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?

mini flowerelephant chelsea

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?

inspiratonal para
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.

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.

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.






Behind the scenes with Chums


Summer may be just on the horizon, but we believe it is never too early to start thinking about your winter wardrobe.

We recently gained a behind the scenes sneak preview of the brand new Autumn/Winter 2015 collection from Chums during a recent photoshoot. Here’s a little insight into the fantastic new lines and what to wear this winter.


Chums is known for its comfortable, practical and stylish men’s and women’s wear and its new ranges are no exception; this winter sees the brand tapping into bold and bright colour blocking and classic checks.

Gentlemen, it’s time to connect with your inner lumberjack as this winter, checked shirts are a must-have. This wardrobe essential is perfect teamed with denim for a casual look or dressed up with chinos/trousers for something slightly smarter.

Ladies, brighten up the grey days with a pop of colour. We loved the bold red coat, perfect for winter walks or meeting a friend in town for lunch.


DSC_0040For both menswear and womenswear, navy has been strongly tipped as this season’s go-to colour. Keep an eye out for the men’s navy jackets to make sure you look stylish in comfort for any occasion.


Old dog, new tricks…

We all get twinges from time to time – painful and stiff joints that can make some everyday tasks a bit of a chore. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a cure-all to make all these aches disappear?
Sadly, we haven’t found one yet, but we have discovered plenty of handy gadgets to make daily life that little bit easier.

Here are some of our favourites:
Sock Aid Is your back playing up again? Having trouble reaching down to put your socks on? Then take a look at the Ezy-On Sock Aid. This clever gizmo helps you open your socks wide enough to get your foot in. Once the sock is on, simply pull away from the frame – it should slide off perfectly.

Soxon Sock

If bending down is a bit of an issue, you might find it easier to use The Soxon Sock and Stocking Aid. The large looped handles make it easy for those with a weak grasp or recovering from hip or knee surgery to slide their stockings on to their feet.

Jar Opener

For those of you who have trouble opening those pesky jam jars, why don’t you take a look at this top gadget? The Pifco Battery Operated Jar Opener will make sure that removing tops from jars will no longer be a problem. Simply place over the jar, press the button and off they come.


If you’ve got a lot on your plate, then this Height Adjustable Trolley will come in really handy. It’s easy to assemble and the base tray is set slightly forward to give you plenty of legroom when pushing it through the house. Four large castors and angled easy grip handles means it can turn on a penny – handy for manoeuvring round furniture!

Car Cushion

And what about those of us who have trouble getting out of the car gracefully? Well, fortunately we have the Revolving Car Cushion to help us. This comfortable, padded miracle revolves 360 degrees to make going for a drive a breeze.

Do you have any handy ‘new tricks’? Why don’t you let us know about them on our Facebook or Twitter page?

Easter Health Tips

chocolate John Loo

Image credit: John Loo

Before you rush out to buy Easter eggs, hunt for hidden stashes at home… as new survey reveals the ‘chocking’ truth about our addition to sweet treats

Almost half of UK adults have lied to their partner about how much chocolate they’re eating, with one third actually indulging in secret on the way home from work.

The average chocolate eater in the UK tucks into almost three chocolate bars a week – that’s over 150 chocolate bars a year. Experts believe that kicking the habit could see chocolate lovers shed up to 11 pounds (5kg) in a year.

A survey of 3,000 adults by the British Heart Foundation found that chocoholic Brits are going to extraordinary lengths to hide just how much they love their sweet treats:

  • One in four (25%) think they would find chocolate more difficult to ditch than alcohol or  caffeine.
  • One-third (33%) said they  eat chocolate in secret on their way home from work while 13% eat it  behind the fridge door or wait until their partner leaves the room.
  • Almost half (43%) said  they have hidden chocolate wrappers to disguise how much they’ve eaten and  have such a sweet tooth they keep a secret stash of chocolate for      emergencies.
  • Some of the most common  chocolate hideaways are in desk drawers at work (24%) and bedside cabinets  (15%). One in ten (10%) hide chocolate in the glove compartment of their car.

“A bit of chocolate is fine in moderation but it should be a treat,” highlights Tracy Parker, heart health dietitian at the British Heart Foundation. “It’s amazing the lengths we’ll go to so that we can hide just how much we love our favourite sweet treat.”

Source: Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul, jumpstart


sun forest  Yinan Chen

Image credit: Yinan Chen

Common medicines can make skin more sensitive to the sun

Some medicines make skin more sensitive to the sun – and can even cause unusual changes in skin colour during sun exposure – so check the small print before sitting out in the sunshine this spring.

“Many medicines can make skin sun-sensitive, even after only brief exposure to the sun,” explains Dr Andrew Boyden from the National Prescribing Service in Australia. “This is called photosensitivity and means that if you expose your skin to the sun while using one of these medicines, you could have an adverse skin reaction.

“A phototoxic reaction often looks like a severe sunburn with skin redness, swelling and blistering on the sun-exposed areas and will usually develop 5 to 20 hours after exposure. The other reaction that people are at risk of is called a photoallergic reaction and that can cause an itchy, dry, bumpy or blistering rash which can also spread beyond sun-exposed areas. This kind of rash develops at around 24 to 48 hours after sun exposure.”

Medicines that can cause these skin reactions include some antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, some antihistamines, some anti-nausea medicines, some chemotherapy medicines, some medicines for diabetes, diuretics, medicines to regulate heart rhythm, some antipsychotic medicines, some antidepressants, acne and psoriasis medicines (oral and topical) and St John’s wort.

Exposure to sunlight whilst taking amiodarone (a medicine to treat heart rhythm disturbances) can even cause blue-grey discolouration of the skin over time.

“This photosensitivity risk doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors and avoid holiday activities,” says Dr Boyden. “But if the medicine’s label, its enclosed consumer medicine information leaflet, your doctor or pharmacist says that you should avoid sunlight when taking a particular medicine, be particularly mindful of limiting your exposure. You can help protect yourself by using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing and a hat, and avoiding going out in peak UV times of the day as much as possible.”

Source: Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul, jumpstart


red cabbage  Quinn Dombrowski

Image credit: Quinn Dombrowski

Superfood red cabbage – sales soar as diners realise health benefits

Sales of red cabbage look set to boom this Easter as shoppers get wise to its health benefits. In the past year, 545 tonnes of red cabbage have been bought in Britain, an increase of nearly 50% on the previous 12 months.

Andrew Burgess, agricultural director of Produce World explains that cabbage offers high nutritional value and versatility, with 10 times more vitamin A and twice as much iron than its green counterpart.

“Cabbages have been part of a staple diet of many UK households for years due to its nutritional value and versatility as a vegetable,” he says. “Luckily the UK has the ideal growing conditions to grow the best cabbages in the world.”

Braised red cabbage is a delicious accompaniment to Sunday lunch and is extremely easy to make.


180ml water

1 red cabbage, finely chopped

2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped

3 tablespoons brown sugar

250ml white wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground allspice


Place water in a large saucepan and add all of the ingredients. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cover. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve!

Source: Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul, jumpstart


The Home of the Future, From the Past!

The movies marked 2015 as the year we should all be whizzing around on ‘hover-boards’ and hydrating food in an instant. Of course, movies want to glamorise the future as much as possible, but that got us thinking what technology we were actually expecting once 2015 arrived.

We asked 1,000 people what they thought they would see in the ‘2015 home of the future’ back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. The results weren’t always too far off, but show the modern home has a few improvements to make if we’re to meet our past expectations. See our findings below as well as what we thought the home of 2015 was going to look like!

Our top 10 fixtures of the ‘2015 home of the future’ were:

  1. Video phones (33%)
  2. Home computers (29%)
  3. Voice command appliances (25%)
  4. Robot servants (21%)
  5. Food in pill form (19%)
  6. Full wall TV screens (19%)
  7. Self-driving cars (18%)
  8. 3D TVs (17%)
  9. Voice command utilities (14%)
  10. Jetpacks (12%)

HOME illustration

February Health Tips


Image credit: blinking idiot

 One for your Valentine: older couples are more likely to get healthy together

We are better together after all as a new study shows that people are more successful in taking up healthy habits if their partner makes positive changes too.

Experts looked at 3,722 couples aged over 50 years who were married or living together. They examined how likely people were to quit smoking, start being active, or lose weight in relation to what their partner did, and published their findings in JAMA Internal Medicine.

People were more successful in swapping bad habits for good ones if their partner made a change as well. For example, among women who smoked, 50% managed to quit if their partner gave up smoking at the same time, compared with 17% of women whose partners were already non-smokers and 8% of those whose partners were regular smokers.

Men were equally affected by their partners and were more likely to quit smoking, get active, or lose weight if their partner made the same changes.

“Making lifestyle changes can make a big difference to our health and cancer risk,” comments Dr Julie Sharp from Cancer Research UK. “And this study shows that when couples make those changes together they are more likely to succeed.

“Getting some support can help people take up good habits. For example if you want to lose weight and have a friend or colleague who’s trying to do the same thing you could encourage each other by joining up for a run or a swim at lunchtime or after work. And local support such as stop smoking services are very effective at helping people to quit.

“Keeping healthy by not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight and being active can all lower the risk of cancer, and the more people can help and encourage each other the better.”

Source: Jump Start magazine, jumpstart



Image credit: Rosana Prada


Don’t go totally nuts over this… but nutty eaters do have better diets

People who eat tree nuts (that’s almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) tend to have better diets overall than non-nut eaters, says a large study published in the journal Nutrients.

Experts looked at data from 14,386 adults and found that just 6% regularly ate tree nuts (about 44g a day). And these people were more likely than non-nut eaters to consume recommended levels of vitamins A, E and C, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and fibre.

“Consumption of tree nuts should be encouraged, as part of a healthy diet, by health professionals to improve diet quality and nutrient adequacy,” suggests Prof Carol O’Neil, who led the work.

Source: Jump Start magazine



Image credit: JD Hancock

Immune systems of extraverts cope better with infections

Aspects of our personality may affect our health and wellbeing and new research from the UK and US now goes some way to explaining why.

The study did not support the theory that tendencies toward negative emotions such as depression or anxiety can lead to poor health. But it did suggest that being an extravert can actually boost the immune system.

A total of 121 adults did a personality test to measure extraversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Blood samples were collected and their typical smoking, drinking and exercise behaviours were recorded. Experts used technology to look at the five personality traits and two groups of genes, one involving inflammation, and another involving responses to viruses.

“Our results indicated that individuals who we would expect to be exposed to more infections as a result of their socially orientated nature (ie extraverts) appear to have immune systems that we would expect can deal effectively with infection,” explains Prof Kavita Vedhara who led the study.

“Individuals who may be less exposed to infections because of their cautious/conscientious dispositions have immune systems that may respond less well. We can’t, however, say which came first. Is this our biology determining our psychology or our psychology determining our biology?”

Source: Jump Start magazine,



Image credit: Jasmine Kaloudis


Yoga could reduce risk of cardiovascular disease

You don’t need to break into a sweat to lower your chances of cardiovascular disease, as new research suggests that yoga may be just as effective as more energetic forms of exercise when it comes to cardiovascular health.

A study of 2,768 people found that risk factors for cardiovascular disease improved more in those doing yoga than in those doing no exercise. And yoga was even found to provide the same benefits in reducing risk of cardiovascular disease as many traditional physical activities.

“Any physical activity that can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease developing should be encouraged, and the benefits of yoga on emotional health are well established,” says Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation. “This study’s findings are promising, showing some improvement in blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

“The benefits could be due to working the muscles and breathing, which can bring more oxygen into the body, leading to lower blood pressure.”

Source: Jump Start magazine



Image credit: Jason Bachman

Popeye was right! Potassium salts (found in spinach) improve bone health as well as muscles

The potassium salts (bicarbonate and citrate) play an important part in improving bone health, says research published in Osteoporosis International, and the good news is that they are plentiful in fruit and vegetables.

The study is the first to show that potassium salts slow down bone resorption, which is when bone is broken down, so therefore increase their strength. And high intake of potassium salts was found to lower the excretion of calcium and acid.

“This means that excess acid is neutralised and bone mineral is preserved,” explains Dr Helen Lambert, lead author. “Excess acid in the body, produced as a result of a typical Western diet high in animal and cereal protein, causes bones to weaken and fracture. Our study shows that these salts could prevent osteoporosis, as our results showed a decrease in bone resorption.”

Bone resorption and bone formation is a natural process that allows bones to grow, heal and adapt. But in osteoporosis, more bone is broken down than is built up, leading to fragility and fractures.

This study shows that eating more fruits and vegetables could be a way to improve the strength of our bones and prevent osteoporosis.

Vegetables high in potassium include spinach, potatoes (with skin), sweet potatoes (with skin), sprouts and asparagus. And fruits to go for are banana, papaya, mango, kiwi and orange.

Source: Arthritis Digest magazine

New Year Health Tips

New Year’s resolution to quit meat? Vast majority (84%) of vegetarians go back to eating meat 


BLT  jeffreyw

Image credit: jeffreyw

Whether you give up meat for ethics, health or to save money, a new study shows that most people who turn vegetarian eventually go back to eating meat, and much sooner than you’d think.

The meaty survey of 11,000 adults by the Humane Research Council is thought to be the first comprehensive study of current and former vegetarians and vegans. Key findings were:

– 84% vegetarians eventually go back to eating meat;

– Over half start eating meat again within a year;

– Almost a third reported they relapsed within three months;

– Over a third of ex-vegetarians and vegans indicated they would be interested in going back to a no-meat diet at some point in the future.

It isn’t just the lure of the bacon sandwich, however, as the researchers found that chicken offers the most temptation.

“Chicken is the most common type of meat consumed by former vegetarians/vegans,” the study group reported. “Reducing and eliminating chicken consumption will have the greatest impact on the number of farmed animals’ lives saved.”

Source: Jump Start magazine


Image credit: Benson Kua

Want to lose weight? Eat your pudding first!

Eating sugar-rich food at start of a meal may help keep appetites in check, experts from Imperial College London suggest.

The study focused on glucose, a sugar found in puddings, cakes and chocolate, which is also the brain’s main source of energy.

A brain protein called glucokinase seems to keep track of how much glucose is eaten and if intake is too low, the brain tells the body to find more sugary and starchy food. It may be that people with a sweet tooth naturally make more glucokinase than others, which is why some of us can’t resist sweet treats.

The discovery could lead to new diet drugs and simple tips for losing weight naturally. For example, Dr James Gardiner who is involved in the work suggests that dieters tuck into glucose-rich foods at the start of their meal. The brain will then send messages to the body that enough glucose has been eaten, allowing other natural systems that count calories to kick in and stop us from overeating.

Remember that starchy foods such as bread, pasta and rice are rich in glucose, so eating like an Italian, beginning with a small plate of risotto or pasta, could be the secret to losing weight. Or just tuck into pudding first…

Source: Memory in Mind magazine.


Image credit Luca Nebuloni

Mediterranean diet could be recipe for long life

Eating a Mediterranean diet is associated with health benefits including reduced cardiovascular disease. And now it seems that the diet keep people genetically younger too, says research in the British Medical Journal.

Telomeres sit on the end of chromosomes – like plastic tips on shoelaces – to stop chromosomes from fraying and scrambling their genetic codes. Telomeres become shorter as we age but lifestyle factors such as obesity have been linked with shorter telomeres.

The new study of 4,676 healthy middle-aged women found that those who stuck closely to a Mediterranean diet had longer telomeres, which could mean a lower risk of developing age-related diseases.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruit and veg, oily fish and wholegrain cereals, with relatively low levels of meat and low-fat dairy.

“This large study adds to the body of evidence that longer telomeres are found in those who eat a Mediterranean diet,” says Dr Mike Knapton from the British Heart Foundation. “Longer telomeres may partially explain the link between diet and risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Previous findings from the same study had shown that those with unhealthy lifestyles had shorter telomeres. These results reinforce our advice that eating a balanced and healthy diet can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.”

Source: Jump Start magazine


Image credit: Vic

A good dose of kindness improves healthcare

When healthcare workers approach people with compassion, patients often heal faster, have less pain and anxiety, and even bounce back faster from common colds, says a review of the literature presented at the Compassion and Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.

“When healthcare is delivered with kindness and compassion, it has a significantly greater effect than when it is given in a dispassionate fashion that assumes that the human connection has no benefit,” explains Dr James Doty, director of the Stanford University School of Medicine’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

Although medicine holds the power to cure, Dr Doty believes that how it is delivered can make a huge difference… to healthcare providers as well as patients.

Looking at the research, Dr Doty found that compassionate treatment helped to reduce pain and anxiety and was tied to lower blood pressure, shorter hospital stays and even reduced the severity and length of the common cold.

It is thought that improved cooperation could be part of the reason for the findings, as when patients viewed a healthcare provider as compassionate they may be more likely to follow a doctor’s recommendations. And a caring environments helps healthcare workers to feel more engaged too.

Source: Memory in Mind magazine

Our New Years Resolution Survey for 2015

Here in the Chums office we’ve all been making our New Years Resolutions for 2015, and we started to wonder whether there would be any difference between the older and younger generations in the sort of resolutions they make. As well as this, we figured that one group would be more likely to stick to their resolutions for longer than the other – but which one? We conducted a survey of 1,000 people from different age ranges and the findings are below.

Chums New Years resolutions study 2015