Month: August 2014

A New Staircase for Any Home

A New Staircase for Any Home

A New Staircase for Any Home
So you’re looking into adding a new staircase to your home – good for you! You might also be finding by now that the planning process can be a bit overwhelming, if you’ve kept your mind open to new possibilities, simply because there are so many excellent design ideas to choose from.

People living in modest homes often believe that a straight, up-against-the-wall staircase with no landing is the only kind that will fit in their home. In fact, spiral staircases are a great option for smaller homes because they take up very little space, especially when situated in a corner, and they add depth while allowing you to make the most of the remaining space.

If you’re more adventurous, then a traditional straight staircase may seem a bit boring, but there’s plenty you can do to make it an integral part of your home’s interior design. For instance, you might choose dark-coloured steps and light-coloured risers for contrast or to coordinate with the colours in your home space.

Painting the steps a darker colour is always an option – in which case pine would be your best choice – but contrasting woods such as pine and sapele can achieve a similar effect without any additional trouble. Yet another option for integrating a new, straight staircase into your home would be to add a stair runner in an attractive matching colour or design.

When shopping for online staircase parts, make sure that you are dealing with a reputable vendor that is prepared to guide you through the process from start to finish, make recommendations appropriate to your interior design preferences and offer bespoke staircase parts as needed. Whether you’re the traditional or bold type, you’re certain to love the change that a new staircase brings to your home!

Stair Parts Direct has been a leader in providing high-quality wooden staircase parts for over 30 years. Our consultants and expert installers will work with you to build a new staircase that will add value to your home and that you can enjoy for many years to come.

Visit our online gallery to see just how many possibilities you will have by choosing Stair Parts Direct and then make this the year you add that perfect new staircase to your home! For more information, call us today on 0191 341 0077 or visit the Stair Parts Direct website.

Business:             Stair Parts Direct


Virgin Australia Trebles its Full Year Losses

Virgin Australia Trebles its Full Year Losses

Virgin Australia Trebles its Full Year Losses
Virgin Australia Holdings has posted an after-tax loss of A$355.6m ($332.6m; £200.5m) for the full year ending in June. The result is more than triple the firm’s previous year’s loss of A$98.1m.

The carrier blamed weak consumer sentiment, overcapacity in the market and carbon tax costs for the loss. Virgin also said on Friday that it would sell a 35% stake of its frequent flyer program to a private equity firm, valuing the program at A$960m.

The carrier, which is Australia’s second largest behind Qantas, said ongoing uncertainty around the economy had also contributed to its full year loss and that it would not provide a forecast for the following financial year.

Virgin’s underlying loss for the year of A$211.7m was in line with market expectations. “The 2014 financial year has seen one of the most difficult operating environments in the history of Australian aviation,” said Chief Executive Officer John Borghetti.

Virgin competes head to head with Qantas in Australia, which reported a net loss of A$2.8bn for the same period on Thursday.

It was the national flag carrier’s biggest ever annual loss.

Like Qantas, Virgin also blamed its full-year losses on restructuring and redundancy costs, together with write-downs on the value of its international fleet.

Virgin’s sale of its Velocity frequent flyer program would be used to help lower the firm’s debt, but is subject to regulatory approval from the country’s foreign investment review board. The partial sale of the program, which has some four and a half million members, would also be used to help improve Virgin’s cash position, the firm said. “The timing of the sale is perfect for us,” Mr Borghetti said at a news conference on Friday.

Virgin Australia shares rose slightly in morning trade in Australia on the news.

Air New Zealand, Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines own stakes in Virgin Australia, which in turn has a 60% stake in Tiger Airways Australia.

US Economic Growth Revised Upwards

US Economic Growth Revised Upwards

US Economic Growth Revised Upwards
The US economy grew at an annual rate of 4.2% in the second quarter of the year, according to revised figures from the US Department of Commerce. The revision upwards from 4.0% reflected stronger business spending and exports. It was the fastest pace of growth since the third quarter of 2013.

A separate report from the US Labor Department showed the number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell by 1,000 to 298,000 last week.

Economists polled had expected the pace of US growth to be revised down to 3.9%. Growth was instead revised upwards, in part due to stronger exports and public sector spending. Growth in consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, remained at a rate of 2.5%.

The US economy has rebounded strongly after shrinking at an annual rate of 2.1% in the first quarter.

The contraction in the first three months of the year was blamed on harsh winter weather which discouraged shoppers and hampered manufacturing.

The Ellen Conlin Hair Salon Glasgow

The Ellen Conlin Hair Salon Glasgow

The Ellen Conlin Hair Salon Glasgow  – End of Summer Offers
It’s been another lovely summer, and if you’re one of the many who were able to escape from the city for a brief holiday this summer, then good for you! You might have also – let’s just say it – suffered some of the ravages of fun in the sun and have the skin and hair to prove it?

If this sounds like you – or if you’re simply thinking about how to look your best as summer turns to fall – then now is a good time to make arrangements so that you can keep your skin and hair in the best possible condition as the season changes.

Ellen Conlin Hair and Beauty offers 5-star hairdressing and skin treatment in Glasgow’s West End and is currently offering promotions that will give your skin and hair exactly what they’re crying out for!

Hair & Beauty Treatments
For a limited time only, new Ellen Conlin Hair and Beauty clients can come in for a shampoo, cut and style for only £35. If your summer escapades have left you with dry, frizzy hair or split ends, let one of our stylists take care of them and possibly even create a whole new look for you! To take advantage of this offer, simply download the voucher from the “Offers” page on our website and present it at the time of your appointment.

Skin Treatments
If you spent a considerable amount of time in direct sunlight this summer, your skin is probably drier and more distressed as a result, which means that now is a great time to come into ECH for a prescriptive facial. For only £30, one of our therapists will provide a full consultation and treatment to resolve any skin issues that you have. Simply download the voucher from our “Offers” page, present it at the time of your appointment and let us take care of the rest!

Your skin and hair are among the first things that people see when they meet you, and you owe it to yourself to keep your skin and hair looking their best because first impression really do last. Let ECH’s Glasgow-based hair dressers help you make a good first impression on everyone you meet as we head into autumn. For more information or to book an appointment, call us today on 0141 339 8223 or visit the Ellen Conlin Hair and Beauty website.

Business:             Ellen Conlin Hair and Beauty Glasgow


Improve Your Home’s Look and Energy Efficiency with Made-to-Measure Blinds

Improve Your Home’s Look and Energy Efficiency with Made-to-Measure Blinds

Improve Your Home’s Look and Energy Efficiency with Made-to-Measure Blinds
2014 has been one of the wettest summers in over a century, and with the unseasonably cool weather we’re having right now, meteorologists are predicting that autumn will arrive early in the UK this year. For homeowners, this means that now is a good time to consider getting an early start on energy efficiency projects that will also improve the look of your home. Following are some window treatments to consider for energy efficiency as summer turns to autumn.

Roman blinds
These are available in a variety of colours and fabrics; you can go lighter or darker, thinner or heavier and they can even be custom-designed to match your home’s colour scheme. Make sure to work with a company offering the services of a professional seamstress.

Roller blinds
The primary energy efficiency advantage of roller blinds is the fact that it is all one piece, so there are no slats between which drafts can come in, and any potential for indoor warmth to be lost to heat transfer during cold weather will be significantly reduced with roller blinds covering the windows. Available patterns and colours will complement virtually any home décor, particularly those which are traditional or retro-chic.

Vertical blinds
These might not seem like such an obvious choice when it comes to energy efficiency, but vertical blinds offer advantages due to both their thickness and the fact that a set of vertical blinds typically has fewer slats than Venetian blinds, which means that there is a proportionally lower potential for air leaks. As with other blinds, different colours and thicknesses also provide different grades of protection from hot and cold outside temperatures.

Plantation shutters
As the name implies, plantation shutters were originally used as an exterior window covering in hot environments in order to provide some coolness indoors. Nowadays, they are widely used indoors for shade and protection from heat and cold. With plantation shutters, unlike other types of blinds, you sacrifice much less privacy by adjusting them; by leaving them over your windows, even with the slats open, you enjoy a greater amount of privacy compared to other types of open blinds.

When shopping for new blinds for your home, make sure that you’re getting the best quality made-to-measure blinds so that you will enjoy the full benefit in terms of energy efficiency. The Beautiful Blind Company, based in the North East in Redcar, is fully committed to providing you with the perfect made-to-measure blinds for your home.

Contact us today to learn more about how we work with you to produce blinds to meet your exact requirements so that you can enjoy the look of your windows while keeping heating and cooling bills low.

For more information or to request a free quote, call us today on 01642 688049 or visit the Beautiful Blind Company website.

Business:             The Beautiful Blind Company


Service Sector Growth Report

Service Sector Growth Report

CBI: Service Sector Growth Slows in Latest Quarter
Service sector business growth slowed in the three months to August, according to a survey from business lobby group, the CBI. Growth in business volumes in consumer services was the slowest since last year, they added.

However, optimism among consumer services firms is strong, with 48% of companies more upbeat than three months ago, and only 4% less optimistic. In addition, more firms in the sector were planning to take on employees.

More than a quarter of consumer services firms – which include hotels, bars, restaurants, travel and leisure firms – had plans to increase investment in vehicles, plant and machinery.

“The slowing in the pace of growth and profits in the service sector reflects our view that momentum in the economy will ease in the second half of the year,” said Katja Hall, CBI deputy director-general. “But this doesn’t necessarily mean a gear change in the recovery. It’s encouraging that our service sector firms continue to feel upbeat, especially when looking ahead to the next quarter.”

Professional services companies – including accountancy, legal and marketing firms – told the CBI that their business levels were as expected, but that volumes were likely to be more robust next quarter.

Growth in the numbers employed in the business and professional services sector reached its highest rate in almost seven years.

Expectations for employment growth in the next quarter reached a record high. However, a shortage of professional and clerical staff is expected to act as a brake on growth.

Diaspora Social Network Cannot Stop IS Posts

Diaspora Social Network Cannot Stop IS Posts

Diaspora Social Network Cannot Stop IS Posts
The team behind a social network being used by Islamic State (IS) militants has admitted it cannot prevent the spread of extremist material. Diaspora is a decentralised network with data stored on many private servers which cannot be controlled by any single administrator.

IS is believed to have switched to Diaspora after Twitter upped its efforts to block accounts.

Diaspora’s creators said they were “concerned” about the activities. In a blog post, they wrote: “Various newspapers have reported that members of the Islamic State (IS) have set up accounts on Diaspora to promote the group’s activities. “In the past, they have used Twitter and other platforms, and are now migrating to free and open source software.”

The post explained that Diaspora’s network is spread across several independent servers – known as pods – which are not controlled by the Diaspora team.

“There is therefore no way for the project’s core team to manipulate or remove contents from a particular node in the network (which we call a “pod”),” the blog post explained. “This may be one of the reasons which attracted IS activists to our network.”

Diaspora was launched in 2010, paid for by a crowdfunding campaign set up by four students in New York.

Diaspora said it was contacting administrators of the individual pods – known as podmins – to alert them to the problem of extremist content, stressing the legal implications of hosting such material. “Because this is such a crucial issue, we have also accumulated a list of accounts related to IS fighters, which are spread over a large number of pods, and we are in the process of talking to the podmins of those pods. “So far, all of the larger pods have removed the IS-related accounts and posts.”

A bigger challenge is in contacting owners of smaller pods to ask for material to be taken down, the team said.

Before shifting some of its focus to Diaspora, much of IS’s efforts were focused on Twitter. But in the past week, the site has been pro-active in removing the accounts of IS members and supporters. It has since widened that scope to include any member who shares graphic images of video relating to the killing of US photojournalist James Foley.

However, Diaspora, due to its nature, will be unable to take similar action. It is therefore unsurprising that IS would turn to the network, argued Jamie Bartlett, author of The Dark Net, a book looking at hidden internet services and decentralised social networks. “Not a great deal can be done,” he told the BBC.

“In terms of the base technology, decentralised services are incredibly difficult for police to get a handle on. Every time they’re clamped down on – the services get a bit smarter, a bit better at evading detection. “It’s absolutely inevitable that organisations like IS are going to be among the early adopters of this sort of innovation.”

Gifts for the Home and Garden

Gifts for the Home and Garden

Buying Gifts for the Home and Garden
During this time of the year, many people are moving to a new home, or a new town and even some are moving to a different part of the country. Many of your friends might be moving to a new home where the tradition is usually to bring a gift for a house warming. Alternatively, something for your new apartment neighbour is a nice get-to-know gift. Here are some ideas for house warming gifts for the home and garden.

There are some cute items on the market currently for the kitchen. A new cutting board is a gift that only gets better with time as well as seasoning. A nice one has a deep moat for juices, and fine ones have heft and durability that only a fine cutting board can provide. This and other items such as kitchen towels can be personalized with the family’s name. Other kitchen items include ceramic mixing bowls, nice set of measuring cups and spoon, ceramic Mason jar mugs, or other kitchen type items are always great gifts for the home and garden.

Traditional house warming gifts need to have significance for the new home. Candles are usually given to bless a new home with warmth and light. A lovely bottle of personalised wine is often a great gift and this idea can be incorporated in house warming gifts like an elegant wine decanter or wine glasses, wine accessories, or gifts for the kitchen or bathroom. These will always work well as house warming gifts. A home is a place to indulge and relax; these are the items, which encourage new residents to put their feet up and to enjoy their surroundings.

Food is an important part of any home and kitchen gifts are always a great gift to welcome friends or relatives into their new home. Many of them who are in the middle of a move are probably living on fast food.

Flowers or potted plants make lovely gifts for home and garden. Select a bouquet or lucky bamboo plant to use on their new dining room table. Great garden gift such as a garden kneeler and bird feeders all are great house warming gifts. Seed kits and aromatherapy garden kit can be used for indoor or outdoor, so they will work well for new apartment neighbours.

Garden items are numerous and many are unique such as a light for the back step, which gets its energy from the sun during the day. For the yard and gardens there are hundreds of unique and different items that make wonderful all available at the home and gift shop.

However, it really does not matter what you give as a gift as those who are in the middle of a move are usually just happy to see a smiling face or the chance to meet the neighbours they will be living close. Therefore, if you see someone moving in, just stop and introduce yourself, and make him or her feel welcomed in his or her new neighbourhood.

For more information about the range of gifts available for the home and garden, call now on 0844 573 1656 or visit the home and gifts website.

Business:             The Home and Gift Shop


Wedding Dress Cleaning & Preservation

Wedding Dress Cleaning & Preservation

Wedding Dress Preservation for a Lifetime of Fond Memories
He’s finally asked the big question, and the day you’ve dreamed of since you were a girl is now just around the corner. So many things to organize: the venue for the ceremony and the reception, how far and wide to send the wedding invitations, dresses for the bridesmaids and, of course, your wedding dress.

Today’s weddings are more expensive than ever, regularly comparing in price to a new car. Not the least of the expenses is the wedding dress. For many married women, the wedding dress is far and away the most expensive article of clothing they will ever wear. While the occasion certainly warrants it – after all, it’s a rare event in one’s life – a wedding dress is typically expensive to acquire and, potentially, just as expensive to clean and preserve.
Although one never sees it in photos taken by a professional photographer several days before the wedding, the potential for your wedding dress to acquire stains is significant.

Depending on weather conditions, inside temperature and the nervousness that is to be expected on your wedding day, you may have sweat stains form in the bodice area and elsewhere. Stains from food and wine at the wedding reception are another distinct possibility. Some of the most common ones, such as sugar stains from champagne and cake icing, are nearly invisible at the time they are created, and these stains can set and darken over time. The good news is that, although your wedding dress will not likely survive the big day entirely stain-free, taking steps ahead of time to ensure that the dress is professionally cleaned and preserved within an appropriate timeframe will greatly improve the odds of your dress being restored to its original condition. Taking the dress for cleaning within one month of the wedding is sufficient for many wedding dresses (so no need to shorten the honeymoon to save your dress), assuming there are no stains that need immediate attention. Otherwise, arrange to have it cleaned within a few days or as soon after the wedding as possible.

All brides-to-be should understand the cleaning and preservation process for wedding dresses so that appropriate arrangements can be made prior to the day of the wedding. While considerably more complicated than that of most other special-care garments, a good bit of planning and forethought will ensure that your cherished wedding dress and future family heirloom will survive the decades as well as the new life you are about to begin.

First and foremost, understand that the care for such a garment will be considerably more specific and expensive than for most other dry-clean-only or other special-care garments. If the process seems a bit overwhelming and you feel as though you have been tasked with preserving a treasure, it’s because you have. With that in mind, you will want to begin by consulting with a specialty wedding dress cleaner. One way that you will know you are dealing with a reputable company is that they will not charge a flat fee for all wedding dresses. Different dresses have different cleaning and storage requirements, and the right wedding dress cleaner will recommend a telephone consultation or that you bring in your wedding dress to be inspected before they provide a quote for the cleaning and preservation.

Where preservation is concerned, you will want to make sure that your wedding dress cleaning company makes a point of preserving your wedding dress in acid-free tissue paper when storing it in an archival box. The museum preservation method is another option, but it usually costs more. Once you have had your wedding dress cleaned and preserved, be sure to store the dress in a cool, dark area free of moisture and sunlight. Avoid storing the dress in areas of the house such as the attic or basement, as they typically do not benefit from the climate controls in the main living space. If storing in a rented storage space, make sure that it is climate-controlled.

As with many other aspects of your wedding plans, it may seem as though the devil is in the details when it comes to having your wedding dress professionally cleaned and preserved. By knowing those details beforehand and making arrangements with a specialty cleaning and preservation company, you can rest assured that the dress in which you have made a substantial investment will be just as beautiful several decades from now as the day you walked down the aisle.

For more information on cleaning and preserving your wedding dress call Dulais Wedding Dress cleaners on 01661 820700 or visit our website.


Business:          Dulais Wedding Dress Cleaning



UK Government Finances Show Deficit in July

UK Government Finances Show Deficit in July

Government Finances Show Unexpected Deficit in July
Government finances showed an unexpected deficit in July for the second year running, according to official figures. 239m, missing many economists’ forecasts for a small surplus.

For the financial year-to-date, borrowing was £37bn, up from £35.2bn in the April-to-July period last year. July has historically been a month when tax receipts generate a surplus.

Tax receipts were higher than July last year, mainly due to an increase in VAT and income tax receipts. However, payments of social benefits were also higher, mainly due to an increase in state pensions. Nevertheless, the deficit fell from last year’s July figure of £1.047bn.

Economists at Capital Economics said in a research note that, although the rise in total government borrowing to £37bn might “look bad”, the comparisons with last year were distorted by tax changes.

“Tax receipts in April and May 2013 were boosted by individuals deferring income from earlier in the year to take advantage of April 2013’s cut in the additional rate of income tax,” the consultancy said.

A Treasury spokesperson said that the government was set to halve the deficit by the end of the year, in line with Budget forecasts. “The government’s long term economic plan is working, delivering economic security for hardworking people,” the spokesperson said. However, Labour’s shadow Treasury secretary Chris Leslie claimed that “the figures confirm that George Osborne is set to break his promise to balance the books by next year”.

Azad Zangana, European Economist at Schroders, told the BBC. “Despite the very strong economy we are seeing, the government is really struggling to get the public finances under control.”