How To Keep Your Skin Looking Healthy

Are you prone to dry skin? Or maybe you are trying to defy the signs of ageing, such as fine lines and wrinkles? (Although I do like to remember that getting older is a normal process and there is nothing wrong with looking our age! However much we might wish, we can’t stay youthful forever!) If you want to keep your skin looking healthy, here are some top tips…

How to keep your skin looking healthy

Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for healthy looking for skin. When we are sleep deprived, not only do we get bags under our eyes, but we become more likely to suffer from spots or other skin ailments. Even just generally speaking, the difference between the appearance of a well rested person compared to when they lack sleep is noticeable!

Skin, healthy skin, look younger

Nutrition

Your skin needs essential vitamins and nutrition to stay healthy. So eat your fruit and veg! Dark skin berries are especially good for your skin. Anthocyanidins are the blue and red plant pigments found in fruit, seeds and berries and are known to protect and preserve the body’s natural collagen.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. Remember, this is not taken care of by moisturing; dehydrated skin and dry skin are not the same thing! Moisturing your skin stops it from becoming dry, but hydrating your skin by drinking water ensures the skin cells are full and therefore improves your complexion.

Drink Green Tea

Green tea is becoming well known for it’s antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are known to neutralise the damaging effect of free radicals generated by sun damage to skin. So pour yourself a cuppa and relax!

Let Your Skin Breathe

Leave your face make-up free sometimes to allow your skin to breathe, and generally try not to clog up your pores with too many products. Wash your face regularly – but not too often – with plain warm water.

Healthy skin, face, protect skin

Protect Your Skin

Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays using suncream and also try to cover up. And avoid staying out in the sun too long! It is recommended that when the sun is strongest (11am – 3pm UK) that you stick to the shade. Remember that this includes cloudy weather too! Vitamin D is essential, just be sure to balance it with protecting your skin.

Colladeen

Colladeen by Nature’s Best is a natural supplement that works to promote natural collagen production. This increases elasticity in the skin, and also protects it from sun damage. It contains essential vitamins, such as vitamin C, lutein, biotin and niacin, and also green tea. Studies suggest these may play a protective role against the damaging effects of sunlight on skin.

Colladeen studies suggest that after 24 weeks, there will be less lines and wrinkles, firmer skin and visibly 50% reduction in spider veins. It also states that a natural SPF of 15 will build up internally too. I have been trying out Colladeen for a few weeks and will let you know how I get on!

Colladeen, collagen, skin care, healthy skin

Colladeen Visage costs £18.95 for 60 tablets (one month supply). You can purchase them here: Colladeen.

*Disclosure: I was sent Colladeen for the purpose of review and was compensated for my time.

Top 10 Nutritional Foods to Eat During Pregnancy: Guest Post by Veronica – My Parenting Journey

Pregnancy is a time of strange cravings and increased appetite. While a pan of brownies sounds amazing, a pregnant woman needs vital nutrients to grow her unborn baby. It is ok to reach for snacks sometimes, but you have to make sure you are eating healthy, nutritional foods during pregnancy.

Poor diet leads to problems during pregnancy. Lack of nutrients can cause premature birth because a well-balanced diet gives your body the nutrients required for fetal development. If you want a healthy, smooth pregnancy, include these top ten nutritional foods to eat during pregnancy.

Top 10 Nutritional Foods to Eat During Pregnancy title with image of egg and avacado with grains

Eggs

Everyone knows that eggs are great for your body. Eggs are a low calorie, high protein food that contains omega-3 fatty acids. DHA is very important during pregnancy because it aids the brain development and formation of eyes in the unborn baby.

Salmon

Another source of omega-3 fatty acids is salmon. Omega-3 is vital for your baby’s development, and one of the best sources is salmon. Unlike other fishes, salmon contains low levels of mercury. Doctors encourage pregnant women to eat 8 to 12 ounces of salmon each week!

Beans

Pregnant women need a lot of protein during pregnancy, and beans are a fantastic way to get extra protein into your diet. Beans are also a source of iron, folic acid, potassium and magnesium. Another reason to eat beans is because they are a source of fiber, which relieves constipation and prevents hemorrhoids.

Avocados

Avocados are full of amazing vitamins for you and your growing baby. Most importantly, avocados offer a large amount of folic acid which ensures proper neural tube development. Avocados also have vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy immune system. Plus, pregnant women need healthy fats, so add some avocados to your salads and sandwiches.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes, just like carrots, get their orange color from carotenoids. This plant pigment converts to vitamin A when it enters our bodies. Sweet potatoes are also a source of vitamin C, folic acid, and fiber.

If you’re apprehensive about trying sweet potatoes, make baked sweet potato fries sprinkled with cinnamon. Kids generally love them, and they make a great side dish for dinner.

Greek Yogurt

Protein is the all-star during pregnancy, and Greek yogurt offers twice the amount of protein when compared to regular yogurt. Along with protein, Greek yogurt is a source of calcium and probiotics. To grow a healthy baby, a pregnant woman needs calcium to keep bones strong, for the baby and mom!

Dark, Leafy Greens

You have to make sure you include dark, leafy greens in your diet. Options include spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard greens and other dark greens. These foods are loaded down with vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, and K. Plus, leafy greens are a source for folic acid.

Leafy greens are easy to include in your diet. Add spinach to your salads. Put them into your soups, omelets or stir fry recipes. The options are endless.

Another reason you want to consume leafy greens is that they are a source of iron. For all mothers, anemia is a concern for pregnancy and right after birth. At the same time, your baby’s red blood cells must form and require iron to do so. It is a great reason to toss more spinach into your diet.

Carrots

Carrots are a source of vitamin A, which is an important part of your pregnancy diet. Vitamin A is responsible for the proper formation of skin, eyes, teeth, and bones. Carrots also supply vitamin C and vitamin in your diet. Also, the high fiber content in carrots will keep your bowels moving regularly. When you are pregnant, that is essential to prevent constipation, which can cause hemorrhoids.

A bunch of freshly picked carrots

Whole Grains

Another nutritional food for your pregnancy is whole grains, which are high in fiber and nutrients. Whole grains contain vitamin E, which is an antioxidant, and mineral selenium, as well as phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are plant compounds that protect your cells. There are a variety of whole grains to pick from, such as oats, spelt and barley.

Oats are one of the easiest to include in your diet. They are full of minerals that increase your heart’s health.

Nuts

All nuts are extremely healthy and belong in your pregnancy diet. Nuts are the perfect snack, and we know pregnant women love (and need) to snack often. You can put a variety of nuts in a bag for the perfect on-the-go snack. Nuts contain dozens of minerals, such as magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. Together, these nutrients help your baby grow!

Believe it or not, walnuts, almonds, and pistachios contain omega-3 fatty acids. We know that these are crucial for the baby’s brain development. So, feel free to include these in your diet often!

Eat Well During Pregnancy

Don’t worry – you don’t have to include all of these in your diet each day. Spread them out throughout the week! Have eggs for breakfast a few days with a cup of Greek yogurt. Make a salad with carrots and spinach. Toss a bag of nuts into your purse before work. Eating well during pregnancy benefits you and your new baby.

Veronica at My Parenting Journey

About the Author

Hi! My name is Veronica Mitchell. I am a mother to two adorable little girls and a handsome little boy. I spend my days caring from my children, packing lunches, reading aloud, kissing boo-boos, and working as the Editor of myparentingjourney.com.

Looking After Your Health

We only have one body (and one brain), so it is vital to take good care of it! As obvious as some of the basic ways to help stay healthy are, they can easily get forgotten about within busy everyday lives. Sometimes a quick reminder prompts us to re-evaluate our current habits and make positive changes. So let’s start with simple daily practices that support good health…

Looking After Your Health text, image of lady running

Daily Habits

Get enough sleep – a good night sleep has numerous benefits; it improves memory, attention and concentration, helps regulate mood, helps you to maintain a healthy weight, fights off inflammation, lowers stress and inspires creativity too!

Be active – move around as much as possible throughout the day, try to avoid sitting for long periods, and exercise regularly. Some practical ways to do this in daily life might include simply taking the stairs instead of the lift, ditching the car and walking or cycling to work, taking a lunchtime walk, joining a gym, taking a fitness class or jogging/ park run. You could also consider a standing desk if you work in an office. These are just a few examples.

Eat healthily – make sure you eat a balanced diet with plenty of nutritional value. Ensure foods rich in protein, fibre and essential vitamins. Remember your 5 a day! Avoid excess salt, sugar and saturated fats. Drink plenty of water too. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

Take time to relax – taking time to enjoy a hobby, reading a book, taking a bath or watching TV; whatever helps you to unwind. Other relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga are also beneficial, or indulge in some art therapy.

Stay connected – whether it is a quick chat with a colleague, catching up with a friend, a phone call to family or sharing your feelings, it is important to talk and stay connected.

Track Your Health At Home

Whilst monitoring your own health at home should not replace consulting with professionals, it is very useful to track your own health at home. The information can be used to motivate yourself to improve your health and pick up any danger signs early. Often the reports from apps and devices can be sent straight to your GP too so that they can monitor results too; which means you can work together more closely with your healthcare provider.

Medical image - stethoscope, pen and notes

Health Concerns – Visiting Your GP

If you are concerned about your health, in the first instance go see your GP. Of course, common illness and ailments can be treated at home, and you can also pop into a pharmacy for advice. But if you have any doubts or niggles about symptoms then do make an appointment asap. There is no need to feel embarrassed or fear you are wasting their time; it is far better to air on the side of caution if you are worried.

Complaints

If you feel you have been fobbed off, be assertive and ensure you are satisfied with the care you receive. You can ask for a second opinion if necessary, or even request to be referred to a specialist. You should also be able to find formal complaints procedures online if needed.

Of course, most of the time professionals do their job extremely well and offer excellent care. Cases of medical negligence are thankfully relatively rare in comparison to the number of people cared for effectively. However, if your care falls below acceptable standards and this directly causes an injury to your health, then you may consider pursuing action.

However, most of the time significant errors do not happen. For the vast majority of people, such mistakes are hopefully not something you will need to think about!

Health Conditions and Treatment

It can be daunting to find out you have a health condition. Remember though that getting a correct diagnosis means that the condition can be treated, or at least managed, in the best way possible, and as soon as possible. Ask questions of professionals and seek support from local groups and networks. Talk to friends and family too. Also try to focus on any positive changes that can be made to potentially improve outcomes, if possible.

Remember: if you have a health condition, good daily habits are just as important (if not more so) to promote staying healthy!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Beginners Guide To Mountain Biking with Halfords

When it comes to mountain biking, are you more likely to go shredding, or end up OTB? (Hint: if you don’t know what these terms are, check out the guide below!) If you are a novice, or are yet to try it out but are keen to have a go, then this is the post for you!

Mountain biking is an excellent way to get outside and enjoy spending time outdoors. It is an excellent way to keep fit; fantastic for health and wellbeing. Not only that, with so many tracks to choose from throughout the UK, it can also inspire and motivate people to see more of the country too. Plus it is a lovely clean, eco- friendly hobby (or is it a sport?!) as well. So basically, it is pretty much perfect!

Whilst I am somewhat of a beginner myself, I do have some excellent expert tips to get you started, thanks to this very handy Halfords Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking, and also with the help of some very experienced fellow bloggers too…

Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking

Choose The Correct Bike

There are several factors to consider when choosing a mountain bike; style of frame, wheel size, type of tyre and what type of mountain bike itself. The Beginner’s guide talks you through these considerations, so check that out for further details. Halfords stock a great range of mountain bikes, so you’re bound to find the ideal one for you!

With regard to the type of bike; there is front suspension, full suspension and electric. I have noticed that electric mountain bikes can sometimes get negative press, as they are seen as ‘cheating’ or somehow missing the point. However, there are also benefits to them, as this article explains. I particularly wanted to give them a quick mention though, because I believe they might potentially make mountain biking more accessible for some SEND people, so that is certainly worth noting.

Get the Gear

Any experienced mountain biker will tell you, having the right equipment is absolute key! Safety gear – helmet, elbow and knee pads, and gloves – are essential. Welsh Mum also suggests mudguards so your legs don’t get covered, waterproof gear, a comfortable backpack, and the right shoes and socks all make a big difference. Check out the gear list in the Halfords guide.

Chronicles of Theo mountain biking

Image: Chronicles of Theo mountain biking.

Bike Trails

There are trails all over the UK and they are helpfully colour coded to a standard grading system, so you can pick the right level of difficulty. Green is the beginners route, if you are just starting out. You can find out more about locations in the Halfords guide. (Told you, it’s super useful!)

Expert Advice

Miss LJ Beauty spends a huge part of her life mountain biking, and has been lucky enough to travel the world. Here is her advice:

Why not join a local mountain biking group? To find like minded people of all ability’s The key to learning is have fun! Mountain biking is progressive sport there are always new things to learn. No matter what level you are. Also don’t be afraid to ask someone on a trail! We are a friendly bunch And are more than happy to help!

Get on your bike and come shredding!

Miss LJ Beauty Fort William down hill

Image: Miss LJ Beauty on Fort William down hill.

Have you been mountain biking? Why do you love it? Where is your favourite trail? Tell me in comments!

*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Halfords.

Forest Holidays: Our Winter Retreat to Forest of Dean

Back in January we decided to book a last second escape to the Forest of Dean for a winter retreat at Forest Holidays. This was our first time visiting but it came recommended from friends who have stayed at a different location on one of their other sites. Squiggle’s anxiety was high, so we figured some extra time relaxing outdoors might be just what we all needed. It didn’t work miracles in that regard (but then again, I am pretty sure they don’t claim to either though!) but it was still a lovely holiday! Here is our review…

Title written on image of Forest Holidays cabin.

The Cabin

There are three main styles of cabin; golden oak, silver birch and copper beech. The main differences between them are that silver birch has a hot tub, and golden oak has both a log burner and a hot tub. We intentionally wanted to avoid having a log burner for personal reasons, and silver birch was fully booked, so that made it pretty easy to choose!

Despite copper beech being their cheapest (and most basic) option, we were absolutely amazed by the size of the cabin! The whole place had a wonderful air of luxury about it, whilst also feeling very homely. I loved how beautifully in keeping the decor is; very natural. I was very impressed! And everything is eco- friendly wherever possible too, which we were really glad to see.

Eco friendy kitchen kit

I was quite worried that it might be chilly in winter but the underfloor heating took care of that! If anything, it was actually abit too warm when we arrived but the thermastat was easy to use and had separate settings for each room too, so that was soon remedied. I don’t know how hot the cabins might get in a heatwave with all that glass though! But given that they seem very well designed overall, I am assuming there are measures in place to maintain optimum temperatures. We were certainly able to do that during our winter stay anyway, despite having both sunny days and snow in the time we were there! They are really cosy and it is easy to feel right at home there.

Here is my video tour of the cabin…

The Setting

The cabin we had was in the meadow so it was very open, whereas some of them are tucked away amongst the trees. Honestly, in my opinion, regardless of where your cabin is situated, you can’t go wrong.

Our view from the cabin. A meadow with cabins spread out.

The site is in a beautiful location, in the Forest of Dean, with stunning scenic walks all around. Regardless of the time of year we visited, even in Winter, we couldn’t fail to be in awe of the forest setting. Here are just a few of my pictures taken, the first onsite and the others literally a few moments walk off the main site…

Stunning forest setting of the Forest Holidays site.

Beautiful views at the Forest of Dean

Winter scenes at Forest of Dean

Forest of Dean

By the way, the sheer drop on the above photos is less breathtaking and more heartstopping when your autistic child suddenly bolts!!!! Especially if you happen to suffer from vertigo as well, like I do! So I recommend if you explore this area with a young child, or one with SEND, that you not only have nerves of steel, but a very tight grip of their hand!

We don’t have a dog personally, but the site is very dog- friendly and it would be the ideal holiday to take a dog if you are an owner. This is probably also worth noting though if you are nervous around dogs though I guess! Squiggle loved seeing all the dogs about going for walks, she was delighted!

Facilities

Forest Retreat

The Forest Retreat is the main hub where you check in and book activities, and is home to the shop and restaurant. It also has pottery activities for children.

The shop sells a lovely range of gifts, books and activities that are carefully chosen to be perfectly on theme for the nature of the holiday. It also sells a wonderful selection of food and drink; including an extensive range of cider, wine and beer, fresh produce and a range of Cook meals for easy self- catering dining options.

Forest Retreat photo strip showing selection in store.

Food

The menu has plenty to choose from, to either eat in the restaurant or take away. The food was consistently good and service was prompt.

Bike Hire

Bike hire is available onsite from £28 per break per adult or from £25 per child. It is recommended you book these in advance. We didn’t hire bikes on this occasion but Squiggle did ask about it (towards the end of the holiday!) so we would definitely consider it next time.

Cycle Hire building from the outside.

Play Area

The play area was sectioned off during our visit as they were carrying out work on it. It looked more suitable for younger children, but Squiggle would have had a quick go if it were available no doubt!

Bug Hotel

Granted not really one of the facilities per se (at least not for humans!) but I wanted to mention the bug hotel anyway. We have seen these in many places but this one is particularly well made!

Large bug hotel with information sign. Squiggle is stood next to it.

Activities

There are a range of forest ranger led activities available for various ages. Some are shorter at 90 minutes in duration, whilst one survival course is half a day. As well as daytime activities, there is also a night-time ranger adventure so you can spy on the nocturnal forest inhabitants after dark! Dogs are allowed on some of the activities but not all courses, and some have a minimum age for children, so do check details before booking. There are also a selection of activities off- site that can be booked through Forest Holidays as well.

Squiggle on the winter trail.

Squiggle wasn’t up for any of these due to her anxiety, so we opted to do their self- guided seasonal trail instead. This cost £6.95 and she got a prize at the end for completing it. This was a really engaging activity. She started off reluctant to join in but as soon as we got to the first few stops and solved the clues she was hooked! We really enjoyed it and it was definitely one of the highlights of our holiday.

Seasonal trail clue

Local Places To Visit

There are numerous walks nearby surrounded by beauty and tranquility. Aside from that, there are several local places to visit that might be of interest. Forest Holidays have some suggestions of what’s nearby. I would really love to visit Clearwell Caves and also Puzzlewood sometime in future.

We did go to Beechenhurst, mainly to go on the sculpture trail. However, Squiggle was very near tired and nearing meltdown, so we didn’t actually find any sculptures and ended up just having a quick wander instead. I would love to return when it is better timing for her though; it looked like a lovely place to spend a day and I really want to see the sculptures – from the photos they look brilliant!

One thing I will remember from our trip though was that, as we drove up into the carpark, something moving in the forest caught my eye. As I turned to look I thought at first it was dozens of rabbits scurrying into the bushes. But then I realised, whatever they were, they weren’t hopping – they were running. It was a huge group of baby wild boar!

Now I know they are very common to the area and especially at that time of year, but I had never actually seen any before. I was so excited! They were gone in a flash; no time to grab a camera or even point them out to Squiggle, but that was a personal highlight that I will always remember.

We also visited Symonds Yat briefly, on the bank of River Wye. I took a few photos, but I could have taken many more of these stunning scenic views…

River Wye

Stunning scenic view of river Wye

Symonds Yat

In Summary

We really enjoyed our stay at Forest Holidays and loved exploring Forest of Dean. We are very keen to return here sometime in the future, and also would like to try other Forest Holidays locations too. We would definitely recommend it – at any time of year!

Last but not least…

Here is a video clip I put together summarising the highlights of our holiday:

*Disclosure: I was given a discount when booking this holiday in exchange for a review post. However, as always, I have expressed my honest opinion and all thoughts are my own.

18 Goals for 2018 – Why This Post Never Happened

Back at the start of January this year, I was tagged in a lovely motivational post by Mandi over at Big Family, Organised Chaos about setting 18 goals for 2018. I loved this idea and was keen to take part; after all, setting goals helps us to achieve what we want and setting them down on the blog would help me to remember them, and hold myself accountable… except it didn’t happen!

Because even the best laid plans... white text blue background

See, the thing is, sometimes things don’t go to plan. I had ideas, I had my goals in mind, the post was forming in my head… but it stopped there. Because actual real life got in the way. Big time. And sometimes even the best laid plans have to get pushed aside. Even the most inspiring, most important actions still have to get dropped. Because sometimes life throws the unexpected at you. Things that you didn’t – that you couldn’t – predict. And that ‘stuff’ cannot wait. So priorities shift. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, ride the wave.

It is a good reminder that we can set goals and it is great to be focused on achieving them, but we also need to be flexible and adapt. And to be able to rethink our priorities when it is required. Sometimes we therefore have to let some things go. And that’s ok. Life is one big juggling act, after all!

Did you set goals for 2018? How are you getting on with them?

My Biggest Accomplishment

I guess like many people, some days I feel like I am absolutely nailing life, whilst others I feel like I have accomplished pretty much nothing. (Although I know that is never true in reality).

But what do we even mean by accomplishments? It is so subjective, isn’t it? What one person considers an accomplishment, someone else might take for granted completely. For some people, sometimes, just managing to get out of bed and take a shower is an accomplishment. And I think we should acknowledge that; every success should be recognised, even if it looks very different to our own idea of what it means!

I believe it is important to celebrate, or at least acknowledge, all our achievements, both big and small – not just the huge stuff. It is good for our wellbeing to focus on our daily accomplishments as part of having a positive outlook.

Living life our way, about me, accomplishments, teacher, parent, SEND, achievements
Graduation Day

In terms of bigger accomplishments, I am proud that I achieved a first degree BEd at university. But then again, I am equally proud of myself for going against the grain by leaving the system, adapting my lifestyle and choosing to home educate in order to meet my daughter’s individual needs. I wonder if I would have made the same decision if I had not been a teacher though? Funny how life works out!

What is your biggest accomplishment, big or small? Tell me in comments, I would love to celebrate your successes with you!

How To Grow Your Hair

Many mums find that they suffer from hair loss when they are pregnant, or shortly after giving birth, or sometimes both! It can be daunting finding clumps of hair in the shower after a hair wash, but rest assured it is normal. (Although if you are concerned, or are also experiencing other symptoms, do speak to a healthcare provider about it of course!)

I was lucky in that I didn’t actually have any noticeable hair loss during pregnancy or postpartum. However, I then randomly and unexpectedly began to notice quite significant amounts falling out last year. I am not really sure what caused it to be honest, and there weren’t any obvious patches at first. But after a few months, I did start to notice visible thinning in places.

Obviously this can be abit upsetting, although I tried not to worry about it too much personally. (Apart from anything else, I am sure stress wouldn’t help!) But it is comforting to know there are things that can be done to help. So here are some tips for encouraging hair growth…

How to grow your hair title with faded background image of a woman with long healthy hair

Don’t use too much heat and avoid too many styling products

Try to avoid using too much heat, or doing too much styling, because this dries out hair and damages it. Styling products often also contain chemicals that are harsh on your hair. You need to keep your hair healthy to allow it to grow, so go for the natural look as often as possible

A lady drying her hair

Healthy diet, healthy hair!

If you eat healthily, ensuring you get plenty of nutrition, this will also help your hair to grow. Take supplements if needed to give your body, and hair, that extra boost. This BBC article has some excellent suggestions on what to eat for healthy hair.

Condition your hair thoroughly

Remember to condition your hair everytime it gets wet and make sure you use plenty of conditioner. Natural oils, such as coconut oil, and other natural hair treatments, will help to replenish your hair and encourage growth.

Coconut oil in glass jar with wooden scoop

Choose the right brush

Help your hair to produce its own natural oils by brushing regularly. However, the wrong brush can damage hair, which is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve of course – so make sure you choose the right type of hair brush! Any knots should be teased out carefully, starting from the bottom, not get pulled out mercilessly by the brush.

Get regular trims

Regular trimming to avoid split ends helps to keep hair healthy. Whilst it may seem counter-intuitive to cut the hair that you are trying to grow, I promise you – it really isn’t!

Be patient!

It isn’t going to magically grow an inch overnight! You need to be realistic with your expectations. Keep trying the tips above and you will hopefully start to see results.

If all else fails…

Research hair transplant cost if the issue is severe and home methods have not helped, especially if it is having a major impact on your self- esteem and confidence. This may seem drastic but if nothing else has worked and it is affecting your overall wellbeing, it might be worth looking into. It is often helpful to consider all options; if nothing else, it can feel somewhat empowering to know that you do have choices, and that there are ways to regain some control over it, if need be.

What are your top tips for growing your hair? I would love to read them in comments!

*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Harley Street Hair Clinic.

 4 Ways Camping Can Rejuvenate Your Soul

As modern people, we often do not get out into nature half as much as we should, and certainly nowhere near as often as even some of our more recent ancestors did. Instead, we remain indoors for the vast majority of our lives, whether at home, at the office, at the local cinema, or restaurant, or club.

There’s nothing wrong with the indoors, of course. Nature can often be savage and unforgiving, and electric underfloor heating is a tremendous boon in the midst of winter, when would be left fighting for our lives against the elements if we were still hunter-gatherers. Nonetheless, connecting to nature is essential, for mind, body, and soul. So here are some ways that a good camping trip – in as wild a place as possible – can rejuvenate your soul…

Title image with faded camping picture in background

It can wash away the preoccupations of daily life

Over the course of our normal 9-5 workdays and the lives that surround them, we are caught up between a near-endless number of obligations and concerns and preoccupations of various types. These obligations aren’t just all in our heads, either, although many of them are. There are real obligations placed on us by society to fill in the right form at the right times, complete our projects by particular deadlines, top up our cars, and attend parent-teacher meetings. All these preoccupations – each small in their own right – can mount and become the kind of chronic stress that leads to breakdowns and unhappiness with life in general.

Camping can wash all of that away for a time. Suddenly you are no longer “plugged into the Matrix”, but are out in nature, with your days and nights stretching before you. What do you need to do out here? Eat and sleep. Everything else is optional.

Leave your phone off and only switch it on for emergencies. Leave all your fancy gadgets at home. Go camping and let nature remind you of a more simple mode of living, and wash your soul clean of its usual preoccupations.

It can get you back in touch with the cycles of nature

Chronic insomnia is one of the major issues plaguing modern man in the developed world. The reasons aren’t too hard to fathom, either. Instead of our days following a natural rhythm, we find ourselves in an “always-on”, world. We can wake up before dawn, watch YouTube videos, organise our days on our planners, have a strong coffee, and leave for work. After working for an entire day, we return home, switch on the blinding artificial lights, and watch Netflix until the early hours.

Camping gets us back in touch with the natural cycles of nature. We rise with the sun, are active while it shines, and then get sleepy – and sleep – moments after it sets. Things seem to fit into their proper categories and positions, and our mood and health begin to improve rapidly.

A tent pitched up on a large open field overlooking the beach and ocean below

It can remind you of your connectedness to the great web of life

We buy our food from the local grocery store wrapped in plastic. We hear about environmental crises, but it doesn’t really register. It can be easy to forget, when living in the city, that we are not just detached individuals floating through the world, but are in fact connected to the great web of life all around us.

Camping reminds us of our place in the order of things. It can make us feel more whole, less alone, and more in touch with the planet we occupy. It can remind us that we are part of a greater whole and have an important role to play in the world.

It can give you space to dream

One of the most damaging consequences of being caught up in the constant flow of information and distraction that makes up modern life, is that we are so drawn into the everyday complexities of things, that we completely lose our perspective and forget, or can no longer manage, to dream the big dreams that make life truly worth living.

Getting out camping in a wild location can truly give us a different perspective on life. Now, we see our normal lives as if from a great height. We’re in a different place, somewhat outside of space and time, and we can see more clearly than we did before. From this perspective – this place outside of our normal routines – we may once again find the space to dream, to wonder, and to plan our lives from a transcendent place of hope and excitement.

A tent in the forest

*This is a collaborative post.

How To Build a Swimming Pool in Your Back Garden

With summer almost upon us, and the recent spell of hot weather, you might be considering building your own swimming pool in your garden. To many, it might seem like a waste of space and money in a country that doesn’t often reach warm temperatures! However, there are quite a few benefits to having your own pool, and don’t forget it can be heated so once you are in it is fine; I remember having an outdoor pool at my Primary School and it was such a huge asset.

It is relaxing and good for your wellbeing. And of course it is a wonderful luxury to enjoy the peace and privacy of your own pool. But also, there’s nothing more sociable than having a swimming pool in your back garden that you can then invite friends and family to enjoy too.

At this time of year you’re probably already thinking about getting your garden into shape and the thought of having such major excavation work done in your back garden might feel prohibitive; indeed, the process of building a swimming pool does necessitate the need to bring in diggers to excavate a huge hole in the middle of your lawn. In many ways, that’s the trade-off, as the pool is likely to take a huge chunk of your garden lawn out of the equation. That said, if you’ve always dreamed of having a pool in your back garden, here are a few simple steps to help turn your dream into reality…

How To Build a Swimming Pool in Your Back Garden with swimming pool background image

Design

The first factor to consider is size, which will obviously be constrained by how large your garden is, and the next factor to consider is depth. If you are having children use the pool or you’re not a particularly strong swimmer, then it is recommended to keep it under 1.2 metres, which is what most fancy gyms set their pool depth to. You also need to consider what colour you would like the tiles to be – blue is the classic colour, whilst there are many startling designs that embrace deep reds and purples to create more of a design statement.
The next consideration is lighting and shape. Generally speaking, the more complex the design, the higher the cost to create the swimming pool.

Get Permission

In order to build a swimming pool in your back garden, it’s likely that you’ll need to gain planning permission from the council.

Excavate The Area

The first step in terms of building the pool, once you’ve designed it and been granted permission, is to start excavating the area! You could employ a contractor to take care of everything, or if you’re on a budget, you could hire construction equipment yourself, as at this stage all you’re really doing is digging a big hole in the back garden. It is, however, vitally important to have been granted permission before starting to dig, as there may be hidden wires or pipes that you could unearth.

Consider Material To Use

The three main options to choose from are concrete, fibreglass, and vinyl.

Grade the Ground and Frame Walls

The next step is to even out the ground. This will make building the walls and laying the floor much easier. With the hole dug out, and the land flat, the walls can now be built with wood and metal rebar.

Put in Plumbing and Electricity

You’ll want to get an experienced plumber to take care of this specialist task, as you don’t want to have to undertake emergency plumbing should there be an issue down the road. Indeed, it’s important to hire a plumber that is experienced in swimming pools, as an inexperienced plumber could ruin your pool.

You’ll then want to hire an electrician to install the lights. Understandably, bad wiring plus water is not a good combination; so it’s advisable that you read up on how to prevent electrocution before going any further, or attempting to do it yourself.

Pour the Floor, Build Walls and Tile

The next step is to pour the floor and build the walls, then tile them, but remember to add a moisture barrier to stop the water from seeping out.

Fill The Pool

The final step, of course, is to fill the pool with fresh water that is subsequently treated with a cleaning agent such as chlorine.

Lady swimming in a pool

Have you ever considered a pool in your garden? For most it is just a pipe dream… but if it ever becomes your reality, now you know what to do!

*This is a collaborative post.