IT'S a rather a sad commentary on life today but a Daily Mirror story says that a quarter of primary school children cannot identify a Robin Redbreast or a Blackbird.

A survey also revealed that nearly half do not recognise a Sparrow, with 42% unable to name the common bird from a photo.

 

A spokesman for Wilko, which commissioned the poll commented: “Children’s knowledge of the natural world seems to be getting worse each generation. They seem more interested in watching TV and playing computer games than getting out to enjoy the incredible nature and wildlife available to them.”

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Crumbs! There seems to be a biscuit crisis in the UK. A story in The Guardian reveals that flooding at a factory in Carlisle has meant that there is a shortage of some of Britain’s best-loved biscuits.

The flood damage has halted production of Carr’s water biscuits, McVitie’s ginger nuts, Crawford’s custard creams and Crawford’s shortcake.

Several supermarkets said they were already running low on stocks of ginger nuts and some have already sold out of Carr’s water biscuits.

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Researchers at universities in Durham and Lisbon reckon that fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast can be traced back thousands of years.

The BBC said they studied links between stories from around the world and found prehistoric roots with some tales older than the earliest literary records, and one dating back to the bronze age.

Durham University anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani commented: “Some of these stories go back much further than the earliest literary record and indeed further back than Classical mythology - some versions of these stories appear in Latin and Greek texts - but our findings suggest they are much older than that.”

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And continuing the historical theme, an article in The Guardian reports that the origins of a group of men whose decapitated corpses were discovered in a Roman cemetery in York have been traced through genome technology.

One man came from as far away as modern Syria or Palestine, and the descendants of others now live in Wales.

The 1,800-year-old skeletons of more than 80 individuals, all aged under 45 when they died, were excavated more than a decade ago .

Many of them were taller than average and well built and may have been gladiators, soldiers or criminals whose violent deaths were arena entertainment.

The graveyard was discovered beneath gardens at Driffield Terrace, on land that would have been on the edge of the Roman city.

Christine McDonnell, head of curatorial and archive services at the York Archaeological Trust, said the isotope and genome research was a remarkable advance in understanding populations and migration patterns in the ancient world.

“This hugely exciting pioneering work will become the new standard for understanding the origins of skeletons in the future. As the field grows and costs of undertaking this kind of investigation fall, we may be able to refine our knowledge of exactly where the bodies were born to a much smaller region.”

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The popularity of period dramas on British TV has led to an increased interest in corsets, reports the Daily Mail.

Crafts including sewing have become more popular, says Iona Kenrick, deputy head of costume at the National Theatre.

The theatre is planning to run a course on how to make a corset like those worn in programmes such as 'Downton Abbey' and 'The Scandalous Lady W'.

Miss Kenrick added: “Dramas are inspiring people to emulate historical looks and people are interested in making stuff again these days. There’s more of a passion for that than I’ve seen before.”

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Fitness enthusiasts are becoming prone to a surprising new injury, says an article in the Daily Express.

A survey of 1,000 adult gym users by Accident Advice Helpline has shown that nearly 200,000 gym goers have injured themselves while glued to a smartphone as they exercise.

The distraction from a mobile has caused accidents with weights, rowing machines and exercise bikes.

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Dulwich Village is described by The Guardian as “a wealthy enclave in south London” but it also suffers the worst burglary rate in Britain following an analysis of home insurance applications by comparison site Moneysupermarket.com.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Our findings suggest thieves favour busy urban areas where strangers are unlikely to be spotted and it’s easy to make a quick getaway. But leafy suburbs are also heavily targeted, with burglars following the money to affluent areas.”

Reference list:

The Express (www.express.co.uk)

The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk)

Daily Mail (www.dailymail.co.uk)

Daily Mirror (www.mirror.co.uk)

BBC (www.bbc.co.uk)