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Now is the perfect time to use Feng Shui in your home – here’s how to get started

Voice Of EU

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Let’s be clear, Feng Shui is not just a certain brand of oriental chic. You know the one, a joss stick here, perhaps a Buddha bust there, the odd printed light shade and throwing a kimono on for dinner.

Rather, it is the ancient Chinese tradition of arranging objects to create balance. This can include placement of furniture in the home, colour schemes and choosing objects for what they symbolise. 

Of course, there will be those who are dismissive. But at the very least Feng Shui gives us a blueprint on how to reorganise our homes.

Secret of success: A bedroom painted in Dulux¿s Brave Ground - an earth tone. £12 for 2.5l (wilko.co.uk)

Secret of success: A bedroom painted in Dulux’s Brave Ground – an earth tone. £12 for 2.5l (wilko.co.uk)

‘This is the perfect time for people to connect with the space they live in so their homes can support them in their work, health, wellbeing and relationships,’ says Vicky Sweetlove, a Feng Shui consultant. And what a fitting name she has.

Conveniently The Feng Shui Society is hosting a conference in London and on Zoom tomorrow. So whether it’s creating a more positive environment, focusing on relationships or hoping for that promotion at work, Feng Shui has you covered. Here’s our guide on how to get started.

Tidy spaces

This is the first step in the process of Feng Shui, but it’s not the decluttering popularised by Netflix star Marie Kondo. Rather than getting rid of everything, the process is more about clearing space and seeing how the land lies.

‘Clearing the clutter in your home and letting go of past objects opens the energy,’ says Vicky. ‘The heaviness is lifted and people can start transforming their lives.’

Feng Shui is about balance and hurling out all of our belongings is more final an act than the Chinese tradition demands. 

The process is ongoing and small changes might be required each year. But space clearing is the place to start and ties in with the other features of this tradition.

Full spectrum

Brave Ground — a muted grey/brown — is the Dulux Colour of the Year for 2021 and while the shade is anything but bold, it does have strength in the world of Feng Shui as it’s an earth tone.

An Oliver Bonas Clementina Ceramic Vase, £24.50

An Oliver Bonas Clementina Ceramic Vase, £24.50

There are five elements in Feng Shui — wood, fire, earth, metal and water — and each brings with it different qualities. So a change in colour is an easy way to create a shift in energy.

For example greens are wood tones and connected to vitality, family and wealth. So perhaps Graham & Brown’s Ecuador Matt Emulsion (£42 per 2.5l) is the way to go. 

While Brave Ground will set you back just £12 for 2.5l.

Life areas 

Feng Shui is about the relationship between people and the space they live in. It’s personal and is supposed to benefit both parties; happy home, happy life essentially. 

Crucial to this is life areas (or the bagua) which generally are broken up into: career, relationships, health, wealth, good fortune, spiritual life, creativity, wisdom and fame.

According to Vicky, health, creativity and good fortune have been the most popular recently. While this used to be career, life journeys and fame. 

Life areas also correspond to parts of the house as well as colours and elements. Everything is linked. 

For example a boost to fame and reputation would mean skipping that Love Island audition and placing a red, orange or yellow object in the home’s south. The Oliver Bonas Clementina Ceramic Vase would work (£24.50).

While an improvement to career and life journey would mean turning to the north and buying something blue or black associated with water, for example the Eddie Eco Velvet two-seater sofa (£249, Dunelm).

A personal matter

As personal spaces, bedrooms are crucial to Feng Shui and what’s most important here is bed position. 

The ideal spot is known as the commanding position; this has a good view of the door while not being in line with it.

Vicky had a client who was sceptical about Feng Shui, but turned to the practice to help his struggling business. 

She found all the beds in his home were in the position of Total Loss. 

After improving the family’s sleeping direction her client reported his best month of the year.

Beds should also be located away from a wall so there’s space to get out on both sides. Under the bed storage is out; in particular for souvenirs, photos, shoes, electronics, books or general clutter.

The easiest way to proceed could be to look at the bedroom as a whole picture. 

Sharps design consultants, for example, will come to your home and give advice. This visit could even be timed with a Feng Shui consultant.

What your home really needs is a… console table 

A console table - such as B&M's £40 two-drawer Tromso - is a narrow piece, designed to stand against a wall

A console table – such as B&M’s £40 two-drawer Tromso – is a narrow piece, designed to stand against a wall

It pays to follow the adage that ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’; this applies to hallways whether you’re selling a house or staying put.

If your hall requires a makeover, your home needs a console table, a narrow piece, designed to stand against a wall.

When storage is a must, B&M has the £40 two-drawer Tromso, while Dunelm offers the sturdy £207.20 four-drawer Sidmouth. 

But if you have banished clutter from the hall, Wayfair’s £54.99 Vaillancourt or Habitat’s £40 Loft Living console table should fit the bill.

Next’s swish graphite grey £120 Flynn is a console table designed also to serve as a desk. 

The mirrored Gatsby from Feather & Black, £550, combines utility and Art Deco glamour. 

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Courts Service contradicts Garda declaration journalists were barred from court

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The Courts Service has openly contradicted An Garda Síochána’s declaration that journalists were barred from a court sitting in Waterford earlier this month on the orders of a district justice.

Former Fianna Fáil election candidate Kieran Hartley appeared before Judge Brian O’Shea at Dungarvan District Court on October 13th on a Section 6 public order charge for allegedly committing an offence against a family member of a local garda.

Journalists Eoghan Dalton and Christy Parker were barred for more than three hours from entering the court chamber by two gardaí, who said they had been told the judge had directed that no press be allowed in.

The decision to bar the press – the second time that this has happened to a court hearing where Judge O’Shea was sitting following an incident at a Dublin hearing in 2017 – has now been raised with Garda management.

During exchanges with the reporters, who questioned the decision, one garda said “no one is allowed in this morning”, and while they “honestly” did not “know any details of it” they had been “directed by the court to not allow anyone into it”.

The Garda Press Office later that day insisted “the presiding judge had directed that the court be cleared of persons not involved in the case” as a “voir dire” was in operation.

A voir dire normally occurs when a judge seeks to determine an issue in the course of a trial rather than in advance of one, and very rarely applies at District Court level. Journalists may witness proceedings but not report the details.

Direction

Questioned later, however, the press office said: “The court garda cleared the court as requested by the judge”, and that “it is understood that members of the media who so arrived after that point were inadvertently prevented from accessing the courtroom”.

The Courts Service on Friday said: “At no stage did Judge O’Shea or Courts Service officials issue a direction that the case should be held otherwise than in public”.

“The court sitting at Dungarvan District Court on Wednesday, October 13th, was a public hearing. It involved the hearing of certain arguments in a case, before the ‘substantive’ matter might be heard at another time,” the spokesman said.

“In the absence of an order the law requires that the proceedings take place in public: we are committed to that principle. The alleged actions of gardaí in not allowing access to some media is a matter for Garda management.

“These issues have been raised with Garda management,” said the Courts Service, which is understood to have checked its own records carefully ahead of making its public statement.

When the case came to court on September 22nd, solicitor Paddy Gordon, acting for defence solicitor Frank Buttimer, questioned the legitimacy of statements presented by An Garda Síochána. Mr Gordon claimed they were “not our statements and we want them examined forensically”.

Deferring the matter to the October 13th sitting of Dungarvan District Court, Judge O’Shea instructed that investigating Garda Tom Daly be present, along with his notebook and all original statements.

The judge also asked that Tramore District Superintendent Paul O’Driscoll attend the hearing, which would commence at 10am prior to the main court business.

Candidate

Mr Hartley unsuccessfully contested the 2014 European elections as Fianna Fáil’s Ireland South candidate. He resigned from the party acrimoniously in 2018 following his criticism of its handling of matters related to convicted paedophile Bill Kenneally, whose cousin Brendan was a former Fianna Fáil junior minister.

Judge O’Shea did not issue a written verdict on the present case against Mr Hartley, but it is understood the Garda testaments will stand as presented when it is heard.

Mr Buttimer said he was “not in a position to comment at present”.

Sinn Féin’s justice spokesman Martin Kenny said it was “highly unusual” and that he would be writing to Garda headquarters seeking an explanation. “Justice has to be seen to be done as well as being done, and I find it quite alarming that we’d be in this situation.”

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Darlington is cheapest for homes, London’s Kensington most expensive

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We all know about the North-South divide. We all know about the Prime Minister’s attempt at ‘levelling up’. We all know about the crumbling Red Wall.

But when it comes to property, the facts of the matter tell their own story. According to Churchill Home Insurance, Darlington in County Durham is the cheapest place to buy a property in the country, at just £58 per square foot.

Which is staggering when you compare it to the most expensive — Kensington in central London, where the average price per square foot stands at £1,721. 

Imposing: The Clock Tower in Darlington, County Durham - the cheapest place to buy a property in the country, at just £58 per square foot

Imposing: The Clock Tower in Darlington, County Durham – the cheapest place to buy a property in the country, at just £58 per square foot

Music giants Robbie Williams and Eric Clapton have homes in this exclusive royal borough home, as do entrepreneurs Sir Richard Branson and Sir James Dyson.

But here’s the twist: anyone looking to take advantage of Darlington’s prices might have to move fast because there are plans to turn this market town into the hottest property in the north.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is opening up a smart new division of the Treasury there over the next five years, moving about a quarter of the department. 

That’s about 400 people, many of whom will be local recruits. ‘We’re giving talented people in the North-East the opportunity to work in the heart of Government, making decisions on important issues for our country,’ explains Sunak.

So what are the draws of these polar-opposite locations?

Kensington is one of the crown jewels of London neighbourhoods featuring not just top museums but also a host of chic cafes, boutique shops, and even Kensington Palace, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live with their children.

There are three Zone 1 underground stations and several independent schools, and you’re a stroll away from the West End. 

Upmarket: A terrace in Kensington, London, where the average price per square foot stands at £1,721

Upmarket: A terrace in Kensington, London, where the average price per square foot stands at £1,721

Top restaurants include Daphne’s and Launceston Place — both favourites of the late Princess Diana — and the iconic Bibendum with two Michelin stars.

There’s no surprises when it comes to property values in this area; they’re stellar. The cheapest property in Kensington for sale on Rightmove in the middle of October was priced at £40,000 and that was just a space in a car park. 

The most expensive listing, by contrast, was a seven- bedroom semi, with an eye-watering asking price of £30 million.

Of just over 510 property sales in the past year, the average price was a slightly more modest £2,169,235, according to Zoopla, but that’s after prices took a 4 per cent knock as fewer people bought in London during the pandemic.

It’s a different story in Darlington, which has a modest average property price of £172,724, according to Zoopla. 

But things are changing; there have been more than 1,600 property sales in the past 12 months and prices have gently risen 4.5 per cent. The most expensive home on sale is a four-bedroom detached house with grounds, for £700,000.

However that’s still an exception, with many more at the other end of the scale, where there are several two-bedroom terrace houses for sale at £45,000.

If you’re moving in, bone up on railway history — the world’s first steam train service began here almost 200 years ago. 

Otherwise, look out for a twice-weekly street market, the revamped Hippodrome theatre and the odd tribute to comic Vic Reeves and businessman Duncan Bannatyne, both brought up in the town.

Darlington is brimming with well-preserved Victorian buildings while you can stroll in the beautiful South Park. If you’re after the best of local food, the two-Michelin starred Raby Hunt Restaurant is the place to go.

The town has the buzz of a place on the move — there are modernisations under way at both the railway station (2 ½ hours to London, 30 minutes to Newcastle) and the indoor market.

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak’s Treasury initiative is already putting Darlington on the map. ‘I know of several people from London who have moved here thanks to working remotely,’ says estate agent Henry Carver of Carver Residential. 

On the market: North-South divide 

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Facebook admits high-profile users are treated differently

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Facebook’s oversight board said the social media company hadn’t been “fully forthcoming” about internal rules that allowed some high-profile users to be exempt from content restrictions and said it will make recommendations on how to change the system.

In the first of its quarterly transparency reports published Thursday, the board said that on some occasions, Facebook “failed to provide relevant information to the board,” and in other instances the information it did provide was incomplete.

For example, when Facebook referred the case involving former US president Donald Trump to the board, it didn’t mention its internal “cross-check system” that allowed for a different set of rules for high-profile users.

Facebook only mentioned cross-check, or XCheck, to the board when asked whether Trump’s page or account had been subject to ordinary content moderation processes.

The cross-check system was disclosed in recent reporting by the Wall Street Journal, based in part on documents from a whistle-blower.

The journal described how the cross-check system, originally intended to be a quality-control measure for a select few high-profile users and designed to avoid public relations backlash over famous people who mistakenly have their posts taken down, had ballooned to include millions of accounts.

The oversight board said it will undertake a review of the cross-check system and make suggestions on how to improve it.

As part of the process, Facebook has agreed to share with the board relevant documents about the cross-check system as reported in the Wall Street Journal. – Bloomberg

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