Category Archives for "Travel Oddities"

15 Bizarre Tour De France Facts YOU Didn’t Know But Should

tour de France facts you didnt know but shoult

It may come as a huge surprise to you to discover, once upon a time, the Super Bowl on two wheels we call the Tour de France, which requires athletes to be in tip-top shape, used to be just a bunch of cigarette-smoking, booze-guzzling men riding around on bikes on unpaved roads through the French Alps.  That’s not all, read on to learn more quirky and interesting Tour de France facts that will have you scratching your head in amazement.

Then vs. Now: The Tour De France

For those of you who are a bit clueless or fuzzy about “le Tour de France”,  let me first give you the skinny on the fun and quirky beginnings of the Tour de France.

1- The Tour de France Was Originally A Sales Gimick!

1903 Newspaper announcing first tour de France

In November of 1902, Geo Lefevre, a journalist from the newspaper L’Auto had an idea to boost circulation of the newspaper. The idea was the Tour de France. Two months later in January of 1903, the very first Tour de France was had but the circumstances and details were very different than what they are today.

  • There were only 6 fairly flat stages over the course of 18 days vs. the 21 rather mountainous stages over 23 days of today.
  • There were 60 entrants in the 1903 race vs. the nearly 200 entrants of 2014.
  • 39 riders, roughly 60% of the 60 entrants of the first Tour de France of 1903 did NOT complete the race while only 18% of riders of the nearly 200 entrants completed the race of 2014.

As a result of the Tour de France, not only did Geo Lefevre succeed at boosting circulation of the newspaper, he created a cycling event that would go on to become one of the biggest racing events and perhaps in the world of sports altogether.

2- The Tour de France is more popular than the American Super Bowl And The Summer Olympics

Even if you’re not an American football fan, you probably already know that it is one of the biggest sporting event in the US and one of the biggest American television events.  Each year millions of Americans tune in to watch the Super Bow. Even non-football fans tune in just to watch the commercials and the  half-time show which now features some of the biggest acts in music.

But did you know that the popularity of the Tour de France makes American Football look like a drop in the bucket? Mainly because the world does not share it’s love for American football. In fact, the most passionately followed sports worldwide are not really all that popular in America at all. The Super Bowl looks at best like a runner-up when it comes to global television viewers.  Let me put it into a little perspective for you.

The 21 day Tour de France race attracts a total of 3.5 billion television viewers, 15 million alone watch the final stage.  That is huge if you consider the fact that the US population is roughly 322 million or that China has a population of around 1.4 billion and China 1.3 billion.

  • Super Bowl ( 114.4 million) : In 2015 the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks set a new viewership record. The Sunday night  broadcast of the Super Bowl averaged 114.4 million viewers per minute becoming the most watched event in American TV history.
  • Winter Olympics (500 million) : Not nearly as big as the summer Olympics, the winter Olympics has nearly 500 million viewers- mostly from Canada, Scandinavia and Russia.
  • Italy’s cycling Grand Tour (775 million) : This 3 week long annual race which takes place between May and June not only attracts millions of live spectators, it is also watched by a yearly average 775 million people.
  • The summer Olympic games ( 2 billion): Loved the world around, the summer Olympic games attracts nearly 2 billion television viewers.
  • FIFA World Cup 1 billion): Football or rather soccer as Americans like to call it has its own version of the Super Bowl called the Fifa world cup which occurs every 4 years. The Cup’s final game is usually the single most viewed sporting event on earth. In 2014, the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina set a record and drew a record number of 715.1 million television viewers worldwide.

Like any popular sporting event, the stakes are high when it comes to winning the tour de France even for betters on sites like William Hill Tour de France.

3- How long is Le Tour De FranceHow long is the tour de France?

The route of the course, and the total distance of le Tour De France changes every year, however the 20 – 22 competing teams of 9 riders from around the world can expect to cycle over 2000 miles (3,500 kilometres), up and down many hills and on routes that alternate between clockwise and counter clockwise circuits of France. In the original 1903 tour, the length was 2,428 kilometres.

4- How many calories do riders burn during the Tour de France?

The average Tour de France rider burns an average of 7,000 calories per day or put another way, a  whopping 123,900 calories over the course of the 21-day race – 123,900! That’s the calorie equivalent of eating 1,625 apples, or 872slices of cheese pizza from pizza hut, or 252 McDonalds double cheeseburgers, or 619 original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

5- How much sweat does each rider produce during the Tour de France?

Over the course of the roughly 3,500 kilometres tour de France, a cyclist will sweat about 1.5 litres per hour totalling 130 litres for the entire race. That’s enough to flush a toilet 39 times. That’s a lot of sweat.

6- Why Did The Tour de France Riders Drink Alcohol?

riders used to drink alcohol during the tour de France. it was considered a stimulant

Two riders having a break on the steps of a tavern during the Tour de France: In the early 1900s beer was commonly drunk during endurance performances.

There is no doubt that the Tour de France is a physically challenging event which only the fittest of athletes can compete. With this in mind, that’s what makes the following fact even more incredible. For a long time, until the 1960s, it was common for tour de France riders to slug a drink of alcohol during the race. Not only did they drink alcohol to dull the pain but they considered it a real performance booster. As you know stimulants are banned and so was alcohol eventually because it was considered a stimulant.

7- Did Tour de France Riders Really Smoke During Races?

Some Tour de france riders used to smoke while cycling

Yes it’s true, In the 20’s it was not uncommon for riders to share cigarettes while riding. Believe it or not, it was believed that smoking would help “open the lungs” before big climbs. Hah!

8- How many tires do riders use?

It turns out that the Tour de France isn’t just a test of physical endurance for the riders; the Tour de France bikes suffer too. During the three-week challenge, riders combined can wear out a total of 792 tires.

9- How Fast Are Cyclist Able To Cycle?

Since the very first tour de France in 1903, average speeds of cyclist have almost doubled. The average speeds for the tour of 2003 was 40.94 kilometres per hour compared to 25.67 kilometres per hour in 1903. The increase in speed is made possible mainly due to the dramatic changes in equipment, diet, roads, training, Tour rules and sometimes even doping. (source)

10- Sexism and Why Are There No Female Cyclers In The Tour De France

If you are a woman and want to join the tour de France alongside other male cyclists, you can forget it. Only males can participate in the race but there was a version for women held each year between 1984 and 1989. Unfortunately It went largely unnoticed. Another event for female cyclists, dubbed “La Course by Le Tour de France,” was held in 2014.

11- What Countries Typically Win The Tour De France?

As of 2015, the French have pretty much dominated the Tour de France with the most wins (36), followed by Belgium (18), then Spain (11), Italy (7), Luxembourg (4) and the US (1). And no the one US winner is not Lance Armstrong. He lost or should I say he was stripped of his 7 titles due to doping. See the cheating section below to learn why.

winners of the tour de France by country

12- How Much Money Do The Tour Winners Receive?

The overall winner of the race receives a purse of €450,000 (about 600,000 USD) which he will usually split with his team-mates.
The total prize money that is awarded for the entire race (stages, sprints, overall classification) is about 4.3 million US dollars.

13- Has Anyone Ever Died During the Tour de France?

A total of 3 tour riders have died while competing in the Tour. A fourth rider died during a rest day  and 20 plus spectators were killed in an unfortunate accident. Below are the details.

  • The very first fatality occurred in 1910 but the victim, Adolphe Helière did not die during the race instead he drowned during one of the rest days.
  • The first rider to die while actually racing in Le Tour De France was Francisco Cepada in 1935, a Spaniard who lost control of his bike on the descent of the infamous Col du Galibier in the Alps when he crashed into a ravine.
  • In 1964, a tanker truck lost control as it came around a bend too quickly and crashed through a wall of spectators over a bridge and into a canal. The accident took the lives of 20 people, and is one of the biggest tragedies in French sports history.
    1964-tour de France crash
  • In 1995, Italian rider Fabio Casartelli, 1992 Olympic champion died after crashing into a concrete pylon when he failed to make a turn descending down the Pyrenees Mountains of southern France at more than 55mph. At the time, it was not compulsory to wear head gear but many people speculate that he probably would not have survived even had he been wearing head gear.
    FabioCasartellicrash.jpg
  • In 1967, Tom Simpson showed us just how dangerous doping can be when he collapsed and died of a heart attack 3km from the top of Alpe d’Huez. In his jersey pockets there were an array of pills and three different empty vials. His autopsy showed alcohol and amphetamines in his system as well as extreme dehydration, lack of oxygen and over-exhaustion. Apparently Simpson drank a bottle of brandy to get the meds down and tricked his body into not knowing when to quit. Tom-Simpson died during the tour de France from a heart attack

14- Have Tour cyclist been caught cheating?

The most famous and high profile cheating scandal is without a doubt the doping scandal surrounding Lance Armstrong who won seven consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005, but was stripped of his titles in 2012 after a protracted doping scandal. Lance wasn’t the only person who was caught cheating during the Tour de France. Apparently cheating and the Tour de France go hand in hand and its not a far stretch to say not a year goes by in this sport without a rider being accused of less than honourable behaviour – cheating.

Here are just a few of the more notable cheats in Tour de France history.

  • The very first scandal in the history of the Tour de France involves the very first  person to win the Tour de France, Maurice Garin. It occurred during the Tour’s second edition in 1904 which Maurice also won but was stripped of his title for cheating, along with five other participants: Allegedly Maurice and the other disqualified participants took the train during the alps part of the race. A claim confirmed by a cemetery attendant who, as a boy, heard Garin tell his stories as an old man. MAURICE-GARIN- The first winner of the tour de France and the first cheater
  • While some riders in 1904 were accused of taking trains or using cars to pull their bikes up hills,  Hippolyte Aucouturier tried to be a little more discreet. Aucouturier, tied a piece of cork to a long piece of string and tied the other end to the back of a car. The idea was for Aucouturier to bite down on the cork and let the car tow him all the while hoping his teeth didn’t get ripped out of his mouth and hoping that no one would see the string. Guess what. someone saw the string. Hippolyte-Aucouturier: cheated during the tour de France by having a car pull him from a string he put between his teeth
  • In 1904, after cyclist Antoine Fauré passed through his hometown,100 of his fans ran out into the street to block his opponents. Riders had to get off their bikes and find their way through the crowd to get by.
  • The winner of the 1947 Tour, Jean Robic nicknamed “the hobglobin” for his slight stature was a strong climber but his weakness was on his descent. He became famous for taking bottles filled with lead mercury from his team car at the peak of a climb which gave him the weight he needed to descend the summit at incredible speeds.  (source)jean-robic-cheated by carrying lead bottles on his bike

15- What technology differences existed?

Prior to 1937, riders had to get off their bikes to switch gears because bikes did not have a derailleur before then.

The bikes of 1903 were much heavier, made of heavy steal and wood which could weigh as much as 18 kg (39 lbs) vs. the carbon/alloy bike frames of today which weigh about 7 kg (15 lbs).

Summary

I was never a big fan of the Tour de France but after living in France for years, I’ve been exposed to all it’s glamour and fanfare making me in the least a little interested in it. It’s an amazing sport that very few people can ever imagine competing in.

Why Is April Fools Day In France Such A Fishy Affair?

How the French celebrate April Fools day in France

Surprise, in addition to the hot air balloon, the sexy little black dress, photography, the French also invented April Fools’ day by accident. Discover how this happened and how to properly celebrate it in France. 

Past and present April Fools’ Day traditions in France

When I was a kid, I used to love playing pranks on friends and family for April fools’ day.

Silly things like putting a whoopee cushion under someone’s chair or some other ridiculously silly prank. Then after the prank was done, I gleefully shouted April Fools’”  as I scurried away laughing and looking for my next victim. Oh how I loved the annoyed looks on peoples faces.

Now as an adult and a confessed prank lover, I still love to play practical jokes on people for April fools’ so when we moved to France, I was not entirely sure if my pranks would go over well with the French. I wasn’t even sure if April Fools’ day was celebrated in France.

As luck would have it,  yes, April Fools’ day is in fact celebrated in France much like it is in the US and Canada with one small variation which involves a fish.

Present day April Fools’ traditions In France

On April fools day, kids in France like to tape a paper fish to the backs of their friends as a prank

Simple office pranks to elaborate hoaxes are just as much part of the French tradition for April Fools’ day as it is in the US and many other English speaking countries however, it’s not called April fools’ day.

Instead, those lucky victims who are fooled on April 1st are called a “Poisson d’Avril” (April Fish) and a common prank, especially among school aged children is to stick a paper fish on the back of some unsuspecting person. Then when that person discovers the fish, he or she is declared a “Poisson d’Avril.”

This year, I drew a fish and stuck it on our daughters back before she went to school. When she got to school, her friends had a good laugh when they saw the fish taped to her back.

Print your own fish

printable paper fish for April Fools day in FranceYou can draw your own fish if you like but you can also print one out from the internet.  Here is a link to a printable paper fish from my favourite toy maker (Moulin Roty pictured above). http://www.moulinroty.fr/blog/poisson-davril/.  You can stick it on the backs of your friends and family for fun and let them walk around all day clueless.

Past April Fools’ day French traditions

At the beginning of the twentieth century, people in France used to send cute little illustrated post cards of small fish on April 1st, to wish love, friendship and happiness! A tradition that is not so popular today which is too bad because the vintage cards are adorable. Here are a few I found.

Old post card people used to send for April fools day in France

Old post card people used to send for April fools day in France

Why April 1st and where it all began!

The origins of playing pranks on April First is debated but one theory which many people believe is that April fools’ day actually began in France.

Around 1562, following the Gregorian calendar, King Charles IX decided to change the new year from the end of March / April (Equinox) to the 1st of January. Many people found it difficult to get used to the new day for the new year while others were not even aware that the date of the new year had changed! (news travelled slowly back then).  As a result, many people continued to offer gifts on the old new years date but were ridiculed, teased and had pranks played on them.

Voila, the beginning of April fools’ day in France which eventually spread throughout the world or so some believe this is how it was spread.

April Fools’ Day in the UK, North America and beyond

It wasn’t until around 1752, over 100 years later that Great Britain finally changed over to the Gregorian Calendar, and April Fools’ Day began to also be celebrated in England and in the American colonies. In Quebec Canada, an old French colony where my own family is from, the poisson d’Avril is celebrated much like it is in France.

Today April fools’ day is celebrated in many countries around the world including Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, Canada and many more.

Why a fish on April first?

There are several explanations as to why the French equate a fish with April Fools’ day.

  • One explanation is that people gave fake fish to fisherman as a cruel but funny prank. Apparently April is the breeding period of fish and fisherman were prohibited from fishing during this time so the act of giving fish was a way to torture them? Who knows.
  • Another more recent and maybe more plausible explanation is that since the date of the old “New years”in April was also during the same time as lent, a period which people were only allowed to eat fish, people gave fish as gifts (for new years).

Vintage printable April Fish

There you have it. April fools’ day or rather poisson d’avril in France and it’s ties to the old New years date before the Gregorian calendar in France.

Isn’t it funny how we sometimes celebrate things but have no idea why we celebrate them?

ps

I love vintage design and thought you might like this vintage printable fish.  Happy Poisson d’Avril

3D printable fish for April fools day in France

Meme Living in France: What I really do

Living In France Travel Meme: What People Think I do vs What I Really Do

Travel Meme Living in France:

People have all sorts of contorted ideas about what it’s like for North Americans to live in France. Most of these ideas are based on stereotypes spread through the media and Hollywood.  I created a travel meme called “What I really Do” to show all the different preconceptions that different groups of people have about living in France. Enjoy and please share it on Facebook and Pinterest. 

What’s it like living in France travel meme?

What’s it like? Simple, it’s just like anywhere else except in France, they speak French and eat lots of cheese and baguettes; no lie, not a stereotype. But seriously, it is really just like living anywhere else.

  • Like anything new, it’s fun and exciting at first but then you adapt, overcome and slip into a routine.
  • There are cultural differences, different foods, belief systems, styles and more but for the most part my day to day routine looks a lot like it id when I lived in North America.

Luckily I travelled extensively and lived abroad a few times before we decided to spend a year in France, so I knew full well that my preconceived ideas about living in France might be far fetched or completely wrong. Yes, luckily I knew all this before moving to France and I adjusted my expectations, otherwise I think I might have been pretty disappointed.

What my family thinks I do

My Canadian relatives don’t see me that often so they probably think I spend my days strolling around the champs Elysée and hanging around the Eiffel tower.

What society thinks I do

Society in general has so many stereotypes about the French. I know I did before moving to France. It’s only natural that people think I wear striped shirts, dress to kill, wear a beret and look smoking hot as much as possible on my Vespa with a cigarette hanging from my mouth after i stop for a glass of wine and cafe.

What my friends think I do

Like my family, my friends get a healthy dose of my life in France but again, they only see the fun, happy stuff. So they see pictures of me at the beach, smiling, holding my hubby and eating baguettes with the kids.  All are things we do but not nearly as much as they think it happens.

What I think I do

What I think I do is a mixture of what I do and what I want to do more of.  More friends, more fun, more laughing. This is what my mind chooses to believe I do.

What the French think I do

Ok, how shall I say this. The French have this distorted idea about Americans that is very skewed, thanks to the media and Hollywood.  For example, they think Americans are rich and love guns. But the one thing 99 percent of French people think is that ALL Americans just gobble up McDonald as much as possible.

What I really do

Living in France is not all baguettes, cheese and wine. I work a lot.  Working for myself as a freelancer means that I spend a lot of time on my computer, writing, finding clients,  marketing and basically trying to make a living. As a result, my laptop is my best friend.

Your experience living in France will be much different than mine but one thing will be the same. Life in France will be like nothing like you imagined.

That’s a good thing.

If you enjoyed this article please share it on Facebook or Pinterest and beyond

11 weird funny French laws in France

11 Unbelievably Weird, Funny French Laws That Still Exist Today!

11 weirdly funny French laws in France

France, like most countries has its fair share of seemingly stupid funny laws, many of which are outdated but still in existence. Like the one where you can’t name your pig Napoleon. Here are 11 weird, stupid and funny French laws to scratch your head over.

To be exact, France has about 15 500 laws, 127 000 decrees, 7 400 treaties, and 17 000 EU laws.

Some date back to the Middle Ages , some are from the time of the French Revolution and others are more recent.  Most of the laws were put into effect for good reason and stay valid indefinitely while other laws become antiquated or out of date.

Here are 11 weird, stupid or funny French laws

Unless someone removes these antiquated and outdated laws, they remain in tact and remain perfectly legal albeit no one ever really enforces them. Like the law that says women can only wear pants if they are riding a bike or holding horse reigns. There are of course more recent laws that are put into effect and just seem downright weird.

I have put together a list of 11 laws of both types of odd French laws-1) weird recent laws and 2) funny outdated laws.

1- No person may address or name their pig Napoleon

A weirdly funny French Laws in France: You cannot nape your pig Napoleon

You can name your pig anything including Mary Antoinette or Francois Holland- the French president, but thanks to a 3 century old funny French law created to prevent pranksters of the time from making fun of the then emperor, Napoleon, you cannot call your pig Napoléon in France.

2-In France, it is legal to marry a dead person!

weird french law marry a dead person

 

Also called a posthumous marriage, the practice of allowing someone to marry a dead person is alive and well (no pun intended) .  Don’t get too excited though. This is not some loophole for you to gain French citizenship by marrying some dead French person because there are certain conditions that need to be met.

  1. The dead person had to have had the intention of marrying the alive person before his or her death and you need to prove it. I have no idea how you would do this.
  2. There needs to be serious grounds for the marriage.
  3. The president of France must approve the marriage.

If you meet all the criteria then the marriage would be back dated to the day before the bride or groom died.

The practice of marrying a dead person is also allowed in China and Sudan under certain circumstances.  Good luck with that!

3-All French citizens must have a haystack, in case the king passes by with his horse

This is one of those old French laws that probably made sense way back when kings rode on horses and in carriages but today it just seems silly. There is no official king and if there were, he would drive and have no need for a hay bail.

4- All women who wish to dress like a man must ask for authorization at the nearest police station

Around 1800, a law was put in place to prevent women from dressing like men?  Not only did women need to get authorization from the nearest police precinct, but they needed a medical certificate as well.

Don’t worry, you will never get arrested for wearing trousers ladies but seriously, the fact that this law is still in existence is just plain weird!

5-French law says that it’s illegal to take photos of police officers or police vehicles, even if they are in the background.

A weirdly funny French Laws in France: You can't take photos of police. enot even in th background

I took this photo in Marseille of two police officers on these stand-up bikes. Should I be worried because not only did I take a photo of the French police officers but I took a picture of their vehicle in the foreground?

6- Unless a woman is holding the reigns of a horse or riding a bike, she is not allowed to wear pants!

women not allowed to wear pants in France unless riding a bike

A very very antiquated law that is still in existence today in France despite several attempts to get it off the legislative books. What is weird is that many French and European women actually wear a skirt on a bike. Even I have done it a few times.

On the other end of the spectrum in America, there was a Dutch woman who was approached by a New York police officer who threatened to ticket her for wearing a skirt while riding a bike.  He claimed the amount of skin she was showing was too distracting. See picture above. Oh la la. He had better stop a lot of people because that is not revealing in my books.

Weird!

7- Between the hours of 8am and 8pm, 70% of music played on French radio stations MUST be by French artists.

A stupid funny French Law, French radio stations must play 80 French music artits only between 8 am and 8pm; LIke Black M

This explains so much. When I first arrived in France, It used to annoy me how I would hear the same music over and over throughout the day. Mystery solved. They do it because it is the law.

This law was adopted to promote and preserve French musical culture and the French language. The French language police claim that the younger generation tends to listen to too much American and British culture.

8-It is illegal to kiss on or at the train stations in France

This law prohibiting love birds from kissing at the train station was put in place by the Société du Chemin de fer (train companies) to avoid delays?  I suppose they thought that people kissing at train stations would be so distracted that they might totally miss the huge, loud trains.

I kiss my hubby at the train station and I have seen French people kissing at the train station also so I doubt this one is really enforced. But can you imagine? Getting arrested for kissing at the train station?

9-No alcohol whatsoever is allowed in a place of work, except for Beer, Wine, Cidre and Poiré. 

Stupid funny French law; officially no alcohol can be on work premises except for beer, wine, cidre and poiré? LOL

Wow, how can the French stand this law? It is so strict! NOT!

This is the official rule of course. I don’t think the French really mind because most French people drink wine anyways.

10- Since 2011, a funny French law bans primary school cafeterias in France from serving Ketchup to students.

strange funny French law no ketchup

Apparently this bizarre rule was put into place thanks to Christopher Hebert, the president of the national association of municipal catering managers.  The weird thing about this rule is that it was not put into place for health reasons – otherwise mayo might have been taken off the menu as well. But because Monsieur Hebert thinks that every spoonful of ketchup is like eating the ” incarnation of Americanism . ”

11- You cannot wear swim trunks or board shorts in public pools

stupid funny French laws: You can't wear swimming trunks or board shoarts in public pools or water parks in France

I am not sure if this is an actual law or just an enforced rule. If it is a law than it is a dumb law.

In the four years I have lived in France, NOT one single public French pool I have been to allows allows board shorts or loose swim trunks. Instead, men MUST wear what my husband Blake likes to call “nut-huggers” and what many north Americans like to call Speedos.  I think this explains why so many French people wear Speedos at the beach instead of board shorts.

Women are also victim to this rule and must not wear anything loose in the pool like a t-shirt which i suppose I can understand but sometimes the pool authorities as I like to call them take this rule too far.

I once wore a rash guard, you know, one of those tight fitting synthetic swimming shirts that surfers wear and was told it was not allowed for safety reasons. You can read about this in an article I wrote about 20 things you might hate if you lived in France. Just click here to start reading it.

As the French like to say, C’est la vie!

Sources 

17 Stupid SkyMall Products You Can Buy After You Stop Laughing

Stupid Skymall Products you can buy right now

The SkyMall Magazine- It’s your favourite in-flight magazine you love to hate. Or hate to love?
Some of their products are so ridiculous, I honestly can’t tell if the folks over at Skymall are idiots or genius marketers. Regardless of how stupid or useful the products in the Skymall magazine are, after I fasten my seat belt, l almost ALWAYS reach in the seat back pocket hoping to get a good laugh at their eclectic and unique set of products.

17 Stupid SkyMall Products I Dare You To Buy

Here are a few classic skymall products.

I used to link directly to them in the SkyMall catalogue but they keep changing their product links or discontinue products. Now I just link to them through Amazon if they are still available. Just in case you want to buy one.

1-SkyRest Travel Pillow

icon

Skyrest Travel Pillow: stupid skymall products you can buy

Like a trusty old friend, I can always count on this Gray haired gentleman peacefully resting his head on his inflatable skyrest pillow.

I can’t remember a time when he WAS NOT in the Skymall catalog. I will miss his familiar face when they finally do decide to discontinue this item.

2-Upright Sleeper icon

upright-sleeper: stupid skymall products you can buy

Words just don’t do this product justice. I mean look at it! I get that it helps hold your head up but would you really wear this on a plane? This is no longer available as far as I know but you can buy some more discreet travel pillows for upright sleeping that don’t make you look like you have a broken neck.

3-e-Reader Buddies Pillowicon

skymall e-Reader buddies pillow stupid gifts you can buy

Now you can strap your ipad, kindle or tablet right onto a pillow so you can sleep with it?

Come to think of it, this isn’t so stupid after all. It’s kind of genius but I think the design is flawed. You still have to prop the pillow up in order to have the screen facing you. I found a better pillow tablet holders here.

4-County Jail T-Shirticon

skymall stupid product county jail escapee tshirt

There has been a trend I have seen where women orange jumpsuits as a fashion statement. Now you can get the male version- an orange prison T-shirt. I’m sorry but the last thing I want to wear while driving down the highway is a t-shirt that makes me look like a penitentiary escapee.

5-Big Ass Bigfoot Garden Yeti Sculpture icon

spooky lifesize yet statue from Skymall.

Really? This is what you want in your backyard or in your garden. And look how much it costs- 2,500 bucks. Who would pay that much money for this thing? You can pick up a much cheaper Garden Yeti statue for 500 dollars here.

6-Bigfoot Tree Yeti Sculpture icon

bigfoot tree yeti sculpture: stupid skymall products you can buy

If you can’t afford the 2,000 dollar price tag of the life size yeti, Skymall has a smaller more affordable one.

With his spooky face lurking behind a tree, this BigFoot tree Yeti will creep out your guests and scare away intruders and feral animals.

7-Creepy MLB Forest Face icon

forest-face: stupid skymall products you can buy

It’s called a forest face, I call it weird, ugly and disturbing but then again I am not a baseball fan.

You’re supposed to hang this porcelain forest face on your tree to let your friends and neighbours know which team you are rooting for. I get the hat part but the big honking nose, lips and creepy eyes are too much. If you’re into the Boston Redsocks, you can get one to hang on a tree too.

8-Faux Workpant Lounge Wear icon

Faux Workpant lounge wear: stupid skymall products you can buy

Is this supposed to be irony? A faux tool belt on a pair of sweat pants?

9- Dr. Seuss Cap & Glasses icon

stupid skymall products. dr seus cap and gown

Be the life of the party with this Dr. Seuss Cap and Glasses. Seriously how did this even get a spot in their magazine?

hahaha, I, hahah, can’t, hahahah, stop, hahahah, laughing. 

10-Grip-n-Assist Mobility Belt icon

Grip-N-Assist Mobility Belt: stupid skymall products you can buy

Don’t you hate it when you can’t get a good grip on your grandpa so you can help him out of bed? Now HE CAN GRAB YOU and pull himself up. Problem solved.

I did a litle research and there really is a need for belts with grips only it’s the patients that wear the belts not their caretakers. The caretakers can get a better grip when helping you in and out of bed, wheel chairs and other mobile situation.

11-Sand Name Prints icon

sand-name-photo: stupid skymall products you can buy

Let me get this straight.  Instead of writing your name in the sand and taking a picture of it yourself, you want to pay someone up to 70 bucks to Photoshop it onto a photo for you?  I think I have my new business idea..I’ll do it for 20 dollars too.

12-Roswell, the Alien Butler icon

roswell-the-alien-butler: stupid skymall products you can buy

For the sophisticated middle aged sci-fi lover. Now you can pretend that you are being served brandy by an extraterrestrial from outer space whose name is Roswell.

Honestly, I’m not sure if this is super stupid, super cool or super creepy.

Actually, this would go great in my bathroom holding up a roll of toilet paper.

13-Babette Table icon

creepy-bardette-table: stupid skymall products you can buy

No Punn intended but would you put your COCK-Tail on this table? I mean nothing says CLASS  more than a torso-less pair of legs wearing a pair of strappy red high heals, stockings and panties trying to pass as a table to hold your cocktails.

It’s just wrong! I think it might actually be a little sexist?

14-Hot Dog leash icon

Hot Dog-Leash: stupid skymall products you can buy

When I first saw this photos I thought, “oh that dog’s master is feeding him sausages.”

Then I realized the owner was not feeding his dogs tasty treats but cruelly teasing their dog with a leash made of fake hot dogs.

Poor poor thing….just look at how depressed he looks.

15-FaceTrainer icon

facetrainer: stupid skymall products you can buy

Saggy face? Fine lines? Crows feet?

Forget creams, lotions and plastic surgery. All you need is the Face Trainer!

Put it on for 10 minutes everyday and watch your sags melt away.

Plus it doubles as a scuba divers hat thingy.

Another option is to pick up one of these face slimmers.
Face Slimmer

16-Mobile Massage System icon

mobile-massage: stupid skymall products you can buy

No, It’s not a ninja turtle costume. It’s not a shawl. It’s a portable back massage thingy that you control with a remote control.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out in what situation would I ever want to wear this. Wouldn’t you rather have one of those sit down chair massagers? Maybe it’s made for people who don’t have the time to sit and relax for 2 whole minutes?

I’ve personally tried this zero gravity shiatsu massage chair and it is worth every penny.

Full body Shiatsu massage Chair with Built in Heat Zero Gravity

17-Hicural Hiccup Stick

Hicurai hiccup stick: stupid skymall products you can buy

Forget trying to chug water while holding your nose and plugging your ears.

Bite down on this $20 stick while drinking a glass of water and your hiccups will be cured.

I have no idea if this works or not but the idea of it made my stomach sore from laughing so hard.

catherine-hiccup-stick

I couldn’t help myself.

After my daughter and I stopped laughing,  (a half hour later) my daughter got suddenly quiet and walked away.

Then she returned with a stick between her teeth. We both started laughing again. After we stopped laughing, I reached for the camera and took the above photo.

She’s a genius.

school-lunch-around-the-world

15 School Lunches Around The World That Might Freak You Out!

15 school lunches around the world

Would your kids eat goulash soup or mussels for lunch? What about seaweed? Depending on what country you are in, these are things regularly served to kids at school. Here are actual photos of school meals from 15 countries around the world. You may be surprised.

 15 school lunches around the world

After living in the US and Canada as a child and seeing what my own children ate for lunch at school in California, I am all too aware of just how bad school lunches can be. A veritable revolving door of unhealthy fast-food, burritos, tacos, pizzas and enchiladas. Some schools even have onsite McDonald’s’ and taco bell: YUCK!

But not all countries have such unsavoury institutionalized school lunches for school aged children. Take for instance what my daughter ate at her preschool while living in France. On the other end of the spectrum are school lunches in lesser developed countries like in Kenya where some kids only get a bowl of fresh avocados.

Below are photos of actual cafeteria lunches and descriptions of 15 school lunches from around the world.

1- USA

school lunces around the world/ US school Lunch: enchiladas, rice and beans

Photo Source:

Menu: Enchiladas with beans, rice, fresh strawberries and milk.

This American school meal actually does not look too bad. It’s pretty typical for schools to serve Mexican inspired dishes like this one.

Milk is almost always served in U.S. schools.  Unfortunately the variety served at the schools my children went to in the U.S. were usually a rotating menu of burgers, burrito, pizzas, tacos. They even served McDonald’s burgers at school.

2- Japan:

school lunces around the world/ Japan: childrens school lunch

Photo Source

Pre-school Lunch: Rice w/konbu (a sweet seaweed), nikkujagga (beef with veggies), omelets, sausage, potato puff, and apple.
Source: Jevinj

This is a school Lunch at a pre-school in Japan where the kids range in age from 1-6yrs old. This pictures one of the “teachers” lunches which is exactly the same as the kids meals except with smaller portions.

I actually love seaweed on rice so this looks good to me. Espeically Konbu in onigiri. mmmmm

3- China school lunch

school lunces around the world/ China: Childrens school lunch

photo source

Menu: Tofu, rice and vegetables.

Tofu would never be served in a school in the U.S. I grew up eating tofu and absolutely love it.

4- Brazil:

school lunces around the world/ Brasil: Childrens school lunch

Photo Source

Contents: Rice, Beans, Bread, Meat with vegetables, banana and alface, acelga salad

This looks like it could be a home cooked meal to me. Pretty good. I wonder what kids from Brazil think of this.

5- Taiwan elementary School Lunch:

school lunces around the world/Taiwan: childrens school lunch

Photo Source

Menu: On the left: mushroom and minced pork, in the middle: Chinese chives stir fry with tempura, on the right: eggplant (probably stir fry), soup with radish and pork, and steamed white rice.

6- Ghana elementary school lunch

school lunces around the world/Ghana: childrens school lunch

photo source

Menu: Looks like rice with some kind of sauce. Maybe protein?

This doesn’t look like much compared to what eastern kids eat.

7- Thailand

school lunces around the world/Thailand: childrens school lunch

photo source

Menu: Sautéed chicken over rice.

I am sure whatever this is, it is probably pretty tasty.

8- Czech Republic elementary school lunch

school lunces around the world/Czech: childrens school lunch

Photo source

Most of the kids eat at school canteens (it’s convenient and cheaper for their parents).

The lunch usually consists of a soup and a main course. Usually there is a salad or some sort of fruit along with something sweet for desert. There is always tea and water with sweet syrup on tap and cacao if sweet buns are for lunch.

9- Sudan school lunch

school lunces around the world/sudan: childrens school lunch

photo source – udith Kaine

I’m not really sure what this is? Maybe it’s rice or corn paste?

This photo kind of shocked me.

10- Kenya Pre-school lunch

school lunces around the world/Kenya childrens school lunch

Photo source

This meal of avocados may look measly but it is very nutritious. The fats from the avocado are invaluable, especially in a country where malnutrition is so widespread.

11- India: elementary school lunch

school lunces around the world/India, childrens school lunch

Photo source = http://newshopper.sulekha.com/india-world-food-day_photo_1015648.htm

Menu: This is probably a rice and curry dish.

It’s not uncommon for kids in India to eat on the ground outside. And yes, kids in India eat with their hands.

UPDATE** one of my readers pointed something out to me. Harleena said…

“this is the scene in most of the village schools only, where kids eat with their hands, either because there lack of education or they can’t afford. The ones in the cities are pretty different and most kids carry their own tiffin and there’s a lot of options to choose from, which are again healthy and nutritious. Some schools have a proper canteen as it’s an easier option for parents – so there’a a lot of different kinds.”

12- U.K. school lunch

school lunces around the world/UK, childrens school lunch

photo source

Menu: hamburger and grated carrots

13- Honduras school lunch

school lunces around the world/Honduras, childrens school lunch

photo source

Menu: Arroz Con Leche (Rice with milk).

You can eat it cold or hot and it is often seasoned with cinnamon and vanilla.

14- France school lunch

school lunces around the world/France, childrens school lunch

photo source

Menu: Chicken, potatoes, cheese, salad and desert with water.

school lunces around the world/France, childrens school lunch

photo source

Moules et Frites: Mussels and fries

I had to post a second photo of a school lunch in Francce because this dish is served quite often.

It has been served to my pre-schooler as well as my two teenage sons at school.

A thing to note about French school meals.

Milk is never served. Instead cheese or yogurt is ALWAYS served. Water is the only beverage served to kids.

There is always a vegetable and fruit option along with a desert and bread option.

French fries are shown here because Mussels and fries are a very popular dish in France. Especially in the south of France. Other than that, fries are not served very often.

15- Some Kids Go Hungry At Lunch

school lunces around the world/hungry-kids

It’s a proven fact that children cannot concentrate in class, especially in the afternoon, on an empty stomach.  Unfortunately some children are too poor and can’t eat lunch. This isn’t just in places like Uganda or other third world countries. it’s happening in first world countries too including poor sections of the U.S.

Are You Interested In Learning More

what's for lunch: how schoolchildren eat around the world book

If you are interested in learning more about what schoolchildren eat around the world, you should check out this book called What’s for Lunch?

In What’s for Lunch, Andrea Curtis talks about inequality in the food eaten by a typical school child from thirteen countries around the world, including Afghanistan, Kenya, Russia, Japan, United States, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.

In some countries, the meals are nutritious and well-balanced. In others they barely satisfy basic nutrition standards.

photo source for main photo.

photos of what people eat in one week around the world

Discover What People Eat Around The World In One Week?: Photos Will Shock You

photos of what people eat in one week around the world

Think you know what other people eat around the world? Take a look at how much and how little the rest of the world eats compared to your country. You just might be surprised!

Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio, a husband and wife team from California travelled to 24 countries around the world photographing and documenting what 30 families eat during the course of one week.

Hungry Planet: what people eat around the world in 1 week. This clever couple put their findings in a book called Hungry Planet: What The World Eats.

Each of the families profiled in the book include detailed interviews, a description of their weekly food purchases, their favourite foods and photos of them in the market and at home surrounded by a weeks worth of groceries and more.

I have pulled together a a selection of those images from the book below. 

North America

United States- North Carolina

What People Eat In One Week Around The World: USA

Food Cost 1 week: $341.98
Favorite food: spaghetti, potatoes, chicken with sesame seeds

*MY COMMENT: 2 pizzas, 3 bags of chips in a week?  Where are the veggies other than 2 tomatoes? This cannot be how most Americans eat can it?

Canada- Nunavut Territory

What People Eat In One Week Around The World: Canada

Food expenditure for one week: US$345
Favorite Foods: narwhal, polar bear, extra cheese stuffed crust pizza, watermelon

*COMMENT: Their favourite food is polar bear? Whoa! My family is from Canada and I don’t remember eating polar bear?
At least they have some produce and fish.  

Central America

Mexico-Cuernavaca

What People Eat In One Week Around The World: Mexico

Food Cost 1 week:1 862.78 Mexican pesos or $189.09
Favorite food: pizza, crab, pasta, chicken

*MY COMMENT: This is better. Lots and lots of fruits but check out all the coke on the back table. Holy coke-a-moly!

South America

Ecuador- Tingo:

What People Eat In One Week Around The World: Ecuador

Food Cost 1 week: $31.55
Family recipe: Potato soup with cabbage

*MY COMMENT : Humbling, notice all the bananas or Plantanes and bags of grain and potatoes and the lack of processed stuff.

Europe

United Kingdom: Cllingbourne Ducis

What People Eat In One Week Around The World: Uk

Food Cost 1 week: 155.54 British Pounds or $253.15
Favourite foods: avocado, mayonnaise sandwich, prawn cocktail, chocolate fudge cake with cream

*MY COMMENT : Not many vegetables or fruits looks mostly processed and they said one of their favourite foods is mayonnaise sandwich? Please tell me that’s a pseudonym for something else.

Germany: Bargteheide

What People Eat In One Week Around The World: Germany

Food Cost 1 week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07
Favourite foods: fried potatoes with onions, bacon and herring, fried noodles with eggs and cheese, pizza, vanilla pudding

*MY COMMENT : I see lots of leafy greens along with beer and wine. Where are the sausages and curry wurst?

France: Montreuil

What People Eat In One Week Around The World: France

Food expenditure for one week: 315.17 euros or $419.95
Favorite Foods: Delphine Le Moine’s Apricot Tarts, pasta carbonara, Thai food

*MY COMMENT : Looks about right. Notice the Nutella way in the back. No milk. Lots of yoghurt and cheese but seriously where are the baguettes? I do not know one French person who does not eat baguettes at least once a week. Makes me wonder.

Africa

Africa: Chad

What People Eat In One Week Around The World: Africa

Food Cost 1 week: 685 CFA francs, or $1.23
Favorite foods: soup with fresh sheep meat

*MY COMMENT : I had to stare at this photo for a very long time. I feel totally humbled by this image. Is that all the water they drink in one week between all of them? I see the grains and maybe rice but they have not fruits veggies? Is this really enough to sustain them or is it that we ( the rest of the world) eat too much?

Egypt: Cairo

What People Eat In One Week Around The World: Egypt

Food Cost 1 week: 387.85 Egyptian pounds, or $68.53
Family recipe: Okra and mutton

*MY COMMENT : Wow, this looks amazingly good and healthy. Lots of veggies and fruits and hardly any carbs at all. 

Australia: Riverview

What People Eat In One Week Around The World: Australia

Food Cost 1 week: 481 Australian dollars, or $376

Family Recipe: Marge Brown’s Quandong (an Australian peach) Pie, Yoghurt

*MY COMMENT :Lots of water. Makes sense. It’s hot in Australia. A good mix of meat, beans and fruit. Still seems like a lot of processed food in the back on top of the stove. Where is the Vegemite?

Asia

China: Beiijing

What People Eat In One Week Around The World: China

Food Cost 1 week: 1 233.76 yuan, or $155.06
Favorite foods: fried shredded pork with sweet and sour sauce

*MY COMMENT : What’s interesting is that this family has the smallest amount of veggies on the table after the Americans who had 2 whole tomatoes.  No veggies although they do consume lots of fruits.

Japan: Kodaira

What People Eat In One Week Around The World: Japan

Food Cost 1 week: 37,699 Yen or $317.25
Favorite foods: sashimi, fruit, cake, potato chips

*MY COMMENT : Check out all the pre-packaged foods on the floor. Notice very little red meat and chicken. Mostly fish. mmmmm.

South Asia:

Bhutan:  Shingkhey Village

What People Eat In One Week Around The World: Bhutan

Food Cost 1 week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03
Family recipe: Mushroom, cheese and pork

*MY COMMENT : Lots of greens, fruits and look at that big bag probably filled with rice.

Conclusion:

What people eat around the world varies family to family of course but there is something to be said about these eye opening photos.

The western world in general eats a lot of processed foods. Cereals, bread, chips, sodas etc. Many families don’t eat enough greens, vegetables or fruits. Even parts of Asia seemed to consume a large amount of processed foods.

In other countries where these processed foods are perhaps less readily available, or perhaps just because of cultural reasons, more fresh produce is eaten like in South East Asia, Egypt and Africa.

What about you?

If we were to take a picture of what you and your family ate in a week, what would it look like? Would it have more processed foods, more fruits, more veggies or a mix?

Ours would have a lot of broccoli, apples, mangoes and oranges along with a big bag of rice and some meat. We rarely eat potato and don’t drink soda except when we go out to a restaurant once in a while.

Pick up a copy of the whole book at Amazon loaded with way more interesting photos and detailed interviews. This is a great book to share with the kids too. 

Hungry Planet: What The World Eats

book-hungry-planet-world-the world eats

Pictures: PETER MENZEL/BARCROFT MEDIA

Spotted Dick? 10 Weird Traditional British Foods You You Will Love or Hate

Weird British Food You Will Love To Hate

Try the Crepes in France, the Curryvurst in Germany or the Pad Thai in Thailand but what the heck do you try in the U.K., a country not really known for their delicious food; often described as bland, heavy or unremarkable?

10 Weird Traditional British Foods You May Or May Not Love But Gotta Try:

Some people travel to visit museums, castles and tourist attractions without giving the local foods a second thought.

To others like me, it’s the food that draws me in. Without it, travelling wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the unique and memorable foods found in the places I travel to because more often than not, the local food tells me as much about the local history and culture as many of the tourist spots.

I’ve put together 10 dishes from Great Britain which you will probably find weird. Many have funny names or look unappealing but each one has a a fascinating story behind it. In the least you owe it to yourself to try these traditional dishes on your next trip to the UK.

1- Spotted Dick

Weird Traditional British Food: spotted-dick

No this isn’t some terrible sexually transmitted disease that you need to go see a Doctor about.

Sometimes called spotted dog, the name(s) alone make this dish sound like some weird British food when in fact it’s nothing more than a steamed sponge pudding (cake) with raisins or currants, flour, sugar, milk and Suet.

Suet is  Britain’s version of lard or animal fat for cooking. It is the fat found around the kidney and other organs in animals used in pastry, steamed puddings and minced meat pies.

Why Is It Called Spotted Dick? The raisins and currants are what make this Dick spotted (hee hee). I found conflicting information regarding the “DICK” part of the name.

Some sources say the word dick is either a colloquial word for pudding or an antiquated word that meant hard cheese.

Where Can You Get Spotted Dick? You can pretty much find spotted dick on the desert menu of many restaurants. Only now when you see it, you won’t be scared to order it.  You can also get canned spotted dick to bring home to your friends. Watch them giggle as they read the name on the can.

2 Haggis

Weird Traditional British Food: Haggis
Haggis is the national dish of Scotland and a trip to Scotland without trying haggis is like not trying crepes in France.   

What’s In It? Once you find out what goes into haggis, you’ll really think food in Great Britain is weird because the main ingredients sound more like parts of the animal you would throw out rather than put in your mouth.

Haggis’s main ingredient is called sheep’s “pluck” (sheep throat, lungs, liver and heart) which is chopped up and combined with oats, onions, suet (animal fat) and spices. The whole thing is mixed and stuffed into a sheep’s stomach and then boiled in water for a few hours.

If you can get past the “what’s in it” part, you’ll find that it’s actually quite good. It has a peppery and nutty flavour and it’s texture is crumbly and somewhat crunchy not gooey at all.

Where To Eat Haggis: Haggis is everywhere but look for it on your plate when you order a traditional Scottish breakfast.

3. Scotch Wood Cock

Weird Traditional British Food: Scotch-woodcock

Here is another traditional dish with an unfortunate name. Not quite as bad as spotted dick but still evokes dirty images in my mind.

What’s In Scotch woodcock? There is no Scotch and no Woodcock in this dish. (giggle giggle, a woodcock is actually a bird).  Scotch Woodcock is simply creamed scrambled eggs on buttered toast spread with a thin layer of anchovy paste or gentlemen’s relish ( anchovy paste and spices) topped off with a pinch of cayenne pepper. It’s actually quite nice and the thin spread of anchovy paste gives it a slightly salty taste that is not fishy at all.

Where Can You Get Scotch Woodcock? This dish dates back to the Victorian times when it was served at the end of a large meal! These days most people eat it for breakfast, brunch or as a light snack. It’s not quite as popular as it used to be so you won’t find it in every breakfast house but you can ask. 

You don’need to go to England to try this because it’s so easy to make. Ilike to put fresh anchovies instead of paste and I add capers and sometimes I’ll put chorizo on it too. Oh god, I am getting so hungry now. mmmmmmmm.

4. Laver Bread

Weird Traditional British Food: laver-bread

Despite the name, this traditional Welsh delicacy is not bread at all.

What’s In Laver Bread? Laver bread is actually made with Laver seaweed which is found on the western coast of the British Isles. It grows on beaches where rocks are embedded in sand. The best way to describe laver bread is it’s green, slimy and looks like boiled spinach. To make laver bread, it’s simply boiled, then pureed or minced.

Where can you find laver bread? You can find laver bread in different forms in local restaurants. One popular way you’ll find it served is in a traditional welsh breakfast where it’s mixed with fine oatmeal then rolled into little cakes and fried into crisp patties with eggs, bacon and cockles (clams).

5. Stargazy Pie (English Sardine pie)

Weird Traditional British Food: stargazey-pie

Two Words, Fish and Pie. Apparently, this dish has fallen out of favour in the UK because many of my British friends had never heard of this dish. . Hmmm I wonder why. Could it be because this Cornish delicacy looks unappealing and weird with a bunch of  fish heads poking out of the crust?

Originally from the fishing village called Mousehole in Cornwall where legend has it that on the 23 of December, Tom Bawcock went out on his fishing boat despite horrible stormy weather and difficult seas.

He caught enough fish to feed the entire village. The fish were baked into a pie and the heads were left poking out to prove there were actually fish inside.  The fish literally look like they are staring up at the stars, hence the name “Stargazy Pie”. His actions saved the town from starving and ever since,  Tom Bawcock Eve festival is held on the 23 of December in the small town of Mousehole.

What is in Stargazy Pie? The original recipe had seven different types of fish baked into the pie but these days Sardines are used. (In the UK Sardines are called pilchard). Along with Sardines, there are usually chopped eggs, potatoes and onions in the pie. The heads are left poking up so all the delicious fish oils flow back into the pie which gives the pie a fuller flavour and keeps it moister too.

Where can you get stargazy pie? This fishy pie is mainly eaten around Christmas time especially in the town of Mousehole but you can make some stargazy pie if you like too. It’s not really that hard at all and actually pretty tasty despite the fact that fish heads poking out just sounds and looks wrong.

Here is a lovely recipe for Stargazey pie for you to follow. Let me know how it tastes.

6- Yorkshire Pudding

Weird Traditional British Food: yorkshire-pudding

I absolutely love Yorkshire pudding and I am absolutely positively sure that you will too. But don’t try to eat this as a desert because Yorkshire pudding is NOT a desert despite the word PUDDING. Or at least not the kind I am used to eating. You know the milk and sugar based pudding . Puddings in the UK can be both savoury and sweet.

What’s in Yorkshire pudding? This very English dish is basically a pop-over made of baked egg batter ( flour + eggs + milk) and it’s typically eaten with a roast beef but can also be eaten on it’s own slathered in delicious gravy…

Where Can You Find Yorkshire pudding? You can find Yorkshire pudding almost everywhere you can order a rib roast in the UK.

7. Toad in the Hole

Weird Traditional British Food: toad-in-a-hole

Toad in a hole can best be described as a distant cousin to Pigs in a blanket and there are no toads or frogs in this dish either, so relax.

What’s in Toad In A Hole?   Toad in a  hole consists of baking sausages in a flour and egg batter aka Yorkshire pudding batter.

Where can you find toad in a hole?  Typically this is something you would make at home with some onion gravy. Like it’s cousin pigs in a blanket, it usually is a hit with the kids.

8. Faggots:

Weird Traditional British Food: faggots meat balls

Yet another unfortunate name that does not really describe the food at all. I mean look at the description on the box above.

“YOU asked for it! Now with MORE sauce. Mr. Brain’s 4 pork Faggots” It just sounds wrong…

What’s in faggots? Faggots are large meatballs made of organs and entrails (offal), usually from the pig. I know it sounds gross and unless you grew up with it, you probably won’t appreciate the taste.

Where can you eat faggots?  Faggots were at the height of their popularity during World War II when there were heavy food rations. These days, now that people are not FORCED to eat them, they have become less popular BUT…. you can still find them in some rustic restaurants, traditional butcher shops, open market stalls and in some supermarkets. My guess is that the older generation might still like these Faggot meat balls. Mr. Brains (LOL),  is a popular brand that sells faggots in the frozen food section. If you do decide to try them, a popular dish is “Faggots and Peas”. God that name is horrible.

9. Piccalilli

Weird Traditional British Food: piccalilli-relisch-sauce

Piccalilli is actually a British interpretation of Indian pickles. India used to be a British colony and now some of the best Indian Restaurants outside of India can be found in the U.K.

What’s in Piccalilli? Piccalilli is a relish of chopped, pickled vegetables. Recipe’s vary but in general they include cauliflower, mustard and turmeric. It’s the turmeric that gives this relish it’s yellow tint. It tastes similar to sweet pickles except it is tangier and less sweet. It can be prepared so that it is larger and chunkier or diced smaller so that it can be more easily eaten as a bread spread.

Where can you find Piccalilli? Piccalilli can be found in most British supermarkets and there are loads of recipes online to make your own. It is usually served as a side or accompaniment to sausages, eggs, cheese, toast, tomatoes.

10. Black pudding

Weird Traditional British Food: black-pudding blood sausage

Black pudding is yet another British name that kind throws you for a loop. Yes, black pudding is black but why they call everything  pudding is beyond me. Black pudding is actually BLOOD SAUSAGE.

Now before you shrivel away from this dish, you should know that blood sausages are eaten all over the world and if you have never tried it, you don’t know what you are missing.

What’s in black pudding? Generally blood pudding in the UK is made with pigs’ blood,  pork fat, onions, oats, barley and various spices.  The mixture is cooked down until it’s nice and thick and then stuffed in a length of intestine.  It’s texture tends to be crumbly and mealy with an earthy aroma.

Where do you get black pudding? Although the ingredients sound like something Count Dracula might enjoy, It is actually very popular. Many breakfast houses in the UK serve black pudding as part of a full Scottish or English breakfast right next to your eggs and bangers. You can also purchase ready made black puddings which just need a gentle re-heating. Then cut thick slices and gently grill them, fry them in a pan or warm them in the oven. I prefer pan fried myself.

What Do You Think?

There you have it.  10 traditional and somewhat weird British foods you should try on your next trip to the UK. Now when you see spotted Dick on the menu, you won’t wonder what it is. You will know.

Have you ever tried any of these or heard of these dishes. What’s your most and least favourite? Leave your comments below. 

The Quirky Secrets Of Cyprus: 10 Fascinating Reasons You Should Visit Cyprus

10 secrets that will make you want to visit Cyprus

What are some places you want to visit?

……………………

Paris?

The Pyramids of Egypt?

The Grand Canyon?

Maybe Hawaii?

………………………..

Those are all great places to visit but why limit yourself to JUST those tourist hotspots?  What if there were hidden gems on this earth just waiting to be discovered?  Some place warm with beautiful sandy beaches, with close ties to ancient civilizations, wonderful food and a mix of modern and ancient culture?
Sounds good right?  I know of such a place.

Cyprus, The Place You Never Knew You Wanted To Visit

If you’re like most, you probably don’t know a lot about Cyprus and if you do know a lot than you don’t need to read this.

For the rest of you, I’m willing to bet that once you learn a little more about this forgotten frontier, you might actually put Cyprus on your list of places to visit one day.

Luckily for you, Cyprus has a healthy tourism industry of over 2 Million tourists ever year. So whether you want to find a villa in Cyprus, a 5 star Hotel or a charming bungalow for two you are sure to find a wide range of accommodations for anyone’s budget.

Not So Secret Secrets!

Technically, none of what I’m about to share with you is a secret. Nevertheless, I’m sure you will discover something new.

1- Cyprus Is “The Playground of the gods”

Aphrodite also known as Venus de Milo was from Cyprus

The Romans call her Venus. She is one of the most famous Greek goddesses of ancient civilizations. There is even a statue of her in the Louvre in Paris called “Venus De Milo”.

You might be surprised to learn that Venus has her roots in Cyprus where she is known as Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty and sexuality.

Another interesting fact is that Aphrodite is the mother of Eros the god of love (Eros is known as Cupid) and according to Homer’s Iliad her father was Zeus.

2- Cyprus Is where?

this is a map of Cyprus

 

Contrary to popular belief, Cyprus is NOT part part of the middle east even though geographically it is close to the middle east. It is less than 70 Km away from Turkey.

Nor is it part of Greece even though Greek is spoken throughout parts of Cyprus and much of its culture resembles Greece’s culture.

No, Cyprus is its own country and since 2003 it has been part of the EU. Cyprus is also an Island. It’s the third largest island in the Mediterranean right after Sicily and Sardinia.

3-The Languages of Cyprus

The official language of cyprus is Greek and Turkish but english is widely spoken

The island of Cyprus is divided in two. The main language spoken in the south, known as the Republic of Cyprus is Greek while Turkish is mainly spoken in the northern part of the island, known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Ironically, nearly 80 percent of the population speak English due to the fact that Cyprus was once a British colony from 1878 to 1960 so you will have no problem understanding and communicating with most locals.

4- What Do People from Cyprus Look Like?

I don’t actually know anyone from Cyprus so I was curious what the people of Cyprus looked like.

For fun, I looked for famous people who were either from Cyprus or of Cypriot Descent. I found 2 people you may have heard of. Unfortunately, I could not find any famous females.

George micahael is of Cypriot descent

George Michael: Born Georgios Kyriacos Panagiòtou.

I was surprised to learn that of all people, George Michael, the famous pop singer made famous for singing in the 80’s group WHAM is of Cypriot descent. Technically only half since his father is a Greek Cypriot and his mother was English. His real name isn’t George Michael either. He was actually born Georgios Kyriacos Panagiòtou. (I have no idea how to pronounce his real name either).

easy Jet founder is from Cyprus

Stelios Haji-Ioannou: Founder of EasyJet Airlines

courtesy of www.thisislondon.co.uk

Stelios is a Greek Cypriot who founded Easy Jet at the age of 28. He is probably one of Cyprus’s only billionaires and most celebrated Cypriot’s.

5- MEOW! Go See Some Cats

cats-st nicholas_monastery

Cats are not native to Cyprus which suggests that cats were introduced by humans. Nevertheless, cats are everywhere on this island. You should in the least make it a point to visit them unless of course you hate cats.

Here are two places you can go to see some cats.

St. Nicholas of the Cats

There is a holy monastery on the Island of Cyprus known as a sacred cat haven. It’s called St. Nicholas of the cats.

Legend has it, hundreds of years ago, Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great introduced cats to control the snakes and vermin which infested the area. The cats did their job and to this day you can find hundreds of cats roaming the monastery all cared for by nuns through donations and a special grant from the Cypriot government.  (warning, many of the cats are supposedly very scrawny looking and not well looked after).

The Malcolm Cat Sanctuary

You can see even more cats at the Malcolm Cat Sanctuary.  Their motto is “Help us make a difference for the cats in Cyprus”.

If you go to either of these places, please be sure to bring plenty of treats and plenty of love because the cats love to be pet and fed. You can also make a donation by visiting their website www.malcolmcat.org.

Go For The Archeology

oldest pet cat found in cyprus

Cyprus is an archaeologist’s dream come true. Every year archaeologists from around the world visit the island hoping to uncover stories of lives from the past and discover new secrets of ancient civilization.

6- Oldest Pet Cat Found In Cyprus

Recently a discovery was made by some of those archaeologists involving more cats.

According to a story in the National Geographic, it was believed that cats were domesticated in Ancient Egypt. However, the oldest skeletal remains of a pet cat was recently found buried inches away from it’s owner in a grave found in Cyprus. This discovery suggests that people have been keeping cats as pets for over 9,500 years. MEOW!!!!

You don’t need to be a historian or archaeologist to enjoy or imagine how the ancient people of Cyprus and Romans lived. There are plenty of places for the average person to visit.

 7- Ancient Tombs and Archaeological Sites

tombs_of_the_kings

Archaeological sites like the “Tombs of the kings”, an underground tombs carved out of SOLID ROCK which dates back to the 4th are one of many archaeological sites you can visit.

Many of these places are on rough terrain in isolated areas so be prepared to walk and wear comfortable shoes.

8- Try some of the oldest perfume scents in the world

oldest-perfume-cyprus

Although France is known for perfume, it was not the French who invented it.

Around 2003, a team of Italian archaeologists unearthed the worlds oldest perfumes and perfume bottles to date in Cyprus. The Italian archaeologist also discovered evidence of an enormous factory that existed over 4,000 years ago. The sheer size of this perfumeries indicates that perfume manufacturing was on an industrial scale.

At least 60 stills, mixing bowls, funnels and perfume bottles were perfectly preserved at the site, which had been covered in earth after a violent earthquake around 1850BC.  The finds are now on display at the Capitoline Museum in Rome along with several modern re-creations of the old scents.

Archaeologists say that the original perfumes were a mixture of olive oils and essential oils gathered from herbs and flowers.

Today you can find perfumes created using similar ingredients as the original perfumes in the Ayia Napa markets in Cyprus.  I hear the smell is very strong.

 

9- Food

meze cyprus food

Due to it’s location, the food of Cyprus is an interesting blend of Mediterranean , Middle Eastern with influences of the many countries who colonised the island at one time or another. You’ll even find African influences.

Coriander seeds, cumin, fresh herbs and parsley along with olive oil and lemon juice are just some of the typical things that can be found in many of the local dishes.

Be sure to try “Meze” which is usually served before a meal and consists of 10 to 15 different small dishes. It’s a great way to try lots of different dishes if you are not sure what to order as your main plate.

10 Beautiful Beaches

beaches-of-cyprus

If Greek mythology, cats or archaeological digs are not your thing than there are of course the miles and miles of beautiful beaches with clear blue water and golden sand just waiting to be explored by you.

Conclusion

Cyprus has so much to offer as a travel destination for both families and care free singles. The few things I’ve mentioned above are only a tip of the ice-berg.

Question: What do you think about Cyprus?  

 

tsa security checkpoint playset toy

Does Playmobil Security Checkpoint Toy Teach Children Racial Profiling?

what’s the big deal? Playmobil came out with a toy that caused many people to fly off the deep end, especially parents. The toy is the “Playmobil Security Checkpoint Play-set”.
The playmobil security checkpoint playset is no longer being sold, probably because of all the negative feedback but I did happen to see a used play-set for sale on Amazon.

So What’s The Big Deal? It’s just a toy right?

playmobil security checkpoint playset

The big deal is people are likening the security checkpoint play-set to the actual “TSA Security Checkpoints” at U.S. Airports.

Some people say, just the existence of this toy teaches children to accept racial profiling and improper searches. A topic that has been very controversial as of late. . 

Over at amazon, there were over one hundred comments left by people ranging from pure outrage to disgust over the existence of this toy.

Review after review suggested that this simple toy, teaches and conditions children to accept that it’s ok for innocent citizens to

  • have their privacy violated by unwarranted pat downs,
  • walking through x-ray machines that can produce images of virtually naked bodies
  • or being pulled aside because your name is Habib or your skin is too dark.

In other words, many people think it’s not ok that Americans 4th Amendment rights are violated in the name of security and that this toy is conditioning young children to be accepting of this violation. 

4th Amendment: does TSA seurity violate them?:

What’s The 4th Amendment?

Unfamiliar with the 4th amendment of US citizens?

Simply put, the 4th Amendment states that peoples privacy will not be violated against unreasonable searches and seizures without probably cause.

Pissed Off Reviews Left By People

Here are a few of the reviews left behind at Amazon about this toy.

You can hear the anger and the venomous sarcasm oozing from each review making them somewhat humorous.

1- One person said that this toy put us One Step Closer To an Orwelian World

“Does this include a pocket constitution complete with the 4th. Amendment of the Bill of Rights? What a farce. This is just another step toward the Orwellian States of America. Ban the TSA.”

2- Another person said that they liked the playset but wants to wait for the Mexican drug cartel play set:

“I’m waiting for the Playmobil Mexican drug cartel set! It comes complete with ransom note, bale of marijuana and the victims come with both heads and headless bodies. Wonderful toy for kids. Let’s them see their future. But the Playmobil Security Checkpoint Playset set is good for teaching your kids about how America is not free any-more, ESPECIALLY when there is a toy that proves it!”

playmobil security checkpoint playset

3-Jake is worried about his genitalia being exposed by x-ray machines. He only gave 1 star and left this outraged review.

“Really? Are you kidding me? I cannot believe that Playmobil would release a product like this. There would be more outrage if there was an X-ray machine exposing their genitalia and an interrogation room to get molested in. Congratulations, Playmobil, you’re another pawn in the New World Order who doesn’t give a damn about the welfare of children when they’re being sexually molested by TSA security agents.”

4-R. AshCraft left this snarky remark about the toys inability to teach racial profiling:

“My kids were so excited to get this toy and were waiting for the post each day until it finally arrived.
You could imagine my disappointment when we opened it up and all the figures were white.
How do I teach my children the importance of racial profiling without at least one darker skinned person? Where is the turban? It didn’t even have a Qur’an….
What is the fun in having some boring white woman who doesn’t even need to take her shoes off to get through security?”

There were pages and pages of reviews like this. Each one worse than the previous. 

Stop Your Wining

playmobil security checkpoint playset

On the flip side, there were a few brave commenter who spoke up in defence of this toy going so far as to say that airline security although not perfect is an evil necessary.

Here are some of their comments. There weren’t many. I think they were afraid to be chastised for going against the mass complaints.

1- Bree who apparently went to high school with metal detectors prefers to feel safe rather than fear being stabbed.

“I went to a high school with metal detectors; did I complain about a breach of privacy? No. If they want to look at my tampons, go ahead. I’d rather have a bag check then some social reject stabbing a knife into me. It’s sad when the kids act more adult than the…well, adults.”

2- Virginia thinks people should lighten up. Here is what she said.

“Once again people have taken an innocent toy reflecting our everyday lives and made it into something evil.
Like it or not, airport security is a part of our lives. Does it force us to spend precious minutes in our travel days
showing someone that we are honest people with nothing to hide? Yes. How awful!”

There were one or two more but again not many people spoke up in defence of this security checkpoint playset.

Conclusion

You just have to laugh.

Whether I believe airport security in the US violates a citizens privacy is irrelevant.

The question is: Does this toy condition children to accept that their rights might be violated by the process at US airport security in airports?

The short answer is, I don’t think it does teach kids that it’s OK to have your privacy violated.

Listen, my two sons turn paper clips and hangers into guns. Does that mean that paper clips and hangers teach kids to use guns? Of course not.

The same logic can be applied to this playset. I doubt that there are parents out there buying this and showing their kids how to do a strip search or pat someone down inappropriately or perform a probe! And if you are, than you are a sicko!

It’s a Toy people:

Ultimately, this is just a toy.  It’s what you  the parent make of it. So use it that way.

You can use it to teach your kids what to expect at the airport and maybe even alleviate some of their anxiety associated with going to a noisy and overcrowded place for the first time or

you can choose to believe that by simply having this toy that you are teaching children to lay down their civil rights.

That’s it.

I’ve said my peace.

What Do You Think?

Do you think this toy teaches children to roll-over and accept that it’s ok to have ones civil rights violated or that it’s ok to do racial profiling all in the name of security? Leave your comments below.

If you want to read the hundreds of comments yourself, check out the Playmobil security check point on Amazon

Watch this entertaining stop motion video someone made using the Playmobil security checkpoint play-set  Watch the ending where one of the action figure bends over.

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