Creme Egg Dairy Milk bars exist and this is not a drill

Creme Egg Dairy Milk bars exist and this is not a drill


creme egg dairy milk bar

This year, Christmas is all about sweets. Forget the beauty advent calendars – there are so many treats on offer for the festive period that you’ll be filling up your shopping trolly with all sorts of delights, from the Christmas Colin the Caterpillar to the Mr. Kipling Christmas cakes.

Plus, Sainsbury’s are introducing a Lindt pick & mix station to 72 of their stores for anyone who wants to create the perfect box of chocolatey truffles. The actual dream.

So if you’re on the hunt for the best sweet treats, steady yourself because a Creme Egg Dairy Milk bar now exists and what a time to be alive.

Think your go-to Dairy Milk bar filled with the gooey goodness of a Creme Egg. Yum.

creme egg dairy milk

However, if you really want to get your hands on one don’t expect it to cost you the same as your average Cadbury bar. They are imported from across the globe, making an 180g bar £6.99 plus £1.99 for shipping. You can buy yours at GB Gifts.

Sure, £9 for a chocolate bar is a little on the steep side – but can you really put a cost on delicious confectionary? Possibly. But it’s worth investing at least once – especially if you’re looking for something unusual to put in your stocking this Christmas, or want to get your BFF/other half/favourite colleague something to show your appreciation.

Will you be stocking up on the Creme Egg Dairy Milk bars?

Go on, treat yourself. It is Christmas after all…

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Welcome to Dominica, AKA 'rainbow town' 

Welcome to Dominica, AKA 'rainbow town' 


Sophie Goddard takes a trip to the Caribbean to ‘Nature’s Island’

Dominica

“Drink rum and do what makes you happy!” This was the sage advice given to us by ‘Dr. Birdy’ (real name Bertrand Jno Baptiste) the leader of the bird-watching tour we joined on the sunny island of Dominica. He was (I think) joking, but it’s clearly advice worth heeding, since not only did he seem pretty content with his lot, but so did the other Dominicans we encountered. In fact, Dominica is home to an unusually high number of centenarians (their lifestyle is currently being researched by scientists) so it figures they’re doing something right.

The first thing to know about Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) is that it’s pronounced ‘DominEEca’. An island found halfway between Guadeloupe and Martinique, it’s less popular than its Caribbean neighbours, perhaps in part because it has no international airport or direct flights (travellers from London come via Antigua, Barbados or St Lucia to one of the country’s two airports). There are also less white sandy beaches than, say, Barbados (you’ve got volcanic ash to thank for that). But once you’re there, those cramped plane seats and sleepy stopovers are soon forgotten.

Dominic

 

Hurricane Maria

Known as ‘nature’s island’, Dominica’s rugged landscape is especially spectacular when you consider the mass devastation left by 2017’s Hurricane Maria. It struck September 18th, ravaging the island and wiping out homes, roads and entire forests. It’s estimated an incredible 90% of buildings were damaged or destroyed in the most powerful storm in Dominica’s history, with 31 losing their lives and thousands left homeless. The effects are visible wherever you go – in places, the landscape is completely barren with buildings still closed and businesses yet to reopen – and everybody we speak to seems to have been affected in some way, losing loved ones, homes or work. But despite the huge scale of the disaster, the island is doing an impressive job of getting back on its feet.

There are more active volcanoes in Dominica than anywhere else in the world, per square metre, and an enormous rainforest covers much of the land, along with rivers, waterfalls, pools, lakes and huge, high rugged mountains. The terrain was deemed so spectacular that scenes from the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean films were shot on the island. The lush vegetation has made it a mecca for bird-watchers too, which is why we found ourselves in the Morne Diablotin National Park, following the Syndicate Nature Trail. With Dr. Birdy leading the charge, my group and I hiked – well, more of a gentle amble – in search of local wildlife (which includes around 300 snakes, thankfully none poisonous). We learned plenty on our travels – for example, the Begonia plant, we discovered, tastes pleasantly like apple if you nibble a leaf. We spotted gray kingbirds, red–necked parrots, house wrens, bananaquits and hummingbirds – all happily cohabiting above us in the mango trees. After an hour of walking, we reached a leafy clearing, high up in the forest with nothing but impossibly tall, towering trees stretched out for miles beneath us. To our amazement, our guide sweeps his arm over the impressive landscape and tells us, “There wasn’t a single leaf after the hurricane, this was all completely empty”. The notion is almost too mind-boggling to compute. 

Dominica

A whale of a time

If bird-watching isn’t your bag, whale-watching should be – it’s an absolute must in Dominica since it’s the only country in the world where the sperm whale – AKA the largest predator on the planet – resides all year round. We took an afternoon trip out with the excellent Dive Dominica (£55pp) who follow strict codes of conduct to minimise disturbance, never luring or baiting the whales towards the boats. After our first spot of dolphins, we clocked the famous sperm whales within an hour of setting sail, as the Dive Dominica shared their impressive knowledge and (very patiently) answered everybody’s burning questions about the magnificent mammals. A truly unforgettable experience, it’s something I’ve recommended to anyone and everyone since, so if you get the chance, do it. Hankering after more animal action? Rainforest Riding run excellent horse-riding trips through the Cabrits National Park from (£77pp) and if you’re feeling daring, you can even take a gentle ride on horseback in the waves. 

Dominica

Sleep easy

When it comes to where you lay your head, options are steadily growing, since the Marriott and Kempinki chains have both announced plans to open hotels on the island in the very near future. Our first stop was The Fort Young Hotel, on the south of the island, which is just a minute’s walk from the ferry port and close to the nearby market and sites like the Roseau Cathedral and Dominica Museum. The location and views of the Caribbean are second-to-none and while rooms are simple and fairly no-frills, prices are reasonable and staff are friendly (they also serve a great poolside piña colada). We enjoyed dinner in the hotel’s restaurant and the seafood was raved about by all (Dominica, it transpires, isn’t great for vegetarians or vegans). For those keen to push the boat out, islanders told us that Secret Bay, near Portsmouth, is a suitably luxe alternative (there you’ll find high-end tree-houses with private pools and jaw-droppingly good views).

Dominica

Our next stop was Picard’s Beach Cottages, a row of beach-side ‘cottages’ found on the north of the island. Each ‘cottage’ (more of a beach hut, really) was named after a member of the Pirates of the Caribbean film crew (mine housed cinematographer Dariusz Wolski) as a nod to their stay during filming. Don’t expect high-end luxury – cottages are basic and not wonderfully secure (my door blew open in the night) so it would be sensible to ask reception to store valuables. Still, when you’re that close to the water, who cares? And if you wake to the sound of rain on the roof, hotfoot it to the pontoon ASAP – I saw the best rainbow of my life just before breakfast one morning.  

Island dining

When it comes to dining, many restaurants are still finding their feet post-Maria, and limits on imported produce bring about their own challenges – but that’s not to say there aren’t some hidden gems well worth seeking out. The first is The Great Old House, found in Roseau (just a stone’s throw from The Fort Young Hotel). The atmosphere is lively, service is excellent and the frozen daiquiris are next level (you’ll appreciate them in the heat, too). If there’s space, ask to sit on the balcony and order the red snapper, which was raved about by my fellow diners. The other is Secret Bay’s heavenly Zing Zing, where you can watch experimental chefs prepare seasonal tasting menus for around £60pp. After Hurricane Maria, one of the original Secret Bay villas was rebuilt, this time as a restaurant. ‘Building back better’ is a phrase I heard often during my stay in Dominica, but I’m pleased to report it seems to be true – Dominica’s future looks brighter than ever. 

Dominica

Dominica’s do’s:

  1. Try Rainbow Yoga  – truly beautiful. Watch out for news of a yoga festival coming to the island soon, too. 
  2. Chill out at Bongo Baths – enjoy a drink and watch the stars in your own rock pool for just £10pp an hour. 
  3. Book onto the Indian River Tour – a must for ‘pirates’ fans (there’s a refreshment stop at a rum shack too), expect to pay £15pp for an hour and a half of river action.
  4. Visit Papa and Mama Falls – go before midday to avoid the crowds.
  5. Explore Fort Shirley in Cabrits National Park. If local historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch, who helped restore the building in the 1980s, is around, make the most of his excellent knowledge.  

Dominica

Go there:

  • Return flights with BA via Antigua cost from £615pp
  • Fort Young Hotel: Rooms cost from £129 per night based on two people sharing a double room
  • Picard Beach Cottages: Cottages cost from £91 per night based on two people sharing a double cottage 
  • Airport Parking and Hotels offers a wide range of parking at all major airports in the UK. One week of Meet & Greet parking at London Gatwick Airport costs from £94. Visit www.aph.com or call 01342 859442
  • For more information visit discoverdominica.com

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Dr Sonia Adesara: 'Speak out, sometimes being a troublemaker is a good thing'

Dr Sonia Adesara: 'Speak out, sometimes being a troublemaker is a good thing'


In honour of International Leadership Week 2019, we share the story of Sonia Adesara, a junior doctor and campaigner who believes everybody should have access to healthcare

Sonia Adesara
Getty Images

As part of the Doctors For Choice UK team, Dr Sonia Adesara campaigns for the decriminalisation of abortion. The #AskHerToStand director is also passionate about encouraging women from diverse backgrounds to enter politics, as well as ending NHS charging for migrants and reducing racism in hospitals.

Tragedy shaped my career. My aunt died in hospital when she was 23 and, to this day, we don’t know why. After investigating, my mother was told her sister’s notes had ‘got lost’. This made me want to provide the best possible care to every patient. Sometimes, being a troublemaker is a good thing. Don’t be afraid to speak out. I use Twitter as a way of getting views out and raising awareness. 
I also do the tweets for Doctors For Choice UK, trying to counter misinformation and share facts around abortion. I remember learning at school that, prior to the NHS, people used to die of preventable illnesses because they couldn’t afford healthcare. I think I knew then that it was something I wanted to be part of.

Find your inspiration. My grandma shaped my career and life. Born in a village in India, her parents died when she was eight, and she was married off to a much older and abusive man. As a teenager, she left him and arrived in Uganda illiterate and with a baby, determined to make a better life. When I find myself questioning myself or what people think of me, I think of her. She didn’t make those sacrifices for me to take my privileges for granted.

Be curious. A couple of years ago, I volunteered for an outreach clinic in London and saw the impact a hostile environment, NHS charging and immigration policies have on people living on our streets. A young woman who’d been trafficked told me she was too scared to get help in case she was detained or deported. The experience made 
me adamant that our immigration policies were wrong and inhumane, and led me to campaign with other doctors to end them.

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Lindt pick & mix has arrived at Sainsbury's and what a time to be alive

Lindt pick & mix has arrived at Sainsbury's and what a time to be alive


lindt pick and mix

This year we’ve been absolutely spoilt when it comes to Christmas snacks. From the delightful Christmas Colin the Caterpillar – which would obviously be the perfect centrepiece for any festive gathering – to the rather unusual Christmas crisps (including a Brussels Sprouts flavour), there is something for everyone.

And let’s not forget the one and only cheese advent calendar for anyone with a love of all things savoury.

But what’s on offer if you want something perfectly tailored to your tastes? Well there’s now a Lindt pick and mix at Sainsbury’s and what a time to be alive!

Individual spheres of of the popular chocolates will be available across 72 stores, meaning that you can create your own mixture and try out some new flavours.

lindt pick and mix

Credit: Sainsbury’s

You’ll be able to pick your mix of mint, strawberry and cream, caramel, dark chocolate, mint, orange, hazelnut, white chocolate, coconut, sea salt and Stracciatella.

It’ll set you back £3 for a box of eight, £5 for 14 or £10 for 28 truffles. They’re notably more expensive than the pre-packaged boxes (a 200g box is currently priced at £5 in Sainsbury’s), but if you’re keen to shake things up and create a completely personalised box then it’s up to you to decide whether or not it’s worth investing. If you’re feeling generous, it could also make a lovely little Christmas present.

If you’re after more personalised goodies, you can also get a unique box of Quality Street filled with all your favourites so none go to waste, and more importantly it has your name stamped on it. Wonderful.

Merry Christmas, indeed.

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An Elf-inspired New York hotel room exists so that's our December getaway sorted

An Elf-inspired New York hotel room exists so that's our December getaway sorted


elf inspired hotel room
© Entertainment Film Distribution

Christmas is coming, and while for the most part it means cheese, Prosecco and the Harry Potter movies on repeat, it’s also the perfect time to book a last minute trip to Europe for a weekend of cute and festive markets.

But if you’re planning to go a little further afield, there’s something very interesting happening across the pond in New York city and we’re certain you won’t want to miss it.

One hotel has decided to deck out a room inspired by the Christmas classic, Elf, and it sounds like an absolute dream.

Club Wyndham has decorated the suite with things that would make Buddy’s heart sing, such as hundreds of hanging paper snowflakes, giant candy canes, a life-size toy soldier, a Christmas tree and presents according to Insider.

The kitchen is also stocked with special Elf goodies like spaghetti, chocolate sauce, Pop-Tarts, cookie-dough rolls and M&Ms (but you might not be so keen to mix them all together Buddy-style).

The couches are covered in comfy, furry blankets and cushions and it looks like a winter wonderland. Remember the ultimate festive beauty of Gimbels? Yep, it essentially looks just like it. Instagram at the ready.

Sadly, it doesn’t include a visit from Will Ferrell or Zooey Deschanel, but you’ll definitely have a rollicking good time.

The room accommodates up to four people, with the sofa folding out into a bed, and it will be available from 2nd – 20th December 2019. But if you want to reserve a stay you’d better be quick as this is certain to book up in no time.

If you’re keen to stay in this unique hotel room, it’ll set you back $399 a night (£307) so grab three friends and get ready to book the stay of your Christmas dreams.

What are you waiting for? Happy holidays!

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The male contraceptive injection could be available in the next six months

The male contraceptive injection could be available in the next six months


Would your other half be willing to try this?

male contraceptive injection 164210757
Credit: Paper Boat Creative / Getty

Talk of a male contraceptive injection has been doing the rounds for years now. At the end of 2016, researchers revealed that they had found a way to suppress sperm count in the testicles. More than 250 men between the ages of 18 and 45 took part in the research, and had all been in monogamous relationships with female partners between the ages of 18 and 38 for at least one year.

Every woman who has suffered from mood swings, depression and acne at the hands of their contraception rejoiced at the news that they might get a bit of a break. But the study was cut short when a safety review noticed that the male participants began experiencing some uncomfortable side effects, such as – oh wait – mood swings, depression, and acne.

However, it seems that all is not lost for ladies who wish they could put down the pill packet as the world’s first male contraceptive injection – which can last up to 13 years – could be available within the next six months.

According to the Hindustan Times, a government-funded biomedical research agency, the Indian Council of Medical Research, has completed clinical trials and is awaiting regulatory approval.

Dr R.S. Sharma, senior scientist with ICMR, said: ‘The product is ready, with only regulatory approvals pending (from the government).

‘The trials are over, including extended, Phase 3 clinical trials for which 303 candidates were recruited with a 97.3 per cent success rate and no reported side effects.

‘The product can safely be called the world’s first male contraceptive.’

VG Somani, drug controller of India, said: ‘It’s the first in the world from India so we have to be extra careful about approval. We are looking at all aspects, especially the good manufacturing practice (GMP) certification that won’t raise any questions about its quality.

‘I’d say it will still take about six to seven months for all the approvals to be granted before the product can be manufactured.’

In 2017, scientists trialled a male contraceptive injection that aimed to prevent the body from releasing sperm. It works by inserting a gel into a tube of the male reproductive system, stopping the sperm from being transported from the testicles to the urethra. The injection had a 100% success rate over two years and was also a reversible procedure.

Professor Adam Balen, Chair of the British Fertility Society, said at the time: ‘This is an interesting technique that achieves a reversible ‘vasectomy’ by blocking the passage of sperm with a substance that later can be flushed out.

‘If free of side effects, then this novel approach has the potential for great promise as a male contraceptive. It is essential to know that the reversibility remains, irrespective of the duration of use.’

Currently, men have two options when it comes to using contraception themselves – either using condoms as a temporary method, or going for the permanent option of a vasectomy.

Women on the other hand have fifteen contraceptive methods available to them in the UK.

So another option for guys that means we can give our bodies and hormones a break?

We’re sold.

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MG is back with the all-electric ZS EV and it's perfect for urban driving

MG is back with the all-electric ZS EV and it's perfect for urban driving


The ZS EV is a medium-sized family SUV, with a smart, compact urban design outside and a great interior that mixes smart plastics with bold, unusual graphics

MG ZS EV
MG Motor UK

Words by Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto Trader

Ignore the clunky handful of letters: this is an SUV worth test driving. MG is a brand your granddad would be familiar with, from its heyday as maker of small British sports cars in the Sixties. It’s now changed beyond all recognition: its owners are Chinese, and it’s building electric SUVs. Good ones, too, at a reasonable price.

Style

The ZS EV is a medium-sized family SUV, with a smart, compact urban design outside and a great interior that mixes smart plastics with bold, unusual graphics. The digital screen has a different colour for each function (satnav, radio etc) that looks jazzy and makes the system easier to use while driving. The seats and dashboard are slimmed down, and black plastics with white stitching everywhere brightens the interior. There are two design options: Excite or the more expensive Exclusive. Our car was a very pretty pastel blue with silver roof rails.

Tech

For the price (see below) you get plenty of technology. There’s smartphone integration for Apple and Android, Bluetooth connectivity and a large screen for accessing all the systems. The Exclusive version gives you more speakers (six) with surround sound, as well as rain-sensing wipers, electric and heated wing mirrors and a rear parking camera which is becoming a necessity in high-sided cars that are continuously parked in town.

MG ZS EV

MG Motor UK

Comfort

There’s shoulder, leg and head room for five adults, and a large boot which has two levels for the floor to slot into, depending now how much stuff you need to load on board. When you fold the rear seats down, although they don’t go flat, they do leave a space deep and wide enough for bikes and pushchairs. There are handy little storage nets on the sides of the car, cup holders and door bins. Enough, in other words, for a family on a road trip.

Best of all, because this is an electric car, it’s silent, save for some distant wind and tyre noise. Passengers will be asleep in no time.

Power

The ZS EV is a pure electric car (the standard ZS comes in petrol or diesel form, but we highly recommend this electric version). To charge it, you press part of the grill at the front of the car which slides up to reveal two sockets, one for charging at home and one for a 50kW fast-charging public point.

It will charge to 80 per cent from empty via a domestic charging point in 6.5 hours (in other words, overnight). That goes down to 40 minutes at a rapid charging point. And it should be good for 160 miles between charges.

On the move, this standard-looking SUV has extraordinary handling characteristics – it drives sublimely, with precise, light steering and a character that belongs to a car costing twice this much. It’s one of the motoring surprises of the year for us.

Price

Astonishing value, given that both the battery and car are covered by MG’s seven-year warranty. The Excite version starts at £24,995 and the Exclusive at £26,995. That’s including the Government grant for electric cars. Add to that the running costs of an electric car, which are roughly half that of a petrol or diesel equivalent, and this looks like a great choice for those wanting value for money.

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The new Skoda Karoq is taking up some serious space in the SUV car game

The new Skoda Karoq is taking up some serious space in the SUV car game


The Skoda Karoq is a serious SUV, with a focus on value for money and practicality over the swankier styling of its Audi and VW stablemates

skoda karoq
Skoda

Words by Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto-Trader

Remember when Skoda was the butt of everyone’s jokes (“What do you call a convertible Skoda? A skip” etc etc)? Well it’s been years since anyone cracked a joke about this brand now owned by VW Group, and that’s because Skoda cars are essentially cheaper versions of their Audi, Seat and VW counterparts. So more bang for your buck and the car brand of discerning buyers. The Karoq is Skoda’s take on the VW Tiguan and Seat Ateca, which are essentially the same car: a mid-sized SUV. Plus, you get an umbrella and removable torch in the Karoq. Win.

Style

The Skoda Karoq is a serious SUV, with a focus on value for money and practicality over the swankier styling of its Audi and VW stablemates. The external design is succinct, compact and restrained, and the same on the inside, where dark fabric and plastic surfaces meld. It’s slightly smaller than the VW Tiguan, as if to provide a reason for the lower pricing. Inside, if you covered up the Skoda badge on the steering wheel, you could just as easily be in a VW, with the same buttons and layout on the dash.

Tech

We tested the SE L trim, which is above the basic SE level. You’ll need it for satnav and a wifi hotspot, although you need to rise to the top Edition trim for wireless charging and a bigger screen size. SE L also gives you a subscription-based online infotainment app with live news, traffics and weather feeds.

The standard, base spec gives you a small touchscreen, and smartphone connectivity for Apple and Android. The standard infotainment system is VW’s which has a very clear display and reveals more functions on screen as your finger approaches.

Skoda karoq

Skoda

Comfort

The Karoq doesn’t have the high seating position of a Range Rover, but neither does it have the sometimes overwhelming size – instead this is a fine balance between height and usability, perfect for the school run, small office carparks and shopping. There’s plenty of visibility and light all round, which is handy for drivers and young passengers.

Our test car had 1.5-litre bottle holders in the front doors, chrome roof rails, foldable tables on the front seat backrests, an illuminated and cooled glovebox, heated front seats, privacy glass, a removable LED torch in the boot and an umbrella under the passenger seat.

Power

We tested the 1.5-litre TSI engine which is their petrol engine with 150 horsepower, alongside a six-speed manual gearbox. Don’t go for the 1.0-litre petrol – it’s just not enough power for an SUV. The diesel engines will only be right for you if you do high mileage or long journeys – short journeys from cold kill diesels. The 1.5 TSI will do 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds which is reasonable and you should get about 38mpg.

Price

Our test car came in at £27,550, which included lane assist with blind-spot warning (£920), spare wheel (£150) and electrically operated boot (£500). The range starts at £22,240 and rises to over £30,000. If you’re not a badge snob, but still want the feel of a VW inside, a Skoda is a wise choice.

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Cushioning is the latest dating trend we didn't need (sigh)

Cushioning is the latest dating trend we didn't need (sigh)


Great.

cushioning dating trend 1095101036
Credit: Ekaterina Molchanova / Getty

Whether you’re looking for true love on an online dating site or a casual hook-up on a sex app, there’s one thing that we have all experienced at one point or another – a terrible dating trend.

Long gone are the days when it was just ghosting that you had to worry about – now there’s the zombieing dating trend (when someone ghosts you and then pops up from beyond the grave a few months later and messages you as though no time at all has passed), there’s dogfishing (when someone uses another person’s dog in their online dating profile to lure you in), and then there’s the very frustrating r-bombing (which, to be honest, we are all guilty of doing).

But, sadly, they’re not the only ones we need to be aware of. Enter yet another dating trend that nobody asked for: cushioning.

The act of cushioning is very much as it sounds; you’re in the early days of dating someone, everything is going well and you’re pretty smitten. However, your other half is secretly lining up several other people (aka cushions) incase things go sideways in order to soften (or cushion) the blow.

Brutal, right?

Dr Jennifer Rhodes, a relationship expert, told VT.com: ‘Quite frankly, it makes me sad that people have such trouble with emotional intimacy and talking about feeling scared with the person you are dating.

‘You can’t really fall in love unless you are ready to get hurt. Cushioning is for people who are not ready for real love.’

Of course, you’re free to do whatever you want while dating – want to see one person? Fine. Want to see five people? Also fine.

However, if you are dating other people you need to make it perfectly clear to your partner/s so that you’re on the same page and nobody gets hurt.

Communication is key, people. Simple as that.

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Taking the leap to go freelance? Emma Gannon offers her top 8 budgeting tips

Taking the leap to go freelance? Emma Gannon offers her top 8 budgeting tips


Author and broadcaster Emma Gannon lets us in on the secrets of staying money savvy in the world of self-employment

Paul Storie

In a modern climate of hyperconnectivity and a closer corporate focus on emotional wellbeing, the world is rapidly adapting to the idea of flexible working. In fact, according to research carried out by NatWest (in partnership with cross-party think tank Demos), since 2008, the number of highly skilled female freelancers has grown by 67%, as increasingly more of us are trading in our traditional nine-to-fives’ to join the ‘liquid workforce’ – a group including anyone that chooses to dip their toe into the exotic sea of self-employment.

Although making the move to freelance is an exciting process, it’s hard not to get bogged down by concerns that you needn’t consider in the traditional workforce, such as figuring out how to pay your own salary or finding the right pension scheme for you.

Here to ease your freelance woes is Emma Gannon, host of award-winning podcast, Ctrl, Alt, Delete. Emma, a freelancer of four years, has linked up with NatWest to launch a new guide for freelancers to help them work out their next move. Covering everything from time-management, to personal finances and ‘finding your tribe’, here are Emma’s top tips on leaping into the unknown territory of freelance employment…

1. Open up a business bank account

‘The first thing I did after going freelance was set up a company – as it’s a great way of having both a business and a personal account. I have my personal account, which covers all my personal finances, and then all my work-related payments go in and out of my business account. Keeping separate accounts will allow you to have the work/life separation that you can sometimes lose when you’re self-employed.’

2. Pay yourself a salary

‘Once you’ve separated your business and personal bank accounts, pay yourself a monthly salary into your personal one. Even if you’ve worked with a big client and had a good income that month, it’s important to keep the amount consistent to even out the ‘lumpy’ salary that many freelancers are all too familiar with. If you’d like to book a holiday or treat yourself and pay more one month, then even it out by paying yourself less the following month to stagger the amount out throughout the year.’

3. Enlist help with invoices

‘Working out your own invoices will eat up a lot of valuable time. When first starting out, you mightn’t be able to hire an accountant for your invoicing, but there are some great tools available to help you out. You can open a digital business account with Natwest called Mettle, which helps you create and send invoices. Software such as FreeAgent is also available to automatically chase overdue invoices, so you don’t have to worry about tarnishing any relationships by constantly chasing for money owed. Remember to remind contractors of the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Act (1998), which means you have the right to charge interest on overdue accounts.’

4. Spreadsheets are your best friend

‘The upside of going freelance is that I’ve never been more on top of my finances in my life. It’s very manual in terms of having to work our your own taxes and VAT (if you need to register this), but as long as you have some sort of spreadsheet that explains all of the different figures, you can track what you’ve saved throughout the year and look at putting any excess funds into a pension.’

5. Manage your time effectively

‘The amazing thing about running your own business is you can work whenever you want, but it’s up to you to put down those boundaries so you’re not constantly on the clock. I work better in the evenings, so if it means having a slow morning and then being really productive later on then that works for me. I also focus on one thing at a time rather than trying to multi-task.’

6. Find your tribe

To avoid feeling lonely, I work from co-working spaces because you can recreate that office vibe very easily being around likeminded people. It’s not just about going there, sitting at your desk and leaving without talking to anyone – they hold events where you can make new business connections. There are plenty of apps such as The Wing and WeWork that connect you to other people. It takes a bit of work initially, but once you find your tribe of fellow freelancers it’s amazing.’

 7. Work on your personal brand

‘If you’re keen to maximise on your earning potential, focus first on your personal brand – there are so many other freelancers out there doing the same job as you, so why should that contractor pick you? It’s important to realise what your unique offering is, be it by investing into your website or the way you come across to new potential contacts. Put yourself at the centre and celebrate why you’re the best person for the job.’

8. Don’t be afraid to talk about money

‘I always encourage people to speak in actual numbers to their fellow community of freelancer friends. At dinner the other night with some friends, we talked about what we were earning and discovered that one of us had actually been unfairly paid. If you’re someone that believes in equality and helping other people out, it’s important to be honest about the money side of things.’

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