Horses jumping Beecher's Brook during the Grand National at Aintree in 1890 - Credit: Lordpiece Collection
Aintree is a village in Merseyside, whose name comes from the Saxon meaning ‘one tree’. It is famous as the home of Aintree Racecourse, which has hosted the Grand National since 1839. The Grand National is a 4½ mile horse race, run in early April every year, which is regarded as one of the most challenging in the world. It features 16 fences, most of which are incredibly difficult to jump, and can only be tackled by the most experienced jockeys.
Other races run at Aintree include the Topham Chase, the Fox Hunters’ Chase, the Becher Handicap Chase and the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase.
" whilst Audrey Hepburn ran around Rome "
This refers to the 1953 romantic comedy film ‘Roman Holiday’, starring Audrey Hepburn as a princess exploring Rome. Directed by William Wyler, Hepburn plays a crown princess on a public tour of Europe. Finding her official duties too much, she escapes to discover Rome alone and in the course of her adventures meets an American reporter (played by Gregory Peck) with whom she falls in love.
The film was well-received and acclaimed with several Academy Awards, including one for Audrey Hepburn as Best Actress.
French knickers are a style of women’s underwear, usually made from silk, which developed in the early 20th century. Based on the long, looser undergarments of the Victorian era and the frilled underwear worn by can-can dancers in Paris (which was made to be seen beneath the dancers’ skirts), the knickers are styled like shorts and have non-elasticated legs, meaning that they hang away from the body.
French knickers were popular in the 1920s and 1930s beneath full skirts, and revived again in the 1970s and 80s. By the 21st century they had become unpopular again because of their bulk and are now more of a speciality underwear, often found in vintage shops.
Pontedera is an Italian industrial town not far from Pisa, with a population approaching 28,000. Sitting at the confluence of the Era and Arno rivers, it is home to factories of companies such as Piaggio (manufacturer of the Vespa motorcycle), Amedei chocolate and Castellani Spa wine.
The schooner 'Strike' sailing close to the wind near Kingston, Ontario - Credit: Susan Davis
A phrase meaning to do something dangerous or only just acceptable. The saying comes from sailing terminology, in which boats cannot actually sail into the wind without losing momentum and stopping in the water. Sometimes their helmsmen will sail as close to the wind as possible (also called close-hauling) without losing efficiency – a complicated tactic.
To treat a matter with kid gloves is to handle it very delicately and carefully. The phrase is thought to have originated in the 18th century when gloves made from the soft leather of kid or lambskin were fashionable amongst the upper classes. Someone who wore kid gloves was therefore thought to be quite genteel and go about their affairs with delicacy; gloves were also worn when handling precious objects to avoid leaving damaging marks.