Website for the over 60s  December 2017
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Adaptable Style
and Function


Wetroom from Closomat

A wetroom is a perfect way to make sure that, even if doing certain movements is starting to become a bit difficult, you can still be independent and stylish - at least with your intimate hygiene!

Closomat’s range of options enable you to still be in vogue whilst getting that extra bit of support….

Support arms and grab rails don’t have to have that typical institutional look, but can be sleek, aesthetic and discreet. So can shower seats. They can be fixed directly to the wall, or mounted on a slimline track to give the flexibility to move them to exactly where required.

Wetroom with Closomat wash & dry toilet

And for the ultimate hygiene experience, replace the conventional WC with a Closomat wash & dry toilet, so you don’t have to contort, twist, reach, to wipe clean: integrated features shower your intimate parts clean, then warm air blow you dry. You can tailor it to your individual needs too- initially or as you change with time.

Floor- or wall-mounted versions suit individual design preferences, and, if knee flexing is becoming hard, then opt for the fully-automatic height adjustable Lima Lifter.

Find out more about Closomat by clicking on www.clos-o-mat.com

 

Garden Tips from
National Garden
Gift Vouchers


Winter stems look beautiful in your garden

  The gift from the garden

Your garden gives up some beautiful gifts of its own at this time of year - allowing you to bring the outside into the home with foliage and ‘green’ decorations. By using your garden as a resource you can create some simple, yet beautiful decorative displays for the Christmas festivities.

A great use for your winter prunings is to arrange bare or lichen-covered twigs in a tall glass vase and festoon with tea light holders or use lengths of trailing ivy and evergreen foliage twisted into swags for looping along mantelpieces or winding round banisters. Sprigs of aromatic leaves and herbs – bay, rosemary, sage, thyme and anything else you can lay your hands on – arranged around a large candle on a deep fluted dish to make a fragrant table centre piece.

If you can’t source your Christmas greenery from your own garden that take a trip down to your local garden centre where you’ll find just about everything you need. Small living Christmas trees can be bought in pots for children - so that each year they can be brought inside for the festivities and be part of your Christmas tradition. Alternatively, you can buy a larger living tree and when Christmas is over plant it in a good position in the garden allowing for future growth.

In the depths of winter, the quiet charms of plants with strikingly coloured bark come into their own. Textures and stem colours of trees and shrubs attract the eye and brighten the winter gloom. By planting, for example, dogwoods, snake bark maples, willows and white washed brambles, you can create a stunning winter effect in any garden or landscape.

Most winter stems are best planted in groups to maximise their impact and in locations where they can be seen and appreciated. They perform well in full sun and in deep, moist, loamy soil so try to avoid shallow and chalky soils. Dogwood and willow shrubs will need pruning each year in March, almost to ground level, to ensure that a fresh crop of the brightest coloured stems are produced in the next winter.

December is definitely a time to catch up on some indoor gardening jobs and have a rest, but for those that are out and about you could:

· Carry on harvesting winter crops such as parsnips, kale, leeks, sprouts (don’t forget to pick sprouts from the bottom of the stalk upwards).

· Collect all empty plant pots and seed trays together and wash them ready for next year together with garden tools.

· Collect the rest of the leaves that have fallen from the trees for composting as leaf mould.

· Do some early wrapping by covering any large outside containers with bubblewrap, fleece or hessian, to help prevent the pots cracking in the cold frosty weather.

· Don’t be too much of a tidy gardener - leave some seed heads and berries on plants for animals and birds to eat.

· Provide clean water for wildlife to drink

    How to Buy National
   Garden Gift Vouchers


National Garden Gift Vouchers


National Garden Gift Vouchers can be bought and redeemed at over 2,000 outlets in the UK, with more than 90,000 garden plants and products on offer.

Visit www.thevouchergarden.co.uk to see the outlets that sell and accept them.

You can become a fan and buy vouchers on Facebook by clicking on:
www.facebook.com/GardenGiftVouchers  

Or follow on Twitter by clicking on:
www.twitter.com/GardenGiftVouch  

Or visit the blog by clicking on:
www.vouchergardenblog.com
 

Plant your Own Christmas Decorations

Plant your own Christmas decorations

Deck the halls with boughs of holly ….. or any greenery that you feel fits your festive creativity. December is the time of year when the outside comes into the home in the form of foliage decoration and when gardeners can put their feet up, just for a few minutes!

If you can’t source Christmas greenery from your own garden that take a trip down to your local garden centre where you’ll find just about everything you need – or go foraging. Natural living decorations and table centrepieces are easy and eco friendly to create – and often something all the family has a hand in putting together.

To give pots and planters a Christmas make-over, gather some wood, pine cones, and sprigs of fir or conifer to fill them with. At the bottom (especially if it’s a tall pot) put some scrunched up newspaper so you don’t have to put as much in to fill the pot with. Once done, place your wood around the edges, stuff the fir sprigs inside and add the pine cones.

Alternatively, try this for a naturally stunning centrepiece for the Christmas table. Get a good terracotta container, fill it with compost and plant Winter Cherry in the centre. Winter Cherry is a waxy leaved plant with amazing cherry tomato like berries. It’s a popular Christmas plant so should be widely available. Then around the Winter Cherry plant a few small Poinsettias and some Ivy.

If you want a display that is more silver and white than the traditional seasonal red then try planting white cyclamen with silver leafed lavender and Jacobaea maritime (silver ragwort) and scatter small silver beads around the base of the plants.

For outside in the garden or a for patio display, plant a small living Christmas tree or conifer in a good sized pot and then surround it with brightly coloured ground cover cyclamen or heathers - truly magical!
 

Festive Cream Tea and Christmas Lunch at Squire's

Enjoy a festive cream tea and Christmas lunch at Squire's Garden Centres

Squire’s Garden Centres is offering a very special Festive Cream Tea this December.

Indulge yourself with fruit or plain scones with a choice of jam and Devon clotted cream, a Panettone Tiramisu, plus two macarons and a pot of loose leaf tea (choice of 8 teas), all for just £7.50 per person! A gluten free option is also available.

Squire’s Festive Cream Tea is available daily throughout December from 2.30pm, and there’s no need to book.

Event: Festive Cream Tea

Location: All Squire's Garden Centres (except Woking)

Dates: Daily throughout December from 2.30pm

Price: £7.50 per person

Booking: There's no need to book, simply turn up.

For more information visit the Squire's website at www.squiresgardencentres.co.uk

Christmas lunch

You can also enjoy a fabulous Christmas lunch at Squire’s. It’s available daily from now until 23rd December from 12-3pm, and costs £15.95 for 2-courses or £18.95 for 3-courses, with reduced prices for children. Advanced booking is required.

For starters choose from Honey Roasted Parsnip and Apple Soup, Smoked Salmon & Prosecco Parfait, or Chicken Liver, Clementine & Candied Cranberry Pate.

There’s traditional Roast Turkey for main course, or you could try Prosciutto Wrapped Cod or Quinoa, Walnut & Parsnip Loaf. The desserts included Traditional Christmas Pudding, Gin Fizz & Elderflower Cheesecake, or Truffle Torte with Shimmering Profiterole. Tea or filter coffee after your meal is also included. Gluten free options are also available.

Event: Christmas Lunch

Location: All Squire's Garden Centres (except Chertsey & Woking)

Dates: Daily from 11th November – 23rd December at 12-3pm

Price: £15.95/£18.95 per adult, £9.95/£12.95 per child

Booking: Advanced booking is required at participating Squire’s Café Bars

For more information visit the website at www.squiresgardencentres.co.uk
 

Homes & Gardens

Turn Your Shed
into a Goldmine


Turn your garden shed into a goldmine

Cash strapped Brits could be sitting on a goldmine in the shape of their humble garden sheds, according to new research. A study by the industry giant GardenBuildingsDirect.co.uk has found home owners could rake in a small fortune by turning their garden sheds into a micro business.

As well as offices, sheds can serve as creative places, warehouses for goods, workrooms and storage for tool rentals.

Stories abound across the UK of successful entrepreneurs who made use of sheds to bring in cash. Some of the more innovative ideas include businesses that enable people to rent out their little-used tools, and hen keepers who converted sheds into chicken coops.

Sheds are also popular warehouses for merchants, and for creative types who need a space to work and store their materials.

Keep your bicycle and spare parts in your garden shed

Perfect specimens can be used for promotional photography, and photographers can save themselves a fortune in studio rental by converting their sheds.

A spokesman for GardenBuildingsDirect.co.uk says, “Everyone has an idea of something they could be doing if they just had some space and so many of them have forgotten about the spare room in the garden.

“The UK is full of cases where people made use of their shed – or got one for the purpose – and it proved to be perfect for their business to take off, or to make money another way.

“If repurposing your shed seems daunting, remember that there’s a good chance it’s already perfectly functional and just needs to be cleared.

“There are some ways to make money, like tool rental, that don’t require any further work to be done to the shed at all.”

Ten ways to monetise your shed

Monetise your shed

1. As a warehouse

Whether you’re an eBay reseller or wholesale purchaser, you’ll need somewhere safe to store your goods and keep them separate from your household belongings. Lots of entrepreneurs use their sheds for this purpose.

2. Artistic retreat

Writers and artists need spaces to create. The shed is quiet, free of household distractions and you’re more likely to find your muse in the view of the garden than the road. It also saves the house from paint fumes.

3. Craft studio


Anyone who lives with a knitter, seamstress, jewellery maker or other crafter will tell you that their materials soon start taking over the house. The shed is the perfect place both to keep your craft materials and tools, and to use them.

Turn your shed into an office

4. Business office

If you’re a sole trader or small business, there’s really no need to rent out an office; your garden shed will work fine, and indeed does for many people.

5. Photography studio

High-street based photographers can spend a fortune renting out their premises. A photographer using their shed as a studio cuts these expenses while still having control over light and backdrops, and a place to store props.

6. Tool rental

Businesses have been set up to enable people to rent out their tools or other household belongings locally. It’s a great way to make money from things you don’t use often, and you don’t have to do any work to the shed.

7. Grow vegetables

If your shed has the right conditions, or better yet if you have a greenhouse, you can use the space to grow vegetables to sell on. You can also use the shed to make and store preserves.

8. Keep chickens

Purpose-built hen houses are expensive, but many people convert their sheds into coops. Look online for some comprehensive guides; you’ll need to create features such as a run, air vents and nest boxes. Remember to make the necessary checks with your council and house deeds to make sure you can keep chickens.

9. Rent it to photographers


Garden goods businesses are often looking for attractive places to take promotional shots. If your shed is already a work of art, join a website so photographers can find it.

 

Clear out your garden shed and use it to help you make money

10. Clear it out


If your shed is too cluttered to be of any money-making use, clear it out. You might be surprised at what you find in there in sellable condition. Then the space is clear for one of the other options in this list.


For more information about Garden Buildings Direct click on www.gardenbuildingsdirect.co.uk
 

Christmas Guest Survival Guide


Have a Selfie Elfie Christmas Duvet from Robert Dyas


   By high street retailer Robert Dyas


This Christmas, homes up and down the land will fling their doors open and welcome a multitude of friends and family. Inevitably, this can test festive cheer and challenge the notion of peace on earth and goodwill to all men. But fear not! High-street retailer Robert Dyas has come up with a house guest survival guide to keep the true Christmas spirit alive.

Jodie Harris, Robert Dyas’ Head Elf says, “Having a house full of guests over the Christmas period can be stressful. Subsequently, many dread the festive season instead of looking forward to what should be a special time of the year shared with family and friends. Planning ahead can make Christmas visits a really festive affair for everyone. We firmly believe that having family and friends to stay over the Christmas period should be a real pleasure, and guests should be made to feel very welcome. Thankfully, we have a good strategy to ensure that goodwill prevails.”

Christmas Guest Survival Guide 20 Festive Tips

1. Confirm visitor dates and number of guests well in advance to avoid a last-minute panic.

2. It is essential to ensure that guest departure dates are quite specific. Do not give your visitors any opportunity to outstay their welcome!

3. Decide well ahead of time where is the best place in your home to accommodate your extra guests.

4. Clear any clutter from the room and make space for your guest’s belongings in a wardrobe or drawer.

Penguin Towels from Robert Dyas

5. Prepare a list of all guest room requirements such as extra bedding, spare towels (£4.99) or an air mattress (£46.99).

6. Check you have sufficient homeware for any additional catering that might be required such as a heated buffet server (£79.99).

Heated Buffet Server from Robert Dyas

7. Check any special dietary requirements with your guests.

8. Prepare a shopping list and avoid the Christmas rush by placing any orders well in advance.

9. Create a warm and welcoming festive-themed guest room with Christmas inspired bedding (£17.99-£29.99) or a cosy penguin bed set (£17.99-£29.99)

10. Add some thoughtful finishing touches, if your budget allows, such as a pretty wooden sign with lights (£19.99) or an exquisite lit wreath (£11.99) to create a cosy glow.

Pre-Lit Christmas Tree from Robert Dyas

11. A fuss-free, pre-lit Christmas tree (£99.99) could save you precious time at this busy time of year.

12. Remember, it’s your Christmas too and for you to remain the angelic host throughout the festive season a few ground rules are required.

13. Always ask for help with the cooking and washing up. There is no point in crashing around in the kitchen feeling resentful because nobody offered to assist.

14. Head for bed if you’re feeling tired! An exhausted, cranky host will put everyone on edge.

15. Try to stick roughly to your normal routine.

16. Insist that basic house rules are followed such as wiping feet, playing music at a tolerable volume and definitely no Christmas carols after 10:00 PM regardless of how much mulled wine has been consumed.

17. Don’t offer non-stop entertainment. You are the host, not the headline act.

18. If it's time for your guests to leave, do not be afraid to say so.

19. Most of all, sit back, relax and share this wonderful time of the year with your loved ones.

20. And If Christmas turns out to be a challenge, remember there’s always next year.

For more information about Robert Dyas click on www.robertdyas.co.uk

 

 Sixtyplusurfers Product Review 

   Aura Seed Feeder
     from CJ Wildlife


Aura Seed Feeder from CJ Wildlife

        Review by Simon Fine

I love to feed the many and varied birds that visit my garden, but it can be frustrating whenever resourceful grey squirrels steal the food that I have put out specifically to feed the birds. Worse still, in their determined efforts to grab the birds’ food, squirrels will damage a poorly constructed bird feeder in an attempt to empty its contents. So I have been on a mission to find bird feeders that will attract birds, especially the smaller ones, and provide essential food for them, but are robust and squirrel resistant. There are several so-called squirrel resistant or squirrel proof bird feeders on the market of varying designs, some of which seem to be more effective than others.

I have recently acquired an Aura Seed Feeder Guardian Pack from CJ Wildlife. It comprises an inner tube that holds the seeds, with four feeding holes each with a perch. This is surrounded by a matching protective cage. The feeder has a generous capacity which means it does not need to be replenished too often. Filling the feeder is very simple, requiring a single twist of the cap at the top of the feeder and then pour in the seeds from the top. This same mechanism makes it easy to clean the feeder quickly.

Aura Seed Feeder from CJ Wildlife

The cap at the top of the feeding tube fits securely and the metallic cage is very sturdy. The gaps in the protective cage allow smaller birds to access the feeder with no trouble. So I am pleased to say the design of the Aura Seed Feeder has so far prevented my marauding squirrels from getting to the food or damaging the feeder.

In fact it is also frustrating the attempts of larger birds, such as the magpies, crows and parakeets that frequent my garden, to steal the food that I provide for smaller birds. In the case of the parakeets, they have tried every angle possible, but have given up and settle for eating from the other peanut and seed feeders in my garden.

Aura Seed Feeder from CJ Wildlife

I am delighted with this feeder. It can be hung or mounted from a pole. It is well constructed, solidly built, easy to replenish and clean and visually attractive. I have no doubt that it will last for many years. Most importantly, the little birds love it.

The Aura Seed Feeder Guardian Pack is available from CJ Wildlife. Price is £34.49.

For more information about the Aura Seed Feeder Guardian Pack visit the CJ Wildlife website at www.birdfood.co.uk
 

   Beat Stress with
       Year Round
   Gardening Ideas


Beat stress with year round gardening ideas from AXA

With AXA Insurance’s Stress Index recently revealing that over eight in ten (82%) of Brits feel stressed at least some of the time during the week, it’s important that we don’t let anything get in the way of what makes us happy. However, many of us choose to turn to guilty pleasures to lift our moods, especially during the winter months, with 51% choosing to watch TV to reduce stress and anxiety.

While watching TV is not harmful per se, the problem is that there are many alternative activities that could have a better impact on both our physical and psychological health. Gardening is just one of these activities, with 50% of people reporting an improvement in their happiness after taking up the hobby. 44% also said that gardening also helps them relax and reduces anxiety, whilst 42% report an overall improvement in their psychological health.

Concerns over personal health

There are many things that can lead to increased stress levels; however one of the most common causes according to AXA is concerns over personal health. Three quarters of people are worried about their health in general, whilst 68% and 69% are concerned about eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise respectively.

On the other hand, 41% of people who practice gardening have said that it has improved their physical health, even though most people only spend around 2 hours a week working on their plots. Taking this small amount of time to be a part of nature and do some gentle to moderate exercise could prove the key to reducing the nation’s stress over their health.

“Stress is something that affects us all, however I think we can all admit that we don’t always choose the healthiest options to alleviate this stress, especially during winter when it’s dark and cold,” says
Gareth Howell, Managing Director, AXA Direct. We have found that gardening is one of the best ways to deal with stress, so it’s important we look for new ways to enjoy this hobby all year round.

Year-round gardening ideas

It's not always easy to keep up with hobbies during the winter months, especially those that depend on being outside such as gardening. However, Lynne Lambourne, winner of the Grand Room Sets feature sponsored by AXA Insurance at Grand Designs Live, has provided some exclusive tips on how you can enjoy gardening all year round.

1. Prepare your garden for winter

The winter months are the perfect time to tidy and trim back your garden, as well as perform other ‘clean-up’ jobs such as raking leaves and maybe even building a few raised beds. Wrap up warm and get out in the fresh air and winter sun and both you and your garden will feel the benefit.

2. Plan ahead for spring

Plan ahead and plant bulbs such as tulips and daffodils ready for a wonderful spring display of colour. If you are clever, you can also plant bulbs in your pots in layers according to their different flowering times, ensuring you have constant flowers and colour in your garden throughout the year.

3. Move your garden inside

Growing house plants can also be a fun and relaxing activity. I’ve recently been growing cacti from seeds; all you need to do is pop them on a sunny windowsill and see how quickly they grow. Collecting old jars or vases and planting them with succulents to make terrariums can also be a fun winter activity. The therapeutic effects of gardening watching things grow need not only be for those sunny days, and can be an essential year-round de-stresser.

For ideas on how to make the most of your garden regardless of size visit www.axa.co.uk
 

  Don't be Fooled by
 Japanese Knotweed


Don't be fooled by Japanese Knotweed

It’s that time of year again when Japanese knotweed’s growing season draws to a close and the plant dies away, but specialists Environet are urging homeowners not to delay tackling the weed as it remains very much alive, waiting to emerge bigger and stronger with new shoots next March.

Although still standing, the bamboo-like canes will now be turning brown and brittle, which can fool homeowners into believing the plant has died or that their own efforts at treating it through cutting the plant back, or burning it, have been successful. However, like many plants, the rhizome system beneath the ground is healthy and lying dormant throughout the colder winter months.

Herbicide treatments cannot be used during winter as they require the plant to be in leaf, but that doesn’t mean treatment needs to be postponed until spring. In fact, Japanese knotweed can be dug out at any time of year using the environmentally friendly Resi-Dig-Out method, which involves digging out the rhizome roots and sifting out every viable piece before returning the clean soil to the ground. An insurance-backed guarantee can then be secured for the treatment which will ensure the property can be bought or sold without difficulty.

Japanese Knotweed

Nic Seal, MD and Founder of Environet says, “Each winter we see enquiry levels fall, but we know Japanese knotweed hasn’t magically disappeared, it’s simply a case of out of sight, out of mind. Savvy homeowners will take action through the autumn and winter to tackle knotweed on their land, ensuring they don’t face an even bigger problem next spring. Digging knotweed out of the soil is an instant solution, giving homeowners complete peace of mind and the freedom to sell their property if they so wish.”

Homebuyers should be particularly vigilant when viewing properties during the winter months, when property owners may have taken advantage of the plant’s apparent demise in order to deliberately conceal it. Often the canes have been removed but the crown is still visible in the ground, or in extreme cases membranes are laid horizontally in the ground to conceal the knotweed, with a path or lawn laid over it.

A surveyor should be able to identify knotweed if it is visible, but deliberate concealment is illegal and sellers are required to answer truthfully to the direct question about Japanese knotweed on the TA6 Property Information form, completed during every property transaction. If a seller is dishonest or claims not to have known about the presence of knotweed, the buyer may have a claim for misrepresentation and are likely to be awarded the cost of professional treatment and legal fees, as well as any decrease in the property’s value.

A Guide to Identifying Japanese knotweed in Winter

Japanese Knotweed

As the temperature drops, the green heart shaped leaves will turn brown and fall from the plant.

In late November/early December the hollow, bamboo-like canes will turn brown and die, although they remain standing.

In March, red or purple asparagus type shoots will appear, quickly turning into green bamboo-like stems which grow at a rapid rate, reaching up to 3m in height.

About Environet


Environet is the UK’s leading specialist in the removal of Japanese knotweed, regularly advising RICS, the NAEA and ARMA and working with major house builders, managing agents and private land owners. All work is underwritten by an ‘A’ rated syndicate at Lloyd’s.

Headquartered in Surrey, Environet operates across the UK and leads the market in researching innovative new removal methods. Environet’s Xtract™ method is hailed as the most natural and eco-friendly solution available to tackle Japanese knotweed, removing the plant within days while avoiding the significant financial and environmental costs of traditional ‘dig and dump’ methods.

Nic Seal, Environmental Scientist, MD and founder of Environet is regularly called upon to act as expert witness in legal disputes involving Japanese knotweed.

For more information visit the website at www.environetuk.com