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Leather or fabric: What is the best sofa material for family homes? ~ GP

No matter what the style of your home, there are always going to be practical features that you have to take into account when picking items of furniture or soft furnishings.

For those looking for new sofas to buy, practical choices are particularly important. Children and pets can be one of the most important things to consider as you need to ask yourself what happens if they make a mess? Or what if the cat scratches up the sofa just days after you’ve bought it?
To make the best decision for you and your family you need to weigh up the pros and cons of different sofas styles as well as different materials. Leather and fabric are your two main options here … but which is best?

Leather sofas are a definite advantage when it comes to cleaning, simply wipe the dirt off and the job is done. There are even leather polishes which give them a fresh smell and appearance for after they have been cleaned.
Fabric sofas don’t offer such immediate cleaning results but their cushion covers can often be removed and washed separately to keep them looking at their best. This can offer a deeper, more thorough, clean than is available with leather sofas but the process is more time consuming and the risk of stains more pronounced.

Scratches and damage
Cats are known for scratching furniture – whether we like it or not. Leather sofas are definitely not great at withstanding this sort of damage and once damaged they are difficult to revert back to their original condition unless you know what you’re doing or get it done professionally.
Fabric sofas are very good at hiding wear and tear like cat scratches, but they do fade with time and stray threads can become a real snagging hazard. The best option for either sofa is to discourage pets from climbing onto furniture and using throws, blankets or covers to protect your sofa when you are not around to keep pets off the cushions!

Fabric sofas are cosy and warm but you may find that some cheaper materials can feel a little scratchy on the skin. Leather sofas, on the other hand, are typically a lot softer but the material can be a lot colder in the winter and cause bare skin to sweat and stick to it during the summer.

Ultimately, only you can decide which material is best for your family sofa but as a general rule leather is the best choice for long-lasting appearances and easy cleaning while fabric is better for hiding damage and scratches and for deeper cleaning.

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Top five British locations that mix rural with urban ~ GP

In the UK today, there are many people who are completely undecided on the kind of area they want to live in. Some people might desire the idyllic lifestyle that comes with living in rural settings but still with easy access to a big cosmopolitan city.
Or, on the other hand, they might want the exuberant city lifestyle with nice walks in the countryside on their doorstep. People often ask“how can I have both” – and here we tell all by highlighting the top five British locations that mix rural with urban.

1. Cambridge

From botanical gardens and sprawling parks, to fantastic shopping, an airport and incredible access to London;new build homes in Cambridgeshire are fit for purpose combining modern living in more rural surroundings.

2. Leeds

There are few places that mix rural and urban better than Yorkshire. With most cities in the county boasting modern living and great nightlife with easy access to natural beauty, it was hard to pick just one.
Leeds is a wonderful example though. The city has been on the up for years now, attracting huge business and a plethora of young professionals living in the city centre. The countryside is on your doorstep and places like Otley really have that rural feel so many of us crave.

3. Glasgow

If Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital city, Glasgow has to be the country’s cosmopolitan capital. From incredible city pads and an impressive nightlife to the upmarket rural area of Thorntonhill – Glasgow really knows how to combine the two.

4. Manchester

Manchester has long been described as the ‘London of the North’. It has an impressive industrial history and many of its inhabitants live right in the centre, whilst the students live in places like Fallowfield. Alongside this you also have the Pennines on your doorstep with incredible properties available in stunning locations.

5. Nottingham

Nottingham has come a long way in recent years. The centre and surrounding areas boast incredible music venues and arenas, along with contemporary theatres and galleries. If you are looking for a more rural setting though, explore the famous royal hunting preserve of Sherwood Forest; a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

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Luck is only for the unprepared

Boy oh boy, Lady Luck seems to be little too generous on me or perhaps my planets are perfectly aligned during this time of the year. Whatever it is, I hope it lasts long! You must be wondering why am I so overwhelmed. Well, I’m on a winning streak and I couldn’t help but share with y’all.

So here’s how it all started. I found an old pair of jeans of mine lying around in my cupboard for an incredibly long time. Just when I thought to give it away to charity, out of the blue I found a £20 in the back pocket of the jeans!

And that’s not all. When I was on my way home from work last night, I happened to buy a scratch card (I usually don’t buy scratchcards). There was this strange voice in my head that much against my will forced me to buy one. I ended up buying three and one of them was a winning one.

That’s all? Nope! So I had registered to a site named GameVillage Bingo after a friend forced me to. I’ve never been much into online bingo. Just for fun I racked up few bingo cards and played a game. And then guess what? I won a whopping £50. Ha! Who could have seen that coming? I couldn’t believe my eyes. Is that really happening to me? Fingers crossed, I hope this lucky charm or my stars or whatever it is, remains the same forever. In fact tonight I’m playing at the site all over again to see how long my good luck continues. Guess I got off on the right foot this morning. Sweet!


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Top ten tips for a stress-free retirement ~ GP

Retirement is supposed to be a time to relax, enjoy new things and live the rest of your life in comfort, but if you haven’t properly prepared for it then it can turn into a stressful time.

Making sure you’ve made plans and have everything covered before you reach retirement will ensure it’s as stress-free as possible.

Here are top 10 tips to help you plan ahead:

1. Be honest about how you want to live

When planning for retirement it helps to have a good idea of how you want to live. Don’t just look at standard figures about the cost of living – tailor your retirement plan to suit the lifestyle you want to lead.

2. Research the area you want to live

If your retirement plan involves moving to a different area or even country, you’ll need to research the costs associated with living in that location. Look at the different retirement apartments for sale so you know whether it’s viable.

3. Calculate the costs

Once you know how you want to live, it is then time to do a few calculations. There are free online retirement planning calculators that can tell you how much you’ll need to save and when you can expect to retire based upon those calculations.

4. Search for the best retirement plan

Don’t choose the first retirement planning account you find. Compare your options and see which offers the best returns.

5. Compare savings versus retirement accounts

Retirement accounts can be a good option, but they do come with a number of risks. The main one is that you might not get back what you have put in. It may therefore be a good idea to simply open a savings account of your own and use that for your retirement.

6. Think of ways to boost your income

Work out how much money you will be receiving for your retirement. This includes any personal savings along with employment based savings you have made. If there is a shortfall, think of ways you can increase your income – such as selling off any assets you may have.

7. Check if you’re entitled to benefits

You may be eligible for various benefits when you retire. Double check exactly what you will be entitled to as it could help make the cost of retirement a lot more affordable.

8. Consider part-time employment
Many people choose to work part time during their retirement. Not only does this ease the financial pressures but it is also a good option for those who feel a bit lost without work.

9. Getting a reverse mortgage

There are many ways to make your retirement more affordable. Taking out a reverse mortgage could be a great idea and is worth considering.

10. Get retirement advice

Before you retire, consider asking for professional advice. You will get all the help and advice you need to make retirement work for you and may learn a few new tricks that aren’t covered here.

Retirement can be a stressful time but it really doesn’t have to be if you start planning in advance.

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Simple Ways of Reducing Your Carbon Footprint at Home

With so many appliances, equipment and pieces of technology being used in our daily lives, it’s no secret that we’re all significantly contributing to climate change through the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Whilst you may not be able to save the world single-handedly, there are plenty of simple ways you can reduce your carbon footprint at home, and save yourself some money in the process!


Here are some of them…

Insulate your house. A significant amount of heat energy is lost through the walls and, in particular, the roof of your house. Installing both cavity wall insulation and loft insulation can help cut around £300 off your energy bills each year, as well as reducing your energy output. Some energy providers even offer free insulation when you sign up with them. Money Saving Expert has some good advice on this.

Replace your appliances. If your appliances and white goods are getting on a bit then there’s a good chance they’re not as energy efficient as they should be. Updating your appliances such as washing machine, dishwasher, etc, is a great way of reducing your carbon footprint, even though the initial outlay may be a little higher. There are some good offers and promotions around, however, such as the HiSpek Eco Campaign which saves you money when you trade in your old appliances.

Switch off electronics at the wall. It’s a tip that’s as old as time itself, but one that is still important to bear in mind. If you leave your electronics plugged in and switched on at the wall then they’re still using electricity. If possible, switch them off and unplug them to ensure they won’t be costing you any money. Just putting the TV on standby will still be wasting energy and costing you money.

Fill up your appliances. Before you use the dishwasher, washing machine or tumble dryer, make sure they’re as full as possible. Doing one big wash is a lot more energy efficient than doing lots of little washes and will save you a bit of time too.

Hang your clothes out to dry. You can try skipping the tumble dryer altogether by hanging your clothes out to dry naturally. Obviously this is harder to do if the weather isn’t great but is worth it if possible.

Turn the heating down. You could try leaving the heating off as much as possible and wrapping up warm, but if you do have the heating on, just turning it down by 1°C can save you up to £60 a year. Having the heating constantly on at a low heat is also more energy efficient than having it on for short blasts.

Stock up your fridge and freezer. Having your fridge and freezer fully stocked will save you energy as they have to work harder to stay cold if they’re empty.

Cook a few meals at a time. If you have the time, try cooking a few meals at once (much easier if they just use the oven) to save time energy over the course of several days. Similarly, you could cook a large meal that can be popped in the fridge or freezer and will serve you for a few days. There are some great recipe ideas here.


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