Sunday, December 31, 2006


As the forecasters predict a wet and windy New Year’s Eve with gales and rain, Tony Blair has escaped to Miami with his family as a guest of Bee Gee Robin Gibb. Apparently Mr Blair has been seen carrying a guitar into Robin’s home and it’s rumoured he’s looking forward to having a jam session with Robin and his brother Barry. Maybe Mr Blair should have become a pop star rather than Prime Minister! Happy New Year Everybody!


I was sorry to hear of the sad demise of the Little Chef chain of American style diners. Little Chef has provided a welcome break on long journeys to many families over the last 40 years. I spent many happy times there as a child. The all day breakfasts, especially the maple syrup pancakes were delicious. Little Chef has been a British institution for so many years, a welcoming sight by the roadside. They will be sorely missed.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Well done to XFactor winner Leona Lewis on having the No. 1 Christmas single with "A Moment Like This". I love that song and play it all the time. Leona has a wonderful voice and real star quality. Let’s hope that this time next year she will still be having as much success and won’t have faded into the background like former XFactor winner Steve Brookstein. That would be a real shame with all Leona’s talent.


Probably the most heartwarming story of this Christmas season is that of the Colombian born woman known only as Alba, who finally went home after spending a month in hospital, after becoming the first woman to have a double hand transplant. Alba who lost her own hands in a laboratory explosion in the seventies described her new hands as being, “beautiful”. The pioneering operation was carried out in Spain, giving Alba the best Christmas present she could ever have, the chance to regain her independence and lead a normal life again. We wish her well.

The funniest story of the season is probably that of the German man who planned to visit his girlfriend in Sydney, Australia but actually arrived in Sidney, Montana, USA and all because of spelling Sydney with an “I” instead of a “Y”, when he did his internet flight booking. This poor man’s geography is obviously as good as mine! Apparently he realised he was in the wrong destination after flying over the snow-capped mountains of Montana! Fortunately he finally managed to reach his Australian destination some five days later than planned after relatives clubbed together to buy him another air ticket!

The saddest story of the season is that of the oil rig workers who were all killed in a tragic helicopter crash in the Irish sea off the Lancashire coast, as they flew home to spend the latter part of the holiday season with their loved ones. Some of these poor men still had unwrapped Christmas presents waiting under the tree at their homes. This was a terrible tragedy. Christmas should be a time of rejoicing and happiness not sadness. Our hearts go out to the families of these men at this very sad time


A big hello to all my readers

Hope you all had a good Christmas holiday season. As for me I took a break from blogging and spent some quality time with my family, namely my Mum and my brother. It was good. Santa was good to me and brought me a new camera to replace my old one which stopped working on holiday. I had fun trying out my new toy. You can see some of the results above. Now I'm back blogging with a vengeance!

Sunday, December 24, 2006


I was pleased to hear that the fog has finally lifted, allowing thousands of stranded Heathrow passengers to fly home for Christmas with their loved ones. Christmas has become so commercialised nowadays, I think it's important we spare a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves in the world, those suffering from poverty and starvation. We also need to remember our troops, serving abroad who are away from their families at Christmas. The Queen has sent them a special Christmas message, praising their courage. Let's hope and pray for their safe return to their families and most importantly, let's pray for peace in the world in 2007. Merry Christmas Everybody!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I hope you've all enjoyed my first year of writing Diary From England. I'd like to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Congratulations to XFactor 2007 winner Leona Lewis! I've been voting for Leona throughout the contest. I always thought she had the XFactor. I'll be one of the first in the queue on Wednesday to buy her new single. It' already a hot favourite to become the Christmas No. 1 hit!


An official enquiry into Princess Diana’s death has concluded that her death was the result of a tragic accident, putting an end to conspiracy theories. Perhaps now Diana can finally be allowed to rest in peace. Many of us will never be able to accept that she is gone, Diana was such a beautiful and vibrant woman and so full of life. People will still continue to speculate as to what actually happened. Diana may have died in a tragic car crash but her memory will live on forever in our hearts. She was truly an icon and we will never forget her. But we also have to remember her sons William and Harry, two young men who are trying to live their lives in the public spotlight. It must be very difficult and upsetting for them with all the conspiracy theories flying around as to how their mother died, bringing all the memories flooding back of that tragic night. Now that the inquest is concluded, maybe they too can now be left to get on with their lives.

Photo:- Courtesy of Associated Press Photographs and Yahoo


First the good news, after losing nearly a million customers due to rising energy prices, British Gas has promised to cut prices of gas and electricity bills in the Spring. The bad news is that over a thousand British Gas employees are to lose their jobs, due to company restructuring.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Six people were injured and hundreds left homeless last week when a 140mph tornado swept through a suburb of London, leaving devastation in its wake. In just 10 seconds, the tornado, tore the roofs off houses, blew cars over and sent trees flying through the air. A local shopkeeper described the scene as like something "out of the Wizard of Oz," with the tornado just "sucking things up."

Sunday, December 10, 2006


A two and a half year jail sentence handed down this week to a young thug who murdered a hard working dad is a disgrace. What sort of message does this send out to other would-be offenders? It's no wonder that the public has lost confidence in the British Justice system and the power of the police to protect us. Government ministers including Tony Blair claim to be on the side of the victims of crime against criminals. Judging by this case the system is falling down badly.


As a mobile phone user, I was interested to read the results of a Danish mobile phone study conducted over 20 years. The study found no evidence of either long-term or short-term mobile phone use increasing your risk of cancer. Scientists found no link between mobile phone use and the development of brain tumours or leukaemia. Mobiles are currently used by 40 million people in the U.K. With the massive increase in mobile phone use amongst children, this is good news for everyone.


Audrey Hepburn was in the news this week as the little black Givenchy dress she wore in "Breakfast at Tiffanys" went under the hammer for £467,000 at Christies. The dress was snapped up by an annonymous telephone bidder. Audrey Hepburn won an Oscar for her role as Holly Golightly in the 60's movie. The dress was described by a film specialist as "one of the most famous black dresses in the world - an iconic piece of cinematic history."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I smiled to myself as I read about the villagers who were planning to hold a free Xmas party for all the residents. They had to get permission from their local council to hold the party and were told that they would have to carry out a detailed risk assessment of the food and entertainment first before permission could be given! Apparently the main area of importance was the mince pies with council bosses ordering that a poster must be put up saying they contained nuts and were made from suet pastry! The heat of the hot chocolate and the quantity of cocoa it contains must also be checked! Is this bureaucracy gone mad? It is Christmas and this is a village party. Or have council workers nothing better to do? If I was one of the villagers I would be tempted to call off the party and put up a poster saying party cancelled, blame the council!

Meanwhile the cash-strapped NHS is offering free dancing lessons to obese people in a pilot scheme running in some areas of the country. Apparently the NHS is paying for the lessons and ministers say it's a good investment as it will save the NHS money in the long run by encouraging obese people to get fit. It seems like the government has gone mad. With the current state of the NHS, surely the money would be better spent elsewhere.


Actress Gwyneth Paltrow has sparked furious criticism in the U.S. after reportedly commenting in a Portugese interview that she believes the British are “much more intelligent and civilised” than their American counterparts. Gwyneth is married to British rocker Chris Martin and lives in London, counting Madonna as one of her neighbours. Radio and tv chat shows discussing her comments were inundated with calls. One caller commented that Gwyneth “sounds like she thinks she's better than us. She should stay across the Atlantic. We don't need her." The actress apparently also criticised American mealtime conversation and way of life, saying that she loved the English lifestyle which wasn’t as capitalistic as the U.S. and that in England people talk about interesting things at dinner not about work and money. Gwyneth has done a swift turnaround on her opinion of the British. It was only quite recently that she was criticising British men and the British weather. Apparently Gwyneth is deeply upset, saying that her remarks were taken out of context and she is a New York girl and “proud to be American."

Meanwhile actress Renee Zellweger has revealed that she’s wild about English breakfasts and loves nothing better than a greasy fry up!

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Well done to Matt Willis on being crowned I'm a Celebrity King of the Jungle. After eating a kangaroo's bum (ughh!) amongst other bushtucker "treats" as part of a final challenge, the former Busted star more than deserved the title. Congratulations to him!


Health Minister Patricia Hewitt announced the date of Britain’s long awaited smoke ban in public places, describing it as a “triumph for public health”. The ban which affects all public places including pubs, restaurants, clubs and offices will come into effect on 1st July next year. Ms Hewitt believes the ban will save thousands of people’s lives, by encouraging them to give up the evil weed and protect the health of thousands of others from passive smoking. Scientific evidence shows that a range of serious medical conditions and deaths are caused by inhaling second hand smoke. These include lung cancer and heart disease.


Tony Blair has unveiled plans to change the face of education in our schools by 2008. Under new plans, children will be taught skills more relevant to their everyday lives, skills that will help them find work and raise a family. English classes will include lessons in how to write a job application letter and create a good C.V. Maths will include lessons on tax and saving and schoolkids will also be taught how to cook basic healthy meals for themselves as part of the new national curriculum. It's high time that the face of education changed to take account of changing times. So many things taught in schools nowadays are just not relevant to life in the outside world. With many illiterate and innumerate youngsters still leaving school, this has to be good news for everybody.


The Loch Ness Monster better known as Nessie has been voted the top Scot, beating Robert Burns and Sean Connery, who took second and third places in a recent survey which took place across the U.K. by Crabbies Green Ginger Wine.


I was interested to read that specially trained bees are now being used to sniff out drugs and terrorist bombs. They are contained within a shoebox sized boxed device and taught to respond to certain smells. Apparently when they detect certain smells they stick out their “tongues” and this is registered on a computer. Experts say it takes only a matter of minutes to train the bees, who are rewarded for their efforts with sugar water. Clever stuff!


It seems that Jack Sparrow’s popularity knows no bounds in the U.K. The latest Pirates movie is Disney’s fastest selling dvd in Britain, with over 1.5 million copies being sold in the last week alone. Disney are now producing a further 1 million copies of the dvd specifically for the UK market to keep up with demand. Shiver me timbers!

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair unveiled his official Christmas card this week, his last before he leaves office next year. The card shows Tony and wife Cherie standing on the staircase inside No. 10 with pictures of previous Prime Ministers hanging on the wall in the background. Quite appropriate really as Tony’s photo will be up there with them this time next year. It seems that Mr Blair is still as unpopular as ever. During auditions for a West End play, only two possible Tony’s and four wanabee Cheries turned up, hoping to play the PM and his wife!


How many times have you heard the expression, “Sit up straight, don’t slouch!” However scientists have now discovered that it is bad for your back to sit up straight for long hours at a time. Apparently the healthiest position for office workers to sit at their desks is leaning back at a 135 degree angle. Good news for slouchers everywhere!

Thursday, November 30, 2006


It seems that New York is the favourite destination for Christmas shoppers from Britain and Europe this year, as people flock there to snap up bargains due to the weakening dollar. Apparently many believe that they can easily recoup the cost of their flights in a decent shopping spree! The New York Post described Fifth Avenue as a “virtual flea market” for European travellers due to the depressed dollar! I’m all for snapping up a bargain but I don’t think I’d want to travel all the way to New York to get it, especially not in the Winter time, much too cold!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Stars (including Robin Williams and Nicole Kidman) were out in full force in Leicester Square this week for the premiere of Happy Feet, the animated story of a dancing penguin! The traditional red carpet was replaced by an ice blue coloured one with fake snow completing the winter wonderland scene. Happy Feet follows the story of Mumble a tap dancing penguin who is ostracised because he cannot sing, with stars including Robin Williams and Nicole Kidman doing the voices of some of the film's characters. The movie has already become a massive hit in the U.S. beating the new Bond film Casino Royale to the number one spot at the box office.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Home secretary John Reid has urged the public to keep calm after traces of the radioactive substance polonium 210 were found at London locations associated with the death of poisoned Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. Traces of the radioactive substance were found at a London sushi restaurant where Alexander had a meeting, his London home and also a London hotel. There were also unconfirmed reports that the substance had been found at two other London locations. Mr Reid also confirmed that a "significant quantity" of polonium 210 had been found in Mr Litvinenko’s urine following extensive tests by forensic toxicologists. I’ve been following the story of Alexander Litvinenko. According to news reports polonium 210 is an extremely rare substance that needs to be manufactured using a nuclear reactor. With security so tight at Britain’s airports and seaports following terrorist threats, I would be surprised if anybody could get through with a substance of this nature. There are many theories as to who caused Alexander Litvinenko’s death. Sadly we will probably never know.

Photo:- Courtesy of BBC Website


It is rumoured that Princes William and Harry are planning a charity concert next Summer, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of their mother’s death. The young princes are believed to be considering several options with a concert being their preferred choice. It is thought that the concert will be held at Wembley on July 1st which would have been Diana’s 46th birthday. Proceeds from the show will go to some of Diana’s favourite charities.

Photo:- Courtesy of Associated Press Photographs and Yahoo

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Stunned commuters couldn’t believe their eyes when the Queen and Prince Philip boarded a packed train, rubbing shoulders with other commuters. The royal couple travelled first class with their security guards on the way to a weekend in the country, to visit friends Lord and Lady Tollemache at Helmingham Hall, Suffolk. Some passengers filmed the royal couple on their mobile phones. It’s nice to see that the Queen and Prince Philip are not too proud to use public transport and rub shoulders with the general public. The Queen as always is a shining example to the rest of the royal family.


According to new research, it seems that taking Folic Acid could drastically reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. Researchers discovered that heart disease can be caused by high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid but Folic Acid significantly reduces these levels. Coronary heart disease is one of Britain's biggest killers, so this is good news for everyone.


According to the Dick Whittington fairytale the streets of London are paved with gold. It seems this might be true! London is a magnet for billionaires and has been nominated world capital of the super rich with 23 billionaires living there. So there we go!


Tony Blair is planning to bring in a team of “supernannies” in 77 areas of England to target anti-social behaviour amongst youngsters, in a new government scheme. The scheme will run parenting courses, which parents can volunteer to attend or be forced to participate in if their children break the law or refuse to attend school. I’m not sure that’s the answer. The government can make all the suggestions they like to handle problem children. Surely there is no better solution than good old fashioned discipline. With the cost of the supernanny system being estimated at £4 million it’s also a lot cheaper!

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Sacha Baron Cohen aka Borat was nowhere to be seen as Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayez met British Prime Minister Tony Blair this week. Mr Nazarbayez laughed off the insulting remarks about his country made by Sacha's character in the hit movie Borat. Kazakhstan's president told Mr Blair, "This film was created by a comedian so let's laugh at it - that's my attitude." It's nice to see that Mr Nazarbayez is taking Borat's remarks in good humour, whilst Sacha Baron Cohen continues to laugh all the way to the bank. On the other hand, Kazakhstan's president and people owe a debt of thanks to Sacha aka Borat. Before the movie came out, most people in this country had never heard of Kazakhstan but now thanks to Borat, the country is firmly on the map. Unfortunately it's for the wrong reasons!


According to government figures life expectancy of the British population has now reached record levels, with most men living to 81 and a half and women living to their 85th birthday. Here's to the next 45 years!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


According to a food watchdog, salmonella is present in one in every thirty boxes of imported eggs, bought from corner shops and discount stores in Britain. Apparently Spanish eggs have the highest rate of salmonella in Europe. The Food Standards Authority stressed that the majority of eggs we buy in this country are salmonella-free but warned vulnerable people like the elderly, pregnant women and sick people to cook eggs thoroughly to reduce any risk of food poisoning.


Many British fans who had paid over £100 to see Michael Jackson’s first UK performance for 9 years were bitterly disappointed. It was thought that Jackson’s performance at the World Music Awards at Earls Court would re-establish him as the King of Pop. However according to some fans, the event was an absolute shambles, with some fans demanding ticket refunds. Jackson who is now rarely seen in public since being cleared of child abuse charges, appeared on stage with a children’s choir, after collecting a lifetime achievement award. However he stunned fans by only singing a couple of lines of “We are the World”, stopping to say “I love you, I love you”, to the crowd, as he was booed off the stage. The troubled star also angered fans by not stopping to greet them outside the ceremony. He was so nervous that the show’s embarrassed and angry organisers had spent over an hour persuading him to go on stage. Many fans say they were misled after being told that Jackson would be performing a version of his hit “Thriller” at the ceremony. It seems that Michael Jackson has a long way to go before he can reclaim his title as the King of Pop.

Photo:- Courtesy of BBC Website


Apparently eating a small amount of dark chocolate everyday is good for you and can help prevent fatal blood clots. American experts made the startling discovery when volunteers on an aspirin study broke the rules and ate chocolate. Good news for chocolate lovers everywhere (including myself)!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Apparently the latest must-have fashion item is plasters (band-aids) encrusted with four Swarovski crystals for covering cuts. With a 10 pack costing £20, people buying these must have more money than sense.


It seems that the traditional British “booze cruises” to hypermarkets across the Channel for duty free drink and cigarettes could soon be a thing of the past, if a proposed ruling by the European Court of Justice goes ahead. The ruling will allow shoppers to order duty free drink and cigarettes from EU countries either over the phone or via the internet. The ruling is the first stage in setting a single rate of taxes across Europe.

Critics argue that being able to buy cheap drink and cigarettes will only lead to an increase in cancer deaths. In addition there will be a fall in tax revenue coming into Britain, which means there will be much less money to spend on essential services like hospitals and schools. For a lot of Britons, the end of cross-channel trips to the hypermarket will be like the end of an era! Life will never be the same again!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


The Queen led the nation in two minutes’ silence laying the first wreath at the Centotaph on Sunday, as the Royal family, politicians and war veterans gathered for the Remembrance day service in honour of British serviceman killed in battle. It was a sad day with four British serviceman killed in an attack on a patrol boat in Basra and another three seriously injured. If ever the country needed a reminder of the constant and awful danger British troops face in Iraq, this was it. With the death toll of British troops now at 125 and no end to the Iraq crisis in sight, surely it is time for Mr Blair to bring our troops home before any more lives are lost.

Photo:- Courtesy of BBC Website

Sunday, November 12, 2006


It's official, Ricky Gervais, British star of The Office has the funniest face on tv, according to scientists. Apparently his face fits the profile that amuses viewers most; small forehead, big lips, large eyes and high cheekbones!

PHOTO:- Courtesy of BBC Website


Dame Eliza Manning, the head of MI5 says her agents are currently tracking 1,600 Al-Qaeda terror suspects who are plotting at least 30 major attacks in the U.K. What a chilling thought!

Meanwhile British UFO expert Nick Pope believes the government aren't doing enough to investigate UFO sightings and are leaving us wide open to an extra-terrestrial invasion!

Also in the news this week, I was interested to read that many British police are afraid to tackle yobs and teenage thugs. What happened to the days when law and order ruled and the police were treated with respect? Surely the job of the police is to protect us from the criminals on the streets. If they're not capable of doing this, then something has gone badly wrong and the law and order system in this country needs a serious overhaul.


British scientists have successfully restored the sight of mice using retinal cells transplanted from newborn mice. The animals treated had irreversible damage to their eyes, similar to that found in humans. The news offers hope to thousands of blind and partially sighted people throughout the U.K., many suffering from age related macular disorders and hereditary eye diseases.


British children with Type 1 diabetes are being recruited to test an artificial pancreas in a trial run by Cambridge University. If successful, the device could revolutionise treatment for childhood diabetics, eliminating the need for repeated jabs to test blood and give insulin. The artificial pancreas is made up of a computer sensor which calculates how much insulin is needed by the body and an insulin pump. It is hoped that after clinical trials over the next couple of years, the device could be available for diabetic children to use in their own homes.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I know this is going off my usual news topics. But every so often I see blogs that really take my eye. I discovered one such blog today. Anthony Mole is 19 years old and new to the British Blogosphere. I was very impressed with his blog. It is very well written. In his profile Anthony states:-

Society should reward ambition and punish criminal behaviour. I'm proud to be British but happy to welcome others. Decisions should be made by common sense and not by politically correct puppets. A life sentence should mean life - how can prison defer offenders if they know they'll be free again in a few months? Policeman should be on the beat and not behind a desk. The health service should be there for all - smokers included. Why should 60% of our laws be made by an undemocratic European Union?

My sentiments exactly. Go and pay Anthony a visit soon, using the link shown below:-

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


It seems that the government’s plan spurred on by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, to improve the quality of school meals has backfired with fewer pupils than ever before now having school dinners. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that many children prefer the taste of chips and unhealthy food to healthier fare like vegetables and salads and are finding it difficult to get used to the new eating regime.


Dame Helen Mirren has been named as the world’s sexiest older woman, beating Goldie Hawn and Charlotte Rampling into second and third places. Well done to her!

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Tonight Britain celebrates Bonfire Night. Many readers have e-mailed me asking me to explain the origins of this special night. In 1605 a man called Guy Fawkes plotted with a band of others to blow up the Houses of Parliament, in the "Gunpowder Plot". They were angry at the persecution of Catholics by the King and planned to kill him in the explosion. The group were captured in the cellar of parliament, and executed before they had chance to go ahead with their plan. All over Britain on 5th November, we celebrate the capture of Guy Fawkes by having bonfire and fireworks displays and burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes. Groups of children can be seen with "guys" made out of old clothes asking for a "penny for the guy", a few days before Bonfire Night.


It seems that Britons are now constantly under surveillance with “Big Brother” watching our every move. According to a recent report Britain is the most spied upon nation in the free world, with a rise in CCTVs, speed cameras, internet monitoring and other sophisticated equipment monitoring our every move. Monitoring of travel, work rates and telecommunications is also on the increase. So now we know!


Well done to little Kirsty Howard on reaching her £5million target in her amazing fund-raising campaign. In reaching the target, Kirsty has secured the future of Francis House Children’s Hospice in Didsbury, Manchester. Kirsty, the brave little girl born with her heart back to front was given just 6 weeks to live 7 years ago. She is an inspiration to everyone who meets her and has formed friendships with many celebrities during her fund-raising campaign, including Ronan Keating and David Beckham. A book about Kirsty’s life, “Kirsty - Angel of Courage” is out on Friday with a foreword written by David Beckham. Well Done Kirsty!



As Britain celebrated British Sausage week, I’m a Celebrity winner Carol Thatcher launched the “Supreme Sausage Sarnie” competition. Bangers (sausages) are a great British favourite and the contest is open to anyone who thinks their sausage sandwich is the best. Regional winners will receive a prize of a weekend break in London!


British scientists made a breakthrough this week by developing the world’s first mini-liver. It was created using stem cells from umbilical cord blood in a machine used by NASA, which speeds up cell growth because of near zero gravity. The livers will be used by pharmaceutical companies to test new drugs, avoiding the need for both human and animal testing. In addition the small sections of liver could be used to treat patients in the next 10 to 15 years. Good news for anyone suffering from liver problems.


Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair warned this week that we face global catastrophe on a massive scale unless we take action now on global warming. Mr Blair’s message comes hot on the heels of a 700 page report by Sir Nicholas Stern, painting an apocalyptic future for the world if we carry on regardless, including rising sea levels and drought leaving over 200 million people homeless, 40 per cent of the world’s animal kingdom being wiped out and worldwide recession. Environment Secretary David Miliband has called for a menu of green taxes including duty on flights, pay-as-you-drive road taxes and higher duty on energy wasting appliances such as washing machines. It is clear to everybody that the world climate is changing. Britain has had the hottest summer on record and unseasonably warm weather this year. The results of Sir Nicholas Stern’s report are truly frightening. Hopefully they will be enough to convince the British public to change their ways and do their bit to save our planet. Even small things like switching off the tv rather than leaving it on standby or using energy saving lightbulbs could make a big difference to our future.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


It seems that the latest “must have” accessory for Britain’s teenagers isn’t the latest mobile phone or gadget but an ASBO (Anti Social Behaviour Order)! Many teenagers believe that having an ASBO gives them “street cred” amongst their friends and far from seeing it as a punishment, they treat it as a badge of honour to be worn with pride! According to a survey by the Youth Justice Board, youngsters don’t take ASBOs seriously anymore, with many breaching the conditions of the orders. With more and more people afraid to go out at night because of rising crime and attacks by young thugs and yobs, surely it’s time that the Youth Justice Board ditched ASBOs and found a more appropriate method of punishment that works.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Happy Halloween to all my readers! I took this spooky picture with my own fair hand. It was taken at a place called Pendle Hill, home of the Lancashire Witch Trials. This witch is a permanent fixture and popular tourist attraction at the Barley Mow Restaurant there.


Britain’s clocks were put back by 1 hour this morning to mark the official end of British Summer Time. I personally hate this time of year, especially the dark evenings. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is campaigning for the clocks to be left alone as hundreds of serious injuries and deaths, particularly amongst cyclists could be prevented by having lighter evenings. Some people believe the darker nights lead to an increase in crime. Experts worry about the effect on changing sleep patterns, particularly for night shift workers. The only thing I look forward to is an extra hour’s sleep!


Omega 3 found in oily fish, which boosts brain function and aids concentration in hyperactive children is being added to children’s favourite Heinz Spaghetti. All the more reason for them to eat it!


According to the results of two opinion polls taken this week, the majority of Britons would like to see troops withdrawn from Iraq sooner rather than later. Maybe it’s time Tony Blair listened to public opinion and brought our troops home before any more lives are lost.


A team of UK surgeons have been given permission to carry out the world’s first full face transplant. Charities and victims of facial disfigurements have welcomed the news, which will save them from long and painful reconstructive operations. The first partial face transplant was performed in France 11 months ago on Isabelle Dinoire, a dog attack victim who had lost her nose, lips and chin. There has always been some controversy surrounding the procedure, with many people being worried about seeing the face of a dead loved one on another person. However consultant Peter Butler, who will lead the team carrying out the transplant has reassured the public that once a face is transplanted, it settles across the bone structure and cartilage of the recipient, so that the characteristics become the recipients and you can’t recognise the donor’s face. The 12 hour £25,000 procedure involves taking skin, fatty tissues, veins and arteries from the donor and carefully attaching it onto the recipient.

However the surgery does carry certain risks, including tissue rejection, cancer from long term use of immuno-suppressant drugs and psychological problems. Also surgeons are still not sure how to make the eyelids work on a donor face, which is obviously important as the eyes need coverage and protection. In addition, experts warn that immuno-suppressant drugs can shorten life by up to 20 years. However as Peter Butler starts the search for a suitable candidate to undergo the first procedure, for many facial disfigurement victims, the gains of the surgery far outweigh the risks to enable them to live a normal life again.


Prince Charles came under fire from government MP’s this week for refusing their demands to show them his accounts records and books for his Duchy of Cornwall estate. Despite being one of the wealthiest men in the country, Prince Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall estate is exempt from corporation and capital gains tax, saving him a staggering £100million in tax every year. Surely paying this amount would hardly put a dent in the finances of somebody as wealthy as Charles. But the fact that he is standing firm and steadfastly refusing to pay means there is one rule for the heir to the throne and another for the rest of us (his subjects) who are expected to pay taxes. With the future of the monarchy in constant jeopardy in today’s changing times, Prince Charles would be well advised to pay his tax dues. If he continues to arrogantly refuse, his popularity and that of the monarchy in general will just sink to an all-time low with his future subjects, something I’m sure he won’t want to happen.

Photos:- Courtesy of BBC Website


British banks have come under fire this week for compromising customers’ security. It has come to light that many banks have been dumping sensitive customer information, including bank statements and loan applications in bin bags, without putting it through the shredder first. A number of bank staff have apparently complained about the lax security measures being taken, especially at a time when identity theft is rife. In future, banks will have to keep a tighter rein on the disposal of sensitive customer information, or risk facing heavy fines.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


According to the results of a survey published this week by Geographic Kids magazine, one in five British children are unable to pinpoint the UK on a map of the world. In addition, one in ten children cannot name a continent. Several children were unaware that London was the UK capital and many London kids were unaware that they lived in the capital! Most children didn’t know where the US was situated and couldn’t identify Iraq. The results of the survey were described by a professor as, “rather frightening” and “underlining the need for education to concentrate on the essentials."

Monday, October 23, 2006


It seems that despite all the cruel jibes he has made about the country, all is forgiven and Borat aka Sacha Baron Cohen has been invited to visit Kazakhstan by the country’s deputy foreign minister Rakhat Aliyev. In the character of Borat, Cohen jokes that in his country wooden carts are pulled by peasant women, they drink horse-urine and sing the folk song “Throw The Jew Down The Well”. Aliyev hopes that Sacha Baron Cohen’s visit, will help to change his views on the country and would like him to have a chance to see for himself that “women drive cars, wine is made of grapes, and Jews are free to go to synagogues". Deputy foreign minister Rakhat Aliyev told local news agency Kazakhstan Today, "I understand that the feelings of many people are hurt by Cohen's show. But we must have a sense of humour and respect the creative freedom of others."


Britain’s streets are becoming increasingly unsafe with a dramatic rise in muggings, violence and robberies. The main items being targeted by thieves appear to be Ipods and mobile phones. I was surprised to hear that in one area of the country Santa has to have a bodyguard! Apparently for the past two years, young thugs have been throwing rocks at a Santa parade in the West Midland which raises money for charity. Things have got so bad that a security firm has now been brought in to offer Santa and his team protection!


It seems that a broken mirror isn’t always a sign of bad luck. Superstitious British couple Ron and Irene Jones were worried when a mirror smashed in their home, minutes before they went out to buy a lottery ticket on Friday 13th. However it seems that despite the date, lady luck was shining down on them and they scooped a £9.3million jackpot. The couple who never walk under ladders or cross on the stairs for fear of bad luck hadn’t realised what date it was when they bought their lucky winning ticket. Congratulations and well done to them!

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I’ve been following the story of “veil row” teacher, Aishah Azmi, who was suspended from her teaching job in Yorkshire for wearing her veil and refusing to remove it in front of a male teacher. Aishah took her case to tribunal and was awarded £1,000 for “injury to her feelings”. The tribunal ruled that Aishah had been victimised by school chiefs. However they rejected her claims that she had been harassed and discriminated against because of her religion. Former foreign minister Jack Straw added fuel to the fire by stating that Muslim women should “drop the veil”.

In a similar case, BA check-in worker Nadia Ewelda was suspended from her job for wearing a small gold cross (a symbol of Christianity) around her neck. BBC Newsreader Fiona Bruce was also banned from wearing a cross around her neck by BBC governors who stated that it could “cause offence to people of other religions”.

It all seems very petty and narrow-minded to me. Where will this all end? We talk about integration and equality in society and the workplace and then we have incidents like this happening. Everyone including Christians and Muslims should be entitled to their beliefs. As long as they can do their jobs, it shouldn’t matter what religious background they are from, or whether they wear a cross or veil or whatever. This is the 21st century and people shouldn’t be judged, labelled or victimised for their beliefs.


A British schoolboy is being hailed as the new Jamie Oliver. Sam Stern now 16 has always had a keen interest in cookery, texting simple recipes to his older brother when he started university. Publishing company Walker Books saw his potential and offered him a four book deal. Sam’s first book, “Cooking up a Storm” was published last December and was an immediate success, selling over 300,000 copies worldwide. Sam proved particularly popular in the US, appearing on tv networks and radio shows to promote his book and became an overnight celebrity. Not bad for a 16 year old! Sam’s new book, “Real Food, Real Fast”, has just been published over here. Sam is concerned that many youngsters come home from school and eat junk food rather than preparing something healthy to eat. He has written to the Prime Minister in a bid to enlist his help in getting other youngsters into the kitchen cooking.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


A government health minister has recommended that Britain’s youngsters need to double the time they spend in school P.E. (Physical Education/Keep Fit) classes to avoid childhood obesity. It is estimated that one million children will be obese by 2010 if nothing is done to help them. It is hoped that the preparations for London to host the Olympic Games in 2012 will renew youngsters' interests in sports and encourage them to do more exercise. New research shows that children who play weekly sports have a better academic performance and achieve better grades in school.

Meanwhile the Disney chain have shown their commitment to children’s long-term health by banning junk food from their US and Paris theme parks. Burgers and fries are off the menu from next month and are being replaced with healthier fare such as fruit, organic pasta and carrot sticks! Disney has also terminated its association with fast food chain Mcdonalds which used to put Disney toys in its happy meals. Let’s hope that other companies will follow suit and ditch the junk food so we can have a nation of healthier kids once again.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I smiled as I heard about the story of a wild rabbit nicknamed "Bugsy" who spent a week hiding in a car engine! The car owner, Jon Llewlyn saw the wild rabbit hopping around near his car but assumed it had gone when he drove away, until he saw its little head poking out of the front grill of his car! He tried to coax the rabbit out and it disappeared so he assumed it had gone. However, it seems the rabbit liked its new home too much to leave and also liked travelling! A few days later after driving 60 miles, Jon found the rabbit again still under the bonnet before it was finally rescued! Jon admitted the rabbit who he nicknamed Bugsy had, "travelled a fair bit!"


According to figures released recently, over 1,000 violent crimes including killings, woundings and assaults have been committed in Britain by criminals released early from prisons wearing electronic tags. The system is obviously falling down badly. The theory behind electronic tagging is that releasing criminals early and tagging them is more cost effective than keeping them in custody, particularly with the present overcrowding crisis in many prisons. It may be ok to tag and put on curfew criminals who’ve committed minor offences but not serious and dangerous criminals.

Once again, as with everything, it comes down to money. It seems the government have a blatant disregard for public safety and they are more concerned about solving the prison overcrowding crisis. It’s time they got their act together. Spending money on creating more prisons is money well spent if it keeps murderers and violent offenders off our streets. Only then will the people of Britain be able to rest easy, safe in the knowledge that dangerous criminals are where they belong, behind bars and not in the heart of the community.

Monday, October 16, 2006


One of the nice things about writing Diary From England is the number of friends I’ve made amongst fellow bloggers. I’d like to dedicate this post to Sheila
  • Alabama Kitchen Sink
  • If you get a chance go over and have a look at her blog. Sheila is a nice Southern lady and a very talented writer and designer, who was asking me about Sacha Baron Cohen.

    Sacha Baron Cohen aka Borat and Ali G was in Amsterdam last week promoting his latest film, “Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan”. Sacha in the guise of his alter ego Borat managed to embarrass the girls of Amsterdam’s red light district, leaving nothing to the imagination, as he posed with them wearing a skimpy g-string.

    The controversial star has come under fire from the Kazakhstan government who claim he has made their country a laughing stock. The Kazakhstan government is so afraid of what people will think of their country after seeing the movie that they have produced television adverts showing scenes of picturesque countryside and modern cities in Kazakh. Sacha has also been banned from the White House and the Kazakh ambassador to Britain has branded him a "racist, chauvinistic pig".

    I know many people in Britain find Sacha’s characters of Borat and Ali G offensive but I personally think you have to take what he says in the humour with which it’s intended. The thing that makes Sacha Baron Cohen even more amusing is the fact that he’s not “politically correct” and seems to get away with saying all sorts of things in the guises of both Ali G and Borat! I think that’s one of the secrets behind his popularity.

    Sacha Baron Cohen’s career is going from strength to strength. He is popular in the U.S. and currently in negotiations to star opposite Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s big screen version of the musical “Sweeney Todd”. Love him or hate him, Sacha Baron Cohen is laughing all the way to the bank!

    Sunday, October 15, 2006


    I was pleased to hear that the government is going to pay a tax free lump sum bonus payment to troops serving in war zones. British troops deserve every penny and more. At last the government is recognising the important role they play. This payment is long overdue. Unfortunately though it is no compensation to these men’s families if they are killed in action. There have been so many lives lost in Iraq, surely now is the time to bring our troops home.


    I was interested to hear this week about the school headteacher who took a sunshine holiday two weeks into a new school term. Apparently the school governors allowed it because they felt she “needed a rest”. It’s alright for some. Parents at the school were outraged and quite rightly so. This is setting a dangerous precedent. If parents take children out of school to go on holidays during a school term it is now viewed as truancy with parents facing a £50 penalty if they go on holiday without getting permission from the school first. Permission is usually only granted in “exceptional circumstances”. Yet we have a headteacher openly flouting the rules and going off on holiday in term time. It seems there is one rule for headteachers and another rule for the parents and kids!


    A recent government report has confirmed that Britain is a nation of unhealthy, overweight people with the worst diets in Europe. Obesity is now a major problem in this country amongst adults and children alike, with two thirds of men and 60% of women either overweight or obese. Lack of exercise and bad diet are the main causes. In addition it seems that where you live in this country is a major factor too. The life expectancy of men in the North is two years less than men living in the South of England. Obesity is linked to many health conditions including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The government is calling for advertising regulator Ofcom to ban tv advertisements for junk food before 9.00pm. I personally don’t think this will make any difference whatsoever. Junk food is like cigarettes, if people want to eat junk food or smoke, they will do it, no matter what the consequences to their health. Also it seems that most of us lead such busy lives in today’s fast-paced world that more and more people either eat their food on the go or in front of the tv. Sitting together at a dining table for family meals is now a rare occurrence for many British families. This new style of dining has also meant that table manners are a thing of the past too with many people admitting they use their fingers rather than a knife and fork to eat. As somebody who was brought up the old fashioned way with meals always being eaten at the table, I must admit I was surprised when I read this. Even now I always eat my meals at the table and wouldn’t dream of eating a meal sitting on the sofa. Old habits die hard!

    Meanwhile Britain’s love affair with foreign food continues. According to a survey by the BBC’s Good Food Magazine many Britons have trouble pronouncing the names of some of the foreign foods and drink we love. Italian bruschetta was the main one that caused problems with over 60% of people saying they couldn’t pronounce it. I have always loved foreign food and love trying new things. I tried Japanese food for the first time last year. It was delicious. Even if I can’t pronounce some of the names it never stops me from eating the foods I love!

    Friday, October 13, 2006


    As children we were always told to eat our greens, the main reason being that they contain beneficial, health-giving properties. Health experts continually stress the importance of eating, “Five (vegetables) a day”, believing there is a link between diet and cancer. A leading Cambridge university doctor stated this week that food can be important in altering our susceptibility to cancer and possibly survival from it. So it’s no surprise to hear that a pill made from cabbage could soon be used in the fight against breast cancer. Apparently the vegetable contains molecules which kill cancer tumour cells. Good news for women everywhere and even better reason to eat your greens!


    Former Abba bandmates Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus are rumoured to be appearing as guest judges on Simon Cowell’s X Factor talent show. They could certainly teach today’s wanabee pop stars a thing or too. Abba were Sweden’s best export and had a string of chart hits with the likes of Mamma Mia, SOS and Dancing Queen. They are one of the most enduring pop groups of all time and are as popular today as they’ve always been. I have always loved Abba. They were one of my favourite pop groups. I still have all my old Abba vinyl records in pristine condition!

    Photo:- Courtesy of Yahoo News

    Sunday, October 08, 2006


    With Halloween fast approaching, I was interested to hear of the American woman, Laura Mallory, who considers JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books, “evil” and wants to get them banned from Gwinnett County, Georgia. Laura has taken the case to court, claiming that JK Rowling’s books promote witchcraft, telling the judge that she didn’t want her children to be indoctrinated into a religion whose practices are evil. The school authorities are insistent that the books should stay on the school curriculum as they encourage children to read. The Education Board plans to make it’s decision in December after the judge’s ruling.

    Saturday, October 07, 2006


    Britons are known to be a nation of curry lovers, with curry being one of the U.K.’s most popular dishes. New research reveals that eating curry could help in the fight against Alzheimers disease. Scientists have discovered that a chemical called Curcumin, found in curry and turmeric can help the body fight the disease. Curcumin helps the immune system to clear the brain of a waste product which is crucial in the development of Alzheimers. As a curry lover myself, it’s good to know that something you enjoy has health giving properties too.


    Aspirin has been hailed a wonder drug for fighting cancer in the past. It is known to block enzymes linked to cancer. However scientists have now discovered that Aspirin can also prevent the development of blood vessels which “feed” tumours. Scientists believe that this new information could lead to the development of new cancer-fighting drugs. Good news for everyone!


    With ageism and racism rife in the workplace, it’s good to hear that the Queen has set up a special prayer room facing Mecca at Windsor Castle, for the benefit of some Muslim members of staff. Windsor Castle is an equal opportunities employer and employs people from all different walks of life and religions. As head of the Church of England, the Queen is a shining example to other employers and indeed everyone else in Britain, showing that people of all faiths can live and work together in peace and harmony.

    Thursday, October 05, 2006


    Briton’s are “bingoing” mad! Bingo has grown in popularity in recent years and Bingo Halls are no longer the haunt of pensioners, with the game now attracting a younger clientele as well. Even Prince William is getting in on the act. The heir to the throne was spotted at a local bingo hall near Sandhurst, the elite military academy where he is currently training. Apparently he played for an hour but failed to win any prizes.

    I tried a bingo game myself a few years ago. I remember it as being very fast moving. My friend who I was with, couldn’t keep up at all with the numbers being called and gave it up as a bad job! I only managed it because I do shorthand and with that, the trick is to keep in mind the last words spoken. I remember finding it a bit stressful though! Maybe I’ll be lured back one day, if there’s the prospect of a large enough prize!

    Photo:- Courtesy of Yahoo News

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006


    I was sorry to hear the story of the British man on honeymoon in Kenya. His shocked bride of one week, watched in horror as he was trampled by an elephant. The couple were on an escorted nature walk, just 300 yards from their lodge, when the animal charged towards them. Shocked rangers said elephants don't usually behave that way and it must have been a "rogue" animal that was surprised by the couple. That's no consolation to this poor man's wife and family. Unfortunately wild animals are unpredictable and you just never know what they are going to do. Something many people have found out to their cost.


    I can’t believe how the weather is changing in England. It could be something to do with global warming or the fact the Britain has had the hottest summer on record for over 200 years. On Monday a tornado swept across the south coast and into Brighton. Shocked locals reported seeing the sky suddenly turn black and a howling wind start to pick up, as they noticed the twister about a mile out to sea. The vortex of the tornado could clearly be seen above Brighton pier, as seagulls flew away from it. Fortunately for the people of Brighton, the tornado blew itself out before it hit land. I’m sure they heaved a sigh of relief!

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006


    On a lighter note, a darts school of excellence is being set up. Aimed at 7 to 18 year olds, it will teach youngsters all about the game and where to stand at the “oche”. In the past, darts got a lot of bad press as an “unhealthy” sport, with players portrayed as having a beer gut, with a pint of beer in one hand and a cigarette hanging out of their mouths. The school organisers are eager that the sport should have a “healthier” image, stressing that there will be no smoking or drinking in their competitions. Darts is now recognised as an official sport in Britain and it is hoped that the school will discover future champions. The British Darts Organisation is campaigning for the game to be included in the 2012 London Olympics. As someone who played darts in my student days, I always liked the sport and I think it’s great that it’s finally getting some recognition.

    Monday, October 02, 2006


    It seems that more and more people in Britain are requesting that popular songs are played at loved one’s funerals rather than traditional hymns. According to an annual survey by the Bereavement Register, James Blunt’s “Goodbye my Lover” was at the number 1 spot as the most requested song to be played at funeral services last year. One of my personal favourites, the theme from Dirty Dancing, “I’ve had the Time of my Life” came in at number 3. What next!

    Sunday, October 01, 2006


    According to a recent survey, the most annoying habit for British motorists is people who “tailgate”, driving too close behind them. The second most annoying habit on the list was motorists who fail to indicate. I must admit that both these things annoy me when I’m driving. Speaking of people driving too close, a recent sign in a car's rear window made me smile, “If you come any closer introduce yourself!” Quite appropriate really!

    Friday, September 29, 2006


    Is it me or does the Christmas sales merry go round seem to start earlier and earlier every year? Apparently it’s not just me who thinks this. The residents of St Austell in Cornwall are none too happy after their town’s Christmas lights were put up this week, in bright sunshine! Angry townsfolk complained to the local council that it was far too early for them to start thinking about Christmas when Summer had only just ended. The official reason given for the lights was the fact that the council had nowhere to store them and they were taking advantage of the good weather to put them up! Local shopkeepers are saying that it makes St Austell a laughing stock! Bah humbug! Whatever happened to the days when Christmas was regarded as a religious holiday to spend special time with family? Nowadays it has got more and more commercialised with parents being forced to go into debt, buying the latest expensive toys for their children, which many will no doubt be bored with by the New Year.


    I’ve been following the story of Top Gear Presenter Richard Hammond, who was seriously injured in a 300 mph crash, whilst testing a jet powered car for the programme. It’s good to know that Richard (known affectionately to his fans as Hamster) is making a good recovery, despite suffering what has been described as a “significant brain injury” in the crash. Richard has been making really good progress and has now been moved to a hospital near his home. Experts believe it will be at least 6 months before he is fully recovered and back to his old self again. The BBC have announced that they are putting the next series of Top Gear on hold for the time being until Richard is well enough to return to the show.

    Meanwhile wellwishers have flooded the hospital with flowers, cards and get well messages since the accident. Richard and his family have asked if people can pledge donations via a special website, to Yorkshire Air Ambulance (which rushed Richard to hospital after his accident and helped save his life), rather than send him flowers. Already the site has raised over £100,000. The website details are shown below:-

    I’ve always liked Richard Hammond. He seems like a really nice person and a devoted family man. I enjoy watching Richard on Top Gear and always read his column in the Daily Mirror. Get Well Soon Hamster! Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. We look forward to seeing you back on our screens again soon!

    Photo:- Courtesy of BBC Website

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006


    British pubs are expecting to be extra busy next week when they slash the price of a pint to what it would have cost in 1982. For customers it will be like stepping into a timewarp! The reason pubs are being so generous is to celebrate publication of the 25th anniversary of The Good Pub Guide. The 2007 edition of the guide, regarded as the pub “bible” by many, comes 25 years after it was first published in 1982. Not bad for a publication that was started all those years ago by one man with a typewriter!

    Photo:- Courtesy of BBC Website

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006


    Tony Blair today bid an emotional final farewell to the people of Britain at his final Labour conference, thanking them and the Labour party for giving him, “the extraordinary privilege of leading you”. Mr Blair referred to his wife Cherie’s reported criticism of Chancellor Gordon Brown, joking that he wouldn’t have to worry about her running off with the bloke next door. According to some sources Cherie reportedly accused Gordon Brown of lying when he said it had been a privilege to work with the Prime Minister, although Mrs Blair and No. 10 spokespeople strenuously denied this.

    I smiled to myself the day I was due to return home from Canada, when I overheard a member of our tour group phoning family in England. The first thing she asked was, “Is Tony Blair still in office?” I’m sure Mr Blair won’t be short of offers to help him pack up his belongings. Maybe he would have fared better if he’d stuck with his original career choice and become a rock star!

    Photo:- Courtesy of BBC Website

    Saturday, September 23, 2006


    We all prefer our eggs cooked in different ways. Some of us prefer them fried, some boiled and some scrambled. But it seems that Prince Charles is very choosy as to how his eggs are cooked. According to a new book by Jeremy Paxman, Prince Charles likes a boiled egg when he returns from hunting but the palace staff have to cook him seven so he can personally test each one to ensure that he gets the one that is cooked to perfection! Although Prince Charles is known for his eccentricities and the fact that he likes to talk to his plants, palace aides have denied the books’ claims.

    Photos:- Courtesy of BBC Website


    A revolutionary sugar substitute has gone on sale in Britain this week. The honey like liquid is derived from the same cactus plant used to make tequila. Agave Nectar is said to be sweeter and healthier than sugar with no aftertaste. It is said to help to reduce sugar cravings and burn off fat rather than store it. Also unlike honey, it dissolves instantly so is perfect in tea and coffee and when used for baking. Good news for millions of sweet-toothed Britons everywhere!


    I’ve been catching up on the news since I got back. Apparently the hottest gift for newborn babies is a pension fund! Talk about being born with a silver spoon in your mouth! I know experts advise us to set up private pension funds early but this is taking things a bit far! Whatever happened to gifts of bootees and rattles?


    First the news that HP sauce was going to be produced in Europe and now we hear that the production of Smarties, the popular colourful British children’s sweets is to be transferred to Germany. Unfortunately it seems to be a sad sign of the times. Hopefully it won’t affect the taste of the nation’s favourite sweets!


    I'll never forget my holiday in Canada, a special treat to celebrate my 40th birthday. Canada was wonderful. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. My Mum and I stayed in Montreal for the first 3 nights and then spent the remainder of our stay in Toronto. We toured Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Toronto and Niagara Falls. Montreal was a nice city and very easy to find your way round. It was good to see the government buildings in Ottawa. I also enjoyed looking around the artists’ paintings in Quebec. It was such an “old world” type of place. It reminded me a bit of York in England. It was nice to hear the range of French accents. I still remember a little French from my schooldays but not very much.

    For me the highlights of the holiday were going up the CN Tower in Toronto, walking on the glass floor and looking out at all the wonderful views over the city and going for a boat ride on the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls. I donned my blue poncho but didn’t get quite as wet as I expected! Having watched the film, “Niagara” with Marilyn Monroe, I was expecting to wear a yellow rainhat and mac but apparently they were phased out a few years ago, in favour of the blue ponchos which are more cost-effective! It was an unforgettable experience seeing the falls close up and one I will never forget. My Mum (who is afraid of water and can’t swim) decided to take a helicopter ride over the falls instead and persuaded me to accompany her. That was great too, in a different way to the boat and the views above the falls were fantastic.

    Toronto was a fun city to visit too, with many shops and attractions. The night we arrived, the city was busy as everybody was out in full force, hoping to catch a glimpse of Beyonce who was performing in concert. We found a wonderful restaurant, “The Pickle Barrel” which had over 300 menu choices! There was something for everyone. It was refreshing to meet a girl from Liverpool who greeted us at the door of the restaurant. She had lived in Toronto for over 10 years and we caught her up on the latest news from England. I would definitely recommend “The Pickle Barrel” to any visitors to Toronto. It’s very easy to find, on Yonge Street, just a couple of blocks from the famous Eaton shopping centre. Good food, good service, lots of menu choices, pleasant, helpful staff. What more could you ask for! We dined there all the time we were in Toronto. Another favourite place is Tim Hortons! They do wonderful coffee and pastries! The best coffee in Canada we were told and we weren’t disappointed.

    We crammed so much into our Canadian trip. But it was great! The Canadians were really warm and friendly people and many stopped to talk to us when they heard our British accents in shops and restaurants. I also caught a couple of American T.V. shows whilst I was over in Canada, “Dancing with the Stars”, the American version of our “Strictly Come Dancing” show. I also saw an interesting show called, “The Ghost Whisperer” with Jennifer Love Hewitt. Apparently it’s shown on the satellite channels in England but I’ve never seen it before. The town where the Ghost Whisperer is set reminded me of Niagara on the Lake, another place we visited in Canada. It's a small, old-world colonial style town. It's really nice with lovely shops.

    It’s nice to be home again but my memories of my Canadian holiday will stay with me forever. It was definitely the holiday of a lifetime. Now I’m back home with my cuddly Canadian moose (a souvenir of the trip) and back to reality again!

    N.B. This was originally posted over at Diary From England in September 06.