Learn to Sail Online

sailing a yacht

Can an Online Course Prepare you for Life on the Waves?

Sailing is one of the most visceral experiences you can have. Yet an online course can put you in good stead to hit the water running.

You can do most things over the internet these days, but even the most die-hard devotee of the virtual experience might think twice at the concept of learning to sail online.

Of course, there is no substitute for getting out on the water, and nobody is going to become adept at sailing by sitting in front of a computer screen. However, in the same way that a theory test does not teach you to drive but does prepare you for driving, the RYA online courses are an important prerequisite to achieving prowess as a sailor.

What courses are available?

Currently, the following RYA courses can be taken online:

  • Essential Navigation and Seamanship
  • VHF
  • Day Skipper Theory
  • Coastal / Yachtmaster Theory
  • Yachtmaster Ocean theory
  • PPR
  • Safe & Fun Safeguarding

Previews and free trials are available online, so that you can get a taste for what each course entails, approximately how long it will take and what you will get at the end of it.

Advantages of online study

There are two key advantages to taking courses like these online. The first is flexibility and the second is price. For example, the Essential Navigation and Seamanship course takes around six hours to complete online. As it is built up of course units, it is easy to break it up into bite sized pieces and fit studies around your other day to day commitments. You can complete the course from the comfort of your own home and at your own pace – and at a cost of £89.

Taking the course in a classroom setting takes around 16 hours, and is often offered as an intensive two-day course. Prices vary between centres, but of course, a two day course is going to be significantly more expensive than £89. You might also have to factor in the additional costs of travel and accommodation, as well as the inconvenience factor of dedicating two full days to taking the course.

Course formats

The YSA online courses are designed to be enjoyable as well as educational. Unlike some distance learning courses, they do not simply throw information at you on slides or videos. Instead, they consist of fully interactive features and animations that keep you engaged and involved throughout.

Quizzes help you to check your learning along the way, and the answers are provided on the spot, so you can be confident as to when you are ready to take the final assessment.

For complete flexibility, the courses are compatible with all browsers and can be accessed from your PC or Mac. The Day Skipper Theory course can even be accessed from mobile devices, so you can take your studies with you wherever you go!

Gaining your qualification

With all the online courses, the ultimate objective is to obtain the necessary qualification. You will have full access to a dedicated instructor throughout the course, meaning you have all the support that would be available in a classroom environment, but with all the advantages of studying at your own pace from the comfort of home.

Make Your Next Break A Staycation

Beales Hotel

A holiday is a great form of escapism, whether you fly around the world or book a staycation somewhere local. Sometimes we just need to get away from it all. Between the daily stress of trying to maintain a health work, life and social balance, it can be really hard to find some “me” time away from the stress of it all. But planning a short city break can take too much time and bring its own anxieties.

Forget airports, taxis and suitcases and book a night or two at a hotel hertfordshire where you can unwind, relax and enjoy your own company. Check out our five reasons to staycation in England.


You time

A staycation is an excuse to check out and recharge without feeling bad about it, so it’s time to unwind by getting off your phone, booking a massage or reading in the bathtub. It’s also a great time to explore a hobby that you never seem to have time for, whether it be knitting, playing an instrument, drawing or cooking. Sometimes all we need is a beautiful, relaxing hotel to get us into the holiday mode.

Time to explore

Many of us have lists of things we want to do in our cities, but never manage to find the time for. A list may consist of restaurants to dine at, bars to visit, museum exhibits to see and places to explore. Instead of leaving them unchecked, a staycation break allows you to invest some time in your own county or a new location. You have the time to go shopping, eat out at a new restaurant, watch a film or soak up the atmosphere.


Between getting the time off of work, booking flights, stressing over what to pack, dealing with the chaos of an airport and spending hours travelling, the stress of travel can sometimes defeat the purpose of a holiday. On a staycation, stress levels are practically non-existent, leaving you no choice but to just relax. Have a wander around the hotel grounds to check out the facilities then head back to your room for a bubble bath and fluffy bathrobe and voila! Your holiday has begun.


Travelling can be expensive and time consuming. If you cut out the time off by staying somewhere local and remove flights from the budget, you can save yourself a lot of money. A night away is doable for most people as you don’t need to go crazy and spend your savings just because you need a break this weekend.


Sometimes when you need a break, you need it as soon as possible. The beauty of a staycation is that when you decide you need a break, you can actually take it hours later.

5 Things That Are A Must Before Booking Your Wedding Photographer

5 Things That Are A Must Before Booking Your Wedding Photographer

Cheesy smiles, an awkward stance and family members trying to hide in the back of the group shots are not how you want to remember your wedding day when you look back over photos in years to come.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare for photographs being taken so you can look back over them with fond memories!


Research, research, research!

To ensure the planning and wedding day itself is stress-free, you should thoroughly research all of your suppliers, including the wedding photographer Bristol. Read any articles, questionnaires or relevant information on a photographer’s website to see how they work and look for feedback on their social channels. You should also be able to see a wedding gallery on the site where you can see the style of photos they take.

Browsing the photo gallery will give you a clear picture of how they photograph wedding days, and what you can expect from them. You can also get a clear picture of how they photograph a wedding day, and what you can expect from them on your big day. Asking to see samples from a few weddings shows consistency in their quality and style, allowing you to imagine what your photographs will look like.

Arrange a meeting

Posing in a beautiful wedding dress and feeling relaxed on one of the biggest days of your life isn’t the easiest thing to do. However, choosing a photographer you feel comfortable with can make you feel a lot better about the situation.

Before booking your photographer, ask to meet them in person. They might take beautiful photographs but if you don’t feel comfortable around them then it won’t be as stress-free a process. Get to know your photographer a little bit better and see if you like their personality, which more important than you might think. The right photographer will be able to keep you calm and help you to enjoy the day.

Enquire about the packages

You don’t want to be left disappointed if after the wedding you are expecting to receive 500 photographs and only end up with 100. Some photographers only give 100 images from a 10-hour wedding package and charge extra for each image above this. Other wedding photographers may supply 500 images in colour and black and white, and then pay for the final edited versions. Packages can differ massively, so ensure the package is agreed before the wedding day.

Book an engagement shoot

Practice makes perfect! Book an engagement shoot to get comfortable in front of the camera and practice posing with an engagement portrait session. An engagement shoot is also the perfect opportunity to get a sneak peak at the type of photos you can expect from your big day. You could even hold the session at your wedding venue so that your photographer can identify all the best spots ahead of the wedding.

Ask the photographer how they plan for each wedding and what their approach is. Whether you have a long list of family members and friends or you’re feeling inspired by some fun images you’ve seen in a magazine, deciding what you want from your photographs is key. Choose a photography style, be it documentary style, traditional or photojournalistic for example, and discuss any needs and requirements ahead of the wedding.

Don’t miss a minute

Careful planning before the wedding will mean the photographer has a list of shots to work through. From family portraits to dinner, first dance to toasting the happy couple, plus any extra shots they would like to include. Wedding photographers capture all the really important moments, and also focus on the in-between moments as well. The candid shots are important because sometimes those moments aren’t seen by the couple.

Finding the Perfect Wedding Photographer

Wedding natural photography

When it comes to planning a wedding, there is a long list of tasks that need to be considered. The main task is to find and book a wedding photographer in Essex; someone who can capture those special moments in a creative and memorable way for you to cherish for a life time.

Photography on your big day

It’s important to find someone talented, experienced and who can live up to your expectations. Browse through online portfolios to a find a wedding photography style you like, be in documentary-style, portraiture or edgy, so that you know what kind of photos you would like to have taken. Finding the perfect photographer will ensure everyone can enjoy the big day, knowing there will be some stunning photos to cherish at the end of it!

Choosing the perfect location

There are beautiful wedding venues and locations throughout Essex to choose from, thanks to the beautiful rolling countryside and picturesque views in the county. Once you’ve found the perfect venue, let your photographer know as far in advance as possible so that they can look for some interesting and unique spots to photograph you in.

Do your research

It’s important to have in mind what style of photography you would like to have at your wedding, whether it be contemporary, traditional or documentary. It’s important to have a budget in mind, and to hire the photographer whose work you most connect with.

Style of photography

Spend time researching and looking into the types of photography you prefer, as this will help you decide on the photographer you will want shooting at your wedding.

If you like the spontaneous style with candid shots of people, décor and action, then documentary photography is the style for you. Documentary shots may include family dancing together, bridesmaids laughing and friends drinking champagne. This style of photo captures and cherishes the story exactly as it happens. If you like traditional photography with posed shots in front of various backdrops, then the portraiture style is for you. Portraiture shots are a lot more formal, such as family all standing together or the couple standing the ceremony altar.

If you’re looking for something a little more edge and different, why not try wedding photographers with a street photography background. These photographers tend to push the boundaries of moments they capture, mixing humour and dynamics with creative framing and composition.

Have trust and ease in your wedding photographer, they are there to capture beautiful moments for a lifetime!

100 Rat Complaints Every Day In London

rats on London streets

A recent report showing London boroughs between them received 186,000 rodent complaints between 2012 and 2017 with some individual boroughs getting over 20,000.

Rodents on the rise with 186,000 sightings over the past five years

It’s well known that London, in common with many larger cities, has a rat and mouse problem; a recent report shows just how severe the issue is throughout the capital with some 186,000 reported rat and mice sightings from 2012 to 2017. Some London boroughs have received complaints well into five figures during this period as the capital’s rodent problem exacerbates.

Population increases spell problems

The report, entitled ‘Rat Land’ and compiled by London Assembly member Susan Hall, polled all 32 London boroughs for their statistics on rodent sightings and analysed, through the help of London pest control experts, why the capital’s rat and mouse problem is so acute.

Some of the more densely populated London boroughs such as Tower Hamlets are particularly affected by rat and mice infestations – indeed, Tower Hamlets accounts for 30,000 (16%) of the overall total of reported sightings, the highest of all the London boroughs. This is largely a consequence of this East London borough being right at the top in terms of overcrowding statistics, and overcrowding can encourage the proliferation of rodents and other pests.

Other London boroughs reporting high incidences of rodent sightings were Brent and Camden in the north west of the capital with just under 20,000 and 13,500 sightings respectively; Lambeth south of the River Thames with 13,300 complaints, and Ealing in the west with just over 12,240.

There are only eight boroughs reporting fewer than 1,000 sightings per year; these include the City of London (940), Kensington and Chelsea (845), Merton (546) and Hammersmith and Fulham (271).

Why there’s a rodent problem

Densely populated areas can inevitably promote pest problems, but an overall need to step up general cleanliness and hygiene has been identified. For example, using expert drain contractors to more regularly clean and clear drains is seen as an important step as areas with poor drainage can give rise to rodent infestations.

‘Street cleanliness’ measures such as sweeping and removing rubbish – particularly in the light of certain graphic videos on social media showing rats attacking rubbish bags left on streets – can inhibit rodent numbers.

It’s also down to business owners and householders generally to observe good practices when it comes to the storing and disposal of rubbish, especially food-related refuse, and to do what they can to inhibit rodents. Pests such as rats are attracted to food sources, so secure bagging of unwanted food prior to its preferably swift removal is vital.

Other solutions include the stepping up of awareness campaigns and perhaps a reconsideration of how often bins are emptied by local authorities. Refuse removal has been reduced in frequency in recent years, so food waste has been hanging around in some neighbourhoods for at least a fortnight so attracting the wrong type of visitor to an area.

Businesses handling food such as restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets are likely to be more closely monitored by environmental health personnel and encouraged to be more diligent in their rubbish handling.

A rising problem

Pest control experts say cities are ideal places for rodents to thrive as they naturally offer plenty of shelter, food and water – a situation likely to improve for them as densities of population increase.

How to Repair Minor Car Scrapes

sportscarMake Your Car Look Like New

If your car is looking a little battle scarred, you would be amazed at the results you can achieve with a little dedication and an afternoon’s work.

If you use your car every day, it is practically inevitable that however careful you are, it will start showing a few little signs of wear and tear before too long. Often it is not your fault, and you have no idea where these little blemishes came from – it is almost as if your pride and joy got into a disagreement with another car while it was parked and they ended up having a minor scuffle.

Of course, for major damage, you call the insurers, make a claim and get it repaired. That’s easy. It is those minor nicks, scrapes and grazes that are really the problem. This is not the sort of car repair that is worth taking to the professional bodyshop, so what do you do? Nine times out of ten, the answer is absolutely nothing, and the battle scars gradually mount up.

Most people do not realise that repairing a minor scrape is far easier than they might think, and you don’t need specialist tools, equipment or training to get a great result. Here’s how.


Let’s start with the most minor blemishes. If you’ve just washed your car, you might see the sunlight playing across imperfections in the top coat of the paint. These are caused by particles of grit getting stuck to the cleaning cloths you used. Now the best thing here is prevention by using a grit guard in the bucket, but if it’s happened, don’t panic.

Run your fingernail over them and if they are too fine to feel, you will be able to polish them out with a fine cutting agent such as T-Cut. Use it sparingly, apply in a circular motion over the affected area, and it will look like new.

Don’t make a habit of using the T-Cut more than you have to, as what you are essentially doing is removing a layer of paint every time you use it.

Specialist car paint suppliers can supply a scratch remover that is precisely coloured to match your car according to its paint code. This serves not only to repair the scratches, but unlike the T-Cut it will boost rather than reduce the colour by adding paint instead of taking it away. These work best on solid colours as opposed to metallic.

Parking scrapes

A brush with a wall, post or another vehicle can leave damage that looks more serious, but there are still DIY solutions. If the top coat of paint has been damaged or there is bare metal or plastic exposed, you can buy a repair kit that comes with all the equipment you need to do an effective home repair.

Clean down the affected area, carefully apply the paint, allow it to dry and polish the whole area for a smooth finish. Again, you will need to know the car’s paint code, which is written on the chassis plate or can be found in the handbook.

Bear in mind, however, that if your car is getting on in years, you might need some manual assistance getting the match right. This is because the paint will have faded over time, so the colour according to the paint code might look substantially different to the colour of your car today.

The Best Restaurants to Dine at In Hertfordshire

The Best Restaurants to Dine at In Hertfordshire

The Mary Beale Restaurant

If you are looking for a true fine dining Hertfordshire experience, then you need to visit the Mary Beale restaurant at West Lodge Park, set on stunning grounds. Providing a high-end dining experience, the executive chef Wayne Turner offer weekly changing menus, using the freshest and finest ingredients from locally sourced suppliers. You can expect to indulge in seasonal soups, herb crusted fish dishes and spiced soufflés.

For the ultimate fine dining experience, why not book a stay in one of the luxury bedrooms at West Lodge Park? The rooms are set amongst beautiful, formal grounds and are individually decorated.

Auberge du Lac

The converted hunting lodge on the banks of the Broadwater Lake is home to Auberge du Lac, a dazzling, modern and beautiful restaurant. Set over four floors, Auberge du Lac includes a comfortable lounge, private dining rooms, a terrace and an elegant main dining room, where you can enjoy dishes such as foie gras parfait with roast and pickled peach, Szechuan granola and thyme brioche. The five-star restaurant regularly caters for private dinners, ladies’ lunches, weddings and birthday parties, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy here.

St James Restaurant

Established in 1997, St James Restaurant has since developed a reputation in Hertfordshire for being one of the finest restaurants in Hertfordshire. Using the finest and freshest ingredients, St James produce modern English cuisine with the occasional hint of France and Italy. You can expect to see delicious dishes on the menu including roast fillet of pork, whole boneless sea bass and spiced duck breast.

The Greyhound

The Greyhound is a local family run pub, selling award-winning Hertfordshire ale and traditional British gastro pub food. The historic pub offers weekly food specials, quiz nights and pub games, alongside a bar serving fine local ales, world beers and wines. For something a little more relaxing, The Greyhound should be at the top of your list of places to eat in Hertfordshire.

Happy Families Dine Together

family dining table

Invest In a New Table, Invest In Your Happiness

Bringing the whole family together at mealtimes can have a really profound impact on your emotional well-being.

Dining together as a family used to be a daily occurrence. Now though, with the interference of busy workloads, technology and hectic social schedules, it’s rare for a family to get together and share a meal. Well, it’s time to change that! Eating together as a family is a great way of unwinding, catching up with each other’s news and strengthening that all-important familial bond. If you’re going to make the effort, then investing in your dining space to make it a pleasant place to eat is essential. Why not get things started with treating you and your family to a new dining table?

Growing to love food

There are many reasons why it’s a good idea to dine together as a family. One of the most important is getting the whole family interested in food. It can be pretty tough to get children to eat healthily or help out in the kitchen, but making sure that you all eat together can change that. Family members can take it turns to cook, and that means that the kids can wow their parents with some culinary creations. Getting a great reaction to something that they’ve cooked and being able to enjoy the results of their hard work with their nearest and dearest will help them to establish a healthy relationship with food.

Strong emotional connections

It’s well known that eating together can help families to bond. Having a set time of day where you all sit down together and talk can work wonders. It doesn’t matter if it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, just taking the time to enjoy each other’s company is invaluable. Eating together sees generational divides disappear, differences in opinion turned into lively debates, and most importantly of all, memories created. Chances are, you’ve got some wonderful memories from the dinner table. The two simple acts of eating and talking really are much more than the sum of their parts.

Oak tables are the best

If you’re going to be spending a lot of time there, it makes sense to make your dining space as beautiful as possible. Of course, the most important piece of furniture in the room is going to be the table. After all, you don’t want everyone to be eating their dinners off of their laps. Oak dining tables are by far the best option. Oak is one of the most durable woods out there, and can stand up to years of use in the busiest households. It’s a real timeless choice too, and fits in with a huge variety of design schemes. Even if it’s the only thing you invest in, a new oak table will drastically improve your dining experience.

You’ll notice the benefits straight away

Instead of eating dinner while scrolling through your smartphone, or letting your kids wander off to watch Netflix on their laptops while eating a ready meal, embrace eating together as a family once more. By doing is as often as you can, you’ll find that you all get along better, feel more comfortable communicating honestly with each other, and have something to look forward to every day.

Choosing a Wedding Photographer

choosing a wedding photographer

Choosing the right wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions you will have to make in the run up to your big day. Wedding photographs will serve as a long-lasting memory of your big day; use Crondon’s wedding photography advice to ensure you choose your perfect wedding photographer.


Choose your style


Before you begin researching photographers for your big day, you first need to decide what type of photography style you prefer, as this will help you decide on the kind of photographer to look for.


Documentary style are candid or spontaneous shots of people, décor and action, as opposed to posing for a photo. Documentary style shots will often include guests digging into their food, family and friends dancing and bridesmaids with champagne in their hand. The photos will capture the moments exactly as they happen, in a discreet way too so people aren’t staring at the camera!


Portraiture focuses on traditional photography, with posed shots of family and friends in front of various backdrops. Some photographers will pose subjects in front of traditional spots like the lawn or the ceremony alter, whilst others may take photos in dramatic compositions, like the bride and groom lounging on the chairs in the reception.


Fine art is similar to documentary photography as they reflect reality, but they will be more dramatic and beautiful, with the appearance of being shot on a grainier, dreamier appearance.


Do your research


Read reviews from recent newlyweds and browse local listings, making an effort to carefully review potential photographers’ websites and blogs to see what their style is like. Make an effort to meet your potential photographers in person, and discuss the venue, wedding style and how you envision your photos to be.


See full wedding albums


Try not to base your decision purely on what you see in a photographer’s highlights album. Ask to see two or three full galleries from real weddings they’ve shot so you can have a better understanding of what your photos may look like.



Good luck hunting for your perfect wedding photographer!

Ditch The Decking – Why It’s Time To Scrap This Outdated Garden Trend

garden decking and wooden furniture

Replace Your Decking With Artificial Grass Before Autumn Sets In

It’s out with the decking as homeowners are becoming increasingly fed up with their high-maintenance timber platforms and prefer the functionality of a fake lawn.

It’s easy to see why decking has become such a popular choice for gardens in the UK. Made famous by makeover shows such as Ground Force in the early Noughties, decking is an attractive and cost-effective solution that is easy and quick to install, transforming a drab garden into a functional living space in a couple of days. The problem is that since decking experienced such a surge in popularity at the turn of the millennium, the novelty has now worn off.

The Downsides of Decking

Unfortunately, decking may be affordable, but it’s also quite high-maintenance if you’re looking for a look that lasts. As with any wood-made materials, it doesn’t handle the elements well and can quickly become damaged following a spell of either sunny or rainy weather. In fact, homeowners will need to regularly re-oil their decking to keep it in good condition, but depending on the type of wood used, bending and bowing are both problems that can occur.

Perhaps of more concern though, particularly if you have young children or elderly people living at home, is that decking can easily become a treacherous and slippery platform, particularly in winter following freezing conditions or even when wet leaves or other foliage falls on top of it. It’s important to keep children safe and stop them running on it in the colder seasons, which can be easier said than done. If your decking is in a dark, shaded part of the garden you are likely also to have to deal with moss cropping up which will need to be dealt with as this can also be a hazard when wet.

Pest Control

Raised decking areas also attract some rather unwanted guests to your garden in the form of rats and mice. Particularly where decking is raised up off the ground, the space between the timber and the ground can provide a cosy resting place during the winter months for rodents to hole up in and build their nests. Pest controllers advise blocking off all access routes and laying traps where appropriate to discourage and eliminate such a problem if it exists beneath your garden decking. However, a better option still would be to tear up this outdated garden material and replace it with something that is much more durable, functional and aesthetically-pleasing all year round – artificial grass.

Benefits Of Artificial Grass

According to a Suffolk artificial grass installer, a fake lawn can cope perfectly with the ever-changing British weather. As it is both water resistant and self-draining, there is no need at all to worry about an artificial lawn becoming swamped during a rainy season, nor will it be scorched during the hotter weather.

Fake grass can be enjoyed by all the family whatever the weather. If you have energetic family members who use your lawn as a football pitch or play area for their swing set and slide, then there will be no patches around a goal mouth or beneath any play equipment. Additionally, you can rest assured that no mud or debris will be trampled inside as the fake grass will stay dry.

Once installed, your artificial grass needs very little in the way of maintenance, aside from a bit of regular raking and the use of a leaf blower to remove any fallen foliage.

So, if you’re looking to revamp your garden space before the cooler season arrives and renders your decking unusable, then it’s time to fight back against this outdated trend and consider replacing it with an artificial lawn that can be enjoyed all the way through winter.