Categories
Headlines UK London

Property searches double for the Cotswolds in lockdown

The already in-demand Cotswolds have reached new heights of desirability amid the coronavirus pandemic, new research has suggested.

The area’s pretty rural villages have long been a favourite among the rich and famous, with homes in the area owned by Kate Moss, Jeremy Clarkson, David Cameron, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and the Beckhams, to name but a few.

And the desire to stay at home in somewhere more picturesque means the area’s rolling hills and open spaces are even more sought-after, with online searches for properties in the Cotswolds doubling in the second half of last year.

The number of sales agreed in the Cotswolds (pictured) rose 100 per cent in September

Online searches on Rightmove for the Cotswolds rose 102 per cent in the last six months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

The property website said the increase in searches came as people looked to relocate for a quieter life in the countryside.

Rightmove explained its focus on the Cotswolds, saying that it saw a big shift in the number of people who were looking to move to the countryside last year, and as one of the country’s most iconic rural regions, it wanted to examine whether the Cotswolds in particular had seen a surge in interest. 

The Cotswolds covers 787 square miles, stretching from just south of Stratford-upon-Avon to just south of Bath near Radstock. It lies across the boundaries of several English counties, including mainly Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but also in parts of Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

The number of sales being agreed by agents in the Cotswolds outperformed the South West as a whole, peaking in September, Rightmove said.

There was a 100 per cent annual rise in the number of sales that were agreed by agents in the Cotswolds in September. 

This two-bedroom cottage in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, is for sale for £555,000

This two-bedroom cottage in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, is for sale for £555,000

The cottage in Chipping Campden has a garden and is for sale via estate agents Knight Frank

The cottage in Chipping Campden has a garden and is for sale via estate agents Knight Frank

Rightmove found that Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire is where house prices increased the most in the Cotswolds in 2020.

Average asking prices in the leafy market town were up 14.8 per cent on 2019, an annual increase of £38,290.

The place with the biggest annual increases in buyer searches in the Cotswolds was celebrity hub Chipping Norton, up by 109.5 per cent, followed by Burford – up 82.3 per cent – and Chipping Campden, up 68.5 per cent.

Rightmove’s Tim Bannister said: ‘The headline market trend to emerge from 2020 was a huge jump in demand for rural areas and countryside living, and the Cotswolds ticks pretty much every box for home-movers seeking an escape to the country.

‘As a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, brimming with endless walking trails and tight-knit village communities, the Cotswolds represent much of what we hold dear about the great British outdoors.

‘It’s easy to see why the area is a magnet for people looking for a quieter life, and with remote working seemingly here to stay for many, I expect the popularity of the Cotswolds will continue to grow this year.’

This six-bedroom house near Minchinhampton, in Gloucestershire, is for sale for £1,495,000

This six-bedroom house near Minchinhampton, in Gloucestershire, is for sale for £1,495,000

Equestrian facilities: The six-bedroom house (as above) also boasts land and several stables

Equestrian facilities: The six-bedroom house (as above) also boasts land and several stables

Rupert Sweeting, of estate agents Knight Frank, described Cotswolds property viewing and buying as ‘completely frantic’ since the housing market re-opened in May.

He said: ‘In addition to the traditional reasons that have always attracted buyers to the Cotswolds, including the beautiful scenery, good schooling, and well-established transport links, the pandemic has drawn attention to how the Cotswolds can also offer a dreamy countryside lifestyle, strong broadband networks, and space and gardens without compromising convenient facilities.

‘After experiencing being cooped up during the multiple lockdowns with a small or no garden, city dwellers quickly realized the benefits of moving to the countryside.

‘The abundance of well-equipped towns and villages in the Cotswolds means that these urban buyers are able to achieve their dream countryside retreat without having to completely isolate themselves. ‘

He added that having the likes of Soho Farmhouse and Daylesford Farmshop around, while being about an hour and a half from the centre of London is an attraction for many buyers.’

‘The idealisation of the country perfectly reflects how the pandemic has seen people revaluate their day-to-day lives and consequently propelled the Cotswolds’ property market into a frenzy,’ he said.

This two-bedroom house in Wotton-Under-Edge is for sale for £500,000 via estate agents Fine & Country

This two-bedroom house in Wotton-Under-Edge is for sale for £500,000 via estate agents Fine & Country

Best mortgages

Categories
Headline USA

5 tips to organize your home easily and quickly | The State

Those who live alone will realize how difficult it can be to tidy up the house to make it more presentable for a special occasion. According to Bioguía, it is not necessary that we spend the day cleaning if we take into account a few simple tips.

Tidying up the house would be easier for us if we try not to “have everything” in it, if we can make it an everyday habit, and also if we have a specific place for everything we have. We will detail this and more below.

1. Don’t have everything

A common mistake we all make is having some things around the house that we probably don’t need, but that we possess under the belief that they will be useful to us at some point. In this way, there are things that we will never use and that also take up space.

This being the case, it is important identify those things that are not useful to us and get rid of them to make room for what we do use or that is more likely to be used in the short or medium term.

This can be difficult to do if you have a certain attachment to the things that are going to be thrown away, but it is important consider all the benefits of doing so.

2. Learn from others

If your friends are more successful than you are keeping their house tidy, you can easily ask them how they do it and what principles they take into account when ordering, clean, and when choosing what to throw away and keep.

Giving each object a specific place will help you keep order at home. Photo: Unsplash

3. A place for everything

Indeed, it is important that we decide a specific place in which to have each object. By doing this we will avoid having a real mess in our homes where we have, for example, personal hygiene products displayed in the middle of the kitchen.

4. Get in the habit

You are not going to become a super organized person overnight. This is a change that takes time to materialize, and that is built through continuous practice.

By dedicating part of your day to tidying up and cleaning your house, in the short or medium term you will develop a cleaning habit with which you will speed up your performance, and it will make cleaning and tidying up less unnatural and laborious for you.

5. Start now

Organize and order your house as soon as possible. Postponing the change will make it harder to take, which also delays the benefits that it can bring in your life.

We can become orderly people if we want to and if we dedicate ourselves to it. It takes some effort to achieve it, but that effort will be well rewarded as time passes and you see what you have achieved.

You may also like:

5 things not to have at home because they alter the harmony

5 types of plants with insecticidal properties to take care of your home

7 tips to stay fit from home

What is the “liquid life” that Ikea proposes and how it translates into its decoration style

.

Categories
Headlines UK

How easy it is to bake a homemade loaf

Baking bread is a special activity that touches the deep strings of the soul. I don’t know what the matter is – in fiddling with dough, in the memorable feeling of a holiday from childhood from making homemade pies, or in the indescribable aroma of freshly baked bread that fills the entire home.

Unfortunately, we usually don’t have time to bake bread at home, but now, during the lockdown, it is quite possible to do this. The benefits will turn out not even double, but triple: you can not leave the house once again, not be afraid that the bread will suddenly disappear from the stores, and, of course, pamper your home.

Background for the doubters

Many housewives who are interested in baking open the Internet, find a sea of ​​fashionable insta bakers with recipes of the sample “stand the dough for two days, knead the dough three times for half an hour” and run away in horror, deciding that this is a business for unemployed people. The conclusion is quite natural. For the time being, I myself thought the same way – and then I ended up in a village where the nearest bakery was six kilometers away, and it was only possible to get there on foot, and I had to take bakery seriously.

I, like many, discovered a ton of recipes for two days of trouble, but I stubbornly searched further, trying to find an option suitable for a working woman with a family. And the option was found. It turned out that there is so-called bread without kneading, for the preparation of which 5-10 minutes of work is enough – neither long-term exposures nor long kneading is required.

There was no confidence that such bread would turn out to be of sufficient quality, but I cannot live without bread at all, so I tried to bake it – and it worked. The loaf came out lush, ruddy and obscenely tasty. Since then, I periodically bake bread, even when it is not necessary, just for my own pleasure.

pxfuel.com

Recipe

For such bread, you will need 5 g of fresh yeast or 3 g of dry yeast, 365 ml of water, 500 g of flour and 1.5 tsp. salt.

At least half of the flour should be wheat flour. The second half can be anything you like – again wheat, rye, multigrain, corn or any other. There is only one requirement: all flour must be suitable for baking bread (in Britain this is always indicated on the label)… There are varieties of flour that are not intended for baking: they have too little gluten, and if you add them to the bread, it will never rise, so it is better to take this point into account.

I myself take 300 g of wheat flour and 200 g of rye. Bread from such a mixture turns out not white, but rather gray, which is baked in the villages, but you can mix any bread flour of your choice or take a different one every time – the variety of food only decorates.

It is also worth mentioning that the preparation of the dough requires precision, all components must be weighed, so you need a kitchen scale.

Pour the flour into a large saucepan and mix it with a tablespoon with dry yeast and salt, fill it with lukewarm water and stir again. It is not necessary to achieve the smoothness of the dough – it is enough that all the flour is wet and mixed with water more or less uniformly. If you took fresh yeast, then the technology becomes a little more complicated: you need to put them in water, stir well so that they dissolve, and pour this talker into flour.

If you want to add something to the bread, then you need to add such ingredients to dry flour simultaneously with yeast and salt. Dried garlic, cumin, coriander, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, or herbs can be used as additives.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/

This completes the main stage. Here our saucepan with the dough still sleeping should be covered with cling film and put in a warm place – I put it on a battery, for example. You can do without heat, just leave it on the table in the kitchen, but then you should take a little more yeast, 10 g instead of 5 (we are talking about fresh). When warm, the dough should stand for about 2 hours. Approximately because yeast may not work the same way and our ideas about heat may also differ.

It is very simple to determine that the dough is ready: it should increase in volume by about three times, but at the same time retain the correct aroma – the smell of yeast dough. If the saucepan smells distinctly of mash, then the dough has stopped and the bread will rise worse when baking, no matter how hard you try. Next time, just keep the dough in a cooler place.

Then it’s time for the second stage. Sprinkle flour on a large cutting board, put the risen dough on it and gently shape it with your hands so that you get a more or less neat loaf. You cannot crush and squeeze it strongly, so there is no kneading – on the contrary, all efforts are minimal, only so that the dough becomes similar in shape to bread. And, oddly enough, that’s all.

Then we take out a thick-walled pot with a lid (duck, deep frying pan, or any other kind of utensil that the British call casserole; I use a cast iron saucepan from Le Creuset) and put the bread there. It is not necessary to grease the walls of the dishes with oil or sprinkle with flour – do not be afraid, the dough will not stick. Here you need to turn on the oven to heat up, and leave the bread warm for about another 30 minutes – during this time it will restore the splendor lost due to molding.

Baking

We tightly close our cast iron with a lid, put in the oven and bake for 30 minutes at a temperature of 230 degrees. Then you need to remove the lid and bake for another 20 minutes at the same temperature – for a golden brown crust on top. The finished bread must be shaken out of the dishes and allowed to cool on a wire rack before cutting it (the latter is difficult, since it smells like the whole house and all family members want to get their slice as soon as possible).

pixabay.com

If suddenly there are no suitable dishes, you can simply bake on a baking sheet covered with foil. In this case, the bread rises a little worse when baking, it turns out not so fluffy, but still very tasty. So that the uncovered dough does not dry out, you need to put any container with water on the bottom of the oven, and the steam formed when the water is heated will prevent the crust from becoming too thick.

Frequent mistakes

If you have tasted the bread and it turned out that it is hard on the outside and damp on the inside, it means that the oven heating was too strong. This happens: all ovens are different and at the same temperature level they heat up slightly differently. Next time, just turn the temperature 10 to 20 degrees lower and you will be fine. If the bread is pale, soft and under-baked, then, on the contrary, the heating is too weak, and next time it should be increased by the same 10–20 degrees.

Sometimes it happens that everything seems to be done according to the recipe, and the yeast is good, and the bread does not rise in the oven, so instead of a lush loaf, a dry flat cake is stubbornly produced at the exit. Most often, the reason is in an unsuitable oven – unfortunately, this is critical for baking bread. A very strong, but even and evenly distributed heat is required from a “bread” oven. If your oven is old and does not keep heat well, then, alas, you will never bake lush bread in it.

If the last part about the failures confuses you, do not be discouraged in advance. The recipe is very simple and reliable. I only needed to bake the bread twice to get it right. For the first time, the dough I had was undersalted (I was afraid to add as much salt as indicated in the recipe) and stood slightly, which made the finished product a little rustic berry mash, but even that did not spoil it. But after the holiday came – the moment when you cut off the first piece of still warm homemade bread, and it is very, very tasty, but also very warm and joyful. That’s the way it is, homemade bread.

Prepared by Elena Chernova

Categories
Headlines UK

DEBORAH ROSS: Black Narcissus starring Aisling Franciosi is all so sinfully slooow, sister 

Black Narcissus

BBC1, Sunday-Thursday

Rating:

The Serpent

BBC1, Friday

Rating:

Black Narcissus is based on the novel by Rumer Godden and was famously filmed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger in 1947, starring Deborah Kerr, but what that told so successfully in under two hours, this doesn’t manage in three. 

This was soooooooo slooooooooow. It’s a narrative about cloistered sexuality, and at various times you wanted to shout: can we uncloister the sexuality now? Get it all out in the open? And call it a day?

Here, Gemma Arterton steps into Kerr’s shoes as Sister Clodagh who, in 1934, is dispatched with other nuns to establish a convent school in an all but deserted old palace high on a mountainside in a remote outpost of the Himalayas. 

Mr Dean's main job is to stir the loins of the sisterhood. Not only Sister Clodagh but also Sister Ruth (Aisling Franciosi, above), who had been skating on thin ice mentally since the get-go

Mr Dean’s main job is to stir the loins of the sisterhood. Not only Sister Clodagh but also Sister Ruth (Aisling Franciosi, above), who had been skating on thin ice mentally since the get-go

Clodagh is sent there by Mother Dorothea (the glorious Diana Rigg in her penultimate role), and it is not a hospitable place. It’s not a place where the hills are alive with the sound of music, for instance. 

It’s not a place where anyone’s favourite thing is brown paper packages tied up with strings. It’s not that kind of place, and these aren’t those kinds of nuns, and this isn’t that kind of story.

Instead, the palace is perched on an outcrop where the winds are strong and windows rattle and doors bang and the bell tower has no railings – many edges to fall off, literally as well as metaphorically – and with The Cello of Dread, as I call it, playing constantly on the soundtrack. 

An atmosphere should slowly build. But this is dread from the off – the first scene is of a storm and lightning cracking – and then it’s three hours of dread across three nights. 

And if it’s dread non-stop, then what you can’t have is any taut suspense. It’s just more of the same.

Back to the action. Or what there was of it. Once Clodagh arrives, she finds she has to deal with handsome, manly Mr Dean (Alessandro Nivola), clerk to the local general. 

The general has donated the palace, and it’s where his father used to keep his concubines (hence the erotic murals that must be quickly covered up) and where his sister came to a bad end 20 years previously. 

(As seen in the prologue. And then over and over, rather unnecessarily.)

Sister Clodagh does not want to seek help from Mr Dean – her sin is pride – but has to if she is ever to get ‘the water closet’ fixed, for example. I am not given to prayer myself but was praying she’d ask him to fix railings to the bell tower, and a handrail to those steps but no joy. 

His main job, anyway, is to stir the loins of the sisterhood. Not only Clodagh but also Sister Ruth (Aisling Franciosi), who had been skating on thin ice mentally since the get-go.

However, as there is no sexual chemistry between him and them – not a squeak, not a whisper – this love triangle never especially convinced.

Clodagh is given a backstory, with fleeting images of a love affair that went wrong before she took up holy orders, whereas Sister Ruth goes mad (essentially) without explanation. 

So that seemed unbalanced. Meanwhile, as the windows kept rattling and the doors kept banging, the other sisters – Sister Briony (Rosie Cavaliero), Sister Blanche (Patsy Ferran), Sister Philippa (Karen Bryson) – were barely sketched. 

And because the pacing was off, it all became quite repetitive. So much so that when Gina McKee turned up in the final episode (as Sister Adela) I was overjoyed. A new nun! At last!

So it was all underpowered, and perhaps rather pointless – what does it say that the film does not? – but it did also have its virtues. The performances were uniformly good. 

Arterton skilfully portrayed a woman who comes to realise that everything she believed to be right was wrong, while Sister Ruth’s increasing lunacy was well handled by Franciosi. 

This was also stunning to look at. Unlike the film, which was shot at Pinewood, this was shot partially in Nepal and the cinematography was terrific. That said, I won’t be booking a holiday at that old palace soon. And I’d want railings. Lots of them.

I got through the first episode of The Serpent but failed to see how anyone would want to watch the next seven. (Seven!) It is based on the real-life serial killer Charles Sobhraj – played here by Tahar Rahim – who, across Asia in the mid-1970s, and abetted by his girlfriend (Jenna Coleman), murdered backpackers travelling the ‘hippie trail’.

It is based on the real-life serial killer Charles Sobhraj who, abetted by his girlfriend (Jenna Coleman, above), murdered backpackers travelling the ‘hippie trail’

It is based on the real-life serial killer Charles Sobhraj who, abetted by his girlfriend (Jenna Coleman, above), murdered backpackers travelling the ‘hippie trail’

With its brown and orange haze and the incorporation of vintage cine footage, it is spot-on visually, and captures that era really brilliantly, which is how it earned its two stars. 

But it was also confusing – so much hopping back and forth in time, I often couldn’t remember if we were back or forth – and serially unpleasant.

If a point was being made by seeing a young woman conned, drugged, dragged from a car, tossed into the sea and drowned, then I failed to work out what it was. There’s no whodunnit element, even if a young Dutch diplomat is on his tail, and the thought of having to sit through seven more hours… no. I can’t. 

Categories
Headlines UK

Britain’s blossoming love for Japanese design in the home

The design has a red lid and a narrow neck which widens to form a base of sturdy hips. When poured, the contents flow in a singular, uninterrupted stream.

The Kikkoman bottle hasn’t changed since it was designed in 1961 by Kenji Ekuan for the world’s largest soy sauce producer.

Simplicity has made it ubiquitous. And crucially, it works — think of wrestling with glass Heinz ketchup bottles or constantly wiping lids on plastic iterations. Likely, Kikkoman’s bottle is the reason we’re so familiar with soy sauce.

Serene: A contemporary Japanese-style sitting room. The country’s influence can be seen most clearly in the clean, elegant and functional everyday products we use in our homes

In the introduction to her book Japanese Design Since 1945 (£35, Thames & Hudson), Naomi Pollock writes: ‘In Japan, good design is everywhere. But most of all, it’s in the home.’

The trend for Japanese-inspired, UK-based brands, such as Wagamama, Superdry and Yo! Sushi, is well worn, but the country’s influence is likely seen most clearly in the clean, elegant and functional everyday products we use in our homes.

Inspired idea 

The Japanese approach to design is summed up well by a single product – Muji’s right angle sock (from £3.50, muji.eu). 

As the foot is perpendicular to the leg, the sock should follow the shape of the body: design centres on the user rather than the designer.

The word ‘Muji’ translates as ‘without brand’ and the company invites (often renowned) designers to create reasonably priced products anonymously. 

Design guru Naoto Fukasawa is an adviser to Muji, and his wall-mounted CD player for the company (£149) is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Naoto Fukasawa's butterfly-inspired Grande Papilio Swivel Lounge Chair (£2,869, chaplins.co.uk)

Naoto Fukasawa’s butterfly-inspired Grande Papilio Swivel Lounge Chair (£2,869, chaplins.co.uk)

In the UK, Chaplins stocks a large selection of products from Japan, including some from the designer.

‘The idea is to create designs that appear to have been sculpted by the elements,’ says Ludovic Aublanc, creative director at Chaplins. ‘It’s the kind of minimalism that brims with emotion, that makes you grateful and happy to come home.’

The company stocks Fukasawa’s butterfly-inspired Papilio range – chairs and sofas sporting headset ‘wings’ to protect the user’s head (Grande Papilio Swivel Lounge Chair, £2,869, chaplins.co.uk).

Simple seating

Japanese designers have described the chair as the centre of design and an extension of the human form. It follows that these things should be easy on both the body and the eye.

Habitat’s Mori charcoal two-seater sofa (£716, habitat.co.uk) certainly fits the bill. It is compact, unfussy and elegant with its plush curved armrests and contrasting thin, wooden legs.

Simple unfinished woodwork is a key part of design in Japan, like the solid oak dining chairs from Oak Furnitureland (£140, oakfurnitureland.com) which would pair well with the Japanese oak Castor Table by Karimoku New Standard (£1,169, nest.co.uk).

Clutter free

Last year, decluttering guru Marie Kondo took the world by storm with her hit Netflix show. The programme has been talked of plenty, but we’re perhaps unaware of how key these principles are to Japanese design.

A large part of the focus on user-friendly products comes down to space. As ever, it’s important for Muji, with its storage bed (from £299) which has spacious drawers to banish clutter. Loaf has the Woody storage bed (from £995, loaf.com).

Simple boxy shelving units such as the Ikea Kallax range (from £15, ikea.com) are practical, but can also be used for displaying plants, books and records.

Or, for a modern twist, try the John Lewis Dice shelving unit bookcase (£450, johnlewis.com). The company also stocks Japanese brand Like-it’s clear storage products (from £8).

Crockery that rocks 

Japanese pottery has long been a feature of our homes, and a collection by John Lewis is a nod to this. Inspired by woodblock prints, the range includes glassware, plates, mugs and even Christmas decorations. 

It’s all delicate, bright patterns and the infuser mugs by Tokyo Design Studio (from £25) are a highlight.

But elegant motifs are only part of the story. The earthy charcoals, whites and beiges of Hasami Porcelain (hasami-porcelain.com) are a calming, elegant addition to any kitchen.

Hasami teapots start from £65 and mugs from £22 (la-gent.com) – also pick up a copy of Okakura Kakuzo’s The Book Of Tea, written in 1906, an insight into the Japanese ritual of tea-making. Elsewhere, an Oriental Hobnail tea set costs from £22.98 (wayfair.co.uk).

For eating, Denby Pottery has Japanese-inspired bowls from £58 for four in grey and white (denbypottery.com).

Finally, being able to serve Japan’s other favourite drink – the highball – is a must. Try LSA’s Mia Highball glasses (£27 for four, lsa-international.com) or, for something cheaper, a set of six Duralex Prisme highballs is £11.99 at rinkit.com.

Then grab a bottle of Akashi whisky (£28.50, waitrosecellar.com), add ice, stir clockwise 13 times, add soda water, stir again and appreciate another example of elegance and simplicity in Japanese design.

What your home really needs is… a Christmas throw

At this time of year, people fall into two groups: those who believe more is more, with bright lights and decorations aplenty; and others who keep things simple, with a few holly sprigs and a carefully adorned tree.

Yuletide luxury: You could use this Alpaca Fair Isle Throw, £99.50, all year round

Yuletide luxury: You could use this Alpaca Fair Isle Throw, £99.50, all year round

But whether you’re a maximalist or a minimalist, your home will need a Christmas throw because someone in your festive bubble is bound to complain about being cold.

If glitter is your thing, you’ll like the fleece star throw from Marks & Spencer (£25, marksand spencer.com). 

Or snuggle up under Dunelm’s red cable-knit design with a fleecey inside (£60, dunelm.com).

For something more fun, Redbubble has one that reads: ‘This is my Hallmark Christmas movie watching blanket’ (£34.73, redbubble.com).

Going low-key? How about a white and grey reindeer pattern with red pompoms (£40, barkerand stonehouse.com)? 

Or this Alpaca Fair Isle Throw , £99.50, notonthe highstreet.com), which you could use all year round.

Anne Ashworth 

Categories
Headlines UK London

Inside six of the most unusual homes for sale on Rightmove

A £10million mansion with its own vineyard that produces 100,000 bottles of wine a year and a former nuclear bunker costing £50,000 feature in the most unusual homes picked by property website Rightmove.

All six of the most unique homes for sale on the property website made the list for their standout features.

Tim Bannister, of Rightmove, said: ‘It’s such a joy to be able to share these wonderfully unusual properties with the rest of the nation. 

‘From a former nuclear bunker on the south coast to an apartment with a cinema in an underground cave, each one is totally out of the ordinary.’

Here are the six most unusual properties for sale on Rightmove…

1. Former nuclear bunker, Folkestone, £50,000 

Included in the list of most unusual properties is this former Royal Observer Corps nuclear bunker in Folkestone 

The bunker has a monitoring post with rooms several metres underground, and was built by the Ministry of Defence in 1971

The bunker has a monitoring post with rooms several metres underground, and was built by the Ministry of Defence in 1971

Could you live here? The property has main road access, while the bunker remains in good structural condition

Could you live here? The property has main road access, while the bunker remains in good structural condition

Rightmove says the bunker is 'one of the most impenetrable properties' on its website

Rightmove says the bunker is ‘one of the most impenetrable properties’ on its website

The property is in an area of outstanding natural beauty, with views across the sea towards France

The property is in an area of outstanding natural beauty, with views across the sea towards France

It’s one of the most impenetrable properties on Rightmove – and this former Royal Observer Corps nuclear bunker in Folkestone is available to buy.

It has a guide price of £50,000, but it is being sold auction via Miles & Barr estate agents, with properties at auction often being sold for more than the initial asking figure.

The bunker includes a monitoring post with rooms several metres underground, and it was built by the Ministry of Defence in 1971.

It is in an area of outstanding natural beauty, opposite the North Downs Way walking path, with views across the sea towards France.

2. Two-bed flat in Nottingham, £325,000 

From outside, there is no indication of the unusual features contained within this two-bedroom flat in Nottingham

From outside, there is no indication of the unusual features contained within this two-bedroom flat in Nottingham

Steps lead down to the unusual lower ground floor flat, which is currently on the market for £325,000

Steps lead down to the unusual lower ground floor flat, which is currently on the market for £325,000

Unique entertainment space: The flat includes its own underground cave that doubles up as a private home cinema

Unique entertainment space: The flat includes its own underground cave that doubles up as a private home cinema

The flat is part of the St Marys Gate House development, which was originally built as the French Consulate

The flat is part of the St Marys Gate House development, which was originally built as the French Consulate

The cave cinema boasts reclining leather armchairs, a ventilation and heat recovery system and a sizeable wine chiller

The cave cinema boasts reclining leather armchairs, a ventilation and heat recovery system and a sizeable wine chiller

Mixing the old with the new: The flat has a modern kitchen with some clever lighting and exposed brickwork

Mixing the old with the new: The flat has a modern kitchen with some clever lighting and exposed brickwork

This two-bedroom flat includes its own underground cave that doubles up as a private home cinema.

The cave cinema boasts reclining leather armchairs, a ventilation and heat recovery system and a sizeable wine chiller.

The property is being sold via estate agents Liberty Gate, with a guide price of between £325,000 to £335,000.

3. Four-bed house, St Leonards-on-sea, £1.25m 

The perfect pad to party at home? This colourful property in East Sussex has an interesting carnival theme

The perfect pad to party at home? This colourful property in East Sussex has an interesting carnival theme

The house is being sold via M&W Sales and Lettings, with an asking price of £1.25million

The house is being sold via M&W Sales and Lettings, with an asking price of £1.25million

A colourful history: The detached house has four bedrooms, and was once a Victorian Turkish bathhouse

A colourful history: The detached house has four bedrooms, and was once a Victorian Turkish bathhouse

Bright interior design: There are chandeliers hanging from wooden beams and bright red velvet corner sofas

Bright interior design: There are chandeliers hanging from wooden beams and bright red velvet corner sofas

Fancy a game? The main living area includes its own bowling alley with a clown face light display above it

Fancy a game? The main living area includes its own bowling alley with a clown face light display above it

This colourful property in East Sussex has a carnival theme and includes its own bowling alley in the main living area.

There are chandeliers hanging from wooden beams, bright red velvet corner sofas and ‘dodgem’ artwork on the walls.

The detached house has four bedrooms, and was once a Victorian Turkish bathhouse – hence its name today is The Bath House. It is being sold via M&W Sales and Lettings, and has an asking price of £1.25million.

4. Three-bed house, London, £6.5m 

The London property was designed by Sir David Adjaye, the same architect who designed actor Ewan McGregor's home

The London property was designed by Sir David Adjaye, the same architect who designed actor Ewan McGregor’s home

Not your typical home in the capital: The property in Kings Cross has three bedrooms with unusual features

Not your typical home in the capital: The property in Kings Cross has three bedrooms with unusual features

The main bedroom suite of this London homes comes with an enclosed narrow swimming pool

The main bedroom suite of this London homes comes with an enclosed narrow swimming pool

Not a white tile in sight: The swimming pool has grey tiles with black painted ceiling and walls

Not a white tile in sight: The swimming pool has grey tiles with black painted ceiling and walls

The Kings Cross property is on the market for £6.5 million and is being sold via estate agents Sotheby's International

The Kings Cross property is on the market for £6.5 million and is being sold via estate agents Sotheby’s International

The main bedroom suite of this house in the heart of London comes with an enclosed swimming pool and private steam room.

The three-bedroom property was designed by Sir David Adjaye, the same architect who designed actor Ewan McGregor’s home.

The Kings Cross property is on the market for £6.5 million and is being sold via estate agents Sotheby’s International.

5. Six-bed mansion with a vineyard, Wales, £10m 

As well as its own vineyard, this sprawling six-bedroom mansion has an outdoor swimming pool and a tennis court

As well as its own vineyard, this sprawling six-bedroom mansion has an outdoor swimming pool and a tennis court

Plenty of open space: Ancre Hill Estates, near Monmouth, in Wales, boasts an enormous 137 acres of land

Plenty of open space: Ancre Hill Estates, near Monmouth, in Wales, boasts an enormous 137 acres of land

The vineyard is being sold as part of the property and it produces 100,000 bottles of wine a year

The vineyard is being sold as part of the property and it produces 100,000 bottles of wine a year

In the countryside: The stunning property is being sold for £10million via Savills estate agents

In the countryside: The stunning property is being sold for £10million via Savills estate agents

Ancre Hill Estates, near Monmouth, includes 29.5 acres of vines and supplies wine to some of the world's top restaurants

Ancre Hill Estates, near Monmouth, includes 29.5 acres of vines and supplies wine to some of the world’s top restaurants

The mansion includes a swimming pool surrounding by a patio with plenty of seating areas

The mansion includes a swimming pool surrounding by a patio with plenty of seating areas

Fancy owning your own vineyard? This property in Wales could fit the bill as it produces 100,000 bottles of wine a year.

Ancre Hill Estates, near Monmouth, is tucked away in the Welsh Borders and boasts an enormous 137 acres of land – including 29.5 acres of vines – and supplies some of the world’s top restaurants, including to French chef Raymond Blanc.

Ancre Hill has been recognised in some of the top international wine competitions in the world and won the Bollicine del Mondo in 2012 when its 2008 Sparkling Wine was voted the best White Sparkling Wine in the world. 

At the heart of the estate is a sprawling six-bedroom mansion, which has an outdoor swimming pool and a tennis court. The property is being sold for £10million via Savills estate agents.

6. Houseboat, London, £2m 

This luxurious houseboat once belonged to the French star Edith Piaf who used it on tours around France and Europe

This luxurious houseboat once belonged to the French star Edith Piaf who used it on tours around France and Europe

A quick translation: The houseboat is named Flamant Rose, the French for Pink Flamingo

A quick translation: The houseboat is named Flamant Rose, the French for Pink Flamingo

The boat has been based at a mooring at St Katherine's Dock marina in London since the late 1990s

The boat has been based at a mooring at St Katherine’s Dock marina in London since the late 1990s

This luxurious houseboat, named Flamant Rose – French for Pink Flamingo – once belonged to the French star Edith Piaf, who used it on tours around France and Europe.

The boat has been based at a mooring at St Katherine’s Dock marina in London since the late 1990s, and it is now available to buy for £2million via estate agents Sotheby’s International.

Categories
Headlines UK

PIERS MORGAN: I won’t do Strictly with Giovanni… that stick insect couldn’t lift a lump like me 

Tuesday, December 1

Just when I thought 2020 couldn’t possibly get any worse, terrible news reaches me that I’ve been sent to permanent social Siberia by Kirstie Allsopp.

We fell out back in March after she was caught flouting coronavirus lockdown rules by decamping her family to Devon when her husband got the virus, angering locals who wanted second-home townies to stay away to avoid bringing the disease with them.

Ms Allsopp played the woe-is-me victim over the furore, which was particularly unedifying given how many real victims the pandemic has sadly created. When I tweeted this point, she exploded with indignant, foul-mouthed fury, calling me a ‘total B*****D!’ and ‘scum’ and blocking me on Twitter.

Now it appears my erasure from her life is not just limited to social media. Asked about me by the Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine, Ms Allsopp summoned the full range of her very real delusions of regal grandeur to announce: ‘I’ll never say anything about him again. 

I won’t acknowledge him.’

The interviewer Jenny Johnston observed: ‘I suspect she’s made a little felt Piers effigy which she stabs with a needle at night.’ Obviously, I’m distraught at this development.

In fact, ironically, I haven’t been so upset since I tested negative for Covid-19.

 

Wednesday, December 2

Scotch eggs are the food of the moment, and happen to be one of my favourite ‘substantial meals’, to give them their new formal title.

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop alarm bells ringing when Holly Willoughby texted me to say: ‘Piers, so weird, I was just chatting to a guy who reckons he knows you and asked me for your number. 

I thought I’d better check with you first. He’s called Scott Chegg. Do you know him? I have a pic from his WhatsApp if you want it? X’

‘Never heard of him,’ I replied. ‘But ping me the photo and I’ll double-check.’ Ten seconds later, an image arrived of a man’s face sitting in the middle of a Scotch egg.

To say Ms Willoughby was ecstatic about catching me out with this viral prank is the understatement of the year. There were so many crying-with-laughter emojis in her reply, I’m surprised she didn’t drown in her own smug virtual tears.

 

Thursday, December 3

My Good Morning Britain colleague Ranvir Singh is lighting up Strictly Come Dancing with her stunningly good performances, prompting her dance partner Giovanni Pernice to announce that for the next series he wants me and him to be the first-ever male same-sex couple.

‘I would love to dance with him, sexy Piers,’ he said. ‘I would love to get down with him on the dancefloor and see what he’s really made of. I would destroy his confidence in a week. 

In a week we will realise “Who’s this man? What is that? Is it really Piers?” ’

My Good Morning Britain colleague Ranvir Singh (above, with Giovanni Pernice) is lighting up Strictly Come Dancing with her stunningly good performances

Hmmm. I have several thoughts about this cocky challenge.

1. I’ve already enjoyed a same-sex dance with another Italian Strictly star – Bruno Tonioli, at my 50th birthday. And Bruno’s verdict on my dancefloor moves? ‘That was sizzling Swayze in Dirty Dancing with a dash of tantalising Travolta and nifty Nureyev!’

2. Giovanni’s a 5ft 9in stick insect, and I’m a 6ft 1in lump of molten muscular gristle – and, I might add, a significantly bigger lump at the end of two wine-and-cheese-fuelled lockdowns – so I’d love to know how he intends hurling me through the air. As my habitual fat-shamer Susanna Reid said: ‘The lifts could be… interesting.’

3. I suggest Signor Giovanni watches one of my favourite movies, Rocky IV, notable for Ivan Drago sneering at Rocky Balboa: ‘I will break you!’ That didn’t end so well… for Ivan.

 

Wednesday, December 9

Given how much outstanding journalism there has been this year from so many brilliant journalists, I was chuffed to receive an ‘honourable mention’ in the Journalist Of The Year category at the British Journalism Awards.

At the online event (God, I can’t wait to never use those words again…), host Dominic Ponsford said: ‘There was praise from the judges for a journalist who felt like a modern-day Cassandra with their early and forceful warnings about the seriousness of the pandemic and who has consistently and forcefully held the Government to account while engaging a mass audience: GMB’s Piers Morgan.’

For the less scholarly among you, Cassandra was a priestess in Greek mythology handed the power of prophecy by a love-struck Apollo, but who was later cursed by him after she rejected his advances, so that no one would ever believe her accurate warnings of impending doom. 

Coincidentally, Cassandra was also reputed to be ‘astonishingly beautiful’.

 

Thursday, December 10

Talking of ancient Greece, astonishing beauty and awards, Susanna Reid is 50 today and received an unexpected birthday present when she was announced as possessor of the world’s ‘Best Bum’.

According to Harley Street cosmetic surgeon Dr Riccardo Frati – who studied myriad celebrity posteriors for his survey using the ‘Golden Ratio’ perfect-measurement system devised by Greek mathematicians (Leonardo Da Vinci used it to illustrate the optimum human male body in his iconic drawing Vitruvian Man) – Susanna has the ideal 3-2-3 ‘bottom-waist-breast’ proportions.

Of course, my arch-feminist co-presenter would normally recoil in faux horror at such shameful objectification of her body.

Susanna Reid (above) is 50 today and received an unexpected birthday present when she was announced as possessor of the world’s ‘Best Bum’

Susanna Reid (above) is 50 today and received an unexpected birthday present when she was announced as possessor of the world’s ‘Best Bum’

‘I want to be judged on my brains, not my looks,’ she regularly spits at me when I dare to comment on her appearance.

Yet oddly, when I told her she’d beaten off Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé and J-Lo to the title of world’s best backside, Susanna began dementedly punching the air and screaming jubilantly like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally: ‘YES! YES! YES!’

Happy Birthday, Susanna – you hot piece of a**. 

Categories
Headlines UK

Bird species can increase life satisfaction as much as pay rise 

Living near more bird species can increase life satisfaction as much as having a pay rise

  • Past research has suggested that expose to nature is good for mental health
  • German researchers analysed data on the life satisfaction of 26,000 adults
  • They compared this with the biodiversity in the areas in which the people lived 
  • They said 14 new local bird species is as good as getting £1,344 more a year

People get just as much extra life satisfaction from living in area with plenty of bird species as they do from getting a pay raise, a study has claimed.

Many past small-scale studies have suggested that exposure to nature is good for one’s mental health — and the current pandemic has raised interest in the outdoors.

Experts from Germany cross-referenced survey data on the life satisfaction of thousands of adults from across Europe with their exposure to nature.

They concluded that having 14 new bird species in the local area provides equal pleasure as been awarded a £1,344 annual raise. 

People get just as much extra life satisfaction from living in area with plenty of bird species as they do from getting a pay raise, a study has claimed. Pictured, a robin

‘Europeans are particularly satisfied with their lives if their immediate surroundings host a high species diversity,’ said paper author and ecologist Joel Methorst of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre.

‘According to our findings, the happiest Europeans are those who can experience numerous different bird species in their daily life, or who live in near-natural surroundings that are home to many species.’

In their study, Mr Methorst and colleagues compared data on the reported quality of life of more than 26,000 adults from across Europe with the diversity of bird species in each subject’s local area.

Birds, the researchers explained, are a good indicator of overall biological diversity and the availability of green spaces and water — and are one of the most noticeable and animate aspects of nature, especially in more urbanised settings.

‘We also examined the socio-economic data of the people that were surveyed,’ explained paper author and biologist Katrin Böhning-Gaese, also of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre. 

‘Much to our surprise, we found that avian diversity is as important for their life satisfaction as is their income,’ she added.

In fact, the team found that having 14 additional bird species in the local area gave as much satisfaction as an annual salary raise of £1,344 raise would to someone on a annual income of £13,380.

Nature, the researchers conclude, is important to the public’s well-being.

‘Biological diversity is currently undergoing a dramatic decline. This poses the risk that human well-being will also suffer from an impoverished nature,’ noted Mr Methorst. 

‘Nature conservation therefore not only ensures our material basis of life, but it also constitutes an investment in the well-being of us all,’ he concluded.

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Ecological Economics.

Categories
Headline USA

Specially-trained dogs can detect people with Covid-19 just by sniffing their armpits, study finds

Dogs can be trained to detect people infected with coronavirus by sniffing their armpits, study finds, and they are already being used in airports around the world.

Researchers from the National Veterinary School of Alfort, France, recruited six dogs previously trained to sniff out other things and re-trained them to detect Covid-19.  

Because of their famously acute sense of smell, dogs have been used to root out drugs, explosives and even successfully pick up diseases like colon cancer. 

A team of French scientists have now shown man’s best friend can also help save lives during the pandemic by spotting the virus 75 to 100 per cent of the time.

Researchers from the National Veterinary School of Alfort, France, recruited six dogs previously trained to sniff out other things and re-trained them to detect Covid-19

A number of pilot schemes involving the dogs have been trialled around the world, including in the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Finland and Australia. 

Travellers may already have seen the specially trained dogs at some airports, but the researchers are still trying to prove without a doubt that dogs can pick up the scent before the method is fully adopted and rolled out internationally.

The team behind the study hope their findings will mean dogs could be used in parts of the world without the infrastructure for expensive mass testing.

A team of French scientists have now shown man's best friend can also help save lives during the pandemic by spotting the virus 75 to 100 per cent of the time.

A team of French scientists have now shown man’s best friend can also help save lives during the pandemic by spotting the virus 75 to 100 per cent of the time.

But the animals could be used anywhere, with hopes that invasive nasal swabs could be replaced by a sweat sample taken from the armpit for a dog to sniff, experts said.

Professor Dominique Grandjean, study author, said the dogs could check a large number of people in a short space of time, adding the ‘results are good.’

‘It is a success technically and scientifically and it’s surprising because we didn’t know what we were going to have as results,’ Grandjean said.

The World Health Organisation has validated and part funded the dog trials, with the UAE the most advanced in terms of rollout of Covid-sniffing dogs. 

They have dogs in three international airports and are deploying some mobile units to go to the villages and to the people that might be more exposed to the virus.

‘For us the idea was, of course, the airports but I can imagine a small city having a couple of dogs and saying to the population ‘you can be tested whenever you want’

”You just come and put a swab under your armpit and give that to the dog and he will tell you yes or no,’ explained Grandjean.

‘The dogs would be able to do that very quickly on a large number of people.’

Professor Dominique Grandjean, study author, said the dogs could check a large number of people in a short space of time, adding the 'results are good

Professor Dominique Grandjean, study author, said the dogs could check a large number of people in a short space of time, adding the ‘results are good

Dogs could also be used where people are reluctant to have uncomfortable nasal swab tests, according to the French researchers.

During the study, started in March, the team recruited six dogs previously trained to sniff out bombs, colon cancer, or were used in search and rescue missions.

They then collected sweat samples from 177 people – 95 with Covid-19 and 82 without – and then placed the samples inside cones for the dogs to sniff.

In trials, the dogs were often able to pick out the infected sweat when they were part of a line-up of mock and negative samples.

During the study, started in March, the team recruited six dogs previously trained to sniff out bombs, colon cancer, or were used in search and rescue missions

During the study, started in March, the team recruited six dogs previously trained to sniff out bombs, colon cancer, or were used in search and rescue missions

Although the published study was just a ‘proof of concept’ and cannot be taken as absolute proof, Grandjean and his team have now carried out further studies to validate their results and have yet more planned for early 2021.

They have also issued a ‘practical guide’ to other academics to help others in their research and are building up a set of ‘international training standards’ for dogs.

Grandjean added: ‘We have been working with lots of countries. I think we have 20 countries working for us. It’s amazing, really amazing.’

The latest study was published in the online journal PLOS ONE.

DOGS FIRST BECAME DOMESTICATED ABOUT 20,000 to 40,000 YEARS AGO

A genetic analysis of the world’s oldest known dog remains revealed that dogs were domesticated in a single event by humans living in Eurasia, around 20,000 to 40,000 years ago.

Dr Krishna Veeramah, an assistant professor in evolution at Stony Brook University, told MailOnline: ‘The process of dog domestication would have been a very complex process, involving a number of generations where signature dog traits evolved gradually.

‘The current hypothesis is that the domestication of dogs likely arose passively, with a population of wolves somewhere in the world living on the outskirts of hunter-gatherer camps feeding off refuse created by the humans.

‘Those wolves that were tamer and less aggressive would have been more successful at this, and while the humans did not initially gain any kind of benefit from this process, over time they would have developed some kind of symbiotic [mutually beneficial] relationship with these animals, eventually evolving into the dogs we see today.’

Categories
Headline USA

Geminid meteor shower this weekend will see more than 100 multi-colored shooting stars per hour

Skygazers delight! Annual Geminid meteor shower set for this weekend will see more than 100 multi-colored shooting stars per hour streaking through the sky at 78,000mph

  • The annual Geminid meteor shower is set to peak December 13 into the 14th
  • Viewers could see more than 100 multi-colored shooting stars per hour
  • They will shine yellow, green, blue and red as they streak through the sky 
  • The Northern Hemisphere will have the best viewing starting around 8pm ET
  • The Southern Hemisphere will have the same views after midnight local time

More than 100 multi-colored shooting stars are set to streak across the night sky this weekend during the peak of the Geminid meteor shower.

The cosmic show will occur between December 4 and December 17, with the best nights for viewing on the evening of December 13 and into morning on the following day.

NASA says the Northern Hemisphere will be able to see the stunning event all throughout the night of the 13th, with activity peaking around 8pm ET, and after midnight for viewers in the Southern Hemisphere.

The stars while shine bright yellow, blue, green and red as they travel some 78,000 mph and those that shine the brightest will leave a glowing trail along their path.

More than 100 multi-colored shooting stars are set to streak across the night sky this weekend during the peak of the Geminid meteor shower. Pictured is the Geminid meteor shower seen from Pawna lake near Lonavala on December 14, 2017 in Mumbai, India

Diana Hannikainen, observing editor at Sky & Telescope, said in a statement: ‘It’s worth braving the cold during this shower’s peak.’

‘The Geminids offer the best display of ‘shooting stars’ all year.’

‘If you’ve got a clear, dark sky with no light pollution, you might see a meteor streak across the sky every minute or two from 10pm until dawn on the night of the peak.’

Geminids are a trail of dust left behind the comet 3200 Phaethon several thousands of years ago and appears to radiate from a point in the constellation Gemini.

The cosmic show will occur between December 4 and December 17, with the best nights for viewing on the evening of December 13 and into morning on the following day. Pictured is the event over Arizona in 2017

The cosmic show will occur between December 4 and December 17, with the best nights for viewing on the evening of December 13 and into morning on the following day. Pictured is the event over Arizona in 2017

The shower was first reported in 1862, but it was not until 1983 did scientists determine Phaethon was the source.

The parent comet is only about three miles across and travels around the sun every 1.4 years and sheds its dust every time it nears Earth’s parent star- the dust is the size of peas.

‘If it’s not cloudy, get away from bright lights, lie on your back, and look up. Remember to let your eyes get adjusted to the dark – you’ll see more meteors that way,’ NASA shard in a statement.

The stars while shine bright yellow, blue, green and red as they travel some 78,000 mph and those that shine the brightest will leave a glowing trail along their path. Pictured is an image of the shower taken in 2018 over over Russky Island off Vladivostok

The stars while shine bright yellow, blue, green and red as they travel some 78,000 mph and those that shine the brightest will leave a glowing trail along their path. Pictured is an image of the shower taken in 2018 over over Russky Island off Vladivostok

‘Keep in mind, this adjustment can take approximately 30 minutes. Don’t look at your cell phone screen, as it will ruin your night vision!’

The meteors are also some of the fastest – they speed through the night sky 1,000 times quicker than a cheetah, 250 times faster than the speediest car in the world and more than 40 times faster than a speeding bullet.

‘The Geminids produce a good number of meteors most years, but they’re made even better this year as the shower’s peak coincides with a nearly new moon,’ NASA stated.

‘So here’s wishing you clear skies to catch some shooting stars.’