When it comes to fashion, British brands are not always the foremost things to come to mind. There is, however, something new that the UK has to offer in terms of street wear – Aerosoul. To be honest, I do not own any item from Aerosoul but from what I have seen, it would be worth buying this brand.

So what is Aerosoul all about? This brand was founded in 1998 by Leke Adesoye, a graphic designer. His vision back then was to create a British brand for street wear and reach out to the rest of the world. Judging by the success that Aerosoul has achieved, Adesoye has fulfilled his vision.

In a feature article on October Online, further information is provided:

London-born Leke began his design venture in the early nineties when, greatly inspired by the burgeoning drum n’ bass and hip hop scene, he sought to capture that energy and innovation in his clothing.By skilfully fusing different elements of these disparate yet interwoven tribes, Aerosoul managed to reach out to several at once. His much-loved “Junglist Movement” T-shirts became the underground logo of a generation, but the brand was soon to establish a wider clientele.

More so, Aerosoul has gotten some prominent names in the British music scene to model their clothes:

The fact that many who’ve modelled for the label have since blown up on the British urban music scene is demonstrative of Leke’s intuition.Included in these, too numerous to mention artists are: Estelle, Roots Manuva, Damage, Paradox, A.I , Karl hinds, Rodney P, TY, Omar and Normski.

Perhaps it is time to head on over to Aerosoul’s web site and see what they have to offer.

delia smith

With the latest rage of celebrity chefs having their own TV shows and whatnot, it is not a surprise that one of the older generations of cooks has come out to play once again. Delia Smith is one of the greatest cooks in the UK. She has not really made it big in the US and other countries, unlike other celebrity chefs, but she is definitely a household name in the UK.

This time, though, she is making waves with her new book and TV show, How To Cheat At Cooking. The sad thing is that she doesn’t seem to be the old Delia Smith that her followers admired. The title of the book and show itself is catchy – but the way she presents her cooking leaves much to be desired. How so? Delia Smith has always been known for her great cooking and for the use of fresh, “real” ingredients. The new Delia Smith, however, is making use of everything instant! Tinned mince, frozen risotto, and a whole lot of processed food – that’s what she is working with right now.

As the people at the Guardian put it, the whole thing “has been received with much confusion by foodies across the land with her use of processed ingredients such as frozen risotto, tubs of Arrabiata sauce and ready made meringue nests. Wasn’t the whole point of cooking from scratch, to do just that?”

I have not tasted her new recipes but maybe some of you have. Care to share your thoughts on these new concoctions?

gay rainbow
I saw this article (How Gay Became Children’s Insult Of Choice) on BBC last week and I couldn’t help but be curious and sad at the same time. The article starts with:

The word “gay” is now the most frequently used term of abuse in schools, says a report. How did it get to be so prevalent and why do children use homophobic insults to get at each other?

I never even really realised that “gay” is the insult of choice these days. The fact that we have to have a label such as “insult of choice” is in itself saddening. Has our society become so critical and disrespectful of others that we have to have an insult of choice for each generation? The BBC article, however, does have some significant points. It is true that even in the older generations, there were terms and words that were commonly used to bring children in the playgrounds down. It just so happens that today, “gay” is the choice word.

So what happened? Why has it reached the status that it has? BBC reports:

One reason for this increase in use could be because “gay” has partly lost its sexual connotations among young people, he says. While still pejorative, for the majority of youngsters it has replaced words such as “lame”.

Still, the article has pointed out something equally valid:

But while “gay” may have changed for some, it is still being used as a means of bullying, as are many other homophobic insults (see table, above). Last year, the Westminster government announced the first guidelines for schools on how to deal with homophobic bullying.

I don’t think that this issue is limited to the UK, though. We might very well hear of similar goings on in other countries.

Brit slang
Anyone who has tried learning English and not knowing that there is a difference between the variations of English used around the world would know how confusing it could sometimes be. The mere fact that there is what we call American English and British English provides for some confusion in itself. Add to that the numerous colloquialisms that result in slang and you would be in for a fun ride!

If you grew up in the UK or at least have lived there for many years, then the chances are that you would recognise a lot of British slang. Yet what if you are new to the language (British English)? I bet that learning British slang would prove to be a totally new learning experience. I came across a site called The Very Best of British (The American’s guide to speaking British) and I really had a grand time browsing through the extensive list of slang.

Here’s a sneak peek:

All right? – This is used a lot around London and the south to mean, “Hello, how are you”? You would say it to a complete stranger or someone you knew. The normal response would be for them to say “All right”? back to you. It is said as a question. Sometimes it might get expanded to “all right mate”? Mostly used by blue collar workers but also common among younger people.

Any road – Up north (where they talk funny!!) instead of saying anyway, they say “any road”! Weird huh?

Belt up - For some reason I heard this quite a lot as a kid. It’s the British for shut up.

Those are just few of what I thought I could start using – and be laughed at for not being understood outside of Britain! ;)

And I can’t even get a prescription! Ha ha, here is a piece of odd news that I read on the Telegraph’s site:

Increasing numbers of British pets are being given Prozac to help them battle against depression, a leading veterinary expert has revealed. Tropical birds such as parrots are the worst affected by depression, according to television vet Romain Pizzi. Mr Pizzi, who presents Creature Clinic on BBC3 and is a specialist in zoo and wildlife medicine for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, said pets are affected when owners leave them alone for hours on end.

He said: “Contrary to some people’s expectations parrots are very intelligent and sensitive animals. Typically if people go out to work all day their parrot will get very bored and frustrated and eventually develop depression. Symptoms often include plucking out their feathers or self-harming, which is obviously very dangerous. When Cockatoos in particular are depressed they can start to self-mutilate and peck their own legs to the bone.”

I do not know if this is a British peculiarity as I have not really run across news items about other countries doing the same thing. If there is one thing that this says about the British, though, it would be that they do love their pets. Wouldn’t you agree? I’d say that if you didn’t have enough time to spend with a pet, though, it might be better to simply NOT get a pet in the beginning. What do you think?

queue at Heathrow
Easter has always been a good time to get away from the city and soak up some sun in other places. This year, however, it seems that traveling at Easter may not be a good idea at all. According to reports, travelers will be experience longer delays than usual. This is due to several factors, including the number of people who are planning on going on trips at this time of the year.

The Sunday Mirror reports:

Time wasted clearing some security controls has more than DOUBLED in the past year and TREBLED at some customs.

Passengers have ranked Manchester the worst airport for hold-ups, taking about 23 minutes to clear security and 50 minutes for customs.

Airline check-in times add to delays.

East Midlands Airport was second worst and Heathrow third in the list.

Travel firm boss David Speakman, who set up the website said: “The delays, created by management inefficiency and insufficient staff, are horrendous.”

Worst airport delays in minutes for security/customs: Manchester 23/50, East Mids 45/19, Heathrow 47/15, Liverpool 35/15, Birmingham 40/3, Stansted 21/22, Gatwick 22/17.

If you are one of the millions who have plans to travel this Easter, you may want to check out UK Airport Delays for more specific information. Of course, if your plans are already set, you just have to make adjustments and take the delays into consideration. If your plans are flexible, you may want to go some place else whereby you wouldn’t have to queue up at the airports.

Easter is one of my favorite times of the year. It may not be as festive as Christmas, but its meaning never ceases to make me pause for a while and reassess my beliefs once again. In the UK, Easter does not mean differently from how other culture perceives it. The tradition of Easter lies basically in the same ideology – the crucifixion of Christ.

In the UK, Easter can be celebrated during different periods of the year. It ranges from the end of March to the end of April. The Friday before and the Monday after Easter are both considered bank holidays, giving an additional bonus for people who wish to have an extended break. The Friday before Easter is called Good Friday. This is the day when Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Christ. Services are held in churches all over the country and it is considered a day of mourning as well.

The day before Good Friday is called Maundy Thursday and focuses more on the Last Supper of Christ. There is a special ceremony in the UK, called the Ceremony of the Royal Maundy, wherein the Queen participates in distributing Maundy Money to senior citizens who are considered of exceptional worth to their community.

Though Easter has its roots in religious activities, there are many people today who celebrate it for less spiritual reasons. It is also considered a time to take a break from daily living and time to spend with family and friends.

hot cross bun
Shame on me – I never really associated this delectable baked goodie with Easter until I read Julie’s post about it in her blog, A Mingling of Tastes. She shares:

Even though I was Catholic growing up, I probably never would have eaten a hot cross bun if it weren’t for that cute little song , which I probably learned in pre-school or someplace like that. With such a catchy tune running through my head, I naturally wanted to eat a hot cross bun. Luckily, a bakery near our house made them during lent, and I remember liking the sweet little yeast rolls studded with bits of fruit and spices.

What we know as a hot cross bun became popular in Tudor England in the 1500s, but the pagan inhabitants of the British Isles probably made similar bread marked with a cross to honor Eostre, their goddess of light for whom Easter was named, according to the Oxford Companion to Food. This tradition of offering bread to the gods goes back to the Greeks and Romans and even further to the Egyptians who took a great leap toward modern civilization when they traded blood sacrifices for far less messy offerings of bread.

Today, hot cross buns aren’t really an offering, but a traditional holiday food eaten on Good Friday (also known as “the day of the cross”) and throughout Lent to remind us of Jesus’ cross.

Like her, I probably first heard of the buns from that nursery rhyme that every little kid knows. What I didn’t know was their pagan origins. Oh well, the buns are good. Why not try serving them come Good Friday? Julie shares a recipe in her blog as well.

simnel cake
Ever heard of this? If you’re not British then the chances are that you have not. Simnel cake is traditionally considered to be especially associated with Easter in Britain. Though not everyone has a Simnel cake for Easter anymore, they can still be seen in shops during this particular season.

Simnel cake is actually a rich fruity cake which has its roots in the old days when common people worked as servants for the rich and powerful. In those days, around the 17th century, maid servants usually lived in the house of their masters and were allowed Sundays off. On the 4th Sunday of the Lent, they were allowed to make a rich fruity cake (the Simnel cake) and take it to their mothers. The highlight of this cake was 11 marzipan balls which were represented the 11 apostles of Christ – note that one is missing, representing Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus.

Want to know how make simnel cake? Try this recipe from Eat The Blog:

½ cup butter
1-cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ cup brandy
1 ½ cups applesauce
1-pound raisins
1 cup diced glace cherries
1 cup diced candied peel
1 cup diced citron
2 cups chopped dates

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Grease and flour a large springform pan (2 ½-3 quart)

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time. Sift dry ingredients. Reserve three tablespoons for later. Mix the fruits well in another bowl. Stir the flour into the eggs/butter mixture alternating with brandy. Toss the fruit with the reserved flour and stir into mixture. Spoon into pan and just to be safe, place pan on a baking sheet. Bake about 1-½ hours, though mine took nearly two hours. Cool, remove from pan and cool completely on rack.

Make recipe for buttercream. Make the twelve balls first (with a few extra for mistakes) and set in freezer to be dipped. Roll out remaining buttercream and top cake. Finish dipping buttercream balls in white chocolate and set atop cake using eleven balls to represent the true Apostles (leave Judas off) and wrap in a bow if you like (hopefully you make nicer bows than I ).

UK education
Indeed, why? There are countless universities all over the world which offer high quality education. Why would a student single out the UK to get his or her education? Then again, why not?

Well I suppose a quarter million students from various countries around the world cannot be wrong. This is the estimated number of foreign students that are currently studying in British universities. So why are these foreign students opting to leave the land they call their home to get an education in a strange nation? The answer could only be that UK universities have the best reputation.

This is true – even in the United States, a British education can be considered a plus. After all, countless of brilliant minds throughout history have proven that an education in the UK is worth one’s weight in gold. Today, the British Council continues to provide assistance to people who want to take a shot at earning a degree in one of the country’s many learning institutions. They provide valuable information to help people of other nations know more about the educational system and what they would need to enroll in a British university.

More than the education that goes on in the classrooms, the UK offers a sort of a real world educational experience. Being composed of a hodgepodge of people from various cultures, living and studying in the UK exposes students to different walks of life, different ways of thinking. So if you want one of the best – if not THE best – learning experiences both in and out of the classroom, you just might want to check out studying in the UK.