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It’s a changing world. In the years preceding the current dire straits the economy finds itself in a shift had begun to take hold that saw an increasing number of start up businesses not based on the high streets or nestled in low-rent office spaces but taking full advantage of the internet’s large market and lack of requirement for a physical business presence.

Of course, the recession unfortunately meant that the number of start-ups that failed within their first year increased but it did not reduce the amount of companies trying. In fact, it’s arguable that during the recession there were more internet-based company start ups than ever before. It’s a straightforward enough : someone is made redundant, thinks ‘nuts to this, I’ll do it for myself’ and makes full use of the tools offered by the internet to do so.

The best part about it is that a large number of these new companies, having found their niche and the ability to reach their market effectively, do well. Some do very well and, despite the doom and gloom printed on every financial headline, grow. Suddenly, and it can be sudden, meetings are required and while running an office from the spare room and working in your pajamas is fine for you, it’s not going to wash with new clients or suppliers.

Accordingly, the home office is growing, in more ways than one. But while thought is given to products or services, prices, whether to wear a

messy home office

suit or go for the ‘smart casual’ look and even whether to let the family dog continue dozing in the corner, not too much thought is given to the office furniture and what it says about your business. Office furniture can make the difference between a home office and a client friendly home office and it needn’t break the bank at such a vital time for your young business.

The trick is, of course, putting a bit of thought into it rather than merely grabbing whatever’s available quickest and cheapest. It will depend on your bisiness type of couse but something as simple as some quality used contemporary office furniture will not only give you the work station you require but will also create an environment that encourages business and gives the impression of a professional workspace in a way that the old family table and a couple of mismatched chairs simply won’t.

sleek home officeAgain, thanks to the changing world, this furniture needn’t be expensive or of poor quality. The internet affords a wealth of choice when it comes to finding a supplier to suit your budget and while it’s an unfortunate twist of events for some, the amount of large companies going to the wall also means that office clearance sales can provide plenty of quality, nearly-new, second hand office furniture that will perfectly suit the home office or office with a budget.

Furnishing your new businesses workspace with professional office furniture will help show visiting clients and suppliers that yours is a successful business, one that’s taken seriously, helping inspire confidence in it and, ultimately, helping it grow further still.

Time To Reconsider House Signs

It’s a sad fact but I’m pretty sure that were they to be asked what they think about house signs, chances are a lot of people will conjure up images of poorly made, heavily lacquered slabs of wood about an inch thick complete with bark effect on the sides and a ‘witty’ phrase hacked into it like “llamedos” and the like.

The reason to consider this sad is that it’s meant house signs are often relegated to the ‘tacky’ file rather than being given the recognition deserved as a stylish and effective addition to your home. It’s likely the reason that many house owners no longer think of making this addition despite the low price to high impact ratio.

These days personalised signs for your home are not restricted to the aforementioned slab of poor taste but can be found in a wide variety of materials and finishes, all personalised to your taste, home number, name or – providing it’s not spine-chillingly cringeworthy – a funny or sentimental one liner.slate house sign

House signs serve as a reflection of your house. If you put attention and care into your decorating and your garden, why not continue this with a stylish house sign? It’s no longer a case that they have to cost a fortune and be restricted to styles that don’t suit your taste. The rise in online purchasing has lead to a wealth of choice for every aspect of life and house signs are no exception.

Slate house signs, for example, can provide a look that’s at once contemporary and authentic and would look the part whether nestled amongst ivy or standing proud attached to brickwork or a post. You can get signs or plaques in brushed aluminium for a more crisp, architectural finish or a crisp, clear acrylic sign to really help your name or number stand out. Or, yes, even wood though given the extremities of weather it’s likely to face it would need to be heavily treated to withstand the elements and wouldn’t look as striking as those made from more modern materials.

Aside from helping your house stand apart from the others, there’s a pretty practical purpose that’s well served by adding such a feature to your home – especially if yours happens to be a house name out away from the well ordered town or city centre: deliveries. With the growth of online purchases creating increasing home deliveries, having a distinctive sign ensures that a delivery driver won’t easily miss your property. I’ve known many a person living in more rural areas who have had drivers give up trying to find their house. While there’s always the element of drivers getting lost, having your house name or number clearly displayed will always make things easier.

With the array and variety of styles and materials available it’s easy to choose a personalised house sign that adds a touch of style to your house.

When you have limited space and big ideas, your ideal kitchen can seem like an impossible dream. If you have big ambitions but very little room, take a look at these kitchen design ideas that will make the most of your space and make your kitchen work for you.

Walls and ceilings

It may seem odd but making the most of these areas, rather than using the limited surface spaces in your smaller kitchen is guaranteed to make it seem more spacious. A wall mounted rack will save you space in cabinets.

In addition to using the wall space, think about maximising space on the ceiling! Hanging racks for pots and kitchen essentials can be found relatively cheaply (under £50) on both the high street and online. If you want to make it all look more uniform, make sure your pots and pans are all one colour and stick to a theme – otherwise it could look cluttered.

Cupboard doors

Increase the storage capacity of your cupboard by adding accessories to the back of the door. Spaces for items like salt and pepper pots, herbs, spices and canned goods, will keep your surfaces clutter free.

The same is true for your bin – if you can purchase or build a kitchen with a bin integrated to the back of one of the storage cupboards, it will increase the floor space you have for your kitchen design!

An island

Once you’ve made more floor space, you may have enough room for a freestanding island. This offers more surface space and purchasing one that slides away into your existing kitchen cabinets will maximise effectiveness and improve the functionality of a small kitchen.

The illusion of space

If you have the means, it can be a great idea to keep the floor from the adjacent room consistent with that of the kitchen. It will create uniformity and the idea of a larger space.

De-clutter!

On a micro level, simply chucking away any non-essentials such as items you haven’t used for 1-5 years will create space. Although it sounds ridiculously simple, lots of people love to hoard that fondue set that’s never seen the light of day.

When faced with a small kitchen, many see the negatives – less space to cook, no room for all the things they currently have and it all seems a bit of a headache. However, using these space saving measures will help and look on the bright side – you can afford to choose higher end materials minus the higher end cost you’d get kitting out a massive kitchen and you still get the same functionality!

 

Everyone knows that exercise benefits you both physically and mentally – but how can you make sure you’re getting enough of it crammed into every week?
The experts recommend you get thirty minutes of moderate activity at least five times a week. Yes, five. It seems like a lot. It is a lot and no, it won’t just happen – so you need to get off your hindy and make a plan.

You need to choose an exercise that is right for you rather than one that makes you want to do the following; a. Vomit b. Give up before you’ve started 3. Throw yourself off the nearest tall object.

If you really, really hate exercise the best activity is start walking. This doesn’t mean going for treks but instead choosing to walk places rather than get in a car. I know it’s tempting to say ‘screw it’, especially when it’s raining but maybe choose a good playlist to listen to while you walk and take your mind off exercising.
You could also try investigating what is on in your local area. Phone around leisure centres or choose a trainer. In my area, there is a really great personal trainer in Tonbridge; so I’m sure you’ll find someone who will support you.

Don’t always assume the gym is the answer – in many instances, it’s not. Where I come from the exercise classes in Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells are a bit hit and miss; the only solution is to try them all out. However, if you hate them – just don’t go again (but make sure you pick something else like a rambling club or similar).

Try to make sure you start gradually and slowly increase the amount you’re doing and the intensity you’re exercising at. There’s no point in doing exercise five times a week for the first week, then burning yourself out so you can’t perform for the next three. Start at twice or even once a week and work your way up to five sessions.
If you’re finding motivation is a real problem then pen the sessions into your diary. That way, ‘being too busy’ isn’t an excuse. You’ve put it in there and dedicated time to it so get on with it!

Whatever you decide to do, please make sure you remember to warm up and cool down, I don’t want to be responsible for any overzealous exercising resulting in injury! Try to keep all of this at the top of your mind before you go – trust me, you’ll feel so much better once you’ve done it.

The UK roads are missing something. While it’s obvious to point out how the dwindling natural resources mean that we should be more conscious of our impact on the environment, that fuel prices are making more efficient cars the better choice, can’t we still have some fun? Can’t we still inject a bit of power and, dare I say, muscle into our daily commutes.

I have a small and economical car. I will hold my hands up and say, again, that on my drive (sitting on top of the snow as it weighs no more than a kitten’s fart) is a Peugeot 107. I use it for most of my routine-type driving. However, on the rare occasion that I need to plow up some serious motorway miles I’d rather have something that delivers. Power, guts and a big grin would be nice, infact. And now I think I know where I can get it – the Vauxhall VXR8. What’s more it’s hitting the UK roads in March next year with a new look, more guts than I’d know what to do with and so much power I get giddy thinking about the prospect. Oh, and it’s a ‘saloon’ so I could arguably call it  a work car and use it for heading to meeetings with ease.

Vauxhall-VXR8

The 2011 Vauxhall VXR8 will be available from just 34 dealers next year and the prices will be starting at £49,500 (that’s including the dreaded 20% VAT). Now, granted, that’s not your average Ford Mondeo – or Vauxhall Vectra – price. But for your near-£50k you get an awful lot of car. This beast is powered by a 6.2 litre Chevrolet V8 (oh I love just saying that out loud ‘Chevrolet V8′) that’ll kick out 425hp and hurl you to 100km/h in less than 5 seconds and project you all the way up to 250 km/h (if you can find sufficient prowling space that is).

It’ll feature the Magnetic Ride Control which makes the system adapt to road conditions 1000 times per second so the commute will leave your rear-end feeling as comfortable as possible within the HSV performance seats. There’s a new control panel which feeds the driver runtime information including torque level, g-force an drift angle and a 5-inch colour touchscreen. Oh, and there’s Bluetooth connectivity availability too if you want to phone your mates and scream with manic delight every time you put your foot down.

My only hope, aside from Santa depositing £50k in my bank account over Christmas, is that they can do it in a colour that’s not yellow.

Chrylser is one of those American auto companies that I’ve found myself rooting for over and over again. When the Big Three were in dire straits last year I was keeping my fingers firmly crossed that Lee Iacocca’s salvaging of the company in the 80’s wouldn’t have been in vain and that, somehow, they could come through and triumph again.

Thanks to a deal with Fiat, they did and things are looking up for the company as they look to recover from the beating they and so many other companies took in the crisis. I was intrigued, then, when I saw a headline “2010 Dodge Caliber: Noisy but nice” and, unfortunately, more than a little sickened by what I saw.

Don’t get me wrong, the article had plenty of phrase for Dodge’s Caliber – it’s fuel economy and practicality of it’s “station wagon shape” met with as much praise as its friendly prices, solid quality feel of material and improved interior.

What made me feel like I shouldn’t have looked at the article after lunch was the car itself. I’m sorry, Dodge, but what on earth made you feel this car looked good?

dodge caliber

Especially in that colour. Regardless of how great the interior may be, how comfortable the ride and how friendly the prices, there’s no way on God’s green earth that I would want to drive something that looks more like the exterior was an afterthought than anything else.

Now come on. If you’re going to salvage a company you need a car that people want – look at Chrylser’s K-Cars with the Dodge Aries. Not this. And, Dodge, you know you can design something that leaves my jaw on the desk, remember the 2006 Charger Sedan?

Dodge Charger
I do. I’m not even American and I wanted to be tearing around town in that. It looked like pure muscle bolted to an engine that would wake dinosaurs on the way to the office.  At the very least, please remove that colour from your options.

Alfa’s Pandoin: What The….

Concept cars never fail to amaze me. While a lot of cars that hit the road can look pretty odd, make you wonder if there’s something funny in the water or question what comittee was behind a certain design, concept cars can be the surest sign that the design department has gotten hold of a pretty good stash.

Take, for example, the Alfa Romeo Concept Pandion:

Alfa Romeo Pandion

From the front 3/4 view this thing looks, to my mind, fantastic. It’s like some hybrid between Italian racing lines and beauty and the muscle and guts of an American muscle car. And what’s not to like about that sort of mix? The rear view just adds to that impression:

Alfa Romeo Pandion

While it’s got a 4.7 litre, 450hp engine attached to it, this is a concept car and, accordingly, not likely to be prowling any roads too soon. However, given that concept cars will invariably inform the styling of later production models, I can only hope for two things: one, everybody else is as enthusiastic about this bruiser as I am and two, that they sort out the side-view as between a jaw-dropping front and rear set of cross-sectionals, something went a little bit “blah”.

Alfa Romeo Pandion

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