Blue Voyage - Life on Board a Turkish Gulet

A Blue Cruise is probably one of the most relaxing and marvelous vacations to be had. Cruising leisurely on board a Turkish gulet along a mountainous and pristine coastline rich with the remains of ancient civilizations offers the traveler much to see and experience. The turquoise blue sea in this part of the world is so clear that the sea bed is often visible. Numerous wooded bays and coves, many of them secluded, dot the shoreline and Blue Voyage charters give one enough opportunity to wander around and explore at will. Anatolia's rich culture and history unfold along the way as the gulet stops at charming fishing villages, market towns, popular resorts as well as a host of ancient ruins and monuments. Add to that the relaxed and friendly atmosphere as well as modern comforts on board the gulet and you have something close to a floating paradise. 

A Blue Cruise charter gulet, which is a motor powered wooden yacht made by hand, combines indigenous boat building traditions with modern technology. These yachts run on motors at speeds between 8 and 11 knots, usually, and are generally capable of sailing only when the wind permits. Gulets are designed to accommodate a maximum of 16 passengers who sleep in twin or single cabins, which have attached showers and WCs. Many gulets are air - conditioned. Most of the time on board is spent lounging, making friends and sunbathing on the spacious deck or dining in the saloon or under an awning. Gulets usually have well equipped galleys and fresh delicious Turkish cuisine is served on board. Since all gulets have bars, passengers can buy alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages. 

On an average, gulets cruise for three hours everyday and keep close to shore. On board a gulet, one rarely confronts choppy waters because the boat normally moves in and out of bays and coves, stopping at least twice a day. Gulets have water sports equipment for those interested in snorkeling, windsurfing, diving and water - skiing. Guests have plenty of opportunity to swim in the clean waters of the Turkish Mediterranean and sunbathe as much as they wish. As the gulet drops anchor near quaint villages and towns, islands as well as interesting historical sites, one can undertake short treks inland to explore secluded spots, the remains of ancient civilizations as well as to get a feel of life in Turkish fishing villages and small towns. Though the yacht normally stops for the night at solitary coves, it will dock at fairly large coastal towns at least twice or thrice over the duration of the cruise in order to give passengers the chance to shop, wander around as well as sample the nightlife. 

Blue Voyage cruises are known for attentive and personalized service as well as for the fresh delectable cuisine served on board. The captain, cook and crew are friendly and take pains to ensure that guests are happy with the food and service. The emphasis is on relaxation and enjoyment. On some evenings, guests are entertained by the captain and crew. The idea is to encourage passengers to mingle and have fun together. Dinner on the aft deck under the stars is a wonderful experience. Though the crew can usually manage to speak a few words of English, guests are advised to take a pocket dictionary along to facilitate communication if need be.

Laundry facilities are rarely offered on board so it's best to take more than one swimsuit. Guests may, of course, wash their own clothes if they wish. Some light warm clothing will come in handy as the evenings can be cool. Other clothes and gear that are recommended are a pair of full length trousers for historical and nature treks, a few long and short sleeved shirts, sun shades, beach towel, sun screen, hat and flip - flops. Snorkeling enthusiasts might want to take their own goggles along with them. Bed and bath linen are provided on board. Though each cabin has storage space, it is best to carry a collapsible bag rather than a suitcase because the former are easier to stow.

In general, gulets are comfortable and the crew is always at hand to help passengers if required. Life on board a gulet, as passengers soon discover, is truly a pleasure.

So Many Ways Of Making Money Online

I find it absolutely amazing how the internet has just permeated into every aspect of our lives. Money used to be represented by gold, copper or other metals. The value of money used to be backed by the amount of gold the issuer had. Then when money was taken off the gold standard, it became represented by paper. The piece of paper in itself had no real value. It was who was printing that piece of paper that mattered. Money became an IOU of sorts. Today, with the internet, money is not even that piece of paper anymore. It is represented just by numbers. Money can be created out of nowhere, and can disappear as quickly. Making money has never been easier. Today, even virtual products can be bought and sold, for real money. All thanks to the internet.

So what are the ways of making money online ? My list is far from exhaustive, I'm sure.

Online marketing has been used in the real world, where real products are bought and sold. Supermarket chains now allow their customers to order their products online. Shopping used to take 2 hours, including travelling time. Not to mention, one had to match one's timing to when the shops were open. Today, you can do your groceries at 1 am, and get them delivered the next day. Just log onto the website, click a few items and pay with your credit card. Done. You don't even need to buy your things from shops in your neighbourhood. The shops don't even need to be in your country. In some cases, the shops don't even exist in the real world, just online. You can get books and many other products from eBay is virtually synonymous with online buying and selling. You never have to touch a paper dollar. Paypal transfers some numbers from your account to the merchant's account at a click of a button. Selling products online has opened a whole new world of customers. Now you can sell your products to people worldwide. All they need is an internet connection. Then the postal service collects the goods, and ships them over to you. And I thought with the advent of faxes and emails, the postal services will go out of business. Now they are busier than ever.

So what else can one buy with online marketing ? Digital products are becoming increasingly popular. E-books, computer programmes etc can all be sent through the internet. No need to wait for the postal service to deliver the product to you. Just click on the button, pay with paypal or your credit card, a few numbers disappear again, and the product is yours ! Huge business. If the Google advertisements are to be believed, many people are getting rich just selling digital products online. The production costs are minimal. Outlay doesn't cost much. It is hardly surprising these products are able to pay out as high as 50-70% in commissions.

Google and Yahoo! function almost entirely in the internet world. Look how rich their creators have become, and their wealth is still increasing.

Then you can make money online with advertisements. Google AdSense is probably one of the best known ones. People pay Google for its pay-per-click ads, called adwords. Others allow Google to put a few little advertisements on their websites. Hardly complicated. In fact, for the Google people, it's almost nothing, as the advertisements are written by the advertisers themselves. The computer helps them find places for the advertisements to appear. People who want the advertisements simply apply to have them appear on their websites. Someone else clicks on the advertisement, the advertiser gets charged, and the "advertisee" gets paid. Hopefully a sale also results. And Google makes a fortune. They must be hundreds of digital products and blogs / websites all tailored towards making money using AdWords or adsense. These products in themselves generate millions of dollars.

There are also many websites set up specifically for people to get their websites noticed by those searching for similar products. Some are free. Others charge a fee. You can always get a website set up by someone who is technologically savvy, or use one of the many services available.

Then there's affiliate marketing. Wonderful way of making money online. For this, you don't even need to have products. You just borrow other people's products, market it for them, and get paid commissions if the products are sold. Add this on to websites that get created for you, and you barely need to do much work yourself. I've found that you can even pay people to write articles for you to promote the products ! Some places that offer affiliate marketing I've found are clickbank, amazon and the rich dad company.

If all this sounds too complicated, there are the old easy ways of making money online. Enterprising people have put together lists of companies who are happy to pay people to answer surveys online. For a small fee, these companies are able to get surveys to find answers to how their customers feel, what they want and what products they like. They don't have to hire people to do it for them anymore. At a click of a button, they can send the surveys out to many who have registered with them to answer surveys. In the past, someone would have to call each person up and speak to them. As for those answering the surveys, it is really easy money. For a few minutes of their time, at their own leisure, they just click a few answers and the money comes in ! Wonderful concept.

Just a side comment. Trading in stocks and their derivatives have been around for a long time. All this has become so much easier with the internet. Traders no longer need to call up their brokers frantically trying to buy or sell their stocks. That's another way to make money online.

And finally, this one took me by surprise when I first read of it in the newspapers. People are now selling virtual products online. There are many online games, some where players from all over the world meet in the virtual world. Some games involve creating characters with particular powers, or with particular weapons that can be used against other players. The article mentioned that some people were actually paying others real money for virtual weapons !

There are so many ways of making money online. Money is being created everyday this way. And all it takes is a lot of imagination , eyes to see where the money is and a little technical know-how.

Website Designers Helps to Create the Perfect Website for Your Company!

In the current scenario, where everyone uses the Internet to find out about the latest information on restaurants, travels, movies, different products and services, having a company website is the most vital ingredient for the success of your company. If someone wishes to purchase the product sold by your company or the services offered by your company they immediately check out your company's website to get the latest information before calling up the customer service department. And if you don't have a website or your company does have a website but it is not properly updated and maintained, can you imagine the impression it creates on the buyer. Hence it is essential to seek the services of a website designer who will be able to help you in your predicament.

• Designing the site: A Website designer uses Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator in order to create the design of the site. These two programmes help them to toy around with different ideas and concepts before anything is finalized. It also helps the designers to chang4e the colour and layout of the designs. Once a particular design is approved they will cut the layouts created and use them in the different web pages.

• The process: The first step in opting for website design usually involves the client meeting, where the Website designer meets the client to discuss their needs and requirements. This meeting basically deals with understanding the client's business, what are the products or services offered followed by their client base along with the company future plans. Once the designer has a clear idea of this they will be able to give the following checklist:

1. Budget
2. Timescale
3. Competitors
4. Typical customer
5. Main aims of the website
6. Design ideas

It is always better to have a clear understanding of the client's requirements. There is no point in rushing into things. Without a proper understanding the designer will not be able to create a good website. If it requires go for two-three sittings with the client and then start creating the website. Website Design, by nature is a bit complex. It is not possible for everyone to do it. Once all the doubts and queries are clear the designer can start creating the site. And it is always wise to take minimum 30 to 50% of the fee before one begins to work. And once the designing is complete it is necessary to carry out the following steps before the site goes live. These steps normally include the following:

• Signing up for Google analytics
• XHTML and CSS validated
• Unique page titles on every page
• Test all links
• Test forms

Is Resume Writing Really That Important?

The reason why so many people are willing to invest a significant amount of time, energy and money into creating a résumé is because it is the one area of job hunting that is controlled by them. Psychologists will tell you that an innate fear of failure causes people to take what seems like forever to create their résumés. They fear rejection via a face-to-face interview which is why they spend so long crafting the 'perfect' résumé rather than calling a prospective employer on the phone for example. Hardly anyone ever gets hired via a résumé alone and must also face an interview. You should know that according to recruiters, 40% of a hiring decision is based entirely on the individual's personality. Therefore, your résumé is only the beginning of the job seeking journey so stop taking so long creating it!

What To Include In Your Résumé
Keep it under 2 A4 pages because most résumés are scanned in a matter of seconds. The content should be easy to read and relatively free of jargon. Why? Because the person reading your résumé will probably be from the company's HR department and may have no clue about technical issues related to your industry. Stay traditional in terms of font with Times New Roman 10-12 font size and black type against white paper. A simple Word Document format is sufficient and your employment and education histories should be written in reverse chronological format.

Believe it or not, including personal information is what could keep you from being hired. For example, if the job you're looking for involves lots of travel and you are married with young children, the company may decide against interviewing you. Avoid fancy phrases and use words that refer to titles such as controller, manager and customer service. Above all, tell a story in your résumé as much as space allows. For example, explain that you completed a project 20% under budget or else you were responsible for initiatives that yielded a 14% increase in company profit.

Courage & Initiative
Initiative is not just something that should be showcased on a résumé; it should be in everything you do related to job hunting. Approximately 60% of jobs are found through networking so instead of hoping that your résumé will be spotted online by a recruiter, start picking up the phone and talking to everyone you have worked with that may have connections. Leave no stone unturned in your bid to become known and to find important information about people and companies that are hiring.

In the end, it is courage that will land you a job as much as your experience and qualifications. You could be the most talented person in your field but if no one knows you exist, how can you expect to get called for an interview? Everyone can send out a résumé but ultimately, it is interviews that get you a job. It is important for you to accept the risk of being rejected and to keep trying again and again until you succeed. While you should absolutely take some time to create an excellent, professional résumé, don't spend weeks and months on it because it is just one step in a very long journey.

Jerry Maguire, Show Me the Money! Benefits of Obtaining a Sports Management Degree

Besides the more mundane functions, such as arranging coaching and training times and venues, uniforms, travel, and budget development and accounting, an "executive sports manager" is responsible for the drafting and signing of new players and player trades.

Executive sports management are mostly behind-the-scenes professions. Public awareness of the close relationship between the agent, the player, and the team's executive management was raised by the movie "Jerry Maguire", where the NFL player played by Cuba Gooding Jr. demands, in the enduring quote from the movie, that his agent "Show me the money!"

A team's executive sports manager works directly with the player's agent and the team's GM, negotiating salary and length of contract. An academic track to an executive level position with a professional team requires a Master's or other advanced sports management online degree. Curriculum first focuses general MBA-level coursework in business, law, human resources, and economics. Subsequent executive sports management degree coursework includes sports-specific media, PR, communications, and marketing, including fan club development and management, as well as training on software used in collegiate settings and in the MLB, NFL, NBA, MLS, and NHL, talent scouting and sports agency, human resources, NCAA academics and compliance law, and game day and ticket operations.

A majority of executive managers entering their job through a non-academic track were successful players and/or coaches, making a natural transition from player or coach to executive sports management. The aspiring executive sports management degree seeking student will also benefit from experience that demonstrates ability to take a team to victory. Experience as a successful player or coach is essentially a prerequisite for both the non-academic and academic tracks to a career as an executive manager.

Event managers work with professional major league and minor league sports, as well as intercollegiate, and organized regional, local, and corporate amateur sports. Destination and tourism associations, including Convention and Visitor Bureaus, increasingly employ sport event managers to help them capitalize on the potential for attracting and growing sporting events in their city or region.

Event management students learn how to produce sporting events, including recruiting, organizing, and motivate volunteers, and finding appropriate sponsors for the event, using a variety of public relations strategies and campaign models. Coursework and practicum are designed to help sports management students master the skills necessary to ethically and effectively market a sporting event to sponsors, attendees, and competitors.

Some sports management degree graduates enter the event management field in a sales position. A small organization may employ a new management degree graduate as their corporate sales director. A large organization may employ an event manager as director of ticketing and finance or as corporate or campus event manager.

A Sport Management degree graduate entering a career as an event manager will have job responsibilities that vary by type sport and type of organization, and, of course, the level of management. But the focus will always be on the business aspect of the sport, including event sponsorship, promotion, media relations, and broadcasting, as well as ticketing and accounting. A typical sport event manager's workweek is 50 - 60 hours, including some night and weekend hours.

The Joys Of Flying!

Most people living in the U.S. fly in airplanes to get to places of major distances. That is completely different than in most industrial countries. Train travel is the norm throughout Europe, Japan and even less-developed countries. High-speed trains that have great luxury are available in the industrial countries. I've heard that Japan is even trying to adopt the American technology of magnetically levitated trains (Maglev). These trains float over the rails, propelled by a linear induction motor.

Today, air travelers must arrive at airports hours early, just to get through security to get physically checked and baggage x-rayed. Security checks require individuals to almost undress in order to get scanned. There are recently established limitations on the quantity of liquids security allows to be transported in carry-on luggage. Airports are usually a long drive from residential areas. They must be in low-density population locations because of noise restrictions. New airports must be built, but these airports will be even further outside the cities. Today it has become commonplace to find airplanes late or baggage lost. All seats are usually sold. Cartoonists frequently show standard-fare passengers sitting as packed cattle. It is not unusual for planes to sit on the tarmac waiting to take off in a long lime of other airplanes or having landed and waiting for an arrival gate to open. Then there is another long wait for the airplane door to open and to exit when there is room to depart down the center aisle.

The assumption is that air traffic in our country will increase greatly during the next decades. Airports today already have difficulties with the traffic that currently exists. Weather problems near a hub city often cause all air traffic to be delayed. Waiting time can grow from minutes to hours. Passenger movement within airplanes also has its difficulties and limitations, especially on long flights.

Why is travel by train so unpopular in America? Before the mid-twentieth century, traveling on American trains was equal to, if not better than the best train travel in the world. Trains with sleeping accommodations, i.e. Pullman Cars, were used to get across the country. Today, express, regular-speed trains between New York City and Washington are equal in travel time for business travelers who ride trains instead of flying. These train travelers need not travel out to an airport and wait through security and take off in late planes. The current trouble with train travel is the terribly poor conditions of trains along with the poor food service. Traveling by train is just a little better than traveling by airplane.

Train travel would be successful if the U.S. government or a private transportation company invested in high-speed trains between Boston and Washington, with stops only in New York and maybe Philadelphia. Total travel time would be significantly cut and scheduled on-time travel assured. Business people could eat and talk in comfort if dining cars were once again installed. High-speed trains between Los Angeles and San Francisco would also be successful.

Think about how many flights would be eliminated, including the reduction of pollution that air traffic emits. What a savings in time there would be for other non-business travelers at Logan, Kennedy/LaGuardia and Regan airports. It would be only a short walk for most business people in New York and Washington.

Why doesn't this transition from air to train travel happen in the United Sates? The explanation is simple. Air travel had such a huge lobby to make people switch from trains to planes. Aircraft companies added to the lobby. But with air travel conditions rapidly deteriorating, the switch to train travel has to occur. What adds to train travel convenience is that hotels are still close to the train stations.

Chablais - Porte Du Soleil Ski Resort

The Chablais Alps is the western portion of the Alps near Lake Geneva in Switzerland zigzags to the Mont Blanc pinnacle. The Col des Montets keeps them from reaching Mont Blanc proper, however. There are several large mountains in the area too. The tallest is Dents du Midi (Mountain Teeth) at 3257 meters, with others like Mont Ruan at 3053 meters and Dents Blanches at 2759 meters. Chablais, Les Portes du Soleil, then, is a sizable quarter of the Chablais Alps housing some thirteen resorts between Mont Blanc in France and Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

Each of the communes offers up their own culture and history, with walking tours, tourist's offices and true Swiss culture everywhere. It could take days to tour and learn something new about each one. The highest commune, by example, is Avoriaz. This modern area built in the mid-1960s used a lot of materials such as wood and stone from the area, rendering it both attractive and eco-friendlier before the word existed. The other bonus is Avoriaz is pedestrian-friendly with a no car policy. If you're looking for the most snow in this area, you'll neither get any better snow nor any higher altitude than here.

Other resorty towns in the area include Morzine at 1000 meters. There's a traditional market and chalets near the river gorge giving pristine views. Beginners, you'll find the best skiing here making it one of the best bases for families. Plus, Morzine is bull's eye center in one of the best regions of the Porte du Soleil for getting around. Not to be confused with Morzine, Morgins is not as crowded as the French side of the ski area. Here, there are also some really nice cozy chalets for families wanting to escape the noise and throngs in higher Chablais Porte du Soleil ski resorts. You'll find plenty of other resorts with their own ambiance. Champery, Val D'Illiez and Torgon are just a few Swiss resorts that have a different mood you might be looking for.

You'll not only find contrasts in the resort towns but in the activities extended by each. You'll almost always get a heartfelt welcome-it seems the farther you traveled, the more balmy the welcome. There are more cultural and historical sites to behold here than any other ski resorts in the area, on either side of the border. There are four ways to get here. You can here in less than an hour from the Geneva airport. You can come from anywhere in Europe by car, by train or even by boat (given that you are on waterways and Lake Geneva).

It's hard to hold back from a visit when the ski region is so expansive: 14 valleys, 645 square kilometers, 650 of marked ski runs and nearly 230 lifts can keep hundreds of thousands of tourists in good spirits for their entire ski vacation. Though the highest ski lift only takes you up to 2466 meters, the snow cannons jet fresh powder on the runs ensuring great all-day skiing. Different slopes face different ways, with nearly each one offering something for every skill level. If you're whole family wants to go to Chatel, for example, and find over three main ski areas to choose from-one for Mom, Dad and Child.

In the region of Chablais in the Porte du Soleil, you'll find the highest lift taking you upwards of 2400 meters to below 1000 meters above sea level. There are over 80 chairlifts and four cable lifts. The 14 gondolas, however, take care of the larger groups in no time at all. If you know your level, you'll be able to find your marked path. The area was initially developed with beginners in mind, so there are 112 blue runs at hand. With the growth and integration of the ski areas, there are now 146 green runs, quite a few more than beginner runs to date. Additionally, there are 23 red runs and six black runs.

If skiing on your entire vacation has got your legs shaking, then you can try a plethora of other outdoor and indoor activities. In addition to snowboarding, you can snowshoe and hike through the area. There are alpine races, leisure parks and museums and cultural affairs nearly every day of the high ski season. Moreover, the restaurants and bars and après ski options never go dim. You can find something to do anytime you get a hankering to have a great time. And, if you're in photography, don't forget you're in the Rhone Valley, one of the world's best spots for alpine peaks and landscape photography. The Chablais region of Porte du Soleil is second to none for a skiing vacation. Once you arrive, you and your family will have the best times of your lives.

International Impacts on a Business Plan

International business plans require additional study compared to domestic ones. These require additional expense and time to resolve. Here we will discuss four critical ones for a business plan.

First, we must decide on the business structure. Countries have favorite structures that evolve slowly. When considering international companies, different structures might be required. Typically, the type of business structure must be discussed with a business consultant in the country itself. This will most often be a lawyer from that country. It's possible that a lawyer in your home country would know the laws of another, but it's not very common. This information is critical for the correct filing of papers, company organization and other important details. As we are deciding which structure to use for a foreign country, the decision on how to control it is also important. Will the foreign company be a stand-alone? Will it be a subsidiary of another company? These questions can only be answered after much consultation. The research answers will heavily influence the resulting business plan and the resulting company.

Next, we must evaluate the government and legal environment in our home country and the new country. Our business plan must account for and demonstrate an understanding of challenges. It is common for countries to place severe restrictions on how foreign companies are organized, operated and owned. Some require a resident citizen to be involved in a company, while others require varying amounts of capital and social spending to operate. Too, the tax structure of the country may place restrictions on how capital flows into and out of the company and country. Also, taxes must be levied, collected and remitted according to laws of all the countries involved.

Some countries allow capital to flow in freely but don't allow capital to flow out. Another concern is the stability and freedom that the country enjoys. Many countries have whimsical or tyrannical dictators that change policy at their leisure. This can create an atmosphere where investment is encouraged and then after all the hard work is done, they nationalize or repatriate the company. This is very common place in third world countries and should be factored into any decision for the business plan. Too, there are many other financial facets in operating internationally, such as: currency valuation and devaluation; import and export taxes; inflation and deflation; and world economic changes.

Third, we have the movement of funds. Earlier we touched on it in relation to putting capital into the company or moving it out. All countries have laws related to the movement of funds. Most also track fund movements and force financial institutions to collect and supply information concerning funds moving across international borders. Some of this has happened because of the fight against world terror, but most as evolved over time with the terror struggle being an excuse to collect information. These laws may restrict the amount, form and the timeliness of funds transfers. It is proper to discuss fund acquisition in the business plan; but for an international company, fund transfers and currency concerns must also be covered items.

Finally, extended control of an alien company must be determined and discussed in the business plan. It costs time, money and other resources to control a company far from the normal environment. People must often travel there to evaluate and monitor progress. Personnel must do accounting and reporting within the guidelines of the country where the business is located. This control and monitoring function is daunting for international companies because it brings together differing ideals, cultures, laws and experiences plus often there is a language barrier to be traversed. This leads to a challenging business environment. It's not one that is impossible, but it is one to be scrutinized and considered carefully during the business plan development and feasibility reviews.

The Stress-Hope Teeter Totter

Why do you want to annihilate stress? The best reason for annihilating stress is because when you are in a stressful situation, you lose hope. You lose focus on your goals. If you are a business professional responsible for bringing in new business, you may feel you want to give up.

Stress and hope sit at opposite ends of a teeter totter.

Do you remember when you where a small child playing on a playground at school. Many schools provided equipment for exercise. One of these pieces of equipment was a teeter totter. A teeter totter or seesaw as it is known in some places is simply a board balancing on a fulcrum with a place to sit at each end.

Two children sit on a teeter totter with the heaviest child sitting first in order for the lighter child to take a seat on the other end to balance out the load. They alternatively shift their weight to cause their seat on the teeter totter to go up and down.

Stress and hope work the same way as the two children conducting the balancing act on the teeter totter. Stress or fear as it is more accurately defined, and hope, or goals as it is more accurately portrayed, sit at opposite ends of the teeter totter.

As one end goes up the other end goes down. As stress increases its end goes higher in the air and hope goes down. As hope climbs higher in the air, stress goes down. Stress and fear are always opposing hope and goals.

It seems accurate that we need to annihilate stress and fear in order to elevate our hope and our goals.

I remember the movie the "Shawshank Redemption" where the wrongly imprisoned character, Andy, told the other inmates that hope was something no one could take away from you. He said "hope is a good thing, maybe the only thing."

We begin our lives here on earth, knowing that we could die or be incapacitated at any moment. This is why stress or fear is always near the surface of our thoughts. The major thing that keeps us going is "hope;" hope for good health, hope for enjoyable relationships, hope for positive achievements and hope for enough money to pay for all of our desires.

To the degree that we can diminish stress and fear, we can elevate our goals and elevate hope. Is it difficult to keep hope alive while eliminating stress and fear? Yes it is difficult.

Fear is always appealing to our senses. Advertisers for example focus on our fears.

I remember an automobile commercial that started out by two guys arguing in the car and then an accident ensued. The two men were okay but shaken up visibly by the accident. Anyone watching the commercial can identify with the fear and stress associated with the accident.

Television newscasts focus on several fearful, stress causing events before they get to the sports news, business news or weather. Viewers become hooked on these stressful situations as they arrive home from work and while watching television.

Through all of our entertainment options we observe stress and fear. Words to incite fear are abundant in our spectator sports.

Think about the words and phrases you hear by sports commentators. Think about words and phrases like, "sudden death," "elimination round," "Yankees murder Red Sox," "Spurs defeat Suns."

The overwhelming majority of sports fans are affected by these terms because they are supporting "losing teams." There is usually only one world champion in any given sport, meaning all of the rest of the sports fans "feel stress and the agony of defeat." We experience the other end of the teeter totter as we lose hope.

Do you think we may carry some of this loss of hope into our jobs and our personal lives?

We are so used to being motivated by fear and stress that even our leisure time activities reflect it. Isn't that a shame?

Always remember these statements: "When we are playing on the teeter totter, stress is at one end and hope is at the other end." "We need to develop a quiet confidence to move our minds and bodies in the direction of hope."

What is your ultimate goal? Where do you want to be in five years? If you could time travel to a place in your life five years from now and look back at today, what would you tell yourself about today. How important are the stressful situations you face right now in your life? Would today even be that important in your overall success? Five years into the future, would you still be thinking about your favorite sports teams' loss of five years ago, or the price of gasoline?

Think about what life will be like five years into the future. Think about your victories, your goals and your hope.

The Teeter Totter Exercise:

Take three slow deep breaths. As you inhale slowly, breathe deeply from the bottom of your lungs. Before you exhale, hold your breath for a few moments and then exhale very slowly. Push all of the tension out of your lungs.

See yourself on the teeter totter flying higher in the air. Think about hope. Think about your specific goals and feel in your mind, your heart and your body that you have already achieved your goals.


Stress and hope are constantly competing on your teeter totter of life. Stress always equals fear and hope always equals your goals. Use the teeter totter exercise daily and you will take a huge step to annihilate stress and propagate hope.

How to Build Buzz for Your Book (The 1 Thing Most Authors Ignore)

Who else is thinking about writing a book? Maybe you've been swept up in the Amazon publishing craze, but simply have no idea how to promote your book when you're finished?

Or, maybe you've gotten familiar with all of the special tools, tips and techniques Amazon offers to self published authors, but your intuition tells you it's NOT going to be enough to make real money? (your intuition is right)!

The truth is, the EASIEST way to build buzz for your book launch is super simple, and can be summed up pretty nicely in one word.

Leverage. (but not the way everyone else is doing it)

The key is, and of course, this ONLY applies if you're trying to make money from your self publishing efforts, you have to be able to turn your readers into evangelists for your book, brand, blog and business.

Everyone knows that Facebook and Twitter are a great tool for authors, but in my own experience, most folks are using them completely wrong.

After all...

If you peek at all of the "publishers" Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and content communities that have sprung up over the last few years, you would THINK all authors are getting rich, right?

I mean, if your goal is to get a few thousand people to download your book on it's "free days," it's not tough.

But, if your goal is to develop a genuine following of fans, friends, and followers who help build UP your book and spread the word, you need a better system.

Here is the ONE thing I'd love to see you try instead of the conventional path that ALL "hobby" publishers who are eeking by are using.

You need to turn STRANGERS into subscribers first.

And once they subscribe, you empower them with the TOOLS they need to help you spread the word.

And once they're subscribers... You'll be amazed at how many of those people turn out to be book buyers to boot.

The process flow looks like this:

You set up a content marketing campaign for your book launch. (or re-launch if it's already out there... OR, as part of an evergreen and "always on" launch process)

This content is ideally articles (like this one for example), press releases, an occasional guest post, or if you have the budget a pay per click campaign.

You drive all of your traffic to a launch blog that offers a teaser to folks who sign up to get it. (it could be a free chapter, it could be a discussion community, it could be an interview with you, it could be a virtual launch party... it's totally up to you and your comfort)

This is the CRITICAL part-

Once people sign up, you incentivize them for spreading the word. How? You give them an automatic tracking link that they can use to share your book in the online social circles in which they travel.

This can be done with a totally free script... is easy to implement and TRACK (very important for your audience to track their traffic) and each and every time someone signs up for your book launch blog, they are EMPOWERED to evangelize your book for some sort of psychic, or tangible gain. (in other words - you either offer something of real value, or perceived value, depending on what kind of book you are writing,and how well known you are)

It's very easy. And even if you only have 10 or 12 people a day signing up for your list... If only 1 or 2 people shares their link, and some fraction of THOSE people shares that very same link... before too long, you can have real momentum start to build.

(and it continues to grow levels and layers deep)

Very easy to implement, has been very successful in generating huge followings in many conventional online markets, and it amazes me how few authors are doing it NOW. (hopefully if the above makes sense, the one who DOES will be you)!

Introduction to Handbags

Looking for wholesale handbags? You'll be glad to know that there are many dealers, manufacturers and warehouses that offer them. These goods come from India, China, Italy, France, the Philippines and Thailand, to name just a few countries. And now you can do the shopping from the privacy of your own home, on the Internet. But before doing so, there are a few things about handbags you might want to know. Let's see:

Before purchasing handbags, the buyers should consider their purpose. Based on this, handbags can be differentiated in shopping, promotional, fashion, sport and travel bags, laptop carriers, luxury bags and the list doesn't end here. You certainly wouldn't want to buy a fashion handbag and then use it to go to the gym. So think ahead and decide what are you going to use it for. Today it's extremely easy to find a bag that is versatile and trendy at the same time, and whatever the purpose or function, it is possible to locate a bag that could fit the specific needs of the user.

Handbags can be classified into several main types, based on the function, materials used and by the user gender. They come in a multitude of colors, designs and sizes, meant to satisfy every taste and exigence. The materials that are used to create handbags can range from paper, wicker, straw, silk, fabric, jute, ramie, leatherette, suede, PVC and all the way to nylon. Aside from these materials, more and more inventive materials are also being utilized. The most appreciated bag colors are typically the basic ones. Monotone bags or those made from a combination of standard colors are the fastest to get sold. Yellow, blue, crimson, apricot, and mint seems to garner a special attention and generate more passion in the current trend. But you never know what next spring might bring.

Based on the consumer, are three categories that stand out: men's, women's and kids' handbags. Sure, you might say that most of the handbag outlets cater to women shoppers but make no mistake, there are also bags designed for men and kids. Some men prefer to have their odds and ends carried in a bag instead of filling up their pockets, even though sports bags and laptop carriers are the most popular types of bags that males carry.

Eager to go shopping but don't know how much money you should be spending? The price range of bags can vary from a couple of dollars for a simple garment or duffel bag to several hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on the design and brand. If you have a fixed budget, you might want to take a look at the products available in your range, and the choose what's more appealing. If you can afford to spend big, there are many designer brands especially produced to give you that exquisite look for the money you are spending.

Could Your Company Benefit From Corporate Coaching?

Many businesses around the globe are turning to corporate coaches to enhance the nature of their organization, their employee relations, their digital know-how, and even their strategic planning. Corporate coaches are trained to expertly assess the disposition and productivity of a company and to help it achieve specific goals. Often, companies facing either stagnation or transition find that corporate coaching offers many benefits for their executive staff or company as a whole.

When choosing a corporate coaching firm, businesses should search for coaching solutions that allow for customizable platforms that can be tailored to exactly suit their needs. The following instances showcase how corporate coaching can improve single or multiple aspects of either traditional or online businesses, or small-scale or even global organizations.

Employee Relations

Corporate coaches often specialize in team-building and the internal dynamics of employee relationships. How well do the members of your company work together? Are they satisfied in their professional roles and how could their relationships with each other transform the productivity of the company? Coaches help company leaders answer these questions and improve upon the relationships already in place to achieve a more personable climate that ultimately benefits the overall company.

Executive Retreats

Many corporate coaches prefer to take executives or groups of employees out of their element-out of the workspace-and lead them through various sessions designed to promote creativity, collaboration, or some other important criteria that will benefit their role. This may be an outdoor excursion involving physical challenges or a more cerebral experience that is designed around a specific project. The end result of the experience is to broaden thought patterns and inspire positive ambitions. These experiences may also enhance leadership roles and lead to more innovative approaches to management.


Coaching frequently includes communication as an important topic to cover for any company. They can effectively teach employers how to assess the level of communication occurring in their company and how to improve it. For large companies, poor communication is a serious issue. For global companies, communication can make or break a company, a campaign, a special event, etc... Today's savvy corporate coaches can also help marketers employ better practices for communicating with clients online over social networks or other digital platforms.

Productivity Analysis

Productivity can usually be enhanced and if CEOs could improve productivity levels on their own, they certainly would. Adept coaches analyze a company's productivity department by department. Their analysis could lead to immense improvements in the way employees work in tandem and individually.

Cost Reduction

Just as productivity can influence a company's bottom line, cost reduction in various company areas can also lead to more profitable quarters and result in considerable savings over a long period of time. Corporate coaches have experience in this area and have learned where to look to assess a company's needs for cost reduction. They may assess travel expenses, energy costs, or the IT department, but if there is feasible way to positively cut expenses, they will share their findings with the company's leaders.

Organizational Audits

The corporate or company structures of any organization may often benefit from an outsider's perspective. While self-assessments regarding structure often prove difficult for companies, consultants have strengths in this area. Moreover, they have the experience of working with many other companies and their findings may substantially benefit other organizations. Significantly, businesses that aren't afraid to address issues at the structural level typically demonstrate the forward thinking that is necessary to advance in their industry.

Strategic Planning

Without a solid commitment to strategic and long-term planning, companies risk stagnation or worse. Corporate coaches can design a process that nurtures the strategic planning and helps companies complete their plans in a timely fashion. While providing an effective framework, corporate coaches can help executives fill in the blanks that will ultimately evolve into a successful plan.

Sustainability Audits

Some corporate coaching firms now feature sustainability coaches that can help a company better reuse or recycle materials. They can adeptly demonstrate how companies can achieve a more eco-friendly environment for their employees and teach employees ways to promote sustainability in their roles.

Disaster Planning

Like strategic planning, disaster plans are necessary for today's businesses and other types of organizations. In fact, not having one in place can pose a serious liability. To streamline the process for creating this important plan or any other plan, invite a corporate coach to help complete the project.

Companies that choose to work with corporate coaches demonstrate a willingness to learn and change in order to improve the nature of their organization as well as the experience for their employees and clients. In light of the benefits that corporate coaches bring, the cost is negligible, but can generally be incorporated into training or programming budgets. If your organization is struggling or you simply want to do better than "good enough," a corporate coach is a powerful resource that is likely to generate dramatic results.

Amtrak Needs Some Series Rebranding Like Yesterday

As a self-proclaimed branding expert and having founded a franchising company I spent a lot of time strategizing on just how to market products and services. This talent of mine and skills set has served me well because today I run a think tank, and we are always coming up with new inventions, innovations, designs, and concepts. Just because you have the best idea in the world doesn't mean you can market it correctly, that's a whole other problem, but without that component you can't make it work, because you can't sell enough of whatever it is you are producing to make any money to make it into an ongoing venture.

What about branding when it comes to the public sector? For instance what about branding a public library, a government agency, or here's a real tough case study for you; how would you rebrand Amtrak? In many regards Amtrak's brand has fallen off the track, is nothing notable, and they've had several starts and stops trying to rebrand their image. Worse, now we see trains with rail cars with different designs, different paint jobs, and even different logos. When I was traveling from Boston to Washington DC I noticed an Amtrak go by that had three different paint jobs on its cars. That's not going to work at all.

Further, I don't think a lot of people want to see the federal government spend the money it needs to rebrand their commuter train program. First of all, Amtrak is losing money, and although it is a pet project of left-leaning politicians, it has always come under attack for its cost overruns, inefficiencies, and ever-increasing budget demands by the political opposition. Not to mention the workers rather like the idea of having their own union, and the legacy costs are now adding to the operational expenses to the point where Amtrak will never make money in the future.

Therefore, one could ask how do you rebrand a dog, no, not an animal, something that has become a bureaucratic blob of inefficiency, almost the poster child for inefficient agencies? That's not going to be easy, but without a good rebranding strategy they are not going to attract enough users and riders to help it pay for itself, and if they continually keep increasing the price of the fares there will be a point at which folks will decide to partake in those transportation services. In fact it's already happening. Should Amtrak cut its losses and shut itself down, or sell it to a private investment bank or business so they instead can run it?

Indeed if they did, I bet the first thing that the private sector would do with that railway is to rebrand it. Maybe we can get Warren Buffett interested, he seems to like railroads, businesses with no competition, and anything that might garner public subsidies or government favoritism. He likes businesses with moats around them. Please consider all this and think on it.

Take A Vacation To A Great Destination

All of us need a vacation from time to time. There will definitely be a point of time in life when you feel that you have earned a vacation. This is certainly understandable, considering all the work and family pressures that are always present. NO matter what capacity you work in, there will certainly be indignant superiors to placate and subordinates to keep in control. Even CEOs find that there are a lot of clients who want difficult deadlines to be met, and so on. There are always pressures at work, and these can all be forgotten with a good vacation.

The trouble with a vacation is that you need to be able to find some place that is far enough away to really feel like it is a good holiday. Also, the travel and accommodation expenses need to fall within your budget. And even if you do decide upon a good destination and then are ready to go, there is always the trouble of finding out what exactly the right places to visit are, where the good food is, where the real sight seeing locations are and so on. This is something that all people feel, no matter what sort of vacation they are planning.

These days, however, that need no longer be a worry because there are a lot of companies that are out-and-out holiday planners. They will have a number of package, some of which will surely fit comfortably within your budget. Of all the places to go, China would be a great idea.

One reason is that culturally China has a rich heritage, and also has a number of great locations for sight seeing. There are great rivers like the Yangtze that afford beautiful picturesque experiences, as well as amazing monuments like the Great Wall that will give you a brief idea of how rich the history of China is.

Apart from monuments, there are a variety of temples and shrines that can be visited in order of size and importance. The planning companies will provide a complete itinerary of exactly what is happening, and you can decide which schedules suit your tastes and temperament best.

To take one example, consider a twelve day trip to China. Leaving two days out for travel, the first stop is at Beijing, the capital city. There will be a tour guide from the company at the arrivals hall itself, waiting to escort you to the hotel. The following day there is an exploration of the world famous Tienanmen Square, or the "Gates of Heavenly Palace', and the Forbidden City.

The next day there is a visit to the Great Wall, four thousand miles of sweeping defiant Chinese imperial architecture. Then the other highlights are a visit to the Temple of Heaven, which is a massive complex that was built for the congregation of kings for their annual prayers.

There is a visit to Xian, where you will get a chance to explore the now famous terracotta houses, looking through the underground pits. These days there are provisions to get your photograph taken and printed out there itself.

These are just a few of the attractions that China holds, and there are a number of different packages to suit all types of people.

The Five Best Classic Summer Movies

As summer approaches, moviegoers' thoughts wander to up-and-coming blockbusters, action movies with big-name stars and even bigger explosions, and high-budget animated family fare. In all the splashy excitement and heavy advertising, however, it can sometimes be easy to overlook classic films in a related yet different genre: movies that celebrate the summer season itself.

During the summer, the sun is still out even after an hour when many kids would have to go to bed during the school year. Sleepovers, late-night dates, and travel become more the norm than the exception. Summer has a kind of anarchy to it; rules that apply throughout the rest of the year are suspended, and anything can happen. Great summer movies reflect that freedom from the rules-along with the excitement, the romance, the horror, or the absurdity it can cause.

"American Graffiti" (1973)

Summer takes on different meanings as people age. For kids, it's a break from school; for teenagers, it might include dates and part-time jobs; and for adults, it's often just the same old same old. Few things bring that as starkly to light as teenagers' last summer before graduating from high school-often the last chance they'll have to enjoy everything life has to offer without being burdened by responsibility. The George Lucas classic "American Graffiti" takes that concept a step farther, focusing on the final night of one group of teens' last childhood summer.

Steve (Ron Howard) and Laurie (Cindy Williams) break up and get back together. Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) meets a mysterious blonde who may or may not have a seedy past and goes to great lengths to pursue her. Toad (Charles Martin Smith) and John (Paul Le Mat) go cruising, and John later races Bob (Harrison Ford) and Laurie (Cindy Williams), who barely walk away after Bob flips his car.

Romance, fast cars, minor mysteries, rock-and roll music, and brushes with death-anything can happen on the last day of summer, and in "American Graffiti," it does.

"Dirty Dancing" (1987)

Sheltered, wealthy Baby (Jennifer Grey) spends her summer vacation in the Catskills with her physician father (Jerry Orbach). Hard-bodied dance instructor Johnny (Patrick Swayze) quickly captures Baby's attention, and she develops a crush that only grows after she's invited to a clandestine after-hours staff dance party, where Johnny teaches her some of the finer points of the mambo.

After a serious of unpleasant events, Baby's father forbids her from seeing Johnny. Discovering her own independence for the first time, Baby sneaks around with Johnny anyway and only reveals their relationship when Johnny is falsely accused of theft.

"Dirty Dancing" combines one part coming of age, one part summer camp, one part dance, and one part romance. These elements are underscored with a sweeping soundtrack and garnished with a dollop of high drama to make "Dirty Dancing" a classic summer story.

"Stand by Me" (1986)

Gordie (Wil Wheaton), Chris (River Phoenix), Teddy (Corey Feldman), and Vern (Jerry O'Connell) are four misfit young friends. After Vern overhears his brother discussing a body he found while he was disposing of a stolen car, he convinces his buddies they should go searching for it. The body is that of a high-profile missing child, and the boys are sure that if they locate it, they'll be rewarded with fame.

"Stand by Me" has a simple and straightforward plot, but it's an adventure kids could only take over the summer, when they're free to explore, camp out, and disappear for a weekend. The friends bond over the journey, and this moment in time becomes pivotal in their understanding of each other-and of themselves. It's a coming-of-age story largely centered on character development, but it calls to mind those young teenage moments of self discovery that only seem to occur on summer adventures with friends.

"Caddyshack" (1980)

When Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase team up, plot becomes almost irrelevant. "Caddyshack" has been widely hailed as one of the funniest movies of all time, and it's also a great example of lighthearted, uproarious summer fun.

Danny (Michael O'Keefe) is working at the country club, often caddying for golfing sensation Ty Webb (Chase). Danny ends up involved in a feud between the club's cofounder, Judge Smails (Ted Knight), and wealthy jerk Al Czervik (Dangerfield). Meanwhile, bumbling assistant groundskeeper Carl (Murray) has been tasked with the surprisingly difficult job of eliminating a pesky gopher.

Carl eventually resorts to the nuclear option to deal with the gopher. Danny puts his job and a scholarship on the line to golf for Czervik in his duel with Smails. Naturally, these events coincide, leading to hilarious hijinks. "Caddyshack" requires suspension of disbelief and a strong sense of humor, and it's perfect summertime popcorn fare.

"Vacation" (1983)

The first entry in National Lampoon's "Vacation" series sees the Griswold family embarking on a cross-country road trip to visit Walley World. Clark ( Chevy Chase ) attempts to trade in the family car for a sporty new wagon, but at the dealership, he winds up with an unappealing vehicle: "The Family Truckster."

His wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) and kids, Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) and Audrey (Dana Barron), are less than enthused about hitting the road in the Truckster, but Clark talks them around. What follows is a road trip of epic comedy and abject failure-from getting stranded in the desert to the unexpected on-the-road death of Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca), everything that can go wrong does. Unflinchingly hilarious, the movie includes something for everyone who's ever taken a summer family vacation, and it serves as a cautionary tale for those who haven't.

Relationship Advice - Tips to Help a Long-Distance Relationship Work

Few types of relationships are more challenging than the long-distance sort. For many reasons, some couples end up in a long-distance relationship, either on purpose or by accident. Sometimes, the people meet each other and live hundreds or thousands of miles apart, but they still manage to fall in love. Other times, people are married or dating and end up having to live in separate states due to a job transfer or other life change. No matter what the reason, having so many miles between you and the one you love can be very difficult to maintain over the long haul.

Many long-distance relationships end because the partners just can't continue living so separately. Many couples who undergo a major job transfer where one spouse doesn't move, end up in divorce court before the relationship is really over with.

It becomes very easy to live the single lifestyle when your partner just isn't there for weeks or months on end. It can be very hard to readjust when they come into town because you are so used to doing so much alone. In addition, the question of fidelity seems to always be lingering when partners don't live in the same physical area. The fact of the matter is, it's really easy to cheat when your spouse or dating partner lives in a completely different state.

One way to make a long-distance relationship easier is to come up with a set series of ground rules. In other words, how often will you talk, how open will you be about your schedule and will you be dating or seeing other people? This is going to be a question in your mind no matter what you do, so it makes sense to just go ahead and lay it out there so that you can have a conversation about it.

Another way to make the miles seem less distant is to use technology such as Skype, video chats and texting. Being able to talk in real-time while seeing your partner's face on the screen can at least make it seem like they aren't that far away.

The most important part of making a long-distance relationship work is to see each other as often as possible. That might mean cutting your budget down so you have extra spending money to travel. If you can't see each other often, it is very likely the relationship will not work out over the long-term.

10 Local Ways to Save Pounds

There are lots of ways to save money. Keep it simple, and keep it local! By focusing on what's around you in your local community, you could easily make savings on things you do every day. Go online and look up your local community services, and you'll instantly get the support you need.

1. Review your mortgage

The most expensive thing you are ever likely to buy is your home. If you are not in the privileged position to pay cash, make sure the loan you use to finance it is the best available. Why not look for a local independent financial adviser or ask someone to recommend one to help you find the best deal for you? Make sure they deal with all of market though so that you can be sure they are exploring all the possibilities on your behalf rather than just a selection.

2. Cut the cost of your fuel bills

First of all calculate your expenditure, then shop around for a better deal than the one you are receiving from your existing supplier. Secondly, employ some energy saving initiatives such as switching off unused lights, changing to energy saving light bulbs, ensuring your home is insulated and your heating system is serviced regularly to make sure it is working optimally. Use an online local community services directory to find local plumbing and heating specialists and search for retailers of energy saving products.

3. Do some home cooking

Home cooking is often cheaper and healthier than ready meals. Visit your local shops on foot and buy your fresh ingredients.

4. Consider own-brand goods

Support your local shops and buy their own brands, and you could save a few pence on every item you buy . It all adds up, and often you won't notice any difference in quality. Look up your local community business directory online for listings of all local supermarkets and convenience stores.

5. Walk or cycle to work or your local station

Save money on bus or taxi fares and parking fees by walking or cycling. It's healthier, greener and a morning walk can be very refreshing and helps you get to know your local area. You never know, you may see a shop or service you didn't notice before from the car or bus that may be of real use to you.

6. Get off the train one station before your usual stop

Depending on your travel Zones, alighting one station early could save you money every time you buy a ticket, and you get more exercise too! Not to mention the chance to visit your local shops on the way home and save money by buying locally!

7. Give up smoking

This is one thing that could save you hundreds of pounds over the course of a year. Visit for local help, or simply call into any local pharmacy that displays a Give up Smoking poster in their window. You can also look up a list of local pharmacies via your online local community business directory.

8. Use your local library

Instead of buying books, CDs and DVDs that you may well only use once, why not borrow them from your local library? As well as the obvious borrowing element, your local library is a fantastic resource for the whole family, offering a reference section, local information from well-informed librarians, internet access and an array of information on local services. Details of your local library and the services on offer can be found on your local community website.

9. Take up a hobby

If you are occupied with a hobby, then you will spend less time shopping! For ideas on sports and other activities in your local area, check your local community online directory.

10. Use your local shops and services

Save on petrol and parking fees by walking to your local shops! A leisurely stroll to the local shops could save you money and get you some exercise at the same time.

Top Attractions In Western Australia

Western Australia is a popular tourist destination that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from all around the world. There are so many attractions located within Western Australia that it can be a hard task to know what to see and do. The area boasts beautiful natural scenery, incredible reefs that are filled with hundreds of species of marine life as well as famous landmarks and historical buildings. This article takes a look at several of the most popular tourist attractions and destinations in Western Australia.


No visit to Western Australia is complete without a trip to the beautiful city of Perth. Perth is the capital of Western Australia, and it is home to over 1.8 million people. There is so much to see and do that you will have a hard task fitting it all into one trip. Perth has a number of art galleries, including the Gadfly Gallery, Tuner Gallery, Form and the Linton Kay Fine Art Gallery.

Shopaholics will be spoilt for choice as Perth has a number of shopping centres that sell both national and international brands. There are also plenty of boutique and independent shops for people who want something a little different. A great place to pick up some souvenirs of your trip is at the local markets where you can find handmade items, artwork and gifts.

Perth has thousands of dining options to suit all tastes and budgets. From simple cafes that serve up delicious home cooked food, to luxurious five star dining experiences - it really does have it all.

Swan Valley

Swan Valley is an area of natural beauty which is located on the banks of the Swan River in Western Australia. It is most famous for its wine trails and wine tasting experiences. The best way to explore Swan Valley is to hire a rental car, as this will allow you to travel from place to place in your own time. There are also guided tours available. Swan Valley has a thriving arts and crafts scene, and visitors can choose to watch local craftsman as they practice their trade. There are also several workshops and arts and crafts exhibitions held in the area throughout the year. Other attractions in the area include Laser Corps, Cycle tours, Valley Chase, the Academy of Taxidermy and the West Australian Reptile Park.

Ningaloo Reef

Ningaloo reef is an area which is located approximately 1200km north of Perth. It is home to a huge variety of sea life including dolphins, whale sharks, turtles, fish and manta rays. It also has a beautiful and colourful coral reef. The area can be explored by foot, as you can literally walk off of the beach with a mask and snorkel to explore the incredible underwater world. Another way to explore this area is by air. You can hire a private scenic flight or take part in a charter flight which will allow you to view the natural beauty of the area from above. You may also get the opportunity to view the magnificent whale sharks from the sky.

Niagara Day Trip - Girlfriend's Great Idea!

I'm now the biggest fan of Niagara-on-the-Lake ... Who Knew?

With July being the high peek of summer, there is no shortage of things to see and do - all within a cheap, close drive from Toronto. Treat yourself and your partner to that summer vacation without spending a fortune in gas money or taking 3 days to travel to your destination. Once in a while you really just need to get away to something more laid back and quaint - take the opportunity to explore something outside of your metropolis and experience things that are different from your normal way of life.

The Girl suggested we hit up the Niagara region, specifically the tiny village of Niagara-On-The-Lake. This is a part of Southern Ontario known famously for its wineries, antiques, and of course the popular Shaw Festival: a theatrical festival celebrating the works of playwright George Bernard Shaw. At first I was hesitant, hearing largely that the area attracted an older crowd. Regardless, The Girl marched on making preparations for the day in spite of my fears of this generation gap. "It won't matter after going wine tasting," I thought to myself.

It was decided that both of us would take Friday off and start on our little journey to the Niagara Region around 11 AM, life moves at a slower pace down there for the better, so why not start the day off with a relaxing little sleep in! Heading down the Q.E.W. we slowly saw the city fade into suburban bliss, developments dotted alongside the highway turned into bungalows with spacious lawns, and finally rows of grape trees neatly lined up one after the other as far as the eye could see.

Our lineup of activities consisted of grabbing a bite to eat, some wine tasting, and then taking in the matinee performance of "Mrs Warren's Profession". The area itself is pleasing to the eye; large trees and lush lawns engulf the area as you head down winding roads into the main strip of town on Queen Street. It is here where most of the action takes place. Unique gift shops, restaurants, old historic buildings, horse drawn carriages, hotels, and two of the Shaw theatres neatly file down the large street as people leisurely stroll up and down.

After taking a short drive down the main strip, parking and paying a mere dollar for an hours worth of time (a dollar!), we headed into the "Stagecoach Family Restaurant", a bustling diner with fast and courteous service. I ordered a BLT and The Girl opted for a very authentic Greek salad in a place that seemed like it wouldn't serve one. Our meals came and went quickly, the staff gets the throngs of people in and out in a timely fashion (with no push to rush) in order to cater to their consistently full house.

The Niagara region is well known for its numerous vineyards, providing the country and the world with award winning wines. After driving around and scoping out the scene, we settled on Pellar Estates Winery, a sprawling vineyard with a beautiful building which houses the wine tasting and event areas for those special occasions. The place literally transports you to the wine tasting centres of the world like the Nappa Valley, especially when that trip to California isn't exactly in your budget at the moment.

Our sommelier Mike greets us with a warm welcome, something that we've grown accustomed to since arriving in the area - everyone is friendly! Over the next hour he educates us on the different methods of wine tasting, all the while making us feel like he is totally not selling anything. We learn about the proper tasting techniques, how to enjoy your wine, and how the glass makes a difference when tasting. We make sure not to take in too much of the tasting; we still have to go see a play! After some recommendations from Mike, we proceed to the exit - with a couple of bottles for later on at home of course!

Finally we arrive at the last destination of our fun little day trip away from the city, a performance of Bernard Shaw's "Mrs Warren's Profession". One of Shaw's raciest plays (the house programme tells me that it was banned practically everywhere when it was first produced) it focuses on Mrs. Kitty Warren, a hard working mother providing for her daughter Vivie. Upon learning of how her mother obtained such wealth, scandal breaks loose and mother and daughter battle each other over love, sex, money, and morality.

The play is housed in the large "Festival Theatre", the Shaw's flagship theatre that can seat up to 856 people and is used for large-scale productions. With a café and outdoor patio, we decide to enjoy another drink before the show starts and also take in a stroll around the surrounding garden. The production is as racy as it was described to be. I will admit that Shaw's "Pygmalion" is one of my all time favourite plays, so I have nothing but glowing things to say about this playwright.

With our day at an end, we lazily made our way back to the car and headed back to the grind and noise of the city. On a whole the trip was a great change of pace, and we're thinking of going back for a weekend to try out some one of the lovely bed and breakfast's or inns around the area. For a fun, interesting, and relatively inexpensive trip, the Shaw Festival [] along with the village of Niagara-On-The-Lake is a great place to head to relax the soul and stimulate the mind!