18th October

1851 Moby Dick first published - if, like me, you have no intention of ever reading the real thing, why not try the graphic novel version with your kids?

1922 BBC founded

1967 Soviet Venera reaches Venus and measures its atmosphere – here’s a short video about Venus.

Alaska Day (1867 US bought Alaska for $7.2 million), so make a Baked Alaska, or learn about the aurora borealis or watch sled dog races.

Azerbaijan Independence Day (from USSR)

Azerbaijan (see on Google maps) was originally inhabited by Caucasian Albanians, and then was settled by Scythians and Iranians before becoming part of Alexander the Great’s empire. Later it became a Persian vassal state, and the king officially adopted Christianity in the 4th century, but then the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate took over.

At the beginning of the 11th century Turkic Oghuz tribes took over, and their languages became Azerbaijani. It then became a vassal state of the Timur Empire which occupied most of Central Asia. Then Iranian dynasties took over, as well as a lot of khanates.

Russia came in in 1812, and after a couple of wars with Iran, took Azerbaijan. Russia collapsed after WWI, and Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia became the Transcaucasian Democratic Federal Republic. (to be continued…)

17th October

1860 first Open Championship golf

1956 Sellafield opens, the world’s first commercial nuclear power station;

Anniversary of the Death of Dessalines

Dessalines is celebrated in Haiti as he led the country to become the first black republic in the world back in 1804. But he didn’t quite get everything right: the country’s economy had been built on slavery for the sugar and coffee plantations and after he’d massacred the white Haitian minority he made the black Haitians continue to work in quasi-slave conditions ‘for their country’ as military duty, etc. He also needed educated people in his government office and as the mixed race Haitians were usually the better educated, he accidentally made a light-skinned government, which didn’t look great. For those who understand French, the Dessalinienne, Haiti’s national anthem, is pretty terrifying. This could be a good opportunity to talk about the consequences of slavery or, for younger children, to learn some freedom songs.