Remembrance Day: The animals that went to war

Approximately 65 million people from around the world fought in the First World War. But did you know that more than 16 million animals had also served by the time the war came to an end on the 11 November 1918?

“For your tomorrow,
We gave our today.”

Kohima epitaph
By John Maxwell Edmonds

Continue reading “Remembrance Day: The animals that went to war”

Happy New Year… or is it?

On 31 December 2019, millions of people welcomed in the brand new decade with fireworks. However, do you really know the cost of these bright, celebratory displays to our environment?

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29/31 Enter the cave of wonders…

29. Where have you travelled?

That’s a bit of an open-ended question… is that travelled today, this year or travelled in my lifetime? We’d be here for a while if I opted for the latter that’s for sure…

So instead I’ll write about the last press trip I went on before I left NG Kids last year. I was sent to Slovenia in October to check out Postojna Cave and the mysterious olm that live there.


Postojna Cave was discovered in 1818 by a local caver, called Luka ČeČ. This vast underground kingdom boasts extraordinary natural sculptures that sprout from more or less every surface. It’s so huge that you have to take a train to get into the main part of the cave! The stalactites and stalagmites here begun forming as far as two million years ago, by the water seeping through from the Pivka River. An easy way of remembering which formation was a stalactite and which was a stalagmite, was all thanks to one letter. Stalactites hang from the ceiling and stalagmites form on the ground. Clever right?!

Then there’s this little guy, which are thought to live up to 100 years old! Nicknamed the human fish, it was once thought that they were the offspring of dragons. These cave-dwelling salamander have adapted to life in the darkness in the most peculiar of ways. Although born with eyes, they soon stop developing. By the time they are four months old, skin begins to grow over them. They are still sensitive to light though, which is why it’s so tricky to get a decent picture of them. To combat the loss of vision, their hearing and sense of smell is highly developed. They’ve even got electroreceptors in their heads to help them hunt for food!

Talking about food… that’s one thing I did thoroughly enjoy – even though we were given way too much of it! Each day we were given a four course meal for both lunch and dinner, and each course came with a different wine. Needless to say, I was severely ill the second day of the trip because my body just wasn’t used to that much food – I felt I had to clear the plate each time otherwise I was given a disapproving look and asked if I didn’t like it. No pressure! However, here are some of my favourite dishes… I can’t remember exactly what was in each of them now but I just remember how amazing they tasted – especially the desserts!

On the trip, we also took part in extreme caving, visited Predjama Castle and even was given a tour of the caves underneath the castle, where there were loads of bats!



The Theory of Everything – My Review


So today, after waiting 10 days since premiering in the UK on the 1st January, I (along with a fully booked screening) found out about the legendary Stephen Hawking’s early years through the BAFTA nominated, critically acclaimed wonder that is The Theory of Everything.

I must say, if you haven’t heard of this film yet… where the heck have you been?!?! I saw the first official trailer back in August and it gave me goosebumps. Not only was I drawn to this film because of lead actor, Eddie Redmayne (who played Marius in Les Miserables – one of my all time favourite musicals), but I soon realised that I didn’t really know that much about Professor Hawking aside from him being one of the greatest minds on the planet… and of course his brief (but pure gold) cameo’s on The Big Bang Theory.

If I was asked to sum up this film in one word, it would actually be impossible to do so. It is quite simply phenomenal and one of the greatest films I’ve seen in a very long time (and I’m quite lucky in that I get to attend press screenings on a fairly regular basis). Based on his loving ex-wife’s memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, this film allows its audience to get a genuine, no holds barred insight into the struggles this inspirational couple have gone through. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but these two are the definition of true fighters!

It was recently revealed that The Theory of Everything has been nominated for TEN BAFTAs, and rightly so! Both Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones’ performance in portraying this incredible story is absolutely outstanding, and in my mind, if they don’t bag the BAFTAs they so clearly deserve then the judges obviously haven’t seen the film for themselves!

I was advised by a friend, who’d seen it a few days ago, to be armed with tissues. But, surprisingly even to myself, I have to admit I only found myself glassy eyed and choked up a handful of times. I believe that a tear did not actually fall because with the majority of the sad parts, some light and unexpected humour were short to follow. He proved that even in the darkest of times, he could find something for people to smile about.

When I’d seen the trailer all those months ago, I knew it would be the biggest film of 2015. But having seen (and thoroughly enjoyed) Into the Woods back in December, I thought I may have been too presumptuous. Until today. This film will go down in history as one of the greatest, true life stories ever to be made and I’m so pleased to have seen it.

Be sure to catch it in cinemas as soon as possible… you can’t miss out on watching such an epic on the big screen!


#220: What bores you?

I can’t think of any one thing that I find the most boring, so I’ll do a mini list of the top rankers in no particular order…

1. Laziness – I hate when someone asks you to do something that they are clearly capable of doing themselves, for example, writing an address label. It gets boring after a while…

2. Data entry – even though it’s easy and it allows you to zone out, when you’re faced with hundreds of completed surveys, it makes you want to jump out of a window!

3. Politics.

4. History documentaries… unless it’s the history of Egyptians (of course!).

5. Long queues/waiting around – who doesn’t find this boring?!

Screen shot 2014-08-08 at 14.01.49


History of language

106: Write a piece of fiction describing the incident that gave rise to the phrase, “third time’s the charm”.

I’ve never used this term before, but I’ll take it to mean the same as ‘third time lucky’. 

The origins of “third time’s the charm”, comes from the old folklore tale of the swashbuckling pirate, Cap’n Diego Mowhawk, and his trusty parrot, Pepe. It is said that over many winters, Cap’n Diego attempted to overthrow arch enemy, Cannon-Balls Sid, and reclaim his mountain of stolen treasure. However, after seven long years of trying, he had still not been able to get his hands on Sid’s gold. So he tried a different approach – Cap’n Diego kidnapped Sid’s parrot, Lester, and replaced him with Pepe, his eyes and ears, in a bid to take over whilst perched on his unsuspecting shoulder! Pepe failed twice at removing Sid from the equation; once by dripping poison into his tea (yes… pirate’s drink tea), which an unfortunate crew member mistakenly drank, and the second time, Pepe attempted to drop a sword from a great height, only for Pepe to realise he was actually not that strong. Cap’n Diego was sure that Pepe could succeed and convinced him to give it one more go, reiterating that third time’s the charm. And indeed it was! Pepe used Sid’s love for Lester against him, leading him into the most dangerous establishment known to man, a place that no other pirate has ever returned from… this place was the Mermaid’s Cavern! *GASP* To cut a long story short, it is due to Cap’n Diego’s success, that this somewhat superstitious phrase was born!

What really happened (apparently):

I couldn’t complete this prompt without looking into the true origin of this saying! Apparently, it dates back to English common law, in which if someone were found to be guilty and were sentenced to be hung, and if the accused was not killed after three attempts, he would be released and forever classed as third time lucky!


Sliced bread

#27: Most of us have heard the saying, “That’s the best thing since sliced bread!” What do you think is actually the best thing since sliced bread?

Firstly, where did this saying even come from?! … Well, after a bit of research, I found that this widely used saying dates back to 1928, when bread became available to buy pre-sliced and packaged for customer convenience. This took off with flying colours as consumers previously had to slice the bread themselves, whereas now that the slicing was automated, the thickness of each slice was the same! Hurrah to the disappearance of wonky sandwiches! This new sensation was advertised as ‘the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped’, which then morphed into the popular saying we know today. So, in layman’s terms, this saying refers to a recent invention that is likely to improve people’s lives.

So, with that in mind and without sounding completely cheesy, I’d have to say that blogging for me is the best thing since sliced bread! Since I’m very new to the blogosphere, after accepting the 365 Days of Writing Prompts challenge set by WordPress before the new year began, everything is still very exciting (which I hope will continue throughout the next 11 months, too!). I have chosen this as I’ve noticed that my writing is improving, all thanks to WordPress’ painless and innovative nudging to write daily blog posts.

On a more global note, I believe the best thing since sliced bread is an invention from the incredible Brittany Wenger, from Florida, who has created an easier and somewhat less painful way of diagnosing Breast Cancer, which has 99.11% sensitivity to malignancy! I truly hope we see this in hospitals worldwide soon, but until then I’ll certainly be taking part in this year’s Race For Life and doing my bit in the race to beat cancer … we will win!