Severance of Tenancy

Co-owners of a property can hold the beneficial interest in that property either as tenants in common or as joint tenants.

Where there is a joint tenancy, all the co-owners own the whole of the property collectively. Thus, a co-owner of a property held as a Joint Tenant does not own 50 per cent. But, rather, half of the whole. The essential feature of a beneficial joint tenancy is that there is the right of survivorship or ius accrescendi. Under the right of survivorship, on the death of one of the joint tenants, the jointly owned property passes to the remaining joint tenant (or tenants).

Thus, the deceased joint tenant’s interest ends on death and is automatically incorporated into the interests of the survivor (or survivors). This means that should the deceased have wished for their interest in that property to pass to someone other than the joint tenant (or tenants) then this will not happen – even if there is a Will naming the chosen beneficiaries as inheritors of that property.

In order to remove the right of survivorship, a beneficial joint tenant must sever the tenancy prior to death. The principles as to severance are contained within s 36(2) of the Law of Property Act 1925.

After severance the co-owners will hold the property as Tenants in Common – each with a definite share of a property.

An example of where a Tenancy in Common is required

Let’s say a married couple (or those in a Civil Partnership) who were co-owners of a property wished to write Wills to contain Nil Rate Band Discretionary Trusts. If they continued to hold their property as Joint Tenants, when one died, the land would automatically pass to the survivor the property.

This may not seem particularly onerous, perhaps the married couple wished for the other to inherit the property anyway. However, if, when the first died, the majority of their estate was held in the co-owned property, so much so that the other assets in the estate did not amount to a full Nil Rate Band amount, then, the executors would not have the ability to pass the full amount into the trust. They could not use the co-owned property as this would automatically belong to the other co-owner.

This might leave the beneficiaries of the Nil Rate Band Trust with much less of an inheritance than they believed they would receive.

Take, Adam and Belle, they bought a property worth £600k, they owned it as joint tenants. Adam also had savings and investments of about £350k. When Adam died, he wished for the amount that was equal to the prevailing Nil Rate Band to be put into trust for his two teenage children from a previous relationship. The rest of his estate was to pass to Belle.

However, Adam and Belle had spent much of their savings and other assets on home improvements so that, on Adam’s untimely death, the property was now worth £900k, however, his savings and investments had diminished to around £200k.

Although Adam’s estate is now worth £650,000, only the £200k would be free to be used in the Nil Rate Band Trust because the whole property would pass to Belle outright. Thus, the teenage children would not receive what Adam would have wished.

It is not only the estates of those with children from previous relationships that this affects. Many wish to leave the amount that does not attract inheritance tax to their children and leave the rest to their surviving spouse for their twilight years.

If the majority of the assets in the estate are made up of a property held as co-owners, this cannot work and there may need to be expensive and difficult methods required to put things right.

Because we do not know when we will die, or what assets will be held by our estate when we do, if a Will is written whereby some of the estate is to be used to form a trust, it is always best to have the co-ownership of any property changed from Joint Tenants to Tenants in Common.

Carr-Glynn v Frearson

In this actual case, an auntie put her house in joint ownership for herself and her nephew. She later asked her solicitors to make a Will leaving her share of the property to her niece. The solicitor discovered that the property was held as joint tenants and informed the auntie to sever the tenancy so that she would hold the house as Tenants in Common with her nephew. However she did not. Subsequently, the niece did not receive her inheritance!

Sometimes the pitfall are unseen, and, when they are, it is too late to do anything about it!

Your Wills

If you hold a property as a co-owner and wish for other beneficiaries to inherit other than the co-owner, please do give us a call on: 020 8920 3360 and we will be happy to help.

Alternatively, why not visit our website: or email us at:

We look forward to hearing from you.

The Art of Delegation

What is Delegation?

The dictionary calls it, “The action or process of delegating or being delegated. Or, assigning, entrusting, giving the action or task to another.”

But why delegate?

Delegating a task releases a burden on you and allows you to become less overwhelmed.

And it ensures that some tasks which would not otherwise be completed correctly (because you do not have the ability to do them) and on time (because you do not have the time to complete them.

Why not delegate?

Well, if you believe the old adage; ‘If you want something done right; do it yourself’, then you cannot delegate because you won’t believe the person to whom you have given the task will do it well.

Where delegating went wrong

Perhaps a good story that indicates how delegating a task might go wrong is ‘The Judgement of Paris’ – the mythological tale of how Paris (the prince of Troy) was asked to judge the beauty of three goddesses.

Zeus held a banquet in celebration of the marriage of Peleus and Thetis (Achilles’ mum and dad). Either he forgot, or, perhaps deliberately, he didn’t send an invite to Eris, the goddess of discord. She was angry so arrived at the party anyway bringing a golden apple from the Garden of the Hesperides (a blissful garden where the nymphs lived). Eris through the apple into the middle of all those assembled, shouting, “To the Fairest!”

Three goddesses, Aphrodite, Hera and Athena, thought they should be given the apple as they were the fairest. Zeus was asked to decide.

Now, deciding on who is the most beautiful goddess is not going to be easy and Zeus was reluctant to make the choice; so he delegated.

Having recently shown his commendable fairness in a contest of bulls, Paris, the son of the king of Troy was given the task.

The wing-footed Hermes led the goddesses to Paris. Each of the goddesses offered Paris gifts to make him choose them, however, Aphrodite offered Paris the love of the most beautiful mortal woman alive; Helen.

She was the face that launched a thousand ships and it was because of her abduction that her husband Menelaus fought with the Trojans and thus began the Trojan War.

Wills; Where you cannot delegate

It may seem from that story that delegation is not such a good idea, however, one thing that cannot be delegated is the signing of your Will – or can it?

Well, someone can sign your Will on your behalf, when you are physically unable to sign. However, it must be written that this person is going to sign on your behalf and you must be present and give direction for them to sign – you cannot delegate that part.

Of course, you can delegate the job of actually writing the Will, and you can, indeed, leave the job of deciding who inherits your wealth to a Trustee – however, you have to give instructions that you wish for a Trust to be set up in your Will, what of your estate should go into that Trust, and who make up the list of beneficiaries from whom your Trustees should decide.

And, the instructions of your Will must be given by you. That part cannot be delegated!

Delegate the task

But, you can of course ask for advice on how your estate might be divided to ensure that you do not pay any more tax than you need to and to ensure that your wealth doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

That task can be delegated to us!

So, if you would like to have a chat about delegating the task of finding the best way for your Will to be written to us, call us on: 020 8920 3360, or, alternatively, visit our website:

In the meantime, what is the best or worst task that has been delegated to you? Leave us a comment to let us know.

We look forward to hearing from you.

The Scent of Valentine’s – Part Two

In Part Two of our series on Valentine’s Day Scents, we look at the most seductive of fragrances for men and women.

When it comes to love, for millennia, we have used scent to enhance our experience of all things erotic.

Amongst the remnants of Pompeii, in chambers chosen for sexual were found jars carrying perfume jars were preserved in the chambers designed for sexual affairs. Ancient Egyptians dipped in baths perfumed with essential oils before rendezvous of the romantic kind and the ancient texts of the Kama Sutra hold references to the use of essential oils.

Add to that the fact that food and sex are our two primeval desires, and there is no surprise that, as seen in our last blog, the most sensuous and erotic of fragrances are those which hit us with both. Such as cinnamon and the favourite of all, vanilla.


Pheromones are airborne chemical signals released from the body through, say, sweat and urine, which have an effect on another member of the same species either physically or emotionally. They are found throughout the world of wildlife and are a primordial way of communication. Whether or not humans actually emit pheromones is up for debate, however some studies have found that we can use our sense of smell to detect whose genes complement our own to ascertain their compatibility as a partner who will give us healthy babies.

And smell has a deep access to our perceptions and emotions like none of our other senses. This is because the olfactory bulb, a structure located in the fore-brain, directly links to the limbic system, the part of the brain associated with motivations, emotion and behaviour and the area from which sexual thought and desires originate.

So, as you can see, the first part of our bodies to receive a signal from our nose, before the rational part of the brain even gets a look in, is this primitive, sensual response limbic system. No wonder perfume can have such an effect!

Why do we wear perfume?

Of course, the reason that we wear perfume isn’t only to boost pheromones and attract someone we desire, surveys have indicated that people feel more confident when wearing a perfume, or that the scent completes their persona or look, or, simply, because they love the smell.

That said, if we did want to attract someone, wearing a delicious scent that captures all those aphrodisiacal fragrances, wouldn’t hurt!

The Sexiest Perfume

So, we looked at the sexiest perfumes of all time and picked one for men to wear and one for women to wear.

Apparently, if you are a woman and wishing to attract a man, the sexiest fragrance of all time is Shalimar by Guerlain.

The scent is heavy on vanilla, but not too sweet. It is fresh with a light citrus beginning, however, as the wearer becomes warmer, it becomes more sensual and soft, with darker, deeper notes of spice coming to the fore.

And, if you’re a man, hoping to attract a woman, the all-time perfume to wear is Christian Dior’s Eau Sauvage.

The reason? It contains hedione.

And what is hedione? Derived from the Greek “Hedone” (known as Voluptas in Roman mythology), who is the goddess of pleasure – more specifically sensual pleasure – and the daughter Eros and Psyche, Hedione is also known as methyl dihydrojasmonate and is a diffusive aroma compound created by French perfumer, Edmond Roudnitska.

So,what does hedione smell like? Well, fresh and floral – like jasmine with a hint of citrus. Just look back at our last blog on the 25 most aphrodisiacal scents to see how well the smells of jasmine and citrus did – we should have known!

The World of Wills

With all this perfume and seduction, it is unlikely that anyone will be giving a thought to the World of Wills, however, don’t forget that, first and foremost, the reason behind Valentine’s and love is, of course, to have children.

If you do have children (or if some are likely) then the easiest way to ensure that they will be looked after if something happens to you, is to name Guardians in your Will.

The Will writing process doesn’t need to be difficult or complicated, so, if by February 15th you think that the naming of Guardians might be something you should begin to think about, please do give us a call and we will be happy to help.

Our number is: 020 8920 3360 and our email:, or you can visit our website:

We look forward to hearing from you – after Valentine’s Day!

The Scent of Valentine’s

Pass any retailer this week and you’ll be hard-pressed not to realise, it’s coming up to Valentine’s Day – but, what should you buy for your Valentine?

In the US, the average spend will be $116.21, and in the UK, men will spend about £35-£40 on their partner on Valentine’s Day. This may be on chocolates, flowers, spa days, lingerie, and, of course, jewellery – all those engagement rings!

Men, just a tip, women are 38% more likely to say ‘Yes’ on Valentine’s Day than on any other day in the year.

But, for getting ‘in the mood’ for Valentine’s, it seems that the best way to make your Valentine feel like returning your ‘amour’ is to appeal to their noses.

Yes, scent, is one of the most powerful of aphrodisiacs because our sense of smell is so closely related to the emotional centre of our brains.

But, before you rush out and buy the perfume, according to a survey carried out by Dr. Alan Hirsch of Chicago’s Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, “It appears that food odours elicit the greatest sexual response.”

Women, your tip now, baking banana nut bread is likely to turn on a man as the smell is one of his aphrodisiac favourites!

That said, although a scent can induce desires, it is unlikely to do so if the person isn’t already interested.

But, they do have an effect. In research using identical twins, the results were that when the twins sat at a bar for an evening, the one who was sprayed with manufactured pheromones was approached three times more often than the twin who hadn’t been sprayed.

The Best Aphrodisiac Scents

The first mention on record of aphrodisiacs comes from Egyptian medical papyri believed to date from between 2200 and 1700 BC, but what are the best aphrodisiac scents? We researched many of the surveys already undertaken and found the following top 25 essential oils and scents of the most potent aphrodisiacs:

25.  Green Apples – The smell of green apples balances the emotions and is calming but uplifting

24.  Neroli – also known as orange blossom. Victorian brides wore or carried a sprig of orange blossom to calm nerves and stimulate romance. Intoxicating and heady, it is loved by both men and women.

23.  Ginger – Mentioned as an aphrodisiac in the Kama Sutra, ginger is spicy and warm which heightens the chemicals leading to sexual attraction.

22.  Black Pepper – another hot one, which induces perspiration and increased heart rate, reactions that mimic human sexual response.

21.  Orchids – The name orchid comes from the Greek orchis, “testicles,” and it is said that women in Thessaly drank the soft bulbs of an orchid with goat’s milk in order to stimulate desire. Their smell is light and beautiful.

20.  Pink Grapefruit – Although not a scent one would call ‘sensual’, research has shown that men felt women who wore this fragrance were considerably younger than they actually were.

19.  Clary Sage – The herby scent of clary sage known from old times for perfume may help a woman feel less stressful and lower her sexual inhibitions.

18.  Almonds – Ancient Greeks, The Old Testament, Moroccan and Indian cultures all make explicit insinuation to almonds being important to reproduction and sexual promise. Almonds contain high levels of fatty acids central to the production of hormones required to maintain a strong sex drive. Studies show that the scent of almonds arouses women.

17.  Violets – symbolising the renewal of spring, common names for members of the violet family include; Call-me-to-you, Meet-me-in-the-entry and Kiss-me-at-the-garden-gate – references to sex and love. In Greek myths, Persephone, was picking violets when Hades abducted her and took her to the underworld with him and the violet was the flower of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.

16.  Clove – the warm, slightly spicy scent arouses the senses; great for men as even a small amount of clove can increase testosterone.

15.  Peppermint – the minty freshness of peppermint energises and is said to, um, make women ‘feel good’ multiple times.

14.  Cucumber – combined with the other scents, cucumber whooshes that feeling for sexual healing right up to top position.

13.  Musk – earthy, sharp, fragrant and used as base notes for perfumes, the scent of musk used in ancient perfumery included the glandular secretions from animals such as the musk deer. Nowadays the plant oils from musk mallow seed, muskflower, or Garden Angelica are used to simulate the animal smell of musk.

12.  Rose – Of all the scents considered aphrodisiacs, roses are perhaps the most well-known and most enduring. And none more than the red rose! In the U.S., 198,000,000 roses are grown especially for Valentine’s Day.

The rich, warm, hypnotic allure of rose has been thought to be an aphrodisiac since ancient times. A classic component for perfume, the dark and sensual smell of the red rose has not only been used for women. To increase their sex appeal, Arabian men of old were said to rub rose-scented oil on their hands and in their beards.

This is because it is believed the perfume of a rose deeply stimulates the senses thereby signalling to the brain that it’s time to increase the activity of sex hormones leading to higher sexual arousal and the lowering of inhibitions.

11.  Basil – perhaps it is odd that a standard herb should be higher on the list than the rose, however, oils containing the gently spicy scent of basil are excellent for rejuvenating the sex drive. In Italy in days gone by, young women would rub themselves with basil oil when planning to seduce their male suitors.

The numerous studies conducted by Hirsch proved exactly this – basil is a potent aphrodisiac!

10.  Patchouli – although relaxing and mellow for some, the earthy sweetness and woody sensuality of this scent is believed to awaken and provoke sexual energy. In ancient India, patchouli’s exotic scent was used in Tantric practices and, today, it is still one of the most common ingredients in the most expensive men’s perfume – so it must be working.

9.  Lily of the Valley – Although a little demure and an innocent floral, this light, subtle scent seems to do it for men as, in the Hirsch studies, the smell of lily of the valley heightened arousal in 11 percent of men.

8.  Citrus – In the Hirsch studies, the slightly sharp sweetness of orange aroused a whopping 20% of men. Supposedly able to stimulate the hypothalamus (the part of the brain which releases sex hormones in women) this fruity and fresh scent works for both men and women.

7.  Black liquorice – The smell of liquorice seems to strongly affect both sexes, especially when mixed with other scents. In the world of essential oils the one that matches best to Black Liquorice is Star Anise.

Known since ancient times to have hidden aphrodisiac qualities, the potency of aniseed and the sweetness and aromatic bouquet of Star Anise stimulates those red blood cells and sends us into heady awakening.

6.  Cinnamon – one of the most sweet and pleasant aromas, cinnamon is famous throughout the world and is another of those scents considered an aphrodisiac since ancient times.

The book of Proverbs in the Bible mentions cinnamon which together with myrrh and aloe, was used to “perfume the lovers’ bed” and the Queen of Sheba reputedly used cinnamon to seduce King Solomon. Herodotus writes that there are those who believed the source of cassia (another name for cinnamon) was the home of Dionysos – the god of fertility and orgiastic ecstasy.

Reported to be able to increase “heat” within the body, the reputation of cinnamon doesn’t fail; in the Hirsch study, when cinnamon and vanilla were mixed in a scent called ‘Pumpkin Pie’, this brought an amazing 40% of men to their knees.

5.  Ylang Ylang – strong, exotic and floral, ylang ylang has for a long time been considered one of the more powerful aphrodisiac scents. Increasing energy between lovers, this flirty fragrance is rich and warm and touches deep inside the sensory system. Much sweeter than most of the other aphrodisiacal scents, ylang ylang enhances sensuality and in Indonesia ylang ylang is spread on the bed of newly-weds. Not surprising, then, that the perfume of ylang ylang is one of the key notes in the eternal fragrance of Chanel No.5.

4.  Lavender – Cleopatra was said to have seduced both Marc Antony and Julius Caesar with the scent of lavender. And mixed with cedar wood, lavender has been known to be remarkably successful as an aphrodisiac.

Known throughout history as the herb of love, men say it makes them feel nurtured and women say this beautiful fragrance helps them to feel relaxed. With a unique floral, romantic scent, when lavender was mixed with the scent of ‘pumpkin pie’, it drove the men is the Hirsch survey wild.

3.  Jasmine – Many, including some doctors, claim jasmine to be the most sensual of all natural scents. Spicy yet subtle, rich, sweet and floral, this most popular of fragrances has been well-known over centuries and continents as being erotic and seductive.

The delicate white flowers of jasmine contain indole, an active ingredient found in many smells with aphrodisiacal properties – and which is also found in great quantities around human genitals.

Arousing both men and women alike, the warm and alluring jasmine has been used for hundreds of years in India to improve the libido and it is even reported that the owners of elephants would wear jasmine flowers in order to arouse the elephants to assist them in reproducing.

Beautifully romantic, it is said that jasmine has the ability to open the other senses to new experiences.

2.  Sandalwood – Rich and earthy and highly intoxicating, this light woody aroma is another of those used for millennia as part of the Tantric sexual rituals. Sandalwood is also reported to activate the second chakra and intensify sexual response.

This oriental perfume is very seductive and is used extensively by the high end perfumeries. The aroma is said to be meditative, relaxing and has the ability to relieve anxiety and has been said to smell similar to androsterone, a chemical not unlike to testosterone.

They say that the wearer of sandalwood sends out subtle, but suggestive, signals to the opposite sex that are very effective and makes the wearer always in demand for truly romantic encounters.

1. Vanilla – Warm, sensual, welcoming and indulgent, there is no other natural scent that can compete with vanilla for being the best aphrodisiac of all time.

Once considered an effective cure for male impotency, vanilla has been used as an ingredient in Chinese and French perfumes for centuries. Simultaneously inducing euphoria and relaxation, as far back at the 1700s, vanilla has been chosen as an elixir to boost male sexual power and was thought to be an effective cure for male impotency. In a book by Dr John King in 1898, vanilla’s positive effects were said to “stimulate the sexual propensities.”

According to Dr. Craig Warren of the Sense of Smell Institute, “Vanilla produces the feeling of happiness universally around the world.”

Believed to induce similar positive effects and sensations in women, scientists can’t exactly say why, however, vanilla touches our emotions, uplifts our mood and makes us open to all aspects of love and desire.

Described as blissful and dreamy, and as decadent as chocolate, vanilla is second only to saffron as the most expensive spice in the world – but, it is the most popular. And, to some extent, science supports the aphrodisiacal effects of vanilla by reporting that the molecular structure of certain components in vanilla are similar to that of human pheromones. Further, researchers found vanilla does, indeed, promote sexual arousal.

So, if you’re looking for love on Valentine’s Day, the number one, the very best scent to promote amour, by far, is the smell of vanilla.

World of Wills

What on earth, you may be thinking, has Wills got to do with all this sensuality?

Well, one thing that is obvious from the above, is that, for love, we need to be relaxed. Nothing should be there nagging at the back of your mind, pulling you away from the desire that awaits. So, if you haven’t yet made your Will, that may be the niggle inside your head that shouldn’t be there.

It is well known that most people feel great peace of mind once they have had their Will written and the process is easy.

So, just before Valentine’s Day, why not give us a call on: 020 8920 3360, or email us at: Alternatively, you could visit our website: Your loved one will be glad you did!

We look forward to hearing from you.

It’s Halfway Through January Already!

We’re already half way through January and those promises that were made a mere two weeks ago have, for most of us, faded into the back of our memories. Yet all is not lost.

There is still plenty of time to turn those decisions around.

Life Coach, Carrie Brooks, who works with people worldwide helping them to positively change their lives and to achieve a healthy life/work balance, asks the questions; why do so many well-meant resolutions crumble to dust? Why does that initial enthusiasm just dwindle away?

And she give us 7 great tips for making those New Year Resolutions stick for good.

7 Great Tips

1.  Choose to do something that you really want to do, avoid doing something that you feel you ought to do. Inspiration not obligation. This is a positive step towards feeling good about the resolution.

2.  Make sure that you are being realistic and that your goal is achievable. It’s far better to go to the gym once a week and stick to it than to go 5 days a week for the month of Jan never to return again!

3.  Try to avoid attempting the same old resolution you’ve tried before. As the famous quote from Einstein goes “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Think of something new…

4.  Feel excited about your resolution, imagine yourself in 3 months’ time having achieved the change you wanted and feeling great.

5.  Look at the resolution from a new positive perspective. Not as giving something up and denying yourself but instead giving yourself something life enhancing, choosing a better way of life. If you’re giving up smoking for example don’t concentrate on the cigarettes you are denying yourself instead concentrate on how good you feel, how clear your skin is and how liberated your starting to feel as the chains of the old habit start breaking away.

6.  If you are reflecting on your life, you may be feeling stuck and running on auto pilot. You may be contemplating major life changes. If this is the case consider life coaching. Many coaches offer the first session for free, so try testing the water you have nothing to lose and it may be the best decision you can make for moving forward with your life.

7.  A New Year Resolution is a commitment that you are making to yourself. Announce your intention to people you know will be supportive. This way you will be accountable to the change you want to make and it will give you someone to turn to when you need encouragement.

(And a bonus)

8.  Remember to congratulate yourself with every landmark you reach, look back in appreciation of how far you have come and treat yourself to something special.

Decide, commit and reap the rewards.

More from Carrie

If you’ve enjoyed reading those tips and found them useful, perhaps you would like to hear some more from Carrie? Her website is: and she offers a complimentary initial consultancy, so what have you to lose? (Except, perhaps, some weight or a smoking habit!)

World of Wills

Of course, we would add to any list of New Year’s Resolutions the need to make your Will. So, if you’ve always put it off, try a different approach and just give us a call. The number is: 020 8920 3360. Alternatively, you can visit our website:

The process is easy. You meet with one of our consultants at a time and place that suits you, and, over a cup of tea or coffee, we guide you through and take instructions as per you wishes. The fees are fixed, so no surprises!

What are you waiting for – it’s halfway through January already!

Carols – The First Ever

In England at this time of year, it seems almost impossible to turn on the television or radio, go anywhere without hearing a Christmas carol being played or sung enthusiastically (although not always well). But what is the history of the carol, when was the first carol sung and what did it sound like?

The First Christmas Carol

For Christians the first carol was the one said to be sung by angels to herald the birth of Christ when it was announced to the shepherds, in Luke 2:14, “Gloria in excelsis Deo” (Latin for “Glory to God in the highest”).

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:13-14).

However, the etymology word ‘carol’ is a joyful song or dance in a ring, and originates from the Ancient Greek word khoraules (flute player who accompanies the chorus – from Greek khoros “band of dancers or singers).

Thus, although the first song in celebration on Christ can be found in the gospel of Luke, this isn’t the first carol.

Celebrations in Winter

Make a Google search of why we celebrate at this time of year and most will talk about Saturnalia – the Roman celebration of the Winter Solstice and to honour the god, Saturn. Festivities began on December 17th and lasted for seven days. The atmosphere at this time was one of a carnival and a party and resembled the celebrations for Christmas in many ways with gift-giving and banquets. Slaves were served by the masters and the Lord of Misrule reigned – very similar to, if not exactly the same as, the way that Twelfth Night was celebrated in Shakespeare’s day.

Yet even before this time of the Roman Saturnalia, Greece had been honouring their gods with celebrations and festivities at the time of the Winter Solstice.

Festivals for Poseidon, Aphrodite, Demeter and Dionysos who was also honoured at the same time as the wine would be ready to be poured during the winter. This was also seen as a fertility festival where women would be separated from the men for a night to partake in fertility rites.

This continued in the Saturnalia where gifts of fruit or cakes in the form of genitalia were given.

Was there music at this time?

The poet Lucian of Samosata (AD 120-180) has the god Cronos (the Greek Saturn) say in his poem, Saturnalia:

‘During my week the serious is barred: no business allowed. Drinking and being drunk, noise and games of dice, appointing of kings and feasting of slaves, singing naked, clapping … an occasional ducking of corked faces in icy water – such are the functions over which I preside.’

So, yes, there was – although, perhaps, the exercise of singing naked might be best avoided!

The Return of the Light

Across the world, and across many faiths, there are celebrations at the time of the Winter Solstice and many of those celebrated today under other disguises, may find, that the original reason for the celebration is the return of light.

Soyal, the winter solstice celebration of the Hopi Indians, Shab-e Yalda in Iran and the Scandinavian, St. Lucia’s Day to name just a few.

But why are we so obsessed with the light? Why would we want to celebrate the time of the returning light?

The obvious answer that is given is that things do not grow at this time, so, since the time that humanity has relied on agriculture for survival, the light has been important to us.

However, sunlight is much more important than that to humans.

Evidence suggests that sunlight has a direct affect on our levels of serotonin; serotonin being the chemical within us that transmits impulses between nerve cells, regulates our body processes and contributes to our happiness and wellbeing.

And release of melatonin, which determines our sleep patterns is high during the periods of no sunlight, meaning we may feel lethargic – who wants to get out of bed at 6am mid-winter?

Melatonin also affects our fertility levels; meaning we are more likely to reproduce and, well, feel in the mood, when we have more daylight. So, perhaps, the Greeks and the Romans were on the mark with their festivals of fertility.

Further, we use more energy in the winter as our bodies use more fuel to keep warm.

So, quite possibly, humankind in the Northern Hemisphere have always felt better and happier in the summer months and were very pleased with the returning light.

Did we celebrate? Perhaps not. We have no evidence to suggest at that time that we knew to accurately predict the day that the sunlight would return.

But we do have evidence to pinpoint when we did know.

Stone Circles

Many stone circles have been found in the Northern Hemisphere and these do exactly predict the time of the Winter Solstice, especially, it seems, Stonehenge. So we know that humans have been celebrating the return of the light for, at least, 5000 years. And it is probably more.

Although Goseck circle in Germany appears to be celebrating the Summer Solstice, it does mean that humanity was aware of the sun’s journey and were monitoring it as far back as 6,500 years ago.

But, since this blog is looking into carols, what sort of music would have been played at the time of the celebrations at Stonehenge of Goseck?

The First Carol Ever

Flutes have been found in Germany dating back to 36,000 BC and clay whistles and clay drums are also found in Germany from about six or seven thousand years ago.

The bullroarer, still used by Aborigines today, was used to accompany Ancient Greek dithyrambs – hymns sung and danced to honour Dionysos, the god of wine and fertility. As Dionysos was one of the Greek gods celebrated at the Winter Solstice, it can be said that, possibly a bullroarer, was used in celebration of the return of daylight.

So, human voices chanting, the magical and eerie sound of bullroarer, drums beating and whistling would have been the sounds of the very first carols. Accompanied, of course, with dancing and the magical flute, which is not surprising really, since this is where the carol got its name.

Tracing Back in Time

Perhaps, looking back in time and tracing human history is something that brought on feelings of wishing to trace your own family, especially at this time of year, when we have time to think about family.

But, as it can be seen from the history of the carol, the stories can become twisted with time. Even in our own lifetimes, people have different thoughts about what happened, when it happened and how we arrived at where we are. When you are no longer here, it may not be possible for your family to have an accurate memory of exactly what you had wished.

The best way to write down your wishes for after you are gone is to write your Will.

If you are thinking about writing your Will and would need some help, please do contact us. We will be happy to have a chat with you and contact you again in the New Year with some firmer plans for helping you have your Will drafted.

We can be contacted on: 020 8920 3360, or on:

Alternatively, why not visit our website:

In the meantime, did you think that the history of the carol actually went back so far? Leave us a comment and let us know.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Excuses, Excuses!

“I won’t be paying the rent for July. I can’t give you any details, but we are going into the witness protection program.”

“There were leaves on the line.”

“The dog ate my homework.”

We have all heard them; the most lame excuses that people give. Whether this be a celebrity who shoplifts; Winona Ryder’s excuse after being caught was “Didn’t my assistant pay for it?”

Or the person who said they could not be held responsible for speeding because they suffer from dyslexia and don’t understand the speedometer.

Or worse, a woman who left the scene of a car crash because she “didn’t want her ice cream to melt.”

And, perhaps, we have all used them; the worst excuses for being late to work or pulling a fake ‘sickie’ being; “I’ve been bitten by an insect”, “My trousers split on the way to work” and, “My cat unplugged my alarm clock.”

Even in the corporate world excuses are being regularly made. U.S. department store, Macy’s, after making poor fourth-quarter sales blamed the propensity of customers preferring less up-market shops where “they didn’t feel the need to put on lipstick.” Google’s excuse for a lack of performance in the U.K. was, they said, due to “a particularly warm spring”. And, in the world of sport, last October (2014), Spurs manager, Mauricio Pochettino, said the reason they team had suffered three defeats in five games was due to the size of the pitch at White Hart Lane.

Excuses for Not Making a Will

In the world of Wills, the most common excuses for not making a Will are:

I cannot afford it – For straightforward estates, our Wills cost from as little as £250. For the larger estates and for those with complicated affairs, of course, a more robust and tax efficient Will is going to cost more. However, the avoidance of legal issues, the savings in tax and the lessening of the distress to those left behind means that, literally thousands and thousands of pounds can be saved. It is more a case of not being able to afford to not make a Will.

I’m too young – and yet from the age of 18 everything you own will be distributed when you die so why not make your own decision as to who receives your belongings and cash rather than relying on what the law says.

I‘m not rich, so there’s no point – If you have anything special that you’d like to give to someone then you can ensure that they receive it by gifting it to them in your Will. Further, a main reason to make your Will is to name an Executor (the person who will deal with the estate and the funeral), otherwise family members will have to apply to the probate office. Just the cost of doing so and the avoidance of doubt as to who the deceased would have wanted is enough justification to write a Will. Lastly, but probably most importantly, a Will can name the children’s Guardians. If not named in a Will, a court will decide who the Guardians will be; the person they decide upon may not be who the deceased would have wanted.

I wrote a Will several years ago – the law changes all the time as do life circumstances, the likelihood that a Will written several – or even a few – years ago shall still reflect the wishes or the person who wrote it is small.

My circumstances are about to change – A Will can be written to accommodate for many changes and, especially where inheritance tax is concerned, the buying or selling of a property will not make changes to the amount of tax that will be due. However, a Will can ensure that an estate is divided in the most tax-efficient manner.

My partner will get everything – This is not true. Sometimes, a ‘partner’ will receive nothing at all. Even a spouse does not necessarily receive everything without a Will in place.

I don’t have the time – Writing a Will can be a little daunting, however, it isn’t necessary to make a full detailed list of everything. Using a professional is usually the quickest and surest way to guarantee that the process is straightforward and isn’t time consuming. And, any time spent will inevitably be less time than the trouble and expense that loved ones will need to go to sorting out the estate when there isn’t a Will in place.

The Survey Says
A survey carried out in the U.S. in 2011 found that about 60% of people do not have a Will in place including an astounding 92% of those in their mid-thirties (i.e. the age group in which many have young children and babies).

The survey discovered that 61 percent of men do not have a Will whereas only 53 percent of women don’t have a Will and that 32 percent of Americans would rather fill out their tax returns, have intrusive and painful dentistry or give up sex for a month than write their Will.

And the biggest excuses? The Will is too expensive and I don’t have the time. Yet, as mentioned above, using a professional saves both time and money (lots of it) in the long run.

So, why do we make excuses?
As we can see, all excuses sound feeble when put into context, so why do we make them?

Well, a person makes an excuse to justify why they made the misdemeanour or failed at something instead of them looking at the real reason.

The person wishes to lessen their responsibility so that they might have their misconduct overlooked or forgiven since it wasn’t really their fault, they were the victim.

Sometimes, however, we are rationalising our actions to no-one but ourselves. And, then, it is often so that we doing’ have to take a particular kind of action or responsibility. We blame an external situation for something that is really going on inside us.

We don’t feel comfortable looking at whatever it is that is going on inside, so we make an excuse for our action (or lack of).

Basically, what we are really avoiding is something that makes us fearful.

And what might that be?

Thinking about dying

A Huffington Post journalist thought she would ask some 80-somethings how they felt about dying and found, surprisingly, the elder generation who are closer to the inevitable were less fearful. In fact, many said they don’t even think about it at all. Perhaps because they believe, as did the Greek philosopher Epicurus that, “Death should not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.”

Yet, when it comes to talking about death, most of us shy away. Death brings on too many emotions and challenges with which we’d rather not deal.

Those who have a faith are sometimes eased by their beliefs, however, this isn’t always the case and what about those who don’t believe? Science tires to answer this, however, as with a faith, the result is that nobody really knows. What we probably fear is not death but the fear of losing what we have and the fear of not knowing.

And our minds don’t like ‘not knowing’.

Our minds like to take short cuts and store beliefs and memories for easy access next time. If, though, this is not a ‘next time’ but a ‘first time’ experience, our minds don’t like it one bit. We become uncomfortable.

Perhaps, the simple answer is, as the 80-somethings who talked to the Huffington Post had discovered, why think about death at all?

Writing Your Will

The process of writing a Will doesn’t need to be emotional or dwell on actually ‘dying’. We usually use the tern, ‘If you had died yesterday’, because if you are writing your Will today it’s clear you didn’t.

So the process focusses on what would be happening to your finances, how would you be protecting your loved ones, and whose lives would you be impacting for the better.

Writing a Will ensures that those you care about are looked after and have the least stress and worry as possible.

Further, most people feel relieved and relaxed after having made their Will. And why would you need an excuse for feeling that?

If you would like to speak to someone about writing your Will, why not give us a call on: 020 8920 3360 and we will be happy to discuss your options with you. Alternatively, you can email us at: or visit our website:

In the meantime, what was the worst excuse you have ever heard – or made?

Leave us a comment to let us know.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.