Friday, 8 February 2013

The Shard

Londoners can proudly say they have a new landmark for tourism in town. The Shard is the tallest building in the European Union with an astonishing height of 310 meters, as well as 72 floors. With such an incredible amount of floors, The Shard holds many activities and businesses on its inside. There you can find offices, luxury residences (£50 million each, no less), restaurants, a viewing gallery, a 5-star hotel, some shops and even a spa.

The Shard’s complexity was worth one episode for Discovery Channel centered on the building of this tower. This documentary was called “The Tallest Tower: Building The Shard”. On this documentary you will find out that 11,468 glass panels, 500 tonnes of steel and 100,000 tonnes were needed in order to build this masterpiece.

Besides being the tallest skyscraper in the European Union, it most likely holds the title of the smartest building too. It is said that the glass panels will open automatically when being hit by the sunshine. If it’s dark, cold and cloudy then these panels will close and the heaters will switch on.

There is only so much to be said about The Shard, but it is best to go and see for yourself. Starting on February 1st, The Shard will open its doors to general public so they can witness some of these amazing features, as well as its amazing view from the top. If you can’t wait to see what the view from the top is like, The Guardian recently produced a 360-degree panorama of it.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

New Year cleaning for a new start

Now that everything is back to normal and the Christmas tree has gone down (yes, it is now really time to take it down!), why not start the year with a good clear out? Whether you hosted the festivities of Christmas and New Year or you were away for a few weeks, your house could probably do with a bit of tidying up. As we all like to do a bit of spring cleaning to mark the end of the winter, a January cleaning is a good way to give ourselves a new start.

Get rid of things and rearrange

The first thing to do is to get rid of, or put back in boxes, all things related to the festive season. Then, anything that has been replaced by a new present can go. While this can be easily done in the evening, you might need to set aside a Saturday or a Sunday afternoon for the next steps. But there will be a fair number of rainy days this month to do so.

A good way to clear space in your cupboards is to go through your possessions and check the ones you haven't used for a long time, as well as the ones that actually can't be used anymore. Depending on their state, bring them to the charity shops or your local recycling centre. Finally, have a good look at the way your house is arranged and try to visualise a new arrangement of your furnitures. Most of the time, we haven't moved them for years but some shuffle around could free more space or just give a bit of novelty to your living space.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

7 reasons to take a sabbatical – the new British obsession

Between the financial strains, the rush of work and the stress of our many deadlines, day-to-day life can really get us down. That’s why so many people are taking time away from it all to pursue a more rewarding experience on a sabbatical. With this in mind here is a look at 7 of the reasons why sabbaticals are becoming such a popular style of getaway for people right across Britain.

1.   Refresh and recharge

One of the biggest reasons people embark on a sabbatical is to combat the weariness of day-to-day life. When you’re clocking long hours at work, not to mention juggling the other areas of our life, sometimes a break away from it all is the perfect chance to recharge your batteries. 


2.   Learn about different cultures

One of the best things you can gain by going on a sabbatical is the chance to learn and understand different cultures. There’s no better way to appreciate a different way of living than by truly immersing yourself in the day-to-day customs of another country. From the villages of Ethiopia to the communities of Cambodia, a sabbatical is the perfect chance to understand the cultures that have always fascinated you. 

3.   Help communities in need

One of the most worthwhile sabbaticals you can embark on is a volunteering expedition to help communities in need. From teaching in Jamaica to social work in Ghana, there are countless different volunteer opportunities available around the world.

For many people, volunteering conjures up ideas of building huts, but with companies like Projects Abroad you are able to use your already established professional skills and expertise within a new environment. For instance, physiotherapists, teachers, social workers and journalists are just some of the in-demand professions currently needed to volunteer in Africa.

4.   Learn about yourself

A volunteering sabbatical is more than just your average holiday. It’s a getaway that challenges you to confront some of the world’s gravest problems, whether that’s child trafficking in Ghana or environmental degradation in Thailand. In the face of such adversity, people learn more about what sort of person they truly are and what sort of values we hold most dear.

5.   Bring skills back to your own workplace

Any old holiday can help you to relax and unwind, but few can enable employees to bring new skills back into the workplace. Sabbaticals however can do exactly that. Whether your area of expertise is in biology or childcare, seeing the challenges faced elsewhere can bring you a new sense of purpose when tackling problems at home. To find out more about how you can learn valuable workplace skills abroad, look online at

6.   Develop a fresh perspective

Sabbaticals offer an eye-opening and breathtaking perspective of the world around us. It’s not uncommon to come back with a newfound understanding and appreciation of life, and the motivation to always get the most out of it.

7.   Inspire the people around you

Motivated and positive attitudes are infectious. One of the real plus sides to going on a sabbatical is that your newfound perspective can also inspire the people around you, whether it’s your family, friends or even colleagues.

Resource box
Article exploring the idea of a modern sabbatical
Tips on how to take a sabbatical from work
Tourism and travel advice from one potential sabbatical destination