Lessons in the "Alternative" Category

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

Mind your manners guys on your first date

Going on a date tonight? Be it your first or fifth date most people would want to make a good impression. Wouldn’t you?

A recent survey published in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper said clicking your fingers at a waiter on a first date is faux pas. It was voted the rudest, attention-grabbing gesture - beating even drowning a dish in salt before even tasting it or getting drunk at the table. Other inappropriate acts which will insure the first date is the only date were licking the plate clean, burping & picking teeth with fingers.

The poll of 3,000 people was conducted by internet market research company www.onepoll.com. “There are basic rules of etiquette which should be adhered to when eating out – and they’re not hard to remember,” a spokesman said adding, “The majority of respondents only expect basic good manners from their dining companions – so burping, coughing, breaking wind and obscenities are definitely off the menu.” These are the manners of a pig.

Category: Lifestyle / Etiquette / Dating

Mysterious Slovak words in Yellow Submarine

Now, you have all heard the song Yellow Submarine by the Beatles. We must all have sung it at some point in our lives. But how many of you actually knew that mysterious Slovak words exist in the song? Not many of you I guess.

One has to listen very carefully to find them but as I discovered they are indeed hidden in the depths of the submarine song! Only a few people in Slovakia know this carefully guarded secret. I discovered about it in a pub thanks to a friend who later sent me a link, as I didn’t believe him.

Here in Slovakia the words have become a kind of myth. One has to listen to the song carefully then after about 1 min 40 secs is a single sentence in the Slovak language. Miss it and you have to listen again but then it gets harder to spot as I discovered. The actual words are “Mozte mi vylizat.” The sentence though is not part of the “official” lyrics.

Irritating British bedtime habits

You have just got off to sleep when suddenly your partner decides to tuck the duvet around them and roll away from you. This ‘tuck and roll’, as it’s called, is one of a number of irritating bedtime habits that have been revealed in a recent survey of British couples - according to Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Another is the ‘midnight shuffle’ where one sleeper moves away from the other and is slowly followed across the bed by their partner. Eventually, the creeper forces the other to hang on precipitously off the edge of the bed until they are woken up and crossly sent back from where they came. Nearly a fifth (19%) of respondents aged 25-50 complained about the problem.

The survey of 1,000 people by Debenhams, the British department store, revealed some other interesting habits, for example, snoring, talking and fidgeting and the grinding of teeth. Surprisingly flatulence under the covers only accounts for one per cent of complaints!

Women more attracted to men in expensive cars

It is a well-known fact that women prefer men with expensive cars. Now research has proved this point – Britain’s Daily Telegraph recently reported. A university team at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff showed women pictures of the same man sitting in two cars – a £70,000 silver Bentley Continental and a battered old Ford Fiesta.

The women who were aged between 21-40, picked the man sitting in the Bentley ahead of the same man in the Ford. Dr Michael Dunn from the university said, “It shows women rate a man higher if he is behind the wheels of a fancy motor rather than an old banger.”

The findings published recently in the British Journal of Psychology show that men are more interested in a woman’s looks not her motor. The researchers say the men tested in the same way are not impressed by whatever car a woman drives because they judge purely on her face and figure.