Monthly Archives: August 2014

Karting and Race Simulators near Basingstoke

Go-karting has long since been a popular event for corporate days, team bonding or stag parties and if you live in and around the Basingstoke area then it’s an experience that all motor enthusiasts ought to give a whirl to at least once.

By: Ben Sutherland

However, in these days of increased virtual reality technology, did you know that, as an alternative, you can even get to experience the thrill of piloting a Formula One car in a virtual simulator?

Basingstoke Go-Karting Opportunities

Whether you like motor sport or not, it’s difficult not to get caught up in the adrenaline rush that hits you when you put on the crash helmet, take your seat in your kart and rev up on the start line, the waft of diesel in your nostrils and the shrill roar of the engines around you.

For those looking to give karting a go in and around the Basingstoke area there are a few venues you can visit.

Karting Nation and Absolutely Karting both offer venues in Basingstoke, providing a thrilling couple of hours behind the wheel for young and old alike.

The centres both offer relatively similar opportunities, catering for parties, corporate days, groups and stag parties.

The arenas / tracks are indoors so the fuel charged fun can take place regardless of weather and anyone over the age of 8 years old can get onto the track.

Each track offers a variety of different experiences and races with which you can enjoy. For kids there’s the chance to impress schoolmates with birthday party experiences. These include expert tuition on safe driving and a series of different races, all fully equipped in appropriate safety gear and karts to suit their age and size.

For the older participants who are feeling the need for speed then there’s a host of race types and driving day to suit the party or individual. There are those who might just want to roll up, suit up and hit the track, pitting their skills against other drivers in straight races (often including qualifiers and grid placements).

If you’re arranging a party, stag do or team bonding day then, of course there’s the chance to take on your mates in individual Grand Prix or perhaps team relays or Le Mans style races.

Whatever the format, go-karting remains a hugely popular activity for groups and individuals and a memorable day for the hidden adrenaline junkie within.

F1 Simulator

Now, for an exhilarating alternative to karting you might want to consider a hair-raising simulator experience at The Race Centre.

Just 40 minutes drive along the M3 from Basingtstoke the centre offers a unique and truly thrilling opportunity to all motor enthusiasts to get an idea of what it must be like to tear around the circuit in a Formula One car.
Individuals get to sit in their own F1 race pod, handling their own custom designed steering wheel and operating their own pedals. In addition you’re then immersed into a virtual race through the simulation screen which seems to envelope you.

With stunning audio to accompany, this is a chance to put your driving skills to the test in a completely immersive racing experience that motor enthusiasts are certain to love.
Like karting this is a great party or corporate opportunity with the centre catering to such events.
Are you a budding Lewis Hamilton or a plodding Sunday driver?

6 Ways To Improve Your Hotel’s SEO – Without The Headache! – Short Version

Search Engine optimisation can be a real headache. It’s something that you know you need to do, but it always seems to be such a mysterious thing to get right. Well, while it’s a complicated skill to master, there are some tricks behind SEO optimization for hotels that you can do yourself, before you call in the experts.

Get Real

First of all – getting a handle on your expectations is key. If you are a small hotel in Bath, the likelihood is that you won’t get ranked in the search results for hotels countrywide. Instead, manage your expectations and go for search terms that are narrower, and more likely to get you found by the people you want to find you. See ‘Get Local’ for more on this.

Get Mobile

In this day and age, over half of the people searching for hotels are doing so on mobile devices. This means that if your website isn’t optimized for mobile use, you are missing a trick. If your customers can’t use your website easily or book a stay on their mobile devices, they will look elsewhere. In times where the mobile device is taking over, you need to make sure you are prepared.

Get on the Map

And no, this doesn’t mean a physical map. It means get your Google maps listing up and running. It’s a really simple, easy and free service by Google, and it will only take you a few minutes to do. When you have a Google maps listing, you will pop up on the map of the Google search results when someone searches for hotels in your area. This is great because even if you aren’t on the first page of Google, you still turn up in this map box. Get your listing up, get it optimised, and this is a quick win.

Get Local

If you are a small hotel in Bath, it’s safe to say that you won’t get found in the search results for ‘hotels’. But where you can get found easily is in indirect searches. People who are yet to book their stay are more likely to use terms like ‘places to eat in Bath’ or ‘top 10 attractions in Bath’ – so why not write about the things to do in your town. Once they are on your website, then entice them to book with a special offer.

Be a Local

As well as getting local, make an effort to be a part of the local community. Getting local businesses, shops and tradesmen linking to your website will help boost your performance. Start building relationships within the community and encourage people to link to your website. This doesn’t just happen online either – why not sponsor a local event? Hanging a banner with a link to your website will encourage visits, and the events website will include your link. All of these things can drastically improve your search engine rankings.

Make your PR Work Online

Now, PR is something a lot of hotels are doing already, and this is working incredibly well for them. Getting articles in the newspapers or local magazines helps bolster the public knowledge and awareness and makes them a more valuable asset to the local community. But there is a really simple way for this to have a positive impact on your website SEO as well. Check if there is an online version of the publication, and make sure there is a link in the online article to your website. This helps boost  your PR  and SEO effort at the same time.

Sean Fergusson runs Top of the Search, and is passionate about what SEO and digital marketing can do to drive more sales.

6 Ways To Improve Your Hotel’s SEO – Without The Headache! – Long Version

Search Engine optimisation can be a real headache sometimes. It’s something that you know you need to do, in the internet age you can’t afford not to be well ranked in search engines,  but it always seems to be such a mysterious art. The secrets to its success are held behind lock and key, for only those in the SEO field to understand. Well, while it is an incredibly intricate and complicated art, today we are revealing some of the tricks behind SEO optimization for hotels that you can do yourself.

Get Real

First of all – getting a handle on your expectations is key. While we all might want to rank on the first page of Google within 1 week of opening, the likelihood of that is slim to none (unless you have a lot of money to throw at it). Similarly, if you are a small hotel in Bath, the likelihood is that you won’t get ranked in the search results for all hotels countrywide, as there are hundreds of larger hotels with an unlimited budget to take those spaces. Instead, manage your expectations and go for search terms that are narrower, and more likely to get you found by the people you want to find you. By doing this you are more likely to get quality views and a higher booking rate. This links in well with a section we cover later on called ‘get local’.

Get Mobile

In this day and age, over half of the people searching for hotels are doing so on mobile devices. This means that if your website isn’t optimized for mobile use, you are missing a bit trick. If your customers can’t use your website easily or book a stay on their mobile devices, they are much less likely to book with you. In times where the mobile device is fast taking over, you need to make sure you are ready and prepared by ensuring your website can cope with it and perform to its best.

Get on the Map

This doesn’t just mean being visible on the internet – it’s actually far more literal. This means get your Google maps listing up and running. It’s a really simple, easy and free service by Google, and it will only take you a few minutes to do. When you have a Google maps listing, this means you will pop up on the map at the top right of the Google search results when someone searches for hotels in your area. This is a great thing for you – because even if you aren’t on the first page of Google, you still turn up in this map box. This will also help if your customer are looking for a hotel near a specific spot, they can identify easily which hotel they should stay in. Get your listing up, get it optimised, and this is a quick win.

Get Local

If we carry on with our previous analogy of a small hotel in Bath, it’s fairly safe to say that you won’t get found in the search results for hotels, and while you might get found in ‘hotels in Bath’, you want to boost this as much as you can with other SEO techniques. But where you can get found easily is in indirect searches. People who are yet to book their stay are far more likely to use terms like ‘places to eat in Bath’ or ‘top 10 attractions in Bath’. So to get found and win this business, write about the things to do in your town and what they can get up to. Once they are on your website, entice them to book with a special offer or a deal, making it impossible for them to resist staying with you.

Be A Local

As well as getting local, make an effort to be a part of the local community. Back linking is one of the staples of good SEO, and getting local businesses, shops and tradesmen linking to your website will help boost your SEO performance. So start building relationships within the local community, and encourage people to link back to your website with interesting content they will want to share. This doesn’t just have to happen online either- sometimes pressing flesh is even more vital. Why not look into sponsoring a local event? Hanging a banner there with a link to your website will encourage visits, and the events website will include you in its list of sponsors links. All of these things can drastically improve not only your SEO efforts, but also your popularity within the local community.

Make Your PR Work Online

Now, PR is something a lot of hotels are doing already, and this is working incredibly well for them. Getting articles in the newspapers or local magazines helps bolster the public knowledge and awareness and makes them a more valuable asset to the local community. But there is a really simple way to build on this so that it has a positive impact on your website SEO as well. Where you are getting a article or advert published, make sure you check if there is an online version of the publication that goes out. If there is, then make sure the online article is linking back to your website (this works very well with the previous point about being a local). This helps to combine your PR effort and make it work a little bit harder, without you needing to!

Local Drivers and Classic Racing at Castle Combe

Motor sport lovers living in the Bristol to Wiltshire region have long since been blessed by the year round entertainment at the Castle Combe racing circuit.

Either corporate or team-building events or one of the many family days the circuit provides opportunities for those who live in the area to either get onto the track or to get up close to some truly top quality high speed race action.

By: Graham West

Indeed, when it comes to racing then Castle Combe offers a vibrant and always exciting programme of events and series that can be followed throughout the year. Primarily this comes in the form of the Castle Combe Racing Club which plays host to a number of championships, in different car classes, which run on the circuit over the course of the year.

These championships are all held on the circuit, so no races at other venues, and provide local fans a chance to get trackside and follow the various drivers through the series of races to its season’s climax. Of course, these race championships also offer the chance for local motor sport enthusiasts the chance to actually get behind the wheel and onto the starting grid in real racing events.

Whether young, up and coming racing wannabes or more seasoned drivers looking for some local, high speed excitement, the series of events are made up of racers from across the west country, be it Somerset and Wiltshire, Bristol, Bath and Gloucestershire.

FF1600 Championship

Held over nine rounds throughout the year this Formula Ford class championship has been hugely popular with the West Country motor fans for more than forty years.

Offering a blend of fierce competition at the front of the large grid alongside a warm atmosphere of camaraderie among the racers and loyal followers the FF1600 at Castle Combe is one of the biggest and best events of its type anywhere in the country and always keenly supported by drivers, fans and sponsors alike. A chance for drivers from Bristol, Bath and beyond to pits their wits over 15 laps of the Castle Combe track it’s a championship which has frequently delivered exciting moments and tense battles in a bid for the podium.

Saloon’s Championship

Another hugely popular championship among fans, drivers and sponsors this offers the chance to see a pretty diverse array of cars all competing for places on the grid and indeed to get by the chequered flag first.

The championship is open to any car that’s classified as a 2-wheel drive saloon manufactured in the 21st Century, allowing plenty of scope for an eclectic range of vehicles all competing against each other.

The large grid size has always meant it can accommodate both the serious racers and teams (with some serious budgets!) with some turbo-charged race modified saloons occupying the front places whilst allowing space behind for the more modestly budgeted amateurs.

Another popular event locally with the grid full of drivers from the Bristol, Bath and surrounding areas.

GT & Sports Championship

New for 2014 is the GT & Sports Championship. Open to almost any type of saloon car, sports, GT or touring car the championship is split into 7 classes raced over 9 rounds (each round consisting of a 15 lap race) with the overall championship winner able to come from any of the classes.

With local drivers and teams filling the grid in anything from a Rover Tomcat to Sierra Cosworth the races have proved to be a thrilling mix of styles providing for some closely fought and exciting climaxes to the different races. And another excellent addition to the motor racing calendar for Bath, Bristol and the West Country fans to get behind.

Moore and Moore – Wedding Photography

Wedding photography is an incredibly personal and intimate part of your wedding day – and also one of the aspects you are likely to spend the most of your budget on. That’s why husband and wife team Helen and Tony Moore of moore&moore photography photography are dedicated to bringing you only the highest quality, stunning wedding photos for affordable prices. No sacrificing style or creativity either- that’s all just part of the fun! We will deliver you beautiful, original and artistic photographs that you will be proud to treasure and display for the rest of your lives.

moore&moore photography are amongst the best wedding and event photographers in Hampshire – catering to couples needs as far out as Berkshire, Surrey, Oxfordshire and beyond. You will not find a pair of local photographers with more care and attention to detail, yet the calm and relaxed nature that makes our photo shoots and wedding sessions one of a kind. We pride ourselves on being an unobtrusive element in your wedding while still capturing all of the details and little moments that might go unnoticed. We believe that it’s the little moments as much as the big that make the perfect wedding, and our photography will be as unique and beautiful as your wedding is.

Our clients come to us looking for more than just a few snapshots of the dress, the cake and the couple. That’s the sort of thing their friends can take with their cameras or phones. Instead, our couples come to us looking for real works of art – they want us to create something truly beautiful and stunning that can be framed and hung in their home for years to follow. Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, and we make sure that every moment is beautifully captured and preserved – even the moments you might miss on the day.

Our wedding packages include private bride and groom portraits, allowing you to capture those special and intimate moments in a day otherwise whirling by. Capture a moment of peace between you and your spouse, and make a really special memory – that is what we do at moore&moore photography photography. We work with a number of venues throughout Hampshire, and are happy to work in smaller venues (for example registry office weddings) so that you still have those perfect images of your special day. We have a wide range of stunningly beautiful and artistic wedding photos within our portfolio, so you can be sure that your photographs will be taken with all of the attention and care they deserve.

As a husband and wife team (and having planned our own wedding!) we know what couples are looking for in their wedding photographer. It’s one of the aspects of the wedding that you will spend the most on – and one of the few that will last beyond the day itself – so it’s important to make sure it’s done right, and you get exactly what you want out of it. We are dedicated and passionate about our photography, and we make sure that we keep ourselves up to date with the latest techniques and equipment to make sure your day can look as stunning as it really is. Members of the Royal Photographic Society, The Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers and the Canon Professional Network, we continue to learn and to grow as photographers so that we can always deliver the best photographs of you and your family.

Our studio, based in Fleet, Hampshire, is the perfect place to come for your consultation and engagement shoot. Featuring the picturesque landscapes of Hampshire, you can enjoy a day of pampering and fun as we learn all about you, your wedding plans and exactly what you want from your wedding photography. It is important to us that you feel relaxed and comfortable with us, as this helps bring out the best in your photographs. because of our wide range of skills you can chose any style of shoot you want – from natural to contemporary, stylish and bold to muted and personal. The world in your oyster and we can guarantee that you will be happy with the results. We offer a huge variety of packages to suite any taste or budget, so why not get in touch to see what we can do for you?

We are always happy to chat with you about your wedding and your requirements, and we would love to hear your ideas. To have a talk with one of us, or for a free quote, please get in touch and see what we can do for you to make your special day even more beautiful. Just give us a call or drop us an email, and we will get right back to you.

Moore and Moore – Hampshire Wedding Photographer

Based in Fleet, Hampshire, moore&moore photography are wedding and family photographers dedicated to documenting the most precious and cherished moments in your lives. This stunning Hampshire based wedding photography is brought to you by husband and wife team Helen and Tony.

We are a husband and wife photography team absolutely dedicated to our photography. We have many years experience in weddings – including our own – and we know how daunting it can feel when choosing a photographer for the big day. So we invite you to sit back, relax and enjoy a cup of tea while you let our portfolio do all the talking!

At moore&moore photography we specialising in creative, delicate and stunning wedding photographs that really bring to life the passion and joy in your special day. We will be there from the moment you start doing your makeup and hair, the moment you say ‘I do’ and even for your first dance as husband and wife. We are not obtrusive photographers – in fact you will barely notice we are there – but we will capture those precious moments that you might miss in the whirl of such a busy day.

We not only offer on the day service to capture your wedding naturally and beautifully, we can also provide you with a selection of candid bride and groom portraits. So if you want some beautiful shots you and your new spouse that will capture who you are as a couple, we can help.  But it gets even better than that. Our clients are looking for more than just snapshots they could have taken themselves – they are looking for artwork that they can proudly hang in their homes – and that is what draws them to our studio in Fleet. As a husband and wife team we know what couples look for in a wedding photographer, and we know that the right photos and the right people can be what makes the day perfect. We take the time to get to know you and what you want from your wedding photography, letting you chose the direction and style that will fit in perfectly with your wedding day. Whether you are going with a rustic Hampshire countryside style or a sophisticated and elegant theme, moore&moore wedding photographers will capture it all in just the right light to make it shine. We love creating works of art for you to hand in your home and treasure forever.

Fine quality, professional photography is an art form, and capturing the fast moving and excitable mood of a wedding is a skill that we have honed over the years. Members of the Royal Photographic Society, The Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers and the Canon Professional Network, we continue to learn and to grow as photographers so that we can always deliver the best photographs of you and your family. We have ensured that we are equipped with the very best in equipment – allowing us to photograph even in low lighting and ensure your images always come out beautifully. Our photographs are tailored to the beautiful backdrop of Hampshire, and whether it’s an engagement shoot or your full wedding day photography – you can be confident that your photos will be taken with the care and trust they deserve.

While we are Hampshire based wedding photographers, we also serve the communities of Berkshire, Surrey, Oxfordshire and beyond – so if you are looking for a professional, high quality wedding photography team for your big day – look no further!

Making your home your own

By: Simon Cocks

When it comes to home accessories you want them to say something about you and who you are. Whether you are a chintz and floral fan or a white-walled minimalist, your taste in home decor is something that is personal to you.

Fruitless searching

But finding that statement piece of furniture or artwork can be both time-consuming as well as costly. Weekends spent searching through craft markets or trawling the web for a one-off piece can end up being frustrating and fruitless.

Making a statement

Well, there could be a very simple and deeply satisfying answer – make your own. Quite often something that is sitting unused in your home, your garden or your garage could be transformed very easily into a piece of homeware that is at once original, interesting and cheap.

The idea came to me when I went into one of those little boutique shops that pop up in any village or town that has a ‘quaint’ quality. This particular shop was selling planters that were suitable for either indoor or patio plants. In effect they were old milk churns and metal buckets that had been painted a tasteful National Trust pastel colour.

Money for junk

While those particular planters were selling in the shop for £45 a piece, a local farmer was happy to sell me two old metal tubs for £10/pair. He looked at me as if I was mad as I drove away with what was essentially his old junk.

My aunt had left me a very ordinary writing bureau. It wasn’t antique, it wasn’t beautiful, it didn’t fit my modern style of furnishing. But painted a coastal blue colour and with some shells and glass ornaments on its shelves, it became a statement piece in its own right.

I also had an old wire rack, which had a little rust on it. This cleaned up beautifully and is now a spice rack in my kitchen. I looked at a specialist home ware website and a similar piece would have set me back £95.

A little imagination

Whether it is an old wooden crate that is transformed into a wine-rack, a suitcase that becomes a blanket box or a set of old-fashioned milk bottles that turn into stylish flower vases, with a little imagination your junk can become your treasure.

Here are 5 everyday items that can take on a new lease of life:

  • Stepladder – if you are lucky enough to have an old wooden step-ladder this can make a very useful and stylish bookcase.
  • A bicycle – an old cycle will lean against the wall with an insouciance and style that will be unbearably cool. Paint in retro colours to enhance the effect.
  • Old tools – scythes, axes, pitch-forks – these working instruments of days gone by can add a touch of character to a wall, particularly if it is a bare brick wall, or you live in an old cottage.
  • Fabrics – this takes a little more effort, but making cushion covers or door stops from the cut-offs from your curtains can add an effortless synchronicity to a room.
  • Pallets – the wooden pallets that building materials arrive on can make a lovely table top, be it for outside furniture or a statement-making coffee table. Again, a little bit of craftsmanship is necessary but the result is fabulous and cost-effective.

Myths about mortgages

Applying for a mortgage: some of the myths dispelled

As the process of applying for, and getting, mortgages is toughening up under the Mortgage Market Review (MMR), we take a quick look at some of the common mortgage myths that can lead to would-be lenders making some basic errors, and ending up with a more expensive mortgage, or indeed no mortgage at all.

 

All too often, well meaning friends will give you some mortgage advice or offer some perceived wisdom, which could make you fear for the future or take the wrong course of action. Here we outline some of the common misconceptions, but if you are in any doubt, then do seek professional advice.

Mortgage myths

A mistake in your 20s will not stay on file for ever – Most of us made financial errors in our 20s. Whether you were a student who ran up debts; a home owner who missed a payment or a party-goer who outlived your means, there comes a point when years of sensible living far outweigh your wilder young days. Lenders are not interested in a missed payment when you were younger, they want to get a decent picture of your financial situation now. Most details relating to your credit history are kept on file for around six years.

If you have never borrowed money, you will get the best deals – This one catches a lot of people out. Most banks would prefer to see a well-managed history of borrowing and repayment than a blank canvas. If you have never borrowed money before, they have no way of assessing how well you will manage debts now. If you are thinking of getting a mortgage in the future, start to build a good credit history by taking out a small loan and repaying it in full.

Repaying small amounts will increase your credit rating – No, paying in full will increase your credit rating as it will demonstrate that you can afford repayments and you are coping well with a loan. By only paying small amounts or the minimum repayment you are more likely to lower your score.

Previous occupants at your address affect your credit rating – This will only be true if you have a shared financial agreement with them, like a joint account. It doesn’t matter what the financial situation of the previous occupant is, it will not appear on your credit score. It does help if you have a record of your own previous addresses, and no outstanding debts to your name related to those properties.

Past debts don’t count – Court judgements, Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) and bankruptcies stay on your records for at least six years. Even a missed repayment on a credit card will be on your record for six years. Seeing that you have missed payments may suggest to a lender that you will miss repayments with them.

Whether you are looking for a mortgage now, or plan to apply in the future, it is never too early to start looking at your finances and getting them into the best shape you can. A potential lender is looking for someone who is capable of managing their financial situation well, so it is always good to establish some good financial habits.