Monday, 23 October 2017 16:06

Winter Gardening and Simplifying Things.

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I just wish my garden looked as neat and tidy as the one in the picture!

With winter fast approaching it is the time you should be planning for next year but if you are not a keen gardener then here are few easy tips to reduce the daunting winter tasks.

  • Wait for all the leaves to drop before tidying them up, do it once and not every day.  One large gust of wind and they will be down anyway.
  • Use the mower or scarifier to collect the leaves if you do not own a blower, much easier than hours raking.
  • Have a bonfire to dispose of the waste, making a fire is always an incentive and gives a bit of warmth.  Your caveman or woman inner self will enjoy!
  • Spread the workload out over the winter filling one compost bin for collection and stop when full. It is a marathon and not a sprint.
  • If you get a dry day cut the grass on a high cut so it is more manageable at the start of spring.
  • Scrape and weed patios in sections, it is unlikely you and the family will be sitting out over winter so who cares if it is a winter project done in stages and may not look that attractive.
  • Cut bushes back hard so they are more manageable next year, try and do it before the first hard frost though.
  • Make a plan or a checklist, it will be satisfying ticking things off.
  • Bring potted plants inside to protect them but covering them with plastic is also a great way to protect them from the frost. The main thing though is to protect them from cold winds so moving them to the side of the house protected from the prevailing wind is an easy alternative.
  • Take hanging baskets down and emptying them for planting next year tipping the contents in to the compost bin or your compost pile.

Remember the main thing is to enjoy the garden not work in it and doing things in stages is always great advice.

Some other interesting, or maybe not so interesting facts about tomatoes that you might not have known are:

  1. Rich in Vitamin C but if stored in sunlight the quickly lose the vitamin content.
  2. Store them upside down to preserve them longer, i.e. the stem downwards.
  3. Do not refrigerate them as they will lose their smell and flavour.
  4. The leaves on a tomato plant are toxic.
  5. Green tomatoes will ripen when stored with apples. In France they were referred to as “Love Apples”.
  6. They originate from South America and are related to other plants such as chilli.
  7. The festival called La Tomatina in Spain involves a massive tomato throwing fight.
  8. The acid in tomatoes will remove the stink of a skunk.
  9. Tomato plants have been grown in space.
  10. Finally save money on beauty products as the tomato can condition hair, treat acne (close pores), break down oils in the skin improving overall complexion and help take the sting out of sunburn.

Feel free to send us some more whacky facts about one of the most popular fruits eaten today.

Friday, 07 July 2017 14:01

Healthy Eating and the Salt Issue

I recently watched a programme that described how the amount of salt in food produce has significantly reduced and continues to be a downward trend.  This left me pondering though as to the reasons why initially salt content was so high and secondly the need for us all to retrain our taste buds and eat natural food without adding salt.

Salt occurs naturally in foods as do sugars and vitamins so what is required is the fundamental changes to our diet, correct?

The one thing salt will do is preserve food and before refrigeration and freezing it was a fundamental part of maintain a balanced diet of food types.

The preservative element may explain the initial high content but not fully as many of the foods examined were freeze dried or packed for freezing.  The only conclusion is that the customer was and is demanding the content based on taste.

Our health is therefore in summary being compromised by ourselves and the programme summarised that the constant reduction reprogramming our taste buds was right.  We no longer need salt as a preservative and therefore reducing the content should not be a problem.

So, what should we do to help in improving our health reducing salt?

  1. Buy fresh fruit and vegetables and reduce the amount of processed food purchased.
  2. Do your research on foods, have you ever considered the salt content in cheese?  What about one brand of porridge oats versus another?
  3. Check the salt content traffic light on the packaging. If it is red do not buy it and if it is orange stop and consider why do you need it.  The producers will go further to reduce the content if it is impacting the sale of their products.
  4. Buy unprocessed food and prepare the meal at home.  We live in a society where speed is important but an extra 15 or 30 minutes should be worth the effort and long-term impact on health.
  5. Consider the transport of foods and storage as well as the seasonal consumption.  When a food is in season it is at its best for both quality and taste.

In summary, we cannot depend on the industry to fix our taste buds as they will always have a commercial bias and although foods standards might be forcing the issue we can do so much more ourselves with a little bit of time, effort and thought.

We might enjoy it!

The following are our top 10 tips when selecting a driving instructor for you, your partner or your children.

  1. Listen to others, recommendations from successful drivers. This is always a good starting point.
  2. If looking online does their presence look professional? If it does they have invested in getting it right and this is probably representative of their approach to tuition. Also allows you to compare and contract and even book lessons online.
  3. Ask about their pass rates and approach to teaching. People learn differently and the instructor should be adaptable and amenable to your needs.
  4. Does the car look clean and well maintained? The appearance of the car demonstrates a commitment to the profession, attention to detail and the safety aspect of you learning to drive with someone.
  5. Speak to the instructor and ensure you agree what is offered will meet your expectations. Many instructors offer intensive driving courses and these suit some people and not others. To make the most of this learning style you will need a level of commitment from both you and the instructor.
  6. Read feedback on Social Media from successful drivers. People will happily post their experiences highlighting the number of minor points in their test. People are different but you want to see a broad spectrum of “passers” and their experience with the instructor.
  7. Can they fit in with your schedule, do they pick up and drop off, etc. You may want picked up from school and the lesson finishing at your house, is this possible? Do they do early morning and evening lessons to fit in with your work commitments?
  8. Do they look smart and well turned out? Just like the car appearance is important. You will be sitting beside the instructor for over 40 hours and maybe a minor point but you should expect professionalism. This does not mean a suit but well-groomed, clean and tidy.
  9. Do they offer discounts on block bookings? Leaning to drive is not cheap. The DVLA indicates an average of 45 hours of tuition which translates to around £1,000 based on current charges. Any savings that you can get block booking at the start means more money in your pocket.
  10. Do they offer add on services which focus on parking, night driving, motorway driving etc. You might not need these to pass you test but it indicates the instructor’s commitment to offering a full driving package of lessons.

If you are looking for someone who can tick all the points above and are looking for driving lessons in Kirkcaldy, Perth and Kinross then why not contact www.roadrunnerschoolofmotoring.co.uk  and discuss your requirements.

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