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All Posts By Claire James

The Reasons for Choosing Home-Based Work?

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Remote work and freelance are gaining momentum. The new community has moved far beyond the times when the specialists must have been present at the office every day. The only thing workers need today – high-speed internet and a great desire to work. If you lack the motivation to start a career as a home-based writer, think over it carefully. This work gives you a lot of advantages: free time for household chores, travels, it’s a well-conceived economy of time and money.

At any time, you can take a vacation to another city and continue your work there. Moreover, remote work contributes to stress reduction. You don’t need to contact with superiors, annoying colleagues, and picky clients. One may seem that home-based work presupposes being a content creator for various entertaining websites. The position of magazine writer or journalist is still popular.

If you dream of being a professional magazine writer, you must be sure that you have experience in writing. Not many magazines are ready to hire the newbie and teach him all sorts of subtleties. The most important quality for you is flexibility. The writing style is usually different, so you’ll need to adapt quickly to changing requirements and conditions. If you feel ready for it, you can start searching for work.

How to Get a Position of Home-Based Magazine Writer?

Usually, HR-managers of journals have many years of experience and quickly determine suitable people for their vacancies. However, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have the chance to occupy the position. Your success depends on your desire and commitment. The first thing that you need is a portfolio with your articles. The magazines won’t consider the candidate without examples of his works. If you have working experience in an equivalent position, you may include your works, if no – write the articles by yourself, choosing an interesting and enthralling topic.

The easiest way to find a job is to create a CV on the website for finding work and respond to vacancies from magazines. The managers may find your CV by themselves and get interested in you as a potential worker. Maybe, you’ll be lucky to get an internship in a popular magazine, but don’t expect high wages. The internships are often unpaid or low-paid. The invaluable thing you can receive there is an experience. You’ll dive into the work process and see it inside. The writer’s task there is to do the best to impress the company and make them hire the writer on an ongoing basis.

There is also another way. You can go to the store and buy some magazine issues, which are interesting to you from the point of view of content, style, and pitch. Choose one and be sure that your style is similar to it. Each issue has the page with contacts, where you can find the email or phone number of the main editor. What you need is to contact the editor, talk about the possible cooperation, and discuss the details. You’ll be asked to send a portfolio or perform the test task.

The Keys to Success

The significant part of your success if the existence of college education or higher degrees in a related field: journalism, philology, or linguistics. Don’t matter what your style is far from magazine articles’ one. It is a common situation when magazines hire professional academic writers online. They have a huge vocabulary, deep knowledge of grammar, and syntax. Fact-checking and proofreading are also crucial among other skills in the writer’s work.

Seek to the developing of individual style. It’s not easy. At first, you’ll copy the style of other writers, it’s inevitable. The more you write and read, the closer you are to become the writer with your voice. Clearly define the circle of topics you’re qualified and proficient in. It’s impossible to be an expert in everything; you’re not a universal soldier. It’s better to have deep knowledge of several topics to write high-quality long-reads than spend a lot of time surveying the unfamiliar theme for a small article.

To get a work of a home-based magazine writer, you should be persistent. The world of writing is very competitive, and if you are a newcomer, you should be confident. No one editor will follow you and offer a place. There are a lot of magazine writers with huge experiences that are better than you. Get a grip, and don’t become discouraged after an unsuccessful job interview. The luck comes to the strongest. Ask any professional writer, how many attempts he did, and how many queries he send and how many hours he spent on waiting for a response.

Adhere to the deadlines. This quality is important for any writer. The clients and superiors respect those workers, who work for the result and do things quickly. Of course, there are situations, when due to certain circumstances, you pass the deadline, and the client can put himself in your shoes. However, if such situations happen constantly, you’ll lose your work. Such work will spoil the reputation and further career. Be persuasive and patient and you’ll become a professional.

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Loving the label!

How many times have you bought a product based on its label?

The choice of packaging and label design, colour and style identifies your brand, gives it a unique appearance and is there to attract attention. It distinguishes your product from your competitor’s.  It communicates directly with the consumer to present the product whilst also describing contents and providing instructions.

An attractively packaged product makes all the difference at the point of sale, this might be on the shelf but also increasingly on an online e-commerce platform.  So, as applies to most things, first impressions count for a lot. At we use the latest technology and techniques to bring your product label to life and help it stand out in the crowd, any shape or size is not a problem, we customise labels to fit any type of packaging.

You may have your label design already sorted or want our Design Team to come up with some ideas for you, either way we are happy to help with advice and solutions that include varnishes, lamination, hot foiling, embossing and spot colour, along with paper selection.

It’s also helpful to consider how the printed labels will be used in the production process.  If being applied to bottles for example, will labels be applied whilst the bottles are still wet, will there be condensation from storage and delivery solutions?  This will have a bearing on the choice of paper or polypropylene as the label base material.

Digital label printing means you can print several variations of a label in one print run, thus saving time, money and wastage.  You can include batch numbers, codes, sequential numbering and individual customer names.  Think Coca Cola or Nutella labels, for example.

Digital label printing is a perfect solution for food and beverage producers who have small or seasonal batch runs.  Labels for multiple flavours or varieties can be printed in one go and in run lengths to suit specific quantity requirements.

Flexibility is the key word with digital label printing, which means it can fit just about any budget.

Whatever type of label you choose here are a few general things to think about:

  1. Can you use a more unusual shape, a customised-cut label to attract attention?  Be sure to consider how this will work with all your brand sizes though.
  2. Engage with the customer. Try to include something that will resonate with the customer, it might be a healthy angle or environmental or even family related.  Highlight the positives
  3. Be clear and concise. Make sure you include all the important facts on the label, clearly and accurately and meet all health and safety guidelines.
  4. What does the label need to endure? Will your product be chilled in refrigerators, will the label need a protective coating? How will it travel and still stay in pristine condition.
  5. Production Runs. How much will you produce and how often? Will there be regular variations on the product as in different flavours?
  6. Can you give your label a bit of kick with a special finish?  This might be  hot foil stamping, a gloss varnish or a foiled badge.

Going digital makes sense, whatever your market and whatever type of statement you want to make, we can provide a label to fit.

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Taking a Funnel Approach to Ecommerce

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Let’s consider the function of a funnel for a moment. This simple tool helps you channel materials into a small opening while avoiding spillage. Broad on top and narrowly focused toward the end, this is also a useful way to imagine ecommerce conversions.

Read on to learn about taking a “funnel approach” to ecommerce.

Treating Ecommerce Sales Like a Funnel

The sales funnel is broadest at the beginning of the customer’s journey when people visit your website, oftentimes landing on your home page. At this point, you’re capturing 100 percent of total sessions because shoppers have entered your funnel just by visiting.

Each subsequent move down the funnel means your store will lose a percentage of followers; that’s normal. If it weren’t, your sales funnel would actually be a cylinder.

Next in the average ecommerce conversion funnel comes “sessions with a product page view.” This means people not only visited a landing page, but proceeded to view at least one product page—a promising first start toward making a purchase. About 44 percent of website visitors will make it to this step, according to data cited by Crazy Egg.

A subset of the people who browse at least one product page within your catalogue will proceed to the next step: sessions including an add-to-cart action. This group of people liked one or more products enough to add them to their shopping carts. About 14.5 percent of visitors make it to this point in the funnel.

The funnel narrows even more, however. Shoppers adding products to shopping carts are far from guaranteed they’ll actually buy those products. One thing you can do at this point is streamline your checkout process to remove hurdles standing between consumers and that “Confirm Purchase” call to action.

However, of all the people who entered the funnel, only 3.3 percent of them will make it through the bottom of your funnel: sessions with transaction. This means everything went right enough to warrant these visitors committing to their purchases and handing over their financial information.

Long story short: If 100 people enter your funnel, roughly three will emerge as customers. This underscores how important it is to optimise each step of the journey so you can retain as many visitors as possible and turn them into buyers.

Reasons People Leave Ecommerce Funnels

What is an ecommerce site? Shopify describes it as a place to facilitate commercial transactions online. But, as discussed above, only a small percentage of people make it to this point. Thus, your website must serve functions other than handling financial transactions—it must also provide information, accommodate a great user experience and convince people to keep moving down the funnel.

Understanding common reasons people leave ecommerce funnels before completion will help you eliminate sticking points and maximise user experience on your website.

Here are some reasons people drop out of funnels early:

  • Clunky or confusing navigation.
  • Hidden or overly basic site search.
  • Website appears untrustworthy.
  • Branding gets in the way of underlying onsite user experience.
  • Forcing users to sign in or create an account to check out.
  • It’s difficult to calculate prices and fees up front.
  • Shipping options are obscured.

Taking a funnel approach to ecommerce will help you optimise your website so you can capture the most conversions possible—and bolster customer loyalty.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Catering for Vegans

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Without question, the UK’s meat consumption is steadily declining. All over the country, diners are choosing to turn over a new leaf, cutting down on their favourite meats and instead deciding to eat lentil curries, falafel salads and all manner of plant-based dishes. Whether this is due to health reasons or to help animals, there’s no questioning the fact that veganism is on the rise.

Recent figures from The Vegan Society show that there are currently around 600,000 vegans in the UK, equating to roughly 1.16% of the population. While this may seem like a relatively small number, these figures signify an increase of more than 400% over the past five years, with almost half of all vegans making the change in 2018.

By the end of this year, more than 3 million Brits are expected to go vegan, according to a recent VoucherCodes survey. Of course, this is why it’s so important to find food wholesalers who can help you cater to this growing demographic and put together some truly mouth-watering meat-free dishes.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

Not so long ago, the majority of UK establishments struggled to cater for vegans. In fact, the very notion of turning vegan was often met with outright derision and astonishment, with caterers often finding difficulty in providing completely meat-free and dairy-free dishes. Somewhat inevitably, the majority of these dishes usually entailed a few scraps of tofu and a bit of salad.

However, these limited, unimaginative options are no longer good enough. Fast forward to 2019, and caterers are now placing an emphasis on providing vibrant, creative and downright delicious recipes for vegans to try. Those sad scraps of tofu have made way for loaded sweet potato skins, mouth-watering pizzas and all manner of dairy-free treats.

While vegans may have become accustomed to being afforded just a solitary option, caterers are now dedicating enormous parts of their menus to meat-free dishes. Instead of opting for those bland vegan dishes of the past, caterers now need to be much more experimental in their recipes, putting together meals which are packed with flavour and leave vegan diners desperate for more.

Meat-Free Substitutes Are Evolving

Although the thought of creating such imaginative dishes may seem a little overwhelming, the variety of meat-free options is widening by the day. In fact, due to advances in technology, these vegan substitutes are continuing to evolve and becoming more sophisticated, with meat-free burgers and sausages now bearing an incredibly close resemblance to the real thing.

The sudden rise of lab-grown meat is undoubtedly allowing caterers and chefs to become much more inventive in their cooking, while developments in vegan cheese and milk have opened up entirely new realms of possibility. No longer restricted to serving up chunks of dry falafel, chefs can now provide vegans with juicy burgers, sizzling curries, macaroni cheese and so much more.

Once you remove any milk, egg or yogurt from the cooking process, you can create a larger, healthier and more cost-effective vegan menu.

Don’t Forget About Vegetarians

While seemingly every restaurant, pub and takeaway are busy rustling up some sort of innovative vegan option, a certain section of UK diners has become somewhat neglected. Although vegetarians obviously look for meat-free options when they’re eating out, this doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be forced into going completely dairy-free.

Make no mistake, just because you’re catering for vegans doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got vegetarians covered as well. Ultimately, this means an ideal menu will target both of these demographics, perhaps by adding regular cheese and other dairy products to your existing vegan options.

Vegan ‘Grab and Go’

In 2019, the ‘grab and go’ food trend looks set to reach whole new levels. Since the average professional now feels increasingly rushed and busy, many people now prefer to pick up quick bites to eat on the way to the office, instead of preparing meals at home beforehand.

However, despite a string of high-profile restaurant chains adding dishes to their menu last year, there’s still a real lack of quick, convenient options for vegans to work into their busy lifestyles. A recent survey from The Vegan Society found that 91% of vegans struggle to find adequate ‘grab and go’ options, presenting caterers with a real opportunity to target this particular demographic. In fact, the whole idea behind ‘grab and go’ is to provide people with much healthier, nutritional fast food options, so any vegan snacks you can provide are bound to appeal to an incredibly wide audience. Either way, catering to vegans doesn’t just make sure all your diners are completely satisfied, it also presents a fantastic commercial opportunity and helps you stay ahead of the competition.

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Conrad Gallagher’s Aura Hospitality Takes Home Three FACT Dining Awards

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Aura Hospitality & Food Services took home three FACT awards at the recent 2019 FACT Dining Awards held in Doha on the 7th of April 2019. The group, which manages various food and beverage outlets both owned and franchised, was honoured in three categories: Favourite In-Mall Restaurant in Doha for Sazeli Qatar, Favourite Qatari Restaurant in Doha for SMAT Restaurant, and Best North American & Caribbean Restaurant in Doha for Diner Station. AS CEO of Aura Hospitality, Conrad Gallagher was highly instrumental in the achievements leading to the awards being presented. Conrad Gallagher has since moved on to open his own food business.

Fact Dining Awards

The FACT Dining Awards were inaugurated in 2015 to celebrate and honour excellence across a variety of categories in the hospitality industry. The 2019 event was the fifth annual awards ceremony and took place in an outdoor location, Iris, in Doha’s Sharq Village & Spa. There were a total of 74 awards presented over 36 categories, with more than 200 venues covered. Hosted by FACT Magazine, the awards are part of a wider initiative from FACT M.E., which hosts a series of annual ceremonies in cities across the Gulf Cooperation Council. The FACT Awards brand is widely recognised across the region as the premier benchmark for excellence within the food and beverages industry.

Aura Hospitality & Food Services

Aura Hospitality & Food Services has a strong presence in the food and beverages industry in the GCC, managing both franchised and fully owned outlets. The offering is wide-ranging, including fine dining restaurants, cafes and coffee shops within the portfolio. Aura Hospitality provides quality assurance, high standards of monitoring and management, and consultancy services in support of its business partners.

Conrad Gallagher

Conrad Gallagher is an award-winning Irish chef and restaurateur, initially inspired by his family to enter a career in cooking. Gallagher trained in Ireland and has worked under some of the world’s top chefs in some of the most prestigious food destinations, including the Plaza Hotel and the Waldorf Astoria’s Peacock Alley in New York. He has established several of his own bars and restaurants during his career as well as working in a consultancy capacity for organisations including the Sun International Group in South Africa. Among other career achievements, Gallagher starred in TV3 Ireland’s Head Chef TV reality shows and worked as a consulting executive chef for the Old Towne Orange venue of Ways & Means Oysters in California.

Follow Conrad Gallagher on Twitter for news and updates.

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Wine Pairing: Everything you need to know

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Trying to successfully pair wine and food is a difficult and challenging task that see’s many people take a vastly different approaches.

There are the people who don’t care at all about what they are eating and drinking. “Food is fuel. I eat what I want. I drink what I want. Grab the bottle that’s closest to you and let’s get some grub inside of us.” Then there are also the people who are looking for the ultimate food and wine pairing, who want to take their time to taste every beautiful mouthful and wash it down with the perfect flavour alongside their meal.

Wine can be daunting. There are loads of wine-producing countries, hundreds of grape varieties, thousands of regions and many thousands of producers. But just because wine is often daunting to the newcomer doesn’t mean you should be intimidated.

If you would like to find out more about the best foods to pair with your wines, read on.

Match the food and wine flavours

Consistently match flavours in the wine with flavours in the food. If the wine has a smoky or oaky aroma, then serve it alongside a smoky meal that will complement its taste. If the wine has a hint of dark berries, then make a sauce that contains similar berries in order to match the wine and the meal. Pairing wines and food is all about making tastes that match that people will be ab le to appreciate..

Opposites attract when matching your foods

If you have learnt anything from the Chinese, it’s that sweet and sour complement each other very well. You will be able to create a beautiful meal by pouring yourself a large glass of beautifully sweet and fruity wine alongside a salty dish for dinner.

High tannin complements fat

If you decide that you want to have a quick glance at your wine racks made of oak and retrieve a bottle that has high tannin, then a nice pairing is to serve foods which fatty proteins, like duck, to balance out all of the fats and acids with  it. Keep all of the sauces condensed and well-cooked as too much alcohol highlights the tannin. Low tannin wines work well with light white proteins.

High acidity matches acidic foods

If you have decided to serve a wine with a rather high acidity. You may want to make a meal with an equal amount of acidity to compliment the dish. This means not using too much salt so you can highlight the wine and compliment it nicely.

Heavy wine with heavy foods

The perfect pairing with heavy wine is, naturally, heavy food. The golden rule is that the heavier the wine is, the heavier the food can be. Heavy wines are perfect pairings for meat, roasted or in stews. Meats like wild boar will stand up to a heavy wine.

Delicate wine with delicate foods

Similarly to foods that work well with heavy wine, delicate wine, that you may serve on a wine tasting display rack, needs delicate food and cooking. All food that is going to be eaten with alongside delicate wine has to be simple. Deep fried meals can ruin a delicate wines flavour. Make sure you know what delicate foods pair well with delicate wines as you can make a mistake quite easily.

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How Coffee can help you Shed That Excess Weight

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Its official, nutritionists are now claiming that our beloved coffee may be able to help you lose weight! You consume cup after cup of that bitter black nectar at the break of dawn every day to help you get through the morning blues, but it could also be helping you to shed those few extra pounds.

Apparently, if you consume a cup of coffee every morning before breakfast every morning, it will not only boost your concentration and levels of energy, but it will also aid weight loss. This is due to the fact that your daily cup of coffee can help boost your metabolic rate, by stimulating thermogenesis, helping you in turn to burn more fat. It also happens to contain chlorogenic acid, which helps to slow down the absorption of It That Must Not Be Names (carbohydrates). It also stimulates the hormone epinephrine, which helps the body to break down fat and prevents your body from storing so much of it. So if there are any coffee vending machines  at your place of work, it might be worth moving desks near it so you can drink at your will.

The caffeine in just one cup of coffee can boost calorie burning by four percent over the course of two and a half hours. Not bad for a nice cup of molten. Make sure to avoid all of the added sugars and creams in order to reap the full benefits that coffee can provide. That means that black coffee is probably your best bet.

It’s now time to burst your coffee-related bubble in terms of how far this affects you and how often you can drink the dark nectar. It goes without saying that you’re not going to reap any benefits if you are necking milky lattes, cappuccinos and triple shot Frappuccino’s with extra whipped cream and chocolate sauce (as if I even had to mention that one, right?).  Fatty and sweet coffee’s like these will, of course, add more calories to your system than it will be able to burn and is therefore void when mentioning how coffee can help you lose weight. This article is, therefore, aimed at people who enjoy a steaming cup of bitter black coffee in the morning.

You should not read this article and start necking coffee’s like there is no tomorrow though. Drinking too much coffee will diminish its fat burning benefits and make you immune to its powers! You, therefore, have to drink wisely and drink enough coffee to feel the effects, but not enough that you become immune!

And you really do have to drink it first thing in the morning – otherwise the benefits are diminished.

So there you have it, if you are a massive coffee fan and fancy losing a few pounds in weight, it could be a useful little gem of knowledge if someone ever comments on your coffee obsession!

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5 Ways Your Mattress Affects Your Sleep Quality

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The right mattress can make all the difference between a refreshing night’s sleep and a night that’s spent tossing and turning, searching desperately for a comfortable position to sleep in.

On average, most store-bought mattresses are designed to provide seven to 10 years of good quality support and comfort. Despite this, many people continue using their mattresses for far longer, affecting everything from their quality of sleep to their posture and general health.

Below, we’ve listed five ways your mattress can directly affect your sleep quality, from the level of support it provides for your body to its comfort level, cleanliness and more.

It provides support for your back

As we covered in our post on the best mattresses for a bad back, choosing the right mattress can have a significant impact on your posture, spinal health and general wellbeing.

A good mattress should help to keep your back straight and supported at night. If you sleep on your back, your mattress should provide enough firmness to keep it straight and health, letting you wake up feeling fresh and ready to start the day.

On the other hand, a poor quality, overly soft mattress can let your back sink into your bed too much, leaving you with limited support and a higher risk of developing soreness.

It provides a fresh sleeping environment

Over time, dust and debris can build up in your mattress, making it less hygienic than it used to be. This is particularly common if your bedroom is a dusty environment with limited exposure to the outside air.

While this might not seem like a big deal, it can have an impact on your respiratory health and general wellbeing. A good mattress should support your sleep quality by providing a clean and dust-free sleeping environment that helps you avoid coughs, sore throats and illness.

It prevents you from tossing and turning

While it’s normal to spend a short amount of time getting comfortable before you fall asleep, if you toss and turn for an hour or longer on average before falling asleep, it could be a sign that your mattress doesn’t provide the level of comfort and support you need.

When your mattress isn’t a good fit for you, it can feel impossible to find a comfortable sleeping position. This is a good signal that you might need a firmer (if you sink into your mattress a little too much) or softer (if you feel pressure on your joints or back) mattress.

It should provide the highest sleep quality

Do you notice yourself sleeping better in hotel beds than you do in your own? While it might not seem like a big deal, this can be a reliable sign that your mattress doesn’t provide the right level of comfort to give you a good night’s sleep.

In general, your mattress should provide the highest quality sleep for you personally. If you find yourself sleeping better in other beds, it’s usually a reliable signal that you need to change to a more suitable mattress, or consider an add-on such as a mattress topper.

It should offer more than enough space for you

Finally, your mattress should provide enough space for you to sleep comfortable, without ever feeling cramped or confined.

If you find it difficult or uncomfortable to fully extend your legs while you sleep, it’s a good sign that your mattress is due for replacement. This is common for people in their late teens or early 20’s, who might have grown in height since they first started using their mattress.

It’s also important to have enough horizontal space. If you don’t have enough space to roll over or extend your arms while sleeping, it’s worth considering switching to a wider bed and mattress for a higher average level of sleep quality.

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Legendary restaurateur Catling reveals shock new launch

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The man behind some of the nation’s most celebrated bars and restaurants is set to unveil a surprise addition to his portfolio, deep in the stunning South Cambridgeshire countryside.

The Belle, located in Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth, a beautiful village just outside the market town of Royston, will open in March of this year. 

The restaurant comes blessed with the Midas touch of David Catling, the genius who counts the Pitcher and Piano, the Jazz Cafe and the Reading Festival amongst his success stories.

“This is a really exciting moment,” said David Catling.

“A huge amount of passion and time has gone into creating somewhere special that people will be excited to visit yet feel relaxed as soon as they step in the door.”

The glamorous launch will be an exciting addition for the local area.

David Catling has used his muscle to secure sumptuous, specially-commissioned artwork for the Belle from world famous artist Terry Bradley.

“The best bar in the world is regarded as the Dead Rabbit in New York,” revealed Catling. “It is a fabulous bar and it is well known for the Bradley artwork. I’ve had the same artistic genius create some special pieces for us.”

The venue was keen to establish a strong identity based on the designs and was inspired by history. 

“Belle was named after the Memphis Belle,” said Catling. “A Second World War bomber station close to the venue. The artwork at the original Belle public house was very masculine. I wanted to change this to something that reflected the spirit and link to the Memphis Belle, the painted lady icon on the front of the bombers. Terry Bradley has now created ‘Belle’ for us, a burlesque woman similar in style to the original 1940’s Memphis Belle. It looks stunning and adds a real stylistic theme to the venue.”

The Belle customers are set for a culinary treat, Catling’s reputation for producing the finest cuisine has been well earned.

Perfection is the key demand for all his outlets.

“We’ve created a menu that will change with the seasons, using the finest British ingredients but with an exotic twist to reflect the vibrancy and flavour of the Mediterranean and also the Middle East. Ingredient selection, using only the finest suppliers, is always crucial for me. Alongside that we’ve meticulously compiled a vast selection of beers, spirits and exotic cocktails. With over 100 different gins to try customers will be spoilt for choice – as they should be.”

The Belle is set to open on the 14th March.

Bookings can be made directly here:

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Diet, vitamins and preconception care

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If you are about to start planning for a healthy pregnancy, understanding the essentials of preconception care is a good starting point. What you eat and do to your body in the months before you conceive affects the lifetime health of the child born, so learning evidence-based information about diet and lifestyle factors that affect fertility and pregnancy is an important strategy in protecting the health of your baby.

If you are unsure of where to start, speaking to a fertility nutritionist might be a good idea, since they can assess your current health, as well as determining whether you have the key nutrients needed to boost the chances of conception.

Planning ahead

Ideally, allowing two years before conception to optimise your health, weight and nutrient status is recommended for couples who have time to plan and aren’t constrained by external circumstances. The more time you allow to improve your health, the better the outcomes are likely to be.

Often, by the time patients visit an IVF clinic, time is more limited and specialists advise allowing at least three months to prepare for IVF treatment where possible.

Why is preparation important?

For women, optimising your health and weight means that your eggs will mature, ready for ovulation (or collection if going through IVF) in a healthy environment.  This improves outcomes, including reducing the chance of miscarriage and preterm birth.

Likewise, for men, it means the sperm that is constantly being produced in the testes are as healthy as possible.  Remember that it is a combination of good quality eggs and sperm that together affect the chances of conceiving and going on to have a healthy baby.

Having routine blood tests and ensuring adequate levels of key nutrients is important for both men and women, as well as following a programme of healthy eating and sensible exercise.

If you are deficient in key nutrients, you are likely to need more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) to return levels to normal, so knowing your starting point is always helpful.

Many women will enter their pregnancy with low levels of iodine, iron, vitamin D and other essential nutrients, which can affect the pregnancy and the long-term health of the child. However, with simple dietary changes and using the right supplements, nutrient levels can easily be improved.

What foods should I be eating?

The Mediterranean diet is a good guide in what to eat to prepare for pregnancy, for both men and women.  This includes healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, oily fish and olive oil, plenty of vegetables, including cooked tomatoes (cooking them increases the bio-availability of the antioxidant, lycopene, that gives tomatoes their red colour), and high quality protein, including lean meat, beans and pulses.

Avoiding sugary, refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pasta, and replacing them with complex carbs, like wholegrain pasta and brown rice, is recommended. Moreover, avoiding alcohol and smoking is always advised against when trying to maintain a healthy body and mind.

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