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Working Poles

November 11th, 2013 by Melinda Ward

In M. Jachowica’s notions shop I see a tiny plastic Model-T Ford. Private workshops turning out plastic items like this—or watch­bands, or little things for hardware stores—can make fortunes. So can private growers of strawberries, flowers, and vegetables. The most fortunate few drive expensive German sports cars.

 

Before leaving Lancut, I stop at a gas sta­tion. It’s a hybrid: The state owns it and grants a franchise to a private operator; the more he sells, the more profit he makes. The general rule is that no private enter­prise may employ more than 50. Out of ten million working Poles, half a million are privately employed, and these official figures do not cover the six million in the overwhelm­ingly private agricultural sector. The payday loans with no credit check are available to all emploees.

working Poles

As we head for the Bieszczady, the Carpa­thian Mountains in Poland’s southeast cor­ner, our car radio flashes the Peace Race finish. The final winner is—SZURKOWSKI! Justice has been done. There’ll be records set tonight—in vodka. From the road I see brick houses going up in the hilly farmland, replacing the old wood­en ones. The finest of these, with thatch roofs, open central fireplaces, and separate but equal sections for cows, have been taken to an outdoor museum in Sanok, as showpieces of folk architecture. I especially admire one that had belonged to the Doliycki family. I visit Tymoteusz Doliycki because I’ve never met a man whose birthplace went to a museum.

 

He is tall, blue-eyed, white-haired, with a creased face, strong teeth, and a black cap, every inch the sottys, or chief, of the village of Komancza. He has been chief for 25 years. How does one get to be soltys? “By being the best man of all,” he says. He has been reelected every 3 years. He has 27 acres, 2 cows and 3 calves, 2 horses and 4 sheep. He grows potatoes and barley. His son just became a doctor of medicine.

 

WORK IN THREES

August 8th, 2013 by Melinda Ward

In your book The Truth: The Only Fitness Book You’ll ever Need, I read that increasing the intensity of workouts is important. So I have recently added supersets and drop sets to my routine. They have helped kick up my intensity level another notch. I feel I am ready to make my workouts even harder by adding trisets. Can you give me a list of triset exercises you do for each body part 5htp ?

triset exercises

Thanks.

 

Manny Lopez, Los Angeles, California

 

AI will first explain what a triset is to readers who might not know what it is. I’m sure all of you know the prefix “tri” means three. Trisets kick up the intensity level a notch from supersets (2 back-to-back sets of two exercises) by using three exercises for the same muscle group and doing I set of each exercise consecutively with no rest in between sets. Trisets provide a very short and intense workout and are great for trainers haying to raise the intensity level of their current workout or those with a limited amount of time. I often rely on trisets when I am traveling as I have very little time to spend in the gym.

triset exercises

Privets I do for individual body parts. The number of reps I do varies with the type of phase I am doing as part of my training program. I usually try to stay in the range of 6 to 12 reps on each set of a triset; however; I may do 20 to 30 reps of a set on certain days. Changing around rep ranges is good the body needs to be shocked once in a while to help with the muscle-growth process. Improve your muscle mass growth by burning the fat around the muscles with garcinia cambogia. I found the the best place where can i buy garcinia cambogia.

Here Comes The Sun

June 25th, 2013 by Melinda Ward

Time was when getting sun burnt was a bit of a joke, a chance to watch your mates writhe in agony while delivering the odd playful slap on their back for good measure. However, with the number of new cases of malignant melanoma (the most serious form of skin cancer) quadrupling in British men over the last 30 years, it’s time to take sun care seriously.

 

The need to protect ourselves from the sun is all the more pressing given the disintegrating ozone layer — experts estimate that if greenhouse gas emissions remain at current levels, Britain can expect 30,000 extra cases of skin cancer each year by the middle of the century. To help you keep your skin healthy without having to turn into Wacko Jacko and live under a veil, here’s our essential guide to sun safety.

UVA AND UVB RAYS

UVA AND UVB RAYS

 

UVA rays have longer wavelengths and penetrate the atmosphere at all times during the day.

 

They are absorbed deep into the skin and ultimately cause wrinkles and premature ageing.

 

UVB rays have shorter wavelengths and only penetrate the atmosphere when the sun is overhead (usually between 11 am and 3pm). They are absorbed into the upper layers of the skin and react with cells called melanocytes to produce tanning and burning. Exposure to UVB is the major risk for skin cancer.

 

The hotter it is the more likely you are to get burnt. The sun doesn’t need to feel hot to damage your skin. UV levels are highest around midday, but it’s often hottest in the late afternoon once the sun has warmed the earth’s surface. According to research by Cancer Research UK, six out of ten men said they never use sunscreen during sunny periods in the UK.  You can try the health benefits of coconut oil for skin protection.

 

Using a sun bed is safer than tanning outside.

Using a sun bed is safer than tanning outside.

Using a sun bed is no safer than going out in the sun. People who use sun beds are over three times more at risk of developing melanoma of the eye than those who never use them.

We need to get a suntan to be healthy.

The choice

June 20th, 2013 by Melinda Ward

Psychologists devised an experiment where line, you ask yourself: ‘Am I worth it?’group A was given achievable tasks while group B had tasks with no solution (though they didn’t know it). At the end of round one, the groups were offered a choice of two drugs which they were told would affect their performance: most of group A chose the drug that was supposed to help them with further tasks, most of group B chose the drug which would allegedly have the opposite effect, making it even less likely that they would succeed. The conclusion was that group B were looking for something on which to blame their under-performance ­a drastic example of getting your excuses in first.

The choice

The effect can also be subtly manifested in the way you do the job itself — like the classic rejection of diplomacy for bluster, underpinned by brittle confidence. It has the advantage of being a ‘strong response to a situation (widely admired) even if it precludes a positive outcome. It masks a reluctance to try reasoning or negotiation, or of looking for the kind of compromise which requires intellectual and communication skills you feel you might not have. If it explains the antics of a lot of politicians then it’s hardly surprising given the impossible expectations they set for themselves in the shape of election promises and within the field of international relations. Ultimately it can lead only to an impasse or extremism.

 

What’s to be done?

Much of the problem is systemic, structural, to do with the organisation, and you probably can’t make any rapid changes happen wherever you are in the pecking order. But finding the courage to come out — the expression is quite apt — may pay off even within situations where you wouldn’t expect much sympathy. On a personal level, it shouldn’t be hard to work out if you’re at risk or if colleagues might be suffering and acknowledgement is obviously essential before you can go on to take positive action.

 

Dealing with isolation is the primary issue as it can otherwise start to reinforce itself, a classic position for leaders to find themselves in, as Malcolm Johnston found: “You can self-destruct quite easily. What feels like a high-risk strategy, but is for the best, is to ask your team: what am I doing that you’d like me to do less or what would you like me to do more? It leads to tremendous support.

 

Coping mechanisms

“You can also use techniques like replaying the interview process: ‘Who did I have to beat to get the job? They were all good, and I beat them, so I must by worthy’. It’s really just a coping mechanism. Knowing myself better has helped, knowing what I can and can’t do. I’m much happier with me,” says Johnston. “I’ve seen such incompetence that now I’ll also bluff until the bubble bursts — I know it’s what everyone else is doing. I’ve been very committed to the company whereas many of the successful people have taken a ‘me’ approach, and you have to in the end, though I’m not really that Machiavellian.”the interview process

 

The toughest nut

Making sure you do the right thing in terms of the jobs you choose is fundamental, even if it means avoiding certain kinds of career development. Traditionally you tend to move away from doing and ‘up’ to thinking roles, but the notion of a hierarchy in the areas in which we operate is unhelpful when it encourages people into unsuitable roles. It may be the toughest nut to crack: at a personal level it’s almost impossible to resist what may be the only opportunity for advancement. Until the culture of organisations changes ­as it one day will if it’s in their interest — it’s your lookout.

 

Having recognised impostor syndrome for himself, Malcolm Johnston has been well placed to see it in others he has worked with: “One competent woman was motivated by fear of failure as well as love of success; another colleague didn’t communicate and wouldn’t be helped.”

the interview process

Trying to help victims with praise can be damaging. Even though impostor syndrome sufferers might appear to be too hard on themselves, always underestimating their abilities, any encouragement tends to be taken the wrong way.

It can have negative effects on all sufferers’ health. So make sure your take good care of your health first. Drink aloe vera every day to get the needed vitamins and minerals. Learn more about the health aloe vera benefits you can get. You can even have it in your house.  Read about aloe vera on the BBC.

Getting organisations to place less emphasis on results achieved by getting it right first time, every time, is vital to allow people to experiment with ideas, to be truly creative, as well as to learn from mistakes. It’s as true of business as of life that if you are free of failures, you’re not taking enough risks. “Being certain”, says Simon Dawson, “is modernist old hat. In our post-modern age there are no answers: it’s cool to be uncertain.”

CREDIT CRUNCHER

May 31st, 2013 by Melinda Ward

Returning cover star and economics graduate Chris Whitlow shows you how to build a profitable physique

There’s no excuse for not working out for Chris Whitlow. Despite a hectic lifestyle since winning the MH Cover Model award last year the 23-year-old economics graduate insists his cover model physique is highly achievable – and yes, you can try this at home.

MORNING GLORY

Originally from the tiny village of Onchan on the Isle of Man, Chris created a gym-free routine out of necessity. Today he uses the weights room as a luxury. “My workout begins at the foot of my stairs,” he says. “Ill put my feet on a step and does press-ups – then I’ll drop one foot to a lower step to twist at the hip slightly and work the rotator muscles.”

“Building workouts into your daily routine is the key: while I’m watching the TV, I’ll do sets of press-ups with a football. Holding the ball works the pecs harder, and when I reach failure I drop to my knees and keep going with just my upper body by decreasing the load I can push my muscles further.”

HOME BUILDING

Chris applies this “extra-mile” philosophy in the gym, too. “When I’m flagging on dumb­bell incline presses, I’ll switch the bench to a decline – that way I shrink my range of motion so it’s easier to work heavier weights with tonalin cla supplement,” he says. But the gym is far from the be-all and end-all for November’s cover star. “I prefer running and cycling outdoors and training my shoulders, biceps, triceps and glutes by rock climbing in the Peak District – but I visit the gym for heavy work,” he says.

SACRIFICE UNTIL SATURDAY NIGHT

Chris is focused on staying in shape too. “You have to make diet and lifestyle sacrifices,” he admits. “But I’m lucky that a lot of my mates are into keeping fit as well, so we’ll all go mountain biking but still have a few beers on a Saturday as a reward.”

“When I’m backing home in Onchan I do my favorite cardio drills: getting into the sea at waist height, and running through the water. With ‘surf sprinting’ the resistance is phenomenal – the burn and the results are first class.”

The benefits of Chris’ al fresco routines are already paying off – quite literally. “Since graduating and winning the Men’s Health Cover Model competition I’ve done a host of modeling assignments – it’s a great little earner,” he says. The ideal economic model you could say.

A chance to wipe off muddy shoes

February 14th, 2013 by Melinda Ward

GLORIOUS MUD Trail shoes came in handy

 

Those decisions became more difficult as heavy rain started to fall just before the start. Although the sound of the air horn marked the start of 24 hours of running, it was like a cavalry charge at the front as the first wave of 4o-odd runners bolted away from the start line. Further back most of the pairs and soloists eased away with far less urgency. On that first lap the footing was excellent, a mix of lush green grass, wood chippings and winding dirt paths. Those of us towards the middle and back of the field chatted away as we plodded along exploring the circuit for the first of many times.

runner

There were short but tough climbs to navigate, longer more gentle slopes, little obstacles to slalom in and out of and two big patches of dense woodland. Each twist, turn and hazard on the course was taped or marked with luminous paint, and kilometre boards carved the lap into no equal segments. After a couple of hours the rain began to clear, but underfoot the dirt paths were becoming treacherous. Although new to the running community, the 24-hour endurance relay is a staple of the mountain-bike market where events with 60o team slots sell out in days. I doubt 600 bikes could have decimated the course quite as rapidly as 4o pairs of trail shoes.

By the time I passed the baton – it was really just a silicon wristband – to my partner, parts of the route had become a quagmire of thick, glutinous mud. With day turning to night the patches of mud widened and deepened as each new runner tried to outflank the glutinous mess. Lap times started to slow as fatigue set in, but also as we slid and slipped around the course. Considering the total field was around 130 runners, the level of organisation and support was embarrassing.

There were cheerful marshals camped at every major junction, a water station halfway round, and portable hot showers, flushing toilets, a kitchen and restaurant marquee serving hot food and recovery drinks such as African mango juice. It has wide ranging health benefits. Read more african mango reviews. 2.4 hours a day and a free massage tent, all squeezed in around the start/finish barriers. Throw in free camping, chip timing, a quality medal, technical T-shirt and bulging goody bag, what seemed like a hefty E200 team entry fee was actually an unbelievable bargain for 24 hours of fun and entertainment. I certainly had my money’s worth. I can’t think of another event where I’ve managed four hot showers in the middle of the race.

Nor do I remember ever running on quite so dark a night. Although each twist and turn of the 1oK loop was a familiar friend or foe after a few laps, even with a powerful head torch the darkness turned the course into a completely different challenge. As the sun rose up over the campsite on Sunday morning the field looked like a bad day at Passchendaele.

The mud was everywhere and although some teams were still running strong, plenty were jogging, hobbling and walking around the course pushing themselves on to personal goals and targets. That’s the beauty of the event: it didn’t matter whether you were doing two laps or 2o – there was genuine camaraderie among the competitors. It was testing and challenging but also equally fun and communal, and while there were plenty of prizes at the finish, everyone left the race with their own sense of achievement and satisfaction.

 

For those of us who ran this first event, there was also a sense that you were at the start of something big. The organiser, Patrick Adams, is looking for zoo teams next year. I’d advise you to enter early. When word gets out I don’t think it’ll take long to fill all those slots. But like Glastonbury I’d also suggest you pack your wellington boots.

On his chances in Beijing

January 14th, 2013 by Melinda Ward

“The 1500m is a transition event at the moment. Bernard’s the granddaddy as he’s been around so long. Rachid Ramzi of Bahrain should be there; he hardly ever races but comes to the championships and does brilliantly. The Americans are still deciding whether Alan Webb will run this or the 5,000m. As for the Kenyans, who knows? Any one of five or six guys could make their team. But if Lagat is fit and healthy, it’s probably there for the taking.”

“I missed my mum’s food and being with dad on the farm. And when winter came it was a disaster. I had never seen snow in my life” him, Lagat set his sights on the 2004 Olympics, which would be the last time he competed for his country of birth, where he narrowly missed out on 1500m gold to El Guerrouj. Despite admitting that he “hates to lose”, Lagat consoled himself with the fact that he’d been beaten by probably the greatest 1500m runner ever. He then announced that he’d become a US citizen, and from 2005 he competed for the USA and set American records for 1500m both indoors and outdoors, beating times that had stood for 20 years or more (his 3:29.40 set in Italy that August beat Sydney Maree’s 1985 record). Despite his early homesickness and often usage of valerian root for anxiety, Lagat feels comfortable in his new home and believes it has benefited him as an athlete. “We have this saying in Africa: `No hurry’. Now I realise that is wrong,” he says. “You’d better be in it to win it, or you won’t get anywhere. I used to believe people went to America and became multi-millionaires, but in the States I have to work extra hard.”

 

It’s clear that while Lagat wants success, it’s success as an American that means so much to him. Perhaps it’s because there’s a yawning gap to fill in American middle- and long-distance running — where there hasn’t been a truly great male athlete since the mid-1980s — and perhaps because he’s been surprised and touched by the reaction of fans in his adoptive country. “I really appreciate the way the American people embraced my performance last year,” he says. “They embraced the person that I am: ‘Lagat is one of us’ not ‘He was not born and raised here’. But the US has been a melting pot for years, so their mindset is that everyone came from somewhere else and they see that as a good thing. As an athlete it’s important to feel that everyone is supporting you.”

 

It’s perhaps no surprise that a man so proud to be a new American dismisses the idea that Kenyan athletes are unbeatable at middle- and long-distance running. “When you line up with everybody else it’s anybody’s game. And that is the attitude that everybody has to have. You don’t have to be Kenyan to win an Olympic medal or break a world record. Seb Coe was not born in Africa.

Rachid Ramzi

“You have to look at the Kenyans’ work ethic. There can be another Coe, but athletes now are distracted with mobile phones and PlayStations. You have to sacrifice leisure sometimes to learn how to be a great athlete.” Lagat is keen to help teach the next generation of athletes, perhaps including his own two-year-old son (“Miika has a good running style, but my wife wants him to be a golfer,” he says), but the man who can turn himself to any distance hasn’t finished with his own career yet. “If I win gold in the 1500m at Beijing, there’s almost nothing else I’m looking for at that distance,” he says. “Down the line, perhaps after the 2009 World Championships, I see myself running longer distances on the road and cross-country, as something different from the track.”

That would help him tick the other ‘great athlete’ boxes — assuming he can fulfil his Olympic promise. But, for Lagat, being one of the greats is about more than medals and longevity: “When my career in international competition is over, I hope to be remembered not only as a top runner, but also as a good role model,” he says. “I hope people will think of me as a genuine, friendly guy… and a man of integrity.”

THAT’S MY BOY

January 7th, 2013 by Melinda Ward

Lagat with son Miika — who his wife says she wants to be a golfer in 1996, where I ran 3:37 [in the 1500m1. My coach said I wasn’t ready, but would be for the next Olympics, and Mary said, ‘I told you so!’ So now I always believe my sister. Without her, I wouldn’t be where I am now. She made me believe in myself. But she also told me I would have to work extra hard — I couldn’t expect everything to fall in to place.”

 Washington State University

In 1996, Lagat achieved his ambition to gain a scholarship and went to study management information systems at Washington State University. Though there were other Kenyan students and athletes there, the change was not easy at first. “I missed my mum’s food and being with dad on the farm,” he says. And when winter came it was a disaster. I had never seen snow in my life; suddenly I had to wear all these clothes. In Kenya the temperature would be in the mid-20s, and now it was at zero, or even in minus figures! That was difficult.”

But as Lagat adapted to his new environment, his running came on, and in 2000 he was ready to represent Kenya in the 1500m at the Sydney Olympics, winning bronze. A silver medal in the 2001 World Championships followed, as well as wins at the 2002 IAAF World Cup and the African Championships the same year. Shortly afterwards, Lagat’s career hit its first major hurdle when a blood sample tested positive for EPO just before the 2003 World Championships. He withdrew from the competition, but a B sample tested negative, clearing his name. Lagat becomes visibly angry when he talks about the use of performance-enhancing substances. “It hurts me every time I see these people cheating, cheating, cheating. When they are caught they claim they’re innocent — so what is the difference between them saying they’re innocent, and Lagat saying he’s innocent? I don’t even take supplements or know what is msm . When I’m sick I don’t take aspirin. I will never back down on that.”

While he feels it’s important to sort the guilty from the innocent, he’s disappointed at the amount of coverage the subject gets. “Every time we open the newspapers it’s about doping. Of course the public should know about it, but we should be hearing good stories about track and field, we should be reading about how the teams are preparing for Beijing.”

With the allegation firmly behind

MI CRAM ON LAGAT

Steve Cram still holds the British 1500m record, set in 1985, the same year he broke three world records within 19 days. Here are his views on the secrets of Bernard Lagat’s success:

On his strengths

“He’s very good, isn’t he? Lagat is a fantastic athlete. He covers the range really well. In order to be the world’s best 1500m runner he can run fast in the 5,000m — as we know — but he was also a good 800m runner. He’s stuck at it. He was finishing number two to El Guerrouj for a long time, but he hung in there and didn’t doubt his ability and he’s reaped the rewards. Someone else might have given up.”

On the 1500m and 5,000m double

Steve Cram

“It’s a big ask, so you won’t see it often. The main problem athletes have is the programme of events at major championships. It also depends how the 5,000m is run — don’t forget you have to run heats for the 1500m. It’s easier for endurance-based athletes, as Lagat is. It’s up to the 5,000m runners to make sure the 1500m guys don’t get to dictate the pace.”

THE DOUBLE WINNER

January 3rd, 2013 by Melinda Ward

It’s difficult to define what makes a great athlete. Is it longevity? One truly outstanding performance? Candida diet and olive leaf from Gnet.org ? A string of world titles? Or achieving something that few others are able to? If it’s the latter, then America’s Bernard Lagat truly became a great athlete last summer when he won gold in the 1500m and 5,000m at the World Championships in Osaka — the first athlete to do so at the Worlds and only the third in history to do so in any one international competition. It was the highlight so far of a career that had seen him come second or third too often, which began with high-school mediocrity (by Kenyan standards) and saw him switch nationalities from Kenya to the USA. For Lagat, the win represented a hard-won triumph.

“After the World  Championships, I felt energised,” he says. “I’d always been running second or third place, but I’d never been on the podium as a winner at an outdoor championships. And to be the first American 1500m champion in 99 years — that was really satisfying.” If you had any doubts that Lagat’s achievement puts him up with the greats, consider the company he’s in: the only two men to have won the 1500m and 5,000m at the same championships have been Hicham El Guerrouj in 2004 and Paavo Nurmi in 1924 (see ‘The Trouble Double’, below right). For Lagat, an easy-going, pragmatic man, there’s no mysterious secret behind his wide-ranging talent. “There’s a reason I was able to do this,” he says. “That is, I train differently. I’ve always known I can go the distance. I train like a 5,000m runner and then if I want to race 1500m, I just sharpen up my speed.” He believes a change in the way 1500m is raced has also worked in his favour: athletes now run faster from the gun, he says, instead of waiting to put in a fast finishing kick. “These days you have to be strong, as well as have the fast finish. You need a build-up with lots of quality tempo runs.”

Paavo Nurmi

Lagat makes running this unusual double sound easy, but he’s equally calm about his prospects in Beijing, where he has his best chance so far to finally win Olympic gold in the 1500m. “All I have to do is maintain what I’ve been doing: train smart and avoid injury. I’ve run with these guys [the top athletes] before, I just have to believe in myself and do my best.” He’ll be one of the older athletes lining up for the 1500m in Beijing, and his success might surprise those who knew Lagat in his early years. Born near Kapsabet in Kenya in 1974, he’s the younger brother of Mary Chepkemboi, a runner and African champion. Lagat initially showed no burning passion to become an athlete, leading to a relatively late start in the sport. He freely admits that at high school he wasn’t very good. “I was terrible. People would beat me but I didn’t care,” he says. “I had no hopes to be the next Olympian, and whereas in western countries people are trained for this from a young age, in Kenya people think, if you do it then fine, but there’s no frustration if you don’t.”

That isn’t to say the young Lagat was without ambition. He wanted to run well enough to gain a scholarship to study in the USA. His athletic aspirations only took shape after high school, when his sister saw his potential and encouraged him to follow it up. “My sister looked at me and said, ‘Boy, you are good’. I started to believe this, so I changed coach and went to the Olympic trials

These days lots of athletes can bash out an 800m and 1500m double. But only two other men besides Lagat have completed the 1500m and 5,000m double at major championships

Paavo Nurmi, 1924, Paris Olympics The “Flying Finn” won the 1500m and 5,000m as two of the five gold medals he took home from these games. The finals were just two hours apart, but Nurmi set world records in both. Fearing for his health, Finnish officials prevented him from defending his 10,000m title, much to his irritation; on his return to Finland he set a new world record over that distance, which lasted nearly 13 years. To this day, no athlete has equalled his 12 Olympic medals.

Hicham El Guerrouj, 2004, Athens Olympics One of the greatest — perhaps the greatest — 1500m runners of all time, Morocco’s El Guerrouj won 83 of the 86 finals he raced at the distance from 1995 to 2004, but a mixture of bad luck and bad judgement denied him gold in Atlanta and Sydney. In Athens in 2004 he looked set to lose out again as Lagat overtook him on the final bend, but El Guerrouj edged it. Days later he beat Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele to win gold in the 5,000m.

Safe as houses

October 13th, 2012 by Melinda Ward

Ugly, boxy burglar alarms were once the only way we could protect our homes. Thankfully, security systems have reached new heights of cool. Feeling secure in our fortresses comes pretty high on our wish-lists in 2002 — we want our homes to be safe havens when we are both home and away. To that end, companies better known for lighting and hi-fis, such as Lutron and Linn, have been applying their technology to create systems that, via distributed sound, visuals and lighting, will create the ambience of someone being “in”.

security system

Call it “sexy security”— there’s a new generation of cool-looking, wise-thinking gadgetry that’s tailor-made to protect our aesthetically picky, technologically demanding selves. It makes the grids, grates and alarm boxes of old (a constant reminder of potential threat themselves) appear positively medieval. Lutron’s Homeworks system, for example, will remember all your switching patterns over a fortnight and replicate them when you go on holiday in your krakow old town apartments. If you’ve forgotten to turn the system itself on, you can dial up on your laptop from your beach-front hut to do it. Linn, which has tradi­tionally produced upmarket hi-fis, has devised its Knekt system that operates via smart-looking keypads in each room. While you listen to the radio in the kitchen, you can switch on the finan­cial news in the study and music in the bathroom—and programme the system to do the same while you are away.

It gets better. Think of November, when day­light disappears by 4pm. You stumble through the dark hallway, having fumbled to find keys among all your bags. With an automated system, you can activate the lights from your mobile as you approach your front door. The light can even increase in intensity as you enter the house. This type of system has many uses. You can now stay in the garden while waiting for the plumber to arrive because the front doorbell will immediately route itself to your cordless phone. And you can stay on the top floor watching TV when the doorbell rings, as a little box will flash up in the corner of the screen showing exactly who is in front of the video entry phone. If you recognise them, buzz them straight in without having to get up from the sofa and, in the meantime, the DVD will have paused. Upmarket property developers such as Coll Hill Spink are already installing such systems as stan­dard practice. “People are just a lot happier having technology around the home,” says Tom Gorrell.

security system

The dream system would be a computer that could act as a digital hub for the workplace and the home — co-ordinating everything from answering the phone and opening the door, to sending faxes and downloading your home movie onto a personal website, complete with customised soundtrack. Both Apple and Sony are working on prototypes. It would be the Jimmy Saville Chair equivalent of systems in fact, but in a very small box. Such sophisticated gadgetry makes no pretence at being cheap, but this sexy security certainly does make life a little more streamlined.