One in every office

One in every office

Christopher Walker No Comments

There are hours spent in the office, days, weeks and years go by during which time we sit by colleagues who can sometimes really annoy us. There is always going to be office politics and there will always be those few individuals that get up our nose.

The person who is always too hot or too cold and likes to mess with the thermostat or air conditioning constantly.

Taking calls on speakerphone so that everyone in the office has to hear that conversation even though they’ve got their own calls to take.

The lunch thief – it is so surprising that grown men and women sneak into the fridge and steal food but it happens a lot and it’s ridiculous. Grow up people!

People who always moan and are so negative about everything that it brings you down too. Some colleagues to like to play the eternal victim and make working life a soul-destroying experience.

The gossiping whisperers who start as soon as someone leaves the room. It’s not nice and it’s not school, so again – Grow up people!

The stomper aka the huffer – whenever things don’t go their way, off they go slamming everything they can lay their hands on and nearly ripping the door of its hinges. Unless you’re a brain surgeon or an astronaut, nothing’s that important right? For a range of office chairs, visit


Image credit

The colleague that talks so loudly that you can’t concentrate on anything else. It is deafening and self-centred as they want the whole office to hear under the guise of just chatting to you. Give them their own show but not in the workplace.

There is always one person who is always asking for help for the same issue instead of taking the time to learn it properly like you had to or the office hoarder who empties the supplies cupboard but has it all in their bottom drawer.

The one who brings in elaborate and horrendously smelly things to eat at their desk and using the last of the coffee or tea and not replacing it.

This will sound incredibly grumpy but the one person who is always doing something incredible for charity, like the London Marathon or sky-jumping. If you’ve sponsored them once, you’ve sponsored them a thousand times. Have a word with their boss because it’s clear that they have too much time on their hands!

Best places to live

Christopher Walker No Comments

A recent survey has revealed where the most desirable places to live are and some of them are quite surprising as the houses prices there are relatively cheap compared to other locations. Coastal towns did very well so let’s take a look at who the winners are:

The least expensive place to buy a house that features in the survey is Pembroke in Wales. It rated among the most desirable places to live and has an average house price of just £169,969.

At the other end of the scale is Salcombe in Devon, which also made the top flight but has an average house price just below what you would expect to pay in London. At a cost of £635,083 this must be quite an exclusive location indeed.

The Lake District scored well and people surveyed said they desired the wonderful views with Ambleside and Keswick getting a mention.

The towns that made the top ten were:

Woolacombe, South West

Callington, South West

St Ives, South West

Keswick, North West

Pembroke, Wales

Padstow, South West

Salcombe, South West

Ambleside, North West

Newquay, South West

The top spot went to the Isle of Skye and it’s clear that those surveyed had a strong desire to escape the rat race and settle somewhere with rugged beauty and attractive harbour towns. Not one town or city in the South East or London region made the top ten but the South West proved extremely popular. For Gloucester Estate Agents, visit


Image credit

So what factors determine the best place to live?

Affordability is probably going to be top of the list in deciding the best location for your budget. Employment opportunities will vary depending on region so this will influence your decision making. Crime rates are another consideration and will affect things like insurance premiums so it’s worth checking out before you move. Depending on your family circumstances, you may not want to move too far from your existing network of family and friends. If you have children then the local education system will be of interest to you as well.

If socializing and culture is important to you then you will need somewhere with a bit of life and plenty of things to see and do. Transport options and the length of any possible commute will also be crucial factors in any decision. Local healthcare facilities are another thing you might want to know about before making a move.

Did you know that you should never wash your jeans…?

Christopher Walker No Comments

Although denim seems to be one of the hardest wearing materials possible for clothing, experts actually advise that you should never wash your jeans. This is because action of the wash can damage the fabric permanently. You can still clean areas with a damp sponge for spot clean, but the jeans will always look better if you keep them out of the washer.


Image Credit

Many people will be disgusted to think of never washing their jeans. However, the usual frequency of washing after every wear is just not necessary. Jeans can of course become dirty or smelly from outdoor wear and they will need a clean at some point. Just make sure you wash them on a low temperature and on a gentle setting, and hold off as long as you can before succumbing to the washing machine.

Achieving that lived-in look

If you can stand it, leave your new jeans for at least six months before washing. This will give the dye time to wear in and start looking good. Every movement you make affects the denim and the indigo dye. So when you do come to wash them, the dye will wear off a little more on the worn parts, giving your jeans a great lived-in look. Everyone loves denim jeans, whatever their job, style or age and jeans are popular all over the world, so knowing how to keep them in great condition is a global concern!

Wherever you buy your jeans from, you will want them to look their best. Whether you buy womens jeans online, at a retailer such as, or from a physical shop, there are tricks to ensure your denim looks top notch and smell good, without washing them every week. Some people swear by putting them in the freezer to kill germs. Another option is to leave them outside in the sun, or spritz them with a neutraliser spray.

Hand washing for longer life

Perhaps the best tip is to avoid the washing machine and use a gentle hand wash instead. You can still spin the jeans to get rid of excess water. Jeans look better and last longer if you don’t overdo the washing, but a hand wash will preserve their colour for longer as it is always cooler and less aggressive than the machine.

Who killed Christmas?

Christopher Walker No Comments

The English Civil War that took place between 1642 and 1651 effectively killed off Christmas for a time. As it is today, Christmas was a major celebration up until 1642. Englishmen and women would take part in many traditional pastimes and during the twelve days of Christmas, churches would be decorated with rosemary, holly and ivy. Gifts were given at New Year and boxes of goods were handed out to servants and the poor.


Image credit

People feasted on roast beef, minced pies and Christmas ale and indulged in dancing, singing and acting out plays. It really was a merry time for all, just like our special celebrations at home today made even more special by creating our own bespoke decor featuring designer Christmas fabrics. Such merriment did include drunkenness and promiscuity  but then Christmas has always been a time for shaking off stresses and letting your hair down. Particularly for the impoverished during this era. However, this is the exactly the kind of behaviour that the Puritans wanted to put a stop to.

Protestants thought that so much merriment and gluttony was all a bit too Catholic as well, as Christmas was a big celebration for Catholics who enjoyed dancing and gambling. The gentry were also being noticed for their ‘great Christmasses’ and so as the 1640’s approached, many English Protestants thought Christmas had all the trappings of popery and was indeed anti-Christian.

During the Civil War, the Puritans decided to abolish the celebration of Christmas and ban the customs but this proved difficult due to people’s deep rooted love for them. In January 1645 a new rule came into force that said ‘festival days’ were no longer to be continued. Thankfully, we can have as much merriment as we want these days and decorate to our heart’s content. Why not take a really tradition approach this year and make your own decorations using Christmas designer fabrics.


Image credit

In June 1647 came another edict abolishing the feasts of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun. Oliver Cromwell ordered that shops stay open on 25th December and a number of people attending church services on this day were taken into custody.

The Parliamentarians had banned the high point of the English year and this lead to a massive amount of resentment. Any hopes by the Royalists were again dashed in 1646 as Charles I’s forces drifted away. A writer at the time predicted that the collapse of the King’s rule had indeed killed Christmas. In 1647 there were even pro-Christmas riots at Norwich and Ipswich. The worst trouble occurred in Canterbury when shops that opened on Christmas Day were smashed up and rioters took control of the city. Such was the size of the disturbance that it even influenced a series of uprisings starting part of the Second Civil War.

It was only with the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, that Christmas was brought back to life, much to the joy of a great deal of people.


Image credit

I will survive

Christopher Walker No Comments

So you’ve been dropped into the coldest place on Earth and need to survive. Sounds extreme? Well, the people of Siberia deal with this on a daily basis so how do they do it? 65% of Russia sits on permafrost meaning the frozen ground can go down as far as 1500m. Even in the summer months, it takes a long time to thaw and so growing food can only take place in a short space of time. With temperatures reaching as low as –42C, it can be very difficult to operate in a normal way.

For inhabitants of such inhospitable regions, going outside is only attempted if it is absolutely necessary. Fur hats and long coats are the ‘must have’ clothing items. Who cares about fashion when you just need to stay alive? This kind of cold can cause skin to hurt within minutes, nostrils will freeze and toes and fingers are very exposed to frostbite if not covered adequately. For some families in this region, preparing to go outside can take 15 minutes of wrapping up preparation. At least they don’t have to worry about keeping their food frozen. For commercial refrigeration ideas, visit


Image credit

In the Russian village of Oymyakon, the coldest inhabited place on Earth, no food can grow so the locals live off reindeer or horse meat. Just don’t tell Santa Claus! Other issues that occur include pen ink freezing and spectacle freezing to people’s faces. Batteries can instantly lose power and mobile phones just flat out don’t work.

If you found yourself living in such a place then this clever tip will help –  you would need to leave your car running all day for fear of it not starting again. There are travel firms that offer people the chance to visit the area and experience the conditions firsthand.  Be aware that there are few conveniences here and many homes still have outdoor toilets!


Image credit

Hypothermia and frostbite are real risks here. In extreme cold, the blood will divert from the skin to protect the body’s core and vital organs. If blood is gone too long, then cells start to die and this is how extremities can be lost to frostbite. Normal body temperature is 37 degrees celsius and below 36 the cold feelings intensify and shivering will begin. At 35 skin feels numb and grows paler due to descreased blood flow.  Moving air and wet conditions are even more perilous due to the ‘wind chill factor’. This increases the amount of heat loss and so air appears colder than it really is. The combination of very cold and very windy therefore is particularly dangerous.

Bone-chilling temperatures will decrease body function so that it becomes hard even to tie a shoe-lace properly. Nerve cells that transmit impulses slow down and so muscle control is less effective. Shivering, however, is useful. Our muscles contract and shivering may seem a useless by product of this but does, in actual fact, produce heat and helps to warm us up.


Image credit

So if you find yourself in an extreme coldness survival situation, there are 4 main principles to keep warm:

Keep clothing clean as mud and dirt will reduce your clothing’s insulation value

Avoid overheating and sweating as once you cool down the wetness evaporates and steals hotter molecules.

Wear your clothing loose and in layers. This applies to shoes as well as tightness restricts blood flow and it’s this blood flow you need to keep extremities warm.

Stay dry – try to remember the above point about cold water and sweat greatly reducing the heat and insulation of your clothing.

FE for me!

Christopher Walker No Comments

Iron is probably not something you give much thought to but it is, in fact, an incredible substance. It is found everywhere in the universe, in stars and the Sun and is believed to be a major part of the Earth’s core. Amazing that this is also such a vital element in the make up of our blood.

There was even a period in human history called The Iron Age around 1200 BC. This was the time that humans first started using iron metal to build and craft with. In fact, Ancient Egyptians had already begun using iron which they probably found in meteorites. They made tools and jewelry with it. Early Asian civilizations also used iron and a pillar made from iron still stands after 1,600 years and has been dated to 415 AD.


Image credit

By the time of the Romans, iron had become a part of everyday. An historian of the time commented that iron was used in houses, wars, murders and robberies. He was discussing the use of new weapons and winged weapons that had come about due to the newly discovered use of iron.

The largest iron resources can be found in China, Russia, Brazil, Canada, Australia and India and the substance is used for so many things such as:

  • Automotive
  • Packaging
  • Shipping
  • Electrical equipment
  • Appliances
  • Utensils
  • Transportation (rail)
  • Industrial equipment
  • Construction

Iron is found in abundance out in the world but also found inside us, in our blood. Iron levels are crucial for maintaining the health of red blood cells and a lack of iron can result in anemia. To cure the effects of anemia, a diet rich in iron and liquid iron supplements will help greatly. Why do pregnant women use liquid iron supplements? Anemia can often occur during pregnancy as the body’s natural store of iron is now being drawn on by the foetus as well.


Image credit

The body uses extra blood for the mother and the baby and helps to move oxygen from the mother’s lungs to her baby’s. That is why having a good level of iron is essential for the health and well-being of both. For a substance that you may not have thought about much, it really is used and needed absolutely everywhere.


How to Clean Carpet Tiles

Christopher Walker No Comments

Tiles are a fantastic flooring solution for areas of your home which require an easy-clean, hard-wearing surface. Try them in your playroom, garage or hallway. They are incredibly easy to maintain and clean, so they are a durable and practical option.


Image Credit


If you have a steam-cleaner, you can use it on your tiles. However, this is not the best option because water may leak down the cracks between the tiles. If the water does not dry sufficiently quickly, it could cause mildew. So if you like steam-cleaning, make sure you lift the tiles afterwards and dry them thoroughly in a warm dry place. For this reason, steam-cleaning is really only appropriate for small areas of tiling or as an occasional deep clean.

Regular Maintenance

Vacuum your tiles frequently to prevent the build-up of dirt and grime. When you need to spot-clean specific stains, nothing could be easier. Unlike traditional carpet, tiles can be lifted and taken to the sink! See for a more detailed article about tile cleaning.

The best way to clean your soiled tiles is with commercial carpet shampoo or stain remover. You can normally buy these in any reasonably well-stocked UK supermarket or hardware store. They are suitable for the majority of tiles sold by high street and online retailers like

Vacuum the affected tile first to get rid of any excess loose dirt and dust. If anything (like playdough or food) is stuck on, use a blunt knife or other flat utensil to scrape it off. Then apply your carpet cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you don’t have any carpet cleaner to hand, there is a homemade alternative. Use 1/4 cup or measure of detergent (washing power) to three cups of warm water. Mix well, using rubber gloves to protect your hands.

Now apply to the stain, rubbing in well with a soft cloth. Don’t use any medium that is too harsh or abrasive to clean your tiles unless you absolutely need to, as this will cause damage. After the detergent has done its trick, rinse under the tap until all traces of the cleaning product have been removed. Now leave to dry thoroughly in a warm place before replacing the tile. Always patch-test a small area first to make sure there are no adverse reactions.

New Age warehouses: how warehouses are likely to look in the future

Christopher Walker No Comments

The way we buy goods, as private customers or as companies, is changing rapidly. The ways that goods are stored, purchased and delivered have all undergone massive changes in a short space of time, and this looks set to continue. With this in mind, it’s worth considering how these changes will impact the logistics sector.


Image Credit

Online orders

More and more people are ordering goods online. E-commerce is growing fast, as customers recognise the advantages of being able to compare goods and purchase at any time. Recently, companies have been offering to deliver within 48 hours. Increasingly, they need to offer next day delivery, same day delivery, or even delivery within a few hours. Soon, goods will not be transported to stores, but will be dispatched directly from the warehouse to the customer. This means more warehouses, with more storage space and more flexible storage systems.

A Digital revolution in logistics

The Internet is driving this change, and the logistics sector is looking at ways to improve its efficiency, costs and environmental impact, through Internet technology. Traceability technology, such as Smart Tags, ensures that packages are secure and don’t go astray. Standardisation and compatibility protocols are also being developed, to allow for efficient international cooperation.

The storage of the future

Already, many warehouses are installing automated systems and more efficient racking systems, such as mezzanine racking and multi tier racking. Companies like, who provide pallet racking in Ireland, will be providing flexible racking systems, that can be part of an automated warehouse, that can handle a wide range of products and that can be reconfigured to accommodate different needs at different times. Picking systems will be automated to allow for faster selection and dispatch of goods, and closer tracking of deliveries. As reported by Supply Chain Digital, these automated systems are already in use!

Economic potential

As customers move out of shops and into online stores, the logistics sector is growing, providing jobs and revenue across the world. Technology continues to change – the Internet of Things, for example, may soon bring fridges that will order grocery deliveries for you. As these changes become widespread, so the logistics sector changes too. Warehouses, racking systems, picking systems and transport are all adapting and changing to the demands of customers.

Introspection for improvement

Christopher Walker No Comments

Whether you take photographs purely for pleasure or you rely on your snaps to pay the bills, it is easy to get stuck in a rut.


Image Credit

You can start to approach every project in the same way, leaving little room for imagination and creativity. If this sounds familiar, it may be time to take stock and re-evaluate your techniques, equipment and approach.

Explore new avenues

If you’re an amateur, you could sign up for training with the likes of renowned professional Grant Scott – find him at – or simply take heed of his top tips for improving your game at

The very best snappers in the world, whether they are working for the glossies or for Lemontree a Hampshire based wedding photographer – are committed to learning and growing every day of their working lives.

A simple solution

Taking your photography skills to another level doesn’t have to be complicated either; sometimes it can be as simple as making a decision to move with the times or take a break from technical obsession in favour of a more improvised approach.

You could choose to step away from your passion for stunning scenery in favour of a spot of foodie snapping or go for some interiors if gardening is normally your thing. Of course, this is not always possible during your working day – a successful wedding photographer in Hampshire can’t just start focusing solely on what’s on the breakfast plates – but reigniting a passion for photography as a hobby as well as a job can do wonders for the creativity, enthusiasm, and quality.

This renewed passion and enthusiasm will show in the photographs you take; in the same way that boredom, lethargy or complacency can so easily be reflected. It will make it easier to fully engage with your human subjects and draw out the quality shots you want and need.

Try to take a figurative step back in time. If just for one day, leave all your preconceptions and past experience behind. Head off and take photographs of what you want, in the way you want to do it – regardless of how you have always worked or what you normally snap. You might just be very surprised at the results – and enjoy the experience as well.

A major breakthrough from financial software brand IRESS

Christopher Walker No Comments

Financial planning software provider IRESS has entered into an important agreement with the Commonwealth Bank Wealth Management Advice business. The deal will allow IRESS technology to be used in the future across all of the bank’s advice units. When announcing the new partnership, General Manager Marianne Perkovic said that her organisation’s key objective was to leverage the available technology to deliver better financial advice at a lower cost.


Image Credit

Relevance of FinTech

The news of the IRESS breakthrough highlights the ever-increasing significance of innovative financial technology (FinTech) products to financial institutions which, against a backdrop of tighter regulation and growing expenses, are constantly seeking out ways to enhance their efficiency and profitability. They are also looking hard at productivity issues and turning to FinTech for solutions in growing numbers. Indeed, there is a perception that wider productivity problems could depend on the latest generations of FinTech.

Help for the Independent Financial Adviser (IFA)

It’s not just the banking behemoths that are learning the advantages of great FinTech solutions. Smaller firms and IFAs are finding that carefully designed technology platforms can help to provide effective financial advice to clients quickly, cheaply and in full compliance with the local and international financial regulatory framework. It’s fair to say that IFA software has become an indispensable tool in the successful IFA’s armoury in recent years.

The Electronic Office

This type of software isn’t just invaluable for the client-faced work of any IFA. It can also help with back office processes that were traditionally managed at great expense by clerical personnel and overseen by management-level staff whose efforts would ideally be deployed on more strategic and profitable matters. The right financial software can free up vital resources for business development in all its forms. It’s easy to find IFA software online that offers these benefits.

FinTech is international in its application, as indicated by the IRESS deal. The UK has traditionally been at the vanguard when it comes to the development of financial technology solutions, just as the country is one of the world’s foremost financial services centre. As other countries gain the expertise to challenge London’s primacy in banking and investment services, it is reassuring to know that the country’s innovators are refining the software that can keep Britain at the forefront of both FinTech and the wider financial services industry.

World headlines from the FT

Referendum on reform and presidential election will gauge strength of populist and extreme right

First US-Taiwanese presidential contact since diplomatic relations were cut in 1979

Regulator buries disclosure in 70-page report on risks to financial system

France’s PM has enraged the left but is better placed to win nomination than in 2012

Trump inherits economy that is shedding vestiges of financial crash

Flight that killed most of a Brazilian football team might have run out of fuel

German’s battle with teammate Lewis Hamilton has lit up sport over past few seasons

Youth unemployment at 36% drives support for Renzi reform

Deal with opposition raises hopes for progress in meeting target agreed with Brussels