Showing posts from August, 2013

Interesting Place - London

A housing block in London has been voted the worst building in Britain.

(It was built for students from University College London, and initially planning permission was refused, but according to Building Design magazine, the project gained permission after an appeal to planning officials on the grounds that students don’t require the same quality of accommodation as the rest of society.
I think we need a list of names from that meeting.)

Interesting Fact - Baby Presents

According to news reports, the new royal baby, Prince George has been given some unusual gifts, they include the following:-

A hand-embroidered blanket made by nuns in Spain.

An apple tree (supposedly this is traditional, but I can't remember getting one, probably because I'm not the first born son).

A baby crocodile (called George).

(I guess it beats silver spoons and rattles, but really, all he needs is loving parents and a relatively normal upbringing. We always tell our children that they can be whatever they want to be, so why not tell them they don't have to be whoever people say they ought to be.  If I were his parents I'd give him a free pass from becoming king.)

Interesting Fact - Human Body

Scientists have grown a miniature "human brain".

(The artificially grown brain is the size of a pea, and incapable of growing any larger, or achieving any kind of "thought".  

I think I have that brain!)


Interesting Place - Brighton

Brighton has been voted the worst seaside resort in the UK.

(Blackpool, Skegness and Bournemouth all beat Brighton. Now, before anyone from Brighton gets on their high-horse, it lost because it's so trendy, has dreadful parking and is full of clubbers. I don't think anyone can argue against that.
A traditional British seaside experience should include sand in your sarnies, "Kiss me quick" hats, a 99 cone, sticks of rock and chips and mushy peas on the beach.  In Brighton it's more pebbles in your champers, Gucci bags, sorbet, chocolate truffles and a skinny latte on the terrace.)

Interesting People - John Lennon

A Beatles fan is allegedly aiming to clone John Lennon from DNA extracted from a tooth.

(The tooth was sold in auction (which in itself is profoundly disturbing), and bought for just under £20,000 by Canadian dentist Michael Zuk.

He is now attempting to sequence the DNA, which is the first step in the cloning process. (He's also selling Lennon DNA pendants and tooth dust.)

You can follow the story on

Yes, that is a valid web address.)

Interesting Fact - Lying

According to a survey commissioned by The Original Factory Shop, couples lie to each other all the time.

(For a man the most popular lie is his internet history, salary, and what they get up to on a night out, and for us women, it's secret shopping, along with how much and what we eat and what we really watch on TV.

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.)

Interesting Food - Birthday Cake

According to a study published in the journal Psychological Science, singing Happy Birthday before having a slice of cake makes it taste better.

(The study shows that performing rituals before eating food can make it taste better. It works by creating what the psychologists call an 'intrinsic interest' in the food, which draws you into the experience of eating and boosts any positive feelings towards it.
I wonder if it would work on a plate of spinach?)

Interesting Fact - Mobile Phones

According to a study by, one in 10 children in the UK has a mobile phone by the time they are 5 years old.

(What's worse is a study by the National Literacy Trust said that children as young as 7 are more likely to own a mobile phone than a book.

We can only hope they have downloaded the Kindle app.)

Interesting Food - Sponge Cake

At nearly 400 years old, the sponge cake is the oldest recorded cake.

(The earliest recipe was recorded by the English poet, in 1615. in the wonderfully titled "The English Huswife".)


23rd August 2013

National Sponge Cake Day.

Interesting Words - Text Speak

To any teenager who thinks text speak is "new", letters have revealed that Queen Victoria regularly used modern-day contractions such as ‘shd’ and ‘wd’, instead of should and would.

(For example, in one note about a visit to Balmoral she wrote:-
‘I have never invited the Duke of Atholl to come over with his men and I think it wd. be better not to do so this year. It wd. entail the encampment of his men in our grounds wh. wd. be inconvenient.’  Not only that, but she had pretty awful handwriting too:-

I just wish I'd known this at school.  My English teacher always marked down my work because of my poor penmanship.)

Interesting Fact - Travel

According to a survey conducted by, 55% of Brits on holiday abroad seek out British home comforts.

(The things that they admitted to specifically looking out for included:-

- Restaurants serving British food – 37%

- British bars – 25%

- UK TV channels – 21%

- British stores – 17%

- British Brands – 12%

I can understand UK TV channels, and for British Brands, maybe the odd packet of Rich Tea biscuits, or Tetley tea bags, but the rest is a mystery to me.)

Interesting Food - Brits on Holiday

According to research carried out by, around 30% of British holiday makers admit to taking food with them when they go abroad.

(Sadly most of them failed to try local cuisine. Cereal and bread topped the list, followed by chocolate, crisps and tea bags.

We used to do this, but slowly learnt to do without, but I have to admit, I still bring my own tea bags to Germany, and when anyone visits us we ask them to bring them too. Unfortunately, sometimes we get the wrong brand, don't we Amatsu?)

Interesting Fact - Football

In order to save their team and raise much needed sponsorship, all the players of the first team squad of Farnborough FC have changed their name by deed poll to that of a legendary footballer in their respective position.

(The dream team line up now consists of David Beckham, Paul Gascoigne, Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Gary Lineker and Johan Cruyff, even the manager Jose Mourinho (formerly known as Spencer Day), will be taking his place in the dugout this season, along with trainer Sir Alex Ferguson (yes, Sir was added as the first name) and the kit man will be none other than Terry Venables.

Good luck to them.)

You can see the full line up here:

Interesting Fact - Work

In a survey conducted by Mothercare, British children between the ages of 2 and 12 were asked what was most important in a job, and 34% said that ‘having fun’ and ‘helping others’ was more important than being rich or famous.

(Unfortunately that means 66% didn't think that having fun and helping others was more important than being rich or famous.)

Interesting Fact - Careers

According to a survey conducted by Mothercare, when British children were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, more boys than girls dreamt of becoming dancers, the girls wanted to be footballers.

(Children aged between two and 12,were asked what they wanted to be, and the following careers proved most popular:-

Doctor (9%)Footballer (8%)Teacher (8%)Dancer (6%)Police officer (5%)Firefighter (4%)Scientist (4%)Musician (4%)Actor (2%)Nurse (2%) The top 5 jobs for boys:-
Doctor (11%) Footballer (10%) Dancer (8%) Teacher (6%) Police officer (6%)
The top 5 jobs for girls:-
Doctor (8%)Teacher (8%)Footballer (7%)Dancer (5%)Police officer (5%) What? No lawyers? The future is looking bright.)


Today is ¨Tell a joke day¨.

So, bring a joke to the TGIF session.

Interesting Food - Tea and Coffee

Seemingly tea and coffee are grown in the UK (see previous post). 

(Tea is grown and sold from the Tregothnan estate in Cornwall, and Arabica coffee is being grown in the rainforest bio dome at the Eden Project,

That said, I doubt they could grow enough to satisfy the tea and coffee drinking habits of the UK.

Accroding to the BBC, the coffee harvest at Eden produced about 2kg of cherries, which would create approximately 300g of dried coffee beans to make around 50 cups of Cornish coffee.)

Interesting Food - Production

According to the NFU (National Farmers Union), if all the food produced within the UK for a year, was stored and eaten from January 1, we would run out by August 14th.

(Seemingly Britain produces less than two-thirds (62%) of the food the country consumes, down from 75% in 1991, and imports £37.6 billion in food and drink.

What they don't seem to understand is we can't grow our own tea or coffee.)


13th August is International Left Handers day.

(There are left-handed shops in the UK.)

Interesting Fact - Names

According to the Office of National Statistics, Harry and Amelia are the most popular names for babies born in England and Wales this year.

(Muhammad is most popular boys' name in London and once all the different spellings are taken into account, it's the second most popular name for boys in the UK.

Other boys' names to make the top 10 included traditional monikers such as William, James and Thomas, as well as the more unusual Alfie. And for girls;  Olivia, Sophie, Isabella, Ava and Jessica, all proved popular.)

Interesting Food - Beer

Until 2012, beer was considered a soft drink in Russia.

(On New Year's Day 2012, beer in Russia becomes classified as an alcoholic drink for the very first time.

A Russian saying goes: "Beer without vodka is like throwing money to the wind."

Thanks to +Luke Pettit for bringing this interesting fact to my attention.)

Interesting Inventions - Emergency Bra

Elena N Bodnar, Raphael C Lee, and Sandra Marijan invented a bra that can be quickly converted into a pair of gas masks.

(The cups can be separated from each other and placed over the mouth and nose, the bra strap can be then be used to keep it on your head.
It's so good, it won the inventors an Ignoble award in 2009, and you can buy one, it's called an E-Bra, which is short for emergency bra.)

Interesting Fact - Facebook

According to a survey conducted by OnePoll, 50% of British parents admit to spying on their children via social networking.

(Even worse, 11% of those polled admit they created a Facebook profile just to track their children online.

That said, 70% of kids admitted to hiding their online activites from their parents. So it kind of balances out.

Kids! If you wouldn't tell your granny about it, don't do it.)

Interesting Fact - Money

If the UK followed China and imposed a fine (known as the “social maintenance fee” in China) on families for having more than one child, the equivalent penalty would be £260,000.

(The fine in China varies, but according to an article in the Economist, a husband and wife in Shanghai would have to pay 110,000 yuan (about £6,000) each. This is three times the city's average annual post-tax income.

I'm the 3rd child, so my mum would not have been able to keep me, and probably my middle sister would have been doomed too.)

Interesting Fact - Population

According to UK government statistics, over 1.2 million families in the UK have more than 2 children.
(The EU average for a family with 3 or more children is 11.3%, but in the UK it is 15%, and the birth rate in the UK is at its highest for 40 years, and it's growing more quickly than anywhere else in Europe,  even though many families still opt to have one child. 
France and Germany still have the highest overall population, but the UK is now 3rd, and catching up quickly.  According to an article in the Independent more women having children in their 20s, improved fertility treatment, immigration and the recession are all contributing to Baby Boom Britain. 
I'm not sure where the recession comes into it.  Maybe people are seeking comfort in each other's arms.)

Interesting Animal - Crocodiles

Pet crocodiles in the UK have to be micro chipped.

(Yes, people do keep crocodiles as pets. In fact in 2010 there were 72 licensed crocodiles and alligators kept as domestic pets, but no one knows how many are being kept unlicensed.

I wonder what they do when it's time to go walkies.)

Interesting Fact - Work

According to the Office of National Statistics, over 1 million Britons are now on zero-hour contracts.

(Under these contracts the employee agrees to be available for work as and when required, but the employer is not obliged to provide said work. Some zero-hours contracts even restrict the employee from seeking other work.

90% of people employed at McDonald's are tied to these contracts. I wonder if they are Luvin It?)

Interesting Fact - Art

A sketch, bought at a jumble sale in Los Angeles for $5, could be worth over $2 million.

(The sketch is thought to be by a young Andy Warhol, and probably created when he was just 10 or 11 years old, is up for sale on eBay for a whopping $1.9 million.  
This news has probably prompted parents all over the world to suddenly start storing their little treasure's scribbles.)

Interesting Fact - War

A speech drafted by British civil servants in 1983, was supposed to be read out in the event of nuclear war.

(The Queen would have delivered the speech if Britain found itself on the verge of nuclear war.  So, we would have all felt much, much better as we evaporated in a cloud of nuclear dust.

I'm very glad she never had to use it.)

Interesting Fact - Pets

Parts of the US and Australia have pet curfews where owners have to ensure that their cat or dog are indoors.

(There are also no-go areas for cats and dogs, in an attempt to protect native wildlife. Some groups are calling for similar controls in the UK, where an estimated 200 million birds and small animals are killed by domestic cats every year.

Laika is always in bed by 10pm.)

Interesting Fact - Human Body

Testicles can detect sweet flavours.

(According to researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, testicles have taste buds.

In a press release, researcher Robert Margolskee said, 'Like much good science, our current findings pose more questions than answers."

That has to be the understatement of the year.)