Larkfleet Homes on Blogger

15 Mar 2018

Larkfleet Easter treats

Larkfleet Homes Easter hot cross buns
We’re almost half way through March. The snow has gone, but more is predicted. Astronomical Spring is just a fortnight away – and so is Easter.

Along with Easter comes a wealth of food for us to enjoy, especially if you have been denying yourself something for Lent.

One Easter treat is the hot crossed bun, traditionally served on Good Friday. This sweet and spicy treat is great toasted and served with butter. You can get them at any supermarket – and chances are they have been available since New Year.

But it’s much more fun to bake your own. There are loads of recipes out there. The BBC website has this recipe, or you could try this one. Have your own Bake Off at home - see who can produce the best Easter treats.

Paul Hollywood is still popular right now. Why not give his recipe for hot cross buns a try? You can find it here.

Another traditional food served at Easter is the Simnel Cake. It is a fruit cake with a marzipan topping decorated with marzipan balls representing Jesus and the apostles.

Traditionally served on the middle Sunday of Lent when the 40-day fasting rule was relaxed, Simnel cake is served toasted at Easter. The cake was also given by serving girls to their mums when they visited home on Mothering Sunday.

Again, there is a vast number of recipes for Simnel cake but have a look at these two, one from Delia Smith and the other from TV’s Paul Hollywood again. Pick your favourite, on your marks, get set - Bake!

As well as buns and cakes there are also plenty of chocolate treats to enjoy at this time of year. It is also becoming popular to serve a special Sunday lunch at Easter. Usually, this might be ham or lamb. IF you need some ideas, visit the BBC website for inspiration.

Happy Easter from the Larkfleet Homes team.

12 Mar 2018

Larkfleet nominated for community work

Larkfleet Homes Better Society Awards shortlist
Fabulous news. The team at Larkfleet Homes has been shortlisted to win a Better Society Award for philanthropy. We’re very excited and really pleased that the work we do in the communities where we have developments has received national recognition.

We have been nominated because of The Larkfleet Homes Community Fund, which was set up to help communities in the areas where we are building. The fund supports charitable projects that enhance or develop a local community. It is part of our commitment to supporting the existing communities within which we and Allison Homes are developing new homes. It also underlines our aim of helping the integration of our new developments within those communities.

Any charitable cause or community project that operates within ten miles (16 kilometres) of any Larkfleet Homes or Allison Homes development can apply for grants of between £250 and £5,000 awarded quarterly.

The fund has welcomed applications from groups that promote the environment, support residents or bring communities together. In the most recent funding round grants were awarded to each of seven projects that have made a positive impact within their communities.
  • Thorney Parish Council, for a zip-wire, trampolines, outdoor gym and swings for the older children of Thorney.
  • Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust received a grant of £1,450 to provide wood-working equipment for retiree volunteers to produce signage for interpretation and education.
  • Donnington Parish Council received a grant of £475 towards a garden shed, tools, a bird table, compost, plants and decking to form herb and wild flower beds.
  • Families First Peterborough CIC received a grant of £1,000 to fund an arts and crafts workshop for young people /adults who are Care Leavers.
  • Sawtry and District Bowling Club received a grant of £1,045 to provide two ramps to improve access to the bowling green and club house.
  • Moulton Chapel Youth & Community Centre, to build a playground including inclusive play equipment for children of all abilities.
  • Somerset Sight Limited received a grant of £5,000 to reduce isolation and loneliness by providing six additional outings for 12 sight impaired adults per outing.
The fund is open for applications here.

In the meantime, we’ve got our fingers crossed for the awards ceremony on 24 May when we will find out if we have won!

08 Mar 2018

Larkfleet helps Oakham RFC U16s look the business on tour

Oakham RFC U16 rugby tour Larkfleet Homes shirt sponsor
We are really pleased to be helping youngsters at Oakham Rugby Football Club do the business on their latest tour by sponsoring the shirts worn by players and coaches of the club’s Under 16 team.

Each tour organised by the club has a dedicated players’ shirt which is in the club colours but is always different to the standard club design. The new shirts, featuring the club badge and Larkfleet Homes logo on the front, with the player's nickname and number on the back, are for the U16s Dearne Valley tour.

The tour will include a stay at an outdoor adventure centre at Kingswood, Dearne Valley, Doncaster. There will be a series of outdoor activities such as high ropes and abseiling. On Sunday the team will travel to Dinnington RFC for a game, then come home on Sunday evening.

Coach James Ritchie told us that this season is Oakham U16's last in junior rugby before moving into the Colts. It is also the players’ GCSE year, so they have just finished their mock GCSE's and therefore we are taking them on tour in April.

James said: “Next year the players go onto different FE colleges and we will probably lose some of this team as a result, so it’s probably the last time the whole side will be together. 

"Having Larkfleet sponsor the shirts has been a very generous gift as the shirts are an additional cost to each player on top of the cost of the tour, which includes transport, accommodation and food. So, we are very thankful to Larkfleet for their sponsorship of our tour shirts.”

We are very pleased to sponsor the Oakham U16’s tour shirts. It’s an important time for this age group and the new shirts will be a great memento of their time with Oakham RFC U16s and their tour – something they will be able to keep for the future.

Let's hope they have a good tour and come back with a win!

07 Mar 2018

Best ever business awards at Kings Lynn

Sam Hart Larkfleet Homes VIda Healthcare Kings Lynn Business Awards
Our sister company Larkfleet Homes Norfolk and Suffolk was delighted to help last Friday’s Kings Lynn Mayor’s Business Awards go with a bang.

The winners and finalists were the stars of the night, but we were delighted to help the organisers – the borough council and Lynn News – by sponsoring an award.

Our own director of sales Sam Hart was there to hand over the Customer Care Award to healthcare provider Vida Healthcare. The firm provides care to 37,000 patients in West Norfolk.

Sam said that Vida Healthcare won the award because it ‘goes the extra mile’. She told the Lynn News “Their ability to deliver a personal service to their customers and their staff is truly impressive. This is an organisation to be proud of.”

On receiving the award from Sam, Sarah Hill of Vida Healthcare said: “It is not an easy job. This shows what we are doing matters. We would like to thank everybody who has supported us throughout this as well as out patients. This is a patient nominated award.”

You can find a full run down of all the award winners here.

Larkfleet Homes would like to congratulate all the nominees and winners.

Photo: Sam Hart (right) handing over the trophy to Vida Healthcare.

02 Mar 2018

Happy birthday Larkfleet

Birthday balloons - Larkfleet is 20 years oldToday (2 March 2018) is the 20th ‘birthday’ of what is now The Larkfleet Group of Companies, our parent company.

Larkfleet Limited, the first company in the group, was registered at Companies House on 2 March 1998 by current chief executive Karl Hick. That company was the basis of what is now known as Larkfleet Homes that is still the 'flagship' business in the group.

Today The Larkfleet Group of Companies is an award-winning business which is
building homes under both the Allison Homes and Larkfleet Homes brands, employing more than 100 people and turning over more than £80 million per year.

Its customers and clients include not just homebuyers but also local authorities, housing associations and solar farm developers.

The group has a particular focus on sustainable development.

Karl Hick said: “We aim to achieve environmental best practice and sustainability in the projects we deliver for customers and also in our own business operations.

“Our investment in research and development will benefit future generations. Our current R&D projects could revolutionise the construction industry with innovative techniques for low-cost building and technologies which will permit house building in areas prone to flooding.

“Wherever possible we place contracts with local suppliers and employ local people. We support local communities through our Larkfleet Homes Community Fund, by working with local schools and charities and by sponsoring business awards which celebrate the achievements of local companies.”

Larkfleet is a major supporter of training initiatives and is a sponsor of the Greater Peterborough University Technical College.

Our ‘corporate mission' is “to produce high quality sustainable developments using innovative technology and construction methods, delivered to exceed our customers' expectations”.

The group will shortly be announcing a series of events and activities to mark our 20 years in business.

28 Feb 2018

A day at the races for Larkfleet

Larkfleet Homes Cottesmore point-to-point Garthorpe races
Our own Hannah Guy had a fantastic time at the Cottesmore point-to-point at the weekend and was very well looked after.

Hannah was there because Larkfleet Homes sponsored one of the races, which was won by Top Garry (starting price 8/1), ridden by Paige Fuller. She won by 10 lengths.

Point-to-point racing is a traditional rural event attracting people from the immediate locality and enthusiasts from further afield. ‘Maiden’ races are for horses that have not previously won at an event.

The Cottesmore race day is run entirely by volunteers and is financed by race entry fees, admissions to the race course and by sponsorship – so Larkfleet’s contribution helped to keep this thriving tradition alive.

The Cottesmore is the season opener at Garthorpe point-to-point. We sponsored the final race of the day – the open maiden race. There were lots of unraced horses in this 32-horse line up, ranging considerably in age, so to win by such a margin was a great achievement for horse and jockey.

Pictured receiving the trophy from Hannah (left) is Pauline Harkin, the trainer, and with her are the other members of the Garland, Harkin and Milner Partnership.

The Larkfleet team would just like to say thanks to Garthorpe for having us and well done to all who took part in the racing, which provided everyone with an exciting day’s entertainment.

27 Feb 2018

Doddington Grange, the perfect family home in rural surroundings

Doddington Grange Doddington Cambridgeshire
If you’re looking for a new family home in the heart of Cambridgeshire, close to the cities of Peterborough and Cambridge but with Fenland rural charm, look no further than our development in the village of Doddington near March.

One of the largest parishes in England, Doddington boasts a range of amenities for the whole family. There is a post office, a few shops, a fish and chip/fast food outlet, ladies and gents’ hairdressers, a doctor’s surgery and an NHS minor injuries unit.

The village has a thriving public house, The Three Tuns, a recently refurbished pub that was established in the village in the 1840's and is steeped in history and character. The pub has a separate games room, beer garden and dining room. It offers a selection of beers, real ales and lagers. Food is served daily. It offers a welcoming family atmosphere along with the great food!

Doddington has a village hall as well as two sports fields, one with a pavilion containing changing rooms, catering facilities and a multipurpose room. Doddington has Guides, Scouts, Women’s Institute, the women’s section of the Royal British Legion, Short Mat Bowls Club, Outdoor Bowls Club, Cricket Club, Football teams, and an Under 5’s group – so there’s plenty on offer for to keep the whole family entertained – young and old.

For commuters, the nearby towns and cities of Ely, Peterborough, King's Lynn, Cambridge and Huntingdon are all within easy reach by major roads. Nearby March has its own rail station which connects with all the main routes.

Doddington is a true Fen island. Before the Fens were drained you would have needed a boat to visit friends in nearby villages. There is now a network of footpaths around the village that will allow you to explore the ancient Fenland landscape and its wildlife more closely. There’s also the RSPB nature reserve at Ouse Washes and the Welney Wildlife Centre nearby.

The Lionel Walden Primary School is a 'good' school according to its most recent Ofsted report. There are plenty of high quality secondary and further educational options in Chatteris, March, Ramsey, Whittlesey and further afield in Cambridge and Peterborough.

At Larkfleet Homes we have just launched phase two of a development of four and five-bedroom family homes called Doddington Grange on the edge of village. It is a quality new development perfectly suited to you if you are looking for a new home in a rural setting within easy reach of modern urban amenities.

Our show home is open from 10:00 to 17:00 seven days a week. Give us a call on 01354 694900 for more details.

25 Feb 2018

Vote for Larkfleet!

First Time Buyer Readers Awards logo
Larkfleet Homes has been shortlisted for two First Time Buyer Magazine Readers’ Awards.
We are in the running to pick up the ‘best website’ and the ‘best family home’ awards. But we will only win if enough people vote for us!

Take a look at and – if you think we are worthy winners – give us your vote. And maybe you could encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Judges shortlisted our entry for ‘best family home’ based on the Windsor House at Hempsted Park in Peterborough.

The three-bedroom Windsor is ideal for a growing family. It is a semi-detached property type with a garage and a good-sized garden to the rear for play and outdoor entertaining.

The ground floor comprises separate dining and living room areas and kitchen. The available floor space has been designed to provide optimum convenience for all the family. The master bedroom has an en-suite bathroom while the dining room and lounge are separate spaces. Family members have space to socialise or find privacy when they need it.

Solar panels are fitted as standard, allowing residents to generate their own electricity.

First Time Buyer Awards vote

The Larkfleet Homes website ( was shortlisted because of the advice and information it offers to first-time buyers (and other people, too!).

The site includes mortgage and stamp duty calculators. Buyers can work out quickly what they can afford. Detailed information of finance options and how to find them is presented clearly and concisely.

Advice pages and information about schemes such as Help to Buy are tailored for first-time buyers.

Navigation is easy. Buttons and links are clear and easy to see. Information is presented in plain English to make all the options and services on offer clear. Jargon-busting pages offer clear definitions of finance and property terms. First-time buyers can make informed decisions about their choices.

Our developments feature many properties suitable for first-time buyers. Details of these properties and the help available to assist in their purchase is clearly signposted on the website for what we hope is a perfect user experience.

We would really like to win these awards because it is customers and potential customers – people like you – who select the winners! But we need your vote to win!

24 Feb 2018

Lighten the mood with a good spring clean

National spring cleaning week
Although we’re still in the grip of winter, and there is another icy blast just around the corner, Spring isn’t too far away. It’s always good to be optimistic after all.

Maybe it is time to start thinking about Spring cleaning.

In just over a week’s time – 5-11 March to be exact – it’s National Spring Cleaning Week.

Get into the spirit by lightening up your home and yourself. Brighten up your home ready for the warmer days ahead.

Here are some things you can do for effective Spring cleaning.
  • Declutter – go through your stuff, decide what you really need and what you can live without and get rid.
  • Dust – break out the duster and the Mr Sheen and give your whole house a good dusting.
  • Deep clean carpets and upholstery – if you have a deep cleaner use that. If not, consider getting a professional cleaner to really cleanse your home.
  • Get rid of pet hairs.
  • Give the oven a clean with bicarbonate of soda.
  • Clean the fridge.
  • Use the dishwasher to clean the kids’ plastic toys.
  • Steam clean the microwave.
  • Go through your wardrobe – if you haven’t worn something for some time the chances are you won’t for a while. Pare your wardrobe down to the essentials and discard the rest.
  • Wipe over bathroom surfaces with white vinegar for a deep clean – soak tiles and shower heads in white vinegar overnight before rinsing to remove lime scale and other stubborn stains.
  • Make your home smell lovely with fresh fragrances and keep the place well-aired with cool wafts of air through open windows.
  • Outside the home, keep the garden leaf free, and why not go to town on the car as well – keep it as clean as your house and feel great every time you go for a drive.
  • Don’t forget to give the windows a clean and clear away any cobwebs that may be hiding in the corners of the window frames.
When you have decluttered why not make a bit of extra cash by putting anything saleable on eBay or consider going to a local car boot sale? Or if you’re feeling charitable take your old belongings to the local Age Concern.

You will feel better after a good Spring clean - trust us.

24 Feb 2018

Larkfleet helps young adults buy their own homes

First time buyers young adults Larkfleet Homes
According to recent research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), today’s young adults are much less likely to own their own home than those in their place two decades ago.

At Larkfleet we have always been keen to help the younger generation get on the housing ladder. Take Liam and Zoe  and Chelsea and Martin.

We have been pleased to help both couples take the next steps in their home ownership journeys.

The IFS has found that the biggest decline in homeownership has been among young adults like our couples, with middle incomes. In 1995–96, 65 per cent of 25 to 34-year olds with incomes in the middle 20 per cent for their age owned their own home. By 2015–16 that figure had plummeted to just 27 per cent of that group owned their own home.

This group of young adults have after-tax incomes (including the income of a partner) of between £22,200 and £30,600 per year. A third of them are university graduates, and three-quarters of them live with a partner.

So why have home ownership rates changed so much for young adults over the past twenty years? The IFS found that this sharp decline in home ownership among young adults has been driven by the rapid rise in house prices relative to their incomes.

Over the past twenty years, average house prices have grown around seven times faster than the average incomes of young adults. The average UK house price was two and a half times higher in 2015–16 than in 1995–96 after adjusting for inflation, but the mean net family income of 25 to 34-year olds grew by only 22 per cent in real terms over those twenty years.

The IFS research also found that for nearly 90 per cent of 25 to 34-year olds, average house prices in their region are more than four times their annual after-tax family income; for nearly 40 per cent, house prices are more than 10 times their income. Twenty years ago, fewer than half of young adults faced house prices of more than four times their income, and less than 10 per cent faced house prices of more than 10 times their income.

Comparing a young adult today with a young adult twenty years ago whose income was similar relative to house prices, they are equally likely to own their home. The fall in homeownership is entirely explained by the fact that young adults’ incomes are now much lower relative to house prices on average.

The report’s author, Andrew Hood, a senior research economist at the IFS, said: “Home ownership among young adults has collapsed over the past twenty years, particularly for those on middle incomes – for that group, their chances of owning their own home have fallen from 2 in 3 in the mid-1990s to just 1 in 4 today. The reason for this is that house prices have risen around seven times faster in real terms than the incomes of young adults over the last two decades.”

Here at Larkfleet Homes and our sister company Allison Homes we hope to continue to be able to support first-time buyers obtain the home of their dreams.

20 Feb 2018

Fancy netting up to £1,000 for just a few minutes of your time?

Larkfleet Homes survey First Time Buyer magazine survey
We have launched a survey to get the thoughts and experiences of house buyers. Complete our survey and we will enter you into our prize draw for a chance to win £500.

If you agree to take part in a brief follow-up chat on the phone you will be entered in a second draw to win a further £500.

Go to to take part in the survey.

The Larkfleet Homes team is always working to develop new ways to provide the best possible products and services to our customers. We want to know what house buyers really think of the housing market and what they want from housebuilders like us.

To help us, we have teamed up with First Time Buyer Magazine, What House and What Mortgage to develop and deliver a comprehensive survey to find out what you, our customer, is really looking for in a new home.

The survey covers everything from the type of property people are looking to buy or have bought (whether it’s for their own use or an investment) through to topics such as location, size and energy efficiency.

It takes less than ten minutes to complete at The survey is being managed by independent marketing company OlsenMetrix Marketing and all the data collected will be anonymous.

15 Feb 2018

Last minute things to do with the kids this half term

half term things to do Peterborough
Half term is drawing to a close for many people but there are still a few days left to enjoy with the kids. Here are a few last-minute ideas for things to do close to many of Larkfleet Homes' developments.

Nene Valley Railway – Thomas the Tank Engine is on the tracks over the weekend of 17 and 18 February.

Break your journey with a stop off at Ferry Meadows Country Park.  Tickets cost £16 per adult, £13 for seniors and £8 per child. For more information visit

Peterborough Museum – Secret Agents. During World War I, both sides tried to find out secret information about the enemy. From code-cracking to spies in enemy territory there were lots of 'tricks of the trade'. This half term, Peterborough Museum asks - do you have what it takes to be a secret agent? Find hidden clues, decode messages, and identify friend from foe before it's too late. Last date for the tour is Friday 16 February, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (last entry 4:00 pm). Cost is £3 children, £4 adults, £12 families. Under 5s go free.

Flag FenArchaeology Adventurers Club For kids aged 8 – 12, it’s a fantastic opportunity to get involved in fun activities, make new friends and try something new. Your budding archaeologist will be able to get hands-on in the Big Dig Tent, handle artefacts, explore the Bronze Age landscape and wildlife, try new crafts and lots more! Email for more details. Friday 16 February from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, cost £22 per child per day.

Sacrewell Farm – Learn how to be a blacksmith with classes where children as young as 7 can learn to forge a coat hook. The course runs on Saturday and Sunday 17 and 18 February. Visit the farm website for more details and how to book, or to find out what else in on offer.

14 Feb 2018

Chinese New Year – time to celebrate the Year of the Dog

Chinese New Year Larkfleet Homes Year of the Dog
We don't know about you but it seems that we’re becoming more multicultural when it comes to looking for an excuse for a good party.

Take Chinese New Year, which begins officially on Friday (16 February). According to the Chinese zodiac, this year is the Year of the Dog. The Spring Festival to usher in the new year lasts until 2 March.

Some cities with significant Chinese communities will be hosting special celebrations. In London this year a variety of cultural events will be held on Sunday 18 February. It’s the largest Chinese New Year celebration held outside Asia, so it’s definitely worth a visit.

If you prefer to stay at home, why not host your own Chinese New Year themed party? Here are some ideas of things that you can do to make your celebrations go with a bang.

  • Clean the house before the party – cleaning symbolises sweeping away accumulated bad luck.
  • Prepare boxes of candied fruit or chocolate coins to give to your guests.
  • Get lots of your favourite Chinese food in to share with guests and family. Cantonese chicken and fish is particularly good.
  • Dress up – the key colour is red. Wear a red jumper, scarf or shoes. This will bring you good luck in the coming year.
  • Buy something red for the house – paper cut window grilles, lanterns and dog toys are ideal decorations for the home and garden.
  • Serve oranges and tangerines – they represent wealth, good luck and happiness.
  • Give a gift of a small amount of money to parting guests – older generations often give gifts of money in red envelopes to the younger generation in Asian cultures.
  • Get some Chinese fire crackers to let off – but remember to follow the 'firework code', be considerate of neighbours and be safe.

12 Feb 2018

Larkfleet helps launch Corby anti-litter campaign

Corby Clean and Proud
We are always glad to put something back into the communities where we have developments. With that in mind Larkfleet Homes is backing the Corby Clean and Proud campaign.

The initiative is being led by the Great Oakley Group and the de Capell Brooke family.

Our joint managing director Helen Hick was on hand to help launch the campaign.

Larkfleet has worked closely with the Great Oakley Group and Alexander de Capell Brooke on the delivery of Oakley Rise, part of the larger Oakley Vale development in Corby.

There’s little point in creating places like Oakley Rise, with a great sense of community in a very appealing area, unless you keep the place tidy – which is why we were happy to join the Corby Clean and Proud campaign.

Other founding partners include Mid-West Landscaping, Brooke Weston Trust and The David Laing Foundation.

The Corby Clean and Proud campaign is urging Corby businesses to pledge to keep the town’s streets clean and tidy.

Businesses are encouraged to take the CLEAN pledge in the lead up The Great British Spring Clean week at the end of February. CLEAN calls for local businesses to;
  • Commit to reducing the litter local to the Corby community
  • Learn more about the impact of litter in our communities
  • Engage with fellow businesses for a collective effort to keep the area clean
  • Act as an ambassador in promoting waste reduction
  • Notify the council if you spot any excessive littering

Corby Borough Council will be holding events to mark the week and businesses can take part in these or set up their own as part of their pledge.

Each business to sign up will receive a campaign certificate and window sticker and be featured on the campaign website.

You can find out more about Corby Clean and Proud and sign up your business at and visit

Our photo shows the campaign launch with Helen Hick.

10 Feb 2018

Make your home a romantic haven for Valentine’s Day

Larkfleet Homes ideas for Valentine's Day
We love Valentine’s Day. It’s a perfect excuse to enjoy some quality time with your ‘better half’.

Valentine's day this year is on Wednesday - 14 February, of course. There's still time to plan if you've not got it all sorted already.

We have trawled the internet for tips on making your day a success.

While the origins of Valentine’s Day are shrouded in the mysteries of Roman and early Christian history, the traditions we follow today began in the 18th century and were refined by the Victorians.

Cards became popular in the early 19th century but when Sir Rowland Hill introduced the Penny Post in 1840, sales of Valentine’s cards rocketed. And later chocolate maker Cadbury’s introduced fancy gift boxes for chocolate.

Now, Valentine’s Day is more popular than ever. In 2016 in the UK we spent over £960 million on gifts, food and drink, cards and wrapping.

Although commercialised, the day can still provide a nice romantic interlude to the workaday grind.

Here a few ideas to help turn your home into a romantic haven.
  • Create an atmosphere – use scented candles and diffusers.
  • Lighting – heart shaped LED string lights
  • Cushions and throws - we’ve talked about Hygge before – but creating a cosy environment to settle down with a favourite rom-com will make your evening.
  • Rugs with a floral theme – try roses
  • Table decorations and tea lights
  • There are loads of ideas on Pinterest 
  • If you’re planning an intimate evening at home with your significant other, no doubt a nice meal will come into the equation. Here are some great ideas for Valentine’s Day table decorations 
  • If you need some inspiration for your menu have a look at Sainsbury’s
 If you don’t fancy staying at home why not go on a romantic day out. How about a walk on a windswept beach followed by lunch in a cosy pub or restaurant? Or visit a favourite historic location – English Heritage has a list of days out on its website.

The opportunities are endless.

Whatever you decide to do, we hope you have fun.

09 Feb 2018

Things to do in the garden in February

gardening jobs February
Now that we are well and truly into February and Spring is just around the corner, it’s time to tackle some of those jobs in the garden that you have been putting off all Winter.

Some solid preparation now will mean you can make the most of the growing season to come.

Here a few tips for what you should be taking on now:
  • Prune Group 3 Clematis
  • Cut out old, dying or congested stems from Bamboo
  • Plant bare-root roses
  • Trim lawn edges
  • Cut back deciduous grasses
  • Prepare vegetable seedbeds and sow some veg under cover
  • Chit potatoes ready for planting
  • Improve drainage on heavy soils by working in lots of organic matter
  • Tidy up weedy beds
  • Stock on things like ties and stakes for the coming season
For more gardening tips and details of what to grow visit the Royal Horticultural Society website.

08 Feb 2018

Pancake Day – a recipe for some Winter fun

Larkfleet Homes pancake day fun
We love pancakes here at Larkfleet Homes. That's why we're looking forward to Pancake Day next week.

Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day, is on 13 February this year. Traditionally, it is the last day of feasting before the fasting of Lent (what will you be giving up?) begins on Ash Wednesday.

It’s time to finish off all the rich foods in the house and put on some weight before Lent. That’s why the French call it Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday.

The name Shrove Tuesday stems from old English traditions where Christians would go to Confession to be absolved of their sins – or ‘shriven’. A bell – the Shriving Bell – would be rung – to call the people to Confession.

There are a lot of traditions surrounding the day. As well as making and eating delicious pancakes, communities up and down the UK will be holding Pancake Day races. It’s an opportunity for large numbers of people, often in fancy dress, to race down streets tossing pancakes. The object of the race is to get to the finishing line first, carrying a frying pan with a cooked pancake in it and flipping the pancake as you run.

The most famous and probably first pancake race takes place at Olney in Buckinghamshire where, according to tradition, in 1445 a woman of Olney heard the shriving bell while she was making pancakes and ran to the church in her apron, still clutching her frying pan.

Another, and much rougher tradition, is the playing of Shrovetide or mob football played up and down the highways, fields and footpaths between pubs or villages. The tradition began in the 12th century and is still played today in Cornwall, County Durham, Derbyshire, Northumberland and Warwickshire.

We eat pancakes because the basic ingredients of pancakes have religious significance. Eggs symbolise creation, flour is the staff of life, milk symbolises purity, while salt signifies wholesomeness.

How to make the perfect pancake:
BBC Food has a quick and easy recipe for pancakes.

Usually, pancakes are served with lemon and sugar. The fun starts when you add your favourite fillings.

According to a BBC Top 10 our favourite pancake filling is banana, chocolate and peanut butter. Another favourite is blueberries with maple syrup. There are all sorts of other things you can use to top you pancakes, from sweet to savoury.

Whatever you choose, have fun and enjoy your pancakes!

04 Feb 2018

Larkfleet South West development scoops planning award

Larkfleet Homes South West Churchinford Hills
As an award-winning developer we’re always keen to add to the trophy cabinet. We had some great news last week. Our sister company Larkfleet Homes South West won Best New Housing Development in the Somerset Building Excellence Awards for its Churchinford Hills development.

Not only that. Its development at Creech St Michael was highly commended in the same category.

The Building Excellence Awards are run by the Somerset Building Control Partnership of which Sedgemoor District Council, the area in which Churchinford Hills is located, is a member.

Churchinford Hills will now go forward to the regional Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Awards to be held in Plymouth in April. It will come up against an array of other projects from across the whole of the South West of England.

The development won the award because the team at Larkfleet Homes South West was able to demonstrate building excellence by using traditional methods of construction, such as loose lay flint stone, hand laid thatch, natural slate and a variety of renders, combined with modern elements to ensure building regulation compliance.

The development is set deep within the Blackdown Hills, a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. Areas of outstanding natural beauty enjoy significant conservation protection and planning is strictly controlled, so it was vital that the development was sympathetic to the village and the surrounding countryside.

Head of construction at Larkfleet Homes South West, Shaune Hicks, said: “We have given great consideration to modern living within this rural location by introducing large open interior space, modern bathrooms and kitchens with LPG heating, but with exteriors that retain village charm.”

Churchinford Hills is an exclusive 20-property development of 2,3 and 4-bedroom detached and semi-detached homes, incorporating affordable housing, situated in a unique rural position. The development is enclosed and screened by existing hedgerows and trees on both the northern and western boundaries. The site also has magnificent views across the Blackdown Hills, a rare location that the architects and developers were keen to make the most of.

We’ll keep you posted with news of how we get on at the regional awards in Plymouth in April.

04 Feb 2018

Do you know how you’re going to repay your mortgage?

Larkfleet Homes interest-only mortgage
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is concerned that many of us who have interest-only mortgages may not be able to meet shortfalls in our mortgage repayment plans. In other words, we do not have the cash to pay off the original loan when the interest-only deal ends. We could face being left homeless as a result.

According to the FCA one in five of us has an interest-only mortgage.

It recently carried out a review into the fair treatment of existing interest-only mortgage customers. The review found that, although mortgage lenders are writing to customers prior to their mortgage maturing, borrowers are not contacting lenders to discuss repayment options.

If you have an interest-only mortgage that is maturing and you haven’t been in touch with your lender about repayments, now is the time. Maturity of this type of mortgage is peaking now among customers who are approaching retirement.

Jonathan Davidson, executive director of supervision at the FCA, said: “We are very concerned that a significant number of interest-only customers may not be able to repay the capital at the end of the mortgage and be at risk of losing their homes.

“We know that many customers remain reluctant to contact their lender to discuss their interest-only mortgage for a variety of reasons. We are very clear that people should talk to their lender as early as possible as this will give them more options when it comes to the next steps they can take.”

There are currently 1.67 million full interest-only and part capital repayment mortgage accounts outstanding in the UK. They represent nearly a quarter of all outstanding mortgage accounts. Over the next few years increasing numbers will require repayment.

The FCA has produced a handy leaflet which outlines your options. You can access it here.

02 Feb 2018

Groundhog Day - again

Today - Friday 2 February - is Groundhog Day in the US and Canada. The observance centres around a groundhog called Punxsutawney Phil, from Gobbler’s Knob in the town of Punxsutawney Pennsylvania in the US.

Other towns across North America hold their own celebrations and observances of the day.

Groundhog Day became well-known in the UK thanks to the film of the same name starring Bill Murray. The film was a hit and the term became synonymous with repetition or déjà vu.

Tradition has it that if the groundhog sees its shadow on February 2 it will be frightened by it and will then return to its burrow, indicating that there will be 6 more weeks of winter. If it does not see its shadow, then spring is on the way.

This weather lore dates to pre-industrial Europe. February 2 is Candlemas in the Christian calendar. A spell of clear weather at this time of year was believed to indicate a prolonged winter. The groundhog will see its shadow in clear weather, but not if it’s cloudy. In Europe, especially Germany, the animal whose behaviour was used to determine the length of winter was the badger. Settlers coming to North America from Europe brought the tradition with them but used the groundhog in the absence of the badger.

There plenty of rhymes in the UK that were used to predict weather:

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won’t come again.

Used to predict rain, the rhyme "red sky at night, shepherd’s delight/red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning" is probably the best known. "When spiders weave webs by noon/fine weather is going to follow soon" is another.

Hundreds of years of folklore have given us many different sayings and ways of predicting the weather, from the prevailing weather on saints’ days (Saint Swithun’s Day is an example) to animal behaviour.

Phil’s antics may indicate spring weather is on the way but the Spring Equinox – the first day of Spring -- will always be six weeks off -- whether he sees his shadow or not.

Let us know what your favourite ways of predicting weather are. And if it’s fine why not get out and about and visit one of our show homes?