Larkfleet Homes on Blogger

12 Oct 2018

Fried or scrambled?

Smiley egg face for World Egg Day
Did you know that today (12 October) is World Egg Day? No? Neither did we until a short while ago. We assumed that was Easter – lots of lovely chocolate eggs.

But it seems World Egg Day doesn’t have quite such a long history as Easter. It was first celebrated (if that’s the word we’re looking for) in 1966.

It is the invention of the International Egg Commission (no, we’d never heard of that, either) which aims to “give a global presence to egg producers and to promote and popularize egg consumption as part of a balanced diet”.

As the publicity for the event points out, the egg is a versatile ingredient for both sweet and savoury dishes. From the humble boiled egg to the master chef’s soufflé, the egg has a vital place in many recipes. There is no country in the world that doesn’t make extensive use of the egg in its traditional cuisine.

So, today is the ideal time to try a new egg recipe. Here are four of our favourites:

  1. Egg Florentine pizza. A bit of a stretch to call this an ‘egg recipe’ because it’s basically a pizza with an egg on top. Very good, though, and this is a ‘quick and easy’ pizza dough.
  2. Omelettes. You can’t help but think of omelettes when you think of egg recipes. Here is a guide to the perfect omelette with lots of ideas for ‘jazzing up’ the basic egg dish with a variety of fillings
  3. Baked eggs with potatoes, mushrooms & cheese  A great winter evening dish – and very easy to make
  4. If you’ve a sweet tooth, try a traditional English custard tart. This recipe from Delia Smith includes (as you’d expect) making your own pastry. But you can always cheat and buy some ready-made. Or even cheat a bit more and buy a ready-made pastry case!

Whatever you do, have fun both cooking and eating.


10 Oct 2018

Going with a bang

Fireworks display - Larkfleet Homes is sponsoring Bourne Fireworks
We’re delighted to be the main sponsor again this year for the fireworks at Bourne Abbey Primary School.

There will live music and a variety of stalls selling an array of goodies and treats. Plus a bonfire, of course. And fireworks, obviously. Lots of them.

It all takes place on Saturday 3 November on Bourne Abbey Primary Academy Sports Field, Manning Road, starting at 16:00 and finishing around 20:00. Musical entertainment between displays will be provided by local band The Overdubs.

There is more information on the event’s Facebook page . It's a great night for the kids (of all ages). Who doesn't like watching money go up in smoke?

You can save a few pounds if you buy your tickets in advance - £18 for a family of five, £7 for an adult and £3 for a child. They are on sale at the school and at Greetings in The Burghley Centre in Hereward Road and Stringers decorating centre in Manning Road.

If you prefer to pay on the gate, on the night, it's still a bargain and you can purchase your tickets with a credit card or with cash.

The Larkfleet Homes team is looking forward to a sparkling night which raises money for local charities. Do come and join us.


09 Oct 2018

Young people priced out of housing market

Model house with money
We were interested to read this week a report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) which says that “even the cheapest local homes are out of reach for at least 40 per cent of young adults”.

Of course, the figures vary greatly across the country and the average is driven up by the astronomical price of property in London. Still, the message is clear – it’s not getting any easier to get onto the property ladder.

And why not? Basically, because house prices are going up faster than wages and have been doing so for years.

The IFS says that in 1996 over 90 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds would have been able to purchase a house in their area as long as they had a 10 per cent deposit and if they borrowed 4½ times their salary (the maximum that most lenders will now allow). By 2016, that proportion had fallen substantially. Even with a 10 per cent deposit, only around 60 per cent of young adults would have been able to borrow enough to buy even one of the cheapest homes in their area.

The IFS has put forward some ideas for tackling the problem. In a nutshell, it is about building more homes where they are needed.

At Larkfleet Homes we are caught on this ‘house price escalator’ along with everyone else. By far the biggest cost of building a house is usually buying the land to put it on and we have to compete with other builders to buy sites for development.

But we are trying to do what we can to help. There is advice on our website for first-time buyers (and that helped us win a nomination for the First Time Buyer Magazine Reader Awards for best website earlier this year). And we are pleased to introduce potential buyers to independent financial experts who can advise on the best mortgage deals.

We can also assist people get support from the government’s Help to Buy scheme. And it is worth pointing out that this is not just for first-time buyers – even those moving house can qualify.

So come and talk to us.


08 Oct 2018

Coffee, cake and cash

Larkfleet Homes Macmillan Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning
The Larkfleet Homes team recently took part in the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

Forget Bake Off! Staff at Larkfleet House baked or brought in a wonderful selection of cakes and snacks - that's just some of them above -  that were sold in our main meeting room to raise money for the charity.

Visitors joined in the fun, buying and enjoying a cake – or two – with a nice cup of coffee, all in aid of a great cause.

Visitors to Larkfleet Homes and Allison Homes show homes were also invited to buy coffee and cakes throughout the day.

The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is Macmillan’s biggest fundraising event for people facing cancer. Since 1990, Coffee Morning has raised over £165.5 million for Macmillan. People all over the UK host their own Coffee Mornings and donations on the day are made to Macmillan. Last year alone saw a total of £29.5 million raised in aid of the charity.

This year Macmillan aimed to raise even more and the Larkfleet team was happy to help.


03 Oct 2018

Walk to school month

Walk to school
October is International Walk to School Month. The aim of the campaign is to promote walking as a way to improve yours and your kids’ health, while also thinking of the environment.

But there is one thing that stops a lot of families from walking – the number of cars on the road around many UK schools. According to research carried out by Living Streets and YouGov, 54 per cent thought that there are too many cars around school gates. Half found that cars parking on pavements is the most annoying thing about walking to school while 45 per cent thought that there is too much traffic on the journey to school.

Motor vehicles are the biggest source of air pollution and one in four cars on the road at peak times are on the school run. As a result, over 2,000 primary schools in the UK are situated in pollution hot spots, putting pupils’ health at risk.

One solution, if you’re looking for a new home, is to find new developments that are within safe walking distance of local schools.

Most of our developments are situated within easy reach of schools - here are six as an example:
  • Collingham Brook – John Blow Primary School is within walking distance of this new development in the Nottinghamshire village of Collingham.
  • Farriers Reach, Oakham – There are a number of state and independent schools in Oakham that are within walking distance of our new development at Farriers Reach. These include Catmose Primary School, Oakham C of E Primary School, Brooke Priory School and Harington School.
  • Whittlesey Green, Whittlesey– The Alderman Jacobs Primary School and Harry Smith Community College are close to our Whittlesey Green development.
  • Gretton Valley, Weldon – The development is in Priors Hall Park Corby. As part of the wider development a nursery, pre-school, primary and secondary schools are being built, which will all be within walking distance of Gretton Valley.
  • Thorney Meadows, Thorney – The Duke of Bedford Primary School is within walking distance of this development.
Currently just 53 per cent of children in England walk to school according to the National Travel Survey. This is down from a generation ago, when 70 per cent of children used to walk to school.

Living Streets currently works in over 2,000 schools across the UK to increase the number of children walking to school through WOW – the year-round walk to school challenge. WOW schools walk to school rates have increased by 23 per cent on average with a corresponding drop in cars around the school gates. Quite a result!

At Larkfleet Homes we are keen on delivering living communities, not just housing developments. That’s why our developments are situated in locations close to amenities such as shops and schools to provide a home for all the family. Will you walk to school this October?


03 Oct 2018

Don’t let early frosts blanch your blooms

protect against early frosts
The evenings are starting to draw in and the clocks go back in just a few weeks. So now is the time to start thinking about hunkering down for the winter.

Part of the winter preparation is frost-proofing the garden. And you may not have noticed, but some parts of the country have had light touches of frost already.

In the past, you could expect a few frosty mornings by the end of October. Even though we are constantly reminded of the effects of global warming, there is still a chance of early frosts in dry weather when high pressure leads to clear night skies.

Frost causes the water in your plants to freeze, which damages their cells. Damaged plants can become limp, blackened and distorted. Where plants face the morning sun, problems can be made worse because rapid defrosting will cause the cell walls to rupture.

As with most problems, prevention is better than cure. So here is a handy list of things you can do to protect your valuable plants from the effects of early frost.
  • Cover trained plants or tender plants growing in the ground with a fleece covered frame.
  • Cover bulbs, corms and herbaceous plants that have been cut back with a layer of manure, leaf mulch or straw.
  • Grow tender plants in pots so that they can be moved indoors or into a greenhouse when the weather gets worse.
  • Cover low growing plants from wet weather with plastic or glass cloches.
  • Choose frost-proof outdoor containers so that they don’t crack. Move them into a green house or shed if the weather is likely to be particularly bad.
  • Dig up annual plants that are unlikely to survive the winter and throw them on the compost. This will give you more time to deal with other jobs that need doing.
  • Watering plants before a frost will insulate the roots.
  • Cover plants that are in the early-morning sun with sheeting to shade them from the sun’s rays so they don’t defrost too quickly.
The winter will soon be over and spring preparation will be in full swing. But, by preparing for the winter and protecting your plants from the elements, the quality of next season's offerings will be that much better. 


01 Oct 2018

Quick organic British recipes

Organic food
It’s British Food Fortnight - and Organic Food Month; the perfect storm if all you want is convenience food and a night in front of the telly. But it’s the perfect combination if you’re a family of foodies, or just looking for ways to break your frozen fishfinger and oven chip habit.

Cooking British food with organic produce doesn’t have to be difficult, inconvenient or expensive. It’s possible to prepare delicious family meals on a budget that are quick and satisfying. It’s healthy and, by involving the kids in cooking meals, you can bring the whole family together. After all, the kitchen is the heart of the home.

We’ve put together a little guide on sourcing organic produce locally and a few quick and easy recipes for you to try.

Most major supermarkets sell organic foods. If you are on a budget, check out your local Aldi or Lidl discount supermarkets. Aldi’s range includes groceries including eggs, milk and veg. Try its recipe for cheesy potato cakes. They’re a great alternative to chips and go well with almost anything.

At Larkfleet we are lucky to have developments in locations where there are also plenty of farmers’ markets and farm shops where you can find organic produce.

One such is Riverford Organics – one of their farms is at Sacrewell Farm near Peterborough. You can buy direct from the farm or go online here. And they have plenty of recipe ideas here.  You can also buy recipe boxes with all the fresh ingredients you’ll need for your favourite dishes.

Another Cambridgeshire grower is HolmSelect in March. They are passionate about organic farming and supply to the Organic Delivery Company. Your choice of British grown organic food is greater than ever before.

Recipes

You can cook just about anything. And they can be organic, as long as you source organic produce. The BBC website has some great quick British recipes – just make sure you use organic ingredients.

One of our favourites is herby Toad in the Hole which can be on the table in under an hour. Serve with freshly cooked organic veg like broccoli or peas, carrots and roast parsnips.


25 Sep 2018

12 films for autumn

Larkfleet autumn films
As the nights get longer, and bad weather keeps us indoors more often, there's nothing better than settling down on sofa with a classic film with a real autumnal feel.

Autumn is also a time when the movie studios release their new films ahead of the holiday season, so in addition to some cracking classics, we've also listed a few of the new arrivals to look out for, if you prefer to get out to a cinema.

6 classics
  • Halloween (1978) – a classic slasher horror movie that still keeps audiences on the edges of their seats. So good, it spawned a whole series of sequels, not to mention a whole sub-genre of films influenced by director John Carpenter.
  • Rushmore (1998) – the back to school theme is explored in this movie set in a US prep school over an autumn term.
  • Far From Heaven (2002) – a tribute to 1950s melodramas, directed by Todd Haynes, this film is about a house wife dealing with the prejudices of a mixed race affair after her husband admits that he is gay. It's a true classic that oozes autumnal charm.
  • Dead Poets’ Society (1989) – another heart-warming movie with an autumnal back to school theme. Robin Williams is superb as inspirational English teacher John Keating.
  • When Harry Met Sally (1989) – a quintessential romcom that features leafy walks in Central Park and Meg Ryan’s wool and tweed hats and blazers.
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) – John Hughes’ 1980s comedy classic staring Steve Martin and the late John Candy is all about the chaos of holiday travel and bad weather.
If you haven’t already got these in your collection, you can stream them from an online provider or order the DVD from your favourite online entertainment retailer.

6 new releases
  • The Predator – a reboot of the 1980s classic sci-fi creature feature.
  • The House with the Clock on its Walls – a children’s gothic horror starring Jack Black and Cate Blanchett from horror master Eli Roth.
  • Venom – a Spiderman spin-off about journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), infected by an alien parasite that gives him superhuman powers.
  • Halloween  – a direct sequel to the original 1978 John Carpenter classic.
  • First man – a biopic of Neil Armstrong and his journey to become the first man on the moon.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (November 2) – biopic of consummate showman Freddie Mercury starring Rami Malek culminating Queen’s iconic 1985 performance at Live Aid. 
The region boasts plenty of options for your viewing pleasure. Here are local cinemas near Larkfleet developments:

Boston – Savoy, Boston West End
Corby – Savoy, Corby
Peterborough – Showcase Cinema deLux
Spalding – South Holland Centre
Taunton – The Odeon



Follow the links for what's on and screening times.


21 Sep 2018

Fundraising is a piece of cake for Larkfleet Homes

Larkfleet Homes MacMillan Coffee Mornng
It’s coffee time!

The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning takes place on Friday 28 September and the team at Larkfleet Homes will, once again, be joining in to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Forget Bake Off! Staff at Larkfleet Homes’ Bourne HQ will be baking or bringing in cakes and snacks that will be sold in the building’s main meeting room to raise money for the charity.

You can help by buying a cake and cup of coffee throughout the day at any of our show homes.

Having a coffee morning is the perfect chance to catch up over a cuppa and a slice of something delicious … all for a great cause.

The team will be creating a buzz around the office with posters, bunting and cake cards to make the place look the part. There will also be a raffle with all donations collected going to Macmillan.

We hope that you, and all our visitors, will join in the fun, buy a cake or two and enjoy a cup of coffee in aid of this popular cause.

The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is Macmillan’s biggest fundraising event for people facing cancer. Since 1990, the Coffee Morning has raised over £200 million for Macmillan Cancer Support. People all over the UK host their own coffee mornings and money raised on the day is given to Macmillan. Last year alone saw a total of £27 million generated for the charity.

This year Macmillan is aiming to raise even more – and the Larkfleet Homes team is aiming to do its bit.

Please bring your cash along if you are visiting our offices or one of our show houses, and help us to help Macmillan!


20 Sep 2018

6 things to do with the kids at harvest time

things to do with the kids at harvest time
Harvest time is a wonderful time of year. It’s a season that touches us at Larkfleet Homes because many of our developments are in rural areas and small market towns whose communities and economies depend, in part, on agriculture.

Harvest is an important time for farmers. It’s the culmination of a year's work and investment. And it’s a time of celebration, which is why harvest festivals are important in rural areas.

Ample food and the freedom from the necessity to work in the fields are two central features of harvest festivals with eating, merriment, contests, music and romance being the main themes in harvest festivals around the world.

The full moon nearest the autumnal equinox is called the Harvest Moon. So, in ancient traditions Harvest Festivals were traditionally held on or near the Sunday of the Harvest Moon. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September. In some years it occurs in October.

During a harvest celebration, people bring in produce from the garden, the allotment or farm. The food is often distributed among the poor and senior citizens of the local community; or used to raise funds for charity.

If you'd like to do something with the kids this harvest time, we've compiled a quick list of suggestions.
  • Have a look at The Campaign for School Gardening. Run by the RHS, it provides a wealth of practical information as well as running fun competitions such as “Young School Gardener of the Year”.
  • The BBC and RHS have teamed up and provide some great tips for gardening with children of all ages. Why not get them interested? 
  • Gardening with Children runs a club - membership of which allows access to all sort of useful resources that can help your budding young gardeners get even more enthused 
  • Why not make corn dollies? As an old tradition, to preserve the spirit of the corn, the final ears used to be fashioned into corn dollies (also known as 'kirn-babies' (also spelt kern), ivy girls, and mell dolls), and kept in the farmhouse all winter, before being ploughed into the first furrow in spring. Corn dollies can be woven into a variety of shapes including chandeliers, horns and horseshoes. The Eden Project website shows you how to make your own corn dolly.
  • You can celebrate the part bread has to play in the harvest by baking a mini harvest loaf with flour that has been milled as locally as possible from the most locally grown grain possible.
  • Or you could visit a local wind or watermill. Sacrewell Farm is a great local example or there’s Whissendine Windmill near Oakham or Heckington Windmill near Sleaford.
And while you’re there, why not take a little time to visit one of our show homes in Oakham.


18 Sep 2018

7 essentials for creating the perfect home gym

Larkfleet Homes home gym
As Autumn kicks in and the mornings and evenings start to get darker, the idea of lacing up the trainers and getting out for a run becomes less appealing. Shorter days, combined with wet and windy weather, mean the lure of the sofa can be hard to resist. Weekends are great for getting out running in the daytime, but our busy lifestyles often leave us time poor. Exercise can lose out to family and work commitments.

This is where equipping your home with some domestic gym equipment can really help. You can choose when to exercise and you don’t need to worry about failing light or the inclement British weather.

Some people worry about cost and space believing that gym equipment is expensive and will take up loads of space in the home. But the reality is, that’s not always the case and there are plenty of budget options available. And they don’t necessarily need to take up lots of space either.

Larkfleet Homes are generously proportioned and, depending on your family’s needs, have space to install a home gym.

You can kit out a spare room, garage or shed with a few key pieces of essential equipment for around £1,000 - £2,000. There are plenty of places to pick up used gear at a fraction of the cost of new equipment like online auction sites and classified ads.

When you’re looking for gear, go for versatility. This means you’ll need to buy less stuff, saving on
space and your pocket.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Flooring – There are plenty of options for proper rubber flooring, either in tiles or on the roll. It will save your joints and help you to look after your equipment. It will also protect the floor.
  • Kettlebells – These are versatile and can be used for a variety of exercises.You will only need a couple. Ensure you choose a weight that is going to push you, but not cause injury or strain.
  • Spin bike – A spin bike will help you with your cardio and get you in the fat burning zone. It’s a great way to multi-task too. While you’re gently spinning away, catch up on some telly or make those phone calls that you have been putting off. 
  • Treadmill – This is a great addition to a home gym and will help you stick to your running programmes, even in the depths of winter. Don’t completely substitute the outdoors though and make sure you get outside to pound the pavements and suck in some fresh air when you can.
  • Bar bells – A bar and barbells are part of the ‘essentials kit’ and will form the basis of your cardio and conditioning exercises such as squats, bench presses, behind the neck Military Press, arm curls – the list goes on.
  • Rack – Essential for placing your weights when you bench press, etc.
  • Bench – Obviously, you can’t do bench presses without a bench.
Whether you’re fully equipped, or choose a few essential pieces, having access to some gym equipment at home can mean you are able to keep you exercising through the worst that the British weather has to throw at you.

For more ideas on home gyms visit Houzz or Pinterest.


17 Sep 2018

Autumn running for charity

larkfleet run for charity
At Larkfleet we believe that putting something back into the community is vitally important. That’s why we support several different charities throughout the the year.

This year we are giving our support to Anna’s Hope, Shine, Greater Peterborough UTC, MacMillan and the Peterborough City Hospital Breast Care Unit.

Anna’s Hope is the leading children’s brain tumour charity in the East of England. It was inspired by Anna Olivia Hughes, who tragically died from a brain tumour aged only three years and eight months. It was set up by Anna's parents, Rob and Carole Hughes, and her five Godparents in October 2006.

There are lots of different ways in which you can help the charity. If you are feeling sporty you could sign up for the Anna’s Hope 5k Fun Run, which takes place at the Great Eastern Run in October. You can sign up to run here.

Runs are also the most popular way to support Peterborough-based charity Shine, which provides specialist advice and support for spina bifida and hydrocephalus in the UK. They have loads of information about signing up on their website.

Of course, the most popular distance run in this region is the Perkins Great Eastern Run. You can get a charity place or start your own Just Giving page and sign up for the race here.

Running is a fantastic way to get fit and you can use your new-found fitness to benefit others in the community by entering challenging events for a good cause. But it’s important to maintain your fitness, eat the right food and not over do things to avoid injuring yourself.

Here are a few training tips to help you along.


14 Sep 2018

Top toys for Christmas

Argos top toys for Christmas
It is some time off we know – 12 weeks more or less – but with the kids back at school, Striclty on the telly and the nights drawing in it might be a good idea to start thinking about Christmas.

We’re thinking here mainly about what pressies to get the kids.

Argos has already made its predictions for the top toys for Christmas.
2018 is the ‘Year of the Unicorn’ with the mythical steeds set to dominate the toy scene having already taken over social feeds and the food and design worlds.

Four unique and innovative unicorn toys are expected to fly off the shelves this year, including the My Lovely Unicorn Electric Ride-On (£229.99) which makes a great high-impact gift, to the quirkier Poopsie (£49.99), the unicorn who poops glitter.

Other predicted bestsellers for 2018 include the latest innovations from LOL Surprise and Fingerlings, such as dinosaur-themed Fingerlings and the LOL Surprise Under-Wraps (£14.99) which is the first cylindrical-shaped case from the collectible favourite. TV stars Paw Patrol also feature with the brand-new Rescue Fire Truck Playset (£69.99).

Boxer (£79.99) the playful robot is a fantastic choice for those looking for toys that encourage children to be interactive and imaginative. Kids who prefer something more hands-on will also love the Treasure X 3-Pack Chest (£29.99) which lets you dig for gold-dipped treasure. And construction fans will be delighted with the City Arctic Mobile Exploration Base from perennial favourite LEGO
(£84.99).

You can shop for toys online here.


11 Sep 2018

Top tips for getting your home ready for winter

autumn home maintenance
While many of us are enjoying some late summer sun, it’s worth remembering that Autumn is on its way. And winter is just around the corner.

With colder temperatures and worsening weather not that far away, now is good time to have a look around the house and garden and see what needs preparing to see you through the winter.

We have pulled together this handy guide to plugging up the gaps and sealing your home against the worst that the British weather has to throw at it.

Check your heating – Give your heating system a trial run before you actually need it in cold weather. You’ll be able to identify any problems and get them sorted out now before you really miss it. If you have open fires, make sure you get chimneys and flues cleaned and swept.

Heating service – If it’s been a while, now would be a good time to organise a boiler service. Once the cold weather really starts to bite, competent heating engineers can be hard to find as this is a really busy time for them. Have a look at Checkatrade or Trustatrader for recommendations.

Check your loft – Have a look at the water expansion tank in your loft and check the ball valve on the water inlet to make sure it’s working OK. Move the ball up a down a few times to see if the water flows and then shuts off. While you're up there, inspect your insulation and top it up if needed to the required depth of 270mm. Also check that any pipework in your loft is insulated; you don’t want frozen or burst pipes in cold weather.

Draft proofing – Check your doors and windows for draft proofing. Adding a threshold strip or a letterbox draft excluder are cheap and quick ways to improve draft proofing and save yourself some money on your heating bills this winter.

Check ventilation – Because we tend to shut up the house at this time of year, a resulting lack of ventilation can cause condensation problems. Condensation can be removed by ensuring that your rooms are well ventilated and extractor fans fitted in areas such as the kitchen and bathroom.

Check outside – A bright sunny day in autumn is a good time to check your walls and brickwork for any damage. Flaking and cracks can allow water to penetrate, so you’ll need to get these repaired. Also make sure there’s no soil or debris piled against the walls that could cause a breach of your damp proof course. Also check air vents and air bricks are clear and free from debris to ensure adequate ventilation indoors.

Clear drains and gutters – In late autumn, once most of the leaves have fallen, clean out drains, gutters and downpipes of any blockages. You should also repair any leaks you find in gutters and down pipes.

Check your roof – Get out a pair of binoculars and inspect your roof to make sure there are no damaged slates or tiles. Replace any damaged or missing tiles and make sure and damaged flashing is also repaired.

Outdoors – Check external pipes and taps and insulate them to prevent freezing. Clean paths and patios and treat external timber.

Exterior lighting and homes security – You could fit some motion sensitive lighting outside your home to ensure you have some welcoming light when you come home from work on the darker evenings. Good quality external security lighting also helps to deter would-be burglars.

The colder months aren't here yet, but by getting ahead of the game with a few 'prep jobs', you can sit back and relax and enjoy a stress free winter.


07 Sep 2018

Ways you can get involved and help a charity


Charities, by their very nature, do good deeds for other people. Their work is tireless, often heroic, and intended to be at no cost to the recipient. Their efforts are for the good of those who are in need (in one way or another) of money, food, care or just some time.

But charities themselves often need some help too.

With over 160,000 charities in England and Wales alone, it's easy to see why funds are, generally, in short supply and why resources for day-to-day operations, which are largely dependent upon volunteers, can be sparse.

Still, they somehow achieve success in being a central mainstay in many local communities. They not only provide a lifeline for those in need, but a purpose for those who volunteer. They can be a reason to get out of the house each week, meet new people and get involved in a wide range of activities and events.

For others, of course, volunteering is simply a way to give something back.

And with charities ranging from huge nationals to small locals, there'll be lots of opportunities in your area too. It's not about giving huge donations, or dedicating 5 days a week every week, it's about playing a part in fulfilling the purpose of a charity in whatever way you can.

Here are four simple ways that you could get involved and help:
  1. Remember strangersMake donations to local or national causes, taking into account the time of year and how others less fortunate could be affected. In the months running up to winter, take old coats, woolly jumpers, hats, scarves and blankets to charities that help the homeless.

    Your cupboards are probably full of excess tins, jars and packets too so let someone else make good use of them. Food banks are ever-increasing in popularity (and impact) so hunt down your local one and make a delivery. They may even require some man-power, you never know.

    In 2017, 50 per cent of people helped a stranger, let's keep this moving.
  2. Offer your time
    Volunteer in local charity shops, just a few hours will help to tick some jobs off the list. Or if an event is more your thing, help on the day with the organisation and marshalling. You could even take part in the event yourself. Charity fun runs, monthly initiatives (Movember!) or fitness challenges are great ways to raise funds and provide you with the ultimate feel-good factor.

    For the less active (but equally willing) think about selling any unwanted items you have. Tackle eBay or local selling sites to declutter your house or garage and donate the proceeds to a cause close to your heart. There's even the option all over the UK to donate your blood, it's quick, simple and always needed.
  3. Part with your cashOne-off lump sums aren't the only way to give money, and generally don't work for a lot of people. What is more successful (and manageable) is making regular donations in smaller amounts, especially if you can donate from your pre-tax salary; you'll never know it's gone. Or you could simply set up a monthly direct debit. Many smaller, local charities rely upon these regular donations as part of their budgeting.

    And if you're sponsoring others to complete a charity event, make sure you gift aid. The charity will receive an extra 25p for every £1 donated from all UK taxpayers.
  4. Organise a fundraiserThere are lots of opportunities to piggy-back national events with your own local variation, the World's Biggest Coffee Morning by Macmillan being a perfect example. You can create a real community spirit by encouraging local people to come along and get involved. You'll soon learn of a whole host of skill sets (and enthusiasm) in your area.

    You could even take the initiative and organise your own event. Bring and buy sales, bingo nights, a swishing party or pamper evening are all full of fun and largely successful in generating the crowds and raising the funds. All you need is a small team of helpers!
There are so many ways that you can get involved and support charities, locally or nationally. You just need to tap into one (or a few) that you'd like to support and take it from there. There's a role to suit everyone in the world of volunteering.


06 Sep 2018

Steering the future of house-buying

The UK housing market is one which is always under much scrutiny, and even more so since Brexit.   

How will house prices be affected in the years ahead? Will they continue to rise? 

After all, they have gone up by an astonishing 259% since 1997. Maybe it’s time to see them fall... even just slightly.    

This could mean that the housing market is opened up to a wider audience. People need to strike while the iron’s hot and,  if the right property comes along at the right price, you need to be ready to buy. 

What will the impact of this be on the rental market? As it is financially beneficial (in most cases) to pay a monthly mortgage instead of a monthly rent, those able to make the move onto the property ladder will do so. Some even plan years ahead to build their savings pot into a sizeable deposit. 

But still, the problems associated with an on-going housing shortage could work against any positive impact Brexit may have. Even if we see a soft (or limited) fall in house prices, the theory of demand exceeding supply could see them shoot back them up again. 

So, no matter how much we obsess about the economic possibilities of UK house prices, there really is no certainty. The best we can achieve is opinions and predictions from those in the know (and those buying and selling).   

Lynne Fitzpatrick
At Larkfleet, we aim to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and work hard to understand what our customers, and future customers, are thinking.     

Our recent house buyer research, conducted in partnership with some key industry names, provided us with valuable insights into the whys and wherefores of the current UK housing market. 

We look forward to sharing these results with you very soon. But, in the meantime, we’d like to congratulate the winners of our prize draws. Participant input into this type of research is fundamental if we are to deliver results that are both accurate and reliable. The more people who take part, the more representative our findings are.    

Anne Bladon
So, a huge thank you to everyone who completed the research survey, and the telephone interview, your input is very much appreciated.   

And a special congratulations to both Lynne Fitzpatrick and Anne      Bladon who each won £500 in our prize draws.     

We hope you enjoy spending your winnings ladies! 


03 Sep 2018

Join us for morning coffee!

The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is once again coming to Larkfleet House. 
This year’s event will be held on Friday 28 September in support of Macmillan’s biggest fundraising event for people facing cancer.  
And it’s no half-baked job.  
Staff across the business, including those at Larkfleet House and at our individual sites, will be busy baking or buying delicious cakes and snacks to add to the mix. And they’ll all be available to purchase on the day as part of the mammoth fundraising efforts.  
So why not pop along to Larkfleet House, or your nearest show home, to join in our Macmillan coffee and cake bonanza. There are no limits to what you can enjoy (because no one will be counting) so join us for a piece of cake (or two, three or four) and a cup of coffee and know that you have done your part to support Macmillan.  
The success of these events is crucial to everyday people all over the country and since the first ever coffee morning in 1990, they have raised in excess of £200 million for the charity. One in two of us will face cancer at some point and this staggering amount of money will make sure no one has to face it alone.     
Last year’s combined coffee morning efforts saw an unbelievable £27 million raised and so the bar is set for 2018.  
We’re going to be a part of this phenomena once more and we’d like you to join us.  Who can really say no to coffee and cake on a Friday morning?    


31 Aug 2018

Kids’ bedroom makeover ideas


Kids bedroom makeover space for study and play
As the kids prepare for the new school year you might be thinking about giving your kids’ bedrooms a makeover? Stuck for ideas?

The good news is, there is no end of ideas out there to give you inspiration if you are thinking about changing or redecorating a child’s bedroom. You only have to look on social media sites like Pinterest and Houzz to see the ideas are endless.

It is worth remembering though that kids are as individual as us adults. They have their own personalities, interests, likes and dislikes. Bear this in mind when you are considering your makeover.
Not only that. Children seem to gather as much, if not more, ‘stuff’ than grownups. Any makeover of a child’s bedroom will need to consider de-cluttering and storage.

Here are some tips for getting your child’s bedroom makeover just right, so it doesn’t just suit the overall look and feel of your house. It will also give your child a space of their own that they will love and want to spend time in – not just sleeping.

Theme
Age and whether you have girls or boys will dictate your choice of theme. Find out what your kids are in to – if you don’t already know. Younger boys will no doubt be mad on pirates or superheroes, Star Wars or football. Girls on the other hand may be more interested in Frozen, gymnastics or their favourite YouTuber. Or maybe those 'gender sterotypes' don't apply and your daughter would prefer a football theme and your son wants to feature a vlogger. You won't know unless you ask!

Pre-teens and teenagers will be different. The things they were interested in as younger children may not excite them anymore and plainer themes might be more suitable. That will allow them to personalise their space with their own accessories.

Don’t conform to stereotypes though. Make sure you involve your child in choosing a theme. Make sure they will get a room they love.

Colours
Once you’ve got a theme you’ll need to get a colour scheme sorted. Depending on the theme, you could be looking at bold primary colours, stark contrasting tones, or soft pastel shades. You might be using blues and reds to compliment Superman or the softer shades of a Disney Princess.

When you are choosing colours, don’t forget that the bedroom should be a place where your kids can relax and sleep easy.

Accessories
There are all kinds of things that you can include to complement the design of your child’s bedroom. Bed linen and curtains should match the theme and colour scheme. Remember, you need to consider comfort and practicality. Blinds or curtains should shut out enough light to aid sleep. There’s nothing worse than a child waking up at the crack of dawn in the summer because blinds or curtains don’t cover the windows properly.

Lighting is also important. Choose relaxing themes. Lamps and lampshades can be added to enhance interest for your chosen theme.

Add some activity for active kids. If you have some space, what about including a climbing wall? Add built-in space for hobbies like trains, Scalextric or collecting. And for older children, you might want to add some space to accommodate gaming accessories.

Try to keep furniture functional – but make it fit your theme. Fill wall space with murals relating to the theme or add pictures and photos in creative ways.

Storage and organisation
Do you find yourself tripping over toys or walking over Lego bricks with bare feet? Storage is important. It will stop you hopping around in pain and help to maximise the space in your child’s room.

Use cupboard space, wardrobes, shelves and hangers to store your children’s stuff. Maximise space by choosing beds with drawers underneath. You could even add space-age racking to hang up gaming accessories or toys.

Add display space so your kids can show off models, toy figures or art work. Just make sure your storage options match the themes you have chosen.

Workspace
School age children will need a calm space, free of distractions, where they can do their homework or enjoy some downtime with a favourite book.

Include a book shelf, desk and chair, but make sure there are enough power points so that they can plug in their laptops or PCs if they have them.

Where space is at a premium, why not build a work space into a bunk bed solution?

Chill out
When you are re-doing your children’s bedrooms, remember that whatever theme you pick, make the space restful. Make it a space that your kids want to spend time in and one where they will be able to work and play.


30 Aug 2018

Top telly this Autumn

Wanderlust BBC1
Image:BBC
The summer is drawing to a close and, for some of us, it’s a bit of a sad time as the warmer, drier weather starts to give way to cooler, wetter times.

Don’t worry though. Autumn is a great time to embrace being with the family and enjoying some home comforts.

Not least amongst the season's homely pleasures is settling down on the sofa with the family to enjoy some great telly. Now’s the time that TV programme controllers start to release new shows for the autumn and the run up to Christmas.

Here’s our pick of the schedules:

Strictly Come Dancing – BBC1
Strictly has established itself as a firm family favourite over the past 14 years. This year another eclectic mix of actors, celebs and sports stars will strut their stuff to keep us entertained right up to Christmas.

Vanity Fair – ITV
William Makepeace Thackeray’s ani-hero Becky Sharp springs to life from the pages of his novel in a lavish new adaptation with an all-star cast including Suranne Jones, Michael Palin and Martin Clunes. It starts on Sunday 2 September.

Wanderlust – BBC1
This 6-part family drama begins on 4 September and stars Hollywood actress Toni Collette (pictured).

Strangers – ITV
A conspiracy thriller starring John Simm. The first episode airs on Monday 10 September.

A Discovery of Witches – Sky 1
A supernatural romance featuring witches and vampires. Nice and spooky for the lengthening autumn evenings.

Dr Who – BBC1
Starring Jodie Whittaker as the 13th and first female Doctor, the new season gets underway later this Autumn.

The War of the Worlds – BBC1
Another literary adaptation, this time of HG Wells’ 1897 novel. It promises to remain faithful to the tone and spirit of the book while also being contemporary.

The First – Channel 4
Set in the 2030s this is a sci-fi drama about the first manned mission to Mars.

For info on what’s on TV this Autumn visit The Radio Times website.


29 Aug 2018

Dan is helping us build for the future

Larkfleet Homes Dan Wedekind
One of the things we are proud of at Larkfleet Homes is our commitment to encouraging and developing the next generation of construction professionals. And in doing that we are able to resource our plans to expand the number of homes we’re building.

To help us, we have appointed a new trainee architect and film fan, Dan Wedekind. Dan took his A Levels at Hinchingbrooke School before going on to the University of Lincoln where he gained an honours degree in architecture.

Now he is working with us to develop new housing. The experience will eventually enable him to return to university for another two years to complete a master’s degree and become a fully qualified architect.

Dan told us: “I am learning a lot from my boss and colleagues, seeing how a site is laid out and learning some of the more technical aspects of development.

“I am really enjoying the experience and seeing how all the design and engineering planning finally comes together into a completed housing development.”

Part of Dan’s role involves attending open evenings at Greater Peterborough University Technical College (GPUTC) and trying to get current and prospective students interested in the construction industry -  in particular the design side.

“As a trainee myself I am able to pass on my experience and knowledge thus far on my route to becoming an architect,” said Dan.

GPUTC is a brand-new £12 million state-of-the-art technical school located on the Park Crescent Campus in Peterborough. It specialises in teaching engineering and the built environment alongside traditional A Levels and GCSEs to students aged between 14 and 19.

UTCs are unique in that they have sponsors and partners which play a large part in the way that students learn, from offering work experience, industry exposure and mentoring through to providing a guaranteed job interview upon completion of study.

Larkfleet has been involved with GPUTC since before the first plans were drawn up and is one of the sponsors. Our CEO Karl Hick sits on the school’s board of governors.

Investing in the future of the construction industry, by supporting local young people in their training and development, has always been part of our ethos at Larkfleet.