According to the results of a recent survey by The Discovery Channel, the majority of Britons would rather see Prince William succeed the Queen as the next Monarch, rather than his father Prince Charles. Apparently the fact that Prince William has recently rekindled his romance with his girlfriend Kate Middleton has boosted his popularity even more.
Despite the fact that Prince Charles is one of the most experienced and well trained heirs to the throne we have ever had, the public are still reluctant to accept him as King. Many remain unforgiving over his marriage breakup and are still reluctant to accept Camilla as a possible future Queen, preferring the late Princess Diana, whilst others have warmed to Camilla since her marriage. Three quarters of Britons are in favour of retaining the monarchy, whilst the same percentage question whether it gives value for money. One of the things I particularly like about England is the fact we have a Royal family and a Monarch to rule over us. Despite having just celebrated her 80th birthday, the Queen shows no signs of slowing down and is still one of the hardest working members of the Royal family. Her Majesty will be a hard act to follow for whoever succeeds her to the throne. Long may she reign over us!
Bad news for Britain's beer lovers. The cost of a pint of beer is set to rise to as much as £4 in the coming year. The rising prices of barley and hops are the main reason for the sharp price increases. In addition rising fuel costs and the price of metals used in the production of beer cans and kegs have also led to the increases. Beer kegs have now become so valuable that they are a prime target for thieves. On average over 60 million are stolen every year and melted down for their metal.
Madeleine McCann’s distraught parents released a special Christmas video broadcast showing the missing toddler opening her Christmas presents last year, as part of a new appeal to find her. In a special message to Madeleine, the couple stated that their only Christmas wish was to have her back with them. They have vowed never to give up hope of finding her.
It is now over 240 days since the youngster went missing in Praia da Luz, Portugal. However the McCanns still continue to receive cards, presents and messages of support from around the world. Thousands of toys left by wellwishers for Madeleine at a memorial near her home, have been donated as Christmas presents to East European orphans by her parents. A family friend said that the couple had been touched by all the gifts they had received for Madeleine and wanted to pass them on to other little boys and girls who need them more.
Nearly 350 phone calls from people with information about Madeleine have been received since the special Christmas broadcast. We can only hope and pray that one of the calls leads to the discovery of the missing toddler. Until then the anxious wait for news goes on for her distraught parents.
If you have seen Madeleine or have any information please call 0034 902 300 213.
The Queen is set to gain a whole new audience for her traditional annual Christmas address to the nation, by posting it on the video sharing website You Tube. By doing so, Her Majesty hopes to make the broadcast more widely available to the younger generation and also people in other countries of the world. She is the first Monarch to do this. By taking the decision to post on You Tube, The Queen has shown everyone how she is very much in touch with the changing trends of the nation and is definitely a Monarch of our times. It is now 50 year’s since the Queen’s first Christmas broadcast. Technology has certainly moved on since then.
The Queen’s speech will go out at 3.00pm on Christmas Day and will appear on a special Royal Channel on You Tube. The Royal Channel also features a special regal homepage, showing archive footage of Britain’s royal family. Click on the link shown below to find out more:-
I'm also adding this to the British links in the left hand column of this blog. It has also been revealed that the Queen likes to watch her traditional speech on her own, so that she can monitor her own performance and decide if her speech came across in the right way. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the Queen’s speech and Her Majesty addressing the nation. Long may she reign over us!
A bottle containing a message written and thrown into the Atlantic by a 12 year old girl in New Jersey has washed up in Bude, Cornwall. Sounds like it had a long journey to get here! As a child I was always fascinated with the thought of finding something like this. We used to release balloons with a name card and phone number attached to them. Sadly nobody ever got in touch with me though. I think mine must’ve got lost by the wayside!
If you're looking for hotels in London and you aren't sure of the quality of various hotels there then using the Internet to read hotel reviews may be helpful in choosing between one of the luxury hotels available or instead opting for cheap hotels to save a few bucks.
Hollywood movie star Will Smith braved the cold to meet fans at the U.K. premiere of his new movie, “I am Legend”, in London’s Leicester Square. The actor’s daughter Willow co-starred with her father, appearing in flashback scenes of the film. Will Smith expressed his delight that his kids wanted to follow their parents into acting, saying it was beautiful working with his daughter. The actor’s son Jaden appeared alongside him in the 2006 movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness” and his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith is also an actress.
“I am Legend”, which broke box office records during its first weekend of release in the U.S., is due to open in U.K. cinemas on Boxing Day. In the movie, Will Smith plays the only survivor of a virus that wipes out New York. The trailers look really good. I’m looking forward to seeing the film myself.
Congratulations to Sophie and Edward (the Earl and Countess of Wessex) on the birth of their baby son. James Alexander Philip Theo Mountbatten-Windsor was born by Caesarean section on Monday and weighed in at 6lb 2oz. Sophie and Edward are said to be “absolutely thrilled” at their second child’s safe arrival after his sister Louise's traumatic birth in 2003 almost resulted in the deaths of both mother and child. Prince Edward described his son as, “small, cute and cuddly”. Baby James, who will carry the title Viscount Severn is the Queen’s eighth grandchild and eighth in line to the throne.
As some of you know, I recently became a member of Fuel My Blog. Myself and Diary From England are featured in their new book, “Fuel My Blog – Revealing the Human Behind the Avatar”. To find out more and to preview the first few pages of the book, follow the link shown below:-
The book is a charity initiative with 15% of all the proceeds from every copy sold going to Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), an independent international medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or man-made disasters, or exclusion from health care in more than 70 countries. The idea behind the book is that it shows bloggers are human just like the rest of us, even if we do sometimes hide behind our avatars or blogs.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of visitors to Diary From England recently, which is nice. As some of you know, Diary From England is listed on Blogburst, a syndication service that makes premium blog content available to major publishers like Reuters, USA Today and Fox News. Well it seems that Reuters have taken a fancy to some of my posts, giving Diary From England some more exposure and bringing in some more readers. You can see the posts in questions and let Reuters know what you think of them and this blog by following the links shown below:-
I can’t believe that this blog has been running for nearly 3 years now. I only intended to keep it running for 1 year when I started but enjoyed writing on it so much I kept it running for longer. I’ve met some really lovely people along the way, from all corners of the globe. As some of you know, I have a busy work schedule with some weeks busier than others. Sometimes I’m lucky to find time to write one post in a week. That’s why I’m so grateful to all the faithful friends and readers of Diary From England who visit here regularly, leaving lovely comments and giving me lots of support and encouragement. You know who you are and it is much appreciated. I’d like to say a big thank you to you all. I'm looking forward to another happy year of blogging at Diary From England.
Congratulations to XFactor winner Leon Jackson! His new single, a rewritten version of Mariah Carey’s, “When You Believe” is the bookie’s favourite to be the Christmas No. 1. The 18 year old Scot has certainly come a long way from his days working in a Gap clothing store and is now celebrating landing a £1million recording contract. Good luck to him! You can read all the latest news about Leon and hear his new single by following the link below.
Meanwhile last year’s winner Leona Lewis continues to go from strength to strength. Her new album Spirit has sold a monumental million copies, whilst her hit single Bleeding Love has been No. 1 in the U.K. singles chart for 8 weeks.
Prince Charles is set to appear at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi as a hologram! The Prince is determined to reduce his carbon footprint by not flying and will be following in the footsteps of former Vice President Al Gore, who appeared as a hologram at Wembley Stadium at the beginning of the Live Aid concerts. The Prince has already recorded his special summit message at Highgrove last month.
The technology used to create holograms is based on an old music hall technique called “ghosting”. An image is beamed by video projector onto the floor and then reflected onto a paper thin sheet of foil. This will then create an optical illusion of Prince Charles, making him appear as a 3-D virtual image on stage. Technology is a wonderful thing. Sounds very futuristic to me! Like something out of Star Trek!
Thousands of Brits descended upon Las Vegas to support British boxer Ricky Hatton’s quest for glory in his big fight against Floyd Mayweather. Sadly it was not to be and Hatton was floored by Mayweather in the 10th round, shattering his dreams of success.
However Ricky Hatton although visibly disappointed, vowed to fight on, despite his defeat, telling his army of supporters, “Knock me down but I keep coming back. Ricky Hatton is not finished.” Ricky showed tremendous fighting spirit throughout the contest. Unfortunately the supreme ring intelligence of Mayweather was just too much for him to overcome. I’m sure he’ll bounce back and be even better at what he does. Go Ricky – your legion of fans are rooting for you!
I’ve been following the story of the “teddy teacher” Gillian Gibbons who was imprisoned in Sudan for naming a teddy bear “Mohammed” and unwittingly insulting Islam. According to recent press reports it was actually the children in the class who were asked to name a teddy, who decided to call it “Mohammed”and not Gillian herself. To imprison a western schoolteacher for something as trivial as this when there are so many far more serious and heinous crimes going on in the world is I personally believe a gross injustice. I’m so glad the Sudanese government came to their senses and released this poor woman.
Gillian herself said in a Press Conference after her release how she had enjoyed her time in Sudan and was sorry to leave. She also said that she was upset to think she had caused any offence to the Sudanese people, saying that she never imagined that anything like this would happen as she was just an ordinary school teacher. As Gillian was smuggled safely out of Sudan, some gangs of religious fanatics were calling for her to be executed by firing squad. Gillian made an innocent mistake which she paid for with imprisonment. Now it's time to draw a line under the whole sorry business so this poor woman can move on with her life. Thank goodness the whole sorry state of affairs is now over and Gillian is now safely back with her family in Britain.
I always enjoy watching the Queen’s traditional Christmas Day broadcast to the nation. However it should be extra special this year as it’s due to be broadcast in High Definition on Sky Movies HD2. Oh the wonders of modern technology!
On another note ITV are planning to screen a documentary to mark the 50th anniversary of the Queen’s Xmas broadcast. They have managed to secure lots of archive footage of Her Majesty’s broadcasts over the last 50 years. Should make for interesting viewing!
You can find music lessons online but there are plenty of other subjects out there. For history buffs you can find plenty of history information, or if you happen to be a law school student then there are lots of law resources online.
The queen of country music Dolly Parton added a touch of glitz and glamour to a Yorkshire steel town when she made a flying visit to Rotherham last week. Dolly was over here to meet with council officials for the launch of a special children’s book programme. Dressed in a sparkly dress and killer heels, Dolly treated her 250 strong council audience to a rendition of her “Nine to Five” hit song.
Dolly chose Rotherham as the first town in Britain to benefit from her Dollywood Foundation’s “Imagination Library”, as it has a lower than average literacy rate with high rates of poverty and unemployment. The “Imagination Library” scheme, designed to help improve children’s literacy skills, has proved hugely successful in the States, since its launch there in 1996 and has now spread to more than 40 states. Funded by the Dollywood Foundation, it involves posting out one book a month to pre-school children, to help and encourage them to read. Dolly stated that she believed reading “sows the seeds of dreams” in children to become doctors, writers or whatever they choose to be.
Rotherham Council will be sponsoring the new scheme which is due to be launched in the New Year, after the council leader, a big country and western fan, suggested the idea after a trip to Dolly’s hometown of Tennessee. The first book chosen to be sent to Rotherham’s children will be Beatrix Potter’s “The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Friends”. Dolly is hoping that the scheme will soon spread to other British towns and cities.
Like many Brits, my brother loves tomato ketchup. Over 73 million bottles of Heinz Tomato Ketchup have been sold over the past 12 months alone and this lucrative market is continuing to grow. It seems that Britons can’t get enough ketchup, even though I myself hate it and much prefer brown sauce. Finnish researchers have now discovered that eating tomato ketchup every day actually helps to lower cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Apparently Britain’s favourite sauce works by attacking so-called “bad” cholesterol. Good news for my brother and other ketchup lovers everywhere!
The Queen is looking forward to a very special Christmas present this year, the birth of her eighth grandchild. Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex (the Queen's youngest child) and his wife Sophie (the Countess of Wessex) are expecting their second child which is due on Christmas Day. The couple already have a four year old daughter Louise and are eagerly awaiting the newest addition to their family. Sophie is being closely monitored, after Louise's traumatic birth in 2003 which almost resulted in the deaths of both mother and child. The new baby will be eighth in line to the throne.
British house prices have fallen sharply this month, the fastest rate for 12 years. However that has not deterred Britain's most expensive house from being put on the market with a record price tag of £90million! Wow that's expensive! The six storey house is situated in picturesque Belgrave Square and boasts 12 bedrooms, basement swimming pool and garaging for four cars! The house is currently being refurbished and is set to enter the marketplace in the New Year. Offers invited!
Ministers have called for the Union Jack flag to be revamped to include the Welsh emblem of a dragon. The main reason being that they don't believe that Wales is properly represented on the current flag. However the Union Jack flag has stood as a symbol of the British Empire for over 200 years and is steeped in history. Many ministers are reluctant to change it.
The original Union Jack flag was created by merging three heraldic crosses together, a design challenge in itself. The three crosses represent the three kingdoms of the U.K., England, Ireland and Scotland. Now ministers are calling for the Union Jack to be combined with the Welsh flag to reflect the status of Wales within the U.K.
Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne and his wife, XFactor judge Sharon Osbourne are set to host next year's prestigious Brit Awards ceremony. The ceremony will bring them face to face with some of the biggest stars in the music industry. It will also be going out before the watershed so the couple will have to mind their language. An excited Sharon said, "Ozzy and I have been asked to host many awards shows in the past but this is by far the most prestigious. We are incredibly honoured."
It seems that despite the recent Antarctic cruise ship disaster, cruising is still more popular than ever with us Brits. In scenes reminiscent from the Titanic disaster, a cruise ship with some British and Irish passengers on board, hit an iceberg and sank in Antarctic waters last week. Fortunately all the passengers who were forced to flee the stricken vessel aboard life rafts were safely rescued.
However this has not deterred Britons' love of life on the ocean wave. Record numbers of Brits are now choosing to take holidays on the high seas aboard cruise ships. It is thought that many people have been lured by tempting deals offered by cruise holiday companies. In addition more and more people are becoming disillusioned with airport delays. Consequently the thought of boarding a ship somewhere like Southampton, avoiding long airport check-in queues and cruising off to warmer climates is very appealing.
A little piglet thought to be only 3 weeks old was discovered in the back of a delivery lorry. The bewildered little creature was found by Tesco supermarket workers amidst the lorry’s cargo of toilet rolls. It is thought he was loaded onto the vehicle as a prank. I can’t believe how cruel some people can be. Fortunately the story had a happy ending. The little piglet had cuts and bruises to his snout but was otherwise ok. The supermarket workers who found him, wrapped him in a blanket to keep him warm.and called the RSPCA. The little piglet is now being cared for in an animal shelter until he is fit enough to be re-homed.
A massive security breach has left more than 25 million people at risk of fraud and identity theft after two discs containing sensitive information about child benefit claimants went missing in transit. The loss of the discs containing bank details, national insurance numbers, dates of birth and names and address of every family in the country claiming child benefit has caused the biggest data security breach in Britain’s history. Chancellor Alistair Darling has advised families to be vigilant and check their bank accounts, whilst Gordon Brown has issued a public apology. That’s all very well but this is a serious blunder and has raised serious questions and concerns about how civil service departments treat sensitive information. It is rumoured that a junior member of staff was responsible for the blunder. To add insult to injury, HM Revenue and Customs revealed that a further six discs containing recorded conversations between a member of a staff and a customer making a complaint had also gone missing.
As police began a futile search of a courier’s warehouse, it does make you wonder where this is all going to end. I am a strong supporter of Gordon Brown myself but the public will only tolerate so much. The security of 25 million British men, women and children has been seriously compromised and heads must roll for this. If this blunder had happened in private industry, we would have expected nothing less than the resignation of the M.D. or Chief Executive Officer. It’s time that government ministers had the courage to stand up and be counted and take some responsibility for their actions. There are so many unanswered questions here too, the main one being why a junior member of staff was given responsibility for discs containing such highly sensitive information. Surely a more senior person in the organisation should have been looking after them. It is up to Mr Brown to ensure that safeguards are put in place so that nothing like this can ever happen again in the future. Our P.M. owes it to every man, woman and child in this country to do nothing less. Meanwhile the search for the missing data discs goes on.
It's interesting to note that in the wake of this massive security breach, a survey revealed that many Britons don’t check their bank accounts or statements on a regular basis to spot identity fraud. The main reasons for this are they are afraid of seeing how far in the red they are or just forget to check due to lack of time. In fact only 14 per cent of Britons would notice if a £1,000 went missing from their account, whilst eight out of ten Britons wouldn’t notice. Frightening news and this plays right into the hands of fraudsters. You owe it to yourself and your security to always check bank and building society statements regularly. This is obviously now more important than ever, in light of recent events.
Many people have asked me if we in Britain have an equivalent of The White House website in the U.S. Well here it is!
Click on the link below to go to the 10 Downing Street website. I'm also adding this to the British links in the left hand column of this blog. Not sure how it compares to The White House Site but I personally think the 10 Downing Street one is a great site!
10 Downing Street is the historic office and home of the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. The website is very interesting. Amongst other things, you can read about all the previous Prime Ministers who have lived at No. 10. There are also photo galleries on there, showing the Prime Minister at work. You can even take a virtual tour of No. 10 whilst you are there. Happy surfing everybody!
Prince Charles is planning to host a special dinner party to celebrate the diamond wedding anniversary of his parents, The Queen and Prince Philip. The party will be held at the Prince’s home Clarence House, where close members of the Royal family including Prince Charles, The Duchess of Cornwall and Princes William and Harry, will gather to toast the royal couple’s special 60 year anniversary.
Many people forget that as well as being a head of state and one of the hardest working members of the royal family, the Queen is also a wife, mother and grandmother. It’s hard to believe that 60 years have passed since The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were married at Westminster Abbey on 20th November 1947. Over 2,000 people including many heads of state are expected to attend a special service of thanksgiving for the royal couple which is due to be held there today.
P.S. I’m posting a special picture showing the Queen and Prince Philip on their wedding day in 1947. I thought many readers would like to see this. This picture is courtesy of
Poor old Santa has been getting a lot of bad press this week. He can’t seem to do right for doing wrong. First of all apparently it’s no longer politically correct for Santa to say, “Ho ho ho!” Apparently a U.S. based recruitment agency in Sydney, Australia is telling potential Santas to say “Ha ha ha!” instead, for fear that the traditional “Ho ho ho!” may frighten children. Apparently the word “Ho” has a totally different meaning in the U.S. and is a slang term used to describe ladies of the night. Surely no child would know this anyway. I certainly didn’t and I’m an adult! “Ha ha ha!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it! In my opinion, this is taking political correctness a bit too far!
On another note some Santas in this country are being encouraged to slim down, to set a good example to children. Whoever heard of a slim Santa! Going to Santa’s grotto to have your photo taken, sitting on the knee of a chubby Santa was half the fun of Christmas for children of my generation. The Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent is running a boot camp for overweight Santas to get themselves slim on the run-up to Christmas! Apparently shoppers at the centre will be able to watch as the Santas are put through their paces in a bid to get them in shape! A manager from the centre said the idea was to make sure that Santa was fit so he could deliver all the presents! Oh dear poor old Santa! Looks like he'll have to give the traditional glass of sherry and mince pie a miss then as he does his rounds of all the houses!
One of the most eagerly anticipated exhibitions of the year has just opened in London. Prince Charles and his wife Camilla were the first visitors to see treasures and artefacts belonging to the Egyptian boy King Tutankhamun, when they went on display for the first time in 35 years. The collection is being showcased at the O2 Arena in London’s Docklands and is expected to attract many thousands of visitors. The Royal Diadem (crown) found around the head of Tutankhamun’s mummified body is being displayed along with other items, some over 3,500 years old.
British explorer Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in Luxor in 1922. When the artefacts were first displayed at the British Museum in 1972, they attracted over a million visitors.
Prince William joined his father Prince Charles and grandmother the Queen at the Remembrance Day Ceremony held at the Cenotaph in London's Whitehall on Sunday. Crowds lined the streets to watch the annual Remembrance Day parade in the Autumn sunshine. Similar ceremonies took place all over England to honour those who have given their lives for their country.
The Queen led the tributes as an emotional Prince William laid a wreath for the first time at a Remembrance Day ceremony. The Prince may not have been allowed to fight in a war himself but he understands only too well the reality of armed conflict. The service was particularly poignant for the Prince as two of his army colleagues lost their lives this year. As Big Ben chimed and a single cannon round was fired, the U.K. observed a two minute silence at 11.00am as a mark of respect to the fallen service personnel and civilians.
My grandmother on my mum's side was the eldest of eleven children and I grew up hearing how some of her brothers and cousins fought in the World Wars. I always support the British Legion's Poppy Appeal and wear my poppy with pride at this time of year. I think everyone should. I always think that there should be some sort of special recognition for the service personnel who have given their lives for their country or been badly wounded in action. They deserve it for the sacrifices they have made for us all. Our Prime Minister Gordon Brown is supporting a national newspaper campaign to honour these soldiers with special medals. I personally believe service personnel who have been badly injured or have given their lives for our great nation deserve nothing less.
I've always loved Swedish supergroup Abba. I still have all my vinyl Abba records, all of them in pristine condition, treasured memorabillia from bygone times. It seems a lot of Britons share my taste in music. Abba is the group most Britons would like to see re-united according to the results of a recent poll. I have to agree it was a sad loss to the music world when they split up. Abba have certainly stood the test of time. Even today you can still hear their records being played by young and old alike. Abba are as popular now as they have always been.
Other groups that Britons would like to see getting back together include Spandau Ballet, The Stone Roses and Wham.
It's official Britons love texting! Recent research has revealed that Britons send over a staggering billion texts every week! That's approximately 4,000 messages per second! Wow! How did we ever manage without all this technology!
I personally love to text and find it a quick and easy way to keep in touch with friends and family. I send quite a lot of texts but even I don't manage to send that many!
British Vogue has named Her Majesty the Queen as one of the world's most glamourous women. The Queen appears in the top 50 alongside the likes of Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss.
British Vogue describes glamour as being, "not about what you wear but how you wear something". The Queen is described as being as glamourous in her Balmoral outfit of brogues and headscarf as she is when she is wearing the crown jewels. The Queen is one of the hardest working members of the Royal family. Despite her busy lifestyle, she always maintains a sense of dignity, style and elegance that is sometimes lacking in the younger members of the Royal family. The Queen is a great ambassador for Britain and one of the great style icons of our time. Long may she reign over us.
Congratulations to Tescos for launching a range of Disney branded fruit. The fruit will feature collectable Snow White and Tigger stickers to make it more attractive to primary school children. What better way to encourage youngsters to eat more fruit. There are also plans to put the stickers onto milk, fruit juice and cereals. Anything that encourages children to eat more healthier is always welcome in today's fast food world.
Fame at last! Gordon Brown has been offered a starring role in The Simpsons. Britain's Prime Minister is following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Tony Blair, who appeared in the cartoon show in 2003. Mr Brown was originally thought to be too boring to appear (oh dear!) but it seems the producers have now had a change of heart. The Simpsons already features a Scottish character, janitor and groundskeeper Willie. Maybe our Prime Minister could team up with him.
The show's producers are still waiting to hear if Mr Brown is interested in appearing, if not, he will be featured with an impressionist doing his voice. I've always liked The Simpsons and it would be great to see Gordon Brown as a special guest star.
It seems that a Labour think tank don't do Christmas, or at least they don't want to do it in the future. (Wonder if their last name is Scrooge!) Representatives from the Institute for Public Policy Research believe that the festive season discriminates against minorities and want to send Santa and his helpers packing! They also don't want to see any Xmas lights in our towns and cities or children carol singing on street corners. In fact if this bunch of killjoys had their way, Christmas would be banned altogether! Bah Humbug!
I do agree that Christmas has become too commercialised over the years. I personally don't want to see Christmas decorations and gifts for sale months before the time. However I wouldn't want to see Christmas banned altogether. Christmas is a time for family celebration (even if the outlaws (sorry inlaws!) are a problem sometimes!) and also encourages a sense of community spirit and bringing people together. Christmas is also an important religious festival which many people forget, a chance to rejoice and celebrate Christ's birthday. Don't cancel Christmas just yet!
A recent report has highlighted the poor standards of literacy in Britain's schools. Headteachers are urging more parents to spend time reading to their children. Reading a bedtime story to a child was described by one teacher as an essential part of spending quality time with them.
A spokesman from the Association of Headteachers said that parents had a responsibility to ensure that there were some good books kept in the home to give children reading practice and also recommended the re-introduction of some quiet reading time in schools.
It's a shame that with so many mothers now working and living in such a fast moving world that things like reading stories to children and listening to them practicing to read are no longer high on the list of priorities for parents. Sadly it's seems to have become one of the casualties of our modern world.
Hot on the heels of completing the last Harry Potter novel, JK Rowling has penned a book of fairytales, a spin off from the Harry Potter movies. Unlike the Harry Potter series, these books will not be on general release. JK Rowling has personally handwritten and illustrated only seven copies of "The Tales of Beedle and the Bard". Each book is bound in Morrocan leather and mounted with semi precious stones.
One book, a special edition, mounted with moonstones and silver ornaments will be auctioned at Sothebys to raise money for a children's charity which campaigns for children's rights across Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, where many children are in institutions. The book is expected to raise between £30,000 and £50,000. The remaining six books will be given away to people closely connected with the Harry Potter books. I personally think it's wonderful that JK Rowling is using her talent and good fortune to help children in need. It's people like her that make this world a better place.
"REMEMBER REMEMBER THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER, GUNPOWDER, TREASON AND PLOT"
Tomorrow night we celebrate Bonfire Night, one of my favourite times of the year. I love watching firework displays. I also love Parkin and Treacle Toffee, which are traditionally eaten at this time of year. Parkin and Treacle Toffee are as much a part of Bonfire Night as Guy Fawkes himself.
Here's a recipe for Parkin, the traditional cake eaten at this time of year. The recipe comes courtesy of the BBC Food website.
Ingredients 350g/12oz medium oatmeal 175g/6oz self-raising flour 2 tsp ground ginger 175g/6oz soft brown sugar 175g/6oz butter 250g/9fl oz golden syrup 50g/2oz black treacle 2 free-range eggs 110ml/4oz milk
Method 1. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2 and line a small, deep baking tray with parchment paper. Combine the oatmeal, flour and ginger in a large mixing bowl. 2. Melt the sugar, butter, syrup and treacle in a bowl in the microwave or in a saucepan over a low heat. Pour the melted ingredients into the flour with the eggs and milk and stir well. 3. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tray. 4. Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown, but still soft and sticky on top. Reduce the oven to 130C/250F/Gas 1 and bake for a further 30 minutes until firm to the touch. 5. Allow to cool, before tightly wrapping in cling film. Store for at least three to five days to mature.
The origins of Bonfire or Guy Fawkes Night (as it's also known) go back to 1605 when 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. Happy Bonfire Night everyone!
British Summertime is now officially over and Wintertime has officially begun with dark nights and dark mornings. On a positive note, everyone gets an extra hour in bed but the downside is experts are predicting burglaries will soar by 25%. Unfortunately, burglars love the dark nights and see them as a window of opportunity to break into our homes. That's one of the reasons why I think security lights are always a good idea at this time of year and a good deterrent. It is also a good idea to join your local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme if you have one. These schemes are great and bring members of the community together to support a common cause.
When I was growing up I often wondered why we altered the clocks here in England. One of my readers asked me the same question. Apparently it originally began during the 1st World War, to enable people to get to munitions factories in daylight. Interesting!
The government has announced that from next year all 12 year old girls will receive vaccinations to prevent them developing cervical cancer in later life. The vaccine aims to kill the human papilloma virus, one of the main causes of the disease. Critics argue that the vaccine will encourage under-age sex in young girls. However health professionals and Cancer UK welcomed the new measures as a revolutionary new way of beating cervical cancer. The Health Minister Ann Keen stressed that the jabs were about preventing cancer not to encourage promiscuous behaviour in youngsters. A Department of Health professor said the new initiative would help “generations of women for years to come”. Over 2,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in Britain. The vaccination programme is due to begin next September and will save hundreds of lives a year. Good news for everyone.
Many parents are putting their children’s eyesight at serious risk by not taking them for an eye test. Experts estimate that between one in ten children have an uncorrected eyesight problem by the age of twelve. This can lead to learning problems and permanent long-term damage to a child’s eyesight.
According to a poll by Specsavers opticians, many parents are afraid of the high cost of glasses and also the expense of an eye test. The majority of parents didn’t realise that eye tests and glasses are free to children on the National Health Service. Many parents also worried that their child would be teased at school if they wore glasses. However characters like Harry Potter have made wearing spectacles fashionable amongst children. All the more reason to take your child for an eye test.
Veteran British actor Christopher Lee was in the news this week, after the cape he wore in his role as Count Dracula was discovered in a London fancy dress shop. The shop owner confirmed that the cape wouldn’t be hired out again after the actor confirmed it was the genuine item. The cape is thought to be worth in the region of £25,000. Meanwhile the coat worn by Christopher’s co-star Peter Cushing in his role of Van Helsing has also been discovered and is currently being valued.
The search is on to find the place in Britain that people are most proud of. As part of the government’s “Connect to your Council" Campaign, everyone is being encouraged to log onto their council website and cast their vote in an online poll. There are 10 beauty spots to choose from on each of the 104 council websites, which cover every area of the country. Apparently Silverstone (home of motor racing), Peterborough Cathedral, The Lake District and Wigan Pier are amongst the entries for the “Pride of Place” poll. My vote would definitely go to The Lake District, a beautiful part of England.
It was a sad defeat for the England rugby team in Paris. The team were gracious and stood proud in the face of defeat. But never mind, at least they had Princes William and Harry to console them and offer words of sympathy and support. Prince William reassured our players by saying, “What a game. We gave it everything. We should be proud.” Prince William and Harry also helped the team to drown their sorrows, enjoying a mammoth drinking session with them, which left both Princes so drunk, they could hardly stand.
The two princes have come under fierce criticism for their drunken behaviour after the World Cup Final. Prince William was photographed smoking and having a bottle of vodka poured down his throat. One of their party announced that both brothers were, “completely bladdered”, as if this was something to be proud of. The two Princes were in Paris as guests of the Rugby Union and ambassadors for the Royal family and for Britain. As such we expect them to behave in a certain way and set an example to the rest of us. The eyes of the world were on them, yet they didn’t seem to care that they were letting Britain and themselves down with their drunken behaviour, which has raised serious concerns about their future roles in public life. Both boys have had a privileged upbringing being born into the Royal family. They had a difficult childhood losing their mother so young, but that is still no excuse for their behaviour. At the end of the day, the British public is unforgiving and expects Royalty and especially the heir to the throne to behave in a certain way. If their mother Diana had been alive, she would have been the first to remind both William and Harry that with privilege comes responsibility, a responsibility to behave with a certain level of decorum at all times.
It looks like the traditional Brussels sprouts will be off the menu for a lot of British families this Christmas. Unfortunately the terrible floods over the Summer months have left many acres of crops rotting in the fields creating a shortage and pushing up prices to shoppers. Sprout production is currently down by 15 to 20% leading to possible shortages as Christmas approaches. Reduced supply has meant shoppers paying increasingly higher prices for both cabbages and sprouts. I love sprouts and don’t think Christmas is the same without them! Bah Humbug!
I've been tagged by my cyberfriend Jackie from Herbs 'n' Oils and The Vegan Diet for the following Meme, "Curious To Learn More About Me?" Well here's my response:-
N – NAOMI is a Bible name of Jewish Hebrew origin. I was the only Naomi at school and it was a very unusual name back in the sixties when I was born. The most famous Naomi’s in those days were the yachtswoman Naomi James and writer Naomi Jacobs. Naomi Campbell has made the name more popular in recent years.
A – AUTUMN is one of my favourite times of the year. As some of my readers know I grew up in the country and I’ve always loved trees. I love it when the leaves change colour.
O – OATS. I always try to eat a healthy diet and love to start the day with a bowl of porridge. Oats are really good for heart and circulation and good for lowering cholesterol too.
M – MICE. I know some women are scared of mice. But they don’t bother me at all. When I was growing up, one of my schoolfriends had a couple of pet mice. We used to hold them and let them run on our hands. They were cute.
I – IRELAND. I’m part Irish and have Irish ancestry. My great granddad on my Mum’s side was Irish. Ireland is definitely on my list of places to visit in the future.
Here are the “official” rules for this Meme: # Players must list one fact, word, or titbit that is somehow relevant to their life for each letter of your first or middle name. # When you are tagged you need to write your own post containing your first or middle name using facts, word, or titbit. # At the end of your post choose one person for each letter of your name to tag. # Don’t forget to leave a comment telling them ,they’re tagged, and to read your blog. # If I’ve tagged YOU, please join in on the fun!
A well known high street pizza chain has come under fire this week for the high salt content in its meals. Pizza Hut has been named the worst fast food chain for high salt levels by the Consensus Action on Salt and Health. According to researchers, children enjoying meals there as a half-term treat are in danger of going four times over their recommended daily salt allowance.
More alarming, researchers also found that some meals from other fast food chains are also concealing shockingly high levels of salt. These findings are worrying to say the least. Eating too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which in turn causes heart attacks and strokes. The recommended maximum daily salt intake is 6g per day for adults, 5g per day for children aged 7 to 10, 3g per day for 4 to 6 year olds and 2g per day for 1 to 3 year olds. Maybe it’s time to consider making homemade treat foods like pizza. It’s certainly a healthier option as you can “hide” some vegetables in there, which children wouldn’t normally eat and pizza bases are readily available in supermarkets.
The Bank of England has accidentally circulated up to forty £10 notes which are blank on one side due to a misprint. Apparently the notes still count as legal tender and are selling on Ebay for £260 each!
Brighton is leading the fight to save the planet by becoming the first city in Britain to ban the use of plastic bags in its shops and supermarkets. The city council is encouraging retailers to issue customers with re-usable bags instead and also to cut down on packaging materials. An estimated 17.5 billion plastic bags are given away by supermarkets in Britain every year. Many of these end up in landfill sites whilst millions of others are dumped on our streets, in parks and on our beaches.
Plastic bags can be lethal to wildlife and take up to 1,000 years to break down and rot away. To reach EU targets, Britain must make drastic cuts to the amount of waste it sends to landfill sites by 2020. It looks like Brighton has made a postivie step in the right direction. Let's hope that other cities in Britain follow their example. Using a re-usable bag to do the weekly shop is one of the small ways we can all help to save the planet.
Growing levels of obesity in the U.K. are thought to be responsible for the sharp rise in the number of people being diagnosed with Diabetes. Diabetes U.K. is warning of an epidemic as new figures show the number of people being diagnosed with Diabetes has risen by about 70,000 in the past year alone. Around 80% of the people diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes are overweight. The figures also show that over 750,000 people are suffering from Diabetes and don’t realise it. Frightening!
I have Diabetes on both sides of my family. My dad suffered from it and also my maternal grandmother, so I know I could be at risk of developing it in the future. Also suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome puts me in a high risk group too. As a result I’m more conscious of my own diet and health. To see if you are at risk of developing Diabetes, you can take the two minute, “Measure Up” test by going to:-
With Halloween fast approaching, it looks like pumpkins will be in short supply and there will be a shortage of Jack-o-lanterns this year. Unfortunately Britain’s wet Summer weather has had a devastating effect on pumpkin crops. The traditional plump orange pumpkins have been replaced by scrawny green tinged squashes, which haven’t ripened because of the bad weather.
As a result, prices of pumpkins are set to rise and many shops could sell out quickly. Most pumpkins sold in the U.K. are used for lantern carving. However pumpkin is delicious in recipes too. I tried pumpkin pie many years ago on a visit to the States. It was delicious. I have also had pumpkin soup which is nice too. Probably the best advice to anyone wanting to buy a Halloween pumpkin is to buy one early and if it’s green, put it in the window to ripen in time for the big night! Happy Halloween everybody!
Did you get a chance to look at the England Goes Gonzo Carnival posted at Diary From England? There are some great posts on there. It's well worth a visit. To find out more, click on the link shown below:-
One of my friends sent me an e-mail about a Dorito loving seagull. It was so funny I wanted to share it with you!
A seagull in Scotland has developed the habit of stealing crisps from a neighborhood shop. The little bird has turned to a life of crime to feed his craving for cheese Doritos!
The seagull (nicknamed Sam by the locals) waits until the shopkeeper isn't looking, and then walks into the store and grabs a snack-size bag of cheese Doritos. (He's obviously got good taste!)
Once outside, the bag gets ripped open and shared by other birds.
The seagull's shoplifting started early this month when he first swooped into the store in Aberdeen , Scotland , and helped himself to a bag of crisps. Since then, he's become a regular. He always takes the same type of crisps .
Customers have begun paying for the seagull's stolen bags of chips because they think it's so funny. It's true what they say - animals do the funniest things!
Several British newspapers have refused to publish photos showing Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton, after the Prince complained of the agreesive and threatening behaviour of paparazzi who pursued the couple's car as they left a London nightclub. The Press Complaints Committee has urged newspaper editors not to publish pictures of the Prince which were taken as a result of harrassment.
It's almost like history repeating itself with Prince William and his girlfriend being pursued by paparazzi in the same week in which the inquest into his mother's death began. Princess Diana died in the Paris car crash whilst fleeing paparazzi on motorbikes who were in hot pursuit. You would think that lessons would have been learnt from this but apparently not. Members of the Royal family deserve their privacy just like the rest of us and should be allowed to live their lives without the constant intrusion of long lenses. I have great respect for the newspaper editors that shunned the paparazzi photos. At the end of the day it comes down to money and the photos taken are put up for sale to the highest bidder. Maybe if more newspapers had shunned the photos of Diana, she would still be alive today.
As some of you know I studied Employment Law as part of my college course, when I was a student. My company are currently recruiting for some new staff. A colleague and I were talking the other day about how Employment Law has changed in this country over the years. For example job applicants now no longer have to either reveal their age or put their date of birth on a C.V. (resume). I think that’s a good thing. Many employers were becoming far too ageist and discriminating against older people. Also certain “personal” questions relating to marriage, family, religion, smoking, etc, are now off-limits and can no longer be asked at interview. Times have certainly changed and definitely for the better.
I always remember one interview I went to many years ago as a first-time job seeker. The interviewer asked me if I was Jewish and told me that his company didn’t usually employ Jewish people as they wanted too much time off for festivals and holidays! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! (The name Naomi is Hebrew Jewish and also a bible name). I couldn’t believe that people had that sort of attitude in this day and age! On another occasion, a few years ago I went to an interview and the person interviewing me looked a bit surprised when I walked in. She said to me that she hadn’t expected me to be white. The interviewer said, “Oh I thought you would be black as Naomi Campbell is black!” I remember thinking what a stupid statement that was. I couldn’t believe that companies would entrust interviews to people like that! It doesn’t give prospective candidates a very good impression of the company when you hear comments like that. Times have certainly changed a lot since then.
I'd like to say a big thank you to Janey Loree and her mum Phyllis over at PJ's Paper Doll Cut Outs for the lovely badge that they have created for me as their official PJ's International Correspondent. I'm now proudly displaying this on my blog. It's in the left hand column underneath the Flickr album and just above the Blogburst logo. Janey and her mum created this badge for me as a thank you for the help I gave them when they were researching their English paper dolls Queenie and Peppy.
It was my pleasure to help. PJ’s specialise in creating books of handmade paper dolls. They also sell a lot of other interesting and educational items for both children and adults alike if you'd like to go over and pay them a visit. I like toys that are educational for children as well as fun to play with, so I'm always happy to help and support PJ's in any way I can.
STOP PRESS On the drawing board are paper dolls from COSTA RICA, BRAZIL, POLAND, EGYPT, IRELAND, SCOTLAND & ITALY! If you are a blogger and you are from any of those countries, PJ's would love to hear from you. In return for any help and information you can give them regarding creating the new range of dolls, you too will be rewarded with a lovely badge to proudly display on your blog.