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British Expat Newsletter: October 2010

Hello, and welcome to those of you who have just signed up. Many thanks to all who entered our September prize draw to win a £25 Amazon voucher by sending us feedback. Well done to Mark in Gozo, the lucky winner of last month’s prize. At the time we started writing this we’d decided to continue, for the time being at least, with a monthly prize draw. But we’ve actually done better than that – there are three prizes on offer this month! You can find the details below.

In this issue

This month

It’s been a busy month and we’ve published lots of new articles. We kicked off a new series of articles about portable careers with a closer look at TEFL, added lots of latest deals, looked at the joys of compound living, published news from the Commonwealth Roll of Honour Project, reviewed books, added trivia quizzes, and built two brand new British Expat Amazon Shops. Phew! And as if that wasn’t enough, we tried to take on board your feedback and are in the process of giving the site a fresh lick of paint and a new look (again!). It’s currently happening behind the scenes but we hope to roll it out soon.

On the subject of feedback, some of you sent comments which were incredibly helpful. I’m sorry I didn’t manage to reply personally to all, but we certainly did read them all with great interest. So please keep them coming!

Is there anything new or different you’d like to see in the newsletter or on the website in general?

Please help by giving us some feedback – you can comment here!
(And win a £25 Amazon voucher! [Edit: competition closed 3 November 2010])

By the way, as a reminder, here’s a link to our newsletter archives.

Meanwhile, by popular demand, we’re reinstating the Editorial section which was described as the highlight of the newsletter and something that people enjoyed reading.

Editorial – Halloween

As Halloween approaches, many people’s thoughts turn to spooky costumes and pumpkin lanterns. (Or turnips if you haven’t been Americanised yet. If you’re interested in reading about the more traditional approach, Mike Clark wrote an excellent article about it in 2005: Gralloching a pumpkin.) Some people take it more seriously as a celebration of the Wiccan New Year, Samhain.

What hadn’t really occurred to me before was that Halloween has become such a major event in the retail calendar, overtaking even Valentine’s Day in sales boosts to rank third after Christmas and Easter.

The BBC has a very interesting article about the subject: Halloween boost for spooked retailers

Have a look at the graph of the growth of spending on Halloween goods in the UK (in the BBC article). Last year people spent almost £250 million on Halloween goods and the figures are expected to increase again this year, even in the face of the UK’s biggest national belt-tightening exercise for decades.

You often hear people complaining about the over-commercialisation of Christmas, but such commercialisation must be popular or people wouldn’t be buying these goods. Why do they buy in this way, I wonder? Is it the power of advertising and marketing which makes them do it? Peer group pressure? Escapism?

Escapism sounds like a distinct possibility with the UK’s VAT rate set to rise to 20% and the welfare state collapsing about the nation’s ears. Put on a Halloween costume, bite into a toffee apple, have a party and forget your economic woes. Pretty sad really, but I can believe people are doing that.

I can well imagine it’s at least partly peer group pressure. If all their friends are doing something then many others, kids and adults, will want to be part of the fun too. Naturally, this is encouraged by manufacturers, who spot a market opportunity and want to make the most of it.

And it doesn’t surprise me that the market in adult Halloween goods is expanding. Wasn’t it about 20 years ago that the boom in children’s Halloween stuff started?

But the BBC article suggests that it’s because so many more Halloween goods are available in supermarkets these days. Can it really be so simple?

Well, maybe it can. I’ve received an email in the last week or so offering to sell me Halloween-themed dog biscuits, dog T-shirts and even dog hoodies. And I don’t even have a dog.

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Win an iPod Shuffle courtesy of Parcel2Go!

[Competition closed 31 October 2010]
We’ve teamed up with this month’s newsletter sponsors Parcel2Go to give you a great chance to win a brand new shiny silver 2 gigabyte iPod Shuffle worth £39, with enough battery life and storage capacity to give you up to 15 hours of music wherever you go!

Click on the image below for details of how to enter our free competition!

Win an iPod Shuffle courtesy of Parcel2Go

Write for British Expat

Would you like to write for British Expat? Sorry, we don’t pay for articles but if you have a website we’ll link to it in the author’s blurb below any of your articles we publish. We use all sorts of content as long as it’s useful and/or interesting to our readership.

We’ve started doing some quick trivia quizzes – five questions about any subject. So, if you’d like to write for us but don’t feel like producing a literary masterpiece, then why not try writing a quickie quiz about your city, country, or even your hobby? Please use our contact form to get in touch.

Win The Tapestry of Love, a novel by Rosy Thornton

[Competition closed 30 November 2010]
Rosy has kindly offered to give away a copy of her novel, which was published in paperback this month, to one lucky BE newsletter reader. The novel is set in Cévennes in rural France and is the story of an independent English woman’s journey from being an expat to becoming part of the local community. You can read my review of the novel here and download a free copy of recipes cooked and served by the characters in the book from our sister site Not Delia. All you have to do to win is comment on the book review, or the recipes, or both if you feel like it – why not double your winning chances?!

British Expat Amazon Shopping

Amazon don’t just do books, you know. We’ve teamed up with them to bring you the ultimate in online shopping – from a micro SD card to a garden shed!
BE Amazon Shop: UK & EU | BE Amazon Shop: non-EU

Win a £25 Amazon voucher!

[Competition closed 3 November 2010]
We really do want to hear your views about this newsletter and the website in general – and to prove it, we’re giving you a little incentive! We’ll put the names of everyone who comments before 2359 GMT on Wednesday 3 November into a draw, and one lucky person will win a £25 Amazon voucher. So please do write in!

Please help by giving us some feedback – you can comment here!

Bizarre searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • whilever
  • homepage
  • expat sax spain
  • hairy forum
  • the sun
  • gambian men
  • fat free dumplings
  • cannabis tablets
  • beach hut malaysia
  • qq
  • bank reference

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So there’s a round-up of all that’s been going on. Come on over and see for yourself! Don’t forget…
Visit the BE website and join in with our lively community!

Till next time…

Happy surfing!

Kay & Dave
Editor & Deputy Editor
British Expat – the definitive home for British expats

PS: Please do comment and help us to give you what you want from the newsletter.

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