Friday, 24 July 2009


After a very difficult week I would like to end it with a little light relief. Below is a list of facts which I am reliably informed are all true. I always believed everything he told me..........

3/4 of the world doesn't drink milk

The surface area of a human lung is equalivlient to a tennis court

Wetwang is a great name for a real town

In the weightlessness of space a frozen pea will explode if it comes in contact with Pepsi.

The increased electricity used by modern appliance parts is causing a shift in the Earth's magnetic field. By the year 2327, the North Pole will be located in mid-Kansas, while the South Pole will be just off the coast of East Africa.

The idea for "tribbles" in "Star Trek" came from gerbils, since some gerbils are actually born pregnant.

Male rhesus monkeys often hang from tree branches by their amazing prehensile penises.
Johnny Plessey batted .331 for the Cleveland Spiders in 1891, even though he spent the entire season batting with a rolled-up, lacquered copy of the Toledo Post-Dispatch.

Smearing a small amount of dog feces on an insect bite will relieve the itching and swelling.

The Boeing 747 is capable of flying upside-down if it weren't for the fact that the wings would shear off when trying to roll it over.

The trucking company Elvis Presley worked at as a young man was owned by Frank Sinatra.

The only golf course on the island of Tonga has 15 holes, and there's no penalty if a monkey steals your golf ball.

Legislation passed during WWI making it illegal to say "gesundheit" to a sneezer was never repealed.

Manatees possess vocal chords which give them the ability to speak like humans, but don't do so because they have no ears with which to hear the sound.

SCUBA divers cannot pass gas at depths of 33 feet or below.

Catfish are the only animals that naturally have an ODD number of whiskers.

Replying more than 100 times to the same piece of spam e-mail will overwhelm the sender's system and interfere with their ability to send any more spam.

Polar bears can eat as many as 86 penguins in a single sitting.

The first McDonald's restaurant opened for business in 1952 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and featured the McHaggis sandwich.

The Air Force's F-117 fighter uses aerodynamics discovered during research into how bumblebees fly.

You *can* get blood from a stone, but only if contains at least 17 percent bauxite.

Silly Putty was "discovered" as the residue left behind after the first latex condoms were produced. It's not widely publicized for obvious reasons.

Approximately one-sixth of your life is spent on Wednesdays.

The skin needed for elbow transplants must be taken from the scrotum of a cadaver.

The sport of jai alai originated from a game played by Incan priests who held cats by their tails and swung at leather balls. The cats would instinctively grab at the ball with their claws, thus enabling players to catch them.

A cat's purr has the same romance-enhancing frequency as the voice of singer Barry White.

The typewriter was invented by Hungarian immigrant Qwert Yuiop, who left his "signature" on the keyboard.

The volume of water that the Giant Sequoia tree consumes in a 24-hour period contains enough suspended minerals to pave 17.3 feet of a 4-lane concrete freeway.
King Henry VIII slept with a gigantic axe.

Because printed materials are being replaced by CD-ROM, microfiche and the Internet, libraries that previously sank into their foundations under the weight of their books are now in danger of collapsing in extremely high winds.

In 1843, a Parisian street mime got stuck in his imaginary box and consequently died of starvation.

Touch-tone telephone keypads were originally planned to have buttons for Police and Fire Departments, but they were replaced with * and # when the project was cancelled in favor of developing the 911 system.

Human saliva has a boiling point three times that of regular water.

Calvin, of the "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip, was patterned after President Calvin Coolidge, who had a pet tiger as a boy.

Watching an hour-long soap opera burns more calories than watching a three-hour baseball game.

Until 1978, Camel cigarettes contained minute particles of real camels.

You can actually sharpen the blades on a pencil sharpener by wrapping your pencils in aluminum foil before inserting them.

To human taste buds, Zima is virtually indistinguishable from zebra urine.

Seven out of every ten hockey-playing Canadians will lose a tooth during a game. For Canadians who don't play hockey, that figure drops to five out of ten.

A dog's naked behind leaves absolutely no bacteria when pressed against carpet.

A team of University of Virginia researchers released a study promoting the practice of picking one's nose, claiming that the health benefits of keeping nasal passages free from infectious blockages far outweigh the negative social connotations.

Among items left behind at Osama bin Laden's headquarters in Afghanistan were 27 issues of Mad Magazine. Al Qaeda members have admitted that bin Laden is reportedly an avid reader.

Urine from male cape water buffaloes is so flammable that some tribes use it for lantern fuel.

At the first World Cup championship in Uruguay, 1930, the soccer balls were actually monkey skulls wrapped in paper and leather.

Every Labrador retriever dreams about bananas.

If you put a bee in a film canister for two hours, it will go blind and leave behind its weight in honey.

Due to the angle at which the optic nerve enters the brain, staring at a blue surface during sex greatly increases the intensity of orgasms.

Never hold your nose and cover your mouth when sneezing, as it can blow out your eyeballs.

Centuries ago, purchasing real estate often required having one or more limbs amputated in order to prevent the purchaser from running away to avoid repayment of the loan. Hence an expensive purchase was said to cost "an arm and a leg."

When Mahatma Gandhi died, an autopsy revealed five gold Krugerrands in his small intestine.
Aardvarks are allergic to radishes, but only during summer months.
Coca-Cola was the favored drink of Pharaoh Ramses. An inscriptiion found in his tomb, when translated, was found to be almost identical to the recipe used today.

If you part your hair on the right side, you were born to be carnivorous. If you part it on the left, your physical and psychological make-up is that of a vegetarian.

When immersed in liquid, a dead sparrow will make a sound like a crying baby.

In WWII the US military planned to airdrop over France propaganda in the form of Playboy
magazine, with coded messages hidden in the models' turn-ons and turn-offs. The plan was scrapped because of a staple shortage due to rationing of metal.

Although difficult, it's possible to start a fire by rapidly rubbing together two Cool Ranch Doritos.

Napoleon's favorite type of wood was knotty chestnut.

The world's smartest pig, owned by a mathematics teacher in Madison, WI, memorized the
multiplication tables up to 12.

Due to the natural "momentum" of the ocean, saltwater fish cannot swim backwards.

In ancient Greece, children of wealthy families were dipped in olive oil at birth to keep them hairless throughout their lives.

It is nearly three miles farther to fly from Amarillo, Texas to Louisville, Kentucky than it is to return from Louisville to Amarillo.

The "nine lives" attributed to cats is probably due to their having nine primary whiskers.

The original inspiration for Barbie dolls comes from dolls developed by German propagandists in the late 1930s to impress young girls with the ideal notions of Aryan features. The proportions for Barbie were actually based on those of Eva Braun.

The Venezuelan brown bat can detect and dodge individual raindrops in mid-flight, arriving safely back at his cave completely dry.

Monday, 20 July 2009

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

It was with sadness that death of Henry Allingham was announced to the press on Saturday. Henry died at the ripe old age of 113 and was described by staff at his care home as 'an amazing character'. Henry was born in 1896 and went on to become one of the founding members of the Royal Air Force and also one of the last surviving people to have fought in World War I.

Whilst I am sure; rightly or wrongly; that Henry was an outstanding member of the armed forces, a great hero, a man of spirit and determination and also great family man, I am also sure that most people will not care about his life and the great struggles he has obviously been through.

Mr Allingham once attributed his grand age to 'cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women'. And whilst I hope it was not all three of these vices that kept him going right till the end, I am sure the sentiment is true that 'everything in moderation is OK'. Especially the cigarettes.....

But in these days of the Internet, Twitter and Facebook, I wonder how many friends Henry had on his MySpace page or how up to date his Wikipedia page was. Did he even have an ipod or a blackberry?
Anyway, I hope that with the use of the internet people will be able to investigate his life a little more, understand what he had been through and see exactly what he had to say for himself.

In the foreword to Mr Allingham's autobiography, Kitchener's Last Volunteer, Prince Charles wrote in 2008: 'He has witnessed so much of our history - including the sinking of the Titanic, the Great War, the Depression, the Second World War and the building of the Welfare State - taking in six of my forebears, as well as 21 Prime Ministers. 'We should all be humbled by this quiet, genial man and his desire to extol peace and friendship to the world, despite all the horrors he witnessed at such a young and impressionable age.'

An article in the Daily Mail states that Henry managed to hold the crown of World's Oldest Man, Guinness World Records confirmed in min June this year that he had become the world's oldest man after the previous record holder, Tomoji Tanabe, died in Japan aged 113. The article then continues to inform the reader about Britain's oldest man. He is only 111 and called 'Patch'. Thanks Daily Mail.

I suppose Henry Allingham's death will probably not receive the focus that his life possibly deserved. With the current daily news of deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan and with the Swine Flu pandemic gripping us all, I suppose death is to much part of everyday life. Maybe it's becoming too common and people therefore don't feel it's significant enough anymore.

Without wishing to end this blog entry on an entirely morbid note, there are a couple of news headlines today that caught my attention:

Baby falls 20ft out of second-floor window... and survives without a scratch

Knife sales plummet as diners choose to eat with just a fork

Maybe it's the credit crunch.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Living la Vida Loca

I think that I am addicted to Come Dine with Me.

It's Friday evening and I'm listening to some music, trying to relax and enjoy the approaching weekend. But at the back of my mind I'm secretly looking forward to meeting 5 perfect strangers and enjoying 5 meals with them at each of their houses. Lovingly prepared, although the quality is never guaranteed. What is guaranteed though is that someone will do a prawn starter, someone will do a lamb main course, someone will do a tiramasu (paah!) and someone will act a total nitwit. Add to this the perfect dry and sarcastic humour of Dave Lamb (, then it's another perfect night in for me. Cancel the babysitter!

In reality, I don't think that I could volunteer for a week of eating and drinking with people that I didn't know and that potentially would irritate and annoy me. It's not that I am intolerant, it's just I'd rather not take the risk. Plus I'm shit at cooking. No, I am really awful, although I suppose it's all about the effort, and maybe the 'work me' would secretly like the challenge of giving four annoying strangers the best damn meal of their lives. I've not really thought this through, but I suspect that I would cook a meaty fish, as the veggies never win with their exotic mix of carrots, nuts and lentils.

Starter - Leek and Stilton tart and salad or creamy garlic mushrooms and fresh homemade bread
Main - Tuna steak marinated in something or other, with roasted vegetables, cous cous and a fantastic rich fruity jus (don't really know what this is)
Dessert - Lemon and cointreau tart, homemade ice cream with icing dust

Plus lots and lots of nice strong booze, so that they score me highly in the taxi on the way home.

One thing I don't like about the show is the fact that they aren't able to play music at the dinner party. For me this is a real big issues, as I think that it would seriously affect the mood of the evening. Whether you are inside or out, a little music helps to improve the whole evening. Favourite dinner party music? Leave this for another time.
What score do I think I would get from my fellow contestants? I haven't a clue, but I doubt I'd win. Probably because I'd constantly be popping up stairs to ask Chris advice on how to do cooking stuff. Yes that's right I'd keep Chris up stairs as my cook advice slave.

On the topic of music, I have just stopped listening to the album Jazz, which seems to have been in constant rotation in the Smax for the last 2 or 3 months. Due to my exceptionally short term memory, I always forget to remember to take more cds from the house into the car. I hate only having 1 cd in the car, but inevitably due to laziness, grow to love every song on the album. Favourite currently is 'No More Of That Jazz' (

Finally, I wish to ramble on a little about the sad death of Michael Jackson. Whilst not being an out and out fan, I did own an album and ofcourse grew up with his music. The death of anyone is very sad, but with MJ (as I'm calling him) it was ofcourse a shock because in the eyes of the world (and Paul McCartney) he was purely a Peter Pan child/man. My underlying memory of MJ is not the music, but the dangling of a baby over the balcony of a hotel ( from a few years ago, which made him look like a loony. Favourite song? Probably Say Say Say or Liberian Girl. Said with a straight(ish) face.

Anyway I looked today on YouTube to see what was the most watched post. I half expected it to be Thriller or another MJ video, but he's not even in the top 10. Number 1 is a video about a little boy being bit by his baby brother (107 million views). Number 2 is the lovely Leona Lewis with Bleeding Love (87 million views). Number 3 is mad, fat and dangerous to know - Susan Boyle (70 million views).

I hope Susan Boyle doesn't croak it.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Toffee Crunch I think

A typical view of the Douglas Harbour - Tower of Refuge (built by Sir Edmund William Hilary) on the left and the IoM Steam Packet vessel Manannan on the right

With less than 24 hours left of my holiday it is difficult not to be in a reflective mood on what must have been one of the most challenging weeks of my life. Although let's make it clear, I think that we had a great holiday in the Isle of Man, it was just quite a challenge getting to the end result.

We decided early this year it would be nice to spend a week or so in the Isle of Man. We hadn't been for a long time (sorry Mum and Dad), the last time we visited it was Christmas (very cold and wet) it's a great island with lots to do and see, and we were sure the kids would love it. So off we went to the Isle of Man. I believe that it is OK to tell this story now, but I have been reliably informed in future not to blog about going on holiday as people could read the blog and then decide to burgle the empty house. This id not concern me too much as I'm not really sure that more than 4 people know about the blog and atleast 3 don't even live in the UK. If we do get burgled in the future I'll know who has arranged it and I'll be onto Crimewatch Ba Bags!

I'm not that keen on travel normally. The 'work me' completes an inordinate amount of travelling per year on flights to far flung corners and also countless hours driving the roads and motorways of the UK. But then again the 'work me' has the luxury of travelling alone (most of the time) and an Ipod with headphones. When you add three young children, Christof, Ruby (the dog) and Martha (the cat) the whole travelling experience takes on another few dimensions.

We left home on Saturday morning at around 7.30am and arrived all in one piece at the cottage in Fleshwick at around 3pm. So far so good. After unpacking we went shopping for food and supplies. This was not a good idea and I am quite confident nearly got all the kids deported from the Island due to intolerable bad behaviour in Marks and Spencers. In review I think that the parents were probably to blame as our children seem to suffer from some form of starvation based behaviour disorder. I will look this up on t'internet later. Anyway, after sugar and carbs had been consumed by the kids things calmed down a little and the rest of the day as we enjoyed even a short trip to the beach before bedtime.

I hate bedtime along with the kids. We had seven on this holiday and they got progressively worse, up to the peak on Thursday evening. Although by the time Dave and Judy arrived we had talked them down from the 'roof'.
An Isle of Man Horse-Tram on Douglas Promenade. We never managed a ride on one of these, although Granma and Granpa did sponsor the the kids a Horse/Donkey each
The Isle of Man; as it's name suggests; may be surrounded completely with water, but there are not too many good sandy beaches. Port Erin and Peel were the best we found, but that is not to say that there are not a lot of good beaches. There are lots of very good beaches.
Due to the exceptional weather over the week we spent everyday on the beach. Playing in the sand and paddling/swimming in the sea. This being my 36th year on this earth I was surprised that the last time I remember I really spent any reasonable period on an Isle of Man beach was 1982. It's not an enjoyable story.

After spending all day on Douglas beach (without anything in the way of modern suncream) I arrived home back to my Nana's house with a very red back. The back got progressively worse over the period of the evening and I have a vivid memory of not being able to go to Cubs because of my burnt back and having to put the hair dryer on 'cool' and my Nana aiming at my back for the evening.
Anyway, the beaches we spent time at were good, clean and quite busy given the time of the year. Even Douglas beach was OK given the circumstances. Although I will write to the Isle of Man Tourist Board and suggest they remove the seaweed from Douglas beach. This is not a middle age rant, purely an observation that would make the beach easier and nicer to access and enjoy.

Only thing that may have caused an issue was the on going question of whether Jellyfish actually sting. Fortunately we never found out the answer personally, but from the sobbing in Port Erin I think that the live one's sting, yet the dead ones don't.
A dead jellyfish on Peel beach doing nothing but minding his own dead business.

I Scream
During the entire holiday we must have single handily sponsored the Manx ice cream industry, with a little help from Dave Burnett and Granma and Granpa.

Without a doubt the best ice cream to be found anywhere in the British Isles has to be Davison's they have an extensive number of flavours, which only confuse and compromise your ice cream purchasing experience, but which ultimately never disappoint. Throughout the week various flavours were tried and tested, then re-tried and re-tested with different cones and toppings, and some were even triple re-tried TWICE just to be sure. The result at the end of the week was as follows:

Anya - Bubblegum, chocolate waffle cone, with a chocolate flake
Bucks - Malteser or Cookies and Cream, chocolate waffle cone, with a chocolate flake
Juan - Any flavour with a cone (not for long)
Christof - Not sure really, maybe mango or chocolate orange with a normal cone
Me - Toffee crunch (aka - Hokey Pokey) with a normal cone

Whatever the result I have finally managed to put to rest the ghost of Manx Ices. Manx Ices got me to where I am today and helped Silverdale to the height of popularity back in the Day. If only someone would spend a bit of money and put some investment back in Silverdale s i am sure it would be a happier and busier place for it. Come on Davison's. maybe I need to email them and the IoM tourist board.

Eating and drinking
Don't eat out in the Isle of Man.
It's not that the food isn't good. some of it is fine and a little pricey, but mainly because the kids would gain more satisfaction from eating cardboard with ketchup on it.
I know there is not intentional malice, but every meal we ate out was a little tarnished.
Favourite places are: - great food and views
Greens (Vegetarian Restaurant)North Quay , Steam Railway Station, Douglas, Isle Of Man IM1 4LL01624-629129
with a special mention to the island's first Queenie festival, which I thought was well organised, quite diverse and well attended attended by locals and the odd tourist. Try your sea food.
I think everyone enjoyed the holiday in the Isle of Man. I know the kids enjoyed seeing their grandparents and I'm sure this is reciprocated. The weather was great and it was great to see Dave and Judy. Whilst we didn't really do too much I think that we did more than enough, and everyone went to bed tired.
The cottage was exactly as I remember and it was great fun to be back there again.
While I am sorry to let the side down on not eating 1 single toasty during the trip I blame this completely on the kids. Although on the plus side there's plenty to look forward to next time. ............................