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Friday, 31 August 2012

10 reasons to visit Portugal



Princess Diana: Looking Back on the 15th Anniversary of her Death

Princess Diana captivated and intrigued the world like few other royals have. Her grace and her Cinderella-like rise had a fairy-tale charm to it: she was the ordinary girl who became a princess. And even amid the turmoil of her unraveling marriage to Prince Charles, which ended in divorce after 15 years, she managed to enthrall us with her style and philanthropy.
Sadly it was our fascination with her that brought about her tragic death at the age of 36, in a fatal car crash while being chased by paparazzi through a Paris tunnel, on August 31, 1997.
Although there were echoes of that day 15 years ago, the Palace, now home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they are in London, was today a calmer and more contemplative place.
There was no official ceremony planned to mark the day, and William and Harry were expected to spend the day away from the public eye.


As he mourns the loss of his beloved mother, the Duke of Cambridge is preparing for a trip to Singapore where he will see for the first time an orchid named in Diana's honour. 
The Dendrobium Memoria Princess Diana orchid, which grows in Singapore's Botanical Gardens, was named in the princess's honour in September 1997, the month after she died.
As part of the visit William and Kate will have their own orchid named in their honour, which will join Diana's orchid in the VIP area of the Gardens.
Harry, who was 12 when he lost his mother, said five years ago at an official Thanksgiving service held in her honour said that his mother's death was 'indescribably shocking and sad', and changed his life and that of his brother forever.



Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Silves


 The town of Silves, in the south of Portugal, Algarve, stands on a fertile valley of orange groves and is dominated by its castle dating mainly from the time of the moors. 

      The Castle towers have spectacular views of the city and the fields that surround it. The origin of the town Silves is prior to the year 1000 BC. The climate is temperate Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and mild winters. Architectural and monumental heritage of the county, are noteworthy:

- Silves Castle, originally of Arab construction, dating back to the eighth century. Made up of mud walls and thick towers, in the center it has a huge cistern with a vaulted and domed five round arches;
- Misericórdia Church of Silves, a sixteenth century building, reveals its origin in a side door in Manueline style placed above the ground, possibly the original entrance;
- The turret from the gates of the city of Silves, the ancient watchtower of important dimension, which was part of the city walls.
       The municipality of Silves is the second largest county of Algarve county.

video




Monday, 27 August 2012

Clint Eastwood Anti-Crack Cocaine PSA from the 1980s

Back in 1987, Clint Eastwood joined the Reagan administration’s ”War on Drugs” - crack cocaine was a huge social panic in the 1980s, with public health authorities... It’s still a problem!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Flan recipe

(click on the recipe)

How the English Language was developed



Chapter I. Anglo-Saxon, or Whatever Happened to the Jutes.
The English language begins with the phrase ‘Up Yours Caesar!’ as the Romans leave Britain and a lot of Germanic tribes start flooding in, tribes such as the Angles and the Saxons – who together gave us the term Anglo-Saxon, and the Jutes – who didn’t.

The Romans left some very straight roads behind, but not much of their Latin language. The Anglo-Saxon vocab was much more useful as it was mainly words for simple everyday things like ‘house’, ‘woman’, ‘loaf’ and ‘werewolf’.

Four of our days of the week were named in honour of Anglo-Saxon gods. They didn’t bother with Saturday, Sunday and Monday as they had all gone off for a long weekend. While they were away, Christian missionaries stole in bringing with them leaflets about jumble sales and more Latin.

Christianity was a hit with the locals and made them much happier to take on funky new words from Latin, like ‘martyr’, ‘bishop’ and ‘font’.

Along came the Vikings, with their action-man words like ‘drag’, ‘ransack’, ‘thrust’ and ‘die’. They may have raped and pillaged but there were also into ‘give’ and ‘take’ – two of around 2000 words they gave English, as well as the phrase ‘watch out for that man with the enormous axe.’

Chapter II. The Norman Conquest, or Excuse My English.
1066. True to his name, William the Conqueror invades England, bringing new concepts from across the channel like the French language, the Doomsday book and the duty free Galois’s multipack.

French was de rigeur for all official business, with words like ‘judge’, ‘jury’, ‘evidence’ and ‘justice’ coming in and giving John Grisham’s career a kick-start. Latin was still used ad nauseam in Church, but the common man spoke English – able to communicate only by speaking more slowly and loudly until the others understood him.

Words like ‘cow’, ‘sheep’ and ‘swine’ come from the English-speaking farmers, while the a la carte versions - ‘beef’, ‘mutton’ and ‘pork’ - come from the French-speaking toffs – beginning a long running trend for restaurants having completely indecipherable menus.

All in all, the English absorved about 10,000 new words from the Normands, but they couldn't thrust the rules of cheek-kissing.

The bonhomie all ended when the English nation took their new warlike lingo of ‘armies’, ‘navies’ and ‘soldiers’ and began the Hundred Years War against France. It actually lasted 116 years but by that point no one could count any higher in French and English took over as the language of power.

Chapter III. Shakespeare, or A Plaque on Both His Houses.
As the dictionary tells us, about 2000 new words and phrases were invented by William Shakespeare. He gave us handy words like ‘eyeball’, ‘puppy-dog’ and ‘anchovy’ - and more show-offy words like ‘dauntless’, ‘besmirch’ and ‘lacklustre’. He came up with the word ‘alligator’, soon after he ran out of things to rhyme with ‘crocodile’. And a nation of tea-drinkers finally took him to their hearts when he invented the ‘hobnob’.

Shakespeare knew the power of catchphrases as well as biscuits. Without him we would never eat our ‘flesh and blood’ ‘out of house and home’ – we’d have to say ‘good riddance’ to ‘the green-eyed monster’ and ‘breaking the ice’ would be ‘as dead as a doornail’. If you tried to get your ‘money’s worth’ you’d be given ‘short shrift’ and anyone who ‘laid it on with a trowel’ could be ‘hoist with his own petard’.

Of course it’s possible other people used these words first, but the dictionary writers liked looking them up in Shakespeare 'cause there was more cross-dressing and people poking each other’s eyes out.

Shakespeare’s poetry showed the world that English was a rich vibrant language with limitless expressive and emotional power. And he still had time to open all those tearooms in Stratford.

Chapter IV. The King James Bible, or Let There Be Light Reading.
In 1611 ‘the powers that be’ ‘turned the world upside down’ with a ‘labour of love’ – a new translation of the bible. A team of scribes with the ‘wisdom of Solomon’ - ‘went the extra mile’ to make King James’s translation ‘all things to all men’, whether from their ‘heart’s desire’ ‘to fight the good fight’ or just for the ‘filthy lucre’.

This sexy new Bible went ‘from strength to strength’, getting to ‘the root of the matter’ in a language even ‘the salt of the earth’ could understand. ‘The writing wasn’t on the wall’, it was in handy little books with ‘fire and brimstone’ preachers reading it in every church, its words and phrases ‘took root’ ‘to the ends of the earth’ – well at least the ends of Britain.

The King James Bible is the book that taught us that ‘a leopard can’t change its spots’, that ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’, that ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ is harder to spot than you would imagine, and how annoying it is to have ‘a fly in your ointment’.

In fact, just as ‘Jonathan begat Meribbaal; and Meribbaal begat Micah, the King James Bible begat a whole glossary of metaphor and morality that still shapes the way English is spoken today. Amen.

Chapter V. The English Of Science, or How to Speak with Gravity.
Before the 17th Century scientists weren’t really recognised – possibly because lab-coats had yet to catch on. But suddenly Britain was full of physicists – there was Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle – and even some people not called Robert, like Isaac Newton. The Royal Society was formed out of the Invisible College – after they put it down somewhere and couldn’t find it again.

At first they worked in Latin. After sitting through Newton’s story about the ‘pomum’ falling to the ‘terra’ from the ‘arbor’ for the umpteenth time, the bright sparks realised they all spoke English and could transform our understanding of the universe much quicker by talking in their own language.

But science was discovering things faster than they could name them. Words like ‘acid’, ‘gravity’, ‘electricity and ‘pendulum’ had to be invented just to stop their meetings turning into an endless game of charades.

Like teenage boys, the scientists suddenly became aware of the human body – coining new words like ‘cardiac’ and ‘tonsil’, ‘ovary’, and ‘sternum’ - and the invention of ‘penis’ (1693), ‘vagina’ (1682) made sex education classes a bit easier to follow. Though and ‘clit.oris’ was still a source of confusion.

Chapter VI. English And Empire, or The Sun Never Sets on the English Language.
With English making its name as the language of science, the Bible and Shakespeare, Britain decided to take it on tour. Asking only for land, wealth, natural resources, total obedience to the crown and a few local words in return.

They went to the Caribbean looking for gold and a chance to really unwind – discovering the ‘barbeque’, the ‘canoe’ and a pretty good recipe for rum punch. They also brought back the word ‘cannibal’ to make their trip sound more exciting.

In India there was something for everyone. ‘Yoga’ – to help you stay in shape, while pretending to be spiritual. If that didn’t work there was the ‘cummerbund’ to hide a paunch and - if you couldn’t even make it up the stairs without turning ‘crimson’ – they had the ‘bungalow’.

Meanwhile in Africa they picked up words like ‘voodoo’ and ‘zombie’ – kicking off the teen horror film.

From Australia, English took the words ‘nugget’, ‘boomerang’ and ‘walkabout’ - and in fact the whole concept of chain pubs.

All in all, between toppling Napoleon (1815) and the first World War (1914), the British Empire gobbled up around 10 millions square miles, 400 million people and nearly a hundred thousand gin and tonics, leaving new varieties of English to develop all over the globe.

Chapter VII. The Age of the Dictionary, or The Definition of a Hopeless Task.
With English expanding in all directions, along came a new breed of men called lexicographers, who wanted to put an end to this anarchy – a word they defined as ‘what happens when people spell words slightly differently from each other’.

One of the greatest was Doctor Johnson, whose ‘Dictionary of the English Language’ took him 9 years to write. It was 18 inches tall and 20 inches wide – and contained 42 773 entries – meaning that even if you couldn’t read, it was still pretty useful if you wanted to reach a high shelf.

For the first time, when people were calling you ‘a pickle herring’, a 'jobbernowl' or a ‘fopdoodle’,  you could understand exactly what they meant – and you’d have the consolation of knowing they all used the standard spelling.

Try as he might to stop them, words kept being invented and in 1857 a new book was started which would become the Oxford English Dictionary. It took another 70 years to be finished after the first editor resigned to be an Archbishop, the second died of TB and the third was so boring that half his volunteers quit and one of them ended up in an Asylum. It eventually appeared in 1928 and has continued to be revised ever since – proving the whole idea that you can stop people making up words is complete snuffbumble.

Chapter VIII. American English, or Not English But Somewhere in the Ball Park.
From the moment Brits landed in America they needed names for all the new plants and animals so they borrowed words like ‘raccoon’, ‘squash’ and ‘moose’ from the Native Americans, as well as most of their territory.

Waves of immigrants fed America’s hunger for words. The Dutch came sharing ‘coleslaw’ and ‘cookies’ – probably as a result of their relaxed attitude to drugs. Later, the Germans arrived selling ‘pretzels’ from ‘delicatessens’ and the Italians arrived with their ‘pizza’, their ‘pasta’ and their ‘mafia’, just like mamma used to make.

America spread a new language of capitalism – getting everyone worried about the ‘breakeven’ and ‘the bottom line’, and whether they were ‘blue chip’ or ‘white collar’. The commuter needed a whole new system of ‘freeways’, ‘subways’ and ‘parking lots’ – and quickly, before words like ‘merger’ and ‘downsizing’ could be invented.

American English drifted back across the pond as Brits ‘got the hang of’ their ‘cool movies’, and their ‘groovy’ ‘jazz’. There were even some old forgotten English words that lived on in America. So they carried on using ‘fall’, ‘faucets’, ‘diapers’ and ‘candy’, while the Brits moved on to ‘autumn’, ‘taps’, ‘nappies’ and NHS dental care.

Chapter IX. Internet English, or Language Reverts to Type.
In 1972 the first email was sent. Soon the Internet arrived – a free global space to share information, ideas and amusing pictures of cats.

Before the Internet, English changed through people speaking it – but the net brought typing back into fashion and hundreds of cases of repetitive strain syndrome. Nobody had ever had to ‘download’ anything before, let alone use a ‘toolbar’ - And the only time someone set up a ‘firewall’, it ended with a massive insurance claim and a huge pile of charred wallpaper.

Conversations were getting shorter than the average attention span – why bother writing a sentence when an abbreviation would do and leave you more time to ‘blog’, ‘poke’ and ‘reboot’ when your ‘hard drive’ crashed?

‘In my humble opinion’ became ‘IMHO, ‘by the way’ became ‘BTW and ‘if we’re honest that life-threatening accident was pretty hilarious!’ simply became ‘fail’.

Some changes even passed into spoken English. For your information people frequently asked questions like “how can ‘LOL’ mean ‘laugh out loud’ and ‘lots of love’? But if you’re going to complain about that then UG2BK (you must be going be kidding).

Chapter X. Global English, or Whose Language is it Anyway?.
In the 1500 years since the Roman’s left Britain, English has shown an unique ability to absorb, evolve, invade and, if we’re honest, steal. After foreign settlers got it started, it grew into a fully-fledged language all of its own, before leaving home and travelling the world, first via the high seas, then via the high speed broadband connection, pilfering words from over 350 languages and establishing itself as a global institution. All this despite a written alphabet that bears no correlation to how it sounds and a system of spelling that even Dan Brown couldn’t decipher.

Right now around 1.5 billion people speak English. Of these about a quarter are native speakers, a quarter speak it as their second language, and half are able to ask for directions to a swimming pool.

There’s Hinglish – which is Hindi-English, Chinglish – which is Chinese-English and Singlish – which is Singaporean English – and not that bit when they speak in musicals.

So in conclusion, the language has got so little to do with England these days it may well be time to stop calling it ‘English’. But if someone does think up a new name for it, it should probably be in Chinese.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Apple cupcakes

(click on the picture)

Marks & Spencer and Oxfam create giant GB flag from unwanted clothes #shwopping

To raise awareness of their schwopping scheme, Marks & Spencer and Oxfam have created the world’s largest Union Jack flag from unwanted clothes. 
The final flag, pieced together by local volunteers and school children, used 2100 unwanted items of clothing measured 20 metres by 10 metres (see video below, no sound). The contributing garments will now be recycled via Oxfam. 
Shwopping is M&S and Oxfam’s revolutionary sustainable fashion initiative asking consumers to adopt a ‘buy one, give one’ mentality when shopping and encourage greater sustainability on the high street.  The campaign aims to put an end to the one billion items currently ending up in landfill every year. All M&S clothing stores now accept used and unwanted items of clothing from any brand, all year round.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

35th Anniversary of Elvis' Death

Elvis Aaron Presley was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn, leaving Elvis to grow up as an only child. He and his parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1948, and Elvis graduated from Humes High School there in 1953. 
Elvis’ musical influences were the pop and country music of the time, the gospel music he heard in church and at the all-night gospel sings he frequently attended, and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager. 

In 1954, Elvis began his singing career with the legendary Sun Records label in Memphis. In late 1955, his recording contract was sold to RCA Victor. By 1956, he was an international sensation. With a sound and style that uniquely combined his diverse musical influences and blurred and challenged the social and racial barriers of the time, he ushered in a whole new era of American music and popular culture. 

He starred in 33 successful films, made history with his television appearances and specials, and knew great acclaim through his many, often record-breaking, live concert performances on tour and in Las Vegas. Globally, he has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist. His American sales have earned him gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards. Among his many awards and accolades were 14 Grammy nominations (3 wins) from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award which he received at age 36, and his being named One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation for 1970 by the United States Jaycees. Without any of the special privileges, his celebrity status might have afforded him, he honorably served his country in the U.S. Army. 
His talent, good looks, sensuality, charisma, and good humor endeared him to millions, as did the humility and human kindness he demonstrated throughout his life. Known the world over by his first name, he is regarded as one of the most important figures of twentieth century popular culture. Elvis died at his Memphis home, Graceland, on August 16, 1977. 







Thursday, 9 August 2012

Monday, 6 August 2012