I spent a very enjoyable day in Liverpool yesterday. As many of you know, Liverpool is home of the Beatles. It’s also home to some of the friendliest people in England. If you’re planning a visit to Liverpool, make sure you drop by the Cavern Club, (where the Beatles made their debut), whilst you are there. Apart from the Beatles connection, there are also museums and art galleries to explore on a rainy day or why not take a ferry ride across the Mersey or head to The Maritime Museum. This is apart from the wealth of shops and stores. A day really isn’t long enough to see everything! For more information on Liverpool, please follow the links below:-
N.B. This was originally posted over at Diary From England in May 06
This week is National Vegetarian Week, so what better time to ditch the meat and become vegetarian. Or if you’re not quite ready for that yet, just replacing some of your meals with the healthy recipes shown on the website (link below) is a good start. For more information go to:-
Well it’s another big Bank Holiday weekend here in England. I’ve only just recently come back from my break in Paris and after a mad week at work, it just feels like I’ve never been away! That’s the way it goes. Sometimes I think it would just be easier to work 52 weeks of the year and not take any holidays!
It’s been the wettest May for a decade and over a million Brits are heading abroad for the Bank Holiday, in a bid to escape the bad weather. Apparently popular supermarket chain Asda has reported record sales of umbrellas. Waterproof coats and Wellington boots have also been selling well. Not surprising really!
Good news for British women this week, the breast cancer drug Herceptin has been granted a licence, which means it could be available for use on the NHS within a few weeks’ time. Previously treatment with the drug was dependant upon which area of the country women lived in and if sufficient funding was available and how exceptional each individual case was. The news was welcomed by breast cancer sufferers who previously had to fight to be prescribed the drug.
England may soon have a new famous resident. Michael Jackson (currently visiting London on business), has expressed his love of England and his desire to live here. He is currently looking at properties in London and also Ireland and Scotland in his bid to recreate a new “Neverland”.
British cult children’s tv programme, “Blue Peter”, changed its name to “Green Peter” on Wednesday afternoon, to highlight the problems of climate change and global warming. This is the first time the programme has changed its name in 47 years of being broadcast. I loved that programme and grew up watching it in my childhood. Wednesday’s episode of the show was broadcast from the Blue Peter garden, focusing on how young viewers can help the environment. Fortunately the name change is only for one day. It’s probably just as well. I’m all for saving the planet but “Green Peter” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Blue Peter!”
Prince Charles today praised and encouraged the use of alternative medicines and treatments like acupuncture and herbal medicines alongside conventional treatments to improve global health. Prince Charles stated that patients with serious conditions like heart disease, diabetes and stroke should seek the “best of both worlds”. Meanwhile, a group of eminent doctors have slammed the use of NHS cash on alternative therapies, dismissing them as “implausible treatments” which may not work. Instead they believe the cash should be spent on proven conventional medicine. Prince Charles stated the importance of doctors “striking a balance” between conventional and alternative treatments. I have to agree with him. As somebody who works in the alternative health industry myself, I would never recommend to anyone that they dismiss conventional medical treatment totally. Alternative treatments and remedies should be used alongside conventional medical treatments and not instead of them. The key is striking a balance.
Home Secretary John Reid today agreed that the Home Office needed a complete overhaul and was unfit to cope with immigration, one of the country's most sensitive political issues. After everything that has happened so far in this country I would say that this definitely needs to be done sooner rather than later. How can the British public ever feel safe again when it was revealed that more than 1,000 dangerous foreign criminals were released back into society rather than being deported due to a home office blunder. One Home Office chief caused uproar when he freely admitted he had no idea how many illegal immigrants were currently at large in Britain. Then to add insult to injury, we are then told that 1,500 innocent British citizens have wrongly been branded as “criminals” and had their lives ruined due to a Home Office computer identity records mix up. What an absolute shambles! One national newspaper branded the home office, “a Ministry of Mayhem!” and I have to agree. The system is clearly not working and heads should definitely roll for this. Mr Blair’s should be the first one.
Under new government plans to fight childhood obesity, the Department of Health is considering school “weigh-ins” for children aged 4 and 10 years old, where parents will be warned if their kids are overweight. Apparently a similar pilot scheme is currently running in the U.S., where pupil’s weight is graded as being “within safe limits”, “out of shape” or “obese”. The kids are weighed before they start primary school and when they leave. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for healthy kids but I’m not sure if this is the right way to go about it. In a society where we are already bombarded with the media’s stereotype of “the perfect body size and shape”, there is every chance it could backfire. Kids should be allowed to enjoy their childhood and not become obsessed with their weight and what they can and can’t eat. This will only lead to the rise of eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. I’m sure nobody wants to see that happen.
A host of stars, including Ozzy Osbourne, Lionel Richie, Will Young, Annie Lennox and McFly, helped Prince Charles to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of The Prince’s Trust last night, with a special charity concert held at The Tower of London. The Prince’s Trust has helped thousands of needy youngsters to turn their lives around. You can help even more by making a donation at:-
The concert was excellent, a good evening’s entertainment. I watched it on tv. The highlight of the evening was Ant and Dec interviewing Prince Charles and his sons. It was nice to see them, father and sons relaxed and happy. Interviews like this remind us that even though Prince Charles, William and Harry are members of the royal family, they are still human at heart like the rest of us.
The government has announced new plans this week to combat childhood obesity and get kids to eat healthier. From next term onwards junk food such as turkey twizzlers, sweets and fizzy drinks are to be dropped completely from school menus. Instead kids will be served at least two portions of fruit and vegetables with every meal. The real trick will be getting kids to eat them! I bet there will still be a lot of kids who’ll still sneak out to the local chippy!
I was surprised to hear that Paul McCartney and Heather Mills are separating. I always thought they seemed like a very well-matched couple. It just goes to show how appearances can be deceptive. It’s difficult for any couple nowadays to keep a relationship going and it must be even harder when you’re in the public eye, with the world’s media tracking your every move through a camera lens. Apparently Heather found it difficult to live in Paul’s shadow. With the popularity of The Beatles, I’m sure it would be difficult for any woman. Also Linda was a very hard act to follow. According to media reports, Paul was set in his ways and didn’t like how Heather tried to “smarten” him up and preferred to go round in jeans and trainers. I’m sure there was fault on both sides but it’s just a shame that it’s come to this and the couple weren’t able to work out their differences. I hope the media gives them some space and privacy to work out an amicable divorce settlement, for the sake of their little daughter.
Brighton has been voted the U.K.'s best seaside resort in a recent poll conducted by the BBC's Homes and Antiques Magazine. Hopefully this should help to improve Brighton's image, previously the butt of many jokes as a popular venue for a "dirty" weekend!
The majority of British pensioners are struggling to survive on a state pension that is one of the worst in developed countries. According to the results of a National Pensioners’ Convention survey, one in five British pensioners live in poverty, with one in ten so poor that they are malnourished. Others are dying of cold because they can no longer afford to heat their homes. As living costs, including fuel and council tax continue to rise, many pensioners are finding it more and more difficult to make ends meet.
According to new research, being a working mum is good for your health! A report in the British Medical Journal says that, “Combining work with family life is good for health. While it may be stressful at the time, their long term health is better when women have a combination of roles”. In contrast, stay at home women have poorer health and a good chance of being obese by the time they’re 50! So now we know! Women can have it all and still be healthy too!
British pubs face heavy fines or closure if they are caught selling alcohol to underage drinkers under new government guidelines announced this week. The tough new measures are being introduced in an effort to stamp out underage youngsters going out and getting drunk. Any pub found selling alcohol to minors more than twice in a three month period will be forced to close. If they plead innocent and take the case to court, they risk closure for three months and a heavy fine.
Tony Blair has angered animal rights groups this week by signing an online petition supporting drug testing on animals. Mr Blair is the patron saint of lost causes. Many people in this country (including myself) are against animal testing. You only have to look at the recent TGN1412 drug tests disaster, to realise just how unreliable animal testing can be. Animals have different physiology to humans and react differently to certain drugs than we do. What is safe and works effectively for animals doesn’t always have the same effect in a human, and in some cases can have devastating and often dangerous effects as happened in the TGN1412 drug trial. A classic example is the Thalidomide drug which caused birth defects in thousands of people, when used by humans, despite having been tested on several different species of animals with no ill effects.
What sort of example is this for a Prime Minister to set. Whilst Tony Blair backs animal testing, the large pharmaceutical companies will never bother to look for alternative methods of testing new drugs. At the end of the day it all comes down to money. All these companies are concerned about is how much money they can make from the discovery of new drugs. Some will stop at nothing to make a profit and that includes using innocent animals in torturous experiments. Mr Blair doesn’t seem to be able to separate the actions of a few animal rights extremists and the ethical concern behind them. Instead of signing the petition supporting animal testing, he should have been using his position as Prime Minister to protect the public at large and combat extremists in all sectors of our society (not just animal rights). He is completely out of touch with reality and totally unfit to govern the country.
In the news this week, it seems that the humble ice cream van is about to disappear from our streets. I have fond memories of buying icecream from an icecream van in my childhood years, something that today’s youngsters will never get to experience if the government has its way. It seems that local authorities are being given the power to ban icecream vans from trading near schools to encourage children to eat more healthily. In that case maybe they should ban corner shops and sweet shops too, because if there is no icecream van handy, kids will just head there and buy something even more unhealthy instead! This comes in a week when the “Just One Cornetto” song was voted the nation’s favourite advertising jingle.
I’m now back, batteries recharged and raring to go after my break in Paris. It was nice to see the Louvre Museum, one of the places featured in Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code”, the eagerly awaited movie, which has just been released this week. Everywhere I went in Paris, there were posters advertising the movie.
I also visited The Palace of Versailles, Monet’s Garden, Sacre Coeur, The Arc De Triumph, The Champs Elysees, Montmartre and Notre Dame. Paris is a beautiful city, one of the most romantic cities in the world and it was a wonderful experience to go there, especially walking underneath the Eiffel Tower. I have visited a lot of places including Paris but it is always nice to get home to England and have a nice cup of English tea! It never tastes the same anywhere else. The only thing I will miss is the French croissants - delicious! Bon Appetit!
The National Health Service is under fire again this week for starting a campaign to encourage people suffering from certain ailments like heart problems and breathing difficulties, not to go to Accident and Emergency Departments. This is part of yet another cost-cutting exercise but unfortunately it’s the British public who are the sufferers.
We pay taxes to fund a Health Service which will take care of us when we’re sick, yet the system is failing everyone yet again, treating them as a nuisance and an inconvenience. With their attitude it does make you wonder sometimes why we bother paying taxes in this country.
Burtons Foods have been fined £5,000 for short-changing shoppers over the length of their chocolate fingers! The biscuits described as “giant” chocolate fingers were considerably smaller than the large tin they were packaged in, misleading shoppers. They should’ve known better. Every inch of a chocolate finger is important to the nation’s chocoholics!
I have been following the story of veteran comedian Bruce Forsyth’s daughter’s missing dogs. The two little Yorkshire Terriers, Gizmo and Widget, were “dog-napped” from a locked car and later discovered up for sale on a market stall. How anybody can do this to two innocent little dogs is beyond belief. Apparently “dog-napping” is on the rise in Britain, as criminals steal pedigree dogs to use as breeding stock. I used to have a Westie dog myself and would have gone mad if anything like this happened to him. He was like part of the family. I can understand how this family must have been feeling. As a nation of animal lovers, myself and everyone in Britain is glad to hear there is a happy ending to this story and that Bruce’s daughter, Debbie has now been reunited with her little dogs. We can only imagine Bruce’s reaction when he saw them again. I bet he used his famous catchphrase, “Nice to see you, to see you nice!”
The House of Lords have blocked a controversial bill to allow doctors to prescribe drugs that would end the life of terminally ill patients. For as long as I can remember, people have been fighting for euthanasia to become law in this country. Some people are even travelling abroad to places like the controversial Digitas clinic, to end their lives with dignity.
The argument for euthanasia has always been that we don’t let animals suffer so why should a human have to endure suffering. Maybe if some of the people who voted had members of their own families who were suffering or terminally ill, they would feel differently. Sometimes the ability of medicine to prolong life in these situations can be a curse rather than a blessing. Everyone deserves the right to die with dignity.
On the other hand, if the “Assisted Dying” bill was passed, there would have to be measures put in place so that this was not abused. Every one of us has the right to life as well as death and this must never be taken away from us. The danger is that in the wrong hands, (particularly with the National Health Service being desperately short of money) that people will be encouraged to take the easy option and end their lives, rather than taking up a bed and costing the NHS money treating them. The argument against the bill is that it would put pressure on the elderly, infirm and disabled to end their lives. This must never be allowed to happen. Stringent safeguards would have to be introduced to protect the more vulnerable members of our society. Each individual case would have to be considered on its own merits and the absolute signed consent of the patient would have to be obtained, with no doubt whatsoever. Proper rules and regulations would have to be put in place.
HP Sauce, the nation’s favourite brown sauce has been in the news this week. It’s new American owners Heinz are planning to close the Birmingham based factory and transfer production of the sauce to Holland. To do that is almost unthinkable. HP sauce is a national institution in this country, like Marmite and Bisto gravy. The bottles currently feature the Houses of Parliament on the front of them but in the wake of the news, critics are arguing that this logo should be removed from the label and it should be replaced with a Dutch logo instead. Some people believe “HP” stands for the “Houses of Parliament” but in actually fact HP sauce is named after Harry Palmer who originally invented the secret recipe of fruit, vinegar and spices that makes up the sauce in 1899. The sauce is also known as “Wilson’s gravy” as former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson loved it and reportedly used to smother all his food in it!
Former James Bond actor Sean Connery has been voted Britain’s sexiest male pensioner in a recent survey. Prime Suspect actress Helen Mirren was voted Britain’s sexiest female pensioner. Well done to both of them! I hope I look so good when I’m a pensioner!
This week is Warburtons National Bread week in England! What better time to sit down and enjoy a delicious sandwich! I prefer mine toasted but however you enjoy them, sandwiches make for a quick and easy snack at any time of the day. For recipe ideas go to the link below:-
Popular British tv show, “Doctor Who”, swept the board at this years BAFTA Awards, winning a total of three awards for Best Drama Series and the Pioneer Audience Award for Best Programme of 2005, with the creator of the new series, Russell T Davies winning Dennis Potter Award for outstanding writing for television. The BAFTA Awards are the British equivalent of the Emmys. Doctor Who is the world’s longest running science fiction series. It began in the early sixties and is still as popular as it’s always been. The role of the Doctor has been played by many different actors during that time. The ones I remember best are Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. I thought they were both great in the role. Nowadays the Doctor is superby played by David Tennant Well done to him and the rest of the Doctor Who cast for a great show!
Prunes once the butt of so many jokes are growing in popularity in Britain, as more people become aware of their health-giving benefits. Previously only known for their laxative properties, prunes are a high fibre fruit, rich in antioxidants and iron. Healthy and good for you! Try some today!
A secret report by the Ministry of Defence has questioned the existence of alien spacecraft, dismissing U.F.O,’s as pockets of “glowing gas” in the atmosphere, caused by natural phenomena. Well that’s the official line anyway! It would be wonderful to think that there is life on other planets out there in the universe, apart from this one. Certainly Hollywood movies have been adding fuel to this theory for years. I always keep an open mind on these things. Maybe one day (hopefully in my lifetime!) we will have evidence of the existence of aliens from other worlds and prove all the sceptics wrong. Here’s hoping!
I had the pleasure of watching British movie, “Nanny Mcphee” over the weekend. It was a very enjoyable film, good escapism and reminded me of a modern day version of Mary Poppins. British actress Emma Thompson was great in the role of Nanny, supported by Colin Farrell (as the children's father) and Angela Lansbury (as the strict aunt). The special effects are good too. You don’t get many good family films nowadays. But this is one of them. Highly recommended. Go and rent it now.
I have been following the story of brave young cancer mum, Hayley Newbery who touched the nation’s heart after fighting for treatment with the wonder drug Avastin. Previously the drug (which has shown remarkable results in shrinking tumours), was unavailable on the National Health Service. Hayley was given just two months to live, after the large tumours on her liver and bowel were deemed inoperable. This young woman was desperate to give herself the best chance of life possible to be with her children. Unfortunately it was not to be. Despite Avastin shrinking the tumours sufficiently to allow their removal, Hayley died peacefully, after complications from the surgery. Hayley had everything to live for. What a terrible loss of such a young life. Our hearts go out to her family.
To make a donation to Cancer Research UK, please go to the link shown below. It may save someone’s life. Thank you.
A 62 year old woman (who travelled abroad for fertility treatment), is set to become Britain's oldest mum. I think it's wonderful that technology is so advanced that women who are desperate for a family are able to have one, no matter what age they are. There are advantages and disadvantages in this situation. As a child of older parents myself, I know for a fact that older parents have the experience that younger parents don't have and can provide a stable and loving environment for children, no matter what their age. Unfortunately the downside is that they may not live long enough to see their child or children grow up, although younger parents can die too. Mother nature has a good reason for making women infertile after a certain age. Maybe we should listen to her sometimes, before letting scientists play God.
According to the results of a recent study, British householders waste 30 million days a year waiting for goods or workmen to arrive! I think we all know how that goes! It's particularly frustrating when householders have taken a day off work specially to be there, when the offending goods or workmen fail to put in an appearance. Apparently gas and electicity companies are amongst the worst offenders.
As a hayfever sufferer, I was smiling to myself this week. Apparently researchers have discovered that a possible cure could be a 30 minute passionate kiss! I'll have to give it a go! Apparently kissing relaxes the sufferer and dampens down the body's allergic reaction to the pollen! I think I'll stick with the hayfever tablets!
Apparently the experts say that the hole in the ozone layer is finally beginning to close due to a ban on "CFC's" (the harmful chlorine gases found in fridges and aerosols), although we still have a long way to go.
Earlier in the week, The Green Party recommended a ban on petrol powered lawnmowers as they apparently cause more pollution in the air than cars! Apparently one of the alternatives suggested was to let animals graze on the grass!
Where will it all end? In the earth's destruction for future generations if we don't take account of more important aspects of pollution like air travel.
Well done to the government for realising that working parents need schools to open earlier and stay open for longer. Plans are now being put in place for schools to open at 8.00am and remain open until 6.00pm. In a country where we have increasing numbers of “latch key” children, who have to go home and fend for themselves until their parents arrive home from work, this is great news. At last the government has got something right for a change. Let’s just hope that they put their money where their mouth is and allow schools enough funding to hire extra teaching staff to cope with the extended hours of opening.
Welsh “Voice of an Angel” singer Charlotte Church is set to host a new talent show. The show will be based on a similar format to Michael Barrymore’s “My Kind of People” with Charlotte touring shopping centres looking for fresh new talent. Charlotte’s own career as a child star began after being spotted on a talent show, hosted by Jonathon Ross. Now she is eager to give other youngsters a chance to shine. There will also be opportunities for older members of the public to showcase their talents too. Sounds good to me!
I had the great privilege of seeing British veteran actress Joan Collins in her one- woman show in Blackpool on Tuesday night. Joan is a remarkable and beautiful woman who never looks any older. It was very interesting listening to her recounting her life story and how she climbed the stairway to international stardom, from Rank starlet to Dynasty star. Joan is currently touring with her show throughout Britain. If you get a chance, go and see her. You’ll have an interesting night’s entertainment and won’t be disappointed.
It's been a bad week for Tony Blair and the Labour Government. No wonder Tony's wife Cherie was pictured having an audience with the Pope earlier in the week. Maybe she was seeking divine intervention on Tony's behalf! I doubt even that would be enough to save him now.
After Sept 11th and the London Underground bombings, surely the government should have learned something. But apparently not. What a farce releasing dangerous foreign criminals back into a country where they don't even belong in the first place, rather than deporting them back to where they came from. The fact that this was hidden from the British public for 3 weeks just adds insult to injury! Home Secretary, Charles Clarke was sacked yesterday and quite rightly so. He failed abysmally in his duty to protect the safety and security of every citizen in Britain. Let’s hope John Reid does a better job.
As for John Prescot, after the revelations of his affair with his diary secretary (who revealed details of their relationship in graphic detail to a national newspaper), how can anybody in this country have any faith in a man like that after what he's done to his poor wife! The fact that he's no longer in charge of a department but that he's still remaining as Deputy Prime Minister, (with all the perks that go with it), and being paid a large government salary though is beyond belief. It just sends out the wrong signals to the British public that Mr Blair condones this sort of behaviour.
No wonder Labour suffered a huge defeat in the local elections. Everyone in Britain has had enough. After such an embarrasing performance at the polls, the question everyone in Britain is now asking is when Mr Blair will be leaving No. 10. This country desperately needs a new leader and a change of government to get it back on its feet again.
Hope you all had a good Bank Holiday weekend! This week just seemed to go by so fast! I spent a very pleasant day in Llandudno on Monday. Llandudno is Wales’ premier seaside resort, with a unique combination of Victorian charm and Edwardian elegance. There is something for everyone there. With a good selection of shops, entertainment and cultural activities, It’s a lovely place and well worth a visit. There is also a superb promenade flanked by the headlands of The Great Orme and Little Orme. You can ride a cable car to the top of the Great Orme (or if you’re feeling really fit go up on foot!) and get great views all over the bay. Llandudno is one of only three places in the world that still operate the cable hauled street tramways. The other places that use them are San Francisco in the USA and Lisbon in Portugal.
Monday was the final day of Llandudno’s annual three day Victorian Festival It was almost like going back in time, as visitors (like myself) had the pleasure of seeing men and women dressed in Victorian costumes and vintage vehicles and steam engines. There was even a competition for the best, most authentic costume. Adding to the atmosphere was a smartly dressed gentleman on a penny farthing bicycle. There was something for the children too with some fairground rides and stilt walkers. All in all it was a great day out. If you on a visit to England and are planning to include a trip to Wales, don’t forget to visit Llandudno. The people there are very friendly and welcoming. You’ll be glad you did. Famous people who originate from Wales include actress Catherine Zeta Jones, actor Anthony Hopkins, singer Tom Jones and the poet Dylan Thomas.
For more information on Llandudno go to the links shown below.