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Monday, 24 February 2014



English physician and cider maker Christopher Merrett devised the fermentation method of champagne. Merrett also invented in 1662 the bottles needed to hold champagne without exploding.

The first reference to champagne in English was by Samuel Butler in 1663 in his poem Hudibras.

The blind Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Pérignon was appointed the wine master of the Abbey of Hauteville in Champagne, France in 1668. After years of experimentation, he developed a sparkling wine. Using a new blend of black grapes, he used strong English glass to withstand the pressure of the sparkling beverage. On trying this new fizzy white wine he cried excitedly  "Oh, come quickly. I am drinking the stars."

Dom Pierre Pérignon

The date traditionally ascribed to Dom Perignon's invention of the beverage is August 4, 1693. The famous champagne Dom Pérignon, the prestige cuvée of Moët & Chandon, is named for him.

Pérignon used cork stoppers made of the outer bark of an oak tree, which previously had been used by Spaniards to seal their wineskins. They replaced the existing hemp-wrapped wooden stoppers.

Jean François de Troy's 1735 painting Le Déjeuner d'Huîtres (The Oyster Luncheon) is the first known depiction of Champagne in painting.

Jean François de Troy's 1735 painting Le Déjeuner d'Huîtres

Champagne took off after a magnificent banquet thrown by the Marquis of Sillery. Once his party had got going, some girls dressed as ancient Greeks celebrating Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, appeared on the floor carrying flower-wreathed bottles of the new drink. The corks were popped and the fizzy wine was poured into unusually large glasses especially made for the occasion. A good time was had by all, the word was spread and champagne was soon being drunk in many European courts.

It wasn’t until industrialization made mass production of the champagne accessible to lower classes that widespread consumption of the beverage occurred.

Queen Victoria's drink of choice was Perrier-Jouet. The monarch loved the tipple so much that she bestowed a royal warrant on the champagne brand in 1861.

Tsar Alexander II of Russia had a special crystal bottle of Roederer champagne made for the Three Emperors Dinner in 1867 so he could admire the bubbles.

The first reference to a “Champagne socialist” was in 1906.

Between 1908 and 1965, it is reputed that Winston Churchill had 42,000 bottles of his favourite champagne Pol Roget opened for him.

In 1997 divers discovered bottles of champagne on the shipwreck of the Swedish boat Jonkoping, which had been torpedoed off the coast of Finland 81 years earlier in World War I. They found the cold sea had kept the bubbly perfectly drinkable.


The only Ian Fleming novel in which James Bond drinks Dom Pérignon is Moonraker. However, 007 drinks Dom Pérignon in at least eight films but is inconsistent about his preferred vintage.

Marilyn Monroe once took a bath filled with champagne. It is said that 350 bottles of champers were used to fill it up.

A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continually from the bottom of the glass to the top. This is because the carbonation in the drink gets pockets of air stuck in the wrinkles of the raisin, which is light enough to be raised by this air. When it reaches the surface of the champagne, the bubbles pop, and the raisin sinks back to the bottom, starting the cycle over again.

Despite the fact champagne is generally white in color, it is primarily made up of a blend that includes around two-thirds red wine grapes of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and one-third white Chardonnay grapes.

The French sell just over 300 million bottles of champagne a year.

A bottle of champagne at room temperature contains about 49 million bubbles.

A bottle of champagne contains 90 pounds or pressure per square inch, which is three times the pressure found in car tires.

The most expensive bottle of champagne was designed by Alexander Amosu and cost $2.07 million. The bottle was handcrafted from 18-carat solid gold and with a deep-cut 19-carat white diamond at its center.

The well-known Champagne label Moet & Chandon put out by the luxe LVMH group sells more than any other brand - around 30 million bottles a year worldwide.

In a perfectly smooth glass with absolutely no dust molecules in it, champagne would be completely still.

A champagne cork pops out of a bottle at 24.8 miles per hour.

Statistically you are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than by the bite of a poisonous spider.

By Niels Noordhoek - Wikipedia Commons

The champagne market is worth $450 million worldwide.

Here are a list of songs with champagne in the song title.

Sources Express, Bravo 

Sunday, 23 February 2014


There are about 160 species of chameleon living in Africa, Madagascar, Spain and Portugal, and across south Asia as far as Sri Lanka.

Some species can change the color of their skins. Their skin is made up of tiny, mirror-like crystals that reflect differing levels of light, allowing it to change color.

Primarily, Chameleons change their color to warm up (dark colors absorb more light) or to signal mood to other chameleons, Not to camouflage themselves (as many people believe).

A completely blind chameleon will still take on the colors of its environment.

The world's tiniest chameleon has been found on Madagascar. At 2.9 cm, it is one of the world's smallest lizards.

The tail is long and highly prehensile, assisting the animal when climbing. Most chameleons live in trees and move very slowly.

A chameleon's tongue is nearly twice as long as its body.To grab prey the tongue shoots out of its mouth at more than 26 body lengths per second—13.4 miles (21.6 kilometers) an hour.

The tiny Rhampholeon spinosus chameleon’s tongue can accelerate the equivalent of a car going 0 to 60 mph in one-hundredth of a second.

Chameleons have the most distinctive eyes of any reptile. They can rotate and focus separately to observe two different objects simultaneously. This gives them a full 360-degree arc of vision around their bodies and gives them stereoscopic vision for ‘shooting.’

Some species of chameleon, such as the African species C. bitaeniatus give birth to a fully-formed young enclosed in a membrane, which is immediately shed. The  newly hatched chameleon frees itself and climbs away to hunt for itself and hide from predators. The female can have up to 30 live young from one gestation

The actress Sarah Bernhardt was fond of wild animals and had at home six chameleons.

The word is used figuratively to describe a fickle person who shifts according to the opinions of others just as a chameleon can change its color to blend with its background.

Neville Chamberlain

Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister (1937-40), supporter of appeasement, was born in Birmingham on March 18, 1869.

He was the son of Joseph Chamberlain, a Member of Parliament from 1876 to 1914, and Colonial Secretary from 1895 to 1903.

At 21 Chamberlain's father sent him to manage a sisal plantation in the Bahamas to try to recoup diminished family fortunes. He didn’t become an MP until the age of 49.

Neville Chamberlain in 1921

On May 28, 1937, Stanley Baldwin resigned as Prime Minister, advising the King to send for Chamberlain. At age 68, he was the second-eldest person in the 20th century (behind Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman) to become Prime Minister for the first time,

Arthur Neville Chamberlain was one of several UK prime ministers that chose to be known by their middle names, along with Ramsay MacDonald, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan and Gordon Brown.

In 1937, Neville Chamberlain's salary as Prime Minister was £10,000 - equivalent to £500,000 today.

Chamberlain determined to pursue a policy of appeasing Nazi Germany. When Hitler invaded Austria and the Sudetenland (a part of Czechoslovakia), Chamberlain tried to keep the peace. He flew to Munich to speak with the German Fuhrer and together with the French prime minister, Édouard Daladier and the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, he made an agreement with the Nazi leader. Hitler was allowed to control the Sudetenland, but had to agree not to use his military to solve future disputes. When Chamberlain returned home on September 30, 1938, he said that the agreement meant "peace for our time."

Chamberlain arrives in Munich, September 1938. By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H12967 / Wikipedia Commons

The story is told that when Hitler saw Britain's Prime Minister alight from his plane fortified in Munich with an umbrella, he sneered loudly. A nation whose leader was so much concerned with protecting himself from rain, at a time when the existence of whole countries was in the balance, must lack power of resistance, he reasoned.

Chamberlain's policy of appeasement toward Hitler failed to prevent the outbreak of World War II. He resigned on May 10, 1940 following the defeat of the British forces in Norway.

When Neville Chamberlian moved out of 10 Downing Street, his successor, Winston Churchill's, cat Nelson kicked his cat, Munich, out of the house.

Chamberlain is mostly remembered for being the prime minister as Europe moved into the Second World War, but he also made some important changes in Britain. He passed laws that made working conditions better, limiting working hours for women and children and also introducing paid holiday for a large part of the population. He also introduced laws to try to make the population healthier by exercising and medical inspection.

Chamberlain died on November 9, 1940 of bowel cancer. He was 71 years old. The previous-but-one Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, had died exactly three years earlier on November 9, 1937 .

Source Europress Encyclopedia

Chamber Music

The phrase musica da camera, Italian for "music of the chamber," appeared in Italy late in the 16th century for music not intended for the church or for a dramatic or festive purpose. A “chamber” is a “room” (from the French word “chambre”).

The usual form in its early days was the chanson (French for "song") of four voices on a secular text, sometimes accompanied by the lute or for the lute alone.

Chamber music developed through Joseph Haydn, who wrote lots of string quartets into a private and often experimental medium, making unusual demands on players and audiences alike.

During the 20th century, the limitations of recording and radio encouraged many composers to scale down their orchestras to chamber proportions, as in Alban Berg's Chamber Concerto (1923–24) and Igor Stravinsky's Agon (1953–57).

Sources Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc, Hutchinson Enyclopedia


Chalk was once thought to derive from the remains of microscopic animals or foraminifera. In 1953, however, it was seen under the electron microscope to be composed chiefly of  unicellular lime-secreting algae, and hence primarily of plant origin.

In prehistoric times lumps of colored earth or chalk were used as markers. The lead pencil first came into use in the 16th century.

Greek and Roman women used various white powders (white lead and chalk) as make up for a fair complexion.

The Chinese used baking soda or chalk as toothpastes in medieval times.

Alfred the Great commemorated his Victory at the Battle of Edington with a chalk white horse on the downs near Westbury, which still can be seen today.

Crayola means “oily chalk.” The name combines “craie” (French for “chalk”) and “ola” (short for “oleaginous,” or “oily”).

Thomas Edison invented a receiver that contained a button-sized chalk diaphragm. This chalk receiver was widely used for many years, particularly in England.

Blackboard chalk is not real chalk. It is really plaster of Paris, but often people call it "chalk".

Tailors' chalk is not real chalk either. It is really talc. Tailors use it to draw on material when they are making clothes.

Ants will not cross a line drawn with chalk.


In ancient Greece the basic chair was the klismos, a simple seat with a curving back and sharply curving legs. This handsome design was widely copied during the revival of early Greek style in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

During the Middle Ages chairs were few in number and people sat on stones or benches. Their ownership remained a sign of high social status, a good example being the coronation chair of about 1300 in Westminster Abbey.

The Windsor chair, which had developed earlier in England, was a universal form of seating furniture in America during the last half of the 18th century.

Benjamin Franklin invented the rocking chair.

Charlotte Brontë was the first person to use the term ‘kitchen chair'’

The world record for rocking non-stop in a rocking chair is 480 hours held by Dennis Easterling, of Atlanta, Georgia.

Waldo Hanchett invented the modern dentist's chair in 1848.

The Centripetal Spring Armchair of 1849, one of the first modern office chairs, was unsuccessful outside the US because it was considered immorally comfortable.

Charles Darwin was one of the first people to put wheels on an office chair. The naturalist put wheels on the chair in his study so he could get to his specimens more quickly.

German chancellor Otto von Bismarck is credited with popularizing the office chair by distributing them throughout parliament during his time in office.

The French actress Sarah Bernhardt had a hobby of collecting chairs. She used to buy chairs everywhere filling them in all the homes that she lived in. After a flight on a balloon she wrote a book entitled Dans les nuages, impressions d'une chaise (In clouds, impressions of a chair).

The Anglo-Chinese School in Singapore holds the record for the most number of people in a musical chairs event, which took place in 1992.  Over a thousand students, teachers and assorted other people took part in the event.

The 1930s era oak chair sat on by JK Rowling when she wrote the first two Harry Potter books sold at auction for £278,000 in 2016. In its letter of authentication, the author wrote: "My sentimental side is quite sad to see it go, but my back isn’t.W

Chain Store

The A & P was the first chain-store business to be established. It began in 1842.

The famous Pizza chain store Sabarro originated in a small corner store in Brooklyn, New York, which actually sold fresh cut meat.

Kodak was the first chain store to open in Antarctica.


The chaffinch's powerful song is very well known, and its fink or vink sounding call gives the finch family its English name. Males typically sing two or three different song types, and there are regional dialects too.

Chaffinches use a complex syntax in their calls that combines distinct notes to convey meaning.

The main food of the Chaffinch is seeds, but unlike most finches, the young are fed extensively on insects, and adults also eat insects in the breeding season.

The chaffinch's typical lifespan is only three years, but the maximum age recorded is 15 years and 6 months for one in Switzerland.

The total population lies between 530–1,400 million individual chaffinches.

In Belgium, the ancient traditional sport of vinkenzetting pits male chaffinches against one another in a contest for the most bird calls in an hour.

Source Wikipedia


The Chadian Basin in Africa has been inhabited by agricultural and sedentary people for more than 2,000 years, Called Kanem when settled by Arabs in the 7th–13th centuries, the area later became known as Bornu and in the 19th century was conquered by Sudan.

France conquered the territory by 1920 and incorporated it as part of French Equatorial Africa.

Chad was the first French colony to join the Allies during the Second World War under the administration of Félix Éboué, France's first black colonial governor.

In 1960, Chad obtained independence under the leadership of François Tombalbaye.

Lake Chad was first seen by European explorers in 1823.  It is a shallow lake (depth does not exceed 16–26 ft), with the northern part being completely dry and the southern area being densely vegetated, with swamps and open pools. It is the second largest wetland in Africa.

Due to the country's distance from the sea and largely desert climate, Chad is sometimes called the "Dead Heart of Africa.”

In 2003 Chad became the world's newest oil producer and in 2004 an oil pipeline was built to Cameroon. Despite this new source of wealth, Chad remains one of the world's poorest countries.

Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne was born on January 19, 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, in Provence in the South of France. Paul's father, Louis-Auguste Cézanne (1798 –1886), was the co-founder of a banking firm that prospered throughout the artist's life, affording him financial security that was unavailable to most of his contemporaries and eventually resulting in a large inheritance.

In 1852 Cézanne entered the Collège Bourbon (now Collège Mignet), where he met and became friends with future writer Émile Zola, who was in a less advanced class, as well as future professor of optics and acoustics Baptistin Baille. The three friends would come to be known as "les trois inséparables" (the three inseparables).

Going against the objections of his banker father, Cézanne committed himself to pursuing his artistic development and left Aix for Paris in 1861. He was strongly encouraged to make this decision by Zola, who was already living in the capital at the time.

Cézanne moved to Provence to evade military service during the Franco-Prussian War. There, he painted L'Estaque, Melting Snow (see below).

Paul Cézanne was 56-years-old when he had his first one-man exhibition.

Cézanne took a lot of criticism for his painting style, but taught his pet parrot to say “Paul Cézanne is a great painter”.

He spent 17 years with his mistress and muse, Hortense Fiquet, whom he painted 27 times, before marrying her on April 28, 1886.

Fiquet was to live separately from her husband for much of their married life. After the death of Cézanne's father the pair separated, the artist moving in with his sister and mother and declaring, "My wife only cares for Switzerland and lemonade."

Hortense Cézanne in a Red Dress, c.1890

A devout Roman Catholic, Cézanne said, "When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God-made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art."

Cézanne died of pneumonia after being caught in a storm while working in a field.

Source Wikipedia 

Miguel de Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes was born in Alcalá de Henares, a Castilian city about 22 miles northeast from Madrid, on September 29, 1547.  He was the son of Rodrigo de Cervantes, an unsuccessful  penniless surgeon, who ended up in a debtor's prison. His mother, Leonor de Cortinas, may have been a descendant of Jewish converts to Christianity. Miguel was the fourth of sixth children.

He studied at the Estudio de la Villa, whose teacher, Juan López de Hoyos, referred to Cervantes as "our dear and beloved pupil," a common form of address in those days.

As a student a number of his poems appeared in a volume published in Madrid to commemorate the death of the Spanish Queen Elizabeth of Valois.

In 1569 Cervantes obtained a position as Gentleman in Waiting (a kind of secretary) in the household of Cardinal Acquaviva in Rome.

That same year Cervantes left Madrid for Rome, the reasons for which are unclear. According to some sources a warrant was issued for the arrest of one Miguel de Cervantes for having dueled and wounded the master builder Antonio de Sigura.

In 1570, Cervantes enlisted as a private soldier in a regiment of the Spanish naval elite corps, Infantería de Marina, stationed in Naples, then a possession of the Spanish crown.

As a soldier for the Papal Army, Cervantes fought in the great 1571 sea Battle of Lepanto which prevented the Turks making further inroads into Europe.

The Battle of Lepanto by Paolo Veronese (c. 1572

Though taken down with fever, Cervantes refused to stay below, and begged to be allowed to take part in the battle, saying that he would rather die for his God and his king than keep under cover. He fought bravely on board his vessel, and suffered three gunshot wounds all together, two in his chest and one left arm. It was "for the greater glory of the right" he said of the wound to his left arm which rendered it useless for the rest of his life.

Cervantes always looked back on his conduct in the battle with pride: he believed that he had taken part in an event that would shape the course of European history

In 1575 the ship on which Cervantes was returning to Spain was captured by Barbary pirates. He and his brother were to Algiers, where they became slaves of a Greek renegade, Dali Marni. When the ransom sent to the pirates proved insufficient to free both he insisted that his brother be freed.

Cervantes himself made two unsuccessful attempts to escape. When one of them failed he took all the blame so that his comrades might go unpunished. The viceroy of Algiers struck by his bravery brought him from his master. After five years of slavery his relatives at last ransomed him.

Unable to continue soldiering due to his maimed hand or obtain an appointment with a noble family, Cervantes turned to writing.

Portrait of Miguel de Cervantes commonly said to be painted by Juan de Jáuregui.

Cervantes' early writing career produced a prodigious amount of poems and plays. However, he was completely unsuccessful, as he deliberately tried to write the kind of plays and poetry popular at the time, and to imitate their style, something he was woefully inadequate at doing.

Cervantes entered into an unhappy marriage to Catalina de Salazar Y Palacios in 1584, which brought him a small dowry.

He became a father to a daughter by his actress mistress Ana Franca de Rojas just before his marriage. Isabel de Saavedra became part of his household. Their marriage was childless.

Cervantes took on a series of odd jobs to make ends meet. During the Armada, Cervantes was the commissary to supply wheat, barley and oil for the troops.

His financial difficulties netted him three or more prison terms and an excommunication by the Spanish Inquisition, although it was clear Cervantes never committed any crimes.

When working as a tax collector Cervantes was imprisoned for deficiencies in his accounts, caused by the disappearance of the Portuguese banker to whom he'd entrusted the money.

The first part of Don Quixote was published in Madrid on January 16, 1605 (Second part 1615). Tradition maintains that Cervantes wrote his satire of chivalric romance in jail at Argamasilla in La Mancha. during one of his imprisonments for debt.

It's full title is "El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha ("The Ingenious Nobleman Don Quijote of La Mancha").

Don Quixote was such an immediate success that within two weeks of its publication, three pirate editions appeared in Madrid. Six editions were  printed in its first year.

Title page of first edition (1605)
According to Spanish folklore, King Philip III of Spain was looking out of his palace window when he saw a man reading a book by the roadside. The man was laughing so heartily that tears ran down his cheeks. "That man" said the king "is either crazy or reading Don Quixote."

Though Don Quixote made Cervantes some money, the pirating of the novel prevented him fully cashing in . He was never rich, in fact he wrote Don Quixote because he was short of cash. His plays had failed, his salary was paid late and he was plagued by litigation.

When Don Quixote pt 1 was published such a style was still a novel idea and it was a major influence on the development of the European novel.

Don Quixote pt 2 is considered to be better than the first in terms of construction and characterisation.

English translations of Don Quixote have frequently been published at intervals. There was only one in the 1600s, but there were at least three during the 1700s, three or four more between 1881 and 1899, three between 1949 and 1957, and there have since been three more published between 1993 and 2003.

Don Quixote has been translated into all modern languages and has appeared in some 700 editions.

Some well known sayings that originate from Don Quixote:
"There are only two families in the world, my old grandmother used to say. 'The haves and the havenots.'”
"Tell me what company thou keepest and I'll tell you what thou art."
"The pot calls the kettle black."
"Be slow of tongue and quick of eye"
"The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

According to Don Quixote the 11th commandment is "mind your own business."

Cervantes' appearance was typical of his period with forked beard and a fancy walrus moustache.

Cervantes' favorite book was Tirant lo Blanch a chivalrous romance written in 1490 by Johan de Galba & Johannot Martorell.

His one-act Eight Interludes, published in 1615, were written, unlike his full-length plays, mostly in prose, and mostly in the colloquial style which was his alone. They were considered unworthy of Cervantes' abilities for a fairly long time, but have lately come to be highly regarded by critics.

Cervantes was told by the playhouse manager that his Eight Interludes did not measure up to the works of other playwrights of the era, which made him quite angry. However, he remained  optimistic about their chances and published them so that at least the reading public might know them. They have appeared in several English translations, but have never gained as wide a public as Don Quixote.

In 1609 Cervantes joined a confraternity which honored the blessed sacrament. Four years later, he traveled to Alcalá, where he became a Franciscan novice.

Incurably ill of dropsy, Cervantes was formally initiated into the Franciscan order in April 1616.

Shortly before his death Cervantes  wrote, "Good-bye pleasant fancies, for I perceive that I am dying. My wish is to see you happy in the other life. "

Cervantes died of dropsy on April 22, 1616,  just after completing Persiles y Sigismonde. and was buried clad in his Franciscan habit at the Convent Church of Trinitarian Nuns in the Calle de Cantarranas in Madrid.

His contemporary, William Shakespeare, died ten days later, and when the calendar was amended, by a freak coincidence, his death date also read (and has remained) April 23, 1616.

When the convent was rebuilt late in the 17th Century, Cervantes' remains were moved into the new building. However, his coffin was lost and his tomb was only re-discovered in 2015.

There is a Cervantes museum in Valladolid, Spain.

George Washington bought the book Don Quixote on September 17, 1787, the day the Constitution was signed.

Nick Kershaw had a UK #10 hit with "Don Quixote," possibly the only early 17th century Spanish novel to inspire a British hit record.

The Broadway musical Man of La Mancha tells the story of the "mad" knight, Don Quixote, as a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition. The original 1965 Broadway production ran for 2,328 performances and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The principal song, "The Impossible Dream" has became a standard. It is sung in the musical by Don Quixote as he stands vigil over his armor, in response to Aldonza (Dulcinea)'s question about what he means by "following the quest" and reprised partially three more times.

Sources  A Lifetimes' Reading Philip Ward, IMDB, Wikipedia 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a nonprogressive abnormality of the brain arising during or shortly after birth.  It is called cerebral palsy because the area of the brain that is damaged is the cerebrum.

The condition is characterized by muscle spasm, weakness and, lack of coordination. The person affected often has trouble standing or walking and may also be partly paralysed. They may also suffer from other problems, such as learning difficulties, or mental retardation.

David Cameron's first child, Ivan Reginald Ian, was born with a rare combination of cerebral palsy and a form of severe epilepsy called Ohtahara syndrome, requiring round-the-clock care. Ivan died at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London, on February 25, 2009, aged six.

On December 6, 2007, South Korea's Chang-Hyun Choi, who is affected by cerebral palsy and is paralyzed from the neck down, completed his record-breaking journey of 17,398 miles (28,000 km) by mouth controlled motorised wheelchair across 35 countries in Europe and the Middle East.


Roman Centurions commanded units, called centuries, that generally averaged 100 men.

Centurions usually began as regular officers and worked their way up through the ranks. Army service for males usually began around age 17, and roughly half of the enlisters who survived the required 20 years of service were highly rewarded.

If a Roman soldier lost his shield, he ran the risk of being crucified as a punishment-and a deterrent to others.

The extravagant fringe on top of a centurion’s helmet wasn’t just decorative-he used it as a direction-pointer to his men during battle.

The centurion's emblem of office was a vinestaff. 

Central Heating

Central heating has its origins in the underfloor heating system introduced by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago. Warm and hot rooms in Roman times had underfloor heating with hot air channeled from furnaces.

The traditional houses of rural Korea have a similar device known as the ondol, which has been in use for about 2000 years. Ondol, which means "warm stone," involves the use of stones and underground ducts to help transport warm air from the kitchen to the rooms in the house.

The American architect Frank Lloyd Wright discovered ondol in the early 1900s and used it in many of his building designs

Leonardo Da Vinci created a forced air central heating system for a castle in Milan in the late 15th century.

From the 18th century, steam central heating, usually by pipe, was available in the West and installed in individual houses on an ad hoc basis.

The Scottish engineer James Watt heated his study with a steam pipe connected to a boiler, and Matthew Boulton installed steam heating in a friend's Birmingham house.

The Duke of Wellington's country house at Stratfield Saye near Basingstoke was presented to him in 1815 after his Waterloo victory. He installed central heating there, which was still at the time a little known luxury.

37% of British homes had central heating in 1972. In 2011 it was 98%.

Source Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2014. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

Central African Republic

Count Savorgnan de Brazza led French expeditions into the region in the 1880s and the French colony of Ubangi-Shari was established the following decade.

It became self-governing within French Equatorial Africa, under the name Central African Republic, in 1958 and achieved full independence in 1960.

In December 1977 Bokassa was crowned emperor at a lavish ceremony his country could ill afford. His rule became increasingly dictatorial and idiosyncratic, leading to revolts by students. In April 1979 schoolchildren who objected to the compulsory wearing of school uniforms made by a company owned by the Bokassa family revolted. Many of the children were imprisoned, and it is estimated that at least 100 were killed, with the emperor allegedly personally involved.

The CAR covers a land area of about 240,000 square miles, and has an estimated population of about 4.4 million as of 2008.

Forest covers up to 8% of the land. The densest parts are in the south. The deforestation rate is 0.4% per year, and lumber poaching is commonplace.

Source Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2014. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.


The amount of legs a centipede has varies on the species. Their number of legs varies from under 20 to over 300.

The length of the centipede's legs increase as you go down the centipede's body. This prevents the centipede from stepping on his or her legs. It also helps them to move quickly in a special rhythm.

Centipedes are not classified as insects because they have more than six legs. They are part of the arthropod family (that includes insects) and are in the myriapod class.

Worldwide, there are estimated to be 8,000 species of centipede, of which 3,000 have been described.

The most common place for centipedes to live are forests around the world. However,they also reside in caves, deserts, gardens and grasslands

The house centipede is a carnivore that feeds on cockroaches, house flies and other domestic pests. It is therefore beneficial. But because it has a scary appearance it is often exterminated.

Centipedes hunt for their food eating almost anything that is soft-bodied and in a reasonable size range. They search for spiders, worms, flies and other insects to turn into a meal. Some of the larger centipedes will even eat slugs, snails, rats and small lizards.

Centipedes come in various sizes. Some scientists are only an inch or two in length. However, some centipedes are much longer. The Amazonian giant centipede, is the largest existing species of centipede in the world, reaching over 30 cm (12 in) in length.

Despite 'centipede' meaning '100 feet,' a centipede has never been discovered with 100 legs. The closest, a species found in 1999, has 96 legs.

Centipedes move at different speeds, but some can go as fast as 20 inches per second. That is faster than many arthropods.

The house centipede can withstand falling at great speed: they reach up to 15 body lengths per second when dropped, surviving the fall.

Centipedes are relatively long-lived when compared to their insect cousins. For example,  the European Lithobius forficatus can live for 5 or 6 years.

Centipedes don't mate. Instead they leave packets of their sperm, called spermatophore, around for females to find.

Centipedes may take up to three years to be able to breed.

They are eaten by many animals. Centipedes try to defend and protect themselves by producing a sticky and smelly substance. They can also pinch their prey using their hind legs.

Some species of centipede can be hazardous to humans because of their bite. Although a bite to an adult human is usually very painful and may cause severe swelling, chills, fever, and weakness, it is unlikely to be fatal.

The Scolopendra cataracta (waterfall centipede) is a species of centipede that is currently only known to live in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. It is the first known amphibious centipede, growing to up to 20 centimetres (7.9 in) in length and with a painful venomous bite. It is commonly referred to as the "aquatic centipede". has been observed both running along stream beds and swimming with eel-like horizontal undulations of its body. Out of water, water rolls off the centipede's body leaving it dry as the surface is very hydrophobic.

Image of Scolopendra cataracta. By Original image: Warut Siriwut, Gregory D. Edgecombe. Chirasak Sutcharit, Piyoros Tongkerd, Somsak Panha; crop by EdChem - Wikipedia Commons

The Geophilus hadesi, a tiny species of centipede, has been found living in a trio of central Croatian caves. One specimen appeared some 3,600 feet beneath the Earth’s surface, the deepest a live centipede has ever been found. In homage to Hades, the scientists dubbed their creature Geophilus hadesi.

Sources Wikipedia, Yahoo! Voices 


In 399 BC, Greek philosopher, Socrates, defied attempts by the Greek state to censor his philosophical teachings and was sentenced to death by drinking a poison, hemlock. Socrates' student, Plato, supposedly went on to advocate censorship.

Areopagitica; A speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc’d Printing, to the Parliament of England is a prose polemical tract by the English poet John Milton opposing licensing and censorship, which was published on November 23, 1644. Areopagitica is among history's most influential and impassioned philosophical defenses of the principle of a right to freedom of speech and expression.

Sweden was in 1766 the first country to introduce a constitutional law where censorship was abolished and the freedom of the press guaranteed.

In 1873 the US Congress enacted the Comstock Law, making it illegal to send any "obscene, lewd, or lascivious" books through the mail.

The first film to be censored in UK was Charles Urban's ninety second movie of a piece of Stilton cheese viewed from a microscope. Released in 1898 the image of active bacteria on a cheese created a storm of protest from British cheesemakers so it was quietly withdrawn from exhibition.

In 1907 Chicago became the first city to regulate and censor movies. The Chicago Tribune announced that the over 115 nickelodeons across the city had an “influence that is wholly vicious.”

The 1925 song “How Could Red Riding Hood (Have Been So Very Good)” by A.P. Randolph was the first tune to be banned from radio due to its sexual suggestiveness.

To avoid government censorship, Hollywood movie studios instituted their own set of industry censorship guidelines in 1930, popularly known as the Hays Code.

The Nazis banned and burned the book Bambi because it was by a Jewish author.

Georgia approved the first literature censorship board in the United States on February 19, 1953, when the General Assembly unanimously voted to establish the Georgia Literature Commission.

The Catholic Church abolished its list of Forbidden Books On June 14, 1966. It had existed since the sixteenth century and by 1948 over 4,000 titles had been censored including works by Erasmus, Defoe, Descartes and Immanuel Kant.

The FBI investigated the song “Louie Louie” because the agency thought the lyrics were dirty. After three months, the FBI abandoned the investigation because it couldn’t make out the words.

Because of TV censorship, actress Mariette Hartley was not allowed to show her belly button on Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek [episode #78 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).

The People's Republic of China lifted a ban on works by Aristotle, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens in 1978.

When The Shining premiered, the MPAA wouldn’t allow blood to appear in any trailer “approved for all audiences,” but Stanley Kubrick managed to get a trailer comprised solely of the elevator scene passed by convincing the board the tsunami of blood was rusty water.

In early 1980 South African school children, fed up with the inferior apartheid-era education system, started chanting the lyrics of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)." The song, with a memorable line stating "We don't need no education," had held the top spot on the local charts for almost three months,.  By May 2, 1980, the South African government had issued a ban on "Another Brick in the Wall," creating international headlines.

Tipper Gore,  the wife of Tennessee senator Al Gore, formed the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) with three other politically-connected women after listening to the Prince song "Darling Nikki." The group pressured the RIAA to establish a ratings system for albums and concerts, and also to keep offensive album covers out of view in record stores.
On September 19, 1985 various musicians, including Frank Zappa and John Denver, testified at congressional hearings regarding warning labels on albums deemed to contain explicit lyrics. The PMRC  testified in favor of the labels, while the musicians argued that it was censorship. The result of the hearing was warning stickers on albums with offensive lyrics.

The first computer game to be certified by the British Board of Film Classification was an illustrated text adventure called Dracula, based on the Bram Stoker novel, published by CRL. The game received a 15 certificate in December 1986.

The Chinese government has censored the word "Censorship."

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

Here are some songs about censorship.


The difference between a graveyard and a cemetery is that graveyards are attached to churches while cemeteries stand alone.

The most visited cemetery in the world is Cimetière du Père Lachaise (see below), which was established in Paris in 1805.

                                          Photo by Peter Poradisch

The London Necropolis Company opened a vast cemetery at Brookwood, near Woking, Surrey in 1852. It had a private railway station, adjoining Waterloo, its own trains, and two stations in the cemetery itself, with the name Necropolis.

The most-visited presidential grave is John F. Kennedy's in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

The only other president buried in Arlington is William Howard Taft.

Bessie Smith (1894-1937) is regarded as the greatest female blues singer. After Smith's death, her grave was unmarked for 33 years because her husband, bootlegger Jack Gee, stole the headstone money.

Approximately 200 pets are buried a day in a pet cemetery.

The largest cemetery in the world is Wadi as-Salam in Najaf, Iraq. It covers an area of 1,486 acres and has been a burial site since the 7th century and is thought to hold the remains of more than ten million people.

The largest cemetery in the Western word is Calverton National Cemetery at Long Island, New York, It covers 1, 045 acres but was opened only in 1978 so hosts the remains of less than 300,000 people.

The second largest cemetery in terms of size is Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg, Germany. It covers an area of  990 acres, and has been in continuous use since 1877.

New York city's Washington Square Park used to be a graveyard. There are over 20,000 people buried there.

In New Orleans the tombs are located above the ground in cemeteries, given the high water table in the area.

Sunday, 16 February 2014


Primitive people used clay as a cement to stop up holes in their sapling huts. The Assyrians and Babylonians had no better cement than this for their stone buildings.

Builders in Greek cities on the coast of Turkey (and in particular Pergamum) developed cement in about 200 BC as a structural material, in place of weaker mortars such as gypsum plaster (used in Egypt) or bitumen (in Mesopotamia).

The Romans made a cement of slaked lime and volcanic ash. This was called pozzolana after Pozzuoli, a town near Mount Vesuvius. Unlike mortar, pozzolana was a hydraulic cement, which meant it hardened under water. The Romans used it in foundations, aqueducts, and many buildings, some of which still stand.  It was the strongest mortar in history until the development of Portland cement.

The Aztec Indians in Central America used animal blood mixed with cement as a mortar for their buildings, many of which still remain standing today.

Knowledge of how to make hydraulic cement was lost during the Middle Ages. Lime mortar, however, was used in all parts of Europe.

John Smeaton (1724-1792), an English engineer, reinvented hydraulic cement in the 1750s. He had been commissioned to rebuild Eddystone lighthouse, which was subjected to wind and wave off the Cornwall coast. Smeaton made hydraulic cement of a limestone that contained considerable clay. Such a limestone is now called cement rock, and the cement made of it, natural cement. His technique became standard.

Joseph Aspdin (1779-1855) a Yorkshire bricklayer and inventor patented what he called Portland cement on October 21, 1824 by grinding and burning together a mixture of limestone and clay. He called it "portland" because concrete made from his cement looked like stone quarried on the Isle of Portland.

A pallet with Portland cement

Portland cement, is an artificial mineral substance used in building and engineering construction. This is made by heating clay and limestone in retorts to form a clinker which is then finely ground.

John Board was one of the first people to use concrete in a domestic setting when he built Castle House in 1851.

The United States imported its first European Portland cement in 1868. American manufacture of Portland cement began in the 1870s.

Putty is a cement compound of fine powdered chalk or oxide of lead mixed with linseed oil.

The Ailanthus altissima commonly known as the tree of heaven, is said to be the only tree that can grow in cement.

Each year there is one ton of cement poured for each man woman and child in the world.

China produces and consumes about 60 percent of the world’s cement — the Three Gorges Dam alone required 16 million tonnes of it.

China used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the US did in the entire 20th century.

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


The Celts were Indo-European people that originated in Alpine Europe and spread to the Iberian peninsula and beyond.

The Celts' first known territory was in central Europe about 1200 BC, in the basin of the upper Danube, the Alps, and parts of France and southern Germany. In the 6th century BC they spread into Spain and Portugal. Over the next 300 years, they also spread into the British Isles, northern Italy, Greece, the Balkans, and parts of Asia Minor, although they never established a united empire.

Around 300BC, early Celtic language became Europe’s first lingua franca, making it the English of its day.

Celtic languages survive in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and Brittany, and have been revived in Cornwall.

Bards were originally poets of the ancient Celts whose role it was to celebrate national events, especially heroic victories.

“Briton” comes from the Celtic word “Pretani”, a tribal name meaning “the painted ones” or “the tattooed people”

As the Saxon settlers swept across Britain, the Celts, perhaps inspired by the Druids, sang “The Battle Song of Bali Mawr” before a bloody encounter.

Encyclopedia of Trivia © RM 2014. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.


It was Swiss chemist Jacques Edwin Brandenberger who invented cellophane, back in 1908.

In 1940, cellophane polled as the third most beautiful word in the English language, behind mother and memory.

Physician Wilhelm Kolff constructed the first kidney dialysis machine in wartime Holland in 1943 and treated his first patient with it. The device was made of aluminium, wood, and wet cellophane, in the form of a rotating drum.

A variety of pasta is known as 'cellophane' because it becomes transparent when cooked.

Cellophane is not made of plastic. It is made from a plant fiber, cellulose, which has been shredded and aged and then shaped into thin, flat, transparent sheets. 


Its full name is the Italian violoncello, meaning little violin, but the abbreviation cello is more commonly used today.

The cello came into use in the 17th century. At that time there was a family of instruments called the viols. The invention of wire-wound strings around 1660 in Bologna, allowed for a finer bass sound than was possible with purely gut strings on such a short body. Bolognese makers exploited this new technology to create the cello.

Originally, cello strings were made out of sheep gut. Now, metal wiring has become predominant.

The cello has a range of well over four octaves, with its four strings being tuned in fifths at C2, G2, D3, and A3.

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote six very famous suites for solo cello. One of the other best-known pieces for solo cello is ‘The Swan’ from Charles Saint-Saëns's Carnival of Animals (1887).

In the 1960s, artists such as the Beatles used the cello in popular music, in songs such as "Eleanor Rigby" and "Strawberry Fields Forever,".whilst Pink Floyd included a cello solo in their 1970 instrumental "Atom Heart Mother.”

In 1999, world renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma left his 266 year old cello, worth $2.5 million, in the back of a New York City taxi. It was returned to him in time for his evening concert.

There’s a group called the “Extreme Cellists” who played on the roofs of all 42 Anglican Cathedrals in England within two weeks.

Encyclopedia of Trivia © RM 2014. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.



The cell was discovered by Robert Hooke in 1665, who named the biological unit for its resemblance to cells inhabited by Christian monks in a monastery.

Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman from Baltimore, who died on October 4, 1951 from a rare form of cancer. Her tumors and cells continued to live and grow after she passed away and the subsequent research resulted in the remarkably durable HeLa cell line, named for her first and last initials.

Henrietta Lscks Wikipedia Commons


There are more than 10 trillion living cells in the human body.

The largest cell in the human body is the female ovum, or egg cell, which measures up to 160 microns (0.16 mm).

The smallest cell in the human body is the male sperm at 3 microns (0.003mm) (see below). It takes about 175,000 sperm cells to weigh as much as a single egg cell.

90% of the cells that make us up of aren't human but mostly fungi and bacteria.

Bacterial cells are so prolific in our bodies that they outnumber our human cells 10 to 1.

Every human spent about half an hour as a single cell.

The only cells that survive from the time you are born until death are in your eyes.

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

It takes about 20 seconds for a red blood cell to circle the whole body.

25,000,000 of your cells died while you were reading this sentence.

We die because our cells die. Though they replace themselves over and over again for some 70-odd years, they can't do so forever.

More electrical impulses are generated in one day by a single human brain cell than by all the telephones in the world.


A shrimp has more than a hundred pair of chromosomes in each cell nucleus.

The ostrich egg yolk is the biggest single cell in the world.

A bean has more DNA per cell than a human cell.

There's enough water pressure in one onion cell to cause a steam engine to explode.


Celibacy of the Priesthood

Celibacy of the clergy had been promoted as an ideal since the second century as it was believed by many that clerical sexual abstinence was an apostolic practice that must be followed by ministers of the church. However it was not enforced legally until 1075 when Pope Gregory VII as part of his Dictatus Papae (The Pope¹s  Memorandum) enjoined the people to take action against married priests and deprive these clerics of their revenues. There was much opposition to this. For instance in Normandy, the Archbishop of Rouen was stoned by an angry mob after ordering that priests whether single or married must give up sex. 


Celery is mentioned in Homer’s Iliad, where the horses of Myrmidon grazed on wild celery.

The Greeks, Egyptians and Romans used celery in funerals where it was made into garlands.

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed celery as a nerve soother.

The ancient Romans considered celery an aphrodisiac. They may have been right: it contains the pheromone androsterone, released by men’s sweat glands to attract females.

From classical times to the Middle Ages, celery was used as a medicinal plant to treat toothache, insomnia, gout, rheumatism, anxiety and arthritis.

Celery was first used as a food during the 16th century in Italy.

Celery was first mentioned in English in 1664 by the diarist John Evelyn, who spelled it 'sellery.'

The town of Celeryville, Ohio, was founded by early 19th century celery farmers.

The Pascal variety of celery is the most popular in the US, and was first grown in Kalamazoo, Michigan. in 1847.

There is a celery museum in Portage, Michigan, called the Celery Flats Interpretive Center.

It takes just one ounce of celery seed to produce an acre of celery.

Celery has negative calories. It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with.

Sources Daily Express, Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

Saint Cecilia

Saint Cecilia was a 2nd century Christian Roman maiden of patrician birth. Despite her vow of celibacy, she was forced by her parents to marry a pagan nobleman named Valerian.

She succeeded in persuading Valerian to respect her vow, and converted him to her Christian faith. They were both put to death for their beliefs.

Saint Cecilia and Saint Valerian. Lelio Orsi 

Saint Celila is the patroness of musicians. It is written that while the profane music was played at Saint Cecilia's wedding she was "singing in her heart a hymn of love for Jesus, her true spouse" hence her association with music-making.

Her feast day is November 22nd.

American rock group Foo Fighters released their Saint Cecilia EP on November 22, 2015.

Originally written for Songfacts


Olean, New York was the first city in the United States to install video cameras along its main business street in an effort to fight crime in September 1968.

In 1987, Kings Lynn became the first in Britain to install town centre CCTV, though Bournemouth had previously used CCTV in non-central locations.

Britain has 20 per cent of the world's CCTV cameras - one for every 14 of us. (2008)

The single crime most frequently prosecuted as a result of CCTV cameras is men urinating in public on their way home at night from pubs.

The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by British philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). The idea behind the design was to allow an observer to watch all inmates of an institution without them being able to tell whether or not they are being observed. Social critics have subsequently used the principle behind Bentham's Panopticon project as a metaphor for the intrusion of modern societies and their pervasive inclination to observe and normalise. The increasing use of CCTV cameras in public spaces is cited as a current example of the deployment of panoptic structures.

The government of China has installed over 20 million surveillance cameras across the country. In 2012, it was reported that more than 660 of the mainland's 676 cities use surveillance systems.

In China, CCTV cameras are so sophisticated that they not only recognize faces, but also walking gait and travel patterns, and can lower credit or charge fines directly to a person’s bank account for misdemeanors or acts such as jaywalking.

William Caxton

William Caxton (ca. 1415~1422 – 1492)  set up a printing press in Bruges in 1473, in collaboration with a Fleming, Colard Mansion.

The first book to be printed in English was Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, a translation of a French book by Caxton himself. .He published his version around 1474, at a time when when most books were printed in Latin, in either Ghent or Bruges, Belgium.

Caxton set up his wooden press at Westminster in 1476. He is thought to be the first English person to work as a printer and the first to introduce a printing press into Britain.

The first book known to have been produced by Caxton at Westminster was an edition of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. He was also the first English retailer of printed books (his London contemporaries in the same trade were all Flemish, German or French).

William Caxton produced the first advertisement in English on his printing press in Westminster Abbey, London in 1477. The advertisement offered a prayer book and it claimed that the book is "good chepe."

Just three weeks before the Wars of the Roses ended at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, William Caxton put on sale his newly printed edition of Sir Thomas Malory’s prose epic Le Morte d’Arthur. Despite running to 860 pages it was an instant best-seller. Malory, as Caxton had explained, had “taken” the tales “out of certain books of French”, then “reduced” them into English.

Caxton is credited with standardising the English language through printing. This facilitated the expansion of English vocabulary, the regularisation of inflection and syntax, and a widening gap between the spoken and the written word.

It is asserted that the spelling of "ghost" with the silent letter h was adopted by Caxton due to the influence of Flemish spelling habits.

The Lyme Missal, a prayer book printed by William Caxton in 1487, was owned by just one family from 1508 to 2008 when it was purchased for £465,000 by the National Trust. 


The name caviar is said to come from the Turkish word havyar, though some believe it is from the ancient Persian term chav-jar, meaning cake of power.

At £20,000 ($30,000) per kilo, Iranian Beluga caviar is the most expensive food by weight in the world. It comes from the critically endangered beluga sturgeon that swim in the Caspian Sea.

Beluga caviar

The QE2 got through a ton of caviar a year.

Airlines are said to buy 50 per cent of the world's stock for first-class passengers.

Michael Douglas was reported to have ordered £12,000-worth for his wedding to Catherine Zeta-Jones.

During the filming of Titanic real Beluga caviar was used in the first class dining room sequence. After sampling it, Jonathan Hyde said he "made an acting decision on the spot that Ismay was a big eater."

Source Daily Mail

Henry Cavendish

Henry Cavendish was born on October 10, 1731 in Nice, France, where his family was living at the time. His mother was Lady Anne Grey, fourth daughter of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Kent and his father was Lord Charles Cavendish, third son of William Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Devonshire.

Lady Anne died in 1733, leaving Charles to bring up his two sons.

Lord Charles Cavendish lived a life of service, first in politics and then increasingly in science, especially in the Royal Society of London. In 1758 he took Henry to meetings of the Royal Society and also to dinners of the Royal Society Club.

Like his father, Henry Cavendish lived a life of service to science, both through his researches and through his participation in scientific organizations.

Henry Cavendish was the first to recognize hydrogen gas as a discrete substance, by naming the gas from a metal-acid reaction "flammable air". He is usually given credit for its discovery as an element.

Cavendish's apparatus for making and collecting hydrogen

Cavendish demonstrated in 1784 that water is produced when hydrogen burns in air, thus proving that water is a compound and not an element.

The Cavendish experiment in 1798 enabled him to discover the mass and density of the Earth. The result that Cavendish obtained for the density of the Earth is within 1 percent of the currently accepted figure.

Cavendish was painfully shy and could barely speak to one person – never to two. He was so timid in the presence of women that he communicated with his female servants by notes only. If one crossed his path in his house, she was fired on the spot. He built a separate entrance to the house so that he could come and go without meeting anyone. In the end, he insisted on dying alone.

The only socialising Cavendish would endure was to attend dinner at the Royal Society with fellow scientists. However, it was made clear to fellow guests that Cavendish could not be approached or even directly looked at.

Wikipedia Commons

Cavendish died on February 24, 1810 (as one of the wealthiest men in Britain) and was buried, along with many of his ancestors, in the church that is now Derby Cathedral.

Sources Cool trivia, Daily Mail, Hutchinson Enyclopedia © RM 2014. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell (1865-1915) was an English training nurse living in Belgium. When the First World War broke out, she was visiting her widowed mother in Norfolk in the East of England. She returned to Brussels, where her clinic and nursing school were taken over by the Red Cross.

Cavell in a garden in Brussels with her two dogs before the outbreak of war

Cavell's strong Anglican beliefs propelled her to help all those who needed help. In November 1914, after the German occupation of Brussels, Cavell began sheltering British soldiers and funneling them out of occupied Belgium to the neutral Netherlands.

Edith Cavell was arrested on August 3, 1915 and charged with harboring Allied soldiers. The British nurse had been betrayed by Gaston Quien, who was later convicted by a French court as a collaborator.

Edith Cavell was executed by a German firing squad on October 12, 1915. The night before her execution, she told the Anglican chaplain Reverend Stirling Gahan, "Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone." These words are inscribed on her statue in St Martin's Place, near Trafalgar Square in London.

George Bellows, The Murder of Edith Cavell, 1918, Princeton University Art Museum

On June 23, 1940, Adolf Hitler, his forces having taken control of France, made his one and only trip during the war to Paris. Before he left, he ordered that a memorial to Edith Cavell be demolished.

A mountain is named after her: Mount Edith Cavell, in Alberta, Canada,

Sunday, 9 February 2014


On September 12, 1940, the entrance to Lascaux Cave in southwestern France was discovered by 18-year-old Marcel Ravidat. Ravidat returned to the scene with three friends, Jacques Marsal, Georges Agnel, and Simon Coencas, and entered the cave via a long shaft. The teenagers discovered that the cave walls were covered with depictions of animals, which were later estimated by experts to be 17,300 years old.

Cave painting of Aurochs, horses, and deer at Lascaux By Prof saxx Wikipedia

The Cave of Swallows in Aquismón, San Luis Potosí, Mexico is the largest known cave shaft in the world. The floor of the cave is a 1092 feet (333-meter)) freefall drop from the lowest side of the opening, with a 370-meter (1,214 ft) drop from the highest side. The first documented exploration was on December 27, 1966 by T. R. Evans, Charles Borland and Randy Sterns.

With 405 miles of surveyed passageways Mammoth Cave in Kentucky's Mammoth Cave National Park is by far the world's longest known cave system.

Up to 40 million people in China still live in caves. Called yaodong, many have electricity and running water.

More people actually live in caves now than during the Stone Age.

Bats always turn left when exiting a cave.

Sơn Đoòng Cave in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, Vietnam is the biggest known cave in the world. 30,000 foot long, it’s so big that it has its own river, jungle and climate.

In India there are 29 caves joined together which are filled with paintings from the Buddhist, Hindu  and Jainism religions. They were constructed in 520 BC and have a size of 8,242 ha, making it one of the largest man-made cave structures ever built.

Cooper Pedy is an Australian town that lies in the outback 850 kilometres north of Adelaide. Temperatures soar to between 35 and 45 degrees in the shade in summer sending more than half of its population of 4000 underground to live in caves carved underground to stay away from the heat.

The Legend of Zelda franchise was inspired by creator Shigeru Miyamoto's childhood fascination with exploring caves.

The first use of the term "man cave" is attributed to the 1993 publication, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.