Country Life Today: how the humble elderflower became big business

In today's news round-up, we look at the extraordinary rise of elderflower from weed to the key ingredient in one of Britain's favourite drinks, examine the impact of climate change on the oceans and reveal which famous locomotive is going on display in York.

The little weed that became a big business

The ultimate success story, a flower which most people consider to be a weed has turned itself into a multi-million-pound industry in the UK.

A far cry from when elderflower foraged for the odd jar of jam, fields in the East Midlands are awash with little white flowers grown to satisfy the UK’s growing need for elderflower cordial and similar products.

Over the past few years, elderflower has filled a gap in the market that no one knew was there, providing an alcohol-free alternative to the ever-popular Prosecco.

Full story (Yorkshire Post)


Extreme sea level events predicted to rise to one a year by 2050

Events which used to occur once in a century are becoming more frequent, predicted to strike as often as once a year on some coasts in thirty years.

The latest report from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that serious consequences are in store, whether we curb emissions or not. As half of the world’s biggest cities and around 2 billion people live on coasts around the world, scientists expect rising sea levels to cause trillions in damage and lead to millions of migrants escaping the adverse conditions.

Full story (Guardian)


Stephenson’s Rocket on display in York

Today, Stephenson’s Rocket, the 1829 locomotive that powered the first inter-city railway journeys, goes on show at York’s National Railway Museum, as part of a new exhibition called ‘Brass, Steel and Fire’.

The Rocket, which at one stage was Britain’s most advanced engine, was last displayed twenty years ago and will now remain on view for at least ten years.

Full story (BBC)


Cats do form strong bonds with their owners, just like their canine friends

Burmese kitten – sniffing at flower

Despite popular opinion classing dogs as Man’s Best Friend and cats as satan with fur, new research now shows that our smaller furry friends do form the same bonds with their owners that their more-affectionate counterparts do.

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that cats actually rely on their owners for emotional stability. After being placed in an unfamiliar room with their caregiver for two minutes and then left alone for another two, around 65% of the cats monitored showed signs of being less stressed at the re-introduction of their caregiver.

And what is the cause of this? Insecurity, says Dr Kristyn Vitale, who led the research project. Far from being independent, ‘your cat is depending on you to feel secure when they are stressed out’ says Dr Vitale.

Full story (Telegraph)


Mont Blanc glacier is about to collapse because of climate change

A glacier on the Italian side of Mont Blanc is close to breaking away. A vast mass of ice from the Planpincieux glacier on the Grandes Jorasses peak is sliding towards the valley below at a speed of 16-23in a day. Nearby roads have been closed and mountain chalets evacuated to protect the population.

The local mayor believes climate change is to blame, with rising temperatures making the mountain ‘particularly vulnerable’.

Full story (BBC)


On this day…the Beatles released Abbey Road

The album, with its iconic cover, was issued on September 26, 1969, and became an instant success, even though some critics panned it at the time (it has since become regarded as one of the band’s best works).

Although Let It Be was released about six months later, most of it had been completed before Abbey Road, which was the last album the four Beatles recorded together — John Lennon announced he would leave the group six days before the album’s release, although the news was kept under wraps.


And finally…there’s ceramic in your phone

Say ceramics and the word conjures up images of decorative vases, sleek dinner plates and quaint teapots. But the material is finding a new lease on life in unexpected places — from cars to mobile phones, which have more than 600 ceramic components.

The industry is at the forefront of innovation, with ceramics already being used or poised to make their way into aerospace engines, heat management and, almost incredibly, prescription pain killers, where they could help reduce dependency.

Full story (BBC)