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A Brief History of British Taxis

When most people think about England, certain images like the Big Ben, the queen, red phone booths, double-decker buses, and black cabs will undoubtedly spring to mind. The taxi is as much a British phenomenon as afternoon tea or Sunday roast, having driven people from point A to point B since the 17th century. 

Millions of people rely on taxis to get around, but where did they come from? Join us on a ride through history as we uncover the complete journey of the taxicab in London. 

Beginnings: The Original Hackney Coach 

The first taxi was the simple horse-drawn carriage known as a Hackney Coach. (Of course, Hackney was the area of London notorious for its stables.) The concept was born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, when wealthy Londoners struggled to keep up with the costs of maintaining horses, coaches, and drivers, and began to capitalise on their investments by making their coaches available for hire by lesser members of the gentry.

 

Depiction of an original four-wheeled Hackney Carriage, circa 19th century.

The First Taxi Rank

In 1625, there were around 20 Hackney Coaches for hire, operating largely out of inns and hotels. By 1634, a wealthy Londoner by the name of Captain John Bailey came up with a new, more systematic idea which seems so familiar to us now: the taxi rank. 

Bailey owned four Hackney carriages, which operated from the Maypole Inn, and charged set tariffs for travel to different areas of London. He began a system for his cabs, making drivers follow certain rules and regulations, and decorating the carriages in eye-catching designs for recognition from customers. This is arguably when taxicabs transformed from a local phenomenon to a much more commercially-minded business. 

Dropping Wheels: A New Design

Hackney carriages remained pretty much identical to how they were first developed for about two centuries, until they saw a significant transformation in 1823. A new, faster carriage with only two wheels arrived from France. Its name came along too, with the French word cabriolet quickly evolving into our still commonly used ‘cab’ and ‘cabbie’. 

The French model was adopted in England, most prominently influencing Joseph Aloysius Hansom of York to design and patent the notorious two-wheeled Hansom Cab. The Hansom Cab rapidly gained popularity and began to replace the Hackney Carriage, offering more stability and speed than its predecessor. They could be drawn by one horse alone, improving cost-effectiveness. Another major innovation in the taxi business around this time was the introduction of taximeters, which used mechanical clockwork to measure fares according to distance. 

A Hansom Cab design, via London Historians’ Blog

The Hansom cab also offered far more convenience for passengers, with a more protective cab, folding wooden doors to protect passengers from the elements, a roof hatch for communicating with and paying the driver, and a driver’s lever allowing him to open the doors for passengers. Hansom Cabs were very successful and continued to operate in London as well as other cities in the British Empire until the introduction of motor vehicles in the early 1900s. 

Premature Futurism: The First Electric Cab 

The Bersey, named after Walter C Bersey, was built in 1897 by the London Electrical Cab Company. It was the first attempt at commercialising electric taxis in the UK. Bersey cabs used traction batteries which were suspended from springs under the vehicle, and could travel up to 12mph. It weighed about 2 tonnes and could cover about 30 miles on a single full charge. 

A Bersey Cab in the Science Museum, London

Unfortunately, like most prototypes, the cabs were overly expensive, heavy, and unreliable, leading to several road accidents. The car was known as the ‘Hummingbird’ for the noise it made, but the name was not around for long. The vehicle quickly fell out of favour with taxi drivers and customers, and was abandoned entirely by 1900. Interestingly, electric cabs did not return to London’s streets until last decade (over a century later). 

The Introduction of Motors

In 1903, London cabs began to use combustion engines, which were far more reliable than their electric predecessors. The first examples of engine-powered cabs to appear in London included the prominent French Prunel, as well as British models called the Rational, Simplex, and Herald. 

In WWI, production of taxis came to a standstill while manufacturers switched to military production for the war effort. It was the 1920’s before London taxis were developed further and new cab designs appeared on the streets. There have been many variations and innovations of the London taxi, but the 1948 Austin FX3 is considered to have inspired the distinct style of current cabs. 

A 1955 Austin FX3, via Volo Auto Museum

Although the Austin FX3 had many rivals, it dominated the streets of London, and so did its new and improved 1958 successor, the FX4. By 1997, London Taxis International developed the TX1 model, followed by the TX2 in 2002. These models saw significantly improved interiors, allowing for far more passenger comfort as well as additions like digital screens. The latest variant, the TX4, will be the last of engine-powered London cabs. 

Back To Electric

With increasing concern surrounding fossil fuels and emissions, and increasing pressure to innovate, the electric London taxi is making a big comeback. Zero-emissions is the new standard, and taxi manufacturers are keeping up with electric models like the LEVC TX and the Ecotive Metrocab.

The LEVC TX electric London taxi, via Auto Express

More and more vehicles use electric energy rather than petrol around the country and the world, and this includes black cabs as well as taxis. Hopefully, passengers, drivers, and fleet owners alike will continue to drive innovation in more eco-friendly, sustainable transportation solutions. At ABC Taxis Norwich, for example, we are committed to doing our part to make a change thanks to our up-to-date fleet of eco-cars. 

Thank you for joining us on a journey through the ages, all the way back to the Elizabethan era when the first Hackney carriages were born, to the electric cars of the future. Happy cabbing!

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Things to Do in Norfolk This Winter

With the days getting lighter and many sunny winter days ahead, it’s a great time to get out of the house. Despite the cold, there are many things to do in Norfolk on your own, as a couple, or with your whole family. Here are some of our suggestions for the best activities in Norfolk to get you out of the house this winter. 

Go for a walk on the coast 

Happisburgh Beach via UK Beach Guide

Long walks on the beach are a Norfolk classic, whether you’re walking the dog, having a romantic date, or enjoying a day of family fun. Put on some layers and get refreshed on one of the many beautiful beaches on the Norfolk coast. Afterwards, why not enjoy a comforting mug of hot chocolate at a cafe, or a warming lunch by the fire at a pub nearby? Some of our favourite lesser-known beaches include Overstrand with its green cliffs, Happisburgh with its immense historical value, and Brancaster for its dog-friendly expanse. 

Watch the birds rise with the sun

Snettisham bird spectacular via The Royal Photographic Society

We highly recommend getting up early to go see the sunrise on the coast. Not only that, but because North and West Norfolk house a fantastic variety of migratory birds in the winter, you’ll see them rise too as they leave their overnight roosts! A great place to watch this spectacle is Snettisham Nature Reserve, where masses of waterfowl gather, and peregrines and hen harriers hunt. Goldeneyes also gather here, beginning to display in preparation for spring. 

Visit Cromer Pier

The stunning promenade at Cromer Pier

Cromer’s heritage seaside pier, opened in 1901, is a huge local landmark. At the end of the pier, you will find The Pavilion Theatre, which is a much-loved seaside attraction and one of only five end-of-pier theatres in the UK. The theatre hosts a wide variety of entertainment throughout the year, including the Cromer Pier Show. Furthermore, the pier has a working RNLI Lifeboat station, a cafe, and a bar, making it a great place for a day out, with plenty to see. 

Go tropical at Urban Jungle Plant Nursery and Cafe

The cake counter among tropical plants at Urban Jungle, via EDP

Why not escape to a tropical place while it’s cold outside? If you like tropical plants, delicious food, and unusual settings, you must visit Urban Jungle in Old Costessey. Not only can you stroll around looking at their incredible selection of indoor and outdoor plants before sitting down for tea and some cake, but they also organise events such as terrarium, macrame, floral, wreath, and aquascaping workshops. There’s something for everyone at this indoor tropical paradise, so make sure to check it out! 

Explore Felbrigg Hall and its enormous estate

A glimpse of the interior of Felbrigg Hall

The 17th century hall at Blickling was owned by the Boleyn family, and it is likely that Anne spent a portion of her early years here, giving it immense historic interest. Managed by the National Trust, the property is also known for its beautiful, original Jacobean architecture and fine Georgian interior. The Hall also boasts a walled garden, orangerie, cafe, shop, and 800 acres of land for you to explore. 

Take a ride on the North Norfolk Railway

A view of the North Norfolk Railway, via The Globe Inn in Wells-next-the-Sea

Starting in Sheringham, a real steam train will take you on a journey to see the beautiful landscapes and coastlines of North Norfolk! William Marriott built the railway in 1887, and it ran until 1924. The timetable is somewhat limited in winter, but on the plus side there are special events and activities! 

We hope we have given you some good ideas for what to do in Norfolk for the remainder of the wintertime. Wrap up warmly and go enjoy the sun and fresh air, historical landmarks, and family activities! There is plenty to do out there if you are looking. 

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Top Tips for Passing Your Driving Test

Passing your driving test is an important rite of passage in any young person’s life. With a single step, you can unlock a new level of freedom that will make you feel like a proper adult. Passing one test could allow you to go anywhere, with reasonable limits of course, much more conveniently than Britain’s famously unreliable public transport system. It’s okay to be nervous! This is an important thing that you’ve spent countless hours practising for. But, if you feel like you still need advice, here are some top tips for passing your driving test.

1. Sleep

Driving requires focus and concentration, so it’s important to get a good night’s sleep! You’ll already know from your lessons that driving is tiring. It’s easy to feel completely drained after a two-hour driving lesson, and your test will inevitably be a little more intense. Make sure that you have a relaxing evening the night before your test, and go to bed early.

Even better, make sure you’re well-fed on the day of your test, whether it be after breakfast or after lunch. Good food will give you the energy you need to keep up the level of concentration required to drive effectively.

2. Revise Theory

You might have completed your theory test months before you take your practical, so it never hurts to brush up on your theory! You’ll need to be able to recognise and react to road signs, among other things, during your test, so it’s important to keep yourself familiar with them.

3. Use a familiar car

You might already have a car that you’ve been able to do hours of practice in. If so, use it! Alternatively, use your instructor’s car. Nowadays you will be tested on your ability to perform actions such as turning on and off lights and other functions of the car while driving, so knowing where all the knobs and switches are will be a serious help to you passing this part of the test. Even more importantly, familiarity with the car’s clutch biting point will help you avoid excessive stalling, and help you change gear smoothly.

4. Practise

Make sure you’ve had the number of lessons you need before you take your test. Thankfully, most driving instructors will be proactive on this front, and more than able to advise you when you should take your test, based on how you have been learning with them throughout the process. 

Also, be sure you’ve had as much private practise that you feel you need before you book your test. This isn’t always necessary, but it will only make you even more familiar with driving, and make your technique look more polished and practised when it comes to your test.

5. Have a lesson beforehand

Taking a lesson beforehand will ease you back into driving, eliminating those preliminary nerves that come with sitting yourself behind the wheel again. You can also practice any techniques of manoeuvres you might feel unsure about with your instructor, so you can enter your test feeling confident about your weaker areas. 

6. Take your instructor

It’s not compulsory to take anyone with you, but you can bring your instructor if you want! Some might feel that this adds an extra layer of pressure that they don’t want. This is fine! But, if you don’t mind having them there, taking your instructor along with you can be helpful. They can’t give you any advice during the test, but if you were to fail, it will be helpful to have someone there who is familiar with you and how you drive, so you can have an extra perspective on where you went wrong.

7. Know the test route

Ensure that you’re familiar with the test route before you take your test. Routes vary wildly depending on where you are in the country, and it’s certainly true that some areas of the country have routes that are much easier to pass than others. You could certainly pick a good place in the country to do your test, but this isn’t a viable option for most, and it’s best to simply stick with where you’ve been learning. After all, picking the easier option won’t necessarily make you a better driver in the long run!

8. Avoid common mistakes

There’s a set of common mistakes that many make on their test that you should try to avoid. Hopefully, your instructor will have familiarised you with much of this during your lessons. Keeping your speed appropriate, not just in terms of the speed limit, but also your speed when approaching roundabouts, junctions, or performing manoeuvres is one. 

Another is making the correct observations. Check your mirrors regularly, and make it obvious that you are doing so. Your test supervisor will be paying attention to ensure you’re doing this, but it doesn’t hurt to make it as clear as possible that you’re doing it!

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Roundabouts: A Guide For Learner Drivers

For many learner drivers, roundabouts can be a gauntlet. They often have fast-moving traffic and multiple lanes can increase the confusion even further. For nervous learners, roundabouts are a key place where it’s easy to get panicked and make bad decisions. There are three key areas to focus on here: your approach, what to do when you’re on the roundabout, and leaving the roundabout. For learner drivers, here’s a quick guide to roundabouts.

What Are Roundabouts?

A roundabout is a circular intersection allowing traffic to flow in one direction around a central island. Anyone living in the UK who has been in the car with their parents, or travelled on a bus or in a taxi, will have been familiar with these for most of their lives. However, in other places throughout the world, such as the US, roundabouts are far rarer. So, anyone living in the UK having moved here from abroad may find roundabouts highly confusing at first. Even learners who are familiar with roundabouts can find them baffling at first. Don’t worry, this is normal! Hopefully, the following tips will be of use to you.

Approaching the Roundabout

Remember your checks. Check your interior mirror first, then whichever mirror corresponds to the way you’re going. Left mirror if you’re turning left, right mirror if you’re turning right, and neither if you’re going straight ahead. Remember to signal which way you’re going, or not at all if you’re going straight ahead. 

Is the roundabout open or closed? An open roundabout is one where you can clearly see the roundabout you’re approaching. These are easier roundabouts to approach as they allow you to clearly assess the traffic conditions and whether you will need to stop at the roundabout, or whether you can continue onto it smoothly. 

Closed roundabouts, by contrast, are ones where your view of the roundabout is obscured until you make your final approach, possibly by high walls or fences. These require more caution on the approach, as you cannot be sure of the traffic conditions.

When approaching, timing is everything. On the approach, you need to consider when to break, as well as when to engage the clutch in order to change gear. The timing for this can be tricky, and getting the timing right is often the key to handling roundabouts confidently. 

If you break too early, you will come into the roundabout slowly, and this will hold up any traffic behind you. Approach too fast, and you risk stopping too late and partially entering the roundabout, which poses a danger to you and other road users. 

Similarly, learning when to engage the clutch and change to whichever gear is necessary will help you feel more confident on the approach and will enable you to respond more effectively to the traffic conditions.

Check your gear. Roundabouts are best handled in second gear, however, if you need to stop at the intersection you must be prepared to switch to first gear promptly.

Ensure you’re positioned in the correct lane. Road signs are your friend here – they will tell you which lane you need to be in relative to which exit you’re taking.

Also, make sure your car is pointed the way you’re going. If you’re turning left, point yourself slightly to the left as you pull up. If you’re turning right, point yourself to the right. This is just like an average junction.

Constantly and briskly check to the right on the approach. This will help you know if you need to give way. Alternate this with looking where you are going.

On the Roundabout

Maintain proper speed. It’s important to match your speed with the speed of other drivers once you’re on the roundabout. Not doing so could cause an accident, as roundabouts are a fast-moving, constant stream of traffic. 

You will often need to switch up a gear whilst on the roundabout. Practice this to ensure you can do it confidently.

Keep an eye on your positioning. Keep left if you’re turning left, and ensure you’re not veering too far to the right when turning right. Keeping an eye on the edge of the central island is a good way to do this, as well as making sure to keep your hand steady on the wheel.

Leaving the Roundabout

Speed up. It’s beneficial to give yourself an extra boost of speed when leaving a roundabout. Don’t exceed the speed limit, but give the accelerator a little bit extra when you’re moving off. This is especially important if you’re leaving the roundabout onto a road with a higher speed limit, as other drivers will also be looking to speed up.

Final checks. Don’t forget your final mirror check as you move off the roundabout, and be especially careful if exiting requires you to transition across lanes. Other drivers may be looking to overtake you at this point, so keeping an eye on your right-hand blind spot will allow you to avoid any possible accidents.

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Top Tips for Brand New Taxi Drivers

Life as an ABC taxi driver is an open door to new experiences. You’ll get to see every inch of Norwich as you drive people to where they want to go. You will be an integral part of peoples’ journeys to and from their destinations, and whether or not they arrive at their destinations promptly, and satisfied with their journeys. However, the job you’re taking on is also not without risk. While most members of the public are regular, everyday people looking to get from one location to another, it’s also without doubt that some will attempt to exploit, rob or harm you. Here are some top tips for brand new drivers to ensure that you’re providing the best service you possibly can, whilst also remaining as safe as you possibly can.

Know Your Area

One of the keys to providing an excellent taxi service is to know the area in which you operate like the back of your hand. While the days of taxi drivers needing this knowledge in the most literal sense are gone, your sat nav won’t always be reliable or accurate, and your passengers still want to arrive at their destinations, rather than a five-minute walk away. Studying the area you’re covering will provide you with an instant vault of knowledge to access that will vastly improve your service, allowing you to pick the best routes that will allow your passengers to reach their destinations in the most timely possible manner.

Kick the Tyre

Make sure to check your vehicle inside and out before you start your shift. Hopping into the driver’s seat and taking off like a rocket is a surefire way to burden yourself with equipment failures and car trouble along the way, wasting time that could be better spent ferrying potential passengers. Taxis are constantly in use and in service, so the potential for failures is much higher than your regular old car. In order to provide the best possible service, perform a quick roster of checks every time you start a shift.

Be Alert

While driving a taxi might feel exactly the same as driving your own car, you’re providing a service to others. Careful driving is even more essential in your taxi than it is when you’re off the clock. Remain alert at all times to goings-on on the road and on the pavement so that you and your passengers are as safe as you can possibly be.

Keep it Clean

No one wants to step into a taxi and be assaulted by unwelcome smells and dirt. While you might let your personal car fill up with empty takeaway bags, coffee cups and empty packets, your taxi should be a haven of cleanliness to ensure that your passengers have the most pleasant possible experience. And that goes for cleaning up their mess too. Taxi driving isn’t all sunshine and roses, and sometimes grubby passengers will leave their mess for you to clean up. Keeping on top of this is a chore, but a necessary one for the comfort of your passengers and for the reputations of you and ABC.

Cash Bags and Receipt Pads

While ABC is a thoroughly modern company, with its fleet of electric cars and digital payment system, there are many who still carry cash on them, and they’ll want to use it in your taxi. Keeping bags of cash and change is a necessity for any driver, and keeping them well-organised is even better. This will allow you to deliver change to your passengers as quickly and efficiently as possible, saving dead time between journeys and increasing your efficiency.

Don’t Flash the Cash

Another undeniable factor in taxi driving is your susceptibility to crime. Taxi drivers operate at all hours of the day and night, and while most people are perfectly kind, courteous and pleasant, there’s a chance you’ll run into some unsavoury characters. Those looking to rob taxis are almost always looking for cash. They know there’s a good chance you have it on you. This is another reason why it’s so necessary to keep your cash well organised; it allows you to conceal it more effectively. It’s best not to discuss how much cash you may or may not have on you with any passenger, they might be sizing you up to see if they can attempt a robbery.

Study Emergency Procedures

In the event of any emergency during your shift, it’s vital to be aware of safety procedures. These procedures are there to help you deal with any emergency you might encounter, and following them is the best way to resolve any issue quickly and effectively. Being able to recall these procedures accurately and implement them competently is the mark of an excellent taxi driver. It’s not just about commitment to the daily rigors of the job, it’s knowing exactly what to do in an emergency, and keeping a cool head and a steady hand whilst doing so.

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Why Your Local Taxi Company Is Better Than Uber

Over the past few years in major cities all over the world, there has been a lot of noise about the influx of ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft taking business away from long-running local taxi firms. While Norwich is probably too small of a city to ever have to deal with this issue, it has been big news in places like London, Manchester and Birmingham, to name but a few. The appeal of the app-based rideshare companies is easy to see: open an app, press a button and a few minutes later a car turns up and gets you to where you want to go much cheaper than if you were to call a cab. That’s how it’s supposed to go on paper, anyway. Unsurprisingly, here at ABC, we feel that when it comes to the competition between traditional cabs and using an app, a traditional cab wins every time. Not convinced? Read on to hear our reasons why, and hopefully you’ll have a change of heart!

You get some actual human to human contact

While it seems that technology nowadays is specifically geared towards limiting human contact when carrying out everyday tasks, the fact that traditional taxi companies have someone, often an office, you can call with any issues is a huge plus. Imagine you lose a valuable item in an Uber and don’t realise until a couple of hours later, you have to rely on the driver answering a call from an unknown number in order to get it back if it hasn’t already been picked up by another customer and pocketed! Having a reliable point of contact for when something goes wrong provides much more peace of mind, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar city, so think twice before ordering that Uber!

You get to take advantage of cab drivers encyclopaedic knowledge

It’s a well-known fact that cab drivers in London have to memorise every road within a 6-mile radius of the centre of London and be able to recall from memory the fastest way to get from A to B, and that’s before they even get a license! Local cab drivers are more often than not from the area, so if you need to get somewhere fast, there’s nobody better to take you. 

You can be assured of your safety

Licensed cab drivers have a duty of care towards their passengers, and it is part of their job to make sure that they do everything in their power to ensure you get to your destination safely. Rideshare companies do not have the same obligations to license their drivers, or the same level of scrutinisation when it comes to hiring. So if you’re in a city that you’re unfamiliar with, the best step you can take to ensure your safety is to use a license cab provider based in the area. While 99% of drivers for app-based rideshare companies will work under the same duty of care to their passengers as a licensed cab driver, a small minority may not, and it’s better to be safe than sorry! 

You can budget more effectively using a taxi

Most taxi providers will be able to tell you exactly how much the fare will be in advance, unlike when you use an app. Furthermore, local taxi companies very rarely, if ever, hike their rates based on how much demand there is on their service like the apps do. This means that you’ll avoid opening your app and staring in horror at the fact that prices have been quadrupled because it’s Saturday at 11 pm and everyone’s wanting to go to town. 

More availability of larger vehicles

While the availability of standard cars on apps like Uber and Lyft will often mean you have a very small wait, often only 3-5 minutes, when it comes to trying to transport more people you’ll often be left high and dry. Local taxi companies exist in order to provide a great service to their clients, and as such, they will often have a fleet of larger vehicles for groups of up to 8 people to make sure everyone gets to the party on time and together! 

We hope we’ve convinced you to think twice next time you go to open that app and book your rideshare. Local taxi companies thrive on the patronage of their valued customers, so if you can get a local cab, do it and enjoy the fact that, in the process, you’re supporting a local business that employs local people. Win!

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Top Winter Driving Tips

It was February 2018, and Norfolk was gripped by a weather event that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the middle of Alaska. Buckets of snow fell overnight, and commuters woke up to what amounted to a horror show for drivers, with those brave enough to venture out finding their journey took them three times as long, with most choosing to stay home and not risk it. While we haven’t yet been afflicted with such conditions, this week saw the first morning frost of the winter, meaning it’s probably time to brush up on your winter driving know-how now in case you need it further down the line! Conditions in winter can throw up many dangers and hazards for drivers, so we’ve compiled our top winter driving tips below to ensure you have a safe journey no matter where you’re off to this winter.

Check your tyres

When driving in cold, wet, wintery conditions, its important that your tyres are in optimum condition to handle the potential hazards of the road, including ice and slippery snow. The AA recommends at least 3mm of tread for the winter, and it’s really important to ensure your tyres are properly inflated – don’t be tempted to let some air out to achieve better grip as this does not work and could be extremely dangerous in very icy conditions.

Keep a cold-weather kit in your car

If you’ve got a long journey ahead of you in cold, wintery conditions, it makes sense to pack some essentials in case the worst were to happen and you get stuck for a period of time. Blankets, extra clothing and medication are all great ideas to pack, as well as anti-freeze, an ice-scraper, some non-perishable food items and a torch. If you want to be as prepared as possible, potentially think about including some rope in case your car were to veer off the road and you need to tow it back on, and an external USB smartphone charger to ensure you stay connected if an accident were to happen. 

Keep it slow and keep a distance

While everyone who’s travelling wants to get to their destination as quickly as possible, as a rule when driving in wintery conditions you should just slow down. Even if it feels like you’re travelling at a crawl, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Not only does driving slowly reduce the risk of skids or ending up off the road, but it will also allow other road users longer to see and acknowledge you and thereby reduce the risk of crashes in conditions of poor visibility. Make sure, in conditions of heavy traffic, you keep at least 3-4 car lengths between you and the vehicle in front, so if they end up braking suddenly, you have some time to react and avoid an altercation.

Stock up on anti-freeze

If it’s been a while since your car has been serviced, you might want to have your anti-freeze levels checked. Without anti-freeze, in conditions of extreme cold, your engine might warp or crack after a cold night due to the sudden onset of heat. Engine repairs are pricey, so avoid the potential stress and have your mechanic give your vehicle the once over if you’re worried!

Keep your windscreen clean

In winter, with the roads covered in grit and wet weather making the ground muddy and moist, windscreens get dirtier much quicker. It is of paramount importance to stay vigilant about cleaning it. In conditions where visibility is poor, perhaps in heavy fog or snow, a dirty windscreen could impair your vision and make you miss potential hazards. It sounds like a small, silly thing to consider, but if you’re unable to properly focus on the road in front of you due to splodges of dirt and grit, you’re all the more likely to suffer an accident, and, after all, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Regularly wipe off number plates and lights

In the same way that gunk can build up on the windscreen, it can do so all the more on lights and number plates. Obscured brake lights can be lethal in icy conditions, causing collisions and accidents where drivers can’t see the driver in front braking. Drivers also have a legal responsibility to ensure their number plates and lights are in good working order, which includes that they’re visible, so make sure to check on a daily basis that they are fully unobscured!

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Cleaning And Organisation Hacks For Those Rainy Days

When the weather outside is totally abysmal and all your weekend plans have been cancelled, it’s so easy to plonk yourself in front of the TV for 48 hours, repeatedly flicking your eyes between the bigger screen and the smaller screen in your hand until BOOM it’s Monday again and you’re off to work. Well, we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way! When your days off are a washout, take the opportunity to do something that future you are going to benefit from and that ordinarily, you wouldn’t have time to do. We all know how fast time flies when you do nothing, so while you might grimace at the idea of cleaning, tidying and organisation during your precious hours of freedom, the feeling you’ll get a few days later when you’ve had a busy, stressful day at work but you know that, at the very least, that thing that’s been niggling at you for ages is done – it’s totally addictive! There’s a fair bit of evidence out there about how keeping a clean and organised home improves your mood, health and overall happiness, so check out our suggestions below on how to fill your waterlogged weekends with practical activities to make your future self proud!

Wipe your kitchen cupboards

For most families, the kitchen is the heart of the home, and if you’ve got kids, or you’re a particularly flamboyant and messy cook, stuff gets absolutely everywhere and all of it might not be picked up during your standard post-cooking quick clean up routine. Have a good look and, depending on the last time it was done, you’ll notice grease, fingerprints, splatters, all sorts of things you may have not noticed before! A quick wipe with a warm, soapy cloth will do wonders to refresh your kitchen. The difference it makes is truly shocking, and while on a daily basis it might not be something you have time to think about, when you’re looking for ways to fill a rainy day it’s the perfect way to give your kitchen a new lease of life!

Hoover your sofas

It’s almost unbelievable the amount of dust, particulates and rubbish sofas can gobble up during their lifetimes. Ordinarily, it might not be something you pay close attention to, but lift up those pillows and you’ll often find a veritable city of dirt, dust and bits that once you see you can’t ignore! Grabbing the hoover and giving the sofa and cushions a good going over will not only remove all of the nasty little bits that may have been getting everywhere before, if your sofa is made of fabric a good brushing with the hoover will make them look much more fresh, cosy and inviting next time you want to take a load off. 

Meal prep

Batch cooking meals in advance has become massively popular lately as people have cottoned on to how useful and economical having grab and go homemade ready meals can be. For working professionals who may have long commutes, meal prepping saves a lot of time in the evening that can instead be used to wind down. If you’re trying to lose weight, or gain muscle even, meal prepping is a great way to have a variety of nutritional, calorie counted meals that makes it easier to stay on track. If you can brave the storm to get to the supermarket, cooking large batches will save you a lot of money compared to cooking individual portions, and a few hours in the kitchen cooking a few dishes could give you meals for days, weeks or even months to come depending on how hardcore you go! A great way to fill the time and make your life much easier in the week to come.

Do extra laundry and plan your outfits

While it’s common for most individuals or families to be doing a few clothes washes a week, it can be hard to keep up with everything else. If you have a mountain of towels and bedding that’s been patiently waiting its turn to be washed, grab it all and do a bulk load of laundry. Do a circuit round the house and find everything that could do with a wash – shower curtains, bath mats, if it can be washed you might as well pop it in! When it’s all done and put back in place it will give your home a renewed sense of freshness which is sure to have visitors commenting on how lovely and inviting it is!

If you have a favourite go-to activity for rainy days that we haven’t included, drop us a line through our social media and let us know! With the weather looking to be dismal for the next few days, we may need all the tips we can get!

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Top Tips For A Better Nights Sleep

As a taxi company, we’re incredibly aware of the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. Our drivers are out on the road 24 hours a day, and while on the outside it may seem quite relaxing to sit behind the wheel all day, it actually takes a huge amount of concentration and mental energy to maintain the focus needed to ensure you as a driver and your passengers remain safe at all times. The recommended amount of sleep for the average adult is between 7 and 9 hours a night to ensure you’re in peak mental and physical condition, but sometimes life gets in the way, and getting the right amount of crucial shut-eye can fall by the wayside. There are loads of articles and blogs out there offering tips on how to sleep better, but we wanted to do something a little different, so we’ve spoken to a few of our drivers and asked them how they ensure they’re getting a consistently great nights to sleep so that they can be fresh and alert for a long shift of driving. If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, we really hope you find some of this advice helpful. We’re not medical professionals, so if you are suffering from serious insomnia, please consult your GP! For helpful tips to combat those occasional issues nodding off, read on!

Listen to soothing sounds or music to ease you into sleep

For some people, the idea of anything but total silence when going to sleep is total and utter hell. However, if you struggle to turn your mind off at night and this is affecting your ability to fall asleep easily, listening to something might be a good idea. It will give your mind something to do other than think about how you can’t get to sleep and before you know it you could be out like a light! This top tip comes from one of our longest serving drivers John who likes to play music quietly to help him nod off. During a run of night shifts, he finds listening to the same few songs helps his body know it’s time to sleep despite it being bright and sunny outside. But it doesn’t have to be just music – anything that you find interesting or relaxing could work, but try to avoid anything with varying volume levels or harsh noises such as applause as this might jolt you back awake!

Incorporate small amounts of activity into your day

It’s no secret that being a taxi driver is a sedentary job. You can’t get around the fact that you’ll be sitting down most of the day. In general, lack of physical activity throughout the day can be known to lead to struggles falling or staying asleep. This isn’t just true of people who drive for a living – anyone who spends most of the day sat down still might experience this issue at some point in their life. Fitness fanatic driver Jane swears by fitting small amounts of physical activity into her day. Something as simple as jogging on the spot for 5 minutes a few times a day, or doing 10 squats every time you use the bathroom, can all add up to a massive increase in physical activity compared to what you’d usually do. Getting more active throughout the day will aid restful sleep, and it can also help you feel more awake throughout the day, making it less tempting to rely on stimulants such as caffeine, which can further affect sleep quality.

Give meditation a go

Feelings of stress or anxiety can really affect how well you sleep, or whether you can sleep at all. This next tip might seem a little bit out there for the average person, but our driver Steve swears by it. Meditation isn’t just something that monks do to try and achieve nirvana. Meditation in its simplest form involves sitting or lying comfortably and clearing your mind. Some people count, some people focus on their breathing, the important thing is to try and clear your mind and relax your body. Sure, it takes some practise, but just 5 minutes of deep breathing and mind clearing can put you into an intensely relaxed state that will help you to sleep much better. There’s no right or wrong way to meditate, and you don’t even need to call it that, just taking a few minutes to release the day’s tension can do absolute wonders.

Read a book

Everyone knows that blue light from screens can really affect your ability to fall asleep. But for 99% of people, the idea of coming home from work and sitting staring at the wall for a few hours before bed isn’t appealing, so the blue light seems unavoidable! Driver Jan suggests reading a book instead. It’s a great way to escape the daily stresses of life and wander through a world of fantasy, and the best part is, a physical book has no stimulating blue light! Jan thinks a lot of people have fallen out of love with reading because reaching for a phone or a tablet is easier, but if you sometimes struggle to get to sleep, why not give it a go? You might rediscover a passion for reading, and maybe some time away from the screen would be good for you, who knows?

We hope you find some of the above tips, straight from our drivers wise brains, will help you out if you’re ever in a pickle when it comes to sleep. And if you have any great tips you’d love to share that we haven’t mentioned, please get in touch and let us know!

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Fun Ideas To Get Kids Ready For The New School Year

It’s likely they’re dreading it, you might not be able to wait. What are we talking about? The start of the new school year, of course! It’s a time of change for all kids, whether they’re just going up a year in their current school or starting a brand new one, it can be a challenging time, but also a very exciting one! As a parent, it’s likely you’ll want to do everything you can to best prepare your kids for going back to school. After a long summer filled with late nights, lay-ins, fun and frolics, the sudden return to responsibility and routine can be hard, so we’ve come up with some ideas to ease them into it, to ensure the transition is as pain and stress-free for everyone involved as possible! 

Get the kids involved in back to school shopping

When supermarkets are heaving with busy parents rushing to make sure they’ve got everything they need to send their kids off to school, it might be tempting to leave the kids at home in order to get it done as quickly as possible. But by bringing them along and getting them involved in uniform shopping, stationery shopping and food shopping for lunchboxes, it will allow the excitement about going back to school to start building early. Kids won’t be able to wait to wear their brand new uniform or use their new pens and pencil cases. Making an event out of what is normally considered a chore is also a great way to get everyone out of the house!

Create a reward system

School comes with a number of responsibilities, from making sure you’re there on time in the morning to completing homework on time and making sure things like PE kits and supplies for classes are organised and ready. A great way to encourage kids to take their responsibilities around school seriously is to create a reward system for when they have fulfilled these responsibilities. Set out their expectations – for example ‘be in bed by 9pm’ or ‘prepare lunchbox for tomorrow’ and mark on a chart when these tasks have been completed. If they make it through a whole week doing everything they need to do, they get a reward! Starting this early will help them prepare for being back in a routine which will reduce stress levels for everyone!

Create a homework zone

While they may not like it, homework is a reality for most kids, and as a parent, you need to be making it clear to them that it is a non-negotiable part of family life that that homework gets done. While you might think it mad that this idea is included as a ‘fun’ idea to prepare for school, anything can be made fun with the right attitude! If you’ve taken the time to create a homework zone in your house and get the kids involved in personalising it to how they want it, it will help register in their heads that a) homework is important and b) they have a designated area to do it in, and once it’s done they can enjoy doing whatever they want to do. It’s a brilliant habit to foster in kids at a young age – responsibility first, then you can have way more fun after!

Create goals for the year

Get your family excited about the fresh start that the new school year brings by setting goals. Ask your kids three things that they’d love to achieve by the end of the academic year. It might be reading a difficult book, or passing a certain exam with flying colours – it can be anything! Parents should get involved too, helping everyone to view the new school year not as a chore but as an opportunity to achieve something that might not have been possible in the previous school year. 

Celebrate the end of summer

As a parent, it’s super important to constantly try to project positivity. If your kids are sad about the end of summer and the start of the school year, make a point to celebrate the fantastic summer you’ve had. Get everyone together and remember the good times you had and make plans for what you want to do next summer. 

We hope some of the ideas above will be enjoyed by you and your family! They say school represents the best years of your life, so keeping positive and getting your kids excited about learning, seeing all their friends again and growing up, in general, is a fantastic way to start the new school year off properly! Good luck to all the students starting back in the next few days!

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