Showing posts from March, 2014

Interesting Fact - A Living Wage

According to a report “Tailored Wages”, British high-street clothing labels Debenhams, Matalan and The North Face are among the worst high-street clothing shops at paying a fair wage to those who make their products.

(The analysis of 40 top European clothing brands showed that many major chains are still doing very little to make sure that workers abroad, who produce their goods, are paid a living wage.

The global fashion industry, worth more than £28bn across Europe alone, pays its workers so badly that many cannot afford to live with dignity; earning no more than £5 a day.
The Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed on April 24, killing more than 1,100 people.)


28th March - Homosexual couples will be allowed to marry in England and Wales since the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Since 2005, homosexual couples have been permitted to enter into "civil partnerships", from today they will be able to use something a bit more romantic - "marriage".

Interesting Place - Wigan

According to historian Dr Graham Robb, King Arthur’s Camelot was not in Glastonbury, nor in Tintagel, not in France, but in Wigan.

(To be accurate, it was located in a cul-de-sac, at the end of Brookfield Road in Standish, and nearby you will find the lake where Excalibur was believed to have been thrown upon King Arthur’s death; Martin Mere, the largest freshwater lake in England.

During research for a book, Dr Robb found geographical evidence of two ancient routes, which would have made this location a prominent one in medieval Britain.

Dr Robb did add his assertions were not to be taken literally, but I like the idea, so I'm now going to tell everyone that Camelot is in Wigan.)

I will re-record the song from Camelot:-

It's true! It's true! The crown has made it clear.
The climate must be perfect all the year.

A law was made a distant moon ago here:
July and August cannot be too hot.
And there's a legal limit to the snow here
In Wigan.
The winter is forbidden …


March 28th - National Weed Appreciation Day.

Not "that" kind of weed, proper weeds. So let's hear it for the Dandelion, Thistle, Couch grass, Buttercup
Nettle, Clover, Chickweed and Daisy.

Interesting Fact - Light

According to a freedom of information request, the Metropolitan Police in London spend up to £100 every time a light-bulb needs changing.

(A maintenance firm is paid this amount if a light-bulb "urgently" needs replacing. In "non-urgent" cases it costs a mere £26.

I think I have found my new calling. I've always wanted to bring more light into the world.)

Interesting Food - Bread

Supermarket store Asda charged a customer £450 for a loaf of bread.

(The receipt, which contained their motto 'Saving you money every day', showed that the loaf of Roberts multigrain bread, advertised for 69p, had set him back £450.

How could this have happened? The customer used their self-service checkout. Now I know why I don't trust them.)

Interesting People - Susan Bennett

You've probably never heard of Susan Bennett, but if you own one of the latest Apple phones you will have talked to her. She is the voice behind Siri, Apple's built-in speech-recognition "personal assistant".
(You can listen to the real Siri here:-

Interesting Fact - Money

British broadcaster Channel 4 have allegedly paid Holocaust denier David Irving thousands of pounds for a lock of Adolf Hitler’s hair.

(The bosses of Channel 4 paid for the snipping so they can have DNA tests carried out on it for a new show - Dead Famous DNA. The hair was supposedly collected by Hitler’s barber using sticky tape on the sole of his shoe.

I've heard of diamonds on the sole of your shoes, but never sellotape.)

Interesting Fact - Annoying Sounds

According to Amplifon, a specialist hearing aid retailer in the UK, people eating crisps create the most annoying sound at work.

(The top ten sounds that drive office staff round the bend were:-
Eating crispsSlurping tea and coffeeAnnoying mobile ring tonesThe boss's voicePeople collecting lottery moneyHum of the air conditioningPersonal phone callsIT jargonHold music on the telephoneKeyboard tapping They missed the sound of colleagues snoring. 
Are there any noises that annoy you at work?)

Interesting Fact - Makeup

A study carried out by Fragrance Direct showed that nearly half of young girls in the UK start wearing make-up between the ages of 10 and 15.

(Girls start feeling the pressure to start wearing make-up at the age of 10, and the average age at which girls start wearing make-up is 11 (3 years younger than a decade ago).

With the pressure to look perfect, especially for that "selfie", make-up is increasingly being marketed to preteens: One Direction launched their own make-up line ‘Little Things' in 2013, despite their hit single, What Makes You Beautiful, saying girls 'don't need make-up!'

Well there is a saying in English, "little things please little minds".)
!Note - make-up or makeup, it's a word in transition.

Interesting Fact - Relationships

According to research carried out by four Harvard-trained mathematicians for the OKCupid website, the following three questions will tell you if your relationship is likely to last...
"Do you like horror movies?""Have you ever traveled around another country alone?""Wouldn't it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a boat?" (If you find someone that answers all three the same way you do, negatively, or positively; the two of you are made for each other.
I will try this theory out later.)

Interesting Fact - Selling Homes

According to research commissioned by Millgate Homes the perfect scent to sell a home is a mixture of white tea and fig.

(To date it has been traditional to brew up a pot of coffee, bake bread or put out freshly cut flowers when prospective buyers come to look round a home, and indeed the smell of baking bread and freshly brewed coffee can still be used to sell older properties, because they are associated with feeling homely and warm, but the scents of white tea and fig are better for new builds because they have fresh and clean designs.
I don't even know what white tea smells like.)

Interesting Fact - Twins

Twins, Amy and Katie Elliott, were born an extraordinary 87 days apart.

(Amy was born four months prematurely on June 1, 2012 weighing just 1lb 3oz, but after she was born, her mother Maria's contractions suddenly stopped and doctors decided it was safer for her sister Katie to stay in the womb.  Katie was born on August 27 weighing 5lb 10oz.

The Irish twins are now set to become Guinness World Record holders for the longest time between twins being born.)

Interesting Fact - Peace

According to the Global Peace Index, Europe is the most peaceful area of the world, with 13 of the top 20 most peaceful countries.

(Iceland, Denmark and New Zealand were the top 3 most peaceful countries of 162; the UK ranked 44th.

The Global Peace Index is issued by the IEP (Institute for Economics and Peace) and is a measurement of nations’ and regions’ peacefulness based on external and internal measures.
You can see how well your country ranks on their interactive map:-

Interesting Fact - Reading

Pupils at Hyland School, in Chelmsford, Essex, are being encouraged to read to dogs to help build up their confidence.

(Research suggests children, especially those who struggle with their reading, can be nervous and stressed when reading aloud in class.  Dogs are attentive, but they don't judge or correct pronunciation, or grammatical mistakes.

According to the Kennel Club, who run a programme called  Bark and Read, overcoming fear and fostering a love of reading can be a first step to improving literacy.
One pupil said said: “I think she likes me reading the Guinness Book Of Records as there are a lot of facts about dogs in there."
We will be starting a "Read to Laika" session on 1st April.)

Interesting Fact - Crime

According to official police crime data 1.8 million people in the UK were victims of street crime.

(As more and more people are carrying expensive gadgets like phones and iPads, criminals are now targeting victims in the street.

Surprisingly one in five of all incidents occur early on a Saturday afternoon.

London, Leeds and Nottingham are the street crime hotspots.)

Interesting Fact - Shopping

According to the Wise Marketer website, 96% of the UK adult population are members of at least one loyalty program.

(Of the big 3, Nectar have 11 million, Tesco 10 million and Boots Advantage 15 million customers.

In France I'm always annoyed at not being able to use any queue as loads of tills are reserved for Carrefour (name and shame) loyalty card customers, but, the next generation of supermarket cards are going to be worse. They are set to offer you lower prices as you shop. The prices displayed on shelves will reduce as you pass by with your loyalty card.

Imagine how you would feel if the person in front of you pays less for the same item!
Amusingly, 64% belong to three or more loyalty schemes, which isn't very loyal, is it?)

Interesting Place - Makati City

According to research carried out by Time Magazine, Makati City in the Philippines is the selfie capital of the world, with 258 selfie-takers per 100,000 people.

(TIME built up the database by searching more than 400,000 Instagram photos with  geographic coordinates tagged “selfie”.
The top 10 were:-

Makati City, The Philippines (258)Manhattan in the USA (202)Miami, USA (155)Anaheim and Santa Ana, the USA (147)Petaling Jaya, Malaysia (141)Tel Aviv, Israel (139)Manchester, England (114)Milan, Italy (108)Cebu City, The Philippines (99)George Town, Malaysia (95) I've never taken one.)

Interesting Fact - Money

According to research published by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), smoking breaks and additional sick leave are costing UK businesses £8.7 billion in lost productivity every year.

(Their research showed that the average smoker takes four smoking breaks a day, lasting for around ten minutes. Smokers also take nearly a day more of sick leave a year on average compared to their non-smoking colleagues.

The BHF is calling on employers to join thousands of organisations in running No Smoking Day events today, March 12.)


March 12th is No Smoking Day.

Go on - stub it out.

Interesting Fact - Education

This might surprise you, but in the UK, in the 2012 academic year, 41,224 penalty notices for non-attendance at school were issued to parents.
(That's 56,000 children bunking off every day.  
The parents get penalised because in UK law it is the legal responsibility of parents to ensure their children attend school from the ages of five to 16.

The good news is that the number of persistent truants - those who missed more than a month of schooling - dropped by nearly 60,000 from 392,305 to 333,850.

Some schools offer incentive schemes, and free breakfasts for classes with the best attendance, but the UK still has the highest truancy rate amongst developed nations, and it certainly isn't because of the lovely weather.)

Interesting Food - NHS Food

This goes nicely with what Poetria said in today's reading on Skype.  Only 0.5% of the £95.6 billion budget for the NHS goes on food.

(According to official figures some hospitals spend as little as 69p on each meal. 
That might be about to change as hospitals, schools and prisons are about to be told to buy British.  Whether that will improve the quality of the food is debatable, but it will certainly make it more expensive.)

Interesting Place - Oxford

According to Lloyds bank, Oxford is the least affordable city to live in the UK when compared to local wages.

(On average houses in Oxford sell for £340,000, which is 11 times local salaries.
And renting isn't that great an option either, with one-bed flats fetching around £900 a month, so to be able to afford to rent it you would have to be earning £36,000 a year.
I don't think I'll ever be able to afford to move back to the UK.)

Interesting Words - Loan Words

Loan words are words adopted from another language with little or no modification.According to research by Philip Durkin, a senior editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, the most influential language on English is Latin.

(According to Mr Durkin English contains around 13,000 words with Latin roots.

The next most influential language is French with 6,000 words. (Borrowed - not stolen +Xeb eke .)

In fact, according to Mr Durkin's research, Hawaiian, Turkish, Zulu and Swahili have had more of an impact than Welsh and Cornish.

Welsh ranked 30th.
Cornish came in at 45th place.

Even the word pasty came from France and not Cornwall.)

Source: Borrowed Words by Philip Durkin

Interesting Fact - Money

According to a study carried out by Lloyds Bank Private Banking, a pint of beer in the UK has gone up by 1,948 per cent, since 1973.

(It's no wonder I feel as if I'm working harder but getting poorer.)

Interesting Fact - Accents

Britons are increasingly seeking out elocution lessons in order to "get ahead".

(Seemingly job seekers in the UK and even professionals like doctors and lawyers who want to climb the career ladder, worry their accents are holding them back.  Even parents worry that their children will miss out on places at elite schools unless they speak “posh.”

Some tutors are charging up to 80 quid an hour for their services!

I'm in the wrong job.)

Interesting Fact - Viruses

An ancient virus, which was found frozen in a deep layer of the Siberian permafrost has come back to "life".

(It is thought to have lain dormant for at least 30,000 years, but after it thawed it became infectious once again.

At 1.5 micrometres in length, it is the biggest virus that has ever been found. Luckily it poses no threat to humans or animals. It attacks amoebas, the big bully.
I say "life" in quotes because of course, viruses aren't actually alive.)


Misao Okawa celebrates her 116th birthday.   Happy Birthday!

She was born in Osaka, Japan, in the year 1898, when Queen Victoria was still on the British throne, the Spanish American War was raging and Horatio Kitchener triumphed in the Battle of Omdurman.

Her advice is to eat three large meals a day and make sure you sleep eight hours a night.

(It's not often that you get to use large ordinal numbers.)

Interesting Food - Pancakes

The £144 record for the most expensive pancake has been broken, with a restaurant in the UK serving up a pancake that will set you back a whopping £800.

(Chef Matthew Downes at the Opus restaurant in Mancester, has created what is now the world's most expensive pancake using Scottish lobster, Beluga caviar and Hulle Verge Truffle all served with a Dom Perignon Rose champagne hollandaise sauce.
If you want to save yourself a fortune, try my recipe:, served with sugar and lemon juice, you can't beat it.)


Today 4th March is Shrove Tuesday.  All the shops in the UK will be running out of milk, eggs and lemons.

Interesting People - Astrid Byro

Astrid Byro is a Technical project manager, in 2013 she planned to work remotely from 5,000 metres above sea level in the Himalayas.

(The idea was to prove that working remotely was possible. She was planning to use a Kindle Fire tablet to access an online project tracking system, Jira. 
What makes this really interesting, apart from the fact that it is interesting in its own right, is there doesn't seem to be any information on how this attempt went.  Her blog simply stops.

Does anyone know anything?)

Interesting Word - Ukraine

The word "Ukraine" can be translated into English as "close to the edge".

(It can be formed from Russian or Polish with u which can mean "close" or "at" and krai which means "edge" or "border". )

Interesting Fact - Traffic

According to a report by traffic information firm Inrix, the average driver in the UK spends 30 hours stuck in traffic jams, every year.

(That rises to almost 82 hours in London, which is the second most congested major city in Europe after Brussels.

I'm so grateful that I don't have to commute any more, just get up and roll downstairs every morning. There's never a traffic jam, but I sometimes have to fight my way past Laika to turn the computer on.)