Country Life Today: The fiery reason the sky is turning purple at sunset

In today's news round-up we bring you Britain’s best pubs, lift the veil on the Loch Ness monster and reveal why we are seeing magnificent purple sunset.

Twilight sparkle

If your sunsets look more spectacular than usual these days, you can thank volcanoes. Powerful eruptions in Russia and Papua New Guinea have sent gases and dust into the stratosphere. This scatters blue light, giving the sky a deep purple glow at twilight.

The colours are best seen after sunset on clear nights.

Full story (The Times)

What’s wrong with whales?

Growing numbers of dolphins, whales and porpoises are washing up on British shores, with more than 1,000 stranded in 2017 alone.

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But there is a silver lining: research has also shown that a wide range of species is swimming off the British coasts, including one — the dwarf sperm whale — that had never been seen before.

Full story (Country Life)

Crayfish on the move

Relocations hardly come more luxurious than this: 350 white-clawed crayfish have been hand-collected from a stretch of the River Witham by Environment Agency officers and moved to a secret haven in a Lincolnshire lake.

This is the second time that crayfish are moved in Lincolnshire, after a first, successful relocation in 2017. The initiative is part of a wider scheme to halt the decline of the crustaceans, which are under threat from the invasive signal crayfish.

Full story (Rutland & Stamford Mercury)

Top pint

Want to know where the best pub in the country is? Head to Lancashire. The Inn at Whitewell has nabbed the prestigious accolade at the latest Good Pub Guide awards.

Another Lancastrian pub, The Assheton Arms, was named Dining Pub of the Year and two more made it into the top ten for Own Brew and Town Pub respectively.

Full story (Country Life)

Why petting your dog is good for you

New research by international academics, shared by Tombola, has revealed that stroking a dog (but also a cat, a rabbit and even a turtle) for just 15 minutes a day can lower your blood pressure by 10%.

According to the study, the motion releases hormones, such as serotonin, that improve your wellbeing and can help reduce anxiety.

Full story (Gloucestershire Live)

On this day…

Mary Stuart was crowned Queen of Scotland in Stirling. By the time of her coronation, at the ripe old age of nine months, the baby queen had already being reigning for almost the entirety of her short life — she had succeeded her father, James V, when she was just six days old.

In practice, however, Mary ruled over Scotland for only six years: from August 1561 — when she returned from France, where she had spent much of her childhood and married the Dauphin, later King Francis II —to July 1567, when she was forced to abdicate in favour of her son, James VI of Scotland, who later became James I of England.

Loch Ness’s slippery surprise

Nessie’s mystery may have been solved and it’s nowhere near as exciting as you’d hope.

Scientists from New Zealand’s University of Otago think ‘it’s plausible’ that the Scottish monster may be nothing more than an overgrown eel.

Full story (Country Life)

And finally…how to bag the rarest 50p coins

Coin collectors are scouring the country in search of a special 50p coin featuring Peter Rabbit. Never previously released, the 2019 commemorative coin has now been put into circulation by collectors’ website The Great British Coin Hunt (TGBCH). The catch is that TGBCH are only distributing 400 coins at different locations across Britain, making it extremely hard for people to come across one.

The fun is obviously in the hunt, but if you can’t be bothered to look for the precious 50p, you can buy one from The Royal Mint for £10.
Full story (Devon Live)