Top tips for getting holiday ready

For the majority of us, a summer holiday is something we look forward to all year long.

Yet year after year we seem to forget how fast they come around. According to a survey by the Post Office, 37 per cent of holidaymakers admit to being disorganised packers, so we’re giving a helping hand and sharing our top tips…

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Before you go:

  • First things first, make sure you have your passport and check it’s in date
  • Holiday insurance – you can pre book your insurance in advance. Just select the dates you need it to be valid to and from. Here are some of our favourite sites to give you a head start http://goo.gl/yFNNVa, http://goo.gl/YkrAc, http://goo.gl/19SgP
  • Boarding passes – be sure to check in online and print off your boarding passes to save yourself some queuing time at the airport
  • Baggage – make sure you’ve added the amount of bags you intend to take with you to your booking. Double check the weight limits so you’re not surprised with any charges when you get to the airport

Packing:

  • Getting started is always the hardest part – putting heavy items such as shoes on top of the wheels helps to balance the case out and stops any clothes getting squashed by them
  • Whether you choose to fold, roll or bundle your clothes into the suitcase, the key is not to over-pack! Squashed clothes become creased clothes
  • Don’t put anything valuable or irreplaceable in your suitcase; if it is eligible to go into your hand luggage keep it in there
  • If two or more people are travelling, split belongings between checked luggage so if one case goes missing, each of you will still have a change of clothes
  • Once you’ve put all your clothes in, make sure your beach towel is the last thing to go in and lay it across the top so everything is held in place
  • Add something memorable onto your suitcase handle – chances are most people will have a case similar to yours so it’s a good idea to have something to tell them apart

 

Once this is all done, it’s time to simply sit back, relax and enjoy your holiday!

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Djokovic was crowned Wimbledon champion, but who won the style stakes?

As well as being captivated by the fast action tennis at Wimbledon over the past two weeks, we have also been keeping a close eye on the royal box to catch a glimpse of the summer fashions on show.

As the centre court draws to a close for another year, here are just a few stylish highlights we’ve taken from this year’s celebrity packed tournament.

Florals are a huge hit

Flowery patterned textiles were a favourite with Kim Sears, Pippa Middleton and Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, who brought a burst of colour to centre court with some eye-catching and timeless prints.
Floral dresses are flattering, comfortable and can be accessorised to suit a wide range of social occasions.

Kim SearsPippa-Middleton-vogue-7jul15-getty_592x888anna-wintour-wimbledon-vogue-6jul15-getty_b_592x888

The Royals tick all of the boxes

The Duchess and Duke of Cambridge continued to turn heads as the fashion forward pair upped the stakes while showing their support for Andy Murray.

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Kate wowed the crowds in a striking red midi dress, while Prince William proved that classic navy blazers are a safe but stylish option.

Game, set and match for the Beckhams

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The adorable father and son, David and Brooklyn Beckham also opted for classic navy suit jackets for their bonding session at the tennis.

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Roger Federer might not have won the men’s final this year, but with his crisp Swiss style we think he always takes the lead for having a classic sense of fashion. If Wimbledon has inspired you to dust off your racket, get the look with our own range of stylish shorts and polo shirts.

 

Surprising Facts About Online Shopping [infographic]

We recently put together this infographic which highlights some of the more surprising and lesser known facts about online shopping here in the UK. Hope you like it.

If you’d like to include this on your own site, there’s a code below to embed it.

Surprising Facts About Online Shopping

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Style Icons Over 50

Ever heard the saying, age is just a number?

At Chums, our focus is to offer comfortable, stylish clothing designed to make our customers look and feel great. So it’s only right that we have our own style icons to admire.

At 78, Morgan Freeman is a prime example of how to keep cool and current. We’ve known him as Hoke Colburn, ‘Red’ and even God over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is his suave sense of style.

Morgan is seen here spicing up a classic look with an eye-catching yellow tie. Sometimes, less is simply more.

morgan freeman

The former 007 didn’t let hitting his sixties stop him from dressing to impress, Pierce Brosnan is pictured here looking super smart in his summer attire. He’s got the look down to a T with this beige linen suit.

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With summer upon us, we wouldn’t blame you for wanting to get a taste of Pierce’s linen look. We’ve even got our own version here.

The list can seem endless when it comes to the likes of George Clooney, Richard Gere and Denzel Washington. As Coco Chanel famously said, “Fashion passes, style remains”.

This definitely applies to these three glamorous ladies.

Mary Berry looks radiant in this full length navy number, a timeless classic.  She might be 80 years of age but the Great British Bake Off star never fails to impress when it comes to stepping onto the red carpet.

Mary’s elegant style is common knowledge after her famous, floral Zara bomber jacket appearance on GBBO. This caused the jacket to sell out worldwide, just 48 hours after the show aired. Talk about being a style icon!

mary berry

Dame Judi Dench, most famously known as M, has a habit of stealing the show at Bond premieres. At 70 years old, she knows how to put on a show, both on and off screen.

Her tasteful pixie hair cut is always perfectly styled, and an elegant necklace in place completes her look.

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The award winning actress, Helen Mirren shows us how to dress like a Queen in this ruby red fishtail dress.

The jewel embellishment wasn’t the only thing drawing people’s attention that night, as Helen came away with 4 wins at the Golden Globe awards. She simply has it all!

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We hope our stylish celebrities stand out to you as much as they do us, after all everyone needs to get inspiration from somewhere.

And like fine wines, the best only improve with age.

 

Father’s Day Gift Guide

It can be tough buying a Father’s Day gift for the man who has everything, but this year Chums may have the perfect suggestion for that much deserving dad.

Whether they’re pottering around the house or relaxing in the living room, a Roberts Dab Radio (£169.99) is a timeless Father’s Day gift that never goes out of style.

Your dad certainly won’t let you down in the style stakes if you pick him up a pair of these Farah Slant Pocket Trousers, which are only( £27.99) and come in an array of colours to suit his style.

trousers

Ideal for a rainy afternoon, or even a sunny one, the Portapuzzle, (£29.99), is perfect for the problem solver dad who wants to take things at his own pace. The felt surface holds the puzzle pieces in and the folding case means he can store it away to finish off another day.

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It’s not always possible to help your older relatives out as much as you’d like, so why not give them a helping hand with their daily routines by calling in Extra Help. This handy service offers help with shopping, preparing meals, cleaning and more.

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Buying your dad a National Trust Membership doubles up as a gift for the rest of the family. What better way to spend a day than quality time with your family than taking a stroll around a stunning stately home or gorgeous garden. The National Trust also offers a special senior deal for over 60s if they’ve previously been a member for more than five years in the last 10 years.

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Make getting out and about that bit easier with this revolving car cushion (£14.99) – it revolves 360 degrees to prevent potential strain when getting into position and the comfy pad makes the journey much more enjoyable.

Whether you’re having a day out with dad or helping at home, we hope you’re Father’s Day is just as special as he is!

By Julaine Speight content writer at Chums

 

 

Happy Birthday Winnie Blagden

When we heard that Sheffield resident, Winnie Blagden was approaching her 100th birthday with no surviving relatives, Chums wanted to ensure she had a birthday to remember. We gift wrapped a Chums Crew Neck cardigan in pastel blue and sent it to Winnie to celebrate her big day, along with a few other treats.

After BBC Radio Sheffield put an appeal on Facebook for gifts the response was overwhelming. More than 16,000 people globally sent a birthday card to Winnie, so after the unbelievable generosity from the general public, we were very pleased to see that Winnie chose to wear her Chums cardigan to mark her special day!

Winnie

(It looks a shade darker but it’s definitely one of ours)

Here is some further information for the Telegraph on Winnie’s special day. http://goo.gl/RxOxOJ

So once again a big happy birthday Winnie, we hope you enjoyed your celebrations.

www.chums.co.uk

June Health Tips

peanuts  Daniella Segura

Image credit: Daniella Segura

Eating peanuts good for health of arteries claims new research

Peanuts – the most popular snack in the UK – do more than provide a tasty treat, as scientists have discovered they could help the body’s network of blood vessels too.

Peanuts are actually legumes (seeds that grow in pods) and are an excellent source of protein.

Experts split a group of 15 overweight men into two groups. Half had a shake that included 3oz of ground peanuts. The other half had the shake (without the peanuts) but it was the same in terms of energy and nutrients.

The men that had the peanut shake had better functioning blood vessels afterwards than did the other group.

“Peanuts are a healthy snack when eaten as part of a healthy diet,” says lead researcher Xiaoran Liu. “Previous studies have shown that individuals who consume peanuts more than two times a week have a lower risk of coronary heart disease. This study indicates that the protective effect of peanut consumption could be due, in part, to its beneficial effect on artery health.”

But remember that peanuts are very full of energy, so use them as a replacement for other calories, rather than an addition.

Source, Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul: www.jumpstartonline.co.uk.

 

 

sun on flower  John Morgan

John Morgan

Hot stuff! Folic acid may help older people cope with heat waves

Taking folic acid can improve blood vessel dilation in older people, according to new research, so folic acid supplements could be an inexpensive way to help older people increase skin blood flow during heat waves and reduce possible cardiovascular events.

“We know that when older adults are exposed to heat, their bodies are not able to increase skin blood flow to the same extent that young subjects do, and as a consequence, older adults are at a greater risk for cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, during environmental heat waves,” explains Anna Stanhewicz, who is involved in the work. “When young, healthy people are exposed to heat, their bodies increase blood flow to the skin and this increased flow, combined with sweating, helps to cool the body down.”

This is partly because older blood vessels cannot make enough nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is produced by the blood vessels using an enzyme that needs a cofactor called BH4. As people age, their levels of BH4 decrease.

The research team previously found that when they gave BH4 to older adults they were able to produce more nitric oxide. And the new study showed that folic acid increased nitric oxide production by increasing BH4.

“The bottom line is that folic acid supplementation increased nitric oxide production in older blood vessels,” Anna Stanhewicz says.

Source, Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul: www.jumpstartonline.co.uk.

 

broccoli  cyclonebill

Image credit: cyclonebill

Man-made broccoli compound may become a future osteoarthritis treatment

A new drug based on a substance found in broccoli could offer hope to people with osteoarthritis, says research presented at a conference.

The therapy is based on a man-made version of sulforaphane, which is a compound found in vegetables such as cabbage, sprouts and broccoli.

Experts have found that the compound blocks enzymes that destroy joint cartilage and processes that cause inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. But people would have to consume immense amounts for it to have an effect.

But now a team has cleverly managed to incorporate sulforaphane into a medication called Sulforadex (SFX-01), in which a single dose provides as much sulforaphane as eating around 2.5 kg of broccoli in a day.

Lab tests showed that SFX-01 improved bone architecture, balance and movement.

A spokeswoman from Arthritis Research UK comments:

“We know that sulforaphane helps to block inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, but so far it has been difficult to see how this finding could be applied to humans without them having to consume vast amounts of broccoli every day. This new research could take us a step closer to being able to take a daily supplement.”

Source, Arthritis Digest: www.arthritisdigest.co.uk.

 

 

cat  Gustaaf Prins copy

Image credit: Gustaaf Prins

Cats relax to the sound of music – and classical is top of their list

It is widely accepted that, in humans, music relaxes the body, mind and soul and an extensive body of research indicates that these benefits extend even to patients under general anaesthesia. And it appears that the same could go for cats.

“In the surgical theatres at the faculty where I teach and at the private veterinary medical centre where I spend my time operating, environmental music is always present, and is an important element in promoting a sense of wellbeing in the team, the animals, and their owners,” explains lead researcher, Miguel Carreira. “Different music genres affect individuals in different ways. During consultations I have noticed, for example, that most cats like classical music, particularly George Handel compositions, and become more calm, confident and tolerant throughout the clinical evaluation.”

The research team studied 12 female pet cats undergoing surgery and recorded their respiratory rate and pupil diameter at various points to gauge their depth of anaesthesia. The cats, which had been fitted with headphones, were exposed to two minutes of silence (as a control), followed randomly by two minutes each of classical music, gentle pop music and heavy metal.

The results showed that the cats were in a more relaxed state under the influence of classical music, with the pop music producing intermediate values. By contrast, the heavy metal music produced the highest values, indicating a more stressful situation.

The clinicians conclude that the use of certain music genres in the surgical theatre may allow a decrease in the amount of anaesthetic needed, in turn reducing the risk of undesirable side effects and thus promoting patient safety.

Next the team is going to look at if dogs are affected in the same way.

 

 

walking dog FaceMePLS

Image credit: FaceMePLS

Celebrating pets and the elderly

National Pet Month was celebrated earlier this summer and the theme was Pets and the elderly: enjoying later years together. The following points were highlighted:

  • Pet owners make fewer visits to their GP. Research in Germany found that those with pets paid 15% fewer visits to their doctor, with dog owning pensioners visiting their GP 21% less than non-dog owners.
  • Pets help reduce blood pressure, heart rate and stress. Even a simple act such as stroking a pet or watching fish swim in an aquarium lowers anxiety and blood pressure, reducing heart rates even in stressful situations.
  • Pets help make us more active. Dog walking, for example, can help reduce obesity, which is a £5 billion burden on the NHS each year.
  • Pets do wonders for our social lives. In social settings, for instance, owning a dog can lead to more social interaction plus pets can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  • Pets have a wonderful role to play as we grow older. Pets in care homes can have a transformative effect on residents, combatting loneliness. Aquariums have been found to improve behaviour in dementia units and when placed in dining rooms have even managed to improve appetites!

<<walking dog>> Image credit: FaceMePLS

 

 

Time to get blooming marvellous at Chelsea

Is the talent at Chelsea Flower Show inspiring you to give gardening a go?

Well we’ve got all the tools to get the job done, so we’ve put some top tips together to get you started.

  1. Organic fertilisers, compost and mulching materials all enhance the nutrient level and encourage life
  2. Bright light washes out cooler colours, so blues, greens and purples are better suited to shaded areas
  3. To achieve the best and most natural effect, never plant bulbs in a row. Plant them in clumps of at least five, seven or nine.
  4. Experiment by positioning plants in their pots before putting them in the ground. That way you can move them around and adjust them to arrive at the best look
  5. Autumn is the perfect time to collect seeds of hardy annuals, sweet peas and other favourites
  6. Seeds need to be kept cool, dark and dry over the winter. Store envelopes containing seeds in an old ice-cream carton or biscuit tin and put it in the fridge
  7. Roses are the highlight of the summer garden, but if you have only a small plot, look for roses that flower all summer long
  8. And finally… the joy of gardening is that nobody ever gets it right first time. Or even second time, it’s important to enjoy yourself

If you’re in need of a visual goal, look at our favourite displays from 2012. Impressive?

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What are you waiting for? Get growing.

By Hollie Stirrup, content writer at Chums

 

It’s never too late

If you could live your life again, what would you like to do, that you missed the first time round? Travel to new places, learn another language, master a musical instrument or further your education? We’ve been inspired by a recent story about Marie Hunt, who has just been awarded her high school diploma at the grand old age of 103.

Mrs Hunt, from Wisconsin, felt unable to complete her eighth grade diploma in 1928, due to pressures of the commute to school and the need to help raise her siblings. Now living in an assisted home, a hospice nurse overheard her talking about how not completing high school was her biggest regret in life. The nurse spoke to officials from River Valley High School, and the Spring Green School District gave her the diploma at a ceremony at her living facility last week.

Some people are ‘late bloomers’, unable to find their raison d’etre until much later in life.

Hugely successful British actor Alan Rickman was a graphic designer before pursuing an acting career at the age of 28, only getting his first real break into theatre when he was in his 40s. Much loved BAFTA winning British actress Liz Smith became a professional actress at the age of 50 and has since starred in a variety of roles on British television and in Hollywood movies.

Many popular writers didn’t publish their first major work until later in life. Mary Wesley wrote two children’s books in her late fifties, but didn’t write her first novel until she became a widow at the age of 70. During her lifetime, she sold three million books including 10 bestsellers in the last 20 years of her life. Her bestselling Camomile Lawn was made into a popular television series.

In the fashion world, Ralph Lauren, at 75, is still in charge of his $5 billion empire. Dress maker and personification of muted elegance, Jean Muir worked right up until her death at the age of 67, as did Coco Chanel, who was sticking to her usual routine of preparing that year’s spring catalogue when she died aged 87.

So perhaps you don’t have to think about what you’d do if you could live your life over again, after all. If these tales of people achieving great things later in life has inspired you, then don’t let age stop you from achieving your secret ambition. After all, it’s never too late.

 

Just a number

You’re only as old as you feel. Well this is certainly true of the folk in our brand new feature below. We take a look at some truly amazing people doing incredible things and not letting anything get in their way.  Why don’t you read on and see if you’re inspired?

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They say age is just a number, and South African great-grandmother, Georgina Harwood, is most definitely the living embodiment of this. Last month she chose to celebrate her 100th birthday in a rather unusual way – by jumping out of a plane!
Being strapped to a young man while hurtling thousands of feet towards the ground, might not be everyone’s idea of fun, but Georgina certainly looked as though she enjoyed herself! Her family was there to cheer her on and to hand her a flute of pink champagne when she landed.

And Georgina’s not the only one living life to the full!

What about 92 year-old Arthur Gilbert, the world’s oldest triathlete?  He took part in his first race at the age of 64, and completed a recent triathlon in Somerset (diving into a 500m swim, before taking on a 20km cycle ride and a 5km run) in just two hours, 47 minutes and 22 seconds.

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Mr Gilbert, a veteran of the Second World War who worked at the Westland helicopter plant, loves staying fit and active. He goes to the gym twice a week, cycles 25 miles every Sunday and swims 50 lengths of his local pool every morning.
And look at Dr Charles Eugster! A Londoner who now lives in Zurich, he recently broke the record for indoor running (in the over 95 category) at the British Masters Championships in March, after only taking up sprinting a year ago.

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Running isn’t the only activity Dr Eugster loves to take part in. He’s also a fan of rowing, winning some 40 gold medals in competitions. He also took up body building at the tender age of 87.
These stories might leave you feeling a little out of breath, but they all show the importance of staying active throughout your life.

There is strong evidence suggesting that just 30 minutes of moderate activity every day can have significant health benefits, keeping you fit and well whatever comes your way.  The NHS Choices website has a number of suggestions about how to incorporate activity into your daily life as well as some pointers to get you started. Don’t worry, they don’t mention sky diving, or even a little half marathon.
If you’d like us to feature someone you know or an inspirational story you’ve come across, why not get in touch via Facebook or Twitter? We’d love to hear from you, and if we feature your story, you could win a £25 Chums voucher.