12
Jun

June bugs and barbecues or raining cats and dogs? What's the June weather like where you are?

After a warm and sunny Easter, we had high hopes for a similar kind of summer - but so far it's been a bit of a washout, as they say. I know it's a cliché that we talk about the weather such a lot in Britain and many other countries, but to be fair, it's because we have such a lot of it. The fact that I have had to dig out wellies and waterproofs (and a sturdy umbrella or two) in the last few days really got me thinking about how we talk about the weather, in general. While we all know that climate change is now a reality, the daily weather remains a popular topic of conversation.
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11
Jun

Bicycles, balls and Video Assistant Referees - is June the month of exercise?

Even if you’re not much of a sports fan, or you just prefer to watch sport from the sidelines and cheer the players, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a World Cup going on. Just like the FIFA World Cup, the Women’s Football World Cup is regulated by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, and takes place every four years. The first Women’s Football World Cup took place in 1991, when the United States of America won; just a dozen teams took part. By 2015, the number of teams competing had doubled and for the 2019 contest, 35 teams were in the initial qualifying rounds. Read More
30
May

Wild March winds and gentle April showers eventually help May flowers to grow in our gardens, so where are the bees and butterflies?

Green fingers don’t exactly run in my family, but we love visiting gardens and learning how to grow things, and like many of us, we’ve noticed how we don’t see as many bees and butterflies in the garden as we used to.

Last weekend in the garden I was overjoyed to hear one of our bushes buzzing, actually buzzing, there were so many bees enjoying the flowers. I still believe the very first lavender bush I ever grew flourished at least in part because my local bees were so active on it.

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30
May

When is a fruit not a fruit? When it’s a tomato…which is also a vegetable...

When I was buying our groceries this week I found out that it’s week 2 of British Tomato Fortnight (it ends on 2 June 2019). For years, I mainly associated tomatoes with summer salads. I actually grew up thinking I hated tomatoes: every time I was given a salad, it had tomatoes on it. (Along with the obligatory boiled egg and limp lettuce leaf.) (I grew up thinking I hated salads too.)

While I loved the colour of tomatoes, and the taste was okay, I really disliked the squidgy bit in the middle, with the seeds. If only someone had explained to me earlier that tomatoes are actually fruits as well as vegetables, I might have coped with them a little better. It did explain why my mother used to insist on adding a little sprinkling of sugar to make them palatable.

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17
May

What are the seven types of human intelligence? Or are there eight, or even ten, intelligence types?

As we’re now well and truly into this year’s exam season, heads are down throughout the land (and further afield): SATs, GCSEs, ‘A’ Levels, Ebacc, and so many more – it can seem endless. And while exams are certainly important for some professions and walks of life, academic intelligence is not the only intelligence out there.

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15
May

Still enjoying Share-a-Story month? Travel to new worlds, even if it’s just in your imagination

So we’re half-way through Share-a-Story month 2019, and this year’s theme is travel.

You might think that travel only means getting on a plane or a ship or a train to go some place other than where you usually live: but actually, whenever you read or tell a story, you’re also taking a journey.  You can explore different ways to see the world, taking a journey without physically going anywhere. Many stories are about journeys, inner or outer.

So what makes a story, anyway?

Well, you can’t have a story without characters, although they don’t always have to be human. Most stories are about a main character, or protagonist, their friends, their enemies, and some kind of challenge they are facing.

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08
May

A new kind of PENfriend – Mantra Lingua’s new digital device to help make sense of the world all around you

If you’ve ever listened, really listened, to the soundscape of the world around you, you’ll know how important our sense of hearing really is. It helps us work out what’s going on, and listening is one of the four basic skills of language (the others being speaking, reading and writing).

Penfriend is a reassuring word; it speaks of kindness and a way of seeing the world through the eyes of someone else, interpreting the world around you so it starts to make sense. This is exactly what the new PENfriend3™ allows you to do.

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08
May

Our Lady of Paris: the cathedral of Notre Dame endures

On Monday April 15, 2019, Paris made news headlines around the world, as millions of people looked on in disbelief. After more than 800 years at the heart of Paris, it seemed that the iconic cathedral of Notre Dame was about to go up in flames. While the damage was extensive, and the rebuilding work will take many years and highly specialised skills, much of the building of Our Lady of Paris was thankfully saved for future generations, thanks to the co-ordinated and careful efforts of Parisian officials.

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02
May

And a very merry May Day to you too – some Mayday and Beltane celebrations and traditions

Whether you call it Mayday, Beltane or Labour Day, celebrate 1 May - the start of summer for many of us.

While some people refer to it as Beltane, 1 May is most often known as May Day in the northern hemisphere. While, in our modern world, summer doesn’t officially start until 21 June, in times gone by, May the first was often regarded as the time when summer really began.

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01
May

Which do you prefer, the singer or the song? Time to celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day

You know it’s spring when the dawn chorus calls. Find out more about which early bird sings which song.

Many of us may know that cats, dogs and other domestic animals make different noises depending on where they live, and the language that is spoken there: so cats in mainly English-speaking countries generally say “meow”, while in Japan, they say “nyaa nyaa”; and while dogs generally “woof” or “bow wow” in English, in Polish they say “hau hau”.

Scientists have also found that many animals have different accents depending on where they live and the main language spoken there, but did you know the same applies to birds?

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