Monday, 24 July 2017

How I Sold My Car Last Week For a Great Price

My car is a real wreck, damaged almost beyond repair. The car was a gift to my son and after just 1 month he had crashed it. Thankfully all my nagging about using his seatbelt paid off and he was unhurt. But the car was a mess.

I managed to drive it home but it was stuck on the driveway looking like an "eye sore" and my wife has been on my back about it for the past 3 weeks. Anyway, to save anyone else this nagging, ooops I mean having a broken car on your driveway, I thought I would share how I sold it really fast for a great deal after weeks of no interest.

Initially I did what I would usually do and put it in the classifieds. I quickly realised the people who buy cars on these sites don't want an accident damaged car, they want one which is running. So I lowered the price. Still no joy. I added it to a couple more websites and still nobody even contacted me to make a single inquiry.

Then a good friend of mine (thanks Phil) told me about Sell The Car USA and the next day I had sold my car. Well technically it was the day after that I got paid and gave them the car, but it was agreed on that first day. Amazing!

Anyway if you want to sell a broken car give Sell The Car a shout. They are awesome. I believe they operate across The States. Basically they want cars which they can repair then sell, or recycle. They actually paid me more than I was putting on the classifieds websites, which was even better.

I fully recommend Sell The Car USA to sell any damaged, non running or broken car. The staff are nice, the service ultra fast and the price they paid me (direct into my bank account) was very reasonable.

Visit if you need a quote and they will give you a valuation within a day.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

3 of the Best Luxury Resorts in the Maldives

Earlier this year I got engaged and we are busy planning the wedding. Well actually my better half is doing much of the planning and one of my jobs is organizing the honeymoon. It was such as fun task that I decided to blog about it.

Firstly I had to decide on the destination. A friend who works for a company offering Maldives honeymoon packages told me that the Maldives was the best seller. They also sell packages to other top honeymoon destinations like the Seychelles and the Far East, but Mike told me that the Maldives was the top dog. I enjoyed browsing the different countries and ended up agreeing that the Maldives would be the best place to go for a romantic break.

At the moment I am still in the deciding process. I have nailed it down to 3 resorts in the Maldives. These are all 5 star and very luxurious- we are going to splash the cash this time. The resorts each have their own merits- namely awesome villas and amazing beaches, with turquoise clear water.

Below I will list the 3 resorts and add some photos (taken off the Only Exclusive Travel website). If you have any preferences or recommendations; please leave a comment below to help me decide. I still have a month or so before we will be booking. They are in no particular order:

1. Soneva Fushi
This is a very well rounded island in terms of facilities, amenities and the paradise island factor. They have gone for a natural vibe with traditional architecture which has a lot of individuality and character. Some of the villas look quite large so I wonder whether this one is better for families and groups?
Soneva Fushi - a picture of paradise

2. Jumeirah Vittaveli 
Check out the photo below, which is what made me almost fall in love at first sight with Jumeirah Vittaveli. Who could resist the villas on stilts over the water? You are guaranteed privacy at this resort and I would expect the water ripples to reflect off the ceiling- this is one of those little things I love about accommodation near water. 

I was leaning towards one of the water villas with a sunset view- should be magical. But the Ocean Suite Villas are the ones in the photo and I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't try one of those. The company does bespoke packages so I am sure they will be able to give use a few days in one and a few days in the other. The villas on stilts are only accessible by speedboat, so I think 3-4 nights will be enough. Then we can stay on the island to make more use of the facilities like the spa and beach.

Jumeirah Vittaveli with their romantic floating villas

 3. Amilla Fushi
This resort struck a cord with me because of the minimalist design. I have been getting into Feng Shui and minimalism in my work life e.g. less clutter. Therefore the photos of the well appointed, modern villas were very attractive to me.

At Amilla Fushi you can choose a villa with it's own infinity pool (see photo below). I adore infinity pools, especially if it was just outside our room and private. I just seem attracted to all the other photos too- as a Brit I like the way Fish and Chips is advertised at such an opulent resort. The ground seems to be sand in most places, which is great as it looks very white. Plus the way the sunbeds are spaced out and everything else makes me think that this would make a very comfortable place to stay as a couple, without feeling isolated.

Amilla Fushi villa with infinity pool

Which one would you choose? Have you been to another luxury resort in the Maldives for a honeymoon or romantic break?

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Fishing, Cleaning and Sunbathing

This month has been glorious weather in England up north. Usually we get more rain and cold in August. It has been overcast but warm: perfect for me. No need for suntan lotion or a hat, or worrying about wearing black.

I have been taking this opportunity to go fishing. Below is a photo of a relative taken the other day:

Unfortunately this time it wasn't to be. I have had a bit of success this summer but all pretty small fishes in the nearby rivers and lakes. Nothing compared to the best I photographed below on my last holiday abroad:

This would be my dream catch

There have been a couple of sunny days which I have used for a spot of sunbathing. We even broke out the BBQ and crochet set one afternoon. I tend to get eye bags and a tan is the ideal way to get rid of them.

I am not very good at sunbathing - it is just so boring. So after 10 minutes or so I need to do something. After the usual chores like trimming the shrubs back and mowing the lawn, I decided to clean the paving on the patio and side path.

What a boring job, but certainly less boring than just sunbathing. The problem is that you tend to slouch over when jet washing paving, which meant it did nothing for my tan. Anyway I whizzed through it and then applied a paving sealer in the hope that will stop me needing to clean it again anytime soon. Apparently it should help keep the paving clean for many years. Lets see.

The sky is threatening rain today so it is touch and go. If it brightens up a bit I shall cycle to the shops. We have an old bike with a rock hard seat. I found a seat cover for less than £3 on eBay (including postage) which has made an amazing difference. So I am eager to use it when I can. I do not do rain though, so I have to be sure hehehe.

Anyways that's my little update, signing off for now. Hope everyone is also having a good summer.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

2 Jobs for Introverts and those with Social Anxiety

I have always been one of those people who finds it hard to socialize. Books such as Quiet: The Power of Introverts..., The Introvert Advantage and The Rise of the Introverts have also given me confidence to embrace being an introvert. It started when I learned from a great TED talk that introverts have energy taken from them when socialising and extroverts gain energy from being with people.

Therefore, it makes sense for introverts and people who have the more serious but rarer social anxiety (fear of people), to avoid jobs where you have to interact often and do team work. For me teamwork is just the biggest turn off. In sales jobs team work building is a big thing. Great for extroverts but for me a nightmare.

I failed a course at college because there were presentations in front of the class. I just didn't go to classes. I thought that was just me, but reading the books above and seeing the TED video made me realize it is more common than we think. So here is my first post of advice with others. At 40 years old I have got to a fairly comfortable stage with social phobia and being introverted.

So lets start with what I do:

Working Online

There are a hundred plus things that you can do online. It means less contact with the real world and if you get into a situation like I am in, I almost never have to communicate with people other than by email.

This may sound like heaven but think about it, we are supposed to be social creatures. Therefore unless you are very happy being alone and have a supportive other half, be careful. You don’t want to be one of those overweight bachelors or spinsters who never leave their home and just order take out food all the time.

Working online is great but if you are single especially, make sure you get some human contact. This is easier said than done but I believe if you hide away and work online without a partner and ideally friends to socialise with, you will end up lonely and unhappy.


As a member of various organisations for introverts and those with social phobia, I find it baffling how many people are teachers. My Mum has some similarities with nervousness around others, but she has been a happy teacher for many years. She started in primary schools, moved on to secondary school (apparently that was more stressful- sounds like my worst nightmare). Now she teaches smaller groups at an English language school in Manchester teaching IELTS courses.

Anyway this is not something I could ever do, despite numerous attempts from my Mum to get me to to it. However it seems to be a case of facing your fear, which I believe is a great way to overcome problems. I just couldn’t stand in front of a class of 20-30 kids.

Teaching can be done in many ways. My Mum taught from toddlers up to those getting ready for college. She also taught those with issue like dyslexia for a while; I think this would be a great first step for introverts as they were tiny group sessions. She now simply teaches English. You can teach a subject you are interested in. You can teach around the world. It is seems to be a very flexible job when you consider the many options. So if you can see yourself doing it, certainly have a think. My Mum said her most rewarding moments were at the end of the school year when young children would do sweet things like say “thanks you are the best teacher” with a gift.

Bonus tip: Healthy tea recipe which may help social anxiety

For a tea which has amazing health benefits for people with social anxiety, check out the recipe below. Update: this tea has coincided with a really productive time in my life with far less depression cause from being introverted and socially anxious. But I have also made an effort to change my mindset and be more positive, so I can't be sure how effective it is.

Bonus tip: hobby which is therapeutic for social anxiety and avoidant personality disorder AVPD

I have to share this as it has been an amazing help to me. It is street photography. I quickly got into it and now have a blog: Chiang Mai Street Photography. This is where I share my photos. You can also share them on Facebook and other places online. 

Street photography is something anyone can do, you don't even need a camera, I started on my phone. It forces shy people to be around people and gets you used to interacting with them. You can choose how much interaction there is. You can pretend to be shooting past people, or you can have eye contact and offer a thankful gesture once taken the photo, or even talk to people. 

Give street photography a try if you have social phobia, shyness, AVPD etc... It is very helpful and addictive. I have been doing it for about a year and my interest just gets stronger and stronger, especially when visiting new places. Markets and airports are ideal places to start as people are busy doing things.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Care Industry One of Biggest Growers

The British elderly care industry is booming right now. Massive investments are leading to a whole new generation of companies. Companies like Safe Harbor who began with just one nursing home in the Midlands now have 5 in the region.

These once small firms are simply reacting to the market as more and more elderly people seek quality care. The rise of the internet generation has ensured that standards need to remain high. One bad review online can make or break a business so quality care needs to be adhered to at all times.

People want their family members to reside in smaller homes with a sense of community and homeliness. This is why it is the smaller companies who are gradually making their mark rather than bigger ones with hospital-like accommodations which offer unpleasant and “cold” feeling accommodation.

Care homes like Agnes and Arthur (pictured) offer small, homely environments for their residents. This makes the transition much easier for residents when moving out of their own homes. Many elderly people have a fear of hospitals, so using converted large mansions or small apartment blocks is the trend.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Bringing nature into your living room

These days we are all guilty of spending too much time glued to the TV, computer or smartphone. One company who is offering a way to disconnect from these electronic devices is Uscenes. The 2013 start up of the year has set its mission to stop people watching so much TV… but putting a video background on the TV instead.

The idea is simple. To record high quality still camera footage of nature and certain other scenes. Then give people the change to use their TV as a window to the scene. The idea came to head videographer Michael years ago whilst watching Back To The Future 2. The movie featured a Scenery Channel and Michael never forgot what a great idea it would be.

Fast forward many years into the future and Michael has helped to set up Uscenes. They have around 50 scenery videos so far with plenty more on the way. Michael says “We have an infinite number of amazing scenes to film around the world. Since we started the sales have gone really well, so we are already funnelling the money back into the project to fund new shoots.”

One example was last weekend when Michael flew to Portugal for a few days to film some new video backgrounds. One example from the trip is the beach scenes in the clip below. He also filmed atop cliffs and captured some sunsets.

Click here for a sample video beach scene

Uscenes has decided not to offer DVDs or Blu Ray discs as they see these mediums as a dying breed. Instead all products are downloaded from the website. Not all of us have a media streaming device or media player yet but this seems like a great reason to get one. For those not quite up to date with the latest tech you can record the videos onto DVD or enjoy them on your computer. The videos all come with screensaver apps too.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

How To Clean Your Driveway Without Ruining The Concrete

Most of us buy a power washer from our local hardware superstore. These machines are also known as jet washers or pressure washers. They basically send a high powered stream of water out of the nozzle to blast away dirt. The problem with using these machines on a concrete driveway or patio is that they will take the face off the surface.

Most concrete driveways have a top layer which is different to the inside. On pattern imprinted driveways this has a protective coating and coloured dye. Ornamental paving slabs also have a coloured outer layer. Repeated use of a power washer will wear this layer away.

If you are cleaning your concrete regularly the surface will become rougher which means dirt will stick easier. The finish will also deteriorate meaning loss of colour and eventually the inner aggregate stone will show.

Dan from Sale Exterior Restoration is a driveway cleaning specialist and he recommends either letting a professional company like his do the job, or follow the steps below. He says;

“a company like us will only need to do this job every 5-10 years, depending on the surface type and location. Using a cheap power washer twice a year or so will just ruin your surface.”

If you want to do the job yourself follow these steps:

1. Hire a good quality power washer instead of buying one. The top of the range machines omit a much stronger jet of water. This makes the job much faster and eliminates “streaks” from areas missed or rushed.

2. Once cleaned, sweep off any dirt which has gathered in puddles. Then leave the surface until it is bone dry. Whilst waiting purchase a suitable sealant for your driveway. Be aware than some sealants have a subtle matt finish and others have a glossy finish which can be very shiny.

3. Brush the surface with a medium brush. Then apply the sealer. Follow the instructions on the packaging. Usually 2 coats is required. Once applied you can sit back and relax for the next 5-10 years because the sealant will protect the concrete from the elements and from attracting dirt. Using a sealant will help prevent cracks in concrete which are most common in areas which freeze up in winter.

Note: if you decide to DIY check that your black waterproofing damp prevention sheet is at least 2 bricks above your paving. If not I recommend speaking to waterproofing companies to check if the water could cause damp.