Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Did You Know?

Queen Anne Boleyn was reported to have had six fingers?  This was refuted, but it’s quite possible she did have two nails on her right little finger.

Churchill and Hitler were both artists.

Margaret Thatcher, once a chemist, assisted in the creation of soft serve ice cream.

It is normally thought that Henry VIII finished his marriages as follows: Divorced, beheaded, survived.  It is commonly believed that Catherine Parr (his last wife) was the only queen to survive him.  However, both Anne of Cleves and Catherine of Aragon survived his royal malfeasance.  Catherine of Aragon was never divorced by the Catholic church nor was the marriage annulled by them.  King Henry was excommunicated from the church and pushed an annulment through after the reformation.  He ordered that Catherine should have the title of Dowager Duchess of Wales.

The queen owns the sturgeons, whales, and dolphins in the waters around the UK.

George II died on the toilet and may have shared the same fate as Edmund II who was rumored to have been stabbed to death by a Viking hiding in his privy.

The queen is the only person in Britain who legally drove without a license or number plate on her car.

Owain Glyndwr was the last native-born man to hold the title of Prince of Wales.

Queen Victoria used chloroform as an anesthetic during childbirth.

Shakespeare’s father made gloves for a living.

During Elizabeth I’s time, makeup containing lead was used as an anti-aging cosmetic.

In 1952, the Great Smog encompassed London and killed anywhere from 4,000 to 12,000 people.  The “Big Smoke” is still used in reference to London.

Wales has more castles than any other country in Europe!  With over 600 castles, you might think the Welsh loved building them, but in truth, many were built by the English to keep the Welsh under control.

Queen Elizabeth I was reputed to be a man! (Of course, a woman couldn’t have been such a strong monarch!)

A folly (virtually unknown in the U.S.) is an expensive ornamental structure with no practical purpose.

Queen Victoria was the first monarch whose likeness was pressed on a postage stamp.

Edward VIII, the king who abdicated his throne for an American divorcee, was a Nazi sympathizer.  Upon the Nazis winning the war, he would possibly have been replaced on the British throne as its monarch.  He also encouraged an infamous picture in 1933 of Princess Elizabeth and her family performing a Nazi salute!

Queen Boudica of the Iceni is rumored to be buried under platform 9 at Kings Cross Station.

Shakespeare was a great propagandist for the Tudors.  His Richard III had little bearing on the real Richard III who was by all reports a handsome and well-liked ruler.  There is a lot of controversy over Richard’s involvement with the Princes in the Tower, but he certainly wasn’t freakish or sporting a withered arm.  He was, however, judged to have had severe scoliosis rather than a hunched back.  All this propaganda ensured that the public viewed the Tudors as rightful heirs to the throne and the northern kings as abhorrent.

Do you have any trivia to add?  Let us know in the Comments section!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Intelligent Packing: What Questions Should You Be Asking?

You're packing for an overseas trip, and you want make sure you only take the essentials.  This list of questions should help you hone your packing skills and cull your master packing list.  Please feel free to add some of  your favorite tips and tricks to the list!

Is this a need or a want?
Have you packed color coordinated clothing?
Have you packed clothing you’ll wear?  
Have you packed clothing that is weather appropriate?
Check the web for historical weather information for your destination.
Have you packed multi-purpose clothing?
Have you packed comfortable shoes suitable for walking? 
High heels are not always appropriate.  Ultimately, two pairs of shoes should get you by: one for daily walking and another pair for going out in the evenings.  If you can get by with one pair, kudos!
Is this on your packing list? If not, should it be there?
Is it really necessary? 
If you lose medications – that could be a hassle.  If you're missing a toothbrush, those are easily replaced.
Can you get it at your destination?
Can you rent it at your destination? 
Instead of packing hiking boots, poles, tents, etc.  Look for a place at your destination that rents them.
Is your travel partner already packing this?
If you’re traveling with others, do each of  you need one? (Think of things such as maps, hair dryers, or toothpaste.)
Do you  really need this gadget? 
If you’ve got your smart phone, do you really need a camera or video recorder?  And honestly, it’s your vacation.  Can’t you leave the laptop at home? It may mean less stress and more time happily enjoying the sites and sounds of your vacation.
Does every item have a purpose (and hopefully more than one)?
Have you packed too many medications? 
You’re not going to be gone that long… do you really need all those supplements?  Most of the time you can get things like Ibuprofen, Benedryl, antacids, etc. at  your destination. For a fee, many drug stores will pack a week's pills with prescription number for travel in blister packs. Make sure you have your pills in the original container or that you have your doctor's prescription on hand.  TSA doesn't require it, but you could have trouble in foreign countries whose laws are different than ours.
Have you packed too many beauty supplies? 
You can usually get hairspray, makeup items, and such at your destination.  I typically take the minimum: foundation, brow pencil, face powder, mascara, and lipstick.
Have you limited liquids. 
You are allowed 3.4 oz bottles of liquids in a one quart bag per person. Remember that you can split toothpaste or purchase toiletries at your destination.
Have you completed a trial pack and eliminated all the items that don’t work?
Have you tagged your luggage inside and out?  You may also want to take pictures of your luggage and the contents in case your suitcase is lost or misplaced.
Have you left space for holiday purchases?
Tips:  Pack a plastic shoebox for breakable items.  Roll up a daypack or Rick Steves convertible carry-on.  When you get to your destination this extra bag can be used for souvenirs or gifts.
Have you updated a master packing list to include all the items you're taking?

Packing Made Easy!
Tip #1: Save on your baggage weight by putting heavy things in your pockets rather than in the carry-on.  You can transfer them to your luggage at your convenience.

Tip #2: After your trip, edit your packing list to reflect what worked and what didn't.

Safe and happy travels!