Autumn Wonders*

 *This is a collaborative post*

I can't believe how fast this year has gone. Yet again, here we are in Autumn - my favourite of all the seasons and that's not just because of the cooler weather - I've never been good in heat. It means new TV shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and the X-Factor, it means curling up under a blanket with a hot chocolate, it's means gorgeous Autumn/Winter fashion on the high street, it means Christmas shopping! It's pumpkins, sticky toffee, Halloween, Bonfire Night, it's the countdown to all things festive! On top of all that, it's a fantastic season for dating. 
There's something hugely romantic about this time of year. Wandering hand in hand through pretty parks as the nights draw in, twinkling lights all a glow, the smell of burning peat in the crisp cool air. And depending on where you live there are various places you can take advantage of. Below I've shared just a few of my favourites from a handful of places.

Dating In Lancashire

If you live near in Lancashire then Avenham Park is a beautiful place to visit. Weather permitting, the riverside based park features a Japanese water garden and a cafe. On the other hand if you want something indoors then again in the Lancashire area is the free to enter Harris Museum. Located in the Preston City Centre, this museum, art gallery and library has been going for 125 years. There are plenty of nearby pubs and restaurants to grab a bite once you've had a wander round.

Dating In Glasgow

For Glasgow singles I recommend the gorgeous Alexandra Park which is located in the East End of Glasgow. It has fantastic views and if it's your cup of tea then there's also a nine hole golf course. Glasgow dating is great this time of year. If you're in the area then definitely take advantage of the free Glasgow Doors Open Days Festival which is an annual event celebrating the city's architecture, culture and heritage.

Dating In London

Londoners will no doubt be all too familiar with Hyde Park but did you know that in November they open their Winter Wonderland? This year you'll find various attractions such as ice skating, ice sculpting workshops, karaoke, Paddington on Ice, A Christmas Carol and The Giant Wheel. There are various firework events this time of year in London too and of course some fabulous places to eat.

Dating In Blackpool

One of my all time childhood favourites is the Blackpool Illuminations. Some may scoff but you can't knock it until you've tried it. Founded in the 1870's the lights span a whopping 10 kilometers! Whether you choose a cosy slow drive through the stretch of lights or wrap up for the walk, be quick as the illuminations don't stay on all year around. The big switch off is the 3rd November. 
There's always plenty going on along the prom when the illuminations are live and the Blackpool Tower is also a must see if you've never been. Fellow Strictly fans will know that this is home to the famous Tower Ballroom.

What is your favourite thing about Autumn? Do you have any unusual dating ideas?

The importance of patient history alongside an effective physical examination

Getting to the root of the problem with a patient takes time, skill and practice. Getting the basics right is vital, like greeting your patient warmly and professionally, and making your consulting room comfortable. But what about the less obvious stuff, and what makes a consultation between a healthcare professional and their patient truly effective?
The answer lies in a combination of good communication, applied professional knowledge and a thorough understanding of the patient’s history. These work in harmony with skilled examination techniques to provide the best chance of accurate diagnosis. As a competent healthcare professional, it’s important to realise that consultation skills go way beyond basic questions like “does asthma run in your family?” or “have you hurt this leg before?”
A good history is one that reveals the patient's concerns, ideas, opinions and expectations which can go a long way towards disclosing the less obvious causes behind their symptoms. It may, for example, give you an idea of their emotions and frustrations. Healthcare professionals should try to avoid dominating the history taking and let the patient speak openly. At the heart of any good communication is the ability to listen - and sometimes, to read between the lines. Without the ability to see life through the eyes of your patient, their history is likely to be much less revealing and less useful to you in attempting an accurate diagnosis.
Sometimes, history is all that’s needed to diagnose. A good example is if someone comes to you with a headache, and describes the headache to you in detail. They may mention certain triggers they’ve noticed previously, together with other symptoms like nausea or visual disturbances. This information on its own could be enough for you to diagnose migraines for example, with no further investigation needed. Other times however, a physical examination will be required alongside a patient’s history, and this is where the two can work together.

How physical examinations can bring out more about a patient’s history

There are certain things you can do during a physical examination, such as being gentle in your approach and explaining to your patient what you’re doing and why. This can go a long way towards putting their mind at ease, and when people relax they tend to chat – and when they chat about their health, history often comes out with it.
Discovering the core of a patient’s worries, and how those worries have evolved over time, takes lots of practice. A consultation can allow them to unburden themselves and let you into other parts of their life such as money worries or family issues. It’s only through finding the perfect combination of history and physical examination that healthcare professionals will have the greatest chance of diagnosing a patient effectively – and offering them the best solution.

Are you a healthcare professional looking to develop your patient assessment skills?

If so, why not sign up for our Five-day patient assessment skills workshop? Offering practitioners the chance to enhance their skills in clinical decision making and diagnostic proficiency through CPD, it’s ideal for nurses, pharmacists, paramedics and physiotherapists in particular.
All course material and refreshments are provided, as well as a certificate of attendance. Multiple dates are available between September 2019 and April 2020 and the course takes place at St. Bart’s hospital in London.

*Article and image contributed by a third party. 

Christmas Traditions: How To Make New Ones This Year*

*This is a collaborative post*

Some families have so many Christmas traditions that it feels as though the entire month before Christmas is full of adorable things to do, like decorating cookies, baking cakes, putting up streamers, and drinking warm cider. But other families? Not so much. If that sounds like your family, and if you’d like to get a little more Christmas-tastic this year, read on for some tips and ideas…

Consider Your Audience

First and foremost, make sure that you consider your audience. If you’re the parent of teenagers, then it probably isn’t time to joyfully present them with the Elf on the Shelf and expect them to greet it with anything other than disdain and confusion. You need to consider who exactly it is you’re dealing with: if your partner loves to be outside, then it’s a much better idea to suggest a snowy Christmas morning dog walk than a movie on the sofa with hot chocolate. Creating new traditions doesn’t have to be about changing absolutely everything you do.

Make A Bucket List

If you want to create new traditions, you need to take the views of everybody into account. Why not make a family bucket list that you’ve all contributed to? This means that everybody gets a say and that you do plenty of things so that you can continue the ones that you all enjoyed into future years. It’s a lot more effective than introducing Christmas sweaters and pointblank expecting it to be a thing every single year from now on.

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Make It Edible
If your family is somewhat reticent about trying to form some Christmas traditions, the top tip is to make them edible. People might not want to sit around watching Christmas movies, but they will almost certainly be more inclined to do so if there is eggnog provided along with several platefuls of Christmas cookies. A lot of the best Christmas traditions include great food, whether it’s making a Christmas cake a couple of months before the day itself, making mulled wine for an excellent pre-Christmas party, or sculpting a perfect Yule log out of chocolate cake and frosting. 

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What About Charity?

Remember that Christmas traditions don’t all have to be about eating a lot of sugar and lying on your couch wearing a sweatshirt with a Christmas tree on it like a trussed up Christmas turkey. They can also be about helping other people, and about charity. If you live near the sea, get yourself sponsored for an icy cold Christmas morning dip in the water - and if you can bear it, make it an annual tradition from now on! 

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It’s All About Spending Time Together

Finally, remember that Christmas traditions are all about making sure that you spend quality time with the people that you care most about. It isn’t about the specific games you play - although Christmas jigsaws for adults can provide hours of fun - it’s about the time that you share together. So long as you form your new Christmas traditions around laughing and having fun with your loved ones, chances are they’ll stick around for another few years.

Although it’s also important to remember: sugar cookies help too.

*Contributed by Sam Jones. Header image source Pexels.

Six Budgeting Tips to Prepare You For Home Maintenance Disasters*

*This is a collaborative post*

If you’ve ever had your fridge break on you, or you’ve discovered a leak in your plumbing, you’ll know that having to perform emergency repairs on your home can be really expensive.

These tips will help you prepare for unforeseen costs, so you’ll be ready to whip that wallet out when the need arises.

Choose Your Approach

Even if you’re good at budgeting for other household requirements, emergency repairs are their own category of expense. Firstly, you never know when you’ll have to shell out for a pricey repair or replacement. Secondly, you don’t have a choice about when to get the repairs done: if water’s raining down from your top floor bathroom, you have to call that plumber in YESTERDAY. Bearing this in mind, it’s worth acknowledging that you have two options when it comes to preparing for unseen expenses. The route you favour will depend on your current financial position.

Firstly, you can do your best to budget ahead of time for unexpected events by putting into place useful strategies for saving. However, that does mean you will cut into your budget every month for other aspects of your home life, and you may not feel willing, or even able, to do this. Your other option is to make use of same-day loans when you find yourself in a fix. As long as you’re confident you can pay the money back in a timely manner, debt collection won’t be an issue for you. This option means you can devote your full budget to other areas of your housekeeping, and even save towards updates to your home.

Know What You Could Afford Today

Before you start creating your emergency fund, it’s useful to know how much you can afford to pay if you had a home disaster today. Say your washing machine broke today and you needed a replacement. How much money could you spare towards the issue today? If the answer is, ‘none! I need all my money for groceries!’ then you know your starting point: you need your emergency fund to be large enough that you don’t have to dip into your monthly earnings. If you could spare a couple of hundred pounds, then you know your emergency fund can be a little slimmer—basically, just enough to top up your monthly earnings, if something expensive crops up.

Sell Stuff You Don’t Use

Starting an emergency fund from scratch can feel a little intimidating. One of the best ways to give your emergency fund a head start is to sell some stuff you have that you don’t use anymore. While you might think nobody would want to buy the things you don’t want, remember that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. That tennis racquet you haven’t used in a while is worth nothing to you while it’s stashed in the attic, but once you’ve listed it on eBay, it could take on value you forgot it had. It can also be freeing to get rid of possessions that you don’t use anymore, especially if they no longer bring joy to your life. While each item you sell may not be worth all that much on its own, you’ll be surprised how much it adds up to once you’re finished your purge. Your emergency fund should be well on its way!

Evaluate Your Existing Budget

If you already run your spending on a tight budget, you may not think you have much to spare, but take another look. You may find that you’ve changed your priorities since you first established your budget, and you can make a snip or shift here and there to save a little money. For example, do you still appreciate that weekly trip to the nail salon? Maybe you’re a little over having glam nails, but you still go out of habit, and because you love a good chat with your beautician. Or maybe you don’t need therapy anymore because your mood has improved, but you just hadn’t noticed yet. If you’ve started getting into cooking lately, maybe you don’t get as much pleasure out of eating out on a date night as you do from cooking something special. In that case, cut your restaurant budget and enjoy an intimate date night at home. A couple of adjustments could add a decent bit of cushioning to your emergency fund.

Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut With Bills

Monthly bills are a good place to start when you’re looking to cut expenses. Give the service providers for your T.V, Internet and mobile phone service a call, and ask if they have any more cost-effective options available for you to switch your contract over to. You never know: since you signed up, they may have introduced new deals or service bundles that offer exactly what you need for less than you are currently paying. A couple of tweaks to your monthly bills could go a long way.

Open a Separate Account

As you watch the money in your emergency fund grow (which it will!) it can be tempting to use it for other things. What use will it be then? The best way to combat this is to open a separate account for your emergency fund, rather than stashing your cash under the bed or even ‘knowing’ how much of the money in your account is set aside for emergencies. Allocating the money to a savings account means your emergency funds are ‘out of sight, and out of mind’, removing the temptation to splurge and ensuring you have access to the extra money when emergency strikes. Another great benefit of having the money in a savings account is that you will accrue added interest while it sits there, swelling your emergency fund even more.

Whether you own your own home or not, you may have occasional emergencies that require a dose of extra cash to put right. Even if you don’t have extra money lying around for emergencies, a household disaster generally cannot wait. These tips will help you ensure that you have the money to hand, avoiding panic and disorder.

*Contributed by Sam Jones. Header image source: Pexels CC0 Licence Second image source: Pexels CC0 Licence

Five Updates You Can Make To Your Home*

*This is a collaborative post*

Carrying out occasional updates to your property can help to give you that feeling you had when you first moved into your home. That buzz of excitement of getting the keys, walking into your home and knowing you have a new space that's yours to do with as you want. If you're looking for some inspiration to help transform your home, here are five updates that you can make to your home.

Build An Extension

There are many factors to consider before building an extension on your home. It's a big project, and it's not something that everyone has the opportunity to do on their home whether that's due to a financial limitation or for lack of space on the land. If you find that there may be a chance that your property boundaries aren't correct, then a solicitor for a boundary dispute would certainly be worth the hassle. That could well be the difference between you being able to go forward with your extension or not. If you're building an extension, you first want to work out what it is you want that new space to be because the floor space may dictate what is possible within the extension.

Then you want to ensure you’ve got the budget to complete the works and to factor in any consequences of having the extension done while living in your property. It may require temporary accommodation, and you’ll need to inform your neighbours about the plans so that they are in agreement with what you are doing. 

Paint Your Cabinets And Touch-Up The Walls

Paint is great for making even the most worn cabinets and walls, look brand new. Sometimes, all that’s needed is a fresh coat of paint, and that paint doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. Painting yourself can be a very therapeutic thing to do when it comes to decorating, and it can also save on you having to fork out the money to replace cabinets and cupboard or desk drawers that are still perfectly functional. Your walls will certainly suffer from bumps and scratches, whether that’s something you do directly, your guests or any furniture you may move around the process. It’s a normal thing to happen, but these scuffs can end up making it look worn, so keep a pot of paint in your garage to do touch-ups every now and then. 

Switch Up The Soft Furnishings

Soft furnishings like the throws on your sofa, the cushions on your bed and even the curtains or blinds that hang on the windows can become a bit of a bore to look at. Especially if you’ve had the same cushion cover or blind design in your home for the past several years. Finding the right designs and patterns that last a lifetime is pretty rare, and even if you do, it’s nice to give your home a change of appearance every now and then.

Soft furnishings are not as expensive as replacing a sofa or something bulkier, so look at every room and see what you could replace or update. Rugs can help add that extra layer of comfort and can make neutral walls or flooring, look more interesting. Cushions and throws are great at masking a worn sofa, so that if you didn’t have the funds to pay out for a new sofa now, it can provide you with a temporary solution. 

Incorporate Some Technology

Technology has truly transformed the way we live our lives, and that also comes down to the functionality of our homes. Incorporating some technology is one update you can do to your home to make it easier for your household to navigate a daily routine. But it’s also worth having if you ever decide to sell your home. Maybe it’s replacing the thermostat with a smart meter or having remote-controlled lighting or blinds. Alexa is a feature in many people’s homes and also can be connected to devices around your home.

Ensure Everything Has A Home

We can easily create a lot of clutter in our home, and unless everything has a home, things will end up strewn across the floor or in places where it shouldn't belong. So always have an attitude of everything having a home and if it doesn’t get some storage. Storage is a great way of making sure everything is placed either on display or hidden away. Multi-functional furniture that also acts as storage space is highly recommended.

So what are you waiting for? That’s five updates that you can be doing to your own space right now!

*Contributed by Sam Jones. Header photo source.

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