Tag Archives: british

Take the Downton Abbey personality quiz! – Season 3 returns January, 2013

source: PBS

 

That’s right, our favorite British costume drama, Downton Abbey, returns on January 6, 2013, to PBS’ Masterpiece Theater. And because that is far too many months to wait, we have some Downton treats:

The show gets significant historical events right. The depiction of the 1918 “Spanish” ‘flu epidemic is accurate—it came on suddenly, people could be well in the morning and near death at night. And it was people in the prime of life, 20-40 year olds, who were most at risk.

However, the depiction of trench warfare is mixed. The show captures what scholar Paul Fussell described as the “ridiculous proximity” between the home front and the trenches. For instance, the posh department stores Fortnum and Mason and Harrods both had gift assortments specially chosen for the front—and delivery was efficient!

  • A photo slideshow, from the The Right Honourable Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham to Bates and Mr. Carson

 

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The Sikh’s have their own ferocious martial art – Shastar Vidiya – among the oldest in the world

Yesterday, after hearing a lot about the shooting at a Sikh temple, I spent some researching what the Sikh’s are. A fascinating people in many respects, one which is on the verge of extinction, the Sikh Warrior.

I poked around a bit and learned that the Sikh’s once had a great empire in India. It existed for a few centuries, with a great army, until two bloody wars with the British empire left them subjugated. It is during this time that the famous Sikh warrior came about, both as native Sikh fighters and as fighters in the British army after their defeat.

Apparently, they were so fearsome that the British had to outlaw various aspects of their culture. One of those was their martial art, Shastar Vidiya, a fighting form thought to be older than any Chinese and Japanese form. And, by outlaw, I mean anyone caught practicing will be put to death.

Today, this martial art is all but extinct. Only one master remains and he is hoping to pass on the martial art before it dies out. Ironically, he is British and hoping to convert British Sikh’s.

Here is an excerpt from The Independent:

 

Surrounded by hostile Hindu and Muslim empires who were opposed to the emergence of a new religion in their midst, the Sikhs quickly turned themselves into an efficient and fearsome warrior race. The most formidable group among them were the Akali Nihangs, a blue-turbaned sect of fighters who became the crack troops and cultural guardians of the Sikh faith….Astonished by the ferocity and bravery of the Akali Nihangs, the Punjab’s new colonial administrators swiftly banned the group and forbade Sikhs from wearing the blue turbans that defined the Akalis.

 

The full article - Ancient but deadly: the return of shastar vidiya.

 

 

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Photos of the skydiver who parachuted into the Olympics dressed as the Queen

(Yahoo! Sports)

 

God save the queen. And get her a razor for her five o’clock shadow.

The stuntperson who was featured during that showstopping moment in Friday night’s Opening Ceremony when Queen Elizabeth jumped out of a helicopter with James Bond was a better actor than you ever knew. A closer look reveals it was a man dressed as the queen and pulling the cord on the parachute.

Gary Connery, above right, is a 42-year-old stuntperson who has appeared in British television shows and popular movies including the “Indiana Jones” series. He’s a jumping daredevil, having set the record for highest free jump and making close to 1,000 skydives in his career.

Connery was tasked with playing the queen during the ceremony, a role which included jumping out of the helicopter and landing precisely on a nearby bridge and, perhaps more dangerously, wearing a tiara and pearls.

 

Learn more: Times Union - The stuntman, emphasis on man, who dressed like Queen Elizabeth and jumped out of a helicopter

 

 

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London Olympics may be the greenest, most sustainable ever

With the opening ceremony of the London Olympics only days away, organizers prepare to celebrate what may be the one of the greenest Olympic Games to date.

For Olympic organizers, sustainability has been a major focus in planning the Games’ venues. Forbes notes that existing or temporary venues are utilized whenever possible. For permanent structures, “Each new venue was required to achieve a minimum 15 percent improvement against Building Regulations.”

The site of London’s Olympic Park has also been noted for its radical transformation. Once an industrial area along the River Lea, the site was previously contaminated by “heavy metals, hydrocarbons, arsenic and cyanide,” according to BBC News.

At the largest urban park built in Britain in over the century, officials planted 2,000 native trees and 300,00 wetland plants and restored five miles of the River Lea. 110 acres of land were also turned into “reed beds, wet woodlands, grassland and ponds” to encourage the return of wildlife, reported the Press Association.

While British officials originally planned to draw 20 percent of the London Olympics’ power from renewable sources, they fell short of that goal. The BioRegional and WWF-UK report explains that only nine percent of on-site energy will be renewable.

 

Source: Huffington Post Green - London Olympics: Green Games A Goal For Organizers

 

 

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Modern world: Bookstores with cafés increase sales – those without decrease

As Independent Booksellers Week gets into full swing, the Booksellers Association has released figures to suggest outlets with cafés are likely to have higher sales than those without.

Figures based on a survey of 40 BA members reveal that bookshops with cafés saw a 3% growth in overall turnover in 2011, whereas those without experienced a decline in sales of 5.2%. Those bookshops with cafés also experienced a 2% hike in their book sales last year, in comparison to those without cafés which had a decrease in book sales of 4%.

“We want customers to celebrate their local bookshop and also we want consumers to vote with their feet and use their local bookshop or risk losing it.  Bookshops are social and cultural hubs and provide far more to communities than books and as such deserve and require strong action to preserve their unique role in British life.”

 

Source: The Bookseller - Sales higher in bookshops with cafés

 

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July 1 is the national day of Canada – Happy Canada Day!

Canada Day is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the British North America Act, 1867 (today called the Constitution Act, 1867, in Canada), which united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire.

Frequently referred to as “Canada’s birthday”, particularly in the popular press, the occasion marks the joining of the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada into a federation of four provinces (the Province of Canada being divided, in the process, into Ontario and Quebec) on July 1, 1867. Canada became a kingdom in its own right on that date, but the British Parliament kept limited rights of political control over the new country that were shed by stages over the years until the last vestiges were surrendered in 1982 when the Constitution Act patriated the Canadian constitution.

Most communities across the country will host organized celebrations for Canada Day, usually outdoor public events, such as parades, carnivals, festivals, barbecues, air and maritime shows, fireworks, and free musical concerts, as well as citizenship ceremonies for new citizens.

ViaWikipedia

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Average annual hours worked per country

“Over the last century, you’ve seen a reduction from very long working hours – nearly 3,000 a year at the beginning of the 1900s – to the turn of the 21st Century when most developing countries were under 1,800 hours,” says Messenger. “And indeed some of the most productive countries were even lower than that.”

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A look at the average annual hours worked per person in selected countries puts South Korea top with a whopping 2,193 hours, followed by Chile on 2,068.

British workers clock up 1,647 hours and Germans 1,408 – putting them at the bottom of the table, above only the Netherlands.

**The United States is at 1,695.

Greek workers have had a bad press recently but, as we reported in February, they work longer hours than any other Europeans. Their average of 2,017 hours a year puts them third in the international ranking, based on figures compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

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“…the US is the only developed country that has no legal or contractual or collective requirement to provide any minimum amount of annual leave,” he says.

The UK, in contrast, is subject to the European working time directive, which requires at least four weeks of paid annual leave for every employee.

 

via BBC – Who works the longest hours?

 

Here is a screenshot of all 34 OECD countries. Click to the BBC to see the interactive version that shows each country’s hours worked.

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Sir Jonathan Ive – Apple’s chief designer is knighted

Jonathan Ive – the British designer responsible for Apple’s iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad – has been knighted at Buckingham Palace.

The 45-year-old said the investiture in front of the Princess Royal was “really thrilling and particularly humbling”.

Now based in the US, Apple’s senior vice-president of industrial design flew in to the UK with his wife and eight-year-old twin sons for the event.

He was born in Chingford, east London, and studied at Newcastle Polytechnic.

Sir Jonathan had a brief chat with Princess Anne and later revealed they had talked about how often he comes back to the UK while she spoke of her iPad.

He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the New Year Honours list for services to design and enterprise.

See the full coverage on - BBC including a video of the actual knighting process

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Photos of Prince Edward, Agatha Christie surfing in the 1920s

An autographed photo of Edward, Prince of Wales, surfing in Hawaii in 1920 has been unveiled by the Museum of British Surfing.

Prince Edward – later to become King Edward VIII before abdicating to marry American Wallis Simpson.

This is considered the first photo so far of a Briton standing on a wave.

via Surfer Today

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On his first official trip to Waikiki in April he was taken out in an outrigger canoe, then later in the day was coaxed into standing up on a surfboard to ride the waves for the first time by the great Olympian and father of modern surfing Duke Kahanamoku.

However, the future King Edward VIII was so stoked on surfing that he ordered the royal ship HMS Renown to return for 3 days in September just to surf! On this secret surf trip he hooked up with Duke’s brother David Kahanamoku, and along with his great friend Lord Louis Mountbatten, they went surfing every day. The photos were signed by the Edward and Louis as a thank you to their hosts.

Mountbatten was taught to surf by Prince Kalakaua Kawananakoa, the only son of Prince David Kawananakoa who had surfed in Bridlington on England’s east coast in 1890. One of the photos in the gallery below shows the foursome taking a break from surfing and resting on their surfboard.

HMS Renown was even late leaving… because the prince was still out in the surf! As you can see he got quite good in a short time – and remember the surfboard he was riding was a finless, solid wooden plank of native Hawaiian koa weighing around 100 pounds.

via Museum of British Surfing

From left - David Kahanamoku, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Prince Edward, & Duke Kahanamoku.

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Modern Royals – Rainbow Queen in the British Vogue

Note that it says the Queen prefers:

  • 29% – blue
  • 13% – floral
  • 11% – cream or green
  • 10% – pink or purple
  • 4%  - red, orange, or yellow
  • 2%  - black
  • 1%  - checkered or beige

And, some close-ups.

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