Yolt is the first independent app to connect to the UK’s largest high street banks

Yolt, the app that allows customers to view credit card, banking and savings accounts in one place, has become the first third-party provider to tie up with all nine of the UK’s biggest retail banks.

Along with fintech challengers Starling and Monzo, 18 banks are now connected to Yolt, with users able to access a total of 35 different cards and banks. Yolt users can see the shops where they spend the most money. They can also set budgets and plan for upcoming payments as well as seeing how much cash they have available until payday.

Yolt is now the largest user of Open Banking application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable the app to perform about 1.5 million calls every week. APIs are sets of clearly defined ways for various components, in this case accounts to communicate between themselves.

Key features of the Yolt app are its spending tracker, easy budget settings and auto-categorisation.

The app has been working closely with the UK’s nine largest banks and building societies* since the start of 2018 to make it possible to involve all the big retail banking operations. Yolt is the first money app to make a complete Open Banking API link with the Lloyds Banking Group.

Yolt’s COO Leon Muis says that connecting with all the largest banks through APIs is “a huge milestone”. Muis points out that the Open Banking ecosystem has made it possible and for making users able to stay at the front of the Open Banking revolution and empowered to do more with their own money.

He accepts that the public still need educating about Open Banking, which is aimed at providing greater financial transparency for account holders, but believes that as more people get involved, consumers will see the benefits of having increased control over their financial information.

Yolt was launched in 2016 as a registered trademark of the Amsterdam-based ING group. Does it make it easier to manage your finances? Read this review to see what finder UK says. To find out exactly how Open Banking may help you take a look at this analysis.

Test Your Boundaries

It’s as if the passage of time has passed by Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. Roger Wilsher discovers what the world used to be like by jumping in a canoe and being inspired.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness measures 1.1 million acres. The area is one of the most protected wildernesses in America. There are no roads. No towns. No airports. All you see is water and woods.

The lakes and forests here come directly from the Ice Age . It was 12,000 years ago when Paleo-Indians were navigating the lumps of melting ice left behind by the retreating glaciers and hunting woolly mammoths and caribou around here.

Mastodons – distant relatives of today’s elephants – saber-tooth tigers and beavers that weighed 500lbs were roaming the region. It wasn’t until the 17th century that Europeans first entered this wilderness west of Lake Superior. They were looking for a route to China and the huge beaver pelts that could be sold for a fortune. The only safe way to travel the waters then was in a canoe.

The reason this is called the Boundary Waters is the United States-Canada border that meanders anders along the region’s northern edge of the region.

Not much has changed in the past 300 years or so. The area has been well protected by legislation, including the 1964 Wilderness Act, which returned this vast Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to its pristine backcountry heritage.

Outboard engines are outlawed on almost all of the 1,000 lakes. The roads and people who lived here have disappeared. Aircraft are not allowed to fly less than 4,000ft high. In their place have been established  about 2,200 campsites and 1,500 miles of canoe routes.

There are around 250,000 visitors annually but you would not know it because the place is so vast. The signs of human presence are few and far between. Look down when you fly high above it and what you will see is a green carpet, cut into occasionally by a few glaciers. When you are on the water it feels like you are in another time. Nature becomes the world and we humans are lucky guests.

The local Ojibwe (aka Chippewa) tribe still lives in the way it did when it arrived in the 1500s.

What to wear

When you plan to canoe in the waters the advice is to travel as light as possible. For clothes yo8u should bring a pair of pants, a shirt plus one insulating layer and a windbreaker.

When you stop for a camp dry shoes will be appreciated, but staying light is the key on a Boundary Waters trip. When you leave civilization behind, remember you will have to carry whatever you bring and with a canoe on your shoulders! Expect to do a lot of lugging with gear on your back and feet on the trail because you will often have to carry your boat between navigable waters. There are literally dozens of these portages as they are known between the lakes. The majority of portages are just a few hundred yards, but some can stretch for up to a mile.

On top of your few items of clothing you will need a canoe to explore the water, a tent, sleeping pad and bag for sleeping, and a portage pack for your food and kit. It’s also a good idea to ziplock your food and label it by meal and day so you don’t lose track. As you are likely to discover losing track out here is not an uncommon hurdle.

Before you start in earnest, it’s advisable to paddle a section of the International Boundary Route to get used to what is to come. To get to the start of your adventure it is sensible to take a water taxi for the first miles through the perimeter lakes, where motored craft are still permitted .

There’ll be plenty of opportunity to propel yourself. The canoe routes in total measure 1,500 miles. With two people paddling, it’s possible for a Kevlar canoe to average three miles an hour. Rest assured, the rhythmic  motion becomes second nature after a short while.

Everything around you is water or stone or wood. The shorelines is covered in red pine. Granite splits the forest in to two parts. Indeed there are granite bluffs that stand a good 10-storeys high and rise from the depths. In addition, there are flat rocks the size of tennis courts cresting a few feet above the water.

The lakes that make up the Boundary Waters are mainly lined with granite. There are fault lines running through the Kahshahpiwi and Man Chain Lakes, creating perfectly straight greenstone and granite shorelines. Vera Lake is surrounded by jasper, an opaque reddish-brown semi-precious stone. Pink Batholith granite is all around Ensign Lake, and boulders blown off the side of a prehistoric volcano lie at the bottom of Kekekabic Lake.

In one granite cliff between Crane and Sand Point Lakes there is a series of dull red pictographs. These handprints and depictions of a large moose are many hundreds of years old. The Ojibwe artists created the images by combining hematite with sturgeon oil. This mixture chemically binds with rock and is reckoned to last for thousands of years.

Into Canada

When you go through Canadian Customs, you’ll discover it’s not just canoeists who frequent the Boundary Waters. There are fishermen here hopefully landing some of the best bass in the world. If you get the chance for a “shore lunch” it’s an experience. It typically begins with hunks of fresh cornbread smothered with butter and washed down with lemonade. Next expect a platter of breaded and fried walleye, or North American pikeperch, with tartar sauce and potatoes. Dessert can be something like turnovers with rhubarb and strawberry topped with whipped cream.

The border is marked by a silvery benchmark spike embossed with U.S. on one side and CANADA on the other that has been driven into a boulder on the rocky islet on the southern end of Lac La Croix. In the middle of the island there is a pile of rocks that was once a native-American lookout station. It is placed in the middle of the fur traders’ route, so an Indian scout could see any Europeans approaching and signal this to his tribe so they could prepare their valuable furs.

Heading south there are a dozen or so islands where there are campsites. Here, it’s possible to see the  Milky Way’s arc, which is known to the Ojibwe as the Path of Souls, until it disappears into the canopy of shadows on the lake’s other side. The air has the scent of pine and campfire smoke.

Although this is known as the land of 10,000 lakes, it probably has nearer to 20,000, when lakes of less than 10 acres are counted in the total. The Minnesota shoreline measures 45,000 miles. Fully, 8% of Minnesota is water and the other 92% houses on average just 67 people per square mile.

Ely is the capital. Here you will find all manner of craft from sea kayaks and canoes, through skiffs and powerboats, to dories and dinghies leaning against the town’s buildings and in the driveways that line Highway 169.

There is one current threat to the pace and tranquility of the region. After more than 10 years of lobbying, a Chilean mining company, Antofagasta, wants to build a huge sulfide-ore copper mine adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The fears are that the wilderness’s currents could carry toxic pollution from this mine into the lake area .

The Forest Service along with tens of thousands of Boundary Waters’ supporters have made their concerns known, and the project’s future does look less likely every month. But the fact it has even been considered a possibility underlines doubts people who know this place have about the integrity, values and good sense of the 21st century’s so-called civilization.

When you are on the water thoughts like this seem so far away. However, when  you pull up at the end the sounds that return, which can be as simple as a car door shutting, seem so unnatural.

After just a short time in a canoe on the Boundary Waters, everything that isn’t pure nature feels very strange. But, there always has to come a time when we’re beckoned back in to the modern world.

Theresa May’s Groundhog Day

With Brexit in mind, we appear to be living with a calendar where every day’s the political equivalent of Groundhog Day. 
No one seems up to the task of leading the U.K. out of the EU without causing pain, anguish and quite probably worse.
Jeremy Corbyn is no great hope, as the fence he sits on threatens to collapse under the weight of pro-EU members, voters and logic, without him seeing the electoral light.
But the person who currently seems least capable of all is the prime minister.
All Theresa May is doing on a daily basis is stoking the risk of a popular backlash against any final deal.
Every day, in order to hold her fraying party together, she pretends to the country that Britain can take back control while it gives it away to ensure frictionless trade and no damage to our lives and livelihoods.
Instead of being so irresponsible and untrustworthy, it would be appreciated if she could learn the lesson that Phil Connors, the arrogant Pittsburgh TV weatherman took on board during his assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
To escape the time loop, repeating the same day again and again, after indulging in hedonism and committing suicide several times, Connors re-examines his life and priorities with beneficial consequences.
It would be greatly appreciated by everyone if Prime Minister May could do the same!

La Nuit de l’Homme Review

One sniff, total recall

Product review fragrance

A fragrance is one of those invisible parts of our very personal style. It has a powerful effect on how people see and remember us.

One way to stand out is a good scent, which also offers numerous other benefits, from making you even more attractive to helping you feel more confident and less stressed.

Yves St Laurent’s classic smelling La Nuit de L’Homme fits this bill. It’s an intense, boldly sensual, and very seductive fragrance. Its extremely masculine, bright and fresh notes combine with a nonchalant sophistication to create a natural and crisp yet mysterious scent which conjures up the spicy fresh notes of cedar, cardamom, and the fragrance of coumarin. This is most definitely a smell for the confident man from one of the most iconic of France’s fashion houses.
I give it 5 stars

PROS

  • Projection and longevity
  • Great smell
  • Sexy
  • Spicy
  • Long-lasting
  • Compliment magnet
  • Sensual

CONS

  • Perhaps too expensive
  • Not really for daytime use
  • Too subtle
  • Too popular
  • A little cloying
  • Only for club or date nights

SCENT, BASENOTES AND INGREDIENTS

Launched in 2009 this impressive fragrance was created by noteworthy perfumers Pierre Wargnye, Dominique Ropion, and Anne Flipo. They have created an exciting scent that is bursting with tensions and contrasts.

It comes in a powerful dark flacon that befits its strong ingredients and noticeably represents the strong characteristics of man. The spicy cardamom notes explode on application to combine with the sparkling freshness of bergamot, cedar and lavender. The base notes are of vetiver and cumin, ensuring a sensual finish and an opulent, elegance.

It is available in three sizes – 40ml, 60ml and 100ml

– Projection

This male fragrance casts a wide net and lingers with each turn you take; so much so it is bound to leave a powerful impression on any of the people you meet. If you use it as your signature scent and don’t switch fragrances depending on your mood, this scent will project as far as it possibly can.

– Longevity

In my experience, the performance of La Nuit de l’Homme is quite decent. I reckon it lasts for a good eight hours longevity (even longer on clothes). Though I would suggest this is better suited as a fragrance for cold weather when its scent lasts and lasts. The compliments all come from women, I should add.

– Versatility

This is a very versatile fragrance and I wear it for any occasion, whether it be lunching or clubbing. A lot of people are adamant that it is a night-only scent or only for more formal occasions, but in my opinion, L’Homme can be worn at just about any time.

– Compliments

One thing is for certain about this scent, it has drawn more compliments than any other cologne I have ever used. People tell me it’s very memorable too.

SUMMARY

This is definitely one of the most exciting male designer fragrances on the market today. With its unquestionably spicy and sexy vibe that softens to a sweet and clean effect, especially as it settles into your skin, Yves St Laurent’s La Nuit de L’Homme gives a great performance, casting a wide net and lasting around eight hours. This is a great fragrance, which attracts a lot of good compliments, noticeably from the ladies! On one occasion recently, when I was returning by air from a business trip to the Continent I had reason to ask the stewardess if I could check something in my bag, which was in the overhead locker. As the stewardess reached up to grab my piece of luggage she looked down at me and announced how wonderful she thought I smelled!

I have been using this scent for more than three years, and my feeling is that it is a relatively subtle fragrance once you get over the initial explosion of smells.
Although the cardamon and bergamot elements are very prevalent when the fragrance is first applied the opening lacks another element that could really inject excitement – something like a pepper accord. Any sense of citrus notes all but disappears within the first 10 minutes – but this really is not a loss.
Once the scent has dried down to the base notes of wood and vanilla, it really is a comforting scent.
I am known to be a projection killer myself but the longevity is still there. I wear it when I go out in the evening, whether it be to a casual dinner with friends or at a full-on, top-of-the-range black-tie event. It’s a good scent from that solid old house that is Yves St Laurent, which has been producing so many great and iconic perfumes for so long.

HOW DOES IT COMPARE?

A single fragrance has the power to foster deep emotional connections. Indeed smell is our most powerful sense – 150,000 times more sensitive than our vision.

Smell also conjures memories more efficiently than any of our other senses thanks to the olfactory bulb that is connected directly to our limbic system – the emotional brain.

This is why unique and powerful equal deep and emotional connections.

Anyway, when it comes to comparisons with Yves st Laurent’s La Nuit de l’Homme, one obvious competitor is Eros FOR MEN by Versace. However, this is a much more everyday scent for the summer, and in no way as striking, especially when it is worn in the evening.

Another noteworthy challenger is Armaf Club De Nuit INTENSE. This is a similarly Spicy fragrance for men, but is much more recent – only being launched in 2015. Plus its top notes are at the other end of the spectrum to the Yves St Laurent offering. Club De Nuit gives off lemon, apple, black currant and pineapple; meanwhile, its middle notes include rose, jasmine and birch and its base notes are made up of musk, vanilla, ambergris and patchouli. Despite its name, I find this much easier to wear all day.

Also launched in 2015, that can be treated as an alternative to L’Homme is Carolina Herrera CH Men Prive. This has an impressive longevity that just keeps on purring after many hours making its presence felt. This has great maturity and depth but is much more sugary sweet than the Yves St Laurent competitor.

Hamper (noun): a basket used to deliver an exciting array of things

Blog posts retail
Hamper Joy: gifts like this inspire strong feelings of expectation

There are not many expressions that instantly conjure up such strong feelings of expectation, interest and excitement as does the word “hamper”.

If you believe you are about the receive a hamper from a friend, member of the family or colleague what comes to mind? Gifts, food, special things, enjoyment, pleasure. What is the common denominator? None of them is negative: They are all positives!

It is a truly enervating experience to have a mystery basket arrive on your doorstep. Anybody who doesn’t get excited about discovering what layer upon layer of a hamper reveals must be suffering badly.

  • The hamper may be full of delicious food and drink.
  • It may be stuffed with fascinating trinkets.
  • It may be an arrangement of flowers thoughtfully assembled in a unique display.
  • The basket may be packed with succulent fruits of every description.

There are few things that cannot be delivered in a spectacular way in a hamper, whether here in Singapore or anywhere else around the world.

Hampers first really became popular in Victorian England and have been standing the test of time ever since. Today they are a glorious gift solution for any celebratory event throughout the year and can contain just about anything. You choose.

The concept of the hamper originated in France in around the 11th century. The term ‘hamper‘ comes from the French word ‘hanapier’, which describes a case for goblets. Woven baskets were always traditionally been constructed with willow and were originally employed to transport food and drink on long journeys, hunting expeditions or other expeditions.

It was in the 19th century, as a result of the UK’s industrial revolution, and the improved transport links that came about as a result, that inspired the Victorians to literally grasp the handle of the hamper idea and send items of fresh food throughout the country and Empire.

Luxury food hampers quickly became a popular tradition, particularly at Christmas, when families would send hampers to each other as impressive gifts.

Around this time it also became common for employers to present hampers to their servants and other staff. These traditional baskets, made of wicker, might have been packed with food and clothes. The convention was for these hampers to be filled with seasonal produce, including meat and preserved fruits and given on Boxing Day.

Hamper delivery was a way of saying thank you and making sure everyone had plenty to enjoy over the festive season.

Since the mid 19th Century the use of hampers to spread joy and goodwill has continuously evolved and grown throughout the world. The evolution of the hamper has followed in the footsteps of a variety of food trends and every change in fashion.

The exciting development of hampers and their uses continues today. Indeed, even hamper weaving methods and the baskets produced as a result are changing too.

Nowadays a wide variety of natural weaving materials is used in addition to willow. Other materials can include:

  • rattan
  • seagrass

Expert weavers are able to create hamper baskets in a whole array of sizes and shapes. Wooden and other boxes and gift bags are also used for hamper delivery

Hampers are perfect for this part of the world because giving gifts is part of the culture of Singapore. Recent surveys have indicated that more than 44 percent of people say they are willing to spend over  S$200 on a single gift and more than 24 percent are likely to spend between S$100 and S$200.

The surveys also show that gifts are given all year round, not just during the Great Singapore Sale and the festive seasons.

The opportunities for hamper delivery are almost infinite. It is not just for the traditional seasonal occasions, like Christmas, New Year, Easter, Chinese New Year, hampers can also be created, put together and delivered for:

  • Mummies to give to their babies and vice versa
  • Parents to give their babies for a Full Moon party
  • Couples to give each other for Valentine’s Day

Hampers are such a perfect solution for busy Singaporeans keen to satisfy their friends, family and colleagues, whatever their budget.

Whether it is fresh fruit, the best wines, or healthy biscuits and award-winning baby products, all of these items can be incorporated thoughtfully into an exciting basket of goods that can be put together for hamper delivery.

Today the hamper is more popular than it has ever been. They are a chance for people to be given and to experience and taste products they may never have thought of buying themselves.

What is more, it is now possible to put hampers together to suit very specific dietary needs and other requirements. This means that nobody needs to miss out on the joy and excitement of receiving such a fantastic and innovative present. It’s even possible to create Gluten-Free and Diabetic hampers if they are required.

The perfect food hamper needs to be a delicious mixture of savoury and sweet. Everybody loves one, whether it is receiving it, or the interest of putting one together with care and attention,  picking out those things that your friends, family or colleagues are going to love. It makes the hamper as a present that little bit more special.

It is best if the sweet items are individual and bespoke. Local products are invariably winners. Temptations like butter shortbread or chocolate wafers are never rebuffed. The savoury items could always be something homemade, like a pressed tongue or a cured ham.

The best hampers are definitely those that are personalised to suit the people to whom they are being given. Today the items in a particular hamper can not only be swathed in bespoke gift wrap but the accompanying card can be specifically tailored for a specific person, occasion or purpose, or all three.

Baskets, ribbons, greeting cards, and other decorations all add elegance to a hamper.  But when it comes to giving a gift and hamper delivery one thing that most definitely cannot be overlooked is convenience.

Hamper delivery must be efficient, precise, friendly, and punctual or the whole purpose can be easily marred.

Singaporeans like to give and receive gifts but they not only expect the best products to be chosen for their hampers. They also require practical convenience for their hamper delivery.

What is the enduring appeal of hampers? They suit just about any occasion and most certainly every person who receives one. Whether it’s for family, friends, customers or staff, hampers provide a perfect gift.

Crochet A Bag Holder With Your Old Bags

Blog posts crafts
Unsightly but useful: Baled plastic bags for recycling

Do you have a habit of throwing your old plastic bags in a ball when you’ve used them to bring the shopping back home?

Some people who are keen on handicrafts create a crocheted bag to store their old bags in and keep them neat and tidy and out of the way.

But why not go a step further and create an even cleverer and more environmentally friendly solution by crocheting a bag holder with yarn that you have created yourself out of recycling your own leftover plastic shopping and grocery bags.

You can make a very pretty and extremely environmentally benign bag holder simply by following these instructions. And an additional bonus is it will cost absolutely nothing – just your own time and effort.

Choose one of the many striking designs for crochet patterns that are available for making a bag holder.

There’s nothing new about the idea of recycling old used plastic bags but think about it: if you take the bags back to the shop for them to recycle, they will simply melt them down and make new bags. This will have the harmful effect of emitting, even more, pollution into the air.

Fusing and joining plastic bags together with an iron can release some very noxious fumes into the atmosphere, stinking out your home.

Get your scissors

So, why not get out a pair of the scissors you already use for handicrafts and set about recycling any old plastic shopping and grocery bags into useful ‘yarn’ with which to make an attractive bag to store your future collection of plastic shopping bags.

Start by first laying out a single plastic bag. The bags most suitable for this are those thin ones that you find in chain grocers like Walmart. Take the bag’s seams and tuck them in at the side and then smooth out your bag so that it’s flat. This doesn’t have to be done so there are no creases and the bag is perfect. It will all look fine in the end.

Now you are ready to cut off the bottom edge of the bag with your scissors. For this, you will need to ensure your scissors are good and sharp because you will find that even slightly blunt scissors are not able to cut plastic bags well.

Once you have cut the edges you need to fold the bag lengthways and cut the folded bag into strips of about one and a half inches wide. Again this does not need to be perfect. As it’s just a guideline you don’t need to hunt for a ruler.

Every aspect of this task needs to be kept as simple as possible. Now unfold one of the cut strips and begin the process of joining. Be careful so the strip doesn’t tear on any fused seam.

Loop the loops

Get hold of another cut strip and unfold this too. Loop the strip around a thumb and index finger while holding the rest in your fist.

Then continue this process of bag joining by bringing the loop that is on your right hand over the strip that is looped in your left hand.

Maintain the loop that is in your right hand, and grasp the strip from your left hand, pulling it a little of the way through the loop that is in your right hand.

Carry on until you can complete the bag joining and tie the knot. For this, you need to place your left hand through the most left part of that strip that you most recently passed through the loop that was in your right hand and let it settle on your left wrist.

Now grasp the other end of the strip that you passed through the loop in your right hand with your left index finger and thumb.

Draw the part that you’ve already pinched in your left hand through the loop that you have on your left wrist and continue to pull the knot until it is tight.

Finally, you are ready to finish joining the bag loops and begin crocheting. It’s very important that use up all of your shopping and grocery bags.

The yarn that you have created out of all your bags is best crocheted using a size K or larger crochet hook.

In the end, you will have a perfectly crocheted bag in which you can store any shopping bags that you collect in future.