Quite Interesting

I follow @qikipedia on twitter, they are the people behind the TV show QI and daily they share strange and unusual facts they find. I love reading them, some are fascinating, others funny, but all educational to an extent. I thought I’d share a few of my favourite ones I’ve seen recently…

  • If you’re unmarried by age 25 in Denmark, you get cinnamon thrown on you for your birthday. (lets hope you don’t get it in your eyes) 
  • The letters Q, X and W were banned from the Turkish alphabet until 2013. (I’ve yet to discover the reason)
  • Men’s beards contain more pathogenic bacteria than dogs fur does. (one to think about !)
  • After Montenegro became independent of Yugoslavia, it’s internet domain name changed from .yu to .me (clever and cute)
  • The film ‘cloudy with a chance of meatballs’ was released in Israel as ‘It’s raining falafel’ whilst in Poland it was named ‘Meatballs and other weather phenomena’. (mmm Falafel )
  • The M’s in M&M’s stands for Mars and Murrie, the surnames of the two men who developed them.
  • The 1875 Chamber street fire released a torrent of whisky into the streets of Dublin. No-one died in the fire, but 13 people did die from alcohol poisoning.

As the name suggests it’s quite interesting.

 

 

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Holidays !

We have just had a lovely two week break on the island of Fuerteventura. It was wonderful to spend a couple of weeks without alarm clocks, school, work and to do as we pleased.

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The weather was warm, around 23 degrees most days, down to 14 in the evenings. The locals walked round in jumpers and coats, whilst we wore swimwear, t-shirts and shorts.

The hotel was in a quieter resort and was a sport hotel, which was fantastic for Oscar as the pool was cold so he still had plenty to keep him entertained. We had tennis, badminton, squash and basketball courts, a football pitch, and table tennis. So plenty to keep him busy and active, whilst I could lie on my lounger reading plenty of books. Perfect.

A five minute walk down a small hill took us onto a prom and a twenty minute walk to the local town (the hotel provided a free shuttle bus), we loved this walk as it was very open stony land, full of chipmunks and tiny lizards. We started taking an apple from breakfast and feeding it to them.

We booked a couple of trips to break up the holiday and see more of our island and took a day trip over to the neighbouring island, Lanzarote. This island was very different, even though it was only a half hour boat trip away. The boat was glass-bottomed and Oscar loved watching the fish swimming around it, until we started sailing when the waves started making him feel a little sea sick so we moved to the upper deck and he was fine. Lanzarote is also a volcanic land, but this one is still active and we had a tour of it and the national park created after the last eruption. It was amazing to feel how hot the floor was, and they have created a cafe and use the heat from it to cook the food, like a giant barbecue. The beaches here where very different, black sand from the volcanic rock and popcorn stones from coral.

We also had a jeep tour of Fuerteventura, it was very bumpy and lots of fun. The guide was hilarious and very knowledgeable.

In the evenings after dinner, Oscar played football until sunset, then he joined me on the bar and we played cards and pool.

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It was lovely to get away, catch up on some reading and sleep, have lots of quality time.

 

Why ?

Why do I blog ?

It started a few years ago during a quiet spell in work, we were talking about our ages and things we wish we’d done by ‘now’ and it led to the 50 things list.

One of the things on the list was to start a blog, the original idea was that I would write about the challenges and the fun we had along the way, what I never expected was that life would throw some very difficult challenges my way, and that blogging would be one of the hardest things to do.

When I first started out it was easy, lots to write about, lots of ideas, but then life closed in and writing about it was really tough, so I found myself not doing it. However now, I’m in a better place, emotionally, and am enjoying setting myself time and routine to write about ‘me’ again.

Unfortunately the list was put on hold the last year or so, whilst I was looking for regular employment and concentrating on a stable family, and emotional life. Time is passing quite quickly so with only a few years left before the big 50 hits it’s time to get back to it.

I’ve been looking through the remaining ‘to do’ and have started making plans for some eventful experiences this year, although looking at the list I’m pretty certain some of these will never be done, so do I change the list, or leave them blank and unfinished ? and if I change them, what would I change them to ? Some of the challenges are very singular and I’d like, if possible, to make them a little more family based.

What do you think ? To change or stick ? Do I write a new list based on current circumstances, or wait until after the big birthday and start a new list ? Too many decisions… please help !

 

Allotment update August – part 1

Everything is growing ! We have been harvesting and watering for weeks, it’s fantastic.

I’ve grown lots of new veggies and had good fun learning along the way.

The ponds have really settled now and both ponds have fish, and they all seem very happy. The planting around the ponds is continuing, its looking pretty and colourful. Next year when the plants fill out and the bulbs come through it should be lovely.

The tomatoes and chilli plants in the greenhouse have gone crazy, even growing out of the windows and roof ! We have beef and cherry tomatoes at the allotment and plum tomatoes at home. We have hundreds of red and brown onions, although the shallots didn’t do well and we lost 3 patches of garlic to a greedy fox but I don’t think we’ll go hungry any time soon.

The courgettes are ridiculous, I’ve never had so many. I’ve stopped picking them and now have huge ‘marrows’ instead, but finally they’ve stopped producing new smaller ones. The pumpkins are getting bigger and I noticed a tiny butternut squash on one of the plants.

The plans are beginning for next year as I want to get a lot more fruit bushes planted and fill some of the empty beds with permanent crops, also I’m looking at getting some asparagus, artichoke and many more brassica plants in next year. The Brussels sprouts and broccoli I was given by my neighbour have done really well and I’m looking forward to planting many different ones next year. The joy of having so much space is the freedom to ‘play’ and try new things.

 

June on the allotment

The weather has been crazy, it’s hot, hot, hot and apart from about an hour of pathetic drizzly rain that soaks humans but dries before it hits soil around three weeks ago, we’ve had no rain for a couple of months and the dreaded hosepipe ban is being mentioned.

The allotment has stalled a little as it’s too hot to be digging, so the areas that I’ve not yet cleared have been covered and left until the weather cools down. The ponds have been very welcome. I used a cheap trellis, held down with a couple of tent pegs and bricks to make a ‘wildlife escape route’ and the little birds, coal tits and sparrows mostly, are using it as a ladder to drink, its lovely to see them enjoy it. I had great plans of planting around the ponds and creating a flower, shrub area but that’s on hold until the weather eases up.

The plants are loving the heat and everything has been growing well, including the weeds. We had a slight issue with pigeons pinching all the pak choi so I’ve sown some new seeds and will make sure to keep it covered.

I was given three broccoli plants and two Brussels sprouts, neither of which I have ever grown before and this week we’ve harvested from 2 of the broccoli plants and the other isn’t too far behind. The netting has kept most of the butterflies away although now the sprouts are getting bigger it will need to be moved soon. Another job for another day.

The second peas (after the pigeon raid) never grew very high but we’ve had plenty of pods already and still plenty to fatten up. It’s been the similar with the broad beans. The french beans are slowly making their way up the frame.

The courgettes are producing really well, we’ve had 3 and I’ve given a few away to neighbouring plot-holders. I have planted two pumpkins and two butternut squash, I’ve never grown these before, and all have gained new growth and the pumpkins are flowering.

The greenhouse is a nightmarish place to be as it’s ridiculously hot in there. I have opened the roof, both side windows and the door vent but it gets super hot inside, however the tomatoes and peppers are loving it and have grown really well and are fruiting nicely.

Thankfully before the very hot weather really started we managed to sort out around half of the plot and those are the beds which are being used and grown in. I’m looking forward to get the rest sorted and growing some new things next year. I would like to get some more fruit growing, raspberries, strawberries, and gooseberries.

 

Whilst I was busy weeding and watering my mum was working hard making repairs and beautifying the shed and the ‘bath’ pond.

Have you grown anything new this year ? Any suggestions, tips or ideas welcomed.

Enjoy the sunshine.

 

Bletchley Park

Whilst away at half term we also visited Bletchley Park, home of the code-breakers of world war 2. A fascinating place and somewhere I’ve always wanted to see, Oscar wasn’t keen until we got there and then was intrigued with lots of code cracking and solving puzzles.

It was quite a small house and grounds with ‘huts’ that up to 10,000 people lived and worked in during the war. It was a top-secret facility and even the locals didn’t know exactly what it was being used for but would have noticed the amount of people coming and going especially at shift change time.

When people where recruited they had to sign the official secrets act and were warned that divulging information even to family would lead to prison, they have had stories of children discovering parents not only worked there but could speak and translate many different languages.

Most of the first recruits came from Oxford and Cambridge universities but by the beginning of the war 75% were women recruited from the Women’s Services (WRNS, ATS, WAAF)

It was amazing to see the Enigma machine and to play with a replica to understand how it worked and just how complicated it really was. The most famous code breakers were Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman, Bill Tutte, who built the Bombe the machine that eventually broke the Enigma code.

The film Imitation game was the story of Alan Turing and the making of the Bombe and Bletchley Park.

Harry Potter revisited

We had a few days away at half term and took the opportunity to revisit the Harry Potter Studio tour since they’ve added lots of new areas since our last visit and it didn’t disappoint.

We spent around 6 hours wandering, reading and exploring the studios where the Harry Potter films were made over 10 years. It’s a fascinating place, especially seeing the attention to detail that has gone into making all the props, costumes, tapestries, paintings, even the books are fully printed inside just in case they were caught on camera during a scene.

The forbidden forest and creatures are all new since our last visit and it was good fun walking through the mists unsure of what or who we may encounter.

We even got to see the Hogwarts express this time, that wasn’t there on our last visit. They even had costumes and props from the fantastic beasts film (which was partly filmed in Liverpool)

Since our visit Oscar has started listening to the audio books thanks to the library.