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Plight Of Refugees Explored Through Their Clothing In Cathedral Artwork

refugees-cathedral-artworkSuspended by Arabella Dorman is a collection of hundreds of items of refugee clothing found mainly on beaches on the Greek island of Lesbos and garments left behind in the camps of Calais.

The illuminated artwork hangs from the nave of Canterbury Cathedral and appears to hover around three metres from the ground. The work was unveiled on Thursday and is on display until May 16, a cathedral spokeswoman said.

First shown in December at St James’s Church in London, Ms Dorman’s work attracted international attention. She said: “My interest lies in the men, women and children behind the headlines, the individual stories behind the politics. I attempt to illuminate and to reveal the human face of conflict, and to find light in the darkest corners of existence.”

The cathedral’s Canon Treasurer, the Reverend Nick Papadopulos, said: “In Lent Christians remember the days when Jesus was driven into the wilderness; in Holy Week we remember his suffering at the hands of imperial power.

“Arabella Dorman’s Suspended is a powerful call to us to remember – and pray for – those driven from their homes and those who suffer at the hands of power today.”

3 Gorgeous New Interiors Trends To Try In 2018

In this fast-moving world, anyone who reads magazines, browses Pinterest, Instagram and their favourite decor blogs, knows there’s a dazzling (and sometimes confusing) array of ideas out there to inspire our style.

To make it easy, we’ve identified three key new spring/summer trends – Artisan, Natural and Luxe – that you can shop on the high street.  So not only will these looks all add ‘va-va-room’ to your home, but they won’t break the bank, as these top finds show…

1. Get a weave on

Be inspired by creativity and craftsmanship sourced from around the world and take your home into a new decor destination with an ‘artisan’ theme. “I love those little variations that make artisan textiles and ceramics unique – that’s why this trend has such staying power,” predicts Jakki Pay, home design director at House of Fraser. We’ve sourced a patchwork of techniques, from mark-making to hand-stitching and tactile fringing. It’s our very own celebration of global craftsmanship, so expect natural materials, tribal prints and plenty of earthy, sun-dried colour.”

“When creating this interior style, don’t be afraid to be bold,” advises Claire Hornby, creative stylist, Barker & Stonehouse. “Opting to layer rugs in stripes and patchwork patterns across your living or bedroom space is a simple and guaranteed way to create interest from the ground up. This adventurous streak can make its way to your  sofa – select scatter cushions in contrasting fabrics, designs and hues, which can really work if you stick to complementary earthy colours. Celebrate wanderlust by  proudly displaying your collected art and accessories, to remind yourself there’s a whole brilliant world out there.”ID-JAN-3.jpg

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2. Take a leaf out of nature

Mirror the elegance of the natural world and its palette – the ‘natural’ trend is all about organic structures and tactile finishes.

“Way back in 1984, Dr Edward Wilson termed ‘biophilia’ as the ‘innate sense of belonging to the natural world’. Now, 34 years on, this sense of belonging will be entering our homes, with wallpapers, window blinds and other decor. This trend is also about nurturing the planet and sustainability,” says Alex Whitecroft, head of design at I want Wallpaper. “Some key looks will be living walls, plant/tree bark designs, vegetation and the creation of tech-free spaces, because this look is all about immersing oneself in nature. That means an abundance of greenery and vegetation, whether real or faux. It’s about promoting a sense of wellbeing through our obsession with the natural world.”

“People are asking more of their homes. Scandinavian-style simplicity is still strong, but it will be joined by a desire for understated opulence, with rich velvets, brass accents (replacing last year’s copper) and different stone finishes,” says Cornelia de Ruiter,  CEO and co-founder of Homewings.

“Marble, velvet and mid-century pieces are adding a touch of luxury and smaller accent pieces, like pouffes and ottomans in rich shades, are helping to add colour to homes.”

3. Layer on the luxe

Counterbalance the rapid advances of technology with luxury items and a subtle colour palette that projects elegant timelessness; a core essence of the ‘luxe’ trend.

“To some extent, all trends draw their influence from the past, and this look celebrates history and heritage. There’s a sense of ‘looking backwards to go forwards’, which translates as a fusion of retro and modern influences,” says Lorna McAleer from Style Studio. “Colours are classic and modest – for example, mix burgundy and warm brown colour ways with mellow neutrals. Team items with sleek, modern blinds to stop a scheme appearing stuffy.”

“To maintain the more minimalist and pared-back styling, try not to overload your look,” says Claire Hornby. “Opt for a base palette of neutral and natural tones to help elevate the opulence of metallic accents. Consider placing perfectly formed, geometric objects next to natural free-formed elements, such as wood or crystals, for a wonderfully eclectic effect.” Alternatively, make it tropical and lush with exotic detailing such as palm prints; Biba at House of Fraser has some great pieces.


Calling all wildlife fans – here’s your chance to vote for your winner

If you love the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards, then now is your chance to get involved and vote for your favourite for the People’s Choice winner.

Nature fans can choose from 24 images selected from almost 50,000 submissions from 92 countries. The shortlisted images are on display at the Natural History Museum in London until the vote closes, and the winner of the People’s Choice Award will be showcased until the whole exhibition closes on May 28.

And it’s a big deal – Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the longest-running and most prestigious competition of its kind. It’s part of the museum’s mission to inspire curiosity about the natural world through the power of photography, and look for answers to issues facing the planet.

From birds bathing to a too-close-for-comfort leopard, here’s our pick of the images you can vote for.

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1. Roller Rider: by Lakshitha Karunarathna, Sri Lanka

Lakshitha was on safari at Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, when he saw a lilac-breasted roller hitching a ride on the back of a zebra. These little birds usually prefer to perch high up in the foliage, but this maverick roller spent an hour or more on the zebra.

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2. Leopard Gaze: by Martin Van Lokven, Netherlands

During a three-week stay in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Martin encountered the same female leopard several times – called Fundi by local guides. Leopards are nocturnal and solitary, usually hunting at night, but one afternoon Fundi left the tree she was resting in and approached Martin’s car, fixing his camera lens with her gaze.

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3. Pool Party: by Luke Massey, UK

This photograph was taken during the drought in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. As waterholes dwindled in numbers and size, flocks of Lilian’s lovebirds, a small African parrot species, congregated together and when the coast was clear, have a drink and bath. Luke watched as they each shuffled forward, taking it in turns, as if on a conveyor belt.

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4. Warm Embrace: by Debra Garside, Canada

Polar bears are the largest land carnivores in the world and you wouldn’t want to get too close to one, but this touching image of a polar bear and her cubs shows their softer side. When polar bear mothers and cubs emerge from their dens in the early spring, the cubs stay close for warmth and protection before they’re strong enough to trek across the sea ice with their mothers. Debra braved challenging conditions for six days with temperatures from -35 to -55 degrees Celcius and high winds, to catch this shot.

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5. Warning Wings: by Mike Harterink, Netherlands

Mike was diving off Blue Bead Hole in St Eustatius, in the Caribbean, when he spotted this ‘flying’ gurnard. These fish have shorter forward fins with spines which they use to poke around for food, as well as larger wing-like fins. The fins are usually held against its body but when threatened, the gurnard expands them to scare away predators – which Mike used a slow shutter speed to capture.

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6. Dark Side of the Plains: by Uri Golman, Denmark

Black and white might be an unusual choice for safari photography, but Uri spent a whole week just taking pictures in monochrome on the plains of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, and spent most of it taking pictures of big cats. But it was a group of giraffes that stuck with him in the end. After following them for a while, three broke off and headed into the shadows, creating this amazing shot.

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7. Reach for the Sky: by Steven Blandin, USA

If you ever wondered what a bird looks like landing right in front of you, this is it. Steven was photographing a group of Roseate spoonbills, which have distinctive pink feathers. He saw a newcomer flying in from afar and managed to take a few steps back and position himself so the bird could land square in front of his camera. Its wings created a stunning symmetrical U-shape.

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8. Settled In: by Ryan Miller, USA

The city of Anchorage, Alaska, sees frequent moose, and this bull is known as Hook to the locals. Moose antlers are deciduous and every year they fall off ready for regrowth. Ryan knew from the previous year that Hook would be ready to shed his antlers in the coming days and he captured the scene in heavy snowfall as the city slept.

Voting closes at midnight on February 5. See all the other photos and vote for your favourite at nhm.ac.uk.


Can We Guess What’s In Store For 2018?

Can We Guess What’s In Store For 2018?

2017 Productivity Up, but what about 2018?

Around this time last year, our normal year-end and new year review were written and we got a few things right, especially in relation to the mainstream housing market is in surprisingly good health at the end of 2016 and seemingly ready to absorb any uncertainty around the Brexit process. We predicted that house prices in 2017 would remain static or show a small increase, with the exception of London where we predicted a fall.

The recent Nationwide house prices report confirmed that House prices ended 2017 2.6% higher than when the year started, with London identified as the UK’s weakest-performing region for the first time since 2004, according to an index.

Our top tip last year was to encourage buyers looking over £2.0m, to jump off the fence because in this sector it could well be the time for buyers to take a risk before prices move upwards after years of poor performance.

Nothing much happened until the third quarter of 2017, and then sales were being created between £1.75m and £2.5m. including this stunning house in Henley on Thames which went under offer on a guide offers in excess of £2.250m., with multiple offers received during a short marketing spell between October and December 2017.

House sale agreed in Henley on ThamesA factor influencing this outcome was the presenter lead video tour which provided added results during the marketing.

McCarthy Holden’s trading was up for 2017 so the year ahead is being approached with optimism, despite any potential uncertainty around Brexit.

Across the UK, the average price was £211,156 in December, marking a 0.6% month-on-month increase as well as the 2.6% annual uplift, Nationwide Building Society said. The annual rise was the slowest for any calendar year since 2012. It compares with a 4.5% annual increase in December 2016.

For the first year since 2008, prices in northern England and the Midlands combined grew at a faster rate than in southern England, Nationwide said, with a 3.6% year-on-year increase compared with 1.6%. In London, prices were down 0.5% annually, taking the average to £470,922.

The strongest-performing region was the West Midlands, with prices up by 5.2% annually, followed by the South West at 4.8%.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said 2017 “saw the beginnings of a shift”, as rates of price growth in the South moderated towards those in the rest of the country.

Nationwide calculated that would-be buyers face spending around eight years saving for a deposit, rising to nine years in the South East and nearly 10 years in London.

Mr Gardner said subdued economic activity and an ongoing squeeze on household budgets is likely to exert a modest drag on housing market activity and price growth in 2018. He said: “Overall, we expect house prices to record a marginal gain of around 1% in 2018.

2018 Steady House Sales and Squeezed Landlords

At McCarthy Holden, our belief is that for 2018 there will be a similar growth in house prices to that of 2017 and similar levels of transaction numbers, so overall a steady and relatively healthy house sales market. Based on quarter three 2017 market activity, the top end (£2.0m. plus) market may see a modest recovery in transactions but little improvement in price levels.

For the rental sector, the Government is likely to introduce the banning of tenant fees. Landlords will have to absorb these costs because they relate to important safeguarding measures, with the likely outcome of higher rent levels and the tenant ending up picking the cost up ultimately. The demand for private sector rental will continue to increase, but the squeeze on Landlord margins will also.

Wish List

Our big wish for 2018 is that Government stops interfering with and manipulating the market with stamp duty tweaks to either suppress prices or increase availability because their measures in recent years have resulted in higher prices for first-time buyers and a subdued top end market.

The mid to top end property sectors are long overdue a stamp duty reform since the disastrous hike in the stamp levy on larger properties by George Osborne, because ever since Osborne significantly increased house purchase stamp duty on more expensive properties, especially over £2.0m., this sector stagnated, tax revenue fell and buyers motivations to move hit rock bottom, which in turn has impacted directly on availability of housing stock. It’s obvious that if there is a healthy top end with motivated sellers and buyer this will feed into the mid to lower end sectors because buyers will have the motivation to move and the supply side of property will increase. Politically We do of course recognise that the Government is weak, thus lacking the resolve to stand up to the inevitable Jeremy Corbyn stance to a reduction in top end stamp duty, however the prospect of a looking after the rich accusation by Corbyn should be faced down in the greater interest of achieving a supply side and mobility gain with the prospect of increased tax revenue.

The bigger issue on housing is however for Government to urgently start engaging with building council houses, an infrastructure decision that would boost jobs and help those most in need of housing help. This is not socialism, but instead, just good common sense designed to enhance the economy and provide much needed additional housing stock outside of the private sector. However, with Brexit absorbing so much time and resources there is little hope of a meaningful focus on housing, unfortunately.

Overall, entering 2018 with an economy in good shape and a housing market that has escaped all of the negatives about Brexit (remember Mr Osborne’s warning of and immediate 18% house price reduction) and a manufacturing base that is on the up are all good reasons to be positive about a healthy property market in the year ahead.

Start your 2018 property search or valuation update here.

Footnote:
Here are average house prices across the UK and the annual change, according to Nationwide Building Society:

West Midlands, £182,861, 5.2%
South West, £239,576, 4.8%
East Midlands, £177,180, 4.6%
North West, £157,488, 4%
Wales, £150,885, 3.3%

Outer South East (includes Central Bedfordshire, East Sussex, Isle of Wight, Mid Hampshire, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury, North Essex, Oxfordshire, West Berkshire), £277,030, 3.1%

Scotland, £146,578, 2.6%
East Anglia, £223,613, 2.3%
Northern Ireland, £131,989, 2%
Yorkshire and Humberside, £151,747, 1.8%

Outer Metropolitan (includes Central Kent, East, West and North Surrey, Hertfordshire, Reading, Slough, South Buckinghamshire and Chilterns and Windsor and Maidenhead), £361,598, 1.2%

North East, £124,535, 0.2%
London, £470,922, minus 0.5%

How To Transform Your Home With 2018’s Trendiest Colour – Ultra Violet

ultra-violet-colour-living-room-news.jpgSurely one of the grandest hues on the colour wheel, with its associations with royalty, wizardry and luxury, purple is the hot shade for 2018.

Ever since colour gurus Pantone announced Ultra Violet – their interpretation of the shade made from a combination of blue and red tones – as their new Colour of the Year, there’s been a virtual avalanche of homeware and accessories in plummy shades.

This powerful colour is definitely not for faint-hearted decoristas, or those who think daring is moving from white to a pale shade of grey. Even Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone’s executive director, describes Ultra Violet as a “dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade”.

But used cleverly, it can look pretty as well as punchy – you just need to get the dose right!

Here, three decor experts reveal how to enjoy a full-blown purple passion, ‘flirt’ with quirky purple accents, or ‘double date’ by blending blue and purple…

Go full-on passion for purple “Ultra Violet has already sent shock waves through the interior design fraternity,” says Sophie Robinson, interior designer and former judge on BBC’s The Great Interior Design Challenge, whose living room reflects her enthusiasm for purple. “It’s a real Marmite colour, people either love it or hate it, but I’m a purple lover. I adore its intensity and vibrancy. It’s a really uplifting, feel-good colour and I can’t wait to see it popping up in the best dressed interiors.

“My advice,” Sophie adds, “leave behind all thoughts of Cadbury Cream Eggs, Barney the Dinosaur and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen in all his purple velvet suited glory, and embrace the new power of purple.” “Don’t be tempted to simply paint a feature wall in Ultra Violet and leave it at that,” she urges. “Instead, keep walls neutral and let soft furnishings do the work for you. If you’re using florals, mix them with geometrics for a more interesting look and do something unexpected.

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“For me, a pop of neon colour for a cushion and candles lifted my living room scheme. The great thing about Ultra Violet is that it can hold its own with a diverse range of colours. It can act as a dark foil for acid brights, a cool partner for hot hues, and a safe anchor for delicate pastels.”

Flirt with punchy purple accents “This exciting choice for Colour of the Year works brilliantly in many different ways, for all different interior schemes,” enthuses Brian Woulfe, founder and managing director, Designed By Woulfe. “If you’re brave, go hard on block colours and mix this vibrant hue with other visceral and stimulating colours in your home in a Mondrian style. This will give your space a stylish edge because this is a heady cocktail of punkish rebellion and regal opulence.

“Alternatively, intoxicating purple sits wonderfully with the popular grey, earthy tones which have dominated the interiors scene for so long. Alongside greys and ochre, purple tones are softened and can be seamlessly integrated to a pre-existing scheme,” Brian continues. “Another great way to introduce a softer version of Ultra Violet is to opt for cashmere or wool soft furnishings in this punchy tone, or use the shade for silk or satin piping for an on-trend trim for cushions, curtains or armchairs.”

Partner moody blues with purples “Purple’s long been associated with spirituality, mystery and contemplation, and Ultra Violet is no exception,” says Hannah Thistlethwaite, textiles buyer, Heal’s. “Inspired by the night sky, it’s full of possibilities. Pairing Ultra Violet with serene shades of blue could have an ethereal effect. For a luxurious take on the trend, I’d recommend sofas and armchairs in inky navy or midnight black, with amethyst cushions and throws to provide subtle pops of colour from the same palette,” Hannah adds. “Finally, add a pendant light or a table lamp in soft copper to catch the light and add brightness to the overall look. So, while the psychedelic hue is certainly a statement, be bold, and you’ll reap the benefits of a space that is altogether other-worldly.”

So why not start 2018 by searching for colourful property solution here.

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U.K. Manufacturing Industry Delivers ‘solid’ Growth In December

manufacturing up

Activity in Britain’s manufacturing sector has eased from a near four-and-a-half-year high, but still stumped up “solid” output and order growth in December.

The closely watched Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed a reading of 56.3 last month, down from 58.2 in November, with economists expecting a figure of 57.9. A reading above 50 indicates growth. While output levels from consumer goods producers rolled back, intermediate and investment goods motored ahead thanks to rising demand from overseas.

UK producers enjoyed a healthy appetite from Europe, China, the Middle East and America, helping to drive a further rise in employment.

It means the anufacturing industry churned out an average reading of 57 for final three months of the year – its best performance since the second quarter of 2014. Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit, said UK manufacturing ended the year on a positive footing.

He said: “Although growth of output and new orders moderated during December, rates of expansion remained comfortably above long-term trend rates. “The sector has therefore broadly maintained its solid boost to broader economic expansion in the fourth quarter. “The outlook is also reasonably bright, with over 50% of companies expecting production to be higher one year from now. “The main growth engines were the intermediate and investment goods sectors during December, suggesting resilient business-to-business demand and capital spending trends, albeit in part due to rising exports.”

Firms were also given a helping hand after input costs rose at the slowest rate for four months. Chemicals, electrical goods, metals and paper were among the products becoming more expensive. Despite sterling’s Brexit-induced slump keeping costs high, around 54% of firms are pencilling in a rise in production for the year ahead.

Samuel Tombs, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief UK economist, said the manufacturing industry will struggle to maintain momentum this year. He said: “UK manufacturers have cut investment since the Brexit vote and are struggling to find skilled workers. As result, work backlogs are increasing quickly and supply chain delays are worsening.

“These constraints will only worsen as the recovery continues, unless manufacturers suddenly ramp up investment. “Meanwhile, the recent rally in oil prices – to 67 US dollars, from just 50 US dollar six months ago – which has been driven by OPEC supply curbs and tensions in Iran, has darkened the outlook for low value-added production. “Accordingly, we expect the recovery in the manufacturing sector to lose its current vitality soon.”

The pound was 0.3% up against the US dollar at 1.35 following the update, and 0.3% lower versus the euro at 1.12. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed last month that gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.4% in its final reading for July to September this year, rising from 0.3% in the first and second quarters.

However, the UK economy is still struggling to bounce back to levels seen in the final quarter of 2016 – when GDP rose by 0.6%. Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to EY ITEM Club, said: “With December and November surveys from both the purchasing managers and the CBI also robust, the manufacturing sector looks likely to have produced another robust performance in the fourth quarter after expanding 1.3% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter.”

A Risk Of Killing Birds With Kindness

By Hannah Stephenson PA

We want to feed birds through winter, but we may be making some mistakes in our methods. The RSPB offers 3 tips on what not to do.

We all know we need to keep bird feeders and baths topped up over the winter months to ensure our winged friends weather the storm of winter.

But there are some things we shouldn’t be doing, which can risk a bird’s health, and in some cases lead to death. Here’s the RSPB’s advice on what not to do.

1. Don’t put out fat balls in netting

Fat balls may be a great energy source for birds, but not when they’re housed in nylon netting, which is often used for easy hanging but can end up trapping birds’ feet or beaks, leading to injury or even death. If you buy fat balls, remove them from any nets and put them in a safer, bespoke hanging feeder. or leave them loose on a bird table.

2. Don’t give them food poisoning

Foods to avoid which are dangerous for birds include cooking fat from the roast, or Christmas turkey mixed with meat juices during cooking to make a runny, greasy mixture. This sticks to feathers and stops them from being waterproof. It is often full of salt too, which is toxic to birds. Other foods to avoid are dessicated coconut, which may swell once inside a bird and cause death, cooked porridge oats or milk, which can damage a bird’s gut.

3. Don’t put out too much food

If food turns mouldy or stale on your bird table, you are probably putting out too much for the birds to eat in one day. Many moulds are harmless, but some can cause respiratory infections in birds, so it’s best to be cautious and avoid mouldy food entirely. Always remove any stale or mouldy food promptly, as it provides a breeding ground for parasites and bacteria. Keep bird tables, feeders and surrounding areas clean, washing them regularly (ideally, using a 5% disinfectant solution) and move feeding stations to a new area every month to prevent droppings accumulating underneath.

To find a property with a lovely garden for wildlife, why not start your property search here

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