News Round Up

SIGN of the times at an event in the House of Commons...

The Daily Express says that a 'robot' called Pepper gave evidence to a Commons education select committee.

Pepper is a "culturally aware" automaton based at Middlesex University as part of an EU-Japanese project to develop robots to help care for older people.

“She” appeared before the committee to discuss how such technology can help in schools.

The robot stood and moved its arms and head as it gave pre-programmed answers to questions which had been sent in advance,.

Pepper bowed before introducing itself and explaining how Middlesex students had programmed its interfaces to work with primary school children and those with special need.

MPs applauded at the end of the session and committee member Lucy Allan told it: “You're better than some of the ministers we have had before us.”



Fancy your own island with an historic past?

Well The Guardian informs us that Drake's Island in Plymouth South, which was named after the seafarer Sir Francis Drake, is up for sale for £6m.

The fortress island includes 16th-century barracks, a series of tunnels and planning permission for a luxury hotel and spa complex.

Drake set sail from the island in 1577 to circumnavigate the globe and it played a crucial role in defending Plymouth from French and Spanish invasions.

It has also been used as a prison, a religious centre, a refuge and, most recently, an adventure training facility, which closed in 1989.



Football fans were subjected to a 'sausage string' according to an article in The Independent.

Supermarket chain Sainsburys' wanted to promote a new range of vegetarian food and fans attending the Crystal Palace versus Wolves Premier League match in London ordered burgers and hot dogs from a burger van but were not told they contained meat alternatives.

The Independent said that several fans expressed their surprise after being told what they had eaten but praised the 'nice taste.'

Tony Arch is quoted as saying: “Very nice, it’s not meat but it tastes like meat.”


The Daily Express warns readers that massive hornets “the size of MICE” have been spotted flying around Kent for the first time.

Apparently the Asian hornets – real name vespa velutina - can grow to around an inch long and have sparked fears for native species because only a couple of hornets could kill an entire hive of bees.
They were spotted foraging on ivy in Dungeness and chief plant health officer Nicola Spence, from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, commented: “By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, we can take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets.

“While they pose no greater risk to human health than a bee, we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies and other beneficial insects.”



Westminster Abbey is to dedicate a memorial to the author PG Wodehouse 43 years after his death reports The Guardian.

Wodehouse was author of almost 100 books, and the creator of characters including Jeeves and Wooster.

The abbey said the plans, which were at a very early stage, will see Wodehouse honoured with a stone. More than 100 poets and writers are buried or have memorials in the abbey’s Poets’ Corner, from Jane Austen to CS Lewis.

Reference list:

The Express (

The Guardian (

The Independent (

THE Guardian reports that tickets for the 2019 Glastonbury music festival sold out half an hour after going on sale as record numbers of people attempted to buy one.

135,000 tickets have been sold with festival goers making the commitment before even knowing the line-up.

“Tickets have now all sold out! We are blown away by the huge demand, looks like record numbers tried. Thank you for your patience and incredible support and for those of you who missed out, there will be a ticket resale in April,” commented co-organiser Emily Eavis.



The Daily Mirror puts the spotlight in England's smallest school.

The Milburn School in Cumbria only has six pupils, one classroom and just one full-time teacher.

And it is so tiny, three year olds learn alongside 10-year-olds and their lunches are cooked by a local pub chef.

Pupils at the Milburn, which is on the edge of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, play on the picturesque village green during breaks because there is no playground.

Headteacher Nick Page, who splits his time as head between Milburn School and nearby Beaconside Primary School, which has 451 pupils. says that the low number of students means they benefit from one-to-one teaching.

He said: “Milburn is very special school in terms of its location, its number of pupils and what it has to offer.”



The Independent tells us that the remnants of a 200-year-old shipwreck have been found on a beach at Royal Bay of Grouville on the island of Jersey.

Metal detectorist Jonathan Bull discovered around 21 pieces of copper sheathing which are thought to belong to the HMS Severn and one is stamped “1794”– the year the ship finished undergoing a refit at Plymouth dockyard.

Records show the Severn was damaged nearby, stranded in the bay with a broken rudder.



According to the Daily Express, soaring property prices have forced more than a quarter of young adults to live with their parents.

The paper says that record numbers of those aged 20 to 34 cannot afford to leave home because of high rents and daunting mortgage deposits and payments and the number has increased by an extra 5,500 every month over the last 15 years,.

Angus Hanton, the co-founder of the pressure group Intergenerational Fairness, said: “Many young people simply cannot afford to fly the nest when they face stagnant wages, precarious employment, unpaid internships, and high student debt.”



An article in The Guardian newspaper says that a love poem written from the frontline of the Somme by the “great forgotten voice of the First World War”, the American author, heiress, suffragette and nurse Mary Borden, will form the heart of an event at the Tower of London to mark the centenary of Armistice Day.

The poem was written for a young British officer with whom she had an affair while running a field hospital during the First World War.

Borden expert Professor Paul O’Prey said it was “the only love poem I know about the battle of the Somme”.

Reference list:

The Express (

The Guardian (

The Independent (

Daily Mirror (

FANS of the British pop group The Kinks are in for a real treat, reports The Guardian.

Rare photos and memorabilia marking the release of their classic album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society 50 years ago are to go on show at the Proud Central gallery in London.

The band’s sixth studio album failed to spark commercial fireworks at the time but, says The Guardian, has since become a landmark of pop culture.

It was the final album made by the original quartet: brothers Ray and Dave Davies, Pete Quaife and Mick Avory.

Photographer Barrie Wentzell, who took many of the images used to promote the album, said: “As we were speeding up the Edgware Road, Ray told me about the album idea. The old pubs, houses, steam trains, village greens and old London were disappearing before our eyes – very sadly romantic and nostalgic and true!”



Data released by the Office For National Statistics shows that unpaid housework, such as cooking, cleaning and looking after children, is worth more than the UK’s retail and manufacturing output combined

An article in The Independent says that the data reveals that unpaid household work, which also includes adult care, laundry and driving, increased by 80 per cent between 2005 to 2016 – from £684.87bn to £1.24tn.

The figure, which equates to £18,932 per person, is greater than the £1.04tn total contribution of the UK’s non-financial corporation sector.



Now that's what I call an expensive drink.

The Daily Express informs us that a rare bottle of Macallan has set a new world record for a bottle of whisky at public auction after going for a £848,750.

The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 60-year-old was sold at Bonhams Whisky Sale in Edinburgh to an anonymous telephone bidder based in the Far East.

Collectors from around the world, including China, Hong Kong and Russia as well as the UK, packed the auction room in the capital's Queen Street.

Richard Harvey, from Bonhams, said: “We were hoping a new world record would be set, having broken the record twice in Hong Kong on the same day in May.

“To have broken the record for a bottle of whisky at auction three times in six months is astounding.”



The V&A museum aims to create the “world’s most joyful museum” for children and young people in a £13.5m revamp of its east London outpost, the Museum of Childhood.

The Guardian reports that the redevelopment is intended to make the museum more immersive and interactive, to inspire, it hopes, greater creativity in its young visitors.

A spokesman said: “This flagship project will unlock the V&A Museum of Childhood’s huge potential to fire imagination, spark ingenuity and become the world’s most joyful museum for children, families and young people.”

Reference list:

The Express (

The Guardian (

The Independent (

A real treat for Game of Thrones fans revealed in the Daily Mail.

Several locations that were used to film scenes are set to be opened to the public next year.

Some of the most famous landmarks in the show, such as Winterfell, were filmed in .Northern Ireland

Now HBO intends to celebrate the show's legacy by converting some of the Northern Ireland filming locations into tourist attractions.

Jeff Peters, vice president of licensing and retail for HBO, said: “HBO is thrilled to celebrate the work of the Game Of Thrones creative team and crew by preserving these locations and inviting fans to visit Northern Ireland and explore Westeros in person.”



An array of rarely seen documents from the Second World War are to be published for the first time by The Imperial War Museum in London.

The Guardian says they include a hasty sketch detailing the plan for one regiment’s escape from Dunkirk, to the handwritten annotations on Winston Churchill’s End of the Beginning speech.

The museum’s head of documents Anthony Richards sorted through thousands of papers in the archives to come up with 20 he felt defined the Second World War.

These include a “diagrammatic layout of embarkation” in which Captain Ken Theobald of the Fifth Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment detailed the plan the British Expeditionary Force would use to help his regiment escape the Dunkirk beaches in 1940.

“People remember Dunkirk because of the scale of it – it was such an enormous operation. The plan in the book only covers a very small part of the beach there – it was intended for just one special unit. It makes it more personal.”



There was a massive shock in store for Stephen Hope, from Stockingford, Nuneaton when he popped into his loft to look for books, reports the Daily Mirror.

For when Stephen opened the hatch a seven foot boa constrictor fell to the floor!

The snake, believed to be around 14 years old, has been taken to the Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary but no-one has any idea how it got there into the loft.



Business could be booming for British wine, reports the Daily Express.

According to the paper, Chapel Down in Kent is expecting to pick its largest crop ever at its 115-acre vineyard and believes that national production could exceed the previous record of 6.3 million bottles in 2014.

The company's marketing director Mark Harvey commented: “We are only at the start of the picking harvest but Chapel Down is expecting our biggest yield ever in part due to the summer’s good weather.”

Apparently the number of vineyards in Britain has doubled to more than 500 in the past 10 years and now accounts for 2,500 hectares of farmland – the equivalent of 3,500 football pitches.



UK embassies around the world are to get an artistic makeover.

An article in The Guardian says that a still life with artificial flowers, flock wall paper and lace doilies is to be the first in a series of government art commissions as part of a £500,000 scheme commissioning 10 artists over 10 years to create limited edition prints for diplomatic buildings.

Painter Hurvin Anderson Anderson was asked to come up with a work about Britain and responded with a snapshot of his mother’s front room in Birmingham. His parents were part of the Windrush generation and the glass vase is one of his mum’s prized possessions, which travelled with her from Jamaica.

“It is very important for our collection that we continue to acquire and show and reflect the society that we’re living in,” said Penny Johnson, the director of the Government Art Collection.

Reference list:

The Express (

The Guardian (

Daily Mail (

Daily Mirror (

BRITONS are facing a crisis of huge proportions, warns the Daily Star.

The paper claims that we will have to eat shorter chips next year because the summer heatwave has yielded smaller potatoes!!

Apparently we annually import around 750,000 tonnes of frozen chips from Belgium and the Netherlands where farmers suffered a 20 per cent cent cut in crop yields due to drought.

Pierre Lebrun, the co-ordinator of the potato sector of Wallonia, Belgium, confirmed chips will be an inch shorter than their usual 3.5 inches length.



Eighty three year old Bill Platts, from Barnsley in South Yorkshire, is certainly a creature of habit.

The Daily Mirror reports that Bill and his daughter Ruth have holidayed together for 50 years at the Biarritz Hotel in Jersey. - spending an estimated 660 nights there.

He first visited the hotel in 1968 when Ruth was just one years old and Bill estimates that he has stayed in the same room for 660 nights and outlasted five different managers.

Bill commented: “The hotel just serves our needs so well - we ask them to save us the same room every year.”

Around 20 years ago Ruth began bringing her husband Shawn Rabon, on the trips.



On a similar theme, the Daily Express tells us about headteacher Fran Lysyj who has just retired from her dream job as headteacher of St Thomas of Canterbury Roman Catholic Primary School in Bolton, 54 years after leaving the same school as a pupil.

Fran first left the school at the age of 11 but returned as a 21-year-old teacher and stayed for another 44 years, eventually becoming its principal. 

Fran said: “I found out about the job from the parish priest when I went to arrange my wedding.

“He told me there was a job going at St Thomas' which I jumped at as I had been a pupil there and loved it. But it was a bit strange as my old headmaster interviewed me for the job.”



According to The Guardian, archaeologists believe they have identified the exact site of Henry VII’s birth in 1457 after excavations in the grounds of Pembroke Castle in Wales uncovered the remains of a massive medieval mansion.

James Meek, who is heading the excavation for the Dyfed Archaeological Trust, said: “We know [from documentary evidence] that he was born in the castle, which was at that time owned by his uncle, Jasper Tudor ... it’s more likely that he was born in a modern residence, for the time, than in a guard tower on the walls.”



Funny story in The Independent about James Coad, from Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, who arranged for a six foot Subway sandwich to be delivered in the middle of his wedding speech as a reminder of his first date with new wife Lucinda.

Talking about a “typical work night”, James said: “Later in the night I took her to Subway and thought I’d be romantic by offering her an Italian 6-inch BMT.

“But when I handed it to her – she dropped the whole lot on the floor. I didn’t offer her mine though, that went home with me.”



Comeback tail for the large butterfly in The Guardian.

The specimen was declared extinct in Britain in the late 70s but has since made a dramatic comeback and has now enjoyed its best UK summer on record thanks to the lovely weather and a conservation efforts in the West Country of England.

Professor Jeremy Thomas, the chair of the joint committee for the restoration of the large blue butterfly, said: “This rare butterfly is really important because it is more difficult to conserve than other butterflies due to its complex life cycle.”



The Daily Express gives the thumbs up to D-Day veteran Harry Read who has taken part in his first high-level skydive since he parachuted into Normandy 74 years ago.

The 94 year old jumped 10,000 feet after taking to the skies from Old Sarum airfield in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

During the Second World War, Mr Read was a 20-year-old wireless operator and part of the Parachute Brigade landing in Normandy on June 6 1944.

He commented: “This was my first high-level skydive and whilst I was a little nervous I have always enjoyed the thrill of parachuting.

“It was amazing to experience the freefall and then cruising down was simply beautiful. I feel so lucky to have been able to experience this at my age.”

Reference list:

The Express (

The Guardian (

The Independent (

Daily Mirror (

Daily Star (www.daily