Dine With Me

If you’re new to the world of dinner party hosting, it can be a really daunting prospect but there are some simple ideas to make sure that the evening is not a disaster and people don’t go home hungry. Remember that just because you’ve watched a series of Come Dine With Me, doesn’t mean you have to start regularly inviting friends and neighbours over for dinner. Only do it if you really want to because it does require some effort.

Make sure they have plenty to eat, don’t skimp on the portion sizes and it’s also nice to offer something that they wouldn’t ordinarily have at home. However, a word of caution, yes it’s nice to be unique but people would rather have familiar and well cooked than unusual and not quite put together correctly. Also, if you’re on a strict diet or follow a particular set of nutritional guidelines that’s great but don’t inflict the same stringent rules to your guests.

Trying a recipe for the first time that day is also best to be avoided due to the possibility of it being a disaster and your stress levels going through the roof. Timing is another key factor in whether your big night is a success or not. Nobody wants to be rushed to the table, people usually want to enjoy a drink first. However, they also don’t want to wait until 10pm to finally get fed. A few small nibbles to pick on before they eat is a great idea and aim to give them about 40 minutes before sit down.

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The other important thing you’ll need is alcohol and possibly quite a lot of it depending on how many people you will be inviting. A great place to start a dinner party is giving your guests a clear destination on arrival. Have a table made up like a bar with access all around and make sure you have the essential like an ice bucket, tongs, lemon and lime etc. Find out which wines will go perfectly with your meal choice and get a load in. You can find some great online deals when buying in bulk. For an Online wine merchants in Northern Ireland, visit http://thewinecompanyni.com/.

Other pleasant touches that could really round off the evening are the addition of things like candles and flowers on the table and definitely proper napkins. For a table set-up that really makes an impression go for a white tablecloth, white dishes and one or two bold colours for the flowers or centrepieces. Don’t start the washing up or begin loading the dishwasher until after your guests have departed. Yes you can remove plates from getting in the way but return straight away. The sole purpose of your evening is to spend time with your guests and not hide in the kitchen. Moving the dirty dishes is one thing but as soon as you turn on the tap, you are abandoning your guests and dampening the mood.

These are some of the most common wiring problems in a car

Anyone who has ever seen the wiring looms of cars knows that they can be intricate, to say the least. Depending on the model, the wiring can appear as a spaghetti-like mess that requires an automotive engineering degree to comprehend.

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The electric systems in cars have come a long way. They make driving safer, easier, and in the future, will make driving increasingly automated. These advances, fantastic as they may be, have meant that vehicle electronics are more complex and prone to complications. Below are a selection of common problems and their potential solutions.

Dead battery

If you turn the key and hear nothing, no starter motor or ignition sounds, then the car battery is probably completely dead. You can buy a mains charger to try to rectify this, but in some cases, a completely flat battery will need to be replaced by a mechanic.

If your battery has run flat, it could also indicate a problem with the alternator, hence it does not charge whilst driving.

Problem with the starter motor

If your vehicle makes the usual sound, but the engine doesn’t turn over, then the issue may lie with the starter motor itself. Unfortunately, problems with the starter motor will more than likely require replacement parts and a qualified mechanic or engineer such as those at http://www.rapidfitlooms.co.uk/.


If you experience intermittent issues, occasional starter problems or lights faltering, then this could indicate an issue with the wires and connections. It is worth checking the connections, even giving them a wiggle, before going to purchase replacement parts. Automotive wiring looms can be subject to wear and tear and small issues are not necessarily expensive to repair.

Spark plugs

If your spark plugs come loose, then this will manifest itself in several ways. If the vehicle appears to lose drive during gear changes or behaves erratically when not in gear, then this could well be a problem with internal combustion. Problems of this nature are usually down to the spark plugs and cables. Again, a mechanic will quickly be able to diagnose these issues.

Of course, there are many problems that can occur with any complex electrical system. Some electrical problems are very simple to address, some are more expensive and require extensive garage work.

Fighting Fires

Have you ever wondered about what is involved in being a firefighter? As a firefighter, you will be the front line responder called upon to tackle various emergency situations where your problem solving skills and training will be put to use to resolve issues quickly and calmly. Incidents vary from tackling fires and rescuing people from burning buildings to dealing with chemical spillages and attending Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs). Read more »

Run your own show

Being self-employed and running your own business might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it is extremely rewarding and liberating for many. If you have ideas but feel trapped as an employee with no prospect of promotion or a boss that just won’t listen to you, it can be soul destroying. Setting up on your own can be daunting but achieving greater independence and a better work life balance might just be the answer to your prayers. There are so many different industries in which people can work as self-employed such as plumbers, hair stylists, tutors, decorators and locksmiths. For a Belfast Locksmith, visit http://www.belfastlocksmiths247.co.uk/. Here we take a look at some of the advantages of being self-employed:

  • Escaping the rat race, no more 9-5 and the daily commute. Being your own boss. These are the top reasons why self-employment can be awesome. You control how you work as the buck stops with you and there is nobody higher up breathing down your neck. As long as you get the job done for your client, how you get there is entirely your business.
  • Variety is the spice of life and when you’re self-employed, your job can change and evolve constantly so you’ll need to adapt, learn and update your skills regularly. For many employees, they are shown how to do their job and that’s it, no room for growth, just the same routine over and over.
  • When you’re self-employed you’re forced to problem solve and think on the spot. You have a daily need to be creative and hard-working and it’s a real buzz for some people to do something they feel passionately about and to do it independently.
  • Some folks enjoy the banter of a busy workplace or a bit of co-worker drama. For others, well, they could do without it frankly and the nice thing about being your own boss is that you don’t have to put up with those annoying colleagues that you were forced to spend way too much time with in the past.

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  • Need a sick day? Then take one. You know that when you don’t work, you don’t earn but that’s ok if you genuinely feel rough. Being self-employed makes most people work harder and you may even work when you’re not feeling great because it feels different when it’s something you want to do. There’s not so much motivation to drag yourself out of your sick bed when you’re an employee. Calling in sick is horrible too as we are made to feel guilty and need to prove ourselves with sick notes. Self-employed people can purchase health insurance and at least you get to pick your own coverage.
  • You can choose your own customers. When you were an employee you had to serve anyone and everyone because that was your job but now if you get yelled at, you chose the wrong client, so drop them and move on. You call the shots and you decide who you provide services to.

We are the Champions

There have been some incredible drivers that have competed in the World Rally Championship and since the first competition was held in 1979, we have been astounded by their speed and skill behind the wheel. Here we take a look at some of the greats from this motorsport. Read more »

A Guide to the Window Energy Performance (WEP) Scheme in Ireland

Irish consumers benefit from a Window Energy Performance (WEP) scheme which is run by the National Standards Authority of Ireland and allows them to compare the energy performance of different types of window. To qualify for the NSAI WEP Scheme, window manufacturers must apply to have their products certificated. Read more »

Chefs who don’t cook!

There are many celebrity chefs on TV and selling recipe books who have become famous by presenting cookery advice on TV programmes or starring in their own reality TV shows about failing restaurants. Some have also become famous for receiving Michelin stars in their own restaurants. Celebrity chefs can have a huge impact on what foods fly off the supermarket shelves and trends in cuisine. They also put their name to kitchen equipment and utensils. The very first celebrity chef is said to have been Bartolomeo Scappi back in 16th century Italy. He was the Pope’s personal chef and wrote one of the first modern recipe books. But how many of our famous chefs actually still work in their kitchens? Read more »

A British Institution

The Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day is as much of a tradition as mince pies and turkey. Her Majesty has now broken the record held by Queen Victoria to become Britain’s longest reigning monarch and is now still looking spritely at 90 years of age. Does anyone still watch her speech and is it a tradition worth keeping for future generations? Read more »

Four Sexual Health Apps that You Need to Know About

You can get an app for just about everything – train times, takeaways, taxis and many more. So why not think about getting one to help look after your sexual health? Whether you need condoms or you are worried about STIs there is an app for you. Here are four of the best.

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1. My Sex Doctor

First up, an app which covers most of your questions. My Sex Doctor can help you with issues ranging from what’s going on during puberty to a run down of STIs, offering relationship advice and flirting along the way.

It also includes a list of the 100 things you need to know, meaning you can discreetly check out anything you are worried about. No one needs to know you aren’t reading a text.

If you are worried you might have a sexually transmitted infection then London STI testing kits are available from https://www.checkurself.org.uk/order-a-test-kit/.

2. Sexual Health Guide

This one is based in Ireland and is a great place to check out terminology. If you are worried or embarrassed about asking your friends or a doctor it is a good way to find out about sexual health terms with a full list included. There is also information on the different types of contraception available and relationship advice.

If contraception is your main worry you can also get lots of advice from the NHS.

3. L Condoms

This is a great one if you are socially conscious or worried about what chemicals you put in your body. L Condoms make products with no harmful chemicals or things like pesticides. Unfortunately they are based in the US, so while you may not be able to buy them, this one can give you an insight into what is possible to help look after your health – sexual and otherwise.

Closer to home you can get free condoms from Greenwich Sexual Health. They also provide London STI testing kits. Don’t worry if you’re not in London, there’s likely to be a similar service near you.

4. SexPositive

A great tool if you’re worried about STIs. SexPositive lets you ask what happens when one part of your body touches part of someone else’s. It’s got a wheel you turn to check out the risks. It even mentions toes.

What natural pest control methods are there?

If you are keen to keep your home chemical free, there are many natural remedies you can use to eradicate pests. If you live with pets and small children, not only could toxic chemicals be harmful to their health, but they are likely to be ineffective in the long run, as you simply cannot keep your home completely sterile with sticky little fingers present. What you need instead is a sustainable solution to stop pests in their tracks and keep your home a healthy one.

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Ants are a menace, particularly if you have potty training toddlers in the summer! However, there are some very effective home remedies which do not involve harmful chemicals or caustic powder.

The first option is to pour kettles of boiling water into any outdoor nests you can find. It’s brutal but extremely effective. Secondly, you can put a mix of borax and corn syrup on a piece of cardboard where the ants are marching into your house. The ants will eat it and the borax will poison them. Just keep children away from the borax, as it is still toxic. Keeping poultry also reduces ant populations, as chickens and guinea fowl gobble them up like sweets. See Wellness Mama for more natural pest control tips.

Nuisance birds

Companies like http://www.vvenv.co.uk/ specialise in natural methods of controlling pigeon and gull populations. Hawking is a highly recommended and skilled method of disrupting pigeon roosting behaviours and redirecting the birds to areas away from your property.

Nuisance bird management services can include methods like roof netting. However, you can manage birds with DIY methods such as putting wires and spikes on your roof to discourage perching, and painting popular landing areas with spicy gels containing things like paprika, chilli and cayenne pepper which are thought to be repellent to birds.


Rats are everyone’s worst nightmare. If you have cats or terriers, you shouldn’t have a problem. However, if you keep chickens, make sure you house them in a concrete based shed or barn at night. This prevents rats from pushing up panels or digging in to get to the feed and your flock. If you think you have rats, try a mix of sugar, rice and Plaster of Paris. Put it in a hutch with a small rat sized hole to exclude other animals.