6 Things To See and Do in Lebanon

In Lebanon we have a Country small enough to get around in a short amount of time, yet enough diversity, history, and fascinating landmarks to last a life time! Here we review six of the ‘must do’s’ for anyone visiting this beautiful Middle Eastern Country.
BEIRUT-  Given the small size of Lebanon Beirut is a perfect base to access other parts of the Country easily. Although it can be chaotic at times with all the hustle and bustle of the crowds, scratch under the surface and there is a wonderful fusion of restaurants, museums, bars and clubs to be found offering more than enough to keep a traveler knee deep in discovery for a few days! Top places in the City include The National Museum of Beirut, Grand Serail and for a more natural landmark check out the Jeita Grotto.
BAALBEK- Not to be missed this UNESCO World Heritage Site is steeped in mystery and ancient history. Nestled in a high valley 86 kilometres north east of Beirut Baalbek is the remains of what was an intricate temple complex. Renowned for being one of the most holy places of ancient times and dating back almost 5000 years ago, this is certainly one box you will want to tick off during your stay.
TRIPOLI- No visit is complete without checking out Lebanon’s second largest City. You can spend hours strolling around and taking in the breathtaking medieval Mamluck architecture, also be sure to take in the vibrant Labyrinthine souque that is renowned in the Country as being the best there is. There are both an old and modern part to the City, with the port area of Al-mina 3km to the west along the seafront.
TYRE- The historical Phoenician City of Tyre is another World Heritage Site which back in its glory days was home to a great civilization who reigned over the seas fusing together great colonies such as Cadiz and Carthage. Most noted as the place where a purple dye was first discovered in which was reserved exclusively for nobility and royalty. A place steeped in legend and somewhere that no trip to Lebanon is complete without seeing.
BYBLOS- For a more coastal experience Byblos offers the opportunity to witness one of the starting places of the Phoenician civilizations. There is much debate as to whether it is actually the oldest City in the World, which for that reason alone is worth investigating. Wander around taking in the ancient ruins whilst imagining times gone past and taking in the fresh sea air.
BATROUN-.Like most places in Lebanon Batroun is again steeped in history dating back almost 5000 years. What is fascinating here is the sea wall, originally built by the Phoenicians to protect them from tidal waves, incredibly still stands today, The area also has some fine beaches and wineries if you’re are looking for something a bit different.

6 Perfect Holiday Hotspots for You and Your Partner

Thanks to the boom in budget air travel and the increased accessibility to airports the continent over, jetting off somewhere sexy in Europe is now easier than ever.

 

Here we take a look at six perfect holiday hotspots for you and your partner.

 

Fun and romance is just around the corner.

 

  1. Paris

 

No list fit for couples searching for a euphoric European experience could ever be complete without first mentioning the French capital.

 

Paris, the City of Lights, breathes romance and adventure at every turn. Iconic, with cinematic architecture in all corners of the city, this place offers up options for all types of tastes and all kinds of budgets.

 

From exquisite Michelin starred restaurants to bohemian street cafés, art galleries like the epic Louvre by day to the infamous Moulin Rouge after dark, this place has something for everyone.

 

  1. Santorini

Now we venture a little further afield, to the far reaches of the Mediterranean and the spoils of the once great and glorious Greek empire.

 

Whether the people of old Greece knew about Santorini’s stunning beaches and took it on themselves to lounge at its sumptuous swimming pools like we do in the present, one thing’s for sure, this is a destination fit for the Gods.

 

The best way to live it up in Santorini? Spend the evening at a local taverna enjoying Greek Souvlaki, Moussaka or any of the many other mouth watering dishes this country has to offer, all while washing it down with a cold glass of white wine.

 

Trust us, your partner will thank you.

 

  1. Prague

 

Prague has many names; The city of spires. The crown of the world. To us, however, it’s mainly just plain old Prague.

 

Yet there’s nothing plain about this European wonder at all. Tread its ancient city walks and you’ll see just how special, just how magisterial, this UNESCO-heritage designated European capital can be.

 

What’s even better about this Czech wonder? The sheer value for money you’ll get here. It’s here you’ll pay far less for top quality food and entertainment than you would in other global cities.

 

 

 

  1. Aix les Bains

 

If it’s a spa experience you and your other half are after, you could do a lot worse than hide yourselves away in this southerly French destination.

 

In Aix les Bains it’s you who gets to choose just how active or chilled you wish to take your trip. So aside from all the relaxation on offer you can move things a little higher tempo too. Activities like wakeboarding, boat tours and other water-orientated sports, means the chance to mix it up is always on the horizon.

 

Just as well that the natural surroundings are up to par too.

 

  1. London

 

Perhaps not the cheapest of destinations, there’s no other European city that better defines the idea about great quality coming at great expense.

 

London, for its part, isn’t so far off the spectrum for couples planning a romantic break or trip away for two though. From budget option hotels to free museums and plenty of open events, there’s a wealth of things to see and do in the British capital and most of them don’t command that much of a heavy price at all.

 

Jump on a tube or take a walk through one of the cities many parks. Spend time cruising quirky street stalls or the decadent shop floors that make up Harrods. London never fails to deliver.

 

  1. Bergen

 

An area of such outstanding beauty and wonder that it simply has to be seen to be believed, Bergen, known as the Gateway to the Fjords, is one heck of a recommendation to round this list off.

 

It’s here you can see the aurora borealis (Northern Lights), a once in a lifetime experience that neither you, nor the lucky someone you have in tow, are ever likely to forget.

 

Bergen itself is also rammed with history and tradition. Stroll around the streets and check out the old wooden houses where people traditionally lived for centuries or visit the aquarium and encounter native penguins and seals.

 

This is the place to do all that and more. These hotspots have it all; love, romance, beauty and style. The only thing that awaits is you.

5 Things To See and Do in Ecuador

Ecuador. A gorgeous country on South America’s west coast, boasting a huge range of sights for the budding tourist; from the Amazon Jungle, volcanic mountain ranges, and the Galapagos Islands, to beautiful basilicas and palaces from the 16th Century. Just Googling Ecuador shows that there is so much to see and do, but to save you the sensory overload, this article narrows down some of the best places for you to visit. The first set of places are nature and wildlife based, to quell the budding explorer inside you. The second set of places are all man-made, highlighting the beauty of the centuries old architecture that landscapes this beautiful country.

Cotopaxi Volcano

Cotopaxi, a volcano that has erupted more than 50 times since the early 1700s, is situated inside the province of Cotopaxi. It is part of the set of volcanoes nicknamed the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, and it’s last eruption was in the August of 2015. The second highest summit in Ecuador is a fantastic one; the bright white of the peak and the typical blue skies of the region make for a beautiful holiday snap for back home.

If you’re a tad more adventurous than I, Cotopaxi is a popular mountain to climb! With up to 100 climbers tackling the summit on weekends, you can see why climbing restrictions have been tightened as of 2012. Don’t be put off, however, if you’re not a seasoned climber; there are mountain guide companies that hire out their guides especially for tourists.

Cotopaxi has featured in art throughout time; in 1862, Frederic Edwin Church painted the volcano, in The Star by H. G. Wells, the volcano makes a feature, and American rock bank The Mars Volta have a song named after the mountain which you can listen to here.

Floreana Island

Named after the first president of Ecuador, Floreana Island is an island in the Galapagos Province. Dubbed as having ‘the most interesting human history of all the Galapagos Islands’ by galapagos.org, it is plain to see. It is home to the first postal office, established in 1793, and the first of the islands to be colonized by Ecuadorians. Interestingly, Floreana is also the site of several disappearances, the most notable being an Austrian baroness, who arrived on the island in the mid-1900s.

There are a few visitor sites on Floreana Island, the favourite being Cormorant Point. The highlight of the site is Flamingo Lagoon, where watching flamingos do their adorable thing is a must-see! Putting it into Google reveals the raw beauty of the place; rocky and sandy, and home to a host of flamingos (which stand out so strongly against the grey-blue waters). The Cormorant site has two beautiful beaches: the first being a green sand beach, made green by the olivine crystals, and the second being Flour Beach, made of pulverised coral. Flour Beach is a popular nesting ground for Green Sea Turtles, and many ray species swim through the shallow, shoreline waters. And if you’re a horticulturalist, then you’ll be pleased to hear that the point has a greater diversity than most areas on the Island.

Cajas National Park

Back to the mainland again, Cajas National Park is located in the province of Azuay. The word ‘Cajas’ takes root from the Quichua word ‘cassa’ meaning ‘gateway to snowy mountains’, which makes the gorgeous tundra landscape fit all the better. Alongside the natural world, there are twenty-eight established archaeological sites, Incan and Pre-Incan architecture, and a refuge hut, giving the park a feel of the best of both worlds.

The reason why Cajas National Park caught my eye was, ultimately, the animals that inhabit it. I imaged searched the park and, lo and behold, pictures of adorable alpacas came up- what other reason do you need to visit? Alongside alpacas, there are 44 mammalian species identified, including bats, pumas, foxes, and the Cajas Water Mouse (which is highly endangered). If mammals aren’t your speed, the park is home to an abundance of avifauna (which is made up of 157 bird species), making bird watching a very popular past time. Furthermore, the lagoons are home to at least 17 species of amphibian, including toads and frogs of all different shapes, sizes, and colours. This also means that there are plenty of insects about- so pack that repellent!

Compañía de Jesús

One of the most well-known churches in Ecuador, the Compañía de Jesús resides in Quito. The church itself is mind-blowing; the Catholic Church uses icons to help aid in prayer, but never have I ever seen a place of worship so decked out in gold leaf and gilded plaster. It certainly is something to behold.

Throughout its history, several architects (some of whom doubled as priests) have worked on the Compañía de Jesús, with the first stone being laid in 1605, and the construction being completed in 1765. Mariana de Jesús de Paredes, the patron saint of Ecuador, chose Compañía de Jesús to be her home after being sanctified there in the 1600s. The church also became the headquarters of the Jesuit order, and a school in the 1700s. It has been recorded that, once the Jesuits were forced to leave, many historical tomes were lost, meaning that there is nowhere near as much information left on Compañía de Jesús.

Today, Quito’s old district run tours especially for those travelling to the capital city of Ecuador. The tours are immensely popular and include Compañía de Jesús, as well as many other quaint and beautiful sights. They’re highly recommended, and are incredibly reasonably priced. If you’re saving your money, or just feel like it, you can always grab a street map of Quinto, and take a leisurely stroll around the beautiful city without a tour guide. Either way, you are sure to see some stunning sights, take in the sounds of a city, and smell the street food stalls, bound to draw you off route.

The Ecuador National Museum of Medicine

Staying in Quito, now, this museum caught my interest. Everywhere has that one museum: it’s got art, it’s got history, it’s got natural history, it’s got war history, it’s got an overpriced gift shop. These museums are so standard and uniform in that there are hundreds like them- they’re typical, still interesting, yes, but why visit one of those museums when you could visit a museum soaked in the rich history of the place you’re visiting? So medicine may not be for the faint-hearted, but this museum spans hundreds of years, up until the 19th Century, so not only are you getting a feel for the South American medicine scene, but also the development of it. As a brit, I know that our medicine was definitely lacking up until the Victorian era- wouldn’t it be so fascinating to see how the Ecuadorian’s handled health and wellbeing, and if they had any sense to it? (Or didn’t, like us. I mean, cavemen used to drill holes in people’s heads to relieve headaches- I haven’t got high hopes for old medicine.)

The history of the museum is nearly as interesting as the subject of it. Dr Eduardo Estrella founded it in March 1982, who studied medicine in Ecuador. His goal was to show the world a fuller history of the native and natural medicines of South America, and to help preserve the heritage of the country. I couldn’t think of a better museum, honestly. There’s one thing enjoying the delicious street food, and laughing with locals over a pint, but immersing yourself in the culture of a country will really add depth and knowledge to your stay. Appreciating the culture on a deeper level helps everyone, not just you!

 

And there we have it, my top five places to visit in Ecuador. All these places captivated me in some way. Whether it will be the views, the anecdotes, or the history, I hope they capture you in some way too. Happy holiday!

Cruise Connection – Getting Online while at Sea

It’s no secret nowadays that an increasing amount of travellers will be packing some kind of smartphone, tablet or laptop in amongst their sunscreen and shades. Alongside this comes the requirement to provide internet access and cell phone reception from all corners of the globe where possible – not just on land.

 

With cruises becoming more and more popular with a variety of different travellers, having online access available to patrons is becoming a necessity while on board the ship as well. Over time, more cruise liners have been joining the ranks among those who offer the services aboard their ships.

 

All Liners are not Connected Equal

Although there are a fair few liners that are now offering connection to the internet and cell service aboard, the speed, efficiency and quality can vary dramatically from liner to liner. The availability of the technology may depend entirely on where the liner normally makes its home port, and so it may have significantly older internet and cell technology than those liners that originate in more developed ports.

 

The Pricing Factor

Of course, internet on board a cruise ship is a fairly expensive feat to tackle, and the company needs to both draw the line and recoup the costs somewhere. The pricing put in place can also vary dramatically from liner to liner, depending on the technology available and what the company itself has invested in making the connection a possibility. Prices can be as low as a few pence per minute all the way up to dollars. Occasionally internet packages can be purchased, which works out to be better value.

 

Satellite Reliability

Of course, there isn’t any modem on the face of the planet that can provide wired or wireless internet from more than several feet away. This makes the internet solutions on board a moving vessel – especially one that heads off into relatively remote locales – rather limited. The one solution that is often employed is the use of satellite internet. The upside is internet on the go, from almost anywhere. The downside is slow speeds, and shadier reliability than the trusted land based internet options.

 

Workaround the Down Time

If you are searching for higher speeds, but keep struggling, there are workarounds that you can try out while on the ship to take advantage of lulls in the usage, such as late at night or while most passengers are on excursions. This may increase the speeds you experience, making it easier to connect. Additionally, most cruise liners piggyback off land based internet if it’s available when near land, so your connection may be better during times you’re sailing by shore. Unfortunately though, liners will just never have the same connection as land, so be prepared for slower speeds.

So in all, internet while on a cruise is definitely not out of the question. Cruise liners are all catching up to the expectations of patrons to be able to access internet from anywhere, anytime, and so they have added this additional customer service point to their repertoires. So now you can kick back, relax and take in the sights, without having to worry about being disconnected.

Top Things To See and Do in Peru

With the great British unpredictable weather bathing us in glorious sunshine one moment and pelting us with torrential downpours the next, one can’t help but consider jetting off somewhere beautiful, this year.

 

If you’re into breath-taking views, desert oases, and a country as historically interesting as it is visually stunning, Peru could be the ideal place for you.

 

Here are some of the best things to experience whilst enjoying your getaway in Peru.

 

 

Take a Hike

 

Hiking isn’t for everyone, however I’m certain that witnessing the Colca Canyon’s divine scenery will be something you will not want to miss. Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the American Grand Canyon and, as keen bird watchers will tell you, it is one of the rare homes of the Andean Condor, which has the largest wingspan of any land bird (3.2 metres) as well as other rather spectacular local wildlife.

 

Both trekking and sightseeing tours can be booked from the close-by city of Arequipa. Tours will take you through dizzying altitudes, as well as the volcano country (don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe) before the descent reveals the lush, abundant Colca Valley below.

 

 

Come Fly With Me

 

By all accounts, flying over the Nazca Lines is quite an experience. The Lines are ancient Geoglyphs depicting a range of images, from geometric patterns to outlines of animals.

 

There are a great many theories as to how and why the Geoglyphs were created, however the Nazca Lines remain shrouded in mystery. When viewed from the air, one can’t help but be overcome with awe and wonder at these beautiful and peculiar markings.

 

 

Pyramid Schemes

 

Any conversation about Peru just wouldn’t be the same without mentioning the lost city of the Incas – Machu Picchu. It is, of course, a very well documented and photographed destination, but however many photos and films you see, the magic of the pyramids with their many steps simply cannot be captured on film.

Discovered in 1911 by American historian Hiram Bingham, Machu Picchu remains one of the most visited holiday destinations. It can be a bit of a trek to get to, along the Inca trail, but experiencing the spectacular views, as well as the aura of ancient history, is definitely worth it.

 

 

Rock the Float

 

Lake Titicaca’s floating islands are famed the world over. The indigenous Uros tribe, whom call the islands home, in fact pre-date the Incas.

 

It is advisable to book a tour around the islands and allow the local guides to impart their great and interesting knowledge of this wondrous historical landmark.

 

 

Making Memories

 

These are by no means the only attractions that Peru has to offer. Cities such as Lima boast great food, museums and fantastic hospitality. There are also quaint mountain villages, beautiful beaches, as well as access to explore the Amazon rainforest, to name but a few.

 

Whatever you look for in a holiday destination – whether it be fun in the sun, interesting tours to build your knowledge, or rest and relaxation – Peru has it. Why not start planning your adventure today?

Why Anti-Depressants Shouldn’t Be Taboo (If You Need Them)

What is depression?

 

Depression is commonly explained as low or feeling unwell. These two terms do help explain some aspects of it and in today’s society; we the people are beginning to understand in many more ways by visualisation of the ‘black dog’ or a shadow which can follow you all your life. Online google refers to depression as ‘feelings of severe despondency and dejection’. I actually prefer this extract to dumbing down my emotions to ‘low’ or ‘unwell’. For example a cold makes me unwell but only for a few days. Depression is more of a long term condition and cannot be explained with just a few words. The best definition I have found is thinking of a shadow or black dog, some people may think because they cried once upon a time that they understand this black beast which never leaves. The shadow follows you, undermines your desires and even to some extremes prevents people from living a full life. So next time you meet someone with depression just imagine that time you cried for a few days and then try to grasp that to be diagnosed you must have done that for at least a few months. It is exhausting emotionally and physically and widely recognised in the world as a mental health issue. The way I like to think about it is if you broke your leg a cast and some physiotherapy over a period of time can solve the matter, and of course a few painkillers. It is the same with your mind except there is no physical cast, in other words no one knows about the suffering which comes alongside depression only that one person experiencing it.

The anti-depressants work as a basic cast for the mind as well as providing pain relief. The most important part is therapy to be offered where appropriate like ‘physiotherapy’, in the world today its called ‘counselling’.

 

Why and how can pills treat it?

 

Your brains are all a complex thing, a balance of electrical impulse and chemicals. The chemicals in your brain are called neurotransmitters, these useful chemicals carry signals through the brain.

They are used up by emotions or mood, feeling depressed uses heavy copious amounts of these various chemicals. The pills or Anti-depressants prescribed to you work by limiting the chemicals in different ways thus rebalancing the rationale, mood, and thought process of the brain.

Anti-depressants are essential in any recovery process from most forms of depression, however they are still sometimes misused, it is just a matter of finding the ‘Right’ one for each person.

 

 

Explaining common uses

 

Anti-Depressants are in common use in the UK and worldwide. I hated statistics at university and school but they show surprising results:

 

{see source for statistics}

  • Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with 9% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis.1
  • 4-10% of people in England will experience depression in their lifetime.2
  • Common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are distributed according to a gradient of economic disadvantage across society. The poorer and more disadvantaged are disproportionately affected by common mental health problems and their adverse consequences.3

 

Though the percentages are lower than commonly accepted, a diagnosis is hard to gain in mental health. As mentioned before we are not yet able to read minds therefore this entails a lot of issues in diagnosis and treatment. Anti-depressants need to be far less Taboo, too many sufferers are in fear of judgement or the common misconception that dependency is inevitable. The medication plays a very important role in finding a stable state to begin therapy such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or Occupational Therapy (Finding something you enjoy spending your time doing) and finding the individuals own coping strategy. Exercise, Routine, a balanced tasty diet and of course fun are essential in life, the role of the Anti-depressant is simply to help stabilise the mind-scape before slowly rebuilding it. Working in close connection with doctors and Mental health teams enables a speedy recovery more often than not anti-depressants are used in short term and various counselling techniques instil stability in the long term. Each recovery path will soon be tailor made as some people have heard new techniques involving blood tests are in trial to find the best medication for each individual person. After this step it is just a matter of finding appropriate therapy and recovery is well under-way. The fact is that to combat the issue we need to talk about Depression and anxiety and accept that it is not shameful but Honourable to deal with issues rather than hide them. We need to understand medication is not always suiting it can be changed and talking about our experiences helps derive new solutions and develop old ones. So together lets desensitise and spread the word Anti-Depressant across social media; between your family and friends; if you take them yourself keep your doctors in the loop; then one day we can all talk more openly with freedom from judgement and fear. This is the way the doctors decide dosage and eventually patients leaving the medication behind them in their life path. Alongside doctors, friends, family and therapists independence is always possible.

5 Apps for Small Business Success

Getting a small business off of the ground has always been a daunting process, as well as an invigorating and exciting one too. Today’s business world is somewhat of an overcrowded one, with stores and websites clogging up the avenues of customer choice. There is a good chance also that any business started in today’s world is not going to be a unique one, however that shouldn’t faze you, if you can get a good corner of the market. What with the internet and Apps on smartphones, promoting and spreading a business is easy, in terms of tools at least, despite the risks of steering across the deep waters of numerous other companies, hankering for a piece of that pecuniary pie! So how to thrive in this jungle? Here are five of the best Apps for helping you succeed with a small business:

 

  1. Fuze:

 

If you need to video-conference often with customers, or other members of staff throughout the working day or even after hours, then Fuze is a worthwhile option for this. The online meeting App can function on all platforms and even has new versions for iPads and the Samsung Galaxy. Crisp audio and HD streaming offers unlimited conferencing for up to 25 people. Although a Pro version exists that allows 125 participants, costing $15 a month, after completion of a 30-day free trial.

 

  1. FormMobi:

 

FormMobi is an App that allows gathering and distribution of data, and filling out of forms on the go, so it is ideal for those who need to compile information on the move and on the spot. With features including sound recording, pictures, signature recording and numerous other features, you can collect and collate information on your market from work, home, the beach, on the toilet…

 

  1. Bump:

 

In the modern digital world, it is now easier than ever to send and receive information, plus with people more conscious than ever of cutting down trees to make little cards promoting businesses, Bump offers a handy way around that. Bump let’s users trade information via “bumping” together two smartphones, including such aspects as trading pictures. Which makes sending a virtual business card straightforward and with 8 million users a month, that’s plenty of people to bump your junk around with!

 

  1. Clear:

 

If you are one of those people who are constantly writing out lists and ticking itineraries off (and everyone else for your fastidiousness) then Clear will be the ideal companion for you and your business. Available only for iOS devices, this App ensures that all your tasks and efforts are kept “Clear” for your business by managing lists to organize tasks and set reminders. With pinch, swipe and squeeze functions, the ergonomics of the App are easy and “Clear!” and can be synced easily across all Mac devices from Apple Watch to Mac Desktops. Clear costs $4.99 for iPhones and $9.99 for Mac Desktops.

  1. Square:

 

This handy App has the very nifty function of turning a smartphone into a portable credit and debit card reader. Charging the business 2.75% for every swipe and is subtracted from the purchase automatically, leaving $9.72 for every $10 card purchase. Square has also expanded to Apple Pay also, which will cost users $49 for a one off payment and will take the same cut for every transaction. Plus, if a business earns more than $250,000 per annum, a business can customize the percentage that Square takes. It is available across all platforms and works for all devices.

 

This is it! There is nothing that stands between you and your success as an entrepreneur, except your determination and the love of your brand. In addition to this and your unerring drive and self-belief, are your little handheld friends and the very useful big brother that is the internet. Set your sail correctly and with some mighty headwinds you can navigate the business world admirably!

 

 

Five Fabulous Dishes To Try In Spain

Spain is an energetic and vibrant country, ranging from lush tropics to arid desert. From cities that are a nexus of culture (Madrid, Barcelona, Seville) to snoozing, picturesque and whitewashed coastal towns that are either time capsules of Iberian past or thriving knots of tourism, home to other Europeans seeking the constant kiss of peninsula sun. Every nation in Europe has a unique identity and Spain is no exception. With a warm climate and a close to Africa at its southern tip, via Gibraltar, Spain has seen an influx of various influences ranging from the Romans to the Moors. Subsequently that influence from both north in Europe and south in Africa has spread globally during the age of European colonisation, so Spanish culture has left an indelible mark on our planet. So if you ever find yourself in the varied tapas menu of the Spanish nation, discover these five Iberian delicacies:

 

  1. Gazpacho:

 

No holiday to Spain would be complete without giving this refreshing soup a try. Served chilled, it is a cool mixture of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, bread, peppers and cucumber. It is often a regular feature of tapas bars and features strongly amid local cuisine in the autonomous desert region of Andalucía, regularly gracing such bars in jugs for frequent pouring into bowls or glasses. Salmorejo is a thicker version served in Cordoba, often finished off with pieces of Iberico ham on top.

 

  1. Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician octopus):

 

With close to 5,000 kilometers of coastline both on the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, fishing bolsters the Spanish economy and seafood is a linchpin of the Spanish diet. With a plethora of morsels from the deep to select from, why not opt for a little more adventure and a culinary fiesta? Pulpo a la Gallega, or octopus, provides just such a challenge! Flavored with paprika, the tentacle dish has its origins in the 19th century when muleteers (mule drivers) brought octopi to fry them up at cattle fairs. Pulpo a la Gallega is ideal when served on a rustic wooden plate in a traditional Spanish pulperia, or octopus restaurant. Worth a look too is the Octopus Festival held in August in O Carballino, Ourense.

 

  1. Queso Manchego:

 

Usually eaten together with Jamon Serrano or Iberico ham, manchego cheese originates from the La Mancha region and is made from ewe’s milk. The buttery taste of this cheese is a wonderful compliment to offset the smoked saltiness of the Serrano or Iberico hams and would work as a great local snack.

 

  1. Leche Frita (Fried Milk):

 

For those of you with a sweet tooth and for ones with a penchant for ferreting out the more unique of treats, then seek out Leche Frita, or Fried Milk. A hard milk centre is coated by flour and sugar, glossed over with a sprinkling of cinnamon. Cool on the inside and hot and crunchy outside. In addition to this is the Crema Catalana, essentially an Iberian take on the French Crème Brulee, often flavoured with some citrus zest or cinnamon.

  1. Turron:

 

Considered a seasonal dish eaten by the Spanish around Christmas, Turron is in fact enjoyed and is available throughout the nation all year round. Hailing from the town of Jijona in Alicante, the sweet dish is made with locally sourced almonds. Turron is made with almonds, honey and egg white and comes in the soft Jijona or hard Alicante varieties, the latter of which is served with pieces of almond.

 

So these are five dishes that a traveller to Spain should try – aside from the more obvious paella, tapas and sangria. Each meal offers you a rare glimpse into the food that has shaped and remains a staple of the Spanish peninsula and its peoples, allowing you get to the stomach and digest the bread and meat of the rich and deeply historic Spanish land.

Fashion Tips For Expecting Mothers

Pregnancy is an exciting, worrying, fantastic, tiring and generally confusing time in a woman’s life. As your body shape changes you find yourself unsure of not only what will fit, but whether you want to wear it in the first place! Here are a few easy ways to dress for success with a baby bump.

Know your shape

Your body does change when you are pregnant, but not that much! Think about variations on styles that you you already like but don’t be afraid to look around and try something different. You may find that your new curves let you rock a dress you might have avoided before. You will soon see that it’s not a one size fits all process, what looked amazing on your pregnant best friend won’t automatically work for you.

What lies beneath
You will need to have regular bra fittings during your pregnancy – your chest size is definitely going to change. Keep yourself well supported and you are halfway to a great look. It’s also a lovely confidence boost; even if you’re not feeling slinky on the outside some good underwear in soft, breathable fabrics can keep a spring in your step.

Go back to basics

There are a few pieces you will definitely want to invest in like maternity jeans, a pencil skirt, and some tailored trousers with an expandable waistline. These things are practically a godsend and can be easily dressed up and down without spending a fortune.

Block colours are your friend
If you keep it simple and stick to simple, block colours you can streamline your look and draw attention from bits you’re feeling unhappy with. Accessorise as much as you like with scarves and necklaces which draw the eyes up towards your face.

Maxis are made for mums
A stylish maxi dress can be a godsend for a day when you don’t have the time or energy but need to look fantastic. It creates sleek lines down the body and makes your lovely bump a part of the outfit in an accessible but stylish way.

Find your love for flats

This one in an easy choice; heels just won’t give you the support you need as your pregnancy progresses. But there’s no need to look like your grandmother just yet; fashion in flats has come a long way! Choose a few pairs in leather that will give you maximum comfort but in vibrant colours such as green or red. Add a bit of cheeky detail with some sparkle or buckles to keep things fashionable.

As you move through your pregnancy you will find it gets easier to find things you feel comfortable in. And with these easy tips that doesn’t mean you need to back off from your usual style; just adapt and let your look grow with you as your little one does. Remember, you will probably still be in your favourite maternity wear for a little while after baby arrives so invest in a few pieces you really like and you will really reap the benefits.

What Everyone with PPI Needs To Know About The Time Limit For Claiming

Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) was mis-sold to millions of people that took on financial products over the last ten years; but there’s a huge pool of money waiting to be reclaimed, and the sooner the better.

 

There’s currently no time limit on claims, it’s just that companies only have an obligation to keep your paperwork for six years so after that you would need to have a paperwork trail to prove how much you paid. However, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is planning to change that system; introducing a two year deadline for staking a claim.
This is following pressure from banks and considerable publicity of PPI refunds in recent years to let people know they could be eligible to claim. The FCA also notes it has fined a number of banks and lenders for not efficiently handling PPI mis-selling complaints. It is hoped the deadline will encourage more people to apply direclty to lenders for refunds instead of using third part claims agents, and generally clean up the claims process.

 

The two year timer would come into play once the rules are in place, meaning consumers would have until at least 2018 to complain about PPI products the think they were mis-sold. As part of the update to the guidelines some customers would also be able to claim for commission they were charged when mis-sold PPI, but only if it was above 50%.
However, the suggestion of this limit has brought cries of complaint from consumer organisations who believe that this sets little advantage in banks paying out on legitimate claims quickly and could lead to a rise in nuisance calls from banks hawking for business from potential victims of PPI mis-selling. It is also suggested that putting the ball in the court of the consumer to claim quickly, when they may not know they have the right to claim is not effective consumer protection.

 

Under the current system around a third of PPI claims are being handled by claims management companies, who charge a fee for their services. And at the same time, around two-thirds of all complaints to the Financial Ombudsman are about PPI. It seems clear that the currently process isn’t very fair or consumer-friendly. As such, leading organisation Which is calling for simpler claiming processes; tighter regulation on claims management companies and more information on how many claims have been successful so far.

 

The announcement from FCA is good for the banking industry who have been feeling the pain of PPI refunds for many years; and there was a small increase in banking stocks as a result. A consultation paper on the suggested changes will be published before the end of the year to gather feedback from the banks and lenders involved.