Choosing the Best University with Your Child


choosing universityIt will take a while for you to get used to your child moving on to the next phase of their life. But the truth is they will need your help throughout their higher education career and that will start with choosing the right university. A lot of parents think that the process of picking the right uni is part of the education experience for young adults and I think this is true but the reality is they are likely to need your guidance. The problem is, very often it has been quite a while since parents have been to university themselves (if they have been at all) and they are not accustomed to the process and how much to get involved. Here is a brief guide on how to be part of the choice without being overbearing.

Choice of Course

This is something your child will have to figure out with the help of their careers tutors and teachers at school. While you can give advice based on your own experience, it is best that they make their own decision based on their own research and what they want to get from their undergraduate course.

Focus on Employability

While university used to be about the experience as much as it was the course itself today the focus of a lot of courses is how it prepares the student for the world of work. This is something to consider when choosing the course with your child. Many more people have degrees than they used to, so it is worth thinking about a course which equips students as fully as possible.

University Location

While it’s only natural that we want our children to get placed at a university that is relatively near to where we are, again we should leave it up to them. One issue which may influence their decision is whether they would prefer a campus or city-based university. City universities come with a higher degree of independence as well as the benefits of city life on the door step while campus universities have more of a community feel with convenience and security.


choosing university

Your child’s school will help them with their UCAS ‘Apply’ procedure. Things to bear in mind are the 15th January deadline (most schools try and get students’ applications in much earlier than this) and the grades need to get accepted on to your first options.


This can be the trickiest part of the university application process and likely the part where your child will need the most help. Fees have risen over the last few years with the standard cost of a three-year course somewhere around £9,000. Applying for a student loan is a relatively complicated affair but there are plenty of sites such as which can give you guidance.


Your child will be given the choice of university halls, private halls or private housing when they first go to university. Many opt for the ease of university halls but it is worth bearing in mind private providers. Accommodation such as WBSA has great facilities, is safe, secure and offers lots of opportunities to make friends while living in one of the most vibrant areas of London.

My Dog the Sandwich Stealer

the sandwich thiefDon’t be fooled by his cute little face and sad eyes, this isn’t the face of a half starved, neglected animal that never gets any attention. Nope, this is the face of a well fed, pampered pooch who just can’t resist face height food.

You know, the sort that small children carry around in their sticky maws. Ice cream, sandwiches, lollies; he’ll have them all. Hell, he once ran off with a packet of crisps he’d ripped out of some poor unsuspecting child’s grip.

This is the face of a bad, bad dog.

And mine is the face of a very sorry owner. Ooops, sorry, sorry about that. Really sorry. Here, have £2 and buy another ice cream. Sorry.

Not embarrassing at all. And I’ve certainly never simply walked off and pretended he wasn’t with me until we got around the corner. A trip out to the park can get rather costly in ice cream, not to mention in potential vet bills if he grabs something he really ough not be eating. Let’s face it, it’s unlikely he’ll be stealing carrots and other healthy dog treats now, is it?

I think we’ll be avoiding the parks this half term after yesterday’s incident and stick to the places only other dog walkers go.

alt text


Oddly footballs don’t appear to be on this list of food to avoid. Oh, didn’t I mention he also likes to steal kids footballs and run around chewing them, avoid capture until they pop?

Yup, he’s a real sweetheart.

There’s a reason that the phrase ‘in the dog house’ became a popular saying.

A buyer’s guide to prosecco

buying prosecco

Image: Anders Adermark

Habit is a strange thing. As often happens, we do not see how much habits influence our lives – from small details to important milestones. Deciding on health matters, marriage, having children, education, career, the mission of life may predestine the future life to come. And healthy habits may encourage the right decisions. However, the decision on which bottle of sparkling wine to buy is often treated as unimportant and is made automatically and unconsciously. We spot French wine brand name Champagne and make a reach for a bottle to celebrate any special occasion. Imagine you knew another type of wine that was cheaper and equally tasty, would you change your habit? If the answer is yes, then welcome to the world of prosecco!

Homeland of Prosecco is Italy. This wonderful land gives birth to Glera grapes from which the Italian fizz is made. The picturesque vineyards are spread out over the hills in the province of Treviso, Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions, around the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. Here, using the Tank method (known as the Charmat method and the Italian method), winemakers produce the Italian sparkling wine and distribute it all over the world. This way of production is worth mentioning. First reason why is that, since the second fermentation takes place in steel tank, the labor costs involved are relatively low, and hence, the final price is very customer-friendly. Champagne has a far more manual process, which leads to much higher prices. The second reason is that because the wine is kept in tanks bore bottling, Prosecco should be opened soon after buying, and not put in the back of a cupboard for a special occasion. So, be wary of anyone offering ‘vintage’ prosecco!

prosecco growing hills

Image: Lorenzo Benetton

The following terms will help you to pick the right type of Prosecco:

  • Spumante, frizzante and tranquillo are the Italian words meaning that Prosecco Spumante is sparkling, Frizzante is semi-sparkling, and Tranquillo is still wine without any effervescing.
  • The level of sweetness is measured in grams per litre of residual sugar and indicated by the terms ‘dry’ (17–32 g/l), ‘Extra Dry’ (12–17 g/l) and ‘Brut’ (up to 12g/l ).

Once you buy Prosecco, chill it, find a tulip shaped glass, fill it up and try it. Fruit and flower aroma will be the first thing your taste buds and nose will feel. The bubbles bursting on the surface are frothy and light. Try to identify and enjoy the notes of vanilla, banana cream, hazelnuts and honeycomb. Prosecco is quite universal in food pairing. You can drink it alone, before meals or together with meals. Here are some good choices of Prosecco:

This article is just a tiny path which runs to the big world of Prosecco. Do not be afraid to discover new flavours and aromas of this amazing Italian sparkling wine.

Conversations with The Boy – Portal Guns

portal gunI’m standing in the kitchen trying to write a shopping list when the boy wanders in. “Mummy, if you had a portal gun you’d never have to wait at traffic lights again, did you know that?” He’s looking at me earnestly. “You could just put a portal at one side and one at the other side and jump straight through.”

“A portal gun?”

“Yeah,” he carries on, waving his Minecraft sword in the air as he gesticulates. “And I saw a video that said they were only £2.29 so you should get one. They are quite cheap and very useful, aren’t they?”

“Umm, yeah they sound it.”

“But you can’t get them in the shops you can only order them online. So you would have to wait about two weeks for it to arrive but that’s okay isn’t it? It’s worth waiting if you don’t have to wait at traffic lights again.”

He pauses as I pull out my phone to write down the conversation we just had and leans over to me, pointing at the phone. “I think it’s Are you going to buy one right now?”

“No, no. Not right now. Maybe later,” I say trying to keep the laugh out of my voice.

“Brilliant,” he beams a grin at me and runs off up the stairs yelling to his sister. “Guess what, mummy’s going to buy us a portal gun! We don’t have to wait at traffic lights again!”

Ahh to live in the same world as a 7 year old boy.

Our Week in Pictures

We barely had time to sit still last week, such was our social calendar. We spent a day in the forest with friends making nettle soup and cooking bread on sticks around a camp fire.

camp fire


We managed to spend seven hours in the forest with our new home ed friends, building fires, cooking, eating, playing and whittling before we even realised it was anywhere near 5pm.

We also spent a day down by the river fishing for whatever insects we could find lurking in the depths, had a trampoline club session and visit an owl centre nearby.

The owl centre was pretty interesting – who knew that birds had different coloured eyes and that those colours meant something? According to the chap at the centre orange eyes means they hunt at dusk and dawn, yellow eyes means they hunt during daylight hours and brown eyes means they hunt at night. Plus we got to hold owls!

the boy and bird


And stroke baby owls too.

baby owls


Umm, what else? Oh yes, I discovered a new local pub which is very cute and a lovely field walk away from my house.

local pub


Plus we went to visit the lovely Merry from merrily me and Patch of Puddles who now lives just 20 minutes from me.

Happy, happy days.


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