Tuesday 30 June 2015

When is it right to use finance?

Pete (the hubby) and I are not natural risk takers.  We don't buy lottery tickets, we went to Vegas and didn't gamble and we've always taken out fixed rate mortgages.  Debt makes us both uncomfortable.  We are lucky, Pete earns a good wage and we can afford for me to stay home to look after the boys, for now.  This does mean that we have to be careful with our money though.  You won't find us holidaying in Jamaica (one day maybe!) and we don't drive a fancy car.  That's not to say we don't have holidays or a good car, we do, but we do it within our budget.  Holidays are UK or France.  The car is a family run around and Pete rides his bike to work meaning that it doesn't get used often anyway!

Sometimes, we have had to make large purchases.  We have always tried to save up before buying very expensive items but we've found that is much harder now we are on one income and have two boys.  When it comes to things like sofas or mattresses, we have used store finance schemes.  Pete is much more uncomfortable with schemes like this than I am (sensible person!!) but I always think that as long as you use these things to your advantage then it's OK.  The key is to look for 0% finance or credit cards.  You do NOT want to be paying interest.

We bought a new mattress recently and we wanted to make sure it was an excellent one that will last us 15 years or more.  This meant that it was VERY pricey!! So, we used the stores credit scheme and we are paying it off in monthly installments over 6 months.  That way we could have the mattress when we needed it (and we did really need it, our old one was grim!) but pay it off without putting ourselves out of pocket and crucially without paying more than the actual cost of the mattress.

There is a very handy site online which can offer you all sorts information on companies that offer credit schemes for products from clothing to furniture, it's worth a look if you're thinking about making a purchase using credit.  Click here for more info!

Saturday 27 June 2015

Keep safe with CosmEthics

I've written a few times about trying to use healthy and safe products, both on myself and my family. I've always preferred to stick with more "natural" products where I can.  That's not to say that I don't recognise the benefit of modern medicines at all and I'm certainly pro immunisations!!  I also know that "natural" doesn't definitely mean safe. We all know about poisons which occur in nature!  However, there are some ingredients like SLS that I do like to avoid in my products.  We all have sensitive skin in our family and I know we benefit from avoiding harsh chemicals.

I recently found out about a very hand app. It's all about apps these days!  Anything which is handy and can make our lives easier is good in my book.. or my phone ;-)  This particular app has been created by CosmEthics and is available free on iOS and Android.  The idea of the app is to give users a quick understanding of cosmetic products ingredients.  You can also add personal "alerts" which can flag up ingredients which are particularly problematic for you, such as in the case of allergies.  I wanted to share this information because this is something that I am genuinely interested in and I know there are many others out there who like to know about what is in their products.

At present I have been looking up products online, googling each separate ingredient before deciding if I wanted to buy it.  This app will now do that for me! Yay! Time saved!

Friday 26 June 2015

Funky Little People - Summer Sale!

One of my favorite online retailers and one of our longest standing sponsors, Funky Little People are having their summer sale!

There are some amazing bargains to be had from funky Smafolk bedding to wonderful Dunns t shirts.  It's got to be one of the best places to stock up on your Scandi addiction!!

Go check it out!

Funky Little People Summer Sale, Freds, Dunns, Smafolk

Funky Kid Friday - Mini Rodini Swimwear

Hurrah!! The sun has (mostly) got his hat and we've been getting out to play!  I'm lucky enough to enjoy all seasons.  I love the smell in the air in Autumn, the colours, the falling leaves.  I love wrapping up warm in Winter and the chance of snow always excites me.  We don't get it much in Somerset and I just see it as fun, not a bother!  Spring feels refreshing and exciting.  What I love most about Summer is just how easy it is to get outside.  Of course, it's not like all rain stops but it is generally dryer and even if it's cloudy, it's still warmer.  My boys love it outside, Felix in particular. He would spend the whole day outside if he could.

Getting out in the garden means getting the paddling pool and sprinkler out!! I'll be honest, my two do love running around in the nuddy but there are times when a swimming cosy comes in handy!!  Visits to the beach or pool.  On holiday.

I wanted to share Mini Rodini's swimwear collection with you today. MR are a brand that I truly love.  I get very excited when they bring out a new collection but best of all, their old collections don't date.  Their clothing is all fantastic quality (we have quite a bit of it, I can vouch for this!) and it really lasts, washing well.  They have a truly stunning swimwear collection at present.  You can still buy some items from previous collections, they all look great!

I love the UV suits they sell.  I'm a fan of UV suits for kids, especially younger ones.  When you have someone who is outside as much as Felix is, it's useful to know they are protected.  I'll be honest, like many, he's not a big fan of being held down and creamed up!! With UV suits you know that a good portion of their skin is covered.  These suits are the equivalent of SPF 50+, very high, and the material is breathable and dries quickly.  So no staying damp or getting all sweaty.

Mini Rodini Swimwear 2015, Swimwear, Kids Swimwear, Mini Rodini
Image Source: Mini Rodini

For older children MR have a stunning range of swimsuits, shorts and pants.  There are some unisex friendly designs and definitely something to suit every child!  I think I would get Ethan the heart print swim pants or the spotty ones.  I'd get Felix a heron print UV suit.  They'd be the most stylish boys by the pool, I'm sure!!

Prices range from £18 for swimpants to £50 for a UV suit.  MR also have a summer sale on just now - worth a look!

What have your kids been rocking this week?  Link up any kids fashion posts below.  Please don't forget to link back to me in your blog post and display my badge.  Tweet me your link and I'll retweet!

Have a gorgeous weekend all!

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Duvet sets avaibible at Tobias & The Bear!

Wow!! The day has finally come!  I really adore gorgeous kids bedding.  My boys are very lucky and they have a stunning range of bedding to choose from.  My favorite sheet for Felix's cot bed is hands down the one I bought from Tobias & The Bear.

Not so long ago I asked if T&TB would make a duvet cover and I was told they were planning too... well, guess what!! They are now here!!

I can't recommend their gorgeous bedding enough and this is totally on my list to buy - go check them out!

Mums Know Best

I was recently contacted about a campaign run by Littlewoods, #MumsKnowBest.  Now, when growing up, it seems to many of us, I suspect, that our Mum's don't know best.  That in fact we do.. and then we grow up, have children of our own and realise that we actually know nothing.  Not. A.  Thing.  Our own Mum's though?  They become a walking encyclopedia of child knowledge.  A source of comfort, support and understanding.

I know that not everyone has a great relationship with their Mum.  Those of us that do are very lucky. I know that for me, I became to truly understand and appreciate my Mum when I myself became a Mum.  Suddenly I got it.  I realised all she and my Dad had gone through for my brother and I.  The pain and discomfort of pregnancy and labor.  Sitting up all night feeding, staggering around bleary eyed yet somehow managing to look after us.  Looking after the house with far fewer conveniences than I have!  A twin tub for washing countless terry towels, if she was lucky! No microwave.  No mobile phones and twitter for support!

I can't really share any stories from my teen years of where, actually, my Mum knew best.  Firstly, I was quite a good (boring) child and I never really rebelled.  But I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that for the most part, my parents just let my brother and I get on with whatever it was we wanted to do.  I think this respect they had for us and our ability to make our own choices was very supportive and something I want to replicate!  I'm not saying that my Mum never told me off, but I can honestly say that I can't think of a time when she told me that I shouldn't do something or that doing something would be a bad idea.  I think she saw that it would be good for me to sometimes make the wrong decision and then find out what the consequences would be.  I did a few stupid things like getting drunk.  My lovely Mum cleared up after me and supported me the next day.  I never caused too much trouble though!

My Mum is a pretty unique person.  I think that anyone who knows her would agree.  She didn't have the easiest start in life.  In fact, she was very poorly as a child and it wasn't really expected that she would make it through childhood.  She was severely ill with asthma and in the 50's and 60's asthma was a killer.  Of course, it still can be today, but I think it is generally better managed.  My Mum told me stories of being in hospital.  She spent a great deal of her childhood in hospital.  A few times they didn't expect her to make it through the night.  My mother is a strong person though and she battled through.  She told me how she lost all her baby teeth due to the medication she was on!  Her childhood was very different to mine.  When she wasn't ill in hospital she was at boarding school.  I think her upbringing made her fiercely independent and gave her a real lust for life.   Some of her stories from her teen years in the late 60's/early 70's are real eye openers.  I think she was a lot more exciting than I was!  She told me about how she used to hitchhike around with her friend..  Goodness only knows what she was up to!

When she was 17 Mum moved up to London and studied to become a chiropodist.  She met my Dad who was working in Bristol at the time and they moved down to this part of the country.  My Mum remained a rather unique woman.  She was quite "old" when she had me, at 30.  This was 1982 remember and many women had already had their children in their early 20's.  Not only that, she went back to work when I was 6 months old.  As I said, my mother is very independent and likes to be busy.

What I really want to say about Mum is that not only do I know that she does know best (most of the time!) but she really knew what was best.  What would be best for me.  She has always gone the extra mile.  When I was 7 and started going to Brownies I was scared to go on my own.  She came with me, and not only that, she completed her guiding training and ended up running the Brownie pack!  She didn't force to me to continue doing things I wasn't happy doing.  When I told her that I wasn't enjoying ballet and gymnastics. she accepted what I was telling her and I stopped going.  No forcing me into things.   Mum is always thinking of others.  She would do lovely things like create special "holiday bags" for my brother and I when we went away, a bag with activities, some new toys.  She has always supported us and our community.  When I got involved with the Scout & Guide Band she helped out there.  She would come on marches with us.  When a teacher at my infant school seriously dented my confidence she got me into a new school and made sure that I had the support I needed at home and at school to get my confidence back.  I know my Mum always has my back.

About 11 years ago Mum started having some health issues.  She was having some problems with her sight.  As is typical with my Mum she had been keeping a lot of this to herself but then there came one day when she could no longer ignore it.  Mum was still working almost full time, running her own chiropody practice as well as being an active member of the local W.I. and running a Rainbow pack.   She made an appointment at the doctor just to check things over... and then life changed.  The doctor recommended she go straight to hospital.  She was rushed up there.  I was at the hairdressers after finishing work when I got the call from my Dad telling me that Mum was in hospital having tests.  I rushed home, my heart in my mouth.  Dad had come home, he picked my brother and I up and we headed straight back to the hospital.

Being in the hospital family waiting area was one of the most grim times of my life.  I've never had a great relationship with hospitals because the only times I've ever been in them, something bad has been happening.  There is a great deal of noise in hospitals.   They are manic and overwhelming.  Seeing Mum lying down in a hospital bed was scary.  My Mum remained outwardly calm and in control but I have no doubt she must have been worrying in her head.  Who wouldn't be?  She had to have a lumber-puncture and scans on her brain.  I will never forget when the consultant came to see Dad, my brother and I in the family room.  My brother was in tears.  Dad looked scared and in shock.  I seemed to go into some sort of autopilot taking control.  We were all convinced he was going to tell us it was a brain tumor.  Thank God it wasn't.. but it wasn't nothing.  They believed Mum had MS.  It's very hard to diagnose MS and in fact, doctors don't really like to give it as a diagnosis.  You have to display a variety of symptoms and at different times.  A neurologist will look for areas of scaring in the central nervous system.

It wasn't great finding out about the MS.  Better than a tumor or other illnesses perhaps, but MS has still come along and changed our lives.  Mum never went back to work ever again.  She had to sell her practice and "retire" before her 50th birthday.  This disease has robbed her of the ability to work until an age of her choosing.  Whilst she remains the spirited fighter she has always been, she hasn't been able to do all she had planned.  Mum always talked of becoming a councilor for the local council when she retired.  She wouldn't be able to do that now.  Traveling further than Europe is not possible so she has had to accept that she won't see America, Australia and other places she might have wanted to visit.  She can't walk as far or for as long as she used to.  Driving anywhere other than the town in which she lives isn't possible.  She has to go to bed early every day and rest every afternoon.

Mum still does A LOT.  She wouldn't be the same if she didn't!  She runs book groups, studies geology, attends church, Mothers Union, volunteers in a child contact centre, helps run a toddler group and likes to be involved with my two boys as much as she can.  I hate that MS has changed how she would like to be living her life but I know that she has had to make her peace with it.  I know that she still does all she can.  So, whilst I cannot share stories of when I did something silly and Mum told me it was silly and she was proved correct I can tell you that I know my Mum does know best.  She shows me every day what is best.  Keep trying.  Keep doing things.  Don't let life hold you back.

Thank you Mum.

Friday 19 June 2015

Get 20% off at Chapter One!

I love Chapter One and wrote about them for Junior Style this week.  If you head over there you can read all about them and even get a 20% off code!  Check it out!!

Funky Kid Friday - Gecko Unisex Clothing

Last night a friend of mine alerted me to a very cool Kickstarter campaign.  It's no secret if you read my blog, or really see anything I post on social media that I am very pro unisex clothing.  I think it's super important that we teach our children that colours are nothing to do with gender and sexuality and that girls can be just as interested in space as boys and boys just as interested in looking after a doll as a girl might.   Equality my friends!

The Kickstarter campaign I heard about was set up by Gecko Clothing.  Gecko are a UK brand who specialise in unisex clothes.  They are currently trying to raise money to support their brand and expand their range of funky clothes.  There are only 4 days to go and, bless them, they still have a way to go to reach their goal.  Though I have to say they've done well, they've raised £3,025 so far!  In fact, I had to pledge myself and went for £20.  This is something I am passionate about after all!

Gecko Clothing, Unisex clothing, Kickstarter

I wanted to write about them today to help spread the word.  As bloggers we have access to a great audience.  I like to use my "voice" to help those I can!  I really like Gecko's eco credentials.  They aren't just about unisex clothes, they like to keep things as good for people and the planet as possible.  Sheep poo paper tags on clothes!  Fairtrade organic cotton with no nasties.  Clothes made in Fairtrade and GOTS registered factories who support local small farmers.  And something else which is a bonus - their clothes are built with cloth bums in mind so are extra roomy!!

I can't make you go and pledge, but I'd love it if you'd take a look!

Happy Friday and if you have a kids fashion post, please do join in below!


Friday 12 June 2015

Selling and buying a house - week two.

It's now two weeks since our house went up for sale and what a fortnight it's been.  If my blog is quiet it's because Felix is sleeping badly, causing me to be exhausted and not very motivated and because the remainder of my free-time has been taken up by getting out of our house for viewings, viewing other properties and dealing with sale related paperwork.

Really, I think we've been very lucky so far.  The biggest news I have is that our house has sold!  Yes, it'd been on for just over a week when it all went a little crazy.  My phone was ringing off the hook with offers on the house.  In the end we had two first time buyers bidding against each other which was amazing.  I can't believe it but the house sold for asking price!  Of course, this is all "subject to contract" and people do sometimes change their minds but assuming it all goes smoothly, this is very good!! We're happy that they are first time buyers because it helps keep the chain short.  They also have a good deposit and mortgage agreed.  We couldn't really ask for more!

What is even more exciting is that we made an offer on a house we like that has been accepted.  It took a few offers before the vendor went for it but I managed to get an offer £4K under asking price accepted.  Which is just as well because the place needs it's two bathrooms updated (yes, dammit!  Two bathrooms!) and one of it's two kitchens ripping out and one updating.  It was set up for dual occupation hence the two kitchens.  One of them is upstairs so that shall become a study or, as hubby would have it, a "man room" but it WILL include a craft/blogging nook for me.  Hurrah!  The boys will also have a very large bedroom each and a playroom.  Downstairs we'll have a separate dining area (no more eating in our living room and food being ground into the carpet) and will gain a downstairs loo and utility room.  There's a large garage which has a garage door operated by remote which Pete is particularly excited!  Best of all, we're still within the same walking distance to school but closer to the town centre.  To say I'm excited is an understatement and I'm keeping everything crossed that it doesn't fall through!!!!


Boys with long hair

Felix has had epic hair from the moment he was born.  He came out with a full head of dark hair which never rubbed off.  He had a bit of a quiff thing going on and whilst it grew and got thicker and curlier, it also got lighter. Not that unusual, it seems the way that often, if you are born with dark hair, it goes light and vice versa.

Apart from two trims of his fringe, Felix has never had a hair cut.  I love knowing that the curly ends of his hair are his original baby hair.  His hair has always been a talking point!

Recently I posted a lovely photo of Felix and his hair on Instagram and mentioned that I'm thinking it might be time for a cut.  I love his hair, I love it long, but I'm facing increasing pressure from some people to get it cut.  Also, his hair gets knotted and tangled and no matter what brushes I use and how much conditioner I put on, it still gets tangled.  He hates me going near it with a brush or a comb.  So, I was starting to think that it might be time for the chop.  There was a huge outpouring of "Nooooo! Don't cut his hair! I lurrrrrrrrrrrve it!" so I've had to think again.  Because, really, I don't want to cut it.

Boys with long hair

I've decided on different tactics.  I've done some research on natural detanglers - I'm very careful with what I put on the boys skin and hair.  I found that Lucy from Lulastic makes her own hair detangler.  Her's called for vegetable glycerin which I couldn't locate locally.  I believe you can buy it online but I wanted to make something to help now!  As veg glycerin is derived from veg oil I decided to substitute it with olive oil.  I'll let you know how it works.  If you'd like to make it yourself, it's easy peasy.  You need a spray bottle (you can buy them in Boots & Superdrug) and the following ingredients:

1 tablespoon of Aloe Vera Gel
4 tablespoons of boiled water
2 tablespoons of Jojoba Oil
1/2 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin (or in my case, olive oil!)

Shake them together in your spray bottle and spray on damp hair.

Natural hair detangler

The other thing I'm going to do is to introduce Felix to hairbands.  I think this will be quite tricky because he doesn't like anything on his head.  He won't wear a headband, he won't wear a hat, as I mentioned, he doesn't like his hair being brushed, and he doesn't like having a hairband being put in, even though I try to do it gently!  I'm putting one in for a short time most days though in the hope he gets used to it.  I want there to be an option for keeping his hair out of his face when it's really windy, or if he's eating something messy or his hair is just generally getting in the way.

Boy Bun, Man bun, Boys with Long Hair

What I'd like to know is are there any other parents of long haired boys reading?  What's your experience of it?  Unsurprisingly Felix is mistaken for a girl every single day.  I'm wondering how long he'll be able to keep it long.  Can boys have long hair at school?  I'm sure that there aren't any rules on boys not being allowed to have long hair at school, but you rarely see it.  Am I setting Felix up for bulling by letting his hair grow long?

It goes without saying that the second he wants to have it cut, I will say yes.  I'm not going to force him to have long hair.  I hope though, that along with the embracing of all colours of clothing, and playing with dolls as much as trains that he'll be strong and be able to face any negatives having long hair may throw at him.

Funky Kid Friday - More Monochrome Madness!

I still can't get enough of the monochrome trend.  Is it even a trend any more?  Who cares.  I love it.  I remember when I first started buying kids clothes I thought black was too dark a colour for a child and that white was impractical.  So when the monochrome trend first came around I was scared to try it.. but I did eventually pluck up the courage and I'm so glad I did!

Firstly, it looks great.  Stylish.  I know it shouldn't really matter at all whether kids look stylish but I do like my boys to look nice and I don't see anything wrong with that.  I've discovered that actually, black and white work really well with kids.  Black is just about the most practical colour you can put them in.  Try staining black.  It's bloody hard to do.  About the worst you might suffer is a grease stain but that won't be glaringly obvious.  Or bleach, but kids aren't going to be playing with bleach (I should hope!) so that won't be an issue.  So, black?  A total winner.  As for white, well, I've discovered that as long as you take quick action with stains they aren't too problematic.  I like to use fairy soap (which I don't think you can buy any more, the green one) or similar "house hold" green soap as a pre-treatment bar.  A good soak in some soap powder and bicarb (amazing stuff, bicarb!) and then a hang on the line in the sun.  You're good to go.  If you have plain white tees or white clothes with designs that are printed on like screen print or have a plastic-y feel then you can even soak them in bleach and water!

So, forward to now, my boys have a great deal of monochrome clothing!!  One of my favorite high street ranges is Donna Wilson's collection for John Lewis.   The prices and quality are great.  They've had a sale on lately and I had to make a few purchases - and they fitted the mono-brief!!  At the weekend my two wore matching t-shirts my aunt had bought them from BHS.  Not a shop I ever really go in, but they are cute tees!

Donna Wilson, John Lewis, H&M, BHS, Monochrome, Mini Dressing

I still can't get enough of the '2' tee I bought Felix from Nor_Folk,  I've washed it about four times now and it still looks fantastic so they've obviously printed on to really good quality shirts which is always reassuring.  It just looks so bold.  And Felix recognises numbers and knows he's two so he likes wearing it!

Nor_Folk, Norfolk, Two, Cat socks, belle and the bear

He's such a poser, Felix, I think I'm going to have to enroll him with a model agency!!  I'm semi joking there.  I'm conflicted about the idea of young kids "working" and I'm not a pushy Mum.. but at the same time, he does have quite a unique "look" with his lion's mane and he's very used to having photos taken of him!  Anyone have any experience of kids modeling?

Want to share a kids fashion post?  Link up below!

Happy Friday all! XX

**linked with Mummy's Got Style for Fashion Friday**

Friday 5 June 2015

Funky Kid Friday - some sunshine!

Ahhh! Finally we're getting some half decent weather.  About bloomin' time, it is June!  It's so lovely to get outside without coats and not get battered by rain and wind.  I'm feeling somewhat revitalised!

I thought I'd share some pics from the weekend.  The boys have been getting a little better at playing together which is always good to see.  I bought them both an old Fisher Price plane on eBay so they've been having fun with those!

Two Little Kings, Poco Pato, GAP, Donna Wilson, Hubble & Duke


Leggings - Two Little Kings


Denim shirt - GAP
Cloud print tee - PocoPato
Socks - Hubble & Duke

Milk de la Milk, Fred & Noah, Donna Wilson, Bobo Choses, Mini Rodin

Milk de la Milk, Fred & Noah, Donna Wilson, Bobo Choses, Mini Rodin

Milk de la Milk, Fred & Noah, Donna Wilson, Bobo Choses, Mini Rodin

Tree print top - Donna Wilson for John Lewis
Milk de la Milk vest - Greyham NYC
Elephant leggings - Fred & Noah


Stripy top - Katvig
T shirt - Bobo Choses
Leggings - Mini Rodini

What have your littlies been rocking this week?  Link up below!  Please don't forget to link up to me and/or display my badge.  If you tweet me your link I can retweet it for you!

Happy Friday!

Thursday 4 June 2015

We're leaving home, bye bye...

I can't help quoting songs.  You can probably guess that by my blog title.  It seems I mostly quote songs from the '60s as well.  We shall blame the fact that until the age of 13 I listened to nothing other than my parents record collection (featuring French cabaret music from the 1930s up to classics from the 1970s) and Classic FM.  I was a bit of a strange one.  If you don't know, I'm slightly misquoting an amazing Beetles song, She's Leaving Home.  Epic song.  Check it out.

I digress.  I'm not here to write about songs today.  No.  Not at all.  We have decided to put our house on the market and move to somewhere (hopefully) bigger.  We still want to stay in the same town.  Our families are nearby, our friends are nearby, the boys have a life here, Ethan is settled into his school.  We like our town!  It has everything we want, a pool, a seafront, the oldest continually running cinema in the world (yeah!) a library, great cafes.  Excellent schools/nursery's/preschools.  We should be getting a brand new softplay soon as well!

Our house is lovely.  We've been here for 11 years now - how time flies - and in that time we've completely renovated the place.  We've replaced the front door, back door, windows, internal doors, kitchen, bathroom, had a door installed so you can access the garage from the inside and set up a utility area in there, had decking put out the back, paved the front drive, had cavity wall insulation put in and the highest level of loft insulation put in, put low energy LED bulbs in all lights, repainted (several times!) re-carpeted/floored, painted the external garage door, had all guttering etc replaced, had a new fuse box, had a new boiler, landscaped our garden and put in a lovely summer house.  Whoever buys this place will have such a fantastic home and we are going to find it very hard to move!  However, when we moved in we were a couple on our own.  Now, we are a family of four.  Two young boys.  One day, we are going to have two teenage boys and they are going to be big and have a lot of stuff.  We already feel crammed in and one bathroom/loo is no longer enough.  Especially once I start toilet training Felix in a few weeks!

No... it's time to find something a little bigger.. and I thought it would be worth recording our moving journey on here.  After all, it's quite an interesting subject!

We have never sold a property before, this is all new to us.  This house was our first house.  This will be our first experience of buying and selling at the same time and being in a chain.  Already, just a few days in it's been a roller coaster!

Last week we looked around a property and whilst it needed quite a bit of work we both fell for it.  At that stage our house wasn't on the market as Pete still wasn't sure about selling.  We wanted to make an offer on this place despite ours not being sold.  This house had been listed for about 2 months already and hadn't had any offers on it so we felt quite confident.  I made an offer just under asking price and low and behold, someone else made an offer on the same day!  Typical!  The other couple had already sold their place and were living in rented accommodation so the vendor went with their offer.

To say it was gutting would be an understatement.  A week on I still feel a burning annoyance when I think about it.  If only we'd acted sooner!! Life is full of iffs and butts, isn't it!! Still, one thing I can thank this experience for is that it lit a fire up our butts!  We got moving on listing our house and making sure it looked as good as possible.  We checked our financials so we know exactly what we can stretch to money wise (very important!).

My top tips for getting ready to sell would be:

- Work out what you can afford.  How much are you currently paying in rent/mortgage a month?  Can you afford to pay more?  Research current mortgage and interest rates.  Be aware that interest rates change.  Know about the length of terms on mortgages.  You don't have to get a 20 year mortgage, you can have a 25, 30 and even 35 year (age dependent!) term.  We can afford to borrow more if we go for a 30 year term.  Make sure though that you over pay if you can and decrease your term when you remortage, if you can!  When we bought our first place we took out a 35 year mortgage.  That was 11 years ago.  We have now paid off £30,000 of the amount we borrowed and our term is now 16 years remaining on a 20 year mortgage.  We would hope to do the same again this time around because we like the idea of being mortgage free as soon as we can!

- Look around your house and see what quick, cheap and easy changes/improvements you can make to help your house stand out.  Mow the lawn, tidy up paint work.  Clean your windows and doors.  De clutter.  Give your bathroom and kitchen (especially oven) a deep clean.  Put some hanging baskets up outside your property.  Make sure your garage door looks good (if you have one).  Weed your driveway.  These things are all small but they make your property look cared for.  Remember you are selling a "lifestyle"!

- Get addicted to Right Move!  It helps you know what's out there for you to buy but it also helps give you an idea of what your house is worth, how quickly similar ones are selling and how many others there are on the market!

- Get your house valued - by more than one agent!  It's more than likely agents will give you a very similar quote but the more you meet, the more you get an idea of which one is "for you".  Ask around for recommendations.  Some estate agents have better reputations than others.  Some will be great at selling larger properties, some better at renting properties etc..

- Ask questions.  Inform yourself.  There are important questions you need to ask before choosing which estate agent you want to sell your house through.  Don't just blindly accept what they say.  You must ask them:

1) How long is my contract with you?  If I list my house with you and it's not selling, how long before I can break out of the contract and list with another agent?  You don't want to be stuck with an agent you aren't happy with.

2) How much is your fee?  Estate agents make their money when they sell your house.  They take a percentage of the amount you sell for as their fee.  This can be any amount they want it to be but is usually (these days) in the region of 1-2% of your final sale value.  Please note that VAT is usually added on top.  By speaking to two different estate agents I was able to negotiate our fee down from a flat rate to a rate of 1% of final sale value including VAT (so all we will pay is 1%).  This is pretty competitive!!

3) EPC - something all houses need when selling now is an EPC (energy performance certificate).  EPCs are valid for 10 years so it's well worth getting one done as soon as you decide you want to sell your house.  In fact, once your house is listed for sale you have to provide one within 7 days otherwise it will be withdrawn from the market.  Many estate agents will offer to arrange an EPC for you and now doubt it will be fine and done quickly.  However, it will be more expensive.  A good idea is to look around for someone who conducts EPCs in your area.  I was able to arrange one for our house at a cost of £50 and it was done within 24 hours of my request.  This saved me a bit of money.

- View as many houses as you can, even if you think they aren't right or aren't in the right area.  We have found so far that ones we almost dismissed have been the ones we've liked the most!

- Expect a rollercoaster of emotions.  Moving and buying/selling is really emotional.  Offers are refused, houses can take longer than you think to sell, buyers can pull out, other people make an offer on a house you love and it goes to them.  It's a real emotional ride!

- Be flexible.  Estate agents will likely be calling you at short notices to ask if people can view your house.  As much as you can, say yes.  Although it's stressful in the interim, it should help you get a sale more quickly!

- Make a list of your must haves.  It's likely that you will have to make some compromises when you move but it's good to make a list of the things you feel you really don't want to budge on so that you end up somewhere that you'll really be happy.

We're very much at the beginning of this journey and discovering things as we go along.  It'll be interesting to see how it all pans out and of course I'll share the journey with you.  I'd appreciate any advice though - have you sold and bought before?  What was it like for you?