Family Day Out at Eureka! in Halifax

Eureka! is the national children’s museum. It is located next to Halifax train station in West Yorkshire.

My kids love Eureka! I have been taking them since they were small and it is a much loved day out.

I sometimes wonder why they like it so much, but there are plenty of opportunities for fun and role-play, as well as a bit of learning along the way (without them noticing).

The museum states that it is designed for ages 0-11. I think that it is most suited to the younger end, particularly pre-school, but I went on a school trip last year with a bunch of 7 year olds and they all had a great time.

Eureka! Highlights

As we’re local, we can gofor a couple of hours on a wet miserable day, but there is plenty to fill a whole day out. Here are some of the sections that I can recall.

There is an M&S shop area where kids can do a food shop with their own little trolley and use the till to tot up the bill. There is a car area with car wash, fuel stations, mechanic tools. There is a post office where kids can sort through parcels. There is a bank with an ATM, stamps for loans and a vault for valuables. There is a kitchen area with lots of food items, ovens and microwaves that ping when the food is ready.  There is a large body section including a dentist chair, details about taste and smell, body heat map, scanning of pregnant lady, details of developing babies, measurement area including height, stretch, jump length etc.

There is a craft room for under 5’s including coloured paper, crayons, glue sticks, boxes with ‘bits and bobs’ and dressing up clothes. There is a dessert area for under 5s including a pulley system with balls that travel. There is a water area including details about plumbing and an area for playing with boats.

There are lots of opportunities to dress up and get into character. At certain times, such as holidays, there are specific sessions such as story telling, science or singing sessions. These are usually worth attending and get the kids involved.

Eureka! Food

There is a cafe at Eureka! which can get quite busy. The food is quite good. Main meals are reasonably priced. There are also plenty of spaces for bringing your own food. There is a train carriage, where you can eat a picnic. Simple, but my kids think this is great.

Eureka! Prices

Entry fees are as follows (as of April 2019): Under ones are free, 1-2 years £5.25 and £12.95 for 3+. If you complete online forms you can visit as many times as you want in the next twelve months. Parking is £3 for 4 hours and £6 for 12 hours.

When to go to Eureka!

It can get busy during holidays, especially when the weather is miserable. However during term time, there are school trips each day so you can find yourself surrounded by a class of school kids while you are looking at something. The school kids normally disappear about 1:30 so the place does normally quieten down once they go.

It is best to check the website before going as opening hours vary throughout the year. It is usually closed on a Monday during term time, but it is open 7 days a week during the holidays.

Take a look at the Eureka! website to find out more.

Updating Running Tunes for a Mum in her 30’s

I recently wrote  a post about how I had lost touch with modern music – lost decade of music. Following that post, I went away and downloaded some new songs so I thought I’d share my new running playlist. This playlist is a lot more up to date and takes me out of my comfort zone of old school indie tunes. I am going to listen to these this weekend. I don’t know whether these running tunes are the right pace, but I quite like them and they should be a good distraction.

  1. Maroon 5 – Girls Like You
  2. Sia – Chandelier
  3. Lizzo – Juice
  4. George Ezra – Shotgun
  5. Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho
  6. Ariana Grande – 7 Rings
  7. Marshmello featuring Bastille – Happier
  8. Sam Smith, Normani – Dancing With A Stranger
  9. Calvin Harris Rag’n’Bone Man – Giant
  10. Pink – A Million Dreams
  11. Felix Jaehn – Aint Nobody (featuring Jasmine Thompson)

I don’t love running. I don’t even like running. I don’t understand how people love running. However I do like to keep fit and I like the feeling after I have done a run. My half hour commitment once a week feels like a worthy sacrifice. I like the chance to be child-free and listen to my own choice of music for half an hour. My weekly half hour of running, or jogging, is a chance for me to switch off. Even if that does come at the cost of pounding up and down hills in the cold, wet weather.

My previous playlist was mainly from the 1990’s or earlier and I have now updated my tunes for songs that have been released in the last year or so. This weekend I will miss Madness, Blur, Scissor Sisters and Motown tunes while I listen to these modern running tunes.

We have had some pretty horrible weather lately and I really need a distraction when there is rain and wind in my face. I hope these new running tunes will provide that distraction.

 

Where are all the countries in the world beginning with D, E and F?

Countries Starting with D

Denmark – Denmark is a Scandinavian country. It lies South West of Sweden and there is a bridge between Denmark and Sweden called the Oresund Bridge. This is an amazing bridge which is 5 miles long and meets an artificial island that turns into a tunnel that stretches another 2.5 miles. Denmark has a border to the South with Germany. Until recently I did not realise that you can drive from mainland Europe to Scandinavia. I seem to recall looking across a stretch of water whilst in Germany and seeing Denmark, but I may be wrong. Denmark includes an archipelago (loving that word, meaning a series of islands) of 443 named islands. Greenland and the Faroe Islands are recognised as part of the kingdom of Denmark.

Djibouti – small African country that lies to the East of Central Africa. There is a horn shape that is part of Somalia and Djibuti is just North West of this. Yemen lies just a few miles to the East over the Gulf of Aden. Interestingly there are plans to create a “Bridge of the Horns” across this stretch, however plans have all gone quiet, presumably due to troubles in Yemen. Djibuti has borders with Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Dominica – Dominica is a Caribbean island that lies in the middle of the Caribbean islands. The island sits between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Dominica is South of Guadeloupe and North of Martinique and St Lucia.

Dominican Republic – Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation that shares a border with Haiti to the West. The whole island is called Hispaniola.

 

Countries Starting with E

East Timor – East Timor (Timor-Leste) sits between Indonesia and North West Australia. Mainland Australia is less than 500 km away. East Timor is part of an island. West Timor is the Indonesian part of the island. Formerly a Portuguese colony, East Timor declared independence in 1975 then was invaded and occupied by Indonesia. Now it is a sovereign state and is part of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.

Ecuador – Ecuador sits on the Equator in South America. North of Peru and South of Colombia, Ecuador features a coast to the West. It also encompasses islands including the Galapagos Islands. A song called “Ecuador” was released in 1997 by German DJ Sash! I cannot recall any of the lyrics, other than the word “Ecuador”, however there are Spanish lyrics that refer to the magical sounds of Ecuador.

Egypt – Egypt is located in North East Africa and links Africa to the Middle East. There is a coastline to the North and the East. Egypt is a Mediterranean country and has a border with Sudan and Libya.

El Salvador – El Salvador is a Central American country to the West of Honduras and South of Guatemala. It is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. The population was 6.34 million in 2016. The West coast of El Salvador is situated in the Pacific Ocean.

Equatorial Guinea – Equatorial Guinea is situated in Central Africa. Equatorial Guinea’s West coastline is located in the South Atlantic Ocean. To the North is a border with Cameroon and to the South is a border with Gabon.

Eritrea -Situated on the North East coast of Africa. Eritrea is located on the Red Sea coast and across the Red Sea lies Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Eritrea has borders with Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti

Estonia – Estonia is referred to as Northern European and Eastern European. It lies North of Latvia and also features a border with Russia to the East. Latvia includes over 2,000 islands in the Baltic Sea.

Ethiopia – Ethiopia is a landlocked country in the central Eastern part of Africa. It is located in the ‘Horn of Africa’ and borders Eritrea to the North, Djibouti and Somalia to the East, Sudan and South Sudan to the West and Kenya to the South.

 

Countries Starting with F

Fiji – a tiny island in the South Pacific to the East of Papua New Guinea.

Finland – Finland is a Scandinavian nation that sits between Sweden to the East, Norway to the North and Russia to the East. Finland has a coastline to the South in the Baltic Sea.

France – France is a large star-shaped (or hexagon shaped) country in Western Europe. Three of the six edges are coastline (English Channel, Bay of Biscay and Mediterranean). At the closest point, France is just 20 miles (33km) over the water from England across the English Channel. Our European neighbour has eight land borders with Spain, Andorra, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland and Belgium.

 

If you would like to discover some more locations of countries, then check out my guide to locating countries beginning with A and countries beginning with B and countries beginning with C.

Where in the world are the countries beginning with C?

Countries Starting with C

Continuing my theme of locating all the countries throughout the world, this is a list of all the countries beginning with C. There are 18 countries beginning with C, including 8 in Africa. There is one that I have never heard of before (Comoros).

Cabo Verde – more commonly known as Cape Verde (Green Cape), this series of islands is located off the North West coast of mainland Africa. It is an African nation that lies West of mainland Senegal. Cabo Verde is located in the Atlantic, South West of the Canary Islands.

Cambodia – Asian nation with a coastline on the Gulf of Thailand. Borders with Thailand to the North West, Laos to the North East and Vietnam to the East.

Cameroon – Central African country with a Western coastline on the Gulf of Guinea. Several borders to the North, East and South of the country.

Canada – North American country, North of the United States of America. Canada is the second largest country by area and sits in the Atlantic on the West and the Pacific to the East. Widely varying climates range from hot summers in the south to arctic weather in the North (stretches to the Arctic Circle in the North). It is unknown how many islands there are in Canada, but it estimated to be over 30,000.

Central African Republic – landlocked country in central Africa. Borders with Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Cameroon. As one of the top ten poorest countries in the world, Central African Republic is thought to be the unhealthiest country in the world and the worst country to be young.

Chad – landlocked country in North Central Africa. Borders with Libya, Sudan, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger. Chad is known as the Babel Tower of the World due its cultural diversity. Chad has over 200 ethnic groups and 100 recognised languages spoken in the country.

Chile – long, narrow country in South America that sits South of Peru and runs alongside Argentina to the East. Also borders Bolivia. The country has over 6,000km of Pacific Ocean coastline. There are around 3,000 volcanoes in Chile and about 36 of these are active.

China – massive country in East Asia sitting South of Mongolia. China is the most populous country in the world with about 1.4 billion people. China borders 14 countries (shares the record for most borders with Russia). A large Eastern coastline sits on the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea.

Colombia – South American country that has a small join with Panama to the North West. Further borders with Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador. With coastlines in the Caribbean Sea to the North and the Pacific to the West.

Comoros – African country that I’ve never heard of. Comoros is an Archipelago (extensive group of islands) in the Indian Ocean off Africa’s East coast. Mozambique sits to the West of Comoros and Madagascar is located South East of Comoros.

Congo, Democratic Republic of the – formerly Zaire (1971-1997), DRC is situated in Central Africa. A large country, DRC is the eleventh largest country in the world. DRC lies on the Equator with about a third of the country North of the Equator and two thirds to the South. DRC has a small coastline (37 km) to the West into the Atlantic.

Congo, Republic of the – a country in Central Africa, Republic of the Congo has borders with five countries (Gabon, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola). Republic of the Congo features a small coastline on the Atlantic Ocean to the South West of the country.

Costa Rica – Central American country with coastlines on the Caribbean and Pacific. Borders with Nicaragua to the North and Panama to the South.

Cote d’Ivoire – my only familiarity with the Ivory Coast is thanks to the World Cup and their football team. I seem to recall that their flag is easily confused with the Irish flag. Having checked this, the Cote d’Ivoire flag is orange, white and green stripes where Ireland’s is green, white and orange. Located on the South coast of West Africa, it borders Guinea, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Mali and Ghana.

Croatia – located in central and Southeast Europe, Croatia has borders with Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. The Adriatic Sea separates Croatia from Italy which lies to the West of Croatia. Croatia consists of over a thousand islands and islets, 48 of which are permanently inhabited.

Cuba – located in the Northern Caribbean, Cuba includes the island of Cuba, Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. The country lies South of Miami and East of Cancun in Mexico. Cuba is situated where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet.

Cyprus – I’ve always thought the country of Cyprus looks like a stingray. Cyprus is a small European island which lies West of Syria. Cyprus is located in the Eastern Mediterranean, South of Turkey.

Czech Republic – landlocked country in central Europe, Czech Republic has borders with Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland.

Previous posts include Where in the world are all the countries beginning with A? and Where in the world are all countries beginning with B?

 

Family Day Out at Clovelly, North Devon

Family Day Out in Clovelly

What a gem of a place! I knew nothing of Clovelly before discovering a flyer whilst staying in a cottage in North Devon. Clovelly is a little fishing village that is traffic-free, other than donkeys and sledges to deliver supplies and the odd Land Rover to deliver hotel guests to their accommodation.

We were delighted to discover no charge for the car park. Then we were a little taken aback at the £20 admission charge to visit the village. However once we had made our way to the picturesque historic harbour, we justified the expense.

Accessibility to Clovelly

The journey down to the village involves a very steep hill that winds down to the harbour (about 400 feet down). It was sunny and lovely the day that we visited, but I imagine it could be very slippy on a wet and miserable day.

I wouldn’t recommend this place to people with accessibility issues. We did see a couple of parents with buggies, but it didn’t look much fun. Most wheelchair users would find this place a nightmare. We had a chat with a man in his eighties who had retired to Clovelly. He makes the walk up and down the hill each day to keep himself fit. I think this would be a challenge for older people that struggle to walk far.

Our kids and grandparents managed the walk pretty well. We took our time and enjoyed the views as we entered this pretty village. We also had an ice cream and a drink on the way.

Things to See in Clovelly

There are some lovely shops in Clovelly including gift shops, art shops and sweet shops. We bought some small sweet gifts including Clovelly specific items like notepads and pens and also more generic items. The Water Babies book is for sale in a few shops as this was written by Charles Kingsley who spent a lot of time in Clovelly. A small museum in the village is dedicated to him.

There is a short film explaining the history of the Clovelly. It is quite interesting for adults and short enough for kids to sit through. This runs every few minutes in the main entrance and gift shop. There are lots of lovely cafes, pubs and restaurants.

There are museums and craft workshops, including a fisherman’s cottage museum that you can walk through and see how a typical village house would have looked in the 1930’s. My young kids quite enjoyed the walk around cottage. There was a sweet art gallery/shop showing various materials and techniques which you could also purchase.

Donkey stables are located at the top of the hill with the offer of rides for little ones.

There is a lifeboat station that we wanted to look round, but we were told this was not an option as the staff were too busy. We did notice a bunch of guys drinking tea and chatting inside so that was a shame.

At the bottom of the hill beyond the harbour, there is a beautiful stone beach. Our kids loved finding pretty stones and it was very relaxing to sit and enjoy the sea view.

If you fancy a visit to Clovelly, check out the Clovelly website.

If driving to Clovelly, you should be aware that your Sat Nav may not recognise the village of Clovelly as there are no roads for cars in the actual village of Clovelly. There are plenty of signs in and around Bideford.

 

The Bestest Superlatives in Geography

Due to my poor knowledge of Geography, I am trying to improve my awareness of the world and world facts. I began by identifying all the countries in the world, then I worked on locating them all, starting with countries beginning with A. I added a further post describing the locations of all countries beginning with B. This exercise is proving more time-consuming than I expected. Rather than plod on through countries beginning with C, I thought I’d look at some top Geography facts. Biggest, longest, highest, all the great bestest superlatives relating to the world.

Top World Facts

All the top facts relating to the biggest and bestest superlatives in the world:

  1. Largest continent – Asia – 17, 212, 000 square miles
  2. Smallest continent – Australia – 3, 132, 000 square miles
  3. Largest country – Russia – 6, 592, 735 square miles
  4. Smallest country – Vatican City – 0.17 square miles
  5. Largest city (population) – Tokyo – 38 million (Dec 2016)
  6. Largest ocean – Pacific – 70 million square miles (181.4 million square km)
  7. Smallest ocean – Arctic Ocean – 5, 427, 000 square miles
  8. Longest river – Nile (North/East Africa) – 4,145 miles
  9. Largest river by area – Amazon (c. 2.7 million square miles)
  10. Largest lake – Caspian Sea (Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran) 18,880 cubic metres
  11. Highest mountain – Mount Everest, The Himalayas, Nepal – 8,850 m (29, 035 feet) above sea level
  12. Coldest recorded temperature – Vostok, Antartica -128.6 F
  13. Hottest recorded temperature – Al Aziziyah, Libya 58 C (136.4 F) recorded in 1922
  14. Highest waterfall – Angel Falls (Venezuela) 978 m (3,209 feet)
  15. Largest island – Greenland (part of Denmark) – 822,500 square miles
  16. Biggest desert – Sahara 3, 500, 000 sq miles (9 million square km)

The above list includes many of the top superlative geography facts.

How about some other interesting Geography facts to blow your mind?

Interesting World Facts

  1. Australia is wider than the moon – Moon 2,100 miles (3,400 km) diameter, Australia 2,485 miles (4,000 km) diameter.
  2. Russia and the US are only 2.5 miles (4km) apart geographically at their closest point, but there is a 21 hour time difference between them.
  3. There are only 2 countries in the world that are double land-locked, ie you need to travel through 2 countries to reach the sea – Uzbekistan and Liechtenstein (some argue that the Caspian Sea disqualifies Uzbekistan, however this is widely regarded as a big lake, biggest in the world, see above).
  4. Glaciers store about 75% of the planet’s fresh water.
  5. There are 11 states in the US which are larger than the UK.
  6. The Pacific Ocean is shrinking while the Atlantic is getting wider.
  7. Continents shift at about the same rate as your fingernails grow.
  8. The Dead Sea is currently 429 metres below sea level and sinking about 1 metre a year.
  9. Russia spans 11 time zones.
  10. More than half the world’s population lives in India, China and a few other South East Asian countries.
  11. There are no bridges across the Amazon, the biggest river of the world (largest by area, see above).
  12. The shortest name of a place is ‘A’. There are several villages with this name in Scandinavia and the letter features a little circle above it that I can’t type. It means ‘river’. There are other one letter names of places including ‘U’ a place in Tibet. ‘O’ is the name of a river in Devon, England.

So, there’s a bunch of interesting facts that I should try to remember for my pub quiz.

Where in the world are all the countries beginning with B?

Countries Starting with B

Following on from my previous post about the location of countries starting with A, I am now moving on to countries beginning with B. There’s quite a few to get through so I’d best grab my globe and get on Google. In fact, there are seventeen countries beginning with B and one that I have never heard of – Benin.

The Bahamas – located in the Atlantic Ocean, the Bahamas are just off the South East coast of Florida. This collection of islands includes over 700 islands. Cuba sits South of the Bahamas.

Bahrain – based in the Middle East, Bahrain is a small island, which is close to Qatar. Bahrain sits in the Persian Gulf to the East of Saudi Arabia.

Bangladesh – Bangladesh is to the East of India with a coastline in the Bay of Bengal. There is a small border with Myanmar to the East of Bangladesh.

Barbados – a small island in the Caribbean, Barbados is one of the Eastern islands. East of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Belarus – an Eastern European country with borders to Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

Belgium – Belgium is an interesting country with three distinct regions. Dutch-speaking Flanders is to the North, French-speaking Wallonia is to the South and the German-speaking region to the East. I was amazed to see road signs in all three languages on different coloured signposts whilst trying to navigate through Bruges and ended up driving down the tram line.

Belize – Central American country with bordering Mexico to the North West. Belize also has a border with Guatemala to the South and West. I had a friend from Belize at college who had the strangest sense of humour. When studying Spanish grammar, he was asked “What do we need to be careful of?” He answered “crossing the road?” seemingly serious. I also recall him marking my vocabulary test and insisting that my dodgy answers where actually local dialect in Belize, despite me having simply guessed a word.

Benin – I have never heard of the country of Benin, but I have discovered that it is situated in West Africa. Borders with Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria. Interestingly Benin is the birthplace of Voodoo (vodun religion).

Bhutan – based in South Asia, Bhutan sits on the Eastern edge of the Himalayas,. It is a landlocked country, which is North of Bangladesh.

Bolivia – landlocked country in  the centre of South America. Bordered by Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Chile. Bolivia incorporates desert, rainforest and mountains (Andes Mountains).

Bosnia and Hertzegovina – based in southeastern Europe, Bosnia and Hertzegovina has borders with Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. Bosnia has just 20km (12 miles) of coastline into the Adriatic Sea. Interestingly the presidency rotates between a Serb, a Muslim and a Croat every 8 months.

Botswana – based in South Africa, Botswana is a landlocked country with borders with South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia (just  a few hundred metres long). A large portion of the country is desert (the Kalahari Desert).

Brazil – a huge country in South America, Brazil sits to the East. Significant coastline into the South Atlantic Ocean. Chile and Ecuador are the only South American countries to not border Brazil. This leaves Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.

Brunei – a tiny Asian country on the island of Borneo. There are two separate parts of the country with Malaysia running between them.

Bulgaria – Balkan country with coastline in the Black Sea. Borders with Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey. The Danube River passes through Bulgaria (also called ‘The Daube’ by my Geography teacher, incorrectly reading and copying from a textbook. No word of a lie, explains a lot!)

Burkina Faso – landlocked country in Western Africa. Borders with Mali and Niger to the North as well as various countries to the South. The name Burkina Faso means “land of incorruptible people”, which was adopted in 1984. Formerly known as Upper Volta.

Burundi – landlocked country in East Central Africa, Burundi is situated between Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Lake Takanyika is an African Great Lake and flows down the South West of Burundi.

My next list will be all the countries beginning with C. This is going to take some time!

 

 

Lost the Last Decade of Music

Out of Touch with Current Music

Since having kids I feel like the world of music has completely passed me by. My taste in music is very wide and I have always been open to new influences. I used to be reasonably aware of what was popular. However I feel like I am completely out of touch with modern music. I think it’s since becoming a Mum. I guess there is no longer space for my own music. I am forced to listen to kiddy pop, some of which is ok, but I probably wouldn’t choose it. Last year I asked for a digital radio in the kitchen. This was prior to the talk activated tablet things like Alexa, Echo and Dot devices available now. I think, unless I missed that launch as well. Occasionally I listen to Radio 2 as I make a meal or drive my car, but it is fairly rare I remember to switch it on. Saying that, I have heard my 7 year old singing the jingle a lot lately – “BBC Radio 2” which always makes me chuckle.

Running Music

When I am out for a run, I listen to playlists and I am increasingly aware that most of my song choices come from the 1990’s. They’re not really motivational tunes, but I do like a classic Indie tune to take my mind of the pain and tediousness of running. I love a bit of Blur and Oasis, and other Indie classics like Ash, Shed Seven. Sometimes I’m in the mood for Sheryl Crow and other times The Chemical Brothers. Madness and George Michael also feature on my playlists. Scissor Sisters is the last concert I can remember going to (pre-kids) and I like to listen to their funny boppy songs. Then I have a bunch of 60’s classics including Marvin Gay, The Beatles, The Hollies. Radio X has a list of top Indie tunes of all time  and these are my kind of tunes.

Miss Buying a CD

Radio 2 do throw out the occasional modern tune and I like some of it, but I don’t tend to latch onto it. I used to like buying music and receiving an album as a present. Now that the act of going into a shop and buying an album has pretty much died out, I can’t remember the last time I added anything to my collection. I am a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to buying on iTunes. I always worry I’ll lose it all or something. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I liked placing a CD in the tray and looking at the list of tracks while I listened to it. I have boxes of CDs, which I no longer ever listen to.

Re-discovering Modern Music

I have friends that seem to have survived as modern music lovers. They tell me about concerts and tunes for current bands and singers. I smile, wondering who they are talking about. Am I the only one that has deserted the world of music since having kids? I wonder if my kids will bring me back into the music scene as they develop their taste. My car does now feature a lot of Greatest Showman, Katy Perry and Little Mix, so I guess I’m starting to get into this decade.

I think I need to make an effort to listen to some more modern stuff. Maybe I’ll get on iTunes and buy some music.

Where in the world are all the countries beginning with A?

Following on from a previous post listing all the countries in alphabetical order, I am now going to locate each of them and attempt to describe where they are in the world. This is part of my attempt to improve my Geography knowledge as I am frequently embarrassed at my own ignorance. This is not a technical description, so if you’re looking for a professional country location description then you’re in the wrong place. This is simply an aid for me to remember for my monthly pub quiz and family games.

There’s loads to work through so I am going to tackle this one letter at a time.

So, where in the world are all the countries beginning with A…

Countries Starting with A

Afghanistan – landlocked country in Asia, sits between Iran (to West), Pakistan (to East), Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Albania – sits to the East of the heel of Italy’s boot across the sea. This Eastern European country features a large coastline (Ioanian Sea in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic sea) down the West side of the country. Borders with Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece. I don’t know much about the country of Albani, but I feel slightly more educated than Homer Simpson. There is a line in The Simpsons where someone refers to Albanians and Homer Simpson replies “All white with pink eyes?”

Algeria – large country in North Africa south of France with the Mediterranean between them. Borders with Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya and Tunisia.

Andorra – tiny little country sitting between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains.

Angola – Southern African nation with Western coastline (Atlantic Ocean). Borders with Namibia, Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo. There is an extra bit lying separate to the main area of Angola (Pointe-Noire) sitting within DRC.

Antigua and Barbuda – country in the West Indies, lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It comprises the two major islands (Antigua and Barbuda) and several smaller ones. Puerto Rico and Deminican Republic sit to the North-West of these islands.

Argentina – large South American nation (most Southern) with thin Chile clinging to its West side. Largest Spanish speaking nation. 8th largest country in the world, 4th largest in the Americas. South Atlantic Ocean to the East.

Armenia – landlocked country with Turkey to the West, Georgia to the North and Azerbaijan to the East. Appears to be debatable whether Armenia is part of Europe or Asia as it sits where the two meet (some would say Eurasia).

Australia – large island in the Southern hemisphere. 6th largest country in the world. Surrounded by the Indian Ocean (to the West) and the Pacific Ocean (to the East). Australia/Oceania is the smallest continent of the seven continents.

Austria – landlocked country in Central Europe. Borders with Germany and Czech Republic to the North, Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia and Liechtenstein.

Azerbaijan – features a coastline to the East in the Caspian Sea. Borders with Russia and Georgia to the North, Iran to the South and Armenia to the South West. Like Armenia, Azerbaijan is classed as Eurasia sitting in Western Asia and Eastern Europe.

 

For a full list of all the countries in the world, go to my blog post Alphabetical list of all the countries in the world?

My next Geography boosting post will be finding where in the world are all the countries beginning with “B”? This quest could take a while!

 

Never Fails Simple Banana Cake

Never Fails Simple Banana Cake

Call it banana bread or banana cake, this is a great recipe and one of my favourite things to make. It is a firm favourite with all the family. It is simple to make and it has never failed for me so far. My three year old likes to help by mashing the bananas. I made it for a coffee morning last year and my Tea Room owner friend was very impressed. I have presented a mix of baked cakes and buns in the past, with mixed results, but this banana cake was the most successful by a mile.

Ingredients for Banana Cake

2 or 3 ripe bananas (can be seriously black)

140g butter (ideally softened, plus a little for lining the loaf tin)

140g caster sugar

140g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 large eggs, beaten

Sprinkle of demarara sugar (optional)

 

Method for Banana Cake

  1. Heat oven to 180C or 160C fan
  2. Butter a loaf tinned line it with greaseproof parchment paper
  3. Mash 2 or 3 ripe bananas
  4. Cream 140g butter and 140g caster sugar until light and fluffy
  5. Slowly add 2 beaten large eggs with a little of the self-raising flour
  6. Fold in the remaining flour, 1 tsp of baking powder and the mashed bananas
  7. Pour mixture into the loaf tin and sprinkle a little demerara sugar on top
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes
  9. Check with a skewer and once the skewer is clear, remove from the oven
  10. Cool in tin for 10 minutes then remove to a cooling rack

We love eating this straight from the oven, but it does keep well and remains moist if kept in an airtight container. It will keep for a few days.

It can also be warmed and paired with custard or ice cream for a family dessert. I also include this in my daughter’s lunch box as a treat.

If you’d like to add some crunch, you could place banana chips on the top after cooking with a little icing sugar drizzle (50g icing sugar with 2-3 tsp water to make runny icing). This cake can be frozen if desired.