Finally the holiday season is upon us, whether you choose a staycation or manage to hop on a plane to sunnier climes.

Gardeners can return from a holiday to find that their pots and hanging baskets have frazzled in the sun through lack of watering, so here are a few do's and dont's to give you a degree of damage limitation.

Call on friendly neighbours to help with the watering. Pots and hanging baskets will need watering even if there has been some rain. If they are densely potted up, even prolonged rain might not manage to soak the compost beneath the flowers and foliage. Obviously, during hot weather, they will need to be watered more often. Some pots may be able to be moved to a shadier part of the garden to minimise the effect of the heat.

Deadhead blooms before leaving as they can sap the strength from plants as they become drier.

Harvest fruit and vegetables before you go. You can blanch and freeze them or give them to friends and neighbours. If left on the plant, they can become tough and stringy and plants like lettuce, coriander and other herbs may bolt which will impair their flavour. 

You can give less priority to perennials and evergreens in your garden as most of these plants will be well established as their root system reaches further down so will have access to more water. It might be an idea not to plant new perennials just before you go away as these will need lots of attention before they become established.

Don't worry too much about your lawn whilst you are away. If you mow before you go, you could leave the clippings on the lawn as this will conserve moisture. If you really can't bring yourself to do that, the Autumn rains will soon green it up again.

Hopefully, with some care and organisation, you won't come back from your holiday to any casualties. It won't harm to bring a little present back for your kindly neighbours either.

Millions living in the countryside will be 'lifted out of the slow lane' to enjoy lightening-fast broadband, ministers say. £5billion of taxpayers' money is being spent on upgrading digital infrastructure under a Government drive to 'level up' internet access. 

The plan, Project Gigabit, will see as many as 2.2million homes across England get the fastest internet speeds on the market by 2025. It is targeted at rural areas where businesses and families have long suffered from poor connections. When the upgrades are complete, residents will be able to  download films in less than half a minute thanks to broadband speeds of one gigabit - 1,000 megabits - per second, far higher than the current nationwide average of 72 megabits per second.

It will boost tech firms, make it easier to do business and 'put an end to families battling for bandwidth', according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Oliver Dowden, the Digital Secretary, said: 'Project is our national mission to level up rural areas by giving them the fastest internet speeds on the market'.

Martin Beckford - Daily Mail.

Rock-bottom mortgage rates mean now is a prime time for homeowners to switch when their fixed deal ends, according to data firm Moneyfacts.

The average standard variable rate is now 4.4 pc, which is 1.9 pc higher than the average two year fixed deal. It means someone with a £200,000 24-year home loan could save £204 a month by switching.

The scaling back of the stamp duty holiday has cooled the UK's frenzied property market, according to Nationwide. Figures from the building society show house prices dropped 0.5% in July. It comes after prices leapt 13.4% in June - the steepest rise in 17 years.

Nationwide's chief economist Robert Gardner said the rush to take advantage of the full stamp duty holiday saw housing transactions reach record levels in June. As a result, prices surged - effectively outstripping any savings made from the tax break. While stamp duty is due to return to its pre-pandemic rate by October in England, Nationwide said ongoing demand for larger homes in the wake of the pandemic was likely to continue supporting house prices.

House prices are almost a third higher than at their peak before the financial crisis.

A typical home cost £177,300 in December 2007 before plunging by 20 per cent. However, the average is now around £230,700 according to Zoopla - an increase of 30 per cent. Almost £12,000of the £53,400 rise was added in the past year as families started a 'race for space' following the first coronavirus lockdown.

That has seen buyers hunt for bigger properties with gardens and home offices, with demand also turbocharged by the stamp duty holiday. Grainne Gilmore, Zoopla's head of research, said: 'Demand is moderating from record high levels earlier in the year, but remains significantly up from typical levels. There is a continued drumbeat of demand for more space.'

                  Matt Oliver, City Correspondent, Daily Mail

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