How to prepare for a virtual interview – tips for candidates

As coronavirus restrictions continue into 2021, virtual interviews are becoming the standard practice in the hiring process in all sectors and across all industries. This is great for those already up to speed on webcam technology; however, this prospect can be daunting for some, and may even put many off applying for jobs in the first place. With that in mind, here are a list of the best tips, things to avoid, and ways of making a good impression in online interviews, which will hopefully elevate some of the stress surrounding virtual recruitment. By James McKean What tips are there for candidates interviewing virtually? Don’t be too Relaxed First of, candidates should prepare for their interview well in advance. The idea of a virtual interview has the potential to lead candidates into a false sense of security – online interviews tend to be conducted in a setting that the candidate is familiar with, and hence, will more likely make them feel as though nothing can go wrong. However, just because the interview is being conducted from the comfort of one’s home doesn’t mean preparation should fall to the wayside. There are just as many variables to consider in conducting a virtual interview than there are for in-person interviews. Also, just because you are at home does not mean you can cheat, or quickly google answers to questions when asked. This kind of ill preparation won’t go unnoticed, and its best to research the company you are applying for prior the interview, just as you would for a physical interview, and prepare yourself for any questions that may be asked. Virtual interview preparationEnsure Technology and Software is Working The main form of preparation that should be carried out by the candidate is to check that all electronics are working efficiently enough to perform smoothly during the interview. The last thing you want in a virtual interview is to be faced with an unexpected technical difficulty or complete programme shutdown. Its best to download whatever platform the interview is scheduled to be conducted over – whether that be Skype, Zoom, or Hirevue – in order to make sure it functions well on your device. It could be an idea to ask a friend to help you carry out a dry run of the interview, particularly if the interview is being conducted over a platform you are not familiar with, in order to check you are up to speed with the technologies of said platform, and to generally make yourself more comfortable with the software. Of course, doing a dry run interview would also be a good way of checking that your headphones and microphone are also in working order. Determine the Best Setting Think of the setting you choose to conduct the interview in as an extension of you – there’s no point dressing up for the interview if your surroundings are untidy. It would be best to position yourself at a desk, with a blank wall or window nearby in order to allow for optimum lighting and to maintain yourself as the focal point. Treat the room as you would an office – don’t leave washing or mess in the surrounding area. Make sure that your chosen seat is comfortable and provides the best back support for you to convey positive body language. Also, make sure your chosen room is free from being interrupted by any outside noise, and that during the interview, your television and cell phone are switched off. Avoid Talking Over Your Interviewer With unexpected connection issues this may sometimes be unavoidable. However, one way of keeping this to a minimum is by making sure that the interviewer has reached the end of the question before answering. This can be achieved by taking your time in answering, and even leaving a few seconds space between question and response. You could even utilise these couple of seconds to properly think about your answer in your head before responding. Eating or Drinking Water is of course fine, but anything else will could give a negative impression, and may even leave the interviewer thinking that you are more interested in the food or drink than the job itself! what to wear virtual interviewHow to dress for a virtual interview? Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you should wear comfortable clothes – you should dress almost exactly as you would for an in-person interview, bar, maybe, shoes. This means a suit, if you have one, or a well ironed shirt and tie. With webcams and software getting increasingly more advanced by the day, the interviewer is sure to pick up on dirty or creased garments. Dressing well may also set you in better stead mentally for the interview, knowing you are dressed well, you may well feel more professional and capable of presenting decorum. Eye Contact Even although you and your interviewer could be miles apart, maintaining eye contact is essential in order to make a good impression. One way of ensuring this is by making sure your webcam is at eye-level, and that you are always staring into the webcam. With virtual interviews, the urge is there to look at yourself on the screen and see how you are coming across. Although this may seem beneficial, not making direct eye contact will not come across well to the interviewer. Body Language As aforementioned, choosing the right seat is important to ensure that you are comfortable throughout the interview, but it is also important in order to convey the best body language to your interviewer. Given that the entire physical element of the interview is removed, it is often hard to convey positive body language, given that you can’t handshake or appropriately greet your interviewer, or perhaps gesticulate as much as you would like. In order to make up for this lacking, be sure to choose a comfortable seat that allows you to sit up straight and maintain a good posture throughout the interview. Perhaps also position the seat far enough away from the webcam in order to fit in essential hand gestures.

We are Over the Hump! Issue 35

We are officially ‘Over the Hump’! It is Wednesday, and the downhill slope to the weekend starts here! Our highlights from across this week include :  
  • Scotland may be best known for whisky, gin and Irn Bru. But there is a new drink in town – Scottish vodka. Its popularity is rising and there is a surprising variety of flavours and brands to try. Read more here.
  • Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. Rock stars promote it, but only one bar truly epitomised the hedonistic lifestyle adored by so many. Bullets in the walls, hundreds of bar fights, and with a reputation for female customers dancing on bar tops, the Hungry Duck earned its infamous standing in history. But what brought the downfall of Moscow’s most infamous bar? Discover more here.
  • Where once, popping round for pot of tea was the norm, nowadays few of us view it as such. Social etiquette has reversed and now, a surprise visit between friends and family is regarded as being both rude, and an inconvenient nuisance. Have we marred social civility by disregarding this quaint tradition? And what are the new etiquette rules on visiting family and friends? Find out more here.
  • The Runrig farming system was once common system of land tenure across Scotland, especially in the Highlands. It was a fair system that sustained large populations in an adverse climate. So why did it end? Find out here.
  • You can follow Over The Hump on Twitter at @Over_theHump
  • Ever since opening in 1995, Denver International Airport has been the subject of conspiracy theories linking it to government cover-ups and the world’s elite. The airport’s artwork which includes a model of a demon horse with glowing red eyes and a statue of the Egyptian god of death have only fueled the rumours that the airport is a centre of evil! Discover more here.
  • This ordinary ship from the Clyde has had an extraordinary life – from rescuing survivors at Dunkirk in its early years to its final resting place where it now features as the backdrop to the most photographed beach in Europe. This is the story of the MV Panagiotis. Read our article here.
  • You can follow Compass on Twitter @WIL_Compass

The Scottish Vodka Boom Coming to a Bar Near You

Scotland may be best known for whisky, gin and Irn Bru. But there is a new drink in town – Scottish vodka. Its popularity is rising and there is a surprising variety of flavours and brands to try. By James McKean With the craft beer market long since saturated, and the craft gin scene gradually abating, distilleries the world over have been experimenting with alternative spirits in order to get ahead of the curve: to secure a stake in the next phase of the craft alcohol movement. The rest of the world has turned to whisky, rum, and mezcal; while Scotland’s distilleries, on the other hand, have focused their energies on a spirit that has never, unlike gin, experienced a lull in its popularity; a spirit that remains, in big brand form, as ubiquitous as ever: vodka. An unusual direction to take when considering that over £204 million worth of vodka is sold annually in Scottish pubs. It’s a wonder that anyone could even consider re-selling the mainstay of every bar speed rail, and yet, the last few years has seen a serious uptake in distilleries throughout Scotland opening with the purpose of producing vodka, and other, already established companies in the drinks game, such as the world famous Brewdog, trying their hand at making the traditionally potato-based spirit. So, what has been the impetus for this unforeseen fascination, what ingredients are the distillers experimenting with, and to which global markets are these brands selling to? Why has the artisan Scottish vodka business grown so much in recent years? Forgoing Scotland’s already established national drink, whiskey, craft distillers have turned their attention to vodka – a drink more commonly associated with, and championed by, such nations as Russia, Poland, and Sweden. Even in 2019, the three top vodka brands sold in Scotland were Smirnoff, Absolute, and Glen’s. So, what has given Scotland the Dutch courage to challenge such a well-defined market? Following on from other U.K-wide craft alcohol scenes, namely, the recent craft gin boom, which made £612m in export in 2018, many distilleries and breweries have been since looking for new, unique ways to profit off the craft alcohol movement. One trend that is noticeable in the typically capricious craft market is that quirky, out-there products tend to work, and sell, best – whether that be unusual craft beer flavours, or unexpected botanicals used in gins. It is within this line of thinking that the emerging Scottish craft vodka distilleries – including the likes of Ogilvy Vodka and Arbikie – are thinking, with vodka being a particularly unusual and quirky choice to fit within the ‘craft alcohol’ bracket. The more unique, the better – and with the market being bereft of any major ‘craft’ vodkas, the desire to fill that gap is obviously strong amongst craft distillers. Although the craft movement is happening the world over, Scotland has contributed greatly towards the development thereof – Brewdog, for example, now operate nearly 80 bars worldwide – which puts the nation in a good position for developing the scene further – now, with vodka. Scottish vodkaWhat ingredients are they using? The ethos of many of the new-age vodka distilleries in Scotland is to re-establish in the public’s eye what makes a vodka; vodka, taken for granted by many, is often disregarded as lacking in variety, flavour, substance, and is oftentimes drowned heavily with mixer, taken as a shot, or considered to be merely the alcoholic element of a cocktail – but never enjoyed simply for taste. The key players in the Scottish craft vodka scene have been looking to, of course, put taste first, but also experiment with a variety of different ingredients during the fermentation process, in order to give the spirit a new flavoursome edge. The Arbikie Highland Estate Distillery opened in 2013 and, prior to experimenting with vodka, found a name for themselves with their popular craft gin, Kirsty’s Gin. They started off with a traditional potato-based vodka, but later introduced their unique Haar Wheat Vodka in late 2017. Made from Zulu wheat- grown and harvested onsite – this vodka is described as being smooth with pastry and caramel notes. The Strathleven Distillers, on the other hand, have given a distinctly Scottish characteristic to their product, the Valt Single Malt Vodka. Like single malt whiskeys, this vodka is distilled exclusively using single malt barley, giving the spirit a richness, and making it totally unique from all other vodkas in the world! Ogilvy’s Scottish Potato Vodka have put a unique spin on the traditional vodka recipe, by using only wonky potatoes that have been rejected by supermarkets. Whether or not this potato selection adds any additional flavour to the vodka, it certainly helps with food waste surplus. Nonetheless, this vodka is described as having earthy, fruity, and creamy notes. Brewdog’s Lone Wolf Vodka focuses less on ingredients and more on the distilling process itself, filtering the spirit only once, and by purportedly using the biggest still in the whole of Europe! The end product is described as being sweet and spicy, and is served with ice. To which markets are they selling? Given how easily the rest of the world caught on to Scotland’s craft beer and gin produce, it won’t be long before many of the country’s craft vodka offerings are available further afield- and some already are! In the summer of 2020, Arbikie signed a deal with a Canadian drinks company, allowing for the Scottish firm’s vodka to be sold in Canadian supermarkets! This deal is indicative that the Scottish craft vodka scene is moving in the right direction, and, like the success of the country’s craft beer, will hopefully continue to grow notoriety on a global scale.

Remembering the World’s Wildest Bar – Moscow’s The Hungry Duck

Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. Rock stars promote it, but only one bar truly epitomised the hedonistic lifestyle adored by so many. Bullets in the walls, hundreds of bar fights, and with a reputation for female customers dancing on bar tops, the Hungry Duck earned its infamous standing in history. But what brought the downfall of Moscow’s most infamous bar? By Andrew Cook The Hungry Duck is now legend. The widely acclaimed bar from the late 90’s was a haven for irrepressible frivolity of youth. Wild parties, brazen strippers, and dancing on counter tops were all part of the daily routine. Perhaps strangest of all about this venue is the owner and location. At odds with the Russia we all know today, the raunchy bar opened in Pushechnaya Street in Moscow in 1995, and yet the manager who presided over the bar’s scandalous image was in fact, Canadian. Hailing from in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Doug Steele would be the notorious foreigner to leave a lasting mark on Moscow’s party scene. In 1993, with a group of fellow Canadians visiting Moscow, they debated, as drunken men are apt to do, about opening their own bar. Ignorant about the resounding effects it would soon leave on Moscow nightlife, the beginnings of the Hungry Duck were born. After a disastrous first attempt, involving dangerous disagreements with a pair of Chechen brothers, Doug Steele managed the soon-to-be den of debauchery from 1996, which began originally, as a simple restaurant. Hungry Duck MoscowThe Mayhem Doug Steele soon began the transformation into a Bar and Nightclub. Late hours, expatriates, and ladies’ nights were his focal points. As a venue with little space, customers began, tentatively at first, to dance on top of the bar. Perfect to give a show and receive free drinks, this then became a regular occurrence at the bar, now affectionately known as ‘The Duck’. In fact this became so common throughout the years, that ambulances were called over 40 times only to treat customers who injured themselves falling off the bar. The Hungry Duck became the place to be for expatriates and Russian youths. Before long, male strip shows were regular for ladies’ nights. Where men had to wait outside until late in the night, and ladies drank free drinks all evening. Yet it wasn’t all fun and games, the Hungry Duck would earn it’s infamous reputation. Customers and staff alike caused problems for the bar. Over the years the Duck suffered five bullets shot in the ceiling, with another three in the floor. The pub cycled through a grand total of 445 bar stools, and employed two full-time carpenters in an attempt to keep the furnishing in decent conditions after bar room brawls became a frequent occurrence. Over 2,000 passports were reported as lost during the years, and 133 members of staff were fired over accusations of theft. The Duck’s infamy also resulted in personal repercussions for the owner himself. Doug Steele received multiple, violent death threats from individuals, and was faced with a kidnapping attempt that very nearly succeeded. After a group of Chechens invited Mr Steele into their car to ‘discuss business’, they allegedly attempted to drag him inside, and were only foiled by the valiant efforts of a Cuban bartender, allowing Mr Steele to escape from what he described as, ‘what probably would have been a one-way trip to a quiet forest on the outskirts of town.’ Speaking to someone on our team who was there in 1997 :

If I google ‘The Hungry Duck’ today a rather genteel bistro in Ramsbottom, Lancashire appears. Which could not be further removed from the Hungry Duck I visited in Moscow in 1997. Genteel it was not. My friends and I used to visit three places every weekend; the Hungry Duck on Fridays, Chance on Saturdays and an Irish pub called Rosie’s on Sunday mornings to recover and swap tales over a big fry up. It was the standard expat circuit at the time. Rosie’s was pretty much like any other Irish pub in the world. Chance was a gay club in a former aquarium. A pretty standard gay club except that men swam in the tanks.. oh and it got blown up by a bomb soon after I left Moscow. The Hungry Duck was something else though. Very exceptional and you got a sense of being in a Zeitgeist place. Moscow’s Yeltsin era Cavern club or Studio 54. What hit you immediately was the concrete surrounds of the entrance and the metal detectors. This was a place that meant business where tough looking guys in leather jackets and flat caps jostled with big spending US corporate execs. It was a very bizarre mix of male strippers, mafia types, student expats and very beautiful women trying to entice the American oil execs with unlimited corporate credit cards. Then there was the Russian government official I saw once kissing a transvestite. And the Cuban circus performer I saw putting on a very ‘unusual’ show on the bar counter. I just remember the fun there and don’t recall seeing any weapons or real fisticuffs. It was like being back in the Weimar Republic. Had this been in New York in Studio 54 or at a hip nightclub in Paris in the 1960s, I probably would not have made it past the door. But as a student expat in 90s Russia, I was in quite a rare demographic as a young westerner so I was let in. The drink prices were actually quite cheap relatively too. And because I was at the bottom of the pecking order, I was left well alone by the Mafia to just dance, drink and have a good time! I will be visiting Ramsbottom later this year and hope to pop in to toast the Hungry Duck – old and new…oh, and I promise if I do visit not to dance on the tables and shoot a Kalashnikov at the specials board! ”

The Fall In the end, the bar’s downfall would not be due to the Russian Mafia, but rather to a wave of backlash from the prominent, puritanical elite, and their federal agencies. After government inspections of all Moscow nightlife, investigators were scandalised as they alleged they saw young women vigorously performing sex acts on a Nigerian male stripper named ‘Dillon’, while the Soviet National Anthem played in the background. Subsequently, the Duck became the most vilified club in Moscow. That bar was the talk of all the media, and the Duck itself was denounced on over 30 separate occasions in the State Duma – giving the Hungry Duck a unique legacy as the only bar ever denounced in a National Parliament! With pressure from an ex-ballerina by the name of Olga Lepeshinskaya, a board member of the directorate of the building where the Hungry Duck resided, a full-scale attempt to shut down the bar began. Building inspectors, fire marshals, and police crackdowns – there was no end to the resources thrown against the establishment. Suddenly every agency in Russia was out to shut down the entertainment in the bar under fear that the Hungry Duck was ‘corrupting Russia’s youth’. The bar fought back. When four City Duma reps came calling, the manager simply offered them drink after drink, and they ended up partying the night away with other customers – the atmosphere of the Hungry Duck was infectious, however, not every challenge could be overcome by supplying alcohol. Hungry Duck RussiaEconomic Crime Police raided and briefly closed the bar, with it re-opening soon after. Subsequently, the same Government Body then confiscated all the files on the bar. Health Inspectors were called out and made outlandish demands about the hygiene. Eventually over 256 criminal cases were created by police officers looking to help close down the venue, and 164 complaints were made against the Hungry Duck within a 3 month period! Police raids almost became a regular part of the weekly schedule for the Hungry Duck during the late 1990’s. Within two months, two of the largest police raids occurred in the Hungry Duck. The first one involved three busloads of armed police and paramilitary forces, from every department within Russian bureaucracy. 52 police officers being enlisted just to raid the single bar in one night. The second raid came a month later, when 79 customers were arrested under suspicion of narcotics. The large number of arrests was due to a Russian law allowing police to detain any individual who appeared under the influence of drugs. All 79 customers apprehended were subsequently released without charge, but the governmental pressure took a toll on the business. Closure Eventually things became too hot to handle. Immigration services were being contacted to revoke Doug Steele’s visa, the Moscow City Prosecutor charged the Hungry Duck with ‘Violating the Morality of Russian Youth’ . An archaic law that used to read ‘Soviet’ rather than ‘Russian’’, but it succeeded nevertheless. Despite Doug Steele’s attempts to open the Hungry Duck at a venue elsewhere, his hopes were shot down. With the venue so vehemently vilified in government and the media, no one was willing to risk it. So the coming of the new millennium washed away the unbridled frivolity of the Hungry Duck. This venue was truly one-of-a-kind. Only in Yeltsin-era Moscow, with youths throwing off the oppressive yoke of conservatism, was such a feat possible and the mayhem and parties that occurred there can only live on now in the memories of ex-customers.
Photo Credit : Duckholio

Popping Round Unannounced – A Pleasure or a Pain? What are the new etiquette rules on visiting family and friends?

Where once, popping round for pot of tea was the norm, nowadays few of us view it as such. Social etiquette has reversed and now, a surprise visit between friends and family is regarded as being both rude, and an inconvenient nuisance. Have we marred social civility by disregarding this quaint tradition? And what are the new etiquette rules on visiting family and friends? By Andrew Cook ‘Popping round’ as a child was one thing. Hopping on a bike and heading over to a friend’s house to ask if they’re available to play was both spontaneous and liberating. Dinner was almost always provided, and the favour returned at a later date. Rules were unwritten, yet understood – Don’t stay too late, and don’t damage the furniture. Yet as adults we now find ourselves viewing people who drop in unannounced as a burden, an annoyance, and in extreme cases (like your our in-laws), a nauseating nuisance. In fact, 80% of people consider unarranged drop-ins to be rude. So what has changed in the last few decades? Visiting neighboursFrom the Days of Yore, to Today Firstly, society has changed a great deal. A marginal number of households still maintain the ‘one breadwinner, one housewife’ paradigm. In the days of yesteryear, while one partner was working every day, the other would be at home, keeping the place idyllic and spotless for unannounced guests. Freshly baked bread and scones would be ready for an emergency, and of course all the chores would be completed by the time the breadwinner came home. That age of expectation has rightfully been consigned to history thanks to the unceasing march for women’s rights, yet the economy has also had role to play. Once upon a time, an entire family could be supported on one individual’s income, yet now with increasing wage disparity, both individuals are required to work the majority of the time. In addition to household chores, shopping, and other mundane tasks, we have much less free time to socialise than once we had. In today’s world we also have more work-from-home employees. Whether freelancing in their chosen field, or working remotely from home (an ever-increasing possibility since Covid-19 struck), we can never truly know if someone is occupied or not. Working on the clock, or facing a deadline, people working remotely may seem like they’re at home relaxing, but the reality is most assuredly different. Consider the fact that these work-from-home individuals may be too polite to refuse company, and thereby damage relations with family and friends, people who arrive unannounced can become an onus. Me Time! Stress from work, from bills, from being an introvert in an ever more connected society, it’s more apparent than ever that each person requires some ‘me time’. Time to do nothing, to recharge, to play our favourite video game or read a recommended book. Studies show that setting aside some personal time every day is essential to increasing productivity, happiness, gratitude, and empathy. All of these things are essential to face life, work, and guests, both invited and uninvited. As a necessity for every day life, individuals should not sacrifice their ‘me time’ to play host to an interloper, no matter the good intentions behind the visit. ”Dropping in is a pleasant surprise!” While by itself, the desire to see friends and family may seem like a wonderful gesture, the fact that individuals do not care to announce their intentions shows a distinct lack of empathy. Dropping in without forewarning lends itself to seeming brash, selfish, and uncaring of the needs of others. Our lives are filled with plans and motions, we cannot guarantee someone’s availability or desire to socialise, without asking them first. Unwelcome visitor”They should be pleased I dropped in!” No. While personal friendships can vary, and perhaps an unspoken agreement exists -‘Hey, you’re always welcome, drop in any time!’ – a call or text will forever be polite etiquette. They may be in a relationship dispute, going through emotional trauma such as watching a Game of Thrones episode, or worse. This lack of consideration from people clouds their thought processes. Unannounced guests tend to miss one simple consideration – ‘if my friend is free, and wants to socialise, why didn’t they drop in at my house first?’. While assumptions may be as old as mankind, but best to avoid them. But family is different? There is a reason we have doormats with the phrase ‘friends welcome, family by appointment only’. While family may believe they have added privilege endowed to them by blood or marriage, quite the opposite is true. None of us had the choice of our family, they come with the package. Being forced to deal at a drunken, racist Uncle at Christmas is more than enough for the year, therefore the same rules should apply to the whole family – APPOINTMENT ONLY! Are we diminished by losing this tradition? Absolutely not. We still talk, we make plans, and we socialise. The only difference between now and decades ago is our ability to communicate. In an era of instant communication, where we can call with a click of a button, there is no excuse for not organising ahead and asking permission. The days of awkward surprises should remain in that bygone era, when communication was far more minimal. So whether our friends are as social as Marie Antoinette, or as antisocial as the Grinch, calling ahead and seeking permission is the bare minimum we can do. Unless of course it is my house. all you need is a bottle of wine, then you are more than welcome.

Is Denver Airport a centre of evil? The bizarre conspiracy theories which plague Colorado’s international airport

Ever since opening in 1995, Denver International Airport has been the subject of conspiracy theories linking it to government cover-ups and the world’s elite. The airport’s artwork which includes a model of a demon horse with glowing red eyes and a statue of the Egyptian god of death have only fueled the rumours that the airport is a centre of evil! By Phil Taylor Is Denver Airport evil? Airports are meant to be a place of comfort, excitement and a place for people to feel relaxed. However, Denver airport is not that according to many people. It has become a hot topic since it was first opened but is Denver airport full of conspiracy theories and alternative views? Some would class Denver airport as evil, would this be a correct statement? Denver, situated in the state of Colorado and a growing metropolis which dates back to the Old West. With the Rocky Mountains and many national parks located a short distance from the city, it has become a real hub for travellers and holidaymakers. However, far from being a place of welcome, the state’s international gateway airport has an unsettling aura for many passengers. The airport opened in 1995 and was nearly $2 million over budget. Since opening it has been subject to various theories suggesting that the airport is evil. Denver Airport Conspiracy TheoriesThe New World Order designed the airport The first theory is that the New World Order actually designed the airport. The group are believed to have a power over the existing governments we have in place today and have close ties with Nazism. Just like many theories about hidden messages in Disney films, many people believe that there is one hidden in plain sight at the airport. People are convinced that the runways represent a swastika. A symbol of the Nazis and one that, when seen, conjures images of Germany in the 1930s and early 40s. However, there is no resemblance to the symbol unless you are really looking for it and even then you are clutching at straws to convince people that the runway is a swastika. Another ‘sign’, or theory, that The New World Order did in fact build this airport is on the airport’s plaque. It states that The New World Airport Commission helped with the building of the airport. However, many claim no such group exists, officially at least. It also features a freemason symbol which raises concerns with any conspiracy theorist no matter what the subject. There are also several markings around the airport that cause suspicion, if you are that way inclined. Many people believe these are signs from the New World Order but these are either references to the language of Navajo or periodic table of elements. The Giant Horse At Denver airport is possibly the scariest looking horse you will ever see. A blue mustang statute that has gained the nickname “Blucifer”, and too be fair this is pretty accurate! Standing at 32 feet tall and weighing 9,000 pounds, it is an intimidating piece of art. Not to mention the fact it has red eyes that light up! However, despite your views from an artistic standpoint there are several theories about the horse. Many are of the belief that it is an ode to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who feature in the New Testament; with the four horseman being death, famine, war and conquest. The artist who designed the horse and the vice president of communications at Denver airport debunked the conspiracy theories. Stacey Stegman, DIA’s senior vice president of communications, marketing and customer service stated, “We have this fierce blue mustang that we look at as kind of a protector of travelers, guarding this airport” Luis Jiménez, the artist, has been quoted that it represented the wild nature of Colorado. However, his death before its completion after the head of the sculpture fell on him has raised even more questions in the conspiracy theorist world. Denver Airport EvilRandom pieces of art It is no secret that Denver has some random pieces of art work especially with the work of Leo Tanguma dominating the airport. His mural is striking to say the least as it depicts world peace but it does have the imagery of a soldier with a ghoulish face. Many have used this mural as a link the Nazis and the New World Order references previously mentioned. However, despite its gruesome imagery there is no link to this mural being about Nazis but rather conflict in general. There are also several gargoyles situated around the airport. It is believed gargoyles are used to scare away bad spirits and some question the use of these. Why would a normal airport need gargoyles to scare away these spirits if it wasn’t already evil? Denver airport responded to these claims by saying the most of the gargoyles are placed at baggage claim to protect travelers’ luggage. Denver Airport evilIt is the headquarters for the illuminati In American society there are a lot of symbols from the freemasons which ties in to the links with the illuminati. With the previously mentioned freemasons symbols appearing around the airport and the mysterious money donated by The New World Airport Commission, several people are lead to believe that there is literally an underground lair for this underground society. With the airport of course using an underground system for the operation of the airport there has been speculation mounting that this is where the illuminati have their meetings. However, the airport uses the underground to get from one part of the airport to the other quickly. But, the theory still goes that there is a belief that “the lizard people” or aliens actually live under the airport in the 100 mile length tunnels which are designed for the apocalypse. Despite the airport only being open for 25 years, the length of the tunnels being speculated would have taken much longer to construct. Still want to visit Denver Airport? Regardless of all the speculation of evil, Denver airport is actually architecturally impressive and worth a visit, as is the city and mountains surrounding it. They even play up to the fact that their airport is full of conspiracy theories, so it is a lot of fun spotting all these alternative views when you are there.

The end of Runrig in Scotland – a sad loss?

The Runrig farming system was once common system of land tenure across Scotland, especially in the Highlands. It was a fair system that sustained large populations in an adverse climate. So why did it end? By James McKean Runrig, sometimes referred to as rig-a-rendal, was a form of rotational land tenure that once dominated farmlands in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, from the late-medieval period to the Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries. Its rotational aspect allowed for each member of minor settlements and townships to get a shot at the best land available, instead of one farmer having continual use of the best, or most fruitful soil, while another was forced to work upon unfertile land. Prior to the Highland Clearances, the Scottish farms were split up into small, 100-acre lands, which were divided up between the tenants, or the population of the small township that relied on the farm’s produce. Runrig was a fair system suited to the people of the Highlands, and certainly worked for a long time – so why did it stop, and what consequences did its gradual decline and replacement have on the farmers of Scotland? Runrig Loch LomondWhat was the runrig system? The exact origins of the runrig system are unknown, with evidence of its usage dating back to as early as the 14th century. Although generally considered a successful way to share the land, what defined a runrig system differed greatly from farm to farm, mainly apropos to the dividing of the workload, and the methods of ploughing implemented. Essentially, a standard runrig system involved two elements: the ‘rigs’ which were fertile strips of land -on average, about 20 feet wide – and the ‘runs’ which were strips of unfertile land – the assignment of ‘rigs’ and ‘runs’ alternated every year, so that all fertile strips had lain fallow for a season prior to being used. The farm tenants – who, at this time, consisted of roughly 6-8 farmers – were each allocated their own strips of fertile land each season. The strips they were allocated were were often scattered throughout the field at the benefit of the farmer, so to avoid contiguous strips, and so that each farmer got a mix of both sun-heavy strips and areas that were mostly shadowed. The strips allocated would also be reassigned each year, so that each farmer had a season with the best land, and each farmer had a season with the worst land. Some farms stuck by the strict principle of giving everyone an equal share, others did not. A rental report from Roxburghshire, dated 1701, conveys the disparities in land division: ‘William Robison pays for a Quarter & halfe a Quarter Robert Brewhouse pays for a Quarter John Turner for halfe a Quarter James Waddell pays for a Quarter’ Which suggests that although the runrig system looks good one paper, some farmers were cheated out of land. The Scottish Agricultural Revolution The union of Scotland and England in 1707 spelled the begging of the end of runrig-based farming in Scotland, as an earnest effort was made to modernise agriculture in both the lowlands and the highlands. In the previous centuries, the country had been bereft of appropriate roads for the transportation of goods through the country, so typical diet was limited to whatever could be grown on the farm – thus, during this time, runrig-based farming systems made complete sense. However, at the advent of the building of roads, and the introduction of new farming methods and techniques, such as crop rotation, sowing, and drilling, and new grains being introduced such as clover and rye grass, runrig-styled farming faced a stark decline in the lowlands, in what became known as the ‘Scottish Agricultural Revolution’. Small, former runrig farms were joined to form bigger enclosures in order to conduct large scale farming; notably, the Borders became notable for sheep farming, the Lothians for grain, and Ayrshire for cattle breeding. Runrig CroftThe Highland Clearances The effect of the so called ‘Agricultural Revolution’ extended to the Highlands in the latter period of the 18th century, as the Dukes of Sutherland, Buccleuch, Argyll, and Atholl looked to profit off the rich farmlands of the north. The tenants of the runrig farms were evicted and their lands were turned into enclosures, mainly for the farming of sheep. The Highland Clearances reached Skye in 1811, and North Uist in 1814. By the 1840s, Scotland was, besides some areas in the Outer Hebrides, totally bereft of runrig farms – the system that had, for centuries, defined the Highlander’s way of life. What societal changes did that bring? The Highland Clearances proved to cause long-term trauma for the Gaelic communities who were essentially uprooted from their ancestral homes, where they too had intended to live out their lives. Having only known how to farm – and even then, only runrig-based farming – the victims of the Highland Clearances were totally displaced, with no real chance of finding work in the post-Agricultural Revolution Scotland. New Highland townships and settlements were formed in the face of the uptake in homelessness in the area, including Ullapool, Dufftown, and Grantown-on-Spey. Some emigrated to the cities in the hope of finding new industrial work, while others emigrated abroad; 1792 became known as ‘the Year of the Sheep’, when many Gaelic-speaking communities’ mass-migrated to New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and America. Many migrants never had any say in the matter, as forced emigration became normalised, and was, in the eyes of the social class, the only way to solve the growing social ills that had been caused by the Highland Clearances. It is estimated that 10,000 were forced to emigrate to Canada, while 5000 were sent to Australia.

The most photographed beach in Europe – what links Zakynthos Bay in Greece to Scotland?

This ordinary ship from the Clyde has had an extraordinary life – from rescuing survivors at Dunkirk in its early years to its final resting place where it now features as the backdrop to the most photographed beach in Europe. This is the story of the MV Panagiotis. MV Panagiotis – From the Clyde to Zakynthos By James McKean Constructed on the Clyde in 1937, utilised to evacuate Dunkirk survivors during World War Two, and shipwrecked on the Greek island of Zakynthos in 1980, the incongruous MV Panagiotis is considered to be amongst the most visited shipwrecks in the world. With its rusted exterior, explorable interior, and its tropical backdrop of Navagio Bay, the Panagiotis certainly makes for an interesting Instagram post – but the ship’s long, colourful, and, at times, patchy history makes this abandoned vessel all the more fascinating. Read on as we marvel at the MV Panagiotis’ storied past, from the Clyde to the Ionian Sea. Starting life in quite the opposite from the climate in which it basks in today, the MV Panagiotis was constructed on the Clyde in Yard 341 in Bowling, Dunbartonshire, by one of the eras most prolific shipbuilding companies, Scott and Sons, who built over 450 vessels, many of which akin to the MV Panagiotis, between the years 1851 and 1979. The finishing touches to the vessel were carried out by British Auxiliaries Ltd, who added a diesel engine which operated at an impressive 532 BHP. The MV Panagiotis was built for coaster usage and was used as such by original owners of the vessel, J. & A. Gardner and Co in 1937 – until the outbreak of World War II.   Most instagrammable beacThe MV Panagiotis and World War II After serving for a short while as a cargo ship, the MV Panagiotis’ gross register tonnage of 452 was utilised for more humanitarian purposes at the advent of World War Two – as one of the many British ships who banded together to assist with the evacuation of Dunkirk, from the 26th of May to 4th of June 1940. Unfortunately, little information survives regarding how many trips to Dunkirk the Panagiotis made, or how many soldiers it saved – all that is known is that it answered Churchill’s call for maritime assistance. Shipwreck Amazingly, the vessel’s most recent history remains to be its most dubious. The ship passed through a plethora of owners in the immediate decades after the war, before falling into Greek ownership in the 1960s. Of the ownerships recorded, the vessel is known to have been bought in 1964 by M. Gigilinis and S. Kakassinas, both from Thessaloniki, who renamed the ship ‘Meropi’; it was then, in 1966, passed on to N.S Kalfas, who renamed it ‘Charis’; and was finally bought by P. Lisikatos & Company in 1975, who gave the vessel its final name, ‘Panagiotis’. The role the vessel played while it was owned by P.Lisikatos & Co, prior to being shipwrecked, has been greatly mythologized over time. The mythologized, and far more exciting, version of events involves pirates, the Italian mafia, and smuggled cigarettes. Most instagrammable beachThe story goes that the Panagiotis wound up spending her last years on the sea as a pirate ship, ordered by the Italian mafia, which smuggled cigarettes between Turkey and Italy. Greek authorities allegedly caught wind of this skullduggery and sent out fleets of the Greek Navy in order to intervene and curb this illegal trade. While attempting to circumvent this pursuit, the Panagiotis is said to have sailed into a storm and drifted towards Zakynthos, where it became shipwrecked on its western coast. Another, more elaborate, yarn that is frequently spun by Zakynthos locals claims that the boat was carrying not only cigarettes and wine but also human prisoners to boot. In this version of events, the storm is often omitted, and it is claimed, instead, that the Panagiotis simply ran out of fuel and was gradually swept ashore. However, these fables, as exciting as they are, were rendered inaccurate as of 2016, when the former and last captain of the Panagiotis, Captain Charalambos Kompothekras-Kotsoris, came forward with the truth. He explained that the vessel was never used for pirating activity and was in fact lawfully transporting goods between Kefalonia and the Albanian port city of Durres at the time of the shipwrecking. The storm part of the pirating yarn remains to be the only factual part, as Kompothekras-Kotsoris claims that the vessel was beached on the 2nd of October 1980 on account of a storm. For those unsatisfied with the blandness of this version of events in comparison to the fables involving pirates, it is worth noting that the Panagiotis was later plundered for its legitimate goods, which resulted in the arrest of nearly 30 Zakynthos locals, which makes captain Komphothekras-Kotsoris’ account slightly more thrilling. Most photographed beach in GreeceTourist Attraction The Panagiotis, which has now lain abandoned for over 40 years, has become an integral part of Zakynthos’ identity, so much so that the beach in which it lies has been renamed to Navagio, which is Greek for ‘Shipwreck’, and is sometimes even referred to as ‘smugglers cove’. The ship has prominently featured on Greek postcards since it was originally beached and continues to attract waves of tourists every year. It is, today, a heavily instagrammed spot, having topped FlightNetwork’s 100 Best Beaches list in 2018, and being labelled as ‘the world’s most famous shipwreck’ by Culture Trip. Given the beach’s positioning, the wreck itself cannot be reached on foot, meaning that visitors are required to take a 30-minute boat ride in order to reach it. However, this minor complication does not deter flocks of people visiting, as the trip is worth it not just for the wreck, but also to marvel at the white sands and marble cliffs, and swim in the island’s blue shores. Navagio beach was used as a key setting in the Korean show ‘Descendants of the Sun’ which has further popularized the destination. From shipwreck to most instagrammable beach in Europe Originally feared to be an environmental issue, the MV Panagiotis has since been deemed safe to slowly erode on one of Greece’s most idyllic waterfronts. As incongruous as the Panagiotis is, the ship makes for a totally unique landmark, has inspired countless myths and legends, and connects Scotland to Greece in the most unusual of ways.

Visiting Fair Isle

Fair Isle is officially the most remote island in Britain – it can also be challenging to reach and is totally bereft of pubs and restaurants; and yet, tourists flood to this slight island, positioned between Orkney and Shetland, annually in their hundreds. So, what is it about the isle that draws globe trotters towards this seemingly insignificant island? By James McKean What is the island known for? Fair Isle is known, first and foremost, for its total remoteness. It lies almost directly in the middle of Britain’s two most northern arpeggios, the Shetland and Orkney Isles, with no inhabited island within its vicinity – making it the most remote of all the inhabited British Isles. Despite its population of 65, the Fair Isle has a desolate allure about it; the two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride it takes to get there certainly adds to this feeling – as many feel they are nearing the edge of the world when journeying towards it! The Fair Isle is also known to be a honeypot for birdwatchers; its remote positioning lends itself to being one of the main pit-stops for migrating birds in the spring and autumn seasons, and as a nesting place for seabirds during the summer months. The Fair Isle finds itself is in line with many migration routes, and is said to be amongst the best places in Europe – and definitely the best place in Western Europe – to catch a glimpse of the likes of Siberian passerines, arctic warblers, lanceolated warblers, and the ultra-rare thrush nightingale. Fair Island is also home to two of Scotland’s 209 working lighthouses, and one of Scotland’s 282 Munros, Ward Hill, which, at an altitude of 217m, acts as the isle’s highest point. Travelling to Fair Isle How to get there? It is possible to travel to the Fair Isle either by sea or by air. By sea, the small ferry, the Good Shepherd IV, sets out from Grutness, south Shetlands, and sails to the Fair Isle and back again on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. During the winter, however, it only sails on Tuesdays. By air, it is possible to fly via Shetland, with flights departing every weekday from Tingwall Airport, and also every Saturday during the summer. A weekly Saturday flight also departs from Sumburgh, from April to October. What to see? George Waterston Memorial Centre and Museum – The Fair Isle has a lot to thank George Waterston (1911-1980) for, but mostly for the island’s popularity amongst birdwatchers today; Waterston, himself a conservationist and keen ornithologist, owned the island between 1947 and 1954, oversaw the opening the Fair Isle Bird Observatory Lodge in 1948, and remained the president of which until his death. His life and contribution to the island is commemorated in this museum, which also paints the fascinating history of the island through artefacts and display boards. Fair Isle Lighthouses – Fair Isle boasts two lighthouses, the North Lighthouse and the South Lighthouse, which are both worth visiting and are of equal historical importance. Both were designed by the renowned Scottish engineering brothers, David A and Charles Stevenson, and were both first illuminated in 1892. The South Lighthouse is historic as it was the last to be automated, and the last to maintain its foghorn, in Scotland. The Fair Island Lighthouse Society conduct regular tours of each, which are both grade-II listed, wherein participants can learn of each structure’s extensive history.Fair Isle Sweater Fair Isle Knitting – With a number of independent makers and sellers of the world renowned Fair Isle knitting style still open and trading on the island itself, it is easy to pop in, watch a demonstration, and even learn how to knit the world-exclusive style. The biggest store on the island in which to find this is Mati Ventrillon Fair Isle Knitwear. Hiking on Fair Isle – The Fair Isle – with its varied terrain of of moors, fields, and hills – is a great destination for walkers and hikers, with walks and hikes suitable for all levels and capabilities! Popular routes include the brisk and level 6km between the North Lighthouse and the Bird Observatory, the tough 12.75km hike between Malcom’s Head and Sheep Rock, and the highly popular 4.25km Munro-clamber up the island’s peak, Ward Hill. Where to stay? There are no hotels or hostels available on Fair Isle; however, there are several B&Bs and guest houses available throughout the island. Recommended B&Bs and guest houses include the Buckle B&B, Auld Haa Guest House, Ms Kathleen Coull, Taft Guesthouse, and Springfield. Unique accommodation can be found at the South Lighthouse, with rooms available that boast spectacular views of the surrounding rocky cliff edges and sea. For £75 per night, guests will receive accommodation in this historic lighthouse, along with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What are the challenges of travelling to Fair Isle? Regular timetables, both for sea and air travel, can often be disrupted due to the often-unpredictable weather. Historically, there has been over 100 reported ships that have sunken before reaching the island’s coast, mainly due to the choppy seas and mist that oftentimes pervades the island entirely. Of course, pilots and captains know what the best port of call is and will not fly or sail if the weather is deemed unsafe. Despite all its merits, the Fair Isle is not a good destination for those seeking a social time. There are no pubs, restaurants, or cinemas onsite – so the Fair Isle may not be the best place for those seeking a cold pint, a gourmet meal, or to the latest blockbuster.  
Note – You should always check current COVID restrictions ahead of any travel.

Redundant at 45

Being made redundant at 45 can be traumatic. Not only does your loss of income come at a time of life when you have multiple expensive financial commitments such as a mortgage and schooling fees for children, you could also face difficulties finding another position due to ageism in the job market. By Phil Taylor Having a job brings security to life and enables you to do the things you enjoy in life. Although many people do not enjoy their job, they still feel it is vital that they have the job because it brings in money. Starting in your career and losing your job can be traumatic but you know that there are endless possibilities out there for you but how would it feel if you were made redundant at 45 years old? This could mean, if you started at 18, that you have 27 years of working life under your belt and it can be hard to think what is next in your career, especially if the decision was taken out of your hands. Being made redundant is when the company decide you are no longer needed to work for their company. It can be brutal and demoralising for anyone at any age. Usually there is a lump sum involved with the redundancy called a redundancy package. However, this will not last forever, and you must make sure you have an alternative in place. But just moving on can be awfully difficult to do after being told you are unneeded. First of all, it is important to look after yourself and try to stay calm about the life changing situation. The main thing to take from the decision is that you cannot take it too personally. Companies unfortunately have to make big calls and ones that result in people losing their jobs, however, it can just be a financial decision rather than one regarding your performance. It is important to stay calm and look for the positives from the situation. Although it might not seem like it at the time, but it could be an opportunity for change and a way of reinvigorating your career. The old phrase when one door closes another one opens comes to mind, and this is certainly the case with many people who have had to face redundancy. Use your support network around you to keep your mental wellbeing in check. That might be your partner, family, friends or even help from mental health charities, it is vital you stay focused on yourself rather than going into panic mode about the situation. Redundancy in 40sBeing made redundant is a way of taking stock from your life. It is an opportunity to get out of the daily grind of waking up each day and doing the same things each day. You can take a step back from the situation and look at what is important in your life, taking into consideration what makes you happy and will give you job fulfilment. It might be that this is what you really needed at 45. It could be a second chance to retrain as something else and make you feel like you are worthwhile, rather than just another number at a company where you do not feel valued. Go do something you enjoy rather than becoming bogged down with numbers on a pay slip. Once you have taken time to yourself then you can start think more clearly, regain your balance, and face the next steps. Those next steps can either be to move on and look for a new job or you might feel that you were dismissed unfairly. It is crucial that you take time to reconfigure yourself rather than jumping into a decision or reacting irrationally because you might be disgruntled. However, if it is the case you feel you have been made redundant unfairly or through a discriminative manner there are options for you to take. If you have the grounds to challenge the decision, then you can seek advice from professional advisors about what your legal action you can take against the company. There are many solicitors out there that will offer you the advice you need. It is essential you are taking the right action, especially during a pandemic. Although it might feel you have to fight for as much money, or even for your job, due to the uncertain times we live in, it is still important to look after yourself rather than forcing yourself down a road you might not want to be taking. Yes, it might be harder to get a job during the pandemic, but it is important to know that there are still opportunities out there. It might just take a bit longer but make sure you are looking after yourself first as opposed to doing something you do not want to do. The most important thing is to not panic and to think the worst thing in the world has happened. You can recover from this setback and come back a more fulfilled person than before. Be kind to yourself and use the people who love you rather than pushing them away. You can do it.