Showing posts from 2014

Interesting Fact - The Cost of Christmas - Christmas Fact

What is the true cost of Christmas.

The Cost of Christmas from Lynne Hand

Interesting Fact - Work

According to the Office for National Statistics, 562,000 people in the UK work in the real estate sector.

(The only problem with this is estate agents often top the poll of most hated professionals (just below politicians).

In London, estate agent signs have been modified to say "Estate Agents. Everyone hates you."

Interesting Fact - Christmas Presents - Christmas Fact

According to a survey conducted by, nearly half of us will fake gratitude when we
receive unwanted gifts this Christmas.

(In the UK adults receive around eight Christmas presents each, and hate two of them, which means about of £4.4 billion is wasted on 104 million unwanted gifts every year.

In 2013 it took just minutes before unwanted presents arrived on Ebay on Christmas Day!)

Maybe we should take our lead from these kids:-

Interesting Fact - Christmas Presents - Christmas Fact

According to a survey on Netmums, in the UK, parents spend an average of £312 per child on Christmas presents.

(They need to, because the average child's Christmas list adds up to around £900! One third of children believe they'll get everything on it.

Do they think Santa is made of money?)

Interesting Food - Sprouts - Christmas Fact

This year the UK has a bumper crop of Brussels sprouts.

(An unseasonably warm autumn (we are on track for it to be the warmest year ever since records began in 1910), and a (so far) mild winter means that they are not only bigger, and earlier, but there are plenty of them too.

Despite their bad reputation for causing flatulence, the UK eats around 434 million Brussels just in December.  They are the Christmas staple veg.

Added to that, Marks and Spencer have released a Brussels Sprout smoothie as part of their Christmas food range. Yummy!)

!Note - I checked in my dictionary, it is definitely meant to be spelt Brussels sprout, not brussel sprout.

Interesting Fact - Transport

According to plans unveiled by Transport for London (TfL) London commuters will soon be able to bounce their way to work.

(The “Bounceway”, due to open in 2015, will allegedly be trialed as part of TfL’s £1.8 million Future Streets scheme.

You might think this is unique - think again: Now we know what the British Secret Service was using those spy rocks for.

One more thought:  What if you've just had a full English breakfast?  It could be a disaster!

Interesting Fact - Funerals

A study conducted by funeral directors Co-operative Funeralcare, found the 1979 Life of Brian song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, has overtaken Frank Sinatra's My Way as the preferred choice of music at funerals.

(Playing popular songs is taking over from more traditional, and sombre music. The top 30 popular songs are:-

30. ACDC - Highway to Hell
29. Ben E King - Stand by Me
28. Terry Jacks - Seasons in the Sun
27. John Lennon - Imagine
26. Queen - Another One Bites The Dust / Don't Stop Me Now
25. Simple Minds - Don’t You Forget About Me
24. Louis Armstrong - What a Wonderful World
23. Tina Turner - Simply the Best
22. Jenn Bostic - Jealous of the Angels
21. Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven
20. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
19. Sinead O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2U
18. Cast of the Wizard of Oz - Ding-dong! The Witch is Dead
17. Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah
16. Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven
15. Puff Daddy - I’ll Be Missing You
14. Vera Lynn – We’ll Meet Again

Interesting Fact - Food Labellin

In new legislation, restaurants and takeaways across Europe will be required by law to tell customers if their food contains ingredients known to trigger allergies.

(The new rules also apply to meals served in bakeries, cafes, care homes and any packaged produce sold by supermarkets.

Remember the nuts? Well it's not just nuts:-

The list of ingredients includes:-
celery - including any found in stock cubes and soup
cereals containing gluten - including spelt, wheat, rye, barley
crustaceans - e.g. crabs, lobster, prawns and shrimp paste
eggs - including food glazed with egg
lupin - can be found in some types of bread, pastries, pasta
molluscs - mussels, land snails, squid, also found in oyster sauce
nuts - for example almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia
peanuts - also found in groundnut oil
sesame seeds - found in some bread, houmous, tahini
soya - found in beancurd, edamame beans, tofu
sulphur dioxide - used as a preservative in dried fruit, meat products, sof…

Interesting Fact - Allergies

Around 5000 people need treatment in hospital for severe allergic reactions each year in the UK.

(Sadly some cases are fatal, causing an average of 10 deaths annually.

According to the European Academy of Allergy, food allergies affect more than 17 million people across Europe.
It reminds me of the story in the UK, about the supermarket that had to remove packets of nuts from their shelves, because they didn't warn people that the packet contained nuts.)

Interesting Fact - Maths

According to a study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, teenagers in the UK would be more likely to study maths at A-level if they were told what salaries it would help them earn in the future.

(Telling students that pupils who received the information on graduate earnings were 39 per cent more likely to study maths than those who did not.

Now if they could only convince them that maths could get you onto the X-Factor, and help you become famous, the take up would be 100%.)

Interesting Food - Pizza

Public Health England is considering including foods which have at least one portion of fruit or veg to their 5-a-day recommendation.
(This would mean ham and pineapple pizza could count as part of a healthy diet, along with tinned soups and tinned fruit.

I wonder if black forest gateau will count. After all, it has cherries in it.)

Interesting Place - Finland - Christmas Fact

Turku is the official Christmas City of Finland.

(The Declaration of Christmas Peace has been taking place there every year, almost uninterrupted since the Middle Ages (records show it was cancelled in 1939 during the Winter War).

The declaration takes place at 12 noon in the Old Great Square of Turku, on the day of Christmas Eve. The declaration ceremony begins with the hymn Jumala ompi linnamme (Martin Luther's Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott) and continues with the Declaration of Christmas Peace read from a parchment roll in Finnish and Swedish.  It is broadcast on TV and radio, and of course nowadays the internet.

 The old laws guarantee everyone Christmas peace from Christmas Eve until the end of Christmastide on St Knut's Day.

I wonder if we could extend that.)

Interesting Fact - Photography

Allegedly, image recognition software that detects brand logos on pictures uploaded to blogs and sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr is being used to glean marketing information for targeted advertising.

(For example, Twitter is using image-based ad targeting through image analytics firm, Ditto Labs.  They are able to pick out photos posted to Twitter -- either directly or through Instagram -- that contain a brand's logo, collect the Twitter handles of the people posting those photos to create a list that an advertiser can then submit to Twitter as the audience it would like to show particular ads to.

Maybe it's time to stop wearing branded items when we have our photo taken.)

Interesting Fact - Food - Christmas Fact

According to the British Retail Consortium, Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings is set to be cheaper than expected this year after food prices recorded a fall for the first time since 2006.

(And there is even more seasonal cheer; November was the first month alcoholic beverages experienced deflation since the index began eight years ago.

It's going to be a good Christmas, for everyone but the breweries, pubs and farmers.)

More about Christmas food here.

Interesting People - Stephen Hawking,

Renowned physicist, Professor Stephen Hawking, has warned that, quote: "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,"

(His main worry is that super-smart machines could leave humans floundering, and they could find human affairs totally unimportant, and may even begin to view humanity as a hindrance.
Before you dismiss this as science fiction, Google has set up an ethics board to oversee its work in artificial intelligence.

It reminds me of this joke: Artificial Intelligence stands no chance against Natural Stupidity.)

Interesting Fact - Greeting Cards

According to the Greeting Card Association, in the UK we spend nearly £1.47 billion annually on greeting cards.

(It might sound like a waste of money, but in the UK more than half a billion charity Christmas cards are sent out each year, raising around £50m for good causes.

That said, £1.47 billion is more than we spend on tea and coffee put together! We are a nation of card lovers.)

Source - 2010 Greeting Card Market Report,

Interesting Number - 2,147,483,646

The YouTube video Gangnam Style has forced YouTube to upgrade their viewing statistics to handle 64 bit numbers.

(The number of views for the video steadily increased since its release in 2012, until it hit a critical 2,147,483,647. Why critical? Well, the largest number that can be represented by a 32-bit integer is 2,147,483,647.

As a result, YouTube have upgraded their view counter to handle 64 bit integers, which means that they can sit back and relax, unless the video clocks up 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 views. 
There's not much chance of that, because every human being on earth would have to watch it 1.29 billion times to reach that number.)

Interesting Fact - Housework

According to a poll run by BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, British women do six years of housework during their lifetime.

(Unsurprisingly it also showed we spend far more time on chores than British men.

They worked out that five years of our lives are spent cooking, four years shopping (I can only presume they mean the weekly shop, not shopping for shoes), and seven years looking after children.

Apparently men spend twice as much time socialising, playing video games and exercising.)

Interesting Fact - Drinking

According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, humans started drinking alcohol about 10 million years ago.

(They discovered that a single genetic mutation 10 million years ago endowed our human ancestors with an enhanced ability to break down ethanol, probably from eating fermenting fruit.
I guess it was their superpower.)

Interesting Fact - Christmas Fact - Christmas Cards

According to card manufacturer Clintons, Father Christmas now appears on 5.6 per cent fewer cards than before.
(Their research also found that the appearance of robins on festive cards has declined by 23.4 per cent in 10 years, but the snowman has increased in popularity by 17.1 per cent.

Images of snowflakes also rose by 14.3 per cent and Christmas trees have become more common, appearing on 7.3 per cent more cards. 
Glitter now appears on 34.7 per cent more cards than a decade ago.

Despite the changes, traditional designs are still popular, such as Victorian street scenes, holly bushes, bells and stars.
Personally I prefer hand made cards.)

Interesting Fact - Transport

I'll be honest, when I first heard of the poo bus, I thought of this guy:-

However, this is actually about a bus that runs on gas generated through the treatment of sewage (real poo), and food waste that is unfit for human consumption.

(A renewable and sustainable source of fuel, the bus can travel up to 300km on a full tank of gas generated at the Bristol sewage treatment works – a plant run by GENeco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water.

Personally, I love the idea, and the humour of the advertising on the bus itself.)

Interesting Fact - Health and Safety

According to research commissioned by home insurance company More Than, the biggest hazard in the home is ... children.

(By the age of 10 the average child in the UK will have caused more than £2,000 worth of damage around the house.

The most common things kids do to destroy the house are:-

1. Drawing on walls
2. Permanent stains on the carpet
3. Breaking plates and crockery
4. Damaging furniture
5. Footprints/handprints on surfaces
6. Scratching upholstery
7. Blocking the toilet
8. Accidentally smashing a window
9. Scratching walls with bikes
10. Blocking the kitchen/bathroom sink
11. Breaking beds by jumping on them
12. Staining kitchen surfaces
13. Breaking door handles
14. Pulling up carpets
15. Splashing paint on everything
16. Gluing things to furniture and walls
17. Breaking the banister to the stairs
18. Breaking the TV
19. Setting things on fire
20. Putting toys in the microwave

I'll always remember when a friend of mine found that her son had put a sandwich in the video…

Interesting Fact - Christmas Fact - Santa Claus

According to card company Clintons, Santa Claus has lost over 2 stone in the last decade.

(They analysed 20 years of archived cards and found that depictions of Father Christmas on Christmas cards had become slimmer. "He’s not as fat and round as he once was,” said a spokesperson, putting it down to increased health consciousness.

I bet Rudolph and co. are pleased.  Some enterprising person is bound to bring out a mince pies and sherry diet book. )

Interesting Place - Grenoble

The French city of Grenoble is going to ban all advertising hoardings by next year.

(They will scrap 326 advertising hoardings, including 64 large billboards by April 2015. The mayor has promised to replace the signs and billboards with trees and community noticeboards.

They will be the first city in Europe to do so, although the French village, Forcalquier, implemented a similar ban back in 2009.)

Interesting Fact - Wealth

According to a report, commissioned by property company CBRE, people who play organised sport tend to be £500,000 better off than people who don't.

(Experts say that organised sports such as cycling , football, rugby, etc. can boost a person's annual salary significantly due to the skills they gain from participating in group activities, which over an average 47-year career could amount to a significant boost of £522,000 in wages.

Of course, you could argue that people who earn a lot have more disposable income to play sport.  That said, I wonder if disorganised canoeing counts.)

Interesting Fact - Fathers

We were talking about maternity and paternity / maternal and paternal in today's session, so this little factlet is very fitting.

According to a survey carried out by the Family Matters Institute, 12% of fathers in the UK aspire to be like Homer Simpson.

(The following "father figures" were most popular:-

David Beckham - 21%
Jamie Oliver - 14%
Homer Simpson - 12%
Prince William - 9%
David Walliams - 7%
Simon Cowell - 5%
David Cameron - 4%
Wayne Rooney - 1%

The typical, modern UK dad was described as a food-loving, health-conscious, house proud family man, but their choices of role models leaves a lot to be desired.  For goodness sake! David Cameron left his 8 year-old daughter in the pub!)

Interesting Fact - Maternity Leave

We will be talking about maternity and paternity leave in the LEN Drama session on Monday, so here's a little interesting fact:-

Almost half of women in the UK (43%) are likely to return to work sooner than they would like after having their baby.

(The main reason was money worries, but according to the NCT (the largest UK parents charity), 47% said it was due to concerns over job security.

Overall 4% of those surveyed said they took less than two weeks maternity leave, even though they are entitled to much longer.)

Interesting Fact - Communication

According to The Joseph Rowntree Foundation's"Minimum Income Standard" report, it is no longer considered essential in the UK for a family to have a landline telephone.

(People are now able to rely on mobiles, however, for the first time internet access is counted as an essential for all groups including pensioners.

The internet has been an essential for me since 1999.)

Interesting Fact - Cost of Living in the UK

According to a study compiled for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, couples with two children  now need just under £40,600 between them to afford a decent lifestyle.

(The biggest problem is, the actual cost of living in the UK has risen five times as much as earnings since before the recession.

So, £40,600 is enough to provide ordinary food, clothes, and leisure activities, for a small family, as well as items judged necessary to survive in modern Britain, without extravagance.)

Interesting Fact - Age

90 is the new 70 (For women).

According to experts women can now expect to live 4 scores years and 10, instead of the biblical 3 score years and 10.

(The latest official life expectancy projections for England and Wales now show that in a growing number of areas it is already the norm for people to live until they are almost 90, and that trend is set to grow, and although women still outlive men overall, it seems men are catching up; in the last 4 years the life expectancy gap between men and women has narrowed by 10 per cent.

So, it's good news all round. As long as you've got your health.)

Interesting Fact - Money - Christmas Fact

What price friendship? Well £6,800 actually.

(According to a survey by the Post Office UK adults have spent on average £158 on gifts for their closest friend in the last year. Around £62 is spent on Christmas presents and £47 on birthday gifts, which over a lifetime adds up to £6,800, and one in seven people will fork out more than £100 on a friend’s Christmas present.

When a best friend has children, the costs become even higher, adding an additional £53 annually.

The survey doesn't mention regifting. (Giving a present you've received to someone else. I always give people permission to do this.) )

Interesting Facts - Dinner Time

According to a study conducted by the Department for Education, the traditional family meal appears to be making a comeback in the UK.

(In the study, 52% of children said they had shared a meal with their parents six times in the last week compared with 42 per cent in 2004.

Now, I wonder if they sat at the table, or ate in front of the TV.)

Interesting Fact - Clothing

Australian presenter Karl Stefanovic, who co-presents Channel Nine’s Today show with Lisa Wilkinson, has been wearing the same blue suit – day in, day out, for a year.

(He did it to make a point about the ways in which his female colleagues are judged. “No one has noticed,” he said.

His co-presenter, Lisa Wilkinson, gave the Andrew Olle media lecture in which she talked about the expectations placed on women in public life. “Today’s media landscape, particularly for women, is one now so focused on the glossy and the glamorous, it often eclipses and undermines everything else,” she told the audience. “When you’re a woman doing breakfast TV, you quickly learn the sad truth that what you wear can sometimes generate a bigger reaction than even any political interview you ever do.” She recounted a reader’s letter in which a viewer told her to “get some style” before reading her reply to that letter: “Please include suggested colours, sleeve lengths, skirt shapes, your preference for pri…

Interesting Fact - British Teenagers

According to a study by the Department for Education, British teens are going out less and shunning cigarettes and alcohol to stay at home on their computers.

(The so called 'Laptop generation' of teenagers are now more likely to be surfing the web and playing games than hanging out in the park.

13-year-olds today are more 'sober and responsible' than 10 years ago. Only 32 per cent had tried alcohol compared with 52 per cent in 2004, and it's the rise of social media sites such as Facebook that is thought to be behind the change.
They are probably more sober and responsible than I am too.)

Interesting Fact - Armed Forces

Australia, Germany and Canada all allow women to take on close-combat ground roles in the armed forces.

(It looks as if women will be allowed to take on combat roles for the first time in the UK soon.)

Interesting Fact - Lies

According to a survey conducted by, the average Brit lies about 10 times a week, 91 per cent have told a lie.

(The most common lies were regarding vices:-

41% - the price of an item they had bought

25% - how much they drink

23% - eating habits, reported

16% - past relationships

15% - where they were the previous night

14% - who they were with the night before

Matt Lloyd, head of life insurance at, said that little white lies are part and parcel of daily life.

I'm glad he's not my husband.  Regarding the 9% who say they have never told a lie...)

Interesting Fact - Transport

According to car website HonestJohn, nine out of ten new cars are sold without a full-size spare wheels as standard.

(About 25% of cars are sold with thinner ‘space-saver’ wheels, which allow you to travel at a limited speed for a short distance, to get yourself to a garage. Others have ‘run-flats’, reinforced tyres that allow you to continue on with a puncture for a limited time.

Almost half of new cars are sold without any spare wheel at all, they are simply equipped with a repair kit: basically some sealant and an air pump that you use to temporarily fix the tyre.

Q. Why are they doing this?

A. Money.

Not providing a spare wheel can easily save manufacturers around £100 per car.

Interesting Fact - Christmas Fact

According to a study conducted by the Royal Statistical Society, in the UK we are starting to think of Christmas as early as 19th August.

(Internet searches for terms such as “Santa Claus”, “elf” and “presents” start clogging up bandwidth almost three months earlier than in 2007.

We've all gone mad!)

Interesting Fact - The Poppy

888,246 poppies have been planted by volunteers at the Tower of London, and an estimated 4 million people have visited the installation, Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red, since the first ceramic poppy was placed on 5 August.

(The exhibition was the brainchild of Derbyshire-based ceramic artist Paul Cummins. It was set up to commemorate the 100 years since the beginning of the First World War with each poppy representing each British and Commonwealth death during the conflict.

The day after Armistice Day, a team of 8,000 volunteers will begin dismantling the poppies, and a nationwide tour will see smaller installations set up temporarily across the UK. It is expected that the last poppy will be taken away down from the Tower of London in three weeks’ time.)

More information on the significance of the poppy (opens in a new window):-
The Poppy
Poppy Day

Interesting Food - Tea

Professor Andrea Sella from University College London says the smooth surface of a china cup or mug makes tea taste better, as it keeps the natural tannins in the tea from sticking to the side.

(Professor Sella said, "You want a smooth, impervious surface, you don’t want the cup to bind the tannins." He added that the clink of a spoon on bone china, and the association of things like drinking tea with your grandmother, added a psychological aspect to the pleasure of a good brew.

If you think it doesn't matter what you drink tea out of, I'm sure you will agree on one thing, steer clear of disposable cups.)

Interesting Fact - Stupidity

US scientists at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the University of Nebraska, might have found the answer as to what causes unspeakable stupidity - a virus.

(The algae virus, which has never been found in healthy people,was discovered to affect cognitive functions such as visual processing and spatial awareness.

I wonder if there is a cure.)

Interesting Fact - Money

According to the Halifax bank, the average Brit believes they have £1.61 lurking down the back of their sofa.

(This means home owners are sitting on more than £40 million in loose change.  And that's not the only place you'll find a few pennies lying around: Two-thirds of people admit to regularly finding loose coins in pockets, bags and cars, but desk drawers usually contain the largest amount of cash. On average, people believe they have £17.69 just lying around the UK.
Can you guess what I'm going to do now?)

Interesting Fact - Entering the UK

Anyone who has been sentenced to more than 4 years in prison overseas is barred from entering the UK.

(You are not allowed to enter the US if you have been convicted of 2 or more offences, or you have been convicted of / admitted to committing acts of moral turpitude.
I guess I'd better be a good girl whilst I'm in Germany, or they might not let me go home.)

Interesting Fact - School Uniforms (aka The Wrong Trousers)

Over the last 2 days, the Hanson Academy in Bradford, West Yorkshire, has sent 215 pupils home for not adhering to school uniform rules.

(The school wants pupils to dress in a blazer, smart shoes, trousers, and shirt with a correctly-tied tie, they also need to wear an id badge on a lanyard around their necks (I wonder if they have risk assessed that).

The infringements included - wearing hoop earrings, the wrong kind of trousers / jackets, no tie, no id, dyed hair...

Please feel free to join any of our Virtual World English sessions and dress as you like, as long as you're dressed.)

Ineresting Fact - Fireworks

Three handheld sparklers produce as much heat as a blowtorch.

(No surprises their, I have the holes in my clothes to prove it.)

Interesting People - John McArthur

For three months, John McArthur has spent two hours each weekday morning parading outside LAMH Recycle in Motherwell, Scotland, wearing a placard reading: “Say no to slave labour”.

(Why? Well, after the organisation "let him go" from a temporary job, he was ordered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to work for the same firm for six months without pay, in order to continue receiving unemployment benefit.
Welcome to Britain 2014.)

Interesting Place - Britain's Riskiest Road

According to the Road Safety Foundation, a 12-mile stretch of the A285 between Chichester and Petworth is UK's most dangerous road.

(Seemingly the number of crashes has increased by 16% over the last 5 years.

Road safety is a big problem in the UK; in the last five years serious crashes cost of £1.9 billion on motorways, £8.4 billion on primary A-roads and £5.9 billion on non-primary A-roads.)

Interesting Fact - Information

According to research conducted by Mindjet and One Poll, the average British office worker wastes two weeks a year searching for misplaced information.
We all lose things from time to time:-


Interesting Food - Whisky

Japan 1 : Scotland 0 - A Japanese single malt has been named the best whisky in the world.
(In a shock to Scottish distilleries the Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 as a drink of “near incredible genius”, awarding it 97.5 marks out of 100 in the 2015 World Whisky Bible.
To add insult to injury Scottish malts failed to make the top five drams.

Having tasted about 1,000 whiskies, Mr Murray said "Hic" - No, sorry, he actually said Scottish distilleries were in danger of churning out drab or mediocre malts and that it was time for “a little dose of humility” from the northern whisky makers so they could “realise something is missing.”)

Interesting People - Alice Glaston

Alice Glaston, is the youngest person ever hung in England.

(She was hung from the gallows tree at Wenlock Edge in Shropshire, in 1545. She was just 11 years old. Legend has it that her bones were later discovered and taken to a limekiln to be secretly burned. Alice became part of the lime used in mortar, whitewash and spread on the fields, and so remains a constant presence in this landscape.

There is a note in the parish register of Sir Thomas Butler, vicar of Much Wenlock in Shropshire:
Here was buried John Dod of the parish of Little Wenlock, who was hanged here, as also Alice Glaston, 11 yrs of age, of the parish of Little Wenlock, and Wm. Harper, a tailor. A note slightly further down the page reads: Three Convicts buried one a girl of 11 years old. I wonder if they realised how history would judge them.)


Interesting Fact - Transport

At 117 miles, the M25 or Lon­don Orbital Motor­way is the sec­ond longest city bypass in Europe. The longest is the Berliner Ring, which is 122 miles (196 km) long.

(A Royal Com­mis­sion first sug­gested a ring road for Lon­don in 1905, but it didn't happen until the M25 opened on 29th October 1986. It took more than 11 years to actually build, and construction cost £1bn. It used more than two million tonnes of concrete and 3.5 million tonnes of asphalt.

Interesting Fact - Gender Equality

According to the Gobal Gender Gap report, published by the WEF, Britain has dropped  eight places to stand 26th in the world for gender equality.

(Not surprisingly the Nordic countries - Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark - were the most equal, and they have been joined by Nicaragua, Rwanda, Ireland, the Philippines and Belgium in the top 10.

Yemen remained at the bottom of the chart for the ninth year in a row.)


Interesting Animal - Dogs

The average dog owner gets more exercise than someone who goes to the gym.

(In fact, according to the national dog walking index, compiled by Mountain Warehouse, in the UK most dog owners go for around 433 walkies, and cover on average 548 miles a year, roughly the distance from London to Aberdeen.

According to researchers from Michigan State University, nearly half of dog owners exercise an average of 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week. By comparison, only about a third of those without dogs got that much regular exercise.

Of course it doesn't count if you employ a dog walker.)

Interesting Food - Strawberries - Christmas Fact

Sorry to start wittering on about Christmas before Halloween is even over, but according to Sainsbury’s, British strawberries will be on supermarket shelves in December. (Thanks to researchers who have been able to grow strawberries in mid-winter using a combination of blue and red LED lighting, we will be able to have strawberries with our Christmas puds. I'll bet they're not as tasty as sun-ripened ones. I'll wait until Wimbledon thanks.)

Interesting Fact - Twitter

The Queen sent her first Tweet at the Science Museum on 24th October 2014.

(At 11:35 am she removed a glove as she pressed "Post" to tweet ""It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R," using the @BritishMonarchy account.

By 11:39 am she had her first troll who wrote: "Welcome to Twitter. Abdicate!"

I wonder if she blocked him / her.)

Interesting Fact - Halloween Fact - Pumpkins

There is a problem in the UK, we have a pumpkin shortage.

(A cold snap and wet weather has meant hundreds of thousands of pumpkins have been left rotting in fields.

Some areas have already sold out, but Sainsbury's are expecting to sell almost 1.5million pumpkins over the Halloween period.)

Interesting Fact - Stress

According to a study commissioned by Nurofen express, the biggest headache of modern life is a laptop / computer freezing.

(The top 50 things that stress people out in the UK nowadays are supposedly:-
1. Your laptop/computer freezing 2. PPI calls 3. Slow Wi-Fi 4. Being stuck in traffic 5. People who take up two parking spaces 6. Public transport delays 7. Junk mail 8. Waiting on the phone for the doctors 9. When people chuck their rubbish out of the car window 10. People who don't use their indicators 11. Pot holes 12. Stepping in dog muck 13. When you hold the door open for someone and they don't say thank you 14. The rising cost of living 15. When people let their children misbehave in restaurants 16. Rude sales assistants 17. Screaming kids 18. Buying property 19. When people hold a conversation in a door way 20. People cancelling on you 21. Noisy neighbours 22. Reality TV shows 23. Road works 24. Middle lane hoggers 25. Your delivery gets lost in the post 26. Computer jar…

Interesting Fact - Energy

According to the National Grid, on Tuesday 21st October, more energy was created by wind farms in the UK than by our nuclear power stations.

(Wind farms made up 14.2 per cent of all power generated, while nuclear power contributed 13.2 per cent.

Probably aided by Hurricane Gonzales.)

Interesting Food - Apples

There are over 7,500 known cultivars of the humble apple.

(In spite of the three or four varieties you might find in your local supermarket, there are thousands of apples you can try.
In the UK we tend to separate them into dessert / eating apples, cooking apples and cider apples, and the list is quite long:-
Adams Pearmain Allington Pippin Arthur Turner Ashmead's Kernel  Beauty of Bath Blenheim Orange Breedon Pippin *Bramley Byfleet Seedling Catshead *Cox's Orange Pippin Dummellor's Seedling Gascoyne's Scarlet Golden Noble *Granny Smith (Originated in Australia, but is very popular in the UK) Grenadier Knobbed Russet Lane's Prince Albert Laxton's Superb Limelight Lord Derby May Queen Merton Worcester Miller's Seedling Newton Wonder Norfolk Royal Pam's Delight Peasgood's Nonsuch Pitmaston Pineapple Pott's Seedling Rev. W. Wilks Ribston Pippin St. Edmund's Pippin Saturn Sturmer Pippin Sunset Tom Putt Tydeman's Early Worcester Tydeman'…


21st October

Apple Day

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.  (Especially if you throw it really hard.)

Interesting Place - Blackpool

Blackpool is banning the mankini to clamp down on stag and hen misbehaviour.

(They have introduced Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO), which have the power to prohibit certain unwanted behaviour in specific areas, such as clothes like mankinis in family-friendly areas during the day.

If you don't know what a mankini is, it was made famous by Borat, in the controversial film of the same name. I have no idea why any man would want to emulate the look, but there is a picture here (make sure you're not eating).

Interesting Fact - Money

According to the United Nations, Spain, Norway and Luxembourg have donated less money to the global fight against Ebola than Ikea.

(The 3 European countries have collectively donated €3.2m, while the Swedish furniture seller has donated €5.3m.

Maybe they should start calling it the United States of Ikea.)

Interesting Fact - Smartphones

According to a survey conducted by Tecmark, the average Brit checks his/her smartphone around 200 times a day.

(The average smartphone user spends about 3 hours and 16 minutes every day on their phone, which amounts to about a full day a week. 4 in 10 of those surveyed admitted to feeling “lost” without their phone.

I guess that is true, especially if they use a navigation app.)

Interesting Fact - Exercise

You would have to run 4 miles to burn of the calories in a 500ml bottle of Coke.

(Scientists are calling for this information to be printed on food labels, instead of the usual calorie count. (Do you ever read it?)

For example: To burn off a double cheeseburger would take a 5.6-mile hike. Would you be likelier to chose a smaller one and go on a 2.6 mile walk instead?)

Interesting Fact - Time

According to Internet analysts Kleiner Perkins, the U.S. is the sixth-worst nation when it comes to staring at screens.

(At the top of the list is Indonesia, where people spend an average of 540 minutes, or 9 hours each day, followed by the Philippines, China, Brazil, Vietnam and in 6th place the USA.

In the United States, people spend an average of 444 minutes every day looking at screens, or 7.4 hours. That breaks down to 147 minutes spent watching TV, 103 minutes in front of a computer, 151 minutes on a smartphone, and 43 minutes with a tablet.
I wonder when it will be 18 hours a day because of Google glass.) 

Interesting Number - 10 million

According to figures released by Alcohol Concern, around 10 million NHS admissions in England between 2012 and 2013 were related to alcohol.

(They have produced an "alcohol harm map" to highlight the problem of alcohol misuse, which is estimated to cost society around £21 billion.)

Interesting Animals - Whales and Dolphins

According to studies carried out by University of San Diego graduate student Whitney Musser and Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute senior research scientist Dr. Ann Bowles, killer whales in captivity can learn to speak dolphin, albeit with an accent.

(Scientists already know that killer whales "speak" using a series of clicks, whistles and pulses, and different groups develop their own significantly distinctive "dialects". The Smithsonian reported that in some cases, the difference can be likened to that of the difference between Greek and Roman.  In this particular study they found that killer whales began to sound a lot like the bottle nosed dolphins they were socialized with.

Dr. Luke Rendell, a lecturer in biology at the University of St. Andrews said, "It is yet another confirmation that learning is central to how killer whales acquire their vocal repertoire, and further confirms the status of the *cetaceans as one of the few groups of mammals to have evo…

Interesting People - Bill Gates

According to an interview he gave on the website Reddit, Bill Gates does the dishes every night.

(When asked, "what is something you enjoy doing that you think no one would expect from you?" He replied he did the dishes because he likes the way he does them.

I wonder if he does the windows too.)


Interesting Fact - Accents

According to research conducted by, Queen's English is Britain's favourite accent.

(Yes, good old RP (received pronunciation) came top in nine out of ten positive character traits including: attractiveness, intelligence, honesty, charm, sophistication and reliability.

1. Received pronunciation (RP)

2. Edinburgh

3. Australian

4. Irish (Republic of Ireland)

5. Yorkshire

6. American

7. Geordie

8. Mancunian

9. Glaswegian

10. Welsh

RO is still perceived as a little posh. That's me! LOL)

Interesting Fact - The Law

Under new laws in the UK, internet trolls face up to two years in jail.

(This quadruples the current maximum six-month term and follows several high profile cases. Under the act, which does not apply to Scotland, it is an offence to send another person a letter or electronic communication that contains an indecent or grossly offensive message or threat.)

Interesting Fact - Happiness

According to research published in the Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry if you are suffering from depression, walking like a happy person can help you to think more positively.

(No wonder my mum always kept saying "chin up".)


Interesting People - John Greenwood

John Greenwood spent 18 months panning for gold in the mountains of Scotland so he could make engagement and wedding rings for his big day.

(I am sure men around the UK will be groaning in agony, because Mr Greenwood has just set the benchmark for a romantic gesture.

Interesting Fact - Tax

Drivers in the UK will no longer have to display a tax disc on their car windscreens.

(Motorists will still have to pay tax on their vehicles, but cameras will read a registration plate and check it on a database of cars that have tax, insurance and an MOT.  
People who collect tax discs will be gutted.)

Interesting Fact - Wildlife

According to research carried out by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London, the number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years.

(Since 1970 animals have been decimated across the planet as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, whilst at the same time polluting or destroying their habitats.

I wonder what our children and grandchildren will have to say to us?)

Interesting Fact - Careers

According to the UKRC's “European Engineering Report” the UK has the lowest number of female engineers in the whole of Europe.

(Only 9% of UK engineering professionals are women, compared to 18% in Spain, 20% in Italy, 26% in Sweden and 30% in Latvia.

I wonder how many girls are given engineering as an option in careers advice days at school.)

Interesting Fact - Furniture

The longest sofa measures just over 1 kilometre (3,302 ft 6 in).

(It was created in Saratov, Russia by furniture company Mnogo Mebeli, who created the sofa to mark their fifth anniversary. I wonder what they'll do to celebrate their 10th! It is already in the Guinness Book of Records.)

Post by The Learn English Network.

Interesting Fact - Science

Scientists have found that californium, a synthetic chemical element discovered in the early 1950s, shows potential for storing and even recycling radioactive waste into fuel.

(This sounds like great news, until you realise that five milligrams of californium costs a whopping $1.4 million.)

Interesting Video


Interesting Fact - Education

According to a report by Ofsted, pupils in England are losing an hour a day's teaching because of bad behaviour in class.

(Ofsted inspectors found that chatting, calling out, swinging on chairs, passing notes and using mobile phones are "very common" in English schools.  
That's fine, it will prepare them for the English workplace.)

Interesting Fact - Energy

The EU has already banned powerful vacuum cleaners, sparking a rush to buy the last remaining models with motors above the new EU limit of 1,600 watts, but now Europe has its sights on other domestic appliances.

(Toasters, kettles and juicers will have their power consumption reduced.

Other items under the spotlight include heated greenhouses, power tools, gym equipment, food mixers, rice cookers, blenders, deep fat fryers and believe it or not aquarium lights and filters.

I guess that's what you call pulling the plug.)

Interesting Fact - Transport

In 2000, Bogota in Colombia became the first city to restrict the use of private vehicles throughout an entire metropolis for a day.

(The Islands of Sark and Herm (in the Channel Islands) are car free 365 days a year. Herm has even banned bicycles!

I guess it's Shanks' Pony then.)
!Note -  Shanks' Pony describes using your feet as a means of transport. 


22nd September

World No Car Day.  Leave your car at home and cycle, walk, skate to work.

Intereting Place - Australia

The minimum driving age in Australia varies between States and Territories.

(It is 18 years in Victoria, 16 years and 6 months in the Northern Territory and 17 years in all the other states.

I want to know what happens if a 16 year old drives from the Northern Territory to Victoria.)

Interesting Animal - Hedgehog

The hedgehog got its name because it forages in hedges and undergrowth.

(As it moves through the hedges looking for slugs and snails it grunts, like a pig — thus, the name hedgehog.)

Interesting Fact - Piracy

According to a report conducted by the United Nations crime unit, Interpol and the World Bank.
Somali pirates and their peers hijacking vessels in the region made about $400 million in ransom over the past eight years.

(What did they spend their ill-gotten gains on?  Drugs (especially khat), alcohol, women, and believe it or not, real estate.

I wonder if they phone Kirsty and Phil?)


19th September

Speak like a pirate day.

Interesting Fact - Sport

The Scottish referendum isn't the only historic vote taking place today. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, in Scotland,  is set to announce whether it will admit women members for the first time in its 260-year history.

(At the moment men and women can play golf on any of the courses in St. Andrews, this is a more a 19th hole issue - women aren't allowed into the R&A club house - not even as guests.  It sounds like a 19th century issue.)