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  1. Let’s hear it for Winnie the Pooh and his friends on Winnie the Pooh Day, which takes place on 18th January each year.

    It’s a time to sit back, perhaps with a little pot of something – honey, perhaps – and to celebrate the joys of A A Milne’s books about Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood (Ashdown Forest). Winnie-the-Pooh or The House at Pooh Corner make for a lovely read, and it’s easy to get lost in their adventures in the wood.  

    There are some wonderful stories in them – and some amazing lessons in life, as well, which are as true today as they were when A.A. Milne penned them back at the start of the twentieth century.


    Get Winnie the Pooh gift ideas from Foyles
    Get Winnie the Pooh gift ideas from Foyles

    So here are 7 ways to celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day….

    1. Go and play Pooh sticks, of course!   This is great fun and a wonderful way to get out for a good brisk walk to find a bridge to launch your sticks from.
    2. Read Winnie the Pooh or the House at Pooh Corner.  
    3. Enjoy some elevenses of honey and a little something.
    4. If you live close enough, go to Ashdown Forest in Sussex and have a good wander.   And if you can’t get to the Forest, visit their website!  They’ve even got a section of it dedicated to Winnie the Pooh!
    5. If you don’t live in Sussex, head to your nearest wood and go off on a search to find the North Pole, or a Heffalump.
    6. Become a Friend of the Forest and help conserve the forest.
    7. Have a read of some of the sayings from Winnie the Pooh.  They have a great deal of wisdom in them!

     Three Cheers for Winnie the Pooh!
    Three Cheers for Winnie the Pooh!

    Some of my favourite Winnie the Pooh sayings are...

    Never let things come to you, go out and fetch them - Winnie the Pooh

    It isn’t much good having anything exciting, if you can’t share it with somebody – Winnie the Pooh

    A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference - Eyeore

    You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes – Winnie the Pooh

    A hug is always the right size – Winnie the Pooh

    "It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like, ‘What about lunch?” - Winnie the Pooh

    “Before beginning a Hunt, it is wise to ask someone what you are looking for before you begin looking for it.” - Winnie the Pooh

    "The things that make me different are the things that make me." – Piglet"The most important thing is, even when we're apart, I'll always be with you." - Christopher Robin

    "You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." – Christopher Robin

     Take a few moments to reflect on these on the 2020 Winnie the Pooh Day!

    A.A.Milne wrote the Winnie the Pooh stories for his son, Christopher Robin.  The characters were based upon the real nursery toys belonging to him, and their adventures are set in Ashdown Forest, where the family lived.

    E.H. Shepard drew Pooh and his friends.  I love his drawings for their simplicity.  They say everything without being pretentious, and indeed they have become classics. 

    Three Cheers for Pooh, the most wonderful Pooh!

     

  2.  

    Robert Burns Night is on 25th January every year, around Burns’ birthday.. It combines haggis, whisky and poetry with a great night out.

    Burns Night celebrates good fellowships and the works of Robert Burns, a national poet. 

    Today there are Burns Nights all over the country, and most start with a grace, generally the Selkirk Grace which is attributed to Burns.

    Some have meat and cannot eat.
    Some cannot eat that want it:
    But we have meat and we can eat,
    Sae let the Lord be thankit.

    Then it’s time to address the haggis; a piper leads the procession of the haggis which the chef carries on a platter.  They circle the room, the guests clapping them in time to the music. 

    There is a fundraising appeal to save Robert Burns' Cottage
    There is a fundraising appeal to save Robert Burns' Cottage with the National Trust for Scotland

    And then the haggis is presented in front of the Addresser who recites the Address to the Haggis.  He gives the chef and piper a glass of whisky, and everyone toasts the haggis.  And then it’s time for the chef to leave with the haggis and prepare it for the meal.  Of course, it’s usual for other courses to be served – pudding, for example!

    After eating, there’s speeches and entertainment, which all kick off with a toast the monarch – the Loyal Toast.  And then there’s a toast to the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns, followed by a Toast to the Lassies – Burns appreciated women. And then there’s a reply to the Toast to the Lassies which is generally funny.   Finally, the ladies present applaud and toast the “Laddies” present.

    There maybe more toasting after that – the guests, absent friends, Scotland and a vote of thanks.    There’s certainly entertainment, generally with recitations and music. 

    And the night ends with – what else – a rendition of Auld Lang Syne and three cheers! 

    For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne.
    We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, For auld lang syne.

    The first one was held back in 1801 in Burns Cottage, Alloway – you can visit it at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.  The three room cottage is where Burns was born and lived until he was 7 years old – and you can see the box bed he shared with three of his siblings!  They lived side by side with their farm animals, and eat their meals in the kitchen together.  

    Find out more from the National Trust for Scotland

    At the moment the National Trust for Scotland is running a fundraising appeal for urgent restoration works that need to be done on the cottage.  You can donate here

    The National Trust for Scotland has a recipe for cheese and haggis scones - why not give them a go?

     

  3. One, two, three, four…..  Oh, that penguin moved!!!!!!!  One, two, three, four…..

    It’s been a busy start of the year for Keepers at ZSL London Zoo. They’ve been doing their annual stocktake of animals at the zoo.

    Now this is more complex than it sounds. There are over 500 species to count, and of course it’s easier to count some animals than others.

    The lions for instance are fairly straight forward as the photo shows…


    Keepers were kept busy counting all creatures great and small at ZSL London Zoo


    However, others are more difficult.  The BUGS team have to cheat a bit and count ant colonies as one – the alternative is to track hundreds of individual ants.

    They have been counting everything from mammals and birds to reptiles and fish.

    2019 saw the arrival of many new animals at the zoo, including Elio, the two toed sloth, and star the tamandua, both born in the Zoo’s Rainforest Life exhibit. 

    Four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo – they had been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade;  they will need to be added to the 2020 census 

    So why do ZSL staff do this annual stocktake?

    Well, they are required to do it 

    The annual stocktake is a requirement of ZSL London Zoo’s license.  It takes staff almost a week to do; and the information is shared with zoos around the world through a database called Species360.  It’s used to manage the worldwide conservation breeding programme for endangered animals.

    Head off to ZSL London Zoo’s website to find out more 

    Why not give your loved one a Keeper for the Day experience?

     

  4. If you’re looking for a gift which gives people a day out, you could take a look at an experience day.

    Red Letter Days has an amazing variety of days out which make for great gifts – you’ll give them the opportunity to create a memory they can look back on with the experience you’ve treated them to!

    Popular days out include The View from the Shard, Kew Gardens, ZSL London Zoo, the O2, the ArcelorMittal Orbit and the Coca Cola London Eye.

    But there are a lot more, including animal experience days, theatre and shows, sightseeing and tours around the country and comedy passes.

    For history lovers, you could give them the chance to have an overnight stay, perhaps with a Castle Escape, or a visit to a historic attraction.   

    Special Offer - 15% off, site wide at Red Letter Days!

    Until 1 April 2020, you can enjoy 15% off all experiences across Red Letter Days’ website.  All you need to do is to use the code RAHW2020 

    The incredible thing about this offer is that it covers experiences already on special offer and 2 for 1s!

    Get 15% off a Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Annual Pass for Two

    The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Annual Pass for Two is already on special offer

    – use the code RAHW2020 until 1 April 2020 to get a further 15% off!

    Entry to The View from The Shard and Cocktails for Two

    Entry to The View from The Shard and Cocktails for Two
    Already on special offer at £59 (was £91.90) - 
    enjoy a further 15% off with the code RAHW2020 until 1 April 2020!
    Find out more

    Comedy Pass for Two Adults

    Comedy Pass for Two Adults is already on special offer from £39.50 to £25.00. 
    Enjoy an extra 15% off with the code RAHW2020, valid until 1 April 2020 
    Find out more

    Visit Red Letter Days’ website to browse and shop!