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These News & Views are scooped from around the world; What’s happening? What are people thinking? What would people like them to think?…and some of the amusing things that are going on today.

Click on the picture and you’ll be taken to the Mon Oc portfolio of 400+ articles.  Choose your article and you’ll be taken there, just one click away.  Read today’s scoops here and understand what’s happening.

Le Carnaval de Nice du 13 Fevrier au 1er Mars 2015

logo_header_2015The vibrant and exciting Carnaval de Nice is not only one of the oldest carnivals of its kind in the world, it is also one of the best known ranking alongside those at Rio de Janeiro , Venice and New Orleans .

Lasting two weeks around the end of February, the Carnival is a succession of floral parades known as dates_header_2015batailles des fleurs and other events, effectively creating an extended street party. On Mardi Gras there are fireworks and a bonfire

The first Carnival was held in medieval times for a visit by the Count of Provence and subsequent events were held after the Lenten Fast right up to the Revolutionary period (end of the 18C and early 19C). It resumed in 1830 to honour King Charles Félix and the resumption of the County of Nice’s

Nice CarnavalThe modern Carnival dates from 1873 when it was decided to have an official theme each year and the Nice Carnavalfestivities begin with the arrival of Sa Majesté Carnaval or ‘King Carnival’ which is a papier maché effigy of the King, sometimes modelled on a well-known person.

In 2015 the Carnival will feature the King of Music who will be ceremonially burned at the end of the Carnival. In previous years there have been a King of Laughter (1990), a King of Dupes (2007) and a King of Sport (2013).

Where to see the Carnival? It all starts the arrival of the ‘King’ in place Masséna followed by 18 floats and 1000 Nice Carnaval 2008musicians and dancers making its way down onto the Promenade des Anglais and looping around the Jardin Albert I .

To get the best views you have to pay but it is possible to catch a glimpse of the proceedings around the route.

Some processions are free of charge Nice Carnavaland some take place during the evening.

Check the website www.nicecarnaval.com for details – this year the Carnival takes place from February 13th – March 1st – don’t miss it!

Words and pictures © Paul Shawcross.

Adapted from the Nice & Beyond travel app available at  http://bit.ly/11lrTQo (Apple iTunes) &  http://bit.ly/104Yc9Y (Google play)

Carnaval2015_Affiche_40x60_001.indd

Nice Carnaval

Take advantage of today’s Eur/GBP exchange rate to fix your rate for the future

Compared with last March – when GBP/EUR was at 1.19 – EUR value has crashed by over 10% (at time of writing GBP/EUR 1.34). Back then, the sterling price of a €1m property would have been around £838k. It would now cost you closer to £746k – a saving of around £90,000 in nine months. Quite a difference. 27th January 2015

Top Tip

While the going’s good, it might be a good idea take advantage of the current strong exchange rate – this is what’s known as a forward contract.

The great thing about these is that you can fix an exchange rate for several years in advance, really useful if you’re planning to set up a purchase but are worried that the exchange rate may move against you.

So by fixing a rate now, you won’t be affected if the value of sterling falls between now and the time the payment goes through.

EUR: Euro will remain under pressure

The euro plunged last week after the European Central Bank (ECB) announced a plan to purchase €1.2 trillion in bonds within the next two years to inject more money into the financial system.  The market was surprised by the scale of the ECB’s bond buying initiative considering a working figure of €500 billion was leaked only a week prior.

When the ECB buys bonds from banks, it literally prints money and thereby lowers interest rates and depreciates the currency.  Lower interest rates and a weaker currency, in theory, will stimulate spending and investment and will also help raise prices.

It will take many months to learn if the ECB’s bond buying program will work or not.  Meanwhile, the euro will remain under pressure because investors could earn much as 1-2% more on their savings or investment by holding US financial assets.

Moreover, the election of Syriza, an anti-austerity party in Greece, on Sunday could further undermine investors’ confidence in the euro in the coming days and weeks.

This week, the January German employment report will be released on Thursday, and the EU consumer price data for January will be released on Friday.

GBP: Pound gets no respect

The pound has failed to gain last week, particularly against the dollar, despite the release of better than expected retail sales and employment data.  The December retail sales increased by 0.4% month-over-month in comparison to an expected drop of 0.4%. The unemployment fell to 5.8%, and the average household earnings also rose in December.  Not bad at all.

So why did the pound fail to rally? It seems that the market was too focused on the European Central Bank. More notably, the pound failed to benefit as funds seeking higher interest rates bypassed UK assets because the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee members dropped their calls for higher interest rates last week as a response to falling prices at home and eroding demand for its exports, particularly in Europe.

This week, the 4th quarter Gross Domestic Product report will be released on Tuesday.  If the growth number is much better than what the market is expecting, then perhaps the pound could gain some recognition this week and firm up.

Here to help . . .

To chat about any of this, or for any questions you may have, we have partnered with World First, the leading currency specialist. Call Charlotte Joy on 0207 095 0743 and mention Living-in-France.  She’s head of the private client team and as always – she’ll pick up in three rings. World First

FINANCIAL_344_World_First_May14

 

In the garden ~ February 2013

The beginning of February often still seems like a quiet time of the year in the garden but as the weather starts to warm up and the days lengthen there are lots of gardening jobs to be getting on with to prepare for the coming season:

  • General weeding, digging and mulching of flower beds
  • Check that stakes are holding firm with the winter winds
  • Turn some organic material (compost, rotted manure etc) into your flower beds and perhaps add some general organic fertiliser
  • Towards the end of the month start to cut back ornamental grasses, other perennials and sub shrubs such as Gaura, Salvia microphylla and it’s cultivars, Perovskia, etc  If possible shred these prunings to  use as mulch for your garden.
  • Deadhead winter flowering pansies to encourage repeat flowering.
  • Check on the watering requirements of container grown plants, even at this time of the year they can dry out.
  • During February or March prune summer flowering shrubs (eg Lavatera, Buddleia) that flower on the current year’s growth, prune winter flowering shrubs such as winter jasmine and Mahonia after flowering. Start to prune roses.
  • Planting and moving plants
  • If you haven’t yet done so, prune woody climbers such as Wisteria, Kiwis and Campsis back to two or three buds on sideshoots.  Late flowering clematis should also be pruned now, as can Virginia creeper and ivy
  • Make sure that you have finished pruning hedges before the bird nesting season begins, hedges are ideal nesting areas for many garden birds.  Nesting boxes can also still be put up in February.
  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast and protect tender plants if severe cold is forecast again
  • Start to sow seeds

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At the nursery we are often asked about growing culinary herbs and constructing herb gardens so it seems useful to make some comments about herbs to try and clarify things.

The term “herb” has more than one definition. Botanists describe an herb as a small, seed bearing plant with fleshy, rather than woody, parts (from which we get the term “herbaceous”). For the gardener the term “herb” refers to a far wider range of plants. In addition to herbaceous perennials, herbs may include annuals, trees & shrubs, which are valued for their flavour and fragrance as well medicinal qualities, economic and industrial uses, pesticidal properties, and colouring materials (dyes).

Most people are interested in the flavour aspect and wanting to grow culinary herbs in their gardens.  The most popular culinary herbs are probably rosemary, sage, oregano, basil, parsley, coriander, chives, mint, thyme and bay.

Far from combining all these plants in one herb garden it is better to think about their individual cultivation requirements and how to meet them.

Rosemary in flower in February

Rosemary in flower in February

Many of these plants are Mediterranean native plants and will grow easily in this region, they simply need sunshine and a well drained soil, this would include rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, bay and savory.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is well known and can be found in various forms including some lovely dark blue flower forms and a prostrate form, all are equally useful for cooking.

The sage most frequently used is Salvia officinalis which has a number of cultivars including crinkly leaved versions and coloured forms such as Salvia officinalis var Icterina (yellow variegated) and var purpurascens (purply foliage); a group of different foliage sages can make a very effective display in the garden.  Some people swear that the sage flavour is even better in the Spanish sage, Salvia lavandulifolia.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) needs no introduction, you can find it growing all over the garrigue but there are also some good lemon scented forms of thyme that are great with fish or chicken!

Origanum syriacum or zatar is an attractive garden plant which flowers in the summer

Origanum syriacum or zatar is an attractive garden plant which flowers in the summer

Oregano can also be found growing wild but forms vary considerably as to how much flavour they have so it is best to buy a good form.  Origano itself is from Origanum vulgare ssp hirtum while Origanum majorana is sweet marjoram and for fans of Middle Eastern cookery Origanum syriacum is zatar.

Bay trees (Laurus nobilis) are widely grown but do make a large tree so need careful siting in the garden.

Winter savory (Satureja montana) is another Med native herb that is less well known but goes well in soups and stews.

 I’ll comment next month on how to grow some of the other herbs mentioned above.

 At La Petite Pépinière we continue to receive positive feedback about our programme of gardening courses and this is our programme for the spring of 2015.  Our courses are aimed at gardeners in the Languedoc and our intention is to provide information and promote discussion in a relaxed and informal atmosphere which will help those interested in creating interesting, easy to maintain and colourful ornamental gardens.

The courses detailed below will be held at La Petite Pépinière in Caunes-Minervois (11160) and will be tutored by Gill Pound, nursery proprietor.  All courses are designed for a group of seven to eleven participants.  Course fees quoted include coffees, teas etc and you are asked to bring a packed lunch.

An Introduction to Pruning – Wednesday 18th March, 10am to 4pm

This will be an introduction to the principles and practice of pruning, why, when and how.  Practical work in the garden here will be included and we will focus on pruning practices relating to plants frequently found in gardens in the region.

Course fee:  45€

Propagation:  Thursday 19th March, 10am to 4pm

An introduction to the principles of propagation – how to increase your own plants by layering, division, seeds and cuttings.  Plenty of practical work

 Course fee:  45€

If you are interested in either of the above and the dates are inconvenient do get in touch anyway, it may be possible to change dates or to run an additional course.

Tailor made courses: 

For groups of six/seven people it may be possible to tailor make a course to meet your needs; if this is of interest to a club/society/group of friends that you belong to then do get in touch indicating your area(s) of interest.  Guided visits of the garden at La Petite Pépinière are also available.

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For further information contact Gill Pound at La Petite Pépinière de Caunes (shrubs and perennials, unusual plants and plants for dry climates), 21, Avenue de la Montagne Noire, 11160, Caunes-Minervois.

Tel: 04 68 78 43 81 or 06 85 966 572, email Gill@lapetitepepiniere.com  www.lapetitepepiniere.com

Midi Pyrenees voted best region for buyers today with strong pound

The Midi-Pyrenees has been voted the best place to live in France in the annual “Better Life Index” published by the Organisation for Economic and Development (OECD), making it a hot choice to invest in right now.
With lovely scenery, outdoor activities, picturesque villages and historic towns, the Midi-Pyrenees has something for everyone.
The region scored 7.82 out of 10 across a range of 11 “well-being criteria”, including employment, health, the environment, education, civic engagement, access to services, and public safety. The score puts the Midi-Pyrenees on a par with southern Sweden, Umbria in Italy and Madrid.
With the pound currently at its strongest since March 2008, it is the perfect time to buy in the region.
Sterling has broken above €1.30 for the first time in 7 years. It is not surprising therefore that bargain homes in the Eurozone helped grow interest in foreign property in 2014, according to the latest Quarterly Index by OverseasGuidesCompany.com, which saw overall enquiries for the year increase 11 per cent compared to 2013.

The Midi-Pyrenees – voted best place to live in France?

 La Durantie, The Tarn - Le Castlenau – ( €491,920 / approx. £407,430)

Unknown-1La Durantie, the historical belle époque style chateau development on a 15 hectare estate overlooks undulating vineyards and miles of dense oak forest and will consist of 57 vernacular designed single and two storey one to five bedroom detached homes together with two styles of apartments with either 2 or 3 bedrooms.

Le Castelnau is a spacious single storey three bedroom villa with a total floor area of 104m2 which is entered through a fabulous outer courtyard with attractive views along the private pool to the lush landscaped rear garden. Two of the three bedrooms are doubles with ensuites and the third bedroom is suitable as a children’s bunk room with an adjacent shower room.

Le Castelnau has a modern Pyram kitchen and a cathedral ceiling to the open plan living areas which gives the properties a bright-airy Unknown-3feel and bifold doors open-up the property to lead seamlessly from inside to out.

Unknown-6Like all the homes at Durantie, Le Castelnau has verandas with slatted wood blinds to control the sun which make an ideal space for outside dining. There are practical outside stores for logs and seat cushions and the home also comes with a parking space.

Sales enquiries: www.durantie.com and: Tel: +33 (0)6 15 54 33 13

 

 

 

 

Puylaurens (€950,000 / approx £729,450)

Gs8oPzZ3dnI2cGvYhrdi27DbyrOc_aWj-0glm1UcfLEThis stunning country property overlooking the undulating Tarn countryside around Puylaurens is possibly situated in the most noise pollution-free zone in southwest France, all you can hear are the birds tweeting in the trees and the distant rumble of a tractor ploughing the other side of the hill.

Only 45 minutes from Toulouse airport, the property has been renovated entirely over a three and half year period until last year with great attention to detail. In addition to the 4 reception rooms and 5 bedrooms, the majority with en suite bathrooms, there is the potential to substitute one or two of the ground floor rooms for additional accommodation. The loft is boarded and insulated ready for conversion. The professional kitchen is fitted out with state-of-the-art stainless steel cooking range, fridges and work surfaces alongside the spacious family livingUnknown-7 and dining area. Original open fireplaces have been restored to their former glory and with the wood-fired central heating boiler, the heating system is very economical to run for a property of this size and makes the house really cosy and warm during the winter. The house and pool have been extremely well-maintained and cared for, there are several corners of the garden to sit, sunbathe, relax with a book or a glass of wine and you will go far to find a more agreeable spot for a second home, permanent residence or a B&B business.

Sales enquiries: www.home-hunts.com and Tel UK: +44 (0)208 144 5501/ or France: +33 (0)970 44 66 43

What more “flexible” pensions mean for overseas retirees

Brits retiring abroad in 2015 could be at risk of making poor financial decisions that impact negatively on their life in the sun, according to new research that shows a lack of understanding about pension options in the UK.

“New rules kick in in April, giving retirees more freedom over how they use a private pension pot,” said Angelos Koutsoudes, Head of OverseasGuidesCompany.com.

“But it’s concerning that a survey by a leading think tank revealed that four in ten people less than a year from retirement still haven’t made plans for their pension income. Also worrying was that only half of people aged over 55 and with a private pension understood what an annuity is ‘quite or very well’, despite nearly 70 per cent saying the most important thing was that their pension delivered a secure guaranteed income.

“Careful financial planning is especially critical for people moving abroad on a UK income, who need to keep to a weekly or monthly budget. Once overseas, as well as there being less flexibility to rejig your financial affairs, you’ll also need to consider the implications of the exchange rate on your sterling income. That’s why, for many, an annuity, or fixed regular income that is protected against inflation, will make the most sense. There is a danger that the greater flexibility that comes with the pension changes means some retirees won’t fully comprehend all their options, so getting independent financial advice well in advance of leaving the country is highly recommended.

“Meanwhile, expats who already receive a UK-based annuity or state pension will be celebrating the euro’s weakening against sterling, and be hoping for it to continue. As of mid-January 2015, their income in euros is around eight per cent higher compared to a year ago, thanks to nothing more than the exchange rate.”

 

Foreign property buyers go into France with upper hand this year . . .

 . . . But should remain realistic on prices, says FrenchEntrée

UK residents are being urged to remain realistic about the cost of purchasing a property in France in 2015 even if the market is currently in their favour, according to travel and property specialists FrenchEntrée.

Increasing availability of properties, a strong Pound versus the Euro, and rising UK house prices, means UK buyers were in the strongest position for some years to ‘bag’ a bargain French property in 2014, with reductions ranging from five to 30%.

However, success depended largely on regional price differences and the popularity of particular property types, suggests a FrenchEntrée report on buying habits and property trends out today.

Competition for the most sought-after properties, such as a traditional, picture-perfect stone rural cottage, will remain strong, especially given growing interest in the country among Americans, Australians, and Far East buyers last year, it warns.

That is especially true in the South of France, already popular with Mediterranean sun- seekers. A new high-speed train link between the UK and the region planned for May 2015 will inevitably add interest to destinations in Provence, such as Avignon.

Guy Hibbert, managing director of FrenchEntrée says, “Many of our UK and overseas clients have managed to secure some price reductions on French property in 2014. Much of this has been down to a combination of France’s well publicised economic issues, global financial trends, and sustained increases in UK house prices.

“This has created the impression buyers can effectively continue to negotiate similar price  reductions going into 2015, with buyers holding the upper hand.  While this can be true of some regions, there is a two-tier property market in France.  Foreign buyers looking to buy in enduringly popular regions such as the Dordogne and Cote d’Azur will still be required to pay a premium over native market rates for picturesque rural period properties.”
Key Report Findings: 

• A third of FrenchEntrée’s network of estate agents specialising in foreign buyers confirmed foreign buyer interest had increased in 2014.

• Foreign buyers are traditionally willing to spend between €250,000 (£191,161) and €400,000 (£312,557), they said.

• The average French citizen reportedly spends around €220,000 (£171,906) on a property.

• Foreign buyers can expect to pay on average €262,000 (£204,784) for a character townhouse, to €279,000 (£218,071) for a detached rural three-bedroomed house.  A gîte business is expected to cost around €400,000 (£312,557).*

•  The top three most popular areas are the Languedoc Roussillon, the Dordogne and Poitou-Charentes, all in the South West of France.
Buyers’ Trends:

• The majority of buyers make between two and five trips before choosing a property.

• A growing interest in sustainable lifestyles, cheaper land and a less crowded countryside, are increasingly given as reasons for setting up house in France.

• Just under 45% of respondents were looking to base themselves in France for the majority of the year. Over 40% are searching for a second home or holiday property.

• While the overwhelming number of foreign buyers are nearing or are in retirement, just under a third of those questioned said they needed to run a business or generate an income.

Guy concludes, “The market for French homes is becoming more buoyant, complex and more competitive than the native French market.  As a result, potential buyers need to be well-informed about what they can realistically expect to negotiate in different regions, depending on the area’s transport infrastructure, popularity, and quality of living, just as in the UK.”

Notes 

*These figures are an average derived from agents who responded to the survey, not a median figure for foreign buyer transactions in France. A stone character property in Provence or Cote d’Azur will be significantly more expensive than one in the Limousin, for example.

FrenchEntrée surveyed 706 buyers, plus and 65 estate agents from across France.

Information on property trends in France is collected by the national federation of French Estate Agents (FNAIM) and the widely used Notaires de France. However, the official data does not easily record the buyer’s country of residence, resulting in foreign buyer data being mixed with data collected from French buyers in official statistics. 

Price conversions are accurate as of 5th January 2015.

 

Weekly Financial Market Analysis

Currencies Direct: 26 January 2015

Welcome to the Weekly Market Analysis – our digestible currency market update which gives you an expert insight to key movements, and what to expect in the coming week.

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EUR

There was only one direction for the euro last week, and that was way down. The announcement of the widely anticipated bond-buying scheme by Mario Draghi on Thursday took investors by surprise, as it was much larger than expected. After the announcement, the euro sank to an 11-year low versus the US dollar, a seven-year low against the British pound, and an 18-month low when compared to the Japanese yen.

Taking the limelight for Europe is the latest update on inflation figures, where the last reading saw inflation falling into negative territory and forced the European Central Bank to commence quantitative easing. Therefore, investors will be awaiting this report with much anticipation. Prices are expected to have fallen further as the crash in oil prices continues to filter down through the economy. The recent Greek election result will be a key influencer over the coming days, whilst unemployment figures will also be released as well.

GBP

Sterling fell to an 18-month low versus the dollar last week, spurred lower by a rising Greenback and also disappointing borrowing figures from the UK. However, the pound climbed to a seven-year high versus the euro, after the single currency fell against almost every major pair on its central bank’s announcement, Thursday.

The UK’s main release comes in the form of fourth quarter GDP estimates, which are expected to show sustained growth, although consensus estimates suggest slightly slower growth than in the third quarter. There’s not a great deal else on the data calendar apart from the CBI distributive trades survey for January and Bank of England mortgage figures.

USD

The Greenback continues to rise ever higher against most major pairs, in a seemingly unstoppable ascent. Fresh 11-year highs were hit in the dollar index as well as against the euro after the announcement from the European Central Bank. Gains were made against the Canadian dollar, the Swiss franc and the Japanese yen. Friday saw the dollar rise lose a little momentum against some currencies, such as the British pound, however the overall trend remains unchanged and points skyward.

Centre stage for the US is a fourth quarter GDP estimate that economists have been revising lower in recent weeks, as weak retail sales data and lacklustre business survey results have dampened the expectations of growth in the world’s largest economy. This will feed on to the FOMC meeting, which is expected to be dovish, as the slowing economy puts off the need to raise interest rates until later in the year.

Before 9th February . . . Please . . . the WINTER FUEL ALLOWANCE matter is running out . . .

Friends,

A correspondent (Simon Wollen)  has composed a résumé of the Winter Fuel Payment affair. He has sent it to his MP.
It is excellent. It is attached.
May I earnestly entreat you to send it to your MP.   Remember to tell your MP or ex MP the following.

Dear  _________  M.P.

Before leaving the UK for my present residence in (France/Spain/Cyprus etc) I lived in your constituency at _______  You, therefore, are the MP who should represent my interests in Parliament.

(Please add anything personal, i.e. if you have met him/her and supported him/her in the past on another issue . . .)

Please read the attached and I earnestly request that you sign the EDM number 695 tabled by the well respected MPs Sir Roger Gale and Sir Peter Bottomley.

Surely such experienced politicians deserve your support.

Please read the attached résumé by Mr. Wollen of the circumstances.

In anticipation of your commitment to this matter.

I remain   ____________ (your name)

So far  (Thursday 22 January 4.30 p.m.) only one other MP has added their signature to the two original sponsors of the EDM – Sir Roger Gale and Sir Peter Bottomley.

Excuses have been . . .  It is the custom to respond only to the needs of constituents. . . .  As a minister I cannot intervene. . . . I will look at the matter later . . .  others no response at all.

This matter must be dealt with well before the 9th February -  Please can you help

To find your MP - http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

Mr. Wollen’s paper can also be located via www.lefourquet.net/SWollenWFP-jan2015.doc

 

Sincerely  Brian Cave

Books for your reading list

The Dark Man

by Stephen E. Crockett

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A real page turner.

Can where we live affect the person we become? Do such things as dark forces and evil presences exist, and can they remain patiently at a place for a long time, waiting for their next victim?

In the summer of 1972, twelve year old Scott Clemmons lives on a farm with his parents in the small town of Advance, in North Carolina. What goes on behind closed doors stays there, family affairs are nobody’s business but their own, and nobody interferes.

And so, young Scott and his mother live in a state of perpetual fear, bullied, and scared for their safety, under the tyranny of his alcoholic father.

Then, one day he notices a big black bird which speaks to him, and starts to see a mysterious dark man around the farm. Unhappy and scared, at night he has strange dreams… Is he going mad?

As this story unfolds, the tragic events that summer at the farm, and the influence of the big black bird, change Scott’s life forever.

However, despite his childhood, as an adult, he returns to the farm and discovers that Jane, the neighbour’s daughter is still there. As their relationship develops, they begin renovating the old farm together.

Scott soon discovers, however, that the big black bird and the mysterious man are still there, they have just been patiently waiting for him to return. Also, in the barn, he finds his father’s stash of whisky

From then on, as life spirals into an alcoholic blur and the demons in his head overtake his life, you have to ask yourself is, is Scott imagining it all, or, are there really evil forces at work?

As the horrors increase and his mind begins to lose all sense of reasoning, looking into the mirror, what is he seeing? Is the monster in the mirror really his dead father? The warped imaginings of a mind on the verge of entering insanity? Or, could it be that the mirror really a portal to somewhere even more monstrous?

Well, you’re in for an interesting read. This story is very cleverly written, one would think that the answer is easy, however, there is a twist in the tale, and the answer is kept a secret right until the end

I look forward to reading more of this authors imaginative stories.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Man-Stephen-Crockett-ebook/dp/B00D6T8K0E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422037207&sr=8-1&keywords=the+dark+man+by+stephen+crockett

 

Cowboys, Armageddon, and the Truth: How a Gay Child was Saved from Religion

by Scott Terry 

Product Details

Just by the title I expected this book to be an eye-opener and I certainly wasn’t disappointed!

This is not a story for the faint hearted, it is gut wrenchingly frank and tells of a childhood that no child should have to suffer. Yet, it is written from the author’s own harrowing experiences, and this book tells of his childhood under the tyrannical reign of his stepmother “Fluffy.”

Scott and his older sister Sissy’s father is so besotted with his second wife that he turns a blind eye to the inhumane treatment of his children, and so they are afraid to put a foot wrong and suffered terrible abuse whilst growing up

Rejected and unloved, he turned to religion for his salvation, and as a Jehovah’s Witness he was continually reminded that Armageddon was just around the corner, not allowed to celebrate many of the festivals his friends did and prayed daily for help and understanding as his sexuality bloomed.

This is a compelling read. The content is very sad, and yet the author tells the story of his childhood calmly, and without bitterness. His sexual preferences and coming to terms with them are graphically described in this no holds barred audiobook and he also offers an insight into the world of the Jehovah’s Witness, which those of us who are not one, do not realise.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available From: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cowboys-Armageddon-Truth-Child-Religion-ebook/dp/B009F2F02C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422037314&sr=8-1&keywords=cowboys%2C+the+truth+and+armageddon

 

Why We Love Serial Killers: The Curious Appeal of the World’s Most Savage Murderers

by Scott Bonn

Product Details

Firstly, it’s confession time, as soon as I saw the title of this book I was drawn to it like a moth, I am one of those people who cannot resist reading about the people who carry out horrendous crimes. Throughout history there have been plenty of examples both real, and those which have been the product of somebody else’s mind, such as the serial killer Hannibal Lecter first made famous in the book and film Silence of the Lambs.

The author of this book, has however a special insight into its content. Not only is Dr Scott Bonn a Professor of Criminology but he also comes from a media and analytic background.

The author explores what makes these people so interesting to those of us who look on with morbid fascination at their crimes. He looks into their background, upbringing, and ultimately the people and events which have influenced them. However, he also looks at role that the killers themselves, media and law enforcement agencies have in the public’s perception.

For anyone interested in the subject, this book will be fascinating, famous serial killers such as David Berkowitz and Dennis Rader, and the author has interviewed some of them. There is also a look into the world of their cult followers and people who will pay for memorabilia and work by them, something I never realised happened.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-Love-Serial-Killers-Murderers-ebook/dp/B00NS42FBW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422037354&sr=8-1&keywords=why+we+love+serial+killers

GBP/EUR highest since 2008!!

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rate is the British pound (GBP). All rates are for indication purposes only. Prices can vary dramatically based on amount and delivery date. Read disclaimer

The rates above are using the British pound (GBP) as the base rate. All rates are for indication purposes only. Prices can vary dramatically based on amount and delivery date.

15 January 2015 - GBP/EUR highest since 2008

The pound has managed to push to its highest level against the euro since October 2008 on the anticipation that the European Central Bank (ECB) will announce sovereign QE at the 22 January meeting. The pound was also supported by the Bank of England governor Mark Carney who commented that he was not concerned about the recent fall in inflation linking it largely to the fall in the price of oil.

image008Yesterday official data showed that US Retail Sales came in much lower than anticipated at -0.9 per cent against the consensus for a drop of -0.1 per cent in December. The rapid USD appreciation, that we have seen recently, was stopped in its tracks as the markets became jittery on the outlook for US growth and the subsequent translation to interest rate rises. Later USD managed to claw back some of its losses, but the weak data does question the overall USD momentum. Moving forward US economic data is likely to lead to heightened volatility as US rate rises are dependent on a robust economic recovery: particularly in the labour market. As we stand the market is pricing in a rate hike for the US in the middle of this year.

In other news, the Reserve Bank of India surprised the market by announcing a cut in interest rates, from 8 per cent to 7.75 per cent, outside their official meeting in an effort to revive growth. The Indian Rupee has strengthened significantly in the last month and has edged higher still on the news.

Today we have German GDP which will provide feedback on Q4 and the expectation is that growth will come in at 0.5 per cent against 0.1 per cent for Q3. Later, in the US we have initial jobless claims and producer prices (PPI) and the Philadelphia Fed survey – all data will come under scrutiny to weigh up the recovery in the US.

The contents of this report are for information purposes only. It is not intended as a recommendation to trade or a solicitation for funds.

Currencies Direct cannot be held responsible for any loss or damages arising from any action taken following consideration of this information.   

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