10 Alternative ideas for a Christmas Tree

Not everyone has the space for a 7ft tall Scots pine or Douglas fir. Other people want to showcase their creativity in their Christmas tree design. Here are some ideas that might inspire you to come up with your own interpretation of the traditional Christmas tree.

#1 Book Tree

Christmas tree made of books Do you have lots of old books at home? If yes, why not transform them into a booktree? It is easy to assemble and when January comes, the ‘branches’ can be put back on the shelf again for next year.

#2 Beer Tree

Beer bottle Christmas TreeWine and beer bottles look great when lit up and are a great way of recycling all those left over bottles from the parties held in the run up to Christmas.

#3 Lego Tree

Giant LEGO Christmas TreeThe plastic fantastic is a Christmas memory for many, and many a childhood Christmas morning has been spent building a new set. As an adult, why not create new Christmas memories by building a giant Christmas tree out of Lego?

#4 Minimalist Tree

Minimalist Christmas TreeFor those of you who like the idea of a Christmas tree but either have no space or no energy to go out and buy one, this minimalist tree might be the perfect option!

#5 Human Tree

Human Christmas TreePerhaps a more temporary feature in your home over the festive period than a permanent fixture, perhaps you could replicate this huge ‘tree’ in Thailand on a smaller basis with members of your family for a novelty Christmas photo/ card idea?

#6 Storage Tree

Christmas Tree StorageWhere to put the artificial tree after January 6th? Turn the question on its head and make the Christmas tree itself into a storage solution idea!

#7 Mirror Tree

Mirror Christmas TreeThis lovely optical effect would be a centrepiece in any room.

#8 Decoration Tree

Christmas Tree made from decorationsA Christmas tree stripped back of the branches and trunk to leave just the decorations hanging can look visually stunning.

#9 Cake Tree

christmas tree cakeThis ‘tree’ is a lot of fun to build (bake!) and there will be no arguments about whose chore it is to take it down at the end of the Festive period!

#10 Ladder Tree

  Christmas Tree LadderPerfect for DIY enthusiasts! The ladder tree particularly works well if the frame is wooden and is perhaps the easiest tree on the list to assemble/ dismantle.
Photos : Reddit

Crazy Cape Coral Fishing Capers make national news

Fishing tales are usually taken with a pinch of salt, but thankfully this incredible Cape Coral story was caught on camera. And the crazy incident involving 2 fishermen overboard, a rod and a 450-pound Goliath grouper has now made national news! Day tripper Mike was fighting a land a fish of a lifetime Friday aboard Chew On This Charters with Captain Ben Chancey out of Cape Coral when the unbelievable tale happened. Mike lost the fishing rod overboard, but fellow angler Jenny managed to use the anchor to retrieve the rod and allow Mike to finish reeling up the still-hooked fish. Chancey explained to USA Today/For The Win Outdoors that about 20 minutes after the fishing rod was lost, Jenny said she could see it on the bottom in the crystal clear, 40-feet deep water and asked nearby boaters for goggles. One boater had some and passed them to her. “Jenny was planning to dive down 40 feet to get the rod,” Chancey said. “I decided to drop the anchor down so she could follow the line to the rod and reel. While I was explaining what was going on , Jenny hooked the rod with the anchor and started pulling the rod up. The giant Goliath grouper was still hooked on the line.” Jenny’s boyfriend Eric, who arranged the surprise trip for Mike’s 30th birthday, helped clear the anchor and line, and Mike finished reeling up the grouper. “We are calling it the unforgettable fishing miracle,” Chancey stated.

10 Inspirational deaf people from Britain

May 4th marks the start of Deaf Awareness week in the UK. The UK Council on Deafness, founded in 1993 and the national umbrella organisation for charities and professional bodies working in the field of deafness, co-ordinates deaf awareness week which involves UK wide series of national and local events to raise awareness. Deaf Awareness Week aims to promote the positive aspects of deafness, promote social inclusion and raise awareness of the huge range of local organisations that support deaf people and their family and friends.s of the needs of the 1 in 6 deaf or hard of hearing people in the UK.

To celebrate, we are showcasing 10 famous people who are deaf or have partial hearing, and how they have inspired others in their chosen fields.

#1 Ben Cohen

Ben Cohen MBE is a former England rugby union player and activist. Cohen was also a member of the England national team that won the 2003 World Cup and has played club rugby professionally in both England and France. In 2011, Cohen founded The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, Inc., which is, according to its website, “the world’s first foundation dedicated to raising awareness of the long-term, damaging effects of bullying, and funding those doing real-world work to stop it”. Specifically, it has worked with gay charities and has focused on homophobic bullying.

Speaking to the BDA, Cohen said, ”I’m clinically Deaf. I’ve had tinnitus – ringing in my ear – my whole life, but it doesn’t both me. It’s part of my life.

I miss things in conversations. In fact I missed the entire 2003 World Rugby Cup speeches! But I’ve never let my deafness restrict me. It ended up making me one of the top rated point scorers because I never heard players calling out! That meant I never passed the ball!’

#2 Umesh Valjee

Umesh Damdor Valjee, MBE is a South African-born English deaf cricketer. Valjee is former captain of the England national deaf cricket team, and was awarded with the England Disability Cricketer of the Year in 2011. He is a right-handed batsman and very occasional right-arm medium pacer. Valjee came into professional cricket after being signed to British Deaf Sports Council in 1989. He is the longest-serving deaf cricketer of England, and wear same number shirt (No. 1) as was worn by Tom Armitage—the first capped England player.

#3 Georgia Horsley

Horsley was born in Malton, North Yorkshire. At the age of 2, Horsley was taken into hospital and treated for meningitis; the doctors and Georgia’s family all believed she was fine and had recovered, but during a school health check the school nurse discovered that she was deaf in her right ear. Whilst Horsley had not previously revealed about her deaf ear during the Miss England trials, but, after not hearing her number as she was called to the finals, she decided it was to time to be open about it. Horsley is now actively supportive of people with deafness. In 2013, McFly member Danny Jones, Georgia’s long-term boyfriend, proposed during their holiday in Cyprus and they were married on Saturday 2 August 2014 in her home town of Malton, North Yorkshire. Their baby Cooper Alf Jones was born on January 27, 2018.

#4 Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend is an English musician and songwriter best known as the lead guitarist, second vocalist, and principal songwriter for the rock band The Who.

Townshend suffers from partial deafness and tinnitus, believed to be the result of noise-induced hearing loss from his extensive exposure to loud music. The Who were renowned as a very loud band in their live performances; some particular incidents include a Who concert at the Charlton Athletic Football Club, London, on 31 May 1976 that was listed as the “Loudest Concert Ever” by the Guinness Book of Records, where the volume level was measured at 126 decibels 32 metres from the stage. Townshend has also attributed the start of his hearing loss to Keith Moon’s famous exploding drum set during the Who’s 1967 appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.[

In 1989, Townshend gave the initial funding to allow the formation of the non-profit hearing advocacy group H.E.A.R. (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers). After the Who performed at half-time at Super Bowl XLIV, Townshend stated that he is concerned that his tinnitus has grown to such a point that he might be forced to discontinue performing with the band altogether. He told Rolling Stone, “If my hearing is going to be a problem, we’re not delaying shows. We’re finished. I can’t really see any way around the issue.”

In March 2011, Roger Daltrey said in an interview with the BBC that Townshend had recently experienced gradual but severe hearing loss and was now trying to save what remained of his hearing: “Pete’s having terrible trouble with his hearing. He’s got really, really bad problems with it…not tinnitus, it’s deterioration and he’s seriously now worried about actually losing his hearing.”

Referring to that, in July 2011, Townshend wrote at his blog: “My hearing is actually better than ever because after a feedback scare at the indigO2 in December 2008 I am taking good care of it. I have computer systems in my studio that have helped me do my engineering work on the forthcoming Quadrophenia release. I have had assistance from younger forensic engineers and mastering engineers to help me clean up the high frequencies that are out of my range. The same computer systems work wonderfully well on stage, proving to be perfect for me when the Who performed at the Super Bowl and doing Quadrophenia for TCT at the Royal Albert Hall in 2010. I’m 66, I don’t have perfect hearing, and if I listen to loud music or go to gigs I do tend to get tinnitus.”


#5 James Burke

James “Deaf” Burke (8 December 1809 – 8 January 1845), was one of England’s earliest boxing champions. He was also deaf. Burke, who trained in the area around the River Thames, stood 6 feet 2 inches (188 cm) tall and weighed 14 stone 4 pounds (200 lb; 91 kg). On 30 May 1833, in a particularly brutal fight for the English heavyweight championship that lasted 3 hours and 6 minutes, Burke defeated Simon Byrne, the Irish champion. Byrne died three days later from his injuries. Burke was promptly arrested and tried for Byrne’s murder, but was acquitted on 11 July 1833 and subsequently freed.] The former English champion Jem Ward, who had earlier retired rather than face Burke in the ring, refused to hand over the championship belt or acknowledge Burke as heavyweight champion. Following Byrne’s death and the resulting stigma from having killed his opponent, Burke found it impossible to obtain opponents in Britain. He went to the United States and fought the new Irish champion Sam O’Rourke in New Orleans on 6 May 1837. As the fight progressed, O’Rourke took heavy punishment. In the third round, fearing O’Rourke’s defeat, elements of the crowd rioted and caused the fight to be abandoned. Burke was forced to flee on horseback. At age 35 and in extreme poverty, Burke died of tuberculosis at home on 8 January 1845 in Frances Street, Waterloo, London. He is buried in St John’s Church-yard, Waterloo.

#6 Dame Evelyn Glennie

Dame Evelyn Glennie is a Scottish virtuoso multi-percussionist from Aberdeenshire. Profoundly deaf since 12, she has taught herself to hear in different ways.For example , she regularly plays barefoot during performances to feel the music better. She also plays the Great Highland Bagpipes and has her own registered tartan known as “The Rhythms of Evelyn Glennie”. In the video ”How To Truly Listen” below, Glennie discusses how she feels music in different parts of her body.

Produktion Bärbel Recktenwald England

#7 Punk Chef

Scott Garthwaite, also known as Punk Chef, is a celebrity deaf chef, tevlevision presenter and social media entertainer from Hartlepool.

In addition to his TV and culinary work, Scott is also the manager of Sunderland Deaf Association Football Club, a community football club under Sunderland AFC’s charity the Foundation of Light. He became the first deaf manager in the history of North East to win the England Deaf Football League and Cup double also the first manager to bring home the England Deaf Football Challenge Cup to the North East for the first time in its history.

#8 Sophie Stone

Sophie Stone is an English stage and television actress. She was the first deaf student to win a place at the drama school RADA.

Deaf since birth, she has nethertheless made in career in theatre and television, appearing in shows such as Dr Who, Two Doors Down, The Crown, Holby City and Shetland. For Scottish comedy Two Doors Down, she even had to learn to sign in Glaswegian!

#9 Matthew Robert Burns

Matthew Robert Burns was the first deaf man to become a head teacher of a school for the deaf.  Burns was born in Dundee on 10th of November 1798.  His father was a major in the 84th Regiment while his mother was the daughter of a Lombard Street banker.  “Little Matthew” as he was known, was educated with hearing boys, and the article says he claimed that because of that he ‘learned the ordinary idioms of society’.  He moved to London when he was a little older and he went to the Old Kent Road School for a while (I am not sure what year).  Little is know what he did next until 1830, when he was back in Scotland at Edinburgh, where he helped set up a deaf church.  Assisted by Charles Buchan and Alexander Campbell he opened the Carubbbber’s Close Chapel day school in 1832.  After that Mr Drysdale took over both mission and school. He was in Aberdeen until 1841, then he went to Bristol but was there for only for two years before he came into conflict with the management committee.

#10 Queen Alexandra

Alexandra of Denmark (Alexandra Caroline Marie Charlotte Louise Julia) was Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Empress of India as the wife of King Edward VII. Born in Copenhagen in 1844, she married the Prince of Wales in 1863 and became Queen of the United Kingdom in 1901.

She was deaf from hereditary otosclerosis and used fingerspelling. She went to the deaf church in London and communicated with deaf people. This was supported by Queen Victoria as she had a friend who was deaf. Queen Victoria supported deaf causes and allowed a number of schools to become Royal schools for the deaf.

Our top 10 Types of Sushi

Sushi comes in many forms, not just the nigiri variety so popular in Western restaurants and supermarkets. Sushi traces its origins back for millennia, to the rice fields of Asia – China, to be specific. This may be shocking to you, as most people assume that sushi was first created in Japan. However, this is not the case. While Japan is certainly the sushi capital of the world – and responsible for introducing the dish to travellers – sushi traces its origins back to a Chinese dish called narezushi. Today, Sushi is most commonly associated with Japan but is found in eateries across the world. Here is our top ten list of sushi types!

#1 Makizushi

Makizushi, also known as “norimaki,” refers to a type of sushi where rice and ingredients are carefully rolled in a sheet of nori seaweed, which is then cut into smaller pieces. It’s believed that makizushi came into existence in the early 1700s, soon after sheet nori was invented with a similar technique used for paper making. The name norimaki is made up of two Japanese words: “Maki” meaning to roll and “nori” referring to the toasted sheet of nori seaweed used to wrap the ingredients. Long, thin rolls typically featuring just one ingredient like a strip of fresh tuna, cucumber, or pickled daikon are called hosomaki. Futomaki (futo meaning fat) is a thicker variety of makizushi, and includes a combination of complimentary ingredients. Futomaki, unlike in foreign countries, is less likely to appear at sushi restaurants, but can usually be found in bento boxes and supermarkets. Uramaki, often called “inside-out sushi” in English, is a modern version of makizushi believed to have been invented in California in the 1960s. It’s made by first layering the rice onto the bamboo sushi mat, then laying the nori sheet on top followed by the remaining ingredients, before rolling. It’s often rolled in sesame seeds, which easily stick to the exterior rice or topped with tobiko fish eggs for extra crunch.

#2 Gunkan Maki

Gunkan maki is another type of maki—“rolled” or “wrapped” sushi—and was invented in a Ginza sushi restaurant in the 1940s. It’s made by wrapping a wide strip of nori around a rice ball while leaving enough space at the top to be filled with various ingredients. The name, translated as “battleship” or “warship” sushi, comes from its shape, resembling a tiny ship. Popular toppings for gunkan maki include uni sea urchin, squid, salmon roe, negitoro (a blend of fatty tuna belly and green onion), potato salad, and kanimiso (blended crab brains). Gunkan maki is commonly found both in takeout sushi bento boxes and at sushi restaurants

#3 Temaki

Temaki is a novel type of sushi with a shape resembling that of an ice cream cone. To make it, rice and ingredients are held within a sheet of nori wrapped into a conical shape. It’s popular at restaurants, as well as for making at home, given its simplicity. Temaki lends itself to a variety of fillings, with some popular types including umeshiso—a paste made of fresh shiso leaf and umeboshi (pickled plum), negitoro, squid with and without natto, and sweetened omelet.

#4 Narezushi

Fermentation was a technique used the world over to preserve fish and other products before the invention of refrigeration. Japan’s narezushi—a dish of fish preserved for several months to several years in salt and rice—is a perfect example of this technique that dates to the Nara period (710–794). Narezushi is commonly regarded as the original form of sushi, even though the rice was originally discarded before eating. Over time, the fermentation period became shorter so that the rice could be eaten with the fish, which then gave way to more modern types of sushi. These days, narezushi is generally less popular because of its extremely pungent flavor. However, funazushi of the Shiga prefecture remains popular, which is made using the nigorobuna fish from nearby Lake Biwa. Because it takes up to five years to ferment, funazushi is considered a regional delicacy due to its high price.

#5 Oshizushi

Oshizushi (pressed sushi), also known as hakozushi (boxed sushi), is a strikingly shaped style of sushi originating in Osaka. This variety is made by pressing ingredients into an “oshiwaku” rectangular box, then layering it with toppings and cutting the sushi into neat angular shapes like rectangles, triangle or small squares. The toppings include fish like mackerel or gizzard shad, and may also be decoratively layered with edible leaves like bamboo. Toppings may be placed in different arrangements, such as diagonally or with a whole fish from end to end, and this unique display makes oshizushi a popular choice for bento boxes and gifts.

#6 Sasazushi

In Japanese, “sasa” is a bamboo leaf, and sasazushi is sushi consisting of rice and toppings wrapped in a bamboo leaf. Sasazushi is thought to have come from the Nagano prefecture during the Warring States period (1467–1573), and differing accounts say that its origin was either because food was served on bamboo leaves, or because Nagano locals were looking for a dish to impress the visiting samurai warlord of the time, Uesugi Kenshin. Toppings include a wide range of wild vegetables such as mugwort and bamboo shoots, walnuts, mushrooms, miso, shredded omelet and salmon.

#7 Kakinoha-zushi

Another type of pressed, leaf-wrapped sushi is kakinoha-zushi, which comes from the Nara region of western Japan and dates to the Edo period. This version is wrapped in a persimmon (kaki) leaf. As Nara is a landlocked area, fresh seafood was often wrapped in persimmon leaves during transportation before the days of refrigeration; not only did the leaf preserve the fish with its antibacterial properties, it imparted a delicate aroma. Kakinoha-zushi is most commonly made by placing salmon or mackerel on top of the rice, but it can also feature other ingredients like prawn or eel. It’s a popular omiyage (souvenir) for visitors to the region, and is available at local department stores and train stations.

#8 Temari

Temari is a less known variety of sushi overseas, and is also not as common to find in Japan, although it’s a popular style of sushi to make at home given its simplicity in form. It’s made with a small round ball of pressed rice topped with a thin layer of fish or other ingredients, which is fitting since the name comes from the traditional Japanese embroidered ball, temari, meaning “hand ball.” Often colorful and decorative, it’s a popular food for parties and picnics, and is often made for the traditional girl’s day celebration known as Hinamatsuri. If making temari for a picnic, it’s best to used cured or cooked seafood rather than raw sashimi.

#9 Chirashizushi

Chirashizushi, translated as “scattered sushi,” is a bowl of rice topped with a variety of ingredients, with popular toppings including pieces of salmon, squid, cucumber, shredded omelet, and boiled prawns. It’s similar to a kaisendon (Japanese rice bowl topped with a large amount of seafood), with the main difference being that chirashizushi uses vinegared sushi rice whereas kaisendon uses plain steamed white rice. You can easily find chirashizushi throughout Japan as it’s widely available in convenience stores, supermarkets and department store food courts. It’s often included as a bento box feature, or enjoyed as a stand-alone meal, given its wide variety of ingredients. Its decorative, bejeweled appearance makes it popular to serve at celebratory occasions.

#10 Inari-zushi

Inari-zushi is quite different from the other varieties mentioned above, since in its most common form it doesn’t contain any fish and is quite sweet in flavor. Inari is a pouch-like piece of aburaage(deep-fried tofu) that has been simmered in a seasoning of mirin, soy sauce, dashi and sugar. It’s named after the Shinto god, Inari, who is said to have had a fondness for tofu. The seasoned inari pouch is most commonly filled with vinegared sushi rice to create a sweet, slightly sour, juicy dish. However, inari-zushi can also be filled with rice mixed with other ingredients, or rice topped with a range of ingredients like mushrooms, squid, boiled prawns, chives or shredded omelet. The versatility, ease of making, and portability of inari-zushi makes it a popular item for bento as well as finger food for picnics and parties.

The 10 biggest Lego sets of all time

Admit it. Even as an adult, you have probably walked past a Lego shop and secretly wanted a set for Christmas. The alluring plastic bricks account for millions in worldwide sales each year – to the extent that Lego is the world’s biggest manufacturer of tyres! Sets range from a few pounds in price, to the hundreds. But what is the biggest set of all time and how any bricks does it contain? Find out below…

#1 75192-1: Millennium Falcon

Pieces : 7424            Minifigures : 8            RRP : $799.99, £649.99, 799.99€ The size of the 2017 Millennium Falcon is simply epic. The first clue to its enormous size is in the packaging; it comes in a huge box weighing in at 15 kilos. The modular build reportedly takes between 17 and 50 hours to complete, but with 17 bags of 7424 bricks and parts, this is hardly surprising. As one AFOL (Adult fan of Lego) called ‘Alfredoftwo’ wrote: ”All told, I’m glad I have this set. It was fun to buy in a rush of excitement, it provided a lot of enjoyable build time, and it looks absolutely magnificent on display! The sticker shock of spending $800 will wear off with time, and in the end I will be left with a true treasure.”.

#2 10189: Taj Mahal

  Pieces : 5922            Minifigures : 0            RRP : $299.99, £199.99 The original Taj Mahal, in northern India, was built in the 17th century in memory of an emperor’s wife. It took 22 years and 20,000 workers. The Lego model is recommended for experienced builders aged 14 and over but might not take quite so long to build as the original – fans reporting build-times of between 20 and 40 hours. The model includes replicas of the minarets, domes and arches. Lego spokeswoman Jenny Brown said the Taj Mahal model was designed only for very experienced enthusiasts. She added: ‘It will certainly present a worthy challenge to most Lego fans – but a fun one.’ The model even had a celebrity fan – David Beckham is reported to have enjoyed building the set in between matches.

#3 10179: Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon

Pieces : 5197            Minifigures : 5            RRP : $499.99, £342.99 A firm fan favourite from the date of the set’s launch in 2007 until its retirement. The set was the first falcon in the Lego range that was able to accommodate minifigures, and the 5 included with the set were a big hit. Fans also loved the build process, comparing it favourably to the ‘flat and boring’ Taj Mahal set. Unlike other large sets, this one could also be played with!

#4 70620: NINJAGO City

Pieces : 4867            Minifigures : 19            RRP : $299.99, £259.99, 299.99€ The biggest Ninjago set produced, this set was more a display piece than a play item. Fans particularly loved the variety of building techniques, the number of minifigures included and the visual impact of the set. There were complaints, however, on the number of stickers this set employed – a total of 64, which were difficult to fix onto round pieces correctly without detracting from the aesthetics of the set.

#5 75827: Firehouse Headquarters

Pieces : 4634            Minifigures : 10            RRP : $349.99, £284.99, 349.99€ Ghostbusters meets Lego…what’s not to like? This set has all the fun of the film with some fantastic minfigures, matched with a detailed architectural build of a classic New York fire house. The set has three floors of fun and mayhem including a games room with pool table, a laboratory and even an arcade machine to keep the guys busy in-between hunting ghosts.

#6 10214: Tower Bridge

Pieces : 4287            Minifigures : 0            RRP : $239.99, £219.99, 219.99€ At over a metre long and taking 15-30 hours to build, this set is more display piece than playset. And the set is gorgeous to look at. The microscale Routemaster and London cab are simply beautiful and bring the whole set to life. In terms of size, the set does contain a lot of 1×1 pieces that boost the total. That being said, the end result is very impressive.  

#7 10253: Big Ben

Pieces : 4163            Minifigures : 0            RRP : $249.99, £179.99, 219.99€ The second set to feature a London landmark on the top ten list. Big Ben features a detailed section of the Westminster Palace and the adjoining Elizabeth Tower, four detailed clock dials with movable hour and minutes hands, and a baseplate featuring a treelined garden and the river Thames. The set even includes a removable tower top to reveal a Big Ben bell inside!

#8 71040: Disney Castle

Pieces : 4080           Minifigures : 7            RRP : $349.99, £299.99, 349.99€ This huge set sold out quickly and almost immediately became a collector’s item. It is easy to see why. The set is simply huge and combines the popularity of Disney with an epic build. The Disney Castle measures over 29” (74cm) high, 18.8” (48cm) wide and 12” (31cm) deep. The set features a detailed facade with a stone bridge, clock, wide arched entrance, ornate balconies, spired towers, plus a four-story main building and a five-story, golden-spired main tower, both containing rooms with assorted Disney-inspired features and elements. The set’s main criticism from fans was on the lack of minifigures at just five, with two grey knights decorating the castle walls. However, the overwhelmingly positive reaction in the summer of its release and its limited availability since then suggests that it has proved extremely popular with fans around the world, as one might expect of such an enormous and impressive model.

#9 75159: Death Star

Pieces : 4016           Minifigures : 27            RRP : $499.99, £409.99, 499.99€ This set is only slightly larger in terms of number of pieces than Assembly Square but comes in at nearly twice the price. What really differentiates this set though is the sheer number of minifigures – at 27 perhaps a record in itself. Some of the minifigures are also unique to this set such as ‘Imperial Navy Officer’, and ‘Grand Moff Tarkin’ which makes this set highly collectable.

#10 10255: Assembly Square

Pieces : 4002           Minifigures : 9            RRP : $279.99, £179.99, 239.99€ 2017 marks the tenth year of the Modular Building theme and this milestone is celebrated by the release of Assembly Square. The set contains 4002 pieces and is therefore the largest Modular Building yet as well as one of the most impressive based on the exceptionally positive reaction to its announcement in October 2016.   Prices and listings correct as of January 2019

Top 10 tips for Street Marketing from

Original article published by the EFC

Flyering can be your best and worst experience of the Fringe. At its best it allows you to interact with your future audience and get bums on seats. At its worst it can mean hours stood on the Royal Mile, in the rain, engaging with disinterested tourists who question your environmental and performance credentials. But it can be a positive experience and strategy is key – here are our top tips for flyering at the Edinburgh Fringe!

  1. Flyer with a friend

Flyering in the rain, tired from an after-show party in Brewhemia, getting harassed by a vocal lady visiting from Tunbridge Wells on how your show is a copy of one she thinks she saw in Ipswich in 1972 is never fun. Shared with a friend it can be!

More of your team out flyering means more engagement with potential audience members. You have heard the adage about buses come along in threes? That happens when you are flyering on the Royal Mile too, and after being ignored for 10 minutes you can guarantee that the three large family groups all wanting to know about your show will all converge simultaneously. Easier to handle as a group.

Visually too , a friend or group will give you so much more presence when flyering. Of course, it’s not always possible to have more than one person there. If not, offer to support another act if they will support you back in return. You will make a new friend, and learn their flyering techniques!

2. Branding is key

Does your flyer branding match your poster branding? And your poster branding match our website branding? And your website branding match your social media branding? And your social media branding match your Fringe listing branding? Consistency is key! If you saw an airline company handing out orange flyers on the Royal Mile, I would wager you would instantly know which one! And you could guess the exact shade of orange their poster would be too, without even seeing it right? Big companies know the importance of using consistent fonts, colours, images and messages in their branding and you should too!

If you need help on this, engage with a professional (graphic) designer. Because an amateurish flyer will equate in people’s minds to an amateurish performer that they do not want to invest their time and money in coming to see.

3. Don’t ignore the men in suits!

This tip came from our founder who walks the Royal Mile during Fringe on a lunchtime. It astounded him that a suit was a flyer repellent to such an extent that he walked past one University group 16 times (he counted!), before they engaged with him and gave out a flyer.

What had not occurred to the Uni group was that people in business wear are actually the best people to engage with! For one, they are much more likely to live in Edinburgh and therefore come and see your show at some point over the course of its run. Secondly, they are likely to work in an office; and in Edinburgh offices over August one of the main topics of conversation is the Fringe! Telling office boy ‘Calum’ about your show and giving him 10 flyers to put in his office kitchen is likely to result in far more ticket sales and awareness of your show than talking to tourist ‘Dave’!

4. Location, Location, Location!

Targeting can be key! Whilst flyering on the Royal Mile is a must for any first-time Fringe performer and great for building brand awareness, you will quickly learn there are other (better) locations!

Does your show cover a niche or will it appeal to a specific demographic? Then head to where that demographic will be located! Does you show have a religious theme? Perhaps flyer outside a busy church when the congregation is leaving? Does you show have an LGBT theme? Maybe head down to Edinburgh’s Pink Triangle and flyer to punters leaving CC Blooms or The Street? Late night comedy show? Head to the Grassmarket mid-evening and flyer people leaving the pubs.

Perhaps head places too where you know you will have a captive audience! I am amazed I have never seen anyone flyer commuters waiting at tram or bus stops yet. Perfect if you want to give them a mini gig whilst they wait!

5. #TakeAPhoto and #SustainableFringe

There are environmental concerns around flyering and the inevitable waste it produces. Our environmental writer, Matt Turner, offered some great tips for the Fringe last year for performers to reduce their environmental impact. You can read his article here.

This year, groups such as Staging Change are asking performers to think differently about flyering. Firstly they are asking potential audience members to snap a photo of flyers instead of taking them. On social media they are campaigning on this issue using the #TakeAPhoto hashtag.

Secondly, they are asking performers to make sure that their flyers can be recycled and to include the below graphic on their flyers.

Two small changes but potentially one big impact!

6. Stand out from the crowd!

If you have props and a costume, use them to help you stand out from the crowds in busy places such as the Royal Mile. They also help you with the unified branding of your show.

Gimmicks can help too – free food, people ‘dead’ on the ground advertising a crime thriller, free hugs, giant robots and fake arguments were all spotted on the Royal Mile by our team last year. Only use gimmicks though if they help you promote your show. If people walk away without a flyer and a perception your £10 a head show at the Pleasance is a free Street Show, you have given out the wrong message.

7. Use a #Hashtag

If you have gone to the trouble of bringing your costume and props along, people will invariably want a ‘Kodak moment’ with you. Use that opportunity to spread awareness of your show! Choose a short and memorable hashtag that relates to your show, print it on your flyer, then ask every punter who takes their photo with you to use the hashtag when they share the photo on their social media. A great way to track interest in your show!

8. Flyer outside the Half Price Hut

Need to bolster your ticket sales? A good place to stand would be close to the half-price ticket sale huts, such as the ones next to the National Gallery. That is because you will be pitching to punters who have yet to buy tickets and as such will be more willing to take a chance on an unknown show.

9. Engage!

It sounds obvious but a smiley welcoming face will encourage people to talk to you about your show! Standing around checking your phone or chatting with your co-stars will not! The personal interaction you get from chatting to punters may well spark a personal connection for them to your show (‘oh – I didn’t realise you were from my hometown!’), that may further encourage them to actually come along!

10. Make every flyer count

Flyers cost you in both time and money and you want to make your investment make a return in ticket sales. In can be tempting to hand one out to every stranger walking past, whether they want a flyer or not. Despite all your frantic efforts, 99% will end up discarded. So how do you change that and increase the conversion rate of flyers handed out vs resultant ticket sales?

Most importantly, be selective in who you hand your flyer to. Only give them to people you have engaged with and seem interested in your show. Your success rate has just doubled!

But how do you further that success rate? I talked last year with a stand-up comedian who had a great take on flyering and a method that actually worked.

Finally, the EFC included in their article a story from a stand-up comedian who transformed his conversion rate from flyering to ticket sales by 50% using a very simple free technique. To find out more about it, see the original article from our friends at the EFC

10 Countries which officially call themselves ‘Democratic’

There are currently 10 countries in the world which have ‘democratic’ as part of their formal name. However, these countries are sometimes run on a basis that is far from their democratic ideal of their name, and one of these countries even ranks bottom of the ‘Democratic Index’. The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the UK-based company the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that intends to measure the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 165 are UN member states. The index was first produced in 2006, with updates for 2008, 2010 and the following years since then. The index is based on 60 indicators grouped in five different categories measuring pluralism, civil liberties and political culture. In addition to a numeric score and a ranking, the index categorises countries as one of four regime types: full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes. Two of the countries have not been ranked yet, so on the basis of ‘innocent before proven guilty’ we shall place them at the top of our list. Of the countries that are ranked, only one is ranked in the top 50 democratic countries, and the country with the top ranking is categorised as a ‘Flawed Democracy’. I do not think we shall be seeing ‘The Flawed People’s Democratic Republic’ on a country’s name at the Olympics any time soon though!  

#1 Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic – (not ranked)

The Sahrawi Republic, officially the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR; Spanish: República Árabe Saharaui Democrática; Arabic: الجمهورية العربية الصحراوية الديمقراطيةal-Jumhūrīyah al-‘Arabīyah aṣ-Ṣaḥrāwīyah ad-Dīmuqrāṭīyah), is a partially recognized state that controls a thin strip of area in the Western Sahara region and claims sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony and later province. SADR was proclaimed by the Polisario Front on February 27, 1976, in Bir Lehlou, Western Sahara, a former socialist liberation force which has since reformed its ideological and political views. Whilst the country has a constitution based on a Western European model, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro Party controls 53 of the 53 seats in the country’s National Council.

#2 Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe – (not ranked)

São Tomé has functioned under a multiparty system since 1990. With regards to human rights in São Tomé, there are freedom of speech and the freedom to form opposition political parties. São Tomé and Príncipe finished 11th out of the African countries measured by the Ibrahim Index of African Governance in 2010, a comprehensive reflection of the levels of governance in Africa.

#3 Democratic Republic of Timor Leste – (43 of 167)

Politics of East Timor takes place in a framework of a unitary semi-presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of East Timor is the head of government and the President of East Timor exercises the functions of head of state. East Timor has a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the president and the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The East Timorese constitution was modelled on that of Portugal, though the president is less powerful than their Portuguese counterpart. The country is still in the process of building its administration and governmental institutions.

#4 Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka – (66 of 167)

Sri Lanka is the oldest democracy in Asia. Politics of Sri Lanka takes place in a framework of a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Sri Lanka is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and Parliament. For decades, the party system has been dominated by the socialist Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the conservative United National Party. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The Politics of Sri Lanka reflect the historical and political differences between the three main ethnic groups, the majority Sinhala and the minorities Tamils and Muslims, who are concentrated in the north and east of the island.

#5 Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal – (102 of 167)

Nepali politics has been chaotic since the turn of the millennium, and has seen royal assassinations, martial law, and suspension of governments by the KingOn June 1, 2001, Crown Prince Dipendra was officially reported to have shot and killed his father, King Birendra; his mother, Queen Aishwarya; his brother; his sister, his father’s younger brother, Prince Dhirendra; and several aunts, before turning the gun on himself. Although he never regained consciousness before dying, Crown Prince Dipendra was nonetheless the king under the law of Nepalese royal succession. After his death two days later, the late King’s surviving brother Gyanendra was proclaimed king. On 1 February 2002 King Gyanendra suspended the Parliament, appointed a government led by himself, and enforced martial law. The King argued that civil politicians were unfit to handle the Maoist insurgency. On 22 November 2005, the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) of parliamentary parties and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) agreed on a historic and unprecedented 12-point memorandum of understanding (MOU) for peace and democracy. Nepalese from various walks of life and the international community regarded the MOU as an appropriate political response to the crisis that was developing in Nepal. Against the backdrop of the historical sufferings of the Nepalese people and the enormous human cost of the last ten years of violent conflict, the MOU, which proposes a peaceful transition through an elected constituent assembly, created an acceptable formula for a united movement for democracy. As per the 12-point MOU, the SPA called for a protest movement, and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) supported it. This led to a countrywide uprising called the Loktantra Andolan that started in April 2006. All political forces including civil society and professional organizations actively galvanized the people. This resulted in massive and spontaneous demonstrations and rallies held across Nepal against King Gyanendra’s autocratic rule. Finally King Gyanendra announced the reinstatement the House of Representatives and on 19 May 2006, the parliament assumed total legislative power and gave executive power to the Government of Nepal. A federal republic was established in May 2008, which ended 240 years of royal rule in Nepal. A period of unrest then followed with the Madhes Movement. A new Constitution in 2015 has not yet seen a resolution to many of the issues which have arisen in the post monarchy era.

#6 Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia – (125 of 167)

According to the Democracy Index published by the United Kingdom-based Economist Intelligence Unit in late 2010, Ethiopia is an “authoritarian regime”, ranking as the 118th-most democratic out of 167 countries.[116] Ethiopia has dropped 12 places on the list since 2006, and the latest report attributes the drop to the government’s crackdown on opposition activities, media and civil society before the 2010 parliamentary election, which the report argues has made Ethiopia a de facto one-party state.

#7 People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria – (126 of 167)

While many sources agree that the real power in Algeria is not held by its constitutional organs, they differ as to who/what does. According to the Economist magazine, the military is the primary powerbroker, along with “a select group” of unelected civilians. These “décideurs” are reportedly known to Algerians as “le pouvoir” (“the power”), make major decisions, including who should be president.[4] Adam Nossiter of the New York Times states “Algerian politics is still dominated” by men from the ruling party, the FLN. Moroccan-Italian journalist Anna Mahjar-Barducci, writing in Haaretz, insists the FLN “is a group of apparatchiks constantly fighting each other when they’re not tending to the businesses … with which they have rewarded themselves from their positions of power”. According to Mahjar-Barducci, real power is held by “the military’s Department of Intelligence and Security (DRS).’’

#8 Lao People’s Democratic Republic – (153 of 167)

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is one of the world’s few remaining socialist states that openly espouse Communism. The only legal political party is the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP). The head of state is President Bounnhang Vorachith, and he is the General Secretary of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party. The head of government is Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, who is also a member of the Lao Communist Party’s Politburo. Government policies are determined by the party through the all-powerful eleven-member Politburo of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and the 61-member Central Committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party. Important government decisions are vetted by the Council of Ministers. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam maintains significant influence over the Politburo of Laos and the one-party communist state apparatus and military.

#9 Democratic Republic of the Congo – (159 of 167)

Democratic Republic of the Congo operates in a framework of a republic in transition from a civil war to a semi-presidential style republic. From Tshombe’s secession of the Katanga, to the assassination of Lumumba, to the two coups d’état of Mobutu, the country has known periods of true nationwide peace, but virtually no period of genuine democratic rule.

#10 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – (167 of 167)

Despite its official title as the ‘Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’ (DPRK) some observers have described North Korea’s political system as an absolute monarchy or a “hereditary dictatorship”. North Korea has been ruled since its inception by the Kim dynasty, officially called the Mount Paektu Bloodline. The Juche ideology is the cornerstone of party works and government operations. It is viewed by the official North Korean line as an embodiment of Kim Il-Sung’s wisdom, an expression of his leadership, and an idea which provides “a complete answer to any question that arises in the struggle for national liberation”. North Korea is widely accused of having perhaps the worst human rights record in the world. North Koreans have been referred to as “some of the world’s most brutalized people” by Human Rights Watch, because of the severe restrictions placed on their political and economic freedoms. The North Korean population is strictly managed by the state and all aspects of daily life are subordinated to party and state planning. Employment is managed by the party on the basis of political reliability, and travel is tightly controlled by the Ministry of People’s Security.

10 Things You Need To Know About Winchburgh

Last month WIL West Lothian launched its Winchbugh page with a news story about the development of Auldcathie Park. To celebrate, we are looking into Winchburgh’s fascinating history; here are 10 things you need to know about West Lothian’s fastest growing village.

#1 Ancient Village

Winchburgh has an ancient history which saw it first mentioned in records in 1189. The name probably comes from the Old English for “Winca’s Fort”, and suggests the village may have stood here since being founded by someone called Winca during the period of Anglian or Northumbrian dominance of the area in the 600s.

#2 Time Team welcome here!

There is no sign of Winca’s Fort today, nor of the village that stood here in 1314 when the English army that had been defeated at the Battle of Bannockburn and then their Scottish pursuers both passed through in the immediate aftermath of the battle.

#3 Winchburgh has two Castles – the first was Niddry.

Niddry Castle stands just a third of a mile south east of the edge of Winchburgh, though much of the area between them is covered by a huge oil shale bing, and by the Niddry Castle Golf Club.  Niddry Castle dates back to the 1400s and was a base of the Seton family, better known for their estates in East Lothian. The most famous resident, briefly, was Mary Queen of Scots, who stayed here on the night of 2nd May 1568 after her escape from Lochleven Castle. The castle was abandoned in the 1700s. Today, Niddry Castle is famous for its golf course which hit the headlines in 2007 in the case of a golfer who lost his eye on the golf course and successfully sued both the golfer and the golf club for hundreds of thousands of pounds.

#4 Winchburgh’s second castle is Duntarvie

The second castle near Winchburgh is Duntarvie Castle, which stands just under a mile north, and was built by the Durham family in the early 1600s. It is currently being restored and transformed into an events venue.

#5 The Union Canal cuts right through the village 

Quarrying began to take place to the east of Winchburgh in the 1790s, and in 1822 the Union Canal was built along a line that took it immediately to the west of the village. It cuts through the village just by the church forming a border that some locals joke marks the ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ between the New Village (West) and the Old Village (East).



#6 Winchburgh was the scene of a fatal rail accident

Winchburgh gained a railway station in 1842 when the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway was built, using deep cuttings to the north and south of the village and a tunnel running beneath the centre of it. On 13 October 1862, 15 people were killed when two trains collided head on in the cutting a mile and a half north east of Winchburgh.

#7 Winchburgh Junction

Winchburgh is even the name of a Billy Connolly acoustic track!

#8 Scotland’s first oil town

Image result for greendykes bing" In the 1860s oil shale began to be mined in the area, and in the 1870s an oil extraction plant was established to the south of Winchburgh. At the beginning of the 1900s a new extraction plant was built, known as the Niddrie Castle Oil Works. Its owners, the Oakbank Oil Company, built over 200 new cottages in Winchburgh to house the workers, and the oil works was linked by narrow gauge electric railway to a number of oil shale mines in the area. The Niddry Castle Oil Works was the last producer of oil from shale in Scotland when it closed in 1960.  

#9 Scotland’s Ayers Rock

Greendykes Bing in Winchburgh has been designated a ‘monument of national importance’ as one of the very few intact spent-shale bings left in central Scotland. The shale oil industry was locally important for about a century, and its pioneer, James Young, developed refining techniques still used in the oil industry. This bing, with its neighbour Faucheldean, gives striking evidence of the enormous volume of material processed in the extraction of oil from shale. In this case the operating company was the Broxburn Oil Co, active from the 1860s to c. 1940. Given its similarity to Uluru and its reddish hue, some locals refer to it as ‘Ayers Rock’.

#10 Billion Pound Village

A landmark deal worth £1 billion, one of the largest in the UK, is set to transform Winchburgh through massive investment in new schools, new homes and vital infrastructure. This will include: a number of new state-of-the-art schools; around 3,450 new homes, including over 700 affordable homes and more than 400 for social rent; a new M9 junction to open up prime employment land; a railway station; a 75 acre district park; and a marina. The new homes form part of a masterplan for the West Lothian site. Image: Contributed    

10 Foreign language songs that have made it to #1 in the UK Charts

Hard as it is to believe, there have only ever been 11 foreign language UK number ones in the history of the charts. Sadly some great hits such as Joe le Taxi, La Isla Bonita and Dragostea Din Tei by O-Zone miss out on being included on the list as they never reached the number one spot. How many from the list can you name before scrolling downwards?

#1 ‘Despacito’ – Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber – Spanish/ English – May 18th 2017 for 11 non-consecutive weeks

#2 ‘Gangnam Style” – Psy – Korean/English – 6th October 2012 for one week

#3 ‘We No Speak Americano’ – Yolando Be Cool & DCUP – Neapolitan/ English – 31st July 2010 for 1 week

#4 ‘The Ketchup Song (Aserejé)’ – Las Ketchup – Spanish/ English – 19th October 2002 for 1 week

#5 ‘Sadness (Part 1)’ – Enigma – French/ Latin/ English – 19th January 1991 for 1 week

#6 ‘La Bamba’ – Los Lobos – Spanish – 1st August 1987 2 weeks

#7 ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ – Falco – German/ English – 10th May 1986 for 1 week

#8 ‘Begin the Beguine’ – Julio Iglesias – Spanish/ English – 5th December 1981 for 1 week

#9 ‘Chanson D’Amour’ – The Manhattan Transfer – French/ English – 12th March 1977 for 3 weeks

#10 ‘Je t’aime…moi non plus’ – Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – French – 11th October 1969 for 1 week


10 photos that show James Dean loved selfies 60 years ahead of time!

Jimmy Dean Everyone who knew James Byron Dean in real life called him Jimmy; the diminutive was quite apt because he was small in stature. He would be referred to as “boy” and “kid” all his short life. At a crucial point he realised that if he grew himself a tall quiff, left the glasses off and pouted a little, he could look really photogenic. He also realised something else; through a camera lens nobody need look small. Once he had fashioned himself in his new matinée boy image, Dean fell in love with it. He learned to do sexy things with cigarettes, rolling them along the lips of his half-open mouth, looking up at the viewer from under his eyebrows or slouching crotch forward, broodingly. For the next five years he was seldom far from a camera; if there was no one else to photograph him, he photographed himself. Usually the camera was held by another man, not always a professional. This has left us with a surprisingly modern album of photos; some of them looking like they were took yesterday by an Instagram star. Thank you Jimmy for your legacy!