Thursday, February 28, 2008


I’ve always been a light sleeper. The slightest noise usually wakes me. However I was surprised to be woken in the early hours of Wednesday morning by the vibration of my bed shaking. I live on a busy main road and quite often get trucks and heavy vehicles going past the house which cause it to shake a little bit. However when I looked at the clock, it was almost 1.00am in the morning! I wouldn’t think there would be many heavy vehicles going past at that time! I just thought I was dreaming and managed to get back to sleep. However this was no dream. I switched on the tv to catch up on the news as I always do before going to work and discovered that Britain had been hit by the largest earthquake since 1987!

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The quake measured 5.2 on the Richter scale and was widely felt, shaking homes across England and Wales! The epicentre of the quake was in Lincolnshire. However tremors could be felt hundreds of miles away in homes all over the country and even as far away as Ulster and Holland! Experts believe the earthquake could have been caused by an old fault line rupturing in the East Midlands. The quake has caused damage to many homes and businesses and experts say that insurance claims could run into millions of pounds. A man was injured in South Yorkshire when a chimney fell through his bedroom ceiling. I was surprised to hear that although earthquakes are a relatively rare occurrence in Britain, the British Geographical Survey records around 200 in this country every year. However only a very small percentage can be felt by residents. The British Geographical Survey described this one as “significant” for the U.K. It was certainly that!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Whatever has happened to Mohammed Al Fayed? I met Mr Al Fayed in Harrods a few years ago and I found him a very nice man, polite and charming not at all like the press like to paint him. However hearing his rants at Diana’s inquest this week, you have to feel sorry for him. Looking a shadow of his former self, I seriously believe Mr Al Fayed needs professional help and counselling. Consumed by grief, his mental state is very fragile and he is unable to accept the fact that his son Dodi has gone and let him and Diana rest in peace. Holding the inquest is only prolonging the agony for those left behind, including Mr Al Fayed and dragging up the past. It is also a costly and expensive waste of taxpayers’ money, with the cost running into millions of pounds. Many people say that if Mr Al Fayed was so keen to hold the inquest that he should be prepared to pay for it himself out of his own pocket and I have to agree.

The deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi were the result of a tragic accident, but still Mr Al Fayed insists that they were murdered as part of some bizarre establishment plot. He is incensed, like a dog with a bone and unable to let go. All those who have lost loved ones sympathise with Mr Al Fayed and understand the way he feels but there comes a time when you have to put the past to rest, let loved ones rest in peace and move on. If Mr Al Fayed continues to live in the past, it will eventually destroy him. What about Princes William and Harry? It’s not very nice for them, having intimate details of their mother’s death dragged up again after all these years. It must be very upsetting for them. Describing Diana’s 20 years of hell with a Dracula family and calling Prince Phillip a Nazi who should go back to Germany won’t help anyone. It is just further proof of Mr Al Fayed’s increasingly delicate mental state and further press fodder for his critics to gloat on. It is also very insensitive to the feelings of the loved ones Diana left behind. Unfortunately Mr Al Fayed’s outbursts were more fitting to a pantomime than an inquest and he has now succeeded in losing whatever respect and sympathy the people of Britain had for him. Diana’s inquest has been turned into a media circus. What a sad state of affairs.

PHOTO:- Courtesy of Yahoo News


According to recent Bank of England figures, Britain is the credit capital of Europe. Brits have twice as many credit cards as their European neighbours, with the average Brit carrying 1.4 credit cards. At the end of last year people in this country owed a staggering £54billion in credit card debt. Scary! The study's conclusion was that people in this country enjoy the flexibility of being able to pay over a long period of time for goods and services. Not surprising really with the rising cost of living here. Also I personally think that credit card providers make it so easy to get credit nowadays. I'm constantly being bombarded with junk mail, offering loans and 0% interest credit cards from companies eager to lend me money. It just goes to show how easy it is to get into debt. The best rule to follow is if you can't afford it, don't buy it until you can, no matter how tempting the credit deals.


James Bond has a licence to kill and soon Britain’s smokers will need a licence to smoke. Under new government proposals, smokers will soon have to fork out £10 for a special licence to give them the privilege of being able to light up. In addition, they will have to complete a very complicated application form to get the licence, designed to discourage them from smoking. The man behind the controversial idea is Professor Julian Le Grand, chairman of ministerial advisory board, Health England. Apparently the idea is that the money raised from the licences will go to the National Health Service. Critics have slammed the scheme as, “the nanny state gone mad”. Smokers’ rights group Forest has condemned it as outrageous. However the professor argues that whilst people would still be free to make their own decisions, the new scheme would “nudge them” in the right direction, presumably to give up smoking altogether.

I personally don’t think the new scheme will work. Treating smokers like social lepers is the wrong approach. I’m a non-smoker myself but grew up in a household where members of my family smoked. I also have friends who smoke. In a so-called free country, you can’t tell people what they can and can’t do, even if it is for their own good in the long term. The same rule applies to smoking too. If people want to smoke they will smoke and it is their right to do so if that’s what they choose. There is nothing the government or anybody else can do about it. If this controversial scheme goes ahead, then where will it end? Is the government going to licence alcohol and junk food as well? I’m sure many smokers will be up in arms if this new scheme goes ahead and quite rightly so. Why should they be made to pay £10 in an effort to put money back into a National Health Service that has flittered away thousands of pounds? I agree it is a good idea to encourage people to be healthy and try to give up smoking but I personally don’t think this is the right way to go about it. Back to the drawing board Professor Le Grand.


Like many people, I often complain that sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in a day to get everything done. It seems I’m not alone. According to the results of a study by Virgin Media, more and more Brits are living life at a crazy pace, with some spending ten minutes or less to eat their evening meal! The danger is that living life in the fast lane can have serious and often detrimental effects on our health. One psychologist commented that unless people slow down and realise there are only so many hours in a day to get everything done, there is a real danger they are heading for meltdown. That’s me told! Unfortunately it seems to be the same scenario the world over and not just in this country. Maybe it’s time we all learned to slow down a little bit and stop racing our way through life.


I was glued to the tv on Wednesday night watching the Brit Awards. It was a good night’s entertainment. It seems that many other people enjoyed the show too as it attracted over 6 million viewers! Many people had no doubt tuned in to see how the show’s presenters Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne got on and to see if they managed not to come out with any bad language, as the show went out live before the watershed. The couple made it a family affair by bringing along their son Jack and daughter Kelly. Everything went well until British comedian Vic Reeves came on the scene to present an award. Reeves appeared to have forgotten which award he was there to present as Sharon yelled a string of obscenities, turning the air blue and accusing him of being drunk. Ofcom, the media watchdog received several complaints from viewers who were upset by the bad language. The confusion was later blamed on a faulty autocue. However many others including comedien Alan Carr and the Arctic Monkeys certainly seemed to be quite merry, having taken advantage of the free alcohol on offer.

One of the highlights of the show for me was seeing Paul McCartney perform at the end of the show. The ex Beatle ended the show by performing a medley of hits including Hey Jude and Live and Let Die. After spending a week in the divorce courts, Paul looked relaxed and happy doing what he does best, performing to a cheering audience. He won a Lifetime Achievement Award. Other artists taking home awards included one of my favourite groups Take That who won two awards, Best British Live Act and Best British Single for their hit song, “Shine”; Mika for Best British Breakthrough Act; Kate Nash for Best British Female Solo Artist and producer Mark Ronson for Best British Male Solo Artist. Another one of my favourite singers, Australian superstar Kylie Minogue took home the award for Best International Female Solo Artist. Unfortunately it was a disappointing night for XFactor winner Leona Lewis who didn’t manage to win any awards. Never mind, better luck next year Leona! Congratulations to all the Brit Award winners! I’m already looking forward to next year’s show!

PHOTO:- Courtesy of Yahoo News


I loved reading the story of Dick Whittington when I was growing up and about how he went to London to make his fortune because he believed the streets were paved with gold. Dick Whittington was a story-book character based on legend but it seems that at least one street in London is “paved with gold!” Courtenay Avenue in North London has been named as the most expensive address in England. Located between Hampstead Heath and Highgate Golf Course, houses on this street come with an average price tag of £6.8 million! Wow! That’s more than most people, including myself, earn in a whole lifetime!


According to the results of a recent world study, Britain is experiencing the biggest “brain drain” for 50 years, with record numbers of professionals leaving the country for pastures new. The main reasons given for the move are bad weather, rising house prices and taxes. No surprises there then. Many doctors, teachers and engineers have now emigrated, lured by the prospect of a better lifestyle abroad. Many English speaking countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. have received a mass exodus of Brits whilst popular holiday destinations such as Spain and France have also received a large influx of British immigrants. With the rising costs of petrol, food, water, gas and electricity in this country, coupled with rising crime rates, it’s not surprising so many people are leaving. Britain is becoming an increasingly more expensive and violent place to live. If things don’t improve, many more people, including myself will be tempted to join them.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Congratulations to British singer Amy Winehouse on her Grammys win. It’s nice to see her looking fit and healthy again after her battle with drugs. Unable to obtain a visa in time, Amy’s performance was beamed via satellite from London to the L.A. event with the American audience giving her a standing ovation. Winehouse had been nominated for six awards and won five – Record and Song of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album for Back to Black and Best Female Pop Vocal.
Looking and sounding great, an overwhelmed Amy hugged her mum Janis and dedicated her win to her family. The star proved she was back on the straight and narrow again by sticking to fruit juice all night, whilst those around her celebrated with alcohol. Earlier in the week, Amy’s dad thanked a British tabloid for publishing photos of the singer allegedly taking drugs, saying it shocked her into getting treatment. Amy is one of Britain’s most talented singers. Well done to her!

Photo:- Courtesy of Yahoo News


February is the month of love, with Valentines Day being celebrated on the 14th. It’s a great time for couples and those in relationships but it can also be a lonely time for people on their own. At a time when there are more single people than ever before, many lonely Brits are logging onto the net in a quest to find their perfect partner. Many people see it as the ideal way to meet someone but it is also one that is fraught with danger. It was revealed this week that Nigerian gangs are targeting lonely hearted Brits by logging onto internet dating sites, posing as widow(er)s and divorcees. The gang members use false identities and photos stolen from model agency sites to lure unsuspecting British men and women and defraud them out of thousands of pounds. They build up a relationship with unsuspecting “victims” asking them for loans which are never repaid. Scary! Undercover reporters from The Tonight tv programme joined police as they raided an internet cafĂ© in Lagos, discovering details of several British victims, together with e-mails asking for money.

Like many other single women, I’m still hoping to meet my perfect partner one day. I’m also a great believer in the old adage that if you go out looking for love, you never find it. If it’s fated to happen it will. However for those of you who prefer to search for your perfect partner online. Take care and keep safe!


Like many little Britons, I grew up eating Smarties, the popular brightly coloured sweets. To this day, I still eat them occasionally, a welcome reminder of the happy, carefree days of childhood. Being health conscious, I was pleased to hear that the manufacturers have removed all artificial colourings. They are now using only natural colourings for the sweets, as part of a drive to remove artificial ingredients from children’s food. But so far they have been unable to find a natural alternative to the blue colourant used in the blue smartie. Consequently the blue smartie was dropped for a while in favour of a plain white one.

The blue smarties first appeared in the late eighties replacing the brown coloured versions of the sweets. It became popular with children and adults alike as it temporarily stained the tongue a bright blue colour! However the manufacturers have now discovered a natural blue colourant that is derived from Spirulina, a type of seaweed so now the blue smartie is set to make a welcome return. Good news for Smartie lovers everywhere.

Smarties are one of Britain’s most popular sweets, with nearly 17,000 being eaten every minute. Wow! The sweets are very versatile too and make good, brightly coloured cake decorations. Perfect for any occasion! First introduced in the 1930’s, Smarties are as popular now as they’ve always been. They even have their own website. Click on the link below to find out more!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Our 21st century lifestyles have a lot to answer for. Lack of exercise, bad diet and a reliance on processed ready meals, together with drinking excess alcohol has been blamed for the younger generation suffering from much worse health than their grandparents. The results of a Florida Grapefruit Zest for Life study of 2,000 Brits showed that those in the 18-34 age bracket are more likely to suffer flu, migraines and headaches than those people over the age of 55. Apparently almost a quarter of people in the younger age range regularly experience migraines and headaches compared to 14% in the over 55's group. Also younger people were three times more likely to suffer from flu than their older counterparts. Interesting.


After suffering with a bad bout of flu this week, I was pleased to hear that scientists at Imperial College in London are a step nearer to developing new treatments. After managing to infect a lab mouse with the flu virus for the first time, the team are now able to test new ways of treating colds and flu and also asthma, providing a massive boost to research efforts. Good news for all of us.


It’s hard to believe but Prince Charles will be celebrating his 60th birthday in November. How time flies! To mark this special occasion, Windsor Castle will be hosting a special exhibition. Amongst the exhibits will be a series of intimate family photos that follow the Prince’s life from his childhood up to the present day. The photos featured include one showing Prince Charles as a schoolboy playing with his sister Princess Anne; Prince Charles as a teenager starring in a school production of Macbeth; pictures taken during his military career and his wedding to Princess Diana.

The exhibition which opens in May, will also contain some of Prince Charles personal belongings including some of his watercolours (the Prince is a very talented artist) and the geometry set he used at school. Windsor Castle has a rich history spanning over nearly 1,000 years. As an official residence of her Majesty the Queen and one of the largest and oldest occupied castles in the world, if you are planning a trip to Windsor, it is well worth a visit. To find out more, click on the links shown below:-

Windsor Castle

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead

Royal Residences - Windsor Castle


I’m sure many of you have had sleepless nights at one time or another worrying about work. I certainly have. Well it seems we are not alone. According to a recent survey by Travelodge over 23 million Brits are losing sleep because they dread going into work the next day. Heavy workloads, difficult bosses and colleagues and having to prepare presentations are identified as the main culprits. Many workers, particularly women are forced to call in sick after a sleepless night. However Travelodge just might have the answer to getting a good night’s with a series of downloadable “nodcasts” on their website. We all know Travelodge have a great reputation for providing very comfortable, great value accommodation. But now they have gone a step further and commissioned neuro linguistic programming (NLP) therapist Greg Laws to produce the motivational recordings which tap into your subconscious mind whilst you sleep. Interesting stuff – whatever happened to drinking warm milk and counting sheep? Oh well, if the system works, it’s well worth a go. To download the free nodcasts, click on the link shown below and scroll down the page:-

Travelodge Nodcasts

The high tech pyjamas made me smile. They look like something an astronaut would wear! Very glamorous! I’m not really a pyjama person and couldn’t see myself wearing those! Happy surfing!

Saturday, February 09, 2008


According to a recent survey by UK TV Gold, more than half the viewers who took part believed that Arthur Conan’s Doyle’s fictional character of Sherlock Holmes was a real person who lived on Baker Street with his sidekick Watson. They also believed that fictional pilot Biggles actually existed in the flesh too! However they believed that Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill (one of this country’s greatest leaders) and Florence Nightingale were all fictional characters created for books and movies! Shame on you! It seems that many Brits find it hard to tell the difference between fact and fiction!


A controversial exhibition has provoked fierce criticism from the Bishop of Manchester before it even opens in the North West of England. The Bodyworlds 4 Exhibition is due to open at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry later this month and features preserved corpses (yes corpses!), stripped of their skin in a variety of athletic poses, holding footballs and the like. German organiser and anatomist Gunther Von Hagens who has already caused controversy by performing an autopsy live on tv, uses a technique called plastination to preserve and display human corpses. The Bishop has described the show as a “modern version of a Victorian freak show”, branding it, “a little shop of horrors” and has grave concerns of the show’s effect on both adults and children alike. The Bishop says using the corpses amounts to “body snatching”. However Mr Von Hagens has defended the show, describing it as a unique educational opportunity to see how the body works. Previous Bodyworlds exhibitions have attracted 25 million visitors worldwide, more than any other touring exhibition, making Mr Von Hagens a very rich man. Von Hagens also argues that all the corpses used in the exhibition were part of a donation programme and that people gave their consent for their bodies to be used before their deaths. I personally can’t believe that anyone would consent to have their deceased bodies used in this way, to be put on display in a public gallery for visitors to sneer at. In my opinion, far from being family entertainment, this is nothing but a macabre exhibition of the living dead, exploiting them to make a lot of money.

The shows are banned in Scotland and there is some concern that they undermine public confidence and will discourage people from carrying organ donor cards and donating their bodies to medical research. Organ and body donation in Britain is based on public trust in the medical profession that any tissue donated will be used respectfully and in an appropriate manner. I'm sure when people see an exhibition like this, it will make them think twice about joining the register.

To see what all the fuss is about and form your own opinions, click on the link below to see the BBC's preview of the upcoming show.

Bodyworlds Preview

Although some of the images are quite funny in a freakish kind of way, I personally find them very disturbing too and wouldn’t want myself or any of my deceased relatives to be put on display in this distasteful manner. This is one exhibition I definitely won’t be attending.

Picture:- Courtesy of BBC Website

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Today we celebrate Pancake Day in England. Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday was traditionally a day when Christians went to church to make their confessions and become “shriven” before the start of Lent. Lent begins the day after Pancake Day on Ash Wednesday. As the Lentern period up until Easter was considered a time of fasting, Shrove Tuesday was the day when people would use up all the eggs, fats and sugar in the house by making pancakes and so Pancake Day was born. It still continues to this day. Pancake races are held in some towns in England to celebrate the day. Our American neighbours in New Orleans celebrate Pancake Day in the form of “Mardi Gras” which means literally, “Fat Tuesday”. It's nice to see that they are still able to go ahead with their parades, despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. We wish them well.

I like my pancakes with jam and a dash of lemon juice but however you choose to eat them, pancakes are certainly a delicious way of using up all the leftovers! Many people are opting for ready made versions due to lack of time but I never think they taste as good as home made. For recipe ideas go to:-

Pancake Recipes

My tip for really light pancakes is to add a dash of soda water or lemonade (if you like a lemon flavour) to the batter. I’ll be having my pancakes with some of the Maple Syrup I brought back from my trip to Canada a couple of years ago. Delicious! Bon Appetit!

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Gordon Brown has come under fierce criticism after plans were announced to remove the figure of Britannia from the tails side of British 50p coins. New 50p coins will still show the Queen on one side but are set to feature a new design which doesn’t include Britannia on the reverse. The new design is yet to be revealed. The image of Britannia, a young woman in a neo-classical gown, wearing a helmet, with a trident in one hand and Union Jack shield in the other has been a symbol of Britishness for centuries. The image originates from Roman times, when the Romans named their newly conquered land, just across the sea from Gaul, Britannia. The image of Britannia was actually featured on coins at that time and has continued to feature on some British coins to this day. Britannia became a popular figure in the early 1700’s when England, Scotland and Wales were united to form Great Britain.

The news that Britannia will no longer feature on any new British coins for the first time in over 300 years has come as a body blow to many Britons who see it as a traditional symbol of our British heritage. A national Sunday newspaper has launched a campaign to save the image of Britannia and many MP’s are urging Gordon Brown to reverse his decision to remove Britannia from British coins, condemning his campaign to promote British values as a sham. The fate of Britannia has united many Britons of all ages, from all walks of life in a common cause to stop the loss of such a special symbol of British patriotism. Over 30,000 readers have already joined the newspaper campaign, including some MP’s. To join the fight to save Britannia, click on the link shown below:-

Save Britannia