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Thursday, 29 September 2016

Greece Is The Word - Why You Should Choose Greece For Your Next Family Holiday

In south eastern Europe, across the water from Turkey, lies Greece and the Greek Islands. Greece continues to be one of the most sought after destination for vacations. Read on to find out why Greece is the last word in family holidays.

Image credit: Nikos Roussos

The Aegean Sea

First of all, one of the biggest pull of all those little islands is that they are situated in the beautiful Aegean sea. The Aegean sea is like the ocean that you see on postcards. It's blue and deep and surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches and quaint little towns. It’s also so clear that you can see the fishes and marine life that surrounds you in the water.

In fact, in most places, the weather is so good and the current so favorable that the sun actually gets the chance to warm up the water. This makes it more like a pleasantly warm bath, instead of the freezing endurance test we are used to in the UK.

Another huge boon for taking the family to Greece is that many Greek beaches slope slowly away into the sea. This creates warm shallows in which the kids can play and swim. They can also learn to snorkel here and check out the underwater activity that is common at that shore line.

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Of course, food is a major part of any family holiday. If you are concerned that there won't be enough choice for your little ones, don't worry. In fact, there are a lot of English style dishes on offer that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.

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However, it's unlikely that you’ll need to resort to pie and chips as the Greeks are known for their excellent cuisine. Many a holidaymaker has returned from the islands having realized that they do in fact enjoy all sort of culinary delights and the Mediterranean Diet is recognised as being extremely beneficial for the health conscious, with the possible benefit of a longer life too! Fruits and vegetables such as Kalamata olives, tomatoes and pepper are all sweet from being grown in the glorious sun. So your kids may return home with a far more sophisticated palate than when they arrived.


Accommodation in Greece varies in style and type depending on your needs. There is bed and breakfast accommodation in places such as the local taverna or hotel rooms in towns like Lindos and Lardos, suitable for couples or friends sharing. Then there are plenty of self-catering apartments for families in the larger centers of the islands like Rhodes or Mykonos town. Or if you are looking for more privacy then you might choose one of the Santorini villas on offer, most of which include a private pool.


If your little ones get bored, easily there is plenty to see and do in the Greek Islands. There are plenty of long coastal walks to pretty villages on most islands that you can do. Or what about visiting a live volcano or some ancient ruins?

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There are also plenty of water sports to take part in. Jet skis can be hired from stations on the larger beaches. Or how about taking a day trip on an old-fashioned sail boat. One of the highlights is getting to jump into the ocean from the deck, but be warned the sea isn't always quite as warm that far out!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Common Ear Problems And What You Can Do About Them

If you have ever had a problem with your ears, you’ll know that it can be tough to deal with. You are in pain and there's no escape as it's right there in your head. 

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If you are struggling with hearing loss, you may be trying to mask it. But it is important that you speak to your doctors and find out what the underlying cause is.

There are many different problems you can suffer with in your ears, and many can be treated or the symptoms at least alleviated. Read on for more information about some of the most common of these - and what you can do about them.

Ménière’s disease 

Ménière’s disease is a fairly rare condition, the cause of which is still unconfirmed. It occurs in the inner ear and causes bouts of dizziness and vertigo. Other common symptoms include tinnitus or ringing in the ears. Attacks usually last around 1- 3 hours, but the after-effects can be felt for up to 24 hours, and sufferers often need to stop and rest in order to feel well again.

For sufferers, Ménière’s can be debilitating. They never know when it will strike, and it may cause  severe attacks of dizziness and vomiting at any time. This is very stressful for the sufferer and can understandably lead to depression or anxiety as well. It can cause problems for them in all parts of their lives. This can result in a large amount of time off work, difficulty travelling and socializing.

Scientists believe that the cause may be problems with pressure in the inner ear or issues with the membrane of the ear. A more specific explanation of what happens during an attack is still being researched.

Treatment for Ménière’s differs depending on your practitioner. Some doctors advise relaxation techniques including Yoga or Tai Chi. Some people find relief in guided meditations during an attack. In America, the newest treatment is a device that pushes air pressure into the ear which seems to stop the dizziness.

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Other things that may improve the condition include changing your medication as some are known to produce the symptoms of the disease. A change in diet is also often recommended, for example cutting out sodium (salt).

Extreme cases may result in surgery - although patients will have gone through balance retraining and other techniques before they get to that point.


Tinnitus or ringing in the ears is a symptom of Meniere's disease, but it can also occur on its own. Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a sufferer. It might not sound too bad if you haven't got it, but try to imagine what it's like to have a constant high pitch whining in your ears that you can do nothing about.  It is incredibly frustrating.

Image Credit: Coty Schwabe

It is more common in people over 80 years of age, but anyone can develop the condition. It's often linked to hearing loss, although Tinnitus doesn't cause it.  Many younger people today are beginning to suffer from tinnitus through over exposure to loud noise at rock concerts, festivals and in clubs.

There are several types of tinnitus.  The most usual kind is when the sufferer hears a whooshing, ringing or roaring in the ears. Pulsatile Tinnitus is when the sound pulses in time with your heartbeat. Suffers may also have musical hallucinations, when the sound appears as fragments of songs or music.

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Whichever type you think you have it's important that you see your doctor for some advice on how to deal with this condition.

There are several things that we know can cause tinnitus. One is inner ear damage, which can be due to age, self-inflicted or due to a work related injury.

It is now even possible to seek advice from companies like UKClaim Lawyers about this and to apply for compensation which can then be put towards treatments to hopefully improve the quality of the sufferer's life.

Other causes include a build of wax, anemia, diabetes and hypertension. It can also be a result of blood vessel issues and neck and jaw problems.

Your doctor may recommend a range of therapies that may help you cope with tinnitus. Firstly, CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy should be considered. Although not a cure, it is designed to help you reframe the problem and find working solutions to cope better with it in your daily life.

Secondly, hearing aids with noise devices (maskers) may help, as these can cancel out the noise that you are experiencing in your ears. Many tinnitus sufferers also use white or pink noise to drown out the sound at night, which allows them some peace and makes it easier to get off to sleep.

Tinnitus is a frustrating disease with no real cure and most of the therapies involved learning to live with the problems. They center finding relief where you can and dealing with the emotional and mental fallout. This is why many sufferers are referred for relational training and counselling.

Ear Barotrauma

Ear barotrauma or stretched ear, is a condition which occurs when the air pressure in the middle ear and the ear canal is unequal. This causes the eardrum to bend inwards, which can lead to bleeding, bruising pain or even a rupture.

This can occur due to a blockage in the eustachian tubes. which normally help to regulate the air pressure in the ears. They let out additional air to the middle ear when necessary but if they get blocked for some reason, this does not happen and the ear drum can be damaged.

Ear barotrauma is only an issue when you experience air pressure changes. So diving, flying and other activities where your ears can pop should be avoided. These include travelling by tube and climbing at altitude, which can be risky if your eustachian tubes are blocked.

Blockages in the eustachian tubes can occur from tumors, scarring, and infections like colds or allergies. If you are suffering from a cold or allergy and have to do an activity where you will subject yourself to a change in air pressure, your doctor will recommend a decongestant. You can also chew or suck sweets to help alleviate the pressure or do specific exercises which will balance the pressure in your ears.

Ear Infections 

Most of us remember having an ear infection as a child and the pain from these can be very severe and very unpleasant. They can be caused by either bacteria or a virus and there are some things that can lead to an increased susceptibility to infection in the ear. These include smoking, inflamed adenoids, colds and sinus infections. There is also a condition called swimmer's ear which is caused by residual water in the ear, which helps bacteria to grow.

Depending on the type of infection a range of treatments may be prescribed by your doctor. Ear drops are a common solution to swimmer's ear. If you smoke, then you will be asked to stop. Antibiotics can also help if it is a bacterial infection.

You can prevent further infection by keeping your ears dry and away from infection carriers such as your fingers. It is essential to keep your ears as clean as possible. It is also important to remember that cotton buds should not be inserted into the ear canal. They are just for clearing the outer folds of the ear. By inserting them into the canal, you can introduce bacteria that will then develop into a full blown ear infection.

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There is also a risk that inserting them too far may puncture the ear drum leading to lasting damage.  Don't do it!

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is something that many of us expect to experience with age. However, it can occur for a number of reasons at any time in our lives.

There are two main types  - conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. There is also a third which is a combination of the two.

Conductive hearing loss is caused by damage to the ear, so the sound waves are not passed to the inner ear effectively. This can be due to a blockage, a tumor or a build-up of wax.

Sensorineural hearing loss is the type most seen as we age, and is due to the destruction of the tiny hairs in the ear drum that pick up and amplify sounds. It can also be caused by trauma such as a very loud noise like an explosion.

Before hearing loss can be treated effectively, it needs to be identified and classified by a health professional. This is because there could be a number of underlying reasons why your hearing is deteriorating. Without knowing what the causes are, treatment is unlikely to be successful.

It could be that the sufferer has a perforated eardrum, Meniere's disease or meningitis. There is even a condition where skin clumps in the ear and effects hearing called cholesteatoma.

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Each cause will need to be looked individually and treated appropriately. Some people can benefit from a hearing aid, especially if they have Sensorineural hearing loss. Others will need surgery, and some may need to find a way to cope with the loss of their hearing to continue to lead happy lives.

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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Puddles Win Prizes - Submit A Photo Of Your Favourite Puddle To Win Great Cash Prizes

If you consider yourself a bit of a dab hand with a camera and see beauty even in the pouring rain and the dank, drizzly landscapes the UK offers, I have a fabulous photography competition for you.

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Image Credit:  Shutterstock

So get the macs and kagools out, get the kids in their wellies and enter Welly Foods "Puddle of the Year" photography competition.  The people at Welly, the British cooked meat brand, are looking for your pictures of your favourite puddles.

Puddles are something we Brits are very au fait with and have themselves had many a celebrity moment. 

From the comic never ending puddle on the Vicar of Dibley, to the recent Dame Joan Collin’s puddle war on Twitter, it is time they were celebrated.

As Richard Morris, Welly's marketing controller says; “As a nation we are used to endless rain so it is time we faced facts and celebrated the wet British weather. Through Puddle of the Year we want to encourage people to grab their wellies and see the beauty in the great outdoors. We look forward to seeing the selection of photos entered.”

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Image credit:  Shutterstock

The Prizes

There are some amazing prizes on offer:- 

Public - £500 and hamper of Welly Foods (meat products) 1 (one) winner
Children (school) - 1 (one) school will win £1000 of camera equipment 
Children (family) - £200 and a hamper of Welly Foods (meat products) 5 (five) winners
Professionals - 1 (one) x £500 and a hamper of Welly Foods (meat products)

How To Enter

There are 3 categories open for entry:- i) general public, ii) children and iii) professionals

You need to submit your puddle photo on the tab on the Welly Facebook page, leaving your contact details and indicating which category you are entering.

Don't forget you must have the consent of anyone appearing in your photograph and if you are photographing animals, you'll need the consent of their owners before submitting your shot.

ENTER HERE:  wellypuddleoftheyear.co.uk 

Once approved, your photo will be displayed on the gallery.

The photographs will be judged by Adrian Brooks, award winning photo journalist and WELLY marketing controller Richard Morris.

The competition runs from 26th September to 31st October.

A list of the prizes can be found on the Facebook page.  You can find terms and conditions here.

The promoter of this competition is Welly Foods.

Good luck with your puddle photography!

Win An Extra £50 With Mother Distracted When You Enter Puddles Win Prizes

Click Mother Distracted on the drop down "where did you hear about the competition" tab to qualify for my own mini puddle competition.

Once you've done that then enter via the Rafflecopter widget below for a chance to win a bonus £50 (one winner).  This prize will be supplied by Welly Foods once your entry has been verified.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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