Saturday, June 4, 2011
A very big house in the country: Most expensive UK home outside London goes on sale for £75 MILLION
Last updated at 8:57 PM on 3rd June 2011
- Mansion boasts 103 rooms, five swimming pools, bowling alley and cinema
The most expensive country house in the UK has gone up for sale for £75million.
Updown Court has 103 rooms, five swimming pools, two penthouse apartments and a helipad. It stands in 58 acres of grounds.
The residence - in the Surrey village of Windlesham - was originally put up for sale with agents for £70million a few years ago.
Updown Court: This luxury mansion, in Windlesham, Surrey, is on the market for £75million
The enigmatic owner behind Updown is bricklayer's son-turned-property developer supremo Leslie Allen-Vercoe, 67.
His company Rhymer Investments purchased it in 2002 out of receivership for £20million - and has since spent at least £30million on renovation work.
Now, an Irish bank has requested a drive to sell the mansion with a new price tag which reflects the vast sums ploughed into it.
Stately home: The house has 103 rooms, five swimming pools, two penthouse apartments and a helipad
Grand entrance: The hallway has two cast-iron banistered staircases and a row of marble columns
The owner behind Updown Court is property developer Leslie Allen-Vercoe. His company Rhymer Investments purchased it in 2002 out of receivership for £20m
Extra agents, including retired property specialist Colin Penfold, 73, have also been called in as efforts are increased to clinch a sale.
Penfold said: 'It has just about every conceivable luxury. It think it has potential.'
The neo-classical California-style mansion was built in 2002 on the site of an earlier property which was owned during the 1970s by Prince Sami Gayed of Egypt.
The house, which has 24 bedrooms and 23 bathrooms, has been built with some of the world's rarest materials - mainly Italian marble.
Visitors approach the mansion, which is 30 miles from Central London, along a heated marble driveway.
The mansion has a 50-seat cinema, a two-lane bowling alley, a gymnasium, a squash court, a flood-lit tennis court, a lake, a wine cellar for 3,000 bottles and a 'panic room'.
Neighbours include Sir Elton John and Queen guitarist Brian May.
Suitable for sporty types: The mansion boasts five swimming pools and a tennis court
Strike: There is also a two-lane bowling alley
Mr Penfold, from Reigate, believes a wealthy overseas buyer may eventually snap up the property.
He has already had two inquiries - 'one from Surrey and one from abroad'.
Leslie Allen-Vercoe acquired Updown Mansions after a bizarre series of events.
The original Updown Court had been left as a shell after it had been damaged by fire in the Great Storm of 1987 - when a tree apparently fell and ruptured the gas main.
It was subsequently acquired by two investors who themselves were bankrupted and Mr Vercoe then stepped in.
'Yes, I'm an opportunist,' said Mr Vercoe. 'That's what all good businessmen should be.'
Beautiful garden: The £75million home stands in 58 acres of grounds
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1393994/Updown-Court-Most-expensive-UK-house-outside-London-goes-sale-75m.html#ixzz1OJeYI6t0
Stop stripping in the library! Oxford students threatened with disciplinary action over 'half-naked half-hour'
Last updated at 12:53 AM on 4th June 2011
Oxford dons have learned to put up with a number of eccentric traditions among students over the years.
But they have drawn the line at Half-Naked Half-Hour.
Undergraduates at Worcester College have been threatened with disciplinary action if they continue removing their tops in the library on Wednesday afternoons.
An Oxford University library (not the one pictured) has banned a 'half-naked half-hour' by students at Worcester College
A group of students calling themselves the Breakfast Club started stripping off in 2009 to brighten up boring revision days.
Up to 40 male and female students became involved in the group action for a 30-minute period between 3pm and 4pm every Wednesday
They carry on their work partly-clothed - some of the girls are even said to have removed their bras.
However high-profile visitors including heads of state regularly visit the library as part of a tour of the university, and there have been a string of complaints.
Librarians sent an email to the college saying the practice was 'unacceptable' and 'a distraction to other readers'.
In their email to students, the library committee warned: 'While half-naked half-hour may have seemed like a piece of harmless fun, we ask you please to stop this kind of behaviour in the library.
'If inappropriate behaviour continues, library staff will refer the matter to the Dean.
'It is not appropriate for groups of people to organise social or other kinds of events in the library without the permission of the librarian.'
The tradition of stripping off at the Worcester College library (pictured) was started in 2009 by a group of students calling themselves 'The Breakfast Club'
Members of the Breakfast Club reacted angrily to the ban, claiming it had 'quite literally left our college in a state of chaos'.
One member told student paper Cherwell: 'It came as a great shock to most of the college and scenes in the lower library that day were those of confusion and disarray.
'Half-naked half-hour has long been a tradition at Worcester College as a way of breaking up the monotony of a long day's revision and using the opportunity to cool down during the hottest periods of the day.'
But Chloe Cesar, a first-year Worcester student, said she backed the ban.
She added: 'I can see why the college decided to ban half-naked half-hour.
'For visitors to the library I expect it must have seemed a bit weird and I'm not surprised college took the action they did.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1393907/Oxford-University-students-threatened-disciplinary-action-library-stripping.html#ixzz1OJdX0wHK
High street shops to ban padded bras and 'sexually suggestive' clothes for young girls
By TIM SHIPMAN
Last updated at 2:08 PM on 4th June 2011
High street shops will be told not to sell padded bras and sexually suggestive clothes to children under guidelines to be unveiled on Monday.
The tough new rules coincide with the publication of a Government-commissioned review into the sexualisation of children by Reg Bailey, head of the Mothers' Union.
They reflect public disquiet about the marketing of suggestive clothes and sexual slogans targeted at young children.
Controversial products have included High School Musical-themed underwear with the slogan 'Dive In', Playboy stationery, and crop tops for young girls bearing the slogan 'future porn star'.
Mr Bailey's review, also published on Monday, demands that retailers sign a voluntary code of practice with clear rules on how to sell to children, rather than relying on the good taste of their buyers.
Tesco and Sainsbury's have already signed up to the new deal drawn up by the British Retail Consortium, along with George, the clothing range promoted by Asda.
Major high street stores including Marks & Spencer, Next, John Lewis, Debenhams, Argos and Peacocks have also agreed to comply.
The BRC's guidelines say: 'Slogans and imagery including licensed images and brand marks must be age-appropriate and without undesirable associations or connotations – for example, sexually suggestive, demeaning, derogative or political material.
'Humorous slogans need to be tested against a broad range of views as they can cause unforeseen and unintended offence.'
The guidelines warn that underwear ranges 'require the utmost care', ruling that 'knickers and pants must provide modesty. Thongs are not appropriate for children'.
Too much, too young: This padded bra is a fashion accessory targeted at eight-year-old girls and deemed 'not appropriate' by the report
And in a crackdown on products which seek to treat girls like women, they say: 'Vests and crop tops should also be designed for modesty with no need for structural support.
'Under-wiring is not necessary or appropriate for the smallest cup sizes. First bras should be constructed to provide comfort, modesty and support but not enhancement.
No mention should be made of enhancement or under-wiring in any children's ranges.'
Foreword: Sarah Teather, Lib Dem Minister for Children and Families, said she hopes the guidelines will be adopted by BRC members
Mr Bailey's review calls for a ban on children's swimwear in shop-window displays next to 'sexy' adult clothing.
It says: 'Sexualised and gender-stereotyped clothing, products and services for children are the biggest areas of concern for parents.
'By far the most contentious issue has been the availability of bras and bikini-style swimwear for under 16s.'
It says children under 16, including celebrities and sports stars, should be banned from acting as 'brand ambassadors' to sell products to youngsters – causing them to pester their parents for products.
The review found that 55 per cent of parents thought adult clothes styles for children 'encourage children to act older than they are'.
In a foreword to the guidelines, Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat Minister for Children and Families, writes: 'I hope that all the BRC members who operate in the children's market will adopt these guidelines for their business and that non-members will see the benefits of this kind of approach.'
Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said: 'Retailers are parents themselves and don't ditch their ethics at the store door.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1394123/High-street-shops-ban-clothes-sexualise-little-girls.html#ixzz1OJc1Ahxi
Friday, June 3, 2011
Most expensive BBQ in world is gold, worth £100k, and stressful to clean
With forecasters predicting a heatwave is set to hit the UK this weekend, more than a few people will be giving their BBQ a quick spring clean.
But none of the grills are likely to be as extravagant as one produced by BeefEater Barbecues, which is plated in 24-carat gold and will set you back £100,000.
The world's most expensive BBQ is plated with 24-carat gold
Everything but the cooking plates on the hand-built BBQ is covered in the precious metal, making users feel like they have a Midas touch.
Features of the specially-adapted Signature Series 6 Burner SL400 include a wok burner, roasting hood and warming rack – as well as a less-than-subtle gold glow.
Summing up the potential customers for its gold creation, BeefEater Barbecues said the grill was meant for people who 'want to make a statement with their barbecue and have the money to burn'.
Upon being awarded the accolade for the world's most expensive BBQ, Alan Chater, BeefEater European sales manager, said: 'It was purely made to see what we could do in terms of opulence, price and features.'
The weather in the UK this weekend is set to hit 30 degrees C, making it hotter than Casablanca, Morocco, and providing ideal conditions to light up the BBQ – even if it isn't made from 24-carat gold.
Read more: http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/864991-most-expensive-bbq-in-world-is-gold-worth-100k-and-stressful-to-clean#ixzz1ODalQHnj
It's all a bit tattoo much! Great-grandfather, 69, is Britain's most inked man
Last updated at 10:43 AM on 3rd June 2011
The 69-year-old has spent 52 years indulging in his bizarre hobby and now has tattoos not only across his arms, hands, legs, torso and back but also on the soles of his feet, bottom, entire head, lips and even his genitals.
The widower's last tattoo, which reads 'I love you always, love Tommy', was etched on the back of his head in honour of his late wife Sandra who died seven years ago aged 61, after 44 years together.
Pensioner Tommy Wells, from Worsley, Greater Manchester, has an incredible 1,000 tattoos covering every inch of his body
The design broke a promise the retired coach driver made to his wife before she passed away - assuring her he would keep his face and head design-free.
But it meant he could no longer get more tattoos done - because he has no more room left for further markings which already include various designs of skulls, daggers, flowers and the names of family members. Sandra had no tattoos done during her life.
Mr Wells, from Worsley, Greater Manchester, said: 'My tattooing days are probably over now because of all the tattoos that I have now.
'I did have some space left on my head after Sandra died but although I did promise I wouldn't have any done there, I was so upset at her passing that the only thing that I could do to make me feel better was have the tattoo.
'I just so hope that she can forgive me but I do have that feeling that heaven will be hell for me in the years to come.
'When she died she was cremated and her ashes went into an urn. I did say to my daughter, "Put me in there with her in a brown paper bag" because I know if Sandra sees me she will kill me!"'
Mr Wells has tattoos not only across his arms, hands, legs, torso and back but also on the soles of his feet, bottom, entire head, lips and even his genitals
Mr Wells met his wife at secondary school and they started dating when they were just 13.
Since he was 17 he has spent thousands of pounds on tattoos after getting his first while they were on holiday together in Blackpool as teenage sweethearts.
The couple had been for a picnic with friends and some of them were getting tattoos at a parlour there when Sandra dared Tommy to get one.
He added: 'We used to go on a picnic to Blackpool every year and this year, when we were 17, Sandra said to me, "Why don't you have one?"
'I had one on my arm, it was agony but I kind of loved the pain and it became a bit of a drug after then, so I got all my body covered except my head and face.
'She never had any tattoos herself but she didn't mind that I had them. She did at first but she stopped noticing that I had them after a while because I was so covered in them!'
The 69-year-old has spent thousands of pounds on tattoos after getting his first on holiday with his future wife in Blackpool at the age of 17
Once he had covered all parts of his body aside from his head and face, his wife implored him to stop.
Mr Wells said: 'I told (Sandra) there was always my face and head, and she was not happy about that! She said, "You're not getting your head and face tattooed! Promise me you won't."
'I did promise at the time, but after she died I was so devastated that the only thing that I could do to make me feel better was have a tattoo tribute to her - and my face and head were the only places I had left.
Mrs Wells died from a diabetic coma while in Lanzarote seven years ago.
Mr Wells appears to have passed on the tattooing tradition to his children - but he doesn't believe they will go as far as he has done.
'A couple of my children have started to get tattoos but there's no way that they will have as many as me as they won't live long enough to get them done!
'It's taken me 52 years to get all my body covered. I still live them and I would do the same if I had my time again.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1393842/Its-bit-tattoo-Great-grandfather-69-Britains-inked-man.html#ixzz1ODXukjkk
Laughs, friends and hugs: A new survey finds the best things in life are free
Last updated at 9:04 AM on 3rd June 2011
A new survey has revealed the things which bring a smile to our faces are in fact life's simple pleasures - available to all, for free, every single day.
When people were asked what their most important pleasures were, 22 per cent of the 2,000 people quizzed picked laughing, swiftly followed by eating good food with great friends, in second place with 21 per cent.
Haha! Twenty-two per cent of people questioned in a survey chose laughter as their most important pleasure
A hug was in third place with 19 per cent.
The research suggests that despite the world's focus on materialistic possessions, people still find pleasure in pastimes which do not cost a penny.
Among the other top 10 pleasures listed was the feel of the sun on your face, reading a good book, walking along the beach and getting into bed with clean sheets.
Also popular was watching sunsets, leafing through old photographs and memories and smelling freshly cut grass.
Ralph Walker, head of marketing for Apples from New Zealand, which organised the survey to mark the start of the import season, told the Daily Express: 'It seems that in an overly complicated and stressful world we’re looking for ways to reconnect with what really matters.
'Family, friends and the beauty of nature make people happiest.
'It’s the simplest things in life that do not cost us anything which seem to bring us the most happiness.'
He said the research shows we place the most value on the least materialistic options and want to enjoy life's simple pleasures.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1393802/Laughs-friends-hugs-A-new-survey-finds-best-things-life-free.html#ixzz1ODWSNtJY
Definitely ready for HER close-up: Leopard who got a little too close for comfort to photographer
Last updated at 1:05 PM on 3rd June 2011
This big cat is definitely ready for his close up, as he leaps up on to the top of a Jeep, where a wildlife photographer gets the shock of his life while trying to capture the leopard.
Sergey Ivanov, 50, was petrified as the beast jumped up for a close encounter while he was on safari in Namibia, near the Botswana border, along with his friend Sergey Kotelnikov, who had originally pointed out the animal.
As the pair stopped to take a closer look, they both hauled themselves on to the roofs of their respective Jeeps, so as to gain a fantastic photographic position.
Close and personal: The baby leopard leapt up to the roof of the Jeep, shocking photographer Sergey Ivanov, 50
Here, kitty kitty: The photographer recoils as the big cat jumps five-metres to reach the roof
And as both amateur photographers whipped out their cameras to begin snapping the baby leopard - it slowly crawled towards them.
But, completely out of the blue, the female leopard amazingly leapt over five feet on to the roof of the Jeep Mr Kotelnikov was perched upon.
Staring the cat in the eye, Mr Kotelnikov's face dropped with sheer panic as the cat lunges towards him.
But luckily it is only interested in having its picture taken up close and personal and calmly sits in front of the Russian photographer.
Mr Ivanov, who took the incredible pictures from an adjacent Jeep, said: 'Me and my close friend Sergey were on a photo-safari in Africa and were "shooting" big cats in a private park in Namibia not far from Botswana border.
'We both suddenly spotted a baby leopard hiding in the long grass at the side of the dirt track. We watched as it slowly crept up to us, thinking we couldn't see it, and waited for the best shot.
'Unfortunately, Sergey was struggling with his camera as the leopard was too close to him. So as he was blind to what the Leopard was doing he didn't see it get right up close to his van.
'The it just leaped on to the roof - you can clearly see how he felt by his facial expression!'
Popular: Tourist from all over the world travel to Namibia to enjoy safari trips
Part-time Russian wildlife photographer Mr Ivanov, from the city of Kirov, who ventured to the wilds of Africa last year, added: "It was amazing - we never thought this small leopard could jump on to the roof of the car.
'My friend was scared. I was frightened too even though I was on the roof of the other car as you expect it to begin attacking.
'But we soon relaxed as we understood that this big kitten was just playing.'
After realising the leopard was harmless, the pair jumped down from their vehicles and begin interacting with the playful the animal.
But, as the little leopard took a shine to Mr Kotelnikov - whom it had earlier scared - the cheeky kitten jumped on to his bag and smashes his camera into pieces.
The 44-year-old, from Kirov in Russia, said: 'I wasn't really upset - as this was the last day of our safari!
'And the joy of getting so close to a wild animal made up for all the sorrow I felt about my broken camera.
'The leopard did leave me with small bruises on my hands and face from where it kept jumping up on me.
'They are strong animals even at that age.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1393866/Leopard-jumps-Jeep-photographer-safari.html#ixzz1ODVDeerT