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Zodiac signs who make the best bosses

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When it comes to the professional world, some people are just born to lead and some remain sidekicks all their lives. While some have high aims and aspirations in life, others are just comfortable and satisfied with whatever they possess. When we discuss the qualities of a leader, often it has to do something with one’s ability to tackle situations, making difficult decisions at a given time and/or being logical rather than emotional during times of crisis. Therefore, as it is quite evident, a good superior is equal to someone who has a great personality and that can surely be defined and determined by astrology. That being said, on this World Boss’s day, here are all the zodiac signs that make the best bosses.


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Many dads unaware of UK laws on flexible work, study finds | Parents and parenting

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On the school run, James Ling sticks out. “I’ve noticed that I’m one of the few dads who does the pick-up,” said the 39-year-old, who is at the school gates every day at 3pm to greet his daughter, four-year-old Isabelle.

“There are a lot of grandparents, a lot of mums, but few of us dads. I get the feeling that not a lot of people have the same advantage as me.”

Ling, who works for a PR and digital marketing company in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, has a flexible-working agreement with his employer. But many fathers in the UK are unaware that they have the right to ask their employer for arrangements that allow them to go part-time or job-share, according to new research. And employers, too, appear unclear on what they must be willing to consider.

A new study in the journal Work, Employment and Society, published by the British Sociological Association, has found that 10% of mothers and 30% of fathers do not know that they have the right to ask their employer to consider changes to how they work.

James Ling, with his daughter, Isabelle, and wife, Rachael.
James Ling, with his daughter, Isabelle, and wife, Rachael.

Among part-time workers, 58% of men did not know that they might be eligible, compared with 22% of women. And more than four out of five – 81%– of men did not know they were eligible for a job share, compared with 70% of women.

Researchers found that fathers in lower supervisory and technical occupations were more than twice as likely to be unaware that working reduced hours could be an option for them as professional or managerial fathers.

Those who worked in organisations without a union presence were almost twice as likely to be ignorant of their rights as those who did.

Since 2003, all employees who have been in their job for at least six months have a legal right to request flexible working arrangements. Self-employed workers are excluded.

In turn, employers must deal with requests in a “reasonable manner”. This might include showing that they have weighed up the pros and cons of an application, met to discuss the request with the employee and offered an appeal process.

The researchers found

that only around a quarter of managers know that employees can request a change to how they work.

One of the academics involved in the study, Dr Rose Cook of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, said that ensuring employees knew their rights regarding flexible working was particularly important given the risks of working in proximity to colleagues during the current pandemic.

“The Covid-19 crisis has shown us it is possible to make huge changes to working practices rapidly and at scale. Let’s make hours reduction for fathers part of this conversation.”

Like many fathers, Ling was originally hazy about his rights. “I was sort of aware [I could apply] but not 100%. You hear talk of it on the radio but don’t necessarily think, ‘that applies to me’.”

Under his flexible-working agreement, Ling works from home two days a week. “I stop at about 3pm and go to pick my daughter up and look after her until my wife comes. Then I go back to work and start again.

He concedes that breaking off means he loses some momentum, but adds: “The plus side is I get to see my daughter growing up.”

That his company has allowed him to work flexibly has heightened his sense of loyalty to his employer. “I know how fortunate I am to be working with people who think this way.”


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In troubled times, a ritual walk can clear the mind and soothe the soul | Walking

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Come autumn, as a way of defying the back-to-school doldrums brought on by a rapid shortening of the days, and to mark what feels like the true start of a year, I go on a pilgrimage. This year, more than ever, I crave the slow and steady rhythm of a walking pace, big skies, and cleansing wind and rain to shake off the cobwebs of a long confinement and to break the domestic routines of daily life. I want to connect to my own pumping heart and the natural world around me, re-oxygenate stale lungs and feel the muscles in my legs stretch and work.

Since I’m looking for uplift, there is nowhere for me that’s more rejuvenating and exhilarating than the uplands of Golden Cap in Dorset, the highest point on the south coast of England. In the rinsed light of early autumn, it glows, as if just-hatched, new-born. I have earmarked the little church of St Candida and the Holy Cross, behind these soaring coastal cliffs, tucked into the valleys of Marshwood Vale, a landscape that folds gently in on itself like ribbons of thickened cream. It is part of a medieval pilgrimage trail that connected Bridport to Axminster, containing one of only two shrines with relics of a saint still existing in England (the other being Edward the Confessor’s shrine at Westminster Abbey), somehow miraculously surviving the Reformation and the civil war. St Wite, martyred by marauding Viking hordes, attracts the hopeless and hopeful sick who journey to her quaint limestone shrine.

Pilgrimage as a cure, pilgrimage for healing: the concept is as old as these hills that were crisscrossed with wayfarer and pilgrimage trails almost since the beginning of our civilisation. But the past 50 years, in particular, have seen a global revival of interest in the idea of pilgrimage; the eternal search for spiritual and physical succour dovetailing with today’s urgent calling for holistic meaning. It satisfies our hankering for “slow” over instant gratification, and offers an alternative, drug-free route to emotional and physical wellbeing. No surprise then that numbers increase year on year at the famous Camino de Santiago de Compostela trail, almost 350,000 recorded pilgrims last year, while more than 2m went on the Hajj in 2019.

In early March, with the world spinning on its axis, I was instinctively drawn to the pagan, mysterious, breast-like form of Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, off the Ridgeway, the oldest pilgrimage route in England. The perfect curve of the mound rose high above the flooded plains and I scaled it, in the horizontal rain, wading through treacle mud, reflecting that endurance is part of life, as it is part of any pilgrimage. Making a day’s circuit of the Neolithic standing stones and pagan burial sanctuaries seemed a very symbolic and purposeful way of processing the seismic changes that were unfolding. It was as if the very unknowability of Silbury helped me to find mental clarity, providing guidance as the tumultuous turn of world events shifted my own sense of self.

“Sometimes when people look for a new inner direction in their lives the most sensible and simple approach is to be found in an outer direction,” says Dr Guy Hayward, of the British Pilgrimage Trust. “With pilgrimage you literally walk a physical path, have a clear goal – your destination – and have a means of reaching it: walking. The simplicity of this tangible endeavour may be the secret that many need to know in order to find that inner-direction that so many of us seek.”

With no more than a pair of sturdy boots and a sense of purpose, on a simple physical and psychological level, the very act of walking, the rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other, of matching your breathing to your pace, in the fresh air, is soothing.

A 2015 study by the American National Academy of Science summarised that a 90-minute walk in nature calms the psyche, eases depression and feeds creative juices. Walking has been further proven to reduce blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels and improves concentration and energy. Unlike hiking, which is purely a physical challenge, the activity of a ritual walk, “the thinking footfall” as writer Robert Macfarlane describes it, encourages you to savour the moment and the resonance of each place. It’s finding pleasure and purpose in the act of “slow”.

So, after the easing of lockdown, I celebrated with a British Pilgrimage Trust route, via app, that guided me from the city of Wells, to the iconic pilgrimage landmark of Glastonbury Tor. I was drawn by their description of “ley lines, Green Men, leaping water, fire-breathing dragons and angels in high places”. I followed their counsel to pause, breathe and interact with the landscape; throwing stones into the holy wells, offering blessings at the foot of sacred trees, leaning into the branches and feeling the bark beneath my hands. My venture here felt like something quite separate from a ramble on a hill in my own backyard; a symbolic gesture of something meaningful and profound.

I recognise that my private pilgrimages, which bookended lockdown, were very personal and solitary quests for direction and a sense of wholeness and wellbeing in a fractured world. Yet it should not be forgotten that social interaction can be the most memorable source of influence in a pilgrimage. As a way of taking the pulse of place and its people, pilgrimage is a great way to travel. Traditionally, it has always been a true social leveller, as Chaucer has so vividly described.

On my various holy trails around the globe, the inevitable spontaneous mixing with strangers has been a singular takeaway. I have met down-and-outs and dreamers, strivers and shysters, hippies and Alpha achievers, and even a future lover, all as varied and as interesting as the swindling millers, virtuous martyrs and libidinous wives in the Canterbury Tales. Climbing Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka on New Year, and watching tantric ritual dances and seeking the head lama’s blessing at the Mani Rimdu festival in Nepal with its medieval atmosphere of beer, bribery and bride-bartering, the communality, and festival vibe is joyfully infectious, the social interaction uplifting.

A few years ago, I was wrung-out emotionally in the wake of my mother’s death and at a kind of crossroads in my life. Not knowing which way to take my career, unable to make any sane decision about the most trivial things, even what colour to paint the bedroom, I decided to join an organised pilgrimage in Shikoku, one of the less visited islands of Japan. The mythological landscape is part of a route made sacred by Kōbō-Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism in the 8th century. I hoped it would help me, not only get under the skin of this indomitable landscape and Japan’s rich, storied past, but also to find the something that was missing, the key that would reconnect me to myself. After all, extending one’s horizons is a fundamental human instinct, a fact that made lockdown so challenging.

I invited my sister and we piggybacked on to a jolly coachload of white robed henro, or pilgrims, for a few days, following the same slippery forest paths to our destination-shrines. We entered into the convivial spirit of their rituals: purifying at the water troughs, throwing a coin into a tray, lighting incense, ringing the giant bell, hitting the gong, chanting the Heart Sutra. Each step had its own resonance, like notes on a score sheet. They rose and fell.

Over tricky, stony, maple leaf-strewn paths, trodden down comfortingly over centuries by so many pilgrims before, the act of walking and talking out our grievances and problems among our uncomprehending fellow pilgrims, without having to maintain constant eye contact, was conducive. My sister and I successfully aired our hopes and fears, argued and cried, and came home, sore of foot, but with lighter hearts and soaring spirts.

We display the mementos of the journey – conical hats and staff, journals full of shrine stamps – with humour, but never underestimating that these are material symbols of the transformative power and healing trajectory of pilgrimage.

Contact British Pilgrimage Trust for organised pilgrimages in the UK (britishpilgrimage.org). Britain’s Pilgrimage Places by Nick Mayhew Smith and Guy Hayward is published by Lifestyle Press at £19.99


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5 healthy foods that don’t actually help with weight loss

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The internet is full of weight loss plans and each one of them claims to make you shed those extra kilos. While some of these plans work wonders, there are many that do not lead to any positive result.

So, before you plan to switch your black tea with green tea, here are a few things you should know. In this article, we will tell you about five such foods that are absolutely healthy but cannot help you fulfil your weight loss goals.


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