V is for Étienne de Vignolles

I’m delving deep into history this week to bring you the French military commander Étienne de Vignolles who you will know better as the Jack of Hearts.

The squabble between the French and English over the throne of France called The Hundred Years War had rumbled on and off since 1337 but came to a head in 1415 when Henry V invaded Normandy. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Teaser: Another of those annoying puzzles – can you spot the lollipop hiding among the ice creams? If not, here is the solution.

Name game: I take umbrage at some of the peculiar names that people give their children these days and it seems that I’m not alone. A writer from Utah has Tweeted the dumbest names from her son’s junior high yearbook that includes the likes of Dezalin, Jaxon and Cambrie. Read more ›››

U is for Stanley Unwin

Stanley Unwin

If there is a universal language misunderstood by all it’s gobbledegook and there was no greater exponent of the art than ‘Professor’ Stanley Unwin.

Unwin was born in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1911 since his parents had emigrated there in the early 1900s. But his father died in 1914 and Unwin and his mother returned to the UK. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

But is it art? A Turin-based artist has spent months sculpting a life-size Fiat 500 car out of a 15-tonne block of white marble that he sees as a critique of today’s consumerist, throw-away society.

Living Dead: Authorities in Lake Worth, Florida, worried residents when they included a zombie warning during a recent power outage. Read more ›››

T is for Geoffrey Tandy

History can often turn on the simplest of mistakes and there is probably no finer example than Geoffrey Tandy who was accidentally in the right place to help crack the Enigma Code and so bring about the end of World War Two.

When the British were casting around to create a team of appropriately qualified experts for the super-secret Bletchley Park, someone recruited Tandy. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Shed alight: The only road legal motorised shed in the world set a new speed record by topping 100 mph at Pendine Sands in Carmarthenshire breaking its previous 80 mph record.

Illusions of perception: Following the gold/blue dress controversy of 2015, there is now an audio illusion on the web. So do you hear ‘laurel’ or ‘yanny’? The Donald, of course, hears ‘covfefe’. Read more ›››

S is for Katie Sandwina

We live in an age of admiration for ‘strong women’ but the original strong woman was around many years ago in the shape of Katie Sandwina, ‘the strongest woman that ever lived’.

Sandwina was born Catherine Brumbach in Bavaria in 1884, the second eldest of fourteen children of a circus family. Both her parents performed feats of strength and it was little wonder that Sandwina should follow them. Read more ›››