Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene risk forces US shutdown

For all of us in the UK the weather is the hot topic of conversation, an icebreaker, a way to chat to strangers, something to say when there is really nothing to say.

We have our headline weather, our floods and tornadoes. They wreck lives and homes and cost insurers millions; but can you imagine a storm so severe that is projected to effect 65 million people? Weather becomes a matter for serious discussion.

President Barack Obama is having these serious discussions right now. Hurricane Irene is currently looming off the east coast of the US with seven states including North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut declaring emergencies ahead of her arrival. It is thought that she will take a path from Washington to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston - the most densely populated corridor in America.

Irene is expected to hit the coast of North Carolina on Saturday before barrelling northwards to Washington and New York City a day later. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in in parts of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina and in low lying areas of the nation's biggest city, New York.

The storm is already causing transport problems ahead of her arrival. In New York the state's transport network including the New York City subway will close from midday in Saturday. Meanwhile Amtrak, America's passenger rail service, announced it was cancelling train travel south of Washington on the east coast, and airlines have predicted widespread disruptions to flights.

Irene may be an unwelcome guest, but with force winds extending 90 miles from her centre, and tropical storm winds reaching up to 290 miles from the eye, she's someone you just don't mess with.

Congratulations to Amanda Holden

After their heartbreaking start to the year, BDT were over the moon on Wednesday to hear of Amanda Holden's pregnancy to Chris Hughes.

Amanda broke the news on her website, stating 'Chris, Lexi and I are delighted to announce that I am pregnant and we are expecting a little girl'. The headline was accompanied by the following statement:
The first half of this year has been unbelievably difficult for us and so we are beyond delighted to share this news with you. My first priority is of course my family.I will therefore be adjusting one of my professional commitments accordingly.Due to its physical content this means I will end my contract with Shrek The Musical eight weeks early. I will endeavour to continue the show until the 3rd October. I do however ask you to bear with me as I will be putting myself and this pregnancy first. I have taken medical advice and although I am a strong girl and this is 'once again' a good healthy pregnancy I will absolutely not be taking any risks. Your ongoing support for us this year has been so touching. We are enormously grateful.  Thank you so much for your understanding. Amanda xxxxxx
London Theatre Direct

We wish Amanda, Chris and Lexi all the best wishes in the world and look forward to hearing more pregnancy news over the coming months. 

It has been confirmed that Kimberly Walsh, friend of Cheryl Cole and Girls Aloud band member will replace Amanda as Princess Fiona in the stage production of Shrek The Musical. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tesco Invites You To Create Your Own Sausage!

Have you ever come up with a flavour combination and thought to yourself "Now that would make a great sausage?!" Well, with Tesco Finest's new competition, you could see your daydreams become a reality with their competition to create your own sausage!

The guidelines are "The winning sausage needs to fit with the Finest* range, so think about quality, freshness, provenance and a great tasting combination of flavours" and entries must consist of up to three ingredients that would be added to a British pork sausage to make a fantastically flavourful offering.

Here at BDT we've been doing some brainstorming and we think that a pork sausage with chili, garlic and ginger would be fab, and even considered something a bit more out there like pork and plum.

The winner of the competition will be involved in development, working with the Chef at Midshire Foods in Leicester, as well as having the illustrious honour of having their face on the packaging when their sausages hit the shelves!

Head over to the Tesco Real Food site now for more details on how to enter. Good luck to everyone, we can't wait to taste the winning banger!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lingerie for 4 to 12 year olds?

Yes you read right, there is now a lingerie line aimed purely at children between the ages of 4 and 12 called ‘Jours Apres Lunes’, which designs ‘loungewear’ or ‘loungerie’ for young children. It’s quite interesting that this should occur not long after the uproar surrounding Thylane Blondeau’s provocative cover shots for French magazine Cadeaux, in which the 10 year old girl was made up to look like a woman.

These children, or toddlers in some cases, are made to look far more grown up than they are, with faces full of make-up, scantily-clad and lounging provocatively for the camera. But one has to ask, is this ok? Are we Brits really showing our world-famous prudishness or are the French displaying a blatant disregard for our children’s innocence? Surely if we were to search for these type of images without thinking of this designer we’d be in trouble for downloading child pornography, and the photographer shamed as some sort of paedophile? But because it’s a designer suddenly this sexualisation of children is acceptable.

Take a look at the pictures below and decide for yourselves....

Friday, August 12, 2011

Life is gay on Sesame Street

So it transpires that Bert and Ernie who hail from arguably the most famous street in the world, Sesame Street, are in fact not gay. Who’d have thunk it eh. The Sesame Street workshop has been forced to issue a statement which essentially acquits the pair from any extra-curricular relations with one another following an online petition calling for the Workshops to allow the bachelors to get married on the street.

Photo by John E. Barrett. TM & © 2007 Sesame Workshop

Lair Scott from Illinois started the petition in an effort to try and show young people that it’s okay to be gay and that homophobia, especially in the media, will not be tolerated in society, however the official statement from the Sesame Street Workshop denies that Bert or Ernie even HAVE a sexual orientation and thus wouldn’t be able to marry. Children all over the world have grown up with Sesame Street and the antics of this pair have been witnessed by many generations over the 40 years they’ve been roommates. The characters were developed as a way to show children that despite vast differences between people, it’s still possible to get on, be civilised and share friendships and experiences together and Bert and Ernie show with great ease that that’s possible.

The notion that they’re gay seems preposterous to those who watched them in their youth, however it could be argued that all the clues are there; they live together, they share the same bedroom, heck they’ve been together longer than most marriages these days! It’s not the first time accusations of hidden agendas in kids shows has been brought up, rumours about the sexuality of Zippy, George and Bungle from the 1980’s show Rainbow are still rife today, and don’t even get started on the character names from Captain Pugwash. However, the show is aimed at pre-schoolers so do they really need to know about such in-depth aspects of relationships at that age or should the focus be more on friendships rather than sexual relationships or sexuality of any kind? Such political undertones are perhaps too complex and unnecessary at such a young age, besides, if they’re trying to teach kids about real world relationships then they’d have to make Bert and Ernie get divorced after a couple of years and have a long and drawn out mediation over the prenup. Hey, I’m just saying...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Discount? Don't mind if I do!

Our new alternative fashion section has been going down a storm with you folks so here's something to make it even easier to rock the looks that we'll be showing you!

Those lovely folks over at KatesClothing saw that we mentioned their beautiful Steampunk brown suede boots in our Steampunk Head-to-Toe feature and decided to offer a 5% discount off a single purchase to all BDT readers! How fab is that? So get yourself over to KatesClothing, choose something gorgeous and at the checkout enter the code BDT666. Simple as that!

Pop over to KatesClothing to find loads of splendid things like these

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Panic on the streets

Panic on the streets of London

Panic on the streets of Birmingham

I wonder to myself

Could life ever be sane again?

Those lyrics by The Smiths are worryingly apt at the moment. Trouble has been brewing for a few days now. It started on Saturday evening as a candle-lit vigil to honour 29 year old Mark Duggan, shot dead by police during an attempted arrest last Thursday. It stayed as a peaceful protest for two hours whilst 120 of Duggan’s friends and family congregated outside Tottenham Police Station asking for answers. But as rumours spread and darkness fell, there was a change in the atmosphere and hooded youths and gang members started to turn up. By 8pm the violence had begun, Twitter and Facebook were being used to encourage people to join the disturbance and Tottenham soon became engulfed with rioters. As the night wore on, the violence simply escalated further and further. Hordes of people were looting shops and businesses and other buildings were being set alight.

The next morning we were left with some appalling images and a sense of shock. Perhaps what is most shocking however is that Saturday was just the start. The violence and unrest has now spread across the country. It is so far ranging that The Telegraph even has an interactive map on its website. Last night panic and rumour were abound on Twitter – London, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Wolverhampton; the place names were flying about in terror. Some were true, confirmed by BBC news, others only gossip. The feeling of alarm was almost palpable; it was like a horrible game of Chinese Whispers and did nothing to allay the commotion.

By now it has become sadly apparent that far from being any sort of political or civil protest, the riots are just an excuse for criminal behaviour: Arson, looting and violence towards police. Stories of mobile phone shops having every handset taken, jewellery stores being raided, HD TVs, alcohol and clothing being taken, have become commonplace. There were calls for the army to be called in, water cannons to be used. People are starting to ask why the police allowed things to go so far. Why were stronger measures not taken? Why did it take David Cameron so long to return from Italy? And most concerning; will there be another night of unrest tonight? Views are torn with Theresa May, Home Secretary saying “The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon. The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities.” but Conservative MP Patrick Mercer declares “I find it strange that we are willing to use these sort of measures against the Irish yet when Englishmen step out of line and behave in this atrocious and appalling way, we are happy to mollycoddle them. If the police want cannon then they should be allowed to use them. I have used water cannon myself and I found them extremely effective”.

David Cameron has now returned to the UK and is due to give a statement this morning. As for further conflict, we can only hope that sense prevails and no more clashes occur – not least because of the damage it is doing to the lives of individuals and to the recovering economy of the country as a whole. To end on a note of hope that society is in fact not crumbling, we can see people banding together this morning for the riot clean up. If you want to join in or support those who are, you can find more information here.

What are your thoughts? Have you or anyone you know been affected? Please let us know.

Our thoughts are with you all.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau has caused quite a stir lately following her rather provocative photo shoot for Vogue magazine in which she was made up in skimpy clothes and thick make-up to resemble a model who could easily pass for much older than the 10 years she is in reality.

Family campaigners are up in arms about this needless and premature sexualisation of children and are working on an initiative with the government to restrict advertising and media of this nature.

Many of the BDT gang are appalled by the photos which resulted from this shoot, many of them being mothers themselves they are fearful of the free presentation of such a young child in this way but it always pays to look from both sides of the fence doesn’t it.

How many girls when they were little used to dress up in their mothers clothes and put on her heels and perfume and jewellery? Scores of little girls over the generations have played grown-ups and tried to make themselves look older, it’s no big deal and no one scowls at them for it, it’s just that usually they don’t have stylists and make-up artists to help them but really, is there a vast difference between playing grown-ups with your friends and doing it for a magazine?

And what about the thousands of little girls who DO have stylists and make-up artists (aka Mum/Mom) who doll them up for competing in beauty pageants? A quick Google for ‘child beauty pageants’ reveals an endless stream of Barbie lookalike pre-tweens who’ve spent their childhoods perfecting their posture, smiles and learning that if anyone asks you what you want most in life, the answer is ALWAYS ‘World Peace’. The sexualisation of these infants is no different to that of Thylane in her Vogue shoot, it’s just a little more pretty princess in a castle and a little less animal print chaise lounge in a boudoir.

And finally, what about the families who flock to Hollywood each and every year with their mini-me’s in the hope of securing them a glittering future in showbiz and a life of luxury? A new documentary begins on Channel 4 tomorrow detailing the lives of budding child actors, many of whom live with their families in temporary furnished accommodation such as the Oakwood Apartments during the ‘pilot season’ (spring – when casting is done for pilots of new series’). If these children are successful they will be thrust into a celebrity world they’re not prepared for and have little means of controlling and this can be severely damaging to their experience of growing up, you just need to look at the likes of Michael Jackson or Drew Barrymore to substantiate that theory.

So whilst Thylane’s photo shoot is indeed controversial and people are justified in their disapproval or disgust at it, it may be prudent to cast the net of judgement a little wider and appreciate that this is simply one of many examples of what could be considered exploitation and sexualisation of our children. As far as the latter goes, it’s certainly not the worst example which has ever come to light but does prove once again that this is no laughing matter and that our children need to be protected against their adulthood until they’re mature enough to understand it and decide what they want to do with it.

One Plus One Equals Eleven

If Carol Vorderman was given a 3 minute slot on BBC Breakfast this morning to talk about a piece of research she’s helped commission, and she ended up talking for 4 minutes, what percentage of her original time allocation did she over-run by? Well according to the research she was discussing, not many of us would be able to give her the right answer as it shows that up to three quarters of children who achieve a pass in GCSE maths can’t work out simple fractions or percentages.

The research was commissioned by David Cameron and Michael Gove before the general election and the results are shocking to say the least. They show that almost half of students fail maths at GCSE (don’t get a grade C or above) and that only 15% of students continue to study maths beyond GCSE compared to 100% in some industrialised nations. This obviously has serious implications for these students into their adult life and will no doubt have an effect on the economy – many jobs nowadays call for a minimum of 3 GCSE’s at grade C or above including maths and English and if Vorders is right and 24% of economically active adults are ‘functionally innumerate’ then the futures of our children really could be in trouble.

The research makes 11 recommendations which range from aiming to achieve results comparable to those in top performing countries to making maths a compulsory subject up the age of 18 in an effort to ensure the mathematical prowess of our future generations.

One of the comments Vorders made in her interview pricked up some ears over here at BDT HQ though. The research also showed that up to a quarter of all students are taught by a non-maths teacher and in some areas no students were taught by a maths teacher. There is a nationwide shortage of specialist mathematics teachers in secondary schools and those who have already fallen behind by age 11 are statistically never likely to be able to catch up again but with no specialist maths teachers their chances drop away to almost nil.

Maybe the answer isn’t to make maths a compulsory subject. There are plans to raise the age of compulsory education over the next 4 years so that by 2015 it will be up to 18 so maybe more students will pick maths if option lists are smaller. Perhaps the answer is to find a way of encouraging more of those people who did well at maths to pay it forward and become maths teachers. There has been a massive increase in the number of adults registering on numeracy and literacy courses over the past few years and whilst it’s good that these adults are keen to put right their educational ‘failings’ it’s a harsh indication of the ways in which the UK education system has let them down.

A recent TV ad campaign has made efforts to tackle this void by attempting to show that maths and science are useful and essential skills to have in a range of different jobs from being a cosmetic specialist to a video games designer, however if the specialist staff and teachers aren’t in place in the schools then no amount of enthusiasm is going to help children who are keen to learn. It’s a self-perpetuating problem though – too many children are leaving school without proper numeracy skills which leaves a smaller percentage of those who actually go into teaching with sufficient ability to properly teach maths.

So, what’s the real solution?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Playbook gives the iPad a run for its money

Well there's something I never thought I'd get to type! Since the iPad was launched Apple's power over all things geek seems to have become unshakable. People have queued through all weather to get their hands on Apple products, they rave about them on social networks and they love them like their own children! But the times they are a changing, and there's a new kid on the block!

Blackberry launched their Playbook with an ingenius advertising campaign that had us at the BDT office chuckling every time we saw it! The theme tune to "Flash Gordon" combined with some, not so, sly digs at the iPad made sure we all knew that it could do things that Apple couldn't!

And now, only 4 months after its launch in the US, the Playbook has become the number 1 geek search term according to, who have seen the Playbook increase in popularity to finally give Apple a real rival in the tech market.

So is this the end of Apple? We don't think so, but maybe it will force them to work a little bit harder now they've got competition!

If you're looking at buying a tablet then make sure you check out the Top 5 Tablet PCs to make sure you get exactly what you want from your new tech!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

August - Brew Drinking Thinkings Issue 13 is LIVE

© Marc Jacobs AW11/12

Brew Drinking Thinkings August issue is now live over on the main website. Check out our Mr. Men special, celebrating 40 years of the Roger Hargreaves series. Other features include Helena Bonham Carter Fashion, lots of yummy recipes and plenty to feast your eyes on over in Film. If you fancy something daring this month don't forget to check out our new Alternative Fashion section or if you're in the holiday mood head over to the brand spanking new Travel & Culture page. 

For a full list of competitions and vacancies with Brew Drinking Thinkings - check out the newsletter on our homepage

We hope you enjoy! We've loved putting it together. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Times, Are They A' Changin'?

Leeds is bidding to become the first breastfeeding friendly city in England.

NHS Leeds has been working with local mums to discover what barriers they face when looking to breastfeed their babies in public. Now the Leeds NHS is directing its attention to the residents of the city, working with them and local businesses to create an environment in which breastfeeding mums are welcomed, supported and made to feel comfortable.

John Lawlor, Chief Executive for NHS Leeds, says: “It is really important that mums are given all the support they need when feeding their children. I’m delighted that all NHS trusts in the city and Leeds City Council are supporting this initiative so that we can proudly claim that Leeds is Breastfeeding Friendly. Now we need the support of local businesses and community organisations. All they need to do is sign up to the scheme and receive a free resource pack including display materials.”

The NHS is rigorous in its backing of any scheme that promotes breastfeeding. Breastfeeding brings a wide range of health benefits to both babies and mums: fewer infections and protection against conditions such as obesity and diabetes in later life for babies; easier weight loss and protection against some forms of cancer for mums. The better health that results from breastfeeding results in fewer doctors’ appointments and hospital admissions. This results in huge costs savings for the NHS which can be directed to other services.

Although this may sound like a lofty ambition, local officials have passionately supported the campaign. In taking part, local businesses can help make a difference to the lives of mums and babies across the city. It is free for businesses to join and a resource pack is provided. Tom Riordan, Chief Executive for Leeds City Council, confirms his support for the campaign: “Leeds City Council has been working with the National Childbirth Trust for a number of years to make sure that all our facilities are welcoming environments for breastfeeding mums. Our support for the Leeds Breastfeeding Friendly campaign confirms our commitment to mums and babies in the city.”

Unlike previous campaigns elsewhere, Leeds Breastfeeding Friendly has been developed in partnership with local mums. Utilising the experience of breastfeeding mothers in the area, the campaign is backed by parents passionate about the cause. Leeds already has a low breastfeeding rate. Perhaps because breastfeeding is least common in more disadvantaged areas, increasing breastfeeding in public places could make a significant difference to health and wellbeing within some of the most disadvantaged communities in Leeds.

If you are a business owner based in Leeds, it costs nothing to support the campaign and to become Breastfeeding Friendly?

All the campaign is looking for you to do is:

• Display the Breastfeeding Friendly Leeds campaign materials in your venue to let mums know you are breastfeeding friendly;
• Ensure you and your staff actively welcome breastfeeding mums and allow them to breastfeed in all public areas; and
• Educate staff in the benefits of breastfeeding and how to deal with members of the public who are negative towards breastfeeding mums either vocally or through their behaviour.

Only by taking these few small steps can we change attitudes towards breastfeeding in public. To help local mums find out where Breastfeeding Friendly venues are in Leeds a dedicated website has been set up: