All posts by thomasreimers2014

London’s ten oldest buildings

As historical a city as London is, there are plenty of buildings and structures that date back centuries, if not thousands of years. While London had long been spotted with settlements, the first organized building came with the Romans after their invasion in 43 AD. The coming of the Christians in the Middle Ages led to the construction of several churches that see many worshippers each Sunday. Even more buildings that still exist today followed the Norman invasion in 1066 AD. So what are the ten oldest buildings and structures in the city?  Have a look here. 

London 1347: The City of Death

A Brief History of London and the Plague

Sweeping across Europe, the bubonic plague was one of the first recorded instances of a pandemic in history.  It reached England for the first time in 1348 and quickly hit London as it was a major shipping centre.  Killing scores, it earned the nickname of the Black Death and would return to terrorize the city for a total of forty times until the last major outbreak in 1665 (even though smaller outbreaks would occur in Europe until 1750).  From the first outbreak to the last, the Bubonic Plague would strike roughly every 20 to 30 years and kill off approximately 20% of London’s population each time.

For a bit of background, the Bubonic Plague was a particularly nasty disease believed to have been spread by fleas that drank the blood of infected rats and then bit humans, thus passing on the virus.  The plague originated in China and traveled along trade routes, first reaching Europe in 1347.  Common symptoms of the disease included:  headaches, fever, vomiting, blisters, bruises, coughing up blood, and painful swellings around the lymph nodes (specifically the neck, armpits, and groin).  “Ring Around the Rosie” is a popular nursery rhyme that developed as a result of the plague and cleverly describes the symptoms, attempted treatments, and eventual death that it caused.  While the term “Black Death” is the popular vernacular today, its first usage wasn’t until the 1800s and people who lived in these times referred to the disease as “The Great Pestilence.”

News of the Bubonic Plague had reached London when it struck Europe in 1347, but it wouldn’t be until autumn of 1348 that it hit the city.  It rampaged through the city for eighteen months and killed approximately 50% of London’s population, an approximate total of 40,000.  The numbers of dead were so much that many were simply buried in mass graves, a process that continued through subsequent outbreaks.  In these trenches, bodies were sometimes buried up to five deep.  Excavations in the city have uncovered many of the “Plague Pits”, with the most recent ones being discovered in 2013 during the construction of Crossrail.

While there were many other smaller occurrences after this first major outbreak, the next and final large-scale strike by the plague would be in 1665.  Known as the “Great Plague of London” it was smaller than the first occurrence in its duration.  Despite strikes in 1563, 1593, 1625, 1640, and 1647, most physicians still weren’t knowledgeable about combating the disease.  Coming from the Netherlands where outbreaks had occurred with more frequency, the first reported cases began in February 1665.  As the weather in London warmed up, the disease spread and deaths increased.  Within seven months of the disease’s first appearance, 100,000 Londoners had died, which was roughly 20% of the city’s population.  Bills of Mortality required the deaths and causes each week, with the highest number reaching 7,165 in September.

After this, it seems that cases began to drop so much that people who had fled the city began returning to London in December.  King Charles II returned in February of 1666, and many of the aristocracy returned with him.  Parliament, which had not met since April 1665 due to the disease, reconvened in September 1666.  In fact, despite the deaths, the city seemed more crowded than ever before as more and more people came from the country to the city to seek success.  Ultimately, the plague would be largely forgotten the next year when the Great Fire of London took prominence.

One of the reasons we have much better information about the 1665 plague is that record keeping had improved significantly over the years.  One of the best records of the time comes courtesy of Samuel Pepys’ diary.  Pepys made many entries about the plague ranging from October 1663 when it reached the Netherlands to its aftermath.  Pepys described the red crosses painted on houses ravaged by plague, often with the words “Lord have mercy upon us.”  He also recorded the intolerable actions of the healthy towards the sick and said that “this disease making us crueler to one another than we are to dogs,” with homes casting out sick servants and family and friends refusing to help one another.

Even with the number of cases dropping to extremely low levels, the Bubonic Plague continued to claim lives in a much smaller level until 1679.  By that point, better laws combating the disease as well as a higher quality of sanitation helped to reduce the number of deaths in later years.  Of course, by the time the Bubonic Plague had quit the city, the people had a much larger problem to deal with as the Great Fire ravaged London in September 1666.

Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day! Mother 1
Mothering Sunday is always held on the fourth Sunday of Lent. It is exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday and usually falls in the second half of March or early April.
Mothering Sunday – or Mother’s Day – is a celebration of mothers and the maternal bond, and traditionally children give flowers, presents and cards to their mothers, and other maternal figures such as grandmothers, stepmothers and mothers-in-law.
Google have done a doodle to mark the occasion, but this can only be seen in the UK and Ireland.
When did Mothering Sunday begin?
The day has long been associated with mothers, and family. For centuries it was custom for people to return home to their ‘mother’ church on Laetare Sunday – the middle of Lent. Those who did so were said to have gone ‘a-mothering’.
The day often turned into a family reunion and a chance for children working away from home – often domestic servants – to spend time with their mothers.
Anna Jarvis founded the Mother’s Day holiday in the United States
Many used to pick flowers from the verges along the way to leave in the church or hand to their mothers when they got home.

Mother 2
But it was American social activist Anna Jarvis (1864-1948) from Philadelphia who campaigned for an official day to honour mothers in the US and is regarded as the “Mother of Mother’s Day”.
She dedicated her life to lobbying for the day after swearing she would do so after her mother’s death.
However, Jarvis became increasingly concerned at the commercialisation of the day, saying “I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit.” She also didn’t like the selling of flowers and the use of greetings cards which she described as “a poor excuse for the letter you are too lazy to write”.
In May 1932, Mother’s Day was adopted in Japan, after 19 years of observance by Christians, showing the wide reach of Jarvis and the embracement of Mother’s Day internationally.
Meanwhile in Britain, vicar’s daughter Constance Smith was inspired by a 1913 newspaper report of Jarvis’ campaign and began a push for the day to be officially marked in England.
Smith, of Coddington, Nottinghamshire, founded the Mothering Sunday Movement and even wrote a booklet The Revival of Mothering Sunday in 1920. Neither Smith nor Jarvis became mother’s themselves.
By 1938 Mothering Sunday had become a popular celebration with Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and various parishes across Britain marking the day and communities adopting the imported traditions of American and Canadian soldiers during the war.
By the 1950s it was being celebrated throughout Britain and businesses realised the commercial opportunities.
Is it Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day?
Mothering Sunday is on March 6th in the UK – it always falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. This isn’t the case in other countries, though…
When you say ‘Mother’s Day’ you are actually referring to the American version. In the US it falls on Sunday May 8th, ever since President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed it so in 1914.
Many blame the USA for introducing the name Mother’s Day to Britain and turning it into a commercial affair.
The French celebrate the event on a different day altogether – ‘Maman’s’ special day is reserved for the last Sunday in the month of May.
A family dinner is the norm, and traditionally the mother being honoured is presented with a cake that looks like a bouquet of flowers.
Mother’s Day in Spain is celebrated on December 8th. Spaniards pay tribute not only to their own mothers on this day, but also to the Virgin Mary. The day includes religious celebrations across the country.
The worst film to see on mother’s day
It’s a horror film about two boys who welcome their mother home after her reconstructive surgery and it all goes wrong in a terribly scary way.
Mother’s Day traditions
Simnel cakes are associated with Mother’s Day. During Lent, people did not eat sweet foods, rich foods or meat.
Simnel CakePhoto: ANDREW CROWLEY
However, the fast was lifted slightly on Mothering Sunday and many people prepared a Simnel cake to eat with their family on this day.
A Simnel cake is a light fruit cake covered with a layer of marzipan and with a layer of marzipan baked into the middle of the cake. Simnel cakes are associated with Mothering Sunday
Traditionally, Simnel cakes are decorated with 11 or 12 balls of marzipan, representing the 11 disciples and, sometimes, Jesus Christ.
One legend says that the cake was named after Lambert Simnel who worked in the kitchens of Henry VII of England sometime around the year 1500.

adopted from the Daily Mail, by  Emily Allen, and Cameron Macphail


McDonald’s und KFC verbannen Jugendliche aus Lokalen in GB

The Huffington Post UK  |  By Lucy Sherriff
Posted: 02/03/2016 13:58 GMT Updated: 02/03/2016 15:59 GMT

A decision by KFC and McDonald’s to ban under 18s from eating in some branches in the UK has been slammed as a “reckless” decision that targets “working class young people”.
The fast food chains implemented the controversial policy after a brawl broke out between around 20 teenagers near Meir Park, Stoke-on-Trent, a few weeks ago. Eight people were arrested.
Teenagers will be allowed to enter the establishments to buy food to take away, but will not be allowed to eat in unless they are accompanied by an adult.
But Georgia Rigg, from the Manchester youth charity the RECLAIM Project, told The Huffington Post UK the decision left some young people with few places to go.

“These restaurants are accessible spaces for them, they’re warm, cheap and have free WiFi. They’re often a place our young people go after school to grab a snack, catch up with friends or do homework.
“The fact that all under 18s are being tarred with the same brush is a reckless decision. And to add further insult to injury, young people are still allowed to enter these venues to buy food, but then have to leave immediately to eat it. The audacity in that.”
Rigg raised concerns over the lack of youth centres, cuts to libraries and reduction in funding for youth services, adding: “Where are we expecting young people to go?
“Is there any public space that is safe for them any more, without them being written off as ‘nuisances’?”
Others vented their frustration on Twitter, with some even assuming the ban was for health reasons.Owen Winter, a 17-year-old who is an active member of the UK’s Youth Parliament, described the decision as “discrimination”.

“[The policy will] only exacerbate the problem of young people having nowhere to go,” he said. “Young people are already forced to stay at home or hang around on the streets, banning [them] won’t help.
“I also think it is discrimination, the vast majority of young people cause no problems at all. If the same rules were applied based on race, gender, sexuality or for older people, there would be public outrage.
“Fast food chains can already throw out anyone causing trouble, there’s no reason for them to abando

n a massive section of their customers, most of who are entirely innocent.”
McDonald’s denied having a policy to ban under 18s, but told HuffPost UK: “It is with regret that some restaurants have experienced anti-social behaviour on an ongoing basis, which has resulted in measures being implemented.”
The restaurant described the policy as a “temporary measure which asks unaccompanied under 18s take their food out to eat”, and said it had worked with local police forces to make the decision.
KFC said it was “the only solution left open to us”.
“Only about 3% of our 890 restaurants have taken this step,” a spokesperson told HuffPost UK. “This is not a blanket policy and has only been put in place when our restaurant managers feel they’re left with no other option to protect our employees, many of who are teenagers and youths themselves, from threatening or violent behaviour.
“As a compromise in these difficult situations, customers who are affected are still welcome to purchase a take-away meal.”
Simon Webley of the Institute of B

usiness Ethics applauded the companies for taking the action against unacceptable behaviour.
“When you consider that being a good neighbour is one of McDonald’s ambitions, I think that on this occasion, they are acting consistently,” he told HuffPost UK.
“It is a short term solution to a local problem which was made with the interests of their wider customer base in mind.

“In any case, where behaviours are deemed to be unacceptable, action needs to be taken. A common reason for unethical behaviour in business is that the consequences of an action are not always considered. Or, put another way, individuals may think that they can ‘get away with it’.”

Untergrund-Farm: 33 Meter unter London baut ein Forscherteam Gemüse an

ubahnwaggonThe Huffington Post von Catherina Kaiser Veröffentlicht: 01/03/2016 18:03 CET Aktualisiert: 01/03/2016 18:13 CET

Zum Wachsen braucht eine Pflanze Erde, Wasser und Sonnenlicht… oder?

Die britische Farm “Growing Underground” stellt dieo-UNTERGRUNDFARM-570_1se Grundannahme auf den Kopf – denn sie befindet sich unter der Erde. 33 Meter unter London bauen Forscher dort Blattsalate und Spinat an, ganz ohne Tageslicht.

Pflanzen wachsen mit LED-Licht
Im Interview mit dem britischen Magazin “The Wire” erklärte Gründer Steven Dring das System hinter seiner Untergrund-Farm: “In den letzten drei bis fünf Jahren hat sich die Forschung im Bereich LED-Licht so weit entwickelt, dass Pflanzen ganz ohne natürliches Licht wachsen können.”

Laut Dring hat LED-Licht der Sonne gegenüber sogar einen entscheidenden Vorteil: “Anders als bei natürlichem Licht kann bei LED das Lichtspektrum ganz genau auf die Pflanze angepasst werden”, sagte er dem Magazin.
Begrenzter Raum über der Erde
Doch was ist der eigentliche Grund, dass Dring mit seinem Team für den Anbau unter die Erde ging?
“Unsere Bevölkerung wächst ständig und unser Raum ist begrenzt”, begründete Dring sein Projekt. “Wir werden uns in Zukunft andere Orte suchen müssen, um unsere Nahrung anzubauen.”
In der Metropolregion London wird der Wohn- und Nutzraum über der Erde ständig geringer. Dafür gibt es unter der Erde in der Tat viel ungenutzten Raum – wie zum Beispiel kilometerlange Tunnel aus dem zweiten Weltkrieg, wo nun auch die “Growing Underground”-Farm Platz gefunden hat.
Platzsparende, schnelle Methode
Die neuesten LED-Lichter können ganz nah an den Pflanzen angebracht werden. So nah, dass sogar mehrere Beete übereinander angebracht werden können.

Diese Methode ist nicht nur extrem platzsparend, sondern auch produktiv: Auf 550 Quadratmetern wachsen so nun über 20.000 Kilo grünes Blattgemüse im Jahr.
Der Hof setzt zudem voll auf lokale Konsumenten: Geerntet wird täglich um 16 Uhr, am nächsten Tag finden Londoner den Untergrund-Salat im Laden.
In Zukunft will das Unternehmen expandieren – und die alten Kriegstunnel weiter begrünen.