UK Lifestyle Blog 2018-12-03T02:41:24+00:00
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How to Physically Prepare for a Hiking Trip (+ 5 Epic Hike Ideas!)

Hiking can certainly be a lot of fun, especially if you love being outdoors and keeping active. However, it’s no secret that this adventurous hobby also requires a lot of preparation – and not just route planning.

While some trails can be tackled by beginners with little or no experience, others require a higher fitness level. Planning for these trips includes assessing your fitness level to ensure you’re in good shape before you set off.

We did a fair bit of hiking in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia and Italy our recent 2 month road-trip around Europe (and can you blame us?! Below is a photograph from one of our rest days when we were in Austria, just WOW! 😻). Planning on going hiking? Here are some tips on how to physically prepare for a hiking trip.

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1. Plansee, Austria. If you’re looking for untouched natural beauty, you’ll fall in love with Austria.

Plan before you set off!

Are you just starting out, and looking for something to “test the waters”? Maybe you’re a little more experienced, but looking to take things up a notch? Did you find your previous hiking trip a little too much, or perhaps a bit boring? 

Every hike is different, and the physical preparation will differ, too.

If you’re booking through an adventure travel company, you can always ask them what fitness level is required for the routes that interest you. They will often be able to help you assess if the trails of interest are suitable for you.

Know your fitness level ❤️

Assessing your fitness level before setting out on your first hike – or any hike, for that matter – is highly recommended. Not all days trekking will be the same, but that’s what makes it exciting!

If you regularly walk to work and back, play football on the weekends, and go to the gym three times per week, you’d be safe to class yourself as fit. More advanced trails are certainly on your radar, however, shouldn’t be underestimated.

Where a walk to the local chip shop is your primary form of exercise, you’ll need to better prepare your body!

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2. The Dolomites, Italy were truly epic! The Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop is perfect for beginners.

Get some training under your belt 

The obvious way to train for a hike is to get out and walk as much as you can. Anywhere you can reach on foot is an option – so ditch the car in favour of a walk to the local supermarket. In fact, carrying some shopping bags back from the shops will help you, too, as it is likely you’ll need to carry heavy bags with your belongings while hiking.

If hitting the gym, you’ll find that many treadmills feature an incline setting. For most people, these are simply a way of increasing intensity and adding “variety” to otherwise boring cardio workouts. For others, this setting offers a great tool to prepare for real-world hiking adventures.

Most treadmills max out at around 15% incline. This is pretty good, but if you’re looking to hike up demanding hills and mountains, you’ll likely want to try out a dedicated incline trainer.

An incline trainer is the same as a treadmill, however, is designed with a much steeper running deck. With incline percentages up to 40%, these are perfect for increasing the stamina needed for steep treks and mountain climbing. 

Although not cheap, you can easily save yourself some money by comparing gym equipment prices before you buy an incline trainer.

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3. Little further up… Glacier summit shot @ Gornergrat, Switzerland – Feeling on top of the world!

Keep hydrated on your hike

With so many variables to consider, it’s impossible to produce a definitive list of things to do while on your vigorous walk. That said, water and food are things we can accurately estimate.

Before setting off, you’ll no doubt have map of the route you’re taking. You should work out how many miles you’ll walk and calculate how long this will take.

Regarding hydration, a good rule of thumb is to drink a litre of water for every two hours walking. If it’s a hot day, with lots of uphill climbing, this should be the minimum you shoot for.

Remember, the more water you carry, the heavier your bag will be. For this reason, it’s important to accurately estimate how much water to take, to ensure an optimal fitness level.

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4. Views of Matterhorn from Riffelsee, Switzerland (Yes, that’s the Toblerone mountain!!) 🐻

Re-assess your fitness level after the hike

No matter how well you initially assessed your fitness level, or how much you physically prepared your body, you will now know the reality of how fit you are. Did you smash it? Was it a walk in the park (excuse the pun) or maybe it was more physically demanding than you imagined?

Those who found their most recent hiking trip difficult might add weight training to their preparation for next time. If you found it less demanding, you can aim for something a little tougher while having a “feel” for what areas you might need to address to ensure you’re at the right fitness level to tackle it.

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5. One of the most jaw-dropping hikes I’ve ever done, the Pragser Wildsee loop in the Italian Alps

Last but not least…

Physical preparation is an important part of hiking. When booking or planning a hike, ask experienced hikers and tour company advisors about the required fitness level.

Once you’ve shortlisted suitable trails, pick exercises to help you reach the right level: walk to the local shops if you’re a beginner; train on an incline trainer if you’re more experienced; and lift weights if you feel your strength needs improvement.

In addition to preparing you for the hike, these exercises and training methods will also keep your body in great shape for everyday life, too.

December 15, 2018|Travel|

Tips for Lighting Up the Living Room: Shine Baby, Shine!

Lighting is one of the most important and often under appreciated aspects of internal décor which can make or break all the other elements. It is also extremely important to match the lighting with the mood and the theme of a particular room, which is where we often go wrong. Take a look at the following tips to know how you can avoid common lighting mistakes and make your living room shine.

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Three Different Types of Lights

The general rule is that a room as large as the living room requires three different types of lighting, which are categorised as ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. While you can get away with skipping the accent lights (especially when the space is quite small), ambient and task lighting are essential.

Ambient lighting 

This refers to the general lighting in any living room that acts as the primary source of illumination. There are many ways to go about it, but pendant lighting works particularly well for ambient lighting, given how many widely varying options you get with the ceiling fixtures here. There are tube LED lights, pyramids, cubes, birdcages, disco balls, chandeliers, cluster lights, classic round bulbs and so many other options that it is easy to get spoiled for choice, irrespective of the décor you have going on in your living room.

The ambient lights in a living room are responsible for creating the primary atmosphere, so choose carefully and in the right numbers. What this implies is that a particularly large living room may benefit more from multiple smaller pendant lights, than just one big chandelier, while one small chandelier with a mirror on one wall could actually make a small room look bigger than it is.

Task Lighting 

Just as the name suggests, task lighting refers to specialised light sources that serve to aid in a particular function. For example, a reading lamp or a recessed cabinet light meant for lighting up the kitchen counter is known as a task light because it helps the inhabitants of the home in performing certain specific tasks better.

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Accent Lighting 

The job of accent lights is to highlight points of interest in the room. If you have ever seen cove lighting or tray ceilings, you know what accent lighting is. Alternatively, you can use sconces to accentuate a photo wall or a piece of art that you proudly own and would like to show off to your guests.

Dimmer Switches are EVERYTHING!

The brightness control which dimmer switches allow are a game changer and until the days come when we can use smart lights everywhere, they are a must for any living room. Not only do dimmer switches allow for perfect ambience control by enabling people to adjust the brightness in accordance with the available natural light, as well as the occasion at hand, they also help in bringing down the power consumption quite a bit over time.

Consider Colour Temperature

It may not look like it at the time of the purchase, but rest assured that unless every lightbulb that you are buying is of the same kelvin colour temperature, the whites and the yellows will differ from each other once you fit them into the fixtures and turn them on. Since a mixture could look quite clumsy, make sure that every bulb you buy has the same rating as the others, especially when dealing with pendant lights.

Making a living room shine isn’t about making it as bright as possible, but more about filling the entire room with just the perfect amount of light which it needs to look bright, inviting and cosy at the same time.

December 14, 2018|Home Decor|

10 reasons to go travelling in a campervan

Traveling is the BEST, and we dedicate our energy to seeing new places as much as we possibly can. You’ve probably already read (because I keep writing about it…) but I recently bought a van conversion. We’ve got some big plans which we’re publishing on the blog pretty soon.

So far we’ve only done smaller trips but we’re completely in love with our van and cannot wait to do more. There’s something really special about traveling in a van. Here’s why we love it and we’re so excited…

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1. Work from anywhere in the world

We are so lucky that we run our own company, and we can make money from wherever we are, as long as we have our laptops. This makes life so much easier for us because it means we’re not restricted when we travel or for how long. One of us can be driving, whilst the other is in the back working on our clients websites using our personal hotspots or portable wifi

People often think we’re an exceptions and that nobody else can do this but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In this modern era, there are so many different jobs you can do remotely from a computer, from being a virtual assistant to being a designer. There’s a wealth of information online about how to get started… If you want to read more essays about travel go to this site.

2. Unbounded freedom

During every trip, one of the most important aspects is accommodation. Hotels and hostels always bound you to the place where you are staying, and it becomes impossible to move far away for some sightseeing as you have to return for the night. We all know how much this sucks…

While traveling in a campervan, you can stay for a sleep anywhere and stop off at spot along the way to your destination. You can even park up in front of the sea or overlooking mountains (if parking permits!). The type of views you can get from a van blow hotels out the park. 

3. Value of space

Every vacation requires preparation of things that you are going to take with you. Usually, people bring with them a bunch of unnecessary stuff, and some of them are not even used once! When you’re traveling in a campevan, you’ll soon find out what’s really important to you.

Whether you’re going on a long trip or a short trip in your campervan, you should think twice. Only take only the most important and needed items as space is limited. That helps to reconsider the essential things for you. It really changes your perspective and there’s something liberating about minimal living. 

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4. Revaluation of values

In the campervan, all resources such as food and water are limited, and you have to refill them from time to time. However, when the trip goes far from the civilisation, you start to think about different ways of shortening the consumption. What is the real value of the water and possibility to take a shower several times a day? 

We’ve had to consider this for when we’re traveling in the colder months because an outside shower isn’t so appealing. We’ve read so many inspiring posts, and the verdict is, at the end of such a trip you will look at the world differently. That’s a pretty exciting prospect. 

5. New people, new friends

While traveling in a van, you will ride through big cities to small villages, and you will definitely meet new people that will be very curious, where you are from. There is a chance that you will be invited for dinner.

This is something we’re really excited about, and it was one of my favourite things about traveling in Australia.

6. Nature around us

The magnificence of the Earth cannot be compared to anything else and you can come closer to nature. It is really wonderful to wake up in the morning with leaves rustling and birds singing. Here you will remain far away from the city noises 🍃 What could be better?

I love rolling the van door open in the morning, letting the dog out and feeling the sun rays on my face. Even just one night away in the van and in nature makes me feel so much better. Even if we’re on a slanted field and we’re not in a king size bed, somehow, I sleep better. Would you believe?!

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7. Living is cheap

Traveling is not cheap and there is list of reasons why. When you’re traveling in a campervan, cost is significantly decreased! Everything you need is inside your moving home, and you do not have to book a hotel room, pay for meals out in restaurants, and you won’t need to worry about getting taxis or buses.

When you’re traveling, you’ll find that fuel is the most expensive thing, which is pretty unavoidable. That said, if you’re having a slow month making money, you can always park up and just enjoy whatever country you’re in. The second biggest expenses is food. 

When you go traveling in a van (especially if it’s as old as ours is!), then make sure you have a rainy-day fund for if you breakdown. Our van didn’t meet the requirements for roadside assistance cover, but if yours does, it’s worth every penny for the piece of mind. Take a couple of parts with you for when you’re traveling on the road, like spare bulbs etc that can be picked up cheaply online from websites like www.buycarparts.co.uk, to save you having a huge bill at a garage for something that could have easily been replaced.

8. The project aspect is fun

When I bought the van, the aim was so go traveling and take our dog with us. I didn’t give too much thought about the build of the van, and it kind of stressed me out. We bought a van that (luckily) had most the stuff done, such as electrics, plumbing and gas installation. This meant we didn’t have to fork out for expensive essentials.

BUT we’ve spent every hour of our weekends on making the van our own, you can see our pics on Instagram 📸 From painting the cupboards, through to hooking up fairy lights and putting in new curtains. These little changes make a huge difference, and it feels so good knowing that we did it ourselves (with some help from our family) and it’s all come together.

9. Rest whenever you want

When you’re traveling in a van, there’s no limitations on when you have to leave. This is perfect if you enjoy slow-living because you can take the time out to have a bit more relaxation, without missing out on your trip. I know this is going to work well with our busy schedules, and it’ll take the pressure off us, allowing us to truly enjoy our trip.

These are the main reasons why to go traveling in a campervan is really worth trying. There are always advantages and disadvantages in any kind of trips, and only you can choose the option, which suits you the most.

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In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a BIG fan of traveling in a van but I must stress, it isn’t for everybody. It can be really stressful if and when you breakdown, and you’ll miss having access to a clean toilet everyday.

If you want a unique adventure but washing with wet wipes isn’t your thing, then fear not! I’ve recently been swooning over this article: unique places you can rent for your next holiday. From tree-houses in Sweden to underground caves in Turkey, it’s 100% unique but a little bit more luxurious than a home on wheels.

December 13, 2018|Van Life|

How to Add a Bit of Sparkle to Your Tired Home Before Xmas ✨

There are many different motivations for completing home improvements and these will range from complete makeovers and projects to simple, cheap things that will make a difference.  Generally when changes are made, this has a positive impact – not only for those living in the house but sometimes for the actual value.

You will find that people will complete some simple interior design work when they are on the path to selling it.  The photographs for selling the home are crucial to get people in the door and the good quality interior can help make a sale go through a lot easier. We have come up with a few things you should consider if looking to improve the interior of your home.

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A splash of colour

Once of the most effective way to improve the interior of your home is to give it a lick of paint.  Here you will be able to give the walls a refresh with as much plain or vibrant colours as you choose.  It is becoming more and more common nowadays for people to have painted walls in their home rather than wallpaper.

This then makes it all the easier to have a change. In addition to painted walls, you will find that some people actually follow through with some stencilling on the wall.  This could be a picture or a word. If you do decide to go for the painted walls route then be sure to consider allowing a painter and decorator to do this for you (unless you deem yourself an expert).  Not only can this be messy but it’s generally not an enjoyable task.

Switch up your doors

When shopping around, you want to make sure you get the best priced doors for your home.   You can do this online or at local retailers where checking out the prices from different stores will be an exercise worth pursuing to save a few quid. There are many things you can do with interior door to painting the ones you have to changing them to more modern ones. If you think of places such as bathrooms and kitchens, there are more unique options you could go for which include sliding doors.

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Adding some warmth

In the UK it is specifically important to ensure you have a credible heating system.  One of the most common ways to heat the home is via central heating.  Over the years the efficiency of these techniques have improved drastically and with better efficient radiators and boilers there is money to be saved in the long term if you choose the correct package.

In addition to this, the actual radiators in some homes (especially if the home is old) are pretty ugly and do not look appealing. You could consider keeping the current central heating system that you have but renewing the actual radiators.  In the bathroom, a simple change you could make is to change the radiator in there to a towel rack radiator to give a little bit of modern spin to it.

Upgrade your windows

Most modern homes will be fitted with double glazed windows that are as secure and heat efficient as you can imagine however not all homes have this.  By upgrading the windows you have to double glazed ones, not only are you improving the look but you are most likely improving the security of your home and the heat efficiency.

This option is not cheap and depending on the size of your home could set you back a good few thousand pounds. Make sure that if following through with this option you shop around and don’t jump with the first company you make contact with as the range in prices will vary quite significantly.

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Refresh your floors

If you have a carpet in certain areas of the home, you may wish to consider changing the carpet so it is something a little more vibrant.  Carpets can sometimes look pretty worn quite quickly depending on how much it is used.

If you have children or pets then you can expect it to only have a specific lifespan.  Carpet laying isn’t too difficult however if you mess this up then you could find yourself to be short of carpet. Where you purchase the carpet, they are more than likely to offer a laying service which is generally not expensive depending on the area.

Another consideration is to actually do away with carpets completely and opt for flooring. You will find that this is a much more common option nowadays and a lot of homes will have this in many or all rooms. A big advantage of going for the flooring options is the maintenance.  These generally have a long lifespan (if they are of good quality) and require very little upkeep.

December 3, 2018|Home Decor|
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**WINNER** Best European Lifestyle Blog 2018 🌺🥥

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Strawberry Squeeze is a UK lifestyle blog written by me, Sam Charles! Ranked as Up and Coming on Bloglovin’, Strawberry Squeeze publishes content from health and beauty to travel and adventure.

I aim to updated the blog at least once a week (usually much more often!) with guides, inspiration and reviews. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook to keep up to date with all my posts 💕

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Strawberry Squeeze is a UK lifestyle blog but what exactly does that mean? Mediakix defines a lifestyle blog as “digital content representation of its author’s everyday life and interests”. This is perfect for fickle little me, that changes what they’re doing every 5 minutes.

Whilst my career, my fiancée and my home is consistent, my hobbies and interest are all over the place. Life is too short and I want to experience EVERYTHING. One weekend I’ll be climbing a mountain, another I’ll be surfing, then the next week I’ll be watching learning how to create macrame wall hangings.

I always wonder how successful I could make the blog if it was in a niche with a focus but alas, it just wouldn’t be me.

Do you run a UK lifestyle or fitness blog, and want to contribute to my Strawberry Squeeze? If so, I want to hear from you!🍓hello@strawberrysqueeze.co.uk

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