Monday, August 27, 2007

La Marianne -The Symbol of The French Republic

By Lin Davidson

Marianne is the symbolic representation of the motherland spirit; healing, peaceful, nourishing and protecting. She is beautiful by the diversity of the people who devised her and who made her rich and with fine features. She is the daughter or girl of light and is the woman made beautiful. She is sometimes considered like a queen of France. Her creation at first featured some specific Greek/Roman antique drawings such as Athena, Venus or Bellone, and the catholic figure of the Virgin Mary.

The origin of the name seems to be a coming together of Marie and Anne, two Christian names of the 18th century among the catholic population of the royals of France, and carried by several queens, like Marie of Medicis, Anne of Austria, and Marie-Antoinette. The use of the name Marianne as a symbol of the republic has been attributed to the revolutionary song in ‘occitan’, ‘La Garisou de Marianno’ (in French La Guerison de Marianne), the healing of Marianne by Guillaume Lavabre. The name of Marianne was, at the end of the 18th century, very widespread in the working classes and notably carried by girls of the country who served in the bourgeoisies houses. The song recounted the avatars of the new regime, very likely written in October 1792, a dozen days only after the foundation of the republic. It put in motion the first occurrence of the name Marianne which became the symbol of the republic. Marianne is representative of the revenge of the servants towards the nobles, the people at the bottom towards those on top. The writer of the song, Guillaume Lavabre, was a shoemaker from Puylaurens. The village of Puylaurens claimed from then on the title of ‘berceau Occitan de la Marianne republicaine”.

This name is representative of the people. The revolutionaries adopted this to symbolize the change of regime, but above all, they made the symbol of the motherland, the mother who nourishes and protects the children of the republic. The republicans of the Midi contributed also and adopted this name for their political ideal. The use of this name, like the symbol, was born of a consensus between the partisans and the adversaries of the republic, and then rapidly accepted by all of the French people. Rumours indicate that the first model was a young girl of Sigolsheim in Alsace with the Christian name of Marie-Anne.

The republic was already represented by some feminine features but now she was made to look a little pensive, preoccupying herself above all, with the aspirations of the people. There exists several versions in stonework of the symbols of Marianne and are often found in Greek and Roman antiquities where there has been a French mason.

The symbols of Marianne:

  • A bonnet/cap Liberty
  • A crown To be able to
  • A naked breast Invincibility
  • A lion The courage and force of the people
  • A star Light
  • A triangle Equality
  • Broken chains Liberty
  • Crossed hands Brotherhood
  • Sheaf of arms The authority of the State
  • Scales Justice
  • Ruche Work
  • Tables of the law Law
The first representation of a woman in a bonnet, indicating liberty of the republic, appeared under the French Revolution. They have been different down the centuries according to the preoccupations of the French people, and do not systematically carry all the symbols. Today, she figures on some objects like coins and stamps.

The Marianne can be sculpted on foot or in bust. She started to appear in Town Halls after 1877, replacing busts of Napoleon III. Under the Third Republic, the statues and above all the busts of Marianne multiplied, particularly in town halls. Several types of representation developed as the bonnet was sometimes judged too sedentary and replaced with a diadem or a crown.

In the 20th century, all the town halls adopted a bust of Marianne but which now carried the bonnet but seemed to get rid of other attributes (like the sheaf of arms or scales). The last representations, the more modern in the town halls today, are modeled on the features of famous women. These women are chosen for a number of varied reasons; their companionship, their beauty, their locality, their personalities. Some famous celebrities whose features have been used in the sculpting of La Marianne have been Brigitte Bardot in 1970 and Catherine Deneuve in 1985.

Since the liberation of France in 1944, women chosen for modeling the Marianne were uniquely famous actresses, but in 2000, the association of the mayors of France, chose a particular model appreciated by the French, and in 2002 Evelyne Thomas, an animator of a popular television programme was chosen. These choices are sometimes subject to controversy.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New Zealand - Its Quite Nice

By Joe Metcalfe

SUMMARY: Go on, do it! You'll thank me afterwards. I've travelled to many places on this fine earth but I'm yet to visit a place as invigorating and revitalising as New Zealand. Some might say I'm a little biased because this just happens to be my country of birth, and to them I say Phewy! New Zealand is best and I'm going to convince everyone I can that I am right in saying this.

Greatest Place on Earth

New Zealand is beautiful, it's people are also beautiful, and there simply is no better place to be if your living there or on holiday.

New Zealand's landscape is only unique in it's variety not in its individual features. You can see beaches and mountains all over the place, and to say that ancient rain-forests and stunning glaciers are a rariety, would be a complete lie. But in New Zealand you can see all of these things and many more within the space of a day (although you'll probably need a whole month to appreciate them fully). If you're living here or working here this means you can go where you want and do what you'd like to do at the drop of a hat and generally without the crowds of people you might expect to find at attractions in other countries.

The people in New Zealand are honest, helpful, welcoming of strangers, and incredibly out going. People who travel in New Zealand always find they have somewhere to visit or place to stay because the locals will have shown them the best the area has to offer and probably even given them a spare bed for the night (failing that a sofa).

For those who are lucky enough to have the privilege of working in New Zealand you're probably already familiar with the kiwi custom of inviting the new guy/gal to at least two barbecues in their first week on the job. This number of course only grows with the number of people you meet in your workplace and it might be advisable to find some good excuses to avoid the excessive barbecues else the waistline may expand beyond all reasonable proportions. Most workers will have caught their first snapper on the boat of a workmate within their first month on the job. If not, then it was probably a kingi, or yellow-finned tuna.

Hopefully I've now done enough to get you interested in New Zealand and you can go dig for some more information about this top notch country. And if you're not already convinced that New Zealand is the greatest country in the world then you soon will be.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


By Alejandro Guevara Onofre

SUMMARY: Costa Rica a small country in Central America. Different from Cuba and Venezuela, Costa Rica is a democratic country in Latin America... Costa Rica now ranks 48th of 177 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index... Costa Rica is one of the world's exotic countries. It is famous for its ecology and beaches.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Costa Rica is beloved by tourists for its national parks, beautiful beaches, traditions, friendly people and perfect climate.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… The Costa Rican democracy is considered to be the oldest still in existence in the Third World.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Costa Rica has four idols: Óscar Arias Sánchez (president of Costa Rica), Sylvia Poll Arenhs (sportswoman), Claudia Poll Arenhs (sportswoman) and Franklin Chang Díaz (astronaut).

DID YOU KNOW THAT… In July 1975, María Milagro París became the first Latin American woman to classify in the finals at the FINA World Championship, where she ended fifth in the 100-meter butterfly style competition in Cali, Colombia.In the 1970s, María Milagro París was the best athlete of Costa Rica.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Franklin Ramón Díaz Chang was the first Costa Rican-American to travel in space.He was born on April 5, 1950, in San Jose, Costa Rica. After successfully completing an intense year of testing and training, he was ready for his first space mission, which took place in 1986 aboard the space shuttle Columbia.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Pope John Paul II visited San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica, in 1983.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… In 1987 Óscar Rafael de Jesús Arias Sánchez, who is currently president of Costa Rica, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for promoting peace in Central America. He was born on September 13, 1940, in Heredia, Costa Rica.Like Vaclav Havel (Czech Republic), Aung San Sui Kyi (Myanmar), Nelson Mandela (South Africa) and Jimmy Carter (United States), Óscar Arias Sánchez is a symbol of democracy in the world.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Costa Rica has had spectacular beauties in the past centuy: Martha Escalante Fernández (semi-finalist at the Miss World 1965), Ana Lorena González (semi-finalist at the Miss World 1986), Marlene Chávez Mata (Miss International 1980), Gidget Sandoval (Miss International 1983), Giannina Facio Franco (former model) and Maribel Fernández Guardia (actress).

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Costa Rica has one of the richest ecosystems in the world. It contains 5 percent of the world´s biodiversity.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Maribel Fernández Guardia, best known as “La bella” (the beautiful), is an actress from Costa Rica. She was one of the Latin America´s most famous actresses in the 1980s and early 1990s. Before she became a famous actress in Mexican film industry, she had been Miss Costa Rica 1978 and Miss Photogenic-Universe 1978, an experienced which she says helped prepare her for acting. Maribel Fernández Guardia appeared on the covers of many magazines in the 1970s and 1980s.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Costa Rica now ranks 48th of 177 countries in the United Nations´s Human Development Index. Indices of the high standard of public health in Costa Rica include one of the world´s highest levels of life expectancy (77 years).

DID YOU KNOW THAT… When Spanish navigators first came up Costa Rica in 1502, struck by tremendous beauty of its green mountains… they exclaimed “Costa Rica”.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Like South Africa, South Korea and Barbados, Costa Rica has one of the best democracies in the Third World. For this reason, Costa Rica is called the “Switzerland of the Americas”.
In 1953, under the leadership of president José María Figueres Ferrer, political reform was accelerated. His insight brought about recovery of Costa Rica, establishing on Costa Rica a free and democratic society. Certainly, he had created a “perfect democracy” on Costa Rica for the world to see.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Soccer is by far the most popular sport in the country.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Costa Rica has some of Latin America´s best beaches, with clean white sand and many types of water sports. For water sports lovers, there´s windsurfing, scuba diving, kayak, swimming, and sailing.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Costa Rica is bigger than Denmark or Taiwan.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… The Chiripo National Park is great place for relaxing. It is a dramatic national park, where visitors can you see many orchids, birds, and animals.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Giannina Facio Franco was a Costa Rican supermodel and actress. She was born on September 10, 1955, in San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica. She was one of the most beautiful Latin American women in the 1980s.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Costa Rica´s bird life is profuse and contains some exceptionally exotic and colourful species, such as the quetzal, one of the most beautiful birds in the world.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… The Costa Ricans are one of the most homogeneous peoples in the world.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Lorena Marlene Chávez, Miss Costa Rica, was elected Miss International 1980 in Tokyo, Japan. Her title was celebrated by Costa Ricans. She became the first central American to win an international beauty contest.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Costa Rica was the first country in the world to promote ecological tourism in an accelerated form.

DID YOU KNOW THAT… José María Figueres Olsen was the only president´s son also to be elected president? His father was José María Figueres Ferrer, who was president of Costa Rica (1953-1958).

DID YOU KNOW THAT… Gidget Sandoval, Miss Costa Rica,was crowned Miss International 1983. She became the second woman from Costa Rica and the fourth Latin American to win the Miss International title.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Discover Ayers Rock

By Jenny Brewer

Ayers Rock (Uluru) is one of the most famous Australian icons located in the Uluru National Park. Located within a days drive south west from Alice Springs, it should be seen at least once in a lifetime for its sheer beauty, ever changing colours and vast, wide plains.

Pick up your new car at Alice Springs and enjoy the freedom to explore not only this famous attraction at your leisure but the sheer thrill of driving in the red centre and all there is to offer in all directions.

There is a lot to do here. Once you have stopped in at the cultural centre to get your bearings, then you have a choice of simply watching the changing colours of the Rock at sunrise or sunset, going on the climb, taking a camel or Harley Davidson tour, sunset dinners or even a flight over the rock for a different perspective.

The majority of tourists who visit come with Ayers Rock in mind, either to attempt the walk or capture the magnificent changes in colour at sunset or sunrise. Whatever you choose you will need to stick around a couple of days at least to make the most of your stay here.

Ayers Rock Campground is a fantastic base to explore the surrounding landscapes, with excellent facilities and plenty of room under the native oak trees. There is such a diversity of plant and animal life here. Although the conditions appear severe, with hot days and sub zero nights, many species have found a way to adapt and thrive in this remote corner of the territory.

This entire region has huge cultural significance. Aboriginals have great respect for the giant structure, with dreamtime stories about the area still told today. You can also take a tour with a local guide who can explain more about the ancient culture, bush tucker and surrounding vegetation.

The Olgas are not as famous but equally as impressive in their own right. About thirty kilometres drive from Uluru, the best time to visit is at sunrise as the temperatures can increase rapidly in the middle of the day. There are two walks available. The Valley of the Winds walk takes you on a trip around a number of the dome shaped Olgas, and the other takes you to the Kalpa Lookout. With only the red outback plains and brilliant blue skies in the distance, it really is an incredible attraction from any angle.

Head three hours north east from Ayers Rock and you will enter the Watarrka National Park, home of Kings Canyon. There are all species of exotic plant life here, as well abundant wildlife. Pack your walking shoes for a three to four hour walking trail which will take you to the rim of the Canyon for spectacular views.

Most popular natural attractions are the Garden of Eden which features a waterhole and abundant vegetation. There is also a shorter walk which takes you to the middle of the Canyon and will also give you some fantastic scenery. The unusual rock formations of the Lost City will keep you in awe, named because at different angles they do look like the forgotten remains of an old city.

Kings Creek Station is located just over thirty kilometres from the Canyon and is a great place to rest and unwind for a few days. There are also adventure activities to choose from here such as helicopter flights over the canyon, camel riding and quad biking.

Ayers Rock, the Olgas, Kings Canyon and the stark red landscapes of the red centre are everything Australia is known for and proud to show off to rest of the world. Many people choose an outback adventure to escape to a place where there is freedom, rugged beauty and incredible landforms. You have it all here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Wales

By Russ Pooley

Ok I know what you’re thinking. You can get a flight to just about anywhere nowadays. You can visit places you’ve never even heard of and see cultures you didn’t know existed, so why stay in the UK. Easy, why travel miles when you have natural beauty and plenty of attractions right on your doorstep.

Wales is the gem of the UK. Here are the top five reasons to visit.

Whether you like mountain climbing or just want some breathtaking views, Wales has it all. Mount Snowdon is the highest point in Wales and offers stunning views across the countryside. And if you can’t be bothered climbing up to witness them, take the Snowdon Mountain railway and relax as you take in the beauty of Snowdonia.


As long as the weather is good, and let’s face it there’s always a bit of a risk there, you can enjoy the perfect beach holiday in Wales. Barafundle Bay in Pembrokeshire was recently named Britain’s best beach.


If it’s a bit of history you’re after then this is the place to be. There are hundreds of castles in Wales, not to mention cathedrals and churches.


Wales is home to plenty of wildlife from dolphins to badgers and with its fabulous countryside it is home to some great country walks. Get a taste of the great outdoors and enjoy nature as it’s supposed to be.


Of course, Wales is not all about nature. If it’s a bustling city with a thriving nightlife you’re after there is plenty to choose from. Try Cardiff or Swansea for example where you’ll find great restaurants, swanky bars and funky clubs.

Wales, what more could you want?