Autumn in the UK

It is autumn here in the UK which is actually not a bad time of the year, I have come to realise. I am in the north which is usually a bit colder than the southern parts, but less cold than the far north like Scotland.

Anyway I am just posting to keep the blog updated and say I am actually enjoying the autumn sighs, especially the leaves in all their colours. As soon as they have all fallen I will used my favourite service for gutter cleaning in Manchester.

If you have trees above your home and are not able to clean them yourselves, it is worth having someone in to clean your gutters. That way things don’t get clogged up when you least expect it, as happened with my neighbour last winter.

Anyway I am going back to enjoying my autumn by taking a walk later with the dog, hopefully we will find someone roasting some chestnuts. That would make my day. I wonder if dogs like chestnuts?

Below are some nice scenes from autumn in the UK for anyone not here:

Choosing a Nursing Home in Wrenbury or close by

My Mum and Aunties cousin, who lives in Wrenbury, has recently taken a turn for the worse. She lost her husband last year and since then has really struggled to cope. They were always very close and we would see them every Christmas and a couple of other times a year.

They were so close that we began to merge their names. Shirley and Headley became Shedley. I would always say things like “will be seeing Shedley today?” and the whole extended family knew what I meant. Anyway this closeness seems to been the undoing for Shirley in the end.

It seems like she was completely reliant on Headley for many things. When he died she just didn’t know how to cope. She was lost after being with home for something like 40 years. Her mind has gotten worse and worse and my Mum and Aunt have been searching for a care home for her.

After a lot of searching around in the area they settled on a nursing home in Wrenbury which was very close to Shirley’s home. Apparently they have had to do a “soft move in” as she didn’t want to leave her home. But after a week of moving between the home and her home, she seems very settled now.

I’ve not been to visit yet but apparently Shirley’s state of mind has improved, she was very confused and agitated all the time before. My Mum says the home is very nice, with a good garden and a cosy living room.

Anyway I just wanted to post this update really for selfish reasons, so that it reminds me to go and visit Shirley soon. I hope it will also get into my subconscious too, that letting my significant other rely on me for too much could be a bad thing in the future.

Switching from a Car to a Bicycle

Having been overweight for as long as I can remember I have never been completely happy with my shape. Now that I work from home and live near to the town centre, I decided to switch from owning a car to riding a bicycle.

Of course there are many times when a bicycle isn’t going to work, especially with the UK weather. So I decided to downgrade my car for occasional use and buy a mountain bike for everyday use.

First stop was to see what I could get for my car and buy a new one. I managed to get a good price for my Ford Focus on Auto Trader. Then I went hunting for a replacement. I found a Fiesta a couple of years older which would leave me plenty of money to get a good bike.

When I got to the showroom, the Fiesta was nice but a little boring. For just a little extra I saw a more powerful GTI Golf. It was older but I trust this garage as I have used them before. My thinking was that even if the Golf cost more to run, at least I wouldn’t be using it as often. In a way the more fun, faster car would be a treat for occasional use.

cars for sale in blackpool

This is where I got my new (used) car

Next I bought a bike and being a bargain hunter I went for the cheap option. It was rubbish. You really get what you pay for and the cheap option for £90 looked but but in reality it was junk. I took it back the next day and they offered me a better one.

I’m not going to mention the shop as I have mixed feelings. On the one hand they were happy to let me exchange the bike. On the other hand I think they knew the first one was rubbish and hadn’t mentioned that to me in the first place.

Anyway I’ve been cycling a lot recently, weather permitting. It is really a breath of fresh air, pun intended. I feel like I am getting fit and being healthy for once. The best part is that I actually enjoy cycling. In the past I have never been into sports or the gym.

Cycling is rather invigorating and it is getting me out of the house a lot more. I find I pop out to the shops or a cafe a mile away everyday now. So in a way it is improving my quality of life too. Also my fiancee says that my bum is getting firmer, proof that cycling is doing good things to my body. I’ve not noticed the pounds shedding off yet but the more longer rides I do, the quicker this will happen. The weather will be getting better and better from now on with summer approaching so I’ve been checking out some suitable countryside routes.

For anyone else thinking of switching to cycling more I can highly recommend it. Just make sure you get a good quality bike. I’ll probably upgrade soon as the one I have now still isn’t great, the chain has come off a few times and I cracked one of the pedals the other day. Make sure you have a good mud guard too to prevent splashes on trousers.

A Boracay Holiday Review

Boracay is an island in the Philippines. We have just got back from a great holiday there, so I thought I’d do a quick review on the place.

This is one of those postcard perfect beach destinations with amazing water and sand. It really is powdery white and the water has no rocks so it looks great.

boracay review

Food wise we had a mixed bag. We tried two of the buffet type places in Station 2 (central area of the beach) which were cheap, filling but not great. We had a great Greek meal at Cyma in D’Mall. We had some tasty barbecue meats from the little stalls. There is certainly a great selection available and if you use Trip Advisor to screen restaurants first, you will be able to eat very well.

Hotels range from backpacker joints up to world class 5 star resorts. We stayed in a mid range place for 3,000 Pesos a night which was fine. Again if you use Trip Advisor you will find a place for your needs. I believe staying in Station 3 (south) is best for low to mid range hotels and Station 1 (north) is where more high end hotels are based.

Whilst on Boracay massage is a must. We visited Bella Isa spa twice which was great. We also had a couple on the beach too. There are various areas set aside for this and it is perfect at sunset.

Sunsets can be great and we sipped a cocktail or San Miguel beer at sunset time most nights. It is so relaxing to just sit back in a comfy chair, curl your toes in the sand and watch the sun set as the sailing boats pass by.

My verdict on this place is that you should definitely check it out. There is quite a bit of travel involved to get there, but it is well worth it. We hope to return one day.


How to Make Your Lounge Better Cheaply

I have picked up one or two simple ways of making a lounge or living room better over the years, so here are a few tips you might find useful.

Get a bargain rug

I always used to assume that rugs were quite expensive when I saw price tags in the shopping mall. Then one day I did a quick search online for “bargain rugs” and discovered an amazing variety for low prices.

Obviously the problem with shopping this way is that you can’t touch the rugs before buying or see them for real. But if you don’t like what you get you can just use it in a spare bedroom or something. For £30 or $45 you have a pretty decent rug which will transform a lounge.

Get a TV screensaver or two

This is a recent discovery when I started looking for ideas for my new media player. There are now a few really good TV screensavers out there on sites like Uscenes which are optimised for HD televisions.

I bought a fireplace and two aquariums for about $10. I just click the repeat button and let them play for hours when eating, reading or chatting. They make great use of a good TV when you are not watching anything.

Create your own canvas or framed photos for the wall

cheap way to improve your lounge

The picture above is actually one I bought on my holiday a while ago. But you get the idea- a photo is placed on a background which juts out from the wall. Very simple but very attractive and far better than an old fashioned photo frame.

You can also have someone make you a canvas version which look more impressive. Do a quick search online and you will easily find options. I’m not sure if the high street photo processing shops do this.

For good deals on lounge furniture I can recommend John Lewis and Fabulous Furniture. John Lewis always has good products, it is a site I just trust to buy from. Fabulous Furniture has some great larger pieces and unusual bits and bobs.

Thailand Holiday Review

Our most recent trip abroad was to Thailand. We had been planning this one for many months. It was a 3 week trip which began in Phuket, then over to Railay in Krabi, finally we stopped off in Bangkok for a few days.


This is an area which really seems to divide travellers. Some say it is paradise, others say it is an overcrowded, overpriced tourist trap. Anyway there are now flights here from the UK and plenty of different beaches to stay, so we decided to try it out.

Kata Noi Beach

Kata Noi Beach

I was doing the planning and I decided we would start at a quite beach. One which seemed to look quite was Kata Noi (just south of the main Kata beach). We stayed there for a few days in the Kata Noi Resort. The prices were very cheap compared to the 4 star hotel which takes up most of this beach. If you need a room around the £40 mark then you won’t find better than Kata Noi Resort.

The beach was actually far more crowded than expected and there wasn’t much going on in the area. It was still an ideal way to start the trip for a few days. We did some sightseeing and the beach itself was very attractive. Although the water was dirty at times.

kamala palms swimming pool.

kamala palms swimming pool.

Our next stop was Kamala which is about 30 minutes drive north. The beach here certainly wasn’t as nice. But we used this more central location to do more sightseeing. We stayed at the Kamala Palms which didn’t start well but got better. There was a bad smell in the room when we first arrived and the cleanliness levels weren’t great. That improved though and we loved the fact that out suite was on the ground floor next to the walk in pool- very luxurious.

From Kamala we did various things like the night market (enormous), Patong for a show, mini golf in Bang Tao (excellent) and more. Just 5 minutes away is Surin beach which was far nicer.


We took a taxi to Ao Nang in Krabi and then a 10 minute boat ride to Railay West beach. This place looks great with a sweeping bay surrounded by cliffs. We loved staying here even though the hotel could of been better.

We stayed at the Railay Bay Resort who gave us a room which blasted in a strong smell of raw sewage on the first night. We asked to be changed and thankfully they did give us another room. But we never received an apology for the inconvenience. The next day we saw someone else in the sewage room so that really rubbed me the wrong way. I believe they don’t care about customers at all. Also the beds were really hard here too.

Unfortunately bad service seems to be the norm on Railay. All three restaurants had poor service. We also has a problem on walking street at one of the shops, so don’t buy anything there! Very rude service. There are more eating options on the East side but that place is nasty. If we went back we would stay in Ao Nanag and just visit Railay on a day trip. Railay and the nice beach around the corner are overcrowded with day trippers and I think that is what has led to bad service and high prices in general.


I wasn’t looking forward to this last leg of the trip. However we were absolutley delighted with the Chatrium hotel. This was a 5 star hotel only slightly more expensive than the 2 star Railay Bay Resort. The difference was amazing. We were upgraded to suites and treated like VIPs. It was a great experience to stay here and I wan’ted to stay on for another week or two in the hotel.

high tea at the Chatrium hotel Bangkok

afternoon tea at the Chatrium


Bangkok was hot and I gave up on the sightseeing within minutes lol. We did enjoy visiting Chinatown and the malls but I really can’t comment on the temples and stuff, just wasn’t my cup of tea in the heat. We enjoyed the city, shopping was best at Asiatique just down the road from the Chatrium. MBK mall was best for buying presents and souvenirs for reasonable prices.

All in all we loved Thailand. We can highly recommend the first and last hotels. The Chatrium was especially good for around £90 a room, don’t hesitate if it is slightly out of your budget, it really is worth it.

Does Gastric Band Hypnosis Work?

My wife has been battling with her weight for years. Jean isn’t really too overweight but she has always been unhappy with her shape. Her latest attempt was the so called virtual gastric band hypnosis. As you probably know gastric band surgery is not something that can be done through hypnosis but these audio sessions claimed to have a similar effect.

What is gastric band hypnosis?

Obviously it is all in the mind and what it sets out to do is limit your food intake mentally instead of physically.  The audio recordings relax you first of all so that you are almost in a trance between sleep and consciousness. Then subliminal messages are fed into your head. I gave it a listen and have to say it is quite a nice experience- very calming. It might be placebo but I didn’t feel hungry for quite a while afterwards.

So, did it work?

Jean tried the gastric band hypnosis CD from Self Hypnosis UK ( She chose this one because the recordings are done by a female hypnotherapist with a British accent. I’ve had a quick look at the site and they seem to be well trained in hypnotherapy. There are plenty of mentions of qualifications and certifications.

At first she was a bit mad as she said it wouldn’t work. She emailed Self Hypnosis UK and they gave her some advice. Something along the lines of keeping an open mind and being positive about change. Anyway she persisted and after a few days I realised she was eating less. I asked if it was the CD working and she shrugged and said she just wasn’t hungry.

It has been 3 weeks now and she is eating less all the time. She said she has come to the realisation that the CD has made a massive difference and she feels that she is already loosing weight.

Jean’s gastric band hypnosis review:

“The CD really has worked! I am eating less and eating more fruit than before. Listing to the recording has helped keep it in my mind what I want- to be thinner. Once I opened up to it, eating became less of an obsession and health and happiness became my main focus”

A Little Trip To Disneyland in Hong Kong

We have just got back from a little holiday in Hong Kong. This is my favourite place in Asia because everything seems much nicer. Most cities are hot and crowded with too much traffic but Hong Kong is airy and pleasant even in the busiest districts.

This time we stayed in Discovery Bay which is very close by to Disneyland on Lantau. In case you are not familiar with HK, Lantau Island is separate from the main island but easily accessed. When you arrive at the Hong Kong International airport you actually land on Lantau. This makes staying in Discovery Bay even more appealing.

The area is a tourist spot turned residential district. I think it was planned as a holidaymakers area but cancelled at the last minute. So it isn’t full of hotels. Discovery Bay is a great place to stay though and I wouldn’t mind living there one day. Anyway it was a quick drive everyday to Disneyland where we had lots of fun.


Hong Kong’s Disneyland isn’t as large as in the States but it is very well run, like most things in Hong Kong. We enjoyed the activities and rides. There was plenty to keep us entertained for 2 full days. We spent our last day relaxing in Discovery Bay which was pleasant. Our local friend also gave us a quick tour of Lantau Island which is worth checking out.

If you have kids then I can highly recommend this Disneyland. It is really easy to get to and very clean/well managed. Click here for their website.

Now we are back home I have enrolled our youngest kid in swimming lessons so that she is able to join in the fun in the pool next time we go away. I’ve linked the provider as they have been great and come highly recommended for anyone else who lives in this part of the North West.

Save Money When Getting a New Driveway

This post is all about money saving tips for anyone that needs a new driveway for their property. This is the sort of job which can be very expensive, so it is best to ensure you have a quality contractor carry out the work. However there are some tips which I have picked up from my work experience in the past as an estimator at a company who did driveways in Manchester. I used to do the quotations so I knew everything about costing a driveway. After a while I could work out massive jobs in minutes in my head, although it took years to get used to all the little costing details.

Firstly the size of the area will effect the price per square metre. If you have a small area, lets say under 50 square metres, then forget about tarmac (asphalt). This is a really cheap option for big areas which is why it is used on roads. On driveways it can work out expensive because it is usually laid by a gang of men rather than a small team. It is bought in batches too, so you are likely to be paying for more than you need on smaller drives. Tarmac needs to be edged with something to hold it in place. The nicest option is stone cobbles, but they cost the earth. They have to be set individually. Even using block paving bricks is a very time consuming task. For a cheap job use simple concrete edgings which are a metre long and consider blocks or cobbles just across the entrance where they will be seen most.

The shape of the area can also affect the price. This is most apparent with block paving. Each brick needs to be cut around the edges, so complicated shapes can take a while. The most common way to lay block paving is in the 45 degree herringbone pattern, basically they are laid diagonal to the house. For square driveways simply turn the blocks another 45 degrees so they are laid 90 degrees to the house. This often means the bricks can simply be cut in half for the edges. This can save a lot of labour on long drives and cuts down on wastage. This doesn’t apply to tarmac, although it does apply to a smaller extent with paving stones.

Choosing when to have the job done can be a big money saver. Contractors are usually quieter in the winter. People just don’t think about getting a new patio or drive when the weather is bad. However this means you can get a better deal. Ask whether there is a winter discount when you get a quote. If you get a quote in summer, ask if it will be cheaper in winter. If the contractor says he isn’t sure, offer a deposit to get a discount in winter.

Finally, consider having other work carried out at the same time. Paving contractors often do other work like erecting fences, fitting gates or laying a shed base. They will often throw these in at cost if they are done at the same time as a big driveway project. Plus it means less upheaval in the future.

Don’t be cheap and use the cheapest quote you get, there are a lot of “cowboys” in the paving world. Use a company you trust and let them make suggestions for bringing the cost down. They may suggest a cheaper paving stone to use, or a slightly different design which cuts down on labour costs. Also ask if they can seal the surface once they are done. This will stop dirt sticking to it and cut down on maintenance costs in future. Alternatively buy your own sealant and check with the contractor when it i advisable to apply it.

If you still find it is out of your budget get a restoration job. My old firm had an offshoot offering a driveway cleaning service which works out to be far cheaper than starting from fresh. With a good quality jet washer operated by someone who knows what they are doing you can bring paving, and concrete up like new. The have them seal it to protect it from dirt and the weather in future.

Thrifty Shopping Online For Spare Parts

There is no doubt that for many people, the Internet is a big part of their daily lives. Social media, networking and other applications are all going to be used in your day to day activities. Many people also like to take it a step further and shop online for various products. Some may shop for groceries on the Internet as well, although this depends on the circumstances. Shopping online for plug sockets and other pieces of equipment can end up giving you a cheaper deal.

This important thing to remember when shopping online is to compare different prices. Consumers will find there is a lot more competition out there simply because customers can compare products easily. By browsing through several websites, consumers can often find prices which suit them. As a result, it is important for the individual to be thrifty especially when looking online.

It is also important to look for local websites when shopping online for plug sockets. This is because, naturally, different countries have different types of plug. There is no point in going onto a US website and ordering products if you are living in the United Kingdom. Always remember to check this out.

Remember to go for quality as well. Many businesses and online suppliers have reviews and testimonials written about them on consumer review websites. Always remember to pay heed to these sites and make sure one has taken all of the advice on board.

Delivery is sometimes going to be free. This depends on the company you are buying from. During different times of the year, individuals may be able to come across a deal as well. Sites will often sell other spare parts as well. When building a home there are a lot of supplies which are needed, so getting everything from the one place is always going to be a convenience.

By bookmarking your favourite websites, it will be a lot easier in the long run. Look for as many websites as you can, read through them briefly, and then bookmark them. Afterwards, the customer can go back and slowly have a look over everything before deciding which company to go with.

In the end, it is important to read all of the terms and conditions. This is a vital step. You need to make sure you will not be charged extra for anything. Keep this in mind when shopping online.