Milton Keynes centre may become architectural treasure by Christmas.
Its grid-pattern layout, concrete underpasses and roundabouts have long made it the butt of jokes for some, but the centre of Milton Keynes could soon be recognised among Britain’s architectural treasures.
The culture minister, Barbara Follett, is considering official recommendations to have the town’s 1970s central shopping area designated as a listed building on the same level as the Tate Gallery in London.
English Heritage is backing calls for the half-mile long covered retail area, known officially as “The Centre”, to be given a “grade II*” listing which would put it into the top five per cent of all buildings in the country.
Surrounded by concrete flyovers and dominated by rectangular glass and steel structures, it could soon be afforded the same protection as stately homes, country churches and grand Victorian railway stations.
Supporters have hailed the geometric complex, one of the world’s longest shopping malls, as a landmark of post-war architecture. But retailers have been privately fighting the listing, believing it is “just a shopping centre”. The decision, is expected before Christmas!
Source: The Telegraph
Online bookies Paddy Power is now taking bets on which game will top the all-formats chart this Christmas.
The favourite is Call of Duty: World at War, with odds of 5/2 at the time of writing. FIFA ‘09 is close behind at 4/1, followed by Need for Speed Undercover (5/1). Gears of War 2, LittleBigPlanet, PES 2009 and Resistance 2 have all been given odds of 8/1.
Our money’s on Monopoly (150/1) or perhaps even Resident Evil Zero (250/1). You can see the full rundown over at the Paddy Power website.
Source : Eurogamer
Cartoon favourites Wallace and Gromit will return to BBC One at Christmas with their latest half-hour adventure. A Matter of Loaf and Death sees inventor Wallace and his dog Gromit open a bakery.
It reunites Oscar-winning animator Nick Park with Bob Baker, co-writer of The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave. “Over the years, the BBC has been incredibly supportive of Wallace and Gromit,” said Park. “This film feels like their homecoming.”
The film - originally entitled Trouble At’ Mill - marks Wallace and Gromit’s first appearance since their 2005 film The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
Peter Sallis will again provide the voice of Wallace with Coronation Street star Sally Lindsay playing his new love interest Piella Bakewell.
“I love making films for the cinema but the production of Chicken Run and Curse of the Were-Rabbit were virtually back to back,” said Park. “Each film took five years to complete,” he continued, saying A Matter of Loaf and Death had been “so much quicker to make.”
BBC One controller Jay Hunt said she was “delighted” to be premiering the latest instalment which she promised would be “unmissable family entertainment”. The film is described as “a classic ‘who-doughnut’ mystery… in the tradition of master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock”.
Source: The BBC
A plan by a council-funded charity to ban the word Christmas from this year’s festive celebrations has been criticised by religious leaders of all denominations.
Oxford city council confirmed the events in the city would be renamed ‘Winter Light Festival’to make them more inclusive, provoking outrage among shoppers in the city who called for a return to tradition.
The idea has come from the charity Oxford Inspires, the cultural development agency for the county, which runs the celebrations.
Sabir Hussain Mirza, chairman of the Muslim Council of Oxford, said: “I am really upset about this. Christians, Muslims and other religions all look forward to Christmas.” Fr Brian Van-Dungey, a priest in Garsington, Oxon, said: “I am a Christian and pleased to see my Muslim brothers joining in the condemnation of this stupid and dangerous idea; this sort of thinking creates racial problems and should be stopped in its tracks.”
Rabbi Eli Bracknell, who teaches at the Jewish Educational Centre in the city, said: “It is important to maintain a traditional British Christmas. Anything that waters down traditional culture and Christianity in the UK is not positive for the British identity.”
Oxford Inspires spokesman Tei Williams said: “In Oxfordshire we have Winter Light which is a whole festival spanning two months. Within that festival will be Christmas Carol services.”
Source: The Telegraph
This year the theme for the Regent Street lights is ‘stars’ and the famous “mile of style” will be transformed into a winter wonderland for Christmas shoppers. Since the 1950s international celebrities have turned on the lights to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.
Past personalities include HRH The Prince of Wales, Kylie Minogue, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sylvester Stallone and Sir Ian McKellen.
Danny from McFly said: “We’re really excited to be switching on the Regent Street Christmas lights.
“So many great people have done it in the past. “It’s also fantastic that BBC Children in Need are involved. “Hopefully we can help encourage people to think of ideas to raise even more money this year”.
McFly are releasing an official single for BBC Children in Need, which helps disadvantaged children and young people across the UK. The switch-on event is supporting the charity with many of the Regent Street retailers collecting donations throughout the week.
This year Hollyoaks star John Pickard, who plays the character Dominic Reilly, will MC the event and the London Gospel Community Choir will be performing a selection of songs from the stage keeping the audience entertained in the lead up to McFly switching on the lights.
The Regent Street Christmas lights are one of London’s major tourist attractions and draw a huge number of visitors each year.
source: This is Lancashire
After months in development Happy Christmas (or HC for short) are pleased to announce “WE HAVE A NEW WEBSITE, YEAH”.
After spending months listening to feedback and comments from our beautiful users (that’s you :-)) we have tried to create something a little bit different yet functional to help with all your Christmas needs. So what’s the big deal?
Well, apart from our trendy new look you may notice some major improvements? We now have a new and improved price comparison shopping portal which includes over 100k products from some of the UKs largest and most established retailers (see all our suppliers).
We also aim to bring to you the latest discount codes and offers, you will find these listed on the blog and it is possible to RSS them straight to your desktop so you never miss that next money saving idea.
On top of this you will also find new and improved E-Cards, Games, Facebook Apps and Christmas Info. We also have loads more planned for the coming months delivering great Christmas Fun, News, Info and Shopping all year.
Thanks for reading, any comments? Speak up, we can’t hear you at the back!
It’s a seductive deal: a pre-loaded “easy shop” card which lets you spend up to £500 at Argos, and repay the money in monthly instalments. But there’s a rather big sting: the interest rate can be as high as 222.7%.
Price comparison website uSwitch.com this week warned cash-strapped consumers, struggling to afford Christmas presents, to avoid expensive loans marketed by doorstep credit firms. Some of these come in the form of pre-paid plastic cards and gift vouchers accepted by popular, well-known stores. It comes amid mailings being sent out nationwide by Provident Personal Credit, the largest doorstep-collection home lender, to promote its products.
These include the “easy shop” card which comes with a pre-loaded loan of £100-£500 to spend in any Argos store (or pass on as a gift to someone else to spend) which borrowers then have to pay back in fixed weekly instalments at a typical APR of 222.7% over 27 weeks or 183.2% over 56 weeks.
Weekly repayments are collected immediately, even if the cardholder has not spent anything. The lender also sells gift vouchers - which work in the same way, with an APR of up to 222.7% - that can be spent in 97 high street stores including Woolworths, Topshop, HMV, Debenhams and House of Fraser.
Louise Bond, personal finance manager at uSwitch.com, says: “Despite being attached to well-known and trusted brands, people shouldn’t be fooled into thinking these are anything other than a sub-prime loan with an inflated APR.
“It seems they are just cashing in on desperate consumers who need relatively small amounts of money quickly. These customers may not care how much they have to pay back as they are just focused on the Christmas period.”
Provident Personal Credit’s main business is offering small cash loans - normally between £50 and £500 - to people on low incomes who often have a poor credit history. An agent calls to collect a fixed repayment each week.
Interest rates on cash loans are even higher than those on the store-linked gift vouchers and card. A £300 cash loan repaid at £15 a week over 31 weeks, for example, will end up costing £465 - a typical APR of 365.1%. Yet, despite the higher cost, 90% of the lender’s 1.7 million existing customers opt for cash loans.
“We can give a slightly better rate on vouchers and cards than for cash because we negotiate a discount on products with the retailers who accept them,” says Provident spokesman David Stevenson. “But most want cash because they can spend it anywhere they find a bargain.”
Bond adds: “We’d strongly advise people to exhaust every other avenue first before (taking out these sorts of loans) and to consider scaling down your spending.”
Source: The Guardian
NIGELLA Lawson has told how she once made her children give their Christmas presents to charity.
The domestic goddess wanted to show her teenage daughter and son how lucky they are. She said they could only keep one gift and the rest went to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London.
Another Christmas favourite. In England the Christmas Cake is traditionally a fruit cake. However in Japan they prefer a sponge either way remember to soak with copious amounts of brandy! Try this fruity little number…
Serves: 6 (comfortably)
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: 3 ½ hours
Sultanas: 125 grams
Currants: 125 grams
Raisins: 125 grams
Mixed peel: 125 grams
Almonds: 125 grams (optional)
Grated carrot: 125 grams
Butter: 125 grams
Sugar: 200 grams
Water: 125 ml
Brandy: 50 ml (optional)
Salt: ¼ teaspoon
Biocarbinate of soda: 1 teaspoon
Flour: 225 grams
Cinnamon: ¼ teaspoon
Nutmeg: ¼ teaspoon
Ground ginger: ¼ teaspoon
Mixed Spice: ¼ teaspoon
1. Firstly start by placing the butter, sugar and water into a large thick based pan and boil until a caramel stage is reached.
2. Stir in the dried fruit and mix well until all the fruit is covered with the carameled sugar, at this stage add the brandy, salt and bicarbonate of soda
3. Mix all the spices together with a touch of water until it turns into a paste, then add this to the mixture
4. Stir in the sifted flour
5. Finally stir in the beaten eggs
6. Place the mixture into a 20cm x 5cm round cake tin greased and lined with greaseproof paper
7. Bake in a pre heated oven at 100°C for 3 ½ hours
8. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from cake tin and cool on a wire rack
Royal icing is the traditional covering of wedding, and other celebration cakes. It dries very hard. With a little patience and artistic skills it can be fashioned to any form and with the addition of a little food colouring it can satisfy any creative calling. A traditional Christmas recipe for a full flavoured rich Christmas Cake.
Icing sugar: 400 grams
Egg whites: 3
Glycerine: 2 drops
1. Sieve the icing sugar twice
2. Mix in the egg whites and the glycerine
3. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until the mixture is stiff and can support itself.
Originating in England the traditional Christmas Pud can be dated right back to 1420! Serve on Christmas day with a healthy pouring of brandy. (Also know as Plum Pudding)!
Serves: 8 (easily)
Preparation time: 1 day
Cooking time: 8 hours 30 minutes
150g dried apricots, roughly chopped
30g mixed peel, finely chopped
150ml brown ale
2 tbsp dark rum
100g fresh white breadcrumbs 100g suet
50g self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
pinch of ground ginger
pinch of salt
225g dark brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
zest and juice of half an orange
zest and juice of half a lemon
1 dessert apple, cored and grated or finely chopped (peel left on)
1. Start this recipe the day before by soaking the dried fruit in the rum and brown ale, cover and leave at least 12 hours or overnight. (The longer you leave the fruit soaking the stronger the taste!) Some traditional recipes leave the dried fruit soaking for weeks before!
2. Lightly grease your pudding bowl. Sift the flour and spices into a separate large basin then begin to add the suet, breadcrumbs and brown sugar. Add the eggs, zest and juice from the orange and lemon, the fruit with all its juices, the nuts, (if using) and the grated or chopped apple. Mix thoroughly then spoon into your lightly greased bowl.
3. All important! - How to steam your pudding: Cover the pudding by using two sheets of greaseproof paper cut slightly larger than the basin with your mix in. Lay them on top of each other and make a pleat down the middle by folding the layers over on themselves, about an inch wide. This allows for the pudding to rise while steaming. Do the same with a piece of foil and place on top of the greaseproof paper. Lay the paper and foil on top of the basin and tie a string tightly around the rim of the basin, thus securing the paper and foil. It is helpful to make a ‘handle’ with another piece of string to help you remove the basin from the pot. Trim some of the excess paper and foil.
4. If you have a steamer large enough to hold the pudding basin, fill the bottom with water and bring to the boil. If using a large saucepan, place the pudding inside and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the basin but not touching the string or paper. Cover the steamer or saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for eight hours. Keep the kettle full of boiled water, checking the pan from time to time and topping up with water. Whatever you do, don’t allow the pan or steamer to boil dry!
5. After eight hours, remove the pudding using the string handle and allow to cool completely. Remove the string, greaseproof paper and foil and re-tie with fresh.
6. Store in a cool, dark, dry place for up to a year (again this recipe is all about time the longer you can leave your pudding the stronger and more flavorsome the end result) If you want to feed the pudding with more rum, unwrap and poke long holes with a cocktail stick or skewer. Drizzle a tablespoonful over the top and rewrap, remembering to make another string handle.
7. When ready to serve on Christmas Day, steam for another two hours. Carefully unwrap the hot pudding and invert onto a serving plate. To fire the pudding, fill a large soup ladle with rum or brandy and carefully light with a match. Gently ladle the flaming liquid over the pudding and garnish with a sprig of holly. Serve with brandy butter, rum sauce or cream . Delicious, the traditional English Christmas Day desert