Archive for the ‘Sutton Coldfield – General’ Category

Recommended Sutton Coldfield – Topical

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Recommended Sutton Coldfield –  Topical Feature

Ten things you didn’t know about Philip Green

He’s known for stooging around the Mediterranean in his 200 ft yacht and selling disposable fashion to the women of Britain. The coalition feels, bizarrely, that these are excellent qualifications for reducing public spending and have put him in charge of doing just that. It’s about time we knew a bit more about him. 

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Who wants to be billionaire?
We can safely say that Phil is worth a bob or two. A completely self made man, he is listed number 6 in the 2010 Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated fortune of £4.1 billion.

Qualifications – who needs them?
Green was educated at the prestigious Carmel College boarding school in Oxfordshire but still managed to leave school at the age of 15 with precious few qualifications. He started his first business 3 years later but his big break came at the age of 27 when he bought a load of bankrupt stock and opened a London shop to sell it from.

These are not just shares – these are Marks and Spencer shares
Sir Philip (he was knighted in 2006) has made two takeover bids for M&S, once in 1999 and again in 2004. Both were rebuffed. M&S shares are currently trading at about half the price he offered for them in 2004; what were the shareholders thinking of?

Big boy’s toys
He’s the proud owner of a £32 million Benetti yacht and a £20 million Gulfstream G550 jet. He’s also a huge Spurs fan but has somehow managed to resist the temptation to buy the club. Perhaps that is why he’s still a billionaire.

Income tax – what’s that then?
Most of Phil’s income comes in the form of dividends which are paid to his wife who happens to live in Monaco and so is not subject to UK income tax. This seems like a very good plan – so long

as she doesn’t decide to run off with her tennis coach!

Gathering no Moss
One of Sir Phil’s greatest coups has been to acquire Kate Moss as the face of Topshop. But all is not rosy in the garden; Kate is stepping down to concentrate on her own fashion brand and her place will be taken by 19 year old Chloe Green – who also happens to be his daughter!

A good dressing down
Green could take some lessons from his good friend, Simon Cowell, when it comes to delivering a devastating putdown. In 2003 when one of his takeover bids was being investigated by a reporter from the Guardian he responded, “He can’t read English. Mind you, he is a #*^**#* Irishman.”

How much is too much?
In 2005 he declared a hefty dividend for Arcadia, a company in which he conveniently held a 92% stake, meaning that he paid his family a handsome £1.2 billion for the year. When it was suggested this might be a bit excessive he

countered, “We are in the risk business. We can’t get a refund if we haven’t got it right.”

Never trust the markets
In 1992 Sir Phillip was booted out of a publicly listed company, Amber Day, by the principle shareholders. He has not been involved with the stock market since, teaming up with other likeminded entrepreneurs when he needs to raise some serious cash.

Can he do it?
Green has breathed new life into several corporate basket cases including BHS and Topshop, largely by strictly controlling operating and property costs. If anyone can do it, he can.

Recommended Sutton Coldfield – topical observer

 

Recommended Sutton Coldfield – Fashion

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Recommended Sutton Coldfield -Fashion

The Great British Winter.

Although we complain about our long and dark British Winter, you have to admit that we are surprisingly well prepared. From the rugged highlands of Scotland to the damp pavements of London, we’ve got it covered; usually in waxed cotton. Here are a few of our great British staples that see us through the winter year after year, have become part of our heritage and will remain chic forever – plus a few trade secrets on how

to bring them up to date this season.

The Mac

Everyone from the Queen of England to the new office temp will have one of these. It has been restyled more times than Burberry has been seen on CCTV cameras, but its essence remains the same. Forget belting up and having a sweet sherry, tie at the back so it hangs open and push up your sleeves to reveal long, kid skin gloves; cold? Yes! Stylish? definitely!

Tweed

Not just for geography teachers and busty Pony Club mums, tweed makes a beautiful suit, skirt or coat. It is perfectly flattering when tailored correctly and uncompromisingly warm. Go for granddad styles this winter; think high-waisted, wide trousers, leather elbow patches and trilbies. Wear with brogues for androgynous chic.

The Wax Jacket

What used to be the staple uniform of farmers everywhere is now the hottest outer wear in London. Empty out the twine, chaff and hoof pick from your pockets and wear with skinny jeans and lux cashmere to rock the look from Yummy Mummy to Hip Hop-Geek Chic. Make sure you cover up the ‘unique’ scent of damp waxed cotton with some Marc Jacobs ‘Lola.’

Don’t play by the rules this winter. Try a trench cape instead, or even a tweed corset (seen

at Louis Vuitton.) Anything goes, except wax cotton underwear, obviously.

Recommended Sutton Coldfield – Fashion expert

 

Recommended Sutton Coldfield – film review

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Recommended Sutton Coldfield – Film Review

Inception (12A)

Christopher Nolan follows The Dark Knight with a mind-bending sci-fi heist about a team of thieves who enter people’s dreams to steal corporate secrets. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the leader of this team and must perform one last job to get back to his children.

To attempt to outline or synopsise the plot with all its complexity, all its perfection and imperfection, seems futile. As our main character explains, ‘We simultaneously create and perceive our dreams,’ so Inception appears to expand

upon and transcend the many genres it falls across. Is it a heist movie, a Sci-fi or an action flick? It’s all of those and more. This labyrinthine quality has caused many reviewers to describe Inception as too smart for its audience, which says far more about them than it does the film. In truth, Inception is a movie you have to chase but one you can keep with once you

get into your stride, resulting in a payoff that has few rivals as far as endings go.

There isn’t a single duff performance on show here; it’s the slickest ensemble cast since Oceans 11 and far cooler. However, the real star here is DiCaprio. He has struggled to shed his childlike image for a long time but I think it’s safe to say that is now a distant memory. He is the emotional heart of the film, providing the invaluable humanity to lift it beyond accusations of being cold and mechanical, criticisms levelled by some at previous Nolan works. In this sense Inception seems the most complete of his back catalogue, and feels happier compared to the mournful tragedy of The Dark Knight.

Inception is dazzling, a real triumph for originality and ambition in a world of sequels and reboots. For goodness sake see it, and then see it again.

My rating ***** (Out of 5)
Recommended Sutton Coldfield – Square eyed film critic

 

Recommended Sutton Coldfield – Property

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Recommended Sutton Coldfield - Property

Are Sutton Coldfield property prices about to take a double dip?

There has been some disturbing data coming out of the building societies in the past month or so. House prices fell in the month of July for the first time since the beginning of the year, mortgage approvals are down and new instructions are up. Some forecasters are predicting that the average house price could drop by £6,000 by the end of the year. What is happening

to the housing market?

Several things actually; the abolition of Home Information Packs has encouraged lots of people to put their houses on the market, increasing supply and, inevitably, driving down prices. Mortgage supply is still severely restricted with many lenders demanding 25% deposits, which is keeping first time buyers off the property ladder. The coming public sector cuts are denting consumer confidence with many people wondering if they will still have a job in a few months time – no wonder the housing market is experiencing a bumpy ride. So what happens next?

It is worth having a closer look at the statistics. Over the past 12 months house prices in London have risen 12.5% whereas those in the North East have fallen 1.4%. It is no coincidence that a high proportion of homeowners in the North East are on the public sector payroll. Overall house prices have risen 15% from the low point in March 2009. I think the market will be broadly flat until next spring, it may go up a few percent, it may fall a couple of percent. It all depends on what happens

to economic growth; don’t forget we’ve just enjoyed the highest quarterly growth in a decade. From next year I expect it to be back to business as usual.

If you are thinking of buying a house in the next few months, be very choosy about the area you buy it in. There is still no such thing as a bargain in the UK housing market.

Recommended Sutton Coldfield Property expert.

 

Recommended Sutton Coldfield – Gardening

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Recommended Sutton Coldfield – Gardening

Designs on the Future

Like most people (I hope!) I’ve some very happy memories of my school days – mostly relating to kicking balls about and pulling girl’s pony tails – but very few of expanding my gardening knowledge. Anything remotely connected to gardening was part of the adult world and as far as we were concerned it was definitely off limits and might as well have carried an X rating. As boys, our only ‘vocational’ activity (apart from the usual suspects of woodwork and metal work) was our introduction to the construction of rock cakes in the crazy world of domestic science – presumably to try and prevent us from starving to death in our bedsits in later life!

Clearly things have moved on apace since those rather primitive post-war (?) years and children are now being positively encouraged to get their hands dirty and learn more about the environment and growing healthy food for themselves. Most schools can now boast their own organic vegetable patch and some of the more enlightened ones have even gone to the lengths of having purpose built outdoor classrooms complete with amphitheatre seating. After school gardening clubs are now popular activities and no longer carry the same old stigma that they once did. In fact, it’s

now positively COOL to enjoy gardening. This is all a far cry from my straight down the curriculum (I think ‘bog standard is now the description of choice) comprehensive in Rotherham. The closest I ever got to what would eventually become both my passion and my vocation was rooting some willow cuttings in a milk bottle!

Given my educational upbringing, you can imagine my surprise and delight when I was invited to judge a garden design competition at a local secondary school a few months ago – evidently my fame is spreading.

I was expecting to walk into the art department and find a sheath of neat scale drawings, perhaps coloured in pencil, with little arrows and labels saying things like ‘decking’ and ‘Portuguese laurel.’ I was astonished to see, instead, dozens of Lilliputian gardens created in shoeboxes using an incredible range of materials – every one of them deserved to win a prize. The obvious enthusiasm and creativity reflected in the fantastic designs which the Year 7 children had managed to shoehorn into such small boxes was truly amazing. There were Beatles themed plots, spas, fluffy pink extravaganzas, hens, ponds, paths made out of rice and decking made out if matchsticks.

It took a long time, but I eventually winnowed down the entries to the two that I felt deserved immortality, at least for the next year. One featured a rock garden and a waterfall fashioned out of clingfilm. The other had managed to cram in a lawn, a crazy paved path, a vegetable patch and flowerbed, the garden shed and even a bench fabricated out of a lollypop stick. Well done to the two pupils and a big thank you to the Art teacher for inviting me over.

The

real dream would be to see one of the winners transformed into a real life garden at one of the national shows, Chelsea ideally. That would require a chunk of cash and would inevitably require a generous sponsor. As luck would have it, I have just launched the latest incarnation of Jonathon Wild enterprises. In a couple of years’ time when I am a captain of industry there will be no prizes for guessing where my corporate sponsorship budget is going.

Recommended Sutton Coldfield Gardening expert &
Deprived child and Philanthropist!

 

Recommended Sutton Coldfield – Fitness

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Recommended Sutton Coldfield Fitness

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Spinning

If you are looking for something that is a bit hardcore

by way of an exercise class, then have a go at spinning. It is basically indoor cycling carried out in a group. The classes focus on endurance, interval training, strength and recovery.  It is not for the faint hearted but it is suitable for everyone; my class varied dramatically in age and ability. You can push yourself as hard as you like by setting your own intensity levels, because you are in control of the resistance on the bike.

To a soundtrack of loud dance music and with constant encouragement from my trainer, I completed a tough regime of handlebar push ups, punishing inclines and cycling sprints. This puts the body through both anaerobic and aerobic workouts. It tones thighs, bottoms and strengthens back muscles. On

a weight loss note, you can burn between 400 and 600 calories in just 40 minutes.

If you can ride a bike, you are halfway there. Even better, this bike has stabilisers! You don’t need any specialist gear, just wear comfortable clothes, trainers and take water and a towel; you will certainly need them!

If there was ever an exercise that had more of a visual impact on your body after it has finished, rather than during, then this is it. I staggered out of the gym – wobbly legs are an unfortunate side effect – sweating and disorientated It is a wonder that passers by let me get behind the wheel of my car looking so inebriated.

Recommended Sutton Coldfield fitness expert

 

Recommended Sutton Coldfield – Wines and Spirits

Friday, September 10th, 2010

p>Welcome to the Second article in the Recommended Sutton Coldfield Wine & Spirits section, provided by our resident Sutton Coldfield wine expert.

Wine – Trebbiano

Although, worldwide, Airen is the most planted white grape vine, it does not produce as much wine as Trebbiano. Trebbiano vines can be grown closer together and, thus, the yields are greater. Trebbiano grapes produce a wine which is not one of the world’s best, but can be used as components in other wines. Chianti once had to use some Trebbiano grapes. This was supposedly to make use of the prolific quantities of Trebbiano grapes which could not otherwise be sold. Soave wine from Italy and the Umbrian Orvieto wines are Trebbiano blends. Italy also has some Trebbiano only wines.

In France the variety is known as Ugni

Blanc. Some of the wine from these grapes is used in blending and in some cases the quality is so poor that they are used to make industrial alcohol.

Trebbiano is important in the production of Cognac and Armagnac. In Australia Trebbiano grapes are also used to make brandy as well as for blending in other wines. In Italy it is the Trebbiano grape which is used to make balsamic vinegar. We have all drank Trebbiano in one of its forms in blends from France, Italy, Australia or The USA but probably without knowing we are doing so. The name Trebbiano is very seldom on the label.

If you want to drink a high quality pure Trebbiano wine, your best bet is to buy one of the six Italian Trebbianos of which, I think, the best is Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. This white wine can be surprisingly good with cheese. It is not a wine for keeping but should be drunk young and fresh.

 Recommended Sutton Coldfield Wine expert

 

Recommended Sutton Coldfield – Recipies

Friday, September 10th, 2010

p>Welcome  to the second Recommended Sutton Coldfield recipe,  provided by our mystery Recommended Sutton Coldfield Restuarantuer.

Recommended Sutton Coldfield Recipe

Recipe

Grilled mackerel

with red pepper pesto

At least once a week, its a good idea to eat some oily fish, full of protein, minerals and vitamins. Rich in the great Omega-3 which will make you even more intelligent so enjoy this simple light dish and then you can get yourself on to a rocket

scientist’s training course.

Serves 2
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 15 minutes
 
Ingredients
4 mackerel fillets
Bunch of watercress
Lemon
For the pesto
2 red peppers
100ml extra virgin olive oil
80g toasted pine nuts
1tsp balsamic vinegar
6 basil leaves
1 clove garlic
3 tblspn grated parmesan
Pinch of salt and pepper

Method
1. Cut the peppers in half, deseed then grill skin side up until the skin looks a little burnt.
2. Peel off the skin, then add to a food processor along with the rest of the pesto ingredients. Pulse the mix so that it is coarsely chopped.
3. Spread the mackerel with the pesto (reserve any leftover pesto for stirring into pasta/ brushcetta etc), roast in a medium heat oven for 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
4. Squeeze a little lemon on and serve with watercress and boiled potatoes.

Recommended Sutton Coldfield Mystery Restaurateur

 

Recommended Sutton Coldfield – Computer advice

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Welcome to the first article in the Recommended Sutton Coldfield  Computer advice section.

,

The perfection of a PDF file
PDF stands for Portable Document Format and the PDF file is perhaps one of the most wondrous inventions of the IT age. Anyone who owns a PC or regularly accesses the internet will have encountered PDF files. Many websites will ask you to download lengthy documents such as their terms and conditions as a PDF file. If you buy goods off the internet then your receipt will probably come in the form of a PDF file attached to an email. If you get a user manual on a disc, the disc will probably contain a PDF file.

PDF files were originally created for use in the print industry. Graphic designers use a

wide range of software to create print graphics, anything from Adobe Creative Suite to Quark to Microsoft Publisher, and the printers needed a standardised file format that could be recognised by all the different types of printer and plate maker. Over the years the format has come to be used by a host of different applications, the few I’ve detailed above are just the tip of the iceberg. But, if you are just a casual or business computer user, what use are PDF files to you?

Well, for starters any PC (or Mac) can view a PDF file. All modern PCs come ready loaded with Adobe reader and if, for some reason, your computer doesn’t have it, you can just go to adobe.com and download it for free. Say someone sends you a Microsoft Excel file but you don’t have Excel on your computer, you will not be able to view it. However, if they convert it to a PDF file then you can. This means that you don’t have to install lots of expensive software onto your computer just to be able to read a document created by someone else. Another advantage of PDF files is that they cannot be modified and saved unless you possess design software such as Adobe Creative Suite. There are lots of documents that you wouldn’t want to inadvertently alter such as your annual accounts or the instruction manual for a complex piece of hardware. You can, however, copy and paste text out of a PDF file by highlighting it and using Ctrl C, then Ctrl V.

PDF files are also usually more compact than a ‘raw’ file created in Photoshop for instance, so they take up less space on your disc drive and are easier to email. You may be wondering how you convert files into PDF format if you don’t possess expensive graphic design software. There are a plenty of types of free PDF software available on the internet, just Google “free PDF writer,” but my favourite is Cute PDF Writer, available from www.cutepdf.com. It is easy to download, seems to be bug free and doesn’t constantly badger you to upgrade to the “professional” version which, naturally, you have to pay for.

Once the software is on your computer, using it couldn’t be easier. From whatever type of document you happen to be in just go to print (Ctrl P from most Windows based programmes) and select Cute PDF Writer from the list of printers. Click Okay and type the name you want to give to your PDF into the box, then navigate to the folder you want to save it in. The finished product won’t be good enough to use as a page in a glossy magazine but for text

based documents it is fine.

You can print your PDF document on your usual printer, attach it to an email or insert it into another type of document, a Word file for instance. Using a PDF is just one of those little tricks of the trade that can make you look like an IT whiz – even when you’re not!

Stig
Your Sutton Coldfield computer expert

 

Testimonial for Rhubarb & Custard / Printing.com, Sutton Coldfield

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

p>“Alex is fun, friendly and brimming with good ideas. She has approved on line drug stores lots of design and print experience and gives

good commercial advice. I love working with her.”
Karen Nicholls, Roar Marketing Limited

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Click HERE to see the more details regarding Rhubarb & Custard / Printing.com Sutton Coldfield