Fair Vote

November 1st, 2013

Fair Vote.Org

Fair Vote Lowell would like to make it clear that we are in no way connected with the Fair Vote organisation of the United States of America.

The Fair Vote organisation advocates for fair voting systems and other electoral reforms, and can be found at http://www.fairvote.org

Something New In Domestic Heating

November 20th, 2014

Here at FVL we like to champion things that are new and have a genuine benefit for the good people of the United Kingdom. And, I think it’s fair to say, that over the last five years or so, we have really got it “in the neck” when it comes to heating our homes.

The Cost Of Heating

domestic heatingIt’s also fair to say we’ve had some pretty nasty winters in the last few years and…as the cost of gas and fuel generally has risen out of all proportion, keeping warm in winter has become an expensive business. Even as crude prices fall on world markets, gas prices have remained high. I mean, what are industry regulators for? O.K, I won’t get started, that’s another subject for another day!

Anyway, I was intrigued to be chatting to a friend of mine who has started a new job with a company called Hassle Free Boilers. They are part of the Ecovision group and their mantra is to provide renewables heating energy for the consumer. They do this via the provision of Biomass energy and specific new heat pump technology.

Hassle Free Boilers

That’s all well and good, but what about this new division called Hassle Free Boilers, what’s that all about?

Well, it’s a simple idea and one I believe they have “nicked” from the Canadians. I’m not sure what the population of Canada will think about this, but I visist Canada quite a lot and I think they’re quite benign. I’m sure they would see this as Canada helping the world reduce its carbon footprint!

But let’s be serious for a second because the energy conundrum is one that does genuinely threaten our home. And, with the current state of technology, if we totally mess up Planet Earth, we have nowhere else to go, despite what Interstellar might have to say about it.

So, what is this new business model?

Well, like most good ideas, it’s incredibly simple.

A New Gas Boiler?

Normally, when you finally have to buy a new gas boiler (yes, you wait for it to break down completely), you would ring a plumber or British Gas or a heating company and get quotes for a new boiler. That’s when the first shock hits home. How much? Oh, and then there is installation on top of that, yes….oh and a complete systems check and radiator system drain and check…and valve check. O.K, how much is all that?

How many thousands of pounds? Let’s face it, to replace your boiler, get a new one installed and a complete heating system health check is going to cost at least £5,000….at the very least.

Then you have your gas supply and annual maintenance agreement to pay on top. The cost is frightening.

So, what HFB have done is to firstly get an agreement with advanced boiler supplier Vaillant. They have then used their purchasing power to source gas at prices chaper than the mainstream suppliers can source in the U.K. Then, and this is really novel, they pass those savings on to their customers. Jeepers, a heating company giving value for money!!! Whatever next?

A New Way Of Doing Things

And, now comes the magic!

Having got those deals in place they offer an unbeatable package to their ever growing customer base.

What do you get?

All of the above, so new Vaillant combi boiler (system or heat only), full installation and system check for the princely sum of….nothing. Nada, Zilch, Zip. That’s right, nothing to pay up front.

All the costs are included in your monthly service agreement. So, you get a new boiler and a service agreement for just £36 per month. Amazing, no wonder the Canadians were happy. Add to this gas supplied at a discount of 40% versus British Gas, EDF Mann, Scottish Power et al and you have one incredibly cost effective deal.

In all honesty, it’s no wonder Hassle Free Boilers are gaining so much ground in the U.K heating and power supply market. And, there’s something else as well. And this is quite remarkable, their customers are happy! When was the last time you heard happy customers crow about their gas supplier? I can’t remember!

You can find Hassle Free Boilers by clicking the following link:- www.HassleFreeBoilers.Com or you can find them on Facebook here

And…here’s a video of what it’s all about!

 

Having Your Baby Early

May 30th, 2014

Premature Babies

There is nothing like the shock of having a premature baby. It happened to a friend of mine.

She was the first to admit it was a complete and utter shock, especially given it was her first baby. Being pregnant was a new enough experience. But then suddenly being thrown into complete chaos by her baby arriving 12 weeks early was an experience she didn’t want to repeat. Having said that the doctors and nurses that deal with this type of situation are incredible and soon a routine was established.

However, having an early baby threw up numerous challenges.

The first hurdle was actually having to go home and leave the baby is an incubator in the NICU. That was emotionally very difficult. But then there were practical difficulties, like finding baby clothes that fitted a 4lb baby.

How To Find Clothes

small baby clothesFor example, most baby clothes don’t allow for easy access for wires, feeding and breathing tubes. Most baby clothes start at around 6-7 lbs, so are just far too big for babies this small. Indeed, the smallest prem babies can “come in” at just 2lbs. That;s the size and weight of a bag of sugar.

You try getting a 2lb babygro in Mothercare!

Happily now back home with a healthy and grwoing baby, this is the experience that prompted young Mum Ngaire Cockerill to start the Dinki Dreams brand at the Premature Baby Boutique.

“It was just so difficult to get clothes that not only fitted but gave that easy access for all the inevitable wires”, she remembers. “I struggled to find clothes that fitted, they were all too big, and I ended up getting wires tangled and getting in to a right mess”.

Helpless

“I look back now and I just felt so helpless. The nurses were great and pointed me in the right direction to get smaller baby clothes, but many of them were poor quality and still didn’t offer me that ease of use that I needed to keep my baby comfortable”.

“I saw other mothers struggling as well and vowed to do something about it”.

Dinki Dreams

Eigtheen months later, after a lot of hard work, research and searching for the right designers and producers, Ngaire launched the Premature Baby Boutique in mid 2014.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” she recalls.”Once I’d made the decision to do I just went for it. My Dad was a great help as he had been a business owner and understood what it takes to launch a new enterprise”.

“I am just so glad we are now offering something that is genuinely helpful to people in that same stressed situation. Every little thing that takes a worry away is a massive help”. She said.

So what makes Dinkie Dreams premature baby clothes so different?

“Well, firstly, every garment is made from quality 100% cotton and has flat stiching for comfort. But all the clothing has easy poppers or zips for easy access to baby’s tubes and wiring. This is critical in making it easy forMum to cuddle, clothe and generally deal with baby’s needs”.

So, for true quality Premature Baby Clothes why not look up Ngaire and make your life just that little bit easier if you have an early baby. You can find her site here:- http://prematurebabyboutique.co.uk/

Here are some helpful hints on turning normal sized baby clothes into ones that will fit a preemie.I hope this helps.

And…before the babies come along

Wedding Photography Today

March 18th, 2014

With my own nuptials rapidly approaching, choosing a wedding photographer was a vitally important part of the preparation for the “big day”. Now I know you can go to a £3-400 pile ‘em in stack ‘em high type photographer, but…we are a little more discerning and we wanted something special. And we were prepared to pay for it as well.

Quality Wedding Photography

yvette craigSo, we talked to Yvette Craig a wedding photographer in Kent as to what we should be asking, and indeed, expecting from hiring a quality service for our ceremony and reception.

Yvette is a “Northern Lass” who moved down to Kent about 12 years ago, and started her business from scratch. She has a gritty determination about her, that’s for sure. But, it’s when you look at her pictures that it becomes easy to see how she has become a high quality, top end photographer.

So, I asked Yvette what the difference is in paying for a high end service, I then sat back and listened…here’s a precised version of what Yvette had to say!

You Get What You Pay For

The bottom line is you get what you pay for! If you only want to afford a small amount you will get poor quality pictures, not well presented and the chances are you will not be happy with the end result. A cheap photographer will not be able to afford to spoend time with you planning your day. Find out what is important for you, getting to know you and most importantly finding out what sort of photographic styles you like or want for your portfolio. I believe this is vitally important.

O.K, I do charge a high price, but all of my clients love my work and tell me they think it was worth every penny.

Why do they think this?

Qualification

It’s simple. I do not even allow them to hire me until I have qualified what they want on the ‘phone, checked they are happy with the ball-park price and it is only then that we arrange to meet. This “pre-qualification” is so important. Because I do charge upwards of £2,000 for a wedding I can’t afford to spend time with “tyre kickers” who are only looking to pay £300. That may seem aloof, but it’s not. I work with discerning clients who want the best, it is in everyone’s best interest that I qualify the fact that we are right for each other.

Once qualified I will then have an extended meeting with the couple. During this meeting I will give them full access to me entire portfolio (if they want) and take as long as it takes to decide on styles and nature of shot. We’ll discuss the venue in detail and I’ll try to understand their families and characters I am likely to encounter on the day.

Building True Realtionships

Most importantly I will build a relationship with my clients. This relationship is vital and we must both like and trust each other. I am going to be an integral part of the biggest day of their lives. I help to “oil the wheels” of the day. I help the couple top enjoy the photo part of the day as much as possible, all while aiming to get the best shots possible.

I like to get those intimate moments, I like my pictures to ooze the love and enjoyment of the day. I love to get those candid shots that show the realtionships between people. I am an expert in the effects of light and I use this knowledge to deliver some stunning backdrop shots for the couple.

How do I do this? I invest heavily in the most up to date digital equipment. This is absolutely necessary in thse hi-tech days. I have twelve high spec digital cameras. I’ll always have at least four with me at any given wedding and I run image capture in tandem. That means I save the images to two discs, just in case one gets corrupted. I also upload to my cloud storage within minutes of returning to my studio after a shoot.

Pre-Wedding Pictures

Finally, I go the extra mile. I offer a pre-wedding shoot and quality albums and methods of presentation. This is going to be the way most couples remember their wedding day. It is vital it is exactly what the couple want…vital. I also have some “trade secrets” that I employ that can really help the day go with a bang, but that’s for my clients’ to know.

It was really interesting to talk to Yvette and I was mega impresssed by her attention to detail and her commitment to the couples she works with.

So, if you’re looking to hire the best wedding photographer in Sussex or Kent, then check out Yvette’s site, you can find her at www.yvettecraigphotography.co.uk

Here’s an example of Yvette’s work – amazing.

And another example – click here

A Key Ingredient In Your Wedding

September 9th, 2013

Stress Free Weddings

I was interested to hear a horror story about how a completely inept wedding photographer spoiled a couples’ special day. Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life and you want it to go as smoothly as possible. Let’s face it, you want to enjoy yourself on this most special of days without having to deal with incompetent suppliers on the day.

So, it was with some trepidation that I set about the task of finding a top notch photographer for my daughter’s wedding in and around the oxford area. I was looking for someone who understood the importance of the day for my daughter and both our families. I was also looking for a quality photographer who would produce stunning images and pictures but who would not be over intrusive and join in with the atmosphere of the day.

I am absolutely delighted that I found Alexandra Jane Photography!

Alex is a Northern Lass and has a great sense of humour. Her infectious laughter added so much to the day as did her bad jokes. She was just amazing at getting all the guests to do the right thing at the right time and generally joined in the happy day. She stayed through the meal and inot the early evening and made sure she got not only traditional wedding shots, but some very unusual and unique shots of people enjoying themselves.

But, the acid test of wedding photography is, of course, the end result. Wow, that’s all.

wedding photography oxford

Some of Alex’s Amazing Work

The portfolio Alex produced was simply stunning. She left about an hour after the evening had started and was back within 90 minutes with the porfolio for people to look at as well as having everything online so people could look via their smart devices – just amazing service. So quick and with great quality.

I have to say, I was genuinely overwhelmed by the service and end product we received from Alex.

She does weddings over to West Buckinghamshire as well as in all the major venues in and around Oxford. If you need a wedding photographer in Oxford, then do check out Alex. It takes a lot to impress me, but I was seriously impressed in all aspects!

You can find Alex at http://alexandrajane.co.uk

 

Kitchen Designers

June 17th, 2013

Kitchen Designers

My wife has always had a good eye for designing, be it colour schemes for thr living room, fitted furniture for the bedbroom or even a bespoke design for kitchens. So, it was really interesting when we went visiting friends in Thatcham – friends who were about to have a new kitchen designed. Knowing my wife’s “penchant” for design, or as they put it “you have an eye for these things” we looked over some of their potential plans.

To be fair most of the designs we looked at were absolutely brilliant. Kitchens in Berkshire are obviously the “in thing” as I was suitably impressed by what we saw. By far the best deisgn was from these Guys – Anthony Mullan

bespoke kitchens in berkshire

Just look at this amazing bespoke design in their website header image. The worktops are the deepest black ganite you could ever imagine with those amazing little sparkly bits in it. It just looks so amazing when the under cupboard lights shine on the work surfaces and the granite almost seems to shimmer and sparkle.

I also really like the contrast between the wooden fronts and cupboards and the darker granite. This against the brilliant (and shiney) silver fawcet and utensils gives a stunning contrast that it is difficult to match.

They were also considering a coloured design based around a red tiling backwash and red coupboard fronts. I wasn’t so sure about this and whilst my wife did point out a number of positives, this design came third.

The final design under consideration was far more contemporary with lots of white frontage. Whilst it looked great it was agreed it suffered from a lack of contrast and would probably be extremely, extremely difficult to keep clean. Let’s face it, a kitchen not only has to look good, it does have to be pracrtical as well. If you’re like us we cook most nights, so it needs to be easily maintained and cleaned as well. So, this design was knocked back into second and the traditional design shown in the picture won.

All three of the designs under consideration were from Anthony Mullan and they clearly outshone the other kitchen designers around the Berks area. If you’d like to check out their designs you can find them at:-

http://anthonymullan.com/

Here are some pretty cooldesign ideas for you to check out.