Try this Word Quiz
Mar02

Try this Word Quiz

Try this word quiz The English language is so tricky.I’m glad that it’s my native language – it must be so difficult to learn if it’s not your mother tongue. I do love words though – where they came from, what they mean, what they don’t mean… Try these Click the arrows on the right if you need extra clues. The following words are all anagrams of capital cities. PAIRS, SOLO, LOUSE, ANIMAL,...

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Not Your Mother’s 7-Up Strawberry Pie Recipe
Feb24

Not Your Mother’s 7-Up Strawberry Pie Recipe

Not your mother’s 7-Up strawberry pie recipe He started this whole thing. He’d seen something somewhere (I think it was on a menu in a diner) for something called a 7-Up strawberry pie. He was intrigued. I was quite horrified. It sounded like the ultimate in junk food to me although I have to admit that just about anything with strawberries is pretty good. I looked up the recipe online (there are many) and as I’d...

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The Leeds Dripping Riots
Feb22

The Leeds Dripping Riots

Yorkshire: The Leeds Dripping Riots of 1865 This is the true story of a bizarre riot that took place in Leeds in Yorkshire a hundred and fifty years ago. Although there was a death because of the riot, and hundreds of people took part, it started because of something incredibly trivial – two pounds of dripping. Here, I suspect that I have to explain to younger readers exactly what I mean by dripping <sigh>. In the north of...

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Alberta Vickridge – forgotten poet and printer
Feb19

Alberta Vickridge – forgotten poet and printer

The Forgotten Bard. Alberta Vickridge? You’ve probably never heard of her. Which is a pity – because in her lifetime she was a poet of considerable talent, including poetry that won her a Bardic Crown and Bardic Chair at an Eisteddfod in 1924. She also ran her own printing press from her home in Yorkshire at a time when women in printing were uncommon. Her poetry was admired and praised by writers, such as Agatha Christie,...

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Was Karen Silkwood Murdered?
Feb18

Was Karen Silkwood Murdered?

Who was Karen Silkwood? Many people believe that she was murdered. Let’s look at her background first. She began working at an Oklahoma chemical plant in 1972.  The facility was responsible for producing plutonium pellets for use in nuclear reactors. Yes, frightening. As did her colleagues, she joined the union and became concerned about the levels of safety for the workers employed in the factory who were exposed to dangerous...

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Vintage Television: Bill Cullen
Feb18

Vintage Television: Bill Cullen

Vintage television: Who was Bill Cullen? Bill Cullen was a well-known and very popular television personality during the sixties and seventies in the USA. He was a game show host and was often featured as a panellist on other shows, once of which was his appearances as part of the panel on I’ve Got A Secret. But Bill Cullen had a secret of his own When he was just a small child, he contracted polio. This meant that he had...

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Keep Fighting Michael
Jan02

Keep Fighting Michael

 Michael Schumacher #KeepFightingMichael Safety in the world of motorsport has made huge strides in the last few decades. And yet Michael Schumacher, the most successful racing driver of the modern era, is fighting for his life. But not due to an accident on the track. On 29 December 2013, having retired from racing, Schumacher was enjoyed one of his favourite sports and was skiing in the French Alps. He fell and received a...

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Augustus John
Dec23

Augustus John

Augustus John: Fryern Court, Fordingbridge. Artist Augustus John was born in Wales in 1878. He became the darling of the art world and was well-known for his eccentricities. He often wore gypsy-style clothes and lived life in his own bohemian fashion. He was married in 1900 but, because he loved women, that didn’t stop him having affairs most notably with his long-time mistress Dorothy  McNeill, usually referred to as Dorelia....

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Helene Stanley
Dec23

Helene Stanley

Who was Helene Stanley? There are many people who left  an important legacy to the world of Hollywood movies but I imagine that if most of us were asked to list them, the name of Helene Stanley wouldn’t feature. But she left a lasting legacy to the Golden Era of Hollywood and it will probably surprise you. She certainly made a handful of movies but her lasting legacy was to make two films that have never been seen by the public...

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Gifts for Animal Lovers: Dolphins
Dec16

Gifts for Animal Lovers: Dolphins

Love dolphins? Gift ideas. Dolphins are so popular. Is it because they always seem to be smiling? If you have someone on your gift list who loves dolphins as much as I do, then here you’ll find the perfect gifts for them to add to their collection of dolphin themed jewellery, décor items and more. I love the pendant that you see in this photograph, for example. The two dolphins are hand carved by a jewellery sculptor in Bali and...

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Three Identical Strangers
Nov30

Three Identical Strangers

Why did the ‘three identical strangers’ all have sisters? Who were the three identical strangers? You may have seen the film but if you need a memory-refresh, here’s the story. And unbelievably, it’s true. The story starts in the USA in the early nineteen eighties. Robert Shafran, aged nineteen, was experiencing something strange during his first day at college. Although it was his very first day, and he knew...

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1965: The Secrets of the Royal Family’s Health
Nov29

1965: The Secrets of the Royal Family’s Health

1965: The Secrets of the Royal Family’s Complexions In 1965, Mrs Alma McKee, who had spent many years working as a cook for the British royal family, revealed what sort of foods were preferred at the royal dining table. She particularly revealed the secret of the much-admired complexions of The Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, Princess Margaret. This, she said, was because of a simple, homemade drink that the...

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Was Thomas Ince Murdered?
Nov29

Was Thomas Ince Murdered?

The mysterious death of Thomas Ince. Thomas Ince was a pioneer of early Hollywood. Yet many people haven’t heard of him, largely because of the mystery of his death. Was he murdered or did he die of natural causes? The story itself is worthy of a Hollywood mystery film. The murder, if indeed it was, took place aboard a luxury yacht belonging to a super-wealthy newspaper mogul. Aboard were actors and actresses, writers, a ballet...

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Who Was Luigi Musso?
Nov28

Who Was Luigi Musso?

Racing driver Luigi Musso. Luigi was born in 1924 in Rome and by the time he was thirty years old he had joined the team that was every Italian male’s dream – Scuderia Ferrari. He was following in the footsteps of two Italian drivers who had also driven for the team – Alberto Ascari and Eugenio Castellotti. Neither Ascari or Castellotti had survived the dangerous world of Formula One racing; Ascari was thirty six...

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Why Airbnb is Good for Local Businesses
Nov27

Why Airbnb is Good for Local Businesses

Does Airbnb (or similar) help the local community? We all know that the Airbnb website (and its copycat sites) are causing controversy because of the impact of ‘the sharing economy’. But can such services actually help local communities? In my experience – and thanks to various statistics – I can say ‘yes’. Before we start looking at facts and figures, let’s take a look at the average Airbnb...

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Victorian Food
Nov25

Victorian Food

Victorian food: Stodgy? ‘Stodgy’ is a word that is often used the describe the people who lived in the Victorian era. It’s used to describe their attitudes and also their food.But was that really the case? We’ve traditionally been led to think that yes, Victorian food meant tables groaning with stodgy pies and puddings but in fact, this is far from the reality. Take vegetarianism for example. The first...

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Who Was the Girl from Ipanema?
Nov24

Who Was the Girl from Ipanema?

Antonio Carlos Jobim & Vinicius de Moraes: The Girl from Ipanema. One of the finest songs of the twentieth century is now classed as ‘muzak’ – something light to be listened to in elevators or when you’re on hold. Sadly. But who was the girl from Ipanema? Did she really exist? She certainly did – her name is Heloisa Pinto (pictured on the right). In the early nineteen sixties, when she was fifteen she...

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No-Fry Falafel: Grand Prix Gourmet, Abu Dhabi
Nov24

No-Fry Falafel: Grand Prix Gourmet, Abu Dhabi

Healthier, no-fry falafel. These delicious falafel are meat-free and unlike most falafel recipes, they do not need to be fried. You can optionally baste them with a little olive oil if you wish but most times, I don’t bother – they don’t really need it. You can eat these alone for a snack but I like to serve them in pita bread. Halve and split the bread to make pockets, add the falafel and some lettuce, chopped...

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The Aberfan Disaster
Nov23

The Aberfan Disaster

The Aberfan disaster of 1966. Aberfan is a small mining village in Wales. On the misty morning of October 21st, 1966, the village’s children had just entered the classrooms of the small local school. It was just after nine o’clock. Suddenly, a loud roaring noise was heard. One teacher was sure that it was an aeroplane that was about to crash and she ordered the children to get under their desks. It was in fact, tens of...

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November 22, 1963
Nov21

November 22, 1963

November 22, 1963 – An event that changed everyone’s life. Arriving in Dallas, Texas – November 22, 1963   John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas Texas. Kennedy was fatally shot by a sniper while traveling with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Mrs Nellie...

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Who Lost His Address Book from a Helicopter Over the Greek Islands?
Nov20

Who Lost His Address Book from a Helicopter Over the Greek Islands?

Dorothy Kilgallen’s famous question on What’s My Line. It’s no secret that I am obssessed with watching old episodes of What’s My Line on You Tube. I mean, the old versions from the late fifties and early sixties. They are simply brilliant. And one of my favourite panellists was Dorothy Kilgallen. She was very astute. especially when it came to guessing the identity of the mystery guest. If you’re...

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Rocco DiSpirito: Cook Your Butt Off!
Nov19

Rocco DiSpirito: Cook Your Butt Off!

Rocco DiSpirito: Cook Your Butt Off! I would have really preferred Mr DiSpirito to have called this fascinating book something else, but never mind. It’s still pretty amazing and as for the recipes – wow. Yes, this is a weight loss book but it’s certainly one with a difference and something I love is that it’s incredibly easy to follow. Rocco gives a two-week eating plan, plus the recipes and shopping lists,...

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Norman Rockwell: Fake!
Nov18

Norman Rockwell: Fake!

The Norman Rockwell painting that was a fake. Breaking Home Ties is one of America’s favourite illustrations.It was created by Norman Rockwell in 1954, originally for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. For years it was exhibited and admired by the American people but there was just one minor detail – it was a fake. More than fifty years after it had been painted, it was discovered that the artwork on display was a...

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Lord Lucan
Nov17

Lord Lucan

Who was Lord Lucan? And even more importantly, what happened to him? What was the eventual fate of this member of the British aristocracy who, it’s claimed, murdered his children’s nanny mistaking her for his estranged wife? These strange events took place on November 7th, 1974 and Lord Lucan, nicknamed Lucky by his friends, was never seen again. Did he kill himself in remorse after murdering his children’s nanny?...

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Kanga: Camilla’s Rival, Lady Dale Tryon
Nov16

Kanga: Camilla’s Rival, Lady Dale Tryon

Prince Charles’ other mistress, Kanga If you look up Dale Tryon in Wikipedia, you will read that she was a ‘close friend of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales’. That is not strictly speaking true.  Dale, known by the nickname of Kanga, was actually Charles’ mistress prior to his marriage and as such, a rival for his affections. Her story is tragic. Charles loved women who were blonde, attractive and...

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Who was Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne?
Nov14

Who was Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne?

Suzanne: The girl in the song. Arguably, Leonard Cohen’s most famous song is Suzanne. But who was Suzanne and what inspired the song? Like Cohen, Suzanne Verdal was Canadian. Despite what many people believe,she was not a girlfriend  of his but they had a platonic friendship. And surprisingly, the lyrics of the song – which Cohen wrote originally as a poem – are quite literal. Suzanne really did live in a...

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Charles and Camilla
Nov13

Charles and Camilla

Charles and Camilla. Can you imagine what it must have been like for the-then Camilla Parker Bowles before 2005? She knew, as the world knew, that Prince Charles wanted to marry her. Charles’ mother, the queen, knew and liked Camilla. So did his two sons. But what about the world’s public? The consensus of the British people was that he should be able to marry exactly who he wanted to and, after all, the relationship had...

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Florida Murder – The Sea Waif
Nov12

Florida Murder – The Sea Waif

The date was November 12th, 1963.  A crew member aboard the Gulf Lion, a tanker, spotted a small boat in the distance. In it was a man, waving frantically. The ship changed course and headed to the tiny boat and saw its single live occupant, a middle-aged man. Also in the dinghy was a seven year old girl – not alive, sadly. The man told his rescuers that his name was Julian Harvey. He had been the captain of a sixty foot...

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Looking at Paintings (4) – ‘Trenches’
Nov11

Looking at Paintings (4) – ‘Trenches’

On the 1st July 1916, the Battle of the Somme was launched during World War One. By the end of that day alone 60,000 British and Empire troops had been killed or wounded. It should be remembered too, that the overall Somme campaign led to over half a million German casualties. Among the advancing troops on the 1st July 1916 were 2,000 members of the ‘Bradford Pals’ – men drawn together as volunteers at the start of the war from the...

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Moqueca de Peixe: Grand Prix Gourmet, Brazil
Nov10

Moqueca de Peixe: Grand Prix Gourmet, Brazil

Moqueca de Peixe: Brazilian Fish Stew. This has been a popular dish in Brazil for at least three hundred years. (Deservedly). It’s easy to make and when served with boiled rice, the quantity shown in the recipe below will feed at least eight people for a hearty meal. Make sure that there’s plenty of lovely fresh, crusty bread available too so that your guests can mop up the delicious sauce. I like to make sure that...

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The Angels of Mons
Nov08

The Angels of Mons

The Angels of Mons: Did they save British soldiers in the First World War? Many people believed so at the time. The First World War – and the following years – saw a huge increase in the belief of spiritualism and the supernatural. We can understand this. So many young men were killed in the conflict and it was comforting for their loved ones to believe that they had gone to’a better place’ — and that...

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The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard
Nov08

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard: Review  A James Maxted Thriller I was lucky in having a review copy of this book so that I could alert you to it so that you could pre-order. I highly recommend it. The story will intrigue you from the first page. Set in 1919, the book opens with James Maxted, a World War 1 flyer, sizing up a couple of planes that he intends to buy to start a flying school. But his negotiations are interrupted...

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Life on a WW1 U-Boat
Nov08

Life on a WW1 U-Boat

 What was life like aboard a WW1 U-boat? You have probably never pondered this question. Neither had I until I read a book which, as part of the narrative, explained what life was like aboard for the crew of a German sub in the First World War. And it sounds like a nightmare. Hellish, in fact. Of course, life in any submarine is, or was,  likely to be claustrophobic. In the last century, it’s likely that fresh air was something...

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The Perfect Chaise with Storage
Nov03

The Perfect Chaise with Storage

The storage chaise. A perfect solution for small spaces. When space is at a premium in your home, it’s wonderful to find a stylish and chic piece of furniture that is so useful, wonderfully attractive and even gives you extra storage in your room. This comfortable seat will provide you with extra seating for guests, it’s the perfect item for a reading nook and it even makes a convenient spare bed for a child. It’s 63...

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Songs about Cities – Liverpool
Nov02

Songs about Cities – Liverpool

When I was old enough to know about Liverpool it was almost being talked about in the past tense.  Liverpool for three hundred years was a magnificent seaport, the second city of Empire, with a flourishing trade with Virginia and the English colonies in America. It grew even larger during the industrial revolution as most of the English north east’s trade left via Liverpool docks. During the 20th century, especially after World...

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Today in history: November
Nov01

Today in history: November

What happened on this day in November? 1st Abigail’s Party shown on TV for the first time Ricardo Rodriguez died 1962 L. S. Lowry born 1887 2nd George Bernard Shaw died 1950 3rd Bert Jansch born 1943 Lulu born 1948 4th Reg Dean born 1902 Marguerite Patten born 1915 Robert Mapplethorpe born 1946 5th John Fowles died 2005 Idina Sackville died 1955 John Alcock born 1892 6th SS City of Cairo torpedoed 1942 Charles McVay died 1968...

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William Grover Williams: Racing Driver and Spy
Nov01

William Grover Williams: Racing Driver and Spy

The curious life and death of Grand Prix driver, William Grover Williams. Yes, William Grover was a racing driver and some motorsport historians will probably know his name because he was the winner of the inaugural Monte Carlo Grand Prix in 1929. But his life was much more fascinating than that last sentences implies.   He was British, having had an English father and a British mother. It was evident that he had a huge interest...

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Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
Nov01

Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

My colleague, Andy Royston, recently wrote an article about the music of Carole King and Gerry Goffin. He referred to the standard of music in 1960 until the time when the King-Goffin combo came up with Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. In fact, he referred to 1960 music as being ‘drivel’ and cited as an example, Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. Now on the basis of quality music, I will admit that Bikini isn’t...

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Who was Marli Renfro?
Oct31

Who was Marli Renfro?

Marli Renfro: You know her well. The chances are that if you like movies, you know who Marli Renfro was but you might not recognise the name. What’s more, I’m willing to bet that you’ve seen her completely naked. She was in one of the most famous films – ever. But few people know her name. She was born in America in 1938. She grew up to be very attractive and she was only in her early twenties when she took...

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Giovanna Amati
Oct31

Giovanna Amati

The kidnapping of Giovanna Amati. If you were a Formula One fan in the early nineteen nineties then you’ll remember Giovanna as a driver for the doomed Brabham team. The team, which started in the nineteen sixties, had been successful but by the time Giovanna (only the fifth female driver in Formula One) was recruited Brabham was in trouble. It’s thought that Giovanna was signed up by the team not only because she was...

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Halloween Safety
Oct31

Halloween Safety

Halloween is nearly here and kids big and small are all trying to figure out just what they are going to “dress up” as, or what character they will be for October’s Fright Night. The possibilities are endless, and I’m sure that the young ones will change their minds at least a dozen times or more. What shouldn’t change though, is the need for safety, while our kids are out there having their ghoulishly good times. Safety doesn’t have...

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Halloween Trivia
Oct31

Halloween Trivia

Fun Tidbits About Halloween. Halloween is one of the oldest celebrations. For everyone it means something different whether it is something superstitious, trick or treating or having a fun dress-up party. Its always fun to learn some fun facts about Halloween. You’ll learn fun trivia facts about the tootsie roll, black cats, creepy spiders, who really believes in “The Great Pumpkin” and even when the first Halloween...

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Batley Variety Club
Oct28

Batley Variety Club

Yorkshire entertainment: The Batley Variety Club It all started with two Yorkshiremen, James Corrigan and Peter Fleming. Both were from fairground families so they knew a thing or two about entertaining the public. James was married to a girl from Batley in Yorkshire and his new wife Betty and his friend Peter joined him in their dream – to bring Las Vegas-style entertainment to the sleepy Yorkshire town of Batley. Batley was...

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Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez
Oct28

Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez

Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. Many race fans will be familiar with this circuit and in 2015, the Formula One series returned to Mexico. But what do you know about the brothers after which the circuit is named? Theirs is a story that shouldn’t be forgotten. Pedro Rodríguez was born in 1940 in Mexico City. He had three brothers and a sister. However, the other brother who is also commemorated in the name of this circuit was his...

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Paul McCartney: Real or Fake?
Oct27

Paul McCartney: Real or Fake?

Paul McCartney died on November 9th, 1966 Or so certain people would have us believe. And recently, it’s said, Ringo Starr confirmed this. Nonsense? I think so. But according to conspiracy theorists, the bloke you see here isn’t Paul McCartney at all. It’s an imposter who has been playing the part for almost fifty years. Yes, that’s a long time to live someone else’s life, isn’t it? What’s the...

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All the Queen’s … Pigeons
Oct25

All the Queen’s … Pigeons

The Queen and her racing pigeons. It’s widely known that Queen Elizabeth II is extremely fond of horse racing but did you know that she’s also a pigeon fancier? She keeps a stable (if that’s the right word) of racing pigeons in the grounds of the Norfolk royal residence, Sandringham. She has over two hundred pigeons and is said to be extremely knowledgeable about the birds, their care and of course, about pigeon...

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George Cole
Oct24

George Cole

Actor George Cole. George Cole started his acting career when he was fifteen and continued until 2015. At the time of his death in that year, he had just finished making a movie. His first break came along in 1940 when he was cast in a film that was released the following year. George had been given up for adoption at birth and the British actor Alastair Sim took him in along with his adopted mother. George first came to the attention...

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Castaway Cay: The Murky History
Oct23

Castaway Cay: The Murky History

Disney’s Castaway Cay – previously the mysterious Gorda Cay. The very thought of going on a Disney Cruise makes me shudder yet thousands of people enjoy them every day. Their four  ships call regularly at Castaway Cay – Disney’s private island and the company’s idea of paradise. There, cruisers can enjoy the amenities you would expect from the company that specialises in man-made ‘magic’ and...

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Queen Elizabeth II & Marilyn Monroe
Oct23

Queen Elizabeth II & Marilyn Monroe

The day Queen Elizabeth met Marilyn Monroe. In very different ways, the two women were destined to become icons. What many of us don’t realise is that Queen Elizabeth and Marilyn Monroe were born only ten days apart. (April 21st and Jun 1st respectively – in 1926). And they met on October 29th, 1956. The occasion was the London premiere of The Battle of the River Plate in Leicester Square. It was the only time the two...

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Why was October 21st, 2015 known as Back to the Future Day?
Oct21

Why was October 21st, 2015 known as Back to the Future Day?

Why was October 21st, 2015 known as Back to the Future Day? Because in 1989, a sequel was made to the blockbuster movie Back to the Future, somewhat predictably named Back to the Future II. In the first film. Marty McFly had travelled back in time to 1955 – in the sequel he went forward in time to – you guessed – October 21st, 2015. In 1989, I imagine that 2015 seemed to be in the distant future — yet here we...

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Photograph Fabric Printing via the Sun
Oct20

Photograph Fabric Printing via the Sun

Lumi Inkodye: Print photographs onto t-shirts using solar power. Great for kids, great for adults and a truly fabulous way to express your creativity and make gorgeous garments, décor items and gifts – that’s what Lumi Inkodye offer you with their kits and products. This is a seemingly miraculous way to add your photographs and designs to any fabric item using the sun to develop the images. You can take any photograph from...

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Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine
Oct19

Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine

Sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine. In the golden era of Hollywood, few theatregoers realised that these two top actresses were sisters. Olivia was the eldest of the two. They were both born in Japan, to British parents. Their father was a patent attorney who had moved to Japan to further his career. He taught there and also ran his own law firm. The mother of the two girls was an actress who had given up her stage career...

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Funny Girl, by Nick Hornby
Oct10

Funny Girl, by Nick Hornby

Funny Girl: A Novel by Nick Hornby Funny is quite right – laugh out loud funny, in fact. The book is set in the nineteen sixties – what an era of change that was – and features Barbara, a young woman from Blackpool in the north of England whose heroine is Lucille Ball. Barbara wants to be on television too, to make people laugh. And Barbara certainly has several assets that make her look great on television. At the...

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Royal Feud: York and Lancaster
Oct09

Royal Feud: York and Lancaster

Queen Elizabeth and Wallis Simpson: The Houses of York and Lancaster. In the fifteenth century, as all good students of Yorkshire history know, there were battles in England for the throne. The combatants were the House of York and the House of Lancaster. These were known as the Wars of the Roses as each house used a rose as its emblem; white for York, red for Lancaster. But in the twentieth century there was another ‘war of the...

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Brighten Up Your Work Space
Oct08

Brighten Up Your Work Space

Use colour to help you work. Do you remember when office items such as file cabinets, staplers and other necessities of work were incredibly boring? No longer. A truly delightful company named Poppin can brighten up your office, your home workspace or your dorm room with their fabulous work accessories. Of course, we’ve always known that an organised work area helps us to be productive but what has sometimes been overlooked is...

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Recipe: English Treacle Tart
Oct07

Recipe: English Treacle Tart

English treacle tart recipe Oh, treacle tart!  Just find me an English person who wouldn’t enjoy a slice right now. In order to make this wonderful comfort food, you’re going to need real English Golden Syrup. If you can’t buy it locally –  and it’s in lots of American supermarkets now – it’s easily ordered online. You’ll love this scrumptious dessert and if you serve it to English...

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Japanese Shrimp: Grand Prix Gourmet
Oct07

Japanese Shrimp: Grand Prix Gourmet

This is a recipe that I found in an old newspaper dating from the nineteen fifties. It had been supplied to the paper by a young Japanese woman, Reiko Takeda, who was an air stewardess flying regularly between her home country and the USA. She cooked this dish on a hibachi but I find that a charcoal grill works very well and gives the seafood that lovely smoky flavour. The shrimp need to marinate for a couple of hours before you cook,...

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Alice de Janze & Raymund de Trafford
Sep28

Alice de Janze & Raymund de Trafford

The day Alice de Janzé shot her lover. It was March 25th, 1927 and Alice had a date to meet her lover, Raymund de Trafford for lunch in Paris. Actually it would be more accurate to describe him as her ex-lover. This meeting, at the Maison Lapérouse restaurant overlooking the River Seine ended at the Gare du Nord, with a detour to Monsieur Guinon’s gun shop on the Avenue de l’Opera. When they arrived at the station, Alice...

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Murder in Miami: Christopher Wilder the Beauty Queen Killer
Sep27

Murder in Miami: Christopher Wilder the Beauty Queen Killer

Murder in Miami: Christopher Wilder the Beauty Queen Killer. Christopher Wilder was rich. His friends described him as charming and gallant. He lived a playboy life in South Florida, living well and racing sports cars. He was particularly fond of beautiful young women. In the nineteen eighties he was still in his thirties and living in Boynton Beach in Florida. Murder at the 1984 Miami Grand Prix This was the second motor racing event...

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Love and Sex: Edwardian style
Sep26

Love and Sex: Edwardian style

Love and sex: Edwardian style It was 1901 when Edward VII came to the throne, heralding in what we know today as the Edwardian Era. Although we sometimes think of the previous time – the Victorian Era – as being somewhat staid, that’s far from the case. The moral code inherited by King Edward had been firmly set during his mother’s time on the throne and it was considerably more raunchy than we might think....

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Princess Viktoria’s Disastrous Marriage
Sep25

Princess Viktoria’s Disastrous Marriage

Princess Viktoria of Prussia: Ruined by her young lover She was born into a privileged and wealthy royal position. And yet when Princess Viktoria died at the age of  sixty three she was penniless and disgraced – thanks to her choosing the wrong man. Her grandmother was Queen Victoria. Her mother was Victoria’s eldest daughter and had married Frederick III, the German Emperor and King of Prussia. Her brother was Wilhelm II,...

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Man Removed his own Appendix
Sep21

Man Removed his own Appendix

Leonid Rogozov: The man who removed his own appendix. Leonid had little choice. He was on a Russian antarctic expedition in the early nineteen sixties when he started feeling abdominal pain. Being a doctor Leonid, who was twenty seven years old at the time, realised that he had appendicitis. He had to decide what to do. The expedition was many miles from civilisation. The team were not due to be contacted or picked up until the next...

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The Last Escaper: Peter Tunstall
Sep20

The Last Escaper: Peter Tunstall

The Last Escaper. True stories from Peter Tunstall,  Colditz prisoner of war. In the Second World War many British men, often RAF pilots, became prisoners of war in Germany. Their planes had been shot down and then men, often only in their late teens or early twenties, were captured and imprisoned by German soldiers. This is the story about one of them – Pete Tunstall. RAF pilot Tunstall was only twenty one when he was shot down...

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The Nuremberg Trials and the Jewish interpreter
Sep19

The Nuremberg Trials and the Jewish interpreter

The Nuremberg Trials and the Jewish interpreter. These trials began in November 1945 and were held to bring Nazi war criminals to justice.  It was a huge undertaking and interpreters were employed to translate – live in court – the testimonies of witnesses and the defence and comments of the most notorious and inhuman war criminals and their persecution of the Jews. Armand Jacoubovitch Imagine that you are a thirty year...

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Who Was Norman Bacchiocchi?
Sep18

Who Was Norman Bacchiocchi?

Luca Brasi’s killer: Murdered by the mob. Who hasn’t seen The Godfather? There were some pretty gruesome scenes, that’s for sure, and one of those was the murder of Luca Brasi. Fictional Brasi was the bodyguard of Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando. When Brasi was murdered in the movie, a bit player was the killer and he, Norman Bacchiocchi, was later killed by the mob — in real life. ‘He sleeps with...

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The Prince & the Showgirl: Gisèle Pascal, Prince Rainier & Marilyn Monroe
Sep17

The Prince & the Showgirl: Gisèle Pascal, Prince Rainier & Marilyn Monroe

Gisèle Pascal, Prince Rainier and Marilyn Monroe In the early 1950s,Prince Rainier of Monaco was the perfect age to marry – he had been born in 1923. He was wealthy, handsome and the ruler of a magical principality. However, he was a shy and retiring man. For several years he had been living with a French actress, Gisèle Pascal and the time was approaching when he needed to marry to produce heirs to his principality. However,...

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“Miss Bacall Did Her Own Singing…”
Sep16

“Miss Bacall Did Her Own Singing…”

“Miss Bacall Did Her Own Singing…” The scene is a bar room in French Martinique, a hot and noisy club setting where a piano player called Cricket (Hoagy Carmichael ) is playing for a gorgeous teenage singer, Slim. Slim was Lauren Bacall in her first movie role, and what a star turn she gave, singing one of Carmichael’s most memorable songs, How Little We Know. Her vocal training was coming along, but no-one...

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The Train Whistle Blows
Sep15

The Train Whistle Blows

You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are? Anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles. George Bailey – It’s A Wonderful Life. It seems quite odd these days to imagine inventing the steam engine but not having any means of signalling a train’s imminence. But when George Stephenson was developing his steam engines, back in 1814, his first engines travelled so slowly and made such a racket...

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Singapore Sling: Grand Prix Gourmet
Sep15

Singapore Sling: Grand Prix Gourmet

It’s said that bartender Ngiam Tong Boon invented the Singapore Sling over a hundred years ago at the Raffles Hotel. Some say that when he retired he took the secret ingredient with him. So whether the recipe I use to create this delicious drink is one hundred percent authentic I can’t say, but I can tell you that it’s refreshing, tasty and has a bit of a kick 🙂 It’s much better if you use freshly squeezed...

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Isadora Duncan
Sep14

Isadora Duncan

Who was Isadora Duncan? Although she was American, Isadora Duncan was virtually unknown in the States during her short and rather scandalous lifetime. A free-spirited dancer, she found her fame in Europe. When she first appeared on the stage in Victorian New York, the public was scandalised. One critic wrote: “This woman is an outrage, scandalous and a threat to all decent societies. She should be locked up at the earliest...

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The Bombing of Buckingham Palace in WW2
Sep13

The Bombing of Buckingham Palace in WW2

The Second World War: The Bombing of Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace was hit by bombs seven times during the Second World War. It was just a matter of sheer luck that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (know to most of us as the Queen Mother) weren’t killed or very badly injured when the third raid took place on September 13th, 1940.. Two German bombs fell in the quadrangle – the centre courtyard – and in...

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Frances Reynolds: Life on the Run
Sep12

Frances Reynolds: Life on the Run

Frances Reynolds: Wife of Great Train Robber, Bruce. Frances was just sixteen years old when Bruce Reynolds started courting her. She knew that he operated on the wrong side of the law but she was in love. She understood his rebellious character. So when he went on the run, she was with him. After Bruce and his colleagues had pulled off the Great Train Robbery in 1963, the couple had no choice. They had a small baby, Nick, but Franny...

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Dancing with the Enemy: Paul Glaser
Sep11

Dancing with the Enemy: Paul Glaser

Dancing with the Enemy: A true story of the Holocaust in the Netherlands. In addition to being one woman’s fascinating and sometimes horrific account of life as a Jew when the Netherlands were occupied by the Germans in WW2, this is also the true story of how the author found out about his family’s secret. Paul Glaser was born in the Netherlands after the Second World War and brought up as a Catholic. It was only when he...

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Seymour Worsley, The Lady in Red
Sep09

Seymour Worsley, The Lady in Red

The Scandalous Lady Worsley. In the eighteenth century, England was rocked by the scandalous story of Lord and Lady Worsley and her lover, George Bisset. There were many scandals amongst the aristocracy in those days but the case Seymour Worsley was seen to be one of the worst – certainly the most entertaining. Born as Seymour Fleming to a wealthy family, she married Sir Richard Worsley when she was only seventeen. The couple...

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Grace Darling
Sep08

Grace Darling

Grace Darling and the sinking of the Forfarshire. The story of Grace Darling is well known. It’s often published in magazines that cater to young girls, possibly being thought to be inspirational. But why did she achieve such fame? Are the stories about her true? It’s certainly the case that she helped her father – a lighthouse keeper – to rescue nine people from a wrecked ship of the coast of Northumberland in...

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Eyam Village and the Great Plague
Sep07

Eyam Village and the Great Plague

Eyam Village and the Great Plague. Eyam is a small and picturesque village in Derbyshire. If you visit, at first there is nothing to immediately distinguish it from other English villages but you’ll soon find history surrounds you. Three hundred and fifty years ago, the great plague came to the village. And the villagers decided to quarantine themselves to stop this horrible and fatal disease spreading to the rest of the north...

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The Racing Driver and the Titanic
Sep06

The Racing Driver and the Titanic

Washington Augustus Roebling II. Washington Roebling was named after his well-known uncle who had played a part in the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and as a boy, like others in his family, he had a huge interest in engineering. But for Washington, that had nothing to do with civil engineering but with cars and racing. He co-created the Roebling-Planche car which he drove successfully in several races in the USA. But late in 1911 he...

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Who Was MaVynee Betsch??
Sep05

Who Was MaVynee Betsch??

Who was MaVynee Betsch, the Beach Lady? She was born into high society. Her great grandfather had been the first black millionaire in Florida. He founded the Afro-American Insurance Company in Jacksonville and the famous black American Beach resort in the days of segregation. MaVynee was exquisitely educated, as were her brother and sister. They were taught the piano, for example, at a very early age. MaVynee went onto study voice and...

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Rico Rodriguez – Ska Trombone Legend
Sep04

Rico Rodriguez – Ska Trombone Legend

Andy Royston pays a heartfelt tribute to Rico, the ‘bone man from Wareika, who died in London on September 4th after a short illness. Rico Rodriguez – Ska Trombone Legend From crucial horn breaks on the earliest ska and rocksteady songs (recorded by Coxone Dodd and Duke Reid), though session work for Chris Blackwell and Island Records (touring with Bob Marley and the Wailers) to providing the brass backline for one of the...

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Steve Fossett
Sep03

Steve Fossett

Steve Fossett: Mystery. In late September 2008, a hiker was out in the Sierra Nevada in California with his wife and a couple of friends. The hiker had heard that there was an abandoned mine nearby so left the rest of the party to see if he could locate it. He didn’t – but he found something far more remarkable, although he didn’t realise it at the time. He found a pilot’s license and some banknotes. The...

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The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935
Sep02

The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935

In the mid nineteen fifties a contractor on Islamorada, one of the Florida Keys, was digging fill from a rock pit. He unearthed a gruesome discovery. He found three intact cars. Their out-of-state licence plates showed that they had been there since 1935. The skeletons of the occupants were still inside the vehicles. It was easy to explain what had happened to those vehicles twenty years before. They must have been visiting the...

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Authentic Italian Tomato Sauce. Grand Prix Gourmet, Italy
Sep01

Authentic Italian Tomato Sauce. Grand Prix Gourmet, Italy

Authentic Italian Tomato Sauce Recipe. Here’s my recipe for Italian tomato sauce taught to me by my grandma. It’s very simple but so tasty. The secret is to make sure you fry the onions and garlic well before adding the tomatoes. It’s such a versatile sauce, good for all sorts of dishes. I make a huge amount most weeks and freeze it in small containers so it’s ready to use. It’s vegetarian too. This recipe serves four with pasta...

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Lady Iris Mountbatten: Royal Black Sheep
Sep01

Lady Iris Mountbatten: Royal Black Sheep

Who was Iris Mountbatten? When she was fourteen years old,she was a train-bearer at the wedding of the Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece. Two years later, she performed the same function at the coronation of George VI. She grew up to have sultry film star looks. She was a direct descendant of Queen Victoria and at one time was fourteenth in line to the throne. She was one of the most photographed debutantes of her time. Yet...

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Today in history: September
Aug31

Today in history: September

What happened on this day in September? 1st Edgar Rice Burroughs born 1875 Titanic found by Robert Ballard 1985 Lily Tomlin born 1939 Germany invaded Poland 1939 Lady Iris Mountbatten died 1982 Princess Anne announced divorce 1989 2nd George Harrison married Olivia Arias 1978 Labor Day Hurricane 1935 Jean Spangler born 1923 3rd Steve Fossett disappeared 2007 Britain declared war on Germany 1939 Denby Dale Pie 1988 4th Robert Dudley...

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The Mystery of Flight 19
Aug31

The Mystery of Flight 19

What happened to Flight 19? True life Second World War mystery from the Bermuda Triangle. The now famous phrase ‘the Bermuda Triangle’ hadn’t been coined on that day in December 1946 when, just before three o’clock in the afternoon, five planes took off on a routine training flight from Fort Lauderdale Naval Air Station. The aircraft, and their young occupants, were never seen again. This is a truly fascinating...

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The Boy in the Song: Hey Jude
Aug30

The Boy in the Song: Hey Jude

Hey Jude, by Paul McCartney. Hey Jude was the first record that the Beatles released on their own label, Apple. It was released in 1968 and its original title  was Hey Jules – it was written for Julian Lennon who was five years old when his parents were divorced. John Lennon had married Cynthia Powell in 1962 and Julian was born the following April, just when Beatlemania was just starting to take off. John was on tour when...

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Nancy Kulp
Aug29

Nancy Kulp

 Who was Nancy Kulp? Nancy Kulp starred in a television show that is still being shown worldwide. Do you recognise her? Does the face look familiar? There were two hundred and seventy four episodes of the television show made and their aired in the nineteen sixties and seventies. She won an Emmy for the part she played and in 1999, her characters was deemed to be number thirty nine in the top fifty ‘greatest characters on TV of...

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Louis le Prince: The Man Who Invented the Movies
Aug28

Louis le Prince: The Man Who Invented the Movies

 Who invented motion pictures? Some people would say it was Thomas Edison who invented the movies. Others might mention the Lumière brothers. But in fact,  movies – motion pictures – were invented by the man you see on the left. Two of his films, taken in 1888, survive. But Louis le Prince is rarely credited with the invention and more than that, his story ends with his mysterious disappearance. Was this foul play because...

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Who Was Anne Morrow?
Aug26

Who Was Anne Morrow?

Anne Morrow. Anne Morrow was born in 1906 and at one time, was one of the most talked-about women in America —but not for reasons she would have wished. She was an acclaimed and prolific author but during the early nineteen thirties – when she was often in the newspaper headlines, not many readers were aware of her literary talents. Most people – then and now – when they hear the name ‘Lindbergh’...

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Prince George – The Forgotten Royal
Aug25

Prince George – The Forgotten Royal

Who was Prince George? Prince George was a member of the British royal family but his name is little-known today. He was a good looking prince – he was rather dashing and loved fast airplanes, fast cars and, as you might imagine, fast women too. There are still stories coming to light about his life – we may still find out more about this somewhat mysterious character. His life was a short one and we were left with three...

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Moules Marinière: Grand Prix Gourmet, Belgium
Aug25

Moules Marinière: Grand Prix Gourmet, Belgium

Poor old Belgium gets a bad press when it comes to its cuisine because it sits under the shadow of France. However, my husband lived there for a few years, and he enjoyed so many delicious meals and he always tells me that he would very happily eat Belgian food every day! The most famous dish must be Moules Marinière served with fries, mayonnaise, and a tankard of wonderful Belgian beer. Belgium is a small country, but it boasts about...

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The Berners Street Hoax
Aug24

The Berners Street Hoax

Theodore Hook, Berners Street and the Sanderson Hotel. For two hundred years the Berners Street Hoax has been thought of as one of the most bizarre – and certainly chaotic -practical jokes in history. If you’ve ever seen the Marx Brothers film, A Night at the Opera, this event is said to have been the inspiration for one of the funniest scenes. Theodore Hook, the man you see on the right,was the person responsible. He wasn...

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Sheila van Damm
Aug23

Sheila van Damm

Racy Ladies: Sheila van Damm. Sheila van Damm’s career was interesting to say the least. She was known in the nineteen fifties as Britain’s top woman rally driver and by the nineteen sixties she was running ‘naughty’ reviews on the London stage. Yet she arrived at both careers accidentally. You will most probably have heard of the famous Windmill Theatre in London. It shot to fame in the wartime years as it was...

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Who Was Ellen Church?
Aug22

Who Was Ellen Church?

Ellen Church: The first air hostess. In 1930, Ellen was ideally qualified to become the first air hostess. She was a registered pilot and a qualified nurse. In those days, airlines wouldn’t employ female pilots (for reasons known only to them) but Ellen persuaded them that cabin crew should be trained in nursing. Flying was a rather hazardous business in those days — you only have to think of the large number of...

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Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Aug21

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Who was Lady Mary Wortley Montagu? In the eighteenth century, Lady Mary was known for her sharp satiric writing about prominent personalities. Not all this work survives however, because of her daughter. Her daughter was scandalised by her mother – who she considered to be extremely eccentric –  so when Lady Mary died, her papers were destroyed. Lady Mary was renown for her wit and her beauty but there was another side to...

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Why is Fort Lauderdale called Fort Liquordale?
Aug20

Why is Fort Lauderdale called Fort Liquordale?

Why is Fort Lauderdale nicknamed Fort Liquordale? When I first came to live in Fort Lauderdale and heard people refer to it as ‘Fort Liquordale’ I thought it was a reference to the craziness that descended on our area during Spring Break – especially in the last century. But I was wrong. It was bootlegging.    Bootlegging in Fort Lauderdale In 1920 the American government, in its wisdom, decided to ban the...

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Coco Chanel
Aug19

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel: Naughtier than you might think. What do you know about Coco Chanel? Possibly most people today think of her as a couturier and the person who was responsible for iconic fashion designs – and of course, the famous Chanel N0 5 perfume. But who was she really? Her name instantly conjures up style and sophistication for most of us but she came from humble beginnings. Not only that, she had a string of fascinating...

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Vegan Pumpkin Curry Soup Recipe
Aug18

Vegan Pumpkin Curry Soup Recipe

Vegan Pumpkin Curry Soup Recipe This recipe was originally served at the BonBon Cafe in Lewiston, Maine. The recipe was published in the Sun Journal and was given by the cafe’s manager, Bonnie Loubier. The original recipe was an old one, but Bonnie had added her own touches.   Save Print Vegan Pumpkin Curry Soup Recipe Rating  5 from 1 reviews Serves: 8 Ingredients 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil 1 large, sweet...

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Ted Hughes, An Unauthorized Life
Aug17

Ted Hughes, An Unauthorized Life

Andy Royston walks out on the wily windy moors with the ghost of Ted Hughes. Poor Heathcliff trying to tear away the veil between death and life… crying out to Cathy’s soul… to haunt him and torment him… till he died.” Emily Brontë “I have often had the fancy that there is one myth for every man, which, if we but knew it, would make us understand all he did and thought” W.B. Yeats Living as I...

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Who Was Bernarr MacFadden?
Aug16

Who Was Bernarr MacFadden?

Bernarr MacFadden: Millionaire, eccentric and health nut. He fully expected to live to be a hundred and twenty. He often predicted that he would in his health magazine and his over one hundred books. He was a bodybuilder and chose to subsist, so he maintained,on a diet of nuts, carrots and beet juice. He also recommended exercise, relaxation and that sex should be performed only for the purposes of reproduction. (He was married four...

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