Search This Blog

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Board Game

Senet is one of the oldest ever board game. The game dates from ancient Egypt from around 3100 BC. The full name of the game in Egyptian was zn.t n.t ḥˁb meaning the "game of passing".

A game box and pieces for playing the game of Senet found within the intact KV62 tomb of king Tutankhamun


The game of backgammon was first played over 5000 years ago. It remains to this day one of the most popular board games in the Middle East was first played.
 
Vikings enjoyed board games such as Chess and Kings' Table where there are two sets of pieces attackers aiming to capture the King and defenders aiming to get him safely to the edge of the board. Game boards have been found scratched into floors and rocks. Pieces could be stones, shells, carved of wood or ivory, clay figures or anything like that.


The original Chutes and Ladders was a 13th-century Indian game called "Mokshapat" that was designed to teach Hindu values. The game made its way to England and was sold as "Snakes and Ladders", then the basic concept was introduced in the United States as "Chutes and Ladders" by game pioneer Milton Bradley in 1943.

The earliest known modern board game went on sale in 1759 priced eight shillings. John Jeffreys devised the game, called A Journey Through Europe, or The Play of Geography.

George Swinerton Parker founded Parker Brothers in 1885. The first game produced was Banking, in which the player who amasses the most wealth is the winner. Their best known game is Monopoly.





Mark Twain invented a 3-piece board game called Mark Twain's Memory Builder: A Game for Acquiring and Retaining All Sorts of Facts and Dates. Published in 1891, it was a commercial disaster.

After selling the rights to Monopoly in 1935, Charles Darrow became the world's first millionaire game designer.

The game of Cluedo was created by Anthony Pratt, a Birmingham musician working in an engineering factory during World War II.


In a game of Cluedo, the odds of correctly guessing, on the first attempt, the correct murderer, location and weapon used are 323-1.

The modern version of The Game of Life was originally published in 1960. It was created by toy and game designer Reuben Klamer  originally had spaces for suicide, disgrace, poverty, and prison.

In 1979 the game Trivia Pursuit was launched from Canada. It was invented by Chris Haney and Scott Abbott.

In 1986, Rob Angel, a 24-year-old waiter from Seattle, Washington, developed Pictionary, a game in which partners try to guess phrases based on each other's drawings.


More board games are sold in Germany than anywhere else on Earth.

BMW

BMW stands for Bavarian Motor Works.

The BMW Headquarters is a landmark in Munich, Germany. The site has served as world headquarters for BMW since 1973. 

Designed by Karl Schwanzer, the exterior of the tower at BMW's HQ is supposed to mimic the shape of a cylinder in a car engine, with the circular museum representing the cylinder head.

BMW purchased Rolls-Royce in 1998 in a $570 million deal.

BMW recalled its GPS systems with female voices in Germany  because male drivers were not willing to take directions from a  female voice.

Stunt driver Michele Pilia drove a BMW tilted on two wheels for 230 miles to break a Guinness World record. The feat took him almost 14 hours.

Enid Blyton

Enid Mary Blyton was born on August 11, 1897  in East Dulwich, London, the eldest of three children, to Thomas Carey Blyton (1870–1920), a cutlery salesman, and his wife Theresa Mary Harrison Blyton (1874–1950).

She was educated at St. Christopher's School in Beckenham from 1907 to 1915 leaving as head girl.

Blyton was a talented pianist, but gave up her musical studies when she trained as a teacher at Ipswich High School. She taught for five years at Bickley, Surbiton and Chessington, writing in her spare time.

In 1922 Enid Blyton published her first book, Child Whispers, a collection of verse, but it was in the late 1930s that she began writing her many children's stories featuring such characters as Noddy, the Famous Five, and the Secret Seven.

First edition

On 28 August 1924 Blyton married Major Hugh Alexander Pollock, DSO (1888–1971), editor of the book department in the publishing firm of George Newnes, which published two of her books that year.
Eventually they moved to a house in Beaconsfield, named Green Hedges by Blyton's readers following a competition in Sunny Stories.

In the mid-1930s Blyton experienced a spiritual crisis, but she decided against converting to Roman Catholicism from the Church of England because she had felt it was "too restricting". Although she rarely attended church services, she saw that her two daughters were baptised into the Anglican faith and went to the local Sunday School.


By 1939 her marriage to Pollock was in difficulties, and she began a series of affairs. In 1941 she met Kenneth Fraser Darrell Waters, a London surgeon with whom she began a relationship. During her divorce, Blyton blackmailed Pollock into taking full blame for the failure of the marriage, knowing that exposure of her adultery would ruin her public image. She promised that if he admitted to charges of infidelity, she would allow him unlimited access to their daughters. However, after the divorce, Pollock was forbidden to contact his daughters, and Blyton ensured he was unable to find work in publishing afterwards. He turned to drinking heavily and was forced to petition for bankruptcy.


Blyton and Darrell Waters married at the City of Westminster Register Office on October 20, 1943, and she subsequently changed the surname of her two daughters to Darrell Waters. Pollock remarried thereafter. Blyton's second marriage was very happy and, as far as her public image was concerned, she moved smoothly into her role as a devoted doctor's wife, living with him and her two daughters at Green Hedges.

Blyton's husband died in 1967. During the following months, she became increasingly ill. Afflicted by Alzheimer's disease, Blyton was moved into a nursing home three months before her death; she died at the Greenways Nursing Home, London, on November 28, 1968, aged 71 years and was cremated at the Golders Green Crematorium where her ashes remain.



Her books have enjoyed huge success in many parts of the world, and have sold over 600 million copies. Her work has been translated into nearly 90 languages.

Enid Blyton liked to play tennis in the nude.


Blyton's literary output was of an estimated 800 books over roughly 40 years.

Source Wikipedia

Blues

Originally a blues was a song of sorrow, sung slowly to the accompaniment of piano or guitar. A blues is 12 measures long, and typically the first line is repeated.

Depending on whom you ask, the blues can be all kinds of things with all kinds of meanings. But the derivation of the phrase is clear: "the blues" comes to us from "the blue devils," a nineteenth-century mental affliction that the OED defines as despondency or spiritual depression. And even before that, British authors of the sixteenth century used to write of being in a "blue funk."


A blues tradition developed separately from that of jazz, but blues harmonies and the 12-measure form have always enriched the jazz tradition.

W.C. Handy's early hit blues song, "The Memphis Blues" was published in 1912. Handy was one of the first composers to incorporate the blues idiom into song forms and orchestrations.

By the mid-1930s Country blues was being replaced by Urban Blues. Artists like Robert Johnson, Charley Patton and Son House innovate what came to be known as Delta blues.

Many an early bluesman in the Delta made his first steps toward learning the guitar by nailing one end of a wire to a wall and playing the wire like a guitar string.


Robert Johnson was a pioneer in slide guitar and in bottleneck. His recordings never became big commercial successes but were influential in bringing Mississippi Delta-style blues into the mainstream.

Louis Jordan's 1942 song "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" was the first jump blues record.

After many black Americans moved from the rural South to Northern cities in the 1940s, Chicago became the center of blues recording. There a new kind of blues began to appear. It featured electrically amplified guitars, and even harmonicas, and drummers who emphasized afterbeats (beats 2 and 4 of each measure; nearly all blues are in 4/4 meter). The simplest boogie-woogie rhythms were the basis of Chicago blues.

Piano Red ("The Wrong Yo Yo", "Just Right Bounce", "Laying the Boogie") became in 1951 the first blues singer in history to appear on the pop charts.

Sources http://www.shmoop.com/blues-history/trivia.html, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc

Bluegrass

Bluegrass, as a distinct musical form, developed from elements of old-time music and traditional music of the Appalachian region of the United States. The Appalachian region was where many English and Ulster-Scots immigrants settled, bringing with them the musical traditions of their homelands. Hence the sounds of jigs and reels, especially as played on the fiddle, were innate to the developing style.

Why the word bluegrass itself was adopted to label this form is not certain, but is believed to be in the late 1950s, and was derived from the name of the seminal Blue Grass Boys band, formed in 1939 with Bill Monroe as its leader. Due to this lineage, Bill Monroe is frequently referred to as the "father of bluegrass."

The Blue Grass Boys were named after Monroe's beloved Kentucky, the Bluegrass State. The Blue Grass Boys joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1939 and subsequently toured with the Opry road show. Monroe's band attracted a variety of performers. Over the years more than 100 different musicians played with his ensemble.

Bluegrass is grown for fodder in the southern states of the United States, especially in Kentucky and Virginia. it is as green as any other grass and gets its name from the colour of its blossoms.

In 1948, what would come to be known as Bluegrass emerged as a genre within the post-war country/western-music industry, a period of time characterized now as the golden era or wellspring of "traditional bluegrass.

Banjo player Earl Scruggs contributed the three-finger five-string banjo technique which became standard.

The Dobro (an acoustic guitar with a metal resonator) became another typical bluegrass instrument from 1955.

"Blue Moon of Kentucky" by Bill Monroe is the Official Bluegrass song of the state of Kentucky. 

Sources Hutchinson Enyclopedia © RM 2012. Helicon Publishing is division of RM, Wikipedia

Bluebird

The bluebird is the international symbol of happiness.

Vera Lynn famously sang of "bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover in her 1940 hit "The White Cliffs of Dover." This is a factual inaccuracy as bluebirds are an American bird and can't be found in the vicinity of Dover.

The bluebird is the quintessential helpful garden bird. Gardeners go to extreme lengths to attract and keep them in the garden for their beneficial properties. Bluebirds are voracious insect consumers, quickly ridding a garden of insect pests

If a birdbath is available, the Eastern Bluebird will find it. If the water is moving, so much the better. Their bath time antics can be heard from quite a distance.


Bluebirds love mealworms and can be drawn in with a small dish filled with them.

A bluebird can spot caterpillars and insects in tall grass at a distance of over 50 yards.


The Eastern Bluebird is an extremely social creature. They will gather in large flocks of a 100 or more.

Males carry nest material to the nest, but they do not participate in the actual building.

Adult bluebirds tend to return to the same breeding territory year after year, but only about 4 percent of young birds return to where they hatched.

Bluebirds can’t see the color blue.

Source Wausau Daily Herald

Blueberry

Legend has it that early American colonists boiled blueberries with milk to make gray paint.

During World War One, children in England were given time off school to pick blackberries. They were collected for the production of juice that was sent to soldiers to help maintain health.

A 2012 study suggested that eating at least one serving of blueberries a week slowed cognitive decline by several years.

Maine produced 25% of all lowbush blueberries in North America. The state produced 83 million pounds of wild blueberries in 2011.

Blueberries are purple. In fact, blue fruit does not exist on earth.


Georgia has the longest harvest blueberry season in the US, lasting from late April through the end of July.

The world record for hands-free eating of blueberry pie is 9.17lb in eight minutes. It is held by Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti, an American competitive eater.

Bluebell

The common bluebell is a perennial plant that grows from a bulb. It produces 3–6 linear leaves, all growing from the base of the plant, and each 7–16 millimetres (0.28–0.63 in) wide.

It is estimated that 25%–50% of all common bluebells may be found in the British Isles. It is also found in Belgium, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain, and also occurs as a naturalized species in Germany, Italy, and Romania. It has also been introduced to parts of North America, in both the Pacific Northwest (British Columbia, Washington and Oregon) and the north-eastern United States (Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York).

The bluebell starts growing in January with the sole purpose to flower before the other woodland plants which have stalled because of the dry weather.

The bluebells you'll see in UK towns and cities are most probably the Spanish invader, Hyacinthoides hispanica, not the common bluebell.

In the United Kingdom, H. non-scripta is a protected species and landowners are prohibited from removing common bluebells on their land for sale and it is a criminal offence to remove the bulbs of wild common bluebells.

Source Wikipedia

The Blue Danube

Johann Strauss wrote over 400 waltzes, most notably "An der schönen blauen Donau" (better known to the English-speaking world as "The Blue Danube"). Written to celebrate the River Danube that flows through Vienna, it was premiered as a choral piece on February 13, 1867 at a concert of the Vienna Men's Choral Association. 

Its initial performance only got a lukewarm response and Strauss is reputed to have said "The devil take the waltz, my only regret is for the coda—I wish that had been a success!"

Strauss adapted it into a purely orchestral version for the World's Fair in Paris that same year, and it this form that it is best known today.




Demand for the sheet music for the orchestral version of The Blue Danube was so high that it wore out the printing presses.


The German composer Johannes Brahms was a personal friend of Strauss. An anecdote dating around the time is that Strauss's stepdaughter, Alice von Meyszner-Strauss approached Brahms with a customary request that he autograph her fan. Brahms cheekily inscribed a few measures from the "Blue Danube," and then wrote beneath it: "Unfortunately, NOT by Johannes Brahms."

The piece's popularity was bolstered after its prominent use in the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was used to accompany the scene in which a spaceplane is seen docking with a space station after Kubrick made an association between the spinning motion of the satellites and the dancers of waltzes. The waltz was also used to accompany the film's closing credits.

The piece was also used as the gastrointestinal bypass surgery music in the 2003 film Super Size Me.

Source Songfacts

Amelia Bloomer

Amelia Bloomer (1818-94)  was born on May 27, 1818 in Homer, New York. 

Bloomer wrote on current affairs for her husband's newspaper before founding and editing Lily (1849–53), a temperance journal that, under the influence of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, also championed women's rights. It is believed the Lily, was the first newspaper edited entirely by a woman.



Bloomer advocated a move away from starched petticoats and whale-bone fitted corsets to something giving women freedom of movement. 

In 1851, the women’s rights campaigner told her American readers how to make the Turkish-style pantaloons and short skirt that she had adopted — and within weeks newspapers dubbed it the ‘Bloomer’ dress

Although Bloomer's costume was not adopted for general wear, the bloomers were worn by women for gymnastic and other physical exercises through the turn of the century. 

Bloomer suit


Amelia Bloomer's efforts were followed by those of doctors who wanted to put an end to the corset, but their attempts to inject reason into fashion met with failure.

These trousers were soon adopted in England where they became especially suitable for younger ladies taking up bicycling.


At a British Columbia auction in 1983, Houston tavern owner Jim Anderson paid $3,000 for a pair of "bloomers" once worn by Queen Victoria. They are history's most expensive used bloomers.

Source Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Bloodhound

The bloodhound is also called St. Hubert hound (especially in Belgium and France) because its ancestry can be traced to the monastery of St. Hubert in Belgium. It was bred as a pack hound and used to track game - this it would do relentlessly for days on end if required. In the eleventh century, the Saint Hubert reached Britain with William the Conqueror, and was then selectively bred and refined.

Sir Walter Scott had a tomcat called Hinse who tormented the writer’s dogs until a bloodhound called Nimrod killed him in 1826. 

A bloodhound called Ludvine joined the Elkmont Half Marathon in Alabama on January 16, 2016

after her owner let her out to go pee. She ran the entire 13.1 miles and finished 7th.

The bloodhound grows to a height of about 65 cm/26 in.


The world record for the longest ears on a dog belongs to bloodhound Tigger, who died in 2009. His right ear measured 13.5in while his left was 13.75in. 

The bloodhound's nose consists of approximately 230 million olfactory cells, or “scent receptors” — forty times the number in humans. They have been used to trail human scent since Roman times.


Bloodhounds’ long ears not only help their hearing, but also aid their sense of smell. By dragging their ears along the ground, they sweep up particles that make up a scent trail.

The bloodhound is the only animal whose evidence is admissible in an American court. Its sensitive nose is used in court to match scene-of-crime evidence to criminals.

Source Daily Mail

Blood Transfusion

According to some sources, the first blood transfusion took place in 1492, when Pope Innocent VIII was given the blood of three ten-year-old boys. The evidence for this story is unreliable and may have been motivated by anti-semitism.

Frenchman Dr. Jean-Baptiste Denys, the physician to King Louis XIV, administered on June 15, 1667 the first ever documented blood transfusion from animal to human. He injected into the veins of a dying 15-year old boy eight ounces of lamb’s blood and temporarily succeeded in restoring him. However the boy subsequently died and Denis was accused of murder.



After Jean Baptiste Denis’ pioneering blood transfusion, many attempts were made throughout Europe to improve on his procedure. However so many patients died from the resulting incompatibility reactions that by the turn of the 18th century, the process was banned in England and France.

William Halsted administered the first blood transfusion in the United States in 1881, after discovering that blood, once charged with air, can be reintroduced into a patient's body.


British poster encouraging people to donate blood for the war effort.


Bill Haast, known as the Snake Man, injected himself with venom every day for 60 years. He has been credited for saving numerous lives by donating his blood which is rich in antibodies.

1 in 10,000 units of blood that are transfused in the US are the wrong kind of blood for the patient.

Blood Pressure

Six million Britons are taking drugs to control their blood pressure.

Half of those with high blood pressure are aged 60 or over.

In developed countries, the risk of suffering high blood pressure over your lifetime is 90 per cent.

High blood pressure is classified as a reading of more than 140/90 millimetres of mercury. The first figure, the systolic pressure, corresponds to the ‘surge’ that occurs with each heart beat while the diastolic reading is the pressure in the ‘resting’ stage between beats. 


The average giraffe has a blood pressure two or three times that of the average human.

Source Daily Mail August 24, 2011

Blood Banks

An early development leading to the establishment of blood banks occurred in 1914 when the Austrian biologist Karl Landsteiner and Richard Lewisohn of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York discovered that sodium citrate prevents clotting. The development of the possibility of the refrigerated storage of blood opened the way for the first blood banks to be established in Britain during the First World War. It was not widely used and had only twenty-six requests for blood from hospitals. By the 1930s, Stalin had established over sixty large blood centers and many more smaller ones, which covered the whole of the vast Soviet Union.

In the USA the first large-scale blood bank was not created until 1937, when Bernard Fantus the director of therapeutics at the Cook County Hospital in Chicago, created a hospital laboratory that preserved and stored donor blood. Fantus described it as a "blood bank”, the first time the term had been used. By the time of the Second World War a few years later blood banks and blood transfusions were being widely used.

Prince Charles became the first member of the Royal Family to become a blood donor on March 1, 1985. Nurses confirmed his blood was red, not blue.

Greyhounds are universal blood donors, and with few exceptions, blood from any greyhound can be given to any other breed of dog.


Blood

Aztecs believed that the sun died every night and needed human blood to give it strength to rise the next day.

The term blueblood used in Britain since the 19th century to refer to the aristocracy, originated in Spain. Families from Castile were keen to stress the difference between their skin and the marauding Moors from Africa. To prove their breeding, they claimed their veins were a purer blue and their ‘blue blood’ was visible because of their fair skin.

At the turn of the 20th century, a research assistant at the Vienna Pathological Institute, Karl Landsteiner, proved that there are different types of blood that people can have. He identified four major human blood groups, which he labelled A, O, B, and AB. Landsteiner showed that when transfusing blood from one person to another the blood serum from one patient would often cause the red blood cells of the other to clot. This explains the hazardous nature of blood transfusions. Landsteiner's classification system enabled the safe transfusions of blood making it possible to ensure the transferred blood is compatible with a patient's own.

There are four main Blood types: A, B, AB and O and each Blood type is either Rh positive or negative. The most common blood type in the world is O+. The rarest type is AB-.

There are 62,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body. Laid end to end, they'd stretch around the world more than twice.

In 24 hours, the blood in the body travels a total of 12,000 miles - that's four times the width of North America.

Each square inch of human skin consists of twenty feet of blood vessels.

Members of the Nazi SS had their blood type tattooed on their armpits.

Your body is creating and killing 15 million red blood cells per second.

The average life span of a single red blood cell is 120 days.

The average human adult has between 4.7 and 5.0 litres of blood in their body. Our blood accounts for about seven per cent of our total body weight.

An individual blood cell takes about 60 seconds to make a complete circuit of the body.

Every day, our kidneys filter about 50 gallons of blood through their 140 miles of tubes.

Our total blood supply is filtered by the kidneys about once every five minutes.

Blood enters the heart through its atriums and leaves through the ventricles. “Atrium” is Latin for “entrance hall” and “ventriculus” means “little belly”.

Every additional kilo you weigh requires your body to produce 650 km of blood vessels.

The amount of blood in a pregnant woman’s system will have increased by 50 per cent by the twentieth week of pregnancy.

Blood is six times thicker than water.



In seventy-five years the human heart pumps 3,122,000,000 gallons of blood, enough to fill in oil tanker over 46 times.

Chicken liver can be used to change A type blood to O type blood.

Chocolate syrup was used for blood in the famous 45 second shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

The blue blood in your veins is an illusion- it is actually red.

The blood of mammals is red and the blood of insects is yellow.

Spiders, lobsters and snails have blue blood owing to the presence of haemocyanin which contains copper.

A lobster's blood is colorless but when exposed to oxygen it turns blue.

Grasshoppers have white blood.

While there are animals on Earth with blue, green, and colorless blood, there are no creatures with black blood.

Sources GreatFacts.com, March Hares and Monkeys’ Uncles by Harry Oliver

Blonde

The word blond derives from the Old French word “blund”, meaning literally “a color midway between golden and light chestnut.” The French origin is how we get the added “e” on the end when using the feminine form of the word. 

The Ancient Greeks were obsessed with blonde hair and men and women alike bleached their locks with potash water and herbal infusions. 

Having blonde hair was popular in ancient Rome, too. Those not naturally blessed with fair hair, though, had to go through a bit of an ordeal to change their natural color. The treatment of choice was pigeon droppings.

In the Middle Ages Blond hair continued to be admired, and the favored medieval bleaching formulas included henna, gorse flowers, saffron, eggs, and calf kidneys.

In the 15th century, both men and women strove to achieve blond hair by either using a bleach or saffron or onion skin dye, or, in the case of Italian women, by sitting for hours in a crownless hat in the sun.

During the Renaissance, blonde hair became so much de rigour in Venice that a brunette was not to be seen except among the working classes. Venetian women spent hours dyeing and burnishing their hair until they achieved the harsh metallic glitter that was considered a necessity.

Machiavelli stated that the preferred standard for women should be long, blonde, flowing hair as by this time the colour was thought to be angelic.


Blondes became the rage in the 1930s as movie stars Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard, and Jean Harlow inspired women to bleach or dye their hair and pluck their eyebrows pencil-thin.  Meanwhile little girls were having their hair curled or permanently waved to look like Shirley Temple. 

Anita Loos, the author of the novel and play Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, wrote a sequel entitled But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes.

Only one in fifty of the world's population is blonde.

One in fourteen women in America is a natural blonde. Only one in sixteen men is.

About one-third of British women may look as if they are blonde, but in fact only 3 per cent are naturally so.


Strawberry blonde is the rarest type of blonde hair.

Blondes have a higher level of estrogen than brunette or red-haired women.

Sources Inventors.about.com, Cool Trivia, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.

Blog

Blogs started in the USA in 1997.

There are more than 181 million blogs.

Two thirds of bloggers are male.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Blinking

Blinking keeps eyes safe from potentially damaging stimuli, such as bright lights and foreign bodies like dust.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

A blink lasts approximately three seconds.

The normal rate of blinking is 15-20 times a minute. However people blink less while lying, and up to eight times faster than usual afterwards.

You blink about 84,000,000 times a year.

If all the time our eyes are shut when blinking is added together, we would spend 1.2 years of our walking lives in pitch darkness.

Our eyes are closed for roughly 10% of our waking hours overall because we blink so much.

The average computer user only blinks seven times a minute when in front of their screen.

In “Silence of the Lambs”, Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) never blinks.


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Blindness

An Ancient Egyptian cure for blindness was to pour mashed-up pig's eye into the patient's ear.




Galileo became totally blind shortly before his death.

At the turn of the 20th century blindness was a forbidden subject in women's magazines because so many cases were related to venereal disease. However after the deaf, blind and mute American student Helen Keller graduated with honors from Radcliffe College in 1904, she began writing about the subject. 

Helen Keller


In 1905, an eye surgeon called Eduard Zirm from the small town of Olmutz in Moravia pioneered corneal grafting. This was the first successful human transplant procedure and it meant that many were able to have their sight restored to their diseased or damaged eyes.

The first guide dog training schools were established in Germany during World War I to enhance the mobility of returning veterans who were blinded in combat. 

A blind man is assisted by a guide dog in Brasília, Brazil. By Antonio Cruz/Abr - Agência Brasil [1], CC BY 3.0 Wikipedia Commons

Buddy, the first Seeing Eye dog in the US, was presented to Morris S. Frank on April 25, 1928. 

Jimmy Doolittle performed the first blind aircraft flight from Mitchel Field on Long Island in 1929 proving that full instrument flying from take off to landing is possible.

On March 6, 2010 a blind hiker set on the Appalachian trail with a goal to inspire other visually impaired people. Seven months later, he finished hiking the 1,700 miles using only a cellphone, GPS open-source software, and hearing to locate camps, trailheads, and water sites.

Kiwi birds are blind, they hunt only by smell. 


There are over 1,200 species of bat in the world, and not one of them is blind.

Approximately 70,000 people in the U.S. are both blind and deaf.


Blind people smile like everyone else, even though they've never seen anyone else smile. It's just a natural human expression.

Children who are born blind will cover their eyes when they hear bad news.

If you go blind in one eye, you only lose about one fifth of your vision, but all your sense of depth. 


Red is the last color to go and the first to return when people lose and regain their eyesight.

All babies are color blind when they are born.

All mammals, except man and monkey are color blind.

Source Greatfacts.

Battle of Blenheim

On August 13, 1704, during the War of the Spanish Succession, the armies of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, and Prince Eugene of Savoy, defeated the Franco-Bavarian force in the Battle of Blenheim, ending French dominance of Europe.

The opposing forces were almost equal. French marshals Tallard and Marsin commanded 60,000. The Duke of Marlborough had 56,000. But, as the attacker, he also faced far heavier losses. Marlborough lost 5,000 killed and 8,000 wounded, mostly from Prince Eugene's difficult struggles. Tallard lost 12,000 dead and 14,000 wounded, almost half of the forces he had committed.


The first dispatch from the Duke of Marlborough announcing his victory at Bleinheim after 17 hours in the saddle, was written on the back of a tavern bill. It said "Let the Queen know, her army has had a glorious victory."

Duke of Marlborough signing the Despatch at Blenheim by Robert Alexander Hillingford.


Marshal Tallard, the commander of French troops at the Battle of Blenheim, was captured by English troops and later taken to England where he was imprisoned until being repatriated in 1711.

Source http://www.trivia-library.com/a/war-of-spanish-succession-battle-of-blenhein.htm

Blenheim Palace

The 7-acre Blenheim Mansion in Oxfordshire, Vanburgh's massive baroque attempt to emulate Versailles grandeur, was granted in recognition of John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough’s victory at the Battle of Bleinheim. In all £250,000 of the total building cost of £300,000 was defrayed by parliament.

The actual building of the Palace was not trouble free. The first problem was that the Duchess did not want such a grand residence. She hoped for a smaller country house designed for comfort first and status second. She had many arguments with the architect Vanbrugh until Vanbrugh resigned.

Sarah, the First Duchess, being a strong willed woman unfortunately fell out of favour with the Queen. Court intrigue made the most of this and for a short while the Marlboroughs were forced into exile to Europe in 1712 due to charges of embezzlement. Building of the Palace came to a halt  and eventually the Palace was completed at the Duke’s own expense.

The greatest impact on Blenheim was made by the 9th Duke. He created the formal gardens to east and west of the Palace, restored the Great Court and replanted the entrance avenue and the Grand Avenue. In total he had half million trees planted in the Park. Inside the house the 9th Duke was responsible for a complete redecoration of the State Rooms. He also added extensively to the collection at Blenheim particularly the furniture.

In the twentieth century during the both World Wars the dukes allowed Blenheim Palace to be used in various ways for the war effort. During the First World War it was converted into a hospital in order to nurse wounded soldiers.

The most famous member of the family was Sir Winston Churchill who was born at Blenheim and spent a considerable amount of time at the Palace. Winston was the grandson of the 7th duke. He was a close friend of the 9th Duke and Duchess.


Queen Elizabeth II still owns the land which Blenheim is built on and she still gets paid rent. However the only payment that is required is a Blenheim Flag.

Bleinheim Palace has 187 rooms.

 Blenheim Palace is the only building in England other than royal buildings to be honored with the title of 'Palace'.

The surrounding trees are planted in groups to represent the Battle of Bleinheim.


Sources Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999, http://www.blenheimpalace.com/thepalace/history.html

Blender

Stephen Poplawski was the first in 1922 to put a spinning blade at the bottom of a container and thus invent the blender. He used his appliance to make soda fountain drinks.

The 'Waring Blender' (Originally spelled 'Blendor') was patented in 1937. It was one of the earliest commercially successful blenders. The most unusual thing about it is it is named after orchestra leader Fred Waring. Frederick Osius worked on improving inventor Poplawski's blender, and went to Waring for financial backing. Waring backed its development, in part so he could puree raw vegetables for the ulcer diet his doctors prescribed. Waring also delighted in most new inventions.

The Waring Blender (originally called the Miracle Mixer) debuted in 1937 and sold for $29.75. By 1954 one million Waring Blendors had been sold.

The Waring Blender was used by Dr. Jonas Salk in his laboratory while he was working on the Salk Polio Vaccine.

An industrial food processor was invented by Pierre Verdon in 1971. His  Le Magi-Mix was a compact household version of his own earlier restaurant-scaled Robot-Coupe. Two years later, Carl Sontheimer, an American engineer and inventor developed the household Cuisinart food processor, which was a refined version of Pierre Verdon’s industrial blender.

Source http://www.foodreference.com/html/fblenders.html

Bleach

Both natural and synthetic pigments usually possess highly complex molecules, the colour property often being due to only a part of the molecule. Bleaches usually attack only that small part, yielding another substance similar in chemical structure but colourless. 

Sunlight is the oldest known bleaching agent. The ancient Hebrews and Egyptians dipped their fabrics in water and set them out in the sun to bleach.

During the time of King Louis XIV and Queen Elizabeth I, people bleached their hair with lye (sodium hydroxide). Understandably, that caused their hair to fall out, so wigs started appearing.

Bleaching powder was introduced in 1799 by the Scottish chemist Charles Tennant. It was easier and safer to use on fabrics than the chlorine gas it replaced.

Household bleach is the recommended chemical to decontaminate people exposed to the anthrax virus, by the U.S. F.D.A.

Source Inventors.about.com

Blazer

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Englishmen's clothes were somber and subdued. The only exceptions were university students who proudly displayed their college "colours." Even these, to begin with, in gentlemanly fashion, were rather inconspicuous. Unsurprisingly, people were stunned, when one day they saw the crew rowing for the Lady Margaret, St John's College, Cambridge Boating Club, clad in bright red flannel jackets. Seen from afar, the men seemed "ablaze," and these jackets were termed "blazers." The name stuck and is now applied to all similar jackets no matter of which colour.

Striped blazers became popular among British Mods in the early 1960s, and again during the Mod revival of the late 1970s — particularly in three-colour thick/thin stripe combinations, with three-button single breasted front, five or six inch side or centre vents and sleeve-cuffs with multi-buttons.

By the late 2000's the blazer had been adopted as a popular fashion trend amongst females, often having shorter lengths, rolled up sleeves, various lapels, and bright colors.

Two sporting events where blazers signify victory are the Congressional Cup Regatta at the Long Beach Yacht Club, and the Masters Golf tournament, held in Augusta, Georgia. The former event awards a crimson blazer to the winner of several flights of match race sailing, while the latter awards a green blazer to the top masters golfer in the USA.

Sources Europress Encyclopedia, Wikipedia

Blasphemy

A 20-year-old Scottish student from Edinburgh, Thomas Aikenhead, was the last person in Britain to be executed for blasphemy.  He was prosecuted for denying the veracity of the Old Testament and the legitimacy of Christ's miracles. Aikenhead was hanged for the crime on January 8, 1697 and was said to have died Bible in hand, "with all the marks of a true penitent".


The 1989 film Visions of Ecstasy was the only film ever banned in the UK for blasphemy. Following the 2008 repeal of the blasphemy law, the film was eventually classified by the BBFC for release as 18-rated in 2012.

In some countries, blasphemy is not a crime. In the United States of America, for example, a prosecution for blasphemy would violate the Constitution according to the decision in Joseph Burstyn, Inc v. Wilson. The United Kingdom abolished its laws in England and Wales against blasphemy in 2008.

Some countries, especially countries which have Islam as the state religion, regard blasphemy as a serious offence. Pakistan, for example, has legislation which makes execution a penalty for blasphemy.

Reuters (File Photo)

The Quran and the hadith do not mention blasphemy. According to Pakistani religious scholar, Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, nothing in Islam supports blasphemy law. Rather, Muslim jurists made the offense part of Sharia; the penalties for blasphemy can include fines, imprisonment, flogging, amputation, hanging, or beheading.


Blanket

The term arose from the generalization of a specific fabric called Blanket fabric, a heavily napped woolen weave pioneered by Thomas Blanket (Blanquette), a Flemish weaver who lived in Bristol, England in the 14th century.

Blankets were traditionally made of wool because of wool's warmth, breathability and natural fire-retardant properties. Nowadays, synthetic fibers are frequently used.

The first electric blanket was invented in 1912 by American physician Sidney I. Russell. This earliest form of an electric blanket was an ‘underblanket’ under the bed that covered and heated from below.

Linus' security blanket made its debut in the Peanuts comic strip in 1954.

A fire blanket is made of fire-resistant material such as fiberglass and is used in smothering a fire. Firefighters often wear specialized variants of the fire blanket to protect themselves as well.

In Pennsylvania there is a law that says: "Any motorist who sights a team of horses coming toward him must pull well off the road, cover his car with a blanket or canvas that blends with the countryside, and let the horses pass. If the horses appear skittish, the motorist must take his car apart piece by piece, and hide it under the nearest bushes."

The world's largest blanket was unveiled at Alton Towers in England on May 27, 2015. The giant polar fleece blanket measuring a total 98.80 m2 (1063.474 ft2) is made of red fleece material, blue stitching and clear thread, It took the team eight days to complete and can easily cover a total of 56 standard children’s beds.

Igglepiggle, from hit CBeebies' series In the Night Garden, unveiled the world’s largest polar fleece blanket 

On February 10, 2017, the U.S. Court of International Trade officially ruled that the Snuggie is a blanket, not a garment.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

William Blake

William Blake was born at 28 Broad Street (now Broadwick St) in the Soho district of London on November 28, 1757. William's father, James Blake, was a non conformist who owned a clothing shop and was not rich. His mother was Catherine Wright Armitage Blake.

William was the third son of seven children, two of whom died in infancy. Dearest to his heart was his younger brother, Robert, who died very young in 1787.

A visionary from early childhood, at the age of four the Almighty peered at William through a window and made him cry. Once he told his parents he had seen a tree full of angels and the prophet Ezekiel, which angered his father who thought his son a liar.

As a child he wanted to be a painter and by the age of 12, William was diligently collecting prints.

William barely went to school, (only enough to lean to read and write) and was otherwise educated at home by his mother.

William began engraving copies of drawings of Greek antiquities at ten years old, a practice that was then preferred to real-life drawing. Four years later he became apprenticed to James Basire of Great Queen Street, London. After two years Basire sent him to draw the monuments in the old churches of London, a task that he thoroughly enjoyed.

In the long afternoons Blake spent sketching in Westminster Abbey, during his apprenticeship to James Basire he was occasionally interrupted by the boys of Westminster School, one of whom "tormented" Blake so much one afternoon that he knocked the boy off a scaffold to the ground, "upon which he fell with terrific Violence".

At the age of twenty-one Blake finished his apprenticeship and studied briefly at the Royal Academy whilst setting himself up as a professional engraver. While the terms of his study required no payment, he was expected to supply his own materials. Throughout his time there, Blake rebelled against the aesthetic doctrines of its president, Sir Joshua Reynolds, an advocate of what he regarded as the unfinished style of fashionable painters such as Rubens. Blake preferred to draw from his imagination.

Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions and openly wore the red revolutionary bonnet in the streets.

For some mystical reason Blake was not fond of soap - his wife contended that his skin not only did not attract dirt, but positively repelled it.

The first time Blake met pretty Catherine Boucher, the daughter of a Chelsea market gardener, the conviction that this was the man she must marry so overwhelmed her that she fainted. She was a visionary too. Blake, meanwhile was recovering from a relationship that had culminated in a refusal of his marriage proposal. He recounted the story of his heartbreak for Catherine and her parents, after which he asked Catherine, "Do you pity me?" When she responded affirmatively, he declared, "Then I love you."

At the age of 25 William married the illiterate Catherine, who was five years his junior, on August 18, 1782 in St. Mary's Church, Battersea, London. After the wedding she signed the register with a cross as she couldn't write her name.

Pencil drawing by George Richmond of Catherine Blake

There were early problems, in their marriage such as Catherine's illiteracy and the couple's failure to produce children. At one point, in accordance with the beliefs of the Swedenborgian Society, Blake suggested bringing in a concubine. Catherine was distressed at the idea, and he dropped it. Later Blake taught his wife to read and write.

Whilst William engraved words and pictures on copper printing plates, Catherine made the printing impressions, hand coloured the pictures and bound the books. She cooked for him and made his clothes never complaining. He was faithful to her despite writing about sexual energy and polygamy and their marriage remained a close and devoted one until his death.

If Catherine thought her William was spending too much time with his angels and not enough earning his daily bread at meal time she would place an empty plate at his end of the table.

Blake's collections of poetry included:
1789 Songs of Innocence, which eloquently explored issues of divine love. Unable to find a publisher for Songs of Innocence, Blake and his wife engraved and printed them at home.
1794 Songs of Experience, which considered the nature of evil.


William Blake by Thomas Phillips


Blake did all his publishing for his poetry in picture books, even making his own ink, hand-printing the pages and getting Mrs Blake to sew on the covers.

Blake's poetry in picture books featured his great innovative art form, which he called "Illuminated Printing". Blake wrote his texts in reverse and illustrated them on metal plates through a method of relief etching. The pages were then printed and colored before being bound. His precise method is not known. The most likely explanation is that he wrote the words and drew the pictures for each poem on a copper plate, using some liquid impervious to acid, which, when applied, left the text and illustration in relief. Ink or color wash was then applied, and the printed picture was finished by hand in water-colors.

Whenever he had the chance Blake would sing his poetry to friends and his wife. Instruments of the day included the church pump organ.

Blake's poetry in picture books did not sell well in his day and his Songs of Innocence earned him little. Neither were his unusual paintings popular. He was considered by many to have been insane and merely an interesting oddity. On the few occasions when critics did notice him, it was because they suspected he was mad. he was known as a lunatic.

Blake helped Thomas Paine escape to France when his Rights of Man was deemed too inflammatory in a revolutionary climate.



Blake lived at Felpham, West Sussex at what is now Blake House 1800-1803. It was a damp, thatched cottage which he rented for £20 a year. It is still a private residence.

Taken from his preface to his long poem, MiltonJerusalem was one of the most complicated works Blake ever wrote. A hymn of spiritual power and sexual liberty, Blake wrote Jerusalem whilst living in Felpham, despite the fact there are very few dark, satanic mills in that nick of the woods.

Blake's poem Jerusalem was set to music in 1916 by Charles Parry to beef up British morale during the bleakest days of the First World War. Despite the unorthodox theology of the words it is now one of the most popular hymns in the English language and many of the English population would like this to replace God Save The Queen as their national anthem.

During his time at Felpham, Blake was charged with high treason. He'd been overheard by a soldier in his garden uttering such seditious expressions as "D—n the King, d—n all his subjects" and he would "fight for Napoleon sooner than England." Blake maintained that ”the whole accusation is a wilful Perjury“. Found not guilty but a time of great fear for Blake, he felt his whole work was on trial.

The Non-conformist mystic wanted to escape from puritanical repressive Christianity and had contempt for organized religion. Blake believed that England had a special relationship with God, having accepted the myth that Christianity had been established at Glastonbury almost in Christ’s own lifetime, by his follower Joseph of Arimethea, and that as the Jews have failed him, God replaced them with the English as his “chosen people.”

At weekly dinners Blake met the leading radicals and freethinkers of his age, including Wollstonecraft, Richard Price, Joseph Priestley, William Godwin, Henry Fuseli, and Thomas Paine. He espoused savage anarchy and also peace and love and was an anti monarchist.

Though Blake's vast output of visionary art and poetry is revered now, in his own time they were regarded as convincing evidence of insanity. "There is no doubt this poor man was mad, but there is something, in the madness of this man which interest me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott," said Wordsworth said of the "cockney nutcase".

At the end of his life Blake enjoyed a little success, particularly with his Bible illustrations when Samuel Palmer and his coterie looked to him as a guru figure for their movement, "The Ancients". He sold a number of works to Thomas Butts, a patron who saw Blake more as a friend in need than an artist. Geoffrey Keynes, a biographer, described Butts as, "a dumb admirer of genius, which he could see but not quite understand." Dumb or not, we have him to thank for eliciting and preserving so many works.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Blake was recognized as the genius he was.

Blake died on August 12, 1827 in London. He was buried at Bunhill Fields in the East End where traditionally the Non Conformists were laid to rest.

Monument near Blake's unmarked grave at Bunhill Fields in London

Here's a list of songs inspired by the works of William Blake.

Tony Blair

Tony Blair  was born in Edinburgh, Scotland  to Leo and Hazel Blair on May 6, 1953. His father, the illegitimate son of two English actors, had been adopted as a baby by Glasgow shipyard worker James Blair and his wife, Mary. His mother was the daughter of George Corscadden, a butcher and Orangeman.

Blair boarded at Fettes Colleges, a prestigious independent school in Edinburgh. His teachers were unimpressed with him, his biographer John Rentoul, reported that "All the teachers I spoke to when researching the book said he was a complete pain in the backside and they were very glad to see the back of him."

Blair was arrested at Fettes, having been mistaken for a burglar as he climbed into his dormitory using a ladder after having been out late.

Blair sung and played guitar in a band called Ugly Rumours while at university.

After graduating from Oxford in 1975 with a Second Class Honours BA in Jurisprudence, Blair became a member of Lincolns Inn, enrolled as a pupil barrister.

As a barrister, Blair once represented employers in a battle to deny female factory workers holiday pay.

He met his future wife, Cherie Blair at the law chambers founded by Derry Irvine (who was to be Blair's first Lord Chancellor).

Blair married Cherie Booth, a Roman Catholic and future Queens Counsel, on March 29, 1980. She is the daughter of the actor, Tony Booth.

Blair with wife, Cherie Booth, touring the Amber Room during a visit to Russia, 2003

They have four children: Euan, Nicholas, Kathryn, and Leo. All four children have Irish passports, by virtue of Blair's mother Hazel.

On May 20, 2000 Tony Blair became the first sitting Prime Minister in over 150 years.to father a child when Cherie gave birth to their youngest son Leo.

Blair joined the Labour Party shortly after graduating from Oxford in 1975. In 1983, Blair found the newly created constituency of Sedgefield, a notionally safe Labour seat near where he had grown up in Durham. He was elected as MP for Sedgefield that year despite the party's landslide defeat in the general election.

He was chosen as leader of the Labour Party following the death of John Smith on July 21, 1994.

On May 1, 1997 the voters of the United Kingdom dispatched the Conservative Party into opposition after 18 years in power and replaced it with the Labour Party and a new Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Her was 43 year 11 months and 5 days when he became Prime Minister, the youngest tenant of Number 10 since Robert Banks Jenkinson, Earl of Liverpool who was appointed in 1812, when he was 42 years, 1 day.
Tony Blair in Saint Petersburg


Blair won his third general election in 2005. By then he was the Labour Party's longest-serving Prime Minister and the only person to have led the party to three consecutive general election victories.

Tony Blair resigned as British Prime Minister on June 27, 2007 and on the same day took up the appointment of the official Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East.

Blair has had his political views motivated by his Christian beliefs and was possibly the most devout British Prime Minister since Gladstone. A High Church Anglican, he frequently attended Catholic services with his equally devout Roman Catholic wife, Cherie. 

On 22 December 2007, it was disclosed that Blair had converted to the Catholic faith, and that it was "a private matter."

On standing down as prime minister in 2007, he became a Middle East special envoy for the ‘Quartet’ – the USA, European Union, Russia, and the United Nations.

50th Munich Security Conference 2014: Tony Blair: 

All things to all men Tony Blair told a Labour Party magazine that his favorite food is fish and chips and the Islington Cookbook that it is “fresh fettuccine garnished with olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes and capers.”

AS Prime Minister, Tony Blair earned £163,000 - more than any of his successors. Gordon Brown reduced his salary to £ 150,000, and David Cameron took a 5 per cent pay cut, earning £142,500.

On Desert Island Discs Tony Blair chose a guitar as his luxury item.

Sources Wikipedia, Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

Dr Elizabeth Blackwell

On January 23, 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910), became the first woman to qualify as a doctor of medicine in America when she was awarded her M.D. by the Geneva Medical College of Geneva, New York. After graduating, Dr. Blackwell traveled to Paris to undertake advanced studies. However, she was rejected from many hospitals due to her gender and she was unable to pursue her medical exams. The only option was to enter a large maternity hospital as a student midwife, where she fell sick resulting in the loss of sight in one eye.

Portrait of Elizabeth Blackwell by Joseph Stanley Kozlowski, 1905. Syracuse University Medical School collection

After convalescence, she went to London, where she was permitted to continue her studies. On her return to New York City in 1853, Dr. Blackwell was not permitted to practice in any of the hospitals she applied to, so she started the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, aided by her sister Emily who had also passed her medical exams. They trained Union Army nurses during the Civil War then together they founded a medical college for women in her hospital.



The next year Dr. Blackwell moved to England where she spent the remainder of her life teaching and working to increase medical opportunities there for women. Back in 1859 she had placed her name on the new British Medical Register, thus becoming Europe’s first modern female doctor.

Dr. Blackwell was commemorated on a U.S. postage stamp in 1974 (see below), designed by Joseph Stanley Kozlowski. 


Antoinette Blackwell

Antoinette Blackwell (1825-1921) was inspired by evangelical revivals to enroll at the Presbyterian Oberlin College and study theology, but as a woman she was refused a degree and ordination. After lecturing on women's rights and occasionally preaching at progressive churches, she was appointed in 1853 pastor by the First Congregational Church in South Butler, New York, thus becoming the first woman minister in an established Protestant denomination. However due to theological disagreements she resigned after less than a year and later joined the Unitarian church.

One of Antoinette Blackwell’s sister in laws was Elizabeth Blackwell, the first British woman doctor and the first woman to gain a medical degree anywhere.  

Blacksmith

Legend has it that when listening to the sounds made by a blacksmith striking his anvil, Pythagoras was led to a perception of the relationship between arithmetic ratios and harmonic intervals in music.

Viking blacksmiths would often add bones from ancestors or animals like bears to their iron ore to add carbon content, and to imbue the weapon with mystical properties.

The medieval Italian poet Dante Alighieri once smashed up the workshop of a blacksmith whom he heard singing his poems as he worked, but muddling up the words.

The world’s first pedal bicycle was made by a Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillan (d 1878) of Keir Mill, Dumfriesshire in 1839. His novel design for the first time enabled cyclists to ride with both their feet continuously off the ground. The popular bicycle of the time, the Hobby Horse, only provided momentum through the swinging of the riders feet back and forth.

Coal forges in a blacksmith's workshop reach temperatures of roughly 1,600 C.

The opposite of a blacksmith is a whitesmith, a smith who works with lighter-colored metals, particularly tin.

Sources Whaleoil.co.nz, Europress Encyclopedia

Blackcurrant

During World War II, a lot of fruits high in vitamin C were becoming increasingly unavailable in the UK. In turn, the British government started encouraging the growth of blackcurrants by home gardeners, since they are incredibly high in vitamin C and were well suited to the British climate.

Blackcurrants were once grown in abundance in the USA as well, but in the early 1900’s it was banned federally due to the belief that blackcurrants helped facilitate white pine blister rust, which was once thought of as a threat the US lumber industry. In 1966 the ban was transferred to State status and several states have now lifted the ban. However, the ban is still in effect in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.

Like most berries blackcurrants contain a wealth of bioflavonoids and anthocyanidins, which are some of the most powerful anti-oxidants known to mankind.


Blackcurrants are one of the best sources of Vitamin C which is essential in fighting infections and breaking down mucus, so these little berries are excellent for winter colds and generally helping to boost the immune system.

They are also anti-bacterial and can be very useful in tackling bouts of diarrhoea caused by foreign bacteria, as they help to neutralise such 'unfriendly' bacteria.

More than 90% of all the blackcurrants grown in Britain go into the Ribena soft fruit drink.

Soutces Juicemaster.comMyfolia.com

Blackbird

It may not immediately be clear why the name "Blackbird", first recorded in 1486, was applied to this species, but not to one of the various other common black English birds, such as the Raven, Rook or Jackdaw. However, in Old English, and in modern English up to about the 18th century, "bird" was used only for smaller or young birds, and larger ones such as crows were called "fowl". At that time, the Blackbird was therefore the only widespread and conspicuous "black bird" in the British Isles.

The Common Blackbird is 23.5 to 29 centimetres (9.25 to 11.4 in) in length, has a long tail, and weighs 80–125 grammes (2.8 to 4.4 oz).

The male common blackbird is all black except for a yellow eye-ring and bill. The adult female and juvenile have mainly dark brown plumage.

The Common Blackbird breeds in temperate Eurasia, North Africa, the Canary Islands, and South Asia. It was introduced to Australia at Melbourne in the 1850s, but has expanded from its initial foothold in Melbourne and Adelaide to occur throughout south-eastern Australia, including Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands.

The Common Blackbird has an extensive range, estimated at 10 million square kilometres (3.8 million square miles), and a large population, including an estimated 79 to 160 million individuals in Europe alone.

The male Common Blackbird defends its breeding territory, chasing away other males or utilising a "bow and run" threat display. This consists of a short run, the head first being raised and then bowed with the tail dipped simultaneously. If a fight between male Blackbirds does occur, it is usually short and the intruder is soon chased away.

The male Common Blackbird attracts the female with a courtship display which consists of oblique runs combined with head-bowing movements, an open beak, and a "strangled" low song. The female remains motionless until she raises her head and tail to permit copulation. This species is monogamous, and the established pair will usually stay together as long as they both survive.


Blackbirds lay between three and six eggs. They each take 11-17 days to hatch.

A Common Blackbird has an average life expectancy of 2.4 years, and, based on data from bird ringing, the oldest recorded age is 21 years and 10 months.

The Common Blackbird is omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects, earthworms, seeds and berries. It feeds mainly on the ground, running and hopping with a start-stop-start progress. It pulls earthworms from the soil, usually finding them by sight, but sometimes by hearing, and roots through leaf litter for other invertebrates. Small vertebrates such as frogs, tadpoles and lizards are occasionally hunted. This species will also perch in bushes to take berries and collect caterpillars and other active insects.

As with other passerine birds, parasites are common. 88% of Common Blackbirds were found to have intestinal parasites, most frequently Isospora and Capillaria species.


Blackbirds can be found breeding in every European country except Iceland. 

The blackbird is the most common breeding bird in Britain, with about six million pairs.

The Common Blackbird is the national bird of Sweden, which has a breeding population of 1–2 million pairs.

Paul McCartney wrote the Beatles song "Blackbird" about the civil rights struggle for blacks after reading about race riots in the US. He penned it in his kitchen in Scotland not long after Little Rock, when the federal courts forced the racial desegregation of the Arkansas capital's school system. McCartney told Mojo magazine October 2008: "We were totally immersed in the whole saga which was unfolding. So I got the idea of using a blackbird as a symbol for a black person. It wasn't necessarily a black 'bird', but it works that way, as much as then you called girls 'birds'; the Everlys had had Bird Dog, so the word 'bird' was around. 'Take these broken wings' was very much in my mind, but it wasn't exactly an ornithological ditty; it was purposely symbolic."

Sourced Daily Express, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Blackbird