Posted on

Traveller’s Guide to France

A founder member of the EU, France is the UK’s nearest European neighbour and a popular holiday destination and place for investment.

It’s coastline borders the English Channel, Bay of Biscay and Mediterranean while it has land borders with Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, and Spain.

The country is divided into twenty two regions and ninety six departments. Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie, Bourgogne, Bretagne, Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse, Franche-Comte, Haute-Normandie, Ile-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Midi-Pyrenees, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de la Loire, Picardie, Poitou-Charentes, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, Rhone-Alpes. The landscape and climate varies considerably across the country, from the rugged crispness of the Alps to the gentle atmosphere of Provence.

Famously agricultural, France also has a variety of modern and hi-tech industries. The Government has stakes in a number of major companies and a significant proportion of the workforce comprises public sector employees who enjoy relatively generous benefits and pension arrangements. There is a current national debate about the sustainability of current pension arrangements.

Northern France – especially Normandy and Brittany, and the Dordogne – have been especially popular with a growing number of Britons buying property in France. That number has increased significantly over the last five years and it is estimated that there are now as many as 500,000 British owners of French properties. The increase has coincided with rises in French house prices and has been reported as causing friction in some areas.

According to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyor’s 2005 European Housing Review, France was one of the three European countries in which house prices maintained double digit rates of inflation throughout last year – the others were Spain and Ireland. Prices of existing housing rose by about sixteen per cent over the year and new housing by about ten per cent.

There is no restriction on UK citizens buying property in France although care has to be taken over tax, legal and inheritance issues. In general realised short term capital gains are likely to be taxed more heavily than in the UK, while inheritance rules require a proportion of the value of property to be passed on to children (although there are legal devices available to delay this in favour of a spouse or partner).

In transferring a property both the buyer and seller must use a notaire (a state appointed lawyer who usually acts for both sides) although they can if they wish also seek additional legal advice. The notaire’s fees plus stamp duty are likely to come to between six per cent and eight per cent of the price. In some instances estate agents’ fees, which can be as high as ten per cent, are also payable by the buyer.

Buyers should be warned not to commit themselves to a purchase before they intend. A compromise de vente, often presented by an estate agent, is a legally binding agreement to purchase – although there is a brief cooling off period allowed after signing during which the agreement can be nullified. A deposit of about ten per cent of the purchase price will be required at this stage.

Completion of the purchase transaction will usually involve attending the notaire’s office to hear the contract read through (very quickly).

Posted on

The Nuts and Bolts on Torque Wrenches

A wrench that is used to set the torque of a fastening such as a nut or bolt to a great degree of precision is called a torque wrench. It is actually a socket wrench that comes with special internal mechanisms and is of great use where you need to be absolutely sure about the tightness of the screws and the bolts. You can measure how much torque is applied so that you are sure that the tightness is up to the specifications. So, you can ensure that there is proper loading and tension of all the parts. So indirectly, it is measuring bolt tension. However, thanks to the friction between the mating hole and the fastener, this technique does suffer from inaccuracy sometimes. So it is better to measure the bolt tension or the bolt stretch and very often torque is the only measurement that is possible and accurate.

Let’s take a look at what it looks like. The simplest one is a long lever arm that runs between the handle and the wrench head and is made of a material which bends elastically under the applied torque. There is a second arm which is smaller and it carries an indicator which is connected from the head and is parallel to the lever arm. This remains straight and there is no strain that it suffers from at all. The handle has a calibrated scale fitted to it and as the main lever bends, the scale moves. As soon as the desired torque is achieved, the operator stops applying pressure. This is an extremely simple device but also very precise.

You do get more sophisticated versions where a calibrated clutch mechanism is used. As soon as you get the desired torque, a clutch slips and you prevent over tightening. The most common one uses a ball detent and spring and the spring comes preloaded with an adjustable screw thread and this is calibrated in torque units. This ball detent uses force till you get the desired torque and then the spring is released and the balls clicks out of the socket. There are quite a few variations to this design and you have a whole range of them for various applications and sizes. This design is, in fact, modified and used in drills to prevent the gouging-out of the heads of screws while tightening them.

What are the differences between these different types of torque wrenches? You do get better precision when they have been calibrated well but when the mechanism is complex, they can end up losing their calibration pretty quickly. The beam type on the other hand does not have too many parts that can malfunction as it is a more mechanical operation. However, in some situations, the beam type torque just cannot be read and therefore is not used. Further, the scale is sometimes prone to parallax error because there is such a long distance between the indicator arm and scale. There could also be increased user error with this type as you have to read it off each time. When it comes to the click type, remember to remove the force from the spring and set the scale to zero when it is not in use.

Posted on

Five Weightlifting Tips to Maximize Your Muscle Gain

To get the results you seek from lifting weights, you have to use good form and proper technique. You must also allow your muscles plenty of time to develop. Allow at least four months to get that pumped up look, that is four months of consistent effort toward achieving your muscle gain goals. With determination and perseverance, you will get that chiseled look you seek. Here are five weight lifting tips to help you out.

Learn the proper form for each exercise before you attempt it. Using the wrong form will slow your progress and may even cause you injury. If you aren’t sure, ask a staff member for some weight lifting tips that cover proper technique and routines that will help you meet your goals.

It’s also a good idea to keep records of your repetitions and weight used so you can track your progress and plan your routines.

1. Goal Setting: It is what will keep you focused on the end result thus your goal setting is very important. To get you down to the gym three or more times a week and keep you highly motivated, you need your short and long term sensible goals set in place.

When you achieve a short-term goal, have a celebration, then head back to the gym and keep plugging away towards your end goal. Having many easily achievable short phase goals along the way will motivate you to train hard.

Work backwards from your end goal to help you determine your mini-goals. For example, if you hope to gain 50 pounds in a year from weight training, then set a goal to gain five pounds in your first month.

2. Make A Vow: Do not let lack of commitment be the reason you fail to pack on muscle. Do not let confusion lead to lack of commitment. Get a hold of a good weight lifting program so you have a step-by-step plan to follow on your way to achieving your muscle building goals.

Be sure that your goals align with the plans set up by digging deep into your potential program. Once a muscle add program has been chosen. Stick by it and follow through to the full.

3. Learning: For the most effective workout, learn all you can about bodybuilding and how exercises affect your muscles. Knowledge is power when it comes to getting ripped muscles. There is much to learn and most people have no idea how to go about it. Becoming knowledgeable could mean the difference between having a sculpted body at the end of six months and barely being able to see any progress. Sources of information are readily available in books, on the internet, and in weightlifting courses put together by experts.

4. Correct Technique: Because it’s no fun tearing a muscle or crunching cartilage, correct method is very important. The main advantage to proper technique is more muscle gain other than safety. To have the most benefit to your muscle growth carry out an exercise the correct way and that’s what we are after, right?

If too much weight makes you lose technique, drop the weight a little until you can manage it. Just to try to out lift your buddy, or yourself but never compromise your form.

5. Development: Take things a step at a time. You will not gain 50 pounds of muscle overnight. Thinking that far into the future can even be daunting. Cut it into smaller chunks. Develop your muscles to the point where you gain five pounds over the next four weeks. Give your muscles time to develop equally in a logical fashion so your whole body benefits from your weight lifting efforts. Think about these five weight training tips before you begin your next workout and maybe they will help you get better results.

Posted on

Running Tips – Running After 40

Running is such a wonderful way to stay in shape – and even more so as you get older. There are many runners out there who are still running and doing marathons into their 80’s and 90’s. So, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t keep being a runner for life. However, after you reach 40, there are some things that you need to be aware of as you continuing your running program. Read on for tips on running as you age.

When you are training for a longer race or you are just beginning a running program after 40, you need to build up your mileage slower than if you were younger. Many runners do a walk/run program. They will do this and then slower decrease the amount of time that they are walking until they are running the entire distance. This is a great way to keep from getting injured by doing too much too soon.

An important thing for runners is to listen to what their body is telling them. I feel that this is important for all runners (and is what has kept me out on the roads for over 30 years), but even more important as you get older. If you need an extra day to get over a long run or a speed workout – take it.

Doing a weight workout a couple of times a week is great to keep your muscles strong. Make sure that you are doing both upper and lower body work. Leg extensions are a great way to keep the muscles around your knees strong and pain free. Just use a light weight – your plan is not to bulk up, but to stay strong.

If you’ve been running for many years, be aware of the fact that you will probably be slower as you get older. I’ve come to terms with that fact – and I’m alright with it. I take great joy in knowing that I’m still out there running after all these years and many that I ran with when I was younger are not running at all. As I get older, I’m happy with my runs and how it makes me feel younger than I am. Speed doesn’t matter to me at all.

Make sure that you are staying hydrated. As we get older, we sometimes don’t feel thirsty as we used to. So, be aware of this and make sure that you follow the urine test – it should be clear or pale yellow.

Running is so wonderful for you – and keeps you feeling fit and younger. Follow these tips to keep you out there on the roads for a long time.

Posted on

How to Create a Family Safety Plan

It’s not surprising that most people do not have a plan in place for an emergency. Nobody thinks disaster will strike them. Chances are, it never will, but having a practiced, well thought out safety plan in place could mean a world of difference in your life. If you have never thought about the need for a safety plan and don’t know where to begin to formulate one, here are a few tips to help you get started.

Make it a Family Affair

Each family member should be involved in the development of the family safety plan. Hold a family meeting where everyone can participate and provide input. This family brainstorming will provide ideas and everyone will have an understanding of the plan and be more apt to take it seriously. Creating a family safety contract for everyone to sign will ensure your family’s commitment to safety. Frame the contract in a picture frame and hang it in an easily accessible location in case that emergency every strikes.

Gather Emergency Supplies

Before an emergency strikes determine what supplies you will need to keep you safe. Build an emergency supply kit or several of them and place them at different locations throughout your house so you are prepared no matter where you are. Some examples of what to include in your safety kit are a working flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, non-perishable food, matches, blankets, extra clothing and jugs of water. As a safety precaution keep a flashlight and fresh batteries in a nightstand for a middle of the night emergency. You should also consider having an emergency radio especially if you live in tornado areas so you can get updates on the weather status.

Plan Emergency Escape Routes

If you wait until an emergency hits to figure out an exit route, you won’t have time to coordinate with other family members. Whether the emergency is a fire, flood or tornado, you need to have a plan that is known to all family members and has been practiced so each person is familiar with it and can successfully escape. Once your escape route is established you may want to create a poster of it to hang on the wall in a simple picture frame where it can be seen and understood even by young children.

Practice, Practice, Practice

No plan is ever fool proof. That is why you need to practice your escape plan so you don’t have any surprises during a real emergency. Once you have established a plan, hold a few practice sessions so everyone is familiar with the plan and can navigate more confidently when under stress. Whether it is a fire drill, home evacuation drill or tornado drill, practice sessions give everyone a chance to be acquainted with the escape plan and time to work on any problems that you foresee. A fun activity is more memorable, so snap some photos of your family in action and display in picture frames along with your emergency escape route and family safety contract.

Posted on

What to Look For When Using Organic Skin Care Products

People have been using natural ingredients for centuries because the healing properties have had a positive impact on their health and well being. Because of the changes in our environment that have resulted in an accumulation of toxins in our air, soil, and water, more people are now choosing organic products to improve their health. One way of embracing a healthy lifestyle is the use of organic skin care products.

Organic skin care products are all natural, chemical and preservative free, and do not negatively impact the environment. Natural organic properties in the skin care products help to decrease the signs of aging, rejuvenate and replenish the skin with vitamin and minerals, and naturally moisturize leaving the skin smooth and soft.

Organic skin care products are better for the environment because they are made without pesticides, synthetic preservatives, chemicals, mineral oil, animal by-products, artificial colors and fragrances, and other toxic substances. When choosing an organic skin care product it is important to read the label. They should state they are 100% vegan, cruelty free, and do not contain any chemicals and additives.

Natural ingredients to look for include rosemary, sage, seaweed extract, honey, vitamins and minerals, apricot, coconut oil, mango, herbal plant extracts, avocado, distilled water, safflower oil, pure spring water, witch hazel, bee pollen, hazelnut oil, pink grapefruit, papaya, and aloe vera.

Synthetic ingredients that will tell you that the product is not organic include:

Petrolatum/Paraffin/Mineral oil: As byproducts of crude oil, mineral oil blocks the skin’s absorption of vital vitamins and essential nutrients. It also blocks dirt and debris from exiting the skin. Any mineral oil derivative can be filled with cancer causing Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH’s.) Mineral oil derivatives include: Liquidum paraffinum, Paraffin oil, and Paraffin wax.

Parabens: These are harmful chemicals. Look for the prefix methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl. They are petroleum-based and can cause skin irritation and other reactions. Parabens are thought to alter estrogen levels and there is a concern that they increase the risk of breast cancer. Types of parabens include: propylparaben, methylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, and benzylparaben.

Phthalates: These are chemical substances that can seep out of plastics. They are toxic, carcinogenic, and have been associated infertility.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate: These are chemical foaming agents that have been linked to such health conditions as PMS, menopausal symptoms, cell membrane damage, and immune system damage. They may also be linked to an increased risk of cancer such as breast cancer.

Isopropyl alcohol: This product dries the skin and can cause premature aging of the skin.
FD&C Color Pigments: These substances are full of heavy metal salts that penetrate the skin. As synthetic colors made from coal tar, studies have revealed these substances as being carcinogenic.

When you research the chemicals found in manufactured skin care products, it is easy to see why so many people are turning to organic skin care products. Studies have revealed “that up to 60% of what we apply to our skin may be absorbed into the bloodstream.” If you are using non-organic skin care products, it is important to note the impact of toxic chemical on your body.

Organic skin care is an eco-friendly choice that is healthy for the planet and your skin.
To ensure healthy skin care and overall good health, it is wise to replace your current chemical skin care products with organic products. Your skin will appreciate the dose of good health.

Posted on

Easy Steps to Increase the Power of Your Memory

As you get older, your memory tends to get weaker. However, there are several things you can do to make it stronger day by day. It is important that you learn how to remember things, by exercising your brain and memory every day, so that it stays sharp as you move into your later years. If you can, try to use your mind every day to sharpen your memory with a conscious effort. To improve your memory, you need to use proven strategies, many of which we will discuss in this article.

If you want to remember things much more easily, you should organize the area around you. Despite the fact that what we remember is in our minds, the world around us can have a dramatic affect. Have you ever lost your glasses? You know that this is something that happens on a regular basis. Simply stated, it is harder to find something you have misplaced in a cluttered home opposed to one that is clean. When you keep the objects around you organized, you’re performing a valuable mental exercise as well. The same is true with information on your computer. If you have hundreds of files cluttering your desktop, it will be hard to remember where anything is. If you can just organize the space where you live, this organization will help you dramatically. Your mind has to be alert to remember things, which is why you need sufficient sleep to have a good memory. As many health experts have noted, lack of sleep is becoming a serious health issue. People who are sleep deprived find it harder to think clearly, and their energy levels will be low. Reading or paying attention to someone who’s trying to teach you something isn’t easy when you’re tired. Additionally, even the information that’s already in your head will be harder to bring up. Memory is also affected by stress, and trying to function when you’re tired can make you feel stressed out. There can be many causes of not getting enough sleep, from having too busy a schedule to medical issues; whatever it is, try to identify it and come up with a solution. This may mean getting more exercise, changing your diet or seeing a doctor if the problem is severe.

To improve your memory, you need to use it more often. By memorizing things every now and then, you can improve your ability. While there are all kinds of tricks and methods that can improve your memory, one of the simplest ways to do this is to simply practice using your memory whenever you can. Whether you memorize song lyrics, or a passage from your favorite book, do something that you will enjoy and will benefit from once you have put it to memory. You can also improve your memory by reading as much as you can on the topic of memory; you can also practice by memorizing dates and places.

It is always good to test yourself once you have memorized different things. From there, pick up a trivia book and start memorizing random facts about things you knew nothing about. You can improve your memory in lots of ways, and the above techniques are a good place to start. Of course, if you really want to have a great memory, you’ll need plenty of practice and you might want to do more research on the topic. The best way to strengthen your memory is to do it by learning things you’re truly interested in. No matter what interests you, it can be the basis for your memory training as you memorize relevant dates, facts and other information about it.

Posted on

Having the Right Dog Kennels and Dog Crates is Important

Dog Kennels and dog crates are simply a “must have” if you own dogs. They are such an important part of the gear required for happy and successful dog ownership, that to go without them is really doing yourself, and your dog, a big disservice. Both kennels and crates serve important functions that, to the uninitiated, may come as a bit of a surprise. I certainly never thought of these things before I owned dogs. Now it just seems obvious to me that both are necessary items to have and use.

A dog is a social animal and likes to live with a sense of place. This can range from position in the pack, i.e., the family, to an actual location where they can go to get away from it all. Having such a place is critical for the dog’s peace of mind. Dog kennels and dog crates make the perfect places for this for several reasons. Probably the biggest reason these are ideal is that they are dedicated items, meaning that nothing else is done there. It is the dog’s own and he quickly learns this. That sense of ownership and place makes it a safe and comfortable retreat for the animal. Being able to go into a crate or kennel plays on a dog’s den instinct. Think about how wolves are in the wild. They give birth to the pups in caves or other cave-like places. It is protected from the weather and other dangers. It is secure. Crates and kennels do a pretty good job of replicating this and dogs love them.

Another reason dog kennels and crates are so important to have is for safety. When you travel with your dog, having the right crate is not only convenient, but in many cases it is also required. Airline carriers will not allow you to transport your dog without the right crate. Common sense tells us that the right crate is one that is large enough to house your pets comfortably and safely. A bumpy ride can be quite disconcerting to your four-footed friend if there is tons of room to get thrown around in. Conversely, being cramped in too small a space is not only uncomfortable, but also somewhat abusive. When shopping for a crate for Fido, be sure to follow the recommended sizes given by the manufacturers for the breed of dog you own.

Dog kennels and dog crates can be beneficial for both permanent and portable uses. A friend of mine owns a construction business and likes to take his Black Lab with him to the job sites. Rather than just have the dog ride along in the back of his truck, he puts him in his kennel. It is the type that fits nicely in the back of his rig and is easy for the dog to jump in and out of. It can be securely locked in place and is just the right size. This is a wonderful way to keep your dog safe when traveling in the back of a truck. Kenneling at home in a more permanent structure makes sense for many people as well. If you have the space for it, this can be a wonderful addition for your pet.

Dog kennels and dog crates that are easily washable are a real plus. Let’s face it, dogs can get pretty dirty. The sport breeds are particularly susceptible to this because of all the running around they do. There’s nothing like a nice swim in the lake, or a romp through the woods to make a dog smile from ear to ear. After such a big day of adventure, the last thing you want in your car is a wet dirty dog. Having them hop into a place that can be hosed off and cleaned easily is perfect.

As you can tell, dog kennels and dog crates can serve multiple purposes, both for your and your dog. So make sure to get a good one that suits your needs.

Posted on

Convenient Infant Car Seat Carriers

A great option for expecting parents who are trying to select from the numerous choices of infant car seats in preparation for bringing home their newborn baby are the versatile infant car seat carriers. These carriers are a combination of an infant carrier and a seat designed in such a way that the infant carrier simply snaps into an adjustable base that remains in the vehicle allowing you take the baby in the carrier with you without having to disturb them or remove them from their seat. The versatility of these seat carriers makes them the perfect solution for busy parents who are always on the go.

The Multiple Benefits and Tips for Selecting the Right Car Seat Carrier

There are many benefits to infant car seat carriers including the ability to transport your baby comfortably from your home to the car and then into a store and back again without ever having to disturb their sleep or remove them from their comfortable seat. These car seat carriers are also great for individuals who are on a limited budget as they are typically lower in cost when compared to the majority of “convertible” car seats available on the market today. Most of these carriers come with a collapsible canopy that is adjustable for protection from the sun and wind, therefore, if you plan on using your infant carrier for taking your baby outside frequently for walks or fresh air you will want to ensure that you purchase one that has this feature. While all infant car seat carriers come with a “stay-in-car-base” that straps securely to the seat of your vehicle, you will want to ensure that your base has an adjustable feature that allows it to be angled in the optimal reclining position suited to your baby’s comfort.

Many parents who own two vehicles elect to purchase a second car seat base for their infant carrier making it convenient to switch vehicles without having to remove the base each time, however, it is important if you would like this option that you select a car seat that gives you the option of purchasing a second base. While all infant seats are now “rear-facing” seats and all babies who are under one year and weigh less than twenty pounds should remain facing the rear of the vehicle, it is recommended that they should remain in car seats that are rear-facing for as long as it is possible providing that they do not exceed the weight and height limitations of the car seat. Fortunately, rear-facing seat carriers are available that will accommodate tiny infants and can be adjusted as they grow with weight limitations that can exceed thirty pounds and height limitations that can exceed thirty inches. Therefore, you should select an infant seat with the highest limitations available as it will allow you to keep your baby in a rear-facing seat and use your infant carrier as long as possible.

Car Seat Carrier Safety Features

While all seat carriers that are designed by reputable manufacturers meet or exceed the federal guidelines for safety, it is essential that you use your infant carrier and car seat properly in accordance with the manufacturer instructions. The majority of the instructions that come with high quality infant car seats are easy to follow and understand. By following these instructions carefully, you will be ensuring the optimal safety of your baby. For their convenience, ease of use, and affordability, car seat carriers are a great option for expecting parents who are purchasing one on their own, or also make a great choice when it comes to selecting a baby shower gift.

Posted on

Top 10 Boy Halloween Costumes That Aren’t Harry Potter

Halloween time is the best time to be a little boy because you get to dress up as your favorite character and go around the neighborhood getting as much candy as you can. While getting the candy is cool, the best part is getting to dress up in great boy Halloween costumes and pretend to be an awesome super hero, a cool cowboy or pirate or even as your favorite historical character. The best thing about a great costume is the cooler it is, the more candy you get.

Here are some totally awesome boy Halloween costumes that they’ll love wearing:

1. Superman is a perennial favorite for the last 50 years. Ever since he was introduced in the comics in 1938, little boys have always wanted to fly, stop bullets and all the other cool things Superman does.

2. Captain America is popular this year thanks to the movie hitting the theaters. With the cool mask, the shield and gloves, lots of little boys will feel awesome wearing the Captain America boy Halloween costume.

3. Since the Green Lantern movie came out, that costume is going to be popular as well. Cool looking green and black with the great mask and the ring, if they liked the movie, they will love the costume.

4. Spiderman is another great superhero costume that little boys love. Going around the neighborhood pretending like they are shooting webs out of their wrists while collecting candy will make for a fun Halloween.

5. Batman is always a favorite because Batman is such a cool character. Having a great gadget belt doesn’t hurt either.

6. If they are into zombie movies, there are some totally awesome boy Halloween costumes that they’ll love. Walking around moaning and groaning “Trick or treat!” will definitely get them lots of great candy.

7. There are kids who don’t like the super hero genre or being a zombie. For those boy Halloween costumes, Scooby Doo is popular.

8. Alvin from Alvin and the Chipmunks makes for a great costume as well. If they love the Chipmunk movies, they will love being Alvin.

9. Star Wars boy Halloween costumes are always popular. Whether they want to be a Storm Trooper, Darth Vader or even Luke Skywalker, there are lots of awesome costume choices available.

10. Another favorite is Mario from the video games. Kids get a kick out of dressing up like Mario with the red hat, the mustache and the coveralls.

When Halloween comes around, having a great boy Halloween costume will not only make their night a lot of fun, they’ll probably wear it over and over just to have a fun time pretending long after Halloween is over. Check out all the great costumes like those above and see which ones your kids want to be this year.