One Snowy Night – Book Review

Eva read One Snowy Night, a children’s collection of winter-warmer animal tales by best-loved authors. Illustrated by Alison Edgson, this paperback is aimed at 5-8 years and published by Stripes. 

One Snowy Night

One Snowy Night

A cosy collection of short winter animal stories perfect for bedtime reading. Beautifully and highly illustrated by Alison Edgson makes the book interesting even for younger children.

One Snowy night is a charming collection of stories from authors Holly Webb, Jeanne Willis, Linda Chapman, Swapna Haddow, Leila Rasheed and Micheal Broad. Along with  Liss Norton, Cand Gourley, Katy Cannon and Sita Brahmachari. Together, these fabulous authors and illustrator have created a gorgeous book for children. What’s not to love about a book full of heart-warming winter stories by many much-loved authors.

In The Snowy Mountains – Linda Chapman

One snowy night begins with a girl who ventures off in search of the secretive snow leopards in mountainous Mongolia. Discovering a baby snow leopard leads to a big discovery. This short but heart-warming story is a lovely winter read.

One Snowy Night Animal Anthologies

A Christmas Star – Holly Webb

A heart-warming tale of a young girl desperate to nicely wrap a present for her parents. Written by well-known and loved author Holly Webb, this story shows the true meaning of Christmas. When Lucy’s mischievous kitten Star is making it difficult to wrap the presents she gets grumpy with Star. At bedtime, everyone suddenly realises Star is missing! Lucy gets upset, realising Christmas isn’t Christmas without her loveable mischievous kitten.

A Christmas Star

A Winter Surprise – Swapna Haddow

This lovely story is about a squirrel named Jumbie. He plans a surprise woodland party for his friends. Losing the invitation makes Jumbie really stressed out and just before the party too! I think this story is beyond cute and a good reminder we often worry about little things when the important things are right there! (Guilty!)

Jumbie

These cute winter animal stories make a perfect gift for animal lovers or young readers. With a total of 10 stories, this is a great read throughout December as a family.

Do you love Winter Animal stories too?

Men’s Christmas Gift Guide 2018 And £25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

I’ve put together a Men’s Christmas gift guide for 2018, collaborating with some fantastic brands to find unique gifts for men. I’ve also decided to treat one lucky winner to a £25 Amazon gift card too so make sure to enter below!

The Summerton Club

The Summerton Club Spirit Subscription service.

Do you have a man in your life who loves a full drinks cabinet? A Craft spirits members club, The Summerton Club brings you a unique subscription service. A great gift idea for spirit lovers at £50 per delivery with free delivery. The Summerton Club brings you exclusive first tastes of high-quality spirits. They offer a range of options from monthly, bi-monthly and quarterly subscriptions. You can also opt to only receive Whiskies.

Mens christmas Gifts - Mackmyra Gruvgold Swedish Sible Malt Whisky

I was sent their October Bottle of the Month, Mackmyra Gruvgold Swedish Single Malt Whisky. A well-aged spirit currently unavailable in the UK! Gruvgold meaning ‘Gold from the Mine’. A wonderfully smooth Swedish Single Malt Whisky aged in a variety of small casks. Casks used include Olorosso, Bourbon, Sherry and Swedish oak, 50m below ground in the Bodas Mine. 

Greater Skies Personalised Star Map Print

Want a truly unique gift? A Greater Skies Personalised Star map Print is a Star map of the sky above a certain location on a specific day! Perfect for friends, family or your partner. I had this Mulberry Personalised star map Print framed for a friend. You can pick from 5 different colours on this specific map.

It shows the Star map for his birthday, you could choose any special date to fit. You can add a title and up to five lines of text to your personalise star map. You can choose to instantly download and print a star map for yourself or you can have it printed for you for an extra cost. Costs vary depending on size, style and if you would like your print framed. 

Framed Starmap

Genuine Leather Beer Holster

Beer Holster

A genuine leather beer holster is perfect for keeping hands free. A water-resistant gift for any beer lover. This fab holster fits on any belt up to 4cm wide. 

Magnetic Beer Tree

This fun Magnetic Beer Tree is great for Men who love funky bottle tops! Holding up to 60 bottle tops at one time, you can now safely store favourites. This could be used for anything metal so if you know a guy who loves to collect anything like this it will make a great gift too.

£25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

As promised, one lucky winner will win a £25 Amazon gift card, so get entering the Rafflecoptor below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fleece Onesies For Kids From Hunkemöller

Hunkemöller Fleece Onesies for kids are gorgeous! We were sent one for Eva to review and we are in love with it. Part of the Mini-me collection, you can both snuggle up in matching fleece onesies! Unfortunately, Eva has been quite poorly over the last week. We had to wait for her nose to stop shinning red to take some photo’s but she really enjoyed snuggling up in it.

Hunkemöller

Hunkemöller is a lingerie and nightwear retailer which I love. Last year I shared a pair of their gorgeous slipper boots in my Christmas gift guide for her. All Hunkemöller products are high quality and the company have won several industry awards. Founded in 1886 in Amsterdam, Hunkemöller has become world famous and a well-known name across 24 countries!

Fleece Onesie For Kids From Hunkemöller

Fleece Onesie

We really love the hood on this fleece onesie and I am seriously considering buying them adult one so we can match. There’s even one for your dog! A
Hunkemöller fleece onesie would make a lovely a Christmas gift or a lovely treat, these onesies feel a bit special. 

Fleece Onesies

This comfy and cute fleece onesie is perfect for snuggling up with a film on those cold days & nights. It really is super soft and the design is absolutely adorable! 

Eva’s Thoughts

Eva loves her onesie and says it is super soft and warm, perfect for snuggling up in. She really loves the light pink colour and thinks the hood is amazing. Having shown Eva the adult onesie to match, she now wants me to buy one too. These would make fab Christmas eve box additions, something cute, warm and perfect for snuggling up with a hotchocolate and film.

What do you think of the girls fleece onesie from Hunkemöller?

Japanese Banno Knife From Sous Chef

We were sent a Japanese Banno Knife to review from Sous Chef this week. The Mr loves a good knife to use in the kitchen and was quite excited to try the Japanese Banno Knife out. He rushed out to get some ingredients and got to work creating a delivcious Katsu Curry.

Japanese Banno Knife

Sous Chef

Sous Chef is a shop for those who love food and cooking. They offer a wide range of products for the kitchen from ingredients, cookware, tableware, equipment, gifts and more. They have some fabulously unique food hampers and box sets. Any foodie will love discovering Sous Chef and their wide range of unique and unusual products.  You are bound to find any of your kitchens needs all in one place.

Banno Knife Cutting Chicken

Japanese Banno Knife

The Japanese Banno knife is of a traditional design which makes it a great all-purpose knife. Perfect for covering any eventuality in the kitchen. Unlike more specialist Japanese knives, this is perfect for cutting vegetables, meat or fish making it highly useful. The Banno is well balanced and sits well in your hand, slicing cleanly and with ease.

Cutting vegetables with a Japanese Banno Knife

This Banno knife follows a traditional design, making it a great all-purpose knife, perfect for covering any eventuality in a Japanese kitchen. Unlike more specialist Japanese knives, the Banno is a great multi-purpose knife, ideal for cutting vegetables, meat, fish or fish bones. A fantastic addition to any kitchen where there is often a range of food items needing to be prepared.

Cutting Onions with Banno Knife

With a strong steel blade and a double-bevel for a perfectly clean cut, the Banno is lovely to use. The traditional Banno blade is quite tall, ensuring good control and stability when chopping. This beautiful, well-balanced Banno knife is lovely to use and the Mr is really happy with it. It is the perfect addition to any kitchen.

Have you used a Japanese Banno Knife before or ordered from Sous Chef?

Advent Book – How Winston Delivered Christmas

An Advent book is such a lovely idea, isn’t it? We were kindly sent How Winston Delivered Christmas by Alex T. Smith to see what we thought of this twenty-four-and-a-half chapter book. For each day, from the 1st December, there is a story and an activity you can do. This gorgeous Macmillon book is perfect for children aged 5-9 years but Izzy (4) found the activities easy to do too.

How Winston Delivered Christmas 

Advent Book - How Winston Delivered Christmas

Advent Book

I love cosying up with the girls to read and this book is ideal! I love that it is full of fun activities to do as well as stories. Most of the activities are really quick, simple and extremely fun! From Letters to Santa, Recipes, Crafts and more, this book is bound to keep children occupied throughout December. 

How to read How Winston Delivered Christmas

Fun Activities 

One of the first few activities in the book is to make your own Winston the Mouse finger puppet! Each activity has a list of things you will need and full instructions. 

Make Your Own Winston Finger Puppet

The girls were really excited to make their own Winston and quickly set to work making their own Winston. For this activity, we used a piece of white card, scissors, sticky tape, pens and string.

Making a Winston The Mouse Finger Puppet

This activity was lovely and quick to do and the girls really enjoyed making their own Winston. When we snuggle down to read another chapter each day the girls now get their Winston’s out to read with us!

Eva's completed Winston Finger Puppet

A Beautiful Story

A beautifully written story of a brave little mouse called Winston who sets out on an adventure on Christmas eve. Winston found a letter that has gotten lost on its way to Father Christmas and he is on a mission to deliver it himself in time for Christmas day! Along the way Winston makes some wonderful friends.

This stunning Advent book makes a beautiful gift that can be re-read and used again each year, becoming an enjoyable Christmas tradition. Full of gorgeous illustrations this is certain to fill you with Christmas Cheer all through December.

Have you heard of How Winston Delivered Christmas before? What do you think of the idea of an Advent book?

First Parents Evening This School Year – Feeling Proud

The girls first parents evening for this school year came round quickly. I’ve missed several of Eva’s due to the school’s lack of organisation, cancelling then rebooking for the same time. It can be rather frustrating before you even get to the actual appointment. Luckily things have really improved this year and we attended last Tuesday.

First Parents Evening This School Year - Feeling Proud

Previous Parents Evenings

I love hearing how well Eva is doing and finding out any concerns we can resolve. My main worry is that the teachers miss far too much. I don’t feel the last few teachers have spent enough time around Eva to get to know her and how she is actually getting on. Her first teacher was amazing, she had Eva figured out instantly, worked out issues we could work on together and I couldn’t have been happier. Ever since then it hasn’t felt the same at all.

Frustrating

Eva’s last school report mentioned she needed to find an author she loves which infuriated me as at the time she had re-read ALL of the Harry Potter series 4/5 times and loves any J.K.Rowlings book she has discovered so far. For her teacher to have missed this huge obsession of hers was a shock to me.

The report also said she needed to read a variety of books, anyone who has read our blog for some time will have seen several of Eva’s book reviews. She literally reads anything and everything! She’s even bugged her dad to help her find more material and ended up reading a few of his old Commando comics. We visit the library almost every week and the girls quite often reach their 14 books limit. She is known as a bookworm yet somehow her teacher missed that for an entire year!?

Improvements

I’m glad the school has finally organised a better booking system for parents evening as it meant I can book both appointments closer together. As I don’t do the school runs, I try to make a point of attending parents evening myself.

Big girls off to school!

Eva’s Parents Evening 

Eva’s appointment was first, we met with her teacher in her classroom and we looked at Eva’s report so far. I have to say I felt immensely proud to see Eva is working above expectations. Her teacher had such lovely things to say about Eva, how clever, happy and kind she is. I had to breathe deep not to cry in all honesty!

Her teacher admitted at first they missed how well Eva was doing but moving her seat helped and she’s doing fantastic. To hear she writes amazing stories at school too was lovely. I left that classroom beaming with pride! Eva’s teacher seems perfect for her this year and I am so pleased she is getting the praise and encouragement she deserves in school as well as at home. 

First Parents Evening For Izzy

I have to admit I was nervous about Izzy’s parents evening. Having not been to nursery, I was unsure how she had adapted to school life. Whilst she was a little emotional in class to start, Izzy has grown much more confident and really enjoying school. We told her teacher about My Mood Stars and sent them in the next day for the class to use. I explained I hadn’t sent Izzy to a nursery which her teacher hadn’t realised. We discussed how instead we learnt through play at home. Her teacher seemed quite pleased with her progresss far although her full observation wasn’t due until this week.

Izzy showing Happy Stars

Due to being born with tongue tie we discussed her speech issues and the school feel she will improve with some sessions which is great! To hear she has a best friend already was lovely but to hear her friend has cerebral palsy and Izzy is extremely caring and helpful with her is absolutely beautiful! Izzy has such a caring, motherly nature that it doesn’t surprise me but makes me so proud of her.

Feeling Proud

I can’t really explain just how proud I feel of my girls, they are beautiful inside and out. Their teachers this year are both fantastic and I love that they have got to know the girls well already. The fact a teacher has finally realised Eva’s abilities is brilliant and I can see why Eva’s confidence has been boosted these last few months. Even if it has come with a little attitude at home, haha! 

Have you had your first parents evening yet this year? How did you child/ren get on?

Children’s Christmas Gifts 2018 & Personalised Colour In Activity Book Giveaway

There are fantastic Children’s Christmas gifts available and I’ve rounded a few up for you! I tend to steer away from the top toys each year, some are fantastic but can cost a fortune and end up untouched. Here are a few gifts I know will get used! All gifts are suitable for  4+.

Huewei Mediapad T5 10.1 Inch 16GB Wifi Tablet

Huawei Mediapad T5 10.1 Inch

I know I’m not the only parent who’s children have to do some homework online. It can be tricky on smaller tablets to see the full web page on certain homework sites. This 10.1 inch tablet is the perfect size and budget friendly! Running android 8.0 you can play the latest games and apps on a full HD screen. It has 16GB expandable memory, up to 9 hours of battery life and a 5MP camera. This fab tablet even comes with Microsoft office mobile suite, perfect for doing homework.

My Mood Stars

My Mood Stars Velcro Board and Stars

I recently reviewed My Mood Stars from Wendy Woo along with a book & tooth pocket. I think these would make great children’s christmas gifts! My Mood Stars is a fantastic toy designed to encourage children to understand feelings. This fun, interactive Velcro board and Mood Stars help children think about other peoples feelings as well as their own. For children with Autism or Asperger’s this product can help them associate feelings with facial expressions they otherwise may struggle to understand. This makes a great gift for children of any age. Check out my full review here to find out more.

Friendship Bracelet Kit

A more traditional gift that is bound to get used is this fantastic friendship bracelet kit from Find Me A Gift for just £8.99. Suitable for 8 years and up this is a fun gift that comes with all you need to create colourful friendship bracelets. This kit also comes with a pattern book to help you get started. 

Children’s Christmas DVD’s

DVD’s make great stocking or Christmas Eve box fillers. I include Christmas DVD’s in the girls Christmas Eve boxes every year which they love to watch snuggled up with a hot chocolate. Here are 3 Christmas films that would make a great gift.

The Grinch

The Grinch DVD

The mean, green, Grinch tries to stop Christmas in Whoville! After trying to steal all the presents and decorations on Christmas Eve the Grinch comes to learn the Christmas spirit is more than just tinsel and toys. Based on the quirky, well-loved book ‘Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas’. A genuinely funny film starring Jim Carey with a heart-warming storyline.

Trolls Holiday

Trolls Holiday - Christmas DVDs

Poppy, queen of the trolls discovers the Bergen’s no longer have any holidays on their calendars. Along with the rest of the Trolls gang, poppy tries to fix something the Bergen’s had no idea was broken! This film is bound to get any child up and dancing on their feet, a perfect stocking filler.

The Snowman

The Snowman - Christmas films

A magical musical adapted from Raymond Brigg’s classic picture book is a firm family favourite. This beautiful film tells the story of a boy whose snowman comes to life at midnight! Capturing the imagination of generations this film continues to enchant and is a Christmas film must have. Perfect for a Christmas eve box!

Harry Potter : A History Of Magic

Harry Potter A History Of Magic

Another great stocking filler DVD is less Christmassy but just as magical! Any Harry Potter lovers will be spellbound by this Harry Potter: A History Of Magic.

Lunar Legends Personalised Book Cover Art Print

Lunar legends personalised book cover

Ink & Tot create unique personalised prints like this stunning book cover! Perfect for book lovers looking to write their own short stories. 

Rudolph Heat Change Mug 

Rudolph Heat Change Mug

A perfect stocking filler or Christmas Eve box gift, this Rudolph heat change mug is only €14.95 from CoolGift.com. Children will love to snuggle up with a film and a nice hot chocolate watching Rudolph’s nose glow red when hot!

Unicorn Heat Change Mug

Unicorn Heat Change Mug

Perfect for Unicorn fans, this cute mug changes colour when filled with hot liquids! Add an extra touch of magic to those Christmas hot chocolates watching the mane turn from purple to rainbow! 

Little Star & Little Rainbow Childen’s Bead Necklaces

Little Stars Necklace - Halia rose

I LOVE Halia Rose children’s jewellery. They make fantastic gifts all year round including Christmas! We already have the rainbow necklace Eva received for her birthday, which she loves and the Yellow star necklace is just as lovely.

Halia Rose Little Rainbows Necklace

Made from food grade silicone & BPA free. They are safe and nontoic, perfect for children.  Easy to clean withsoapy water or in the dishwasher under 65.

Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Necklace 

Harry Potter necklace - This material culture

This Material Culture has a range of unique jewellery gifts, handmade in Liverpool. I love this Harry Potter Necklace, it is a great stocking filler for any Harry Potter fan! 

Wannabees Role Play Packs

Wannabees Cafe Owner Pack

These fab books have everything you need inside to help children in their chosen role.  Izzy loves to bake and cook, she loves visiting local cafes and we were kindly sent the Café pack which I know will get so much use!

I Want To Be A Teacher

We absolutely love Wannabees Role Play Packs, you can be a Doctor, Café Owner or a Teacher! We have the Teacher role pack and the girls have used it quite a bit.

I want to be a Doctor

Playbrush Smart Sonic

Playbrush Smart Sonic

The Playbrush Smart Sonic is an interactive toothbrush for children 3+ with extra soft brush heads. This playful toothbrush connects via Bluetooth to iOS/Android so you can play motivational games controlling the brushing movements. t. Unique technology measures and gives feedback on brushing accuracy, speed, pressure, position, frequency and duration. This then provides audo feedback and evaluates the brushing reults for parents through statistics. 

Scientific studies (2017) show that children using Playbrush brush their teeth twice as long, more regularly and have more fun *115 kids with Playbrush Smart*


Personalised Colour In Activity Book A3

Personalised Colour In Activity Book A3

Personalised gifts are great and this one is perfect for young children learning to spell and recognise their own name. With 34 pages of fun activities and their name on each page to colour in or trace, this is a unique and fun gift. You can also add a personal message to the activity book to make it extra special. 

Isobella Personalise activity book

Win A Personalised Colour In Activity Book A3

Enter the Rafflecoptor giveaway below for a chance to win one of these lovely activity books yourself.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be contacted within 24 hours to provide personalisation details and delivery address which will be passed on to The Personalised Gift Shop to dispatch your prize. 

*Most of these items have been gifted in exchange for a feature but all opinions are my own.

Soothing Skin With Eucerin #MyAquaphor

I’m using a Soothing Skin Balm from Eucerin called Aquaphor. Having sensitive skin due to Eczema I often struggle to find products that help.

Soothing Skin with Eucerin Aquaphor

Soothing Skin Balm

I was kindly sent a sample of Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm to try out. Designed to give dry to very dry, cracked and irritated skin the SOS care it needs for all the family. Containing only 8 ingredients, Aquaphor is gentle enough to use on highly irritated skin, babies skin and as a nappy cream.

#MyAquaphor

Protecting skin by creating a breathable protective barrier, Eucerin Aquaphor soothing skin balm allows the skin to breathe. Allowing oxygen and water vapor to circulate to and from the skin helps strengthen it natural barrier function.

Dry Skin

Izzy fell over at school a few weeks back and ended up with a big graze on her chin. Of course, she picked this like mad at first and other creams have done very little. It was so dry and cracked from the cold weather but no longer weeping so I decided to see if Eucerin Aquaphor would help. After a bath, I put some on Izzy’s chin and left it. As you can see below it was quite bad to begin with!

Unicorn Crown

I then forgot to use Eucerin Aquaphor for a day or so and you could see her chin was beginning to irritate Izzy again. We’ve started using it again and it is slowly helping. As you can see below it has gone from an almost heart-shaped scab to 2 smaller scabs and the skin is healing around it at last. Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin balm is amazing!

Izzy's chin is healing using Eucerin Aquaphor

Eczema

I have Eczema and really struggle during the winter with my skin. My arms are full of makes from tearing my arms apart so I thought I’d try using Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm for myself too. After a bath, I slathered my arms in the balm and it instantly felt soothing. Usually, my arms feel on fire even after a cool bath or shower and I can’t stop scratching!

Eczema calming with Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm

I forgot to take a before photo but the photo above shows my arm after a week of use. I suddenly realised I hadn’t been scratching anywhere near as much. There aren’t any fresh scabs where my skin feels much calmer and it is a lovely relief. I can see Eucerin Aquaphor becoming a household essential for us and can see why it has been a household stable since it was first introduced to the US market in 1925.

Have you used Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm before?

*This post is an entry for the BritMums #MyAquaphor Challenge, sponsored by Eucerin. Discover the benefits of Eucerin https://www.eucerin.co.uk/products/aquaphor/soothing-skin-balm-45ml

Free By Fiona Morgan – Book Review

I’ve read Free by Fiona Morgan* over the last fortnight. Since Izzy started reception I’ve felt less guilty about reading. I’ve always been passionate about reading but with 2 kids I found it hard to make time. Children’s books have been the main reads over the last 8 years! Now I get more me-time I’ve spent my afternoons enjoying a few chapters with a hot chocolate! 

Free By Fiona Morgan

Fiona Morgan is a lovely author who I chat to on Twitter, I wanted to show her some support by giving her books a read. I have her first 2 books which you can buy as paperbacks from Amazon or download on Kindle.

Free & What's Mine by Fiona Morgan

Free

Free is the first book Fiona has written and I have to admit I was a little sad to finish it! It’s one of those books where you get to know the characters so well you actually miss them. 

Ava’s boyfriend Nathan has convinced her she is useless, incapable of being independent in anyway and regularly beats it into her. She seems to push his buttons whatever she says or does and causes Nathan to get angry! After a chance meeting with a guy called Neil who is completely different and so understanding, Ava plucks up the courage to leave Nathan. One day after a beating she calls Neil and makes her escape. 

You can’t leave me!

Leaving an abuser is never easy and Nathan is extremely persistent when it comes to pursuing Ava, causing both Ava and Neil mental anguish. Nathan is adamant Ava is his and she can’t leave him or live without him. The long-buried memories of Neil’s father are brought back in to focus as he helps Ava. Caught up in uncertainty and physical violence, Ava and Neil’s growing tender love is put to the test! 

Perfectly Captured

Fiona captures every angle so perfectly throughout the book and you can’t help but feel the storyline. For someone who has lived with an abuser and witnessed it on several occasions. I’ve seen and heard so many similar stories that Free feels like real life. From thoughts & feelings to actions, everything is spot on. I’m not usually a fan of Romance Thrillers. I prefer thrillers but Free doesn’t go overboard on the romance side and I found myself wanting to see how their relationship developed! 

I’m looking forward to the girls going to school tomorrow so I can start reading What’s Mine! I’ve managed 7 books so far this year and hoping to make it 8. With captivating storylines like Fiona’s, I may even top that!

Fiona Morgan - Author of Free

Do you like romance thrillers? Have you heard of Fiona Morgan’s books before? 

*This is not a sponsored post. 

10 Weird and Wonderful Things About Flats

I’ve found 10 Weird and Wonderful things about flats! Living in flats myself, this really interests me. 

The global population predicted  to rise from 7.6 billion to 9.8 billion by 2050.  Two thirds of us are expected to live in a city by then and it’s highly likely we’ll be living even closer to our neighbours!

10 Weird and Wonderful Things About Flats

There are already a high proportion of flats in the UK.  The Government estimates 2.75m private leasehold flats across in England. This works out to an eighth of properties, not including Scotland and Wales!

Deacon Insurance specialists told us 10 weird and wonderful things about flats past, present and future. I just had to share them with you!

10 Weird and Wonderful Things About Flats

The Romans built the first flats


Did you know it was the Romans who built the first flats? Rome’s success led to massive population growth in the first century BC. Housing became a major challenge so the Romans built stronger, higher structures.  They used concrete, based on lime and volcanic sand. This allowed them to create new architectural forms, while a standardised brick allowed for speedy and reliable construction. Early multi-storey blocks typically had shops on the ground floor with apartments on two or more floors above. These multi-storey blocks were called insula or “islands”. They were called this because they usually occupied an entire city block. Roads flowed around these blocks like the sea.

2. Forest flats!

Two Milan apartment buildings have trees swaying on balconies and sunshine dapples the leaves of thousands of plants creating a vertical forest!  Milanese architect Stefano Boeri created the Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) using more than 20,000 trees and plants. These adorn the high-rise buildings from top to bottom. This project is now being exported all over the world, from China to the Netherlands. Trees are good for cities and the people that live in them.

3. Forgotten for 70 years

You have to read this to believe it! Back in 1934,before the outbreak of hostilities of WWII, a famous actress called Marthe de Florian fled her Paris apartment for the south of France never returned. Extraordinarily, the owner of the building never noticed!  When he died in 2010, experts called in to assess the value of his estate and stumbled across a scene that was frozen in time.  The flat was left untouched by time!


4. Shapeshifters

It may sound like science fiction, but the world’s first shape shifting rotating tower block is set to be built for Dubai by 2020 according to architectural firm Dynamic Group.

5. Recycling on a gargantuan scale

In our inner cities some of the biggest re-cycling projects of the millennium are taking place. Where familiar buildings are being saved from demolition or neglect by being converted into flats. This means the original character and features of landmark buildings are preserved. The BBC Television Centre at White City, Battersea Power Station and the Hoover Building in London are fine examples. The first residential tower block in the UK, “The Lawn”, was constructed in Harlow, Essex in 1951. This is now a Grade II listed building. Conversions are taking place across the country with no shortage of buyers for urban loft apartments in prime city centre locations. The trend is set to continue!

6 That whistle in your apartment block is a train coming through!
Chinese planners wouldn’t let a railway get in the way of the need to build more flats. Apartments were desperately needed in the emerging mega-city of Chongqing. So the train line simply goes straight through the residential building!

7. Tallest, Smallest, Largest – where in the world?

Currently, the Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa skyscraper is the tallest in the world standing at 72 metres high.  In 2020 this is set to change as the 1000 metre mile high Jeddah Tower, with serviced apartments, is set to claim the prize of being the world’s tallest building. For a while anyway!  

The Chinese city of Wuhan has serious concerns of overpopulation so they’ve gone tiny.  The city has built two person apartments that are only 50 square feet! 

As for the largest, the first prize has to go to The Copan Building in São Paulo, familiar to Sim City players as a building they can drop in.  The 38-story residential building comprises over 1,160 apartment units and homes more than 5,000 residents!

8. Going underground and underwater?

It may seem crazy but architects are looking seriously at the possibilities of building down rather than up! In 2011 a so-called Earthscraper for Mexico City was mooted, a 35-storey upside down pyramid. The concept is still on the drawing board, with a host of practical and structural challenges to overcome. The Mexico City proposal is still the only plan to have been seriously put forward. With 70% of the earth’s surface covered by water, surely underwater cities are next? Sure enough, Aequorea, a visionary city that would be built off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, has been proposed.

9. Most expensive

Unsurprisingly, London ranks No.2 in the world for the highest cost of a city centre flat, second only to Hong Kong. How do living costs vary within the UK? MSN Money looked at different costs of living in UK cities , with housing as the major component. Not surprisingly London came out top, you need £7090 a month to live a comfortable life. Oxford, Edinburgh and Brighton at £5000 a month come very close. Ouch! You could commute and halve your living costs. Southampton residents need ‘only’ about £3000 a month. Although after years of rail strikes and woes, that could be cold comfort.  If money were no object? The UK’s most expensive flat, valued in October 2018 came in at £160 million.  It’s address?  One Hyde Park, London. SW1

10. The last word…..the legacy of feudalism

People are often amazed to learn that it is still possible to lose your flat and be left with nothing if you break the terms of the lease or don’t pay service charges! No matter how long you’ve been paying your mortgage or service charges, this still applies.

It has become harder over the years for a freeholder (aka landlord) to get you out and claim the flat, but it can happen.  Where did such a feudal practice come from? Land law in Britain owes much to the feudal system that developed following the Norman Conquest with the rights to grant inferior interests (aka leases) in land and to take income from these.  

By the 16th century, the law of leases in England and Wales had become a very confusing system. An attempt to tackle this was the Law of Property Acts 1925, which limited ownership to either freehold or leasehold as we do today. Interestingly, covenants on freehold property defines only what you cannot do. On leasehold they can also say what you must do, such as pay for the upkeep of an asset still ultimately owned by the freeholder!

In Scotland it’s all very different, where no duty to pay ‘feu duty, the equivalent of ground rent, could be set up after 1974. No residential lease for more than 20 years could be created.  The feudal structure was finally abolished in Scotland in 2004. Further laws since have converted long leases over 175 years into straightforward ownership.  

* Deacon has specialised in providing buildings insurance and associated products for flats and apartments for more than 29 years. Find out more at www.deacon.co.uk