Larkfleet Homes on Blogger

16 Aug 2018

Bringing the summer indoors (what's been the inspiration?)

Bring summer colours into your home

Whatever the weather outside (and it's been mainly glorious until now), the summer is a great time to spruce up your home. And with lots of trends set for this season, we thought we'd take a look at what has been inspiring people.

Summer is a season of feeling good about most things in life. It's bright. It's positive. It's all about the feel-good. Summer naturally creates a lot of positivity, probably a result of being outdoors, in whatever guise. A holiday abroad is as exciting as a staycation. But as these only cover a week or two of the long summer months, bringing the sunshine into your home is a great way of feeling that summer vibe for longer.

So what were the predicted trends for this year's summer decor?

Colour confident

The amazing colour palette has to be a primary mention. Who knew it could get as exciting as basing your theme around ice cream colours. The vibrant yet muted range of blues, pinks, greens and yellows has been adopted by many, for accessories alone if not for feature walls and furniture mainstays too.

This colour palette can be toned up or down to individual taste and carries the bonus that all colours work as well on their own or combined with any other. They give the instant feeling of nostalgic days on the beach, surrounded by painted beach huts and stripy parasols. They're fun and funky and can add a fresh touch to any room.

Pattern savvy

The geometric look has continued its reign. Over the summer months its popularity has grown from simple cushions and blankets to being centre stage for art, tiles and wallpaper too. The sharp lines of this style make it a striking look and when teamed with the bold colours that make 'geometric' work, it's a sure-fire winner for standout interiors.

Even better, geometric designs have been combined with other seasonal patterns, such as pretty florals, to provide a sensational finish. The key is to restrict your overall room design to just a few staple colours so that the patterns chosen can complement each other well.

Foliage happy

Bringing the outdoors in, with luscious green plants, has brought an element of living vibrancy to many houses this summer. There's lots of little nooks and crannies (that we don't even realise we have) to perfectly display the humble houseplant. And it's a trend that's really taken off.

The rule is suggesting the more the merrier with the scope to combine flowering prettiness with leafy green wonders. Go for standout and make sure you choose some highlight pieces, they really can bring a quiet corner or retiring shelf to life. And then there's the option to fully embrace the foliage by teaming it with an element of green luxury. Accentuate the vibrancy with a charming armchair or stunning rug.

Tropical paradise

It is impossible for anybody to have missed the flood of flamingos that have arrived this summer. Not to mention the pineapples, palm trees and sunsets. There is no doubt that these have ruled the summer look for fabrics, cushions and accessories and are guaranteed to achieve that crazy summer feel.

Their stunning beauty has broad appeal and the tropical look, combined with bright blues and pinks, has been a winner for all age ranges. They work perfectly both indoors and out, creating a wonderful feeling of summer paradise for lounge room living or al fresco dining. Teamed with patterns of tropical leaves, this style works to combine summer fun with the love for all things plants.

Glittering gold

The metallic that has lasted the test of time; this summer has been all about the gold. It's sophisticated and fun all at the same time and has been shown to work well with so many colours and patterns. Its versatility, when combined with all other trends, make it more than capable of achieving that warm sunshine finish.

And accessorising with gold couldn't be easier. Bring it into any room with stunning finishing touches such as stylish round mirrors, prominent lamp bases and soft velvety cushions. Gold hasn't always been everyone's colour of choice, but it sure has made its way up the rankings this summer.

So, the options to bring the summer indoors have been endless, and exciting. With so much to go at in terms of texture, colour and patterns, there will have been some amazing re-styles over the summer. The inspiration has been over-whelming and the options to succeed endless. There's no doubt that with at least one of these trends in place, your house will be well on its way to a happy summer vibe.

15 Aug 2018

Light up your garden this summer (and draw attention to the best bits)

Enjoying your garden after dark
Long summer evenings are the perfect time to sit outside and enjoy the last of the day's sunshine. And with the majority of us juggling manic days as standard, the most time we get to spend at home during the week is in the evenings.

There's nothing quite like relaxing in your own space and an evening outside, after dusk, always has that extra special feel. The problem arises, however, when the magic of your garden disappears with the sunshine.

You've waited all day for that early evening, ice cold summery drink and suddenly everything that is beautiful about your garden is plunged into darkness. You can't see beyond the end of your nose and the time and effort you've put into planning and creating your garden is lost, until the morning.

So if you'd like to make the most of your garden long after the sun's gone down, you need to think about some creative lighting.

And there's lots of choice out there.

Whether you're looking to make a feature in one particular area, enhance your favourite plants or simply light up your garden, there's so many creative ideas for you to explore.

And it isn't a case of one size fits all. To make the most of your space, you probably need to consider combining a few different lighting styles. Some are more functional and will simply serve a purpose, others will be pretty and twinkling to create a magical feel. Both are great and can work well together.

The purpose of your functional staples may be to provide overall lighting across your garden, or at least light up the main areas, such as the patio. 

This type of lighting is likely to be fixed, and powered by your mains electricity. This is because what you need here is reliability. Come rain or shine, they need to work and do their job. This is not to say they won't look good. Functional lighting can be stylish too and chosen to work with an overall theme in your garden.

Then there's the option of portable lighting. It's very description suggests more flexibility. So once you've decided what you are going to light up and how, you can really start the planning.

Fairy lights in trees are a great way to create a expanse of delicate lighting. Depending on where your trees are positioned, this could be a magical addition to your seating area or decking space. Hanging lanterns are also very effective (and pretty) for lighting with height and work well hung on branches or along fencing.

You can complement these with small, low level, individual lights which can be placed around your garden as you choose.

Pick places that will highlight your favourite plants or mark the edge of a feature such as a pond or flower bed. And there's no limit to how many lights you can (or should) add either. As long as you keep it looking stylish and don't overcrowd an area, the overall finish can be very effective.

Lighting your garden at a low level is the perfect way to enhance the textures and colours you've created. 

Depending upon the importance of the low-level lighting in your garden, you may need to consider whether you go for battery LED or solar power lights. For guaranteed illumination, the battery won't let you down (until you run out batteries) but solar lights are obviously only as good as the amount of sunshine they receive. Not the best result at the end of an overcast but warm day.

And don't forget the trusty candle; perhaps the most beautiful lighting effect of all. Especially if you have an outdoor log burner or chiminea on the go as well.

So lighting up your garden really can be fun, and the effect you achieve can be so rewarding. Done well, it's a definite talking point and will work to enhance only the best bits of your garden. Think of this outdoor space as an extra room in your house and draw attention to the focal points. A good, well-lit garden can look stunning and will keep people enjoying the outdoors well into the evening.

15 Aug 2018

Create a garden allotment this summer (it's easier than you think)

Allotments have become something of a must-have for many urban families.

Undeterred by the typical characteristics of city (or town) life, people are keen to become green-fingered with a new enthusiasm for 'gardening'. The aim is to achieve a degree of self-sufficiency, whilst having fun as a family.  

It's something we can do together. Get the kids involved. It's a great outdoor activity.    

All common assumptions from those even considering an allotment. But for those brave enough to turn it into a reality, what are the options?    

Official allotments are generally owned by local councils and tend to carry an extra-long waiting list for those looking to take a plot. And once people have marked their territory and got the bug for growing their own produce, the chances of one becoming available are few and far between.    

So perhaps the key is to look a little closer to home. The best advice for novice growers is to avoid being over-ambitious and taking on more than you can chew (excuse the pun).    

Look no further than your own back garden. And start with some simple prep work.    

1. Your plot    

Choose the best space for your allotment by considering which part of the garden gets the most sun. Veggies generally don't favour growing in the shade so choose somewhere with at least five hours of sunshine a day. Most of the plants you'll work with will need to grow rapidly in a short space of time and sunshine is a vital ingredient in this.    

Plants also need to be protected from the wind so try some fence panels, hurdles or even a permanent hedge along the windy, western side of your allotment. And if possible, position it away from other flower beds to help prevent the slugs straying over and nibbling through your vegetables.    

2. The preparation    

Start a compost heap now as allotments generate a lot of green waste that can easily be recycled into the soil. If there's room, add a small shed alongside the proposed plot too. This is not only great for storing your tools and equipment but allows you to install guttering and a butt to collect the rainwater too. A large cost saving when you consider how much watering you'll have to do every day.    

You'll need to mark out your beds and section with gravel or paving slabs to make them easy to walk around (and across). And then it gets really technical when you have to start working on your cropping plan. The secret is in sowing your seeds little and often. Do some research and work out what you need to plant when to keep your garden producing through the winter and into spring.    

3. Your produce    

You must remember that the purpose is not to grow every edible fruit and vegetable you can think of, but more to start small and expand as you learn. Mainstays such as potatoes, carrots and parsnips are great fun to dig for but need to be in the ground for a long time, potentially taking up valuable space.    
Go for a trusty lettuce if you're keen to see results. There's lots of different varieties for a good mixed salad and they'll keep growing as you're harvesting. Other leafy greens such as kale or spinach produce a healthy, tasty result too. And then there's the classic tomato plant and faithful cucumber which chosen well, can taste amazing and produce a great home crop.     

And the list doesn't end there. Once you've taken the plunge for a home allotment, you've committed to years of living like The Good Life. The annual excitement as your favourite crops come to fruition will be worth it's weight in gold, and planning your allotment to ring the changes will bring lots of fun too. There's no time like the present to get going, or at least start digging!

08 Aug 2018

Keep your house cool, and your temperament cooler

There are many things that accompany the long summer days - extreme heat often being one of them. It doesn't often go down as one of the main highlights and, in typical British style, is more likely one of the things we grumble about.

We long for summers that actually fit the dictionary definition of "the warmest season of the year, in the northern hemisphere from June to August and in the southern hemisphere from December to February." But, when we're lucky enough to experience this - like recently - we find ourselves checking the weather forecast for any signs of a temperature drop or even a cool shower.

But let's be realistic, summer is meant to be sunny so we just need to deal with the heat. Keeping yourself cool is one thing and, in many ways, an easy thing. Wear lighter clothing, take a cool shower, enjoy the shade and keep topped up with ice cold drinks and refreshing snacks.

Keeping your house cool on the other hand, can be slightly harder.

Some houses are naturally more resistant to the heat and can regulate their own 'thermostats' more efficiently than others. This can be down to a number of factors including the orientation of the house, the style and positioning of the windows and the level of insulation that has been installed. Trees and shrubs that have been strategically placed in the garden could also provide some very welcome and natural shade for the house.

But there are still things that we can do ourselves to reduce the warm, clammy feeling of sitting indoors on a hot day.

Windows and curtains

Resist the temptation to open all the windows. There's a heatwave going on outside, opening all the windows will not result in a cool breeze floating through. Instead, keep the windows closed and the curtains drawn - for the hottest part of the day at least - and then, when the temperature drops, get everything open again. And go for white curtains or blinds where possible, they'll help to reflect the daytime heat.

Lights and gadgets

All appliances generate their own heat. The very act of plugging them in generates heat. If you're not watching the TV or using your laptop, keep it switched off and unplugged. It's also a good idea to manage with natural lighting for as long as possible each day. As small as they may appear, lightbulbs can be toasty little things. As for the tumble dryer, pretend you don't have one and hang everything out to dry (it will save you a fortune as well as keep you cooler).

Cooking and dining

Warm sunny days are not the time for a cheeky roast dinner. Take the opportunity to cook outside on the barbecue as much as possible and go for the option of tasty salads rather than steamed veg. Eating al fresco is also a great idea; especially early evening when everything is cooler and calmer. Nothing creates as much heat as the buzz of a kitchen, so whilst avoiding the cooker, give the dishwasher a wide berth too; the steam alone is not conducive to a cooler house.

While you're avoiding the generation of extra heat within the home, or filling the place with unnecessary steam, there's still the chance you'll feel too hot. Fear not. A neat little trick is to place a bowl of icy cold water in front of a fan. Take your seat, turn the fan on, wait for the ice to evaporate and a blow a refreshingly cool breeze your way. There are no rules about how long you're allowed to sit there.

Keeping your house cool is a sure-fire way to keep the people in it cool and happy too. Let's face it,  on hot sunny days this is almost essential to surviving the summer! Give these handy little hints a try.

07 Aug 2018

Make this weekend a walking one

Walking is just one of the many ways to spend some time in the great outdoors; especially if there are routes straight from your doorstep. What better past-time than ambling your local area, taking in the sights and stopping at quaint pubs along the way for a refreshing something.

Walking is instantly relaxing and can be enjoyed on your own, in the happiness of your own company, with a group of friends or a team of like-minded walkers. It's a great way to socialise and meet new people, not least because it gives you plenty to discuss; everything before your very eyes.

The chances are that you'll learn so much more about your local area - and the beauty of its paths, tracks and fields - in one walk than you will driving around it for years. It's also a hobby with some noticeable health benefits, including:

  • Helping you to sleep better
  • Improving your mood
  • Boosting your vitamin D levels
  • Keeping your heart healthy
More often than not you'll be able to find some good (and interesting) walks where you live without the need for too much effort. All you need is a good path and you're away. If you can throw in some countryside, woodland areas, streams - or even a beach - then you've got lots to go at. But at the very least, a path will more than suffice.

Take a look at Rutland for example. A beautifully flat county (the UK's smallest in fact) with so much personality to explore on foot; it's a ramblers dream. Packed full of delightful little villages, with country pubs in abundance, it's easy to make a day out of discovering this little gem. Even if you're a trusty Rutland resident, don't be surprised at how much it will still hold for you to learn and see. 

From the country to the coast, Somerset has to be a winner for its beaches. With some stunning yet traditional coastlines on offer, walking is a great way to make your way around this beautiful seaside destination. Take in the scenery of some breath-taking cliffs, coves and harbours with these 7 scenic coastal walks; a sure-fire way to enjoy a Sunday stroll whether you're a local rambler or visiting tourist.

All walking, however, does require some prep and pre-planning. Decent walking shoes are a must, as is some water and a little stash of snacks. Always have an idea of the route you're planning to follow, but feel free to veer off for points of interest and unexpected sights. And don't forget the suncream, sun hat and jungle formula (essential for exploring rivers and forests).  

For some great woodland walks near you, check out these suggestions from the Woodland Trust.

07 Aug 2018

Up-size, down-size, same-size? The housing excitement of a retiree.

Planning for your retirement is always an exciting time (once you’ve accepted you’re actually at retiring age). There are so many things to think about and... well... plan.  

Retirement today is very different to retirement of yesteryear. It no longer assumes a nursing home, walking frame and cabbage soup. Rather it is more about making the most of the years ahead; working part-time, holidays abroad, staycations, meeting friends, new dates… all with a good G&T in-hand.  

In the background, creating an excitement of its own, is the all-important decision about where and how to live.  

The obvious choice for so many couples and individuals is to move house and down-size. The golden years are upon you and the idea of freeing up some cash and cutting back on your expenses is an appealing one - not to mention that a smaller home is inevitably more manageable.

Cue a retirement village.  

It's not everyone’s cup of tea, but certainly worth a thought if any of the above fits your retirement criteria.  

If you really embrace it as a lifestyle choice, your village can become more than just a place to live. It’s a vibrant community of like-minded people who enjoy the same values from retirement-busy lifestyles.  

These are the exact principles we’ve used when developing, The Croft. Set in the beautiful and vibrant village of Baston, South Lincolnshire, it’s our first development designed exclusively for the over-55s. And, with the first-phase complete and fully-sold, we are officially opening phase two with great delight on Friday 10 August 2018.  

Consisting of mainly of one, two and three-bedroom bungalows, the architecture is such that it represents the heritage and tradition of more classically designed homes. Each property is located around attractive walkways and gardens to create a pleasant and welcoming community environment.  

Even better, all the homes have been designed with minimal ongoing maintenance in mind. Homeowners can benefit from the independence and security of property ownership without the day-to-day worries of property upkeep.  

The Croft's new show home will be open to the public from 2:30pm on Friday 10 August. We would love to see you there. Pop by and talk to us in more detail about how this retirement living may be for you. It's a lifestyle choice.

03 Aug 2018

Weekends are made for the sunshine!

There’s nothing more appealing than planning a fun, action-packed (or lazy and relaxing) weekend in the sunshine. Two whole days each week to get out and enjoy the British sunshine whilst exploring where you live. This year, we have had the added benefit of the sun.  

With our obsession with the weather, it is standard to trawl all the weather forecasts until you find one that promises the weather you’re looking for. Once you've found the date, get an idea of the type of thing you’d like to do. Research local options and investigate further afield too. Then gather a group of friends and make a whole day (or weekend) of it.  

For a sunny day, all-action often springs to mind and something like cycling is perfect for a range of ages and abilities; even better if you can find somewhere to hire the bikes and make it a truly hassle free activity. If you plan the timings well, you can set off early, miss the midday sunshine and get back in time for a delicious picnic lunch under a shaded tree.  

Close to Rutland Water is a local gem for this type of weekend entertainment. It is just on the outskirts of Oakham, close to our new Farriers Reach development, and is a beautiful setting with more outdoor paths than you need, lots of cafés for refreshments, great picnic areas and, best of all, it's absolutely free. They even have a bike hire centre where you can get kitted up with everything you need for a day on the saddle.  

For something slightly more relaxing, there’s always the option to check out memberships like the National Trust. There's an initial investment, but it means you have lots of different places to go to, each offering their own definition of fun.

Close to our Collingham site, there is the amazing Belton House which is a wonderful day out for any family. There’s a huge outdoor play area, lots of grounds to explore, masses of space to picnic and a café for the ice-cold refreshments (complete with indoor play area).  

If it’s local culture you’re looking for, then try investigating stately homes or places of historical interest. Somerset is home to The Bishop's Palace which is steeped in local history and full of things to do and explore. From the palace and gardens to pond-dipping and giant garden games, you’ll be spoilt for choice – whilst learning lots at the same time.

But sometimes all this is too much and it’s simply a long lunch, watching the world go by, that ticks the box for a sunny weekend. If this is the case, then exploring local options is always a winner. Research the area well and find somewhere with locally-sourced food. Knowing it originated on your door step instantly makes it taste better; especially if you’re by the seaside. Eating outside is a must when it’s warm of course!  

The beauty of summer weekend activities like these is that they are as good for people on holiday as they are for those living in the area. You can visit them as a one-off or you can return time and time again if it becomes a firm favourite. Either way, try as many different things as you can and be sure to tell people about the best finds - you can’t beat a recommendation for a good day out.

02 Aug 2018

Is there a summer buying season?

It's safe to say that deciding to buy or sell a house is backed by one of two mindsets; an impulsive desire to change your life or a well-thought through strategic next step.

There's nothing to say which approach is the right one, or indeed the most lucrative, but each do require some sort of plan beyond the initial big decision.

So, if moving house has come from a moment of spontaneity, rational thinking will need to kick in at some point to make sure you are getting the best deal. Key considerations should include mortgage interest rates, the type of house you're looking for, where you'd like to live and how the housing market is currently stacking up for buyers.

The ultimate question is: 'Is now really a good time to move?'

With summer (more than one consecutive day of sunshine) in full swing, we should also consider moving house in the context of the seasons. And although this comes with much debate, there is a lot to be said for buying in the summer.

Everything looks better in the summer. The days are longer, the evenings are brighter, the gardens are greener and houses generally look happier (although there is something appealing about the coziness of a log fire in the winter). Summer brings with it a sense of get up and go. People are inspired and enthusiastic - give them a project and it is generally achieved.

After the mayhem of the spring house buying season, and before the autumn flurry, summer tends to be a little quieter. Lots of people favour holidays over houses meaning your choice of properties could be limited. The good news is that new developments don't tend to be affected by the holiday season either and you could find the perfect plot to put your own mark on and make your home.

It's can also a good season to bag yourself a property that's perhaps been on the market for a while. Sellers that haven't sold in the spring may not want to hold out until the autumn, and therefore a strong offer (that may not be the highest) could seal the deal. Play into the hands of the seller and present your benefits. Offer them a cash deal if it's an option. Equally as appealing is a quick turnaround as a result of a short chain. People have put their house on the market to sell, and there's nothing more disheartening than it just sitting there.

Summer may be the season that you just make the decision to buy a new house. If this is the case you have the time to put the wheels in motion before the October rush hits. Make the most of the good weather to explore the areas you'd like to live, and get a feel for the type of houses that are available; they'll almost certainly be looking their best right now. And, if you're able to move quickly, there's the incentive to be in and settled for Christmas (without sounding too cliché).

Check out our locations, developments and homes to see if there's one for you.

01 Aug 2018

Baston in the Blitz. It’s the real deal.

This hugely popular event is returning for another year to the beautiful and vibrant village of Baston.  

Held over the weekend of the 4th and 5th August, Baston in the Blitz is a 2-day WW2 and military extravaganza and this year’s event is set to be the biggest and best yet.  

Steeped in history and with an atmosphere to match, it’s the perfect trip out for individuals and families alike. The line-up includes thrilling battle re-enactments, firepower demonstrations, The Blitz Dancers and a Punch & Judy show, not to mention a wide variety of delicious food, drink and refreshments.  

And with over 60 trade stalls, 70 display groups and more than 500 WW2 re-enactors, it’s a weekend not to be missed. Be transported back to the 1940s and celebrate the music, style and spirit of Britain’s finest hour. We are!  

With Baston being home to our over-55s development, The Croftwe’re fully embracing true community spirit with a stall at this huge event. It’s a great opportunity to be a part of something special locally, perfectly showcasing the essence of life in Baston; a friendly and tranquil village with a very welcoming feel.  

Why not pop along and see us, we’d love to tell you more about these exclusive communities we’re creating. The Croft developments are based on independent living combined with the health and social benefits of being part of a wider community.    

So, while you’re enjoying the life and times of the 1940s, take a quick trip over to our stall or take a visit to The Croft at Baston where our teams will be delighted to meet you. We’ve got lots of goodies to give away and a prize draw (complete with a Pimm’s Hamper star prize) for you to take part in.  

Until 18 August, you can also receive free flooring on any plot purchase at The Croft. It’s more than just a place to live, it’s a lifestyle choice too.  

Call our sales office today on 07917 761020 or visit The Croft at Baston for more information.  

In the meantime, enjoy the Blitz!

26 Jul 2018

Host your own kids' holiday club

Schools out! The six-week summer holidays are loved by children, but almost certainly feared by most parents.

In the grand scheme of things, six weeks is not a long time, but when you're faced with making sure every minute is filled with fun and frivolities, it can be a little daunting (if not a little stressful).

But, with some forward planning and creative thinking, you can nail it from the comfort of your own garden. All you need is some basic kit, good company and an aperitif planned for the early evening.

A planner is almost essential and, in today's crazy world, who doesn't love a good spreadsheet detailing who's where and when. Once you've populated it with the necessary childcare and can see the days that you've actually got to fill, the fun begins.

Here's just a few ideas to get the summer started:

1) A teddy bear's picnic
    This is a surefire winner for children and parents alike. Fill your garden with picnic rugs, outdoor toys, delicious food and a few sweet treats (bear-shaped shortbreads are just perfect). Play party games like pass the parcel and musical statues. You could even create a magical treasure hunt with prizes; every child loves a prize. And don't forget to ask the children to bring their favourite teddy bear for some sort of show-and-tell. As long as the Pimm's is flowing, parents will be happy.

    2) Crafty kids

    Set up lots of stations outside and prepare yourself for messy play. If you're going to brave a crafty afternoon, don't hold back, you might as well get really messy. Painting, Crazy Sand, Play Doh, cutting and sticking, glitter and even face painting should be on the menu. Have a washing line ready to hang the artistic creations to dry and make the clearing up fun with some well-intended bribery; a tidying-up race is always well-received.

    3) Summer splashing

    Have a bit of a pool party - rest assured the paddling pool will suffice; particularly where your water meter is concerned. These soaring temperatures are an invitation for children to unveil this season's swimwear and to spend hours getting wet, without a care in the world. Throw in a slippery slide, some water pistols and the obligatory water fight and it will be an afternoon well spent. Completed perfectly with some ice-cold summer punch and retro ice creams (Choc Ices all the way).

    4) The big summer camp out

    There isn't much that's more exciting than camping out in your own back garden; the real beauty being the easy access to your own shower and toilet! Get the children involved in pitching the tent and setting up camp with roll mats, camping chairs and cooking equipment. Have a BBQ feast for dinner and, if you're brave enough, go for toasting marshmallows on an open fire and making everyone's favourite s'mores for dessert

    Make this summer all about #makingmemories and, with these four simple ideas, you're well on your way. They all involve lots of activity and great socialising. Best of all, it's a bit of cost-effective fun in your own back garden. What could be better?

    25 Jul 2018

    'Tis the season for DIY

    The sunshine has to be one of the most anticipated elements of summer. It gets us outdoors, brings imagination to life and inspires us to get motivated.

    In fact, it seems to turn people into raging DIY fanatics. All of those jobs that have sat dormant during the winter months suddenly carry great appeal. Tool boxes are dusted off, proudly carried by men dressed for the occasion (cue shorts and obligatory muscle vest).

    The prospect of 'outdoor living' makes the garden an exciting challenge. But, is it a case of a quick tidy up or are we talking a whole garden redesign?

    Here are a few places to start:

    1) Quick wins

    Simply getting the paint out can achieve a certain wow factor on its own. And with some amazing shades of grey and blue hitting the airwaves, a garden fence or decking area can be completely transformed in no time. Similarly, garden furniture can benefit when there's a revamp afoot. A whole new look can be achieved with a lick of paint and be finished to perfection with some simple accessories; wind-lights, pretty candles, co-ordinating cushions and beautiful napkins to name just a few.

    2) Get green fingered 

    Sprucing up the garden also plays into the hands of those wanting to achieve a refreshed look. It could be a great time to create that longed-for vegetable patch or even just a small herb garden. The sense of achievement when you actually deliver home produce to the table is well worth it. But, if this is a step too far, then you can simply add some new plants, create sections with over-sized mediterranean-style pots or add a touch of elegance with herb-inspired hanging baskets.

    3) Add more space 

    For the more enthusiastic among us, there's always the option to add a summer house to the landscape. With an abundance of choice across style, size and shape, there's bound to be one for your garden. What better way to spend a summer evening than sitting on your very own summer house verandah, sipping an ice cold something?

    4) Light it up

    Then there's the lighting - another great addition to any outdoor space that can create the most magical backdrop for alfresco dining. With your DIY hat on, you can go crazy with the colours, the twinkling and the location to make sure that you create a range of stunning effects to highlight the best bits of your new found garden.

    5) Don't forget maintenance 

    When you've finished having fun and being creative, you can add clearing the gutters, washing the windows, mowing the lawn and jet washing the patio to your summer DIY radar. It's all in the name of owning and maintaining your own home after all.

    The good news is that by time the autumn is upon us, those indoor DIY jobs will still be waiting. So don't quash the momentum and pack up the tool kit. Instead, enjoy the indoors safe in the knowledge that your garden looks fantastic.

    24 Jul 2018

    Do you know your muddling from your shaking?

    We hit the month of June and instantly start to look forward to long summer days, where you can sit outside for hours just watching the world go by. The patio sets have had their annual clean, the parasol is set to provide the shade and the children are dancing and skipping through the magical waterfall you've created with the sprinkler.

    Sounds perfect, right?

    Add in the chance to sip something cool and refreshing and you have that instant feeling of being on holiday. It's like creating your own little haven, right there in your garden.

    It's a summer cocktail culture; the chance to mix up some amazing concoctions that always taste their best outside - in the sunshine. Whether it's a backyard BBQ or a garden picnic, the chance to create something refreshing, seasonal and delicious should not be missed.

    And don't hold back. Let your imagination go crazy. Try different flavours, add new mixers, throw in the herbs and decorate with a fresh garnish. Cocktails are supposed to tempt the taste buds if nothing else.

    Grab a glass and treat yourself to a summer cocktail, packed with ice and brimming with big summer flavours.

    So, where to start?

    Make the most of seasonal fruits like strawberries, blueberries, watermelon and peaches. Citrus fruits can provide a refreshing twist, guaranteed to wake up those taste buds. Pair with some fragrant herbs for that extra zing; strawberry and basil or watermelon and mint are just a couple of tempters.

    For the alcohol element, go with the lighter options such as gin, rum, Aperol or Pimms. And really go for it with the mixers. There's an abundance of amazingly refreshing tonics, sparkling delights and fresh juices out there. Pairing them with the right spirits and accompanying herbs can be great fun. Every cocktail is like a delightful experiment, and you'll soon get to know which combinations work best.

    Presentation is key too. Invest in some funky glassware. Mason jars are right on trend and guaranteed to wow your guests. And then there's the garnish. Adorn the glass with fresh fruit, a herb sprig, a colourful straw and maybe a pretty ribbon to finish.

    There's so much more to jumping on the cocktail bandwagon than meets the eye, but it's great fun and can be enjoyed all summer. Just remember a wining cocktail is an art and the two things you need to master for the best home cocktails are muddling and shaking; we'll leave it with you!

    19 Jul 2018

    Your last chance to win £1,000!
    Time is nearly up on our customer survey. So, hurry if you want to be in with a chance of netting yourself and your family £1,000.

    We launched a survey to get the thoughts and experiences of house buyers. You’ve got until 31 July to take part.

    Go to to let us have your views.

    Complete our survey and we will enter you into our prize draw for a chance to win £500. Agree to a follow up interview and you will be entered in a second draw to win a further £500.

    The Larkfleet Homes team is always working to develop new ways to provide the best possible products and services for our customers. We want to know what house buyers really think of the housing market and what they want from housebuilders like us.

    To help us, we teamed up with First Time Buyer Magazine, What House and What Mortgage to develop and deliver this comprehensive survey to find out what you, our customer, is really looking for in a new home.

    The survey covers everything from the type of property people are looking to buy or have bought (whether it’s for their own use or an investment) through to topics such as location, size and energy efficiency.

    It takes less than ten minutes to complete at The survey is being managed by independent marketing company OlsenMetrix Marketing and all the data collected will be anonymous.

    17 Jul 2018

    What to do if you find hedgehogs in the garden

    Glancing out of the kitchen window this morning we spotted a hedgehog getting busy around the lawn. It was broad daylight. Hedgehogs are nocturnal. They are active at night. They may come out at dawn and dusk when the summer nights are short to forage.

    If you see one during the day, it’s either unwell, a pregnant hedgehog gathering nesting materials or a recent mum taking a break from the nest to find food and water. You can tell the difference. If it’s unwell and in distress the hedgehog will be slow moving, lethargic or appear to be sun bathing.

    In these cases, you should seek expert advice. Pick up the hedgehog carefully, protecting your hands with gardening gloves. Place it carefully in a high-sided box with a towel, fleece or blanket in the bottom for it hide under. Offer meat-based (not fish) cat or dog food and water. Visit the British Hedgehog Preservation Society website for more information on what to do. There is a handy FAQ section here.

    If it’s preparing a nest it will be moving around quickly and with a sense of purpose. You don’t need to do anything in this case. In the summer, food should be plentiful. In dry weather leave out water in a low dish and keep it topped up. Leave Mrs Tiggy Winkle to get on with her business and don’t disturb her.

    Don’t try and move it on, especially in the breeding season.

    Hedgehogs are protected, in England, Scotland and Wales, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Schedule 6 and in Northern Ireland under the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985, Schedules 6&7. What this means is they are: “protected from being killed or taken by certain methods under Section 11(1) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The methods listed are: self-locking snares, bows, crossbows, explosives (other than ammunition for a firearm), or live decoys. The species listed are also protected from the following activities: trap, snare or net, electrical device for killing or stunning, poisonous, poisoned or stupefying substances or any other gas or smoke, automatic or semi-automatic weapon, device for illuminating a target or sighting device for night shooting, artificial light, mirror or other dazzling device, sound recording, and mechanically propelled vehicle in immediate pursuit.”

    There are loads of things you can do to make your garden hedgehog friendly. There are plenty of ideas here.
    • If your garden is fenced, make a hole in the fence at ground level about the size of a CD case for them to get in and out.
    • Avoid slug pellets because these are poisonous to hedgehogs.
    • Don’t be too tidy. Leave a messy corner of leaves and garden rubbish piled up for them to hide in.
    • Never leave out bread and milk for hedgehogs – this can make them very ill.

    16 Jul 2018

    Summer 1998 – what was hot and what was not

    Larkfleet 20th Anniversary
    It’s our 20th anniversary and we’re  planning some celebrations later in the year. We thought we would get the ball rolling with a look at what was happening in summer of ’98 – what was hot and what left us cold.

    The average house price was round £112,000, ASBOS became a thing in 1998 and a new £2 coin came into circulation.

    In sport, Pete Sampras won Wimbledon and France had just won the FIFA Wold Cup – beating Brazil 3-0. Sound familiar?

    Three Lions ’98 had a three-week stint in the charts – at least until England came home. This summer has had a familiar ring about it. The Spice Girls, Boyzone and All Saints were all hot while the album chart was dominated by the Corrs and their album Talk on Corners.

    Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg’s movie about the D-Day landings, was taking cinema audiences by storm, there was Something About Mary and Marvel’s The Avengers assembled on the big screen for the first time.

    Unfortunately, the summer weather in 1998 was not quite as nice as it has been so far this year. Summer 1998 was one of the coldest, dullest summers on record for the UK. June and July were also noted as the second wettest combination of months since records began in 1869!

    Due to the weather more of us than usual jetted off in search of the sun. Over 50 million visits abroad were made in 1998. The vast bulk of these trips were package holiday flights to Spain, Turkey and Greece.

    It seems that this year is a little different and more of us than ever before are staying at home and making the most of what the UK has to offer.

    16 Jul 2018

    Festival packing hacks

    packing for a festival
    Are you off to a music festival this summer? There’s more to getting your packing right than you might think. It’s not just about tents, wellies and alcopops.

    Here are some of our top hacks for getting your festival packing right.

    First off, make sure you have your ticket – you’re not getting on to the festival site without one!

    Also, take photo ID, money and cards. Put these in a money belt you can wear under your clothes to keep them secure.

    Make sure you have toiletries, suntan lotion and any medicines you normally need. And don’t forget the toilet paper. And talking of toilets, take some menthol rub to wipe under your nose to mask the smell of the loos, otherwise you could be holding on all weekend.

    Remember to take a small first aid kit with things like painkillers and meds for dodgy stomachs. Festival food and booze could wreak havoc on your weekend.

    For camping you will need a tent, roll mat and sleeping bag. Take a warm top because it can get cold at night – even in the summer. Avoid pitching your tent at the bottom of a hill. You will get flooded out if it rains and end up in a muddy swamp.

    Take something unique along to decorate your pitch making your tent instantly recognisable in a sea of tents.

    To help with a good night’s sleep take ear plugs and blindfold to block out the 24-hour partying.

    If  bad weather is forecast, take enough changes of clothes in case you get wet. And take a lightweight waterproof jacket or coat.

    Have a head torch to help you find your way round at night and take duct tape – use it for ripped tents or split wellies.

    Take some camp food, cereal bars and snacks. Freeze your milk, fruit juices and water as it will stay fresher for longer in your cool box.

    14 Jul 2018

    Give your crib the holiday vibe

    Holiday inspired interior design
    You know that feeling when you’re on your holidays and you see something that catches your eye and you think it will go really well in the living room?

    If you have recently been abroad and picked up a memento at a flea market you’re probably wondering what your going to do with it now you have got it home. You don’t want to get rid of it because it reminds you of what a great time you had.

    To help you out we have put together some design hints to bring the holiday vibe flooding back into your home.

    Give your home the Spanish treatment. Say ‘si senor’ to tiles ,decorative ceramics, light colours on walls and dark, exposed wood. Other very ‘Spanishy’ features include decorative wrought iron work, terracotta and stone floors.

    Holidays in the eastern Mediterranean are ever-popular and resorts in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey dominate. Thinking about bringing  the sunny Greek or Turkish style into your home? Make it blue. Play around with shapes and buy fabrics and accessories with lots of geometric patterns. Decorate lots of blue and white and use tiles and brightly coloured ceramics.

    If Italy is your thing then just go with great slinky design - think Milan fashion, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Ducati and you won’t go far wrong.

    Ethnic design is popular. If you’ve been to places like Morocco and you want to evoke the sights and sounds of the casbah then decorate using bright colours, with contrasting textures and shapes. Use low level seating, geometric rugs, pouffes and cushions.

    For more inspiration take a look at Houzz, Instagram and Pinterest.

    13 Jul 2018

    How to keep your beach body in trim this summer

    holiday fitness
    You know that keeping in shape is a year-round job. But in the summer, we often find ourselves under more pressure to buff up the abs and lose the bingo wings than normal. Most of us are looking forward to sunning our beach-ready bods by the sea.

    You’ve got yourself into shape, but how do you keep that way? Worried that inactivity will help you pile on the pounds? Well, we’re here to help with our top tips for keeping summer fit.

    Little and often – use your body weight to maintain muscle mass and definition. Sit ups, crunches, press ups and planks should all form part of a regular routine that you can do anywhere.

    More cardio – when you’re out and about walk faster than you normally do and take deeper breaths.

    Burpees – these can be done anywhere and will really work your whole body, giving you a cardio workout and improving your core strength at the same time.

    Stay hydrated – in warmer weather it is easy to become dehydrated. This has a really negative impact on our health. Carry a reusable water bottle with you and remember to take regular sips of water. If you’re feeling thirsty you’re already dehydrated.

    Swim! – while you’re away take advantage of the pool to get some exercise. And you will have nature’s biggest pool, the sea, right on your doorstep.

    Eat healthily – while you’re on holiday it’s easy to eat well. Fresh veg and fish is everywhere.

    Stay active – why not rent a bike or go for long walks. Not only will you be able to get a real feel for your destination, you’ll be getting fit too!

    Hope you have a great holiday.

    07 Jul 2018

    Tempting fetes

    Larkfleet Homes Baston in the Blitz
    Nothing says summer in England more than a traditional village fete. A lot of people make fun of them, but we think that’s unfair. There’s plenty to enjoy at a good fete, not least beer, Pimm’s or bubbles in the refreshment tent.

    You’ll almost always find a good cream tea. And then there are the thousands of ingenious ways which local charities and community groups devise to part you from your hard-earned cash. Human fruit machine anyone?

    A local fete is a great way to get outside in the sun, meet people in your local community, catch up on the local gossip and have a few drinks.

    Keep an out for your local parish magazine, that’s bound to have information in it about events that are happening near you.

    When you’re online, check out Google, social media and Facebook for local events.

    Fetes and community events aren’t always traditional though.

    If you are in or around Baston in August check out the Baston in the Blitz event.

    Baston in the Blitz, held on the weekend of 4th and 5th August, is a WWII extravaganza. There will be more than 60 trade stalls, some 70 display groups and over 500 WWII re-enactors putting on a 1940’s themed displays over the weekend.

    As well as a thrilling battle re-enactment, there will be plenty of food and dink on offer and there are also music shows, presentations, a Punch & Judy show, a Dambusters presentation and George Formby experience among other attractions.

    Visit for full details.

    03 Jul 2018

    Advice for a great holiday

    Larkfleet Homes holiday checklist
    Don’t let your holiday turn into a wet weekend. Get you and your family organised so that you don’t have to worry about anything when you get to your hotel or villa – just sit back and relax by the pool for two weeks.

    To help you get into the holiday swing we have put together this handy checklist of things to do to help you prepare and have the time of your life – after all, you’ve earned it.

    Before you go remember to –
    • Dig out your passport in plenty of time. Give yourself time to renew it.
    • Make sure you’ve got all the travel documents you will need such as visas. Also, check that you have a valid driving licence.
    • Renew your travel insurance and make sure you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you’re going to a destination on the continent.
    • Check your baggage allowances – you don’t want to be unpacking your smalls in the check-in area because your bag is too heavy.
    • Secure your home – nothing will bring you back down to Earth more quickly after a holiday than to find that your homes has been burgled. Have a member of your family, friend or trusted neighbour keep an eye on your house.
    • Order your travel money in plenty of time. And make sure you tell your bank that you are going away to avoid the embarrassment of having card transactions declined because it thinks your card has been nicked due to unusual activity.
    • Arrange pet care and make sure you choose a reputable kennel or cattery for your pooch or moggy.
    • Pre-book any car hire and/or airport car parking.
    • Finally, select some great holiday reading – check out our recent blog post for some solid gold recommendations.
    Most of the holiday tour operators have handy checklists on their websites – Thomas Cook and Tui are both good.

    Happy travels from the whole Larkfleet Homes team.