News & Articles

Be Wowed by Hidden Belgium

 

 

Belgium. A country that is especially beautiful in the sun, and astoundingly delicious any time of the year, thanks to its best-in-the-world beer, waffles and chocolate (according to, well, everyone).

But what really sets Belgium apart is its unique culture. It’s a country that prides itself on good quality living, as the French do, possesses excellent working ethics, like the Germans, and understands the subtleties of dry humour, like the English.

It’s a liberal, multicultural, and a historically rich beacon of Europe, offering some incredibly rare experiences if you look close enough. Here are some of the best off-the-grid highlights that are well worth a visit in conjunction with Belgium’s holiday hotspots, to see another side of this beautiful country away from the tourist throngs.

The Blue Forest (The Hallerbos) - Brussels, Halle

As if it were picked out of a fairy tale book, the Blue Forest is an enchanting, serene space nestled twenty kilometres away from Brussels, just outside of Halle. Explore the forest in spring (late April), and be captivated by a dreamlike carpet of bluebells blanketing the woodland floor. Beech trees are the keepers of the forest, and their emerald green leaves contrast spectacularly with the bluebells; the Hallerbos is a photographer and nature lover’s dream, and well worth travelling further afield to see.

Royal Greenhouses of Laeken - Brussels

Built between 1884 and 1996, the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken embody King Leopold’s lavish tastes, influenced by his travels in central Africa. Situated within the Royal estate’s ground, the exquisite glass dome shelters the rare beauty of the Congo: stunning tropical plants native to the area, such as the richly coloured azaleas and geraniums. This sight harbours bittersweet thoughts, that such beauty is linked to King Leopold’s grim exploitation of the native people of the Congo during his reign. But there’s no doubt of its historical intrigue. If you plan to visit, the greenhouse is open for just two weeks per year in late April and early May.

Caves of Remouchamps - Remouchamps

Visit this natural marvel that was once used as a shelter during World War II and 8,000 years ago by Palaeolithic hunters. Walk along a mysterious path encompassed by stalactites and stalagmites, towards a ‘grand Cathedral’ deep within the caves. A boat ride begins from here, leading up to the main event. These caves are home to the longest subterranean river in the world and are open to visitors who can float along the waters to admire the Remouchamps caves’ rare beauty. You may also be able to spot the local bats, and if you look carefully into the river, you could see Niphargus: blind, translucent shrimp illuminating the water’s surface.

Gravensteen - Ghent, Belgium

Gravensteed is an enchanting castle with a bleak past that will stir the darker side of your human curiosity. In the middle ages, the castle was a tomb of torture and injustice, made so by Count Philip of Alsace. Recognised for its use of atrocities, in the 19th century, a pledge emerged to take the castle down. However, a preservation group stepped in to save what you can see today: an albeit historically gruesome but hugely important part of Belgium's history, and one of the most spectacular castles standing today.

Coudenberg Palace - Uptown Brussels

Sadly, the Coudenberg Palace had no such support and was ripped down in 1731. What remains of this grand Palace that seated Counts, Dukes, Archdukes, Kings, Emperors and Governors is an archaeological maze of vestiges and buried foundations. Go beneath its modern replacement, the Palace Royal, and transport yourself into the 11th century, exploring Coudenberg’s complex cellars hiding underground. The floor you can walk along once belonged to Rue Isabelle, an entire street that was vaulted in the 18th century. The basements inside are the streets remnants, a bizarre concept that’s fun to get your head around!

Dinant - Namure

On your first visit to Dinant, you’ll be perplexed at how this picturesque municipality is rarely discussed as a highlight of Belgium. Discover a stunning (small but suitably so) town which sits on the edge of the River Meuse. The contrast between the red and white ornate buildings, reflecting against the blue, sparkling river is a sight to behold. And there’s a huge amount of things to do and see, from strolling along the river by foot or by cruise, exploring Dinant’s striking gothic architecture at the Collegiale Notre Dame de Dinant, learning about the beer-making process (because Belgium) at Maison Leffe, or taking the perfect holiday shot at the incredible Rocher Bayard.


Comic Strip Route


Explore the city of Brussels, and you may discover a very colourful secret. Splashed against the city's historic buildings are over fifty masterfully painted comic murals; a nod to the rich history of Franco-Belgian comics within Belgium. Tours provide the perfect opportunity to understand how the Franco-Belgian comic movement has influenced Brussels, and insight into how the unique artform is continuing to flourish, unlike in other Western countries. Comic fans and lovers of art will be talking about the experience for days, especially after seeing some notable characters, from Asterix and Tintin to Assassin XIII


Which secret will you choose to uncover?


Whether you’re looking to enjoy Belgium’s underground beauty, its picturesque towns, the hidden marvels of its capital city, or the fairy tale landscapes concealed by ancient forests; this country has is all, and more.
Have you been to Belgium before? We’d love to hear about it, and better yet, share your own secrets and help us add to the list.

 

 

Tidy Home, Tidy Mind - The Psychological Impact of Cleanliness

Love or hate cleaning, there’s little doubt of its positive effect on the aesthetics of your home. But how does cleanliness impact the way you feel? (Tired is not the answer I’m looking for!)

Let’s explore how a spotless home and the act of making it so can alter our state of mind. Can being untidy be bad for you? How much does purging our mess help us? Maybe, in the process of asking these questions, we’ll feel more motivated about spending precious downtime with a soapy sponge rather than a tv remote.

I’ll get the bin liners and rubber gloves out, just in case...

Clean yourself into Zen

There’s nothing better than getting into bed when your sheets have been freshly washed. It relaxes you because it’s a job you no longer need to do. And you feel calm because your bed is hygienic, eliminating that worry of being dirty.

And when you apply this to your home as a whole, the effect is the same. If you try to relax when your house is a mess, you might find it difficult to switch off because there’s work to be done. Of course, people will be emotionally affected by their mess in different ways. But it makes sense that by keeping on top of your chores, you remove that aforementioned stress, putting you in a tranquil mood to enjoy resting at home.

Boost your productivity

As I write these words, I’m looking at the mess around my desk that has accumulated from a day’s work: pens, empty glasses of water, paper and notebooks filling in the blank spaces. I feel disorganised, and I know that if I try to search for a detail in all this chaos, it’s going to take some time.

Having an uncluttered home, by default, makes you more productive. You’re spending less time thinking, “where did I put x, y and z”, giving you the focus and minutes to do something else. It’s important to make sure you are organised as well as tidy, though. If you tidy up and put things in a new location that’s difficult to remember, you’re just creating a new problem.

Embrace minimalism

Speaking of forgetting where things are, you can also eliminate this time-consuming task by adopting a minimalist mindset. It’s not easy if your possessions carry sentimental value, or if you like to have rooms filled with attractive things. But it might be worth pursuing for the emotional benefits.

Think about it: if you have less material objects in your home, you wouldn't concern yourself with polishing all those extra vases and ornaments; things you don’t really need. It’s five or ten tasks you don’t have to think about. Your brain would love that clarity. It would take you half the time to wind down, to enjoy being at home, or to direct your mind towards something more creative.

Improve your mood

I used to think that people were being dramatic when they said: “Being untidy makes me unhappy.” But when I really think about it, being messy can make you sad, because it has the power to exasperate a negative emotion that might already be there.

Say you came home feeling grumpy. A messy home is unwelcoming and demoralising; emotions that will make you feel worse, not better. And then there’s the anxiety caused by the situation of your home, and being too busy or too tired to tackle it, especially if you care about what visitors might think, (because who doesn’t?)

So, cleanliness can absolutely make you happy. If you prefer order over chaos, coming home to a spotless, personal space can cheer you up on a bad day. And it can help us feel proud, rather than worried when we think about what others might say.

Feel a sense of accomplishment

There’s no doubt about it, maintaining a spotless home is hard work. It requires a lot of elbow grease and a legitimate amount of mental effort (wait… did I use that cloth to wipe the bathroom or that cloth?) And it takes time. Doing a simple task like hoovering can take 30 minutes or more. And then there’s ironing, which can often take a whole season of Netflix to get through (or is that just me?).

All that time, energy and effort… when you see that manifesting into a spruced up space, it gives you a great sense of pride and accomplishment. And the reward of being able to enjoy it, makes that feat so much sweeter.

Ready to get stuck in?

If having a tidy home can truly make you feel calmer, productive, happy and accomplished, then it’s the cheapest therapy around. It’s also evident that, whilst cleaning takes time, it generates it too, giving us more mental space to do activities that contribute to our happiness.

What do you think? Are you already a domestic pro? Or is there room for improvement? I haven’t always liked tackling mess, but over the years my commitment (and enjoyment) to daily chores has increased substantially. I think a lot of that is down to understanding the benefits of all that hard labour, and knowing how to make it fun. Speaking of which, I’ll leave you with some bonus tips to make your sprucing sessions a little more enjoyable. Give them a try, and good luck!

● Listen to music (and sing!)
● Listen to a podcast or the radio
● Rearrange your furniture
● Have a clear out
● Scrub away with a friend
● Wear a Fitbit and see how many calories you burn
● Buy brand new cleaning utensils
● Do it on a sunny day with the windows and doors open
● Plan your reward(s)!

 

Discover Secret London

The Tower of London, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace: landmarks we know and love when we think of London. But sometimes, these tourist hot spots can make it easy to forget that London has a lot more to offer when you know where to look.

Mountains and dinosaurs, one-hundred-year-old tiny pet burials, forests with towering oak trees, streets brimming with treasures: these are the secrets London has to offer, and I’m here to tell you exactly where to find them.

Vertical Chill, Covent Garden

If you’ve always dreamed of scaling Mount Everest, but the fear of frostbite, dramatic weather changes, a lack of oxygen, and freeze-dried meals has put you off, London can offer you a kinder alternative (with the help of your imagination). Vertical Chill offers challenging ice walls for you to conquer in the heart of Covent Garden within the safety of four walls. The facility will supply your equipment (ice axes, crampons, the works), and you’ll have a dedicated trained instructor to lead you towards the Chill’s metaphorical peaks.

Pet Cemetery, Hyde Park

It’s 1881, and Mr Winbridge, the groundskeeper of Victoria Lodge, has taken on a peculiar request. Cherry, a little Maltese terrier, has passed away. His owners, who were friends with Mr Winbridge, wanted to bury their favourite dog in the park they frequented for walks. And so Hyde Park’s pet cemetery came into creation. Throughout the Victorian Era, pets like Freaky, Bogie, Baby and Smut were buried here, upon the request of their distinguished owners. It’s the only VIP Victorian pet cemetery in Britain, which is probably why the tickets are expensive (£50 per visit), but this peculiar landmark is well worth a visit to experience a rare part of Victorian London.

Epping Forest, Edge of London

London is notorious for its busy streets, glamorous shops, lavish bars and historical sites. But woodland areas teeming with wildlife, lakes and rivers? You wouldn't think so unless you happened upon Epping Forest. This gorgeous area sits just on the edge of London and offers a beautiful setting for an afternoon picnic or a gentle stroll with the family. And if you’re looking to make a day trip, don’t forget to stop at Queen Elizabeth's hunting lodge for an insight into how the Royals like to spend their spare time. The word on Epping Forest hasn’t reached far, so go now, before the secret gets out...

Evans and Peel Detective Agency

It’s the evening, and you’ve had a busy day shopping and sightseeing. Now is the time to relax and have a drink or two at a detective agency. Wait, what? You want a glass of wine, not to solve a crime! Luckily, this is a special kind of detective agency, offering delectable refreshments in an unforgettable setting. To enter, give 310c Earls Court Road a buzz, and be greeted by your personal investigator. They’ll lead you through a bookcase (yes, a bookcase!) into a candlelit room where you can unwind and exchange murder mystery stories over a cocktail or two.

Crystal Palace Park

Speaking of the weird and wonderful, London’s hidden world of crazy doesn’t end there. Head over to Thicket Road, and feel like you're on the set of Walking With Dinosaurs (without the questionable graphics). Here’s a place that is perfect for your kids to let their imagination run wild (warning, getting them to leave may be difficult). And you can’t come to the Crystal Palace park without exploring its stunning gardens, admiring how the dino residents look a little too real hiding in the foliage, and the many gorgeous flowers and trees injecting vibrancy into this curious green haven.

Little Venice

It’s not difficult to see where this serene gem got its name from. Walking along the canal is like meandering along Venice’s romantic streets. It’s a little slice of Italy that celebrates London’s rich multi-cultural identity, with canal boats inches apart from one another resting along the river. On a hot summer's day in London, there’s nothing better than retreating to a little water relief and enjoying an ice cold beer at one of the waterside quaint pubs. And if you fancy an evening out, dinner on one of the canal’s floating restaurants would go down a treat.

Camden Passage

If vintage is your aesthetic, Camden Passage is the place to be. The alley, adjacent to Upper Street in Islington, is more than just a row of shops: it’s cute cafes, independent boutiques, and vintage shops teeming with exquisite one-offs. You won’t find a better place to hunt down treasures for your antique collection, or to have the best pick of shabby-chic furniture in all of London. And if pretty architecture is your thing, Camden Passage offers cobbled paths, Harry Potter like shop windows, and an array of stunning flower bouquets to marry all the beautiful trinkets and jewels displayed along the street.

Can you keep a secret?

Share what you’ve learnt here with your closest comrades. London’s hidden must-dos are all the more special for being away from the tourist throngs. So visit these wonderfully peculiar spots before the secret gets out, and enjoy the peace and wonder in a city full of surprises.

And if you’ve found a little haven of your own in our beloved capital city, share it here. We promise not to tell!

 

30 Ways to Keep Fit by Walking

The beauty of walking? You can do it pretty much anywhere. Mountains, the beach, forests and rolling green hills; your gym, if you choose to walk for exercise.

But as a society, we’re fixated with intense workouts. We want a regime that’ll help us get the fitness results we want fast. So it’s no surprise that most people choose running, spinning, CrossFit and Military Fitness over the gentle art of putting one foot in front of the other.

However, there are many reasons to choose walking over high-impact and fast-paced alternatives. This gentle exercise is great if you’re suffering from an injury or illness, it’s free, and it can easily be integrated into everyday life. Walk enough, and it’s an accessible, easy-going way to keep fit.

Here are 30 tips on how to maximise your fitness levels through walking. Feel motivated to step outside your door, and pursue this modest exercise as your next fitness obsession:

1. Use a FitBit tracker - Feel motivated to walk by monitoring how many steps you’re taking each day, setting goals and acknowledging your progress.

2. Walk to the shops - For your shop ‘pop-ins’, put your shoes on and leave the house without your car keys.

3. Walk straight after a meal: According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, walking just after a meal rather than waiting 30 minutes is much more effective for weight loss.

4. Borrow a dog: Dogs LOVE walks. Bring a pooch along and their joy for the outdoors will put a huge smile on your face.

5. Bring a friend: If it’s a gorgeous day, chances are your friends will want to be outside too. Walking is better with great conversation.

6. Switch up the terrain: Did you know there’s a 60% increase in calories burned when walking uphill compared to moving on flat terrain? Use the app MapMyWalk.com to plan your inclines!

7. Set destinations as goals: Whether it’s the pub or a cultural landmark, pick something that will motivate you to walk towards your finish line.

8. Pick somewhere beautiful for hiking: Turn your exercise into an experience by exploring THE outdoors and soaking in the natural beauty.

9. Buy comfortable shoes: Invest in a new pair of light trainers to avoid achy feet.

10. Bring layers: Especially if you’re hiking somewhere mountainous or near the sea, pack a few light-weight tops to combat the changing weather.

11. Carry water: Being dehydrated will make you tired, and increase the chances you’ll want to quit too soon for a beverage.

12. Bring healthy snacks on long hikes: Eating is a great way to reward yourself. Plan Snack stops along your route to kerb hunger and increase your motivation.

13. Go on a photography expedition: Taking pictures of pretty landscapes can add another level of enjoyment to your walks.

14. Go backpacking: Walking to and from hotels, attractions and travel links is a natural part of backpacking and an excellent way to unconsciously exercise.

15. Join a walking group: trekking while socialising and networking is a great way to make friends who are passionate about fitness too.

16. Set goals every day: Motivate yourself with DAILY goals. Think in miles and destinations, and reward yourself after each target is met.

17. Buy a comfortable bag: Avoid back pain from an ill-fitted or cheap bag by opting for quality and comfort.

18. Stop your online spends: Online shopping saves you time and effort. But SHOPPING SPREES around the city will do wonders for your fitness.

19. Work and walk: If your job involves creative thinking and idea generation, bring along a notebook and jot down your thoughts to enhance your productivity.

20. Think about your savings: If money is tight, opting to walk instead of paying for an expensive gym membership will save you buckets of cash.

21. Pace yourself: You might feel motivated to walk fifty miles, but are you fit enough? Start with achievable targets to avoid feeling overly tired and discouraged.

22. Listen to a podcast: Get stuck into inspirational podcasts like The Real Hiking Viking and feel energised to keep those legs moving.

23. Take the stairs: Set yourself a new rule: no elevators or escalators when stairs are available.

24. Walk fast: Pick up the pace to burn even more calories. But don’t push yourself too hard.

25. Phone a friend: Preoccupy yourself while exercising by calling a friend or family member. The minutes and miles will fly by.

26. Pack a raincoat: Walking in the rain can be both refreshing and relaxing, but only if you have a waterproof on hand!

27. Go on a walking holiday: There are some incredible hiking routes across the globe, such as Jotunheim National Park in Norway and Tamang Heritage Trek in Nepal, begging to be explored.

28. Enjoy ‘me’ time: Make a daily habit of walking by yourself to clear your head.

29. Ditch the watch: Leave your watch at home so your journey isn’t dictated by a set time. Walk until you want to stop, not when you should.

30. Know your route: There’s beauty in not knowing where the road will take you. But getting lost can be stressful. Eliminate this worry by memorising your route, or bringing a map with you.

Make it happen.

Whether you’re a rambler, a hiker, a fast walker or a wanderer, there’s no doubt that if you do it enough, walking will keep you fit. Integrate this exercise into your daily life, and see it as an opportunity to learn about the natural world, to relax, and to stay healthy. Do this, and never look back.

 

 

3 healthy smoothie recipes that will help shed the pounds naturally

There is lots of bad information out there about weight loss.  From pills and powders to books and gadgets, there is a whole industry making money from people’s efforts to shed the pounds. While some people may have limited success, time and time again it is proven that there is one simple way to lose weight – burn more calories exercising than you take in through eating.

While this isn’t generally what people want to hear, it’s safe to say it’s the most effective way to lose weight for most people.  One excellent way to consume fewer calories is to give natural smoothies or juicing a try.  We recently uploaded a beginner’s guide to juicing which you can read here.

How it works
By getting your daily sustenance from organic plant matter instead of calorie dense processed foods, you are going to slash your calorie intake.  But, crucially that doesn’t mean you’ll run out of energy.  Juicing does not = fasting or at least it doesn’t have to. If you make your drinks the correct way then you should be getting all the nutrients and goodness that you need and direct from the source.  If you feel hungry still then load up some more of those leafy greens to get you going again. While it’s true that you may find the first few days difficult, you should notice that your energy levels actually begin to increase and you feel ready for a good calorie burning workout.  That being said, it’s not recommended to undertake intense workouts on your first juice cleanse, particularly if you don’t exercise very often.

Provided you aren’t solely juicing you should seek to include plenty of fibre and protein in your diet through legumes, oats and rice as well as yoghurt or soya alternatives.  Having the occasional smoothie instead of relying solely on juicing can also help as smoothies retain the pulp from all the ingredients.

The amount of success you have with juicing and ultimately the amount of weight you lose will come down to how much you invest in it.  Those who fully detox or fast will of course lose the most, but even just replacing a fatty breakfast or lunch with a detox juice can help you to slim down.  Here are three recipes to get you started:

Minty Kick
-    1 apples de-cored
-    1 stalk of celery (without the leaves)
-    1/4 cucumber (peeled)
-    Fresh mint (to taste)
-    ½ a lemon (unwaxed)
-    1 cup of cale
-    1 inch of fresh ginger (peeled)
-    Add water to fill line of your blending cup

Carrot Cooler
-    2 small-medium sized carrots chopped
-    1 inch of fresh ginger
-    1 cup of mango
-    1 cup of grapefruit
-    Half a teaspoon of turmeric
-    Half a teaspoon of ground cayenne
-    A handful of ice cubes or crushed ice
-    Add water to fill line of your blending cup

Kale & Berry Blast
-    2 cup of blueberries
-    2 cup of kale
-    1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil
-    1 tablespoon of chia seeds
-    Add water to fill line of your blending cup

Use our recipes as a guideline to get started but feel free to experiment. If the consistency is too thin then you can always add more ingredients.   Share your favourite recipes with us by tweeting us at @TimeForYouGroup or for more tips and advice visit us at https://timeforyou.cleaning/uk/ for more tips and advice.

Feel healthy again with a juice cleanse

If you’re looking for a way to feel energised, positive and generally healthy then a 7 day juicing cleanse is the place to start. By ditching fatty, processed foods in favour of a plant-based, nutritional drink you can give your body a much needed kick that will leave you feeling better than ever before.

While a juice cleanse relies primarily on healthy vegetable drinks, it doesn’t rely completely on liquids and is categorically not a fasting diet. It’s simply a reworking of your daily routine that refocuses your food intake on the greatest sources of nutrients – plants.

Planning your cleanse
Try not to think of your cleanse as a diet, but more of a booster to work alongside your long term goal of achieving a mostly healthy diet. Diets have lots of negative connotations and you need to remain positive if you are to stick with it and achieve that healthy glow that you crave.

The best place to start is to plan out your diet for the week. Your routine each day should involve a juice to start your day, followed by a raw food salad or piece of fruit and then finally a warm healthy meal in the evening. Consuming only raw fruit, nuts and juices until 4pm is important. If you eat a cooked breakfast and then have a super healthy shake at lunch time then your body is diverting its attention towards breaking down that heavy breakfast, rather than soaking up all the goodness from a juice or smoothie. Planning your day this way will keep everything moving properly through your system.

It’s important to be prepared and to plan out a diet for the week which covers all the bases, making sure that you are getting enough of everything your body needs.  Try and prepare a diet which is based around macrobiotic foods like oats, barley, rye, millet, corn, buckwheat and brown rice and locally sourced vegetables.  Be sure to incorporate essential fatty acids from foods like flaxseeds, walnuts, avocados, tofu, kidney beans and kale.  Fatty acids like Omega-3 bring balance to your hormones, prevent blood clotting and do many other important jobs around the body. You also need to try and cut down on some of the toxicants that you might be consuming such as caffeine, tobacco, unfiltered water, unrefined sugars, etc.

Now once you have prepared what you will have for your meals, you need to decide what juices and shakes you will begin your day with. Here are some of our favourites which we recommend you rotate:

Dark Beet Juice
Beetroot accounts for 50% of your recommended daily allowance of manganese, a vital component in creating healthy bone and sinew. It also contains folate, a chemical which lowers the risk of major killers like heart disease and cancer and regulates normal healthy brain function.  To feel the benefits mix together two beetroot, an apple, some blackberries and an inch of ginger.

Tummy soother
Unrefined processed foods like white bread, chips and fizzy drinks can wreak havoc on your stomach. Now add coffee, artificial sweeteners, spicy food and alcohol and you have a real problem on your hands. To bring your stomach acids back into balance mix up one cup of pineapple, an inch of ginger, fresh parsley, avocado, banana and a squeeze of lemon to taste. This is a guaranteed way to flush out toxins and aid your digestion.

Citrus wonder
For a refreshing kick start to the morning mix together 1 lemon, 2 oranges and some grapefruit. Add some grated ginger for an extra kick. While citrus juice may have little nutritional value it is an excellent way to boost your metabolism which means you can convert carbohydrates quicker and lose weight.

Green Machine
Lots of juice and smoothie recipes you find will have bananas as their ingredient. However if you’re not a fan of bananas then this shake is for you. Mix together a handful of kale, a quarter of an apple pre-chopped, a quarter of peeled cucumber, some fresh lemon and some grated ginger.  Blend it together with some water and then add some maple syrup to taste if you find it needs sweetening up.

Experiment with these recipes and adjust them to your tastes. For further recipes take a look on websites like Pinterest and be sure to tweet us @TimeForYouGroup and let us know which one’s you’ve enjoyed the most.

Herb gardening for beginners

Few things will liven up your cooking quite like fresh herbs. Having a store to add flavour to your dishes is something that will vastly improve your home cooking.  While dried herbs are readily available from most supermarkets and shops, nothing beats having fresh herbs grown in your garden. Here are some tips and tricks for getting started.

First you should decide upon the types of herbs that you would like to produce. Annual and biennial herbs can be grown very quickly, which means that you will have plenty of crops if you grow them continuously each month. They include basil, coriander, parsley, dill, lemongrass and rocket among others, while perennial herbs like chives, fennel, horseradish, mint, oregano, thyme and sage will take longer to grow.

Herbs require well drained soil with a balanced PH content; they also need compost and fertiliser to keep them sustained. When planting you should look for a spot which is sheltered but also gets a good amount of sunlight throughout the day.  However, some herbs such as basil, chives, fennel and sage aren’t very robust and may need to be grown indoors in trays and pots before being moved out doors later on.

Not everyone has the time, patience or space to grow a vegetable garden which is one of the reasons that herbs are often favoured.  They require very little upkeep too if they are grown outside, as the weather should provide them with enough sustenance, while indoor herbs will only need access to sunlight and some regular watering.

When it comes to harvesting your herbs, you need to be liberal with your picking. If you pick too much of the plant then you harm its chances of being able to regrow sufficiently – which means no more herbs for you!

Do you enjoy gardening? Do you have any special tips on growing your own herbs or creating a garden sanctuary? Tweet us @TimeForYouGroup and let us know, or alternatively visit us at https://timeforyou.cleaning/uk/ for more tips and advice.

5 easy fruits to grow in your garden

The pride that you feel after cooking a meal made from fruit and vegetables from your own garden is hard to beat – ask any gardener.  But taste isn’t the only reason to opt for growing your own veg.  Take apples for example. According to some statistics, as many as 76% of all the apples eaten by hungry mouths in the UK are from another country, with many coming from the USA and non-EU countries.  Not only does this clock up air miles resulting in pollution, but it’s also led to a decline in British apple orchards with over half of UK sites destroyed in the last 30 years.  Yes, fruit doesn’t have to be imported; in fact you can grow it in your own back garden – which is a healthier, more environmentally friendly and often cheaper alternative than buying it in the supermarket. So, which fruits are easy to grow in the UK? Here we profile five excellent options:

1 – Apples
If you’ve got your heart set on a home-made apple pie then you’re in luck. To get started you need to plant an apple tree. You can purchase a young tree ready for planting from a nursery – just Google one in your area or nearby.  Place it in a bucket of water for two hours to allow it to soak up moisture. Next dig a hole with some manure and multi-purpose compost to make it fertile.  Place the tree in your hole and firm it down with soil until stable – try to choose a spot which has equal measures of sunshine and shade.  You might also want to place down some membrane, or even newspaper, to avoid too much weed growth around it.  Apple trees can grow very tall but only if you let them. If you’re worried about space then just keep on top of the pruning to manage the height to around 6-8 ft.  Most apple trees will begin to bear fruit in their 3rd or 4th year of growth but this can vary from species to species and from garden to garden so be patient.

2 – Blackberries and raspberries
Another home garden favourite is brambles like blackberries and raspberries.  Brambles aren’t fussy when it comes to soil but they do need good drainage and they grow best near fence posts, trellises or along walls as they need good support. Soak your blackberry root for a few hours as with the apple tree and again create a nice hole with compost to encourage root growth. Now plant the blackberry and snip the cane away so the plant is only protruding a few inches out from the ground to prevent disease. In terms of care you will need to prune your brambles once in the summer before it bears fruit and then once again after you harvest them.  

3 – Cherries
Cherries are planted as trees too, usually bearing their fruit in July.  Like apples and brambles, soak your cherry tree in a large bucket allowing it to soak up some moisture – you can even leave it overnight if you want. Now dig a hole with compost, manure and garden soil to make sure the cherry tree is set up with all the nutrients it needs. In terms of how deep you should plant the tree, there should be a mark on it which indicates the level it was buried too in the nursery which you should try and match. Now firm it down with soil making sure that no air pockets are left.  Your cherry tree will take around 2-3 years to begin bearing fruit.

4 – Plums
Plums are another delicious treat we can grow in our gardens – enjoyable both cooked and fresh. Victoria plums are a good option in the UK which bears plenty of delicious fruit.  Order your tree online and allow it to soak overnight. Now dig yourself a hole, once again with compost, manure and soil to give it a slow release of nutrients. Firm the plant in with soil, making sure that there are no air pockets left.  You should aim to prune your tree in spring and summer helping to avoid any diseases and you will normally be able to harvest at the end of the summer.  Victoria plum trees are known to produce lots of fruit and it can sometimes be beneficial to remove some of the smaller fruits early, to improve the growth of others.

5 – Strawberries
Strawberries are wonderful. Not only are they one of the sweetest tasting fruits but they also grow incredibly quickly and can be planted in a variety of places which can save you space for other crops to grow. Strawberries require rich fertile soil, so you’ll need to prepare some fertiliser and natural compost for it when planting.  Next, begin planting your strawberries. They need to be planted in rows with gaps of around 18 inches and leaving space for a path to allow you to pick them once they begin to grow. Be sure to weed regularly through the spring and lay down slug pellets to avoid pests from ruining your fruits. Once the fruits begin to flower and turn green you will need to keep watering to a minimum to avoid damp. Finally, once the fruits begin to ripen you will need to cover the beds with netting to prevent them from being eaten by birds!

Do you enjoy gardening? Do you have any special tips on growing your own fruit or creating a garden sanctuary? Tweet us @TimeForYouGroup and let us know, or alternatively visit us at https://timeforyou.cleaning/uk/ for more tips and advice.

Like Our Facebook Page to Win a Wine Hamper!

 

For your chance to win, simply head over to https://www.facebook.com/TimeForYouHQ/ and click ‘Like’ between now and 30th June 2017. 

You will automatically be entered into the draw. Best of luck!

 

Terms and Conditions
1. This competition is open to residents of UK aged over 18 years (except for employees (and their families) of Time For You).
2. 2.1 Only one entry per person is allowed, and that all violations or attempts for violations would be considered as invalid entries and would be disqualified from the competition.
3. All entries will be monitored for any inappropriate, unlawful and offensive content and Time For You may refuse or disqualify entries containing any such content.
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5. The closing date for the competition is 11:59pm on 30th of June, 2017. Entries received after the Closing Date will not be accepted.
6. The prize consists of a Wine Hamper from Naked Wines
7. After the Closing Date, the winner for the Wine Hamper will be drawn at random from all eligible entries within 7 days.
8. The winner will be announced within 7 days of the closing date on the Time For You Facebook page and will be notified through Facebook. The winner will be required to respond to the email with a postal address for the prize to be delivered no later than 31 days from the date of Time For You’s original email. Failure to respond within this time period may result in the prize being forfeited and Time For You shall have the right to select another winner. The prize will be sent to the address provided by the winner in his or her response email or can be picked up from the shop front. Time For You will not be liable if the prize does not reach the winner for reasons beyond reasonable control.
9. If the prize/s is unavailable, Time For You reserves the right to substitute the prize with a prize to the equal value and/or specification. There is no cash alternative and the prize is non-transferable and non-refundable.
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19. Promoter: Time For You registered office is at 15 Fletcher Street Byron Bay NSW 2481. You can contact the promoter by writing to 'Plantation House', 19 Standing Stones, Great Billing, Northampton, NN3 9HA.

 

How to Take Better Photos With Your Smart Phone

Smartphones these days, give you the power of high-quality SLR cameras.  But do you know how to get the best out of them?  This guide explains the basic principles of photography and shares some top tips on how to supercharge your smartphone photography.

 

Make friends with your camera

First things first, use your smartphone camera as often as you can. The only poor pictures are those you don’t take. Take pictures you wouldn’t normally take and look for the unexpected. Play around with the settings and other functions on your smartphone camera. Practice makes perfect after all.

Three, it’s the magic number

One of the easiest ways to improve your mobile photos is to turn on the camera's gridlines. It superimposes a series of lines on the screen of your smartphone's camera that are based on the “rule of thirds” - according to this principle an image should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine parts in total. If you place points of interest in these intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced and level and the viewer will be more naturally drawn to the photo.

Keep it simple

Many of the best photos include just one, interesting subject. So when taking a picture of a subject, spend some extra time setting up the shot. Some professional photographers say that the subject shouldn’t fill the entire frame and that two-thirds of the photo should be negative space, that helps the subject stand out even more.

Embrace the negative

Following on from the last point, "Negative space" simply refers to the areas around and between the subjects of an image, and it can take a photo from "good" to "great”. When you include a lot of empty space in a photo, your subject will stand out more and evoke a stronger reaction from your viewer. Need ideas for negative space? Perhaps a large expanse of open sky, water, an empty field, or a large wall.

Leading lines

In some photos, there's a line that draws the viewer's eye toward a certain part of the frame. Those are called leading lines. They can be straight or not, think staircases, building facades, train tracks, roads, or even a path through the woods. Leading lines are great for creating a sense of depth in an image, and you can make your photo look purposefully designed, even if you just happened to come upon a really cool shape by accident.

Different Perspectives


Taking photos from a unique, unexpected angle can make them more memorable, it creates an illusion of depth or height with the subjects. It also makes the image stand out since most mobile photos are taken either straight on or from a bird's eye view. Try taking a photo directly upward and playing with the sky as negative space. Or, you can try taking it at a slight downward angle.

Repetition


Repetitive patterns are very pleasing to the eye, they appear whenever strong graphic elements are repeated over and over again, like lines, geometric shapes, forms, and colours. These patterns can make a strong visual impact, and photographing something like a beautiful, tiled floor can be enough to create a striking image.

Go for gold


For an amazing landscape photo, your best bet is the golden hour, the hour around sunrise or sunset. The sun is low and has a warm tone that brings out details. To use the sun to your advantage any time of day, look for pockets of light, someone walking down a street in a slant of light makes a powerful image.

Lemme take a selfie


Hold the phone high with your arm extended to prevent a double chin. If it’s sunny, move into the shade. Sunlight can cause your face to be overexposed or cast a harsh shadow and make you squint. The best way to take a full body selfie is with the camera out of your hand, propped against books or something else to keep it upright, and using a timer.

Steal


Pick your favourite photos on Pinterest and Instagram and try and compose similar shots yourself. You’ll be amazed at how good your photos will look if you have a simple framework to follow. It will also give you the inspiration to vary your photography style.

 

Written by Mike Pye