Larkfleet Homes on Blogger

22 Jan 2018

Missing the festive celebrations? Host a Burns' Night supper

Larkfleet Homes Burns night tips
Christmas and New Years’ celebrations are a distant memory and the lighter evenings are still a way off. So, the Larkfleet Homes' team thought; what better way to pass a January evening than hosting a Burns’ Night supper?

It might sound simple – just a meal of tatties (potatoes), ‘neeps (mashed swede) and Haggis. Not much to do there you might think. But Burns’ Night – the January day given over to commemorating Scotland’s most celebrated poet – is steeped in etiquette and tradition.

Typically held on January 25th, the night is a celebration of Scottish culture. Go traditional if you want to do things properly. The menu could be cock a leekie soup (made with leeks, chicken and barley), haggis (oats and spiced sheep’s offal wrapped in a stomach lining), all served with a whisky sauce. If this doesn’t sound appealing there are vegetarian options available. Finish with the traditional Scottish pudding, cranachan, made with layers of cream, raspberries and oats with whisky and a cheeseboard followed by coffee.

As well as whisky to serve to your guests you will need to keep the beer and wine flowing for lots of toasting during the evening.

Set the mood by playing some traditional Scottish music. If you haven't got that - something by Rod Stewart might do!

Start by welcoming your guests and reciting the Selkirk Grace:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

When you bring in the haggis it’s time to pipe it in while a guest recites the address to the haggis – a rendition of Burns’ poem To a Haggis.

Finish with a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

19 Jan 2018

Dry January doesn’t have to be boring January

Dry January, non-alcoholic drinks
If you’re anything like us, you are probably all partied out and have finally come down after the festive period – which seems like a distant memory now.

Many of us are taking part in Dry January, the alcohol awareness initiative that was original started by the charity Alcohol Concern back in 2012.

The event has grown over the years and now five million Britons are giving up the booze for a month.

Quite apart from the health benefits – including improved sleep and some healthy weight loss – giving up your favourite tipple for a month can also save you a few quid.

It is more than half way through the month though and statistics suggest that one third of folk who started Dry January will have ‘fallen off the wagon’ by now. And many more of us are thinking about quitting the campaign – along other New Years’ resolutions.

So, how can you motivate yourself to stick it out to the end of the month – and what can you replace alcohol with to keep your meals and entertaining interesting?

The team at Larkfleet Homes has a few ideas:

  • Ginger-based drinks like ginger ale or fiery ginger beer can add a zest to your evening. It goes without saying that you should avoid the alcoholic ones – at least for this month.
  • Mocktails – Host a mocktail party. Here are some great non-alcoholic cocktails that you can try. Mulled apple juice is particularly good for a cold January evening.
  • Hot drinks – Have a look at some alternatives to instant coffee - ideal for these cold winter evenings. Try sweet chai tea, Mexican spiced hot cocoa, malted hot cocoa with marshmallows or spicy cranberry drink for starters.
  • Water – Adam’s Ale is a great standby. For an alternative to boring tap water there are plenty of premium bottled mineral waters you could offer guests. Brands include AquaFina, Evian, Fiji, San Pellegrino Volvic and Voss.

Enjoy, and remember you are almost at the end of Dray January. There’s just over a week to go – good luck. If you really can’t hold out, we'll see you down at the pub!

16 Jan 2018

Seven groups receive cash from Larkfleet Homes Community Fund

Larkfleet Homes Community Fund
At Larkfleet Homes we aim to help communities develop and become more cohesive.

That’s why we set up the Larkfleet Homes Community Fund. So far, it has donated nearly £50,000 to community groups and ventures across the country which support our vision of integrating new developments into the community.

Recently, the fund has welcomed applications from groups that focus on activities that enhance or develop local communities. In the past few weeks the fund has awarded grants of up to £10,000 to each of seven projects.

Applicants were invited to send their proposals which were then reviewed by a judging panel. The panel is managed by the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation which administers the fund.

The successful groups were awarded money for a range of projects and our congratulations go to:
  • Thorney Parish Council, for a zip-wire, trampolines, outdoor gym and swings for the older children of Thorney.
  • Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, for wood-working equipment for retiree volunteers to produce signage for interpretation and education.
  • Donington Parish Council, to provide a garden shed and equipment for herb and wild flower beds.
  • Families First Peterborough CIC, to continue an arts and crafts workshop for young people and adults who are leaving care homes to make their own way in the community.
  • Sawtry and District Bowling Club, to provide ramps which will improve access to the club’s facilities.
  • Moulton Chapel Youth & Community Centre, to build a playground including inclusive play equipment for children of all abilities.
  • Somerset Sight Limited, to reduce isolation and loneliness by providing six additional outings for 12 sight-impaired adults.
Our CEO Karl Hick, said: “It’s really important to us that when we build new homes for people, we actually develop communities. Being able to support the fantastic charities and volunteer groups in the areas we are working in is vital. These groups are very often the backbone of the community and the support which the winners of this round of funding offer to the people who use their services is immeasurable.

“Thank you to everyone who contacted us about the fund. We really look forward to hearing over the coming months how the donation has helped your group.”

Karen Leader of Sawtry and District Bowling Club told us: “As a club we’re really passionate about bringing together a wide range of different people from our community. It helps reduce isolation for some and encourages people to take part in physical activity which is fantastic.

“By successfully being granted money from the Larkfleet Homes Community Fund, we’ll be able to make our club even more inclusive by improving access to the bowling green and club house. People of all abilities will be able to take part. We are so grateful, and I know it will help make people happier, healthier and feel more connected for years to come.”

Cambridgeshire Community Foundation manages The Larkfleet Homes Community Fund on our behalf. If you are part of, or know of, any community or voluntary group that wants to find out more about the fund visit, telephone 01223 410535 or email

15 Jan 2018

How does it feel? 8 ways to banish the Winter blues

beat Blue Monday plan activities
Apparently, today is Blue Monday. No, it’s not a celebration of the tune by the band New Order. It’s the day of the year that Britons feel the most miserable.

Blue Monday is the most depressing day of the year.

Of course, we're all different. so it is an average. How do you feel today?

Originally conceived by Sky Travel, the date of Blue Monday (typically the third Monday in January) is arrived at by a complex formula created by academic Dr Chris Arnall that considers factors such as post-Christmas debt, the weather, low motivational levels and time since failing on those New Year’s resolutions we all make.

But fear not. Let’s make the day as positive as we can. Never ones to get down in the dumps, the Larkfleet Homes team has come up with a few suggestions to help you banish the winter blues.

  1. Get as much natural light as you can. Get out doors as much as possible and take steps to let as much natural light as possible into your home.  Keep the curtains and blinds open and cut back any foliage or plants which block light.
  2. Try and have as healthy a diet as possible. Consider dietary supplements that can boost moods. Get some daily exercise, reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake and get regular sleep at night. But don’t forget the old adage that a little of what you fancy does you good – you’re not a Spartan.
  3. Book a holiday and enjoy some winter sun. If you can’t go on holiday, now’s the time to plan your summer holiday. Looking at all those pictures of bright blues skies and sun-kissed beaches should help to lift your spirits.
  4. Curl up with a good book – something positive and inspiring – or settle down to watch a favourite film.
  5. Brighten up your home with flowers. Your best choice is orange as research has shown that longer wavelength (orange) light has a positive effect on mood and cognitive function.
  6. Giving your self something to look forward to will help to keep you positive. Organise a social event with family and friends. Or, plan a weekend activity.
  7. Keeping warm will help to keep the blues at bay. Feeling cold makes us feel miserable, we think you’ll agree. Wrap up warm. Have hot drinks and keep your home heated as much as possible.
  8. Do something creative or indulge in your favourite hobby. That should distract you from the negative aspects of the season.

Whatever you do be positive and remember – Spring isn’t far away – some Spring flowers are already bringing a splash of colour to front gardens and roadsides up and down the country.

14 Jan 2018

Rejuvenate your old stuff with upcycling

Rejuvenate old stuff upcycling
January New Year de-cluttering underway? Perhaps you have found a few things that you are attached to and can’t bring yourself to bin, even though you’re not using them.

That’s where upcycling comes in. Why not give that old chair or table a new lease of life with some simple sanding, varnishing or repainting? What else can you rejuvenate to suit your 2018 style and décor?

So, what exactly is upcycling? In brief, it is the creative re-use of unwanted items into something new or a new product altogether. You could produce some new furniture for your home – or even sell what you make via Ebay or Etsy if you’re feeling entrepreneurial.

Got some tired Ikea furniture? Before you chuck it, consider spray painting it another colour to match your new décor. Be right up to the minute and use Pantone’s Ultaviolet – colour of the year 2018.

If you have untreated wooden storage boxes, give them a makeover by waxing or oiling them to change colour and look.

Tired of that boring plain pine chest of drawers? Paint the top and sides in a colour of your choice. Then, choose a complementary wallpaper and cover the drawers. Also, consider changing the handles. You can find loads of accessories and fittings in DIY stores like B&Q.

Breathe some new life into your dull pine kitchen table. You could paint it using bold contrasting colours. Cover the top with patterned oilcloth. Consider converting it into a wash stand, office desk or console table using paints, tiles and wall paper. There are some ideas here.

Upcycle old chairs with paint, decoupage or recovering in a new material. Add padding to a plain wooden kitchen chair.

Paint old flower pots to bring a splash of colour to your window sill or potting shed.

Rejuvenate metal patio chairs by spraying them to create a jazzy ombre effect.

If you have some old pine shelves give them a new lease of life by sanding, repainting and adding a contrasting wall paper to the back of it to add interest.

There are a million things you can do to transform your old belongings into something new and beautiful. Explore Pinterest if you are stuck for some ideas.

09 Jan 2018

Larkfleet gives football’s next generation a helping hand

Larkfleet Homes sponsors Baston Juniors FC
The FA Cup is in full swing. The Fourth-Round draw has been done and local side Peterborough United scooped a home draw against either Fleetwood or Leicester City.

We enjoy football at Larkfleet Homes, so we are delighted to help youngsters in nearby Baston enjoy the ‘Beautiful Game’.

We are helping talented local youngsters to stay dry and look cool by sponsoring waterproof jackets worn by Baston Junior Football Club’s under-14s squad.

The new Joma Bench Rain Jackets, featuring the club badge and players’ initials on the front, with the Larkfleet logo on the back, are worn by the U14s to keep them warm and dry on the training pitch and on match days.

Baston Junior FC was established in summer 2015 and they have been successful in their first couple of seasons. The current U14s squad played its first season in the U12 Division 1 of the Peterborough Junior Alliance League.

They won the League Cup and finished second in the league. They also reached the final of the Lincolnshire U12 County Cup, which was held at Stamford’s ground.

As U13s in the 2016/2017 season the team won the coveted PFA Cup played at the ABAX Stadium, home of Peterborough United, and just missed out on winning the league.

The ambitious team is playing up a year for the current season 2017/18. Despite being an U14s squad, Baston Juniors are currently playing in the Peterborough Youth League U15 Division 2.

Our joint managing director Helen Hick said: “Larkfleet is committed to supporting the local community and it’s a pleasure to sponsor the Baston Juniors FC rain jackets.

“We consider ourselves to be a winning team here at Larkfleet and it is great to be associated with such a successful local football team. Our logo will be on display when the players are out and about in the region representing their team.”

Who knows, some of these lads could be playing in the FA Cup in the future.

08 Jan 2018

Dealing with a cold snap

January is well and truly here. And with it comes more cold weather. The coldest months of the winter in the UK are usually between now and March - and it's certainly cold outside right now!

So, how can we make sure we keep warm and stay healthy as the mercury drops? Here are our top tips for keeping warm as temperatures plunge this winter.

  • It’s easier to warm yourself up than it is to raise the room temperature. Instead of turning up the heating, add another layer of clothing.
  • Layering up with several layers of thinner clothing is better than a single thick layer of clothing.
  • Any exposed surface on your body will cause you to lose heat. Cover up and make sure you wear a hat when you go outside.
  • Keep cosy under the covers by using an electric blanket or a hot water bottle. Never use the two together though.
  • Make sure you block out any drafts. Buy draft excluders or have a go at making your own. Get a foam swimming buoyancy tube – cut it in half, cover in fabric and slide it under the door.
  • Draw your curtains and blinds to keep in heat as dusk falls.
  • Don’t forget to set your programmable thermostat so that your home is always toasty when you get in from work. You can even set it using your smart phone.
  • It’s not the most cost-effective way of heating – but if you enjoy baking you will find that having your oven on will provide a boost to your heating.
  • Get some handwarmers to put in your coat pockets when you’re out and about.

Stay warm and stay healthy this winter.

03 Jan 2018

Our New Year’s resolution - promoting construction skills, diversity and training

HBF Construction Skills Pledge Larkfleet Homes
We all make New Year’s resolutions, don’t we? And sometimes it’s hard to stick to them. If we’re honest we have usually abandoned them by the end of January.

But we’re made of sterner stuff at Larkfleet Homes. We have made a New Year resolution for 2018 - to work with suppliers, subcontractors, local colleges and others to help to plug the ‘construction industry skills gap’.

To do that we have joined a list of companies which have signed the Home Building Skills Pledge developed by the Home Builders Federation (HBF).

By making the pledge we are committing to recruit the best possible talent and to train people to the highest standards.

Our CEO Karl Hick said recently: “We are part of a growing momentum for really tackling this crucial agenda. It is vital to nurture the future of the construction industry if we are to build the homes that the country needs.

“By being proactive in terms of engaging staff, and by being inclusive and diverse in our recruitment, we will be able to future-proof our workforce to continue to deliver high quality new homes.”

The Skills Pledge covers topics we care about, like diversity, training, promoting careers in construction and other related issues.

At Larkfleet Homes we already invest heavily in training and skills development. We are one of the sponsors of the newly-opened Greater Peterborough University Technical College which aims to give young people ‘hands on’ as well as theoretical training for careers in the engineering and construction sectors. We also work with New College, Stamford.

So, you see, we are committed to developing the skills our industry needs for a sustainable future and we will continue to do that throughout 2018 and beyond.

02 Jan 2018

Larkfleet starts work on Oakham retirement homes and dementia care unit

Larkfleet Homes The Croft
There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over one million by 2025 and reaching two million by 2051, according to figures published by the Alzheimer’s Society.

It’s estimated that 70 per cent of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems.

It is an increasing problem for UK society, one which the Larkfleet Homes team is committed to help solve.

We have started construction work on a ‘continuing care retirement community’ (CCRC) in Oakham, Rutland. It will provide 62 one and two-bedroom homes for ‘independent living’, 54 properties for ‘assisted living’ for people with specific care needs and a 60-bed specialist care home for people with dementia.

The CCRC is part of our Oakham Heights development – a major urban expansion of Oakham being built on land between the Oakham bypass and Barleythorpe Road.

We are starting on the essential infrastructure work – the installation of roads and services – at Oakham that will mean construction of homes can start later this year. The independent living retirement village will be developed under our award-winning ‘The Croft’ brand.

Larkfleet's first development under The Croft brand at Bourne won a Silver Award in the keenly-contested Best Retirement Development category in the prestigious WhatHouse? Awards in 2014. The following year The Croft at Baston was shortlisted in the same award and was named runner-up in the HouseBuilder Awards for best retirement housing.

The Oakham Heights CCRC will provide a much-needed facility for the aging population of Rutland. It will also create around 90 jobs for local people.

01 Jan 2018

What's new in design for 2018

Larkfleet Homes design trends 2018

Now that the New Year is with us, many of us are thinking about a fresh start in 2018. Perhaps you’re thinking about a new car, a new kitchen, or redecorating the lounge. Whatever you're thinking about we’ve got a few ideas that could help you stay on trend.

According to the home decorating and renovation website Houzz there will be several traditional schemes making a comeback for home decoration in 2018.

Houzz released a list of the top 10 design trends it expects to see next year based on the opinion of its network of professional and consumer users. As well as offering ideas for decorating any room in the house, the website can provide you links to the latest products and even hook you up with decorating and building professionals in your area.

So, what’ trending according to Houzz?

  • Colourful kitchens – More colour will be used in kitchens to make the room feel warmer and make it even more like the hub of family life. Plum and warm pinks like Dulux’s Heartwood colour of the year.
  • Rich colours – To match the use of colour in the kitchen richer colours throughout the home will add a warming and cosy feel.
  • Say goodbye to stainless steel – In the kitchen, unconventional materials for sinks will come to the fore. Materials like stone, concrete, granite and copper will start to gain ground.
  • Go floral – Flowery prints and chintzy patterns will start to make a comeback. Designs will use bold contrasting colours.
  • Go vintage – Vintage accessories will become popular. Vintage lighting fixtures will gain popularity. There could even be an industrial theme in terms of metal and enamelled pendant lighting.
  • Open sinks and baths – Deeper trough sinks will become popular. They will be open with chrome and brass pipe work and traps.
  • Concrete it over – Well-established as a building material, concrete may become more popular decoratively – specifically in the form of kitchen worktops.
  • Go for wood – Painted wooden walls, once popular in kitchens and bathrooms, could become more common in other rooms around the house.
  • Tiles – Intricate designs and patterns will become popular to counterpoint bold, warm colours.
  • Minimalist bedrooms – Colours and designs of bedrooms will become uncluttered and calming.

For more ideas for what to do with your décor in 2018 visit

31 Dec 2017

Larkfleet Homes’ Best Bits of 2017

Round up 2017 Larkfleet Homes
Well that’s almost the year that was. And what a year! It was great year of sales, research and development and community engagement for us.

To celebrate our achievements over the past year we want to share some of our best bits of 2017 with you. But you could make your own selection by browsing our blog archive!

In January our own Sam Hart was promoted to director of sales for Larkfleet Homes to oversee all our sales functions including managing and implementing various schemes that we offer to help customers purchase their new Larkfleet home at the best possible price.

We donated £500 to the RAF Association - one of the Peterborough mayor's chosen charities for 2017. The cheque was presented to the Mayor of Peterborough, Councillor David Sanders, during the official opening of the Larkfleet showhome in Thorney near Peterborough.

In May we helped local youngsters to stay warm and look cool at the same time by sponsoring tee shirts worn by key stage two students at Bourne’s Elsea Park Primary Academy. The new tee shirts, featuring the school badge on the front and Larkfleet logo on the back, are worn by the choir when they are singing and representing the school.

To help the future of housebuilding we handed over a model house to the Greater Peterborough University Technical College (GPUTC). The scale model of a typical timber-framed house built by Larkfleet Homes can be taken apart and re-assembled using a set of drawings which Larkfleet has also supplied to help students who are studying the built environment to understand how a modern house is put together.

Our parent company, the Larkfleet Group of Companies, was shortlisted for one of the construction industry’s most prestigious awards. The group was one of just eight firms nationwide to win through to the final of the ‘Skills Initiative’ category in the Building Awards. The judges were impressed by Larkfleet’s support for a number of training initiatives our own apprenticeship and graduate recruitment programmes and backing for local colleges and schools and sponsorship of the GPUTC.

Our CEO Karl Hick was interviewed live on BBC2 television during the channel’s coverage of the budget. Karl warned that Brexit was in danger of depriving the industry of the skilled workforce it needs to build new homes. Many EU nationals are leaving the UK, he said, and others are less willing to come.

Finally, we were delighted to hand £250 to local charity Evergreen Care Trust to help with its Stamford Christmas Cracker appeal. We decided to back the trust after the charity was named as ‘best social enterprise’ in the Stamford Mercury Business Awards – an award which was sponsored by Larkfleet Homes. The Stamford Christmas Cracker campaign raises money to support the elderly community in Stamford, Bourne and the Deepings.

28 Dec 2017

What’s the future for house prices in 2018?

The growth in house prices we’ve seen in 2017 “looks set to judder to a halt in 2018” according to a report in The Guardian.

Reporting the views of a number of experts, The Guardian says house prices are likely to rise by at most 1 per cent next year. And in London, they may actually fall.

Calculating house prices

It’s not all due to Brexit, apparently – rising interest rates are also expected to put a brake on housing price growth.

Whether you think this is bad news or good news depends on whether you already have a house or not, of course. If you’re saving to buy your first home some stability in the market is a good thing, allowing you to put money away for a deposit without finding that the rise in house prices is making your task more difficult all the time.

If you already own a house, rising house prices would mean that the value of your home would be going up. But so would the price of the house you may want to buy if you’re planning your next move. So you would be no better off, really!

If you own a house in London, and The Guardian is right when it predicts a small fall in house prices in the capital, console yourself with the thought that the price of your next home (if you are planning to buy in London) is also going down. And for first time buyers in London, a fall in house prices is all good news, of course.

Taking a long-term view, fluctuations in house prices next year are likely to have little impact. There have been short-term falls from time to time in the past decades but, over the years, house prices in the UK have always grown.

According to The Guardian, London house prices have risen by 70 per cent in the past ten years. Set against that background, a fall of a handful of per cent (if it happens) does not seem like a disaster.

Buying a house anywhere in the UK looks likely to remain a solid investment. And, more importantly perhaps, it means you have a home that you can call your own.

At Larkfleet Homes we're planning to build more homes in 2018 than ever before. So come and talk to us about your next move!

22 Dec 2017

Merry Christmas from all at Larkfleet Homes

Merry Christmas Larkfleet Homes

As we approach the end of 2017, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers, contractors and staff and to wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a very prosperous 2018.

We look forward to welcoming you to a Larkfleet show home near you in 2018.

19 Dec 2017

Countdown to 2018 - hosting the perfect New Year's Eve party

Larkfleet Homes New Years Eve party
Christmas is almost upon us (don't say you haven't noticed?) and 2017 is waning. It’s time to turn our attention to welcoming 2018.

And if you’re not all ‘partied out’ – now’s the time to think about what you're going to do if you’re thinking of hosting your own New Year’s Eve party. It's a great way to see in the New Year - and 1 January is a public holiday, so you do get a chance to have a 'lie in' and recover (unless you are one of those who has to work that day - in which case we salute you!).

We love a good party at Larkfleet Homes, so we have come up with ten ideas to give you a helping hand with your festive party planning:
  1. Use soft, warm lighting to create a welcoming atmosphere. You could use low wattage bulbs with warm colours. Why not get changing colour lightbulbs that come with their own remote control to help you change the mood?
  2. Light a scented candle and leave it in the loo so your guests don’t have to fumble around in the dark looking for the light switch. 
  3. Use table cloths sprinkled with festive confetti and add matching place mats to protect the cloth and the table underneath from drinks glasses.
  4. It’s perhaps the hardest night of the year to get a cab so make sure you have plenty of taxi company numbers to hand.
  5. Be prepared to put up guests who can’t get home. Have inflatable beds and pillows to hand – just in case.
  6. Make sure you have a large clock visible so that you don’t miss the countdown to 2018.
  7. Why not try something a little different? Celebrate the midnight chimes the Spanish way. Get your guests 12 grapes each. Pop a grape into your mouth for every ‘bong’ from Big Ben until they are all gone.
  8. Make sure you have plenty of party poppers and streamers to make your party go with a bang. And you could have some fireworks as well!
  9. Be flexible with how much food you prepare. If you are having a small gathering put together a full meal for your guests. You can be creative with your menu. If you are welcoming plenty of guests, opt for a range of sweet and savoury bites to allow your guests to eat as much as they like. 
  10. Use an online streaming service to create a music playlist. Tailor it to the range of guests at your party. If most of the guests at your party are friends of a similar age, then of course it is hard to resist cramming the playlist full of nostalgic tunes from your youth. Or you could stick on the telly and have a New Year’s Eve party or Jools Holland’s Hootenanny on in the background.
Happy New Year!

18 Dec 2017

Christmas opening hours at Larkfleet

Larkfleet Homes Christmas opening
Christmas is well and truly on its way and we’re looking forward to the Christmas holidays.

Our show homes will be closed over Christmas from Saturday 23 December to Wednesday 27 December inclusive.

They will also be closed again between 31 December and 2 January.

On the lead up to the festive season between Wednesday 20 December and Friday 22 December and from 28 to 30 December we will be open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Please do drop in to see us at any of the show homes - full details of them all are on our website here.

Once we’ve polished off all the turkey and mince pies we will be open as normal from Wednesday 3 January.

We hope you have a Merry Christmas.

17 Dec 2017

Reduce the stress of moving home

Larkfleet homes moving house
It may be getting close to Christmas but there will still be some of us moving house at this time of year. The Christmas season can be a stressful one but moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do in your life.

And according to research, the average UK resident will do it eight times during their lifetime.

There is always a lot of hassle associated with packing, re-directing mail, setting up utilities and internet services and keeping the authorities informed. Despite all the 'admin' that goes with the move, and even if you are an ‘old hand’, packing seems to be the most daunting problem.

To help take some of the hassle out of moving house Larkfleet Homes has put together a handy checklist of things to do to help make packing for the move as smooth as possible.

First off, don’t forget that some of your things will be valuable so it’s worth getting them valued for insurance – just in case.

You don’t need to leave everything to the day before the move. Consider what you don’t need to take with you and what will need careful packing.

Moving home is a great opportunity for a ‘de-cluttering’ so:

Make a priority packing list:
  • Take some time to sift through your belongings and have a clear-out. You can make up a box for charity and, if you’ve time, hold a car boot sale or log onto an online auction, then put the proceeds from selling your old goods towards some re-decorating or a new carpet.
  • Calculate how many boxes you will need and get these well in advance. Find boxes in a variety of sizes. Think about what else will be useful, such as strong tape, bubble wrap, and self-seal bags for keeping nuts and bolts together. Save old newspapers for lining boxes.
  • Don’t completely fill large boxes because they may then be too heavy to move.
  • Use sturdy packing boxes, particularly for heavier items, or your belongings may end up strewn all over the pavement. Boxes made from corrugated cardboard are stronger than regular ones. You can usually find these at supermarkets, off-licences or large retail stores but make sure that they are clean.
  • Check that your contents insurance will cover damage and breakages during the move.
  • Put all hazardous materials, such as paint, bleach and aerosols, into a separate box and keep them away from the rest of your stuff.
  • Make sure you take a ‘survival kit’ with you because, unless you travel light, you won’t be able to unpack everything in the first day. Decide what you might need easy access to soon after you cross the threshold of your new home.
  • Pack an ‘essentials’ box for the first night in your new home and carry it with you. Instant access to coffee, tea, snacks, cups and a kettle may be welcome soon after you arrive. As will plates, utensils and a kitchen cloth.
  • Prepare an overnight bag for everyone in the family and make sure that there is enough toilet paper and toiletries for everyone.
  • Other useful items that should be kept close to hand are a torch, a first-aid kit including pain relievers, pencil and paper, and re-closable plastic bags, along with a small tool kit.
  • If possible, finish any laundry well before you move to avoid packing damp clothes. Keep a separate box/bag for dirty washing.
  • Make sure the boxes containing items you need the least are loaded up first.
Sensible packing

Spend some time considering how you are going to pack your possessions. Books are easy but heavy, valuables need careful wrapping and will take time, and some furniture may need to be dismantled.

  • Start early. Packing always takes longer than anticipated, particularly when you start reminiscing over old photographs stored in the attic or you realise that you need to dismantle the wardrobe to get it downstairs.
  • Begin at the top of the house and move downwards. If you have an attic, it’s a good idea to sort it out first.
  • Always pack heavy items in small boxes. It will make transporting them easier. Also, keep the weight of all boxes to a minimum to avoid any back injuries.
  • Pack one room at a time, clearly labelling each box with details of its contents and the room to which it belongs. Clearly label boxes that contain breakables and also those that are load-bearing and can be stacked in the van.
  • Keep all boxes for each room together. This will save time when unpacking.
  • It may sound obvious but pack heavier items on the bottom of the box and lighter items on top.
  • Wrap items individually and place in a box that’s been lined with several layers of newspaper and a sheet of bubble wrap. Any breakables should also be wrapped in bubble wrap. Use clean tissue or wrapping paper for the first layer to prevent newspaper print leaving marks. Pillows and blankets are also useful for wrapping valuables and protecting furniture prone to dents and scratches.
  • Pack important documents together, such as birth and marriage certificates, and keep them in a safe place.
If you are moving locally get your friends and family to help with the move. Enlist the help of any of your friends who might have vans in order to avoid the expense of renting a self-drive box van or a professional remover.

There are a number of checklists like this one available to use online or download for free to help make the move from one home to another as smooth as possible.

17 Dec 2017

Beating the reluctance for solar

Larkfleet house with PV solar panels
A recent survey has found that many people in the UK may be unaware of recent cost reductions for solar energy. It also reveals public reticence around installing solar.

The survey asked over 600 members of the public why they don’t use solar panels.

Over 50 per cent of those responding said cost was the main reason they don’t have solar, despite the fact that domestic solar power systems have significantly fallen in price over the past five years.

Aesthetics and availability were other reasons for lack of solar panel use. Seven per cent of respondents questioned the effectiveness of solar, thereby revealing a need for further education on this topic.

The survey also found:
  • 55 per cent of respondents said cost was the main reason they did not have solar panels.
  • 18 per cent said the aesthetics of solar panels would put them off.
  • 16 per cent said unavailability of solar panels in their area was a barrier.
  • 7 per cent chose 'functionality' (examples of such answers being along the lines of "I don’t think they work").
Since 2011, the average cost of a domestic solar PV system has fallen by between 70 and 80 per cent. The average price for a 1 kilowatt to 4 kilowatt array in 2010 was around £15,000, compared to just £6,000 in 2017.

At Larkfleet Homes we offer new homes with solar PV systems fitted as standard on many sites. This not only means you can produce your own electricity but also take advantage of the government’s ‘Feed-in tariff' and potentially generate an income from any excess energy produced.

Solar panels can add value to your home. The lower electricity bills are a great draw to buyers due to the steeply rising price of traditional energy. A recent study has shown that a third of UK buyers would be willing to pay more for a house with solar PV installed, to benefit from these lower energy bills. Solar panels also last for a long time with little maintenance, when properly installed by an MCS approved installer.

Solar panels can also add value to your house by raising the house’s EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) grade. Every house being bought or sold in the UK needs to have a valid EPC. After being assessed your house will be awarded a grade from A (highest) to G (lowest).

EPC ratings can have a significant effect on house values. Solar panels have been known to raise a house’s EPC rating by at least two grades. This is reflected in the house's value. For example, increasing the EPC from a band D to a band B could raise the value of an average house by more than £16,000.

13 Dec 2017

Perfect Christmas table settings

Ideas for Christmas table settings
A nicely laid table, with all the trimmings, is essential if you want to make Christmas lunch a special event – whether it’s just you, or the whole family is coming over to enjoy the feast.

It’s not too late to have a few ideas and get hold of the things you need to make your table look a treat for the big day.

Here are a few ideas and places to look for inspiration.

Colour design
There are many options. You could go for traditional festive red and green, red and white or mix and match your table cloth, napkins and place settings to your existing china.

Choose fun salad plates and napkins. Even if the rest of the table is more traditional, adding a cheerful or quirky smaller plate on top of your main plates, and investing in some Christmassy serviettes, can add a modern touch to traditional dinnerware.

You could mix up reds and whites in stripes or checks or add garlands and table runners using greenery and berries.

There is a huge array of dining china on the market. You will find the high-end brands in places like John Lewis.

Perhaps use plain colours in cool Scandi colours like stacking smoky steel greys and white.

Knives, forks, table spoons and serving ware should match where possible. Go traditional, or ultra-modern, it’s up to you. Try Ikea or Lakeland  for some ideas. What you use will of course be dictated by what you are serving for lunch.

Make your table look special with crystal glassware. Include glasses for red and white wine, perhaps champagne flutes and glasses for water.

Centre pieces
You could use greenery and flowers to make a gorgeous colourful centre pieces. Use glassware like bell jars and coach lamps to reflect and shine light over the table to give a warm look.

Lights and candles
Bring a cosy and homely touch to your table by using candles as lighting. Creating a warm atmosphere will help your lunch

You can find some great visual ideas here

09 Dec 2017

The formula for the perfect Christmas dinner

larkfleet homes formula christmas dinner
According to British Turkey, the industry organisation for turkey producers, there is scientific formula for the perfect Christmas dinner.

The formula investigates how the turkey is cooked and the balance of other foods it is served with. It was created by food scientist Dr Stuart Farimond.

A roasted British turkey at Christmas is one of the most treasured of British traditions. And getting Christmas dinner perfect can be a daunting task, but fear not – there is a solution to all your woes.

Believe it or not the secret lies with science. A formula has been created which will ensure that no one is left disappointed this Christmas Day.

So, what do you have to do? Simply follow the formula of pC = 3t + 1.5g + 5c + 150ts + 2r + 3p + 1st + 1s +4B where:
  • pC = ‘perfect’ Christmas turkey roast proportions
  • t = medium thickness slices of turkey (each approximately 30g)
  • g = metric (250ml) cups of turkey gravy
  • c = medium-sized slices of boiled carrot
  • ts = grams of turnip-swede mash
  • r = halves of oven roasted Maris Piper potatoes (approx. 75g total)
  • p = number of roasted parsnip spears (equivalent to a quarter of a large parsnip)
  • st = small stuffing balls (14-15g)
  • s = level teaspoon of cranberry sauce
  • B = number of Brussels sprouts
This formula considers the optimal ratios of different meal components to best enhance the texture, flavour and aroma of turkey.

Flavour pairing science reveals that carrots, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, cranberry and cauliflower share several flavour molecules and pair with turkey remarkably well. And with approximately a quarter of the population having a gene that gives them a distaste for Brussel sprouts, the formula shows that eating sprouts alongside sweet foods reduces the perception of bitterness by reducing the sensitivity of 'bitter receptors' on the tongue.

Findings from tasting panels revealed the optimal ratios of different meal components to best enhance the texture, flavour and aroma of turkey. These were found to be for three slices of turkey (90g):
  • 364ml of gravy
  • 5 medium-sized slices of boiled carrot
  • 150g of turnip-swede mash
  • Approximately 2 pieces of halved roast Maris Piper potatoes (75g)
  • 3 roast parsnip spears (35g of roasted parsnip)
  • 14.3g of stuffing (one small ball)
  • Approx. 1 level teaspoon of cranberry sauce
  • 4 Brussels sprouts
And don’t forget to add the Christmas pudding, cheese and port!

08 Dec 2017

New home for school play equipment

Larkfleet Homes sponsorship Elsea Park School shed
We have been working very hard on behalf of the communities where we have developments this years. One of our favourite ways to make a difference is to help local schools.

So, when we heard that the youngsters at Bourne Elsea Park Church of England Primary Academy needed a new home for their PE and play equipment we were very happy to help. The school is just a short distance from our headquarters in Bourne, Lincolnshire.

We supplied a new shed which was put up on the school field ahead of the arrival of winter weather.

We are committed to supporting the local community and it’s a great pleasure to sponsor the new shed. It means that the children can have the equipment they need to enjoy their breaks and sports activities with a safe and secure place to store it.

Sam Brunt, deputy head of Bourne Elsea Park C of E Primary Academy, told us: “We are grateful for the continued support of the whole team at Larkfleet and for sponsoring our lovely new shed.

“Outdoor play and participation in sport is a key part of children’s development. It would be hard to offer the right kinds of activities without the appropriate equipment.

“The new shed sponsored by Larkfleet Homes means we are able to acquire that equipment because we now have somewhere to store it securely and keep it safe from the elements.”

That’s great news.

Pictured outside their new shed with Helen Jones of Larkfleet Homes are: Alfie Jarvis 11, Lola Waumsley 10, Elliott Holder 10, Liam Fialkowski 10, Zara Johnson 10, Jasminder Bubbra 10 and teaching assistant Louise Wilcockson.