Posted in locomotives, steam locomotives, Television, Trains

River Walks

The Severn Valley Railway features in a new BBC1 television programme entitled, ‘River Walks’. It is presented by Actress Shobna Gulati, who is currently starring in the hit West End Musical ‘Everybody’s Talking about Jamie’, and has previously appeared in Coronation Street, Dinnerladies and Doctor Who and explores stories that are part of the stunning River Severn’s landscape.

Shobna spent 4 days filming along the footpaths alongside the Severn riverbanks between Bewdley and Bridgnorth during early November 2018 . Shobna then returns along the Severn Valley Railway from Bridgnorth to Bewdley riding on the footplate of Class 4 No. 43106. Amongst the many other highlights was sailing on Trimpley Reservoir with 85 year old Ray Drury from Stourbridge, a member of the Trimpley Sailing Club for 50 years who took Shobna out for her first ever sailing lesson. Shobna also met up with ex-miner, Trevor Jones, at the Severn Valley Country Park in Alveley, who recalled his memories of working down the Coal Mine at Alveley in the 1950s, before it was closed in 1969 and transformed into the country park

The program was made by Kidderminster based TV Production Company, GOSH! TV, for the BBC. The Creative Director and Producer, Paul Barnett, approached Shobna to present the programme, Prior to doing River Walks Paul, has also produced and directed many successful TV series for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, including Coast, Come Dine With Me and Embarrassing Bodies, and has travelled to many places including Scotland and Thailand. River Walks is broadcast on Monday 10th December at 7.30pm

Posted in books

Private Princess by James Patterson and Rees Jones

Private Princess is the fourteenth exciting thriller by James Patterson to feature private investigator Jack Morgan who is head of the world’s foremost investigation agency receives and receives an offer he cannot refuse when he invited to meet Princess Caroline, third in line to the British throne.

After being hurriedly whisked off to her residence, Morgan meets with the royal, who explains that a dear friend of hers has gone missing, a woman with a wild streak and great tabloid fodder. Never one to turn down a challenge, Morgan begins his investigation, sure there is more to the story than the princess is willing to tell. However as he investigates further Morgan begins to suspects that the Princess is hiding something important and that there is more to this case than he is being told.

Meanwhile the head of Private: London, Peter Knight is on another case to explore an apparent suicide of a well-to-do gentleman whose daughter wants to keep scandal from the tabloids. When Knight and Morgan compare notes, they realise that there is more to each of their cases than meets the eye So they decide to Join forces. Then an villainous old foe named Flex, from a past U.K. case resurfaces with deadly intentions, Morgan cannot simply leave. Soon Jack Morgan and the entire Private: London enterprise are on this new mission, refusing to back off until all is right again. Trouble is, Jack Morgan’s luck may have finally run its course.

Posted in Events, Food

More anniversaries and holidays happening on 7 December

National Cotton Candy Day
International Civil Aviation Day
National Letter Writing Day
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance

Special Kids Day

Special Kids Day Was Started in 1990. It began as a holiday event that provided an opportunity for children with special needs and their families to visit Santa Claus without having to face some of the obstacles that they might encounter when trying to experience a visit with Santa in a mall.

Over the years, through a combined effort among local businesses and community organizations, the Department of Education at Elmhurst College and dedicated individuals, Special Kids Day has grown to serve hundreds of families in the western suburbs. Today, Special Kids Day has evolved into a not-for-profit, organization dedicated to providing celebratory events for children with disabilities and their families in environments designed to accommodate their special needs.

National Cotton Candy Day

National Cotton candy Day (Candy Floss day) occurrs annually on 7 December. Cotton candy is a form of spun sugar. The confection is mostly sugar, with small amounts of either flavoring or food coloring often being added. Cotton candy is made by heating and liquefying sugar and spinning it out through minute holes. It resolidifies in minutely thin strands of “sugar glass”. The final cotton candy contains mostly air, with a typical serving weighing around 1 ounce or 28 grams. It is often served at fairs, circuses, carnivals, and Japanese festivals, and sold on a stick or in a plastic bag.

Similar light halva confections include the Indian sohan papdi and pootharekulu, the Persian pashmak, and the Turkish pişmaniye, although the latter is made with flour and water in addition to sugar. Tatar cuisine has similar flour-honey sweet sawdust talqysh-kalava. Similar sweets include Chinese dragon’s-beard candy and Korean honey skein kkul-tarae.

The creation of Cotton Candy/ Candy Floss dates all the way back to the 1400’s when it was first called spun sugar. Several places claim the origin of cotton candy, with some sources tracing it to a form of spun sugar found in Europe in the 19th century. At that time, spun sugar was an expensive, labor-intensive endeavor and was not generally available to the average person.Others suggest versions of spun sugar originated in Italy as early as the 15th century.

Machine-spun cotton candy was invented in 1897 by the dentist William Morrison and confectioner John C. Wharton, and first introduced to a wide audience at the 1904 World’s Fair as “Fairy Floss”  with great success, selling 68,655 boxes at 25¢ per box (equivalent to $6 per box today). Joseph Lascaux, a dentist from New Orleans, Louisiana, invented a similar cotton candy machine in 1921. In fact, the Lascaux patent named the sweet confection “cotton candy” and the “fairy floss” name faded away, although it retains this name in Australia. In the 1970s, an automatic cotton candy machine was created which made the product and packaged it. This made it easier to produce and available to sell at carnivals, fairs, and stores in the 1970s and on. Tootsie Roll of Canada Ltd., the world’s largest cotton-candy manufacturer, makes a bagged, fruit-flavored version called Fluffy Stuff.

Since then cotton candy has been a favorite treat for young and old alike at carnivals, fairs and the circus. Each year on December 7th, cotton candy lovers look forward to celebrating the day as they pull puffs of cotton candy from a stick or out of a bag and reminisce about their childhood days.


Posted in music

Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake amd Palmer)

English singer, musician, songwriter, and producer Gregory Stuart “Greg” Lake tragically died on 7 December 2016 after suffering from cancer. He was born 10 November 1947 and grew up in the Parkstone area of Poole in Dorset along with Robert Fripp, who founded Progressive Rock Band King Crimson. He grew up in the residential suburb of Oakdale. At age 12, Lake first learned to play the guitar and wrote his first song, “Lucky Man”. Lake then took guitar lessons from Don Strike. Lake attended Oakdale Juniour School followed by Henry Harbin Secondary Modern School, leaving in 1963/64. He then took up work loading and unloading cargo at the Poole docks, and worked as a draughtsman before deciding to become a full time musician at age 17.

Lake joined his first band, Unit Four, playing cover songs as their singer and guitarist, through 1965. When they split, Lake and Unit Four bassist Dave Genes formed another covers group, the Time Checks, until 1966. He then became a member of The Shame. Unfortunately Lake contracted pneumonia and continued to perform on stage. His band mates refused to drive back home that night, leaving Lake to sleep in the van where he “woke up blue. Following a brief stint in the Shy Limbs, by 1968 Lake was involved with The Gods, but left the group in 1968 over creative differences as the band. Robert Fripp saw Lake perform in Unit Four in Poole and When Fripp formed King Crimson, he chose Lake to be the singer and bassist and King Crimson’s very successful debut album In the Court of the Crimson King was released 1969.

However During the subsequent tour, Lake met The Nice’s keyboardist Keith Emerson and left King Crimson and the pair decided to form Emerson Lake and Palmer recruiting drummer Carl Palmer of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster to form a progressive rock supergroup, Emerson, Lake & Palmer.As well as bass, Lake contributed acoustic and electric guitar work to Emerson Lake & Palmer, and his voice had a wider and more diverse range than anything The Nice had recorded. Emerson, Lake & Palmer combined Emerson’s interest in complex, classically-influenced music and Lake’s more straightforward rock tastes. The band’s second album was entitled Tarkus, and featured the songs “Battlefield” and “From the Beginning”. Emerson, Lake & Palmer became one of the most successful groups in the 1970s. Lake picked Works Volume 1 as the “beginning of the end” of the band, as Lake did not produce their future albums, neither of which were “really innovative record”. They split in 1979 following the unsuccessful album Love Beach, an album the group were contractually obliged to record. The group reformed for a number of years in the mid-1990s before permanently disbanding barring a one-off gig in 2010.

In 1975, while still a member of ELP, Greg Lake achieved solo chart success when his single, “I Believe in Father Christmas”, which has since become a Yuletide perennial. In 1981 Lake played with Gary Moore at the Reading Rock festival. The band opened with Fanfare for the Common Man, Lake playing a Kramer 8 string Bass. Moore also played his signature track Parisian Walkways. Lake briefly joined Asia in 1983, replacing fellow King Crimson member John Wetton, and then co-formed Emerson, Lake & Powell. In 2001, Lake toured as a member of the seventh incarnation of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band. In 2003, Lake played the bass on The Who song “Real Good Looking Boy”.

In 2005, Lake toured Germany and the UK with his assembled group, the Greg Lake Ban, which included David Arch on keyboards, Florian Opahle on guitar, Trevor Barry on bass, and Brett Morgan on drums. In 2006, Lake played as a member of the supergroup The RD Crusaders in aid for charity. Lake performed “Karn Evil 9” with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at several shows and he was a special guest on their album Night Castle (2009). In 2010, Lake and Emerson completed an acoustic world tour, performing ELP songs. In July 2010, Lake joined Emerson and Palmer for a one-off gig from Emerson, Lake & Palmer at the High Voltage Festival in Victoria Park, London, to commemorate the band’s fortieth anniversary.

Posted in music

Tom Waits

American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor Tom Waits was born on this day, December 7 in 1949. His distinctive voice, is described as sounding “like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car, has helped him built up a distinctive musical persona, and over the years his trademark growl has been combined with a variety of pre-rock music styles such as blues, jazz, and vaudeville, and experimental tendencies verging on industrial music.Waits has also worked as a composer for movies and musical plays and as a supporting actor in films, including Down by Law and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his soundtrack work on One from the Heart.

Lyrically, Waits’ songs frequently present atmospheric portrayals of grotesque, often seedy characters and places—although he has also shown a penchant for more conventional ballads. He has a cult following and has influenced subsequent songwriters despite having little radio or music video support. His songs are best-known through cover versions by more commercial artists: “Jersey Girl”, performed by Bruce Springsteen, “Ol’ ’55″, performed by the Eagles, and “Downtown Train”, performed by Rod Stewart.

Although Waits’ albums have met with mixed commercial success in his native United States, they have occasionally achieved gold album sales status in other countries. He has been nominated for a number of major music awards and has won Grammy Awards for two albums, Bone Machine and Mule Variations. In 2011, Waits was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Posted in aviation, Events

Pearl Harbour Day

Pearl Harbour day takes place annually on 7 December to commemorate The Japanese assault on Pearl Harbour, which took place 7 December 1941 which resulted in, 2,390 Americans losing their lives and catapulted America into the Second World War . Twelve ships were also sank or beached, and nine were damaged. The US lost 164 aircraft. On the Japanese side, 64 people died, five ships sank, and 29 planes were destroyed.

The attack on Pearl Harbor (called Hawaii Operation or Operation AI by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters (Operation Z in planning and the Battle of Pearl Harbor) was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941 (December 8 in Japan). The attack was intended as a preventive action in order to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions the Empire of Japan was planning in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. The base was attacked by 353 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four being sunk.All but two of the eight were raised, repaired and returned to service later in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. One hundred eighty-eight U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 wounded.

The attack led to the United States’ entry into World War II and. There were simultaneous Japanese attacks on the U.S.-held Philippines and on theBritish Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong.From the standpoint of the defenders, the attack commenced at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time. The base was attacked by 353 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four being sunk. All but one were later raised, and six of the eight battleships returned to service and fought in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 wounded. Important base installations such as the power station, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building (also home of the intelligence section) were not attacked. Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 65 servicemen killed or wounded. One Japanese sailor was captured

The attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. The following day (December 8th ) the United States declared war on Japan. Domestic support for isolationism, which had been strong, disappeared. Clandestine support of Britain (for example the Neutrality Patrol) was replaced by active alliance. Subsequent operations by the U.S. prompted Germany and Italy to declare war on the U.S. on December 11, which was reciprocated by the U.S. the same day. This led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy”.

Posted in aviation, Events

International Civil Aviation Day

International Civil Aviation Day is celebrated annually on 7 December. The day has been celebrated by the International Civil Aviation Organization since 7 December 1994, the 50th anniversary of the signing the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The purpose of the day is to recognize the importance of aviation, especially international air travel, to the social and economic development of the world.

Civil aviation is one of two major categories of flying, representing all non-military aviation, both private and commercial. Most of the countries in the world are members of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and work together to establish common standards and recommended practices for civil aviation through that agency Civil aviation includes two major categories:

Scheduled air transport, including all passenger and cargo flights operating on regularly scheduled routes; and General aviation (GA), including all other civil flights, private or commercial Although scheduled air transport is the larger operation in terms of passenger numbers, GA is larger in the number of flights (and flight hours, in the U.S. In the U.S., GA carries 166 million passengers each year, more than any individual airline, though less than all the airlines combined. Since 2004, the US Airlines combined have carried over 600 million passengers each year, and in 2014, they carried a combined 662,819,232 passengers.

Some countries also make a regulatory distinction based on whether aircraft are flown for hire such as Commercial aviation and flying done for hire, particularly scheduled service on airlines; and Private aviation includes pilots flying for their own purposes (recreation, business meetings, etc.) without receiving any kind of remuneration. All scheduled air transport is commercial, but general aviation can be either commercial or private. Normally, the pilot, aircraft, and operator must all be authorized to perform commercial operations through separate commercial licensing, registration, and operation certificates.

Following World War Ⅱ, commercial aviation grew rapidly, using mostly ex-military aircraft to transport people and cargo. This growth was accelerated by the glut of heavy and super-heavy bomber airframes like the B-29 and Lancaster that could be converted into commercial aircraft. The DC-3 were also made for easier and longer commercial flights. The first commercial jet airliner to fly was the British de Havilland Comet. By 1952, the British state airline BOAC had introduced the Comet into scheduled service. While a technical achievement, the plane suffered a series of highly public failures, as the shape of the windows led to cracks due to metal fatigue. The fatigue was caused by cycles of pressurization and depressurization of the cabin, and eventually led to catastrophic failure of the plane’s fuselage. By the time the problems were overcome, other jet airliner designs had already taken to the skies.