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How To Beat The January Blues

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Blue Monday is the 3rd Monday in the month of January. If you haven't heard of blue Monday before or have no idea what it is well it's supposed to be the day when we can get very sad and down in the dumps. It's not surprising really because January is probably the worst month of the year as it's the month after all the Christmas festivities and there is not much to look forward to. If you are feeling a little blue today then read our tips on how to beat the January blues.

a path through the woods


Get Outside
On these darker days its only natural to want to stay inside and curl up on the sofa however it is best to try and head outside for some fresh air. if you can. Going for a walk and getting some light can make us feel a whole lot better. In between Christmas and New Year we went out to the park a few times and it really did help. Just that bit of fresh air cleared our minds and dusted off the cobwebs.

Go Shopping
Taking a trip to the shops in January can really help beat those 'down in the dumps' days. There are lots of January sale bargains still to be had out there and finding something you want or need at a reduced price can give you a lift that you need.

Disneyland Paris castle
Plan A Trip
After Christmas we all want something to look forward to so planning a trip is a great way to lift your spirits and have something planned in your diary. January is when I start browsing the Internet for cheap flights or breaks away, usually it involves a trip to Disney however we have already booked our Disneyland Paris trip this year. That doesn't mean though that I can't try and sneak another holiday in. 

Try Something New
January is the month for resolutions, aims and goals but they are usually made up of things we want to change about ourselves. Whether it is our weight, our job, our lack of exercise. However it would be nice for one of our aims or goals to be something positive. Think about something you've always wanted to do whether it's learn a new language or join a dance class and do it. It's good to try something new once in a while and get out of our comfort zones. One interesting idea would be to treat yourself with a fun and exciting experience - our friends from Experience Gifts have plenty to choose from! 

books

Me Time
We all need a little 'Me Time' however most of us tend to put others first and we forget about us. It's important to remember that we need time for ourselves away from busy work schedules and every day life. We need to make sure we take care of ourselves and January is the best time to start a new routine for ourselves whether it's a weekly pamper night, an early night or just curling up with that book that you've been meaning to read for a year. I am determined this year to read more and although last year I did pretty well since joining my book club

If you are suffering from the January blues this year just remember you are not alone. Most of us don't like January but its just one month out of twelve and thankfully it's almost over.

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Top 5 Most Luxurious Restaurants in London You Could Visit

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Disclosure - This is a collaborative post 

When it comes to enjoying a fine dining experience, there are plenty of excellent opportunities in London – and, with this in mind, we’ve outlined five of the most luxurious restaurants in London you could visit. After all, there’s a reason it’s so often considered one of the most luxurious and expensive cities in the world; and, with fine dining luxury restaurants like these, it’s definitely clear that London is home to multi-millionaires and billionaires alike.

london



The Top 5 Most Luxurious Restaurants in London You Could Visit
So, you’ve been looking for the most luxurious restaurants in and around London? Whether you’re looking for somewhere to spend an extra special evening, or if you’re simply curious about how the other half lives, we’ve come up with some of the top five most luxurious restaurants in London to help you find an effective solution overall.

The Ritz London in Mayfair
We’ve all heard of the Ritz. However, for so many of us, thoughts of actually dining in this fine establishment are the things of dreams. Indeed, with a single omelette at the Ritz potentially costing as much as £180 (it’s made from caviar, admittedly), it’s clear to see that this level of luxury is restricted to a very specific few. Indeed, you might need to win the lottery or come into a massive inheritance to enjoy a meal at the Ritz – but if you ever got the chance, it’s sure to be more than worth it.

Hide
As recommended by the Conde Nast Traveller, f you’re looking for a more soothing and calming dining experience, the Hide restaurant in Mayfair might be just the opportunity you need. In fact, though it’s the newest restaurant on this list, it achieved its first Michelin star within half a year of opening; as such, diners can expect a lot when visiting this truly unique, split-floor dining destination.

When visiting, you absolutely have to try the restaurant’s most iconic dish – the Nest Egg – to enjoy the full experience. An irresistibly rich blend of egg yolk, smoked butter, cream, and gently toasted mushrooms, it’s undeniable that the Hide restaurant has firmly established itself as one of the most luxurious and creative in all London – truly a destination for those wanting a luxury, millionaire-worthy dining experience.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsey
Gordon Ramsey – he’s a household name, and with this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the Restaurant Gordon Ramsey offers an equally unparalleled experience. In fact, the restaurant holds three Michelin stars and has done so continuously since 2001 – that’s over two decades!

One of the most notable features of the Restaurant Gordon Ramsey has to be its tiny size; in fact, with only 14 small tables, booking is irrefutably necessary to get a space. All the same, this small-scale experience ensures that every dish is finished to perfection without compromise, and all guests hence know they will be treated to a truly incomparable experience overall. 

Head Chef de Cuisine, Matt Abe, never fails to pull out all of the stops to impress diners, just as his predecessor Clare Smyth had done. It’s this dedication that ensures every dish is cooked to perfection, and diners hence head into the Restaurant Gordon Ramsey with some of the highest expectations possible.

La Dame de Pic
If you have been looking for a luxurious dining experience in London, chances are, you’ll struggle to find a location that’s more sophisticated or sensual than La Dame de Pic. Indeed, it may not be one you’ve heard of in passing, but La Dame de Pic is a truly iconic restaurant that’s in equal parts a restaurant as it is a fine work of art in its own right.

La Dame de Pic was launched by Anne-Sophie Pic, who came from a long line of Michelin-starred chefs and internationally acclaimed culinary experts. As such, her uncompromising dedication to quality ensures that every diner knows just what to expect when they walk through those majestic doors – and this ensures that La Dame de Pic surely deserves a spot on this list.

Sketch Lecture Room and Library
It might not be quite as iconic as the Ritz, but few locations offer quite the same luxury as the Sketch Lecture Room and Library. Indeed, designed with a palette of deep reds and creams, this stunning property was even listed in the Michelin guide 2020, and for good reason! 

The stunning Grade II listed architecture perfectly compliments the refined and sophisticated feel of the interior; from studded ivory leather walls to luxury velvets and silk, there’s no expense spared for this truly iconic property. As such, if you can afford the meal prices, few celebrations are quite the same as a meal at the Sketch Lecture Room and Library – and, with a full 7-course meal on offer, you certainly won’t leave feeling hungry.

There’s no shortage of fine dining opportunities in London. Nevertheless, choosing that one perfect restaurant can seem like a challenge, in many cases; still, today’s top five picks are surely among the most luxurious restaurants in the big city.

While their prices ensure they typically remain reserved for just millionaire lottery winners and CEOs, there’s still something quite magical about the thought alone. And, after all, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy some time in the big city with these five fine luxury restaurants, too; you might just need to sacrifice a large lump on your savings in exchange for these once-in-a-lifetime dining experiences.

Michelle
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A To Z Date Ideas

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I know it doesn't seem that long since Christmas but Valentines Day is just around the corner. One of resolutions last year was to make more time for each other, and spend time together as a couple. We did really well and managed lots of date days and nights. It's so nice to step away for life for even just a few hours and spend quality time with each other. This year we will be doing alphabet dating again (we did it a few years ago) The aim is to try and schedule at least 2 date days or nights in each month that begin with the letters of the alphabet, by the end of the year you will have completed 26 different days. It's a great way to think of new things to do together and if you need inspiration there are so many ideas. 

hands making heart shape
A
Afternoon Tea
Aquarium
Art Gallery
Arcade 
Air BnB

B
Bowling
Beach
Bike Ride
Bingo
Boat Ride
Bar Crawl
Baking


C
Cinema 
Clubbing
Casino
Concert
Comedy Club
Camping
Castle

D
Driving Experience
Dancing
Driving Range
Dinner Date
Double Date

man and woman in an escape room


E
Exercise Class
Explore A New City
Escape Room
Eat Out
Experience Day

F
Ferry Ride
Football
Foot Golf
Fish n Chips
Fishing
Film Night

G
Games Night
Golf
Ghost Walk
Glamping
Go Karts
Go Ape


H
Hiking
Horse Riding
Helicopter Ride
Hop On / Hop Off Bus

I
Ikea
Ice Skating
Ice Cream
Indoor Climbing

J
Jacuzzi
Jog
Jigsaw Puzzle
Junk Food Night

K
Kayaking
Karaoke Bar
Karting
Kite Flying

L
Live Music
Lattes
Lazy Day
Lunch Date

M
Monopoly
Museum
Movie Night
Massage
Mountain Biking
Mini Golf
Murder Mystery Night

quarry bank mill


N
Nature Walk
National Trust
Night In
Night time Walk

O
Outdoor Adventure
Opera
Outdoor Cinema
Orienteering

P
Paintballing
Picnic
Park
Pamper Day
Pub Lunch

Q
Quiz Night
Quesadillas 

R
Running
Riverboat Cruise
Roller Skating
Rafting
Re-enact Your First Date
Retail Therapy

man and women at the seaside


S
Stargazing
Swimming
Sleep
Seaside
Scavenger Hunt
Spa Day

T
Theatre Trip
Ten Pin Bowling
Treasure Trail
Theme Park
Tennis

U
Unplug and Unwind

V
Visit Somewhere New
Visit Old Friends
Vineyard

park


W
Wine Tasting
Welly Walk 
Whisky Tasting
Walk
Walking Tour
Water Park

X
Xbox Night

Y
Yoga
Yes Day

Z
Zoo 
Zip Wire

Do you have any different ones I can add to my list? I am always looking for inspiration. 

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Our Goals For 2022

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Happy New Year! I like to start every new year with a fresh and positive outlook and 2022 will be no different. I know there is lots of uncertainty still in the air (almost two years on...) but we just have to make the most out of the situation and try our best to stay positive and that's what I am planning to do this year. I'm going to focus on all the things we can do rather than the things we can't. Every year I make the same resolutions as the year before, eat healthier, exercise more etc etc but this year whilst those resolutions will be in the back of my mind I am going to focus on small achievable  (hopefully) goals for us to accomplish this year.

man and boy in a maze




1. Explore The UK
I've had it in my head for some time now that I would love to visit some of the top UK landmarks. I think when I last checked there were over 60 so I think that might be a bit too ambitious but I would love to visit maybe half of them before the year is through. 

As a family I think we are very adventurous but we always visit the same places when we head for weekends away or days out. I really want to try and step out of our comfort zone and explore more of the UK because it is beautiful. 

2. Enjoy Screen Free Time
We spend a lot of time on our screens and although I know it will be impossible to cut out screen time all together I would love to limit the time we spend looking at devices. I know I am not the only one who can waste a lot of time scrolling through social media randomly clicking on useless articles and photos. I could have been doing something more productive with that time and that's my aim for 2022. Limit the screen time and enjoy doing other things that doesn't involve a device. 

3. Walk 365 Miles At Home
During lockdown whilst doing PE with Joe I also found Walk At Home on You Tube. There are lots of videos from Leslie Sansone where you walk at home. Each video is broken down in to very simple steps to help you walk miles from the comfort of your own home. I absolutely loved doing the videos and was walking up to 3 miles a day. Life then got in the way as things got back to normal and I stopped doing the videos. I want to start up my walking again and my goal is to walk at least 1 mile per day.


4. Say Yes
One of my goals for 2021 was to say yes more and I am going to continue in 2022. It's so easy to say no to a drink after work with colleagues, a meal out with friends or a late night trip to the cinema. I felt like I was always saying no for various reasons when in fact I was just being lazy. I think because we had spent so much time at home in our own bubble I found it a huge effort. I smashed this goal in 2021 and I know I will in 2022 too. 

view of a plane's wing from the window


5. Leave The Country
Our Disneyland Paris trip was postponed last year so we are rebooked for Summer. That is the only overseas travel we have planned so far and I really really hope we get to go. If travel is up and running again in the Summer months I would love to go away for a much needed two week beach holiday but it won't be something we book till nearer the time. 


6. Plan A 21st
Big J will be 21 next year and I am really hoping we can make it as special as possible seeing as he spent his 18th in Lockdown. He's not really a party, centre of attention type of person so I'm thinking it may be a breakaway with us and maybe one with his friends. He loves America so I would love to take him over to the USA to watch a basketball game and no doubt lots of shopping!

7. Continue To Be Happy and Healthy
The past two years have been so worrying watching so many people get really ill and some die. It's also affected a lot of peoples mental health and jobs. I really hope we can continue to be healthy as well as happy throughout this year and be able to deal with whatever 2022 throws at us.

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Michelle
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Ideas To Help You Save For Christmas

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Saving for Christmas for most people starts in January. Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of year so it's sensible for us to get a head start and start preparing for Christmas as early as now. The January sales is a great place to start as you can get some amazing bargains on gifts, decorations or homeware that you can put away in preparation for Christmas. Every year I say I will start saving for Christmas as soon as possible and I never do. This year I have decided I am going to start saving for Christmas now and I have a few ideas on how to help you save for Christmas if you want to start now too. 

save money logo


1p Challenge
The 1p challenge is probably the most known saving scheme as is quite a popular choice. It's very simple to follow and if done correctly by Christmas you will have over £600 in your saving pot. 

So here's how it works

On 1st January you put 1p in to a savings jar
On 2nd January you put 2p in to a savings jar
On 3rd January you put 3p in to a savings jar
On 4th January you put 4p in to a savings jar
On 5th January you put 5p in to a savings jar
On 6th January you put 6p in to a savings jar
On 7th January you put 7p in to a savings jar
and so on adding 1p on to your total each day. 

By the end of this challenge you will have saved well over £600 in time for Christmas. 

This challenge can be done in reverse if you wanted to save larger amounts at the beginning on the year.

On 1st January you put £3.65 in to a savings jar
On 2nd January you put £3.64 in to a savings jar
On 3rd January you put £3.63 in to a savings jar
On 4th January you put £3.62 in to a savings jar
On 5th January you put £3.61 in to a savings jar
On 6th January you put £3.60 in to a savings jar
On 7th January you put £3.59 in to a savings jar
and so on until Christmas. 

It's a simple saving challenge which would certainly give you a head start towards your Christmas Spends. 


The 52 Week Challenge
This idea is similar to to the 1p challenge however you don't have to remember to add your pennies to your savings jar each week you add each week and it's a pound challenge rather than a penny challenge so by Christmas you will have saved over £1300.

So here's how it works

Week one add £1 to your savings jar
Week two add £2 to your savings jar 
Week three add £3 to your savings jar
Week four add £4 to your savings jar

By the end of the month you will have saved £10 now this won't seem much but it soon mounts up as you head in to months 6,7,8 and finally in to December when your pot will have well over £1000 in it. 

You can also do this challenge in reverse too

Week one add £52 to your savings jar
Week two add £51 to your savings jar
Week three add £50 to your savings jar
Week four add £49 to your savings jar

Doing this challenge in reverse means that at the end of the month you will have £202 in your pot. 


Save With Your Supermarket
Asda offer a savings reward card which is perfect if you shop at their store. The cards are usually found in store or you can order one online. Every time you shop you can add an amount to your savings card. You have full control so can add as much or as little as you like and as often as you want. The amount you save on your card can be put towards your shopping in store, online and also on George online.

At the end of the year they usually offer a small reward to say thank you for saving with them each year.  These rewards were for 2021 but assume they will be similar for 2022. I will update when the 2022 rewards have been confirmed.  

Savings on card £30 - £79
Bonus reward £1

Savings on card £80 - £129
Bonus reward £3

Savings on card £130 - £179
Bonus Reward £6

Savings on card £180 - £229
Bonus Reward £9

Savings on card £230 - £279
Bonus Reward £12

Savings on card £280+
Bonus Reward £15

If you are a regular shopper at Tesco then you can will know that Tesco offer a reward scheme in the form of Tesco Club Card Points. These points are converted in to vouchers throughout the year and are a great way to save to help towards your Christmas food shop. 

You could also buy gift cards throughout the year which are usually by the checkouts to save for Christmas. Unfortunately Tesco gift cards can only be loaded once so they cannot be topped up so not as easy as the Asda Christmas Saving card but still worth it if Tesco is your regular supermarket. 

supermarket trolley filled with money


Money Saving / Cash Back Apps
We have been using money saving apps now for quite a few years and the amount of cash back we earn really does build up. This can be left in the app or you can withdraw and add to your saving jars. There are so many money saving and cash back apps out there but these are a few of our favourites. 

Checkout Smart
Checkout Smart is a cash back app that offers you cash back on certain products when bought at certain stores. 

Every day new offers are loaded and the more you use it the more the offers refresh. All you need to do is..

Check the app each day for offers
Choose which offers you want to redeem
Head to the supermarket and buy the products
After purchasing take a photograph of your receipt
Await confirmation of your cash back

Once your cash back has been confirmed it will go on to your balance. You can cash out your balance at any time however no fee will be charged if your balance goes above £20.00. Cash back can be paid to your bank via BACS or PayPal.

The amount of cash back on products does vary however sometimes the app offers you the chance to receive 100% cash back making it completely free. 

Shopmium 
Shopmium is very similar to Checkout Smart. It offers you cash back on certain products and usually refreshes every 1 to 2 days with new offers. 

To use Shopmium all you need to do is

Check the app each day for offers
Choose which offers you want to redeem
Head to the supermarket and buy the products
After purchasing take a photograph of your receipt
Await confirmation of your cash back

Shopmium doesn't give you the option to save up your cash back within the app, it is sent directly to your chosen payment method once validated. 

There is a reward scheme with Shopmium called Shopmium club. It gives you the option to upgrade to Gold level free of charge by completing easy steps. 

Share your referral code
Every member has a refer a friend code that not only benefits you but your friend too. If you friend signs up using your code ( KFYYKYGQ - This is mine) your friend will receive a free gift. At the moment it's a tube of Pringles. You as the referrer will also get a reward of £3 which will go as credit against future cash back offers. 

Redeem Offers
Submit at least 10 cash backs to reach Gold level then submit at least 1 per month to maintain in the Gold level. 

There are lots of benefits to being in Gold level including
Exclusive challenges
Previews of offers before they go live
Special gift on your birthday
Momentarily reserved offers

Quidco
Quidco is an online cash back app that offers great rates of cash back when shopping online. 

There are hundreds of retailers including well known stores such as Argos, B&Q, H Samuel this list is huge. You can also earn cash back on holidays such as TUI, Easyjet, booking.com. It's also great to earn extra cash back when switching telecom, gas, electricity providers. There is so many options to earn. 

Refer a Friend Scheme
Quidco offer a refer a friend scheme that unlocks a bonus of £10 for your friend once they have signed up and had at least £5 cash back confirmed on to their account. As a referrer you will be notified once someone signs up using your referral link or your referral code (6857695 - this is mine) you will then be credited with £30 cash back.

We are just a few pounds shy of £600 savings since we started. Cash out is available via PayPal or bank transfer. You also have the options to buy vouchers with your cash back instead of taking cash. The vouchers are available with an added % bonus on top and differ depending on the store.

For example if you had £20 to cash out you can 
Take £20 cash
Buy a voucher for Amazon with an added 2% on top 
Buy a voucher for JD Sports with an added 10% on top
There are plenty of vouchers available and the added bonus ranges from 2 - 25% extra. 


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