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British Expat Newsletter: September 2011

Hello, and welcome to those of you who have just signed up.

In this issue

This month

Considering that Russia’s the largest country in the world, it’s never figured very much on British Expat. Fortunately, Trevor Chapman has taken us a step towards putting right that omission, with his striking photo of the Qolşärif Mosque in Kazan – our latest Pic of the Week.

Meanwhile, one of our Forum Site Admins, Graeme, visited San Diego recently and had a fascinating time there. According to the song, it never rains in Southern California – but it seems they do have power cuts! You can read all about Graeme’s adventures in our USA pages.

And our latest Quick Quiz focuses on Malaysia – “Truly Asia”, as its tourism publicity describes it. See how much you know about this diverse country.

We’ve been busy elsewhere too, with another new venture – EasyGift.co.uk. We think that choosing gifts should be a pleasure, not a chore, and we’ve spent quite a few happy hours this month, finding lots of goodies and sticking them onto our brand new website. Why not have a look the next time you’re thinking about what to buy for your loved ones for that next special occasion?

Editorial: Ladybirds

Everyone loves ladybirds, don’t they? Not only do they look cute in their red-and-black wing casings, but they’re useful little creatures in the garden, too, scoffing up all those pesky aphids that plague your peas and ravage your roses.

Small wonder that they’re such popular symbols for adults and kids alike. Most of us will be familiar with Ladybird books from our childhood, of course. The Ladybird imprint was founded as early as 1915, although it wasn’t until the next war – in 1940 – that the classic format of the hard-back measuring four-and-a-half by seven inches was developed. Each book had 56 pages, to enable a book to be printed on a single sheet of paper, folded and cut with virtually no waste.

Another Ladybird brand for children is also still in existence, even though the shop that once sold it isn’t. Woolworth’s line of children’s clothing bore a Ladybird label for many years, going back to 1938, although the Woolworths Group didn’t have exclusivity until 1984. Their products are still on sale through woolworths.co.uk, although that domain’s now owned by Shop Direct after the bricks-and-mortar Woolies went bust in 2009.

By contrast, one particularly striking – even jarring – use of the ladybird as a symbol is in the Netherlands, where it’s been adopted by the Foundation Against Senseless Violence as a symbol. Somewhat macabrely, paving stones bearing a ladybird have been placed on sites where acts of “senseless violence” – particularly killings – have been committed. The term “senseless violence” is itself controversial, though, partly because it suggests that some violence is legitimate and partly because it can be (and has been) used by authoritarian politicians to argue for more repressive policing.

Much more usually, ladybirds are considered to be symbols of good luck – in Turkish, for example, they’re called uğur böceği, or “good luck beetle”. Their name in most European languages has Christian connotations, either direct with God (eg French bête à bon Dieu, or “God’s animal”) or else with Jesus of Nazareth’s mother (the “lady” referred to in the English name is “Our Lady”). The most common ladybird species in Europe has seven spots, and these were taken to represent the seven joys and seven sorrows of Mary.

Sadly, there’s evidence that many native British species of ladybird are on the decline. A survey conducted over 20 years has shown that numbers of the 10-spot and 14-spot ladybirds are falling, while the Asian Harlequin – a new arrival into the UK in 2003 – is now the country’s second most populous ladybird species. I suppose it won’t surprise any of you to hear that it was deliberately introduced into Continental Europe to control pests.

Are ladybirds lucky creatures where you are? Or do you have other good luck insects? (It’s bees where we are.) We’d love to hear from you, so please post on our forum discussion.

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Write for British Expat

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We’ve started doing some quick trivia quizzes – five questions about any subject. So, if you’d like to write for us but don’t feel like producing a literary masterpiece, then why not try writing a quickie quiz about your city, country, or even your hobby? Please use our contact form to get in touch.

British Expat Amazon Shopping

Amazon don’t just do books, you know. We’ve teamed up with them to bring you the ultimate in online shopping – from a micro SD card to a garden shed! A great way to do your shopping online, especially if the shops aren’t up to much in your part of the world.
BE Amazon Shop: UK & EU | BE Amazon Shop: non-EU

So there’s a round-up of all that’s been going on. Come on over and see for yourself! Don’t forget…
Visit the BE website and join in with our lively community!

Till next time…

Happy surfing!

Kay & Dave
Editor & Deputy Editor
British Expat – the definitive home for British expats

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