Why your hedge could be putting your home at a higher risk of burglary

Why your hedge could be putting your home at a higher risk of burglary

We all know to lock our doors, set our alarms, and close our blinds/curtains in order to protect our home from potential burglars – but one thing we’ve admittedly never considered, is the effect our hedges might be having on our home security. Yes, really!

John Lewis Home Insurance (opens in new tab) recently surveyed 1000 UK households, and discovered that many of us aren’t clued up on the ways in which our hedges can keep our homes safe – or not.

67% of those asked, revealed that their front hedge(s) stands at 1 metre or higher. One third admitted that theirs was double that. So why is this a problem? According to the police, and the charity CrimeStoppers, our front hedges should actually be as low as possible, to deter criminals from breaking in.

large house and garden with pathway, hedges and oudoor seating area

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd / Polly Eltes)

The thought behind this, is that burglars are less likely to be spotted breaking in behind tall hedges in our front gardens – making high hedges attractive to potential criminals. 

Mick Duthie, Director of Operations at CrimeStoppers (opens in new tab) explained: ‘Those surveyed said they keep their front hedge high to prevent people climbing on it, or seeing in. But we know that what matters most to criminals is not being seen. A high front hedge gives them cover while they’re in your property or garden.’

But cutting our hedges isn’t all Mick recommends doing in order to keep burglars out. ‘We also recommend keeping all hedges thick, prickly and dense to further deter intruders,’ he said. 

If you’re wondering what sort of hedge in particular would be most secure, John Blackstaff, Plant Nursery Manager at the John Lewis Partnership’s Leckford Estate, has some recommendations that will look good and put off burglars. He said, ‘I recommend Pyracantha (firethorn), which is evergreen, vigorous and thorny, as its name suggests. A Holly bush (Ilex aquifolium), is also a good traditional evergreen species, whose prickly leaves will ward off intruders.’

Garden with hedge row border and sofa set

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Douglas Gibb)

And it’s not only our front hedges we should be considering when it comes to making our homes as secure as possible.

According to Mick, it’s just as important to keep the hedges in your back garden high, as it is to keep those in your front garden low when planning garden ideas

He explained, ‘a low rear hedge gives them easy access to escape out the back.’ As such, a prickly, thorny hedge is ‘particularly effective for back hedges, as a robust hedge can block the escape of thieves who attempt to exit via the back garden.’

Who knew? We’re off to grab the strimmer!

This Innovative Toaster Oven Has a Pizza Mode That’s Exclusive to the U.S.

This Innovative Toaster Oven Has a Pizza Mode That’s Exclusive to the U.S.

Tokyo-based technology and appliance company BALMUDA is changing the way we cook with its innovative range of products. Having finally launched in the U.S. and mixing sleek designs with convenience and durability, the brand prides itself on its fantastic selection of kitchen appliances.

The best-seller is the BALMUDA The Toaster, which uses steam technology and precise temperature control to enhance the cooking process. Before toasting, you pour a little water into the slot, which is the secret to a golden, crisp finish every time. Choose between Sandwich Mode and Artisan Bread Mode depending on the type and thickness of the bread you’re using.

Not just limited to toasting bread, BALMUDA The Toaster comes with five different modes that allow you to cook up your favorite breakfasts, treats, and even dinners. The Pastry Mode has been designed to emulate a baker’s oven, giving the flavor, texture, and moisture that could once only be experienced with freshly baked bread.

With Oven Mode, the possibilities are endless. This mode offers three different temperature settings (350°F / 400°F / 450°F) just like a traditional oven, allowing you to cook everything from fries and roasted veggies to cookies and baked potatoes.

Finally, a setting that’s exclusive to U.S. appliances is Pizza Mode. You can cook a pie from scratch or reheat a leftover slice or two, giving the pizza a crispy base and melty toppings. Bagels also cook really well on pizza mode, toasting them to a golden surface while also maintaining their chewy texture.

Available at Amazon , Williams Sonoma, and other major retailers across the country, BALMUDA The Oven has received rave reviews from delighted customers.

“Holy moly! Best toast I have ever made. I did a comparison taste test with the Balmuda toaster vs my cheapie $60 toaster oven. You can really taste the difference in the toast with the texture and the moistness of the inside of the toast. Hands down Balmuda blew my other toaster out the water. So happy with purchase.” one person wrote.

Another said: “I’ve been using this to cook everything that’s frozen and precooked. Frozen leftovers included. I wouldn’t limit the use of this to just baked goods and toast, it’s handling everything from sausages to chicken pieces. The food afterwards is incredibly crispy with a soft interior, as promised,”

A third commented: “Just got this toaster 5 days ago and have already used it to make brick toast, revive melon pan, reheat pizza, and perfect eggos. I think I’ve gained a couple pounds just eating so much bread these past few days.”

BALMUDA The Toaster is available in four colors—black, white, gray, and taupe—and is priced at $299.

6 Practically Free Mini-Vacations to Take This Summer

6 Practically Free Mini-Vacations to Take This Summer

Summer is here, you’ve scheduled your vacations, and the kids are out of school. While you may be planning a week away for some R&R, there are plenty of micro-opportunities to take a vacation — mentally and physically — that don’t involve going far from home, taking a lot of time off, or committing to a substantial financial investment.

Think about rediscovering your hometown, tapping into your creativity (even if you don’t think you have any!), and going with the flow. Pair your sense of adventure with a bit of downtime, and you can have a short respite, even when you’ve run out of personal days. Here are six cheap or free mini-vacations you can take this summer, whether you have a day, a few hours, or a weekend.

Check your local parks and rec department.

Although you may be familiar with the bigger parks in your area, there are probably a few smaller ones you haven’t explored yet. So scour the website of your local parks and recreation department and seek out little-known green spaces you can explore. Another bonus of checking out their site is peeping the parks’ offerings: Most park services offer free or low-cost activities for kids and families, including things that focus on education, such as guided walks, and birdwatching experiences.

Schedule a day to create.

You don’t have to be an artist or maker to create. Channel your inner, uninhibited child and schedule a day to use your mind differently. Either raid your stash of unused DIY supplies or head to the craft or dollar store to purchase inexpensive materials. You can paint rocks, make a small mural, or use clay to form miniature creations. Begin with the mindset that the goal is to design something without stressing about the final product. What you come up with may surprise — or horrify — you, but the experience of being in the moment and creating can be a respite for the senses.

Volunteer your time to a cause.

At first, doing tasks for an organization may seem like work, but it doesn’t have to feel like it. Pick a meaningful nonprofit, and see how you can help for a day or two. Walk dogs for your local shelter, scour thrift stores and yard sales for inexpensive books to donate to a children’s charity, or use your talents to sing to nursing home residents. Volunteering does take effort, but the emotional benefits you’ll receive from doing good and focusing on others is a vacation for the mind. Plus, helping out may become part of your routine.

Plan a binge-watching day.

Days are typically filled with running from task to task, so downtime may be a luxury — or you may spend those precious, unfilled moments doing more tasks to pare down a never-ending to-do list. Whether you’ve been trying to catch up on a show or want to finally watch all of the “Harry Potter” movies, schedule a day to do so guilt-free. Turn your living room or bedroom into a haven of pillows and blankets, and spend the entire day sitting and watching whatever you want. Be sure to have snacks and drinks on hand (and stay in your PJs!), so you don’t have to leave the house.

Go tech-free for a day (or the weekend!).

Staying away from your devices may seem impossible, but disconnecting is highly beneficial. Of course, it will be tempting to scroll through social media, check email, and read the news, so be intentional about scheduling time to take a break. Allow texts and calls to come in from those who may have an emergency — such as your kids, partner, or parents — but otherwise, check out totally. Although, plan to fill your tech-free time with an activity to keep your mind off the desire to pick up your smartphone. 

Although you may know your city reasonably well, take a chance and explore a subway or rail stop you’ve never been to. Let your kids choose or leave it to fate — as in “let’s get off now” — and walk around the area. You can window shop, grab a coffee or quick lunch, and even sit on a bench and people watch for a while. Discovering a new stop is the perfect way to get to know your city better.

Tripadvisor Has Revealed the “Best Hotels in the U.S.” For 2022

Tripadvisor Has Revealed the “Best Hotels in the U.S.” For 2022

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Travel is back in full swing after a difficult two years for the industry, so many of us are keen to get back to it. From adventure trips to tropical vacations and everything in between, if you’re looking to head off on a much-needed getaway this summer, why settle for anything but the best?

Tripadvisorhas revealed the winners of the Travelers’ Choice Awards for Hotels, showcasing a wide range of unique and luxurious properties around the globe. In the U.S. hotels category, these properties are spread far and wide—whether it’s a rustic lodge in the mountains, a glamorous beach front resort, or a chic city hotel. The awards, which are awarded by travelers, for travelers, are based on the reviews and ratings posted on Tripadvisor throughout 2021.

Here, the top five hotels in the U.S. for 2022.

Located on the Upper East Side, The Mark Hotel is the epitome of elegance and luxury. Housed in a beautiful 1927 landmark building, the exterior exudes old world glamour, but inside, it has been completely reimagined as a modern-day gem that attracts A-list guests such as Meghan Markle and Kim Kardashian.

Tripadvisor review: “Besides its prime location , we found the room very spacious , impeccably clean , with superb details , and an extremely friendly staff. The restaurant is one of the finest in NYC , and the outdoor dining area delightful.”

2. Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection

Situated in Downtown Aspen, Hotel Jerome is the perfect retreat for those looking to enjoy a Colorado summer or take to the slopes for ski season. Think sleek decor, rustic accents, and plenty of mountainside charm.

Tripadvisor review: “We stayed at the Hotel Jerome for 5 nights and have nothing but good things to say about the property. The hotel is rich with history and character, yet luxurious and updated for the modern traveler. The decor is beautiful, the rooms are spacious, the service is top notch,”

3. Waldorf Astoria Washington D.C.

The Waldorf Astoria Washington D.C. showcases modern perspective on classic D.C. grandeur, sitting in the Old Post Office. 16-foot ceilings and soaring windows allow for stunning views, while giant chandeliers and a warming color palette add in a luxe touch.

Tripadvisor review: “The hotel is in what was the old post office – a mighty fine historic building in the middle of D.C. A great location – a metro station just around the corner and a 5 minute walk to the national mall. The main entrance and reception is stunning,”

The ideal base for those looking for a relaxing getaway among nature, The Lodge at Wooloch is a rustic retreat set on over 500 pristine wooded acres with a 15-acre private lake.

Tripadvisor review: “The Lodge at Woodloch is amazing and I can’t recommend it enough. I went with 4 high school friends to celebrate all of our 60th birthdays. Every detail is so thought out and perfect. As wonderful as the spa, exercise classes, food and accommodations are, the staff is even better. I can’t wait to go back!”

The comfort of home meets the luxury of a hotel at Mint House at 70 Pine. Located in the heart of the Financial District, you’ll find modern apartments with three times the space of a hotel room, full kitchens and spacious living areas.

Tripadvisor review: “I visit NYC often and was amazed at this GREAT find – we visited with friends and so enjoyed the spacious quarters, the lovely people at the front desk and the amenities of The Mint. Well done! We’ll be back.”