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When it comes to growing plants, fruit and vegetables, there are a number of ways we can maximise nature’s potential. But why would we want to? Well, it’s simple: by maximising nature’s potential we can ensure that farmers and merchants are able to improve the quality of their crops in an efficient way. In turn, consumers reap the benefit of reliable, desirable produce at an affordable price. Here’s how…

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First, we can maximise nature’s potential by helping crops to resist insects and pests. Creepy crawlies such as aphids, wireworms and seedcorn maggots can damage crops, resulting in lower yields and lower profits for farmers. To ward off these kinds of pests, protectants, treatments and chemicals can be applied to lessen the damage inflicted.

Another method of maximising nature’s potential is by seed pelleting, a process which adds materials to seeds to change their size and shape. This method of maximising nature’s potential is very helpful for growers: it allows for more oxygen to penetrate the seed, allows farmers to accurately space seeds with precision, and makes them idea for mechanical seed planting (which means the most crop be produced using fewest man-hours).

How else can we maximise nature’s potential? Well, we can alter seeds slightly to increase the strength of the crop. This is particularly helpful in our changing climate as it enables produce to withstand extreme weather and unpredictable fluctuations. Without harnessing the potential of a seed in this way, many crops would otherwise fail. An extra upshot of maximising nature’s potential in this manner means that we don’t have to rely on optimum growing conditions to increase the chances of producing a good yield, which can go a long way to making food more plentiful – and therefore cheaper!

Another way we can maximise nature’s potential is by treating seeds in a way that brings about a high crop yield. We can do this by adding chemicals and substances that protect crops from bacteria and disease, which ultimately leads to a larger number of crops within a yield surviving long enough to become suitable for sale.

You might be getting enough calories, but are you getting enough nutrients? There’s a way of maximising nature’s potential to solve that. We can adapt plants to become more nutritious by improving their vitamin or mineral content. In fact, the United Nations recommended that rice be enhanced with vitamin A to help reduce deficiencies of the nutrient around the world, resulting in the growth of ‘golden rice’ – an undertaking that won the Patent for Humanity award in 2015. So, as well as improving the overall quality of our diets generally, this method of maximising nature’s potential can go a long way towards fighting malnutrition across the globe.

Finally, we can maximise nature’s potential by engineering new kinds of crops, suitable for the climate they’re grown in. For example, scientists have developed a type of tomato that can grow successfully in salty soil, and more recently, scientists have grown a cereal crop that is enriched with omega-3 oils to be fed to farmed fish which enables them to grow larger. As producers and consumers, maximising nature’s potential is good news for us!

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Do You Really Know What's In Your Food?
Provided by Fysiqal Nutrition

Christmas: a time for giving, receiving (and posting unwanted gifts online). A day, where the ‘present face’ appears in living rooms of almost every home in the country. If you’re not familiar with this term, you will most likely be familiar with the action; it’s the awkward smile and overflow of insincere compliments that follows from opening unwanted presents.

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But don’t fret – there are many ways you can make the most of receiving ghastly gifts as this helpful infographic explains.

The subject of selling on gifts, you have received, may be taboo, but it is a great way to save money and potentially get yourself out of debt. It means that instead of it going to waste, someone who really ‘wants’ it can enjoy it and you get the benefit from an extra few bob in your pocket.

On a more serious note however, if you are struggling after the Christmas excesses and want some advice on how to get out of debt, visit the Money Advice Service which offers free support managing your finances and tips and tools on how to budget.

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A bad recruitment strategy is going to cost you lots of money. Actually, it’s going to cost your more than money. Hiring the wrong people is going to lead to a reduction in worker productivity, lost time, a reduction in team morale and a negative impact on your client relationships. Want to know where you’re going wrong? Read on…

You don’t have the right software

One thing any business needs to consider is the cost of trying to hire new staff: so first, invest in the right tools to make your recruitment process cost-efficient. You could reduce man hours by making use of things like CIPHR HR Systems, drawing on the power of recruitment systems to boost your visibility to potential employees and widen your pool of candidates.

Online applicant trackers are also useful if you’d like to better manage the administrative tasks associated with recruitment, and there’s nothing wrong with relying on old-school technology too. A simple telephone interview will begin to give you a feel for a candidate’s suitability before you invest time and money in face to face talks.

You’re too focused on qualifications

Qualifications are important; strong higher education qualifications naturally infer that your employees will be able to assimilate new skills and knowledge at speed, and depth. But, it isn’t the be all and end all (except, of course, for jobs requiring a level of education such as law, accounting or medicine). What is very important however is a desire to learn.

Bright, passionate employees will be willing and able to learn how to do the job you require of them, and don’t necessarily need a degree to get started. It’s important that your business is hiring people who are motivated to develop with you: remember that a University certificate isn’t an indicator of that.

You’re hiring the wrong people

Stop making quick-fixes, and start taking the process slowly. Whilst it’s inevitable you’ll find yourself trying to hire a replacement for a leaver from time to time, try to become more pro-active with your recruitment strategy. If you envisage needing more staff for a particular role, begin by making a clear list of ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’. By giving yourself more time you can afford to be more ‘choosey’ about who you give a job to. Ultimately, less time-pressured you are higher the chances are of making the right decision.

You might also be missing a trick by only interviewing people who approach you. Some of the best people for your organisation are already working for another business. Why not put some feelers out for people who might consider a change of scene? What can you offer that makes your business an avenue worth considering?

You’re not practising good interview techniques

Are your interviewers properly trained? Are they asking relevant, targeted questions, and are they delivering them in a way that prompts a longer response rather than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’? Questions phrased with ‘how’ and ‘why’ will encourage detailed responses that will allow you to glean more about a candidate than just the response they give: such as their transparency, history, communication style and personality. It’s a good idea to leave a few moments of silence occasionally too – if you’ve made a candidate comfortable, they’ll probably offer more information about themselves to fill a gap in the conversation.

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More and more of us are deciding to take a digital detox, which means taking a step back from our mobile devices, our laptop and refraining from updating our social media profiles with mundane statuses about what we ate for breakfast. It’s beneficial to our minds, our social lives and surprisingly our posture, so well done for deciding to take this step.

However, without all this entertainment at hand you’re probably wondering what you should do in your down time – and crafting is the perfect answer. Not only does it give you a fun activity to do, but you might discover you have a particular talent for something you try. Here are five crafting ideas to keep you busy (and sane) during your detox; check these out and print them off before the big ‘switch off’ day:

  1. Candle making

Forget about buying that £15 Yankee candle jar ever again because you can create your own candles with fragrances you love for a much better price. Check out this tutorial, which details how to make candles completely from scratch, using essential oils as the fragrance, or you can pick up candle making kits from Homecrafts that feature all the tools and ‘ingredients’ you need, as well as detailed instructions to ensure nothing goes wrong. You can put your candles in tea cups, glass jars or bowls and give them as gifts or keep them for yourself.

  1. Resin jewellery

This is quite a tricky, time-consuming craft but one that if you get right could lead you down a whole new path. Resin jewellery allows you to cast objects in pendants to keep forever more – you will need to buy resin mixes and casts to get started but you will find lots of great tutorials and advice online before you switch off, on how to get started.

This guide on how to create jewellery which doubles up as a keepsake for a child’s artwork is a lovely idea and could give you lots of scope when it comes to handmade Christmas and birthday presents.

  1. Book folding

More of us are discovering the beauty and art of book folding, it’s a craft that takes time and patience to perfect but once you have a few patterns to follow you’ll be well away. Pick up some cheap, second hand hardback books and get practicing! Here’s a heart shaped pattern to get you started.

  1. Get crafty with chalkboard paint

Chalkboard paint is a great tool in any crafty person’s arsenal. Take some ornate frames and coat the glass with the paint to create pretty chalkboards you can use for shopping lists or to make notes on around the house. You could also paint wine bottles and use these as table decorations when people come over, writing their names on them to create place names or a special message for the occasion.

  1. Upcycle old clothes

If you are a dab hand with a sewing machine, you can take old clothes and revamp them into something completely new. Your partner’s old t-shirts could easily become superhero capes for the kids, while a t-shirt sleeve can be made into a cute hat for a small baby and socks can easily be transformed into a snuggly new friend for kids.

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PAISLEY PIRATES 3 EDINBURGH CAPITALS 1

Pirates kept their nerve to win an absolute thriller at Braehead against the Capitals and in doing so retained their 100% home record in the SNL this season, recording their seventh straight win, as hosts, since October.

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In a tight opening period, Pirates had the balance of play, but found Mallinson in good form between the sticks for the visitors, and while Meechan for Pirates was less busy, he was nevertheless called into action several times to keep the scoresheet blank during the session. After a clash of heads early on, Stuart Miller was unable to continue and his loss perhaps upset the balance of the lines as coach Ian Turley juggled his bench to cover for the injured player. The hosts did in fact have a glorious chance to break the deadlock as the period drew to a close, as with 90 seconds remaining the Capitals took two concurrent minor penalties, leaving the hosts with a sustained session of 5 on 3, but in spite of their numerical advantage they couldn’t open the scoring as both teams left the ice with the goaltenders unbeaten.

Edinburgh played off the remaining 30 seconds of the double penalty at the beginning to the second session and, indeed, looked to have scored within a minute, the “goal” being washed out for a player being in the crease. This close escape appeared to spur on the Pirates, who took the lead a minute later as Wilson skated clear to fire home a top shelf marker to put his side in front. The visitors came back strongly, however, and, with the aid of a powerplay they were level halfway through the session as Tait scored to tie the scores at 1-1, there being no more scoring for the remaining ten minutes.

The first goal in the final session was going to be crucial and, much to the delight of the home fans, it went to Pirates, as Hassan skated past several challenges from his own defensive zone to fire a low shot past Mallinson for the go ahead goal with under two minutes gone in the period. In a tense build up to the final frantic few minutes, Pirates had chances to clinch the points, while the visitors equally could have tied matters up on several occasions. In the final two minutes, Capitals predictably pulled their netminder in favour of the extra skater, and with the visitors coming close a number of times, and Pirates content to play out time, spectators were nervously looking at the clock, but with eight seconds remaining Wilson gathered the puck from Thorp, and coolly took aim before firing into the vacant net to clinch the match, and send the home crowd wild in the process.

Pirates will conceivably play better at some juncture and lose. In a match where they perhaps did not perform as well as they have done at other times, they could not be faulted for effort, as they worked their socks off for the entire 60 minutes, whereas in previous years they may well have lost a match such as this one, and the result may prove to be hugely significant in the race for playoff places.

Scorers: Wilson (2+0), Hassan (1+0), Campbell & Thorp (both (0+1)

Penalties: Orr 4, Turley 2

Man of the Match: CHRIS WILSON (2+0)

The Paisley Pattern will be the star of the show during a cross-cultural fashion extravaganza featuring students from India and their Scottish counterparts.

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The show in Paisley Abbey tonight (FRIDAY) will mark a spectacular finale to a knowledge and skills exchange scheme based around textiles and design.


A delegation from Glasgow Kelvin College travelled to Andhra Pradesh in India earlier this month and a group from the Government Polytechnic for Women in the city of Guntur jetted over this week for the return leg.

The fashion show was hosted by Renfrewshire Council as the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 gathers pace, and saw students from the college show off their talents in disciplines including music, production, dance, hair & beauty and fashion.

While in India, the Scottish group worked with their local counterparts to incorporate the globally-recognised Paisley Pattern into their designs, to be paraded on the catwalk in the Abbey.

The group – including Paisley Museum master weaver Dan Coughlan – was the subject of massive interest from the Indian media, with their arrival featuring in the English-language The Hindu, read by more than two million people each day.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board, said: “We are delighted to welcome our Indian guests and our colleagues from the college to Paisley for this spectacular show.

“The legacy of Paisley’s one-time place at the centre of the global textile industry includes a brand which carried the town’s name around the world.

“That unique history includes links to India in the form of the original Kashmiri shawls which the Paisley versions descended from, and this project allows us to continue those links into a new century.

“The town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 is all about the retelling Paisley’s unique story and events like this help us do that.”

The college’s trip to India came about via the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI).

Alan Sherry, Glasgow Kelvin College Principal, said: “This exciting event is the culmination of many hours of hard work for our students and Indian colleagues.

“The dynamic UKIERI-AICTE programme is providing excellent opportunities for skills and knowledge exchange between our Indian and Scottish partners.

“The visit has been a great chance for our students to experience, first hand, the creativity and talents of learners at the Government Polytechnic for Women, learning new techniques in textile design.

“They have been able to immerse themselves in India’s very diverse culture and bring back relevant skills and ideas to enhance their own learning.

“We are very grateful for the valued input of our partners and I would like to thank everyone involved in creating our Paisley Pattern themed fashion extravaganza.”

For more information of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021, visit www.paisley2021.com.

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Looking to add to your portfolio in 2016? When it comes to property, location matters.
A thriving city, town or resort will add great value to an investment so picking the right place at the right time is crucial if you are to get the most from your money.

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While the London market continues to perform strongly you only need to look over the pages of FT Property Listings to see that there are places across the globe that can match its quality and, on occasion, deliver even better potential.

Here are five of those worth looking at in 2016:

Berlin

The annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate Europe report for PWC and the Urban Land Institute pinpointed the German capital as its number one city for 2016, a position it also held in 2015. The city might not have the manufacturing might of Germany’s industrial powerhouses, but it has a burgeoning reputation for tech and innovation. Berlin is a hotbed for creativity and culture, attracting a young and trendy population and with a property market that shows good signs of growth. The Mitte central district continues to hold a strong attraction for overseas buyers.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Island is riddled with luxury properties and, with space at a premium, these continue to demonstrate sound investments, with Hong Kong continuing to thrive as a financial hotspot. Properties with a view – and a garden – are highly sought after. Outside of the traditional areas, New Territories in Sai Kung and Clearwater Bay offer an enticing lifestyle of beautiful beaches and sailing clubs.

Rio de Janeiro

Just two years after Brazil hosted the festival of football in the 2014 World Cup, the country again takes the world’s sporting spotlight this year when Rio hosts the Olympic Games. The Games run from August 5 to 21, followed soon after by the Paralympics from September 7 to 18. The Recreio area of the city offers the cleanest beaches and best quality of life in this booming city.

San Sebastián

The beautiful Basque city of San Sebastián shares European Capital of Culture duties in 2016 with Wroclaw in Poland – a badge of honour that will only serve to add to its attraction.
Its Bay of Biscay beaches are matched in sheer quality with the quality of its restaurants, making this an ideal place to invest for a food lover.
Paseo de Miraconcha – which overlooks the Playa de la Concha – is one of the most expensive addresses in the whole of Spain and is a must for the shortlist of any luxury buyer.

Mendoza

The cosmopolitan capital of Argentina’s Cuyo region, this city sits right at the heart of the South American country’s wine making territory. Its wide, leafy streets are lined with quality properties, making it the ideal place to soak up the best Argentina has to offer. Huffington Post predicts that conditions will be better for investors with the election of pragmatic new president Mauricio Macri and, with that in mind, Mendoza is the place to capitalise on this.

CALL TO YARNS!

It is time for The Renfrewshire Tapestry

Andrew Crummy, Scottish artist and designer – who drew the panels for the Battle of Prestonpans, the Great Tapestry of Scotland and the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry – will be working together with an eclectic group of people to create a tapestry for Renfrewshire. It will be a celebration of the amazing global importance of this part of Scotland, a tourism draw and have its part to play in the City of Culture bid 2021.

Want to know more? Want to take part?

Everyone is welcome to our Call to Yarns! – The Renfrewshire Tapestry project launch

On Saturday 20 February 2016

At Paisley Abbey

From 11am until 1pm

Andrew Crummy will be introducing the project, as well as leading a workshop.

You can also:

  • Take part in a textile walk
  • Chat to historians and meet up with a monk, walk with Wallace, greet a gallus Mill Girl…
  • Tell your stories and memories
  • Try your hand at a stitch or more
  • Please also – Donate your tapestry wool – authentic Anchor tapestry wool is needed to sew the tapestry. We are determined the tapestry will only be sewn with authentic Anchor yarn. Please look out any tapestry wool that you have in your households… and bring it with you.

The Renfrewshire Tapestry will reflect the wonderful history of Renfrewshire. Everyone who is involved will be acknowledged in this stepping stone in the continued celebration of the unique status of Renfrewshire.

WELCOME to Call to Yarns! – The Renfrewshire Tapestry Launch

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Images copyright of Andrew Crummy, Alex Hewitt and Weaving Musical Threads [WMT]

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The destination proposal is a popular trend for those who wish to get down on one knee and declare their love for their partner but when it comes to choosing the perfect destination to create that special moment in, where is best? There are plenty of (dare we say) cliché, yet romantic, destinations to consider around the world – i.e. the top of the Eiffel tower, on a gondola in Venice – but there are also plenty of other places to consider. Here are five great ones that don’t really fall into the usual tourist proposal traps:

  1. The Yorkshire Dales, in autumn

Nothing is more romantic than a walk in the crisp Autumn air, holding hands with your loved one and enjoying spectacular views of the open countryside with the trees just beginning their transition to their stunning Fall colours of red, orange and yellow. It’s the perfect place if you and your partner love to hike, and you can book a cosy cottage with an open fire to propose in front of in the evening when you return. Have a surprise bottle of champagne in the boot of the car ready to grab after they say yes!

  1. Winter Wonderland, London, in December

After a couple of hours getting out of breath ice skating on the rink and walking hand in hand looking at the stalls offering delicious treats and Baileys hot chocolate, when you reach the huge Christmas tree at the centre of the celebrations it’s the perfect time to pretend to tie your shoelace and then offer up a ring. The diamonds, nestled in that perfect engagement ring you created on the 77 Diamonds website, will glitter in the Christmas lights as they say yes, while forgetting about the cold and focusing only on you.

  1. Seychelles beach, Ikaria, Greece in summer

If you fancy a warmer location for your proposal then this is the place to go. Also known as the Jamaica of the Aegean Sea, this pebble rock beach in Ikaria is a stunning destination for couples to visit with stunning rock formations, crystal clear water and an intimate cove setting. Plan a trip in the early morning when there will be less people and take a water taxi to reach the beach – the hike down to the location can be a little hard to manage. Pack a champagne breakfast picnic to enjoy while listening to the waves lap on the shoreline. Once you’re finished eating go for a stroll and get down on knee in the entrance to one of the rock formations caves.

  1. The Goliath Rollercoaster, California in spring

If you’ve planned a trip to the US, and you and your partner are thrill seekers, this couldn’t be more perfect for popping the question. As the rollercoaster trundles up the tracks to reach the 255-foot-high drop you can tell them exactly what you love most about them and as you reach the peak, pop the question. Perhaps don’t get the ring out just yet, leave it until the restraints are off and you’ve recovered from the exhilarating 85 miles per hour plunge you both just enjoyed – the thrill of the proposal and the ride itself will give your partner something to remember forever.

  1. The Orange Garden, Rome in summer

Offering stunning views of the city itself, the Orange Garden is the perfect romantic destination for a proposal after you’ve spent the day trawling the streets of Rome and are ready to watch the sunset from a good vantage point. You will have to make your way up Aventine hill to reach the top but it’s worth it. Be sure to head down the street from the garden to look through the famous keyhole in the permanently locked green door as it offers a unique view into the grove of trees with the dome of St Peter’s Basilica nestled behind. It’s a peaceful location, away from the hustle of the city where you and your partner can enjoy your special proposal moment.