Is it worth visiting Father Christmas in Lapland with no snow?

We booked plane tickets to Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland on an incongruously sweltering day last July. For months our five-year-old has been asking when we’d be going to visit Father Christmas. Touching down on a runway silvered with salt and ice earlier this week, my son’s first remark: “Where’s the snow, mummy?” Snow has been surprisingly absent in the capital of Lapland. The mildest November in 60 years follows a record-breaking hot summer. Several tour companies have cancelled trips from the

Five things to do in Lapland when there's no snow

I must have checked the weather forecast in Lapland an average of 20 times a day in the run-up to our Christmas trip of a lifetime. For months, I had told my five-year-old that we were going to visit Santa in the North Pole (although, technically Finnish Lapland is nowhere near). Except, as the forecast and news articles kept telling me, there was no snow this year. Lapland has experienced the mildest November for 60 years. When my family and I touched down on the runway at Rovaniemi Airport la

It's about time the movie-famous Thai beach closed - I've been there and it's chaos

“Have you been to where they filmed The Beach yet?” It’s one of the first questions you’re met with upon arrival at the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi. Famous for its starring role in Danny Boyle’s 2000 film featuring Leonardo Di Caprio, Maya Bay went from practically deserted in 1999 to a tourist magnet attracting in excess of 200 boats and 5,000 visitors a day - this on a shoreline only 800-ft long and 50-ft deep.

Why we should all love the vulture

Have a bone to pick with the scraggy vulture? Just remember they’re vital as nature’s waste disposers – which is why their decline is very bad news… Vultures, with their big, ungainly wings, beaky faces and fondness for scavenging on dead meat, have a terrible reputation. They are seen as harbingers of death, circling dying animals, ready to pick at decaying flesh. But they don’t deserve a bad press. They offer a vital service by feasting on carrion, protecting us from diseases spread by rotten

Parenting as a Digital Nomad – Parenting Stories –

We weren’t the usual tourists to Mo’orea, which is favored by honeymooners rather than shoestring-budget backpackers like my husband and I, kid in tow. Traveling with kids is challenging at the best of times, and our around-the-world trip was not as Instagram-friendly as the millennial digital nomads would have you believe. I’m a writer, so I had the luxury of being able to work from anywhere in the world. But I still had to find a way to juggle deadlines, time zones, and caring for a three-year

Should We Pay Mothers to Donate Placentas? – Member Feature Stories –

Just a few drops of cord blood contain billions of stem cells. Cord blood stem cells are already used to treat 82 diseases, including leukemia, sickle cell disease, and severe combined immunodeficiencies. A successful cord blood stem cell transplant can allow patients to rebuild their immune systems and start producing healthy blood cells. Bone marrow or alternative sources of stem cells might be the preferred treatment option for many diseases, but cord blood is particularly useful for situati

Should US mothers be paid to donate placentas?

Birth is messy. It’s often not until you’re pregnant that you learn about the third stage of labor – the bit after the baby appears, when the mother pushes out the placenta that has provided life support for the previous nine months. In developed nations, birth is assumed to be safe. Yet in the United States, the maternal mortality rate doubled between 1990 and 2013, and infant mortality rates are rising in England and Wales, due largely to social inequality and cuts to maternity services. As

The world's most electric animals

From electric eels to the execution chair, the story of electricity involves more than a shock or two. So, just how did scientists use nature to harness this mysterious force? We think of electricity as something man-made and modern. But, in fact, it exists in all of us biologically and it took the discovery of a fish capable of zapping us with 600 volts for us to learn how to generate it artificially. That creature was the so-called electric eel (Electrophorus electricus), native to the Amaz

Kids love this game but is it safe?

The choice is simple: do you want to be a pizza baker, a pizza boxer, a cashier or the delivery person? Once you’ve decided, your job is to ensure the pepperonis get to their customers successfully and on time. Easy. This might not sound like the most exciting of roleplay games for teenagers or adults. But for children under 12, the basic premise of Roblox and its multitude of games – such as “Working in a Pizza Shop” – have proved hugely popular.

Meet the women training violent prisoners how to stitch

Embroidery: the word conjures images of fine society ladies, their delicate fingers working at a sampler. But it’s a little-known fact that the largest workforce of hand-stitchers in Europe is made up of big burly men in some of Britain’s toughest prisons. For the last 20 years, volunteers for the charity Fine Cell Work have been going into 32 British jails to teach inmates how to stitch. The 500 prisoners involved, 96 per cent of them male, spend on average 24 hours per week on their embroider
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