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Christmas Trees are coming! Be Prepared this December

Types of Christmas Trees

There are various types of Christmas trees available, and you must choose the one that is perfect for your home during the holiday season. There are various types, as you will see below:

Nordman Fir

The Norman Fir Christmas Tree barely drops its needles, making it the most popular choice in Modern times, due to the safety issues related to children and pets, and the sharp Christmas tree needles. They come in a range of shapes and sizes, and their needles are a lot fleshier.

Norway Spruce

The Norway Spruce Christmas tree, brings the classic smell of childhood to your home. Its needles do drop a lot more than other varieties, but it more than makes up for that with its beautiful smell, and really traditional tall and narrow shape.

Potted Christmas Trees

The Potted Christmas tree is a great choice if you would prefer your tree to last longer than just a few weeks, as potted trees are more likely to live on through the year, and be fine to use again a year later. The come in both varieties, the Nordman or Norway Spruce, and are often a little cheaper.

Where to buy a Christmas Tree

You can normally buy Christmas trees at your local garden centre, or check online for your nearest Christmas tree farm. Sapcote Garden Centre, Leicester, LE94LG, 01455 274049, (http://www.sapcotegc.co.uk/christmas/christmas-trees) has a range of Nordman Fir, and Norway Spruce Christmas trees for sale, and the price is the same as 2012.

Why a nurse’s soothing conversation is the best anaesthetic

  • Growing number of operations are done with local anaesthetic to cut costs
  • This numbs the pain in the area being operated but patients are still awake
  • Researchers say calming conversation is ‘simple and inexpensive’ solution
  • Patients given various ‘distractions’ during varicose vein surgery as a test
  • Showed talking to nurse cut anxiety by 30 per cent and pain by 16 per cent

By

Fiona Macrae, Science Correspondent for the Daily Mail


Published:
18:42 EST, 29 January 2015

|
Updated:
19:09 EST, 29 January 2015

Forget iPods and DVDs, the key to relaxing during surgery could be as simple as a chatty, caring nurse.

A study found conversation and touch to be better at easing the stress and pain of an operation than listening to music or watching a film.

The University of Surrey researchers said that having a nurse chat to a patient while holding their hand could be a ‘simple and inexpensive’ way of making operations done without a general anaesthetic more pleasant.

A drive to cut costs and save time means that growing numbers of operations are done with a local anaesthetic.

Soothing: A study found conversation and touch to be better at easing the stress and pain of an operation than listening to music or watching a film (file photo)

Soothing: A study found conversation and touch to be better at easing the stress and pain of an operation than listening to music or watching a film (file photo)

This numbs the pain in the area being cut open but the patient is still wide awake and may become more and more anxious as they hear the surgeons discuss their operation.

Many also fear the injection of local anaesthetic, which can be painful.

Fear and anxiety can lead to some patients putting off their op until their condition gets markedly worse.

In other cases, high levels of worry during surgery can delay recovery.

Varicose vein ops are usually done under local anaesthetic, as are cataract removals, while laser eye surgery is done without anaesthetic.

Various tests, including photographic examination of the womb and bowel are also done while the patient is wide awake.

PhD student Briony Hudson studied more than 400 men and women who were having varicose vein surgery.

The patients were divided into five groups. The first listened to music during their operation, the second watched a film and a third squeezed small ‘stress’ balls with their hands when they felt uncomfortable. 

The fourth group chatted to a nurse, while the final group had no distractions.

Immediately after the operation, they were quizzed on how anxious they had felt and how much pain they had been in.

The DVD, stress balls and chatting to a nurse all eased anxiety. But only the stress balls and conversation reduced pain.

Simple and effective: Talking to a nurse cut anxiety by 30 per cent, compared to having no distractions, and reduced pain by 16 per cent (file photo)

Simple and effective: Talking to a nurse cut anxiety by 30 per cent, compared to having no distractions, and reduced pain by 16 per cent (file photo)

Talking to a nurse cut anxiety by 30 per cent, compared to having no distractions, and reduced pain by 16 per cent.

Using the stress balls eased anxiety by 18 per cent and cut pain by 22 per cent, the European Journal of Pain reports.

Surprisingly, listening to music didn’t help at all.

The researchers aren’t sure why this was but it may be because the patients chose music that they knew well and so it didn’t provide the necessary level of distraction.

Researcher Jane Ogden said that the results suggest that conversation and touch are particularly effective.

During the study, which is reported in the European Journal of Pain, the nurses were instructed to talk to the patients but not touch them.

However, having a nurse hold the patient’s hand while chatting may be even more calming than conversation alone.

Professor Ogden said: ‘I was most pleased by the impact of interaction with nurses because it is such a straight forward thing to do.

‘If someone asks you what you are going to do at the weekend and where you are going to go on holiday, that is a very effective way of managing pain.’ 

 

Xmas Holidays

ISIS Hostage is feared dead as exchange collapses

  • ISIS audio stated exchange must be made at Turkish border at 2.30pm GMT
  • An hour before deadline, Jordan said their prisoner was still in the country
  • Negotiations between ISIS and Jordan appear to now have collapsed
  • Jordanian government refused to release their prisoner without proof of life
  • Pilot Lt Muath al-Kaseasbeh is held with Japanese hostage Kenji Goto
  • Fears are now growing that Al-Kaseasbeh has already been murdered
  • Mr Goto’s wife breaks silence, saying this was ‘last chance’ to save him

By

David Williams for the Daily Mail

and
Simon Tomlinson for MailOnline


Published:
07:41 EST, 29 January 2015

|
Updated:
19:04 EST, 29 January 2015

Negotiations to save the lives of two Islamic State hostages appeared to have collapsed last night as fears grew that one of the men has already been murdered.

Intelligence sources said ISIS’s refusal to prove that Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh was alive meant any deal with the militants was doomed.

Jordan had agreed to an ISIS demand to free an Iraqi woman who failed to fulfil her Al Qaeda mission as a suicide bomber.

In return, it said it would not execute the 26-year-old pilot, who was seized after crashing near its HQ in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

Scroll down for video 

Showing the strain: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reacts during a meeting as the country anxiously awaits news of a prisoner exchange with ISIS which was due to take place at sunset in the Middle East

Showing the strain: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reacts during a meeting as the country anxiously awaits news of a prisoner exchange with ISIS which was due to take place at sunset in the Middle East

Stress: Safi al-Kaseasbeh, the father of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh who has been taken hostage by ISIS, is seen after meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II following a protest by the pilot's relatives at the entrance to the royal palace to ensure the government does all it can to secure his son's release

Stress: Safi al-Kaseasbeh, the father of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh who has been taken hostage by ISIS, is seen after meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II following a protest by the pilot’s relatives at the entrance to the royal palace to ensure the government does all it can to secure his son’s release

Anticpation and anxiety: People gather at the Akcakale border control in Turkey, one of the possible sites where it is believed the prisoner exchange deal between ISIS and Jordan would have taken place

Anticpation and anxiety: People gather at the Akcakale border control in Turkey, one of the possible sites where it is believed the prisoner exchange deal between ISIS and Jordan would have taken place

Possible exchange site? An armoured Turkish police vehicle is driven to the Akcakale border gate in Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, where Islamic State militants control the Syrian side of the gate

Possible exchange site? An armoured Turkish police vehicle is driven to the Akcakale border gate in Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, where Islamic State militants control the Syrian side of the gate

It also said it would release Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, 47, who was seen in an ISIS video on Wednesday holding a photo of al-Kaseasbeh and spelling out its demands. It is not known when the photo was taken.

ISIS had threatened to kill al-Kaseasbeh if a deadline was not kept for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi dusk Iraq time yesterday – around 5.30pm (2.30pm GMT). She was sentenced to death by a Jordanian court after trying to blow up a wedding in a hotel in 2005.

But the deadline for the exchange with Goto expired without news. Jordan had insisted on proof that al-Kasasbeh was alive before freeing al-Rishawi, 44.

Before Wednesday’s video, nothing had been seen of the pilot since ISIS released photographs of him in December following his capture. He is the first member of the international coalition force to have fallen into ISIS hands.

Goto’s wife, Rinko, urged Japan and Jordan to save her husband’s life, adding: ‘My husband went to Syria to show the plight of those who suffer.’

She said the couple had two young daughters.

‘Our baby girl was only three weeks old when Kenji left. I hope our oldest daughter, who is just two, will get to see her father again. I want them both to grow up knowing their father. 

‘I fear that this is the last chance for my husband and we now have only a few hours left to secure his release and the life of (Maaz al-Kassasbeh).

A Syrian man with his bird passes the Syrian-Turkish border at the Akcakale border gate, near Sanliurfa

A Syrian man with his bird passes the Syrian-Turkish border at the Akcakale border gate, near Sanliurfa

Awaiting news: A Japanese journalist works in front of the Akcakale crossing gate at the Turkey-Syria border

Awaiting news: A Japanese journalist works in front of the Akcakale crossing gate at the Turkey-Syria border

‘I beg the Jordanian and Japanese government to understand that the fates of both men are in their hands.’

The journalist was captured in October in Syria, apparently while trying to rescue another Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa, 42.

Meanwhile, at the Turkish border post of Akcakale, which faces the ISIS-held Syrian town of Tel Abyad, dozens of journalists last night waited for a possible swap until darkness fell.

In the latest audio recording from ISIS, a voice purporting to be that of Goto states: ‘I am Kenji Goto. This is a voice message I’ve been told to send to you.

‘If Sajida al-Rishawi is not ready for exchange for my life at the Turkish border by Thursday sunset 29th of January Mosul time, the Jordanian pilot Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh will be killed immediately.’  

The message was released online late Wednesday night after Jordan offered to hand over al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman convicted of involvement in deadly Amman hotel bombings in 2005.

It wasn’t clear what Goto’s fate would be if the woman wasn’t returned.

The message, which could not be independently verified said the deadline was sundown in Mosul, Iraq, the largest city held by the militant group.

WHY A PRISONER SWAP WOULD ULTIMATELY WEAKEN ISIS

Dr Andreas Krieg, from King’s College London’s Department of Defence Studies, believes that a prisoner swap would benefit ISIS in the short-term, for propaganda purposes, but would ultimately weaken them.

He told MailOnline: ‘The US and the UK government are probably the only governments that have taken an assertive stance towards not negotiating with terrorists. A prisoner swap will only have propaganda value for ISIS. 

‘It is not of any operational significance. But symbolically they will be able to demonstrate to their own people and potential recruits in the West that they have the bargaining power to issue demands to powerful governments. Also, ISIS needs this symbolic success as the fall of Kobane is a major symbolic defeat after they poured so many resources in it. 

‘After all it seems they will not prevail there. It is also a significant blow against the Jordanian government, which as part of the US-led coalition is under significant domestic and external Japanese pressure to do something. ISIS would make Jordan look weak compared to local extremists in Jordan and to coalition partners, most notably the US.

But to be honest, with ISIS urgently in need for new financial resources, I think that a prisoner swap is always better than ransom. The initially claimed ransom would have added significantly to their budget (it would have covered 10% of their annual budget). They can’t smuggle oil anymore, avenues of extortion have been exhausted. So kidnap for ransom is the only significant income they can generate. Not getting the money is a good thing. It will weaken rather than significantly strengthen the organization.

‘We can’t say much about the swap at the moment. Just that it will be done by intermediaries. But both sides would be stupid to try to use the actual swap at the border to play games. For Jordan it will jeopardize the life of their pilot and for ISIS it would undermine their credibility as negotiation partners in kidnapping cases. As I said, ISIS needs kidnap for ransom to maintain their financial self-sufficiency.’ 

Japanese journalists work in front of the Akcakale crossing gate at the Turkey-Syrian border

Japanese journalists work in front of the Akcakale crossing gate at the Turkey-Syrian border

A man, believed to be an Islamic state militant, is seen near the northern Syrian town of Tal Abyad as he is pictured from the Turkish border town of Akcakale, where it is believed the prisoner swap may take place

A man, believed to be an Islamic state militant, is seen near the northern Syrian town of Tal Abyad as he is pictured from the Turkish border town of Akcakale, where it is believed the prisoner swap may take place

WEBSITE OWNERS ARRESTED FOR SPREADING RUMOURS THAT JIHADI HAD BEEN RELEASED BY JORDAN

Two managers of a Jordanian website have been arrested for spreading rumours that Iraqi jihadist Sajida al-Rishawi had been freed in exchange for a Japanese hostage, a judicial source said today.

The owner of the Saraya News site, Hashim al-Khalidi, and editor-in-chief Seif Obeidat could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. 

On Wednesday Saraya News reported that Rishawi had been freed and had arrived in Iraq to be handed over to ISIS in exchange for Goto, which the authorities quickly denied.

‘By order of the prosecutor general of the State Security Court, Hashim al-Khalidi and Seif Obeidat were arrested after the publication of rumours of the release of an Iraqi suicide bomber as part of a deal with ISIS, the source said.

They are accused of ‘having used means of communication to propagate the ideas of a terrorist organisation and actions that could encourage violence against Jordanians and acts of revenge,’ the source added.

Jordan, which is accused by rights groups of restricting freedom of speech and of the press, has ordered the closure of the site.

In Tokyo, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Thursday the government was in close communications with the Jordan government. 

He said Japan was doing its utmost to free Goto, working with nations in the region, including Turkey, Jordan and Israel.

‘As the situation is developing, I shouldn’t comment on details. But, Japan and Jordan are dealing with the matter based on an extremely trusting relationship,’ Suga told reporters.

Al-Kaseasbeh’s wife Anwar Tarawneh broke down in tears on Wednesday as she faced an agonising wait for news.

Efforts to free al-Kaseasbeh and Goto gained urgency after a purported online ultimatum claimed Tuesday that ISIS would kill both hostages within 24 hours if Jordan did not free al-Rishawi. 

Japan has scrambled to deal with the crisis that began last week with the release of a video by the Islamic State group showing Goto and another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, kneeling in orange jumpsuits.

They were kneeling between a masked man who threatened to kill them within 72 hours unless Japan paid a $200 million ransom.  

That demand has since shifted to one for the release of al-Rishawi. The militants have reportedly killed Yukawa, 42, although that has not been confirmed.

‘This heinous terrorist act is totally unforgivable,’ Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in parliament Thursday.

Goto, a freelance journalist, was captured in October in Syria, apparently while trying to rescue Yukawa, who was taken hostage last summer.

In Tokyo, Goto’s mother, Junko Ishido, has been desperately pleading for the government to save her son.

‘I know Mr. Abe is someone who can handle this matter. I trust Mr Abe and I can do nothing but rely on him,’ she said.   

Supporters of  Kenji Goto call for his release during a rally outside the prime minister's residence in Tokyo

Supporters of Kenji Goto call for his release during a rally outside the prime minister’s residence in Tokyo

A man walks past a TV screen broadcasting a news program about ISIS hostages, the Jordanian air force pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh (top right) and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto (top centre), along a street in Tokyo

A man walks past a TV screen broadcasting a news program about ISIS hostages, the Jordanian air force pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh (top right) and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto (top centre), along a street in Tokyo

Anwar Tarawneh (second from right) is comforted by pilot Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh's sister during a protest

Anwar Tarawneh (second from right) is comforted by pilot Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh’s sister during a protest

The mother of Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh is pictured in a car during a sit-in in front of the cabinet offices in Amman calling for his release

The mother of Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh is pictured in a car during a sit-in in front of the cabinet offices in Amman calling for his release

Releasing the would-be hotel bomber linked to Al Qaeda would breach Jordan’s usual hard-line approach to the extremists and set a precedent for negotiating with them.

It would also be a coup for the Islamic State group, which has already overrun large parts of neighboring Syria and Iraq. Jordan is part of a U.S.-led military alliance that has carried out airstrikes against the extremist group in Syria and Iraq in recent months.

The Islamic State group has not publicly demanded prisoner releases before and Jordan’s main ally, the United States, opposes negotiations with extremists.

Jordanian King Abdullah II faces growing domestic pressure to bring the pilot home. The pilot’s father said he met on Wednesday with Jordan’s king, who he said assured him that ‘everything will be fine.’  

The mother of  hostage Kenji Goto has made a tearful appeal to the country's prime minister to save her son

The mother of hostage Kenji Goto has made a tearful appeal to the country’s prime minister to save her son

The latest message asked for Sajida al-Rishawi (pictured) to be ready for a prisoner exchange at sunset Mosul time, or the Jordanian air pilot would be killed

The latest message asked for Sajida al-Rishawi (pictured) to be ready for a prisoner exchange at sunset Mosul time, or the Jordanian air pilot would be killed

The pilot’s capture has hardened popular opposition among Jordanians to the air strikes, analysts said.

‘Public opinion in Jordan is putting huge pressure on the government to negotiate with the Islamic State group,’ said Marwan Shehadeh, a scholar with ties to ultra-conservative Islamic groups in Jordan.

‘If the government doesn’t make a serious effort to release him, the morale of the entire military will deteriorate and the public will lose trust in the political regime.’

Jordan reportedly is holding indirect talks with the militants through religious and tribal leaders in Iraq to secure the release of the hostages.  

Junko Ishido issued a tearful plea for Japan's leader Shinzo Abe to take action as the militants holding her son captive issued a death threat

Junko Ishido issued a tearful plea for Japan’s leader Shinzo Abe to take action as the militants holding her son captive issued a death threat

In his brief statement, al-Momani only said Jordan is willing to swap al-Rishawi for the pilot. He did not say if such an exchange is being arranged.

The 26-year-old pilot, al-Kaseasbeh, was seized after his Jordanian F-16 crashed in December near the Islamic State group’s de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria. 

He is the first foreign military pilot the militants have captured since the coalition began its airstrikes in August.

Previous captives may have been freed in exchange for ransom, although the governments involved have refused to confirm any payments were made.

The Islamic State group broke with al-Qaida’s central leadership in 2013 and has clashed with its Syrian branch, but it reveres the global terror network’s former Iraqi affiliate, which battled U.S. forces and claimed the 2005 Amman attack.

Xmas Holidays

Lots of Layers

Hello and welcome to another challenge at Winter Wonderland -Mags here with last week’s winner and Top 3 and our next challenge. 
Thank you for all your lovely entries into last week’s challenge.


Last week’s winner as chosen by Random Org is:



Jessi


And here is the winning entry



Congratulations – please email lynseywarren1@btinternet.com to claim your prize of 2 digi images from our sponsor













before the end of the current challenge. Please make the subject of your e-mail Winter Wonderland Winner and sponsor name.



Now onto the top three which is always a difficult choice.









Please take our top three banner to display proudly on your blog.



Now onto this week’s challenge -
Lots of Layers



You can create any project you like just as long as we can see lots of layers.  Remember that we are still in the non christmas period so your project can be for any occasion.


For this challenge we are sponsored by:
The prize is a choice of 3 digi images
and
Little Claire
Prize details to follow
Here’s the inspiration from the DT who have used images from Kenny K.  We always appreciate a visit so if you click the name you can hop over and leave them a comment and also find out if they have combined their challenge with any others, which could give you some ideas.

We all hope you are able to join us in our challenge this week. We look forward to visiting your blogs and seeing your gorgeous creations. Please be sure to post a link back to the Winter Wonderland blog in your blog post in order to be eligible for this weeks prize! Thursday evening (5pm GMT) is the deadline for your creation to qualify for the prizes.
So all that’s left is for you to get creative and leave your entry here with the blue frog so we can come and find you asap.
Have fun and remember you can enter each challenge up to 3 times.



Mags and the WW Teamies xxx 


Christmas 2013

Napoleon was the real winner of Waterloo… claim the French!

  • Lawyer set to play French dictator calls him ‘one of world’s greatest men’
  • Frank Samson, 47, also referred to Lord Nelson as ‘frightful Englishman’
  • Claimed Napoleon’s historic impact makes him real winner of Waterloo 

By

David Wilkes for the Daily Mail


Published:
17:21 EST, 28 January 2015

|
Updated:
19:12 EST, 28 January 2015

French lawyer Frank Samson, 47, who is set to play Napoleon, said the French dictator was the real hero of Waterloo, despite suffering a crushing defeat

French lawyer Frank Samson, 47, who is set to play Napoleon, said the French dictator was the real hero of Waterloo, despite suffering a crushing defeat

It is not so much a bid to rewrite history as a blatant attempt at match-rigging.

For the French are claiming that Napoleon – not Wellington – was the true hero of Waterloo.

In a reconstruction to mark this year’s bicentenary of the battle, they plan to ignore the fact that he emerged utterly defeated. 

Instead, they want to portray the French emperor as the winner over a ‘frightful’ English nobody.

But the sabre-rattling ahead of the commemorations in Belgium this summer was quickly dismissed by historians.

The first salvo was fired by French lawyer Frank Samson, who will play Napoleon in the re-enactment.

The 47-year-old, taking massive liberties with history, claimed that while Napoleon was ‘one of the greatest men the world has ever known’, the Duke of Wellington – who led the Allied army to a famous victory – was a ‘frightful Englishman that no one has heard of’.

He added: ‘In terms of public relations, in terms of his historical importance, it’s clear that [Napoleon] won at Waterloo. The public will acclaim him and we have forgotten that he lost.’

However, historian and broadcaster James Holland said Mr Samson’s views were ‘clearly very stupid’. He said: ‘The fact is that Napoleon lost at Waterloo, and not only was that the end of his military career, it was the end of his political career as well. 

‘On the other hand, Wellington’s military career was enhanced by Waterloo and his political career began and he went on to be Prime Minister of Great Britain. 

‘Napoleon was a dictator whose actions caused the death of hundreds of thousands. Wellington was merely trying to stop a murderous despot from taking over Europe.

‘There’s no question Napoleon’s stature and influence in the world was enormous. But it could be argued his legacy to France has not been 100 per cent helpful, whereas on the back of Wellington we became the greatest empire the world has ever known.’

Taking large liberties with historical fact, Mr Samson claimed Napoleon was 'one of the greatest men the world has ever known', while Nelson was 'a frightful Englishman no one has heard of' 

Taking large liberties with historical fact, Mr Samson claimed Napoleon was ‘one of the greatest men the world has ever known’, while Nelson was ‘a frightful Englishman no one has heard of’ 

Saul David, professor of military history at the University of Buckingham, said the French disdain for Wellington – ‘one of the two or three greatest generals in history’ – may be because he was leading an allied army containing not only British but also Dutch and Prussians. 

The 200th anniversary of Waterloo, on June 18, will be marked by a two-day re-enactment on the battlefield, just south of Brussels, with 5,000 soldiers, 300 horses and 100 cannon.

Wellington will be played by New Zealander Alan Larsen, 54. Chief organiser Etienne Claude denied that Napoleon would emerge as the victor, saying: ‘We’re not mad enough for that.’ 

And Mr Samson, who has played Napoleon in 189 reconstructions of Waterloo, admitted: ‘I’ve lost every time.’

 

Xmas Holidays

How train ticket prices have TREBLED since privatisation

  • Open return from London to Manchester has soared from £96 to £329
  • That could pay for flight to Barcelona, Athens, Rome or even New York
  • Customer anger over ‘fat cat’ boss bonuses branded ‘rewards for failure’

By

Ray Massey

and
Jim Norton for the Daily Mail


Published:
17:43 EST, 28 January 2015

|
Updated:
19:00 EST, 28 January 2015

Many rail fares have more than trebled in the two decades since privatisation – with some open return tickets now costing more than the price of taking a family to the Mediterranean or a solo flight to New York, research reveals.

Britain’s leading rail fare analyst has calculated that fares on some of the most popular routes have increased by between 141 per cent and 246 per cent over the past 20 years, while inflation has gone up by 77 per cent over the same period.

The study of ‘anytime’ open return fares – the most expensive and most flexible ‘walk-up tickets’ – shows how an open return to Manchester with Virgin Trains has rocketed from £96 in 1995 to £329 today, an increase of 243 per cent.

How do they compare? Driving or flying can now be cheaper than catching the train - even for solo journeys

How do they compare? Driving or flying can now be cheaper than catching the train – even for solo journeys

That is more than eight times the cost of an open return National Express coach journey at £39.50 and enough to pay for a family of four flying on Ryanair to Barcelona (£184) or Athens (£240).

It would also pay for a flight to Rome on Norwegian Air (£240), or a single traveller flying to New York for £334 with Kuwait Airways.

The fare findings follow a damning report this week by rail watchdogs showing that rail travellers have registered the lowest level of satisfaction with the railways in five years. They were annoyed by overcrowded, expensive and late-running services.

In January fares rose across all types of tickets by an average of 2.2 per cent. But season tickets went up by 2.5 per cent – not only well above the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation figure but also in excess of most annual pay rises.

Customer dissatisfaction has been compounded by anger over ‘fat cat bonuses’ awarded to rail chiefs, which have been branded ‘rewards for failure’.

Expensive: The comparison was carried out 20 years after the privatisation of the railways in Britain

Expensive: The comparison was carried out 20 years after the privatisation of the railways in Britain

… AND HOW YOU CAN GO ABROAD MORE CHEAPLY 

Return tickets pre-booked

£41   BARCELONA 

£53   ATHENS

£62   ROME

£94   MARRAKECH

£95   DUBROVNIK

£150  ST PETERSBURG

£282  DUBAI

£334  NEW YORK 

Source: Skyscanner 

Barry Doe, an independent fares expert, was commissioned to carry out research on rising ticket prices by the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) union.

His research shows that an open return rail ticket between London and Bristol has soared by 246 per cent – from £57 to £197.

The anytime fare from the capital to Liverpool has jumped by 232 per cent from £93 to £309, while to Cardiff it has increased by 211 per cent from £70 to £218.

This makes cars a cost-effective alternative to rail travel – especially for families.

AA president Edmund King said: ‘For the cost of my annual rail season ticket – a painful £4,028 – I could buy a second-hand car for £1000, tax and insure it and still have enough to pay for 20,000 miles of petrol, which is two years’ motoring for the average driver.’

A spokesman for Virgin Trains defended the £329 return anytime fare from London to Manchester, noting that a fraction of travellers paid it and most chose from a range of cheaper flexible options.

They added: ‘Over the last year the number of passengers travelling on the standard anytime fare of £164.50 one way and £329 return represented only 3.7 per cent of the journeys made between London and Manchester.

An open return to Edinburgh even with nationalised East Coast costs £313 - up from £130 two decades ago

An open return to Edinburgh even with nationalised East Coast costs £313 – up from £130 two decades ago

Many of our advanced fares from Manchester remained the same or came down in January – overall our fares increased by 1.4 per cent which is significantly below the industry average.’

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents Network Rail and train operators, said: ‘The TSSA’s figures are misleading in the extreme as they deliberately focus only on the most expensive fares. On average, the cost of rail travel has increased by 6 per cent in real terms over the last 15 years.

‘This helps explain why passenger numbers have almost doubled over the period, contributing to a fivefold increase in money going back to reinvest in a better railway.’

But Labour’s transport spokesman Michael Dugher said: ‘Rail passengers are being let down and ripped off. Things have got worse on our railways.’

And TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: ‘Passengers have paid a terrible price for this political folly. The private rail industry has taken all the gain while passengers have suffered all the pain. Passengers have paid a small fortune on fares while rail bosses are paid a fortune.

‘We want to end this persecution of passengers which started after privatisation.’ He added: ‘It is hardly surprising that satisfaction is falling when commuters are paying record fares for a worsening service. It is an absolute disgrace.’

Xmas Holidays

‘Greece’s coalition won’t survive as parties can’t agree on policies’, analysts say

  • Left-wing Syriza are the first anti-austerity party to govern in Europe 
  • They fell two seats short of a majority in parliament and needed an ally
  • Leader Alexis Tsipras opted to cooperate with the Independent Greeks 
  • ‘This is a strange and unnatural alliance’ –  political science expert 

By

Ted Thornhill for MailOnline

and
Afp


Published:
05:09 EST, 27 January 2015

|
Updated:
06:21 EST, 27 January 2015

An ‘unnatural’ coalition government formed on Monday between anti-austerity party Syriza and nationalist Independent Greeks could prove short-lived, analysts said.

Syriza are the first anti-austerity party to govern in Europe, but they fell two seats short of a 151-seat majority in parliament and thus needed an ally.

Syriza’s 40-year-old leader Alexis Tsipras opted to cooperate with the Independent Greeks (ANEL), a party just as determined as his own to dump the austerity policies imposed over the past five years in return for a 240-billion-euro (£178billion) EU-IMF bailout.

Scroll down for video  

Alexis Tsipras (right), leader of radical leftist SYRIZA party, meets with Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos (left) during the process of the formation of a new government, in Athens, on Monday

Alexis Tsipras (right), leader of radical leftist SYRIZA party, meets with Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos (left) during the process of the formation of a new government, in Athens, on Monday

Supporters of Germany's left-wing Die Linke party, hold placards as they show their support to Alexis Tsipras, leader of Syriza left-wing party. The placard, centre, reads in German: 'This is really a goodnight Mrs Merkel' referring to the German Chancellor, and the one on the right reads: 'I support Syriza, Die Linke'

Supporters of Germany’s left-wing Die Linke party, hold placards as they show their support to Alexis Tsipras, leader of Syriza left-wing party. The placard, centre, reads in German: ‘This is really a goodnight Mrs Merkel’ referring to the German Chancellor, and the one on the right reads: ‘I support Syriza, Die Linke’

But analysts note that ANEL – best-known for vitriolic attacks on Germany – are unpredictable at best, and governing with them could also disrupt the balance among the various left-wing factions that make up Syriza.

The radical leftists are already heading for a confrontation with Greece’s international creditors over their insistence on renegotiating the bailout deal and having most of the country’s enormous debt written off.

Should the coalition falter, Greece could be forced into another election, paralysing the still-struggling economy and potentially plunging the eurozone into fresh instability.

‘Syriza is made up of groups espousing different ideologies and Tsipras will have to seek a compromise inside his party, which is difficult,’ said Manos Papazoglou, a professor of political science at Peloponnese University.

‘This is a strange and unnatural alliance,’ he told AFP, adding: ‘The truth about the government’s cohesion will be revealed when they sit at the negotiating table in Europe.’

Syriza and ANEL were brought closer in recent years by their common opposition to the EU-IMF bailout, which forced sweeping spending cuts on Greeks and deepened a painful six-year recession.

Coverage of Syriza's win on the front pages of Greek newspapers in Omonoia Square, Athens, Greece

Coverage of Syriza’s win on the front pages of Greek newspapers in Omonoia Square, Athens, Greece

But they could not be further apart on other key issues such as immigration and civil rights. Syriza want to soften Greece’s stance on migrants and asylum-seekers, while ANEL are close to the influential Orthodox Church and want to take a strong stance against neighbouring Turkey, Macedonia and Albania.

‘The two movements have nothing else in common (except the bailout). This is not an auspicious start,’ said University of Crete political scientist Manolis Alexakis.

‘The government’s cohesion will be tested on a daily basis… power unites, of course, but I can’t imagine certain people inside Syriza will be very happy with this (alliance),’ he added. 

ANEL leader Panos Kammenos, 49, is a volatile ex-conservative lawmaker who abandoned the New Democracy party in 2012 after it approved the EU-IMF bailout, forming his own movement.

He has often called Greece’s creditors ‘foreign conquerors’ but wants the country to keep the euro.

‘A coalition with ANEL could raise the risks of a big clash with Europe… ANEL is often seen as a group with a grudge,’ said Berenberg bank analyst Holger Schmieding.

Kammenos has termed the previous government a ‘dictatorship’ and said officials who signed the loan agreement should be put on trial.

Syriza's leader Alexis Tsipras (right) shakes hands with Greece's President Karolos Papoulias (left) as he is sworn in as Greek Prime Minister at the Presidential Palace in Athens on Monday

Syriza’s leader Alexis Tsipras (right) shakes hands with Greece’s President Karolos Papoulias (left) as he is sworn in as Greek Prime Minister at the Presidential Palace in Athens on Monday

‘We do not consider ANEL an anti-European party. Unless of course it’s pro-European to bow to the demands of (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel and (German Finance Minister Wolfgang) Schaeuble,’ Yiannis Balafas, a member of Syriza’s political committee, told Alpha TV.

‘Greece should be seen as an equal partner in Europe, not as a tenant,’ he said.

There had been expectations that Syriza would ally itself with To Potami, a new pro-European party that won 17 seats in the election.

Alexakis, of the University of Crete, argued that ANEL could be an expendable asset for Syriza, to be cast aside once negotiations with the rest of Europe are over.

‘Once the balance (in Europe) changes they could say ‘goodbye’ and seek an alliance with To Potami… or hold new elections hoping for a better score,’ he said. 

Renewed fears that Greece could be forced out of the eurozone if it defaults on its debt repayments saw the euro hit an 11-year low against the dollar Monday, while Greek stocks closed down more than three percent.

The IMF extended an olive branch to the new Greek government, saying it was prepared to continue its financial support to the country.

‘We stand ready to continue supporting Greece, and look forward to discussions with the new government,’ IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a statement.

However, EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker warned that Greece cannot expect any reduction in its huge debt commitments.

‘There is no urgent need for action’ on Greece’s debt, Juncker told German television station ARD, adding that a reduction ‘is not on the radar’. 

Many Greeks were optimistic that the fortunes of a country mired in deep recession were about to change for the better.

Nikos, a Syriza supporter in Athens, said: ‘Today is a very good day. I believe things will go well for our country.’

But others were sceptical.

‘There are many promises, but at the end there will be nothing. They only want power,’ said Athina Mantsinou as she walked through the capital’s Syntagma Square – scene of many demonstrations against austerity.

In a sign of the mammoth challenge ahead, the EU issued a stern statement that Greece will risk its place in the eurozone if it fails to meet its austerity and debt commitments.

From Brussels to Berlin, officials said they were open to talks with the new team in Athens, but many signalled its proposals were unrealistic.

In exchange for the bailout in 2010, Greece was forced to slash public-sector spending, cut wages and pensions and introduce a far-reaching programme of privatisation.

Syriza has pledged to reverse many of those measures.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel of European paymaster Germany made her views clear.

‘In our view it is important for the new government to take action to foster Greece’s continued economic recovery,’ her spokesman Steffen Seibert said. ‘That also means Greece sticking to its previous commitments.’

Anti austerity Syriza party supporters celebrate as leader Alexis Tsipras speaks folllowing victory in the election in Athens on January 25

Anti austerity Syriza party supporters celebrate as leader Alexis Tsipras speaks folllowing victory in the election in Athens on January 25

Sunday’s poll was Greece’s fourth in five turbulent years, including back-to-back votes in 2012.

During that time the economy has shrunk by a quarter and unemployment has soared beyond 25 percent. 

Syriza’s victory could inspire other anti-austerity parties in Europe, including Spain’s Podemos, which has topped several opinion polls and is aiming for an absolute majority in the Spanish election in November.

‘Our victory is also a victory for all European peoples fighting against austerity that is destroying our common European future,’ Tsipras told supporters Sunday.

British finance minister George Osborne said what Syriza was proposing was ‘incompatible with what the eurozone currently demands of its members’.

However, British Prime Minister David Cameron issued a warmer statement late Monday, congratulating Tsipras and welcoming his ‘intention to tackle corruption and increase tax transparency across Greece’.

Other European countries also said they were prepared to work with the new Greek government.

French President Francois Hollande invited Tsipras to Paris and Spain’s conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he hoped the victory would lead to a ‘stable government’.

Italy saw the Greek result as possibly helping its push for greater flexibility in the EU’s approach to budgets and broader economic issues, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said.

Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, will meet Tsipras in Athens on Thursday, Syriza said in a statement, the first visit paid by a foreign dignitary to the new prime minister since his victory.

In Washington, the White House said it hoped to work closely with the new government and would continue ‘to support international efforts to foster Greece’s economic recovery’.

‘There are indications that the economy is poised for renewed growth, but many challenges remain,’ State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. 

 

Xmas Holidays

Apocalypse now! Storm chaser travels thousands of miles across America to photograph mesmerising weather patterns

  • Dennis Oswald has been travelling from his home in Germany to the US for 17 years to capture the phenomenon
  • Was inspired after reading about fellow storm chasers in the US, so decided to get a piece of the action
  • Dennis positions himself between one to three miles away from the storm, in locations such as Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma 

By

John Hutchinson for MailOnline


Published:
05:58 EST, 27 January 2015

|
Updated:
05:58 EST, 27 January 2015

These photographs of extreme weather capture storms furiously rolling across the sky above America.

While most people would run a mile when confronted with a giant storm, photographer Dennis Oswald has been doing the opposite for the past 17 years.

The 34-year-old storm chaser, inspired by his passion for travelling and severe weather, travels from his home in Neuss, Germany to the United States, where he can photograph storms on an apocalyptic scale.

Dennis Oswald travels from Germany to the US to photograph spectacular storms where he gets breathtakingly close to the action

Dennis Oswald travels from Germany to the US to photograph spectacular storms where he gets breathtakingly close to the action

A storm in Enid, Oklahoma, taken by photographer Dennis Oswald, who describes the phenomenon as 'beautiful'

A storm in Enid, Oklahoma, taken by photographer Dennis Oswald, who describes the phenomenon as ‘beautiful’

A tornado rips through the air in Millsap, Texas; Dennis Oswald's reading of US-based storm chasers gave him a taste for the same

A tornado rips through the air in Millsap, Texas; Dennis Oswald’s reading of US-based storm chasers gave him a taste for the same

Dennis says: ‘In the late 90s I was already interested in photographing landscapes and I also had a passion for travelling and severe weather.

‘I recognised that there were some people in the USA who were called storm chasers.

‘I read a lot about them and thought their stories and pictures were awesome, which is when I realised I could do this too.

Dennis has been capturing spectacular sights like this powerful storm captured in Decatur, Texas for the last 17 years

Dennis has been capturing spectacular sights like this powerful storm captured in Decatur, Texas for the last 17 years

Dark clouds fill the sky during this storm in Floydada, Texas; Dennis positions himself between one to three miles away from the storm

Dark clouds fill the sky during this storm in Floydada, Texas; Dennis positions himself between one to three miles away from the storm

The 34-year-old, inspired by his passion for travelling and severe weather, travels from his home in Neuss, Germany to the US

The 34-year-old, inspired by his passion for travelling and severe weather, travels from his home in Neuss, Germany to the US

‘Storms can be very dangerous, but I want to provide another view and show how they can be powerful and peaceful at the same time.

‘I want to show that these phenomenon are like landscapes, just not on the ground and instead, in the sky.

‘To me, they are beautiful.’

When photographing the natural phenomenon, Dennis positions himself between one to three miles away from the storm, in locations such as Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma.

While most people would run a mile when confronted with a giant storm, photographer Dennis Oswald does the opposite. Pictured here a tornado dwarfs these windmills in Rago, Kansas

While most people would run a mile when confronted with a giant storm, photographer Dennis Oswald does the opposite. Pictured here a tornado dwarfs these windmills in Rago, Kansas

Dennis Oswald has a passion for travelling and photography that results in him capturing some breathtaking photos

Dennis Oswald has a passion for travelling and photography that results in him capturing some breathtaking photos

A powerful storm forms in Artesia, New Mexico and luckily photographer Dennis Oswald was on hand to snap the action

A powerful storm forms in Artesia, New Mexico and luckily photographer Dennis Oswald was on hand to snap the action

As well as travelling to America, Dennis has also photographed storms in his home town of Neuss, Germany.

Dennis says: ‘During a storm, how I feel all depends on the type of storm I’m photographing.

‘If the storm moves slowly and I have some distance between me and it, I feel the calmness, peace and a sense of freedom which surrounds me on these endless highways.

‘If the storm is really fast and dangerous, I have to deal with less time to take pictures and I often have to move to another position and look after my safety.

While acknowledging storms are 'very dangerous,' Dennis hopes his photographs show the beauty and power of the unique scenes

While acknowledging storms are ‘very dangerous,’ Dennis hopes his photographs show the beauty and power of the unique scenes

Clouds form in the distance in this shot taken in Roswell, New Mexico,

Clouds form in the distance in this shot taken in Roswell, New Mexico,

‘It can be stressful but exciting at the same time.

‘I personally chase storms because of my passion for travelling, photography and Mother Nature, and I do everything to be as safe as I can be and stay outside of the storms.

‘My fiancee, Vera Schmitz, 28, loves my pictures and she would like to chase storms in the US with me one day.

‘The rest of my family however think a little differently, they do love my pictures and stories but are happy when I’m back home safe and sound.’

 

Xmas Holidays

Former showjumping horse is winched out of a well after falling in

  • Foxy, 12-year-old former showjumping horse, fell through into a well
  • Horse became wedged in the metre-wide well, which was half-full of water
  • Two fire crews were called to rescue her and winched the animal to safety 
  • As she was pulled free Foxy cut her back leg and contracted an infection 
  • Her care cost £20,000 but owner Amy Badge is pleased she is recovering  

By

Claire Carter for MailOnline


Published:
07:37 EST, 26 January 2015

|
Updated:
09:06 EST, 26 January 2015

This is the moment a former showjumping horse had to be winched out of a metre-wide well half-full of water, after falling in. 

Foxy, a 12-year-old Irish Sport horse had to be pulled to safety in a harness upside down after she became stuck in water inside a well near Hinckley in Leicestershire.

Two fire crews were called to help the horse after she was heard crying for help after falling through a thin covering of wood over the well.

Foxy, a former showjumping horse, had to be winched out of a metre-wide well she had fallen into

Foxy, a former showjumping horse, had to be winched out of a metre-wide well she had fallen into

When crews arrived they could only see the animal's head and front legs poking out of the water filled well 

When crews arrived they could only see the animal’s head and front legs poking out of the water filled well 

Rescuers found her with just her head and front knees poking out and it was unclear how many hours the animal had been stuck for.

Mark Edwards, from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue’s Technical Rescue Team said: ‘Rescuing Foxy was out of the ordinary.

‘We’d never seen anything like this before.

‘It’s not a situation that we envisage, so you can’t train for it.

‘You’d never think a horse could get into that position in the first place.

‘When we got there we could only see her head, neck and front knees – everything else was submerged.’

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue’s Animal Rescue team were also called and helped secure a around the front of her body so she could be slowly winched out of the well.

As the rescue party weren’t sure of the success of the operation, they had to request a police marksman for the worst case scenario.

This was not necessary but in the process of being freed the back of one of Foxy’s knees was cut and fractured and dirty water seeped into the wound.

This led to a joint infection, and she required eight weeks of intensive care and treatment at Rossdales Equine Hospital.

Two fire crews were called to winch Foxy to safety from where she had fallen down into the covered well 

Crews strapped Foxy to a harness as they began to pull her free from the water and the narrow well 

Crews strapped Foxy to a harness as they began to pull her free from the water and the narrow well 

It was unclear how long Foxy had been stuck in the well and the alarm was only raised when she cried out 

It was unclear how long Foxy had been stuck in the well and the alarm was only raised when she cried out 

As she was pulled out of the well, Foxy damaged one of her legs and later contracted a joint infection 

As she was pulled out of the well, Foxy damaged one of her legs and later contracted a joint infection 

The animal was left with a fractured back knee following the rescue

The animal’s leg was cut and became infected and she needed veterinary care which ran to a total of £20,000

This treatment cost £20,000 of vet bills to get her back on her feet.

But the insurance only offered £2,000 towards the fees due to a previous tendon condition so the family had to use owner Amy Badge’s savings and sell her father’s bike to cover the cost. 

Miss Badge only found out about the fate of her pet after her parents telephoned her after she had completed her first year exams at Bath University.  

She said: ‘I’d just finished my last exam when my dad rung.

‘I knew something had been wrong as he had called earlier in the week asking me to call once I’d finished.

‘It’s unbelievable how far she’s come in eight months.

‘She’s still a bit wary around crowds of people but apart from that she’s almost fully recovered.’

Miss Badge has owned the animal for five years and used to compete in county showjumping events with her. 

The grey mare suffered a fractured back knee from the rescue but eight months after surgery is now back on her feet. 

Miss Badge added: ‘It’s a bit like a car being written off.

‘The insurance company said that due to her tendon problems she was only worth £2000.

‘Obviously to us she’s invaluable so we’ve done whatever was necessary to get her healthy again.

‘I know I’ll never be able to jump her again but seeing her back on her feet was worth it.’

Owner Amy Badge said she is relieved the horse is back on her feet again after vets' bills costing £20,000

Owner Amy Badge said she is relieved the horse is back on her feet again after vets’ bills costing £20,000

Foxy is now back on her feet eight months after the ordeal, which left her with a fractured leg and infection 

Foxy is now back on her feet eight months after the ordeal, which left her with a fractured leg and infection 

Foxy is now back on her feet after eight months following the ordeal at the field in Hinckley in Leicestershire 

Foxy is now back on her feet after eight months following the ordeal at the field in Hinckley in Leicestershire 

Miss Badge used to compete with Foxy at county showjumping competitions before she became injured 

Miss Badge used to compete with Foxy at county showjumping competitions before she became injured 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xmas Holidays

London rents mean tenants are sharing BEDROOMS

  • 71% rise in room share searches on Spare Room over past two years 
  • Two in five people flat sharing spend more than half their salary on rent
  • Kangaroom reports 48% rise in ads placed by people to share bedroom
  • One ‘bright twin room’ is being offered in Maida Vale for £259 a week
  • Average monthly rent in London is £1,418, compared to £867 nationally

By

Mark Duell for MailOnline


Published:
06:09 EST, 26 January 2015

|
Updated:
08:36 EST, 26 January 2015

A huge increase in the number of rooms offered for tenants to share was reported today in London, as the capital’s rental prices continue to rise.

A 71 per cent rise in room share searches has been reported by website Spare Room over the past two years – with two in five flat-sharers spending more than half their salary on rent.

Meanwhile Kangaroom, which helps people find a room in a house share, said 93,500 adverts were placed last year by people looking to share a bedroom – a rise of 48 per cent on the previous year. 

Cramped: A 71 per cent rise in room share searches has been reported by website Spare Room over the past two years (file picture)

Cramped: A 71 per cent rise in room share searches has been reported by website Spare Room over the past two years (file picture)

Spare Room director Matt Hutchinson said: ‘Few people would choose to share a room, but the harsh reality is that London’s housing crisis means rents are becoming increasingly unaffordable.

‘The demise of the living room and other communal spaces is another implication of the housing crisis – one in six shared homes now has no living room, compared to one in ten three years ago.’

An advert for one ‘bright twin room’ is being offered on the website in Maida Vale, west London, for an all-inclusive £259 a week – which is more than £1,100 per calendar month.

Suggesting reasons for the room sharing rise, Mr Hutchinson told MailOnline: ‘We don’t create huge amounts of work in areas where we used to build houses – around manufacturing and coal mining.

Pricey: An advert for one 'bright twin room' is being offered on Spare Room on this road (pictured) in Maida Vale, west London, for an all-inclusive £259 a week - which is more than £1,100 per calendar month

Pricey: An advert for one ‘bright twin room’ is being offered on Spare Room on this road (pictured) in Maida Vale, west London, for an all-inclusive £259 a week – which is more than £1,100 per calendar month

‘The scale that we would have to build on to change the UK’s property market would be a scale we haven’t built on since the 1970s. That is going to take time as there’s a lot of complex planning.

Few people would choose to share a room, but the harsh reality is that London’s housing crisis means rents are becoming increasingly unaffordable
Matt Hutchinson, Spare Room director

‘We need to look at how we use existing housing stock better. Just in England there are just between 15million to 20million unoccupied bedrooms in owner-occupied properties.’ 

Bedroom shares now make up more than 10 per cent of the market, according to Kangaroom founder Jinder Sidhu. He told The Guardian: ‘While rent prices in general rose by 7.5 per cent in 2014, room-share prices have decreased by 12 per cent due to increased supply and denser living conditions.’

The average monthly rent in London, which includes bedsits and shared flats, is now £1,418 – which is up 12 per cent in a year, compared to the national average of £867, it emerged last week.

But tenant reference processor HomeLet, which provided the figures, said that parts of Essex and south London have seen recent falls in rents thanks to ‘a relative boom in new property building’.

Xmas Holidays

Scotland’s most expensive modern home up for sale for £3.4m

  • Kirkton Park, a six-bedroom house in seven acres in Auchterarder, Perthshire, has gone up for sale for £3.4million
  • The property had originally cost £10million to build and is thought to be Scotland’s most expensive modern home
  • Built in 2007, it boasts a gymnasium, cinema, spa, a two-bedroom house, billiards room and a man-made lake 
  • Its previous owner is former Rangers FC shareholder Graham Gillespie who went bankrupt in 2012 
  • Home was repossessed after Mr Gillespie’s property and mining empire collapsed with more than £12million of debt 

By

Jennifer Newton for MailOnline


Published:
11:32 EST, 25 January 2015

|
Updated:
19:22 EST, 25 January 2015

Scotland’s most expensive modern home which boasts sprawling views of Gleneagles has gone on the market for £3.4million despite it costing almost £10million to build.

Kirkton Park, which sits in seven acres near Auchterarder, Perthshire is up for sale after its previous owner, former Rangers FC shareholder Graham Gillespie, went bankrupt, and the property was repossessed.

The six-bedroom luxury home was built in 2007 and boasts a gymnasium, cinema, spa and a two bedroom house.

Kirkton Park, in Auchterarder, Perthshire, which has gone on the market for £3.4million, making it Scotland's most expensive modern-built home 

Kirkton Park, in Auchterarder, Perthshire, which has gone on the market for £3.4million, making it Scotland’s most expensive modern-built home 

The property, formerly owned by ex-Rangers FC shareholder Graham Gillespie, is set in seven acres and a man-made lake sits in the middle of the grounds

The property, formerly owned by ex-Rangers FC shareholder Graham Gillespie, is set in seven acres and a man-made lake sits in the middle of the grounds

The sprawling estate in Perthshire has views of Gleneagles, which hosted last year's Ryder Cup, as well as the village of Logiealmond  

The sprawling estate in Perthshire has views of Gleneagles, which hosted last year’s Ryder Cup, as well as the village of Logiealmond  

There is also a drawing room, dining room, a billiards room, study and domestic offices.

A man-made lake also sits in the grounds and there is also a garage big enough for four cars.

The property is surrounded by a stone wall and boasts views over last year’s Ryder Cup venue Gleneagles and the village of Logiealmond.

Chris Hall, a selling agent at Rettie estate agents said: ‘The house was built to an exceptional standard and high quality.

The entrance of the property has an open fireplace along with a stone staircase which leads to an open gallery landing 

The entrance of the property has an open fireplace along with a stone staircase which leads to an open gallery landing 

The house was built for £10million in 2007 and includes a gymnasium, cinema and spa as well as a big open plan kitchen and dining room

The house was built for £10million in 2007 and includes a gymnasium, cinema and spa as well as a big open plan kitchen and dining room

Two-bedroom house
The spa

Kirkton Park also has a two bedroom house, left, and as well as a spa area, right. There has already been interest in the property from potential buyers 

It was built on the site of a former barn and steading. It’s a house of high value in a Scottish context and Gleneagles helps.

‘A lot of Scottish wealthy businessmen have homes in the Gleneagles district.

‘Its an expensive house in the Scottish context, but if you wanted to build a house of this quality, it is going to cost you an awful lot of money.

Mr Hall added that the house had cost up to £10million to build and there had already been interest from potential buyers.

He explained: ‘People who know the cost of building and renovating houses are keen on it.

One of the main reception rooms in Kirkton Park. The property was built on the site of a former barn and steading in Auchterarder 

One of the main reception rooms in Kirkton Park. The property was built on the site of a former barn and steading in Auchterarder 

The six-bedroom house has natural stone walls throughout the property as well as underfloor heating and extensive oak panel flooring 

The six-bedroom house has natural stone walls throughout the property as well as underfloor heating and extensive oak panel flooring 

The swimming pool in the estate's gymnasium and spa. The previous owner, businessman Graham Gillespie, moved out of the property 11 months ago 

The swimming pool in the estate’s gymnasium and spa. The previous owner, businessman Graham Gillespie, moved out of the property 11 months ago 

‘This is due to the money they are saving as opposed to doing it themselves.’

The house was repossessed after former owner Mr Gillespie went bankrupt in 2012 with more than £12million of debt.

At one point he was one of Scotland’s richest men until his empire, based on mining and property, collapsed.

Mr Gillespie moved out of the property 11 months ago, and the sale will go towards paying off his debt.

Xmas Holidays