In winter, most of us just want to stay home cosy and warm. However, it is the perfect time for some outdoor activities that will make you feel alive and help you keep the resolutions of fitness and healthy living you took at the start of the year. Doing some sport is also the best way to beat this feeling of sadness and fatigue sometimes brought by the lack of sun and light. Put your trainers on and go out, you will discover that the winter is a great season!


The most obvious winter activity, you can practice it in the UK resorts. There are also many ski centres in the country where you can learn the basics before taking on the slopes. A week of skiing, a long week-end or even just a day if you're leaving close to some resorts is the perfect winter activity. You will also love the landscapes and the quiet mountains.


This discipline of rock climbing is practiced on short rocks without ropes but a crash pad. Because the problems are harder and more technical, the friction of the rock is crucial. For this reason, bouldering is mostly done in winter.


Nobody wants to run when it is hot so winter is a good time to get your trainers out and hit the road. A run after work, or on the way back home, is a good way to stretch your legs after sitting all day. You can also forget about work and feel your blood pumping. You will enjoy even more going back in a warm home.

Hill Walking

The countryside in winter is so different that it is worth to spend a day of your week-end once in a while to go for a walk. There are health benefits as well as rewards to see the wildlife coping with the cold. Follow these walks with a cup of hot cocoa and some cakes to nicely round up your Sunday.
The conventional things to put on top of your Christmas tree would be a star or an angel. In this post I want to find the less-conventional items that finish off that wonderfully-decorated tree.
Sometimes the animals just want to be apart of it, too!
The "Ecce Homo" Restoration in a star
StarSHIP on the top
Another Star Wars tree-topper: The Death Star!
A T-Rex. Why not?
Perhaps this post has helped inspire you to express yourself when it comes to the Christmas decorations.. What will you be placing at the top of the tree this year?
James Bond is one of the UK's biggest exports. The 22 official films – nearly all filmed in Britain – have grossed over $5.6billion since Dr No was first released in 1966, and the MI6 spy continues to be one of the biggest ambassadors for British culture. Here's five of his best cinematic outings – and what they say about the Brits.
MI6 Building, London


Why it's one of the best:
Brosnan's debut in the role was the perfect transition film, post-Cold War. After the Berlin Wall fell, many questioned whether there was still a place for 007. Brosnan silenced doubters with a towering performance and asserted Britain's place as a country still willing to kick some considerable ass.

Bond/Villain rating:
Pierce Brosnan as Bond: 8/10
Sean Bean as 006: 7/10

A location you can visit:
The grand courtyard of Somerset House in London doubles as the central square of St Petersberg, and is open to the public all year round.

Casino Royale

Why it's one of the best:
Daniel Craig defied critics who thought he looked too blonde/short/pouty with a blistering first appearance. Once again, Bond has to reassert himself in an ever-changing world, and meets his intellectual match in Eva Green's Vesper – a Bond girl for the 21st century.

Bond/Villain rating:
Daniel Craig as Bond: 9/10
Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre: 7/10

A location you can visit:
Some scenes with M are set in the Houses of Parliament, in Westminster – an essential stop on the tourist trail for visitors as well as study abroad students taking an English course at a London school.

The Spy Who Loved Me

Why it's one of the best:
Roger Moore was one of the more playful cinematic Bonds, and that is perhaps epitomised best in this classic pre-credits sequence, where 007 skis off a cliff and opens a Union Jack parachute. A perfect blend of over-the-top action and cheeky patriotic fun.

Bond/Villain rating:
Roger Moore as Bond: 7/10
Richard Kiel as Jaws: 9/10

A location you can visit:
Pinewood Studios – where nearly all Bond films were shot – can be visited as part of an organised James Bond tour.


Why it's one of the best:
Perhaps the quintessential Bond film, Goldfinger has everything. The gadgets, the cars, the women, and the ultimate villain in Auric Goldfinger, played by German actor Gert Fröbe – whose lines had to be dubbed due to his thick accent.

Bond/Villain rating:
Sean Connery as Bond: 10/10
Gert Fröbe as Goldfinger: 9/10

A location you can visit:
Stoke Park House – now a country club and hotel resort – played host to our first encounter with legendary henchman Oddjob, who beheads a statue with his steel-tipped hat.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Why it's one of the best:
Upon release, Australian actor George Lazenby was widely panned as a paltry replacement for Sean Connery, and he never returned to the series. But recent years have seen his single entry re-evaluated, and many consider it one of the greatest.

Bond/Villain rating:
George Lazenby as Bond: 6/10
Telly Savalas as Blofeld: 8/10

A location you can visit:
The Royal College Of Arms building, the official repository of British coats of arms, can be visited at Queen Victoria St in London's financial district. This district is close to many of the top language schools like, so you could go for a visit after class and see the building Bond entered back in 1969, to be given his own coat of arms.
Resource box

James Bond Tour of London

A guided tour of locations, including Pinewood Studios.

The best Bond films
The Telegraph's writers pick their favourites.

Live like James Bond
Visit Britain lists some glamorous 007-esque activities.
Cocktails are usually synonymous of summer and long nights in sunny countries, but there is no reasons to not having a cocktail whenever you want. But as much as our food habits change with the seasons, so should be the drinks. The good news is that there are cocktails for every seasons, so here are some of the best for the autumn.

Mulled Wine

This might not be considered like a cocktail by purists but it is still a great autumn party drink and contains two types of alcohol: wine and brandy. You can find spices ready to mix with the alcohol, but mulled is quite easy to make. In a pot, mix a bottle of red wine with 60ml of brandy, 8 cloves, 80g of honey, 3 cinnamon sticks and 2 tsp of ground ginger. Cook on medium heat for 25-30 minutes and serve hot.


A classic variation of the Martini when you need a bit more fire in your mouth. The key ingredient here is whisky. The original one used for a Manhattan is rye whiskey, but the cocktail works with any other whisky. Put 2 oz of whisky, ½ oz of sweet vermouth, and 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters in a mixing glass with ice, stir, and served with a Maraschino cherry.

Hot Apple Toddy

Cloves - A key ingredient
Another autumnal variation, this time on the hot toddy. This will warm you up on a cold drizzly night and get you in the mood for the coming festive season. You need some honey to coat a cup or coffee glass. Then pour 2 oz of whisky or apple brandy, and fill with hot apple cider. Garnish the glass with a lemon wedge, a cinnamon stick and a couple of cloves.
Coffee is one of the most drunk beverages on the planet, and for many of us, it is an addiction. There are so many ways to appreciate coffee, whether it is an espresso for a shot of caffeine in the morning, a latte or a cappuccino for a smooth break in the afternoon, or a café-crème outside a French bar. So where do the millions of kilos of coffee that goes into our daily consumption?
Coffee beans come in two major types, Robusta and Arabica and are counted per bags of 6o kilos. In 2010-2011, the top 5 producers of coffee are from three different continents, which illustrates the variety that coffee offers. It could come as a surprise that they are not all from South America since coffee is usually associated with Colombia. But Colombia only comes third (with 9,500,000 bags) behind Vietnam (18,725,000 bags) and Brazil which tops the list with an impressive 54,500,000 bags, about 25% of the world's coffee! In fact Brazil has been the top coffee producer for more than 150 years. Indonesia and India complete the top 5.
Brazil not only tops the overall coffee beans productions, it is also the biggest producer of Arabica beans, and the second of Robusta beans. The popularity of the brazilian coffee is specially due to its low acidity, the lowest of all.
But if you are a coffee lover, don't stop at the top 5 producers and taste as many coffee beans as possible. Peruvian, Jamaican, Costa-Rican, Guatemalan, Hawaiian, Kenyan... there are many flavours, roasts and styles to discover with coffee! Drink it or even cook it...
The success of Manchester City last season led to inevitable accusations that they had bought the title thanks to cash from their new owner. City, however, are only one of many clubs in the Premiership that have relied on a rich injection of cash from a wealthy benefactor to fund a spending spree that has led to sporting success. Is such a business model inevitable? Is it advisable? Is it desirable? And is it even sustainable?

Risky business and costly players

All the statistical know-how and technical wizardry of investment analysts such as SunGard APT ( could help you to conclude that buying a football club is a risky business. You can read up on calculating risk for investments with this additional information.

Firoz Kassam, former owner of Oxford United, famously commented that ‘if anybody wants to go into football thinking it's a business then that is a big mistake, and I would say don't do it. Football is a hobby; it's not about making money.’

Recent figures show even Premier League clubs still failing to show significant profits, despite record attendances and ever-increasing broadcasting rights. In lower leagues the situation is worse, with clubs often spending at least a third more than they are actually earning.

The main spend, it will come as no surprise, is on ever escalating player’s wages and transfer fees of astronomical proportions.

Kassam outspokenly labelled as madness the situation where a player in the second or third division can command a salary that would have big city bankers looking askance at their latest pay check. 

The latest analysis reveals that players’ wages alone account for about 80% of top clubs' turnover, and can be over 100% of turnover for smaller clubs. To put this in perspective, any business operating outside of football would be considered to be in trouble if its wage bill rose to over 65% of its turnover.

Wealthy benefactors
The ascendancy of clubs like Manchester United, and more recently Chelsea and Manchester City, has proved beyond doubt that a club that benefits from a wealthy benefactor can win titles. But at what cost?

United finds itself straddled with debt and other clubs must literally pay the price for the inflationary effect on wages that a sudden injection of cash has. UK football’s increasing reliance on what amounts to a rich fan’s charity rather than any sustainable business acumen has seen more than 40 insolvencies from clubs in lower leagues since 1992. What can be done?

Various rescue plans and new business models have been proposed for football. The following address the wage situation without confronting ownership. A wage cap on players would free up much-needed investment in other areas from ailing clubs.

Having larger teams invest in academies hosted at lower league clubs would provide a pool of players for the Premier League and new players for lower leagues.

There is a model that has already been proved to encourage financial stability and massive investment in grassroots football. The German Bundesliga's 50+1 model addresses ownership by ensuring that majority shareholders in football clubs are its supporters.

Since its introduction in Germany average attendances are up to 42,000 (20% higher than in the UK), ticket prices are 50% cheaper, clubs are ran profitably and there is always a good variety that win the major trophies.

It seems that in business models for football, as with technical know-how for cars, the Germans might be saying ‘vorsprung durch technik.’


The latest Sport Business Group Report on UK football

Review the highlights of the latest review of the state of the UK’s football business

Wealthy benefactors and UK football

Read an incisive account from Forbes of the impact of wealthy benefactors on UK football

Why debt-laden football needs restructuring

Find out what the Guardian proposes needs doing to make the football business sustainable

It’s well-known that the weather in Great Britain is a bit irregular; you can experience the four seasons all in one day or have a great summer- not very hot, but sunny and with a perfect temperature- or simply see through the window the rain that doesn’t stop falling.

Despite all the above, you can’t miss the great beaches in England. In this post we are going to talk about 3 beaches which are at the very top.


It is located in the city of South Sields, Tyne and Wear, near Newcastle. Each summer this beach receives the international recognition of the blue flag which is granted to those beaches that help to protect the environment.

Lots of people enjoy the summer in this location, but it doesn’t always guarantee the sun. The beach has fine sand with a little level difference. Here you can visit the Roman Fortress of Arbeia and the Whitley Bay lighthouse as well.


Probably the city with the most famous beach in England. Thousands of people come every summer because the sun shines here more than usual in England.

If you want to see people on the beach and several activities to do, the best place to get the sun is close to the Brighton Pier. Besides, there are some fish and chips shops to have a lunch which are delicious. By contrast, if you prefer to spend a relaxing day on the beach, the best place for you is Hove. It is quiet and perfect to have a swim.

There are lots of restaurants and pubs to enjoy an ice cold beer and it’s one of the best places to organize stag and hen parties.


Possibly one of the most beautiful English beaches. It’s a beach with reddish sands which is located between Paignton and Brixham in Torbay. It has great views to the Toy Bay.

Here the water is shallow and calm- a great place for small children. It’s a great place to come with the car thanks to the huge car park on the back of the beach.

Although there are some restaurants to eat and shops where you can buy some food or gifts, the place is very peaceful, the silence is particularly enjoyable here because of the far away roads and cities.

Northern Ireland offers loads of great spots for a loved-up getaway, that won’t break the bank. Here are a few ideas.

Northern Ireland has plenty of places for a romantic getaway - here are some of the best.

If you’ve met someone through one of the many dating sites in the UK, and you’re looking for a relaxing city break together, why not try Belfast? As those who are finding compatible singles in Belfast with eHarmony will tell you, Northern Ireland’s capital is the ideal place to explore with a significant other.
When it comes to hotels, Ten Square, recently named Hotel of the Month by the British Airways in-flight magazine, is right in the heart of the city’s shopping, entertainment and tourist attractions. Alternatively, the Malmaison Hotel has a hint of decadence in its décor, giving guests the feel of being inside a movie set. If you’re looking to up your budget, this hotel is definitely the place to go.
Belfast also has plenty in the way of shops, bars and restaurants to enjoy on your break. From market stalls to high-end shops, every visitor to Belfast will find something they can enjoy.

If you’re looking for a smaller city in which to make your romantic retreat, Londonderry has a rich cultural history with a wide variety of museums, galleries and theatres. Take the Inner City Guided Walking Tour to discover the city’s beautiful buildings or explore the waterside on a Cruise Boat tour.
For somewhere relaxing to stay, The Roe Park Radisson Resort is situated a short drive away from the city with a wealth of leisure activities to take part in. Golfing, a fitness suite and spa, and luxurious rooms are just some of what the resort has to offer. Enjoy the beautiful views of the Sperrins from your room and taste the fine cuisine during a romantic meal in the hotel restaurant.

Fermanagh Lakelands
The waterways and stunning backdrops of the Fermanagh Lakelands make it the perfect place for a romantic break. With historical landmarks and state-of-the-art activity centres, the Lakelands are a fantastic place to explore with your loved one.

The 5* Lough Erne Resort is situated in the heart of the Fermanagh Lakelands and offers a sophisticated holiday experience for happy couples. Many luxurious rooms and suites are available, along with two golf courses, an authentic Thai spa and a variety of fantastic dining experiences with menus composed by award-winning chef, Noel McMeel.
Alternatively, why not hire a holiday cottage with your significant other? The Fermanagh Lakelands are the perfect place to do this where you’ll be surrounded by some of the most inspiring scenery in Northern Ireland.

Causeway, Coast and Glens
The landscape of deep silent glens and lush forest parks makes the coastline of Northern Ireland a great place to explore. Climb the stones of the famous Giant’s Causeway, an area steeped in myth and mystery. The spectacular cliff top views from Mussenden Temple are also not to be missed.

For a place to stay, the lovely Harmony Hill Country House dates back to the 1760s when it was the home of the owner of a corn mill. Set in a beautiful four-acre garden, you can see the crashing Atlantic waves of the Anterim coast from the rooms of this relaxing guest house.
Whether you’ve met through friends or through the eHarmony UK dating website, taking a holiday with your significant other is a great idea. Northern Ireland has plenty to choose from when it comes to romantic breaks, and you won’t have to spend a fortune on airfares. Enjoy! 

Resource box

Discover Northern Ireland
Official tourism website for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Lonely Planet
Travel guide for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Wikitravel
Travel advice for Northern Ireland

It seems that in the UK at the moment small-business is actually big business indeed! There is an array of tax breaks on offer to encourage investment in fledgling companies and the red tape that has, in the past, tied up many small businesses is being cut away bit by bit.

With pop-up shops popping up everywhere, independent coffee shops giving the corporate chains a roasting and the smartphone m-commerce sector looking mobile it seems there has never been a better time for new businesses to get established and grow.

Here are five small-business trends that have made a name for themselves and continue to offer opportunities for UK entrepreneurs.

1. Cupcakes

Cupcakes have grown up. Once the preserve of kids’ birthday parties, the cupcake is now in demand for any adult social occasions and those in the know, with a little bit of clever marketing, are making very healthy returns. The icing on the cupcake business is that it takes very little to get started but offers fantastic margins.

These sweet margins can be found on single impulse purchases and larger batch sales for events. With just some basic ingredients, an oven and a label printer.

2. Social gaming

With the ever-growing popularity of Facebook those who can find their niche stand to make some serious money. Zynga created Farmville and was recently valued at a cool $1 billion, while UK firm Playfish caught the eye of gaming gods EA, who paid $400 million for it, after the success of just two Facebook games.

The market remains highly competitive with a number of Korean start-ups entering but big wins are still there. Innovative gambling and betting apps and games have their share of success stories and the market is far from saturated yet.

3. Smartphone repairs

Around half the UK population owns a smartphone, and with the high cost of each unit, people are happy to get them repaired if needs be. There are a number of business models for smartphone repair businesses in the UK – from online only to retail premises – but keeping up with an ever-changing market is vital.

4. Independent coffee shops

The UK coffee shop market looks set to grow by 25% in the next few years. UK coffee sales were already at £2.1 billion last year which represented a huge 10% growth on 2010. An almost gut-reaction from the UK public against the preponderance of chain coffee sellers has seen the rise of independents.

In London alone last year 35 independent coffee shops opened against 56 chains, a sure sign that small business start-ups are beginning to catch up.

5. Crafts

The UK’s rediscovered love of all things handmade is a great business opportunity for the crafty entrepreneur. Jewellery making, ceramics, glass-blowing, textiles – as long as it is handmade it will find a market.

Getting it to a wider audience requires little more than the ability to up your production capacities and calling on Southeastlabels’ barcode printing services. Crafts are undoubtedly the perfect business to start off part-time, from home with very low overheads so you can test the waters and learn your lessons before you take the plunge and make your splash.

Resource box

Be inspired by start-up success
StartUp Britain is a national campaign by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs that celebrates and inspires small-businesses in the UK.

London entrepreneurs
Read views and news from London entrepreneurs.

Advice and tips for UK start-ups
Get your questions answered and sound advice on everything from opportunities to finance.

Why people volunteer is a question that has been perplexing psychologists for years. As with most things human-related the answer is rather complex; it combines a need to ‘do something useful’ with the achievement of personal goals and the urge to see new places and meet new people.

A further motivation is increasingly being given, especially by younger volunteers. This relates to the use of a placement as a career boost – gaining experience that will put them ahead of the game in the competition for paid employment.

Testing the water

Turning up at an interview and claiming to be ‘passionate’ about a particular role is difficult if you’ve never experienced the role. Volunteering allows you to try out different careers, without having to commit to them full-time.

Employers are more likely to take someone on who has some previous experience, and who can confidently say that a particular career path is one they wish to follow. Voluntary work is especially useful if you wish to follow a career that is particularly competitive, such as medicine, conservation, advertising or fashion. Look into projects abroad reviews for more information and feedback from those who have tried the programs.

New skills

Picking up new skills while in paid employment can be difficult. Most companies primarily pay people to work, not learn. In a voluntary placement you are able to, and expected to, learn from others. Most voluntary roles are shaped by the volunteer – those with motivation can come away with a whole set of new skills. For example, a medical student on elective in Ghana will be able to enjoy a great deal of responsibility by working at an understaffed clinic.


Working for free shows commitment. It also shows that you love the work, irrespective of financial compensation. In stressful and relatively low paid jobs, such as nursing or teaching, the employee must truly enjoy their work in order to succeed and stay motivated. Previous voluntary experience shows an employer that you are such as person. 


Volunteering is a great way to build useful contacts. Working within an organisation gives you access to key members of staff, and the opportunity to impress them. As a volunteer you can also learn how to improve your networking skills through observing others.

By diligent working, you can sometimes secure a paid position. You will be the first to hear about new vacancies and may already know how to do the job exactly as it needs to be done. By volunteering you may also find that you are recommended for positions at other companies.
Resource box
Projects Abroad offers a range of diverse volunteering opportunities

Volunteer Canada
Volunteer Canada is the national voice for volunteerism in Canada

Government of Canada
Guide to voluntary work for young people