We are Over the Hump! Issue 36

We are officially ‘Over the Hump’! It is Wednesday, and the downhill slope to the weekend starts here! Our highlights from across where-i-live.com this week include :  
  • Genealogy. The study of our family history, our heritage, and who we are – at least for those on the former side of the nature/nurture argument. In the US, it has become the second most popular hobby, as well as being an international craze. Are there any free and easy ways to find out your family’s history? Read more here.
  • Which planet is known as the red planet? Mars is the next step for mankind in the solar system and has been a source of fear and fascination for mankind. But science is now beginning to unravel the red planet’s mysteries. Discover more here.
  • The Statue of Liberty is possibly the most famous landmark in the entire world and is a huge tourist attraction for people all around the world. The figure of a woman wearing a crown and holding a flaming torch is symbolic of America. However, not many people know the history of woman who posed for this world famous statue and how she has influenced many around the globe. There may not be one definitive answer but there are certainly some interesting theories. Find out more here.
  • For 11 long years, weekends did not exist in the Soviet Union. Like today’s dystopian novels, manufacturing ran, machines processed, and labour continued non-stop in order to create an industrial powerhouse. But what was the secret design behind this idea? Find out here.
  • You can follow Over The Hump on Twitter at @Over_theHump
  • Scotland offers up some fantastic scenery by day. But for a growing number of tourists, it’s the spectacular views by night that are attracting them to remote ‘dark sky’ parks. Discover more here.
  • Is Geotagging on Instagram causing long-lasting environmental to natural beauty spots? Many would say ‘yes’, and some tourist boards are even going as far as to running campaigns on social media to discourage tagging. Read our article here.
  • Frozen in real life and are trying to get all the senses of Arendelle. Surprisingly, there are quite a few options available to make you feel like you are in the magical land of Frozen. Find out more here.
  • Going to a restaurant is a pleasant experience and one that many people enjoy as a group but why do so many people struggle with going to a restaurant on their own? Read our article here.
  • You can follow Compass on Twitter @WIL_Compass

Reach for the stars – The growth of dark sky tourism in Scotland

Scotland offers up some fantastic scenery by day. But for a growing number of tourists, it’s the spectacular views by night that are attracting them to remote ‘dark sky’ parks. By Sam Roberts Where best in Scotland can you go to see clear night skies? If you said that Scotland has long and dark winter nights, it would be a colossal understatement. The sunsets are early, and the sunrises are late – it makes for short winter days. However, the long nights offer incredible stargazing opportunities! Scotland, especially in the Highlands, has minimal light pollution. And in certain parts of the country, you will struggle to find a better stargazing spot globally. Furthermore, you can sometimes catch a glimpse of the Northern lights or the Milky Way. I have been fortunate enough to see the stars in some of the worlds most fabulous stargazing locations, including the Egyptian Desert, India’s Thar Desert, the Australian bush, and the desolate jungles of Chiang Mai, Thailand. There isn’t anything more inspiring, eye-opening, and deeply humbling than seeing the stars and realising how irrelevant we are!
Dark Sky Tourism Scotland
Night sky above Loch Linnhe in Argyll
So where are the best spots in Scotland to marvel at the universe at night? The Best Spots to See the Stars in Scotland  Torridon  Torridon is the most notorious spot for clear night skies in Scotland. Visitors love the tranquil surroundings underneath dramatic mountains in the Northwest Scottish Highlands. Tourists also visit here for climbing, hiking, photography spots, and majestic wildlife. Luskentyre Sands The Luskentyre Sands Beach looks like it could be in the Caribbean. Not only is it miles of stunning white sands, idyllic blue seas, and one of TripAdvisor’s best beaches. But it remains an excellent spot to see the stars during the night. Tomintoul and the Glenlivet Estate Tomintoul and the Glenlivet Estate is one of Scotland’s hidden gems. The area will bless you with rugged scenery, hiking spots, and the potential to see the Northern Lights at night. You can find the location in the east of Cairngorms National Park. The Galloway Forest Park and the Scottish Dark Observatory The Galloway Forest Park received dark sky status in 2009, making it the UK’s first location to receive that accolade. And the local government built the Scottish Dark Observatory in 2012. You can explore the area by yourself and even find a wild-camping location nearby. Assynt Assynt is home to the Glencanisp Estate, an official dark sky discovery site. But the spot is in the far north of the Scottish Highlands, so it will take a dedicated individual to head here. The sky’s views will reward you because it is hard to find clearer skies in Britain. Dark Sky Tourrism ScotlandWhat makes these locations growth areas in activity holidays? Activity holidays have grown in popularity in the last decade. And the main activities people want are hiking, walking, and cycling. It is challenging to find a better location globally than Scotland for activity holidays. One of Scotland’s most significant benefits is the legality to go wild camping. Unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, Scotland allows you to pitch up a tent wherever you want as long as you respect the environment. You can go cycling, mountain climbing, and hiking through endless valleys in Scotland. Spots like Torridon offer infinite adventure. I visited Queenstown, New Zealand in January 2020, and the sheer array of adventurous opportunities blew me away. You could hike huge mountains, bungee jump off tall bridges, and go mountain biking. New Zealand is an eclectic mixture of adventure and a nation everyone should visit once. Moreover, countries like Norway, Switzerland, and Greece are excellent European activity holiday locations. But Scotland remains an incredible world-leading spot for activity holidays for all the above reasons. Where should beginners go? If it is the first time that you’ve decided to go stargazing? You might enjoy heading somewhere that offers a guided tour and night viewing packages. I’m not someone who always enjoys a guided tour. Quite frankly, I love the freedom of doing my thing without waiting for others. But when it comes to looking at the stars, what do I know? I’m not an astrologer, and I could not tell the difference between Jupiter or Planet Zog, which is a made-up planet, by the way. So if I’m going to benefit from a night of stargazing – like most people – I’m better off having a guide to explain what I’m seeing. At least until I learn more about astrology, and coming to think of it, writing this article has inspired me to do so! Let’s look at some excellent beginner night viewing packages.
Liathach Mountain by Loch Torridon
Liathach Mountain by Loch Torridon
The Torridon Hotel The Torridon Hotel is one of the world’s best hotels for stargazing. Situated in an area classed as Bortle 1 or 2, it is one of the world’s darkest places for seeing the stars. You will enjoy a three-course seasonal menu with astronomer Stephen Mackintosh. You’ll then receive a presentation on the stars, skies, and what you’ll encounter on the excursion. The tour will provide you with full equipment, and it is available from September to March. Scottish Dark Sky Observatory Suppose you’re like me and need to brush up on your astronomy knowledge, visit the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory. The observatory offers pre-booked visits, and if you’re a club, school, or society, you can book an event here. There are two massive telescopes, including a 20’ Planewave CDK telescope in a 5-metre dome. Many pre-booked events have guest speakers from world-leading astronomers that will guide you throughout your experience.
Dark Sky Tourism Scotland
Under the night sky in Galloway
Galloway Forest Park Galloway Forest Park is the largest park in Scotland. There are only 4 ‘Dark Sky Parks’ in Europe, and Galloway Forest Park is one of them. On a clear night, visitors can see up to 7000 stars – perfect for anyone looking to appreciate the mind-blowing vastness of the universe. There are four dark sky rangers offering tailor-made experiences and packages to visitors to guide you through an incredible stargazing experience. Conclusion Scotland is one of the worlds most desirable countries for stargazing. I believe the best way to see the stars is by wild-camping in a remote spot. I advise you to pitch up your tent, camp out for the night, and be careful with the environment. It remains frustratingly challenging to find wild-camping spots in Europe. But Scotland allows you to do it. And why wouldn’t you take advantage of seeing the incredible night skies?

The Statue of Liberty is the most iconic statue in the world. But whose real life face provided inspiration for Lady Liberty?

The Statue of Liberty is possibly the most famous landmark in the entire world and is a huge tourist attraction for people all around the world. The figure of a woman wearing a crown and holding a flaming torch is symbolic of America. However, not many people know the history of woman who posed for this world famous statue and how she has influenced many around the globe. There may not be one definitive answer but there are certainly some interesting theories. By Phil Taylor The statue of Liberty is situated in New York on Liberty Island and it dominates the island. The 305 foot (from ground level) statue was first erected on the island in 1886 after being designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built in France before arriving in New York. Bartholdi was the brainchild of this iconic monument as it was proposed that the French people gifted the American people to commemorate 100 years of their independence from the British. History of the Statue of Liberty The idea of a statue was first mooted by Edouard Rene de Laboulaye, president of the French Anti-Slavery Society who in conversation with Bartholdi in 1865 stated, “If a monument should rise in the United States, as a memorial to their independence, I should think it only natural if it were built by united effort—a common work of both our nations”. It took a lot longer for the idea to be commissioned with France at war but in 1871 Bartholdi crossed the Atlantic. He focused on Bedloe’s Island as the perfect location because sail boats would be using the harbour and see the statue as they arrived into New York. Statue of Liberty FaceThere is a debate as to what was the real intention of the Statue of Liberty especially as Bartholdi held such strong abolitionist views and wanted all slaves to be free. It was even his intention to have chains in her hands instead of the tablet we see today. Inspiration for the Statue A study concluded that, “The Statue of Liberty would never have been conceived or built if its principal French and American advocates had not been active abolitionists who understood slavery as the cause of the Civil War and its end as the realization of the promise of liberty for all as codified in the Declaration of Independence. But the Statue of Liberty was not intended entirely as a monument to the end of slavery. Still, the presence of shackles at the foot of the monument combined with the implication of a black model does make for an interesting debate.” Liberty Enlightening the World, as it is originally known, was seen mainly as the sign of liberty which was a controversial subject with many people during the 19th century seeing liberty as an act of violence or rebellion. Bartholdi, wanted to change that conception. Bartholdi wanted a woman to represent liberty and freedom but drew inspiration from many different concepts. One concept he chose was to draw inspiration from the ancient classical statues such as Helios in Rhodes. This led to him using the Roman Goddess Libertas and Sol Invictus as his muse. However, many wonder who was the actual model for the statue and there are quite a few ideas. Many speculate it is in fact Bartholdi’s mother as Lady Liberty shares her stern stare and features with Bartholdi’s mother. Bartholdi never disputed people’s assumptions so it is believed that he used his mother to be the face of the famous statue. What a son! Mistress of Sculptor? It is also speculated that his mistress was the model. They would later be married in 1876 which is credible because the statue was finished in 1886 but it was a decade after he had already started designing it.  Apparently she would always joke that the statue has the same body as her but as we know there are no distinguishable features about the body! Statue of Liberty FaceAs well as being influenced by the classics such as the Greek Goddess Hera or Helios, Bartholdi is believed to have taken inspiration  from a painting by Jules Joseph Lefebvre called La V or The Truth which now hangs in the Muse d’Orsay. The painting depicts a woman holding a flame above her head and stood in a similar position to the statue of Liberty. Freed Slave? Finally, there are reports that Bartholdi used an African woman or even an African- American woman to pose for the modelling. With the Frenchman being a staunch supporter of freedom and to celebrate the Union victory over the Confederacy then this was the perfect response. Having worked in Egypt as well, there is a strong possibility that he used an African woman. But some do not believe this to be true as the facial features do not bear any resemblance to that of an African woman and there is no written evidence that this was Bartholdi’s thoughts to have an African woman to symbolise the break from slavery; despite being very much against slavery and initially wanting Lady Liberty to have chains. What we do know is that Bartholdi wanted a goddess. As Edward Berenson, author of Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story states, “Bartholdi produced a series of drawings in which the proposed statue began as a gigantic female fellah, or Arab peasant and gradually evolved into a colossal goddess…” All we know for saw is that there was a woman in Bartholdi’s mind and whoever that woman was she has changed America forever.

Genealogy is now the second most popular hobby in America. But it can be an expensive one! What free websites are available to research your family history?

Genealogy. The study of our family history, our heritage, and who we are – at least for those on the former side of the nature/nurture argument. In the US, it has become the second most popular hobby, as well as being an international craze. Are there any free and easy ways to find out your familys history? By Andrew Cook Hailing from two Greek words, the first meaning race or family, and the second meaning theory or science, the study of genealogy is both ancient, and modern. The history of family history for most people, is a rather short tale. For the vast majority of people, the Genealogy craze didn’t take off until the 1970s. When author Alex Haley published his resoundingly successful book ‘Roots’ in 1976, he desired to inspire a new age of black Americans to discover their genealogies which had been obscured or lost due to the dark history of slavery. What he did, however, was inspire a decades-long craze which still continues to this day. Even in the US, genealogy is the second most popular hobby after gardening, and also the second most searched topic after pornography! However the history of genealogy for important individuals hails back to beyond biblical times. Genealogy onlineAncient Genealogy If you’ve ever read a bible, you’ll probably remember that section you skipped over. You know which one – the ‘begat’ section. Certainly I cannot recall most of the bible, but I remember being a child, skipping over page after page of ‘Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.. While not the most interesting Sunday reading for a child, it does continue to show that lineage has been of constant interest to us for thousands of years. Centuries later, kingdoms were won, and civil wars started based on nothing more than bloodlines. The impression that ‘royal blood’ and the various degrees of separation involved, made one suitable of becoming a monarch. In European courts, bloodlines and ‘the making of the pedigreewere essential in most marriages. It was expected to ensure that the lineage was kept pure and true. Obsessed we may have been, but with an awfully small gene pool to draw upon it may have had questionable effects at times. As a side effect it may even have promoted the Illuminati conspiracy. The fact that so many heads of state are related to one another means that one single family is controlling us all? Nope. Just that not many generations ago, royals were still marrying their cousins! Just look at World War 2 – Kaiser Wilhelm II, Tsar Nicholas II, and King George V were all cousins, and grandsons of Queen Victoria! Perhaps, had she still been alive, she could have kept her descendants in check and prevented World War 1! Modern Genealogy We’ve come a great deal further now. No longer is genealogy reserved for the aristocracy, we can now research our own lineages due to modern miracles such as DNA testing, and the internet! While DNA testing might seem the be-all and end-all to genealogy, (due to its ability to uncover sordid family secrets), the internet is probably the most useful tool in any beginner genealogist’s toolkit. You might be eager to find out if you’re descended from Celts, Romans, or Vikings, but the first recommended steps you should take involve researching your immediate family, and thanks to online databases – it’s never been easier! Now, records of birth, death, and marriage are more easily available than ever. In decades past, tracking down these items would require a great deal of travel for physical copies, but a few google searches – and you’re half-way complete! The age of easy-to-access information is available for all of us, and it’s definitely the starting point for anyone to discover their recent family history! Genealogy free websitesBeginners steps? The main reason any beginner should start with family tree records is simple. DNA is complicated, and the tools used are just as complex. Different projects use different identifying markers within your DNA. The world of DNA testing is like the world of programming – different languages are available for different uses, and they ALL require some research before using. World Gen Web is one of the most highly recommended starting points. As a non-profit, they are completely free, and their databases are incredibly comprehensive. Transcriptions from volunteers mean that they are posting records dating back to the 1500s! They also filter by country, so that you’re not getting bogged down with unrelated names from five countries away. DNA Testing For those dead-set on DNA testing, ancestry.com is arguably the most well-known. However, there are actually many other viable alternatives for testing, both with benefits and drawbacks – and they do come with a price tag.   You may be looking at ancestry.com, 23andme.com, or familytreedna.com, but they all share the same thing in common. They tend to cross reference within their own databases. So if you’re committed to tracking down your genetic heritage, you’re likely to need a cross referencing service such as gedmatch.com. Programs like this have the ability to match your autosomal DNA with other individuals’ DNA across a plethora of genealogy testing websites. Ultimately giving you a little more bang for your buck. Is DNA everything? Good luck on your quest in genealogy! Maybe you’ll confirm your suspicions, maybe you’ll find a surprise or two. After all, like 6 degrees of separation, we’re all related to a celebrity or two in our past. Mathematically speaking, going back 20 generations would give us all 1,048,576 great-great-great… grandparents! Ultimately we have to remember that, however important and fascinating genealogy is to us, it’s no more important than our present day company. Am I related to Robert the Bruce? Possibly! But it’s not a factor in our daily lives, merely an interesting piece of history. Genealogy doesn’t make us who we are. The people we love and the choices we make are what defines us.  

One little tag. One big problem. The Environmental Impact of Instagram Geotagging

Is Geotagging on Instagram causing long-lasting environmental to natural beauty spots? Many would say ‘yes’, and some tourist boards are even going as far as to running campaigns on social media to discourage tagging. By Sam Roberts Instagram has had a significant impact on the travel industry since 2014. I have been lucky to have travelled worldwide. And I have seen the effects of geotagging on natural beauty. It has led to trail erosion, wildlife, and increased litter. And in countries like Thailand – it has destroyed parts of the country. Islands like Koh Phi Phi are the prime example of places damaged by over-tourism and under-regulation. Geotagging has led to an escalation in tourists looking to visit a spot, to get an idyllic Instagram picture. Some of us have heard those colloquial phrases “do it for the gram,” in reference to people visiting geotagging hotspots – often taking hazardous pictures – to get likeable Instagram posts. So what is the impact on Scotland’s natural beauty? What is Geotagging? Not everyone has heard of the phrase geotagging; it remains a relatively new phrase, among the younger generations. Geotagging is where social media users share their location on sites like Instagram via GPS systems. GPS isn’t a new-found technology. The military has used it for decades, and you’ve likely used a sat-nav device since the 2000s. As technology has improved, GPS has become available in smartphones, fitness watches, and drones. Today, most of us use devices capable of geotagging. Geotagging trashIs geotagging ruining natural wonders? Many argue, yes. The New York Times suggested a popular Instagram spot, the Delta Lake, has increased from two hikers per day to 145 hikers per day since 2015. Local tourism board member Mr Moderna, claimed: “The landscape was under threat from visitors drawn by the beautiful vistas on Instagram.” But that’s not the first time that locals have criticised photo-tourism. Hong Kong has become a popular geotagging spot. Especially in public housing developments, where influencers clammer to get the perfect photograph. Another prime example is Horseshoe Bend, Colorado. In 2010 only a few thousand people visited. But the location became a geotagging spot in 2014, and over one million tourists came by 2018. In response, facilities started to crumble, dirt tracks became destroyed, and staff erected railings after a visitor fell to their death. Sherwin Banda, president of Africa Travel Inc, suggested tourists using geotagging while on safari are giving opportunities to poachers. Leaving a GPS trace of the location where you saw animals makes hunters jobs ten-times easier – endangering precious wildlife in the process. Does everyone agree that geotagging is an issue? Not everyone. An article written by Vice Media claimed that we should stop blaming geotagging for ruining the great outdoors. Instead, we should focus on increasing funding for public land. And if local authorities adequately fund public land – increasing tourism numbers from geotagging wouldn’t be a concern. Many argue that there is a fine line between encouraging visitors and boosting the local economy and prioritising conservation. But due to the lack of funding and understaffing; that has become increasingly difficult to balance. According to Sheila Faalasli, the social media manager at the National Parks Conservation Association “many park services are in despair due to budget constraints, and it would cost $12 billion to fix them all.” Christian Le Mont, the social media coordinator at Latino Outdoors, suggests that Instagram is a powerful tool for increasing conservation awareness, stating “a photo on social media can spark that passion.” What action have local authorities taken so far? Isle of Skye, Scotland Police in the Isle Of Skye noticed a significant uptake in visitors in previous years, and have warned visitors not to come unless they have accommodation on the island. Mumbai, India After a bystander died trying to save three girls that fell into a river while posing for a selfie, Mumbai banned selfies at 16 popular tourist hotspots. Faroe Islands Every year the Faroe Islands close for one week so local staff can repair the damage done to tourist spots, popular trails, and natural environment. Boracay, The Philippines The Philippines banned all tourists from Boracay, its most popular island for one year in 2018 due to its significant damage from over-tourism and geotagging. Koh Phi Phi, Thailand The Thai government closed Maya Beach – the most popular beach in Thailand – for numerous months in 2019. Mass tourism was destroying the beach, forcing the government to take action.
Maya Beach envirnomental damage
Thai authorities closed Maya Beach due to overcrowding and resultant environmental damage
What are Scotland’s most popular geotagging hotspots? Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye The Fairy Pools are popular with wild swimmers and Instagram influencers. The stunning pools attract millions of visitors per year because of the crystal clear waters and spectacular photo opportunities. The Isle of Harris, Scotland The Isle of Harris is nothing short of spectacular. It is a mixture of stunning blue waters, white sands, and secluded hiking hotspots. You might mistake the island for somewhere in the tropics with its pristine beaches. Loch Lomond, Trossachs National Park Loch Lomond is as beautiful a spot as you’ll find in Europe. Home to small boats, canoes, and kayaks gliding across the still blue waters, it remains a hugely popular geotagging hotspot. Fingal’s Cave, Staffa Island Fingals Cave is one of the world’s most unique caves. The question around the formation of the cave remains a mystery, but it is a popular geotagging hotspot due to its majestic nature. Ben Nevis, Scotland Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the United Kingdom. Due to the increase in geotagging; tourists clammer to the top to get a shot of the stunning views. Beach pollution plasticWhat is the future for geotagging? The Oxford Dictionary shortlisted overtourism for “Word of the Year 2018,” but let’s be honest, it has been a growing issue for decades, not just a few years. One of the most significant issues before 2020 was the lack of regulation on geotagging spots. It became evident that local authorities were more concerned about immediate mass tourism profits instead of implementing restrictions on visitors clambering to Instagram hotspots. These don’t need to be heavy restrictions. If authorities closed popular trails, beaches, and landmarks for days or weeks at a time to repair, they could maintain sustainability and profitability. Banning geotagging will prove challenging, but managing tourism numbers is a straightforward approach. The travel industry will never be the same after the covid19. But it has given national parks and governments the crucial opportunity to reevaluate mass tourism. Scotland and the rest of the world have the chance to balance the incredible economic benefits of mass tourism, with sensibly managed tourism numbers promoting sustainability of the environment. I believe it is perhaps a blessing in disguise, or maybe a wasted opportunity. Time will tell.

Which planet is known as the red planet? Discover the wonder of Mars

Which planet is known as the red planet? Mars is the next step for mankind in the solar system and has been a source of fear and fascination for mankind. But science is now beginning to unravel the red planet’s mysteries. By Phil Taylor Mars is the next step for mankind in the solar system. There has been such a fascination surrounding the planet for thousands of years and it is understandable. The planet is a stark contrast to our own, despite many similarities, and conjures up images that we would not even think of being on our planet. But why are humans obsessed with Mars and why is Mars so distinctive? It all began 4.5 billion years ago when the solar system was formed and Mars began its life as a planet next to Earth. However, the planet has a weaker gravity and is smaller in size, compared to Earth (where the iron sank to the core) allowed it to be different to its neighbour. Mars Explorer red planetRed planet Mars is often called the red planet due to the colour of the planet and how it looks through a telescope, to the naked eye and, thanks to the Mars Rover, video images of the planet. It is unusual that the colour of the planet is red but there is a good reason for it. Just like Earth, Mars is rich in iron and the surface of the planet is incredibly dusty. According to NASA, the iron minerals oxidise, or rust, causing the soil to look red. So, that suggests that the water on the planet has caused the fourth planet from the sun to have the red colour but similar to Earth it could have life on its planet. The bloody colour of the planet can be seen from millions of miles away and was even seen by the Romans who named the planet due to its red colour. So, not to quote Monty Python too much, what did the Romans ever do for us? Romans influence on Mars Roman mythology has influenced our lives massively and in everyday life they are ever present. They even influenced the days of the week for us with the days named after Roman deities which follow those names of the planets including dies Iovis, “the day of Jupiter”, dies Veneris, “the day of Venus” and dies Saturni, “the day of Saturn”. Dies Martis, “the day of Mars” is the one we are concerned with. Mars, which is now modern day Tuesday, influenced the Anglo Saxons who used Gods themselves for their days of the week. Tuesday is named for the god Tiw, about whom relatively little is known. Tiw was probably associated with warfare, just like the Roman God Mars. So who was Mars and why was Mars such an influence? Mars was a Roman God who represented war and second only to Jupiter in the Roman pantheon. He was a very important God, especially with the attitude of the Roman Empire. Despite a lot of the myths being taken from Greek Mythology and their God of war Ares, Mars was more level headed and was the protector for the capital Rome. Mars Landscape redMars’ importance in mythology is incredibly important as it is believed he is the father of Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome. The month of March is named after him as are festivals and ceremonies highlighting the importance of the God on Roman culture. So how did he also have a planet named after him? Well it is believed that with his ties to Ares and even before that Babylonians Nergal, a god of war and fire. The Greeks likely adapted this Babylonian nomenclature, calling the planet Pyroeis; think about pyro in our language today. The connection of war and fire was adapted by the Romans to name the planet Mars. The fire related to Mars is a direct correlation to that of the fiery colour of the planet and the red colour represents blood shed of the enemy of people who tried to defy the Roman Empire.  Could we live on the Red Planet? Now this is a big question and one we do not know the answer for at the moment. It adds to human fascination surrounding the red planet and how we want to know more about it. However, although we do not know if it is a habitable planet at the moment people are working towards building a colony on the planet. Elon Musk in particular has always stated how important the planet is to him and in a recent tweet he stated his intentions about building a colony once again: “About half my money is intended to help problems on Earth and half to help establish a self-sustaining city on Mars to ensure continuation of life (of all species) in case Earth gets hit by a meteor like the dinosaurs or WW3 happens and we destroy ourselves,” the tweet said. So with Musk’s intention to build on Mars, would you want to be one of the first to live there? Afterall, Mars Real estate might be a reality very soon!

11 Years with No Weekends – Suicides, divorce and mass depression – Lessons for modern corporates from the failed Soviet Calendar experiment

For 11 long years, weekends did not exist in the Soviet Union. Like today’s dystopian novels, manufacturing ran, machines processed, and labour continued non-stop in order to create an industrial powerhouse. But what was the secret design behind this idea?  By Andrew Cook 29th September 1929. For many of the Soviet Union’s working class, it would be the last day they would spend together as a family for the next 11 years. From that moment on, the Soviet Work Week would be transformed into continuous five or six-day working weeks. The Soviet Union The Stalinist Era. Josef Stalin and his political allies ruled the country with an iron grip. After succeeding Lenin, and ousting Trotsky from the country, Stalin set about with the fervour of a visionary consumed by his goals. His goal – to industrialise the Soviet Union, and revolutionise a heavily peasant-based society, into an economic powerhouse. His brutal and myriad five-year plans would go on to change the course of history. Yet one of his less successful attempts included a revolutionised work week. For the working class, life was hard, yet simple. They would work their fingers to the bone for six days, and spend the seventh with their family. This day of rest, would be spent organising the home, spending time with family, gathering with friends, going to church and coming together in groups. Yet while this day of rest occurred, machines stopped running. Across the length and breadth of the country, industry was paused. An entire 24 hours of powered down production lines, of quiet, echoing workshops, and industrial districts devoid of chatter. For a man who envisioned an industrial future for the country, Stalin thought it a waste – Why shut down production?! Why reduce results?! He then found a solution. Yuri Larin Yuri Larin, a Soviet economist, proposed the ‘nepreryvka’ – The revolutionary continuous-working week. While initially shot down and ignored in May 1929, word gradually reached Josef Stalin. Then a month later, Stalin voiced his vast approval for the subject. Of course, once Stalin approved of something, so did every newspaper in the country. Or at least every one that wanted to stay up and running. Directing efficiency experts to begin planning, the continuous work week was up and running from the 30th of September 1929. Nepreryvka Soviet Calendar The Work Week Gone was the seven-day working week, in its place – the nepreryvka. A calendar of working weeks, with only five days in every week, represented on a calendar by a wheatsheaf, a red star, a hammer and sickle, a book, and a woollen working-cap. Days off were included, just not the way we know them. The point of this week was not to increase time off for people, but rather, to spread time off among the working class, so that production was never-ending. To create a country that would bring forth the fruits of labour without any significant pause in production. So, every five days, a worker’s day off was randomly assigned. In theory, this intriguing plan should have allowed the working class to retain days off, yet keep production continuously moving. A way to make everybody win. But, like dating ads in the newspaper, everything looks better on paper. The Problems What’s the point of a free day, if you can’t spend it with loved ones? This was the tragedy that many suddenly faced. They would have the first day off, their wife – the second day. Perhaps a brother would have the third day off, and a best friend the fourth. Days off were no longer about family and friends, but spent by themselves, unless fortune favoured you and you were selected to have free days together. It is a valid point that perhaps this was Stalin’s goal. After all, the Russian Revolution which  culminated in October 1917 swept the Bolsheviks into power on the shoulders of the masses. Powerful working class belief and social ties were part of the inspiration needed to overthrow the old Tsar. A dictator like Stalin feared another movement may be able to do the same to him. To reduce ties and contact among the working class, this would prevent gatherings, organising, and revolution. Religion While the main cause for the nepreryvka was economic, Stalin possessed yet another motive behind it. As an avid reader of Karl Marx, and an Atheist, he viewed religion with disdain. How better to resist it than to throw away organised weekly patterns for the working class? Reinventing the work week, and spreading out free days would prevent people of all religions from gathering in their churches, mosques, and temples. Nepreryvka turned out to be both an economic plan, a way to maintain power, and a war on religion. Soviet Work weekThe Outrage The outrage began as a sea of dissent among the population. The official newspaper of the Communist Party, Pravda, began publishing letters sent in. ‘What is there for us to do at home if our wives are in the factory, our children at school and nobody can visit us? It is no holiday if you have to have it alone.’  This angry letter was a personal tale of one man, but the story of an entire class. Ivan Ivanovich Shitz was a historian, and railed against the nepreryvka in his writings. He was angry against the continuous working week, and stated how it would prevent families and friends gathering, whether in social environments, or political gatherings. He also stated that it had killed off Sundays, and would eventually lead to the abolition of all Christian holidays. These views were not from the benefit of hindsight, but from the mouths of those who suffered it. Eventual Defeat  It was inevitable. The difficulties, the outrage, and the resentment began to force a five-day working week into a six-day working week. Different industries soon had unequal working weeks. The government bowed to more pressure and allowed coordinated days off for familial groups. What began as a concrete, authoritarian system, gradually slid into anarchy year after year. Concessions were made among different areas, different groups, and different industries, until eventually the nepreryvka met its demise. On June 26th 1940, a decree from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, the seven-day work week to be officially back in use. While workers once again had Sunday off, there would be other difficulties they would endure. Criminal offences and mandatory prison sentences would be enforced for the slightest infraction. The nepreryvka was gone,  but a Dictator still remained.

In the Footsteps of Frozen – Five ‘Frozen’ inspired holidays your family will love

The film has created such phenomena that people are wanting to experience Frozen in real life and are trying to get all the senses of Arendelle. Surprisingly, there are quite a few options available to make you feel like you are in the magical land of Frozen.  By Phil Taylor It could be argued that no Disney film has had a bigger influence in recent years than Frozen. Considering the first film was released in 2013, it is still as relevant today than it was when it first hit the screens. It is hard to avoid the franchise especially with the latest installment being released in 2019, giving the franchise a big boost in sales and popularity amongst audiences around the globe. The Frozen films have dominated the box offices with both of them topping the charts for the highest grossing animated films of all time and in 2019 Frozen II made $1.32 billion. That is not taking into consideration the amount of money the franchise makes from merchandise. With cuddly toys, t-shirts, hats, pencil cases or basically anything you can imagine featuring the images of Anna, Elsa or Olaf readily available it is understandable why Frozen has dominated pop culture for so long. The main song from the first film “Let it go” grabbed the attention of the masses and was in everybody’s heads. No matter what radio station, TV channel or even social media outlet you went on, you would see reference to Frozen’s “Let it go”. It was even heard in clubs! The song managed to place in the charts across the world. It managed number 11 in the UK, number 5 in the USA and number 1 in South Korea. It has been a real sensation. So it is more than understandable that people are infatuated with Frozen but where can they go to experience what they have seen on the silver screen? Norway frozen fansNorway- The Land of Frozen 1 Nærøyfjord Frozen has massive influences from Norway so a lot of fans head towards the Land of the Midnight Sun. The landscape of the country is incredibly beautiful and very similar to that of Arrendale, especially the amount of fjords that you can see with the flowing waterways. Nærøyfjord in particular is a standout fjord and is often used in tourist brochures to attract people to the country. The Nærøyfjord is situated in Aurland, around two hours and thirty minutes away from Bergen so is quite accessible. 2 Øvre Pasvik National Park Alongside the magnificent fjords and flowing mountains, Norway has an abundance of wooded areas that resemble Frozen. Many people travel to Norway to see the Øvre Pasvik National Park and imagine that they are in Arendelle. The Nordic influence in Frozen is evident from the clothing, the housing and the decorations in the film. These styles can all be seen in Norway and in particular they can be seen at the Norsk Folkmuseum where you will see traditional Nordic items that will make you think of characters such as Anna and Kristoff. 3 Sør-Trøndelag Who can forget the love of reindeers in both Frozen and Norway! Sven, the reindeer is Frozen, is one of the most beloved characters and he grabbed the hearts of the audience. The popular song from the film “Reindeer are better than people” could be the national anthem for Norway due to the amount of reindeer in the country. There are around 70-80,000 reindeer in the country and you can even see wild reindeer close to Sør-Trøndelag and southward. Frozen Epcot Florida4 Florida – Can Disney satisfy my Frozen fix? Yes they can and in many different areas. Starting in Florida you can get the Frozen fix that you need in Epcot. The Norway pavilion, obviously, has dedicated merchandise for Frozen and is a great haunt for people wanting to get all the important Frozen pins. Also in the Norway pavilion is the Frozen ride (Frozen ever after) which replaced the popular Maelstrom ride in 2016. It uses the same vehicle set up and follows the same track as Maelstrom but it has a completely different overlay. You follow the story of the anniversary of Queen Elsa saving her sister Anna, she has declared a summer snow day in Arendelle. The ride features lots of songs from the first film including “Do you want to build a snowman?” and “Let it go”. The main feature of the ride is the incredibly impressive animatronic that is above you grabbing your attention immediately when oyu pass through it. It has rightly been credited as one of the best animatronics at Walt Disney World and makes you want to ride the boat all day long. 5 Frozen future – Eurodisney For the uber Frozen fan you might have to wait a little but you might want to save for a trip to Paris, Hong Kong or Japan as the Walt Disney company are currently adding a Frozen land to their theme parks. The areas are going to be a game changer for the company and are set to rival the already astounding lands of Batuu and Pandora at Walt Disney World. In a press statement about the Paris development the company stated, “As part of the fully immersive land, guests will see in the distance the snow-capped mountain of Arendelle opposite a magnificent lake, with an attraction that will take them to the center of the Kingdom”. It is exciting news for Frozen fans across the world and the wait should only have to be until 2023. However, in the meantime there is always a trip to Norway available.

Shebeens – Scotland’s secret drinking dens

Shebeens are a phenomena that have lasted centuries. These illegal, secretive places were kept under wraps. Knowledge passed on by word of mouth, friend to friend. Yet where did these Shebeens come from? And are they still around today? By Andrew Cook It’s typical of humanity. We created alcohol, we set restrictions around drinking alcohol, then we kept drinking anyway, regardless of the laws put in place. Yet who better to personify humanity’s obsession with alcohol than the Scots? We’ve worked hard to give an international reputation as a nation of heavy drinkers. After all, we perfected whisky – why shouldn’t we perfect drinking it!? Which is probably part of the reason Shebeens were so common in Scotland! Shebeen Shebeen comes from the Irish Gaelic word síbín which means illicit whisky, which probably didn’t help our obsession with them. After all, everything tastes better when it’s forbidden to us! This word has been used as far back as the 1700s, across both Ireland, Scotland, and even South Africa! In simplest terms, a Shebeen is comparable to an American ‘speakeasy. They are privately set-up, illegal places for drinking. The attraction was immediate for numerous reasons. Home-brew alcohol was one reason for many. Home-brew alcohol is not only cheap in production, but with no need to add on tax – it’s even cheaper! Whereas pubs and ale houses had staff, tax, and purchases to cover, many drank at Shebeens because every copper went a little further to getting that warm glow in the stomach. Shebeen stillThe History of Shebeens on Scotland The Old Town in Glasgow had a rather notorious reputation for Shebeens. The North British Daily Mail published a report labelledThe Dark Side of Glasgowclaiming that in the Old Town alone, there were over 200 brothels and 150 shebeens. Although it’s best to take anything from that publication with a pinch of salt. Accurate numbers were of course impossible. After all, these establishments were designed to be a secret, or at the very least the knowledge was kept within small drinking circles. But drinking at these shebeens didn’t necessarily mean good whisky and company. World War Two brought dark times to Scotland. Not just for the sacrifices made by Scotland’s sons during the war effort, but also for the lack of whisky throughout the land! This era brought a low point to all drinking premises in Scotland, but most of all to the shebeens which prided themselves on cheap alcohol – leading to years of drinking Australian wine! No, probably not a bold Shiraz, or vibrant Cabernet Sauvignon, but the worst of the worst. As was the custom, they mixed with various methylated spirits known as Red Biddyor Jake. It’s a miracle we didn’t have a generation gone blind from drinking in these shebeens.
Glen Nochty
Glen Nochty
Locations An impossible task to narrow down. Due to their highly discretionary nature, many shebeens will be unreported to this date. There are, however, a fair few that live in infamy. Eppie ‘lucky’ Thane was one such canny shebeen operator. Living around Glen Nochty in Aberdeenshire, she not only defied eviction by trickery and fast talking, but also set-up a thriving shebeen for the locals. Producing bread and cheese was not going to cut it as a business plan. So she began to sell own illicit whisky from Glen Nochty’s many illicit stills to go with the bread and cheese on offer. Which sounds like heaven after a hard day’s work. While serving the bread and cheese she would ask a half gill, or a gill?. Or in other words – a dram, or a big dram?. On the occasion that she was caught by those authorities investigating, she merely claimed that the whisky was a gift of hospitality! Customers only paid for the bread and cheese! In Glasgow, shebeens were reported to avoid being caught in other ways. Alcohol bottles were deliberately mis-labelled as containing vinegar, or lime juice. Probably best not to put on your fish supper though! Shebeens were a national phenomenon, yet one more notorious than others was situated on Orkney. Now known for its tranquility and scenery, back in the 1940’s it was the home of The Golden Slipper. A house of ill-repute on the outskirts of Stenness, it catered for youths and the numerous servicemen across the isles. The Golden Slipper was quite literally the front room of the house of Willie Farquhar, also known as ‘The Al Capone of OrkneyBy all accounts, it was dark and filthy, with an old bus-seat in place of a sofa. But, like any place where people gather on the islands, it was absolutely alive with music Dark and filthy maybe, but it filled its patrons’ desires, and stayed open for twenty years. Serving illicit whisky in teacups, it was only shut down in the 1960s. Orkney’s illegal party days were over.
Shebeen Namibia
Shebeens have even travelled as far as AFrica – Shebeen Bar Drinking Establishment on B10 Road near Kapako, Namibia
Shebeens Today It is the catch, that truly successful shebeens will rarely be well-known. After all, fame isn’t necessarily a good idea for an illicit business. However there are certainly shebeens that have been discovered to this day. During this era of Covid, shebeens have popped up in Counties Kerry and Monaghan in Ireland. While pubs have been shut down, opening times restricted, and distance laws applied, some have rebelled at these rules. In protest at these laws, shebeens have popped up and promptly been raided by the Guardaí. Some of these were equipped with hundreds of pints of beers in kegs, and dozens of bottles of spirits ready to serve – one even had a pool table available for patrons! For those who prefer a legal imitation of shebeens, one company is making their money by providing replica shebeens for events. By using custom-made, pop-up shebeens, they allow weddings and parties to create the atmosphere of a shebeen while they drink and celebrate whatever they choose. They also don’t have to fear the police knocking down their doors! Perhaps shebeens are still around today. Maybe you even frequent one. But for the vast majority of us, they are a thing of the past. A small fragment of our underground history. The legacy of generations of rebellious alcoholism. They definitely sounded like a lot of fun though.  

Is it normal to eat out at restaurants alone? Absolutely! Here are our tips for solo diners

Going to a restaurant is a pleasant experience and one that many people enjoy as a group but why do so many people struggle with going to a restaurant on their own? By Phil Taylor Restaurants can be off-putting places for solo travellers and diners. Surrounded by couples and families, many dread the question, ‘table for one?’. With two for one meals and discounts for larger parties, it can be off putting for a solo diner to visit a restaurant for a pleasurable meal because the restaurant business does not exclusively offer deals that brings a solo customer in. However, the main issue could be the social aspect of eating on your own is unsociable. When visiting a restaurant you are surrounded by plenty of other parties who have a table filled with people and enjoying their time together. When you are eating on your own you can sometimes feel like the rest of the room has their eyes on you. This can lead to eating anxiety. Eating on your own can make you feel like everyone is not enjoying their own evening but in fact they are staring at your every movement and every mouthful. The anxiety can make you feel so insecure that you do not want to venture into a restaurant but in fact reach for the top drawer and grab the nearest takeaway menu. However, things do not have to be this way. It is normal to feel that anxiety of eating on your own but you can avoid these feelings from coming to the surface. It is all about trial and error. Sometimes it can work and sometimes it might not, but if it does not work then why did it not work for you? For example the restaurant might have been too busy, the lighting was not right or you felt too exposed in your seat. These can all change to make your experience better. The unwritten rule of ‘do not eat on your own’ needs to be done away with, and people need to embrace some alone time in this hectic world. However, before jumping into a three course meal at a busy restaurant, it might be best to try out grabbing a coffee or a tea at your local independent café. This way you can start from the ground up. Next time it might be a cupcake with the drink and the time after might be a sandwich. The time after that, it could be a full evening meal. It is also important to dress appropriately because this can make you feel a lot different if you are dressed uncomfortably. If you are on your own in a restaurant and you are wearing something you are not too confident about, there is no way you will feel comfortable to sit through a meal without high level of anxiety. Dress accordingly but appropriate (Joggers to the Ritz might be a bit too much) and you will feel a lot easier with the situation you are in. Planning ahead, like your outfit, is important if you have high levels of anxiety about eating alone. Researching the restaurant in advance is a good idea because you can get a good feel for the layout, the menu, what is on offer rather than just turning up to a restaurant and hoping for the best. Making a reservation is a good way of dealing with solo eating but beware of the dreaded response “Just for one?”. It may be condescending and put you off but in fact you have just broken down the first hurdle of eating alone in a restaurant. Solo travellers restaurants Many restaurant owners are trying to change the way they do things. They want to encourage more solo eaters and not just for profit reasons. They want everyone to feel included and experience the same time you would have even if you came with a party. Ottawa restaurateur Stephen Beckta says fine dining establishments should see a solo diner as “the greatest compliment a restaurant can receive”. “If you’re a solo diner, my suggestion is to ask for the things that are going to make you happy,” says Mr Beckta. “A table out of the way? A seat at the bar? In conversation or left alone? A good restaurant wants to make you happy.” One thing to try and avoid is being sat on your phone the entire meal and give yourself a break from the screen. You need to embrace the fact you are out, enjoying yourself and being at one with the atmosphere of the restaurant. Try to avoid being divulged in your phone and being consumed by Facebook and Instagram. However, think of an alternative like a book or writing in a journal about your experience. A key thing to remember is the fact that people are not there to look at you and concern themselves with your meal. So book in advance, make yourself feel comfortable and enjoy your time at the restaurant because you will regret not making the most of your time there. “A table for just for one?” Yes please. I am prepared.