New Year, New You: Sticking To Your Resolutions

There are no surprises when recent polls revealed the most common new year’s resolutions for 2018. At the top of the list are the perennial favourites; exercise more, lose weight and eat healthier. Joint 4th is learning a new skill or taking up a hobby with spending more time with family and quitting alcohol or smoking following closely behind.

The initial momentum of the New Year can make sticking to these resolutions easy at first but how do we maintain our resolve?

Making the Change a Habit.

Just as bad habits are easy to pick up, good ones are also easy to form. Research has shown that repetition in behaviour over just 66 days is enough to create a new habit. Committing to a permanent change can be hard but focusing on getting over the first 66 days could just provide enough motivation to get through. Give yourself permission to drop the new lifestyle after 66 days and by the time you reach this milestone, you should find that it is harder to break your resolution than to keep it.

Don’t Go It Alone

Research has shown that people are far more likely to stick to their resolutions with the support of their family and friends. If you are intending on going to the gym, then get a training partner. Want to eat healthier, get your family involved. Whatever your good intentions for positive change in 2018, doing it with some support will help you achieve your goals.

gym buddy

Get a gym buddy or a quit partner to help you stick to your guns. Image via Pixabay.

Set Your Eyes on the Prize

We all have individual reasons for making a new year’s resolution and it is important to remember these in order to stay motivated. This could be to shed some extra weight to keep up with a young family or to learn a new language for that summer holiday. Make a visual reminder of what you are trying to achieve and why and keep a record of your progress.

Set Achievable Goals

Many resolutions fail because we set ourselves too high a goal. Losing a stone in weight in four weeks or abstaining from alcohol totally might just be a little too much to ask If we don’t see progress quickly, we tend to lose faith in our resolve. By all means, set yourself an overall goal but break this down into achievable ones. Just remember, every journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

New Year, New You

2018 might not just be about getting fit or quitting the booze, you might want to give your finances a makeover or be considering a change in address. Fortunately, we can offer more than just a few quick tips on both these matters. Contact Property Assistant today on 0118 912 2370 to discuss how we can help.

Featured image via Pixabay.

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Celebrity Spotting in the Thames Valley

Celebrity spotting in Berkshire?

The Thames Valley might not have the glitter and glamour of Hollywood but the area does have many links to the stars.

In this guide, we take a whirlwind tour of the celebrity links to the area in our ‘map’ of the stars.


Though originally born in Belfast, BAFTA and Academy Award winning actor, Kenneth Branagh was raised in Tilehurst in Reading and still lives in Berkshire. A former pupil of the Meadway School, Branagh is one of many celebrities who call (or have called) this area home.

kenneth branagh

Kenneth Branagh. Image via Flickr.

Marking the Year of Culture in Reading, A list celebrity, Kate Winslett was honoured with a Pride of Reading Award in 2016. She and her siblings were all born and raised in the town. She studied at the Redroof’s Theatre School and has always been proud of her Berkshire heritage,

Also born in Reading is TV actress, Lucy Benjamin, best known for her role as Lisa Fowler in the BBC soap opera, Eastenders. She trained at Redroof’s Theatre School in Maidenhead but now lives in London with her husband and two children.

Starring opposite Hugh Grant in the 2002 film About a Boy, Nicholas Hoult was a Wokingham lad going to school at the Coombes Primary School in Arborfield and then the Ranelagh. He has gone on to star in some Hollywood films including the recent X Men series and Mad Max: Fury Road.

nicholas hoult wokingham boy

Nicholas Hoult. Image via Flickr.

Star of the hit CBBC series, Tracy Beaker, Dani Harmer was born and raised in Bracknell.

George Clooney owns a house at Sonning Eye. The 17th century mansion was redeveloped at a cost of £20 million and includes a 12 seat private cinema, AstroTurf covered tennis courts and 60’ swimming pool. The private Thameside hideaway is where Clooney and his wife, Amal, raise their twin; it is one of five international homes.


Born in Newbury, creator of the popular children’s classic Michael Bond was a Berkshire boy. He was educated at Presentation College in Reading and survived a catastrophic air raid in the town which killed 41 of his colleagues.

Author of the Water Babies, Rev. Charles Kingsley is buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s in Eversley. As rector from 1844-1875, he was influential in the area as a reformist and writer. The inspiration for the young chimney sweep ‘Tom’ in the book was taken from a boy living in Wokingham, James Seward.

TV Celebrities

Comedian, writer and actor, Ricky Gervais was born in Reading and has famously parodied his upbringing in the area with his film, Cemetery Junction. Born in the Battle Hospital which was closed in 2005, Gervais once worked at the University of Reading as a gardener.

Journalist and TV satirist, Charlie Brooker was also born in Reading though he was raised in Oxford.

The TV celebrity, Chris Tarrant was born in Reading and remains a big fan of the Royals where he can sometimes be seen supporting the team. He still lives in the area and is a regular ‘spot’.

One of Berkshire’s long-standing residents, Uri Geller, called Sonning his home until 2015 when he returned home to Israel. The £15 million mansion was a hot property for curious locals with a meditation pyramid, panic room and L shaped swimming pool.

Before their divorce, comedians Lenny Henry and Dawn French lived in Spencer’s Wood. French has famously relocated to Cornwall and Henry is settled in London.

Sarah Beany was born in Reading and went to the Luckley Oakfield School in Wokingham before launching her property business which has gone on to earn her celebrity fame. She now lives in East Riding of Yorkshire.

Kate Humble was raised in Bray and went to school in Reading at The Abbey School.

Kate humble berkshire

Kate Humble. Image via Wikimedia.

Political Celebrity

Former Prime Minister David Cameron grew up in the small village of Peasemore, north of Newbury. He went to school in Winkfield (near Ascot) and latterly to Eton College. The family home is still in Berkshire.

The Prime Minister, Theresa May also has a home in Sonning though, of course, she spends more of her time at No 10 Downing Street.

Sporting Figures

Sporting celebrity and former champion race jockey, A P McCoy lives in Lambourn with his wife Chanelle.

Northern Ireland international football player, Lawrie Sanchez was a one time resident of Reading being educated at Presentation College


Catherine (or Kate), Duchess of Cambridge was born in the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading and as future Queen Consort she is perhaps our most famous living claim to fame. She grew up with her sister, Pippa (now married to former racing driver, James Matthews) and her younger brother James, in Chapel Row (near Newbury).

kate middleton duchess of cambridge berkshire

Image via Wikimedia.

Not as current but both still just as royal, King Edward III and Henry VI were both born in Windsor Castle; the former is regarded as the most successful English monarchs of the Middle Ages.

King Henry I not only founded Reading Abbey but is also buried here. In what is becoming a habit of long-dead monarchs, his remains were thought to have been found beneath the tarmac of a car park on the site of what was once Reading Gaol.


Pop icon, Elton John, has one of his lavish residences in Old Windsor. Though far from being a recluse, it is unlikely that you will spot the singer as he splits his time between other homes in Venice, Nice, Atlanta and London.

Runner up (but arguably more successful than the winner) of the BBC’s Pop Idol in 2001, Will Young was born in Wokingham, raised in Hungerford but went to school at Wellington College in Crowthorne.

The 1990s one hit wonder and pop sensation, Chesney Hawkes was born in Windsor and went to school at Charters School in Sunningdale. His 1991 single ‘The One and Only’ spent five weeks at number one.

The 60s singing celebrity, Marianne Faithfull, grew up in Reading on Millman Road. There is evidence that shows Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger visiting her at her terraced home.

Historic Figures

Founder and joint owner of the famous Huntley and Palmer biscuit dynasty, Joseph Huntley was a resident of Reading in the early 19th century. Originally selling his biscuits to travellers passing through the town, his idea to tin them to keep them fresh led to the creation of the town’s biscuit factory business. One of the first global brands, Huntley & Palmers was the Coca Cola of the 19th century and tins were shipped across the British Empire in their famously elaborate tins. Employing huge swathes of the towns workforce, the factory eventually closed in 1976 but production of the iconic biscuits recommenced in Suffolk in 2006 under license to a New Zealand firm.

Though more of a sight in London, Irish poet, playwright and author Oscar Wilde was once one of Reading’s more famous citizens. Albeit his address was at Reading Gaol, the writer served a prison sentence of two years before exiling himself to France before his death in 1900.

oscar wilde reading prison

Oscar Wilde famously wrote the ‘Ballad of Reading Gaol’ during his time as an inmate. Image via Wikimedia.

It’s unsurprising that so many famous faces call the Thames Valley home; great commuter links combined with swathes of unspoiled countryside there are some amazing towns and villages in this area. If you’d like to find out more about the area then you can find some interesting local and historical information in our Thames Valley Area Guides or you can contact us directly on 0118 912 2370.

Featured image via Wikimedia.

St Sebastian’s School, Wokingham – Christmas Fayre 2017

We are pleased to be sponsoring the ‘St Sebastian’s School Christmas Fayre again this year.

Along with traditional festive activities such as mince pies, carols and a chance to visit Santa, you can also meet an actual real life Storm Trooper!

xmas fair 2017

There are plenty of stalls booked for the event including arts and crafts, Christmas gift shopping and games. There will be a brass band on site to help the afternoon along with a touch of class and you can buy tickets for the hamper auction.

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday 2nd December 2017 between 11.00am and 2.00pm.

St Sebsastian’s School is located on Nine Mile Ride, Wokingham RG40 3AT.

Summer Fayre – 8 July 2017

Property Assistant is proud to be sponsoring the St Sebastian’s C of E Primary School at their Summer Fayre this weekend.

Julie and I will be there for the whole event running some competitions for children and adults in addition to the stalls being run to raise money for the school. We’d love you to come down and join us.Starting at 11am on Saturday morning, the forecast looks dry and warm so come down and enjoy one of the many kid-friendly events.

Hopefully, see you there…

UK House Prices Update: May 2017

Despite the official figures for March 2017 only just released by the UK House Prices Index, early indications of the UK housing market are generally made public earlier by mortgage lenders like the Nationwide Building Society.

In a press release, published at the beginning of the month, the Nationwide declared the third fall in average house prices with a reminder that the last time this occurred was in 2009. The lender reported a 0.3% decrease in March followed by a 0.4% decrease in April and this month, a 0.2% fall.

However, the news is not all doom and gloom and average UK house prices remain 2.1% higher year on year, standing at £208,711.

Most property professionals are not surprised by the news and is in line with predictions following the announcement of the snap General Election in April. Since the majority vote in favour of ‘Brexit’, there has been caution in the markets but not stagnation. In fact, the subdued activity that the vote to leave Europe inflicted on the building industry is likely to support the housing market over the rest of 2017.

Robert Gardner, an economist at the Nationwide, supports the commonly held opinion that the second half of this year will see more growth in house prices. Gardner predicts a likely increase of around 2%.

This despite the result of the general election which, historically, does not tend to create volatility in the housing market.

uk house prices

We should point out that the Nationwide’s figures are based on mortgages that they have been arranged and do not reflect the actual transactions of the UK housing market in general; rather they are an indication of agreed property loans. For a definitive guide to actual property prices in the UK, the Housing Price Index is published approximately two months in arrears by the Land Registry. For more information on the latest figures published by the government in the UK House Prices Index, see our Infographic ‘Thames Valley House Prices: March 2017’.

If you would like to seek an independent view of the housing market in the Thames Valley then we would be delighted to share our thoughts with you. Call us today on 0118 912 2370.


Thames Valley House Prices: February 2017

uk house prices feb 2017 thames valley

Find out how house prices in the Thames Valley performed in February 2017