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Frightfully chic: Don’t turn your home into a horror show at Halloween

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Many of us who missed out on trick or treating last year are planning to make up for lost time.

Searches for Halloween-related products are up 235 per cent on 2020, according to arts and crafts retailer Hobbycraft, while luxury children’s party site Meri Meri says Halloween sales have increased by more than 100 per cent.

‘After such a challenging 18 months, it is great to see the nation getting in the spooky spirit,’ says Katherine Paterson, customer director at Hobbycraft.

Gourds galore: Hobbycraft decorations. Just because you’re decorating for children, doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style this Halloween

Gourds galore: Hobbycraft decorations. Just because you’re decorating for children, doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style this Halloween

The hashtag #halloween has nearly 100 million posts on Instagram, thanks to its visual appeal. But that doesn’t mean you have to deck your home out in ghouls and ghosties: there is a more refined middle ground.

Paula Sutton, author of Hill House Living, is a big fan of the season for the decorating opportunities it provides.

‘I display carefully selected groups of pumpkins, along with large tubs of chrysanthemums on my doorstep from the end of September until it’s time to switch over for Christmas,’ she says.

Gothic glitter

Just because you’re decorating for children doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style. To start with, don’t limit your Halloween colour scheme to orange and black.

‘This year our design team introduced an ombré pastel colour palette for Halloween,’ says Meredithe Stuart-Smith, founder of Meri Meri. 

‘This sits comfortably in a more neutral home setting yet introduces a festive and playful nod to the season.’

She adds that ‘a fun activity with the kids is baking tie-dye ghost biscuits to go along with the pastel theme’.

If you are going more traditionally spooky, Stuart Smith says glitter and gothic pair well. ‘Our design team fell in love with black crows this year which offer a bit of horror and just the right amount of quirky style.

‘Kids adore the bat chandelier and parents love the black crow napkins, which look sophisticated.’

Hang their sparkly bat chandelier and pretend any cobwebs are part of the scheme.

Hobbycraft pumpkins (£5 for 4). Searches for Halloween-related products are up 235 per cent on 2020

Hobbycraft pumpkins (£5 for 4). Searches for Halloween-related products are up 235 per cent on 2020

Spooky doorsteps

Give your home Halloween kerb appeal by decorating your doorstep. While Sutton uses seasonal real flowers, Lauren Hoyal-Mitchell, the brand and creative lead at Hobbycraft recommends using faux garlands to decorate the door frame.

‘This simple addition will elevate the entrance way to your home and create real impact.’ She also suggests ‘hanging decorations to add height and baskets filled with logs to add texture’.

Along with Ginger Ray’s foliage garland (£12), try homemade hanging stars and garlands from the Art Star (from £10).

Pick a pumpkin

A pumpkin is key to a Halloween look, even if you’re dialling down the spookiness.

Hobbycraft reports search rises of 181 per cent for its ceramic pumpkins and a range of paint-your-own cardboard ones.

Meanwhile, Meri Meri has paper honeycomb pumpkins (£24).

‘Decorating with pumpkins and gourds might not be a new idea when it comes to Halloween, but I like to book in my visit to the pumpkin patch as soon as October arrives and call it decorating for autumn,’ Sutton says.

If you can’t make it to the farm, you can still pick up a pumpkin from supermarkets. Sutton has tips on which ones to choose, so as not to scare off any good taste. 

‘I tend to choose paler-coloured pumpkins and gourds in grey-blue, pale primrose and chalky peach hues rather than orange,’ says Sutton.

Pumpkin carving is still great fun to do with children, and for those up for more of a challenge, the DIY site ManoMano has instructions for a DIY pumpkin planter, where you fill the pumpkin with compost and add heathers for its hair.

Autumn wreaths

Wreaths are no longer just for Christmas; they look wonderful in autumn too.

‘As florists, we love autumn, you have so many more vibrant colours to work with, plus fruits, flowers and vegetables are all at their peak,’ says Michal Kowalski, co-founder of florists Blooming Haus. 

‘If you’re making a wreath for Halloween, visualise the colours you want and work accordingly. You can have fun foraging in the countryside; look out for dried leaves and horse chestnuts on the ground.

‘Seasonal fruits make nice decorative touches, such as apples cut into rings to dry out and attached to your wreath.’

What your home needs is a… bath rack

On retailers’ websites, the bath rack — also known as a bath bridge, a bath caddy or a bath tray — is often pictured holding a large plant.

This may be attractive, but not realistic. Imagine the mess if a plant fell into the bath.

Tub trend: At The Range, you will find a distressed grey slate rack for £30.99, ( pictured)

Tub trend: At The Range, you will find a distressed grey slate rack for £30.99, ( pictured)

If you like to relax in the tub, you need a rack for a mobile phone, a book and a drink. These should take your mind off the higher cost of heating the water this winter.

But outlay on a bath rack can be modest. Wilko’s bamboo rack is just £8 (wilko.com). 

At The Range, you will find a distressed grey slate rack for £30.99. The Bath Rack has a wooden rack for £27.95 and one with a Victorian tile pattern (thebathrack.com, £49.95).

Before you buy, measure your tub or opt for an expandable rack, for £7.99 at The Range (therange.co.uk). A swish version is £99 at John Lewis (johnlewis.com). 

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Former US presidential candidate Bob Dole dies aged 98

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Bob Dole, the long-time Kansas senator who was the Republican nominee for president in 1996, has died from lung cancer. In a statement, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, founded by Dole’s wife, said: “It is with heavy hearts we announced that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died earlier this morning in his sleep. At his death at age 98 he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years.”

In late February, Dole announced that he had advanced lung cancer and would begin treatment. Visiting him, President Joe Biden called Dole his “close friend”.

On Sunday the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, like Biden a Democrat, ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

Born in Russell, Kansas in 1923, Dole served in the US infantry in the second world war, suffering serious wounds in Italy and winning a medal for bravery.

His wounds cost him use of his right arm but he entered state politics and soon became a longtime Republican power-broker, representing Kansas in the US House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969 and in the Senate until 1996. He had spells as chairman of the Republican National Committee and as Senate minority and majority leader.

In 1976 he was the Republican nominee for vice-president to Gerald Ford, in an election the sitting president lost to Jimmy Carter. Two decades later, aged 73, Dole won the nod to take on Bill Clinton.

Against the backdrop of a booming economy, the Democrat won a second term with ease, by 379 – 159 in the electoral college and by nine points in the popular vote, the third-party candidate Ross Perot costing Dole support on the right.

Dole received both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honours.

In the Trump years and after, Dole came widely to be seen as a figure from another time in Republican politics.

On Sunday, the political consultant Tara Setmeyer, a member of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, tweeted: “I cast my first ever vote for president for Bob Dole in 1996. A war hero with a sharp sense of humor ? another piece of a once respectable GOP gone.”

However, Dole remained a loyal Republican soldier, telling USA Today this summer that though Donald Trump “lost the election, and I regret that he did, but they did”, and though he himself was “sort of Trumped out”, he still considered himself “a Trumper”.

Dole called Biden “a great, kind, upstanding, decent person”, though he said he leaned too far left.

He also said: “I do believe [America has]lost something. I can’t get my hand on it, but we’re just not quite where we should be, as the greatest democracy in the world. And I don’t know how you correct it, but I keep hoping that there will be a change in my lifetime.”

On Sunday, Jaime Harrison, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said: “Sending heartfelt condolences and prayers to the family of Senator Bob Dole. We honor his service and dedication to the nation. May he Rest In Peace.”

– Guardian

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Bournemouth is the most popular coastal town for buyers, says Rightmove

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The most popular seaside location for house hunters this year has been Bournemouth, new research has revealed.   

Rightmove identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain, based on the highest number of buyer enquiries via its website.

The Dorset resort is the most popular, followed by Southampton, Hampshire and Brighton, East Sussex, with the South coast dominating the list. 

Rightmove has identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

Rightmove has identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

The top ten list also includes Blackpool, Lancashire – a coastal resort known for its amusement arcades and donkey rides – where prices have increased 8 per cent in the past year to £137,301.

It compares to the average house price in the top 10 locations, which rose 6 per cent this year. 

It is just ahead of the national average rise of 5 per cent, from £318,188, to £333,037. These figures are based on an average between January and November 2020 compared to January-November 2021. 

At the same time, Rightmove provided a list of coastal locations that have seen the biggest increases in house prices this year.

Padstow in Cornwall topped that list of coastal hotspots, with prices rising 20 per cent this year, from from £548,382, to £658,588.

The most popular seaside location for house hunters is Bournemouth (pictured), according to Rightmove

The most popular seaside location for house hunters is Bournemouth (pictured), according to Rightmove

AVERAGE ASKING PRICES IN COASTAL HOTSPOTS 2021
Rank Location Average asking price 2021 Average asking price 2020 Average asking price increase 2021 vs 2020
1 Padstow, Cornwall £658,588 £548,382 20%
2 Whitby, North Yorkshire £254,218 £217,620 17%
3 St. Ives, Cornwall £473,161 £411,484 15%
4 Porthcawl, South Glamorgan, Bridgend (County of) £307,051 £270,505 14%
5 Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire £173,612 £153,140 13%
6 Newquay, Cornwall £317,846 £281,204 13%
7 Filey, North Yorkshire £214,617 £189,914 13%
8 Pwllheli, Gwynedd £222,607 £197,213 13%
9 Brixham, Devon £299,127 £266,604 12%
10 Preston, Paignton, Devon £303,684 £272,029 12%
Source: Rightmove       

It was followed by Whitby, in North Yorkshire, which came second, with prices rising 17 per cent from £217,620, to £254,218. 

Cornwall’s St. Ives is in third place, with average values rising 15 per cent from £411,484 to £473,161.

A house with a good sea view and location will cost you, as it will probably be worth at least 40 per cent more than the equivalent inland, if not more.

Robin Gould – Prime Purchase 

Robin Gould, director of buying agency Prime Purchase, says: ‘Many people love the idea of living beside the sea, even more so since the pandemic struck and we have all been spending more time outside. 

‘However, a house with a good sea view and location will cost you, as it will probably be worth at least 40 per cent more than the equivalent inland, if not more. 

‘A frontline house is arguably worth 30 per cent more than one immediately behind it.

‘I recently bought a “frontline” house near Polzeath in north Cornwall for a client, which was right on the cliff top with stunning coastal and sea views.  

‘Although the house itself was very “vanilla”, most people would have forgiven it anything to have that ever-changing, interesting view.’

Also among the most popular coastal locations for homebuyers is Brighton (pictured)

Also among the most popular coastal locations for homebuyers is Brighton (pictured)

QUICKEST COASTAL MARKETS TO FIND A BUYER
Rank Location Average asking price 2021 Average time to find a buyer 2021 (days) Change in time to find a buyer 2021 vs 2020 (days)
1 Saltcoats, Ayrshire £111,419 19 -35
2 Troon, Ayrshire £178,666 22 -8
3 Westward Ho, Bideford, Devon £297,138 24 -46
4 Ayr, Ayrshire £161,301 25 -15
5 Kessingland, Lowestoft, Suffolk £219,538 25 -22
6 Littlehampton, West Sussex £364,180 26 -28
7 Goring-By-Sea, Worthing, West Sussex £396,078 26 -23
8 Marske-By-The-Sea, Redcar, Cleveland £181,882 28 -15
9 Canvey Island, Essex £308,261 28 -23
10 Weymouth, Dorset £283,585 29 -25
Source: Rightmove       

The red hot property market this year has translated into the time it takes to find a buyer hitting a record low number of days.

The average time find a buyer across the whole of 2021 is 44 days, 15 days quicker than the average in 2020.

Saltcoats in Ayrshire is this year’s quickest coastal location to find a buyer, at 19 days on average.

Troon in Ayrshire came second at 22 days, and Westward Ho, in Bideford, Devon was third at 24 days.

Calshot beach was included as Southampton, which features in the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

Calshot beach was included as Southampton, which features in the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

THE INCREASE IN COASTAL SEARCHES IN 2021
Rank Location Average asking price Increase in searches 2021 vs 2020
1 Morecambe, Lancashire £164,424 32%
2 Blackpool, Lancashire £137,301 21%
3 Great Yarmouth, Norfolk £194,066 15%
4 Swansea, Wales £180,603 15%
5 Saltburn-By-The-Sea, Cleveland £227,611 15%
6 Southampton, Hampshire £249,053 14%
7 Llandudno, Conwy (County of) £235,316 13%
8 Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, South West Wales £319,587 12%
9 Southport, Merseyside £215,838 12%
10 Scarborough, North Yorkshire £191,879 12%
Source: Rightmove     

Meanwhile, Morecambe, Lancashire saw the biggest jump in coastal buyer searches compared to last year, up 32 per cent, followed by Blackpool, up 21 per cent, and Great Yarmouth, up 15 per cent.

Tim Bannister, of Rightmove, said: ‘After a year where coastal locations really captured the imagination of British buyers, it’s interesting to reflect on how the overall picture looks at the end of the year.

‘In terms of average asking price growth, homeowners in Cornwall and Devon are the real winners this year, with properties in some areas outpacing the national average, though this does mean that it is increasingly difficult for some locals to get onto the ladder.

‘The speed of this year’s market really is astounding, seen in the time to find a buyer in some areas, particularly in Scotland.

‘Overall, this has been the year that either through changed lifestyle priorities, or the ability to work remotely, living in coastal areas has become possible for more buyers, which is reflected in the data we’re seeing in this study.’

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UK to require all incoming international travellers to take Covid-19 test

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All international travellers arriving into the UK will be required to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test – while Nigeria is being added to the British government’s travel red list, British health secretary Sajid Javid has said.

Mr Javid said the government had decided to move after receiving new data about the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, which emerged in southern Africa.

“Since we have learned of this new variant our strategy has been to buy time. We have always said we will act swiftly should new data require it,” he told broadcasters on Saturday.

“Over recent days we have learned of a significant number of growing cases linked to travel with Nigeria.

“There are 27 cases already in England and that’s growing. Nigeria now is second only to South Africa in terms of linked cases to Omicron.”

Mr Javid said that the number of cases of Omicron in Britain had now risen to about 160.

Under the new rules, from 4am on Monday only British and Irish nationals travelling from Nigeria will be allowed into the UK and they must isolate in a government-managed quarantine hotel on arrival.

And from 4am on Tuesday, anyone travelling to the UK from countries not on the red list will be required to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test a maximum of 48 hours before leaving, regardless of their vaccination status. – PA/Reuters

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