Today, we are going to talk about Guy Fawkes’ Night, or Bonfire Night. The event is held every year in the United Kingdom, on the evening of the fifth of November.
The annual commemoration is to remind us of the events of the 5th November 1605, when Guy Fawkes’, who was a Catholic, was caught and arrested in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament, while guarding the gunpowder that was to be used to blow it up.
Today, let’s talk about Halloween. It occurs once a year on the night of the 31st October. It’s the most likely time you’ll see people dressed up as witches, ghosts, skeletons, monsters, devils, or other weird, supernatural, creatures.
Halloween parties are popular among both children and adults, and dressing up in costume is all part of the fun! Watch out for many a pumpkin with spooky eyes and teeth lit by a candle. Halloween colours are black and orange. Watch out for the spooky masks!
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.
Today, let’s talk about great British inventions. There are many. We will look at a few of them.
The jet engine was invented by a chap called Frank Whittle from Coventry. He was fighter pilot. Whittle realised that piston powered flight was old technology. He designed the gas turbine ‘turbo-jet’ in 1930. Thwarted by the military it wasn’t until 1941 that his jet idea took off in the form of a Gloster E28/39 for a 17 minute flight.
Tin cans used for baked beans and vegetables were invented by a man called Peter Durand. He copied the preserved food in a glass jar idea that Frenchman Nicholas Appert had created, doing it this time with a tin can. The first commercial canning factory was opened in England in 1813.
In today’s English lesson we will look back at 2015. We will talk about some of the things that happened in the world during 2015.
The ongoing war in Syria dominated the news headlines in 2015. That aside, perhaps the biggest event to happen in Europe in 2015 was the great migration crisis. When the German Chancellor Mrs Merkel said ‘All migrants are welcome’ the floodgates were opened. Only Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán challenged her with his fence.
In the States Donald Trump was big news. He’s got a big mouth and wasn’t afraid to use it. Sadly, more people were killed by guns in the USA but as usual nothing was done about it.
The EU migrant crisis is getting worse. It is out of control. The Schengen Zone is collapsing. Germany has now reinstated its borders with Austria. Slovakia and Austria have also reintroduced border controls with Hungary.
Why? Because in the last few months tens of thousands of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and parts of Africa have been crossing Europe to get to Germany.
The Hungarians have now built a 180km long 4m (13ft) high fence along their southern border with Serbia to stop them. At midnight, on the orders of its prime minister Victor Orbán, Hungary sealed its southern border with Serbia.
Today, let’s talk about Nazi gold. It’s a hot topic to discuss, especially since the alleged discovery in the Polish mountains of a long lost Nazi ghost train. Legend says it is full of gold and other such treasures. If the speculation is correct it would be a truly fascinating discovery. Certainly, it would make a good Indiana Jones style movie, for sure!
Seventy years since the end of the Third Reich two treasure hunters have now reported their discovery. The train is said to be hidden in a long-forgotten sealed off tunnel under the mountains near the town of Walbrzych in southern west Poland near the Czech border.
A majestic sea of red poppies now surrounds the Tower of London in London. The display called ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ is in the Tower of London moat. It marks the First World War centenary.
Thousands and thousands of people have visited the display, by artist Paul Cummins, with huge queues forming; such has been the popularity of it. All four sides of the dry moat surrounding the fortress are now blanketed in a sea of scarlet red.
London / Tower of London / Poppy Display
Recently a fascinating story caught my eye. It’s about 20 Spitfires buried in Burma at the end of World War II that have suddenly been discovered! It’s like something out of a boy’s adventure book or an Indiana Jones story. A British farmer’s quest to find a squadron of legendary fighter planes lost in Burma during the war has finally paid off.
Lincolnshire farmer David Cundall, 62, has spent about US$207,000, travelled to Burma a dozen times and negotiated with the cagey Burmese government. All in the hope of finding a stash of iconic British Spitfires that are buried somewhere in the South Eastern Asian country.
Burying planes might sound a bit odd but was commonplace at the end of WWII as the conflict wound down and new jet aircraft replaced propeller-driven fighters. Many aircraft were scrapped, buried or sunk by Allies Forces in order to prevent them from falling into enemy hands.
Category: Discoveries / Aviation / Spitfires
For nearly half a century Bletchley Park, a Victorian manor house near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, lay neglected and unloved; its dilapidated buildings falling into disrepair. By the 90s, its boarded-up huts at its rear were due to be torn down. Yet for more than 50 years the house was shrouded under a veil of secrecy. Only during the last 20 years was its secret finally revealed. It was the place where the codes of the German Enigma machine were broken by a special-purpose codebreaking machine called Colossus.
The secret work at Bletchley Park had, it is believed, shortened the war by up to two years. However, the secrecy came at a cost. Britain lost out to the US in the development of computer technology. So what is the link between Bletchley Park and Google? Simple – there is a desire by some individuals at Google to nurture the past. In fact, Google is helping to spearhead a campaign to save Bletchley Park by restoring it to its former glory. Google has provided the money for the purchase of key papers and is backing the current appeal to restore the derelict block at Bletchley Park.
Category: History / Bletchley Park / Google