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02Jul

The soaring temperatures and hot weather in recent weeks have signalled that summer in the UK has well and truly begun, and with the hot weather, often comes the desire to get away from the city and enjoy Britain’s coastline and beaches.

Herts, Beds and Bucks are well situated for being able to quickly get to big cities like London, or out to the countryside hills in no time at all, however, in our landlocked counties, a trip to the coast whenever the mood takes you can prove to require a little more planning. Still, the coast is not too far away, so here are our recommendations for a few beaches which are easy to visit for the day when travelling from West Hertfordshire.

Southend on Sea, Essex

At 54 miles away, and a driving time of between an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half on average, Southend-on-Sea in Essex is actually one of the closest and easy to get to beaches from the West Herts area. Boasting sandy beaches and a pier, plus a “Golden Mile” of amusement arcades, Southend is often known as the “Blackpool of the South.” Southend also offers an “Adventure Island” amusement park with fairground rides and water slides, great for adults and kids alike, plus a Sea Life Aquarium Centre too. All you need for a great day out beside the Seaside!

Clacton, Frinton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex

Staying on the Essex Coast, the beach towns of Clacton, Frinton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze are all in close proximity to each other and easily reachable within a two hour drive of Herts. Whilst Clacton offers a taste of the more traditional British sea-side town including a traditional Victorian pier and Sea-Front Gardens, Walton-on-the-Naze offers prime sandy beaches, the second longest pier in the UK and slightly less tourists than Clacton. Then there is Frinton-on-Sea, which remains less commercialised and apparently has an air of reserved gentility about it too!

Southwold, Suffolk

Norfolk’s more easterly neighbour Suffolk is a slightly longer drive at between 2-3 hours, but for those who love a taste of “St Albans by the sea”, the wonderful town of Southwold (of Grandpa in my Pocket fame for those with youngish children) is the perfect spot. Southwold offers a quintessentially British taste of the Seaside, with a sandy beach, lighthouse, beach-hut lined promenade, plus a small town of independent quirky designer and artsy shops. Definitely worth a wander around on a summer’s day especially!

Brighton, Sussex

Whilst Brighton, down in Sussex may not boast sandy beaches, it is a great get away for the day if you want to visit a beach city! Brighton is often described as a mini London by the sea and is a diverse, cultural city with a quirky artistic feel.  Offering a pebble beach, the Brighton Palace Pier and a Sea Life Centre, Brighton is a great day out for adults, but also kids who perhaps aren’t so lured by the thought of a beach where they can make sandcastles all day.

Bournemouth, Dorset

Now if you want somewhere to build Sand Castles then Bournemouth in Dorset definitely fits the bill! At about 120-miles, a two-hour journey away, did you know that Bournemouth Beach is over 11 miles long! This means that there is definitely enough room for everyone on Bournemouth beach, and with an array of pier amusements, Beach Hut Hire, outdoor pursuits and water sports available, Bournemouth is a great place to visit for those who love the outdoor life!

So, whilst you may love the local area during the summer, if the lure to get away to the coast proves too much then hopefully some of these great beach options may appeal.

If you have any questions about living, buying, selling or renting property in the local area then we’re always happy to chat. 

31May

It’s one of the main things you might be looking forward to about your new property... your new garden! Perhaps even more so if maybe you’ve never had any outside space of your own before!

As summer approaches, thoughts naturally turn towards the outside space in our homes, so what kind of things should you be thinking about when considering the outside space in your new property?

1) Is the outside space useable and fit for purpose?

When viewing your prospective property, consider whether the outside space is useable enough in its current format, or whether it has the potential to become a useable space which works for you.

 

It might be that you want a nice lawn with some shrubs around the edge, or a great patio space with table and chairs to sit out of an evening. Perhaps your absolute non-negotiable is that there must be room for a trampoline, fish pond or maybe even some extra acreage for a pony! Whatever your needs, consider whether this space has the potential to work for you and balance it up with the potential of the property itself.

It’s also helpful to mull over whether your outside space can accommodate you as needs change throughout your life, or whether you know that this property is merely a temporary stop and not yet your forever home so it doesn’t need to be everything to everyone just yet!

2) Are you being overlooked?

Another question to consider is whether your new garden is overlooked by others and whether this is something which bothers you or not. You may be very used to being overlooked and so this is not something you would give a second thought to, or it might be that you are hoping to be a little more secluded, and you don’t want people peering in on you sitting outside with your morning coffee or evening glass of wine!

Whatever the case, give consideration to whether you mind others being able to see you in your outside space.

3) How green are your fingers?

It’s all very well dreaming of a garden which looks fantastic whatever the weather or season, but you definitely need the time, ability and expertise to be able to maintain this kind of garden, so it depends whether you feel up to the challenge! 

If you work full time, aren’t green-fingered or aren’t able to physically maintain your garden then it might make sense to either compromise on a smaller, more manageable space or to hire someone to come and maintain the garden regularly for you. If you want the space but aren’t too fussed about the greenery, you could also consider simplifying your garden by laying artificial grass or paving it over to make it a more manageable space to maintain.

4) Any External Factors to consider?

You may have found a wonderful property with a beautiful garden space that you can’t wait to put your heart and soul into, but do consider the location of your property and how much this location could affect you.

For example, does your garden back on to a railway line with potential hazards and noise from trains? Are you near an airport which means that you’ll be subject to extra noise during the summer? Both of these factors cannot be changed and may come to be something which means that you avoid using your outside space.

If you have animals or young children you may need a back garden which is safe and secure, so it could be that living near a busy or main road is off the table, or that you need a back garden which you know is secure for a small child or pet.

If you are a sun worshipper and dream of sunbathing in the garden or if you hate sitting out in the afternoon sun, then it could be helpful to find out the direction that your garden faces to work out whether the garden is a North Facing or South Facing garden. This will determine whether your property gets the sun in the morning or afternoon and can help you work out whether this is the property and garden space for you!

5) Room for Extras?

Are you planning on making your garden a useable space year-round by adding perhaps a covering, some decking, a Hot Tub or maybe even a garden office or annexe? If those are on your list of must-haves then it may be wise to do your research as to whether these are feasible additions and whether any building work will require planning permission prior to purchasing the property.

6) No Outside Space Available

Of course, it may be that your new dream property is amazing on the inside, but doesn’t offer you the outside space you are hoping for on the outside. In this instance, it can be helpful to look at either whether it’s feasible to add a balcony to your property, whether there is share tenants outside space available and whether any restrictions are attached to this, or whether there are any local green open spaces close to the local area, which can be great for getting out for some fresh air.

If you have any questions around garden space in your existing or prospective property then we’re always happy to try and be of assistance so please do get in touch with us!

 

 

30Apr

Life can move very quickly as years go by and families grow and change, and so it’s very easy to find yourself in a property which was perfect when you first purchased it, but which now doesn’t quite fit your living requirements.

It’s always the eternal question isn’t it… whether to move or improve, especially if you love where you live but you just want a bit more room.

So rather than uprooting you and the family for that extra bedroom or a bigger kitchen, the answer may be to extend your home. However, with any building projects, you should consider whether the work will add value to your home, or impact the value of your home and in a city like St Albans where space is at a premium, it’s always tricky trying to decide how to extend your home in order to have the space you need and add value to your property.

1.    Hire the Professionals

Involve an Architect and Builders from the get go as these professionals will be able to come up with inventive uses for the space and give you ideas that you may not have not previously considered. Get three different quotes before appointing an architect or building company. Ask for examples of work and to speak to former customers. An interior designer may also be able to give you some good ideas of how to maximise the potential of your space. 

 

2.    Add Creative Living Space at the back which brings the outside in

Anyone who watches Location, Location, Location will hear Kirsty and Phil talk a lot about “bringing the outside in”, meaning creating a space which offers a seamless transition from inside to outside, or which can be opened up to the elements when needed, and a great way to do this is through an extension to the back of the house into the garden. This extension could include bi-fold doors on one side, or even all around, which can be opened on Sunny Days for some al-fresco living, Sky Lights to create an extra airy, bright space or a space which can double as indoor or outdoor living space dependent on the weather! Extensions to the back of the house are a great way to extend a kitchen area or create a family or multi-purpose room and often make a very popular addition to any home.

 

3.    Extend Upwards or Downwards!

If extending outwards isn’t possible, then it may make more sense to extend above or below existing floor space, which could increase the size of your property by up to 50%!

Perhaps you want to create more bedrooms for family members, an office space for business or leisure, or even create a whole new self-contained apartment at the top of your property, all of these are possibilities with a loft space!

If going up above ground isn’t an option, then why not consider going underground and creating a basement or cellar room! Basement rooms are fantastic at absorbing noise, so they make a great option as a sound-proof room for budding musicians in the home, a family hang-out room for watching TV, Video Gaming, playing music or even a home gym!

 

4.    Utilise Garden Space

It’s helpful to consider how much land you have on your plot and whether you want to sacrifice Garden Space for living space, and if so how much you may decide that sacrificing six to twelve foot of garden space for a back extension is worth it, or you may decide that you value your outside space more. Also consider this in resale terms. Whilst you may love a shoebox garden with a large, imposing home in front of it, others may want a property which offers them better proportions of inside and outside space. Rather than extending for a bit more space onto the back of the house, adding a Garden Room or outside extension on another part of your land could be a good compromise, creating a separate useable space - perfect for a home office, sound-proof studio, or just somewhere to hide away for a little privacy in the busyness of life!

 

5.    Rebuild, rebuild, rebuild

If your property just really isn’t working for you and you want to create a home which is bespoke to your requirements, then you might decide to knock down your existing property and build a brand-new home from scratch on the land! This means that rather than moving to a new location, you can create a home that you love, in a location that you love too!

Do you have a more substantial piece of land? If you don’t mind forgoing some of your own existing space for a new property and new neighbours then it’s a great way to create an investment home to rent out or sell as an extra Income. You could even create a new living space for family members to live close-by!

If you need a trusted agency to help market a new property for you then of course, we are always happy to help!

In fact, we’re always happy to help try and answer property-related questions whether you are looking to move, or improve, so feel free to give us a call on 01727 221290 or pop into the office as we’d love to chat!

26Mar

At Aubrey and Finn, we love our pets, in fact if you pop into our office, you will often find our A&F resident mascot "Cricket" holding court, so we know what an important time moving home can be for your pets 

Moving home can be a stressful time for you, there’s so much to organise and get done, but knowing you are moving means that you can psychologically and emotionally prepare for the move. For pets, moving home can be equally stressful, and although you may be telling them what’s going on, they obviously won’t be in the know (as you are) that change is coming and when, so here are some tips on how to make moving home less stressful for your pets. 

Packing Boxes and Cases at the ready!

Some pets, dogs and cats especially, tend to get anxious and start to behave strangely at the first sign of a suitcase, especially if they know that this means that holidays or changes are coming, so in the weeks leading up to the move, leave the odd suitcase or packing box out in your home, so that your pet can get used to these items being around and they hopefully won’t feel as nervous around them when moving day arrives. 

Give your Pets a Moving Home Holiday

There will be enough going on during the move, without having to worry about your pets also, so if possible, why not send them off to have fun elsewhere. This will make life easier for you and hopefully also reduce their anxiety levels, especially if it’s somewhere familiar such as a friend’s house or the local Cattery or Kennels. You will also then have of the peace of mind of knowing they are being well looked after and safe. Let’s face it, the last thing you need on moving day, is your beloved pooch running around excitedly underneath your feet, or your pet cat or even worse your pet tarantula doing a disappearing act! 

Create a “Safe Zone” for your Pet

In your new home, create a safe space for your pet to acclimatise to their new surroundings, including somewhere where they can “hide” away if they need to. Find a part of the home where they can feel comfortable, or give them a cardboard box or their trusty bed. Then take their favourite blankets, toys or familiar items and place these in this area. Maybe also include a few treats for them to find too!

Keep Calm and Keep Routines

Changes around moving home are stressful enough, so it’s important to try and keep an animal’s normal routine in whatever location they may be in. Ensuring that they are eating and hydrating, going for walks, or having outside or cage-free time at a similar time each day can help your pet to feel reassured that their familiar routines are still in place despite their new surroundings.

Try to avoid any other large changes for your pet around moving day, including toilet or litter training, having your animal neutered, or any other big life changes. This may be easier said than done if the move involves a change in people living in the home, but hopefully by trying to avoid too many big upheavals at once, your much-loved family member will adjust to their new home more easily. 

Calming Measures

There are lots of products on the market which offer calming measures for your pet around stressful situations, including diffusers and sprays which mimic your pets’ natural chemicals and pheromones to help relieve stress and anxiety. Some owners may find these kinds of products are helpful for their pets and you could try these to help your pet to cope with any anxiousness towards their new environment. 

Get your Pets familiar with their new surroundings asap

Your four-legged friends may need time to get to know their new surroundings. Cats need to be kept inside for around two weeks after moving home. Dogs still need to get outside, but they need to get used to a new area. Ensure that garden and outside spaces are secure so that animals can’t wander off on their own in the early days. 

Taking your Dog for lots of walks around the local neighbourhood, or even your cat or bunny outside on a lead in the garden and beyond, in the early days, can help them to get to know their new surroundings, without getting confused and lost. Perhaps let them explore the garden first, before venturing further afield. 

For smaller furry friends, or reptiles, ensure that their new home is secure, properly set up and functioning effectively before placing your pet back into it, and give them time to adapt to their new surroundings. Making sure that they have opportunities for water and food at regular intervals can help with this.  

Find your local Pet Services

Spend some time researching the most convenient and best places to buy food and equipment for your pet in your new area, especially if you are moving a substantial distance. A pet’s health is very important to their owners, so finding a good vet in the local area should also be high up on your list of things to sort. Other services to look out for may include a local Cattery, Kennels, Pet Sitter, Dog Walker or Grooming Service. 

All they need is Love!

No doubt, it’s natural for your pet to feel a little anxious and unsure about their new unfamiliar surroundings when you move, so during this time, most importantly, they will need lots of reassurance from you. Giving them extra love, care and attention and being understanding if they resort to cheeky, attention seeking or anxious behaviours, will hopefully help them to feel that their new place feels like home in no time. 

At Aubrey and Finn, we’re always happy to help with any moving related questions, so please do pop into the office or pick up the phone and have a chat with us if you need any help with your next move.