It was announced last week that fast food chain McDonalds has now received government approval to become an examination board. Good news for the company’s staff as it will now be able to offer them nationally recognised “A” level standard qualifications, an alternative to traditional qualifications. The new McDonalds in-house course will teach staff about recruitment, human resources, people management, hygiene, health and safety and stock control, amongst other skills. Basically it will teach them everything they need to know about running a fast food outlet.
Network Rail, The Ministry of Defence and Flybe have also been given examination board status and will now be able to offer their staff nationally recognised certificates. The plan, the first of its kind in Europe, is part of a government initiative to offer workers more on-the-job training and help create a skilled workforce in the U.K. According to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, it’s all about wining the “global skills race”. Business leaders have welcomed the new initiative which will bridge the gap between company training schemes and nationally recognised qualifications. However teachers’ unions have condemned the new plans as a “farce” and say that it demeans the value of “A” level qualifications. Gordon Brown defended the in-company training courses, saying that they would be tough, involving intensive training and once candidates had the qualification they could go anywhere.
Many cancer patients experience weight loss and may have to wait several weeks before being able to see a dietician for help and advice. However a new website has now been launched to help them with their diet and nutrition. The site contains easy to prepare recipes and also advises on the best high calorie and protein rich foods for patients to eat. The site also contains a forum where patients can interact and share tips and advice with others. There is also a team of healthcare professionals available who will answer any questions on nutrition. The idea is that the site will help cancer patients to get the best diet and nutrition possible during their illness. To find out more, click on the link shown below:-
Meanwhile a cancer expert from the World Cancer Research Fund has advised that salt should be banned from the dinner table in a bid to improve the nation’s health and that we should stick with just the pepper instead. Experts argue that because salt is already added to our food by manufacturers, adding extra salt is just making things worse. Salt has been linked to stomach cancer and excessive use can cause high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The recommended daily intake is 6g of salt a day but the majority of Britons digest much more than that. Instead of using salt, why not use alternative flavourings such as lemon or lime juice, herbs, spices, peppers or onions. Your heart and health will thank you for it.
South Wales' last deep coal mine, Tower Colliery, (the only one in Britain to be owned by its workers) closed this week after 200 years of mining. The miners pooled their redundancy money to buy it after its first closure 13 years ago, providing jobs for hundreds of miners. Unfortunately the coal has now run out. But the mine’s chairman was confident that those miners who wanted to continue working will be able to find jobs at the local drift mines.
Miners and local people staged a celebratory parade to mark the closure of Tower Colliery just as they did when they bought it over 10 years ago. It’s hoped that the site of the mine will now be re-developed, ideally to create new jobs and houses for some of the local people, a fitting tribute for a local landmark.
In a day and age when everyone is being encouraged to eat more healthily, doing the weekly shop can be a daunting task for many British families. It’s particularly difficult trying to understand things like salt, fat, calorie and sugar content on food labels which can be confusing and vary from one supermarket to another. However the government is planning to introduce a coloured “traffic light” system of food labelling with red warning of “danger” foods that are potentially bad for us and “green” being used on healthier foods. Health Secretary Alan Johnson is hoping that all supermarkets will implement the Food Standards Agency’s new labelling system within the next month. It is thought the new system will help families to adopt a healthier lifestyle and eat a more healthy diet. Let’s hope all their efforts are not in vain!
A special helmet which emits low levels of ultraviolet light could hold the key to reversing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and stopping it dead in its tracks. The helmet works by bathing the brain with ultraviolet light, which in turn stimulates the growth of new brain cells. For best results it needs to be worn for at least ten minutes every day by sufferers in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Researchers at the University of Sunderland believe that the helmet could reverse and stop memory loss and decay in as little as four weeks.
The team have already seen successful results when using ultraviolet light to reverse the symptoms of memory loss in mice. The results led to the creation of the helmet which is now due to be used in further trials on human patients. There are currently at least 500,000 Alzheimer’s sufferers in Britain today with approximately 700,000 dementia sufferers. Alzheimer’s disease charities have described the new treatment as “life changing”. A spokesman said, “A treatment that reverses the effects of dementia rather than just temporarily halting its symptoms could change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people”. The new treatment is certainly a great medical breakthrough, offering hope to Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers everywhere.
There was drama at Heathrow Airport last week after a British Airways passenger jet carrying over a hundred passengers and crew crash landed. Eyewitnesses described how they saw the aircraft “drop like a stone as it “seesawed” on approach with its nose bobbing up and down, stopping short of the runway. It was only thanks to the skilful actions of the captain who managed to glide the plane safely over nearby houses and roads, that a serious disaster was averted. It is thought that engine failure was responsible as the plane (on it’s way back from Beijing), lost power just before coming into land. The plane’s undercarriage was sheared and one wing was almost torn off as it skidded to a halt. Fortunately all the passengers and crew managed to escape to safety with only twelve requiring hospital treatment for minor injuries.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown had a close call himself as his motorcade was on the road beneath the aircraft when it ran into difficulties. Mr Brown was on his way to Heathrow to board a flight to China and India from a nearby runway. His flight was delayed by the incident, the most serious to be experienced at Heathrow for decades. A full investigation has been launched to try and determine the cause of the crash.
As some of my readers know, I love carnivals. Diary From England will be submitting a post to the upcoming Blog Village carnival being held on 28th January at my friend Marsha's blog Family Adventures. Click on the banner shown below to find out more.
Check out Diary From England's posts in the following carnivals online now!
According to the results of a recent UK TV Style survey, a growing number of British patients are too embarrassed to see their GP’s (doctors) about things like bowel complaints and other illnesses of a personal nature, preferring to get advice from internet medical websites and treat themselves instead. A spokesman for the British Medical Association stated that this was a dangerous trend as many so-called medical advisers on the internet are not properly qualified. If you are suffering from a serious medical condition, going onto the net is really no substitute for seeing a doctor. I rarely go to the doctor’s surgery, as I’m pretty healthy, however if I had any medical complaints or illnesses, I would definitely see my GP. I would strongly advise any other readers to do the same.
Polish people it seems are more British than their British counterparts who were born and raised here, according to the results of a test posted on Facebook. The test is a sample version of the Home Office’s “Life in the UK” citizenship test. It was introduced in 2005 and is the last hurdle to cross for any potential immigrants wanting to become permanent residents in Britain. Amongst the questions posed on the Facebook test was, “How often are general elections held in the U.K.?” and “What is the largest ethnic minority in Britain?”
The Poles came top of the class, putting the Brits to shame, who also trailed behind the Germans, New Zealanders, Finns and Swedes. It seems they are all more knowledgeable about Britain than we are. Red Squirrel Publishing, the company who posted the test on Facebook say it is possible to achieve a pass in the citizenship test with study. The company publish guides to help potential immigrants with the test.
Ok now it’s over to Diary From England readers. If you would like to test your knowledge of Britain and see how “British” you are, follow the link shown below:-
One of London’s most popular tourist attractions, The London Eye is seeking a new sponsor after British Airways has ended it’s sponsorship after 8 years. It is thought that Richard Branson’s company Virgin Atlantic is now interested in taking over. A spokesman for the company said that British Airway’s loss was their gain and they would be contacting the owners of The London Eye immediately. Situated on the south bank of the Thames, The London Eye has attracted over 27 million visitors since it was launched in the year 2000. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the city from the world’s largest ferris wheel.
Like a lot of British children, when I was growing up, my brother and I spent many happy hours playing with our Lego bricks. We used to love creating and building lots of different things with them. I can’t believe Lego celebrates its 50th birthday this month. How time flies!
It’s interesting to note too that despite the introduction of more sophisticated toys, to this day Lego still remains as popular as it’s always been with children all over the world. Lego has been voted “the toy of the century” and counts some Hollywood stars, including Matthew Broderick amongst its millions of fans.
Creating models with Lego bricks is good exercise for the brain too. Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond says it helped his recovery after his jet car crash as playing with Lego is really good therapy after a brain injury as it increases spatial awareness. A staggering seven Lego sets are sold every second. You might be surprised to hear that Lego is also the world’s largest tyre manufacturer too, creating over 300 million tyres a year for its miniature vehicles. Amazing!
To find out more click on the link shown below. Happy surfing!
The parents of missing British toddler Madeleine McCann are reported to be considering offers to turn the story of her disapperance into a big budget movie. Apparently the McCanns will only give their ok to the film if they believe it will raise awareness to their daughter’s disappearance. They are also believed to be considering a book deal and selling interviews to boost the Find Madeleine Appeal Fund. Any proceeds will be used to help fund the search for the missing toddler who went missing in Praia da Luz, Portugal last year.
For the fifth year running Princess Anne has proved to be the hardest working member of the Royal family (or the firm as it’s affectionately know by Prince Philip). According to figures released by Buckingham Palace, apart from being a tireless charity worker, the Queen’s only daughter carried out over six hundred official engagements last year. Princess Anne obviously takes after her hardworking mother. The Queen is still working as hard as ever, carrying out over four hundred official engagements last year and shows no signs of slowing down at 81 years old. Princess Anne has always had a strong work ethic and believes that members of the Royal family should earn their keep. The British public is said to consider the Princess Royal (Princess Anne) the Royal family’s most valuable asset after the Queen.
Thameside Council have come up with a controversial plan to go green and do their bit for the environment. The plan is for mourners at Dukinfield Crematorium to be kept warm during the service by the recycled heat generated from their loved ones being cremated! Some people have voiced grave (sorry!!) concerns about the new plan, whilst others think it’s a good idea. Council officials admit it’s a very sensitive issue. However a local minister has given his backing to the plan, saying it’s a lovely way for the dead to provide comfort to the living at a very difficult time. Well that’s one way of looking at it!
We’ve certainly been having some strange weather recently. I couldn’t believe it when weather forecasters issued avalanche warnings for climbers in the Lake District on Saturday. Apparently conditions at Helvellyn, the third highest mountain in England, were the worst in 16 years, with gales, freezing temperatures and up to half a metre of snow. The high winds had also created some unstable sections of ice and snow. Walkers were advised to stay away from the higher peaks until the snow and ice subsides. Avalanches are usually a very rare occurrence in England.
Helvellyn lies in the heart of the Lake District and is popular with climbers. It has been painted by many artists including John Constable. It also inspired a poem by William Wordsworth.
According to The Friends of The Lake District "A walk in the Helvellyn range offers more than just outstanding views over the Lakeland fells, it is a tour of some of the finest elements mountain landscapes have to offer”.
To find out more about Helvellyn, click on the link shown below:-
According to the results of a recent survey many Britons are losing thousands of pounds a year by putting in long hours at work, doing unpaid overtime. Many Brits choose to work through lunch, rather than take a break and also start work earlier and finish later than their normal starting and finishing times, working an average of seven extra unpaid hours every week. In addition many Britons choose to forfeit their holidays, rather than take a break and return to a mountain of work. It’s an all too familiar pattern in the majority of British workplaces, with no proper work and family life balance.
Unfortunately the long hours working culture is now becoming the norm in Britain with the majority of Brits working much longer hours than their European neighbours. Working long hours can lead to increased levels of stress, which in turn causes health problems and low productivity. It can also cause problems with relationships and family life. Maybe we should all make a New Year's resolution to leave work on time for a change.
Liverpool has made a surprise entry in the list of the hottest travel destinations of the year. The European capital of culture beat other more exotic locations like Thailand and Sri Lanka to make the top ten. 14,000 people were questioned in the poll.
Liverpool is indeed a great city with lots to see and do. As many of you know, Liverpool is home of the Beatles. It’s also home to some of the friendliest people in England. If you’re planning a visit to Liverpool, make sure you drop by the Cavern Club, (where the Beatles made their debut), whilst you are there. Apart from the Beatles connection, there are also museums and art galleries to explore on a rainy day or why not take a ferry ride across the Mersey or head to The Maritime Museum. This is apart from the wealth of shops and stores. A day really isn’t long enough to see everything! For more information on Liverpool, please follow the links below:-
At this time of year when the weather is grim and miserable, I always enjoy the holiday ads on t.v. One that particularly caught my eye is the ad for California, featuring Terminator star and Governor of California Arnie Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver. Ugly Betty star Vanessa Williams also features in the ad. It’s very impressive. The sun is shining and everybody is happy and smiling. They all look like they’re having a good time. Everyone looks like they've just stepped off the set of a daytime soap. (Wonder how they all get their teeth so white? They obviously don't drink as much tea and coffee as we do here in England! Or maybe they're all jobbing actors "resting" between jobs!) It looks like life is a 24 hour vacation over there, no deadlines, no demanding bosses, just sunshine and smiles and lots of time for rest and recreation! California Dreaming as the song goes! A great life and just the place you want to be! Well they’ve sold it to me. Expect a mass exodus of Brits coming over to California this Summer! (especially if we have a rainy wet Summer like last year!) I’m heading off on the next plane!
To see the ad for yourself, click on the link shown below and go to Play video on the right hand side of the page:-
P.S. I get quite a lot of American visitors to my blog. I would be interested to hear your thoughts and views on the Visit California advertisement. Is California really a wonderful land of milk and honey, where everyone basks in the sunshine (glass of Chardonnay in hand!) or plays sports all day long or is this really a facade? Is it all too good to be true? I would be interested to hear your comments on this post. As always, please keep it clean - no bad language or profanity! Thanks.
I’m looking forward to seeing the new Bionic Woman series starring British actress Michelle Ryan. I have fond memories of the original series starring Lindsay Wagner. I always thought the special effects were very good and it was a great show for it’s time. I used to enjoy watching Lee Majors as the Six Million Dollar Man too.
I’ve seen the trailers of the new Bionic Woman show and it looks like being every bit as good as the original series. It should be interesting hearing ex-Eastenders actress Michelle Ryan speaking with an American accent too. Apparently she worked with a voice coach in Vancouver to get the accent just right. The Bionic Woman made its U.S. debut with over 13 million viewers. I'm sure the eagerly awaited show will be just as popular over here. It will be shown over here in Britain on ITV2. Can't wait to see it!
A new year is always a time to celebrate. But two people in Britain have a special reason for celebration. Britain's oldest twins Betty Richards and Jenny Pelmore celebrated their 100th birthday and received their telegram from the Queen today.
The sisters are both still driving and have lived to see five different monarchs on the throne. Living proof that you are never too old to learn, the twins took Spanish lessons at the age of 97 to keep their minds active! The sisters say their secret to a long life is to, "just keep smiling and keep going" and to have a "healthy mind and a healthy body". Happy Birthday to both of them!
Britain's oldest man, Henry Allingham, a First World War veteran, celebrated his 111th birthday in June. Amazing!