Top five computer games to look out for in 2014

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If you love nothing more than point-and-click adventure games, post-apocalyptic thrillers or first-person puzzlers, you’re in luck. With avid gamers and information sites like Wow247 talking about the most anticipated releases of 2014, it’s clear there’s much to look forward to over the coming months – but which games are exciting people the most?

Here are five titles that are causing quite a stir:

Watch Dogs

Its release date has been pushed back once before, but the brand new action-adventure game from Ubisoft should finally land on the shelves in spring. That’s right, having been polished up and fine-tuned, gamers can expect a bold, innovative and highly-original concept which centres around Aiden Pearce, a-talented hacker-spy who can manipulate Chicago’s communication systems to his advantage and not only tap residents’ phones but short-cut machinery and cause traffic collisions too. A single-player game with a multi-player twist, you’ll also be able to hack into the games of others and steal their data for special Watch Dog bonuses. Genius!


Having won over 60 awards at its E3 2013 reveal, Titanfall is easily one of the most anticipated games of 2014. A Microsoft exclusive, first-player shooter game with incredible graphics, futuristic weapons and gigantic mechanised Titan walkers that you can hijack, this game looks certain to offer hours of adrenalin-fuelled fun for even the most experienced gamer. Set on a derelict and war-torn planet, Respawn Entertainment’s debut game is an online multi-player only adventure which allows up to 12 human players (six against six) to go head-to-head on a battlefield and uses Microsoft’s cloud services to make the graphical experience quite spectacular.

Game of Thrones

If you couldn’t get enough of the hugely popular, Emmy Award-winning American fantasy series, Game of Thrones, prepare yourself for a video game adaptation of the hit show later this year. Yes, Telltale Games has officially teamed up with HBO Global Licensing to create an interactive, episodic game series designed for home consoles, PC/Macs and mobile devices. The creators have kept their lips fairly sealed, but Game of Thrones is thought to be a character-driven series reliant on juicy story lines and intriguing plots – so watch this space!

Metal Gear Solid V

It might be one of the most famous franchises of all time, but Metal Gear Solid is about to get a brand new lease of life thanks to the upcoming action-adventure stealth video game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Produced by Hideo Kojima, the new release will follow on from events that occurred in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker but will feature a new day and night cycle that runs in real-time – cool huh? Players will not only be able to go on a host of night excursions but can also develop their weapons from their home base, which can be easily accessed via a smartphone!

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Online only multi-player games might be popular these days, but Nintendo have reminded us what it’s like to play against someone else in the same room with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Thanks to this brand new side-scrolling release, you can go head-to-head with friends and relatives as you battle your way back to an ice-covered home land – frozen by rather evil-looking Vikings. There’s plenty of adventure to be had both on dry land and underwater, so find a play pal and have fun with some of Nintendo’s much-loved characters including Donkey, Diddy, Dixie and Cranky.
2014 is sure to be an exciting year for gaming fanatics so keep a look out for these five thrilling releases and many more!

This article was written by freelance writer and mother of three, Kathryn Thompson.  Follow her on Twitter: @katht35

The Benefits of Orthopaedic And Orthotic Footwear

In this post we will look at two very important types of foot-related products –Dr Sholl shoes and orthotic insoles.

For a long time people have had problems seeing past the general look of Dr Sholl shows, which means they have not really taken on board the benefits of wearing them.  In the late 60’s the shoes were released for the first time as an orthopaedic show aimed at people who had no arches, bad posture or who suffered pain in their feet.  Therefore, people only saw them as being suitable for people with foot issues, rather than seeing the potential comfort and support of Sholl shoes.  Additionally, they were not the most attractive shoe to look at.

This perception changed in recent years because of whole new lines of Sholl shoes in designs and styles that would fool you into thinking they were made by a different brand.  So now Dr Sholl shoes look good as well as having many health benefits.  We will now look at some of the benefits.

Good To Your Feet

As Dr Sholl shoes are always made with feet in mind, they all have the appropriate amount of support for every part of the foot, no matter what foot problem you may have.  Wearing Sholl shoes is a good way to avoid the damages that can occur from walking and can also help with the healing process.

Save Money On Insoles

While insoles are helpful for making your normal shoes more supportive for your feet, Sholl shoes are made to act in the same way as the insoles.  This means you don’t have to pay out extra for insoles as they are naturally built in to these shoes.

They Are Stylishness

As mentioned at the beginning, Sholl shoes used to be known as anything but stylish.  They always looked bulky and very unfashionable.  Nowadays, the technology and design of the shoes has made it possible for them to look like normal, more stylish shoes while still having the same orthopaedic properties.

Orthotic Insoles

Orthotic insoles could positively affect the overall health of your body.  Around 70% of people suffer from some sort of foot condition that impairs their body’s normal functionality.  Both plantar fasciitis and over pronation will affect a large number of people at some point in their lifetime.  These conditions can be addressed and alleviated by wearing orthotic insoles.

This is because the foot is the part of your body that absorbs all the force and shock produced by walking, which causes friction between the bones and muscles.   The majority of people wear orthotic insoles to support and ease pain caused by the above conditions and many other degenerative foot disorders.  They can also help to improve muscle and bone alignment which can cause problems in your lower back.  In addition, they can help relieve any inflammation you may be suffering from and also restrict the movement of your feet, particularly when your knees, ankles or toes have been damaged and need to heal properly.

The Essential Parents Guide to Buying Children’s Shoes

We, as parents, are so used to popping in to a high street store to get our children in shoes. Buying new footwear for your child online is a relatively new concept, one with both benefits and potential pitfalls. Online shopping needn’t be a pain though, in-fact it could save you time and money compared to visiting the high street. What’s more, you can adopt a very similar approach.

In this guide, it will give you some handy tips to buying new footwear for your child online:

First of all, ensure that you’ve measured your children’s feet. Their feet will have growth spurts, much like their height. One minute they could be a size six, and stay a six for months, the next their feet could grow two sizes bigger in a matter of weeks. Therefore it’s important that you measure their feet, just before you order their footwear. You can either go in to a high street store for this part of the buying process, or you can print a footwear size chart online. It’s really up to you. Another word of advice is; try and print a size chart from the store you could be ordering from, as each store could have slightly different sizes. You may also find it useful to compare the different sizes from other countries.

If your child is between sizes, make sure that you always buy them the next size up. Squashed up feet, in any footwear, can be very damaging for your child’s health. Ensuring that they have correctly measured footwear is half the battle.

Now that you’ve measured your child’s feet, you can start looking out for those perfect shoes, trainers or boots you’ve wanted to buy.

There are lots of different styles, for both girls and boys. Some may have sparkles, others may have characters, just ensure that you put quality ahead of trends. Quality is always the winner.

In addition to thinking about style, you should avoid backless footwear. Children, as we know, have poorer co-ordination than grown-ups, leaving them exposed to the potential of tripping up over and causing serious injury themselves.

While your child is growing up, they will want to start putting their shoes, trainers or boots on themselves. Think about what stage they are at, and whether getting Velcro, laces, or slip-ons will best for them.

Kids also have very high energy levels, so it’s important to look at footwear that enables their feet to breath. Allowing air around the feet will ensure that their feet stay healthy.

When will the footwear be worn? Think about tread, and the materials that the footwear is made from. Obviously during the winter canvas, sandals are other open footwear are a no-no. They just aren’t practical. Whilst during the summer more confined footwear could cause problems.

Once you know what shoes you want to buy, it’s all about shopping around. One of the perks about shopping online is the amount of websites that sell shoes. These are nearly always cheaper than buying on the high street.

So, shop online for the next pair of children’s shoes you buy and pick up a bargain!

How to grow plants in small spaces

plantsWith the beginning of a brand new year comes the perfect opportunity to kick start your dreams of garden grandeur. Whether you have acres of land, a community garden patch, or simply a few centimetres of windowsill space, it’s all about getting the right thing planted in the right spaceat the right time and giving it a little TLC. It’s also a brilliant way of starting a project that involves the kids from start to finish.

Half the fun for parents and children alikeis scouring through the copious varieties of flowers, plants and vegetables available, picking out pretty colours and favourite foods and is a great place to do this. Here are some suggestions and tips on growing vegetables with the children, in even the smallest of spaces.

Believe it or not, your green-fingered antics can be a complete success with so little room as a window sill. It will however, be hugely important to make sure your windowsill of choice gets (preferably) at least five hours of direct sunlight a day during summer and each seedling is given plenty of space – no plant likes to be cramped!

A container of at least 15cm across is perfect for a herb like basil but if wanting to produce something more substantial in size such as beans, carrots or salad leaves for example,then don’t use anything smaller than a 25cm pot. The deeper the pot the better, as it will give scope for wider varieties of vegetables to grow – 20cm deep would be fine for your salad leaves but to give carrots and beans enough room to spread out during growth, 30cm deep is more suitable.

Growing indoors is becoming more and more popular for people without access to gardens or green space and now there’s even specially designed compost available to purchase for when growing in containers. The compost is designed to hold on to water better and is combined with extra nutrients to help kick start the growing process. Look for soil or loam-based composts, water-retaining granules and extra nutrients or plant food. Fill the pots to near the top and pat down – this can get messy so always best to put some newspaper underneath!

Once seeds are planted, keeping up with the watering of them is a great way to encourage some responsibility and really keep your children engaged with the growth process. Without natural rain water, indoor plants can often dry out but there’s a fine balance between that and drowning them. Before watering, ask your child to poke their finger in and if the compost is damp just below surface then your plant should be just right.

Once your plants get going, they’ll soon use up all the nutrients originally supplied in the compost, so make sure that giving them a feed every couple of weeks is added to the routine of watering. It’s all part of the process and great for highlighting the love and nurture that is needed in order for something to grow.

There are a lot of similarities to growing plants and vegetables on your window sill when growing on a balcony, but the latter offers a little more scope to the number and size of vegetables you can grow. With that bit more space, you can plant higher quantities of vegetables and even extend your range to courgettes, French beans and flowers!

This means investing in some grow bags. One alone would be enough for one courgette or at a push two but salad leaves sewn all overwould grow brilliantly. One tip is to place grow bags on top of each other to give extra depth. To do this, cut holes through the plastic to join the two and allow growth and water movement. This environment works well for beans but remember, they need a lot of water and prefer to climb up something as they grow – building a cane tepee is great for this.

Many of these vegetable plants produce beautiful flowers such as courgettes and beans, so grow these in the most open places – you could even plant some flowers among your vegetables to add some colour and elegance to your patch. Particularly good at looking pretty whilst discouraging pests are French marigolds but experiment… you won’t know until you try so give it a go and have fun!

This article was written by Amanda Walters, an experienced freelance writer and regular contributor to Huffington Post. Follow her here: @Amanda_W84