A Revolutionary Idea for Redesigning or Decorating Your Home

Decorating and re-furnishing my home has never been my thing. I’m not that great at it, if I’m completely honest. And, if we are being honest, I do feel insanely jealous when I walk into one of my friend’s homes and everything looks beautiful and matched and complementary. Oh, and clean; Phoebe gets her sticky fingers/snot/puke all over everything. It’s like she’s on some sort of infant dirty protest, though she gets fed, bathed and has an endless supply of toys available, so what she’s got to complain about I can’t imagine!

But, I have come across a revolutionary tool for helping in this area. True it’s not going to enhance your ability to sniff out the right curtains that match the right rug that match the right cushions that match the right coffee table etcetera, etcetera, but it does make life a lot easier when it comes to arranging furniture, buying pieces that are the right size and checking your room still works if you have a move-around and the baby isn’t going to get trapped in a metre squared corner between a bookcase, sofa and wall.

The apartment from Big Bag theory! (Steve's uber-geeky fave TV programme)
The apartment from Big Bang Theory! (Steve’s uber-geeky fave TV programme)

And knowing that a piece of furniture will fit into a room is only the beginning! Knowing that you can still get access to electrical sockets, doors and windows is where full planning is really useful. What happens if you buy all of your lovely new furniture and it just doesn’t look right? This is where stress levels can increase and arguments can occur.

You can now spare yourself and your family this stress with the Home by Me software.

My best friend from uni introduced me to it. She and her fiancée have just bought a brand new house (lucky buggers!) and are desperate to get everything Just Right. So, she’s been using this software to plan every room in meticulous detail, and she raves about it! She’s also one of those people who have that sixth sense of knowing what colours schemes will work and what furniture and accessories work well together. Damn her!

It’s incredibly sadistic of me but part of me – a miniscule part, in fact – can’t wait to see how their perfectly designed home fairs when the kids come along! (Cue evil laugh!)

The downstairs floor of our house!
The downstairs floor of our house!

So What is Home By Me?

Basically this software helps you to design whatever room you want to focus on by playing around with the layout of your furniture etcetera, allowing you to choose exactly the right furniture, in the right size, for your room.

What Do I Like About It?

The Home by Me software has a wealth of features which make designing a room or home as easy as possible. After taking some measurements (WARNING: basic numeracy skills required! For an English teacher, that normally isn’t good news, but even I can use a tape measure and do basic adding and subtraction!), you are able to create an accurate plan of your entire home, room by room. The software allows for multi-level plans which means you can easily switch from one floor to another as well as room to room. Great fun!

For anyone with anything fancy in their home, you can add pillars, casings and bay windows as well as electrical, gas and water points – the sort of stuff you forget to consider in your initial redecorating plans! You can even take into account the position of any radiators, which was where Steve and I fell down when we moved into our first home!

Start with a floor plan and the rest will come!
Start with a floor plan and the rest will come!

After creating your floor plan, it is easy to drag and drop the furniture from the catalogue straight to where you want it. The dropdown menus are really clearly and logically arranged by room – it’s like designing a computer-based doll’s house! The 2 dimensional view shows whether an item will fit where you want it to, whereas the 3 dimensional view shows you how the room will look once finished. Simples!

After furnishing your home on the plans, the summary section shows you the details of your project. The room by room summary gives you all of the specifications of the rooms including floor space and wall dimensions. This information can make decorating and flooring your rooms extra easy as you do not have to measure again. You will also get a summary of the products you’ve selected in a shopping list format, making your purchases easy and hassle free!


Would I Recommend It?

Absolutely! Besides making life a heck of a lot easier when it comes to redesigning a home, it’s also heaps of fun, and it makes you think about things that might otherwise not have been considered until it’s too late, like the position of light sockets and radiators etcetera.

It’s totally free, so there’s zero harm in giving it a try!

The Dangers of uPVC Doors

It was at the end of the 1980’s that saw the rise in properties being fitted with uPVC doors and windows. Although this change from traditional wood-based externals doors and windows began with large building developers, today over 85% of domestic properties have uPVC fittings as part of their exterior. The rise in popularity of this unsustainable material was largely down to its promotion as a low-maintenance or no-maintenance material, however this negligible claim is offset by uPVC’s non-environmental production and inability to naturally decompose. This means that both the production and destruction of uPVC results in dangerous chemical emissions that are equally dangerous and hazardous to humans, animals and nature.


Whilst their original promotion, as a cheap and secure alternative to traditionally expensive wooden products, was somewhat true in regards to uPVC. As of today, competitive prices set by suppliers of classic wooden doors means that there is literally no reason to use this toxic material. For example, Todd Doors produces a selection of high-quality oak front-doors for as low as under £100 pounds. These doors are as sturdy and easy to maintain as their uPVC alternative and now retail at round the same price – you can visit the external doors page here for more information.

One of Todd Doors’ interesting designs


Although uPVC can last up to 35 years, within this time cracks can still form within its surface, these lesions often having algal growth within them. The material can also become brittle along with quickly losing their glossy look and clean appeal. Whilst they can be painted over, which will somewhat correct the superficial damage, uPVC doors are still not as close to maintenance-free as manufacturers would suggest. However, these aesthetic issues aside, it is when these doors are disposed of that the problems really begin for not just the owner but the environment as well.


Within the UK, uPVC usually ends up in a landfills or is incinerated. Whilst landfills’s negative effects on the wildlife surrounding them is well publicised, even if the uPVC material is incinerated the contaminated ash released through this process is even more damaging to the ozone layer. Whilst modern incinerators operate within EU restrictions and control, an accidental fire or mismanagement of procedure can cause the release of toxic fumes which are incredibly hazardous to those who breath them in.


Timber, on the other hand, when properly maintained, can last over 100 years. Moreover, these economically friendly frames can be easily mended at a low cost. Whilst it cannot be denied that, in order for your wooden door to remain in top condition, it will need to be treated between every 4 to 8 years, it a testament to the durability of this material that many historic homes and classic buildings still have their original doors and windows, centuries after they were built. This durability aside, timber is also easy, and environmentally friendly, to recycle and reuse. This natural material can be easily turned into nature friendly bio-fuel and will effortlessly decompose back into the earth.

This article is provided by Agents of Drive Blog.


Creative Uses for Dome Shelters and Shipping Containers

When you combine shipping containers and dome shelters together, you come up with an extremely versatile storage and workspace solution, that is also highly mobile. By placing shipping containers parallel to each other, you can add a steel framework between the shipping containers and cover this with Polyethylene. This gives you an area which is protected from both the sun and rain, and can be used for a wide variety of purposes.

  • Mobile Workshop
  • Hobby Area
  • Outdoor Storage Area
  • Relaxation Area


Dome Shelter Workshops

The great thing about a dome shelter from Port Container Shelters is that they are easily transported anywhere, and they can be set up relatively quickly, depending on the size. The larger dome shelters can handle large vehicles or multiple smaller ones, so make an ideal outside workshop. All of your equipment can be stored securely in the shipping containers at night, and then used as needed during the day. There are many additional features that you can purchase with your dome shelter such as doors, printed logos, top rail systems and also fixed lights. When the job is complete, you can easily pack up your shipping containers and dome shelter, and move on to your next destination.



The Perfect Hobby Area

There are many people whose hobbies seem to take over the life, as well as all of their free space! Utilising a dome shelter with shipping containers gives you the perfect outside area for your hobby, no matter what it is.

  • Gardening
  • Car Restoration and Repair
  • DIY
  • Sculpting
  • Pottery

There are many different hobbies which could use such an area, and compared to a permanent structure they are much more cost effective. As the structure is also classed as temporary, you will not need to gain planning permission before the structure is erected. From a potting shed to a car restoration garage, with all of the secure storage space, as well as protection from the elements, this could be the perfect solution for your hobby!


the wonder of combining shipping containers with dome shelters

Outdoor Storage Area

We all seem to use as much storage area as we have, which means additional space is always a bonus. You can easily use a couple of shipping containers with a dome shelter as an outdoor storage area. Anything of value which needs secure storage can be put into the shipping containers. To build a permanent feature will require a lot more investment, as well as also requiring planning permission. You can even connect two shipping containers to make yourself a temporary parking garage which can be securely locked.

shipping contas

A Place to Relax

As well as creating a good place for storage, you can also make yourself a pleasant area where you can relax out of the elements. You can have yourself some comfortable seating and tables where you can read a book or entertain friends. You could even have a Jacuzzi installed which you could use even when it is raining. If you have animals that spend most of their time outside, you could use this as a place for them. For the more social of people, you could even set yourself up a bar and get yourself a pool table. The possibilities really are endless, and the only limitation is your own imagination. Just be careful if you have a BBQ as you would not want to melt the Polyethylene Waterproof roof!



Do Pets and Clean Homes Go Together?

Many people wonder if it’s genuinely possible to maintain a clean house when you have pets around. While it’s likely you won’t have to clean up after fish all the time, having a dog or a cat is certainly something that troubles homeowners who would rather not have fur strewn across floors and carpets.

Bess and Tilly fighting

We’re certainly not going to get rid of our animals as a result of this dilemma, although can be forgiven for feeling that way on occasion if we constantly have to clean up after our animals at a noticeably troublesome rate. So what exactly can you do to prevent your animals from affecting the cleanliness of your home?

Your pets are always going to leave fur lying around as well as a dander, while there’s also the chance of a potential “accident”. The first thing you need to know when adopting a pet is that you are probably going to have to commit more time to your cleaning schedule.

Let’s look at dogs for starters. There are some breeds of dog that shed quite a lot of hair, such as border collies, while Schnauzers and Labradors have smoother, shorter fur and thus create less of a mess with their fur. In most cases, the dog breeds that shed their fur do it twice a year, so you can keep note of how often it occurs this way.

When we notice that dogs are leaving fur behind, we tend to grab the vacuum cleaner instantaneously to get rid of it. Whilst the vacuum is certainly an effective way of getting rid of dog fur, too much and you can end up blocking the vacuum. Try and moderate your use of the vacuum when cleaning a home with pets and inspect the vacuum every now and then for blockages.

In truth, you can minimise the amount of work you need to do by focusing more on your dog instead of the cleaning up afterwards. Proper grooming is an excellent way of keeping on top of your dogs shed hair and any vet would suggest that you groom your pet a few times a week. You can collect any loose hair on the brush and prevent it from reaching the floor.

With cats, grooming is actually quite important. They tend to look after themselves a lot more than dogs. However, cats can suffer from certain health problems as a result of their hair. Hairballs and constipation are commonly associated with cats that look after themselves instead of their owner grooming them.

cat licking

You can prevent the risk of hair building up on floors and carpets even more by making sure you brush your pet outside. It’s not likely that you’ll be forced to groom your pet indoors at any time due to weather conditions, so you should be able to do this all year round.

There are also a range of differing tools that are best suited to specific breeds of dog or cat that make the grooming process more efficient. You can learn about these grooming tools from your vet.

A lot of pet owners wonder if it’s a good idea to bathe their dogs or cats at all to assist the grooming process. Cats certainly don’t need to be bathed as they tend to wash themselves, whereas dogs need the odd bath to make sure there isn’t any dirt in their fur.

dog bath

However, dogs should only be bathed once a month at most as you can interfere with the natural oils produced by the skin otherwise. Some cats may need bathing on occasion if they are old or incapable cleaning themselves.

The next thing to consider is the number of pets you have in your household. If there are a number of dogs or cats in one property, the amount of fur you have to deal with will increase. What’s more, having certain breeds with longer coats, such as Persian cats or Husky’s, will mean that fur will build up much faster throughout the home. If you fit one of these categories, you should probably check your air filters every now and then depending on the amount of hair your pets shed.

If you’re finding the hair-cleaning process too much of an issue, there are alternatives to simply adjusting your approach to cleaning. You can change the layout of your property entirely to suit your cleaning regime.

This could incorporate taking up your carpets and replacing them with wooden flooring (to stop dander from clinging to fabrics and causing allergic reactions), switching upholstery to leather and introducing a room for the dogs or cats to sleep in regularly.

So there you have it. If you take these helpful cleaning tips and guidelines on board when looking after your animals, you’ll probably find that having a cat or a dog really isn’t as demanding as you might think.

If we’re going to provide our pets with a new home, we need to make sure we’re looking out for them as much as our own belongings, so the biggest tip of all would be to make sure you’re prepared to make any changes the day you decide having a new furry friend in your life is necessary.

Alana Burton has a young family and has 2 cats and is aware of the best ways to keep a home clean when there are children plus pets to consider. As a writer she covers relevant issues for Apple Clean, carpet, curtain and upholstery cleaners in the south-east.

This article was provided by Island Blogging.

The Growing Trend of Forest Schools

Recently more schools throughout the country have taken steps to earn the ‘Forest School’ status as Forest Schools have been increasing in popularity due to their fresh approach to hands on learning. With attitudes towards environmental awareness constantly being highlighted it is certainly a step in the right direction as far as education is concerned to see more of these forest schools popping up throughout the country.

What are Forest Schools?
Forest Schools are schools that offer equal learning experiences for all children in order to help them to develop key life skills such as self-esteem and confidence in public speaking and acting. These are established through hands-on learning activities that occur in a natural forest or woodland environment which also helps to teach children about the local environment while at the same time helping them to build on these key life skills.

What Happens in a Forest School?
As well as providing a stimulating and engaging environment in which the children can learn, a forest school needs to meet a certain criteria of basic needs for all children enrolled in these schools. Warmth and appropriate clothing must be provided for the children as well as a secure learning environment in which the children can feel safe at all times. Children must also be provided with clean water and hot drinks as well as healthy snacks and meals where necessary.



The school site is often explored and in an introductory session is established to agree on both physical and behavioural boundaries during sessions. Children are taught to familiarise themselves with the local area and the route taken to reach that area either on foot or by bus.

A fully constructed site shelter is needed to provide security for children during cold, windy or wet days and the site can include a variety of features depending on what sort of activities and lessons you would like to cover with the children. Forest Schools can range from the bare minimum to a fully constructed shelter with a cosy, covered area complete with fire pit and wooden benches for the pupils to sit around.

In some cases it can be beneficial to get the pupils involved in building a suitable shelter for their lessons. You start to build on teamwork in group exercises and can also educate pupils on how to build an appropriate shelter in a wooded area while at the same time providing useful information about the local plants and wildlife in a realistic and engaging environment.


How can a School apply to become a Forest School?
In order to successfully set up a Forest School, the school must have a Qualified Practitioner which can be achieved by any teacher willing to complete the training process and consolidation as set out by the Forest Schools Website. With the help of a Forest Schools Practitioner you can then start setting up the Forest School.

You will also need an appropriate site in which to run the forest school. Generally on the school’s own grounds is acceptable but if you can work out a deal with a local woodland or forest group this could also be a good idea.

You can also obtain funding for your new Forest School from local authorities and local councils if you are having trouble with creating an acceptable shelter and gathering materials for the Forest School. Applying for funding can be a tedious process but if it provides you with the supplies you need to create an exciting environment for children it will be well worth the effort.

What does the Future Hold for Forest Schools?
As Forest Schools are flexible, providing an exciting new insight into how children and pupils of all abilities grow and learn, Forest Schools may be the way to go within the new few years. We are forever learning more and more about how to properly provide for our youth and it is becoming more apparent that a single learning style is not suited to all children.

Forest Schools provide an opportunity to improve life skills such as teamwork, working in a group and working in a new and sometimes challenging environment. Plus by applying lessons to a new environment and a new set of challenges, children can start to view problems in a different light and could pick things up quicker than in a generic classroom environment.

All in all Forest Schools are a welcome change to everyday classroom lessons, tests, homework assignments and schedules. By incorporating wildlife and an engaging setting into learning and teaching, children could be more motivated and inspired to explore their imaginative, creative and innovative sides, giving children more opportunities to grow as individuals while at the same time gaining important life and educational skills.

As a mother of a young family, Alana Burton is very interested in the wider range of educational options available for different types of schooling and lessons. She writes about her finds and interests for Bloo House, an independent school in Esher, Surrey offering an altogether unique learning environment.

Shipping Container Living and Workspaces: Here’s Why You Should Try It

We all love our homes no matter how humble they may be. The idea of a home is somewhere to just be as comfortable as you can, a haven that reflects your personality, your taste, and your character. The same can go for an office, and both can tell just as much about you as the way you dress. Now imagine the impression you would make if you invited someone to your ultra-chic modified container home or office.


Shipping container architecture has been booming as architects, homeowners, and office workers alike reinvent the style of these highly modifiable units. The result? Head-turning, comfortable, affordable, and environment friendly architecture that can be customised to suit anyone’s style. They do not have to be just used for accommodation as there are many other uses for a modified shipping container.


Affordability is by far the biggest incentive if you’re considering a shipping container home or office. Used shipping containers are widely available, and they’re super simple to turn into a home or office for very little cost compared to a brick-and-mortar building.

Easy to Build and Use

While a modification unit might just look like a steel box, they are extremely easy to modify into a comfortable home or office. With the right ideas, you can come up with a host of designs for your new space. Best of all, you can add more shipping containers to make as big a house or office as you wish. Adding doors, windows, and even staircases is simple too.

Quick to Set Up

This is another big plus of shipping containers. On average, a container takes a few short months to be ready for you to move into. Changes and modifications can be made off-site, so when the container is delivered to your site it’s ready to be used after a few adjustments and final tweaks. Imagine seeing your full-fledged home rolling down the street on the back of a truck!

Room For Imagination

A modification container allows your imagination to run free. You can construct exactly the dream home or office you’ve always wanted. You just need the shipping container design and a company to put your ideas to work.

shipping contas
Something a bit extraordinary made out of something so ordinary!


Easily Available

Here’s another great thing about shipping containers — you can get them where you need them. There are companies all over that offer new or second-hand shipping containers and who can deliver your container right to where you want it. You just need to make sure your chosen site has space for the delivery truck to conveniently offload the container.

Environment Friendly

Besides being cost effective and easy to put your personal stamp on, using a modified container from Port Container Services for establishing your living or working space, you’ll be doing something good for the environment. You can find both used and brand new containers easily that can be used as your new home or office, without worrying about the impact of new materials on the environment.

If you choose to use a shipping container for your home or office, you are actually promoting environmental conservation. How? Well, you recycle the steel being used. Also, you reduce the energy and raw materials in making new homes.

Your Very Own Style

But despite all the above mentioned facts, the best benefit of using a shipping container for your home or office space is that you can freely design it so that it suits your needs and wants. In fact, the very essence of shipping container architecture is to put a personal statement in your living/office space in a cheap, easy way.

As you can see, there are plenty of advantages of using modified shipping containers for homes or offices.


Phoebe has clearly inherited her appetite from me. And her sweet tooth. And it may be too early to tell for definite yet, but possibly her podgy hips and ass as well. What can I say, I’m a giver?

No, I won't eat that green crap!
No, I won’t eat that green crap!

Whenever the word food is mentioned, we often recall our favourite dish which makes our mouths to salivate. Food is essential to the growth and development of our body systems. It is a source of energy, in addition to boosting our immune system. Taking into account the importance of food in our lives and the fact that most of us usually have a minimum of three meals a day, it is an essential need that we can’t afford to ignore.

A newly born baby is a bundle of joy, he or she cries and even laughs gracefully. Most importantly we as parents have come to learn to respond to their cries, knowing when they are hungry. Just as food is important to us adults, it is vital for the baby. Why is this so?

Yes, I’d like my main with a side of Salmonella please…

a)      The lifecycle development– Infancy-Childhood is the initial and most critical postnatal stage of development. Every baby needs nutrients which are acquired from food. Any deficiency of particular nutrients could easily lead to immune system deficiencies which might pose a potential risk to the baby’s health for the rest of their lives.

b)      Babys digestive system– a baby’s digestive system is more efficient than that of an adult. Nutrients are absorbed faster into the body as the baby needs those nutrients for development.

c)      Baby’s body organs – infancy is a critical stage in the development of the baby’s body organs. The kidneys, the brain and other organs are not yet fully before birth and usually develop fully during infancy.

d)      The babys appetite– did you that babies and children in general, consume more food on pound-for-pound basis than adults? Due to this, they are exposed to more different types of foods and chemical substances contained in those particular foods. As a result, this pose a greater potential risk to the health and development of the baby.

organic food
Good food, just look for the scary baby face!


Organic food is vital for the development of the baby as it provides nutrients that are found naturally in the environment; unlike the modified and some synthetically processed foods. Here are some of the benefits of organic foods:

i.            Higher nutritional levels– organic food has much higher nutritional benefits unlike the processed and synthetically produced foods. A combination of different types of organic foods provide essential nutritional benefits including proteins, fibres and carbohydrates which are vital for the baby’s growth.

ii.            Organic Farming– a major concern when it comes to organic foods is its source. Organic farming entails growing of different crops naturally with minimal use of pesticides and chemically synthesized fertilizers.

Such chemicals when used in large volumes pose a great potential risk to our health. This is more so when you consider the numerous types available for different crops. Chances are that we consume cocktails of these chemicals unknowingly which might cause potential health risk to the baby as their kidneys aren’t yet fully formed meaning that these chemical substances will circulate their body for a longer period of time.

iii.            No additives– additives such as monosodium glutamate, aspartame, brilliant blue, and quinolone yellow have a more potent effect on nerve cells than each on its own. The beauty with organic food is that it contains no additives.

iv.            Going Organic– this greatly benefits the environment as the process of growing crops naturally doesn’t interfere the natural environment. As a matter of fact, it works together maintaining the ecological balance.


If you’re a perspective parent, the best advice I can give you is to not invest too much money into baby clothes for your newborn. When you’re baby’s born you’ll be given enough clothes to clothe half of Africa (not a bad place to send them once they’ve been outgrown, FYI!), so it’s not worth buying too many.

clothes for kids
Our little snowball!

However, when the initial excitement and overwhelming involvement of your nearest and dearest dies down, and the gifts stop flowing in quite so quickly (and this WILL happen), when buying clothes for your baby or toddler, it’s well worth considering organic baby clothes, and I’ll explain why…

Love them or hate them, babies will always have a special place in our lives. Even if you are yet to become a parent, a baby is a gift that you ought to cherish. There has been a sharp increase in the number of baby clothes especially those being shipped from oversees. The availability of clothes locally has given us, especially we mums, numerous varieties to choose from.

My husband was perplexed the other day when we went out to buy baby clothes for Phoebe. He was surprised to see the variety on offer – endless colours, styles and textures. He even confessed that he wished we would just go to the good old days when we were growing up as the variety then was limited.

No expecting parents should ever buy clothes - you get given a mountain when your kid's born!
No expecting parents should ever buy clothes – you get given a mountain when your kid’s born!

When you enter a baby shop looking for your baby’s or toddler’s clothing, what do you look for? Do you prefer a piece that has a particular texture and colour, or do you just pick those pieces that are your baby’s size?

The former is definitely the way to go. This might sound cliché, but all of us want the best for our kids, even if it means forfeiting some of our own needs so that they don’t lack anything. This spirit should be replicated when it comes to buying clothes for your baby.

Always opt for organic clothes, preferably clothes made out of organic cotton. Take time when you are shopping around to check which baby shop offers these types of clothes in large volumes. This will enable you to have an easier time when it comes to browsing through the sizes and different colours on offer.

Here is the good news, the cotton acreage is growing worldwide, and this is as a result of the witty designers who are embracing organic cotton, making more appealing clothes that increase the demand and awareness of natural textiles. In the near future, every baby shop and fashion shops will have all-natural textile clothes just for you.

girls clothes

Synthetic clothes are currently, cheaply available compared to the organic clothes. As a result, most parents opt for the synthetic type than the more expensive organic clothes. The synthetic types pose several risks to your child’s health, including:
• Skin rushes
• Itchy allergic reactions

The main reason for these effects is the poor porous fibres that synthetic clothes have compared to the organic ones. As a result, heat accumulates which results into the skin rushes. Some of the synthetic material can cause allergies which might pose a threat to the life of your child.

Your baby or toddler’s health should come first. Therefore, ensure that the outfits you get for him or her are organic and safe. It will be a worthwhile investment which you will live to be grateful for.

All You Need to Know about the Feed-in-Tariff Programme

How the FIT works and how it can benefit you

If you may have noticed, in recent years, the UK government has been stepping up its drive for energy efficiency. As a matter of fact, there are many different schemes in place that encourage consumers to rely more on renewable energy – and one of the more popular schemes is the Feed-in-Tariff.

What is the Feed-in-Tariff?

Simply put, the Feed-in-Tariff programme is a programme that was launched in April of 2010 as a replacement for government grants in order to give consumers an incentive when they opt for renewable energy technologies. Technologies which allow consumers to qualify for the FIT include solar energy systems or PV systems, wind turbine systems, anaerobic digesters, hydroelectricity, and micro-combined power and heat.

Image attributed to Derek Mayes/Geograph.org.uk under Google Images  geograph.org.uk/photo/2326513
Image attributed to Derek Mayes/Geograph.org.uk under Google Images

The Department for Energy and Climate Change, or DECC, is the bureau in charge of the scheme’s policies, while Ofgem is the one in charge of administering the scheme.

When you qualify for the scheme, there are two ways in which you can receive the FIT benefits: one is through the Generation Tariff, and the other is through the Export Tariff.

How the Generation and Export Tariffs work

The generation tariff is the payment you will receive from your energy supplier for the amount of electricity or kWh you produce and use. The payments for the generation tariff continue for up to twenty years, and are also index-linked. The tariff rate you can expect to receive varies depending on the renewable technology you opt for. There are different generation tariff rates for solar panel systems, for wind turbine systems, and the like.

The export tariff, on the other hand, is the payment you can expect to receive from the energy supplier for the electricity you produce but do not use. In effect, you are ‘selling’ your electricity back to the supplier. For this, there is a standard amount of 4.77 pence per kilowatt hour regardless of what kind of renewable technology you have.

Of course, another benefit when you opt for renewable technology is the savings you get from your energy bill as well.  Since you will be producing your own electricity, your electrical consumption from your supplier will be reduced, thus resulting in a lower energy bill. Again, the amount of savings you have will depend on the technology you have.

How to register for the Feed-in-Tariff

First of all, you should choose an installer who is MCS-accredited. Once your system has been installed, the installer will then register you with the MCS’ database and present you with a certificate which confirms your compliance with the MCS.  Afterwards, the installer can then help you register for the Feed-in-Tariff. All you have to do is fill in an application form, present your certificate with the MCS, and present the Energy Performance Certificate which proves that your home has an efficiency rating of D or higher.

With these requirements, the energy supplier will then check your installation on the MCS database, confirm your registration and eligibility as well as the date when you are eligible for the FIT payments, and add you to the Central FIT register of Ofgem. The supplier will also make arrangements with you on when you must provide your meter readings as well as when you can receive your FIT payment.

You can always learn more about how to benefit from the government’s Feed-in-Tariff programme by speaking to energy efficiency experts at npower. With the right renewable technology in your home, you can start benefiting from the FIT.

Re-use Paper Bags to Save the Environment – AND Money!

Paper bags have become more popular since the recent introduction of fees for plastic bags in supermarkets and shops in the UK. Environmental issues have really risen to people’s consciousness now because of this – and we’re definitely not complaining! Paper bags are a thousand times better for the environment, are a lot safer when for kids and pets in the home, and have tonnes more used that their plastic counterparts.

Continue reading “Re-use Paper Bags to Save the Environment – AND Money!”


OK, so I lied. There aren’t literally a million ways cycling can benefit you, but now I have you attention, perhaps you’ll carry on reading and learn of a few you weren’t aware of :o)

Cycling is an essential part of our lives. Remember those childhood days when we longed to ride a bike, practically begging our parents to buy us one and teach us to ride? Now grown up, some of us might have grown out of it and we could really do with getting back in the saddle (a horse saying, but it works!) and remember where the expression “it’s like riding a bike” comes from, because cycling has a whole plethora of benefits you may not be aware of.

Cycling in Barcelona (pre-Phoebe! A LIFETIME ago!)

1. Physical fitness – cycling is a great way to keep in shape. Those who cycle for 20-40 minutes three times a week are healthier and physically fit. Cycling keeps your body in shape as it sheds your excess weight naturally, unlike other forms of exercises which might make your body shape appear out of proportion.

2. A natural anti-aging solution – cycling exposes you to the daylight, and cycling for at least 20 minutes accrues numerous benefits to your body. Regular cycling protects your skin against the harmful effects of UV radiation in addition to reducing signs of ageing. Your body needs vitamin D which is synthesized in exposure to sunlight.

3. Kick out illnesses – do you often catch colds or flues even when you take medications in advance? Well, it’s time to get cycling because this might just be the solution you’ve been looking for. Moderate exercise makes your cells more active, preparing them to fight off any illness. Cycling provides the perfect type of exercise for those who shy away from the gym.

Mountain biking in North Wales
Mountain biking in North Wales

4 A safe way to lose excess weight – many people think that an quick way to lose weight is to run a marathon or jog often, while this might work for those who are slightly heavy; it poses a great risk for those with lots of excess weight. Just ponder about it, 3-4 times the body weight goes crashing through your body when your either your feet strikes the ground. This is a lot of force which puts you at great risk. Instead, riding a bike provides a great and safe way to lose weight, most of your weight is taken by the saddle, so the skeleton doesn’t take the batter continuously.

5. Improves your social life – whether it’s your family or clique of friends, riding bikes is a nice way to interact with them and you race each other to the finish line. Get to be more real with your friends by engaging in healthy competitions. Winners get to boost their self-esteem while those who came out short prepare for the next big ride.

For those with a young family, your exercise behaviour will influence directly on your kids exercise choices. So stop being a lazy bum and start riding. Riding a bike is easy and you don’t have to sweat it, unless you are preparing for a marathon.

6. Less Fatigue – long hours of sedentary lifestyles from our workplace to our homes has increased the chances of fatigue when we conduct a few manual work such as lifting and pushing. Physical activity such as riding for even a few minutes is effective way to condition your body.

7. Breakthroughs – once you start riding, you are less likely to stop. You will be tempted to beat your previous record, and this is especially so when you have bike friends of whom you are competing with. This will motivate you to keep you’re ‘A-game’.


The walls and roof are the usual suspects when it comes to energy loss in a home but windows play a significant role too and are often overlooked when it comes to saving on energy bills.  However, there are many window treatments available, not only for decoration but for energy-saving and efficiency too.  Various treatments are designed to enhance heat gain in the summer and minimise heat loss in the winter, but there are many different methods for you to choose from, some of them more specialised than others.



I had ideals when I was pregnant about the type of mum I wanted to be, and about the type of kids I wanted to raise. Well-mannered, well-rounded, academic individuals. Now, my biggest hope for Phoebe is that she’ll be happy in whatever she wants to do. Cheesy, but true!

Now I just want us to spend as much time as possible doing things as a family, which is why I have written this article; it features the best places in the UK Steve and I have visited with Phoebe so far!

Monkey Forest, Staffordshire


Great for getting up-close to monkeys as they roam freely round their spacious enclosure! Phoebe was fascinated watching the baby monkeys play fighting, jumping all over each other, climbing trees at lightning speed and irritating the hell out of their elders!

It’s a fairly cheap day out too, compared to other places. An adult ticket is £7.50 and a child is £5.50 (from ages 3-14), which was good for us because Phoebe went for free, but being so small she couldn’t really take advantage of the great play area there.

Longleat Adventure Park 

If you live in Wiltshire, then this multi million pound attraction is meant for you. Whether you are a family or a group of friends, you can take the advantage and spend some quality time and experience the wild nature Wiltshire has to offer.


From the Jungle full of animals, including the cheeky monkeys, the wolves, the rhinos and even big cats. Longleat Adventure Park offer numerous beautiful sceneries that will leave you wanting for more.

Come and experience the amazing Sea lion escort and Gorilla Colony


For only: £31. 50 for adults aged 15-59 years

£22.50 for children aged 3-14 years

£24.50 for seniors aged 60+ years.


Roundhay Tropical World, Leeds West Yorkshire


If you love nature, Roundhay is definitely the place to be if you live in West Yorkshire. You and your family will always receive a warm welcome here. Tropical World hosts large number of animals including; bats, butterflies, crocodiles, gorgeous meerkat and snakes. The Tropical World also hosts numerous rare bird species.


For only:

Free Entry for children under 5 years.

£2.30 for children aged 5-15 years

£3.40 for adults


Twycross Zoo, Burton Road Atherstone Warwickshire


Set in more than 80 acres, the Twycross Zoo hosts more than 600 animals from more than 150 species. With a wide variety of primates, the Zoo prides itself as a primates’ specialist.

From the snow leopard cubs to the Asian elephants every species will definitely make a lasting impression that will make you long for more.

Enjoy our daily outdoor play areas, indoor plays and the amazing gardens.


For only:

£16.95 for adults

£11.95 for Children aged 3-16 years

Free Entry for Children under 3 years

£14.50 for Concession (Senior Citizens and Students with NUS card)


Sea Life London Aquarium, Westminster Bridge Road South Bank Greater London


Are a diehard fan of sea life and live in the Greater London? The Sea Life London Aquarium is the place to be. Come and experience the home of one of the European’s largest collections of global marine life situated in the heart of London.


Admission prices to the amazing Sea Life Aquarium are:

£19.60 for Adults

£15.90 for Kids

£75 for Family

This article was provided by World Wide Wales Team.


The problem with having a best friend is they kind of have a hold over you where you feel obliged to agree to do them favours, and follow through with promises you made months ago. Like to go on days out with the youth group they volunteer with to make sure the kids don’t get kidnapped/accidentally hurt themselves/deliberately hurt others/litter/be rude to the public/get lost, or the magnitude of other ridiculous things young kids do. Great.

However, accompanying the group to Green Wood Forest Park in North Wales did give me opportunity to check it out as a potential family day out for when Phoebe’s a little older, and review it for my readers…

The rollercoaster powered by people!
The rollercoaster powered by people!

Looking for a perfect weekend escape plan for your young family? Well, Greenwood Forest is the best place to spend your weekend in North Wales. This amazing park has awesome attractions which span out the woodlands.
The Greenwoods’ 17 acres houses among other things: the people powered roller coaster, Jungle Boast and the big, bouncy Giant Jumper. You and your family will get to discover many fun activities and adventures. By exploring the BareFoot Trail or hitch hiking the Moon Karts, you will definitely have a fabulous time in the field.
You might be shy of the outdoors, and guess what? The Greenwood Forest has you covered. Even during the rainy days, the fun still continues at the Enchanted Wood Barn which is filled with lots of fun indoor activities. Everybody, especially the young kids will absolutely love it.

Little Forest PlayBarn, Toddlers village, Tunnel Warren even and the Little Green Run are just a charm to the smaller kids. Kids will get to interact with one another, make new friends as they expand their social circle and have fun.
The Forest theatre has more goodies to offer than any other park in North Wales. There is a lot of entertainment for kids that will keep them thrilled and excited throughout. Howard the Magician will keep the kids smiling and amazed throughout his magic tricks, while Ricardo the Pirate will keep them laughing as the sail along the stories.

With all these amazing activities, you and your family need to cool off and enjoy refreshments. The Green Oak Café is the place to take a break. Choose from the delicious hot and cold meals as well as a great locally sourced products including Fairtrade. In addition you can grab a bite from one of the onsite snack tuck-shops.
Greenwood offers the best and caters for children of all ages. From the Green Dragon roller coaster to the pedal car race track, you and your family will have a fantastic time that you will live to remember.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to head out to Greenwood Park! Check out the Greenwood Website for the latest offers and updates. Don’t miss out!

This article was provided by http://www.kayakingplus.com/


It seems these days we have a bin of every colour of the rainbow for various recyclable goods. Perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration, but it seems we could be heading for a Red for Monday, Orange for Tuesday, Yellow for Wednesday etc situation. It doesn’t surprise me, then, that so many people are put off recycling because it actually does take a bit of effort to get your head around it all. Hopefully, and I am fully aware of how much I’m blowing my own trumpet here, this article may help…

recycling bins

HELP! What Can I Actually Recycle These Days?

So we are all aware that numerous products that we own are recyclable. From the can of your favourite soda to your usual paper napkins, these products can easily be recycled by reprocessing them. Take for instance the can of soda; the rubbish collectors usually sort the trash according to the type from polythene, organic paper to metals. These products are then taken to recycling factories where they are re-processed and then reused.

Almost everything we own, from the wearable to electronic gadgets, all these products are indeed recyclable. How is that possible?

Well, here are some of the most obvious things that you own that are actually recyclable:

a)      Batteries– indeed batteries can be recycled. Whether it’s the rechargeable or single-use ones, once the power juice is at a very low level, these items are usually shipped to the manufacturer or your local recycling firm who will re-use every component of the batteries. So don’t let your good old car battery lie around your garage doing nothing.

b)      Cardboard boxes– have you recently moved to a new home and you still have the cardboard boxes? Well, unless you are planning to move to a new home very soon, and soon I mean by end month, you can donate them to the local shelter homes or a religious centre that takes care the homeless. These cardboard boxes would be of great help to those who are homeless.

big box

c)      Clothes– we all have those favourite outfits that we don’t want to let go. It’s time to move on my friend, donate those items to the homeless through your local community program or religious initiative. These outfits would go a long way in helping those who lack essential basic clothing to wear.

Yes, Steven, it can be recycled #excited
Yes, Steven, it can be recycled #excited

d)      Old mobile phones and tablets– you might be having one or several in your bedroom drawers or closets. Most of these gadgets are fully functional and can be made useful. The only defect that these mobile phones and other electronic gadgets are guilty of is a worn out housing. For just less than a pound, you can buy a new housing for the mobile phone. With a few DIY tips on YouTube, you can safely change the old housing and fix the new one. I can guarantee that the phone will look brand new just as you bought it. With the refabricated phone, you can opt to use it as an alternative for another mobile service provider or sell it on eBay and earn some quick cash.

Other, lesser-known items which you can recycle include:

e)      Oil/grease – if you have lots of it and not in use, you can opt to sell or donate to a construction company especially those who use timber. Oil or grease is a good repellent of termites and prevents mould from growing.

f)       Shoes – we are guilty as charged when it comes to owning a pair or pairs of shoes which we no longer use. If you have outgrown them, you can opt to donate them to the local shelter programs, if they have some value you can trade them at your local thrift shop or flea market for an item in exchange.

g)      Ink toner/ cartridges

h)      DVDs/ CDs

i)        Foam packs

j)        your old Tooth brush!

China and ivory

The ivory crisis is an extremely serious matter and the Chinese government is one of the toughest in combating ivory smuggling

Sir, Your leading article (Africa’s other war, Oct 8) stated that China has not yet faced up to the ivory crisis or its role in it. This is far from the facts.

China takes the ivory crisis extremely seriously and is committed to tackling it. Asian and African elephants are species that receive grade-one protection in China. The Law on Wildlife Protection is being exercised in rigorous terms. And the Chinese government is one of the toughest in combating ivory smuggling. Under Chinese law, smuggling ivory may lead to life imprisonment. In recent years China Customs has rooted out more than 200 criminal gangs involved in smuggling endangered species.

China and ivory

The State Forestry Administration, China Customs and the International Fund for Animal Welfare worked together to place Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES) posters at hundreds of ports of entry and exit in the country. E arlier this year, China led an intercontinental effort of 22 Asian and African countries to fight smuggling of endangered species, elephants included. More than 10,000 law enforcement people were mobilised and a large number of cases cracked. China’s efforts were applauded by CITES.

We stand ready to work with all other parties to make continued and unremitting efforts to protect elephants and other wildlife.

Miao Deyu
Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in London