Tackling the Tango


Many moons ago I was a keen Latin American dancer. At a time when most of my 14 year old peers were spending their evenings trying to persuade the local barmen to serve them alcohol I was in a dance studio strutting my stuff with an instructor who was at least 60. We practiced the jive and cha cha cha under the watchful eye of his wife and I was scoring top marks in my exams. Continue reading

The Key to Exercise and Keeping your New Year’s Resolution


‘People in the Gym’ by Mike Fleming via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

January is full of people making resolutions that they ultimately will not keep.  One of the most popular resolutions you’ll notice is to eat healthily and exercise more often.  Usually about three weeks into January resolutions such as these begin to slip and before you know it they have disappeared completely.  The fact is that exercising, usually at the gym, just isn’t suited to everyone and for many it’s simply a monotonous chore.  Ask anyone at all and I’m sure that they will agree that the key to exercise is to find an activity that you love and which for you the exercise part is merely a bonus.

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World Record Breaking Jigsaws

I’m sure that almost everyone has attempted a jigsaw puzzle at some point. Of course they’re generally associated with the young and the old but that’s not always the case! Jigsaws are good value and provide a long period of stimulated entertainment and that’s just two of the reasons why they’re loved so much. Like with anything, people are naturally drawn to push the boundaries of their hobbies and jigsaws are no different! We’ll take a look now at two of the biggest jigsaws that I’ve seen in recent years!

Photo of Hand Cut Jigsaw by Charles Hamm via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

Photo of Hand Cut Jigsaw by Charles Hamm via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

Vietnam – The World’s Largest Jigsaw

The Guinness World Record for the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle goes to Vietnam! Well, more specifically the students at the University of Economics of Ho Chi Minh City. This massive puzzle was assembled in a in a stadium in Ho Chi Minh City by a massive crew of 1600 students, with teams of two tackling specific sections of the puzzle.

The previous world record was held in Singapore and featured a puzzle with 212,323 pieces. Vietnam’s had a whopping 551,232 pieces; that’s over twice as many pieces. It’s probably of no surprise then to learn that Vietnam’s puzzle took the 1600 strong team a lengthy 17 hours to complete.

Of course a jigsaw puzzle is always about the finished picture and the University of Economics of Ho Chi Minh City had decided on a lotus flower for theirs, which as Guinness World Records say featured “six petals in symbolic representation of the six areas of knowledge envisaged by the Mindmap study method: human beings, geography, history, culture, education and economy”; a perfect tribute to their area of learning.

Largest Hand-Made Jigsaw

This world record is hot off the press! So much in fact it hasn’t been declared official just yet. Dave Evans, a professional jigsaw maker used his skills to hand cut a jigsaw of 40,000 pieces! The jigsaw was made not only to set a new Guinness World Record, but also to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The chosen design featured images taken during the Jubilee celebrations in 2012.

Over a period of 35 days Dave Evans cut out the 40,000 pieces of the puzzle but this doesn’t give you a sense of how much time really went into the project. It had been in planning for over 10 years! In April 2013 Dave Evans made his dream a reality and constructed his masterpiece, only there was a surprise in store!

Whilst adding some of the final pieces into the near-vertical jigsaw puzzle the whole thing collapsed! The video that was being recorded for the sake of Guinness World Records recorded the whole thing and has since been uploaded by Dave to YouTube where it has received an almost viral reception. After this apparent disaster Dave received a number of generous offers to help reassemble the jigsaw, and that they did! Everything turned out alright in the end and in May the jigsaw went on display at Sandringham House.

Getting Started Yourself

If making a 40,000 piece jigsaw is a bit out of your league or assembling a 551,232 piece puzzle a little more commitment than you’d like right now, you can pick up a standard jigsaw puzzle at many online and offline stores. You can get the whole family involved in puzzle building and you will even find wooden puzzles built especially for children from brands such as this one, so yo can train them up! It’s easy to put aside some space and get set up, perhaps using a large wooden board and sliding it under the sofa when you’re not working on it. The beauty of a puzzle is that you can come back to it whenever you like, making progress piece by piece, there’s really no rush at all!

Tools – Why Online isn’t Always Best

We’re doing more and more online these days, from keeping in touch with friends on social networks to managing our finance and even our supermarket shopping. Internet shopping has been blamed in part for the demise of some big retail brands like HMV or Woolworths, but sometimes internet shopping isn’t the best option. Tool and building supplies company Screwfix hit the headlines recently when it seemed to be moving in the opposite direction from the competition by seeking out new physical stores in addition to its online presence. So what are the advantages of shopping in a proper retail store for your screws, drill bits and plasterboard? Continue reading

Left Handed Guitarists

If like me you’re left handed, you’ll know what a challenge it can be operating equipment or using things as simple as tin openers and cheque books which are designed for the majority of the population who are right handed. If you’ve ever tried to learn to knit or play an instrument it becomes even tougher, as your two options are to do things with the “wrong” hand, or try to work back to front or upside down. Despite these drawbacks, lefties can and do make a successful career playing the guitar and some of the most famous guitarists in the world play left-handed. Continue reading

5 Jobs You Will Need a Wood Plane For

If you are new to woodwork and DIY then it can be hard to work out what is absolutely essential and what tools you can do without, or hire when you need them. Every tool kit should contain the basic screwdrivers, hammers and a saw or two but what about more specialised tools like planes or workbenches? There are many good reasons to buy a woodworking plane though, as they can be used for more jobs than you may think. Continue reading

Collectable Crazes (or Crazies?)

Hands up who remembers ranges like Sylvanian Families, or those sticker albums and packs of stickers which seemed to always contain the same stickers over and over? Kids love to collect things and marketers latch onto this by producing ranges designed to appeal to kids and to parents who remember the buzz of collecting from their childhood. Continue reading

Hobbies on a Budget

It seems tougher and tougher to find a hobby or past time that doesn’t cost a lot to keep going. Many activities can be expensive, and tough to follow when keeping your eye on a budget. There are lots of alternatives, however, and you can find a past time to suit you without breaking the bank. Here are a few suggestions that might be suited to what you’re looking for. Continue reading