New pound coin designed to combat counterfeiting

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The Royal Mint is introducing the new coin as it believes 3% of existing £1 coins are fake

A new £1 coin, billed by the Royal Mint as the “most secure coin in the world”, is to be introduced in 2017.

The move comes amid concerns about the 30-year old coin’s vulnerability to counterfeiting, with an estimated 45 million forgeries in circulation.

The new coin is based on the design of the old threepenny bit, a 12-sided coin in circulation between 1937 and 1971.

A competition will be held to decide what image to put on the “tails” side of the coin.

The Royal Mint, which believes 3% of existing £1 coins are fake, said the move would increase “public confidence” in the UK’s currency and reduce costs for banks and other businesses.

The new coin has been modelled on the old threepenny bit


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UK in the Limelight

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Northern Lights illuminate the UK

The Aurora Borealis – better known as the Northern Lights – has been giving rare and spectacular displays over parts of the UK, from the north of Scotland to as far south as Essex and Gloucestershire.

The lights have also been clearly visible in places such as Orkney, Norfolk and south Wales.

The display, which is caused by electrically charged particles from the Sun entering the Earth’s atmosphere, led to scenes such as this one at the Stonehaven war memorial, Aberdeenshire.

Mark Thompson, presenter of the BBC’s Stargazing Live, said he had not been expecting a display as spectacular as it was in places such as Wick, in Caithness.

More brilliant photos

More brilliant photos

An Uncommon Holy Relic: Sheela-Na-Gig!


Reblogged from: northierthanthou

Okay, now I know what you are thinking; “Dan is posting porn again! Will someone please keep him away from that damned erotic heritage place!?!” But no. I tell you I didn’t find this in a red light district, smut shop, or even a kinky museum. This naughty little lady was found at a church. Her name is Sheela, or at least that’s what folks call her and a vast array of figures like her. She and her sisters go by the full name of ‘Sheela-na-Gigs’, and you can find them on churches throughout the United Kingdom. Yes, that’s right, it appears that one can find images of grotesque women spreading their labia can be found at old churches throughout the United Kingdom. Why, you may ask. Well it’s a fair question, but the answer appears to be difficult to nail down. There are a couple theories as to the origins of the term, Sheela-Na-gig, just as there are a few theories as to the reason such images could be found in old churches. Is she a relic of past paganism, an omen about the temptations of sin, or possibly just an erotic gargoyle of sorts. It really depends on who you ask.

Read more and see more images on the original post linked above.

Royal baby: The American mistake


Not a St George’s Cross in sight

Some US television networks proclaimed the royal baby news by welcoming the arrival of the “future king of England”, forgetting about the rest of the UK.

Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish… you may want to look away now. Some of the biggest names in American broadcasting have overlooked your existence amid the hysteria surrounding the newborn Windsor. Star presenters on CBS News and ABC News were among the culprits who referred to the baby as “the future king of England”. American talk show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted: “It’s a boy! So happy for my cousin Kate and the future King of England”.

But there hasn’t been a King of England since William III in the early 18th Century – and there won’t be again, unless (or until) the United Kingdom splinters completely.

“The political state of the Queen’s home nation is the ‘United Kingdom’, not England which is just one region within the country along with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland,” says Robert Blackburn, a professor of constitutional law at King’s College London. “The ‘United Kingdom’ is shorthand for the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’.”

It’s a common misunderstanding in the US. The New York Times angered many Scots when it marked Andy Murray’s Wimbledon triumph with a tweet that said: “After 77 years, Murray and England rule”

But before Brits get too sniffy about this equation between Britain and England, we should acknowledge it’s a pretty complicated business and the English are sometimes guilty of the same mistake. A common error is for the British themselves to forget about Northern Ireland by referring to “Great Britain”, which is an island, when really they mean the United Kingdom. (The Northern Irish are “British” without being part of Great Britain.)

And remember that the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are British, but not part of the UK.

Head hurting yet?

America is a desire, says the OED

This is a two-way street, and getting to grips with the correct terminology stateside is also a tricky business. The United States of America is often referred to as “America” by British people, but consult the Oxford English Dictionary and you’ll see that America is a desire, a place you yearn for. Of course, Simon and Garfunkel fans knew that already.

The distinction between America and the US is important, because there is another America, Latin America. Not to mention Central America, and the rest of North America (including Mexico and Canada).

So can we legitimately use “American” as an adjective referring to something from the US? If so, you’re back in the Britain/British quagmire again. Perhaps the answer is for everyone to be tolerant, to embrace a bit of “constructive ambiguity”… and just toast the health of the future king.


One has to ask, why?


Narrow Swindon alleyway painted with double yellow lines

The gap between the double yellow lines is just 13in (33cm)

Double yellow lines have been painted in an alleyway that is too narrow to drive down.

Lines have been painted on both sides of the passageway, off Newhall Street in Swindon, leaving a gap of just 13in (33cm).

Nathalie Fisher, a local resident, said it was a “bit of a mystery” as “you couldn’t even fit a motorbike down it.”

Swindon Borough Council said the authority will be “taking it up” with their contractors.

‘Forgot car size’

Ms Fisher, who lives on Newhall Street, said it had been “good that the council came around to clean all of the back alleyways up”.

She added: “But to find out the only reason was to double yellow everything they could physically see was a bit of a mystery.”

The council said local residents had asked the authority to “deal with illegal parking in alleyways”.

A spokesman said: “It seems that our contractors forgot just how big cars actually are when they painted this one.

“We will be taking it up with them.”


Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”


Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’ – Edgar Allen Poe, 1845

But in this case, the raven was called “Jubilee.”


Tower of London’s Jubilee raven released

Seven of the tower’s eight ravens were supplied by the Somerset breeder

A raven given to the Queen to mark the Diamond Jubilee has been released at the Tower of London.

The new recruit, named Jubilee, was a gift from Martin Harris, a Somerset breeder who has been supplying ravens to the tower for 12 years.

Seven of the eight resident birds have been bred by Mr Harris to fulfil King Charles II’s decree that at least six ravens should be kept at the tower at all times.

Now, after more than six months of settling into “tower life”, Jubilee has been released from his cage to enjoy “the freedom of the tower”.

‘Most pampered birds’

“Raven Jubilee is doing very well and has now been trained to come out of his cage and meet all the visitors,” Chris Skaife, the tower’s raven master, said.

“But it takes years for the birds to really get to know members of the raven team and for us to get to know them and their idiosyncratic ways.”

He added: “They are the most pampered birds in the country – and one of the most intelligent.

“They gang up on small children with crisps at the tower – but they don’t like cheese and onion – so they’ll open the packet and dip the crisps in water to get rid of the taste.”

Jubilee joined the tower’s “privileged” resident birds in May and has just recently been released

Looked after by a team of four, night and day, the birds are fed a diet of 6oz (170g) of raw meat and bird formula biscuits soaked in animal blood each day.

And once a week they enjoy an egg, plus the occasional rabbit.

It was more than a decade ago that Mr Harris was contacted by the Tower of London’s raven master to provide birds for the historic visitor attraction. He thought it was a “hoax call” and hung up on him.

‘Really smart’

He said supplying the tower’s birds was as “good as it gets for a raven breeder”.

“They are really smart creatures. They can mimic police sirens and take a mobile phone apart in 30 seconds and they’re so inquisitive and so nosy,” he said.

“But if they got too friendly with humans, they could end up assuming everything was theirs and be sitting on people’s shoulders and terrorising visitors.

“So we leave them with their parents to rear them, so they are not imprinted and it gives them a bit of wildness and makes them a bit aloof.”

Legend has it that should the ravens ever leave the tower it would crumble, and a great disaster befall the UK.

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