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Get On With a Guide Dog

Guide dogs have a special status within the pet world. They ensure that their owners have additional confidence when going out, but they also offer up the opportunity to travel further afield. There are many organisations that offer guidance on travelling abroad with pets and protecting them with appropriate pet insurance is key.

Prepare for departure

It’s essential that if you are planning to travel with a Guide or assistance dog, plan ahead and discuss travel plans with your chosen airport, airline, and booking agent as well as the local Guide Dog Mobility Team or relevant assistance dog organisation. Making sure that all personnel are aware of your dogs prescence, will reduce the possibility of complications on the day of travel.


A dogs “Mum or Dad” should ensure that they have appropriate identification for themselves and their dog, so a Pet Passport for international travel, and copies of any documentation provided by the airline. A working safety harness will be required too, which will secure the animal case, during the take off and landing. Make sure they have something familiar and comforting – such as an old woolen jumper and well used toy. Reducing their food intake for a few days prior to travelling will reduce the possibility of gastric problems on the flight.

Staff at the airport who deal specifically with Pets Passport documentation should have forwarded details of your situation onto the Animal Reception Centre. Once clearance has been obtained ? your dog is free to enjoy a fresh experience abroad.

Homeward Bound

A return trip will require a blood test which may result in treatment for tape worms ? so allow up to 120 hours before you have to board a plane. If your pet has picked up some unwanted guests, treatment can take anything from 24 ? 120 hours. There are essential pre booking arrangements required when travelling with a dog ? so ensure that you have completed all necessary tests in good time before your flight.

For a return journey to the UK an Animal Clearance Officer will meet the dog and owner on the plane or at the arrival gate. Paperwork is checked and then dog and owner are directed onto Customs and Immigration and baggage reclaim.

The PET Travel Scheme, is also now available for international and long haul flights. EC regulation 1107/2006 states that most UK airports must have facilities to enable Guide Dogs and their owners to travel safely ? and the UK is working towards that directive.

If you want to check out which airports and airlines are already accommodate guide and assistance dogs through the PET Travel Scheme, take a look at DEFRAs website .

Bingo Calls

The truth behind bingo calls – why did the doctor order number nine, and who exactly is Dirty Gertie?

The world of bingo calls is a weird and wonderful one. There’s a rich and colourful history to many of them – and curious stories to some of the most obscure.

Of course, with the rise of online bingo, playing bingo in old-fashioned bingo halls is dying out. Although there used to be over 600 dedicated bingo halls in UK towns and cities, that’s gone down to under 400 now. Instead over three million people every year now play bingo online (that’s almost 5% of the population)!

bingo balls

Although it might seem like a shame for some bingo traditions to die out, there are some advantages to bingo becoming a mainstream online pastime; providers like Titan Bingo have come up with innovative new versions, giving them themes like Deal or No Deal, and even Britain’s Got Talent!

So there are definitely interesting advances in the world of modern day bingo, but we shouldn’t forget the rich history bingo has. It’s actually been around since the 1500s, and is now played in various forms around the world. Many countries have their own unique take on the game, including each country having different bingo ‘calls’ – the slang terms used to represent each of the numbers being drawn.

But where did those traditional bingo calls come from? Well, some are straight-forward enough rhyming slang; cup of tea, number three and tickety-boo, sixty two are some of the obvious examples of this. Others are more onomatopoeic, (clickety-click sixty six) or make reference to stars of the stage and screen; the number six becomes Tom Mix, the star of many silent era western films, and seventy two is named for Danny La Rue, the drag entertainer.

Several of the most traditional bingo calls have a military history, including one of the most obscure; doctor’s orders, number nine. The origins of this call come from the habit medical officers adopted in World War II, of writing prescriptions by number. The poor conditions and lack of variation in diet meant that constipation was common amongst men in the trenches, and the solution was a laxative; prescription number nine.

Trombones, seventy six is named for the military parade tune commonly played by marching bands. Presumably large ones, if they had that big a brass section! Dirty Gertie also has musical military associations – the rhyming slang for thirty, it comes from a bawdy song often sung by the Allied soldiers deployed in North Africa.

Other rhymes reference popular culture – such as thirty five the jump and jive, after the dance move. Another cultural reference comes from the only bingo call which changes from time to time, number ten. Named after the most famous number ten in British culture, the prime minister’s home in London. The call changes to name the current prime minister; Dave’s den – number ten.

Although it’s rare for the exact time a bingo call came into existence to be known, number 52 (chicken vindaloo) is known to have originated from a Butlin’s holiday camp in 2003 – possibly due to some kind of confusion over a restaurant order (possibly not…). Another food related call is number 57, which is usually recognised as ‘Heinz Beans’ – not for the beans themselves, but for Heinz’s famous slogan, explaining that there are 57 varieties of Heinz produce.

heinz beans

Although bingo is popular with both genders, many of the bingo calls certainly sounds like they’ve been made up by men, legs eleven, being a prime example for this. Two fat ladies are of course 88 – again this is based on the shape of the numbers. You might be puzzled to hear a shout of ‘stop farting’ echoing through the hall – although you should in fact be crossing off number 83, with the 8 thought to resemble a bottom, while the 3 is the escaping gas…

If you understand pre-decimalised British currency, you might also understand the reference to ‘was she worth it?’ for the number seventy six (an alternative to the trombones!). In old money, 7 and 6 was the cost of a marriage license – so the typical response from the crowd in a bingo hall, was ‘every penny!’ when the question was called out.

If you’re looking for something more philosophical, you might prefer Gandhi’s breakfast, number eighty (8 – ate, 0 – nothing). Or even ‘unlucky for some’ thirteen and lucky seven – which are common across many different cultures.

So there you have it – just a few of the intriguing and downright odd reasons behind some of the classic British bingo calls. No matter how advanced and high-tech the game of bingo becomes in the future, it’s always worth remembering a few of these classically British terms, and the origins of bingo.

Top Five Reasons To Switch Bank Account


Many customers never switch their current account and are seemingly content to stay with the same provider. However there are a number of reasons why switching your account could deliver real benefits.

money thoughts

Switching your current account is easier than you might think. Furthermore you could benefit financially from switching, or you may find that banking elsewhere is more convenient. Most customers shop around for mortgages, savings and life insurance, so why not shop around for your current account as well? Here we look at five ways you may benefit from changing your current account provider.

The scope of the online banking offering

24 hour access to information and the ability to transfer funds quickly at the click of a mouse are standard features of an internet banking package. But look more closely and see which banks offer the following, and how good their offering is in each area:

  • Availability of security software: some banks offer this free to all online customers.
  • Email and text alerts: some banks will let you know if your balance is sufficiently low to be of concern.
  • Additional products and services: some banks may offer their online customers certain products that are not available to other customers, or offer beneficial interest rates to online customers.
  • Mobile banking: with some banks you can download an application to your mobile phone which allows you to check balances, view recent transactions, transfer money between accounts or find your nearest branch or cash machine.

Interest rates

At times of very low base rates, some current accounts do not pay interest. You might therefore consider transferring to a provider that offers current account interest, although here an attractive interest rate may only be paid on the first £3,000 or so, with a much lower rate applying to the remainder. Also consider that the provider may only pay the enhanced rate if payments are made to the account every month. Overdraft terms may also be less attractive in higher interest accounts.

Overdraft charges

Overdrafts are charged at fairly high rates of interest, sometimes higher than those on credit cards, so it can pay to find the best terms on overdrafts. It is likely that there will be some providers offering interest-free overdrafts for a period of time, such as 12 months, or up to a certain amount, such as £250. For unauthorised overdrafts you can still expect high rates of interest.

Services at your local branch

You may wish to consider banking with a provider that has a branch nearer to your home or place of work, offers a wider range of services from your local branch, or has a local branch that is open for longer. It is impossible for all banks to offer their full range of services in all branches, but customers should expect as many branches as possible to open on Saturdays, and for as many as possible to offer services such as cash machines, personal financial advice and currency exchange.

Differences between packaged current accounts

Most banks now offer packaged accounts, in which a current account is the core product, but in return for payment of a fixed sum per month, you receive a number of additional benefits, usually including several insurance products. By comparing providers, you may find that one bank’s packaged account offers better value for money than another, or offers a range of associated benefits that you find more attractive.

The most common types of insurance offered here are breakdown, identity theft, mobile phone and travel insurance. Other incentives may include interest-free overdrafts and preferential rates on savings accounts or credit cards. Some packaged accounts also offer non-financial products, such as free DVD rentals or music downloads; or discounts on eating out and live entertainment.

A bank may have several different levels of packaged account, and by paying a larger monthly subscription, you receive additional benefits. The bank may restrict some of the options with the highest subscriptions to customers with a high income, or with a high level of savings with the same bank.