NEWS

2012-02-29

Baaa Baaaa Black sheep

SNUGGLED next to each other on a bale of hay, these are the adorable one-in-a-million five black lambs that have been born just in time for Spring.

Giving staff a new take on the nursery rhyme BAA BAA BAA BAA BAA black sheep, the identical quintuplets are only hours old but certainly already have a spring in their step.

Today/yesterday (TUE) they were seen playfully roaming around the farm where they have just been born and getting to know each other.

The cute lambs were born in the early hours of this morning (TUE), to their Romney Marsh mother called Romto and sired by a Jacob, an ancient breed of horned sheep.

"It is a one-in-a-million birth. It's a UK first and maybe even a world first," Ollie Muntz, director of Umberslade Farm Park in Tanworth in Arden, Warks, said: "They are all healthy. It is quite a timely arrival with Easter approaching although they were a little bit early."

Farm worker Gemma Webb added: "It is very rare that this happens. Normally a sheep would have twins or triplets - it is extremely rare to have five lambs."

The lambs will need to be bottle fed as Rom will only have enough milk for a couple of them.  

"All the kids can come and feed them," Gemma, 27, added.

"They should attract thousands of visitors, who wouldn't want to feed these adorable little things. 

"There certainly going to be a lot of interest in them and luckily there's five of them so there's plenty to go around." 

The adorable lambs all have little white spots on their heads and are adapting to their new surroundings.

Three-year-old Rom had five lambs last year but one of them died but this year's innocent newborns are all healthy.

Visitor Jill South, 39, took along her eight-year-old neice to the farm and was one of the first to see the newborn lambs.

She said: "They are absolutely adorable. My neice Jemima loved them. They look like they are still getting used to their surroundings, but they seem happy and healthy and its a wonderful sign that spring is almost upon us. 

"I had no idea how rare it was either, which makes the visit that little bit more special."

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2012-02-28

Costa curse

THE mother of a Costa Concordia 'hero' is suffering the same "nightmare" as she waits to hear news from her daughter - who is stranded on it's stricken sister ship.

Today a worried Jayne Thomas said she had to learn about the second disaster via an email from a friend. 

Frantic Jayne has heard nothing from dancer daughter Becky, 23, since a blaze broke out on the Costa Allegra, leaving it adrift in the Indian Ocean.

Incredibly, her 19-year-old son James had been working on the doomed Concordia, which capsized off the Italian coast in January, killing 32.

The teenager was labelled a hero after helping rescue terrified passengers escape by acting as a human ladder.

Jayne, 48, from Sutton Coldfied,  Birmingham, said: “I only found out when one of Rebecca's friends sent me an email having heard the news.

"We've had nothing from either Costa or the agency that Becky and James worked for.

"I'm not really expecting anything to be honest, we heard nothing when the Concordia went down."

James and Becky both work for the same agency as dancers aboard Costa's ships. 

But Jayne never dreamed she's be suffering the same worry again as when the Concordia sank in January.

"I never dreamed it could happen again," she added. "I've been on both of those ships to see my children.

"In the email I got it told me the ship was on fire and that it had been extinguished in a couple of paragraphs so it was bittersweet news.

"There was a moment of agony when I read it though, fire is what I fear most, it's the worst thing that can happen on a ship.

“Apparently it's the engine that has caught fire but it's all speculation at the moment, nobody really knows.

“I just hope they're telling the truth this time. Originally when the Concordia went down, they told us that there was an electrical failure and everything was going to be fine

"They said it right up until they abandoned the ship.

“I just can't believe it's happening all over again it's like a nightmare.“

The fire broke out when the Allegra was 260 miles from the Seychelles coast. There are said to be no casualties among the 1,049 passengers and crew members.

Costa Cruises said in a statement that the fire broke out in the electric generators' room and was quickly extinguished.

According to Jayne the vessel has since been taken under tow to a nearby island by a French fishing ship that responded to the Allegra's mayday call.

Jayne had been in contact with Becky three or four times a day. They last had a conversation on mobile messenger service WhatsApp, yesterday morning. The mum said: “I said, `Good morning, how was your sleep?' She said she was fine and getting on with the day.“

Fellow dancer James had previously told how he had acted as a 'human climbing frame' after the Concordia disaster.

According to mum Jayne the two had always wanted to dance.

"They have always danced and it was what they both always wanted to do," she added.

"They both did diplomas at Leicester College of Arts, graduated within six months of each other and got jobs last year.

"I don't think there's any chance this will put Becky off, she's always wanted to travel as well as dance.

"She said to me 'I could go backpacking, but why bother when I can do it in more luxury?'

"I think this might be the end for James though, he had a big ordeal and has already turned down one offer of a job on a Norwegian cruise ship."

After going through the same ordeal twice Jayne admits she will feel. Differently about cruise ships.

"I never, ever imagined this could happen," she said. "The allegra was supposed to be completely safe, or that's what they said.

"It's smaller, so easier to keep safe. But I have to say, I will feel a bit uneasy if I go on a ship again.

"I'm not going to stop going, you don't stop flying just because a plane has crashed, but it will certainly feel different."

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2012-02-21

Under the thumb

HE watches girly box-sets, wears boots because his missus saw them on TOWIE, and he always sits down to go to the loo so his other half doesn't have to lift the toilet seat up - meet Britain's most 'under the thumb' bloke.

Henpecked Mike Jeffries, 25, from Eastbourne, East Sussex, always has to sit down when he goes to the toilet so his controlling other half Joanna Felicitas, 23, doesn't have to put the seat down later.

Mike admits his missus, who he proposed to in 2009, carries out regular spot checks during his trips to the loo - and even PHONES him if he takes too long.

The sports coach, who owns his own football academy, was also banned from spending time with his best mate Keith - after Joanna became worried they were GAY together.

"I have to accept that I am truly under the thumb and changes need to be made," he said. 

"She's a bit funny about the toilet seat. But I'd rather sit down because I can read the newspapers or my phone.

"She will check up on me and she will go mental if the seat is up. I will be in there and if I'm in there too long reading the sport on my phone, she will phone me and give me a cheeky call to ask what I'm doing.

"Another time she thought for a second that me and a mate were going out, she thought we were gay because there was too much bromance going on.

"I told her a story about us getting drunk once and waking up next to each other and she took it the wrong way.

"So she ordered me to spend less time with my best mate Keith."

And as well as telling him what to do, Mike's missus even controls what he wears - with the sports coach often forced to don well-style leather boots - just because Arg from infamous reality show The Only Way Is Essex owns a pair.

"She likes to try and dress me up," added the 25-year-old, who lives with fiancee Joanna and their two-year-old son Mason.

"Recently she has been trying to get me to wear these skinny jeans but I haven't got the physique for it.

"There was one time she brought these leather boots back. She had seen Arg on The Only Way Is Essex wearing them and thought I could pull them off.

"I think he looks like a idiot though, I've worn them out a few times but I don't like them. I don't think I could pull off the skinny jeans tucked into the boots look."

After a six-week hunt for the most henpecked man in the country, organisers at lads mag Zoo and Brighton based The Stag Company were in no doubt that Mike should beat thousands of entries to land the dubious title.

Despite threatening to kill the mates who stitched him up, Mike has been forced to admit that their allegations were true - especially after revealing how he spent his Valentines Day.

“My initial reaction was to kill them, but I’d have to say the majority of what he said is pretty fair," he said.

"Valentines night was a blinder. I have to admit I did not get a card till last minute. In the end I had a romantic meal with the missus, her sister and her partner. 

"It was the full works: candles, rose; glasses and bucks fizz. To end the night we started to watch series 3 of Gossip Girl, which I bought for her. 

"In my defence there is some real sorts in that programme. I did buy the other half one rose, but got told that wasn’t enough and a bunch is what she wanted. The Arg wellies were on, and possibly for the last time."

As part of his prize, Mike and five friends will be treated to a weekend away in Newcastle - complete with a trip to a strip club and a casino.

And despite the usually strict regime, Mike revealed he would be allowed to go on the lads trip.

“She has calmed down a bit now and I am allowed to go," he added.

"She ain’t happy about the trip, but the spa weekend softened the blow. Maybe one cheeky dance won’t harm, other than that I’ll be waiting outside as the boys have fun."

The soppy bloke, who is the laughing stock of men all over the country, says he doesn't regret how his relationship is - after revealing he proposed to her in the most romantic of ways.

“I proposed to her up the Eiffel Tower,” he said. 

“I had the ring all ready but was thinking of backing out and doing it another time but then a man nearby proposed to his girlfriend and my other half gave me a look, so I did it there and then.

“I don’t regret it for a minute. Joking aside it is definitely worth putting up with everything.

“She really is great. She takes me for who I am and is my best friend as well.”

The search for Britain’s Most Under The Thumb Bloke was the brainchild of Mark Booth, Web copywriter at The Stag Company. He said: “This was just an idea I had one day, and thought it would be funny if we tried to find the most whiplashed guy in the UK. 

"It’s mad to think that there was actually an unfortunate bloke who lives that very life. 

"I’m proud to have outed Mike for what he is – truly under the thumb”

 

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2012-02-20

Tragic coach crash

PUPILS today returned to the school devastated by a coach crash tragedy which claimed the lives of one of its most popular teachers. 

A sombre mood gripped Alvechurch Middle School, Alvechurch, Worcestershire, as students arrived for morning classes. 

A number of pupils gathered around a flagpole in the car park where candles and floral tributes to games and maths teacher Peter Rippington, 59, had been laid. 

Mr Rippington died on Sunday morning after the coach he was travelling in ran into a ditch in Northern France. 

Today/yesterday (SUN), as the flag outside the school flew at half-mast, more pupils and parents left floral tributes at the scene. 

Several pupils left apples, with which the popular teacher - known as 'Mr Ripp' - was associated.

By the end of the morning school run, dozens of bouquets, pictures and other tributes had been left.

Several pupils wept as they approached the school grounds, and had to be comforted by their parents. 

Police stood guard at all three gates of the school complex, which also houses a junior school, as parents brought their children in. 

Parents expressed shock at the death of Mr Rippington, described as a well-loved teacher who was known to many in the local area.

Parent Sharon McCann paid an emotional tribute to 'Mr Ripp' outside the school. 

Fighting back tears as she praised the "inspirational" teacher, she said: "He could get the kids to do things that other teachers couldn't. 

"He was the best, he's going to be missed so much, he was lovely.

"It's a huge loss to the school."

Mrs McCann, 40, added that Mr Rippington, who had been due to retire next month, was a well-known character in the small village. 

She said: "He used to speak to everyone, he was so polite and friendly, he always had a good thing to say. 

"He always rode his bike to school, he had a very healthy lifestyle. 

"It's so cruel, why does it always happen to the best?"

Mrs McCann said her son Cameron, 13, had been devastated when he heard news of the popular teacher's death. 

She said: "He always said when he had detention Mr Ripp would sit at the front of the class peeling his apple. 

"When he heard he said he wanted to leave an apple with all the flowers as a tribute."

Former pupil Rich Burnett, 22, said that Mr Rippington, who had been at the school for around 30 years, taught a great number of people in the village. 

He said: "He was very well-known outside of the school and around the village.

"You couldn't go through the school without being taught by him.

"He will be missed greatly - he was a funny guy who loved his job.

"It's a real shock for the true villagers that this has happened."

Staff at the school and the local Reverend also paid tribute to Mr Rippington. 

Revd David Martin, Rector of Alvechurch, said Mr Rippington "gave his whole life to Alvechurch CE Middle School."

He added: "Peter was very much part of the wider community in Alvechurch and will be missed by many."

Rev Martin said that St Laurence's Church in the village would be open all day for well-wishers to say prayers and light candles. 

Chair of Governors Bryan Maybee also paid tribute to the "inspirational and dedicated" teacher

He  said: "I am thankful to be able to confirm that the staff and children who were well enough to travel and are not staying in France, arrived back safely on Sunday night at around midnight."

He added: "The headteacher's focus at this time is, as I am sure you will understand, is being available to all who need her within the school.

"She joins me in praising Peter Rippington for all he has done for the school and local community over the years and her thoughts, as are mine, are with his family at this tragic time."

Neighbour Pamela Wainwright, 28, came to pay her respects to her former teacher. 

She said that Mr Rippington, who lived on the same street as her, would be remembered for the school trips he organised. 

She said: "The main memory I'll have is the ski trips and how he made it on those ski trips. 

"He was just a fantastic man, he was a lovely man, very generous and supportive.

"It's devastating really, especially for the family, it's a tragic loss."

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2012-02-15

Melting cooling towers

AN anti-pollution advert seems to have inadvertently achieved the opposite of what campaigners intended - after viewers fell in love with the quirky 'cooling tower' characters featured in their video.  

The greener energy campaign was launched last week as part of a fight against fossil fuels but the personalities given to the collapsing cooling towers in the animation has instead drawn an outpouring of sympathy for the giant buildings. 

In what has been described by viewers as an 'advertising failure', the 75 second video starts with two nuclear cooling towers over which animators have drawn 3D arms and smiley faces. 

One tower rubs its eyes awake, then serves the other tower tea, them serves itself. 

Explosives blow up both towers, which collapse, while the animated faces express shock and their animated arms rise in horror.

Also in the video, two other cooling towers can be seen rudely awakened in the night; just as one takes off its eye mask, the two collapse.

Four smokestacks suffer a similar fate; as they fall in tandem, the others reach out and then two salute after realising there's no hope of survival.

The video was created by London advertising firm Man + Hatchet for Ecotricity, a green energy company, as an attempt to show that the world needs to move on from the so-called 'Big six' energy companies who dominate the UK market. 

The video has gathered over 1,300,000 views in just five days since it was uploaded to YouTube last week.

However,  it has not hit the intended notes with everyone, YouTube user holaanstop replied to the video: "Dear Ecotricity, If you want to convince me that polluting power plants should be abolished in favour of more wind turbines and solar panels, maybe don’t make me feel bad for cooling towers. Just a thought."

Fellow user RenoReturns commented: "I've never in my life felt bad for a cooling tower."

JustGrundy added: "This is such a fail from an advertising perspective. Why would you anthropomorphise, with them cute faces, the item that you are trying to villainise (sic) and show their horrifying death? Only to then replace them with minimalist completely non-anthropomorphised wind turbines.

"And that's purely a criticism on it's advertising failures not to mention the grevious (sic) errors in the proposal to replace all of these items with wind turbines. Crikey."

But Ecotricity founder Dale Vince says he believes now is the right moment for people to vote with their energy bills, ‘Dump the Big Six’ and bring the UK into a green energy future.

 

“For most of last year, and continuing quite unabated this year, the mood in our country has turned very much against the Big Six energy companies. And it’s not hard to see why.

 

“The interests of the Big Six energy companies are simply not aligned to the interests of the British people.  They chase short-term profit and shareholder dividends – at almost any cost. 

 

“People are fed up with the unethical pricing, awful customer service and the dire lack of investment in new sources of green energy.

 

“So we’ve launched a campaign called ‘Dump the Big Six’.

 

“As befits an organisation such as Ecotricity – it’s not a big budget TV campaign, but is taking place online, through digitally enabled People:Power.”

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2012-02-13

New Nike shoes

AS BRITAIN'S Paralympic hopefuls ramp up their training for this summer's games they can now train in style as Nike release their first shoe for runners with no feet.

 

The Nike Sole has all the elements of a normal running shoe and is now on sale world wide, including in Britain, with the price depending on the individual fitting.

The invention will mean athletes who run with running blades will no longer be forced to pay for regular shoes only to rip them apart tp use the sole.

Stripped down to the key component amputees need most and using recycled materials, carbon fibre and a “flex-run” blade, the lightweight sole features a three-part layered system to make a sole like you would find on a normal trainer. 

These layers are designed to provide traction, comfort and support, adding the feeling of a real shoe onto the prosthetic leg to improve track performances. 

The sole attachment also contains nine nylon tabs and a rubber leash that hooks and grips on to the running blade, giving users the ability to run firmly on the ground but also easily slide the sole on and off their blades. 

The new shoe has been designed in conjunction with Sarah Reinertsen, a paralympic athlete who has has set world records in nearly every distance from 100m to the gruelling Ironman triathlon.

According to Nike the minimalistic design aims to be "both stylish and more functional for amputee athletes".

A spokesman said: "Previously, runners resorted to buying a regular pair of sneakers and mangled them entirely by slicing the bottom soles off then manually attaching it to the blade with glue, velcro or duct tape. 

"Nike hopes that by focusing on the user than the product, the design will serve the small but new market whose needs were never addressed to date."

Nike Innovation Director Tobie Hatfield said: “The Sarah Sole project is a special one for Nike.”

“The Nike Sole is a shining example of our passion and commitment to serve athletes and provide them the solutions they need to achieve their goals – we’re always listening to the voice of every athlete.

Like most competitive amputee athletes, Reinertsen competes today in marathons and triathlons using an Oumlssur Flex-Run prosthetic carbon fibre blade and Nike Sole. In 2006, she began working with Hatfield and the Nike Innovation Kitchen on a solution for her prosthetic outsole needs. 

Previously, Reinertsen, the first female above the knee amputee to complete the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 2005, would use the outsole of a traditional running shoe as her prosthetic “shoe.” 

With limited innovations with prosthetic soles, this cobbling approach to creating solutions using regular running footwear had become the norm.  

Reinertsen, who has worked with Nike and Oumlssur on the project since 2006, was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, battling a bone-growth disorder which resulted in her becoming an above-the-knee amputee by the age of seven. 

Since the amputation, Reinertsen has set world records in her division, ran multiple marathons and was the youngest member of the 1992 U.S. Paralympic Team to compete in Barcelona.

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2012-02-10

Cello Wars

A WACKY musician has proved he definitely has the force with this amazing Star Wars tribute featuring cellos being played with lightsabers - which has become an internet sensation. 

The hilarious video, by American classical musician Steven Sharp Nelsen, even features an accordion-playing Darth Vader as well as a cello-playing Chewbacca - and has attracted millions of online views. 

Steven, who has recorded on hundreds of different albums and performs over 100 shows every year, filmed the spoof video after being inspired by his six-year-old son, and big George Lucas fan, Eli.

The four-minute long video stars 34-year-old Steven playing tunes from the hit movie series in duelling roles as a Jedi and Sith cello player, complete with luminous lightsaber bows. 

Speaking about what he described as the most challenging project of his career, Steven said: "The motivation between all of what we are doing now is fun. It was a tremendous amount of effort.

"The video shoot itself was 24 hours straight. We started at 10am and ended about 10am the next day. 

"We only had so much time because we were borrowing the green screen studio so it was a lot of work.

"I remember getting half way through it and thinking I don't know if I will make it. It was actually the most challenging thing I've ever done."

Steven admitted the halfway point of the video was the most challenging part of the shoot but says he was glad he had someone close to his heart to keep inspiring him to finish the parody in the shape of his son Eli.

"Eli is a big Star Wars fan," added Steven.

"He's only seen two of the six movies by he loves the concept. The good versus evil thing is so clear cut in Star Wars and he just gets so excited about it.

"I use it as analogies to tell him truths about the world and how to behave."

Created by music store The Piano Guys, which consists of just five guys, the tribute video has gone viral across the world - with a staggering 3,879,165 views on YouTube since it was uploaded in December and people queuing up to praise Steven's skills.

One fan, using the name Mrcosmiccereal, commented: "This is by far the nerdiest thing I have ever seen, but it is incredible no doubt. 

"The cello is an incredibly beautiful instrument, and to be able to play it with as much soul and talent as Steven Sharp Nelson is mind-blowing!!!"

Another YouTube viewer, TheRIK731, said: "My brother and sister want to take cello lessons because of you, Steven! Thank you!"

Although the video was expected to be finished in a matter of weeks, complex production meant it took 70 days, more than 7,000 frames, 72 audio tracks, and 24 hours of filming through the night before the parody was even close to completion. 

The video, which took over 1,000 hours to edit, features five of composer John Williams' Star Wars movie themes - including 'The Imperial March' from The Empire Strikes Back, 'May the Force Be With You' and the 'Star Wars Main Theme'.

The scores for all six Star Wars films, which count among the most widely known and popular contributions to modern film music, were written by John Williams - from 1977 to 1983 for the Original Trilogy and again from 1999 to 2005 for the Prequel Trilogy.

Despite his recent online fame, the parody's star Steven is no stranger to the stage - with his unique "cello-percussion" technique combined with an emotional and passionate style earning him a place in front of sold-out audiences across the globe.

The married father-of-three, who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, has released three acclaimed albums - with his debut, 'Sacred Cello' featuring among Billboard's top 20 classical recordings in the world in 2006.

After recording with professional performing ensembles, including a project alongside the China Philharmonic Orchestra, Steven shot to fame as 'YouTube star' in 2009 when he worked alongside Jon Schmidt. 

And since joining forces with The Piano Guys, the talented musician has gathered over 10 million Youtube views overall and releases new videos every week - with his first solo video 'The Cello Song' featuring among YouTube's top ten videos on the web.

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2012-02-09

e-cigarette shop

A REVOLUTIONARY high street store has become the first shop in Britain to only sell flavoured electronic cigarettes.

The fag-free tobacconist, which opened in Rugby, Warwickshire, just two weeks ago is the brainchild of German group Smoke-No-Smoke - whose flavoured e-cigs offer a healthier and cheaper alternative to smoking.

Employing five smartly dressed staff, the clean and stylish store- which looks more like a mobile phone shop than a cigarette shop - will be the group's head office and the home for their on-line business in the UK.

Punters have already been drawn in by the hundreds of flavours on offer and the store's 'try before you buy' policy.

Jim Lacey, Managing Director of the company, said: “Smokers are the target audience. 

"The E-cigs are considerably cheaper than regular cigarettes, do not contain tar, tobacco or harmful carcegines and are also not affected by the smoking ban. 

"The beauty of having the store is that people can drop into the shop and try the hundreds of flavours before buying which they cannot do online.

"People love the tester station, their eyes light up and they just buy it. It tastes nice and it doesn't leave a bad taste in the mouth like real cigarettes do. 

"Our products are high end and very different from the disposable E-cigs you can buy elsewhere."

Despite only opening two weeks ago, the shop has already started to attract high-end clients - with a rich Lady landowner surprising Jim and his staff with an appearance at the store.

"Her name was Lady Denbigh, she came in and has gone away to recommend it to her Lord husband," said Jim.

"She was very well dressed and she was talking about the hunt and that kind of thing. It was obvious she was well off. 

"She bought a lot of our most expensive stuff. They are upper class products that we sell, everyone who comes in buys something"

Smoke-No-Smoke's sister company in Germany have already opened six stores in the last month and 40-year-old Jim confirmed they plan to roll the brand out across Britain as soon as possible.

And with flavours ranging from almond, cherry and banana to brand, Coca-Cola and champagne, it isn't hard why to see the Smoke-No-Smoke shops could spell the end for the traditional tobacco smoker.

"I'd say 95 per cent of people who have come through the door buy the products," added Jim.

"It's fantastic, there are very few people who try the products and say 'no'.

"I think it's a combination of a number of factors really. The cost is 80 per cent cheaper than cigarettes and the sensation is as real as it can be to smoking without actually smoking."

Electronic cigarettes simulate the act of tobacco smoking by producing an inhaled mist that bears the physical sensation, appearance, and flavour of inhaled tobacco smoke.

They are designed to deliver the experience of smoking without the adverse health effects usually associated with tobacco smoke.

And it appears the opening of Britain's first E-cig shop has gone down well with smokers who struggle to find the motivation to quit for good.

Van driver Steve Thomas, 36, said: "I think the shop is a great idea. I stumbled across it by accident when the wife was dragging me around town shopping but now I am always going in there.

"I smoked 20-a-day for as long as I can remember and kept saying I would quit but never really committed to it. 

"Having an actual shop where you can try the things before you buy them is really helpful because I was always wary about what kind of rubbish would get sent to me if I bought it online.

"The shop has given me the kick-start I needed to properly quit and I don't see why it won't take off around the country. The smoking ban means more and more people want to quit so it could be a really popular idea."

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2012-02-08

Horse walks into a bar

YOU'VE all heard the one about a horse walking into a bar. 

But this really is the case for Basil the stallion who loves nothing more than relaxing with a refreshing pint in his local.

The Welsh Cob visits his favoured watering hole every Sunday at the Meynell Ingram Arms in Burton, Staffordshire.

He enjoys mingling with the locals as he relaxes and sups on his favourite tipple in the country boozer.

The pony punter's favourite drink is the locally brewed ale Marson's Pedigree, which is always waiting for him at the bar in his very own glass.

Manager Guy Wallis added: said: "Basil is one of a kind.  He's been coming in the pub for years.

"After he's been for a ride he loves nothing more than to come inside for a pint and horsing around with the locals.

"He's very cool and this is his ideal place to relax. He's a hit with the locals and everyone loves having him around. 

"It doesn't seem strange having him in the pub, because he's like one of the regulars, he just pokes his head round the door and comes in and has a drink, just like everyone else."

But the nine-year-old 14.2 hands pony has been trying to get in for years, before the landlord gave in and let Basil drink his favourite brew.

"His owners have been coming here for over ten years and he would always try and get his hoof in the door," he added.

"But we couldn't deny him anymore and so he's been coming with them the last few years.

"If he's lucky we''ll give him some vegetables to go with his pint.

"I think it's fantastic that pubs still have animals through the doors, just like the old days, we encourage all country life and animals are welcome here.

“He’s become such a regular customer here that I’ve given him his own glass, which he drinks from every time.” 

But Basil's owner Wendy and Harvey said they love having him with them and sharing a pint together.

Owner, Harvey Milnes said: “When I was having a pint of Pedigree, Basil would put his lips round the glass and clearly loved the smell.

“So I gave him a taste and he’s loved it ever since, but he’s not in any way a lager fan, he sticks to ale.

“We’ve never got him drunk because we obviously don’t want to turn him into an alcoholic, but he’s allowed the occasional tipple.”

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2012-02-07

iPhoneography

A UK college has become the first educational institution in the world to offer a course dedicated solely to iPhone photography.

The 'iPhoneography' classes were set up after their creator realised that many owners of the hi-tech smartphones didn't know how to use the built-in camera. 

Tutor Richard Gray, a photographer for 25 years, claims that the popular Apple gadget can be used to create "stunning" images via apps that cost pennies, rather than the thousands of pounds budding snappers can splash out on traditional camera equipment.

The course, 'iPhoneography: An Introduction to Photography with the iPhone' at Kensington and Chelsea College, London, is designed to turn complete beginners into proficient iPhoneographers by the end of its five-week run.

But Mr Gray says that students who enrol on the course will have to learn photography fundamentals such as composition and lighting before they are let loose on the various photo editing apps available.

The GBP115 course consists of a weekly three-hour classroom session which starts out with photography basics before progressing onto using apps to edit photos.

Students will also need their own iPhone and around GBP20 to spend on apps.

Mr Gray, 45, said that the course concentrates on teaching students to harness various applications available to edit photos.

He said: "The focus really is on the iPhone apps, there are thousands and thousands of them that you can get.

"Some are very simple, just applying retro filters, whilst some are more complex and can be used to manually edit photos in the same way you would on a PC."

Towards the end of the course, Mr Gray said that students will be taught advanced techniques such as making collages, which would previously have required a PC to create. 

He said: "You can use techniques like blending images to produce some really creative images that are a long way removed from photography but start out as photos on the iPhone."

Mr Gray said that he hoped the course would act as a gateway to students wishing to pursue photography more seriously, by removing the need for expensive photographic equipment.

He said: "One of the beauties of iPhoneography is that you don't need so much money to get started, which isn't the case with 'big photography'.

"I've done a lot of more traditional photography courses in my time and the first thing they tell you if you're serious about photography is prepare to part company with a lot of money."

Mr Gray added that iPhone photography apps - such as Instagram and Hipstamatic, which allow users to quickly edit and share photos - have made creative photography more accessible.

He said: "It's a real leveller, the apps only cost pennies or a couple of pounds at most to download.

"To buy something like Photoshop can cost hundreds of pounds."

And although some more traditional photographers have dismissed 'iPhoneography' as a gimmick, Mr Gray insisted that the phone can be used to create impressive images.

He said: "If any of those sceptics were to look at the iPhoneography communities online they'd see some incredible photographs, people being very creative.

"With the right apps and skills the iPhone can be a powerful creative tool."

And although he admitted that the iPhone cannot rival the traditional camera in every aspect, Mr Gray said he thinks it has some unique advantages. 

He said: "It's more accessible in terms of cost and more flexible in terms of being able to take photos whenever you want.

"And you can edit them wherever you are -  on your way home from work on the bus."

Mr Gray said that as well as taking and editing photos from their phones, users can also instantly share their creations. 

He said: "The social aspect is massive, there are very vibrant online communities - Instagram has around 15 million users."

The course, which runs throughout March, has also caught the attention of Apple who have agreed to host a workshop for the course at its flagship store on London's Regent Street.

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