Entertainment

Entertainment

What’s the Coolest Thing You Can Do in the Desert?

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The desert may seem like an alien land full of misery and nothingness (nah, not really). If you are game, you can actually have tons of fun in a barren place such as a desert.

Dune Bashing

Hit the road, the desert road with your driving prowess and make your monster ride literally bash the sand dunes in a seemingly reckless, crazy manner. Dune bashing isn’t a family-friendly adventure and it has its set of risks, but if you’re a risk-taker, then this is definitely the desert activity for you.

Place to dune bash – Dubai

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Sand Boarding

Sliding down the slopes of the desert can be really fun. Sand boarding isn’t entirely exclusive to deserts, as it may be doable in sandy beaches. But since you’re in the desert, there’s limitless possibilities to sand board all you can from sun up till sun down. The only catch is – in order to sand board again, you’ll have to hike up the same distance you sand boarded down. It can get pretty tough and tiresome.

Places to sand board – Australia, Egypt, Maldives, Namibia, Philippines, South Africa, US, South America, and Germany.

Desert Hiking

Deserts are scenic places for hikes and treks, too. Some places have jugged, rocky formations that make up a nice diversion to the already common sandy landscapes. Just don’t forget to bring lots of knowledge about desert survival and safety, and water canteen.

Places to desert hike – Eastern Washington, California, Jordan, Bolivia, Chile, and Arizona.

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Quad Biking

If you don’t like the confines of a four-wheel drive truck, then perhaps a buggy or quad bike will do the trick. Hit the sandy path and drive around, blasting sand dunes after sand dunes. It can really be an amazing adventure, especially when you know you don’t have passengers to look after.

Places to desert quad bike – Namibia, Dubai, Morocco (Sahara), and Egypt.

Camel Riding

Of course, riding the camel is a top pick for the coolest thing to do in the desert. This hardy desert animal has long been used for transport and travel, and riding one can be an awesome experience.

Places to camel ride – Africa, Dubai, Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern countries.

2 New Fantasy Series to Watch in January 2016

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New year always means new opportunities and new chances, but that’s certainly not the only reasons why we’re eagerly looking forward to 2016.

We are rather more excited about the new series that will soon get us glued in front of our TV this January. 

The Shannara Chronicles 

Millions of Shannara fans all over the world are rejoicing – myself included! There’s nothing like seeing one of your favorite books come to life. Glad that MTV has decided to create more than just music videos.

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Anyway, The Shannara Chronicles is based on the “The Elfstones of Shannara”, the second book of the fantasy/science fiction book series Terry Brooks. The story is set in a fictional world called the Four Lands, a post-apocalyptic world where technology disappears and magic reappears. It consists of two plot lines. The first follows the quest of two teenage elves to replace the dying Ellcrys, a magical tree that serves as a gate that banished demons from the four lines. The second plot line revolves on the effort of the Elven armies and the other races (humans and dwarves) to slow down a massive demon invasion.

Shadowhunters

Based largely on the second book of “The Mortal Instruments” by Cassandra Clare, Shadowhunters is a freeform television series set to premiere this January 12.

The book was originally set for film adaptation but producers had a change of heart.

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“It actually makes sense to do (the novels) as a TV series. There was so much from the book that we had to leave out of the Mortal Instruments film. In the series we’ll be able to go deeper and explore this world in greater detail and depth,” said Constantin Film and TV head Martin Moszkowicz during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Shadowhunters follows the story of New York City girl Clary Fray who descended from a line of shadowhunters, half-human and half-angel warriors who protect humanity from evil forces. After her mother’s disappearance, Clary joins forces with the shadowhunters and enters the Downworld (a realm filled with demons and other creatures) in search of a cup that holds the key to her mother.

Sneak Peek into the Year-End Spending Habits of Millionaires

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What would you buy if money were not a problem? The latest Benz or a castle estate? Well, here’s a peek into what millionaires have been busy buying last Christmas and how much they spent.

CNBC Millionaire Survey reveals that 50 percent of today’s millionaires spent $1,000 for the holidays, 30 percent spent at least $2,500. The Survey goes on to say that 75 percent of today’s millionaires spent the same amount as the past year’s Christmas, and only 15 percent spent less in 2013, and the remaining 10 percent increased their holiday spending.

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The Survey adds that millionaires weren’t buying much material things last Christmas. In fact, they invested more on family and experiences by spending more for gift cards, events and travel.

If you look at the report, you’ll observe that millionaires were quite frugal in that most of them spent a meager budget and chose not to increase their spending in Christmas 2014. And it might come as a surprise considering that these affluent individuals have all the money to buy so many or so much.

Middle-income earners and those earning lesser should take this report as a guide in managing personal finances. Christmas may offer lots of cash bonuses and rewards, but it’s never frugal to spend so much on fleeting things.

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Spend time and money with your family and friends, and create memorable moments together. You don’t have to spend a lot on Christmas. Even millionaires aren’t spending millions on Christmas, just a few thousand bucks. If you are earning only a few thousands, then spend just a few hundreds. But make sure that the money you spent leaves a memorable trail for your loved ones.

When the holidays end, you’ll have plenty of moments to cherish and you’ll still have plenty of money for whatever financial plans you may have. It’s ridiculous for people to spend everything they’ve got during the holidays – feast and party all they can, and then suffer considerably at the onset of the New Year. Be like today’s millionaires.

3 Book-to-Film Adaptations to Watch Out for in 2015

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While books turned into films isn’t something new, we’ve been seeing lots of them a lot lately. Heck, even one whole books can be cut down to two parts (Hi, Hunger Games!) and even three (Hello, Peter Jackson!). That said, there are some really cool adaptations coming out this 2015 and here are some you should look forward to:

Inherent Vice

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This adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s work stars Joaquin Phoenix and sees Paul Thomas direct something quite different from the drama The Master. What makes this even more intriguing is this is the first Pynchon novel to be adapted for the screen. It’s the story of how a private detective becomes entangled in a strange case after his ex-girlfriend asks for help. It also stars Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson and Benicio del Toro.

In the Heart of the Sea 

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Chis Hemsworth is having himself a busy 2015. He will be starring in Blackhat, Avengers: Age of Ultron and In the Heart of the Sea. You know about that classic Moby Dick? It’s the story about the whale that isn’t exactly about the whale (oops … spoiler alert). Well, this film is about the Whaleship Essex (which inspired Moby Dick) which sank after being attacked by a sperm whale in 1820 and what happened to her crew.

Child 44

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The novel by Tom Robb Smith was such an acclaimed work that painted a picture of criminality during the Soviet era. The book was such a page turner when it was released in 2008 and now you get to see it in film. The story centers around a former MGB agent who investigates a series of child murders. Daniel Espinosa – the Swedish director who impressed with Snabba Cash (Easy Money) – is at the helm. It stars Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Dev Patel and Tywin Lannister (yes, Charles Dance is here!). Also in the film is Joel Kinnaman, star of Easy Money.

Other notable mentions include The Martian (starring Matt Damon and yes, another space film), Paper Towns (because the world needs John Green) and Fifty Shades of Grey (Happy Valentines!).

Top artists in London

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Katy Moran

Katy Moran is an exciting talent, specialising in an abstract style that evokes memories of this powerful post-war movement that was unlike anything the world had ever seen.

Her work continues this legacy, all the while adding her own distinct voice in a very contemporary sense. There’s a lot going on in her work, thick with paintings and lavish with ideas, making them compelling viewing.

She lets the work evolve naturally and once remarked that the composition of any given painting concludes when she finally ‘sees something’.

As she once told Phaidon: “Painting’s exciting – it’s about pretending you are out of control, trying to introduce accident, chance and things that are unplanned that interest and surprise you more than anything you have consciously or intellectually conceived.”

Charles Willmott

Powerful, passionate and supremely brilliant, Charles Willmott is one of the best figurative realists working in the UK, a master of capturing something human in his paintings.

He inspired by what he describes as three main disciplines – the art of dance, the beauty of the female form and the magic of portraiture – and the artistic rendering of this has been his life’s preoccupation.

“As subject matter I would probably have to confess to a near obsession with dance, particularly the ballet,” he has previously said.

“I’ve enjoyed the privilege of working with many greats, like Darcey Bussell, Miyako Yoshida, Monica Zamora, Kevin O’Hare, Catherine Batcheller and Joe Cipolla … My admiration for the beauty and grace of dancers has deepened my interest in distilling the essence of the female form.”

Charles Willmott
Charles Willmott

Kathleen Herbert

Inspired, intrigued and invigorated by the idea of ‘space and place’ and the narratives that they hold within them, Kathleen Herbert is an inquisitive artist keen on learning more about the world and then delivering the stories she comes across in a unique way through her work.

“I enjoy researching the apparent uninteresting or unsaid, which through further investigation reveal social political, and spatial narratives which are defined and redefined through history,” she has explained.

They can take on an uneasy form. For example, one of her films, Stable, which came into existence after someone had made a casual reference to horses being kept in Gloucester Cathedral’s, sees the animals given the liberty to explore the church.

That strange juxtaposition, all at once real and mythological, has a real impact on the viewer, challenging them to engage with the past in a more physical and emotive way. Was this story real? If not, it is now.

Christian Furr

Christian Furr made history in 1995, when at the humble age of 28, he became the youngest ever artist to receive a commission to paint an official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

He has gone on to be a successful artist, specialising in the duality of life, from the good to the bad, the happy to the sad and light to dark. In addition, he documents the so-called insignificant moments of life, the events (or non-events) that occur in-between that which we determine to be significant.

In an essay entitled The Representation of Beauty, the writer Maria Pia Cappello described Furr as a “great painter that uses Newton’s optical theories suggesting subjective analysis, states of mind, happiness, warmth and anxiety”.

This suggests the artist’s preoccupation of the human experience, which confounds and excites. Life, if we brood on it too deeply, can seem so strange and beautiful, that it can beggar belief that we exist at all.

Cadogan Tate has a long history of delivering high quality fine art transport, shipping and storage solutions.

Creating a themed BBQ party

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So you’ve had a major BBQ party – or perhaps even several – every year. They always go down well and you’ve perhaps even perfected your recipes so well on that Weber from Wow BBQ that guests are guaranteed culinary class. Yet it feels like perhaps you need to mix things up a bit.

Why not create a bit of a different feel for your next BBQ by opting for a themed event?

BBQs can be impromptu affairs where you bring out the grill to cook things up just because you fancy doing it that day. Obviously, the themed party option is more geared towards a big, more highly organised and less off-the-cuff event!

We thought we’d provide you with just a handful of ideas that might make the theme party process that bit more simple!

Pick a theme

It all starts with choosing a theme. You want to aim for something personal that you’ll enjoy – but that also resonates with your guests and won’t be too tricky for them to take part in. Go for something broad in scope, that can be applied to a variety of different parts of your bash.

For example, a good theme for a BBQ might be something along the lines of The USA. BBQ foods commonly have links to the States, so you could easily put together a great menu based on this theme. And it can also be easily incorporated into people’s dress if you fancy. For example, a fancy dress do where people dress as US celebs would be one road to go down, while something more subtle could involve simply a US themed dress code – meaning people could turn up in jeans and probably still be considered to be part of the theme!

BBQ Party
BBQ Party

Tell your guests

Guests might need a little bit more time to prepare for a themed party, so its a good idea to get the word with plenty of time to spare. You might want to make your invites reflect your theme, and your craft skills could well come in handy here. Make sure you give everyone the details of exactly what the theme entails on their part – for example, the sort of dress code you’re encouraging for the event, the sorts of food and drink it might be good for them to bring. But don’t be too prescriptive or people might be put off and feel like they are being too tied down by your theme.

Arrange your menu

Don’t overface yourself by trying to be too ambitious with the menu, but do think about how the things you make could be linked to the theme. For the US theme we talked about above, this is easy to think about. For some other themes, a little more imagination might be needed. But remember to have fun with the connections you make!

Devise your activities

Themed activities can also be a good bet. Music that suits your theme can add just the right soundtrack to the occasion, and games that link to the theme can also be great – USA quiz, anyone?

A luxury hotel recreates poverty conditions for tourists

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In the South African city of Bloemfonteine​​, a hotel chain called Emoya Luxury Hotel & Spa has adapted an apartment complex to simulate the South African villages where they live in misery. This complex, called The Shanty Town, has adopted the “Play to be poor for a while” slogan, and it’s designed for upper-class tourists who want to feel poor for a few days without sinking their feet in the mud.

Shanty Town scenario
The Shanty Town scenario

The “poor village” has 12 cottages that keep a poverty facade (with wood and tin houses), so that those ones who fantasize about being homeless for a few days don’t stop feeling the comfort. The surroundings and the history of the place were reconstructed following business purposes: the cabins are immersed in an waste environment (placed there as the attrezzo), the bathroom is out of the houses and tourists are encouraged to heat water in street bonfires.

The Shanty Town website says: “Now you can experience how it is to stay in a hut inside a private reserve. It is the only village in the world equipped with heating and Wi-Fi … The huts are ideal for teamwork, luxury themed parties or for havig a life experience. Our theme park is completely safe and child friendly.”

Slum-themed huts
Slum-themed huts

For an estimated per night of about $80 (150 thousand pesos), equivalent to half the South African average monthly salary, adults and children can spend a night in a similar cabin to the ones in poor areas of the country. The idea, according to Emoya Luxury Hotel, is to put the tourists in contact with poverty in South Africa.

But the experience is not quite complete because the cottages are located in a private space that belongs to the hotel. Here guests have electricity, internet access, heating, bathroom with shower, and other facilities.

Obviously, this kind of fiction meant for the rich to experience life like the poor got several criticisms. In particular, considering that in Africa the majority of the population lives in extreme poverty.

France and football | The perfect combination?

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France is a country that draws millions of visitors every year. In fact, in 2012 it received 83 million visitors, according to a survey by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation – making it the most popular holiday destination in the world.

The attractions that people flock to see in France vary enormously but for many visitors there’s one thing that can’t be missed and that’s a trip up the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Since it was first constructed over 200,000,000 people have gone up to one of its levels – via elevator or by using the stairs.

Other popular attractions that draw visitors from all around the world include Mont St Michel in Normandy, an island medieval town that is separated from the mainland by the tide each day. People make the journey across the sands to visit the beautiful winding streets of Mont St Michel and see the beautiful Benedictine Abbey of St Michel at the top of the island.

On the Atlantic coast, there’s a natural wonder to visit – the Dune du Pyla. Found in the Arcachon Bay near Bordeaux, this is the tallest sand dune in Europe and climbing to the summit may take a lot of energy, but you will appreciate the breath-taking views at the top – out to the Atlantic one way and over acres of pine forest the other. Then there’s the Gorge du Verdon – a 15 mile canyon with cliffs rising 2,300 ft either side of the River Verdon. You can take part in water sports galore on this beautiful emerald green river, as well as doing climbing and canyoning activities in the gorge.

France and Football
France and Football

Of course, these are just a few of the highlights of this rich and varied country. There are cathedrals, palaces and museums galore to explore, then there are the different wine-growing regions and the sophisticated French Riviera towns to visit and ogle the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

In 2016, France will expect to receive an extra surge of visitors during the month-long 2016 UEFA European Championship – otherwise known as Euro 2016. Two years after the FIFA Cup in Brazil, this is the next big thing on the international footballing calendar and will see 24 nations battling it out for the Championship. The tournament will start off with a group stage and then there will be three round of knock-out games before the final on 10 July. The qualifier matches are taking place between September and November this year.

France has won the tournament twice, but current favourite with the bookies to win in 2016 is Germany. If you’re into sports betting you can check out the odds on Euro 2016 on sites like Bet365 and Paddy Power.

Nine cities will be providing the match venues for the tournament and these include Bordeaux, Lille, Lens, Marseilles, Nice, Lyon, Paris, St-Etienne and Toulouse. Any one of these cities will make an ideal base for a visitor who not only wants to see the football but also wants to spend a week or two discovering just why France is the world’s most popular tourist destination. Get the guide books out now and decide where you’ll be for Euro 2016.

Tips on getting the perfect tan during your beach holidays

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It’s summer time! Everyone is already on holidays or planning their next excursion on the beach. What’s more attractive than a great tan during the summer? Read on for some great tips on how to achieve the perfect tan and protect yourself during your beach holidays!

It's time to get tanned!
It’s time to get tanned!

Save yourself from sunburn

Stay away from the sun by prefering the shade of an umbrella between 12 and 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Your aim to get tanned has to with the quality so you don’t want to spend way too much time under the burning sun. It is good to dedicate about an hour a day to sunbathing, spending 15 minutes on each side of your body and taking breaks for diving.

Eat foods that help you get tanned

The foods with vitamin A and carotene help in the fast production of melanin and are considered your allies on tanning. According to a study by the University of Nottingham in England, students were asked to consume fruits rich in beta-carotene for several months and acquired increased pigmentation of the skin. This substance recreates the inner glow of sun-kissed skin. Therefore, buy sweet potatoes, apricots, mangoes, carrots, peaches, cantaloupe, spinach and tomatoes. Apart from the tanning part, they contain antioxidants that are able to protect your skin from premature aging.

Carrots are great for you in more than one ways
Carrots are great for you in more than one ways

Drink plenty of water during the sun

Always have a bottle of cold water with you on the beach, to keep yourself hydrated and your skin fresh. Water extends the life of the cells of the body, giving you the opportunity for an even tan, while keeping your skin soft. Moreover, under the hot sun, your body needs plenty of water to restore its temperature and renew the levels of fluids.

Water will keep you hydrated and your skin soft during your tanning time
Water will keep you hydrated and your skin soft during your tanning time

Exfoliate to get rid of dead skin cells

Scrub with a homemade sugar peeling two times a week, before you get to the beach, so get rid of the dead skin cells, This process will make your skin glow and will also give it the opportunity to develop new healthy cells and absord the tanning better. Women who exfoliate regularly acquire healthy skin, free of blemishes, which retains moisture and remains elastic and tanned. However, keep in mind that you should rub the sponge gently to avoid creating skin irritations.

Use a sunscreen with a high SPF rate and tanning oil

Under the dangerous rays of the sun, a sunscreen with a high protection rate will save you from burns and will offer you a gradual tan. Furthermore, if you use oil for tanning , make sure you buy one with moisturizing ingredients and a SPF rate of 8 or 10. Spread it evenly throughout the body, to avoid the possibility of uneven tanning. Consider your skin type and do not forget to put a generous amount on your back, elbows and knees.

Block the sun!
Block the sun!

For more on traveling check: Tips on saving money on traveling in Europe, Adventure travel with special specifications, Do it for Denmark! A contest to raise the low birthrate

By +Nikos Kontorigas