Monday, January 23, 2012

Moving to Oxford

I know the term ‘fresher’ is usually reserved for college students, but I use it broadly here 
for anyone new to Oxford, me included! 

If you are new in town, thinking of moving to Oxford or planning a move as we speak, The Oxford Fresher is here to help. Everything written within these pages has been designed especially for you! There are lots of useful tips and tit-bits to help you on your way, but I think you'll find the following downloadable Fresher guides particularly useful. Titles include; Everything you need to know before you arrive, Where's the best place to live in Oxford?, Renting in Oxford, and the  Arrival Survival Guide - perfect for those relocating to Oxford.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hard water issues

The water in the UK is considered to be ‘hard.’ This means that it is high in dissolved minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. It is not a health risk, but can be a nuisance because it causes mineral buildup (lime scale) on fixtures and poor soap and/or detergent performance. Be sure to read the instructions for your dishwasher if you are lucky enough to have one - special salts must be added to the machine from time to time to prevent limescale build up on its parts. You’ll see limescale on your glasses if you don’t.   

Cloudy drinking water  
Because of a high concentration of natural minerals, you may notice that your tap water is rather cloudy. This is caused by the presence of suspended chalk. There is absolutely no health risk associated with these deposits, but its appearance can be unappealing. To combat cloudy water, try one of the many domestic water filters and jug filters on the market. These are designed 
to remove various compounds from tap water, improving both its taste and appearance.  

Removing limescale 
The simplest and most common way to remove limescale is with malt vinegar or lemon juice.  These methods are fine for cleaning out your kettle or polishing your taps and silverware but a heavy duty option may be required for larger appliances and stubborn build up. My friend, Lauren has kindly recommended 'Viakal,' (available online at Ocado) and 'Harpic 100% Limescale Remover' for toilets. The advertised '100%' is a bit misleading, but it's the best we can find for now. (Please email me if you've found something better.)

Dry itchy skin? 
If your skin has become excessively dry and/or itchy since arriving in the UK, don’t worry you’re not alone.  This is a result of your body not being used to hard water. It will eventually settle down, but in the mean time, buy yourself a tub of E45 and thank me later. (E45 is a dermatological moisturizer available at most pharmacies from as little as a £1).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cath Kidston Bike Seat Covers

You heard it here first folks. Cath Kidston bike seat covers are coming to a store near you. For those of you that read my post in November entitled 'Rain coat for bicycle seats' it looks as though or friends at Cath Kidston were listening. Due to popular demand, bike seat covers have been added to the collection. Here is a sneak peek of the very first design to hit stores next week.

This 'Be A Good Sport' bike seat cover will be available for purchase both in store and online from the 17th of January, so you can say goodbye to your squishy-just-been-rained-on bicycle seats. Tuck one of these bike seat covers into your bag in case of unexpected showers and stay 
dry in style.

Cath Kidston 'Be A Good Sport' Bike Seat Cover £3.50

Winter riding tips

Aside from red noses and frozen fingers another common problem for Oxford cyclists in winter are frozen bike cables. You’ll know if your cables are frozen if you can’t apply your brakes - Not something you want to discover once you have begun riding as I did, so always check your brakes before setting out!  

Frozen brakes are caused by moisture collecting inside the brake cables. The quickest remedy is to give the cables a gentle pull, however this will only offer a short-term solution. To get to the bottom of the problem, you'll need to buy some bike lubricant and wait until the next time your bike is completely dry. Lubricate your brake levers and cable housings making sure you get the oil all the way through the housing. This will act as a barrier for any water that would otherwise find its way inside and freeze the housing.  

For more winter riding tips, check out The Oxford Fresher's Guide to 'Buying a Bicycle'. 
Photo: Drybike brolly holder. 

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