The City of Canals


Have you ever wondered why people would build a city over a bunch of islands?

118 islands to be exact?

Well, one good reason would be to escape an army of horseman led by the Scourge of God himself aka (also known as) Attila the Hun.

Perhaps you have heard of him in your history class. His ancient Hunnic empire stretched from central Asia all the way across to modern-day France with its headquarters in Pannonia, in today’s Hungary.

He had such a terrible reputation in most of Europe, especially in the Roman Empire, that when he invaded modern day Italy from the north in the year of 452 people from cities in his army’s path fled into the marshes to escape the attack and this has led to the founding of modern-day Venice, also called The City of Canals.

So, the next time you have the good fortune of visiting this beautiful city you might want to remember this little tidbit.

I did and told this story to my son when we were standing on the Rialto Bridge in Venice.

His name is Attila.



The Black Shuck. Part 2 of 3.


The Black Shuck according to legend, first appeared in the summer of 1577 when a horrible storm shook the town of Bungay, Suffolk.

The locals people took refuge in the church, when, suddenly a massive crack of lightning caused the doors of the church to burst open, and, in the middle of the church…. a massive ghostly black dog appeared.

It had flaming red eyes like the devil. It attacked anyone who crossed its path. Before it disappeared and moved on to a nearby town, where it began all over again.


To be continued………



“Little Molly”, The Pig Born With Wings


(Actual photo of “Little Molly”) Image courtesy of www.


Don’t believe that pigs can fly? Well think again.

According to Mark Miller, who is a journalist, humorist and author on, thanks to genetic modification, pigs can fly.

In a groundbreaking development at the Veterinary Sciences Division at Queens University Belfast, Ireland, research specialist Dr. Kevin O’Farrell has successfully combined the DNA of a pig and an eagle to create a flying pig, or a “peagle,” as O’Farrell has dubbed the new critter.

O’Farrell was jubilant as “the little porker, Molly, began flapping her wings and straight away flew out of the laboratory, down the hallway and out the front door!”

Belfast citizens were shocked. “I couldn’t believe my eyes,” exclaims waitress Catherine Cassidy. “That white and brown pig passed right overhead, and fast, too, making both pig and eagle sounds! I nearly wet myself!”

Shoe repair store owner, Gilbert Fitzpatrick, was just leaving his shop when “both pig and bird poop fell from above to the street in front of me. I looked up, saw a small pig with wings flying overhead, and made a vow right then and there to give up drinking!” Fortunately, an Irish Air Corps jet was able to intercept and safely capture the peagle, and then return it safely to O’Farrell.



Is There Such a Thing as Bad Weather?


All of us have experienced some plan being disrupted by bad weather. We were planning to go out, but it rained, so we stayed at home. We were out, but then the weather was too cold, so we went inside. Bad weather is a nuisance, but what if there was no bad weather? How wonderful that would be! Our plans would never be ruined by the weather.

In the Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Norway, the people don’t let the bad weather ruin their plans. In fact, for these people there is no such thing as bad weather. That’s right! Swedes and Norwegians say, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” In Swedish and Norwegian, the words for “weather” rhyme with the words for “clothes” giving this saying a singsong feel.

So, the next time the weather looks like it might disrupt your plans, just remember, the weather is not the problem, the problem is your clothes.


Climbing a mountain.



Have you ever climbed a mountain?

Why would you want to, you ask? But of course, because it’s there! So, why not give it a try? Mt. Fuji is right there, ready for the taking. Just strap on a pair of hiking boots, grab some rain gear, just in case, and off you go. Pick a sunny, mid-summer day and enjoy the great outdoors.

It is exactly what Yuchiro Miura did, however his mountain of choice was not Mt. Fuji, rather the highest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest! And the man wasn’t some wide-eyed teenager either, the last time he climbed Mt. Everest, the last time because he had reached the summit not once, not twice but three times!, he was at the ripe age of 80 years and 224 days. Which makes him the oldest person to have ever climbed the mountain. The first time he reached the summit he was 70, the second time he did it he was 75 and the last time he climbed, in 2013, he was over 80! That is an achievement probably never to be bested.  So, the next time you are facing some difficulty and are ready to give up just think of Mr. Miura, let him be your guiding example of grit, will and perseverance.



The Black Shuck. Part 1 of 3


With it being Setsubun season in Japan and the time to keep evil spirits away; I will share with you a tail of evil that existed (or still exists) near my hometown in England a long long time ago.

This is the story, myth or even legend of folklore……… of The Black Shuck.

The Black Shuck, is said to roam the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.

The Black Shuck is the name given to a ghostly mysterious shape with fiery eyes and of immense size, and who visits churchyards at midnight.

To be continued…………


Love Is In the Air


                                                                         In the land where people give chocolates to everyone (spouses, family, co-workers, and even teachers) Valentine’s Day can be very confusing in Japan. In the US couples usually give flowers, a nice box of chocolates, or even jewelry to their sweetheart. Children give a card and candy hearts to each other in kindergarten or elementary school. I recall my first year in Japan when a co-worker gave me some chocolates and I was thinking, “does she like me?” It took a little a research to understand it was just an appreciation gift. But what is love? Some people say it is a feeling. I believe it has more to do with uncompromising acceptance of another person. I believe, “ Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.” Happy Valentine’s Day!!


What is Boxing Day and where is it celebrated?


クリスマス翌日のボクシング・デーとは? 歴史や背景など | DMM ...

The name “Boxing Day” came from the boxes placed in churches for the collection of donations for those in need. On December 26, clergy members of the church would take these boxes and give the donations and food to the poor in honour of the feast of St. Stephen, a Christian martyr known for kindness and charitable acts. St. Stephen holds so much significance that in Ireland, Boxing Day is referred to as St. Stephen Day. Boxing Day is associated with the United Kingdom. Other countries that celebrate it are part of the commonwealth, the nations that used to be British colonies. So, residents from the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand widely observe the holiday.


Happy New Year!


Happy New Year! Miffy and My Melody fans must be happy as it is the year of the rabbit here in Japan. With long ears, cute tails and faces and a gentle hop, rabbits are a well-liked animal around the word. Yet, did you know that there is a rabbit that has horns? That’s right. In the western part of the USA there is a rabbit that has horns. It is called a Jackalope. Jack comes from ‘jackrabbit’, and ‘alope’ is from antelope. Rarely seen, this most unusual rabbit can run at over 100 kilometers per hour, mimic a human voice and sing songs. If you ever get the chance to visit the Western USA, keep your eyes peeled for the Jackalope. You never know when you might see one, but if you don’t, you can always visit the city of Douglas in the state of Wyoming and take your picture with a 2.4-meter-tall statue  of this amazing animal.