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Category: Thoughts
Are You Sabotaging Your Life?

Are you sabotaging your life? You may not realise it, but it could be that you are. There are many theories in this world that support the idea that what you think determines the outcome of your life. The mind is a marvellous, untapped resource that is potentially infinite in its influence over what you do and how things turn out. The Law of Attraction is just one of these theories, and it is fascinating to find out more about it.

Even if you don’t believe in how it works exactly, there is no doubt that having a positive outlook affects how you perceive things, and how you are perceived. So it is important to think positively whenever possible.

If things have been going badly with regards to your work or writing – or any other creative pursuit – then could it possibly be your thoughts and feeling about it all that is causing the problems? Could it be that you are sabotaging your life? Let’s take a look at how you might be, without even realising that you are.

sabotaging your life

You Make It A Competition

If you are constantly looking around you at what other people are doing, you’ll never be able to fully focus on what you are doing – and that can spell disaster for your current writing project. That is one of the best ways of sabotaging your life. Comparing yourself to others can sometimes work in terms of allowing you to set yourself a goal, but doing it all the time is distracting, and can push you off course from that goal very easily.

It is always better to be looking ahead, towards your next goal, and ignore what other people are doing. Creativity is not a race. It’s not a competition. It is a personal journey. That may sound a bit ‘new age-y’ but think about it; it’s completely true.

You Get Angry

Allowing yourself to get angry about things is another excellent way of halting the creative process and sabotaging your life. If something has irritated you – it could be anything, from a Facebook post by a fellow writer, artist, poet etc, to hearing about someone’s success in the same genre that you work in – the important question to ask is ‘why?’. Why are you angry about this? And what is that anger doing to harm your creative process (hint: it’s another way of sabotaging your life)?

Is your anger about being envious? Is it that you have a particularly deep competitive streak? Does the news make you feel less secure about your place in the creative world?

Whatever it is, remember that your own thoughts are taking you on a journey, and if you want that journey to be a fulfilling and successful one, then you need to dispense with all the superfluous feelings of anger and just get on with working your way towards happiness. Another artist’s success will not diminish your own. There is no need to be envious as your time will come as long as you work towards it and acknowledge that fact.

sabotaging your life
Image from Pixabay – ijmaki

You Complain All The Time

Complaining to yourself is a waste of time. Complaining to other people… well, that all depends on the complaint. A valid complaint should often be aired – in a well-thought-out and calm kind of way. That is how things can be done, that is how problems get solved. A general gripe about the state of things, about a tweet that you didn’t appreciate, about someone else’s success or writing ability… that’s usually less productive. Plus this kind of pointless complaining has a knock-on effect. Firstly, it takes up a lot of time when, you guessed it, you could be writing or painting or doing whatever it is that makes you feel complete.

Secondly, empty complaining puts you in a negative frame of mind. One small niggle and suddenly everything is less rosy. Unsure about that? Think of it the other way around – when you see something that makes you happy, or you get some good news, doesn’t your day immediately seem better? Brighter? Altogether happier? It’s true, and the same goes for negative things. Your day (if you let it) will go downhill. Don’t let it. Keep positive, and things will improve. That’s just how it works.  

Why Fairy Stories Are Good For Children

We all like some things that aren’t good for us, especially when we’re children. Children love to do slightly naughty things; they love to eat all the chocolate, they love to stay up late… In fact, we all like to do things that aren’t particularly good for us when we’re adults too – we still want to do slightly naughty things, still want to eat all the chocolate, still want to stay up late (although we regret it in the morning)…

So if things we like tend to equal things that are bad for us, where do we stand with fairy stories? Children adore them; give them a prince, a princess, some talking animals, and a happily ever after, and they’re over the moon. And adults have a soft spot for them; they are a reminder of our childhoods.

Which would mean that they are bad for us – that they are bad for our children.

The funny thing is… they’re not. Not in the least. In fact, they are good for children in several specific ways.

Image from Pixabay

Imagination

There is nothing quite like the imagination of a child. Even the most imaginative of adults can’t come close to the weird and wonderful minds of pre-pubescent kids, and being able to make up stories and games is an essential life skill. It can go so far as to define the kind of career they have in the future. So listening to fairy stories, and going on later to read them, can play a big part in the lives of children and the adults they grow up to become.

Morals

Parents do their best. They give children a moral compass and information about right and wrong, but it is the fairy stories that cement it in the little ones’ minds. Fairy stories have a strong moral message – good versus evil, good wins out, and so on – that it is easy for children to remember. That, coupled with the knowledge mum and dad have already given them, means that children are going out into the world with an excellent moral sense behind them.

Critical Thinking

It may sound surprising, but fairy tales can help children with their critical thinking. They can see the consequences of any actions or decisions that characters may take in these stories. They know that their choices can have profound implications, so it is best if they stop to think before acting (or reacting) in haste.

fairy story
Image from Pixabay

Emotional Health

We often hear in the news that younger and younger children are having mental health issues. We’re not saying that fairy stories can prevent this, but they can perhaps allow children to have a good idea of how to deal with internal conflict – something that can cause mental stress. Children identify with the main character in a fairy story, and those characters tend to win out in the end, even if they are going through hardship. They do it with the help of those around them, whom they have confided in. It’s a good lesson and one that children can easily apply to their own lives.

Just Because…

Children are children for such a small amount of time. They will have enough time to be sensible and grown-up. They will have enough time for worries and life to take over. So when they are little, they need to have fun. It will give them a good base for the rest of their lives, and with a strong foundation, they are sure to grow up to be good people. So even if for no other reason than children love them and they are fun, we should read them fairy stories.

The Sinister Left – A Left Hander’s Thoughts

Trapezoid_bone_(left_hand)_01_palmar_view

Recently there was a news story about an Oklahoma teacher who ‘forced’ a 4 year old boy to write with his right hand rather than his left. Investigations are ongoing, but it seems as though the teacher was concerned about associations with left handedness and unlucky or wicked behaviour.

Whilst this may sound strange today, it wasn’t so very long ago that making left handers write with their non-dominant hands was usual in schools. But why was (and, as it now appears, is) being left handed such a problem?

Throughout history, the left side of the body was considered to be a negative influence. In fact, the Latin word ‘sinistra’ meant both ‘left’ and ‘evil’ or ‘unlucky’, so the idea was well ingrained in society. Today, ‘sinistra’ has become ‘sinister’, so the wicked connotations remain. This, along with the idea that the word ‘right’ also means ‘correct’ and ‘proper’, reinforces the belief that anything on the left side had to be influenced by evil in some way.

Superstition has us throwing salt over our left shoulder when we spill it. Why? To blind the devil that sits there. A devil on the left shoulder is counterbalanced by an angel on the right, so turning to the left, using the left side of the body, working with the left in anyway is seen as working or using the devil. Bad stuff indeed. Whereas using the right side of the body is seen as working with the angels, which, of course, is seen as a much better option.

There are always studies going on to discover why some people are left handed and others (the majority of society) are right handed, but as yet there is no conclusive evidence for anything. Maybe one day we will understand, or maybe – as I believe is most likely the case – there is no reason. It just is.

I’m a left hander, and so is my daughter. So far so good for both of us – we’ve not yet met the devil. But I suppose I’ll keep throwing the salt just to make sure…

Writing: It’s Never Too Late

There is a feeling that steals over me sometimes that I’ve left it too late to be doing this. That I should have started writing earlier in life, a decade earlier, 15 years earlier… If I had, I wonder where I would be now?

And then I remember two things. The first is that I didn’t start writing earlier because I wasn’t ready to. If I had, my writing would not have been of the right standard, and I might have given up after a few rejections. Secondly, I’m not alone. Many writers had other careers first before moving on to new and exciting things.

That’s life.

So here are a few of them to illustrate my point. It’s quite an impressive list.

Frank McCourt

Author of the wonderful Angela’s Ashes, McCourt didn’t start writing until he was 65 years old. On top of that, he left school at 13 due to his family’s poverty; he had to start work.

EL James

No matter whether you love or hate the Fifty Shades series of books, no one can deny what a phenomenon they became, spawning movies and many copycat versions. EL James was 44 when she began to write these books which began simply as fan fiction.

Mario Puzo

Mario Puzo, the father of The Godfather was 33 when he began writing. Whilst that’s not ancient by any means, it is still a lot later than many famous authors – Stephen King was just 12, for example, and F. Scott Fitzgerald was 23.

Chuck Palahniuk

The Fight Club author was another of the 33 year old club, picking up the pen to write down his incredible stories in his fourth decade of life.

Charles Bukowski

writing

Although Bukowski wrote for most of his life, he didn’t get his big break until he was 49 when he submitted Post Office to a publisher. It was published two years later, and at 51 Bukowski’s life changed forever.

Donald Ray Pollock

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Donald Ray Pollock had a variety of different jobs in his life, but writer came relatively late. He published a collection of short stories when he was 55, and when he was 58 his debut novel, award-winning The Devil Of All Time, came out.

Helen DeWitt

Writing Helen de Witt

Helen DeWitt spent most of her life in academia until she almost had a breakdown and realised she just couldn’t face it anymore. With 100 different novels in fragments around her home, she took some time off just to write – with no interruptions. She would, she said, ‘write until the money ran out’. At the end of that time, she had her impressive novel, The Last Samurai written. She was 44 years old.

So there you have it. Many of the writers who are now household names didn’t start writing until they were 30, 40, 50, even 60. And even if they had been writing for longer, being published took the time. So I can relax and enjoy what I’m doing – just write and the rest will follow.

Why Do We Say That? Language And Its Origins

The origin of phrases can be absolutely fascinating. We use them on a daily basis, but not many of us ever stop to wonder why – why the words we say are part of our language, and what they really mean. Here are a few great examples of that – and their origins.

Don’t Throw The Baby Out With The Bath Water

Back in Victorian times, the practice for bathing was for the ‘man of the house’ to bathe first, then the wife, then the children in order of birth. Therefore, the baby would be last in the queue. By this time, so it is said, the water would be so dirty (people only tended to wash once a month) that it was entirely possible (apparently) to lose someone in it. Hence, when emptying the bathtub, the baby might be thrown out too!

Raining Cats & Dogs

When the majority of houses had thatched roofs, they were made by literally piling straw up – there was no wooden structure underneath. Now, due to straw being nice and warm, a lot of animals used to climb up and live in there, or at least sleep in there when it was chilly. But, when it rained the straw became slippery, and the larger animals (such as cats and dogs) would be washed right out. It would therefore be ‘raining cats and dogs’.

Bringing Home The Bacon/Chewing The Fat

If you were doing well in your profession, you might have been able to afford some bacon to go with your diet of (mainly) vegetables. If you could literally bring home the bacon, you would most likely hang it up to show it off hen guests came round. And because it was pretty expensive and a rarity to have it, it would be used sparingly. When friends came over for a chat, the fat would be cut off first, chopped into small pieces and handed out. You would ‘chew the fat’ with friends.

A Wake

Holding a wake for someone who has passed away has become something of a tradition, but it has a very practical origin. Whiskey and ale was served in pewter cups which contained lead, and this could have the effect of knocking someone out for two or more days. They might even be thought to be dead. But before arranging the burial, mourners would hold a wake – sitting around the ‘body’ with food and drink to keep watch in case the deceased woke up.

Dead Ringer/Saved By The Bell/Graveyard Shift

People were just not that great at knowing whether someone had actually died or were just pretty unwell. Premature burials were a definite thing. So rather than the trauma of worrying about burying someone alive, a bell would be attached to a piece of string, which would be attached in turn to the body. The bell would remain above ground, and, if the person in the coffin awoke, the bell would ring. They were known as ‘dead ringers’ who had been ‘saved by the bell’. And who would hear the bell ringing? It would be the person whose job it was to sit in the graveyard, on the graveyard shift, to listen out for it.

So there you have it; language is a fascinating thing. I wonder what phrases the people of the future will use that relate to us right now?

The Deep, Dark Woods

I write all sorts of things; flash fiction, poetry, short stories, novels… And these pieces of writing are in various genres; horror, romance, children’s, literary fiction, mystery… With over one hundred different projects, either completed or in process, I like to think that I’ve managed not to repeat myself when it comes to plot and characters.

I try not to anyway.

But there is one thing that I do mention a lot, and I’m completely aware of it. It’s not always intentional (although at times it is integral to the plot), but whether I mean it to be there at the start of a story or not, ‘the woods’ often pops up.

What do I mean? I mean actual, literal woods. Deep, dark places full of trees and animals and scary things. Or peaceful places full of beauty and clearings of dappled sunlight and twinkling, tinkling streams that lead on to adventure.

woods

I love to read about them. When I was younger, The Faraway Tree was one of my all-time favourites, and the two poems that are stuck on the wall by my writing desk are “The Listeners” by Walter de la Mare, and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.

I love to write about them too. Sometimes my stories are set within the trees. My children’s horror entitled The Waldgeist of Wanderal Woods, focuses the entire story in the magical world below a lush, green, leafy canopy. Another of my short stories is called “The Woods Today”, and is about a rather nasty teddy bears picnic. And another, “Miles To Go” details the shock and confusion of a man who awakes naked in a snowy wood.

Equally, some of my stories just touch on the woods. In “Fairy Lights” the protagonists camp by the edge of a wood, not daring to enter. “One Man and His Dog” has the eponymous man looking towards the woods, but eventually going in the other direction. “Careful of the Castle” involves a woman sitting on a hot, sandy beach; but she wishes she was wandering through the shaded woods of her home town.

There is something so fascinating, so elemental, so mysterious and exciting about woods, inside or out, that I find myself drawn to them. Of course, it helps that I’ve lived near one for almost all of my life. Or rather, near a few of them. The very first house I can remember backed onto woodland. I have a distinct memory of playing in the garden, sitting on a swing that my dad made and which hung from a big old apple tree, and staring, hard, hard, harder, over the back fence and into the woods. I wanted to see something move. I never did, unless wind-waving leaves counted.

woods

A few years later we moved, and this time the garden was bigger, and at the bottom of this one was a large meadow on which horses roamed. That was nice. That was fine. But it was what was beyond the meadow, just on the horizon, that delighted me – a patch of trees that I was happy to call a wood. I even climbed over the back fence on a few occasions and ran across the field, dodging manure, to reach the trees. But fear of what (or whom?) I would find forced me back home. I never did go in.

And then I found a reason to go into the woods. The geocaching adventures I go on now mean that I have to enter the trees and I have to search amongst them. Now I love the woods even more.

5 Ways To Offer Your Customers Added Value

Running your own business isn’t always all about what you want to do; sometimes (most of the time) it’s about what your customers want, which means that you need to work out how to give them everything they need in such a way that they will return time and again. Offering something of added value, whether online or in a physical store, is one way to do that.

Giving your customers added value will be hard work initially, but once you have done it (and you have systems in place to allow you to continue to do it) you will make more money, have better profits, and your business will thrive because of it. Not only that, but you will be ahead of your competition, which is always a good thing. Take a look at the following ways of adding value to your business and see which ones you can implement.

Quick And Efficient

It used to be the case that people were happy to wait for whatever it was they had ordered. It could take weeks, perhaps even months, for their purchase to be ready and for it to be dispatched. Today, no one wants to wait that long – no one really wants to wait at all. Therefore, when someone orders something from you, whether it’s a product or a service, they expect it as soon as possible. Some even require it on the same day, and most would prefer next day delivery where they can get it. If you can promise that you will deliver on the next working day, your business will stand out and you will find that more people choose to use your services.

What will really add value for your customers is getting this speedy service without having to pay for it. Whereas some companies will charge for next day delivery, you could take on those costs yourself. Although it would be a higher initial cost, over time you will find more customers so it would be canceled out. It’s important to do this because you are equating your business with efficient, inexpensive service.

The Best Quality

It’s not always possible to beat your competitors when it comes to pricing; if you start to price your goods too low, you will stop making a profit (and you might even make a loss). So if you can’t stand out due to your pricing, you will need to look at other ways to do it and the best way is to provide items or services that are of exceptional quality. If you do this, the higher price won’t matter because people will be willing to pay for something that is above average.

Remember that determining something’s quality is all down to the customer; if something is of high quality it is because the customer believes it to be do. Therefore, you will need to carry out market research to work out what it is that your customers want (and need).

Give Them A Gift

Everyone loves a free gift and if that gift happens to be able to do some advertising for you at the same time, then it is doubly useful. You don’t have to give something away to every customer who buys something from you, but if you choose to give, for example, iPhone cases to the customers who spend the most with you, or who refer their friends, or even who write a glowing testimonial, then they are going to receive even more value for money. This will go a long way and although you will need to spend at first, the return you get on this kind of investment should be excellent, and well worth the initial cost.

Choose something that has your name and logo on it, and the more the gift is used, the more your name will be noticed. This adds value to the process for you too, which will help you with lowering your marketing costs.

Be There

If you can be available as much of the time as possible, you are automatically offering your customers even more added value. You will need to be as responsive to emails as possible, and reply to comments on social media as quickly as you can. Answer the telephone within two or three rings and this will all ensure that your business appears to put the customer first. These may only be small acts when you look at the big picture, but these are the ones that can make the biggest difference.

Of course, you can’t possibly be around 24 hours a day to answer emails and comments quickly, and this is where you can utilize new technology to your advantage. You could include a chat bot on your website so that questions can be answered at all times of the day and night, or you could make an app that is intuitive and allows customers to work through the process without having to get in touch in the first place (another bonus for them).

Fix Problems

Added value comes in many forms, and one of those forms is being able to fix problems when they occur. No one is perfect, and issues will arise through no one’s fault (or sometimes a genuine mistake has occurred). What the problem is is far less important than how it is solved and what happens afterwards.

Every company is going to work hard towards fixing any problems that occur, but will every company offer something to any customer who has been inconvenienced by the problem? The answer is probably not, but you can and that will make you stand out and give your customers added value. You could give them a discount on their next purchase, or coupons that they can use or give away to their friends, for example. You might go even further and ask them to come in to take a look around your workspace to see how things are done, if that is something that would interest them.

How To Have A Debt Free Retirement

If you truly want to retire, you will need to pay off all of your debts before you stop working – if not, you may have to delay your retirement plans and continue to work just to service those debts. When you reach retirement age, you will want to enjoy life and see and do as many things as possible – the things you couldn’t necessarily see and do when you were working. So being debt free is something you should work towards. Here are some ways to do it.

Save

The simplest way to pay off your debts is to save money. Open up a separate savings account and put all your ‘spare’ money into it. When you have enough to pay off a loan or credit card entirely, you can take the money out and do so. At the same time, you will need to stop borrowing, so lock the credit card away (for emergency use only) and don’t take on any more finance or loans, otherwise as quickly as you pay one thing off, you’ll have something else to save up for. It’s far better to buy things outright, even if you have to dip into your savings to do so, than it is to borrow because when borrowing you will have to factor in interest, and that can make things very expensive.

Once everything is paid off, continue to save and use that money to fund your retirement plans. If you start early, you will have plenty of money to enjoy some exciting trips and start some wonderful new hobbies.

Start Investing

Investment is another good way of paying off debts and funding your retirement at the same time. If you do your research first and learn as much as possible about what you are doing when it comes to investment, you can make a good return on your initial payment, and pay off your debts much more quickly. You can invest in almost anything including stocks and shares, property, and other businesses. Once you have decided where you want to put the money, finding a broker is a good idea so that you can make the most of your investment.

Downsize

If you own a property and you’re paying a mortgage on it, will that mortgage be paid off by the time you come to retire? This can be the biggest debt you owe, but you may not consider it a debt and it may not figure in your plans. However, if you’re not working, are you going to be able to continue to pay your mortgage? If not, downsizing is a good option. When you downsize, you sell your current home and buy something cheaper (and usually smaller). That way, if you choose wisely at the right time, you may not have a mortgage left at all – and you might even have money left over, which can be used to pay off any remaining debts.

4 Ways To Keep Your Employees Motivated

Having a motivated workforce can make a big difference when it comes to how profitable and productive your business is. It’s your job as an employer to ensure that your team is motivated and happy. There are a number of different ways that this can be done, and here are some of them to consider. Not all will work for all people and all businesses, so take a look and decide for yourself what will work for you.

Be A Supportive Leader

In many cases, good leadership can be a huge factor in employee motivation. If you are going to be supportive you need to work closely with your team but also allow them some freedoms to work on their own initiative. Getting this balance right can be difficult, but once you have found it you will discover that it definitely helps with your employees’ motivation levels.

A good leader always holds themselves to a higher level of accountability and will own up to any mistakes they make (which they will because, after all, no one is perfect). That means working with a data loss specialist to prevent devastating losses, and it means taking responsibility for errors made within the company when it comes to customers, for example.

Empower Individuals

When an employee feels empowered and valued as an individual, they will work harder for their employer. Make sure that you allow your entire workforce to the chance to show what they can do. Even if they don’t quite manage it as you might have liked, giving them the opportunity is what really counts and it will make them work much harder in the future too.

Have A Positive Workplace

With so much time spent at the office, the working environment needs to be as positive as possible in order to get the best out of people. If it’s dull or uninspiring or even uncomfortable in any way, your employees will simply want to leave at the earliest opportunity and it’s unlikely that they will look forward to returning in the morning. This is not conducive to great work.

Making the office a great place to be by ensuring it is well decorated and has everything that your employees might need such as tea and coffee making facilities, a comfortable break room, even indoor plants and pictures, can really help to push them to do their best.

Reward Good Work

The best employees are the ones that want to work hard for you, but those who are doing so, and getting results, without hearing anything from you in response are going to become demotivated very quickly. Therefore, you need to look out for good work and reward it where necessary. This could be as simple as calling a meeting to praise that employee, or you might want to give them something such as vouchers or flowers. It’s these small touches that will keep an employee motivated for longer.

Etiquette For Dining Out In Portugal

Whether you’re in Portugal for a vacation or a business trip, you’re going to want to eat out at least some of the time you’re there (and the food is so good in Portugal that you might even want to eat out for every meal). If that’s the case, then it’s important to know the right Portuguese restaurant etiquette so that you can be comfortable and relaxed knowing you’re not making any faux pas that could embarrass you, your guests, the other diners, or the staff themselves. Here are some of the most important pieces of etiquette to be aware of.

Should You Seat Yourself?

The short answer is no, you shouldn’t, unless you’re in a café or bar. If you’re in a normal kind of restaurant then it’s better to wait by the counter or the ‘to be seated’ sign if there is one and look for a waiter or waitress to help you. Busy restaurants mean that if you seat yourself you won’t always be spotted which results in long waiting times for you and frustrated staff because they didn’t realize you were there.

Free Food?

In Portugal, just as pretty much everywhere else, there isn’t really any such thing as free food. However, you would be forgiven for assuming that you have been given something for nothing when, after getting you seated, your waiter or waitress brings out a plate of what is called ‘entradas’. They won’t have asked you what you wanted, or even if you wanted something, but unless you tell them otherwise, it will be brought to you. This is an appetizer and will be added to your final check so be aware of this before you begin to question what is on your bill. Remember, though, that dining out in Portugal is not an overly expensive thing to do, so it shouldn’t cause too much of an issue on your budget and won’t eat into the loan (or emprestimo) you got to fund your trip.

You Don’t Have To Order Extra Vegetables

When you look at the menu of a Portuguese restaurant you’ll notice that there is very little description for each dish. Whereas in the States you’ll get lots of fancy phrases and plenty of information about exactly what comes with the meat, fish, or vegetable dish you are ordering, in Portugal it’s different. There you will find that people assume each dish will come with the right accompaniments. For example, fish tends to be served with boiled potatoes or a salad, and meat dishes will often come with white rice or fries; it will all depend on what you order and how the particular restaurant you have picked works.

Look For The Plate Of The Day

When you’re choosing your food at lunch time, you should look out for the plate of the day (the pratos do dia). This will often be handwritten on a piece of paper and stuck to the window or menu board, so it could be easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, and that would be a shame. The plate of the day consists of whatever was caught fresh that morning by the local fishermen, and it will be something different each day; even if the fish is the same, how it is prepare will vary. It is always worth trying because it tends to be cheaper than other dishes on the menu and is always something interesting.

Order The House Wine

It can be a little embarrassing to order the house white or red in a restaurant at home because that wine tends to be inexpensive and not always that pleasant. In Portugal ordering the house wine makes a lot of sense because it is going to be locally produced and sourced, great value, and it will compliment the dishes you have ordered perfectly. The restaurants in Portugal take pride in being able to match their wines to their food. Ordering the house wine is what the locals will most often do, so it just shows you what a good idea it is. Don’t forget to note down the name of the wine so that you can look out for it elsewhere too.

Don’t Ask For Substitutions

In many restaurants in the States and in other places in the world you can choose a dish from the menu but ask for it to be made with this or that ingredient instead of one of the ones mentioned in the description. You might want extra cheese, or you might want the dish without capsicums, or any other changes that take your fancy. This is not the done thing in Portugal, and what you see on the menu is what you’ll tend to get served to you. Even if you do ask for something to be changed in most cases it won’t be, so it’s best just to order and enjoy rather than trying to get the busy chef to make substitutions.

Your Water

Unless you specifically ask for it, water won’t be provided to your table, so if you want it make sure you mention it to your server. You’ll have a few choices when it comes to your water, and one of these is not something you are likely to come across at home – you’ll need to choose whether you wanted the water chilled (fresca) or at room temperature (natural). In Many European countries the preference is for room temperature water, even on the hottest of days, so make sure you do ask for fresca if you prefer your water colder. You can also choose between sparkling (com gas) or still (sem gas).

No Hands

In Portugal it is seen as bad manners to use your hands to eat, even if you are enjoying a burger or a pizza. Therefore, it’s much more polite for you to use your knife and fork. This may feel a little strange, but if you don’t want to stand out you should try it – you’ll soon get the idea.

RatesRates

My pricing guidlines

Type of Publication

Type of Work

£

Magazine Writing & research per 1000 400
Magazine Editor per day 250
Magazine Sub-editing per 1000 120
Magazine Fact checking per day 200
Newspaper (regional) Writing & research per 1000 220
Newspaper (regional) Sub-editing per 1000 95
Newspaper (regional) Fact checking per day 200
Newspaper (national) Writing & research per 1000 700
Newspaper (national) Sub-editing per 1000 450
Newspaper (national) Fact checking per day 200
Online/digital media Writing & research per 1000 180
Online/digital media Sub-editing per 1000 95
Online/digital media Fact checking per day 200

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Email

lisamarie20010@gmail.com

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07710 611592

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WHAT I CAN DO

Blog Writing

A blog is an essential tool in ensuring your website is seen. I can create regular blog posts that will move you up the rankings and give you a better placement within your industry.

Ghost Writing

Have you ever wanted to write a novel, memoir or short story but don’t have the time? Do you have the ideas, but the words don’t flow? I can help. Contact me for a confidential chat.

Articles

I am happy to carry out research, conduct interviews, and write/edit articles of any length. Contact me for more information about my rates and services.

Web Content

From your home page to your about me details and everything in between, you want a website that has snappy, interesting, high quality content. Let me create it for you.

Sales Letters

If you have a product that you want others to know about, you need a sales letter that is going to get attention – and keep it. I can write that letter for you.

Emails

Are you thinking of starting an email campaign but don’t know what to include? Or perhaps you want to send a special email to that special someone, but you can’t think of the right words. Contact me and we can discuss exactly what I can do to help.

Product Descriptions

Selling products online can be an excellent way of making a business, but if your products sound boring and your descriptions are dull, no one will want them. I’ve written thousands of products descriptions, and I can make your products shine.

Copy Editing & Proofreading

Have you written something that needs that extra level of checking? With my years of experience I can proofread or copy edit your work so that it’s the best it can be.

Social Media Management & Digital Marketing

Getting your digital marketing and social media strategy right is essential. I can provide and implement a social media marketing plan that works for you. Contact me to find out more.

About MeAbout Me

I'm a content writer

Excellent work by Lisamarie, on time, great quality and constant communication. Would not hesitate to recommend and in fact use again as soon as opportunity arises.

Andreas K
Andreas K

Lisamarie was great to work with - she did a fantastic job that completely met the brief and was delivered before the deadline.

Helena W
Helena W

Quick and brilliant, nailed the brief! Will work with her all the time 🙂

Roshni S
Roshni S

Fantastic work A++++

Rob C
Rob C

It was a pleasure to work with Lisamarie, she adjusted to our workflow and process with ease and completed work quickly and effectively.

Geoff J
Geoff J

Lisamarie is a very good writer and is very easy to work with. She reacted well to my guidance and provided me with content I'm very happy to use. I look forward to working with her again soon.

Ola F
Ola F

Great work from Lisamarie, articles are exactly what we wanted

Matthew E
Matthew E

Brilliant work from Lisamarie. I would definitely retain her again and recommend her to others.

Brad B
Brad B

REVIEWS

I studied English theory at university and have always been interested in the mechanics of writing, but it wasn’t until 2010 when my daughter was born that I started to write professionally. Although this was out of necessity (it was a job that I could do from home, and it brought in enough to pay the bills!), it soon became a passion. Since that time, I have been published in over 40 fiction anthologies and have written seven novels.

Find out more about my publications on my Amazon Author Page.

I am now a full-time freelance writer. The majority of my time is spent writing SEO-friendly blog posts for businesses in all kinds of niches from bakeries to florists to roofing specialists and plenty more in between. 

Between 2014 and 2020 I was the features and online editor for insideKENT magazine.

Today I live with my husband, daughter, and a cat called Cheryl in a cottage in the Kent countryside, writing, painting, and – whenever possible – watching horror films.

http://www.facebook.com/lisamarielambwriter

info@lisamarielamb.co.uk 

MY STORY

my blogmy blog

my diary
Baby Clothes That Are Safe and Comfortable for Your Child

Preparing to bring a new baby home is fraught with so many emotions that it is difficult for new parents to share their joy without also conveying some trepidation and dread. Aside with the never-ending supply of baby supplies, including baby clothes, there are also tales about how new parents’ life are going to alter, which may cause worry and anxiety. Babies’ lack of sleep, constant cycle of nappy changes, odd-hour feedings, and infinite quantities of washing are enough to create concern. Continue reading to learn why new parents take extra particular care with their baby’s laundry, as well as the most comfortable and safe textiles to outfit your baby in to prevent skin sensitivities from fibres.

Newborns have the most sensitive skin conceivable, and everything that comes into contact with it might irritate it. It may be a difficult tag or the washing detergent.  That is why it is critical to wash all baby items before placing it on their sensitive skin.

In addition to cleaning all garments, new parents and those providing clothing presents to new parents must choose clothing items with care. Aside from being warm and comfy, it should also be breathable and feel wonderful against a baby’s skin. The following are some of the best fabrics for baby clothes.

Organic Cotton Baby Clothes

One of the best materials for baby clothes is organic cotton. Organic cotton is free of pesticides and other dangerous chemicals since it is derived from natural seeds. Farmers use less water since they often cultivate organic cotton in tropical climates. That offers it an advantage in terms of environmental responsibility. If your child has sensitive skin, you may want to consider buying baby clothes made of organic cotton from one of the many low-cost manufacturers available. In addition to keeping newborns warm and dry, organic cotton can be handed down from one generation to the next since it is more breathable and washes more easily.

Terrycloth Baby Clothes

Your baby’s skin is fragile, therefore you’ll want nothing but a soft towel to remove any extra water from it after a bath. Towels and robes have long been made from terrycloth because of its absorbency and plushness. With terrycloth towels, washcloths, and socks, you can ensure that your baby’s delicate skin is protected.

Viscous From Bamboo

Bamboo is a great material for making clothes for your baby. Viscose made from bamboo is naturally good for a baby’s skin because it wicks away moisture and doesn’t cause allergies. Viscose from bamboo also helps keep babies warm, dry, and free of smells, so it’s great for baby clothes. 

Fleece

Fleece is a fabric made from synthetic materials. It’s fuzzy, soft, warm, and lets air pass through. Fleece is great for kids to wear as outerwear because it keeps them warm and dry. Because of this, it is often used for things like pyjamas and jackets for baby clothes. 

As you’ve read, it’s important to take care of the clothes that will touch a baby’s skin. You can dress your baby in any of these safe and comfortable fabrics.

3 Ingenious Ways to Store Food

For a lot of people at home, the kitchen is a special place. It’s where they go to have fun and get rid of some stress. But when more than one person is using the same room, it’s not a given that everyone will keep the kitchen clean. This would make the kitchen messy and full of things.

How could you ever solve this problem? You would need a solution that makes it easy to get to all the food in your kitchen while keeping it safe and looking nice – it’s about how you store food. We have the right tricks and tips for you to do that. From food that needs to be kept cool to snacks, our steps could really cover every type of item that a family needs every day.

Refrigerated Items

There are a lot of things in our fridge. From meat to fruits and vegetables. Our refrigerators are full of sauces and other things to put on food. Let’s not forget the food we have left over from the day. We have so many things in our fridge that it’s hard to keep it always in order. So, when things aren’t in order, they look like a boring mess. But if we divide your refrigerator’s organisation into various sections, it is much easier to store food. 

Fruit

When you get fresh fruits from the shop, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, separate the fruit into two groups: those that smell strong and those that don’t. We do this because we don’t want the odour of our fruit to spread to other things in the refrigerator. So, put the bunch with the strong smell in a separate container in the fridge. You can arrange the rest on your kitchen worktop or on one of the shelves in the fridge.

For fruit that has already been cut, we suggest buying plastic containers that can be used and recycled. Not only are these cheap, but they are also easy to wash and store. Then, you can put these containers in your fridge to store food in a way that looks neat and organised. They won’t take up much room and will give your fridge a clean look.

Snacks

Most people probably eat snacks more than any other type of food. So, they tend to make the most mess in the kitchen. There is no sense of order, and rubbish from such snacks is all over the place. But this can be corrected with a few changes.

First, get everything that needs to be kept cold. On the sides of the fridge, you can stack juices and condiments. If you have opened liquids or condiments that you don’t want to take up an entire box for, you can always buy pouches to store them. Using cutting-edge technologies like reliable pick-and-place industrial robots, pouch makers can make pouches that last a long time, can hold a lot of things, take up less space, and are easy to open.

Chocolates can be arranged in order of preference on a shelf by neatly stacking them on top of each other. Lastly, you can store snacks that don’t need to be kept cold in the side cabinets.

How To Cut Down On Facebook

When it comes to severe addictions, it’s common to think of the obvious ones first. Alcohol, smoking, and gambling are all examples of harmful vices. People who suffer from addictions like this are at risk of losing their whole lives.

The rise of social media has resulted in a new kind of addiction. Addiction to social media platforms. There are alcoholics, and then there are individuals who are hooked to their phones and Facebook. These companies pretend to care about their customers’ well-being, but if you dig a little further, you’ll discover that’s a lie. You may see this in the current headlines, as hundreds of individuals are requesting Facebook class action reimbursements.

We’re here to help you cut down on your Facebook use. A list of ideas and methods has been put up for those who wish to spend less time on Facebook.

Only Use Messenger If You Want To Cut Down On Facebook

Many users claim that if it weren’t for the messenger app, they would abandon Facebook entirely. So, if you find yourself browsing and want to avoid bogus news and memes, consider switching to only using messenger. Remove the Facebook app from your phone and replace it with the Messenger app. You can even download a PC messaging app.

Turn Off Push Notifications

You can disable push notifications by going to your phone’s settings. That is, when you are offline, your phone will not automatically seek out social network updates. This means that you will only get alerts when you open the app. This is an excellent method for preventing Facebook alerts from fueling your procrastination.

Download A Limiter App To Help Cut Down On Facebook

There are many applications available for all phone platforms that will place a physical restriction on your app use. You can set a time restriction for each app, and after you’ve been on it for that amount of time, the limiter will kick in, preventing access. This is an excellent approach to reduce your time spent on social media and cut down on Facebook.

Go Cold Turkey

This is probably the most difficult and severe option to do. If you’ve tried all the strategies above and still can’t get rid of your Facebook addiction, you may want to seek help. Going cold turkey could be an option for you. This can be done in two ways. For starters, uninstall the Facebook applications from your phone and avoid using Facebook on your computer. First of all, you need to delete the Facebook account that you have. Unfortunately, the clever blighters at Facebook make it extremely hard to remove your account. Instead, you have the option of temporarily deactivating your account. This can be just as useful.

Why You Should Visit The Dentist This Month

While few people like going to the dentist, keeping regular dental appointments ensures that your teeth stay in good condition. Regular exams may help prevent the development of a variety of oral health issues, such as tooth decay and gum disease. Most individuals assume that they only need to visit the dentist for oral issues, not for their teeth and gums. Everyone, regardless of age, has to have regular dentist visits. Dental exams provide a number of benefits that may help keep your gums and teeth healthy and strong for a long time.

Preventative Care Costs Less When You Visit The Dentist

If your health isn’t motivating you to take care of your teeth, think about the financial benefits when you visit the dentist. Most dental insurance policies include preventative care and other operations, so it’s important to see a dentist on a regular basis. By spotting issues early, you may avoid costly and invasive treatments in the future.

Early Detection Of Issues

Scheduling regular dentist checkups helps you catch any potential dental problems early. While brushing one’s teeth may seem like the sole way to keep one’s mouth clean, this is not always the case. Dental problems, such as abscesses, endodontic treatment, dental implant failure, and serious infection, could also develop from this neglect. However, dental problems may also lead to more serious illnesses such as dementia, diabetes, and osteoporosis, which is a little-known fact. As a result, it’s important to follow your dentist’s advice and visit the dentist every few months so that you can catch any problems early.

Better Self-Esteem

Regular dental cleanings are a fantastic method to preserve a radiant smile and boost your self-esteem. There are several ways to improve the appearance of your smile with the aid of a professional dentist, such as teeth whitening and veneers. Therefore, why not visit the dentist and see what a difference it could make?

The Wonderful Advantages of Slowing Down Your Life

We’ve all had hectic lives in the past. We all have moments when we wish we could slow down our lives and have a little more free time to ourselves, whether it’s because of the job we do or just because we have a lot on our plates.

To be honest, that’s not a difficult desire to realise! Here are a few suggestions for slowing down your life and the benefits that come with it.

Do Less, Not More For Slowing Down Your Life

Doing less is one of the most powerful ways of slowing down your life. Streamline your tasks and eliminate all of the unnecessary ones.  For example, if you spend an hour performing a dozen jobs and don’t feel successful at the end, you should strive to cut down on those jobs to create more time for hobbies and things that make you feel better about yourself.

This will give you the feeling that you have a lot more time to use effectively, but it’s also crucial not to ignore the dull activities if they’re necessary for your life.

Lower Your Stress Levels

Slowing down your life can make your mind less prone to stress, which will have amazing health advantages. The less you worry about, the better you’ll be able to concentrate on key activities and stay optimistic throughout the day.

You’ll be more productive and joyful if you don’t try to do everything at once.

Be More Organised For Slowing Down Your Life

Your life will become a lot more organised if it dawns on you that you don’t need a strict daily routine in order to get things done.

As a result, you’ll concentrate less on meeting tight deadlines and more on completing chores and work because you’re inspired to do so, rather than because your schedule dictates it.

Build Healthy Habits

Finally, slowing down your life allows you to devote more time to self-improvement. For example, if your lunch break used to be 15 minutes, you probably purchased nasty fast food and ate it on the spot. Not only is it unhealthy, but eating too rapidly might cause stomach and digestive problems.

Instead of purchasing something because it’s quicker, why not prepare your own meals or create a salad at home, keep it in a box, and then have a wonderful and nutritious homemade lunch?

Signs You’re Not Sleeping Well

All of us need a good night’s sleep, regardless of our age, and when you’re not sleeping well, you’ll certainly feel it. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential if you want to avoid feeling groggy the next day. In order to maintain good health, you must be able to get a good night’s sleep, and this will have a significant influence on your day-to-day activities. In addition to raising your risk of an accident or injury, sleep deprivation may cause you to have hallucinations; you need to get help when you’re not sleeping well.

Getting adequate sleep is essential if you want to keep your mind and body in tip-top shape, but you should be aware of the warning signals that your sleep quality might be improving. Take a look at these symptoms to see whether you’re getting enough sleep.

Confused Emotions When You’re Not Sleeping Well

You should be able to control your emotions and reactions to the environment around you. If your emotions are all over the place, it stands to reason that the cause could be that you’re not sleeping well. When you can’t sleep, it can have a negative effect on your mood, and you may feel gloomy and hopeless on top of your weariness.

You Feel Like You’re Moving Through Treacle

When you haven’t had nearly enough sleep, you may feel as if you’re functioning and thinking in slow motion. It’s like walking and working through viscous treacle, and it might leave you drowsy and unable to move swiftly.

You’re Forgetful

If you’re not sleeping well, you may find yourself forgetting your words in the middle of a sentence. You could also discover that you are unable to keep up with your daily activities since you are forgetting what you should be doing.

You Keep Getting Ill

Your immune system’s strength is dependent on your ability to obtain adequate rest. Not getting enough sleep could result in you getting cold after cold, which will not be pleasant in the long run. Getting more sleep will help you avoid this and feel lot better as a consequence.

You Want Sugary Food

If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’ll notice when you’re always grabbing for chocolate and sweets. You must remember that your body is desiring a sweet boost, which might indicate a lack of energy. Instead of continually reaching for starchy and sugary meals, set an alarm to get more sleep at night. To prevent gaining extra weight and feeling lethargic, you must be able to relax your body and sleep well.

Need A Smaller Home? Tips On How To Downsize

After their children have grown up and moved out, some people discover that their large house no longer serves their needs. They may want a smaller and more manageable property in which to spend their golden years.

If you find yourself in this situation, it might be difficult to determine when and how to downsize. There are a few things you can do to help ease the process of making a choice.

Assess What You Need

Think about what you want from your new house before packing up your stuff and moving out. The things you want today may not be realistic in the future, so consider your requirements carefully if you want to know how to downsize.

How many belongings will you be bringing with you? In order to save part of your old furniture, you’ll need to find a place large enough for it.

It’s possible that as we age, we will become less agile, so a top-floor flat may not be the best option for us in the future. Listing your desires will aid your decision-making in the future.

Clear It Out

Plan ahead of time when it comes to decluttering your home. Begin by searching through your attic and garage to discover what you don’t want anymore. In addition, you should check through your kitchen cabinets and shelves to see if there are any items you no longer desire.

If you don’t need it anymore, get rid of it or donate it to a good cause before you go. Additionally, you might begin selling items on auction websites to raise money for your new house. If you do this, you won’t have to spend a lot of time searching through all of your belongings when it’s time to pack up the home and you need to know how to downsize.

Assess Your Storage Needs For How To Downsize

A better notion of how much storage you’ll need in your new house will come once you’ve gone through all of your old stuff with care. If you’re looking at new houses, you’ll be able to quickly see if there’s adequate space for your family.

You may not have enough storage space in the new home, but if there is enough room, you can always build some more later. When contemplating a move to a smaller home, consider factors such as the number of rooms, the amount of storage, and the location.

How To Come Up With Story Ideas

You’re a writer. You want to write a story, but you’re not feeling inspired right now. Or maybe you are, but you can’t come up with story ideas that pique your curiosity. You’ll need some techniques to educate you on how to generate tale ideas. And you’d want to employ these methods on a regular basis to generate narrative ideas.

Writing creatively is like a muscle: use it or lose it. Thinking of story ideas is a necessary component of developing that muscle. And wow, if you want to create short stories, you have to think of a lot of ideas. Read on for some ideas about doing it. 

Use Prompts For Story Ideas

Looking at writing prompts is the most straightforward technique to get story ideas. They can be found just about everywhere. Google and you’ll discover lists, lists, and more lists of things you can do. Prompt books, games, and newsletters all exist and can be helpful. There is a never-ending supply of ideas for writing prompts. There are even story idea generators online.

Writing from a prompt may seem like a waste of time for some authors because they believe it will prevent them from coming up with anything new. But remember, it’s the author who makes it unique. A hundred different tales will emerge from the same prompt. You are the only one who can make a narrative your own.

People Watching

People watching is the best way for authors to come up with new story ideas, hands down. There are a number of authors working on their computers at coffee shops. In addition to writing, they’re also eavesdropping on others.

When it comes to creating characters and storylines, there is no such thing as a blank slate. Everyone and everything that happens in our lives is put into context to tell our stories.

To come up with new ideas, you’ll have to pay attention to what others are saying. Eventually, your brain will become “tuned in” to what is going on around you without your conscious effort. You could overhear a few words being said in a shop as you go by someone, and then, wham! A fantastic story concept.

Pay attention the next time you’re out in public (or simply glancing out your window as people pass by). Be aware of your surroundings and stay in the now. You’re surrounded by a sea of possibilities.

The ‘What If?’ Question

Another great way to come up with story ideas is to ask yourself ‘what if?’. Just look around you; what if your kitchen exploded? What if a spaceship landed on your driveway? What if a stranger appeared in your doorway? What if you cracked an egg and money fell out? What if… what if…

Just asking yourself this simple question will give you a plethora of story ideas that you can take and expand on. What if you did that and came up with a way to fight your writer’s block? Amazing!

3 Tips for Maintaining Doors and Windows at Home

To properly maintain your house, you must take care of your appliances, landscaping, and windows and doors. Fixing driveway sealing or hiring dustbins to remove waste is a common concern. Still, many homeowners neglect to clean and maintain their home’s windows and doors throughout the cold and hot months.

By taking modest precautions now, a homeowner can go a long way toward guaranteeing that their doors and windows will be in good working order from month to month.

When it comes to making sure the doors and windows are as secure as possible, there are a few considerations to bear in mind.

Make Sure The Doors and Windows Are Sealed

Various things can be done before winter even begins to reduce the possibility of complications during the colder months. Checking the windows and doors for cold air leakage will show you precisely where you could have problems later on.

Leaks are a major annoyance. Not only will the house never be warmed enough, but homeowners in this position will be losing money each month. Weatherstripping and caulk can help a lot.

Check Lifespans

If the doors and windows have been in place for a number of years, if not decades, it isn’t the worst thing in the world to have them changed entirely. While this is clearly not going to be attainable for everyone, it is something to think about.

If you discover any major damage or concerning indicators, do not hesitate to schedule a free consultation with your nearest window installer. A professional window company can evaluate your doors and windows and advise you on whether they need to be replaced.

The good news is that you can improve your house by designing your replacement windows to fit your contemporary furnishings or creative ceiling tiles. Vinyl windows are so adaptable and economical that they are very popular among homeowners.

A new entrance door also provides more complex choices, such as fibreglass or a smart lock, which may be fitted later by a professional locksmith.

New doors and windows certainly provide several advantages. It is not a terrible idea to get a property examined by specialists before the winter weather really sets in.

Keep The Windows Clean All Through The Year

There is no doubt that the windows go through a deal from season to season. During the winter, there is the possibility of even greater problems. This is especially true for people who don’t keep their windows clean and well-maintained. The good news is that vinyl windows are relatively simple to clean and keep in excellent condition. Simply making an effort to keep them cleaned, particularly when the weather turns cold, can keep the windows safe.

Doors and windows play a significant part in providing long-term comfort and security for your family, thus, they must be appropriately maintained to function correctly. Otherwise, just strive to get new ones!

4 Ways To Keep Yourself Occupied On A Long Train Journey

Many of us travel across the country to be with our relatives, to attend conferences, for work, or just for fun. Some may choose to drive, while others may want to fly, but if none of these alternatives appeals to you, the train may be the best option. How do you keep yourself entertained if you’re travelling by train and it’s going to be a long train journey? Here are some excellent suggestions.

long train journey

Colouring In

Distracting yourself by colouring is a great way to pass the time on a long train journey. It’s soothing, it puts your mind at ease, and it’s also a lot of fun! After your journey begins, get a colouring book (you don’t even have to have a kid’s one, although they’re pretty awesome too) and some pencils or crayons, pretend you’re six years old again, and settle down for some colouring. If you’d want to attempt something new, you can use methods like shading or colours that aren’t often associated with your style. Make it your own by changing the picture completely. Let your hair down and have some fun!

Read A Book

We’re extremely busy. We’re all extremely busy. So, when was the last time you sat down with a good book and read it thoroughly? We’re not talking about a short 10 minutes here and there; we’re talking about a few hours spent reading an engaging novel that you can truly get into. The train is an excellent time to do so. Go to your local public library and choose a few paperbacks that seem intriguing, or go to an indie bookstore and ask for recommendations on what you might like. Then spend some time reading on your long train journey and becoming immersed in the narrative.

long train journey

Write A Story

Following on from the reading suggestion, you might try your hand at creating a short tale – or the first chapter of a book. If you’re stuck for ideas, take a glance about you. Agatha Christie’s narrative about train passengers worked well, and you may discover that there are some intriguing individuals and circumstances going on all around you that are great for your piece of fiction. You can work on a laptop, but if there isn’t enough space, you can go old school and use a notepad and pen. If you prefer, you can type it all out on your phone – just make sure you have enough battery power to get it all down!

Online Games

You can now play a variety of online games on your phone or tablet, thanks to advances in technology. They may vary from puzzle games to hidden object games to games that need you to build your own communities and universes. There is so much variety that no matter how long the train journey is, you will never run out of new ideas to try or games to play.