10 Books to Get You Out of a Reading Slump

Photo credit: donatas1205 / Shutterstock

Is one of your new year’s resolutions to start reading more? Or you may have previously been an avid reader who recently hasn’t been able to find any books gripping enough to carry on reading. Luckily, we have a few book recommendations that will get you out of this reading slump and kick start your new year. 

When it comes to getting back into reading, you want books that are fast-paced, exciting and easy to read. Novels that consist of rambling plot points, characters whose names you constantly forget and a lack of action scenes will lose your attention and may further put you off reading. 

Our Reading Slump-Busting Book Recommendations 

1. There’s Someone Inside Your House – Stephanie Perkins 

With a plot of a young girl moving in with her grandmother before a series of gruesome murders take place throughout the town. The questions of who’s next, who the murderer is and whether we can really trust the narrator will bounce around your mind. 

The suspense and mystery will keep you turning page-by-page as you find you’re flying through this book. Your reading slump will be long-forgotten as you stay firmly on the edge of your seat. 

There’s betrayal, hidden secrets and twists all through this novel – the title alone is enough to give you goosebumps. 

2. One of Us Is Lying – Karen M. McManus

5 students walked into detention but after an hour, only 4 of them were left. Was it the brain, the criminal, the beauty or the athlete who committed the murder? – or is it not that simple? 

From the title of this book, you’d expect it to be full of twists and turns, skeletons in the closet and people who aren’t who they say they are…and you’d be right. From multiple points of view, the novel tells the story of a detention where one person loses their life. 

One of your typical “whodunit” cases that gets you thinking and eager to solve the case yourself. 

3. This Is Where It Ends – Marieke Nijkamp

When a young boy brings a gun to school, 4 of his fellow students must confront their greatest fears, their strengths and their hopes. 

Set in just a 54-minute time-frame, this novel takes on the very sensitive subject matter of a school shooting but handles it with empathy and grace. You get to explore the minds of the students and witness great acts of humanity that will leave tears in your eyes. 

A great book to read alongside your friends as it opens up lines of conversation and discussion you may not have thought about before. 

Woman reading a book holding a cup of coffeePhoto credit: Ko Backpacko / Shutterstock

4. Since You’ve Been Gone – Morgan Matson

Sloane is adventurous, happy-go-lucky and brings her friend, Emily, out of her shell. But when she disappears, all Emily is left with is a list of tasks. Soon she’s doing things she would have never considered in an effort to bring her best friend back. 

This is an easy-to-read book that isn’t too taxing but still leaves you with a warm feeling inside. If you’re a romantic at heart then you’ll be pleased to know an unlikely relationship blooms amidst the adventure. 

5. Daughter of the Pirate King – Tricia Levenseller

For lovers of fantasy, Daughter of the Pirate King is a dive into the workings of crews, ships and the search for an ancient map. Alosa is a captain who allows herself to get caught by her enemies in order to locate a piece of treasure. But, as you may have guessed, it doesn’t go smoothly. 

This book is a lot of fun and doesn’t require a lot of deep thinking. That being said, the plot is fully fleshed-out and the world Levenseller has created is mystical and ruthless in equal parts. 

If you find yourself with a little extra time, why not start this book? The captivating main character will leave you longing for a pirate adventure of your own. 

6. A Study in Charlotte – Brittany Cavallaro

Jamie moves to a new school where he meets Charlotte Holmes – the famous detective’s distant relative. At first, he is wary of her volatile nature and explosive temper. However, when a murder occurs that seems snatched straight from a Sherlock Holmes mystery, Charlotte and Jamie are the number 1 suspects. Soon, they need to team up to clear their names. 

An unexpected hit, this novel is fantastic for those who like slightly dark and twisted books which are simultaneously light enough to read in one sitting. 

Bookcase with many colourful booksPhoto credit: Magic Bones / Shutterstock

7. Warcross – Marie Lu

This novel tells of the insanely popular game, Warcross, and the upcoming championship competition. Emika was a bounty hunter who looks for individuals placing illegal bets within the game before she was enlisted by the elusive game creator to spy on his own game. 

There are elements of fame, luxury and fortune mixed with secrets that may have been best staying in the shadows. 

For all you gamers out there, Warcross packs in a virtual reality, sinister plots and science-fiction possibility. You’ll find yourself immersed in a new world and itching to stay within it. 

8. Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewell 

It’s been 10 years since her daughter disappeared but Laurel still sees parts of Ellie everywhere. It’s when she enters a new relationship that the questions of what happened to her little girl, heightened even more when she meets his daughter who is the spitting image of Ellie. 

Doubt and investigation ensues but is it all in vain? The addictive nature of this book will grip you to the pages as you uncover more and more ominous plot points. The shocking revelations seem to keep on coming and you can never be sure of the answers until the final page. 

9. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern 

The circus turns up without any announcement, only opens at night and is home to numerous amazements that will take your breath away. Behind the curtains of illusion though is a dangerous duel between two magicians that promises to end in tragedy. 

The world this book creates is beautiful with tangible smells, feelings and colours. The bright lights of the circus and mystical elements will fully draw you in. If you haven’t been able to get into any books recently, the grandeur of this novel is guaranteed to end the slump. 

10. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid 

Evelyn Hugo chooses an unknown journalist, Monique, to document her life and write her biography. She tells of her career, her life in show business and the 7 husbands she found along the way. But her choice in journalist may not be as random as it seems, as her story continues, Monique finds more similarities between her and the Hollywood star.  

The telling of the life of a Hollywood actress is always going to be interesting. The secrets of fame and fortune are laid bare in this novel with some unexpected turns along the way. Intrigue mixed with ruthless ambition is what makes this book a page-turner and will be what makes you emerge from a reading slump.


How to Celebrate Christmas in 2020

Christmas celebrations will definitely be different this year, but many aspects of the holidays can still happen as they usually do. Although you might not be able to see family and friends in person and celebrate Christmas the traditional way, the power of the internet means you can meet virtually and compare Christmas jumpers instead!

How to celebrate Christmas – 2020 style:

– Decorations

Deck the halls (and everywhere else) with festive decorations and lights making your home into a real life winter wonderland. 2020 is the year to go all out – who says you can’t have a tree in every room! For those that are not superstitious, putting up the decs early might be just the thing you need for some much-needed Christmas cheer.

– Food

For bakers, Christmas is the perfect excuse to make lots of sweet treats like mince pies, yule logs, and Christmas cake. If you’ve always wanted to make a gingerbread house but never had time, this could be your year. But if you’re finding it hard to channel your inner Mary Berry, there’s always Tesco… 

Christmas light displays.

You may also like: Christmas traditions you’ve probably never heard of

– Lights

Light displays make a December night feel magical and festive. So what better way to get in the Christmas spirit than to go for a drive in your local area and admire the light shows from the neighbours’ annual illuminations. In 2020, it's the perfect way to celebrate the arrival of Christmas seeing as we can't see our friends and family, or visit other people's houses!

However, if you would like to go to a more organised light display, there are many Christmas Light Trails open around the country. And if you’re near Maidstone in Kent, there’s even a Winter Wonderland Drive-Thru which also includes a firework display. 

– Movies

Drive-in cinemas have popped up all around the country this year and have become a really popular way to enjoy a night out while socially distancing. Many are showing Christmas classics this December so you have the choice to go out to watch Elf, or stay Home Alone. Find out your nearest drive-in cinema on List.co.uk.

– Santa

Children don’t have to miss out on visiting Santa’s Grotto this Christmas, it can still happen virtually or you can book a doorstep visit from an elf or Santa himself. Portable North Pole is also a fantastic way to create a personalised video from Santa.  

Christmas table decoration inspiration.

– The Big Day

Once the presents have been opened, the main event is dinner. Your table might not have the usual guests around it but you can set up a Zoom call and feel like you’re all dining around one table to celebrate Christmas together. There’s even an advantage to a virtual dinner – less washing up to do! 


However you choose to celebrate Christmas this year, we hope you have a fantastic time! Have fun and stay safe, from the Journalistic team.


CBD Gum Review: Which Brand is Best?

Over the years, CBD has grown in popularity and become increasingly easier to get hold of due to the various health benefits of medical marijuana. The most popular way of ingesting CBD is through dropping CBD oil into the mouth orally, however now there are a range of different methods available that have taken the CBD world by storm, including CBD chewing gum which offers a convenient and discreet way of taking a dose of CBD – whether it be whilst shopping or in the office.

As a result, we have tested a range of CBD gum to explore which is the best CBD gum brand in terms of:

How much they cost per pack/gum

The ingredients used

How environmentally-friendly the brand is 

Read on to read our full CBD gum review of six of the main CBD gum brands available in the UK.

A comparison of 6 CBD chewing gums:​

Canabiotics CBD gum review  

CBD Gum Review - CanabioticsCanabiotics CBD gum contains 10 pieces of chewing gum, which have all been carefully infused with full-spectrum CBD oil and Spearmint/Peppermint flavouring, to offer a simple and discreet way of taking CBD whilst on the go. It is worth noting that Canabiotics are the only brand to have different flavour choices. 

This brand of CBD chewing gum is not only sugar, plastic and aspartame-free, it is also made from 100% natural ingredients – this means that the gum is suitable for vegans. The gum also contains 100% xylitol, which is a sweetener, to add a sweet taste to the chewing gum without damaging your teeth like other sweeteners and sugar would do.

Canabiotics have not only ensured their CBD gum is good for the body, they have also considered the environment too. Each piece of CBD gum is created using a plant-base gum which is biodegradable – not plastic like other gum types – and is packaged in materials that are 100% recyclable.


                                                       5mg       7.5mg     10mg      15mg

Price per pack:                          £5.99      £9.99      £12.99    £18.99

Price per gum (Approx.):        £0.60      £0.99       £1.29      £1.89


Endoca CBD gum review  

CBD Gum Review - EndocaEach pack of Endoca CBD chewing gum contains 10 gums and is made using 15mg of CBD. It is flavoured with peppermint, mimicking a classic chewing gum and offering a discreet way of taking CBD.

Endoca’s flavouring is made from wild plant essential oils, which is good for cannabinoids because CBD has similarities to essential oils – for instance, essential oils are often used for aromatherapy, which offers calming benefits.

As well as using essential oils that will boost benefits of CBD, Endoca also uses all-natural ingredients from the rainforest, which help to give the CBD gum a gum-like texture. Furthermore, just like Canabiotics, Endoca is plastic, aspartame and sugar free, and contains 100% xylitol, which ensures they are much more environmentally friendly and better for your teeth and body too.


Price per pack: £12

Price per gum: £1.20

Wellness Gum CBD review

CBD Gum Review - Wellness Gum ExtraWellness Gum (formerly CanChew+) offers a mint CBD gum made from 10mg of phytocannabinoids and 50mg of CBD, which ensures you are going to reap the benefits. They recommend having 2 gums a day to experience the best results, which requires a new pack every 15 days. This may be costly when each pack of 30 costs almost $70, making it one of the most expensive on the market.

Wellness Gum is branded as a “healthy” gum option, as they claim to be non-GMO and vegan, with no artificial sweeteners. However, it doesn’t contain 100% xylitol which is major turn-off for many CBD gum users. It also has a plastic gum base, which means it is hard to dispose of and decompose. Despite this, the ingredients allow for quick absorption and maintained bioavailability to deliver the best results.


Price per pack: $69.99 / £54.37

Price per gum: $2.33 / £1.81

Bhang Gum CBD gum review  

CBD Gum Review - Bhang GumBhang Gum is a zero-calorie, sugar-free, mint-flavoured CBD gum which has been sweetened using stevia and xylitol. The gum is blended with mango and lemongrass extract, to allow each user to reap the benefits of CBD in a small, discreet treat.

However, unlike other brands, Bhang Gum is not plastic-free, biodegradable, natural or vegan, which makes it problematic for the environment.

This CBD gum brand is priced higher than most, setting you back $10 per 4-pack, equating to $2.50 per gum. This simply due to the CBD content being much higher than other CBD gum brands, at an impressive 25mg – the higher the CBD content, the higher the percentage of CBD will be absorbed by the body.


Price per pack: $10 / £7.76

Price per gum: $2.50 / £1.94

Kingdom of Green CBD gum review  

CBD Gum Review - Kingdom of GreenMeet Kingdom of Green, the most affordable brand of all. Their 12-pack of CBD-infused gum costs just $4.99, which means that each piece of gum is approximately priced at around 41 cents. Despite this, their CBD gum is made from 1.5mg of CBD per gum (18mg per packet).

Due to its budget price, the CBD gum is fairly basic and doesn’t have any typical mint flavourings. It is not natural, plastic-free, aspartame free, vegan or biodegradable like other brands; the only thing is that it is sugar free – great for your teeth and body.


Price per pack: $4.99 / £3.87

Price per gum: Approximately $0.41 / £0.32

Blockhead CBD gum review  

CBD Gum Review - BlockheadBlockhead isn’t new to the world of gum – they have previously produced other popular gums such as vitamin gum and energy gum. Their brand-new peppermint flavoured CBD gum ensures their gum is chewed discreetly, despite featuring 3mg of CBD per gum. Not to mention it is reasonably priced too, as a standard pack of 7 is priced at £4.99 – equating to approximately 71p per gum – making them highly affordable for any CBD lover. 

Their CBD gum is sugar-free, aspartame free and contains zero calories, which is highly appealing. The gum is made under the premise of being non-GMO and vegan, however the gum is created using many chemical ingredients, which could be a turn-off to many health-conscious users.

It’s also not very eco-friendly in comparison to other CBD gum brands, such as Canabiotics who offer biodegradable gum, and Canabiotics and Endoca who have plastic-free gum bases.


Price per pack: £4.99

Price per gum: Approximately £0.71


Which CBD gum is best? 

CBD Gum Review Overview

Of all CBD gum brands, we believe that Canabiotics is the best CBD gum on the market as it contains full spectrum CBD, uses natural ingredients and is great value for money. Following closely behind is Endoca CBD gum, which also uses natural ingredients and is highly affordable for those wishing to try this new method of taking CBD.



Ecotourism in the United Kingdom

Ecotourism can help in the complex process of repairing the ‘lungs’ of the earth. Image courtesy of Mynatour


The term ecotourism, coined in 1962 by Canadian environmentalist Robert Hunter (1941-2005), refers to a tourism model that is sustainable on nature. As the world grappled with the threat of climate change over the past couple of decades, the ethical concept of ecotourism has caught fire and emerged as one of the fastest growing sectors of the travel industry.

According to estimates, global ecotourism generated approximately $800 million and $1 billion annually. Cognizant of this fact, the United Kingdom has long been developing ecotourism as part of its broader tourism strategy. If you’re looking at some green vacation ideas for your next domestic holiday, here are a few ecotourism ideas to get you started.  

♦ Scottish Beaver Trial, Knapdale, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

The almost 500 years’ absence of wild beaver population in Scotland is expected to end with the Scottish Beaver Trial in Knapdale Forest. Tourists will be able to view efforts at reintroducing beavers into the local ecosystem. The project, headed by non-profit Tree For Life, is a crucial one – and not only from an ecotourism perspective. Beavers are considered a ‘keystone species’, which means they play a critical role in a healthy forest ecosystem. The simple act of felling trees actually allows sunlight to reach other plants on the forest floor; it would also improve the area’s natural irrigation and enhance the quality of water in natural catchment areas.

A similar plan to reintroduce the extinct lynx population in North Devon’s woodland areas is also being pursued by Lynx UK Trust and several other advocacy groups.

The Knapdale Forest is the site of the Scottish Beaver Trial. Image courtesy of Caol Scotnish

♦ The Old Rectory, Boscastle, Cornwall, England

For an authentic countryside bed and breakfast experience, look no further than The Old Rectory. A Goldstar recipient of the Green Tourism Business Scheme Awards, The Old Rectory offers luxurious accommodations and amenities, as well as coastal walks and countryside sceneries while maintaining an environmentally-sustainable management practice.

♦ The Burren, County Clare, Northern Ireland

The tireless work of BurrenBeo Trust and BurrenLife Farming for Conservation Group over the years has resulted in a community that goes out of its way to create more sustainable farming practices in this generational farming county.  Even HRH Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, took the time to visit Burren in 2014.

There are numerous other attractive ecotourism locations around the country, so be sure to check with relevant advocacy groups such as Green Dragon, Green Tourism Business Scheme, GreenTraveller and The New Forest to obtain up-to-date suggestions and recommendations.


Five Must-See Major Sporting Events in the World

The closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Maracana. Image courtesy of Fernando Frazao/Agência Brasil


Traveling to a major sporting event is more than just a show of support to your country or favourite athlete. It is an acquiescence to our deep-seated tribalistic urges; it is our way of honouring the supreme feats of athleticism of our fellow humans; it is a chance to become part of history. The passionate crowd, beautiful locales (most of the time, anyway) and magical atmosphere will all come together to create an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

So what are the five must-see major sporting events on the planet that you simply cannot afford to miss?

5. Tour de France

Without doubt, Tour de France is the single most gruelling sporting event in the world. Cyclists travel over two thousand miles across France (as well as the Netherlands, Belgium and occasionally, other neighbouring countries) through the countryside, city streets and even suffocating ranges of the Pyrenees in barely three weeks. The stamina, endurance and mental power required to complete the race – never mind win it – is astonishing; cyclists regularly collapse at the end of every stage. Attempts at cheating go beyond simple drugs – cheaters literally get oxygen-rich blood transfusions between stages!

Established in 1903, the race draws over 12 million spectators along its circuitous route. Each spectator is estimated to travel an average of 130km over six hours to watch the pelotons of superhuman riders. In 2014, the race drew a worldwide television audience of 3.5 billion viewers from 188 nations over 22 days. It has to be said though – the decade-long blood doping scandal has greatly tarnished the reputation of the race and the sport.

Bradley Wiggins (in yellow) leading the 98.5-mile 15th stage (Samatan to Pau) of the 2012 Tour de France. Image courtesy of Robert King
Robert King

4. Wimbledon

Wimbledon is steeped in rich tradition and history. It is the oldest, greatest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. The tournament has been held continuously at the iconic All England Club in the Wimbledon district in southwest London since its inception in 1877 – with the exception of two interruptions during WW1 and WW2.

The club actually has a variety of court types. However, the tournament only uses its grass courts – making it the only Grand Slam out of the four to do so. The club, which counts HRH Queen Elizabeth II as its patron, is also the originator of the modern game of lawn tennis, courtesy of its creator, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield.

For two weeks every summer, the entire district is invaded by an army of fashionable tourists, old-money and aristocratic families, the press corps, and hundreds of players seeking a shot at immortality – people travel from all over the world to witness that moment of immortality.

Serbian Novak Djokovic is in ecstasy after winning the semi-final of the 2011 Wimbledon. He would go on to lift the trophy after defeating Spaniard Rafael Nadal in the final. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Foundation
Wikipedia Foundation

3. Super Bowl

In terms of off-game and pre-match spectacle, nothing can top the Super Bowl. Now entering its 53rd edition (scheduled for 2 February, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida), Super Bowl has transcended the sport and grown to become an intrinsic part of American culture. While the raw strength and tactics of the game itself is a sight to behold – the glitz, pageantry and music surrounding the event elevates it into another level completely.

The Super Bowl even creates a micro-economy of its own, from sponsorships to ad buys and merchandise sales. It draws an insanely high a hundred plus million TV viewership, almost three times more than anything else ever shown on TV.

2. The Olympic Games

The Olympic Games is the foremost athletic competition in the world. The event draws the participation of thousands of athletes from every country, autonomous regions and territories. To many athletes, it is the focal point of their entire lives – the culmination of the training and sacrifices they’ve had to make in pursuit of the Olympic gold.

The concept of the Olympics actually originated from ancient Greece, where athletes from city-states compete with one another to gain bragging rights and favour of the almighty Zeus.

The quadrennial event was last held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016, and the next edition will be in Tokyo, Japan in 2020. To get an idea of the sheer size of the event, the Rio Olympics welcomed more than 11,000 athletes from 205 countries into the Olympic Village; 125,000 hours’ worth of footage, over 14 years’ worth, was broadcasted in 220 countries to a combined audience of 3.6 billion; $6.2 billion was injected into the Brazilian’s economy. No other sporting event comes even remotely close to these staggering numbers.

1. FIFA World Cup

Every four years, 32 countries compete to be crowned as the champion of the planet’s most popular sport – football. An explosion of flags, painted faces and singing will envelop the landscape of the host cities during the month-long competition. Rivalries are forgotten (largely), friendships are made, tears are shed – such is the power of the World Cup.

Emotionally, the World Cup has no peers in the sporting world – the joy, exultation, sobbing, anger and a myriad of other emotions are par for the course. The sight of grown men sobbing uncontrollably in the streets following host Brazil’s 1-7 semi-final defeat to Germany in 2014 will remain as one of the most enduring memories of the year. The 1.12 billion-plus worldwide audience for the final between champions France and Croatia is the biggest in history for a one-off match.

If you had to choose only one major sporting event to go to in your life, it really has to be the World Cup – the experience will blow you away.


The 10 Most Haunted Places in Britain

Fancy meeeting a headless horseman on the next All Hallows Eve? Then head on over to Minsden Chapel in Hertfordshire


Why do some of us enjoy ghost stories, horror movies and haunted houses? It’s a simple matter of chemistry. Fear is a biological survival mechanism. When we overcome fear, the brain releases several chemicals, such as dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, to ‘celebrate’ the achievement, which gives us a happy, and at times, euphoric feeling. Seeing as we’re all about pleasing our readers, check out our list of the ten most haunted locations in Britain that will absolutely kick your dopamine levels into overdrive!

1. Minsden Chapel, Hitchin, England

Visitors to Minsden Chapel, a desolate-looking ruins on the hills of south Chapelfoot, has reported sightings of disembodied riders, ghostly apparitions, a nun and giggling bunch of small children – all staple themes of modern horror movies. Little is known of the early history of the chapel, but it was mentioned in William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book of 1806. According to the book, the chapel housed a priest, eight villagers, six slaves and two cottagers. There were several other records of Minsden between the 14th and 17th centuries, mostly concerning religious service held there.

Local legends claim that supernatural sightings tend to occur during the night of All Hallows Eve, so the chapel, which is only accessible by foot, tends to attract quite a few paranormal investigators and the curious sort on the day.

2. Hellfire Caves, Buckinghamshire, England

The tale began in 1748 when Sir Francis Dashwood, the 11th Baron le Despencer and former Chancellor of the Exchequer, hired labourers to carve through the soft chalk stones on a cliff face near West Wycombe village. The quarter-mile deep cavern was meant to serve as the headquarters of a gentlemen’s guild called Hellfire Club, which would go on to earn a notorious reputation. The men’s only club was abandoned a few decades later – but apparently, something else moved in – something that can cause temperatures to drop, growl menacingly and even throw pebbles at explorers. One legend has it that Hellfire Caves is haunted by the ghost of a young barmaid named Sukie who was the victim of a wedding prank gone wrong.

3. Samlesbury Hall, Lancashire, England

If you fancy getting a slap on the head, seeing unexplainable shadows and experiencing a general sense of discomfort, Samlesbury Hall might just be worth a visit. Built in 1325 by a member of the local gentry, the manor has proved to be a magnet for professional ghost hunters, including ghost-hunter Richard Felix and Most Haunted, the TV series shown on Sky Living in the early noughties. The spirits and apparitions though appear to be rather camera-shy!

4. Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames, England

The former royal palace, which was gifted by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey to King Henry VIII, has a crowded cast of phantoms, including the Grey Lady, the Screaming Queen and a few skeletal apparitions. The Tudor palace attracted fresh controversy in 2015 when a tour guide claimed to have captured images of the Screaming Queen, who is reputed to be Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife. She was sentenced to death in 1541 for adultery and treason.

5. Glasgow Necropolis, Glasgow, Scotland

Originally built to serve as a conventional Victorian cemetery, the Glasgow Necropolis is increasingly seen as a Gaelic version of the Egyptian City of the Dead – only significantly smaller, with less dead people and no mummies. However, the phantoms here have been accused of creating instantaneous mists and whispering in darkened corners. It doesn’t sound terribly frightening from the comfort of your home, but mists and disembodied voices tend to be more effective when you’re stuck in the company of hundreds of cemeteries and tombs.

It takes a brave soul to wander around the Victorian gothic garden of Glasgow Necropolis at night
It takes a brave soul to wander around the Victorian gothic garden of Glasgow Necropolis at night

6. Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon, England

Berry Pomeroy Castle holds the honour of being the most haunted castle in the United Kingdom. Among the many phantoms one can expect to stumble across here, two, in particular, stand out – the White Lady, said to be the ghost of Margaret Pomeroy, the Blue Lady, reputedly an incestuous rape victim, and the bastard child Isabella, who sometimes follows visitors home. That hasn’t stopped thousands from visiting the Grade 1 listed castle every year though.

7. Woodchester Mansion, Gloucestershire, England

The crumbling, Gothic-inspired castle has it all – a headless horseman, a mysterious Tall Man at the Chapel and a poltergeist dwelling in the cellar – truly chilling. Not for the faint of heart. In October 2005, a team of paranormal investigators from the Severnside Centre for Fortean Research allegedly managed to record a hooded apparition on video. In case you’re itching for a taste of the supernatural, there are overnight ghost tours to the castle which you can book.

8. Ancient Ram Inn, Gloucestershire

The most haunted house in the United Kingdom used to be the site of numerous despicable acts, including child sacrifice, black magic rituals and witchcraft. It’s unsurprising then that the Ancient Ram Inn has allegedly a large cast of noisy and mischievous phantoms and apparitions. Be warned though – a previous owner of the Grade II listed pub claimed that he was once dragged across a room there by evil spirits.

9. Skirrid Mountain Inn, Abergavenny, Wales

The ominous-looking Skirrid Mountain Inn has a rather contentious relationship with historians. Many have dismissed claims that the inn once served as a Court of Law during the Norman Conquest. Claims that it was used as a staging point for Owain Glyndŵr’s rebel army in the 15th century have also been challenged. Let’s not even mention the local legend of Skirrid Mountain, which overlooks the inn, being crushed by either God or the devil following the crucifixion of Christ. What we can tell you is, if you pass by the place at night, you might hear footsteps, whispered voices and even spine-tingling laughter!

10. Tower of London, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, England

This is arguably the most popular paranormal site in all of Britain. From the ghost of Henry VI to dark hounds and floating apparitions, the Tower of London will make even the bravest souls falter in the darkness of the night. Keep an eye out for the ghost of the Countess of Salisbury and the headless apparition of Anne Boleyn – they apparently like to re-enact their gruesome deaths


World’s Top Tourist Attractions

The Musee Du Louvre in Paris, France, is the most popular museum in the world.


In 2018, the global tourism industry recorded over 1.4 billion people gallivanting across the four corners of the globe. Where do they go? Which attractions hold the greatest appeal for tourists? While we know that France, Spain, China, and Italy are four of the five top international tourist destination countries, we are also aware that domestic tourism accounts for a significant portion of the $8.8 trillion generated by the industry as a whole. In fact, in the United States, its well-developed domestic tourism sector is actually three times larger than inbound international tourism, which explains why American attractions dominate our list below –even if the country is ranked third behind France and Spain in inbound traffic.

One thing is clear though – there is no common denominator behind the world’s top ten tourist attractions – every one of them has their own unique appeal.

Note: Our list is limited to specific attractions, instead of boroughs, areas, cities or transport hubs. For instance, our list excludes Times Square in New York and Union Station in D.C. despite the combined 80-million plus visitors there annually. In addition, we have excluded several destinations that are frequently cited elsewhere on the web due to a lack of credible sources. We have also excluded Niagara Falls from our list as cited visitation figure fluctuates wildly, and the park has no existing traffic analysis system.

10. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France | Annual Visitors: 7 million

Built in 1889, the Eiffel Tower is arguably the most recognized landmark in the world, but it just barely squeaks into the list ahead of the British Museum, which attracts approximately 6.9 million visitors annually. The 1,063 feet wrought-iron structure has an official job as a radio tower. In its spare time, it serves as an observation tower that offers a breath taking, panoramic view of Paris. It also moonlights as a proposal site for couples – so please don’t be alarmed if you see men suddenly dropping down on their knees – sometimes in front of other men – everywhere you turn.

9. Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, | Annual Visitors: 7.3 million

Home to a massive collection of over 130 million specimens of man-made artefacts, flora, fauna, the natural world, and extra-terrestrial debris, the National Museum of Natural History is arguably our greatest treasure trove for future generations. Managed by the Smithsonian Institution and its army of scientists, it is the third most visited museum in the world.

8. Taj Mahal, Agra, India | Annual Visitors: 8 million

The architectural beauty of the Taj Mahal mausoleum can only be overshadowed by the love story behind it. The death of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, sent the latter into a spiral of depression culminating in the building of this wondrous marble structure of minarets and domes with precise geometric patterns which nearly bankrupted the nation.

 Constructed using ivory-white marble, the Taj Mahal is a crash course in Mughal architecture. The maosoleum is   also the eighth most popular tourist destination in the world.
Constructed using ivory-white marble, the Taj Mahal is a crash course in Mughal architecture. The maosoleum is also the eighth most popular tourist destination in the world.

7. Musee Du Louvre, Paris, France | Annual Visitors: 9.7 million

The Louvre, the most visited museum in the world, offers an intimate glimpse of the collective soul of humanity. It houses some of the greatest works of art in history under its roof. Spread across its eight departments are 35,000 pieces of art and 380,000 artefacts, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo statue and Caravaggio’s Death of the Virgin.

6. Great Wall of China, Huairou, China | Annual Visitors: 10 million

The only man-made structure visible from space, the 5,500-mile-long Great Wall of China is one of mankind’s greatest achievements. Construction for the wall, which stretches across 11 provinces, began in 771BC under the command of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor. It was meant to protect frontier population centres from incursions by rampaging nomads from the Eurasian Steppe.

5. Sacre-Coeur Basilica, Paris, France | Annual Visitors: 11 million

Sacre Coeur Basilica (Basilica of the Sacred Heart) is a Catholic church that is viewed by some as a physical manifestation of France’s conscience. Its history is intertwined with the country’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, the French Revolution and the perceived moral decay of the late 19th century France. The Romanesque and Byzantine-inspired basilica’s two most prominent features are the bronze equestrian statues of France’s two most popular saints, Joan of Arc and King Saint Louis IX.

Sacré-Cœur Basilica, or Basilica of the Sacred Heart, is the second most popular tourist attraction in France. Sacré-Cœur Basilica, or Basilica of the Sacred Heart, is the second most popular tourist attraction in France.


4. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France | Annual Visitors: 13 million

Notre Dame was quite possibly the most famous and beautiful cathedral in the world, until the recent devastating fire which primarily destroyed its lead roof and oak frame. The Gothic-inspired Catholic cathedral is built on the islet of Île de la Cite, the same site of long-forgotten ancient Celtic and Roman temples. The beautiful gargoyles, flying buttresses and wall sculptures (do not miss the gallery of 28 Judean Kings) of Notre Dame give it an imposing, fortress-like look that will stay in the minds of visitors long after they are gone. Tourist numbers will likely temporarily fall while repairs are being made.

3. Forbidden City, Beijing, China | Annual Visitors: 14 million

The 7.5 million square feet former imperial palace is made up of 980 buildings inside its 26-foot tall city walls. Its halls are steeped in Chinese lore, its writings and artefacts a trove of historical information, and its beauty still dazzles after all these centuries.

2. Disneyworld’s Magic Kingdom Park, Florida, U.S.  | Annual Visitors: 19.3 million

Disney’s collection of parks* around the world would have completely dominated our list, so we had to limit their inclusion to only one – the Magic Kingdom Park in Orland, the most visited among its parks. However, for the record, Disney’s parks in North America, Europe and Asia collectively drew in a staggering total of 137 million visitors in 2014!

* Epcot (11.45m), Disneyland Hong Kong (7.5m), Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Florida (10.42m), Disney Hollywood Studios, Florida (10.3m), Disneyland California Adventure Park (8.77m), Disneyland Park, France (11.2m), Disneyland Paris (9.9m), Tokyo Disney Sea (14.1m), Tokyo Disneyland (17.3m) and Disneyland Park, Anaheim (16.77m).

1. Central Park, New York, United States | Annual Visitors: 40 million

This giant green enclave inside Manhattan offers a dazzling array of natural and man-made attractions that will take days to experience properly. From beautiful forests and pastoral landscapes to gorgeous lakes and ancient bedrocks, Central Park is more than just a hiking or cycling trail.


The new age of astrology

Astrology has become a buzzword, one that seems to be applied to every situation as of late. Trouble at work? Mercury is in retrograde. Love life in tatters? That’s so very Scorpio of you. But what does it all mean? Astrology seems to have suddenly become trendy, with the word constantly trending on Twitter, due to the rise of meme culture and the idea of ‘Astrology is fake but…’ poking fun at people’s personality traits. Astrology has always been a way of understanding the confusing thing we call life, but what exactly is astrology?

Image Credit: Romolo Tavani/Shutterstock

The basics:
Essentially, astrology is the study of the stars and planets, analyzing their relationship and the ways in which their placement impacts what happens on earth in the future. Sounds confusing right? The easiest way to think about astrology is that it is less about telling the future and more about offering a way in which people can understand themselves. It does not claim to be a science, it just gives meaning to the placement of the sun, moon and surrounding planets.


The sky is spilt into 12 sections which all represent the 12 archetypes of the zodiac. Your zodiac sign is determined by which section of the sky the sun was the moment you were born, although it may characterise your personality to a certain degree, we all embody aspects of the other signs – and this is dependent on where the other planets were when you were born. But how did the art of astrology come about? 


A brief history of astrology:
Astrology was first traced back to 3rd millennium BC as an ancient way of knowledge. For centuries people have looked at the sky for guidance, with the maxim “As above, so below” supporting the central idea of astrology – that there is a connection between people and the universe. Before the rise of Christianity, it was used to understand life and its many mysteries, with Egyptians particularly making it their niche. Between the 3rd and 2nd century BC, Egyptian philosophy with merged with Babylonian to produce the horoscopic astrology we know today. The concept was considered a scholarly tradition up until the 17th century when the scientific world view was first introduced, which disputed the core of astrology. However, it remained a fairly popular concept due to its use in newspaper columns, offering people hope after despair, destruction and war.


Image Credit: Bibadash/Shutterstock
Is it nonsense?
Until very recently astrology was just a monthly column used to fill the backs of magazines, until the Millennial takeover, which seems to have given astrology relevance for now. Horoscopes have always been tailor made to their audiences, with the publication knowing who their reader is and molding the description accordingly. So why do we still seem to find horoscopes relevant to our own experiences? The Daily Hunch – a personalized horoscope service – suggests that “[While] physics isn’t happy with the idea that planets are meddling in our love affairs and confirmation bias keeps us from being dissuaded when horoscopes miss the mark”.



However, studies have shown that if you write a generic personality description and tell someone that it applies to them – they are more likely to perceive it as accurate. The term the “Barnum Effect” explains that people are more likely to believe a personality description if they are told it has been personally tailored to them, even if it is brief, generic and could apply to anyone reading it. With personalisation becoming an increasing consumer trend, astrology appears to be even more relevant. The concept of personalisation of astrology can be applied to anything, such as the perfect gift for your zodiac sign, or perfumes you should be wearing according to your personality.


The Millennial effect:
With reports of astrological acceptance rising among millennials, why is this generation the ones driving this sudden rise of interest?  Well firstly you don’t have to believe in astrology to be interested. Horoscopes feed our desire for answers and curiosity about ourselves and how we fit into this world. The astrology of today is as fast-paced as the internet, you can now access daily horoscopes as opposed to the monthly predictions of the past.
As human beings we seek comfort in times of stress and answers for things we do not understand. Therefore, it is no surprise that Millennials seem to behind the astrological boom, seeing as they have been reported to be the most stressed generation. Mysticism offers an alternative to the harsh realties of life and appears to be sparking humor and joy across social media through meme culture. Whether astrology offers any truth appears not to matter and shows no signs of going away any time soon.

Three extinction-level events that could destroy earth tomorrow

Supernovas is an extinction level event which could end the world in a blink of an eye. This is a colour composite image taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of a supernova remnant in the Crab Nebula. The explosion was observed and recorded by Chinese and Japanese astronomers in 1054. Image courtesy of the European Southern Observatory.


The idea that all life on the planet can suddenly end tomorrow might sound preposterous to most – and rightly so. After all, we’re not living in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s not like the mad titan Thanos is real and could disintegrate all life simply by putting on the Infinity Gauntlet and snapping his fingers.

However, would it surprise you to learn that statistically, an average person is five times as likely to die from an extinction-level event (ELE) compared to a car crash? In addition, would it shock you to hear that more than two dozen ELEs have occurred on earth during the past few billion years? Some of the causes include a supernova of a star from the Scorpius-Centaurus cluster about two million years ago (Pliocene–Pleistocene extinction), a gamma-ray burst from deep space approximately 443.8 million years ago (Ordovician mass extinction) and the depletion of oxygen in oceans about 542 million years ago (End-Ediacaran extinction).

To be fair, these occurrences were spread across extraordinarily long periods of stability and calm. For perspective, modern humans have only been existence for about 200,000 years, which is just a fraction of earth’s 4.5 billion years of existence.

And yet, you might be curious by now about the types of ELEs that might impact your plans this weekend.

1. Crashing asteroids

Asteroids are no stranger to us, since they crash quite regularly into the earth. The majority of asteroids though burn themselves in the atmosphere, while the few that land on the ground typically end up in museums and universities. Every once in a long while though, asteroids of monstrous sizes do fall on earth, and they will inevitably result in massive planetary upheavals.

The last significant asteroid to smash into the planet was the Chicxulub Impactor about 66 million years ago, an event which scientists termed the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction. With an estimated diameter of up to 53 miles, the asteroid had the stored energy equivalent of up to 900 billion atomic bombs used to decimate Hiroshima during World War II. The impact resulted in massive explosions, hundred-metre tsunamis, raging fires (even rocks melted), and cyclones. The resulting dust and smoke rose into the upper atmosphere and eventually blocked sunlight from coming through.

The Chicxulub Impactor crash effectively led to the extinction of dinosaurs, as well as three quarters of all animal and plant life on earth. The site of the impact, the Chicxulub crater, is buried underneath the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. 

Despite what we’ve been led to believe in movies, humans currently have no effective countermeasures or collision avoidance strategies against any large asteroids approaching earth, even if we had years of notice.


A shaded relief image generated by Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) data shows the 300 kilometres-wide Chixulub Crater in Mexico. Image courtesy of NASA
A shaded relief image generated by Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) data shows the 300 kilometres-wide Chixulub Crater in Mexico. Image courtesy of NASA</a></em></span>

2. Volcanism

The land which we walk, run, and live on are actually relatively thin layers of solidified landmass called crusts, which technically floats above an inner liquid core. We are introduced to the inner core occasionally when volcanoes erupt and spew hot magma. These eruptions are typically caused by plate tectonic motions, which have sculpted the surface of the world as we now know.

The plate tectonic motions are caused by a variety of factors, such as thermal convection currents, gravitational changes involving molten minerals, chemicals and gasses, and fluctuations of the sun’s magnetic field.

Once in a while though, these factors combine to produce massive movements which trigger explosive eruptions of lava, gas and even water. Aside from the obvious devastation caused by fiery magmas and inflammable gas, volcanism will set up a chain of earthquakes and flood basalts.

If that’s not bad enough, depending on the spread of the event, the ash and gas discharged during the eruptions will block sunlight and cause a volcanic winter. Heat on the surface of the planet will drop to below freezing levels, oxygen will be depleted as plants are no longer able to perform photosynthesis, and the world will be in perpetual near-darkness for a period of time. As energy runs out, so will the majority of living creatures.

Volcanism played a notable role in the Permian-Triassic extinction event which caused the extinction of up to 96% of all marine species and up to 70% of terrestrial species.


Global map illustrating known tectonic plate boundaries and volcanic fault lines which would be most vulnerable from volcanism. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Global map illustrating known tectonic plate boundaries and volcanic fault lines which would be most vulnerable from volcanism. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

3. Climate change

As noted above, the Permian-Triassic extinction event 252 million years ago nearly decimated all lifeforms on earth, making it one of the deadliest ELEs in history. There were several factors which contributed to the ELE, dubbed ominously as the Great Dying. Cumulatively, however, these factors caused dramatic climate changes which eventually culminated with a 10◦ Celsius (20◦ Fahrenheit) rise in ocean surface temperatures in the tropical region.

A ten degrees spike isn’t so bad, right? Britons regularly experienced higher temperature jumps during the summer months. Are the climate change deniers right then, in that, global warming is a hoax despite an almost universal consensus from the global scientific community?

No, climate change deniers and the fossil fuel companies which fund them are still very wrong, on all counts.

A permanent 10-degree increase on a scale that large is cataclysmic. Heck, projections show that a ‘mere’ 6◦ Celsius increase could end life as we know it – cities will be drowned with water from the melting ice caps, marine life will face an immediate extinction, extended heat waves will create deserts in population centres and agricultural land, forests will be engulfed in firestorms, and the air we breathe will be heavily polluted with methane from the ocean floor.


Forest fires, like the pictured 2013 Alder Fire on the southern end of Yellowstone National Park, will become more frequent in future as temperatures soar higher due to global warming. Image courtesy of NPS Climate Change Response
NPS Climate Change Response


During the Permian-Triassic extinction, the domino effect from global warming was less sophisticated, but equally deadly. The increased temperature sped up the metabolism rate of marine animals, which increased their oxygen requirement. However, the warmer waters held a lower amount of oxygen. Consequently, marine life began to suffocate and die off. On land, the temperature increase caused flooding, heatwave and wildfires, while volcanism accelerated the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Not only did these changes spark a chain reaction, but they also propagated and worsened existing climate instabilities.

Make no mistake – climate change is an ELE, and humans are in midst of going extinct. We are already witnessing radical changes in weather patterns, water supply, temperature and much more. One of these changes could very well affect you tomorrow.

For instance, the August 2003 European heatwave directly caused the deaths of 2043 people in the United Kingdom. Scientists predict that this kind of deadly heatwaves would be a common occurrence by the 2040s, and temperatures could skyrocket to of 48◦ Celsius (118◦ Fahrenheit). But such is the nature of climate, that a single unstable element will trigger other failures in the ecosystem. Heatwaves will lead to droughts, disrupted water cycle, the emergence of diseases, invasion of non-native animal species and much more.


The Online Marketplace Comparison Guide 2018

The Financial Times revealed households devoted more of their budgets to clothing, food and online purchases at the end of 2017 than the year before, according to figures on consumer spending. Figures from Statista, which presents statistics and studies from more than 22,500 sources, proclaim Britons spent £149 billion online in 2017 – up from £133 billion in 2016. Internet spending doesn’t seem to be slowing either, as the same stats reveal, in 2017, online retail sales were up 12.1% on average year-on-year (YoY.) 

These facts and figures prove selling on an online marketplace can be highly lucrative. But, it’s difficult to know where to begin, in terms of buying and selling. Which online marketplace fits your needs? Which can you trust? Which would you be confident to recommend? 

Continue reading “The Online Marketplace Comparison Guide 2018”