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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
First of all I'd like to say a big thank you to all my readers for all the nice comments and remarks I've had about Diary From England. Thank you also to the people who recommended Diary From England to Newsland and Stumble Upon. The site has now been added to both and can now be viewed on PDA and handheld mobile devices. Your support is much appreciated.
I will be away on holiday in Canada from the early hours of tomorrow (Tuesday 12th Sept) onwards and fly back next Tuesday (19th). Apologies for lack of posts. I'll be posting again with a vengeance when I get back! Watch this space!
Today we remember all the brave men and women who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks, the day the world changed forever. We will never forget the events of that terrible day, they will be etched in our minds forever. Our hearts go out to those who lost their loved ones that day. They are gone but certainly not forgotten. May they all rest in peace.
Tony Blair has confirmed he will be leaving office within the next 12 months but has so far refused to name his actual departure date. As the Labour party continue to fight over who will fill his shoes, it looks like Gordon Brown is still the hot favourite for the job. Certainly whoever moves into No. 10 will have their work cut out putting the country back on it’s feet again. Hopefully it will be somebody who can put the great back into Britain.
I was shocked to hear the news about Steve Irwin’s death. Steve was Australia’s best ambassador and did so much for animal conservation. He was such a larger than life character, as he wrestled with crocodiles and snakes, he always seemed like he was invincible. But unfortunately none of us are. Steve’s passion for wildlife particularly crocodiles was inspiring and entertaining. Steve took a lot of risks in his work, trying to bring us closer to nature and helping us to better understand the animal kingdom. The only consolation for his family is that he died doing the job he loved, whilst filming a tv documentary. I’m sure he’s still chasing crocodiles up there in heaven. Rest in peace Crocodile Hunter, you will be sadly missed.
Congratulations to Jane Tomlinson on completing her epic cycle ride across the States! Despite being in tremendous pain, terminal cancer sufferer Jane managed to cycle 4,200 miles in nine weeks from San Francisco to New York raising £100,000 to date. The money is to be shared between various British and American cancer and children’s charities. Since being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Jane has already raised well in excess of £1million for cancer charities prior to her “Ride Across America”, by completing a variety of triathlons and a bike ride from Rome to Leeds. No mean feat for a woman who was diagnosed with advanced metastatic breast cancer 6 years ago and given just 6 months to live. Jane is surely an inspiration to all of us and living proof that it is possible for any of us to achieve the impossible, whatever our circumstances. Well done Jane!
To read more about Jane and her epic ride or to make a donation go to:-
Apologies for lack of regular posts this week. As some of you know it gets a bit hectic sometimes as I try to hold down a full-time job, spend time with family and friends, do freelance writing and post on my blog as well. This week has been extra mad as I'm preparing to go on holiday early next week. All being well I'm off to Canada on Tuesday on a special holiday for my 40th birthday. My Mum and I are going on a touring holiday visiting Montreal, Quebec, Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls. I've always wanted to go to Niagara Falls since I saw the film Niagara with Marilyn Monroe a few years ago, so for me that will be the highlight of the trip. I'm looking forward to having a Maid of the Mist boat trip (weather permitting!) I've been eagerly watching news reports regarding the situation at the airports. Hopefully things have settled down now, so I'll be starting my packing with a vengeance this weekend!
It seems that foreign bodies in our food are on the increase nowadays. I smiled to myself as I read the story of an English woman who got a shock when she opened a box of spicy chicken wings. Inside amongst the wings, she found a chicken’s head, complete with beak, neck and two eyes staring her straight in the face! Not surprisingly the woman got the shock of her life and vowed never to buy them again. Apparently the manufacturer had no idea how the head got in there. Sounds like foul play to me!
I've been following the story of the tragic Hogan family. John Hogan is now awaiting trial in Crete after jumping off a balcony with his two children, when his wife told him she wanted a divorce. We can only imagine what was going through this man's mind when he jumped, injuring himself and his two year old daughter and killing his six year old son Liam. It was Liam's funeral this week. He was a lovely little boy with so much to live for. A fan of Doctor Who, it was sad to see his floral tributes, a dalek and tardis and his devastated mother blowing a final kiss to her beloved son. What a terrible waste of such a young life.
With cases of identity theft now rife in this country, you would think that government authorities would be extra careful to get it right when issuing important documents, but apparently not. A black teenage girl was shocked to receive her new driving licence with the picture of a Chinese man inside it. Apparently the DVLA (who issue the licences) have promised to investigate the matter. I should think so too!
After the death of the world’s oldest woman this week at the age of 116, her family attributed the secret of her long life to drinking donkey’s milk! With continuing advances in medicine and technology, scientists say that in the future it could well be the norm for people to live well into their 100’s. But would we want to? Critics argue that an ageing population living longer would have a devastating affect on our already cash-strapped National Health Service and the country’s economy. However scientists believe that as technology advances people could live longer and still be fit and healthy.
As the argument continues, it seems that more and more of us are seeking the fountain of youth. Anti-ageing is big business as people continue to look for products and treatments that will keep them eternally youthful and stop the harmful effects of time. One man in particular is hoping to jump on the bandwagon. Jeya Prakash, a Harley Street plastic surgeon, claims to have found the secret of eternal youth in the form of regular injections of human growth hormone. Jeya states that himself and his wife have been on the wonder treatment for 18 months and are living proof that it works. The good doctor is planning to set up a clinic to administer the injections to the likes of you and I for a no doubt large fee. I must say I’m sceptical to say the least, even if Jeya’s wife looks youthful enough to pass for his daughter. Also human growth hormone, when administered regularly in large doses can have serious side-effects, including high blood pressure and diabetes. But for some people who will stop at nothing to reverse the effects of time, the gains no doubt outweigh the risks.
Also in the news this week, scientists in Manchester have made a dramatic breakthrough in their quest to find a cure for baldness, in the form of a protein code that tells cells to sprout more hair. By sending the protein code to more cells, they were able to breed mice with more fur.
New government plans unveiled by MP Harriet Harman are set to revolutionise life in the workplace for working mums. Under the new plans working mums will be entitled to paid time off to care for sick children. In addition mums can request shift patterns which slot in with school opening and closing hours and will also have a legal right to work part-time hours to fit in with family life. Under the present system, employees can ask to work part-time hours but employers do not have to agree to this but under the new plans, if employers do not agree, they will have to prove that the job can only be done by someone prepared to work full-time hours.
Good news for Britain’s working mums. For too long the women workforce in this country has been undervalued and underpaid. Finally the government has acknowledged they have an important role to play in building up the country and the economy. Women shouldn’t be forced to choose between career and raising a family. They should be able to do both. Hopefully the new government plans should go a long way to making this possible. They are certainly a step in the right direction.