Stone skimming

UPDATE: The event for 2020 has been cancelled due to COVID19. Competitors may next meet on 26 September 2021 for World Stone Skimming Championship.


The British have lots of unique sporting (well at least outdoor) events all the year round. These include the following: Egg-throwing World Championsips, Bog-Snorkelling World Championships, Workd Conker Championships (where you have to smash a chestnut)…

Stone-skimming is a popular activity especially with kids by rivers or lakes – and England has organised several World Championships in this event so far.

The one in 2019 was held on 28-29 September. A great skimming event, All England Stone Skimming Championship from 2019 nearly brought a great record. The winner of the men’s event, 22-year-old Alex Lewis skimmed a personal best of 98m on Windermere (a lake in Lake District National Park). He’s been really close to a so called “Centurion” – a skim of 100m.
Lewis retained his title, while the women’s competition celebrated a new champion, Christina Bowen Bravery. Her winning threw-skim reached 41m.

Watch the report here:

Bridge tilts

The grand structure that connects Gateshead and Newscastle over the River Tyne is nicknamed the ‘Blinking Eye Bridge’ because of its shape and the tilting method to let ships pass beneath.

Gateshead Millennium Bridge was opened to the public on 17 September 2001, while Her Majesty the Queen officially opened it on 7 May 2002.

The engines used for the tilting method could run eighth Ford Focus cars. The whole process seen below lasts for four and a half minutes.

Both the design and te lightning of the bridge have been awarded several times, you can find the list of these here.

The self-cleaning method of the bridge works quite simply: when litter is thrown on the pathways, they roll down into a container when bridge lifts.

Feature image crtedit: Kelly McClay


A ‘brownie’ from the kitchen – not a piece of cake but a fairly-like spirit that mostly appears as an old man wearing a grey mantle (coat).

A Wag-at-the-Wa is fond of children and strict about the house’s outlook: it must be neat and tidy. He even punishes those cooks who are lazy. If anyone dies in the family the Wag-at-the-Wa disappears for a couple of days.
He sits mainly on the pothook and swings to and back. But be there any bend in the kitchen, a tap or a horseshoe, it will be an ideal place for your own kitchen brownie.

Lady Jane Grey

Proclaimed Queen of England on 6 July in 1553, she is the shortest reigning monarch in British history. Lady Jane is called the “Nine Day Queen”, since the Privy Council of England changed views – and the choice of King Edward VI, who wanted Lady Jane on the throne – and proclaimed Mary, Roman Catholic daughter of Henry VIII as queen. It was the favour of the country as well to follow the direct lice of succession, i.e. Mary, first bon daughter of King Henry VIII must follow her father despite the fact of being Roman Catholic because of her mother (Catherine of Aragon).

Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Day Queen was imprisoned and – a day after her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley – executed for treason on Tower Hill on 12 July 1554.

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche, 1833

The Tower of London – Ceremony of the Keys

‘Halt, who comes there?’
‘The Keys.’
‘Whose keys?’
‘Queen Elizabeth’s Keys.’
‘Pass then, all’s well.’

The above dialogue can be heard daily at around 8 p.m. by those who visit The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. The event is supervised by the Yeoman Warders.

GR8 to Know
Admission is free but you must book a “ticket” online in advance. Be quick – tickets are usually booked in a year’s advance.

More about The Tower of London here and here

The intruder and The Queen

The noise woke Her Majesty up. She saw a bleeding man sitting at the end of her bed, murmuring, ‘Can I have a cigarette?’
A true story based on the Scotland Yard’s report. Featured image credit: David Levenson, Getty.

Michael Fagan was seen on the railings near the gates to the ambassadors’ entrance of Buckingham Palace at about 6:45 A.M., on Friday, 9 July, 1982. He climbed over the railings, jumped down and hid behind a temporary canvas which had been put up next to the ambassadors’ entrance. There was a window left unlocked on the ground floor so Fagan easily got into the palace. All the doors of the room he entered were locked, so Fagan came out through the same window.

He then climbed a rainpipe to a flat roof above. He found another unlocked window through which he climbed into an office of the Master of the Household. Leaving the room, Fagan found himself on the corridors of the palace towards the private apartments. ‘I was following the portraits and paintings on the wall’, he told later. Fagan went first to an anteroom, where he broke into several pieces an ordinary glass ashtray. He cut his finger. It immediately started bleeding.

Michael Fagan entered Her Majesty The Queen’s bedroom at about 7:15 A.M. He went across the room and opened curtains close to Her Majesty’s bed. By this time, the at-night police sergeant had already gone off duty. The footman was outside exercising the dogs, and the maid was cleaning in another room. The noise woke Her Majesty up. She saw a bleeding man sitting at the end of her bed. ‘Can I have a cigarette?’, he murmured. The Queen pressed the alarm bell but since all the staff were doing their duties, the bell didn’t attract anyone’s attention.

While talking to Fagan, Her Majesty used her bedside telephone and told the palace telephonist to send police to her bedroom. Before police officers arrived, Her Majesty attracted the attention of the maid, and together they walked with Fagan into a nearby pantry on the pretext of supplying him with a cigarette. The footman also arrived. While Her Majesty kept the dogs away, the footman helped to keep the intruder in the pantry by supplying him with cigarettes until police officers arrived and removed him.

Back in 1982, what Fagan did was not a criminal offence, so he was not charged. The Serious Organized Crime and Police Act of 2005 made Buckingham Palace a designated site and since then trespassing its grounds has been a crime.

Victorian bicycles

Inventor Kirkpatrick MacMillan’s bike had pedals on it. The Scotsman lived in Victorian times, an era that gave birth to several iconic two (or more) wheelers.

The velocipede (or boneshaker) popularily known as the penny-farthing was absolutely not aunique sight on the streets of London. Born is France, the iconic bicyclesoon became popular in England.

Its name refers to the coins (penny and farthing) , since one of the coins is larger than the other, just like the bike’s wheels.

A late-Victorian inventor, Edward Burstow’s idea was put into practise in Horsham, West Sussex. This bicycle gat the name “pentacycle” and was used by local postmen to deliver letters and parcels. It was nicknamed “the hen and chinkens” because of its shape: the large middle wheel (the hen) and the for smallers wheels on the sides (the chickens). Despte its popularity in and around Horsham, the development was not used anywhere else in Britain.

Yr Hen Haith – The Old Tongue

Welsh words are not easy to pronounce. Moreover, the language is uneasy to learn. But it’s worth a try since it is among the oldest still existing European languages.

Give it a go, will you?

Here are some words to go one – two are linked with pronunciation site where you can check the further examples.

bus bws
boat llong
plane awyren
school ysgol
bag cwd
drink diod
glass gwydryn
church eglyws
castle castell
door drws
farm fferm
road ffordd
stone maen
milk llefrith
sugar siwgr
bread bara
beer cwrw
river afon
sea môr
island ynys
lake llyn
hill bryn
sheep dafad
dog ci
history hanes
man gŵr
woman benyw
child plentyn
country gwlad

The legend of Three Blind Mice

The popular children’s rhyme was first published in 1609, long after Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) died in 1558. However, rumours say that the rhyme has a hidden bloody event behind the words…

Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer are referred to as the Oxford Martyrs, three Protestant bishops who were victims of religious persecution. Legends said that they had been blinded and the rhyme Three Blind Mice refers to them. The truth is that the bishops were burnt at the stake.

The rhyme was published in Deuteromelia or The Seconde part of Musicks melodie by Thomas Ravencroft, a musican who had collected numerous folk songs in his various collections.

Long before it became a children’s rhyme, Three Blind Mice went on like this:

Three Blinde Mice,
Three Blinde Mice,
Dame Iulian,
Dame Iulian,
the Miller and his merry olde Wife, she scrapte her tripe licke thou the knife.

Although no bloody event can be proved in the original version, the current one is bloody enough indeed:

Nessie: shall we forget the mystery of Loch Ness?

The latest DNA research by scientists of Otago University, New Zealand have revealed that popular Nessie must have been an eel, however, a giant one. No more monsters at Loch Ness?

The team of Scientist captured more than 250 DNA samples from the lake, even its deepest parts. According to geneticist professor Dr Neil Gemmell of Otago University, there is no evidence of any reptiles in the samples. However, one fifth of the DNA samples is still unencoded – Nessie fans can still hope for finding a giant dinosaur-like monster in Loch Ness.

A gallery of Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle

“So there’s no shark DNA in Loch Ness based on our sampling. There is also no catfish DNA in Loch Ness based on our sampling. We can’t find any evidence of sturgeon either,” – Professor Gemmell said on the day the results of the research were revealed, when hundreds of journalists appeared at Loch Ness Centre in Drumnadrochihe, Scotland.

The legend of Nessie, the monster of Loch Ness dates back to the 6th century when St. Columba, a pilgrim from Ireland first saw it at the River Ness. Numerous stories tell how they met but none of them could be proved. According to one of the stories, St. Columba meets some men burying their friend on the bank of the river. They tell him that their friend was bitten to death by a horse-like monster. Columba later meets the monster that wants to attack another villager but Columba draws a cross with his hand in the air and the monster disappears. Another story tells that St. Columba sends the monster to dig the bottom of the lake and it has been digging it ever since. Several sightings of the monster occurred in the 1930s, and also in this century, a famous photograph and a black and white film was taken of the “something” in the lake. Expeditions and deep-water scanning have also been sent to study Loch Ness but none of these were successful. However, Nessie is a celebrity of Scotland and a must-take souvenir in any format. It also has its own “museum” (The Loch Ness Centre in Drumnadrochihe) and “country” (Nessieland) near Urquhart Castle, a popular landmark by the lake.