Category Archives: Featured

Getting Your Home In Shape To Overcome Mobility Issues

Despite all of the intentions of humanity, the aging process is something which we cannot avoid and each of us will go through it at some point during our lives. The level at which we slow down will be different for everyone of course, but sooner or later it will start to become more difficult to get around like we once could.

When mobility starts to become a problem, it does not mean that you can’t still lead the life that you previously could, especially around the home. For those with mobility issues however, it is important that adaptations are made in the home, in order to aid us in our daily lives. There are lots of great tools, gadgets and installations which you can make around the home to help you with your mobility, and here are some which you should look to add.

Stairlift

Unless you live in a single floor home, getting up and down the stairs can be troublesome once you have developed mobility problems. Even if you are still able to get upstairs and back down again, you could be putting unnecessary pressure on your bones and joints. The perfect solution to this is to have a stairlift installed in the home. These machines are super simple and all they require from you is that you sit in the chair and press the button on the remote to his you up and down. Contrary to what you may think, the cost of a stair lift is not what it once was and you can now have one installed for a very reasonable price.

Grabber

One of the most treasured tools which my Granny uses was a present which we bought for her last year, a grabber. This may not be the technical name for it but a litter picker just doesn’t seem right given the context. Initially my Granny was having problems picking things up from the floor, so this was the perfect tool for her. Over time however, my Granny found a great many uses for this device such as opening and closing curtains, and shutting doors. This is a great device which is low cost and makes a big difference in your daily life.

Trolley

Getting yourself around the house is one thing, but doing so when you are carrying an item can be far more difficult, and you could run the risk of falling and causing damage. A great solution to this  problem is to buy a trolley with 2 front wheels. The trolley is not only great in terms of carrying things like a plate of food from the kitchen to the living room, but you can also use it to support yourself as you go. What this piece of kit does is to combine a moving table with a zimmer frame providing you with plenty of support, and the perfect vessel to carry things around the home.

Don’t be beaten by mobility issues, take action and make you life easier.

It’s never too late to travel. Here’s why…

If you have ever thought that your days of traveling are over or that you have missed the chance to see the world because of your age, it is time that you started to change your opinion. Traveling has no age limit, there are no requirements on how much experience you have or may not have and the simple fact is that if you have the desire to travel, then you need to do it.

Across  the world there are thousands of people on the road just like you who are perhaps there later years or have decided to travel years after the ‘normal’ travel age. If you need any more convincing, here is exactly why it is never too late to travel.

Parties and Budget Living

When most people think of travel or backpacking, they think of the youngsters out there who are living on a shoestring and spending their evenings partying. A certain romance has been attached to this way of living and many are fooled into thinking that it is the only way to travel. In truth, these youngsters miss 90% of what traveling is about when it comes to exploring other countries and cultures and they arrive home with nothing but stories of hair raising adventures and hangovers. You have the chance to really see the world without living this lifestyle, remember that just because you go to a country, does not mean you have lived it.

Better Appreciation

As you age, you gain a finer appreciation of the differences between people from different countries, you have a greater interest for their history and their culture and you will actually find yourself in a far better position than someone younger than yourself, to relate to cultures around the world.If you have kids for example then you are likely to look on parents from around the world in a different way that you would have done when you were younger. This higher level of appreciation means that you can enjoy traveling far more.

Opening Your Mind

It can be easy to get stuck in your ways after a certain amount of time and stop challenging yourself to be creative and look past the norm. Whilst traveling opens up young people’s minds it will also do the same for you and you will come home with renewed vigor and a very different take on the world than before you left.

Health

Believe it or not, traveling is good for your health and this who go traveling have been shown to live a little bit longer than those who do not do so frequently. When you travel, you spend much more time outdoors and much more things doing exercise such as walking, hiking and other activities which you may take part in. Travel can also help you with infections as you will be exposing yourself to different types of bacteria which your body can use to strengthen your immune system in the future.

If you thought it was to late to travel, think again!

The best food Italy has to offer

Unfortunately there are many foods around the world that have not exported very well when they have left their country of origin. Mexican food for example is nothing like what you think it is when you actually visit Mexico and it is tough to understand why the Tex-Mex variety that we eat, is more popular than the original, and beautiful traditional Mexican cuisine.

Another victim of this is Italian food and somehow the world got the notion that what makes Italian cuisine is nothing more than pizza and pasta. I always find this interesting because when you actually travel to Italy, you will soon realize that their cuisine is about much, much more than just what you can find in a store in the USA. I wanted therefore to give you some Italian foods which I fell in love with during my time in Tuscany and Rome, and why you must try them.

Ribollita

Like many delicious foods around the world, this meal actually started out as being considered a poor man’s food. Back when people had servants , the servants would collect the unfinished bread of their masters and the vegetables which were left on the plate. They would build the bread and vegetables in water and then eat it for their own meal. Thankfully the making of the dish are now a little cleaner but the origin is the same and the flavors and texture of this meal are simply beautiful.

Tortellini en Brodo

This is a real staple dish in northern Italy and it is often enjoyed during the holidays in the country. Unlike with most tortellini dishes which are coated in thick and creamy sauce or served with a ragu, tortellini en brodo sees the tortellini floating in a chicken broth. This is a dish which reminds me a little of an Italina wonton soup and the mixture of veal broth with fresh pasta pieces and some Parmesan makes this a delicious dish which you simply must try.

Osso busco alla Milanese

I am a big meat lover and so I was over the moon when I saw this delicious meal on the menu. This is a dish which uses veal shanks, far more popular in Italy than anywhere that I have visited, which are braised slowly and then served with a sauce of white wine and vegetables and a side helping of gremolata which is a rich and garlicky sauce. This is a dish that keeps on giving an just as you reach the end of the meal, you will find some little nugget of meat inside the veal bone which have been coated in the succulent sauce.

I absolutely adore Italian food and when you are actually there, you get to taste all of the flavors and the ingredients which have been added to your dish, much more than I can say for any Italian meal which I have eaten elsewhere. When you visit Italy you will see that it is not just the food which tastes good but the entire culture around food is avery healthy and vibrant one and you won’t want to stop eating when you get there!

5 things to eat in France

I have never really sampled much French cuisine but I was really looking forward to doing just that last month when I went to Paris for the first time. Unlike with other countries like Italy and Mexico, I honestly didn’t know what kind of food to expect and in truth I as absolutely blown away by what I tried during my time in the country.

I wanted to share with you then, my top 5 dishes which I think that you simply must try if you happen to be visiting France.

Croque-Monsieur

I don’t want to say that this is just a beautiful and ornate grilled ham and cheese sandwich, but the truth is that this is a beautiful and ornate grilled ham and cheese sandwich. The difference however between eating it in a French bistro and eating it in your kitchen back home, is the quality. Not only is the cheese tastier and gooier but the ham is thick and tasty and the bread is far more beautiful than anything you could buy in a store.

Duck Confit

This was perhaps the only French dish which I had heard about prior to my visit to the French capital and it was actually the first thing that I ate when I arrived. I learned that they actually devised this dish as a way of cooking duck so that it could be used in the future and what they do is cook duck thighs in their own fat so that they stay moist and juicy. Thankfully someone realized just how tasty they were straight away and the dish was born. The best place to eat the dish is in the Southwest of France and the blend of crispy skin and soft, succulent meat is just mouthwatering.

Croissant

You have not eaten a croissant until you have eaten one in Paris and the difference in quality and flavor is gargantuan. The freshness and crispiness of the croissants here has to be tried to be believed and it is no surprise that croissant chefs must train for years before they are allowed to make their own.

Paris-Brest

Interestingly, this dish is named after traditional bicycle race which takes place between Paris and the north of Brittany in Brest. You will find this little beauty in the patisseries and it is round piece of soft chop pastry which has been filled with praline buttercream with caramelized almonds on top, there is nothing better to eat with your fresh coffee than this masterpiece.

Crepes

They may not be the most impressive haute-cuisine but the crepes which you can find in Paris are absolutely breathtaking and well worth a mention on this list. I don’t know if it is the batter, the cooking method, the fresh ingredients or a combination of the three but the crepes here taste like nothing you’ve ever tried before and I more than had my fill of them during my time in France.

The best hiking shoes – my advice

There are fewer things that put you in touch with nature quite like a good hike and I have spent at least 2 or 3 weeks each year for the  last 10, on hiking trips around the world. I love to explore anyway and hiking enables you the complete freedom to discover the world around you in a way that car, bike and air travel simply cannot.

I always focus very heavily on what I buy when it comes to my hiking equipment and after many years of making mistakes in terms of what I took with me, I now have this down to a fine art. One such decision that I always find tough, is which hiking shoes to buy and it has only been very recently that I have got this decision just right. If you are in the market for some hiking shoes, here are the most important things that you need to consider before you even look at brands or models.

Size

Picking the size of your hiking shoes is not like when you shop for trainers or boots, where you can give yourself a little leeway, hiking shoes have to be just right. If you allow for space at the front or the sides then your feet will be moving around a great deal as you walk and this means blisters, something which could potentially ruin your trip altogether. If you have hiking shoes which are too tight, you will do terrible damage to your feet and end up with any number of problems. The reason why this is so difficult to gauge is that as you walk, your feet will swell so you must have a little bit of room free to allow for this. Try to find hiking boots which have around 0.5 centimeter of space on each side, this should be enough to give you feet space to swell and avoid them being too loose.

Design

Honestly, unless you are an Instagrammer looking for likes, leave the fashion choices at the door when you are picking your hiking boots. First of all you will usually find that the prettier the boots, the worse that they are and it is far better to focus on practicality rather than fashion. The second point to make is that even if you get some beautiful boots which fit like a glove, they won’t stay beautiful for very long once you hit the mud, dust and water.

Tough Decisions

When you are hiking, your feet are the most important part of the operation and you should look after them at all costs. If you have spent a pretty penny on some comfortable and durable hiking boots, and then after your first hike you realize that they are not suited to you, it is time to sell them. This is not easy to accept but the truth is that you don’t know how good the boots are until you have tested them. If you are not ruthless in this decision, you will only cause yourself more problems in the future.

Spend time on making the right choice and accept that you may not get it right first time.

 

I Left my Heart in Cuba

I had wanted to go to Cuba ever since my communist revolutionary phase that I went through as a youngster. Thankfully I left that phase behind but I never lost the desire to go to Cuba and last year I was fortunate enough to make that dream a reality. I had really wanted to visit Cuba before it was open to the whole of the US because I had read some pretty scary thing about what business people were planning to do there, and I wanted to see the Cuba that I had read about, not one with Starbucks and hotels.

Thankfully Cuba was everything that I had hoped it owed be and I can honestly say that I left my heart there, and here is why.

Che Guevara

Whatever your opinion on Che may be, you can’t deny that he was a very important person in the history of Cuba and whether you think he was a terrorist or a revolutionary, he was after all and icon. Walking in the footsteps of Che was pretty magical and from the murals on walls throughout the country, and visiting his old house, I absolutely loved seeing all of this evidence of my one-time hero.

Unchained

Because of the way in which Cuba operates, there are no bar or restaurant chains which means that every time you go out to eat you are guaranteed a different experience. In my view this was a huge positive because there are no rules on how food should be served or how places should look which really lends itself to the restaurant owners getting creative.

Music

You don’t have to travel too far in Cuba to hear some local music or even just a guy playing the guitar in the street. What I loved most about this is that instead of walking past the music like we would do in most countries in the world, the locals immediately start to dance and sing to whatever is playing.

Beaches

For some reason many people overlook the beaches in Cuba and instead focus on the way of life and the way in which the government has shaped the island, I prefer to do both. The beaches throughout the country are spectacular and whether you are in the city or out in the sticks, you can find golden sand and crashing waves which instantly relax you.

The People

I wasn’t sure what the Cubans would make of tourists, I know that tourism isn’t new but I had notions that there would be some kind of isolation mentality, I was very wrong. In truth the people were kind, welcoming and incredibly hospitable and I would return to Cuba for the locals alone. Whether I was in a bar, a restaurant, a shop or the street, everyone said hello, asked where I was fro and were dying to now what I thought about the place that they call home. Super friendly locals always make for a better trip and that’s exactly what you’ll get in Cuba.

Why I could live in Costa Rica

Last year I went with some buddies on a surf tour around Costa Rica and I immediately fell in love with the place. I know that this may sound as though I had  good time on my vacation and therefore think I could live there but the truth is that I saw more than enough of how this place works and operates, to believe that I could comfortably set up home there.

There are many ex-pats living throughout Costa Rica, they all seem to be very happy with their decision to move and here is why I think that I could comfortably join them one day.

Nature

The biggest draws of the country is the incredible nature which they have on offer and what I loved about it in particular was that it exists everywhere. I know that ‘nature’ exists everywhere but I am talking about incredible and varied natural settings which you find throughout Costa Rica. You don’t have to go very far to find yourself in the thick of the rainforest, surrounded by indigenous wildlife and miles away from the ‘real world’.

Weather

The weather here is pretty much always hot and sunny and even though there is a bit of humidity, I could definitely get used to the hot climate here. We did get caught in one rainstorm during our time here and when it rains, it really rains, I think however that the infrequent nature of the rain means that it would never really cause a problem.

Eco-Conscious

The Costa Rican government really do have eco-friendliness on their minds and the country is around 80% efficient, way more than any other country in the world. I am very environmentally conscious myself and I think that this way of life could really be attractive to someone like me. I love the fact that this is something which exists throughout the country and their focus on conservation and bio-diversity is something which makes the country highly appealing.

Adventure

Not only is this one of the best countries in the world that I have ever surfed in, it is also jam-packed with lots of other activities and for someone like me, this is absolutely perfect. I love the great outdoors and whether I am kayaking, climbing, caving or surfing, these kids of activities really make me happy. I love the wide range of activities that exist here and if I were to live here, I would most certainly spend a lot of my time getting active around the country.

Safety

If I were to bring my wife and young child down here I would need to ensure that they would be safe and the crime figures in Costa Rica most definitely suggest that they would be. I have rarely seen or heard about any high crime rates here and I felt extremely safe throughout my time in the country. Sometimes one needs to be a little pragmatic and safety is a high concern for anyone with a family, thankfully this seems like a really safe and secure nation.

5 Tips for traveling solo as a female

If you are considering solo travel as a female but you have been put off by the scaremongering and horror stories which you may have heard, it is time to rethink your approach. Let’s not sugarcoat it though, traveling as a female on your own is unfortunately very different to traveling as a male and there are additional precautions which you need to take.

Thankfully, in over 10 years of traveling solo, I have never ran into any real trouble and I like to think that this is because of the smart and sensible approach which I have always had. If you are thinking about going traveling on your own, here are 5 top tips to take with you.

Communication

The first step is to make sure that someone back home always knows where you are and when. Make sure that before you travel that a family member or friend has your itinerary and that you check in with them as you leave and arrive at your destination. This may strip away some of the freedom element that travel gives you but it will make sure that you can stay safe, and that if you aren’t, someone will be quick to realize it.

Stay in Groups

If you are worried that you may be in danger or even if you feel slightly uneasy in a particular place, make sure that you tag on to, or at least stay near, bug groups of people. Something bad is far less likely to happen if you are in big groups and doing so will discourage anyone who was perhaps looking to cause you harm.

Dress Smart

I don’t agree at all with the “she was attacked because of the way that she was dressed” opinion, but it does make sense to review how you are dressed depending on where you are. For example, I would never walk through the middle of Calcutta wearing a short dress and plunging neckline as I know that the men there see this as an invitation. The key to dressing abroad is to try your best to blend in, the more that you stand out, the more of a target you become.

Always Know Where You Are Going

Before you set off for a new location, make sure that you know exactly how to get there as nothing screams victim more than you standing on a street corner with a map in your hand. What you are looking for when you travel is to become one of the crowd as often as possible and you should know exactly where you are going at all times. IF you do get stuck, head into a coffee shop bathroom or something similar and have a quick check of your map, whatever you do, don’t do so in public.

Hotel Salvation

Make sure that your hotel is not in a sketchy area or and isolated location before you book. Equally if you are heading to a city which is potentially dangerous, don’t be frightened to spend a little extra on getting a nice and secure hotel. The hotel could prove to be your sanctuary if things get dangerous and you will be thankful that you spent the extra.

Don’t worry too much about traveling alone, whilst there are dangers, being smart will keep you away from them.

Traveling in your 40s, why it’s the best time!

Please don’t ever think that you are too old to travel just because you are in your forties, I once thought that and I couldn’t have been more wrong. When I speak about travel I am not talking about a 2 week break to get some sunshine and dip in the sea, I mean real travel, seeing new cultures, new sights and new countries.

Having traveled as both a youngster and someone in their forties, I can honestly say that traveling at the age which I am now, 46, is the most fun that I have ever had and the youngsters housed envy me, not the other way around. If you are over 40 and think that traveling isn’t for you, here is where you are wrong.

Higher Appreciation

When you travel as a kid you don’t really grasp the importance of what you are seeing and things become more about the party element and the freedom of travel, rather than the discovery of new and exciting things. I have never been one to enjoy museums but as someone who is older, I can appreciate these things much more. I also feel as though I can relate to more things that I see than when I was younger and this is a real benefit to traveling as an older person.

More Money

When you are young, money doesn’t really mean very much to you and the consequence of this is that you invariably do not have much of it. I was always of the opinion that experiences were worth more than money was and whilst I still believe this, I also understand that it takes money to have such experiences. I have found that traveling in my forties is much easier because I have more money with which to travel and enjoy new experiences whereas in the past I would have had to say no to many opportunities.

Healthier

It doesn’t matter who you are or what kind of life you have lived, once you get over forty, your body just isn’t the same anymore and it loves nothing more than reminding you of this fact each day. I have found however, that since I have been traveling, I always feel fitter and healthier when I return than I did before I left. When you travel you are almost always on the go and this really helps the body to feel good, hit the road in your forties and you will feel like a new person when you return.

Less Risk

Although the odd scrape or two does make for a great travel story, I prefer to live a life without risk these days and that means that fewer things can go wrong on the road. When things go wrong on the road it either ends up costing you more money or you end up in the doctor’s surgery. Thankfully I am a bit smarter now than I used to be and this means that I avoid such problems because of my mature and risk averse nature.

Don’t feel bad that you are forty, embrace it and hit the road!