Tag Archives: UK

Radiohead announce UK shows

imageRadiohead to play in London and Manchester with tickets on sale from Friday.

Radiohead have announced that they will play their first UK shows in four years this October.

The band, currently touring the United States, will play two nights at the O2 Arena in south east London and one night at the Manchester Arena.

Tickets go on general sale on Friday and the band have announced a series of measures to stop them being sold on by touts, including limiting the number of tickets that can be bought and insisting that the payment card holder shows photo ID to get into the gig.

Hire and fire’ has destroyed Britain’s jobs economy

imageEurope’s biggest problem now is youth unemployment – we should be looking at the German labour model

These days we tend to talk about the divisions in Europe as one between net creditors and debtors. In reality this is just a sideshow. There is a much more fundamental gulf, hinted at by Angela Merkel in her Davos speech yesterday: between countries with organised industrial training systems such as Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Scandinavia, Austria and Switzerland – all currently with jobless rates of between 3% and 7% – and those with much higher rates of unemployment, often in double digits, in peripheral Europe.

Fox cancel Steven Spielberg drama Terra Nova

imageUS TV network Fox has ditched Steven Spielberg drama Terra Nova after just one season.

US TV network Fox has ditched Steven Spielberg drama Terra Nova after just one season.

The big budget prehistoric series averaged 7.5 million viewers in America but did not do as well as hoped.

It is reported that 20th Century Fox TV will now try to sell it to other networks.

After the premiere was delayed twice, the series made it to air in September but had mixed reviews. The final episode of the first series was shown on 19 December.

The drama starred Jason O’Mara, Stephen Lang, Christine Adams and Shelley Conn.

Britain pledges jobs, protection

imageBritain is promising to help create more than 10 000 jobs and protect dozens of communities from crime as it increases its development commitment to the Caribbean over the next four years, the United Kingdom Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has said.

Mitchell has ended a brief visit to several Caribbean countries and according to a statement from the British High Commission in Barbados, London is promising Jamaica that UK assistance will target 50 of the most volatile inner-city areas.

Mediterranean cruise guide

imageMediterranean cruises are a wonderful way of taking in a number of fascinating sights with a minimum of hassle. Douglas Ward offers a complete guide to taking a Mediterranean cruise.

Mediterranean cruises can be rewarding in so many ways – culturally, educationally, visually, architecturally, and historically, as well as from a culinary viewpoint. The Mediterranean is the second most popular cruise region in the world, after the Caribbean. It is loosely divided into two cruising areas: the Western Mediterranean (typically including France, Spain, Portugal and Italy) and Eastern Mediterranean (countries east of Italy, such as Croatia, Greece and Turkey).


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Whitney Houston back in top 40 charts

image200,000 Whitney Houston records bought in a week as I Will Always Love You reaches number 14 in the singles chart.

Three of Whitney Houston’s best-known hits are back in the UK’s top 40 following the star’s death.

I Will Always Love You hit number 14 in the official singles chart yesterday, while I Wanna Dance With Somebody went in at number 20 and One Moment In Time was in the number 40 spot.

The singer, who was yesterday buried in Newark, New Jersey, was found submerged in the bath in her hotel room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles last Saturday.

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Wego Travel Search

Wego is the leading travel search site in the Asia Pacific and Middle East. Available in more than 50 localised country sites and 30 languages, Wego searches hundreds of global travel websites including airlines, hotel chains and online travel agents, using powerful yet simple to use technology. We have been around since 2005 and we power travel search for various first tier players such as Yahoo!, MSN, STB & News.com.au.

Snow: fresh travel chaos looms as Britain hit by ‘freezing rain’ weather

imageA blanket of snow will spread across the Home Counties on Thursday night amid warnings of fresh travel chaos and freezing rain.

Forecasters warned up to four inches of snow will hit most of the south as two weather systems collide, with temperatures struggling to remain above freezing.

The Met Office issued a rare “freezing rain” warning for most of northern England and southern Scotland, prompting fears of more havoc on the country’s fragile transport networks.

Tour Auto: seeing France the fast way

imageAs one of the greatest classic car events around, the Tour Auto combines action, adrenalin, stunning scenery and sumptuous lunches.

The annual Tour Auto is the most extraordinary classic car event many of you will have never heard of. Held in France for the last 20 years, it’s a loving recreation of the Tour de France Automobile, which was first run in 1899 and took competitors on a gruelling route around the country’s nascent road network in examples of the very earliest “horseless carriages”.

MITIE CEO named National Business Awards ‘Leader of the Year’

imageMITIE is delighted that its chief executive Ruby McGregor-Smith was named Orange Leader of the Year on Tuesday night , at the National Business Awards in partnership with Orange, held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. Ruby was honoured with the evening’s highest accolade for her outstanding achievement and effective leadership, growing a successful FTSE 250 company and nurturing a dedicated and engaged workforce.

Upsides to the downturn for property investors

imageThe uncertainties facing the market in 2012 will create unexpected bargains for keen-eyed property investors. Graham Norwood explains how to make the most of the tricky year ahead. New Year resolutions tend to be about losing something from your life. Weight, cigarettes, or that third glass of wine. But canny house buyers will be doing just the opposite; using 2012’s uncertain outlook to make fresh fortunes from anticipated price cuts.

Industry pundits say values in most areas will tumble by as much as seven per cent in the year to come. This is thanks to a triple whammy of rising unemployment, public sector cuts and a weakening UK economy. Add in the effect of inflation, currently at five per cent, and the price fall could be the equivalent of 12 per cent, or £60,000 on a £500,000 home.

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Broadband made better. Superfast broadband, unlimited downloads and free award winning UK based customer service available .

Worldwide travel insurance

Get cheap Worldwide Travel Insurance now, instant quote for Single Trip Holiday Insurance, Car Hire Excess Insurance and more for UK, EU & International

Worldwide travel insurance

Get cheap Worldwide Travel Insurance now, instant quote for Single Trip Holiday Insurance, Car Hire Excess Insurance and more for UK, EU & International

Annual travel insurance

Buy cheap travel insurance from InsureandGo, the UK’s largest direct travel insurer. Wide range of policies available. Prices from under. Kids go free.


We’ll insure your pet from eight weeks old. There is no upper age limit and we will pay your vet directly. John Lewis – one of the UK’s most trusted brands.


Free debt help and advice for UK debt problems – get debt free with Consumer Credit Counselling Service.

Norwich & Peterborough BS

As one of the UK’s leading building societies, Norwich and Peterborough building society are proud to offer multiple financial services to our customers. NPBS is


Site providing information and assistance to UK industry on exporting and export policy.



Directgov – the official UK government website for citizens

Jet2 Travel

Cheap flights with UK airline Jet2.com. Allocated seating, 22kg baggage allowance & great flight times to fantastic destinations. Book your cheap flight today!


Golf holidays, Golf breaks, Golf Hotels and Resorts in the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal amongst others from Europe’s largest golf travel company

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Booking.com, la web numero 1 en alojamineto del Planeta Tierra, garantiza los mejores precios para cualquier tipo de propiedad, desde campings a heteles de lujo 5 estrellas


Adviceguide provides information on your rights, including benefits, housing, family matters and employment, and on debt, consumer and legal issues. Produced by Citizens Advice, you can get information for all four UK countries – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Reed Global

Find the best talent in the UK right here.  A specialist job search and recruitment services site for employers and jobseekers – permanent, contract, temporary and graduate jobs.  Search by keyword, industry, salary and location.


SALE! Private number plates from . Call us  days. Free magazine and Price Promise. UK’s number plate specialist.

1st Phone Cards

UK based company selling phone cards for many countries to the rest of the world. Searchable rates by selecting locations. Email and phone customer support

Ukcheapest Domain

At last, you’ve found a UK based domain registration and web hosting provider that won’t mess you around. Our philosophy is to offer genuine excellently priced services with no balloon payments or surprises at renewal time

Ladybird Survey

The Ladybird Survey aims to facilitate the recording of all the UK’s ladybirds.


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Leading broadband provider for fast, reliable broadband and phone with based support. Great deals on broadband and phone packages! Buy online.

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Mobile Phone XchangeO2 is the UK’s leading provider of mobile phones and broadband, offering the best mobile phone, sim only, and broadband deals. Save money by buying direct!

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Digital Uk

When your home switches to digital will depend on where you live in the UK. All households with a Freeview TV or box will need to re-tune at both stages of switchover and from time to time to keep receiving channels and services

Digital Choices

Compare digital, cable and satellite TV packages, providers and channels in the UK. Get fair and impartial advice about the digital switchover, Freeview and which provider is right for you.

Top Up TV

Top Up TV is a UK digital TV service provider, brought to you with digital TV on demand, digital TV recorder plus digital TV on demand.


E.ON provide gas and electricity as well as renewable energy to the home and to business within the UK.

EDF Energy

EDF Energy is one of the largest UK home and business energy suppliers. We supply gas and electricity at competitive prices. Switch to EDF Energy today.

Southern Electric

Southern Electric is one of the biggest energy companies in the UK. Green electricity, gas and great prices are available when you sign up online.

Cia Motorcycle Insurance

CIA Insurance is one of the top motorbike insurance brokers in the UK, with over twenty years experience in the UK. Finding cheap motorcycle insurance is easy with CIA Insurance – we do all the hard work by teaming up with our panel of leading motorcycle insurers to find you the best motorbike insurance deals whatever age, make or model of your bike.

MotorCycle Direct

Bike insurance from MotorCycle Direct. Get your motorcycle insurance now. We compare prices from all the main UK motorbike insurers.

Devitt Motorcycle Insurance

Devitt is a specialist UK motorcycle insurance broker. Compare motorbike insurance quotes from our panel of insurers and see if you could save when insuring


We are one of the leading suppliers of Travel Insurance in the UK and our cheap travel insurance provides you with comprehensive Holiday Insurance cover.

Adrian Flux

Adrian Flux is the UK’s largest specialist motor insurance broker, covering everything from classic and vintage cars, right through to heavily modified sports cars.


We provide health insurance with a difference. We were the first health insurer in the UK to reward you for looking after yourself and our members’ wellness continues to be central to our philosophy.

MoneyPlus Group

MoneyPlus Group is one of the leading providers of debt advice in the UK. Over the years MoneyPlus Group has helped tens of thousands of people who have felt the strain of unsecured debt.

Fair Investment

Fair Investment Company is an independent UK savings and investment specialist. We provide saving and investment solutions from high street and private banks as well as investment providers whether you are an individual, business or charity.

Secured and Homeowner loans

We specialize in secured and homeowner loans for almost any purpose. Please use the form below and within minutes we will find the best loan rate for you from top UK lenders. Our service is not only free but also comes with no obligation offer and no initial credit check.

Jobs market faces grim 2011

imageThe next 12 months could see Britain’s employment prospects dip even lower than they did in 2010.

Up to 200,000 jobs could be shed in 2011 as unemployment rises to nine per cent, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has warned.

Its annual employment barometer forecasts public sector job losses will total 120,000, with private sector employment falling by 80,000.

More optimistic scenarios are plausible, especially if the Office for Budget Responsibility’s current central economic forecasts are achieved.

Even a slight slip from its predictions would leave the UK economy in dire straits, however.

Why Hollywood needs more women in charge

imageDenise Ream, producer of Pixar’s Cars 2, talks about the increasing number of female big hitters in the film industry.

How important is it that more women are in positions like yours? And do you feel a responsibility to promote role models for girls?

I do feel a responsibility. I was very pleased with Holly Shiftwell, the Emily Mortimer character in Cars 2, who originally had a much smaller role in the film. Due to Emily’s performance and the intelligence that she brought to the role, Holly ended up becoming a major character in the film.

Cunard to register ships in Bermuda

imageThe luxury cruise operator Cunard has confirmed that its ships will no longer be registered in Britain for the first time in its 171-year history.

Cunard’s vessels will instead be registered in Bermuda, enabling it to take advantage of the lucrative market for weddings at sea – ceremonies which are not recognised under British law.

This means the home port of Southampton, which is currently displayed on the stern of the company’s three ships, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, is likely to be replaced by Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda.

Top 10 property safe havens abroad

As an economic hurricane rages through traditional destinations in Europe and the US, buyers must look abroad to these top 10 property safe havens.

The euro is in crisis. Stock markets are in freefall. Two prime ministers have been sacked. Italian debt is at record levels, and Spain faces an early election tomorrow. Across the pond, America’s annual budget deficit is measured in trillions.

One by one the traditional destinations for British house-hunters are becoming badlands. Rather than stay in the quagmire, it’s time for buyers to seek new pastures. There are always safe havens if you look hard enough.

Richard Green: Mayfair’s new temple to modern art

As Richard Green expands his London gallery empire, Colin Gleadell looks back at his remarkable rise to the top.


Tuesday sees the official opening of one of the most talked about art galleries in London. Bang next to Sotheby’s, above which it rises by a single, graceful story, the new Richard Green gallery looks as though it has been there for ever. That’s due to the skill of Young Architect of the Year contender George Saumarez Smith, who has effectively rebuilt two previously unremarkable buildings as one, and cloaked it with a magnificent neo-classical façade replete with a Hellenistic-style frieze that spans the width of the building.

40 years of Queen: Brian May interview

imageAs a lavish new history of one of the world’s greatest rock bands is published, Queen’s guitarist Brian May grants a rare interview to tell Peter Stanford about his fight with depression, and the long shadow cast by Freddie Mercury’s death

‘It’s like looking through a family album,” Brian May muses softly as he turns the pages of 40 Years of Queen, the sumptuously illustrated new history of the legendary rock band. “But where’s Freddie on this one?” he puzzles, coming to double page photograph, taken from the back of the stage in a stadium in Ireland in the summer of 1986.

Life and Fate: vivid, heartbreaking, illuminating and utterly brilliant

imageRadio 4’s eight-hour adaptation of Vasily Grossman’s epic Life and Fate represents the pinnacle of radio drama

Everything about Vasily Grossman’s novel, Life and Fate is epic. It’s 900 pages long. It was deemed so dangerous when published in 1959 that the KBG arrested the book itself, and even confiscated the typewriter ribbons Grossman had used. Praise from its fans is dizzying, with the book described by many as the most important of the 20th century. And Radio 4 has this week for the first time ever given all of the station’s drama slots – bar The Archers – over to an eight-hour dramatisation of it.

Andrew Marr, on Feedback last week, recalled the moment Mark Damazer – the former Radio 4 controller who was responsible for this immersive approach to the drama – pressed a copy of the novel onto him, saying, “If you want to be a serious person, you have to read this book”.

Online House Hunter: Middle ground

imageIF you want to live at the very centre of things, where should you start searching?

The centre of Britain has long been sought but even in this age of the Sat Nav it’s not easy to find. For a start, do you want the start of Britain, the UK, the British Isles, England or some other definition of your home land. And what do you mean by the ‘centre’ – the middle of a circle that encompasses everything, or the middle of diagonal lines from the furthest land points?

The BBC looked to settle the argument in 2002 when they reported on Ordnance Survey’s definition of the centre of Great Britain: “According to the Ordnance Survey’s definition, the centre of Great Britain (factoring in its 401 associated islands) lies on Brennand Farm, about seven kilometres north-west of Dunsop Bridge.” That’s Dunsop Bridge in Lancashire. But all you’ll find at the ‘centre’ is a peat bog.

From The Fades to Misfits – is youth drama leading the way?


Fantasy series The Fades joins Misfits, Skins and Being Human in demonstrating that youth drama is among the most bold and innovative on TV

“It was about a boy who investigates ghosts that live in pipes with his Grandad,” says writer Jack Thorne of the very early drafts of his BBC3 fantasy series The Fades. “It was shit”. Fortunately the show that the Skins and This is England scriptwriter did eventually come to complete – the first episode of which aired last night – is weird, off the wall, annoying in places and with a bit too much wisecracking. But far from shit.

From PJ Harvey to Keith Richards: who deserves an award?


Are there just too many award ceremonies?

There were two in London last night, with some guests apparently bustling between both red carpets.

In the Grosvenor Hotel Ballroom, PJ Harvey was the deserving winner of the Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize, an edgy yet esteemed artist being justifiably celebrated for creating a substantial career best work of poetry and power. Meanwhile over at the Royal Opera House, Model Lara Stone was being hailed as Woman Of The Year by GQ magazine for (as far as I can see) getting her kit off in fashion shoots for glossy magazines.

Rothko in Britain: a timeline



A new show at the Whitechapel Gallery celebrates a landmark exhibition which would seal a special bond between the American painter Mark Rothko and his British contemporaries.


• Rothko sailed to Britain – he never flew – for a holiday with his wife and daughter Kate. It was his third time in Europe.

• He stayed with his close friend and painter William Scott – whom he had met in New York in 1953 – and his family in their cottage in Somerset.

• At lunch with British abstract painters Peter Lanyon and Terry Frost, Rothko expressed his frustration with his work being misunderstood. He said: “You think my paintings are calm, like windows in some cathedral? You should look again. I’m the most violent of all the American painters. Behind those colours there hides the final cataclysm.”

Over 90,000 UK jobs are now in danger

imageAccording to m03 Power’s Chief Executive Officer, Ken Moss, Government’s recently proposed feed-in tariff cuts could put 90,000 jobs, which would have been generated by Britain’s burgeoning solar industry, in jeopardy.

The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) announced its proposal to cut the feed-in-tariff for solar developments larger than 50kW by a shocking 72%. This, says Moss, puts thousands of jobs at risk.
“A buoyant solar power sector would have stimulated at least 90,000 jobs by the time Government spending cuts really start to bite later this year if the feed-in-tariffs had remained where they were,” he explained.

Britain now has a two-speed jobs market with private firms hiring while the public sector loses staff

imageDemand for permanent staff is increasing, according to a new survey. But the need for temporary staff is most encouraging with the most positions available since May 2009.

The report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG revealed that there are two different employment stories – in the public and private sectors.

Kevin Green, the REC’s chief executive, said: “The UK now has a two-speed labour market. The private sector continues to hire in increasing numbers while the public sector is shedding jobs.

“This is highlighted in the latest Report on Jobs which reports that the nursing, medical and care sectors have significantly declined from a year ago. In comparison, the IT and computing sector saw accelerated growth over the same period.

Racing David Coulthard

It was virtual versus reality in what was being billed as the world’s biggest race, but just how did David Coulthard get on?


So this is it, virtual versus reality in the world’s biggest race. In one corner David Coulthard, 13 times Formula One race winner and current commentary box sidekick to Martin Brundle. His weapon: a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. His task: to set the fastest lap possible around a “mystery” UK circuit in a 15-minute time slot.

His opponents are many and varied. In fact, with the race open to anybody around the world with a Playstation 3, a copy of Gran Turismo 5 and an internet connection, the scope is enormous. For my part, I’ll be joining six competition winners at Mercedes-Benz World in Surrey. Our job is to take on DC in real-time, setting the fastest lap we can manage in a virtual version of the SLS AMG, on a virtual version of the same track.

Ben Nicholson’s northern period serves up a Middlesbrough treat

The Northerner’s art supremo, Alan Sykes, inspects mima’s latest exhibition with a learned Cumbrian eye


Ben Nicholson one of the pioneers of modernist painting in the UK, is generally associated with London and the St Ives School which he and his friend Kit Wood effectively founded.

However, Nicholson spent a significant part of his early development living with his first wife Winifred Nicholson at a family farm of her’s right on Hadrian’s Wall, not far from Carlisle, where they were visited by many other artists from their circle, including Paul Nash, Ivon Hitchens and Jean Hugo.

5 travel scams to avoid

As travel is getting more and more popular, scams related to travel are also getting increasingly widespread. Even the most seasoned traveler can fall pray to a wily scammer, because just as travelers get creative when it comes to their trips, so do scammers and their attempts to leech some money off you.


Picking a naive tourist’s pockets is small fry compared to some rip-offs that have been heard of nowadays. So here are 5 travel scams to avoid in some of the most popular travel destinations in the world.
Orlando, USA

Unfortunately hotels around Disney World are not protected against identity theft, and some scammers deviously capitalized on tourists’ craving for pizza. Pizza menu were slipped under doors, guests would call and order, but their credit card numbers were not used to pay for pizza, but for identity theft. Of course, this kind of scam can happen anywhere, because scammers can rely on the fact that tourists (and often, locals too) don’t know that much about local businesses.

TEFL Jobs in the UK

These positions have been filled for Summer 2011.
Check back later in the year for Summer 2012 Jobs.
imageIf you fancy having an opportunity teaching in the UK before leaving to teach overseas this is perfect for you.

To apply for these positions you have to have 100-hours TEFL qualification under your belt.

They are looking for TEFL graduates who will work in summer 2011. You will be teaching mostly French, Italian and Spanish students who have come to the UK to study at language schools on courses from 2 -8 weeks. You can decide whether you would like to teach for one 2-week course of stay for the full weeks.

You will be teaching either 4-5 lessons in the morning of each day, to beginner, elementary and intermediate students. You can also choose to help out with afternoon activities and trips.
You will be paid:

£36 for 4 lessons a day
£46 for 5 lessons a day
£19 for 2-hours help with afternoon activities

Our positions in the UK include Ayr, Rugby, Coventry, High, Wycombe, Hampshire, Somerset, Cornwall and Devon. These are residential opportunities if you cannot commute.

To guarantee this position you will have to pass an interview with the school.

Jobs market faces grim 2011

imageThe next 12 months could see Britain’s employment prospects dip even lower than they did in 2010.

Up to 200,000 jobs could be shed in 2011 as unemployment rises to nine per cent, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has warned.

Its annual employment barometer forecasts public sector job losses will total 120,000, with private sector employment falling by 80,000.

More optimistic scenarios are plausible, especially if the Office for Budget Responsibility’s current central economic forecasts are achieved.

Even a slight slip from its predictions would leave the UK economy in dire straits, however.

Mr Money: Fisker performs a miracle

Telegraph Motoring’s Mr Money, Mike Rutherford, talks to Henrik Fisker about his take on green motoring.


What do you do when you have one of the most glamorous jobs in the global motor industry – chief designer at Aston Martin – but you’ve grown tired of being stuck behind the drawing board in Warwickshire?

If you’re Henrik Fisker, you bravely – foolishly, some would say – turn your back on that safe job and, effectively unemployed, you then sit at your kitchen table quietly designing the petrol-electric car that Aston Martin wouldn’t or couldn’t build when you were in its employ. Next comes the little matter of raising the $1,000 million-plus needed to establish a new motor manufacturing company. After that, the dream becomes reality as you start watching your own production line building your cars which, naturally, wear badges bearing your family name.

The best travel apps

A good smartphone app can be a traveller’s best friend. Francisca Kellett looks at some of the best travel apps on the market.


Smartphones have been to the Noughties what the internet was to the Nineties – nothing short of revolutionary. If you don’t already have one, you soon will. And with a smartphone comes its innovative add-ons – apps, or applications.

Ten billion apps have been downloaded in the past three years. There are 17,000 travel apps on the market, and 160 million app-compatible devices are owned worldwide – iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys and tablet devices such as the iPad.

London’s rich sell as foreign money pours in

Britain’s rich and famous are moving out of central London’s most up-market districts and being replaced by wealthy overseas buyers, according to new research.

imageSavills, the estate agent, says £3.7bn of foreign money is pouring into the prime London housing market every year and especially into areas such as Mayfair, Kensington, Notting Hill and Chelsea.

The demand is leading to UK owners selling their homes and moving to outer London, creating a “champagne tower effect” with the distribution of wealth in the capital.

Savills’ report, called World in London and published on Friday, says British sellers of homes in central London have outnumbered British buyers by 30pc this year, compared with 5pc in 2008. Meanwhile, foreign buyers have outnumbered foreign sellers by 58pc in 2011, up from 23pc in 2008.

How you can cash in your old gadgets for cash

Strapped for cash? If you’re one of the millions of people with a stash of gadgets they never use, why not trade them in?

According to Asda, the numbers of unused gadgets in our homes is worth billions and includes 11 million cameras, 9 million desktop ­computers, 5.5 million laptops, more than a million sat navs and 12 million games consoles.

The trade-in value of mobile phones alone is estimated to be a whopping £700million.

Today’s radio highlights

The best radio programmes on BBC, commercial and digital stations chosen by Gillian Reynolds, the UK’s top radio critic.imageMONDAY 30 MAY

Afternoon Play: Corrinne Come Back and Gone

Radio 4FM, 2.15pm

This is Lenny Henry’s first play for Radio 4 and it is a powerful piece, especially for a Spring Bank Holiday afternoon. Corrinne (Claire Benedict, excellent in the part) left Jamaica years ago, in flight from a brutal husband. Now he’s dead and she’s free to go back to see the three daughters she had to leave behind. They’re grown up now, with lives, families and fears and hopes of their own. Each has strong things to say to Corrinne. But there are still ways in which they can learn from each other, once they can find the courage to be honest.

The 40-something ski bum: Why heavy ski gear needn’t be a burden

Is there any easy way to carry bulky luggage to the Alps? James Bedding offers tips on travelling to Switzerland with skis, snowboards – and other outsize items.


Given the trouble Laurel and Hardy had carrying a piano in ‘The Music Box’ (see footage here), you might think twice about attempting to bring one across Europe and up a vertical mile to a ski resort. Perhaps travelling with a traditional upright piano – an instrument that in Stan and Ollie’s hands turned into a weapon of mass destruction – would be ambitious. But what about carrying a modern digital piano?

It can be done, as I found out recently. Heaving the piano onto the luggage rack of Eurostar may have been a challenge, but wheeling it through the streets of Paris was a breeze, and gliding on the TGV through France and on Swiss trains surprisingly hassle-free.

UK travellers shun foreign holidays

Business travel hit by sharpest decline as visits abroad fell by 15% in 2009,with many Britons opting for UK-based ‘staycation’ Was it plummeting business budgets or, as the local tourism industry would have us believe, a wave of nostalgia for retro seaside holidays?

imageOfficial figures have confirmed the picture of what many referred to as the “staycation” trend in 2009, as visits abroad fell at a record pace last year. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the 15% drop from the year before to 58.6m was the biggest drop since records began in the 1970s.

The main driver in the sharp drop was a fall in business trips, which fell by almost a quarter – while holiday trips declined by 15%. In the other direction, business trips into the UK fell by a fifth, overshadowing a rise in holiday visitors and leaving overall visits by overseas residents down 6.3% to 29.9m.

The best cruise deals on offer

This is the time of year when cruise companies unveil many deals and special offers. Sara Macefield highlights some of the best.
This time of year is traditionally when cruise companis bring out some of their most tempting offers. Known as the “wave” period, it runs during December and January and is marked by discounted prices and other benefits, including cabin upgrades, free port parking and complimentary drinks.

With more ships to fill than ever before in 2011, competition is fierce. Here’s a selection of some of the best deals. Prices are per person and include flights unless otherwise stated.

Customers booking a winter 2012 cruise with Thomson (0871 231 3235; www.thomson.co.uk) by January 31 can enjoy free drinks as part of the company’s £1 million “Great Bar Giveaway”. Thomson Spirit will be based at Limassol, Cyprus, in March and April, 2012, offering one-week eastern Mediterranean voyages visiting Alanya in Turkey, Alexandria and Port Said in Egypt, and Ashdod in Israel. Prices start at £799 and include a free, all-inclusive upgrade.

Experience Carnival Cruises’ newest “fun ship” Carnival Magic, which launches in May and promises, among other things, corkscrew waterslides, an aqua park, mini golf and a seaside theatre. Carnival (0845 351 0556; www.carnivalcruise.co.uk) offers a 12-night fly-cruise from Barcelona with calls including Marseilles, Civitavecchia (for Rome), Naples, Venice (where it spends a night) and Messina in Sicily. Prices start at £1,209, with departures on May 22.

Cruise specialist agency, The Cruise Village (01253 341014; www.thecruisevillage.com) is offering a Royal Caribbean International cruise from Palma aboard Grandeur of the Seas from £381, though this excludes flights. The one-week sailing on May 22 visits Barcelona, Ibiza, Malaga and Gibraltar before returning to Palma.

Spend autumn in the eastern Mediterranean aboard Seabourn Quest, the newest ship of upmarket line Seabourn (0845 070 0500; www.seabourn.com), due to launch in June. A seven-night Turkish Delights and Greek Isles sailing from Istanbul to Athens, starts at £2,149 and includes a suite upgrade. The cruise departs on October 10 with calls at Dikili and Kusadasi in Turkey, plus the Greek islands of Mykonos, Rhodes, Patmos and Mylos.

Cultural cruise line Voyages to Antiquity (0845 437 9737; www.voyagestoantiquity.com) has axed supplements for single travellers on its “Sicily is the Key to Everything” sailing from Athens to Rome on May 20.

The cruise calls at ports in Italy, Malta and Sicily and costs from £2,250. Discounts of up to £1,000 are offered for couples. Also included are tours, wine with dinner and gratuities.

Hurtigruten (0844 448 7601; www.hurtigruten.co.uk) is offering free cabin upgrades on bookings for selected voyages made by March 31. An 11-day Pearls of the Baltic Sea sailing departs on April 25 from Oslo, calling at Copenhagen, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn and Gudhjem before returning to Oslo. It costs from £2,511 cruise-only.

Noble Caledonia (020 7752 0000; www.noble-caledonia.co.uk) is offering savings of up to £500 on a Baltic Renaissance cruise booked by February 28. The 14-night sailing on Island Sky departs on August 9 from Stockholm and finishes in Leith. Ports of call include Helsinki, St Petersburg (where it spends three days), Gdansk and Copenhagen. Prices now start at £3,895.

Enjoy a break in Dubai and travel back to the UK amid the grandeur of Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 on this 21-night package from Reader Offers (0845 458 8909; www.readeroffers.travel). The cruise departs on March 29 and includes four nights in the emirate followed by a 16-night sailing through the Arabian Sea and Red Sea into the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.

Ports of call include Sharm el Sheikh, Monte Carlo and Barcelona. Prices start at £2,399 and include flight; hotel stay and breakfast; upgrade from inside cabin to balcony stateroom; and $300 on-board credit for customers booking Princess or Queen’s Grill suites.

Explore Vietnam on a nine-day voyage from Hong Kong to Singapore with Silversea Cruises (0844 770 9030; www.silversea.com). Highlights include the outcrops of Ha Long Bay and an overnight stop in Vietnam’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh. Other calls include Haiphong (for Hanoi), Chan May (for Da Nang) and Nha Trang. Prices for the Silver Shadow voyage start at £4,223, including drinks and gratuities. A $1,000 on-board spending credit per suite is also included, along with a free shore excursion in Ha Long Bay.

P & O Cruises (0845 678 0014; www.pocruises.com) has slashed £1,100 off the price of its 72-night sailing to Alaska – the first time the line has cruised in the region in nearly 40 years. It departs from Southampton on April 12 and includes two transits of the Panama Canal, with calls in the Caribbean, Mexico, the US west coast and Alaska. Prices start at £6,399 and adults receive an on-board credit of £250.

Across-the-board savings of up to 20 per cent are being offered by tall-ship line Star Clippers (0845 200 6145; www.starclippers.co.uk) on bookings for Mediterranean sailings made by January 31. Customers looking at Caribbean and Central America cruises need to book by April 30.

A saving of £177 is offered on a six-night Caribbean pre-Christmas cruise on Star Clipper, departing from St Maarten on December 17. The itinerary includes Nevis or Saba (depending on the wind); Iles des Saintes in the French Caribbean; Falmouth Harbour, Antigua; and St Barts. Prices start at £708, excluding flights and port charges.

Windstar Cruises (020 7292 2369; www.windstarcruises.co.uk) has reduced the price of one of its Caribbean voyages by more than £650. A round-trip cruise from Barbados on March 13, calling at St Kitts, St Martin, St Barts, Iles des Saintes and St Lucia now starts at £2,485.

AmaWaterways (0808 223 5009; www.amawaterways.co.uk) has waived its 50 per cent single traveller supplement on four seven-night “Tulip Time” sailings of the Dutch and Belgian waterways with stops including Antwerp and Ghent. Prices now start at £1,095 based on two people sharing, or £1,376 for single travellers, departing on March 28. Other departures are April 1, 8 and 25.

Avalon Waterways (0800 668 1865; www.avaloncruises.co.uk) has reductions of up to £900 per couple on some river cruises. Save £450 per person on a Danube cruise to the Black Sea, which departs from Vienna for Oltenita (for Bucharest) and includes stops in Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria. Prices start at £1,705, departing on March 30 or April 9.

Savings of up to £3,200 per couple are offered by Titan HiTours Elegant River Cruises (0800 988 5858; www.titanhitours.co.uk) on the 15-day “Imperial Capitals of Europe”, which visits seven countries. The trip starts with three days in Istanbul before passengers fly to Bucharest to join the River Princess at Giurgiu for the Danube sailing. Stops include Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava and Belgrade. The cruise, leaving on April 16, costs from £2,499 if booked by January 31.

Discounts of up to £500 are offered on various sailings by Viking River Cruises (020 8780 7900; www.vikingriver cruises.co.uk). An eight-day Rhine Discovery sailing from Amsterdam to Basel is down from £1,395 to £895 and includes wine with dinner, six escorted tours and a programme of talks and demonstrations. There are weekly sailings between May and October, but bookings must be made by January 31.

What to avoid

Some ex-UK cruises finish at an overseas port, so think ahead to arrange transfers accordingly (or ask your cruise line or travel agent to). Don’t fall into the trap of leaving your car at a UK port and returning to an airport miles away.

Beware the Bay of Biscay – especially in the winter, when conditions here and in the English Channel and North Sea can be enough to turn the strongest stomach.

Don’t confine your cruise departures to Southampton. While this is the UK’s premier cruise port, there are regular sailings from around Britain, including Dover, Tilbury, Hull, Liverpool, Newcastle, Greenock and even central London at Tower Bridge.

If you’re cruising between the UK and the Mediterranean, remember that the first and last two days of the voyage will be spent at sea – and the weather won’t necessarily be good. So make sure you pick a ship with enough facilities to keep you entertained, especially if travelling with children.

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