Archives for the month of: December, 2013
Photo © Stewpot.org

Photo © Stewpot.org

Today is the 11th day of the 12th month, 2013. People are getting quite excited about it, as this sort of sequence won’t happen again in the calendar for another 89 years! (The next one will be 01/02/03 on the 1st of February, 2103). You can even add the time into the sequence. If I’d been a bit quicker I could have written this post at 09:10 on 11/12/13!

It’s fun looking at patterns like this in birthdays and other important dates. Maybe you have a good birthday with an interesting number. I know a little girl who was born on 11 August 2011, so her birth date is 11/8/11. My grandmother was born on 11 May 1905, which is 11/05/05. What if you were born on September 9th, 1999? Then your birth date would be 9/9/99. The 3rd of March 2003 would give you 03/03/03!

My own birthday isn’t one of those special ones, but I like looking for patterns in the numbers I come across (for example, when I look at the number of visitors to this blog). Recently I reached over 44,000 visits and I thought it would be great if I could catch the counter when it reached 44,444. Sadly, it happened in the middle of the night, so I missed it! Then I thought, I’ll just wait until it gets to 45,678. But somehow I missed that too. It’s now over 46,000, so it will be a long time until another interesting number comes along. What shall I try for? Maybe 54,321

Apparently lots of people will be getting married today for good luck. A retired science teacher in America called Ron Gordon is very interested in quirky dates, and he is offering a cash prize of $1112.13 for the best celebration today. Back in 1981 he invented “square root day” (on the 9th of September, since 9 x 9 = 81). There is another square root day coming up in a few years’ time: 4 April 2016. I wonder if he’ll be offering any more prizes! He is also looking forward to “trumpet day” on 2/2/22.

In honour of today’s date I thought it would be fun to share some number games. There is one called Kaprekar’s Sequence which goes like this: 1) think of a two-digit number (they must be different numbers); 2) reverse the digits for a new number; 3) subtract the smaller number from the larger one; 4) repeat several times with different numbers and see if you can spot a pattern emerging in the results. Here are a few examples:

85 – 58 = 27   32 – 23 = 9  62 – 26 = 36  91 – 19 = 72  53 – 35 = 18

(Hint: what are all the results a multiple of?)

If you like number patterns you might like to try this BBC website where you can find the last two numbers in a sequence to open a safe! Inside you’ll see some pretty weird prizes, like a fancy sports car and an emu. Or is that an ostrich?

Here’s another great website full of number patterns and games you can play. It’s called Maths is Fun! It will explain triangular, square and cube numbers. I didn’t know numbers came in so many shapes!

Do let me know if you have a quirky number for your birthday. There must be lots of you born in the first decade of this century (2001 to 2010 on the 1st of January, 2nd of February, 3rd of March and so on…) I want to hear from you!

Breaking news! I’ve finally caught a great number on my viewing statistics (and it only took until 9.10.14 to happen:

all sixes

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As I have already mentioned, Book Week Scotland brought me all sorts of invitations to visit primary schools recently. Two of those schools were in Linlithgow, a lovely town half-way between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It has a distinctive church with a spiky metal spire, and next to that is a medieval palace! I always see these two impressive buildings from the train as I pass, but it’s a rare treat to be able to stop and have a look around.

This handsome and distinctive building is St Michael's Church.

This handsome and distinctive building is St Michael’s Church.

St Michael’s Church dates from the 15th century and is the largest surviving late Medieval  “burgh kirk” in Scotland. The aluminium spire replaces a stone crown similar to the one atop St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, and it wasn’t universally popular with the locals when it was added in 1964.

Linlithgow palace

Next to St Michael’s is Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Scottish King James V and his daughter Mary, Queen of Scots. It is also a late Medieval building and stands in beautiful grounds. A fire destroyed the roof of the palace and the interiors in 1746. The palace is open to the public and the “peel” or park surrounding it runs down to the shores of Linlithgow Loch, where you can go sailing in summer.

Linlithgow Loch in summer.

Linlithgow Loch in summer.

Doesn’t it look inviting? Sadly, it wasn’t looking quite so pretty in December. I’ll just have to make another trip when it gets warm again!

Mary Queen of Scots

Just along from the palace on the High Street is the Annet House Museum, where a bronze statue of Mary, Queen of Scots stands in the terraced garden. The High Street has lots of historic buildings, including Annet House which was built in 1787 as a wealthy merchant’s family home.

Madding Crowd logo

When I arrived in Linlithgow for a recent school visit I walked down from the train station to the High Street. My first port of call was a lovely bookshop called Far from the Madding Crowd (named after a Thomas Hardy novel). Its owner, Jill Pattle, showed me all around the shop (full of beautiful crafts as well as books) and we went downstairs to the children’s section where I signed a beam on the ceiling with a gold pen! She has asked lots of children’s authors to do the same, so I felt very important!

Low Port Primary

Next we went to Low Port Primary School, which is an impressive Victorian building that used to be a senior grammar school. It has pointy turrets and handsome stonework, making it seem very like something out of Harry Potter! I was ushered to a modern addition at the back of the school which looks out onto Linlithgow Loch. There in a big, comfortable classroom I read stories to 62 pupils (P2 and P3) and then shared some videos of Pink the Musical on their interactive white board. By the end, they were singing along!

I’ve now visited Low Port, Linlithgow Bridge and Springfield Primary Schools, and they are all fantastic! Many thanks to Jill for suggesting me for Book Week Scotland this year. It’s been an absolute pleasure and I hope to be back in Linlithgow before too long!