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Sunday, 24 March 2013

Boxer (dog)

The boxer originated in Germany, perhaps as a cross between Great Danes and English Bulldogs. The breed was brought to prominence in the 1890s.

The boxer breed was not known outside of Germany until after the Second World War when many American and British returning soldiers took them home.

Boxers were named after their habit of playing. At the beginning of play with another dog, a Boxer will stand on his hind legs and bat at his opponent, appearing to "box" with his front paws.

There are about 20 to 25% Boxers who are born white. They are not considered to be albino dogs either. They are white due to presence of the extreme piebald gene.

It has been found that majority of white Boxers are deaf in one or both ears.

Boxers are born without upright ears and many people choose not to have the surgery done to make them stand upright.

Boxers aren't considered fully mature until they are three years old, making their puppyhoods one of the longest in the dog world.

The American Kennel Club categorizes the boxer as the largest breed (50-70 pounds) in the “working dog” category.

Boxers are known to snore.


Bowls is an indoor and outdoor game played as singles, pairs, triples, or fours. The origin of the game is still a matter of conjecture. Finds in Egyptian tombs, proved the existence as early as 5200 BC of a game that consisted of rolling balls or other rounded objects such as a coconut, a clay ball, or a stone) toward a chosen mark.

The sport of bowls spread to ancient Greece and Rome. The Caesars knew some type of the game, calling it boccie, a term that still survives in Italy.

Bowling was popularized by German churchgoers in the third and fourth century who would roll a ball at a kegel, a club used for protection, and if hit they would be absolved from sin.

The earliest recorded reference to a bowling green relates to Southampton, England in 1299. As the Southampton Town Bowling Club, it is still in existence and its members play on the original green.

Somehow bowls became a game closely associated with gambling. People played it not as much as a pastime, but to place wagers and enrich themselves "the easy way." Edicts, as issued by the governments of Edward III and Richard II, made bowling illegal. An Act of 1511 still forbade the playing of bowls to "artificers, labourers, apprentices, servants and the like - at any time except Christmas and then only in their master's house and presence."

When Henry VIII went to war with Emperor Maximilian in 1513, he took a 90ft by 8ft indoor bowling shed with him.

In 1541, Henry VIII forbid the working class from bowling—except on Christmas, when they were allowed to bowl in their master's house.

In 1555 Queen Mary again cancelled the permits as the game of bowls had become "an excuse for unlawful assemblies, conventicles, seditions, and conspiracies."

Francis Drake and other commanders were playing bowls in Plymouth Hoe when news was bought that the Spanish Armada was sailing up the channel. Drake insisted on finishing the game before setting sail.

Dutch settlers brought lawn bowls and ninepins to the New World in the early 17th century.

Glasgow solicitor William Mitchell (1803-84) drew up the rules for modern bowls in 1848.

The English cricketer W.G. Grace was fond of lawn bowls and founded the English Bowling Association in 1903.

Sources Europress Encyclopedia 

Bowler Hat

The bowler is a low-crowned, stiff-brimmed felt hat. The first bowler hat was sold on December 17, 1849. It was designed by hatmakers Thomas and William Bowler for Lock and Co of St James, London, and was ordered by the British soldier and politician Edward Coke for hunting. According to legend, when Coke arrived to pick up his hat he placed it on the floor and stood on it to test its strength. Satisfied, he paid his 12 shillings (60p).

Bowler hat, mid-20th century (PFF collection).

The Bowler hat was called billycock for a time, after William Coke.

General Gordon hardly spent anything on himself and he often wore shabby clothes. The general left China to head to England in his gunboat towing his new suit in the water to make it look old and crumpled to go with his bashed in bowler hat.

It was Queen Victoria's oldest son Prince Edward who popularized the bowler hat to wear in town

It became in the 20th century (and remained until the 1970s) the indispensable headgear for men working in the City. 

The bowler hat is familiar round the world as part of the costume of Charlie Chaplin.

David Bowie

David Bowie was born David Robert Jones in Brixton, London, on January 8, 1947 to Margaret Mary "Peggy" Jones, a cinema usherette, and Haywood Stenton "John" Jones, a publicity director for an orphanage.

David's family moved to Bromley when he was six years old and he attended Bromley Technical School in London, where he was taught art by Peter Frampton's father, Owen. David got just one O Level... in art.

David started playing the saxophone at the age of 12 after his mom gave him a cream-colored plastic alto sax as a Christmas present. He got himself a part-time job as a butcher's delivery boy to pay for the cost of tuition.

The pupil of Bowie's left eye became enlarged and frozen after a fist fight with his best friend in school, George Underwood (it was over a girl). Underwood and Bowie remained good friends with Underwood doing artwork for some of Bowie's earlier albums.

His first ever release was "Liza Jane" /"Louie Louie Go Home" in June 1964, under the name of Davie Jones with The King-Bees.

David Bowie's first TV appearance was in November 1964, when he gave an interview on BBC's Tonight show as spokesman for The Society For The Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Boys.

He later changed his name to Bowie to avoid confusion with Monkee Davy Jones. Bowie told Rolling Stone the name comes from the Bowie knife: "I was into a kind of heavy philosophy thing when I was 16 years old, and I wanted a truism about cutting through the lies and all that."

Bowie met his first wife, Angela, at a King Crimson concert in 1969. The relationship didn't end well, and she would later sue Bowie for $56 million. They had one child, Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones, in 1971. Jones has since gone on to become a successful film director and is the brain behind Moon (2009) and Source Code (2011). 

Bowie's first hit in the UK - 1969's Space Oddity - was used by the BBC in its coverage of the moon landing. 

Theree years later, Bowie released "Starman" on Apas as a single in the UK. It became his first hit "Space Oddity."

When Bowie performed "Starman"on the British TV show, Top of the Pops, he appeared as the flame-haired Ziggy Stardust dressed in a multicolored jump suit. Bowie strummed a blue guitar while he moved flirtatiously alongside his guitarist, Mick Ronson. It was the first time many had seen Bowie and people were fascinated by his stage presence. This performance would catapult Bowie to stardom and prove wildly influential on the next generation of English rockers. It became his first hit "Space Oddity."

 David Bowie during the Ziggy Stardust Tour 

The band Simple Minds took their name from the line “He’s so simple minded he can’t drive his module” in "The Jean Genie."

Bowie's first US #1 was his single Fame in 1975. It was co-written by John Lennon and featured the late former Beatle on backing vocals.

David Bowie introduced his Thin White Duke persona at a show in Vancouver on February 2, 1976. It was the first stop on his Isotar Tour.

Director Nicolas Roeg cast Bowie in his first movie leading role, as a stranded alien in The Man Who Fell to Earth, in 1976. 

Among the film roles Bowie has turned down include the Bond villain Max Zorin in A View To A Kill and that of Captain Hook in the movie Hook.

David Bowie took the part of Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, on Broadway. He wore no stage make-up, and earned high praise for his expressive performance.  Bowie played the part 157 times between 1980 and 1981.

David Bowie was next on Mark Chapman's hitlist, after John Lennon. Chapman had a front-row ticket to The Elephant Man for the night after he shot Lennon.

Bowie's half-brother, Terry Burns, was severely schizophrenic. Having previously attempted suicide by jumping from a window in the hospital in which he lived, Burns succeeded in killing himself in 1985 after escaping the grounds of the hospital and laying down on some railroad tracks. Terry was the inspiration for songs including All The Madmen, The Bewlay Brothers and Jump They Say.

In  1987, David Bowie traveled to West Berlin, where he once lived and with his back to the Berlin Wall, he belted out “Heroes” with his band, crying out for liberty to the crowd in German. Thousands of East Berliners subsequently began vigorously protesting against the Communist regime. One week later Ronald Reagan stood near that same place and uttered the now unforgettable words: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

On January 11, 2016, the German Foreign Office officially recognized Bowie’s contribution in helping bring down the wall.

Apartment building on Hauptstraße 155 in Berlin Schöneberg where Bowie lived from 1976 to 1978. By Detmar Owen - 

Bowie married Somalian supermodel Iman in 1992. She has a Bowie knife tattooed on her ankle in tribute to her husband. They have a daughter Alexandria Zahra Jones, born in 2000.

Bowie turned down a knighthood in 2003.

David Bowie in 2002 By Photographer: Photobra|Adam Bielawski. Wikipedia

Bowie attended art school and exhibited some of his own paintings. Painting "was about problem solving," he told the New York Times in 1998. "I’d find that if I had some creative obstacle in the music that I was working on, I would often revert to drawing it out or painting it out."

Bowie was one of the first artists to realize the power of the internet. In 1997 he broke new ground with the internet-only release of his single "Telling Lies." Bowie once programmed three internet radio stations on to his website. Two were available to members only, while the other played kids' songs inspired by Alexandria.

Bowie was asked by director Danny Boyle to sing his song "Heroes" at the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony, but refused. "He sadly didn’t want to do anything live," said Boyle.

At 9:57 Bowie's 2015 single "Blackstar" is the longest song ever to reach the US Hot 100.

David Bowie died from cancer following an eighteen-month battle with the disease on January 10, 2016. He had celebrated his 69th birthday two days earlier.

In the "Lazarus" video, Bowie sings from a hospital bed, a wrap covering his eyes. Doctors reportedly informed the singer the cancer was terminal and that they were ending treatment during the week of shooting the visual in November 2015

Bowie was privately cremated shortly after his death without any friends and family present, as per his wishes.

David Bowie holds the world record for number of music video plays over a 24-hour period with 51 million plays, occurring the day after his death.

David Bowie's only Grammy win during his lifetime was for Best Video ("Jazzin' for Blue Jean" in 1985). He got four at the 2017 awards.

Sources, Songfacts

Bow and Arrow

The major preoccupation for pre-historic man was killing whatever moved, and devising ever more efficient means to do it. For centuries hunters relied only on what missiles they had the strength to throw, breaking bones with sticks and stones. That changed somewhere in Africa, sometime more than 30,000 years ago, when the earliest archers emerged with bows and arrows.

The earliest recovered weapons, dating from around 9,000 BC, were unearthed near Hamburg. with the bow made of pine and points of flint on the arrows.

The cross bow was invented by the Chinese and records of its usage goes back to as far as the Three Kingdom Period (220 AD-280 AD).

Crossbows were built in Europe about 800 years ago. The bow had a rifle-like stock and was held sideways. It was so strong that sometimes it took two men to hook the string and arrow to the trigger. The arrow was fired by pulling the trig­ger.

The fifteenth-century English longbow was best. It was made of wood. A good archer could shoot it accurately for 400 yards (364 meters).

During the Middle Ages Oxford University in England had rules that specifically forbid students from bringing bows and arrows to class.

In 1403 Prince Henry, the 15-year-old son of England’s Henry IV was in command of the English forces battling the Percys and Neville at Shrewsbury. Unfortunately an arrow hit the prince and an arrowhead was lodged in his cheekbone. His father’s surgeon, Bradmore stretched the gash in his cheek with sticks wrapped in linen dipped in white wine, a natural disinfectant. Then a pair of special tongs was inserted, the arrowhead found and withdrawn. The wound was washed with more white wine and covered with honey. Six weeks later the prince’s face had healed.

In 1415 a medieval knight Sir Dafydd Gam was hit by an arrow in his eye at Agincourt. From this unfortunate incident comes the expression “gammy” meaning “lame or crippled”.

The arrows used by English longbowmen at Agincourt were a ‘clothyard’ long, about 94cm (just over 3ft).

After about 1500, guns became more useful than bows and arrows for hunting and war.

A Japanese bow is about 7 to 9 feet in length, much longer than Western bows.

The modern recurve bow used in the Olympic archery competition is based on a design from 1500 BC.

Sources The Independent 3/11/07,

Clara Bow

Clara Bow was born on July 29, 1905 in a run-down tenement in old Brooklyn, to a schizophrenic mother and a chronically destitute, physically abusive father.

Her last name "Bow" was short for her actual last name "Bowtinelli".

As a child, Clara was a tomboy and played games in the streets with the boys; since her clothes were so ragged and dirty other girl children wouldn't play with her.

Her best friend Johnny burned to death in her arms when she was 10 years old. Years later, she could make herself cry at will on a movie set by listening to the lullaby "Rock-A-Bye Baby". She claimed it reminded her of her small friend.

She arrived in Hollywood in 1923, by way of winning a Beauty Contest while she was still in high school.

Young Gary Cooper had a crush on Clara Bow.

From 1927 to 1930 she was one of the top five Hollywood box-office attractions.

Scanned and cropped publicity shot from lost Clara Bow movie Rough House Rosie 1927

She was called ‘Jazz Baby’ and the ‘It Girl’ after her portrayal of a glamorous flapper in the silent film It (1927).

Despite her films' successes, Clara opted to live humbly in a bungalow instead of a mansion.

She failed in the talkies mostly because of her thick Brooklyn accent.

Clara  married cowboy actor and rancher, Rex Bell, in Las Vegas. They lived in Nevada where Rex Bell eventually became lieutenant governor.

Sources, IMDB


Bovril is the trade name of a concentrated extract of beef, the basis for a hot drink but also used as a flavouring or for gravy.

The beefy drink was invented in 1873 by John Lawson Johnston, who was producing tinned beef in Canada for the French military. It was originally known as Johnston’s Fluid Beef.'

Johnston was a Scot who had studied with a view to entering the medical profession but who instead turned his attention to dietetics.

Johnson launched it in Britain in the 1880s under a new name based on the Latin for a cow (bos, bovis) plus the word vril – a magic force (described as the 'unity in natural energic agencies') which had featured in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1871 sci-fi novel The Coming Race. A very successful advertising campaign later recommended Bovril to avoid 'that sinking feeling.'

By 1888, over 3,000 British public houses, grocers and chemists were selling Bovril. In 1889, the Bovril Company was formed.

Bovril holds the unusual position of having been advertised with Papal approval. An advertising campaign of the early 20th Century in Britain depicted the Pope seated on his throne, bearing a mug of Bovril. The campaign slogan ran: "The Two Infallible Powers - The Pope & Bovril".

In 1902 Captain Robert Scott went on an expedition to the Antarctic and on Christmas Day his colleague, Ernest Shackleton, brewed up a big tub of Bovril for Scott’s team.

In 1971, Cavenham Foods acquired the Bovril Company but then sold most of its dairies and South American operations to finance further take-overs. The brand is now owned by Unilever.

Bovril can be made into a drink by diluting with hot water, or less commonly with milk.  It can also be used as a flavouring for soups, stews or porridge, or spread on bread, especially toast, rather like Marmite.

Bovril holds the unusual position of having been advertised with a Pope. An advertising campaign of the early 20th century in Britain depicted Pope Leo XIII seated on his throne, bearing a mug of Bovril. The campaign slogan read: The Two Infallible Powers - The Pope & Bovril.

Sources WikipediaHistory World


Boules is a French ball game similar to bowls, played between two players or teams, also known as pétanque. The object is to place the ball nearer to a target ball, or jack, than the opposing player or team. It is thought to have first been played in 1910

Points are scored when everyone is out of boules: one point for each boule closer to the jack than the best-placed boule of your opponents. First team to 13 wins.

The only really essential equipment is a set of six steel boules. A set costs anywhere from US$5 for a rusty old set you may be lucky enough to come across to US$120 for a competition set.

A Buddhist monk published a book, L'esprit de la pétanque, advocating the game of boules as an aid to meditation. Maître Kaisen's slim, 95-page volume maintains that similar qualities are required for pétanque and for Buddhist prayer, such as an ability to focus entirely on the game and to ignore outside distractions.

A case of six boules, plus cochonnet (the small jack), will weigh between four and five kilos.



Boudicca (d60AD) has been known by several versions of her name. William Cowper's poem, Boadicea, an ode (1782) popularized an alternate version of the name. From the 19th century and much of the late 20th century, "Boadicea" was the most common version of the name, which is probably derived from a mistranscription when a manuscript of Tacitus was copied in the Middle Ages. Her name was clearly spelled Boudicca in the best manuscripts of Tacitus.

According to Roman historian Dio Cassius her appearance was "terrifying."  She was tall, grim faced, piercing eyes and harsh voiced with strawberry blonde hair tumbling down to her hips. Boudicca  used the leaves of the plant woad to dye her body blue. You can always check out the statue of Boudicca on Westminster Bridge in London.

Boudicca wore around her neck was a large golden necklace, and she was habitually clad in a many coloured tunic and a thick cloak fastened by a broach.

She spoke a Celtic dialect whose closest surviving language today is Welsh. Once the Romans came her tribe adopted the Latin script.

Boudicca's husband was Prasutagus, King of Iceni, which is sort of modern day East Anglia. He died around AD60 at the hands of the Romans. He'd bequeathed his property jointly to his two daughters and the Roman emperor Nero.

 In 60AD taxation was introduced to Britain with the legions of the Roman army, when slaves were subject to a 4% sales tax & there was a 1% tax on everything else. But corruption among the tax collectors of East Angela was one of the factors in prompting Boudicca to lead a revolution.

She inspired the whole of South East England to revolt against the Romans almost forcing them out of Britain. Boudicca led an attack on Colchester whilst taking advantage of the Roman governor Suetonius' absence in Anglesey where he was putting down a revolt. She murdered its Roman inhabitants and seized its imperial temple.

When news of the rebellion reached him, Suetonius hurried along Watling Street and gathered enough troops to engage and they encountered Boudicca and her unruly army somewhere on Watling Street. The battle was watched by a sizable crowd of British women, children and ineligible men . They witnessed a shattering defeat,and 80,000 British warriors and spectators died, including Boudicca. The Romans despite their army being stretched trying to subdue the Druids only lost 400.

According to Tacitus, Boudicca and her daughters all poisoned themselves; Dio Cassius says she fell sick and died, and was given a lavish burial.In 1988 archaeologists claimed to have located her grave under platform 8 at Kings Cross Station.

Boudicca's fame took on legendary proportion in Victorian Britain, and Queen Victoria was seen as her "namesake".

If it wasn't for Boudicca, the then capital of England Colchester might have remained so. However after the Warrior Queen sacked Colchester, the relatively new town of London became England's capital and it has never looked back since..



Though the Romans developed glass blowing and the possibility of manufacturing wine bottles,  the selling of wine in bottles was not popular. Because glass is hand blown, the bottles therefore varied greatly in size. Because of this rather than never knowing exactly how much wine they were getting, consumers preferred to bring in their own containers, into which a measured amount of wine was poured.

The first commercial product manufactured in the United States and exported to Europe was a glass bottle made in Jamestown in 1608.

The first glassworks to specialize in making wine bottles was set up in Bordeaux in 1723 by an Irishman. By the eighteenth century, the development of more efficient methods for stoppering wine combined with the use of glass bottles with small bottlenecks were making airtight wine storage possible, thus aiding the controlled ageing of wine. Previously for many centuries, bottles had been imperfectly closed by a wooden stopper, a piece of rag or by topping the liquid with olive oil.

A German immigrant, Caspar Wistar, pioneered America’s first large-scale production of bottles for beer and wine at his New Jersey plant in 1739. It was the earliest successful workers' co-operative venture in the colonies.

In 1875 An American, Hiram Cod, invented a gas-tight bottle that preserved the fizz in lemonade. He only manufactured non-alcoholic drinks so because "wallop" was at the time a slang term for beer, the phrase "Cod’s wallop" started being  used to describe drinks that do not contain alcohol.

Milk was delivered in glass bottles for the first time in 1878 - by one Alexander Campbell, in New York. Up to that time, moo juice had been ladled out of a container by the milkman, right into the customer’s own container.

Dan Rylands of Hope Glass Works in Barnsley, England, patented the screw bottle top in 1889.

A Baltimore machine shop operator, William Painter invented the crown cap on February 2, 1892. Tiny in design, the "Crown Cork Bottle Seal" completely revolutionized the soft drink industry by preventing the escape of carbon dioxide that creates the bubbles, from bottled beverages. The stoppers that had been used in glass bottles were generally made of cork, metal or porcelain, which had the disadvantage of making the drink toxic, and therefore undrinkable, should they make contact with the bottles' contents.

The original glass Coca-Cola bottles were inspired by an illustration of a cocoa bean, which has elongated shape and grooves.

The record for the oldest message in a bottle was held for a time by one dropped into the North Sea in 1906. The bottle floated around for 108 years and 138 days until it was found by Marrianne Winkler on an island off Germany in 2015 The message, on a postcard, asked the recipient to send it back stating where it was found.

Perth, Australia resident Tonya Illman found the world’s oldest message in a bottle in 2018 after deciding to pick up some rubbish while on a walk with her family along the beach. She, together with her son’s girlfriend, tipped out the sand that had become lodged inside the bottle, and uncovered a piece of paper dated June 12, 1886 making it nearly 132 years old.

Henry Ford captured his last dying breath in a bottle.

Orangina's bottle, shaped like an orange, with a glass texture designed to mimic the fruit, was introduced by soft drink manufacturer's founder Jean-Claude Beton in 1951.

The US government set a requirement in 1979 that all bottles be exactly 750ml as part of the push to become metric. The European Union encouraged at the same time wine manufacturers to adopt the same size, to enable a worldwide standardization.


More steel in the United States is used to make bottle caps than to manufacture automobile bodies.

No one knows why there is a 33 on a Rolling Rock bottle... the secret died with the original brewer.

Glass bottles make significantly better containers for carbonated beverages due to the fact that air can diffuse through plastic, allowing the CO2 to escape.  Thus, carbonated beverages stored in plastic containers have a much shorter shelf life than their glass counterparts.

By recycling just one glass bottle, the amount of energy that is being saved is enough to light a 100 watt bulb for four hours.

The glass of a beer bottle is brown or green to block harmful UV sunlight, preserving the taste.

The Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple in Thailand was constructed with 1 million recycled beer bottles.

A labeophilist is a person who collects beer bottles.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, it is against the law to open a soda bottle without the supervision of a licensed engineer.

Burglars opened 1,200 bottles of beer in a store in Germany and stole the bottle caps in an attempt to win promotional prizes.

The expiration date on bottled water is for the bottle, not the water.

The indent on the bottom of wine bottle is called a punt.

Milestii Mici wine-making plant in Moldova holds the world record for the largest cellar by number of bottles; it has over 1.5 million.

The world record for carrying a milk bottle on your head is an astonishing 24 miles.

The world record for the most beer bottle caps removed with the teeth in one minute is sixty eight.


Sunday, 3 March 2013

Sandro Botticelli

Sandro Botticelli was born at Florence in 1444 in a house in the Via Nueva, Borg' Ognissanti. This was the home of his father, Mariano di Vanni dei Filipepi, a struggling tanner.

A return made in 1457 by his father describes Sandro as aged thirteen, weak in health, and still at school (if the words "sta al legare" are to be taken as a misspelling of "sta al leggere", otherwise they might perhaps mean that he was apprenticed either to a jeweller or a bookbinder).

Botticelli's real name was Alessandro Filipepi. He became known as Botticelli when he went to live with his older brother, Botticello.

Botticelli trained, probably, under Filippo Lippi (c.1458), and from c.1470 worked from his own studio.

Self-portrait of Botticelli, in his Adoration of the Magi (1475)

He is best known for his treatments of mythological subjects, notably Primavera (Spring) and Birth of Venus, both in the Uffizi.

Venus and Mars by Sandro Botticelli in around 1485, shows the Roman gods Venus, goddess of love, and Mars, god of war, in an allegory of beauty and valor. Probably intended to commemorate a wedding, the work was likely set into paneling or a piece of furniture to adorn the bedroom of the bride and groom.

Venus and Mars

Botticelli's work included illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy, which he executed in pen and ink and silverpoint.

Among his numerous devotional pictures were the Coronation of the Virgin and the large circular Madonna and Child.

Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist, c. 1470–1475, Louvre

In 1481 Pope Sixtus IV asked Botticelli to help decorate the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. Internal evidence shows that Sandro and his assistants bore a chief share in the series of papal portraits that decorate the niches between the windows.

There are 500 identified plant species depicted in Boticelli's painting Primavera (see below).

Botticelli never married and is believed to have had an unrequited love for a married woman Simonetta Vespucci, who was part of Amerigo Vespucci's family. (America was named after Amerigo Vespucci.) She served as the model for his Birth of Venus and recurs throughout his paintings

In Botticelli's later years was much influenced by the teaching of Girolamo Savonarola, who in 1497 organised a “bonfire of the vanities” at the carnival celebration before Lent, in which Florentine luxury goods, works of art, pornographic books and gambling equipment were publicly burnt. Botticell himself destroyed some of his earlier mythological paintings, feeling that when they were painted, he was unduly influenced by the worldly spirit of the age.

Sandro Botticelli died on May 17, 1519, a lonely man having done little or no more painting in the last ten years. He was buried next to his adored Simonetta Vespucci. It was not until over 350 years after his death that the world recognized his importance in art.



The British protectorate of Bechuanaland declared its independence on September 30, 1966, and became the Republic of Botswana. Seretse Khama took office as the first President.

The flag of Botswana  was adopted in 1966 to replace the Union Jack. Its colors carry cultural, political, and regional meanings. The light blue represents rain water, which is a precious resource in Botswana. The black band with the white frame symbolizes the harmony and cooperation between the people of different races who live in Botswana, as well as the racial diversity of the country. Furthermore, they represent the stripes of the zebra, the national animal of Botswana.

Batswana is the word used for many citizens of Botswana. One citizen is a motswana.

English is the official language while Setswana is considered the national language. Tjikalanga is commonly spoken in northeastern Botswana.

In the !Xoo language of Botswana and Namibia, spoken by about 4,000 people, there are 112 distinct sounds (there are about 40 in English). The ! at the start of !Xoo represents one of the five basic click sounds in the language.

Botswana is a landlocked country 581 730, square kilometres in extent. It is roughly the size of France

Botswana has a population of just over 1.8 million people. Its population density is under four people per square kilometre.

The Kalahari Desert covers 70 per cent of Botswana.

The majority of the people live on the eastern side of the country.

Botswana is the world’s third-biggest diamond producer, behind Russia and Canada. Most of the diamonds in the country are mined by Debswana- a company in which DeBeers owns 50% of the shares and the Government of Botswana the other 50% .

Jwaneng Diamond Mine, in the south of the country, is the richest diamond mine in the world.

The official currency of Botswana is the pula which gets its name from a local word for rain. Because of the scarcity of rain in Botswana, pula also means blessing or luck and the word pula is the national motto of the country.

Botswana was never actually been colonised. It was a protectorate of Britain only after three chiefs from Botswana travelled to England to request such an arrangement.

17% of the country is protected wildlife area, more than the internationally recommended 10%.

The capital is Gaborone. Pronounced Ha-bo-ro-nee.

The kgotla system is entrenched in Setswana culture and is based on a system of democracy and free speech were every person in attendance has the right to speak their mind.

The current president is President Ian Khama. He is the son to the first president of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama. His mother was a white British woman. President Ian Khama is also paramount chief of the largest tribe in the country the Bamangwato.

When a child loses a tooth they throw their tooth on the roof and say “Mr. Moon, Mr. Moon, please bring me a new tooth.”

A popular relish is made of onions, chicken stock, and tomato sauce. Goats and chickens are raised for meat. Cattle are slaughtered only for special occasions.

The Makgadikadi Pans are the largest salt pans in the world with an area of about 12 000 sq km.

The Okavango delta is the largest inland delta in the world covering about 15 000 km2.

The border between Botswana and Zambia is at 700m known as the shortest border between two fully independent countries.

The coat of arms of Botswana is based on a shield supported by two zebras. One zebra is also holding an elephant's tusk, the other a stalk of millet.

Farmers in Botswana have started painting eyes on their cows bottoms to stop lions from attacking them.

Sources,,,, Daily Express

Ian Botham

Ian Botham (born November 24, 1955) is also known fondly as Beefy and Guy the Gorilla due to his large build.

On June 19, 1978 Ian Botham became the first cricketer in history to score a century and take eight wickets in one Test match innings - against Pakistan at Lords.

His famous play during the 1981 Test series resulted in the 1981 Ashes between England and Australia becoming known as Botham’s Ashes. On the 4th day of the Headingly Test,  whilst England was predicted to lose by the Bookies at an odds of 500-1, Botham single-handedly made the comeback with his innings of 149 not-out.

On five occasions, Botham scored a century and took five wickets in an innings in the same Test match, a record others have managed to do only twice.

In 1986 he was suspended for smoking cannabis

In 102 Tests for England between 1977 and 1992 he became the first player in Test cricket to score over 5,000 runs as well as take over 300 wickets He once held the record for the highest number of Test wickets taken by an England player (383).

Botham batting at Trent Bridge, 1983

During his time playing first-class, he scored 19,399 runs at 33.97, took 1,172 wickets at 27.22 and held 354 catches.

Botham was always very talented at football as well as cricket and made 11 appearances in the Football League for Scunthorpe.

Botham has been a prodigious fundraiser for charitable causes, undertaking a total of 12 long-distance charity walks. His efforts were inspired after a visit to Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital whilst receiving treatment for a broken toe; when he took a wrong turn into a children's ward, he was devastated to learn that some of the children had only weeks to live, and why.

Botham in 2013. By Nic Redhead - Flickr: Sky Team

Because of such efforts, together with his spectacular cricketing achievements Botham was knighted by the Queen in 2007 at Buckingham Palace.

Ian Botham is colorblind.


The Ancient Assyrians, Chinese and Egyptians all established botanical gardens in which they grew various plants and herbs for medical purposes.

The noted Greek philosopher and scientist Theophrastus (372-287 BC) is sometimes called the "Father of Botany." He wrote two books, On Odors and An Enquiry into Plants that summarized the knowledge of his time concerning spices and herbs. In the latter Theophrastus made the important fundamental observation that the flower must always precede the fruit, that is, that a fruit is the product of a flower.

Elizabethan botanist John Gerard (1545-1612), penned in 1598 The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes. The 1,484 page book is described as the largest single-volume work on plants that has been published in English.

Claude Aubriet is thought to have been the first artist to accompany a botanical expedition travelling to the Middle East in 1700. There he made drawings of historical sites and the region's flora.

A Malva, illustrations by Aubriet for Tournefort's Institutiones
One of the earliest of America's botanists was John Bartram (1699-1777).  He corresponded with the leading botanists and gardeners of Europe and exchanged seeds and plants with them. In 1728 Bartram he purchased land at Kingsessing, near Philadelphia, which he developed into the first botanical garden in the American colonies and where he conducted the first hybridization experiments in America.

Charles Darwin was a gifted botanist who used his own gardens at Down to great effect. In the last two decades of his life he wrote five botanical books, describing a wide range of observational and experimental work. It included the role of insects on cross-fertilization and the adaptions of climbing plants such as ivy.

The highest tree in the world. the, Sequoia Evergreen, is located in California. Its height is 111 meter.

Narcissus flower is the most poisonous plant in the world.

The largest flower in this world is the Rafflesia, which is 90 cm in diameter.

The Raphia palm tree has got the largest leaves; one leaf can grow up to 20 meters.

Gardenias are the most fragrant flowers in the world.

The fastest growing plant in the world is Bamboo; it can grow up to 90 cm per day.

Scientists believe that the oldest plants, algae have existed on Earth for at least 1 billion years.

The Pitcher plant is the most dangerous plant because it is a carnivorous plant, a meat eater.

Ginkgo biloba are the oldest species of plants growing in soil. They grew on Earth millions of years ago and remembers the era of dinosaurs.

An average tree filters up to 40 pounds of pollutants from the air each year.

More than 375 000 plant species have been discovered on the planet Earth.

The Sea has got more plant species than dry land.

Water only goes up the roots and stem, food and most nutrients travel both ways.

Sources Europress Encyclopedia,  Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc, Encarta Encyclopedia,

Battle Of Bosworth Field

When Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, the head of the rival House of Lancaster, landed at Milford Haven, Wales. Richard III hastened to meet him at Bosworth Field, near the village of Market Bosworth, 12 miles west of Leicester.

According to local tradition in Leicester Richard went to see a seer in the town before heading off for the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485. She told him "where your spur should strike on the ride into battle, your head shall be broken on the return".

Richard is reputed to have celebrated Mass at St James’ Church before the Battle of Bosworth.

Richard had 11,000–12,000 men and a strong position on Ambion Hill. Henry had 5,000–7,000 troops, but Lord Stanley commanded 5,000 men to the north of the royalists and when Stanley switched sides, it severely depleted his army's strength.

King Richard III at Bosworth Field. Wikipedia Commons

As many of Richard's men deserted him, his friends urged him to flee but the determined Richard fought on furiously. The King was forced into a swamp unhorsed and was hacked at by Welsh pikemen. As he fell mortally wounded, his crown was picked up and placed on Henry's head.

Richard was to be the last English King to die on the battlefield. The late King’s body was slung on a horse and taken to Leicester.

On the ride into battle Richard’s spur struck the bridge stone of the Bow Bridge; as he was being carried back over the back of a horse his head struck the same stone and was broken open.

It is said that Richard's body was dragged naked through the streets before being buried at Greyfriars Church, Leicester.

The name of Richard’s horse at Bosworth was “White Surrey”.

Tudor succeeded Richard to become Henry VII, and cemented the succession by marrying the Yorkist heir, Elizabeth of York.

Richard’s death at Bosworth marked the end of the Middle Ages.

The true location of the Battle of Bosworth was only ascertained in 2009, around a mile from the place previously thought.

There is a fish and chip shop in Bosworth Market called “The Batter of Bosworth”.

Source Daily Express