With a new year dawning, it seems that everyone has a resolution they're looking to keep. With a new year come a fresh perspective and a desire to improve your life – whether that means beefing up your CV, improving your health, or simply doing something you’ve always wanted to do. If you feel like you have the commitment and drive to start, here are a handful of suggestions for skills you could take on:
Learn a new language
Taking on a new language is something many people aspire to, and with good reason. It could boost your employability, enable you to make more ambitious travel plans, or simply add another string to your bow. But learning a language takes time and commitment: the best method is undoubtedly with a fully accredited language school. Those looking to learn or improve their language skills should consider taking English classes with UIC London, who offer a range of courses including Spanish and French lessons based in the heart of London.

Play a new instrument
Learning to play a musical instrument is an ambition held my many people. This is a skill which might not necessarily appear on your cv directly but employers do like to hire well-rounded individuals with wider interests outside of the workplace. It is a skill that is guaranteed to bring you a lot of pleasure and many people observe that playing music relaxes them and gives valuable focus.

Learn self-defence
There are obvious benefits to learning self-defence techniques – if you live in London or other major cities the ability to defend yourself from crime and undesirable people is an obvious asset. But self-defence can also be an excellent way to keep fit and socialise. There are classes available to suit every age and ability, ranging from a martial art to more basic self-defence skills.

Take up photography
Since practically everyone now has a camera-phone in their pocket, photography has never been more accessible to beginners. Professional photographers, however, have sought to distance themselves from the grainy camera-phone standard and now photography as an art form is more highly-valued than ever. With a decent camera, the basics of old-school point-and-click can be self-taught, and many digital cameras have on-board tuition.

Learn to repair just about anything
It's all too easy to call a number and get a professional in to fix your cupboard/sink/bicycle. But when times are tough, more and more people are embracing the DIY spirit and teaching themselves new repair skills. With thousands of online guides and YouTube tutorials, the resources are all there at your fingertips. So, the next time something stops working as it should, why not try repairing it yourself before paying the professionals?

Learn to cook
Over recent years, fast food and microwave meals have diminished the art of cookery. Luckily, the proliferation of TV chefs, cookbooks, and online guides means there's a wealth of information out there. Cooking can be a very relaxing and satisfying pastime and you can’t beat a home-cooked meal or a plate of cookies still warm from the oven.

So there you have it. Whether you decide to take French lessons at a London language school or a course in DIY, you won’t regret learning a new skill this year.

Resource box

10 repair projects you should never pay for
Lifehacker lists some easy repair jobs

Never too late to learn an instrument
NPR article on the benefits of learning an instrument

How to cook
The BBC's online home for cooking advice and recipes


A new year is a new start. Plenty of people resolve to change their lives as January comes around and there’s something about starting a new diary which makes the possibility seem inviting. There are many ways you can make 2013 a year to remember, whether you’re hoping to get a new look, a new job or a new love. Here are six ways to help you enjoy a fresh start in the new year so that you can look back with no regrets.
Become more active

Joining a gym is a great way to get started on your goals of losing weight, increasing your stamina and looking good for 2013. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of opportunities to go and build up slowly. Gyms are usually packed full in January but nearly empty in March thanks to unkept new years’ resolutions!

You could also try swimming, sports or running in the great outdoors if you’re not a fan of the gym. Becoming more active will help you stay healthy and prevent you from becoming ill – it’s a very worthwhile resolution to make.

Eat more healthily

Some people swear that they’ll give up chips and chocolate completely, but eating more healthily doesn’t have to mean abstaining from the things you like. Try and make steps to a better diet by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, cutting down on snacks and drinking plenty of water.

If you’re not so good at cooking, learning how to make some simple, healthy meals could reduce the amount of ready-meals or takeaways you may eat – and it’ll save you money as well.

Learn a new skill

If there’s something you’ve been meaning to learn for a while, what better time to do it than in the new year? There are plenty of classes and courses on offer for people looking to learn both professionally and for fun. Some ideas might include learning a new language, taking an art class or taking up a new sport.

Your new skill doesn’t have to be useful! Why not learn how to juggle, make balloon animals or flip a coin across your knuckles? While not strictly necessary, these tricks are great for impressing other people.

Go somewhere you’ve never been

Why not use 2013 as your year to see the world? If money is an issue, pick somewhere close to home but try and visit somewhere you’ve never been before. Alternatively, you could think about taking some time off from work to go interrailing or to volunteer abroad. There’s so much out there to see and do – why wait?

Meet someone new

If you spent Christmas and New Year alone, you might be feeling that now is the time to try and meet someone new. While you can’t guarantee true love before the year is out, there are plenty of things you can do to increase your chances of finding it. Ask your friends to introduce you to new people, get out and about and use online dating websites, such as www.eharmony.co.uk, to boost your efforts.

The new year often sees people dating again after a long time off the UK romance scene. If you’re nervous about how to go about meeting someone special, the eHarmony Facebook Page offers advice and tips on how to find love.

Enhance your career

Whether you’re looking for a new direction or just want to improve your existing job, a new years’ resolution can help you on your way. Resolve to step up your job search, sign up for a course or increase your list of contacts to help yourself find the career of your dreams.

If you quite like your existing job, why not ask your boss for more responsibility, branch out into different areas or be the first person to volunteer for new tasks? You’ll get yourself noticed (and promoted!) in no time.

Resource box

Top 10 new year’s resolutions

Article from Metro.co.uk on what to take up and give up

10 unusual new year’s resolutions

Suggestions from Yahoo Lifestyle

How to keep your new year’s resolutions

The Guardian offers advice on real new year’s resolutions


2013 is quickly passing us by, but don’t disregard your new year’s resolutions. Here are some simple ways that you can make the most of your life, and live a healthy and happy 2013.

1 - Exercise

Let’s face it, everyone is always setting themselves the goal of exercising more, and never getting round to it. But even simple things like going for a half an hour run, or going for a swim are effective ways of boosting your confidence, and staying in great shape. Running is good for the mind and it is proven that people who exercise regularly tend to be more happy.

2 - Eating healthy

Eating healthy can be hard, with the temptation of junk food forever omniscient. However, eating healthy will make you feel great both physically and mentally, and it really doesn’t have to be that hard to do. Cut out snacks such as crisps and sweets and you will notice the weight flying off, bringing with it a new found confidence. There are many options of healthy food recipes, which don't have to be expensive.

3 - Setting yourself realistic goals

Nothing feels better than achieving an ambition you have set yourself. These can be anything, from the most simple and mundane such as getting yourself organized, to finding a new job. It will give you a great sense of achievement and happiness if you set yourself goals, and accomplish them.

4 - Discover a new hobby

Sometimes we all feel as if life can be a bit dull, so pursue a hobby which you enjoy, or immerse yourself in something you have always wanted to do. Not only will you learn something new, you will make new friends and gain a welcome sense of achievement. These can be anything from sports, to singing lessons, to cooking classes!

5 - Learn a language

If you cannot speak a foreign language, why not start? Speaking another language is both valuable and interesting. It allows you to meet new people and experience countries you visit in a way previously impossible due to your lack of language knowledge.

6 - Volunteer

Volunteering is a great experience. It allows you to help other people, and gain a positive feeling for doing so. It is something you will feel proud of, and gives you the opportunity to make new friends. It could be something as simple as volunteering for a few hours at a homeless shelter, or maybe even travelling abroad.

When it comes round to December there are hundreds of Christmas markets all around Europe. In this post I'll be choosing the the best 6 that bring festive joy, great food and a wonderful atmosphere.

Cologne, Germany

Cologne Christmas markets attract around 2 million visitors every year. There are 4 different Christmas markets around the city, which turns what seems like the whole of Cologne into one big Christmas festival. These markets are very tourist-friendly, with around 160 different stalls to wander past.

Brussels, Belgium

If you're into your cuisine, then this Christmas market may be the one for you. Brussels is famous for its great food and the Christmas market is no exception.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna's classic Christmas market, 'Christkindlmarkt', is one of the best-known and most visited in Europe. The beautiful market is located in front of the wonderful town hall, bringing festive cheer to everybody!

Prague, Czech Republic

The Czech's know how to do Christmas; Prague is filled with plenty of festive activities all through December, such as cultural events, folk displays, concerts and theatre. The Christmas markets are rather family-friendly, with a lovely atmosphere for all to enjoy!

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn Christmas market after hours
Despite this Christmas market only being run since 1991, it has a lot of festive atmosphere and romantic appeal. You're almost guaranteed snow at this time of the year, which really adds to the Christmas feeling.

Dresden, Germany

The first mention of the Dresden Christmas market was in 1434, which makes it the oldest in Germany. The locals are great fans of the traditional 'stollen'; the highlight of this market is the Stollen Festival, which is always held on the 2nd Sunday of December. This consists of a giant 3,000kg is paraded all around Dresden.
.. So which Christmas market is for you?
Bags are packed, you’ve got your passport and travels jabs are up to date. Working or travelling in another county is a fabulous way to gain more experience in your chosen profession, as well as a chance to see the world.

 Unfortunately, however much prep you do beforehand to ensure things go smoothly, disaster can strike when you least expect it. This list of six super phrases will help you out in any emergency situation you may encounter. Keep them to hand to spare you angst abroad.
The current job market is tough; appeal to would-be employers by getting additional experience from a stint in another country. If you’ve got the skills then http://www.projects-abroad-pro.org has a scheme to put them to the test.

 Overseas voluntary work is a major part of projects; give developing countries a helping hand as a professional volunteer. Before you go, though, it’s important to be prepared. It’s likely you’ll be travelling to a country that speaks a foreign language. To avoid a sticky situation, memorise these six phrases and spare yourself further anguish in an emergency.

 “Do you speak English?”

 This is a must-know phrase, whatever sector you’re working or volunteering in. Don’t waste time struggling to make yourself understood in an emergency situation. Even if you know the language well, if you’re flustered you’re likely to forget everything. Save time by asking if they understand English.

 Argentina (Spanish): Hablas Inglés?

Thailand (Thai): Nun pôot paa-săa ang-grìt rĕu bplào?

Romania (Romanian): Vorbiţi engleză?

 “Where does it hurt?”

 If you’re working as a doctor or nurse in Togo, it’s vital you treat the patient as quickly as possible in an emergency. You won’t have time to flick through a phrase book – have this sentence to hand so you can immediately access the situation and decide the best course of treatment.

 Togo (French): Où avez-vous mal?
“Is it poisonous?”

 As a vet working in the Amazon rainforest, you’re likely in encounter animals you’ve never treated before. Don’t put yourself at unnecessary risk; find out if the animal is dangerous before rushing in to help. You won’t be popular with fellow volunteers if they have to carry you back to base camp.

Peru (Spanish): Dónde le duele?

“Call an ambulance”

 An injured child is a teacher’s worst nightmare but it’s important to keep a level head. When the situation escalates beyond your ability while volunteering in South Africa, call in the professionals to help.

 South Africa (Afrikaans): Bel 'n ambulans

“Is it safe?”

 Engineering projects abroad can involve building houses for the homeless, providing a fresh water supply or repairing damage after a natural disaster. Construction sites are dangerous places at the best of times – don’t be the numpty who makes things worse in Bolivia.

 Bolivia (Spanish): Es seguro?

“It’ll be ok”

 Many projects require the skills of midwives. In addition to attending to the medical needs of a woman, it’s important to provide reassurance. While attending a labour in Senegal, use this phrase to provide comfort to a new mum.

 Senegal (French): Il va bien se passer


Resource box

Foreign Office

Find out important travel information before you go.

BBC Languages

Take an online language course to help you learn the local lingo.


Important information about travel jabs.

From new family members to new jobs, here are six of the best things you can hear on the phone. Make sure you’re connected so you don’t miss the calls!

1. You have just become an uncle/aunt/grandparent

A new addition to the family is always an exciting occasion. Whether you are waiting to hear if you are a first-time grandparent or if you are finding out whether you have a new nephew or niece, hearing a family member tell you that they made it through labour is always good news!

2. You’re going to be a parent

One of the most amazing and life-changing things you can hear over the phone is the news that you are going to be a parent. The moment when your loved one calls you up to tell you that you will be a father is one that you will cherish forever.

3. You’ve got the all-clear

If you have been battling a long-term illness or you are waiting to get your test results from your doctor, getting a phone call giving you the all-clear can be the best feeling in the world.

4. You got the job

Getting a job is always a great feeling, but it is particularly satisfying when it is one that you really want and that you have truly worked hard for. Sitting by the phone waiting for a call back is a nerve-wracking process, but it is all worthwhile when you hear the wonderful news that the position is yours.

5. I love you

Finding out the depth of someone’s feelings for you is bound to be a magical moment. When someone tells you they love you over the phone for the first time you will feel truly special.

6. I’m coming home

One of the most emotional things to hear over the phone is the news that someone you love is coming home after a long time spent abroad. Whether he/she is returning from the army or just from an extended trip abroad, the news of the return is bound to be exciting. Luckily, thanks to VoIP technology, calling overseas is easy.

Companies such as Vonage can set you up with cheap international rates so you can keep in touch while you wait for your loved one is away.

A lot of important information is spread via phone calls and you don’t want to miss out on hearing something special, so make sure that you’re set up and ready to receive great news over the phone.

Resource box


An article on things men love to hear.

Ask Men

A guide to ten things women want to hear from men.

BBC World Service

The BBC World Service gives tips on how to give and respond to good news.


1.    Gym
Going to the gym is one of the easiest and quickest ways to lose weight, if you got for half an hour each day you’ll begin to see the difference.

2.    Jogging
After work or college, why not go for a jog with your friend or listen to music, it’s an easy way exercise and can also help to relieve stress and take your mind off of things.

3.    Walking/cycling to work
Try walking or cycling to work, it can help to save money as well as getting in some simple and easy exercise.

5.    Slim fast diets
There are many weight loss programmes and ways to help you lose weight, slim fast is one of them. They have a wide variety of products that are low calorie and fat products free, the idea of them is to replace snacking on food such as chocolate and crisps.

4.    Eating healthy
Eating healthy is a big factor when it comes to weight loss, if you’re a big junk food lover, why not try and cut out the fatty crisps and chocolate and replace it with some fruit or low caloriesnack. If you often have takeaways or readymade meals, try having something home cooked and healthy instead.

6.    Clubs - Weight Watchers
Weight watchers have clubs all over England that helppeople with losing weight, they offer a support group which encourages you to reach your targets. They also have a wide variety of low fat/calorie products like Slim fast.

There’s no escaping the humble barcode. Since their commercial introduction in 1974, the innocuous vertical black lines have become synonymous with the consumer experience – from the checkout readers’ blip as a product is scanned, to the label on the outside of a newly delivered product.

There’s one reason for the ubiquity of barcodes, and that is traceability. The codes allow businesses to keep track of their products – whether that’s tiny electronic components or enormous pieces of machinery. Businesses of all forms can benefit from barcodes – here are just some of the possibilities.


A security system where doors are fitted with readers that grant access via barcodes is useful for both safety and productivity. Because staff can be issued with cards featuring a person-specific barcode, their movement through a building can be traced. Unauthorised access can also be more easily monitored. Barcode labels can be easily added to existing staff identification cards.

Barcodes became commercially successful when they were used to automate supermarket checkout systems, starting with a 10-pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum in the seventies. Nowadays, most businesses choose to attach a barcode label to their products.

The benefit for the retailer is that they can easily check stocks and order more when supplies are running low. They can also easily read the important information relating to the product, such as its price, expiration date and the date it arrived in the shop.
Loyalty cards

The use of a barcode on the back of a loyalty card effectively turns the cardholder into the equivalent of a product. What they buy, where they buy it and when they buy it are all recorded for analysis in a computer. The information can collectively be used to offer products to the right people at the right time – thereby dramatically increasing sales.

Increasing numbers of retailers are jumping onto the loyalty card band wagon, with corresponding numbers of consumers willing to use them – approximately 85% of UK households have at least one loyalty card, according to the TNS market researcher company.
Delivery notes

Having a barcode on delivery notes allows head office to know the minute a delivery has been successfully made, or an item picked up. It also boosts the efficiency of the delivery driver by reducing the need for constant stock supervision.
Tracking equipment

Whether it’s the laptop of a mobile worker or a piece of plant on hire, the equipment used by businesses usually needs to be tracked. Knowing who has what and where, makes operations run more smoothly and allows any repairs to be carried out quickly and efficiently.

Barcode labels can simplify filing systems and help managers keep track of important documents. Companies such as South East Labels can provide information on how best to barcode business documents.
Resource box

History of the barcode

Gallery of creative barcode designs

Wall Street Journal
How to get UPC barcodes for your products

Cardiff is a really vibrant city and a great destination for anyone who’s found someone to meet up with through online dating. There are plenty of interesting places to take a date, and many things to do in the city.
Checking out the art galleries and museums, exploring what Cardiff Bay has to offer and visiting Cardiff Castle together are among the things you could do on a date. This guide provides six of the best suggestions for spending a romantic time in Cardiff.
Relax in Cardiff Bay
You’ve taken the plunge and set up your online dating profile at http://www.eharmony.co.uk, met someone and now you need somewhere to go on a romantic date in Cardiff. Cardiff Bay  is one place you could head for,as it has a bit of everything, including places to shop, eat and just relax. Let time  pass as you get lost in each other’s company and explore what Cardiff Bay has to offer.
Check out the museums
If you’re going on a date in Cardiff, there are plenty of good museums you can take your love interest to. The National Museum Cardiff and St Fagans National History Museum are two places worth a look.
Talk about the art in the city
Cardiff also has a handful of art galleries you could take your date to. Contrast the contemporary art at Chapter Arts Centre with a visit to the Martin Tinney Gallery, which houses works of Welsh art over the years. After your visits you can grab a drink and talk about the different artwork.
Visit Cardiff Castle
No trip to Cardiff would be complete without a visit to Cardiff Castle. Take a specialist tour and learn all about the history of the castle together. After you’ve done that you can head coffee and cake in the café.
Go for a romantic stroll in Roath Park
Sometimes the most romantic thing you can do is just spend time doing nothing but talking and walking. Long
strolls are ideal, and settings don’t come much better in Cardiff than Roath Park. It’s over 100 years old, has a lake and beautiful botanic gardens, and is the ideal location for some together time.
Spend the day shopping at St David’s
It might not sound like the most romantic activity, but how about a day’s shopping at St David’s? Make it fun by splitting up to buy each other a gift and then get back together, have a drink and exchange gifts. This is a really good way to make the most of your first online date in Cardiff.
This all might sound great, but what if you’re not sure how to start online dating? There’s plenty of advice on dating site profiles on social network sites like Twitter that can help, so do a little research and put yourself out there!
Resource box
Visit Cardiff
The official online guide to Cardiff
Top 10 budget places to eat in Cardiff
A guide to affordable good food in Cardiff from the Guardian
The official Cardiff Bay website
All you need to know about Cardiff Bay
Going abroad on holiday or for a gap year should be the opportunity to discover a new country, or many, and new cultures. Travelling is not just about being away from home and ending up doing the same thing, there is more to it. So how can you make the best of your travels or holidays?

Living with the Locals

The best way to discover what a country really is about is to spend time with its population. There are now many websites where you can rent rooms in people's houses and share their daily life. Not only this way to travel is more friendly, it is also cheaper.

Volunteer Work

Volunteer work doesn't just apply to third world countries and there are many places you can spend time helping on different types of project during your holiday. From nature reserves in Central America to hospital building in Africa, you can donate your time and do something for a country and discover spots that are far away from the beaten paths.

Road Trip

Why stay in one place, or even two, when there is so much to discover in any country? You could see much more of it and meet many different people by moving from place to place. With a car, a camper van, or public transports, a road trip will give you a better idea of what a country really is. You can plan the trip or leave it to improvisation, whatever your taste._

Hike or Cycle

This one is for those who like to be outdoor and prefer active holidays. A cheap alternative to the road trip, hiking or cycling around a country is a unique way to take in the beauty of landscapes and cities. You will have access to another side of a country and if you double that with staying with locals, you'll have a memorable experience.

Work on a Cruise Ship

A good way to pay for your travel and get to many different places. Make sure that you will be allowed to get out of the boat during stops or this will be no more than just summer work without any benefits. With the right company, you could be paid to go to exotic places and discover other cultures.

Be an au pair

This one has many benefits: earning while getting free bed and bread, practicing another language, and sharing the life of locals. You will usually get a part of the day free as well as some evenings. If you want to work with children, being an au pair is a precious experience.
If you need ideas for places to go to, have a look here.