Thursday, 31 May 2012

Beach Weddings

Beach Weddings

Outdoor weddings are a popular option these days and a white sandy beach already has a beautiful backdrop with the blue sky and sea so there's no need for many decorations.

A sand ceremony is ideal and special vows can be said while the happy couple pour two vessels of coloured sand into a third container to symbolise the couple's lives coming together forever. The mixed sand is then perfect to support a candle at the reception party.

Do remember all of the furniture you use is not fixed so be prepared for gusts of wind that could knock things over. And consider using a sound system so your guests can hear the vows as nervous voices do not travel well in the open air.

A beach wedding is a relaxed setting. It's not formal; you've shunned the restraints of walls so don't plan a long service as you would have in a church. Keep the ceremony short and have more time with your guests.

Avoid the midday sun as the bright light is not helpful for photographers and your guests will be uncomfortable in the heat. A better time to exchange vows is just before sunset when it’s cooling down and you can have your photographs taken when the light is at its most flattering.

As tempting as it may be, don't spend your time leading up to the ceremony sunbathing as wedding photos are for life so you don't want to be sunburnt.

You could go to your local public beach, a hotel with a private beach or you could even take over a whole island such as Desroches Island in the Seychelles. If you choose a public beach, check with the local authorities if permission is needed and remember you may have extra onlookers who could appear in your photos.

Embrace your chosen location as a Caribbean beach lends itself nicely to rum punch with friends and a steel band playing Calypso into the evening. A Hawaiian beach wedding could mean a bright Hawaiian shirt for the groom and a holoku Hawaiian white gown for the bride. Australian beach weddings go hand in hand with a barbecue and a Greek Island wedding could have some lively plate smashing to follow!

If you choose a hotel beach do check what services they can offer such as hairdressers, make-up artists, florists and private catering. A hotel with a spa is great idea to keep you and your guests busy before the ceremony.

Pamela Anderson married Tommy Lee in 1995 in a beach wedding wearing a tiny white bikini but that's probably not the look most brides will want to go for. Bejewelled corsetry is also not a good option for hot climates so think about loose, cotton, linen or silk clothing which can be beautifully stylish and much more appropriate. Plus white is best in hot locations.

Think about whether the groom really should wear a suit and tie as you've chosen a relaxed wedding venue so let him be able to breathe in the heat too.

Brides should avoid heels as they will obviously sink in the sand or if you simply can't do without them then wedges can work. Barefoot is even better and there are some lovely 'barefoot bridal sandals' available which are beaded foot jewellery.

Beach weddings lend themselves to smaller congregations so many couples decide to have a party for friends when they return home. Those who do attend, and have travelled to join you, are likely to spend your honeymoon with you too so choose wisely.

Personalised flip flops are a cute idea to give to guests and make sure you have bottles of water and sunscreen available for all. A small container of sand from the beach makes a lovely wedding favour.

However you plan your big day, a beach wedding can be just as special as a traditional ceremony and will start your married life together with some wonderful memories.

Laura Porter has written this article for ISIC, the mother ship of SEAS-IT. She also writes an online London travel guide for (part of the New York Times Company) and is a Visit Britain Super Blogger too. She fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen's. You can follow her on twitter at @AboutLondon.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Lighthouse Living

Lighthouses were built to perform a safety role marking treacherous coastlines for mariners and had to include a tall tower so the lamp was high enough to be seen before the danger was reached. The lights may be off these days, but someone is at home. Decommissioned lighthouses are being auctioned off around the world as technology means they are no longer needed. Some of these iconic buildings have been transformed into visitor centres, or for holiday stays as so many of us have a fascination with living in lighthouse. But if you have a healthy bank balance, you can buy your very own lighthouse and make it your home.

One of the best things about lighthouse buildings are the 360-degree panoramic views and the dramatic locations. Some are located on the mainland coast and others can only be reached by boat or helicopter.

Being a Lighthouse Keeper
I asked a friend whose father was a Scottish Lighthouse Keeper what the lifestyle was really like. The family always lived in a house near the lighthouse which was often a fair distance from the nearest town so the remote location meant they sometimes kept chickens and had to plan good food storage. They had to move every three years but, while some families found this difficult, my friend didn't mind and enjoyed the freedom. His father worked one month on and one month off at the lighthouse and they had telephone contact every day. His father took the job straight out of the army and embraced the long hours and solitary work.

Like most people, I thought the Lighthouse Keeper was up and down stairs all day but it turns out there's a large room at the bottom of the tower which is where they spend most of their time. His days were filled with maintenance of the lighthouse - mostly down in the engine room - and he only needed to go up to the top once a day.

The job developed over the years and monitoring a weather station was another important role. There was also a lot of painting to be done as the harsh weather battered the building, plus maintaining and sounding the foghorn in a storm was vital too.

While away for a month at a time, Lighthouse Keepers would receive supplies by boat and could send things back to their families by helicopter every two weeks. My friend's dad would mostly send back his dirty laundry and an enormous amount of library books as he would read about twenty books every two weeks.

Owning a Lighthouse
Due to the exposed locations, lighthouses are at risk from eroding coastlines and one owner literally moved Belle Toute lighthouse at Beachy Head in Sussex, England when the cliffs started crumbling too close.

This will give you an idea of the enormity of the proposition of owning a lighthouse and being a custodian for a heritage building. While the peace and privacy of the remote locations may seem idyllic, the costs involved take it far beyond most dreamers' reach.

If you're still tempted, the United State Lighthouse Society has advice on how to be a Lighthouse Keeper, the Northern Lighthouse Board has advice for Scotland, and Trinity House has excellent resources on lighthouses in England and Wales.

Laura Porter has kindly written this article especially for SEAS-IT. She writes an online London travel guide for (part of the New York Times Company) and is a Visit Britain Super Blogger too. She fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen's. You can follow her on twitter at @AboutLondon.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Our four best Compression Tools for Windows/ Mac

Our four best Compression Tools for Windows/ Mac
A while ago, we talked about compressed files and today we will see which alternative third party tools you could use instead of the Windows implemented version. We will compare commercial Shareware tools with free open-source alternatives. The standard criteria for a good compression tool are the
·         Ability to split compressed files in smaller pieces
·         File encryption and password support for archives
·         SFX - Self-extracting file formats (so other people won’t need a third party tool to open the compressed file)
·         Multilingual support for the major languages
·         Extracting the most common file formats for compression tools (Such as RAR, ZIP, ZIPX, 7-ZIP, TAR and ACE)

WinZip is the classical third party tool for creating zip-files. It offers also other useful functions such as automated backup (only pro) or image resizing and also comes with the familiar ribbon interface (same as Microsofts Office 2007/2010). It comes in a standard and pro version – while the core functions such as zipping and unzipping will be supported by both versions. Since version 14 they have introduced a new file format named “ZIPX”, which is by default the ending of the compressed container file. Due to the fact that this format is new, not many utilities support it.
·         Supports image-resizing
·         Ribbon interface
·         Integrated “Zip-Send” function

·         View-function for compressed only with pro-version
·         Bad compression rate with “ZIP”
·         No “ACE” support


Beside zip-files WinRar offers one of the most common compression formats – the “.rar” format. It offers a way much better compression than the zip-format and can be opened by well-known third party programs. It has a clean interface and supports up to 45 different languages and provides in addition to its own compression format also the creation of zip-files. You can also extract a large variety of archive types and advanced SFX options. On the official Website you could also download different themes for the interface which are offered with different icon sizes for the toolbar.

·         Supports many languages
·         Enhanced SFX
·         Supports themes with different icon sizes
·         Repair function for damaged archives
·         Overloads the context menu on default installation
·         No “ZIPX” support


7-Zip is a powerful and free compression utility for private and commercial use. It supports several of archive formats, such as the native 7-ZIP format “.7z” but also “.zip” and “.tar” formats. It’s known for a one of the best compression-rate for large files and offers an option for different compression algorithms. The interface, which looks similar to commercial solutions such as WinRAR, is minimalistic and even an inexperienced user, could handle it. There is an active community behind this software which helps you out if there are any questions left. 7-Zip comes mainly for Windows based systems, but offers also packages for Linux, Macs and other systems. It’s free for commercial and non-commercial use.
·         Supports up to 79 languages
·         Supports 256-bit AES encryption
·         Themes can be installed
·         Minimalistic interface
·         Only one stable release since version 9


Free Arc
In its current version 0.666, the website of Free Arc propagate to be between 2x – 5x faster than programs such as 7-Zip, WinRAR and WinZip. The functions of that program are quite impressive. It offers also different algorithms for compression and also for encryption. It’s native file format is “.arc” which is currently the only file format which is supported (0.7 will also support “.zip” and “.7z” formats for compression). The interface might be a bit difficult for beginners, due to a large possibility of settings which can be done. After the installation Free Arc integrates itself like other tools into the context menu of Windows. Like 7-Zip it also supports Themes and is free for commercial and non-commercial use.
·         Supports many languages
·         Different methods of encryption possible
·         No support for “.zip” compression
·         Interface only for experienced users
·         No Mac support