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English Gardens

Drummond CastleDRUMMOND CASTLE

Drummond Castle and grounds were established in Perthshire, Scotland, in 1490. The tower house remains largely intact, but the gardens have been substantially changed over the centuries. Today there is some back-and-forth over the authenticity of the grounds (restored or re-created?), but most agree that they represent a grand 17th-century Scottish garden. The parterre, with its low clipped embroidery hedges, is in the shape of a large St. Andrew’s cross—geometric topiary forms being all the rage in the latter part of the 1600s. The regimentation of the layout is leavened with the addition of leaning topiary trees that lend an impish, Harry Potter–ish charm. These tipsy towers accentuate the long views from the garden, across verdant fields to distant hillsides.

UK’s ‘most desirable’ postcodes revealed

The most desirable postcodes in England, Scotland and Wales have been revealed by Royal Mail.

The firm evaluated the employment opportunities, quality of health and education, crime rates and housing affordability of areas across Britain.

The garrison town of Tidworth, in Wiltshire – postcode SP9 – was crowned the best place to live in England.

Picturesque: The view over Salisbury Plain from Tidworth Hill

G44, on Glasgow’s south side, topped the Scottish table, while LL78, Brynteg on the Isle of Anglesey, won for Wales.

The study, carried out to mark the 40th anniversary of the postcode, was conducted in conjunction with the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR).

It took the following factors into account, using data from government agencies, the Office for National Statistics and the Land Registry

  • Employment opportunities
  • Health
  • Education and training opportunities
  • Levels of crime
  • Homelessness
  • Household overcrowding
  • Ease of access to local services
  • Quality of the physical environment
  • Housing affordability

Polo in Tidworth
Tidworth is famous for its polo clubs

In England, Tidworth, on the edge of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, came first. The town is widely known for its military barracks, as well as for its polo club, which is frequented by the royal family.

5 most desirable postcodes in England

1. Tidworth, Wiltshire (SP9)
2. Yateley, Hampshire (GU46)
3. St Bees, Cumbria (CA27)
4. Middlewich, Cheshire (CW10)
5. Earley, Berkshire (RG6)line break Despite being near a nuclear power station, Largs in Scotland is a popular resort

Despite being near a nuclear power station, Largs in Scotland is a popular resort

The south side of Glasgow was named the most desirable place to live in Scotland. An affluent residential neighbourhood, G44 is home to golf courses and parks.

5 most desirable postcodes in Scotland

1. South Glasgow (G44)
2. Erskine, Renfrewshire (PA8)
3. Largs, Ayrshire (KA30)
4. Menstrie, Clackmannanshire (FK11)
5. Port Askaig, Isle of Islay (PA46)


Anglesey
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent their first years of marriage on Anglesey

Brynteg, on the Isle of Anglesey off the coast of north-west Wales, topped the charts in that country. The village, home to fewer than 2,000 people, offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, and is a popular holiday destination.

5 most desirable postcodes in Wales

1. Brynteg, Isle of Anglesey (LL78)
2. Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan (CF61)
3. Llanidloes, Powys (SY18)
4. Caldicot, Monmouthshire (NP26)
5. North West Swansea, West Glamorgan (SA4)line break

There are around 1.8 million postcodes across the UK, covering a total of over 29 million addresses.

The combination of letters and numbers was chosen because it was considered easier to remember that a string of either numbers or letters on their own.

Scotland full of eastern European criminals

SCOTLAND has so many eastern European criminal suspects that the Polish military has been called in to fly them home, the Sunday Express has learned.

Hundreds of overseas fugitives are being caught here and sent home every year with majority coming from Poland, South Africa and the USA.

Earlier this year, there were close to 400 live cases involving 62 different countries – either Scots who had fled abroad or foreign nationals wanted for often serious crimes.

The military flights from Edinburgh Airport – dubbed Con Air after the Hollywood movie – were introduced to keep costs down and cope with the soaring demand.

A Scottish Government report on international criminals, seen by the Sunday Express, states: “To facilitate the increasing number of extraditions to Poland and to reduce costs involved, arrangements have been made for Polish military flights to land at Edinburgh airport.”

Following the introduction of the European Arrest Warrant in 2004, thousands of foreign suspects are being caught and sent home from Britain every year.

Four years ago, the Polish authorities also introduced regular military flights from Biggin Hill airport in Kent to cope with a peak in demand.

An 80-seater Polish military twin-propeller aircraft was sometimes making two flights a week to Warsaw, extraditing suspects in crimes ranging from murder to theft of a chicken. Many of those extradited were returning to Britain within days.

Last night the Scottish Conservatives said it was right for the Polish authorities to foot the bill for the removal of wanted criminals.

Alex Johnstone MSP added: “It stands to reason that the more foreign people who come to live in the UK, the more there are going to be in prison settings.

“The vast majority of Polish migrant workers have been an asset to Scotland, taking jobs many people here have no interest in pursuing.

“But it is important that when crimes are committed, taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill of keeping them in jail and they should serve their sentences in their native country where possible.”

However, the need for military extradition flights reveals the worrying level of international offenders in Scotland.

The Sunday Express can also reveal details of a new Home Office operation to catch foreign offenders who have committed a crime on these shores.

Operation Nexus was introduced by the Metropolitan Police in London and has since been rolled out to Birmingham, Manchester and now north of the Border.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We liaised closely with the Metropolitan Police prior to the roll out of this operation in Scotland in May 2014, to learn from their considerable experience when dealing with offenders who are foreign nationals.

“Police Scotland, in partnership with Home Office Immigration Enforcement Officers, have successfully removed a number of foreign nationals as a direct result of Operation Nexus. There are also a number of pending cases.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it was an operational matter for the Home Office. The Home Office insisted the flights were under the remit of the National Crime Agency.

The news follows a damning report last week which exposed a staggering failure to deal with the soaring numbers of foreign criminals in Britain.

Home Office officials have lost track of 760 of the 4,200 offenders who had been freed back on to our streets by the end of March 2014 pending their removal.

The report by the National Audit Office said this figure included 58 ‘high harm’ individuals, a category that includes rapists, killers and drug dealers.

Prime Minister David Cameron blamed “obstacles” such as EU legislation on human rights and free movement.

His comments came as the family of murdered schoolgirl Alice Gross gathered for her funeral.

The 14-year-old went missing from her home in Hanwell, west London, in August and her body was found hidden in the River Brent about a month later.

Her suspected killer, Latvian national Arnis Zalkalns, now dead, was a convicted murderer who came to the UK in 2007.

Andy Murray marries girlfriend Kim Sears in Dunblane

Andy Murray and Kim Sears

Tennis star Andy Murray has married his long-term girlfriend Kim Sears in a ceremony in his hometown.

Kim Sears

A white wedding car brought Ms Sears to the back of Dunblane Cathedral, out of sight of the media and well-wishers.

Andy Murray and Kim Sears

The couple, both 27, exchanged vows at the 12th Century cathedral before making their way to a small reception for family members and close friends.

Andy Murray and Kim Sears

Hundreds of the world’s media captured the event which has sparked interest around the globe.

Andy Murray and Kim Sears

The Wimbledon and US Open-winning player was greeted by a huge cheer from the gathered crowd as he entered the venue with his brother Jamie.

Andy Murray and Kim Sears

He sported a blue and green kilt while Sussex-born Ms Sears wore an embroidered white gown with three-quarter-length sleeves and a long veil.

Kim Sears
Kim Sears arrives in the bridal car

Murray’s divorced parents Judy and William, his grandparents Shirley and Roy Erskine and former British tennis number one Tim Henman and his wife Lucy were among the guests.

Andy Murray
Andy Murray waves to the crowds as he arrives at the cathedral

Guests lined the path from the cathedral doors and bells rang as the couple left the church and were showered with confetti.

Judy Murray

The bride was accompanied by four bridesmaids in long pink gowns.

Andy Murray's car

The couple left the wedding venue for the reception at Cromlix – which Murray bought in 2013 and converted into a luxury hotel – in a grey car decked with ribbons. They were cheered by crowds lining the streets.

Andy and Jamie Murray go into the cathedral

At 09:40 Murray sent a tweet, made up of emoticons, which depicted the day ahead for him and his bride.

Ross Hutchins

Starting with sunshine and showers, it then showed nails being painted, hair being done, a church, a ring, a kiss, a camera, food, a cake, drinks, music, dancing, the moon, hearts and zzz icons to represent sleep.

Tim and Lucy Henman arrive at the wedding

Earlier, hailstones and showers battered the venue but the sun later returned.

William Murray and Sam Watson

Murray’s mother Judy had been keeping a close eye on the weather, initially tweeting: “Hailstones. Marvellous” and then later “Snowing. #whitewedding”.

Shirley Irskine

Fans of the tennis player posted their best wishes on social media and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon offered her congratulations.

Bride arriving at the church

She said: “I send my warm congratulations to Andy and Kim on their big day and wish them all the very best for a long and happy life together.

Fans in Dunblane

“Saturday promises to be a great day for Dunblane. Andy is a local hero there but he is also a Scottish sporting superstar, and the whole nation will be delighted for him and his new wife.”

Crowds at cathedral

Bunting was put up along the town’s high street, while local shops dedicated window displays to the big day. Some residents also planned garden parties.

Crowds in Dunblane

There were huge cheers from the waiting crowd as the minister who will marry the couple, the Rev Colin Renwick, arrived at the cathedral.

Decorated shop

Murray fan Brenda Watson, who travelled from Ochiltree, Ayrshire, said: “We forgot our hats but we’re hoping the sun will shine for Andy and Kim.

Media ladders outside Dunblane Cathedral

“We’re so excited about seeing them and the atmosphere is great, it’s been well worth coming.”

British number one Murray moved to Spain as a 15-year-old to pursue his dream of becoming a professional tennis player but has maintained close links with the town he grew up in.

Drawing of wedding couple

The town boasts a golden post box not far from the cathedral, marking Murray’s win at the 2012 Olympics.

Murray announced his engagement to Miss Sears, his girlfriend of nine years, in November last year. The pair met as teenagers in 2005 through her father Nigel, who is a tennis coach.

Murray had three best men – his brother and fellow tennis player Jamie, and friends Ross Hutchins and Carlos Mier.

Graham Fleming puts up bunting in Dunblane

The world number three earlier said he was not nervous about the occasion.

He said: “We’ve been together like nine-and-a-half years and we’ve lived together for six or seven years as well.

“So, I don’t think a whole lot’s going to change. I kind of feel like we have been married already in terms of the way we spend our lives together and live together.

“I think I will be more nervous about starting a family because that would be more life-changing, in a good way.”

Scots ‘ghost’ companies suspected of alleged £12.5bn money laundering scam by Russian mafia

IT is claimed the crime syndicate are taking advantage of Scots corporate rules which allow companies to be set up who are little more than a name plate at an address. 

SCOTS companies are under suspicion of alleged money laundering by the Russian mafia.

It is claimed “ghost” firms based in Edinburgh and Glasgow could be involved in a laundering operation worth £12.5billion.

Police in the former Soviet republic of Moldova are probing some companies involved, as are non-governmental organisation the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

It is claimed the crime syndicate are taking advantage of Scots corporate rules which allow companies to be set up who are little more than a name plate at an address.

A probe by the Independent newspaper has uncovered at least six companies registered here who have come to the attention of investigators.

The launderers created UK front companies who carried out massive phoney business deals between themselves.

The front companies then sued each other in Moldova, demanding repayment of hundreds of millions of pounds of loans.

Money would be put into the UK front companies’ accounts in Moldova then transferred to another bank in Latvia.

Police are trying to identify the criminals whose money was being laundered, but it is virtually impossible to establish who owns the UK front companies.

One Edinburgh firm claimed a debt of $500million from a Russian guarantor in the Moldovan courts.

The company’s registered address is a small accountancy firm in Edinburgh not involved in any wrongdoing.

The man listed as the sole director of the company who claimed the debt told the Record: “According to the Independent, the criminals fake trials, so they must have a judge working with them in Moldova.

“They stage things so they get damages basically in the courts, then they force the Russian companies to pay up. In that way they money launder.

“But I am sorry I cannot help you because I have no idea. Nobody involved in any way with the company in Scotland knows what happens. That is a fact.”

Asked about his directorships of other companies registered to unlikely addresses here, the man said: “If the police would like to know more, I will talk to them. But I am not ready to waste time on newspapers.”

The scam appears to have gone on for four years before being shut down in May by the authorities in Moldova.

A Moldovan investigator said: “This money was routed from Russia, but the companies incorporated in Britain were instrumental to transit the funds.”

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