Chocolate! A guilty pleasure for all of us, and a treat for those with a sweet tooth. What most people don’t appreciate is that it has a rich history and the industry that it has evolved into. Here are 3 facts on chocolate that will leave your mind blown.
Humans discovered chocolate 4,000 years ago
Our love affair with chocolate began when the Olmecs (in present-day Southern Mexico and Central America), cracked the code on how to eat the bitter seed cacao, where it grew in abundance.
Chocolate has been used as medicine
Who says chocolate is unhealthy! Due to the sugar content, this might be unexpected but it’s true. It has ingredients and properties that can aid the body in the healing process. Throughout history, it has been prescribed to underweight patients to help them gain weight, and it has components that’ve been used to soften extremely dry skin.
Chocolate is a multibillion pound industry
It seems little has changed in the 4,000 years as our love of chocolate shows no signs of slowing down and is increasing year on year. The chocolate industry globally is worth an estimated $130 billion and 40-50 million people rely on chocolate as their livelihood.
If this isn’t enough, our documentary showcases the history from the very beginning, to the industry it spurred and how it was embraced by the world. Watch The Story of Chocolate here.
To read our study guide on a comprehensive history of chocolate, click here.
The Significance of Ramadan
This month, millions of Muslims around the world will observe the month of Ramadan. It’s one of the five pillars of Islam and sees followers abstain from drinking liquids, sex and smoking and they’re expected to fast during the daylight hours.
It’s the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and Ramadan places an emphasis on charity, community, worship and faith. As it’s time of appreciation, connection to one’s faith and community, charity and prayer are also emphasised and particularly encouraged. Followers hope that it’s a month of consciousness, reflection and nourishment of the soul. When the sun goes down, they can then break their fast with a meal ‘iftar’.
The end of Ramadan is marked with Eid, a 3-day period of festivities and it’s the time to cave in to life’s culinary pleasures: great food surrounded by your family and friends. This year due to Covid-19, it is likely to be a different affair for Muslims celebrating around the world.
To all our Muslim readers, Ramadan Mubarak!
If you enjoyed this article, then check out our documentary presented by the lovely Mehreen Baig. She looks at the motivations and challenges facing the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims during their greatest month of the year. Click here to watch.
By Kaz Bosali
It is Easter on Sunday 4th April.
With Easter approaching, we look at the traditions around the world and explore how different cultures celebrate this religious festival. Easter celebrations (although no doubt different this year) is observed around the world. To learn how Jerusalem, Mexico, Spain and Antigua mark the occasion, click here.
One of the prominent and best place to witness the faith and celebration of Easter is in the Holy Land of Jerusalem, one of the world’s oldest cities (some 4,000 years) and the most holy site in the world. Pre-Covid, usually on Easter Day, Christians of all ethnicity gather in Jerusalem’s Old City to follow in the footsteps of Christ. Read our article on Easter in Jerusalem here.
Everyone at Pilot wish you a Happy Easter!
Travel in the COVID-Zone
Cardiff named UK’s most bike friendly city
Following the cycling booms that occurred during lockdowns right the way across Europe, Cardiff in Wales has been named the UK’s most bike friendly city by route-finding app Komoot!
Participants were asked to rate a range of factors including cycling infrastructure, such as cycle lanes and signage, local cycling facilities, countryside accessibility and their sense of personal safety when it comes to cycling in the city.
The Food of Quarantine
The BBC took a look at the kind of foods being delivered to the rooms of those quarantining around the world. Spoiler: It largely resembles a cross between plane food, hospital food and a classic British school dinner… Yum?
Let us know on Twitter if you experienced this kind of quarantine food and what you thought of it!
Other Coronavirus News & Statistics
India, who otherwise make and distribute around 60% of the world’s vaccines, have announced that they are just weeks away from beginning to export their own vaccine for the coronavirus.
While some lockdown restrictions have been slightly relaxed in parts of the country this week, German authorities have banned all large events until at least August 31 in a bid to avoid a second wave of infections towards the end of the summer. Due to the nature of the event – festival goers are seated in very close proximity and the consumption of alcohol is thought to cause diminished regard for social distancing — the organisers had already indicated that the event might not go ahead.
Bavarian officials, have expressed regret that the businesses who take part in the festivities will lose out financially. It is reported that last year’s revenue amounted to around 1 billion euros.
The Oktoberfest started in 1810 on 12 October, as a celebration of the marriage of the crown prince of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, and was due to take place from 19 September to 4 October this year.
Meanwhile, in the UK, Home Sercretary Michael Gove has warned that the hospitality industry, most notably pubs and bars, will be of the last to see restrictions lifted levaing some businesses attempting to prepare for closures lasting until Christmas.
In the USA, of the states where lockdown rules are being relaxed, bars, nightclubs and restaurants will also be among the last businesses to see restrictions lifted.
Main image: Munich, Germany. Oktoberfest, Polybert49, Flickr Creative Commons
Tips For Coping During Lockdown
It would be fair to say that more of us than usual are facing stress and/or anxiety this month, and with looming uncertainty as to when we will return to normal, it is important to look after your wellbeing. The good news is that most of us have got plenty of time on our hands to take proper care of ourselves, but if you’re struggling for ideas we’ve put together a list of tips and resources for remaining calm and staving off Coronavirus anxiety – and dare we say – using this awkward time wisely!
John Krasinski of The Office has launched aYouTube channel aptly named “Some Good News“, covering any and all positive news that the world has to offer. Spare 30 minutes from your week (preferably minutes which you may have been spending ‘terror scrolling’), and check in with John every Monday for his mood boosting show.
The mental health tech sector has experienced a boom in the past month, with more and more people seeking help from online and app-based sources. App based services such as Better Help offer an affordable and easy way to access a professional ear to chew on. If you’d prefer to deal with your stressors on your own, services such as Headspace use meditation to build awareness alongside a healthy sense of perspective.
70’s cars in Los Angeles, Travelling in the 70’s by Pilot Productions
Schedule video calls with loved ones
Whether its a quiz night, a cup of coffee and a chin-wag or a shared takeaway, utilise video calling to maintain meaningful connections with people you care about. Aside from the obvious boost this will provide to your mood, it will also give you the opportunity to take your mind off your own problems and check in with everyone else.
Set an allocated time every day where you turn off the TV, put down the phone or tablet and close your laptop. Use this time to read, practice journalling, meditate or some other activity aside from your chores. Actively unwinding can help your frantic thoughts to slow down, inspire creativity and help you let go of factors which are beyond your control. Aside from the benefits of the activities themselves, less screen time will help slow down your consumption of negative information, give your eyes a break from harmful blue-light and help you recognise when you are simply scrolling because you are bored.
In most places, lockdown laws enable individuals to partake in an hour of physical activity each day. This is for good reason – exercise generates feel-good hormones! It’s also a great opportunity to get some fresh air, vitamin D, and connect with nature. Don’t forget that walking counts as exercise too, and now would be a great time to take in some of your local sights!
If you cant go out, ensure to do something physical at home. Yoga is a great way to relax your body and mind. Isometric (such as a plank) and isotonic exercises (such as squats and push-ups) are great if you do not have much space and are confined to home.
Preparing and preserving your bedroom as a place for sleep can be very important when trying to minimise disruption to sleep! In the morning, make your bed and air your bedroom; and in the evening light a candle or spray some calming linen spray. Stay away from your bedroom until it is time for bed. Also, Mr. Sandman is not a fan of the blue-light from your phone either, so make sure to leave it aside for a restful nights’ kip!
Set a time for bed each night and stick to it, set an alarm each morning and avoid sleeping-in. Is your sleep pattern already busted? Try to move your bedtime and wake-up back by 10 minutes each day. Even so much as paying attention to your sleep pattern and making a concerted effort towards maintaining a routine will help you feel more in control.
Sleeping in a yurt… Pilot Productions
Make a zero-sum budget
Do you know where your money goes each month? Knowing where every penny has gone, and where every penny should be will help restore a sense of control in these financially stressful period. There are some fantastic online tools to help you draw up this budget, and many computers come with a pre-loaded budget templates!
If things aren’t looking too rosy, then don’t bury your head in the sand. As well as finding out if there are any state benefits which you may be entitled to receive, you should look to temporarily reduce your obligations where possible. Many lenders are offering payment holidays as well as adjustments to repayment schedules, so call your lenders and discuss ways to ease your situation. Remember, it is in their interest for you not to default! Institutions such as Citizens Advice Bureau in the UK can provide some clarity on where to find help, and help you seek it. In the US, assistance generally varies from state to state, so do some digging and find out if there is anything you can do to ease the burden for even a short period.
It is that time of year, after all. What better way to spend an afternoon than cleaning your house from top to bottom, and ‘putting winter away’. Having a clean and tidy environment in the spring time is important, especially when you’re spending so much time at home.
Clean out your closet
Take inventory of your closet! Set aside anything you no longer wear ready to donate it to a charity shop or a clothes bank. Alternatively, to generate some cash, you could sell them online! As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”. Apply this principle to other cupboards, too. Perhaps you have a pile of paperwork stashed away that you’ve been meaning to sort through, old electronics which have been sat in a box collecting dust, or a bathroom cabinet full of lotions and potions – get rid of what you no longer want and organise what you do!
Get creative in the kitchen
Empty out your food cupboard and fridge and get creative! Not only will this help with efforts to cut down on your spending, but cooking can also be a great way to release some stress. There is a plethora of recipes using just about any ingredients on the internet, but we would recommend checking out our Ten Great Global Recipes for inspiration!
We love this Antique Writing Desk. When you’re done for the day, you simply shut it! Image by Thomas Quine, Flickr creative Commons
Working from home
Pilot HQ’s tried and tested tips:
Stick to a routine: Clock in and out at roughly the same time each day where your role permits!
Make the most of not commuting: Go for a walk and/or eat a good breakfast!
Keep your work area as separate from your living area as possible: As tempting as it might be, taking your laptop to bed is not as productive as you think it is!
Take a lunch break!
Get dressed properly: Not just for that ever impending surprise video call, but getting dressed for work will help you focus on work, and keep work and home tasks separate.
Furloughed or on leave
Devote work-time to professional development or other activities which will help to enrich your career and and add value to your employers or your business. This is not limited to simply seeking out online courses; a more holistic approach to enrichment will enhance your life and your career. We love activities such as learning a language, or exploring the plethora of lessons that history has to offer. Why not check out our Study Guides to get a taste for what you might be interested in pursuing.
As much as finding gainful employment is your priority here, it may also be useful to take this time to reflect on your career so far to help determine what your next move might be. If you were already looking to make a change in your career, then there is literally no time like the present. Those who have lost their jobs could also engage in enriching activities to keep the mind as sharp as possible for when that interview finally comes your way.
Have you already engaged in any of the above, or do you have your own coping strategies? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!
Main Image: Ned Kelly‘s First Home in Beveridge, Pilot Productions
Wine Sales Are Booming
Following the closure of many on-trade bars, pubs and restaurants across the world, shops which sell wine and other alcoholic beverages are seeing a dramatic uplift in sales as consumers seek to enjoy a drink at home.
One alcohol delivery service, Drizly, based in Boston MA, have stated that earlier this month the announcement of a lock-down led to the biggest day of sales on record, outstripping otherwise busy periods such as New Years Eve and Halloween.
Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, the government specifically added provision for shops selling alcohol to stay open within the coronavirus lock-down rules.
Kent based winemaker and drinks company Chapel Down have seen sales in supermarkets and off licences grow substantially and direct online sales multiply dramatically as their customers seek to continue to enjoy their brands at home. Chapel Down report that on the current sales trajectory, their sales to consumers enjoying the drinks at home could more than make up for their loss of trade to licenced venues.
However, some nations have taken their lock-down further, effectively introducing a period of prohibition. South Africa, although continuing to harvest and produce wine, have introduced a ban on the purchase of both alcohol and tobacco in a bid to curtail incidence of domestic violence and to improve personal hygiene, adherence to social distancing measures and to mass-protect the nation’s immune systems.
The department of Aisne in northern France began with a similar approach but faced huge backlash from residents, forcing them to lift the ban and allow the purchase and consumption of alcohol.
Current trends suggest that widespread abstinence is unlikely. The wine market has been described in the past as recession-resistant — people like to enjoy a glass as much in good times as they do in bad times.
With many large-scale businesses rapidly adapting to this shift in demand, we hope that smaller, artisan and local producers do not neglect this opportunity to shield their businesses from the impacts of the virus. After all, when this is over, we are all going to need a drink to celebrate!