5 Ways of increasing your chances of surviving a plane crash

The odds of getting into a plane crash are low. Very low. In fact, your odds are only 1 in 8,357 of dying in an “air and space transport incident,” as the National Safety Council calls it. In fact, you are more likely to die from a lightning strike than to face an aircraft evacuation. But, the reality is, every time you strap yourself to the seat in a metal tube as it hurls itself through the air, you are facing the possibility of an emergency evacuation.

Recent events such as the crash of Emirates flight 521 are a reminder that as safe as air travel is, quick thinking flight attendants and a competent flight crew can mean the difference life and death. Long lines, tight spaces, and elbow rubbing with strangers is now the norm when it comes to air travel. Although packed planes only add to the chaos during an evacuation, with a little foresight and these tips, you will find yourself better prepared in the unlikely event of an emergency.

1. Keep your shoes on during take-off and landing.

Taxi, take-off, and landing are the most critical phases of flight. They are so crucial that flight attendants and pilots are prohibited from communicating with each other unless they are discussing an issue related to the safety of the flight. It is okay to slip your shoes off during flight, but putting your shoes back on prior to landing will prevent you from having to run barefoot across a jet-fuel soaked tarmac.

2. Do not drink or take medication to help you relax.

Sometimes nerves, the desire to start vacation early, or down right fear of flying will cause a passenger to drink alcoholic beverages or take a prescription medication to ease the stress of air travel. And while a cocktail is alright, keep in mind that your blood will be thinner at the high altitude even after cabin pressurization, and this can make the effects of alcohol feel more pronounced. When it comes to prescription medications, make sure you discuss your travel plans and anxieties with your doctor. The chances of surviving a plane crash hinge on two things: the ability of the flight attendants to get the exits open and your ability to get yourself to the exit. Make sure you are sober-minded enough to think clearly and move quickly.

3. Consider the type of aircraft.

Every type of aircraft is different. Even if you fly all the time, you are more than likely flying on different types of airplanes and sitting in different seats each time you take to the sky. Every time you get on a plane, take a minute or two to review the safety information card in the seatback pocket in front of your seat. Look at the diagram of the door and make a mental note as to how it opens. Does the plane you are flying on have slides at all the doors? What about the window exits? If you look closely right before take-off and right before landing, you may be able to catch your flight attendant doing a quick 30-second review once she takes her jumpseat. During this review, flight attendants mentally review what their actions would be in the case of an evacuation. They picture themselves opening the door or over wing exit and mental review evacuation commands. As a passenger, you should be familiar with the evacuation procedures, too. Especially if you are stretching out in the exit row.

4. Know how far you are from the nearest exit.

“Take a moment to locate the exit nearest you keeping in mind that the closest usable exit may be located behind you.” More than likely you have heard these instructions repeated during the safety demonstration before every flight but how many times have you actually taken the time to locate the exit nearest to your seat? Some regional jets don’t have aft door in the back of the plane, so sitting toward the rear of the cabin means going forward to evacuate. Sometimes you may find yourself sitting just a row or two in front of the window exit and didn’t even notice during the hustle and bustle of boarding. Knowing exactly how many rows you are from the exit can make all the difference when trying to find your way through a dark or smoke filled cabin.

5. Do not take anything with you.

This one may be the biggest factor when it comes to quickly and safely evacuating during an emergency. Former flight attendant Bobby Laurie was pretty clear in his most recent Huffington Post article when he said, “Leave. Your. Luggage. Can you hear me? Did you read it right? Leave your luggage. Leave it. Go.” During the recent Emirates evacuation, numerous passengers were seen evacuating with carry-on bags and the cell phone video from inside the cabin is even scarier. Passengers took the time to open overhead bins in an attempt to retrieve carry on luggage. These open bins slowed down the movement of passengers and blocked the flow of egress as people attempted to get out of their seats. Probably the most surprising part watching these passengers attempt to retrieve their bags while hearing the flight attendants in the background yelling “Leave your bags behind! Jump! Jump and slide! Jump and slide!” When a plane is on fire, sinking into the water, or otherwise unsafe to occupy, precious seconds are just that, precious. Do not put your life or the life of another passenger at risk to retrieve you bags. Possessions are replaceable, people are not.

When can I upgrade to Windows 10?


Windows 10
When can I upgrade to Windows 10?

From Microsoft

We want to give every customer a great upgrade experience, so we’re rolling it out in an organized way to manage high demand and to make sure that the upgrade is right for your device. After July 29, when Windows 10 is ready for your device, it will download in the background. You’ll then get a notification to schedule your upgrade right away or at another time that’s convenient for you.

Here are some common questions about the upgrade process. Click on the links for answers.

How long does it take to install the upgrade?
What if I have more than one Windows device – can I upgrade them all?
What edition of Windows will I get as part of this free upgrade?
Will my PC or tablet be compatible with Windows 10?


Coq au Vin Recipe


  • 4 Chicken thighs on the bone (skin removed)
  • 4 Chicken drumsticks on the bone (skin removed)
  • 10 Shallots (peeled but whole not chopped)
  • 5 Garlic Cloves (peeled but not chopped)
  • 1 bottle of a good quality Cotes du Rhone Red Wine
  • 750 ml of good quality chicken stock
  • 500g Lardons
  • 225g Baby Button Chestnut Mushrooms (whole)
  • Olive Oil
  • Sprig Thyme
  • Sprig Rosemary
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 3-4 tsps of cornflour


  1. In a thick bottomed casserole on top of the stove line the bottom with olive oil
  2. add the shallots and garlic and lardons fry until starting to just brown
  3. add the chicken pieces (no skins)
  4. fry until just starting to colour so no pink showing
  5. add mushrooms (whole)
  6. add chicken stock
  7. add whole bottle of wine
  8. add thyme
  9. add rosemary
  10. add bay leaves
  11. bring to boil
  12. simmer for 50 mins stirring from time to time.
  13. Taste for seasoning but I find it doesn’t need any salt as the lardons usually are salty enough. Add a small amount of salt if you think it needs it.
  14. in a cup mix 3-4 heaped teaspoons of cornflour with some cold water to a paste
  15. when throughly mixed pour into casserole and stir throughly so the sauce thickens up
  16. cook for a further 10 minutes
  17. Serve with Green Beans and Mashed Potato.
  18. Can be cooked the night before and then thoroughly reheated the next day for even more flavour.


A delicious non-bake cake

Tiffin (this recipe is so old everything is measured in ounces)

  • 8oz digestive biscuits
  • 4oz butter
  • 3 level tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1oz drinking chocolate
  • 6oz cooking chocolate to top (but I always use more)
  • raisins – as many as you like


  1. Line a 7”x8”x1” baking tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Crush biscuits, add drinking chocolate and raisins.
  3. Melt the butter and syrup in a pan and pour over the biscuits. Mix well then place in tin and press down.
  4. Leave in fridge for about an hour.
  5. Melt cooking chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Pour over the mixture evenly.
  6. When set pull the tiffin out using the paper and cut to required size.

Thanks to Karen Bain for this recipe

Flat White vs Latte

Flat White vs Latte

A flat white is not just a small latte. They are very different drinks. If you’re caught in a cafe that doesn’t serve a flat white, then a small latte might be a passable substitute, but they’re not the same drink. The flat white vs latte debate is common in the UK and USA where the Flat White is still new.

Flat White and Latte

I drink flat whites and my girlfriend drinks lattes so I’ve seen the difference between the two drinks in cafes across England, France, Spain, Denmark, USA, New Zealand and Australia. I’ve had a lot of discussions with baristas and it’s time to shine some light on the common debate about “What is a flat white?

How can a small latte, a flat white and a small cappuccino all use the same shot of espresso and be served in the same cup but still be different drinks?

How much coffee is there in your coffee?

We can hold the preparation of the espresso as a constant. You can have a double shot or a single shot in a flat white or in a latte. Some people would say that a single shot flat white isn’t really a flat white, but that’s a bit too purist and there are plenty of cafes in New Zealand and Australia that do serve singles.

It’s not the size of the cup, it’s what you do with it

In most cafes, a flat white is smaller than a latte. But that doesn’t mean that a flat white is a small latte. It’s a bit like saying that a shed is just a smaller house. Sure, most sheds are smaller than most houses, but size isn’t the decisive factor. If a barista has been un-trained (or over-trained) then they may think that size is the only difference between a flat white and a latte. I like asking those baristas what the difference is between a cappuccino vs a latte because they have to fall back on the real differences (beyond just size).

Milk is the forgotten ingredient in a latte

If we hold the espresso as a constant, then what makes a flat white versus a latte or a flat white versus a cappuccino is the milk. Milk is the hidden ingredient in a modern coffee. Most people forget how important milk is to a good coffee. When milk is frothed with a steam wand there are three layers that form:

  • Heated liquid milk at the bottom of the pitcher
  • Velvet microfoam in the middle of the pitcher (these are very small bubbles)
  • Stiff froth (these are larger bubbles)

The important process of “stretching” the milk by frothing, folding and swirling it is done to maximise the amount of velvet microfoam by blending the large bubbles and the liquid milk. Without swirling and tapping there would still have some microfoam but you’d never know it in the cup because it would be lost in the liquid and/or the froth.

Flat White Milk at Flat White Cafe

The art of frothing milk is to keep the steam wand at the surface of the milk (that pleasing steamy sound you hear in busy cafes). Most baristas learn to froth milk pretty fast because it’s obvious when it works or doesn’t. The main differences between drinks and between baristas arise when the steaming is finished and it’s time to pour the drink. – A good barista will swirl the steamed milk around to fold the froth back into the liquid and create a seamless pitcher of velvet microfoam. Some might tap the pitcher on the counter to pop the worst of the big bubbles on top (as part of folding the milk). But this is unnecessary if you’re swirling the milk smoothly enough.


Crema is the orange caramelised coffee that floats to the top of an espresso. It tastes sweeter than the dark coffee part but it’s very vulnerable and can be destroyed by sitting too long or being drowned in milk. A cappuccino sacrifices the crema under the weight of the stiff froth and a latte can kill the crema with milk. One of the main ways of telling if you have been served a good flat white is how much of the milk has merged with the crema to form an even dusky orange swirl. This coloration of the milk is the starting point of latte art.

How to make a flat white different to a latte

An excellent barista can “free pour” straight from the pitcher using speed of the pour and the tilt of the jug to choose how much froth, foam or liquid to pour into any given drink. A mid-level barista is more likely to do it like this:

  • Cappuccino: spoon the stiff froth into the cup and then top up with a pour from the jug.
  • Latte: Pour the liquid milk from the jug with a spoon to hold back the froth and then top off with a dollop of froth.
  • Flat white: Free pour for a mix of froth and liquid.

Like any human endeavour, there is a bell curve to the skills of baristas. The most ignorant of baristas will make a flat white, latte or a cappuccino all the same. After all, they’re just a “milky coffee”. Ironically, some very high end baristas have the same attitude because they take so much care with frothing, folding and pouring their milk that every coffee is made like a perfect flat white with an even mix of liquid, microfoam and froth.

Latte and Flat White

The net effect of this variety of approaches to the milk is that the drinks will feel different in the mouth and may taste different because of the dilution of the coffee with liquid. In terms of mood and mouthfeel:

  • Cappuccino has stiff foam and feels like drinking bubbles with a bed of coffee hidden at the bottom.
  • Latte is milky, has a little foam on the top and feels like drinking a milky coffee.
  • Flat White has an even mix of liquid milk and smooth velvet foam so it feels like drinking an espresso, only yummier.

The best way to test the flat white vs latte would seem to be to go to a small independent cafe and order a cappuccino, a latte and a flat white. But the goal of ordering a coffee isn’t really to compare a static reality, it’s to express to the barista your intention and desires. So order based on what you’d enjoy: a frothy treat, a milky warm sensation or a short sharp shot of coffee that goes down easy.

Road tax changes: how DVLA’s new system will work without tax discs

The long-serving paper tax disc is set to vanish as the road tax system goes digital

Tomorrow drivers can tear up their tax discs as a new road tax system replaces the tried and tested perforated paper circle. Instead, an electronic road tax database will keep track of who has paid – and those who don’t face a fine of £1,000.

Although the change has long been in the pipeline, a recent survey found that more than half the country had no idea about the new road tax system. Here’s everything you need to know about it:

What is going to change?
From next month, motorists will no longer receive a paper tax disc to fix to their windscreen, and will instead be asked to pay their road tax online, via the DVLA website. Drivers without access to the internet will be able to pay at post offices. In Northern Ireland, drivers will still need to display their MoT discs, but not their tax discs.

What happens if my road tax doesn’t expire for several months?
You don’t have to do anything, although you can take your paper tax disc off your car windscreen if you want to. Your existing road tax will remain valid until its expiry date, at which point you can renew it using the new system.

What about classic cars and other tax-exempt vehicles?
Owners of cars which are exempt from vehicle excise duty will not have to pay anything, but they will still need to register each year on the DVLA website.

How will the authorities enforce the new road tax system?
Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras, which track all cars, will catch those who haven’t paid up. The police can look up registration numbers on the Police National Computer system. Offenders will face fines of up to £1,000.

Does this effect the buying and selling of used cars?
Yes, this is where the changes will be felt most keenly. From October, vehicle tax will no longer be transferred with the vehicle. This means the buyer will not benefit if there are unused months left on the tax disc. They will have to renew the tax straight away.

The seller can claim a refund from DVLA for any full calendar months left on the vehicle’s tax. However, they are also responsible for informing the DVLA of the change of ownership and will face a fine if they do not do so.

Are there any other disadvantages?
The new system could make it easier for car thieves to operate undected, says The Sunday Times. “Without the need for a tax disc with the correct registration number, it will be simpler for crooks to disguise stolen cars using a set of fabricated numberplates that have been copied from a properly taxed vehicle of the same make, model and colour,” the paper says. The ANPR cameras will not be able to tell the difference between the legitimate car and its ringer.

What about driving abroad?
Most European countries require some form of tax disc or sticker on the windscreen and some motorists have expressed fears that foreign police might look askance at vehicles not displaying any tax documentation. The British government says that the European authorities have been told about the changes. “DVLA have informed the European Union that from 1 October 2014, UK registered vehicles that are travelling in the EU will not display tax discs,” it says.

How can I check if my vehicle is taxed correctly?
You can look up the tax status of any vehicle by using DVLA’s Vehicle Enquiry System. Click here

You will still be sent a renewal reminder when your vehicle tax is due to expire.

How much of a problem is road tax evasion?
It’s relatively small, figures suggest. The latest estimate of vehicle excise duty evasion is just 0.6 per cent, although that amounts to about 200,000 cars.

So why is the system changing?
The DVLA says the reforms are aiming to streamline the service and to save British businesses millions of pounds a year in administrative bills.

Is there any benefit to the average motorist?
Insurance premiums may fall as a result. Julie Daniels, head of motor at comparethemarket.com, tells the Daily Telegraph that the removal of the tax disc, and resultant elimination of tax dodgers from the road, “should have a positive impact on premiums”.

Over 21

I went to my local B&Q today to buy some white spirit (to clean paint brushes) and I used the self service checkout, the till said I needed to seek assistance.  The sales assistant asked me if I was over 21, I said ‘what do you think, I refuse to answer that question’.  I’m 45 ffs and do I look like the kind of person who drinks white spirit? I struggle with house gin.