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Can you believe GlueCon is just seven weeks away? We sure can’t. Wow. We’re pulling out all the stops to give you the most comprehensive experience possible, and to help deliver on this, we’re bringing our development team on the road.
That’s right. Our Dev team will be coding live at GlueCon, inside a glass room we’re calling GlueX. What will they build? Well, that’s up to you. We’re taking requests from all GlueCon attendees. What new feature do you want to see us build?
To provide a bit of context, let’s preview how this is going to work. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we’re going to take requests from GlueCon registrants, where you tell us what you want to see our Dev team build live at GlueCon. Then, the team will work to ship the winning feature while on site, and at the end of the conference they’ll do a live demo of it.
So if there’s something you’ve always wanted to see us build, submit your request now. If you’re stumped on ideas for GlueX, you can always visit our feature request portal for inspiration. But either way, you’ll get to see our developers in action, and maybe even have the chance to chat with some of them about the projects we’re working on at one of the social events.
If you’re still on the fence about GlueCon, you need to act fast before it’s too late. Tickets are almost 80% sold out, and time is ticking fast. We’ve still got a major announcement or two up our sleeves, too, so lock in your ticket now and you won’t be disappointed.
Now in its eighth year, the annual Surrey University Poetry festival is curated by this year’s Poet in Residence James Davies. A day long wonder blast of innovative poetry from the following takes place in Guildford, a stone’s throw away from London. Featuring rare readings by American legends Tina Darragh and P. Inman.
11 (until 1.30): Peter Jaeger durational performance
All below in Comedy Room
11.10: Introduction to festival
11.20-12.00: Surrey students & Scott Thurston
12.10-12.50: Rob Holloway & Rebecca Cremin
1.40-2.20: Sharon Kivland/Clémentine Bedos & Tina Darragh
2.30-3.10: Lila Matsumoto & P. Inman
3.30-4.10: Amy Cutler & Philip Terry
4.20-5.00: Emma Cocker & Emma Bennett
from 7 in Glass Room
Tom Jenks performs in the evening soiree – exact time TBA
Clémentine Bedos is a multidisciplinary artist whose recent shows include a solo exhibition at the Constance Howard Gallery, London ‘Contagious Hystories’. Currently exploring themes of identity, binaries and the Other. https://www.clementinebedos.com/
Emma Cocker is a writer-artist whose work explores the slippage between writing on page, to performance in time, between still and moving image, between individual and collective action. http://not-yet-there.blogspot.co.uk/ Rebecca Cremin draws on traditions of live art, Fluxus, performance writing and site-specific work using language as an object to expose, to investigate, to locate. http://www.veerbooks.com/Rebecca-Cremin-LAY-D Amy Cutler is a multi-disciplinary practitioner with a special interest in geohumanities – the engagement between geography and arts/humanities. https://amycutler.net/
P. Inman is associated with language and minimalist poetry. His work has been described as ‘thick with meanings that never quite complete themselves; full of social ironies and a sly and biting humor’ http://writing.upenn.edu/epc/authors/inman/
Peter Jaeger will perform a durational version of his latest book Midamble, on the lawn at G Live. The book concerns his recently completed walk on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jG1EUZusDTY
Sharon Kivland is an artist who has recently been called a poet, five times, to her surprise. Her work considers what is put at stake by art, poliics, and psychoanalysis. http://www.sharonkivland.com/
Students from The University of Surrey have been exploring a range of poetic strategies during the workshop series Making Things Happen including the use of diaries, minimalism, Oulipo and collaboration.
It was because of Harry Potter that I dreamt of moving to the UK. I was about 15 when I started flirting with the idea of studying abroad. The potential discovery of a secret world of wizardry definitely encouraged my moving to England. It wasn’t until February 2008 when I got my letter of acceptance from the University of Manchester. Later that year, I immigrated to the UK.
Moving to the UK was not easy, in fact, it was one of the most difficult milestones in my life. It took not only courage but a lot of hoops to understand a new system, integrate into a new society and deal with the cultural shock. This article is a comprehensive guide on moving to the UK coming from the experience of an expat. I lived in the UK for 10 years and I loved most of my time there. I finished a degree, moved cities, made friends, got married and created two successful startups. I am now what you would call a naturalised British Citizen, who recently decided to move away from the UK and start a new chapter in Portugal.
Moving to the UK
As with every major decision in your life, moving to the UK should be seriously considered. Although it’s a nice country which can offer a lot of opportunities, there are a lot of factors which should be taken into account. First, you should understand why you wish to live in the UK. What is it about the country which you love so much? Make a list and write your reasoning next to everything you like. Are going to work, study or invest? Are you up to date with the UK visa application process? Are you ok with the current political and economic situation in the UK?Do you need a UK immigration lawyer? Do you have enough money to live in the UK or will you find a job which will cover all your living costs? Are you prepared to deal with the weather? Before you embark on your adventure, have a look at our comprehensive guide on everything you need to know before moving abroad. We did this twice, so we are aware of all the hardship that comes with such big lifestyle change.
I am a European citizen by birth, which gave me a huge advantage back in 2008 when I immigrated to the UK. It was the year Romania just joined the EU, hence I had the chance to move to the UK visa-free. I had a lot of other problems, though, as I needed to get a Yellow Card before I could get any job. With this card, I was eligible for only 20 hours of work a week and since this was my only income, it made it pretty difficult to maintain myself. Nevertheless, I didn’t give up, and here I am, alive and well.
As you already know, Britain voted to leave the EU, which means there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to UK visa applications. We don’t quite know what is going to happen to all EU citizens who currently live and work in the UK. We also don’t know what type of Visas EU citizens will require moving forward. It is because of this that I cannot offer advice on visa applications at this time. I will be sure to update this article as we go along, and provide, fresh, up-to-date information once I know more. For a more detailed information about the current visa situation, please visit the UK Government website.
Work in the UK
There are several occupations which are in short supply in the UK. You can find an up-to-date official list on the Government Website.
In general, it’s good to know that the UK is currently on the lookout for scientists, medical practitioners, science teachers, chefs and engineers. You can usually find a vacancy in the hospitality or retail sector, but there are fewer chances of you getting sponsorship from your employer for a job like this.
There are a few things you need to be aware when you decide to work in the UK. Most British companies have specific hierarchies in place whereby managers are in charge of their employees and take their jobs seriously. Being a good manager means being able to lead a team, whilst proactively communicating with your employees in order to increase efficiency. Teamwork is highly valued in the UK and it is common for coworkers to form bonds at work and go out for drinks after work. In fact, I met most of my friends this way. People are easy going and usually very inclusive. As with most new roles, it takes a while for the rest of your coworkers to get to know you, but in a few weeks, you will already find yourself having new friends. When you start a new role, you usually get invited to join other colleagues for lunch breaks, so you can socialise and get to know one another.
It is good to know that the British do love their meetings. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had a job without a daily catch up. It might be difficult to get used to it, but simply grab a cup of tea and have the schedule ready. Meetings tend to also be planned way in advance, as well as one-to-ones whereby you have a meeting with your managers to discuss your performance and areas of improvement. Once a year, you usually have a meeting to discuss a potential promotion or salary increase. Not all companies do this, however.
You do have a lot of rights as an employee in the UK and the good news is that most of them are taken seriously. Every company has its own internal way of dealing with complaints, but should all fail, you do have enough free advice available to guide you on your quest to justice. You should remember the Citizens Advice Bureau which offers free, unbiased guidance.
When you start working somewhere, make sure you read through and fully understand your contract. The moment you start your work, keep track of all your responsibilities and accomplishments. Should someone bother or bully you, make sure you have a sheet to hand whereby you note everything down, including the date and hour. Keep track of all these, so when you escalate your issue to the HR department you have proof and detailed information.
The British are polite and formal, but you will notice sarcasm, irony and a uniquely British sense of humour which can express criticism in a more indirect manner. This is difficult to understand by foreigners, but eventually, you will get the gist of it. As a foreigner, I didn’t like nor understood British humour, to begin with. Then, one day, I reached enlightenment. The whole world changed for me. I finally understood what being British means, what it’s like to feel cringe (of the very British cringe!), or how you can politely tell someone they are an incompetent asshole. Suddenly, jokes made sense and I started to feel like “one of them”. In fact, I could finally buy tickets to see those British comedians and understand that British jokes are not noir, but witty as hell. Take your time to understand this, eventually, it will make sense.
There are obvious class distinctions in Britain and you will very quickly notice them. Men still dominate the higher management positions in the UK and there are some salary discrepancies between women and men. In general, the workplaces tend to be safe and trouble free. You can make friends and get a better understanding of the British culture.
Here are some important things you need to be aware of when you work in the UK.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the UK
You can get £88.45 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks. You need to earn at least £112(before tax) per week and have been off work sick for 4 or more days in a row (including non-working days). You can’t get less than the statutory amount. You can get more if your company has a sick pay scheme. Check the UK Government website for more details as well information about Taking sick leave.
Depending on your job, you might be able to enjoy bank holidays. Click here for an up to date UK bank holiday schedule. If you have an office job, you will probably get these days off. If you work in hospitality or retail, you might be getting your hourly rate, times and a half during bank holidays. Refer to your contract for more information.
Holiday entitlement rights in the UK
Most workers who work a 5 day week receive 28 days paid annual leave per year. Part-time workers are also entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of paid holiday although this amount is calculated pro rata.
Bank or public holidays do not have to be given as paid leave. An employer can choose to include bank holidays as part of a worker’s statutory annual leave.
Maternity pay and leave in the UK
Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks. It’s made up of:
Ordinary Maternity Leave – first 26 weeks
Additional Maternity Leave – last 26 weeks
You don’t have to take 52 weeks but you must take 2 weeks’ leave after your baby is born (or 4 weeks if you work in a factory).
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid for up to 39 weeks. You get:
90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks
£139.58 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks
SMP is paid in the same way as your wages (eg monthly or weekly). Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.
Paternity pay and leave in the UK
In the UK, you can also get paternal leave. You can get 1 or 2 weeks. The statutory weekly rate of Paternity Pay is £139.58, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).
Any money you get is paid in the same way as your wages, eg monthly or weekly. Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.
Income in the UK
We discussed how it’s like to work in the UK, but what type of income should you expect? What do you need to earn in the UK to have a decent living? And what are the current national averages? All these are valid questions, and you should absolutely do your research before moving to the UK. In fact, a lot of people crumble once they realise their salary can barely cover the rent and the bills. The UK is an expensive country.
Here are some images to help you determine the average UK salary.
The minimum wage (from 1st of April 2017):
£3.50 for an Apprentice
£4.05 for under 18
£5.60 for 18-20
£7.05 for 21-24
£7.50 for 25 and over
If you work 40 hours a week with the minimum wage, providing you are 25 or over, you get a total of £14,976 per year. To calculate your wage correctly, you have to multiply the number of hours you work per week with the hourly wage. The resulting number should be multiplied by 52 (weeks) to get the real yearly salary. Please note that most employers will also offer bonuses and the possibility to work overtime. Check with the HR department if in doubt.
Is £15k enough to live off of in Britain? Yes and no. If you live rent free, then you most certainly can survive without an issue. If you need to pay rent, then your only hope is to share accommodation with other professionals or with your partner.
If you are a couple, both working on minimum wage, your joint income will be £30 before tax, which is a relatively acceptable. You will be able to rent a one bedroom apartment, pay bills, and share the costs of food. You probably won’t afford holidays, dinners out or fun purchases. Of course, it all depends on individual lifestyles, so it’s difficult for me to predict.
I would say that in order to manage a decent living, you should expect to make £2000 before tax per person. That is £4000 before tax per couple. This, however, might not be enough in London.
To give you an idea on costs here is a breakdown.
The most expensive places to rent in the country are unsurprisingly all in London – where a two-bed Kensington & Chelsea flat will cost you a staggering £2,970 per month, whilst the cheapest rent in the UK is in Pendle, Lancashire, where on average renters of two-bed properties pay just £368 per month.
As an average, I used to pay £925 per month for our 3 bedroom house in Bristol. Our home was in the suburbs, however, a good 40 minutes away by bus from the city centre. We previously lived in the city centre, whereby for a 2 bedroom flat we paid £850 (a good 3 years ago).
You need to always remember to add council tax on top of this cost. Depending on your council and the number of rooms your home has, you will be given a fixed fee you need to pay on a monthly basis. This varies, but it is usually over £100 per house, per month. You also need to take into account the bills. Expect to pay for electricity, gas, internet and tv licence. This totals over £200 a month usually. You may also need to pay a monthly fixed cleaning and maintenance fee if you live in a flat (for the common areas to be taken care of). If you own a car, expect to pay road tax, yearly MOT, and monthly insurance for your car. These prices can be crazy expensive. Of course, take into account the prices of petrol and potentially the extra for parking spaces. Parking is incredibly expensive, especially when you try to access the city centre by car (any city centre).
Taxes in the UK
The UK tax year runs from 6 April of one calendar year to 5 April of the subsequent year. Remember that the UK treats spouses as separate entities and taxes them as individuals, with the exception of a small allowance for the purpose of income taxes.
Before you can pay taxes in the UK, you will need a National Insurance Number. Unless you are from the EU, you might also need to apply for a visa. Please make sure you check this thoroughly.
In the UK absolutely everyone pays taxes irrespective of the residency status. You must declare all your sources of income, and remember there are some allowances in place to avoid double taxations from certain countries. Non UK residents are only taxed on income earned in the UK.
To determine how much tax you need to pay, you can use this calculator. You can also read about your allowance tax credits. In the UK, an individual is liable for various taxes with the exception of VAT. The basic formula for taxes is to sum your personal income and benefits, subtract your personal allowance, and then pay the appropriate rate on the difference. For the 2016/17 tax year, all individuals are allowed a personal allowance of GBP 11,000. UK income tax rates are calculated based on your income. The more you earn, the more you have to pay.
If you are a self employed individual you must register with the HMRC and filed your income taxes on a yearly basis. Most corporations are taxed at 20% rate of their net profits.
An individual is responsible for paying taxes as well as National Insurance contributions. Taxes are 20%.
You have a National Insurance number to make sure your National Insurance contributions and tax are recorded against your name only.
It’s made up of letters and numbers and never changes.
You can find your National Insurance number:
on your payslip
on your P60
on letters about your tax, pension or benefits
in the National Insurance section of your personal tax account
The rates for most people for the 2016 to 2017 tax year are:
£155 to £827 a week (£672 to £3,583 a month) – 12%
Over £827 a week (£3,583 a month) – 2%
The materials reviewed in this article are for informational purposes only and should not be taken as tax advice for your individual situation. You should always consult your own tax expert with your specific tax issues or questions.
Is the UK expensive?
Hell, yes! Whilst certain things are ridiculously expensive, other things are incredibly well priced. For example, I honestly find it unjustifible to pay a lot of tax on my income, whilst also paying my local council separately, another £100+ a month. I feel it is the governments duty to provide me with these basic services, such as the local police, firemen and bin collectors.
Rent is incredibly expensive with outskirts flats costing over £1500 a month in London. That’s pretty crazy! Prices for buying a houses are also ridiculous. A 3 bedroom decent house located in the Bristol suburbs costs roughly £250k+ minimum. That’s crazy talk, especially because most British houses have bad insolation and are badly built.
Whilst most of your wage will go on rent and bills, the good news is that food prices seem to be pretty decent. If you plan your food properly and stick to healthy and nutricious items, you can spend about £60 every three days for two people. This is £600 in 30 days, £300 per person. That’s £10 per person per day (for three good, healthy meals). This is great!
You can find cleaning products, household and personal hygene items at very reasonable prices, more so than what I found around the rest of Europe. Clothes are relatively well priced too, better than the rest of Europe in many cases. However, please note that sizes are arbitrary, the fashion is hugely different than from the rest of Europe and clothes are not well fitted. In fact, I believe the British fashion to be one of the least appealing in Europe.
Taxes are very high in UK, with a very little personal allowances. Corporation tax is high, VAT is also relatively high and income tax is…yep, you guest it, high!
Education is incredibly expensive in the UK, students expected to pay over £10k+ per academic year.
Transportations is one of the main expensive items, buses, trains and taxis being unbearably costly. On so many levels, it turns out to be cheaper to own a car and share a journey between two people, than buy a one-way train ticket. Unfortunately, since everything is privatised, there is no way to cut down on these costs.
For national averages check numbeo for more detailed costs on items such as milk, meats and vegetables.
Study in the UK
As alluring as this may seem, know that the UK is no Hogwarts. This was a sad realisation for me, as a student, but it’s a fact better faced as early as possible. International students have always been an important presence in the UK and their numbers continue to increase. The UK universities are known to be incredibly prestigious, with Oxford and Cambridge being the more well known. Every year, you can check the best ranking Universities in the UK.
Apart from prestige, the British universities are also cheaper than many other international institutions. In comparison to the US for example, a UK academic year can be less than half the price. The catch? Non-EU students are being charged much more than EU students, and with exchange rates climbing, life in the UK can be quite expensive.
There are several loans and scholarships available for those who wish to study in the UK. Just note that most students cannot work more than 20 hours a week, which means a rather healthy trust fund is needed to begin this journey. When I embarked on my educational quest in the UK, I hugely underestimated the amount of money I needed to maintain myself. Without any help from any third parties but my own low paying job, I soon realised how tedious university can be. Besides, juggling work and a full time course could be daunting.
Always check the visa requirements to be able to study in the UK. Remember to allocate extra finances to cover your costs. Note that since the Brexit, there is no real understanding on what is going to happen to the EU students, if there will be more allowances for them, or they will have to pay the same fees as international students.
Homes for Rent in the UK
When it comes to homes for rent in the UK, there are an incredible amount of things you need to prepare yourself for. All rental properties in the UK come with huge amounts of specifications and you need to know what you are looking for right from the start. You should take several factors into account, such as location, price, type of accommodation, council tax, requirements from landlords, tenancy contracts, safety deposit scheme. Don’t fret, we’ll discuss them one by one.
Location – As with rental properties, you need know what homes for rent you are looking for. Where is the ideal location? Is it close to work? Close to university? Is it in a rural place, right in the city centre? Needless to say that location plays an important role in setting the price. The better the location, the higher the price. Remember to always check the neighbourhood. Ideally, when you view the house, you will pay serious attention to the type of houses around, what neighbours you might get etc.
There are a few things we learned about locations as we went along and moved houses. One of the main things was to move to an area which had resistents with similar interests as ours. In fact, thanks to Zoopla, we could check the interests, the type of professionals, the type of houses available in the area and even the newspapers people read.
This is going to be different from individual to individual and we resperct that. However, for the sake of this article, I’m going to show you what is important for us and what does this really mean.
For an area to be deemed good by our standards, the socially rented houses should be way below the UK average. People should be in employment, their interests should be relatively varied, with travel more so than the average, and finally their choice of newspapers would ideally be either the Guardian or the Independent.
In contrast, I would suggest staying as far away as possible from a place which has more socially rented houses than the UK average, the unemployement rate is clearly crazy and the interests weight towards TV and Footbal and the nespapers read are Daily Mirror and the Sun. That is one bad area which usually has higher levels of crimes and lower educated residents.
Type of rental properties
There are three types of rental properties in the UK:
Furnished – with all furniture and fixtures, sometimes with pots and pans too.
Part-furnished – with some furniture and fixtures
Unfurnished – no furniture, but some white goods (e.g. fridge, washing machine, dishwasher etc)
Flats in the centre tends to be fully furnished, whilst houses located in the suburbs tend to be unfurnished. Upon rental, you will be given a list with all furniture, fixtures, white goods. You will be responsible for keeping everything in the same condition as when rented. It is your responsibility to monitor items.
Once you move into your new property, you are responsible for sorting out your own direct debits for bills, internet and council tax. You are also responsible for telling the Government that you moved, and make sure you get an up to date address on your driver’s licence (depending on your nationality). Don’t forget to register to vote!
Make sure you also change the address with your bank so you receive all bank statements.
Student or Professional rental properties
You may come across two type of properties online: Student or professional. You need to remember that student accommodations tend to be shared and grimey. They are usually badly kept and used for the sole purpose of allowing party students to cohabitate, live, drink and have fun. These houses are quite bad, but the requirements and deposit tend to be much lower. Rent is usually much cheaper.
Professional houses are for those in work, with a full-time job. These are houses kept in better condition are more expensive and come with a lot higher deposits. These are great for working couples.
Agency vs No agency
The big dilemma when moving to the UK is to get an agency to sort out your accommodation or try to deal with the landlord directly. I did both and I would definitely suggest going through an agency to avoid all issues. It is much more expensive, of course, but having the middleman which you can sue with ease it’s much more logical. Also, agencies are obligated to look after the property more, have serious procedure and follow certain standards. Of course, don’t expect they agency to help you much or be too nice. They are usually quite rude actually and definately in favor of the landlord. So be strong and always stick to your guns.
Costs of rental properties
There are so many costs involved when renting a property in the UK. You usually need one month’s rent in advance, as well as 6 weeks deposit. You also need to pay an agency fee, and sometimes a guarantoor fee. If you are renting an unfurnished property, then you obviously need to buy your own furniture which can cost quite a lot.
Tip: visit home charity shops which sell second hand furniture.
You need to hire a man with a van to carry your stuff from A to B. You need to immediately call various providers to ensure they know who to bill and where you live.
Here is a breakdown. For a £925 house you are expected to pay:
£450 for administration, agency fee and check in fee. (non-refundable)
£925 first month rent in advance
£1,280 6 weeks deposit (protected and refundable*)
£100+ check out fee (non-refundable)
*Note that your deposit has to be kept in the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Your landlord (or agency) must provide you with a letter confirming this. Should you not receive this, you must inform the authorities immediately! This is a breach of law and they will be fined. The TDS ensures that you are dealt with properly upon end of tenancy agreement. Should there be any disputes in regards to the amount of deposit the landlord (agency) refunds you, you have the option to ask a mediator to help. Until all parties agree to the correct refund, the deposit stays in the TDS. This is a great way to ensure your money is protected.
When you move in, make sure you verify the check-in letter offered to you (the inventory). This should contain all fixtures, furnitures and white goods. You should be able to walk around the house and mark any discrepancies. For instance, if you see scruffs on the walls, make sure to note them down and take pictures. In fact, you should take pictures on everything noted in the inventory. Even if things look good, take a picture and keep it for your own reference. As with all inventories, you have a few days to return your version of the inventory to the agency or landlord. Please note that if you don’t do so within the right time frame, everyone will assume the original inventory is correct.
If there is any damage to the house whilst you are there, make sure you let the agency know asap so they can start fixing the issue asap. In our case, the wind blew one of the wooden fences from our back garden. We emailed the agency immediately, so they are aware of the situation. This is a great way to ensure you are not held responsable for any damage (within reason and given it was not your fault, of course).
Requirements for homes to rent in the UK
Apart from being able to pay all the fees upright, you might need proof of your income. This can mean payslips, P45s or P60s. You can show your bank account statement and usually you might need a letter from your employer. If you just start your new employment, you will very likely have to show a letter or your contract whereby it clearly shows your annual income. To rent a house of around £925 you might need to earn close to £30k (this can be combined if you share the rent with your partner or friend). Note that if you are self employed, you need to prove your income which consists of your wages as well as dividends. You might also need a letter from your accountant to further iterate your income. You also need references from your previous landlords or agencies. If you lived abroad, you might still need some personal or/and professional statements to show you are of good character.
Things to check in rental properties
When you look to get a rental property, there are a few things I strongly recommend that you check. Make sure you always verify the official energy efficiency for the property. The agent showing you around the house should have that information to hand. Make sure the energy efficiency is B+. You will usually get this with newbuilt houses only. We lived in properties with energy efficiency B which was grea and C which was awful. The C house was always cold, especially during the winter. So much so, that we usually left the heating on at all times, drank lots of hot tea and work in sweaters. As you may appreciate, this is not very comfortable in your own home. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that the bigger the house, the harder to heat up and the quicker it cools down.
Another important factor is for your home to have double glazing. This will be your next best friend during the cold, rainy weather in Britain. Who wants mouldy wooden window frames anyway?
Make sure your house has gas central heating. I lived in a flat with electric radiators and not only they barely heated up the house, but they cost a lot of money to run! It’s probably the worst invented thing in a British house. No matter how much you love the house, keep clear of that horrible electric radiator. It will ruin you!
Ensure everything is fully functional. I’m not joking, just walk around, turn the heating on, make sure the boiler if functional, check the taps, and most importantly: verify there is enough water pressure. Nothing more annoying than switching the shower on for the first time and realising it will take a week to rinse off your shampoo.
Walk around the house and open wardrobes. As invasive as that may seem, sniff around for mould. British houses are notorious for moulding up and you need to make sure you are not moving into one of these horrible moldy places. Check the window frames for mould and the shower and bath. Look very careful on the ceiling and around the corners to ensure there are no signs of leakage. If you see patches of paint, make sure you double check to see what was the cause for that. If something leaked, it usually means the wooden boards from the structures have moulded and need replacing. This costs so much money, most landlords prefer selling the house than fixing it. You don’t want to live in a horrible house like that!
And finally, this is down to preference but I like to mention it anyway: the double tap aka the most horrendous British invention. I do not understand the point of this. The Brits love their separate hot and cold water tap. Imagine the situation when you need to wash your face and you can’t get warm water…you get either cold or hot. You need to fill up your sink to ensure you get the right temperature, or really quickly switch between the two of them. Awful, awful! I always avoided these where possible!
Rental property terminology
Number of bedrooms – unlike many other European countries, the number of bedrooms doesn’t include the living room / lounge. It simply states the number of actual bedrooms. Living room and kitchen are separate.
Bath – the room whoich contains a bath tub
En-suite – The master bedroom has its own bathroom
Shower over bath – Bathtub which contains a shower
Boiler Room – Small storage room which has the boiler in it
Toilet – Usually a very small room which contains only a toilet and a small sink.
Cloakroom – Storage room for coats
Conservatory – The best British invention aka a glass room where you can sip your tea in the afternoon. The official definition: a room with a glass roof and walls, attached to a house at one side and used as a greenhouse or a sun parlor.
No DSS – Means the landlord or agency won’t accept someone on housing benefits
Healthcare in the UK
The National Healthcare Service (NHS) provides healthcare to all permanent residents of the United Kingdom. It is free at this point to use for the patient, although there are charges associated with eye tests, dental care, prescriptions and aspects of personal care.
The NHS is funded by individual National Insurance contributions which are automatically deducted from the wage. To see how much you contribute, refer to your payslip or ask the HR department if in doubt.
The healthcare system was introduced in the 1948 and has been successfully running since. It offers free and unbiased healthcare to all permanent residence of the UK. Once you have a NI card, a job and a UK address, you can register with a local GP (general practitioner) to have access to free medical care. It is important to note that you get a GP based on your location within a small radius from your address. You usually have several options around you, so make sure to check the reviews online before you decided which one to register to.
When you are in need of medical assistance, call the reception and book an appointment. Based on your issue, you might be able to get an emergency appointment with your local practitioner. Appointments with the GP are usually 10 minutes long. Once they assess you, they either refer you to a specialist or give you a prescription.
The waiting time for an appointment tends to vary but it’s a week on average, at least from my personal experience. Once you get referred to a specialist, the waiting time can be 6 weeks or even more, it depends on your circumstances and the urgency of your case.
For those in need of immediate assitance you can access a walk-in centre. A walk-in centre only deals with minor ilnesses and injuries. They are usually managed by a nurse and available to everyone. You don’t need an appointment, although the waiting time can range from a few minutes to a few hours.
There are also emergency services called A&E services. These deal with genuine life threatening emergencies. Less severe injuries can be treated in urgent care centres or minut injuries units. Please remember that A&E services are not an alternative to your GP appointment. If you have been in an accident, call 999 which is the emergency number in the UK.
Non A&E services
If your GP practice is closed, call 111 which will best direct you to the local service to treat your injury. 111 is the NHS non-emergency number. It’s fast, easy and completely free. A trained advisor will talk to you and make sure they fully understand your issue before they can better recommend a suitable medicare care for you. You should use the NHS 111 service if you urgently need medical help or advice but it’s not a life-threatening situation.
There are also Sexual Health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics which can offer a range of information, advice, and services in regards to sexual health.
These can be from testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, through free condoms or other methods of contraception to vaccination, advice on abortion and help for people who have been suxally assaulted. These clinics operate appointment based but have walk in services as well. Make sure to check the clinic closest to you, and check how to get an appointment or which day / time you can go in for the walking services. Anybody can go to a sexual health clinic, no matter what their age. Some clinics hold sessions for specific groups of people, including young people, gay men and lesbians.
Prescriptions cost in the UK
The current prescription charge is £8.40 per item (£16.80 per pair of elastic hosiery). A three monthly PPC is £29.10 and could save you money if you need more than three prescribed items in three months. A 12-month certificate is £104.00 and could save you money if you need more than 12 prescribed items in a year.
You may be entitled for free prescriptions. You can check the nhs website to see if this applies to you. Note that contraceptives are supplied free of charge, always.
You need to check if the dentistry you are interested in currently takes in new patients. The waiting time can be as long as 6 months or more for appointments. The best course of action is to go to a private dentist, although note they are very expensive, and from my experience, not very good. In fact, after visiting the dentist in the UK (private) and paying them hundreds of pounds, I ended up having serious problems. So much so, that I had to go to another European country, pay several hundreds pounds to get my problem fixed. Nevertheless, it’s good to know your options. If you need a reliable dentist abroad, get in touch and I can recommend you one in Europe.
Friendships and family in the UK
At first glance, the British like to keep themselves to themselves, but the moment you enter the magical gates of a pub, everything changes. One pint is all it takes for your work colleagues to start opening up, chattering about this and that. The British are actually quite friendly and curious by nature. Don’t be offended if everyone asks you where you are from or make you say something in your own language. Most of them mean no harm, they just want to know and use this as an icebreaker. In fact, I don’t even know how many times they liked to guess that I am Swedish, French or Polish (I’m neither, FYI).
To me, the British seem quite awkward to begin with, but once you find common ground they are very easy to talk to. I love the British wits and find it very easy to make friends in Britain. I love their silly jokes and I learned to like the sarcasm, so much so, that I use it everyday too.
If there is one thing I learned, is that the British love to party. The pub culture is real and as vibrant as ever. This is one thing I didn’t like about Britain, but that’s because I’m more of a cafe society girl. Students like to go out a lot. In fact, I simply don’t understand how come their liver can take it. They do 3 years of continuous partying, which involves heavy drinking, house parties and going on on a regular basis.
The drug culture is also widely spread in the UK. Most people are open about smoking weed and usually Friday night is reserved to more serious drugs such as cocaine, mdma or speed to keep the party going. There is such thing called the “Monday blues” which has double meaning. It means going back to work, but also the actual post drug come down.
As people age, they replace the clubbing with the pub. Pubs are usually reserved for the working professionals or old individuals who like to tell a story. Pubs are fun and pub crawls are a thing in Britain. Note that drinks are expensive in the UK and if you are not careful you can find yourself in a situation whereby you work to afford to drink. Keep it cool!
If you are a social creature, you will find it easy to make friends in Britain, especially when you are out with others. Most people will be happy to talk to you. Once you make it into a group, you will be invited to new social events all the time. There is always something going on.
If you wish to meet new people, you can also sign up for citysocializer and make new friends this way.
Hidden costs for expats
Council Tax – always check your council tax band before you get a flat. Usually the agent will be able to tell you how much you should expect to pay. As discussed this is on top of you rent and utilities.
Tax and NI – The salary advertised is always gross. Deductions apply and you have take the tax and NI contributions out of your gross salary to calculate how much money you actually make.
Running a car – The national average for car insurance is about £500 a year. Add road tax to this (depending on your car can be from 0 to £515 a year), maintenance, yearly MOT cost (above £100) and fuel.
Public transport – Public transport in the UK is very expensive. Although everyone seems to hate the British trains, I think the Brits have it quite well. Some local trains tend to be late, yes, but the cross-country trains are usually spotless, fast and on time. Those are, of course, more expensive, but you get what you pay for. There are some local trains which indeed are a bit grim and full of questionable individuals, but most of the time you can manage. Best course of action is to always reserve a seat if you travel between cities, but note that this usually costs more.
Banking in the UK
In order to open a bank account, you will need an address and some legitimate ID. Usually your passport will do the trick. Make sure you bring your tenancy agreement as proof of address. Make sure you go for a bank account which gives you a free account with a standard debit card. Ask for a contactless card. This will allow you to pay for things up to £30 contactless.
There is no way for me to tell you what bank is best for your needs. It’s usually easier to open an account with one of the UK’s largest banks – Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC or RBS/NatWest.
I have my account with Lloyds, but this is because when I just arrived in the UK, I saw their logo and I loved it. No joke, as silly as this sounds. I’ve been with them for the past 10 years and had no issues. If you want to open a business account, make sure you check which bank offers you the lowest monthly costs and the best customer service. Ideally you will have 24/7 access to the help line. I know I needed this whilst I was in Japan and the time differences were tricky. Also make sure you have good rates for international transactions.
Ideally, you will check a financial website to compare all current accounts and make sure you are aware of your benefits.
If you wish to get a credit card, you might find it tricky as you don’t have any credit history in the country. However, you can always check dedicated websites to see how to get the best credit card for your needs. Please make sure you keep up with your payments or only get a card because you need the points / benefits. If you are late with your payments, you will be greatly penalised and your credit rating will be affected. This means that you might not be able to apply for mortgages, loans or even phone contracts. If you don’t pay your bills or credit card, eventually your debt will be passed onto a debt collector agency. You can also be prosecuted in the UK courts and have some your items or salary seized, depending on the company / governments you owe money to.
No matter where you come from, moving to the UK will have an impact on you. In my case, it was the drinking culture, the crazy way party women dress and the sheer amount of rain which drove me mad. In contrast, I loved how Britain is so walking friendly as it offers so many trails all around the country. There are several cities in the UK which are incredibly bike friendly, which makes it easier for residents to commute without the need of a car or public transport. There are road rules to protect cyclists but there are unfortunately quite a few accidents as well. Cyclists are advices to wear helmets and protecting gear, make sure they have visibility jackets and working lights at all times. I cycled for 3 years, mostly trouble free.
It is common to talk to your neighbours and look after each other’s homes when one is on holiday. This is usuall a thing in the richer suburbs. It is common for the post man to ask you to take in a parcel for your next door neighbour. They will come and collect it later on. People do this all the time.
It is also common to post cards before Xmas for your neighbours to wish them happy holidays. They will sometimes do the same. Just push your cards through the letter box.
Most things can be done online in the UK. Applications, shopping, groceries, even Royal Mail purchases, which makes things easy and awesome.
I recommend getting a phone and a sim card through Three because of their “feel at home” deals. This enables you to travel to various countries and use your UK sim without paying extra for roaming.
For international calls download ringo, a nice little app which enables you to call over wifi.
For internet, make sure you check your area you want to move to in order to ensure you have coverage! This is incredibly important in rural places. If you can, and have coverage, go for Virgin Media. That’s the best internet in the country.
You will eventually understand which shop you prefer the most. We bought things from a combination of stores: mainly Sainsbury’s and Lidl. We didn’t like Aldi, and we kept away from Asda. Tesco is an ok option too. Marks and Spencer will have some of the best products, but it is expensive. We bought our fruit and veg from them, as well as cheese. I used to like Morrisons, but since they sold me out of date cheese at the dairy counter, I avoided them like the plague.
For petrol. I always fueled at either Morrisons or Asda, because of the cheapest prices.
If I could recommend one last thing, would be moving to Scotland, particularly Edinburgh. Edinburgh was by far my favorite city in the UK. For convenience most prefer moving to England, especially in major cities such as London, Manchester or Birmingham. Bristol is a fantastic option, as well as Manchester, but I lived in both, hence I am biased. I particularly like Oxford and Cambridge. Of course, each city has its own perks, so it’s up to you to figure out what you want.
Wales is cheap and great, with beautiful landscapes. I wanted to move to Wales but because I used London as a main travel hub, moving even further from the capital made no sense. I also had issues finding high speed internet connection is certain areas of interest. Wales is fantastic and I strongly recommended it for weekends away. Please make time to visit Snowdonia, it’s pretty awesome.
Perhaps a premature discussion, but if moving to the UK means settling forever, then you might want to consider certain things. Obtaining British citizenship is absolutely not easy and it requires a sheer amount of paperwork. Because of Brexit, it is not clear how will the British citizenship be dealt with when it comes to EU citizens.
I am not an immigration lawyer, but I can offer some advice which I wished I would have received when I first arrived to the country.
If you dream of getting a British citizenship, you have to ensure that you keep each and every single piece of documentation you get.
Keep all your bank statements safe! Ensure you keep ALL p45s (payslips) and ALL p60s. Keep proof of all your addresses! Ideally you will keep a copy of all tenancy agreements as well as a copy of all your council tax bills. Keep a copy of all your papers and IDs. If your passport expires, ask your government to return back your old passport and keep it safe. Keep a spreadsheet with all dated you travel to and from the UK. Keep a copy of your plane tickets.
I needed all of the above when I applied for permananet residency and British citizenship. I didn’t have all of the above and it created a lot of issues for me to dig into my past and find all paperwork.
Are you ready to move to the UK? Did you find the information useful? Is there anything you think I should add to the list? Please tell me all about it in the comments section below!
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If you like outdoor accents and natural environment in your home, so a dining table bases for glass tops a tree stump can really give your room a modern look woody. The glass allows natural wood to be displayed from all angles, and the natural appearance creates the illusion of being rooted in soil. For a more contemporary urban look, a couple of blocks of cement and plate glass can make a coffee table industrial style, modern coffee table or dining room. You can usually buy heavy cement blocks in the center of home remodeling and repair, or save them from construction and demolition.
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Walking into the entrance way of the Maggie Oakes Brasserie in Old Montreal Quebec from our suite at the Hotel William Gray next door I knew that THIS was going to be my favourite restaurant during our visit to the city.
My travelling companion laughed out loud at the sight of my eyes wide as saucers and my big grin as I stood there like a kid at a toy store, drooling over the glass room of dry aged beef — good eats were definitely on the menu!
The restaurant with elegant décor is large with a full-length bar on one side of the restaurant and a large outdoor patio at the main entrance facing Place Jacques-Cartier, both perfect spots for cocktails.
One especially eye-catching piece of décor is the living micro-green garden on the wall. We watched one of the chefs harvesting fresh greens one morning so it isn’t just for looks. Stunning and practical, if you have a green thumb, I think this would look stunning on the wall of a kitchen.
Now, back to the food, Maggie Oakes menu features fresh delights and adds some French classic twists to modern fare. As should be expected, grilled meats feature heavily but there is plenty from the garden for those who don’t eat red meat. There is also a raw bar with oysters, shrimp, crab, and lobster.
Here’s what we ate at the Maggie Oakes.
Maggie Oakes Brunch
The Terroir – Two eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, roasted potatoes, creton, fresh fruit, toast and homemade jam. – Definitely, try the French Canadian classic “creton”; freshly made in-house it’s a spiced pork blend that you spread on toast similar to liverwurst.
Lobster Toast – Decadent and rich French toast – the bread is dipped in egg, grilled and topped with an egg, lobster, seared mushrooms and hollandaise sauce.
Maggie Oakes Dinner
Charcuterie Platter – Beautifully presented on a wooden platter, Maggie Oakes charcuterie platter features prosciutto, soppressata, and copa
Rack of Lamb – Perfectly grilled and served with sautéed kohlrabi, broccoli, green grapes, and a sumac sauce
Arctic Char – Served with red quinoa, acorn squash, sautéed green beans, fennel and sopressata salad
Passion-Mango Tartlet – Passion fruit crémeaux, mango, pineapple, lime and vanilla salsa
I highly recommend the charcuterie platter and of course, if you love red meat then this is the place to eat it since it’s one of their specialities. Portions are large (between 16-ounces and 32-ounces) and are perfect for sharing if you both love your meat cooked the same way.
Featuring AAA Canadian beef cuts, Maggie Oakes dry ages their beef in-house for a minimum of 35 days before grilling.
Unfortunately for us, I prefer my steak on the rare side, and my travelling companion prefers her steak well, so sharing a steak wouldn’t have worked out, and we opted to order individual selections from the menu. I wish they had smaller portions, but that’s okay. It just means that I need to return to Maggie Oakes again with husband Ray so that we can order the 32-ounce porterhouse steak for 2!
We dined at the Maggie Oakes for both breakfast and dinner and found the service and food to be top notch. The menu combines French Canadian classics with modern bistro flair and is a great upscale place to dine in Old Montreal Quebec.
Maggie Oakes Brasserie
426 Place Jacques-Cartier, Montréal, Québec
Have you dined at Maggie Oakes in Old Montreal? What did you have?
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Do you ever wish you could literally jump into the pages of a book and live there for a while?
I have a pretty great life, but I do wish I could do that sometimes.
This month, I’m also part of a mini-book club—my husband David, my niece Pepper, and me—to read Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. The three of us are in places of transition, so it’s a good time to dig in and lay the foundation for what’s next. I like this book because it uses design principles to figure out life stuff, and there are exercises at the end of each chapter that are kind of fun. We meet on Wednesdays, eat some great food at a Prague restaurants, then share the results of that week’s chapters.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person who desires a good life, must be in want of healthy food—or something like that. So here are five bold and colorful dishes to inspire you to live a bold and colorful life. Happy cooking!
Cookup Tips: Make all the components during your cookup—roast or grill the chicken, cut the veggies, roast the spaghetti squash, make the Sunshine Sauce—then when it’s time to eat, you’re, like, 10 minutes from slurping the squash noodles.
Recommended Sides: This has everything you need for a complete meal, but if you also made Thai Yummy Salad, you could have a two-course Thai meal, and that would be rad.
Cookup Tips: Meat “dough” can be made 1 day in advance then cooked—or you can cook the meatballs during your Cookup and re-heat just before eating. They’ll stay fresh and tasty for 5-6 days after cooking. They also freeze like champs!
Cookup Tips: This is the perfect meal for a weeknight if you prep the (super easy) components during your Weekly Cookup. You can make everything in advance and do a quick reheat on the lamb and eggplant when it’s time to eat—or skip the lamb and eat all the elements cold and chopped like a salad.
Recommended Sides: If you’re feeling like a little kitchen project, you could try your hand at Grain-Free Pita Bread.
Cookup Tips: Chili tastes even better on day 2 or 3, so let this simmer on the back of the stove during your Cookup and enjoy it later in the week. (Pro tip: This is pretty great for breakfast with a fried egg on top.)
Cookup Tips: I recommend against making this in advance; the flavors will be much brighter and tastier when you make it fresh—but it takes such a short time that you won’t even mind. If you want a shortcut, you can use pre-cooked and peeled shrimp. (I am a fan of shortcuts.)
Recommended Sides: This really doesn’t need a side, but if you want extra credit, and extra vegetables, I recommend Oven-Roasted Cauliflower Rice.
Cookup Tips: Make this during your Cookup and add flair to your meals all week. It’s great on salads, sure, but you can also drizzle it on hot vegetables or a roasted chicken breast, plop it on a bunless burger, and use it as a dipper for roasted sweet potato wedges.
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As chief executive of Newgate Communications, co-CEO of Porta Communications, chair of Target Ovarian Cancer and chair of the Barbican Centre Trust, Emma Kane has an impressive roster of titles.
City A.M. spoke to Kane about the book she’s reading, what’s on her reading list for this summer and the book she was given as a gift that changed the trajectory of her career.
What book are you currently reading?
Damaged Goods by Oliver Shah. A very well written book that gives an insight into what happens when relationships and trust break down. It is a fascinating read although I feel there are many more chapters as yet unwritten.
What was the last book you read?
Sapiens, a Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari – this captivating book provides great insight into how we came to be who we are.
Do you have any books lined up for holiday reading this summer?
As chair of Target Ovarian Cancer, I am looking forward to reading Ursula Martin’s book One Woman Walks Wales, her astounding reaction to a life-changing moment when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and walked 3,700 miles… For late summer, it will be ‘Reading Between the Lines: What Your Handwriting Says About You by Emma Bache. Her book is out in September and, having used her skills in my business life, I will be fascinated to read more from one of the most perceptive, talented and hilarious women I know. I had the pleasure of listening to Jeff Immelt speak at the Global Financial Leaders Conference 2017 in Naples, Florida. I admired his boldness of turning up on the day that GE was under fire – I was given a copy of his book The New GE Way: Innovation, Transformation and Winning in the 21st Century by David Magee and hope that it will be fascinating too. And then there will be several books in my suitcase by Stefan Zweig who I am obsessed with. I may be being ambitious because it will be our first holiday with our two grandchildren, both under one year of age, but if there’s time, I’d love to reread ‘The Glass Room’ by Simon Mawer.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the past five years?
How to Own the World: A Plain English Guide to Thinking Globally and Investing Wisely by Andrew Craig – I have read so many books and guides to finance over the years and this is without doubt the best. I bought a copy for each of our five children – so far two of them have read it and have put its wise words into action.
When do you tend to read?
I also read a lot in my role as chair of the Barbican Centre Trust such as Antigone by Sophocles or The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin. Weekday night time reading tends to be copious amounts of poetry – currently it’s Let them Eat Chaos by Kate Tempest although I read it very softly so I don’t drive my husband crazy as it is meant to be read out loud!
What genre of books do you enjoy reading most and why?
Anything that gives an insight into the way someone else thinks and can inspire me to tackle an issue or embrace an opportunity in a more effective and creative way (or avoid making specific mistakes). I think it would be non-fiction though.
How many books would you say you read in a year?
Around 35 read ‘properly’, many more are skimmed.
Is there a book (or books) that have influenced your career?
Dine Out & Lose Weight by Michel Montignac – not because it is a great read (the spine remains intact) but because it was an unwanted gift from the chairman of somewhere I worked… he left it on my desk with the charming inscription – “pile on the profits, not the pounds”. It was the defining point of my career – the moment I decided to take my destiny into my own hands and start my own agency.
What book have you not read that you feel you should?
Our eldest, Dr Ben Rosenblatt, is the lead performance coach of the England football team. In 2014 he completed his PhD on “A biomechanical analysis of the principles of training in strength and conditioning for sprinting”…
What book, fiction or non-fiction, do you most wish you’d written?
It would either be Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable which has been in existence since 1870 and is full of wit and wisdom, culture, myth and legend… or perhaps the Harry Potter series because then I would be JK Rowling, a totally inspirational, talented woman and phenomenal philanthropist.
Every homeowner struggles with space constraints. Whether you live in a tiny house or a sprawling mansion, you could probably use more space to store away odds and ends, to stretch, to decorate, to walk freely, and to live comfortably—but how do you find the extra leg room when you’re dealing with limited space? From closets-turned-pantries to staircases-turned-closets, here are 10 ingenious ways you can use sliding doors to save space and spruce up your home.
Solution #1: Get Extra Elbow Room in the Kitchen with Sliding Pantry Doors
Space is always at a premium when you’re trying to prepare a meal. Swinging doors, which often grace the front of pantries, only make the problem worse. Sliding and stacking doors, on the other hand, allow homeowners to cut down on wasted space while offering easy access to stored items. The best part is that interior sliding doors are easy to clean—perfect for kitchens, which tend to get messy.
Tip #2: Use Every Inch of Space to Increase Pantry Storage
Kitchen pantries cry out for creative space saving solutions. Always packed to the brim with essentials, as well as superfluities, these alcoves are an organizer’s worst nightmare. Fortunately, there are ways to increase your shelf space without compromising the look and feel of your home.
If you want to play it smart, use every square inch of your kitchen, including the spaces above the refrigerator or cupboards. Swing doors with handles make the best covers for small pantry cupboards since they’re easy to open from below.
Solution #3: Create a Brand-New Pantry with Shelves and Sliding Doors
Ever wonder how to store food when you don’t have a pantry? The simplest answer is to build your own kitchen pantry with custom doors. Transform an existing broom closet into a food storage area by adding a few extra shelves, or dig into a wall to carve out a brand-new space.
New Kitchen Pantry, After Sliding Door Installation
New Kitchen Pantry, After Sliding Door Installation
You can also transform smaller cupboards into one large, open pantry. Adding a pantry to existing cabinets is relatively simple—just replace individual cupboard doors with floor-to-ceiling interior sliding doors to transform discrete little nooks into one spacious storage cavity. However you create your new pantry, it’s important to find the right shelves and get the right measurements for your new doors.
Solution #4: Store Smarter with Shallow Shelving
Most pantries feature deep shelves. While it’s nice to have so much surface space, cavernous storage areas make it harder to locate things you need. More often than not, items tend to get trapped in the back. By the time you finally get to that years-old pasta sauce, it’s no longer edible.
A better way to organize your pantry is to stack items one or two rows deep. Of course, that requires more horizontal room. So, how do you store your edibles more efficiently, given existing space constraints?
Here’s where it pays to get creative with your small pantry organization ideas. One way is to go back to solution number three—convert a closet or hallway nook into a backup pantry by adding extra shelving. Another strategy is to install more shelves in the kitchen itself. Either way, you’ll want to add frosted doors (either sliding or swing) to protect the items inside and shield them from view.
Solution #5: Replace Swinging Doors with Barn Doors to Free Up Walls and Walkways
If you have a traditional home, you probably have plenty of swinging doors. If you’re a space-savvy homeowner, consider replacing them with sliding barn doors. Since they glide quietly along a wall instead of swinging outward, they free up wall space and walkways. With a sliding barn door in place of a swinging door, you can easily add shelves, tables, and decorations in what would otherwise remain a dead zone.
Want the space-saving efficiency of a suspended track system without the rustic look that comes with most barn doors? Take a look at The Sliding Door Company’s collection of contemporary glass barn doors. Featuring beautiful handles, high-quality glass, and suspended track systems, they add a modern twist to this traditional design fix.
Solution #6: Store Items Behind Glass Sliding Doors
Clutter is one of a designer’s worst enemies. Fortunately, there are solutions. Section off unsightly messes and increase your storage space with beautifully designed sliding glass doors from The Sliding Door Company. Perfect for covering up laundry areas, closets, and shelves, these interior sliding doors add elegance where disorder once reigned.
If you really need to free up space, install pocket doors—a special kind of sliding glass door that slips into wall cavities. When closed, they create a beautiful glass barrier. Open the doors, and they nearly disappear from view, leaving plenty of room for people to walk, stretch, stack, and carry items.
These vanishing doors are especially great for storage areas since they leave ample room for loading and unloading items. You can even transform a large space into an extra closet simply by enclosing it with an opaque or semi-opaque sliding door.
Solution #7: Maximize Both Privacy and Space with Room Dividers
Open living arrangements are popular since they impart a sense of expansiveness to a home and cut down on wasted space. That being said, many homeowners would prefer a little extra privacy without cutting into their square footage. For that, they turn to room dividers—The Sliding Door Company’s go-to solution for dividing and beautifying interior spaces.
Hosting a holiday party? Leave the doors open and let people roam freely from room to room. Throwing a dinner party? Close the dividers to separate the dining room where people are engaging in conversation, from the kitchen where people are busy preparing food.
Use your dining room as an office during the day? Close it off with a sliding door, then open it up again when night comes and the family sits down for a shared meal. No matter why you need them or how you use them, room dividers give you the flexibility to balance privacy with open space.
Tip #8: Outfit Narrow Hallways with Glass Closet Doors
Unless you’ve perfected the minimalist lifestyle, you probably need more storage space— somewhere to stick your sporting gear, electronics, food, winter clothes, etc. More often than not, stuff ends up piled up on kitchen counters, bookshelves, floors, and tables.
Beating back the clutter takes some ingenuity and a few sturdy closet doors. Before renting an expensive storage unit, be sure you’ve used up every square inch of storage space available in your home, including those hallway closets.
A word to the wise: If you do have a closet in a narrow hallway, make sure it’s made of safe, durable glass. It’s easy to bang into doors, particularly if you have pets or children, but even if you’re simply trying to remove larger items in such a confined space. Fortunately, every closet door manufactured by The Sliding Door Company features tempered or laminated glass for maximum safety. We also engineer our doors so that they’ll never leave the track, no matter how roughly you treat them.
Tip #9: Install New Storage Spaces in a Basement or Walk-In Closet
If your existing hallway closets won’t cut it, you can always opt for a more innovative approach. With a little creativity and the help of a few sliding interior doors, homeowners can transform their nooks and crannies into spacious holds. If all you have is a bare wall, inspect it to see if it’s deep enough to accommodate a few extra shelves or a closet rack. Then enclose it with a sliding closet door made of frosted, milky, or even opaque glass.
Another popular approach is to install drawers or even closets beneath staircases. Have a large walk-in closet? Divide it into discrete units to make organization easier. You can also put new closets in small basements to increase your holding capacity. By utilizing recesses that would otherwise go to waste, you get the most mileage out of your existing space.
Tip #10: Do It Your Way
There are countless ways to save space. Whether you want to reduce clutter, open up walkways, or free up walls, interior glass doors can help you make the most of what you have. With The Sliding Door Company, you also get superior customization options. Not only can you choose between barn doors and sliding doors, pocket doors and suspended doors—you can also select the type of glass, frame finishes, door designs, and handles that complement your sense of style.
In the mood for more brilliant ideas? Need another dose of inspiration? Expert design help is just a phone call away. Schedule a consultation with a Sliding Door Company representative or visit one of our 27 showrooms scattered throughout the nation. Together, we can clean up the clutter and save some space!
While many in education today feel as if too much emphasis is being placed on standardized testing and other issues, the fact remains that having a modern classroom that promotes growth and learning among students is still the most important aspect of the educational process. While classrooms of years past contained chalkboards and wooden desks that were anything but comfortable, today’s rooms focus on comfort, technology, and collaboration among students. However, with technology as well as design ideas moving at a fast pace, knowing how to create a modern classroom can be more difficult than you might think. If you want to know how interior design, the correct use of space, and today’s technology all come together to create a classroom that teachers and students will love, here are some ideas you may want to consider.
If you want to give your classroom a modern look while also making it look stylish, consider having glass room partitions, interior sliding glass doors, and sliding barn doors installed. Not only will they give the room a look and feel of openness, but the glass will also let in plenty of natural light that will create a brighter room that kids will find much more enjoyable. While on the surface it may appear as if having so much glass might be a distraction for kids, in fact the opposite holds true. In various studies about learning habits, children in classrooms that had large amounts of natural light performed better than those confined to darker, more isolated rooms.
Collaborative Work Spaces
Rather than having kids spend all day in a certain area of the classroom, give them work spaces where they can collaborate on special projects and other assignments. Once again, using glass room partitions, interior sliding glass doors, and sliding barn doors can transform an otherwise drab area into a collaborative work space where they can learn, work, and think together. Since kids have lots of energy and enjoy interacting with one another, creating these special work spaces can give them a sense of independence while completing their assignments. Along with this, you can even let the kids decorate these spaces, making it feel even more like their own space.
If there is one thing that helps take learning to the next level in today’s classrooms, it’s the use of technology. However, since a classroom consists of kids who are introverts, extroverts, independent thinkers, dreamers, and those who just can’t seem to sit still for more than one or two minutes, it’s important to have a classroom designed with this in mind. To accomplish this while incorporating technology into the daily learning process, create several tech stations using glass room partitions and equip them with computers, mobile devices, headphones, and other equipment that lets students conduct research, practice learning new skills, and then creating a project to show what they learned. In doing so, you’ll not only have a classroom full of children who love learning, but are able to show off the new skills they learn each day.
As many teachers know, kids love to dream and dream big. To help today’s kids become tomorrow’s leaders, create what’s known as an inspiration zone in your modern classroom. Once again, using sliding glass doors or wall partitions can make this happen. By giving them their own space that has lots and lots of natural light shining through, it’s hard to tell what ideas and dreams your students may come up with by the end of the day. By putting students into a classroom that feels and looks modern and happy, it’s certain their creativity will flourish.
Make the Classroom Modern and Mobile
Since kids today are used to living a lifestyle that’s fast-paced and mobile, your classroom needs to be able to fit into this way of life as well. To do so, you can use a variety of simple things, such as adding casters to chairs to allow kids the ability to easily move around the room. Along with this, maximize space by removing traditional doors and installing sliding barn doors, which will be easier for kids to go through as well as give a much more modern look to the room. And to top it off, arrange your furniture to create nooks, which will let the kids feel more relaxed.
Even though education continues to evolve in new and exciting ways, there are still many aspects of it that hold true decade after decade. Allowing children the freedom to express themselves in positive ways, to have access to the best learning tools available, and spend their days in a classroom that looks and feels warm and wonderful, can positively impact kids not just while they are students, but for the rest of their lives.
The hills have eyes, but it would be a ‘scandalous breach of data protection’ if they have ears too
A couple of weeks ago, I texted my sister to ask her if she’d pick up some chilli oil on the way back from work. Within the next few days, I noticed three new adverts on my Facebook feed: one about a face wash for oily skin from Kiehl’s, a lip oil from MAC, and a reminder from Thames Water not to flush oil down the sink.
It sounds coincidental, but then I started noticing things like this more and more. Okay so plenty of ads passed me by that didn’t arouse suspicion, but I started collecting screenshots of adverts for topics that did, including hand soap and pizza from Zizzi. These two appeared on Instagram and are screenshotted below.
The link between Facebook, its messenger service and other messenger platforms like Whatsapp made me wonder whether the social media giant, described in a recent Panorama programme as “the most targeted advertising machine in history”, really was screening my messages.
And then something even more uncomfortable came to the fore: the possibility of social media apps not just knowing what you’re texting, but also hearing your conversations too.
After my friend said Facebook sent her an advert for a book she’d been talking about with colleagues at work just days before, me and my sister couldn’t resist, so we started talking about car insurance around our phones and, lo and behold, a car insurance advert appeared in the following days. (Neither of us have a car, nor drive.) And, minutes after a discussion with my sister about the fellow I’m A Celebrity campmates treatment of Iain Lee, who has battled anxiety and depression, this ad popped up on Facebook.
I’m not the only one that’s experienced this. A video uploaded last year entitled ‘Facebook iPhone Listening into our Conversations for Advertising TEST’ has racked up close to 1.5 million views, and has prompted a number of ‘this happened to me too’ comments. One said: “Family was talking about earthquake preparedness last night, and some earthquake insurance ads show up this morning”; another commented: “I am a teacher and my Facebook ads change depending on whatever I am teaching. It is really creepy, and they are definitely listening.” Legal Cheek has taken steps to contact Facebook and Instagram but is yet to receive a response.
Suitably freaked out I presented my theory to Jim Killock, executive director of a campaign organisation for protecting digital rights. “It would definitely be a scandalous breach of data protection if Facebook could hear your voice, one that would see them fined lots of money,” the head of Open Rights Group says.
But, legally, it seems what the company is doing is inside the line, this line in the new media age hinging on users agreeing to terms & conditions and privacy notices that no one reads. This system isn’t perfect but it is lawful, media law barrister David Hirst as content as Killock to answer “nonsense” when I float my Facebook mole theory. He says:
“There really is no excuse in 2017 for not obtaining express consent or authorisation from social media users, and it’s almost inconceivable to think companies would be adopting any more extreme uses of personal data from voice or the contents of messages without permission for these purposes.”
Hirst, a barrister at media and privacy law set 5RB, can find no explanation for my oil ads apart from “coincidence” or the result of Facebook’s above-board data collection/ad-tailoring policy. Do raise your eyebrows as you read ‘above-board’ — in a Guardian long read dedicated to “Facebook’s war against free will”, podcaster Franklin Foer says the blue-logoed company “is always surveilling users”, very legally allowed to amass data on them based on their Google searches and their time spent on webpages that feature one of Facebook’s widgets.
These widgets follow users through the internet and can provide Facebook with a pretty comprehensive account of their browsing history, building a picture of their interests and monetising this data through advertising accordingly.
So while Facebook may not have ears it does certainly have eyes, a Mona Lisa gaze that’s turned us into “walking barcodes” (Panorama‘s words) and is difficult to escape. Dependent on getting rid of cookies and installing ad blockers, opting out requires expertise, careful thought and time – which many of Facebook’s two billion plus users do not have. It’s also made more problematic, in Killock’s words, by the fact that “Facebook’s ad tailoring is based on algorithmic practices we don’t know a lot about”.
This Eye of Providence looks inwardly, too. Ads can be sent specifically to users based on the groups and subjects they’re interested in on social media. The practice is widespread: both sides of the European Union referendum, for example, sent micro-targeted ads during the campaign, while it’s estimated the US election in November earned Facebook $250 million (£187 million) in advertising money.
These ads are known as “dark ads” simply because of the darkness that shrouds their use and content. New Statesman reports, for example, that Vote Leave claims to have spent 98% of its advertising budget on digital adverts. However only those targeted by them can see them (and therefore metaphorically ‘shine a light’ by scrutinising them).
This darkness has left many feeling cold and calling for a more ethically-run social media. Scorn was directed at Facebook just weeks ago when it was demonstrated the social media site allowed would-be advertisers to target users interested in anti-Semitic topics such as “How to burn Jews”. It’s also worth saying Facebook’s ad policy is not the only thing it’s taken flak for over the years. Its failure to remove offensive content swiftly, its place in the fight against terrorism, fake profiles and ‘catfishing’, cases of stalking, trolling and bullying and its psychological impact on children and other vulnerable people feature on a growing list of complaints about the company.
The growing public pressure for a more ethical internet transcends social media and is beginning to be expressed in case law. Vidal-Hall v Google was brought in 2014, the claim based on the distress suffered by the claimants finding out their personal characteristics formed the basis of the defendant’s targeted ads. The case settled, but is of interest to privacy lawyers because, 5RB writes:
“The judge indicated in a preliminary view that damages for a breach of the [Data Protection Act] could include non-pecuniary damage. The impact of the DPA in privacy law has to date been limited by the requirement that damage for distress could only be recovered if pecuniary damage had been suffered. This development has the potential to make claims under the DPA far more common in the field of privacy law.”
Recently, a class action has been launched against search engine Google. It’s claimed Google unlawfully harvested personal data in an eight-month period beginning in 2011 and ending in 2012 by bypassing the iPhone’s default privacy setting. Claimant Richard Lloyd, the former executive director of consumer body Which?, says he hopes this claim “will send a strong message to Google and other tech giants in Silicon Valley that we’re not afraid to fight back if our laws are broken”. It seems we’re beginning to heed the warning of famous linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky:
“It’s dangerous when people are willing to give up their privacy.”
It’s not just claimants demonstrating the world’s growing awareness of privacy law and growing resistance to the internet’s monetisation of its users. The footfall through a recent three-week exhibition near Leicester Square, ‘THE GLASS ROOM’, which promised to empower visitors to “reclaim your digital self”, was 19,000.
The exhibition’s promo material, ‘We Know You’, eerily adopts the voice of the five companies that have come to be known as GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft), which it says collectively “now wield an unprecedented level of power and influence” over our lives. It asks:
“How much do these companies know about you?”
Discontent from below seems to have spurred a hard, legal response from above: the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force will soon mean the answer to that question will be “not as much as they could have done”.
This law, which comes into effect on 25 May 2018, will require businesses to protect the data of EU citizens to a standard described by the editor of security and risk management news resource CSO as “quite high”, requiring “most companies to make a large investment to meet and to administer”.
Instilled with the need to create, I love building projects and writing adventure stories. I’m a life-long equestrian and owned by a Rocky Mountain Horse. I adore grandchildren, horses, bunnies, mochas, and forest trails.
I’ve published three books in an equestrian series. I write at an antique secretary desk that occupies a glass room with a forest view. Fittingly, it once belonged to the same wise grandmother who introduced me to the love of reading via Walter Farley’s horse books. That desk has secret compartments which hold memories, mysteries, and story ideas.
As a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Texas Association of Authors, I take studying the craft of writing seriously. Revision is my super-power.
Thirteen-year-old Selah’s life is about as perfect as it gets. She has horsy friends at school, and on weekends, she rides her black mare on Grandpa’s farm. Training the horse to do upper-level liberty work is what makes her heart beat.
But one word can ruin a perfect life—moving.A move would separate her from her horse, so she plots to get her name on the farm mailbox instead. She’s sure she could persuade Grandpa—except he’s overly distracted by a sheep-loving neighbor.
Determined not to let Grandpa’s new sweetheart take her place in his heart, Selah puts her hope in a painted dream horse from Grandpa’s past. When she snugs up the girth and buckles on her spurs, Selah rides to win.
“Move?” Instant panic struck Selah as her world exploded like a crystal horse figurine crashing onto the stable’s rock floor. Pins and needles pierced her skin like the shards from the shattered crystal. Her eyelids fluttered closed and she leaned into the privacy they provided while she fought for air and denied reality.
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