Lessons in the "Alternative" Category

The Mysterious English Crop Circles

Summertime in South West England sees strange things happening in the farmers’ fields. Mysterious crop circles suddenly appear. No one can explain them. Are they a hoax or are aliens leaving their mark on the English countryside? Maybe it is down to Mother Nature creating these crop circles with various wind patterns?

Whatever the answer no one has come up with the right one yet! One theory is there are a group of crop-circle makers who like to create these elaborate images in the wheat fields. Either way, the result intrigues most English people who find the subject fascinating to discuss.

Of course, if you happen to be a farmer in Wiltshire whose wheat field suddenly has this strange image in it then this can be a problem, as every crop circle costs the farmer money due to flattened wheat. Charging visitors to see them can make up some of the losses.

Category: Mysteries / England / Crop Circles

The British roundabout revolution in the USA

A British roundabout revolution is slowly sweeping across America. The US famous for its stop signs and traffic lights is now starting to embrace the British roundabout. The city of Carmel in Indiana is one such example. It has been described as ‘the Milton Keynes of the USA’.

Lying on the outskirts of Indianapolis, Carmel is seeing more and more roundabouts created. The question is why? The Mayor of Carmel Jim Brainard explains: “We are saving thousands of gallons of fuel per year per roundabout.”

The city is at the forefront of the roundabout revolution that is taking place across several American States. The circular traffic intersection was redesigned in 1960s Britain by Frank Blackmore. He tinkered with the designs and established the modern roundabout by introducing a “Give way” rule for cars entering.

The idea was subsequently exported around the world. It didn’t arrive in the USA till 1990 when one was installed in Nevada. Since then more than 3,000 have sprung up. California has now built 200 in the last three years.

Category: USA / Roundabouts / Transport

Would you take your mother for a meal to McDonald’s?

Would you take your mother for a meal to McDonald’s? That is the question. Well, would you? I ask it, as I took my 87-year-old mother to McDonald’s recently. What an eye opener that was! Why? Because it was her first visit to a McDonald’s in about 40 years! It will probably be her last! She is slightly disabled and I push her around in a wheelchair.

This particular McDonald’s was in Asda, a British supermarket, on the edge of Norwich, England. It was a late lunch, around 3.30pm. We thought Asda’s might have their own restaurant. Horror! There was only a McDonald’s. We decided to try it, as we were on a tight schedule, with little time to hunt elsewhere for lunch.

Category: Food / Restaurants / McDonald’s

The campaign to clean up dog poo

Today’s theme is about dog poo. I mean, there is nothing worse than stepping on some freshly deposited dog poo, is there? Call it what you like; dog fouling, shit, poop, waste or dog crap, it is very annoying when you put your foot in it. Oh, shite…!

Why don’t the owners pick it up and put it in a dog bin? Yes, some people do. They scrape it up using a plastic glove and plastic bag then pop it into a doggie bin. Others walk their dogs, let their dogs crap on the grass then casually walk away as if nothing has happened, leaving the dog faeces to harden.

When challenged the owners simply deny it was their dog that did it. Later some small child might run on the grass. They could pick up a disease from it. This makes some people’s blood boil, to the point where they decide to take action against the dog owners. Some might leave a note on a spike in the dog poo.

Others like Louise Willows recently got so fed up with dog mess in Crouch End, London that she decided to do something about it. She removed the dog mess then left a drawing of a cup cake in a yellow cup in chalk. She also wrote ‘Dog owners please clear up your mess children walk here’. Ironically, she is facing charges for doing this and she had to wash the chalk off!

Category: Environment / Dogs / Dog Poo

Bratislava or Bust!

Whilst flicking through the British newspaper The Times recently an interesting charity advert caught my eye…

  • ‘Bratislava or Bust!’ July 22-26 2011. Meningitis Trust.
  • Set yourself a challenge with a difference for 2011. 1 car. Your friends. 5 days. 6 countries. 1,000 mile road trip of a lifetime. 1 fantastic challenge. 1 fantastic cause. For more information visit www.meningitis-trust.org/BoB Reg charity Nos. 803016/SC037790

Further investigation revealed it’s a charity event for students of all ages! The money raised is for the charity the Meningitis Trust. The event is a car rally that starts in St Omer in northern France. This is where a driver and co-driver check in.

The rally lasts for three to five days. It offers a fun-filled adventure that will see participants wind their way through France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Slovakia. Teams can choose to stop in Italy or go the whole hog and finish in Bratislava. Naturally, it is no ordinary road trip!

Along the way participants will be set a series of daily challenges delivered by the organiser’s man in a white coat, which will test driver’s ingenuity, their co-driver’s map reading skills and the driver’s ability to barter and negotiate in a foreign language! Master the art of the challenges and you will be rewarded with riches and glory.

Category: Car Rallies / Fund Raising / Meningitis

Go to work – on an ostrich egg!

News from the UK advises that Waitrose the supermarket chain has just started selling ostrich eggs. The eggs that can be 24 times bigger than a hen’s can weigh in at almost 2kg (4.4lb). For those hoping to “go to work on an ostrich egg” might think twice and save that particular treat for the weekend, as they can take an hour or two to boil.

You’ll also need a huge appetite to eat a whole one. Described as having a distinctive, light flavour and texture the ostrich eggs are ideal for cooking. They can be fried; hardboiled or scrambled. They also make very good omelettes - using a very large frying pan – just like chicken or duck eggs.

A spokesperson said: “They are very good for meringues because the white is much lighter than chickens’ eggs.” In fact one egg makes 100 meringues or 32 soufflés. Diners are advised that a simple tap of a spoon is unlikely to break the shell. A roasting spike or a domestic drill is more suitable! The reason is that the egg must withstand a 300lb (136kg) bird sitting on it.

Category: Lifestyle / Eggs / Ostrich Eggs

The origins of the word ‘OK’

There are many thoughts as to the origin of the word OK. It is likely to have had African origins. The first written use of the word OK was in Tennessee, America, in 1790. An Andrew Jackson wrote: "Proved a bill of sale from Hugh McGary to Gasper Mansker, for a Negro man, which was O.K.”

However, in the American Choctaw Indian language, there is a word okeh, which means "it is so". It is likely this word was used in some American communities in the early 19th century.

In 1815, a William Richardson who had travelled from New Orleans wrote in his diary: ‘We travelled to NY we arrived OK.’ The Boston Morning Post is credited with introducing the word ‘OK’ (all correct) on 23rd March 1839 in the midst of a long paragraph. In 1840, one presidential candidate Martin van Buren was nicknamed ‘Old Kinderhook’ (OK), as he was a native from Kinderhook, NY.

During the 1830s & 1840s comical abbreviations flourished in the American press, thus helping spread the word. In the 1860s, British people were taught not to use this ‘American word’, as one wouldn’t be speaking ‘correct’ English.

Category: USA / Origin of Words / OK

Horse enjoys a refreshing pint in his local pub

A horse walks into a pub and says, “Mine’s a pint please!” Really? Well, Basil the horse does! The Welsh Cob stallion visits his favoured watering hole every Sunday at the Meynell Ingram Arms in Burton, Staffordshire. In fact, Basil finds nothing more relaxing than a refreshing pint in his local pub.

He enjoys mingling with the locals as he relaxes and sups on his favourite tipple in the country boozer. His favourite drink is the locally brewed ale Marson’s Pedigree, which is always waiting for him at the bar in his very own glass.

Category: England / Pubs / Horse in Pub

Things that make Britain great

What things make Britain great? There are 101 answers to this thought: There is its football league with fans worldwide. Bands and singers have been leading the charts since the 60s.

Great Britain is constantly producing top movie stars. It is the source of some of the best TV shows including comedy ones that are repeated and translated worldwide. It is the origin of international top class brands like Rolls Royce, Harrods, and Cadburys.

There is also Tesco! It has the world’s most famous and internationally known monarch – Queen Elizabeth II. There is HP and Daddies sauce, real ale, parks, piers, seasides and rock - the stuff you eat! Tea - a nice ‘cuppa’ PG Tips! Britain has roundabouts! It also has some of the best tabloid and broadsheet press in the world.

Category: Culture / Life / Great Britain

The mystery of Eleanor Rigby revealed

You have all heard the song Eleanor Rigby. But just who was she? Many people have asked that since the track was released by the Beatles on their 1966 Revolver album. It is one of the Beatles most recognisable and unique songs with striking lyrics about loneliness. According to the song Eleanor Rigby died with no one to mourn her.

Paul McCartney claimed previously that the heroine of the poignant song was fictional. However, in the 1980’s a grave of an E. Rigby was discovered in the churchyard of St Peter’s in Woolton, Liverpool.

McCartney met John Lennon nearby at a fete in 1957. The two used to spend time sunbathing at the graveyard. Her tombstone has since become a landmark for Beatles fans to visit to this day. Meanwhile in 1990 an unusual document was received by an Annie Mawson…

Category: Music / Beatles / Eleanor Rigby