Wednesday, 6 June 2012

10 ways to make a date in London amazing

If you’re heading to London for a romantic date with your partner or new love you will find oodles of things to do. But with so much choice how can you make the best of your time together and enjoy the city too? Here is a guide to the top ten ways to make your London date amazing. 

1. Walk

Forget the crowds and sweat of the tube, the best way to get around London is on foot. Walking through new areas will heighten your sense of adventure and give you and your date a chance to explore side streets and squares together.

2. Head to the river

The Thames is a big silt-filled river at the best of times, but a stroll along its banks can be a romantic way to take a rest from the crowds of the city. Head to the South Bank for picturesque views of St Paul’s and the city, or further out to places such as Richmond for country charm.

3. Hampstead Heath

Pack a picnic and your swimsuit in summer and head to the heath for a romantic walk through nature. This expanse of rolling heathland and woods is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with someone special.

4. The National Gallery

This central museum located on Trafalgar Square is an art haven in the centre of the capital. Entrance to the permanent exhibitions is free and there is plenty to explore. Stand next to your love match in front of a Turner and let the sparks fly.

5. Half-price restaurants

Taking your time over a romantic meal makes any date intimate and London has such a wide variety of eateries to choose from. London dating can be expensive if you plan to eat out several times a week. But there are many websites that offer discounted meals, so book in advance and enjoy half-price dining with all the flair of a top-notch restaurant.

6. Hire a Boris Bike

For the active dater who wants to explore the city further than is possible on foot, there is another way. Grab a Boris bike from one of the many blue hire stations inside central London and cycle around the city. 

7. Borough Market

Foodies will have a ball at this long-established farmer’s market that buzzes with London charm. Take your date on a tour of the market and sample international culinary delights along the way.

8. The Monument

For a cheaper and less crowded aerial view of the city, head up the Monument on the north side of London Bridge. For £2 you can climb the 311 steps to the top and enjoy spectacular views over the city.

9. Regent’s Park

Of all of London’s central parks the most romantic and wild is arguable Regent’s park. Once inside the park grounds the air seems to freshen, and as sounds of London Zoo resonate around you, it is easy to let your imagination run free and get lost with your partner.

10. Plan ahead

It’s great to be spontaneous, but when it comes to a date in London, planning is the key to success. It’s no fun wandering about waiting for something to happen. For dating tips you can follow the eHarmony UK Twitter profile for the latest info. Then decide where it is you want to go, and once your there, who knows what could occur!

Resource box
Urban walking guide for iPhone users
The Regent’s Park
A guide to the popular park
Taste card
Half-price dining deals

Friday, 1 June 2012

Top 10 tips for investing

To ensure that money makes a good return, investors need to do their homework. Use these 10 pointers as a guide to making wise investment decisions.

Conventional wisdom says that a fool and his money are soon parted. While most investors could hardly be called fools, that doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible to making regrettable decisions – especially those new to investing. To avoid expensive errors, consider these 10 points before assigning any money.

1. Assign a fixed amount
Decide how much you have to invest and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to spend more money if an investment goes awry.
2. Gauge your level of risk
The level of risk indicates the potential for money to be both made and lost. People who are investing in order to make money should choose relatively ‘safe’ options such as ISAs or bonds issued by the government, known as index-linked gilts. Those with money to play with can take the greater risks associated with stocks and shares – and potentially reap greater returns.
3. Diversify
Like eggs, investments should not all be put in one basket. A diversified portfolio reduces risk. Investors can manually invest in a number of different areas or sign up to something like a global equity fund, which will do it for them.
4. Keep calm
Make all investment decisions rationally. Seek second opinions on any advice you may receive.

5. Understand what you’re investing in

If you’re investing in a company, make sure you understand how that company works and what it does. Simply throwing money at a business that vaguely seems to be doing something interesting isn’t investing, it’s speculating. Buying shares is effectively buying a piece of the company, so do your research – reading its annual report is a good start.
6. Avoid fads
The investment industry is susceptible to fads like any other. For the first-time investor, these fads are best avoided. By the time news of a money-making certainty has reached the level of the masses, it will be anything but a certainty.

7. Understand pricing
You should always check the recent price performance of any share you are thinking of investing in. However, just looking at the fluctuations is meaningless in itself – you must understand why any changes have happened. Check the news to see how industry or management changes may have affected the company.
8. Set limits
Decide on a target profit for shares and sell them when this is reached. Similarly, set a maximum loss to dictate at what point to sell loss-making shares. This technique can help prevent novice investors from making large losses.

9. Respect the stalwarts
While investing in a start-up may seem glamorous, the chances are that it won’t be the next Big Thing. With their lack of demonstrable abilities, start-ups may have the potential for high returns, but they also have the potential for failure. Large companies with proven track records are far safer bets.
10. Make use of available tools
There are numerous tools available that can help investors reduce risk. For example, software available from can be used for portfolio construction, factor modelling and risk reporting.

Image sources (1,2)

Resource box
The beginner’s guide to investment
Expert opinion on the best investments for 2012
Preview of investment guru Warren Buffett’s annual letter