Espionage can be a dirty business of duplicity, double-crossing and general skullduggery but one case that stands out is that of Erwin Van Haarlem also known as the spy with no name.

His story begins in occupied Europe in 1944 when Johanna Van Haarlem gave birth to her son Erwin in the Netherlands. His father was a Polish Nazi who was killed soon after in the fighting around Caen. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Bless you: The town that gave us Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation is now home to the robot priest BlessU-2 that beams light from its hands and can give automated blessings as this video illustrates.

The big cheese: Chris Anderson won all three races at this year's cheese-rolling contest in Gloucestershire to equal the all-time record – and he doesn't actually like double Gloucester cheese. Read more ›››

Sir Thomas Urquhart

Much as I hate to repeat myself, U is a tricky letter to fill so here is a favourite ABC Wednesday entry of mine from a few years ago.

We all like to think that there is an ancestor with a claim to a title or was notable in some way, but few people can have taken his family history as far as Sir Thomas Urquhart when he published his Pantochronachanon in 1652. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Luxury vending: A dealer in luxury supercars in Singapore has created a fifteen storey high vending machine where you can pick up a Lamborghini, Ferrari or Maserati at the touch of a button.

Wrong 'un: Kim Jong-un's bid for world domination has spread as far as Teeside after a North Korean flag mysteriously appeared outside a house in Ingleby Barwick. Read more ›››

George Francis Train was an American entrepreneur, political activist and as an eccentric globetrotter possibly the inspiration for Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days.

Train was born in Boston in 1829, the son of Oliver Train, but both his parents and his three sisters died in a yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans when he was just four years old. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Shedding a light on eccentricity: The English are rather fond of their garden sheds but some things further than others as the Shed of the Year 2017 finalists demonstrate, like the 1950s police station shed on the left.

Sing a rainbow: Just how good is your colour vision? If you want to find out and have five minutes to spare try the Farnsworth-Munsell 100 hue test (Adobe Flash required). Read more ›››

Thomas Sopwith had a remarkable career as a pioneer of aviation, designing and producing the iconic planes for the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War, the Hurricane fighter plane in the Second and the world's first jump-jet in the 1960s.

And if that wasn't enough, Sopwith was also an accomplished yachtsman who challenged for the America's Cup in the 1930s. Read more ›››

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