You may remember a recent post I did on how the government were considering plans for a special Bank holiday to celebrate Britishness. But how do we define Britishness? Obviously it means different things to some people than it does to others. But it seems that the majority of us are agreed on the things we love most about Britain, with fish and chips coming top of the list. The popular British takeaway food came in at No. 1 according to the results of a poll conducted by the popular Holiday Inn chain. The poll questioned 7,000 Brits to find out the things we most love about Britain. The Queen came in at No 2; with old fashioned pubs third; Sunday roasts fourth and red phone boxes fifth. Big Ben; cream teas; The Beatles; the pound and the Royal Family took the next five places on the list. A Holiday Inn representative said the poll results gave a “fascinating insight into what it means to be British”.
Britain has a special place in a lot of people’s hearts including mine. As soon as you hear Big Ben’s chimes and see the red buses and black cabs, you know you’ve arrived! Singer Tom Jones missed the “green green grass of home” so much that he had a red telephone box shipped over to his American home which now takes pride of place in his back garden, a nostalgic reminder of his British roots. Sadly the famous red telephone boxes have now been replaced by newer more modern looking boxes. With the invention of mobiles, phone boxes are now a rare site in Britain. Thankfully some red postboxes still remain. For most Brits there's no place like home or Blighty as it’s affectionately known!
Contrary to popular opinion there is a lot more to Britain than fish and chips and Sunday roast dinners! Modern Britain has many sides to it. Today’s Britain is a multi-cultural society with people of many different cultures and religions living here. Britons love their soaps like EastEnders and Coronation Street and it’s interesting to note that some people regard soap characters as like members of their family! Oh dear! Britain is famous for its Pantomine and theatre traditions. I personally believe that British sporting heroes like Kelly Holmes, writers like JK Rowling and musicians like Coldplay make good role models and are motivating and inspirational for youngsters growing up in Britain today.
The Monarchy plays a big part in Britain’s history and is an important part of British heritage and tradition. Also we must never forget those brave men who fought for us in the First and Second World Wars, a big part of Britain’s history. I personally would never want to live in a republic with a president. Britain is a country steeped in history and tradition. I like the fact that Britain is one of the few countries of the world that still has a Monarch on the throne. I’ve always been a Royalist. I know some members of the Royal family have let the Queen down badly by their behaviour. But the Queen has always served the country well and even in her eighties is one of the hardest working members of the Royal family. Long may she reign over us!
As some of you know I’ve always been a big fan of Swedish pop group Abba. I still have all my vinyl Abba records, every one in pristine condition and love to watch Abba tribute bands perform some of their greatest hits. It seems Her Majesty the Queen is a big Abba fan too and a secret disco dance floor diva! I was interested to hear DJ Chris Evans telling listeners of his Radio 2 show how the Queen loved Abba’s disco classic, “Dancing Queen”. Apparently one of Chris’s friends had attended a dinner dance function at Windsor Castle. After the meal, the disco began with the DJ putting on Abba’s, “Dancing Queen”. The Queen, 82, stunned guests by going up to strut her stuff on the dancefloor to Abba’s disco classic! Apparently many of the guests remarked that it was a good choice of song as Her Majesty was indeed the “dancing Queen”. Showing her great sense of humour, the Queen told her guests that she always liked to go up and dance when Abba’s “Dancing Queen” was played as she herself was the Queen and loved to dance! After recounting this true story on his radio show, Chris Evans played the famous Abba track, saying, “This is for all you dancing Queens out there, especially you your Majesty!”
Gene Kelly’s, “Singin’ in the Rain” is enjoying a mini revival here in England, after breakdancer George Sampson danced his way to victory using a funky version of the song as his backing track on Britain’s Got Talent. Manchester band Mint Royale who remixed the song to a funky beat, stormed to the top of the charts with their version of “Singin’ in the Rain”, knocking Rihanna off the top spot. The hit song has been No. 1 in the U.K. Singles Charts for the past two weeks. I love it and always think of George Sampson dancing whenever I hear it being played! To hear the hit song and see George in action, click on the player shown below:-
President Bush arrived in Britain this week for what is expected to be his last official visit before he is due to leave office in January. Mr Bush held a joint press conference with Gordon Brown, where Mr Brown announced plans to send more troops into Afghanistan, whilst also announcing plans to start the withdrawal of troops from Iraq in the foreseeable future. 10 Downing Street played down suggestions of a rift between the two men as Bush urged Mr Brown to delay the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Meanwhile Mr Bush spoke of how appreciative he was of the relationship he had with Mr Brown, particularly on the issue of Iraq.
Bush’s controversial visit was marred by violent clashes between police and anti-war protesters who caused havoc in Whitehall and across the capital. Anti-war protesters waved banners depicting Bush as the world’s no. 1 terrorist. President Bush must surely be the worst president the U.S. has ever had. I’m sure the American people will be glad when he leaves office next year. President Bush rounded off his visit with his wife Laura, by taking tea at Windsor Castle with The Queen and Prince Philip who no doubt bid him a fond farewell. Goodbye and good riddance would probably be more appropriate to a president who leaves behind the shameful legacy of Iraq. Not once has he shown any regrets for his actions which have left hundreds of thousands of innocent people dead, even when no evidence of weapons of mass destruction were found. I am quite surprised that the Queen and Prince Philip would want to entertain such a man. He has committed mass murder on an unprecedented scale. Most Britons, like the majority of people in the U.S. can’t wait to see the back of him.
One of the first things I did when I got back from Spain was to put the kettle on and sit down for a nice cup of tea. There’s definitely something special about sitting back with a cup of English tea. It just never tastes the same when you go abroad. It’s hard to believe but the humble teabag has just celebrated its 100th birthday. Britons have always been renowned for being a nation of tea drinkers (although many people here do drink coffee too and some prefer it to tea!) Indeed a cup of tea has become almost like a national icon to many people in this country. Tea is often referred to as “the best drink of the day”. People often reach for a cup of tea as a pick me up or to cheer them up in times of crisis.
However contrary to popular opinion, it was actually an American and not a Brit who actually invented the first teabag. New York Tea Merchant Thomas Sullivan sent samples of tea leaves to some of his potential customers back in 1908, wrapping them in silk pouches to save money. However most customers were unsure what to do with them and dunked them in boiling water just as they arrived and so the teabag was born! British tea company Tetley saw the possible marketing potential of the teabags a few years later and launched them as an alternative to leaf tea. There’s no doubt that teabags are a much cleaner and quicker way to make tea than using leaves, especially with today’s busy lifestyles. Teabags can now be found in virtually every home in Britain. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without them.
Whilst in Spain I have been enjoying Sangria, a lovely refreshing drink to enjoy on warm, sunny days. Sangria is basically a punch made of red wine and lemonade with fruit added. Some people then add a shot of Grand Marnier or Cointreau for extra zing. Every region and bar in Spain has its own Sangria recipe. I’ll definitely be having a go at making some now that I’m back at home. I’m not a big drinker but I do enjoy the occasional glass of wine with a meal. Vodka however is something I would never touch. It seems that I’m in the minority as the popular drink has now overtaken Scotch as Britain’s favourite spirit and is fast outselling traditional blended whiskeys. I’m not a Vodka drinker myself but from what I hear Russian Vodka is the best in the world. Apparently the number of Polish people now living in Britain has also helped to boost Vodka sales. Maybe the James Bond influence has helped too, as he utters those immortal words in the movies, “Vodka Martini please. Shaken not stirred!”
I’m back blogging again after my Spanish holiday. Spain was great. It was quite strange being away from home on my birthday this year but very nice to celebrate the day in Spain. It was lovely to wake up to sunshine and blue skies every day, birds singing and no rain! It was quite a change when I flew back into rainy Manchester and grey skies. Back to reality! My Mum and I stayed at a small resort called Mijas. It’s in Malaga, just above Fuengirola, a popular seaside resort which we visited. Mijas is a lovely Andalucian town, full of white washed houses, with great views of the coast below. Despite the influx of tourists, Mijas has managed to retain many of its traditional customs including the traditional donkey-taxis which line the central plaza. It’s a really good base for touring the surrounding area.
We did an excursion to Gibraltar, a British owned island well worth visiting. Gibraltar is famous for its dramatic rock which overlooks the straits of Gibraltar, the narrow neck of water which separates Europe from Africa. The island is also famous for its colony of Barbary apes, which run free in a semi-wild state in a nature reserve on the rock. My Mum and I did a rock tour by minibus which was very interesting. Some of my favourite parts were seeing the famous lighthouse, St Michael’s Cave and the Apes’ Den. The lighthouse is situated on the southern most tip of the island and is well worth seeing. St Michael’s Cave is one of the most dramatic natural grottoes with lots of interesting subterranean rock formations. One of my favourite parts of the tour was seeing the Barbary apes. The apes have lived on the rock for two centuries and it was interesting to see them roaming freely around the nature reserve. The baby monkeys (we saw some that had just been born the previous week) were particularly cute. Everyone was warned not to carry any plastic bags as the monkeys associate them with food and will immediately snatch them. We were especially warned not to carry our passports in a plastic bag or otherwise there would be monkeys going home in our name! Our guide told us the story of one lady who had gone to the Apes Den carrying her passport in a plastic bag. A cheeky monkey had immediately snatched the bag and the guide had to entice it away with some peanuts so it would drop the bag and she could retrieve it! The monkeys were on their best behaviour when we visited but still very inquisitive and quite entertaining too. They have obviously grown used to the tourists visiting. They love chocolate and ice-cream. Everyone was warned to eat any chocolate or ice-cream inside the gift shop and not to bring them outside. But some people never listen and there were still some tourists who were eating ice-creams outside, only to have them snatched by hungry monkeys! It was quite a funny sight as we watched a little monkey knocking back an ice cream! The Upper Rock nature reserve also gives great views over North Africa. Back in Spain, we also visited Granada and the world famous Alhambra Palace, an impressive reminder of Granada’s history and well worth seeing. The clifftop town of Ronda with its fabulous views from the amazing Puente Nuevo Bridge is also worth a visit. A favourite haunt of writer Ernest Hemingway, actor Orson Welles also spent a year there in his youth. I really enjoyed my Spanish holiday. It was nice and relaxing, so now I’m back, batteries re-charged and ready to get back to work and reality again!
As some of you know already, I'm heading off to Spain early next week so this will be my last post before I go away. You may have noticed some changes in the appearance of this blog in the past few days. I've been having major template problems with Blogger and the only way I could solve them was to upgrade my template. Unfortunately I've lost my blogroll and quite a lot of other things in the process and am desperately trying to get these back, so if your link isn't there, please bear with me and hopefully things will be back to normal soon.
Former Spice Girl Mel B may have the XFactor. It is believed that Simon Cowell is in talks with Mel and is considering her as a possible replacement for Sharon Osbourne who quit her role as an XFactor judge earlier this week. It is rumoured that Sharon left after a row over pay and also disagreements with fellow judge Danni Minogue. However friends revealed that Sharon had simply had enough after four years on the show and wanted to concentrate on her U.S. tv work. Sharon will remain a judge on Simon Cowell’s “America’s Got Talent” show. The new X Factor series is due to return to our screens in September. Fellow judge Louis Walsh described Sharon as his “best friend on the series” and said it wouldn’t be the same without her.
The Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips has been named top female celebrity hat wearer of 2008 by Luton's hatmaking and millinery consortium. Style-conscious Zara who is Princess Anne's daughter, beat supermodel Naomi Campbell and her cousin Princess Beatrice to win the coveted title.
One milliner said that although Zara tends to favour fashionable trilby and fedora style hats, she also wears some "fairly extravagant" styles which are fun and fashionable at the same time. Zara shares the top spot with Brad Pitt who was named top male celebrity hat wearer.
One of London’s most popular tourist attractions, the London Eye welcomed its 30 millionth visitor this week. The London Eye is definitely one of the jewels in London’s crown and has proved immensely popular with tourists since it was first opened in March 2000. With over 3 million visitors going on the Eye every year, the famous landmark now attracts more visitors than either The Taj Mahal or the pyramids at Giza. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the city from the world’s largest ferris wheel, which is situated on the south bank of the Thames. The Eye is popular with many famous and public figures too. The Duke of Edinburgh, U.S. presidential candidate John McCain, Prince Harry and Kate Moss have all visited the famous ferris wheel. Maybe it’s time you paid a visit too. To find out more about this popular tourist attraction, click on the link shown below:-
Britain’s oldest man Henry Allingham celebrated his 112th birthday this week. One of only three U.K. survivors from the 1st World War, Mr Allingham has been awarded several military honours including the British War Medal and France’s highest military honour, the Legion d'honneur. He is also one of the founding members of the RAF and celebrated his birthday by watching a specially organised fly-past of vintage aircraft including a Spitfire and a Hurricane. A VIP lunch was also organised in his honour by the RAF. Mr Allingham remains in good health and lives in a home for blind veterans in Brighton. He puts the secret of his longevity down to cigarettes, whisky and wild women! Good luck to him!
A 19th Century desk and chair used by one of England’s greatest novelists, Charles Dickens has sold for over £400,000 at Christies auction house in London. Charles Dickens is believed to have written his famous novel Great Expectations, whilst seated at the mahogany desk and chair. The famous desk and chair is now on its way to Ireland, after being snapped up by an Irish collector.
I couldn’t believe it when I heard that Smarties were celebrating their 70th birthday this week. Like many little Britons, I grew up eating Smarties, the popular brightly coloured sweets with chocolate in the middle. To this day, I still eat them occasionally, a welcome reminder of the happy, carefree days of childhood. The sweets are as good today as they have always been.
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!
The current credit crunch has done nothing to diminish the British love affair with credit cards. Britain is still known as the credit capital of Europe. Many Britons including myself can’t imagine life without a credit card. With the current economic climate, it is more important than ever to find the best balance transfer offers and the best credit card deals. More and more people are transferring balances from one card to another, to take advantage of 0% and other great low rate deals to ensure they pay as little interest as possible.
There has never been a better time to take advantage of some of the great card deals out there. As the credit crunch bites, we have all become more choosey about our cards and want the best deals and rewards for our money to make shopping even more enjoyable.
However there are so many different credit card deals and balance transfer offers out there, it’s always important to compare the various different cards and deals available. CreditCardSpecialist.com is the ideal site to do this and offers some of the best credit card and balance transfer deals on the internet, allowing you to compare credit card suppliers quickly and easily online, to find the best deals to suit your requirements.
So what are you waiting for log onto CreditCardSpecialist.com and get yourself a great credit card deal now.
Congratulations to George Sampson, this year’s winner of Britain’s Got Talent. 14 year old George danced his way to victory in Britain’s Got Talent last night, beating nine other acts to take home the coveted £100,000 prize and a chance to perform in front of Prince Charles at the Royal Variety Performance. As George’s mother Lesley is unable to afford professional lessons for him, the young dancer travels to Manchester every week, performing on the streets to earn money to pay for his dance tuition. He had earlier pledged to pay off his Mum’s mortgage if he won the talent show.
It was George’s second crack at winning Britain’s Got Talent. The teenage dancer who failed to make the semi finals of last year’s show, was undeterred and came back to the show again this year more determined than ever to win. Young George wowed the judges and the public with his sensational high energy breakdancing routine, performed to a funky, upbeat version of Singing in the Rain. Judge Simon Cowell described him as, “the dance version of Rocky” and said he deserved everything as he had battled his way to the top. Amanda described him as, “inspirational”, whilst Piers said he loved his confidence. It was certainly a refreshing change to see a dance act winning Britain’s Got Talent, instead of the usual singing acts. A tearful George couldn’t believe that the public had voted him the winner and was speechless after hearing the result. To see George in action, click on the player shown below:-
Prince William has been voted the world’s “hottest young Royal” in a list compiled by Forbes.com. As heir to the throne, William is certainly one of the world’s hottest Royals and also one of the most eligible too. Forbes magazine described him as a man of “international intrigue”. That’s certainly an interesting description! It makes William sound more like a spy than a member of the British Royal family!
Prince William’s brother Prince Harry came in at No. 2, with Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Philips at No. 3 and Fergie’s daughter Princess Beatrice at No. 4. Princess Caroline of Monaco’s daughter Charlotte Casiraghi was the only foreign Royal to make the top five, coming in at No. 5. The poll only considered unmarried members of British and foreign royal families under the age of 35, taking into account their wealth and media popularity.
Good news for Harry Potter fans everywhere! It seems it’s not the end for the boy wizard’s adventures after all. JK Rowling has written an 800 word prequel to the Harry Potter series as part of a charity initiative, “What’s Your Story”, by Waterstones booksellers. The handwritten story written on A5 card and signed by the author is one of 13 story cards by various authors including Doris Lessing, Nick Hornby and Margaret Atwood, which will be auctioned at Sotheby’s on 10th June to raise money for Dyslexia Action and English Pen, a charity which promotes understanding through literature. A Waterstone’s executive described each story as a “small masterpiece”.
The Harry Potter story card which tells the story of the young boy wizard’s father James and his friend Sirius Black as youngsters is expected to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity when it is auctioned. A spokesman for Sotheby’s stated that due to the immense popularity of JK Rowling’s books, there was no telling how high the bidding would go. Apparently Harry himself does not feature in the story, although the actual plot is a closely guarded secret. JK Rowling has said her latest Potter offering, which comes almost a year after the last Harry Potter book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” hit our shelves, will not be developed further. JK Rowling who has earned a £560million fortune from the Potter books hinted that she may write another Potter story one day but not for at least a decade. Good news for all Harry Potter fans out there including myself!
A couple believed to be the longest married in England have just celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary, gaining themselves a place in the Guinness world record books. Wow! Frank and Anita Milford celebrated their oak anniversary at a party with family at friends, which was held at their care home in Devon. They also received a letter from Her Majesty the Queen congratulating them on reaching their special milestone anniversary. In today’s “throwaway” society with its high divorce rates where so many marriages don’t stay the course, it makes a refreshing change to see a devoted couple like this who have been happily married for such a long time and stuck together through thick and thin!
Devoted couple Frank 100 and Anita 99 married in 1928, the year Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin. The couple have two children, both in their seventies, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. They are justly proud of what they have achieved in their lifetime and have seen many changes during the many years of their marriage. The couple survived the tough war years and even a Luftwaffe bomb dropping on their house didn’t deter them. Like a lot of other people of their generation, they worked hard on low wages to support their family. Retired dockworker Frank believes that the problem with today’s young couples is that “they want it all too fast”. You can say that again! Anita believes that the reason why so many of today’s couples don’t last is that they don’t make time for one another. She believes it’s important to make time for a little romance every day. Sound advice and it’s obviously worked very well for Frank and Anita! The devoted couple are living proof that romance never dies. Married the year that pound notes were invented, their happiness is priceless. They are an inspiration to all of us. The couple say the secret of their success is they always have a kiss and cuddle at night, enjoy trips to the bingo and good plain English food! Congratulations to them both!