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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The ‘What If’ monster

This visitor decided to join our family recently and was a very unwelcome guest, who bought chaos and unhappiness.

It started about two months ago, when Oscar brought a letter home from school about options night, GCSE options ! Seriously, it feels too soon, where’s my baby gone. The letter explained that we would have a talk from the head of year about how the system worked and then would have the opportunity to chat to subject leaders to make an informed decision.

Oscar said he had already decided, with the compulsory subjects he was doing I.T,  geography and either art/music (or both). I was happy to support these choices. And then the monster appeared.

The closer we go to the school meeting the more we heard ‘What if’ ….

‘What if they don’t let me do the subjects I want ?’

‘What if they make me do subjects I don’t like or need for the job I want in future?’

At first I didn’t ignore the questions as such, but didn’t take the questions are seriously as I would a few weeks later. ‘They will’ ‘don’t worry about it’ etc, I didn’t realise how much he was worrying about and after a few weeks it was becoming unbearable because everything came with a ‘what if’ to the point that Oscar had started doubting and questioning every part of his life and even if it was worth living at all. He was refusing to do anything, go anywhere, other than school and home. He was struggling with everything, even sleeping and eating.

Once I realised how bad it was getting I needed proper help and spoke to a work friend, who is a trained counsellor, I explained what was happening, his behaviour and how he was coping. I had no choice but to acknowledge the fears and how great these where. So when he questioned ‘but what if’ I had to sit him down and show him I was taking it seriously and answer as fully as possible and discuss options for dealing with these fears. It wasn’t easy but over a few days he responded. It gave him security that the fears are serious and the options gave him choices, this put power back with him and slowly started building his confidence.

However the day of the meeting, and his fears hit a new high and panic set in, he got himself in such a state before we left that he had a panic attack. Thankfully I was able to talk him down and calm him, but he looked dreadful when we got to school. He couldn’t even make eye contact with friends and struggled to speak to his form teacher (who I emailed an explanation to later).

We listened to the talk, and looked through the information booklet and slowly he became more ‘Oscar’ again. He wanted to look at his chosen subjects to check they were correct for him. First was geography, one of his favourite teachers, but the subject matter for the exams didn’t appeal. However overhearing the history teacher chatting to another child/parent, he was suddenly interested. The first change of the night. Next we went to look at art (I didn’t want him to do this, but kept that to myself) again he said he wasn’t sure. Off we went, IT next, a no-brainer, always was going to be first choice and still was. But then P.E took his attention, and he started asking the teacher lots of questions, he was really interested. I’m not sure where it came from but he decided there and then, history, PE and IT, with music as an extra.

So after weeks of ‘what if they don’t let me do the subject I want to do ?’ he changed all but one of his subjects. I have used this to show him how fears can build and stop us doing things, or alter our opinions before we have all facts and information to make the right choices. Also life is flexible, and so are decisions, they can change often and that is a good thing. A choice made today could change tomorrow because circumstances change.

He is still doubting himself occasionally, but now he understands everybody does this, it is a normal thing, but not to focus on something going wrong beforehand, but deal with it afterwards, if it does and it probably won’t.

We won’t find out until later in the year if he will be given his chosen subjects, but there’s no reason he won’t and we will deal with whatever happens.

Life is very complicated and sometimes the pressure on kids is tough, but the pressure they put on themselves can be worse. Kids fears need to be taken seriously and as parents we need them to feel secure enough to tell us and be strong enough to help them deal with these, or find others who can help.

The biggest thing I have learned from this, TALK !

July update part 1

It’s been hot, very hot so finding somewhere indoors to explore was a much more sensible plan.

So after buying a load of tickets for people at Christmas and forgetting myself, I finally bought a ticket and went to see the Terracotta Warriors. I’ve been looking forward to it since they announced it a few years ago.

Thankfully the schools hadn’t finished so the museum wasn’t too busy or noisy. The tickets have a timed entrance and started with short film about how they discovered the Warriors and the purpose of them.

Then you can wander at leisure and see lots of artefacts as well as several Warriors themselves. Every one is unique and they represent many different occupations but also many different animals, horses, birds and cats.

It was fascinating to see and they are at the World museum in Liverpool until the end of October. It has made me more determined than ever to get to China one day to see them again.

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.

Reading Challenge 2018

I didn’t quite manage to finish the 2017 reading challenge, I was let down by ‘Epic Romance’ and ‘published this year’ – all the other categories I completed and found a couple unread authors I will be reading more of.  Here’s the link Reading challenge 2017 – update

Now for the new challenge.

  1. A book with more than 500 pages.
  2. A book with a number in the title.
  3. A book by a female author.
  4. A popular authors first book.
  5. A book with non-human characters.
  6. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit.
  7. A book from your childhood.
  8. A book with a colour in the title.
  9. A graphic novel.
  10. A book by an authors you’ve never read before.
  11. A book you own but have never read.
  12. A book the was originally written in another language.
  13. A book from an author you love that you haven’t read.
  14. A book with bad reviews.

I have a couple of ideas from a few categories but any suggestions are always welcome.

Happy reading.

Chirk Castle

Another weekend and another new place to visit, the weather had been rainy most of the week but the forecast for the Saturday was looking ok. Originally we were going to Llandudno for the day but a late start meant a change of plan. I had promised a trip to Wales so that’s where we headed, I had a quick look at the National trust book and Google maps, and decided to give Chirk castle a try as it was only an hour away. We may have arrived a little sooner if I hadn’t followed the sat-nav, which took us along lots of very narrow, twisty country lanes.

Oscar didn’t want to do any of the guided tours so we had a little wander around the gardens, which were very muddy, and then walked up to the castle for a self guided tour. Every National Trust place we’ve visited has had something for the children to look for, teddies dotted around the building to be counted, but this one was different. They had cards for each room with 3 or 4 questions on, things to find and count, what do you think an item was used for etc. It was really good as it kept us both entertained working them out and who could spot things first. Some of the answers were surprising too.

As usual the staff/volunteers were very friendly and knowledgeable, with lots of interesting little facts. The place was fairly busy so we made our way back outside and I took advantage of a babysitting device to get a few minutes quiet time …..

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After the main house we went into the dungeons, the stairs were terrifying, a spiral staircase with very worn, different sized steps, which led into a dimly lit circular room. It had a very creepy feel and we didn’t stay long. The climb back out was almost as bad as the one down.

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Then into the keep, time to become a knight in shining armour, well for a few minutes. It was very heavy and uncomfortable to wear.

After being indoors for a while it was time to explore outside, however a few things happened. First we had a shoe disaster, when the front of one of his trainers popped open and his toe was sticking out (thankfully they were old ones) then the rain started, just a drizzle. So we decided to head back and get a warm drink. We spotted some cattle in a field, not sure what type but they had big horns. We went to have a closer look but saw a dead sheep so left quickly to go and report it.

We did get a hot chocolate though and the ever faithful Victoria sponge for Oscar, his favourite.

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We decide to call it a day, new shoes were needed and some clean dry socks too. On the walk back to the car we found this…

So we did as asked, photograph, posted it and re-hid the rock (but not too hidden) A lovely little find. If you are round and about anywhere in the Shropshire area keep a look out for these apparently they’re hidden in plain sight everywhere.

A quick stop on the way home for new shoes, socks and some fish and chips. A great day