Skittles Three

So, we know it was the nickname for a famous courtesan and we know it is the name of a game that is similar to ten pin bowling.  But there is a third item in the Skittles series…  What we here in the UK call sweets, and what people in the US call candies.

So here are some Skittles facts that you may not have known:

1.  Skittles are made by Wrigley, an American company, now part of Mars.

2.  Skittles were launched in the US in 1979 (although not made there until 1982).

3.  The original flavours were Orange, Lemon, Lime, Grape and Strawberry.

4.  In the UK, bags of Skittles come in three flavours: Fruits, Crazy Sours and Confused.  The packs are either Fruits or Crazy Sours.

5.  There are 404kcal per 100g of Skittles.  Oops!

6.  In the States there are oodles more flavours available, including Tropical, Wild Berry and Sour.

7.  More than 200 million Skittles are manufactured on a daily basis.

8.  New varieties of Skittles were introduced in the US – Tropical Skittles (eg Banana, Kiwi, Mango) and Wild Berry (Raspberry, Strawberry and Wild Cherry).

9.  In 2004 in the States, Skittles Bubble Gum was launched.

10.  If you want more flavours, best you go to the States!

Happy eating!

©Susan Shirley 2013

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Beer and Skittles (Skittles Two)

Sorry the blog is late this week – busy week.

I have been known to say “That won’t keep me in beer and skittles,” but I have no idea where the saying came from, so I thought I’d try to find out.

The Freedictionary.com refers to “life isn’t all beer and skittles” as not being able to have fun all the time.  Most of the references I found said just this.  Apparently, it was a phrase coined in the 19th century.  It’s quoted in Tom Brown’s Schooldays, and Charles Dickens used a variation of it in The Pickwick Papers, “They don’t mind it; it’s a regular holiday to them – all porter and skittles.”

The game of Skittles, by the way, has been around since the nineteenth century and is similar to ten-pin bowling.  (Funnily enough, it was also known as Ninepins.)  Apparently, it’s still played.  It was a pub game, with the pins set up in a kind of square pattern and the players were supposed to knock the pins down with a ball.  There is also a table version of the game (and I think I have seen that one on my travels).

Porter is a type of ale – if you see the old pubs with the glazed tiles, you’ll often see a reference to porter imprinted in the tiles.

I was beginning to think I’d made up my expression until I came across a website called word-detective.com.  There is a 2010 entry that says, “Sam’s parking fine payments keep the city in beer and skittles.”  Word-detective.com is a US website, so maybe the original English phrase changed a bit due to the water in between the two countries?  Anyway, I’m happy now that I know roughly how it originated and that I didn’t imagine hearing it somewhere.

Have a good week.

©Susan Shirley 2013

Coronation Festival

I was lucky enough to have been invited to the Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace today (and huge thanks to both my escorts).  Today was the Royal Preview Day – and yes, I did manage to catch a glimpse of Prince Edward and Princess Anne.  There were other members of the Royal Family there, but I didn’t see them.

Quite aside from the fact that it was the most beautiful summer’s day, with just a slight breeze to take the edge off the heat of the day, it was absolutely fantastic.

The first thing I noticed was the gardens.  They are beautiful.  A variety of different colours and flowers (no, I don’t know the names, I’m not that good).  I was told that they are 46 acres in size (Wikipedia says 42, but let’s not argue about a mere 4 acres in the centre of London).  Honestly, you wouldn’t know that you are in the centre of London, it is so peaceful.  The garden keepers use the minimum of pesticides, to encourage wildlife, and, of course, they compost regularly.  We weren’t there for the gardens though, and, naturally, we found somewhere to buy champagne and sat under a huge tree to drink the first bottle.  It was lovely to just sit there and watch the world go by for a while.

The event itself was hosted by the Royal Warrant Holders Association, each with a stand exhibiting their goods.  There were some absolutely fabulous items on sale – my absolute favourite was The General Trading Company, I’ll be placing an order there – and huge thanks to Clarins for the goody bags they gave to all the ladies.  And Gordon’s Gin, with their two new flavours, one infused with cucumber, the other with elderflower…  (No, I don’t get commission for any of this; I just had a wonderful time and have to tell you what I enjoyed.)

Jaguar Land Rover was there, along with its F-type sports car – it was beautiful; and matched my lipstick perfectly!  The Bentley’s were beautiful too, but I couldn’t persuade them to give me one just because it had finger marks on it.

And, I have to say, all the exhibitors I met were absolutely charming and great fun too.  Thank you to everyone for a fantastic time.

 

©Susan Shirley 2013

Skittles – One – Catherine Walters

A few weeks ago, my brother, his wife and I went on an organised London Walk, led by a tour guide.  We all like walking, and I am interested in history, so it ticked a few boxes and was actually good fun, so I’ll be doing more of those.

Whilst on the walk, we passed the house where a woman known as Skittles used to live.  Skittles, aka Catherine Walters, who was one of the last great courtesans of the Victorian Era.

Maybe it’s because I’ve met a few over the years, but I find the whole prostitution thing quite interesting.  I don’t mean the ones who are sold into slavery and forced to perform, or the drug addicts that sell their bodies as a means to fund their habit.  No, not them, I mean the ones, like Skittles, who made money and kept it.

Skittles herself (believed to have been given that nickname because she once worked in a bowling alley) moved to London just before she was 20.  By all accounts, she was great beauty, and a skilled horsewoman – Sir Edwin Landseer’s painting The Shrew Tamed depicts her lying down with a horse.

Catherine counted among her lovers the Prince of Wales (who went on to become Edward VII), Napoleon III, the 8th Duke of Devonshire (although he didn’t have this title at the time, he was the Marquess of Huntingdon) and Achille Fould (the French Finance Minister).  She was rumoured to be involved with a number of wealthy men, but she would never confirm or deny the rumours, but, because she would never confirm or deny, her “currency” as a courtesan increased.

Skittles retired from society in 1890, a wealthy woman, and she died at the grand old age of 81.  Not bad for a girl who was one of five children, born in Liverpool, daughter of a customs official!

©Susan Shirley 2013