Friday, August 31, 2007


Playing too many computer games and watching too much tv until the small hours is resulting in Britains’ teenagers not getting enough sleep. Experts recommend they should be getting at least 8 or 9 hours sleep a night. However according to the results of a survey by The Sleep Council, which were published this week, many youngsters are surviving on 4 hours sleep a night or less. Lack of quality sleep is now a major problem for many teenagers as they stay up late into the night surfing, watching tv and playing computer games. Lack of sleep leaves the youngsters exhausted and unable to function properly in the classroom. In addition, leading experts have also linked lack of sleep to youngsters becoming obese as they crave more sweet and sugary foods to keep them alert. It’s a very worrying trend and one that unfortunately seems to becoming commonplace in today’s Britain.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


The Queen has been named as one of the most powerful women in the world in a list compiled by Forbes Magazine. Her Majesty who was at number 23 on the list is one of only three British women to be featured. The other two women named were Clara Furse, Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange and Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi born architect.

Monday, August 27, 2007


British chef Jamie Oliver is encouraging people to grow their own vegetables, particularly if they have young families. Jamie believes that if children can see where vegetables come from, they are more likely to want to eat them. Jamie argues that vegetables can be grown in window boxes or buckets, no matter whatever size of garden you have.

There are also plans for Jamie to star in his own comedy cartoon show aimed at children. The cartoon series has been created by the makers of Wallace and Gromit and will follow the comic exploits of a 10 year old Jamie as he follows his quest to become a great chef. The show is aimed at seven to eleven year olds and it is hoped it will inspire them to think positively about good food.


It’s funny how people use the expression, “Pink for a girl and blue for a boy”. However according to researchers at Newcastle University, it seems there may be a good reason for our colour choices. Two hundred men and women in their twenties were asked to choose their favourite from a group of colours on a computer screen. Apparently the majority of men chose blue and women chose pink. I was quite interested to hear this as pink is actually my favourite colour.

The researchers believe that the reason why a lot of men and women choose these colours goes back to caveman days, when the men were the hunters. Apparently the men would look up at the sky before they went off hunting and if they saw a blue sky, it made them happy as it signalled good weather. Whilst the men were out hunting, the women would gather ripe reddish pink fruits. So it seems as we have evolved over the years there has always been a connection between pink and blue. So now we know.


Harry Potter author JK Rowling has been spotted in an Edinburgh cafe writing drafts of crime novels. It was in one of the same cafes where she used to pen the boy wizard's adventures. After publishing, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", the final book in the Harry Potter saga, JK Rowling stated that she wanted to create something completely different and that the idea of wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and seeing where it took her would be bliss. After the phenomenal success of the Harry Potter books, it will be interesting to see what JK Rowling has in store for us next.

Meanwhile crime novelist Agatha Christie's hometown of Torquay is getting ready to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the publication of her famous book Death on the Nile next month. Agatha Christie was born in Torquay in 1890 and spent most of her life there. The town is planning to host a ball and special shows as part of the celebrations.


As Britain celebrates the last Bank holiday weekend of the year, union leaders are calling for an extra three Bank holidays to be brought in. Britain together with the Netherlands currently has eight Bank holidays a year, the least Bank holidays of any country in Europe. The European average is 10.8 days. Additionally many employees are forced to rely on the generosity of their employers to be able to take public holidays as time off. There is currently no statutory right for Bank holidays to be taken as time off or for employees to be paid for them.

In addition, it was discovered that many employers are flouting the law and not allowing their staff to take the statutory four weeks’ paid leave per year. Britons already work much longer hours than their European neighbours, putting their health at risk. It seems that too many employers are putting profits before the wellbeing of their staff. No wonder Britain has a much lower productivity rate than its European neighbours.


It seems Britain’s heavy rains and washed out Summer have a lot to answer for. According to recent figures, the bad weather has resulted in a boom in online shopping with July’s sale figures alone topping £4billion. As more and more people chose to stay at home and indoors, Britons went shopping online rather than going out and hitting the high street. Popular items bought over the net included electrical goods such as mp3 players, digital cameras and laptops. Sales of clothing, shoes and related accessories were also popular. Unfortunately this has resulted in a lot of lost business for retailers and shopkeepers. I was out shopping the other day and noticed many items, particularly clothing, drastically reduced in price in a lot of the places I went into. Now I know why. It must be very difficult for retail businesses to keep going nowadays as the internet is a tempting alternative for many customers.

In addition massive numbers of Britons are leaving the U.K. to start a new life abroad, with Australia being the favourite destination. Apparently the main reasons for them leaving are Britain’s bad weather, rising crime, the economy and immigration, as Britain struggles to cope with the record numbers of foreign immigrants that arrive here every day.


It’s hard to believe but Diary From England has been on line for nearly two years now. I first started blogging in January 2006. I still remember my very first post:-

Happy New Year From England

My last big milestone was my 500th post – how time flies when you’re having fun!

Happy Easter

As some of you know, I enjoy writing and am currently working on my first book. I find writing very therapeutic and relaxing, especially after a stressful day at work. I originally started the blog as a good way to practise my writing skills. I also thought it would be good for people to hear about news and life in England firsthand from somebody who lives there.

The best thing about blogging at Diary from England is the number of great cyberfriends I have made, both from England, the U.S. and all over the world. I love it when people leave nice comments or e-mail me to say how much they enjoy Diary from England. It makes it all worthwhile. I have met some really nice people since I started blogging. I always like to try to support everyone by visiting friends’ blogs as often as I can, although I don’t always manage this due to lack of time! One of the best things I ever did was becoming a member of Blog Village. I saw the Blog Village banner on a couple of blogs when I was surfing around and went across to find out more. I love the community atmosphere at Blog Village and have made a lot of friends over there.

Another thing I love about blogging is the carnivals. I’ve definitely been hit by the carnival bug and am looking forward to hosting my own England Goes Gonzo Carnival here on Monday 1st October. You can find further details of this carnival by following the link below:-

Sunday, August 19, 2007


It was announced this week that comic strip versions of Shakespeare plays are to be published for use in schools as Britain’s secondary school children find the original versions boring and difficult to understand. It is thought that youngsters will find the comic strip versions (written using simple English words and expressions) easier to understand and it will inspire them to take an interest in the Bard’s works. Surely part of the fun of learning Shakespeare is reading the plays in Shakespearean English and learning what all the terms mean. I enjoyed studying Shakepeare's plays at school. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare containing all his plays still takes pride of place on my bookshelf. Much of the beauty of the Bard’s work lies in the language more than the actual plot. Many of Shakespeare’s plays contain finely crafted passages. These will now be reduced to quick, snappy phrases. Reading comic strip versions of the plays which are illustrated by artists who worked on Spiderman cartoons, just won’t be the same.

The first play to get the “comic strip” treatment is Henry V. Shakepeare’s unforgettable line from the play which rallies the troops, “Once more into the breach dear friends”, will be replaced with, “Take a deep breath and fight. Get a fierce look in your eyes!” Eventually all Shakespeare’s plays will be available in the comic strip versions. There are also plans to produce comic strip versions of some classic novels like Great Expectations and Jane Eyre as well. It’s enough to send Shakespeare spinning in his grave!


Many experts have cited global warming as one of the main causes of some of the heavy rain and flooding we have experienced this year in England. However according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), it is also responsible for a decline in the number of certain birds visiting Britain in the Wintertime. Apparently the warmer Winters now mean that many birds no longer need to migrate to the U.K. from places like Greenland and Siberia.

I have a bird table on my back garden containing water, bags of nuts and other little treats for any feathered visitors. In years gone by, the table used to attract loads of birds of all shapes and sizes and I enjoyed watching them through the window. I wondered where all the birds had gone as hardly any have been there at all this year. Now I know. Global warming it seems is having an effect on Britain’s bird population too.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Alnwick Castle in Northumberland has topped a list of Britain’s top 10 “must-see” attractions in a recent survey by Virgin Travel Insurance. The castle is better known as Hogwarts after featuring in the first two Harry Potter films and is a “must-see” attraction for many Harry Potter fans and tourists alike. Alnwick Castle, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, is the second largest inhabited castle in England after Windsor Castle. The castle is set in a stunning and picturesque landscape and is steeped in history, having acted as a major defence against invading armies in the middle ages. If you are planning a visit to England, Alnwick Castle is well worth a visit and makes an interesting day out. There is so much to see and do there. For more information, follow the link below:-

Alnwick Castle

Also appearing in the top five list of “must-see” sights is the new reconstructed Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, a popular tourist attraction which came in at no. 4. The "Backs” of the riverside colleges in Cambridge which provide stunning views throughout the year were no. 5 with The Royal Crescent row of Georgian houses in Bath coming in at No. 3. The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, one of Northern Ireland’s most breathtaking attractions came in at No. 2.

The survey also asked people to name the most disappointing tourist attractions. I was quite surprised to see that Stonehenge in Wiltshire came in at No. 1. I visited Stonehenge myself a few years ago and remember thinking what a fascinating site it was. There is nothing quite like Stonehenge anywhere else in the world. However it seems that the majority of Britons are not impressed at all by the mystical 5,000 year old standing stones. I did a recent post on how time travel could soon become reality and asked readers if they could travel back in time to any century, where they would choose to go and what characters from history they would wish to meet. One reader, Granimore from And So Begins My New Life said he would like to go back in time to see how both Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids were constructed. I would too, despite what the majority of Britons think, Stonehenge is a fascinating structure and I believe well worth a visit. Other sites on the “hit” list which Britons found disappointing, included the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, Blackpool Tower and Land’s End in Cornwall. Unfortunately there's no accounting for some people's tastes!

Monday, August 13, 2007


After the success of the Diana Memorial Concert, Princes William and Harry are now turning their attention to organising a party to celebrate the 60th Wedding Anniversary of their grandparents, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. In comparison to the Diana concert, the anniversary party will be a private, low-key affair, with Highgrove and The Ritz being considered as possible venues. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are planning a state visit to Uganda, preceded by a private visit to Malta to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary.


I was very sad to hear of the death of fellow Mancunian Anthony Wilson. (He came from Manchester as I myself do). Affectionately known as “Mr Manchester”, Tony Wilson helped to put Manchester on the map for it’s vibrant nightlife and music. Tony Wilson was a well known and popular Granada tv presenter and long-time host of teatime news show Granada Reports. Tony founded Factory Records, the label behind many famous Manchester bands including The Happy Mondays and New Order, giving help, encouragement and inspiration to a lot of bands who wouldn’t have otherwise made it. He later set up The Hacienda nightclub which became famous for playing host to such bands as Oasis and The Stone Roses and also superstar Madonna.

Tony Wilson’s life was documented in the movie, “24 Hour Party People”, in which Steve Coogan portrayed him. Tony passed away on Friday evening at the comparatively young age of 57, after battling kidney cancer. A great ambassador for Manchester, he will be sadly missed.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Time is a precious commodity in our busy world. None of us seem to have enough of it. I’ve always been fascinated by time travel and the very idea of being able to travel backwards and forwards in time. The subject has prompted many films and tv series including HG Wells The Time Machine, Back to the Future, Doctor Who and The Time Tunnel. This week an eminent professor revealed plans for how a real-life time machine allowing us to travel back in time would work. Based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the professor states that if time is bent enough by the gravitational pull of objects, you can create a loop and the possibility of time travel. Science fiction could it seems one day become reality. Fascinating!

I would love to travel back to the 1950’s and meet my Irish great-granddad who I never knew. He died before I was born. Re. characters in history – I’d love to meet Winston Churchill – one of the greatest leaders of our time and also Marie Curie who discovered radium. Both would make interesting dinner companions. We would certainly not be short of things to talk about! Now over to you! I would be interested to hear from other readers on this. If you could travel back in time to any century – where would you choose to go? What characters from history would you wish to meet? Go on let your imagination run wild!


Wuthering Heights is one of my favourite books. I studied Emily Bronte's classic novel as part of my English Literature 'O' level curriculum. A lot of people obviously agree with me. Emily Bronte’s classic story of thwarted love between Cathy and Heathcliff set on the Yorkshire moors has been named Britain’s favourite love story of all time in a recent poll, beating Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice into second place. William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet came in at No. 3. It's interesting to see that these classics which have been around for so many years are still as popular as ever with 21st century readers.


Our hearts go out to the families of the people injured or killed in the Minnesota bridge collapse. According to recent news reports, it seems that four people are confirmed dead and a further eight are missing. It was a terrible tragedy.

Following the Minnesota bridge collapse, the Highways Agency have begun a review of bridges on England’s A roads and motorways. Their engineers will check the bridges to see if any of them have features similar to the ones which may have caused the tragedy in the U.S. Between them, England’s A roads and motorways contain approximately 17,000 bridges.


I would like to say a big thank you to Rick at Palm Springs Savant for awarding me the Creative Blogger Award. Many thanks Rick. I appreciate that. In turn I would like to pass this award onto some of my fellow bloggers. There are so many good blogs out there, this was a difficult choice.

For their wonderful talent in creating new and unusual paper dolls and designs, I’d like to pass this award onto Janey Loree and her mum Phyllis, two very talented ladies at PJ's Paper Doll Cut Outs

For her wonderful, inspirational posts and beautiful photos, Marion at Herbal Connection

For the great recipes and wonderful, interesting posts, Jackie at The Vegan Diet and Herbs 'n' Oils

For his wonderful and sometimes very funny articles, some of which wouldn’t be out of place in fishing or boating magazines, Sank at Old and In the Way

For his well written and interesting posts on everyday life and what it means to be a Christian in today’s busy society, Alastair a Vicar and fellow Brit at New Kid on the Blog

For the wonderful photos he posts and the great carnivals he organises (I’ll be doing a Gonzo carnival with him myself), Kilroy at Fear and Loathing - The Gonzo Papers

For their great writing skills:-

The Gatekeeper at Pieces of Me

Sharon Lynn at California Breeze

Sheila at Alabama Kitchen Sink

Well done to you all!

Saturday, August 11, 2007


The chimes of Big Ben were silenced at 8.00am this morning in preparation for 6 weeks of essential maintenance work. Westminster’s famous landmark clock will remain silenced for the first time in 51 years, whilst the final phase of work to clean the four clock faces and replace parts takes place in preparation for the clock’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2009.

London tourists and spectators were surprised to see engineers and workers abseiling down the south clock face to repair and clean it. An electrical system will ensure the clock continues to work and show the time whilst work is done on the mechanism, even though the chimes have been silenced. Big Ben is one of London’s most famous landmarks. However the name, “Big Ben” actually refers to the 13.5 tonne bell inside rather than the clock itself.


Many Britons are reluctant to get rid of their old mobile phones when they upgrade to a new one. Instead they prefer to hoard their old phones at home, according to the results of a recent T Mobile survey. They estimate that there are currently over 52 million redundant mobiles in Britain, gathering dust in people’s cupboards and drawers. T Mobile have launched a new scheme to encourage Britons to recycle their old phones. Recycling bags will automatically be given to everyone purchasing a new phone and can also be collected from any T Mobile store. The proceeds from the old phones will be given to each customer or a charity of their choice. I remember when I upgraded my mobile phone. As some of my readers know, I’ve always loved trees. I got a recycling bag from The Woodland Trust and sent my phone to them to go towards planting more trees. Another great idea to recycle your phone! For more information go to the link shown below:-

The Woodland Trust

Still on the subject of mobile phones, an American man has had his thumbs “whittled” in a new surgical procedure, to make it easier for him to hit the right buttons on his iPhone. What next!

Sunday, August 05, 2007


It’s amazing how toys have changed over the years and not always for the better. There have been complaints that some toys are too violent and encourage aggressive behaviour in children. A range of faith based toys is due to go on sale in the States at the middle of this month. Wallmart, one of the largest toy retailers in the U.S. will be stocking religious action figures, including Jesus, Moses, Samson and Goliath and many others. The dolls will have stiff competition from other action figures including Spiderman, which are already on the market. Also critics have said that some of the dolls particularly the Moses doll are not a good likeness to the actual biblical characters. One critic described the Moses doll as looking like a member of the Village People!

How today’s children react to the religious dolls remains to be seen. Apparently some of the dolls recite scripture when a little button on them is pressed. Clever stuff! I think to truly appreciate the dolls and what they represent, children would need to have some knowledge of the bible stories that they relate to. Unfortunately not many children either go to church or are taught about bible stories nowadays. I’m sure they would make good religious teaching aids for Sunday schools and church groups. If the dolls prove popular, they could eventually be sold here in Britain.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


According to the results of a recent BBC survey, many Britons are choosing not to visit certain holiday destinations because they are too embarrassed at not being able to speak the language. Instead they prefer to visit places where English is widely spoken and they are able to understand what the locals are saying.

French is widely taught as a second language in U.K. schools, closely followed by German and Spanish. However despite this it seems the average Briton can only remember about seven words or less of the language they learnt at school. Some could not even remember basic words like “Hello”. I must admit that I can remember very little of my French or German from schooldays, which is a bit sad, particularly as I used to be really good at German. It was one of my best subjects at school. But it’s like anything else unless you speak it and use the language everyday, it’s easily forgotten. However lack of language skills has never held me back, I usually play a language CD and take a phrase book when I go on holidays to help me along a little bit. I did this when I went to Italy. I personally think it’s sometimes fun to try and make yourself understood in another language, although some languages are harder to learn than others. C’est la vie!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Britain’s weather has finally taken a turn for the better. It looks like summer has finally arrived as we have now had 3 days in a row with bright sunshine and no rain. Many British holidaymakers are now heading to beaches all over the country to soak up some sunshine. However holidaymakers in Cornwall are wary of venturing into the water after a shark was photographed swimming near the coast of St Ives, a popular Cornish seaside resort. The creature was described as “huge”.

Experts who have studied the photo, (taken by a tourist) confirmed that the shark was large enough to be a Great White. An Australian expert stated that there was no doubt in his mind it was a Great White and that her mate would be close by. However Cornish coastguards have dismissed the claims as “scaremongering” and “utter rubbish”. Meanwhile Cornish fishermen claim to have caught a large fish, which experts claim is a porbeagle, a fish related to the Great White but not as dangerous. A very fishy tale by all accounts!