Cute alert!

Vienna Schönbrunn Zoo's baby panda
Fu Long gave his fans first short
(video) of himself around noon today.
The panda house hasn't been
open to public since his
birth last year but now they
welcome visitors again.



A species of hummingbird makes
a chirping noise with its
tail feathers,
not its throat, a study has suggested.

The exact source of the noise from male
Anna's hummingbirds has been the
subject of debate among researchers.

By using specialised video footage, a team
of US scientists were able to show that male
hummingbirds' tail feathers
vibrated during high-speed dives.


Say hello to Margaret.

She is one of the smallest giraffes ever
born at Chester Zoo but the pint-sized
newcomer will soon be an
animal to look up to.

Little Margaret, who is the first female
Rothschild giraffe born at the zoo,
is being hand-reared by
her dedicated keepers.

The first calf for six-year-old mum Fay,
she was born two weeks early and tipped
the scales at just 34 kg. She is
a mere 5ft (1.52 cm) tall.

Tim Rowlands, team leader of the Giraffes
section, said: “Margaret is potentially
one of the smallest giraffe calves we have
ever seen. Fay isn’t large either and
Margaret was early which
might explain her size."

“Margaret was having difficulty suckling
so our team are now hand-rearing her, the
feeding continues for 11 months until the
baby is weaned. We have a good track
record when it comes to breeding
giraffes and are delighted
to have another in the fold.”

The birth of Margaret - who is named after
Tim’s mum - is very welcome as there
are only 600 Rothschild giraffes
left in the wild in Kenya and Uganda.

You can donate money to the zoo's
Wildest Wishes virtual gift programme

HERE. For instance £20 buys
milk for Margaret.



This could happen only on
the London Underground!



Nature's own art - ice.


If you thought life is bad today,
spare a thought for our
ancestors back in 1812.

Because its miserable 12 months made
it the
worst year ever for Britain,
according to a study released today.

“So many things went wrong in that year -
facets of life that affected all sorts and
conditions for people," said Derek Wilson,
historian and author of the article
published in the BBC's
History magazine.

Other conterders for the
worst year were

AD 60: Nero decided to forcefully strengthen
the Roman invasion with devastating
effects on Britain.

1349: Not only did the Black Death kill
30 per cent of the population, bringing
national morale to an all-time low, but
Edward III lavishly celebrated England's
success in Europe by forming the Order
of the Garter,
unaware that the social
fabric around him was falling apart.

1536: This was the year that the reformation
storm finally burst. King Henry VIII (above)
was like an unpredictable lion whose
claws could lash out against anyone.

1937: Following a brief period of national
optimism, people found themselves
face-to-face with both economic
collapse and the unthinkable – war.



What an amazing story!

A campaign has been launched to build
a permanent memorial to a
bear which
spent much of its life in Scotland -
after fighting in World War II.

The bear named Voytek was adopted in
the Middle East by Polish troops in 1943,
becoming much more than a mascot.

Voytek - known as the Soldier Bear - later
lived near Hutton in the Borders and
ended his days at Edinburgh Zoo.


An astronaut will throw an
origami paper plane from the
International Space Station.

Aeronautical engineers from Tokyo University
will track its every move as it travels, at speeds
of up to Mach 20 - 15,200mph (24462 km/h),
to the Earth 240 miles (386 km) below.

Origami experts will give Japanese astronaut
Koichi Wakata instructions on how to
fold a 20cm-long piece of paper
into a space shuttle.

It will be sprayed with chemicals to give
it a protective glass-type coating and
researchers believe that, despite
hitting 200C, it will not
burn up on re-entry.

Prof Shinji Suzuki said: "The technology
could lead to the development
of a new space plane."

The experiment, due to take place in November,
is the idea of Takuo Toda, head of the
Japan Origami Plane Association.


One good turn deserves another,
even after 65 years.

Usually when the royals receive gifts from
the public they're flowers or drawings by
children. But in this case it was
something a bit more unusual.

Elizabeth Hyde was four when she was
injured by a German bomb near
her South London home in 1943.

She was visited by the Queen Mother,
who had been asked by daughter

Elizabeth to hand out the scarce fruit.

Yesterday, Liz, 69, met the Queen
at a hospital in King's Lynn, Norfolk,
where she lives and returned the favour
by handing her Majesty two bananas.

She said: "It was lovely to be able
to thank her properly at last."


Frozen grass by a lake in Finland.


...it was going to be wet!


How cute?!

This furry crime fighter is a six-week old
German Shepherd from the first
Lothian and Borders Police
dog breeding programme.

The name of the puppy will be
chosen by pupils at
St Ninian's
Primary School in Dundee.

Training will not begin in earnest for
another year-and-a-half, but the pooch
is already being prepared for
life as a general purpose
working police dog.



I've just had a very action packed two
days with my friend Sanna.

On Monday we went to the
Tate Modern,
crossed over the river and had a look at

St Pauls Cathedral, had a wee drinkie
in the pub and then carried
on to the
Museum Of London.

In the evening Karelian Blonde joined
us for a meal in our local

Yesterday we started the day off with a visit
to the
Victoria and Albert Museum and
also popped over to Covent Garden
for a spot of shopping. A drink in my
favourite pub in central London,

The Cross Keys, was of course, a must.

Sanna flew back this afternoon and I'm
pretty much wiped out and ready
for bed so more later!

Here's a few photos
from along the way.

(Please click on the images
to view a larger version)

Sanna in The Cross Keys,
Covent Garden.

Sanna in the Tate Modern with
Doris Salcedo’s "Shibboleth"

It was a bit windy on the
Millenium Bridge!

The clock on the
west face of St. Pauls

Sanna in front of the
main door at St. Pauls

Various miniatures in the
Victoria and Albert Museum.

Costumes in the
Victoria and Albert Museum.

Various exhibitions in the
Victoria and Albert Museum
including one of Princess
Diana's famous dresses
(middle row, far left)

Food, glorious food in Rehab.
The tiramisu was even
better than usually!



My good friend Sanna (below behind me)
flies over on Sunday for a quick visit.

We haven't really discussed
what's on the
schedule yet.

A visit to the Tate was mentioned
which should be interesting.
And no doubt a bit of shopping,
a few drinkies etc.

This will a new record for us meeting wise-
she was here with her daughter Veea
(above on the right) last March,
normally we don't see each other
for years! Welcome Sanna!



First we had Knut, now the Germans
are going loopy over a new celeb cub.

Nuremberg Mayor Ulrich Maly asked a jury
to deliberate on a flood of suggestions -
which arrived in more than 30,000 e-mails
and postcards - for the official name
of the 5-week-old white ball of fluff.

The decision was announced this afternoon:
the newcomer is called Flocke which means
snowflake. The name was originally
given to the cub by the zookeepers
as a nickname.

The bear cub rose to star status after being
taken from her mother, Vera, in the beginning
of the year amid concerns that she
could harm or even kill the newborn.

The Bavarian city's zoo made the decision
to bottle-feed the cub and not return her
to her mother after keepers spotted Vera
carrying the cub around in her jaws
and tossing it around her enclosure.



In Rovaniemi, Finland.



Not long now before we have
a Dog-Human-Dog dictionary!

Hungarian scientists are working on
computer software analysing dog
barks that could allow people to better
recognise dogs' basic emotions,
ethologist Csaba Molnar says.

Molnar and his colleagues at Budapest's
ELTE University say they have tested
software which distinguishes the emotional
reaction of 14 dogs of the
Hungarian Mudi
herding breed to six situations:

When the dog is alone, when it sees a ball,
it fights, it plays, it encounters
a stranger or it goes for a walk.

"A possible commercial application could
be a device for dog-human communication,"
the scientist said.
The computer correctly
recognised the emotional reaction of
the dogs based on their barks and yelps
in 43 percent of the cases. People
had judged correctly in
40 percent of cases.


Polish scientists at Wroclaw University
believe they have discovered the secret
of Kylie Minogue's perfect legs.

Research found the average 5ft 4ins
(1.64 cm) woman would need shapely 30.5in
(77.5 cm) long legs to reach perfection.

However, very long legs are not necessarily
better because the study showed those
with an extra 10% were actually
rated as less attractive.

The findings could explain why Kylie Minogue,
despite being only 5ft tall, regularly tops polls
of the "best celebrity legs".

Although her legs are petite, they are
proportionally long compared with
her small frame, reports
New Scientist.

Kylie's pins are OK but I personally
Tina Turner has the best legs.


Men and women ride horses through flames
during the "Luminarias" annual religious
celebration on the night before Saint
Anthony's, Patron Of Animals, in the
village of San Bartolome de los
Pinares,north west of Madrid.

According to tradition people from the
area ride their horses through the fire
to purify the animals.

(Please click on the image
to view a larger version)


The darkest ever substance known to science
has been made
in Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute in New York.

The material was created from carbon
nanotubes - sheets of carbon just one
atom thick rolled up into cylinders.

Researchers say it is the closest thing
yet to the ideal black material, which
absorbs light perfectly at all angles
and over all wavelengths.




Santa Claus brought me "Notorious",
a biography of Duran Duran.

And then my friend Kirk kindly copied
me a few CD's (thanks honey!)
so I've been in Duran heaven!

I was a huge fan as a teenager and had
all their stuff on vinyl. It's nice to
read the book about how all the
songs came about etc.

I actually met Simon LeBon once, he came
to a leather factory where I worked with his
wife to buy leather for their bed's headboard.
If memory serves me right they
chose a bright pink piece!

It was one of those surreal moments when
somebody is so familiar yet it doesn't
quite register but then after a few
minutes it's like "Oh it's him!"

When you meet someone who's been on
posters all over your bedroom walls
when you were a kid, it's weird...
Nice people though, very pleasant.


These pics are amazing!

(Please click on them
to view a larger version)

Incredibly, everything you see in these
images can be found in the kitchen.

Photographer Carl Warner has
painstakingly captured all kinds
of food in a series of still lifes.

He says his 'Foodscapes' were partly
inspired by healthy eating campaigns.
But they have not persuaded his
own children to take up
the five-a-day pledge.

Edible ingredients he's used include
cumin, peas, broccoli, cauliflower,
bread, lasagne, pine nuts, mozzarella,
peppers, chillies and parmesan.

To give a realistic three-dimensional
feel to the photographs, each still life is
composed on a table measuring
8ft (2.43 m) by 4ft (1.21 m).

The foreground is only about 2ft (60 cm)
across. Each scene is photographed
in separate layers to prevent the food
from wilting. "I like the way smaller
aspects of nature resembled larger
ones," says Mr. Warner.