Homes and Gardens

Financial Advice

Raise Money with Equity Release

Do you have financial worries or something that you would like to save up for? Then Equity Release could be the answer.

Equity Release is a way of using your house or another object which has capital value to help you obtain a lump sum or steady stream of income, using the value of the house or item to gain finance.

How would you spend the money?

Money raised from Equity Release could help you over a difficult time such as financing carers, arranging nursing, hospital care or medical equipment for an elderly member of the family. 

Renovating your property and making costly repairs such as building a conservatory, repairing the roof, installing double glazing, or decorating your home and bringing it up to date, might be something you could now consider.

Do you need to help your children or grandchildren with finance? Education can be expensive, particularly private education or university fees. Extra funding could help a young person fulfil their potential and prepare them for a future career.

Maybe there is a family wedding coming up and you are planning an event. Or perhaps you are celebrating a special anniversary or birthday and would like to make a party for your family and friends. Paying for a hall, catering, clothes and entertainment can be expensive.

Perhaps it’s time for a holiday and a break from life and your worries. A cruise can be a great way to relax in luxury and get to see the world. A beach holiday in the sun might be the perfect way to recharge your batteries. Or perhaps you have family overseas you would like to visit.

Maybe you would like to invest in a second property in the countryside away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Or buy a villa in Spain or France where you can get some sunshine and enjoy some great food during the colder months of the year.

Your Dream Shopping Basket

If you decide to release money from your home, it’s up to you how you spend it. So why not start making your wish list today?

Click here to use this equity release calculator and discover how much equity is available to you and your family.

The Potted Garden Tips

The Wonder of
Window Boxes

Window boxes can bring a touch of glamour to any window sill and provide everyone with the opportunity of growing flowers, veg and herbs outdoors, without the need for a garden.

When planting up your window box, there are a few things you need to bear in mind.  A window-box looks best if it fits as exactly as possible to the size of the window and whatever type or style you use, make sure it is securely anchored. 

Ensure your container has drainage holes, and the same goes for any plastic liner you are using (important for wooden window boxes as liners protect against rotting or warping due to prolonged contact with wet soil).

Plants will use up the limited nutrients in compost quite quickly, so mix slow-release fertiliser granules into the compost when planting – this will gradually release nutrients throughout the growing season for a brilliant display.

Make sure that your window boxes are easily accessible from either side. They will need frequent watering and tending, especially in the summer months, so it’s important they are easy to reach.  To stop your window boxes drying out quickly, water them regularly and consider incorporating water-retaining gel into your planting medium.

Boxes that seem to be overflowing with flowers provide a more beautiful and natural look so go for cascading plants to soften edges, and plant flowers close together so that they appear to be bursting with foliage.  For a suitably lush effect you need plenty of leaf so include at least one good foliage variety in each plant mix.

Annuals and tender perennials such as sun loving petunias, lobelia, fragrant nicotiana and night scented stocks usually grow for a year before being discarded so they don’t require much root space.  Half-hardy perennials, such as geraniums, are perfectly at home growing in containers and, if you deadhead regularly, they’ll provide continuous blooms for months. 

If your kitchen window box is in the sun, then you can grow a variety of edible plants such as dwarf tomatoes, lettuce and peppers, as well as herbs like thyme, chives, parsley, and sage. 

Many of us will have some, if not all, windowsills that are in shade for the best part of the day so shade lovers such as ivy, hart’s tongue and ferns are a good choice.

The beauty of window boxes is that with a mixture of perennial and annual plants you can have a seasonal makeover to keep everything looking fresh. 

Summer planting can include french marigolds, begonias, busy lizzies, and fuchsias with trailing sweet peas or lobelia; for winter selections try combining dwarf skimmia japonica, hellebores, cyclamen and winter heather. 

If pots and containers are just part of your outside space then here are some gardening tips for this month from the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) 

1. Plant out seedlings and young plants

2. Watering and weeding

3. Start spraying roses to stop black spot and mildew

4. Fast growing hedges will need a trim

5. Plant hanging baskets and containers

6. Plant salad leaves seeds

7. Tie up climbers

8. Feed spring bulbs for next year

9. Plant out tomatoes

10. Mow the lawn

Easy Cleaning at Home

Spring Clean With Cordless Confidence

Proven to remove more dirt and with more than twice the runtime of best-selling cordless vacuums, the VAX Blade 32V Cordless Vacuum has the cleaning performance of a corded vacuum

The powerful suction of the VAX Blade 32V Cordless vacuum not only makes it suitable for the whole house clean on both floors and above floor surfaces, but its ‘grab & go’ nature also means that you can keep on top of dust and debris, as and when the mess occurs during the day.

The VAX Blade 32V Cordless Vacuum cleaner is slim, sleek and lightweight. It also converts into a detachable handheld vacuum suitable for cleaning stairs, skirting boards, radiator covers, and other hard to reach above the floor cleaning surfaces.

The VAX Blade 32V vacuum  delivers a cleaning performance that is as good as a corded vacuum, by combining a state-of-the-art 32V lithium-ion battery with its powerful floorhead and motorised brushbar, which spins 4000 times a minute to deliver efficient suction and pick-up of dirt and debris.  

VAX SMART CONTROL™ This innovative dial is designed to offer a smarter, more efficient way of cleaning, instantly informing you of how much power you have left. It also offers the option for extra suction power at the touch of a ‘boost’ button for picking up stubborn dirt. For the full 45-minute runtime, switch to normal mode. This gives you enough power to clean your whole home in one go.

Key features include:

Multi-Floor Cleaning – The VAX Blade 32V Cordless Vacuum has been designed to effectively tackle both carpets and hard floors. The innovative rotating brush bar in the powered head accessory is perfect for carpets, with the motorized brushbar loosening the most stubborn of dirt with its powerful pick-up. For hard floors, the VAX Cordless Blade 32V will efficiently pick up debris without the need of the brushbar.

Balanced and Lightweight – Weighing only 3kg, the VAX Blade 32V Cordless Vacuum is perfectly balanced for use as the battery is incorporated into the handheld part of the vacuum enabling effortless cleaning.

Long runtime and long lasting high performance – Powered by the latest rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery technology, the VAX Blade 32V Cordless Vacuum provides a powerful 45 minutes runtime from a 4-hour charge giving you enough suction power and time to clean your whole home twice without re-charging. It is easy to charge and can be charged as a handheld or as an upright attached to the wall bracket.

Detachable handle and accessories – The reach wand makes hard to reach areas accessible whether up high, down low, or in-between. Once the reach wand is detached the VAX Blade 32V Cordless Vacuum turns into a handheld vacuum which is perfect for stairs, pet hair removal, cars, upholstery cleaning and getting in all those nooks and crannies. The power head, crevice tool and dusting brush accessories can be fitted to both the reach wand and handheld when in operation to suit different cleaning jobs.

Easy to Clean – Simply hold the handheld part of the vacuum over a bin and press the dirt release button to allow dirt and debris to fall into the bin. The VAX Blade 32V Cordless Vacuum also comes with removable and reusable filters which can be tapped over a bin every 4-6 uses to remove dirt and washed every 3 months depending on the level of use.

Buy the VAX Blade 32V Cordless Vacuum from and other retailers priced RRP £219.99 including free delivery and 2-year guarantee.

Each VAX Blade 32V Cordless Vacuum comes with 2-in-1 dusting brush and crevice tool, charger and wall mount.

Wildlife in your Garden

Gardening for Wildlife

Spring is the ideal time to start thinking about creating a haven for the wildlife in your garden. Whether you have a small urban space, a large country estate or somewhere in between, a sustainable wildlife garden generally starts with sensible planting.

Seeking out the right plants can often be a challenge but CJ Wildlife have done most of the hard work for you and selected a range of over 200 wildlife friendly plants.

Their team of experts have specifically chosen plants that will appeal to British birds, mammals and insects and provide them with beneficial nectar, berries or safe refuge. 

Growing a variety of different plants is the best way to attract a wider variety of wildlife and these are some of the types of plants you could consider:


Choosing plants that have bright, colourful, highly scented flowers will often help to attract bees, butterflies and insects, especially when they are rich in nectar too.

CJ Wildlife has some great ‘Season Specials’ to look out for.

Look out for CJ Wildlife offers where you can get 10 plants for just 99p each (on selected varieties).

This pictures shows admiral butterflies on pretty pink daisies.

Butterfly Bushes

Buddlejas are a must for anyone wanting to encourage more butterflies into their garden and add a delightful splash of colour to any garden.

As well as a range of Buddlejas – CJ Wildlife also supplies a Live Butterfly Garden – a great way to introduce children to wonders of the natural world as you watch caterpillars transform into magnificent Painted Lady Butterflies before your eyes.

Fruit Bushes

Plants that provide a natural source of food, such as edible berries on fruit bushes, will attract a variety of birds (and if there is abundance of fruit there should be enough to make a tasty pie for you too!). 

CJ Wildlife has carefully selected varieties that are hardy and disease resistant. They are also all self-pollinating which means there is no need to have multiple plants of the same variety next to each other – perfect for smaller gardens.

Long Grass

Leaving areas of garden ‘wild’ with long grass can attract mammals such as hedgehogs as well as an abundance of insects.

By adding some wildflower seeds you can create your own mini meadow in your garden.

The addition of a hedgehog house and insect habitats will encourage even more wildlife to your wild patch for you to watch and nurture. 

CJ Wildlife also offers a range of Hedgehog food so that you can provide them with nutritious meals.

Wildlife Essentials

Don’t forget that as well as the right plants, supplementary food and water will also play an important part in caring for your garden wildlife, and feeding the birds in spring and summer is just as important as feeding them in winter.

Although it is true that more natural seeds and insects are available, it is also true that during the breeding season the demand for food increases dramatically and the need for particular nutrients has greater importance.

Parent birds will require additional energy when building nests, laying eggs and collecting food for their young, so high calorie food is still vital – why not try CJ Wildlife Hi-Energy No Mess or Gourmet Small Bird Mix which will be perfect for fledglings learning to feed themselves.

Most young birds in the nest are fed on a diet of insects so parent birds will also be looking for protein-rich insects. Serving up live mealworms will make this search a whole lot easier. 

Request Your FREE Wildlife Guide!

To request your FREE Wildlife Guide and find out how you can make your garden more environmentally friendly and attract more wildlife into your garden.

How to get  your copy of the FREE Guide


Or call Freephone 0800 731 2820 for more information on any of the products above or to request a FREE Wildlife Guide. 

Request Your FREE CJ Wildlife Newsletter

If you enjoy reading about wildlife and the environment on a regular basis, then why not sign up to receive the FREE CJ Wildlife email Newsletter

The email Newsletter is packed full of useful seasonal tips and advice as well as all the latest products and offer

Click on

Washable Barrier Mats

Barrier Mats to Keep Your Home Clean 

Barrier mats are a spring/summer essential as homeowners throw open their doors to enjoy inside/outside living.

The Rug Seller has just launched some fabulous new spring/summer 2018 designs from eco-friendly brand Hug Rug, that will stop dirty shoes and muddy paws in their tracks. 

Absorbent and Washable…

It’s hard to make a good first impression when the hallway is covered in mud.

With an extra-absorbent cotton surface, these barrier mats trap around 95% of dirt from entering the home.  That’s a serious amount of time saved on the perpetual task of mopping floors.

Once they’ve absorbed all the muck, Hug Rug barrier mats can be machine washed in a domestic washing machine.

High Quality Barrier Mats with
Seriously Impressive Eco-credentials!

The Rug Seller’s Hug Rug barrier mats also have a light environmental footprint.

The backing of these mats is made from recycled PET plastic bottles and they’re 100% recyclable.

For those looking to introduce low impact living into their lifestyle and put plastic waste to good use – this is a great choice.

Daniel Prendergast, design director at The Rug Seller says, “Summer always causes an increase in footfall from animals and children making the most of the warmer weather, especially in high traffic areas like hallways. 

“Hug Rug barrier mats are highly-effective barriers to dirt – stopping it at the door. They suck up moisture too (well it is the British summertime) reducing the risk of slipping.

The pure cotton surface is soft underfoot for delicate little paws and toes.

“And there’s a huge range of designs. Just because Hug Rug barrier mats are practical doesn’t mean they’re any less stylish. 

“From bright and bold designs, classic stripes, florals and chevrons to quirky farmyard animals or fun slogans there are designs to suit every taste and style of home. 

“In fact, these doormats look so good you might not want to walk all over them!”

For more information about Hug Rug barrier mats from The Rug Seller click on

Keep Your Home Tidy

Cut Out the Clutter
with Clearabee

New research from Clearabee, the on-demand rubbish removal business, reveals the nation’s hoarding habits and how ranks higher than meditating and pampering when it comes to beating depression.  

A quarter (28%) of British adults admit being hoarders and one in ten respondents confess to not having decluttered for over five years. Looking at specific hoarding tendencies it’s clear that a greater proportion of British people could fall into the hoarding category.

More than half of respondents (56%) admitted to keeping useless items for sentimental reasons 55% currently keep clothes that no longer fit or that they no longer wear “just in case”

52% keep old tickets and receipts from memorable events

One in five (20%) keep electrical devices that no longer work or other broken items

Old clothes , bikes and bread makers topped the chart of the most useless possessions, whilst  the quirkiest “unwanted” items included toilet seats, a six foot wooden skeleton, 60 year old football programs and some old teeth.

The three most commonly hoarded unwanted items in British home were:

1. Clothes

2. Bike

3. Bread makers

Decluttering is the nation’s favourite Spring pastime

Despite a large number of people indulging in hoarding habits, Clearabee’s research shows that decluttering is the most popular activity to tackle this time of the year. Whilst less than one in 10 people (9%) plan to enroll an exercise class this Spring and 17% intend to embark on a detox plan, more than half (57%) intend to undertake some sort of Spring clean, making it the most popular activity this season. Women and people aged over 55 are the categories most likely to have a clear out of their house for a fresh start to the new season (65%).     

Interestingly, decluttering is also considered as one of the best techniques to provide a mental boost. Almost a third (28%) of people said they turned to decluttering when they feel low, more than pampering themselves (26%) or meditating (14%).

Jo Hemmings, Behavioural Psychologist and Relationship Coach explains, “There is no doubt that in our increasingly consumerist society, we are not simply buying more goods but collecting more clutter than ever. With 28% of people reporting that a good declutter gave them a boost when feeling low, Spring is the perfect time to have a clear out. The longer days mean that our energy levels are already on the rise, putting us in a better mood and having a good declutter of our unwanted goods, not only clears garages, lofts and spare rooms, it also clears our minds too, making us feel more energetic and less stressed. It’s a win/win situation!”

Daniel Long, founder and managing director at Clearabee, concludes, “Our research reveals how much unwanted junk is currently in British homes and how tackling hoarding tendencies by Spring cleaning can help on many levels. Decluttering is regarded as the traditional Spring-time activity and it’s good to see how many people are planning to clear out their house before the start of the summer.”

About Clearabee

Based in Birmingham, Clearabee is the UK’s largest on-demand rubbish removal service operating nationwide using only its own fully trained and vetted employees. It employs 170 people, operates a fleet of 75 vehicles, and provides junk clearance and rubbish removal services to thousands of domestic and commercial customers across the UK each month.

Clearabee is licensed by the Environment Agency and accredited by the Contractors Health and Safety scheme. More than 90% of the waste collected by Clearabee is recycled or reused and Clearabee actively chooses zero-to-landfill waste processing partners wherever possible.

For more information about Clearabee click on

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