NOW ON AMAZON!

When we started Bastide les Amis as a self-catering rental property in Menerbes, we provided our guests with a printed Guide to the property and some useful day trips and items of local interest which are often not carried in the more commercial and established Guide Books.

We’ve had such a great reaction and coupled with the growing readership of this website, we felt that we should expand the concept into a 100 page book. Lovonne’s beautiful photographs taken over the seasons, complement the words which give you a highly personalised view of the Luberon and surrounds.

From a [very] short History of Provence, to day trips, some quirky trips like discovering the secrets behind the ‘turnarounds’ (the roundabouts!) to ‘Finding your way around a French supermarket’, Footsteps has been designed to give you an insight before, during and even after your trip to Provence – no matter how many times you have been here.

Footsteps – the Luberon and Surrounds, is available from Amazon as a hard copy book or can be downloaded via the Kindle App on to your ipad, iphone or any other smart/tablet device. The price is €19.00 (GBP16.00;US$24.99;AU$25.00;ZAR206.00). Downloading the Kindle app is free – merely go to your favourite App Store.

*Currency conversions apply from US$ at time of writing, Amazon will provide their own ruling price at purchase.

COMING SOON ON AMAZON!

When we started Bastide les Amis as a self-catering rental property in Menerbes, we provided our guests with a printed Guide to the property and some useful day trips and items of local interest which are often not carried in the more commercial and established Guide Books.

We’ve had such a great reaction and coupled with the growing readership of this website, we felt that we should expand the concept into a 100 page book. Lovonne’s beautiful photographs taken over the seasons, complement the words which give you a highly personalised view of the Luberon and surrounds.

From a [very] short History of Provence, to day trips, some quirky trips like discovering the secrets behind the ‘turnarounds’ (the roundabouts!) to ‘Finding your way around a French supermarket’, Footsteps has been designed to give you an insight before, during and even after your trip to Provence – no matter how many times you have been here.

Footsteps – the Luberon and Surrounds, is available from Amazon as a hard copy book or can be downloaded via the Kindle App on to your ipad, iphone or any other smart/tablet device. The price is €19.00 (GBP16.00;US$24.99;AU$25.00;ZAR206.00). Downloading the Kindle app is free – merely go to your favourite App Store.

*Currency conversions apply from US$ at time of writing, Amazon will orovde their own ruling price at purchase.

COMING SOON ON AMAZON!  To pre-order, contact: simonburrow@orange.fr

A rather stunning pic of Menerbes from one of the many cherry orchards

Every year various organisations take a chance t designating the ‘World’s Most Liveable’ Ciites with a ranking of security, lifestyle, climate, amenitiies. It’s all rather ubjective but it’s also a little bit of fun.

The 2011 rankings are out and Melbournians will rejoice, not at coming 2nd but at giving those guys up the drag in Sin City a bit of a hammering. This latest list was compiled by The Economist Intelligence Unit:

Arguably the finest sports precinct in the world in the foreground. Melbourne city at rear

1. Vancouver, Canada

2. Melbourne, Australia

3. Vienna, Austria

4. Toronto, Canada

5. Calgary, Canada

6. Helsinki, Finland

7. Sydney, Australia

8. (equal) Perth, Australia

8. (equal) Adelaide, Australia

10. Auckland, New Zealand

Just as fun, and definitely not on anyone’s travel itinerary (unless you have to!), the bottom 10 cities were:

Harare road - Mugabe also lives in the city.

1. Harare, Zimbabwe

2. Dhaka , Bangladesh

3. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

4. Lagos, Nigeria

5. Algiers , Algeria

6. Karachi, Pakistan

7. Douala, Cameroon

8. Tehran, Iran

9. Dakar, Senegal

10. Colombo, Sri Lanka

LOS ANGELES – Stop the presses — completely. The world’s first iPad newspaper, The Daily, is prepping for launch.
Journalists have been hired and are in place at multiple U.S. bureaus, including Los Angeles and New York.
The formal announcement of the digital publication owned by News Corp. will be made at an event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on Jan. 19, according to two people familiar with the matter. The people said the event will be attended by Steve Jobs, chief executive of iPad-maker Apple Inc., and Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp.
The people were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Details are scant, including how much a subscription to the tablet-only paper will cost, if there is indeed a fee, but the name at least implies it will come out once a day. It will cover general news, culture and entertainment and will include video.
The publication is a bold attempt by Murdoch to rewrite the business of journalism, as revenue from print circulation and advertising has plunged and growing advertising sales on websites have not made up the difference.
At an investor’s conference last month, News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey called The Daily a “small bet” because costs were limited mainly to a modest editorial staff. By contrast, printed newspapers

Source Associated Press

We often question the right investment decision, the right way of preserving funds for retirement and also ensuring that your beneficiaries (if there are any) are not saddled with huge tax and other bills. There’s also the concept of SKI (spending kid’s inheritance)! A mate told me the other day that the old Jewish forefathers had it right – one-third property; one-third equities; one-third cash.

Early in life with the full flush of cash-flow and retirement ‘somewhere over there’, many of us have taken out life assurance as an investment and protective mechanism. We have recently conducted a small review of these instruments and one such case really does bear sharing with all LSW readers.

Life assurance policy: Taken out with Liberty Life (South Africa) on 1/9/1994

Monthly premium (now): R292-57 – this has been paid for 75 months and increases by a minimum of 10% per annum.

Total pay-in: R21,960-00

Death benefit (now): R276,000

now.. here comes the rub………

Stop paying the premiums and ask for (some of your money back) – you’ll get R11,210-00!

The ‘Illustrative Value’ ie what they anticipate the value will be on 1/9/2015 after 20 years – R1,926-00   (THAT is NOT a typo!)

What do you do? You write an ask the insurance company for information and this is what you receive back

This is a Guaranteed Reviewable Lifestyle policy. This type of policy is a life assurance plan providing maximum life cover for a given level contribution. Therefore, life cover is provided at the lowest possible cost, with amounts allocated to investment being just sufficient to support the policy in later years when the risk increases. The surrender value that is built up is used mainly for pre-funding purposes. Prefunding is the process of providing for future premiums by paying additional premiums (upfront or in early years) in the current premiums. The initial premiums are higher than that required to cover the risk, so that later in the policy¿s duration the premium payable is lower than that actually required to cover the risk. Prefunding is a long-term concept to supplement the life cover risk costs in the later years when the life assured gets older. In the later years, the premium becomes insufficient to pay for the life cover risk costs and the shortfall is drawn from the surrender value.

This is the very essence of universal costing to fund the cheapest possible life cover while building a reserve that will be depleted when it is used to fund the ever-increasing cost of life cover. The investment value on this whole of life product should never be considered as a measure of the value of this policy as its main purpose is to provide a sum assured to the beneficiaries on death. As a result, this policy should never be viewed as an investment product as it was not designed in that manner. The policy is set out in such a way that two accounts are run concurrently. These accounts are the investment account and the expense account. At any time, the surrender value of the policy is the difference between the two accounts.

Under the General Conditions found in the policy document of the Guaranteed Reviewable Lifestyle product, the cash value and the surrender, is defined as follows: “Subject to Liberty Life’s practice at the time and any legislative limits, the policy may be surrendered for the cash value (if any). The cash value is the investment value less unrecouped expenses determined by the Actuary of Liberty Life.” The value of the outstanding expense account at a point in time is determined as the total value of the costs incurred on the policy to the date of surrender less the charges levied to date against the policy in order to cover these costs over time. The charges levied to recoup these costs could include policy fees, asset based fees and premium based charges. Where applicable, any commission that will be recovered on surrender will be used to reduce the outstanding expense account before the surrender value is determined.

What can you say to this actuarial gobbledygook except to say – I’ll take my money elsewhere!

    Here’s a great (edited) article written on www.2oceansvibe.com by the ‘Silverstreak’ on South Africa’s admittance to BRIC:

    South Africa has received an official invitation to join the BRIC economic development block, comprised of emerging giants Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

    In short, we’ve just been called over to the bleachers by the cool kids, and offered a cigareette.

    BRIC isn’t an economic bloc, in truth. It’s an anagram, invented in 2001 by Goldman-Sachs economist, Jim O’Neil to describe a hypothetical economic bloc of rapidly developing nations that he forecast would eclipse the US as the global economic and geopolitical  iron-man.

    It took those four countries, who have since adopted that anagram, a total of eight years before they held their first summit, in Russia.

    So why has South Africa been invited to BRIC?  Annual GDP falls woefully short of the BRIC gold standard of 10%, and SA’s labour-friendly policies hold no promise of cheap labour en masse – generally regarded as one of the sure-fire kickstarts to an industrialised developing economy (cue China).

    Malaysia, Vietnam, Nigeria or Mexico would be much more logical bets for new additions to BRIC. So the question must be begged, what are BRIC playing at by toying with BRICS?

    While South Africa is probably betting on improved trade ties and a rosier standing in global economic debate (the Rand exchange has already experienced a sharp jump since the breaking of the news), BRIC’s short term goals are not to extract the same sort of benefit from South Africa. They’re playing political, geopolitical.

    Rapidly developing nations need resources, and lots of them.

    Africa remains resource-rich, and wholly under-developed, which is why Nigeria was overlooked. West Africa’s major resource base – oil – is mired in a dirty man’s game of prospectors, tappers, multinational corporations and rotten bureaucrats. It’s not worth getting in to, the margins are too low.
    A bridge too far with the speculation? Maybe. But the cool kids were never sincere, and they’re not about to change their tack for the fresh meat in braces – us.

This ad needs no comment ……  (it’s for a lawyer!). In Papua New Guinea.

We’re trying to get some information abut Hand Baggage requirements from flybe.com – a budget airline operating Europe.

The call centre is ‘too busy’ to take calls because of the weather: understood.

I wrote to the ‘Customer Service’ email ‘hotline’ : I got this request back

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for your email.

We would like to assure you that your comments have been forwarded to a member of the Customer Relations Team and you will receive a response in due course however, this will take up to 5-6 weeks.

We would like to assure you however, that your correspondence has been forwarded to all Management concerned for their information.

We thank you for your patience during this time.

Yours sincerely

Customer Relations Admin

It doesn’t augur well for the flight…… did someone say ‘Broken Britain’.

This story probably hasn’t got the airplay it certainly deserves as it has serious potential impact on how Australians receive their medicine via the pharmacy and hospital distribution channel.

However, are we surprised?

API Share Chart

API Share Chart

The shares of the two listed wholesalers now officially classified as ‘tickey-stocks’. Who cares?

Here’s the story……..

Crikey’s Market Report – Monday: “Sigma Pharmaceuticals (SIP) says it will lose 10-15% of its wholesaling revenues from February 2011 after Pfizer decided to distribute its prescription medications directly to chemists. SIP down 9.2%.”

ASX Announcement – Monday: Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (API) states “At this point in time, API expects its annual revenues to be negatively impacted by the Pfizer announcement in the range of 10-15%. API down 10%.”

So? What’s it all about? Why the dire pronouncements?

Remembering that the other member of the Wholesaling triumvirate, Symbion, is privately owned, you can place a sure bet, that they have suffered likewise.

At the pointy end of this announcement is the fact that Pfizer have announced that they will be distributing their own product to Community Pharmacy with effect from February 2011.

This rips the carpet out from under the wholesalers who have banked on such blockbuster drugs such as Lipitor, Viagra and Celebrex to feed their expensive distribution channels as they deliver medicines daily – and sometimes twice daily, to pharmacies.

As a double-whammy, the wholesalers will have major reductions in their income when the new PBS reforms bite in early 2011.

When you consider that it was only three short years ago that API was comfortably in the ASX 200 and Sigma fence sitting between the ASX 100 and 200, what has happened? Why have multi-billion dollar turnover companies floundered?

While all parties hide behind the PBS changes, the onslaught of generics (Lipitor comes off patent next year), the demise of both Sigma and API can also be traced to an unsustainable model whereby they receive 15c for every $1 they make for distributing to pharmacies. That should be sufficient, and the government thinks so as well, but, and it’s a huge BUT, they then hand back at least 5c to pharmacists in return for their business.

Add to this their huge overheads, excessive executive salaries, lack of coherent strategies, massive sheds and head offices, the Wholesale model is not sustainable.

Pharmacists were wooed with preferential rates, overseas tours (the 2011 API tour to Paris and Barcelona is the latest to be advertised), and special offers to finance pharmacy expansion.

This correspondent wrote earlier this year in Croakey – and was roundly condemned within the industry for it – that the government was tired of the continual whinging and wrangling between the Pharmacy Guild and the Wholesalers, and would let natural attrition take its course.

The ship has left the harbour. If other drug manufacturers follow suit – there’ll be a few property auctions around the country.

This story was written for Crikey and Croakey.

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