Lessons in the "UK" Category

Queen Elizabeth II is now Britain’s longest serving monarch

Today, Queen Elizabeth II became Britain’s longest-reigning monarch when she passed the record set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria. The Queen has reigned now for more than 63 years seven months.

The Queen, who is 89, spent today on official duties in Scotland. It is a normal working day for her with no special celebration. Originally though it was to have been a ‘no-fuss day’ spent at Balmoral, but after caving in to demands that she should be seen on such a momentous day, she agreed to undertake an engagement.

The UK Airport Shop VAT Rip-Off!

Today, let’s talk about how airport shops in the UK are ripping off many of their customers. They do it by asking to see their customers boarding passes. After processing it they get it back. What they don’t tell the customer is why they actually do this.

The answer was revealed by The Independent newspaper. It is simply an elaborate ruse by airport shops to save on their tax bills while keeping prices high.

Scotland’s Answer to Route 66

Today, we are going to talk about epic road trips. Probably the most famous one to travel along is Route 66 in America. Now there is a new route for you to consider – in Scotland.

North Coast 500 or NC500 is a brilliant new route to journey along. It takes you right around the northern coast of Scotland. It has already been named one of the top coastal routes in the world.

Time to discuss the time

Two hundred or so years ago every town and city in the UK had a different time. For example, if it was 11.00am in London, in Bristol, which is 200 miles to the west, it would be 10.50am. This is because each had their own time according to a local sundial. Local time had worked for hundreds of years – right across the world in fact!

When the railways started running, a railway timetable was introduced, as trains need to run on a timetable. This meant there could only be one time, from which everything would run from. That time in the UK was Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The time signal for this ran from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, along cables that ran alongside the railway lines to every station in the UK.

Scottish referendum – Yes or No?

Today, let’s talk about the forthcoming Scottish referendum. The vote on whether to stay in the United Kingdom or become an independent country will take place on Thursday 18th September 2014. The question voters in Scotland will vote on is: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” Voters can choose the following answers; either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’?

Coincidentally, 2014 is the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn when the English were defeated by the Scots. The Ryder Cup (Golf) is also being held in 2014 and recently Scotland held the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. For these reasons Scottish National Leader Alex Salmond chose to want the vote in 2014.

Category: Scotland / Scottish Referendum / Independence

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

Today let’s talk about this year’s Commonwealth Games that are taking place in Glasgow, Scotland. The 11 day event is on between the 23rd July and 3rd August.

Celtic Park will host the 20th Commonwealth Games Opening ceremony that will be attended by over 4,500 athletes and their coaches. Legendary singer Rod Stewart will perform to the 40,000 crowd together with Britain’s Got Talent finalist Susan Boyle. The stadium is home to the famous Celtic Football Club.

Category: Sport / Commonwealth Games 2014 / Glasgow

The Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

Did you see it? The Olympic Games opening ceremony – live from London. ‘The greatest show on earth’ proved to be exactly that. It was breathtaking! The event was unveiled to the world at 9pm BST on Friday 27th July. The London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony was watched by an estimated billion TV viewers. Danny Boyle’s 3-½ hour epic showpiece made compulsive viewing.

Category: Sport / Olympic Games / London 2012

The link between Bletchley Park and Google

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

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

Witch required for Wookey Hole Caves in Britain - must be able to cackle!

An old hag with an evil laugh is being sought after to live in Wookey Hole Caves this summer. The caves near Wells, Somerset, are one of Britain's top tourist attractions. Laced with stalactites and stalagmites they are a favourite among tourists who visit the West Country.

An advertisement for the unique job has been placed at the local job centre for someone to teach visitors about witchcraft and magic. The caves' previous witch Jane Brenner is hanging up her broomstick after 6 years in the job and is moving onto a different post. The successful candidate 'must be able to cackle' and 'must not be allergic to cats'.

They must also 'be prepared to stay in the caves overnight'. Knowledge of the art of witchcraft is essential! The lucky person will enjoy a salary of £50,000 pro rata based on work during school holidays and at weekends. Wookey Hole said the role was open to women, men and even trans-gender witches in order to comply with sexual discrimination laws...