QUIRKY WORLD ... A daily look at some of the world’s stranger stories

Goda Valukonyte  poses by the bottle Christmas tree.Pic: AP

Christmas tree of bottles sparkles in Lithuania

LITHUANIA: Here’s a recycling project just for the holidays: A 4-metre (13.2-feet) tall Christmas tree made of 1,100 empty bottles of champagne and sparkling water.

Lithuanian policeman Dalius Valukonis says he spent three years and hundreds of hours of his free time to create the tree using bottles he got from restaurants, bars, family and friends.

The non-drinker said a metal structure with special hooks and construction foam holds the bottles in place. It’s an eye-catcher that makes motorists in the town of Lazdijai near the Polish border snap pictures.

Valukonis says he intends to build something even more impressive next year.

No beer led to ceramic squirrel stabbing

USA: South Carolina authorities say a 44-year-old woman angry at a man for returning home without beer on Christmas Eve beat and stabbed him with a ceramic squirrel.

The Charleston County Sheriff’s office says in a report that deputies found a man covered with blood when they arrived at Helen Williams’ North Charleston home early Wednesday. She told investigators the man fell and cut himself, but couldn’t explain why her hands and clothes were also bloody.

Deputies say the man said Williams was so angry when he returned without beer because stores were closed on Christmas Eve that she grabbed a ceramic squirrel, beat him in the head, then stabbed him in the shoulder and chest.

Williams was in jail Friday and charged with criminal domestic violence.

CHRISTMAS STRIFE

USA: Also in South Carolina authorities say another woman stabbed her fiance on Christmas Day after they argued over what colours should be used in their wedding.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Office said the man was trying to leave a home near Blythewood, Columbia, after the argument, when Krysta James attacked him at around 8.30pm.

Officers say the man was stabbed in the upper body, but his injuries are not life-threatening. James is charged with criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature. She remains in jail on a $10,000 (€7,275) bond.

PET NAZI

ENGLAND: The man who made headlines for wearing a Nazi SS uniform while shopping in Tesco has shocked the public again by dressing his dog in a similar style, The Cambridge News reports.

Paul Dutton, who blames his obsession on mental health issues, walks his Chinese crested dog Albie in a homemade Nazi coat. The 48-year-old has spent two months making the wool-lined beige outfit which has a big black swastika on the back and other SS badges.

Mr Dutton said: “Now we can march as Hitler’s men. I still don’t regret going into Asda that day, if I did, I wouldn’t be doing this.”

CASH REWARD

USA: A poker player who left a bag with $300,000 (€218,000) in the back seat of a Las Vegas taxi has given $10,000 to the honest cabbie who returned the money.

Yellow Checker Star Cab Company chief executive Bill Shranko said the gambler rewarded driver Gerardo Gamboa. He has also been named employee of the year, and given another $1,000 and a gift certificate to a steakhouse.

RECORD SCORCHER

USA: A US man who took a sweet hot pepper from the Caribbean and worked to make it hotter now officially grows the hottest peppers in the world.

Ed Currie of South Carolina spent four years working with students at Winthrop University who test food as part of their undergraduate classes to certify the amount of heat.

Guinness Book of World Records says a batch of Mr Currie’s Carolina Reaper peppers registered at nearly 1.6 million Scoville Heat Units. A regular jalapeno pepper registers around 5,000, while pepper spray weighs in at about two million Scoville Units.

MASTERPIECE SURPRISE

ENGLAND: A painting bought for £400 (€480) has been revealed to be an Anthony van Dyck portrait worth around £400,000, after its owner brought it into the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.

The painting was taken along to a roadshow in Newstead Abbey, near Nottingham, by Fr Jamie MacLeod, who now plans to sell it to buy new church bells. It was identified after the show’s host, Fiona Bruce, who was making a show about the artist with expert Philip Mould, saw the painting and thought it might be genuine.

Mr Mould agreed to take a look at it and after a lengthy restoration process, the painting was verified by Dr Christopher Brown who is one of the world authorities on van Dyck. The portrait is the most valuable painting identified in the show’s 36-year history.


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