Life, Work

New Beginnings

As my time working in retail draws to a close, excitement and nervousness draws in as I am about to embark on the latest chapter of my life since leaving university.

After working hard to build my portfolio over the past few months, I was recently offered the opportunity to become a Junior Copywriter at a health and fitness company based in Leeds. This would mean facilitating a relocation from Manchester, but I felt that accepting the job offer was the correct decision for me to make in order to further my career.

In spite of enjoying working in retail over the years, it became apparent that this was a career I didn’t see myself continuing in for the long term, having gone to university for three years in order to enhance my career prospects.

Upon realising that writing was my passion, this is when I decided to take the necessary steps after taking on board some greatly helpful advice at a careers fair to build my portfolio and gain some hands on, self taught experience that I could showcase to employers.

Throughout the duration of my time at university, I spent my days not knowing what I wanted to do upon graduating, and soon enough the end of my final year had arrived. I began to apply for a multitude of jobs including various graduate schemes, but to no avail, either a lack of experience was cited or my application simply turned away or ignored.

Despite this, I remained motivated and focused in my job search, something which can understandably be difficult for many people, and I took any rejections with my head held high, and continued to move forward in my search.

Rewind to the end of my second year at university, I was offered a job at the company I had worked for on two occasions previous, having known a workmate of mine who advised me of an upcoming vacancy.

I decided to accept the position so I was in a position to supplement my income, prove my time management skills as well as being able to travel home at weekends to see friends and family.

I quickly became accustomed to the role having worked for the company in the past, and carried on being employed there upon graduating so that I had a source of income whilst looking for another job.

To this day I am currently employed by them as my final shift draws ever closer. It will be hard to say goodbye to the close friends I had made that will forever be a part of me and I will never forget them (no matter how annoying some of them may or may not have been!)

However the time was right for me to accept my new position in order to further my career and pursue my dream. My current workmates will no doubt understand the sheer hard work I have put in particularly over the past few months, where I took on two voluntary jobs in order to build my portfolio of work to supplement my personal blog.

My new position will offer me the chance to take my writing career to the next level in an area I am passionate about, that being health and fitness.

I am truly excited and looking forward to furthering my career and embarking on a new journey that will without a doubt take my writing skills to the next level. My hard work has paid off and been recognised, and as soon as the opportunity arose, I knew I would be a fool not to embrace it.

As the old saying goes, onwards and upwards from here on out!

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Football

Early Premier League Transfer Window Closure: Was It The Right Thing To Do?

The Premier League last week confirmed that plans for the summer transfer window to close prior to the commencement of the new season will become a reality as the result of a vote at the beginning of September. But was it the right decision to make?

From the 2018-19 season, clubs will no longer be able to sign players after the season has begun, with all incoming business needed to be completed the Thursday before the start of the new season.

Fourteen of the twenty top-flight clubs voted in favour of the early transfer window closure, with Manchester United, Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Watford and Swansea City voting against the proposed plans.

This could potentially pose a problem for Premier League clubs for more reasons than one, as should another club swoop in for one of their players across the continent or elsewhere, they will be allowed to sell or loan out players after the deadline, however, will not be allowed to sign a replacement.

Additionally, upon the start of the season should a player become injured, this could potentially pose the risk of leaving a club short in a certain position, particularly if that player has sustained a serious injury and faces a long period of recovery.

Leagues across Europe are yet to follow suit, with their respective transfer deadline days remaining on the 31st August. This could leave several players in the vulnerable position of being snapped up should their release clause be met for instance, and their clubs will be unable to replace them until the following January at the earliest.

However, if they had anything about them then they would do everything in their power to hold onto their players if any chance of signing a replacement was not possible, echoing the opinion of Manchester United boss Mourinho who stated the following, despite his club voting against the early transfer window closure:

“So the risk is minimal and even those powerful clubs have to know if we can’t buy after, let’s say 14th or 15th of August more or less, if we can’t buy players we’re not going to sell.”

For players who are on the fringe or have perhaps fallen out of favour with their managers, however, their respective club shouldn’t necessarily have to worry about signing a replacement on the basis of their squad numbers being sufficient enough.

The benefits of having an early transfer window will mean that clubs will have to work fast to obtain their targets and get their business done early. This will allow clubs to give any new signings time to adjust to their new surroundings and adapt to the system of their new manager.

Given that the plans for an earlier transfer window are now in place, it would perhaps be a good idea for fellow leagues across the world to take a leaf of the Premier League’s book to allow for clubs to have a fair chance to bolster their squad, and reduce the risk of losing star players with no chance to sign a replacement.

However, with the transfer window opening sooner from next summer, this would still give clubs more than adequate time to bolster their squads, reduce the risk of unsettling players, and give managers the opportunity to slot new recruits into their system.

Travel

Chester Travel Blog

After thoroughly enjoying our trip away to Tenerife, myself and my girlfriend were hit with a case of the old holiday blues shortly after returning to the wonderful English weather (I mean, who doesn’t look forward to that, right?!)

We both agreed that to get over the fact that we probably won’t be heading abroad until next year, we still wanted something to look forward to in the near future. We did some research and eventually decided to visit the wonderful city of Chester.

Having previously visited another historic city in the form of York, which we found to be a lovely city, we decided that Chester would be the perfect next destination for us, given the similarities between the two, as well as hearing good things.

After some browsing of accommodation options, we took the plunge and chose to stay at the Bridge Street Townhouse. It was conveniently located close to all local amenities such as shops, bars, and restaurants which was perfect for us. It was a 20 minute or so walk from the train station, but for us, this was not an issue. Some may choose to take the bus or perhaps a taxi, but either way, there are plenty of transportation options easily accessible.

Upon arrival from the train station, we decided to walk to the hotel given the weather was on our side. We arrived at the hotel and were checked in by a pleasant and friendly young woman who made the check-in process simple and informative. She was an asset to the hotel and was one of the few positives of our stay. All staff we came across throughout the duration of our stay were extremely friendly and helpful, and in terms of their customer service, I genuinely have no complaints and cannot fault them with regards to this.

Next to the reception is a bar along with a seating area, which we found to be quiet at all times throughout our stay when walking through to our hotel room. We didn’t end up making use of this so can’t really comment on this particular aspect of the hotel, in addition to the gym and breakfast facilities, which we also decided not to make use of, instead choosing to venture out into the centre.

The receptionist informed us that our room was in the annex building at the back of the main building. After check-in was completed we made our way to the room. It was on the ground floor just behind the small car park which was part of the hotel. The room was small but cosy and had all the necessary things you would expect from a half decent hotel room, including tea/coffee making facilities, large comfortable bed (although it was two singles pushed together, mind) decent sized bathroom with shower and plenty of space to store luggage and hang clothes.

The issues started by the time night time came along. The sheer thinness of the walls in the annex building quickly became apparent upon returning approximately 11 pm on the first night of our stay. We could hear the TV from one of the adjoining rooms, and there were also creaking floorboards that could be heard throughout the night coming from the room above. That’s the last time I will accept a ground floor room, I thought to myself!

I wasn’t able to achieve a good night’s sleep because of the aforementioned issues, but that was only the beginning. Half way through the night, the sound of snoring from the room next door filled my ears as I tossed and turned, trying all I could to get to sleep but to no avail. Safe to say, I needed a coffee (or two) by morning! Let’s just say a trip to Boots was in order to purchase some ear plugs, and hey presto!

In terms of things to do we hadn’t planned anything in advance, with the exception of the two course Bella Italia meal we enjoyed on our first night, courtesy of Groupon. We just researched and discussed prior to our arrival, with two attractions in particular mentioned, those being Blue Planet Aquarium, and Chester Zoo. We eventually mutually agreed on the latter and visited on the second day of our stay.

We took the bus to Chester Zoo and spent around 3 hours here, it was thoroughly enjoyable despite the high cost of a ticket (£28!) and wasn’t too far from Chester city centre at all. Should you wish to visit other attractions in the area such as the aforementioned Blue Planet Aquarium, as well as Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, you could easily do so via bus should you not have travelled via car like ourselves.

Over the duration of our stay, we visited various bars and restaurants, including The Alchemist, where I had the pleasure of catching up with a friend from university, shout out to Jack! We also visited Chima Changas where we enjoyed an excellent Mexican meal, and I would wholeheartedly recommend this place. The food was fantastic, as was the customer service. They also offered a 30% discount off the main menu and drinks, for those lucky enough to call themselves a student!

Prior to our train journey home, we were kindly offered the chance to store our luggage at the hotel, which was greatly appreciated as we were free to roam the city once more before heading home. We took a walk along the city walls which was very reminiscent of our trip to York. To top off a fantastic stay in which the weather was on our side, we walked alongside the River Dee and finally through Grosvenor Park, both equally as pleasurable.

Overall, I would highly recommend staying in Chester if you want to visit a place with many historical attractions to visit, and you are within easy reach of several other attractions suitable for all ages and the family including. The hotel we stayed in wasn’t the best, or at least our room in the annex building wasn’t. So from personal experience, I would recommend staying elsewhere in the city centre.

 

Football

Manchester United v Swansea City Review

Manchester United continued their fine start to the 2017-18 season with a second successive 4-0 win against Welsh club Swansea. The Old Trafford club remain top of the table having made it two from two, and are yet to concede having kept a second clean sheet of the season. The starting line-up remained unchanged from last week’s victory against West Ham, with two of United’s summer acquisitions earning themselves a starting berth once more. Nemanja Matic started in the centre of the park, with Romelu Lukaku starting as a lone striker.

In the first half, The Red Devils failed to break the Swans’ defence down, and weren’t able to find the net until just before the half time whistle. They eventually found their feet and began to run riot in the closing stages of the game which allowed them to increase their goal difference to 8 continue their blistering start to the season.

The Swans were able to start the game strongly, with them holding off United until the 45th minute in which Eric Bailly commenced the scoring. The Ivorian pounced onto a deflection of the ball to find the back of the net after Paul Pogba hit the woodwork with a header from a United corner.

The Welsh club recently sold their star player Gylfi Sigurdsson to Everton in a £45 million deal, and are yet to find a replacement. The Liberty Stadium based club are yet to find the net in their first two games of the season, having started their campaign with a 0-0 draw against Southampton.

Summer signing Romelu Lukaku was next to find the net, scoring his third goal in two games in the 80th minute to continue his strong start in his career with the Red Devils. The towering Belgian took advantage of poor defending by Swansea with an assist provided by Henrikh Mkhitaryan, to put the ball past Polish keeper Lukasz Fabianski with a powerful finish from an unmarked position. Henrikh Mkhitaryan gained his fourth assist in 2 games with United’s fourth goal, in which Paul Pogba scored, chipping the ball over the keeper with a sublime finish. This will send a stern message to United boss José Mourinho that the Armenian deserves a regular starting place having struggled on occasion last season. Anthony Martial again found the scoresheet with a fourth goal for United, assisted by compatriot Paul Pogba.

The Frenchman glided past the defence with ease to put the ball in the lower right-hand corner of the net. The former AS Monaco forward made his second appearance of the season having replaced Marcus Rashford in the 75th minute, proving he is worthy of regular game time having been linked with a move away from Old Trafford for much of the summer.

United dominated the game in the latter stages of the second half, and finished the game with superior ball possession with 59% in total. 17 shots on goal were registered by the Red Devils, in contrast to Swansea’s five attempts on goal. United look strong having bolstered their squad this summer, and given their strong start they will look to continue this and establish themselves as serious title challengers, hoping to improve on a sixth-place finish in the 2016-17 season. The Old Trafford club struggled against teams they should arguably have beaten last season, as their poor home form saw them drop points with a series of draws.

Travel

Tenerife Holiday Blog: Vanilla Garden Hotel

For our first holiday abroad together as a couple, my girlfriend and I mutually decided to visit Tenerife. After changing our minds one too many times, and after several hours, days and weeks of indecisiveness and stress (because as we all know, booking holidays can be somewhat stressful!) we eventually came across the wonderful Vanilla Garden Hotel in the Playa De Las Americas area of Tenerife.

After hearing several good things about the hotel courtesy of scouring several TripAdvisor reviews, we decided it would be the perfect hotel for a week’s stay for us.

We flew out on the 27th July 2017 from Manchester Airport for a late afternoon flight so we weren’t due to arrive until in the evening. After we had arrived and collected our baggage and boarded the transfer coach, trouble soon struck as the coach engine failed to start. Just our luck! We thought to ourselves.

A gentleman boarded the coach and informed us that another would be along in five minutes. Wishful thinking that appeared to be, as we were left waiting for at least thirty minutes. Many people gave up and decided to obtain alternative travel arrangements, however we held out for the replacement coach despite feeling somewhat tired and in need of a good sleep.

Due to our relatively late flight, we were the last ones to check in. Our coach dropped us off across the road from the hotel so not much of a walk. We were greeted by a young gentleman on reception checked us in promptly and efficiently. He was very polite and friendly and an asset to the team. He let us know our room number and informed us that a cold meal had been prepared for us along with offering us a welcome drink. This was greatly appreciated and a nice touch.

In terms of the room itself, it was absolutely fantastic, very clean and spacious. There was a large wardrobe offering plenty of storage, tea and coffee making facilities, microwave and flat screen tv. The bathroom was large and had a walk in shower with a hairdryer and toiletries provided. The bed was large and extremely comfortable and you we enjoyed a great night’s sleep every night easily.

The air conditioning in the room was extremely reliable and much appreciated in the height of the summer! (be sure to keep your balcony door shut though as it will switch off). The location of the hotel was very convenient, easily accessible to all local bars, restaurants and shops. It is situated just down the road from all the main nightlife Playa de Las Americas has to offer, however we were never disturbed by any noise despite it being relatively close to the Veronicas.

The hotel is very quiet at night and ensures you can enjoy a good night’s sleep with the odd exception of a small amount of noise from people leaving early for flight’s but you would get this anywhere so not so much an issue.

We attended a meeting the first morning of our stay and the Thomson rep was very friendly and professional, he thoroughly explained all the excursions and explained on a map all the points of interest. He didn’t make us feel pressured or rushed into buying any tickets to any excursions and allowed us to take a look at which ones would interest us the most.

We returned and booked Teide by night which at 85 Euros seems steep but it was worth every penny (or cent in this case!) transport from the hotel was included, and you were able to experience picturesque, panoramic views of Tenerife in which we were able to watch the sunset from above the clouds,which was absolutely incredible. We had a lovely three course meal included in the cost, and a perfect end to a perfect day came in the form of a well informed and professional stargazing session.

The other excursion we chose to do was the Freebird Catamaran trip, which was also very enjoyable. We were able to view both dolphins and whales which was a great experience and something I had never done previously, highly recommended!

In terms of other things to do, we visited the Las Vistas beach which was approximately thirty minutes walk away, although you could get a taxi should you wish to. Word of warning though! Ensure you take flip-flops or a pair of shoes as the sand is unbearably hot! At least in the height of summer anyway. There was a beach close to our hotel, but we didn’t really fancy the nearby black sand beach as it doesn’t look quite as appealing despite being natural!

We also visited the Safari Centre which was approximately twenty minutes away, absolutely fantastic surroundings, nice and modern and made you feel like you were in Las Vegas, or at least I thought so! Additionally, we visited two of the nearby resorts in Costa Adeje, which was very picturesque and had a nice beachfront walk. Los Cristianos isn’t too far away also, and although this has a less touristy feel and felt more authentically Spanish, I would definitely recommend a visit. Plenty of lovely bars and restaurants available with decently priced drinks and meals.

Additional aspects of our hotel included the lovely pool surrounded by plenty of sun beds which we were always able to get no matter the time of day. There were notices around the hotel not to reserve them but as we all know everyone does it anyway! In terms of food we stayed half board so had breakfast and an evening meal included.

The breakfast was plentiful and catered for a wide range of tastes including cooked breakfasts including fried eggs, bacon and pancakes at the show cooking, and you could even get English hash browns which were lovely! drinks were included at breakfast but not at evening meal.

You could get drinks charged to your room which saved taking cash to the poolside for example, although you needed to set this up at reception first. We found the evening meal to be adequate and had a variety of meals throughout the week. You could get options from the show cooking including beef, steak and chicken which we tried and thoroughly enjoyed and they even asked how you liked your steak cooked which was perfect.

There was a pool party twice a week in which there was a live DJ however we chose not to attend. The music was quite loud but it was during the day and didn’t really bother us although it may not be to everyone’s tastes.

We spent a lot of time on the balcony which overlooked a terrace below however you could see the road when sat out on it so the view wasn’t the best, but this did not affect our stay in any way so no complaints. The overall cleanliness of the hotel was fantastic and the grounds were cleaned by the staff every morning. Our room was usually cleaned by 11.30am to a very high standard with fresh bedding and towels provided and the maids were very friendly whenever greeting you.

There is an outdoor gym under cover with a small but adequate selection of equipment, along with an outdoor jacuzzi which when we checked out was cordoned off so we weren’t able to use this unfortunately. There is a chillout area at the reception with a 24 hour bar and there is also the pool bar which offered an excellent selection of drinks at decent prices, including the local beer Dorada which is very nice and widely available across Tenerife at a cheap price.

The front gate at the hotel is locked after 12am I think it was, but you are able to obtain entry once reception staff notice you are stood there. There is also a back gate situated by the pool which was locked at 10pm although we only used this for walking out of the hotel so weren’t sure on how to gain access back into the hotel through this gate. It is a good option though if you wish to avoid any punters enticing you into their bars etc.

When checking out there was an option to pay a fee to extend your check out time from the usual 12pm which in hindsight we probably should have paid for, along with the option for a courtesy room they provided you with for half an hour to have a quick shower before your flight. However don’t make the mistake we made, you have to let reception know in advance as it is first come first served, so unfortunately we weren’t able to obtain one of these courtesy rooms which was disappointing, but understandable given we had not given adequate notice.

Overall I would highly recommend staying here, there were couples and small groups of all ages and nationalities staying at the hotel and so we didn’t feel out of place at all. It was generally younger people but don’t feel put off if you are slightly older. I would definitely return if staying in Las Americas again and any positives far outweigh any negatives.

Work

How to Prepare for a Job Interview

So you have applied for a job, if not several and have reached the next step in the recruitment process, having been offered an interview at the company you strive to work for. Congratulations! But remember you haven’t got the job yet, so effective preparation is key. The age old saying: ‘If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail’ certainly comes into play.

When it comes to preparing for interviews, this is a task that takes time and can be a tedious process. However, it is essential to prepare to give yourself the best shot of getting the role, and to make your personality shine through, as well as making you stand out from the crowd. The following post shares some essential tips to effectively prepare for any future interviews, what to do during the interview and once the interview is over.

Prior To the Interview

Ensure You Work Around Your Other Commitments

  • It might not be the best of ideas to tell your current boss that you need time off to attend an interview, so ensure you book time off in advance. Do not call in sick as this can sever ties or lead to disciplinary action with your current company if they were to find out. When contacting your potential new employer, arrange a mutually convenient time, but give yourself enough time to prepare.

Practice Common Interview Questions.

  • Make use of online sources such as YouTube or perform a Google search to find common interview questions and good answers for them. Ensure you have plenty of examples at hand so you won’t be left stumped when you are asked any questions, in particular, difficult ones that are made to try to catch you off guard.
  • Do not use the same example more than once as this can backfire and show that you have not prepared effectively.

Research the Company and the Role Itself.

  • Perform some research on the company you are applying for, know their locations, departments, who their competitors are, as well as trying to find out their future plans, and recent news regarding the company that may have appeared in local newspapers etc. This will really pay off and shows you are keen, pro-active and highly interested in working for that particular company. The interviewer will know if you have done this so really do your research!
  • Get to know the job description like the back of your hand, and have examples that demonstrates your ability to perform the daily tasks required of the role, as well as the essential skills that are needed.
  • If the salary has not been stated, you will be asked your requirements, so try to do some research on the typical salary range for that particular role in the company, if not a similar role in another company. Use websites such as Glassdooror Indeed in order to find out this information.

On the Day

Dress To Impress.

  • Ensure you make an extra effort, and show that you take care in your appearance, this will really pay off as it shows you will represent their company professionally by conforming to their dress code. Don’t overdo it though, this is not the time to wear your favourite tuxedo!

Be On Time.

  • Ensure you plan in advance how you are getting to the interview, arrive in plenty of time, if you are early you can always go for a coffee somewhere and go over your notes.
  • Aim to arrive 10-15 minutes early to show you are a good timekeeper, and so the interview process runs smoothly and on time, they may have many other interviews to get through that day.

Show Enthusiasm.

  • Ensure positive body language, show your interest by maintaining eye contact and when answering questions, really let your personality shine through and make sure to smile!

Be Professional.

  • Don’t badmouth past or current employers, this will make you look bad. Also, back up any weaknesses you may have with a positive for example, you might come across as a shy character, but that is only because you like to assess the information you have been presented with and pay attention to detail.

Ask Questions.

  • An interview is not only the employer assessing your suitability for the role and getting to know you, but also you finding out everything you want to know and seeing if the role is ideal for you.
  • Prepare a list of questions so you don’t walk out of the interview having not found out something you wanted to know. By asking questions, you can find out any information you wanted to know that perhaps you weren’t aware of, and it is useful to be smart by asking questions relevant to the company. This will show further just how interested you are in working for them. Perhaps don’t ask about the benefits such as holiday entitlement just yet though, unless they tell you first.

After The Interview

Take Notes.

  • As soon as you walk out of the interview, quickly write down any questions that they asked before you forget, especially any difficult ones you might have struggled with. This can help you to prepare if you don’t get offered the job, and you will be able to utilise this information in any future interviews you may have and continually improve your interview technique. Also take note of any information you might want to remember such as holiday entitlement, working hours and salary.

Be Patient.

  • Some employers might get back to you straight away, others may take a while longer depending on how many interviews have taken place, and how many candidates they have to assess. Be patient and get on with your daily life and don’t be waiting around for an email or phone call, you will drive yourself crazy through anxiousness. Keep yourself busy to pass the time and take your mind off whether or not you have got the job. When you receive the call, if you have got the job, congratulations! your efforts have truly paid off and you can give yourself a pat on the back, embarking on the latest chapter of your life. If not, don’t get yourself down, as this will make you fall off track going forward in your job search. Keep applying for jobs, this one just wasn’t meant to be, you will find your ideal role eventually through perseverance and determination.

 

Travel

7 Top Tips for Booking Holidays

Booking a holiday can often be a stressful task. It can take time to find the perfect holiday for you, having spent hours upon hours of browsing the internet, visiting travel agents and looking at reviews. The following post shares seven essential tips in order to find the ideal holiday for you, and perhaps save yourself time, money and stress.

1. Plan Ahead

Whether you are travelling alone, as a couple or with family or friends it would be beneficial to decide on dates that are mutually convenient as possible to all those involved. Booking time off work is the first step, and they are often first-come-first-served so get your holiday forms handed into your manager as soon as possible!

Prior to booking, ensure your passport is up to date and not close to expiry. This is where a lot of people go wrong and can lead to a lot of stress realising your passport is due to expire a week before you jet off. So avoid the potential embarrassment at the airport, and in order to receive your passport quicker, I would suggest using the check and send service provided by the Post Office, it costs extra but is 100% worth the extra money, I promise!

Additionally, ensure you purchase the necessary things you will need for your holiday including clothes, luggage and most importantly travel insurance! This needs to be booked as soon as possible after booking as this covers you in the event you can’t make your holiday due to an injury for example. Many people leave it last minute but this is highly unadvisable. Also, if travelling in Europe, ensure you have an up to date EHIC card. This will enable you to get access to free healthcare should you need it, if the locals don’t pay for it you shouldn’t have to either. Many people make the mistake of assuming that this adequately covers them in the event of injury or sickness, however it is highly advisable to have travel insurance also.

2. Tailor your search to suit you

Consider your budget, and make sure you know how you are paying for the holiday and your budget. Have the money up front? Go for it. If not, many companies offer deposit schemes such as Jet2Holidays who offer a deposit of £60pp with the remainder of the balance payable in installments. OnTheBeach also offer a deposit system, with you not having to pay until 2 weeks before your holiday subject to Ts and Cs.

In terms of accommodation, consider your board basis (All inclusive, half board, self-catering etc) and choose the one which works best for you. If you prefer more freedom, then half board, self-catering or B&B may be your best option as this enables you to have more meals outside of your hotel, or cook for yourself. All inclusive means all your meals and drinks are included, but some often get fed up of eating in the same place, so choose wisely.

Also, consider the type of holiday you want to go on and the hotel’s suitability for your travelling party. Have kids? you might want to read up on the facilities available both at your hotel and the local area. Fancy somewhere more relaxed as a couple? go for adults only as these tend to be more suitable. Or perhaps you fancy a short break, in which case city breaks over a weekend might be a good option.

3. Visit the High Street

You can usually find the best deals on the internet, from the comfort of your own home. Don’t rule out visiting your high street travel agents though, you can sometimes find excellent deals that are not available online, particularly last minute deals. Keep your options open and don’t restrict your search to the internet only.

4. Utilise package holiday websites

Through using package holiday sites such as Thomson or Jet2Holidays, you can include all the aspects of a holiday in one booking. Particularly for those who are less experienced when it comes to booking holidays, this can save a lot of time and stress. Your hotel, flights, and transfers will be included, and you can choose flight times to you, and even upgrade to a private transfer for an additional cost if you just can’t bear the thought of going on a coach. For those who are able to drive, you even have the option to include car hire as an extra. There are restrictions including age, how long you have had your licence for so be sure to check up on the rules regarding your particular car hire provider.

5. Consider booking separately

Don’t just assume that package holidays are cheaper. A lot of the time they can be, but by searching around using separate sites can sometimes save you some of you hard earned cash. See my recommendations below for booking separately:

Accommodation:

Hotels.com, Booking.com or Trivago.

Car Hire

Skyscanner Car Hire

Flights

Skyscanner

6. Consider Flight and Transfer Times

Choose a flight time convenient for all those travelling, however choosing certain flights can often add to the cost. Compromises may need to be made in terms of flight times particularly if you are on a budget. Choosing a later flight time for departure may mean losing out on a day at the start of your holiday, but if you wish to save yourself some cash then this can be an option.

Additionally, take into consideration how long your transfer to your hotel will take. When booking your holiday many websites will display how long the transfer will take from the airport, so if you prefer to keep the transfer time to a minimum, take this into consideration when booking your hotel.

7. Check Reviews

If you have found a hotel you particularly like the look of, it will really help to view reviews before booking. This will give you more of an idea as to what the hotel is really like, and you can find several unbiased reviews published by people from all over the world sharing their experience staying at a particular accommodation provider. The most widely used review site is Tripadvisor.co.uk and I highly recommend using this site. Consider writing your own review upon returning from your holiday as this can really help other travellers.

Travel

Trip to York: My Experience

After thoroughly enjoying our trip away to Newcastle together (minus the bad weather of course, courtesy of Storm Doris) me and my girlfriend decided to book another trip away during the Easter holidays. We opted to stay for an additional night as opposed to the one night we spent in Newcastle in order to enjoy the many wonders of the historic city of York, and feel less rushed to see all the sights. 

After conducting research I came across the wonderful Staycity York Aparthotel. It is situated around a 20 minute walk from York train station, right next door to York Barbican. There are several options to get there should this be too much of a walk for some however. There is a taxi rank handily placed outside the train station, or you could take a bus, or cycle if this suits you. 

We took the option to walk as the weather was on our side, and at first it seemed a long walk but this was perhaps due to us having our luggage with us, and since it had been a while since either of us had visited the city we had to get our bearings about us, once we had done this walking around exploring was rather pleasant. York itself is a very historic city, and there were plenty of tourist attractions to visit suitable for all ages, including York Castle Museum, York City Walls and Rowntree Park, all of which we visited and thoroughly enjoyed. We had hoped to go on a ghost walk also, having been recommended this, but the one we wished to take part in unfortunately was due to take place the day after we had left. 

Upon arrival we were greeted and checked in by a polite and professional woman on reception. She checked some details and since we chose to pay on arrival this was done promptly and we were provided with our room key and she even offered us a map of the city which came in very useful.

In addition to this she explained to us the quickest route into the city centre and so this was very much appreciated and she seemed very knowledgeable. In terms of overall customer service provided by the reception staff I cannot fault them in any way whatsoever, all enquiries were dealt with promptly and efficiently. 

We stayed in a studio apartment and all necessary amenities were provided. Small kitchenette with sink, hob, microwave, dishwasher with one tablet provided, kettle etc were provided along with cutlery, plates, bowls, all the necessary equipment. The bathroom was a good size with a decent shower with plenty of hot water. There are no windows to open however A/C is provided so not so much an issue. 

Good quality of sleep is easily achievable through a large, comfortable bed and there are blackout curtains. There are signs around the corridors of the hotel which state between the hours of 10pm and 7am there are restrictions on noise, luckily we had no issue with any noise from neighbouring rooms at any time so I cannot comment on the staff’s procedure of dealing with any excessive noise, although I have no doubt if we had any issues the staff would be able to deal with this promptly and professionally.

There is a Co-op conveniently located next door to the hotel and so no need to bring much in terms of food/drink prior to arrival, and there are plenty of restaurants within easy reach of the hotel. On our first night we visited local Italian restaurant Totos and enjoyed a lovely two course meal here, highly recommended.

Overall I would definitely recommend the Staycity Aparthotel. Couldn’t fault the room, the staff and location as the walk into the centre really isn’t that far once you have got your bearings. Easily accessible to all the big attractions, particularly the city walls and York Castle Museum/ Clifford’s Tower. Upon checking out the staff allowed us to store our luggage, much appreciated seeing as we checked out at 11am and our train wasn’t until 6pm. Perfect place to stay if visiting York and offers excellent rates particularly during the week. 

Working in Retail

Five Ways to Work Successfully in the Retail Industry

It doesn’t take a genius to recognise that one of the key aspects to running a successful business in the retail industry is to provide a high level of customer service, and to maintain this in order to ensure customer satisfaction and retention. This blog post shares five important aspects to ensure excellent customer service is provided, and that staff morale remains as high as possible.

1. Team work

Working effectively as part of a team allows for tasks to be completed in an efficient manner, as each of you can use each other’s strengths. Daily tasks such as facing up and general cleaning and tidying need to be performed to ensure the store remains in a presentable condition at all times. Working hard as part of a team boosts morale, and ensures everyone plays their part in completing all required tasks.

2. Going the extra mile

Going the extra mile means that you go one step further in providing a high level of service to customers. This is a sure fire way to ensure your customers remain happy with the service you have provided them with. They will appreciate the level of effort you have gone to by being polite, courteous and patient, whilst seeing to their every need efficiently, effectively and professionally.

3. Using initiative

Using initiative is something that will not usually go unnoticed by members of the management team. It shows you are willing to go above and beyond the tasks that are typically required in your role, and sometimes these acts will be rewarded and will often save time and money in the long run. Using initiative shows you are proactive, which is an important attribute for any staff member to have when working in retail. Those who use initiative are likely to be shown appreciation, and often complete tasks without being asked to do so by management.

4. Working under pressure

There will be times where things just don’t go to plan. It is not necessarily enjoyable but it can happen often in a retail based environment. It is important to anticipate such issues and when they arise, act upon them accordingly and as quickly as possible. On occasion, there will be customers who will become irate for a number of reasons, including being refused the sale of age restricted products, or perhaps being refused a refund due to lack of proof of purchase. In situations such as this, as easy as it can be to lose your temper, it is crucial to try not to escalate the situation and remain calm and collected. Try to diffuse the situation yourself and if this fails, then call your manager who will be able to assist you.

5. Positive, Can-do Attitude

Working in retail, it is important to remain positive when completing required tasks. Sometimes things can happen unexpectedly that can make you fall off track or feel unmotivated, such as when your store is short staffed. If the store is down on staff members it can be rather stressful for those who are working on that day, especially if the store is particularly busy. Daily tasks will be expected to have been completed but it is not always possible to do so. So in situations such as this, offering support to colleagues will go a long way, and your fellow team members and management will appreciate your efforts.

Football

Romelu Lukaku linked to £75m Manchester United move

Manchester United were yesterday linked with a sensational move for Everton striker Romelu Lukaku. A reported fee of £75m was reported to have been accepted by the Merseyside club, although there is no deal yet in place.

In a remarkable turn of events, Lukaku had looked set to return to former club Chelsea, with the Londoners reportedly looking to re-sign the striker as a replacement for Diego Costa, who has recently been linked with moves to China, as well as his former club Athletico Madrid, despite the Spanish club’s transfer ban.

Lukaku, who plies his trade internationally with Belgium, has been at Goodison Park since 2013. The Toffees then signed him permanently from Chelsea in a £28m deal ahead of the 2014-15 league campaign having undergone a successful loan period with them in the 2013-14 season.

The towering Belgian was sold by then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who was seen as surplus to requirements by the Stamford Bridge club. With the former West Bromwich Albion loanee having gone from strength to strength since his move to Merseyside, Lukaku looks set to link up with his former boss at Old Trafford, with club legend Wayne Rooney looking set to move in the opposite direction.

The former Everton forward has been consistently linked with a move away from United having seen first-team opportunities limited under Mourinho, despite being club captain. Since his move to the Red Devils in 2004 the striker has scored a remarkable 253 goals in all competitions, overtaking Bobby Charlton’s long-standing record of 249.

In spite of reaching a record goalscoring milestone, Rooney has faced a heavy amount of criticism in recent times, perhaps rather harshly, with many fans calling for him to leave the club. The United striker looks increasingly likely to call time on his career at the Theatre of Dreams at the ripe age of 31, seeking first-team football elsewhere. Linked with several moves including in China and the USA, the United forward has stated his desire to once again play for the team where he began to make a name for himself, catching the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Sky Sports reported earlier today that Rooney is willing to take a pay-cut in order to join his former club, with the forward’s current wage demands in the region of £300,000 per week. Everton are said to be the only club Rooney is willing to join if he were to stay in the Premier League, and he has been said to form part of any deal to bring Lukaku in the opposite direction.

The Red Devils look set to continue their summer spending after the acquisition of Swedish defender Victor Lindelof from Benfica. Jose Mourinho presented a list of targets to the club’s Chief Executive Ed Woodward at the end of last season and one of his biggest priorities is bolstering his attacking options. United suffered a frustrating number of home draws which saw them obtain a sixth place finish in the league, although the season ended with a League Cup and Europa League win for the Portuguese boss, achieving his goal of gaining entry to Europe’s elite cup competition the UEFA Champion’s League in the 2017-18 season.

United have been in the market for a new striker after releasing Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the end of the 16-17 season having been ruled out with a long-term injury. The Old Trafford club took the decision to not renew his contract despite a remarkable season, scoring 17 goals in 28 appearances.

Many thought the striker, who turned 35 in October, would struggle with the demands of the Premier League, but he certainly proved his doubters wrong, despite cruelly ending his season early. The former PSG attacker sustained serious ligament damage whilst playing the Europa League against Anderlecht on the 20th April, and was forced to remain on the sidelines for the rest of the campaign.

United were said to be close to sealing the signature of Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata, who had often played second fiddle to Karim Benzema throughout last season since returning to the Bernabeu from Juventus. The current European champions are standing their ground in their valuation of the striker, however, United are said to be unwilling to meet the Spanish club’s demands having seen more than one offer declined. United seem to have changed tactics and go for a striker who is a proven goalscorer in the Premier League, and that could prove to be a wise decision.

With nothing yet set in stone, it remains to be seen whether Lukaku will don the currently vacant number 9 shirt at Old Trafford come next season. The powerful forward certainly has big boots to fill with the recent departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, however, has all the right attributes to be a success at Old Trafford should a move materialise.