Monthly Archives: September 2014

Electric Cars in Basingstoke

It was announced in September 2014 that Basingstoke Council would be installing the town’s first public charging point for electric cars sometime before the end of the year. Due to be located in the Central Car park on Red Lion Lane, the rapid charger will allow for owners of electric cars to pull in and get a quick re-charge of the batteries whilst out and about around town.

By: Adam Haranghy

So, does this new move mean that we’re on the verge of a wave of petrol-free vehicles emerging onto the streets of Basingstoke?

Well, in the short term it seems unlikely – if similar schemes in other cities and towns are anything to go by. An article in the Guardian in May 2014 reported that the charging point installed in Irlam, Manchester in 2013 had been used only once in twelve months. Those Basingstoke locals who are in possession of an electric car, it would seem, might not be faced with a long queue to get charged up then.

However, this might be a somewhat misleading factor.

Whilst it’s true that electric car ownership remains low, in fact the UK has one of the lowest numbers in Europe, one of the reasons for this low uptake has been the lack of charging points in public areas. Most electric cars on the market claim a range of 60-100 miles before requiring a re-charge, although once you factor in the use of heating / air conditioning or listening to the radio as you drive, this could be as low as 50 miles. Which means that many a journey can descend into fretfulness as the miles rack up.

With councils such as Basingstoke installing new charging points it could, stressing the word could, encourage more to look at the electric option; if only as an around town run-around car.

Indeed, while there are still only 100 public charging points across England and Wales those numbers are rising and accessibility getting greater; Fleet Service station on the M4, Membury Services on the M4 and the Popham Little Chef on the A303 also now having charging points in the region.

So maybe things are changing then?

Whilst the short term view would clearly be that electric cars remain few and far between, there is certainly growing evidence that maybe the longer term outlook will show that electric power will gain greater prevalence on the roads of our towns. With the UK Government offering grants for charging points to local authorities, such as the case in Basingstoke (75% paid for by the Government, 25% by Nissan) and with year on year figures showing an increase in electric car sales in the UK then the trend does seem to indicate that Britain is slowly buying into the idea that these types of vehicle have a viability.

Indeed, recent figures show that there are now over 10,000 electric cars on the road in the UK with sales which represents a huge increase in just a handful of years. And with major, high-end brands such as BMW showcasing their own electric cars with the kind of glossy marketing you’d expect from such a company then the strong likelihood is that these numbers will rise again in the coming months and years.

Electric cars have a certain niche in which they fit; their limited range meaning they will be short journey vehicles. However, for many this is exactly the kind of vehicle they require and there does tend to a zeal to the enthusiasm of many owners.

And, as technology improves the longevity of the batteries and with towns such as Basingstoke leading the way in terms of increased access to power, then maybe the future of city driving will yet feature strong representation from the electric brigade.

A Short History of Bristol Cars

For much of the post-war years of the twentieth century Bristol Cars was a name synonymous with the creation of luxury, hand-crafted and really rather exclusive automobiles in the UK. Cars created of exquisite detail and sleek, opulent design, aimed at the refined end of the motor enthusiast’s spectrum.

By: Tony Hisgett

However, with the dawn of a new century came a decline in the famous old manufacturer. It’s last newly designed car came out of the factory in 2003 and, by 2011 the company had slipped into receivership.

And yet the company lived on; purchased by Frazer-Nash and back on the new design trail with the September 2014 announcement that a new Bristol car, in keeping with its deluxe heritage, will be launched to market in 2015.

Now, while the company is London-based and conglomerate owned, if one is to delve back into its history and origins then you will find links to the city from which the brand owes its name.

Sir George White

To trace the origins of what would become Bristol Cars we can work back to the very beginning of the twentieth century and the entrepreneurial zeal of Sir George White.

Always involved in transportation of one form or another it was White who pioneered the introduction of electric tram systems to towns and cities beyond London. One such city was Bristol, with trams first appearing in the early 1900s and the creation of Bristol Tramways. White also introduced the first taxis to Bristol in the pre-WW1 years although, by this time his attention had turned towards the skies.

He founded the company that would become the Bristol Aeroplane Company (BAC) in 1910, setting up at factory in the Filton area of Bristol, a location that would become integral to the air industry in the UK and continues so to this day.

BAC would be the first UK company to introduce full industrialisation and mass production to the design and building of planes.

World War One was the first war that would have a theatre in the sky and, as such, demand for planes (excusing the pun) soared. Led by White, and his brother Samuel, BAC became a giant manufacturer, employing over 50,000 staff to meet the growing demand.

Post-War Downturn

However, come the end of WW1 in 1918 the demand fell dramatically and had, as you might imagine, a fairly dramatic effect on the business. Faced with this new economic landscape, the company looked to diversify and began to manufacture light automobiles alongside the planes.

With the outbreak of World War Two, the aircraft industry began to boom again. Nevertheless, the company, now run by White’s son Sir Stanley were keen not to be burned a second time come the inevitable post war downturn.

In 1941 Sir Stanley proposed a new division in the company which would focus its attention towards the design and production of cars come the end of war.

By 1945 the idea was fully fledged and work had been ongoing to find an established manufacturer with whom they could either work or take over. This process would eventually take them towards, in sports car producer Frazer-Nash who they took over that year; thus beginning a connection that would live on today.

The company existed within the framework of BAC for a further two years. However, divisions were forming in the organisation which led, in 1947 to the resale of Frazer-Nash. In the aftermath of these divisions and split came the formation of a new company; an independently operated manufacturer of quality designed cars who would carry in its name the legacy of its origins.

And Bristol Cars was born.

 

 

We’re All Going On A Skiing Holiday Part 4 – Family Skiing Holiday Guide

Contrary to first impressions, skiing isn’t just an isolated sport. It’s not just you out there on the mountains – it can actually be a fantastic team sport – and a great weekend getaway for the whole family. The idea of this can seem a bit daunting – after all if you are taking little ones on a skiing holiday there is the potential for tantrums, accidents and many things getting lost. But despite this, they are a still a great way to get active, have fun and bond, and more families are trying out skiing holidays every year.

 

So Why Is Skiing Great For Families?

Whilst it might be a little more work at the outset – a skiing holiday will be something you can all talk about for weeks afterwards. And the best part is – you don’t have to go all out on expensive and glamorous resorts. Snow is snow. The kids adore it (even though it’s a bit cold!) and seeing them go from crawling to walking to flying down the slopes will give you an enormous sense of pride and achievement that will never leave you.

If you’re taking children with you on your skiing holiday, our advice is to always go outside of the school holidays, if you can. You will save a lot of money this way and there will be more room on the slopes – but make sure you get permission from their school before you book anything. You also need to remember that children don’t have as much stamina as adults – s don’t expect them to ski all day. Make sure you stay somewhere with plenty of other activities for them – like a pool, games rooms or a thriving local village to visit. This will cut down on any whinging and keep everyone in a far better mood for the day. Also remember to bring your essentials from home and not rely on them being sold in the resort – and apply some high factor sun block onto the little ones (and you!) every day, no matter what the weather. you’d be amazed how many people come home from skiing holidays burnt.

And if you’re a first time skiing family. pay a little extra and get a family skiing specialist to teach you all. They will understand what your needs are and how to accommodate them long before you do, and this will stop your perfect family holiday from turning into the getaway from hell.

 

What’s The Right Age For Children To Learn To Ski?

To be honest – that’s a decision better left to your own personal judgement. You know better than anyone how physically brave, adventurous and advanced your children are, and you are the best judge of what they can cope with. One 10 year old might be whizzing around within minutes, while another might be shaking at the starting line. It’s all about personality and development, but as a general rule, anything under the age of 5 is a bit of a risk. At the very least – you’re going to have a hard time stopping them from getting bored, cold and grumpy. Instead, if you are taking an under 5 with you to the slopes, treat it as an introduction to snow and winter rather than skiing. And make sure there are a lot of activities to keep them amused! You should also make sure you ask your hotel if they can accommodate or provide the following:

– Nurseries or a crèche

– Ski school classes for children

– An earlier evening meal so they don’t have t wait until the adults eat.

Taking your children on a skiing holiday can be incredibly rewarding and a fantastic bonding experience – but don’t try to run before you can walk. Take it easy and get lessons from trained instructors and you will all have a whale of a time.

We’re All Going On A Skiing Holiday Part 3 – Top 10 Attractions in La Rosière

The region of La Rosière in France is one of the more beautiful and secluded ski resorts in the country. Nestled in the Savoie department and about 1850 metres above sea level, it’s sloped top 2642m at their highest, the south facing peaks give a stunning view of the nearby village of Les Arcs. It’s ski slopes are one of the best kept secrets of France – quiet areas that can cater for absolutely any level of skill, from first time to Olympic level. It’s a beautiful place to ski in the day, but in the evenings it has a new set of gems for you to discover in the villages. We’ve taken the liberty of gathering a few of them together for you. 5 top attractions and 5 top restaurants in La Rosière to help turn your holiday into a fantastic experience.

Top 5 Attractions

1) Dog Sledding – A rare and fantastic opportunity to get involved with an energetic and very rewarding sport. This unique activity can be found in Les Eucherts, and you can chose from a 20 minute starter sessions as a passenger to a 3 hour course where you mush the dogs yourself. An absolutely unmissable experience.

2) Snow Kiting – Similar to kite surfing, snow kiting involves using downhill skis (or a snowboard) and a specially designed steerable kite. It has been gaining in popularity over the last few years with most snow covered regions, and it’s easy to see why. La Rosière offers some of the most beautiful spots to enjoy this exhilarating sport.

3) Heliskiing – This is a rare offering from a French ski area, as it is widely banned in France. Enjoy off spectacular views as you are taken up the mountain by helicopter, and dropped at your start point to enjoy some off piste skiing.

4) Bowling & Cinema – While it may not have many shops, La Rosière does boast a fantastic bowling alley and cinema complex. If you wanted to get away and entertain the kids for the evening when it’s too dark to ski, this is the place to go.

5) Shopping – La Rosière has a selection of over 40 shops, but most of these are geared towards skiing essentials, food and even a photographic shop. Because there is no all year round trade to rely on, more of the luxury shops can be found in one of the neighbouring villages. Bourg St Maurice is one of the better places to go shopping in your downtime.

Top 5 Restaurants

1) Le Genepi – A high class restaurant without the pretention, Le Genepi has been praised for traditional French cooking and range of vegetarian options. If you want large portions and a warm, inviting atmosphere, this is the place to go.

2) Le Comptoir – If you want a break from the traditional French meals and yearn for something more familiar, go to Le Comptoir. Their family friendly atmosphere comes second to their huge selection of absolutely fantastic burgers and exotic flavoured liquors. Get a little taste of home at Le Comptoir.

3) Le Turia – Le Turia has been highly praised for its delicious fondue, succulent steaks and their signature 3 course cook yourself dinner, which includes duck, veal and beef for a main and fruit for a desert, which are served on skewers for you to cook over a personal flaming pot. This place is definitely something special and a bit out of the ordinary. With an enticing menu and friendly staff, if you feel up for an adventure, Le Turia is perfect for you.

4) Les Marmottes – Another restaurant specialising in traditional French cuisine, Les Marmottes boasts affordable yet amazing food, coupled with the perfect wines. Don’t be fooled by it’s plain exterior – inside you will find a homey, warm and comforting atmosphere that will whet your appetite. Fantastic homemade French food without the gourmet price tag.

5) L’antigel – Situated slightly higher up the mountains than other restaurants, L’antigel boasts some of the most stunning views of La Rosière and the surrounding villages. Highly trained staff deliver fast and friendly service and scrumptious Svoie specialities from the region. Grab a seat by the balcony and watch the world skiing by.

We’re All Going On A Skiing Holiday Part 2 – What Accommodation Is Right For You?

So now that you know what you need to pack and where in the world you want to go for your skiing holiday, you need to find somewhere to stay. There are a few options here, and it largely depends on what kind of atmosphere you want for your stay. So today we will compare the 2 most common types of ski accommodation to help you decide which is the better option for you on your holiday.

Hotel

Most of us have stayed in a hotel at some point in our lives, and are familiar with the routine of it all. Hotels are vastly similar no matter where you travel, and that makes them a very safe option if you don’t want to try something new. You get the safety and security in hotels, with the additional services like maids and on site food, and hotels come in all sorts of shapes and sizes in the mountains. You will often find they have a more formal, button up approach than other forms of ski accommodation. Hotels are fantastic for couples looking for a romantic weekend away, or small groups who don’t want to share accommodation. The downside is that ski hotel restaurants are often very expensive, largely due to the logistical issues of running a restaurant at high altitude. So while it might seem like the easier option, you will often end up paying more for it.

You will also encounter difficulties with family trips. This is not in the sense of hotels not offering accommodation for families, but more the logistics of it all. Because hotels are generally more expensive than some of the alternatives, you might end up booking just 1 room and squeezing the whole family in. This can make the trip a bit tense after a few days as no one really has their own space. You also need to be conscious of your neighbours – some of them might not appreciate your kids running around, screaming and having fun as much as you do.

Chalet

A chalet is designed to be more of your home away from home. They are a more private and intimate alternative to hotels – and great if you are bringing the whole family with you. Because it’s your own version of a little cabin in the hills, it very much feels like your accommodation and no one else’s. Kids can run around and have fun in a chalet without upsetting other guests, and they often come with a small amount of private land, which gives you your own snowy back garden to play in. You can also choose between a self-catered and a catered chalet – giving you even more flexibility. If you choose catered then you will get to know your chef and host quite well – and may even end up hitting the slopes with them – after all, they will know the best bits of the slopes!

As a comparison, chalet accommodation is usually cheaper than hotels – mainly because charges, taxes and other administrative costs are so much higher in hotels that cater for hundreds of guests at a time. You also get the advantage of not having to eat in an expensive skiing hotel restaurant, having the luxury of either having your breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner delivered in catered accommodation, eating out wherever you want in the local area in self catered. We always love having more options to do whatever you want, and a chalet definitely ticks that box.

So in the end it all comes down to your personal preferences. Personally, we love the comfortable and homey chalet style, but if you prefer a more communal approach, a hotel might be your option. Skiing holidays can be a very rewarding experience and incredibly personal, and that’s why chalet’s are the usually more popular option.

We’re All Going On A Skiing Holiday Part 1 – Your Packing Checklist

Skiing is a hobby and sport that a lot of people undertake across the year. It’s fantastic exercise, gets you out in the open air and gives you a great adrenaline rush. So it’s not surprising that so many people are taking up skiing for the first time at the moment. But if you’ve never done it before, it can sometimes be a bit tricky to decide what you need to take on your snowy adventure. That’s why we’ve come up with a comprehensive check-list that covers everything you need for the perfect skiing holiday.

The Essentials

Those few really important bits you just couldn’t survive without. These bits will make sure that, whatever happens, even your worst fears about the trip – you will be able to come up with a solution.

Tickets, money, passport

– Flight/coach/train/ferry details

– Insurance details

– Driving license and directions (if you’re driving)

Equipment

This part of the list covers your basic equipment for the trip. Everything you need to actually get out on the slopes and start skiing. These are the basics, and you can upgrade and go high tech if you want to. But if you are a beginner, this is all you need.

– Ski boots

– Skis

– Poles

– Day rucksack

– Helmet

– Transceiver, shovel and probe (if you’re heading off piste)

– Water bottle or Camelbak

– Multitool for repairs or adjustments on the go

Skiing Clothing

As well as your skiing equipment, you will also need some protective clothing out on the slopes. This not only protects you from injury but also the possibility of burning and frostbite. Keep yourself wrapped up and warm while you’re on the slopes, and be ready with the cold medicine if you don’t.

– A warm hat/beanie

– Sunglasses and goggles

– Neck warmer

– 2x thermal tops & bottoms

– 2x fleeces

– Waterproof ski jacket, trousers and gloves

– 2 or 3 pairs of ski socks

Other Clothing

You’re not always going to be on the slopes – so it helps to have other clothes with you! Research the weather patterns of your destination before you go, but generally pack for anything. Cold is a given, but pack for rain and heat as well, just in case.

– Jeans or long trousers

– T-shirts and tops

– Jumpers and fleeces

– Underwear and socks

– Comfy trousers and jogging bottoms

– Slippers

– Normal gloves

– Scarf

– Shoes or boots with good grip

Other Important Bits and Pieces

The little odds and sods that don’t fit into the other categories. They aren’t the day 1 essentials, but you wouldn’t want to be caught without them either!

– Pyjamas

– Toiletries (including a toothbrush – how many times have you forgotten that!)

– Sunscreen and after sun (you can still get burnt in the snow!)

-Swimming costumes/trunks

– Phone and charger (make sure it stays charged at all times in case of emergency)

– Travel plug adapter

– Any medications (including painkillers, cold tablets and sleeping pills)

– Books and magazines

– High energy snacks

…And A Few Luxuries

We can’t be without our little luxuries, and if you’re planning on leaving the slopes in the evenings for more sophisticated events, these might just come in handy.

– Walkie Talkies

– Travel Pillow

– Video Camera

– Hair dryer/straighteners

– Makeup (and removers)

– Hand warmers

– Deep heat or any other muscle soak

– Joint supports

The Favour Feud – Is It Worth It?

FavourThere’s no denying it, weddings are an expensive business. And with the costs of getting married rising every year, the modern bride is always looking for a way to cut the costs without cutting out the style. One of the most traditional wedding elements has come under the axe recently, and that’s the favours. It’s caused a bit of a divide among brides, some saying they are still a lovely and traditional thing to do, others saying they are just a pointless waste of time. But should you have wedding favours, are they really worth it? We examine both sides of the argument, and leave you to decide for yourself!

Absolutely!

Wedding favours were originally a gift given by the bride to acknowledge and thank every friend or family member who shared in her special day. And the original wedding favour wasn’t extortionately expensive either- the bride would give 5 sugared almonds to each guest, wrapped in a delicate and attractive tuille bag or a box. Each almond symbolised a different wish for the couples future: Health, Wealth, happiness, Long Life and Fertility.

Now a favour is seen to be something more personal and unique to the couple, and there are all sorts of wonderful new ideas out there – from giving seeds, hot chocolate sticks, smoore’s kits or even Lego bricks. It’s a chance for the couple to get creative in the way they thank their guests, and it’s usually one of the more fun elements to the planning. They don’t have to be expensive either – I know many brides who have given homemade favours on their wedding day – cutting the costs while still keeping this tradition.

At the end of the day – it’s a way to say thank you, and this tradition is one that can easily be done on a budget and to a personal level – so there is no need to cut it out completely!

Spend Your Money On Something Else!

Sure, it’s traditional, but what’s the point, really? I mean sure, you could make them yourself – but that means spending the day before your wedding wrapping up biscuits or sticking labels to little potted plants for every guest – but what a waste of time! You could be spending that precious time drinking and celebrating with your friends and family, getting your nails done ready for the big day or just watching a movie with your bridesmaids in your pyjamas doing the ‘im getting married in the morning’ dance. I know I will be!

The point is, favours are an element of the day that doesn’t really affect anything. It doesn’t make the day better, and I can’t count the number of weddings I’ve come home from and the favour has sat on the side for a few days before being binned. I always feel a little bit bad – because the bride and groom probably spent a lot of time, money and effort on them – but they’re always useless. With so much else to plan and do – favours are the last thing you should be thinking about.

A Happy Middle Ground?

So is there a happy middle ground in the favour feud? Probably not. Each couple is different, and some might prefer to give lavish favours to every guest while others give nothing. It doesn’t make a huge impact on the day either way, and it’s all down to personal preference. If favours are your bag, I say go for it. But if you’re not fussed, then don’t sweat it and spend the time and money elsewhere.

What To Ask Your Wedding Photographer

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At moore&moore photography, we know that choosing a photographer for your wedding is a very personal experience, and you want to be confident that you have made the right decision. You need a photographer who will work with you, capture your personality and style perfectly and reflect your day in its best light. To help you on your way, here are a few questions you should ask your photographer before you sign on the dotted line.

The Basics:

  • Do you have my date available? This is the basic requirement before the conversation can go any further. If they don’t have your date available, then there is no point in continuing the conversation. They might be the perfect photographer for you, but they can’t be in 2 places at once, and it’s easier to cut it off now and not waste your or their time.
  • Do you have a portfolio I can view? A photographer should always be happy to show you their recent work. If they decline to show you a portfolio, that is a very big red flag. We would always recommend against booking anyone who won’t show you their work beforehand to avoid heartache and tears if it doesn’t go well.
  • How long have you been in business? If ever there was a time that choosing a veteran over a new arrival is a good idea, it’s now. When it comes to your wedding, the dress, the rings and the photographs are the only tangible things left after the day, and you want them to be done properly.
  • Are you insured? A lot of venues nowadays require external vendors to be insured before they will let them work on the property. But this should only be 1 part of the equation – photography is the third largest expense in any wedding, and you want to make sure that is protected.
  • Will I be able to get digital copies of the photos, or do I have to buy an album? Some photographers will only give you hard copies of your photographs in an album, or charge you extra to get digital copies. If you want to buy an album from your photographer that’s great – but if you want digital images too, make sure they will provide them.

Style and Feel:

  • How would you describe your photographic style? Do they only shoot in one style, or can they accommodate any preferences you have? Will they take on your ideas and make them reality, or ignore them and shoot their way?
  • How would you describe your working style? This is different from their photographic style. This is how you find out if they will be a bled into the background photographer or a stand out and take control of the day kind of photographer. This will help you figure out if they will work for you.
  • How would you handle…? This can cover anything from illness and bad weather to you wanting your cat in every photo. Knowing all of your photographer ‘Plan B’s’ is a great way to find out if you can be relaxed and calm on the day, or if you will need to make your own Plan B.
  • Why are you a photographer? If the first answer is ‘it pays well’ then run for the hills! A photographer who wants to take photos because they are beautiful and their passion will go the extra mile for your photos and make them perfect.
  • Can you accommodate specific requests? Will you be able to give your photographer a shot list, or will they just do their own thing? Flexibility if essential, and if they can work around you then all the better.

And finally, a few bonus things you should ask yourself before you take the plunge and book:

  • Do you feel a connection with this photographer? Do you feel they know what you want, and will be able to make it a reality? Do you personalities match, and do you feel comfortable around them?
  • Are you comfortable with their work and communication style? Can you talk to them? Do they work the way you would like them to, or are they a bit alternative for your liking?
  • Have they listened and addressed your concerns? If the photographer is a good fit, they will have listened to all of your concerns and requirements and set your mind at ease. You should leave the meeting feeling confident that you found The One.