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Would you want a £45k luxury outdoor kitchen to enjoy all year round?

You may enjoy entertaining outdoors but are likely to find yourself heavily restricted by the British weather. 

But there is a solution in creating a cosy and inviting space that allows you to entertain friends and family throughout the year – and for one family doing that meant a spectacular outdoor kitchen they can enjoy even through winter. 

Lorraine and James Stait installed an outdoor kitchen in a £45,000 project that was completed fortunately just before the first lockdown in early 2020 and, as our snow-filled photos show, they use it throughout the year. 

Their family uses the space for everything from cooking the Sunday roast to making the dog’s breakfast, while their 14-year-old has enjoyed having friends’ round for pizza parties. 

This luxury outdoor kitchen is at a home in East Horsley, Surrey, and cost around £45,000

This luxury outdoor kitchen is at a home in East Horsley, Surrey, and cost around £45,000

Homeowners Lorraine and James Stait are thrilled with their outdoor kitchen which is at the side of the house

Homeowners Lorraine and James Stait are thrilled with their outdoor kitchen which is at the side of the house

While an outdoor kitchen can prove costly, it can be a worthwhile investment into your home, particularly if it effectively creates an extra room that’s outside.

That’s certainly the case for the family from East Horsley, in Surrey, who had always wanted an outdoor living space. 

Lorraine, who works in retail, and her husband James, who works as an IT marketer, are both in their mid-50s and say that while it was a big investment, their outdoor kitchen has become an integral part of their daily lives.

‘It changes your lifestyle,’ Lorraine said. ‘We enjoy the outdoors more and have a healthier lifestyle as a result.’  

The couple make good use of the outdoor kitchen with their friends and family all year round

The couple make good use of the outdoor kitchen with their friends and family all year round

The outdoor kitchen is fully equipped with plenty of work space, a BBQ and a pizza oven

The outdoor kitchen is fully equipped with plenty of work space, a BBQ and a pizza oven

Celebrating outdoors: The family saw in the New Year at their outdoor kitchen with friends

Celebrating outdoors: The family saw in the New Year at their outdoor kitchen with friends

When they bought their Surrey home a decade ago, they weren’t quite sure what to do with the area to the side that had a roof but no walls. 

The couple took their time considering how best to use the space, but it wasn’t until they met Duncan Aird, of Outdoor Kitchen Expert, that they began to get excited about the area’s potential.

The family makes good use of the outdoor kitchen

The family makes good use of the outdoor kitchen

‘We were always interested in creating some kind of outdoor living space,’ said Lorraine.

‘We talked to a few companies and had some drawings done, but nothing stood out. We were getting an extension done anyway when our landscaper recommended Duncan.’

The Staits’ vision came to life, with work starting in early 2020. It took six weeks for the outdoor kitchen that is suitable for year-round use to be completed, just in time for the first Covid lockdown.

The whole space is clad in cosy-looking cedar wood, providing an indoor feel to the outdoor space.

It boasts a mains-connected gas barbecue, pizza oven, fridge and plenty of storage space, so there’s no need to keep going inside to restock. 

The whole space is clad in cedar wood, providing an indoors sensation to the outdoor space

The whole space is clad in cedar wood, providing an indoors sensation to the outdoor space

The outdoor kitchen boasts wi-fi controlled colour changing LED Lighting,  and infra-red heaters

The outdoor kitchen boasts wi-fi controlled colour changing LED Lighting,  and infra-red heaters


The Bull Lonestar 4 Burner at £1,999.99

The Bull Lonestar 4 Burner at £1,999.99

The couple spend almost £45,000 on their new outdoor kitchen, and are delighted with the results. 

Here is a breakdown of the costs: 

  • £6,000 for appliances including a gas grill, outdoor refrigerator, integrated stainless steel drawers and waste bin, along with integrated drinks ice well, sink and taps

These include the Bull Lonestar 4 Burner Built in Natural Gas BBQ Grill Head at £1,999.99, and a Beefeater outdoor display fridge double door at £1,445.

The Beefeater outdoor fridge cost £1,445

The Beefeater outdoor fridge costs £1,445

  • £9,000 was spent on cedar cladding that appears on the existing roof structure and kitchen, as well as on the cedar fencing and gates 
  • £4,500 was spent on bespoke granite worktops and upstands
  • £5,000 went on Wi-Fi controlled colour changing LED lighting, along with pop up USB sockets, Infra-red heaters and general electrical installation
  • £1,000 was the total cost of the plumbing

Overall, it brings the cost of the entire project to almost £45,000

The Staits used the kitchen extensively that first summer, but it has also proven its worth year-round.

With heating and remote-controlled LED mood lighting in place, the colder days and shorter evenings of winter have proven to be no obstacle to the space being used for family dinners, drinks and nibbles with friends and teenage hangouts.

In addition to its lifestyle benefits the kitchen, which cost between £45,000 and £50,000, has also shown itself to be a good investment. 

When the property was valued between lockdowns, the value had risen as a result of the outdoor space – something very much in demand by city buyers looking for outdoor areas with something extra.

The Staits plan to add to the outdoor kitchen every year. They’ve already put in a hot tub and have plans in place for a more permanent pizza oven and additional heating later in 2022.

Lorraine added: ‘I’m so pleased we decided to invest in the outdoor kitchen. It’s become part of our everyday life from eating our Sunday roast to family celebrations and parties. The space is multifunctional and used and enjoyed by everyone; it allows us to come together as a family for real quality time.’

Of course, not all outdoor kitchens are so expensive. Indeed, you can even make your own for £100

But for those with a budget between these two extremes, it is about carefully selected the items for inclusion and planning ahead.

Outdoor Kitchen Expert’s Mr Aird said: ‘You don’t have to spend such a large amount on an outdoor kitchen, but planning is key and so it is important to start thinking about it now.

‘February may seem early but it can take weeks to choose items, so you need to start now if you want to make the most of the space this summer.

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Copyright Dispute: DC Comics And ‘Fables’ Author Clash over Ownership, Author Aims for Public Domain

A detail from a 'Fables' cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image courtesy of the publisher ECC.
A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image courtesy of the publisher ECC.

This is a story full of fairy tales. In some ways, it even resembles one. And yet it also proves that, in the real world, things rarely end happily ever after. A few days ago, Bill Willingham, the father of the celebrated Fables comic book series, announced that he was sending his most cherished work to the public domain, that is, to everyone. That’s only fair, since that is also where he got the main characters of his stories, from Snow White to the Wolf, from Pinocchio to Prince Charming, who were then relocated to modern New York. In this tale, the hero has long-faced mistreatment at the hands of the villains, DC Comics, the owner of Vertigo, which publishes the work in the United States, and its executives.

“If I couldn’t prevent Fables from falling into bad hands, at least this is a way I can arrange that it also falls into many good hands,” Willingham wrote in an online post in which he decried the label’s repeated attempts to take over his creations and opposed them with this final extreme remedy. But the company responded that it considers itself to be the true owner of the series.

In a statement published by the specialized media IGN, the company threatened to take “necessary action” to defend its rights. Thus, the end of the dispute is uncertain. But it is unlikely that everyone will end up happily ever after.

In the meantime, in a new post, Willingham celebrated the massive support he received. In fact, for the moment, he has declined all interview requests — he did not respond to this newspaper’s request, nor did the publisher — arguing that he preferred to spend the next few days working on new artistic projects. Meanwhile, the dispute continues.

Fables is one of the most celebrated graphic novels of the last 20 years, and it has spawned spin-offs and a video game adaptation (The Wolf Among Us).

This situation also touches on a key issue, namely, the intellectual property rights of characters and works, especially in a sector where, for decades, dozens of cartoonists and screenwriters have accused comic book giants Marvel and DC of pressuring them to cede their ideas and accept commissioned contracts.

Willingham sums it up as a policy aimed to make creators sign “work for hire” agreements and crush them. All of this makes a gesture that was already intended to make a splash even more resonant.

A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image provided by ECC
A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image provided by ECC.

Indeed, the battle over intellectual property is as old as contemporary comics: the copyrights for Superman, Batman and The Fantastic Four all have unresolved disputes and complaints from Jerry Siegel, Bill Finger and Jack Kirby over the contemptuous treatment they suffered. And heavyweight Alan Moore has been lamenting for years that DC took away his ownership of famous works like Watchmen.

Along with prestige and principles, tens of millions of dollars are at stake, especially now that the film industry has become interested in comics.

“When you sign a contract with DC, your responsibilities to them are carved in stone, where their responsibilities to you are treated as “helpful suggestions that we’ll try to accommodate when we can, but we’re serious adults, doing serious business and we can’t always take the time to indulge the needs of these children who work for us” the Fables author wrote on his blog. Following the impact of his original message, Willingham posted two other texts. He maintains that he had thought about sending his work into the public domain when he passed away, but that “certain events” have changed his plans: among them, he lists the changes in management and attitude at the top of the publishing company; the multiple breaches of obligations such as consultations about covers, artists for new plots and adaptations; DC’s forgetfulness when it came to pay, which forced him to demand invoices of up to $30,000; the suspicious frequency with which the publisher attributed it to “slipping through the cracks” (to such an extent that the author insisted that they stop using that expression); and the time and chances he gave them to respect the pact, renegotiate it or even break it and consensually separate.

A detail from the cover of the first volume of Bill Willingham's comprehensive collection of 'Fables.'
A detail from the cover of the first volume of Bill Willingham’s comprehensive collection of ‘Fables’.

“Shortly after creating Fables, I entered into a publishing agreement with DC Comics. In that agreement, while I continued to own the property, DC would have exclusive rights to publish Fables comics, and then later that agreement was expanded to give DC exclusive rights to exploit the property in other ways, including movies and TV.

DC paid me a fair price for these rights (fair at the time), and as long as they behaved ethically and above-board, and conducted themselves as if this were a partnership, all was more or less well. But DC doesn’t seem to be capable of acting fairly and above-board.

In fact, they treated this agreement (as I suppose I should have known they would) as if they were the boss and I, their servant. In time that got worse, as they later reinterpreted our contracts to assume they owned Fables outright,” Willingham laments. Hence, he concluded that “you can’t reason with the unreasonable.”

Having ruled out a lawsuit as too expensive and time-consuming at 67 years of age, he found a more creative solution: if they prevented him from owning his works and benefiting from them as he was entitled to do, he would not let the publisher do so either. Or, at least, everyone could use the comics as they wished. But the label was quick to clarify in its statement to IGN: “The Fables comic books and graphic novels [are] published by DC, and are not in the public domain”.

For his part, Willingham promises to continue fighting for all the conditions of his still-in-force contract that he considers DC to have violated, as well as for the last installments of the series, the final script of which he delivered two years ago.

There will be additional chapters in this dispute, as well as in many other ones like it: in 2024, the historic first image of Mickey Mouse, the one that starred in the 1928 short Steamboat Willie, enters the public domain in the U.S. and other countries. Copyright in the U.S. lasts for 95 years, and math is an exact science.

Therefore, in a few years, King Kong, Superman and Popeye will meet the same fate. But The New York Times has wondered how the “notoriously litigious” Disney will react and how far it will go to fight in court. And who would dare to freely use all these works for fear of a million-dollar lawsuit? The same question surrounds DC and similar companies. Because in the real world, fairy tales are rare. Or they end up in court.

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Assessing The Potential of The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) Against China’s Belt And Road Initiative (BRI)

(THE VOICE OF EU) – In a recent address, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the newly unveiled India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) as a transformative force poised to shape global trade for centuries. While the IMEC undoubtedly presents a significant development, it’s vital to scrutinize its potential impact compared to China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The IMEC was jointly announced by US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 summit in Delhi. Designed to fortify transportation and communication networks between Europe and Asia via rail and shipping routes, the project not only holds regional promise but also reflects a strategic move by the US in its geopolitical interests, particularly concerning China.

However, the IMEC faces a formidable contender in the form of China’s BRI, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.

Despite facing some headwinds, including a slowdown in lending due to China’s economic deceleration and concerns raised by nations like Italy, Sri Lanka, and Zambia regarding debt sustainability, the BRI remains a monumental global undertaking.

With investments surpassing a staggering $1 trillion and over 150 partner countries, the BRI has transformed from a regional initiative to a near-global endeavor.

Comparatively, the IMEC may not immediately match the scale or ambition of the BRI. While the US, Japan, and the G7 nations have introduced similar initiatives like the Global Gateway and Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, none have achieved the expansive reach or influence of the BRI.

The emergence of these projects over the past five years, however, demonstrates the BRI’s pivotal role as a catalyst for global economic growth.

Viewing the IMEC solely through the lens of opposition to the BRI may not provide a comprehensive understanding of its potential.

Instead, the IMEC contributes to a broader trend of transactional partnerships, where countries engage with multiple collaborators simultaneously, underscoring the complex and interconnected nature of global trade relations.

Yet, realizing the IMEC’s aspirations demands meticulous planning and execution. A comprehensive action plan is expected within the next 60 days, outlining key governmental agencies responsible for investments, allocated capital, and implementation timelines.

Establishing a streamlined customs and trade infrastructure is equally critical to facilitate seamless transit, a challenge highlighted by the Trans-Eurasian railway’s 30-country passage through Kazakhstan.

Navigating geopolitical complexities between partner countries, particularly the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, poses another potential hurdle.

Ensuring these nations maintain a unified strategic vision amid differing priorities and interests requires careful diplomatic coordination.

Furthermore, the IMEC will compete directly with the Suez Canal, a well-established and cost-effective maritime route.

While the IMEC may enhance relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, it could potentially strain ties with Egypt, prompting critical assessments of the project’s economic viability.

Beyond trade and economics, the IMEC ambitiously aims to incorporate diverse sectors, from electricity grids to cybersecurity.

This multi-dimensional approach aligns with discussions held in security forums like the Quad and, if realized, could significantly contribute to a safer, more sustainable global landscape.

As we contemplate the potential of the IMEC, it is with hope that the lofty ambitions outlined in New Delhi will culminate in a tangible and positive transformation for the world.

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Do water features like a pool, pond or fountains add value to a home?

He may be used to making a splash in politics. But now it seems that Boris Johnson will be able to do that closer to home, too.

This week, it was revealed that the former prime minister has been given permission to build a swimming pool in the garden of his £3.78 million Oxfordshire country home. 

A move which will doubtless provide a restful place to unwind, exercise and relax as he navigates post-political life.

Deep pockets: A country home with outdoor swimming pool

Deep pockets: A country home with outdoor swimming pool 

But even if you don’t have deep pockets for such deep-water projects, it’s still possible to create the tranquil benefits of waterside living. 

Whether it’s through installing a hot tub, pond, or even decorative fountains. 

But, as our experts point out, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before splashing out…

Frequent attention

Introducing any kind of water feature to your garden requires some upkeep.

During the spring and summer, you’ll need to top up your water feature regularly to replenish water loss caused by evaporation. 

And there’s also the task of removing branches and leaves as well as pruning bushes nearby.

‘It’s also a good idea to give your water feature a thorough clean and add a wildlife-friendly algaecide or UV steriliser after cleaning,’ says Will Haxby, home and garden sales director at Haddonstone, which specialises in stonework ‘as this will prevent algae growth build-up caused by the warm conditions.’ 

When the temperatures drop, drain off water before the winter to protect your feature from frost. 

You’ll also need to clean the pump to remove any limescale build-up.

Will it add value?

Installing features like fountains can add to the kerb appeal of your home, says Tabitha Cumming, a property expert at The Lease Extension Company, says: ‘This means that it will make a better first impression and potentially add value to your home.’

Amer Siddiq, founder and CEO at Landlord Vision, believes that water features such as fountains can have other benefits, too.

‘They can help mask unwanted noises from roads or neighbours. They can also attract birds and wildlife, adding a touch of nature to your surroundings.’

Andrew Landers, director at Property Rescue, a home-buying service, says: ‘The post-covid world has seen the importance of outside space massively increase, and any enhancements that make this space more enjoyable is going to have a positive impact on the value of a home.’

Hidden costs

Factor additional costs into your budget, too, since water features rarely boil down to a single, one-off payment.

‘For example if any of your water features have fish, these can incur additional costs from the food and care that they will require, and you will also need to be vigilant to keep them safe from predators,’ says Cumming. 

Some features can cause structural issues, too. 

‘Fountains may become damaged through wear and tear or have cracks caused by water freezing over,’ she adds.

Beware risks

In summer, having a water feature will make you a magnet for friends and family who want to pop around and cool down. 

All of which, says Anna Giles, an associate at law firm Wedlake Bell, could increase scope for accidents

‘Homeowners should bear in mind that they could be subject to a claim for compensation if someone injures themselves at their property, so reasonable care needs to be taken to ensure that visitors and/or occupiers of the property will be safe.’

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