Taylor Wimpey reopens showhomes

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Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire has begun a phased approach to reopening its sales office and show homes across the county.

Taylor Wimpey was the first UK homebuilder to stop construction on sites and close sales centres in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown restrictions. A phased return to construction has since restarted on a number of sites across England and Wales, with staff and subcontractors operating under a robust set of revised health and safety practices and protocols.

On Friday 22nd May, developments including Bridleways and Castle Grange in Banbury, Great Western Park in Didcot and Thornbury Green in Eynsham reopened their doors to customers with strict social distancing requirements in place.

A new set of protocols for all sales offices and show homes has been developed alongside new safety measures which have been introduced to protect the health and safety of its customers and employees.

These include the installation of Perspex screens and marker guides for social distancing. Show home viewings will be unaccompanied and only one family at a time will be able to view each home.

The sales teams have been helping customers remotely through the lockdown period and customers are encouraged to maintain contact digitally where possible. Customers wishing to visit the development will need to book an appointment over the phone.

Danielle Heard, Sales and Marketing Director for Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire, said: “Reopening our sales offices and show homes is a significant step for both staff and customers. I want to assure the public that we are not prepared to compromise health and safety, which is why we will be operating our sales offices on a strict appointment-only basis.”

To book an appointment to visit or to speak to the sales team to find out about the homes available, customers can visit www.taylorwimpey.co.uk

To find out more

For more information about Taylor Wimpey’s protocol for safe working practices

Room for improvement

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With the majority of us spending more time at home at the moment how about lavishing some love on your home and considering how you can improve it, Karen Neville looks at some ways to make the most of your home…

Renovating your home allows you to put your own stamp on it and make the space work for you and your family.

Think about exactly what it is you need, and make changes that will make life easier, whether that’s creating an extra room in the loft, knocking down a wall to create a family-friendly kitchen-diner or adding a conservatory, there are numerous ways you can improve your home and add value as well as falling back in love with where you live.

So what are the most popular ways to add value to your home and feel like it’s one of the family again…

Extension

The most popular way to increase the value of your home is to add space with an extra room, an additional bedroom will earn you the most money. Perhaps you need to make more space for another member of the family or your teenager no longer wants to share with their younger sibling – which could be the answer to a more harmonious life for all under the roof.

Loft conversion

This is a great way to add value and you don’t need planning permission to create a home office or children’s play area. If you don’t have room to add on a room then the only way really can be up!

Loft specialists Access4Lofts Guildford say: “Loft space is often underused or not used at all. The most common reasons for this include challenging or limited practical access to the loft as a result of a small hatch opening or a poor-quality ladder and insufficient usable storage in the loft space from either a lack of, or no suitable flooring or shelving.
“Space can be converted into safe and convenient storage for less than the price of a garden shed. Benefits include reduced utility bills from enhanced insulation and a noticeably decluttered and organised home which looks and feels bigger.”

WOODEN FLOORING

A relatively simple way to improve your home, giving it a fresh, clean look is to switch to wooden flooring, whether synthetic, such as laminate, real wood or engineered. Check out what’s best for your purposes and your lifestyle. Wood’s growing popularity means it’s another way to increase potential sale value should you move.

GARDEN MAKE OVER

Right now our gardens seem more precious than ever. If yours is looking neglected, it could be worth paying someone to sort it out. Add fences or trees to provide privacy, make a specific seating area, perhaps add a patio or decking. It’s also worth considering a covered area such as a pergola or awning or perhaps even a summer house to allow for the British summer weather! Another simple boost can be a garden shed and they needn’t just be for storing your lawnmower etc, take it up a notch and it could be an outdoor office, children’s play area or guest bedroom.

GO GREEN

We’re all trying to be more eco-friendly and aware of our planet and not only can these measures help you save on your bills but they can also add value to your home if you do decide to move. Double glazing, solar panels, adding or improving insulation can all make a real difference, as can LED lighting.

SERVE UP A KITCHEN MAKE OVER

If you decide to make just one improvement to your home, then the kitchen – the heart of the home – is the one to go for. But if you don’t have the resources to go for a complete overhaul then replacing the drawer and door fronts and keeping the units can make a huge difference. Even small changes can help renew your relationship with your kitchen, try new worktops, unique tiles, or quirky doors and handles for a simple lift.

CONSERVATORY

Natural lighting is always a great way to give a home a fresh lease of life and a conservatory with huge windows will certainly fit the bill as well as giving you extra space – use it as an additional living room or a stylish dining area. Most people won’t want to compromise on their garden space so consider sliding doors as the perfect way to blend indoors and outdoors.

EXTRA STORAGE

Creating extra storage in your home allowing you to declutter and streamline can give not just your home, but you a lift too, knowing the toys are stored away and there’s not ‘stuff’ all over the place! Build shelves or create cupboards in a variety of nooks, corners and under the stairs.

KNOCKING THROUGH ROOMS

An open plan living area can result in more room for dining in and entertaining making your existing space more attractive and look less cramped.

BATHROOM

Neutral shades and classic styles are the best way to make a splash with a new bathroom. Allow plenty of natural light to stream in, consider spotlights otherwise..

ROOFING, SOFFITS AND FASCIAS

Fascia boards and soffits play a vital role in protecting your home. They are crucial to the structural integrity of a property and usually mounted where the roof meets the outer walls of your home, fascia boards and soffits support holding guttering in place.

Gorgeous with George

No one is a bigger advocate for putting your money where your house is than architect, campaigner and TV presenter George Clarke. He says: “There’s no place like home. Whether it’s transforming a tiny bedroom or managing a large-scale build, we all have the possibility of experimenting with our environment and improving the way we live.

“My advice is to make it personal and beautiful. Your home is like an extended member of your family, unique and personal and its design should reflect that.”

George and his family live in a 1960s house in Notting Hill he has fully refurbished. “It’s not a big house,” he says, “but it has everything I need. My garden studio has to be my favourite part. I’m never happier than when I’m in that space… whether working, reading, sketching or watching TV. It contains most of my books on architecture and design as well as many architectural models of beautiful buildings from around the world. My studio goes some way to proving even the simplest and smallest of structures can be life-changing.”

For more on George & his work, visit

Time to love your home

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With most of us having enforced time at home, Olivia Davies from Mullie has some advice for how you can freshen up your home especially if you’re looking to sell

Are we all painting, decorating and doing DIY ?

Recent figures in paint sales suggest many of us thought a spot of DIY would be a constructive use of our time at home, but I’m personally finding the reality quite different!

With 3 children running round, always hungry, making a mess and needing attention, I don’t quite seem to have the free time I anticipated. I’m drawn to the garden as soon as the sun shines and if I’m honest, my motivation to polish a house nobody visits is somewhat dwindling! So as a result, I have a half-finished multicoloured utility room and a half painted staircase which is already peeling because I didn’t sand it properly – or so I’m told!

Yet being creative and embarking on realistic home improvement projects is not only a productive way to pass this time, it is good for our health and well-being and may even add value to our properties. Having to stay at home does present a rare and invaluable opportunity for those who are thinking about putting their properties on the market or for those who have property sales on hold.

This probably isn’t the right time to embark on large structural changes in your home. Sourcing materials and expertise isn’t going to be easy, and attempting anything dangerous could in turn put extra pressure on the NHS. We do urge you to take great care using tools and chemical and ladders. Above anything else, it is vital that we all stay home, stay safe and save lives.

However, we do believe we would all benefit from spending some time cleaning, clearing, decluttering and freshening things up! This is always good for the soul and for those thinking of selling their property, never underestimate the impact of that first impression when a prospective buyer walks through your front door!

If a buyer is greeted with fresh neutral tones combined with a feeling of space and light, they will want to see more of a home which suggest a positive and peaceful lifestyle. We don’t all have large hallways, but it’s amazing how the illusion of space can be created with the clever use of mirrors, clean lines and flooring that run through to connect the next space.

This doesn’t mean your property should be boring – quite the opposite – that wow factor and an element of surprise is always a winner, but it’s best to keep the crazy colours and textures to your soft furnishings. While buyers like to see personality and energy, they generally want to buy a well maintained blank canvass that they can easily make their own.

Freshly painted woodwork, neutral walls and well positioned furniture complimented by healthy house plants and splashes of colour from pictures and fabrics will combine to create a property that buyers will fall in love with.

And don’t forget to spend a bit doing small jobs at the bottom of the list- like fixing loose door handles, curtain poles or broken bathroom locks! If buyers see that small jobs are left undone, they may wonder what else has been overlooked.

We believe that minor improvements and clever styling of properties before they come to market can considerably increase value. Remember, you are selling a lifestyle as much as the building. You need to prepare your property so that it touches people emotionally by connecting with their hopes, dreams and aspirations.

Home schooling

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Youngsters at home? Don’t panic. Liz Nicholls gathers great educational ideas with the help of Lucy Spencer

When the government announced school was out for the foreseeable, my 11-year-old did a little victory dance. It was a bright moment amid a bleak week, but I was soon chastised when I mentioned this, cheerfully, to a family member who fumed ‘’That’s very irresponsible of you – how are you going to make sure she covers the curriculum?’’

Having been hothoused in an uncaring academic grammar school, I’ve yoyoed and am especially lax in my approach to fixed learning. So it was lovely to hear calming words from Lucy Spencer, a private tutor who lives in Sunninghill and works with Education Boutique.

“Home ed may seem daunting but the beauty is your children will have time to realise you don’t only learn English in English lessons but that all sorts of activities help children to develop and grow in confidence. Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves. Build a routine around your personal situation. You don’t have to emulate school at home.

“The government may be in the process of getting clear guidance about all of these changes but, as teachers, we thrive in situations where people need our help. The whole teaching and tutoring community are coming together and are ready to support every family. It looks like we’re entering a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you include outdoor fresh air time and consider doing some physical exercise as a family first thing to get up and ready for the day!”

Lucy recommends aiming for an activity that can feed into learning for the whole day. Baking, for example: your child can start the day reading recipe books then select a recipe based on checking ingredients, weigh them out, possibly scale the recipe, time the cooking and can even create imaginary packaging and a menu or business plan for how they could sell their creations.

“I’ve been home educating the children of other for years, from my nextdoor neighbour to celebrities. I understand how daunting it may seem – everyone feels the same. Smile, be positive and create your own unique curriculum and style – it’s not all about worksheets.”

MORE RESOURCES:

Visit educationboutique.co.uk for ideas to support common themes children love, including Minecraft, Pokemon, Lego etc.

Visit scholastic.co.uk and bbc.co.uk/bitesize for lots of free learning resources for all ages

Carol Vorderman has live maths fun at 10am daily at themathsfactor.com and check out worldofdavidwalliams.com/elevenses for English fun at 11am.

History with Dan Snow is free for 30 days at tv.historyhit.com/signuppackage

For geography check out lovely Steve Backshall on Twitter & there’s tons of science fun with Professor Brian Cox, Robin Ince & guests at cosmicshambles.com

Worship Online

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Holding Sunday services online is one of the ways churches in the Newbury area have had to adapt to not being able to meet physically.

In a surprising development however, churches can also report that online congregations have more than doubled.

Mark Landreth-Smith, pastor of Bridge Church Newbury in Love Lane, said: “We are still feeling our way, to be honest, with streaming services, but it has been a pleasant surprise to see so many people joining in – more than would normally attend on a Sunday.

“I guess some people feel more comfortable in the own home with a mug of coffee watching online. For others, this present crisis may cause them to ask the bigger questions of life: Is there a God…Where is He…What is He doing… Does He even care…?”

Mark is also doing a daily vlog to keep in touch with church members and others who are interested.

“ I was asked to do the vlog and again, am surprised how many people watch it and give feedback, although most of the feedback is about what I am wearing!”.

Churches in the area are still open for business in supporting residents, practical, emotional help and prayer.

Most churches are offering some kind of Sunday online or streaming service. Why not find out what is happening at a church online near you…?

For further information

Contact Christian Together in the Newbury Area

Take your seat…

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If you’re missing the chance to enjoy live theatre while the current restrictions are in place, help is at hand courtesy of the National Theatre which has launched the National Theatre at Home.

To make it available to everyone it is releasing one title from its back catalogue each week on the National Theatre YouTube channel to keep audiences engaged and with the hope of attracting new fans.

The idea began at the start of April with the James Corden hit One Man, Two Guvnors, followed by Jane Eyre, Treasure Island and Twelfth Night. More are scheduled throughout May. Each production runs for a week only starting on Thursdays at 7pm.

The National Theatre at Home say: “We have worked hard to create an offer and this free streaming is strictly limited to 7 days per title and we have endeavoured to prioritise titles that have benefitted from theatrical success already.

“We see this as an opportunity to raise awareness about filmed live theatre with a wider audience, and will do what we can to welcome them into your venues upon reopening. And we hope this limited online offer might also support your National Theatre Live fans in these challenging times.”

Take this opportunity to enjoy the theatre from the comfort of your sofa and when we can get out and support live theatre again.

To enjoy these ‘at home’ performances

Gardening tips 2

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With many of us spending more time at home, getting some fresh air and keeping our minds occupied in the current situation is so important.

So switch off from the news and take a break in your garden. Gardening is a great stress buster and it’s a good form of exercise too. 

If you’re looking for ideas there are plenty of uplifting projects to get stuck into in your garden. Why not:

> Plant a tree

Grow your own fruit & veg

Create a wildlife-friendly garden

Plant patio climbing roses

Try growing some plants from seed

Get the children into gardening

Create an edible window box

Sarah Squire, Chairman of Squire’s Garden Centres believes escaping into the garden is a great way to lift your spirits to soak in the beauty if the outdoors generally and our gardens.

She said: “In times like this nature and simple pleasures, like gardening, watching the birds and looking out for wildlife, seem all the more precious and a boost to body and spirit. If you need us we are here to help you get gardening and find some outdoor relaxation and exercise.”

She added: “If you are spending a little more time at home over the coming weeks, I hope that the weather is kind and you are able to enjoy your outside space.”

Squire’s also offer a local home delivery service. Simply call your local centre to arrange delivery. Squires Garden Centres

Spring Clean

If this gets you in the tidying spirit – why not try our Spring Cleaning ideas? Broken down into five easy days!

Gardening tips 1

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While having to stay at home is not ideal for any of us there are lots of things you can do in the garden and what better time than with the spring weather, here are a few more ideas, that will not only keep you occupied, but also mentally and physically active too:

> Dust down the mower and get out and tackle the lawn, not forgetting the edges which you can trim with shears. This simple task will immediately make your garden look tider.

Welcome the birds into your garden, order some feeders and birdfood to get started if you don’t already have them and the sight and sound of our feathered friends will put a smile on your face.

Do your bit for wild plants that are under threat by sowing some native plants into a window box, on a balcony or in a corner of your garden and make a mini meadow to encourage nature back.

Children can join in with nature/gardening-based craft activities to inspire and entertain them to get growing too. Why not make a den in the garden if you have room and see how ingenious they can be.

Don’t stare at a blank wall or fence, add some colour with hanging baskets or try environmentally-friendly, hessian flower bags filled with compost and planted with flowering plugs.

String up some garden lights to bring a sparkle to a tree, porch, archway or shrub.

Don’t neglect the patio or terrace when dealing with the plants, veg and greenery – a blast from the pressure washer will easily give it a new look.

For a real taste of the summer to come order some strawberry plants and get them in now with some fertilizer to really encourage the juicy sweet fruit.

Add some sunshine with some cheery sunflowers, sow seeds now, put pots on the windowsill and plant seedlings when frosts are gone.

Pot up some herbs, salad leaves, spinach, beetroot, dwarf French beans, potatoes and dwarf carrots which will all do well in containers or skip the sowing and go straight to plug plants.

Spring Clean

If this gets you in the tidying spirit – why not try our Spring Cleaning ideas? Broken down into five easy days!

Spring clean: De-clutter

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The Great British Spring Clean has been postponed until September but while you can’t do your bit for the outside it doesn’t mean you can’t focus on the inside so how about giving your home a spring clean instead?

Be realistic about it, don’t try tackling it all at once – especially if you’ve got other things that need your attention – do it room by room, perhaps even enlist the help of other family members at home with you and make it fun for the children to help out, after all many hands make light work!

Hopefully now you’ve got a clean, tidy, fresh house so the final step is to de-clutter and take care of the little things to complete that new look for spring…

Clutter


Clean makeup brushes

They’ll need 24 hours to dry so make sure you do this when you won’t be using them, just use a brush cleanser or a lightweight unscented shampoo.

Dust

Don’t just clear surfaces and straighten up ornaments, take the time to have a really good dust, bedside table, shelves etc, it will add to the overall improvement of the house.

Clean toys in dishwasher and washing machine

Put plastic things in the dishwasher and fabric in the washing machine. Remember to check what it’s made of first– you don’t want goggly eyes or loose parts falling off in the machine.

And finally… Create a space for clutter

No matter how hard you try there will always be some bits and pieces you can’t get rid off but that don’t have a natural home so create a dedicated space to store these things to ensure all your hard work and newly cleaned and tidied home isn’t spoiled by clutter again.

Spring clean your digital life

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The Great British Spring Clean has been postponed until September but while you can’t do your bit for the outside it doesn’t mean you can’t focus on the inside so how about giving your home a spring clean instead?

Be realistic about it, don’t try tackling it all at once – especially if you’ve got other things that need your attention – do it room by room, perhaps even enlist the help of other family members at home with you and make it fun for the children to help out, after all many hands make light work!

Over the next week, we’ll share advice on all those essential tasks that can help give your house a new lease of life.

It’s not just the ‘physical’ possessions in your life that needed ‘cleaning’, do a digital clear out too… 

Digital


Clean up your desktop

A quick fix to tidy up your screen is to move items into folders, although just a temporary fix, it’ll allow time to sort through files in an orderly way.

Clean keyboards

Keyboards are often neglected but cleaning them is simple – soap, water and a cotton bud will help you get in between keys without a problem.

Unsubscribe and delete unwanted emails

Don’t let unopened emails accumulate in your inbox. You can either search ‘unsubscribe’ in your emails and find the ones you don’t want or for a more thorough job, sort your inbox by “from” and choose the sender you don’t want to hear from.