Preparing your garden for Spring

February seems to have flown by after a long and dreary January. We are starting to see the light at the end of the bleak Winter tunnel with lighter nights and daffodils emerging, SPRING is just around the corner! We have put together some tips to preparing your garden ready for spring and to fall in love with the greenery all over again. Install water butts Install water butts in your garden now to collect seasonal rainfall. Not only does this help the environment but rain water is good for watering ericaceous plants such as Rhododendrons, Camellias and Blueberries. Clean your greenhouse Wash your greenhouse before spring arrives! Before long your greenhouse will be home to trays of seedlings and cuttings. Sweep out any plant debris on the floor and benches and disinfect with a hot solution of garden disinfectant such as Jeyes Fluid. Make sure you disinfect the inside of the glass too.   Fix your fences and gates  Although it’s cold outside this is the ideal time of year to get those niggly little jobs out of the way! Any broken structures or tools are best fixed now so you have more time to spend in the garden during spring and summer. Treat your wooden garden structures with a wood preservative during dry periods. Clearing up your flower beds and boarders Have a general tidy up and remove leaves and other debris from your flower borders, lawns and ponds. You can cut back the old dead growth of deciduous grasses and herbaceous perennials now, although if you’d like to be wildlife friendly then its best to leave the tidy up... read more

Festive Recipes

‘Tis the season to spend time with your friends a family, to eat and get merry. We have put together a list of festive recipes to help you get into the holiday spirit. Snowflake biscuits Ingredients 200g unsalted butter, softened 200g golden caster sugar 1 large egg ½ tsp vanilla extract 400g plain flour, plus extra 500g pack ready-to-roll fondant icing honey, for sticking 100g royal icing sugar silver balls and white sprinkles, to decorate Method Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Put the butter in a bowl and beat it with electric beaters until soft and creamy. Beat in the sugar, then the egg and vanilla, and finally the flour to make a dough. If the dough feels sticky, add a little flour and knead it in. Chill for 20 mins in the fridge. Roll the dough to about the thickness of a £1 coin on a lightly floured surface. Cut out snowflake shapes using a biscuit cutter, then re-roll the off-cuts and repeat. Bake for 8-10 mins or until the edges are just beginning to brown. Leave to cool for 5 mins before trying to move them. Cool completely. Roll out the fondant icing to the thickness of a 50p piece. Use the same cutter to stamp out the icing. If you have smaller cutter you can stamp out holes in the middles of some of them. Brush each biscuit with a tiny amount of honey and press an icing snowflake on top. Mix the icing sugar with enough water to make a pipeable icing, and spoon it into a piping... read more

Inside Homes Market Review

As the year draws to an end, we are able to reflect on housing market over the past 12 months and look at what the market is likely to do in the next 12 months. Despite some scepticism that the market may be flat or even go negative in 2017, we actually had a 1.2% increase. In a year where we had shock election results and the gravity of Brexit started to take hold, the housing market demonstrated its resilience to pressure. Going into the New Year, we continue to see an influx of sold boards as such there is a shortage of suitable properties for sale in some sectors and locations this will result in upwards price pressure in new seller asking prices in those areas. Most forecasts for 2018 see another year of similar growth, with the slowest region being London, negatively skewing wider national picture. In South Warwickshire, house prices are expected to be better than those in the... read more

Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night  Remember, remember!  The fifth of November, The Gunpowder treason and plot; The British tradition dating back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, which brings fireworks and delight to most but also fills others with dread especially our four legged friends, we have put together some fun facts and top tips for everyone to enjoy Guy Fawkes night! Did you know? Some fireworks can travel up to speeds of 150 mph. Bonfire night was originally called bone fire night. Until 1959  it was illegal not to celebrate bonfire night in the UK. If three sparklers are burnt together, they will reach the same heat at a blowtorch used for joining metal. Fireworks were invented by accident. In the 10th century, a Chinese cook accidentally mixed three common cooking ingredients (sulphur, charcoal and a salt substitute) and set it alight, which resulted in colourful flames. The first recorded fireworks display in England was at the wedding of King Henry VII in 1486. Fireworks first reached Europe in the 14th century. Initially, they were produced by the Italians and the first recorded display took place in Florence. Keeping the animals safe. Fireworks night isn’t often a fun time for our four legged friends and unfortunately it doesn’t always last for one night, we have put together some tips to keep them happy and safe. If you have a bonfire in your garden check for any cats, hedgehogs or other animals before lighting. Try to keep all cats indoors from early evening and over night from the weekend before until a few days after the event. Keep all animals locked safely indoors on the night its... read more

Inside Market Review

Inside Homes Market Review Demand for the right housing at the right price remains strong, with the number of sales agreed being 4.8% higher than in the same quarter last year. However, completion for buyers interest is getting stronger. The average price of new properties coming to market is slightly down, showing sellers are keen to attract potential buyers. In addition mortgage lending is still on the rise, facilitating growth in the market. If you are selling, or thinking of selling before Christmas, our advice is to make sure your property stands out. There are lots of buyers out there and they are still being supported by the lending market. High quality staging and marketing makes all the difference in attracting the right buyers in a highly competitive market.... read more

Halloween

The summer has flown by again! Its now time to think get ready for Halloween. Whether you are just taking the children Trick or Treating or you are preparing to be the best dressed house in the street you can find our Halloween inspired recipes in this months blog. Chocolate Marshmallow Halloween Cake Ingredients 250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing 250g/9oz caster sugar 4 free-range eggs, lightly beaten 1 tsp vanilla extract ½ tsp black gel food colour (optional) 50g/2oz cocoa powder 200g/7oz self-raising flour 200g/7oz dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces 200ml/7fl oz double cream 10 white marshmallows edible candy eyes Method Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. To make the cake, grease and line a 20x30cm/8x12in rectangular cake tin with baking paper. Beat together the butter and sugar with a hand-held mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, a little at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla extract and the black gel food colouring, if using, with the last of the egg. Sift together the cocoa powder and flour into a bowl. Fold the flour into the butter mixture until fully combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Bake for 30 minutes, or until springy to the touch (a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean). Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. To make the chocolate ganache icing, put the cream into a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Pour into a heatproof bowl. Add... read more

Get inspired

The return of The Great British Bake Off It’s that time of year again when everyone is thinking about cakes! Whether you watch the Great British Bake Off or not, you will struggle to avoid hearing about all of the recipes, so if you can’t beat them join them! Why not have your own Bake Off at home or in the office. Chocolate and Avocado Cake Ingredients For the cake a little dairy-free sunflower spread, for greasing 1 large, ripe avocado 300g light muscovado sugar 350g gluten-free plain flour 50g good quality cocoa powder 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder 400ml unsweetened soya milk 150ml vegetable oil 2 tsp vanilla extract For the frosting 85g ripe avocado  85g dairy-free sunflower spread 200g dairy-free chocolate, 70% cocoa, broken into chunks 25g cocoa powder 125ml unsweetened soya milk 200g icing sugar, sifted 1 tsp vanilla extract gluten-free and vegan sprinkles, to decorate Method Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease 2 x 20cm sandwich tins, then line the bases with baking parchment. Put the avocado and the sugar in a food processor and whizz until smooth. Add the rest of the cake ingredients to the bowl with 1/2 tsp fine salt and process again to a velvety, liquid batter. Divide between the tins and bake for 25 mins or until fully risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 5 mins, then turn the cakes onto a rack to cool completely. While you wait, start preparing the frosting. Beat together the avocado and sunflower spread with electric beaters until creamy... read more

Inside Homes Market Review

You can be in your dream home for Christmas 2017! Now that the summer holidays are over and the children are returning back to school, many peoples focus will quickly turn back to that dream move. The good news is that September is traditionally a great time to get on the market AND a move before Christmas is still possible! The price of property coming to market in August, traditionally drops slightly due to the summer holiday lull. Last month was in line with the average for this time of year with a slight fall in asking price, down by 0.9%. However, we are seeing that buyer demand remains strong, despite the summer holiday season. There continues to be an influx of sold boards, a trend we expect to continue. Don’t forget, if you are looking to move before Christmas, your window of opportunity starts now and is ending... read more

Inside Market Review

Influx of sold boards restricts choice as buyer demand remains strong The onset of the summer holiday season generally has a dampening effect on both prices and activity, and this month sees the price of newly-marketed property at a virtual standstill, up by just 0.1% . To put it into context,this is a stronger price performance than the previous month’s fall of 0.4%, and is also well ahead of the same month a year ago which suffered a fall of 0.9% after the Brexit referendum. As we reach the half-way point of 2017 the fundamentals of the housing market appear to remain robust a year after the shock referendum result. Interest rates remain low, and demand for housing remains high, exacerbated by the shortage of available unsold property for sale. This means prospective buyers in many parts of the country are seeing a lot of sold boards on properties they would like to buy themselves. Indeed, the strength of buyer demand and lack of new build and existing property coming to market have resulted in over 45% of agents’ property stock being sold subject to... read more

Its Holiday Time

It’s that time of year again when we are all thinking about holidays. If you are lucky, you may even be off for a couple of weeks in the sun. But however relaxing it will be when you get there, getting ready to go on holiday can be stressful! To help make everything a little easier, you can read our holiday blog, with holiday tips, tricks and a useful checklist to make sure you don’t forget the essentials. Holiday check list- are you missing any of these? So, packing for a fun filled holiday must be easy, right? Now you can avoid last minute disasters and forgotten belongings with our hassle-free holiday check list! Passports – you might say this one is too obvious, but have you checked they are in date? Tickets and boarding passes – some airlines require you to print out your boarding passes, while some will print them out for you, if unsure visit your airlines website. EHIC cards Driving license if you wish to hire a vehicle Foreign currency and credit/debit cards First aid kits/medication Don’t bank on the weather – check the forecast and pack accordingly Holiday must haves Holiday essentials will depend entirely on what kind of holiday you are going on! Whatever kind of holiday you are planning on taking, there are some essentials that none of us can go without! A travel wallet. Great for organising and will mean you are less likely to panic over where you put your passports! A waterproof money wallet. This means you don’t have to worry about valuables getting wet or sandy, but you... read more