Nick Hewer Twitter Q&A – The Answers!

Nick Hewer Twitter q&A

On 6th October 2015, we hosted an engaging Twitter Q&A with the highly successful businessman, Nick Hewer. Nick gave us an insight into the business world and offered advice for budding entrepreneurs on the hashtag, #AskNick.

Nick Hewer is well known as the host of Channel 4’s Countdown, and from 2005 to 2014 he appeared as Lord Sugar’s adviser on the British television series, The Apprentice. Nick has been working with Bark.com since our inception, so we were delighted to have him take over our Twitter feed, offering valuable business advice and providing career inspiration along the way. If you haven’t yet seen it, here’s Nick explaining how Bark.com works earlier this year.

Missed out on the Q&A? Don’t worry, because we have compiled Nick’s answers for you to digest below!

Nick Hewer Opening Q&A

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After a fantastic Q&A, Nick signed off…

Nick Hewer end of Q&A

Thanks to everyone who got involved in the Q&A! Was your question answered? Is there anything else you would like to #AskNick? Let us know in the comments below!

And while you’re at it, make sure you follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page or visit our blog to keep up to date with Bark news, tips and advice!

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Tying Up Loose Ends Before Going On Your Travels

The flights are booked, the selfie stick has been bought and your blog is up and running. Going travelling, or indeed moving abroad, is one of life’s most exciting adventures. All that stands between you and wanderlust is the passport checks and baggage reclaim, right? Wrong… You can’t just up and leave without tying up the loose ends your bound to encounter in the run up to your trip. From learning the local language to arranging a new home for your pooch, here’s some words of wisdom from the wise heads at Bark for you to bare In mind before you board that flight.

Home From Home

Preparing to move abroadWe’ll start with the obvious, your property. A big decision needs to be made here. Do you cash in and sell your home, or do you let it out for the duration of your stay abroad? It can be very tantalising to sell your property. Prices have increased in value by around 40% since 2011. However, you’ll want a safety net in the form of shelter in the scenario that your travels turn into a holiday from hell and you want to return pronto. That leaves us with renting. First, you need to ensure your insurance and mortgage providers are happy for your property to be converted from owner-occupier to rented. It’s best to find an expert mortgage advisor to help you with this part. What’s more, you’ll need to maximise the rentability of your home and spruce it up a bit before finding a suitor. That may require a professional to come in an address that niggling plumbing problem, or a handyman to fix the small jobs. Then there’s the small issue with tax. Landlords and property owners living abroad will still have to file a tax return every year. Sound complicated? You can always ask a tax professional to lend you a helping hand.

Learn The Lingo

Preparing to move abroadYou may think that you’ll pick up the local language easily once you’re out there and going about your daily life, but its always best to gain a grasp of the language of the country your heading to before you arrive. Us Brits are notorious for showing up on foreign soil and expecting the locals to be fluent in English– don’t be one of them. Be it Spanish, French, Chinese or whatever language you’re looking to learn, there’ll be a professional on hand to get you speaking like a local in no time. Just to us what language you’re looking to learn and we can find the ideal language professional. Capisce?

Store Those Memories

Preparing to move abroadAnother major headache of moving abroad is deciding what to do with your belongings. Most airlines these days place limits on how much you can place in the hold or in the cabin. If you’re renting out your place, you wont be able to keep stuff there, and we doubt your parents will be happy holding refuge to every possession you’ve deciding against taking with you on your travels. Your best bet is putting it into storage. It’s safe and secure and saves so much hassle. What’s more, it’s reassuring to know that your cherished possessions are stored, ready to be reunited with you when you return. If you go down the storage route, you’ll need a removal professional to transport your possessions to and fro. Or, if you prefer, you can always do it yourself and hire a van to get the job done.

Dog’s Life

Preparing to move abroadThis advice may tug on your heartstrings, so a word of caution against proceeding if you can’t face the prospect of giving up your best friend. One of the harsh realities of moving abroad is leaving your loved ones. Giving up a pet can be especially tearful. Of course, you’ll want to ensure your pet receives the best care possible in your absence, and if you intend to return in the not too distant future. If worst comes to worst and you have to say goodbye to your pooch for good, you’ll need to find a professional pet adoption agency.

Goodbye, Farewell

Preparing to move abroadSo, you’ve tidied up the home ready to let out, the taxman knows you’re heading abroad, and happy in the knowledge your pet is in safe hands. All that’s left to do is throw the biggest going away bash in history. This is your chance let out all the stress of preparing your move abroad and say goodbye to all your loved ones. You’ll need to plan this thoroughly. If you simply don’t have the time to organise your own do, you can find a professional to plan the party for you. From preparing food and drink, to finding the right venue, the team at Bark can ensure you get the perfect send off.

For more Bark.com tips and insights, why not check out our other blogs?

Hosting For The Masses: Ten Street Foods to Wow Your Guests

Summer barbecues may seem like a distant memory already, but as the colder months approach, there are still plenty of opportunities to celebrate and host coming up in the calendar. So, why not really go all out to impress your guests with your culinary prowess?

At Bark.com, we’ve seen requests for all manner of catering rise as hosts look to spice up their socials with dishes from around the world, so if you’re looking for a little inspiration, why not try one of our top ten street food picks to get the party started.

  1.  DIY tacos and burritos: A simple Mexican staple, but easy to personalise, lay out the wraps and taco shells, and provide bowls of chilli con carne, rice, cheese, salsa, guacamole and an array of vegetables. People can pick and choose as they like.Street Food Trends 2015
  2. Bubble Tea: Becoming ever more common in the UK, this beverage first found popularity in the streets of Taiwan. Traditionally a cold milk tea mixed with tapioca balls, there are now a variety of flavours to choose from – milk or juice based – and fruit jellies or popping balls that can be included for a refreshing non-alcoholic alternative drink.

    Street Food Trends 2015
    Popping onto the UK scene
  3. Poutine: Straight over the Atlantic from Canada, Poutine seems like the perfect complement to a boozy evening. Chips, gravy and cheese…what more could your guests want?
    Poutine: Summer food trends 2015
  4. Bunny Chow: This South African delicacy really gives you options. Hollow out some bread and fill it with a curry of your choice. This fun dish is great for soaking up alcohol, but maybe keep the napkins at the ready.

    Street Food trends 2015
    Dig deep for Bunny Chow
  5. Arepa: Heading to South America, this slightly thicker flatbread dish is popular in Colombia and Venezuela and it is usually filled with a combination cheese, egg and avocado.Street Food Trends 2015
  6. Jerk Chicken: Something a bit more familiar here, but a well-loved dish-if you can handle the spice! You could serve this with rice, or make it more of a casual party food by skewering it with peppers and pineapple.

    Street Food Trends 2015
    It pays to be a jerk
  7.  Currywurst: This idea of curried sausage may seem odd to some, but citizens of Germany swear by it. The sausage is steamed and then fried, sliced and served with a spiced tomato sauce. Leave in a bowl or serve with chips – whatever suits your guests.

    Street Food UK trends 2015
    The ultimate German street food
  8. Ceviche: This Peruvian speciality may not be ideal for all but the blend of raw fish marinated in citrus juices and seasoned with onions and chillies can be served with a variety of side dishes such as sweet potato, avocado and corn. It’s certainly among the lighter options! What’s more, go the extra mile and wow your guests by gaining a firm grasp of the local dialect.

    Street Food Trends 2015
    Image courtesy of The Pescertarian and The Pig
  9. Burek:  Go to a street stall in Bosnia and you’ll be greeted by many different types of pastry goods. The main flaky favourite is made with ground beef but there are alternatives filled with egg and cheese or potato and onion. If these don’t suit you, why not explore with your own flavour combinations?

    Ten street food trends UK
    Burek: Perfectly Flaky
  10. Banh Mi: All over Vietnam, you’ll see stalls serving baguettes, covered in mayonnaise and pâté, filled with pork or meatballs and garnished with cucumber, carrots, coriander and chillies. They’re a firm, if slightly messy, favourite among tourists, but perhaps worth cutting into smaller bite sized pieces for an easy to handle snack.
Street Foods UK Trends 2015
Banh Mi: A tourist favourite

People will always remember the food from parties so if you can pull some of these off then it will help to make yours one to remember for a long time! Or have the dishes but save yourself the trouble and find a caterer or even a professional chef to do the hard work for you – we won’t tell if you don’t!

For more Bark.com tips and insights, why not check out our other blogs?

An easy guide: How to build an online presence for your small business

We are surrounded by media. From when we sit at the bus stop in the morning to when we chill out in front of the TV in the evening, we are constantly targeted by large companies and brands who are desperate to gain our attention. This has become increasingly prevalent in the age of social media, which has provided another avenue from which brands can target us, even drilling down into our demographics and interests. With that in mind, small business owners now need to make sure that they are developing an online presence, to make them stand out in industries that are already heavily saturated.

It’s common knowledge that online presence means brand awareness. Nowadays, how you present your brand online is similar to meeting a customer for the first time. Your online brand is essentially what people think of you when you are not available. Online presence is often a test of credibility for many technologically savvy consumers, who would rather connect with businesses online first before making a purchasing decision. This poses an opportunity to impress and capture the attention of potential customers. These days the first port of call when looking for information about a product or a service is to ‘Google’ it, meaning online presence is crucial if you want to make your business a successful one.

So how can you become a major player in this competitive age? Here are 5 ways to effectively maximise your online presence:

Branding 

No matter how big or small your company is – branding matters. From word go a clear and consistent branding strategy should be developed, which can be pumped across all online channels to create brand recognition. According to the founder of The NY Brand Lb, Mary Van de Wiel, “without a brand you ultimately lack an identity, a presence – and a purpose.” You should think about your tone of voice and your values, as well as your visual aesthetic. Not particularly creative? Don’t know where to start? Then maybe you should find a graphic designer who can help you pinpoint what your business is about in a visually appealing way.

Communicate your brand
Shout loud about your brand

Website Design and Development 

You never know who will be knocking on your virtual door at any time of the day or night – so make sure your home on the Internet is kitted out for new visitors! Creating and more importantly maintaining a website is a useful tool for every business. Here, you can shout loud about your portfolio of work and maybe even offer your tuppence-worth via a company blog. Your website needs to be functional and user friendly, and this is where a professional with experience in website design and development may come in handy! Once you find the right web developer, start thinking about optimising your website. This will make sure that your website performs well on search engines – just like the aforementioned Google! Be front and centre of the online world, and drive traffic to your website with the help of an SEO professional.

Web Site Design
Build a user-friendly website!

Social Media

You’ve developed your brand, and mastered your website. But how can you enhance the visibility of your brand even further? The key is to make sure you are on social media – which is both effective and cost effective. Social media not only helps you to grow your customer base by reaching a wider audience, it also helps you to promote brand recognition and loyalty. Find a social media marketer who can help you maximise channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Although not the most widely used social network, G+ should also be maximised. Effective use of G+ can determine your inclusion and ranking in the carousel of businesses that appear at the top of the Google search results. As well as aiding your SEO, there are also advanced features available to businesses using G+. Check out G+ for yourself and add Bark.com to your circles!

If you’re feeling particularly competitive, you might want to also get set up on new and emerging social networks like Snapchat and Periscope. The opportunities are endless!

Be active on social media
Engage with your customers via social media

Email Marketing

In this day and age, almost everyone has an online presence in some form, even if it is just an email address. Email marketing is a sure way to stay on the radar of potential customers, and it can definitely allow you to establish profitable relationships in the long term. This is to be used wisely, and should not be spam abuse. Instead your emails should offer something to the consumer – be it special offers, industry news or company updates. Feeling a little confused? Then find an email marketer to help you get the job done.

Build a customer database
Build a targeted email marketing campaign

Online Directories

Regardless of how strong your online presence is, you won’t be able to sit back, relax and let the cash flow in. You need to get ahead of your competitors, who are battling against you with extensive advertising budgets. If a customer can’t find you when they are searching for a product or a service, then you simply won’t get the business. Joining an online directory like our very own Bark.com ensures that you are placed directly in front of the right people, often for a very minimal spend. No matter what service you provide, learn more about joining Bark by visiting our Pro-Centre.

Incorporating a targeted email marketing campaign with your slick new branding, user-friendly website and engaging social media strategy will set your small business on a path to success, all with the added help from an online directory like Bark.com!

Do you have any other tips for small business owners? Let us know!

For more Bark.com tips and insights, why not check out our other blogs?

 

Rugby World Cup 2015 – Let the games begin!

At last the gusto, chatting and mind games can finally come to an end as we find ourselves on the eve of the start of the Rugby World Cup. This is not any ordinary World Cup being hosted in England. You feel a repeat of their run to the final in 1991, the last time the tournament was played on home soil, represents the bare minimum most fans, players and pundits expect. We at Bark.com have been as guilty as anyone in getting excited and with friends across the Severn Bridge becoming sworn enemies over the next couple of weeks; it promises to be a tasty pool stage.

Rugby World Cup - England 2015 garden party
Have yourself a ball this Autumn

The plan is that much like the class of 2003 and the Ashes Winning side of 2005 and the football team of…oh wait… this side has the ability to inspire a nation. It may lead to younger children looking for coaching or perhaps for those already playing and seeing the size of those on the field, regular trips to the gym or hiring a personal trainer may be on the cards. It could well be the flexibility of the players that has you in awe and in that case don’t be afraid to do a Ryan Giggs and hire a yoga instructor or find a Pilates experts but there is always the far more appealing option of finding a hiring a massage therapist to ease those muscle aches and pains.

If participating isn’t for you then there is still plenty to do as a spectator and a number of ways to enjoy the experience. While most would have been unable to get their hands on tickets or flat out refuse to pay the extortionate fees, the TV at home or pub with friends represents a decent alternative. You may want to host a rugby-related event for friends and family, or you could leave the barbecuing to the expert and let the good times flow. If you’re really going to get in to the tournament, you may also be keen to look the part and get the shirt of your choice to help support your team; you will not be struggling to find Rugby World Cup memorabilia for the next six weeks.

BBQ enjoying World Cup
We don’t want any shrimps on the barbie…

Hope can often be one of the worst human emotions but hope is exactly what this English team represents. If a tricky group containing fellow heavyweights Australia and Wales can be negotiated and South Africa can be avoided in the quarter-finals then England can expect to go pretty close to claiming the Webb Ellis Trophy which they last won down under in 2003. An encouraging Six Nations performance, much-improved display against Ireland in their final warm-up and a patriotic Twickenham crowd who will be present throughout has given renewed confidence to this mercurial but inexperienced England side.  The likes of Jonathan Joseph, George Ford and Andre Watson all have the ability to be match winners on their day but none have ever played so far as a minute in a World Cup match. Be bold, courageous and back your skills should surely be the advice to let these young flyers flourish.

You only have to look back to 1995 and the victory for the Rainbow Nation and the iconic image of Nelson Mandela handing the trophy to South Africa captain Francois Pienaar to see the enormous unifying nature that the tournament can offer. Let’s hope the country can take heed from that competition as well as the feel-good factor of the 2012 London Olympics and get behind the home nations and give the whole country a lift.

Winter is Coming: Prepare Your Home For The Colder Months

The Great British summer is well and truly over. Bar the odd mid autumn balmy weather, we’ve got darker mornings, bitter winds and winter coats to look forward to as winter sets in. Don’t worry, we’re not there just yet, but have you thought about how well equipped your home is to deal with the chillier months? If you’re not sure, it’s best to double check that everything is shipshape before the cold snap because the last thing you need is a winter domestic mishap that puts you out of pocket and potentially out of home.

Here are the most important areas to prepare around your home to ensure you’re ready for winter.

Pipe Down
Pipes Winter insulation
Prepare your pipes

First things first, it is absolutely crucial that you head into winter with well insulated piping. Poorly protected pipes that aren’t properly insulated are likely to freeze during winter, and with that bring an inevitable blockage that could wreak havoc inside your home; potentially a complete central heating collapse or even dreaded water damage. Of course, you can prep your pipes yourself, but we always suggest calling in the expert just to be on the safe side. For your pipes to last the winter, they’ll need to be well insulated, checked regularly and have a regular supply of warm air circulating through them. If your pipes do freeze, it’s best to summon a professional plumber as fast as possible.

Bonnie Boiler
house heating boiler
Service your boiler regularly

October 31st . Save the date. According to HomeServe, that is the day that 28% of us Brits turn our central heating on, ready for the frost. With just under a month before we reach for the dial, make sure your boiler is well pressurised, your radiators are bled and, above all, the central heating has been serviced. It’s recommended that you service your boiler once a year, so now would be the perfect time to do just that. Find a local plumber to service your boiler and check your whole system.

 First Draught
Draught proofing home WInter
Porches and conservatories are perfect for maintaining heat

It’s the little things that make the biggest difference. There’s nothing worse than trying to keep nice and cosy on a cold winter’s night only for a chilly draught to invade your home. Door and window frames, floorboards and letterboxes are the main culprits for allowing the draught in. A simple DIY session can amend these gaps and leave your home nice and toasty. You could even go the whole ten yards and install a porch or conservatory onto your property; ultimate protection for maintaining the warmth, and added space to relax in.

Glazed over
Preparing home for winter
Window of opportunity

Installing double-glazing on your property this winter has three main benefits. The obvious one is that it helps insulate your home and keep out the cold. Not only that, it’ll also muffle any unwanted sounds from outside. Third, and perhaps most importantly, installing double-glazing can help you save up to £170 a year on your energy bills. Have we won you over? Thought so. Find an expert to install double-glazing on your property.

Roof And Ready
Roof repairs and maintenance winter
Preparing your roof for winter is vital

The roof is perhaps the most overlooked part of any property, but ensuring it’s in prime condition is probably the most crucial part of our heat-saving masterplan. Winter brings falling leaves, and with that brings blocked gutters. What may be a quick-fix can easily become a major issue that threatens to undo all your hard work. What’s more, if you have cracks and weaknesses around the roof, the dastardly frost can wreak havoc and cause leaks that require a costly fix. It’s important to check your roof as often as possible before winter sets in, both from the inside and the outside. If you suspect anything is wrong, however slight, it’s probably best you find a roofer to fix the issue. What may be a relatively cheap fix could end up costing thousands if left unattended.

Ensure you’re insured
Preparing your property for Winter
Play it safe and get home insurance

So, if you’ve stuck to the plan, you should have your pipes sorted, your boiler in tip-top shape and a nice warm home complete with double-glazing and a new roof. Bring it on, Winter. Right? Wrong. The last thing you need is to be complacent and think that the job is done. It is crucial that you’re fully insured to cover the worst case scenario. Who knows what weather we could have in store?

It’s always best to cover every base and insure your home. After all, what’s the point in going to great lengths to prep your home for it all to come unstuck through freak weather?

Your health is your wealth! Alternative ways to keep your mind and body healthy from Bark.com

We live in a rat race. It’s a lifestyle where we’re constantly exposed to stress, with increasing workloads, hectic schedules and an expensive cost of living. Long work hours, unpaid overtime, stressful jobs, less time with loved ones and the length of time spent commuting has led to emotional exhaustion. Commencing burnout in 3…2…1…

According to British psychologist Dr. Richard Wiseman, the overall pace of life has increased by 10% worldwide since the 1990s. You may even find that some places have seen an increase of 20%! Advancements in technology have contributed to a rise in the collective sense of urgency. The rate at which we communicate and work has increased, contributing to more stress-induced illnesses. A vicious circle, you may agree!

At Bark.com, we believe in working hard. However, we also see the importance of a more harmonious work-life balance. With that, we’ve taken inspiration from a variety of our Sellers to compile a list of alternative ways to fix ailments and keep your mind and body healthy – particularly in this hectic world we live in.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture comes from traditional Chinese medicine and is most commonly used to treat pain. Acupuncture is a technique where thin needles are inserted into the body at specific points, to manipulate the ‘flow’ of energy or Qi. Like blood in the circulatory system, Qi goes through the body via pathways, which are called meridians. According to the University of Miami, when factors like stress, injury or poor nutrition disrupt the regular flow of Qi, health issues follow. Acupuncture can also sometimes provide a boost in your immune system, which is key if you lead an unforgiving and fast paced lifestyle. Not only is Acupuncture good for pain, it is also a natural way to treat anxiety. Experts claim that it works faster than therapy, while keeping you drug-free at the same time. If this alternative treatment is for you, why not search for an Acupuncture specialist in your area?

Acupuncture in practice
Let the Qi flow…

Reiki Healing

Taking inspiration from Asia once more, next on our list is Reiki Healing. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. But how does it differ to Acupuncture? Reiki is based on the principle of ‘laying on hands’ to activate healing and restore physical and emotional wellbeing. During Reiki, a therapist can channel energy into a patient by means of touch, so it is once again a natural healing process. Reiki is a very spiritual type of healing, but there is no religious belief associated with its practice. Reiki has become very popular recently with therapists practicing across the UK. Need to find the balance? Then find Reiki Healing practitioners near you.

Reiki Healing in Practice
Channel your energy with Reiki

Hypnotherapy

What do you think of when you think of Hypnotherapy? Do you see hypnotherapy as something that is associated with comedy? Do you see hypnotherapy as a way to end an addiction? What about stress relief?

Hypnotherapy is more frequently being used for stress and anxiety treatment. So if life is becoming too exhausting, maybe now is the time to search for a hypnotherapist who can help you through it. Like many alternative treatments, hypnosis can help you relieve and manage your stress levels, but it also aims to eliminate or reduce the problems causing the stress internally. Oftentimes, for example, there are things that have happened in the past that we have not dealt with. Hypnotherapists claim that they can help you change the way your mind tells your body to deal with certain situations – ultimately helping you to stay relaxed and in control.

Hypnosis treatment in practice
Take control of your mind…

Massage Therapy

If Reiki, Acupuncture or Hypnotherapy are not for you, then why not choose to go down the Massage Therapy route instead? Massage has been practiced for thousands of years. Today, you can choose from among 80 massage therapy styles with a wide variety of pressures, techniques and movements e.g. Swedish, Deep Tissue, Sports and Hot Stone Massage. Similarly to the other therapies, massage can provide stress relief as well as help with certain medical conditions. Before you find your Massage Therapist and get booked in, you might want to ask yourself why exactly you want the massage. Do you simply want some ‘me time’, some relaxation or do you need relief from a health condition? Be mindful of this to make sure you’re getting the best massage for your needs.

Therapist doing massage
We all need some ‘me time’…

Have you tried any of the above, or do you have a favourite alternative treatment? Let us know!

For other top tips and advice from Bark.com, why not check out our other blogs?

Get Inspired, Get Fit This Autumn

To put elite sport into some sort of context, the England Rugby World Cup squad have been in a training camp for almost ten weeks in attempt to get fit and focused for the upcoming tournament, which gets underway in just under two weeks. That’s almost three months of fine tuning fitness and ensuring each squad member is at the top of their physical game once kick off comes on 18th September, a process described as ‘grim’ by Saracens Back Row Billy Vunipola. England Coach Stuart Lancaster is adamant when he says: “If you are not fit, everything else falls apart”.

Obviously, we are not all elite athletes at the top of our game. To some of us, just getting to the gym or putting some sort of effort into exercise is an achievement in itself. Nonetheless, if sporting events like the World Cup or the US Open have got you inspired, here are some useful tips to help you get fit and in better shape this autumn.

Rally Your Fitness

The US Open got underway last weekend, so what perfect time than to delve into your cupboard, dust off your racquet and don that Fred Perry polo? Sport England estimates that there are 4,118 places to play tennis in England, Scotland and Wales. That’s 21,186 courts in total, so ample space to get involved. What’s more, tennis is great for improving your health; studies show that playing for three hours a week can halve your risk of death from any cause. In a fitness context, tennis is a real whole-body workout, and just 30 minutes of serving, rallying and arguing over touchline calls with the umpire can burn 300 calories.

Of course, not all of us are the second coming of Roger Federer when we take to the courts, but that shouldn’t put you off. There’s loads of ways to get into the sport and Bark.com help you if you’re looking for tennis lessons to get started.

Tennis Lessons UK
Serve yourself into shape
Brace yourself, Rugby is coming

In around a fortnight’s time, just about everybody in the UK will proclaim themselves an ardent rugby fan and profess to know everything there is to know about the game. In all seriousness, the Rugby World Cup, getting underway from 18th September in the UK, will generate major interest within the country and may well inspire many to pursue their new found interest in the sport. If your one of those looking to join the scrum and kick-start a belated rugby career, the sport is seriously good for building strength and endurance. Just remember that the game is as tough as it looks.

With that in mind, if you don’t fancy the challenge of facing off against a brick-wall of a forward every Saturday, there’s always touch rugby, an ever growing spin-off of the game.

And if you’re a seasoned pro about to kick of a new season of rugby, you’re likely going to need a physiotherapist or require massage therapy at some point during the year, so bare us in mind when the time comes.

2015 Rugby World Cup inspired
Tackle your fitness head-on
Different Strokes

If you fancy something a bit more tranquil, there’s always swimming. Perhaps the easiest sport to participate in alongside running, swimming is regarded as perhaps the most rewarding form of exercise.

Swimming is great for muscle toning, a perfect way to increase your lung volume and it takes away the stress of impact on your joints that exercises such as running brings. Surprisingly, according to a recent article in The Guardian, one in five UK adults cannot swim. It seems to be one of those things that of you don’t learn as a child, you’ll likely never learn as an adult. That is not to say that you’re never too old to take to the water; the same Guardian article states that 2.3 million adults are keen to learn to swim. If you’re one of those keen to learn, or even if you’re interested in taking the next step and fancy yourself as the new Michael Phelps, find a swimming teacher now.

Swimming exercise strength fitness
Mould a swimmers body
Inner Peace, Outer Strength

Of course, getting fit and improving your lifestyle isn’t all about immersing yourself in competitive sport; there’s a growing demand in the UK for a ‘mind over matter’ disciplines of yoga and Pilates. Around 30,000 yoga classes are taught each week, with around 460,000 people practising yoga in the UK each week. What’s more, the likes of yoga and Pilates aren’t solely about improving mental focus, it can be very beneficial to gaining core strength and flexibility that will only aid other sports you partake in as well. Just ask Ryan Giggs, the legendary Manchester United and Welsh winger that attributed his absurdly long career to the benefits of yoga. There’s even talk of the discipline becoming an Olympic sport.

So next time you wake up after a gruelling rugby match or a strenuous run, stiff as a plank and cursing your advancing years, why not try your hand at Yoga or Find Pilates Classes and keep yourself forever young?

Yoga Lessons UK Pilates
Channel your energy

For other top tips and advice from Bark.com, why not check out our other blogs?

September is the new January… improve yourself and your skills with Bark.com

Forget New Year, September is the perfect time for new beginnings. Summer has been and gone, the days are getting shorter, the evenings are getting darker and the air is cool as winter slowly sets in.

There’s something different about September, which makes it more of an annual turning point than January. September sees the start of a new academic year, and even though the Bark.com team have been out of school for quite a while, we always feel a sense of renewed determination and eagerness as September sets in. We think of September as a clean slate, a time of self-evaluation and a time to start a new project. With that, we’ve put together the top ways to improve yourself and your skills this September – all with the help of Bark.com!

Learn a language

Have you ever thought about learning a second language? Learning another language not only opens your mind and teaches you about different cultures, it also makes you stand out in a competitive job market where skills are key; think amazing job opportunities and salary increases! Need more convincing? Research the cognitive benefits. Many physiological studies have noted that the brains of bilingual people operate more efficiently than single language speakers, particularly in the areas of decision-making, multitasking and memory. Find French lessons, German lessons, Spanish lessons or even Chinese lessons, you’ll at least have some fun bragging rights by the time you become fluent!

Find language lessons
The world is your oyster!

Conquer the fear of public speaking

What’s your greatest fear? Do Spiders scare you? Are heights not your thing? Do you avoid deep water like the plague? All of the above are amongst the top 10 greatest fears across the world, but what was number one in the USA? You guessed it – public speaking! As Jay Leno once said ‘I guess we’d rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy’. If you’re one of those people who can’t stand the thoughts of speaking in front of a group, then take the fear into your own hands and find public speaking lessons this September – you won’t regret it!

Find pubic speaking lessons
Get ready to take the mic!

Channel your creativity through photography

Are you Instagram crazy, a filter fanatic so to speak? Did our latest photography blog inspire you to unleash your inner photographer? Search for photography lessons this September and go from amateur to pro. From shooting to editing, this is a fantastic creative outlet to explore before the year is out. You’ll have your own studio before you know it…

Find photography lessons
Channel your creativity through photography

Protect and empower yourself with self defence

Feeling empowered is a great feeling, particularly when it comes to safety. I’m sure many of us would like to feel safer on our streets as we go about our daily lives. The numbers of people, especially women, taking the necessary steps to feel more secure is increasing. Self-defence classes are popular, as students can learn how to predict, prevent, identify and avoid violence. When we think of self-defence we immediately think of just martial arts, but the crucial difference is that self-defence combines situational awareness into the mix. Find the self-defence classes which teach you the skills you need to keep yourself safe in this big bad world!

Find self defence classes
Be prepared, protect yourself!

Dance like no one’s watching!

Looking for an activity that is good for personal fitness and is enjoyable at the same time? Get your dancing shoes on! Creativity is one thing that dancing can provide that regular gym exercises can’t. As Contanze Mozart once said: “Dancing is like dreaming with your feet”. This type of exercise is also both aerobic and anaerobic, so you will always get a full body workout. Whether you like ballroom dancing, tap dancing or hip hop dancing, there’s a genre for everyone. Side step to Bark.com to find the best dance lessons in  your area.

Find dance classes
Express yourself through dance

We hope we have motivated you to improve your skills this September. If none of the above are for you, then browse our lessons and training page for more inspiration. Let us know which one you choose and remember; Orange is the New Black, Tuesday is the new Thursday, and September is the new January.

For more Bark.com top tips, why not check out our other blogs?

The Do’s and Don’ts of DIY: When to Leave It To The Expert

Let’s be honest: We all fancy ourselves as a bit of DIY genius. No job is too complex or great. When it comes to doing it yourself, any danger of causing serious injury or seriously botching up a job goes out the window; it’s all about ego and proving that not every job requires calling ‘The Man’.

In the real world, however, there is only so much the common homeowner can achieve when deciding to do a touch of handy work around a property. More often than not, it pays to get the expert in. Here’s a list of some household tasks that shouldn’t be too difficult to handle, and those that most definitely require a professional. If you’re one of those who thinks you’re a DIY jack-of-all-trades, look away now…

Don’t Get Wired On Electrics

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Anything electrical in your home that requires attention is best left untouched. Not only do you skirt with the obvious risk of electrocuting yourself, meddling with the wires behind that dodgy plug socket could wreak havoc on your home’s entire wiring. The appeal of deciding to fix a light fitting without the costly expense of calling in a professional may seem alluring, but just think about the potential spiralling costs in the event you botch it up and need to find a professional electrician to rewire your whole home. Bottom line: Don’t fiddle with electrics.

Electrician expert wiring plug socket
Leave electrics to the expert

Different Strokes

Moving on to something a little safer, there’s nothing wrong with attempting painting inside your home. Obviously there’s more to it than simply taking a pot of paint to your walls, but it’s certainly one of the more ‘doable’ DIY projects. As Interior specialist Gemma Cheney writes in the Guardian, there are tricks to adding a professional touch to your painting: “preparation is everything”. For ease and for covering a larger area, a roller is probably best, but for the more intricate jobs, a paintbrush is more ideal. The beauty of it all is that even if you do somehow manage to make a hash of it, you can always hire a painter and decorator to save the day.

Painting DIY indoors property
Unleash your inner painter

Avoid the Waterworks

When it comes to plumbing, there are a handful of simple jobs that do not require a plumbing service: a leaky tap, installing a new shower head or unclogging a drain are all perfect and scalable jobs to keep you occupied at the weekends. However, the more complex tasks will require a professional plumber. Much like trying to fix a problematic wire, fiddling with your home’s plumbing could have disastrous consequences that could leave you more out of pocket to fix than if you called the plumber in the first place. Moving away from the job at hand, hiring a plumber has other benefits. He or she will help you stay within your planned budget and will likely get the job done within your envisioned timeline.

Plumbing expert DIY
Time to call in the Plumber?

Take it Outside

Of course, DIY isn’t just contained to your home; the garden represents a wide range of DIY jobs you can do yourself, from mowing the lawn and painting the fence, to the more difficult bricklaying or pond installation. You may laugh, but there is a method to mowing the perfect lawn, but it’s probably not worth calling in the man. However, installing that nice, new water feature or building a new shed is probably better left to the professional – Bark can help you find local Bricklayers if you need them. Regardless of perfecting the bricklaying when building a new shed, there are also legal complication such as obtaining planning permission that a professional will know inside out and offer guidance. On top of all that, there’s the slight issue of landscaping. We’d all love a garden that wouldn’t look out of place at the Chelsea Flower Show, but left to your own devices you could just as likely end up with the garden from hell. Again, probably best to hire a landscaper for that major redesign.

landscaping gardening expert DIY
Shaping your dream garden

Inspired to Do It Yourself? Consider calling in a local professional first. Bark.com has a wide range of house and home services to help spruce up your property.

For more Bark.com tips and insight, why not check out our other blogs?