Essential Items To Pack For A Cycling Tour For Comfort

As the sun arrives so too does the prospect of a cycling tour, if you are anything like me and love nothing more than heading out for a week or so on your bike then you’ll know that the best way to do so is in comfort. I’ve done the cycling/camping thing before and to be honest, there was nothing worse than sitting and sleeping in a tent after a long days ride, not to mention putting the thing up! My ethos now when I hit the tour is to keep things comfortable, not always easy if you are just taking a backpack and cycle bags so you need to ensure you pack just the essentials and here are the things that I couldn’t do without on a tour.

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Balm

There is nothing, I repeat nothing worse on a cycling tour than chafing and balm is essential to your happiness on the tour. Failing to take this is simply criminal, even the most experienced cyclists suffer from problems like this and without balm, the rest of your trip is going to be painful and frankly, not enjoyable.

A Good Scarf

Scarves are all purpose items that can really help you on your trip, they can stop the dust from getting in your face, shield your head from heat, protect your neck from cold and wind and you’d be surprised how many times they come in handy to tie something up. The beauty of a scarf is that they are light enough to carry and flexible enough to fit in the smallest of bags.

Entertainment

Whether you will be staying in hotels or in a tent, entertainment is key to keep you smiling on your journey. Naturally you aren’t going to pack a tele on your back but a deck of cards, a small board game or even a little radio can provide you with some much needed entertainment on your travels, many items don’t take up much room and can provide hours of fun.

Sleeping Equipment

If you do choose to camp on your tour then it is worth investing well in your sleeping bag, these days you can find incredibly compact mummy sleeping bags that don’t take up much space, don’t weigh too much and provide incredible warmth and comfort. It can be tempting to pick the smallest and lightest bag but these don’t always provide the best comfort. A good nights sleep is key to enjoying the next day and aside from the bike, this should be your biggest investment.

Second Footwear

As much of a pain as it might be, carrying a second pair of shoes can prove to be a very smart move. Naturally you will need to select something that is small and flexible enough to fit in your bike bags or back pack but there are plenty of shoe types that you can look for that are exactly that, small and flexible. Wearing your SPD shoes all day and night can create sores on your feet, especially if they get wet, don’t run the risk, pop a second pair of shoes in and you will be thankful for the change at the end of the day.

 

Your Sassy And Classy Guide To Dressing For A Music Festival (All Seasons)

In my opinion, music festivals are the single best way to spend a weekend, 3 or 4 days in the outdoors, listening to a huge array of music that crosses all genres, people-watching, relaxing, drinking, chatting and generally forgetting about the World for a while. Music festivals are like a little bubble that you and thousands of others have decided to live in for a while where nothing from your daily life can touch you. Despite the image of muddy ground and sweaty people rolling on the floor in a sodden field, this doesn’t have to be the case and festivals give you a great opportunity to rock some sassy festival fashion. If you are planning on hitting any festivals this year then here are the must-haves that you need to take with you to keep things stylish.

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Wellies

The best thing about music festival clothing? Wellies, no longer are these those horrible green things that your dad uses when he’s in the garden, nowadays wellies are the ultimate fashion statement during festival season. You can buy wellies in every color available and with some amazing designs, from flowers to film characters, you name it. Wellies are comfortable, fashionable and practical, it doesn’t get much better than that. Just make sure you buy some good socks!

Shorts

As perfect as a sunny day is for a music festival, there is also a strong chance that it will be a washout and you need to be prepared for both, that is where the shorts come in. Skin dries far quicker than clothing so if it rains you will have no problems drying off if you’ve been wearing some shorts. Naturally if the sun is shining, then you may even be able to bronze those legs with a cool pair of shorts. My favorite shorts to wear at a festival is a pair of denims, I like them nice and short with the insides of the pockets hanging below, if you’re paranoid about your legs then you can always put some leggings on underneath.

Poncho

Nighttime at a festival can get pretty chilly, you can avoid the cold by rocking a cool hippy-style poncho. Ponchos are brilliant, they allow you to move freely, unlike with a chunky coat, and they will keep you warm and dry. Most festivals will sell them on site, usually natural fabrics but costs can be high, get prepared early and buy one before hand, there are plenty of high street and online shops that sell them at a great price.

There’s my top 3 fashion tips that you need to pack in your festival bag, the only other advice I would give is that accessories should be left at home, I can’t tell you the number of earrings and necklaces that I’ve either lost or have broken at a festival. If you do insist on sprucing up your outfit then look at cheap hair scarves or even bracelets that you can pick up for little cost and don’t mind losing, anything of value should be left on the dresser, it will get lost in the madness!

How To Dress For A Summer Wedding (Without Upstaging The Bride!)

Providing the weather is kind to you, the summer is the perfect time to have a wedding, sun shining, flowers in bloom and long days mean that not only will the photographs look amazing, but everyone can enjoy the day both inside and outside of the wedding venue. One of my favorite things about a summer wedding is that it gives the guests the perfect opportunity to don their summer clothes, bright colors, wavy dresses and you can use various hats and head pieces without worrying about them getting wet or blowing away. One danger that all women face when attending a wedding however, especially in the summer, is how to dress amazingly without upstaging the bride, to help you avoid such a wedding faux pas, here are some tips to help you out.

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You Can Wear White, But Be Careful

Many consider wearing white to a wedding a big no-no, this doesn’t have to be the case, you simply need to ensure that if you are going to opt for white that you are careful in your selection. If you wear a white dress make sure that it is heavily patterned or slightly off white to avoid clashing with the bride. Dresses with embroidered diamantes or glittered pieces should be avoided and length is very important too, my recommendation would be that you keep it short as most brides will be opting for floor length pieces. Do a bit of research beforehand if you can, find out what the bride and bridesmaids will be wearing so that you can avoid the most criminal wedding fashion mistake.

Leave Risqué at Home

Upstaging the bride isn’t just when you look better or the same as her, it can also happen when women dress too sexy, the eyes should be on the bride, not on your cleavage. There is nothing wrong with showing a little bit of flesh, especially for a summer wedding but you need to ensure that you do so in a classy way, legs are fine but figure hugging dresses or plunging necklines should be avoided.

Keep it Sensible

Unless you are planning on going to a kooky-stye wedding then your dress choices should be elegant and classy, stay away from anything crazy. In the same vein as avoiding dressing too sexy, you should also avoid anything that makes the guests stare more at you than her, crazy patterns or outlandish style has no place at the wedding and doing so will only anger the bride on her special day. The best approach is to speak with your friends about your choice of outfit, you may not think it looks so crazy but your friends and family will be able to tell you the truth. The same goes for hat and hair-piece choices, these are not items that most women wear on a day-to-day basis and the mistakes that I have seen people make with these items at weddings have been nothing short of criminal. Dress carefully and seek advice if you want to avoid upstaging the beautiful bride.

6 Reasons Why You Should Quit (Or Cut Down On Coffee)

No matter where you go in the World you are bound to see a Starbucks or cafe on the corner of the street, coffee has taken over as everyone’s favorite drink of choice yet many fail to see the dangers involved with taking in too much. Whilst there are benefits to caffeine intake, from both a health point of view and from an energy-boosting point of view, there is, like many things in this life, a limit to how much is too much. If you are unaware of the negative side of drinking to much coffee and why you should cut down on how much you drink, then read on for the truth about the benefits you will receive from drinking less of the tasty black stuff.

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Addiction

In its purest form, caffeine is a drug and like many drugs, it is addictive, when you drink coffee your body receives a boost in energy, caffeine helps to send chemicals flying around the body helping you stay more alert and more active. As the caffeine levels in your body drops, the body craves more, the idea of having an addiction would horrify most people and just because coffee is legal and sold in cute little cups, doesn’t mean that it is any less addictive than cigarettes or other drugs, break the cycle and free yourself from addiction.

Save Money

For many of us who pick up a coffee before work, on our lunch hour or when we are out and about, a couple of bucks for a coffee doesn’t seem like much, the cost however adds up over time and you can save yourself a lot of money by cutting down. Let’s assume you buy 2 cups a day at $2 per cup, that works out at $1465, the average American earns around $50,000 per year, that means that an average person buying 2 cups of coffee per day would spend almost 3% of their annual wages on coffee alone, staggering, cut down the coffee and save some money.

Better Sleep

Many of us head straight for a cup of Joe when we first wake up to give us a much needed boost to start the day, this in itself isn’t bad but many don’t know at which hour they should stop drinking coffee. Drinking coffee too late leads to many sleep problems, either not being able to sleep or having poor sleep in general. Your body will be full of energy for at least 4-6 hours after a cup of coffee and this has a cumulative effect, drink less coffee and enjoy a higher quality of sleep.

Improved Mood

Because of the inflated energy which coffee gives us and the chemicals that it sends flying around your body, we see a boost in mood after drinking coffee. When the caffeine leaves our system we often feel a crash in energy levels as well as mood as our body craves more, this leads to mood swings which can be avoided by cutting down on coffee.

Dental Benefits

Coffee is terrible for your teeth, from a health perspective there isn’t too much danger but coffee stains teeth and leads to a yellowy/brown stain on your pearly whites. It stands to reason then, that drinking less coffee and brushing your teeth regularly can help to avoid having discolored teeth.

Improved Skin Quality

Coffee is a diuretic and it strips the body of water, when this happens we become dehydrated as the body looks to replace the lost fluids, this is very dangerous for your skin. Healthy skin requires hydration and without it you will see your skin drying out and giving a wrinkled and saggy appearance. It seems crazy that a couple of cups of coffee per day can lead to such consequences but if you want beautiful looking skin, cut out the coffee.

6 Of The Best ‘Spiritual’ Destinations Around The World

Whatever belief systems have existed through the years, there have always been spiritual homes for them across the World. These places become the center point for religions and spiritual homes for those who believe, today many of these locations are still spiritual homes and incredible places that many visit to see the wonder of what they offer. Today we are going to look at 6 of the best spiritual destinations around the World where you can visit and drink in the atmosphere of these wonderful locations.

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Stonehenge

The famous stone slabs of Stonehenge are set in Wiltshire, England, estimations are that these stones were placed around 2600 BC and with the incredible weight of them it is astounding that with such primitive tools that they were able to place them there. For years these stones have become something of a mecca for druids and people gather each year in June for the summer solstice, the stones are said to give power and life.

Uluru

Uluru or Ayer’s Rock has long been seen as a very spiritual site for the Aborigine tribe of Australia. For years the Anangu Aboriginal people have conducted rituals, meetings and ceremonies around the huge sandstone monolith and it also attracts millions of visitors each year who flock to see this incredible feat of nature.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca citadel based in Cusco, Peru, this intricate set of buildings carved into the stone of the valley was an incredibly spiritual place fro the Incas until it’s abandonment during the Spanish conquest in 1450. One of the most popular tourist attractions in the World, Machu Picchu has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its incredible architecture and natural beauty.

Lourdes

This small village in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains in France has gained worldwide fame thanks to the Sanctuaires Notre Dame de Lourdes, it is said that the Virgin Mary appeared here before Marie-Bernadette Soubirous 18 times here. As such, Lourdes has now become a mecca for Christian believers and in particular those who are sick. The water at Lourdes is said to have healed people from some of the worst diseases known to man, helped the blind to see and the paralyzed to walk.

Varanasi

Varanasi is regarded as the spiritual capital of India, it sits on the River Ganges which, despite now being heavily polluted, are considered to be sacred waters. There are over 2,000 temples in Varansi and funeral rituals regularly take place on the Ganges as well as baptisms and those who bathe themselves with the hope of healing problems. This area represents a sacred place for Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.

Vatican City

Vatican city is a walled enclave within the city of Rome that is home to the Pope, head of the Catholic church. With a population of just 842 it is the smallest sovereign state in the World. This holy area of land has been considered sacred for over 1000 years and within its walls features various churches and squares where weekly mass and ceremonies are held. Millions of Catholics flock to Vatican city each day and mass attracts thousands of worshippers.

 

Apple Vs Samsung: The Ultimate Phone Showdown Of 2016

The mobile phone game has been hotly contested over the last 5-10 years, ever since the dawn of the smartphone, industry giants have worked tirelessly to provide consumers with the most cutting edge technology available. The 2 largest and most successful companies during this time have undoubtably been Apple and Samsung whose respective iPhone and Galaxy models have consistently been the leading lights of the smartphone generation. 2016 looks set to be no different as the iPhone 7 and the new Samsung Galaxy launch, the question is, who is the best provider between the two. Let’s breakdown the key differences between Apple and Samsung handsets to help you decide which is best.

Battery Life

Consumers are less worried about phone size and weight these days, a far bigger concern is battery life, most people practically live on their phones and regular charging is a pain that many don’t want. Both Apple and Samsung promise similar performance with the iPhone 7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge which is 13 hours of performance on 3G and 15 hours of performance on wi-fi. Not much to split the two here.

Storage

Something that has always frustrated iPhone users is the inability to add storage via an SD card, this year’s iPhone 7 offers 32GB, 128GB and 256GB models and still doesn’t offer additional storage. The Galaxy offers consumers a 32GB model with the option of adding an SD card to take it up to 256GB, the benefit of the Galaxy is that total cost of handset and additional storage comes in far below the price of the iPhone 256GB model, Samsung take this one.

Durability

Apple have finally produced an iPhone that is splash resistant, perfect for the clumsy amongst us and it can be kept in around 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes without problems. Samsung’s Galaxy has a stronger durability rating and can be submerged in up to 5 feet of water for 30 minutes without it breaking. This type of test doesn’t really matter too much to users who, if they do drop their phone in the toilet or a cup of coffee, will be fine with both models. Apple trump Samsung with their design on this one however as the casing is far more scratch resistant.

Audio

One of the most common uses for the smartphone these days is as a music device and in this battle, Apple most certainly beat their competitors. In what has been an unpopular decision, Apple have got rid of the headphone jack and opted for wireless headphones, this wireless technology has created a crisper and louder sound than the connected Galaxy method.

Price

The all important question for consumers, the price and once again there isn’t much to split the two manufacturers. Both base model prices are $769 so opting for one or the other will not save you any money, as mentioned before however, if you are looking for more storage at a better price then Samsung is your best bet. The camera is better on the Samsung also so if you are an avid photographer then this phone could save you buying a separate camera. All told, when it comes to pricing, Samsung is the way forward.

6 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Running A Business From Home

Running a business from home sounds like the perfect way of life, working on your own terms, on your own time and paying little for your office space and of course, not having to pay for transport. This form of business, or way of life may seem attractive to many but the hard truth is that not everyone has what it takes to run a business from home, the change in lifestyle added to the pressures of running a business can prove too much for some. If running a business from home is something that you’re interested in then here are some questions that you need to ask yourself beforehand.

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Is the House Ready?

Regardless of the business it is that you are looking to set up, you are going to need to prepare your house for it. As a minimum you will need office space, fully equipped with computer, printer, scanner if required and of course, the internet or a home phone. If you are planning to run your business from home then you are going to need a space to do so, remember that you will be spending your days there and the last thing you want is to be working and relaxing in the same space.

Can You Live Without Socializing?

Regardless of how many people you talk to daily on the phone or via email in your new position, you will be foregoing much of the socializing that takes place at work. Daily chats about last night’s activities, conversations over coffee at lunchtime will all disappear and you need to be comfortable enough on your own to live without these social interactions.

Can You See Success?

Running a home business is an attractive way of life but you should only choose this path if you have full confidence in your business plan or your ideas. Many people jump the gun and quit their job for a work-from-home life before they are making any money, this can lead to a very short-lived business. It is important that you start your business whilst still in employment to minimize pressure and risk.

Is Your Home Life Quiet?

To run a business from home you will need a quiet home life, children running around, construction projects or noisy neighbors will only prevent you from working to the highest level. To start a business from home you need somewhere quiet to get your head down and work, having a meeting on Skype with a client could turn out to be very embarrassing if you have kids popping their heads in the door every 5 minutes.

Do You Have the Funds in Place?

As with any business you are going to need to ensure that you have sufficient money to launch your business, including emergency cash for any unforeseen problems. Insufficient funding is one of the key reasons why start-ups fail and even though you’ll be saving money by working from home, it is crucial that you have a watertight financial plan.

Will it be Professional?

Just because you are working from home is no excuse not to keep your business expertly professional, logos, conduct, service and functionality should be exactly the same as if you had a 50 storey building for your office. The key is really not to let your clients know that it is a home business, this can often mean they trust your business less. You need to ask yourself whether you can still ensure a professional service for your clients, even if it is from a home business.

 

5 Games/Apps That Actually Make You SMARTER!

How many of us tell our children, our even ourselves, to stop wasting time playing games? Whether it be on our phones laptops or game consoles, we often see these as time wasting exercises that take us away from doing something important. For many years gaming has been a leisure time activity, generally for the youth, but those days have gone, in today’s World the amount of games on the market is incredible and within the genres available to you are games that can actually improve your intelligence, we always try to make learning fun for children and now people of all ages can employ the same tactic. Here are 5 great games to improve your intelligence whilst having fun.

Luminosity Brain Trainer (IOS and Android)

Arguably the most popular game in within its category, Luminosity is a brain training app that uses a huge variety of memory and cognitive games to increase your brain power and memory function. This game has actually been designed by neuroscientists who have studied the best ways to increase your memory and your attention span, a fun game that will improve your intelligence.

HelloTalk (IOS and Android)

For language learners out there, whether studying or not, HelloTalk is an app that connects you to the World in order to learn or to improve your language. The app doesn’t teach you but it connects you with people who speak your chosen language, the app is packed with options for correcting speech, sending voice messages, dictionary functions, vocabulary saving options to revise at a later date amongst a host of other brilliant touches. The social nature of this app makes it fun to learn about language and the lives and cultures of those who speak it.

Happify (IOS and Android)

This wonderful app uses games, quizzes and polls to increase the ‘happiness’ of your brain through positive psychology. Whilst using somewhat of a new age approach, the app questions you on what your image of happiness is and how to go after it, the app is beautiful made and features journal-keeping options amongst plenty of other handy tips to keep your brain at its best.

Khan Academy (IOS and Android)

This incredible free app gives you an opportunity to learn about almost anything through its series of videos, 5,000 to be exact and they are split into a huge variety of categories. Whether you are looking to learn about maths, science, literature, languages or any other such strand of learning, Khan Academy is the app for you.

Cognifit Brain Academy (IOS and Android)

Increase your brain power with this app that offers a variety of games and tests that were developed by neuroscientists to increase your brain function. You can compete with others that use that application online and the weekly tracker helps you to measure your progress and how much you have increased your brain power. An easy to use app that is not only fun, but will help to boost your brain.

Follow These Steps & NEVER Have Your Password hacked Ever Again

These days, almost our entire lives exist in some shape or form online, from our social network, our banking, our hospital records and our most sensitive information. Modern technology has allowed is the incredible opportunity to access all of our information via our cell phones, tablets and laptops whenever and wherever we are providing we have an internet connection. Whilst these advancements in technology have give us great benefits, they also bring some danger when it comes to the security of our information. Being hacked through someone guessing or breaking our passwords can mean that your sensitive information is out there for anyone to see and could also result in somebody stealing your identity or your money. In order to avoid this you must ensure that your password is safe and secure and here are some steps to follow to avoid ever having your password hacked.

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Use Online Services

There are plenty of online services out there that use an automated system to tell you how secure your password is, research first which is the best and simply put your password in to the checker. Once you can see the result for how safe your password is, do not accept ‘reasonable/fair’ you should be looking to create a password that is ‘strong’.

Keep it Complex

Using famous dates or information relating to family birthday’s or names of family members is foolhardy, anyone that knows anything about you could guess these types of passwords. The key is to use a multitude of numbers, letters and symbols, lower case and upper case letters as well, the harder you make the password, the more difficult it will be for anyone to access. If you struggle to remember such a complex password then by all means write it down and keep it with you, it may be a pain to keep typing in such a long password but I can assure you that it is better than having your bak account cleared out.

Fingerprint

Many smartphones these days have fingerprint recognition and if you have this option then I strongly suggest that you use it, they are incredibly sensitive and so far there have been no cases where phones have been hacked in this way.

Password Memory

It can be tempting to use the password memory services that internet browsers offer and whilst using them on some sites is fine, accessing important details such as online banking should is not a good idea using the memory function. If you lose your tablet, phone or laptop and you have used the memory function then you are simply making a hackers job easier, within a matter of hours they could steal your whole identity, have a passport made or sell your ID on the black market. It may sound far fetched but believe me, this is exactly how hackers operate. By all means use the memory service for online entertainment services or other such websites but if you are accessing important information then avoid it at all costs.

How Does a Mortgage Extension Work?

You may have heard of mortgage extensions, essentially a way of lengthening the terms of your loan that you took out to buy your home but perhaps you’re unsure how they work. In this article we are going to take a look at why you would need such an extension, who qualifies for it and how they work.

Let’s start with what an extension is, and why you might need to look at the possibility of using one.

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In a nutshell, a mortgage extension is for people who can no longer afford their monthly mortgage payments, this could be for a number of reasons ranging from divorce to earning less money in your job. What a mortgage extension does is to reduce your monthly payments by spreading them over a longer period of time, whilst this will most certainly help you in the short term, in will result in you paying more money in the long term as a result of interest and charges.

Who Qualifies?

The qualification for a mortgage extension will vary amongst different lenders but most have similar requirements for who can apply. Generally speaking those who are 90 days or more behind their mortgage repayments will qualify, there will be checks to ensure that you haven’t done this on purpose so intently doing so is not an options. Other requirements will be that you must prove that this is your primary home and not a second home or holiday home, you will also need to prove your reasons for falling behind on your payments whether it be through job loss, medical bills or any other such reason.

How to Go About Applying for an Extension?

There are federal programs in place for those who are really struggling to upkeep their mortgage but the first people that you should be speaking to is your lenders. Remember that lenders do not want their clients getting in to debt with them, it causes them as many headaches as it does their clients and of course, receiving any money is preferable to them. Your lender will help you to find a solution to your problem and mortgage extensions are generally tailor-made for the particular set of circumstances that a client may have. It is important during this process that you are completely transparent about your financial situation and have plenty of proof of how it has recently changed. It may seem tempting to take an extension over a longer period of time to really bring down your short term payments but remember that this will mean that you are paying even more in total, the key is to bring your payments down to a manageable level. Once an agreement is in place then you will sign a new mortgage with your lender and begin paying the new monthly payment straight away. If your financial position should improve in the future then most lenders will be happy to renegotiate the terms of your mortgage or allow you to overpay each  month, thus bringing down the total cost of repayment and interest.