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Monday, 25 June 2012

Saint Benedict of Nursia

Benedict (480-547) was born into a distinguished Christian family who loved each other tenderly. All we know of his father was that he was a Roman Noble.

He was educated at home before being sent to Rome to study. Once there, the sight of the disorderliness of his fellow students made him fear they would influence him to turn to sin. He fled at the age of 15 without completing his studies to a cave in mountains of Subiaco.

Whilst living as a hermit for three years in his cave Benedict had bread lowered to him in a basket attached to a rope by Romanus, a monk living at one of the numerous monasteries nearby.

After three years in the cave, the fame of Benedict's virtues reached some monks whose abbot had just died and they insisted that he become his successor. Though Benedict remained in the cave, more and more disciples placed themselves under his guidance. Eventually he established an abbey at Vicovano to house the growing number of his followers. It was the first of twelve monasteries in the Subiaco he built for them, each of twelve monks.

The monks at Vicouano Monastery rebelled against the strict regime Benedict had imposed on them and arranged for poisoned bread to be given to him. However, a raven that daily used to come to him from the next wood, flew forward and tore the piece of bread away from the saint thus saving the life of his master.

Benedict built his first monastery, the source of the Benedictine Order,  in 529 at Monte Cassino, a rocky hill about 80 miles southeast of Rome. It was on the site of an ancient temple dedicated to the god Apollo.

Monte Cassino was so strongly built that weeks of bombardment by the allies during the Second World War could not destroy it. It is now a museum and picture gallery.

Once established at Monte Cassino, Benedict never left. There he wrote the Benedictine Rule. The rule encouraged monks to participate in manual labour and studying, a novel idea at the time, but a monument of wisdom that became the founding principle for western monastacism.

Benedict liked paintings to have straight lines as straight lines reach God more easily.

Ben's beloved twin sister, Scholastica, became a nun and leader of a community for women at Plombariola, about five miles from Benedict's abbey at Monte Cassino. They used to meet up once a year. On the appointed day Scholastica went to Monte Cassino. Benedict came to meet her; they passed some hours together in a guest house of the abbey and ate together, then each went their own way.

A few weeks after the death of his beloved sister Scholastica, Benedict had her tomb opened as he wished to be laid to rest beside her. He was then without warning taken with a violent fever. The dying Benedict was carried into the chapel at Monte Cassino by his fellow Benedictines where he received communion before he drew his last breath standing erect supported by his disciples.

During the post war restoration of the Abbey at Mount Cassino an urn was discovered which is said to contain the remains of Benedict and Scholastica.

In 1964 Benedict was appointed Patron Saint of Europe. His emblems include a broken cup and a raven.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Ben Hur

Lew Wallace (1827-1905), the Governor of the New Mexico Territory decided to write a book that would explode once and for all the supposedly absurd claims of Jesus Christ. After researching his material he began writing only to find he couldn’t go any further as it contradicted his original thesis denying Christ is the Son of God. So he converted his book into a novel, whose primary purpose was to support the claims of Jesus. The novel’s title was Ben Hur, and it became the best selling American novel of the nineteenth century, surpassing Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and it had the honor of being the first work of fiction to be blessed by a Pope.

Ben & Jerry's

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, creator of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, first met in a junior High gym class at Merrick Avenue Middle School in New York.  The two were both lagging behind while running, which caused the gym teacher to yell at them.  From there, the two became best friends.

Ben & Jerry originally considered getting into the bagel business, but the equipment was too expensive. Their plan was to deliver bagels, lox, cream cheese, and the New York Times on Sunday mornings.

On May 5, 1978, with a $12,000 investment Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened an ice cream parlor in a renovated gas station in downtown Burlington, Vermont.

In 1983, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was used to build “the world’s largest ice cream sundae” in St. Albans, Vermont; the sundae weighed 27,102 pounds (12,293 kg).

Jerry of Ben & Jerry's has never come up with an ice cream flavor.

Ben and Jerry's sends the waste from making ice cream to local pig farmers to use as feed. Pigs love the stuff, except for one flavor: Mint Oreo.

Ben & Jerry's employees get to take home three free pints of ice cream every single day. They also get free gym membership.

Each Ben & Jerry Waffle Cone has an average of 259 little squares.

Ben and Jerry's used to have a policy that no employee could make more than five times what the lowest paid worker was paid.

Jerry Greenfield (left) and Ben Cohen (right) in 2010.

Ben & Jerry's get about 13,000 flavor suggestions a year.

Ben & Jerry's has a "flavor graveyard" where there are tombstones for earlier flavors that are no longer sold.

Ben Cohen has no sense of smell and gets his "food enjoyment" from texture. This is why the brand puts chunky ingredients in their ice cream.

Ben & Jerry's operates nowadays globally as a subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch Unilever conglomerate. Its headquarters is in South Burlington, Vermont, with its main factory in Waterbury, Vermont.

Belly Button

Your belly button (also known as the navel) is formed from scar tissue left over from the umbilical cord that connected you to your mother’s placenta.

Back in the day of the Egyptian pharaoh, only the pharaoh was allowed a belly button piercing.  If anyone else got on they would be executed.

Alfred Hitchcock was born with a belly button but at some point in his life it was surgically removed. During one of the many operations done on the British director's stomach, a doctor stretched skin over the area where the belly button used to be.

Because of TV censorship, actress Mariette Hartley was not allowed to show her belly button on Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek episode All Our Yesterdays in 1969 but later Roddenberry got even when he gave Hartley "two" belly buttons in the sci-fi movie Genesis II (1973).

Cher became the first actress to reveal her belly button on TV in 1975, when her navel was seen during an episode of The Cher Show.

You can tell twins apart by looking at their belly buttons, which are scars and not determined by genetics.

The average man has 1.8 milligrams of belly button lint in his navel at any given time.

Australian Graham Barker was officially recognized in November 2000 for possessing the largest collection of belly button lint, earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Barker had collected 22.1 grams of navel lint over a sixteen year period, filling three large bottles.

The belly button of a blue whale is about 8 inches wide.

Animals that lay eggs don't have belly buttons.


Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow (1915-2005) decided to be a writer when he first read Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.

As a young man, Bellow went to Mexico City to meet Leon Trotsky, but the expatriate Russian revolutionary was assassinated the day before they were to meet.

Bellow is the first and to date only writer to win three National Book Awards (U.S.), for his novels The Adventures of Augie March (1954), Herzog (1965), and Mr. Sammler's Planet (1971).

Saul Bellow’s daughter, with Janis Bellow, Naomi Rose, was born when he was 84 years old. Janis, was in her early 40s.

Bellow said that of all his characters Eugene Henderson, of Henderson the Rain King, was the one most like himself.

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 3, 1847. The family home was at 16 South Charlotte Street.

He was born Alexander Bell (1847-1922) in Edinburgh, Scotland and later adopted the middle name Graham out of admiration for Alexander Graham, a family friend. To close relatives and friends he remained "Aleck" which his father continued to call him into later life.

Bell's father was a specialist in deaf children's education who invented "visible speech", a method of phonetic notation for deaf mutes.

His mother, Eliza Grace (née Symonds), began to lose her hearing when he was 12 and Alexander learned a manual finger language so he could sit at her side and tap out silently the conversations swirling around the family parlour.

Bell's school record was undistinguished, marked by absenteeism and lacklustre grades. His main interest remained in the sciences, especially biology, while he treated other school subjects with indifference, to the dismay of his demanding father.

As a boy Alexander had attacks of what his mother called “musical fever”. Listening to music affected him so deeply, he couldn't sleep leaving him with a headache in the morning.

At the age of 11 Bell invented a device for separating wheat from its husk and when still in his teens, the precocious youngster made a talking doll that said "mama"; so convincing was it that his neighbours began hunting for an abandoned baby.

Throughout late 1867, Bell's health faltered mainly through exhaustion. His father had also suffered a debilitating illness earlier in life and had been restored to health by a convalescence in Newfoundland, so his family moved from London to the fresh air of Canada from London for the sake of their one remaining son's health.

Bell often suffered from a splitting headache in the morning. Because of this he normally lied in until after 9.00, or if he had an early morning appointment, the Scot stayed up all night. Bell had suffered from these headaches from an early age and when he was younger his mother suggested putting cold water on his eyes, a little beer and refraining from pickles as various cures.

In 1872 he opened a private school in Boston, USA to train teachers of the deaf and the methods of visible speech that he'd learnt from his father.

Before Bell invented the telephone he designed a piano which could transmit its music to a distance by means of electricity.

Bell invented an audiometer artificial ear, which was capable of registering sounds on a sheet of glass covered in lampblack. Another invention was a sorting machine for punch coded census cards.

Before the telephone Bell developed a harmonic telegraph which meant for the first time many messages could be sent down the wire at once.

The inspiration for the telephone came when Bell was working to improve the telegram in Boston, Massachusetts. Not adept with his hands, the Scot was aided by a young repair mechanic and model maker, Thomas Watson. On June 2, 1875 Watson made a mistake, the incorrect contact of a clamping screw which was too tight changed what should have been an intermittent transmission into a continuous current. Bell at the other end of the wire heard the sound of the contacter dropping.

Bell spent the next winter making calculations and filing an application for a patent knowing a rival, Elisha Gray was working on a similar project. On February 14, 1876 a representative of Bell filed his patent for a "telephone" which is Greek for sound, at New York Patent Office at 12.00PM. The now forgotten Gray got there two hours later.

Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the patent for the electric telephone by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on March 7, 1876

Alexander Graham Bell's telephone patent[79] drawing, 

The first telephone call was made on March 10, 1876 when the clumsy Bell spilled battery acid on his trousers. He summoned his Watson over the phone. So the first intelligible words transmitted over the new electric speech machine was not "Hello its Bell ringing" but "Come here Watson, I want to see you". As Bell could have shouted this and Watson would have heard it anyway it was an inauspicious start to selling the benefits of an audio communication device.

Bell's March 10, 1876 laboratory notebook entry describing his first successful experiment with the telephone.

The telephone became the great hit of the June 1876 celebration of the Declaration of Independence when Bell recited "to be or not to be" down the phone to an excited Emperor of Brazil who was standing 150 yards away.

Alexander Graham Bell installed the world's first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on June 20, 1877.

An actor portraying Alexander Graham Bell speaking into an early model telephone.

Bell also invented the device that makes a telephone ring. A good thing he did as previously anyone making a call had to shout down the line to alert the people at the other end to pick up the receiver.

Alexander Graham Bell refused to have a phone in his study because the ringing drove him nuts.

His company, Bell Telephone Company, became one of the largest in the USA by making the art of communication more expensive than ever before in history.

The first telephone directory only had 50 names in it.

Bell at the opening of the long-distance line from New York to Chicago in 1892.

Alexander Graham Bell inaugurated the U.S. transcontinental telephone service on January 25, 1915. Calling from the AT&T head office at 15 Dey Street in New York City, he was heard by Thomas Watson at 333 Grant Avenue in San Francisco. Bell repeated his first ever words on the phone back in 1876, "Mr Watson, come here, I want to see you" as a joke.

After his successful invention of the telephone, Bell devoted the rest of his life to the education of deaf and dumb children. One of his pupils was a young woman called Helen Keller.

Another of his pupils, the deaf and mute Mabel Hubbard, was a bright, attractive girl who was ten years his junior. She became the object of Bell's affection and they married on July 11, 1877 in the Cambridge home of her parents, when she was 19 and lived together happily for 45 years.

Mabel Gardiner Hubbard with her husband Alexander Graham Bell and their daughters Elsie (left) and Marian (1885).

Two days before Alexander Graham Bell married Mabel Hubbard in 1877, he gave her 99 percent of his company shares as a wedding gift. He kept a mere ten shares for himself.

Bell created a metal detecting tool to help find the assassins' bullet in President Garfield in 1881. The device failed to work as no one had thought of removing the steel bed springs on which the president was lying. The metal sent the machine haywire, couldn't locate the bullet and Garfield died from his wounds.

The Scottish inventor had the odd habit of drinking his soup through a glass straw.

Bell helped found Science magazine in 1880 in partnership with his father in law Gardiner Hubbard.

In 1896 he succeeded his father in law as President of the National Geographic Society. Bell transformed what had began as a modest pamphlet into the world famous National Geographic Magazine. He wrote articles for the magazine under the enigmatic pseudonym of H.A. Largelamb.

Bell was a Unitarian and an Universalist. In 1901 he came across a Unitarian pamphlet and found its theology appealingly undogmatic. Alexander wrote to Mabel: "I have always considered myself as an agnostic, but I have now discovered that I am a Unitarian Agnostic."

Alexander Graham bell

Bell was connected with the eugenics movement in the United States. The Scottish inventor's hobby of livestock breeding led to his appointment to biologist David Starr Jordan's Committee on Eugenics, under the auspices of the American Breeders Association. His own investigations of race improving theories led to him developing a more prolific breed of sheep.

Fascinated by aeronautics, Bell begun experiments in 1891 to develop motor-powered heavier-than-air aircraft. His wife founded the Aerial Experimental Association, the first research organisation established by a woman, as she shared her husband's vision to fly. She advised Alexander to seek "young" help as he was at the graceful age of 60.

In 1907 Bell developed large human carrying tetrahedral celled kites and he made several other contributions in the early days of flying.

Bell's hydrofoil boat set the world water speed record in 1919 when he was 72 by reaching speeds in excess of 70 miles an hour. For many years it was the fastest boat in the world.

The term "decibel" used to denote noise volume is named after Bell.

Bell died at his Cape Breton Island estate on August 2, 1922 after a long illness. Mabel whispered to him "don't leave me". Unable to speak, Bell traced with his fingers the sign "no". It was his last word.

During his funeral service, every telephone of the Bell system was kept silent for one minute.

Bell is buried alongside his wife atop Beinn Bhreagh Mountain overlooking Bras d'Or Lake.

The 1939 film The Story of Alexander Graham Bell starred Don Ameche as the Scottish-American inventor. For a while after this film, the telephone was known by the American public as the "Ameche".

Bell’s grandson answered the very first commercial mobile phone call in 1983.

No recordings existed of Alexander Graham Bell's voice until a wax on cardboard disc was discovered in 2013. In it we hear Bell say in a Scottish-tinged accent "Hear my voice. . . . Alexander. . Graham. . Bell."


The oldest known bell, found near Babylon (in present-day Iraq), is reputed to be more than 3,000 years old. China, Japan, Burma, India, Egypt, and other ancient civilizations made use of bells in different forms so long ago that to trace their history is almost impossible.

English bells have tolled the death of every English ruler since King John died in 1216.

The Great Bell of Dhammazedi is said to have been the largest bell ever made, It was cast in 1484 by the Mon monarch, Dhammazedi, and located in Shwedagon Pagoda of Yangon, Lower Burma, but was stolen by a Portuguese warlord. The story goes that the legendary bell lies at the bottom of a fast-flowing river that's full of shipwrecks.

In the 1500s local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, "saved by the bell" or was "considered a dead ringer."

Sets of handbells tuned diatonically first appeared in England in the 17th century for practicing change ringing. By the 18th century groups of ringers had branched out into tune playing, with the bells' range having been expanded to several chromatic octaves.

Some of the bells that rang out in England when World War II ended were so old that they had sounded their notes to celebrate the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

The biggest bell is the "Tsar Kolokol" cast in the Kremlin in 1733. It weighs 220 tonnes, and stands on the ground at the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, where it fell when being hung. Alas, it cracked and has never been rung. 

The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of American independence, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The bell was commissioned in 1752, and originally called the State House Bell. It was not commonly referred to as the Liberty Bell until the mid-1800s, in coordination with the abolitionist movement.

Under the Chimney Sweepers Act 1894 in the UK, it was an offence “to solicit employment as a chimney sweep by … ringing bells”.

Russian bells differ from western bells in that, rather than being tuned to one specific note, each individual bell is crafted to sound several complete scales of different notes.

The ‘Peace Bell’ at the United Nations headquarters, New York, USA, was cast in 1952 from coins presented by 64 countries.

In the Lloyd's of London insurance market, a bell from an 18th century ship is rung once for good news, twice for bad.

"Campanology" comes from the same word as "campanile," a common name for bell towers.

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


Belgrade’s name in English translates to ‘White City.’

It is one of the oldest cities in Europe, first emerging as prehistoric Vinča in 4800 BC.

Belgrade was settled in the 3rd century BC by the Celts, before becoming the Roman settlement of Singidunum.

Throughout history, Belgrade has been a crossroads between the West and the Orient. Because of its strategic location, Belgrade has been battled over in 115 wars throughout history and razed to the ground 44 times.

The First World War began on July 28, 1914 when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The following day Belgrade was shelled by Austro-Hungarians and most of the subsequent Balkan offensives occurred near the city.

The Austro-Hungarian government's declaration of war in a telegram sent to the government of Serbia on 28 July 1914

Belgrade fell to German and Austro-Hungarian troops on October 9, 1915. The city was liberated by Serbian and French troops three years later. Since Belgrade was decimated as the front-line city, Subotica overtook the title of the largest city in the Kingdom for a short while.

Belgrade was the capital of Yugoslavia (in various forms of governments) from its creation in 1918, to its final dissolution in 2006. It is currently the capital of Serbia.

Belgrade By Vlada Marinković - Vlada Marinković, Wikipedia Commons

In the Lonely Planet 1000 Ultimate Experiences guide of 2009, Belgrade was placed at the 1st spot among the top 10 party cities in the world.

The city proper has a population of over 1.1 million, while its metropolitan area has over 1.6 million people, making it one of the largest cities in Southeast Europe.

Belgrade covers 3.6% of Serbia's territory, and 22.5% of the country's population lives in the city.

Source Wikipedia


Belgium is named after the Belgae people, which is translated to "The people who swell with anger," meaning Belgium means "land where the people swell with anger."

The word ‘spa’ for a health resort comes from the town of Spa in Belgium where the ancient Romans enjoyed the health-giving springs.

The city of Bruges enjoyed almost 400 years of prosperity due to a single storm in 1134 that opened up a natural channel that allowed sea trade. It lost its prestige when the channel got blocked again in the 1500s.

The Brabant Revolution, sometimes considered as the first expression of Belgian nationalism, began on October 24, 1789 with the invasion of the Austrian Netherlands by an émigré army from the Dutch Republic.

On January 20, 1831, the European powers agreed to fix the borders of the new country of Belgium, splitting it from Holland.

Leopold I was inaugurated as the first King of the Belgians on July 21, 1831. Born into the ruling family of the small German duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld,  Leoppld married Princess Charlotte of Wales, the only child of the Prince Regent (the future King George IV), thus situating himself as a possible future prince consort of Great Britain. Charlotte died in 1817, although Leopold continued to enjoy considerable status in England. The Belgian government offered the position to Leopold because of his diplomatic connections with royal houses across Europe.

Leopold I of Belgium
Since the installation of Leopold I as king, (which is now celebrated as Belgium's National Day), Belgium has been a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.

The Treaty of London of 1839, signed on April 19, 1839 was a direct follow-up to the 1831 Treaty of the XVIII Articles which the Netherlands had refused to sign. Under the treaty, the European powers recognized and guaranteed the independence and neutrality of Belgium.

The first railway in continental Europe opened on May 5, 1835 between Brussels and Mechelen in Belgium. The rapid expansion of the Belgian railways in the 1830s was one of the factors allowing Belgium to recover from an economic recession which it had experienced since the revolution and served as a major force in the Belgian Industrial Revolution.

Painting of the opening of the Brussels-Mechelen railway on 5 May 1835

The world’s first beauty contest was held at Spa in 1888. It was won by 18-year-old Bertha Soucaret.

During World War I, King Albert I of Belgium personally led the defense against the Germans, while the Queen served as a nurse, and their son enlisted in the infantry.

After the invasion of Belgium by Nazi Germany in May 1940 during World War II, the Belgian government, under Prime Minister Hubert Pierlot, fled first to Bordeaux in France. Then evading French and Spanish authorities,  Pierlot arrived in England on October 22, 1940, marking the beginning of the Belgian government in exile in London. The Belgian government in London, also known as the Pierlot IV Government, was the government in exile of Belgium between October 1940 and September 1944.

Hubert Pierlot (left), Prime Minister of the government in exile, April 1944.

Belgium has so many political parties, that they faced a problem when 11 parties received a significant amount of votes in the 2010 election. It eventually took 541 days for a majority of parties to agree to work with each other.

In Belgium, 220,000 tons of chocolate are produced each year. That is about 22kg of chocolate per person.

About 55% of the population speak Flemish, 44% French, and a small proportion German.

Belgium is one of the few countries that requires education as mandatory until the age of 18.

French speaking residents of Belgium are called Walloons.

Belgium is the only country that has never imposed censorship for adult films.

Belgium covers an area of 30,528 square kilometres (11,787 sq mi), and it has a population of about 11 million people.

The Belgian Congo (now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo) covered an area 80 times that of Belgium.

There is a small four acre plot of land inside Belgium, which belongs to Germany. Part of the city of Monschau, west of Vennbahn trackbed it consists of a single inhabited house with a garden.

The highest point in Belgium is actually shorter than the world's tallest building. The Signal de Botrange on the High Fens plateau is 694 metres high but the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, is over 100 metres taller.

The Coast Tram is a public transport service connecting the cities and towns along the entire Belgian coast, between De Panne near the French border and Knokke-Heist. At 68 km (42 miles) in length, it is the longest tram line in the world.

Belgium experiences one of the most congested traffic in Europe. In 2010, commuters to the cities of Brussels and Antwerp spent respectively 65 and 64 hours a year in traffic jams.

Belgium has 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including La Grand-Place, Brussels,  Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes and Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai.

Sources, Daily Express


The name Belfast is derived from the Irish Béal Feirsde. The word béal means "mouth" or "rivermouth" while feirsde is the genitive singular of fearsaid and refers to a sandbar or tidal ford across a river's mouth. The name would thus translate literally as "(river)mouth of the sandbar."

The site of Belfast has been occupied since the Bronze Age. The remains of Iron Age hill forts can still be seen in the surrounding hills.

Belfast became a substantial settlement in the 17th century after being established as a town by Sir Arthur Chichester. It was initially settled by Protestant English and Scottish migrants at the time of the Plantation of Ulster.


John Dunlop was a flourishing veterinary surgeon near Belfast, when in 1888 he obtained patents on a pneumatic tyre (invented in 1845 by Robert William Thomson) for bicycles. His company, formed in 1889, became known as the Dunlop Rubber Co in 1900.

From 1905 aged 6 to 1918 CS Lewis lived at Little Lea, a 3-storey house with an acre & half of garden on the outskirts of Belfast, which cost £800 in 1904. A hand carved wardrobe in one of the upstairs rooms became the inspiration for The Lion the Witch & The Wardrobe.

The Harland and Wolff shipbuilding firm was created in 1861 in Belfast. By the time the Titanic was built there in 1912, it had become the largest shipyard in the world.

Belfast has been the capital of Northern Ireland since its establishment in 1921 following the Government of Ireland Act 1920.

Belfast saw the worst of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, with nearly half of the total deaths in the conflict occurring in the city. The highest death toll from a single incident during the conflict was on December 4, 1971 when the Ulster Volunteer Force bombed the Catholic-owned McGurk’s Bar in Belfast killing 15 civilians and wounding 17. 

The interactive museum Titanic Belfast opened in 2012, the 100th anniversary of the sinking, it has nine galleries and features full-scale reconstructions and special effects. Four years later, it was crowned Best Tourist Attraction at a ceremony for the World Travel Awards in the Maldives. 

Sunday, 10 June 2012


A Belorussian state developed in the Middle Ages around the city of Polotsk. From the 13th century it became incorporated within the Slavonic Grand Duchy of Lithuania and from 1569 there was union with Poland.

25% of the Belarusian population was killed in World War II.

The nuclear Chernobyl disaster in 1986 contaminated 20% of the country with radiation, affecting hundreds of thousands of people and mutating thousands of new born. Its far reaching effects mean even today the people of the country having a high rate of cancer and birth defects. 

20% of Belarus' annual budget is currently spent on costs associated with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

On 27th of July 1990 Belarus declared its right to self-governance, and The Republic of Belarus, emerged from behind the Iron Curtain on 15 March 1994.

Belarus sacked two top generals after a Swedish advertising agency illegally flew a plane into Belarus in July 2012 that dropped hundreds of teddy bears carrying pro-democracy messages.

Belarus is the only country in Europe that still has the death penalty on its statute book. Its last executions were in 2014.

Over forty percent of Belarus is forested.

Most of Belarus's population of 9.85 million reside in the urban areas surrounding Minsk and other regional capitals.

Over 80% of Belarus's population of 9.49 million reside are ethnic Belarusians, with sizable minorities of Russians, Poles and Ukrainians.

Since a controversial 1995 referendum, Russian has been an official language alongside Belarusian. 


Beirut's name first appeared in cuneiform tablets in the 14th century BC.

The city was destroyed in 551AD by an earthquake, which triggered a devastating tsunami Overall large numbers of people were reported killed, with one estimate of 30,000 by Antoninus of Piacenza.

Beirut was devastated by civil war in the 1970s and 1980s and by the conflict between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Israeli forces.

Keanu Reeves, star of The Matrix, was born in Beirut.

Beirut was named the top place to visit by The New York Times in 2009.

No population census has been taken in Lebanon since 1932, and estimates of Beirut's population range from as low as 938 to as high as 2,012,000.


The State of Yan named Beijing its capital during the Warring States period of 475 to 221 BC. These early incarnations of the city served as trading posts for northern peoples like Mongols and Koreans.

Under Genghis Khan Beijing was besieged for seven years until it finally fell to the Mongols in 1215 AD.

Beijing was developed substantially by the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan. Known as Dadu, he
established it as the political center for all of China. 

During the Ming dynasty the capital was moved to Nanjing for 35 years. Beijing was only reinstalled as China’s capital on October 28, 1420, the same year that the Forbidden City, the seat of government, was completed.

Beijing became the largest city by population in the world in 1710 with 770,000 people. The position had been held for seven decades by Constantinople.

Peking's Summer Palace, Yuanmingyuan, was destroyed by British troops occupying Peking on October 18, 1860.

During the cultural revolution, the red guard movement began in Beijing and the city's government fell victim to one of Mao's first purges. By the fall of 1966, all city schools were shut down.

Beijing opened its subway system in 1971.

Underneath Beijing there is a city spanning 33 square miles called Dixia Cheng. It was built in the 1970's due to rising tensions between China and the Soviet Union.

The pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests ended on June 4, 1989 with the declaration of martial law in Beijing by the government and the shooting of several hundred, or possibly thousands, of civilians by soldiers. Official figures of the dead range from 200 to 300. 

The many sights that represent the Chinese city of Beijing were built by foreigners: the Forbidden City (see below) was built by the Mongols, the Temple of Heaven by the Manchurians.

Currently there are 19,612,368 people residing in Beijing. Most residents are of Han ethnicity.

Beijing has long been well known for the number of bicycles on its streets and is considered to be the bicycle capital of the world. It has many parking lots dedicated to bikes alone.

Beijing’s main shopping street is called Wangfujing. It contains a plethora of shops and food stalls.

Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics. It opened, at 8pm on 08/08/08. The number eight is considered a lucky number in China and many parts of the Far East.

A scene from the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. By papparazzi..Wikipedia 

Due to the deforestation of the forests in North China, over one million tons of sands blows into Beijing from the Gobi desert. It sometimes causes the sky to turn yellow.

Some districts in Beijing are sinking by as much as 11 centimeters per year due to groundwater depletion.

Breathing the air in Beijing has the same health risks as smoking 21 cigarettes a day.

With well over 5,000 public toilets, Beijing claims to have more than any other capital city. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Begonia is a genus of perennial flowering plants that contains 1,484 different plant species. It is the sixth largest flowering plant genus.

The genus name Begonia, coined by Charles Plumier, a French patron of botany, and adopted by Linnaeus in 1753, honors Michel Bégon, a former governor of the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti).

Begonias are found in moist subtropical and tropical climates. Some species are often grown indoors as houseplants.

A potted angel wing begonia (Begonia aconitifolia × B. coccinea)By Khalid Mahmood - Wikipedia Commons

The begonia produces one of the smallest types of seeds in the world, which resemble dust. One ounce of begonia seed is enough for the production of  three million seedlings, which start to germinate two or three weeks after planting.

Most begonias are sour to the taste, and some varieties – there are more than 1,000 – have been used for food. This is safe in small amounts but potentially toxic in large quantities due to the prevalence of oxalic acid in the tissues.

Indonesians use begonias to make a sauce over fish dishes while Brazilians scatter the flower in salads.

Begonias are rich in vitamin C and have been used to prevent scurvy when citrus fruits were not available.

Display of (tuberous) begonias, Hampton Court Flower Show

Begonias have been used in Chinese medicine to disinfect wounds and ease the symptoms of a cold.

In some areas of China, the sap was used to stop toothache or cure kidney ailments.

When North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il died in 2011, a special variety of the flower called Kimjongilia was bred to adorn his corpse for public display.

Source Daily Mail June 17, 2016

Sunday, 3 June 2012


Lambert le Bègue, (d c1187) a Flemish priest, was deeply perturbed by the pitiful sight of the many destitute wives and children of crusaders who had been killed. He made it his special mission to assist such homeless widows and orphans. To house them, he established refuges all over the area. It did not take long for them to be called after the priest who had done so much for them, to be referred to as a Bèghard.  That is how the word “beggar” came into the world.


The red beetroot was considered by the Ancient Greeks to be medicinal, whilst its juice was used as a hair dye. 

The ancient Romans considered beetroot to be an aphrodisiac and The Lupanare, the official brothel of Pompeii, had its walls decorated with pictures of the vegetable.

From the Middle Ages, beetroot was used as a treatment for a variety of conditions, especially illnesses relating to digestion and the blood.

The 17th century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper said that beetroot juice is good for headaches and afflictions of the brain

The beetroot we eat now is Beta vulgaris, which evolved as a cultivated version of the sea beet, Beta maritima.

Raw beetroot is 88% water, 10% carbohydrates, 2% protein, and less than 1% fat.

In studies conducted by the Exeter University, scientists found cyclists who drank a half-litre of beetroot juice several hours before setting off were able to ride up to 20% longer than those who drank a placebo blackcurrant juice

Betanin, obtained from the roots, is used industrially as red food colorants, e.g. to improve the color and flavor of tomato paste, sauces, desserts, jams and jellies, ice cream, sweets and breakfast cereals.

In other forms betain is used to help treat depression. It’s also an amino acid, trytophan, that helps improve mood, memory and reduces stress. And finally it’s the feel good chemical in chocolate

The green, leafy portion of the beet is also edible. It is most commonly served boiled or steamed, in which case it has a taste and texture similar to spinach.

If you boil beetroots in water and then massage the water into your scalp each night, it works as an effective cure for dandruff.

The world’s biggest beetroot was grown in 2005 by Dutchman Piet de Goede weighing 156lb 10oz.

Source Wikipedia, Daily Express


Comprising more than 50% of the animal kingdom, beetles number some 370,000 named species, with many not yet described.

A stag beetle lives underground for five years before emerging to mate for a few weeks, then die.

Ladybirds are actually beetles and their correct name is The Ladybird Beetle.

The biggest bug in the world is the Goliath Beetle which is about the size of your fist and can weigh as much as 3-4 ounces.

Supposedly, beetles tastes like apples.

Dung beetles can bury 250 times their own weight in dung in one day.

If dung beetles disappeared from the plains of Africa, its human inhabitants would be up to their waists in excrement within a month.

Until 2013, scientists believed that only humans, birds, and seals used stars to navigate. But in 2013, they discovered that when the moon isn’t visible, dung beetles use the Milky Way to navigate back home. They are the only insect known to orient itself by the galaxy.

The bombardier beetle can shoot boiling-hot, foul-smelling liquid from a gland that can rotate 270 degrees.

Hercules beetles of Central and South America can lift 850 times their own weight.

Anophthalmus hitleri is a blind beetle found only in five caves in Slovenia. Named after Adolf Hitler in 1933, it is now endangered due to collectors of Nazi memorabilia.

The Natural History Museum in London has 22,000 draws filled with beetles

Ludwig Van Beethoven

There is no actual record of Beethoven's birth. He is traditionally assumed to have been born on December 16, 1770 in Bonn, Germany because his baptism was recorded as taking place in a Roman Catholic service at the Parish of St. Regius on the following day, but the real natal date and hour are unknown. As an adult, Beethoven considered himself to be two years younger than his given age and obstinately evaded the question of his birth date.

If you met a woman who was pregnant, and she had eight children already, three who were deaf, two who were blind, one mentally retarded, and she had syphilis; would you recommend that she have an abortion? If you said yes, you just killed Beethoven.

Ludwig's father was Johann Van Beethoven (1740-1792), a tenor singer in the service of the elector of Cologne. His grandfather was also a musician. His father declined into drinking and as a result young Ludwig's family became steadily poorer.

At the age of five, Ludwig's ambitious father made him practice the violin for much of the day. He was even locked in a cellar and deprived of sleep by his father for extra hours of practice. The hard graft worked - by the age of eight he was playing concerts.

Ludwig published his first composition and composed three sonatas aged thirteen.

A portrait of the 13-year-old Beethoven by an unknown Bonn master (c. 1783)

At the age of fourteen he met Mozart in Vienna who said, "Watch this young man. He is going to cause a stir in the world. Mozart proceeded (in 1787) to give him a few lessons in composition.

Beethoven had music lessons from Haydn from whom he learnt composition and harmony, but who failed to recognize young Ludwig’s genius. He later claimed "he had never learned anything from Haydn."

Beethoven moved permanently to Vienna when he was 22. He lived there comfortably from money for commissions, publishing his work and giving lessons.

He was the first ever full time composer. The broadening market for published music enabled Beethoven to succeed as a freelance composer, a path that Mozart a decade earlier had found full of frustration.

Beethoven had a huge quarrel with someone at a benefit concert in 1808, after which he talked of leaving Vienna. To keep him there as resident virtuoso and composer, a group of nobles banded together to provide him with an annual salary of 4,000 florins simply for staying in the Austrian city and composing whatever and whenever he wanted.

Beethoven was a short man, 5' 3¾" (1.62 m) with sallow complexion due to jaundice. His brown hair was thick and bushy (afro style). Many people looking at his portrait have assumed he is of African origin.

Ludwig van Beethoven: detail of an 1804–05 portrait by Joseph Willibrord Mähler

An untidy dresser, Beethoven had strange personal habits such as wearing filthy clothing while washing compulsively. He was unconcerned about his tramp like appearance and had such a disregard for personal cleanliness that his friends had to take away his dirty clothes and wash them whilst he slept.

Though often in love, Beethoven never got married. He tended to be attracted to unattainable women, who were aristocratic or married or both. The one person to reciprocate his declarations, the "Immortal Beloved" was one Antonie Brentano who was married to a Frankfurt merchant and a mother of four. In his letter to the "Immortal Beloved" (presumably never sent), he expressed his conflicting feelings for Antonie Beethoven's conscience prevented him pursuing the relationship.

In 1815, on the death of his older brother, Casper Carl, Beethoven devoted his emotional energies to a costly legal struggle with his sister-in-law for custody of her 9-year-old son Karl. The mother received a temporarily favourable ruling, and only the intervention in 1820 of Beethoven's most powerful patron, the Archduke Rudolph, won the composer custody of his nephew.

Originally Beethoven was most famous for tinkling the ivories as a pianist, especially for his improvising skills. Only later in his life was he hailed as a great composer as well.

The Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major was an important display piece for the young Beethoven. He was the soloist at its premiere on March 29, 1795, at Vienna's Burgtheater in a concert marking his public debut. Prior to that, he had performed only in the private salons of the Viennese nobility.

Beethoven was known to play the piano with such force that the strings would snap. After 1805 he performed in public rarely because of his increasing deafness and he made his last performance in 1814.

Beethoven was perhaps the first composer to use brass instruments as part of the orchestral texture of a composition; they had previously been used only at special moments where they would stand out, or as solo instruments.

Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio, premiered at Vienna's Theater an der Wien on November 20, 1805 with additional performances the following two nights. A story of a wife who dressed as a female jailer so she could join her husband in prison its underlying struggle for liberty and justice mirrored contemporary political movements in Europe. The success of the performances was hindered by the fact that Vienna was under French military occupation, and most of the audience were French military officers.

Stephan von Breuning helped shorten the work from three acts to two during the following year. After further work on the libretto by Georg Friedrich Treitschke, a final version of Fidelio was performed at the Kärntnertortheater on May 23, 1814. The audience included a 17-year-old Franz Schubert, who had sold his schoolbooks for a ticket.

When Beethoven conducted and performed in concert at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna on December 22, 1808, he premiered his Fifth Symphony, Sixth Symphony, Fourth Piano Concerto (performed by Beethoven himself) and Choral Fantasy (with Beethoven at the piano).

Beethoven composed his "Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor", better known as "Für Elise" on April 27, 1810. "Für Elise" (Or in English "For Elise") wasn't written for Elise at all. Beethoven's autographed manuscript reads: "Fur Therese am 27 zur Erinnerung and L v Bthvn" ("For Therese on the 27th April in remembrance of L. V Bthvn."), the Therese being Therese Malfatti (1792–1851), with whom Beethoven was in love. However the copyist misread Beethoven's untidy scrawl and gave his new piano piece the dedication "Für Elise."
First edition 1867

Therese Malfatti was a friend and student of Beethoven's to whom he proposed in 1810. Sadly, for Beethoven, she turned him down and later married the Austrian nobleman and state official Wilhelm von Droßdik in 1816.

Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, popularly known as the Emperor Concerto was written between 1809 and 1811 in Vienna. The first performance took place on November 28, 1811 at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig under conductor Johann Philipp Christian Schulz. The epithet of Emperor for this concerto was not Beethoven's own but was coined by Johann Baptist Cramer, the English publisher of the concerto.

The first U.S. performance of a Beethoven symphony took place at Postlethwaite’s Tavern in Lexington, Kentucky in 1817. A small orchestra led by Austrian conductor Anthony Heinrich led a small orchestra through the composer’s Symphony No. 1

Ludwig van Beethoven's last complete symphony was the Symphony No. 9 in D minor. The symphony incorporates part of German writer Friedrich Schiller's poem "Ode to Joy" in its final movement. The words for "Ode To Joy", which are sung by four vocal soloists and a chorus, emanate a strong belief in mankind.

A page from Beethoven's manuscript of the 9th Symphony

Beethoven often poured ice water over his head when he sat down to compose, believing it stimulated his brain.

According to his friends, Beethoven was never able to dance in time with music.

While Ludwig van Beethoven was a brilliant composer, he never mastered spelling or simple multiplication.

Beethoven was keen on Homer and Indian theology for reading matter. Not a particularly avid reader he wrote in an 1820 letter, "I would rather write 10,000 notes than one letter of the alphabet"

Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, who commissioned Beethoven's Mass in C major for his wife's name day, found it "unbearably ridiculous and detestable."

The opening of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony was later used as a signature piece for the Allies during World War 2 since the notes unintentionally were Morse Code for the letter "V" (for "Victory").

Beethoven was known to pelt his housekeepers with eggs if they were not fresh.

Fond of coffee, the fastidious composer once disclosed he required precisely 60 beans to make a cup of his favorite hot drink.

Beethoven liked good wine, consuming a bottle with every meal, often in the Greek Tavern in Vienna. A near alcoholic in his later years, on his deathbed he spluttered "Wine is both necessary and good for me."

Beethoven often sat at restaurants and wrote music for hours. He would become so distracted, he would accidentally pay other people's bills.

Beethoven suffered increasingly from deafness. Originally in his late twenties it was an occasional loss of hearing, which developed into a constant ringing in his ears. By 1814 however, Beethoven was almost totally deaf with a constant ringing in his ears. For the last ten years of his life he could only communicate with guests by means of conversation books in which visitors write their remarks to him. Many of Beethoven'sgreatest works were written in his last 10 years when he was completely deaf.

After Beethoven went deaf, he found he could affix a metal rod on the top of his piano and bite down on it while he played, enabling him to "hear" a little through vibrations in his jawbone. The process is called bone conduction.

The German composer habitually spent the summer in the Viennese suburbs to get away from the adoring masses and his creditors —Heiligenstadt was a favourite choice—and moved back to the central city in the autumn. He moved 79 times occupying 44 dwellings in 35 years in Vienna. The state in which he generally kept his rooms gave this landlords good cause for grievance. They were littered with partly eaten meals and unemptied chamber pots.

Beethoven was a big spender and gave away lots of money. Despite being a big note in Vienna his last years were blighted by financial problems and he died in poverty. The London Philharmonic Society sent £100 to Beethoven when he was on his deathbed.

Beethoven in 1823 by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller

Beethoven died on March 26, 1827 aged 57. It was a slow agonizing death. during a thunderstorm, having been bedridden for several months. His last words were "I shall hear in Heaven." An autopsy revealed significant liver damage, which may have been due to heavy alcohol consumption.

An estimated 20,000 people stood in reverence as his funeral bier passed through the streets of Vienna - Schubert was one of the pallbearers. Soldiers were needed to control grief stricken crowds. After nine priests blessed his body, he was buried in a grave marked by a simple pyramid that read simply, "Beethoven."

Source My writing for



Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic drinks. One theory is that it was discovered in Mesopotamia in about 8000BC. After some barley bread crumbs fell into water and started fermenting, someone tasted it, enjoyed it. They then began experimenting with different brews, made with different combinations of barley grains and water often with inebriating consequences!

The ancients considered the origin of beer divine, and was thought to be the spirit of the grain. In some places the brewing of the beverage was so sacred, that male brewers were kept isolated from their womenfolk. Otherwise, it was believed, the magic change of grain into spirit would not take place. Beer was not only drunk but a sacrificial ceremony was performed whereby it was poured into the ground to appease the gods so that they would bless the growing of the crops.

There was a hymn to Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of beer; the hymn not only praised her, it provided directions for brewing beer.

The Sumerians of Mesopotamian made types of bread specifically for fermentation. Around 20 different types of a fermented drink were made from barley, wheat and honey. The resulting beer was drunk warm and because of the thick sediment it was drunk through reed straws from a communal bowl. Brewing was a privilege set aside for kings and because of its sacred nature takes part in temples.

Then oldest evidence of beer-drinking is a picture on a 6,000-year-old Sumerian tablet. It contains the following advertising slogan, “Drink Ebla – the beer with the heart of a lion."

By 3000 BC there were at least six different types of beer in Egypt. The ancient Egyptians brewed beer from wheat and barley, which they grew on the fertile flood plain of the River Nile. Their beer was made from old barley bread mixed with plenty of water, men standing inside a vat trampled the bread and water mixture with their feet.  After mixing, date juice flavored with ginger, honey and myrtle was added. The fermenting beer was stored in uncovered jars in the sunshine and the final beverage looked like muddy soup. Then it was strained and left to stand in clean jars made from clay.

The picture below shows a funerary model of a bakery and brewery, from the Eleventh dynasty of Egypt, c2009–1998 BC.

By Keith Schengili-Roberts - Wikipedia Commons

The rich Egyptians drunk mainly beer, as it was safer than water from the Nile since the alcohol it contained acted as a mild disinfectant. Peasants and workers were allocated a daily allowance of two jugs of weak beer. If they required anything else to drink they had to make do with river water.

The ancient Egyptians believed that mixing half an onion with the foam from beer gave you eternal life.

Egypt was the first country to have a beer tax, imposed by Cleopatra in the first century BC to discourage public drunkenness.

A 3,900-year-old poem honoring the Babylonian goddess Ninkasi contains an ancient beer recipe, which happens to be the oldest known written recipe.

According to the Code of Hammurabi of Babylon a tavern-keeper or merchant who diluted or overchargd for beer should be put to death.

One ancient Chinese commentator wrote “People will not do without beer. To prohibit and secure total abstinence from it is beyond the power even of sages. Hence, therefore, we have warnings on the abuse of it.”

Around 250BC, many years before the Romans came to Britain, beer was being brewed by the Picts in Scotland. The beverage was made from heather and had hallucinogenic properties.

The word “beer” comes from the Latin word “bibere,” which means “to drink.”

The beer that the first Anglo-Saxons drank was a brew of water and honeycomb in a clay pot, with the addition of herbs for flavoring.

The Vikings believed that a giant goat named Heiðrún, whose udders provided an endless supply of beer, awaited them in Valhalla upon their death.

“Church ales” became popular in thirteenth century Britain. These were an early type of church fair where men and women would sell and drink ale either in the churchyard or the church itself, to raise funds for the fabric or for some other good intention.

Henry VIII gave his ladies in waiting a daily allowance of a gallon of ale each day for breakfast. The English king attempted to ban the brewing of continental style beer, as he preferred the stronger "hop-less" English ale. However despite his attempts, beer made from hops rather than traditional English ale became the preferred drink for royalty and commoners alike at every meal.

Bavarian Beer was originally hallucinogenic, containing Henbane, until adding Henbane to beer was banned in 1516.

The Reinheitsgebot, instituted in Bavaria in 1516, is a beer “purity law” that remains today in revised form. The original laws permitted beer to be made only with barley, hops and water, later acknowledging yeast and permitting wheat.

Beer was ranked alongside bread as the most important staple in 16th century Ireland, and some workers were granted a daily allowance of 14 pints.

The first beer brewed in the New World was made in 1587 at Sir Walter Raleigh's colony in Virginia. However the colonists were not happy with the brew and sent requests to England for better beer.

The Pilgrims planned on heading further south to a warmer climate than Plymouth Rock, but because they ran out of beer, they headed for the closest land.

The ‘Yard of Ale’, which originated in 17th-century England, is made up of twoand-a-half pints of beer or 1.42 litres.

In 1814 the rupture of a beer vat in London caused a wave of 323,000 gallons of beer which demolished several streets and killed eight people.

Most beers couldn’t withstand the six month trip from Great Britain to the British colonies in India, where the climate was too hot to brew. In response, a brewer heavily hopped and aged their beers, making them pale, and able to survive the journey. The first known use of the expression "India pale ale" to describe these beers was in an advertisement in the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser on August 27, 1829.

Fuller's India pale ale Wikipedia

Louis Pasteur developed pasteurisation for beer more than 20 years before he did it for milk.

Newcastle Brown was launched in 1927 by the North East England brewer Jim Porter. His father was a master brewer and, after leaving the army, Porter went to work at the Newcastle Breweries where, three years previously, he had set about creating a brand new bottled ale. The result, a strong, malty brown ale, scored an immediate success with the judges of the International Brewing Championships where it won the prize for best bottled beer.

By 1935, technology had advanced to a stage where drinks could be put in cans and on January 24, 1935, the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company of New Jersey introduced the first canned beer, Krueger Cream Ale. The new, three-piece steel and tin cans containing this drink had no pull tab; they were opened by a special kind of tool called a church key.

This new method of packaging beer was an instant success and other breweries quickly followed as they noted that the new cans were more cost effective, easier to handle and took up less space than bottles.

The Felinfoel Brewery in Wales was the first brewery outside the US to sell beer in cans.

Samuel Adams is the brand name for beers produced by the Boston Beer Company, which was founded in 1984 by Jim Koch and Rhonda Kallman in Boston. The brand name of Samuel Adams was chosen in honor of Founding Father Samuel Adams, an American revolutionary patriot. Paul Revere, not Samuel Adams, is featured on each bottle of Samuel Adams Boston Lager, allegedly due to Samuel Adams' bad looks.

At the age of 27 Indian born entrepreneur Karan Bilimoria founded Cobra Beer in a little flat in Fulham, London. While a student at Cambridge, Bilmoria had noticed regular lager was too gassy and ale too bitter to go with curry in the city’s Indian restaurants. He came up with a concept in 1989 for a beer designed to accompany food – in particular, Indian food and curry.

As of November 2014, Cobra currently has a market share of over 98% of all licensed Indian restaurants within the United Kingdom.

By Misiokk -  Wikipedia Commons

The ‘beerbrella’, comprising a small umbrella designed to shield a glass of beer from the sun, was patented in the US in 2003.


Legendary pro wrestler and Princess Bride star, Andre the Giant, set the world record for number of beers consumed in a single sitting by drinking 119 12oz beers in six hours in 1976. It was one of the few times Andre got drunk enough to pass out, which he did in a hallway at his hotel.

Steven Petrosino of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania downed 1 liter of beer or 33 ounces in just 1.3 seconds in 1977 which makes him the World Beer Speed Drinking Champion, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke was the one-time world record holder for the fastest drinking of a yard of beer.

The most expensive beer in the world costs $52 a bottle. It is called Tutankhamen. It’s prepared with the recipe and directions that was found in Queen Nefertiti’s Temple of the Sun in Egypt by University of Cambridge archaeologists. This is made in limited and a numbered edition.

The most expensive beer in the U.S. is Samuel Adams' Utopia. It costs $150 per 700ML, is released every two years and is banned in 13 states.

Armageddon, is a 65 per cent proof Scottish-made brew launched in 2012. A 330ml bottle costs £80 ($115) and is as potent as ten pints of normal lager. It's ingredients include crystal malt, wheat, flaked oats and Scottish spring water. When it was launched it was marketed as the world's strongest beer.

John Evans of Britain managed to balance an incredible 275 glasses of beer on his head at the Haifa Beer Festival in Israel on August 15, 2013.

At 68 per cent proof, Brewmeister’s Snake Venom beer was named as the world’s strongest in 2014.

The world's largest beer festival is Oktoberfest. Held annually in Munich, Germany, it runs  from late September to the first weekend in October with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event annually


Stouts were created to be known as strong beer—not just dark. Its name in the 14th century meant “proud” or “brave.”

Carlsberg created Special Brew in honor of Winston Churchill.

In 1956 the US government placed beer near a nuclear explosion to see whether it would still be drinkable after a nuclear fallout, it was.

In 1999, the world’s first beer academy opened in Herk-de-Stad, in the Belgian province of Limburg.

The world record for downing a yard of ale is 4.9 seconds by Peter Dowdeswell, of Northampton, England - he also set the record of 55.6 seconds for drinking eight pints of beer upside down.

Australian microbrewery Nail Brewing produced the most expensive beer in the world, using water melted from a block of Antarctic ice.

The number one beer drinking state in the US in 2012 was North Dakota, with 45.8 gallons per year per adult.

Beer was a soft drink in Russia until 2013. In 2011, president Dmitry Medvedev signed a law that made beer an alcoholic beverage, allowing the government to control its sale and consumption. The law came into effect on January 1, 2013.

Coming in behind tea, beer is the second most popular beverage in the world. In England and Ireland, beer is the most popular beverage, its number one in these two countries.

The number one beer in the world based on market share is Snow beer. Not heard of it? That's because hardly any of its 18 billion pints a year are sold outside China.

Gambrinous means 'being full of beer'.

The foam on a beer is called 'barm.'

Zythology is the study of beer and the process of making beer.

In Great Britain alone, 93,000 litres of beer are said to be lost each year in facial hair.

The Scottish brewery Brewmeister put a warning label on its Snake Venom beer, advising consumers to drink only one bottle per sitting.

In Nebraska, It is illegal for bar owners to sell beer unless they are simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup.

Every year, Bavarians and their guests drink 1.2 million gallons of beer during Oktoberfest.

People in the Czech Republic drink more beer per capita than any other country, an average of 262 pints a year. Austria is second on 190 pints.

The world’s most expensive beer is Belgium’s La Vieille Bon Secours ale which costs $975 (£700) a bottle.

According to U.S. laws, a beer commercial can never show a person actually drinking beer.

The word Cenosillicaphobia means the fear of seeing an empty beer mug.

Beer has a bitter taste and slightly pungent aroma because of lupulin, a substance found in hops.

April 7th is National Beer Day because this is the date in 1933 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the law that lifted Prohibition.

Americans spend approximately $25 billion each year on beer.

An American Pint of beer is smaller than a British pint; 473mil compared to 568mil.

In Japan, there is braille on beer cans.

If you could stack all the beer cans consumed in the U.S. each year, it would reach the moon 20 times.