Speed Records at Daytona Beach
Jun13

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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Diana Mitford
Jun13

Diana Mitford

Diana Mitford and Oswald Mosley. The true story of Diana Mitford is wonderfully scandalous and took place during an eventful period in history. The ingredients in her story include the British aristocracy, millionaires, the upper echelons of society, affairs, Hitler, royalty and more – mostly set in wartime Britain. But it is also the story of two people in love who were vilified by the general public – to some extent,...

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Was Prince Philip Greek?
Jun10

Was Prince Philip Greek?

Is Prince Philip really Greek? Prince Philip is often known as ‘Phil the Greek’. Often, when people use this nickname, they also make sniggering comment about kebab shops. But is it really the case? It’s true that he was born on Greek soil – on the island of Corfu to be precise – but it’s also true that he doesn’t have a drop of Greek blood. The fact remains though that he is a prince of...

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Victoria Woodhull
Jun09

Victoria Woodhull

Victoria Woodhull: The first woman to run for the US presidency. Her father was a con-man and an arsonist. He mother was illegitimate and illiterate. But that didn’t stop Victoria Woodhull from deciding that she wanted to be the president of the United States. She only went to school for three years. She was enchanted by clairvoyants and spiritualists. She was married when she was fifteen, had two children then was quickly...

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The DeAutremont Twins
Jun08

The DeAutremont Twins

Who were the DeAutremont brothers? Twins Ray and Roy were just twenty three when they attempted one of the most daring robberies in America. Their brother Hugh, who accompanied them, was a mere nineteen. The crime they committed in 1923 would have been laughable in its ineptitude had they not happened to kill four men during the debacle. But what of their earlier criminal career? This too proves without doubt that the DeAutremont...

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Reginald Warneford: Reckless Rex
Jun06

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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Grand Prix Gourmet: Azerbaijan – Dogva
Jun06

Grand Prix Gourmet: Azerbaijan – Dogva

Dogva recipe from Azerbaijan Until 2016 when the Grand Prix racing first went to Baku, I had no idea that there was such a place as Azerbaijan. As you can tell, I’m really shaky on matters geographical. But Baku, the largest city in Azerbaijan, is an incredible place. Dogva is a meat-free soup that can be served cold in the summer, warm in the winter, and is extremely tasty and easy to make. Traditionally, it is a soup served at...

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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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Josephine Baker
Jun03

Josephine Baker

The Joséphine Baker Story. Until I recently read a biography about Josephine Baker, I had only the haziest idea about who she was. Little did I know what a truly fascinating life she had. It’s amazing that someone who had such  a poor start in life could achieve so much. The book tells so many fascinating stories about her life – and it wasn’t always an easy one. She inherited her terrific looks from her mother,...

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Man Mailed Himself from England to Australia
Jun02

Man Mailed Himself from England to Australia

Man mailed himself from England to Australia. In 1964, Australian athlete, Reg Spiers, was stuck in the UK. He desperately wanted to get home to Australia but couldn’t afford the fare. So his solution was to have himself mailed home as freight. The system allowed freight to be sent cash-on-delivery, so no up-front payment was required. Reg reckoned that he’d find a way to pay for his flight (in a box in the cargo hold)...

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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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Sergeant Pepper Taught the Band to Play
Jun01

Sergeant Pepper Taught the Band to Play

Over the years there have been some spectacular Beatles cover versions. I was always partial to the ones with soul, with Richie Havens’ Here Comes The Sun, Ray Charles’ Eleanor Rigby and the Brothers Johnson’s, Come Together up at the top of the list. But one album that’s spawned more than a few monsters is Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. We could be here all day looking for the absolute worst. Scots...

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Cat out of Hell, by Lynne Truss
May31

Cat out of Hell, by Lynne Truss

Cat out of Hell, by Lynne Truss. This is a wonderful laugh-out-loud mystery and suspense novel that is intriguing, funny and thought-provoking all at the same time. It’s also  horror story – of sorts. It’s been described by the Sunday Telegraph as a ‘masterpiece of comic writing’ and is definitely the sort of book that you’ll want to read in one sitting. I admit to taking time from my working day...

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Why Did Henry VIII Marry Six Times?
May30

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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Cilla Black
May29

Cilla Black

Liverpool’s Cilla Black. When the Mersey sound of the Beatles started to dominate the hit parade in the early nineteen sixties, there was only one girl singer who was part of this phenomenon. Young Priscilla White started working as a cloakroom attendant at the now famous Cavern Club in Liverpool; the venue where the Beatles played their early gigs. And it was the Beatles who discovered that the red-haired Cilla  should have...

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The Dionne Quintuplets
May28

The Dionne Quintuplets

Who were the Dionne quintuplets? When Elzire Dionne discovered that she was pregnant in 1933, she already had five children. By May the following year, she had doubled the size of her family. And she was only twenty five She and her husband Oliva lived in a farming neighbourhood in a French-speaking area of Canada. During the early part of her pregnancy, Elzire thought she might have had a miscarriage (I won’t go into details)...

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The Dreamland Fire of 1911
May27

The Dreamland Fire of 1911

Coney Island: The Dreamland Fire, 1911. Have you ever thought, like me, that places such as fairgrounds, circuses and amusement parks have a vaguely creepy side to them? At these places, much of what we see is illusion. Nothing is as it appears to be. This was especially the case in the early nineteenth century and in Victorian days. Dreamland, a huge amusement park on Coney Island, was the perfect example.In many ways, it was...

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Zoran Music: Dachau Artist
May27

Zoran Music: Dachau Artist

Who was Zoran Mušic? There are hardly the words to describe what happened at the Nazi concentration camps. But Zoran Music, an artist from Austria, was incarcerated in Dachau and secretly drew the horrors of life there. After graduating after studying art, he decided to travel. He was arrested by the Nazis when he was making sketches of buildings. They assumed he was a spy. Story has it that he was tortured and then interrogated by an...

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What is Synesthesia?
May25

What is Synesthesia?

What is synesthesia? For many years, people thought I was weird –  and I’m not going to say that they were wrong in some respects – when they realised that I associated different colours to letters of the alphabet. It just seems normal to me. Now I stop them in their tracks (Me? Weird?) with this simple sentence ‘I am a synesthete’. You might be too. Synesthesia describes a phenomenon which, when a person...

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The Bonnie and Clyde Death Car
May22

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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Grand Prix Gourmet: Quiche Monaco
May22

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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Why Is There No Friday At Monaco?
May21

Why Is There No Friday At Monaco?

Why don’t they have Friday at Monaco? Of course, they have Fridays. They don’t have a six-day week that goes – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday. That would be daft. But to new fans of Formula One, it’s quite a common question and one that we experienced afficionados are accustomed to. It sounds like a silly question but it makes perfect sense to us. You see, when the Formula One...

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Nicholas Winton: The British Schindler
May19

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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Scandal:  John Lennon and Alma Cogan
May19

Scandal: John Lennon and Alma Cogan

Yoko Ono did not break up the Lennon’s marriage. Cynthia Lennon, the first wife of John, died on April 1st, 2015. Four days later, a newspaper broke the story that she had told a reporter, back in 1989, that it wasn’t Yoko Ono that had split up the Lennon marriage. Cynthia had revealed, the newspaper said, that the breakup of the marriage was due to a once-famous but then-fading British singer called Alma Cogan (pictured)....

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Who Was Margaret Hamilton?
May16

Who Was Margaret Hamilton?

The lady you see in the photograph is Margaret Hamilton. Do you recognise her? The chances are that you’ve seen her on the screen, especially in her most famous role. She played that part in an old movie – you can tell from the photograph that she’s not an actress of today but she was still appearing on the screen in 1982. Although her most famous part was in a movie dating from 1939, I imagine that a good percentage...

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Who Was Ellen Church?
May15

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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Freaks: The movie with so many questions
May14

Freaks: The movie with so many questions

Freaks: The film that asks so many questions Freaks is a movie made in 1932.  Could such a film be made today? Probably not. When the film was first issued, it was banned in the UK for over thirty years.There are reports of cinemagoers fainting, screaming or running from the theatres. And this wasn’t because of any chilling special effects. Yet the version that was released had been extensively cut – with the worst parts...

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Kathleen Kennedy
May13

Kathleen Kennedy

Four months before he was assassinated in Dallas in 1963, American president John Kennedy visited Ireland. Most people thought that he then flew directly to London from the US but in fact, he detoured to the tiny village of Edensor in England. There he laid a wreath on the grave of his younger sister, Kathleen. How had she died and why was she buried in a country churchyard in Derbyshire? Who was Kathleen Kennedy? Kathleen Cavendish...

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Amelia Earhart
May12

Amelia Earhart

The making of Amelia Earhart. Amelia Earhart became world famous for flying planes. Lots of other women were flying at the time, but Amelia became the  female pilot. Today, she is known for her mysterious disappearance but during her lifetime, her popularity was largely due to the skilled promotion and public relations created by her husband, George Putnam. Amelia was always an adventurer and was a tomboy as a child. She’d...

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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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Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers
May10

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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All the Queen’s … Pigeons
May09

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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Shrimp in Spicy Tomato Sauce, Grand Prix Gourmet, Spain
May08

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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Who Was Mr Simpson?
May08

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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Nicole Hughes Maxwell
May06

Nicole Hughes Maxwell

Who was Nicole Hughes Maxwell?  Nichole Hughes Maxwell transformed herself from a Californian socialite into a South American explorer and ethnobotanist. She later said that the wild animals,the witch doctors and the swamps held no fear for her – not,that is, compared to her pre-expedition lunch with top executives of  pharmaceutical company.”I hate asking for money’ she said. But she did receive a grant to continue...

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The Superga Air Disaster
May05

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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Hoth Chocolate from the Star Wars Cookbook
May04

Hoth Chocolate from the Star Wars Cookbook

Hot chocolate recipe: Star Wars. Star Wars Drink Make a Star Wars hot drink on a rainy, chilly and wet day to warm you up. At least that’s what the rebellions that are hidden on Echo Base are thinking. It’s cold on ice planet of Hoth! They want to warm up with a nice chocolaty drink. Ok I bet you’re wondering where I came up with this? I have this really cool Star Wars Cookbook. It has really fun recipes in it and...

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The Great Jacksonville Fire
May03

The Great Jacksonville Fire

Jacksonville fire: 1901. Friday, May 3rd, 1901 was a beautiful day in Jacksonville, Florida. The sky was blue and there was no wind – it was perfect Floridian weather. At the Cleveland Fibre Factory, workers were sitting outside enjoying their lunch and there was a delicious smell of food cooking on a wood burning stove from a nearby shanty. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the smell that was floating through the air –...

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The Loch Ness Monster
May02

The Loch Ness Monster

Couple saw Nessie ambling across the road. The Loch Ness Monster was a thing of myth and legend dating originally from 565 AD. But the modern news about the ‘existence’ of the Loch Ness Monster was originally broken in the  Scottish press in May 1933. A few months later,a Mr and Mrs Spicer reported that they too had seen the monster who was casually ambling across a country road adjacent to the loch. He (or she) was...

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Ayrton Senna
May01

Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna: Early years. For many of us, Ayrton Senna was the greatest racing driver ever. Even those who aren’t race enthusiasts know that the World Champion Brazilian was tragically killed racing at Imola in 1994. But what about his early life?  Ayrton Senna: Ten things you might not know It’s often said that Ayrton was from a wealthy background but that’s relative. It’s true that for many people in his...

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Batley Variety Club
Apr28

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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Lunch with Hitler
Apr27

Lunch with Hitler

Traudl Junge was only twenty two years old when she became one of Adolf Hitler’s private secretaries. This was in 1942. The secretaries had little work to do and one of their duties was to dine with Hitler to keep him amused, keep his mind off the war for a short while and of course, to supply him with an audience. Initially Traudl found her boss to be rather charming and pleasant company. This was to change as the war...

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So, Prince Philip swears
Apr09

So, Prince Philip swears

And this is news? In July 2015, the newspapers and the internet were full of the news that Britain’s Prince Philip had ‘appeared to use’ the f-word during a photo shoot.  Have they nothing better to report? Blimey. Royals today are no longer expected to don suits of armour and go jousting. Neither do they live in fear of being usurped and sent to the Tower to have their heads cut off.  But it does seem a little...

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Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Prince Philip
Apr09

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Prince Philip

Ten facts you might not know about Prince Philip. Prince Philip married Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) in 1947. Few marriages have lasted as long. The prince has been hugely misunderstood in the press during all his public life but he is quite a character and there are many misconceptions about him. Here’s a selection of interesting facts that you might now know. Amaze your friends with your knowledge of royal...

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The Aberfan Disaster
Oct02

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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The Mysterious Porthole Murder
Oct01

The Mysterious Porthole Murder

A shipboard romance – and murder: True story. They were an unlikely couple but it’s hardly surprising that they got together. In October 1947, the liner Durban Castle was making its way on a voyage between Cape Town and Southampton. Eileen Gibson (known as Gay) was a twenty one year old actress and a first class passenger aboard the ship. James Camb was also on board but the thirty one year old was an employee; he was a...

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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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Who Was Monica Proietti?
Sep20

Who Was Monica Proietti?

Monica Proietti: Machine Gun Molly Monica Proietti was the mother of two children and old twenty seven years old when she died. This young mother was killed in a gun battle with the law. I know that sounds like a story from the Wild West but this took place  in Montreal in 1967. Monica was known as Machine Gun Molly  and was a known criminal – with a curious background. She’d been married when she was only seventeen,...

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Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
Sep19

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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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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Who was Sarah Winchester?
Sep05

Who was Sarah Winchester?

The mysterious Winchester House. When Sarah Winchester was widowed, she started to create one of the most bizarre homes ever seen in America. Why? It’s quite simple, it was to keep evil spirits away. Obviously really, isn’t it? No? Well, it was to Sarah. Sarah’s late husband was William Winchester, the man who made rage rifles ‘that won the West’. The distraught widow, who had discovered spiritualism some...

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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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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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Who was Pancho Barnes?
Aug12

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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Florida’s German Invasion
Aug08

Florida’s German Invasion

In early summer 1942 a German submarine, U-584, lay off the coast of Florida close to Jacksonville. On June 16th it surfaced and a small rubber inflatable dinghy was launched. Four men hastily climbed into the tiny craft. They wore swimming trunks and woollen caps. They each had a suitcase containing a variety of American made clothing. Also, they loaded four wooden crates into the dinghy – these contained explosives. They also...

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Vintage TV: What’s My Line
Aug07

Vintage TV: What’s My Line

Hooked on What’s My Line from the nineteen fifties and sixties. I truly could spend hours watching old videos of the 1950s and 60s television show, the panel game What’s My Line. It’s like another world. Well, I guess 1950s New York was another world. Take a look at this great photograph.   The panel and the host would dress as though they were going out for the evening. Bow ties were usual for the men and the...

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Oakwell Hall, Yorkshire
Aug06

Oakwell Hall, Yorkshire

Oakwell Hall, Yorkshire If you’re familiar with Charlotte Bronte’s Shirley, then you know Oakwell Hall. For Oakwell, a place she knew well, became the house ‘Fairfield’ in the novel. In the 1840s,Oakwell in Yorkshire was a school for girls. It was due to her friendship with one of the students there, Ellen Nussey, that Charlotte Bronte came to know the hall. But the building is much older than that. If you...

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Jackie Kennedy: The Pink Suit
Jul25

Jackie Kennedy: The Pink Suit

Jackie Kennedy: The pink suit. In early November, 1963, John and Jackie Kennedy were at the White House enjoying a private dinner with newspaper columnist Joe Alsop and his wife, Susan. After dinner, John Kennedy asked his wife to show their guests the pink suit that she intended to wear during their forthcoming trip to Texas. Jackie was reluctant at first but went to her room and fetched the plain, pink suit. Yes, that one. Looking...

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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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Irrepressible:  The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford
Jul22

Irrepressible:  The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford

Irrepressible:  The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford. Jessica, almost always known as Decca, was one of the famous aristocratic Mitford sisters who were notorious in the  twentieth century. There were six sisters (and one brother who died in the Second World War) and all drew notoriety in their own way. As society girls,they were constantly in trouble during their teens. Their mother always remarked that if ever she saw newspaper...

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Marni Nixon
Jul18

Marni Nixon

Who was Marni Nixon? Is the name unfamiliar to you? The chances are that you don’t recognise the face either. But it’s very likely that you know her voice. Marni was responsible for some of the most famous singing voices heard on the silver screen.. Have you heard the soundtrack from My Fair Lady for example? Or seen the film? That’s not Audrey Hepburn that you’re listening to – it’s the voice of...

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Will Camilla be Queen?
Jul17

Will Camilla be Queen?

Will Camilla be Queen? In 2005, it was announced that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker -Bowles would be married. They had been living together for quite some time. The queen and the practically-minded royal family approved wholeheartedly. Princes William and Harry had come to know her well and were delighted. And yet a poll showed that only seven percent of British people wanted her to eventually be queen. Yet ten years later, as the...

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The Great Pearl Heist
Jul16

The Great Pearl Heist

Joseph Grizzard and the Great Pearl Heist. Who was Joseph Grizzard? Joseph Grizzard was a cultured man. He was elegant, wealthy, owned a lovely home and had a wife and children. He was also a criminal mastermind. A Londoner, he had been born in 1866 and despite humble beginnings, by the Edwardian Era he was a wealthy man – thanks to crime. He was wonderfully urbane. In 1909, he was having a small dinner party at his home when...

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Who Was  Julia Stanley?
Jul15

Who Was Julia Stanley?

Julia Stanley: Which version do you believe? Julia Stanley will go down in history. But her life is surrounded by myths and legends. What is the truth? Let’s look at the facts. She was born as one of five sisters in Liverpool in 1914. She wasn’t from a wealthy family but they were not poor either.  After the death of the girls’ mother, the father ruled over the household with an iron fist. When Julia was fourteen,...

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The Bobbed Haired Bandit
Jul13

The Bobbed Haired Bandit

The Bobbed Haired Bandit. In 1989 it was clear to Ed Cooney Jr that his mother, now aged eighty five, was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Ed had been a computer programmer and had moved to Florida when he retired. His mother Celia, having no other family except Ed and his brother, had also moved from New Jersey to the Floridian sunshine. Ed didn’t realised that his mother had lived in Florida before – or anything...

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Hetty Green
Jul12

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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The Mysterious Death of  Wallis Simpson
Jun17

The Mysterious Death of Wallis Simpson

What happened to Wallis Simpson after the Duke of Windsor died? Wallis was of course, the Duchess of Windsor. Her husband the duke had formerly been King Edward VIII and famously he abdicated in 1936 so that he could marry her. Their affair and subsequent marriage had tongues wagging on both sides of the Atlantic and was the constitutional crisis of the twentieth century. They had a curious, scandalous and rather sad married life but...

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Cremorne Gardens, London
Jun15

Cremorne Gardens, London

Cremorne Gardens, London Cremorne Gardens provided a popular place for entertainment in the Victorian era. Close to the Battersea Bridge, it offered all sorts of amusements for the population. It sounds so very genteel, doesn’t it? It gives the impression of well-bred ladies strolling in their finery and holding their parasols to shield their fair complexions from the sun. The name evokes an image of elegant gentlemen, courtesly...

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The Last Escaper: Peter Tunstall
Jun14

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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William Grover Williams: Racing Driver and Spy
Jun06

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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Graham Hill
May28

Graham Hill

Graham Hill On December 5th, 1975, racing driver Graham Hill was due to appear at a ceremony at which the British Racing Drivers Club was going to honor his achievements as a racing driver. Hill had won the  Grand Prix Championship, the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours race during his racing career. But instead, over two thousand of his friends and colleagues attended his funeral. He had retired from racing just five months...

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Alberto Ascari
May26

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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The Disappearance of the Mary Celeste
May25

The Disappearance of the Mary Celeste

What was the fate of the Mary Celeste? The Mary Celeste became the world’s most famous ship in 1872. She had been found drifting in the North Atlantic Ocean – she was completely seaworthy and orderly but her entire crew had vanished into thin air. They were never seen again. You can read more about that here. Ever since that day, experts, the authorities and members of the general public have been speculating about the...

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Monaco? Forget it if You’re a Criminal
May23

Monaco? Forget it if You’re a Criminal

Is Monaco a police state? When the book you see below was published – and it wasn’t too long ago – the author believed that the gorgeous, fairytale principality of Monaco was a police state. The home of the wealthy and the playground of the famous, Monte CArlo is famous throughout the world for its glittering,luxury lifestyle. It’s also claimed that it’s one of the safest, crime-free places in the world....

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Tomatillo and Onion Tart Recipe
May18

Tomatillo and Onion Tart Recipe

This easy-to-make dish can be prepared using tomatoes or their more exotic cousins, tomatillos. These are available in several gorgeous colours – the ones I have used here are a deep purple shade and are a little sweeter than the green varieties. It takes only a couple of minutes to assemble this tart and then it needs about twenty minutes in the oven. It has a wonderful Italian flavour and is a great dish to cook instead of...

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Lipton’s tea: Victorian advertising
May17

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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The Curious Love Life of Fabulous Fanny Cradock
May17

The Curious Love Life of Fabulous Fanny Cradock

The curious love life of bigamist Fanny Cradock Fanny Cradock was known as the first TV celebrity chef. She appeared on her show along with her ‘husband’, Johnny. Although he was her real-life partner, they were not married – a fact that could have scandalised some viewers when their show started in 1955. In fact, Fanny had first been married at the age of seventeen – to an RAF pilot. Accounts vary regarding...

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Didier Peroni and Gilles Villeneuve
May14

Didier Peroni and Gilles Villeneuve

Team orders in Formula One. At time of writing (July 2016) there’s a lot of mayhem going on about imposing team orders at the Mercedes Formula One HQ.  Now team orders are a subject of a very long article, or even a book, but today I want to talk about motorsport history — and the team orders at the Grand Prix of Imola in 1982. In that year, Didier Pironi of France and Canadian Gilles Villeneuve were team-mates driving for...

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Wallis Simpson’s Wedding Dress
May12

Wallis Simpson’s Wedding Dress

Wallis Simpson’s wedding dress. Not a fashion success. In the nineteen thirties, when King Edward VIII gave up the throne of England for Mrs Wallis Simpson, many people just couldn’t understand what this highly eligible bachelor saw in her. Many  still don’t understand the attraction. In those days, and ever since, she has been described as a ‘fashion icon’. There is little photographic evidence to...

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When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain: History’s Unknown Chapters
May11

When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain: History’s Unknown Chapters

When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain: By Giles Milton. Do you like trivia and strange stories from history? If you do, and you’re looking for a great read, then I highly recommend what Mr Milton has created here. It’s perfect for dipping into as each true story is a short one and you’ll learn such a lot about the weird and the wonderful. One or two of these tales from history might be familiar to you...

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The Man who Sank the Lusitania
May09

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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The Princesses and V.E Day
May07

The Princesses and V.E Day

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, 1945. On May 7th, 1945, the BBC interrupted a broadcast of piano music to declare that the following day would henceforth be known as ‘Victory in Europe Day’. Hitler had killed himself several days before and the German forces had surrendered. On the following day the crowds outside Buckingham Palace were greater than they had been for the coronation of the king, George VII.  The crowds...

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Ivy Benson
May05

Ivy Benson

Who was Ivy Benson? Have you heard of Ivy Benson? I doubt you have but her story is fascinating. Unusually, she was the leader of a swing band in England during the Second World War – and it was an all-girls band. They were incredibly popular. Women came into their own during World War Two. They drove trucks and buses, flew planes, worked as machinists and engineers, worked decoding messages and in general, took over the jobs of...

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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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Formula 1 – A Beginner’s Guide
Apr28

Formula 1 – A Beginner’s Guide

Top 5 things you should know about F1 With Lewis Hamilton defending his third drivers’ championship win from 2015 and a few new rule changes, there’s a lot of interest in Formula One in 2016 and I thought perhaps for those of you who don’t know the sport, a bit of background might be useful. I’ve been watching Formula One for as long as I can remember, certainly from an early age, as I recall who won the 1976 drivers’ championship...

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Was Victor Hervey, 6th Marquess of Bristol: The Real Pink Panther?
Apr26

Was Victor Hervey, 6th Marquess of Bristol: The Real Pink Panther?

Was Victor Hervey, 6th Marquess of Bristol: The Real Pink Panther? He was born into money. He was titled. Yet Victor Hervey became a jewel thief and was the person who masterminded several robberies of a high-class nature. When he was only twenty three years old he was sent to jail. Two years before he was sentenced to prison, he had been declared bankrupt – he had squandered the family money. What was he to do? Well, his...

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What is Earth Hour?
Apr22

What is Earth Hour?

What is Earth Hour? Earth Hour is a worldwide initiative. It has its roots in Australia where the idea began in 2007. In 2015, Earth Hour is on March 28th and takes place between 8.30 and 9.30pm. Worldwide, people are encouraged to turn of their unnecessary lights between those times. This refers to your own local time. The goal of Earth Hour To be honest, there’s someone else who can explain this so much better than I can. See...

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The Murder of Sal Mineo
Apr21

The Murder of Sal Mineo

Who was Sal Mineo? Twenty years before he was murdered, Sal Mineo had been a Hollywood heartthrob. He specialised in playing young toughs such as his part in the James Dean movie, Rebel Without a Cause. But by the time of his murder in February 1976 his career had spent some years in decline. But he wasn’t depressed about his situation. True, he had sold his palatial home and was living in a $75 a month rented apartment but he...

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Lennon & McCartney: The final conversation
Apr13

Lennon & McCartney: The final conversation

Lennon & McCartney: The final conversation. In the final years of John Lennon’s life, the media had two major preoccupations when it came to the one-time Beatles. The first was that all four of the previous members of the group were constantly being asked if a Beatles reunion was on the cards. The answer was always in the negative. The second was the supposed animosity between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Journalists and...

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Famous last meals: The Titanic
Apr11

Famous last meals: The Titanic

Famous last meals: The Titanic Traditionally, when a prisoner is about to be executed, they can request whatever they wish for their last meal. What a tricky problem it would be to choose. I rather imagine that any pleasure derived from your favourite foods would be negated by the fact that you knew what was awaiting you in the morning. In the States, alcohol is not normally permitted for the last meal. Which is a shame because a good...

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Franklin D. Roosevelt: Assassination Attempt
Apr06

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Assassination Attempt

FDR saved in Miami. When Franklin D Roosevelt was elected to office  he planned to relax a little before his inauguration. That was to take place in March 1933 so the month before, he accepted an invitation to go on a fishing trip to South Florida. Eleven days into the trip the yacht he was on, the Nourmahal, docked in pier one at Miami harbour. Roosevelt planned to speak briefly in Bayfront Park to which he travelled in an open car....

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Tragic Truth Behind Sheffield’s Famous Graffiti
Apr01

Tragic Truth Behind Sheffield’s Famous Graffiti

The story behind the ‘I love you’ bridge. In 2001 local residents in the Park Hill area of Sheffield saw a rather amazing piece of graffiti. It wasn’t just that it was an ‘aww’ moment, it was also remarkable because of its location. It was written on the side of a walkway bridge one hundred and thirty feet off the ground. It read ‘Clare Middleton I Love You Will U Marry Me’. Everyone who saw...

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The Guinea Pig Club
Apr01

The Guinea Pig Club

The Guinea Pig Club of the Second World War. This very exclusive club was started in 1941 during WW2. There were exactly six hundred and forty nine members. But there was an incredibly high price to pay for membership. Members were all airmen who had been badly burned and disfigured in action They had all been treated by pioneer surgeon, Archibald McIndoe. He pioneered plastic surgery, hence the name of this elite club. Read on to...

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The 1957 Spaghetti Harvest
Mar31

The 1957 Spaghetti Harvest

The 1957 Spaghetti Harvest 1957 was a year for celebration in the tiny town of Ticino in Switzerland. What many people don’t realise is that pasta isn’t only produced in Italy – it is also grown in some of the surrounding areas. And 1957 provided a bumper crop. The last two weeks of March are always an anxious time for the spaghetti farmer. Should there be late frosts, their spaghetti crop can be badly affected and...

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The Mermaids of Mapplewell
Mar31

The Mermaids of Mapplewell

The Mermaids of Mapplewell Come with me on a journey to the past. A past that was stranger than we could ever imagine. In olden times, unusual creatures inhabited the earth but don’t imagine for a moment that I am talking about prehistoric days. No, the story which unfolds below is only a little more than a hundred and fifty years old. It was then, despite the technological advances being made by the people of the Victorian era,...

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The Clocks of Windsor Castle
Mar29

The Clocks of Windsor Castle

The Queen’s Clockmaker. Steve Davidson has a fantastic job. He is in charge of the many clocks at Windsor Castle, one of the residences of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. But on two weekends of every year he has a truly unenviable job – the weekend in spring when he has to put the clocks forward and then in autumn when they need to be put back an hour. How many clocks? Including the royal residence itself, outbuildings and...

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Take a Walk in the Park Day
Mar27

Take a Walk in the Park Day

A Walk in the Park. You might be getting tired of all the national days that seem to keep popping up.  It makes one wonder if anyone can pick a day, name it and claim it.  Nonetheless, any day to get outside in the fresh air or to enjoy visiting a park is one we should all support. After the winter we’ve seen this past season, I bet everyone is anxious to get outside. Maybe that is why they schedule Take a Walk in the Park Day for...

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How to Hull Strawberries
Mar26

How to Hull Strawberries

The best way to prepare strawberries. It’s so very easy to hull strawberries to prepare them for your favourite recipes. Use this method and you’ll have even more recipes at your fingertips. By removing that hard central core cleanly, you’ll be able to make strawberries stuffed with ice cream or chocolate or any other inventive ideas that will surely occur to you. See the image above – aren’t those...

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Intimate Letters of England’s Queens
Mar25

Intimate Letters of England’s Queens

The Intimate Letters of England’s Queens For lovers of history, or simply those who want to know more about fascinating lives – discovering Intimate Letters of England’s Queens is like finding a treasure trove. After all, there’s no better way about finding out about who these people really were than reading letters written at testing times in their lives. For example, we know the facts about Anne Boleyn. We...

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