Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Dating Tips

Dating in this modern world has to be one of the most difficult obstacles we have to overcome, what with the numerous social media outlets where people manage to create an illusion of how they look, (often not a true representation!) ...People taking to shows focused on matching people such as First Dates or Love Island in their quest for love. 
In addition to the the numerous dating sites and apps, our superficial and fast paced world means that we have an even larger number of haystacks in which to find our needle. 

We have never had so many methods open to us. 

I confess to having explored pretty much every avenue open to me during the 3 years I spent in the single life, which I think qualifies me to offer my guidance and observations to help you find The One - which I am more than delighted to say that I have. 

My parents way of meeting was pretty much straight from the song by The Human League "you were working as as waitress in a cocktail bar when I met you" the only difference being my Dad was the man behind the bar mixing the cocktails trying to impress my Mum, a similar story may of played out for many of their generation. Never too confident in my looks, the route of finding someone on a night out never felt like it was the route my love life was going to take, neither was it what I felt would be something lasting, I think that is rare to find that person amongst a crowd of hundreds unless you truly believe in fate. 

Combined with the me having high standards and being a fussy so and so, the small town in which I lived which had the sum total of 3 clubs (if you could call them that) & a Wetherspoons was never going to find me the lady of my dreams.

One thing I have always prided myself on being is unique...not one to blend in with the crowd, aiming to be memorable to the lady I wanted to impress. Judge yourself if some of my methods were either desperate or admirable. From leaving my name and number on a napkin for an attractive waitress, to sending a wrapped broom to someones place of work ( to sweep her off her feet) both of which secured me a date I hasten to add. 

For me working in recruitment which is extremely competitive, I have had to set myself apart from the rest to ensure a company comes to me above anyone else. Some values I try to impart here, is to be myself, honest, funny and listen. This translates in to the dating world too, whether making a daunting approach to someone you have your eye on, sending a message on a dating app or wanting to make a lasting good impression on a first date. 

As much as the common dating sites such as Tinder & Plenty of Fish get a bad rep for purely being a hook up destination, I found that they were best for my age group and if you are serious about finding a lasting relationship from it,  then surely there are plenty out there looking to do the same, and why would you want to restrict yourself to only dating someone from within the city in which you live? For me if I was to find someone that I was going to spend the rest of my life with, I was willing to travel to meet them. This was brilliant for getting to know people from many different cities and ensured there was variety in the locations of the dates. 

However this did sometimes result in getting rather lost and being late which isn't a great start, a situation that faced me when using a faulty sat nav and an iPhone that was about to run about of battery without an in car charger, luckily she waited, but boy was I on the back foot. However, it did provide the chance to poke fun at myself and make us both laugh.

On the subject of the actual dates, don't be boring here, do you really want to just sit opposite the person at a dinner table, waiting for them to finish chewing to ask them a question, limiting the chance for flirting or contact with one another to see if that famous spark is there. Especially in this day and age when people are quick to make their minds up and decide that the spark isn't there, make sure you pack a stick of TNT to blow the socks off your date. 

Think of somewhere that will get you having fun, try something like mini golf, bowling (but try and find a nice one with less stinky shoes) head to an games arcade, being competitive can bring out the best in both of you, the zoo or ice skating are also great ideas. These may not be for everyone granted  & there is nothing wrong with a nice drink date either, I would recommend letting your date say where they would like to go, if they pick somewhere they are comfortable with and know, they are likely to be more relaxed and more open with you on the date. 

So the date is set here are some top tips to follow 

* Think of what to wear, show you have made an effort and ensure it is suitable for the location. 
* Scent - Ensure you smell good, a polite peck on the cheek to greet them will allow your date to notice the hopefully well selected scent you have chosen, perhaps prompting a compliment and you offering one in return. 
* Take a gift. Although do not rock up with the largest bouquet of flowers you could find like Del boy, making your date perhaps feel uncomfortable and drawing potentially unwanted attention in an already nerve-wracking situation. Instead show that you have listened or paid attention in conversations leading up to the date, for example for my first date with Beth, I knew she loved to draw and that she loved elephants, a small token from me was a sketchbook with elephants on it, it went down a treat.  
* Don't be cheesy unless you can pull it off as being cheeky, and don't overload on the compliments, if you do they will come across as false. Pick the right moment and make it natural, don't just look around their face and pick out a part at random, put some thought in to what you are saying. 
* Don't reel off a list of standard questions either, think about subjects that will prompt a back and forth conversation, particularly ones that will get you both laughing. 
* Make eye contact, not in the way that you are interrogating them, but long enough to give off the signal if you are attracted to them, the right look can replace a lot of words. 
* Keep ex relationships off the table, you can't guarantee how anything you say will be taken, you could speak too fondly of them, sound too bitter or even worse get them thinking of an ex they still think fondly of and end up comparing you. 
* The first kiss doesn't have to happen on that first date, ensure there is an obvious signal that it is what your date wants, even then keep it classy and ensure it leaves you both wanting more. But leave it there if you want this to be something more than one time meeting. 

We are on this earth a small time, too small a time to not put the effort in to find someone that makes us truly happy, for anyone that has read the book called The One (if not I highly recommend) the methods of finding that soul mate may yet change again dramatically, but one thing is for sure it will feel truly worth it if you put the effort in, and don't feel like you haven't taken what could be your only opportunity. 

Happy dating people. 



Sunday, 22 April 2018

10 must have items for Spring 2018

The clocks have gone forward, the mornings are lighter and the darkness staves off for a few extra hours. The weather may still be very unpredictable but we are at least stepping away from what has been a brutal Winter with all kinds of elements being thrown at us.

So lets pack away the heavy coats, the scarves and gloves and start putting together outfits with a much lesser focus on keeping warm.

My target items this season have already been identified, and hopefully may assist you in what to look for that is on trend and a must have for this season.

Number One - A lightweight spring jacket.

Now the thick parkas, duffle coats are away, my first requirement was to find a jacket that would be suitable for a couple of upcoming trips to Poland & Wales as well as here at home. My search was something that was light, durable for changeable weather conditions and that could be combined with a few outfit options. Arise this little beauty that I came across in Topman, a Khaki Rubberised Jacket, also available in Navy but I have not stopped loving the amount of Khaki that has been available since the Summer really. It looks great, with the lining made up of a cream and khaki check that looks great when you turn the sleeve up a little. Layer over a simple jumper or T-shirt with jeans and chelsea boots for a great outfit option.

Number Two - A Casual footwear option

It may not be the same for everyone, but as the weather improves I love being able to head out for casual walks of an evening or at the weekend. If that so happens to take in a nice little pub for lunch or a beer garden for a light refreshment, then so be it. When style can't take a back seat though, what is the best option for such an eventuality. For me there are three types of footwear I would look at here.

A simple plimsole type shoe that isn't a trainer would be perfect alongside trousers, cropped or full length but also shorts for those rare but lovely el scorchio days.

Brown leather lace up boots with dark trousers or jeans slightly turned up will offer a combination of comfort against the elements, lets be honest there is still plenty off risk that the sun will succumb to the April showers.

Perhaps if keeping it casual with some jeans or chinos, a pair of pastel yellow trainers would look great.

Number Three - Cropped Navy Chinos

Make life easy for yourself by adding these to your wardrobe, they can form the base of many an outfit. They can balance out a variety of bolder colours for your upper half, or support a tonal look with various shades of blue.

Number Four - A White Oxford Shirt

You should probably own a few of these, they are the perfect accompaniment with a pair of tan or navy chino trouser or shorts, a non too formal option for a wedding or event. For the warmer days there is no law against rolling the sleeves up either.

Number Five - An Unstructured Blazer

Hopefully your social calendar is filling up nicely and the weekends are spent attending bbq's, garden parties, weddings, outdoor events or dining al fresco style. An unstructured blazer offers a stylish statement while keeping it cool whether worn over an oxford shirt, crew neck t-shirt or a casual shirt and look great no matter which you opt for. When selecting colour, if having one ensure its something you can make work with a number of outfits, personally I would opt for navy as a staple piece, but if looking for a varied option to that, a pastel blue or pink (think rose blush here not bright or bold) would work great this season.

Number Six - Polo Shirt

A Polo shirt, can instantly create the look you need for the long lighter nights ahead in beer gardens or bbq's. Worn with chino shorts or trousers, it will still look like a well put together outfit, for a layer of emergency warmth, wear under a linen blazer or zip through cardigan.

Number Seven - The Overshirt

Personally this season I have opted for a zip through khaki overshirt, I can't get enough of the khaki / olive green colour, and hope that it doesn't disappear any time soon from the mens style line up.
This can be worn during this season over a plain t-shirt, patterned or plain shirt too for a variety of looks. It would easily be at home too during the colder seasons over a knitted jumper.

Number Eight - Ombre Sunglasses

Imagine Eighties Terry Tibbs glasses but worn like Don Draper. Check this link for inspiration - Bronze Ray Ban. This look may not be for everyone however, so head over to Arete who have put together a great post on finding the right sunglasses for your face shape.

Number Nine - Chelsea Boots
Ideal for the evenings where you are looking for a little less ankle exposure, a classic Chelsea boot should be in your footwear repertoire, my advice is to ensure you get a couple of colours for outfit options, brown and dark grey would be my choice.

Number 10 - Scent

I may not fall into the thinking of many here, but I simply cannot limit myself to a couple of scents, not only do I tend to keep around 7 going at one time, I do like to find ones that are suited to the conditions. You can't go far wrong with Prada Luna Rossa, a mix of lavender, sage and citrus. It sits as fresh scent without being overpowering.

Spring is a great time and many of these items can form parts of your summer wardrobe. I look forward to bringing my Summer guide to you.


Sunday, 8 April 2018

First time buyer house guide

Well they say it is the one of the most stressful things in life that you will do, I can testify to that having done it twice so far in my life. However stressful it is, it is also one of the most satisfying.

First confession, and judge away as you please - one of my career moves took me into the world of property, for little over 12 months I was an Estate Agent, It isn't something I shy away from admitting as I thoroughly enjoyed that job, it perfectly brought out my sales and customer service ability plus I thoroughly enjoyed nosing around other peoples houses. During that period though it did teach me some valuable experience and things to consider and do when going through the house buying process, as calling on Kirsty & Phil hasn't been an option.

When buying my first house, I was a young bachelor looking to get my foot on the ladder, this was difficult to find a house that fell within my budget, was the right area and wasn't going to cost an arm and a leg to decorate. The search must of been at least 18 months, but this is one of the biggest decisions you have to make in life so I wasn't about to rush in, I only viewed 5/6 houses during this time, I may be renowned for being fussy but I needed to be swept off my feet by bricks and mortar.

For a good 2 years I made sure I saved every penny that I could, I purchased items I knew I wanted when they were on offer as I had time on my side and although my Mum didn't thank me for it, I had her house to store it in.

It was important to understand what I could afford before making any commitments or falling in love with something I couldn't afford. I sought out a mortgage adviser who guided me through the various options available at this point it is important to have prepared

* As many payslips or earning evidence as you can provide - my profession pays me commission to it was important to show that this was regular as not all mortgage providers take this in to consideration.
* Regular expenses - its important to know what you need to spend your money on and what you can do without.
* Debt - any money you owe can play a bug factor in what you will be allowed to borrow, in particular car finance, mortgages can be heavily affected by car finance, they really don't like it, so I used some of my savings to pay off the balance to remove any debt i had, I couldn't believe the difference this made to the amount I could be lent.
* Deciding on type of mortgage - I opted for repayment as I didn't want to simply pay off the interest (this is almost like just paying off the minimum payment on a credit card) but for a much larger amount.
* Who you bank with - Some banks have great offers for their customers, ensure you ask to ensure you get the best deal you can.
* Avoid hefty fee's where you can, I have to be honest I was cheeky, the mortgage advisor presented me with many great options, however was going to charge me quite a large fee to do this, either by a one off payment or adding it to your mortgage. As I had been shown the places offering these deals,  I went direct and ended up getting an even better deal. So it was great to see what was out there but I wasn't about to lose precious funds.

Initially I thought I had found the one, it was in an ideal location, perfect size for me, a mostly modern interior, within my budget but needed an update to the kitchen and bathroom. Some negotiations ensued and an offer was accepted. Something was a miss though, I didn't have the tingle you  are meant to have when you find the house for you. At the time my office was working above the Estate agents I used to be at, I needed to pop down to discuss my mortgage and my old Manager happened to ask if I had seen the local paper, as she had seen someone that if I was a shaven headed thug convicted of burlgualry was my lookalike. she insisted I take it for my colleagues to decide (they didn't agree)

Now it may be down to the modern way of doing things, but during the 18 month house search I never once looked at the property section, only focusing on the popular websites such as rightmove and zoopla etc. But there it was a right little stunner , a little semi appeared - no no you you naughty lot, a two bedroom Semi detached modern house, in a private cul-de-sac, with stylish decor and a large conservatory. I headed straight to the website to see more pictures and I was in love, straight on to the phone I went to book a viewing the next day, I had such a sleepless night thinking about it. It didn't disappoint, I loved it, barely a thing needed doing to it and it was within budget.

This is where my Estate Agent experience came in, I made sure the sellers knew I liked it, there were no lies, but it was important they knew my interest as I knew I was one of 4 people viewing that day. upon leaving I rang the agents and put my offer in, but darn it they had already had 2 offers at full asking price and we were required to go to a best & final offer which basically means you all put your best offer in and the seller then gets to decide.

I had enquired to my rivals position, there was a cash buyer & first time buying couple. I asked straight away could I book to see it again the next day, this time with my Mum. The second viewing really was my chance to impress upon the sellers that I loved the house, I needed them to buy in to me not just the money on the table, I couldn't stretch my mortgage anymore and their price was at the top of my budget, so an inspired moment came to me, my offer came with a combination of property price offer, but also a cash amount to buy some of the items that they were prepared to sell.

It suited us both as they didn't need them and I couldn't afford to buying everything from new. 24 hours later I was presented with the news that they had accepted my offer, despite the cash buyer offering more money and being able to proceed quicker, the sellers really liked me and wanted their house to fall in to good hands. So a big tip is to to make sure the sellers like you.

Patience was needed after this, we agreed on a 12 week exchange and completion, but they had complications with their purchase, for me this didn't matter too much, my excitement had to be reigned in, but it allowed me time to keep saving for the items I needed upon moving in, which at this point I would also recommend for any electrical or big items you try and buy with a credit card as it will extend the warranty which is always a good thing.

It eventually took 5 months and I was in at the start of the Summer, its at this point I would advise keeping on top of your solicitors, I don't wish to berate a particular industry but I have found that they just go at their own pace and need constant prodding to chase things and equally to keep you in the loop of what is happening.

What I can say is that moment when you finally get the keys and open to door in to your own house is  a sensational feeling. There was nothing like having a first night building furniture with my Mum and my friends, having a few beers and the customary fish & chips out of the bag. Hopefully some of these tips and my experience have helped for anyone going through the house buying experience.

Next up will be my guide to buying a new build property along with the selling part too.

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