The news was given on Wednesday by the Councillor for Personnel, Pilar Fernández-Figares Estepona Town Hall has sacked 176 municipal workers. The PP Councillor for Personnel, Pilar Fernández-Figares, announced on Wednesday that the 176 workers are victims of the ERE Employment Regulation which the Town Hall put forward in June. The workers will be compensated with 2.5 million € and they will be given their ‘finiquito payments of 408,000 € between them. Pilar Fernández-Figares said one they were sacked the Town Hall will start to work on a new ‘training program for the reinsertion of the sacked workers’.
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The BMW i3 concept car at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show in January. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)
BMW will sell cars over the Web for the first time as the world's largest maker of luxury vehicles seeks an inexpensive way to reach more buyers to recoup spending on its electric models.
A direct online sales platform for BMW's new I sub-brand will be unique in an industry where, outside of small-scale experiments, competitors leave Internet orders for cars to dealers. BMW's range of strategies for the models, including a roaming sales force backing a limited showroom network, reflects the challenge carmakers face as low-emission vehicles trickle into dealerships to sluggish demand after years of development.
"There is considerable risk in BMW's approach of promoting the I brand so prominently," said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Science in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany. "There is the image risk, if they don't succeed as quickly as expected, and then there's the main risk of costs, which can only be countered with high deliveries."
BMW opened the I models' first showroom Tuesday in London, although only prototype cars and informational materials will be displayed at first because the vehicles themselves won't go on sale before next year. BMW is spending about $3 billion developing the i3 battery-powered city car and i8 plug-in hybrid supercar, according to an estimate by Frost & Sullivan. Industry sales of electric cars last year, at 43,000 vehicles, were only 57 percent of the 75,000 deliveries predicted by Sarwant Singh, a London-based automotive partner at the consulting company.
Starting prices posted
The four-seat i3, scheduled to reach the market in late 2013, will be priced at about 40,000 euros ($48,500), Bratzel estimated. That compares with a 23,850-euro starting price ($29,388) in Germany for the 1-Series, the cheapest BMW-brand car. The i8, targeted for sale in 2014, will cost more than 100,000 euros ($123,221), according to Ian Robertson, BMW's sales chief.
Details of how I-model buyers, the website and dealerships will interact are "still in the planning process" and will be communicated later, Linda Croissant, a spokeswoman at Munich- based BMW, said last week. Sales will be focused on the world's major urban areas, she said.
The online sales option is aimed at a generation of drivers used to making daily purchases over the Internet, and will be an extension of the car configuration that most automakers offer customers to view models with desired options such as interior colors, seat materials and roof styles.
Test drives not an option
The Internet platform may take a while to catch on because "many customers will still want to go somewhere to look at and drive the vehicle before buying," said Ian Fletcher, an auto analyst in London at research company IHS Global Insight.
"With new technologies, there may be even greater skepticism about buying a car over the Internet, as in many cases you'll have to win the confidence of customers that it works and there is support for them," Fletcher said in an email.
The setup may help BMW reduce expenses: Internet sales require less than half the cost of distributing through a dealership, according to Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer of the Center Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. That allows online car prices to be 5 percent to 7 percent less than showroom tags.
Still, BMW sees standard dealerships as "the backbone of what we are doing in the interface with the customer" for the I models, Robertson said in June at a press presentation at the sub-brand's Park Lane showroom in London.
Dealer selection criteria
Outlets will be restricted to dealers with high BMW-brand sales volume who have floor space as well as capacity to work with I models' powering technology and carbon-fiber body material, Robertson said. The carmaker has chosen 45 of its approximately 200 dealers in Germany to sell the i3 and i8, a ratio that will probably be similar elsewhere, he said.
Dealers will be designated as agents for the I models, which provides an "advantage" by keeping the vehicles on the carmaker's books, the association of BMW distributors in Germany said in an email.
Electric vehicles' disadvantages versus conventional cars include costly battery packs, limited ranges and the time needed to recharge. Consumer reception to models like the Nissan Motor Co.'s Leaf and General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt has been tepid.
"Currently available electric cars have a limited market success because they are a big compromise," said Arndt Ellinghorst, a London-based analyst at Credit Suisse AG. "Customers are not willing to compromise and spend a lot of money."
Carbon fiber bodies lighter
BMW Chief Executive Officer Norbert Reithofer started Project I at the end of 2007 as tighter emissions regulations threatened the viability of sporty sedans. BMW chose to create all-new vehicles that use expensive carbon fiber for a lighter body to make up for the weight of the battery system.
The approach contrasts with a decision by Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz Cars division to convert existing models, such as the van-like B-Class or two-seat Smart, to electric power.
To make its electric vehicles more attractive, Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler's Smart brand offers to lease the battery separately from the car. The automaker has a target of selling more than 10,000 of the models next year, with a starting price of 18,910 euros plus monthly battery rental at 65 euros.
The I models' new technology poses risks for BMW, "but they have no choice if they want to keep their premium and image as an innovation leader," Ellinghorst said.
The i3 and i8 will probably be among BMW's lowest-selling models through 2024, alongside the existing Z4 roadster, according to IHS estimates. In 2014, the first full year of production, BMW will probably deliver 31,380 i3s, compared with 564,760 of the best-selling 3-Series model and 18,101 Z4s, a study by the research company shows.
BMW's stance is that the models should produce earnings from the start, sales chief Robertson said.
"We clearly, as a company, go into any product launch with the view of making profit, which is no different with the I brand," Robertson said. "This is a car line just as every other car line, and we intend to make profit from Day 1."
US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney made some undiplomatic criticism of London’s preparations for the Olympic Games on Wednesday, expressing concern about Britain’s readiness to host the event.expressing concern about Britain’s readiness to host the event., US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney made some undiplomatic criticism of London’s preparations for the Olympic Games on Wednesday
Outspoken … Mitt Romney. Photo: AP “It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out,” Romney, who is running to unseat President Barack Obama in November’s election, told NBC News from London, where he will attend the opening ceremony of the games on Friday.
“There are a few things that were disconcerting,” he said.
“The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials – that obviously is not something which is encouraging,” he warned.
Romney even called into question whether the British people as a whole were behind the spectacle, saying this would be key their success.
“Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? And that’s something which we only find out once the games actually begin,” he said.
Romney, a multimillionaire businessman and investor, was called in to head the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City after preparations were marred by scandal and has first-hand knowledge of how to put on a successful Olympics.
The brand once known as Yves Saint Laurent revealed its new Saint Laurent Paris logo online over the weekend.The brand once known as Yves Saint Laurent revealed its new Saint Laurent Paris logo online over the weekend.
Said logo — affixed to a black box resting on a marble surface in the photo above — is presented in capital letters. The image was posted to the brand's official Facebook page on Saturday, and while some commenters were supportive of the change, many others decried it as a bad move. One fan called it "an act of disrespect."
Hedi Slimane, who took over as creative director of the house in March, announced last month that he would change the name of the ready-to-wear collection to Saint Laurent Paris. The shift was billed as an attempt to "return to the fundamentals of YSL." When Saint Laurent moved into ready-to-wear in 1966, he called the operation Saint Laurent Rive Gauche.
The new branding will not replace the iconic YSL logo, which will still be applied to some of the house's products.
ABC; Inset: Courtesy Neil Lane
Emily Maynard may have paused briefly before accepting now-fiancé Jef Holm’s proposal on The Bachelorette – but it was probably because the Neil Lane ring he selected was that breathtaking.
Holm got down on one knee in Curacao on Sunday night’s finale, presenting Maynard with a 3.5-carat sparkler. The ring, handmade, features a 2.5-carat emerald-cut diamond accented with 87 smaller round-cut diamonds.
“I never in a million years thought I’d be so in love as I am,” Maynard said as she awaited Holm’s arrival in anticipation of a marriage proposal.
When he arrived, Emily told him that the long road to the finale “was all worth it … You really are everything that I’ve looked for for so long. I really do feel like you’re my soul mate. You are the perfect person for me. You get me better than anybody ever has. I love you so, so much.”
“I’m so in love with you,” he replied. “I promise you if you let me into your life and Ricki’s life you will never feel lonely ever again.”
Are you a gun enthusiast with a passion for fashion (and the ability to ignore a national tragedy)? Well then, a company called Machine Guns Vegas has just the thing for you: The ‘Louis Vuitton‘ grip handgun.
Yep, in the wake of the largest mass shooting in US history–a massacre that has politicians and activists calling for stricter gun laws–this company actually had the nerve to send out a press release touting its new gun model just three days after the senseless killings in Aurora.
“Like Marc Jacobs putting Sponge Bob Square Pants onto LV monogrammed bags, Machine Guns Vegas has created their own Louis Vuitton accessory – a monogrammed Louis Vuitton grip for a handgun – which is legal to carry in the State of Nevada,” the press release states. Never mind that Marc Jacobs has never put Spongebob on one of his bags (he just put one in ink on his arm)–the two concepts are basically as far away from one another as possible. Never mind, too, that Machine Guns Vegas doesn’t technically have the rights to create its own Louis Vuitton“accessory” because Louis Vuitton actually had nothing to do with this new gun.
But you know… details, details. MGV is just trying to help out the fashion-forward gun-toting gal who has been so rudely ignored for too long. “We have a real demand to cater to gun enthusiasts who also have a desire to look stylish, hence our foray into Louis Vuitton gun accessories” the company’s Managing Partner Genghis Cohen said in the press release. Machine Guns Vegas’s website does not have a listed price for the ‘Louis Vuitton’ gun, however a linked image of the gun lead to the site’s “Femme Fatale” package–a ‘deal’ that lets customers (presumably women) shoot at MGV’s range for $99.95, using a variety of guns, including handguns and sub machine guns.
We called the company and were greeted by a perky female by the name of Lauren. Lauren told us that we should get in touch with MGV’s PR company, Kirvin Communications Group, and ask for Megan who handles the Machine Guns Vegas account. Except that when we called Kirvin, we were informed that MGV was no longer a client of the company. “You’re the third person who has called actually, and you should call them back and tell them to stop giving out wrong information,” a woman from Kirvin told us. We called MGV several more times–no answer. Finally, Lauren called us back. “That’s weird [about Kirvin]…” she said unconvincingly. When we asked if there was anyone at the offices who we could be patched through to, she explained that unfortunately, that wouldn’t be possible since they were moving, and their phone system was not properly installed. Right…
We’ve reached out to Louis Vuitton for a statement and will update as soon as we hear back.
Update: Louis Vuitton released the following statement:
“Louis Vuitton is in no way associated with this company. We do not manufacture gun grips and do not condone the alteration of our creations in any way.”
So, in addition to being in total bad taste, Machine Guns Vegas’ ‘Louis Vuitton’ gun, is also in violation of intellectual property rights. We expect LVMH, who is famously protective of their Louis Vuitton brand (see Hangover 2 suit), will be taking legal action soon.
When we went on vacation as kids, my parents used to joke that our destination didn't matter… all we cared about was gift shops and swimming in the hotel pool. I'm older now, and gift shops have lost some of their appeal, but I still love a good pool.
These days, though, it takes a little bit more than the pool at the Holiday Inn to impress me. Here are ten breaktaking hotel pools guaranteed to knock the socks off adults and kids alike.
1. The Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore has a rooftop infinity pool right at the edge of the city's skyline. (You can also buy tickets to visit the pool, even if you're not staying at the hotel.)
2. The Hotel Joule in Dallas features this pool that cantilevers out over the city's streets.
3. The heated swimming pool at the Hotel Portillo in Portillo, Chile is perfect for relaxing after a long day of skiing.
4. At the Katkies Hotel, Santorini.
5. The spectacular pool at the Raleigh hotel, built in 1940, has played host to celebrities and figured in countless postcards. It's still one of the hottest pool scenes in Miami.
6. The hotel pool at San Alfonso del Mar, in Chile, is the world's largest swimming pool, sprawling for nearly 3/5 of a mile along the shore of the Pacific Ocean. It's also the world's deepest, bottoming out at 115 feet.
7. The Endemico Resguardo Silvestre hotel, in Baja California's wine country, has a pool with breathtaking views of the desert landscape.
8. The infinity pool at the Ubud Hanging Gardens, in Bali, is two stories tall and overlooks the surrounding rain forest. As if that weren't enough, each room also has its own plunge pool. Image from Freshome.
9. The Casa Colombo Hotel in Sri Lanka boasts this pink pool.
10. And no roundup of hotel pools would be complete without a mention of the massive pool complex at Caesar's Palace, in Las Vegas. Remniscent of the Neptune Pool at William Randolph Hearst's Hearst Castle, the Garden of the Gods pool oasis comprises eight different pools, all surrounded by temples and statuary. Non hotel guests can get in for a fee of $20 on the weekend.
In the weeks leading up to my holiday at Shanti-Som – a new spa retreat between Málaga and Marbella – I had smugly enjoyed trying to make my friends jealous. It was cold and raining in England, and I was about to go to a spa in sunny Spain for a week to detox. No kids, no stress. Just a restful, healthy break from day‑to‑day life.
Largely, it worked. On everyone, that is, except my friend Lucy the Public Health Official, whose face took on an expression of something resembling horror. "That's against just about everything I stand for," she told me, before railing against detox types who just lay off the drink in January. "Anyway," she said finally, "you don't need to detox – you have a liver. Last time I checked, that was the thing that took toxins out of your body.".
I decided Lucy was being a bit of a killjoy and carried on being smug – right up to the moment I arrived at Shanti-Som and saw the programme. I was about to have five days of ingesting nothing but four "cleansing drinks" a day and a vegetable "broth" (not even soup!) in the evening. As someone who loves her food – and always found eating central to every holiday experience – I was appalled.
There was one more thing on the programme that put the fear of God into me. Three little words had been giving me minor palpitations from the moment I read them: "self-administered colonics". I was expected to do this twice a day, every day. Panicked texts to my partner ensued.
I had arrived early in the day – before the programme officially started that evening – so I hatched a plan to enjoy some proper food before the detoxing kicked off. I was just surveying Shanti-Som's delicious lunch menu – Indian thalis, Thai noodle soups, steaks – when the waiter warned me not to get too excited and gently "suggested" I stick with one of two or three less fun options (beetroot and goat's cheese salad without the goat's cheese, for example). I had a delicious vegetable tagine and, against his "suggestion", ordered some cornbread, which I ate with gusto, as if it was the last supper – which to some extent I suppose it was.
Reassurance arrived in the form of Ana Canelas, the health coach who would be guiding us through the programme. She'd read the health questionnaire I'd filled in before coming, which had highlighted habits and issues that I'd begun to accept as a fact of life: that afternoon sweet craving; tiredness after lunch; tiredness most of the time, come to think of it.
"You are really going to benefit from this experience," she said.
She talked me through the various torturous-looking implements that had been left in my room: a body brush for increasing circulation, a tongue scraper (to be used first thing every morning) and finally the implement that looked worryingly like something they use in waterboarding: a long, wide plank with a big hole and a red tube at the bottom. Those colonics again.
The next day the programme started in earnest. After the tongue scraping, body brushing and a cup of hot water and lemon, it was time for the daily yoga class, which was all "oms" and "shanti shanti shantis" and stretches. This type of yoga is very in keeping with Shanti-Som, a spiritual place full of Buddhas, healing corners, open terraces for outdoor yoga and waterfalls celebrating femininity and goddesses.
Then it was a "breakfast" of our first cleansing drink followed, at mid-morning, by our supplements (a series of brown vitamins and minerals) before the thing I'd been dreading: enema time.
I'll spare you the details as you might be reading this over breakfast and this is one of those instances where there is such a thing as Too Much Information. In brief: the practicalities were easier than I'd feared. But I'm not going to lie. It was weird. Very weird. Made weirder by the fact that the enema was made up of coffee water. Two litres of it to be precise, had to go through a hole where, in my experience, coffee doesn't usually go. ("Coffee is a great way to stimulate the liver and help clear out the colon," said Ana. Then, spying my scepticism, added, "Don't worry. You're going to love it.")
That first day I was very hungry and a bit miserable. It was difficult walking past that restaurant and watching regular spa-goers tucking into a proper meal. The broth at dinner time was tasty, but I was gagging for some bread. Or something – anything – to chew.
The detox programme lasts five full days and is strictly regimented. Yoga at 8.30am, cleansing drink at 9, first lot of colonics at 11, and so on. All that really changes is what you're putting into your body each day, with the drinks ranging from wheatgrass green, to beetroot pink to carrot orange. The colonic water that at first had coffee in it was on the next day mixed with clay (good for grabbing mucus apparently) then garlic ("Great for fighting parasites," said Ana). The garlic was the worst.
The weather when I visited, in March, was beautiful, and in between our various detoxing commitments we lounged by the pool, read books or indulged in treatments in the spa. At the beginning of the week I barely had the energy for much else.
"The first two or three days of fasting are the worst" said Ana. "After that, it is much easier."
I went through a bit of a masochistic phase during those early days, eyeing up delicious recipes on my iPad that I promised myself I was going to cook when I got home. But Ana's health class soon put me right about what I should be eating when I got back. It was too much acid in our diet, she taught us, that led to lack of energy and a whole variety of health problems. We should be striving for a more alkaline-based diet including more avocados, nuts and seeds and much, much less meat and dairy.
About halfway through the third day, I turned a corner. It might have had something to do with the fact that I'd noticeably lost weight while I was there, weight I'd been half-heartedly trying, and failing, to lose since having my first child four years ago. Suddenly, looking in the mirror wasn't quite such a depressing sight. Just as Ana had predicted, my energy came back. The daily yoga class was making me feel amazing. On the final night, when we were allowed to eat again, we had a carrot salad to start with, followed by a small plate of quinoa and roasted veg. I don't know whether my taste buds were overexcited at the thought of real food, but it seemed like the most delicious meal I'd had in a long time.
A detox holiday like this is not for everyone. But Shanti-Som is a lovely, relaxing place, so it's fortunate that they have a lot less extreme healthy offerings, including yoga retreats and weight loss programmes that do involve eating some food.
I couldn't say whether I'd do something as drastic as a detox week again. But for me, it worked. Three months later, I've managed to put some of the healthy eating lessons into practice and look and feel better for it. The challenge now is to try to keep it up in the long term.
The death of Eva Rausing casts a spotlight on Barbados, the island of choice for the Kemenys, Kidds and Rausings, where drugs are plentiful and the days are long
For whatever reason, this dark underbelly to the Caribbean paradise was an aspect of life the Rausings were acutely aware of. A 27-minute drive inland from the couple’s home stands Verdun House, a white-shuttered, pale green colonial style building, fringed with palm trees. From the outside it could be just another opulent second home, but Verdun House is an addiction rehab centre run by the Barbadian Substance Abuse Foundation. It was funded by Eva and Hans.
Poignantly, the website states: “The clients at Verdun House are from any and everywhere. Addiction is no respecter of colour, class, creed or nationality; anyone can become an addict.”
Following a renovation in 2007, a newsletter on Verdun House’s website said: “Our thanks go out to all who have helped in this effort, especially Hans & Eva Rausing without whom none of this would have been possible.” The fee for a 90-day treatment is £4,850.
The pair met, as has been reported widely this week, at a rehab centre in the United States, more than 20 years ago, battling their own demons, and they have given many millions to addiction charities.
But even without the drugs it was perhaps inevitable their worlds would collide. Their social circle, a Venn diagram of moneyed, philanthropic but fast-living friends, has long congregated on the west coast of Barbados — where wealthy Americans and well-bred Brits meet, mingle and party. As one frequent British visitor to the island told the Evening Standard this week: “If you’re merely a millionaire, you wouldn’t feel that wealthy on Barbados. This is truly a billionaire’s playground.”
Hans, 49, heir to the £5.4 billion Tetra Pak fortune, and Eva, 48, were members of this glamorous Bajan set, which also includes the well-known and wealthy Kidd family, into which Be Kemeny, Eva’s sister, married. The Kemeny girls who, like the Kidds, are considered “old money”, are the daughters of Thomas Kemeny, a former PepsiCo executive and his wife Nancy, wealthy Americans who split their time between Barbados, New York and another beachfront house in South Carolina.
The Kemenys, Kidds and Rausings all own houses on the west coast of the island, dubbed the “platinum coast” because it boasts the most expensive real estate in the Caribbean. The last time Be Kemeny saw her sister alive was on this exclusive stretch of silver sand at Christmas.
On the appropriately named Polo Ridge — part of the oldest community — stands the family home of the aristocratic Kidd family, Holders House. Polo is a unifying factor among the rich in Barbados and the colonial-style mansion, set in 300 acres with its own polo field, is where Johnny Kidd, son of the publishing tycoon Lord Beaverbrook, and his wife, Wendy, the daughter of the baronet, spent every holiday bringing up their three children. Jack, 36, a former professional polo player, now lives on the island looking after his father’s estate while Jemma, 36, is a make-up artist married to Arthur Wellesley, Earl of Mornington. Jodie, the youngest at 33, a former supermodel and polo player, is the partner of Argentinian polo player Andrea Vianini.
She was discovered in Barbados at 15 by the photographer Terry O’Neill, and was dropped by M&S over allegations of using and selling cocaine five years ago, although she was never charged. It was at an estate near the Kidds’, the 20-acre beachfront home of the Bamford family, of JCB digger fame, that Jack met his future wife Be, at a party to celebrate the Millennium.
Be has said of the meeting with Jack: “It was inevitable Jack and I would meet and, sure enough, that night I saw him dancing wildly. I went across to talk to his father, Johnny, whom I knew well and, at that point, Jack fell over backwards into a hedge. He was clearly drunk and very merry but his father laughed and said, ‘You will love him when he’s sober’.”
Seven months after Jack and Be met at that new year party, the pair married at London’s Hurlingham Club — which hosts London’s annual Polo in the Park event — but after four children in rapid succession, they divorced in 2006 amid accusations of Jack’s infidelity.
Be sent an admirably frank email to 200 friends and business associates from her husband’s database informing them the marriage was over before smashing Jack’s computer and throwing the pieces into the lake at their home in Windsor. Jack quickly moved on, and had another child, Jesse, now 21 months old, with model Callie Moore. The couple split up in January this year, with Barbados itself cited as a reason. “Jack wanted me to live in Barbados with him and I did go there four months ago,” Moore has said. “But it didn’t work out. I really don’t like the lifestyle in Barbados or the people. Jack and I lead completely different lifestyles — he likes going out every night and that is just not for me.”
While Barbados is, many visitors say, the most sanitised island in the Caribbean, with genteel afternoon tea on hotels lawns and the practice of “fogging” to rid the grounds of mosquitoes, “there is also definitely a dark underbelly to the island,” says a New York writer who spent last Christmas and New Year’s Eve — or Old Year’s Night, as the celebration is known there — in Barbados. “The drug-taking was quite obvious, even in some very expensive and glamorous restaurants, with people disappearing off for long periods during dinner — and it seemed to be completely accepted as the norm,” says the writer.
Unlike, say, the Hamptons — the summer playground of the super-rich of New York where the wealthy stay sequestered behind manicured hedges and electric gates — in Barbados there are no boundaries, either physical or metaphorical, and everyone partakes in the lively nightlife scene, frequenting the many restaurants, bars and nightclubs, which range from the glossy to the deliberately divey. “People don’t feel the need to hide away; everyone goes out in Barbados, and no one bothers anyone,” according to one homeowner on the island. “Because everyone here has so much money, no one cares who anyone is.”
“People do throw quite incredible and wild private parties, on their boats as well as in their homes,” he reports. “But everyone goes out too. You can be at any bar and expect to see billionaires enjoying a beer along with everyone else.”
And, crucially, no matter what their bank balance, the residents of Barbados apparently have complete confidence in their privacy. “There is an inner-circle atmosphere,” says the part-time resident. “I never worry about anyone taking a picture of me or my friends. It’s not like St Bart’s — there is an absence of paparazzi here, and everyone has known each other for so long, it feels very safe and secure.”
All effervescence is not the same in the land of Champagne. While the knock-offs flow freely, the authentic sparklers remain a luxury you would have to pay a high price for. Photo / Thinkstock
Champagne remains the ultimate luxury libation: favoured by the rich and famous and deemed an essential toast at important celebrations. But what makes it so special and what's behind the big bucks that people are prepared to pay for the real deal?
To be true Champagne, it has to come from the eponymous French region. In the past, fashioners of fizz from across the world have cashed in on its famed name - from calling their foreign examples champagne, to name-checking its process of production, the Methode Champenoise, on their labels. However now, the region's name is safeguarded under law as a protected designation of origin as well as a lucrative trademark.
It's the bubbles that are behind much of Champagne's allure, but all effervescence is not equal. It may have been Englishman Christopher Merret who was the first to document the deliberate addition of sugar to a still wine to engender its sparkle, but the Methode Champenoise - also know as the Methode Traditionelle - was a process honed in the cellars of Champagne.
This most meticulous of methods, which results in the most complex wines with a finer more persistent mousse (bubbles), is when the second fermentation that provides the fizz occurs in-bottle.
Tattoos are permanent reminders of temporary feelings – at least if you believe the report in Thursday's Daily Mail, which looked at "embarrassing" matching couple tattoos – designs that complement or complete each other across two, romantically involved bodies.
Yet there are millions of people who feel no embarrassment about the tattoos they share with their friends, lovers and even exes. Moreover, as with most perceived "new trends" in tattooing, this practice is one with a history far older than the current generation; it's a phenomenon that provides both an insight into human beings' fundamental relationships with their own bodies and the bodies and lives of those close to them.
Tattoos have been used as markers of association for probably as long as human beings have walked the earth, to mark tribal affiliations, regimental membership in the military, membership of fraternal orders such as the masons or US college Greek letter groups, and to signify gang membership.
The most common of these types of affiliative tattoos, though, is marking an attachment to a loved one. There's an old adage in tattooed circles that suggests getting your lover's name tattooed on you is a sure kiss of death for that relationship, and it's an old gag too: Norman Rockwell's famous 1944 Saturday Evening Post cover painting, The Tattooist, shows a salty sailor in the tattooist's chair, having yet another name added to an arm already full of the crossed-out names of past paramours. Even earlier, a cartoon in Punch from 1916 shows a "fickle young thing" – a well-turned-out young woman, as it happens – revisiting her tattooist to seek an amendment to the ornamental crest tattoo on her arm as she has, euphemistically, "exchanged into another regiment".
None of this seems to have affected the long-standing popularity of having names or symbols tattooed to commemorate couples' love and bond. Magazines in the 1920s reported the latest fad for newlyweds was getting matching tattooed wedding rings; preserved tattooed skins in the Wellcome Collection from the late 19th century feature names and portraits of lovers; studies of tattoos in the American navy in the 18th century reveal a large percentage of seamen of the period bore tattoos of the names of women; even Christian pilgrims in the 16th century were recorded to have borne the names of their wives on their skins, as tokens or identificatory marks; and records attest to romantic tattooing even in ancient Rome – St Basil the Great (329-380) is said to have condemned the tattooing of a lover's name that he observed on someone's hand. While I'd certainly never advocate getting a permanent mark of your relationship too hastily, it does seem that the instinct to inscribe a permanent token transcends the ages. Caveat amator.
Single tattoos that span multiple bodies appear to be a more recent phenomenon, however. In 1977, New York-based tattoo artist Spider Webb undertook what was probably the first conceptual art project to use tattooing, in a piece called X-1000, in which he tattooed single, small Xs on to 999 individuals, and, as a culmination, one large X on the final, 1,000th skin, conceived as one contiguous work. This tattoo, potentially spanning thousands of miles at any one time, was, Webb said, "the largest tattoo ever done at any point in history". In 2000, as the culmination to a performance art project begun in 1998 designed to highlight the horrific lives and plights of the homeless and hungry in Mexico City, Santiago Sierra produced his piece 160cm Line Tattooed on Four People, a single black line tattooed across the backs of prostitutes in exchange for wraps of heroin, as a symbol of their desperation, interdependence, and utter powerlessness. Sierra would later remark: "You could make this tattooed line a kilometre long, using thousands and thousands of willing people." In 2003, author Shelley Jackson famously published her short story Skin on the bodies of 2095, one tattooed word per person. These tattoos bring together strangers in common cause.
My favourite set of matching tattoos, though, are probably the ongoing collection of work worn by twins Caleb and Jordan Kilby, tattooed with matching work by influential and extraordinarily talented New York-based artist Thomas Hooper. If you must get matching tattoos with someone, it's wisest to pick someone whom you cannot break up with or divorce, and to get the work carried out by a tattoo artist who will produce a piece of work that will stand the test of time on its own terms.
Turkish DelightGulets, traditional Turkish wooden boats, anchored off Gemiler Island. Andrew Eil
- The Lydian, an ancient Greek amphitheater in Knidos, on the Datca Peninsula. Andrew Eil
- A gulet on Gokova Bay, near the city of Bodrum. Andrew Eil
- The writer on the Zephyria II, with Butterfly Valley in the background. Andrew Eil
- An inlet on the Gulf of Fethiye, near Gocek. Andrew Eil
Confined spaces do not often make for harmonious family vacations — unless, apparently, they are the close quarters of a gulet, a traditional Turkish wooden yacht, and you are sailing along the Turquoise Coast. I recently spent a week doing just this, with my aunt, uncle, cousins and husband, on the Zephyria II. We sailed from Gocek to Bodrum, a trip commonly referred to as “the Blue Voyage.” Some people come to Turkey because it’s the land of Homer, others for the Greek, Roman and Byzantine ruins. I came for the water — the pellucid Mediterranean, alternating between shades of blue and green. I’m not sure why it isn’t declared a wonder of the world.
Being on the gulet, to quote the writer John Flinn, is like the life of a dog: “You swim, you eat, you get taken for walks.” With every need taken care of by the capable crew, I dare you to try being anxious or stressed. The only big decisions of the day are when to take a swim and how many salted almonds to snack on between meals.
Topographically, this part of the Mediterranean is a close cousin of the Amalfi Coast, but there is more of an undiscovered, rustic feel in Turkey, as very few of its coastal towns are anywhere near as built up as Positano. For vast stretches there are no signs of civilization at all, save the odd Turkish flag planted on a hillock, a family of goats skipping along the rock ledges, or clusters of stone ruins.
On the gulet, meals are the big event. In between sumptuous feasts of Turkish meze, the days are filled with activities like swimming in a semi-submerged ancient Roman bath where Cleopatra is rumored to have taken a dip. One evening, Ismael, our sturdy captain, sailed us to a tranquil anchorage behind Gemiler Island. We hiked to the top, stopping along the way to see the ruins of Byzantine-era churches. The sun set in shades of lavender.
The next morning we arrived at Butterfly Valley. There weren’t any butterflies, which evidently avoid the tourist season, but there were towering cliffs on either side of a secluded slice of beach. We dove in from the ladder of the boat and frog-kicked to shore. By the third day, I had only started to get slightly inured to my physical surroundings. “Oh, another beautiful cove,” I thought, looking up from my Kindle. Another morning, we landed at Ekincik Bay, which is known as “hidden paradise” — words that could have described just about any place we’d been over the previous few days.
About mid-week, we arrived in Dalyan, a town known for its blue crabs and arresting stone tombs carved into the side of a cliff. All nine of us loaded onto a riverboat that took us through the Dalyan Delta. On our temporary floating home, we motored through the wetlands, later ordering a freshly baked crab from another boat. Some visitors come to Dalyan for 10 to 15 days of mud baths. Asked about the mud’s benefits, our tour guide replied, “Your skin will look like a baby’s bottom.” Though I was advised that a single bath would not accomplish this goal, I nonetheless slathered myself in the mud, withstanding the unpleasant smell of sulfur in pursuit of soft, perfect skin. (I’m not sure it did much.) Afterward, we swam in a vast, emerald-colored freshwater lake called Koycegiz, and I forgot about everything.
In Datca, a town situated on a serpentine peninsula south of Bodrum, the call to prayer was drowned out by booming techno music emanating from a nearby beach populated with scantily clad Turkish vacationers. We saw our final batch of ruins in Knidos — the remnants of an ancient Doric port — then set off for Mersincik Bay, another breathtaking cove with crystal clear water. On our last day, we went to Black Island, directly across from Bodrum, and swam in hot springs. Cleopatra is purported to have spent three years there, hiding from the Romans and taking mineral baths every day.
That night, we dropped anchor about four miles from Bodrum. As we fell asleep on the rear deck, under the moon and stars, the bass of discotheques thumped gently in the distance. Unlike the water of the Turquoise Coast, Bodrum, we learned the following day, is better viewed from afar. Though you can get all your Gucci knockoffs there, we were quickly reminded of what had become our maxim: life is at its best on the gulet.