Non-residents can no longer buy holiday homes in Corsica

Posted by on Jun 30, 2014 in News, Travel | 0 comments

 

I’ve talked before on the blog about how much I love travelling and have a goal to one day live abroad or have a holiday home somewhere, but have been disappointed with the stats I’ve read about people finding it difficult to actually afford one. Unfortunately for me, it’s getting even more difficult to buy abroad – this time it’s Corsica that’s in the spotlight, with local politicians voting that they should ban potential buyers from purchasing homes on the island unless they’re a permanent resident.

To be honest, you can’t really blame them for making this decision – have you seen the ways that people have admitted to treating holiday homes?! Now I’m pretty sure that wasn’t their basis for the decision, but I’m reluctant now to think about having a holiday home to rent out while I’m not using it with people constantly leaving air conditioning on when they’re out, hiding broken items and just not keeping it clean.

Back to Corsica though, according to the statistics, up to a huge 40% of properties on the island are not owned by residents with more than 710,000 holiday homes on the island now as opposed to only 7000 in 1968. The issue for Corsicans is that the number of wealthy buyers from places like Paris have caused prices in the local housing market to soar, meaning that locals find it difficult to afford to break into the market. There is also a huge shortage of homes located on the coast coming up on the market where residents would in the past have bought properties, meaning that they have had to purchase homes inland instead.

Paul Giacobbi, head of the Island’s Executive Council, stated: “If one can buy land here as easily as you could buy a bar of chocolate in the supermarket, then we are heading for catastrophe. The only solution is to limit access for non-residents. We need to tackle the massive appropriation of real estate as holiday homes which inflicts economic, social and even political harm in daily life.”

There is also the suggestion that a better solution than barring outsiders from purchasing property on the island might work, such as releasing more land to build affordable housing on.

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What’s your favourite supermarket?

Posted by on Jun 12, 2014 in Shopping, UK | 0 comments

aldi-logoWhen I lived at home with my parents, and when I go back over the holidays, we also use Tesco as our supermarket because it’s just what we’ve always done; when I was away at uni, I would only go to Morrisons, just because that was the closest one to where I lived. I heard recently though about Aldi trying to open a store nearby, and I decided to go have a look at one to see what they’re like, and I was pleasantly surprised – I ended up with everything I was looking for as well as a few extra bits and pieces that were way cheaper than I normally bought and seemed to be better quality.

It hasn’t really surprised me that they’ve been named as the Grocer of the Year at the industry “Oscars” even though they were up against big names such as Asda, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Ocado. According to the reports as well, Aldi’s sales have risen by 35% per year, and this is most likely due to more middle class families starting to use the discount supermarket.

There hasn’t been this big a change in the UK’s shopping habits since the rise of the big national supermarkets back in the 50s, but I think it’s time for a change and to let the little guys step up. The big names have been forced to cut prices on certain shopping essentials such as eggs, butter, milk and bread due to Aldi, and its German competitor Lidl’s, budget prices.

I think for now, I’m going to carry on shopping at the bigger supermarkets for everything, just because they’re more convenient to me for the time being, but once there are some of these smaller budget supermarkets nearer to where I live, whether they’re an Aldi or a Lidl, I’ll be one of the ones making the big change in my shopping habits.

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Portuguese wasteland searched for missing Madeleine

Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 in Kidnap, News | 0 comments

madeleine mccannA team of 30 detectives from Scotland Yard are searching an area of scrub land in the holiday resort of Praia da Luz only a few minutes’ walk away from the accommodation where the McCanns were staying on the fateful day that their daughter Madeleine disappeared. Although it’s been seven years since the little girl went missing, it seems that they are finally onto something.

Last October, I wrote about how phone records were being re-examined in an attempt to find more information about the disappearance, and perhaps this is an offshoot of that, along with the programme aired on the BBC’s Crimewatch.

There have been at least 12 key areas identified and Kate and Gerry McCann have been told to prepare for “significant news”. Officers are using scanning technology with radars that are capable of penetrating up to 4m into the ground to search for any suspicious objects or voids in the earth. Two dogs, Tito and Muzzy, spring spaniels that led the search for April Jones in 2012 have also been employed to help search the area.

A source has revealed this about the couple as they wait for information: “They understandably have to remain positive and assume Madeleine is alive, but the dig raises the possibility of finding evidence that she is not.”

According to reports, the area of wasteland which measures at around the size of three football pitches is the focus for the investigation because a suspect was seen nearby carrying a little girl on the very night three year old Madeleine disappeared.

It’s always difficult in these situations because although the parents desperately want their child to be found for a sense of closure, it is possible that it may not be the answer the hope for. Isabel Duarte stated: “Kate and Gerry have not been given any information that Madeleine is dead, and until this happens they have to believe she is still alive. But they think police will come up with some significant news. It is such a stressful time for them and my heart goes out to them. It has been so long, and the investigating officers now have new information and there may finally be some answers. I don’t need to ask them how they are feeling. It is very clear. But it is not for me to say if they fear the worst.”

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UK’s spring to be the third hottest on record

Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Travel, UK, Weather | 0 comments

sunIt hasn’t particularly felt this way to me, so I was kind of shocked to find out that this year’s spring is looking likely to be the third hottest on records so far. Far enough, we did have about a week of really warm weather, but aside from that it’s felt pretty chilly and drizzly to me.

According to the Met Office, the average March to May temperature for this year is 8.97C (48.15F), which is currently only beaten by 2007 and 2011; records go back to 1910. If temperatures continue in this vein for the last couple of days of the month, Scotland will be set for its hottest spring on record.

To be honest, it’s felt warm rather than hot to me, and I’m hoping it gets hotter, although I’m pretty pleased that I’m going to be out of the country for a fair amount of the summer travelling, although I’ll still be keeping up with the news around the world on the blog. I’ve got one more exam, then I’m finished at uni for good. So I’m packing up a bag full of stuff and heading out into the world for a bit before applying to jobs. I’ve got a pretty heavy suitcase packed, but since I’m staying mostly in the same area, it’s okay, and since I’ve booked a super budget flight, I’m sending my bags over with a company called SendMyBag.com first since I’m not allowed to take any extra luggage on the flight.

So, I’m staying mostly in Thailand, but I haven’t got everything sorted out yet. But the weather there will of course be hot, so I won’t be worried about the weather in the UK for a while. According to the stats, the weather in the UK has been wetter and fuller than average and has only had 76% of the sunshine it usually gets, but 140% of the long-term average of rainfall. I do expect a bit of rain in Thailand, but not as much as here.

And now I’ve managed to write a whole post just about the weather – typically British indeed!

Image courtesy of Narrow Perez.

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Missing woman in US found 10 years later

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Kidnap, News | 0 comments

isidro garciaThese stories pop up from time to time and I always find them interesting – I think it’s the fact there’s hope for other people who have gone missing years and years ago. This story reminds me of the one I wrote about more than a year ago now: Cleveland kidnap victims found, who turned up after nearly a decade.

10 years ago, a 25 year old woman went missing in California. The unnamed woman recently managed to contact her sister via Facebook. She got in touch with police shortly afterwards who she told that she had been forced to marry her captor, Isidro Garcia, 41, and have his child. Garcia was arrested on Tuesday upon suspicion of kidnap, rape and false imprisonment.

The woman disappeared from Santa Ana in Orange County in 2004 after suffering abuse at the hands of Mr Garcia who was at the time dating her mother. The abuse began in June, shortly after she had arrived into the US from Mexico. He then assaulted her mother, drugged the young woman and drove her to Compton in Los Angeles country 26 miles away where she was locked in a garage.

Police have stated: “Over the course of the following months and years, Mr Garcia repeatedly told the victim her family had given up looking for her and if she tried to go back to them, the family would be deported.”

The woman was sexually assaulted on multiple occasions, but even when she had the opportunity to escape did not do so as she had suffered so many years of abuse she believed she had “no way out of her situation” and had been brainwashed.

She was forced into marriage in 2007 using documents obtained from Mexico, and gave birth to a child in 2012. It wasn’t until recently that she got in touch with her sister on Facebook who informed her that they were still trying to find her, making her realise she had to get away. Finally she reported the abuse and abduction to the police on Monday.

Neighbours who lived nearby described how astounded they were at the news as they considered them a happy couple who doted on their daughter and hosted parties.

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Biggest dinosaur fossil ever discovered found in Argentina

Posted by on May 20, 2014 in News | 0 comments

A visit to Fernbank Museum of Natural History. I can’t help but report on this story because it’s just so cool – I think it’s every kid’s dream at some point to be an archaeologist or a palaeontologist (even though we don’t know what it’s called!), digging up the fossilised remains of carnivorous giants. Of course, it’s not all like that and most finds aren’t as exciting as this one, but as I said, this one is pretty spectacular.

Palaeontologists in Argentina have uncovered what currently appears to be the largest animal that has ever walked on the face of the earth: a titanosaur which is estimated to have weighed up to 77 tonnes. An estimate gleaned from the partial skeleton that has been found including its enormous thigh bones that dwarf a man says that the dinosaur was approximately 40m (130ft) long and up to 20m (65ft) tall, the height of a 7 storey building. Its weight makes it heavier than more than 14 fully grown African elephants, and even 7 tonnes heavier than the Argentinosaurus which previously held the record at 70 tonnes.

This skeleton is believed to be a new species of titanosaur, a huge herbivorous dinosaur which dates to the Late Cretaceous period between 95 and 100 million years ago. It would have lived and died amongst the forests of Patagonia.

The skeletons of seven dinosaurs in remarkable condition have been discovered at the site in the desert 135 miles from Trelew, Patagonia. Their skulls would been small, but their necks and tails very long. It is believed that these dinosaurs may have died during a drought or become stuck in mud since they were found so close together and with several carnivorous dinosaurs, who would have come to feed on the flesh, nearby.

The giant does not yet have a name. Researchers stated: “It will be named describing its magnificence and in honour to both the region and the farm owners who alerted us about the discovery.”

Argentinosaurus image courtesy of Steve Harwood.

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Parents stopped at Britain’s borders accused of kidnapping own children

Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Travel, UK | 0 comments

british passportDue to out of date passport systems at airports, ferry ports and Eurostar terminals, hundreds and thousands of innocent parents are being stopped by officials at Britain’s borders and being accused of kidnapping their own children.

Parents and children who have different surnames are being treated as suspicious, despite the fact that social changes have seen an increasing number of children not sharing a surname with a parent during recent years. Mothers who have remarried, unmarried parents and cohabiting couples, the fastest growing type of family in the country at present, are being stopped increasingly frequently and being forced to endure the embarrassment of having to prove that they are legal guardians to their children.

Despite there being a duty for immigration staff to screen for child abduction and trafficking, the problems it is causing for families are going beyond what is normal. The problem is with children’s passports that were introduced in the 1990s that list only the name, date and place of birth of the owner. There is now a campaign taking place that has reached Parliament to add both parents’ and guardians’ names to passports held by under 18s to help to solve the confusion at passport checks due to the impracticality of having to carry extra important documentation, sometimes up to seven additional documents, to prove a child’s guardianship.

A spokesperson from the Home Office commented: “A passport is a document for travel. Its fundamental purpose would change if it were to be used to identify a parental relationship. In order to protect children and detect possible cases of trafficking, Border Force officers may ask adults travelling with children about their relationship with the child. We endeavour to do this as quickly and sensitively as possible to ensure there is no delay to journeys. Safeguarding the interests of the child is of the utmost importance.”

What do you think? Should guardianship be added to passports to move things more quickly or is this unnecessary?

Image courtesy of Chris Fleming.

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