10 Weird And Wonderful Things About Flats/Apartments*


*This is a Collaborative Post*


Flats building insurance specialist Deacon shares 10 Weird and Wonderful things about flats!

With the current rate of global population growth, experts forecast a rise of approximately 1.8 billion people over the next 30 years worldwide. This means that the population will rise from the current 7.6 billion inhabitants to 9.8 billion by the year 2050. 

It can be difficult to visualize such vast numbers, so let's change the unit from people to seconds. So, if 1 million seconds takes just under 12 days to elapse, can you quickly estimate how many days a billion seconds might take? Well, it would take roughly 31 years, 251 days to elapse. which makes you realize just how vast a number a billion is in any context. The difference between millionaires and billionaires is actually quite a lot as it turns out.

The British Government estimates that there are approx 2.75 million private leasehold flats in England - which actually accounts for about one eighth of all dwellings in England, not including statistics from Scotland and Wales. Flats and apartments therefore account for quite a high proportion of homes in the UK. So when we were told 10 weird and wonderful facts about flats, past, present, and future, by Deacon Insurance* who are themselves specialists in blocks of flats insurance we felt we just had to share them with you. 


1. What Do The Romans Have To Do With Flats - They Lived In Villas! Right? . . . 

It certainly came as somewhat of a surprise to me to learn that like with many other things the Romans were the first civilization to realize the spatio-economic benefits of building domiciles skywards with what we could easily recognize today as being akin to modern day flats/apartments. It wasn't all luxurious country villas and exotic bath houses for the ordinary rank and file. As the ever increasing population in Roman cities posed more significant housing challenges it forced the Romans to learn new methods and invest in building structures which were higher and much stronger than previous buildings.

Critical to this process was the use of concrete, which allowed them to create new architectural forms and when combined with the standardization of a building brick, this step forward allowed for a relatively quick, reliable and durable construction. The earliest Roman multi-storey blocks, which would usually feature shops on the ground floor, with apartments on two or more floors above, were called 'insula', which translated from Latin means 'islands'. This name stems from the fact that these insulas would often occupy an entire city block, rising above all of the roads leading around the tower block created the illusion of an island surrounded by the sea.

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2. Forest Flats You Say???

Forest flats in the heart of the northern Italian city of Milan are an unusual yet ingenious way of incorporating nature and beauty into an architectural form which often times is anything but beautiful. This particular incarnation of flats is the brainchild of a clever Milanese architect named Stefano Boeri. His concept for the 'Bosco Verticale' or, 'Vertical Forest' in English, uses more than twenty thousand trees and plants with which to adorn the high rise buiildings from top to bottom. Due to the the stunning effects of balconies covered with beautiful fauna this concept has now been followed the world over from China and the Far east to the Netherlands. Most people are cognisant of the need for greenery and that trees are good for cities, and as you can see from the images below, they are very eye catching and quite stunning in their own way.


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3. The Seventy Year Time Capsule

This is a rather unusual yet brief introduction to a story which I found to be interesting. Prior to the outbreak of hostilities in the 1930's that would become known as the Second World War, and with the Germans looking to conquer the European mainland (which would largely come to fruition); a young woman fled her Parisian apartment for the south of France, she never returned. Her name was Marthe de Florian and she was a famous actress. 

The strangeness is not that she didn't return, as during that period of time millions of people across the continent were displaced. The weird thing is that the owner of the building never noticed that his tenant had gone and not returned. I don't quite know how such an oversight could be made, but when the owner died in 2010, experts were called in to his property to access the value of his estate. Upon opening the front door they walked 70 odd years back in time, the flat was absolutely untouched and looked exactly as it did all those decades prior. Must have been a slightly eerie feeling walking in and seeing that.


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4. Shape-Shifting Buildings You Say? Have You Lost Your . . . Oh Wait . . .

It may sound completely bonkers or like the stuff of science fiction, but the world’s first shape shifting rotating tower block is set to be unveiled in Dubai by the year 2020 according to architectural firm Dynamic Group. The images below look every bit as inspiring, futuristic and incredible as one might have guessed. Dubai and the middle east are definitely pushing the boundaries of architectural structures. I would love to go visit and see them all for myself at some point in the not too distant future. It's the only real way to grasp the scale of something so large. 


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5. Recycling On A Huge Scale

Here in the UK at present there are some absolutely huge re-cycling projects taking place across the country in inner cities. Familiar buildings are being saved from demolition and reducing levels of neglect for such buildings in effort to convert these huge places into flats and living accommodation. This is obviously great in terms of putting a beautiful building to good use, rather than simply letting them fall into a state of disrepair and becoming an eye sore. In fact due to the architectural significance, history and beauty many of the original features of these building are being carefully maintained and in some cases restored in order to preserve the legacy of those who built them so many generations ago. The BBC Television Centre at White City is one example, as is Battersea Power Station and the Hoover Building in London. The first residential tower block in the UK, "The Lawn," was constructed in Harlow, Essex in 1951. It too is now a Grade II listed building. Conversions are taking place across the country and there seems to be no shortage of buyers for urban loft apartments especially so in prime city-centre locations, so we can probably expect the current trend to continue as developers look to cash in.


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6. What The Hek Is That Noise?!

Chinese planners aren't quite as sensitive as their British counterparts it seems. They certainly didn’t let a little thing like a railway get in the way of the need to build more flats in the emerging mega-city of Chongqing in order to help solve the ever increasing inner city urban population. The train line actually goes straight through the residential building and it is every bit as crazy as it sounds! I don't know what safety measures are in place, but perhaps safety wasn't at the forefront of the planners minds in this case given that people could get hit by a train just upon opening their front door! However, I bet it certainly gives those who live there a greater sense of appreciation for life once they finally do make it out of their building safely! :)


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7. Where In The World Are The Tallest And Smallest?

Dubai's iconic Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest skyscraper in the world standing at 72 metres high, but that is set to change. In 2020 the 1000 metre mile high Jeddah Tower, with serviced apartments, is set to claim the prize of being the world's tallest building, for a while anyway. While in the Chinese city of Wuhan, with serious concerns of overpopulation looming, they've gone tiny. The city has built two person apartments that are only 50 square feet! But when it comes to the largest, then first prize has to go to The Copan Building in Sao Paulo, familiar to Sim City players as a building they can drop in. The 38-story residential building comprises over 1,160 apartment units and is home to more than and 5,000 residents!

The Tallest . . .

Dubai can currently lay claim to having the world's tallest sky scraper, the Burj Khalifa, which stands at an astonishing 829 metres tall, with 163 floors. It has been the tallest building in the world since it was topped out in 2008. However, should plans in Saudi Arabia materialize then this record is set to be broken. The 1000m tall Jeddah Tower looks set to be completed sometime next year (2020).

The Smallest . . .

Back to China here for a look at what has to be the antithesis of the kinds of development going on in the Middle East. In the city of Wuhan, local government and planning officials have decided upon a rather non glamorous solution. With a rapidly rising inner city population they have decided to build tiny two man apartments which are only 50sq ft in total. Don't think I'll be moving there anytime soon.

Worth a Mention . . .

In Sau Paulo, Brazil, The Copan Building, at 38 storeys, is by no means anywhere near the tallest in the world or even in Brazil. However it's still worthy of a mention for the simple fact that with around 1160 apartments it is called home by upwards of five thousand inhabitants. Which is quite staggering in my humble opinion.

World's tallest


8. Going Underground And Underwater?

Again with this one we are teetering on the brink of Sci-Fi surely? But lo and behold, architects are now seriously considering building downwards as a viable alternative to building skywards. In 2011 a so-called 'EarthScraper' for Mexico City was proposed, the Greater Mexico City area being one of the most heavily populated cities in the world with over 21 million inhabitants. That's approximately a third of the total population of the United Kingdom.

Although the Mexico City plan is the only serious plan put forth of its kind, the concept is most definitely on the drawing board, with a whole range of obstacles and challenges which would need to be overcome. With technology expanding at such a rate it might not be as far fetched as it might seem. Give it time. After all, with 70% of the earths surface being covered in water, Aequorea a visionary city that would be built off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has already been proposed. This kind of makes the whole subterranean 'Earthscrapers' concept seem quite fathomable by comparison, to the layman like me anyway. Again, give it time, the future looks set to be every bit as crazy as we we could imagine.


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9. Most Expensive

Having lived in London myself it certainly came as no surprise to me, nor will it to many of you, that the city ranks at No. 2 in the world for the most expensive cost of a city centre flat beaten into second place only by Hong Kong which I have to say did surprise me slightly. 

As an interesting aside, MSN Money investigated the different costs of living in UK cities with an emphasis on housing being a major component. Unsurprisingly, they found that London is the most expensive place in the UK to live; where they estimate that in order to lead a relatively comfortable life one would need about £7090 per month. Oxford, Edinburgh and Brighton took the next spots all with a figure of around the £5000 mark. With such extortionate living costs it is little wonder why so many tens of thousands of people choose to commute daily rather than living close by to their work. 

If money were no object how much would you be willing to pay for an apartment? Well in October 2018 the UK's most expensive flat was valued in October 2018 at a cool £160 million. The address? 1 Hyde Park. SW1. Which to be fair is a cool sounding address. Not sure it's quite worth such a hefty price tag though.


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10. The Last Word . . . The Legacy Of Feudalism

People are often surprised now in the 21st century that it is still possible to lose your flat and be left homeless if you break the terms of the lease or don’t pay the necessary service charges!  Of course in practice, it’s become more difficult over the years for a freeholder (also known as the landlord) to evict people and reclaim homes, but it most definitely can and does happen

Where did such a feudal practice come from? Well, Land Law in Great Britain can be held at least partly responsible as the system in place in the UK today can trace it's roots way back to just after the Norman Conquest of GB in 1066. King William the new Lord of this realm was as business savvy and astute as he was absolutely fearless and brutal. He along with other powerful Lords would often grant 'inferior interests' aka leases in land and then in turn take an income from it themselves. King William at the higher end of this would reward many of his loyal friends and supporteres with vast estates in his newly acquired kingdom. These men were given titles such as Baron and it was up to them to make sure they collected all of the rents due from the inhabitants of their particulara area of jurisdiction. From these monies, the Baron would then send a percentge to the Crown, - if he valued his life that is. 

Interestingly enough, covenants on freehold properties only go as far as to define what you cannot do with regards to the property itself. With leasehold property they can also define what you must do in order to remain legal and above board. So for example, this might entail a directive to pay for the upkeep of an asset which might still be owned by the freeholder. 

In Scotland the system is quite different, there is no 'feu duty' - and so the equivalent of the British 'ground rent' could be set up post 1974, and no residential lease for more than 20 years could be created.

*Deacon has specialised in providing buildings insurance and associated products for flats and apartments for more than 29 years.


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Deacon is a trading name of Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered Office: Spectrum Building, 7th Floor, 55 Blythswood Street, Glasgow, G2 7AT. Registered in Scotland. Company Number: SC108909 FP1129

The opinions and views expressed in the above articles are those of the author only and are for guidance purposes only.  The authors disclaim any liability for reliance upon those opinions and would encourage readers to rely upon more than one source before making a decision based on the information. The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited trading as Deacon accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.  All the links provided were active and working correctly at the time of publication but may not work in future. 

*Article contributed by Deacon and edited by Michael David. Header image source Pexels. Other images contributed via Deacon.


The Arctic Blast - Driving In The Winter Months*




*This is a collaborative post*

Winter is well and truly upon us and unless you've been hiding under a rock I'm sure you'll have either experienced the recent arctic blast that swept across the UK or you'll at least have read about it in the news. 

We had our fair share of ice in Lancashire and I don't know about you lot but I personally hate driving in icy or snowy conditions. It always felt daunting before but now I'm twenty six weeks pregnant I'm even more nervous and wary than I was... Which brings me to the point of todays post! There are certain factors you ought to consider when you're driving in these winter months. 

Tips For Driving In Icy Weather

For starters you should allow more time for your journeys. I allow a good extra ten minutes each morning so I can take it easy as I'm travelling to work. Whilst many of the main roads have usually been gritted, many of the smaller rural areas and side streets haven't and these can prove lethal. 

It may even be worth investing in winter car tyres as they handle much better in icy conditions. Kwik Fit in particular are worth a mention as one of my go-to personal favourites. In fact you may remember in a recent post I mentioned my unfortunate start to the new year when I had a tyre puncture. It's safe to say that Kwik Fit have come to my rescue on many an occasion. They're super efficient, speedy and their tyres don't break the bank. 

When the weather is really dire there may even be weather warnings from the MET Office advising not to drive unless absolutely necessary. Whilst sometimes driving seems unavoidable, it's also sensible to pay attention to these warnings and if you really don't have to drive then don't. If you do find driving unavoidable, try to stick to the main roads where the gritters have been. 

If you find yourself in a spot of bother, for example if your car slides on ice, do not panic or slam on the brakes. You can correct the car by turning into the slide. Ice Road Safety have helpful tips and videos on topics such as this if you're unsure of what to do. 

As simple as this one sounds, don't drive too fast. You're more likely to experience sliding on ice or even an accident if you're going too quickly. Also don't brake too harshly, instead you should squeeze the brakes gently and allow extra stopping time. 

Make sure you pack supplies in the event of a breakdown or on the off chance you get stranded in snow. Being pregnant I find this is even more paramount now as I wouldn't want to get caught stuck in a freezing blizzard at night with nothing to eat or to keep me warm. Pack items such as a thermal blanket, warm clothes, gloves, hat, high-vis jacket, winter boots, torch, batteries, food and drink, first aid kit, a small shovel, jump start cables, ice scraper, de-icer and an in car phone charger or portable battery charger.

Invest in breakdown cover to give you some peace of mind. Sadly gone are the days I can ring my dad to come rescue me so I've had to take out breakdown cover myself and it's not at all expensive. 

Make sure you have anti-freeze in your engine cooling system to prevent it from freezing over. 

Top up your screen wash so you can keep your windscreen clean and clear at all times.

Check your lights are all working properly. 

Lastly, don't forget to allow time for de-icing your car every morning or else you'll find yourself running late and rushing.

This isn't by any means a completely exhaustive list but it's certainly a good starting point. You can find even more tips for driving in winter conditions online so do have a peruse. Drive safely folks!

*Photo source Pexels



Looking For Some New Designer Wear This Spring?*

Image Source OD's Clothing
*This is a Collaborative Post*

So we are now well into February and I am curious as to how many of us made resolutions a few weeks ago relating to improving our own levels of health and fitness? Well the good news is that for those of you sticking to it, you should be seeing results by this stage and if you are seeing noticeable improvements then I congratulate you. It is always a struggle for me to stick to mine that's for sure, but barring a few cheats here and there i am sticking to things reasonably well i'd say. God loves a try'er and all that. 

Image Source Pixabay

However, one of the downsides to suddenly becoming more health conscious is that it is eminently possible that like me, you might one day open your wardrobe door, only to pull out an item (a previous fave) which you quickly realize no longer fits; and worse still, as you further investigate, you find the only things which still fit you properly are the decade old pieces which have been collecting dust in the corner and should have been sent to the re-cycling unit long ago.

Or perhaps with Valentine's Day around the corner, you might be looking for a great chance to purchase a quality garment relatively late on for your partner, and again it is worth noting that this is a retailer who specialize in purveying only quality goods from the most reputable of brands as afore mentioned. There a lots of pieces which are unusual and unique, and it's always nice to know you've got something relatively few people will be wearing when you next go out.

Image Source Pixabay

There are also a good choice of watches from some great names in the world of horology, names such as Tissot, Raymond Weil et al, a good quality watch is always a sure fire winner as a gift for a man in your life I think. Whether for Valentine's, as a birthday gift or to celebrate someones retirement, after all a beautifully crafted timepiece can be a beautiful reminder and a lifelong keepsake. There's also a great collection of ladies watches too, special mention must go to Swarovski who have come out with some absolutely beautiful pieces, elegant to 'glitzy glam', I would say there's something for everyone.

Image Source OD's Clothing


I am on the lookout for some inspiration for this forthcoming Spring/Summer as I'd like to have a refreshed look this year. There are lots of great items at as you can see from the images. If you are on the lookout for accessories or a handbag then you are also in luck as they have a great selection to choose from. They have top quality items, and cater for every occasion, whether smart or really casual.

We have just had a real 'cold snap' but with the blue skies and sunshine later in the week, it seems the promise of the forthcoming Spring shall shortly be upon us. So, whatever your reason for having a splurge, be sure to check out OD's Designer Clothing as they cater to all demands with a fantastic collection of designer clothes men, women and children.

Image Source OD's Clothing

It's always great to feel good in what you wear, especially at the gym when training as this is when we really need garments which are comfortable,, supportive as well as stylish (of possible) and so it would be remiss of me not to at least mention the Designer Ladies Tracksuits which are currently in stock from designer such as Moschino, Calvin Klein and True Religion which personally i think both look great, and ideal for training. They also have some with a slightly thicker material which would be great for those outdoors cold morning runs when a little more warmth might be required.




A Few Things To See And Do In Liverpool*

Image Source Pixabay
*This is a collaborative post*

Liverpool is a city which in terms of it's visitor appeal, has been increasingly on the rise in recent times. In 2008 Liverpool was designated as the European Capital of Culture which was a fitting tribute and a prestigious nod to what was then a city successfully fighting it's way into the 21st century. Liverpool is a city which has a deeply rich cultural history, interwoven within the fabric of Britain's own intriguing past.


Image Source Pixabay

Historically it was a major trading port crucial to Britain's economy and especially so during the industrial revolution; being a key component in the exportation of British goods such as fabrics like cotton from the mills of the north which were abundant with product for so long.

The city's designation as the European Culture Capital was a nod to a new and improved Liverpool, and now over a decade later Liverpool can well and truly claim to be a modern, vibrant and cosmopolitan city with a vast array of things to do and sights to see for everyone. There are many beautiful examples of architecture and one can instantly recognize by the scale and splendor of some of the public buildings just how rich and powerful a city Liverpool was, during the days of British Empire.

Image Source Pixabay

One of the most popular attractions in recent years has been the Liverpool ONE Complex, boasting over 150 stores, restaurants, and with a bustling shopping scene. Some of the Bars and restaurants are widely regarded as among the best in Liverpool so a good night is sure to be had. There's cinemas as well as indoor golf which is always a good laugh.

And whether regarding food, you fancy American, Brazilian, Spanish, Thai, Caribbean, Mexican or Japanese, your taste's will be well catered for that's for sure. Liverpool One is handily located near the famous Waterfront development which is in itself a great tourist attraction, and worth popping by if you have a chance. Visiting Liverpool One is a great experience whether you are alone, with a partner or all of the family there's plenty to see and do!

If you fancy a few drinks after a pleasant evening meal, or you want to have a morning Espresso followed by a dose of retail therapy, you'll be glad you came.

Image Source Pixabay

There are numerous theatres around the city from the Liverpool Philharmonic, to the Empire Theatre, be sure to check out which shows you can catch as there is always a plethora of shows to pick from.

Liverpool also has many UNESCO World Heritage sites, and examples of outstandingly beautiful architecture including the afore mentioned Royal Liver building. This building is one of the 'Three Graces' along with the 'Cunard' and the 'Port of Liverpool building' and are widely acknowledged as being among the finest examples of architecture in their respective styles by world leading experts in their field and are certainly worth a pic or two.

It would be remiss of me to not mention the grandeur of Aintree Racecource and it's annual world famous Grand National. If you fancy a flutter I'd definitely recommend a visit here for an unforgettable experience. Sticking with sport Liverpool is of course the home of two famous football clubs, Everton FC, and their fierce rivals Liverpool FC. 

Image Source Pixabay

If you are a fan of football, timing a trip to coincide with a local derby, or even to go and witness first hand the atmosphere when the famous old song is sung by the faithful, 'You'll Never Walk Alone' as thousands of Red flags are waved in 'The KOP'; no matter what team you might support I personally think it's one of the great scenes and experiences in British football and well worth the match fee. If you'd rather learn a little about the history of the clubs and their significance to the locals then you might want to go for a guided stadium tour which are available at Liverpool's Anfield Stadium and Everton's Goodison Park.

Whatever you choose to do there's something for you in Liverpool.



Food Alternatives You Might Not Have Heard Of*



With vegan diets booming, and with increased awareness of dietary requirements such as gluten-free and lactose-free products, there has been a sudden increase in recent years in food alternatives and food trends. Everyone has heard of coconut milk, chickpea flour and spiralised vegetables - but what about camel milk, ghee and kefir?

1. Camel Milk

Camel milk is the newest non-traditional alternative to dairy milk rather than favourites such as coconut, almond and hazelnut. Camel milk contains all the excellent properties of cow milk, such as being high in calcium and protein, but camel milk may also provide an alternative to those with lactose intolerance as well.
Camilk provides 100% natural and high-quality milk that can be bought in powdered or even soap form from all parts of the world, where it is transported freshly produced from their camel farms in Oceania, Asia, Africa and North America.




2. Coconut Water

The benefits of drinking water has been touted for many years, including reduced fatigue, weight loss and increased concentration. However, if you are looking for water with a bit more taste and a large quantity of even more health benefits, coconut water has recently made its way onto shop shelves to become the newest drink trend. As well as being sweeter than water, coconut water has also been shown to reduce kidney stones, have antioxidant properties, reduce blood pressure and help to support your heart.

3. Jackfruit

Jackfruits taste sweet when they are raw before tasting sour after they are cooked. This makes them a diverse fruit to use in a variety of salads and dinner-time recipes. They have many health benefits such as containing calcium and iron and are an excellent replacement for meat in dishes due to their relatively thick and substantial texture. Although its whole grain and fibre content is high for vegans, it has less calories in than other vegan alternatives but sometimes includes added sugar if it is pre-packaged.

4. Ghee

Ghee makes an excellent replacement to butter for those that are lactose-intolerant or simply would like to replace butter for a healthier option - in fact, it has also been used in medicine in the Middle East, South Asia and India. Ghee is used most commonly in South Asian cooking, although it is gaining in popularity, and is a clarified butter that is made from cow or buffalo milk. Ghee becomes lactose-free due to its clarified nature; it is cooked longer than normal butter until it is reduced purely to butterfat, rather than containing milk solids.

5. Kefir

Kefir is a yoghurt-like substance that can be eaten as a foodstuff or can also be found sold in drinkable containers. Kefir contains all the goodness of the live bacteria in yoghurtdue to its fermented nature, and you can add it to a variety of dishes such as breakfast items like cereal. Kefir can lead to weight loss and, like yoghurt, can help to strengthen your immune system with its probiotic qualities.

*Images via Pexels




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