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Carrefour runout of butter again ? Churn you own . . .

Pour a pint of heavy cream or whipping cream into your mixer, turn on low speed, then raise to medium speed.

First, the cream will turn into whipped cream with soft, then stiff peaks. Keep going until the cream breaks.

You’ll now see the butter clinging to the beater. This usually takes anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. In this process, you are separating the butter fat from the liquid.

Once the butter has solidified, pour off the buttermilk and save it for baking (or drink it!).

Scoop the butter into a bowl. Rinse the butter by pouring ice water over it and pressing the remaining buttermilk out with a small spatula or a spoon.

Pour off the water and repeat the process.

Keep rinsing and squishing the butter with the ice water until the water runs clear. Then add some salt if you like and work that into the butter.

All you’ll need is:

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • Large bowl of ice water
  • Salt to taste
  • Mixer, hand mixer or blender,

Christmas in France: What really happens ?

In France, Christmas is called Noel. This comes from the French phrase les bonnes nouvelles,” which means “the good news” and refers to the gospel.

In France it is a time for the whole family to come together at Christmas to holiday and worship. On the eve of Christmas beautifully lit churches and cathedrals, ring out Christmas carols with the church bells.

Once dinner is over and the family have retired to bed, they leave a fire burning and food and drink on the table in case the Virgin Mary calls in. Children leave their shoes or wooden clogs called sabots in the hearth for the Christ Child or Pere Noel to fill. In the north of France, children are given gifts on December 6, which is St. Nicholas’ Day, instead of Christmas Day. The adults give each others presents on New Year’s Day.

Traditionally the French burn a log in their homes from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day. This stems from an ancient tradition in which farmers would use part of the log to ensure good luck for the next year’s harvest.

On Christmas Eve, children leave their shoes by the fireplace to be filled with gifts from Pere Noel. In the morning they also find that sweets, fruit, nuts and small toys have been hung on the tree.

Nearly every French home (and village) at Christmastime displays a Nativity scene or creche, which serves as the focus for the Christmas celebration. The creche is often peopled with little clay figures called santons or “little saints.” In addition to the usual Holy Family, shepherds, and Magi, the craftsmen also produce figures in the form of local dignitaries and characters. The craftsmanship involved in creating the gaily colored santons is quite astounding and the molds have been passed from generation to generation since the seventeenth century. Throughout December the figures are sold at annual Christmas fairs.

The Christmas tree has never been particularly popular in France, and though the use of the Yule log has faded, the French make a traditional Yule log-shaped cake called the buche de Nol, which means “Christmas Log.” The cake, among other food in great abundance is served at the grand feast of the season, which is called le reveillon.

Le reveillon is a very late supper held after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The menu for the meal varies according to regional culinary tradition. In Alsace, goose is the main course, in Burgundy it is turkey with chestnuts, and the Parisians feast upon oysters and pat de foie gras. Le Revellion may consist of poultry, ham, salads, cake, fruit and wine.

French families used to have a Three Kings Cake with a bean hidden in it. Whoever found the bean in their slice was made King, or Queen, for the day.  In France the children go out to look for the Kings, taking gifts of hay for the camels. These days cakes are sold with plastic model characters from current films !

Another name for this day is Twelfth Day. It is the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas, which used to be one long holiday. It was the last night of the Feast of Fools before the Lord of Misrule had to give up his crown and become themselves once again.

Your reading for December . . .

Reviews by Susan Keefe

The God Mind Principles

by Krystyna Fowler and Phillip Fowler 

What an amazing and life changing book!
Jointly written by husband and wife Spiritual Writers Krystyna and Phillip Fowler, The God Mind Principles is a truly enlightening book, which if you want, can be the catalyst to change your life if you follow the Rules of Law and the three spiritual seals which are written at the front of this inspiring book.
The aim of the authors is to open your mind to the God Mind Principles which will enable you to live your life in the best possible way, achieving what you wish for, finding inner peace and harmony, experiencing true joy, and learning how to recognise evil when it manifests itself in different ways.
The God Mind Principles discusses all the things and prejudices you will encounter in life, in your dreams, hear reported scientifically, and wonder about, in many different ways. In recognition that everyone is unique and absorbs knowledge differently, the authors emphasise that it is vital that everyone read all the book thoroughly, that way you are ensured of understanding its teachings the way which is easiest for you.
Throughout, the unconditional love offered by the god, goddess, eternal father, eternal mother shines through, and the reader learns of how this love and understanding can be attained through belief, and that although everyone is different this love will unite them all.
When we have finished reading this book we are asked to continue on and read it in reverse from back to front, and in doing so we will discover the keys to open the Book of Journals.
We are asked to keep a daily record of our hopes, desires, goals, and feelings, both good and bad.  Although the authors recognise that this may be difficult at first, we are asked to persevere and assured that through the keeping and reading and re-reading of our hopes, dreams fears etc. and studying them, we will ourselves come to recognise the answers we seek in our writings, and by opening our hearts and minds to the eternal father, eternal mother we will be receptive to their guidance and support throughout our lives.
Somehow inspiring just doesn’t seem enough to encompass this book, but it does sums it up. If you are lost, confused, unhappy, depressed, unsure, indeed in any form of crisis you will not only find this incredible book inspiring but also perhaps the way to your salvation.
Reviewed by Susan Keefe

The Bootstrap Ultimatum

by Avraham Azrieli
Memorial Day has become a travesty for thousands of Americans, the greedy word of commerce has taken it over.
As with many other holiday days, it is used as another excuse for companies to make huge profits running special ‘Memorial Day Weekend’ sales, selling things people really don’t need, to people who just can’t resist going shopping, and then coming home with a bargain!
Not surprisingly US veterans, and the families of those who have lost their lives fighting for their country feel resentful. Many veterans are every day tragically suffering silently, terribly maimed and traumatised by war, often forgotten, or refused help by the authorities. However, this year is going to be different, as one person, an ex-Air Force Veteran has decided to do something about it! What’s more, the veteran has a powerful ally, modern technology, and aims to use all its considerable power to reap revenge on the world of commerce!
This exciting political thriller begins with Ben Teller, investigative reporter for NewZonLine Media and his girlfriend Keera popping into his father’s grave to pay their respects. They are just about to head off for a weekend away. Then Ben receives a text from Ray, his boss, asking if he can take a job on. There is trouble expected at Out-Mart. It’s on their way, so Ben decides to cover the story, and on arrival discovers a riot in progress. Someone has emailed all the Out-Mart customers an ‘Everything $1 on Memorial Day Weekend’ coupon!
This is just the beginning! Soon more coupons begin arriving in inboxes, and the troubles quickly escalate. We join Ben as he frantically tries to find the perpetrator, fitting the pieces of the puzzle together, only to discover to his dismay that a vital piece is missing. With time running out and disaster looming on the horizon will Ben manage to find the final piece, discover who the culprit is, and apprehend, them before it is too late?
I really enjoyed reading this exciting suspense mystery which has plenty of twists and turns, and a storyline which kept me riveted until the very end.
Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Mrs. Chartwell and the Cat Burglar

by Pamela Gossiaux
Romance, mystery, and adventure, this book has it all!
Self-preservation is natural when one is hurting, and Abigail Chartwell is doing just this when we meet her at the beginning of this unforgettable story. Widowed young, she believes she will not love again, tortured by her past and fighting her own demons, she has hidden for six years behind her wedding ring and thick glasses. Romance is the last thing she wants, or needs. Her work in the ancient maps and documents department of the university enables her to escape from the world, there she can enjoy the quietness and sanctity of her surroundings, and her church and the friends she has there are her family.
Then there is Tony, a handsome, dashing guy, fond of quoting Shakespeare, wooing the ladies, and an accomplished cat burglar. However, he has a secret, he is a man on a mission. Hidden in his families past is a legend about a lost painting, said to be painted by the great Antonio Russo, he has promised his grandmother that he will find it for her, he’s tantalisingly close, but he just needs to get one more clue…
It is his search for the clue which leads to him to drop in at the library, and there he encounters the beautiful Abigail. The accidental meeting is destined to change their lives forever. As the story unfolds they find themselves irresistibly drawn to each other, her intrigued by his story and mystique, he by an overwhelming urge to love and protect her.
But does the painting he is so desperately searching for even exist, and what does the future hold for Tony and Abigail?
I couldn’t wait to read this exciting new release from Pamela Gossiaux because I really enjoyed her last book ‘Good Enough.’ Mrs. Chartwell and the Cat Burglar is a lovely story and I highly recommend it, it has everything you could wish for, mystery, suspense, romance and a great adventure. I just couldn’t put it down!
Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Harappa 2 The Fall of Shuruppak

by Shankar Kashyap
Product Details
This fascinating journey into Indian history is set in the third millennium BCE.
Through the author’s thorough investigation into this era, and extremely descriptive writing, these splendid days of the Mesopotamian and Indus Valley civilisations are brought to life for his readers.

In this the second book of the Harappa series we join the friends Upaas (a physician), his wife Lopa, Parthava and Elaamite Prince Shushan as they continue their journeys, travelling far and wide through unknown lands satiating their thirst for knowledge.
In this adventure they find themselves agreeing to help the grief stricken Emperor Gilgamesh of Sumer find the great Sage Ziusudra. Gilgamesh believes that the sage will answer a question he is compelled to ask, and through the answer he will find an end to his torment.Armed with the help and advice of Sage Vasishta, magic potions, and amulets for protection they set off on a quest unlike any other they have undertaken. Their travels take them through unknown lands, where they battle mythical beasts, demons, and many unimaginable creatures, but will they succeed and will Gilgamesh find the answer he seeks?

After seeing the Sage they return to Shuruppak as war breaks out, and with battles raging and thousands lying dead or dying they escape by ship, taking those they can. Little do they know that a higher being has decided that mankind needs a lesson, and what happens next is one of the most well-known of all biblical stories…

What I love about this story is that for those of us who are not Indian, yet have a great interest in Indian history, the legend behind the grief and torment of Gilgamesh, and others, interwoven into this epic adventure, adding immeasurably to the enjoyment, and fascination of this book.

I am looking forward to reading Dasharajna: The Battle of Ten Kings (Harappa Trilogy Book 3).

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Tripping to Corsica

British Airways customers will have even more choice of sunshine spots this summer with the launch of a new route to Corsica from Heathrow Terminal 5.

Holidaymakers wanting to relax on pristine beaches, stroll through unspoilt coastal towns and explore charming hilltop villages should head to the picture-perfect French island this summer with direct flights to Figari airport operating every Sunday from March 25 until October 21., 2018

Return fares will be available from £98 in Euro Traveller.

Corsica is perfectly placed between France and Italy in the Mediterranean Sea and is fast becoming a must-visit destination for European holidaymakers.

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ chairman and chief executive, said: “We’re always developing our leisure offering from Heathrow so are incredibly pleased to be adding this exciting new route to our extensive network. British Airways is the most punctual, major short-haul airline in London and we’re looking forward to offering holidaymakers even more choice of destinations next summer. We’re also further improving our schedules and increasing the number of flights to European destinations such as Palma, Corfu and Mykonos.”

The number of flights from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Palma will increase from seven to 13 per week, Corfu will be bolsted from seven to 11 per week and Mykonos from three to seven per week.

Speaking at World Travel Market yesterday, Alex Cruz pledged that the airline’s new £4.5bn investment programme would improve the flying experience for all customers. Reaffirming British Airways as a premium airline committed to customer choice, he outlined the unprecedented competitive pressure the company faced and voiced his determination to create a stronger national carrier to benefit customers and remain at the forefront of world aviation.

He announced that the £4.5bn investment over the next five years would include:

·        72 new aircraft, including four new types for the airline: the Airbus A350, the Boeing 787-10 and the neo (new engine option) variant of the Airbus A320 and 321;

·        New interiors for 128 aircraft in the existing fleet;

·        At-seat power for customers in all cabins;

·        Upgraded catering for economy customers on long-haul;

·        Roll-out of fast wifi in all cabins on short-haul and long-haul.

Earlier this month British Airways announced it would start flying between Heathrow and the historic Spanish city of Almeria, with flights taking to the skies from March 27, 2018. Holidaymakers can discover this lively town and spectacular surrounding coast from just £66 return.

Pickering’s Pot Pourri

by  Richard Pickering

Take it or leave it  In a bid to head off at the pass any potential amendments to the Brexit Bill, David Davis has confirmed that which was expected; that MPs will get a vote on the final terms. However, it is unlikely to achieve this bid. Rather than being the ‘significant climbdown’ pointed to by Keir Starmer, the agreement to a vote is a moot one. When questioned in the Commons on whether a no-vote would mean leaving the EU with no new deal, Mr Davis rose to simply reply ‘yes’, before retaking his seat.

As tweeted by Tory backbencher Heidi Allen on the ability to agree a revised deal following such vote, ‘there’d be no time!’. And which MP would want that on their record? However, this runs deeper. With cross-party support for various amendments building, and with over 400 amendments made at the time of writing, Theresa May’s fragile majority looks under pressure. The odds of her exit before March next year have shortened (2/1), and will doubtless do so further if she loses the vote.

When is a worker not a worker?  In a landmark case this week, the Central Arbitration Committee determined that Deliveroo riders are not employees. The decision centred on the riders’ ability to turn down a job before and after accepting it; hence no minimum wage, holiday or sick pay for the deliveroos. This sits in contrast to the Employment Appeal Tribunal decision that Uber is not merely a platform to connect drivers and passengers, hence the inheritance of employment rights. The lack of clarity is unhelpful in what is an increasingly important component of our workforce.

‘Gig’ work already represents 4% of the UK’s employment base and the technology platforms which support it might soon rank among the UK’s biggest employers, (Deliveroo is set to become the UK’s latest unicorn following recent fundraising of £285m). The Taylor Review released earlier this year recommended that a new status of ‘dependent contractor’ should be introduced for gig workers that don’t benefit from employment rights. As with real estate occupation, businesses will continue to push for greater flexibility, and it is the job of industry and government to arrive at a system that works for all.

Open data  The PropTech industry has been given a shot in the arm in the form of a massive free data release from the Land Registry this week, with more promised to follow. The lack of consistency and centralised availability of data about property has acted as a defensive force against disruption in recent years. Compulsory registration of land commenced in 1990, and 27 years on, 84% of our land mass is now evidenced in over 3 million lines of data.

Many will not welcome the prospect of more open data sets, as the pricing efficiencies that this would promote will reduce the potential for skillful, opportunistic gains. However, for institutions who take a longer view, greater transparency would remove some of the risk of investing in property, which should in turn exert downward pressure on yields. Indexes, such as IPD, and planning portal information form another part of this picture. However, there are much wider data sets around the use of property enabled by smart sensors and big data platforms, that perhaps represent the underwater iceberg, whereas what we see now is its tip.

Open Sesame  It is almost impossible to find an article about retail disruption without a reference to Amazon. However, we should not forget about the existence of its twin to the East.Alibaba (market cap $465bn) is following much the same path as Amazon ($550bn), but also has the advantage of exposure to China’s quickly evolving middle class.Testament to its growth, the Chinese tech giant transacted $25.3bn on its ‘Singles’ Day’ sale with mobile users accounting for 90% of that figure.

A particular area of growth from last year’s Singles’ Day (think Chinese Black Friday) was in offline to online transactions where shoppers could purchase items in pop-up ‘smart stores’ using mobile payment methods. In contrast to Amazon, the Alibaba offer already has a deep rooted physical store presence through, for instance, its ‘Hema’ concept, which fuses a traditional supermarket with a fulfillment centre, united using mobile payment tech. This, Jack Ma calls ‘new retail’. Watch this space.

Back to school  Hoping to replicate their office-focused success in the classroom, WeWork has branched out into a new project called WeGrow. No, this is not the medical marijuana supplier dubbed ‘the Wallmart of Weed’ that returns the top hit on Google for this word. Instead, aimed initially at the private pre-prep / junior school market, the operation will source buildings and provide teaching services. The concept building design is, as one might expect, suitably aspirational and boundary pushing (plus one day per week in a farm), but the move to becoming teachers is the element that might raise the most eyebrows.

The project intends to use the WeWork network of employees and start-up customers to provide children with lessons in business. The blurring of education and business is very deliberate. This is, of course, quite normal in higher education, with link-ups between universities and say life-science campuses being an important component of modern innovation. Moving into primary schools (a potentially lucrative market) feels like a logical step for WeWork; however, it does raise more philosophical questions about early years education.

Geocode  Identifying a parcel of property is something that is at the core of surveying. Historically, property was typically delineated by hedgerows, rivers or stakes in the ground. However, as cities became more complex, new forms of identifier were needed. In 1857, the UK started to adopt the systems of postcodes and, in 1911, the first 1:1250 ordinance survey plans were produced. However, as we move into an era of drone deliveries, autonomous vehicles and satellite imagery, new and inventive geo-codes are being produced.

One such alternative to the unmemorable OS reference is being produced by What3Words, which has ‘divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and assigned each one a unique 3-word address’, using three random normal words to describe each square. This could spell the end of street name addresses, confused delivery drivers and awkward conversations with taxi drivers (oh you meant that High Street…). In case you were wondering, the Cushman & Wakefield office address under this system is ‘adding.future.charm.’ Can’t argue with that.

Doubling up Brevity is the soul of wit’, wrote Shakespeare, in what may have been a founding statement for Twitter.To-date, the social media platform has limited user tweets to just 140 characters (remember SMS messages?). However, proposals are afoot to double this to a generous 280 characters.

No longer just a vehicle to post pictures of cats and celebs, modern Twitter is a powerful political tool. Donald Trump is currently tweeting at a run rate of 51 per day, and one wonders what more could be achieved with the extra 7,140 letters at his disposal…

Meanwhile, the average length of a New Europe article is a consistent 160 words, and the structure is based on the teachings of George Burns: ‘The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible’.

 

Head of Futures Strategy
Cushman & Wakefield

A new restaurant opens in Alet les Bains

Les Marguerites Jardin de Thé opens its doors for the first time on the newly renovated barn – a space for people to come and enjoy traditional British food in a cosy informal environment and at affordable prices.

Menus are always seasonal and use the freshest of local ingredients.

Les Marguerites is perfect for any occasion from a quiet lunch for two – to a Birthday celebration for 30 people – naturally it’s always better to book.

Kick off was on Sunday 26th November at 12.30 pm with our first Sunday roast lunch: 3 courses 22.50€ – and then afternoon tea from 3.30pm

Please feel free to call by for more details at Les Marguerites, 57 Avenue Nicolas Pavillon, Alet les Bains 11580, and pick up a list of events

or call for a reservation 04 68 20 53 56/ 06 33 41 12 10 , or check out our website www.les-marguerites.  With a list of all the menu’s and events over the coming weeks.

MANISH’S ZODIAC PREDICTIONS – DECEMBER 2017

Sagittarius ( 22 November -21 December ) – You may be a little introspective as you review your plans. There can be frustrating delays, particularly on the job now. It’s possible that circumstances will bring you together with something inexplicable and only your intuition or sub consciousness will let you guess what this really might be. Just be prepared for such events and don’t take them with excessive apprehension. Tying up loose ends and clearing out unnecessary clutter are themes in December. It’s an excellent period in your life for joining a group or association that helps you to feel part of a team. Favorable Dates : Dec 2, 5, 11, 14, 20, 23 Favorable Colors : Blue & Grey

Capricorn ( 22 December – 19 January ) – Routine work will go slowly though and you’ll need a lot of patience and perseverance to carry out your tasks. You’ll make good investments and you’ll benefit from the support of the family. You will, however, have a romantic and charismatic attitude, and this will help you maintain cordial relations with the ones you know and establish contacts with the ones you don’t. The need for love will be enormous and the erotic impulse considerable. The great energy you radiate will definitely attract lots of supportive people of opposite sex in your life. Favorable Dates : Dec 1, 2, 10, 11, 19, 20 Favorable Colors : White & Red

Aquarius ( 20 January – 18 February ) – This month will begin with a phase of volatility and pressure in career. New project and risks should be avoided. You need to curb fresh investments and commitment. There are chances of gain but there would be swings in work environment which will not be entirely comfortable. You should avoid stretching your luck too far. There could be some cash crunch due to your locking money in various channels. Keeping your nose to the grindstone is a good idea now, although you tend to want to take the lead. Favorable Dates : Dec 4, 5, 13, 14, 22, 23 Favorable Colors : Black & Yellow

Pisces ( 19 February – 20 March ) – Financially, it can be a wonderful period for you if you put in enough hard work. You are learning new ways of maintaining harmony in your individuality at work and around friends and family. You’ll get tremendously lucky in business sphere. Favorable events and tendencies will dominate in your family life and relationships with close people during the first two weeks of the month. Others are naturally letting you take the lead now, and you’re gladly taking on the role. Dress for success. Your mood in love is mostly adventurous and your charm is quite natural now. Favorable Dates : Dec 2, 3, 11, 12, 20, 21 Favorable Colors : Blue & Red

Aries ( 21 March–19 April ) – This is going to be a very captivating and exciting month and your relational life will clearly get more active. Sensible decisions will be taken and future plans made. This month, you are coming across as quite charming, but introspective nevertheless. Work matters go especially well. Job seekers will find good prospects. You are setting your sights high this month, not afraid to go after what you want. Others are really taking note of you on the job and relations are strong with co-workers and those in authority. FavorableDates : Dec 2, 6, 11, 15, 20, 24 FavorableColors : Purple & Yellow

Taurus ( 20 April – 20 May ) – This is the time which will show you mixed results. Difficult situations may arise in your path but don’t lose your heart in the adversities as your self-confidence will work in your favor. Your financial luck will be good  provided you avoid dubious speculative activities. You should be cautious while dealing with associates, friends and business partners this month, as chances of dispute is very much there. As for the rest, you’ll have good fun with your partner on various occasions and at events with a lot of people attending. Favorable Dates : Dec 3, 7, 10, 16, 21, 25 Favorable Colors : White & Blue 

Gemini ( 21 May – 20 June ) – It is a very rewarding period for you. Actions of courage and your sheer genius will bring you money and spirituality in equal measure. There may be acquisition of land. Construction of house or purchase of vehicle is also possible. You will feel very romantic and will take your relationship to a new level altogether. Contacts and communication might draw more people of opposite sex closer to you. You will find that the opposite sex will help you in your sphere. Harmony in family life is assured. FavorableDates : Dec 7, 8, 16, 26, 25, 26 Favorable Colors : Grey & Blue

Cancer ( 21 June – 22 July ) – You will enjoy the life with full optimism and vivacity. There will be ample opportunity for travel, study and progress in life. This month will be very favorable for you to take the initiative in your family life. Try to make concessions to your dear people from time to time. The first half of month is going to be auspicious for purchases and financial deals whereas the rest of the month is more suitable for communication, trips and more frequent walks. A lovely romantic adventure may happen on the occasion of such an event. Favorable Dates : Dec 1, 9, 10, 18, 19, 27 Favorable Colors : Red & Blue 

Leo ( 23 July–22 August ) – Your career is certainly picking up pace. You are clearer about your goals and work matters are straightforward. Others are recognizing your talents and abilities, so it’s a good time to get yourself noticed. Any team work will be dynamic and productive, though you may get involved in some conflicts and disputes. This will be an excellent month for love – your erotic instinct and your sensitivity will be very strong. You’ll be very attractive to the opposite sex and you might get surprising sentimental offers. If you have a relationship, it can now be revitalized and freshened. Favorable Dates : Dec 1, 3, 10, 12, 19, 21 Favorable Colors : Red & White 

Virgo ( 23 August–22 September ) – Approach towards love, romance and life in general cannot be said very encouraging in initial few days. You are advised to be very calm and balanced in your approach towards different situations in life. Expenditure on secret activities is possible. Journeys will be imminent and people will be eager to have a piece of you. There will be some costly and rare acquisition in December. You’ll have many or difficult responsibilities that will cause problems to you. For better efficiency, you must organize yourself and take things slowly, focusing on the most important ones. Favorable Dates : Dec 5, 7, 14, 16, 23, 25 Favorable Colors : Green & White

Libra ( 23 September – 22 October ) – Unexpected events, mostly of pleasant nature, may happen in career sector. Sudden changes of your responsibilities or even new offers concerning more perspective job are quite possible. You can successfully change your career direction though wise steps. You will reap great rewards as you learn to expand your communication skills and be true to your inner self and your own personal needs; as it will help you immensely on psychological level. Little care regarding your health is required. Start the routine of regular workout and when it comes to food, be moderate. Favorable Dates : Dec 1, 2, 10, 11, 19, 20 Favorable Colors : White & Purple

Scorpio ( 23 October – 21 November ) – You will be very confident with your thoughts and chance of getting promotion is very strong. Time and fortune will throw the spotlight at you, and your activities. It is high time that you are given credit for your efforts and other recognize you and look up to you. In relationship, the increasingly big demands and lack of free time can take their toll on your relationship, especially if it’s new, in which case things seem to halt, if not regress. If you have a steady relationship, do something to revitalize it somehow, to bring some novelty. Favorable Dates : Dec 4, 5, 13, 14, 22, 23 Favorable Colors : Yellow & Green

 

Stamp Duty Land Tax: relief for first time buyers in the UK

by David Anderson

Sykes Anderson Perry explains the Stamp Duty changes announced on 22nd November 2017

Please note that the information herein is of a general nature and you should not act or refrain from acting on it without professional advice on the specific facts of your case. No liability is accepted by the author or Sykes Anderson Perry Limited in respect of this article. Taxation and property law are complex subjects and the above is a basic outline only and is intended only as a general guide. Nothing herein constitutes financial advice.

Contact people at Sykes Anderson Perry for more information:

Summary

  • From 22 November 2017 first time buyers paying £300,000 or less for a residential property will pay no Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).
  • First time buyers paying between £300,000 and £500,000 will pay SDLT at 5% on the amount of the purchase price in excess of £300,000.
  • For example, on a £400,000 purchase, SDLT would only be charged on the £100,000 excess, at 5%, giving a total of £5,000 payable.
  • The HMRC online calculator has already been updated, and you can find it here; https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/calculate-stamp-duty-land-tax/#/intro

Who is classed as a First Time Buyer?

  • A first time buyer is defined as an individual or individuals who have never owned an interest in a residential property in the United Kingdom or anywhere else in the world.
  • If there is more than one buyer, they must all be defined as first time buyers to claim relief.

    From when does this apply?

  • This measure has effect for transactions with an effective date on or after 22 November 2017.
  • The relief must be claimed in an SDLT return, or by amending such a return.

Requirements

  • Relief only applies to first time buyers who intend to occupy the property as their only or main residence. It appears the property could be rented after purchased provided the buyer intends to occupy it eventually as his main residence.
  • Relief cannot be claimed if the transaction counts as a “higher rate transaction” for any other reason. This means that you are caught by the 3% surcharge which applies to people who already own a property.
  • First time buyers purchasing property for more than £500,000 will not be entitled to any relief and will pay SDLT at the normal rates.
  • The purchase transaction cannot be linked to any other land transaction. (Unless that other linked transaction consists of 1) an interest in land which forms part of the garden or grounds of the dwelling being purchased; or 2) an interest in, or right over, land subsisting for the benefit of the dwelling or of the gardens or grounds of the dwelling being purchased.
  • Relief will be withdrawn where a later linked transaction has the effect of making the earlier transaction ineligible for relief. (An example might be where the later transaction takes the relevant consideration above the £500,000 limit, or includes the acquisition of another dwelling.) In these circumstances additional tax becomes payable on the earlier transaction as if the claim had not been made and a further SDLT return must be delivered.

I am buying a shared ownership property, how am I affected?

  • A claim to first-time buyers’ relief is available for purchases under a shared ownership lease or shared ownership trust, but only where the purchaser elects to pay SDLT on the full market value in a one off payment up-front.

Other Points

  • There is no restriction on parents either lending or giving money to their children to purchase the property. This should be documented to avoid difficulties with the child being seen as a nominee for the parent who is actually the beneficial owner.
  • Parents can be guarantors to a child’s mortgage.
  • Parents can be on the deeds as an owner (for instance if this is a requirement of the lending bank) provided it is clear they have no beneficial interest in the property. A declaration of trust should be signed making this clear.
  • The position for first time buyers under 18 is more complex.

November 2017
David Anderson 
Solicitor-Advocate and Chartered Tax Adviser Sykes Anderson Perry Limited

What happens if you sell your French home after leaving France? 

By Rob Kay, Senior Partner, Blevins Franks

The Constitutional Court has ruled that the main home capital gains tax and social charges exemption is only available to French residents. If you leave France, you will lose it.

Capital gains on the sale of a property in France are liable to both French tax and social charges.  Your home is exempt from both, provided it is your main home at the time of sale.   There is a 12-month ‘grace period’, but the Constitutional Court has just ruled that this does not apply if you have left France.

When you sell a French property, it is liable to capital gains tax at 19% plus a surtax ranging from 2% for gains over €50,000 up to 6% for gains over €250,000.  You also need to pay social charges, currently 15.5% but rising to 17.2% under the 2018 budget.   A taper relief system lowers both these taxes the longer you have owned the property.

The main home is exempt from both tax and social charges, provided it is your habitual and actual residence at the time of sale.

If you leave a property without having sold it, you could lose the main home relief entirely when you do come to sell it, even if you lived in it for many years beforehand.  There is no ‘time-apportionment’ for periods of occupation.

However, there can be a 12-month breathing space if things are done properly.  The main home exemption can apply for up to one year from the date you vacate the property and put it on the market – it still needs to be your actual and habitual main residence when you put it up for sale. You cannot rent the property out until you sell it, and need to be able to show you have done your best to find a buyer.

Previously it was understood that the 12-month grace period applied even if you left France to establish residence in another country.

But now, following a court case at the Versailles administrative court, on 27th October 2017 the Conseil Constitutionnel ruled that the grace period is only applicable to French tax residents and it does not apply to persons who have left France and become non-residents.

So if you are planning to leave France, you may wish to put your property on the market sooner rather than later so that you have a chance to sell it before you leave the country.

If you have no choice and have to leave before you find a buyer, contact Blevins Franks to find out what other exemptions you may be able to benefit from to lower your tax liabilities.   Blevins Franks also provides a comprehensive advisory service for those leaving France, to help you make the most of all tax opportunities and structure your finances correctly and effectively.  www.blevinsfranks.com

The tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; an individual is advised to seek personalised advice.

Read more about the financial issues that can affect you by visiting the Blevins Franks website at www.blevinsfranks.com

Your reading for November

by Susan Keefe

Survivor Love Thy Enemy

by James Dennison
 As a youngster the author was raised a catholic, his father owned an Irish bar in the north side of Chicago, he was shy and had a devoted girlfriend. Those years were a time of wonderful innocence, luckily, he had no idea what the future would hold for him, physically, emotionally and religiously.

On the 17th of May 1966, aged 20, he was like many others called up for the drafted, and enrolled in the Fort Kansas Ninth Infantry Division. After 32 weeks basic training, which could in no way have prepared these young men for life in the swamps and jungles, the recruits were called ‘C’ (Charlie) Company and sent to Vietnam, to become part of the Mobile Riverine Force based in the Mekong Delta and operating from US Navy gunboats.

As soon as I started to read this book I was immediately struck by the author’s clear recollections of his comrade’s backgrounds and future dreams, his attention to detail in this respect brings the book wonderfully alive as we get to know the men behind the camouflage gear. As expected in a war book there are many graphic and horrifying images which the writer has been brutally honest in his descriptions of, not only the fighting, but also in methods of torture and some of the truly horrendous ways it was implemented by both sides. We discover also, how hard it was for these young Americans to acclimatise to living in the jungle, the rations, dysentery, insects, depression, and of course the deaths and terrible injuries caused by claymore mines, guns and fighting. However, in his representation of the horrors of war, the author hasn’t forgotten to give the reader glimpses into how life was like for the non-fighting Vietnamese people and how, unsure of what the future would hold, they openly hedged their bets with both sides.

Another very important character in this story who we are introduced to very early on is Van, a prominent member of the Viet Cong movement, a young man with an all-consuming hatred of the Americans burning within him. However, we are to wonder if this is going to change when he falls in love with the beautiful Tuyen. Their love is so fierce that when Van leaves Th oi Son Island for Cambodia, to recruit and train new soldiers in war craft, interrogation and torture, she trains to become a spy, using her womanly whiles to infiltrate the lonely American men of the intelligence services.

As we follow the author through this nightmarish war we discover that even in the most hellish situations love can be found, and indeed true love knows no boundaries. However, always where there is love there is also a myriad of other emotions, including its direct opposite hate, and perhaps the most dangerous of all jealousy.

This book is not only an extremely interesting look at the Vietnam War, the politics, and people, it is also an incredible testament to how the author’s whole life has been shaped by his experiences in Vietnam.

I have read many times that a person comes out of a war a totally different person, and having reading this absorbing, heart rending, vividly honest account by the author it is easy to understand why, when you span the years from that young man drafted in 1966 to the man portrayed on the last page of this amazing story. I just could not put this book down, and highly recommend it.

 

The Retribution 

by Shankar Kashyap 
 
Product DetailsEveryone has seen them, the drug addicts, gays, and drunkards, the dregs of society willing to do anything for their next fix, however, the attractions of these vices are rampant in all tiers of society, and every ‘job’ has its fair share of culprits, it’s just that some people manage to hide under a polished veneer of respectability, whilst others do so with only a small degree of success.

In this exciting psychological thriller a family from Kenya find themselves fleeing to Leicester in the UK. The differences between the two countries are so vast that it takes the main character a boy called Dev a long time to settle, however Dev’s father is determined to make the move to the UK a success, and so the unhappy Dev resorts to telling the pages of his little red book how he feels, a childhood habit which follows him through life.

As the years go by the father’s dream is realised as he establishes a temple, and he is proud of the prominent part his boys play in the day to day life there.

Dev is no longer the withdrawn boy of his youth, he has matured into a charismatic, dynamic man, a priest in the temple, loved by all. He works tirelessly for the rights of those around him, and it is this compassion and strength of character which makes him adored by the both the Asian, and local white community, people and leaders alike.

However Dev is hiding a dark secret from everyone, despite all the trappings of a successful man, a beautiful wife, new cars, designer clothes, he knows in his heart that he cannot deny the man he really is, the man who has grown from that young boy who left Mombasa Island all those years ago…

As the author takes us, through Dev’s experiences, deeper and deeper into the gay and drugs scenes in the seedier side of Leicester, we discover the other world which lives and loves in the shadows, the mafia who supply them, and how even the police officers working their cases have their own demons to face.

I found that this exciting, traumatic, and sometimes thought provoking story had me turning the pages eagerly, desperate to discover what happens next. Full of action from page one, I think that other readers who love a good psychological, murder mystery will absolutely love this engrossing story, after all, admit it, aren’t you just itching to know what Dev wrote in the pages of that little red book?

Cries of Grace

by Angela Beach Silverthorne
Product Details
 This inspiring story begins as Bren graduates as a nurse from university, and returns to The Haven, the wonderful home where she found sanctuary with her now deceased grandmother ‘GG’. This is the sequel to ‘Cries of Innocence’ in which we learnt about Bren’s traumatic childhood, and how, through the teachings of her grandmother, and others, she discovered her faith in God, and that she was a Lighten (warrior of God). I have to say right now that it doesn’t matter of you haven’t read ‘Cries of Innocence,’ this story happily stands alone.
Bren’s graduation is five years after there was horrific demonic activity at The Haven, which caused so much heartbreak. During those years training for her Master’s degree in nursing Bren’s faith in God has remained as strong as ever and she is returning home hoping to be able to help her local community by becoming a midwife, following in the footsteps of her grandmother.It is always difficult returning after a long absence, and Bren discovers that inevitably there have been many changes at The Haven. However, the air is buzzing with activity, the business is busy, and best of all, the man she loves, Joseph is still waiting for her, and planning their future together.

Everything is perfect, and the community is growing in the love of God, however Bren is constantly reminded of her grandmother’s advice to guard her heart and forgive. As her hopes and dreams come true, not only for herself, but for those around her, at the back of her mind she cannot help but stay vigilant, forever watching and on guard, terrified that Satan’s servants may return.

She is also uncomfortably aware that those who live at The Haven were not the only ones in Silverton who were affected by that terrible night five years ago, and she finds herself wondering if it could be true that ‘the sins of the father shall be visited upon the son.’

This is an incredibly inspiring story, Silverton and its inhabitants are just like you and me, they have hopes, fears, problems, worries, and hates, as we do. However, this is a strong Christian community and their belief in the love of God and his son Jesus helps them throughout all their daily life. In this modern, consumer orientated world, so busy and impersonal, often we think only of ourselves, however through Bren, Joseph and the other characters, the author reminds us that others need our help and we can make a difference. As I finished the last page of this wonderful book I was not only in awe of the achievements of its characters, but I felt uplifted by the realisation that He is always with us, and that it only takes a moment to stop and ask God for help or guidance, he is always there, listening…

I highly recommend this wonderful story and can’t wait until early next year when ‘Cries of Mercy’ will be released.

Lure of Soma: Harappa 1

by Shankar Kashyap
Product Details
The author’s vast knowledge of Hindu history and literature makes this enthralling novel set in the third millennium BCE fascinating reading. Indeed although a work of fiction, the story is based around real life characters and events which took place in the Near East, and Middle East at that time.
The Harappan (or Indus Valley) Civilization was the biggest empire of the time. Its lands stretched from the river Indus and Hindu Kush Mountains in the west, to the Ganges Yamuna doab in the east, the Himalayas in the north and the Arabian Sea in the south.The story is told by the main character Upashantha (Upaas), who is a trainee physician and the son of Angirasa, the chief architect who designed the beautiful city of Harappa, known as the City of Gold.

Through Upaas’s eyes, and the author’s wonderfully descriptive writing, we find ourselves transported back through time to this golden era in Harappan history.

The Harappans live well, are prosperous, safe, protected, and welcome visitors and merchants keen to trade with them. However, for others life is not so fortunate, in Ariana the nine rivers have dried up, the people are suffering, and the crops are failing. Matriya, has had to watch his family and those around him struggle and is angry, and so after failing to persuade the Elders of Sistan to use their magical powers to change the course of the river Sindu (Indus), a resentful and unhappy Matriya decides to take fate into his own hands.

Eventually, after much studying under a yogi who knows how to control nature, Matriya learns the necessary powers himself, however, although he wants to move the course of the mighty Sindu river so his people’s lands are fertile again, he also has an ulterior motive, he is doing it for selfish reasons, he seeks glory for himself.

As this story unfolds Upaas finds himself called upon to help the Elders of the Council and Sages of Harappa, and is sent down perilous paths to save the City of Gold from war, and the spell of the rogue Magus.

I was fascinated by the magical Soma plant which was revered as a God by the Harappan civilization, and grown in a secret location known only to a few. Its magical powers are as vital to the Magus, and the Harappa people in this story, as they were at the time.

This is a great action packed adventure which is laced with magic and sorcery, and am looking forward to reading the second in this trilogy, Harappa 2: Fall of Shuruppak.

The Treebobs and the Dizzy Broomsticks

by Declan Harney
When the peacefulness of the Treebobs and fairies home, the Treebob tree, is shattered by the sounds of sawing and cackling laughter, Treebob Bluebell, and two fairies, Bindweed Belle and Foxglove Philip decide that they will have to go and find out what is happening.
Nothing could have prepared them for the sight which meets their eyes! The two wicked witches Rotten Rena and Badlot Barbara are standing in the forest twirling their wands, and magically making giant saws fly through the air, cutting down the branches on the forests lovely trees!But why are they doing it?

Well, it’s not until posters start being put up, that the woodland dwellers discover to their dismay that the wicked pair of witches are opening a broomstick shop!

Well, Rotten Rena and Badlot Barbara are very happy, the business is a flying success, witches come from far and wide, eager to buy their brooms, they are making lots of gold. However, whilst the witches are gleefully looking to the future, the woodland folk are in despair, their beautiful forest is no longer peaceful, the trees are being cut down, and the air is filled with raucous laughter and cackling, as the witches zoom around trying out brooms.

Something has to be done! So, safe in the sanctuary of the Treebob tree, the Treebobs, fairies, and woodland dwellers call a meeting. Babs Broomsticks must fail! But, how can they make this happen?

A plan is formed, and the spell is made, it takes heaps of teamwork, a huge measure of enthusiasm, a big dose of cleverness, a bundle of cooperation, a drop of determination, topped off with a big sprinkle of magic, but will it work?

To find out what the spell is, and if it worked, you will have to read this very entertaining and beautifully written story.

Full of magical Treebobs, lovely fairies, wicked witches, and woodland folk, this enchanting tale totally captured the heart and imagination of my little granddaughter. As I read it she eagerly turned the pages, she just couldn’t wait to hear what was coming next, and see the beautiful illustrations.

As a mother and grandmother I liked the fact that the author has used The Treebobs and the Dizzy Broomsticks to teach young readers important messages of harmony, thoughtfulness, friendship, and teamwork.

In the back there is also the added bonus’ of Rotten Rena’s Squashed Eyed Pie (one I’m definitely going to have to try with my granddaughter), and some games to play.

 

Real Life: Construction Management Guide from A-Z

by Jamil Soucar
 The ‘real life’ guide to working as a Construction Manager.
This very informative book has been written as a ‘real life’ guide for Construction Managers, and those who are considering undertaking the job. It not only offers guidelines for practices, but also looks into the very real, and present human element which is part of any project, including personalities, politics and agendas, and explains how these things can cause incredible challenges to a project, and how to overcome them.
As early as the 1960’s it became apparent that guidelines for the construction industry were necessary, eventually ‘the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) was formed and incorporated in 1982. CMAA provides a unified voice for the construction management industry in those areas where collective representation and action as an association are the best method of achieving common goals.’
Written from personal experience, the author takes the reader through the work which is expected of a Construction Manager, both in the private and public sector. His knowledge of the industry and with clients, has enabled the author to not only explain in a detailed yet easily understood way the necessary processes right through from the initial planning stage, to design, construction, and eventually the finalisation and the close out phase of a project. He has included useful examples, and also, because of his personal involvement in the industry he has thoughtfully included ‘Real Life Gauge’s’ and ‘Best Practices Tips’ into the chapters, giving the reader those all-important little pieces of know-how, which, before this book, only experience could teach you.
Having explained that the role of the Construction Manager is to ensure that all the different people, and artisans involved in a project work together as a team, he emphasises that above all, the manager job is to be the owner’s, or public entities, representative, and that however different the relationship with these clients may be, fundamentally the three most important elements of ANY project are the same, cost, control, and quality.
The author also examines the reasons behind engaging a Construction Manager, both for private and public projects. The responsibilities and liabilities which are part of the job are looked at, as is the importance of getting things right, and always keeping accurate records. At the end of the book dealing with claims and disputes is dealt with as well.
This book is a compact, yet comprehensive, invaluable guide, not only for anyone contemplating a career in the industry, but also for those who are considering undertaking a construction project.
Real Life: Construction Management Guide from A-Z is available from Amazon in Hardcover