Well only a few more hours to go and soon it will be Halloween again. Time to get the pumpkins organised and carved into jack-o-lanterns! But more importantly time to get your Halloween costumes ready to go trick or treating or to that special Halloween party. Halloween is originally derived from the Celtic festival of Samhain, a time that marks the end of the Summer and the beginning of the Winter. It’s quite appropriate really as here in England, we have just put the clocks back one hour to mark the end of British Summertime. Nowadays we associate Halloween with people dressing up in Halloween costumes and going trick or treating.
Sadly according to the results of a recent survey, some children will not be going trick or treating this year, particularly those in inner city areas as their parents think it is too dangerous for them to be out in the dark due to the increasing incidences of knife crime and violence. It’s a sad state of affairs unfortunately in modern day Britain.
When I was growing up, we never celebrated Halloween over here in England, even though it has always been a popular holiday in the States. It’s only in recent years that Halloween has become more popular in this country. Halloween has now become a million pound industry in Britain and we are fast catching up with our American neighbours. Halloween is now the most profitable time for British retailers after Christmas and Easter, with a staggering £25million being spent on pumpkins alone. Whole supermarket aisles are now dedicated to Halloween novelties as people shop for Halloween themed food and drink and decorations for their houses. Some people even want Halloween themed outfits for their pets!
One of my personal favourite ways to spend Halloween is to go on a ghost walk where a guide takes a group of people on a walk around supposedly haunted parts of a town or city and tells spooky tales about it. It’s fun and great exercise too! One of my favourite Halloweens was spent at a place called Pendle Hill, home of the Lancashire witch trials. Very spooky! This year, I’ll be going to a Halloween party and have my witch costume all ready!
It always makes me smile when I hear some of the thoughts people from other countries have about England. Many people have read some of the books by British classic novelist Charles Dickens, particularly “A Christmas Carol” and imagine London in particular, to be white in Wintertime and covered in a blanket of snow, just like a scene from one of Dickens’ novels. However you might be surprised to hear that snow is actually quite a rare occurrence in London, particularly in October. However the weather has been particularly cold this week, so cold that London experienced its first October snowfall since 1934. What's the betting we'll have a white Christmas!
Prince Harry is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his brother Prince William by training as a military helicopter pilot. A Clarence House spokesman announced earlier this week that Prince Harry had already taken and passed an initial aptitude test, part of the Army selection process and will begin a four week assessment course next month to determine his suitability to become a pilot. Prospective candidates are graded according to their ability but apparently the failure rate is quite high. If successful Harry will take part in the full Army Air Corps programme and begin flight training in January. Harry’s elder brother William gained his wings earlier this year.
Harry comes from a family of military pilots. Apart from his brother William, Harry’s father Prince Charles and uncle Prince Andrew were both military pilots. Prince Andrew flew Royal Navy helicopters during the Falklands War. Prince Harry himself served on the front line in Afghanistan earlier this year and was bitterly disappointed when the Ministry of Defence took the decision to bring him home for his own safety and that of his fellow troops, after a website revealed his whereabouts making him a prime target for the Taliban.
As many businesses, particularly shops and restaurants struggle to survive the credit crunch, business is booming for one of our favourite fast food chains. McDonalds have reported serving over 100 million customers in the last 3 months up to the end of September. Bosses at the fast food chain put their success down to the fact they have recently revamped many of their restaurants and given their menu an overall too. There is also a good choice of special offer items on the menu which is probably why so many Britons are heading there as they look for cheaper dining options. The only downside is that junk food in excess can be bad for us. But on the other hand, as the old saying goes, “a bit of what you fancy does you good”. Moderation is the key. As most Britons know a McDonalds meal makes great cheap and cheerful comfort food in these recession hit times. Meanwhile Ronald McDonald is laughing all the way to the bank!
The government is constantly recommending everyone to eat their “Five a Day” (five portions of fruit or vegetables per day), to keep our bodies healthy and reduce the risk of many serious conditions like heart disease and cancer. However the results of recent government backed research at Cambridge University recommend “Five a Day” to keep our minds healthy too. Not five fruit and vegetables but five simple actions to keep our minds in good shape. The recommendations are that we should all aim to connect with friends and family, learn new things, help others, keep active and notice the beauty in everyday things.
These are all important factors in our overall happiness and mental wellbeing and university researchers are recommending that we should all aim to do them on a daily basis. Connecting with family and friends is good for us as it gives us support as well as enriching our lives. Learning new things is good as it keeps the mind active, giving us something to focus on. Helping others is rewarding both for ourselves and for those we help. Keeping active helps us to keep fit and the exercise helps us to feel good. It’s just a shame that the government has to remind us all to look for the beauty in everyday things. We live in such a materialistic world that it is sometimes easy to miss the simple things that can give us such pleasure in our everyday lives. Taking notice of and admiring the world around us, helps us to truly appreciate what we have.
Do you fancy living a rock star lifestyle? Well now you can have one and all for the princely sum of £6,000! An American firm is running a six day “Rock ‘n’ Roll” Fantasy Camp” at the famous Abbey Road Studios in London from November 4th, where prospective rock stars can learn how to play from the likes of former Beatles drummer Pete Best, Pink Floyd drummer, Nick Mason and ex Stones bassist Bill Wyman. The finale of the course is playing in a gig at the world famous Cavern Club, where the Beatles made their debut. Sounds like the stuff dreams are made of to me and it certainly is for those lucky enough to be able to afford it.
David Fishof, the promoter of the course, says it attracts many kinds of people from all walks of life. He describes time spent at the rock camp as a life changing experience, saying it’s something you can’t really put a price on and when you come out of it you are a different person. It’s only the second time the course has been hosted in London, although it has been running in the States for 11 years. So what are you waiting for, if you fancy yourself as a budding Roger Daltrey or Bill Wyman and you have £6,000 to spare, click on the link shown below:-
It was interesting to hear of the Queen and Prince Philip’s recent visit to the Google headquarters in London. During the visit, the royal couple were shown some Google searches on topics including Buckingham Palace and the royal corgis. The Queen was also reduced to giggles after being shown one of You Tube’s most popular videos of a laughing baby in a high chair. The video has already received more than 63 million views. The Queen described the baby as a “lovely little thing” and said it was amazing that a child would laugh like that. Google’s homepage logo was also given a makeover for the day to mark the Queen’s visit and featured a profile of her Majesty wearing a crown.
Despite being in her eighties, the Queen is very much in touch with modern technology. Like many grandmothers, she regularly e-mails her grandchildren, some of whom introduced her to the famous video sharing website You Tube. Although she did admit to not owning a computer until four years ago, the Queen is certainly very IT literate. Her Majesty made history last Christmas when she posted her annual Christmas message to the nation on You Tube, becoming the first monarch to do this. The Queen’s speech appeared on a special dedicated Royal Channel also launched in December 07 on You Tube. The Royal Channel received more than one million visitors during its first week of launch, making it one of the most popular and fastest growing channels of all time. The Queen was given the task of uploading a new clip to the popular channel during her visit to Google. Apart from the Queen’s speech, the Royal Channel also features a special regal homepage showing archive footage of Britain’s royal family. Click on the link shown below to find out more:-
As some of my readers know I love the U.S. show Ugly Betty. It’s one of my favourite programmes and a very popular show here in England. I was watching the last episode of the current series the other night. I was interested to see my namesake, Naomi Campbell making a guest appearance. She was seen playing in a charity baseball game. It made me laugh when her phone was ringing, she picked it up to answer it and everybody ducked! I’m sure Naomi will never live that particular incident down!
The name Naomi is Hebrew Jewish and also a bible name. It was quite rare when I was growing up, with the most famous Naomis being the writer Naomi Jacobs and the yachtswoman Naomi James. However now Naomi Campbell has come along and changed all that and made the name more popular than ever.
I always remember going to a job interview a few years ago and the person interviewing me looked a bit surprised when I walked in. She said to me that she hadn’t expected me to be white. The interviewer said, “Oh I thought you would be black as Naomi Campbell is black!” I remember thinking what a stupid statement that was. I couldn’t believe that companies would entrust interviews to people like that! It doesn’t give prospective candidates a very good impression of the company when you hear comments like that. Times have certainly changed a lot since then.
I love the new Australia Tourism ad currently airing on British tv. Produced by Baz Luhrmann (of Moulin Rouge fame), it features a stressed out British (probably single!) career woman feeling the pressures of work and life! An Aborigine child (her fairy godmother!) appears, drops some fairy dust (or is it Australian sand!) into her hand and as if by magic she is whisked off to Oz, a welcome release from the pressures of work. From the ad, it’s almost like she has arrived in an unspoilt paradise and met the man of her dreams, all at the same time! No doubt it was part of a clever marketing plan by the Australian High Commission as they try to tempt away our talented single women with promises of sun, sand and the chance to find their Mr Right, particularly in South Australia, where we’re told 50.4 per cent of the male population is single compared to 34.7 per cent here. The Australians believe that Britain is full of dissatisfied young, talented British careerwomen who are disillusioned with their menfolk and boast that they can offer them a much better quality of life with many sporty (and no doubt bronzed!) suitors on offer! Oh the wonders of modern marketing! I have to admit the tourism ad definitely sold Australia to me. It looks like a great holiday destination. I'm not sure if I would want to live there though!
Australia has always held a special place in British people’s hearts. Popular Australian soaps like Neighbours and Home and Away have certainly helped to boost Australia’s tourist trade. Rolf Harris, one of Australia’s most famous exports is a popular household name here. As a child, I grew up watching Skippy, the popular show about the bush kangaroo. Australia is now a popular choice of holiday destination for many Brits. In addition an estimated 50,000 Brits choose to make Australia their new home every year. And who can blame them. Many are tempted by the 300 days of sunshine that Australia enjoys every year and see it as a welcome retreat from the cold weather and rising costs of living in England. To see the latest Australia Tourism ad, click on the link shown below:-
The Queen is opening up the gardens of Buckingham Palace to the public for the first time in 200 years. For £20 a ticket, visitors will be able to wander round what has been described as “a large oasis” in the centre of London. The gardens are the largest of their kind in the capital and apart from the many varieties of trees and wild flowers, tourists will also be able to view the Palace tennis court where Fred Perry played against George VI in the 30’s. The garden also boasts the oldest private helicopter pad in central London. Visitors will also have a chance to admire the 19th century lake, the central feature of the gardens.
The Palace gardens are regularly used for Royal family celebrations and official entertaining and are the scene of the Queen’s annual Summer garden parties. Public tours will run in April, May and June, when the Queen is not in residence and will be limited to twenty five visitors at a time. All monies from the tours will go towards the upkeep of the gardens. The Queen first opened the state rooms of Buckingham Palace to the public in 1993. It is now one of London’s most popular tourist attractions, boasting over 360,000 visitors a year. To find out more, click on the link shown below:-
Former Beatle Ringo Starr has angered fans by telling them to stop sending him fan mail. In a video posted on his website, Ringo tells fans that he has “too much to do”, to answer fan mail. Giving a deadline of 20th October, Ringo warns that any mail received after that date will be thrown into the bin. He has also warned fans not to send him anything to autograph. Presumably this will end up in the bin as well! It seems that Ringo has been inundated with fan mail since his appearance in an episode of The Simpsons a few years ago where he made a vow to answer all fan mail he received.
Ringo’s comments have provoked an angry reaction from some fans who accused him of biting the hand that feeds him. After all where would Ringo or The Beatles for that matter have been without their loyal army of fans all these years? It is their legion of fans that gave both Ringo and The Beatles the fame, wealth and success they still enjoy to this day. Other fans reacted more calmly saying it was understandable that Ringo had enough of signing autographs and fan mail after 45 years in the limelight! Ringo has already angered many Liverpool residents after making dismissive comments about his home city, resulting in the decapitation of a statue of him!
It’s official Birmingham is Britain’s ugliest city. According to the results of a recent poll it is home to some of the ugliest buildings in Britain. Birmingham’s famous shopping centre, “The Bullring” came top of the list as Britain’s ugliest building. Birmingham’s Central Library came in at No.2 on the list and Birmingham’s Spaghetti Junction was also mentioned in the top 10. Even Prince Charles once condemned the Central Library, saying it resembled an incinerator more suited to burning books than storing them! Oh dear! It’s interesting to note that Birmingham’s Central Library could soon have the last laugh as English Heritage have recommended that it should have listed building status as it “defines an era” of the city’s history. I actually visited Birmingham on a day trip a while ago and didn’t think it was all that bad. I liked The Bullring shopping centre and thought it was very easy to find your way round. I found the people there very sociable and friendly too. But obviously the majority of the people surveyed don’t agree with me. Apparently many local people would like to see the Eiffel Tower or something similar in the middle of the city. By contrast, the famous French landmark was voted the most beautiful building in Europe.
Manchester’s Arndale Shopping Centre, Edinburgh’s Scottish Parliament Building and the Newcastle sculpture Angel of the North also came under fierce criticism for being ugly. Some people went as far as saying they would like to see Birmingham’s Spaghetti Junction, Liverpool’s Liver Building and also Plymouth’s Drakes Circus demolished as they are such eyesores.
Gordon Brown has announced that he is moving out of No. 10. But don’t put the flags out just yet! The move is only temporary. Mr Brown and his team of key advisers need more space for their meetings to try and find solutions to the current global credit crisis. Under normal circumstances, the PM would be able to get the builders in to knock down walls to make more space. However as No. 10 is a listed building, major structural alterations are out of the question. Consequently our embattled PM has taken the decision to move himself and his advisers lock, stock and barrel into No.12, where they will direct operations from an open plan “war room”, although cabinet meetings will still continue to be held at No. 10. Currently No. 12 is home to the PM’s Press Office and the strategic communications unit.
By moving out of No. 10, Mr Brown has broken with more than 275 years of tradition. No. 10 Downing Street has been the seat of government since 1735. It is thought that Gordon Brown got his inspiration for the open plan office from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who also has one.
As some of you know, I quite often receive funny e-mails from work colleagues and friends. I wanted to share this one with you. Here are some images of Credit Crunch Britain to lighten your day! Will one be wanting fries with that?
(Oh dear! What's the world coming to - Her poor Majesty reduced to working in a burger joint!)
(Our favourite quiz show renamed! If the prices of petrol continue to soar, there'll be no shortage of eager Britons wanting to play for this. I'll be first in the queue!)
Rocker Rod Stewart has offered to perform for free at a private family party to celebrate Prince Charles’ 60th birthday. The Prince will be celebrating at his Highgrove home the day before his actual birthday on 14th November. Rod whose hits include, “Sailing” and “Maggie May”, usually charges £1million to perform at private functions. However he has waived his fee on this occasion, offering Prince Charles a free performance as a special birthday gift. A spokesman stated that Rod Stewart would provide the main musical entertainment at the party. Rod is a personal friend of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla and also an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust.
Forbes magazine has named Harry Potter author JK Rowling as the highest earning author in the world, describing her as “a children’s literary sensation”. Harry earns his creator a staggering £5 per second! Wow! According to American business magazine Forbes, JK earned a whopping £170million last year alone, leaving the other writers on the list including James Patterson far behind. In addition, the author earns millions from merchandising and the big screen versions of Harry’s adventures.
JK Rowling is certainly laughing all the way to the bank after the phenomenal success of the Harry Potter books which have sold over 375 million copies worldwide. The boy wizard’s adventures have transformed her life, taking JK Rowling from being a single mum living on benefits to a billionaire. JK Rowling stated that she considered herself to be, “immensely privileged”, saying, “I am the luckiest woman in the world”.
Eighties pop sensation Rick Astley is a surprise nominee for the title of “Best Act Ever” at the MTV Europe Music Awards which will be broadcast live from Liverpool on 6th November. Rick will compete against the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Madonna and U2 to win the coveted title. The winner will be nominated online by fans and announced at the ceremony.
Rick’s new found popularity is partly due to the recent internet craze of “Rickrolling”, where unsuspecting net users click on a link and are taken to a video of Rick Astley’s hit song, “Never Gonna Give You Up”. The craze led to millions of plays of Rick’s hit song. It’s happened to me a couple of times, even though I’m a big Rick Astley fan anyway. “Never Gonna Give You Up”, was one of my favourite hit songs. I always loved that song. Millions of other people did too and it reached No. 1 in the U.K. charts in 1987. “Never Gonna Give You Up”, enjoyed similar success abroad, becoming a No.1 hit in 15 other countries. Thanks to the Rickrolling phenomenon, Rick has now gained a whole new generation of fans. MTV’s Senior Vice President, Richard Godfrey said, “The audience has spoken and MTV has been well and truly “Rickrolled”. The singer has never before been nominated in the event’s history but now his many fans out there have decided that he deserves recognition as an 80’s pop icon. We wish him every success. To see Rick in action, click on the link shown below:-
I was a big fan of the tv series, “Brideshead Revisited”. It was probably one of the greatest tv adaptations of a classic British novel ever created. The series featured the cream of British acting talent including Anthony Andrews, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Olivier and Sir John Gielgud. Based on one of the most celebrated books in English literature by Evelyn Waugh, the tv series enjoyed great success, winning two Golden Globe awards, seven BAFTA’s and an Emmy for Lord Olivier.
The film version of Brideshead enjoyed its U.K. premiere this week. Starring Emma Thompson as the overbearing matriarch Lady Marchmain, the screen version of Brideshead is far darker and more serious than the popular tv series. The story centres around the friendship and later three way love story between Charles Ryder (played by Matthew Goode), the drunken and doomed aristocrat Sebastian (Ben Whishaw) and his beautiful and sophisticated sister Julia (played by Hayley Atwell). After meeting at university Charles and Sebastian become inseparable, culminating in Charles spending the Summer at Sebastian’s ancestral home, Brideshead. Charles becomes entranced with the Marchmain family and Brideshead but soon finds his atheist beliefs at odds with the family’s Roman Catholic beliefs. Set in the pre WWII era, Brideshead Revisited tells the story of loss of innocence and forbidden love.
The Marchmain family’s ancestral home, Brideshead Castle is more like a museum than a stately home, with many years of family secrets hidden within its walls. The family lineage is one based on lies, deception and an unflappable faith in God. Once again Castle Howard which featured as Brideshead Castle in the original tv series, plays host to the aristocratic Marchmain family in the big screen adaptation. Another stalwart and icon from the original Brideshead tv series is the little teddy bear Aloysius. Who could forget him! The little bear also features as Sebastian’s constant companion in the movie version too. With a great cast and wonderful locations, the big screen version of Brideshead Revisited looks like enjoying similar success to the tv series and certainly has all the ingredients of a hit movie. Can’t wait to see it! To view the trailer, click on the player shown below:-
It seems that British women are paying a high price for their love of high heels, with many suffering from painful conditions including bunions, bent toes, damaged big toe joints, corns, in-growing toenails and trapped nerves. Ouch! Sounds painful! Injuries due to wearing heels are costing the nation’s women a staggering £29million a year! Wow! Many women are opting for private treatment due to long waiting lists for operations and procedures to repair injuries to damaged feet. One podiatrist recommended that women should alternate between wearing high heels and flat shoes, to give their bodies a chance to recover. It seems that wearing high heels for long periods of time is bad news for the health of our feet and our wallets! Even former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham recently admitted to suffering from painful bunions due to her love of wearing 4 inch stillettos!
I think there is a certain amount of glamour attached to wearing high heels. They do help women to feel better when they are feeling down, raising their self esteem and making them feel more confident about themselves. In addition they also add a bit of height if you’re not very tall and make your legs look longer and slimmer! According to the results of a recent survey done last year by Compeed, almost half of British women (48%) stated that they felt more confident when wearing high heels at work and nearly a quarter (24%) felt more assertive and acknowledged by others. It’s also interesting to note that almost a fifth of women (18%) believed that wearing high heels could have a positive effect on their work life giving them a greater chance of promotion. Despite the agonies caused by heels, over 78% of British women admit to wearing them, implying they are not willing to trade style for comfort. So there we go!
Former Spice Girl Mel B who now spends most of her time living and working in the U.S., is planning to auction off the contents of her London home to the highest bidder. The items up for auction include some of Mel’s treasured Spice Girls memorabilia, with all proceeds from the sale going to a cancer charity. Big hearted Mel, better known as Scary Spice is following in the footsteps of Ozzy Osbourne, who sold the contents of his Beverley Hills home in aid of charity. The Spice Girls were one of the most popular girls groups of all time. However after a successful run of hit records the girls split up and went their separate ways, embarking on solo careers. Mel B recently wowed American audiences with her appearance in the U.S. version of Strictly Come Dancing, "Dancing with the Stars".
Eager fans can log on to Mel B Sale.com between now and October 26th to get themselves a piece of Spice Girls memorabilia. Amongst the items up for grabs is Mel’s trademark leopard print outfit from her Spice Girls’ days and her personal copy of “Spiceworld – The Movie”. All proceeds from the sale go to CLIC Sargent, a charity that cares for children and young people suffering from cancer. Mel B said that she was happy to contribute to such an important cause and stated, “I hope people have fun bidding on a piece of me!” I think this is a wonderful gesture on Mel’s part. If only more people shared their good fortune like this, the world would be a nicer place. So what are you waiting for, log on to Mel B Sale.com now for a chance to get your hands on some treasured Spice Girls memorabilia!