I have recently written another blog for Quick Move Now that I thought would be perfect to share with all of the parents out there who read our blog.
It was written at the time when saving our humble bumble bee was top of the news agenda but it struck me that building a little house for our buzzy friends might be a great way to keep the children occupied this half term.
So here is a quick summary. As always, you can read the full blog here
"Just this week the European Commission has agreed to restrict the use of pesticides linked, by scientists, to the decline in the world’s bee population.
The nionicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees, which are vital to the ecosystem, with wild honey bees said to pollinate about one third of the world’s crops.
The dramatic downturn in the number of our buzzy friends is one of the main reasons companies are now coming up with a ‘plan bee’ and creating roof gardens on their high rise office blocks to accommodate bee houses.
But you don’t have to work in The City or have a ten storey building to join the fight to save the humble bumble.
Different bees have different needs when it comes to a home – pretty much like us. Bumble bees need a box, about the same size as a small bird box, with two compartments.
One side should be filled with wood shavings for the queen to breed in, while the other side should be left empty for the rest of the bees to live in.
Many of the other hundreds of types of bees require a box filled with hollow pipes as their house. Small bamboo canes, cut to length, are very effective, and the bees will lay their eggs one at a time along the cane.
Bees like to be warm and sheltered, so the houses are best put in a south-facing position, but not in direct sunlight.
As well as building a home for the bees, you could also grow wild flowers and leave piles of leaves and soil untouched in a quiet part of your garden or roof terrace. Bees like to have food on their doorsteps, so placing the bee house next to a wild flower garden would be perfect."
I hope this gives you some inspiration to get outside with the little ones this half term and if you can do something for the environment at the same time, then that's a great added bonus.
This week sees the third annual Global Virtual Assistants’ Week.
VAs from all over the world have been meeting up and networking as they celebrate being part of a fabulous industry.
Today (Thursday) is the start of a three day Online International Virtual Assistants’ Convention, here VAs join together for training, networking and seminars.
The hope is that the week, which culminates with an International Virtual Assistants’ Day Celebration on Friday, will help raise the profile of the industry around the world and make business owners aware of the benefits of working with virtual assistants.
It also gives people the opportunity to speak with fully-fledged VAs before they decide whether to join the industry themselves. Learning more from those already doing the job is the best way of
working out if it is the right thing for you.
Are you considering becoming a VA? Go on, take that leap today! And be assured there are plenty of people out there willing to offer you advice and help every step of the way.
Are you already enjoying the benefits of working as a VA? Share your experiences with us and let everyone know what a great job it is.
Occasional Assistants are pleased to introduce new member, Danii Adamson, a Newbury-based Virtual Assistant who specialises in Document improvement.Danii delivers outsourced business support services on either a contract or ad hoc basis. Specialising
predominantly in Virtual Assistant and Document Improvement services, she helps other small-but-perfectly-formed businesses to concentrate on what they do best, namely serving their customers.
Whilst business success brings its own demands, not every growing business wants to take on staff
to manage the non-core aspects of keeping the business ticking over. Recognising this, Danii offers
a range of business support services designed to enable business owners and managers (or simply those with busy lives) to select only the support they really need, to pay only for what is actually done, and to benefit from an increase in productive time to focus on driving their own businesses
Danii also has a specialist knowledge coupled with over 15 years of experience in Event
Management and has planned and organised events and seminars for up to 3,000
For more information and to contact Danii visit her full profile page below:
Will networking help my small business?
Which networking events should I attend?
My name is Beckie, and I am not
a natural networker.
Let me clarify, I love networking through Twitter and other social media channels but walking into a room full of people and starting an actual, physical conversation fills me with sheer terror. However, I’m a firm believer in stepping out of my comfort zone, feeling the fear and doing it anyway, so today saw me attending my first Business Biscotti meeting in Hungerford, Berkshire.
As it turns out, entering the building was by far the hardest part. Once I’d done that, Ambassador Michelle was there to greet me and offer introductions, but in the end none were needed as by the time I had acquired my first cuppa, I was already deep in conversation with weight loss pro Ashley and Angel Investment advisor Mark. People were friendly, interesting and informative, time flew and I left wondering whatever I had been worried about.
I’d urge all small business owners to give it a try. Business Biscotti (www.businessbiscotti.co.uk
) is a free networking community that actively encourages members to offer advice, share tips and build strong meaningful business relationships with each other; a great philosophy as far as I am concerned. In the space of just one hour not only had I boosted my own self-confidence but I’d also learnt of a new Government scheme for small businesses: Time well spent in my view.
So now I have the networking bug, what’s next? We have a number of other events on our radar but if you’re a seasoned networker please do offer recommendations for regional and national events in the comments section below. You won’t just be helping me, the likelihood is that you’ll also be helping the many other small business owners who are equally daunted by the networking field and wondering where to start.
Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope to bump into you, business cards in hand, over a coffee and bacon roll sometime!
Please click here to find out more about Beckie Holmes, Founder of Occasional Assistants
I recently wrote this blog for a client of mine, Quick Move Now
, highlighting some of the most family-friendly historic houses around the country.
With the Bank Holiday weekend nearly upon us (and half term not too far away either!) I thought some of you may find it interesting reading.
Enjoy, Sarah Bosley
While a trip to one of Britain’s beautiful historic houses over the Bank Holiday may fill you with dread, there are now a host of settings that offer a wealth of educational treats for the children – and coffee shops for you.
The acres of gardens and parkland they are set in also gives little ones somewhere to run free and burn off some energy before you head home again.
Now the sun has finally got his hat on, a trip to one of the country’s hidden historical gems could
be a great day out for all the family.
Here we pick our top five favourite historic houses to visit with the children. For more details on each of the houses, read my blog in full here
.Hampton Court Palace, London
This Tudor home has a horrible history linked its most famous owner, Henry VIII, and there is plenty to do and explore for all the family.
With more than 60 acres of parkland to explore, including that world famous maze, you could be some time at Hampton Court!Longleat House, Wiltshire
This magnificent house provides the perfect mix for a great family day out.
Enjoy the splendour of the Elizabethan historic house, with its ornate ceiling, and look out for the blood-stained silk sleeved waistcoat worn by King Charles I at his execution. And once the children have enjoyed enough history for the day you can move on to visit the safari park, with a new gorilla attraction.Harewood House, Leeds
There is plenty for all the family at this Georgian house, where they make learning about history fun.
Children can venture ‘below stairs’ and find out what life was really like for the servants of an historic house, while the Bird Garden and the Observation Beehive bring them closer to nature. Tatton Park, Cheshire
This historic Victorian estate sees a host of family-orientated activities provided within a landscaped deer park.
The 1930s working rare breeds farm gives children the opportunity to see what rural life was like in the 1930s and with a play trail and animals to feed, it is a real hands-on attraction.
Cliveden, Taplow, Berkshire
The list wouldn’t be complete without this beautiful Berkshire house. Not only because of its intriguing links to scandalous British politicians, or because it is a favourite wedding destination of famous
footballers, but mainly because this blog author – like many others of my age who grew up in the area – was actually born within its grounds.
A number of new family trails have been added around the grounds, featuring a different theme every month, and a woodland play trail offers a new place to test your climbing, balancing and den building skills around every corner.
Occasional Assistants' member, Natalie Weaving, offers her tips on the five most effective ways to optimise a blog post.
"I do love blog posts that are inspired by a question on twitter or Facebook. This in one of those blogs and covers the five most effective ways to optimise a blog post to help you get the most out of your website's SEO.
1. Make you content reader friendly and key phrase rich! Key words are so yesterday, how many times have you simply Google“cleaning company”? It's now about phrases. You tend to Google a more specific phrase such as “cleaning company Basingstoke” so make sure that the most obvious key phrase you would be searched under is not only in the blog post, but also:
a. In the heading
b. In the first paragraph
c. Mentioned again in your ending paragraph
2. Your permalinks (URL) is optimised with a key phrase. So rather than your URL being www.typefacesocial.co.uk/post-2645
make sure its www.typefacesocial.co.uk/how-to-optimise-a-blog-post
3. Your images have completed alt tags with your key phrases and two complimentary key phrases ie: replacement windows company in Basingstoke (main) UpVC windows Basingstoke, double glazing company Basingstoke
4. Your Meta description is unique, has a call to action and is not more than 170 characters long. An example format could be: BLOG TITLE – COMPANY NAME – For more information on our PRRODUCT/SERVICE please call 00000 000000
5. Finally to increase the chances of comment (if your blogs allows) by finishing with a question and have a way to share via social media. Both help with SEO.
I hope you found this 'optismise your blog' post helpful and please do get in touch if you have any suggestions on topics that you would like to be featured. For more information on how to optimise your website please do get in touch
Continuing our series of guest blogs, here our relocation expert, Henrietta Garrety, offers her top tips for moving.
"Rent before you buy?
Many people choose to move to an area for a host of reasons, but a majority of young families with children about to start school choose the school and then think about the area they need to be within. This could be because of a short drive to school or to be within a school catchment area.
Perhaps buying a property in an area you don't really know much about is not the answer, perhaps renting is? It is felt by many that renting a house is just wasted money that could be going towards a mortgage, but buying a house in an area that turns out to be wrong for you could be just as costly. The average move costs can be over £20,000 for a £400,000 house once you pay stamp duty, estate agent fees, solicitors fees etc. this can turn out to be a very expensive mistake.
Renting within a new area can have many benefits. You are usually only committed to a 6 month contract, with a months notice period. This gives you flexibility.
Benefits of renting:
1. Actually living in the community and getting to know the dynamics of where you are.
2. Meeting neighbours and local people who can give you first hand advice on the area.
3. Having the ability to get involved with your new school and parents. It's much harder to be involved if you live a long distance from the school.
4. The ability once renting to be able to find the local facilities and gain local knowledge from people for things like the local electrician, handyman, gardener.
5. Commute, one or both parents may need to commute to work, does the area work in this respect?
6. Being in a great position to purchase a property once you have decided this is where you want to be.
7. Once you have purchased a house or plot you may need to do extensive work. By being in a rental property already in the area you have bought in, you can stay where you are and manage the work on the new property or a new build project more effectively.
Many popular villages and roads within towns and cities can be incredibly difficult to buy in. Houses are not so readily coming onto the market for sale but renting is a way to be where you think you want to be and trying it before you buy. Buying a property is one of the most important decisions in your life and can affect so many future decisions. Maybe renting is not such a bad option and worth
Move out of London is a property search and relocation company who specialise in helping families move to the West Berkshire, North Hampshire and Wiltshire areas. The founders of the company have a wealth of local knowledge and over 10 years experience helping people move to a new area.
They are able to offer property and rental searches and assist families moving and settling them into the area."
To contact Henrietta click here
A NEW magazine has got one of our members very excited, so we thought it was about time we heard all about it too.
"I've been very happily working alongside one of my clients, the Newbury BID (Business Improvement District), on an exciting new magazine project recently.
"The BID, which is a business-led and funded body formed to improve a commercial area, is currently producing the first ever edition of a high quality, glossy magazine, which will be spreading the word about all that is great in West Berkshire.
"The 48-page full colour magazine will be put in all the hotel bedrooms in the district and will be published quarterly. You can also grab a free copy at any of the Newbury Building Society branches.
"The first edition is out now and is already packed with some fantastic features, really highlighting the wealth of fantastic stuff we have going on right on our doorsteps.
"The main interview in this edition is with two canoeists, who will be taking part in the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon.
"The gruelling 125 mile race along the Kennet & Avon Canal and the River Thames will take place over the Easter weekend and Newbury is one of the overnight stops. Both the interviewees are hot contenders for the title.
"Inside the magazine you will also find all the latest fashion and what’s on across West Berkshire throughout the spring.
"There is a special spread on the Newbury Spring Festival and a piece looking back at the history and forward to the future of one of West Berkshire’s theatrical gems; the Watermill Theatre.
"This is a great opportunity for newcomers to the area to see and hear all about our businesses and will prove a fantastic advertising tool for all of us.
"You can find out more by logging onto www.newburybid.com
or look out for the new magazine "
Occasional Assistants already boasts a host of the best PAs around. Here one of them - Natalie Day - shares her top tips for being a great PA.
"I love being a PA.
I get to do some very exciting things – I was once given the job of organising and co-ordinating a breakfast seminar at the Private Members Club at The Ivy in London, just two weeks after starting the job!
After the initial heart-stopping fears, my organisational instincts kicked in and everything went perfectly.
It was after this first taste of a huge, and hugely successful event, that I realised there are three main things you need to be a first class PA.
1 – It goes without saying, that to be a great PA you need to be organised! And time efficient. At one point in my career I was working for three Directors (and 14 Planners). One was based in London, the other in Brighton and the last, but definitely not least, was based in a small village outside Ipswich. Juggling different diaries can be tricky especially when one Director would suddenly fly
off to China for a week or two and then you've got different time zones added to the mix!
2 – Forward planning. When working for a variety of clients I always find it helps to be ahead of the game. By working a week or two in advance you have allowed yourself some breathing space for if and when things crop up that you just weren’t expecting.
3 – Communication. Never underestimate the importance of communication. In our busy lives it is so easy to email or text someone what you want or need. But taking the time to sit down and talk to someone face to face or on the telephone, can make such a difference to your working life. When you are someone’s PA, it really is important in building a relationship with your colleagues to take the time to discuss their needs and requirements. It also helps you plan ahead and makes their diaries look less shambolic.
So, do you agree, or can you think of any other qualities that you believe are more important?"
For more details on Natalie Day, click here.
Occasional Assistants is pleased to announce the further expansion of our business support services.
We now feature members who are able to provide small businesses with auditing and compliance support. Compliance Officers work with business managers and company staff to identify, manage and prevent risk by reviewing and implementing standard procedures and ensuring adherence to
New member, Sadie Owens is an experienced Compliance Analyst who offers a wealth of experience including past business reviews and monitoring visits with the FSA, Chinese wall policy implementation and conflict checking with Barclays Capital, and undertaking a best practice
compliance monitoring programme with State Street Bank. Sadie holds the ICA UK Diploma in Compliance and can provide assistance with company policy and procedural reviews and staff compliance training.
Sadie is also an accomplished Administrator who offers general admin support on a freelance
basis. She has meticulous attention to details, is a diligent worker and is particularly experienced in minute taking, report reviewing and proof-reading.
For more information and to contact Sadie directly, please click here