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March 2019
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Best value MAPS of FRANCE, and keeping the children amused

Manish’s Zodiac Predictions for December

Sagittarius (22 November – 21 December ) – This is a good time for social, commercial, automotive, and community outreach projects involving your friends and colleagues. It’s time for you to laugh, live and love with reckless abandon. Allow yourself the freedom to slack off from any demanding pursuits and instead choose the more pleasurable options.Boost your sense of self-worth by exercising and getting physically healthy. You will be granted many opportunities this month especially, to correct any past mistakes and to redefine the path that you are on. You will be able to make graceful transition in any area of your life where you feel the energy is not working for you. Favorable Dates : Dec 4, 6, 13, 15, 22, 24 Favorable Colors : Yellow & White

Capricorn ( 22 December–19 January ) – You are in a rare and delightful position on your path. You currently are in a zenith, capable of seeing the long trail you have skilfully climbed. You are also able to turn and see, with a beautiful, crystal clear vision, the glorious road ahead.In all your relationships, you are being given a chance to reconnect and deepen the connection with those who mean the most to your heart.Spark your inner flames and spread the loving light. Whatever love seems lost to you is not that far away. It can be rekindled with care and thoughtfulness. Favorable Dates : Dec 2, 3, 11, 12, 20, 21  Favorable Colors : White &  Blue..

Aquarius ( 20 January – 18 February ) – You would be strong, sleek, and graceful. You would remain keenly alert and  pay attention. You are able to focus on what you want and chase it down. You will also have an uncanny ability to be the most sensually attractive when you are not even trying. When you are passionately pursuing that which feeds your deepest self, you will exude an extraordinary charisma to others. Being humble about where you are on your path will allow you to honour your achievements and laugh at your faults and failures. Bringing life down to the basics can open you up to a wider scope of possibility. Favorable Dates : Dec 2, 3, 11, 12, 24, 27 Favorable Colors : White & Red

Pisces ( 19 February – 20 March ) – You are working overtime in your mind and in your physical world. You are not getting much of a break regardless of where you turn. Hang in there. Life can get the most hectic when you are just about to reach your achievements. With your persistence, you may uncover a deeply hidden secret talent or ability you were not privy to beforeSome of the contacts you make will change your life in the best of ways.Your environment and appearance is exceptionally important right now. Be sure, this month, to tie up any loose ends. Favorable Dates : Dec 4, 8, 13, 17, 22, 26 Favorable Colors : White & Purple


Aries ( 21 March–19 April ) – This month gives you a boost of creativity at the beginning particularly in the arts. However, it indicates a good time to get ambitious, it’s not time to sit on your plans but put them into action. It indicates the opportunity of a new position in your career or a job change completely. Put your focus on building your business or moving ahead with your job. Mid-month will be spent with a lot of money going out the window, not on yourself and it may not even be on the bills but family, friends and co-workers. Favorable Dates : Dec 1, 2, 10, 11, 19, 20 Favorable Colors : Red & Green

Taurus ( 20 April–20 May ) – You will be able to make your dreams real as your ideas are ready to be turned into something tangible. Figure out what will work and make it a reality. You can now attract all the wealth you need to get your projects going.Universe will work in accord with plans and ideas in the future that you dream of today. This monthindicates a strengthening of love relationships! Focus on improving your love life and being open with your partner during this time.Now is the time to recuperate and create healthier connections.FavorableDates : Dec 1, 9, 10, 18, 19, 27 Favorable Colors : Red & Blue

Gemini ( 21 May–20 June )– This is a time of things being up in the air and a quick change in direction. It is all about manifesting your desires and really going after what you want even if you must force your needs into manifestation.It’s also a time to really market yourself as people will be more receptive to hearing what you have to say. A seed of emotional awareness has been planted in your life although you may not yet recognize it. When the seed sprouts, it could take almost any form. It might be an attraction, strong feeling, intuitive knowing, or sympathetic reaction. Favorable Dates : Dec 2, 5, 11, 14, 20, 23  Favorable Colors : Blue & White

Cancer ( 21 June – 22 July ) – Your creativity and wit will be at an all time high, you will be able to be centre of attention without being obnoxious and, people will gravitate towards you to help with possible future projects Now is the time to listen with your heart rather than your head.  Whatever your choice is, it will pay off in the end, so be secure in your decisions.This is the time to set boundaries and lay down the law in terms of relationships whether they be with family or friend. Take time out for yourself and think, allow yourself to be emotional and refuse to be reserved. Favorable Dates : Dec 5, 6, 14, 15, 23, 24 Favorable Colors : Red & White

Leo ( 23 July – 22 August ) – A new project will bring about a strong motivation for success. Push forward it’s coming your way, and  you may end up putting more in than you expected in the beginning, but it is well worth it.Your relationships may be exasperated and fidelity maybe tested by the middle of the month.  Have patience and you will persevere, it is just a phase. Be careful not to get to timid in difficult situations, stand up and use your voice. Better to decide and be in control in this matter than to let go and make Universe force the choice. Favorable Dates : Dec 2, 7, 11, 16, 20, 25 Favorable Colors : Red & White

Virgo ( 23 August–22 September ) – Now is a time to actively imagine and dream of your future.Now is the time to make your wishes and get them realised. Go for it, Universe is with you. A positive business agreement or partnership is on the horizon.Time management is going to be essential for you at this time, You will be clearheaded enough during this time to be able to break up your time without letting your brain make mountains out of small tasks.It is tImeto get back on track, get off your bum and move ahead with your own plans. Favorable Dates : Dec 1, 2, 10, 11, 19, 20 Favorable Colors : Red & Yellow

Libra ( 23 September–22 October ) – You may end up having a little bit of a nesting period.  Right now your focus should be on organization and bringing order to an otherwise chaotic world.Bring yourself back to centre through meditation and introversion and help to propel yourself ahead by gaining spiritual ground rather than focusing on the material.good.  Luck in love and relationships is there. This is a great time for an engagement or marriage, for those already wed it is a wonderful time to have that second or third honeymoon. Favorable Dates : Dec 4, 7, 13, 16, 22, 25  Favorable Colors : Yellow & Orange

Scorpio ( 23 October – 21 November )–There is possibility of progress in the area of deep feelings, intimacy, attainment, compassion and love. A seed of emotional awareness has been planted in your life although you may not yet recognize it. When the seed sprouts, it could take almost any form. It might be an attraction, strong feeling, intuitive knowing, or sympathetic reaction.Now is the time to get back to spirituality and become grounded in the laws of Universe.Expect unexpected luck in romance. There is a thrilling invitation or a chance for reconciliation. Favorable Dates : Dec 3, 7, 12, 16, 21, 25 Favorable Colors : Yellow &Blue



Switzerland shares information on two million financial accounts

by Rob Kay, Blevins Franks

The era of financial privacy is now well and truly over.  Switzerland, once the bastion of banking secrecy, has begun automatically exchanging information on financial accounts owned by non-residents.

This was a landmark moment in the history of international banking and cross-border tax planning.  Although we have known this was going to happen for a few years, it still feels a little unbelievable considering it does not seem that long ago that Switzerland was insisting it would not give up its prized secrecy laws.

In October 2018, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) confirmed that it had handed over details on accounts held at 7,000 Swiss banks, trusts, insurers and other financial institutions.

The information was passed on to tax authorities in EU countries as well as Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Iceland, Norway, Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea.

In a statement, the Swiss tax administration said:

Identification, account and financial information is exchanged, including name, address, state of residence and tax identification number, as well as information concerning the reporting financial institution, account balance and capital income.”

It added:

The exchanged information allows the [local] tax authorities to verify whether taxpayers have correctly declared their financial accounts abroad in their tax returns.”

The FTA explained that transmission of data to France and Australia was delayed due to technical reasons, while Cyprus and Romania are currently excluded because they do not yet meet the international requirements on confidentiality and data security.

It did not provide information on the value of the accounts concerned.

This exchange of information takes place under the Common Reporting Standard, which applies Automatic Exchange of Information around the world.

The data exchange occurred at the end of September, with financial information relating to 2017.

This will be repeated on an annual basis.    It expands next year to around 80 partner states. In all, over a hundred jurisdictions have committed to automatic exchange of information so far, with another 42 developing countries in the pipeline.

Switzerland was under international pressure for years to stop allowing people to use its banks to hide funds away from the tax authorities.  It slowly made various concessions, but stopped short of automatic disclosure.

Until now, Switzerland would only provide data on request, from countries it had signed double tax treaties with.  But it would not allow “fishing expeditions”, and the requesting authority had to provide evidence that a specific account holder was most likely evading tax.

In 2013 US prosecutors began attacking Swiss banks for helping American clients evade US taxes.  It opened a programme where banks could avoid harsher penalties by agreeing to pay a fine.  Credit Suisse Group AG alone paid $2.6 billion. Wegelin & Co., a 272- year old Swiss bank, was forced to close as a result.

Then in February 2014, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), working with the G20, presented its new standard on automatic exchange of information – the Common Reporting Standard was born.

A couple of months later, in May 2014, all OECD countries signed a declaration committing to automatic exchange of information between jurisdictions – a breakthrough moment – and Switzerland was one of the signatories.   And it has now made its first exchange.

This is not the total end of Swiss banking secrecy. It remains in place for Swiss taxpayers – the Federal Tax Administration does not automatically receive any information on accounts owned by its Swiss citizens.  But for everyone else, we are now in a very different era.

We can expect the tax authorities here in France to use the information they receive from not only Switzerland, but the many jurisdictions around the world collecting data under the Automatic Exchange of Information agreement, to their advantage.  They can compare it to the information the taxpayer has provided on their income tax and, where relevant, wealth tax returns.

Any resulting tax investigations, however innocently the omissions may have occurred, could prove very costly by the time the back tax, interest and any penalties are paid, not to mention very stressful.

So, if you have not already done so, you need to carefully review your tax planning, the way you hold your assets and what you declare and where, to make sure you are paying tax in the right country and the arrangements you use to hold assets are fully compliant.  When you are resident in one country and have assets and/or earn income in another, you have to follow the relevant double tax treaty carefully to establish where you should be declaring the income and where you should be paying tax.

Tax planning remains alive and well.  You can often use tax-complaint arrangements in France and the UK to lower tax liabilities, particularly on your capital investments. Take personalised, specialist advice.

You can find other financial advisory articles by visiting our website here


Living in France – Manish’s Zodiac Predictions for November

Scorpio (23 October – 21 November ) – It’s not a time for pushing your personal agenda – it’s a time for learning about the needs and concerns of others. Something may touch you or inspire you through your interactions with others. You can be especially cooperative and open with someone, and this is returned. Turn on the charm.You are not in the mood for competitive, stressful situations now. Take a step back from pushing projects forward, if only to get perspective. Emotional eruptions are possible. Not a good time to make permanent decisions, particularly about relationships and domestic matters. Favorable Dates : Nov 1, 9, 10, 18, 19, 18 Favorable Colors : Yellow & Blue

Sagittarius (22 November -21 December) – This is generally a good time for social pursuits, group projects, trying something new, joining a group, and networking. A change of pace refreshes your mindset. Hobbies, clubs and groups may demand attention now. It is time to build networks and cooperate. It’s a strong time for tapping into your imagination, as well as to draw on your past experiences in order to create something stirring.  You might learn something about a partner or a friend that raises your respect levels further. Share personal philosophies and perspectives and enjoy the connection you feel to you and to the world as you do.Favorable Dates : Nov 1, 2, 10, 11, 19, 20 Favorable Colors : Red & Blue

Capricorn (22 December – 19 January) – You would be highly imaginative and may have an active dream life, which gives you a deep understanding of the spiritual side of life. You would be easily able to sense other people’s moods and lend an empathetic ear.You will express yourself in an affectionate manner and enjoy the company of other people. You and your partner might enjoy more emotional intensity and passion now. If you are not involved, a former love relationship may be renewed, or deep feelings are stirred when you recall memories  of a past love attachment. Alternatively, your passion can be channelled into a project.Favorable Dates : Nov 2, 5, 11, 14, 20, 23 Favorable Colors : Red & Green

Aquarius (20 January – 18 February) – You can derive a nice feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment from tending to your responsibilities, work, or other commitment. You are more able to make sacrifices or put your emotions aside in order to get something important done. Alternatively, you can bring more sensitivity to your practical affairs. You will also show an intense need for relationships. Connections you develop now set the stage for future opportunities. Unexpected changes will lead you to new friends or business partners. You can express your feelings for one another in non-verbal supportive ways more effectively now than with wordsFavorable Dates : Nov 3, 7, 12, 16, 21, 25 Favorable Colors : Blue & White

Pisces (19 February – 20 March) – A good time for dealing with the public, for making connections, and for taking positive steps towards a personal or professional goal. You are able to make positive changes. You will pursue your personal desires in a responsible and methodical manner.This is a feel-good time for embracing new opportunities.You will have a talent for seeing the beauty in your loved ones and helping them heal their psychological wounds and realise their full potential. You will want to know your partner’s innermost thoughts and yet you may have a tendency to secrecy.  Favorable Dates : Nov 3, 5, 12, 14, 21, 23 Favorable Colors : Green & White

Aries ( 21 March – 19 April ) – You will pursue your personal desires in a responsible and methodical manner. You have strong ambitions, and may be domineering if threatened. Beautiful energy is with you for feeling in sync with people around you and with your environment. Strategy works with both your practical and personal affairs. You are drawn to others who are idealistic, spirited, and independent at this time, likely because you long to feel free and uninhibited. You will be able to express your power in a positive manner. You will also have the opportunity to renew your vitality when necessary. Favorable Dates : Nov 1, 4, 10, 22, 19, 22 Favorable Colors : Yellow & Red

Taurus ( 20 April – 20 May ) – This is a pleasing period for love and business matters. Someone can be amorous and showing definite interest and sincere concern for your needs. By extension, you are displaying a quiet confidence that endears others to you. You feel pleasantly effective, competent, and ambitious. There is more optimism in your exchanges and interactions. You will feel cared for when you are allowed space to explore and reach for your goals.  Stay active and involved now for best results.This can be a good time to commit fully to something – especially health and healing matters. Favorable Dates : Nov 4, 9, 13, 27, 22, 27 Favorable Colors : Grey & Red

Gemini ( 21 May – 20 June ) – You feel secure with intellect rather than emotions. You may be aloof from emotions, or distrust emotions as irrational and unpredictable. There is good energy with you now for special invites, coming to agreements, and inner wellness. Special insight into a work matter or method can come to you like a mini eureka. You may be focusing on activities that improve the balance and warmth of your living and working environments. Complicated problems seem to be easier to understand when you allow your intuition to work for you.Favorable Dates : Nov 2, 3, 11, 21, 20, 21 Favorable Colors : Green & White

Cancer ( 21 June – 22 July ) – You are at your most attractive right now when you let things unfold naturally and display patience. Someone may communicate romantic interest in a subtle manner. You are strong when it comes to negotiations, mutual agreements, and business decisions. Helping someone out, offering sincere and mindful advice, being a source of comfort, and inspiring others with your insight can figure strongly now, and can also lift your spirits. Your health may be closely linked to your home environment. Any disruptions in the home may spark bouts of ill health.Favorable Dates : Nov 4, 7, 13, 25, 22, 25 Favorable Colors : Red & White

Leo  ( 23 July – 22 August ) –  There can be a stronger appreciation of the intangibles in life right now, and letting go of something in order to embrace the new comes a little easier as a result. You are tuned into the more subtle or other worldly elements of life right now, and thus your understanding of others, yourself, and your purpose can increase. Communication, mental pursuits and interests, romance, and work are all in good shape right now. You can be both productive and sociable and get away with both. You have visions and enjoy the adventure of discovery in your work.Favorable Dates : Nov 2, 7, 11, 25, 20, 25 Favorable Colors : Blue & Green

Virgo (23 August – 22 September ) –You  have a talent for making decisions based on both your heart and mind.  It’s a good time to tap into your intuition, as well as for connecting or coming to an agreement with an important player in your life. Thinking about matters of the past can actually be quite productive now. You are communicating your needs in effective ways, and life seems a little easier as a result.You are able to communicate your thoughts and feelings with ease. Past good deeds may be rewarded. It’s a powerful period for getting in touch with your innermost desires.Favorable Dates : Nov 2, 5, 11, 23, 20, 23 Favorable Colors : Red & White

Libra (23 September – 22 October) – This is a potentially strong time for personal appeal and magnetism, particularly when you are in a serving or helping mode. Love is easily attracted and expressed and  you are sociable and receptive now.Although others can be drawn to you, resist the temptation to fib in order to keep up others’ ideals or misconceptions. You would be easily swayed by images, feelings, and ideals rather than common sense, so that practical matters and work may suffer. However, if you can bring some imagination into the mix, you’re likely to enjoy yourself and contribute more. Favorable Dates : Nov 2, 6, 11, 24, 20, 24 Favorable Colors : Red & Purple













Living in France – October & November in the Garden

Living in France

Top Chalet Deals for the coming Winter – Living in France

Plan your 2018/19 Ski Holiday with Ski Total. Save even more with our top ski chalet holiday deals! 7 nights from £599pp, inc. flights, transfers and catered chalet. Find your dream holiday at an incredible price with Ski Total.

Lift Pass Offer Ski Deals
Buy One Get One Free adult lift passes: 9th and 16th December 2018.
Buy One Get One Half adult lift passes: 13th and 27th January, 3rd of February and the 10th and 24th of March 2019.

Chalets With Hot Tub Ski Deals
Catered chalet holidays with jacuzzi / hot tubs / whirlpool baths. Find a selection of our chalets and chalet hotels that have a hot tub or whirlpool spa bath. Perfect for resting those aching muscles after a day on the slopes!

Christmas 2018 Ski Deals
Find the lastest Christmas deals on our website. All Ski Total holidays include flights, transfers, accommodation, chalet catering, complimentary wine and excellent caring staff to see to your every need.

With snow on the horizon – is now the perfect time to buy property in Chamonix?

                                                                                                                      Living in France

Living in France – Knight Frank’s new Ski Property Report 2018-19 has provided an encouraging snapshot of the French market’s performance in the year to June 2018. None of the French resorts that the company monitors recorded a decline in prices over the year, with Val d’Isère and Chamonix recording the healthiest rises, of 3.0% and 2.3% respectively.

The uptick in prices makes now the ideal time to buy in Chamonix, according to specialist French property agents FrenchEntrée.

“We’re seeing some lovely new Chamonix properties come onto the market at the moment, and our expectation is that prices in the area should continue rising over the next year or two at least. Chamonix has some excellent investments in the pipeline, which should serve to drive up property prices in the coming years and ensure it keeps its place as one of the most attractive regions of the Alps.”    Alistair Lockhart, Property Director,

Chamonix’s future plans include a new lift at Grand Montets and 10-seater gondola at Flegere and a renovated lift station at Le Tour. The upgrades are part of a €477 million, 40-year investment plan, which – according to Knight Frank – means the resort is well positioned in terms of potential property price rises.

“Knight Frank’s Ski Property Index has confirmed the link between a resort’s investment in its infrastructure (ski lifts, hotels, spas, non-ski activities etc) and its property market’s performance.”   Ski Property Report 2018-19, Knight Frank

Those buying second homes in Chamonix not only have an idyllic ski resort on their doorstep, they also have excellent income potential as a result of their purchase. During the high season, a four-bedroom chalet in Chamonix can command a rental income of €4,600 per week, with occupancy averaging 90-100%. In low season, occupancy of 60% is realistic.

“As confirmed by the latest Knight Frank ski report, Northern Europeans – in particular those from Scandinavia and the Benelux countries – are showing growing interest in skiing in the Alps. This is against a background of an improving French economy, making now a particularly interesting time for buyers to look closely at Chamonix’s property market.”

New to the market is Chalet les Nants. Just a 10-minute walk from the centre of Chamonix, and at the extremely reasonable price of €1.8 million, the four-bedroom chalet is spread over three floors and offers a magnificent family home, including an open-fire, a large, south facing terrace with hot tub and views of Mont Blanc.

A 10-minute drive from Chamonix, at the lovely family resort of Les Houches, prices are even more reasonable. Chalet Lothiercosts just €1.245 million. The large, light-filled chalet includes four bedrooms, living room with open fire place, pool room and cinema room. The decent-sized garden and balconies provide plenty of space for enjoying the spectacular mountain views.

Of course, Chamonix prices aren’t for everyone. Thankfully, there are other areas of the French Alps that have excellent potential, for more affordable prices.

“The area around Lake Geneva is home to some superb ski properties, with stunning views and easy access to a host of facilities. The presence of the lake, and its associated activities, means that those properties also have excellent dual-season appeal. The up and coming resort of Bourg St Maurice is also well worth investigating, as it has great potential both in terms of future property price increases and rental appeal.”

Homes by Lake Geneva can be picked up for well under €1 million. Just five minutes from the centre of Evian, a captivating, three-bedroom chaletboasts superb lake views and is on the market for just €795,000. Over in Bourg St Maurice, a beautiful, centrally located, four-bedroom apartmentcan be picked up for as little as €520,000.

For further information, contact FrenchEntrée on +44 (0)1225 463752 or You can also visit https://www.frenchentree.comproperty-for-sale/.

Living in France

Ripe for reform?

By St James’ Wealth Management    26 October 2018

Inheritance Tax rules could be carved up in the upcoming Budget.

While more forecasts will be provided by the Office for Budget Responsibility on Monday, the government appears to have made some progress towards its goal of bringing down the deficit, through spending restraint and rising tax revenues. Yet the improving picture may not deter the chancellor from hunting down further savings, as he seeks to raise money to meet spending commitments made by the prime minister at the Tory party conference.

Inheritance Tax (IHT) is one area that could see reform. Though the tax is only paid by 4% of estates, the amount it collects is rising sharply, hitting £5.3 billion in 2017/181, and the rules governing it are fiendishly complicated. Indeed, the IHT regime is strewn with an assortment of misunderstood rules, resulting in taxpayers exposing their estates to a larger IHT bill than necessary.

Even the chancellor admits IHT is “particularly complex”. Earlier this year, he commissioned the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), which gives independent advice to the government, to review IHT and report back with any proposals “to ensure that the system is fit for purpose and makes the experience of those who interact with it as smooth as possible”.

The chancellor’s letter also singled out the current gifting rules and how they relate to the wider IHT system. The rules on IHT exemptions for smaller amounts have not changed for more than 30 years; you can still only pass on £3,000 a year free of IHT, or £6,000 if you carry over last year’s unused exemption as well. You can also make regular gifts out of your income, and these are also exempt from IHT, so long as you can demonstrate they do not affect your standard of living.

It has been suggested an annual single gifting allowance of £10,000 would be both simpler and fairer. However, the chancellor needs to raise money, and hiking the gifting allowance will not help him do that.

Fall guy

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has suggested that the way pensions are taxed on death is one area the government could seek to reform. Pension pots are currently outside the scope of IHT, and whoever inherits one is only liable for Income Tax when they withdraw the money. However, if the pension saver dies before age 75, an exception is made and there is no tax liability on the money withdrawn.

“Removing the IHT and Income Tax exemptions for inherited pension wealth would stop unfairly favouring those who inherit pension wealth rather than other forms of wealth”, says the IFS.

However, it is highly unlikely that the Chancellor will touch this. Not only is the current system very popular with pension savers, but it is also having a positive impact on the way people view saving for retirement. Moreover, the chancellor would almost certainly receive significant opposition from his party if he reversed the rules on inherited pensions.

So where else could he look? Perhaps he could be persuaded to change the rules on Capital Gains Tax (CGT) in relation to inheritances. Currently, when someone passes away, the CGT liability on any increase in the value of assets prior to death effectively dies with them. According to the IFS, this encourages people to hold on to assets that have risen in value, even if they would prefer to sell them and use the proceeds in some other way. It has therefore proposed that this relief is scrapped.

In December 2012, the government estimated that the relief cost it £490 million, though it has declined to publish an estimate since then on the grounds that the cost “cannot be reliably estimated” from existing data.2

Trick or treat?

While it’s impossible to know in advance what the Budget will bring, the OTS consultation has been concluded and a report is expected to be published shortly. Whether its recommendations form part of Hammond’s Budget considerations remains to be seen.  However, it will be interesting to see what the OTS proposes, and whether the chancellor takes any action as a result.

As always, Westminster is rife with rumours and speculation.

The levels and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time and are dependent on individual circumstances.

Cooking and Living in France – Wild Boar Sausage, mushroom and kalette pasta

Living in France

By Caroline Barty

Serves: 4 – Time: 35 min

This is pretty much the perfect midweek supper dish.

Quick, easy and immensely comforting. I make this with the delicious seasonal wild boar and garlic sausages but choose your favourite banger-the best quality you can afford please. Chestnut flour pasta is a current obsession-it has a bite and nuttiness which is perfect for this dish. This variety is ordered from


•    200g kalettes, trimmed

•    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

•    2 echalion shallots, peeled and finely chopped

•    6 large sausages, see intro

•    170g button chestnut mushrooms, brushed clean

•    200g dried penne pasta (see intro)

•    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

•    150ml chicken stock

•    1 tablespoon finely chopped sage leaves

•    100ml double cream


1.     Blanch the kalettes in lightly salted boiling water for 2 minutes then drain well and set aside. Fill the saucepan with salted water and bring to the boil for the pasta later.

2.     Heat the oil in a large frying pan or sauté pan and add the shallots. Stir over a low heat for 8-10 minutes until soft. Remove the skins from the sausages and tear the sausage meat into chunks. Add the chunks to the frying pan and turn the heat up a little. Fry, stirring regularly to brown the sausage pieces evenly, for about 10 minutes until the sausage meat is golden brown and almost cooked through. Stir in the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes.

3.     At this point start to cook your pasta according to the packet instructions. Stir the mustard, stock and sage into the sausage pan and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cream and kalettes and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

4.     Drain the pasta when it is cooked and tip into the frying pan. Stir a couple of times and serve immediately.

More superb recipes from

Fulcanelli, the cathedral and the alchemists . . . an extract

It was widely thought that alchemy had been finished off by the Enlightenment and the appearance of modern science in the 18th century until an intriguing pseudonymous book appeared in Paris in 1926. The Mystery of the Cathedrals was written by one “Fulcanelli”, who described himself as a practising alchemist. He claimed that the great Gothic cathedrals of northern France are not what they appear to be. They are only superficially Christian. Really, we should seem them as giant “books in stone” built to last for generations.  If we read them correctly we can learn about the secret craft of alchemy.

The book reawakened an interest in alchemy and the debate continues today as to whether it is the route to wisdom or an elaborate pretence.

Who was Fulcanelli, and did he know something the rest of us don’t know? Fulcanelli’s pupil, Eugene Canseliet, claimed that his master had completed the Great Work and found the key to immortality.

The scientist and writer Jacques Bergier claims in a book called The Morning of the Magiciansto have been visited by Fulcanelli himself in a laboratory of the Gas Board in Paris in June 1937. Fulcanelli, he says, wanted to tell him that the alchemists had know about the discoveries in atomic physics that were about to be made for a very long time and that humanity should take great care with the technologies it was about to unleash.

Canseliet later reported that he met Fulcanelli in Seville, in 1953, looking in good health even though he would have to have been 113 years old.

Extract from Mystical France by Nick Inman – Travel guides to France & Spain

Published by Findhorn Press/Inner Traditions

Available from Amazon:

The future of office working, cities and sitting 

​by Richard Pickering


Disruptive business models in the real estate sector are highlighting the potential to leverage property assets to create other revenue streams. WeWork has been particularly adept at transforming ‘tenants’ into ‘members’. Tenants pay rent, but members it seems are open to buying a much wider collection of services and develop loyalty and stickiness to their ‘community’.

A recent example of this is WeWork’s WeMRKT concept, kicked off over the summer in Hudson Street, Manhattan. Any WeWork member can pitch to have their product promoted in the store. For successful members this provides a new distribution channel for their products, focussed on a targeted member demographic, together with brand and marketing support. For WeWork, they take a skim off the revenue, turning them essentially into the retail arm of their membership.

They have plans to open 500 similar concept stores over the next two years, together with an online channel. Space is a vehicle to engineer choices. Its strength comes in its finite nature, which, when compared with the vast expanses of the internet, constrains customer options. In the process this adds value to the products which make the cut, and to the property owner who can offer that opportunity.

Smart cities and smart decisions

Data is playing an increasingly central role in real estate; from how we choose where to locate a shop, how we make investment decisions, and how we design buildings. With tech players like Sidewalk Labs entering the sphere of city development, this is only likely to increase. However, with this comes questions of ownership and privacy.

One might have thought that Google’s sibling company Sidewalk Labs would want to gain an edge in their Toronto scheme through keeping their data proprietary. This could for instance give them unique metrics on how people interact with real estate and move through the city, which could be capable of monetisation. However, in a bid to address trust issues, Sidewalk Labs announced this week that it is giving up the IP in any data collected through the scheme to a third-party agency ‘Civic Data Trust’ and making all of the systems run on open standards ‘to prevent vendor lock-in’.

We live in an age where disquiet is mounting on how personal data is used. Whether you know it or not, you probably already give up your live location data (from which one can easily infer where you live) through the apps on your phone.  As with many areas of technology, data is one where innovation is running ahead of governance. It is encouraging to see market leaders like Sidewalk Labs taking the ethical high ground on this issue.

Stand up to sitting down

The first purpose-built office in the UK was built in 1729 to house the East India Company. It marked a change in how we work, as orderly rows of desks and offices accommodated the birth of the corporate era.

For many years, and in spite of significant societal shifts, the look and feel of the office has not changed much. Most people still sit at a desk to complete the vast majority of their tasks. However, questions have begun to emerge around the health and productivity implications around spending such a large portion of your life in a sedentary position.

Such is the nature of office-bound work, that last year the University of Edinburgh published a report that found that middle aged Scots spend more hours per week sitting down than pensioners do. An experiment published in British Medical Journal last week sought to prove the effectiveness of implementing a ‘SMArT Work’ (‘Stand More at Work’) intervention. The study involved 146 NHS workers, 77 of which were given a height adjustable work station.

Predictably, by the end of the experiment, those with standing desks were sedentary 83 minutes less per day than those with a desk. A significant proportion found that this created benefits, in that they were less tired, less anxious, felt more engaged throughout the day and there was a reduced incidence of musculoskeletal issues. With the evidence building in favour of standing work-stations, how long will we continue to fit out offices with traditional seated furniture as standard?