August 8, 2014

Top 10 Facts About the British Isles That You Didn't Know You Didn't Know

For British Isles Friday this week I thought I would make a Top 10 list and the first thing that came to mind was to make it about weird or unusual things or rare knowledge, so that's what I did!  

1. It is illegal to get drunk in a pub in England.  I wager this law to be unenforceable unless someone is causing problems.  In Scotland, it is illegal to get drunk and possess a cow.  Now, does "possess" mean own here?  Like you cannot be drunk and own a cow at the same time?  Or does "possess" mean like take over their body all Exorcist-like?  Either way, what the hell.  Source: BBC News

2. The London Bridge is rumored to be haunted.  People have claimed to see a woman in black roaming in the night.  There are at least a dozen haunted places to visit and tour (and get spooked by!) in London alone.  Source: Travel Channel

Source: My Paranormal Podcast on Tumblr

3. During WWI, British M16 spies used semen as invisible ink.  Ew.  Just ew.  Source: The Telegraph

4. Mount Everest is the World's highest mountain and was named in 1865 after a Welshman, Sir George Everest, Surveyor General of India. Just like a bunch of white guys to name a mountain in Nepal after themselves. In case you are wondering, the mountain is known in Nepal as Sagarmāthā and in Tibet as Chomolungma. Sources:Sir Edmund Hillary by Samuel Willard Crompton (2009); Wikipedia for the Nepalese and Tibetan names

5. Henry III kept a polar bear in the Tower of London.  It was a gift from King Haakan of Norway.  It swam in the Thames.  A polar bear wasn't the only large gift the king received.  King Louis IX gave him an African Elephant and Emperor Frederick II gave him three lions (or leopards).  Source: Historic Royal Palaces

6. Pom or Pommy is a nickname for Brits sometimes used in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The origin is unknown, although the strongest theory is that it's a contraction of pomegranate which was Australian rhyming slang for immigrant.  Source:

7. Eistenddfods is an annual Welsh festival of literature, arts, music, and performance that celebrates their cultural heritage.  The tradition dates back to the 12th century.  Source: The National Eisteddfods of Wales

Image of the Eisteddfod grounds

8. Thistle has been the national symbol of Scotland since the reign of Scottish king Alexander III (1249-86). Legend has it that Vikings, attempting to invade by stealth, mistakenly alerted the Scots to their presence when one barefoot Viking stepped upon a thistle. He cried out in pain, which enabled the Scots to repel their invaders.  Source: Express U.K.

9. Jersey Island in the Channel Islands of the British Isles is home to Elizabeth Castle.  Elizabeth Castle was once the home of Sir Walter Raleigh, a place of refuge to Charles II during the English Civil War, and is thought to be where St. Helier lived in 550 A.D.  Source: Jersey Tourism Site

10. Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows aren't the only ones who wrote books about life on Guernsey in the Channel Islands.  French Author Victor Hugo wrote 'Toilers of the Sea', set in Guernsey and the Bailiwick waters, while a resident of the island.  Source: Visit Guernsey   

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