Cool umbrellas that’ll make you pray for rain!

Living in Bahrain, we don’t see much rain, so this is dedicated to our readers who actually see more rain than twice a year!

Whether you call it an umbra, bumbershoot, gamp or brolly, there’s no question that the umbrella comes in handy when you know rain is on the horizon; or, more often than not, when blue skies suddenly turn grey.

Truth be told, umbrellas have come a long way, baby, getting much needed overhauls, becoming lighter, stronger and feature-filled.

If you’re still trekking around with your ol’ faithful that barely shelters your shoulders and blows inside out, it’s time to make a worthy investment and equip yourself for the inevidable.


The Davek umbrella might not look like much but it comes with an unconditional lifetime guarantee, which says something about the quality. It features a three-action button system allowing you to open and close the umbrella with the push of a button. The best part – when a gust of wind inverts the umbrella the ribs correct themselves to a closed position with another push of the button. The flexible carbon frame prevents breakage or tearing and a steel shaft provides stability. Available in two different sizes, the Solo—sized for one person— is $95 and the Duet—sized for two people— is $149 at Davek. Not bad considering you’ll never need to buy another umbrella again.


The Senz can withstand gale force winds (winner of the Red Dot Design Award). Senz claims that the umbrella can withstand 70mph (100km/h) winds. Although we didn’t get into a wind tunnel, the asymmetrical, aerodynamic design does a good job of deflecting the wind instead of struggling with it. It’s especially useful in cities where wind tunnels down streets and sends umbrellas flying when turning the corner. Resembling an airplane wing, the Senz shape also lends itself to better visibility and the extended back end clears the back of your heels, which often get soaked with conventional umbrellas. Available from Senz for €50.

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The Swims Automatic Classic is a retro-inspired umbrella with all the latest features. Push button, auto-up/auto-down action makes it easy to operate with one arm, great for when running errands when you might be walking in and out of buildings repeatedly while carrying stuff. The movement is smooth and satisfying, opening to a generous amount of canopy. A hard rubber handle provides a soft but sturdy grip while a softer rubber tip makes it conducive to use as a walking stick. Available from Oki-ni for £39.

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Another one that’s made the rounds, but we think is pretty smart is Hiranao Tsuboi’s Stand Umbrella. The unique characteristic here is a tripod-like tip that allows the umbrella to stand on its own. This might seem like a straightforward thing to engineer, but a series of test were performed to determine optimal center of gravity and spread of the three legs so it would not only stand but also be stable. Buy it in white or black for ¥4,200 at 100%.

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The Ambient Umbrella caused quite a hubbub when it recently became available for purchase. Using AccuWeather’s info, the wireless receiver in the handle alerts users to any incoming precipitation. You won’t leave home without your umbrella again, how can you when the handle is blinking? Purchase it for $100 from Think Geek or call Ambient Devices at +1 866 311 1999


Made of nylon the Fold and Go Umbrella by Gijs Bakker is big enough to comfortably shelter you from the rain but folds up into the sleeve that’s attached to the top, which means no more losing sleeves! The orange under side will provide a nice glow even in the gloomiest conditions keeping you happy and dry. For price and additional info, visit Eno to find retailers in France.


5 Reasons Starbucks isn’t just about the coffee: iTunes, My Rewards and free Wi-Fi

Whether you prefer independent coffee shops and find mocha-frappa-wotsits too commercialised, or you’re a die-hard Starbucks fan, you can’t deny that the popular chain makes pretty amazing drinks around Christmas time, with syrups, too much cream and how could we forget the red cups.

Well you may notice when you venture in for your festive coffee in the next month or so that the chain has been working on even more ways to entice people to buy its coffee and promote its popular brand.

We’re not saying the coffee is the best in town, but the things Starbucks is doing online and the initiatives it’s been adding are pretty cool. So, we’ve decided to write a quick round-up of new things going on in your local green coffee haven.

1. Free iTunes book and music download

As part of a new partnership with Apple, Starbucks will be offering its customers a “Pick of the Week” iTunes music or book download to every person who buys a drink on a Monday.

More than 700 Starbucks stores across the UK will offer download code cards which are then redeemable through iTunes. To try the “Pick of the Week” out for yourself, go to your local Starbucks, log-in via the free Wi-Fi and then go to the Starbucks Digital Network and find the Entertainment section.

2. Free WiFi for all customers

It always used to be pretty easy to get online when you visited your local Starbucks, but now it’s more simple than ever.

Just turn on your laptop or mobile device, go to the website and then click “connect”. See, we told you it was easy peasy.

3. My Starbucks Rewards to launch in the UK

My Starbucks Rewards currently only operates in the US and Canada and it’s like a loyalty scheme which rewards customers the more they visit.

The scheme allows customers to work from a welcome level member up to a gold level member, giving them free drinks and special offers along the way.

The scheme hasn’t come to the UK quite yet, but according to reports it’s on its way soon…

4. My Starbucks Idea

Many brands ask for feedback from customers but then fail to deliver on promises to actually change anything. However, Starbucks runs the My Starbucks Idea part of its website which allows people to make suggestions about improving services, products and the overall brand.

You can browse recent ideas, see which ones are being put into action (which suggests the brand does listen to what we’re saying) and even submit your own.

This is also a clever strategy from Starbucks as a way of building a community and making customers feel like they really matter.

5. Starbucks application

If you’re in need of a caffeine hit and have no idea where to turn, then the Starbucks app will point you in the right direction.

You can also build a drink based on what kind of thing you fancy too, which is good if you’re a little indecisive.

The app can be a little buggy, so you may need to persevere with it for a little…

Available from iTunes for Free.


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