News & Articles

4 natural beauty spots in the UK you need to see with your own eyes

With so many stunning attractions to visit in the UK it can be hard to narrow down exactly where to go. Britain is full of areas of natural beauty and you often don’t need to travel too far at all to find one. Here are four of our favourite areas of natural beauty that we firmly believe should be on your bucket list.

1 – Wastwater, Lake District

Tucked away in the Wasdale Valley, Wastwater is the deepest of all the lakes in the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Lake District. With a wild and lonely beauty, the area is frequented by ramblers, kayakers and swimmers throughout the year. However, as it extends for 3 miles there are plenty of chances for stern solace and isolation if that’s what you’re hunting for. Indeed, the rugged landscapes have inspired generations of painters, poets and climbers and was once crowned Britain’s favourite view by ITV.
2 – Lulworth Cove, Dorset

Located at another World Heritage Site of the Jurassic Coast – the idyllic Lulworth Coast is a sight to behold. During the summer months visitors can take boats into the bay that tour the pebble beach, blue waters and wonderful rock pools bursting with sea creatures.
3 – Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire

Famous for its association with the legend of Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest is a 450-acre country park full of myth and magic. With walks, trails, bug hunts, adventure playgrounds and more there is plenty to see and do but the beauty and mythology of the place is enough to set the imagination going.
4 – Old Man of Storr, Portree

The Isle of Skye means ‘cloud island’ in Old Norse and the mysterious jagged rocks and moody landscapes found there have drawn tourists for centuries. The iconic natural feature of the Old Man of Storr (pictured above) can be found nearby in the small town of Portree and makes for a dramatic sight.
Where are your favourite places of natural beauty to visit in the UK? Let us know by connecting with us on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

5 eco-friendly spots to visit in the UK

Reducing lengthy air travel is one of the best ways to shrink your carbon footprint. So, holidaying in the UK is a must. But how do we go about finding those often-elusive places to travel fairer and more sustainably?

Well, the UK has many great destinations and projects popping up where green ethics and conservation play a key role. Here are five of our favourites.

Holyrood Park
A park like no other. Holyrood Park is the dramatic backdrop to the Scottish capital Edinburgh. Running across the city’s skyline, the architecture and history spans thousands of years. The key attraction of the park is Arthurs Seat, an ancient volcano that sits 251m above sea level and provides panoramic views of the city. Next to it is one of four hill forts built around 2,000 years ago. The unique height of the settings also makes it a hotbed for flora and geology, marking it out as a Special Scientific Interest area. Such a beautiful and historic setting is bound to bring tourists in their droves, which is why it has been important to protect the area. With this in mind, the authorities in charge of the area have successfully created an award-winning conservation strategy that has led them to repeatedly be awarded a top Gold Standard grading from the Green Tourism association.

Chatsworth House
Home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, the Chatsworth House estate is another Gold Standard award-winner. Found in Bakewell, Derbyshire, the extensive landscaped parklands, art collections, waterworks, cascades and playgrounds attract plenty of visitors. The team at Chatsworth House have a strong commitment to sustainability and preventing climate change as well as addressing threats to wildlife diversity and habitat. Besides addressing this by meeting the 145 criteria areas set out by the Green Tourism board, the Duke’s son, Lord Burlington, also founded a dedicated committee to promote sustainability, social equity and environmental protection across the estate.

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden
Dubbed a ‘haven of peace and tranquility’ and a ‘garden for all seasons’, Fairhaven is tucked away in South Walsham near Norwich in the county of Norfolk. The well-maintained gardens are done so using only minimal machinery in order to reduce carbon footprint and avoid disruption to local wildlife like butterflies, otters and deer. The gardens are also home to a reported 95 species of migrant birds. Visitors can wander through the woods, spot wildlife and plants as well as enjoy a cup of tea and hot food at the Kingfisher Tearoom. Fairhaven has also won a Gold Standard award from the Green Tourism board.

Blenheim Palace
Oxford’s Blenheim Palace offers 300 years of history and 2,000 acres of landscapes to discover. Visitors can roam the countryside, see exhibits including tapestry and antiques, and visit the homes of both the Dukes of Marlborough and Sir Winston Churchill. There are also calendared events including Christmas lights, live music and medieval jousting displays. Blenheim Palace is another winner of the Green Tourism’s Gold Standard award.

Carnglaze Caverns
A rather different kind of tourist attraction can be found in Carnglaze, in Cornwall. Here lies a former slate mine where slate was quarried and mined underground. Visitors can learn about the history of the mine, how the slate was extracted and used and the skills and traditions of the workers. The mine also features a crystal-clear underground lake and is a constant temperature of 10c all year long. Carnglaze Caverns has been awarded the Green Tourism boards Gold Standard Award.

Do you know of a tourist spot with high standards of sustainability? Let us know by connecting with on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

6 Places in Britain you won’t believe exist

Wouldn’t it be great to have the opportunity to travel the world? Well unfortunately, for most of us our wallets, work and family commitments mean that an Around The World in 80 Days trip is off the cards for now. However, travel shouldn’t only be restricted to school holidays and annual leave. You can fit plenty of bucket-list style day’s out into your schedule right here in the UK. So, forget the great Pyramids and The Leaning Tower Of Pisa for now and read on to discover six of our favourite domestic hidden gems – for the stay at home traveler.

1 – The Dark Hedges, Starnocum

The Dark Hedges in Country Antrim, Northern Ireland is a countryside road lined with unusually shaped Beech Trees. Voted as one of the most beautiful places in the world by the prestigious American journal Architectural Digest, the spot has seen a dramatic rise in popularity for another reason. The iconic spot was chosen as a filming location for the HBO cult-hit TV show Game of Thrones. The road was featured in the second season of the show as the approach to an area called Kings Landing. As one of the most popular TV shows in recent memory, the area has unsurprisingly seen a massive upturn in tourism with visitors flocking from across the globe.

2 – Duncansby

 The 60m Stacks of Duncansby are a breathtaking sight. This area of Scotland is full of stunning scenery, but the stacks are among some of the best. Following a path from the famous John O’Groats you will find these towering relics of history, one of which actually stretches higher than the adjacent cliffs. If you find yourself visiting John O’Groats, then why not push yourself a further two miles to set sights on this rare and imposing rock formation.

3 – Hellfire Caves, Wycombe

 Hidden away in the Chiltern Hills, Buckinghamshire is St Lawrence’s Church. Underneath the building is an interesting network of man-made chalk and flint caverns which extend for a quarter of a mile and several hundred feet below the church.  Excavated in the mid-18th century by the infamous Sir Francis Dashwood, the caves became synonymous with The Hellfire Club – the society he founded. While no-one knows exactly what went on in the caves, rumors of illicit behaviour, blasphemy, devil worship and sedition abound.

4 - Longleat Hedge Maze, Warminster

 Who’d have thought the world’s longest hedge maze could be found here in the UK? If you’re a Labyrinth, Harry Potter or Greek Myth obsessive then this is certainly one for you to plan a holiday around. Located in Warminster, nestled between Sailsbury, Bath and Yeovil, this 2-mile long maze has 8-foot hedges, numerous dead-ends, 6 raised bridges and an observatory tower for overhead views. Want more? There are four other mazes located at the site including one called King Arthur’s Maze which uses optical illusions to appear larger than it really is.

5 – Henrhyd Falls, Brecon Beacons National Park

 If you’re in the mood for chasing waterfalls, then you should make a visit to the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales part of your to-do-list. These spectacular flowing falls are the highest in South Wales. Plunging an astonishing 90ft (27m) into a wooden gorge below, it makes for magical viewing. The Brecon Beacons are a haven for wildlife, plants, geology and history and with many other walks you can easily spend lots of time there.

6 – St Michaels Mount, Marazion

 With soft, pleasant beaches and restaurants and bars a-plenty, there are lots of reasons to visit Cornwall’s oldest town. However, the most striking feature of Marazion, and the main attraction for tourists, is the enchanting St. Michaels Mount. The inspiration for tales of mermaids, giants and miracles – the Mount also includes a medieval castle, fortress, a priory, a harbor and grand gardens. The trip to the island can be completed either on foot or boat- tide dependent.

Which UK destinations have you enjoyed visiting recently? Let us know by connecting on social media at @TimeForYouGroup.

Tips for making long-haul holidays work on a budget

While there are plenty of reasons to book a short-haul holiday to one of the many nearby European destinations – such as cost and shorter travel distances - sometimes you just want to dream a little bigger and have a real adventure. So, if you’re fortunate enough to find a gap in your calendar where you can fit in a longer holiday, then you’ll be pleased to know we have some excellent tips below on managing it on a budget. Read on, pack your suitcase and don’t forget your passport!

Why travel long-haul?
Whether it’s different languages, mystical historical sites, untouched beauty or culture and cuisine, one of the benefits of travelling to a distant location is the complete culture shock that it can bring. Although there’s nothing wrong with visiting popular short-haul destinations, a common complaint from travelers is that apart from the sunshine and cocktails, it can feel stale and too much like home. Long haul holidays make for an unforgettable experience, and the journey is almost always worth the pay-off.

How to save money on long-haul flights?
One of the big barriers to long distance travel is the costs involved, or at least the perceived costs. While long-haul flights largely are more expensive than short distance flights – there are some bargains to be found if you’re willing to look around.

The first key bit of advice to take on board is that you can quite drastically reduce the cost of your flights by switching up your departure point. Typically, when hunting for flights we’ll be in a time-saving mindset that means we only look at flights leaving from the airports nearest to our home. However, if money is more important to you than time, then expanding that to the whole country can help bring the costs down. It’s also worth checking international travel hubs such as Amsterdam and Barcelona. Together with some London based airports, these destinations are some of the busiest airports in the world, with numerous different airlines running flights. This means that you can often find cheap flights to far-off destinations. If you can then find a connecting flight to, let’s say, Amsterdam, you might find it saves you a pretty penny. The same goes for layovers, if you’re willing to spend a day (or two) somewhere en-route.

Everyone knows by now about the benefits of using travel comparison websites like Skyscanner, Kayak and Google Flights. It takes just seconds to show comparisons on these high-speed global travel search engines. Whereas travel agents were once the go-to for all your holiday-hunting needs, these sites cut out the middle man and can often save you money. Two things to remember though when using them. First up, make sure you do your searches in private or ‘incognito’ browsers as sometimes the sites will inflate the cost when you repeatedly visit, in order to encourage you to make a purchase. Searching anonymously means you’ll likely get a better price. Also, don’t forget to check the small print. Sometimes an airline such as Virgin will appear as the flight carrier, but upon closer inspection the flight is actually run by another airline. If you find that airline’s name – let’s say Air Asia – and go directly to their website for your flight search you might find the cost of the flight is much cheaper.

In terms of actually booking your flights there are a few urban legends surrounding the best time to commit. Some people suggest that Tuesdays are the best day of the week to book, others say 55 days directly before the flight is the time that prices plummet. In truth, from what we can tell there is little rhyme or reason and Airlines tend to not play by either of these rules. As a rule of thumb, we find that if you book off-season and not too closely, nor too far away then you’ll get a better deal.

Other advice
If you’re clever then your flights can be cheap, but you can money stretch in other ways too. If you pick long haul destinations like Thailand, Vietnam, Central or South America, South Africa or India than you may find that your cost of living is incredibly low. Inflation often means that your money can make accommodation, trips and eating out great value for money. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule and particularly if you are visiting tourist hot spots you may find that costs are steeped against you. Equally, some long-haul destinations such as the Maldives, Dubai and areas of Japan are marketed to luxury tourists and while you’ll have a memorable, and relaxing time your wallet will take a punishment.

Have you found a long-haul travel bargain? Let us know how you did it by connecting on social media at @TimeForYouGroup.

The best British holiday spots for foodies

What does your ideal holiday look like? For some it’s lounging by the pool and reading a book, for others it’s extreme sports and daring feats. However, there’s a whole other motivation for going on holiday that is often forgotten about – food!

For many people the highlight of their holiday is going out for a nice meal and from wholesome roasts and trimmings to the freshest of sea food, there are plenty of delicious delicacies to be found across the UK. Here are some of our favourite destinations to visit when it comes to finding eating out.

Although the English capital get’s plenty of attention already, it would be hard to ignore the vast wealth of internationally recognised dining establishments, cutting-edge food start-ups and unique trends on offer. Here are a few that you should consider checking out next time you visit.  

On a budget
There are a several popular food markets in London where you can enjoy all kinds of different cuisines from Chinese and Indian to Mexican and Italian. The Southbank Centre, Borough Market, Camden Market and Shoreditch’s Boxpark are just a few where you can get a taste of the capital on a budget and typically under £5-6 a dish.

High-end dining
London is one of the top-ranked cities in the world for dining and is home to over 70 Michelin star restaurants so finding a high-end restaurant to spoil a loved one is never an issue. The Ritz London offers up traditional English dishes and décor, Helene Darroze at the Connaught prides itself on exquisite champagnes and caviars, while famous TV chefs Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal also call the capital home.

Alternative bites
If you’re looking for something a bit different then you could sample pan-fried chermoula-spiced crickets or even chocolate-covered scorpions at Archipelago or eat your favourite childhood breakfast cereal at the Cereal Killer Café on Brick Lane.


The Scottish capital is a stunning mix of castles, historical buildings, atmospheric scenery and modern living – precisely why it attracts 4.39 million visitors every year.  All those stomachs need feeding, and this is why Edinburgh has almost 2,000 different restaurants and cafes to choose from.

On a budget
We could use this section to tell you all about the different food trucks and vans dotted around Edinburgh – instead we’ll direct you to the Pitt Market (open every Saturday) where you can find all the best one’s in one place. Here you’ll find everything from noodles dishes and pizzas to deserts and gourmet coffees.

High-end dining
Fine diners can find plenty of opportunity for opulence in the city of Edinburgh. Take The Dome for instance on George Street. Traditional Scottish delights such as haggis, neeps and tatties can all be enjoyed in a most grandiose atmosphere.

Alternative bites
Despite its historic surroundings, Edinburgh is very forward thinking and the dishes on offer are among some of the most current and trendy in the UK. Try vegetarian haggis at the Whiski Rooms or pick up some unusual bar food like miniature pies and nachos at Treacle.


The UK’s second city has a proudly diverse range of food including Michelin starred restaurants, street dining, farmers markets and the world-famous Balti Triangle (home to an impressive 43 curry houses).

On a budget
If you’re looking for cut-price cuisine, then there are plenty of options out there. Grand Central Kitchen’s menu comes in incredibly high at #3 on TripAdvisor for all the restaurants for Birmingham, and while the menu might seem simple with staples like panini, wraps, and jacket potatoes – the reviews speak for themselves. Birmingham has also seen an increase in street food vendors and markets such as Digbeth Dining Club where you can pick up quick, cost-friendly bites.

High-end dining
If fine dining is more your thing then restaurants like The Wilderness, Purnells, and Marco Pierre White’s all offer fresh and sublime tasting food in ambient settings, albeit for a slightly increased price-tag.

Alternative bites
Although Birmingham is famed for its Indian dishes and balti’s, the city is also home to some seriously good Thai food. Consistently voted one of Birmingham’s best Thai restaurants, Sabai Sabi on Waterloo Street offers a range of Tom Yam’s, Red and Green curries and Massaman flavours as well as some of the best spring rolls you are likely to get your hands on.


Fancy a trip to the seaside? Brighton is a city like no other and boasts an incredible array of things to do. There are regular live music nights, fashionable shops, vintage markets and a pub to be found on almost every corner. However, unlike some coastal resorts there’s more to Brighton than just fish and chips if you’re looking to fill your stomach.

On a budget
There’s nothing quite like a full English breakfast to see you through until dinner time and being a seaside town, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to fry ups. There are a great many hotels and hostels across the seafront where you can pick up a cheap breakfast but going slightly off the beaten track, you’ll find some excellent options at places like The New Club & Seven Bees and Bill’s. If you’ve skipped breakfast and you’re craving a tasty burger then be sure to visit one of the two Grubb’s fast food restaurants which are something of an institution for Brighton locals.

High-end dining
Brighton has a very creative dining scene and some of the most exciting restaurants the country has to offer. One example of how Brighton is leading the way is the fabulous 64 Degrees restaurant. Chef Michael Bremner develops an ever-changing menu daily with such delights as brown butter foam, mushroom ketchup, jerk salmon and smoked chestnut mayo. However, it only holds 20 diners at a time, so you need to book well in advance Alternatively, you could sample some world cuisine at Bincho Yakitori where Chef David Miney offers up a Japanese inspired spin on the typical gastro pub menu. Be sure to toast your meal off with a high-quality sake.

Alternative bites
Spend some time in Brighton and you’ll notice that their residents have a strong commitment to all things eco-friendly. Living by the sea means that the residents of Brighton & Hove are very aware of the impact of waste on the planet. With this in mind the locally owned and independent Moshimo restaurant is leading the way in plastic-free dining. Their menu of traditional sushi and sashimi is served on bamboo platters and includes everything from fresh raw tuna steaks to entirely plant-based vegan and vegetarian options.

Which cities have you enjoyed visiting for dining out? Let us know by connecting on social media at @TimeForYouGroup.

7 unusual museums in the UK you need to visit

While the Natural History Museum, the National Gallery and Railway Museum might top the lists on TripAdvisor and rake in the most visitors year on year – there are a great many other lesser-known museums across the UK that are well worth a visit. Here are seven of our favourites.

Cuckooland, Cheshire
Previously known as the Cuckoo Clock Museum, Cuckooland in Tabley, Cheshire is home to a magnificent collection of clocks. Curated by horologist experts and master clock restorer brothers Roman and Maz Piekarski it includes models going back as far as 300 years. The collection also boasts a Cuckoo & Echo clock which uses bellows and whistles to make fascinating and realistic sounds. Visitors can call 01565 633039 for information on admission which is by appointment only.

British Lawnmower Museum, Merseyside
The British Lawnmower Museum can be found in the grounds of Trerice House, a National Trust property in Southport, Merseyside.  The museum was made famous in the BBC One comedy show Would I Lie To You? after comedian Lee Mack explained he had donated hand tools to the attraction – and fellow panelists had to guess whether this was true or not. The Museum also contains items purportedly owned by the likes of Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Eric Morecambe, Queen’s Brian May and of course famous TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh.  Admission is £3.00 a ticket and includes an audio tour.

Derwent Pencil Museum, Cumbria
The home of the first ever pencil factory in the UK using graphite mined nearby in Borrowdale, the Southey Works pencil museum is a fun day out for all the family. Visitors enter the museum through a replica graphite mine and can take part in fun and interactive exhibits along the way. Highlights include WW2 pencils with hidden maps, the Queen’s diamond Jubilee pencil and one of the largest pencils in the world.  The museum costs £4.95 for adults and £3.95 for children, with some concessions available.

Bubblecar Museum, Lincolnshire
For motor enthusiasts the Bubble Car Museum is a must-visit. It is dedicated to micro-cars, tiny and often uncomfortable cars built in the 1950’s which had engine capacities of less than 700cc and look rather peculiar. There are over 50 cars on display at the Boston museum, along with memorabilia, a gift shop and a café for tea and cake. Admission is £4 for adults and £1 for children.

Museum of Witchcraft, Cornwall
Founded in 1951, the Museum of Witchcraft in the picturesque coastal village of Boscastle claims to house the world’s largest witchcraft-focused collection with over 3,000 items on display. The items include sections on Paganism, charms, curses, Cornish mythical creatures and much more. The museum is open daily from April 1st until November 3rd and entry costs £5 adults and £4 for children (6-15) with family tickets and concessions available.

The Locksmith’s House, West Midlands
The Locksmith’s House in Willenhall is the former home of a small family of lock makers whose home-business flourished over a century ago. Visitors can view belongings and furniture owned by the Hodson family, tour their workshop building with its forge and machinery and take a look at some of the intricate and impressive locks crafted through the ages. Costumed guides escort visitors around the property and offer rag rug and toasting activities. The house is only viewable on special open days and pre-booked trips. You can email [email protected] to find out more.

Which museums have you enjoyed visiting? Let us know by connecting on social media at @TimeForYouGroup.

9 must-visit attractions for history buffs in the UK

The grass is always greener as they say and many people who travel far and wide to enjoy historical sites in other lands neglect to appreciate the marvels in their own backyard. From historic towns and castles to intriguing remains and woodlands, there is lots to be appreciated here in the UK. Here are 9 of our favourites for anyone with an interest in the history of Britain.

Whitby Abbey
One of the oldest Benedict abbeys’ in England (almost 1,400 years old) Whitby Abbey is an atmospheric delight. Sitting atop a cliff’s edge above the harbor town in the Yorkshire Coast, the site gave inspiration to the Irish author Bram Stoker for his gothic novel Dracula.

Tower of London
The Tower of London has had some notable guests throughout history. Over its 900-year existence prisoners have included Anne Boleyn, Sir Walter Raleigh, the Princes in the Tower (Prince Edward V and Prince Richard of Shrewsbury), Guy Fawkes and high-profile Nazi’s Rudolf Hess and Josef Jakobs – Jakobs being the last person to be put to death at the Tower of London by firing squad in August 1941. More than 2 million people visit the Tower every year and learn it’s intriguing history.

Giant’s Causeway
A marvelous UNESCO World Heritage Site, the world-famous basalt columns of Giant’s Causeway have long been an in-demand tourist attraction in Northern Ireland. The legend of the causeway says that the unique rock formations were created in a fight between two giants, Finn McCool and Benandonner. However, its legacy is more likely the result of volcanic eruptions over 60-million years ago. Either way, it’s one of the most unique sights on the planet.

Warwick Castle
Consistently voted one of the best castles in Britain, Warwick Castle is one of the most popular castles in the UK. Once the home to William the Conqueror the castle hosts events throughout the year including falconry displays, talks, exhibitions and battle re-enactments. It even houses a working trebuchet!

You couldn’t have a list like this without mentioning Stonehenge. Found in Avebury, Stonehenge holds a pivotal place in British culture. Many theories have been debated regarding the origins of the circular stone structure from pagan rituals and celestial observatories to involvement from aliens, but no one is sure. What we do know is that it was built in the late Neolithic period (around 2500 BC) and is now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the first in the UK to be awarded such status.

Sherwood Forest
Popularized as the supposed home of Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest is an area of natural beauty and a fantastic place to visit all year long. Its woodlands, which were used as a royal hunting area as far back as the Norman invasion of 1066, are steeped in legend. In the heart of Sherwood Forest lies the Major Oak – an 800-year-old tree which was allegedly used as a hideout by Robin Hood’s Merry Men, and Robin Hood is thought to have fired his last arrow into the forest as he lay dying – an arrow which is yet to be found among its 100,000 acres but supposedly marks his gravesite. The officially marked grave of Robin Hood lies around 650 meters from the site of Kirklees Priory, but there is debate as to whether this is the true resting place of the fabled hero.  

St Fagans National History Museum
Want to get double your money? St Fagans Museum is one of Europe’s leading open-air museums and is Wales most-visited heritage attraction, but it also stands in the grounds of the amazing St Fagans Castle. In the last fifty years, 40 buildings from different historical periods have been built in the 100-acre parkland including schools, chapels, farms, houses and more which offer an insight into life in Wales of the generations. Special exhibitions are held regularly and there are various workshops with craftspeople displaying their traditional skills.

Situated in the county of Warwickshire, the sleepy riverside town of Stratford-Upon-Avon attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Home to cozy pubs, restaurants and gardens, the village is most famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Tourists can visit his childhood home where it all began, the farm of his mother Mary Arden, the home of his wife Anne Hathaway, their shared family home and take in a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Hadrian’s Wall
Another attraction that would leave our list incomplete is that of Hadrians Wall. One of the most iconic sights in the UK, the wall was built by the Roman’s to ward off enemy invasions and was recently the inspiration behind George RR Martin’s best-selling books and TV-series Game of Thrones. Visitors can browse the wall’s remains, learn about life in the Roman military and visit the Sycamore Gap which featured in an important scene of the 90’s Hollywood blockbuster Robin Hood featuring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman.

Historical sites are perfect for days out with the family, or solo-adventures. Did any of your favourites not make it into our list? Let us know by connecting on social media at @TimeForYouGroup.

How to enjoy winter in the UK

While the cold weather might make some of us jump for joy and begin our next Netflix binge, there are plenty of reasons to get out the house. Staying active and healthy in winter can not only help you fight off colds and flu but can also benefit your mental health too. Here are just a handful of activities to enjoy in the winter-time.

Winter walks
There’s no such thing as bad weather – just bad clothing. If you wrap up warm enough then you can enjoy a day out trekking and hiking no matter what the weather’s like. Not only will you get to enjoy crisp and fresh air, but you’ll likely get to enjoy the countryside with smaller crowds.

Ski trips
The UK has a great selection of ski and snowboarding resorts without the added costs that come with flying abroad.  Places like Glenshee offer 25 miles of downhill runs over four impressive mountain tops. Lecht, Aberdeenshire offers smaller beginner-friendly routes and the Nevis Range at Fort William boasts remarkable scenery for both skiers and snowboarders. These are just a few of course and there are many more resorts dotted around the UK.

Christmas Markets
Inspired by traditional German Christmas markets, many cities in the UK including Bath, Lincoln, Birmingham, Leeds, London and Manchester now host their own festive stalls throughout their streets. Visitors can enjoy seasonal music, hot food and drinks, entertainment and stalls selling a wide variety of Christmas gifts and other curiosities.

Museums and galleries
Trips to the seaside and country parks might be less fun in the winter but that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. There are literally hundreds of galleries, museums and theatres around the country for you to visit and many of which are free. Check sites like Trip Advisor for some of the best in your local area and soak up some culture for the day.

Cosy pubs
British pubs are something to enjoy all year long, but they particularly come into their own in the winter months, offering respite from the cold and rain. Hunker down in a nice country pub with a roaring fire, sample some local ales and tuck into some classic pub food and you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

What activities do you take part in to warn off the winter blues? Let us know by connecting on social media at @TimeForYouGroup.

The 10,000-hour rule – fact or fiction?

The 10,000-hour rule promises to help you become an expert at just about anything, but is there any truth in the theory?

In his best-selling book ‘Outliers’, author Malcolm Gladwell shares his theory that the key to mastering any kind of skill is sheer practice. Rather than being born with some inherited talent or ability in our DNA he says it is actually hours and hours of dedicated training over many years that sets elite performers apart from everyone else. Famous examples of ‘practice makes perfect’ he cites include Bill Gates, Tiger Woods and the Beatles.

The Fab Four
In 1960, early on in their career the Beatles began a residency of shows in clubs around Hamburg, Germany. The band were employed as background entertainment and as such were required to play for 8 hours a-day, seven days a week. This is unheard of in the music industry where live artists will typically play sets anywhere from 45 mins and will only rarely play for longer than 4 hours let alone 8. This meant that by the time the band had their first major successes in 1964, they had already played over 1200 shows which put them on course for unprecedented success in the future.  

Hard Drive
In 1968 a young Bill Gates was studying at Lakeside School in Seattle. Encouraged by his and other students’ interest in computers the school raised funds through jumble sales to invest in the school’s first computer. The old style of computer used worked through an expensive card-based system allowing time on the mainframe. However, instead of limiting the students access to the computers they managed to strike a deal with a parent of a student who allowed the school free mainframe time in exchange for software testing. This allowed Bill Gates to build up years of programming experience ahead of peers and ultimately set Gates up to spearhead a revolution in IT that would result in Microsoft PC’s in homes and offices around the world in years to come.  

Training a Tiger
Pro-golfer Tiger Woods is arguably the greatest golfer of all time. The winner of 14 major championships, 79 PGA Tour wins and 18 World Golf Championship victories, Tiger Woods has shown an obsessive devotion to golf since childhood. Tiger’s father Earl Woods learned to play golf aged 42 and was captivated by the sport competing himself at amateur level in the 1970’s. By the time his son Tiger was just two years old he was already a golfing prodigy and noticeably gifted. His father went on to bring in superstar coaches such as Butch Harmon to develop his son’s game and eventually management who would secure Tiger’s pro status and earn him multi-million deals with the likes of Nike and Titleist breaking all previous financial records in the sport.

Fact or Fiction
Fellow writers such as Seth Godin have lightly criticized the 10,000 hours theory. Godin uses examples of The Doors, Devo and the Bee Gees to counter Gladwell’s claims. None of these hugely successful musicians spent the same amount of time developing their music but were still very successful. Florida State University psychologist Anders Ericsson echoes his thoughts saying that “You don’t get benefits from mechanical repetition, but by adjusting your execution over and over to get closer to your goal”.

Whilst critics seem to argue that Gladwell’s theory is perhaps too simplistic, there are still plenty of valid takeaways to be had. It seems clear that improving in your chosen field means putting in a level of practice, dedication and incremental improvement that many others will simply never push themselves to achieve.

What do you think of the 10,000 hour rule? Let us know by connecting on social media at @TimeForYouGroup.

Understanding the power of a positive attitude

Do you know someone who is always moaning? No matter what happens in their life they always seem to be able to turn it into something negative? Are you one of those people? If so then it’s time for you to harness the immense power of a positive, can-do mindset!

What does the science say?
Human beings seem to be hardwired to be negative. It’s a fact that we gravitate towards darker emotions like anger, disappointment, frustration and sadness, and we shy away from positive ones. Just look at the TV news and notice how much airtime is given to negative things that are happening in the world, and how much is given to the positive actions being made.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way and we don’t have to embrace negative emotions. The science of Neuroplasticity explains how our brains morph and our neural pathways can actually be changed through positive thinking.

“Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form new connections and pathways and change how its circuits are wired; neurogenesis is the even more amazing ability of the brain to grow new neurons” (Bergland, 2017).

The idea of Neuroplasticity was first introduced by William James in 1890. While it was rejected at the time, today it is widely accepted as being true and is used as the basis for life changing science including restorative treatment for sufferers of mental illnesses, brain injuries, cerebral palsy and strokes. However, as we learn more about the brain and its relationship to neuroplasticity, the potential for growth and change in all of us is becoming ever clearer.  

When treating serious health problems doctors use repetitive mental and physical strategies and activities to literally reset pathways in the brain and overtime strengthen them, like any exercise strengthens muscles. So, how can this be applied to positive thinking? Well, like any muscle the brain can be trained. It has the capacity to rewire itself and become stronger given the right kinds of practice and training.

Neuroplasticity is much more pronounced in children than it is in adults, however there is still a great potential for change. It can help us restore old functions and connections, enhance memory, improve cognition, learning and more.

Practices such as memory tasks and games, juggling, learning to play a musical instrument, learning a new language, yoga, light exercise and brain games like sudoku and crosswords are all proven to helpful in treating the effects of depression and anxiety through the science of neuroplasticity.

Applying this to our mindset
Now while the occasional sudoku puzzle might help you get started, you also need to learn how to be more positive in your reactions to certain situations and your overall mindset. This is where positive thinking exercises can come in.

Start with positive affirmations. These are daily statements or mantras that you repeat to yourself and over time are soaked up by your sub conscious. For example, if you struggle with a short temper then you can say “I am a calm and considered person”. Over time you can start to believe that these things are true and watch as they affect your day to day life.

Another approach to fostering a positive mindset is to try and frame difficult events during your day in a positive way. Here’s an example. Let’s say that your first call of the day goes badly. You speak to a customer, who’s very irritated and decides to take out their frustrations on you. A negative reaction would be to think “Wow, it’s not even 9AM. Today is going to suck”. A positive reaction on the other hand would be to think “Every call is different”.

Finally, you should think about how you speak. Your vocabulary reflects what’s going on in your brain and the more you use negative language the stronger you are making the negative pathways. Instead, you should adjust your chosen words to be constantly positive.  Avoid statements like “I Can’t” and try and reframe them in a more positive way.

How do you maintain a positive mindset? Let us know by connecting on social media at @TimeForYouGroup.