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The perfect hang out: Swings and hammocks are popping up indoors

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Make your home the perfect hang-out: Swings and hammocks are popping up in living rooms as the line between outdoors and indoors gets blurred

The distinction between outdoors and indoors has become blurred — and that’s not a bad development. 

Certainly, in the next couple of months we should be throwing open our doors and windows, tilting our heads at the sun and heading out for much needed fresh air.

But some things seem to be heading in the other direction — such as swings and hammocks. 

Child's play: Any room can become fun with a swing or hammock hanging from the ceiling

Child’s play: Any room can become fun with a swing or hammock hanging from the ceiling

Traditionally, a hammock hangs from one sturdy branch to another, a symbol of louche relaxation. And swings of all designs have been a popular garden feature for hundreds of years.

Now, turning convention on its head, swings and hammocks are increasingly popping up in living rooms and other social spaces, suspended from ceilings or frames as either a focal point of a room or as a curious addition to a room’s atmosphere.

STYLISH ‘SEATS’

‘Swings are an item of nostalgia, conjuring up the best childhood memories,’ says Charlotte Clemons of From The Oak Tree, a personalised oak gift company.

‘We have created swings for people’s homes to hang from beautiful beams, ceiling joists and frames. It offers an extra seat but also brings a sense of adventure to a home.’

If it is now wrong to assume that swings are just for the garden, it would also be incorrect to say that they are reserved for those who have large spaces.

In fact, they can help solve the opposite problem. Given that neither touches the ground, one’s eye travels through the item, meaning it will not add clutter to a room, or take up much space.

They are on the large side but a hammock offers more design options than a suspended swing

They are on the large side but a hammock offers more design options than a suspended swing

On the contrary, in a difficult room to decorate, for example in a long space, a swing can do the job of dividing without the need for walls.

Hannah Foster, owner of online boutique Gift Pop, is delighted with her indoor swing, a welcome addition to her recently-acquired industrial rural barn in Berkshire.

‘Happiness is the swing in our kitchen,’ she tells me from Berkshire, from where she runs her business. ‘Everyone who visits wants a go. I get to chat to the children for five minutes longer if they are on the swing. 

‘As they need to hold on, they can’t be on a phone. Our swing has brought much joy.’

VIBRANT HAMMOCKS

They are on the large size but a hammock offers a few more design options than a rope-suspended swing. 

Sika Design’s hanging armchair (£445), Moda Furnishing’s ‘statement-making’ swing chair (£895) and Graham & Green’s Valencia tassel swing chair (£99) are three good ways to demonstrate how these whimsical additions are at once fresh, original and an unconventional talking point.

Hammocks also offer a way to introduce colour and soft accessories that can be individualised to any home.

CHIC CHARPOYS

It isn’t just suspended items: Ibbi Interiors’ charpoys (from £425) are ancient traditional sleeping surfaces from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

They are often known as khaats and have rectangular frames supported by wooden legs with a soft woven or jute top.

Traditionally, people slept on them, but they are now more commonly intended for social purposes. Ibbi Interiors has a range of unusual, yet charming, seating options for both inside and out.

So don’t let the garden hog your favourite furniture: just bring it indoors. It will work come rain or shine.

What your home really needs is… Gingham 

Gingham is set to be one of the top homeware trends this spring and summer. Yes, the red-and-white tablecloth beloved of louche 1960s bistros is back.

Some believe the roots of the word gingham lie in the Malay language; others say it takes its name from Guingamp, a town in Brittany, where the fabric was made.

Scotts of Stow has a red and white tablecloth, (pictured), (u00A312.95 to u00A319.95, scottsof stow.co.uk)

Scotts of Stow has a red and white tablecloth, (pictured), (£12.95 to £19.95, scottsof stow.co.uk)

Your home needs a gingham item now because it has a wholesome feel, while also looking contemporary.

Arlo & Jacob’s gingham Helena Sofa (£2,227) is sharp but comfortable. 

However, your outlay on gingham need only be modest. Scotts of Stow has a red and white tablecloth (£12.95 to £19.95).

A blue and white gingham duvet cover costs from £17.50 to £38.50 from The Hut. 

Williamson’s has gingham cushion covers in mint green, pink and other pastels (£3.99), springlike, but not sugary.

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Orange warning in place for five counties on west coast

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Violent storm force 11 winds are expected off the west coast as Storm Barra approaches on Tuesday morning.

Met Éireann has upgraded its marine weather warning to red, the highest category, on Irish coastal waters from Galway Bay to Bantry Bay from 3am on Tuesday morning to 11pm tomorrow night.

A status orange warning is in place on land for the counties of Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am on Tuesday morning until the same time on Wednesday morning.

Counties included in orange warning could see damaging gusts of up to 130km/h which will head to high waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge.

The rest of the country will be under a status yellow warning for the same period with the possibility of localised flooding.

Met Éireann head of forecasting Evelyn Cusack told Newstalk Breakfast that the storm system is developing rapidly over the Atlantic at present and will hit Ireland’s western seaboard on Tuesday with strong gale force winds which will quickly extend across the country.

There will be heavy rain turning to sleet and snow on higher ground, she warned.

Met Éireann will meet with gardaí, local authorities and emergency services this morning to update the progress of the storm and provide advice on what precautionary measures should be taken.

“It will be a pretty horrid day,” added Ms Cusack who advised against cycling.

The high winds and heavy rain will continue throughout Wednesday but they will have moved on by Thursday.

On RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, senior meteorologist Liz Walsh warned that trees could be knocked down during the high winds. She also advised that outdoor street furniture should be taken in or tied down and cautioned that Christmas decorations could be damaged.

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Coronavirus rules for driving tests spark complaints

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Claims of rude testers, of not being allowed to cough and having to drive with windows open due to Covid-19 were among the complaints received from people who failed driving tests recently.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA), which oversees driving tests nationally, released a sample of the 1,505 complaints received since the start of last year under the Freedom of Information Act.

New figures show the driving test centre in Cork had the highest pass rate with 75 per cent of people passing, while the lowest was Charlestown in Dublin with a 42 per cent pass rate.

One person complained he had told his tester he had asthma and might need to cough because he had recently changed inhalers, causing irritation to his throat.

“I was advised that if I coughed at any stage, the test would be over immediately. This was difficult to control while under exam pressure and added a huge amount of unnecessary stress and pressure,” the individual complained.

Another individual complained their tester said if their face mask slipped “a little bit from my nose” while driving, the test would be ended.

“I’m in shock how he treated me that day,” said the complainant.

Another learner driver who failed said their car was hot and “very uncomfortable” because the tester said the hot air de-misters had to be kept on to prevent the windows fogging up because the back windows had to be kept open due to Covid-19.

One complainant said the tester seemed to have prejudged the test when they spotted a small stain on the driver’s seat as the car was supposed to be “spotless”.

‘Anxious’

“The tester was clearly taking it too far. I was complying with all Covid precautions as I had just Hoovered and sanitised the car and it was simply a mark on the seat.”

There were general complaints beyond Covid-19 issues. One person complained about feeling “anxious” because the tester was “sitting there shaking his head”.

Another said their tester repeatedly shook his head and sighed several times, and then made notes on the score sheet, which was “extremely off-putting and really unfair”.

Another driver said the tester was “extremely condescending and patronising” and mocked their answer to a signpost theory question about an “unguarded cliff edge”.

“We don’t drive along cliff edges in this country,” the tester was quoted as saying.

The RSA has been dealing with a backlog of driving tests due to the pandemic.

The centres with the next highest pass rates were Clifden (71 per cent), Killester in Dublin (70 per cent), Birr, Co Offaly (70 per cent) and Cavan (69 per cent).

The test centres with the next lowest pass rates were Dublin’s Churchtown, since closed (44 per cent), Nenagh, Co Tipperary (44 per cent) and Mulhuddart (45 per cent) and Raheny (46 per cent), both in Dublin.


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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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