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One of the most indispensable accessories for the summer is the parasol! Hurrah that summer is finally here with it’s blue skies and sunshine full of much-needed vitamin D! Yet sunburns or heatstrokes are likely to put a damper on your summer holidays. It provides the perfect solution to protecting yourself and your loved ones in the heat. You’ll be able to spend ample time basking in the sunshine’s warm glow, whilst avoiding all the uncomfortable side effects. Here are our top tips to help you select and enjoy your parasol to the fullest this summer.

Tip 1: Selecting the right parasol

Selecting the right parasol for the job
Selecting the right parasol for the job

To choose your parasol, several criteria come into play. First up is its intended location: is it for the garden, a patio or balcony, or the beach? Next, how many people will it shelter? A small beach umbrella for one child is poles apart from a cantilever parasol capable of protecting a table of 12 people! You also need to tailor your choice to the region where you live: How many months in the year can you use it? Will it be exposed to summer storms? Finally, what is your budget?

Once you’ve answered all these questions, simply opt for the version that best suits your needs, with a little help from our handy advice guide. It will help you spot the difference between upright, tilting, or cantilever parasols. Our blog also explains the benefits of round parasols compared to rectangular parasols or the different types of canopy fabrics available, such as cotton, acrylic, or polyester.

You’ll be sure to find the perfect model to go with your garden furniture set or swing.

Tip 2: The wind is not our friend!

Wind can cause damage to parasols
Wind can cause damage to parasols

Wind poses two serious dangers to your parasol: tearing the canopy and the risk of it collapsing or blowing away. An open parasol must be able to withstand winds of 25 km/h. The very best can survive gusts of more than 50 km/h.

In fact, the wind resistance of your parasol will depend on the model you choose. A light parasol will be more sensitive to wind than a larger, heavier and more robust model. Wooden poles are more fragile and require regular maintenance, but they are heavier and are more stable in the ground. The type of canopy fabric used also plays a key role. Acrylic canopies are more expensive, but more resistant, especially when it comes to keeping their colour in the sun.

If you live in a very windy region, we recommend choosing a parasol with a textilene (synthetic mesh) canopy, which is very light and extremely resistant. Although not widely available, they are gaining in popularity. Large parasols also have a wind cap or valance to add extra stability against wind. The wind cap is a smaller piece of fabric partially stitched into the top of the parasol. When the wind blows, this cap lifts and lets air pass through to reduce the pressure put on the frame.

The wind cap is but stretched over a rigid frame, like a mini parasol over your parasol. It also ensures better air circulation and greater resistance to sudden gusts of wind.

Tip 3: Choose the right spokes

The stability of a parasol depends on its spokes
The stability of a parasol depends on its spokes

The stability of a parasol in windy conditions will also depend on its spokes. Located under the canopy, the spokes keep the canopy in place despite the amount of pressure exerted by the wind. As cheaper models have less robust spokes, they are easily lifted up and moved around by even the slightest gust of wind, a bit like hand-held umbrellas.  Flexible spokes will provide better wind control. The best models use fibreglass spokes to ensure optimal flexibility of the whole structure.

Tip 4: Parasol safety on the beach

Parasol safety on the beach
Parasol safety on the beach

When a beach umbrella suddenly takes flight, it’s hard not to laugh. But it can cause serious damage! If the metal foot hits an unsuspecting beachgoer, it can be extremely dangerous. That’s why you must take extra care when anchoring your parasol at the beach. Here are a few helpful tips to follow:

  • Don’t use it if the beach is too windy
  • Bury it as deep as possible in the sand (or pebbles)
  • Pack the sand around the entire foot
  • Weigh it down by hanging small bags of sand to the spokes under the parasol
  • Face the outside of the parasol into the wind

There are also models with sand anchors, explicitly designed for the beach. For optimal stability, opt for a beach parasol with a built-in screw foot and crank-shaped pole that bores directly into the ground.

Enjoy your parasol this summer!
Enjoy your parasol this summer!

Did you enjoy reading our parasol tips for the summer? After all the effort you’ve put in, it’s time to relax on your  DIY pallet chair, safely sheltered from the sun and flick through our article on your garden to do list for the rest of the summer 🙂

Share your finished results with us on instagram using the hashtags #mymanomanoway and #manomanouk!

Heat your pool to extend its use by many more months in the year. While there are many ways to heat your pool, one of the most economical and environmentally-friendly solutions is totally free and clean. You might even say it’s a gift from the sky: solar energy!

And the good news is you can make your own solar water heater using basic materials that are easy to find and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

What you’ll need to make your DIY water heater and heat your pool

  • a 1 x 1m wood panel (here, two water-resistant OSB panels were assembled, but you can use other materials or recycle pallet wood for the back of your solar water heater)
  • hose measuring 50m (here we used a red 16mm PER hose, which limits dilation when the water is hot but you can also use 16mm non-porous PE irrigation hose )
  • two elbow connectors that will fit your hose (not necessary if you’re using a PE hose)
  • two connectors to connect your solar water heater to your pool hose
  • black matte exterior paint (here we used spray paint)
  • eight eyelets with a 10mm head
  • four 10mm rounded beechwood dowels, 60 cm long (you can also use pvc pipes)
  • four treated timber battens measuring 60 x 40: two measuring 1m and two measuring 0.92m
  • one polycarbonate sheet measuring 1 x 1m for your solar panel
  • 70mm and 40mm stainless steel screws and washers
  • two 45° mounting brackets two battens for the legs

Making your DIY solar water heater

Step 1: Prepare your wood panel

Heat your pool by screwing in the eyelets and passing the dowel through on the back panel

Draw diagonal lines on the side that will become the solar panel. Use a pencil to mark 23 cm from the corners and 23 cm from the centre. Screw in the eyelets at these points. Pass the beechwood dowels through the eyelets. These dowels will allow you to keep the hose in place as you roll it up.

passing the dowel through the eyelets
Pass the dowel through the eyelets

Step 2: Roll the hose up

Roll the hose up, keeping 1 metre of margin at the ends
Roll the hose up, keeping 1 metre of margin at the ends

Roll the hose up in a round circle, keeping a margin of approximately 1m wide at the ends. Make sure to roll it up flat as the hose must fit under the wooden dowels. Start by rolling from the centre, without forcing it too much to bend. Remove the dowels from the eye bolts to make room to position the hose and then slide them back into place, once you’ve finished.

Continue this way until you’ve reached the end of the hose; make sure you still have 1 metre of the hose free for the connectors.

Tip: You might need an extra pair of hands, so ask someone to help you with this step if necessary. We also used a bit of tape to hold the margin in place (see above photo).

The back of your solar panel once the hose has been rolled up
The back of your solar panel once the hose has been rolled up

Step 3: Finishing the back panel

Attach the frame and drill holes for the hose
Attach the frame and drill holes for the hose

Attach the wood battens all around the frame using stainless steel screws. Using the hole saw, drill two holes into one of the corners so you can pass the hose through without bending them. Use the elbow connectors to prevent the hose from being pinched or crushed.

Drilling holes for the hose to fit through
Drilling holes for the hose to fit through
Use elbow connectors to avoid the hose being pinched as it passes through the hole
Use elbow connectors to avoid the hose being pinched as it passes through the hole

Step 4: Paint everything inside the frame black for optimal heat absorption

Add a layer of matte black paint to the inside of the frame. Make sure to cover the hose, wood, dowels and anything located inside the panel. This will make sure it absorbs the heat more effectively.

Paint everything black inside the frame to create more heat for your pool
Paint everything black inside the frame

Step 5: Cover your panel for even more heat

Attach the polycarbonate sheet to the frame using stainless steel screws and washers. This material will create a “greenhouse effect” inside the box. It will also protect your heater from wind that could cool the water down.

Attach a polycarbonate sheet to create even more heat for your pool
Attach a polycarbonate sheet to create even more heat

Step 6: Tilt your solar panel to maximise the sun’s energy

On the back of your solar panel water heater, attach the legs using the mounting brackets.

Attach the solar panel's legs using mounting brackets
Attach the solar panel’s legs using mounting brackets

Use fittings so you can connect your hose to the pool pump. You can either choose to connect your water heater to the pool pump – if it’s powerful enough – or have your heating system run alongside the pump in a parallel circuit to heat your pool.

Connect your hose to the pool pump using fittings to heat your pool
Connect your hose to the pool pump using fittings

Once your water heater is set up, water will come out between 28 and 40°C, depending on the weather and how you’ve positioned your panel. We tested the device at the end of June in direct sunlight. While the outside temperature was 23°C, the water coming out of the panel hit 32°C!

Did you enjoy this article on how to heat your pool with this DIY solar water heater? Here are a few more articles you can enjoy, such as how to build a swimming pool for less than £100, or our guide on pool cleaning products, or even our inflatable pool buying guide!

Are you building your own solar water heater? Share your finished results with us on instagram using the #mymanomanoway and #manomanouk!

This is the ultimate guide to growing your favourite happy hour cocktails within the comfort of your own home – so that you’ll have the herbs you need at hand for whenever you feel like it’s about thyme for a beverage!

 

Home Growing

When it comes to growing herbs indoors, hydroponics is one of the best methods. This is because hydroponic herbs grow more rapidly from seedlings, are able to grow bigger volumes in a smaller containers,  and are known for having a heightened aroma which means – more taste!

Hydroponics will result in your herbs growing 25% to 50% faster than in soil, in a controlled environment where you won’t even have to bother with keeping them hydrated. No soil messiness and herbs all year round – it’s just mint to be!

 

Herb Cocktails

We’ve put together some of our favourite herb-y concoctions for you to give a go – they’re kind of a big dill.

 

Mojito

This absolute classic includes one of our all time favourite herbs and is super easy to make.

 

You will need:

 

Crushed ice – 1 cup

Soda – 50ml

Mint Leaves – 10, plus a few more for garnish

Fresh lime juice – 2 tablespoons

White rum – ¼ cup

Fine sugar – 2 tablespoons

 

  1. Stir together the sugar and lime juice until all is dissolved.
  2. Add the ¼ of the cup of crushed ice.
  3. Tear the mint leaves in half and add them into the glass.
  4. Stir, then add the white rum, rest of the ice and soda.
  5. Stir once again, and add the extra mint for garnish!

 

Dill or No Dill

 

This dill-icious cocktail may be slightly less well known, but is guaranteed to tickle your tastebuds!

You will need:

 

Gin – 50ml

Elderflower syrup or cordial – 15ml

Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon

Cucumber juice – 30ml

Dill – 2 sprigs, 1 to garnish

Salt – 1 pinch

 

  1. Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice.
  2. Sprain into a serving glass.
  3. Add extra sprig of dill to garnish!

 

Rosemary Gin Fizz

This recipe takes no time at all which may or may not make it even more addictive…

 

You will need:

 

Rosemary – 3 sprigs

Juice of 1 small lemon

Honey – ½ teaspoon

Gin – 35ml

Soda – 90ml

 

  1. Muddle together the honey, lemon juice and rosemary in a small drinking glass.
  2. Fill the glass with ice, pour in the gin and then top with the soda.
  3. Give it a swirl and you’re done!

 

Once you’re set up with your indoor herbs and alcohol, let the world of alcoholic herb-y beverages be your oyster! You’ll constantly be saying “chive never been so tipsy”! 😜

 

 

What is Hydroponics?

Indoor Herb Gardening for Beginners