Today in England we celebrate St George’s Day. St George is the patron saint of England, better known for slaying a dragon (evil), as the story goes and rescuing a trapped maiden. St George’s emblem is a red cross on a white background, which is England’s flag and forms part of Britain’s Union Jack flag. The flag has grown in popularity in recent years, particularly with football fans who display it on their cars at the time of the World Cup matches.
It was a special day for the Queen and Prince Philip today as they attended the christening of their youngest grandchild which was held in a private chapel at Windsor Castle. Baby James, the four month old son of the Earl and Countess of Wessex was christened James Alexander Philip Theo in a private family ceremony. The baby wore a replica of the original Royal lace and satin christening gown which has been worn by members of today’s Royal family, including the Queen, her children and the Queen’s father George VI. Her Majesty the Queen commissioned the new gown, in order to preserve the original which was originally made in 1841.
Sophie and Edward were delighted at the safe arrival of James, their much longed for second child after the drama surrounding his sister Lady Louise’s traumatic birth, which almost resulted in the deaths of both mother and child. Then the couple had further worries when baby James was taken into Great Ormond Street Hospital at 5 weeks old, suffering from a mystery illness. However thankfully the couple’s worries were unfounded when it was found the illness was due to a food intolerance. Baby James, who will carry the title Viscount Severn is the Queen and Prince Philip’s eighth grandchild and eighth in line to the throne. He is also the Queen and Prince Philip’s first male grandchild since Prince Harry was born 23 years ago.
It seems that an increasing number of us have a sedentary lifestyle. According to the results of a recent Sanex poll the average Briton will spend more than 36 years sitting down in their lifetime! Scary! This includes hours spent sitting in front of the computer, the television, sitting down at work and sitting on the toilet! Apparently the average Briton spends just one year and 22 days exercising. Despite this 62 per cent of Britons consider themselves to be active. No wonder obesity is becoming such a problem in this country.
There are many ways to take more exercise, without having to spend a lot of money on expensive gym memberships. Walking is one of the best cost-free forms of exercise. Leaving the car at home and walking to work or the shops (if you live near enough) and taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator is a good way to keep fit. Joining a walking group is a good idea too. It’s a good way to explore some of Britain’s beautiful countryside, get some exercise and make new friends too. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or a chore. You can keep fit and have fun too. If like myself, you enjoy dancing, there are Line dancing, Salsa dancing, Belly dancing and Ballroom and Latin American dance classes out there. All great fun, a good way to boost your social life and great ways to get fit too. So what are you waiting for! Get up off the chair and get moving!
I'm really enjoying the new series of "Britain's Got Talent". As some of my readers know, I love dogs and one of my favourite acts so far has to be Gin the moonwalking border collie. Strutting her stuff in front of the judges to the James Bond theme, along with her 16 year old owner and trainer, Kate Nicholas, Gin wowed the judges and audience alike. Gin could certainly give Michel Jackson a run for his money! Simon Cowell remarked that all his life he had been searching for another Lassie and thought they had found him, whilst fellow judge Amanda Holden remarked that she was speechless! Kate has been training 6 year old Gin since she was a pup and it has certainly paid off. They perform brilliantly together doing their canine freestyle act. Piers Morgan even thinks they could go all the way and win Britain's Got Talent. Whatever the outcome, I definitely think Gin the dog is one to watch out for! To see Gin in action, click on the video player below:-
In these current tough economic times when we are all being told to tighten our belts as the credit crunch bites, it seems that many Britons are drowning their financial worries in champagne! I must admit that I enjoy the occasional glass of champagne myself, particularly the pink variety but I only tend to drink it on special occasions like Christmas. According to supermarket chain Asda, sales of bubbly have soared by 51% this year as customers treat themselves to a taste of the high life! Apparently the highest champagne sales were in Nottingham, Manchester and Liverpool. Legend has it that champagne was introduced to England in the mid 1600’s by a French aristocrat who fled France after a falling out with Louis XIV. Buried in Westminster Abbey, Charles de Saint-Evremond imported one of his favourite wines to England from the Champagne region of France. The wine, “Vin Gris”, became an instant hit. Not sure whether that story is true or not but whatever the origins of champagne’s introduction to this country, it is proving more popular than ever with today’s Britons.
Apparently most people buy champagne as it makes them feel good about themselves. I wouldn’t argue with that. I always feel better after drinking a glass! Many people also find it more alluring than wine, even though there are some good wines out there that are considerably cheaper. It’s also interesting to note that renowned food critic Egon Ronay has declared supermarket own-brand champagnes just as good as the more expensive famous brand name champagnes. It just goes to show you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy a champagne lifestyle!
Prince William fulfilled a long held ambition yesterday when he gained his "wings". For the past four months, William has been learning to fly a variety of planes and helicopters in an intensive RAF training course at RAF Cranwell. He made his first solo flight after only 8 days on his flying course, describing it as "an amazing experience".
William's girlfriend Kate Middleton and stepmother Camilla looked on proudly as together with other graduates, the Prince was presented with his "wings" by his father Prince Charles at a special RAF graduation ceremony. Following in the footsteps of his father Prince Charles, grandfather Prince Philip and great grandfather Prince Albert, Prince William became the fourth successive generation of Royalty to qualify as an RAF pilot.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a surprise guest appearance on a special charity fundraising edition of American Idol. The show has teamed up with the charity Malaria No More, in an attempt to erradicate the spread of the disease from Africa and other developing countries. Malaria kills mainly women and young children, with a child in Africa dying every 30 seconds as a result of the disease. Speaking via a pre-recorded message on the show, "Idol Gives Back", Gordon Brown pledged his support by announcing that Britain would supply funding for 20 million mosquito nets, to protect people in developing countries from mosquito bites as they slept. He urged the American public and other world leaders to support the fight against Malaria and take action to help eradicate the disease. Eradicating malaria is one of the U.N. Millenium Development Goals agreed in 2000.
American Idol with controversial British judge Simon Cowell on its judging panel, is one of the most popular shows in the U.S., attracting more than 27 million viewers. Mr Brown, himself a fan of talent shows, remarked, "All year on Idol, it's the talent of the American people we admire. Tonight it's your generosity". He ended his broadcast by saying, "There is nothing more amazing than saving a life. Thank you and God bless you all". You can see Gordon Brown in action on American Idol by clicking on the video player shown below. Happy viewing!
According to the results of a recent report by the Office of National Statistics the majority of the British population are healthier and living much longer than in years gone by with many eating a more healthy diet and the number of people smoking has more than halved since 1974. Apparently the average life expectancy for men is now 77, compared with 82 for women. Interesting.
Apparently many Brits also have more money than in years gone by with individuals' net wealth more than doubling between 1987 and 2006. That's probably just as well as they need it with the way the cost of living has gone up here recently.
However despite being wealthier and healthier, today's Britons are no happier. According to the report results, once people reach a certain wealth level, having money makes absolutely no difference to their happiness. It seems the old saying, "Money can't buy happiness", is very true.
“Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves” so the popular song goes. However it seems Britannia's rule has come to a sad end and the people of Britain will soon be bidding her a fond farewell as the image of Britannia will no longer feature on the new range of British coins. The Royal Mint unveiled the new style coins last week, the biggest shakeup of British coinage since decimalisation. Her Majesty the Queen will still feature proudly on the heads side of the coins. However the image of Britannia on the tails side will now be replaced by more modern images based around the Queen’s coat of arms. The new designs were created by a graphic design student who won a competition which was launched for members of the public to dream up new designs for the next generation of British coinage. The reverse of the £1 coin will feature the full coat of arms, whilst the remaining lower denomination coins will feature parts of it which like a jigsaw puzzle, when put together form the full coat of arms.
I personally still haven’t made my mind up about the new designs. It is quite a radical change and like many other Brits, I will miss the traditional image of Britannia. 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, including myself who see it as a traditional symbol of our British heritage. 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, including some MP’s, joined a national Sunday newspaper campaign to try to save the image of Britannia, but sadly without success.
Prince Philip was released from hospital today after receiving treatment for a chest infection. The Duke of Edinburgh 86, was admitted to King Edward VII hospital on Thursday following a heavy cold which spread to his chest. His weekend engagements were cancelled as doctors kept a close eye on him, mainly because of his age. A member of the Greek royal family, Prince Philip was born in 1921 and has been married to the Queen since 1947. Prince Philip undertakes a number of Royal engagements himself, in addition to accompanying the Queen on all her overseas tours and visits and on some engagements in this country too.
The Duke of Edinburgh, a non-smoker is normally very fit and healthy and regularly swims and takes part in carriage driving competitions. However he is believed to have an irregular heartbeat, which sometimes causes sufferers to become dizzy or short of breath. Prince Philip is also the only member of the Royal family to carry a defibrillator everywhere with him to re-start his heart. Prince Philip is returning to Windsor Castle to continue his recuperation, with all his engagements cancelled until further notice. We wish him a speedy recovery.
Despite the fact that the government is still urging everyone to eat their “Five a Day” (five portions of fruit or vegetables per day), many of us still fall well below that. Also getting some children to eat vegetables is still an uphill struggle and virtually impossible for many parents. According to the results of a recent Heinz poll, many parents have to offer rewards to their children or lie to them, to get them to eat their vegetables. Even then 70% of children pretend to eat their greens, when in actual fact they have hidden them around the house! Oh dear! Apparently sprouts used to be the vegetable children hated most but this has now been overtaken by aubergine or zucchini as it's better known to our American neighbours. I must admit as a child I didn’t always enjoy or eat my vegetables, even though I enjoy vegetables now. I particularly disliked carrots, probably one of the reasons why I have such bad eyesight now! After all did you ever see a rabbit wearing glasses! That’s what my grandmother used to always tell me but unfortunately to no avail!
Some vegetables are really easy to grow and sometimes getting children involved in helping to grow their own vegetables can help. Many children are quite keen to eat vegetables they have grown themselves! According to the experts, one of the best ways to get children to eat more vegetables is to disguise them or hide them, when preparing meals. Blending them into a tomato sauce to serve with pasta is a great way to do this. Here’s a great recipe for a tasty tomato sauce with five (yes five!) vegetables hiding inside! Taken from “The Fussy Eaters’ Recipe Book” by Annabel Karmel, this delicious sauce can be served with pasta, as a topping for pizza and also works well when served as a sauce with chicken. It’s also ideal for busy mums as it’s suitable for freezing and only takes 10 minutes to prepare! Bon Appetit!
Cooking time: 35 minutes Makes 3–4 portions
1 tbsp olive oil 1 small red onion, chopped 1/2 leek, finely chopped 1 garlic clove, crushed 1/4 red pepper 1/2 medium carrot, peeled and chopped 1/2 medium courgette, chopped 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes 150 ml (5 fl oz) vegetable stock 1 1/2 tbsp tomato purée 1 1/2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste 1 tbsp tomato ketchup 1 half tsp caster sugar 1 tbsp torn basil leaves (optional)
1 Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion and leek for approximately 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
2 Add the red pepper, carrot and courgette, and cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3 Add the tinned tomatoes, stock, tomato purée, paste, tomato ketchup and caster sugar, and stir for approximately 1 minute. Simmer uncovered for 25–30 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. Stir in the basil leaves if using.
4 Transfer to a blender and blitz the sauce to a purée.
I’m pleased to hear the government has finally come to its senses and Gordon Brown is planning to bring back the more traditional style of policing with bobbys on the beat.
I personally think that's what's sadly lacking in this country. We don't have enough police presence on our streets anymore. In addition, there is now so much bureaucracy and red tape that many police officers spend most of their time in the office sorting out paperwork and filling in forms rather than being out on the streets catching criminals. This has been a bone of contention with many officers themselves, some have even left the force because of it, disillusioned with the face of modern policing. Is it any wonder there is so much crime on the streets of Britain! This is another issue which Gordon Brown has pledged to tackle and he has vowed to cut down the mountain of paperwork which modern day officers have to complete. We can only live in hope. I personally would welcome the return of bobbys on the beat. I always think the sight of police on the streets is great as it helps to bring local communities together, especially when policemen and women take the time to stop and talk to people. It certainly makes for good public relations. Everyone feels a lot safer. Apparently part of the new initiative will involve communities telling police officers which crime hotspot areas to target. Sounds like a great idea to me.
"Bobby" is an English expression used to describe a British policeman or cop as our American neighbours refer to them. The term “bobby” was first used many years ago and is derived from Sir Robert Peel who was the Home Secretary in England when the Metropolitan Police Force was created in the 1800’s. The British “bobby” is still to this day a treasured icon in England. However nowadays you're more likely to see them on motorcycles, in police cars or even on horseback rather than pounding the beat on foot like they used to in the old days. ("Pounding the beat" is another British expression. It means walking round the streets looking for any wrong doing).
Other expressions we use to describe a British policeman are “Plod”, which comes from the policeman character of Mr Plod in Enid Blyton’s Noddy stories and “Copper” which comes from the expression “copping” which literally means watching what criminals are up to and catching them.
You might also be interested to know that one of the most popular expressions we associate with the British "bobby" is, "Hello, hello what's goin' on here?". It's a popular line used on tv and in comedy sketches where policemen are featured.