Bits and Jigsaw Pieces

We're pleased to present an occasional series of sometimes useful, occasionally interesting and perhaps even faintly amusing thoughts and rambles: not always about jigsaws - but mainly!

A message from Fathers everywhere: enough with the socks and ties already!

A message from Fathers everywhere: enough with the socks and ties already!

The longest day of the year comes around on Monday 21st June – but the day before that, Sunday 20th June, is a day that tie makers and sock sellers the world over have come to love almost as much as Christmas. Why is this?

Because it's Father’s Day (at least it is here in the UK; other Father’s Days are also available…)

 While the tie vendors and sock merchants rub their hands in glee, fathers, grandads, boyfriends and significant others across the land approach the occasion with trepidation, wondering what monstrosities and items of very dubious taste might be visited upon them in the name of love and celebration. 

(Now if you're impatient and can't wait any longer to grab him that more original, creative and inventive gift take a look here...and here, too! You can easily get back here once you're done shopping!) Read on for more...

St Valentine’s Day. A puzzle and a slap on the bum…

St Valentine’s Day. A puzzle and a slap on the bum…

So here we all are, in the dull dark days of January, looking for something to perk us up, something to make us smile.

My friends, may I suggest we look no further than next month, to February 14th when we can declare our undying love for each other and celebrate St Valentine’s Day together?

Now, when I mention Valentine’s Day, what are the first things that spring to mind?

Lovey-dovey cards and messages? Certainly. Red roses? Frequently. Chocolates? Indulgently.

But it wasn’t always this way, with declarations of love determined by whoever can buy the biggest card, the fluffiest teddy bear toy, or the most magnificent floral bouquet in order to impress their dearest love…

Let’s travel back in time, you and I, and see if we can find out how this whole Valentine’s thing got started…

Welcome to Lupercalia

No, this is not a yet-to-be-discovered holiday resort on the Black Sea; we have travelled back around 2,000 years to ancient Rome and the pagan, rumbustious, outrageous and downright decadent festival of Lupercalia, held over three days in what we now call the month of February.

The Romans called it Mensis Februarius, from the word februum, meaning purification. Februarius was, therefore, the time of purification - and it was also the time when thoughts turned to fertility, in readiness for the coming of Spring.

That’s where Lupercalia came in – and, depending on who you were, it sounds like it could be anything between huge fun and a massive pain in the bum! Read on for more

We need physical distancing - not social distancing

We need physical distancing - not social distancing

Today has been a good day. A very good day. A rare day. A ray-of-sunshine day.

December 8th 2020: the day we watched the first UK vaccinations, a small but amazing step, helping us to turn the tide against the dreaded COVID-19 virus. It’s a day we will remember.

COVID-19 has dominated almost our every waking thought and action since early in 2020, a year we want to forget, but probably never will.

Since the spring, we have become accustomed to the concept of social distancing. It’s something that, before 2020, most of us wouldn’t have had a clue about – but we sure as hell do now. 

Physical distancing – not social distancing

But wait a minute: surely we’re calling it wrong? Wouldn’t it be better if, right from the start, we had called it ‘physical distancing’, rather then ‘social distancing’?

Most of us understand the basic idea – keep your physical distance wherever and whenever possible to reduce the spread of infection. Simple. But ‘social distancing’? 

If ever there was a time when we needed more social closeness rather than social distance, more emotional closeness and connection, surely it is now in these 2020 COVID-19 days.

Because we are all now so restricted in our movements, our normal, taken-for-granted relationships with friends and loved ones have been turned on their heads. 

They have been up-ended, broken, shattered and seemingly scattered to the four winds…Read on for more

Why do we love jigsaw puzzles?

Why do we love jigsaw puzzles?

Most of us probably did jigsaw puzzles when we were kids.

When we were very small, we did the ones with little animal shapes or number shapes that dropped into little animal-shaped or number-shaped holes in a piece of brightly coloured wood.

Rupert the Bear, Thomas the Tank Engine and a cast of thousands

When we got a little older, it might have been jigsaws of Rupert the Bear, Thomas the Tank Engine or a host of other characters we loved from books or from the telly.

All chunky pieces and bold bright colours, these puzzles engaged our hands and our minds: we didn’t know it then, but we were being gently and unknowingly nudged into developing some serious hand-eye coordination!

Some of us, by the time we went to ‘big school’, graduated to puzzles with perhaps 200, maybe 500 or even – gasp(!) – 1000 pieces (for the hardcore aficionados).

And then life got in the way

But then, for most of us, life began to get in the way. We grew up. Work, family and responsibilities meant the opportunities to immerse ourselves in a thoroughly good puzzle faded into the middle distance…READ ON FOR MORE