“The Special One”

 

Hey and hi. Here I go again with my limited knowledge of ‘the beautiful game’. So as you may or may not know, Jose Mourinho is about to be named manager for Manchester United. There have been a few glitches though. Yikes. I hate glitches. You see, apparently,  image rights negotiations are delaying Mourinho’s appointment as Manchester United Manager. As it has emerged that Chelsea still own his name as a trademark and could demand a six-figure sum from United before any deal is concluded. But really, this issue will not scupper his appointment at Old Trafford. Thank goodness. Mourinho is expected to be named as Louis Van Gaal’s replacement after the Dutchman was sacked on Monday DESPITE winning the FA Cup. Football is crazy. I don’t even watch it and I know very little about it. But you wouldn’t know it. Hah.

Oh, I nearly forgot why I even started this blog post. Ok, let’s do this. They call Jose Mourinho ‘The Special One.’ Yes. Why? Please give me a break. Is he really that special? While I was not looking-has he found a cure for breast cancer, the Zika virus and Lyme disease? Am guessing, no. What has he done that is so spectacularly wonderful? Please enlighten me. Please and thanks.

Well, believe it or not, Mourinho gave himself that name/moniker. Yes, yes he did. I could have told you he was arrogant (and I have done so in previous posts). When Mourinho moved to Chelsea in June 2004, he held a press conference upon joining the club and said, “Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m the special one.” Can you believe he said that? So, the media has dubbed him “The Special One.” I would like to give Mourinho the benefit of the doubt here-I mean, his first language is Portuguese and English is not his native tongue. But sorry, most Portuguese speak English perfectly well. I don’t think there were translation issues here. The guy is just arrogant. Yes, yes he is. But anyway, Good luck to him. I may not like the guy but I don’t have any ill will towards him. So yeah, that is why he is called ‘The Special One.’ And knowledge, is power, people.

Cheers

 

 

University Fees (UK)

Female graduates

Salutations. University Fees. Uggh. The end. But seriously, everyone bemoans University Fees-both here and in the US. Tuition is WAY too high. In fact, I had a cousin who recently graduated from Princeton University. And while Princeton is a great school, its tuition fees are eye-wateringly diabolically high. In fact, if my cousin were to rob a bank, lets say that I would not be that surprised. For real.

Here in the UK, University Fees have had an interesting history. Tuition fees in the UK were INTRODUCED across the entire UK in 1998 under the Labour government as a means of funding tuition to undergraduate and postgraduate students at universities. Yes. Please read that again. Later on, tuition fee caps rose with the Higher Education Act 2004-under the Act, Universities in England could begin to charge variable fees of up to £3000 a year for students enrolling on courses as from the academic year of 2006-7. Wow. Then when University fees rose to 5K people began to loose their minds. I found it amazing. I thought those people should have been grateful to only pay 5K. But then again, if one was never expected to pay tuition then had to commence paying tuition, then I can see why they got mad. I get it. I don’t understand it, but I get it.

Current situation

Universities in England will now be able to increase tuition fees above £9000 from Autumn 2017. Yes, ‘Autumn’-they don’t say ‘Fall’ here. Anyway, it is believed that the increased tuition will ensure high-quality teaching. Further, the plans aim to encourage more competition and better consumer value for students. The government will announce in 2016-2017 which Universities are allowed to increase their fees. Sorana Vieru, vice president of the National Union of Students, said students would be “outraged” at the prospect of tuition fees being increased. Well I suppose so. Better not apply to ANY American Universities then. Don’t even think about Princeton.

That being said, maintenance grants/loans are available for students. Of course, you have to repay your student loans. Duh. One last thing, if there are any American college bound students looking to study abroad for F-R-E-E well then, Germany is your best bet. Look into it, I would if I were you. That is all.

Cheers.

 

 

 

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Devizes

Greetings. When you visit London Town (and I hope you do) why not stop and visit Devizes? Oh, you are not familiar with it? Allow me to wax lyrical about this beautiful place located in Wiltshire. Devizes is a market town and civil parish in the heart of Wiltshire, England. Pictured below is Wiltshire- a county in South West England.

Devizes serves as a centre for banks, solicitors and shops and also has an open market place where a market is held once a week. In addition, it has nearly 500 listed buildings (a listed building, in the UK, is one that has been placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest), some notable churches, a Town Hall and a green at the heart of town. Its development grown around the 11th century Norman castle.

Brief History

Devizes Castle was built by Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury in 1080, but the town is not mentioned in the Domesday Book (a manuscript record of the ‘Great Survey’ of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror) as the castle was on the boundaries of the manors of Rowde, Bishops Cannings and Potterne became known as the castrum ad divisas (the castle at the boundaries), hence the name Devizes. Further, on John Speed’s map of Wilshire (1611) the town’s name is recorded as The Devyses.  The first castle on the site was of the motte and bailey (fortification of wood or stone) form and was probably made of wood and earth but was sadly burnt down in 1113. A new castle was subsequently built in stone by Roger Salisbury, Osmund’s successor. Devizes received its first charter in 1141 permitting regular markets. The castle changed hands several times during the civil war between Blois and Matilda in the 12th century. In addition, the castle held important prisoners, including Robert Curthouse, eldest son of William the Conqueror in 1106. Robert was kept in Devizes for 20 years, before being moved to Cardiff Castle.

The town has had churches since the 11th century and has 4 Church of England parish churches.  The oldest is dedicated to St John the Baptist and was founded in 1130.

From the 16th century, Devizes became known for its textiles-initially white woollen broadcloth but later the manufacture of serge (a type of twill fabric), druggert (coarse woollen fabric), felt and cassimere /Zephyr cloth. In the early 18th century, Devizes held the LARGEST corn market in the West Country of England (and also traded hops, cattle, horses and of course various types of cloth). Further, before the Corn Exchange was built in 1857 the trade in wheat and barley was conducted in the open, with sacks piled around the market cross.

In closing, Devizes is a lovely place with lovely people. You should visit. I would if I were you. Here are a few pictures of this magical place. And pictures do not lie.

 View of Caen Hill locks, Rowde, Devizes, Wilthsire

 Back in the day

  Long ago

Wadworth Ale is quite strong, but you should try it…

Cheers

The rag and bone man (scrap metal dealer)

The butcher the baker and the rag and bone man who rings his bell and shouts ‘any old iron?’. I know you were waiting for the candlestick maker, but this is 2016 not 1816. The supermarket experience in the UK is made up of going to the butcher, the baker and others. Yes, we do have supermarkets but we don’t do Costco or Sam’s club.

Going to the butcher for the first time was a bit intimidating. There was meat everywhere perfectly tied with string. A fly buzzed hazily and the butcher behind the counter was burly and butch with thick sausage-like fingers. He wore a kind gap toothed smile and wiped blood on his apron. Get. Me. Out. seemed to resonate through my body as my vegetarian status was quietly contemplated. I must admit, I felt a bit lost. How could I order what I wanted when I didn’t even know the proper names of sections of the cow (or other animals)? Further, nothing looked familiar and of course nothing was cooked. ‘Hello Madam’ chirped the butcher, as he grinned broadly at me. ‘What are you after today?’ I thought sheepishly to myself-I am after the EXIT sign-can you please direct me in that direction? Am pretty sure he could smell my fear-I was in a butcher’s shop after all. He spoke to me politely. I told him what I was after and how many people were in my household. He proudly showed me his best cuts of meat and even told me how to cook them! It wasn’t so bad, my intermediary-err…my butcher educated me, helped me and wrapped my meat up nicely for me.

Next stop, the bakery…this was more my territory. The baker was a middle aged woman with bright shining eyes and ruddy cheeks. It did not escape me that she was generous around the middle. I liked her immediately and knew I could trust her. With my life, if needed.  We spoke politely about the weather as I ordered a 4 Marlborough buns, 3 Eccles cake, 2 Egg custard tarts and 1 Mince pie. I left happy and was pretty sure I would be visiting the dentist in the next week or so.

‘Any old iron?’ the old Gypsy with pockmarked skin called out as he drove his white van up and down the neighbourhood. What? He wants scrap metal? I just give it to him and then our transaction is complete? Yes. Weird but ok, I am cool with that. I recently heard a story that a couple had been cleaning out their kitchen, so they put their washing machine and tumble dryer in the front garden-a sort of temporary resting place. In the UK you will find the washing machine and tumble dryer in the kitchen. Weird. Don’t even get me started.  Anyway, the couple later returned to their garden to retrieve their white goods, but quickly realised that both items were gone. They had not heard the cry of ‘any old iron?’ as their washing machine and tumble dryer were subsequently scooped up by the scrap metal man.

The butcher, the baker, the rag and bone man and me. Welcome to England, mate.

Wacky English phrases

Life in London

I speak a couple of languages: Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and now the Queen’s English.  By far, learning the Queen’s English was the toughest.  Kid not.  The words and word order are far, far different from my current Yankee English.  But, I got there in the end.  Luckily, I am here to help you. Let’s get started mate, love, ‘chuck’ (if you’re from the North).

1. ‘Mutton dressed up as lamb’

What on earth? This has nothing to do with food. It simply refers to a middle aged woman dressing and acting younger than she is. I mean, who does this?

2. Dog’s dinner.

Again, nothing to do with food. It just means a mess, a fiasco. For example-the European Union has made a dog’s dinner of its economic policy.

3. Bob’s your Uncle.

It just means everything I ok. Never say, ‘Bob is your Father’s brother’. It just wont fly. Trust…

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Quality Street

Hello and hi. When I was growing up in the good ol’ U S of A-my mother never allowed my brother or I to eat candy. I once threatened to run away- in response to her clearly totalitarian rules of no candy consumption. My mother simply responded with, ‘well then, shall I help you pack?’ I was 7. So, my life was riddled with sugar-free candy and biting sarcasm. It is a wonder that I am a normal person today.

Now that I am grown, I can eat whatever I like. Now that I live in the UK, I eat exactly what I want-which includes eating rather large quantities of chocolate. I would like to ponit out that I brush twice daily and floss. I DO NOT have any cavities. No, no I do not.

I mean, I could dedicate an entire blog to the chocolate we have here on this not so small island. Every day I am faced with a plethora of chocolate choices to include:

  • Bounty
  • Cadbury fruit and nut
  • Cadbury Picnic bar
  • Cadbury Lion bar
  • Wispa (‘Its not for girls’. Whatever)
  • Yorkie
  • Flake
  • Cadbury Dairy Milk
  • Crunchie
  • And I haven’t even named them all

British chocolate bars ranked from worst to best

Then there is the bite sized chocolates that come in tin. Well, it used to be a metal tin, but now it is a plastic tub. Who cares? As long as there is chocolate inside. Right? Of course I am right. So, you tend to see them more on the shelves during Christmas-but you can get them at ANY TIME.  My favourite tin/container of chocolate is: Quality Street. So many different flavours of chocolate and they fit perfectly inside my mouth. My favourite is the toffee deluxe. In fact, I will always eat the toffee deluxe first. But not any longer. Boo and hiss.

Nestle, has decided to ditch the Toffee Deluxe from the tins of Quality Street. What. the. hell? I mean, why? Why after 80 years of Toffee Deluxe they have replaced it? Well, apparently the new Honeycomb Crunch has replaced it and I am none too pleased about it.

Toffee history

The toffee treat piece was actually created in 1919 as a sweet in its own right but then was later included in one of the first ever boxes of Quality Street-shortly after it was invented in 1936. Since that time, it has been a consistent mainstay of the Quality Street tin.

The toffee treat was created in 1919 as a sweet in its own right and was included in the first ever box of Quality Street when it was invented in 1936

 

Nestle has ditched Toffee Deluxe from tins of Quality Street after 80 years in favour of a new Honeycomb Crunch
No more toffee deluxe. Enter the honeycomb cruch sweet. Honestly, what on earth is going on? The honeycomb usurper is shown underneath the chocolate in green wrapper-upper left hand corner.
The stalwart, that has a brown wrapper, has now bitten the dust and has been ditched in favour of the new 'Honeycomb Crunch' sweet (second from top left)
I mean, NO ONE eats the strawberry or orange cremes-why not get rid of those? What  gives Nestle? Please reconsider. Seriously, people are really up in arms about this-people have taken to Twitter. The situation is that bad.
The decision came about in response to customer feedback carried out by Nestle. Please give me a break. Customers and consumer rights mean nothing in this country (this excludes Waitrose, John Lewis and Harrods). Apparently, the feedback found that there were too many toffees within the seletion box. Toffee Deluxe was one of THREE toffee sweets. Thankfully, I do mean THANK YOU NESTLE-the round penny toffee and chocolate covered finger remain. Please note that it is not a real finger. It does not even look like a finger. In addition, another change includes the removal of the paper menu for the sweets-instead the names and pictures of the chocolates will appear on the side of the tub. Slowclap. That is all.
Cheers

Did you hear about the Australian woman who…

Image result for image of shane warne

G’day mate! I just love an Australian accent. I especially like Shane Warne’s accent. If you do not know who Shane Warne is (pictured above) well then, we simply can’t be friends. No. No, we can’t. That being said, did you hear about the Australian woman who found a snake in her UGG boot? Oh my Green Tara.

A couple of things…first of all. Finding a snake in my UGG boot is EXACTLY why I don’t live in Oz. Next, isn’t it hot in Australia? Would flip-flops not be a better option? Next, snakes in shoes/boots? Nope. I do not have the time or energy for that kind of mess. I can barely match my socks in the morning. Taking the time to look for snakes in my shoes is not on my morning to-do list. Ever.

A lady in Adelaide, South Australia found a snake in her UGG boot. Of course she had to call somone. She in fact, rang a wildlife wrangler to remove the 1m long venemous  snake from her UGG boot. Prior to that, the woman stepped outside her house to collect her shoes and noticed a tail disappear into a boot. Nope. I would have moved house. Along the way, I would have thrown that UGG boot out the window of a moving car. Yes. Yes, I would have.

An eastern brown snake snuggled inside an Australian woman's Ugg boot

The species is considered one of the world’s most venomous land snakes and is mostly found along the coasts and inland areas of mainland Australia. Normally, this is a shy breed. Whatever. Whoever said that obviously knows NOTHING about snakes.

It is believed that the venoumous snake sought refuge in the UGG boot as it is a cozy spot for a snake (or a foot). Am guessing you know that the UGG boot is something of an Australian icon-as is Shane Warne. Just sayin.’

Snakes and daddy long-legs are not exactly my cup of tea. Those animals are not my groove. That is all.

Cheers

 

 

 

 

Tim Hortons is coming to the UK (and we Brits have no idea WHO or WHAT that is)

Image result for image of tim hortons chain

Hello and hi. Have you heard the news? Tim Hortons is coming to the UK. Cue massive applause. The only problem is…is that we Brits have absolutely NO idea of even who or what Tim Hortons is. For those of you who are not familiar with Tim Hortons (everyone I know…excluding my Canadian cousins) Tim Hortons is a Canadian coffee chain, who has recently announced they are expanding/coming to the UK. I suspect Tim Hortons is very much like Dunkin Donuts back home. I don’t know for sure. I don’t eat trash. Who am I kidding? Given half the chance I would eat at Dunkin Donuts every.single.day. Love that place. Oh gosh. We don’t have it here in the UK but we do have the exorbitantly priced Krispy Kreme donut chain. Yes. Yes, we do.

Tim Hortons Inc. (A brief history)

Tim Hortons Inc is known internationally as ‘Tim Hortons Cafe and Bake Shop.’ It is a Canadian-based multinational fast food restaurant and is known for its coffee and doughnuts. In addition, it is also Canada’s largest quick service restaurant chain.

Founded in 1964 in Hamilton, Ontario (shout out to my peeps in Ontario!) by hockey player Tim Horton and Jim Charade (after an initial venture in hamburger joints/restaurants). In 2014, Burger King agreed to buy Tim Hortons for 11.4billion USD-the chain became a subsidiary of the the Oakville-based holding company Restaurant Brands International-which is a majority-owned by Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital. Blah blah blah. It is Canadian-that is all you need to know. Yes, yes it is.

I am guessing Tim Horton is a pretty big deal back in Canada. I mean, he is on a stamp.

Image result for image of tim horton hockey player

 

So, Tim Hortons is pretty much an institution in Canada. Here in the UK, not so much. The BBC recently went out on the streets of London Town to ask regular lads and lasses if they were familiar with Tim Hortons. They were not. At all. Nor with the items on the menu. The reporter asked a school aged boy if he knew what a ‘Timbet’ was. The kid said: “isn’t that a dating site?” The reporter said that he was probably thinking about ‘Tinder’…but that a ‘Timbet’ was essentially a donut hole. K. The fact that a school aged boy knew what Tinder was, pretty much made me cringe-but I suppose that is the world we live in today.

I look forward to checking out Tim Hortons. And by ‘checking out’ I mean, indulging in massive amounts of coffee and doughnuts. Yup.

Cheers

Waxing lyrical about wasps

Image result for image of wasp

Hello and hi. First there was a lynx on the loose. Then there were multiple sightings of a puma. What next? An elephant? Where am I living? The ZSL (Zoological Society of London)? Now, we have wasps…and plenty of them, here on this not so small island.

There are way too many wasps around for my liking. And other people are noticing them too. According to The Wasp Removal UK (great job, there’s a  palpable buzzing energy in the office): “Wasps will build nests in wall cavities, loft spaces and just about any other suitable void they find,” Erm…yes, we all know this. I don’t need someone from The Wasp Removal UK to tell me this. Just sayin.’

So, as we ALL know, wasps can enter a house/flat quite easily through an open door or window. Of course, the more advantageous wasps will find an entrance through a vent-like the sort of vent you find in your bathroom. *leaves writing post, to check bathroom vents.* Anyway,  we tend to notice these dastardly creatures as they fly about and make themselves a nuisance.

Fruity shower gels

Image result for image of fruity shower gel

Paul Hetherington of the charity Buglife told the BBC that there are actually fewer wasps than in previous years. Obvi Paul does not live near me. For real. Paul went on to say: “It was a very bad winter for both wasps and bees, because it didn’t get cold enough for them to hibernate. That means they weren’t able to conserve their energy and died off.” Paul, who is clearly stating the obvious here, later added, “It’s just this year, we’re noticing them a lot later in the year. It’s usually in the middle of summer when there are a lot of sweet things like blackberries about…but wasps which can’t get to blackberries tend to venture into houses where there are sweet things.”

Paul went on to confirm that most of the wasps we see in the bathroom are more likely to be worker wasps. Great. I wish they would work somewhere else. Apparently, their job is to feed nectar to the queen wasps. And when they do, they get rewarded by the wasp equivalent of honey. I have no idea of what that is-if you do, by all means, let me know. Please and thanks. Later on, when the queen has had enough sustenance to last the winter-she will then go on to hiberante, leaving the workers both out of a job and terribly addicted to sweet things. Yikes.

It is at this point that those downtrodden, addicted worker wasps will venture into bathrooms-as they are lured by the scent of sweet smelling shampoos and soaps. So, while it is nice to smell awfully sweet and smelling of mango fruit shower gel, just know that you are sending this utterlly delicious aroma to wasps. *leaves writing post to throw out kiwi-mango-strawberry shower gel.*

 

Further, wasps are attraced to bright lights (like the one you have in your bathroom). So, while you are washing away, the wasps are probably buzzing around the light in your bathroom. Yes. Yes, they are. And if things couldn’t get ANY worse, you have to be careful of ‘drunk’ wasps. Please read that sentence again. According to Paul Bates, from the pest control firm, Cleankill Environmental Services, wasps become drunk on fermenting fruit and pretty tipsy-this makes them extra-bold. An extra-bold wasp? Oh my heavens. I do not have time for that. No. No, I do not.

What should I do? (read: How do I KILL this wasp)

According to Paul, if you try to swat a solitary wasp it will call for back up. Say what now? Yes, the wasp will release a pherenome which will attract nearby wasps. You could end up being attacked by a swarm-according to Paul. Paul indicated that you should not try to swipe at them and that you should WALK AWAY. What the what? Sorry Paul, you seem nice but you are dead wrong on this mate. In closing, it is best to close the door, turn the lights out and leave the window open. The wasps should leave…unless there is a nest in your vent. And if there is a nest-it is best to call a pest control specialist. I would not bother calling either Paul mentioned, but that is just me. Oh and if you find a nest (and I hope you don’t) you can throw it away-as the wasps wont reuse the nest the following year. So, if you find a dead nest-throw the damn hell thing away. And know, it is safe to do so. That is all.

Cheers

 

 

 

 

P is for: PUMA

Hello and hi. You may have read my post a while back about a Lynx which had escaped from a zoo here in jolly ol’England. People were scared. People closed their windows, doors and sealed their cat flaps. People did not go to work and children did not go to school. All because there was a lynx on the loose. In America, we have skunks, racoons and deer roaming around but we don’t let that stop us. I know, there is a HUGE difference between a skunk and a lynx. I am aware of that. Please know this.

The lynx was subsequently captured and everyone went back to normal. Until…until there were reports that a puma was spotted on this not so small island. A puma. Yes-and I am not talking about trainers/sneakers. I am talking about an awfully big cat.

A lorry driver allegedly saw the puma run out onto a private road near an Imerys clay pit between Nanpean and Whitemoor. Erm..ok. First of all, would you even recognise a puma if you saw one? I mean, it could have been a rather large dog or a mighty big fox. But a puma? I don’t think you saw a puma at all, mate.  Anyway, the police were contacted who searched the area and found nothing-except for a mysterious white paw print where the alleged puma had crossed the road. Which leads me to the next question. Why did the puma cross the road? Answer: to avoid being run over by the lorry driver. Cheah! She’s got jokes.😉

The lorry driver originally described to the police that he had seen a LION. Oh my word. This guy is not reliable. Next, he will probably say that he saw a platypus cross the road. Honestly. This guy needs to focus on his driving and not wild animals. Later, the lorry driver had said that it had black markings on its face, a thorny colour and a dark tail. Sounds unlikely that he was able to get such a good description.

A good while later, a different trucker (am not sure how a trucker is different from a lorry driver-perhaps they are the same thing) said he found a decapitated deer in a quarry near to where the puma was seen. But animal experts have reported that big cats are on the rise in the St Austell area. Danny Bamping of the British Bit Cat Society said that his organisation believed that the animal was indeed a puma. He later added:“Indeed we have had sightings for the past few years in that area. We’ve had reports from members of the public and people who work for Imerys. I think it’s because it is very rural, there are not many people there, and there’s a huge geographical area.” Well, maybe there is a puma in the area after all. Seeing is believeing. Bamping later added that it could have been a puma or mountain lion-but that it was not classified scientifically as a ‘bit cat’ as it can’t roar.  Good to know.

So, it can’t roar? If it comes near you-you should bite your tongue and hold your breath. Cue Katy Perry.  Be safe people. That is all.

Cheers

Meet Calum Scott

Image result for image of calum scott

Hello and hi. Know much about Calum Scott? Well, you are about to. You are welcome, mate. Calum Scott arrived on the world’s stage when he appeared as a contestant on the TV program Britian’s Got Talent in 2015. He subsequently released his version of “Dancing On My Own” ( previously sung by Robyn). As a single, it has reached number 2 on the UK Singles Chart. Cue massive applause. Scott became the FIRST solo singer from Hull to have a top 40 single since Ronnie Hilton in the 1960’s. Scott’s version is so achingly beautiful it makes my teeth hurt. It is incredibly beautiful and sad in equal measure. I am quite sure that nearly everyone at some point in their lives can relate to this song. For real.

Calum Scott was born in Hull, England in 1988. Baby! But apart from that, he is just a regular guy who loves his sister to bits and adores his mum. Am sure he loves his mum too. And any guy that adores his mum is right up my street. Like I said, he is a regular guy. He actually seems like a really nice persion-not one of these namby-pamby rock stars with a massive ego. He is no Kanya West. Nope. Not at all. Anyway, have a listen to to Calum’s song. Oh and I would like to point out how utterly fab ‘Calum’ is for a name. If anyone knows the origin or meaning of this name-by all means, let me know. Thanks. Here is the link for the video. If you are interested you should listen to the original by Robyn-but truth be told, Calum’s version is way better. Yes. Yes, it is.

Cheers