Sunday, October 11, 2009

SUSAN BOYLE'S NEW ALBUM TOPS BESTSELLER LIST ON AMERICAN AMAZON

Like a lot of other Susan Boyle fans out there, I’m eagerly awaiting the release of her new album. It’s one of most hotly anticipated album releases of the year. Many thousands of U.S. fans have already flooded Amazon.com with pre-orders for the album, “I Dreamed a Dream”, some three months before it’s due to go on sale. It has already topped their bestseller list. Wow! To hear Susan singing “Wild Horses” on “America’s Got Talent”, click on player shown below:-

Monday, October 05, 2009

NAME THAT TUNE SET TO RETURN TO OUR SCREENS


I was interested to hear that Channel 5 are planning to revamp and relaunch the old quiz show, “Name That Tune” with Ant and Dec as presenters. I remember that show well. I always used to think it was very good. (I'll name that tune in one note!) Comedian Tom O’Connor was at the helm in those days. It’s funny how some of the old shows are starting to make a comeback. I used to enjoy “Mr and Mrs” with Derek Batey too. The 21st century version is even better, hosted by Fern and Phil.

How many of the old game shows do you remember and which ones were your favourites? I enjoyed “The Golden Shot” presented by Bob Monkhouse and “Celebrity Squares” (which he also presented). I also used to enjoy “321”. Who can forget the star of the show Dusty Bin and presenter Ted Rogers with his wonderful upbeat humour! Bull’s Eye (you can’t beat a bit of bully!) and Play Your Cards Right ("it could still be a big night if you play your cards right!" according to host Bruce Forsyth’s catchphrase) were also firm favourites.

For a trip down Memory Lane, click on the link shown below:-

UK Game Shows

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

GUINNESS CELEBRATES 250TH BIRTHDAY


Ireland led the way as Guinness recently celebrated its 250th birthday with live music in Dublin’s pubs. Singer Tom Jones began the celebrations at The Guinness Storehouse, one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions. Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen hailed the anniversary of Ireland’s unofficial national drink as “an excuse for having a great party!” As some of my readers know, I’m part Irish and do sometimes enjoy a drop of the “black stuff” myself, usually on St Patrick’s Day!

However Guinness isn’t just popular with the Irish, it’s now a global phenomenon with some 10 million pints being drunk every day in over 100 countries of the world! It’s hard to believe it’s now 250 years old! To read more about the history of Guinness and how it all started, follow the link shown below:-

Guinness Official Website

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NAOMI'S BACK


Hello Everybody

I'm back blogging again after my break. I was only away for 4 days but we crammed so much in during that time. My Mum and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip. We spent the first day in Lincoln. It’s a really nice city. We visited Lincoln Cathedral which sits high on top of Steep Hill, dominating the skyline of this ancient city. Steep Hill, as the name suggests, is just that, a very steep hill in the heart of Lincoln. If you are fit, it is a bit of a climb to get to the top of the hill but well worth it! However for those not so able-bodied or if you just want to take life at a more leisurely pace, you can take a bus ride to the top of the hill and then back down again!

Day Two saw us in Cambridge. We had a wonderful visit to King's College and toured around the chapel and grounds. King’s College Chapel is a stunning piece of architecture and a “must-see” if you are visiting Cambridge. Founded by Henry VI in 1441, King’s is one of Cambridge’s oldest colleges and is best known for its chapel, one of the outstanding medieval buildings of Europe. Next on our list was Clare College, the second oldest college in Cambridge with the oldest surviving river bridge. We ended our trip to Cambridge with a leisurely punt on the river. Wonderful! We spent the remainder of the day in the relaxing surroundings of the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens, a haven of beautiful gardens and glasshouses with the best arboretum in the East of England.

Day Three found us travelling to Norfolk. We visited Norfolk Lavender in the morning . It was a good chance to see many different varieties of lavender. I never realised there were so many! The Gift Shop is also well worth a visit. It stocks the full range of Norfolk Lavender’s famous products, together with a wide choice of other gifts to suit all pockets. The tearoom specialises in cream teas, freshly baked cakes and lunches. I purchased some lavender honey which had a delicious flowery taste. Apparently according to popular folklore, it’s particularly good for those with respiratory conditions or asthma. In the afternoon, we visited Sandringham which for me was the highlight of the trip. Set in 60 acres of stunning gardens, Sandringham is the Queen’s Norfolk retreat. It is neither a palace or a castle but a private residence of the British Royal family and not part of the Crown estate. The main ground floor rooms (which are regularly used by the Royal Family), are open to the public and it’s really interesting to take a peak inside. The Queen and her family regularly spend Christmas at Sandringham. The first televised Christmas broadcast (when the Queen addresses the nation) was broadcast from there. Apart from the vast and extensive gardens and grounds which are wonderful to explore on a warm, sunny day, there is also a church and museum which adds to the enjoyment of a visit. The Church of St Mary Magdalene dates back to the 16th century and is regularly used by the Royal Family and the estate staff as a place of worship. The museum holds a wonderful collection of unique artefacts and vehicles. I enjoyed looking at the royal cars on display, particularly a miniature silver Aston Martin that was on display. It was presented to the Queen for Prince Andrew when he was a child Those are the kind of cars that dreams are made of!

The fourth and final day of our trip was spent in Peterborough. We spent an enjoyable couple of hours visiting Peterborough Cathedral. Situated in the heart of the city centre, it provides a wonderful haven of peace and tranquillity away from the hustle bustle. The magnificent cathedral church was given cathedral status by Henry VIII in 1541. Prior to that it had been one of the great Benedictine Abbey churches. Henry VIII's first queen Katharine of Aragon is buried at the cathedral. We were lucky enough to see a special Henry VIII exhibition which was on display in the cathedral on the day we visited. It was very interesting.

I’m back home again now and will be posting some photos of my trip to share with you all very soon. Watch this space!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

NAOMI'S AWAY


I'm heading off down South again tomorrow for another well-earned rest, so this will be my last post before I go away. Like many people here, I'm holidaying in England this year. I'm going to be spending a few days touring around the Cambridge and Sandringham area. Fingers crossed for good weather! Hopefully I'll be able to get some good photos to post on here.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my friends Kyle and Svet from
Windows to Russia for the great little vacation banner they made for me. Windows to Russia is a wonderful site and well worth a visit. It's full of very interesting and informative posts and gives a great insight into life in Russia by a couple who live there. Kyle is originally from the States and moved to Russia after meeting his Russian wife Svet. Kyle and Svet also maintain several other sites too; Windows to Russia - Video, Windows to Russia - News, Windows to Russia - Sports and Windows to Russia - CCCP. They are all great sites and well worth a visit.

I'll be back posting again very soon. See you when I get back!

SEPTEMBER 11TH - THE NATION REMEMBERS

Tomorrow will be September 11th, a day when we remember all the brave men and women who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks, the day the world changed forever. I watched a program recently which featured families remembering some of their loved ones who were trapped in the burning towers on that fateful day. One man still had the poignant voice message that his new bride had left him, telling him that she loved him. The young woman worked on one of the high upper floors of one of the towers. We can only imagine what went through those people's minds that day. It must have been devastating both for those involved and for the loved ones they left behind.

We will never forget the events of that terrible day, they will be etched in our minds forever. Our hearts go out to those who lost their loved ones that day. They are gone but certainly not forgotten. May they all rest in peace.

BEATLES DIGITALLY REMASTERED INTO 21ST CENTURY


We celebrated Beatles Day here in England yesterday, with the news that the whole catalogue of Beatles hits has now been digitally re-mastered at Abbey Road Studios! A treat for Beatles’ fans everywhere! The Fab Four now sound better than ever!

In addition the Beatles Rock Band video game was also launched yesterday. It’s a game that children, parents and grandparents can enjoy playing together – a chance to be your own Beatle! Sounds good to me!

Who can forget John, Paul, George and Ringo. Discovered at The Cavern Club, they were four lads from Liverpool better known as "The Fab Four" to their fans. They became famous in the sixties with such hits as "Help, "Ticket to Ride" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and went on to become one of the most successful pop bands of all time. They also had a big impact on society through both their music and fashion style, with their collarless jackets, psychadelic fashions and "mop-top" hair cuts. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 40 years since the Beatles were together in a studio. The Beatles are still as popular as ever in the U.K. and indeed throughout the world. The Fab Four are now set to gain a whole new legion of fans as youngsters discover their music through the Beatles Rock Band game!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

LIVES PUT AT RISK BY 999 HOAX CALLS


Today (being the 9/09/09), the Emergency Services have revealed details of some of the hundreds of time-wasting calls they receive every year. Amongst them was a call from a man about leaving his coat on the bus and another from a lady making a complaint about somebody drawing on the pavement! Unbelievable! The Emergency Services warned that lives are continually being put at risk by hoaxers blocking up the lines with minor complaints.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

WINDSOR & BATH TRIP

STOP PRESS! I've just uploaded some photos to my Flickr album from my recent trip. Click on the Flickr album in the left hand column of this blog to find out more.

Happy viewing!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

VICTORIA BECKHAM LANDS GUEST SPOT ON IDOL


I’m really enjoying the new series of XFactor. It’s one of my favourite shows. I’m quite surprised that some people don’t like the new format. I personally think it’s a great idea to hold the auditions in front of a large studio audience. I think lessons need to be learnt after what happened with Susan Boyle and it’s more important than ever to get potential Xfactor contestants used to performing in front of a live audience. They need time to build up their confidence and get used to being in the limelight if they are fortune enough to go the distance in the show. Meanwhile across the pond, Victoria Beckham is celebrating after landing a guest judge spot on American Idol, in the wake of Paula Abdul’s departure. Victoria has been trying for some time to raise her profile in the States and appearing on Idol will certainly help to do that. Then again according to news reports this week, Victoria’s performance on the show has been strongly criticized for being “too nice”. Well at least she’s not being criticized for being nasty like a certain Mr Cowell!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

EDINBURGH TOP CITY TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE


Edinburgh has been named the top city that most people would like to see before they die in a recent poll by hotel chain Travelodge. Scotland’s capital city pipped both Liverpool and Bath to the post to win the coveted title. It seems Edinburgh is the place everyone wants to visit. Not surprising really as there is lots to see and do there.
Edinburgh Castle, Holyroodhouse, the Royal Botanic Garden and
the Royal Yacht Britannia (to name but a few!) are all well worth a visit. Edinburgh is an award winning, world class tourist destination. I have visited there on a few occasions myself. As a child, one of my favourite tourist attractions was that of Greyfriars Bobby, a statue erected in memory of the little Skye terrier who guarded his master’s grave until the day he died.

The Edinburgh Festival is well worth a visit too. Some of the country’s best entertainers, musicians and comedians have showcased their talents there over the years. The Edinburgh Tattoo is also a fantastic event and well worth going to see. The writer Robert Louis Stevenson once described Edinburgh as “what Paris ought to be”. It seems the Scottish accent is very popular too. Edinburgh was also voted the city where the locals had the sexiest accent! It’s certainly a great city well worth visiting. To find out more, click on the link shown below:-

Edinburgh - Inspiring Capital

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

STRICTLY CELEBRITIES REVEALED



Find out more on the show at:-
www.bbc.co.uk/strictlycomedancing

Follow @bbcstrictly on Twitter

Sign up for text alerts at:- http://www.bbc.co.uk/strictlycomedancing/news/text_club.shtml

Sunday, August 16, 2009

FANS CELEBRATE ABBEY ROAD 40TH ANNIVERSARY

Millions of Beatles fans made a pilgrimage to London’s Abbey Road recently to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the famous album. The celebrations brought traffic to a complete standstill as a Beatles tribute band walked along the zebra crossing made famous by the Fab Four and featured in the photo on the front of their album. Meanwhile fans gathered around the crossing singing Beatles songs. The Beatles definitely put Abbey Road on the map and made it part of musical history. The Fab Four recorded some of their best music in the Abbey Road studio nearby. It’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years since the Beatles crossed Abbey Road in London’s St John’s Wood, creating one of the most recognisable and iconic album covers of all time in the process. How time flies!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

RECESSION HIT BRITS FOLLOWING IN WOMBLES FOOTSTEPS


Most people remember the Wombles of Wimbledon Common. Created by author Elizabeth Beresford, the pointy-nosed furry creatures lived in burrows on Wimbledon Common. They helped the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in useful and ingenious ways. The Wombles became nationally famous in the mid 70’s as a result of their popular tv show and also popular novelty songs which were released about them. I used to love The Wombles. Who can forget Uncle Bulgaria and friends!

It seems that the Wombles are as popular today as they have always been and according to the results of a recent survey over one in ten of the 2,000 people who took part say they most relate to the pointy nosed furry creatures, making good use of things that other people throw away. The recession has certainly made us Brits more resourceful. Many Brits now admit to baking bread, walking and cycling more, cooking meals from scratch and growing their own fruit and vegetables. Apparently Scrooge is the character that most of us relate to most when it comes to looking after our personal finances. However far from becoming a nation of misers, it seems that the current tough economic times have brought out the best in all of us. The majority of Brits believe that the recession has been life changing and completely changed the way they think about money. The top five money saving measures adopted by today’s Brits include ditching their gym memberships in favour of walking and cycling; collecting money off coupons before dining out; shopping more in charity shops; using leftovers to make soups and casseroles rather than throwing them away and switching from bottled to tap water.

Some Brits who were interviewed admitted going to even more extreme measures to save money including saving money on razors by growing a beard (oh dear!) and training the cat to use the loo to save on cat litter! (Well that is taking things a bit far! Ha ha!) Reminds me of Mr Jinx, the clever cat on Meet the Fockers!

Monday, August 10, 2009

NEW POINTS SYSTEM TO GAIN BRITISH PASSPORT


The government is planning to launch a new points based system for foreign immigrants wishing to gain British citizenship. Under the new system immigrants can gain extra points by learning to speak English, becoming active members of political parties or trade unions and doing voluntary work in the community. However points will be deducted for bad behaviour including anti-social behaviour and taking part in anti-war demonstrations, The Australian style points-based system also proposes harder language and history tests for any prospective British citizens, before full citizenship can be awarded. Under the new system it may take foreigners several years before they are able to gain a British passport. Immigration Minister Phil Woolas stated that the new proposals were designed to control immigration and encourage integration. It’s almost like the format for a new tv gameshow, “Who wants to be a British citizen?” Collect enough points and you can gain the ultimate prize – a British passport! Let’s hope the new system works.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

REAL LIFE MIDSOMER MURDER


I always enjoy a good murder mystery and one of my favourite shows is Midsomer Murders”. One of my work colleagues jokes that there must be hardly anybody left in that village, so many people have come to a grisley end since the series started! The fictional village of Midsomer must be one of the most dangerous counties in the land! Don’t think I’d like to live there! However now Midsomer (or rather one of the real life villages in Buckinghamshire used to film several episodes of the show) has become the scene of a real life murder investigation after a pensioner’s body was found in a field. Police are now conducting a murder investigation and have stepped up patrols in the area, after reassuring locals that (unlike fictional Midsomer!) incidents of this kind are very rare in the village. Anybody who saw anything suspicious in connection with the death is urged to get in touch with Det Chief Insp Pete Vigurs at Aylesbury police station on 0845 8 505505. Sounds like they need to get Inspector Barnaby on the job!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

VOLUNTEERS REQUIRED TO EAT CHOCOLATE!


As a chocoholic, I was very interested to hear about clinical trials being run by a hospital in Norwich and the University of East Anglia. Prospective women volunteers will be required to eat chocolate every day for a year to test its health benefits! Oh well it’s a tough job but somebody has to do it! (Sounds like the ideal job for me!) One group of volunteers will be required to eat two pieces of a special super strength Belgian chocolate every day, whilst another group will be required to eat normal chocolate as a placebo. Sounds good to me and it’s all in the name of medical science! Apparently researchers are trying to find out whether eating chocolate can help to cut the risk of heart disease and need forty women volunteers to help them. Unfortunately there is a catch! Volunteers need to be menopausal, aged under 75 and also have type two diabetes. ?The women will be monitored and given regular health checks whilst consuming the chocolate. It is hoped that the study will help to determine whether the flavonoid compounds in chocolate can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. If successful, the results of the trials could be the first step in helping to improve the lives of those people at increased risk of heart disease. All the more reason for prospective volunteers to come forward! After all it isn’t every day that you get the chance to indulge yourself in the name of science!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

SWINE FLU HELPLINE LAUNCHED


A special telephone helpline service for victims of swine flu has just been launched in England this week. Capable of answering a million calls a week, the special phoneline is part of England’s National Pandemic Flu Service.

The helpline service has come under fierce criticism as it isn’t staffed by medical professionals but by call centre staff with no medical training. The idea is that it will take some pressure off the NHS hospitals and GP’s surgeries. The government argue that the helpline is a quick and easy way for patients to get access to Tamiflu and other anti-viral drugs, without a visit to a GP surgery or hospital. However it is all too easy for medical professionals to make a wrong diagnosis so there is a real risk that the helpline staff could wrongly diagnose somebody too. There is always a danger that swine flu symptoms could mask a much more serious condition like meningitis.

Suspected swine flu sufferers will have the option of either visiting the National Pandemic Flu Service and filling in an online questionnaire or phoning the helpline and answering a checklist of questions about their symptoms, over the phone. Any sufferers are advised to enlist the help of a “flu friend”. If they get a positive diagnosis of swine flu, they will be given a special authorisation number so that their flu friend can pick up their Tamiflu or anti-viral medication from a designated collection point. The service sounds good in theory. Only time will tell how well it actually works.

Over 100,000 people are estimated to have contracted swine flu over here in the past week alone, whilst approximately 30 people have died from it. Within a few days of being launched, the website has already been inundated with visitors. New adverts for the service have just been launched as part of a £2.4million advertising campaign to promote it. The adverts detail the symptoms of swine flu which include a fever or a high temperature over 38C or 100.4F. The government is also advising people of the importance of sneezing into a handkerchief or tissue, rather than into the air, “catching the sneeze and binning it” and also the importance of hand hygiene and washing hands regularly. Many companies (including the company where I work) have invested in special hand gel which kills any germs associated with the virus. In the case of most illnesses, including swine flu, prevention is definitely better than cure.

The website address for the National Pandemic Flu Service for England is www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu and the phone number is 0800 1513 100.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

NAOMI'S BACK


Hello Everybody

I'm back blogging again after my break. I was only away for 4 days but we crammed so much in during that time. My Mum and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip. We spent the first day in Oxford. It's a lovely city. We saw Oxford Castle and also Christ Church College. We also went for a walk down to the river and saw all the punts on the river. It was very enjoyable and a nice way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Day Two saw us in Windsor. To get the best views of the city we took a ride on the little visitor train that takes visitors past all the best tourist attractions. Another good way to see the sights of this beautiful city is by taking an open top bus tour. However as it was raining heavily when we arrived, we decided to take shelter on the little train! Our trip to Windsor Castle was definitely the highlight of the day. I also had a ride on the Windsor Wheel, a mini version of the London Eye. It was fun and you get such great views over the city, whatever the weather. We ended the afternoon with a scenic French Brothers' cruise on the Thames, complete with commentary, passing singer Natalie Imbruglia's house and also Royal Windsor Racecouse, a fitting end to an interesting day.

We spend Day Three in Bath. We went to the Jane Austen Centre, which is well worth a visit, if you are ever in the area. We also visited Bath Abbey and the world famous Roman baths. It was also nice to admire the beautiful houses in The Circus, a curved millionaire's row of houses, situated in the heart of Bath. The prestigious neighbourhood was once featured in an episode of Inspector Morse, the film Vanity Fair and actor Nicolas Cage owns one, although we didn't catch a glimpse of him the day I was there!

The fourth and final day of our trip was spent in Cheltenham. Sadly it was raining quite hard that day. However, we consoled ourselves with some retail therapy. There are some wonderful shops in Cheltenham. It is also famous for Cheltenham Ladies' College, a college attended by one of my schoolfriends.

I've now back at home again. Glad to be back for a rest! I went back to work on Wednesday and it was busy, it now feels like I've never been away! I'll be posting some photos of my trip to share with you all very soon. Watch this space!

PLEASE NOTE:- The Windsor Castle photo shown above is courtesy of www.freefoto.com as we had some heavy rain the day we visited Windsor, it made taking some good photos a bit difficult!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

NAOMI'S AWAY


Well it's that time of year again, I'm heading off down South on holiday tomorrow so this will be my last post before I go away. Like many people here, I'll be holidaying in England this year. I'm going to be spending a few days touring around the Windsor and Bath area. Fingers crossed for good weather! Hopefully I'll be able to get some good photos to post on here.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my friends Kyle and Svet from
Windows to Russia for the great little vacation banner they made for me. Windows to Russia is a wonderful site and well worth a visit. It's full of very interesting and informative posts and gives a great insight into life in Russia by a couple who live there. Kyle is originally from the States and moved to Russia after meeting his Russian wife Svet. Kyle and Svet also maintain several other sites too; Windows to Russia - Video, Windows to Russia - News, Windows to Russia - Sports and Windows to Russia - CCCP. They are all great sites and well worth a visit.

I'll be back posting again very soon. See you when I get back!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

JULY 7TH - THE NATION REMEMBERS


A memorial to the victims of the 2005 July 7th bombings was unveiled in London today. Situated in Hyde Park, the memorial consists of 52 stainless steel pillars, representing the 52 lives that were sadly lost that day. Prince Charles spoke of a day of “cruel and mindless carnage”. It was certainly that. Whilst Boris Johnson, the Major of London stated that we would never forget the tragic events that took place that day. They are etched in all our hearts and minds forever. Let us not forget those poor people who were injured and killed in these deadly and mindless acts of terrorism, which left 52 people dead and many hundreds badly injured. The memories of that terrible day will stay with us all forever. Our hearts go out to all those poor people who were injured and to those who sadly lost their lives that day and to the families they left behind. May they never be forgotten.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE - BRITAIN'S GREATEST NATIONAL TREASURE


William Shakespeare has been voted Britain’s greatest national treasure. The Bard beat Buckingham Palace into second place, whilst fish and chips came in third, just ahead of Buckingham Palace at number 4. The writer of such famous works as “Hamlet” and “Romeo and Juliet”, Shakespeare has always been regarded as a British icon. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest playwrights of all time. Apart from writing some of the most powerful tragedies, he has also written some of the funniest comedies ever to appear on an English stage. His plays are classics and feature as set works by many examination boards here. I enjoyed studying Shakepeare's plays at school and remember seeing "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" performed at the RSC as a student. It was excellent. "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare" containing all his plays still takes pride of place on my bookshelf. Much of the beauty of the Bard’s work lies in the language more than the actual plot. Many of Shakespeare’s plays contain finely crafted passages. “Some are born great others achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them”, in the words of Malvolio a character from Twelfth Night, one of the Bard’s most famous plays. Well according to the results of a poll by Mivvi icecream makers, now it’s official William Shakespeare is the greatest of them all!

EU RELAXES RULES ON SALES OF WONKY FRUIT & VEG


For the first time in over 20 years, the EU has relaxed its rules regarding misshapen fruit and vegetables. In the next few weeks, nobbly carrots, bendy bananas and curly cucumbers will be returning to a supermarket near you! In years gone by the EU made a rule (at the food industry’s request) that only the best looking fruit and vegetables would appear on our supermarket shelves and dinner tables. Any produce not up to standard would be discarded by suppliers and thrown away. At a time when the government is encouraging consumers to try and cut down on the amount of food being wasted and trying to reduce landfill, it certainly makes sense to sell misshapen fruit and vegetables rather than throwing them away. Farmers will now be able to use more of their crop. Many people forget that apart from being wasteful, throwing away food damages the environment too. The majority of waste food goes into landfill, producing methane, a greenhouse gas much more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Also at a time when food prices are soaring in Britain, selling wonky shaped fruit and veg gives consumers a choice and a chance to save some money when doing the weekly shop. They can either buy perfectly shaped fruit and vegetables at a slightly higher price or choose their misshapen alternatives at a fraction of the cost. The shape of the fruit and vegetables certainly does nothing to affect their flavour or the amount of vitamins and minerals they contain. They still count towards one of your five a day. I’m sure they will prove very popular in these recession-hit times, when shoppers are looking for a cheap and satisfying way to feed their families healthily.

Monday, June 29, 2009

POSTCARDS OF THE QUEEN - NO. 1 SOUVENIR


At a time when millions of foreign holidaymakers are flocking to Britain for their Summer vacation, gift and souvenir shops are gearing up for the holiday rush as eager tourists come in search of novel souvenirs to take back home. However according to the results of a recent poll, by far the most popular souvenir amongst foreign tourists is postcards of the Queen. The cards featuring her Majesty came in at No. 1 in a poll by B.A.A. at London Heathrow Airport, closely followed by Union Jack T-shirts and badges at No. 2 and replicas of Big Ben at No. 3. She may be in her eighties but The Queen is still as popular as she has always been and is one of the U.K.’s best ambassadors. She represents everything that is good about Britain and it’s not surprising that foreign tourists want to take Royal postcards home as a fitting reminder of their trip over here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ENGLAND MY ENGLAND - QUINTESSENTIAL ENGLISH MUSIC



There is surely no more quintessentially English sound than that of the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and the true beauty of its unaccompanied voices can now be experienced through the new album,
‘England my England’, which is due to be released by EMI Classics on 6th July 2009.

This is intensely moving and profoundly beautiful music. Don’t be surprised if you are moved to tears upon first hearing this album. The Choir of King’s College are definitely one of the jewels in England’s crown and this album showcases their talents beautifully. You can almost imagine you are there in King’s College Chapel listening to them, as their voices invoke images of serenity and peace in a church or cathedral setting.

This essential English collection opens and closes with coronation music. “Zadok the Priest” was written for the crowning of George II in 1727, whilst “I was glad” was composed for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902, and they have both been sung at coronation ceremonies ever since. Listeners will recognize many of the pieces on the album, partly due to their association with key English history events. John Ireland’s “Greater love hath no man” is often heard on Remembrance Sunday. Sir John Tavener’s “Song for Athene” made a powerful impression at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales; whilst John Rutter’s small-scale, personal “Requiem” touched a wider public following the attacks of 11 September 2001. Queen Mary’s 1694 birthday ode, “Come ye sons of art away”, composed by Purcell, together with the music he wrote for her funeral nine months later, “Thou knowest Lord” is also featured. Many favourite hymns and well known psalms sung to Anglican chant, feature on the album, sandwiched amongst both ancient and modern motets. In addition the album features a choral version of “Nimrod”, “Lux aeterna” composed by Edward Elgar, which epitomizes the music of national remembrance.

All in all listening to this album is an intensely beautiful and very moving musical experience. I can thoroughly recommend it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

GORDON BROWN TO APPEAR ON SONGS OF PRAISE


As Gordon Brown’s popularity continues to sink to an all-time low, he is hoping to re-connect with voters by appearing on “Songs of Praise”. It seems when times get tough Mr Brown, like many others, is turning to religion. Psalm 23, The Lord is My Shepherd was on Mr Brown’s list of chosen hymns. He could certainly do with some divine intervention at the moment! The programme usually features famous churchgoers talking about their favourite hymns. Although Gordon’s father was a Church of Scotland minister, unlike his predecessor Tony Blair, he has never been known as a regular churchgoer. Gordon will be featured in a special edition of the programme which focuses on the subject of courage, something he once wrote a book about. The programme shows Gordon and tv presenter Sally Magnusson discussing the importance of courage. It is thought that Mr Brown’s appearance on the show will help to boost his public image and show him in a more human light. He certainly made an interesting choice of hymns. It’s quite ironic that one of Gordon’s chosen hymns is “Fight the Good Fight”, especially since he has had quite a fight on his hands recently, fighting for his political life in the wake of the recent Westminster MP’s expenses scandal. Well never mind, chin up Gordon! The D-ream song, “Things can only get better” comes to mind!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NEW AD AGAINST BENEFIT THIEVES


As many of you know, working in an office, I quite often get funny emails sent to my inbox. This one made me laugh and I thought it was quite appropriate, given the current spate of MP's claiming for second home benefits for the rest of us to pay for and generally trying to squeeze as much money out of the already severely cash strapped economy as they possibly can! As many of us struggle to pay the mortgage on our one and only home and keep a roof over our heads, the recent revelation of MP's expenses claims is certainly quite an eye opener! The Department of Work and Pensions Fraud Team could do to keep a close watch on the lot of them! I'm sure they'd have their work cut out!

QUEEN UNVEILS ORGANIC VEGETABLE GARDEN AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE


The credit crunch has seen a massive rise in allotments as many Britons want to live the “Good Life” and grow their own vegetables. Now the Queen is following in the footsteps of Britons everywhere by having her own organic vegetable plot at her Buckingham Palace gardens. Her Majesty is also following in the footsteps of new First Lady Michelle Obama who recently created a vegetable garden at The White House. The Queen, who attends the Chelsea Flower Show every year, has always had a keen interest in gardens. Vegetables are now growing alongside ornamental plants in the royal gardens, for the first time since the Second World War. Liquid seaweed is being used to cultivate them rather than chemicals. The Queen and Prince Philip will soon be able to savour the fruits of their gardeners’ labours as a range of produce including beetroot, carrots, runner beans and leeks are grown and cultivated in their 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. They were recently opened to the public for the first time in 200 years. For £20 a ticket, visitors can now 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 can also 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. Public tours run in April, May and June, when the Queen is not in residence and are limited to twenty five visitors at a time. All monies from the tours go towards the upkeep of the gardens.

Britons have often turned their backs to the land in times of crisis, so it is no surprise that allotments have become so popular in the current recession-hit times. Millions of Britons became vegetable gardeners during World War Two, in a bid to feed their families healthily in times of rationing. Allotments were first created in Victorian times to feed factory workers and encourage them to eat healthily. However in modern times, allotments have now crossed the class barriers, providing a relaxing, healthy and money saving pastime for today’s stressed workers. Certainly there is nothing more rewarding than growing, harvesting and eating your own fruit and vegetables. They are also much healthier than their supermarket counterparts which are often full of pesticides. You can hear more about the Royal allotment by clicking on the player shown below:-

Sunday, June 14, 2009

PRINCE PHILIP CELEBRATES 88TH BIRTHDAY


Another person celebrating a birthday this week is Prince Philip. The Prince celebrated his 88th birthday on Wednesday and like the Queen, shows no signs of slowing down and is as busy as ever. A member of the Greek Royal family, Prince Philip was born in 1921 and has been married to The Queen since 1947. The couple have four children and eight grandchildren. 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. On 18th April this year, Prince Philip also became the longest serving consort in British history.

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.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

I can’t believe how fast this year is flying by! Today I’ve been busy celebrating yet another birthday. However I don’t feel any older and am telling myself that I’m like fine wine! I get better with age! Ha ha!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

BIG BEN - BRITAIN'S FAVOURITE TOURIST ATTRACTION


I’m not surprised to hear that Michelle Obama and her daughters were very keen to visit Big Ben during their private tour of London this week. With its distinctive chimes, Big Ben is one of London’s most famous landmarks and a very popular tourist attraction. The famous icon recently celebrated its 150th anniversary. It is the biggest chiming clock tower in the world. However the name, “Big Ben” actually refers to the 13.5 tonne bell inside rather than the clock itself. The death of the monarch is usually marked by the tolling of the bell. Big Ben is a magnificent piece of Victorian engineering that was built to last for hundreds of years. The famous clock tower in Parliament Square and the Palace of Westminster were commissioned in 1834, after a fire destroyed most of the original Houses of Parliament. The clock was designed by Edmund Beckett Denison, a member of Parliament. It was completed in 1854 and installed in 1859, after the clock tower was completed. The bell was made in Whitechapel and sent out its first chimes in July of that year. Many people believe the clock is electronic, but this is not the case. Big Ben is clockwork and driven by weights which need regular winding. The clock is wound by hand three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The whole process takes over an hour as it isn’t possible to wind the clock whilst it is chiming. The clock’s hour hand was famously immobilised in 1944 when a flock of starlings chose it for a perch! The clock face is usually cleaned by abseilers about every five years. Westminster’s famous landmark clock was silenced for the first time in 51 years in August 2007, when the final phase of work to clean the four clock faces and replace parts took place in preparation for the clock’s 150th anniversary celebration. London tourists and spectators were surprised to see engineers and workers abseiling down the south clock face to repair and clean it. Big Ben was named Britain’s favourite attraction in a recent poll and still holds a special place in many people’s hearts. Big Ben’s chimes can be downloaded as a ringtone at:- www.bigben.parliament.uk

Monday, June 01, 2009

MADE IN BRITAIN

In these credit crunch times when more and more companies are going to the wall and so many people are losing their jobs, it makes sense to support your country and buy British. Have you ever looked round your home and realised just how many items you have that were made and produced in other countries of the world, other than the U.K.? British businesses are the lifeline of our economy and need our support now. Like many other Brits, I’m an avid supporter of buybritish.com and always try wherever possible to buy British goods and services. Consequently I was very interested to hear about a new tv show about to hit our screens.

"Made in Britain" features award-winning tv comedian Dom Joly , as one man, literally stripped of everything he owns and challenged to buy British. Dom’s family home is also stripped from top to bottom of anything not made in this country. As you can imagine, once Dom’s Japanese tv, French pots and pans, German fridge and several other foreign household items have been removed, there is not much left and all that remains is an almost empty shell of a house with several empty rooms to fill! Dom is then challenged to travel the length and breadth of the country to try and replace all his foreign goods with British made ones. Every episode of the show features Dom dealing with a different room in his house and attempting to fill it with only British made goods. It’s very interesting to watch Dom on his travels to various popular British companies, some well-known and some not so well-known. He meets some quirky, colourful and interesting characters along the way, all of whom believe passionately in the quality of the products they produce. It’s all an exciting voyage of discovery for Dom as he travels around Blighty (as England is affectionately known!) and learns what it really means to be “Made in Britain”. Along the way he visits well-known British toiletries company Lush, now a global success story and also one of Europe’s oldest waterbed companies (surprisingly it was the Brits who first invented them and not the Americans as a lot of people believe!)

You can watch “Made in Britain” on Sky Channel 534 and Virgin TV 206. The new show starts next Monday (8th June) at 8.00pm.

To hear more about it, click on the player shown below:-

DIVERSITY WIN BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT

Congratulations to popular dance troupe Diversity, who were crowned the winners of 2009’s Britain’s Got Talent. The dance group who hail from London and Essex, take away a £100,000 prize and the chance to perform in front of Her Majesty the Queen at The Royal Variety Performance. They blew the judges and the audience away with their amazing “transformer” dance routine. Bookies’ favourite and global phenomena, Susan Boyle came second but was a gracious loser, telling Ant and Dec that the best people won and wishing Diversity all the best. Despite losing out to Diversity for the coveted No. 1 spot, Susan is expected to make millions from tv appearances, contracts and CD recordings. To see Diversity in action, click on the player shown below:-

Monday, May 25, 2009

SUSAN BOYLE WOWS BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT

Susan Boyle has once again wowed Britain’s Got Talent with her amazing voice, winning herself a place in the show’s grand final. The singer and church volunteer from Blackburn, West Lothian looked a little different from when she last appeared on the show, having undergone a glamorous makeover. Susan sang her version of "Memory" from Cats and received a standing ovation from both the stunned judges and audience. The Scottish singing sensation is now a worldwide phenomena after her first appearance on the show singing “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. Within a short time of appearing on the show, she received over 100 million hits on You Tube. Wow! Susan has also appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and counts Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher amongst her fans, after they were heard “twittering” about her. Even Homer Simpson mentioned her as his inspiration to audition for a talent show in a recent episode of hit show The Simpsons. Bookmaker William Hill is already tipping Susan as odds on favourite to win Britain’s Got Talent. The winner of the popular talent show will take away £100,000 and the chance to perform at The Royal Variety Performance in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen. Susan has already mentioned that she would love the chance to perform in front of the Queen. It looks like the Scottish spinster’s dream could soon become reality!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

WIDOW WEAVES DANGEROUS WEB ACROSS BRITAIN


Most people have phobias and as many of my readers know, mine is spiders. If there is a spider in any room of the house, I have to get it removed (not by me!) before I will even attempt to go in there. I can’t touch them, pick them up or even be in the same place as a spider! I was shocked to hear that a dangerous spider related to the deadly Black Widow spider is currently weaving it’s web and crawling its way across Britain. Gardeners beware! Scientists are blaming global warming for the current influx. The False Widow is a purple and black creature about the size of a one pence piece. Apparently unlike the Black Widow, it’s not deadly but its bite can cause severe pain and swelling. One lady in Egremont, Cumbria suffered an allergic reaction after being bitten by one of the nasty little creatures whilst she was in bed and had to be rushed to hospital. It seems the creatures can also hide themselves in bunches of grapes and bananas (both fruits I enjoy!) and arrive here that way. Scary! As you can imagine, I’m keeping a sharp lookout!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

BLACKPOOL - THE PARIS OF THE NORTH

Blackpool is being promoted as the Paris of the North West in a new continental style ad. The ad which is being shown on You Tube, is aimed at promoting the North West seaside resort as the ideal tourist destination for both Brits and our French neighbours across the channel. Blackpool is already a popular British holiday resort with approximately 10 million tourists visiting the seaside town every year. My maternal grandparents (who lived in Manchester) used to take my Mum for many happy family holidays there when she was growing up.

It is thought that more Brits than ever will be holidaying at home this year due to the credit crunch. Also the strong Euro means that thousands more French people are expected to visit Britain than ever before this year. Entitled “J’aime la Tour”, the ad features a French speaking girl sitting in a chic art deco cafe in Blackpool with her boyfriend. Rather than ordering sophisticated French cuisine, the girl orders a traditional Northern dish, Lancashire Hotpot in French. A popular resort for stag and hen dos, complete with arcades and donkey rides, Blackpool is desperately trying to revamp its image as part of an advertising campaign to boost tourism to its windswept beaches. The aim of the ad is to attract tourists who in the past thought Blackpool wasn’t their sort of place. The 90 second film features shots of Blackpool’s famous tower, fairground and trams. It aims to put Blackpool on the map and promote it as a classy and sophisticated holiday destination to our French neighbours. Oh la la!

Monday, May 11, 2009

COMPETITION FOR SUSAN BOYLE



This young lad is amazing. When I first saw him, he reminded me of Billy Ray Cyrus. Like a lot of other viewers, I expected to hear him sing a heavy metal or rock track. But what a surprise when he opened his mouth and launched into his version of the classic Nessun Dorma! It just goes to show how appearances can be deceptive. Even Simon Cowell was shocked at Greg's male soprano voice and said hearing him sing was like "having a dog that miaows!" Not a bad thing according to Simon! Greg admitted that he almost gave up singing altogether when his friends laughed at his high pitched, falsetto singing voice. We're so glad he didn't! Greg is very talented and I'm sure he'll give Susan Boyle a run for her money!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

MOD LAUNCHES NEW ACTION FIGURE TOYS




The Ministry of Defence has caused controversy by launching a range of all action figures. The toys are based on military personnel in the navy, army and airforce and are being sold under the "HM Armed Forces" brand name. The M.O.D. will get a percentage of the profits from each toy sold. However the fact that the money will be used to top up the M.O.D's advertising budget rather than being spent on new equipment for frontline soldiers has sparked outrage amongst real-life service personnel. Each 10" figure wears authentic scaled down versions of the clothing worn by their real-life counterparts. There are three different action figures in each category. Each figure comes with its own accessories. There is a navy diver complete with wetsuit and flippers and a commando complete with his own canoe! Working vehicles including a remote control hovercraft which travels over water and land and also a tank with a spring-powered gun only add to the fun! Critics argue that the figures aren't true to life as they don't represent the many female and multi racial members of the armed forces. Only one black doll is included in the range and there are no female figures at all. The M.O.D. says it plans to rectify this by lauching a female figure and more black figures next year. There is also talk that Ghurka figures may also be launched. Some people argue that the toys glorify images of war and violence and could be a bad influence on today's children. Whilst others believe the figures represent good role models for children to look up to. An M.O.D. spokesman commented, "The British Armed Forces have a very high reputation in this country and throughout the world and we feel the toys reflect that. The products are realistic and accurate and are very much a tribute to the service men and women who always conduct themselves with professionalism and dignity".


Action Man figures and military toy soldiers have always been amongst the most popular boys' toys over the years. It is thought that the new M.O.D. toys will fill the gap in the toy market, left by poor Action Man's demise a few years ago. The new M.O.D. figures are now available to buy in good toy shops everywhere. They will however face tough competition from popular action figures already on the market including Power Rangers and Spiderman. Also many children nowadays prefer to play computer games rather than play with toys. In the days when Action Man was around, computers hadn't been invented! I always remember the original Action Man figures. With their familiar "bushy" close-cropped haircut, they were always very popular with children of my generation. My brother used to have one and had endless fun playing with it. I always remember one of the accessories was a "working" radio that came out with things like, "Bazooka attack!" Very authentic! Wonder if these new action figures have gripping hands like the Action Man toys of yesteryear!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

MAY DAY ORIGINS


We just celebrated the May Day Bank Holiday here in England. I can't believe how fast this year has flown by and we're in May again already! Like a lot of people I always look forward to May as the beginning of Summer. A time when the trees and flowers start to blossom. I also like to think of it as a time to cast off the Winter woolies and hopefully (fingers crossed!) look forward to some warmer weather! Unfortunately that's not the case at the moment as we have a lot of wind and rain here in England. But hopefully that will pass over and we'll have some fine weather soon.

I grew up in the country and as a child, I remember Maypole dancing, (which I used to love at this time of year). Maypole dancing is a very popular and traditional part of English life in many country towns and villages. The dancing often takes place on village greens. Coloured ribbons are attached to a wooden "pole" and each dancer takes the end of a piece of ribbon. The dancers dance around the pole, weaving in and out with the pieces of ribbon, creating beautiful colourful patterns in the process. However if somebody steps out of line, then the ribbons can end up being tangled and then they have to be untangled which only adds to the fun! I always enjoyed Maypole dancing as a child. We used to practice for hours to make sure we got it just right! In olden times, people used to cut down young trees, plant the tree poles in the ground and dance around them to celebrate the end of Winter and the beginning of Summer (even though Summer doesn't offcially begin until June!). This is how Maypole dancing first began. Shakespeare also mentioned the Maypole in his play, "A Midsummer Night's Dream", comparing the character of Helena to a "painted maypole". It's also a tradition here in England to have May Day parades and festivals and crown a May Queen. Morris dancing is also popular in some areas of the country. Morris dancing is a popular type of English folk dancing involving both men and women dressed in bright and colourful costumes. Like Maypole dancing it's a lot of fun! I always enjoy watching Morris dancers. May Day has its origins in Roman times when the festival of Flora was celebrated. Flora was the Roman goddess of fruit and flowers and nowadays she is represented by the May Queen in parades and festivals.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

THOUSANDS JOIN FORCES TO RUN LONDON MARATHON


Celebrities joined ordinary members of the public to run in the London Marathon on Sunday. Thousands of spectators lined the route to cheer them on as they left Greenwich Park and headed eastwards towards Woolwich Royal Artillery barracks before making their way back across the river at Tower Bridge. Reality tv stars Katie Price and Peter Andre, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and model Nell McAndrew were amongst some of the famous names taking part. They were joined by runners in fancy dress, professional athletes, those running in support of various charities and fun runners. It always helps when the weather is good. This year the many thousands of runners who took part were lucky enough to enjoy a fine, sunny day. Kenyan Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru won the men's race, completing the marathon in a record time of 2:05:10, smashing the current record by five seconds. Meanwhile German Irina Mikitenko triumphed in the women's event for the second year running.

The London Marathon is one of Britain's biggest and most popular sporting events. Welcomed by charities, it is also one of the world's biggest and best fundraisers. It's a great annual event which brings people from all different walks of life together, all running and trying to do their bit for their chosen charities, as every year the city comes alive with the sound of pounding feet! Despite all the doom and gloom of the current financial recession, we still have the marathon, an event that definitely brings out the best in everyone taking part. The runners might end up tired and with blistered feet but the tremendous sense of achievement that everyone gets from taking part is well worth it. To read more about this great event, click on the link shown below:-

LONDON MARATHON

Sunday, April 26, 2009

LAUREL AND HARDY STATUE UNVEILED IN ULVERSTON

I've always liked Laurel and Hardy. My grandparents were big fans of the comic duo and as a child, I spent many happy hours round at their house watching Laurel and Hardy films. Laurel and Hardy were a classic and unique comedy duo. Unfortunately they don't make films like that any more. I'm sure some of the innocent slapstick comedy of yesteryear would be lost on some of today's movie goers.

Not many people know but Stan Laurel wasn't American, he was actually English. Arthur Stanley Jefferson or Stan Laurel (as he is more famously known) was born in Ulverston, Cumbria in 1890. He met Oliver Hardy in 1926 when they were both in Hollywood working for the Hal Roach Studios. The two formed a comedy partnership that lasted 31 years. Stan and Ollie appeared in 106 short films and motion pictures spanning the silent film era until the 1950's. Now the famous comedy duo have been immortalised with a £60,000 bronze sculpture which was unveiled last weekend by comedian Ken Dodd in Ulverston. Ken arrived for the ceremony in a vintage Model T Ford with Laurel and Hardy lookalikes to add to the fun. Hundreds of people, including members of The Sons of the Desert (Laurel and Hardy Appreciation Society) gathered to watch the unveiling ceremony. The sculpture which now stands in Ulverston's County Square shows Stan and Ollie leaning against a lamppost. Stan brought Ollie back to his hometown of Ulverston in 1947, with the duo famously waving from the Coronation Hall balcony to a huge crowd of adoring fans standing below. One of my favourite all-time Laurel and Hardy classics is a scene from the movie, "Way Out West", where they sing, "On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine". To view it, click on the player shown below:-

HANNAH MONTANA FEVER HITS LONDON


Hannah Montana fever hit London this week as teen star Miley Cyrus wowed fans at the premiere of Hannah Montana The Movie in Leicester Square. The streets were lined with thousands of children and teenagers, some of whom had queued for hours to catch a glimpse of their favourite Disney idol. Dressed in a short and sparkley Herve Leger dress and silver heels, Miley didn't disappoint her loyal army of fans and looked quite the fashion icon, She was accompanied by her dad, country music singer Billy Ray Cyrus. To the delight of eager fans, Miley and her dad happily shook hands, signed autographs and posed for photographs.

Billy Ray, famous for his hit song Achy Breaky Heart (I loved that song!) spoke of his pride of both his daughter and the new film. It's definitely a case of life imitating art, as Billy Ray plays Miley's dad in the movie too. As Hannah Montana The Movie shot to no. 1 in its opening weekend in the States, Billy spoke of the amazing reaction of fans and said the new movie had a great cast and crew. The film follows on from the Disney tv series about Miley Stewart who leads a secret double life, acting as a normal teenager and schoolgirl by day but who dons a blonde wig by night to become singing star and alter-ego Hannah Montana. The movie follows Miley as she is ready to crack under the pressure of the soaring popularity of her singing sensation other half. Her dad thinks she needs a reality check and takes her back home to Tennessee, where movie goers can follow her fun and romance filled adventures. Billy Ray explained that going back to Miley's roots in Tennessee was the heart and soul of the film. Miley Cyrus is definitely one of Disney's shining stars. The Hannah Montana tv series has grown into a worldwide billion dollar phenomena. The tv series is loved by millions of children and teenagers, not just in Britain but the world over. I'm sure the movie will be just as popular. To see the trailer, click on the link shown below:-

HANNAH MONTANA THE MOVIE - OFFICIAL TRAILER

Thursday, April 23, 2009

HAPPY ST GEORGE'S DAY


Today in England we celebrate St George’s Day. St George is the patron saint of England, better known for slaying a dragon (evil), as the story goes and rescuing a trapped maiden. St George’s emblem is a red cross on a white background, which is England’s flag and forms part of Britain’s Union Jack flag. The flag has grown in popularity in recent years, particularly with football fans who display it on their cars at the time of the World Cup matches.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MA'AM


The Queen celebrated her 83rd birthday today, spending the day quietly at Windsor Castle with her husband Prince Philip. Union Jack flags will be flying above government buildings until sunset today in her Majesty's honour, whilst a 41-Gun salute was fired in the centre of London by the Kings Troop Royal Artillery. Despite being in her eighties, the Queen is still one of the hardest working members of the Royal family and shows no signs of slowing down. She also has no plans to step down from the throne. As the great grandchild of Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth is the last female sovereign. The Queen and Prince Philip have been married for over 61 years and have four children and eight grandchildren. Apart from being a mum and grandmother, the Queen is also Head of State, Head of the Church of England, the Commonwealth and the Armed Forces.

The Queen traditionally celebrates two birthdays every year. Her actual birthday is in April, whilst she celebrates a second official birthday in June with the traditional Trooping the Colour ceremony. The tradition of two birthdays goes back to the time when if monarchs were born in Winter, the weather was deemed unsuitable for outdoor events so a second “birthday” had to be created for them. Unfortunately when this tradition came into being, they didn’t count on how unpredictable the British weather can be!

Happy Birthday Ma’am. Long may you reign over us!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

SUSAN BOYLE - A YOU TUBE SENSATION


Scottish spinster Susan Boyle has become an overnight sensation after her recent appearance on Britain's Got Talent. The judges were about to dismiss the volunteer charity worker until she started to sing her version of the Les Miserables song "I Dreamed a Dream", blowing the audience away with her amazing voice. The judges watched in stunned silence with Piers Morgan describing her performance as, "amazing, incredible and stunning". Amanda Holden said it had been a "complete privilege" listening to her. Simon Cowell described her performance as extraordinary. A video of Susan's appearance on the show has become an instant hit on You Tube with over 18 million hits. It seems that word of Susan's amazing voice has spread far and wide! Even Demi Moore and her husband Ashton Kutcher were heard "twittering" about it. Wow! News travels fast! Susan is this year's hot favourite to win the show. There are also rumours she will soon be a special guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, after wowing Americans with her recent appearance on CBS's "The Early Show". To hear Susan sing, follow the link shown below:-

Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent

Friday, April 17, 2009

THUMBS DOWN FOR GORDON BROWN DOLL


I was interested to hear about the new Michelle and Barrack Obama dolls being brought out in the States. The President and his wife seem to be a well-liked and high profile couple. I'm sure the dolls will prove very popular with American children. I can't see the idea taking off here though. I can't imagine anyone wanting a Gordon Brown doll! Then again, maybe it would prove popular with some adults, if only to stick pins in! Things are in such a state in this country!

INTELLIGENT KITCHENS CATERING FOR OUR EVERY NEED


What's for dinner? The eternal question and one that many busy wives and mums struggle to answer, particularly after a difficult day at work. Well it seems their prayers are about to be answered. I smiled when I read about the results of a recent report compiled by the Future Laboratory Consultancy on behalf of British electrical retailer Comet. The report predicts that in the future intelligent fridges and ovens will do the thinking for us! Interesting! Apparently in the next 10 years, we could see fridges that will make menu suggestions for dinner according to the contents inside them and even let us know when we're running low on supplies so we know exactly what to buy when we go shopping without forgetting anything! In the home of the future, intelligent bathroom scales will be connected to the kitchen and keep an eye on our waistlines. If we're putting on weight, the fridge of the future will make menu suggestions to encourage us to eat more healthily and shed the excess pounds.

Can't cook? Well that's not a problem either! The report predicts that in the kitchen of the future, intelligent ovens will automatically calculate the correct cooking times and conditions for every type of food, to ensure perfect results every time! If you live alone, that's no problem either! You'll never be lonely in the kitchen of the future as all singing, all dancing (well almost!) ovens and fridges communicate verbally with their owners, understanding and responding to our every need via Voice Recognition Technology. Sounds like fun! I wonder if they do the cleaning, washing and ironing and put the bins out as well? No doubt there will be some intelligent, labour saving devices to do that as well in 10 years' time. Can't wait!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

LIZ & CHARLES LAUNCH ORGANIC RANGE



Prince Charles is joining forces with British actress Liz Hurley to launch a range of "modern, healthy" organic produce. The Prince plans to market a selection of organic meat and grain products using ingredients sourced from the actress's nearby farm. The new products will be on sale from October and will be sold under Prince Charles' Duchy Originals label. The Austin Powers actress described Prince Charles as an "inspiration" due to his belief in organic food and farming and said that she felt honoured to be associated with Duchy Originals. Liz Hurley currently breeds cows, pigs and chickens at her 400 acre organic farm. Her organic and rare breed lamb, pork and beef are used by some of London and Gloucestershire's leading chefs. Prince Charles is a long time advocate of organic and sustainable farming. Duchy Originals currently sells a range of over 200 "quintessentially British" products, with all profits going to the Prince's Charities Foundation.

Friday, April 10, 2009

HAPPY EASTER TO ALL MY READERS!


This year has gone by so fast, I can't believe it's the big Easter weekend again over here in England and yet again Easter eggs appeared on sale in the shops here in February! I'm sure it gets earlier every year as Easter, (like every other holiday), gets more and more commercialised.

The pagan origins of Easter are thought to derive from Eostre (or Oestre as it’s sometimes spelt), a fertility godess. As the egg is the symbol of fertility and rebirth, this is where the custom of Easter eggs came from. Easter bunnies too originate from here as rabbits are very fertile creatures. Easter egg rolling is also popular at this time of year. In some areas of England, it still continues today, usually on Easter Monday. This is symbolic in Christian tradition of the stone being rolled away from Christ’s tomb. Spring and Easter is traditionally a time of rebirth.

Even though Easter has become commercialised now, we mustn’t forget it’s true meaning. In Christianity, Maundy Thursday recalls the Last Supper, the agony in the garden and Jesus’s arrest. For centuries, people in authority have washed the feet of their followers on this day. In England, the Queen traditionally presents “Maundy” money to pensioners (nominated by clergy of various denominations), for their service to the church. Good Friday remembers Jesus’s death on the cross and how he died to save us all. Easter Saturday is the final day of Lent. Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus’s resurrection. Happy Easter Everybody!

HOT CROSS BUNS - AN EASTER TRADITION



"Hot Cross Buns - one a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns!"

Who can forget that popular little nursery rhyme! It could have come straight out of the pages of a Dickens' novel and was regularly chanted by street vendors who sold the warm, fresh buns straight from the oven on Good Friday. Until recent years, Hot Cross Buns were only available to buy on Good Friday, as a result of a London bylaw which was introduced back in Tudor times, banning the sale of them at any other times. The little fruited and spiced buns with a cross carved on top have long been a symbol of Good Friday. Hot Cross Buns have been a Good Friday and Lenten tradition for centuries. Even though nowadays we associate them with Christianity, some people believe the original roots of the buns lie in pagan times when the cross symbolised the four corners of the moon. Also in Roman times, an ox would traditionally be sacrified at Easter and the image of it's horns carved into a ritual bread bun, which later evolved to become the Hot Cross Bun we know today. To the Romans the cross symbol represented the ox's horns. The word bun is actually derived from the Saxon word boun which means sacred ox. In the late 1300's a monk, Father Thomas Rockliffe distributed the buns to the poor of St Albans on Good Friday. They were made to a secret recipe and became very popular. Soon afterwards they became a christian tradition with the cross symbolising the crucifixion and reminding us that Jesus died on the cross.

There are many old English superstitions and folklore tales surrounding the buns. The buns have long been associated with healing and protection. It was once thought that taking a Hot Cross Bun on a sea voyage helped to guard against shipwreck! Other popular beliefs are that if a bun is halfed and shared, the person you share it with will remain a lifelong friend and also that hanging a hot cross bun up in the house ensures good luck for the coming year! In years gone by, buns made on Good Friday were used in powdered form to treat a variety of illnesses. Today Hot Cross Buns are available to buy in supermarkets and bakeries thoughout the Easter season. I love Hot Cross Buns and always enjoy them at this time of year. My favourite way of eating them is toasted and buttered with some cheese in the middle. If you would like to have a go at making some delicious Hot Cross Buns yourself, click on the link shown below:-

Hot Cross Bun Recipe from Delia Online

BRITAIN WELCOMES PRESIDENT OBAMA AND WIFE MICHELLE


It was a historic day as America's new President Obama and his wife Michelle made their first visit to the U.K. for the historic G20 summit. The couple were greeted warmly by Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah, enjoying a special dinner cooked by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. The couple were also granted a private audience with Her Majesty the Queen as part of their visit. America has always enjoyed a special relationship with Britain, so it was no surprise that the President's wife Michelle dispensed with protocol and hugged the Queen. Her Majesty, who had earlier placed a white gloved hand around Michelle's waist, asked her to keep in touch. Michelle wowed everyone she met with her easygoing manner and dazzling outfits. I think she will make a wonderful First Lady. Michelle reminds me a lot of Princess Diana. She seems like a warm and compassionate woman, someone who is not afraid to show emotion and is able to communicate with people from all walks of life.

President Obama said that the Queen was one of the main reasons he loved the U.K. He also spoke of the "extraordinary affinity and kinship" between the British and American people.

As Gordon Brown's popularity sinks lower by the day, he was no doubt hoping that Barack Obama's visit would help to boost his profile. Certainly Gordon Brown's diplomatic skills came to the fore as he brought together the world's leaders at the G20 summit and thrashed out a $1trillion bailout deal from some of the world's richest countries to kickstart global economic growth. The deal will see some of the world's wealthiest nations injecting a huge amount of money into the International Monetary Fund. The Prime Minister described it as, "the day the world came together to fight back against the global recession - not with words, but with a plan for global recovery and reform". He received a standing ovation from world leaders after the deal was secured. Mr Brown has flown half way round the world in recent weeks, in a bid to persuade some of the world's most powerful leaders to support his plans at the G20 summit. However he still refused to take all the credit for the successful outcome, describing the bailout deal as a good example of the world working together. Economists predict that as a result of the deal, we should see a way out of this terrible global recession next year. Only time will tell if they are right. With so many people here losing their jobs and homes, we can only hope that things will get better and there is a brighter economic future ahead for all of us.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

OXFORD & CAMBRIDGE BOAT RACE


The Oxford and Cambridge Boat race is being held today. One of London's greatest annual events, it always attracts the crowds who come to watch the students as they try to out row one another in their paddle boats along the banks of the River Thames. Thankfully the sun is shining so it looks like being a nice fine day. That always helps! The boat race described by some as "the world's longest surviving sporting challenge", takes place between the students of London's famous Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

The historical annual event dates back to the 1800's when Charles Merivale, a student at Oxford challenged his friend (also called Charles, who just happened to be the famous poet William Wordsworth's nephew!) to a boat race. Charles Wordsworth was a student at the rival Cambridge University. The famous race, one of London's most celebrated events still continues to this day and is watched by many millions of people worldwide.

You can read more about it by following the link shown below:-

www.theboatrace.org