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Travel – Viva Riva

I first heard about Riga from friends who had been for a stag weekend there; like Prague and other ex-Soviet Bloc cities, it is well established on the lad’s stag circuit. Unlike my friends, I decided to go for a romantic weekend with my girlfriend and, also rather differently, we went in  February when the temperature routinely plummets to -25°C. An act of madness? – let’s find out! 

Riga is the capital of Latvia, a country I had never heard of, which lies on the other side of the Baltic from    Sweden. Until 1991, it was part of Soviet Russia but it doesn’t feel like a Russian city, although you sometimes sense a world of gangsters and black marketers lurking beneath the surface.  In fact, some of the bars are run by gangs and exist solely to fleece unwary male tourists – a pretty girl will get chatting to you and ask you to buy her a drink; when the bill arrives it will be for several hundred pounds. It happened to a friend of mine so beware!

The main tourist area is  centred around the old town which is incredibly pretty and looks like something from the lid of a chocolate box. If you are into your  architecture, it is apparently the best example of art deco architecture in Europe. There is a nice mixture of         museums, bars and restaurants in the old town and it’s a lovely place to have a  wander around. All of   Northern Europe had been experiencing a seriously cold winter when we went and it was so cold in Riga that  people were skating on the river. We knew what to   expect though and had brought ski clothes along and it was actually good fun wandering around in the snow.

 

Latvia has its own currency, the Lati, and one of them is worth about £1.20.   Everything in the old town costs twice as much as   anywhere else in the city but, even so, a beer is still a very reasonable £2.40. We stayed in a small independent hotel in a lovely old building just outside the old town and it was charming and incredibly friendly. Our extremely  comfortable double room cost just £48 per night. The restaurants in Riga serve just about every type of food you can think of, though quite a few specialise in  Russian or Latvian food. On our first night we pushed the boat out and went to a place called Vincent’s and had a fantastic meal – not bad for £25 per head. The following night we went to a Russian place and ate our fill of stodgy but delicious grub, essential to soak up all the vodka they ply you with.

 

Our second day was taken up with a visit to the central market which sells all manner of things, many of them a bit dodgy, so I stocked up on suspiciously cheap Marlboros. The covered area of the market is built from a recycled   hangar that used to house Zeppelin airships, not   something you see in Sutton Coldfield. In the afternoon we did probably the most terrifying and   exhilarating thing I’ve ever done in my life, went on a genuine bobsleigh ride. We were the two passengers in between a professional driver and brakeman. I doubt that they go at full speed but you still hit 80mph and it is a huge adrenaline rush – not for the faint hearted!

 

Riga is a great place for Sutton Coldfield residents to go for a short city break; just try to avoid the tourist bars and, if you go in the winter, make sure you wrap up warm!

Matthew Trent

This article features in Walmley Pages Magazine, Sutton Coldfield


Mice Advice

Pest control advice for Sutton Coldfield residents.

Now that we’re well and truly into winter the insects have by and large died off or hibernated, and the mice and rats have begun to seek warmth and shelter, and your house could well be a target.

Try to spare a few minutes for a quick look around the outside of your house and garage. Any gap that you can put a pen through is large enough for a mouse to get in and should be filled in with filler or cement.

Pay particular attention the rendering around pipes or cables, under door-steps, around drains, door frames, under doors, inside meter cupboards. Don’t just look at ground level either, because mice are very agile and excellent climbers.

Garages are a common place for mice infestations as they are easily accessible and provide warmth and shelter. Garage doors invariably have a gap underneath, and the fitting of brush or rubber type strip along the base is usually enough to keep them out. If the garage is attached to the house don’t forget to check the dividing wall for holes, cables and pipes too.

Mice can also enter your house from an adjoining property, usually under the floor or into the loft, into the wall cavity and then into your house. It would be virtually impossible to find every hole or gap between the properties, so it is advisable to give your home a thorough internal check too. Sutton Coldfield householders are also advised to check pipes and cables, boilers, airing cupboards, under the bath, toilets, and the base of walls particularly under kitchen cupboards, in fact any small hole you find should be plugged.

Prevention is the best form of pest control of course but if you already have an infestation the mice should be dealt with before the proofing of any holes is carried out. This is because having established your home as their home too, they will go to extraordinary lengths to get back in and they will either breach where you have filled or will find another way in. 

Treating it yourself can sometimes be straightforward and baits that you can buy sometimes work, but mice can be very fickle, and a professional will not only have extensive knowledge of their feeding and behaviour patterns and the best places to bait, but also a winder range of more attractive and more palatable baits. Trapping usually has only limited success, as it is very random and may not eradicate the whole colony, and soon the infestation increases again. Many people think they just have a mouse but this is extremely rare as mice are very gregarious.
Mice infestations vary considerably. They can occur in the cleanest of Sutton Coldfield households, and less hygienic ones can get away with it. I’ve come across many with mice, who have lived in a house for years without any previous problems so please don’t think it could never happen to you. By taking these few simple steps you will considerably reduce the chances of suffering an infestation.

If you wish for any free advice about mice or any other pest matters feel free to give me a call (07984 88 88 87 or 0121 313 3305)

Neil Barnett
Complete Pest Management
Sutton Coldfield
www.completepestmanagement.co.uk


Ant Problems in Sutton Coldfield?

No doubt many Sutton Coldfield residents are by now starting to see ants around the home. The ants you see above ground represent only about 3% of a colony so by far the best way to get rid of them is to find the nest. Spend a little time identifying where the ant trails are and place some ant bait as near as possible to them. I find the gel type poison baits work best, although other methods such as powders or sprays can sometimes work too. Once the ants have found the bait they will take the bait back to the nest and the whole colony will then feed on it.  When deciding where to place the bait be mindful of the risks to children and pets so ensure that you read the precautions label first. 

Ants are often difficult to control, and complete eradication is hard to achieve so if you wish to have a go yourself you just have to keep plugging away and try to eliminate or cut down the infestation as best you can. Pest control companies are able to use a wider range of baits and insecticides, and of course their expertise too, and this should be an option to consider particularly if you are having difficulty controlling an infestation.

Later in the year, the queen produces winged ants (commonly known as flying ants). Both male and females are created by the queen specifically for mating purposes. When the conditions are just right, usually on various days from mid July until the end of August and on humid or thundery afternoons when the air thermals are conducive to good flying, they leave the nest and take flight, mating on the wing (this can even happen occasionally at other times of the year inside a well heated home).  When this happens, Sutton Coldfield residents are advised to open your windows to let some of them fly away, and treat the rest of them with a flying insect aerosol spray. Once mated all of the males die as do many of the females too, but some of the mated females (next year’s queens) survive and seek out places to hibernate in readiness for making a new nest the following year when the cycle begins once again.

If you need any free advice regarding ants or any other pest species please give click here.
Neil Barnett
Complete Pest Management, Sutton Coldfield.


Golf coaching at the Belfry

 

Golf coaching at the Belfry – Recommended Magazine  Sutton Coldfield review

 As a beginner to golf I took the opportunity to have a 60 minute hi tec computer quintec video lesson at thePGAAcademyat The Belfry.

The lesson was with Derek Simpson who has been the senior teaching professional at The Belfry for the past 17 years and so I knew I was in good hands. We started the session with Derek asking me some questions about my past golfing experience and other sports I had played, he also enquired what goals I had in golf and if I would be able to practice and play as this is a huge factor in the development of my golf  swing. I warmed up then hit some golf balls with my pitching wedge followed by my 7iron which were recorded on the quintec computer video analysis machine. The cameras recorded my swing from 4 different angles, Derek and I then sat down to discuss the improvements to be made. We could quickly identify that my posture was poor and I was standing too close to the ball, I was shown some TOUR PROFESSIONALS on the monitor and could immediately see the areas to work on .Derek explained that if I improved my posture and got my distance better from the ball then my swing would have more chance of working in a natural way for me, otherwise I would find it very difficult to get any consistency. I was then given a routine to get my posture correct and to judge the distance I should be from the ball and continued to hit some shots with the video camera recording my swings. My new posture was compared to my old posture and I was amazed at the difference this made to my swing and the contact the club made on the ball. Whilst hitting shots under the guidance of Derek I was made to feel at ease with encouragement throughout the entire session .Derek wrote down some practice drills and points for me to work on with advice on how and when to practice .I really enjoyed the session and can understand why so many golfers use the quintec video analysis for golf lessons as you can compare positions with 50 tour professionals and see the improvements. If you are new to the game of an experienced golfer looking to improve I recommend having some coaching sessions with Derek on this machine because it was a fabulous experience.  

Feel free to email info@recommendedmagazine.co.uk for more details

Recommended magazine (Sutton Coldfield) review of The Belfry Golf Coaching

Richard Barnes editor


Designing and wording your Sutton Coldfield magazine advertisements

Designing and wording your Sutton Coldfield magazine advertisements

Magazine adverts can produce fantastic results especially in nice areas such asSutton Coldfield

But beware magazine advertisement can be difficult to get right

•           Your magazine advertisement has to generate a desire to act quickly / immediately!

•           Headlines must be creative and pack a punch.

•           Your sales message and the product which you are offering has to be clear & concise

•           Your advertisement must create a strong desire for the user to call you rather than your competitors

•           Create the impression that you are easy to contact, and a nice person to deal with

Richard Barnes director of Think Big Publishing Ltd , publisher of Sutton Coldfield magazines Walmley Pages and Recommended magazine


 

Does your advert pass the Think Big test?

If you are looking to advertise your business inSutton Coldfieldthere are a few rules that you really should follow, over the coming months Think Big Publishing will be providing tips on how to advertise your business and grab the attention of theSutton Coldfieldpublic.

What do you think the most important part of your advertisement is?  Your telephone number?  Your address?

 What stands out in your advertisements ?  If it’s your company name or logo ?

The most important thing is THE HEADLINE!!

Without an attention grabbing headline it won’t matter much how great your business or latest offer is as few will ever read it.

Think Big Tip :The main objective of a headline is to get the reader to read the first paragraph of your Sutton Coldfield advertisement. Your headline should be big, bold, and easy to read.  But more importantly, it must entice the reader to read on.

“HEADLINE TEST”

How do you know you have a powerful headline to attract the Sutton Coldfileld public?

Would people be impressed if they saw your headline in isolation? i.e

“Ace cleaning, great service and hard working  For details,
call 0121 354-0000.

This is pretty uninspiring

How about

“6 Things You Must Know Before employing a cleaner”

 Free Report or advice call  0121 354-0000″.
This works as people are likely to call this number before calling a competitors, they need to know these 6 things before they appoint anyone!

Another advertising tip is to arouse curiosity. 

I.e “What Your financial advisor Doesn’t Want You To Know”

 Use powerful attention-grabbing words.

ie Guaranteed, New, Now, Warning

Example:   “WARNING: Credit Card Users ARE Paying To Much”

Richard Barnes director of Think Big Publishing Ltd , publisher of Sutton Coldfield magazines Walmley Pages and Recommended magazine.


Parry Riposte!

 

Parry Riposte!

When we fancy a sporting session we usually go for a knock about on the tennis court or a kick around on the football pitch, never have I heard someone say, “Let’s have a quick bout on the strip.” Derived from both French and Italian swordsmanship, Fencing has come a long way from the life or death situation of a Duel. It is nowhere near as popular as it deserves to be, so I decided to go for a quick refresher session to find out if it is as fun as I remembered at school.

It is no wonder that you might be put off the sport by the outfits you have to wear; a bee-keeper type mask, straitjacket and either a very Clockwork Orange-esq cod-piece or plastic chest protectors! When I was suited and booted I picked up my foil, this is the lightest of weapons and is easy to move around to learn and practise the various positions, and we began to twist our wrists back and forth to piece together basic defence and attack positions. Initially, I was discouraged by the amount of French used to describe blocking positions but these can easily be transformed into numbers.

Once you have learnt a few ways to block your opponent, and remembered to riposte (attack) straight afterwards, you start getting competitive. Combat is the original form of competition and this is certainly an elegant way to entertain that primal instinct. Brute strength is not an advantage here; this is a sport for the resourceful.

Fencing teaches control, technique and sharpens your senses. Posture is imperative, as is quick footwork and short bursts of power from your legs. This type of exercise will get your heart rate up and push your muscles to the limit, as you reach for that elusive winning point. Absolutely anyone can have a go and everyone will improve their lightness of foot and probably their French too!

Carrie Cartwright-Owen

 

Fitness article provided by Walmley Pages, sutton Coldfield community magazine advertising local business to the Sutton Coldfield public.


A Golden Opportunity…Tinged with a bit of Green!

                                                

A Golden Opportunity…Tinged with a bit of Green!

Welcome one and all to my collective mourn-in!  If you were the proud owner of a beautiful Bay tree or flourishing Phormium, the chances are you are resigned to the fact that it is now as dead as the Monty Python parrot. Owners of Cordylines, Ceanothus, Abutilon and any other exotics will also be lamenting their losses but, if it’s any consolation, I was also caught with my trousers down. I am now bereft of a much admired Nerine collection and one of the finest shrubs I have ever had the pleasure to grow, Coronilla glauca.

 

The prolonged permafrost we endured during this mother of all winters killed our plants from their roots up and, bearing in mind their Mediterranean origins, it is not surprising they keeled over. Unfortunately, with the unpredictability of theUKseasons these days, there is always going to be a risk in leaving any borderline hardy plant outside through the winter. Ideally we would all have dug up our little treasures and cocooned them in a nice greenhouse for the winter, but clearly this is not feasible for most of us. I know a lot of people tried wrapping their plants in ‘fleece’ specifically made to protect plants from frost damage but all it succeeded in doing was maintaining their frozen state!

Before we all give up on our gardens altogether, let’s look at all the positives and embrace the opportunities that this horticultural death and destruction brings. Firstly, with the judicial use of a shredder you can feel quite rightly satisfied that your plants are living on, albeit in a finer and less attractive manner than before. Secondly, and arguably most importantly, it provides a fantastic opportunity to change and revitalise your garden. Opening up new spaces and vistas lends a whole new aspect to the garden and, whilst sad, the loss of a large dominating plant can be an excellent catalyst to kick-start the garden change process. Obviously you could just replace your dead parrot/ cordyline with another one, but why not look to pastures new? Maybe now is a good time to put in that pond you’ve always wanted, the vegetable and herb garden that could help cut the family grocery bills or simply more space for the kids to enjoy some fresh air?!

Whatever you decide to do, take some time and advice as to the best solution for you and your family. There is a great temptation when you have some glaring gaps in your borders, to simply do a ‘trolley dash’ round the alluring displays at the garden centre. If all you want to achieve is a window dressing of your garden then that’s fine, but if you want something more lasting that is not going to be a wasted investment then you really ought to consider having a professional  review of what can be achieved. In the same way you wouldn’t normally fit your own kitchen without some expert help, your garden will always benefit from an expert plan of action to bring out its full potential. It may not be necessary to commission a full design of your garden; simply changing planting plans and revitalising existing borders could make all the difference between a struggling display and your very own littleChelsea!

Now is the best time to take some decisive action – we are coming up to the prime planting season and if any hard landscaping needs to be carried out, then this needs to be done first. Equally any ponds or water features should be installed as soon as possible together with outdoor kitchens for those wishing to take advantage of their own home grown veg! Personally I’m looking forward to seeing my new wild flower lawn come into it’s own in the next couple of months –I decided to practice what I preach and take it as a golden opportunity for change!

Jonathan Wild

Garden Consultant and Change Specialist!

Gardening article provided by Walmley Pages, Sutton Coldfield community magazine advertising local business to the Sutton Coldfield public.