Travel Broadens The Mind…Globetrotting

I’ve been travelling this week peeps and being as I had to shut Audrey down for take off and landing, BA’s business:life magazine got a pretty good going over. So I’ve found a whole lot of new travel trivia to broaden your mind/help you win your next pub quiz.

Let’s start with the big picture.

It would seem that the economic climate has not done anything to significantly dampen our wanderlust with the number of international tourists increasing by 4% last year to 1.035bn. Where they have been going, who knows. But I’ll bet it’s not to one of the world’s ten most pessimistic nations, eight of which are in Europe.

Britain’s youngsters are also doing their bit to boost the travel dollar with 78% of them having travelled abroad at least once and more than 38,000 of them flying out of Heathrow on BA unaccompanied last year. Perhaps they are off to see one or two of the 79% of British expats who have no intention of returning to the UK. Or perhaps a bit of fiscal squeezing – after all £26,500 is the average full-time salary in Britainmeans that the precious little darlings are simply leaving Mummy and Daddy at home.

But let’s think about some other possible reasons for fleeing England’s green pastures grey dampness. Contrary to what you may be expecting, I’m not putting the weather at the top of the list although it’s probably up there. But the Brits already love to moan about weather that’s uncomfortable, inconvenient and inclement and quite frankly, need no futher encouragement.

No, it would appear that there may be a darker tale to be told. 

It would seem that 53% of UK employees think it is OK to steal confidential corporate data – I’ll bet you anything you like that their employers are a little less accepting. But as 68% of UK private sector employees are not members of a workplace retirement scheme, I’ll leave you to do the maths on what the benefits of such information-gathering may bring and how all those English expats can afford to stay abroad.

So what else could one do with a few extra quid? Well, you could book yourself in to a Moscow hotel room – you’ll find the most expensive rooms in the world there – or treat yourself to a little nip and tuck and become just another one of the 15 million people around the world having plastic surgery (or they were in 2011 anyway).

But if you are not inclined to such corporate indiscretion, you may well have been exposed in other ways, finding yourself on someone’s social media feed, the focal point of a work Christmas ‘do’ montage. You’d be in the minority though as only 11% of British workers have had embarrassing photos taken of them at a work event and uploaded to a social media site.

London’s Lord Mayor Boris Johnson ‘hanging around’.

In the meantime, it would seem that while the rest of the world embraces the wonders of modern technology (did you know that 75% of the world’s heads of state are on Twitter), the French remain firmly rooted in the antiquated traditonal: 46 cheques are issued per person per year in France compared with the average across all 17 EC members states being two. Vive la penmanship!

And just when you thought, after roaming the world botoxed and sans parents, you’d return to the comfortable and familiar, it’s all change back in Ol’ Blighty with Polish officially becoming Britain’s second language.

It leaves me wondering how ‘cor blimey guv’nor’ translates…

Travel Broadens The Mind – Back Catalogue
…Let’s Play!
…It’s A Virtual Life
…The Euro Zone
…All About The Readies
…Flights Of Fancy
…Or So They Say

Travel Broadens The Mind…Worrywarts

I have been a bit of a travelling wilbury of late, meaning much mile-high consumption of a vast range of reading material. Audrey‘s had quite a workout but with the rules being what they are, there are about 20 minutes per flight when, after dutifully switching her off for take-off and landing, I wonder what to do with myself. And that’s when BA’s business:life magazine comes to the fore.

There’s been a bit of a change in format with the latest edition and I’m not sure of some of the new ‘regulars’ (rare earth metal of the month being the most random). But you’ll be pleased to know that the fascinating facts are still there so I’m delighted to bring you this latest edition of Travel Broadens The Mind.

This post’s theme has been inspired by the pessimism of the British. Amazingly, in this nation of worrywartsone quarter of Britain’s HR Executives have no formal policy to manage employee stress and anxiety.

It’s a big problem. British workers have a lot to contend with on a daily basis. I mean did you know that they lose 10 million individual socks each year?

I wonder where all of the lost socks go. A lot seem to disappear in my washing machine, odd socks finding their way into my basket without their significant other. Sometimes I find a rogue sock ensconsed in a trouser leg but some seem to have disappeared for all eternity. business:life reveals that there’s a fair bit of clutter in the average UK attic – £2,800 worth in fact. Gidday HQ doesn’t have an attic but does have a cellar – do you think they might be there?

In the meantime, what should one do? I’m not sure about wearing odd socks so should one buy all socks the same so that they can be re-paired with new matchy mates? It’s quite a conundrum. Particularly since 1 in 3 UK women hates shopping for clothes. (For the record, I’m in the two thirds.)

Maybe it’s best to take a rest from the issue at hand altogether. Not only does a holiday sound like an excellent plan but by getting the destination right, you can actually avoid sock-gate altogether with a range of sandals, slides and flip flops thongs (unless you are a socks and sandals kind of saddo gal/guy). But it will likely take you 9 days to get back into a work routine after returning from holiday so all of those HR executives will have just a little bit more to worry about.

Just goes to show what goes around comes around.

But it won’t be long before the stress-o-meter will be up again – at least for the 14 million families in Britain living with unfinished home improvements.

Because let’s face it.

There’s nothing like an un-done to-do list to give you something to worry about.

Travel Broadens The Mind – Back Catalogue
…Let’s Play!
…It’s A Virtual Life
…The Euro Zone
…All About The Readies
…Flights Of Fancy
…Or So They Say

Travel Broadens The Mind…Let’s Play!

I’ve been travelling of late so it’s time for another dip into BA’s business:life magazine for a few fascinating facts to top up your dinner party conversation. And in the spirit of all work and no play making for a rather dull life (as the saying goes), I thought we’d delve into the subject of play and what makes a Brit get ‘social’.

First it has to be said that the divide between work and play is ever-blurred with 1 in 3 Britons meeting most of their friends through work. I concur heartily with this generalisation, my own personal experience being that much of this friend-making occurs after work. And with one year in the life of the average Briton spent drinking in the pub, I’d suggest that if you are feeling ‘lonesome tonight’, the best advice would appear to be polish up your drinking boots.

Speaking of drinking boots, did you know that £2.5bn is spent annually by British women on uncomfortable shoes? Me neither. (Although now that Seattle-A has departed these shores, that figure may come down a bit.)

Drinking boots come in many different shapes and sizes…

Another £1bn a year is donated lost by British gamblers in slot machines – perhaps these are the same people – the 44% of Britons – who don’t consider pensions to be a source of retirement funding. Hmmm sounds to me like there’ll be no more Choo Shoes for Granny…. 

But there’s still plenty of fun to be had on the cheap  All you need to do is listen to the voice within58 mintues a week being the average time Britons have a catchy song stuck in their heads – probably from listening to the tune some ear-plugged and oblivious dude is availing everyone else of in the train carriage/bus/general vicinity. Or you could hang out down at the farm. Yes, 77% of farmers play music to their livestock – although I would not suggest getting jiggy with…well anything…while you’re down there.

And finally let me astound you with a little bit of amazing arithmetic. There are 28.5 million cars on British roads and 10 million fixed penalty notices were issued to British motorists in the last 12 months. That’s…um…*screws up face*…erm…*counts on fingers*…er…*resorts to calculator*…a little less than 1 in 3 vehicles that earned themselves a little special attention for speeding, having a broken headlight, not wearing a seatbelt (that’d be the occupants of said vehicle) or parking in the vicinity of a really confusing sign.

And if you find yourself a little short of paying, you can ask your retired parents or grandparents to release a little equity from their bricks and mortar – 31% will do it to help their nearest and dearest.

I wonder what the percentage is Down Under?

Mum? Dad?

Travel Broadens The Mind – Back Catalogue
…It’s A Virtual Life
…The Euro Zone
…All About The Readies
…Flights Of Fancy
…Or So They Say

Travel Broadens The Mind…It’s A Virtual Life

It’s been a little while since Gidday from the UK has dipped into the pages of BA’s business:life magazine. But a quick trip to Pilsen this week meant that I had some time to waste invest in finding a few fascinating facts to share with you.

Interestingly, this post follows the same examination of a particular topic by some of my blogging brethren. The Day Social Media Took Over My Life, Bilingual Baby M and The Facebook by expat bloggers Russell in Sydney, Linda in The Hague and Kirsty in Dubai respectively have all explored the pros and cons, the whys and wherefores, of social media. 

Like it or not, our world is becoming more and more digital and we continue to embrace it in all its doubtful glory as evidenced by the hype around Facebook’s floatation this month. According to business:life, we watch sport online (36% of 18-35 year-old Europeans watch more sport online than on TV) and book holidays online (that’d be 2/3 of Britons). And 4.9 million people used WiFi hotspots in hotels, coffee shops, restaurants and airports in the UK last year. So even outside the dual digital domains of work and home we continue to ‘plug in’.  

In fact 10% of people would rather give up their car than be disconnected from the internet…she says, tap-tap-tapping away here having given up her vehicle some two and a half years ago.

But I digress.

Did you know that 54% of British children say they’d rather go to Google with a query than ask their parents or teachers? What a sad indictment. Although this is probably just as well. Apparently 50% of British adults think that Mount Everest is in the UK. This does not bode well for today’s British babies, 1/3 of whom will live until the age of 100.

business:life statistics reveal that 20% of us check our bank accounts at least once a day – could you imagine popping into the bank and standing in line every day? No thank you. All hail the internet I say!

And let’s face it – the job market will never be the same again with 150 million people and more than 2 million companies worldwide using LinkedIn. But be warned. 1 in 5 bosses turned down a candidate because of their profile on social networking sites.

So it would appear that it still pays to be circumspect. To keep some things private

Especially as 28% of British workers deem nose picking to be the most anti-social workplace activity.

Do you think that’s why 90% of people would still hang onto their car?

Travel Broadens The Mind – Back Catalogue
…The Euro Zone
…All About The Readies
…Flights Of Fancy
…Or So They Say

Travel Broadens The Mind…The Euro Zone

I’ve been a Travelling Wilbury again peeps and this week’s expedition found me in Nuremberg, Germany. While there hasn’t been much of an opportunity to sightsee, I’ll be sharing some spectacular pics and a brief highlights package when next I put fingers to keyboard.  But in the meantime, I’ve been browsing BA’s business:life magazine to see what’s new in the world of fascinating facts.
Having been in Germany this week, it seems only appropriate to make a start with the locals so according to USwitch/WHO, 66.5% of Germans are overweight, making them the fattest nation in Europe. Must be all that beer and sausage. 
Not to be outdone, Britons holidaying in France gain an average of 7.3lbs over a fortnight (cheese and wine related methinks) and 6% of Scottish high street shops are takeaway food outlets (I suspect the heady delights of deep fried Mars Bars come in here somewhere). But 82% of Spanish holidaymakers say they can’t live without herbal teabags and 63% of Spanish women are dissatisfied with their lives. Let me see, cheese and wine or herbal teabags. Seems a pretty simple equation to me. Attendez-moi, s’il vous plait!
Speaking of holidays, did you know that Irish workers get the lowest holiday entitlement in Europe (29 days)? There’s clearly so much to be done harvesting potatoes, making widget-induced alcohol, marketing expensive glass crystal and encouraging gullible visitors to their fair isle to hang upside down and plant their smackers on some old stone. Spare a thought for the less diligent Swedes and Portugese who enjoy a further 10 days left to their own devices. 
On second thoughts, it probably takes an extra 10 days per annum to assemble flat pack furniture so I think we are down to the Portugese as the most relaxed nation in Europe.
As a single gal, it would be remiss of me not to include a couple of key insights into the European singles scene. Lucky for me, 60% of men across Britain, France, Spain and Italy (as well as the US and Brazil) say they prefer brunettes. And 73% of British singletons seeking a partner rate a good sense of humour as a must-have trait. 
(Note to self: dark and funny, dark and funny, dark and funny. Repeat such affirmation each morning while wondering whether to pluck irreverent silver threads from my still largely brunette barnet.)
And last but certainly not least, it’s back to the green and slightly drizzly isle of Great Britain. In typical understated British style, without boasting, shouting or any remote sense of preening, I was informed by a soundbite in the magazine sidebar that Cambridge is the top university in the world. So it would appear that that unique blend of British intelligence and Victorian modesty is alive and well and did not disappear with Mr Humphreys being free to stroke Mrs Slocombe’s pussy.
But I also learnt that one fifth of British people do not know a dairy cow is a female. So maybe the world’s best is just ‘keeping its powder dry’ and we shall see cleverness unleashed in it’s finest form on University Challenge
Or maybe they are just otherwise engaged training for next year’s boat race.
For more fascinating conversation starters for your next cocktail soiree or dinner party, check out my other Travel Broadens The Mind posts:
You’ll never be lost for words again.

Travel Broadens The Mind…All About The Readies

Regular Gidday disciples may be expecting some travelling tales to make you green(ish) with envy. But I still have some significant photo culling to do – digital cameras definitely encourage much snap-happy behaviour – so it won’t be the subject of this post. You’ll just have to be patient a little bit longer.

But you know what it means when I do travel don’t you – more facts of life courtesy of BA’s business:life magazine. And this time it’s all about the readies.

So the nitty gritty is this. 20% more needs to be earnt by families this year than last to maintain living standards.

Not the most joyous of equations is it?  But before we despair too much, let’s take a little squiz at where the money is actually going.

Firstly £7.7bn is spent annually by Britons on maintaining their gardens. I can certainly attest to having admired the glory of British gardens since I arrived here in January 2004 so to my way of thinking, this is money well spent.

Next, 12% of British households pay for domestic help. Let’s see: housework vs, well anything else. I think I’ll be helping to push that up to 13%  real soon.

But then we are not watching the pennies everywhere, particularly where the kiddies are concerned with 66% of parents admitting to buying their children clothes they only wear once.  Although let’s face it, Primark stuff doesn’t last much past the first wash.

And how’s this for a kicker. £50m is the annual cost of disposing of junk mail in England. That’s getting rid of all of that mostly useless crap that comes through the mail slot. I recycle mine. Does that make a difference?

They say with age comes wisdom. 20% of UK car owners buy their first soft-top convertible in their 50s. 85% of British women over 50 spend more on their summer holiday wardrobe than they spend on their actual holiday and 71% of British grandparents are on Facebook. Sounds to me like grey power is having all the fun.

But with 6 million Britons having no savings – despite 43% seeking financial advice from family and friends (what does this say about the other 57%?) – and 30% giving investment in shares a wide berth, it’s hard to see how we are ever going to fund these good times of the future.

Just as well 2/3 of households have one or more bicycles and 55% still haven’t visited St Paul’s Cathedral.

I predict a growth in staycations!

Travel Broadens The Mind…Flights Of Fantasy

As you know, I have been travelling over the last couple of weeks and you know what that means – more of my wry observations on the facts of life according to BA’s business:life magazine! (Calm down peeps, I know you can barely contain your excitement.)

The theme of the June 2011 issue of business:life is ‘If At First You Don’t Succeed…why we all need to fail’.  Whilst I whole-heartedly agree with the sentiment (and in fact, the general tone of the articles), the ‘stats sound bites’ strewn throughout seemed to suggest that perhaps the realms of fantasy are society’s preferred option.

We start with that perennial favourite, the body beautiful.  According to business:life sources, one third of UK women would be prepared to trade at least a year of their life in exchange for an ‘ideal body’.  I have news for them.  Obsessing about the ideal body and what constitutes this has probably shortened their lifespan already.  Particularly since Britons don’t start worrying about their health until aged 39 – I suspect the additional 4 inches around the waistline is probably the first clue.  And then a third think that they will grow their own fruit and veg this summer – a healthy and noble ambition, no less. Does digging up garden beds gone to seed cover the ‘needing to fail’ bit?  Might also count as exercise…two birds with one stone there.
Next we take a look at what we’ve been doing other than worrying and planting a few carrots and strawbs – watching telly.  One fifth of Britons have been motivated to start their own business after watching programmes such as Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice. So I have a question – does this mean they actually started a business or just got a nice, warm feeling about it?  Reports that business failures are actually down 7.9% across the UK for Jan/Feb 2011 versus the previous year would appear to be an encouraging sign. However, the Welsh have clearly not been paying attention – with business failures up 23.9%, I suspect that the nice, warm feeling has passed them by.  Although there’s 2.2 million potholes in Britain – perhaps that repesents a business opportunity in the offing or at the very least, an episode of The Apprentice.  Oh, sorry they already have that – when the candidates lug their shovels with them into their interviews and proceed to dig deep, deep, deep holes… 

On the subject of starting one’s own business, 53% of Britain’s entrepreneurs put their success down to their innate talents, rather than learnt skills or education. (Perhaps pot-hole identification is genetic?)  So I ask you this – what are Mums-and-Dads (M-A-D) doing paying squillions for privately educated children (£360,000 apparently) to then attend fee-paying universities?  And then spending an average of £772 to bail their little darlings out on their gap year?  No wonder 38% of Britons would use a discount voucher on a first date and 23% of British readers are attracted to e-books because of the cost.

And as to the value of all this education?  Well, one in five Britons thinks Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple are historical figures.  I rest my case…

And finally, in light of my re-entry into singledom this year, let’s look to the state of romance here in the UK:

16% of British adults are planning a holiday with their parents this year.

312 is the number of times the average couple argues each year.

72% of young British men never buy flowers for their loved ones.

On the other hand, let’s not.

Travel Broadens The Mind…Or So They Say

They say travel broadens the mind.  So it is in this spirit that I would like to share what I learnt during this week’s excursion into the pages of one of British Airways erstwhile mags, business:life.

Firstly, did you know that 65% of British adults have no idea how to wire a plug? No? Well, I figure that as long as we have some competent electricians in the remaining 35%, I’m pretty comfortable with leaving this task out of my repertoire. Aren’t you?

Then I turned the page to discover that 83% of smartphone owners regularly play games on them (I am not one of them – a game player I mean!) and that 26% of all mobile phone apps are only opened once after being downloaded (usually because they’re free and pretty rubbish – you get what you pay for in this life).  This all seemed little bit like stating the obvious but trotting out some ‘proper’ stats at the next do I attend should up my ‘street cred’ no end.

On the subject of travel, I found out that £860 is the average cost of a holiday per person and that one third return to the same spot for their annual break.  Also, one third of Britons admit to imbibing five or more alcoholic drinks  a day while on holiday – not an amazing statistic in and of itself as I think this is commonly known as chillin’. But 10% of the British population also show some signs of dyslexia. Probably because we like to behave like we are on permanent holiday when it comes to alcohol consumption. (By the way, does this mean that the remaining 90% just can’t spell?) 

Things then took a disturbing turn. 

70 is the number of times the average Briton is caught on CCTV daily.  All I can say is I hope they are getting my good side.  And a small note to self here: pay a little more attention to the details on the back-side – I don’t like my chances of a ‘positive’ response to ‘does my bum look big in this?’.

But even worse: apparently 1 in 5 UK motorists surf the internet while drivingWhat the ****!? Is this somehow related to the 83% of gamers on smart-phones? Is this a rebellion against not talking on the phone whilst driving? Where’s that CCTV when you need it!?

By the end of the magazine, Britain’s good ol’ bastion of air travel had resorted to calling us all liars. 1 in 6 restaurants lies about the ‘fresh’ or ‘organic’ origins of its produce  (another ‘no s**t Sherlock’ moment). And apparently, 27% of Britons admit to lying about what they do on their weekend in order to impress others. Hey, you guys know what I am doing for at least a few hours each weekend as it appears right here – let me tell you it takes time to craft such thought-provoking and witty prose.

So I reached the end of the mag, and having enjoyed all of these titbits of knowledge, am smiling a little to myself as I close it, ready for its reinsertion into the seat-back pocket in front of me, when something else catches my eye and I just couldn’t help feeling that the question that business:life posed on behalf of BA to all we readers on the last page was somewhat ironic…

May we offer you something to drink?

God I love travelling!