Sunday, March 29, 2009


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:-


As most of my readers know I like to keep an open mind on things like UFO's, ghosts and spiritual things. However probably the best proof yet of the existence of ghosts was unveiled this week. A spooky photo showing a ghost in period costume looking out of the barred window of a Scottish castle has baffled experts. The photo was taken at Tantallon Castle, a ruined fortress which dates back to the 14th century and lies on a remote, rocky headland of Scotland's East Coast, near North Berwick. The fortress was badly damaged by Oliver Cromwell's forces in 1651. The man that took the photo said that he didn't notice anything untoward when the picture was taken. It was only later when he got home that he spotted the strange and eerie presence.

Members of the public were asked to submit photos of ghostly images for experts to examine. The best ones are featured on Over 250 photos were received from all over the world and over quarter of a million people voted for what they considered to be the best photo. The Ghost in the Castle took the No. 1 spot. I'm not surprised! The eerie photo shows a figure wearing a ruff at the neck, however no costumed guides are employed at the castle. Staff at the castle also confirmed that no historical events were going on that day, no little old ladies were seen wearing ruffs and there are no sinister dummies in period costume around! Also experts have confirmed that the photo is genuine and no digital tampering or trickery has been used. Some experts believe the spooky figure could be King James V of Scotland. The photo has caused quite a stir and has certainly got people talking - that's for sure! Even hardened sceptics are baffled by it. Some people belief that the past, present and future exist at the same time. This photo is real evidence of that and living proof that ghosts really do exist, even in this day and age.

Photo:- Courtesy of Yahoo and Sky News


I can't believe how fast this year is flying by! We put the clocks forward one hour at midnight last night to mark British Summertime. The bad news is we've all lost one hour's sleep! However the good news is lighter evenings and not having to drive home from work in the dark!

The origins of daylight saving lie in 18th century Paris, when Benjamin Franklin first came up with the idea of making the most of the daylight and saving money spent on candles in 1784. The idea was met with mixed reactions and wasn't heard of again until the early 1900's when William Willett, a London businessman published a booklet entitled, "The Waste of Daylight". Willett believed that summer morning light was being wasted as people slept and that time would be better utilised in the afternoons by putting the clocks forward one hour. Willett's suggestion became a reality around the time of the First World War when the British Government adopted the idea, following in the footsteps of their German and European neighbours to save on coal and boost wartime production. Many other countries followed suit and nowadays around seventy countries have daylight saving time.

There are many advantages to daylight saving and British Summertime, the main one being a reduction in the number of fatal road traffic accidents. In addition, I always think that lighter evenings make people feel better and encourage them to get out of the house more and do outdoor activities. Anything that promotes our health and wellbeing can only be a good thing. Now all we need is some nice Summer weather to go with it! Roll on Summer!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Reality tv star Jade Goody has lost her brave fight for life. Jade passed away in the early hours of this morning, with her mother Jackiey and her new husband Jack by her side. One of Jade's last wishes was that she would live long enough to spend one last Mother's Day with her two young sons. Sadly it was not to be.

A former dental nurse, Jade found fame on British reality tv show, "Big Brother" in 2002. She hit the headlines in 2007, after being accused of racially bullying fellow Celebrity Big Brother contestant Shilpa Shetty. However the storm blew over and the two became friends. Jade was diagnosed with cervical cancer whilst appearing in the Indian version of the hit show. The reality tv star has lived most of her life in the public eye and chose to fight her cancer battle in the public arena, securing tv, magazine and newspaper deals in the last few weeks before her death. She was determined to ensure the financial security of her two boys, even paying their school fees until they are 16, in the only way she knew how, by continuing to live the final weeks of her life in the spotlight. Even her funeral is set to be a big public and media event.

Jade's legacy was to raise awareness of cervical cancer. Thanks to her, the number of women going for smear tests has now risen by a third. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in Britain, particularly in women under 35, killing many thousands of women every year. Jade was only 27 when she died.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown led the tributes to Jade describing her as a "courageous woman in life and death". He said he was deeply saddened by her death and that the whole country admired her determination to provide a bright future for her children. Our thought and wishes are with her family. Rest in peace Jade.


Today we celebrate Mother’s Day in England, a special day when we can show our Mum just how much we love and appreciate her! Traditionally Mother’s Day has always been celebrated (in Britain), on the fourth Sunday of Lent since about the 16th century. The original roots of Mother’s Day probably lie in the church festival of “Refreshment Sunday”, when traditionally people would go back to visit their “Mother” church, i.e. the church where they were baptised. As time went by this custom changed to using the day for people to honour their mothers rather than the church. I’m taking my own Mum out for a meal to celebrate her special day! Happy Mothers Day to any mums reading this!


As Britons everywhere celebrate Mother's Day, please spare a thought for those who have lost their mothers and also for mothers who have lost children. For them and others like them, today is always a very difficult day. Prince William spoke of the emptiness he feels at the loss of his mother, Diana this week saying, "Never being able to say the word 'Mummy' again in your life sounds like a small thing. However, for many, including me, it is now really just a word - hollow and evoking only memories". William was just 15 when his mother died in the tragic Paris car crash.

The Prince's comments were made as he became patron of the Child Bereavement Charity, a charity which his late mother was also involved with. The Prince also helped the charity to launch a special Mother's Day campaign to raise awareness of the problems faced by children who lose their mothers and mothers who lose their children, both on Mother's Day and every day. Prince William stated that he could wholeheartedly relate to the Mother's Day campaign as he too had felt and still felt a sense of emptiness on days like Mother's Day.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Liverpool's Hope University has made headlines by becoming the first in the U.K. (and the world!) to launch a Masters' Degree Course in The Beatles! 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.

The Beatles are still as popular as ever in the U.K. and indeed throughout the world. With only 30 course places available, the university has been inundated with enquiries from Beatles fans from as far away as the States. On the question as to whether the degree would equip graduates for today's tough job market, the course leader replied that Masters' degrees of any description are vital for the workplace. It seems all you need to get on in the world (apart from love!) is a fab four degree!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Prince Charles has launched a range of herbal tinctures under his Duchy label. The new Duchy Herbals products are all made from plants and are available to buy at branches of Boots and Waitrose for the princely sum of £10! The tinctures which are made from plants include Echincea reflief to help ease symptoms of the common cold; Hyperi-Life to help symptoms of anxiety and depression and Detox to help eliminate toxins and aid digestion. A Duchy spokesman said, "The decision to launch these products reflects the Prince of Wales's passion for integrated healthcare". The Prince has always been a great advocate of complementary treatments and therapies. He once famously remarked that modern medicine needs to adopt a more "integrated and holistic approach". Prince Charles was also quoted as saying that he believed the proper mix of proven complementary, traditional and modern remedies which emphasise the active participation of the patient can help to create a "powerful healing force" for our world.

Prince Charles's new Detox tincture has come under fierce criticism by a leading British academic expert in the field of complementary medicine. Edzard Ernst, a professor of complentary medicine at Exeter University has branded the artichoke and dandelion mix, "outright quackery" and accused the Prince of financially exploiting a gullible public in times of hardship. Ernst claims that Prince Charles is contributing to the ill health of the nation and pretending we can all overindulge, then take the Detox tincture and feel fine again. He also stressed that there was no evidence that the tincture worked. A Duchy spokesman hit back by saying that the Detox tincture had never been described as, "a remedy, cure or treatment" for any disease and satisfied all relevant sections of European and UK food laws. Nelsons, the firm which manufactures the Duchy Originals Herbals, stated that Artichoke and Dandelion had been used for hundreds of years as an aid to digestion and they didn't believe the product contributed to ill health by encouraging over indulgence. I personally believe the products are very good. As some of you know, I work in the Vitamin and Supplement industry myself and am a great believer in complementary therapies and remedies. However in my opinion, they should never replace traditional modern medicine but should ideally work alongside it, to complement any existing treatment a patient is receiving. I also think that it's very important that herbal medicines, like traditional medicines are regulated. I know from personal experience that some herbal products, particularly those containing St Johns Wort, can have contraindications with other traditional medicines that a patient may be taking. It's always worth consulting your doctor and asking their advice before you take any complentary herbal product, just to be on the safe side.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Like most office workers, I know at least one colleague who loves to doodle. I know quite a few people (not mentioning any names!) who love to relieve their boredom by doodling the hours away at meetings. I've seen the artistic little drawings on their notepads to prove it! Doodles are quite an interesting art form, a product of our subconscious mind and many psychologists say that studying them can reveal quite a lot about a person. Many famous people love to doodle, including the late Richard Nixon and Bill Gates. Doodling is regarded by many as the height of rudeness and bad manners, especially when done whilst someone is speaking to you. It usually sends the message to the other person that you are bored and disinterested in what they are saying. Not a good message to be sending, especially if it's the boss who's doing the talking!

However according to new research from the University of Plymouth, doodling is good exercise for the brain and actually helps to actively improve memory recall and aids concentration by keeping the mind focused. Apparently when people are bored, their minds start to wander and they daydream. However doodling is a way to stop them from dreaming and keep them focused on the task in hand. A leading psychologist from the university says that far from being frowned upon, doodling should be actively encouraged, particularly at meetings. To prove his point, the professor led a study, where a group of people were asked to listen to a tape of a boring telephone message whilst doodling. The message mentioned the names of people who had been invited to a party. A random test was done to see how much the participants could remember. The doodlers did very well and managed to recall details of those people who were attending the party and also their names. Their power of recall was much better than that of the participants who listened to the message and weren't occupied doodling. The research was undertaken in connection with National Doodle Day. Hundreds of celebrities including Ricky Gervais (from The Office) have created doodles, which will be auctioned online to raise money for charity. So there you go! Maybe doodling to relieve boredom isn't such a bad thing after all and could help us all to improve our memories!

Sunday, March 01, 2009


As you've probably gathered Diary From England is on temporary hold. Due to ongoing computer problems (my old computer died on me a few weeks ago!) and a busy work schedule, I've been unable to post as often as I would like, so thought it was best to put a hold on things. I've now got a new computer but seem to have made myself even more problems as it runs on Vista and most of my equipment like my printer and camera doesn't seem to be compatible. I couldn't even get my internet connection to work at first as my existing modem wasn't compatible! Oh the wonders of modern technology - can't live with it - can't live without it! Thanks to everyone for the kind thoughts and wishes. As some of you know I've been resting this week after being in hospital having a minor procedure done. I'll be back posting again very soon.