Mosque” and the tomb of Mohammed Ali. The Hanging Church is also worth visiting, as it was built between two towers; the glass that lies at your feet once you enter the monument will allow you to see the ground that lies under. King Tut and his Sarcophagus, the Pyramid in Giza, the Sphinx, the Nile River, and the Papyrus factory are also places where you definitely want to go.
The list of your holiday destinations must also include Istanbul, the only city in the world situated on two different continents that will enchant you with its mosques, the Grand Bazaar and the impressive Topkapi Palace. Continue your adventure in the Middle East with Damascus, the city where the modern culture is trying to make its way between the ancient quarters of the city; it is in these quarters that people live their lives just like it used to be lived centuries ago. There are also other cities in the Middle East that are worth visiting and they will all impress you with their special charm and flavor, so characteristic of this wonderful part of the world. Regardless of the city you choose to visit for your adventure in the Middle East, just make sure that you surround yourself with the special air of this place and its history, as this can be a life changing experience.
This year I decided to follow the example of my good friend and neighbour John Morley. He threw his lawn mower in the junk and gave me his lawn food, weed and feed, edging tools and sprinkler, and moved over to the dark side. The dark side in this case is to install artificial, or synthetic grass in place of his regular lawn.
He got tired of the brown patches, constant weeding and feeding, and struggling to keep the kind of lawn that anyone would want to sit on during the warm summer evenings. I said I would never give up my natural lawn, but 1 year on, and looking at the results, I have decided to do the same.
Put simply, synthetic grass, also popularly known as artificial grass, is a carpet developed creatively to match the natural grass. It’s mainly composed of synthetic materials. Its first use in sports dates back to 1960s in Astrodome which is in Houston, Texas. It was quite a landmark in the history of sports. Today, it’s not only used in sports but also in landscaping which extends to residentials, businesses, terraces, gardens, public parks, name it.
Design and construction
Synthetic grass has been designed to cut down maintenance and other costs for sports management firms, businesses, and homeowners. It’s intricately engineered with polyethylene/ polyurethane fibers tufted to a backing for maximum durability. On the market today, you will come across various types of synthetic grass products all designed to fit different purposes and uses. And with the continued growth in technology, it continues to improve in both looks and feel making it even much better than natural grass.
Watch the video below to see how easy it is to install
If all of that back breaking work seems too much and you would rather pay somebody to take care of it for you, there are more and more local businesses springing up that are specialising in the supply and installation of artificial turf. The company local to me that my buddy John used for his synthetic lawn is called Lawn Frog, they have a very informative website, and I am sure there is a similar business close to you that can do the same.
Purpose and uses
As we’ve already mentioned, artificial grass serves a variety of purposes. So let’s examine it uses in the different areas.
A sports turf is composed of different components. The quality and features of the pitch mostly depend on each of these elements. A permeable material together with a drainage system wrapped up with crushed stone/lava make up the sub base. Above it, there’s a shock-absorbing layer. Then at the top, there’s the synthetic grass.
Today, the final application comes in different forms, from sand-dressed, sand-filled, non-filled, sand and rubber filled plus many other forms. It also comes in different heights.
It’s safe to say that there isn’t much difference when it comes to playing characteristics. Both natural and synthetic grass share similar characteristics on the same. This comparison is supported by such measurable facts as ball rebounce, ball roll, and shock absorption
Its advantages to sports have been tremendous. No mud or puddles; the pitch stays perfect, stable and green at all times; no mowing, sowing, fertilizing, and so much more.
Residential areas, businesses and commercial areas, and other establishments also use synthetic turf for their various purposes. Construction techniques and materials have been very key to the quality of the grass used in these areas. Many families use synthetic turfs for their yards since it’s in many ways great for pets, children and play.
Businesses too use it for their yards. It adds a green and natural look which coupled with minimal maintenance makes it quite a great investment for commercial establishments. Instead of giving so much attention to property upkeep, synthetic grass has contributed in businesses focusing more on productivity.
Besides it transforming such establishments and the residential areas, it can also be used to transform parks, gardens, terraces and many other areas. Its safety and durability make it the perfect choice for such uses.
In summary, synthetic grass is basically an alternative to natural grass that has proven itself much better and convenient for sports, residential and commercial purposes. Its uniqueness sets it apart and it’s for this reason that it continues to grow in both use and popularity.
Artificial grass has changed massively in recent years. I recommend you take a look for yourself and see if you are tempted by the lure of the perfect lawn.
Well it’s the time of year when I start to think less about working on my house and more about getting away for a few days and enjoying some spring sunshine.
I saw this on my daily newspaper website and thought it worth posting here. There are so many cheap deals available and some fabulous cities within a couple of hours flying time that we are almost spoiled for choice.
And the exchange rate between the £ and the euro is still really good, so I recommend you to take a look at some of the value city breaks available before the kids get out of school for the summer holidays, and the prices go up.
At that time I will be spending more time in the garden and working on my ever expanding deck, which gives me an idea for another blog post!
For all those people out there who want to create a new look in their kitchen using least amount of money, replacement kitchen doors are a very good option. By just replacing the kitchen door one saves their time, money and headache of doing a kitchen all over again. These are fitted into the already installed kitchen cabinets. This is comparatively a cheaper alternative than removing the whole kitchen.
It is suitable when your old kitchen condition is good and it just need an upgrade. The firms doing this business have a wide variety of door types and colours, in made to measure sizes. From the traditional kitchen to modern kitchen, everything is available within the range of the customers. The traditional kitchen door options include hand painted shaker kitchen door or solid oak kitchen doors.
Things you need to keep in mind before buying kitchen doors
As a customer, you should ask for a sample of the kitchen door first that you like to before buying the whole new set in order to see whether it matches to your requirements or not. Your local kitchen upgrade specialist will advise you on the types available, and can supply samples and colour charts as needed.
You also have the option at this point to upgrade your worktops, lighting, tiling, flooring etc, however, the main point here is that you have given your old tired kitchen a completely new look for a fraction of the price of new, by just replacing the doors and drawers.
One of the main advantage of replacing kitchen doors are that we can choose a design, colour and size to get a well deserved kitchen makeover, a brand new feel, style and look, and it takes just a couple of days to complete, and with much less mess.
You can of course do much of the work yourself, and just order the doors from a supplier. The video below shows the best way to measure your cabinets to ensure you order the correct size.
Installation of kitchen doors
The installation of kitchen doors is a cumbersome task and requires a lot of time and efforts and should be performed by the experts in this field. A kitchen can be fully renovated using these kitchen doors. It gives a fresh look to the old kitchen. The measurement of existing doors is also very important.
So if your kitchen is starting to wear out, hinges and drawers not working properly, looking old fashioned and tired, but the cabinets are still in good order, and you are happy with the layout of the kitchen, then contact a local kitchen door supplier for a quote and get your new designer look kitchen for less.
Having a fire place in the home during winter makes it quite bearable, comfortable and settling. Although there are newer forms of heating systems that are being installed in many homes, the chimney and of course a real fire is the most cost-effective and energy saving way to heat the home while still adding some old-fashioned architectural décor to the home.
Despite the advantages, the fireplace comes with other responsibilities too. The dangers that a fire can cause to any structure if it is not well attended to are enormous. That is why you should get to know about preventive and maintenance methods for your chimney.
As a result of the burning wood and coal, fire emits smoke and debris which travels up the chimney creating the smoky chimney that many love to see. With time, the soot and debris get trapped in the chimney creating a real danger in your home.
With the above in mind, it is important to have the chimney regularly inspected for proper maintenance. When this is done, the condition of the unit is known and ensures that it is working well and any improvements needed are taken care of. This will always ensure that your chimney is safe to use.
After the inspection, do take note of any advice that the inspectors have offered and adopt the recommendations. One of the major recommendations is to have a chimney sweep. It is advisable to clean your chimney at least once or twice per year and you should always engage professional and experienced chimney sweeps to do the job for you.
If you are not able to locate a chimney sweep in your area, try calling other local tradesmen. Very often your local handyman or solid fuel fire installer or distributor can do this for you, or at least will have a list of professionals you can call on. You can also contact the National Chimney Sweeps Guild for advice and a list of registered professionals.
The following are the 4 Major reasons on why you should sweep your chimney:
A clean chimney increases efficiency thus heating your home effectively.
The accumulated soot if not swept decreases the size of the flue making it difficult for the smoke to move upwards. This creates odors, smoke in the home and blackens the fireplace and adjacent décor. Sweeping removes this soot.
Health Benefits A clogged chimney contains harmful fumes that can cause very serious damage to your lungs. When the chimney is swept, the fumes are able to escape fully and have less contaminated air in the home.
Chimney Maintenance and Fire Protection
The soot if not removed for sometime could develop acidic qualities. This can corrode the chimney and destroy it making it dangerous to use. Moreover, it can easily create a chimney fire, which might crack your pot calling for replacement. The serious result of this problem can be losing your home permanently due to the fire.
Avoid Chimney Blockage
Warm and moist air travels through the chimney and the area becomes very conducive for birds to live in when the fire place is not in use. Birds tend to make nests in this area and cause serious blockage with these homes. This means that the next time the fire is lit, the smoke is unable to exit safely. This leads to the negative effects mentioned above.
The above are just a few but very important reasons to sweep your chimney. When the chimney is clean, it increases efficiency and uses less wood or coal thus saving you money. More important, your home is safe and you are able to enjoy the crackling fire during the winter season.
Keeping a clean chimney is one of those jobs that is easy to put at the bottom of your to do list, it seems that the money could often be spent somewhere else, but be assured that many houses and lives are lost each year due to unswept and unsafe chimneys. Your families health may be at stake, so call your local chimney sweep today and organise your annual safety check.
So you need a new boiler or heating system for your home, and you are considering one of the green options, staying away from coal and oil. But which to choose?
If you have the option to get efficiency with thriftiness, would you grab it in seconds or would you opt for something that will cost you more in the end?
It’s the same with wood pellet stoves, because although there are lots of stoves that are out in the market right now, a wood pellet stove will give quality heat for your home during cold season while saving money which would normally spent in oil and gas.
What are wood pellet stoves?
A wood pellet stove is a hearth machine that makes use of wood pellets as its fuel. They are fed into a hopper that serves as its storage compartment and they are then carried by the auger to the chamber for the burning process where it releases heat energy to be distributed in the whole house.
This type of stove can be located anywhere in the house so it can supply the amount of heat needed for your home but make sure to follow the clearance set by your local building between the stove, ceilings, floors, and walls for fire safety purposes.
While there are other types of fuel that can be fed to stoves such as cherry pits, corn, grains, and wheat, wood pellets are considered to be more economical, and also, when it comes to helping the environment, these pellets are by products of sawdust that would historically have just been discarded.
The ashes from these pellets can still be recycled as fertilizers which helps not only the consumers and manufacturers but the community as well.
Since this type of stove depends on electrical energy, it will not work when there is a power outage, however some models have a built-in battery unit, and if your area regularly suffers from outages, make sure to have a generator as a backup.
Like any other equipment, wood pellet stoves requires maintenance to maximize its life span. It is important to understand how to clean its components as mis-use may damage the equipment and may also lead to hazardous situations. Wood pellets are known to be a bit messy compared to other fuels but this can be properly managed by using the built-in ash drawers and ash traps that serves as a filter for an easy cleaning process.
Pellet or Wood Burning Stoves?
So would you be better with a pellet stove or a wood burning stove? There are definately advantages to both systems. As you already know from this article, pellet burners are fed automatically, super efficient, and can work on several types of fuel. A wood burner stove is limited only to wood, and certain types of wood at that. They are less efficient, and need to be constantly supplied with fuel to keep them hot and heating your house. But they look great in a room, give you that open flame feel, and from a feel good point of view, they are hard to beat. It all depends on what you are looking for in a stove.
Lastly, you may want to have a checklist on the things that you must consider to be important before purchasing your wood pellet stove. Check your budget for the price of your stove plus if there will be a cost for installation. Also be aware that the more features it has, the higher the price it will be.
So whether you opt for a pellet stove or a more traditional log burning stove, my advice is to go for the best quality model in your price range, and purchase a stove from one of the biggest and trusted manufacturers. You will probably find also, that the better equipment, and the more expensive models will give you trouble free, and eco friendly home heating for many years to come.
It is a well accepted fact that travel has a rejuvenating effect on the body. For many years people have been longing to explore the far reaches of the world to see different cultures and sight. It’s something that every hard working person longs for.
A vacation has the ability to de-stress, wind-down and regain your energy, your motivation and your inner drive. It helps to build positive thought and enthusiasm, and give us memories that can last a lifetime.
So what are some of these benefits?
People that travel as a couple, who are in a relationship, find that the experience of travelling together cements their bond and leads to a happier and even healthier relationship, is a romantic experience, and help with good communication.
A new environment, new experiences, such as food, drink and cultures is known to relieve stress and tension. It get’s you away from the daily grind, the regular routine, gives you something different to think about and plan for. A change is as good as a rest they say, and travelling and meeting new people could be the tonic you need.
Getting out of doors, breathing fresh air and having new experiences is great therapy. Breaking habits and routines even for just a few days can be as good as getting an extra nights sleep.
Fill your lungs with fresh air and get some vitamin D from the sun on your skin (taking the necessary precautions of course), get back to nature and enjoy the countryside. Just thinking about it is calming too.
Usually a vacation means walking, swimming, maybe even dancing and always sight seeing. Even a beach holiday could involve volley ball or snorkelling. A holiday means exercise, physical activity that you normally miss out on. Sitting at a desk all day is not good for your health, so a vacation breaks you out of the routine and improves your health.
A vacation, especially in foreign countries, forces you to try new foods, experience new flavours, eat out in restaurants and beach bars, trying new drinks and snacks. Forget microwave food and frozen dinner, and think fresh ingredients, local cuisine and excellent service.
What could be better?
Dig in to the culture
Meeting people from other countries and cultures is a great way to understand the world, and appreciate our own lives. Learning to appreciate how other people live and work is an experience that is hard to put a price on.
So go on…. book your next holiday, go somewhere different, exotic, breathtaking, and one more thing.. remember to take a camera!
So where to start. You have decided to begin working on your house, to turn it into the home that you desire, so make it energy efficient, weatherproof, hi-tech, more valuable, and most of all, the type of place that you are proud to call home.
And better yet, how do you do that on a tight budget? Even if you have unlimited funds, it is better from an investment point of view to get the most for your money.
Sure, you can modernize the inside with new floors, a paint job and updated appliances, but it will not matter if the house looks junky from the curb. No one wants to see a bunch of dead bushes, grass stained siding and a three-foot high lawn.
You will want someone to drive by your home and say, “I love THAT house.” Sounds easy, right? There is going to be some time and expense but it does not have to break the bank.
Several inexpensive ways to dress up your house costing nearly nothing is to do simple chores, like mowing your lawn, trimming up the bushes (or removing dead ones), hosing down the siding to rid the siding of nasty grass stains.
Laying out some rock or mulch around the bushes will cost a little money, but the turnout will be worth it. Also by adding color with a couple flower baskets at the front door. If you lack a green thumb (as I do), flowers would not be a good option; however, paint does wonders.
A couple coats of a beautiful color that pops can make all the difference, not to mention inviting. If you are determined to have flowers, it is not uncommon to have fake flowers outside, they are easy to take care of and quite lovely!
Even having a welcoming doormat at the front door to greet potential buyers as they cross the threshold will make a huge difference. Details speak loudly, by adding a cute doorbell cover or pleasant sounding wind chimes to entice a future buyer. A seasonal wreath is also a nice touch to a plain door. It will add homely character to your home.
Lawn lights are a beautiful and inexpensive way to brighten up any walk way or driveway. You can pick up several of them at most stores for a reasonable price. They even come plain, simple lights or more elaborate colored-glass lights.
If you have a deck on your home it would be helpful to dress it up a little bit. Make it look like a wonderful place to gather with your friends and family for summer cookouts or even just a nice bonfire to relax. You could place some flowers on the edges, a hummingbird feeder and comfortable chairs with a coordinating umbrella.
There are a few things that can make the outside of your home look great. If there are broken window blinds and torn curtains you need to make a change. You will benefit from nice, sturdy blinds, in addition to attractive, up-to-date curtains.
Start with the simple stuff, and get more adventurous with your projects as you go. Remember, a clean and tidy well maintained house is going to keep it’s value longer, and give you a sense of pride to own.