Tuesday, April 25, 2017
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JS47284578Is it a dog, a badger or an old fox?

Well, experts think this may be the first sighting of a raccoon roaming free on Tyneside.

The furry mammal, usually found in North America, was spotted by a surprised jogger in Wallsend on Friday morning.

Wildlife experts believe it is the first recorded sighting of the wild beast in the area.

Tom Hughes, 22, was running through the grounds of Wallsend Hall at around 7am when something caught his eye.

He said: “I was running along and came across this curious creature.

“At first I thought it was a badger but its unusual facial markings made me think it was a raccoon.

“It was big and stocky, but very placid and didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere.”

Tom, who lives in Howdon, near Wallsend, is training to be in the Navy.

He said he hasn’t seen anything like this before but hoped to raise some awareness of the creature being out there.

Read more here

When Peter Hammond started breeding parrots at his home, he didn’t expect a squawk of protest from his neighbours.

His rural property was a noisy pig farm until recently, and there are other farms in the area. But his hobby has split the village – with angry neighbours complaining of sleepless nights and stress.

Now Mr Hammond’s critics appear to have won the battle to have the birds removed, after the local council ruled he had to rehome all of them within six months.

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The menu includes crickets and wax worms on toothpick skewers for dipping in a fountain of melted chocolate, along with “tarsal toffee” made with bug legs and mealworms and fudge infused with crickets and marshmallows.

What looked like a Halloween trick was actually an array of treats being served up Saturday at the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans.

The 23,000-square-foot facility is the largest free-standing museum in the United States dedicated to insects. It houses thousands of live bugs, including beetles, cockroaches, wasps, bees, ants and termites. It also has a butterfly exhibit created to resemble a Japanese garden.

Insect-infused cuisine is also a huge draw. Thousands annually visit the museum’s Bug Appetit kitchen, where six-legged critters and worms are cooked and served.

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Every month check to see which famous person you share your birthday with. Many happy returns of the month to all you Virgo’s and Libra’s. You also share your birthday with the Urban Echo!

1 Sept – Daniel Sturridge (English striker who joined Liverpool in 2013 after spending four years with Chelsea FC) born 1989

2 Sept – Salma Hayek (Fiery Mexican actress who gave a memorable performance in the 2002 film, Frida.) born 1966

3 Sept – Junaid Jamshed (Musician and singer who fronts the band Vital Signs, the Pakistani pop group that released albums like Hum Tum in 1995) born 1964

4 Sept – Rishi Kapoor (Bollywood actor who earned a 2011 Filmfare Award for Best Actor for his role in Do Dooni Chaar) born 1952

5 Sept – Michael Keaton (Hollywood actor starred in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice and Batman) born 1951

6 Sept – Foxy Brown (Controversial rapper and actress who was a part of the successful rap group The Firm) born 1978

7 Sept – Eazy E (Born Eric Lynn Wright, Eazy E was an influential West Coast rapper and producer who is best known for being a part of the late 80’s rap group N.W.A) born 1963 – 1995

8 Sept – Martin Freeman (Best known for his role in The Office. Later he played the lead role in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and starred as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit) born 1971

9 Sept – Akshay Kumar (Leading Indian actor that has starred in over 100 Hindi films. Hits include Rowdy Rathore and Special 26) born 1967

10 Sept – Karl Lagerfeld (Creative director behind numerous fashion brands, including Chanel and the Karl Lagerfeld Collection) born 1933

11 Sept – Johnny Vegas (Comedian and actor known for his crazy rants and portly figure) born 1971

12 Sept – Jennifer Hudson (Recording artist who gained fame when she starred as Effie White in the 2006 film Dreamgirls and was a finalist in the third season of American Idol) born 1981

13 Sept – Michael Johnson (One of the best track and field athletes in history. He won four Olympic gold medals and eight more World Championship gold medals) born 1967

14 Sept – Amy Winehouse (Five-time Grammy Award winner and soul singing icon whose album, Back to Black, became the best-selling album of the twenty-first century in the UK) born 1983 – 2011

15 Sept – Prince Harry (The younger son of England’s Prince Charles and Princess Diana. He is fourth in line to become monarch of the Commonwealth realms) born 1984

16 Sept – Flo Rida (Singer, songwriter whose debut single ‘Low’ catapulted him to superstardom) born 1979

17 Sept – Narendra Modi (Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat who became the longest-serving Chief Minister in Gujarat history. Current Prime Minister of India) born 1950

18 Sept – Jada Pinkett Smith (Hollywood actress who appeared on the TV series A Different World before starring in blockbuster films such as The Nutty Professor and The Matrix) born 1971

19 Sept – Twiggy (British fashion model known for her waif look during the 1960s. She popularized the ‘bob’ haircut and heavy eye makeup) born 1949

20 Sept – Sophia Loren (Italian actress who won an Oscar Award and an Academy Award for her role in the 1962 film, Two Women. Once voted the most beautiful woman in the world) born 1934

21 Sept – Kareena Kapoor Khan (Leading Bollywood actress who made her debut with Refugee. Since starred in films such as K3G and Bodyguard) born 1980

22 Sept – Bob Sapp (Versatile athlete who formerly played in the NFL, then became a professional wrestler, kickboxer, and MMA figther, popular figure in Japanese pop culture) born 1973

23 Sept – Karl Pilkington (English actor and radio show producer known for his work with Ricky Gervais in An Idiot Abroad and Derek) born 1972

24 Sept – Jack Dee (Award-winning British stand-up comedian, writer, and actor who is famous in England for his sitcom Lead Balloon. He won Celebrity Big Brother 2001) born 1961

25 Sept – Will Smith (Leading Hollywood actor who started his career with the Fresh Prince of Bel-air. Other hits include I am Legend and I Robot) born 1968

26 Sept – Manmohan Singh (Former Prime Minister of India. He assumed office in 2004 and held the distinction of being the first Prime Minister to belong to the Sikh faith) born 1932

27 Sept – Gwyneth Paltrow (Acclaimed Hollywood actress who gained fame for her roles in Emma and Shakespeare In Love) born 1972

28 Sept – Ranbir Kapoor (Leading Bollywood actor who starred in the 2012 film, Barfi! and the 2011 film, Rockstar. He had his first starring role in the 2007 tragedy, Saawariya) born 1982

29 Sept – Bill Shankly (Legendary manger of Liverpool F.C for 15 years who won the Manager of the Year award in 1973; inaugural inductee of both the English and Scottish Football Hall of Fames) born 1913 – 1981

30 Sept – Reema Khan (Leading Pakistani actress, director and producer. Appeared in films such as Hina and Samina Peerzada’s Shararat ) born 1971


At times, we all need to talk about certain issues and problems that are affecting us. Whether we feel we have an embarrassing medical condition, trying to overcome an addiction or a relationship with our partner that is causing family commotion, Aunty Ji is here to advise you. Whether or not you take my advice on board, I will advise you as to the best of my knowledge and life experience. All letters sent in will remain totally anonymous and I will try to answer as many as I can. Aunty Jee is here for you!



Mini is without doubt the master at creating a plethora of models from a single platform, so it’s no surprise to see a concept version of the Clubman estate based on the latest Mk3 Mini underpinnings. Up front the Clubman has the same deeply sloping headlights and elongated bonnet as the Mk3 hatch, but it has two rear doors and a markedly different rear end. Instead of the single rear-hinged suicide door of the previous Clubman, the concept has two forward-hinged doors, making it a much more practical proposition. Not everything is new though, there are still two single, barn-style doors giving access to the boot, which is around 100 litres bigger than before. The new model is 26cm longer, 17cm wider and slightly taller than before, making the Clubman larger than the Countryman SUV. Inside, the driver is presented with a sophisticated electronic dash that apparently showcases the design of future models. But again there is a nod to the past – the centerpiece of the dash is the traditional large round dial. A true VW Golf rival, it’s the first Mini with enough space for five passengers. And with an estimated 360 litres of boot space, it should also be able to swallow all their kit. But for many people it’ll be the Mini Clubman’s looks that draw them into the showroom. And, as a more useable evolution of the previous model, the new Clubman will be far less of a compromise to live with. The Clubman is expected to be offered with the same engines as the Mk3 Mini hatch. That means a choice of three-cylinder 1.5 and four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol and diesel units. A six speed manual transmission will be offered as standard, with a six-speed auto an optional extra. We expect to see a production version of the Clubman estate later in 2014, prior to a UK launch in early 2015. Estimated price: £16,995



This new Mercedes is a medium-size luxury saloon that competes head-on with the very popular BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. Mercedes has slotted the new CLA saloon beneath the C-class in its range, so the new C-class is now significantly longer than its predecessor. However, Mercedes has slashed weight by up to 100kg. Thanks to an extra 8cm between the wheels, the interior should offer more space for passengers in the back, plus a bigger boot. The C-class is available in three specification levels – SE, Sport and AMG Line. Sport features 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, lowered suspension and satnav as standard. AMG Line models gain 18-inch wheels, firmer sports suspension and a soft-touch dashboard. We praised the previous C-class for its luxury and the new model looks set to build on this with a long list of standard equipment. All models have a touchpad to control the entertainment functions, along with a seven-inch colour display that incorporates a reversing camera. Other toys include automatic wipers, cruise control, a tyre pressure monitoring system and plenty of safety kit. Leather-effect upholstery and two-zone air conditioning also feature in all models. From launch, the C-class will be available with 1.9-litre petrol and 2.1-litre diesel engines – both with a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes. A further three engines, including a hybrid version, should arrive before the end of the year. Estimated price: Starting at £26,855 for the C200 petrol. The C220 Blue Tec diesel is available from just over £29,000.



This is the all-new Ford Mustang. It goes on sale in the UK from spring 2015 and for the first time this iconic American muscle car is being designed and engineered to match our tastes, and will be available with right-hand drive. Being polished for Europe has meant a lot of changes, and quality has been greatly improved over the outgoing version. There’s also a turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine and far more sophisticated rear suspension, instead of the cruder set-ups we’ve seen before. Sitting in a Ford Mustang has always felt special. The good news is that’s still the case, but now most of what you see and touch is of a much higher quality. There are areas where an Audi A5 or BMW 4 Series feel classier, such as plastics shrouding the central tunnel where your arm rests, but most of the materials look and feel of a high standard. You sit low in the car, making that long bonnet feel even longer, and seeing out and over your shoulder shouldn’t be a problem unless you’re really short of stature. Most of the major functions are taken care of via a large central touch-screen or rotary controls. There’s also a pleasing nod to the past: the drive modes (normal, sport, track or wet) are operated with toggle switches. Space is marginally better than in the outgoing model, with everyone getting a mite more knee room and shoulder space. It’s still not the easiest car to climb into the back of, but once you’re in its comfortable enough. Both the coupé and convertible are capable of carrying four adults. If you opt for the soft-top the cloth roof is now easier and quicker to lower; it takes only seven seconds for the powered hood to go up or down, and it looks a lot tidier than before when it’s down. It’s disappointing, though, that you still have to unlock a latch to start the process – you don’t need to do this in most rivals. Ford is tight-lipped about pricing. However, while the Mustang is a bargain-basement option in America – starting at less than £20,000 – our best guess is that prices will start at around £30,000. You can, at least, expect it to be fulsomely equipped, with the new infotainment system being standard. Unlike previous Mustangs there will also be a large range of interior colours and trims for both cloth and leather options. On looks alone the Mustang deserves to sell, but whether UK buyers will be willing to jump out of their Audis and BMWs for it is a different matter altogether. We’ll find out in early 2015



It’s tough being Captain of the Indian cricket team, but for Mahendra Singh Dhoni handling such pressures come naturally. With the recent Test Series loss by team India, will Dhoni manage to pull back and hang on to his captaincy? Will his own batting suffer? Will he be engulfed in any further controversies? This month Tarot looks into all of this and more.

On a very general note, some concerns do crop up in Dhoni’s career – he will have a temperamental time ahead, especially until March 2015, so yes this phase may challenge him during the upcoming World Cup too. What does work for Dhoni is his determination, so although periodic lean times will trouble him, his ability to balance himself will get him through.

Batting has been inconsistent in recent times, luckily this is about to change. There will be more authority and a different form of unseen joy exuding from his batting. Dhoni’s aggression will be well directed and smart. This all happens over the course of the next eight to ten months – there will be immense growth in him but more importantly, he will put more life into his own performances.

Although the Indian cricket board is usually reluctant to make captaincy changes, Tarot clearly suggests the importance of unburdening Dhoni from Test Captaincy, otherwise he will lose direction and will eventually lose out on this position. What is positive is his captaincy in the One-dayers – this will be more comfortable and rewarding for him and team India.

Being ruled by no. 7, Dhoni is bound to have a calm aura about him, this is where despite certain controversies coming up until his birthday in July 2015, he will manage to be well in control and not allow for anything to hinder or derail his career. Some ups, some downs – that is all quite normal, but in this time ahead, Dhoni will have you face it more than usual.

Shruti Chopra can be found on Twitter @itstarot and on Facebook at facebook.com/itstarot

London born Shruti Chopra is a professional Tarot Counsellor and columnist practicing in Mumbai. Having learnt the Tarot cards six years ago, she put her counselling twist to it and now assists corporate houses, business and celebrities with sound direction. Shruti has been predicting cricket matches for the last three years and also writes about sport from a Tarot perspective. We welcome Shruti to the Urban Echo team where every month she will be looking at what is in store for our favourite celebrities.