Just opposite Marble Arch and adjacent to Park Lane, Hyde Park’s Speaker’s corner is the stuff of legends.  Standing in the place where London’s public hangings were held until early 19th Century, Speaker’s corner has been a public meeting place and the heart of free speech in London since the public protests and riots of 1855.  256px-Speakers_corner_-_Muslim_preacher_-_2005-01-30

With notorious speakers such as Marx, Lenin, Orwell and Bernard Shaw, Speaker’s corner has been at the center of protests, from the suffragette movement to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Anyone can take a soap box and speak but contrary to legend, free speech doesn’t mean that the speaker is allowed to say just about anything. Under British law, speakers can be arrested for blasphemy, obscenity, inciting violence and anything derogatory about the Royal Family.

In practice however, the police is fairly lenient and rarely arrests speakers unless a specific complaint has been made or the speaker is clearly inciting violence.

The weekly event draws people by the hundreds. Most of those in the crowd are tourists, but there are a substantial number of locals who come regularly to watch and heckle.

As a general rule, a speaker is given a couple of minutes to start developing his or her speech while a crowd is gathering around and then the heckling starts and so does the fun, as many people will tell you.

Although the greatests minds of our era seem to have deserted Speaker’s corner, it still stands tall as a focal point for free speech in England.

In the last few decades, others cities around England have seen the creation of their own version of Speaker’s corner.


 

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Now that you know the rules of cricket, here is a video of the top 10 Run outs in cricket history.  Who said cricket was a boring game?!

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Summer time is coming and all over England, men in white start appearing on greens and commons to play cricket.

To an outsider, cricket seems really complicated so here is a beginner’s guide to help you understand the basic rules of the game.

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Cricket is played on an oval. A large expanse of green  grass usually surrounded by a white picket fence. In the centre of the oval is the cricket pitch which is a  strip of paler grass with wickets on each end.

 

 

Cricket is played in teams of 11 players. The team which scores the most runs and gets the other team out wins. You score points by running between the wickets, two sets of three wooden sticks or by hitting the ball all the way to the boundaries of the oval.

The bowler must hit the wicket causing the bar at the top to fall. He has to “throw” the ball at the batsmen, in a straight line with his arm going over head, in order for it to be counted. If he crosses that line It’s counted as a “NO BALL” and the umpire gives the opposite team another ball plus a run.

If the ball is bowled to far to the left or right, it’s a WIDE, and the opposite team is given a run. A run equals one point.

The batsmen, from the opposite team, work in pairs to defend the wicket by striking the ball away with their bat. When a batsman manages to hit the ball away from the wicket, batsmen run between the wickets.

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The team can also score 4 to 6 runs if the batsman hits the ball  to the boundaries. This is a fast and efficient way to score runs.

 

 

Each run brings one point. While the batsmen are running, the fielders, who are in the same team as the bowler, try to catch the ball and hit the wicket before a batsman gets to them. There must always be 2 batsmen to play so when the 10th batsman is out, the inning is finished.

The game is played in overs. An over consists of six balls thrown by the bowler. There are hundreds of overs during a match. Each team bats for 50 overs each with a short break in the middle. 50 overs is called an inning.

A cricket match can take a long time to play. In fact, a test cricket match is usually played over a 5 day period with each team having 2 innings.

Photo courtesy of Prescott Pym  https://www.flickr.com/photos/ppym1/87330394/

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Summer is just around the corner, and with it, colourful fruits and berries.  Here is the recipe for a lovely summery dessert.

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Ingredients

300g strawberries

250g blackberries

100g redcurrants

500g raspberries

175g caster sugar

7 slices of slightly stale bread from a square loaf (or alternatively, for a sweeter taste, brioche slices)

Method

  1. Wash and gently dry the fruit on kitchen paper and put the strawberries aside.
  2. Put sugar and 3 tbsp water into a large pan. Gently heat until sugar dissolves, stirring regularly.
  3. Bring to a boil for 1 min, then tip in the fruit except strawberries.
  4. Cook for 3 mins over a low heat, stirring 2-3 times. The fruit will be softened, mostly intact and surrounded by dark red juice.
  5. Put a sieve over a bowl and tip in the fruit and juice.
  6. Line the 1.25-litre basin with cling film as this will help you to turn out the pudding, letting the edges overhang by about 15cm.
  7. Cut the crusts off the bread.
  8. Cut 4 pieces of bread in half, a little on an angle, to give 2 lopsided rectangles per piece.
  9. Cut 2 slices into 4 triangles each and leave the final piece whole.
  10. Dip the whole piece of bread into the juice to coat it.
  11. Push this into the bottom of the basin.
  12. Now dip the rectangular pieces one at a time and press around the basin’s sides so that they fit together neatly. Don’t hesitate to trim your pieces slightly so they fit.
  13. Now spoon in the softened fruit, adding the strawberries a few at a time.
  14. Dip the bread triangles in juice and place on top, cutting off the overhang.
  15. Keep any leftover juice for later.
  16. Seal your clingfilm on the top.
  17. Put a small plate on top of the bowl and weight it down (using cans for example).
  18. Keep in the fridge overnight.
  19. Open out cling film and flip over the pudding onto a dessert plate.
  20. Serve with leftover juice and cream if you like.  Enjoy!
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For those of you who are interested in seeing this year’s trooping of the colours live (or almost), here is a small extract, courtesy of the BBC.  Enjoy!

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512px-Trooping_the_Colour,_the_Colours Did you know that the queen of England celebrates her birthday twice? Once  on her actual birthday, the 21st of April and once on her Official birthday.

The Queen’s official birthday is a date arbitrarily selected to host official  birthday celebrations in all the Commonwealth countries. The dates vary with  each country but generally take place between the end of May and the middle  of June, to ensure good weather for all the outdoor ceremonies.

The monarch’s official birthday was celebrated for the first time in 1748.  Nowadays, it is celebrated on the first, or second Saturday in June. The date  was moved to Autumn by King Edward VII as he was born in November, then  summer in the hope of getting good weather. This year, the ceremonies were  held on the 13th of June in the UK.

On this day, the queen is joined by other members of the Royal Family to watch the parade which moves between Buckingham Palace, the Mall and the Horseguards’ Parade. This parade, known as Trooping of the colours is carried out by operational troups from the Household Division, Foot Guards and Household Cavalry.

This ceremony dates back to the early Eighteenth century when the flags (or colours) were carried out down the ranks of soldiers so they could be seen and recognised.

Nowadays, the Queen is greeted by a Royal salute and inspects the troops. The Regimental colour is then carried down the ranks. Then the soldiers then march past the Queen.

The Queen then rides in a carriage back to the Palace ahead of her Guards where she receives the salute and a fly-past by the Royal Air force from the palace balcony. Members of the Royal Family are invited to witness the Royal Air Force display.

On the Queen’s private birthday, on the other hand, public celebrations are limited gun salutes at midday: a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London and a 21 gun salute in Windsor Great Park.

Image from Carfax2

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Trooping_the_Colour,_the_Colours.jpg

 

 

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