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Lucky for some

Didn't he do El

A BRITISH expat was yesterday among the top winners of Spain’s £2.1BILLION El Gordo lottery.

Up to 1,950 people scooped £283,662 tax-free in the draw — which translates as The Fat One.

They included a horde of revellers at one bar who scooped a total of £92MILLION between them.

The complicated Christmas draw is designed to create as many winners as possible, and 32 million people entered.

Tickets cost 200 euros, or £189 — divided into tenths called decimos, at 20 euros, or £18.90.

Spaniards join work colleagues, families or even entire communities to buy tickets.

Hundreds of thousands queued in the cold to snap up a share, hoping to beat the economic gloom which has left Spain with the highest jobless rate in Europe.

The British winner, who has not been named, bought a ticket ending in a five because he was born in 1945.

He is living in the Torrevieja area on the South East coast where shop staff celebrated with other winning customers.

Three quarters of Spaniards p…

Starving polar bear or PR?

Polar bear video: Is it really the 'face of climate change'?
It is harrowing footage. An emaciated polar bear searches for food on Baffin Island, north-eastern Canada. 
Exhausted, it drags one leg slowly behind it, eventually trying to eat some discarded seating foam among rubbish humans have left.

Polar bears hunt from the sea ice, which is diminishing every year, and the photography team are certain the unfortunate animal died within days.

Watch the video hereSource : National Geographic

"This is what starvation looks like," wrote one of the photographers, Paul Nicklen. "The muscles atrophy. No energy. It's a slow, painful death."

Mr Nicklen's colleague, Cristina Mittermeier, said: "We cried as we filmed this dying bear. This is the face of climate change."

The clip has gone viral, widely shared as a warning about the dangers of climate change. But is there more to it?

'Public relations exercise' Mr Nicklen and Ms Mittermeier …

Gloomy news from the Arctic

Warmer Arctic is the 'new normal' A warming, rapidly changing Arctic is the "new normal" and shows no signs of returning to the reliably frozen region of the past.

This is according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Arctic Report Card.

Director of the administration's Arctic Researcher Program, Dr Jeremy Mathis, said the region did a great service to the planet - acting as a refrigerator.

"We've now left that refrigerator door open," he added. Dr Mathis was speaking at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans, where Noaa presented its annual summation of Arctic science.

This is the 12th report the administration has produced. And although it pointed to "a few anomalies" in a recent pattern of warming in the Arctic region, Dr Mathis said: "We can confirm, it will not stay in its reliably frozen state."

"The thing I took that had the most resonance for me was we're able …


Garden shed becomes best rated restaurant on TripAdvisor - but it serves up Iceland ready meals 
Oobah Butler created the fake "appointment only" restaurant in his garden using photographs of food and decoration made up ofshaving foam and bleach
A garden shed became the top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor after a writer tricked the popular review site by submitting fake reviews.

Oobah Butler, who writes for Vice, created the fake restaurant in his garden by setting up a website with photographs of food, which were in fact made from shaving foam, bleach and extra texture provided by using his bare foot as a backdrop.

He based his meals onmoods in a bid to set it apart from other restaurants - but many of the dishes served on opening night were in fact, Iceland ready meals.

He bought a mobile phone and registered the number as the restaurant's while refusing to give an address as it was "appointment-only", enlisting the help of friends to meet people nearby and…

Food reviews

On Thursday I went to a vegan restaurant and without a doubt, it was the tastiest vegan meal I have had in Madrid. I will certainly go back.

Here are some of the reviews of Vega on Trip Advisor:

***** 28 September 2017 Dinner

We went last Saturday evening. Food was yummy. Simple wholesome dishes filled with organic veggies and accompanied by some yum black rice. The mushroom croquetas were really tasty. As was the dessert, Panna cotta. The staff were helpful and very friendly. Would definitely go back.

****  22 June 2017 Fun, different and tasty!

We visited on a Saturday night and they were full (so definitely book in advance, thankfully we had). The atmosphere was great, it's a small place and it was bustling. The dining style is fairly casual with high tables, people eating at the bar and regular tables but the food was very special.

We ordered tapas and tried some local beers and had a really fun evening. We were visiting for our anniversary celebrations and the food served was d…

A crowdfunding story

How to crowdfund a restaurant empire 

When award-winning chef Gary Usher was *turned down for a loan to open a second restaurant, he *set up a crowdfunding campaign. Now he's about to launch his fourth restaurant.

All restaurants have a coming-of-age moment, the point at which they survive and thrive, or go down fighting. For Gary Usher’s Sticky Walnut, in a two-up two-down house in Hoole, just outside Chester, that moment came in 2013, about 18 months after they had opened. Usher, like any ambitious young chef *starting out on his own aged 30, had ploughed every penny he had into Sticky Walnut. He had gone back to Chester to open the restaurant – not far from where he had started out working in pubs – after successful stints in London at Michelin-starred Chez Bruce, and running Gordon Ramsay and Angela Hartnett’s kitchen at the York & Albany. He couldn’t afford to fail. Sticky Walnut had started well. He was getting good local reviews, doing healthy evening business and was pa…

The first 50 posts

I have been doing this blog for over ten years now. There are times when I felt like giving up but for some reason or other I never did.

I've been looking at the first 50 posts; from Sept 8th 2007 to Apr 9th 2008 (see all the posts using the Archive in the top left of the blog).

These are the posts that never received a comment:

Have you seen the film Catch Me If You Can?

The Flatmates was a fun way to improve your English.

Halloween doesn't have its origins in the United States.

We'll soon be hearing Last Christmas in the shops again.

A politician claimed the Spanish left €1 Tips for a coffee.

Advice on how to keep your New Year Resolutions.

There are controversial lines in God Save the Queen.

Pancake Day is a fun tradition in the UK.

The (lack of) Rain in Spain was a problem ten years ago too.

There was Rioting (again) in Madrid by football hooligans.

A bit of a gamble made a man wealthy.

We had Round Number One between Zapatero and Rajoy.

Are you one of those who says that "E…

Fewer Brits with pets

Pets in the doghouse as ownership falls
When it comes to the cost of owning a pet, many people in the UK are finding that there's just not enough money in the kitty.

Modern economic pressures mean that fewer households now own a pet. Just 56% now have one, down from 63% five years ago, say retail analysts Mintel.

Because many people cannot affordto buy their own home, more are renting from landlords who don't allow animals.

People are also having a family later in life, and children are big pet fans.

"Shrinking household sizes and the trend of consumers starting their families later in life are all having a negative effect on pet ownership," said Emma Clifford, associate director of food and drink at Mintel.

"Additionally,the shift towards privately rented accommodation continues to putdownwardpressure on pet ownership."

 Ownership of pet fish, including goldfish and tropical fish, has taken the biggest tumble, down from 17% of households in 2012 to 10% th…