January blues, post-Christmas depression, SAD, Blue Monday – whatever you call it, January is a bit crap isn’t it? It’s light for about 47 minutes a day, you’re broke and tired… I know what you need!

A competition!

This competition comes courtesy of the lovely people at Get Fruity. January isn’t crap for them – they’re celebrating because they’ve just started selling their Cornish made fruity oat bars in Tesco.

Hoorah!

I’ve been munching my way through a couple of their mixed boxes over the last few weeks and they really are tasty. Get Fruity bars are made with fruit, oats and virgin coconut oil, contain absolutely no refined sugars, and are gluten free, dairy free and vegan certified. They have really interesting flavours too, like juicy apricot, orange and ginger.

Basically they’re pretty ace. 

Because they’re so tasty and wholesome, they’re perfect for packed lunches. With this in mind, Get Fruity have put together a fantastic prize bundle, consisting of a month’s supply of their mixed boxes, a choice of either a Frozen or an Avengers lunch box and drinks bottle, and a £50 voucher to spend at one of their stockists – either Ocado, Waitrose or Tesco – it’s up to you which you’d prefer.

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I have a gadget to show you today!

You know how lots of blogs show off fancy things like iPads and remote control helicopters? Well, it’s sort of like that. Only not. 

Today I want to introduce you to Innovo. You might remember Innovo from when I talked about it here a couple of months ago? Innovo is a totally non-invasive way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and treat cause of urinary leaks, rather than just covering them up. Stress incontinence is something that a lot of people are too embarrassed to talk about, but it’s definitely not something you should just have to accept.

This post is the first in a series where I’m going to be properly putting Innovo through its paces, checking in at intervals to tell you about my progress and the changes I’m noticing. I don’t want to just give you the theory – I want to give you a thorough, honest review, so that if you do want to do something about your pelvic floor, you have all the information you need about Innovo to invest with confidence.

(That sounded very serious didn’t it? I promise to make wee gags too. You have to laugh at stuff remember? You just want to be able to laugh without wetting yourself.)

In this post then, I just want to show you exactly what’s involved, what you can expect if you choose to try Innovotherapy for yourself, and to give you a bit of background into the technology. 

Let’s get the science out of the way before I get my thighs out shall we? View Post

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2017 has arrived and like we do every year we make resolutions to improve our lives over the coming year. We resolve to hit the gym to get healthier and fitter. We resolve to be better friends, sons, daughters, spouses and partners. We resolve to be more productive and go for that new job or promotion. We resolve to finally go to that event we’ve been banging on about for years but never actually attended. We resolve to improve ourselves in many ways, but do we pass the same regard onto our cars?

Our cars take us to wherever we want to go, carry what needs to be carried and helps us transport our friends and loved ones. Cars have become almost an essential part of most of our lives, so why don’t we ever resolve to take care of our cars better every New Year?

Lose weight

You may wish to personally lose weight and get fit, that is what gyms and running shoes are for. But your car needs to lose weight as well. Have a New Year clear out and take out anything that you don’t need. Remove all the junk and your car will become much lighter. That will then save you money on petrol and reduce your emissions. You will be saving the planet and your bank balance.

full-boot

Keep it clean

If you want to enjoy driving your car and feeling as if you’re sat in a nice place, clean your car. You probably wash the outside of your car often to ensure it looks clean for everyone else to look at. However, inside is just as important. You should enjoy sitting and looking at the inside of your car and that means throwing out all the rubbish, dusting the dashboard, patting down the foot mats and hoovering the entire car, including the seats.

clean-car

Check those tyres

Tyres are not cheap. If you want to save your bank balance further, ensure your tyre pressure is always pumped up correctly. This allows the car to drive at peak performance. It does not have to struggle on lower tyre pressure, which costs you both in fuel efficiency and tyre tread, therefore you will require new tyres more frequently. Save money this new year.

Take it on holiday

Our cars are great for the weekly shop and getting to work and back, but they are also fantastic ways of taking a holiday. 2017 could be the year for a good old fashioned road trip. Whether you go with family or friends, you can pack up the car and set off on an adventure that may be planned down to the mile or it could be completely spontaneous and you make the whole thing up as you go along.

You could take a trip around Britain or you could head abroad into Europe and see the most spectacular places, meet the most interesting of people and drive on the most amazing roads available.

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Lease yourself a new car

In the New Year, it is time to reflect upon whether or not you need a new car or not. Have you been driving the same car for years and fancy a fresh look? Or maybe your car is simply getting old and not working to the full capacity and is actually costing you more money than it is worth?

If any of these things ring true, it might be worth considering a New Year Resolution to get a new car. There are a variety of ways to achieve that. You can get a car through car finance, which allows you to own the car after paying monthly payments for an agreed period of time. This happens either by paying the car off over the period with a PHP deal or paying off a certain amount over the period then pay off the rest of the car through a balloon payment as you do with a PCP agreement.

Another way you can get a car is through car leasing. You have a variety of options varying from paying a deposit and low monthly payments, or never needing to pay a deposit at all and car leasing for those who have poor or bad credit. The only difference between leasing and finance is that you must hand the car back at the end of the agreement, but then you don’t have to worry about depreciation and can simply hand the car back and upgrade if you fancy a different car.

2017 could be the greatest year of our lives and we start it by making our resolutions. Your car deserves to have a year just as good as yours. Make sure you make resolutions to keep your cars in the best condition possible and if necessary treat yourself to a new, fresh car.

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Happy New Year and welcome to 2017. The beginning of the year is always about contemplation and renewal and we believe you should consider a new car for the family. Now is the best time to think about it as you have summer holidays to plan for and you may need a fresh pair of wheels for that. Also as your children go through school, they may pick up more friends meaning you have to pick up more passengers during the school run. So much to consider when it comes to your family car.

Depending upon what you want from your family car, we have a few great suggestions for you. There are a variety of ways to get these cars and one of the easiest is through car leasing with no upfront deposit. All you need to do is pay monthly for an agreed period, usually 3-4 years.

Skoda Octavia

Skoda have long been rated as excellent cars and the Octavia is one of their best. It is brilliantly built, both inside and out and is very safe, making it great for your family. In fact, Skoda updated the Octavia last year, giving it a new high tech petrol engine and extra equipment.

skoda-octavia

Octavia’s Engine

There is a wide selection of engine options available for the Octavia, so we will cover the cheapest, the fastest and the greenest engines just to give you a flavour of what you could get for your family.

The cheapest model of the Octavia comes with a 1.0-litre TSI S petrol engine. It develops 115 bhp. With that power, it accelerates from 0-60 mph in 9.9 seconds, making it great for getting up to speed on the motorway. It has a top speed of 126 mph. With regards to the fuel economy, you get a very respectable combined fuel economy of 62.8 mpg. You will not be losing shed loads of money running this car.

The greenest Octavia is the 1.6 TDI 110 SE Technology Greenline III (mouthful). It has a four-cylinder diesel engine producing 110 bhp. It has a top speed of 128 mhp and accelerates from 0-60 mph in 10.6 seconds. More importantly however, it has a combined fuel economy of 80.7 mpg. You won’t be filling this car up too often and it’ll save you plenty of money.

The same cannot be said for the fastest Octavia. This model is the Octavia 2.0 TSI vRS. Under the bonnet you will find a four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine developing 220 bhp. From this power, this Octavia has a top speed of 154 mph and accelerates from 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds, making it one quick car off the mark. It does come with a combined fuel economy of 45.6 mpg, which isn’t too bad considering the power you get with this model. Truthfully if you have chosen this car then fuel economy isn’t high on your priorities.

Octavia’s Interior

Climb inside the Octavia and you will find a brilliantly well-built car. The dashboard is simply set out and easy to use so no need to mess around with the dials whilst driving. The materials are all up to the quality of its German rivals (so excellent). The infotainment system is easy to use as well. It comes with large icons and can be used on the move without having to take your eyes off the road for long periods of time.

Now when it comes to space for the family and friends, the Octavia has plenty of space for 5 six-foot adults to sit comfortable with plenty of legroom and headroom. That means when on the school run, your children and their friends will be very happy. Head around to the back of the car and open the boot, you will find an impressive amount of space. You get a whopping 590-litres of boot capacity and if you don’t need to take all the children and need some additional space, you can drop those rear seats and increase the boot capacity to 1,580-litres.

The Skoda Octavia is the best family car on the market without a doubt, but that doesn’t mean it will suit your taste. Therefore, check out our next suggestions!

Audi A3 Sportsback

Audi are great at making brilliant cars and for the practical family car, they have one of the best. Their premium family hatchback is the Audi A3 Sportsback. It comes with five doors for better access, so no more squeezing yourself or your kids in and out of the back.

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Audi A3 Sportsback’s Engine

The one model to consider is the 1.6 TDI Sport model. It comes with a four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine producing 110 bhp. It has a top speed of 124 mph, which you will never need to reach, but it’s good to know. You will be able to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 10.7 seconds, which it can both smoothly and quickly so it is great for motorway driving. It is also a money saver, having a combined fuel economy of 70.6 mpg.

There is a faster model in the form of the Audi A3 Sportsback 2.0 TDI 184 Quattro S Line (another mouthful). It has a four-cylinder turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel engine with automatic gearbox. It develops 184 bhp allowing it to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds making it quick off the mark and great for the motorway. It also hits a top speed of 143 mph. Despite it being such a quick car, it has an impressive fuel economy of 57.7 mpg. It is quick, powerful and still has low running costs. 

Audi A3 Sportsback Interior

With Audi building the A3 Sportsback, you can be assured that the build quality will be high. The plastics are soft-touch so you have no rough surfaces. You also have leather and piano black or aluminium trim to break up the design and gives you a very upmarket feel. You get a fully up to date infotainment system that is controlled by a physical knob ensuring that you can keep your eyes on the road without having the mess around with touchscreen.

Lets talk passenger space. Audi have ensured that six-foot adults can sit comfortably both in the front and in the back without concern. If you have four adults you should be very comfortable, but add a fifth and whilst it is still comfy, it is a little tight. You don’t have to worry about this with your children. They should have plenty of space. Boot capacity is 380-litres so it isn’t as big as the Octavia, but it is still plenty of place for practical use for day to day use.

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Vauxhall Astra

The Vauxhall Astra is one of the best staple family hatchbacks available on the road today. It has in fact been around for over 36 years and in its lifetime, has sold over three million cars. I continue to be an affordable family car that would be perfect for the school run and commute to work.

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Astra’s engine

Like the majority of family cars, there are a variety of engines to choose from. Our first model is the 1.4i 16V Design. Under the bonnet you get a four-cylinder 1.4-litre petrol engine that develops 100 bhp. With that, this Astra hits a top speed of 115 mph and accelerates from 0-60 mph in 12.6 seconds. It also comes with a combined fuel economy of 52.3 mpg.

The greener model is the 1.6 CDTi 16V ecoFLEX Design (what is it with these mouthfuls?). This one has a four-cylinder turbocharged 1.6-litre diesel engine. It produces 110 bhp and has a top speed of 124 mph. It accelerates from 0-60 mph in 10.2 seconds. More importantly it has a combined fuel economy of 85.6 mpg ensuring you save money on running costs.

Now let us talk speed. The fastest Astra model is the 1.6T 16V 200 Elite. It also has a four-cylinder turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine. It develops 200 bhp, allowing it to have a top speed of 146 mph and sprints from 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds. Despite the speed and the power, this Astra has a decent fuel economy with 46.3 mpg.

Astra’s interior

For the price, you pay for the Astra, you get a well-built interior and easy to use infotainment system. The dashboard comes with either seven-inches or eight-inches and has a newer, simpler layout compared to older models. The materials in the cabin are good quality and well put together ensuring you enjoy being sat there. Quick note: the speedometer rises in 20 mph so there isn’t actually a 30 mph mark.

Passenger space is great for families in this car too. You get plenty of space for both adults and children, although add a fifth adult in and it does get slightly tight. The Astra’s boot has 370-litres of boot capacity and when you drop those rear seats, that increases to 1,210-litres or 1,235-litres depending upon your model of choice.

There are many brilliant family cars and these are our top suggestions for you. Now should be a time of considering how 2017 can be will be the best year for your family. One way of making that become a reality is why decided if you have the right car for your family.

Getting that perfect family car can make such a difference and make everything so much easier. Driving away with a car like a Skoda Octavia or an Audi A3 has been made even easier thanks to car leasing. You don’t have to worry about placing a deposit. All you need to know if your monthly budget and how long you want to agreement to last and you can drive away with a leased car in no time.

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Do you remember back in the summer me talking about Simples, the new online insurance tool from Compare the Market?

No, I didn’t think you would. Honestly, it’s like you’re not even paying attention. 

Anyway.

The product is still in beta, but it’s had quite a few updates since the summer, so I wanted just to remind you about it and let you know how to sign up, if you haven’t already. (Which I’m sure you did the moment you finished reading my first post?)

What is Simples?

Simples is a bit like a smart online filing cabinet. It’s somewhere to store all of your insurance documents so that you can be reminded when they are due for renewal and easily access key policy information. If you’re anything like me, you just sign up for the second cheapest (my life philosophy) and then totally forget how much you paid, what you’re insured for and where you put the documents.

You have the option to set reminders so that you remember to get quotes when your policies are coming up for renewal, plus you can text Simples with any straightforward questions you might have if for any reason you don’t have access to the site or need a super quick response.

So what’s new?

Simples has added quite a few new features since I last reviewed it, which now makes it even simpler to use, with more support for different types of insurance product. This was one of the points raised by the bloggers who got together in the summer – we were keen to see more types of insurance included.  View Post

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Today I’m reviewing Leetchi, an online money collection website. It’s dead handy – well worth a read.

On more than one occasion during my working life I’ve found myself in that awkward situation known as the ‘present collection’.

It goes something like this:

An envelope and a card are working their way around the office. It’s a collection for someone in accounts that you’ve only met a couple of times. You want to contribute but when you look in your purse you realise you only have seven pence or a ten pound note. Obviously you’re not putting the note in – you barely know the woman and besides, no one hears the note go in, so you won’t get the kudos.

So, do you:

A) Just pretend to put cash in and rattle the envelope a bit to make a noise

B) Put in the seven pence to be seen to be adding something and hope that no one sees the actual coins

C) Just casually sign the card and pass it on

Of course there is the option to say that you don’t have any cash on you and add some later, but how feasible is that? Normally in this sort of situation the envelope has just appeared on your desk and no one really knows where it came from or where it’s going to end up. It just sorts of travels mysteriously from desk to desk until suddenly Janice has a new baby bouncer to take on maternity leave. No one really understands how.

A new online tool – Leetchi.com – just made this awkward money collection thing a whole lot easier.  View Post

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I’ve spent most of the last two weeks coughing. I’ve written before about my coughs – they’re pretty annoying, for everyone concerned. 

38 years on, and my coughs now have a new twist. Not only do I have to worry about not being able to breathe, generally irritating people etc, but now I have to simultaneously stop myself from weeing in my own pants. It’s such fun! Oh, hang on, a cough is coming… Stop walking, cross your legs… Yep, that’s right, everyone is staring but not to worry, it’s all fine.

(It’s not really fine.)

When you’re feeling rough, and coughing until your head feels like it might explode, a bit of light bladder leakage is like the big, fat, leaky cherry on top of the cake. (A cake made of mud and toothpaste, like that one Mr Mischief makes.) It’s made worse by the fact that no one talks about it. It’s something that effects so many of us, and yet we just go around, quietly crossing our legs, feeling like it’s just us.

There is a silver lining though! If you look hard enough, you can always find a positive right? The silver lining here is that a company called Confitex got in touch recently to ask if I fancied writing about their range of utility underwear, which they’re introducing to the UK, and the cough has given me the perfect introduction.

SMOOTH.

So here I am, breaking the ‘slippage silence’ and talking (again), casually, about bladder leakage.

When I read ‘utility underwear’, I have to admit that my first thought was ‘are these pants for soldiers or something?’. That’s not what it is though. It’s actually incontinence underwear – underwear that has been designed especially to help people experiencing leaks in the urinary department. 

The key word for me here is ‘designed’. This isn’t a range of bulky pants that looks like nappies or anything like that, it’s properly designed underwear that looks good, but just happens to have a practical use too. To make the point, see if you can stop the Confitex incontinence underwear in this little collage:

(Don’t tell me I don’t know how to entertain you…)

Confitex incontinence underwearWhat do you reckon?

1 and 4 are actually the Confitex pants, although I think that the model in number 3 looks like she might be doing her best to hold something in.

The point I’m making is that Confitex have designed their range to look like regular underwear. They don’t want to make the whole situation any more awkward or embarrassing than it is already, they just want to make a pair of normal looking pants that can also make people feel comfortable and secure.

I’m not saying we should all give up on our pelvic floor exercises and just slip into a pair of incontinence pants, of course not. We should all be doing everything we can to keep our pelvic floor muscles strong, but sometimes you are going to need a little bit of extra protection.

My second thought, after the thing about soldiers in pants, was that surely a pair of knickers that looked so ordinary wouldn’t be able to actually do very much? I was wrong again. 

Confitex underwear is available for both men and women and comes in two levels of absorbency, so you can choose what suits you best. You might be experiencing a little leakage, perhaps you’ve just had a baby, or maybe you’re a man recovering after a proctectomy. The medium absorbency isn’t messing about. That’s a lot of fluid right there:

Confitex incontinence underwear

I think I’d find it hard not to chuck half a cup of tea into my pants, just to see what happened.

Confitex underwear is totally reusable – you can wash and tumble dry it like normal – and it’s made with bamboo fibre, which is super soft and has natural anti-bacterial properties too. If you’re worried about those little leaks and are intrigued to find out more, then just take a look at the Confitex website.

And cross you fingers for me (and your legs) that my cough clears up soon.

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