The Hamster’s Rolling Wheel of Highlights: 14 Most Iconic Richard Hammond Moments

Along with Jeremy Clarkson and James May, Richard Hammond is definitely one of the most iconic figures in the world of motoring journalism. From starting his career as a small time radio jockey to co-presenting the biggest car show(s) on the planet, Richard Hammond has entertained us continuously. Affectionately (and mockingly) known as ‘the Hamster’ because of his short physical stature, Hammond has had numerous memorable moments on Top Gear, The Grand Tour and numerous other special programs.

These days, Hammond has been tackling his mid-life crisis after turning 50 years old via some funny sketches featuring members of his family and a pick up truck on Drivetribe.

Obviously, it’s impossible to cover all the great moments of the Richard Hammond’s career since he happens to have so many. However, we will try to cram up as much as possible before the article starts becoming as long and unending as James May’s explanation of rolling resistance during an economy run.

As a simultaneous celebration of his glorious career and his 50th birthday, here are

The 14 most iconic Richard Hammond moments:

1. Richard Hammond Crashes a Jet Powered Car

When someone has had as many serious and life-threatening crashes as Richard Hammond, it’s hard to not get hung up on the crashing. It’s also fitting to start this list with his most horrific crash.

On September 20th, 2006, Richard Hammond was seriously injured while filming a sequence for Top Gear featuring the Vampire dragster. The jet engine powered car was capable of achieving speeds in excess of 370 mph (595.5 kmph). The drive was being filmed at RAF Elvington Airfield near York.

During his final run with the car, Richard Hammond deployed the car’s parachutes to bring it to a halt. However, there was some problem with the parachute deployment and the car went off the tarmac and rolled violently on the grass. Richard Hammond suffered significant brain damage in the accident. However, he made a complete recovery and returned to the show in 2007. Despite the accident’s severity, it eventually became a running inside joke among the co-presenters. The clip of the horrific crash was shown during the Season Nine, Episode One of Top Gear as well as during the Season 3 finale of The Grand Tour.

2. Richard Hammond Crashes an Electric Supercar

On the 10th of June, 2017, while filming for an episode of the second season of The Grand Tour,  Richard Hammond was involved in an accident while participating in a hill-climb event in Switzerland. Hammond was driving a Rimac Concept One supercar at the time. Unlike his Vampire Dragster crash a few years early, Hammond remained conscious during and after the accident. It was Hammond’s second reported accident while filming for The Grand Tour, following a motorcycle accident in Mozambique.

The accident occurred after the photography for the episode had mostly been concluded. As a result, wthe only footage of the accident is of amateur quality and turned away as the accident occurred. Regardless, it can be clearly seen that Hammond lost control of the car because he was carrying far too much speed to be able to stop the car after having crossed the finish line. The car slid uncontrollably towards the edge of the hill, a section which no protective armco barriers. The car then went on to collide with a lamp post, receiving extensive damage to its front end and ripping the entire front panel off.

The car then continued to careen unimpeded down the side of the hill, rolling end over end multiple times before coming to a rest upside down. Still conscious, Hammond managed to drag himself out of the car as the battery cells ruptured, causing an uncontrollable blaze which continued to rage on 5 days after the initial accident. The Concept One was totally destroyed, with fellow presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May both believing Hammond to have been killed in the accident as they arrived on the scene, largely due to an error in communication that gave the former the impression that his “body” had been removed from the car.

Hammond did manage to make a complete recovery and flew back home to the UK very soon. Unlike Hammond’s first crash in 2006, where both of Hammond’s fellow presenters were told never to reference the crash again, with the episode featuring the crash only ever airing once, this crash was referenced extensively throughout the second season of The Grand Tour, with Hammond often as the butt of a joke. One such joke involved Hammond being gifted an alarm clock with a broken toy car on top, with the car rigged to explode into flames once the alarm went off.

3. Richard Hammond Falls in Love with ‘Oliver’

The 1963 Opel Kadett was the car that Richard Hammond drove during the Botswana Special episode of Top Gear. After a buying a tiny car which by no means seemed suited to handle the Spine of Africa, Richard Hammond started falling head over heels in love with the car,. He went on to name the car, Oliver. When it came to crossing the Makgadikgadi Salt Flats, Jeremy Clarkson and James May went on an intense weight shedding spree with their cars, removing all non essential parts. This was done to prevent the cars from digging in to the surface of the salt flats. Richard Hammond chose to forgo any such modifications for his beloved Oliver. Despite the mechanical problems Oliver suffered, it managed to travel the full length of the trip.

The only real problem Oliver encountered was fording through a river, where it sank. It led to the famous ‘OLIVER’ scream of Hammond. He worked through the night to fix it, and he managed to repair the water damage, proudly displaying Oliver’s fixed horn later.

The car was later seen on the Top Gear awards as the best noise of the year, and then in the Lorries Challenge, where it is shown that Richard gave the car the personalised nameplate, “OL1V3R”. It was ‘borrowed’ by Clarkson and May to be Hammond’s most treasured item in the Lorry Challenge hill start, but he chose to forfeit the task, as he didn’t want to risk damaging his precious Oliver.

Oliver also appeared in Hammond’s own show, Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab. Oliver also appeared in Practical Classics magazine where the magazine staff helped Hammond complete the restoration. Oliver also appeared in a Drivetribe episode along with James May’s Ferrari F458 and four-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel.

4. Richard Hammond Gets ‘Pregnant’

Richard Hammond is known for his often, off the cuff, comedic remarks and this scene during his drive through Bolivia’s tropical rain forest on an old and decrepit Toyota Land Cruiser was no different. While driving along through the insect infested jungle, Hammond remarked that he cannot remember whether or not he had taken his Malaria pill. Following this concern, he went on to expand that if he were a woman, he would be pregnant a lot, referencing the birth control pills used by women to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

5. Richard Hammond Can’t Handle a ‘Three Legged’ Burmese Horse

During the Top Gear Burma Special, a Jeremy Clarkson detour resulted in the trio running out of fuel at a fuel-station less village in Burma (Myanmar). The nearest village with a fuel station was too far to access on foot and Jeremy Clarkson commissioned three horses to help them fetch some fuel from it.

Since Richard Hammond was the only one among the three with prior horse riding experience, he chose to ride the stallion in heat. During their journey, the stallion tried to mount a mare while Hammond was still sitting on it. Hammond fell from the horse as a result and had to be taken to a hospital which was hours away. Luckily, he escaped with a wrist sprain.

6. Richard Hammond Calls Himself a Driving God

This scene from an episode of the “lost season” of Top Gear, featured Richard Hammond driving the amazing Bowler Wildcat. The off-roader was so good and confidence inspiring, that it made Richard Hammond go so far as to proclaim himself a “Driving God”. After the sequence ended, Jeremy Clarkson and James May went on to promptly mock him for saying that.

7. Richard Hammond Burns a Train Down

In this hilarious episode of Top Gear, Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May decided to fix the UK’s Railway Network by using cars and caravans as locomotives and coaches. While performing his stewardly duties on the train, Hammond absent-mindedly started a fire in the kitchen car, eventually burning it down completely.

Despite a gracious warning from Clarkson, which train driver May dismissed, their train burned down to a halt and the passengers fled. With an ever positive attitude however, Richard Hammond looked at the whole experience as a resounding success!

8. Richard Hammond Gets Marooned on the Lone Wolf Mountain

Richard Hammond was dropped into the wilds of Canada’s British Columbia to test a watch with a built-in distress beacon. Unfortunately for Hammond, instead of a proper search and rescue team, the signal was received by James May and Jeremy Clarkson. The duo showed absolutely no urgency towards rescuing Hammond, going as far as to reject an airline company’s flight because its ‘stewardesses wore trousers’. Eventually, they flew to Canada, procured two pickup trucks, and set off into the frozen wilderness to rescue their EXTREMELY angry colleague.

9. Richard Hammond Swears Non-Stop

During a Top Gear race through London, where the hosts tried to find the fastest means of transportation across London, Richard Hammond competed on a bicycle. While riding his bicycle, Hammond was cut off by a rather run down looking van, and he was really infuriated by it. What ensued was a really colourful barrage of choice insults directed at the van driver.

10. Richard Hammond Climbs a Dam

Richard Hammond’s love for Land Rovers is very well known. That fact made him the ideal Top Gear presenter to celebrate Land Rover’s classic commercial and the brand’s anniversary. Richard Hammond took a modified Land Rover up the side of a nearly vertical dam. Richard Hammond is known for having some of the greatest and hairiest features of all time, and this is certainly on that list. This terrifying and exciting sequence is definitely among Hammond’s most memorable moments.

11. Richard Hammond Flies on a Biplane

As it was common on Top Gear, Richard Hammond found himself in yet another precarious position this time. After driving through the pretty Cotswolds town of Stow-on-the-Wold, Richard Hammond ‘won’ the race. Getting strapped to a biplane’s wings while it performed aerobatic manoeuvres was his ‘special prize’ for winning the race featuring three classic British sports cars. It was definitely one of the most terrifying and brave endeavours of Richard Hammond’s career.

12. Richard Hammond Drives a Formula 1 Car

In the year 2005, Fernando Alonso won the Formula 1 World Championship while driving the Renault R25 car. During Season 10, Episode Seven of Top Gear, Richard Hammond tried driving it around the fabled Silverstone race track, and showed everyone just how incredibly tough is it to drive a Formula 1 car.

13. Richard Hammond Does NASCAR

During Episode two of Season 18 of Top Gear, Richard Hammond travelled to America to immerse himself in the world of NASCAR. Hammond is very well known to be a big fan of American motoring culture and was very excited about his NASCAR tryst. He drove the pace car to launch the race at the Texas Speedway, helped a team in the pits, and went on to do a few laps of the oval track with NASCAR legend Kyle Petty.

14. Richard Hammond Drives a James Bond Style Submarine Car

Based on the Lotus as seen in the classic Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, Richard Hammond, with the help of some crazy engineering team, built the world’s first ever submarine car and put it to the test in this incredible segment. This is definitely one of the most legendary and memorable moments of Richard Hammond’s career.

The Most Iconic, Controversial and Defining Moments of Jeremy Clarkson’s Career (and Some General Trivia)

Top Gear is one of the most popular and beloved TV shows of all time. The show has it all. Incredible cars, spectacular  cinematography, and the hilarious over the top hosts. While all the hosts are great, there is one host who stands  above the rest (literally and figuratively). More boisterous and over the top than everyone else. That host of course, is Jeremy Clarkson.

Most if not all fans most likely remember seeing Clarkson for the first time on Top Gear, but Jeremy has had a long and storied career outside of Top Gear as well. From reviewing cars before the industry really even existed for local newspapers, to the very first iteration of Top Gear, as well as a host of other television and print positions, Jeremy Clarkson has done the all. All of that is a big reason why Jeremy Clarkson is so great at his job today.

Clarkson’s career has also had his share of questionable, or even downright bad days. Just like anyone else in the world Clarkson has had his fair share of them.

In celebration of the upcoming premier of the new ‘specials only’ version of The Grand Tour, let’s take a look at the best and worst moments of the man, the myth and the legend that is Jezza. Here are the most iconic, controversial  and defining moments of Jeremy Clarkson’s career:

1. The Return (and Rebirth) of Top Gear

It’s safe to say that we wouldn’t be so familiar with the name Jeremy Clarkson, if he didn’t have his incredibly long stint on Top Gear. The original Top Gear was a traditional motoring show which premiered on British Television in the year 1977. Jeremy Clarkson joined the show in 1988. While his unique and formidable on screen presence because of his 6’5″ frame and curly hair coupled with a great brand of humour did elevate the original Top Gear to a higher level than before, it was nothing compared to the phenomenon that the re-released version of Top Gear would become. It began in 2002 with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and Jason Dawe as the hosts. Dawe was replaced with James May in the next season and the three went on to become the most popular figures in the world of motoring journalism. A humble car show soon went on to win Emmy awards and became the most downloaded tv show in the world soon. Going back and watching the first episode is a must do for true fans of the show and Clarkson. You can see Clarkson’s blossoming media personality, his unique style, and the seeds of the international superstar he would become being planted, ever so well.

2. Jeremy Clarkson’s First Ever Writing Job

Jeremy’s first writing job, where he would begin to fine tune his automotive critic skills, came from his being hired at the Rotherham Advertiser, a paper in the United Kingdom. Interestingly enough, Clarkson may not have gotten the job completely on his writing merit. Clarkson himself said that apparently his grandfather had delivered the then editor’s first child during a World War Two air raid, and the man was so grateful still, that he offered Clarkson the job. Amazing to think that it may be Jeremy’s grandfather we all have to thank for his position in the world now as an automotive legend.

3 The World According to Clarkson

His first book was a really huge deal. A huge milestone in most anyone’s career, the book came out in 2005 and featured Clarkson giving his thoughts, jokes, insights, and opinions on just about everything. The book was extremely well received, and led to Jeremy writing a host of other books. For those who enjoy Clarkson’s special kind of humour, The World According to Clarkson series of books are a must read.

4. Jeremy Clarkson’s Very Own TV Show

Most fans may not know about this one, but in the year 1998, Clarkson received his own talk show on BBC Two. The show, similar to American late night comedy shows, featured guests, musicians, and celebrities. While the show did not do well, it served as a bridge for Clarkson to make his way to the modern version of Top Gear and no doubt gave him a bolster to his television skills, developing him into the personality he is today.

5. Jeremy Clarkson Uses the “N-Word” on TV

In an outtake from an episode of Top Gear, Clarkson while singing part of a children’s nursery rhyme, reportedly mumbled the “n-word”. While it is debatable whether or not he said it, or if he did, that he mumbled it intentionally in order to not actually say it, the clip caused quite a stir or negative reactions. Clarkson later apologized for the incident.

6. Jeremy Clarkson’s Mexico Insults

While stereotyping things and throwing mean insults is nothing new for Top Gear, Clarkson, Hammond and May took it to another level during a section of ‘The News’ segment. While talking about the Mastretta MXT, the trio all spouted insults at various aspects of Mexican culture and Mexican people. Hammond started off by calling the car the ‘Tortilla’. Hammond said that the Mexico built cars would be reflections of the Mexican people. According to Hammond, the car was going to be just like the Mexicans who were “just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, learning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle as a coat” while May said Mexican cuisine was “like sick with cheese on it”, and Clarkson rounding out the offenses by saying that they would not get any complaints from Mexico because “at the Mexican embassy, the ambassador is going to be sitting there with a remote control like (makes a snoring sound). They won’t complain, it’s fine.” Even in jest, it was definitely not Clarkson’s or the others’ finest on screen moment. Top Gear promptly milked the controversy with a race near the Mexican border where the last person to reach the border would be forced to cross into Mexico from the USA to review the Mastretta MXT. Hammond lost the race and drove the Mastretta in Mexico.

7. Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘Slope’ comment in Myanmar

While filming in Burma, and watching a local man walk towards them, Clarkson said to Hammond, “That is a proud moment- but there’s a slope on it” to which Hammond replied “You’re right, it’s definitely higher on that side.” While Clarkson maintained his innocence, media regulators found that it was intentional and offensive towards Asian viewers. While not his worst moment, it was an incident which surely was more pain than it was worth.

8. Jeremy Clarkson’s Falklands Controversy in Argentina

While later proved to be completely coincidental, despite what the country of Argentina may think, the controversy turned out to be one Clarkson’s most dangerous. It all stemmed from a Porsche 928 that Jeremy Clarkson was driving through an area of Argentina in which many of that countries veterans, who were in the Falklands War, a land war between the country and the United Kingdom, lived. Someone believed the license plate (FKL 982) on the Porsche was a direct slight towards the veterans and referenced the war, instigating what turned out to be a potentially deadly situation that resulted in a last ditch effort to flee the country while being assaulted with stones and other projectiles in the middle of the night. A terrifying, and memorable moment in Jeremy Clarkson’s career, without a doubt.

9. Jeremy Clarkson Punching His Producer

The most infamous of any recent controversy surrounding Clarkson, and more than likely the one most of you are familiar with. This even led to the demise of Top Gear as we knew and loved it. For those of you unfamiliar with the incident, after a long day of filming, an apparently very grumpy Clarkson found upon his arrival at their hotel that the producer had not secured any hot food for the stars. In retaliation, Clarkson hurled insults, and punched the producer in the mouth. Talk about hunger pains.

10. Jeremy Clarkson’s Mega Deal with Amazon for The Grand Tour

It would be impossible to say that after the incident with the BBC and being fired from Top Gear, that securing a major deal, worth a reported 12 million dollars a year, and costing nearly 6 million dollars to film per episode, isn’t one of Clarkson’s greatest accomplishments. In fact the deal secured his position as Britain’s highest paid T.V. star. Money aside, the amazing chance to produce a show like The Grand Tour, with almost complete freedom, no longer restricted by strict BBC standards and practices, must seem like a dream come true to Clarkson.

Now that we have covered the ten most iconic, controversial and career defining moments of Jeremy Clarkson, let’s take a look at ten surprising pieces of trivia about the Top Gear Orangutan:

  • Jeremy Clarkson owes his life and career to Paddington Bear

His parents put him down for private schools despite not having the financial capabilities for it – until they made two legendary Paddington Bear stuffed toys that proved extremely popular all across Britain. With the massive income coming from Paddington’s sales, Clarkson’s parents made enough to give little Jeremy a posh education. However, he was eventually expelled from the Repton School for “drinking, smoking and generally making a nuisance of himself.”

  • Levi’s jeans blamed Jeremy Clarkson for their sale slump

Anyone who has followed Jeremy Clarkson for some time, knows that he loves wearing Jeans. However, that has been a bane for for jeans manufacturers. The association of jeans with middle-aged men sporting a bear gut, has been dubbed the ‘Jeremy Clarkson effect’, and was been blamed for a decline in sales over 20 years ago. However, the world’s over it now.

  • Jeremy Clarkson was a child actor

While he is mainly known for his work as a motoring show host, Jeremy Clarkson’s very first job at the BBC was actually playing a public schoolboy called Atkinson in the Children’s Hour serial adaptation of Anthony Buckeridge’s Jennings novels. However, he has to leave the series when his voice broke as a result of puberty.

  • Jeremy Clarkson punched Piers Morgan

Even if you already knew this, it’s always worth revisiting. At the British Press Awards in 2004, he apparently swore at Morgan (in his final days as Mirror editor), and punched him before being restrained by security. After the incident, Piers Morgan said that he had a scar above his left eyebrow.

Ever since then, Morgan and Clarkson haven’t really made up. They have had a few tiffs over the years since then. When Morgan was sacked from his CNN show – Clarkson pointed out that he had “less viewers than Cash in the Attic.

  • Jeremy Clarkson might’ve caused the closure of Rover

Jeremy Clarkson has always openly expressed his dislike towards the Rover brand, and some critics have deemed his views influential enough to bring forth the closure of the beleaguered car company. While expressing his disdain towards Rover, Jeremy Clarkson referenced a  Winston Churchill’s famous speech, he once said: “Never in the field of human endeavour has so much been done, so badly, by so many”.

Clarkson’s comments against Rover through the years saw Rover’s workers hang an ‘Anti-Clarkson Campaign’ banner outside the Longbridge plant during its final days. 

  • Jeremy Clarkson cleared his driving test in a Bentley

Jeremy Clarkson has claimed to have cleared his driving test in style back in 1977. He gave his test behind the wheel of his grandfather’s Bentley R Type. He was so confident that he’d pass first time, he even brought along scissors to remove the L-plates afterwards.

  • Jeremy Clarkson left Robot Wars because he was too busy

You may have even forgotten that Jeremy hosted the first series of Robot Wars before Craig Charles made the show his own. However, Clarkson reportedly didn’t leave the show on bad-terms. Show producer Tom Gutteridge said that Clarkson didn’t appear on the show because he was simply too busy, not because he disliked the show in any way. However, he was never talked about or mentioned on the show again. Show footage featuring him was edited out of VHS releases.

  • A lot of Britons want Jeremy Clarkson as their Prime Minister

Over the years, Jeremy Clarkson has built a huge fan base. Some members of that fan base, also want Jeremy Clarkson as their Prime  Minister.  In the year 2008, an online petition was launched on Number 10’s website to ‘Make Jeremy Clarkson Prime Minister’. The petition garnered nearly 50,000 signatures very quickly. The opposing petition which was called ‘Never, Ever Make Jeremy Clarkson Prime Minister’ got just 87 signatures.

Clarkson himself has said that he would be a “rubbish” PM as he often contradicts himself in his newspaper columns. In an official response, Number 10 agreed:

  • Jeremy Clarkson can play the drums, somewhat

During a Red Nose Day special called Top Gear of the Pops (named after the famous British music show Top of the Pops), Jeremy Clarkson brought the Top Gear band together with himself on drums, Richard Hammond on Bass, James May on keyboards and The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins on vocals. The band covered Billy Ocean’s Red Light Spells Danger.

When asked about his drum skills, Clarkson said: “I practise infrequently and have become to the world of sticksmanship what Germany is to the world of cricket.”

  • Jeremy Clarkson is a big fan of UK progressive rock band, Genesis

Richard Hammond has often mocked Jeremy Clarkson’s fanaticism towards 1970s progressive rock music, especially the Peter Gabriel fronted era of Genesis. The band expressed their latitude by letting him write sleeve notes for the reissue of their album Selling England by the Pound.

Clarkson wrote: “Whenever I buy a new car, this is always the album I put into the CD changer and play first. On a recent Top Gear trip to the North Pole, James May and I listened to Genesis every time the cameras were off. And it was like being back at school. As the miles of absolute nothingness crunched by, we’d fill the time by seeing who knew the most lyrics off by heart (me) and what they might have meant (him).”

This post alone can’t actually cover everything in Jeremy Clarkson’s career. It would take a far longer amount of time and words to do that for a career so long, successful, and storied. The Top Gear Orangutan is one of the funniest and most iconic figureheads in the world of motoring journalism. He has turned the humble and somewhat nerdy world of motoring journalism into a smorgasbord of excitement, thrills, and uncensored, unbridled humour. And on that bombshell, it’s time to end this post.

Eight Best Things to Do in and Around Loch Ness

When you think of Scotland’s (and UK’s) most well known water body, the first name that will pop up in your head is Loch Ness. The lake is also the home to one of the world’s most famous mythical creatures, the Loch Ness Monster, also known as Nessie. Around a million people visit this part of Scotland, with many hoping to get a glimpse of the legendary monster. Some search for a lifetime and never see it, while others claim to have spotted ‘something from the road’. A woman driving back from Inverness claimed to have seen a dark lump in the water of Loch Ness. The lump was slate-grey in colour and shiny. According to her, it looked like a boat that had turned upside down. A lady who lives by the corner of Loch Ness has claimed to have seen the monster 13 times. Even though Nessie’s existence has never been proven scientifically, nor have any claims of her sighting been made for decades, the mysterious charm attached to Loch Ness has still not dissipated. The work of the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition is very instrumental in that. Its displays relating to the famous ‘beastie’ and the surrounding area really add to the tourist-y charm of Loch Ness.

Loch Ness has been associated with occultism and mystery forever. In the seventeenth century, a devious black wizard had raised the dead in the Boleskine Graveyard near Loch Ness. The Minister of the parish was tasked with putting the re-animated bodies back in their grave. Famous occultist and black magician Aleister Crowley lived in the Boleskine House on the south-western side of the Loch Ness. At one point of time, Crowley was infamously known as the ‘wickedest man in the world’. He had claimed to do a lot of black magic rituals which had left the house filled with demons and creatures from beyond. Crowley himself said that his black magic had gone ‘out of control’ in the Boleskine house. In his book, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, he said that “in order to perform the operations the first essential is a house in a more or less secluded situation. There should be a door opening to the north from the room of which you make your oratory. Outside this door, you construct a terrace covered with fine river sand. This ends in a ‘lodge’ where the spirits may congregate.” The ritual’s purpose was to summon a person’s ‘guardian angel’. Crowley’s lodge-keeper Hugh Gillies suffered an incredible amount of personal tragedies during his stay at the Boleskine house, including the death of two of his children. Crowley described the Boleskine house as follows: “It was long low building. I set apart the south-western half for my work. The largest room has a bow window and here I made my door and constructed the terrace and lodge. Inside the room I set up my oratory proper. This was a wooden structure, lined in part with the big mirrors which I brought from London”. Crowley left the house in 1913 and moved to a much more modest cottage near Falkirk.

After a string of lesser known owners, the Boleskine house received its next famous owner in the year 1970. Jimmy Page, guitarist of the legendary band Led Zeppelin, who was also extremely interested in Aleister Crowley’s life and work, bought the Boleskine house at the shores of Loch Ness. Page felt that the house’s alleged ‘possessed and haunted’ atmosphere would be a great place to write songs. However, after restoring the house, Page didn’t spend much time in it and it was left under the care of his friend Malcolm Dent. He claimed to have experienced a lot of paranormal activities inside the house throughout his stay, including the ‘worst night of his life’.

Loch Ness and its mythical legends have forever tantalised a lot of hard rock and heavy metal artists over the years. Legendary British heavy metal band Judas Priest released a 13 minute long epic song titled Lochness in their 2004 album Angel of Retribution.

Engaging tales of monsters and madmen aside, Loch Ness is extremely beautiful, especially around the beautiful ruins of Urquhart Castle on its shoreline. Loch Ness stretches along the Great Glen, a fault line where the collision of tectonic plates created the surrounding mountains. With a depth of 755 feet, Loch Ness is Scotland’s second deepest loch. Loch Ness and its surrounding attractions are not very far from Scotland’s major cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh and can be reached on day tours from either city.

Here are the eight best things to see and do around Loch Ness.

1. Nessie: The world famous legend of the Loch Ness monster

St. Columba, an Irish missionary, is said to have been the first person to encounter the oldest inhabitant of Loch Ness, when the monster dragged the (soon-to-be) saint into the impenetrable depths. Afterwards, during the 16th century, Hector Boece wrote in The History of Scotland that a “terrible being” had suddenly emerged from the waters of Loch Ness and swallowed three men alive.

It took very long for the next recorded sighting to take place. Over 300 years actually. The next Nessie sighting happened in 1933 when a couple sitting on the north bank saw a strange, writhing creature cross the road right in front of them. A number of snapshots and eyewitness reports followed, not to mention a growing stream of visitors. Most descriptions say it resembles a large sea reptile with a long neck, a small head, fins, and several humps. Alex Campbell, a water bailiff for the Loch Ness and a part-time journalist, published an article about the Loch Ness monster in 1933. The article was titled Strange Spectacles in Loch Ness. In the year 2017, The Courier published an excerpt from that article: “The creature disported itself, rolling and plunging for fully a minute, its body resembling that of a whale, and the water cascading and churning like a simmering cauldron. Soon, however, it disappeared in a boiling mass of foam. Both onlookers confessed that there was something uncanny about the whole thing, for they realised that here was no ordinary denizen of the depths, because, apart from its enormous size, the beast, in taking the final plunge, sent out waves that were big enough to have been caused by a passing steamer.”

The most well known and circulated picture of Nessiteras Rhombopteryx (yes, the mythical Nessie also has a zoological name) came from the lens of London based gynaecologist Robert Wilson. It was on April 19th, 1934, when Dr. Wilson reported seeing ‘something in the water’ and took a snap. In the picture, the long neck of a monstrous creature had just emerged from the ice-cold water. It was later revealed that that Wilson belonged to a team who had set out to play a trick on the media.

Shortly before his death in 1993, Christian Spurling, one of the “conspirators,” admitted his part in the great deception. According to the Sunday Times, Spurling, an amateur woodworker, had rigged up a dinosaur dummy on a toy submarine. The ruse worked perfectly.

Very recently, scientists have speculated that the Loch Ness monster is probably a giant eel which resides in the waters.

2. The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition

Exhibits at the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition use audio-visual techniques and static displays to recount the evolutionary history of the region and its famed Loch Ness Monster. You can read up on the latest developments in the search for the monster and see depictions, newspaper headlines, and underwater photos. The most interesting display focuses on Operation Deepscan in 1987 and includes sonar readings from the murky waters of Loch Ness. The images seem to confirm the existence of something down there, and the study certainly didn’t rule out the existence of the beloved monster.

The center also features a café and gift shop, as well as a small hotel, and offers regular boat trips on the Deepscan research vessel itself for those interested in learning more about the monster and the loch while enjoying the spectacular scenery. Another monster-related exhibit is at the nearby theme park, Nessieland.

3. The Urquhart Castle

The impressive and romantic ruins of Urquhart Castle are located just a few minutes from the village of Drumnadrochit. The ruins of the old castle stand on a tongue of land jutting out into the waters of the Loch Ness. The castle has a beautiful backdrop of the Loch Ness lake and mountain. It was once one of Scotland’s largest and strongest fortifications. Today, it is the centre of many ancient myths. Dating from the 12th century, it was a typical example of a motte and bailey fortification, but in the 14th century, stone walls replaced the original wooden structure.

In the year 1509, James IV bequeathed the formidable castle to John Grant of Freuchie, who commissioned an extension to the castle’s keep. Unfortunately, at the end of the 17th century, the fortified and formidable castle fell victim to a fire and suffered heavy damages.

The Urquhart Castle often makes appearances on TV shows and movies. It was recently featured in an episode of the hit Outlander series. Visitors to the Urquhart Castle also have the option to enjoy on-site facilities such as a café, gift shop, and stunning views of the loch.

4. Fort Augustus

Fort Augustus, at the south end of Loch Ness, is a favourite spot for tourists for its picturesque setting on the Caledonian Canal. One of the top free things to do here is simply sitting alongside the water and watching the boats head out into the loch. Don’t forget to pop into the interesting Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre. It provides plenty of detail regarding the construction and subsequent history of this major feat of engineering.

The fortress gave the place its name and was built in 1715 to become the headquarters of the English General Wade in 1729. After changing hands a number of times, the greater part of it was demolished in 1876. Benedictine monks have since built an abbey and a highly regarded school on the site. Another nearby attraction is the magnificent waterfall at Foyers.

5. Spean Bridge

A little to the south of Loch Ness is the road to the village of Spean Bridge, offering splendid panoramas of the Caledonian fault and the northern side of Ben Nevis. Spean Bridge makes an excellent base for walks through the Glen Roy National Nature Reserve, with its “Parallel Roads,” as the terraces that run along the slope are called. These indicate the various water levels of a Pleistocene lake that was dammed by Ice Age glaciers. It’s also where you’ll find the Commando Memorial, a monument dedicated to the men of the British Commando Forces who trained at nearby Achnacarry Castle.

6. Loch Oich and Invergarry

The small and cute islands in Loch Oich to the south of Loch Lomond (yes the famous Scottish Whiskey which Captain Haddock loved in The Adventures of Tintin is named after this loch) are set against a backdrop of steep hillsides and make a wonderfully picturesque sight. On the west bank of the loch near a spring known as Tobar nan Ceann stands a remarkable memorial to a bloody incident that took place in the 17th century. Here, seven brothers were executed by beheading for the deaths of two members of the Keppoch family. Their severed heads were washed in the spring before being presented to the clan chief.

Invergarry is another good base for hill walkers and hikers. It is also a popular centre for anglers as well as horseback treks through remote Highland glens and mountain passes.

7. The Caledonian Canal

The Caledonian fault has been used for transport since Thomas Telford completed the Caledonian Canal in 1849 (after commissioning work in 1803). Stretching from Fort William and ending in the east at the town of Inverness, the canal spared ships from the hazardous northern route through the Pentland Firth between the Scottish mainland and the islands of the Orkneys.

Only a third of the Caledonian canal’s length is man-made, the major part of it consists of narrow lochs including Loch Linnhe; Loch Lochy; the small Loch Oich; and then the longest (and best-known), the 24-mile-long Loch Ness. When everything is taken into account, the canal (including lochs) extends to a distance 60 miles and passes through 29 locks, the most impressive group of which are the eight locks of Neptune’s Staircase. Today, it’s the leisure industry that makes the most use of the canal. Tourists in rental boats and canoes can be seen enjoying the magnificent scenery all along the waterway.

8. The Village of Drumnadrochit

At the head of Urquhart Bay on Loch Ness’s northern shore, the village of Drumnadrochit is a great place to start your exploration of Scotland’s most famous and mysterious lake. Aside from the many myths and legends of the Loch Ness, tourists can also explore the romantic ruins of the Urquhart Castle. You’ll find plenty of things to do here. In addition to guesthouses, bed-and-breakfasts, cafés, and gift shops, it’s home to the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, which tells the fascinating story of the loch’s most famous resident, Nessie.

It’s also a great place to take a boat cruiseto do some ‘monster spotting’ for yourself, go fishing, or simply enjoy the loch’s stunning scenery. The hard-to-pronounce village also serves as an extremely popular spot for horse riding and pony trekking excursions across the glorious Scottish Highlands.

10 Best Things to Do in the Cotswolds

One of the most naturally beautiful parts of the United Kingdom, the gorgeous Cotswolds stretch between just south of Stratford-upon-Avon and slightly south of Bath: making it an area of substantial size and giving every traveller a lot of things to do. The boundaries of the beautiful counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Worcestershire and Warwickshire are covered under the Cotswold region. The Cotswolds are characterized by cute little small towns and villages built using the Cotswold stone (which gives the region its name). The Cotswolds are designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (check out the pictures below and you will know why). The entire region is filled with rolling green hills, miniature canals, chocolate box cottages, low priced hotels and a really high standard of produce to tantalise everybody’s taste buds. So, if that’s got your travelling juices flowing, check out

The 10 best things to do in the Cotswolds:

1. Abbey House Gardens

Abbey House Gardens

Located in Malmesbury, the oldest town of England, the Abbey House Gardens are a privately owned country house garden.
The Abbey House Gardens are open daily between the months of April and September. The Abbey House Gardens are one of the chief attractions of the ancient Iron Age town of Malmesbury. The Abbey House Gardens are a Grade I listed building, and were extensively renovated during Tudor times. The public admission fee of £8 is for seeing the gardens rather than the house itself. The owners of the Abbey House Gardens are keen gardeners and naturists themselves. The owners also hold several ‘Clothing Optional’ days throughout the year. If you and your family are not used to nudity or easily offended, do check on this before visiting the Abbey House Gardens or you might end up seeing way more than you bargained for. Once you are done with the sightseeing, you can enjoy the delicious refreshments at the Coy Carp Cafe. The cafe is named so because visitors can enjoy their cup of tea while feeding a vast number of fish at the same time.

2. The Wild Rabbit

 The Wild Rabbit

This extremely fancy pub with rooms is located in Chipping Norton. The Wild Rabbit is designed to be a cosy inn which serves as a home away from home. The rooms are extremely luxurious and the popular restaurant serves a delectable selection of Daylesford-farmed produce. Equipped with roaring fireplaces, organic food menu and soft Egyptian-cotton bedlinen, the Wild Rabbit checks on all the boxes for a quintessential posh English pub.

3. Westonbirt Arboretum

Westonbirt Arboretum

One of the most famous and important arboretums in the UK, the Westonbirt Arboretum forms part of a Grade I listed site on the register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest. Located just three miles from Tetbury, the Westonbirt Arboretum was established during Victorian times. Co-incidentally, the Westonbirt Arboretum backs right onto Prince Charles’s Highgrove Estate. The Westonbirt Arboretum is spread over 600 acres and contains over 18,000 trees and shrubs. It’s divided into two sections, ‘The Old Arboretum’ and ‘Silk Wood’. The Silk Wood is a traditional woodland, and the Old Arboretum is meticulously designed with stately avenues lined with rare and exotic trees. The Old Arboretum also features an illuminated trail which runs through it every December as a part of the Christmas celebrations. The Westonbirt Arboretum is beautiful across all four seasons and has something beautiful to offer for tourists throughout the year. Admission charges are £8 for adults.

4. Arlington Row

Arlington Row

Located in Bibury, Arlington Row has been described as ‘the most beautiful village in England’ by William Morris. No trip to the Cotswolds can be complete without visiting the Arlington Row. It is easily one of the most photographed sites in England. This row of 14th century stone cottages is quintessential Cotswolds.

5. Stow-on-the-Wold

Stow-on-the-Wold

Located right in the heart of the Cotswolds, Stow-on-the-Wold is a historic, picture-perfect and quintessentially Cotswolds town. It is very well known for having some of the UK’s very best antique shops. This cute and abundantly characterful town was once very well renowned for its wool trade. The town’s large market square used to feature up to 20,000 sheep being sold at one point of time. When in Stow-on-the-Wold, don’t forget to check out St. Edwards Church. It is very famous for it’s gorgeous north door, which is flanked by two ancient yew trees. It’s not hard to believe the rumour that this Fairytale-esque feature inspired Tolkien’s ‘Doors of Durin’ in Lord of the Rings. With a surprising number of superb delis and restaurants for such a small town, The Old Butchers is the local favourite. As the name suggests, it’s a former butchers and now restaurant, serving meat and seafood in equal measure.

6. Bourton-on-the-water

Bourton-on-the-water

A perennial feature on the ‘prettiest villages in Britain’ list, Bourton-on-the-Water is worth the detour to see its lovely high street with the beautiful river Windrush running through it. Cute little arched stone bridges run across the river, and a lit Christmas tree is erected in the middle of the river during December. Get those waterside selfies in and check out the nearby Dragonfly Maze (an elaborate hedge maze). Birdland Park and Gardens lie down the road, for every penguin or parrot fan. The gorgeous village also holds a cute farmer’s market on the fourth Sunday of each month.

7. Soho Farmhouse

Soho Farmhouse

Situated at Great Tew, near Chipping Norton, the Soho Farmhouse is a gorgeous member’s club spread across Oxfordshire’s scenic 100 acres countryside. Fortunately you don’t have to actually be a Soho House member to stay at this glorious farmhouse. ‘Farmhouse’ probably gives the wrong idea – with a Cowshed spa, onsite country pub, boathouse (with indoor and outdoor pools on a lake), multiple restaurants, cookery school, farmshop, kitchen garden and cinema, this is more of a luxurious resort. If the weather permits, you can go horse riding, play tennis, or go rowing. If it’s raining, huddle up by the log fire in the main barn, with a stiff drink to get you warmer. The hotel accommodation ranges from studio cabins (complete with little wood burners and porches) to bell tents, or even an entire farm house.

8. Kelmscott Manor

Kelmscott Manor

Located in Kelmscott, the Kelmscott Manor is the Cotswolds retreat of William Morris, his friends and family. Famous British textile designer (among numerous other things) William Morris loved Kemscott Manor so much that his wife purchased it after his death in 1896. His daughter May spent much of her adult life there, and the entire family is buried in the grounds of nearby St. George’s Church. Morris drew inspiration from Kelmscott Manor for many of his famous and significant designs and writings. With its beautiful gardens, barns, meadow and stream, it’s not difficult to understand Morris’s attachment to the house. The Kelmscott Manor is filled with furniture, original textiles, pictures and paintings, ceramics and metalwork. Fans of Morris’s distinctive textile designs will love the gift shop (pick up a cushion or throw blanket) and there’s an onsite tearoom, too. The Kelmscott Manor is must-see for Pre-Raphaelite aficionados.

9. Tisanes Tea Rooms

Tisanes Tea Rooms

Located in Broadway, Tisanes Tea Rooms are inside a gorgeous 17th century stone building. In the modern world of Starbucks, traditional English tearooms are few and far between. Fortunately, the Tisanes Tea Rooms is an old fashioned Cotswolds establishment that will transport you straight back to the 1940s (minus the war). The Broadway setting is as picturesque as one might expect, and the menu is comfortingly classic (well-priced, too). Pick up a cured ham sandwich, a scone and jam and choose from an extensive array of over 30 different teas during your visit to the Cotswolds. While in the area, pop into The Gordon Russell Museum. Celebrating the work of the renowned furniture designer, the museum was opened in 2008 by Sir Terence Conran and is housed in the original Grade II listed drawing office and workshop. The shop has a spectacular collection of work by local craftsmen, including (but not limited to) stylish home furnishings.

10. Whichford

Whichford

The gorgeous village of Whichford and its surrounding area is home to loads of magical brews, salvage yards and a pottery workshop. Visit the family-run Whichford Pottery to dine at their cosy café and pick up a hand-thrown, frost-proof flower pot. If you have some time on your hands and fancy making a day of the visit, walk a few minutes down the road to check out Cox’s Architectural Salvage Yard after Whichford Pottery. Be prepared to be pleasantly surprised with bargain finds, like Belfast sinks, reclaimed floor boards and quirky reclaimed bathroom fittings. Finish your day off with a trip to the local Cotswolds Distillery for a tour, tasting or to pick up a bottle of gin, whisky or (for the truly daring ones) absinthe.

PCP (Personal Contract Purchase Finance) – All You Need to Know

A Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) deal is essentially a loan to help people own a car. However, unlike a general personal loan, buyers don’t have to pay off the entire value of the car and they don’t automatically own it at the end of the deal unless they choose to do so.

What is PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) finance?

As far as purchasing a car goes, a Personal Contract Purchase is among the more complex financial products available in the market. However, understanding it can be made simple by breaking it down into three main parts:

1.The Deposit (approximately  10% of the car’s price) – Dealers offering PCP finance usually ask for something like 10% of the car’s sticker price as a deposit. Many car manufacturers have finance arms that offer valuable ‘deposit contributions’ of £500-£2,000 or more while buying a new car when you take their cars. For example, VW Finance offers £1,000 as a deposit for buyers looking to buy new VW cars through PCP finance schemes. The larger the deposit, the less the buyers need to borrow. 

2. The Amount Borrowed – The amount borrowed is based on the finance company’s prediction about the car’s loss in value throughout the term of the deal (usually 24 or 36 months), excluding the deposit paid up front. Buyers pay this amount off during the deal, along with the interest. APRs are usually in the range of 4%-7%.

3. The Balloon Payment (a balancing payment made by buyers in case they want to own the car)- It’s  also referred to as the Guaranteed Minimum Future Value (GMFV). The balloon payment is the amount that the dealer expects the car to be worth once the PCP finance deal ends. The value is decided at the start of the deal. It’s not mandatory to pay this in all scenarios. However, if the buyer wants to keep the car at the end of the deal, the balloon payment needs to be made.

Pro tip: Be careful with 0% deals – they usually end up being be too good to be true. Take the 0% deals with a pinch of salt, as the dealers providing such schemes usually look somewhere else to recover their losses. A few examples of that include inflated balloon payments or increased ticket price of the cars themselves. So, instead of offering a ‘discount’ on the actual ticket price of the car, dealers will price it higher for the ‘0% finance deals’.

How does PCP finance actually work?

As it is with most things, it’s best to explain using an example.

Let’s consider a situation where you’ve signed up for a PCP of three years to buy a car whose ticket price is £20,000. After paying a deposit of £2,000, the finance company will calculate that the car will be worth at least £8,000 at the end of three years. Here’s how the calculations will look :

To ‘borrow’ the car, you will need to pay these:
Deposit: £2,000
Loan: £8,000 (£10,000-£2,000) plus interest 
Total: £10,000 plus interest

To buy the car, you will need to pay these:
Deposit: £2,000
Loan: £8,000 (£10,000-£2,000) plus interest
Balloon payment: £10,000
Total: £20,000 plus interest

While buying the car at the end of the deal is an option, it’s not the only option. Let’s take a look at the options that buyers have when they take a PCP finance plan.

1. Pay the balloon payment and buy the car –  By paying the balloon payment, you can own the car straightaway. However, most finance companies usually charge an additional fee in that scenario.

2. Return the car and walk away at the end of the deal – Once it’s done, buyers don’t need to pay anything extra (aside from some additional charges such as over-mileage and damage charges).

3. Move on to a new car – Most people availing a PCP deal choose this option. When the PCP deal ends, the car will be worth slightly more than the balloon payment made earlier. In such cases, dealers usually ask buyers if they want to use that ‘equity’ in the form of a deposit on a new PCP deal for a brand new car. For example, if the car’s actual value at the end of the deal is £9,000 and the balloon payment made by the buyer was £8,000, the difference of £1,000 that could be used as a deposit to roll into another deal for another car.

However, the difference in value is never paid out in cash and buyers have to move on to another deal if they want to avail it. However, buyers can buy that car and sell it in the used car market to make some money.

You don’t have to worry about the car being worth less than the balloon payment – that is if it’s lost more value than was expected at the start of the deal. In such a scenario, buyers can just hand the car back and the finance company will have to deal with the depreciation.

Under a PCP finance scheme, what are the charges for handing/trading the car back in?

As mentioned earlier, buyers can face charges if they hand the car back, whether that’s trading it in, or just handing it back and walking away. There are two main types of charges, but both are avoidable:

Over-mileage charges – At the time of the start of a PCP deal, buyers are asked to specify how much they are planning to drive the car every year. This helps the dealer accurately assess the car’s worth at the end of the deal and set the balloon payment value for the customer. A car that’s done thousands of miles will be worth a lot less than a car that’s only done a few hundred.

Going over the agreed mileage limit carries a heavy penalty and it’s very important to be accurate with your predictions at the time of making the deal. Finance companies charge 7p-10p for every mile you are over the predicted mileage. Watch out for this, as 1,000 miles over the expected mileage will see you shelling out £100 at the end of the deal.

Damage charges – Just like when you rent a car, the finance company will check it for damage when you hand it back. While a normal amount of wear and tear because of usage is acceptable, a car which looks like it has been wrecked, will carry heavy penalties. So minor scratches might be fine, but deep dents will require you to shell out your own cash for repairs.

You can avoid these charges by agreeing to a sensible mileage, and treating the car well. If there’s damage, it’s worth going to an approved service centre to see if it’ll cost less to fix than the finance company will charge. In such a scenario, you are better getting it fixed yourself.

The final way to avoid these charges is to buy the car – though that’s not really the most financially sound thing to do.

What are the pros and cons of a PCP finance scheme?

Pros:

  • You get to drive and use a new car for lower monthly repayments than what you might need to pay for a personal loan or hire purchase.
  • You won’t have to worry about the future trade-in or resale value of the car in the used car market. No matter the depreciation, the lender will guarantee that your car will be worth a minimum sum at the end of the deal.
  • It’s flexible. You’ve several options at the end of it – you can even buy the car if you like.
  • Dealers usually provide service and maintenance packages, warranties and insurance for you to get the total cost of motoring down to just one payment each month.
  • A PCP finance scheme may be able to help you buy a more expensive car than you can afford by virtue of the affordable monthly payments.
  • PCP deals are usually only offered on new or nearly-new cars, so you won’t have to worry about ending up with a rickety old tub which spends more time getting repaired than being driven.

Cons:

  • You won’t own the car during the contract period (though this is the same for almost all dealer finance agreements) – and will only own it at the end if you pay the balloon payment.
  • In the case of the predicted minimum future value being set very close to the actual value of the car, buyers will have little to no equity leftover to roll onto another deal for a new car. In that case, buyers will have to get your hands on a deposit for a replacement car elsewhere.
  • Extra charges of 7-10p per mile if you go over the agreed set mileage.
  • While the future value is fixed at the start of the deal, it is however, dependent on keeping the car in a (realistically) pristine situation. Anything that falls beyond the scope of normal wear and tear will be charged out of your pocket.

Where to get PCP deals from?

When it comes to getting PCP deals, there are two main methods. The most common one is to get the PCP finance through the dealership you’re buying your car from. However, before you approach your dealer for a PCP finance scheme, it would make sense to look through a few online brokers  who have some decent offers for buyers looking for a PCP finance deal. Even if you don’t buy it straightaway, knowing about your options will help you compare the prices available to you.

Dealer finance:

Also known as forecourt finance, or just car finance, dealer finance is a service offered by almost every car dealership across the UK. PCP finance is also one of the options offered by most dealers. Across the UK, there are three main types of car dealerships: franchised (tied to one or more manufacturers like BMW garages), independent (not tied to any particular brand) and car supermarkets.

Getting a PCP through the manufacturer’s finance arm

When it comes to franchised dealership, most PCP finance (and other) deals are usually arranged through the car finance arm of a car manufacturer. A few such examples are  Ford Credit and Volvo Financial Services. While buying a new car, it’s definitely advisable to look at what the dealerships have to offer on for you. If they have the right PCP finance deal, take it.

If this is the case, it’s not uncommon for the manufacturer to give £500-£2,000 to you as a deposit contribution, and also offer 0% finance. If you don’t qualify for 0% finance, you’ll usually get an advertised APR offer of between 4% to 7%; though this is representative, so if you have a poorer credit history, you could be offered a much higher rate.

It’s worth saying that if you know you want to own the car at the end of the deal, PCP will give you low monthly payments, but if you include the balloon payment that will be required at the end, PCPs usually end up being more expensive than a personal car loan or hire purchase.

Getting a PCP through an independent dealership or car supermarket

A lot of independent dealerships and car supermarkets get their finances done from the consumer arms of big banks. This allows them to offer the same range of deals as the dealers who are tied to manufacturers. Blackhorse (part of Lloyds) and Santander Consumer Finance, for example, supply finance deals to non-franchised dealerships.

These finance providers aren’t tied to manufacturers, and therefore can’t offer the heavily subsidised 0% finance or deposit contributions that the car companies’ finance arms can on their PCP deals. When you visit such dealerships, you can expect a representative APR ranging between 5% and 10%. It can even be more than that if your credit record is bad.

It’s a competitive market out there – check what’s available online and from dealers, and ask yourself what you can really afford. It’s vital that you calculate whether you can afford the repayments before you commit to a PCP finance deal. It might end up becoming very expensive and more than what you had bargained for in the end.

Online financers:

Financeacar.co.uk – The Financeacar.co.uk site is one of the easier car sites to use. It’s a one-stop shop that allows you to select a car make and model, then the sort of finance you’re looking for, then to configure the car, and finally get a quote for how much it will cost based on your credit record. This company’s deals typically range between 8% and 10% rep APR.

Carfinance247 – As one of the UK’s biggest car finance brokers, Carfinance247 helps you find a deal that is tailored exactly to your budget. For this to work, buyers need to source their cars from a dealer based in the UK. Once that is completed, carfinance247 can find the perfect PCP deal for you.

It has different deals depending on your credit score, with rates starting from 5.8% APR (12.2% rep APR) and going up to 30% APR for people with a bad credit history. This is a high APR and you should see if you could get cheaper credit elsewhere, or find a different way to access a car before signing up to deals with such high interest costs.

Zuto – Broker site Zuto allows anyone to apply for car finance with it, but is especially good if you’d find it difficult to get finance elsewhere, for example, the self-employed, or people with a poorer credit history.

The rate you’ll get depends on how good your credit history is. If it’s excellent, rates are available from 9.9% rep APR. But, poor credit scorers could end up being charged 34.3% APR. Again, like the above, this is a really high APR, so always check you can’t get cheaper credit elsewhere, or find another way to get a car.

Carzu – When it comes to getting a broker to look after the process of searching for the right car, as well as finding the right finance scheme for your budget, Carzu is definitely one of the better options available (Carzu can also be used just for finance). APRs depend on the amount you might want to borrow. However, rates in general start from 4.8% rep APR.

Halifax Bank – Although not an online broker, Halifax offers a Flex Car Plan PCP deal, which provides a similar service, although it’s only for its current account customers at the moment. As with the other financing methods here, Halifax will send the cash straight to the dealer you’re buying from. This means it will therefore own the car until the end of the deal. Halifax’ Flex Car plan has a 3.4% representative APR.

MC Wiley Calls Ed Sheeran and Drake ‘Culture Vultures’ on BBC’s 1Xtra

MC Wiley, who is famously known as the ‘Godfather of Grime’ has suddenly taken up arms against global superstars Ed Sheeran and Drake. Wiley appeared on BBC’s 1Xtra and pulled no punches in his criticism of Sheeran and Drake. However, Wiley is well known for engaging in such endeavours whenever he is about to release a new album.

Speaking to the 1Xtra’s host Dotty, Wiley started off by quoting one of Sheeran’s most successful songs: “I’m mad at Ed Sheeran because he said ‘You need me man, I don’t need you’.

But Ed, the other day mate, you had to use grime to tip your song over the edge.”

Wiley was referencing the remix to Take Me Back to London – which was produced by fabled grime producer and DJ Sir Spyro and featured famous grime artists such as Stormzy, Jaykae and Aitch. The Ed Sheeran remix also reached number one on the chart.

Wiley continued his angry rant: “Listen, we helped that guy get into the picture. I done something for him – ‘You’. It’s on his album, isn’t it? So when I went to do my one I was told, ‘You can’t do this, Ed can’t do the video. You can’t use Ed’, basically.

“He didn’t want to stand up to his label – he folded.

“I knew life wasn’t fair, but I didn’t know it was this unfair.

“Everyone thinks I’m mad. I’m not mad. I’m not mad – Ed Sheeran knows what I’m talking about.”

He added: “When Ed wants to do something that’s OK. But when we want to do something with Ed? We can’t.”

Wiley also went on to mention the numerous artists whose songs Ed Sheeran has allegedly ripped off to become one of the biggest music artists in the world today. Wiley said: “Listen, Ed Sheeran – you are a culture vulture and I’m not listening to you anymore. I’ve listened to you rip off Marvin Gaye, I’ve listened to you rip off everything. I see you do a tune the other day with Justin Bieber that sounds like a tune from Sting. No-one is not saying nothing about that though. So I’m not listening. I’m finished with these people. I swear to God.”

BBC Top Gear Co-Host Freddie Flintoff Returns to Filming After Horrific Crash

Top Gear co-host and former English International Cricketer Freddie Flintoff suffered a horrific crash while shooting a drag race for the show’s upcoming 28th season. However, despite the apparent severity of the crash, Flintoff emerged unscathed and has returned to the set for filming.

Freddie Flintoff has assured fans that he is completely fine after being involved in a devastating accident on set.

The horrific crash happened while Flintoff was driving a super-powered Time Bandit during a drag race for an upcoming segment at the Elvington Airfield earlier this week. Flintoff went over the limit as he overshot the runway and skidded on the grass nearby.

The Mirror reported that Flintoff was examined by the medical team inside an on-set ambulance and he was cleared to resume filming the show on Wednesday.

Flintoff opened up about the crash. He said: “I’m absolutely fine and was back filming today. I go to great lengths to make sure I do well in Top Gear drag races but on this occasion I went a few lengths too far.

When asked about how dangerously close he was to a major accident, Flintoff said: “It will look more ridiculous than dangerous when you see it on TV.”

Co-incidentally, Elvington Airfield is the same place where former Top Gear and current Grand Tour presenter Richard Hammond suffered his horrific accident in 2006. Hammond was driving a jet-powered car at 288 miles per hour when he lost control and the car overturned and tumbled on the grass around the runway. Hammond’s injuries were severe, including brain damage. However, he made a complete recovery and returned to the show. In his own words, the only difference in Hammond’s life as a result of the accident was the fact that he ‘liked celery after the crash and he didn’t before’.

Hammond went on to have another serious crash in 2017 when he drove his Rimac supercar off the side of a hill in Switzerland. Luckily, he survived that too.

A spokesperson from the BBC also spoke about Flintoff’s crash: “As viewers of the recent series will have seen, Freddie is often keen to get ‘off the beaten track’

Tuesday’s filming at Elvington Airfield was no exception – but he suffered no injuries as a result of his spontaneous detour, as fans will see for themselves when we show the sequence in full in the next series.

Top Gear returns with a Christmas Special later this year. The regular 28th season will follow the special.

York Minster is Selling Historic Organ Pipes for Raising Refurbishment Funds

The York Minster’s grand organ’s pipes are being auctioned online to raise funds for the instrument’s refurbishment. The refurbishment cost is expected to be around £2 million and the auction is expected to generate enough money for it.

The grand organ’s 30 pipes date from the early part of the 19th century. They were constructed when a new organ was built after the old one was destroyed in a church arson attack. The pipes have stayed silent for over the last 100 years though.

When the “once-in-a-century” refurbishment is complete, 70 pipes of the grand organ will be restored and it will be back in ‘musical use’.

The grand organ’s case has had pipes around it since 1832 and the initial attempt was to repair and refurbish all of them. However, 30 pipes were found to be in a state which was beyond repair. The only thing that could be done was replace them with new ones.

The 20 ton organ, along with its 5,043 pipes has been removed from the minster for the repair work. The refurbishment process will include replacement of the organ’s mechanism and general intensive cleaning.

70 pipes are undergoing restoration in a chapel at the minster. Graining and marbling specialists are working hard at it. The restored pipes will also feature distinctive gold, green, red, and cream decorations of the original.

The grand organ will return to the minster early next year and will be back in use by autumn of 2020.

Neil Sanderson, director of the York Minster Fund, said: “The auction is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to own a piece of York Minster’s musical heritage, while supporting the future of organ music at the cathedral throughout the 21st century and beyond.

Although, where possible, we have tried to retain and refurbish the instrument’s original features, unfortunately around 30% of the case pipes were beyond economic repair.

Three of these pipes will be kept in our historic collection as a record of the instrument but the remaining 30 are being offered for auction to raise funds towards the once-a-century refurbishment project.

The auction of the pipes runs until September 27th.

Top 10 Places to Visit in the UK

The United Kingdom (UK) or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland consists of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a host of small islands and territories across the world (Falkland, Tristan da Cunha etc.). The UK is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. The UK is brimming with diverse scenery and extraordinarily rich cultural heritage. The entire country is also filled with world-class art galleries, museums, and wonderfully maintained estates and castles (including a few which are supposedly ‘haunted’).

The beautiful and diverse United Kingdom (UK) is one of the easiest countries to explore and travel through. The country is smaller than the American state of Texas and the entirety of it can be covered by basing yourself in a major city like London or Liverpool. The country has an extensive network of motorways and a very good railway service which can be used for exploration with ease.

A quick, 90 minute train ride is all it takes to go from the modern metropolis of London to the old charm of Salisbury. A short bus ride from Salisbury takes tourists to one of UK’s most well renowned attractions, the Stonehenge. And if you want to travel through William Wallace’s Scotland, a one hour train ride is all it takes to travel between Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland’s two largest cities.

So without further ado, here are the

10 best places to visit in the UK:

1. London: The Capital and the Heart of the UK

While you may be able plan a trip to the UK without visiting London, it’s definitely NOT advisable to do so. The UK’s sprawling and beautiful capital boasts plenty of attractions to keep all kinds of tourists busy. For those interested in learning more about the UK’s rich history, one of the top things to do in London is to visit the Tower of London. It is located very close to the world famous and spectacular Tower Bridge on the banks of the River Thames. This former palace and prison includes highlights such as the iconic 1,000-year-old White Tower, with its fascinating displays of armour and weaponry, and the Jewel House, home to the Crown Jewels of the British Monarchy.

Fans of Britain’s Royal Family will want to head to the fabled Buckingham Palace, London’s Royal home since the reign of Queen Victoria I. Once at the Buckingham palace, you can enjoy the colourful pomp of the Changing of the Guard or even take a tour of the Palace’s State Rooms (be sure to book in advance as they’re only open for a few weeks in a year).

Whitehall Road is another must-see in London. On this legendary street, tourists can see London’s iconic landmarks such as the Big Ben and the Parliament Buildings, as well as Westminster Abbey, scene of many a royal wedding. Another area to visit in London is South Kensington, home to the city’s best museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum, as well as the incredibly famous Harrods department store (supposedly the largest of its kind in the world). And no trip to London can be complete without a visit to the Trafalgar Square, home to the iconic Nelson’s Column and the National Portrait Gallery.

2. Edinburgh: Capital of Scotland

No trip to the UK can be complete without stepping foot in one of Scotland’s most attractive cities, the capital city of Edinburgh. It is one of the UK’s most visited destinations. While it has many well-preserved historic buildings, the city of Edinburgh is best known as the home of the majestic and glorious Edinburgh Castle. Perched high above the old city on a rocky promontory, the highlights of this 13th-century royal fortress include things and events such as the famous One O’Clock Salute, held daily at Half Moon Battery; the Scottish Crown Jewels in the Royal Palace; the Scottish National War Memorial; and the famous Stone of Destiny (the Stone of Scone), which only came back to Scotland after a 700 years stay in the English capital of London.

Once tourists reach the castle, they can easily explore the other famous and important historic sites in the city. The most notable among them is  the Old Town’s Royal Mile with its fine architecture, boutique shops, cafés, restaurants, and amazing art galleries. Aside from that, there is also the beautiful Palace of Holyroodhouse. Other highlights in Edinburgh include the broad Princes Street. It’s  popular for its shopping and dining options. It is also famous for the Royal Botanical Garden and the National Gallery of Scotland.

3. Medieval Salisbury and Ancient Stonehenge

The Stonehenge is one of the oldest sites on UNESCO’s revered ‘World Heritage Sites’ list. For all residents of the British Isles, the Stonehenge has been a place of pilgrimage for more than 4,500 years. It was believed to have been erected as a place of worship, but these days, the crowds consist of tourists drawn by the sheer scale of this magnificent monument to mankind’s ingenuity. It is also considered to be one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Stonehenge’s sprawling site covers an area of more than 20 square kilometres and boasts a state-of-the-art visitor centre. The centre offers a fascinating glimpse into the construction and history of Stonehenge. It will help if you can plan ahead and purchase a timed ticket for the day of your visit.

16 kilometres south of Stonehenge, is the beautiful medieval city of Salisbury. While in Salisbury, you can visit one of the UK’s most famous cathedrals, dating back to 1220 and home to an original Magna Carta. Afterwards, you can also wander around the old city centre with its numerous beautiful churches and historic medieval architecture.

4. Historic Town of Windsor

The historic town of Windsor, is just a short train ride to the west of London. It offers a plethora of fun things to do for all types of tourists. In addition to the spectacular Windsor Castle, the most famous of the UK’s royal castles, the town of Windsor also has a lovely Thames-side setting and many medieval half-timbered buildings along its quaint old cobblestone laneways.

The Windsor castle has served as the summer residence of British royalty for almost a thousand years (it was built by William the Conqueror in 1078) and is the world’s largest inhabited castle. Highlights of the castle include the splendid State Apartments with the Queen’s Gallery and dining hall, each feature magnificently painted ceilings and woodcarvings. The castle also features the St. George’s Chapel, famous as the home of the Knights and Ladies of the ancient Order of the Garter.

When you’ve had your fill of these historic buildings, you can head out and explore the castle’s large and beautiful grounds, which extend for almost 10 kilometres from one end to another. Here you can enjoy some truly memorable panoramic views over Windsor and its magnificent castle.

Aside from the castle, tourists can also head over to Legoland Windsor, a fun family resort built on 150 acres of parkland and just a short bus ride from the town centre. Royal Ascot, the UK’s most famous horse-racing venue, also lies in Windsor (plan your trip to coincide with the Royal Meeting held each June).

5. Lake district and the Cotswolds

The beautiful Cotswolds are undoubtedly one of the most photographed corners of the UK. Featuring 1,287 square kilometres of pristine and stunning countryside, the Cotswolds are just a day’s trip from London. The Cotswolds are very close to the old towns of Bath and Bristol. The Cotswolds feature some of the most heavenly parts of the counties of Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire.

Your May Like : 10 Best Things to Do in the Cotswolds

Travelers usually visit the Cotswolds to experience a true taste of rural English life. The Cotswolds are filled with many quaint village greens and idyllic pasturelands. One of the most popular ways to soak up all of this natural beauty is via the area’s extensive trail network, including the excellent 16-kilometer-long Cotswold Way. Some other fun things to do are horseback riding and biking, or simply soaking up the history of popular market towns such as Castle Combe or Tetbury.

When you travel north of the Cotswolds, you arrive at another slice of ravishing English countryside. 1,448 square kilometres of spectacular English scenery: the Lake District National Park. Encompassing 12 of the country’s largest lakes (Windermere and Ullswater are the biggest), this region of the UK is great to explore on foot thanks to the fact that it features more than 3,218 kilometres of trails. Highlights include the highest mountain in England, the Scafell Pike, 978 meters above sea level, as well as its many picturesque towns including Grasmere.

6. University towns: Oxford and Cambridge

The UK has long been a centre of learning, with two of its most famous university towns also ranking highly as tourist destinations. An easy commute north of London-and just 128 kilometres apart-Cambridge and Oxford have for centuries been rivals for the title of the country’s top academic establishment. That rivalry is celebrated annually during The Boat Race, the famous rowing event between the teams of both universities. The race takes place each spring on the River Thames.

A planned visit to Cambridge will give tourists a chance to wander the UK’s largest collection of preserved historic buildings. Most of the buildings appear as you take a walk through Cambridge Universitys 31 colleges, the oldest of which was founded in 1284.

In addition to touring the stunning college grounds (only a handful of the university’s buildings offer tours), visitors to Cambridge should also take a punt along the River Cam, as well as explore the old town centre.

Oxford University’s 38 colleges are equally attractive, each set around a quadrangle and several inner courtyards along with chapels, dining halls, libraries, and student accommodations (some offer unique tourist accommodation packages, too). Oxford highlights include the Carfax Tower, with its fine views over the city centre, and the numerous fine old buildings of the town’s High Street.

7. Canterbury

When tourists visit the historic town of Canterbury in Kent, they immediately realise why this beautiful town is so loved by everyone. It’s just an easy hour long train ride from central London (or just minutes away from the EuroTunnel). For over 1,500 years, Canterbury has been a draw for pilgrims. It all started when St. Augustine started converting pagan Anglo Saxons to Christianity here in AD 597.

The city’s most famous attraction is the Canterbury Cathedral. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stunning cathedral offers a plethora of architectural marvels to see.  It features some intricately carved masonry across its exterior and interior. The highlight of the Cathedral is the beautiful choir place with its statues of six English kings. Also of note are the exquisite Miracle Windows, dating from the 12th century and depicting scenes from the life of murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket.

Afterwards, be sure to spend time wandering the pedestrianized area of Old City Canterbury with its many preserved, historic, timber-framed buildings, particularly along Mercery Lane. Other must-sees include the Canterbury Tales, a fascinating look at the life and times of famous English poet Geoffrey Chaucer (aka the “Father of English Literature”), and the amazing Canterbury Roman Museum. The museum is built around the remains of an original Roman townhouse and it features some unique and beautiful mosaic.

8. Lochness and Inverness

Despite the fact that the legends of mythical monsters have largely been debunked (just don’t tell the locals), spectacular Loch Ness remains an extremely popular tourist attraction for travellers heading to Scotland. While it’s unlikely you’ll encounter any monsters, you will, however, be rewarded with seeing some of the UK’s most beautiful scenery.

You May Like : Eight Best Things to Do in and Around Loch Ness

Highlights include the ruins of Urquhart Castle, overlooking the loch, one of Scotland’s largest fortifications (the current structure dates from the 14th century). For those wanting to learn more about the area’s many legends, the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition recounts its history, along with that of its monster, including details of ongoing searches for the elusive creature.

A little farther north is Inverness, which boasts numerous excellent attractions, including Inverness Castle, the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, and the late 19th-century St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

History buffs should also check out the Culloden Battlefield and Visitors Centre. It was in Culloden in 1746 that the English and Scots fought their last battle and where the fate of Scotland as a British dominion was determined. Also of interest are the gravestones of warriors from the Scottish clans, as well as the six-meter-high Memorial Cairn erected in 1881 to commemorate the battle.

9. Manchester and Liverpool

Featuring a spectacular international airport and some of UK’s most internationally renowned sites, Manchester is often the first stop for many visitors planning to explore northern England, Scotland, or Wales. Highlights of Manchester include Castlefield, which is extremely popular for its numerous well-preserved Victorian houses, canals, and Roman ruins, along with numerous old warehouses which now serve as trendy shops, hotels, and restaurants. Other attractions include Manchester Cathedral and the historic Town Hall, as well as a rich cultural scene that includes museums (Museum of Science and Industry), galleries (Manchester Art Gallery), and entertainment (Chinatown). Old Trafford, the home ground of the Manchester United Football Club is a must-see for all football fans.

Just an hour away from Manchester, is the fabled city of Liverpool. The city offers a lot of cultural excitement for tourists. After all, it is the town which gave the world its biggest band ever, The Beatles. All fans of the ‘fab four’ can get their fix of ‘Beatlemania’ in Liverpool. Some famous attractions include Beatles Story in the renovated Albert Docks area; the famous Cavern Club, where the band made its debut in 1961; as well as the former homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney (numerous walking tours and bus tours of Beatles sites are also readily available).

A visit to Liverpool also lets tourists explore the city’s numerous historic buildings. Tourists can also walk through the city’s  lovely gardens and parks. For the art and culture fans, Liverpool is loaded with great museums such as the Merseyside Maritime Museum, the Museum of Liverpool, and world-class art galleries like the Walker Art Galleryand the Tate Gallery.

10. Cardiff: Capital of Wales

Despite its diminutive size when compared to Scotland and England, Wales contains some of the best tourist attractions of the UK. Wales features breath-taking scenery and offers a chance to indulge in fun outdoor adventures in its national parks. Wales also features a lot of historic castles to tantalize the history buffs.

Cardiff, the capital of Wales is a great place to sample everything that Wales has to offer. One of the city’s highlights and most famous tourist attractions, is the Cardiff castle. Located in the middle of the city and built on the ruins of an ancient Roman fort, parts of the current structure date as far back as 1090, with much of it restored in the 1800s. Highlights include the State Apartments, the Clock Tower, the Chapel, and a spectacular Banqueting Hall with its fine murals.

Afterwards, be sure to spend time wandering the city’s many old Victorian shopping arcades, the best of which can be found around The Hayes. Also worth checking out is Cardiff Bay. One of the UK’s largest redevelopment projects, this vast area is now home to numerous fine restaurants, theatres, galleries, and shopping opportunities, many of them housed in former warehouses on lovely Mermaid Quay.

Cardiff Bay is also the home of the World of Boats. It features a unique collection of sea going vessels from all across the globe. Another point of interest is the Techniquest, a fun science centre featuring a planetarium and theatre.

Mystery Illness Killing Dogs in Norway

Hundreds of dogs all over Norway have been sickened by a mysterious and potentially contagious bowel disease that has even turned fatal in some cases. Norwegian dog owners have been advised to keep their pets from socializing with each other for the time being as reports of this mysterious disease continue to pile up.

According to a representative from AniCura Norge, a veterinary hospital in Oslo, the death toll for the dogs had risen to 26 by Tuesday.

Norwegian Food Safety released a statement which said that the post-mortem examinations haven’t been able to provide conclusive answers. As mysterious as the cause of the illness might be, the symptoms are present all over the country. Dogs have had prolonged phases of diarrhoea, vomiting and fatigue as a result of that. As per Norway’s Veterinary Institute, 200 dogs have suddenly fallen sick.

The initial reports started reaching the Norwegian Food Safety Authority from veterinarians in the capital, Oslo. Soon, reports from Bergen in the west coast and Nordland from the northern region of the country also started coming in.

As per a statement released by the Food Safety Authority on Tuesday: “A mixed culture of two types of bacteria, Providencia alcalifaciens and Clostridium perfringens, was found in some dogs’ guts. The bacteria are sometimes associated with diarrhea in people as well as dogs. But we can’t conclude that these are the cause of the symptoms we see.

One of the other causes theorized by the investigators connects the disease with the unusually large number of wild mushrooms growing this year. Along with parasite infection, the wild mushroom theory is still under consideration by the Food Safety Authority.

The Norwegian Veterinary Institute has ruled out Salmonella and rat poison as a possible cause of the disease.

Sadly, the medium of spread of the disease has still not been discovered. In fact, researchers are still not sure whether the disease is even contagious, or whether all the sick dogs are showing symptoms of the same disease.

Nonetheless, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority has advised pet owners to avoid letting their dogs near “dressage courses, exhibitions, hunting trials and the like” until more information is released through the investigation.

Hamar resident Torstein Holten talked about her seven year old dog Lexi. She told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that Lexi was perfectly healthy when she went for a run last week. However, she started vomiting and was stricken with diarrhoea the very next day.

She was taken to a veterinarian last Thursday who advised the family to bring Lexi back in case her symptoms worsened. Sadly, Lexi passed away the next morning.

The Norwegian Veterinary Institute has circulated a questionnaire among veterinarians throughout the country to try and get to the root of the mystery illness affecting Norway’s dogs.

Fortunately, no human being has been affected by this disease so far.