Friday, 15 February 2013

Top 10 things to do on a gap year

Taking a gap year can be the most memorable thing you’ll ever do, as long as you make some plans and see them through. In this article you can read about the top 10 things to do on a gap year, including travelling, working a season and volunteering abroad. If you want to travel, help people and boost your CV, check out Projects Abroad UK destinations to see what’s on offer.

Travel the world

This is quite general and sets the tone for the list. Think carefully about there you might want to go or maybe you already have a dream destination in mind. Remember that you might not have an extended period of time free like a gap year until you retire so it’s important to make the most of it!

Work a ski season

Ski resorts are amazing! It’s like being on a different planet when you’re up the mountains and you will have an amazing time. Don’t worry if you’ve not skied before, there will be plenty of opportunity to learn.

Work a summer season

If the sunshine and partying is what you’re all about, why not take on a season? It’s probably best to set something up before you go, that way you’ll have board and accommodation all paid for.

Enhance your skills

You’ll find plenty of opportunities to build your CV on a gap year and one way is to take on an internship. You’ll have fun, gain experience and develop professional contacts. It may even lead to a job.

Teach English abroad

You can take a course before you go or learn abroad. You’ll meet great people, get paid and will have learned a useful new skill.

Take the Inca trail

Many people head to Peru to tackle the incredible Inca Trail. It’ll be a challenge but when you reach Machu Picchu it will all be worth it!

Explore Asia

Go to the Far East and check out Asia. Head for Thailand to visit the beautiful islands and Japan to experience the unique culture.

Take Route 66 across the US

One of the most fun and interesting ways to explore the USA is to take the old Route 66 from Chicago all the way to Los Angeles.

Try skydiving

If you are brave enough, try skydiving or something else that is way out of your comfort zone! Use the time to try new things and push yourself to your limits.

Make a difference by volunteering

If you fancy spending your gap year volunteering, head off abroad and help those who are less fortunate than you. Whether it’s with orphans in Africa, working with communities in South America or helping in a medical centre in Asia, you’ll have the most rewarding experience.

Resource Box
The Guardian’s section on gap year advice.
Key questions about gap years from the BBC’s website.
Article in the Telegraph about travelling Route 66 on the classic motorbike.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Top 10 ways to invest in the new year

1. Property

With property prices at their lowest for many years, 2013 could be a good year to purchase a second property and enter the rental market. There are always risks attached to property investments: prices could fall even further or you may find yourself saddled with problem tenants. This is not a short-term investment but it could be extremely lucrative.

2. Stocks and shares

There is a great deal of satisfaction to be gained from cherry-picking shares which go on to perform well. The key to success is to diversify your shareholdings or, if this option requires too much research, you could invest in a stock fund and let the fund manager do the leg-work for you.

3. Stock funds

These funds can be used to invest in a particular industry, so you can target your investment towards newer technology companies or well-established ‘blue chip’ companies. Fund managers have the benefit of specialised financial systems, such as those provided by APT.

4. Bonds

Bonds are typically a lower-risk investment as you effectively lend money to the bond issuer (normally a government or large corporation). You will receive a guaranteed interest rate for the life of the bond plus the return of your initial investment once the bond matures.

5. Bond funds and income funds

Instead of choosing to buy a particular bond, you may prefer to spread the risk over a number of different types of bond by pooling your money with other investors in a bond or income fund. Whilst generally considered lower risk, you must be aware of both interest rate and credit risk.
6. Gold

Whilst gold is a commodity, it merits a special mention due to the huge demand for gold, and the resultant increase in price. This is why so many ‘cash for gold’ type companies have appeared over the last couple of years. There is some debate over whether or not the recent price slump is serious but it could be an excellent time to buy.

7. The shale gas revolution

Despite the bad press, it looks as though ‘fracking’ is set to increase throughout 2013. Incredible as it may seem, the US could become self-sufficient in terms of energy supply and the UK is looking to follow suit.

8. Other commodities

Investing in commodities has become increasingly fashionable recently due to the huge price rise for commodities such as oil and base metals. However, caution should be exercised as the bite of the global recession can be felt in this once-lucrative market. There are still some commodities, including meat and water, which are extremely attractive to those looking to invest in 2013.

9. Investing in emerging markets

The hot topic of 2012 was investment in emerging markets and this trend is set to continue in 2013. The hub of wealth appears to be moving from West to East and it’s worth considering investing part of your portfolio in emerging markets. To help you decide which emerging market to pick, consult a market risk model which will estimate risk for different asset classes within a given market.

10. Alternative investments

If you would rather put your hard-earned cash into something more tangible then an alternative investment may suit you. When consumer prices start to climb, history has shown that there is money to be made from investing in artworks, fine wines, classic cars and other luxury items that should continue to appreciate in value.


Guardian article explaining why would-be first time buyers are being forced to rent

London Stock Exchange

A Wikipedia article on emerging markets

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The top 10 best actors from the Golden globes.

Golden Globe winning actors.

Daniel-Day Lewis unsurprisingly won the 2013 Golden globe for the best actor thanks to his masterful portrayal of the well known figure in his role of “Lincoln”.
Here is the top 10 list of Actors who have previously won this prestigious award over the past ten years.

2003 – Jack Nicholson.
Well-known actor Jack Nicholson won the award for Best Actor back in 2003, for his role as Warren Schmidt in the American comedy-drama film ‘About Schmidt’ which was loosely based on the novel by Louis Begley and directed by Alexander Payne.

2004 – Sean Penn.
Back in 2004 Sean Penn won the award for Best Actor, following his role as Jimmy Markum in the American Drama film ‘Mystic River’. This film was directed, co-produced and scored by the legendary Clint Eastwood. 

 2005 - Leonardo Dicaprio.
American biographical Drama film ‘The Aviator’ led heart-throb Leonardo Dicaprio to Golden Globe victory when he won the award in 2005 for playing the character of Howard Hughes. This film was directed by the prolific Martin Scorsese. 

2006 - Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Hoffman is another who was presented the valued award in 2006, when he was recognized for portraying the role of Truman Capote in the biographical film about Truman Capote,  a film which, directed by Bennett Miller was based on Gerald Clarke’s biography ‘Capote’. 

2007 - Forest Whitaker.
African-American actor, producer, and director Forest was awarded the globe for best actor in 2007. He earned this award thanks to his critically acclaimed depiction of character of Idi Amin, in the British Drama “The last king of Scotland”, directed by Kevin MacDonald.

2008 – Daniel-Day Lewis.
Well loved and respected Lewis features once again in this list. He received the globe for best actor in 2008 when his characterization of Daniel Plainview in the American Drama film “There will be blood” ensured him the honour of this award once again. This film was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. 

2009 – Mickey Rourke.
‘Tough guy’ Mickey Rourke was a winner of the Best actor globe in 2009. He received this award due to his work in the film “The Wrestler”, directed by Darren Aronofsky. He was cast as the leading character of Robin Ramzinski.
2010 - Jeff Bridges.
“Bad blake” , the leading role in the American drama film “Crazy heart” won Jeff Bridges the award in 2010. Crazy heart, directed by Scott Cooper received great critical acclaim, with 91% of critics rating the film as good.

2011 - Colin Firth.
British historical drama film “The Kings Speech” secured Firth the best actor globe in 2011. Directed by Tom Hooper the film was well received andiIn the UK and Ireland, the film was the highest earning film on its opening weekend.

2012 – George Clooney.

Chiselled ladies man George Clooney won the award in 2012 for his role as Matt King in the American Drama “The Descendants”. This film was directed by Alexander Payne, and is based on a novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings of the same name.