Money making ideas

In the last few years global trading volumes in the foreign exchange markets have reached a record high as more and more people are actively trading in Forex market.  Thus trading in a live market can really be a daunting task in the beginning and this is why it is always suggested that your first forex account should be a Demo Forex account. Forex trading is nothing new and with each passing day more and more people are getting to it and thus there is no looking back now. Trading in Live account can be really risky and thus one should always avoid getting into it in the beginning and initially learn the trick and tips of the trade. It is of utmost importance to learn the features as well as how to use the trading platform before trading to a live account. Fortunately there is a provision of using a demo account on each platform where no real money is at risk and one can learn how to trade and other features prior to going live.

Most of the brokers and especially well known and reputed brokers allow potential customers to download a free demo version of their trading software. This is of great use as the customers gets to use the software and get acquainted with the platform’s layout and use it how to trade. One should understand that each platform is different though majority of the brokers use Meta Trader 4 and 5 which are also known as MT4 and MT5. There are many brokers who use additional platforms which are different as they are the proprietary to the broker and thus this platform may not be available with other brokers. Thus demo accounts are virtual accounts with virtual money which is connected to a real trading platform which receives real data from the market and one can trade on it. This means that you can trade in a real market scenario where you can open and close trades and it won’t cost you anything and your trading commands are not sent to the real market however you will not feel any difference. In simple words demo accounts realistically simulate real trading and the only difference is the real money. Now, when one should use a demo account is something which needs to explain. Initially using a demo account is important in two situations firstly when you are a beginner and you are not familiar with forex trading this is when you should start with a demo account. Secondly when you wish to test a trading platform before going live with the real money is when you should opt for a demo account.

The main intent of using a demo account is to control the trading platform as it should never happen that you trade in real money without knowing when to open and close a trade. Thus do a research and open a demo account with Best ECN Platform and start practising trades. One you have through idea of how to set your take profit and stop loss than you are somewhat ready to deal on the real account on the love trade with real money.

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I’ve not been interested in dating at all now for a good six months. It’s actually the most chill I’ve ever felt relationship wise and I’m really enjoying doing my own thing, pottering about and basically not caring much about anything.

I’ve painted a wall in my bedroom a really dark greeny teal colour (there’s a picture on my Facebook page) and rearranged the furniture so that my bed is now in a corner and can only be accessed from one side. If that isn’t a statement of intent then I don’t know what is. I even went to an evening class and learned how to make prints in a dark room. Menopause here I come.

A few days ago though I had a bit of a moment – curiosity more than anything I think – and I redownloaded Tinder, just to see. Obviously the first thing I saw was a man holding a big fish, and then another looking incredibly sad and like dating might tip him over the edge, (two ticks on my Tinder bingo card), and so it served as a welcome reminder of why cats are better than boyfriends.

(I also saw that the man who called me a liar was still there. Not sure why he hasn’t been snapped up.)

I did have a cheeky swipe though, just to check that the evening course hadn’t crushed all of my desirability, and I got a few matches back. Fine. In my experience barely anyone ever actually bothers to message once they known that they could if they wanted to, so I didn’t feel under pressure.

And then this morning I got this lovely message and felt it my duty to reply:

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camping in the garden

Why spend the money on a fancy camping spot in the middle of nowhere surrounded by other people? Do you want to spend your weekend driving with the kids from one location to the next, refereeing arguments and playing endless games of “I Spy”? Maybe it’s the thought of packing up all the gear required for a camping trip and hauling it from one place to the next. Whatever the reason you are against camping in normal circumstances – why not turn your backyard into the place to be?

You can set up different stations with various activities and turn your weekend around. These fun weekends with your family will cement your bond and give not only yourself but your children a memory that will last a lifetime. There are so many things that you could do in your backyard that are both educational and fun while getting the entire family on board!

Want to find out some of these activities and interested in saving money but still making memories? Then keep reading!

Obstacle Course

Want to burn your kid’s energy out a little before they come back into the house? Looking to get them moving and active so they don’t develop bad, lazy habits during the summer? Then you might want to look into building an obstacle course in your backyard.

Using scrap wood and other required materials, build your kids an obstacle course that comes complete with a rock-climbing wall, a rope swing set frame, an observation deck and more. Look up DIY blueprints online for the best ideas and the easiest way to go about constructing an obstacle course.

Camping 

One of the coolest things you can do in your backyard is camp out under the stars and become a part of Mother Nature. Set up a couple of tents in your backyard complete with sleeping bags and pillows; teaching your children safety and responsibility by allowing them to set up their own tent.

Once the daylight is gone, light a bonfire and start the assembly line for homemade s’mores. Use this opportunity to teach your children about fire safety and how to build a safe fire. Set a ground rule that no one is allowed in the house except for bathroom breaks and dim the inside lights to mimic nature in the dark. You can even string lights through the trees to invoke the night sky and their twinkling stars. Have flashlights available and see who can tell the scariest story without flinching; awarding a prize for the most elaborate story.

Treehouses

There is nothing better than having your own hideout as a kid and the best way to keep them in your line of sight is to build a treehouse in your backyard. They can keep their treasures in there and have meetings for their secret clubs. Use old blankets and pillows to create a cozy haven for your kids and weather permitting – allow them to sleep out there with their friends for the ultimate experience.

treehouse in the garden

Maintenance of Your Backyard

Regardless of what cool activity you decide to set up in your backyard or if you set up a combination of things – it is important to give your backyard a little TLC before the winter sets in. The constant foot traffic and activity stations can be hard on the grass and on your garden beds as potential contaminants are everywhere.

Use a combination of mulch and compost to fertilize your garden beds, giving them a much-needed boost in terms of nutrients and protection. These add-ons to your garden beds acts as a barrier between your garden beds and the rest of Mother Nature.

Use a fertilizer on your lawn to supplement the grass and offer it the needed vitamin boosts to make it through the winter. Use it as directed and to read more about how a lawn fertilizer can help you; click here.

Conclusion

Children don’t understand the concept of money and how certain things can be a shock to your financial system when things aren’t going right. While money is put away for school field trips and whatnot; it can be hard to come up with the dollars required to take your children somewhere every single weekend. The cost of the gas, wear and tear on your vehicle, food, supplies and the entrance fee can quickly total up and not be that fun to pay.

That is why turning your backyard into an activity filled place is a great idea. It’s close to home (literally), you are able to allow your children some freedom and independence (because you are right inside) and it’s something that they can re-use over and over. As they grow, update the activities and make it more suitable to their age. They can have friends over, sleepovers in the backyard under the stars and more, allowing you to give them the best childhood you possibly can.

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Preparing for the SATs can be a daunting experience for your teen, and sometimes even you can feel the pressure as a parent. However, there are a lot of things you can do to make it a richer experience and to support their growth as individuals.

This short guide explores different ways that you can prepare your teen for the challenges of the SATs to set them up for success.

1. Sign Up Your Teen for an SAT Prep Course

One of the best ways for a parent to prepare teens for an important test is to enlist the help of courses that specialize in SAT preparation. This will give your teen an edge in the exam because such courses offer the experience and technical expertise necessary to guide your kid through the more complicated areas of SAT preparation. As another advantage, your teen will be able to understand complicated concepts more efficiently with comprehensive and thorough guidance. 

2. Help Them Cope With the Pressure

The first thing that you have to recognize is that this is a challenging period for your teen. The SAT is one of the determining factors of which college that they get into. If you’re feeling the pressure, it’s probably two-fold for them.

You must be a person whom they can rely on for emotional support. That being said, it’s important that you are always present to give them motivation and guidance every step of the way.

During the test preparation process, you should be mindful of their mental health and not add unnecessary pressure to what they’re already undergoing. Teens nowadays might not talk about the anxiety that they have.

3. Familiarize Yourself with the Material

Knowing the material yourself will allow you to guide your teen in their journey towards SAT greatness. It will enable you to guide them through the course correctly should they need a little direction.

Another thing that’s great about knowing the material is that it allows you to answer questions that they might have and identify problem areas that they are facing. In a sense, you can be your teen’s tutor should the need arise.

4. Help Them Plot Out a Study Plan or Schedule

One concern that your teen will face is the proper scheduling of study sessions and the ever-changing nature of their other activities. It’s vital that you can help them with a study schedule earlier on.

Sticking to a schedule will ensure that they are right on track when it comes to their review, and it also makes sure that they cover the topics that they need to prepare for. A schedule also prevents unnecessary cramming, which can lead to added pressure and, at times, anxiety for your teen.

By being able to study earlier, your teen will be able to cover more material and allot more time perfecting subjects that they could be having issues in. This is a more holistic approach to studying.

5. Consider Getting on an SAT Preparation Program

There are a lot of programs available online that allow your teen to do self-study; and some of these applications will enable them to study no matter where they are. These are great ways for testing know-how. The practice questions make for an excellent springboard to get familiar with the material.

6. Encourage Your Teen to Take a Baseline Test

One of the best ways to assess your teen’s current performance and knowledge is to take a baseline test. This will determine which parts of the exam they already excel in and which sections they still have to focus on improving.

By doing this, you can adequately divide study time up to focus on subjects where your teen could work on more.

7. Guide Them through Continuous Practice

Practice makes perfect, and this is the same thing with SAT examinations. The more your teen goes through practice materials and questions, the better they get at the test. Constant practice can help them in getting excellent scores on the actual test.

There are plenty of places to get practice tests, and it is encouraged that you get as much of them as possible to provide them to your teen. These tests are great for test preparation.

8. Allow Them Time to Rest

Your teen won’t perform well when they are constantly under pressure, so always make time to tell them you appreciate their hard work and that rest and recreation are just as important as study time. Rest is sometimes all they need to get going after arduous review sessions.

Conclusion

As a parent, you need to be able to be your teen’s number one cheerleader and support system. This is a hard time for them, but with enough planning, you can prepare them to get optimal scores on the exam.

  

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Post from Martina Smilevska 

Creating a chic home but still keeping it kids-friendly can be really challenging. How to display antique items so they’re safe? Should you avoid light colors because of all the spills and stains? We have a solution – decorate your home in Moroccan style.

Cozy, colorful, and welcoming, Moroccan style blends enchanting Mediterranean overtones with contemporary functionality. An attractive blend of finishes and cultures, this style will certainly take your home’s décor to a whole new level.

Moroccan interiors

Bringing Morocco to Your Home

There’s something absolutely amazing about Moroccan design. It features complex geometric patterns and lots of colors in everything from pillows to floor coverings. Traditional Moroccan style is quite ornate, but it can be scaled down to create a perfect ambiance in your home. Bear in mind that fabric is crucial. Rugs, blankets, and curtains can carry the theme on their own.

Located in the northwest part of Africa, Morocco boasts a rich heritage as well as Arabic, Spanish, and French influences reflected in the architecture and interior design. The Morrocan style also features natural elements inspired by the varied geography of beaches, deserts, and mountains. So, if you want to bring a touch of Casablanca to your home, here are a few tips that will be helpful.

Cover the Floors

Moroccan rugs

When it comes to floors, Moroccan rugs offer countless opportunities. With their strong geometric designs and bold color palette, these handwoven beauties have become popular among interior designers and private consumers alike. Each vintage Moroccan rug contains a slice of history and folk art that will make your home unique.

If you want to add a pop of color, choose Boucherouite rugs which are popular for their bright colors and are made from recycled materials. If you’re saving the more vivid colors for the walls or furniture items and want a more toned down floor option, opt for Beni Ourain rugs. These rugs are made of sheepskin by the Beni Ourain tribes in the Atlas Mountains. They’re traditionally beige with large lozenges, but you can also find Beni rugs in other colors like taupe or turquoise.

However, since there are kids in your home, we recommend choosing the more colorful and patterned options, which hide damage like spills and stains very well. 

If rugs aren’t your thing, go with tiles with colorful mosaic designs.

Choose Color for the Walls

Being bordered by the Mediterranean Sea on one coast and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Moroccan design abounds with vivid blue shades. There’s also the clear blue of the sky, the yellow of the shining sun, as well as the purple, pink, and orange from the breathtaking sunset. The mountains and the desert contribute neutral shades like gold, green, and brown.

If you want bolder-looking rooms, go for bright orange for all the walls and trim it with sandy brown. You can also bring the beach to your home by painting one wall blue and the other three in bright yellow.

Moroccan design also has Spanish-influenced elements and one of the most prominent ones is texture. If you want to add texture to the walls, use techniques like plastering and sponging. These techniques in combination with darker hues will hide your children’s wall artwork (you know, pencil and marker scribbles that shouldn’t be there) better than walls in lighter shades.

Find the Perfect Furniture

One of the main concerns when decorating with kids in mind is safety, so furniture that’s free of sharp edges is a must. Stylish leather hassocks known as poufs are the perfect solution for this reason. Kids can play around them without fear of sharp edges. They can also be used as extra seating, serve as tables (to place all those plates, trays, and cups for your little girl’s tea parties), or perform a footrest duty for tired football players.

You can also include a traditional Moroccan couch in the living room to serve as a daybed on which you will nap or read. Cover the cushions with boldly-colored fabrics featuring pink and green or toss on throw pillows in contrasting hues like pink, purple, and blue.

Add Ambiance with the Right Lights

Whether pendant lamps or lanterns, Moroccan lamps will bring a dash of magic to your home. No, because you’re with kids, avoid lanterns because they can be easily knocked over. Metal lamps are a classic Moroccan décor element seen in Morocco, but you can also opt for an onion-shaped chandelier made of leaded-glass and iron accents, and colored in a jewel tone like emerald or topaz.

Use Beautiful Accessories

It is possible to have beautiful accessories around your home without constantly stressing that something will happen to them. The secret is to avoid items like sculptures and focus on decorating the walls. 

When you’re choosing accessories for your Moroccan style home, keep in mind that Moroccan décor is all about intricate patterns and vivid colors. Here are some ideas to help you add the best finishing touches:

 

  • Display a colorful Moroccan rug on the wall as a piece of art.

 

  • Scatter floor pillows in bold colors all around the living room for extra seating.

 

  • Mirrors can boost the Moroccan interior by discreetly reflecting light while at the same time decorating the walls. Look for mirrors with onion dome-shaped frames, frames made of deeply sculpted wood, ornamental ironwork, metal or gem embellishments, or frames covered in small tiles in a mosaic pattern. If you choose a big mirror, position it opposite the windows to keep the Moroccan-style interior light.

 

  • Choose curtains made of colorful fabrics and rich textures.  

Final Thoughts

The Moroccan design concept is vivid and flexible and its intricate patterns and textures are simply irresistible. With its imaginative blend of Mediterranean, Arab, and African embellishing style, it is sure to bring the magic of the ‘1001 Nights’ to your home.  

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There are so many benefits to getting out in nature and enjoying the great outdoors so it makes sense that lots of people are big into hiking. If you are planning on going hiking the first thing that should come to mind is getting a good pair of hiking boots. It is of the utmost importance that you find the right boots for your feet because the wrong boots are going to cause you a great deal of unnecessary pain.

There are a handful of different variables that will factor into your decision on the perfect hiking boot for you. Everyone’s feet are different shapes, lengths, and widths, and unless you know what to look for, it can be overwhelming. Hiking can be very hard on your feet, knees, and back, so you need to do whatever you can to protect them.

For some more information on choosing the right hiking boots for you just keep reading on below.

What Style To Choose?

There are a number of different options when it comes to the style of your hiking boots. You have five basic styles with different variations.

Trail boots are best for beginning hikers who really just plan on getting out for a jaunt on a well-kept trail. Rough-trail boots are the next step up for those who like extended day hikes and a bit of rough terrain at times. Off-trail boots offer more support and protection for when there is no trail except ones made by nature. Mountaineering boots are exactly what they sound like, boots that are designed for climbing very steep and rough terrain. Technical-scrambling boots are a sort of hybrid that offer serious mobility and are lightweight while still keeping your feet fairly well supported.

As you can tell the style all depends on the type of hiking you plan on doing that day. If you are a very serious hiker you will more than likely have multiple pairs for different types of hiking adventures.

Talk To An Expert

You always have the option of going to a hiking or outdoor lifestyle store and speaking to someone who does boot fittings. If the store is serious about their hiking they will have an expert on staff that will be able to size you up and help you find the right style and fit for your individual feet. They will pay careful attention to detail and know which current boots are going to work best for your situation.

Aesthetics Do Not Matter

If you are a serious hiker you are well aware that it doesn’t matter at all what you look like on the trail, just how comfortable and prepared you are. We all like to look good in our new sports gear but it would be ill-advised to purchase any type of hiking boot just because of the way it looks. Your feet will thank you for purchasing the proper boots and not the ones that look the best.

Let’s Hit The Trail

As you can see it really isn’t that difficult to find the right pair of boots for your next weekend outing. The biggest criteria for the type of boots you buy is going to be what you plan on doing in them and how your feet are shaped. You also always have the option to talk to a professional to get advice and sized properly. When you find the right boots for you hiking is going to become less about the exercise and more about being out and enjoying what mother nature has to offer.

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Advertisement feature in association with Yelloh! Village

Planning a holiday that appeals to a whole family is tough. There’s always some chump who thinks that back to basics camping would be ‘fun’*, the younger kids want ‘things to do’, (gross), and the older ones are just annoyed that they have to been seen with you in public and are already on the verge of breakdown in case there isn’t WiFi.

And you? Probably all you want is to lie in a darkened spa with a glass of wine and the latest issue of Good Housekeeping. (Me.)

How do you choose a family holiday then that ticks everyone’s boxes and is still affordable? I think Yelloh! Village might just be the answer.

Yelloh Village yurts

Yelloh! Village got in touch recently to enlist my help to let more people know who they are and what they do, (I’d never heard of them so don’t feel bad), and after having a good look through their website and reading lots of reviews, (they have an excellent Trustpilot rating), I was sold. I definitely want to take baby Joey on a Yelloh! Village holiday next summer when he’s good and chubby and toddling about.

Yelloh! Village is part of the European ‘glamping’ scene – pre-pitched tents and holiday homes on complexes offering a whole wealth of hotel style facilities like indoor and outdoor pools, spa and wellness and loads of outdoor activities for kids and adults. There’s so much choice, you’ll be hard pressed not to find something to suit. View Post

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Some of the plants mentioned in this post were gifts from Tree2MyDoor

I bloody love houseplants. Some women have shoes, I have houseplants. I just did a little count around the house and I currently have 42, about a third of which I’ve cultivated from cuttings, which I feel rather smug about. I have everything from tiny pilea babies, newly separated from their mummy, to huge Swiss cheese plants, the largest of which is currently sat in my old cat litter tray (litter removed) until I find a pot big enough for it.

My oldest houseplant is a peace lily that I bought when Bee was small and we lived alone for the first time, making it about 23 years old now and I even got an avocado stone to sprout recently in a jar of water after about four years of trying. NEWSFLASH.

My two newest additions were gifts from a lovely company called Tree2MyDoor – a fiddle leaf fig tree and a pineapple plant. And when I say pineapple plant, I mean it has an actual pineapple growing out of the top. (Ornamental not edible.) I’ve never seen one before but it’s AMAZING. Love love love the pineapple plant.

pineapple plant

Tree2MyDoor specialises in outdoor plants really, but has expanded recently to include indoor plants too. Their thing is plants as gifts – rather than sending someone a bouquet of cut flowers for a birthday or special occasion, only to have them die in a couple of weeks, (the flowers not the friend hopefully), send a tree or a rose bush or a houseplant instead and you’re got the gift that keeps on giving AND growing. It’s such a lovely idea and way better for the planet than a huge bunch of plastic wrapped cuts flowers.

While not everyone loves houseplants quite as much as me, (I had a boyfriend once who threatened to throw them out the window if I grew any more spider babies), houseplants are more than just pretty accessories for your next Instagram shot. Houseplants have all kinds of important health benefits, meaning that really it’s your DUTY to buy a houseplant. It’s basically self-care. Best go to Tree2MyDoor right now and tell them I sent you.

In case you’re thinking ‘what is this crazy plant lady blabbering about? How on earth are houseplants good for you?’ then READ ON. View Post

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Welcome to National Curry week! That’s right, this week – October 7th – 13th – is National Curry Week and great timing too given the turn in the weather. This week is the week to get comfy on the sofa with a big bowl of homemade lamb rogan josh and some good autumn TV. (Personal current favourites being the new series of The Apprentice and the first ever series of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK.)

What’s sad though is that despite it feeling sometimes like the UK is becoming one big cafe/restaurant, British curry houses and Indian dining is in decline in the UK. A third of the UK’s estimated 17,000 curry houses could face closure over the next decade, which would be a huge shame. Partly it’s due to changing tastes and demographics, but also the misconception that Indian restaurant food is ‘unhealthy’ or that the foods associated with Indian cuisine, such as lamb curry, are eaten more by older generations.

As you know I’ve been working on a campaign this year called ‘Lamb. Try it, love it‘, encouraging people to eat more lamb, and so I wanted to use National Curry Week as an opportunity to champion the use of lamb in curries. Lamb is brilliant for curries as it carries the spicy flavours really well, but without getting lost. (If you want proof of this then try out my Thai massaman lamb curry – now one of my favourite ever curries.) I also wanted to challenge the stereotype of curry houses being a bit old-fashioned and so I went to Birmingham, possibly the most well-known destination for curry in the UK, for a meal at the multi-award winning Asha’s.

Asha’s is where the cool kids go for curry. They serve amazing food but they also appreciate that nowadays people expect more from a restaurant. (I’m looking at you Millennials.) Asha’s has created a dining experience to reflect that, blending authentic Indian cooking with more contemporary flavours and a sophisticated ambience. Asha’s even has its own cocktail menu, inspired by Indian cuisine, featuring treats such as the Maharaja’s Mistress, made with rose jam, curry leaves infused arrack, spiced rum and champagne, garnished with Turkish delight. View Post

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I was the ripe old age of 38 before I bought my first house. I’d put it off for a long time, partly because I didn’t think I could afford it, (I was right on that one for quite some time), but also through fear.

Growing up we mainly lived in rented houses, and so I’d never really had any experience of how owning a home worked. ‘Call the landlord’ was all I knew as a response to any kind of house related problem, and the focus was always on not staining the carpets or doing anything that might mean not getting your deposit back, rather than actually thinking about designing and creating a space that you wanted to live in.

House design

I would absolutely love a breakfast bar, but my kitchen is pretty small and I don’t think I’d be able to achieve it without blocking off the back door, which would leave the cats VERY confused.

When I thought of owning my own home, I just thought ‘trouble’. How would I know what to do? What if something went wrong? Could I just put a satsuma in front of any problems, like I did with that car, and hope they went away?

It turns out that owning your own home is far less scary than I thought, that you can get insurance to cover you for lots of different emergencies, and that things feel easier if you can find yourself a decent ‘no job too big or too small’ type maintenance person. (I have a lovely chap in the next street who has so far fixed my leaky roof AND put up a blind for me.)

Although I’ve been relatively lucky so far with my house, touch wood, (apart from the leaky roof), I would probably have benefited from a little more planning when it came to choosing my first home. I basically just came in and thought ‘this seems fine’ and made an offer. I didn’t know what I should be checking, I just saw that there were coloured LED lights around the bottom of the kitchen units and I got over-excited. View Post

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Back when I was 35, which feels like ages ago now to be honest, I made a list of 40 things I wanted to do before I was 40. It was a pretty eclectic list, with everything from making homemade lemon curd to visiting Auschwitz, but it was a lovely way to check in with myself and it gave me plenty of options for weekends away or stuff to do when I had time to fill and no ideas to fill it with.

One of the things on my list was inspired by something I cut out of the travel section of the paper one weekend.

Things to do in Istanbul

I loved the idea of being able to casually say ‘Oh this weekend? I just hung out in a 19th-century Ottoman mansion, then took a cruise up the Bosphorus.’ It’s so much better than ‘I went to Tesco and gave the cats their monthly flea treatment’ isn’t it?

‘Hang out in a 19th-century Ottoman mansion and take a cruise up the Bosphorus’ went on the list.

It was actually one of only a few things that I didn’t manage to complete and so I carried it over to my list of 50 things before 50 and recently I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’ve started looking at pictures of Istanbul on Pinterest and honestly, it’s even more beautiful than I realised – so much colour and amazing architecture.

I decided I’m going to make this one happen.

For my 40th birthday I went on a trip by myself to Lisbon, also something on my list, and I’ve decided that Istanbul is going to be my birthday gift to myself for my 42nd birthday, next April. If you’ve been inspired by my Pinterest board, (and how could you not be unless you have a heart of stone), then here are some things to think about. With your bum bag neatly packed with your passport, list of Instagrammable destinations and e-visa Turkey is ready and waiting for you!

The weather in Turkey

This is actually the first thing I think about when I’m planning a trip. It seems like a small thing, but you don’t want to accidentally turn up somewhere in hurricane season or when it’s too hot to leave your 19th-century Ottoman mansion do you?

I’d pictured Istanbul as being pretty warm given it’s on a similar line to Greece and Spain, and although it enjoys the typical mediterranean summers it does get cold and snowy in the winter apparently, and April can still be chilly. My birthday is at the end of April, but looking at the average temperatures, having it as a post-birthday trip at the beginning of May could make it significantly warmer.

Flights to Turkey

I tend to use Skyscanner when I’m looking for flights. I will always fly from Bristol unless I absolutely can’t, as it’s nice and easy for me to get to – flying from a London airport add an extra layer of faff and expense that I really don’t want before and after a holiday, especially a short break. Unfortunately there aren’t any direct flights from Bristol to Istanbul, but you can go direct from Birmingham, which is doable for me. Turkey is two hours ahead of the UK and the flight time is about four hours.

Istanbul has two international airports – Sabiha Gokcen International Airport on the Asian side, and a brand new airport that this year replaced Ataturk International Airport on the European side. Istanbul’s new airport is one of the biggest in the world, covering an area six times the size of Heathrow, so I couldn’t not go to that one could I?

I find flights with Turkish Airlines for three nights at the beginning of May at reasonable times of the day for £235. They give me a little bit of time on the arrival and departure days, plus two full days, which should be plenty for me as when I travel on my own I am VERY efficient. Tower seen? Check. Photo taken in colourful street? Check. I get the job done for sure.

I book the flights and start to feel butterflies in my tummy.

Istanbul Turkey

Photo by Nodis Ionut on Unsplash

The 19th-century Ottoman mansion 

I am really tempted at this point to abandon the hotel bit and go for AirBnB, as this is what I’d normally do on a city break. I’ve stayed in AirBnBs in London, Lisbon, Krakow and Geneva, as well as lots of places in the UK, and I’ve always been pleased with them. They’re normally a lot cheaper than a hotel, you can opt for a whole apartment, it feels more personal, and you can save money by self-catering.

However, it’s hard to casually say ‘oh I just stayed in a 19th-century Ottoman mansion’ if you’ve actually stayed in some random person’s modern apartment block isn’t it? It’s a dilemma.

The House Hotel seems to have opened a second hotel in Istanbul since I cut my little bit out of the paper, but it was easy to pick out which one was the original because of the beautiful parquet floors in the rooms. It’s not cheap though. Over 400 EURO for three nights. Gawd.

I look at AirBnB. I could get an entire flat in a similar location for just over £100. I flick between the two. On a short trip how much time do you really spend in your hotel room? I could go for the AirBnB and the difference would pay for my flight and more. It’s a tough one, because while I want to stay true to the 50 things before 50 list, I did write the list, and so who am I really answerable to apart from myself?

I book the AirBnB.

‘Your reservation is confirmed. You’re going to Beyoğlu!’

Cripes. Looks like I’m really going to Istanbul on my own.

Things to do in Istanbul

Photo by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash

Local laws, getting a Turkey visa and travel insurance

Travel insurance is a must obviously. The EHIC isn’t valid in Turkey, even if we weren’t potentially crashing out of the EU any day now, so make sure you have cover in place. I have travel insurance as part of my bank account, but generally it’s not expensive and is an essential. You will also need a visa to travel to Turkey, so factor the Turkey visa fee into your budgeting. Make sure to keep your passport and a printed copy of your visa with you at all times as spot checks are often carried out. It’s actually illegal not to carry some form of photo ID in Turkey and as well as needing a visa, the Turkish government recommend you have at least six months left on your passport from your date of entry into the country.

TOP TIP: The possession, sale and export of antiquities is also against the law in Turkey and could result in a substantial fine and up to 12 years in prison, so be very careful and check the legal requirements if you’re thinking about buying antiques or historical items to bring home. Probably best to just stick with a fridge magnet.

The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira. You can buy currency in advance but there are plenty of ATMs in major cities and tourist areas. Dress modestly obviously if you’re visiting a mosque or a religious shrine.

Things to do in Istanbul

My Pinterest board has dozens and dozens of ideas for things to do in Istanbul, with lots of tip too for Istanbul’s most Instagrammable locations, should you wish to use your trip as an opportunity to show off on the Gram. (Which I do.)

I’m going to do a bit more research though and put together an itinerary of the key things I want to do during my three nights in Istanbul. As well as factoring in plenty of time for general wandering about, I love the idea of doing a few more structured things, perhaps a cookery class or a food tour? I’ll have to do the ‘take a cruise down the Bosphorous’ part at least, to warrant ticking it off my list, and the Museum of Innocence is not far from my AirBnB. You know I love a weird museum.

In the meantime, while you inevitably scrabble for your passport and Turkey visa, I will leave you with this picture because it is GLORIOUS. Happy holidays!

Istanbul Turkey

Photo by Fatih Yürür on Unsplash

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Advertisement feature in association with CISI

Did you know that October 7-11th is Financial Planning Week? As part of the week, the CISI (Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment) is encouraging everyone to sign up for a FREE financial planning session.

Now before you switch off and think ‘oh that’s not for me because I don’t earn enough money’ then think again. Although typically financial planners do work with relatively wealthy clients, helping them manage their investments and savings, Financial Planning Week is for everybody. In fact, if you don’t currently have much in the way of savings or retirement plans then all the more reason to take up the offer of a free session.

I know that looking at your finances can be scary but financial planning is actually something I feel very strongly about as money has an impact on so many other areas of your life. In my twenties I spent a long time ignoring debts I had built up as a student and single parent, hoping they would go away, but you know what? They don’t. All that happens is that you get more and more stressed and worried about them. At some point you have to stare your finances right in the eye and remind them that YOU are in charge. Once you stop being afraid of money, that’s when you can start to feel more in control and make proper plans.

Feeling confident about your finances is incredibly empowering.

So how does the free financial planning session work and what can you expect?

The first step is looking at where you are right now. What plans do you already have in place? What savings or pensions, if any, do you have? This was covered in a few simple forms that I had to fill out before my session with Andrew and Sarah at Berry and Oak, so that they could have a picture of my situation before we spoke.

To be honest, even just this stage was really valuable as it forces you to take stock. I consider myself relatively well-prepared financially, but I still couldn’t tell you exactly what the terms are on my life assurance, or for how long my income protection insurance would pay out should I find myself unable to work. I wasn’t even completely on top of what my monthly income and expenditure was. Just taking an hour or so to fill out the forms gave me a much clearly idea of my current position, and made me feel much more confident, before I’d even spoken to Andrew and Sarah. I also checked my state pension online, which was much easier to do than I’d imagined and is really important as it tells you how much state pension you’re set to be entitled to.

TOP TIP from Andrew and Sarah: even if as a family you think you earn too much to be eligible for child benefit, claim it anyway and then pay it back as part of your tax return. If you’re a stay at home parent, your state pension only knows to take this into account by checking to see if you’ve been receiving child benefit, so if you stop claiming because your partner is earning too much, but you’re at home raising your family, then you could miss out.

Next you think about where you’d like to be, both in the short term and years down the line when you’re ready for retirement. It might seem like a long way away but the sooner you start thinking about it, the more you can get out of it. Because that’s the ultimate goal after all right? To be in a position to be able to spend more time doing what you love. Like taking amazing train journeys around the world. (I’ve never done this but always felt like I’d love it, especially if I had to solve a mystery on board.)

free financial planning session for financial planning week

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