Blasters at the ready, we’re Lazer M.A.D!

On a baking hot Saturday a couple of weeks ago the boys and I drove down to Greenwich to sweat a lot in a concrete basement. I sweated so much I had to change every single item of clothing I was wearing. It turns out, having fun in the heat makes you sweat and we had so much fun playing Lazer M.A.D. that I must have lost a couple of pints of fluids.

Lazer M.A.D. is a blaster game that you can play in an underground bunker in Greenwich but you can also play at home, in your garden, or in the office (if your boss is understanding). I have to admit Ned’s enthusiasm and excitement as we headed to the event was probably matched by my scepticism- “toy” versions of almost everything tend to turn out to be rubbish, from low megapixel cameras, to drones that crash or fly off and get lost, the market doesn’t have a very good track record in making stuff that is good in anything other than an advert.

I have to say though that two weeks after the event, and two weeks playing quite a bit of Lazer M.A.D. at home with the kids, I’ve been proved pleasantly wrong.

Lets start with the equipment. In each pack of Lazer M.A.D. you get two blasters, with various modular attachments that affect the range and the rate of fire. you also get a little harness and a target (much like you would if you went to an actual Lazer Tag venue). The first thing that impressed me was the durability of the blasters and the add-ons. I could see that they had a bit of heft to them and didn’t look like they would break that easily. Build quality (and general style) is fairly similar to everyone’s favourite dart propelling blaster system and that’s no bad thing in my book. Each of the add-ons snicks on positively and after a few weeks of play haven’t i) been lost or ii) become loose.

Of course, like all these devices, the Lazer M.A.D. blasters aren’t really lasers, they use an IR transmitter that is pretty powerful and pretty focused. As a chap who has been on several 9/10 year old laser tag party teams, I really couldn’t tell the difference between the Lazer M.A.D. stuff and the “professional” gear.

Given that you can use the blaster in different modes, it’s great that you have to reload it (there is a pump action slider on the top, so you too can be Linda Hamilton from Terminator 2 and do it one handed if you really want to be). The target also shows the number of lives you have left, which is handy too.

Although there are no real set rules, since you can set the blasters and targets to “friend” or “foe”, it’s possible to play team games and also, if you set everyone to the A team on the blaster but the B team on the target, you can also play last man standing, or Fortnite in real life as the kids termed it.

Even with the two player advanced battle ops set we played with (and bought home with us), which retails for £59.99, you can have a lot of fun, although if you’ve got a few friends with a set, the fun exponentially increases. The price isn’t prohibitive either if you do want to add more sets to your collection and join in with your kids.

Ned, our six year old, loved Lazer M.A.D. more than I can really articulate. It took him most of the drive home to calm down, and the next hour or so getting excited about playing on his very own set. I was surprised and impressed too. Have I mentioned how hot and sweaty I got playing Lazer M.A.D? Yes? Well that’s probably testament to how much fun we had playing!

From Parent to Grandparent, Making the All-Important Transition

Being a parent and being a grandparent are two very different jobs, meaning the transition to the latter is not as easy as it might seem. However, it is not a hard transition to make, either. What it is, is important. Transitioning from parent to grandparent, for the sake of everybody involved, is an essential thing to do, and you need to get it right.

To find out how to make the all-important transition from parent to grandparent when the grandkids arrive, be sure to heed the points below.

Think twice before giving advice

As a new grandparent, as you see your son or daughter circumvent the early stages of having a child, it’s easy to want to shower them with parenting advice. You’ve been there, you’ve done it, and there’s no denying that you know what you’re talking about. Advice when it comes to parenting, however, is not always welcome. Even from their own parents, new mothers and fathers do not always feel the need for advice, and they certainly don’t like it to be given unceremoniously.

Think twice before you feel the urge to give advice, and unless your child comes to you for it regarding how to raise their own, try to keep a distance. It doesn’t mean that you should refrain from helping them, it means that you should refrain from telling them what to do based on assumptions that you make about their parenting skills.

Follow the rules set by your children

You may have been the one to set rules for your children in the past, but now they have children of their own, it’s up to them to set them. It’s up to them to set any rules they see fit regarding the upbringing of their children, and it’s up to you to follow those rules. Not doing so is a pitfall of grandparenthood that you don’t want to fall down.

If this means not allowing your grandchild a certain treat, then refrain from treating them in this way, or if this means not disciplining them in a certain way, even if you think it is the right way, then simply don’t do it. Your children are in charge of the way they bring up their children, and all, including you, should follow the rules they set to do so.

Put old on hold to do things with your grandchild

Your children will need a break from their kids at some point, and that’s when you should step in. You should offer to look after your grandchild whenever you are called upon, and you should make the most out of every chance you get to spend with them when you are. If this means joining the amazing over 50s putting old on hold to do things you were doing 20+ years ago in order to ensure you and your grandchild have as much fun as possible, then do it! You will not get the time you spend with your young grandchildren back, and, therefore, should squeeze as much out of the time you spend together as you can.

As important as it is to take a back seat and to allow your children the space they need to raise their children their way, you still always need to be there for them. Mastering the art of knowing when to help, and when not to help, is the key to making that all-important transition from parent to grandparent in the right way.

3 Reasons to Try A New Sport Today

Life can get pretty repetitive especially when you’re juggling making time for yourself with also being a parent. To keep your sanity, it’s likely that you have a set routine that you and your family follow on a daily basis, the danger of this though is that things can get boring quite quickly! In order to keep things interesting, it’s important that you consider trying something new every now and again. If you are one of those people stuck in your comfort zone, or feel you are too busy to add anything new to your schedule, it is definitely worth a try! Something you should consider is fitness activities as you’ll be able to both keep fit as well as do something social. In case you’re not convinced about why you should try something new, you’re going to find three reasons why you should give it a go in the following article.

Enables You to Keep Fit

Fitness is something that will likely never get outdated as it is central to healthy living. In light of this, trying a new sport is an excellent way for you to keep fit and make healthy living an easy lifestyle choice. To refresh your memory, some benefits of exercise include reducing your risk of major illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease as well as helping boost your self-esteem. It is also advised that you try and do at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week through various activities of your choice.

It’s a Chance to Meet New People

Another reason that you should consider trying a new sport is that it’s an opportunity for you to meet new people. There are many benefits to meeting people that you don’t usually see every day, such as learning new things, gaining new experiences and learning about different cultures. By joining various sporting activities on for instance, you’ll get a chance to try different fitness activities with people who share similar interests to you.

It’s a Chance for Family Bonding

Aside from the many benefits of trying a new sport on your own, trying a new one as a family can also provide an opportunity for you to bond more as a family. Seeing as fitness is so important to general wellbeing, learning a new sport with your loved ones is also an opportunity to make fitness a family affair and a regular bonding activity in your household.
Doing it this way helps encourage fitness as it makes it into a lifestyle choice for all the family rather than just a one-off occasional activity. Some sports to consider playing with family are ultimate frisbee, ice skating, table tennis, horse riding, kayaking, and going to trampoline parks. There are many others as well suitable for anyone to partake in, so it’s up to you as a family to debate and decide!

To recap: you have nothing to lose when trying a new sport as there are endless benefits that come with it. Aside from the many mentioned above, it’s also an opportunity to gain a new experience and, in some instances, perhaps find a new hobby you enjoy. Hopefully, after reading this, you’ll be motivated to try a new sport sooner than later.

A Mini House Buying Guide

There’s more to buying a house than sending over the deposit and receiving the keys. There are many hurdles and processes you will need to undertake and bills you will need to pay. Deciding what you need, packing your possessions and trying to juggle every can lead to many stresses. However, if you’re wondering how to buy a house without much stress, read the following advice for buying a house.

A Mortgage Arrange Fee

In addition to paying a deposit, you should expect to pay your lender an arrangement fee, which is typically £1,000. Unfortunately, this fee can be non-refundable if the purchase of the property falls through.

A Valuation Fee

Lenders will also charge a valuation fee to identify if your property exists and is secure for the loan. While lending costs will vary, you should expect to pay approximately £300.

The Cost of Legal Fees

Every budding homeowner will need to pay legal fees when buying a property, which often ranges between £850 to £1,500, including VAT of 20%. You will also need to pay between £250 to £300 for a solicitor or conveyancer to perform local searches, which will identify if there are any local plans or issues.

Paying Stamp Duty

If you purchase a property for more than £125,000, you will need to pay stamp duty land tax on top of the purchase price. The only way you will not need to do so is if you’re a first-time buyer and the property is lower than £300,000.

Property Survey

Once an offer has been accepted for the property, you will need to have a property survey completed before you exchange contracts. The average price of a survey costs between £400 to £700, and homeowners will need to pay for additional surveys if the property falls through. It might, therefore, be wise to budget for two or three to ensure you are financially stable when buying a property.

A Smooth Removal Process

On top of arranging the mortgage, you will have the stress of packing boxes, cleaning the property, and moving into your new home. You will want to enjoy a smooth, hassle-free experience. For example, you can hire respected removal services for a smooth house move, declutter your belongings prior to eliminate stress, and can colour-code boxes for a fast and efficient transition.

A Fund for Essential Household Repairs

Unfortunately, your dream property might not appear so perfect once you officially move in. You could experience plumbing, electrical, or cosmetic problems you will want to resolve immediately. You should set some money aside to pay for any potential DIY work, so you will not need to dip into your savings or go into debt to make the necessary repairs.

Furniture and Decorative Accessories

Of course, you will want to put your own stamp on your new home once you arrive. You must have money in the bank to pay for essential furniture, such as a sofa, bed, and dining table and chairs. You may also want to pay for carpets, hardwood flooring, lawnmowers, linens, decorative items, plus so much more. Doing so will make feel right at home in your new address once you’ve moved into the new address.

Running just as fast as we can, Owning my Fears with AXA PPP healthcare

Last Sunday was the St Albans Half Marathon. I didn’t run the half marathon. I didn’t run in the 10K either but I did run with my kids in the 1.5 mile fun run, and that ladies and gentlemen is entirely down to AXA PPP healthcare helping me in owning my fear of decrepitude and channelling it into something positive!

Vangelis is blaring out; I’m running in slow motion, aiming for the 4(+6) minute mile and frankly I might as well be Roger Bannister. All five of us ran the fun run but the two older kids went off at blistering pace, and wifey followed to make sure they didn’t get lost in the throng at the end. That left we running with Ned, who is six. Ned is a natural at pretty much everything but his one weakness with running is not pacing himself. Fortunately, running with me he had no choice but to run a bit slower. Even so, we passed a lot of parents, kids, teenagers and sole runners, which was heartening.

I had a plan though, and it wasn’t entirely down to my fitness or Neds aged either. As we came into the home straight, with crowds down both sides of the course, I turned to Ned and said, “Do you think you can sprint as fast as you can to the finish?” and of course he could. He might as well be modelled on Dash from the Incredibles because when he started really running, I had to put everything into it to keep up with him. We must have overtaken 40 or 50 people on that stretch, me crying “Run Forrest Run!”, Ned weaving in and out of people and as we approached the finish line, being cheered on by the crowd, we held hands and crossed the line together!

I’ll tell you this, it might have been hard work getting even this far, but it felt damn satisfying to cross the finish line of a 14 minute run at full pelt, holding my six year olds hand.

My fear of dying prematurely and leaving my wife and kids on their own was crushing and it was holding me back in so many ways but I’ve owned it. Now you can too, you can submit your fears here on the AXA Own Your Fears website and start your journey too. Did you know that 60% fear dying early and leaving their children? I wasn’t alone and the chances are you aren’t either.

Just remember, pretending that everything is all right doesn’t make it so, and that anxiety will be sitting there at the back of your mind nagging away at you.

Aside from the culmination of the the fun run, this past month has seen me double down and concentrate on not stuffing up. For me apathy to change and general can’t be bothered-ness has always been a problem but having a target to aim for has helped tremendously.

Talking to Becky, my support from AXA PPP healthcare has given me some great tips for keeping going, focusing on the lifestyle I want to achieve, rather than just specific targets, like losing X kilos, or being able to run 10K. I’m never going to be the sort of bloke who appears in a shaving advert but I could easily be one of the people to appear in a popular lifestyle product advert if I put a bit more work in and that’s what its about in a daft way. It’s much easier to buy into a lifestyle than a set of dry specific targets and that piece of advice has really helped me a lot.


How to Support a Loved One with a Mobility Issue

Mobility issues cannot only slow people down, but they can cause pain or flexibility problems that could impact both their quality of life and independence.

If your loved one is living with a mobility problem, such as arthritis or a neuromuscular disorder, there are a variety of ways you can improve their daily lives. Find out how you can support a loved one with a mobility issue.

Grooming Assistance

People living with limited mobility might struggle with grooming tasks, such as bathing, shaving, or even combing their hair. You could, therefore, help them in and out of the bath or to get dressed. While it might not be an easy task for both of you, it could help a loved one to remain within their home.

At-Home Care

Moving a loved one into a nursing home might fill both you and your loved one with fear, especially if they are experiencing increased mobility issues. Rather than moving them out of their home, you could hire an at-home caregiver to help them manage everyday tasks they can no longer manage themselves. It can, therefore, provide them with the assistance they need whilst retaining their independence.

Personal Care Alarms

Mobility issues could increase a loved one’s risk of tripping, slipping, or experiencing an accident within the home. If your relative lives alone, there is a potential they could spend hours on the floor until someone arrives to help. However, a personal care alarm could provide both them and the family with peace of mind that they will receive immediate assistance in an emergency. You can find a five-star personal alarm service from Helpline that can provide the ideal solution.

Delicious & Nutritious Meals

Limited mobility could make it difficult for a person to cater to their nutritional requirements. As a result, they might eat the wrong foods, which can impact their health even further. To ensure your loved one is both healthy and strong, provide them with well-balanced meals, which should include a mix of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, pulses, whole grains, and low carb foods. For example, you could pick up their groceries and batch cook healthy, nutritious dishes they could simply pop into the microwave.

Socialise Regularly

Those living with a mobility impairment might struggle to leave home often, which can make socialising a struggle. Unfortunately, this could lead to anxiety or depression. To care for their emotional health, you must provide your loved one with regular social interaction and conversation. Face-to-face interactions will help to banish loneliness and can lift their spirits.

A Safe Environment

A slip or a fall within the home could potentially cause a greater injury for your loved one. Care for their health and well-being by helping to provide them with a safe environment. For example, you must ensure each room is free from clutter, which could become a trip hazard. You could also introduce mobility aids to help them move across the home with ease, such as grab rails, stairlifts, and rise recliner armchairs.

6 Ways to Kick Bad Habits

Bad habits cannot only affect your mental and physical health, but they can also waste your time, money and energy. Although it’s common knowledge to let go of bad habits, it’s easier said than done. Even the most strong-willed of us can fail. However, if you want to finally break free from your unhealthy behaviour, here are six ways to kick bad habits.


  • Find a Healthier Substitute


Giving up a bad habit might seem easier said than done, but it doesn’t need to be. You simply need to find a healthier substitute that’ll improve your lifestyle. For example, if you want to say goodbye to traditional cigarettes, you should buy a vaping kit from Redjuice, as it will not feature any harmful cigarette smoke that negatively impacts your health. You could also choose healthier food alternatives, for instance, Greek yoghurt instead of the low-fat options that are usually laced with a high-sugar content.


  • Cut Out Triggers


Different situations can cause people to embrace their bad habits. For example, you might be tempted to put your hand into the biscuit tin if they are in your home. If so, you should throw them away. By identifying your triggers, you will be able to avoid them to improve your lifestyle. Give yourself the best chance possible by cleaning our your kitchen and not allowing friends or family to leave sweet treats around the house. Additionally, if you’re quitting smoking, don’t allow them to smoke inside your home or even around the perimeter.


  • Realise You Don’t Need to Become Someone Else


Many people believe they need to almost become someone else to break their bad habits, but that’s not the case. If you want to improve your lifestyle, you must realise you are not your bad habits. No-one needs to become a healthy person, they simply need to return to being a healthy person, as you more than likely haven’t had the habit all your life. Remember, you’ve lived without your vice before, so you can definitely do it again.


  • Avoid Negative Self-Talk


It can be easy to convince yourself you can’t do something, and it can be much harder to believe you actually can change your life. Whenever pessimistic thoughts strike, you must finish your sentence with “but…” For example, you could say “I’m unfit and overweight, but I could get in shape and enjoy a healthier body within a few months.”


  • Don’t Be Afraid of Failure


Everyone makes mistakes. It is what makes us human. Yet many people view a setback as a lack of willpower. As a result, they might be tempted to give into temptation, as they believe they don’t have the capability to follow up on their goals. It is therefore important to remember that failure can happen from time to time. There might be days when you indulge a little too much, skip a workout, or take a puff of a cigarette, but don’t let the mistake hold you back. Just accept it was a blip and get back on track as soon as possible.


  • Visualise Your Healthier Lifestyle


Every time you’re tempted to buy fat-filled snacks, indulge in too much alcohol or skip a workout, visualise yourself living a healthier lifestyle. Imagine looking and feeling healthier, happier, or leaner, or envisage throwing away a pack of cigarettes or buying healthier food. Usually, once you’ve worked out or said no to an unneeded cupcake, you feel fantastic, so try to remember this feeling. It will help you to realise that your dream can become a reality, so you’ll be less likely to embrace your bad habit.

3 Ways to Take Care of Your Little Ones

Raising children can be an indescribable feeling. Every day is different, and you’re likely to learn a lot about yourself while experiencing the joys of watching your little ones blossom. One of your deepest desires as a parent is likely to ensure your little ones are well taken care of. Seeing as parenthood doesn’t exactly come with a manual, this means sometimes figuring it out along the way and using your intuition and parental instincts. There are, however, key things you can do to ensure that they’re mentally, emotionally, and physically okay. You’re going to find three that you may find useful in the following article.

Attend Regular Drs. Appointments

This may seem obvious, but ensuring your kids attend regular doctor’s appointments is one way of taking care of them. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook these appointments, especially if you have a seemingly perfectly healthy child. It is, however, recommended that you visit the doctor at least once a year just for a general checkup if you have a school-aged child especially as sometimes, there may be health issues that go unnoticed. You should also note that sometimes doctors make mistakes and miss important signs as well as make existing conditions worse. If this happens to you, it’s key that you know that you can sue the NHS negligence and receive some compensation if they’re found to be in the wrong.

Communicate with Them Regularly

Keeping a consistent flow of communication is essential, especially when you have young children. Every child has unique needs, so while some happen to be extroverted and vocal, others may need a little more support and encouragement when it comes to expressing themselves. Tips for communicating with your little ones include asking them about their day, actively listening to what they have to say, creating environments which encourage conversation and encouraging them to share their feelings. It is also critical that you discuss difficult topics with them such as inappropriate touching, sex, abuse, and bullying. Tips for doing this is knowing the right time to go about it, ensuring others aren’t around, and asking as well as listening to questions they may have. Doing so could help keep them out of harm’s way and give them the courage to freely tell you if something is wrong.

Encourage Healthy Living

It is never too early to start educating your kids regarding healthy living. Whether they’re one or seven, you can begin teaching them healthy habits early. It could mean teaching them the importance of a healthy diet by ensuring they eat healthy foods such as rice, potatoes, meat, fish, yogurt, or fruit. In addition to a healthy diet, making sure they keep active and their mental wellbeing is also improving are also ways of looking after them and raising healthy kids.

Taking care of kids takes daily effort and dedication. However, many parents boast of it being one of the best jobs they’ve ever had. By following some of the tips above as well as using your instincts as a parent, you should raise well-balanced and happy kids.

Understanding the Glasgow Coma Scale and what it means for brain injury recovery

The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is the most commonly used system for scoring the level of consciousness in a person following a serious brain injury. Tests using the GCS are favoured because they are simple, reliable and have been shown to provide a good early indication of how serious an injury is in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic incident.

What does the Glasgow Coma Scale measure?

The GCS measures 3 key functions associated with healthy brain activity. These are:

  • Eye Opening (E)
  • Verbal Response (V)
  • Motor Response (M)

Each function is measured on a different scale corresponding to the level of response the person with the brain injury is capable of giving. If a particular function cannot be tested for any reason, it will be recorded as Not Testable (NT).

Eye Opening is measured on a scale of 1-4 with the levels being:

4 – Spontaneous

3 – To sound

2 – To pressure

1 – None

Verbal Response is measured on a scale of 1-5 with the levels being:

5 – Orientated

4 – Confused

3 – Words, but not coherent

2 – Sounds, but no words

1 – None

Motor Response is measured on a scale of 1-6 with the levels being:

6 – Obeys command

5 – Localizing

4 – Normal flexion

3 – Abnormal flexion

2 – Extension

1 – None

How the Glasgow Coma Scale is used

The scale is incredibly important for quickly assessing the severity of a brain injury and ensuring the patient has appropriate treatment in a timely fashion.

An individual tested with the GCS will be given a combined score from 3-15 that will also normally be broken down into the individual scores e.g. GCS 10 – E3V3M4.

A patient with a GCS score of 13-15 will normally be considered to have suffered a mild brain injury, a score of 9-12 usually corresponds to a moderate brain injury and 8 or less to a severe brain injury.

It is important to bear in mind, however, that this score is only a guideline, so even people with minor head injuries will need to be examined by a doctor as soon as possible after the injury occurs.

Why the Glasgow Coma Scale matters for brain injuries

With a serious brain injury, getting the right treatment as soon as possible after the injury occurs is normally essential to minimise the long-term consequences for the patient. The sooner treatment takes places, the less secondary damage is likely to occur e.g. from build up of fluid on the brain, leading to a better chance of the patient making a full recovery.

Because the Glasgow Coma Scale allows patients who need immediate emergency treatment to be identified quickly, it can therefore have a strong positive effect on the outcome for them and their prospects for recovery.

Getting your loved one the support they need for a brain injury

If a loved one is in a coma as a result of a brain injury, they face a potentially long and difficult road to recovery. While much of the support they need is likely to be available through the NHS, some treatment, on-going care and specialist equipment may need to be funded privately.

IBB Claims specialise in brain injury compensation claims, allowing you to pursue a settlement on behalf of a loved one in a coma so the funds they need will be in place when they need them. This can help to ensure they have everything they need to make the best possible recovery and quality of life.

Chaps, did you realise you can get thrush too?

I like to think I’m a fairly typical bloke in many ways when it comes to health- I was three years late to having my 40+ medical check up for example- and I’m always happy to soldier on with a cold without making a martyr of myself but when Canesten® made me aware of their Talk Health campaign and that men could get thrush, and male thrush was actually a thing, I was a bit taken aback to be honest. So taken aback, I was actually motivated to find out more.

Thrush is a common yeast infection, experienced by both men and women, caused by an overgrowth of a yeast-
like fungus, Candida albicans. This fungus is naturally found on the skin of healthy people, however, when the natural balance of the skin flora is disturbed, the fungus can multiply excessively triggering the typical signs of the infection.

In men, thrush usually affects the head of the penis, with symptoms being similar to those of vaginal thrush:

  • First, the affected skin reddens. The inside of the foreskin can also swell
  • After a few days, itching can begin, often accompanied by a burning sensation which becomes stronger when passing urine or during sexual intercourse
  • Sometimes, a white discharge which looks like cottage cheese can be observed under the foreskin. There may also be an unpleasant smell in some cases
  • Difficulty in pulling back the foreskin is another frequent symptom

So yes gents, it basically hits you where it hurts and where you’d least like to get something like that and have to show a doctor. In fact since reading that men could get thrush, I went on to read up on thrush and found that if left untreated, in some instances it can prove fatal. Eeek! Fortunately it’s about as easy to treat as athlete’s foot and the biggest issue facing us chaps with thrush is an actual awareness that we can get it in the first place.

Canesten® itself is something I am aware of, it’s a popular treatment for thrush, I actually used it on the back on my leg to treat a fungal infection many many years ago (at the recommendation of my GP I hasten to add) but it’s one of those creams that’s found in the “scary aisle” at Boots, along with other stuff that no self respecting bury his head in the sand at all things medical chap would ever look at.

In fact it’s this general lack of awareness centred around male thrush has prompted Canesten, the top brand in women’s intimate health, to launch a ‘Let’s Talk Health’ campaign. This campaign focuses on improving conversation around the topic of thrush, and how it is important for everyone to understand common health conditions.

As I’ve already alluded to, us chaps are quite good at not talking about medical stuff in the first place, in the good old fashioned hope that it will simply “go away”, so it’s hats off to Canesten® for starting the conversation!

This post has been supported by Canesten®, but all thoughts are my own.