The bad news is the clocks went forward one hour last night and we’ve all lost one hour’s sleep – no wonder I feel a bit disorientated today! However the good news is lighter evenings and not having to drive home from work in the dark! Just hope we have a better Summer than last year!
Congratulations to XFactor winner Leona Lewis on becoming the first British woman to top the American pop charts in 20 years. Leona’s single, “Bleeding Love” has gone straight to No. 1 in the U.S. Billboard Charts this week. Leona once said that it was her dream to find success in the States. Well now it seems that dream is coming true. Leona has already enjoyed phenomenal success in Britain, with her first single, “A Moment Like This” setting a new Guinness world record after 50,000 downloads in the first half hour and selling nearly 600,000 copies in its first week of release. “Bleeding Love” held the No. 1 spot for 7 weeks in the U.K. music charts, selling over one million copies and becoming the best selling single of 2007. In addition, Leona’s debut album “Spirit” became the fastest selling debut album in U.K. history! The young 22 year old singer from Hackney, East London has never looked back since winning XFactor and has already been compared to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. I personally think she’s better and has an incredible voice.
Now it seems Leona has become America’s sweetheart too. The U.S. nation have taken Leona to their hearts, with her chart topping success following her recent appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show with her mentor Simon Cowell. After hearing Leona sing live on the show, Oprah declared excitedly that “a star is born!” Simon stated that he was incredibly proud of Leona and very, very happy for her. We wish her every success.
To find out more about Leona and to hear her sing, click on the link shown below:-
Technology is a wonderful thing. The advent of computers has made life a lot easier for many people nowadays. I often think how lucky today’s children are, having access to computers in schools and learning IT skills from a young age. Computers hadn’t even been invented when I was growing up. But maybe today’s children aren’t so lucky after all. Computers it seems can be a curse as well as a blessing. According to the rather worrying results of a study by the Institute of Public Policy Research, many of Britain’s children are effectively being raised “online”, addicted to the internet, in their own little virtual world. Many youngsters have computers in their bedrooms and spend up to 20 hours a week surfing the net, often until the early hours of the morning. With many youngsters being more knowledgeable on the computer than their parents, it seems this is becoming a growing problem. Networking sites like Facebook, Bebo and You Tube are particularly popular with youngsters. Many youngsters have also been exposed to scenes of violence and pornography online. So-called violent “happy slapping” videos are regularly viewed by children on sites like You Tube. The majority of parents, it seems, are unaware of what sites their children are visiting online. In addition a growing number of children are playing violent video games classified for over 18’s. Is it any wonder we have the growing problem of violent youth crime in this country! The Institute of Public Policy Research believe that the internet providers should take some responsibility for the content of certain websites and promote acceptable behaviour online.
TV psychologist Dr Tanya Byron who conducted the study on behalf of the Prime Minister has urged parents to ban computers and video games from their children’s bedrooms and instead place them in “family” rooms where usage can be monitored. Another way to keep children safe online is to use blocking devices to stop youngsters visiting certain types of sites. In addition it’s also a good idea for parents to take the time to sit down and talk to children about the dangers online. Maybe limiting the amount of time that children spend surfing would be a good thing too. Spending hours on a computer can’t be healthy, probably the reason why we have the growing problem of childhood obesity nowadays. Encouraging children to go out and play or do sports would be much better for them and would also help them to interact with other children to form real friendships rather than virtual ones.
Dr Byron has recommended a crackdown to stop shops selling violent video games to underage children. She has also recommended that the games should have a cinema style rating to make it easier for parents to understand which ones are suitable for younger children. In addition Dr Byron believes that parents should be given free lessons and advice on how to keep their youngsters safe online. To get further help and advice on keeping your child safe online, follow the links shown below:-
A two part documentary featuring a year in the life of the Prince Phillip (or the Duke of Edinburgh as he is better known) is to be shown on ITV1 as part of a new season line up of programmes. One of the highlights of the programme will feature the Duke of Edinburgh showing veteran broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald around Sandringham, where the Queen and other members of the Royal family regularly spend their Christmas holidays. Situated in Norfolk, Sandringham has been the private residence of four generations of Royal sovereigns since 1862.
A member of the Greek Royal family, Prince Philip was born in 1921. He’s 86 years old and has been married to The Queen since 1947. The Duke of Edinburgh is only the fifth consort to a reigning Queen in British history and gave up his navy career to support the then Princess Elizabeth when she became Queen. The couple have four children and eight grandchildren. Both the Queen and Prince Philip are great-great grandchildren of Queen Victoria. Like his eldest son Prince Charles, Prince Philip takes a great interest in the environment, using an LPG powered taxi cab around London to attend engagements. Apart from being an active supporter of a wide range of charities, the Duke of Edinburgh has also founded his own Duke of Edinburgh national and international award scheme, to introduce young people to new challenges and experiences. The scheme has proved to be extremely successful both here and abroad. 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. Apart from carrying the title of The Duke of Edinburgh, he also carries the titles of The Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.
It's nice to see that tv's Mr Nasty Simon Cowell has a heart after all. The XFactor and American Idol star has taken a young cancer sufferer under his wing and become her "Guardian Angel". Cowell was moved by the Stoen family's plight when he heard about them on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The family from Minnesota were struggling to pay their mortgage and increasing medical bills for their 3 year old daughter Madelaine. Madelaine suffers from an aggressive form of cancer and every day the family travel over 100 miles from their home so that the youngster can have treatment.
In a wonderful selfless act of kindness Simon told the family that as of now their mortgage was paid and he would now become little Madelaine's "Guardian Angel", taking care of her medical bills. Simon said that it had taken him 48 years but he now realised how good it was to give. What a lovely gesture! Mr Cowell has definitely gone up in my estimations. If only more people shared their good fortune like this, the world would be a nicer place.
It seems that many Brits have absolutely no idea about what they pay for gas and electricity and how their bills are calculated. At least 70% of customer complaints received by Energywatch are regarding billing, where users are unable to justify the amounts charged with the energy they believe they have used. In a recent poll many householders said they found gas and electricity bills four times more difficult to understand than bank statements. It's probably just as well really! Gas and electricity prices are rising at such an alarming rate, it's enough to give us all nightmares! Unfortunately we all seem to be at the mercy of gas and electricity suppliers nowadays, particularly in the colder weather. It makes you wonder how people managed without central heating in years gone by, so many of us have come to rely on it nowadays.
It seems experts at the Energy Saving Trust understand our plight. They agree that it is often difficult to link gas and electricity useage with cost and may have come up with a solution. They have recommended that all British householders should have smart meters installed over the next 10 years. The meters would detail exactly how much energy was being used and would show householders which devices are the most expensive to run. In the long term, they would end the problem of inaccurate billing and could save families a lot of money too as well as helping the environment by not wasting energy. Sounds like a good idea to me and with the way fuel prices are rising, it's definitely worth trying!
According to the results of a recent survey, many British schoolchildren think Sir Winston Churchill never existed and believe he is a fictional character. Some associate him with the British Bulldog featured in the tv ads for Churchill car insurance! Others believe he was the first man to walk on the moon! Shame on you! It seems none of the children questioned are aware that Churchill was one of the greatest British Prime Ministers of all time.
And there's more to come. When questioned about Mars, two in five schoolchildren said it was a chocolate bar and had no idea it was actually a planet in our solar system! Incredibly they didn't believe Earth was a planet either! Oh dear! Back to the drawing board!
However on a more positive note, the survey (commissioned by the Royal Astronomical Society and Walt Disney Home Entertainment) revealed that the majority of children are keen to learn more about the universe. Just as well really, judging by the results of this survey - sounds like they need a bit more tuition on the subject!
Ipods are a wonderful invention. Being able to download endless tracks of music from the internet and listen to it as we go about out daily lives is great. I own an Ipod myself and get endless hours of pleasure from it and sometimes wonder how I ever managed without it. However like most things there is a downside. A Manchester professor and hearing expert has warned that millions of Ipod users risk permanent damage to their eardrums and deafness by having the volume turned up too loud. The main problem is that most users don’t realise the damage they are doing to their hearing and It’s all too easy to have the volume turned up too high as we try to drown out background noise. The professor has warned that unless we listen responsibly at safe volume levels, we risk inflicting permanent damage to our hearing. So if you’re an Ipod user, for the sake of your poor ears, turn the volume down!
According to the results of a recent Sunday Times poll, Labour's popularity is at an all-time low, following Alistair Darling's first budget. It is thought that the public have lost confidence in both Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's ability to lead Britain through tough economic times. Many Brits believe that the government has squandered billions of pound of taxpayers' money and are unhappy at being hit with rising bills and high taxes just as the economy is hitting a downward spiral. They are no longer prepared to accept Labour's explanation that the only way to lower taxes is by cuts to essential public services.
The general consensus of opinion is that Britain is heading into recession. With many people worried about losing their jobs, falling house prices and rising food, petrol, gas and electricity prices, it looks like we're all in for a rough ride over the next few months.
Well it's Easter weekend! Bank holidays and road chaos go together like fish and chips! Queues on roads, train and flight delays have been forecast for the weekend. Some experts are even going as far as to predict the worst Easter traffic ever as commuters battle wind, rain, sleet and snow - the worst Easter weather for 25 years! What a lovely prospect!
For a chance to win one of Hotel Chocolat’s stunning Extra Thick Easter Eggs, click on the link shown below:-
I can’t believe how fast this year is flying by. Easter is coming around the corner very quickly again and everyone wants that extra special Easter Egg!
Diary From England has teamed up with Hotel Chocolat to offer you a chance to win some of Hotel Chocolat’s extra special, extra thick Easter eggs.
To enter, click here and simply answer six questions which will take you on an Easter egg hunt to find the secret code. Once you have answered each question, use the first letter of each answer to reveal the secret code.
As many of my readers know, I love chocolate and am in serious danger of becoming a chocoholic! Consequently I couldn’t resist when Hotel Chocolat offered me one of their Serious Dark Fix extra thick Easter eggs to review. The egg was beautifully presented in a gorgeous embossed box, finished with a yellow ribbon. It was so lovely, a delight to behold, it seemed a shame to break into it. However I found it difficult to resist temptation, and opened the box to reveal two 72% dark chocolate shells. The two small bags of dark chocolate pralines contained in the shells were a nice extra surprise.
The chocolate shells and the delicately crafted pralines contained within them definitely taste as good as they look. The dark chocolate is neither too acidic or bitter and contains just the right amount of cocoa butter to melt seductively on the tongue. I’m not normally a lover of dark chocolate, but was pleasantly surprised. This egg was delicious, a gourmet feast for the eyes and palette and would make a beautiful gift for someone special.
Dark chocolate is also packed with natural antioxidants and according to the experts, when eaten in moderation may contribute to improved cardiovascular health. So apart from making a beautiful gift for a loved one, this would make a great gift to help keep their heart healthy too. Like anything in life, moderation is the key! It’s like the old saying, “A little bit of what you fancy does you good” and Hotel Chocolat’s Serious Dark Fix Easter egg certainly tastes as good as it looks.
For a chance to win one of Hotel Chocolat’s stunning Extra Thick Easter Eggs, click on the link shown below:-
There was drama at Heathrow Airport this week when a man carrying a rucksack sprinted onto one of the airport’s busy runways within yards of a packed Emirates passenger jet. He is thought to have scaled a perimeter fence. The incident happened the day before the Queen was due to open the airport’s new Terminal 5. Police were on the scene within minutes arresting the man and detonating his bag in a controlled explosion, although no explosives were found. Onlookers described how they saw the man running towards an aircraft and then dropping his bag, before being restrained by police.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was happy that everything was now being done to ensure that security at Heathrow is intact. This was a major security breech at the UK’s largest and busiest airport and just goes how easy it would be for a terrorist to get onto a runway and in the path of planes. If this man had been a terrorist and had been carrying a bomb, the consequences don’t bear thinking about. This incident could have caused mass destruction and loss of life on a wide scale. Questions definitely need to be asked as to how this happened and security needs to be tightened. Suggestions have been made to bring in the military to patrol Heathrow’s perimeter fence. Measures definitely need to be put in place to stop anything like this happening again. The British public demand nothing less.
Warner Brothers announced this week that they would be releasing the movie version of JK Rowling’s, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in two halves. The first movie is due for release in 2010, with the second movie set for release the following year. Warner Brothers are set to make millions when the final installments of the boy wizard’s adventures hit our cinema screens. Harry Potter has already proved to be the highest grossing movie series of all time beating six Star Wars films and twenty one James Bond movies, to rake in £2.2billion at the box office.
Many Potter fans are outraged at Warner Brothers’ money grabbing tactics, dragging out the last installment of the Potter saga into two separate movies and making them pay twice to see the final installment of Harry Potter’s adventures. However Warner Brothers claim their plan to represent the seven JK Rowling Potter books with eight movies was driven by a desire to stay true to the story. The positive side for many Harry Potter fans like myself is that Harry will now be around on our screens for a bit longer. You may remember a recent article I posted about how an American medical expert has described Harry Potter as being as addictive as being hooked on drugs! Well it seems that Harry Potter fans like myself will now have an extra opportunity to get their fix of the boy wizard’s adventures. Meanwhile Warner Brothers will be laughing all the way to the bank!
According to the results of a Trip Advisor survey, London is as popular now as it’s always been and is a favourite destination for travellers visiting Europe. It’s also second only to Paris for shopping, has the best parks and good nightlife too. However on the minus side, visitors consider it to be the dirtiest city in Europe and the most expensive too.
It’s a shame that the heavy traffic in London has caused it to become quite polluted in recent years. I used to work with somebody who had relatives in London who liked cycling and they said that the cyclists had to wear little masks over their mouths because traffic pollution was so bad. It is expensive but there is so much to see and do in London, it is well worth a visit. Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, The Tower of London, The London Dungeon and The Houses of Parliament are amongst the city’s most popular attractions. In addition London has a thriving arts and theatre scene, with a wealth of wonderful museums and art galleries that are well worth a visit. The West End is wonderful with a great variety of theatres and a great choice of shows, if you’re a theatre lover like myself. The choice of wonderful restaurants in London is endless too with a wide variety of British and international cuisine. There is something to suit everyone’s palette.
It’s not surprising London is a favourite destination for travellers visiting Europe. London has always been a very vibrant city, definitely one of the jewels in England’s crown. I always enjoy my visits there.To find out more and to plan your trip to London, click on the link shown below. Happy surfing!
Details of MP’s (Members of Parliament’s) so called “John Lewis” shopping list were released by the government this week as part of the Freedom of Information Act. It certainly makes interesting reading, detailing how much MP’s can claim to spruce up their second homes. MP’s can claim expenses running into thousands of pounds to cover new bathrooms and kitchens and other household items including tv’s and hi-fis for their second homes and all funded by the taxpayer, up to a limit of £22,000.
Considering most people in this country can’t afford to get on the property ladder and purchase a first home, never mind a second home, this is like a slap in the face and just adds insult to injury. Members of Parliament earn much higher salaries than the rest of us. Being able to afford a second home is living proof of that. These people can well afford to pay for home refurbishments themselves and shouldn’t expect the hardworking taxpayer to fund them. Like many others in Britain, I’m obviously in the wrong job. I’ll have to become an MP in my next life, with all the perks and benefits that go with it including being able to own a second home refurbished at the taxpayers’ expense! Sounds like the ideal job to me! Nice work if you can get it!
It looks like an extra Bank Holiday could soon be on the way. A review commissioned by Prime Minister Gordon Brown has recommended that we should have a special Bank Holiday to celebrate Britishness. The day will be similar to the American 4th July day, Australia Day and the French Bastille Day. It is proposed that the new Bank Holiday would be introduced from 2012 to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, marking her 60th anniversary as ruling monarch and also the London Olympics. Under the new plans, schoolchildren would take part in special citizenship ceremonies at a special “coming of age event. In addition they would also pledge an oath of allegiance to the country but not necessarily the Monarch and to having respect for the law. The review has suggested that youngsters could pledge an oath of allegiance to the country or flag and an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of what it means to be a British citizen. In addition, foreign immigrants who could not afford language lessons, would be given “language loans” to help them to learn English. Also people would be encouraged to do volunteer work in their local community. Those who do will be rewarded with a small council tax rebate for their efforts. Former Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith who made the recommendations believes that his proposals will promote a sense of unity and belonging in Britain, encourage national pride in the country and strengthen British citizenship. Gordon Brown is also keen to introduce a new Bank Holiday but unlike Lord Goldsmith would like it to focus more on our British heritage and in particular the Armed Forces. A petition on the Downing Street website to introduce a Bank Holiday to mark the contribution made by British service personnel has already attracted over 500,000 supporters.
Lord Goldsmith’s proposals have come under fierce criticism from many of the population who think they are a waste of time. Also many anti-Royalists say they would never pledge an allegiance to the Monarch and wouldn’t want their kids to do so either. However my personal view is that the idea of pledging some kind of allegiance is a good idea in theory. Things have gone so wrong in Britain in recent years with rising crime rates, the best thing that could come out of this is it could restore a sense of national pride in the country and promote some kind of unity amongst the people living here. I visited the U.S. a few years ago and was surprised to see how many flags were displayed everywhere. There were flags in shops, offices, churches and some people displayed flags proudly outside their homes. When did you last see any flags on display in this country? If you didn’t know better, you would think that we didn’t have a flag and the Union Jack was non-existent. People’s attitude towards their country in America seems to be so different to here. Everywhere there seems to be that sense of national pride that is sadly lost in Britain. I believe that pledging an oath of allegiance is the norm over there. It might not be such a bad thing to introduce it over here, although I’m sure I’ll come under a lot of criticism from many of my fellow Brits reading this blog, for saying so. I’m already waiting for a rush of comments to flood in on this post! Please keep all comments clean, no matter how strongly you feel about this. Comments containing bad language will not be published.
Making youngsters swear an oath of allegiance to having respect for the law, might be a good thing with the recent frightening rise in youth crime. I also think it would give children, particularly younger children a sense of belonging and appreciation of their country. 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 it 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!
XFactor runner-up and former dustman Andy Abraham has been chosen to represent Britain in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Andy fought off stiff competition from several other acts as the public voted him their hot favourite as Britain’s Eurovision ambassador. The singer pledged to do his very best and vowed to win with his song, “Even If”. The 53rd Eurovision Contest is being held in Belgrade, Serbia in May. Good luck Andy!
Living proof that falling in love has no age limit, a couple with a combined age of 171 married this week and are thought to be amongst Britain’s oldest newlyweds. The happy couple, Dennis Jones 85 and Sophie Scragg 86 met at a day centre five years ago and tied the knot at Wolverhampton Register Office on Tuesday. Proving that chivalry is not dead, Dennis lent his glasses to his new bride so that she could see to sign the register. He described Sophie as a “lovely woman”, saying that he hoped they would enjoy many happy years together. Sophie’s daughter said the couple were perfect together and it was good they could be together and look after one another. However Dennis insisted that he wasn’t marrying Sophie for company but because he loved her. It’s nice to see that love and romance is still alive and well even in this day and age! What a lovely story. Congratulations to both Dennis and Sophie!
The life story of Britain’s Got Talent Winner Paul Potts is to be turned into a Hollywood movie. It’s thought that XFactor judge Simon Cowell will produce the film, outlining the rags to riches story of the ex-mobile phone salesman from South Wales. Paul Potts captured the nation’s hearts with his performance of the opera classic Nessum Dorma, winning the talent show and a £1million recording deal.
Paramount Pictures have reportedly snapped up the movie rights to Paul’s life story and are likening it to the film, “Billy Elliot”. Paul Potts took the decision to enter the Britain’s Got Talent show on the toss of a coin and has never looked back since. His debut album, “One Chance”, sold over 3 million copies and the tenor is preparing to headline 65 concert dates in 13 countries this year. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie myself. Paul’s story is truly heartwarming and proof that dreams really can come true.
To read more about Paul and hear him sing, follow the link shown below:-
As most of my readers know I’m a big Harry Potter fan. Well it seems that Prince Charles is also a big fan of the boy wizard. He confided his love of the Harry Potter films to British actress Julie Walters this week, after presenting her with a CBE for her services to drama. Julie is better known as Ron Weasley’s mum Mrs Weasley in the Potter movies. One of Britain’s most talented actresses, Julie is also known as the Walters half of popular comedy duo Wood and Walters, apart from having a string of movie and tv credits to her name, including Calendar Girls. Well done Julie!
Meanwhile an American medical expert has described Harry Potter as being as addictive as being hooked on drugs! Oh dear! I wouldn’t go that far! Oh well, the eminent professor has apparently found that at least one in ten of the boy wizard’s fans are now suffering withdrawal symptoms after hearing the news that JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows will be the final saga in the boy wizard’s adventures. The professor says that one Potter fan said the news there would be no more Potter adventures felt like someone close to them had died! Unbelievable!
Congratulations to Welsh singer Duffy! A relative newcomer, she has topped the U.K. singles chart for the third week running with her single, “Mercy”. I must admit I wasn’t sure if I liked that song the first time I heard it. However I think it’s one of those songs that grows on you, the more times you hear it. Well done Duffy!
The Ministry of Defence have confirmed that Prince Harry has been serving on the frontline in Afghanistan for the past 10 weeks after an American website leaked details of the Prince’s posting. The Prince was deeply disappointed when he was told he wouldn’t be going to Iraq and considered leaving the army. However he decided to stay when he was given the opportunity of retraining as a battlefield air controller with the chance to fulfill his ambition of serving on the frontline in Afghanistan. Prince Harry who once described his late mother Diana as “the best mum in the world,” said that he believed she was looking down on him whilst he was in Afghanistan. However he explained that the job kept him so busy, he didn’t have time to feel sorry for himself. Prince Harry said he knew many other soldiers in a similar situation to himself, who had also lost parents.
His brother Prince William sent him a letter saying Diana would have been proud of him. I’m sure Diana would have been very proud of both her sons. They are two fine young men and definitely a chip off the old block. The boys are a credit to the Royal family. They should be grateful that Diana was their mother and instilled such great values and lessons into both of them.
Prince William now faces further disappointment at not being able to complete his tour of duty in Afghanistan after the Ministry of Defence this week took the decision to bring him home. The decision was taken for fear that worldwide media coverage had put Prince Harry’s safety and the safety of his fellow troops at risk, making Harry a prime target for the Taliban. Many of Harry’s fellow troops didn’t recognise him or realise he was serving alongside them until they saw the news reports. Prince Harry stated that he just enjoyed, “mucking in” and being “one of the lads”. Prime Minister Gordon Brown described Prince Harry as an “exemplary” soldier, saying that the whole of Britain would be proud of the outstanding service he is giving.
Today we celebrate Mother’s Day in England, a special day when we can show our Mum just how much we love and appreciate her! Traditionally Mother’s Day has always been celebrated (in Britain), on the fourth Sunday of Lent since about the 16th century. The original roots of Mother’s Day probably lie in the church festival of “Refreshment Sunday”, when traditionally people would go back to visit their “Mother” church, i.e. the church where they were baptised. As time went by this custom changed to using the day for people to honour their mothers rather than the church. I’m taking my own Mum out for a meal to celebrate her special day! Happy Mothers Day to any mums reading this!