The Mystery of Dr James Barry
Jul25

The Mystery of Dr James Barry

Dr James Barry James Barry, born in the eighteenth century, had a long and successful career as a medical surgeon in the British army. He fought and practised medicine all over the British Empire with distinction. He achieved the rank of medical superintendent general and eventually retired to London after and exciting career that even included duels of honour. A confirmed bachelor, he died in 1965. Of course, this isn’t a very...

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Alcock and Brown
Jul24

Alcock and Brown

 Who were Alcock and Brown? If you asked people to name pioneers of aviation, which names do you think you’d hear? Charles Lindbergh would be one. Amelia Earhart would probably get a mention too, as would the Wright brothers. But Alcock and Brown were the first to fly across the Atlantic non-stop. Sadly, they are largely forgotten now. Many people believe that this distinction should go to Charles Lindbergh but he was the first...

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The Yorkshireman and the Sahara
Jul23

The Yorkshireman and the Sahara

Eric Jackson: Petrol in My Blood If you’re looking for a great read, full of adventure, humour and history, then I definitely recommend Petrol in My Blood by Eric Jackson. This is the autobiography of a Yorkshireman, born in a gipsy caravan in 1924, who started life with humble origins. Written when the author was in his eighties, the book spans generations and it’s a miracle that, because of his adventures, that he...

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Andrew Morton: 17 Carnations
Jul23

Andrew Morton: 17 Carnations

17 Carnations: The Duke & Duchess of Windsor and the Nazis. Less than two years before the Second World War began, the king of England abdicated from the throne. And the Nazis wanted to use him for their own ends. After the war, the Allies spent ten years recovering secret German files that revealed their plans. That sounds like the basis for an excellent novel but this book is non-fiction. In addition, American industrialists...

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Quiz: The Beatles’ Wives
Jul22

Quiz: The Beatles’ Wives

Quiz: How much do you know about the Beatles’ wives? Just four lads from Liverpool – but between them, they’ve had a wide variety of partners. I guess this is understandable because all four are (or were) rather cute and they certainly had the money that many a girl finds attractive. Of course, some of the wives (do you know how many and which they were?) married their Beatles before they found fame and fortune....

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Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler: By Trudi Kanter
Jul22

Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler: By Trudi Kanter

Holocaust memoir from Vienna. Trudi is an independent young woman – a hat designer – separated from her husband and living in Vienna just before the outbreak of the Second World War. She falls in love with Walter, a charming and intelligent man. Her parents live nearby, Trudi has her wonderful man and her own flourishing business. What could possibly go wrong? Of course, we know the answer to that question now –...

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Who was Georgia Tann?
Jul22

Who was Georgia Tann?

Who was Georgia Tann? Georgia Tann was the seemingly benevolent organiser of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, starting in the nineteen twenties. However, the society was little more than a front for her black-market dealings. Georgia Tann sold babies. Back in those days, treatment for couples who couldn’t conceive,or for women who couldn’t carry a baby to term, was very primitive compared to today’s...

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Grand Prix Gourmet: German Apple Cake
Jul21

Grand Prix Gourmet: German Apple Cake

German Apple Cake. This recipe dates from 1931! And unlike other apple cakes, this features a dough rather than pastry. It’s a very adaptable recipe but I have written it below in its original version.  There are many changes you can make to suit your tastes. For example: Add a little nutmeg – I always find that it goes so well with apple dishes Top the cake with slivered almonds Sprinkle powered sugar on top before...

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Those Loftus Road Nights
Jul20

Those Loftus Road Nights

Night time matches were the best. Early evening I’d head up into the setting sun to East Acton where my young mate Hiro lived, then we’d walk back down to the Bush and join the gathering crowds. We never missed a home game and took in a few away trips too.  We’d started going to games back when Rangers were really good, “top team in London” under the guidance of coach Gerry Francis and led by the mighty...

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Microwave ovens: Yes or no?
Jul19

Microwave ovens: Yes or no?

Microwave cooking: Yes or no? It’s quite surprising how divided opinion is about microwave ovens. At one time, a microwave was an essential in my kitchen but I haven’t owned one for years. Some people say this this is food snobbery. Yet although so many people own microwaves (83%of households in the UK) surveys show that they wouldn’t want to think that meals served to them in restaurants are cooked using this...

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Plane Lost in the Andes for Fifty Years
Jul18

Plane Lost in the Andes for Fifty Years

What happened to the British South American Airways Avro Lancastrian Star Dust? In 1947, an aircraft flying over the treacherous Andes Mountains, and all the passengers and crew aboard, disappeared into thin air. The radio operator sent a strange message which has not been deciphered to this day and the aircraft wasn’t seen again – for over fifty years. The plane, Star Dust, was a converted World War 2 bomber. The crew...

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Miss Marple: Margaret Rutherford’s Family Murder
Jul17

Miss Marple: Margaret Rutherford’s Family Murder

Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. Margaret Rutherford was a much-loved British actress and probably her best known role was that of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. And yet because of a tragic murder in her own family, Miss Rutherford almost turned down the part of the famous elderly amateur detective. The public was almost denied from seeing her in  this most memorable role. MGM, the movie studio, was planning to make Murder...

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Colour Notes: Fast food
Jul16

Colour Notes: Fast food

Colour notes: Fast food The study of colour is a huge subject. Researches have shown that certain colours affect us in different ways. Some of these are obvious; blue – the colour of a sunny sky and a clear ocean – is a soothing colour. Red, on the other hand, creates excitement – and hunger. Just think about how many fast food logos use red. McDonald’s of course, Wendy’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dominos,...

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Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers
Jul16

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. When I was  kid, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films often used to be shown on the television on Sunday afternoons. Despite the fact that they were about thirty years old by that time, they were truly entrancing. I loved the music, the dancing, the humour and most of all, Ginger Roger’s  frocks. But it was one of those wonderful dresses – the one you see above – that cause chaos when...

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Porfirio Rubirosa: The pepper mill playboy
Jul15

Porfirio Rubirosa: The pepper mill playboy

Porfirio Rubirosa: The pepper mill playboy. Rubirosa was a well-known character in the nineteen fifties and sixties. He either married,or had affairs with, some of the richest,most beautiful women in the world. This charm was legendary. Amongst the women he attracted were heiresses and movie stars. He was something of a dare-devil, enjoying fast cars, skiing, flying,playing polo and having dangerous liaisons with married women. It was...

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Royal Feud: Wallis Simpson and Elizabeth
Jul14

Royal Feud: Wallis Simpson and Elizabeth

The royal feud between Queen Elizabeth & Wallis Simpson. The great feuds of history usually involve the desire for power. What makes this twentieth century royal feud extraordinary is that this feud of over fifty years was brought about because of unwanted power and position. This battle royal persisted from 1935 until 1986 and its protagonists were Queen Elizabeth and Wallis Simpson (later the Duchess of Windsor). The two women...

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New York City – Food Capital of America
Jul13

New York City – Food Capital of America

New York City has always fascinated me. As a small kid living on a small island in the middle of the Pacific, New York city seemed bigger than life and I dreamt of the day I would visit the iconic city. My dream finally came true when I was 21 years old. I found myself being relocated for work to Philadelphia so after I getting settled, I took a weekend trip to New York. I still remember my first sight of the New York City skyline-I...

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Who Was Mr Simpson?
Jul12

Who Was Mr Simpson?

For anyone who is familiar with the history of the twentieth century, the name of Mrs Simpson is well known. She was the American divorcée who captivated the then king of England, Edward VIII. Famously he abdicated from the throne in order to marry her whereupon they became known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Their story, somewhat erroneously referred to as the ‘love affair of the century’, has been recreated in...

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Recipe: Mushrooms in red wine sauce
Jul11

Recipe: Mushrooms in red wine sauce

This is a splendid recipe which we often have as the main dinner course. We are a non meat eating household but I’ve served this dish to devoted carnivores who love it. If you wish, it’s excellent to serve as a side dish or even as an appetizer.Because these delicious mushrooms are cooked and served in a red wine sauce, it’s quite a rich dish that is perfect to serve with pasta or rice. Its very richness also makes...

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Prince John: The Hidden Royal
Jul10

Prince John: The Hidden Royal

What is the truth about Prince John? For many years, few members of the public had even heard about Prince John. And a lot of the ‘information’ that exists about him is actually incorrect. The story that many people have heard about Prince John has often been used to ‘demonstrate’ that the British royal family are a heartless, unfeeling bunch. The myth is that John, who was the youngest of George V’s...

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Jacquard Sweaters & Jackets: So Stylish
Jul09

Jacquard Sweaters & Jackets: So Stylish

Jacquard sweaters – so fashionable We’re often told that the basics of a good wardrobe is classic clothes. And it’s true. Classically styled garments are timeless and remain fashionable for ever. They are never out of date. But this doesn’t mean that classics should be dull – so many people buy them in just black, grey or other neutrals – they can also be fun. Take this jacquard sweater you see on...

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Songs about Cities – Moscow
Jul08

Songs about Cities – Moscow

Before I start I would like to apologise in advance to my Russian friends who might be expecting Muslim Magomayev’s Greatest City on Earth, or a blast of Moya Moskva. And forgive my occasional inclusion of more general Russian songs too. I’m also writing this from a peculiarly British perspective, as most of my impressions of the city filtered through Hollywood movies, Peter and the Wolf the occasional bottle of...

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Guy Bradley: Murder in the Everglades
Jul07

Guy Bradley: Murder in the Everglades

Guy Bradley: A true story about an environmental murder. Does environmental murder seem to be strange description? This is the true story that took place in the Florida Everglades in 1905. At and before the turn of the century, there was a huge fashion in America that dictated that the truly stylish woman wore hats decorated with bird plumes. In order to satisfy the trade, beautiful birds – many endangered – were shot in...

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Summer Pudding. Grand Prix Gourmet, Britain
Jul07

Summer Pudding. Grand Prix Gourmet, Britain

Summer pudding with strawberries and blackberries. This was a popular dessert in our family when I lived in England and we still love it. It’s easy to make and inexpensive, especially when strawberries and blackberries are plentiful. In fact, you can use other berries too and the fruit will go even further if you add chopped apple. This recipe is incredibly versatile. It’s quick to prepare too. The pudding requires just a...

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Last Chain on Billie
Jul06

Last Chain on Billie

Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top. Although the title of this book seems to suggest that this is the story of one elephant, it is really a fascinating history of elephants in captivity in the United States. Using the story of Billie’s life as a background author Carol Bradley tells about the earliest days of elephants being brought into the country to appear in circuses, fairs and...

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Who Was John Bindon?
Jul05

Who Was John Bindon?

John Bindon: A true story of murder, scandal, gangsters, sex and …. royalty. Who was John Bindon and what was his connection to the aristocracy, the criminal underworld, film stars, gangsters and even members of the British royal family? It sounds like a plot for a highly fictional movie but John Bindon was a real person and he is the common denominator between the shady world of gangland England and the highest members of the...

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Speed Records at Daytona Beach
Jul04

Speed Records at Daytona Beach

Early speed trials at Daytona, Florida. The name of Barney Oldfield was making headlines on March 16th, 1907. They proclaimed that he was the ‘speed king of the world’. At that time, the public – and experts -pondered about that sort of speeds the human body could endure and Oldfield – seen on the right – had just become the fastest human being on earth. He had driven his Benz at over one hundred and...

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Hetty Green
Jul03

Hetty Green

Who was Hetty Green? Hetty Green was at one time one of the richest women in the world, certainly in the United States. She was born in 1834 to a wealthy family. She also had the advantage of being the only offspring her parents managed to bring up. She’d had a younger brother but he had died as a child. However, her parents – especially her father – had particularly wanted a son so Hetty never felt loved. But she...

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Who is Helmut Marko?
Jul02

Who is Helmut Marko?

 Who is Helmut Marko? In recent years, Formula One fans grew accustomed to the sight of Austrian Helmut Marko looking proudly on as his protege, Sebastian Vettel, was on the podium when he drove for Red Bull Racing. But who is he? What’s his background? He qualified as a lawyer but did you know that he was once a Formula One driver himself? His record comes nowhere close to that of ‘his boy’ Vettel- he scored no...

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Nicholas Winton: The British Schindler
Jul01

Nicholas Winton: The British Schindler

Nicholas Winton: War hero. In the winter of 1938, Nicholas Winton was a twenty eight year old banker living in London. He heard about the Jewish refugees in  Czechoslovakia so instead of going on his planned skiing holiday, he went to Prague and in the months to follow personally arranged for 669 Jewish children to be transported to the safety of England. And yet at the time, he told no-one about what he was doing.It was only...

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Grand Prix Gourmet: Austrian Schnitzel with Chicken
Jun30

Grand Prix Gourmet: Austrian Schnitzel with Chicken

When you think of Austrian food, what comes to mind?  Sacher Torte?  Knodel?  Perhaps one of the delicious cookies, like the linzer tarts with jam filling?  At our house Austrian meant Schnitzel with red cabbage. Most commonly made with pork or veal, we eventually switched to chicken.  Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cook in just a few minutes. My husband was the master of this process. One of the secrets is slicing the chicken...

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Who Was Charles Blondin?
Jun30

Who Was Charles Blondin?

Who was Charles Blondin? During Victorian times, tightrope walkers – or high wire performers as we would probably call them today – were often referred to by the generic name ‘blondin’. This was thanks to Frenchman Charles Blondin. Blondin was without doubt the most skillful and daring tightrope performer in the world at that time. His name became synonymous with the craft. Victorian society craved sensation....

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Occupied by the Germans in WW2: The ChanneI Islands
Jun30

Occupied by the Germans in WW2: The ChanneI Islands

Under Nazi rule: Jersey, Alderney, Sark and Guernsey The scene that you see above is a typical one and shows the British island of Jersey before the Second World War. What a peaceful scene it is. The castle overlooks the calm, blue sea. Jersey cows are contentedly grazing. There is rolling countryside and a man and boy sit enjoying the scenery and the peace of the island. But this traditional and sleepy, rural way of life was to...

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Who Was Mara Scherbatoff?
Jun28

Who Was Mara Scherbatoff?

Mara Scherbatoff, Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller. Marilyn Monroe and playwright Arthur Miller had met in 1951 but by 1956, the press were aware that the couple were soon to marry.  Monroe and Miller were at his farmhouse home in Roxbury and reporters were gathering in number outside waiting for news. The couple had promised to give a press conference on the afternoon of June 29th. The media suspected that the couple would announce...

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The Boy in the Song: Someone Saved My Life Last Night
Jun27

The Boy in the Song: Someone Saved My Life Last Night

Elton John’s Someone Saved My Life Tonight. In 1975, Elton John released the album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy – which was an autobiographical record of his songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin and his earlier days in the music business. So who was it who saved Elton John’s life? And was this literally or figuratively? Well, it was a bit of both. Mainly, it referred to a time when Bernie Taupin...

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Nora Ephron: Everything is Copy
Jun26

Nora Ephron: Everything is Copy

Everything is copy – true? Writer Nora Ephron was told this by her mother. Her parents were both writers and Nora took the words to heart – she wrote a great deal about her own experiences. I think most writers would agree that writing about personal experience is not only easier, it’s more fun and quite possibly more interesting to the reader simply because it comes from the heart. But I’m not talking here...

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Who Was Lance Reventlow?
Jun24

Who Was Lance Reventlow?

He had several step-fathers. One was Cary Grant. One was a prince and another a baron. Another was Porfirio Rubirosa – famous for having an extremely large male appendage. When Lance was just a baby, his mother had an affair with Howard Hughes. She was Barbara Hutton, the heir to the Woolworth fortune and Lance was the product of her three year marriage to (deep breath) Count Kurt Heinrich Eberhard Erdmann Georg von...

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In Praise of Sensational Women – Mavis Staples
Jun24

In Praise of Sensational Women – Mavis Staples

Andy Royston pays tribute to a true musical legend, the magnificent Mavis Staples. We’ve come here tonight to bring you some joy, some happiness, inspiration, and some positive vibrations! We want to leave you with enough to last you for maybe the next six months. – Mavis Staples / Live: Hope at the Hideout Mavis is coming to Fort Lauderdale,just a walk away from my home and I just cannot wait. Here is an American voice...

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Did President Kennedy’s Drug Use Affect His Leadership?
Jun24

Did President Kennedy’s Drug Use Affect His Leadership?

  When John  Kennedy’s medical records were released, they revealed that the president had been taking an enormous cocktail of prescription drugs. Many of these drugs would be considered unsuitable – if not illegal – today. Throughout his life, Kennedy was besieged by medical problems, starting when he was a young teenager and suffered from colitis. It was in London, where his father was ambassador prior to...

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Grand Prix Gourmet: French Lemon Chicken
Jun23

Grand Prix Gourmet: French Lemon Chicken

French Lemon Chicken recipe This recipe comes from the delightful book, How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits and is authentically modern French. This is not one of those classic French dishes that will have you slaving over a hot stove all day. This is the sort of food that today’s Parisian woman – stylish, busy and entertaining – cooks for her dinner party guests. This is so simple to...

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John Cleese: So Anyway…
Jun23

John Cleese: So Anyway…

John Cleese: So Anyway… What makes us laugh? What is funny? John Cleese knows. But did you know that we might never have never have known Monty Python and Basil Fawlty? John Cleese was sure that he was going to have a career in law. That’s what he was studying at university and he had been offered legal position – with a wage of £12 a week – with a prestigious firm of solicitors. (Can you imagine Basil Fawlty...

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Wilson B. Hickox
Jun22

Wilson B. Hickox

Wilson B. Hickox: Poisoned by the government. There’s no doubt that Wilson Hickox died a gruesome death. On 23rd June, 1927, he booked into the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. Wilson was a prosperous businessman from Cleveland, Ohio. He had spent the evening out on the town and settled down in his hotel room  and poured himself a nightcap. Soon, he was struck by some unpleasant symptoms. His throat and chest began to tighten...

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Royal Scandal: Prince Edward
Jun22

Royal Scandal: Prince Edward

Prince Edward: A virtually unknown member of the royal family. You might not have heard of Prince Eddy. It’s true that over the years he has been largely considered to be homosexual and, to put it nicely, mentally challenged. It’s true that his existence has been overshadowed by his the life of his brother but why did poor Eddy slip into obscurity? I say ‘poor Eddy’ because no-one seems to challenge the general...

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Queen Victoria and Haemophilia
Jun21

Queen Victoria and Haemophilia

Does haemophilia show Queen Victoria’s true paternity? When Queen Victoria gave birth to her eighth child, Leopold, both parents were surprised to see how small the baby was. They had previously produced healthy, bouncing babies so Leopold came as something of a shock. When he was just  few months old, bruises appeared on his body as he was diagnosed as having haemophilia – ‘the bleeding disease’. This was the...

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Started Early, Took My Dog: Kate Atkinson
Jun20

Started Early, Took My Dog: Kate Atkinson

Started Early, Took My Dog: Kate Atkinson What a remarkable book. It’s always a little tricky to write about a mystery story without alerting the reader to spoilers but if you’ve read Kate Atkinson’s books before, you’ll know that you’re in for a treat. If you haven’t, then what are you waiting for? It’s certainly time you discovered this author and her current series. Kate Atkinson has always...

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The Girl in the Song: She’s Leaving Home
Jun19

The Girl in the Song: She’s Leaving Home

The Beatles’ She’s Leaving Home: The inspiration. Melanie Coe was seventeen years old when she ran away from home. The story of her disappearance was reported in the British newspaper, The Daily Mirror, and when Paul McCartney read it, he began to write the song She’s Leaving Home. What he didn’t realise what that he had met Melanie three years previously, in 1963. She had been on the television show, Ready,...

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Spicy eggplant recipe from India
Jun19

Spicy eggplant recipe from India

Spicy eggplant recipe from India Serve this fabulous eggplant dish as a side or an appetiser. It’s lovely as a meat-free meal too, served with rice and yogurt. Or serve with Indian flatbreads for a truly authentic touch.     Save Print Spicy eggplant recipe from India Rating  5 from 1 reviews Cook time:  1 hour Total time:  1 hour Serves: 6 Ingredients 1¾ pounds eggplant, cut into wedges about 2 inches...

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The Ghost and Mrs Muir
Jun18

The Ghost and Mrs Muir

The Ghost and Mrs Muir: Movie This is the most lovely film. It’s a love story, a weepie, a ghost story and a comedy all in one. Released in 1945, it has all the charm and drama of the Hollywood era. It’s set in the early 1900s and Lucy Moore has recently been widowed. Determined to start  new life away from her in-laws, she and her small daughter move to a remote rented house near the sea. She’s been warned that the...

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The Yorkshireman and the South Pole
Jun17

The Yorkshireman and the South Pole

On December 13, 2013, Major Ibrar Ali of the Yorkshire Regiment stood at the SouthPole. With him were eleven other service-men and -women, a handful of guides and organisers, oh – and Prince Harry from the British Royal Family. The entire team had trekked (although that’s far too mild a word) across 200 kilometres of punishing snow and ice, through brutally low temperatures for thirteen days, dragging their equipment...

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Demis Roussos
Jun15

Demis Roussos

 Who was Demis Roussos? Demis Roussos was the most unlikely popular singer. In the nineteen seventies, when women were throwing their knickers at the (mildly sexy) Tom Jones, along came this fat, hairy Greek who sang like a girl – and his female fans loved him. He was the most unlikely sex symbol. Demis was incredibly popular in England and he put this down to the availability of cheaper European travel. He suggested that his...

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Stephanie Hoffnung
Jun14

Stephanie Hoffnung

Stephanie Hoffnung: Just one Jew. June 1942: Every evening, German SS officers would hammer on the door of the Hoffnung family’s home in Rue Riffault, Poitiers. This was occupied France and the Hoffnungs were Jewish. Led by Adjutant Wilhelm Hipp, the officers would visit Jewish homes to ensure that they were complying with the various rules and curfews that had been imposed. Any deviation from these rules and regulations could...

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The Monsanto House of the Future
Jun12

The Monsanto House of the Future

A glimpse into the future in the nineteen fifties. I know that this sounds like something Doc Emmett Brown would say but it’s interesting to go back and see what ideas people had about the future. In 1957 the idea of the future was something that fascinated the Disney organisation and also a firm called the Monsanto Company. They thought, in common with Mr. Robinson from The Graduate, that the future could be summed up in one...

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Why Did Henry VIII Marry Six Times?
Jun11

Why Did Henry VIII Marry Six Times?

Why did Henry VIII marry six times? There was a very good reason indeed. But I was talking to someone recently who truly believed that Henry VIII married six women because he was a horny old goat who just liked to trade wives in for a newer model. Henry had a much greater goal and one that was, in those times, incredibly important to the country. In 1524, King Henry was in his early thirties. He was incredibly tall and good looking,...

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The Le Mans Disaster 1955
Jun11

The Le Mans Disaster 1955

Le Mans, 1955. The prestigious and exciting Twenty Four Hours of Le Mans race, or Les 24 Heures du Mans, is the oldest sportscar race in the world, having been run since 1923. It is also one of the most dangerous. Twenty two drivers have died there in total but this figure doesn’t include serious injury or other personnel such as marshals, track employees and spectators. The worst of these events was the 1955 Le Mans race when a...

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All Time Hero:  Jack Johnson
Jun10

All Time Hero: Jack Johnson

We learn and grow, we make heroes of our own. For me, being a child of the 60s there were astronauts and civil rights leaders, soccer stars and Olympic champs. Gran loved her music, so Nat King Cole, Paul Robeson and Ray Charles were high on my list. Dad’s a big sports fan, and Cassius Clay impressed as much by his trash talking as his skills in the ring. The undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World. If someone wanted to...

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Grand Prix Gourmet – Canada: Whole Wheat Grain
Jun09

Grand Prix Gourmet – Canada: Whole Wheat Grain

A Wheat Recipe from Western Canada. In my home it was traditional to prepare a soup of wheat to dine on over the Christmas season. This delicious sweet food was looked forward to as a traditional Christmas dish and one that could be served either before or after the evening meal. The recipe itself comes from very humble beginnings.The origins of this wheat dish began long ago when farming families faced poorer times and would dine on...

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Louis de Rougemont
Jun09

Louis de Rougemont

Who was Louis de Rougemont? Louis de Rougemont achieved fame in 1898 when London’s Wide World magazine published a serialised account of his adventures.Readers were electrified. For the magazine told that Rougemont had spent thirty years living with cannibals in Australia –  as their king and leader. It all began in the 1860s when Rougemont was shipwrecked when he was pearl hunting in the Pacific. He and his trusty canine...

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Anthony Bourdain: Five Essential Kitchen Tools
Jun08

Anthony Bourdain: Five Essential Kitchen Tools

Anthony Bourdain: Five Essential Kitchen Tools Anthony Bourdain is probably one of the best known American chefs today. Having French grandparents, he claims that his love of food and cooking comes from the vacations he spent in France as a child. In his book Kitchen Confidential, he tells a great deal about the life of a restaurateur and the workings of  commercial kitchens. His stories are illuminating and sometimes extremely funny....

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Art Matters: Vincent and Paul
Jun08

Art Matters: Vincent and Paul

Andy Royston takes a look at Vincent van Gogh’s Chairs of 1888, and a fraught relationship with his houseguest, Paul Gauguin. ‘At the bottom of our hearts good old Gauguin and I understand each other, and if we’re a bit mad, so be it, aren’t we also a little sufficiently deeply artistic to contradict anxieties in that regard by what we say with the brush?‘  Vincent Van Gogh –  letter to Theo van Gogh. Arles,...

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Reginald Warneford: Reckless Rex
Jun07

Reginald Warneford: Reckless Rex

Reginald Warneford: War hero. Known as Reckless Rex because of his devil-may-care attitude, Reginald was a First World War fighter pilot. He was the first pilot for bring down one of the fearsome Zeppelins that the Germans unleashed upon Britain in 1915. And just ten days later, an air crash took Reginald’s life. He had been born in India where his father was a railway engineer. It’s said that he received no formal...

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Eva, Zsa Zsa and Magda Gabor
Jun06

Eva, Zsa Zsa and Magda Gabor

Three sisters, twenty marriages, nineteen husbands and one child. The Gabor sisters were all born during the First World War. They were born in Hungary, all three ended up in the States and between them they married twenty times. There were fifteen divorces, a couple of annulments yet only one child resulted from these many unions.   Zsa Zsa Zsa Zsa Gabor was probably the most famous of the three sisters — and she was the...

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Just Kids – Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe
Jun05

Just Kids – Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe

I first heard Patti Smith as a teenager. The song – if you can call it a song, was Piss Factory, an extraordinary conversational poem set to haunting improvised free-jazz piano by Richard Sohl. It turned out to be from Patti Smith’s first recording session, and tells a story partly related to her time working in a low paid job back in New Jersey, at a factory that made baby buggies. It was a soul destroying environment,...

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Mrs Miniver
Jun04

Mrs Miniver

Mrs Miniver: The woman who won the war. Well, not literally but Winston Churchill said that her contribution to the war was worth more than six ‘divisions of war effort’ and that she had done more for the war effort than a ‘flotilla of battleships’. So who was she? Even more surprising than Churchill’s praise was the fact that she was a fictional character. But it’s said that she affected the...

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Songs About Cities : Paris
Jun03

Songs About Cities : Paris

Ten Songs For Paris In setting out to compile a favorite list of Paris songs I admit to being totally anglo-centric. There are hundreds of exceptional songs and performances en francais and a few great blogs cover this very well (a great example is this by Paris Attitude)  so I won’t even attempt. Paris seemed to have inspired the jazz generation very much – there are enough Frank Sinatra songs about the city to fill an...

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After Queen Elizabeth II: What will happen?
Jun01

After Queen Elizabeth II: What will happen?

After Queen Elizabeth II: What will happen? The last time a monarch died was in 1952.  That is more than a lifetime ago for many of us and the world is a very different place now. Although many believe in the line from the National Anthem ‘long to reign over us’, we have to admit that, having been born in 1926, she may be coming to the end of her time as monarch. No, I don’t believe she will abdicate and it may be...

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Today in history: June
Jun01

Today in history: June

What happened on this day in June? 1st Sgt Pepper album released 1967 Nissan Motor Company founded 1934 Crete falls to Germany 1941 Helen Keller died 1968 Marilyn Monroe born 1926 Germany launched the first Zeppelin raid against England 1915 She’s Leaving Home released 1967 2nd: The Ways of the World published 2015 Reg Spiers sentenced to death 1987 Queen Elizabeth II crowned 1953 Peter Sutcliffe born 1946 Wallace Hartley born...

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A Song for Sunrise – Mary Margaret O’Hara
May31

A Song for Sunrise – Mary Margaret O’Hara

Mary Margaret O’Hara turned up in London back in 1988 to play a show at one of those old London jewel box theaters. She’d released a remarkable album earlier in the year called Miss America, which had been a fascination of mine from the off. I couldn’t wait to see if she could live up to her extraordinary record. On Mary’s music there’s nothing particularly unusual going on. Accomplished country tinged...

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Five Faves : The Florida Keys
May30

Five Faves : The Florida Keys

Key West lies 150 miles from Miami, but the drive along the route is an unforgettable experience; one of the world’s classic road trips. Making the drive off the mainland and along the long and winding ‘ocean highway’ all the way to mile marker zero is a real Florida pleasure. It’s a classic because, like all great trips it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey and what happens along...

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Who Was Buster Edwards?
May29

Who Was Buster Edwards?

Who was Buster Edwards? If you’re English and ‘of a certain age’ you’ll recognise the name. If you don’t then it might intrigue you know that he was  petty criminal who became something of a folk hero in Britain in the 1960s. For Buster was one of the men who took part in what was known as The Great Train Robbery in 1963. Although the robbers got away with a huge amount of money the general attitude of...

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Diana Dors
May28

Diana Dors

Who was Diana Dors? Diana Dors was an English actress and sexy movie star who was popular in the nineteen fifties and sixties. She was often compared to Marilyn Monroe. She was gorgeous, and rather a naughty girl but she typified the ‘tart with heart of gold’. She became a much loved British institution. When she was younger, and she became a well-known movie and television star when still in her teens – most...

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Joan Crawford
May27

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford: Loves and private life. Legendary Hollywood actress Joan Crawford was the subject of  vitriolic exposé book written by her adopted daughter. Whether these revelations are true is a matter of conjecture but Christina claimed that her mother had adopted her and other children to enhance her fame, rather than because of maternal feelings. The book reveals stories of abuse and tells of Joan’s affairs – with both...

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Simple Salmon
May26

Simple Salmon

A simple salmon recipe So many times, fish is smothered in elaborate, rich sauces. If the fish isn’t quite perfect, then a sauce can really help but sometimes fish cooked simply can be far better. That’s especially the case if you’re cooking some lovely, fresh salmon. Below is a very simple to prepare salmon recipe from Scotland that I first found published in the nineteen seventies. Scotland of course, is famous for...

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Clutter Control: The Home Lost Property Station
May25

Clutter Control: The Home Lost Property Station

Keep your home tidy – easily and quickly. When your surroundings give you joy and pleasure, life is so much better. This is especially the case in your own domain – your home. And looking round and seeing a neat and tidy environment isn’t just good for your soul – it’s been proved that clutter can damage your well-being. But it’s easier said than done, isn’t it? In fact, it can be so easy and...

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Grand Prix Gourmet: Quiche Monaco
May24

Grand Prix Gourmet: Quiche Monaco

Quiche Monaco recipe Everyone should have a great quiche recipe in their repertoire. Quiche is incredibly adaptable and you can vary the fillings depending on your taste and the ingredients you have to hand. This delicious version features wonderful goat cheese and some additional fabulous flavours. Use your favourite pastry recipe or, which is what I do these days, use frozen. The great thing about quiche is that it can be served as...

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Alberto Ascari
May24

Alberto Ascari

Ascari’s lucky racing helmet. Alberto Ascari was born in Italy in 1918. By the time he started motor racing as a young man, it was one of the most dangerous occupations in Europe. He knew this because his own father – also a racing driver – had been killed when Alberto was only seven years old. By the mid nineteen fifties, Alberto had twice won the Formula One World Championship and was looking forward to continuing...

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Fingersmith: A Victorian saga
May23

Fingersmith: A Victorian saga

Fingersmith: Fascinating Victorian tale This film is astounding. It is everything you’d expect from an adaptation of a novel set in Victorian times but much, much more. The plot has twists and turns which are totally unexpected. It tells of a girl, Sue, who hails from the seamier side of London. Imagine a Fagin-like den of thieves and this will give you some idea of her background. She is persuaded – by the promise of a...

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Ring in the Spring – Woodland Bluebells
May22

Ring in the Spring – Woodland Bluebells

It’s been a long time since I lived within walking distance of an English wood. At this time of year the best ones become a magical perfumed carpet of blue flowers and can’t help but remind me of a childhood long gone. On visits to England I always to try to take a walk through the woodlands, to breathe in that heady scent concoction: Gorse, wild garlic, Scots pine, wet woodland, hawthorn blossom, honeysuckle, stinkhorn,...

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Obsolete Words: Quiz
May21

Obsolete Words: Quiz

Test your knowledge: Obsolete words Isn’t it amazing how quickly our language changes? Today, we regularly use words that simply wouldn’t have been understood fifty years ago. Even some words we might think of as relatively ‘modern’ are outdated. Do today’s children understand words and phrases like ‘cassette player ‘, ‘floppy disk’, ‘Netscape’, ‘typewriter’...

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The Best Royal Wedding Dress – Ever!
May20

The Best Royal Wedding Dress – Ever!

I don’t know about you but royal wedding dresses are usually a disappointment for me. They are either remarkably plain (apologies to the Duchess of Cambridge but hers was boring) or they compete in fluffiness with the wedding cake (the eighties was a bad time for this – Princess Diana’s and The Duchess of York’s are good examples). But there was a royal wedding in 2011 when the dress was simply perfect. In...

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The Flight of Nungesser, Coli and the White Bird
May20

The Flight of Nungesser, Coli and the White Bird

Nungesser, Coli and the White Bird: Mysterious disappearance. In 1924 a New York hotelier named Raymond Orteig renewed an aviation challenge he had issued a few years earlier. He offered the sum of $25,000 to any ‘person or persons’ who could fly nonstop between France and the United States. His previous offer had been largely ignored because it was generally thought that such a flight was impossible. But two men took up...

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The Last of the Blonde Bombshells
May19

The Last of the Blonde Bombshells

The Last of the Blonde Bombshells: Movie If like me you’re tired of some of the films we see today and are looking to watch a movie that’s truly hilarious, a great story and a little bit of a weepie then I highly recommend The Last of the Blonde Bombshells. As a bonus,or rather two, it has wonderful music and an impressive cast including the fabulous Dame Judi Dench. The film flips between modern day (well, 2000) and the...

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Who was Pancho Barnes?
May17

Who was Pancho Barnes?

Who was Pancho Barnes? She was no beauty, that’s for sure, but she was one of the fastest-living, hardiest partying girls of the last century. She was married four times, was a Hollywood stunt pilot and spent her way through several fortunes.   The girl who was destined to escape from Mexican rebels by dressing as a man, and who could out-party, out-drink and out-everything most men she met, was born with the demure name of...

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Lipton’s tea: Victorian advertising
May15

Lipton’s tea: Victorian advertising

Lipton’s tea: Victorian advertising. One of the first exponents of what we now call guerilla marketing must have been Thomas Lipton, back in Victorian times.  This grocery store owner was the master of publicity stunts. Sir Thomas was a Scot and on 9th July, 1878, traffic was at a halt in his hometown of Glasgow, as people watched the progress of three chubby and content pigs, dressed in bright clothes, and bearing the slogan...

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King Edward VII. The truth about his death
May14

King Edward VII. The truth about his death

King Edward VII. The truth about his death. One of history’s myths regards the death of King Edward VII,  the actions of his wife Queen Alexandra and of his mistress Alice Keppel. The king was in his late seventies when he was taken ill – at first with a series of chills. He had always enjoyed what we might call the pleasures of the flesh – fine dining, splendid wines and of course, a series of beautiful and charming...

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Build a Library of Thought
May14

Build a Library of Thought

What we can all learn from Neil deGrasse Tyson. What is it that we can all learn from a man who is an astrophysicist and cosmologist? That is, apart from astrophysics and cosmology. Neil explains why we should all build a ‘library of thought’. He starts by explaining that when he was a child, he’d visit the local library. Everything he needed to know was in there. Every time he had a query, his question would be...

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Ian Fleming, James Bond and … Bob Marley
May13

Ian Fleming, James Bond and … Bob Marley

Did Ian Fleming model James Bond on himself? Ian Fleming’s most famous creation was, of course, James Bond. And to some extent, the author was the character. He had been involved in espionage during the Second World War but there are certainly other similarities. The fictional James Bond enjoyed a drink (shaken not stirred, of course) and definitely his love of women was a great feature of the 007 persona. Fleming liked a drink...

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Shrimp in Spicy Tomato Sauce, Grand Prix Gourmet, Spain
May12

Shrimp in Spicy Tomato Sauce, Grand Prix Gourmet, Spain

  Spain is famous for its delicious satisfying cuisine, with certain dishes in particular.  Paella, gazpacho, flan, to name a few.  But there are so many other wonderful dishes, many including shrimp or other seafood.  This is a favorite featuring shrimp in a rich tomato sauce, spiced up with red chili pepper. It sounds wonderful! Since their schedule is quite different from the usual American schedule, this main dish is usually...

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Princess Gabriella, Countess of Carladès
May12

Princess Gabriella, Countess of Carladès

Who is Princess Gabriella? You see, the thing is this. I have decided who Prince George ought to marry. OK, I know that he was born in 2013 so marriage is hardly on his list of priorities right now.  So yes, I’m a bit premature. Marriage might not be on the cards for another twenty five or thirty years by which time I might no longer be around (I’ll be amazed if I am) so I’m going to get my selection in now. I know...

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ValuJet Flight 592
May12

ValuJet Flight 592

The crash of ValuJet Flight 592. This was the worst aviation accident in Florida and happened on May 11th, 1996. The plane crashed into the Florida Everglades. There were no survivors. The aircraft took off from Dallas-Fort Worth at 8.20 in the morning. It was bound for Miami and there was a scheduled stop in Atlanta. Everything went as usual. At 2.30 in the afternoon, the plane was cleared for takeoff from Miami Airport for its...

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The Bonnie and Clyde Death Car
May11

The Bonnie and Clyde Death Car

What happened to Bonnie and Clyde’s car? In March 1934 a roofing contractor from Kansas was looking for a new car. Jesse Warren chose a Ford V-8 and he paid $785 for it. Jesse had only been the proud owner of the car for a few weeks when it was stolen – by the notorious outlaws, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Bonnie and Clyde only enjoyed the car for a few weeks because on May  23rd they were ambushed by the police in...

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Is Eating Chicken Dangerous?
May10

Is Eating Chicken Dangerous?

Chicken health scare. Let’s look at the latest statistics from the UK. A year-long study has discovered that 73% – very nearly three quarters – of supermarket chickens contain the campylobacter bacteria. This causes over quarter of a million cases of food poisoning in Britain every year, about one hundred of which are fatal. When you consider that the population is 64 million, and that over 3 million people are...

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Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin: Review.
May09

Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin: Review.

Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin: Review. This was the latest review copy to land on the editorial desk at JAQUO HQ and I’m so glad it did. It’s very funny, it moves along at a hare-brained pace and you’ll love the quirky characters as they stumble through the strange world of Hollywood in present day. But this is not all glamour and ‘swimming pools, movie stars’ – this is the reality of a...

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Song For Sunrise – The Sopranos
May08

Song For Sunrise – The Sopranos

“Woke up this morning, got yourself a gun…” The opening titles to the most highly rated TV show of the 21st century starts with a rumbling bass-driven trip hop track, and what sounds like a southern fried pick-up trucker drawling the lyrics. A small-time mobster, who we’d later get to know as Tony Soprano, speeds out of the Lincoln tunnel and heads down the New Jersey turnpike into the setting sunshine. The...

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The Man who Sank the Lusitania
May05

The Man who Sank the Lusitania

The man who sank the Lusitania – Walther von Schwieger On Friday, April 30th, 1915, a German U-boat left a naval base in the North Sea. The submarine traveled around Scotland, then down to Ireland. She was commanded by thirty year old Kapitänleutnant Walther von Schwieger. The following day, the passenger liner Lusitania, with over fifteen hundred people aboard, left New York bound for England. The two vessels were to meet and...

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Barbara Taylor Bradford: A Woman of Substance
May05

Barbara Taylor Bradford: A Woman of Substance

Barbara Taylor Bradford: A Woman of Substance. I recently read and reviewed Ms Taylor Bradford’s latest book The Cavendon Women (which I recommend heartily) and this made me eager to reread the first books of hers that I ever read. Coincidentally, it was also the author’s first book. I can assure you that it stands the test of time admirably and reading it again now I find that it is just as absorbing as it was when I...

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Mexican Jewellery from Guillermo Arregui
May05

Mexican Jewellery from Guillermo Arregui

Stylish,original jewellery from Mexico. Guillermo Arregui creates the most wonderful jewellery in his Mexican silversmith workshop. The necklace you see on the right is a lovely example. There are more further down the page and you’ll see that  Guillermo combines traditional method sand design but brings them completely up to date. He takes much of his inspiration from nature, from the natural stones that are available in Mexico...

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Mexican Cabbage Salad
May04

Mexican Cabbage Salad

Mexican Cabbage Salad Mexican Cabbage Salad is another recipe I’ve tried to replicate from a favorite local restaurant in San Diego. Cinco de Mayo or anytime, it’s a family favorite. It brings back memories of leisurely dinners complete with margaritas, chips and salsa, and friends. We often enjoyed sharing one of these salads with our dinner order. Usually we make coleslaw with mayo, but this is so crisp and refreshing with oil and...

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The Superga Air Disaster
May04

The Superga Air Disaster

In May 1949, a man who couldn’t get his passport renewed, another who was ill with influenza and an injured footballer were the luckiest men in Italy. For they could not be on the trip when their colleagues in the Torino football team  all perished in a tragic air crash when they were on  their way back from playing a friendly match in Lisbon. When the accident happened, on May 4th, there were thirty one people in the plane....

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May the Fourth be With You: Recipes
May04

May the Fourth be With You: Recipes

Star Wars recipes! May 4th is Star Wars Day and JAQUO writer Cheryl has put together a selection of recipes especially to celebrate this day. And oh boy, are they out of this world! Smoothies from the Star Wars Cookbook May the force of baking be with you in the kitchen! I was looking for an adventurous cookbook and stumbled across this Star Wars Cookbook. I was like I gotta have it. It looked so fun when I read the reviews about it....

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Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos: Review
May03

Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos: Review

Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos: How Italian Women Make the Ordinary, Extraordinary. The author of this book, Gabriella Contestabile, was brought up in North America (first Canada and then the United States) but had been born in Italy. She left the country of her birth when she was just four years old and unsurprisingly, when she grew up she became more interested in the Italy she barely remembered rather than her now home country. She...

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