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Easy ways to plan playdates

Having small children gives you the chance to plan many playdates with children their age. You get to spend some time interacting with other parents while your children get to develop some key social skills from an early age. Here are some of the best ways to plan playdates with other children.

Watch who they are friendly with

If you have friends with children a similar age to your own, you will no doubt start playdates by having them get together. However, you should also keep your eyes open for friends they are making at any classes or playgroups that you might attend together. This is great as it gives you an indication early on about how they get on with strangers and what types of friends they are likely to make. 

Have you noticed that your child is very close to another at your playgroup? Why not pull that child’s parent aside and ask to arrange a playdate? It could be that simple! By encouraging playdates with as many children as possible, you will get to expose your child to many different lives from a young age.

Keep early playdates simple

Every playdate does not need to be an epic extravaganza. A simple first playdate could just be a run around in the local park. Your children get to play together and have fun no matter what they play on while you and the other parent can watch from afar and get to know each other a little too.

If there is nice weather, why not take advantage of it for a spontaneous playdate? Ask around after a class and have some people over for ice cream and playing in the paddling pool. It can be a few hours of fun for everyone!

Plan more complicated playdates in advance

If your child has one friend that they see often for playdates, you can begin to plan things that are a little more complicated with their friend’s parents. For example, one lovely thing to do might be to head away on an overnight trip. You could all go to an event or somewhere nice like the beach. This easy mini holiday might be something that your children treasure forever. 

However, you need to consider some logistics for this. If both parents can drive, it might not be fair for one to do all the driving and taking two cars might be a little too much. Why not consolidate policies by finding quotes for car insurance that will cover both of you? With the right car insurance quote, one driver can be the main driver on the policy while the other can be a named driver, which means they can share the driving duties. 

Playdates are an important part of your child’s development. Keep an eye out to see who they are making friends with. Before you know it, you could have a full schedule of playdates and your child could be well on their way to becoming a social butterfly. Reach out and find your first playdate now!

Your guide to switching energy suppliers in 2020

Whether you’ve been with your energy supplier for three years or ten years, you are probably overpaying for their services. After a few years most energy suppliers up the bill without even telling you. You are likely paying a lot more than your original rate without even knowing it. People are starting to realize this and moving from one supplier to another to get the better deal. It is also due to the large number of new energy companies popping up and offering better alternatives to the traditional Big Six energy companies who have historically dominated the market. Customers are realizing there is no need for this. You don’t have to pay more than you should. Some people are afraid to navigate the market and find the cheaper deal, but this is getting easier all the time. 

Where to Begin

If you are even considering switching energy suppliers, you should start by calling your company and asking for a breakdown of the bill. You can also do this by analyzing your bill and seeing how much you pay for each thing. Most households are paying too much for the energy use. You may even be paying for energy you don’t use. Considering that people around the UK are paying too much for electricity, it is no surprise that almost six and a half million customers switched their energy supplier in 2019, breaking a record that was just set in 2018. 

Finding a New Provider

When you have decided you are going to switch, the next step is finding who you are going to switch to. Nowadays there are many options in the UK’s market. You should start by calling around. Don’t be afraid to ask about any promotional deals they have going on. According to the website MoneyPug a platform used to switch energy supplier, some electricity suppliers will even offer you a deal for switching over from your current provider. This can make switching very enticing, but don’t forget to do your homework. Finding the best possible rate will save you in the long run. Typically customers are switching from a large company to a medium or small energy provider. 

The Stats of People Switching

A nine percent increase in households switching suppliers last year. Small and medium companies are benefiting from this, they have gained many customers despite the growth slowing. The collapse of several small suppliers may have contributed to this. People switching has doubled since 2014, the year that over 3 million customers switched. The number has gradually increased over the past five years with April 2019 alone seeing 660,000 customers finding new providers, the highest month on record. More than a half a million customers switch every month on average. 

Small suppliers have gained 1.5 more customers than they lost to larger companies. Only seven percent of people switching electricity were from small or medium suppliers to large ones. However, this increased in the last year of 2019, when it was at 18 percent. According to Ofgem, 53 percent of domestic customers were on expensive default tariffs. 

What You Need to Know about the Process

After taking a look at your bills, finding your average, and calling as many companies as you can to find a better deal, you should look into the cost of customer service. It may reveal which companies have a bad reputation. Then, once you have found the right company, you will simply give them your information and they will set you up. You will probably need to tell them the current meter reading and other information. Be honest to avoid disputes and you will find the right deal for you and your home. Typically it can take about 17 days to switch your supplier, but it could take up to three weeks. You will also have on average two weeks to decide you want to change your mind. 

However you look at it, if you’ve been with an energy supplier for a few years you are likely paying too much. Doing your homework will help you see what you could be paying and how much you could save. There is no reason to keep on paying too much. You may not want to make the calls but it will save you a lot of money if you do. 

​​​​​​​Can pregnancy lead to hair loss?

For many mothers, it isn’t so. There’s ample research available on hair loss that can occur after childbirth. But female hair loss is as much a reality during pregnancy. You might’ve heard of all those women who had thick, shiny, and luscious hair while they were pregnant. They are also quite vulnerable to experiencing hair loss once the pregnancy is over. But in order to understand how this works, you need to know the stages of the life cycle of your hair.

Stages of Hair Growth Cycle

Each hair follicle goes through three stages in their lifetime: anagen phase, catagen phase, and telogen phase. The first phase is associated with active hair growth and lasts for around 2-6 years. Following closely, catagen phase halts the activities of the first one. The hair follicle stops getting blood supply and soon converts to a club hair. This phase is marked by cellular death, also known as apoptosis. It doesn’t last longer than 2-3 weeks. The telogen phase is that of rest. And if you’re experiencing excessive hair loss, it means that most of your hair is in this phase. In periods of stress, our hair deems it right to enter this stage. It can last for around 3 months.

Normally, at a time, only 10% of your hair is in the telogen phase. Once it is over, your hair will shed, and new ones will begin to develop in their place.

What Happens During Pregnancy? 

During pregnancy, hormones, progesterone and estrogen, are certainly not at the normal levels. The latter plays an important role in helping the hair to not fall. The hair stays in the anagen phase of the life cycle. But it comes to end within a few months after the delivery as hair enters the telogen phase. It is here that many women begin to experience hair loss in relation to their pregnancy. However, there is no need to be alarmed as it is a temporary phase. Your hair will grow back so, you don’t need to be anxious. It can most definitely be very stressful, but things will get better with time.

How Can Women Lose Hair During Pregnancy? 

The experience certainly isn’t the same for every woman. Many end up losing hair than gaining any. As mentioned above, most of our hair can enter the telogen phase during periods of stress. Pregnancy is one such stress. Our body is preparing in multiple ways to sustain the growth of a baby. Thus, this can be one reason why women may experience hair loss during pregnancy. Hormonal changes can be cited as its reason.

Another reason could be thyroid disorders. Hyper or hypothyroidism can cause over or under-production of thyroid hormone. Either case can lead to a cluster of symptoms, one of which is hair loss. So, it is better to get these checked while you’re pregnant.

Mineral deficiency is another reason why people experience hair loss. It could be of vitamins or iron. Pregnant women, though, are at greater risks of suffering from iron deficiencies. Some situations can further aggravate the condition such as closely-spaced pregnancies.

Alopecia areata or traction alopecia can also be the cause of this so you shouldn’t completely rule them out. Androgenetic alopecia, which is pattern baldness, affects both men and women. It is hereditary and has no permanent solution other than hair transplant surgery.

In conclusion

Hair fall has many reasons. In any case, you should first consult your doctor about it. Once the right cause is determined, you can choose the most appropriate treatment for it.

Becoming a blended family: Practical tips to make life less stressful

Blended families, or homes that contain members of various different families, are one of the fastest growing types of households in 2019 according to the Office Of National Statistics.

These growing numbers of untraditional families mean that parents need to learn how to give their children the stable upbringing that they deserve. 

With this in mind, here are some tips on how you can make the process of becoming a blended family as smooth as possible for you, your former partner, any new family members and, most importantly of all, your kids.

Make everything official

It’s hard to start afresh with something serious such as marriage, custody agreement or housing arrangements still unresolved, so make sure that you get everything formally sorted out before you move on properly. Some issues, such as your official divorce, if you and your former partner were legally married, custody arrangements and other issues will require the use of a family or divorce lawyer. If you have a look online for the right solicitor you can find someone to help you finalise all arrangements and allow you and your former partner to move on with your lives in a civilised manner. 

Be honest with your children

During a difficult process such as leaving your former partner and moving on with a new one, it can be hard for parents to discuss everything that’s going on openly with their children, particularly if they’re young. Whilst you won’t be able to explain everything in detail to your kids, you should make sure that they’re aware of what’s going on and don’t lie to them, as your children will be able to see that something is wrong and become unsettled. 

Avoid bribing your kids

After separating from your partner, it can be easy for parents to want to fix things by bribing their children with presents, but this can create a negative outlook for kids, and also build resentment from other members of your family. Therefore, it’s important that you try to avoid buying your children expensive gifts and giving them everything they want. Consult your former partner before making any major purchases and make it clear that both parents are contributing financially, so that your children understand that they are equally loved and that both parents are involved and invested in their upbringing and happiness. 

Create a safe and nurturing atmosphere

Your children need to feel safe in their home, so during your separation you should keep any fighting out of the house and away from your kids. Try to only bring positive energy into your home, and if you’re not able to say something pleasant about your former partner, then simply stop speaking about them, or only refer to them in relation to their role as your children’s parent. 

Try to stay on good terms with your former partner

Whilst your ex might no longer be your partner, they’re still a parent to your children, so it’s important that you try to stay on good terms with them if you can. Avoid bickering with them and being petty, and instead try to be supportive. Stick to any arrangements that you have regarding your childcare, so you both avoid conflict and are able to co-parent effectively. 

Welcome new members of your family and be supportive

Eventually, your former partner will move on and find someone else, and when they do it’s important that you try your best to be supportive and welcoming. Remember that it’s never easy meeting a new partner’s children and former partner, so be kind to them and try to be as understanding as possible. If they have children too, work with them to combine your families and ensure that everyone feels comfortable and happy. 

Support your children when you’re introducing them to your new partner 

Once you find a new partner, you need to introduce them to your children and welcome them into your family. Be supportive when introducing a new partner to your kids, and communicate you’re your children throughout the process so that they know that they are still loved and cherished. This will help them to adjust to the new situation as quickly as possible, so that you can all move on with your lives together. 

Take things slowly

Pushing too many major changes on your children at once will unsettle and upset them, so try to take things slowly with your new partner. Do not ask them to move in too quickly, and make sure that they’re definitely the person that you’re interested in so that your children don’t have to keep meeting new partners on a regular basis. Try to integrate new changes into your kid’s lives slowly so that they aren’t overwhelmed and have enough time to adjust before you make further amendments to their lives. 

Be civil with everyone

Redefining your version of a family can be tough, but it’s important that you’re courteous and considerate with everyone so that no one struggles too much. Be kind to everyone in your new family and try your best to help them adjust to these changing circumstances. Never badmouth anyone in your family around other members, particularly the children, as this could affect their perception of others and make the situation more complicated and less enjoyable for everyone. You might not be able to like everyone instantly, but you can insist that you all respect each other, for the sake of your children and your own wellbeing. 

Limit your expectations

Once you’ve found a new partner and moved on, it’s easy to think that everything will be perfect from now on, but with families this is very rarely the case. Be prepared for arguments, hassle and tantrums (from children and adults). Try your best to view these challenges as opportunities to learn and grow as a family, rather than serious issues that cannot be resolved. 

Make time to give every member of the family individual attention and support

When you’ve got a big blended family, it’s easy to neglect spending one-on-one time with individuals, particularly children. As such, you should try your best to make time to spend with each person on a regular basis. This could be by taking up hobbies that will allow you to enjoy their company, or simply by arranging to spend time with them away from everyone else. This will ensure that you make everyone in your blended family feel welcome and understand that you’re there for them and love them, even when things seem to be changing constantly. 

Agree on a schedule for holidays

Holidays such as Christmas, New Year and Easter, as well as celebrations such as birthdays, can be tricky when you’re a blended family, so it’s important that you’re organised and make all of your arrangements in advance. Communicate and make sure that you set up a schedule so that everyone knows what’s going on and no one feels left out. By being prepared, you can make sure that your holidays as a blended family are successful and that everyone has a great time. 

It’s never easy entwining your life with someone else’s, especially when one or both of you have children. We hope these tips help you to make things easier and take the hassle out of becoming a blended family.

What's on during February half term

Half term comes around fast doesn't it! Don't worry if you haven't had time to make any plans, we're here to help. 

Here's our round-up of some of the main activities being offered for families by Surrey's favourite venues, but please remember to check our what's on calendar for even more events and information.

We always advise to check with the venue before you set off in case you need to book ahead or the event is cancelled.

Our places to go section is also very worth having a look at, with sections for rainy days, museums, National Trust properties and more.

All week

Experience some Out of This World themed storytelling at Fishers Farm Park, where you’ll hear about aliens and rockets and planets galore. Don’t forget to touch down at the Space Craft Station to make your very own alien pal. Roar with laughter and delight in the daily Magic Show and boogie along to ‘Spaceman’ at the Family Disco!

It's Olympics week at Godstone Farm. Celebrate this Olympic year as you complete farm themed challenges. Will your toy tractor win the race? Will your welly throw be far enough? Get all five rings and stand on the winners' podium! With animal encounters and play areas to keep all mini Olympians busy, everyone’s a winner!

Farming Week at Bocketts Farm Park is very exciting as it marks the start of the spring lambing season. There are more than 60 lambs due and you may get to watch a lamb being born. There will also be birds of prey flying demonstrations daily shows with dancing, games, bubbles, pony rides, tractor rides, small animal encounters and pig racing.

Youngsters can enjoy a range of fun all-weather activities at RHS Wisley, including a chance to make sun catchers and wind socks and discover more about the wild weather of the UK on a daily garden trail. Included in normal entry. 

Half term at Butser Ancient Farm invites children to step back in time and learn ancient skills with a hands on demonstration, take part in a themed trail around the ancient buildings and warm up with a hot chocolate around a roaring fire.

Hockney Week at the Lightbox in Woking will include creative, fun activities for kids of all ages such as 3D Landscapes, cup weaving, tablet art and big art landscapes.

Get Ready to Race at Brooklands Museum from Monday. Children can step into a workshop to explore the science behind speed, join the pit-crew for hands-on session and have a go at getting a car ready to race. There will also be the famous car rides, pedal planes, Concorde mini tours and bus rides.

Paint a beautiful bird feeder at one of the Squire's garden centres. Other free activities on offer during the week include a spring hunt competition around the garden centre with the chance to win a prize, and a spring flower paper maze with a sticker for all who complete it. There is no need to book, just turn up.

Treasured objects is the theme for the week at Weald and Downland Museum. Activities include: making a simple picture frame, creating a collage badge, drawing a favourite item for a gallery, button art, playing with traditional toys, face painting and a trail to find some treasured objects around the museum.

Workshops are taking place all week at G Live, where children can try creating a comic, dance in a day, lego robotics, magic and theatrical make-up.

Budding young artists are invited to step into the pop up portrait studio at Watts Gallery between Tuesday and Friday to experiment with drawing using mirrors and perspex. Add to the growing Hall of Fame and make portraits to take away. This is a drop-in event free with admission price.

We have got some great National Trust properties in the Surrey area. Here's what they are offering during half term:

  • Hatchlands Park - explore the parkland on a duck-spotting trail.
  • Polesden Lacey - fun trail around the grounds to show you the secret power of trees.
  • Winkworth Arboretum - from den building to sword-fighting, there’s no end to the fun that can be had with the world’s greatest toy – a stick! Explore one of your ’50 Things’ on this stick-tacular trail.
  • Claremont Landscape Garden - an I-Spy trail to discover all the flora and fauna that make Claremont colourful. With spring on the horizon, colour is returning to the garden once again.

Weekend February 15-16

A family fun session at Guildford House Gallery on Saturday invites visitors to make their own personalised table placemat using different art and craft materials, and identify mystery cooking utensils from a bygone age.

A Young Archaeologists' Club at Chertsey Museum on Saturday will look at the concept of money. When was it first used? How did people trade before money? As well as coins and notes, what other items have been used as money (you will be amazed)? Investigate from the beginnings of trade, right up to the stock markey today. For 8 to 16 year olds. Advanced booked required.

Monday

Forest Fun at Gatton Park is a chance for children of all ages to explore cedar wood, make woodland crafts and enjoy a snack around the fire. Sessions take place throughout the day and should be booked in advance. Or, you can enjoy a teddy bear's train ride and some storytelling at Denbies (wrap up warm for this one).

Tuesday

Join in with a fun morning of puppet making at Haslemere Museum to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Disney's Pinocchio. This is a drop-in event so there is no need to book.

The tropical creepy crawly roadshow will be at Denbies today, where children can meet snakes, lizards, mini-beasts and frogs for an inspiring animal encounter.

Wednesday

Enjoy the story of The Gruffalo’s Child at Gatton Park and go for a walk in the grounds to bring the book to life. Return to create artwork linked to the story. Sessions are suitable for children aged two and over and take place in the morning and afternoon. Book in advance.

Enjoy some creative time learning about the art of ancient Egypt at Bourne Hall Museum, have fun discovering how mummies were created and then try caring some hieroglyphics. This should be booked in advance.

Harry Potter fans can take part in a themed trail at Garsons, Esher and build their very own patronus out of Lego. This is not suitable for children under four years and the patronus workshop should be booked in advance.

Thursday

Take part in some junk modelling to build a house in a workshop at Gatton Park. Make a doll’s house, a haunted house or a princess palace! This is suitable for four to seven-year-olds and should be booked in advance.

Wild Tots takes place at Nower Wood today offering outdoor activities such as woodland arts and crafts, stories, games, musical instruments, forest exploration, a mud kitchen, hunting for mini-beasts and lots of woodland fun! This is suitable for two to five-year-olds.

The Little Bushcraft Family Adventure at Painshill Park offers an epic mini-adventure to explore the deep dark woods, dig rivers, build dens, light fires and have lots of family fun. Book in advance.

It's Activity Thursday at the Rural Life Centre, when visitors can have a go at washing clothes the Victorian Way, launch an air propelled rocket, learn about the Home Guard, explore the child sized doll’s house, ‘milk the cow’ or have a go on the pole lathe.

Friday

Enjoy the story of The Gruffalo's Child at Gatton Park and go for a walk in the grounds to bring the book to life. Return to create artwork linked to the story. Sessions are suitable for children aged two and over and take place in the morning and afternoon. Book in advance.

Enjoy a teddy bear's train ride and some storytelling at Denbies vineyard followed by a chocolate treat and a hot drink for the adults!

We hope you have a lovely half term and enjoy all your activities, whatever the weather. Check back tomorrow for the weekend's events and activities on offer throughout next week.

Things to consider before getting dermal fillers

Whilst it still has its fans, botox is so last decade in terms of fighting the never-ending war against ageing. For those opting not to go under the knife, dermal fillers are THE #1 buzz words when it comes to knocking years off your age. Before you rush off to do an internet search for dermal fillers Surrey you should do your research and make sure you are fully aware of what these fillers are made from and what they will do for you.

Decisions Decisions

Most of us at some time do not like what we see staring back at us in the mirror. We spend millions a year on toners, cleansers, moisturisers and creams that promise we will go to bed and wake up looking 10 years younger. While a good beauty routine essential, being realistic is equally important. Are you going to carry on just using the creams and serums or is it the right time for you to take the next step? You could be a 28 year old looking at preventing the signs of aging making an appearance or a 68 year old looking to make that reflection a lot more appealing. Only you can decide whether this treatment is the right move to make, don't let anyone talk you into something you aren't comfortable with.

Only a Professional Will Do

Do not let anyone inject anything into any part of your body if they are not a fully trained medical professional. There are little beauty salons in the back streets of most towns and cities whose only qualifications are the ones they have received online with little or no practical experience. A simple injection may seem an easy thing to do but get the dosage wrong or inject the wrong place and you could end up in serious trouble.Rylan Clark-Neal is well known for having enhancements and he spoke out about having lip fillers done by somebody who wasn't properly trained. In a frank interview with a magazine, he recalled being on This Morning during his time on the X Factor and was laughing when his lip literally burst open. This was his wake up call to only make safe and informed decisions about his health. Wise words we should all heed to.

What's in that Syringe and What Does it Do?

A filler is a substance similar to gel which is then injected into different areas of the face. Both the depth of the jab, and the fillers consistency, dictates the result you will be left with. Deeper injections with a firm filler will create volume and add shape to a face. Medium depth injections with a medium-firm filler will reduce lines and creased whilst a superficial injection of soft filler which only pierces the dermis will help to plump up and rehydrate the skin as well as smoothing out wrinkles.

Safe and Effective

Talking to the professional carrying out your treatment and deciding on the result you want in advance is how to avoid disaster. It's virtually impossible to end up with the dreaded duck lips after one injection, unless you are being a guinea pig for somebody who is not properly trained and is getting jab happy! This is your face, your reflection, so make the best decision for both of you. 

Tips on choosing the best dentist

Choosing the best practice and dentist is a big decision to ensure that your teeth are looked after properly. However, with there being so many dentists available, it can be difficult to know what makes a good dentist. Therefore, we have put together some top tips on choosing the best dentist and what to look out for. So whether you’re looking for a dentist in Surrey, London, Essex or anywhere else in the United Kingdom, you can find a reliable dentist to help you take care of your teeth and help them to last longer. 

Qualifications and experience 

Whether it’s a dentist in St Johns Wood, a dental nurse, dental hygienist, therapist or technician you’re looking, it’s imperative that you check their qualifications. It’s essential that all dentists successfully complete 5 years of undergraduate training and also have a Bachelor of Dental Surgery, with the letters ‘BChD’ or ‘BDS’ after their name. To keep their techniques and skills up to date, dentist must also regularly attend training after achieving their qualifications. When you’re looking for a dental practice, you should look for evidence of skills, extra qualifications and specialist areas, as some dentists will have additional expertise, such as offering cosmetic dentistry. 

Dental services available 

Nowadays, dental practices offer a variety of dentistry services, as well as routine dental care. For you to achieve a healthy smile and mouth, and to maintain your oral health, it’s important that you choose a dentist practice that offers a choice of treatments. To find out what the dentist offers, browse their website, which should be clear and informative, or visit the practice and speak to them directly. 

Dental team and dental practice 

The dental practice should be tidy, well-organised and clean, with knowledgeable and helpful staff that make you feel comfortable. A good dentist should always remain professional, approachable, sympathetic and patient, regardless of the patient, so you can ask them any questions or queries you have. 

Pricing and fees should always be available for you, and if you need to budget for your dental treatment, see if the dental practice has dental payment plans.  

Hours and location 

You don’t want to travel far for a dentist appointment, so choose a dentist practice that is close to your work or home. Not only will this make it easier to schedule an appointment, but you will be able to arrive on time too. In addition to the location, ensure that the dental office is open on suitable days and times that suit you. 

Personal comfort 

For some, visiting the dentist can cause anxiety, so when choosing a dentist, consider whether they make you feel comfortable. If you’re able to explain your symptoms, express your fear or anxiety and ask any questions you have, then you should choose that dental practice. 

Website and patient reviews 

When you’re looking for the best dentist, ask friends, co-workers and family who they would recommend and their feedback on their dentist. Additionally, read reviews of on dentists you are considering online, ensuring that the comments are posted by patients. You can also review the information and reviews on the website of the dental practice, so you can see what their patients think of their service. 

Hopefully, these top tips will give you a starting point and something to consider when choosing the best dentist. Make sure you choose a dentist you can trust and you look forward to your dental appointments. 

Six gifts and acts your pet will appreciate

Your beloved pets have feelings and they appreciate rewards just as much as we do. We try our best to give our dogs and cats the attention and love they deserve, and they ask for very little in return. Throughout their years, dogs and cats can provide love, amusement, entertainment and even protection under the right circumstances.

Giving them the occasional thank you – in ways they understand, or at least benefit them – is just part of being a good pet owner. While they can’t tell us exactly what they’d prefer, we can use common sense and a bit of inspiration to find some pretty incredible gifts and actions in order to show our thanks. 

Your four-legged friends aren’t very picky, but you can still be selective in determining what treats, gifts and investments you’ll give to them. To help you out, let’s take a look at six specific gifts and actions your pet will appreciate in one way or another.

Automatic Litter Boxes

There are definitely pros and cons between households that have dogs versus those that have cats. With many cat owners, they appreciate the fact that cats prefer to go in specifically designated spaces, cover up their waste and don’t have to go outside each time they need to relieve themselves. For dog owners, they prefer being free from the constant cleaning of litter boxes and the smells that can come with them.

Fortunately, cat owners who want to further reduce some of the downsides in potty behaviour can consider a specialised automatic litter box for their kitty. A variety of options exist, including those that only clean once the cat has left the area (automatic litter boxes can cause some cats fear). 

However, these boxes ensure that clean-up is easy for cat owners; simply remove the tray, empty it out and replace. No more bending over and scooping to retrieve waste out of your cat’s box. Your kitty will also appreciate it since their box will always be clean; no more wading through you-know-what for your cat when he or she needs to use the bathroom!

Pet Insurance

Our pets can’t vocalise their ailments to us. While we can spot when our pets aren’t feeling their best, it is incumbent upon us to interpret and ultimately act on the situation. Let’s be honest, the cost of pet healthcare can be quite expensive in many cases[1], and not everybody has hundreds or even thousands of pounds to spend on vet bills.

Thankfully, a potentially more cost-effective solution exists - pet insurance. Through the use of pet insurance, your cat or dog can receive the treatment they need and you claim the money back through your provider. Many pet insurance coverage plans range in price depending on the coverage level so you should be able to find a plan which suits your needs and budget.

Review the types of coverage options available online to find the best option for you and your pet. Maximum Benefit and Lifetime Coverage options each offer pet owners a different method of coverage. Within each of those pet insurance options, coverage levels can be selected. 

Ultimately, providing your pet with the guarantee of health insurance can potentially give you peace of mind and may also improve their chances of living long and happy lives. 

A Safe Space of Their Own

Cats and dogs alike crave security. From your favourite canine companion hiding during a thunderstorm to your kitty constantly searching for high spaces or boxes to sleep in, pets look for territory they can call home. 

Having a designated safe space for your dog or cat may help them experience less stress – and it gives you an opportunity to keep other areas of the home free from pet hair and dander. A variety of dog crate-and-bed combos as well as cat bedding can be a gift that keeps on giving. They’ll appreciate having these areas when it’s time to sleep or they otherwise wish to be by themselves.

Consistent Exercise and Exploration

Most animals tend to be active critters. Dogs and cats alike love to explore, seek out new sights and smells, and otherwise be in motion. Particularly with dogs, daily walks and exercise is often needed to expend excess energy and ensure they’ll be calm and well-behaved throughout the day[2].

One of the best acts you can perform for your pet’s overall health and wellbeing is a daily commitment to activity and exercise. For dogs, regular walks and/or trips to the local dog park can help them meet new friends, explore their surroundings and release that extra energy. For cats, spending time each day playing with cat-friendly toys can help them avoid the natural instinct to be alive and energetic during night hours.[3]

In both cases, this act can help both your pet and yourself in a variety of ways!

Grooming Tools

Pets shed fur and constantly find new ways to tangle or mat it. One excellent gift that pet owners can invest in is a set of grooming tools, of which there are many choices. Whether you’re shopping for a dog or cat, the styles available can vary depending on the size, age and preferences of the animal.

For example, dog grooming gloves utilise soft but firm bristles that offer a more pleasurable experience for dogs – while still functioning as intended (you can also find de-shedding equivalents for cats).

Other options available include bristle brushes, wire pin brushes, slicker brushes, mat breakers and flea combs.

Microchipping and Tracking Gadgets

Even though microchipping for dogs has become compulsory across the UK[4], some dogs still currently lack them. Additionally, cats are not currently required to be chipped. As such, there are pet owners who can benefit from pursuing this and potentially saving their pets in the event they get lost. 

Microchipping works by implanting a chip that can be scanned by local vets and authorities, but there are also other options. Pet GPS tracking solutions that utilise collars are another option that can aid in tracking your pet in real time. In situations where your pet may have become sick or injured, these tracking options may provide life-saving functionality in ways that microchipping currently does not.

These six gifts and acts of service for your pet can each make a big difference in their quality of life. From finding lost pets and assisting them with exercise to improving their healthcare and keeping them groomed, each of these ideas are gifts that – in one way or another – may keep on giving for years.

 

A visit to Vue Staines could banish Blue Monday gloom

THE third Monday of January has been dubbed the most miserable day of the year – but Vue Staines is making sure customers have no need to succumb to sadness. 

Vue Staines is aiming to banish the Blue Monday gloom by providing a bit of extra happiness and relaxation in the form of a cosy blanket, a pair of slippers and mindfulness tips for a limited number of customers on Monday 20th January. 

Vue is encouraging visitors to switch off from the outside world and Get Lost in great stories from the likes of The GentlemenJumanji: The Next Level, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.  

This follows new research from Vue and University College London, which has revealed that a few hours in front of the big screen can optimise our brain function, social connections, productivity and creativity*. These findings have been launched in conjunction with Vue’s Get Lost campaign, featuring John Boyega, encouraging viewers to fully switch off and immerse themselves in the full big screen experience. 

Andreea Manea, General Manager at Vue Staines, said: “Living in a distracting world where we are always online and on the go has meant there is no better time to switch off and watch a good film.  We are helping our customers relax and beat the Monday blues with a comforting blanket, snug slippers and top tips to manage stress. 

“That’s why we pride ourselves in offering the ultimate seat, screen and sound to provide cinema-goers with the best possible experience.”

Blue Monday kits are available on request, free of charge to a limited number of customers of Vue Staines from Monday 20th January on a strictly first-come-first-served basis.

Tickets are available at www.myvue.com.

*UCL and Vue Entertainment (2020) reveals the cinema can have fascinating cognitive, emotional and physiological benefits.

What's on over Christmas and New Year 2019

The Christmas holidays are of course a very magical and special time for families. You’ll probably feel the need to get out of the house at some point so here’s lots of ideas to choose from. You can also head to our what’s on calendar for more inspiration and information. 

One off events:

The annual Santa's Saturday Raceday takes place at Lingfield Park on Saturday, December 21. Father Christmas returns to the track on horseback to hand out FREE gifts to the children. Under 18s go FREE and there will be lots of other festive entertainment on offer.

Enjoy a fun filled morning making a variety of creative Christmas crafts to take home with you at Haslemere Museum on Saturday, December 21. This is a museum explorers event for five to 11-year-olds and should be booked in advance.

Take part in some festive family crafts at Hatchlands Park on December 21, 22 and 23. Get creative and make some decorations to take home and hang on your own Christmas tree.

Blow away the cobwebs in a Boxing Day walk at Bookham Commons Join ranger, Ian on this fascinating guided walk around the site.

Use recycled Christmas cards and other materials to make New Year’s Eve party countdown clocks in a workshop at The Lightbox on December 27. Drop in anytime from 1.30pm to 4pm.

Head to Brooklands Museum on January 1 for the annual New Year’s Day Classic Gathering. With over 1,000 vehicles expected, live music and a winter barbeque and other additional food outlets, there will be something for everybody to kick start 2020 in style.

If you need to walk off some of the Christmas and New Year excesses, why not try a New Year's Day ramble with Ranger Al at Hindhead Commons & the Devil's Punch Bowl. This is a great way to stretch the legs and learn something fascinating about the Devil's Punch Bowl.

Make some adorable baby snowy owls at The Lightbox on January 3 during a free, drop-in workshop. Or, head to the museum on January 5 for Studio Sunday, where there will be hands-on activities for all the family using different materials and techniques.

Throughout the holidays:

The outdoor ice skating rink is open at Hampton Court. Glide (or stumble) across the ice with the historic Tudor palace in the background - sounds magical.

Free from gizmos and gadgets this Christmas, the festive trail at Priory Farm in Redhill offers fun in the fresh air. Complete the light-hearted seasonal quiz as you explore the nature trail and collect your prize at the end.

Enjoy an Enchanted Botanical Christmas at RHS Wisley. Enter the Glasshouse to view a display of festive plants and magical animals with a hint of steam punk. Watch the enchanted poinsettia production line grow these colourful Christmas presents. Also at RHS Wisley, you can be dazzled by giant botanical-inspired light installations and see trees and features all lit up in Glow 2019.

The lovely National Trust properties in Surrey have a variety of festive and winter-themed trails:

Take part in a Christmas trail at Hatchlands Park - pick up a trail sheet from reception and follow a musical Christmas story through the parkland and woodland.

All That Glitters at Polesden Lacey includes a woodland trail, horse-drawn carriage, Santa's Grotto and more. Mrs Greville's sumptuous party house has also been re-imagined to focus on jewels and sparkle.

Explore the wintry woodland of Winkworth Arboretum,on the Shivering Snowman trail.

Children can go on a magical journey to help Ruby the Robin find her friends around the garden at Claremont Landscape Gardens on a heartwarming trail.

After Christmas:

Splish, splash, splosh! Wellies at the ready! Take part in the Welly Wanderers trail at Winkworth Arboretum. This starts on Boxing Day and runs until January 5. See what you can discover at Winkworth as the seasons change.

The Winter Trail at Ham House starts on Boxing Day and runs until the end of January. Follow Ham’s own four-legged friend to spot everything Charlie the dog has found in this winter children’s trail.

Get rich quick in a life-sized version of the classic Christmas board game monopoly at Polesden Lacey. Polesdenopoly is a fun, outdoor family version of the game throughout the gardens and grounds during the Christmas holidays.

Hopefully that’s enough to keep you all busy. We hope you all have a lovely Christmas and New Year.