Sparklers perfect for wedding receptions, expert claims

Sparklers will be a popular choice at weddings this year as they can make a bride’s entrance to the reception venue more special, events and weddings DJ John Macaluso believes.

Writing for huffingtonpost.com, Mr Macaluso states that it’s a good idea to get the bridal party to hold some sparklers as the bride enters the reception venue, as it will bring out the child in everyone. However, he notes it’s a good idea to ensure the sparklers are smokeless, otherwise fire alarms could be set off.

He argues that photo booths will continue to be popular too, and in some instances are now considered just as important as a wedding cake.

“There are so many cool photo booths coming out, such as flip books, slow motion booths, social media booths, and others,” he writes.

In terms of the cake, Tracey Mann, founder of wedding cake supplier Tracey’s Cakes, states that couples are now choosing to opt for coloured wedding cakes instead of plain, traditional, white ones.

“If you want your cake to make a colour statement, it’s good to have a clear idea of your colour scheme and venue before consulting your cake designer.” she wrote on luton-dunstable.co.uk. “This will help them create a shade and design that fits perfectly.”

Mr Macaluso says that lots of couples want to show how happy they are by making it look as if they’re dancing in the clouds for their first dance together. Moreover, it’s a feature that looks excellent in photos, so it’s also becoming a popular trend this year.

Levi's London Commuter Workspace set to open

London’s cycling commuters are to be given their own designated workspace over the next ten days, on behalf of Levi’s.

The denim brand is set to open a venue at New Inn Yard in Shoreditch tomorrow (August 7), where cycling commuters will be able to enjoy free coffee and wi-fi, music, local artists’ exhibitions and a social and cultural events programme.

Perhaps more important to cycling enthusiasts, however, will be the free bicycle repair services that are available thanks to several local mechanics. Instructional workshops will also be provided, educating keen riders on the best ways to look after their frames and tyres, as well as a free bike valet service courtesy of the London Cycling Campaign.

The Levi’s London Commuter Workspace begins with an opening party hosted by DJs Only Real and Bradley Zero, eventmagazine.co.uk reports. The hub will officially close on August 17.

Levi’s has already opened a pop-up cyclist workspace in Brooklyn, New York (July 8 – 28), while another hub is currently open in Los Angeles, California (August 5 – 29), bicycleretailer.com notes.

“These resource-rich workspaces are designed for the modern commuter, seeking to capture the creative and productive experience of commuting with a range of offerings. These three cities were chosen due to their high concentration of commuters/bike advocates,” a spokesperson for Levi’s said.

EasyJet passenger numbers rise by more than seven per cent

Budget airline EasyJet saw its passenger numbers rise by 7.7 per cent in July, compared to the same period the previous year.

More than 6.4 million people flew with the airline during July, an increase from last year’s figure of 5.9 million. In the 12 months to July, annual passenger figures were up by 5.9 per cent to 63.8 million. The passenger load factor also rose in July, by 1.3 per cent to reach 92.9 per cent, reports travelweekly.co.uk

EasyJet wasn’t the only budget airline to see dramatic passenger increases last month, as Ryanair reported that its customer numbers had risen by four per cent, which equates to around 300,000 extra passengers. This means a total of 9.15 million people travelled with the airline in July. Ryanair’s load factor also rose to 91 per cent, a three per boost from 2013’s 88 per cent, reports buyingbusinesstravel.com.

Chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, commented that Ryanair offers the cheapest fares in every market, but the airline also has so much more to offer to its customers.

“Ryanair traffic grew by 300,000 to 9.15 million customers in July thanks to our lower fares and our improving customer experience, including our great new website and mobile app, allocated seating, a free second small carry-on bag and PED use on all flights,” he explained.

London buses to offer free Wi-Fi

Transport for London (TfL) is to trial free Wi-Fi services on buses across the city, it has been announced.

Although the project will only be featured on two buses to begin with (a route 12 bus between Dulwich and Oxford Circus, and a route RV1 bus between Covent Garden and Tower Hill), it is hoped that the trials will be successful enough that sponsors get involved, allowing TfL to roll out free Wi-Fi on more buses, techweekeurope.co.uk reports.

Londoners and visitors will be able to stay connected on routes without exhausting their mobile data allocation. Browsing social media and internet on the move, for example, will become far easier for commuters.

The wi-fi trials are all part of TfL’s ‘Year of the Bus’, a celebration of the buses’ contribution to London. Advanced CCTV technology allowing passengers to see if there are seats available on the upper decks has also been trialled, telegraph.co.uk notes.

Simon Reed, head of TfL’s technical service group, said: “London buses have always led the way with new technology on its network, benefiting the millions of passengers who make the most of the extensive network every day.

“Innovation is a key theme of the Year of the Bus and we have worked with our suppliers to find new and innovative ways to further improve the experience of our passengers. These trials will establish whether this technology provides genuine benefits to people on the move.”

Heathrow will have "too much market power" if allowed to expand, Gatwick claims

A third runway at Heathrow would allow the airport to have “too much market power”, Gatwick has argued in its newest report to the Airports Commission.

Gatwick thinks that there’s a danger of the market seeing a repeat of the past, when Heathrow Airport Holdings (formally known as BAA) was forced by the Competition Commission to sell off a number of its airports. Regional airports could also potentially be affected by the expansion, which Gatwick says are vital for improving customer choice, boosting competition and maintaining low airfares, reports buyingbusinesstravel.com.

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick airport CEO, argues that Gatwick should be expanded, rather than Heathrow.

“Competition between the UK’s airports has been one of the great successes of recent industrial policy and has delivered choice, better standards and lower airfares for consumers,” he said.

“A new runway at Heathrow would give the airport too much market power. However if Gatwick build a second runway it could compete more vigorously with two runway Heathrow, which would deliver benefits for both consumers and other UK airports.”

Birmingham airport chief executive, Paul Kehoe, agreed that smaller regional airports would be at risk if one single hub was allowed to control the market. He called for a network of regional airports, so that consumers are offered more choice, reports travelweekly.co.uk.

New mobile app helps vision-impaired passengers to navigate London Underground

Navigating the London Underground has long been a daunting prospect for the blind and visually-impaired, but a new smartphone app hopes to change that.   

Developed by the Royal London Society of Blind People (RLSB) and design studio ustwo, the Wayfindr app is specifically designed to help blind and visually-impaired passengers find their way around the London Underground.

By positioning beacons which send out information via Bluetooth technology in and around various transport terminals, including tube stations, the app is able to pick up signals and transform them into signs and directions for passengers, optometry.co.uk reports.

Signal strength is used to decipher the location of the beacons, which are then relayed through voice prompts via a pair of bone-conducting headphones. However, a blind or visually-impaired passenger’s hearing will not be compromised by the headphones.

Transport for London (TfL) already offers assistance to blind or visually-impaired passengers, londonist.com notes, by providing members of staff who meet them at ticket gates and accompany them to the train, while also arranging for someone to meet them as they get off the train at another station.

Courtney Nugent, head of RLSB’s transport youth forum, said: “Wayfindr is a practical and affordable aid to navigation for vision impaired people. Our joint project with ustwo is a great example of how charities and the private sector can work together, applying the latest approaches in digital design to make a difference, rapidly.”

Gatwick passenger numbers rise six per cent year-on-year

Gatwick’s passenger numbers rose by six per cent in July, compared to the same period the previous year, new figures from the airline show.

Some 4.1 million passengers passed through Gatwick airport in July, whereas 6.97 million travelled from or to Heathrow airport – a 0.5 per cent increase on the previous year. Both airports argue that their latest figures show they need to expand, rather than their rival, reports bbc.co.uk.

Nick Dunn, Gatwick’s chief financial officer, believes that a new runway at Heathrow would mean British travellers have less choice. Meanwhile, an expansion at Gatwick would boost competition and keep airfares low.

Fred Dixon, New York’s newest tourism boss, has praised Heathrow Airport, stating that it’s better than New York’s JFK.

In an interview with standard.co.uk, Mr Dixon said: “London is in the best shape I think it’s ever been in. It’s clean, it’s safe, and very welcoming. I’ve never waited in line more than 30 minutes at Heathrow, even with the volume they do. The sense of arrival is something that we Americans can learn from and strive for.”

He added that business travel is doing well in London thanks to the strong business community. Moreover, the tourism boss also had plenty of praise for London’s taxi drivers, which he said are one of the city’s best assets.

Six in ten brides aim to make their wedding better than their friends'

Six out of ten brides purposely choose certain wedding day features just to make their big day better than their friends’, a new survey from GettingPersonal.co.uk has found.

The survey of 1,000 just-married women revealed that four in ten brides become very competitive when they start to plan their wedding. One of the main reasons why women want their wedding to be perfect is because they want to show off about their big day on social media. Three in ten brides-to-be worry about how their wedding is going to look on Facebook, reports westerndailypress.co.uk.

A number of women said they would not be pleased if someone they knew copied their wedding plans, but over a third of brides steal ideas from their friends anyway. One in ten even go so far as to say that they wouldn’t forgive a friend if they chose the same wedding dress as them.

Writing for huffingtonpost.com, Reverend Laurie Sue Brockway, a wedding officiant, says to prevent becoming a bridezilla, women should allow for a bit of downtime during their wedding planning sessions. Moreover, when brides can feel themselves getting stressed, they should go for a walk or go see a film to take their mind off of things.

A spokeswoman for GettingPersonal.co.uk commented: “We all know that a woman’s wedding is supposed to be the best day of her life – so of course wanting it to be just right can really build pressure. With wedding blogs, social media and the huge furore over celebrity weddings, no wonder a bride-to-be can become overwhelmed with making everything perfect.”

More than 800 of London's most exclusive buildings to open doors

A collection of more than 800 exclusive London homes, sites and buildings are to open their doors in September.

As part of the annual Open House London, members of the public will be granted exclusive access to some of the capital’s grandest mansions, most impressive gardens and innovative public venues, timeout.com reports.

Open House London sees buildings and sites which are usually closed to the public open their doors for just one weekend. Now in its 22nd year, the not-for-profit organisation has grown from simply promoting London’s existing architecture to educating architects on sustainable building design, allowing them to pick up the necessary skills to produce great work in the future.

This year’s locations are split into five categories: Green Exemplar, Infrastructure/Engineering, Landscape and Public Realm, Design for Living and The Changing Skyline. Those currently confirmed include The White House, Ealing (home to Polish Prince Janek Zylinski), 55 Baker Street, the Abbey Mills Pumping Station and Lloyd’s of London.

While many venues either have free entry or are usually open to the public anyway, there are several which require pre-booking, such as 10 Downing Street and the Antony Gormley Room at The Beaumont, getwestlondon.co.uk reports.

Open House London 2014 takes place on September 20 and 21, with the full list of venues available online on Friday, August 15. 

London retains influential status in magazine rankings

London has retained its status as the world’s most influential city thanks largely to its entrepreneurial reputation and global transport links, according to Forbes.

The business magazine ranked the UK capital above New York and Paris in its top-ten list, with fourth-placed Singapore hailed as the biggest rising star.

Researchers also highlighted the high number of company headquarters based in London, and said that its political and judicial systems have made it a model for the rest of the world, telegraph.co.uk reports.

Forbes’ rankings were formulated using eight factors, including the number of corporate headquarters, aviation links to other major cities, media power and levels of direct foreign investment.

In its report, the firm said: “For the time being, the future of the global city belongs not to the biggest or fastest growing but the most efficient and savvy, and those with a strong historical pedigree. This raises the bar for all cities that wish to break into this elite club.”

This isn’t the only time London’s entrepreneurial spirit has been highlighted in the last week. According to forbes.com, the city is now also the crowdfunding capital of the world. The Crowdfunding Centre ranked it above New York City and San Francisco in a recent study, with an average of 12 new campaigns launched every day.