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LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

PROPERTY NEWS

FEBRUARY 2021

SEEDS TO SOW AND BULBS TO BUD TOP GARDENING TIPS FOR THIS MONTH VALENTINE’S DAY SET THE MOOD AT HOME THIS YEAR

BLOCKBUSTER SOUND CREATE THE PERFECT HOME CINEMA SETUP

THE FUTURE IS AUDIBLE HOW WE CONSUME DIGITAL CONTENT HAS CHANGED

FITNESS AND WELLBEING HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF IN LOCKDOWN


CONTENTS COVER STORY

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Seeds to sow and bulbs to plant It’s time to prepare the ground for summer blooms and crops

PROPERTY

4 16 25

Home entertainment system Helpful tips for upgrading your sound system Our latest instructions Take a look at a selection of our latest properties on the market About us Get to know our team a little better and see why we are your agent of choice

FOOD

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A romantic night in Treat your partner with this spectacular Valentine’s dinner

LIFESTYLE

2

Designing your Valentine’s day Celebrate at home with your significant other

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Audible Books Reasons to be encouraged by this new style of literature

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Valentine gifts for pets Wonderful ideas for your pet on this special day

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Positive vibes Things we can do to give ourselves a lift at this difficult time

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What is Shrove Tuesday? What is it? Where does it come from? And what happens?

SPORT

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Six Nations Championship As the countdown continues England maintain momentum

WELCOME TO THE FEBRUARY ISSUE! The year hasn’t kicked off the way most wanted it to, but we have made it to February. The property market has had a huge start this year, and estate agents are busier than ever. In this month’s magazine we will be showing you how to treat your significant other with a Valentine’s day at home guide alongside some sumptious recipes for the special evening. It’s not just your partner we’re showing some love to; we also have the best treats for your pets, and for yourself, a guide to keeping mentally healthy and physically fit while spending so much time at home.

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PROPERTY NEWS

And, while you’re at home, why not treat yourself to the perfect home cinema system with our guide to the hottest tech to bring the blockbusters to you! Venture outside as the weather slowly gets warmer and we have a guide of what seeds to sow and blulbs to plant this month. Top this off with a look at the future of books with our guide to Audible and audiobooks; the history of Shrove Tuesday and finally a preview for the Six Nations. Most of all though, take care, be safe and stay positive this month. Jonathan Wheatley Editor

To the one

I love

FOOD

A huge part of the celebrations of Valentine’s Day is the role that food plays. From decadent titbits to homemade comforts, food should not be underestimated in its importance to the day as a whole. Let’s start with the morning’s offerings. Why not treat your partner to a good, old-fashioned breakfast in bed? But just because it’s breakfast, that doesn’t mean that it should be predictable. Cupid’s Tip: Why not splash out on a waffle-maker and make your partner some homemade goodies? Based on your partner’s preferences, you do know those, right? Choose between sweet and savoury, and for a more comprehensive list of waffle-themed ideas, visit ‘delish.com’ for their recommendations.

o


ROMANCE AT HOME:

DAY

one

It’s the most romantic day of the year. And what better way to celebrate than at home with your significant other

DESIGNING YOUR

DIY VALENTINE’S

Now onto the really important meal of the day - dinner. Often, Valentine’s Day dinners can come with a great amount of pressure to get the perfect table, at the perfect restaurant, at the perfect time. But this year, make sure you aren’t disappointed, and take matters into your own hands! Construct your own, personalised menu, and treat the pair of you to a meal catered exactly to your liking. ‘Goodhousekeeping.com’ offer easy-tomake recipes for a variety of cuisines, including a decadent cheese-beer fondue for fans of French/Swiss cuisine, or a wild mushroom risotto for those of the Italian persuasion. And if you want to go a step further, why not organise to cook together? As well as creating your perfect meal, this can be a great activity for couples to bond over.

EXPERIENCES

And speaking of activities, let’s look at some other ways to fill your day with that special someone. Start with getting creative and do some crafts. If you’re one of those couples that have managed to print off photos of your memories together but haven’t done anything else with them since then, then get hunting for them and design your own scrapbook of your favourite moments. Alternatively, you can look to make romance-themed practical objects. For instance, if you have unwanted mason jars, then you could use these to create votive candle holders, with the addition of only glitter and card. Or, if you happen to have firewood which is going spare, then why not cut these down, and create your own coasters? These are great ways of doing something rather unusual. However, if you don’t have a single creative bone in your body, then let’s explore some other ways of spending quality time with your other half. Nothing quite says ‘I love you’ like freshly-baked goods, so choose to go all out on the food front this year. If you want to make something which is a visual statement, then bake some Valentine’s cupcakes adorned with decadent pink and red icing, or popping candy and sprinkles if you fancy something more playful. And if you’re looking for something to complete your day with, then why not organise a movie night? Pick your favourite romantic film, get the blankets down, set the mood in your room with candles, and unwind together.

GIFTS Another great pressure of Valentine’s day is finding the perfect gift for your partner. So, to ensure that you don’t fall short on the present front, here are some thoughtful DIY ideas. If your partner is a fan of relaxation, then get some candles, and through online tutorials at ‘helloglow.co’, customise them with your initials and other heart-shaped decorations. This technique can also work with other items, such as mugs or tea towels, and is great for adding personal touches to everyday items. Or if your partner loves nothing more than to unwind after a day of life’s stresses, then make their day with some homemade bath bombs. There are plenty of online recipes to instruct you to make whatever shapes you wish, and it is a great way of adding a level of luxury to your gifting this year, whilst also using ingredients that you might already have in your cupboards.

LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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PUMP UP

THE VOLUME Does your telly pack an audio punch to match the picture quality? If not, it might be time to invest in a surround-sound system or a new soundbar

H

ome entertainment system. Three words to send a geek into overdrive and an uninformed consumer into meltdown. Sure, you’ve lashed out and bought a nice big, shiny 4K ultra high-definition TV that’s got all the bells, whistles and whatnots and can change its ambient lighting by shouting at it. Sure, the picture is fantastic, and the definition is awesome. But the sound is… well, puny.

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PROPERTY NEWS

Next, consider the features and what you will be viewing most of the time. Many modern soundbars have wireless subwoofers, Bluetooth connectivity, 4K-friendly HDMI outputs for games consoles or 4K Blu-ray player-enabled HDMI outputs. Some even support Dolby Atmos, which takes the longstanding surround-sound concept and gives it more oomph, providing big cinema sound in a smaller space. With that in mind, investigate the Sonos stable. The Beam,

It’s not a surprise Manufacturers are making televisions so thin, so lightweight something has to give, and as TVs are judged on their visual capabilities, it’s generally audio quality that is lacking. So, if you have moved into a nice new home with the acres of space you were craving, perhaps it would be wise to set aside a little of the money earmarked for Stamp Duty and invest in a decent sound

system to create the immersive experience your TV deserves. The obvious starting point is a soundbar, but before you start looking, be sure of your dimensions. They will either sit in front of the TV or just below it if wall mounted, so you don’t want to partner a bar that is so wide it overhangs the set or is so small it is dwarfed by the screen.

It’s not a surprise Manufacturers are making televisions so thin, so lightweight something has to give, and as TVs are judged on their visual capabilities, it’s generally audio quality that is lacking.


rated by many industry insiders as the company’s best soundbar yet, is small and adaptable, and packs an impressive three-dimensional sound with a surprisingly beefy bass, which more than offsets a bit of a background hiss at volume. Its spec sheet includes voice-control assistance from Amazon’s Alexa and supports the Dolby 5.1 format. The Sonos Arc, meanwhile, is fully compatible with Dolby Atmos and is the perfect partner for a 4K of more than 55ins. It uses 11 drivers to create a soundfield which puts you at the heart of the action and is nicely balanced if you just want to listen to music. Similarly, the Yamaha YSP-2700 offers a compact way to get the

full surround-sound experience into your home with the bar and wireless subwoofer providing a gutsy solution for movie buffs who will relish the 7.1ch effect. However, it does not support Dolby Atmos, unlike Sony’s HT-ST5000, which has a high feature count and makes film soundtracks totally immersive – put simply, if you want to watch Saving Private Ryan, fetch a tin-hat first. If you have deep pockets, a biggish room and a sensitive ear, go all-out on the Sennheiser Ambeo – excellent dynamics, sumptuous sound – but beware: to deliver a sound

that rich without a subwoofer means a soundbar that is 14cm tall and needs to be positioned perfectly for the best effect. Of course, you may have just moved into a barn conversion or have a vast open-plan living space you want to fill with sound. In which case, a full-blown surround speaker system is the way to go. There are obvious things to consider - such as trailing cables and whether you want to rearrange the furniture to accommodate it – before weighing up whether you want a 5.1 system (five speakers, two pairs of either floorstanding or standmount, plus one central) or a 7.2 (adding back speakers behind the main seating position, plus an extra subwoofer).

With that in mind, What Hi-Fi? named the Dali Oberon 5 5.1 Speaker Package their product of 2020 and its not hard to see why. “Lean, attractive and unfussy… are words equally apt for both the aesthetics and acoustics”, they said of a system with a full, warm sound “that brings the best out of any soundtrack”. Less bulky, yet almost as powerful, is the Q Acoustics 3050i 5.1 Cinema pack, a versatile bundle with an intense sound, while the sixth generation of Monitor Audio’s Silver series, the 200 AV12, has a clear balanced sound which is immense for both surround and stereo.

If you have deep pockets, a biggish room and a sensitive ear, go all-out on the Sennheiser Ambeo

LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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THE FUTURE IS AUDIBLE The ease with which we consume digital content has changed rapidly in the past decade

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nd this phenomenon has even reached something as physical as reading. Those who are loyal to the physicality of a novel might be sceptical about audiobooks, but there are plenty of reasons to be encouraged by this new style of literature.

THEY’RE AS EFFECTIVE AS BOOKS

A study, reported by Time, has shown that audiobooks have no negative bearing on an audience’s understanding of the material. Different participants were given the same material to listen to, or read, and when quizzed afterwards, there were no clear signs that one group had understood any less of the content. In a further study, different groups of participants either listened to, or watched blockbuster films. They found that those who listened to the audio versions had a higher heart rate and body temperature, which suggests a more intense emotional response to the material.

BOOKS STILL SELL Something reassuring for those who prefer physical ‘the real thing’, is that it doesn’t appear that audio content is causing an impact on the sales of physical books. A report claims that there are different audiences for different types of content, so the two don’t overlap too much. The report goes on to state that those who listen to audiobooks tend to be a

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PROPERTY NEWS

lot younger than those who don’t, and claims that, on average, those in their 20s or 30s are the biggest consumers of audio content. Interestingly, it also suggests that audiobooks are bringing in new audiences who would not have previously read books. So this can only be a good thing for the world of literature.

THE PERFORMANCE

With the boom that audiobooks are experiencing, they, themselves, are being immersed into popular culture. For example, audiobooks now attract A-list celebrities as narrators. For instance, Elizabeth Moss narrated The Handmaid’s Tale, and Michelle Obama provided the voice for her own memoirs. On top of this, a top publisher has stated that there are certain audiobooks which would never have been made if not for added technological capabilities. He points to Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris’s book The Lost Words, which is a collection of poems. As a result of the opportunities which audio content provides, the makers were able to create individual soundscapes for each poem taken from recordings in the wild.


LOVING AND BRILLIANT GIFTS FOR YOUR PET

Your pet means the world to you, show you mean the world to them too with a treat this Valentine’s Day

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e love our pets. They listen to us and they never argue back, which, as the unconditionally loving companions they are, makes them especially peaceful to have by our sides. In fact, studies show that three in 10 adults claim that their cats and dogs are better listeners than their other halves, and that over a third of people generally prefer their pets to their partner. Furthermore, 29% claim that their cat or dog is better at snuggling than their partner, with 44% of owners even going as far as to say they prefer to cuddle up with them rather than with their significant other. So give back this Valentine’s Day!

DOGS Shock absorbent leash. A gift your dog can really benefit from, ensuring much more comfort for the animal and much less chance of your four-legged-friend having their shoulder pulled out of their socket.

RABBITS

Dog wellies. Not only will these prevent wet and muddy paws, but also act as protection against any sharp and nasty objects they might accidently step on outside.

Woven grass pet bed. Play tunnel. Heart-shaped salt licks.

Orthopaedic gel memory foam dog bed. Dogs need their beauty sleep too, and in fact require 12-14 hours of sleep each day/night, so a great bed would provide real quality of life for a dog. Top three customer-rated dog toys on Amazon: • https://tinyurl.com/y9agvpsy • https://tinyurl.com/y77ljtx5 • https://tinyurl.com/y8ohhyj2

CATS Pet tote bag. Ideal for travelling, these bags will guarantee comfort and convenience for both you and your cat, typically with an open slot for the cat’s head so they can see the world as they travel. Cat wheel (treadmill). A portion of cat breeds are of particularly high energy, so something like this would be a perfect way for your cat to get their hyperactivity out of their system. It’s also a lot of fun for your kitty! Self-cleaning cat box. Both you and your cat will enjoy not having to deal with a dirty cat box each day with this product, as all you need to do is cover the disposable litter tray, toss it, and insert a fresh one.

GUINEA PIGS AND HAMSTERS Play or digging tower, or play bridge. Climbing nature house. Exercise wheel.

Top three customer-rated cat toys on Amazon: • https://tinyurl.com/y9ka67zz • https://tinyurl.com/ya2r4cu3 • https://tinyurl.com/y9sqfne5

LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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TREAT YOUR KING OR QUEEN THIS VALENTINE’S DAY Treat your partner with this spectacular Valentine’s dinner, perfect for a romantic night in!

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ake Valentine’s day extra special with our gorgeous menu featuring a delightful starter, an impressive main course and a sumptious dessert.

STARTER – REALLY EASY CHEESE FONDUE Ingredients 125ml white wine 450g gruyère, grated 450g cheddar, grated 50ml kirtsch 1 heaped tsp cornflour small baguette, torn into chunks, to serve Method Heat the wine in a heavy-based saucepan, then add the cheese, a handful at a time, and keep stirring. When all the cheese has melted, add the kirsch, followed by the cornflour, stirring until completely smooth. Serve the pan in the middle of the table on a wooden board with the chunks of baguette for dipping.

Images for illustrative purposes only Recipes from www.bbcgoodfood.co.uk

Images for illustrative purposes only

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PROPERTY NEWS

Recipes from www.bbcgoodfood.co.uk


DESSERT – CHOCOLATE FONDANT Ingredients 50g melted butter, for brushing cocoa powder, for dusting 200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces 200g butter, in small pieces 200g golden caster sugar 4 eggs and 4 yolks 200g plain flour Caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream or orange sorbet, to serve

MAIN COURSE – STEAKS WITH GOULASH & SWEET POTATO FRIES Ingredients 3 tsp rapeseed oil , plus extra for the steaks 250g sweet potatoes , peeled and cut into narrow chips 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves 2 small onions , halved and sliced (190g) 1 green pepper , deseeded and diced 2 garlic cloves , sliced 1 tsp smoked paprika 85g cherry tomatoes , halved 1 tbsp tomato purée 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder 2 x 125g fillet steaks , rubbed with a little rapeseed oil 200g bag baby spinach , wilted in a pan or the microwave Method Heat oven to 240C/220C fan/gas 7 and put a wire rack on top of a baking tray. Toss the sweet potatoes and thyme with 2 tsp oil in a bowl, then scatter them over the rack and set aside until ready to cook. Heat 1 tsp oil in a non-stick pan, add the onions, cover the pan and leave to cook for 5 mins. Take off the lid and stir – they should be a little charred now. Stir in the green pepper and garlic, cover the pan and cook for 5 mins more. Put the potatoes in the oven and bake for 15 mins. While the potatoes are cooking, stir the paprika into the onions and peppers, pour in 150ml water and stir in the cherry tomatoes, tomato purée and bouillon. Cover and simmer for 10 mins. Pan-fry the steak in a hot, non-stick pan for 2-3 mins each side depending on their thickness. Rest for 5 mins. Spoon the goulash sauce onto plates and top with the beef. Serve the chips and spinach alongside.

Method First get your moulds ready. Using upward strokes, heavily brush melted butter (use 50g in total) all over the inside of the pudding mould. Place the mould in the fridge or freezer. Brush more melted butter over the chilled butter, then add a good spoonful of cocoa powder into the mould. Tip the mould so the powder completely coats the butter. Tap any excess cocoa back into the jar, then repeat with the next mould. Place a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, then slowly melt 200g good-quality dark chocolate and 200g butter, both chopped into small pieces, together. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for about 10 mins. In a separate bowl whisk 4 eggs and 4 egg yolks together with 200g golden caster sugar until thick and pale and the whisk leaves a trail; use an electric whisk if you want. Sift 200g plain flour into the eggs, then beat together. Pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture in thirds, beating well between each addition, until all the chocolate is added and the mixture is completely combined to a loose cake batter. Tip the fondant batter into a jug, then evenly divide between the moulds. The fondants can now be frozen for up to a month and cooked from frozen. Chill for at least 20 mins or up to the night before. To bake from frozen, simply carry on as stated, adding 5 mins more to the cooking time. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Place the fondants on a baking tray, then cook for 10-12 mins until the tops have formed a crust and they are starting to come away from the sides of their moulds. Remove from the oven, then leave to sit for 1 min before turning out. Loosen the fondants by moving the tops very gently so they come away from the sides, easing them out of the moulds. Tip each fondant slightly onto your hand so you know it has come away, then tip back into the mould ready to plate up. Serve with a squeeze of caramel sauce and a scoop of ice cream.

LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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POSITIVE

VIBES Mental health experts say there are several things we can do to give ourselves a lift at this difficult time so here is our guide to keep your spirit’s lifted

A

nd so, here we are again. Lockdowns are fast becoming the norm for our COVID-crippled communities, but unlike before there’s no summer, no Christmas on which to focus. Lockdown 3.0 wan announced in the gloom and cold of winter - a season that can be tough for many under normal circumstances – and the respite of warmer days and lighter evenings seems a long way off. However, there are many things we can do to make sure we reach the promised land of spring in good shape.

GET OUT

Any outdoor activity at this time of year may seem a bit daunting, but doctors agree it is an ideal way to boost your mood. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins into the bloodstream – producing a feeling of well-being – as well as increasing electrical activity in the emotionprocessing areas of the brain, preventing the risk of anxiety and depression. It also produces a protein crucial to brain health, so even a short period of exercise which exerts the body, such as a

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PROPERTY NEWS

brisk walk or a cycle ride, will be beneficial. Dr Brendon Stubbs, from King’s College, London, says: “Think of it as brain fertiliser – it helps parts of your brain regenerate.”

DON’T THINK ABOUT IT

People often dwell on problems or difficulties, allowing negative thoughts to dog their lives. But while it’s normal to worry, many fears never materialise. The key is to shift focus from worries to practical problemsolving, and Prof Jennifer Wild, from Oxford University, says: “If you’ve been worrying about a problem for 30 minutes or more without coming up with a plan of action, it’s time to stop.” Exercise is a good way to break those trains of thought. While it’s perfectly normal to worry, humans have, over time, become highly tuned to negativity and danger. “It’s over-encoded in our brains,” says Prof Wild. “You can make yourself much calmer if you recognise you are overthinking. Stop and focus on facts.”


NEW GOALS

Setting a new target, whether it be something as grand as learning a new language or trying a new recipe, can be beneficial. Learning new things is generally how we acquire self-worth and keeps us motivated. Stepping outside your comfort zone helps you to focus and brings a sense of control.

GO FOR IT

Don’t think twice about doinsomething, even if conditions suggest you’re not going to get the best results, says Olivia Remes, from Cambridge University.

“Novelty is fundamentally rewarding,” says Dr Dean Burnett, a leading neuroscientist. She says: “Our inner voice of criticism stops us “Learning to do new things is frequently how we doing worthwhile things, so acquire self-worth. Goaljump straight into action. Do motivated behaviour is one things and accept they People often dwell on of the most fundamental might initially be done badly problems or difficulties, ways we operate.” – most of the time, the

IT’S GOOD TO TALK

allowing negative thoughts to dog their lives. But while it’s normal to worry, many fears never materialise

results are not that bad and they’re almost always better than doing nothing.”

Maximise the little social contact that is available. Humans are social creatures, so isolated people are more likely to focus on themselves, going over small problems in their heads until they become issues.

That way, she believes, we can encourage ourselves to be optimistic and accept life’s not all down to things we can’t control.

“We’re not really designed to be on our own. We feel better with social contact,” says Prof Emerita Elizabeth Kuipers, of King’s College, London. “Isolated people are more likely to focus on themselves and that can make things worse.” Talking things through can help reframe problems, and if lockdown means you cannot do that in person, make that phone call or arrange to talk online.

She also recommends writing down three things a day which we are grateful about, forcing ourselves to focus on what’s gone well and why. This stimulates the left-hand side of the brain which is associated with positivity, and she concludes: “Emotions are contagious – steer yourself away from negative, miserable people who are constantly complaining because you could be come one of them.”

LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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WHAT IS

SHROVE

TUESDAY?

WHAT IS IT?

WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?

WHAT HAPPENS?

To put it simply, Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent - an event, which takes place over a period of forty days, replicating the forty days of hardship when Jesus was stranded in the desert. The religious period is observed by many Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Roman Catholics.

The meaning of the word ‘Shrove’, comes from the past tense of the verb ‘to shrive’, which means to give absolution after hearing confession. Therefore Shrove Tuesday is the last day to make confession before the period of Lent. The alternative name to Shrove Tuesday, and perhaps the more common title nowadays, is ‘Pancake Day’.

Traditionally, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, which is associated with self-denial and abstinence. Therefore, Shrove Tuesday is treated as the last day to celebrate and indulge before this period. As produce such as eggs, fat, and milk were traditionally foods which could not be eaten during the period of Lent, pancakes became a suitable snack to make out of the leftover foodstuffs so that food did not go to waste.

So, Shrove Tuesday is known as the last day to clean the soul before the self-restriction of Lent begins. Historically, people would go to church in order to be repented for their sins.

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The Christian period of Lent will soon be among us. And with Lent, comes Shrove Tuesday. But what is it? Where does it come from? And what happens?

PROPERTY NEWS

This name supposedly originated from a story from Olney in Buckinghamshire when, in 1445, a woman who was making pancakes heard the church bells and ran out of her house with a frying pan in hand. This started the tradition of a pancake race in the town, which has been an annual event ever since.

The earliest pancake recipe in England dates back to the 15th century, so it could be possible that Christians have been successfully (or unsuccessfully) flipping their pancakes, and competing in pancake races for over six hundred years.


& GLORY

HOPE

The Six Nations is back with England keen to maintain momentum as the countdown to France 2023 continues

SCHEDULED FIXTURES (ALL TIMES GMT) February 6 Italy v France (2.15pm) England v Scotland (4.45pm)

W

ith the 2023 Rugby World Cup looming ever larger on the horizon, England and the rest of the home nations will take another significant step on the road to the sport’s showpiece event in France when the Guinness Six Nations Championship is scheduled to resume this month.

However, it will be interesting to see how the England coach responds to the rising threat from across the channel and whether he adapts his “he who kicks most, wins most” philosophy. It makes Le Crunch on the penultimate weekend of the Six Nations on March 13 at Twickenham the pivotal game of the championship.

The draw for the pool stages in early December merely whetted the appetite for rugby union’s major showpiece after a hectic autumn in which England won the sport’s oldest and newest competitions – beating France on points difference in last year’s interrupted Six Nations, and then beating the same opposition in the final of the hastilyconvened Autumn Nations Cup.

Before then, England open the Northern Hemisphere’s major tournament with the home Calcutta Cup showdown against Scotland on February 6 before another Twickenham tie against perennial whipping boys Italy.

And while it may look as if Eddie Jones’ team had ended their international season on a high in the probably one-off cup tournament, the truth paints a different picture, England labouring to beat a side of emerging talent and youth team players thanks to an equalising try in the last minute and a penalty in the sudden-death period.

And then the journey gets a tad tougher. Matchweek three sends them to Cardiff to face Wales, never an easy place to go and likely to be more hostile if the Welsh have not fired in their preceding games against Ireland or Scotland. From there, it’s the back-to-back run-in against France and Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, where the sponsors’ black velvet will flow irrespective of who has won.

February 7 Wales v Ireland (3pm) February 13 England v Italy (2.15pm) Scotland v Wales (4.45pm) February 14 Ireland v France (3pm) February 27 Italy v Ireland (2.15pm), Wales v England (4.45pm) February 28 France v Scotland (3pm) March 13 Italy v Wales (2.15pm), England v France (4.45pm) March 14 Scotland v Ireland (3pm) March 20 Scotland v Italy (2.15pm) Ireland v England (4.45pm) France v Wales (8pm)

LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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SOWING THE

SEEDS OF

LOVE

The dark days of winter may finally be behind us, so it’s time to prepare the ground for summer blooms and crops

A

s the days grow longer, gardeners will be making their plans for the spring, preparing their seeds for both flower and vegetable plots.

And even if the weather does not play ball and the ground is still cold, much can be done - particularly if you have a greenhouse or conservatory - to kickstart the growing season. If conditions allow and the soil is frost free, gently dig over and prepare the area you have earmarked for planting. This will expose soil pests to cold nighttime temperatures and bird predators, giving new plants a better chance to prosper and, if you have moved into a new house, will help identify whether you have inherited a light or heavy soil. Obviously, a stodgy, clay-based soil will need longer to warm, and this will affect planting plans. But if you discover a light, sandy mixture and live in a mild part of the country you can crack on – after weeding and allowing the soil to settle – by covering the area with clear polythene, cloches or fleece to warm the ground before sowing.

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PROPERTY NEWS


Once a crop rotation has been formalised, then you can sow broad beans, carrots, parsnips, early varieties of beetroot, salad onions, lettuces, radishes, spinach and summer cabbages under the covers. And then it’s back indoors again. Experienced veg growers will be keen to chit their seed potato tubers as soon as they have them. Novices may be baffled by the term, but it simply means encouraging the seed potatoes to grow before they are planted out, generally about six weeks after they have been arranged, blunt end up, in trays or old eggboxes, and allowed to sprout. Peas can also be started off in a heated greenhouse by using upturned and discarded – but clean – drainpipes with holes drilled in the bottom for good drainage, while cucumber seeds can be sown in a propagator, placing them on their sides at a depth of 1cm in a 7.5cm pot of free-draining compost.

If, however, your greenhouse isn’t heated wait a few weeks until March – and the same goes for tomatoes, which should germinate within two weeks in a propagator or on a sunny windowsill as long as the seed compost is kept moist. Even though it is very hardy, kale needs to be started indoors, where they can be sown in modules or 7cm pots with two or three seeds per module before thinning out to leave the healthiest seedling. For those who prefer colour to crops, mid to late February can also be a busy period. Now is the time to start off summer bedding, such as lobelia and Impatiens (Busy Lizzies), in propagators, giving them a head start before are big enough to be planted out or in hanging baskets. Sweet peas are probably one of the easiest – and most fragrant - summer flowering plants to grow, particularly when given a good start in a biodegradable pot on a sunny windowsill. Once established, they can be relocated to the garden when the weather turns milder without having to be

removed from their containers, which could damage fragile roots. Cosmos are similarly easy to grow and look great in borders or in a meadow where the single-flowered varieties, such as Fizzy Pink, attract pollinators. These annuals need light to germinate, so sow on top of seed compost in a tray then prick out when large enough to handle. Salvias, on the other hand, need to be sown on a bed of seed compost and then covered with a fine layer of compost which must be kept moist and placed in a light, warm spot. They can be planted out in the spring where they will add structure and height to borders and containers. However, be warned – low light levels and stuffy conditions can encourage what horticulturists call ‘damping off’, a fungal disease that can sweep through trays of seedlings. It can be easily prevented by adding perlite, an amorphous volcanic glass which will keep soil loose and light; watering pots from below; and opening propagator vents during the day.

Cosmos are easy to grow and look great in borders or in a meadow where the singleflowered varieties, such as Fizzy Pink, attract pollinators.

LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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exclusive

Brueton Avenue £1,250,000

* Impressive Five Bedroom Detached * Immaculately Maintained & Modernised Throughout* Sought After Tree Lined Road * Walking Distance Of Solihull Town Centre & Brueton Park * Gas Central Heating * Oak Double Glazed Windows * Enclosed Porch * Impressive Entrance Hall * Guest Cloakroom * Dining Room * Extended Living Room * Study * Luxury Fitted Breakfast Kitchen With Bi Fold Doors Out To The Rear Garden * Utility/Craft Room * Laundry Room * Five Good Sized Bedrooms * Luxury Fitted Ensuite Shower Room & Family Bathroom * Double Garage * Large Westerly Facing Rear Garden And Changing Facilities * Early Viewing Essential * EPC Rating D *

Hollyoak Grove £950,000

* Impressive Extended Five Bedroomed Family Detached Home * Tudor Grange Academy Catchment * Immaculately Maintained & Decorated * Double Glazed * Gas Central Heating * Solar Panels * Internal Viewing Essential * Impressive Entrance Hall * Guest Cloakroom * Dining Room * Extended Living Room * Extended Kitchen/Diner * Snug * Study * Laundry/Utility Room * Gardeners WC * Five Bedrooms * Two Ensuite Bathrooms * Family Bathroom * Double Garage * Large South Facing Rear Garden * Workshop * EPC Rating C *

Visit our website xacthomes.co.uk for more details.


KNOWLE T: 01564 777284 | E: knowle@xacthomes.co.uk SOLIHULL & SHIRLEY T: 0121 712 6222 | E: solihull@xacthomes.co.uk | E: shirley@xacthomes.co.uk BALSALL COMMON T: 01676 534411 | E: balsallcommon@xacthomes.co.uk

Woodcote Drive £1,400,000

** NO UPWARD CHAIN ** Stunning Five Bedroom Detached Newly Built In 2017 & Including Balance Of 10 Year New Build Guarantee * Located In Quiet Cul-De-Sac Just Off The Dorridge Triangle & Walking Distance To Dorridge Station * Set Behind Gated Entrance * Three Reception Rooms & Magnificent Open Plan Kitchen / Dining / Family Room * Five Bedrooms & Four Porcelanosa Tiled Luxury Ensuite * Oversized Garage * South Westerly Facing Garden With Extensive Patio Areas * EPC Rating B *

Grange Road OIEO £1,300,000

* NO UPWARD CHAIN * Set Within Sought After Village Of Dorridge & A Short Walk To Park & Station * Significantly Extended Six Bedroom Traditional Detached Property Set Behind Gated In & Out Driveway & Affording Over 3,700 Sq. Feet Of Stunning Accommodation * Three Exceptional Reception Rooms Including Living Room / Dining Room / Family * Magnificent Breakfast Kitchen * Five Bedrooms To The First Floor & Two Bedrooms To The Second Floor * South Westerly Facing Rear Garden * Double Garage / Gym * EPC Rating C *

Visit our website xacthomes.co.uk for more details.


KNOWLE T: 01564 777284 | E: knowle@xacthomes.co.uk Packwood Close £365,000

* Well Presented Semi Detached Property Located In Quiet Cul-de-sac & Within Easy Walking Distance To All Local Schools & Amenities * UPVC Double Glazed Throughout * Three Bedrooms & Family Bathroom * Living Room * Breakfast Kitchen & Conservatory * Useful Store & Utility Room * Landscaped Facing Rear Garden * EPC Rating D *

Copt Heath Drive £599,950

* Absolutely Stunning Four Bedroom Detached Property * Located Within A Quiet Cul-De-Sac of Knowle & Set Back Behind A Large Block Paved Driveway * Immaculate Throughout & Requires Internal Inspection To Be Fully Appreciated * Modern Open Plan Kitchen / Dining With Feature Central Island * Living Room * Four Bedrooms * Luxury Family Showroom * Large Landscaped Rear Garden * Garage * EPC Rating D *

Visit our website xacthomes.co.uk for more details.


Arden Vale Road £595,000

* Fantastic Location Within Easy Walking Distance To All Local Schools & Knowle Village * Significantly Extended & Completely Updated Four Bedroom Property * Large Open Plan Kitchen / Dining & Living Room * Separate Study / Play Room * Large Utility * Four Bedrooms (Master With Ensuite) & Family Bathroom * Garage * EPC Rating D *

Jubilee Cottages, Old Warwick Road £450,000

* Beautifully Presented & Extended Two Bedroom Cottage Located In The Sought After Village Of Lapworth * Stunning South Facing Canalside Views * Open Plan Living / Dining Room * Extended Breakfast Kitchen * Two Bedrooms * Large Landing With Seating Area * Jack & Jill Bathroom * Garden To Rear With Large Garden & Garage Located To The Side Of Property * Internal Inspection Highly Recommended * EPC Rating E *

Visit our website xacthomes.co.uk for more details.


KNOWLE T: 01564 777284 | E: knowle@xacthomes.co.uk Four Ashes Road £725,000

** NO UPWARD CHAIN ** Stunning Four Double Bedroom & Three Bathroom Detached Built By Crest Nicholson in 2016 * Balance Of New Build Guarantee * Superb Design With Large Open Plan Kitchen / Dining Room * Living Room & Large Study / Play Room * Master Bedroom With Large Dressing Area & Luxury Ensuite * Double Garage * South Easterly Rear Garden * Quiet Cul-De-Sac Location * EPC Rating B *

Tilehouse Green Lane £549,950

* Absolutely Stunning Three Double Bedroom Traditional Semi Detached Property * Significantly Updated & Improved Throughout * Superbly Proportioned Throughout With Three Large Reception Rooms Including Sitting Room / Living Room & Garden Room * Modern Breakfast Kitchen * Three Superb Bedrooms & Large Shower Room * Large Landscaped Easterly Facing Rear Garden * Garage & Side Store * Viewing Essential * EPC Rating C *

Visit our website xacthomes.co.uk for more details.


Newlands Road £365,000

* Well Presented Semi Detached Property Located Within Easy Walking Distance To All Local Schools & Amenities * UPVC Double Glazed Windows * Block Paved Driveway * Three Bedrooms & Family Bathroom * Living Room With Bay Window * Breakfast Kitchen * Useful Store / Utility & WC * Landscaped South Facing Rear Garden * EPC Rating D *

The Convent, Rising Lane £420,000

** NO UPWARD CHAIN ** Stunning Triplex Apartment Located Within An Exclusive Development & With Own Private Lift * Highly Desirable Location * Gated Courtyard Development * Luxuriously Appointed Throughout * Stunning Principal Bedroom * Open Plan Kitchen / Living Room With Balcony * Conveniently Located For All Transport Links * Two Bedrooms * EPC Rating B *

Visit our website xacthomes.co.uk for more details.


SOLIHULL & SHIRLEY 0121 712 6222 | E: solihull@xacthomes.co.uk | E: shirley@xacthomes.co.uk

Barons Court £120,000

Monwood Grove £875,000

* Ground Floor Retirement Apartment For The Over 60’s * No Upward Chain * Own Front Door * Double Glazed *Electric Heating * 24 Hour Emergency Pull Cord System * Entrance Hall * Lounge/Dining Room * Fitted Kitchen * Two Good Sized Bedrooms * Bathroom * Communal Gardens * Communal Lounge * Off Road Parking To The Front *Early Viewing Essential * Approximately 100 Years On The Lease * EPC Rating C *

* Impressive Five Bedroom Extended Detached * Situated Off Alderbrook Road * Easy Access To The School Campus Of St Peters, Alderbrook and Tudor Grange * Double Glazed * Gas Central Heating * Enclosed Porch * Entrance Hall * Guest Cloakroom * Living Room * Family Room * Sitting Room * Large Kitchen/Diner * Five Double Bedrooms * Two Ensuite * Family Bathroom * Double Garage * Private Rea Garden * Viewing Essential * EPC Rating C *

Middlewood Close £149,950

Warwick Road £147,500

* Ideal For A First Time Purchaser Or Investor * One Bedroom Maisonette * Immaculately Maintained * Internal Viewing Essential * Entrance Hall * Downstairs Guest Cloakroom * Superb Open Plan Lounge/Dining/Kitchen * Master Bedroom With Ensuite Bathroom * Off Road Parking * Single Garage * EPC Rating C *

* Ideal for A First Time Purchaser Or Investor * Spacious One Bedroom Ground Floor Apartment * No Upward Chain * Early Viewing Essential * Gated Entrance * Spacious Entrance Hall * Large Open Plan Lounge/Dining Room With Brand New Fitted Kitchen * Double Bedroom * Bathroom * Large Storage Cupboard * Allocated Parking * Private Patio Area * Easy Access To Solihull, Birmingham and Olton Railway Station * EPC Rating D *

Visit our website xacthomes.co.uk for more details.


Reservoir Road £450,000

Maywell Drive £300,000

* Spacious Three Bedroom Extended Semi Detached * No Upward Chain * Internal & Early Viewing Essential * Gas Central Heating * Double Glazing * Immaculately Maintained & Decorated * Large Open Plan Kitchen/Dining/Family Area * Living Room * Utility * Three Bedrooms * Luxury Bathroom * Large Garden With Home Office With Light & Power * Off Road Parking * EPC Rating D *

* NO UPWARD CHAIN * Three Bedroom Link Detached * Further Scope For Extension To The Side * Immaculately Maintained * Redecorated * New Carpets * Lounge/Dining Room * Fitted Kitchen * Three Bedrooms * Bathroom * South Facing Garden * Early Viewing Essential * EPC Rating D *

Summerfield Road £315,000

Charterhouse Drive £275,000

* Popular Hillfield Estate * Three Bedroom Town House * No Upward Chain * Double Glazed * Gas Central Heating * Immaculately Redecorated Throughout * Brand New Carpets * Enclosed Hall * Living Room * Family Room * ReFitted Kitchen/Diner * Three Good Sized Bedrooms * Bathroom * Private Rear Garden * Off Road Parking To The Front * Early Viewing Essential * EPC Rating C *

* Poplular Hillfield Estate * Ideal For A First Time Purchaser * Electric Heating * No Upward Chain * Double Glazed * Mid Terrace * Canopy Porch * Entrance Hall * Lounge/Dining Room * Fitted Kitchen * Two Bedrooms * Bathroom * Private Garden * Allocated Parking * Early Viewing Essential * EPC Rating D *

Visit our website xacthomes.co.uk for more details.


BALSALL COMMON T: 01676 534411 | E: balsallcommon@xacthomes.co.uk

Berkswell Road

Belle Vue Terrace

£650,000

£299,000

* Stunning Four Detached Bedroom Property * High Specification Throughout * No Chain * Underfloor Heating To Ground Floor * Full Width Family Breakfast Kitchen * Lounge * Dining Room * Guest Showerroom & WC * Utility Room * Four Bedrooms * Principal Bedroom with Dressing Area & En-suite * Stunning Family Bathroom * Beautifully Landscaped, West Facing, Private Rear Garden With Patio * Off Road Parking for Multiple Vehicles * Double Length Garage * EPC Rating C *

* Two Bedroom Mid Terrace * Central Village Location * Well Presented Throughout * Lounge * Large Breakfast Kitchen * Utility Room * Period Property * Two Double Bedrooms * Family Bathroom * Separate Rear Garden * Garage * EPC Rating D *

Sunnyside Lane

Huggins Close

OIRO £539,950

£639,950

* Four Bedroom Detached Family Home * Potential to Extend & Refurbish * No Onward Chain * Lounge * Dining Room * Breakfast Kitchen * Utility Room * Large Family / Games Room * Guest WC * Four Bedrooms * Family Bathroom * Extensive Off Road Parking * Double Garage * Private Rear Garden * EPC Rating D *

* Extended Five Bedroom Detached Property * Immaculately Presented Throughout * Viewing Highly Recommended * Overlooking Park to the Front * Open Plan Breakfast Kitchen * Large Lounge * Dining Room * Utility * Principal Bedroom With Ensuite * Ensuite To Bedroom Two * Family Bathroom * Single Garage * Off Road Parking * West Facing Rear Garden * EPC Rating C *

Visit our website xacthomes.co.uk for more details.


KNOWLE T: 01564 777284 | E: knowle@xacthomes.co.uk SOLIHULL & SHIRLEY T: 0121 712 6222 | E: solihull@xacthomes.co.uk | E: shirley@xacthomes.co.uk BALSALL COMMON T: 01676 534411 | E: balsallcommon@xacthomes.co.uk

KNOWLE TEAM

BALSALL COMMON TEAM

SOLIHULL & SHIRLEY TEAM

MORTGAGES TEAM LETTINGS TEAM

Visit our website xacthomes.co.uk for more details.


LETTINGS T: 01564 781781 | E: knowle@xactlettings.co.uk Kington Rise ÂŁ2,595 pcm

This is a well presented five bedroom detached property set within a private gated development in the rural location of Claverdon. The accommodation includes entrance hallway, cloakroom, dual aspect lounge, dining room, study, family room, fitted kitchen and utility. The property offers two en-suites, main bathroom, detached double garage, attractive rear garden with a gardener included. The property is alarmed, has oil fired heating, offered on an unfurnished basis and is available early February.

Limbury Grove ÂŁ825 pcm

*Semi Detached Property * Ideally Located for Jaguar Landrover * Two Bedrooms * Lounge * Breakfast Kitchen * Modern Bathroom * Low Maintenance Rear Garden * EPC Rating D * Unfurnished * Available 17th Feb *

Visit our website xactlettings.co.uk for more details.


Bretby Close £1,195 pcm

Semi Detached Property* Three Bedrooms* Well Presented Throughout* Lounge/Diner* Fitted Kitchen* Downstairs Cloaks* Garage* Family Bathroom* En-Suite Shower Room* Rear Garden* Open Views of the Park To The Rear* Gas Central Heating* Cul-De-Sac Location* EPC C* Unfurnished* Available mid January

Kingswood Green £2,850 pcm

New Build Property Detached Property* Fitted to a High Specification and Immaculately Presented Throughout* Four Double Bedrooms* Dual Aspect Lounge* Sitting Room* Open Plan Kitchen/Diner/Family Room* Downstairs Cloakroom* Utility* Master Bedroom with Walk-in Wardrobe and Balcony* En-Suite Shower Room* Views over the Canal to the Rear* Main Bathroom * Detached Double Garage* Rear Garden * Electric Air Source Heating* EPC Rating A* Unfurnished* Available Now*

Visit our website xactlettings.co.uk for more details.


Milton Close £850 pcm

AG LE RE T ED

LETTINGS T: 01564 781781 | E: knowle@xactlettings.co.uk

* Ground Floor Maisonette * Well Presented Throughout * Two Bedrooms * Re-Fitted Kitchen * Lounge * Modern Bathroom * Cul-De-Sac Location * EPC Rating C * Unfurnished * Available Now *

Hertford Way £875 pcm

* Semi Detached Property * Two Bedrooms * Lounge/Diner * Fitted Kitchen * Bathroom with Shower * Neutral Decor* Off Road Parking * Rear Garden * Gas Central Heating * Unfurnished * Available 1st Feb * EPC Rating C *

Visit our website xactlettings.co.uk for more details.


Hensborough £625 pcm

Second Floor Apartment* One Double Bedroom* Open Plan Lounge/Diner/Kitchen* Bathroom* Gas Central Heating* Neutral Décor* Walking Distance to Dickens Heath Centre* EPC Rating C* Unfurnished* Available 20th Feb

Chancel Court £925 pcm

* First Floor Apartment * Furnished * Gated Development * Two Double Bedrooms * Open Plan/ Lounge/Kitchen/Diner * Bathroom * One Allocated Parking Space * Walking Distance of Solihull Town Centre * EPC Rating B* Available 10th March *

Visit our website xactlettings.co.uk for more details.


LETTINGS T: 01564 781781 | E: knowle@xactlettings.co.uk

Meet our Lettings Team

Sarah Bent HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH XACT? Over 6 years WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? Meeting people SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW? I once appeared in a play at the Birmingham Rep when I was in a youth theatre group FAVOURITE FOOD? Chocolate FAVOURTIE TYPE OF HOLIDAY? City break, New York

Lisa Davies

Wendy Clarke

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH XACT? 3 weeks

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH XACT? 4 years

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? Looking forward to learning all about the industry and meeting new people

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? The people I work with

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW? Has an O’Level in Latin

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW? Been cautioned by police for demonstrating about women’s rights

FAVOURITE FOOD? Chinese

FAVOURITE FOOD? Crème Brulee

FAVOURTIE TYPE OF HOLIDAY? Villa Mora in Portugal

FAVOURTIE TYPE OF HOLIDAY? I like historic sites in Italy

Visit our website xactlettings.co.uk for more details.


Sara Cope

Andrea Jones

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH XACT? Nearly 2 years

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH XACT?

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? Meeting people

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? The people I work with

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW? I used to sing in a choir for 20 years FAVOURITE FOOD? Curry/spicy food

5 years

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW? I am double jointed FAVOURITE FOOD? Curry or anything spicy

FAVOURTIE TYPE OF HOLIDAY? Anywhere in the Carribean

FAVOURTIE TYPE OF HOLIDAY? The Algarve or Vegas

Yvonne Williams

Julie Chinnery

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH XACT? 2 years in August WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? Working as part of the team with Landlords and Tenants SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW? Played county hockey until the age of 24 FAVOURITE FOOD? Pretty much everything FAVOURTIE TYPE OF HOLIDAY? With family and like to travel to both the UK and overseas

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH XACT? Just over 10 years WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? Organizing and helping put things in place so we can work more efficiently FAVOURITE FOOD? Curry FAVOURTIE TYPE OF HOLIDAY? Cape Verde

Visit our website xactlettings.co.uk for more details.


Update: Six-month notice period comes into law and “Winter Truce” on evictions announced Landlords will need to give tenants six months notice if they intend to regain possession of their property and no tenants will be evicted over Christmas.

The government has changed the law to increase notice periods to six months and confirmed that possession proceedings will resume on 21 September 2020. The only exceptions to the six-month notice period are the most egregious cases, including where tenants have demonstrated anti-social behaviour or committed fraud, where notice periods have been shortened. In these cases, “notice periods must be at least 4 weeks where over six months of rent is due (if less than 6 months is owed, then 6 months’ notice must be given).” A “winter truce” on evictions also means that no evictions will take place between 11 December 2020 and 11 January 2021. When possession proceedings resume, cases will be subject to new court processes and procedures, which will be in place until at least 28 March 2021. These include: • The prioritisation of cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes, as well as extreme rent arrears where landlords would otherwise face unmanageable debts.

• No cases from before 3 August 2020 will immediately proceed to hearing, but will have to be ‘re-activated’ by the landlord and then subject to a new review hearing, at least four weeks before the substantive hearing. • Landlords will also need to provide the courts and judges with information on how tenants have been affected by the pandemic. Where this information is not provided, judges will be able to adjourn proceedings until the information is provided. In addition, the government has announced a “winter truce” on the enforcement of evictions, meaning no evictions will be permitted in England and Wales in the run up to and over Christmas except in the most serious circumstances. Tenants are still liable for their rent during this time and should pay this as usual. If tenants are facing financial hardship and think they will have difficulty making a rental payment, they should speak to their landlord in the first instance.

Visit our website xactlettings.co.uk for more details


This article was updated on 24 September 2020. Although we endeavour to keep our coronavirus (COVID-19) content as up to date as possible, the situation is rapidly changing, so please ensure you refer to gov.uk for the latest advice and information.

The government is encouraging tenants and landlords to work together to put in place a rent payment plan. However, there is other support available for tenants facing financial difficulties: • There is an existing £180 million of government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments made available this year, an increase of £40 million from last year and which is for councils to distribute to support renters with housing costs. • A £500 Hardship Fund will go to local authorities in England so they can reduce the 2020 to 2021 council tax bills of working age people receiving Local Council Tax Support. Councils will also be able to use the funding to provide further discretionary support to vulnerable people. • Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the government will pay up to 80% of a worker’s wages, up to a total of £2,500 per month, until August. • Universal Credit and Housing Benefit will increase and, from April, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.

CONTENT SUPPLIED ©


Here’s what some of our clients say...

Laura & Matt

We absolutely recommend Xact to any family or friends looking to buy or sell a house and we have done on numerous occasions. You watch the market, you see a house go up with Xact and it sells and it completes and that’s our experience, there’s lots of reasons why that happens, they get jobs done basically.

Beth

I decided to use Xact for both selling my property and eventually buying, simply because I had used them 20 years ago when I bought my first house in the area and that experience had been a positive one so it seemed sense to go back to them again. Also I am aware of the fact that they are a very popular estate agent within the village and everybody that I had spoken to recommended them highly.

Peter

Without doubt I would recommend Xact without any equivocation, they’ve done a great job for us.

Visit our website xacthomes.co.uk for more details.


Tony

Yes, wholeheartedly I would recommend Xact to anyone who seeks my opinion.

Jon

We contacted a couple of the old firms and they came to see us and gave us their advice and their marketing strategies and the prices were very similar. But we noticed with Xact more and more signs were going up and one of my neighbours had sold his property with Xact and he was really pleased with them, so I thought we’ll give them a chance.

Kathy

I found them a very approachable estate agent, they had plenty of staff, they were all very polite, they were proactive, very empathetic with the sale, when I had any issues they were dealt with very quickly, they were always willing to answer my questions. I just thought they kept me up-to-date on a weekly basis, sometimes more often where necessary. I like their attitude towards sales really, they made me feel very comfortable.

Anne

I would definitely recommend Xact to friends, family and my colleagues and I have already done that.

Visit our website xacthomes.co.uk for more details.


Choosing the right agent is

Key Knowledgeable. Trustworthy. Innovative. Whether you are buying or selling, we’ve got the key ingredients to unlock a successful house move. Our unique marketing and professional customer service means that when you choose Xact Homes you are choosing the right agent. Call us today for your FREE valuation and FREE property website.

Visit our website xacthomes.co.uk to find out more. KNOWLE

SOLIHULL

SHIRLEY

BALSALL COMMON

T: 01564 777284 E: knowle@xacthomes.co.uk

T: 0121 712 6222 E: solihull@xacthomes.co.uk

T: 0121 712 6222 E: shirley@xacthomes.co.uk

T: 01676 534411 E: balsallcommon@xacthomes.co.uk

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Xact Homes - February 2021