Lessons in the "Alternative" Category

Getting ready for the 2016 London Marathon

This year’s London Marathon takes place on Sunday April 24. The runners who are taking part are currently gearing themselves up ready to take on the gruelling 26.218 mile race, for what will no doubt be an amazing unforgettable experience.

The London Marathon is actually one of the biggest events of its kind in the world – but it requires a lot of practice beforehand – as in running practice!

Runners will ideally need to have a good pair of trainers and the right kit. They will need to train, set themselves a goal, and have a training plan. They should have a stopwatch, pace themselves, and have plenty of patience to progress in their running ahead of the big day.

St. George’s Day

Who is the patron saint of England? It is St. George. English people celebrate St. George’s Day every year on April 23rd.

It has to be said though that unlike the Scottish and Irish, who celebrate their patron saints in style and by drinking alcohol, the English really do not celebrate their day! In recent years efforts have been made to increase the day’s importance, but it actually lacks serious effort by the English.

Back in the 60s, when I was a boy at primary school, in class we used to play St. George and the Dragon. This was done in the form of a Mummers play, as it was known. The story being that St. George would kill the dragon then rescue the damsel in distress. It is a fairytale. By the 12th century the legendary story had become widespread.

Tesla launches new electric car

Recently popular luxury electric carmaker Tesla Motors revealed to the world its much anticipated Tesla Model 3. The new prototype electric car was unveiled by Tesla CEO Elon Musk at Tesla’s Los Angeles design studio in California, USA.

The new Model 3 will have a starting price of US$35,000. However, it won’t be available till the end of 2017. It can be ordered in many countries around the world including the UK, India, China and New Zealand. It will be Tesla’s first mass produced electric car.

In the first two days alone pre-orders surpassed 276,000. Every car was secured by a deposit of US$1,000 or similar in other currencies. Unlike deposits for iPhones, the Tesla deposits are fully refundable.

The UK’s Top Tourist Attractions

Today let’s talk about the UKs top tourist attractions. Top of the list is the British Museum (6.8m) in London. This is followed by the National Gallery (5.9m). In third place is the Natural History Museum (5.2m).

The figures were compiled by the Leading Visitor attractions (Alva). Altogether some 124.4 million visits were made to 230 Alva sites last year. This is 3.2% higher than the year before.

The rise was due to increased interest in big temporary attractions in London – up 1.6%, and in Scottish attractions – up 5.5%. London claimed the top 10 most popular sites.

April Fools’ Day

Today, let’s talk about April Fools’ Day. Known also as All Fools’ Day it is celebrated on the morning of the 1st April when practical jokes and hoaxes are played on people. The victims are called April fools! Newspapers are fond of reporting fake stories, which are normally explained the next day.

April Fools’ Day in the UK can be traced back to around 1392 to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The Nun’s Priest’s Tale mentions ‘Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two’. The passage was meant to mean 32 days after March – 2nd May – but was mistook for 32nd March i.e. 1st April.

21st Century Slavery

It may surprise you but today there are thousands of people around the world stuck in modern day slavery. It is a scandal that many governments are failing to tackle.

You might be thinking slavery was abolished in the 19th century. It was, only today it is once again flourishing. It is a global issue that needs resolving. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recently reported that 21 million people, five million of whom are children, are victims of forced labour.

Would you like to live and work in Antarctica?

Recently four jobs were advertised to work in the British post office in Antarctica. More than 50 people applied for them. The jobs at Port Lockroy in British Antarctica Territory offer a monthly salary of around £1,100. Applications are now closed.

Those selected will see some wonderful mountain scenery including a lot of snow and virtually 24 hours of daylight. Applicants should however be aware of the 2,000 odd penguins they’ll have for company. The job itself involves cleaning penguin poo from the surrounding paths near the post office.

February 29

Today, we are going to talk about February 29. The extra day occurs once every four years. It is called a Leap Day and is added to the calendar. When there is a leap year there are 366 days rather than 365 days of the year.

The previous leap year was in 2012. This year sees another leap year. The extra day is added because of the way the Solar System works. A complete orbit of the Earth around the sun actually takes approximately 365.2422 days.

Why are there 29 days in February rather than 30 or 31? This is down to history. During the Roman Empire Emperor Julius Caesar ordered his astronomer Sosigenes to simplify the 355 day Roman calendar, which had an extra 22 days added on every two years. Sosigenes created the 365 day year, with an extra day every 4 years.

Blogger saves £7.72 on train fare from Sheffield to Essex by flying via Berlin

Recently, teenage blogger Jordon Cox decided to do a return journey from Shenfield in Essex to Sheffield in northern England. Cox, 18, managed to book himself a cheap £19 ticket for the journey north but discovered the cheapest fare home was £47. An open return would have cost him £97.70. He decided to look for an alternative way to get home.

Following some online research he discovered he could save money on the rail ticket if he included a flight via Berlin in Germany. The ticket would normally have cost £47.00 by train and taken 3½ hours. By going via Berlin it took him an extra 1,017 miles and 13 hours to get home. It also included a quick tour of Berlin.

(Photo: Jordan Cox)

Valentine’s Day!

Today let’s talk about Valentine’s Day! In case you didn’t know it is on February 14th. It is celebrated in many countries around the world. These days it is pretty commercial. Known also as St Valentine’s Day it is associated with love! Valentine’s Day symbols include heart shapes, doves and the figure of a winged cupid.

In Britain in the 18th century handwritten greeting cards were sent. Lovers also expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, and confectionary. By 1900 handwritten cards had given way to mass-produced greeting cards; all these traditions still continue. Nowadays lovers also send SMS messages and email cards. A dozen red roses remain a popular gift to send your lover.