News Round Up

THE BBC tells us that the UK's first polar bear cub to be born in 25 years is male.

Staff at the Highland Wildlife Park, near Kincraig in Scotland are preparing a list of "suitable names" for the public to choose from for the cub.

Head keeper responsible for carnivores, Una Richardson, commented: “Our keepers are coming up with a suitable list which we will soon ask the public to choose from on social media.

“This will help us engage with as wide an audience as possible to raise awareness of the threats polar bears are facing in the wild and the need to protect this magnificent species.”

The new young people's poet laureate for London is 24 year old Somali-British Momtaza Mehri.



The Guardian reports that she is hoping to spend her year in the role convincing young people “to see poetry as part of their every day, rather than in some dusty tome, or academic niche interest”.

Mehri, from Kilburn in north-west London, was selected for the role by a panel of arts organisations and poets, and is, according to Spread the Word’s chair of trustees Rishi Dastidar, “an inspired choice” and a “poet to watch”.



The Tate Gallery in London has launched a £5 ticket scheme aimed at increasing the number of young people going to ticketed exhibitions.

For some of the major events at the gallery, visitors have to pay up to £22, which says The Guardian, tends to restrict it to older age groups.

Tate director Maria Balshaw, said: “We are acting on what 16-25-year-olds say they want so that we can make the changes needed for future generations. Our sector should be shaped by their creative energy and their message to us is clear: arts institutions should plan with, not for them.”


Pensioner Linda Pollard, from Leicester, got a big surprise when she brought home a bag of pre-packed bananas from the Aldi supermarket.

For, says the Daily Mirror, out popped a three-inch long live scorpion!

She trapped it under a glass and waited for the RSPCA to arrive and take it away.

They identified it as a Slender Brown scorpion which are common in Belize, Central America, where the bananas had come from.

They are classed under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act as poisonous with a sting like a bee that can cause pain, redness and swelling and in rare cases heart attacks, hypertension or even death.



According to the Daily Express, the world's largest collection of toy soldiers is to be auctioned off.

Apparently, 250 military figures and vehicles made of lead, metal and plastic were found in the garage of Carmelo Mazzotta who died of leukemia aged 55.

Most of the soldiers stand between one inch and two inches tall, although some of the figures are larger.

It took two members of staff from Wessex Auction Rooms in Wiltshire nine days to box up the collection ready for a specialist toy sale later this month.

A spokesman said: “We believe this is the largest collection of toy soldiers in the UK - and possibly the world - to go to auction. This was a lifetime hobby for Mr Mazzotta and as such, selling it has been an emotional experience for his family.”

Reference list:

The Express (

The Guardian (

Daily Mirror (


IT seems that living rooms in British houses are getting smaller.

The Guardian newspaper outlines research by LABC Warranty, which provides warranties for new-build homes, which reveals that living rooms are nearly a third smaller than equivalent homes built in the 1970s.

The average living room in a house built since 2010 was 17.1 square metres (184 sq ft), compared with 24.9 sq m (268 sq ft) in the 1970s, a 32 per cent contraction.

And modern-day master bedrooms were on average 13.4 sq m (144 sq ft) in size, compared with 14.7m (158 sq ft) in the 1970s.

“Overall, Britain built the biggest houses in the 1970s,” said a spokesman for LABC but from the 1980s onwards “Britain’s houses started to regress.”

The research also showed a reduction in the number of bedrooms, which peaked in the 1980s at an average of 3.6 compared with just under three bedrooms today - the first time the figure has fallen below three.


Whilst on the subject of small properties, fancy owning an entire village, complete with Manor House, churches and shops in the beautiful Cotswolds...for just £595,000?

Well you can, reports the Daily Express, the only snag being that Bourton-on-the-Water is a one-ninth scale replica of the real village.

The miniature village has been attracting thousands of visitors since it was built in 1936.

But now owners Julian and Vicki Atherton, who bought it in 1999, but have put it on the market because they plan to retire.

Vicki said: “It comes with an unusual job description. You can do as much or as little as you like. I enjoy making the shop windows, the signs and gardening.”

The model village is one of the oldest in England and the only one to win Grade II-listed status as recognition for its rarity, craftsmanship and historic value.


Edward Fraser, from Norwich, is so enamoured with puzzles that he decided to propose to girlfriend Rachael Herman via a cryptic crossword.

The Daily Express reports that Edward spent three months crafting coded clues which popped the question for inclusion in his local paper.

One clue was 'The Black Prince begins untangling odes and seeks her final response to 27 Across' - which has the answer 'Edward does ask R'.

The clue to 27 across was 'It's a question of love' - which answered 'will you marry me'.

Edward said: “I was looking for something different and wanted to make it special because she is a special person. It was quite hard initially as I was trying to think of really cool clues.”

And Rachael sat down to do her weekly crossword on their seven year anniversary with little knowledge of what was in store for her.

She commented: “I had no idea it was coming, it was such a lovely surprise and Edward played along really well.”


 It's not looking good for two species of butterfly in the UK, says the Daily Mail, focussing on the annual UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme.

They say that conservationists are concerned that grayling butterflies and grizzled skippers, which were already in decline, suffered their worst year on record last year as they struggled in difficult weather conditions.

They had hoped that butterfly numbers would bounce back after the summer of 2016, the fourth worst year in 42 years of records.


 Still on nature, the Guardian tells us that hundreds of bird watchers from Europe flocked to Britain after an American bittern was spotted for the first time in almost a decade.

Apparently the bird was first sighted on Saturday evening above the reeds in Carlton Marshes in Suffolk, the first time it has been recorded in the county.


Reference list:
The Express (

The Guardian (

Daily Mail (

THE Daily Mirror tells us that 170 million year old tracks believed to be made by the older cousins of the T. Rex – theropods that stood up to six feet tall – and sauropods, similar sized long-necked cousins of the brontosaurus, have been found in a muddy lagoon off the northeast coast of the Isle of Skye.

The largest print, left by a sauropod, is more than 27in across, while the biggest theropod track is around 20in across.

Dr Steve Brusatte, of the University of Edinburgh, commented: “The more we look on the Isle of Skye, the more dinosaur footprints we find. This new site records two different types of dinosaurs – long-necked cousins of brontosaurus and sharp-toothed cousins of T. Rex – hanging around a shallow lagoon.”

He added that the animals lived on Skye “back when Scotland was much warmer and dinosaurs were beginning their march to global dominance”.

BIRTHDAY celebrations for Britain's oldest men who both reached 110 on the same day, although neither knows who is the elder as the exact times of their births is not known.

The Daily Express says that Robert Weighton, from Alton in Hampshire, shares a birthday with Alf Smith, from Perth, who were both born on March 29, 1908.

They recently became pen pals although being 470 miles apart they have never met.

NO more meat pies then.... the Daily Express focuses on a report which states that British men are the fattest in Europe and the third most obese in the world.

The statistics were compiled by health and well-being brand Forza Supplements, using government figures from around the world.

The average weight is13st 3lb - only Americans and the Australians are bigger – with an average height of 5ft 10in.

The 2018 man has a chest of 43in, a waist of 37in, wears size nine shoes and has a collar size of 16in.

Fifty years ago, the average British man was 5ft 7½in, weighed 11st 8lb and had a 38-inch chest and a 34-inch waist. He wore size seven shoes, had a collar size of 14½in.

Forza Supplements managing director Lee Smith said: “It is extraordinary how much Mr Average has changed in the past 50 years.

“He has gone from being what we might consider a bit of wimp these days into a taller, more rugged muscle man, but with a noticeable beer belly.

“These figures clearly show how obesity levels are going up all the time and this is impacting on male life expectancy.”