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Issue 23 May 2011

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Why do we need a Lasting Power of Attorney?

City Break - Bruges Keep Fit at Work

Seaweed Sensation

Freehouse Focus The Coastguard 2

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Pest Control - a Bird’s Eye View Film Review Red Riding Hood How Much Does it Cost to Get Married? How to Find the Right Car Finance

Story Time 3

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Don’t Take In A Stranger Whilst You Are Gone. More than half of us are likely to lose the ability to make decisions at some stage in our lives: • • • • • • •

Emergency decisions during an operation Alzheimer's Car accident Work place injury Stroke Mental health issues Old age

Most people think that their parents, spouse or adult child would be able to administer their affairs. But without a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) none of them would have a legal right to take charge. Your friends or family will want to help but to do so legally they will have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your “Deputy” (a restricted version of the Attorney you could have appointed under an LPA). This could prove to be expensive and time consuming. You should also be aware that the Court of Protection will not know if your friends or family can be trusted so they are

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more likely to appoint a professional stranger to be sure they do not choose the wrong person. In this situation and often in good faith someone you know may dispute the Court of Protection appointment. But they are unlikely to be aware it is you that will end up paying all of those legal costs. Those costs could start at a couple of thousand pounds but easily end up being tens of thousands of pounds. If someone who does not have your interests at heart takes over that could be a personal disaster. But what really can be a financial disaster is that the Court of Protection will in the absence of a good candidate for the role of your “Deputy” appoint a solicitor to do everything for you. Just imagine paying £180 to £300 an hour for a solicitor to pay your bills, make your decisions and come to see you to check up on you. If that doesn’t cost £10,000 a year you will be very lucky. So why not make an LPA today? An LPA is a legal document which allows another person or persons to manage your finances (Lasting Power of Attorney Property and Affairs) or health and welfare (Lasting Power of Attorney Health and Welfare). LPAs allow you to decide, in advance, who will look after your financial affairs or deal with health and welfare decisions for you. If you do not have LPAs in place then it is up to the Court of Protection

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to make those decisions for you until such time as it a new home for you or to select a care home, or appoints a “Deputy” to manage money and care staff. It also allows the LPA attorneys to deal welfare matters for you. with medical staff as if they were you. The only reservation is that the attorney has to be As you can imagine, that is a slow and expensive specifically given authority to refuse life sustaining process and the Court of Protection may not treatment on your behalf – and not everyone will appoint the person you would have chosen to look choose to do that. Religious issues also come after your interest – indeed, if there is any under the Health and Welfare LPA. That said argument, they may well appoint a solicitor (at your Attorneys are always required to consult you and to expense) to run your life. Is that what you want for give great weight to your views if it is possible to yourself? ascertain them. This LPA cannot be used unless it has been registered and you have lost mental LPA Property and Financial Affairs capacity. However, once this LPA qualifies to be used the Attorneys are effectively acting as if they This LPA is intended to cover things like paying are you. bills, managing bank accounts, signing contracts, paying care fees – broadly anything to do with Do not regret yesterday. Why fear tomorrow. money. It can actually be used once it is registered Act today. even if you could still manage your own finances so potentially it should be drawn up to specifically yWill are LPA specialists and believe that the avoid this. However, if you completely trust your documents you need to protect your interests nominated Attorneys (the people you appoint to should be easily accessible and affordable for all. manage things) then you should not do this so that You can call them on 0845 6435686. they will not have the aggravation of having to Kent Coupons have negotiated a very special prove that you have lost mental capacity. deal on their fixed prices for readers so make sure you quote KCMAY when you contact them. LPA Health and Welfare In general this LPA will allow the attorney to choose LPAs are crucial for everyone over 18.

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Canals and character - Bruges makes an ideal city break

If you love chocolate, beer, canals and charm, the

areas of Market Square, with its open air cafes, and Burg Square, home to the oldest gothic city hall in Belgium.

Belgian city of Bruges, just a train drive away on Eurostar, offers the perfect destination for a city break. It is regarded as the best preserved The belfry on Market Square is one of Bruges's medieval city in northern Europe as is fondly known most distinctive landmarks. Its bell tower dates as the Venice of the North. back to the 13th century and is over 80m high. If you climb the 366 steps to the top you'll be The historic city centre is surrounded by rewarded with panoramic views over the city's picturesque canals and enclosed within ancient city skyline. walls. Once inside, everything is close to hand. There is street after street of charming The cobbled streets boast plenty of tempting centuries-old houses, majestic gothic churches, chocolate shops, so don't expect to stick to a plenty of chocolate shops and canal-side bars, healthy diet. The chocolatiers are highly skilled and cafes and restaurants. their creations are nothing short of works of arts, so you can expect to pay quite a lot for the privilege of For most tourists, the best feature of Bruges is the eating their creations. winding cobbled streets that lead to the main tourist

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Once you've eaten all the chocolates you could want you can wash it down with a speciality beer from one of the beer boutiques. There are also two historic breweries offering tours where you can sample Straffe Handrick, Brugs Tarwebier and Brugse Tripel beers straight from the barrel. You can buy chocolates and beer much cheaper in the local supermarkets, but that certainly spoils the shopping experience and the chocolate and beer won't have the same handmade quality. The religious sites of Bruges are another big draw for tourists. The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a beautiful gothic church on Burg Square and houses a vial of blood that is believed to have come from Jesus. There is an ambient Romanesque-style chapel underneath the main church. The Church of Our Lady dates back to the Romanesque and gothic periods. The east end of the church is home to the tombs of Charles the Bold and his daughter, Mary of Burgundy. The church also has a small but lovely Michelangelo sculpture of the Virgin and Child. One of the main cultural highlights of Bruges is the City Museum of Fine Arts. The collection mainly focuses on works by painters who either lived or worked in Bruges and spans several centuries. There are plenty of arts and crafts shops scattered around the city, specialising in works by local artists and lacework. As Bruges is a perfectly compact city, getting around is easy on foot. If you want to sit back and enjoy the view you can hop on a boat for a tour of the city's beautiful canals. Tours only cost a few euros and it is the best introduction to Bruges. Like Amsterdam, cycling is a popular way to get around the city and you can rent a bike from many locations. The best way to travel to Bruges is on the Eurostar service to Brussels' Gare du Midi and then a connecting local train service to Bruges, in total taking just 3 hours 20 minutes from London.

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Fit at Work realizes that healthy and happy employees are more competent in the workplace. The effect of an unhealthy and sedentary workforce can detract from your profit margin. The key is to give your company the edge by making your employees feel valued. Encouraging Fitness and regular massage demonstrates concern for employees well being which in turn pays off. Our team of experienced professionals will visit your workplace at a time that suits you to meet the needs of your staff and at the end of each visit everyone is left smiling!

CORPORATE FITNESS Fit at Work travel to your office or event and conduct an exercise regime that is sure to leave your employees happy. If you have limited space we can take a group outside and work there. The bottom line is there is no excuse not to exercise! We offer a variety of packages that are specifically tailored for your individual needs. Outlined are some examples of classes that have proved popular with other companies.

Circuit Training • • • • • • •

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Aerobic and Step classes Yoga/Pilates Running Club Military Fitness in the park Keiser Cycle Zumba Dance classes

Benefits of fitness in the workplace • • • • • • • •

Employees are less likely to get sick More energy throughout the day More self confidence Less stressed Increased concentration Positive attitude due to release of endorphins Fit employees take on a more leadership role because of the many benefits of a healthy lifestyle. A fit individual tends to make a good leader. Physically able to take on the demands of the job

CORPORATE MASSAGE Whether you are holding an Event or you just want to pamper your employees in their place of work. We guarantee everyone will be left feeling de-stressed and revitalized. Our team of massage therapists will come to you offering a 10 minute massage to each person. We are not intrusive as we can work at the desk or set up in a small area where people can approach us. All massage is done through the clothing so no one is left feeling embarrassed. By doing this you really are offering great perks to your job description and placing value on every member of your team. This is going to make them more pro-active for your company. Everybody comes out a winner!

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We also offer ½ hour massages, (Sports or Relaxation) which are done in a room with oils. This is the ultimate relaxation package.

Benefits of massage in the workplace •

• • •

Offers something new and different which then gives your company the edge Increased employee morale Lowers work related stress Happy employees are more productive in work and can take on more Employees feel valued and are grateful for this benefit

TEAM BUILDING FITNESS WORKSHOPS We understand the importance that teamwork plays within your company. If a link is missing within the team then this can affect everyone within the company. We have devised fitness-base workshops that get everyone singing from the same sheet. They range from employees learning a salsa routine and putting it to practice, Military days at the park, Martial Art Combat right the way through to workshops providing information on Exercise, Nutrition and Lifestyle Management. The importance of all these workshops is that they can’t be done alone. The team needs to pull together to complete the task, which provides teamwork that flows on into daily practice at work. For more information or for your personalized plan please contact:

Katie Pelzman on 07507045799 www.fitatwork.co.uk enquiries@fitatwork.co.uk 13

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Seaweed: the new diet must-have

became this element's main source for more than 50 years. It was used extensively to treat goitre, a swelling of the thyroid related to lack of iodine.

Seaweed has long been known as a health remedy. Devotees swear by its curative qualities if its derivatives are added to bath water and the beneficial effects it can have if used in cooking. But now scientists have discovered that it could be useful for increasing the amount of fibre in our diet. A team of researchers at Newcastle University has reported that food high in fat and calories could be made healthier by adding the seaweed extract known as alginate.

The Japanese eat lots of seaweed for its concentrated mineral content. As well as being an excellent source of iodine, seaweed contains calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Copper and iron are good for healthy blood while magnesium assists in the proper functioning of muscles and nerves. Calcium is needed for healthy bones and potassium for the maintenance of body cells and balance of fluids. Zinc helps build up the body's immune system.

Junk food junkies would be able to carry on eating naughty nibbles such as burgers and cakes so long as they were laced with the additive, making it a new weapon in the constant battle against obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and bowel cancer.

Most seaweeds are said to contain some B vitamins and beta carotene, the plant form of vitamin A. However, the amount varies according to the type of seaweed and how it is served. Beta carotene, an antioxidant, may help to prevent degenerative diseases such as cancer.

They have explained that alginates have many benefits, most notably that they are odourless and tasteless so can be added to the ingredients of fattening foods without consumers sacrificing any of their enjoyment of them.

Traditionally, seaweed has been used to treat a wide variety of ailments including constipation, colds, arthritis and rheumatism. High in sodium, it is not recommended for those on a low sodium diet.

The Japanese also believe seaweed is good for Professor Jeff Pearson, a member of the research hair and helps to prevent throat cancer. team, said, "We believe it's hard to change people's It is used to enhance the flavour of salads, soups habits and that the most practical solution is to and savoury dishes. In fact, seaweed is eaten in 25 improve the food they do eat. per cent of food in the Japanese diet. "With a burger, for example, you would simply remove some of the fat and replace it with the seaweed extract, which is an entirely natural product from a sustainable resource." He has already made loaves of bread containing the seaweed extract and thinks this is one of the best ways to reach people, because it is a staple of our diets. "Adding the seaweed extract could quadruple the amount of fibre in white bread," he said. Seaweed has a long history as a health benefit. In the 18th Century, iodine was isolated by distilling the long ribbons, or thalli, and bladderwrack

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Between the bottom of the hill and the deep blue sea..... The Coastguard The Bay St Margaret’s Bay Nr Dover CT15 6DY 01304 851019 The Coastguard Pub & Restaurant isn’t hard to find. Head for the sound of the waves lapping against the white cliffs of Dover, the delicious aroma of local produce cooking in a busy kitchen, the glint of a freshly poured ale. When the English Channel is about to wet your toes, you’ll have found us. We like to keep things simple. Our friendly, family-run establishment has a garden with bench seating for sunny days, a large alfresco terrace for year-round drinking and dining, a busy bar for cosy evenings, and a restaurant for relaxed dining. We’d love to see you soon. The Coastguard – your home by the sea. 15

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By Dave Green NBC Bird and Pest Solutions is a national pest control company, unique in its customer focused structure. All local branches are individually owned which means that the service is provided by local people with local knowledge who better understand their needs and have a vested interest in ensuring they receive the highest standard of service. Working locally is also cost effective, not only reducing costs but also reducing business and personal carbon footprint. Alongside this, all branches are also managed and supported by the national head office team that boasts a wealth of industry experts.

using a variety of different methods, from scaring, netting and spikes. We are renowned for using birds of prey as a method of gull and pigeon control, naturally deterring them from their nest sites. We are pioneering a new method of rodent control using non-toxic baits. If and when we see evidence of rats or mice consuming this we then introduce toxic baits, we also directly bait harbourages and deny access to the rodent where possible making the treatment more efficient and much quicker. Once the problem has been removed we then return to non toxic monitoring.

This enables me to provide a consistently high level of service to all clients including those with multiple sites across the UK. Using environmental methods of pest control is not only good for the environment but is good for public relations and raising the awareness of the need for change. NBC is the UK's largest bird control specialist

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Marketing is very important to myself and NBC as a whole to encourage companies that are suffering in these difficult times to take this opportunity to make changes and think of the future. NBC is an outstanding business in many ways, not only because we give our customers what they need and not what is just given but showing them our care and commitment is fore most. I opened my branch in August 2008, and have already won many prestigious contracts resulting in satisfied customers. However i have done this on my own with only the support from Head office and now need to invest heavily in tangible, competitive marketing and training of a new member of staff. Growing a successful business is difficult especially in the current climate, however if i can show local people and businesses that their workplace and the environment can work together we will all have a better future.

NBC The Natural Choice

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Released: Starring: Director: Rating:

15th April Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons Catherine Hardwicke 12A

In this slightly strange transformation of children's fairy story to adult horror from Twilight 's Catherine Hardwicke, Amanda Seyfried plays Valerie, a beautiful young woman from a medieval village desperately in love with outsider Peter (Fernandez), but being forced by her parents to marry wealthy Henry. The wolf in this version of the story doesn't huff and puff and blow the house down, instead choosing to lurk in the dark forest surrounding the village. For years, a monthly animal sacrifice has kept him from human doors, until he decides to throw a spanner in the works by killing Valerie's older sister, thwarting her plans to run away with Peter and escape her impending arranged marriage. Enter Father Soloman (Oldman), a werewolf hunter called upon by the villagers to help them track down and kill the wolf as the death toll begins to rise. Solomon warns that the werewolf takes human form during the day, and could be living among them. It could even be someone that Valerie

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loves, if the fact that the wolf can talk to her but merely grunts at everyone else is anything to go on, making her a suspect in the witch-hunt as she fights to clear her name. The best thing about the film is Seyfried. Otherwise, it's a mishmash of atmospheric dreariness and cheesy special effects, with the cast seeming confused as to its purpose and the wolf resembling more of a cuddly soft toy than a scary monster. Hardwicke throws in so many convoluted red herrings that we begin to become annoyed with Valerie's plight instead of sympathetic towards it, and only Oldman seems to play off the story's inherent daftness, with his battle cry of "Lock him in the elephant!!" providing some much-needed light relief in this giant missed opportunity of a film.

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Last of the Big wedding spenders Ok Wills & Kate are now married, and good luck to them, but not everyone has the finances to throw such a lavish affair as them! The romance of getting married is quite often marred by the worrying costs involved. The consensus is that the average outlay is spiralling ever upwards, but new research now suggests that couples may be becoming more restrained in their attitude to spending on their big day. The average cost of a wedding is now about £16,000. A survey carried out by Halifax Personal Loans reveals that only nine per cent of people think this is a reasonable amount to pay. Over half of those questioned thought this was too much to fork out on their nuptials, believing that £10,000 or less was a more appropriate figure. One quarter of people in the survey would hope to cut costs even further by spending between £1,000 and £5,000.

Big day, big bills - couples seem to be cutting back on wedding extravagance

When it comes to the honeymoon, more people appear to be comfortable with the typical costs involved. The average cost of a honeymoon trip is Singletons are the most likely to be dreaming of an estimated at £2,475. Nearly half of those extravagant wedding, with a quarter of this group questioned agreed that between £2,000 and £4,999 prepared to consider spending more than £15,000 was a reasonable sum to pay. One in five when they get hitched. considered over £5,000 a more suitable figure. Only Interestingly, people who are already married or three per cent thought it would be more reasonable who had been married before were far less likely to to spend under £1,000. see the need to splash out over the odds. Only 13 Ian Corfield, head of Halifax Unsecured Personal per cent and 15 per cent respectively believed it Loans, says, "Weddings seem to have come back was reasonable to spend £15,000 or more. in fashion in recent years and we have seen Young love knows no financial bounds it seems, average costs increase dramatically. with one in five of the 18-25 age group considering "However, our survey suggests that there may be a £15,000 and over a reasonable amount to pay. This change in opinion as to how much couples should compares with one in 10 of the 25-34 age group spend. It may be that the costs typically involved and eight per cent of the 35-44 age group. have reached a level that is no longer considered Northerners are most inclined to splash out on reasonable. weddings. Four per cent said spending over "In contrast, people seem generally more £50,000 on their big day would be acceptable. comfortable with average honeymoon costs and do Couples in the southwest are the least likely to pay not see this level of expense as unreasonable or over the odds, with 17 per cent considering less over-inflated." than £1,000 a reasonable amount.

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Published by: Norris & Co (Worldwide) Limited Sales Telephone: 0844 588 7611 Address: Unit 32 Buckthorne Road, Minster on Sea, Kent. ME12 3RP Em ail: info@acrosskent.co.uk Web: www.acrosstheuk.co.uk Produced: Maxim um Period Between Issues 1 Month Whilst every care has been taken to ensure that the data in this publication is accurate, neither the publisher nor its editorial contributors can accept, and hereby disclaim, any liability to any party to loss or damage caused by errors or omissions resulting from negligence, accident or any other cause. All rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be copied, stored in a retrieval system or trans mitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherw ise. We are not responsible for any digital reproduction quality or any errors to adverts. Any views or opinions expressed here are those of their writers and do not reflect those of the Across Kent group of e-papers or its Director, staff or editor. Norris & Co (Worldw ide) Ltd or any of its trading companies accepts no responsibility legal or otherw ise for the accuracy or content of any of its e-papers or other publications, past or present or future. (Company Registration No: 7212046 ~ VAT No: 987 7971 27).

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How to: Find the Right Car Finance

Motorists are usually offered a series of payment agreements to help them afford the car of their dreams .

It may be that you are a City whizz-kid with a nice fat annual bonus with which to buy a car. You may be of sufficient means to dip into your bank account, or you may have had the foresight to save up the many thousands needed. But for most of us, car buying means borrowing at least some of the sticker price from somewhere. Traditionally buyers looked for a hire purchase deal from a specialist lender or from the dealer. Typically, after paying an initial deposit, the balance is repaid over 24-60 months.

too, or is covered by the trade-in value of your existing car. But as with any loan you must shop around and find the best deals and avoid excessive interest rates. For this reason it's important to have your finance sorted out well in advance of actually paying for the car. It's too easy to be left at the mercy of a dealer's finance scheme, which is unlikely to be the best around.

Having said that, there are great deals to be had from dealers sometimes, if these suit you. It's not unusual to find 0 per cent finance on some models and this can be a great option, as long as Until you've paid off all you owe, you know exactly what you're you don't own the car and cannot sell it without the agreement of the getting. There's no point jumping at a 0 per cent finance deal for 24 lender. And if you default on the months, after which you pay well payments, the lender can repossess the vehicle. over the odds in interest, if you can't actually pay it all off in those The interest on a hire purchase agreement tends to be fairly low 24 months. and the deposit is often quite low

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If you are going with dealer finance, always sort out your haggling over the car's price first. If it's all part of the package, you could find that the canny salesman is recouping some of the cheapness of the finance against the trade-in figure or the discount on the new car. The small print is important in any HP deal. Always check for extra payments for setting up, paying off, paying off early and so on. Ensure you have a figure for what you actually pay in total and get all the details in writing to consider before you sign up. An advantage of a hire-purchase agreement is that if you do have a defective car, the seller and the HP company are jointly liable under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act. But remember, if you do find yourself rejecting a car as unfit,

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you must keep up the payments until all parties agree to accept liability, otherwise you could find yourself being treated as defaulting on the loan.

The APRs quoted in relation to any finance deal are a good basis for comparison, but aren't absolute. Many people don't realise that the calculation of an APR is a complicated formula that doesn't There are lots of businesses out necessarily truly reflect the absolute there that advertise car finance, cost of a loan. So a 5.4 per cent particularly for those with a poor APR on one loan could mean you credit. Take very great care with pay pretty much the same as on a these. It is vitally important to read 6.2 per cent APR loan from another the small print and not become tied company. Always look at the total into ludicrously high rates of interest, figures you'll pay back. especially for a car that may be second-rate. Better to shop around One other thing to look out for is the established finance houses to debt insurance. It may sound see if you can get a realistically attractive to pay an insurance priced loan for a car that's really premium so your debt is covered in worth the cash: that way if push the event that you can't maintain comes to shove, you'll probably be payments. But beware large start-up able to work with the lender to sell fees, high charges and small print the car at a realistic cost to recover that will leave you stranded outside a reasonable amount of money to narrow criteria for paying up. repay the debt. There are other ways of financing a Personal loans are another simple car that have become popular in way of buying a car on cheap recent years. One such is personal finance. Unsecured loans for a contract finance. This is a variant of variety of purposes are widely the traditional business lease, under available, assuming your credit which you hire the vehicle for rating is OK. It is imperative, though, anything between two and three to check a range of lenders to years for a low deposit - or trade in ensure you're getting a good deal. plus a fixed monthly repayment that The internet has made this much covers about half the car's value. easier, with sites such as Maintenance costs can be www.moneysupermarket.com and incorporated for an extra monthly www.quickcompare.co.uk doing the premium. At the end of the term you work for you, scanning the rates on can pay a lump sum to cover the offer from a range of lenders. outstanding cost of the car and keep it, or use any equity you have in the Don't assume any one of these sites car - the difference between the lump sum to clear the debt and the automatically check everything trade value of the car - as the available though. Some sites may have a comparatively small panel of deposit on another car; or simply lenders from which to quote; others walk away with no debts but no car. may scan hundreds. Check a This form of finance may well suit number of comparison sites and people who like to change their cars you'll almost certainly end up often and who like to know they're beating even the pretty good price given on the "cheap loan" junk mail paying a fixed sum every month but who don't mind paying extra for from your bank or insurance that security. provider.

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There can be conditions attached, such as mileage limits, and any damage to the car will hit its value when assessed at the end of the contract term. Also, if the market slumps, as has happened recently, you may find the value of a car after three years isn't enough to give you any equity, hence you don't have a deposit for another car. But the upside is that actual monthly payments are usually quite low, the deal is easy to set up with the dealer at the time of buying your car and there's usually flexibility to accommodate your personal financial circumstances. Some people prefer to raise their car finance by borrowing on their mortgage. This has probably the lowest interest available, but don't forget that it may well be paid off over the lifetime of a mortgage and does mean your home is being used as security against the loan. It can be a very good option if you have the sort of mortgage that will allow you to repay the amount borrowed, without penalty, in a shorter timescale, to suit you. Wherever you get your finance, the golden rule is that you must know exactly what your finance is going to cost you in total by the time you've finished. Always read the documentation carefully, and use the "cooling-off" period to say no if it's not right. The best deals will normally be had by shopping around. It may take a little time and effort, but it will almost certainly pay off handsomely.

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shows an open mind when you can't say what's there. Anthea's always been good at that. She has an idea, like out of nowhere. That's why we sit like that, her facing the wall, me in a book, the other rooms all in darkness. We went to the garden centre to buy secateurs for cutting back thorns and pruning the cypress. I had in mind to buy another bird box and some seed and a sack of nuts for them. I told her 'I'd like to get something that's going to flower or smell pretty,' and she looked at what seeds we could sow in February while I looked at birdfeeders and nuts. There was a long sparrow house the size of a rabbit hutch, some small boxes for tits and wasps, one open-faced for robins, wagtails and wrens. I liked the house and I like robins, so I took both, then the nuts and two kilos of seed for a birdfeeder I found with suckers on it to stick on a window. She brought poppies and compost, then we looked at the vegetable seeds for when we'd finished the plot. We could plant parsnips and spring onions today, leeks, carrots and mange tout in March, then maybe squashes and courgettes in April. 'No point getting beans, is there,' she said. 'We never eat them.' Then some more flowers; sunflowers, lupine, some funny-coloured foxgloves – all sorts. We spent a fortune. We loaded it in the back then bought port at the Spar by Ann Summers' for while we worked. We didn't have to drive anywhere again until dark.

By Luke Thompson In the morning

I said 'Do you want to come to the garden centre?' She said 'Are you going now?' I said I could wait if she wanted to come. So I waited. We'd never grown anything before. We spoke in the car. She said Charles Dickens had invented Christmas, I said it was rubbish, then we didn't speak. At home we ask each other if we want tea, or who should cook tonight. She says 'I want to watch Whitechapel.' I say 'I'm going to do some work.' Or she sits at the computer in the corner, her back in the room, hunched. I sit in another corner, my head hung, reading about Agatha, or something. We keep in one room, except when I'm working, or when one of us needs the toilet. We keep in one room to save money on lights, but it means the whole house is dark, and it feels dark. It was Anthea's idea, and I like it. I don't mind saying I'm afraid of the dark a little. I'll say it's natural and it

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First thing we opened up the shed, let the door hang wide open, which made gardening a little more of an event, kind of challenged our orbit, if you see what I mean. Then we opened up the port, drew the few tools we had, Anthea said 'Do I just turn it all over with the fork?' I said 'I'll take back these brambles.' I knelt in the dirt. I said 'Mind these buds, if you see them.' 'What are they?' 'I think they mean to be crocuses.' 'Cool. Okay. Look, there's more over here. I'll use my hands when I get to them.' 'You can see that one's got a little purple in the middle there. See?' Her hair fell out from behind an ear and hung heavily, swinging. She was looking at the bud so intently she seemed almost cross-eyed, like she was fascinated by it, like she was figuring out how it works, the cogs and wheels inside. 'Yes.'

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After I'd finished I took a gulp of port and said I'd work on the tubs around the shed, and the rock garden there, which was nothing but leaves and hollow sticks and some plastic bits from somewhere. I moved the bird table in here, and nailed up the box for robins, about head-height. Anthea was still digging the plot. She had her gloves on, so she never replaced her hair once it fell, but she swung it over to one side of her head, where it curled around her neck. She leaned forward a little awkwardly. Her trousers made her arse a funny shape. They always did that. I remember when she first took them off, her skin was cold and her pubic hair pale orange and sparse. When we were back in the flat. After, I remember, in the morning we woke early, and she walked over to the window, naked waist down, and her hips moved, and she opened the curtains, the shape of a nymph, and she stood upright, her pubic hair now twisted into a single curl. She could tell I was watching, and she stood the fork in the ground and walked her long-legged walk, bowed and robotic, to fetch her drink. As she poured it down she stood like she stood at the window again, pale fingered, her hips forward, the line of her leg. 'Am I doing it right?' she said, then I showed her what I was doing and the dirt I'd cleared. 'See how dark this bit is compared to that.' Then we watched the kites over the field and the chimney on the house over the road oozing smoke. Around the crocuses Anthea went to her knees and crawled, pulling out small shoots. She made a pile of them, weeds and dirt, tiny roots like blood vessels, over my thorns. We were out until dark. The geese flew overhead and we came to. Eight of them, calling. Stupid birds. We really felt the day go. 'Shall we go out to dinner?' I said. She said 'So long as we're back in time,' taking off her boots. I cleared away the fork and gloves and the secateurs and locked the shed. Anthea took in the empty bottle and glasses. There were footprints in the earth where Anthea and I had pressed down the compost over the parsnip and spring onion seeds. There was nothing else we could do now until March. Inside, Anthea said 'I'm going to change.' I took off my socks and trousers at the door, put them straight in the basket. I heard her lock the bathroom door and turn the shower on. No point putting any other clothes on yet, so I stayed as I was. I picked up my book. I turned the light on and drew all the curtains, and sat in the settee and waited for her to finish.

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Based in Gillingham

THE SUMMERHOUSE SALON The Summerhouse Salon provides a private but professional setting for your beauty and personal grooming needs. All treatments are performed by myself and take place in my self contained summerhouse located in the back garden. This avoids the embarrassment many people, especially men, feel at having to walk into a salon. There are no queues or waiting around in reception areas and you don’t have to walk pass anyone else. The summerhouse is unisex and caters for both men and women and specialises in intimate waxing for both men and women. You are assured of a friendly and welcoming service and I am fully qualified and insured for all treatments. I am always open to new ideas and try to stay ahead of the latest treatments and products. I provide a range of holistic and beauty treatments that you can mix and match in any combination you would like. I look forward to helping you wit your beauty needs.

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Across Kent Issue 22 May