Wednesday 28 November 2018

Weird and Wonderful Things About Flats!

By 2050 the global population is predicted to rise from 7.6 billion to 9.8 billion it's a staggering number isn't it, and with two thirds of us are expected to be living in cities by then, it’s highly likely that we’ll have to get used to living in close proximity to us neighbours, fingers crossed that we all get on!

Many people live in flats which account for a large proportion of homes in the UK.  The Government estimates that there are around 2.75m private leasehold flats in England – roughly an eighth of all dwellings – and this figure doesn’t actually include Scotland and Wales.

So when the blocks of flats insurance specialist Deacon Insurance told us 10 weird and wonderful things about flats past, present and future, it seemed crazy not to share them with you! I love facts and interesting pieces of history so please read on for more!

1 The Romans built the first flats
Did you know that it was the Romans who built the first flats, who knew!  From the middle of the first century BC, Rome’s success led to an impressive population growth. Housing was a big challenge, and to meet it the Romans learnt to build higher and stronger structures.  The use of concrete, based on lime and volcanic sand, allowed them to create new architectural forms, while a standardised brick allowed for speedy and reliable construction.  Their early multi-storey blocks, most with shops on the ground floor, and flats on two or more floors above, were called insula or "islands". This was because they often occupied a whole entire city block, with roads flowing around like the sea. Wow!

2 Forest flats.
There are two apartment buildings in the heart of Milan where trees sway on balconies and sunshine touches the leaves of thousands of plants creating a vertical forest.  This is the brainchild of Milanese architect Stefano Boeri, the Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) uses more than 20,000 trees and plants to adorn the high-rise buildings from top to bottom – a project now being exported all over the world, from China to the Netherlands.   Few people would deny that trees are good for cities and the people that live in them – so more power to his elbow. How gorgeous do these look?

3 Forgotten for 70 years
This is one of those stories that just has to be read to be believed.  Way back in 1934 and before the outbreak of hostilities of WWII, a famous actress called Marthe de Florian fled her Paris apartment for the south of France – and she never returned.  Nothing remarkable in that, but what is extraordinary is that the owner of the building never noticed!  When he finally died in 2010, the experts called in to assess the value of his estate stumbled across a scene that was frozen in time.  The flat was just as it had been left, untouched by time! How unbelievable is that.

4 Shapeshifters
It may sound like the thing of science fiction, but the world’s first shape shifting rotating tower block is set for Dubai by 2020 according to architectural firm Dynamic Group. How things evolve, I would love to see it!

5 Recycling on a gigantic scale
Some of the biggest re-cycling projects of the millennium are taking place in our inner cities, familiar buildings are being saved from demolition or neglect by being converted into flats.  This is great as it means the original character and features of what are often landmark buildings are preserved. The BBC Television Centre at White City is one example, as is Battersea Power Station and the Hoover Building in London.  The first residential tower block in the UK, "The Lawn", was constructed in Harlow, Essex in 1951.  It too is now a Grade II listed building.  Conversions are taking place across the country and there seems to be no shortage of buyers for urban loft apartments in prime city centre locations, so expect the trend to continue.

6 That whistle in your apartment block is a train coming through!
Chinese planners didn’t let a little thing like a railway get in the way of the need to build more flats in the emerging mega-city of Chongqing. The train line simply goes straight through the residential building! Pretty crazy!

7 Tallest, Smallest, Largest – where in the world?!
Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest skyscraper in the world standing at 72 metres high, but that is set to change.  In the near future, 2020 in fact the 1000 metre mile high Jeddah Tower, with serviced apartments, is set to claim the prize of being the world’s tallest building..... well for a little while anyway. While in the Chinese city of Wuhan, with serious concerns of overpopulation looming, they've gone tiny.  The city has built two person apartments that are only 50 square feet!  But when it comes to the largest, then first prize has to go to The Copan Building in São Paulo, familiar to Sim City players as a building they can drop in.  The 38-story residential building comprises over 1,160 apartment units and is home to more than and 5,000 residents!

 8 Going underground and underwater?
It seems like the stuff of science fiction but architects are looking seriously at the possibilities of building down rather than up! Sounds crazy doesn't it?! As long ago as 2011 a so-called Earthscraper for Mexico City was mooted, a 35-storey upside down pyramid.  The concept is still on the drawing board, with a host of practical and structural challenges to overcome, and the Mexico City proposal is still the only plan to have been seriously put forward.  And with 70% of the earth’s surface covered by water, surely underwater cities are next? Sure enough, Aequorea, a visionary city that would be built off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, has been proposed.

9 Most expensive
It’s no surprise at all that London ranks No.2 in the world for the highest cost of a city centre flat , second only to Hong Kong, but how does the cost of living vary within the UK?  MSN Money took a look at the different costs of living in UK cities , with housing the major component. Not surprisingly London came out top, where you need £7090 a month to live a comfortable life. Oxford, Edinburgh and Brighton came next at around £5000 a month. Ouch!  Of course, you can choose to commute and halve your living costs. Southampton residents need ‘only’ about £3000 a month, for example, although after years of rail strikes and woes, that could be cold comfort.  If money were no object? Oh if only!  The UK's most expensive flat was valued in October 2018 at £160 million.  It's address?  One Hyde Park, London. SW1 one of the most sought after postcodes!

10  The last word…..the legacy of feudalism
People are often amazed to learn that, in this day and age, it is still possible to lose your flat and be left with nothing if you break the terms of the lease or don’t pay service charges. That applies no matter how long you’ve been paying your mortgage or service charges. Realistically, it’s become harder over the years for a freeholder (also known as the landlord) to get you out and claim the flat, but it can happen.  Where did such a feudal practice come from?  Land law in Britain owes much to the feudal system that developed following the Norman Conquest with the rights to grant inferior interests (aka leases) in land and to take income from these.  By the 16th century, the law of leases in England and Wales had morphed into a very confusing system, and an attempt to tackle this was the Law of Property Acts 1925, which limited ownership to either freehold or leasehold, which is pretty much where we are today.  Interestingly, covenants on freehold property only define what you cannot do. On leasehold they can also say what you must do, for example, pay for the upkeep of an asset still ultimately owned by the freeholder!  It’s all very different in Scotland, where no duty to pay ‘feu duty’ - the equivalent of ground rent - could be set up after 1974, and no residential lease for more than 20 years could be created.  The feudal structure was finally abolished in Scotland in 2004 and further laws since have converted long leases over 175 years into straightforward ownership. 

* Deacon has specialised in providing buildings insurance and associated products for flats and apartments for more than 29 years. Find out more at

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Desenio Posters *Review*

After recently redecorating our kitchen it seemed the ideal time to add some new artwork to the walls. I am forever looking for unique and fun pictures, prints or posters to add an extra dimension to our house. Scattered within lots of my photo memories I have several cool and quirky images that I've collected over the last few years. It's what makes a house a home!

I was recently offered the opportunity to choose some posters to review from Desenio, one of the most brilliant poster online shops ever! I am very much into black and white at the moment so I did have an idea as to what I was looking for, I managed to find just what I wanted after a very long time browsing all that is on offer, I just couldn't decide!

There is something for everyone at Desenio, there is a fabulous amount of posters to choose from whether you are wanting quotes, pictures, iconic legends, animals, children's prints or even maps and cities ...... the possibilities are endless. I knew I wanted something fairly simple but with an impact for downstairs and pink and flowery for in our bedroom. From black, to coloured, to black and white, to muted colours to metallic, the choices are really epic. I was spoilt for choice. I spent alot of time browsing the bestsellers to give me an idea of what I wanted.

My poster choices pretty much encapsulate my personality and how I like my house to be...... pink, quotes, flowers and a little bit fun. When my posters arrived, which was super quickly I'd like to add, they were packaged well and all in one piece and non of the frames damaged in any way. I couldn't wait to get them on the wall and display them.

I chose for the kitchen and dining room a selection of quotes, a spiky pineapple and some delicious macaroons. The Chanel quote has to be one of my favourite's! For the bedroom I chose 2 decadent and sultry boudoir posters, a fanciable feather poster and a stunning peony flower to tie in with my metallic peony wallpaper. They are a beautiful addition to my bedroom.

I chose a variety of sizes with the biggest being in our room, these are 50x70 and look absolutely stunning. The ones for downstairs are a range of sizes. The posters also vary greatly starting from £2.95. The website was easy to navigate and the ordering process simple, email correspondence was fantastic and I was kept up to date with the processing of the order. The items were shipped in super quick time and arrived quickly, well packaged and un-damaged. I couldn't fault it in the slightest.

These posters would be ideal gift for Christmas, birthday, anniversary or house warming. They are lovely and so many options to choose from. To celebrate these lovely posters I have a very special code to use on the website for the next 2 days only! Please see below for further information.

“The code “HELSY1983” gives 25% off posters* on all of our sites between November 27th and 29th. 
*Except for frames and  handpicked-/collaboration posters".

Monday 26 November 2018

Peppa's Secret Surprise! *Review*

Surprise toys are HUGE at the moment, if you're not aware of this craze where on earth have you been? The notion is very simple, it's almost a bit like pass the parcel with a new gift, toy or accessory to be discovered within blind bags it's the gift that keeps on giving. NEWLY launched is the Peppa Secret Surprise, aimed at pre schoolers it's a party cube of surprises that children will love! 

We were recently sent two of the Secret Surprise boxes in anticipation for the launch and Elarna was SO excited, she absolutely loves cheeky Peppa and has several Peppa toys so I can't begin to explain how thrilled she was to receive these. Inside our little Peppa party box were two of the cubes and some party accessories so we could celebrate with a bang! It was all very exciting!

The little surprise boxes come beautifully wrapped like birthday gifts which is apt as the theme of these current boxes is party themed with yellow boxes and party accessories. Ensuring collections are kept fresh there will be new series of the boxes in 2019 which will feature different coloured boxes and a brand new theme of figures and accessories to add to the collection.

Elarna was so excited to see what it was all about. Although blind bags and surprise toys aren't a new thing to her I think the Peppa Peg theme really enticed her and made it all the more exciting. 

The cube shaped gift box hides lots of surprises, once unwrapped within the cube are 6 little drawers hiding all the excitement. Within the drawers are five blind bagged toys and within the 6 a fun sticker sheet. As you can see from the pictures below the cubes are big enough to fit inside an adult hand, they are a nice size and brilliant fun. We struggled a little to open the drawers as they were a little stiff but once inside the blind bags were well received!

Children will be able to find all the popular characters from the TV show such as Peppa, Suzy Sheep, Zoe Zebra and Rebecca Rabbit as well as party hats, fun accessories and a party gift box and more. I love that there are so many things to find, there are lots of accessories to find such as crowns, party hats, wings and more.

Of course the best bit is unwrapping the box and searching for the drawers which are quite disguised adding to the playability of the toy. Once you open the drawers you find the goodies, I did notice that the drawers are numbered so you could open them in numeric order but it doesn't overly matter as the end goal is the same!

We really loved the cube, the little drawers add an extra dimension to the blind bagged surprises and the items that you can find are great, the sticker sheets were a nice a added extra too. For £9.99 these are a brilliant price, I'm hoping that I can get another for Elarna as another extra little Christmas gift. The only negative I could possibly find is as mentioned above the drawers are a little stiff and I did have to help Elarna open them, I also think it's a slight shame that the cube itself can't be used as something like a house or more of a storage cube or even an add on toy. I'm a bit clueless with what to do with the cube but I'm loathed to throw it out!

So just to round up, what did we love: 

- Fabulous price for a surprise toy, a great Christmas for gift that any Peppa fan will love.

- The figures are the perfect size to use in current Peppa toys.

- The surprise gift that keeps on giving!

- Lots of figures and accessories to find

- New ranges will be added in 2019 to keep the item fresh and exciting

Anything we weren't so keen on?

- Stiff drawers, hard for little hands to open

- Unsure what to use the yellow cube for afterwards? Any suggestions?

Here is the full selection of the items that were inside in the you can see a lovely lot (you may notice I thought the item that was a crown on Peppa's head is actually not it's a cape haha, but never mind!). We got a great selection and Elarna was over the moon with receiving Zoe Zebra in hers! She also loved the glittery bits that were featured, lovely added touch.

These would make a brilliant Christmas or birthday gift and for £9.99 I think this is a very reasonable price. Available from leading retailers and for information head over to A must for any Peppa fan!

* Please note we were kindly sent the item free of charge in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are our own.

Thursday 22 November 2018

My Dream Bedroom Designed by Alfie....

Imagine asking a 6 year old child to design their own bedroom. No boundaries, no rules just their imagination free to run wild and be allowed to create their ultimate bedroom. Homelet Insurance challenged us to come up with a dream bedroom so I asked Alfie,my eldest son to get his creative head on and to come up with his ultimate dream bedroom. I kind of guessed what route he would go down, it was either going to be animals, reptiles or dinosaurs and he did indeed to choose down the tropical route.  It was all centred around one particular animal.......can you guess what it might be?

Yup you guessed it..... his dream bedroom would be a snake bedroom! Eek! I think this is all influenced by the fact we actually do have a real, live snake, a cornsnake called Crossbones (don't ask!). He's currently kept in our study, out of the way of prying eyes and noisy children but Alfie is desperate to have him in his bedroom - something that I'm not too sure about at present! 

It came as no surprise really, the boy is reptile, particularly snake mad. He just is obsessed with them so when I saw his drawing of his dream bedroom it was exactly what I would have imagined him asking for. He was very specific with his requests about the room as I'm sure you can imagine from a 6 year old.....

First up, apart from moving Crossbones in his room he was very sure about the colour of his room, bright green and dark green were the colour he wanted his walls, he also wanted a rainforest mural to be a big part as a feature wall. The walls also need some bright, glow up the dark painted stars on so that all his snake friends can see in the night! He told me that he'd like to keep his cabin bed so that Crossbones can fit underneath it and then he can decorate his bed with loads of toy snakes and green leaves to make it look like a jungle. 

He also wanted to have a 'jungle canopy' I wasn't entirely sure what he meant by this but it looks like he's coloured it green on the picture so I guess it is to add to the aesthetics of the room! He also requested a slide like a snake....helter skelter anyone? How awesome would that be though, a snake themed helter skelter in a bedroom, very cool. 

He also requested a snake themed ladder to climb into the bed,  a jungle themed bookcase (to store all his Steve Backshall and reptile books in!) and a plethora of different soft toy snakes, oh and tarantula's....these do feature in Alfie's wish list on a day to day basis but myself and my husband sadly despise spiders so this is a no go, the closest he would get to having a spider is his remote control spider and his soft, cuddly spider toy!

Overall this really would be Alfie's dream room, I know that if he actually had a room that resembled a jungle/rainforest filled with reptile related items he would be in his element, probably the happiest boy alive! If you have fancy getting involved with dream bedroom fun use the hashtag #MyDreamBedroom over on social media to join the fun. What would your dream bedroom be?

* In collaboration with Homelet. 

Monday 19 November 2018

'My Special Day' Baby Annabell Doll *Review*

Dollies seem to be taking over our house, Elarna can't get enough if looking after them. She'd love to be a big sister but at the moment this as good as it will get! I love watching Elarna being so caring and doting upon her dolls, it's so lovely to watch and it's something I like to encourage to ensure she continues to nurture and care throughout her life. 

Elarna was very lucky to be sent the beautiful 'My Special Day' edition of Baby Annabell (RRP £64.99). This very special celebration version of Baby Annabell is so gorgeous, she comes dressed in a very pretty party dress and booties, hat and cardigan, comes with a cupcakes, plates, a selection of cake toppers, bottle and dummy.

Baby Annabell is a fab little doll, she cleverly reacts to touch and movement, I have to say she's really quite realistic to an actual baby, weight wise not so much as that would make her pretty heavy for a small child to hold but in size is  fairly accurate I would say to a small newborn. You can hold her over your shoulder and she'll calm and gurgle, she makes cute little baby noises, cries and sucks realistically on her dummy and bottle. She also cries real tears (although I've not noticed this feature) and also pee's on the potty - clever dolly!

She has big, beautiful blue eyes and a lovely little face, Elarna just adores her. I loved the accessories that she comes with, the added extras of the plates and cupcakes and decorations really enhances the role play aspect of the doll. Elarna is a three year old who adores role playing and especially when tea parties are involved. I can't tell you how much pretend tea and cake we have had with Baby Annabell! Also (although I'm not sure if Elarna is supposed to do this!), the cupcakes do come apart and she had a great time clipping them back together again and adding the variety of little cake decorations on.

What did we love?

- As always with Zapf Creations products, beautifully presented and thoughtful little touches with the cupcakes, decorations and plates

- Great product for encouraging caring and nurturing behaviour and for teaching responsibility

- Great interaction from the doll, we love the amount of different movements and sounds she produces

- A lovely addition to the Baby Annabell range, a welcome addition to the Blogging Beautifully household

- We love here outfit and it's a bonus that it comes off and you can change her into something else if you have any other outfits

- Would make a wonderful Christmas gift, perfect for a young child who either loves dolls or for an introduction to dolls

Anything we weren't so keen on?

Mostly we loved it! There was very little that we disliked.

- The price is slightly steep, however she is on offer at the moment at a couple of retailers so I would recommended buying now!

- There are small parts so definitely aimed at age 3 years +

Here are a few photos of Elarna absolutely loving Annabell, have you ever seen a girl so pleased and happy to have a new baby to cuddle and play with?! I really can't express how much she enjoys being a 'Mummy', she constantly wants to get Alfie involved to play with dollies and sometimes he does but sometimes he really doesn't want to join in but when they do play together it's really lovely to watch.

Overall we can't recommend this lovely My Special Day Baby Annabell enough. She's lovely to hold, has a super pretty outfit and great accessories and is a wonderful addition to Elarna's doll collection.

Baby Annabell is available from many leading retailers and as mentioned above  the price of My Special Day is around £65.00 but there are a few offers around at the moment. We love Baby Annabell! the moment :
£2.50 from the sale of every Baby Annabell® My Special Day doll (RRP £64.99) at Smyths Toys Superstores within the UK from October – April will go towards a donation to Barnardo’s.
For ages 3+

* We were kindly sent a Baby Annabell in exchange for an honest and unbiased review, all thoughts are my own.