childcare.co.uk, granting parents a little window of freedom for ten years

We have three kids, ranging in age from 7 to 12 and it’s logistically been a nightmare over the years. A one point we did the maths and realised that it would take a gross salary of around £50,000 to deal with all the childcare costs every year (holidays, after school clubs and actual childminding for our littlest). Obviously that was a bit bonkers so my wife made the only sensible decision and restrained as a childminder herself. During her one OFSTED inspection she gained an outstanding rating, and was herself registered on the childcare.co.uk website.

because life is just as ironic as Alanis Morrisette would have you believe, we’ve actually been using childcare.co.uk from the other side recently. Due to a perfect storm of our regular babysitters going to Denmark and Australia for a year each, we’ve been a bit stuck locally. Although we love our children dearly, to be honest we can’t wait for the odd night out without the little darlings to come round as it can all get a bit tiring at times. I’m half convinced that they have worked out a complex routine for pestering us- some sort of rota or shared Google Calendar- because as soon as one has presented themselves to us at 10pm saying they’re too hot, another one is complaining of the cold, and the final one makes an appearance ten minutes later with a tummy ache.

As I’ve said, childcare.co.uk is great for finding well qualified childminders but it is also great for finding babysitters too. The filters are great, meaning you can find sitters who have been DBS checked, or sitters with SEN experience, paediatric first aid qualifications and pretty much anything else you could possibly either want or think of.

Where childcare.co.uk excels is the extra mile it goes in terms of safety. A babysitter I was looking at had a nice tick next to DBS check but also a red triangle that said whilst the sitter had stated she had been DBS checked, she hadn’t as yet uploaded her form, so be sure to ask her. It’s little things like this that make it easier to trust your kids to a stranger.

It took a matter of minutes to compile a list of half a dozen babysitters within a mile of our house who all seemed to fit the particular criteria that we were looking for. If only this sort of service had been available to my parents when I was younger, I wouldn’t have had to put up with Penny from next door babysitting and could have watched my taped off BBC2 collection of Hammer Horror movies without having to hover my finger permanently over the change channel button.

More useful still is a category I hope we never have to use and that’s the emergency babysitter one. There have been a couple of occasions where we’ve had trips to A&E with one child (nothing too serious!) and in an ideal world we’d both liked to have gone but since our parents aren’t that local, it hasn’t been feasible. This is where an emergency babysitter would have been a godsend.

It’s things like that, coupled with the review system (and a really high Trustpilot score) that make childcare.co.uk a great resource for parents!

ClassDojo, helping schooling into the 21st century

One of the most frustrating things about communicating with our kids school is the haphazard way they use email. More often than not, we get email that simply says please see the attached letter (which is in PDF format). PDFs are not the best for reading on a mobile phone and invariably these always end up being sent at the wrong time of day for either of us to be anywhere near a computer. Talking to friends, we are far and away not alone in this, so I’m not singling out our kids school- honest!

It is also difficult to contact the teachers directly with any particular issue either- through no fault of theirs I should stress- as every morning there is a queue to see form teachers and they’re often busy after school and home by the time either of us finishes work.

it’s funny that in the work place we adopt lots of collaborative systems like Slack or Microsoft Teams to make our communication and workflow better but in other areas of life still have to rely on an email with a PDF attachment, or even in the case of the doctors, a letter that’s dictated and sent overseas for transcription.

Fortunately if you have a school that’s either onboard with the 21st century or open to suggestion, it doesn’t have to be this way because clever people out there have noticed that downloading and squinting at PDFs or leaving work early to have a five minute chat with a teacher isn’t really the most sensible thing to do and you know what? They’re right.

Enter ClassDojo, already used by a good 40% of primary school teachers in around 85% of primary schools, if your school hasn’t jumped on board, it’s time to ask them if they intend to. If it turns out your school actually does use ClassDojo and you just didn’t realise it, there are plenty of benefits to using it.

ClassDojo connects teachers with families so they can become a “teaching team.” Teachers can instantly share pictures, videos and messages with families about what’s happening throughout the school day.If, like me, you’re greeted with a “Not anything” when you ask how the day has gone or seem to spend half of your ten minutes at parents evening asking what you can specifically do to support your kid at home, this sounds like a godsend. I can still remember the day I asked our lad what happened at school (he was in reception at the time) and he said “nuffin” but the following week we saw a photo of him on the school website sitting in a big yellow digger.

ClassDojo is also an app that your kids can use, which helps to get them involved and develop both responsibility and accountability.

Kids can even use it to update you as parents to what they’re up to in the classroom. I know for a fact all our kids are brimming with pride when it comes to parent evening, how much more exciting would it be to let them share via ClassDojo as and when they do something cool, obviously once agreed by the teacher!

ClassDojo is available in primary schools so what are you waiting for? Check it out and if you like what you see, be sure to mention it to your school!

This post is advertorial content for ClassDojo

What To Do If You’re Injured On Holiday

Being on holiday is supposed to be a time when you’re relaxed and enjoying your time off. Unfortunately, accidents do happen and it’s possible you could become the next victim of a personal injury incident.

Know what steps you should take if you’re injured on holiday so that you don’t have any regrets later on. Most importantly, take care of yourself and your wellbeing so that you can try to recover as quickly as possible. The better you handle the situation up front, the easier it’s going to be to get the proper help and assistance after the fact. If nothing else, remain calm and surround yourself with people who love and care about you during this difficult time.

Report the Incident

If you’re injured on holiday, your first step should be to report the incident to either the hotel or location where it occurred and to authorities. It doesn’t matter where it happened; you need to notify someone who’s in charge right away of your incident. Many companies will also have their own protocol for handling these situations, so you may need to stick around and get all the details sorted out.

Collect Evidence

You should also take time to document the scene and collect any necessary information for proving your side of the story. For example, take pictures of the scene and of your injuries, get contact details from eyewitnesses and write down specifics of what occurred. Otherwise, you may forget about these critical details later on once your memory begins to fade. You’ll want to collect this evidence so you can clearly relay all the facts to others in the future.

Take Care of Your Injuries

In addition, if you’re injured on holiday, then you should take the time to visit a doctor. Get a medical professional’s opinion on your physical and mental condition, so you have this information written down. Seek medical care even for minor injuries because you never know how much it’s going to cost you to get treated or if your condition may worsen over time. It’s a good idea to rest and make plans to return home if you’re hurt and need time to sleep and recover.

Contact A Lawyer

If you’re injured on holiday, then be sure you also contact a lawyer as quickly as possible. For example, the specialists at The Compensation Experts will be able to evaluate your situation and tell you if they think you have a personal injury case that should be pursued. You certainly don’t want the guilty party to walk away from the event without being held accountable for their reckless behaviour. This is a timely manner so make sure you seek advice and next steps right away and don’t put it off for the future.

Conclusion

You should now feel more prepared about what to do if you’re ever injured on holiday. While it isn’t the most pleasant experience to have to go through, there are steps you can follow to help ease the pain and your frustration. Use this advice as guidance so you can make sure your circumstances are properly managed.

How to make moving house easy for kids

Moving house can be just as stressful children as it is for the adults. Children have such vivid memories of growing up in a particular home that switching things up can be quite an emotional experience for them. Luckily, the experience of moving your life can be transformed into something positive with just a few sentimental and pragmatic gestures.

Get them to help out

While this might seem an obvious step in the sense that you might very need them to help out, encouraging them to join in makes the whole process less daunting. Showing them how to pack up toys and clothes helps to distract them from the bigger picture of moving into an unfamiliar house. It also teaches them that this is more of a practical venture than one of moving away from old memories. It’s also said that letting them do fun things such as wrapping items in bubble wrap will make the whole process less stressful.

Keep meaningful objects

Getting children to make a box or travel bag full of important objects keeps an aspect of familiarity with them. Helping them pack some objects that remind them of the current house and toys they use every day will help avoid the feeling that everything they know is now in a completely different house. Some people recommend turning it into a treasure box to add an element of fun to it.

Encourage them to imagine their new room

This step also encourages you to do some creative planning, too. There are going to be some more significant, more financial, legal steps to moving that will leave you feeling preoccupied. If you’re still hunting for solicitors in Bristol, for instance, then taking a few moments out of each day to plan the kids’ new bedrooms will give both you and them something to look forward to. It also reminds you to start thinking about the design of the rest of the home. Planning the layout of each room helps with the organisation of what to pack first and which objects belong in which removal truck. The promise of painting a bedroom a favourite colour or decorating with a theme will get kids excited about their new home.

Make saying goodbye positive

Moving out of a home with plenty of memories can be hard for anyone at any age. Teaching your kids to say goodbye in a way that’s fun not only makes the move easier on them but also easy on you. Talking to your kids about all the things you can do in your new house will get them looking forward to your big move, and what lies ahead. In the meantime, the promise of a takeaway might provide some short-term excitement in your new house.

Whether you use the reward of pizza in the new house or a brand new bedroom to get your kids enjoying the moving process, it’s vital that they become a part of it. Teaching them the fun in packing and bundling up old possessions not only teaches them to see the lighter side of things but also reminds you to relax during the process. A new life and a new home is an incredibly exciting process, so why not enjoy it as much as you can?

Rudimental (DJ Set) to headline 21st edition of Nozstock The Hidden Valley

Nozstock The Hidden Valley is back for its 21st season this summer. Following on from last year’s spectacular sell-out 20th anniversary, the independent festival now reveals its main wave of artists.


Joining Nozstock so far are Rudimental (DJ set), Soul II Soul, The Skatalites, David Rodigan, Hollie Cook, Elvana: Elvis fronted Nirvana, Oh My God! It’s The Church, Henge, Jam Baxter, DJ Zinc + SP:MC, Turno, Notion, A Skills, Randall, Hospitality Takeover and loads more!

Last years Nozstock was pretty special, I absolutely LOVED Grandmaster Flash and a load of the other acts but Rudimental is a particular favourite in our household so it’s bound to be really exciting.

Nozstock is one of the UK’s longest running festivals. Set on a beautiful working farm, it is family-run, home-made and proudly independent. It’s a gloriously eccentric and decadently off-kilter brain-shift with incredible detail at every turn. A small festival with a big heart which continues to chart its own path, far away from commercialism and following the flock. Nozstock transcends the classic festival experience, creating its own sense of community and escapism for a few precious days. The Nosworthy family curate one of the UK’s finest portfolios of music and arts, with a huge focus on keeping families entertained in the Little Wonderland Kids’ Area.

Payment by instalments available, and you can find all the details below. I recommend watching some of the videos to get a good idea of how cool it all is!

www.nozstock.com / @Nozstock  / facebook.com/nozstockthehiddenvalley
youtube.com/nozstockfestival   /   instagram.com/nozstock

The internet content filtering dilema

Don’t try anything on my WiFi network

I think the general consensus among parents I talk to is that their kids should be spoken to and rationally convinced that they shouldn’t look at naughty stuff on the internet. It’s the modern, involved, right on option to take. The problem is, any kid is only a couple of clicks away hot anal action or instructions on how to make homemade explosives either by accident or intent. And lets face it, we don’t want our kids either looking at that sort of stuff or conflating the two to come up with hot anal explosions do we?

There are a couple of options available to parents: all internet access is done in the communal living space and fully supervised. Who’s got time for that? Or you can use some sort of filter. Some routers now have basic filtering settings to weed out problem sites. There are also subscription services like Disney’s Circle that do device by device filtering. I’ve tried a few of these and they’re…. okay. If you’re a bit more technically minded you can even switch your DNS servers to OpenDNS and put site/category specific filters in, though this isn’t for the faint hearted.

The best solution I came up with in the end was a new Synology router, the RT2600AC Wi-Fi AC 2600.

Synology made their name in network storage but their router carries the user friendly interface across and it comes with some great apps, including the rather useful Safe Access. This allows you to assign devices to individuals, give the individual time limits, a curfew and filter the content to remove anything you don’t want them to see. The best part is you can customise the block screen that comes up when someone searches for something they shouldn’t…

Five Ways to Update Your Look This Winter


For many, winter fashion is a big coat and whatever sweater is warmest in your closet. Parents especially don’t often get a chance to go out and invest time to finding the perfect new winter closet that helps them stay stylish, not to mention the fact that when you need to tackle both raising kids and work there is very little inclination to wear anything but your warmest, comfiest outfit.

It is time to change that.


You can easily be comfortable and enjoy a versatile closet throughout winter that will help you look timeless and effortlessly cool. All you need to do is follow these tips to make the magic happen:

Update the Fabric

Polyester, acrylic, and other cheap fabrics need to go. They can look cheap, they don’t stay in shape well after a few washes, and in the case with polyester or other plastic based fibres they ruin the environment. Tiny microfibres of plastic get washed down the drain and filtered right back into our water systems. We need to start choosing natural and innovative materials for both a better wardrobe and better environment.

The Power of Stylish Layers

The only viable way to stay warm and stylish in winter is to use the power of layers. An undershirt, under a dress shirt under a sweater under a blazer under a coat, will keep you warm. It will also add dimension and interest to your outfit, not to mention give you the ability to masterfully adjust your internal temperature throughout the day.

Get the Ultimate Winter Coat

Get the ultimate winter coat, and you will look incredible and finally stay warm for once. This means more than just thick materials. You need to choose a coat based on fabric type and construction. A wool coat can keep you warm, but if it is unstructured, it can feel just as cold as if you were wearing a springtime windbreaker. To ensure this quality of construction, you should turn towards online luxury retailers. There are many luxury companies out there that are well-priced, while still offering fabrics like Italian wool and UK-based production, such as the website www.gloverall.com.

Upgrade Your Shoes

If your shoes do not have a large enough wedge they need to be well made and waterproof. Otherwise your feet will get wet, which nobody wants.

Get Matching Stylish Winter Gear

Your hands, head, and neck need to be covered. If they aren’t you will feel the cold more acutely no matter how many layers you are wearing. Invest in a good scarf, hat, and gloves to stay stylish and keep that pesky cold away. If you want to minimise the bulk of your winter wardrobe, then try to choose thin, compact materials like cashmere. A cashmere scarf can be very thin and still provide plenty of warmth, for example.

The quality of the items you wear is critical. Better quality fabrics and designs can help you stay warm and look undeniably stylish with very little effort, so start investing in your wardrobe today.

Tinkering with the sublime

Before MTV even considered Pimp My Ride there was an obvious market for after market modifications to cars, be it the silly spoilers lads put on the back of their XR2is or right at the other end, RUF building you a custom car that looks like a Porsche 911 on steroids. I mean, have you seen the insane Nurbergring Yellowbird video?

Anyway, I digress. I’ve always said that my first port of call on a lottery win would be a sports car to tide the gap until I could get something a bit more unique. The way car financing works today, anything right up until to get to McLarens aren’t particularly exotic on the road any more. I drive around our middle of the road surban estate (not one of the more expensive areas in St Albans I hasten to add) and I see various high end Jags, an Audi R8, a Ferrari and several different Porsche 911s (a Turbo, a Carrera 4 GTS, and a plain old Carrera amongst others). Someone over the other side of town has a Lamborghini Huracan with a rather garish wrap job that makes it swirly and mirrored (think the old TVR chameleon paint and you wouldn’t be a million miles off). Lambo always used to have the reputation of being the supercar that fat Italian businessmen drove up the village to visit their mistresses in but things have changed mightily since ’98 when VW bought the company and put it under the control of Audi. German reliability and Italian flair? What could go wrong?

Of course there are a lot of aftermarket kits and modifications you can make to your car, even if it’s a Huracan. Some are cosmetic, some actually affect the performance of your car. It’s fascinating to see what’s involved in this sort of thing too- a lot of performance boosting now days just involves remapping the engine management to improve throttle response and to be honest, can be a bit boring to read through. I’ve been reading the Scuderia Car Parts blog which shows a Huracan up on the ramps with some serious tinkering occuring.

A new exhaust system and a carbon fibre spoiler is certainly a great way to personalise your Lambo!

And that’s what it’s really about I suppose. When I learnt to drive in the early 90’s it was a treat to see something as “exotic” as a 4th generation Supra. Even now, I was genuinely more excited to see an Alpine A110 in the metal than a lot of cars more than two or three times the price- I even drove a McLaren last year on a track day for goodness sake- which just goes to show it’s the niche element rather than the price sticker that makes a lot of these performance cars desirable. If you can spend around £50K on something that does 0-60mph in under 5 seconds, spending £150K on something straight out of the factory isn’t really an option any more.

Because England is the home to a lot of motorsport companies, the whole tuning and modding scene is very well developed here, and there are equally a large number of well established wholesalers that sell performance parts. Such a company is Scuderia Car Parts, with whom this post is a paid partnership. And yes, as the name suggests, they also do parts for Ferrari (and other) manufacturers too!

Students How to Live Within Budget

When you are studying hard at college, there is typically only one thing that dampens the experience: money, or more precisely, the lack of it. When you go to college it may be the first time that you have had to be 100% responsible for your own finances, and so learning to budget it’s a vital life skill that you need to learn.

Course Costs

As well as tuition fees, there are often extra costs involved with studying that you may not have considered. Books, printing and field trips need to be paid for and are essential for you to be able to progress through the course; however, you do have alternative options.

You should be provided with a reading list, and so you can identify which books are critical, and which are available online or from the library. Some of the books will be on the reading list for several terms if not years, and older students may have copies that they want to sell. Rather than using the college facilities for printing, it can be more economical to buy an inexpensive printer with roommates and source cheap inkjet cartridges from Cartridge Shop and share the cost.

Food Costs

It is perfectly possible to eat nutritious and healthy food that does not cost a huge amount of money, despite popular belief. You need to eat a healthy and balanced diet in order to keep your mind and body performing at its peak. Junk foods are not only lacking in the vital nutrients that you need to thrive but are costly too.

  • Plan your meals

Planning your meals means that you can write a shopping list that you can strictly stick to and remain in budget. Impulse buys are typically high-value unhealthy choices.

  • Bulk cook

Whether you batch cook and freeze the extra portions, or share the costs with roommates, bulk cooking is more economical than cooking an individual portion as the cost per meal is less. If you have access to a freezer, use it! Not only will you save money, but you’ll always have access to a healthy meal when the cupboards are empty. Bolognese, stew, chilli and soups are great for bulk cooking and it means that you waste very little.

Social Costs

Other than education, college is a great opportunity to get out in the world and meet new people; however, the cost of gigs, drinking in bars, and going to parties can soon add up. You need to set yourself a budget for entertainment and leisure activities and stick to it.

Your friends may be having lunch in the cafeteria, but you can join them for a coffee. Saving money doesn’t have to be unsocial, it’s just about smarter spending. Look for alternative cheaper ways to catch up – meet up at a friend’s house, look for coupons, promotions and student discounts.

Your college years should be your best, but you don’t want the memory to be dampened by graduating with a mountain of avoidable debt. You are there to study and learn; to do so successfully you need to have the correct course materials, eat healthily and have downtime too, but not at the expense of excessive debt.

How To Make Your Household Broadband Family Proof

It’s a fact of modern life that your children probably already spend a large amount of time online. With the internet, every member of the household now has a device to browse the online, stream Netflix or play games. It’s also a fact of modern life that the headlines are full of reminders of the dangers of the internet – from cyberbullying and identity theft, to internet addiction and predators.

This can be worrying for parents, as they want to endeavour to keep their children safe online but can feel overwhelmed by the amount of web trends and apps that they are using. And for every fun game, app or social network that becomes popular, there can be negative impacts of the internet too.

How do you keep your family safe? We have some ideas that you should consider taking onboard to keep your family secure on the internet.

Secure your Wi-Fi network

Your broadband network allows your kids to access the internet from any room in your house. This can make it that little bit harder to keep an eye on them and see what they are up to. As well as this, if the network is not secure there is the danger of intruders either using your bandwidth or compromising your security and infecting your household computers with malware.

In order to combat this, you should know all about what speeds and bandwidth that your broadband provider gives you, so you can keep an eye on your usage and speeds. You should also ensure that your Wi-Fi is highly secure using a strong password on your router and enabling encryption to restrict access to it.

Teach your kids safe social networking etiquette

When your kids become old enough to use social media, it’s worth teaching them how to keep safe while using it. It goes without saying that you should be keeping an eye on their friend list, but there are other things to consider too. For instance, you should teach family members to restrict their personal information on the internet; never use their full names or addresses on their profiles.

You should also teach them not to talk about identifiable details on social media, such as holiday plans or weekend activities, and try avoiding checking-in to public places.

Ensure a safe gaming environment for your kids

You probably have a kid or two that likes gaming online. This can be a great hobby, but it also comes with its own dangers. Live online games allow people to interact with other people all over the world, and this can expose them to a variety of security dangers such as bullying and harassment.

To protect against this, ensure that your gamer children don’t reveal their identities while playing games, and you should always check out who they are playing with – if possible, you should make sure that they only play with friends and family members that they know in real life. Often, a lot of games and consoles offer parental controls, so you can restrict certain features, so always check if these options are available.

Securing your house

Even adding virus protections, parental controls and passwords to every device in the house, it can still be hard to secure the internet completely. You should have an open and trustful relationship with your children when it comes to the internet, so that if anything does happen that they can come and tell you of any issues. Being forewarned will help keep them safe while online.

If you’d like to educate your family a little more on broadband, including speeds and what they mean for your family, then Hoppy has created an informative video which you can watch below!