April Fools Day: 10 stories that look like pranks but aren't

Kissing, Sahara, Fat Duck, chalice, Old Trafford, Andy Murray

April Fools' Day sets a challenge for news junkies as they are bombarded with bogus news stories, some so subtle as to be nearly undetectable.

But here is a round-up of some of this year's bizarre stories that are true, or seriously intended at least.

1. Heston Blumenthal is moving the Fat Duck restaurant to Melbourne, Australia, for six months. The three Michelin-starred restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, will close for renovations from the end of December this year and the whole team - along with some fixtures and fittings - will head down under. The Crown Towers hotel will play host to the restaurant from February 2015.

More details (the Guardian)

2. A resident of Peterhead in Aberdeenshire is decorating dog mess on the pavement with strawberries and cream. Theresa Ritchie wants to draw attention to the small mounds and also embarrass owners into picking up more. The vigilante also uses cake icing and Nutella in her unusual labelling strategy.

Is this the best April Fool hoax?

Woman picking 'spaghetti'

On 1 April 1957, the BBC current affairs programme Panorama fooled the nation with a report about the annual spaghetti harvest. Michael Peacock, who commissioned the film, recalls how his team came up with the idea and kept it secret before broadcasting to a credulous audience.

More details (Evening Express)

3. Ambitious internet sellers were trying to sell a discontinued flavour of car air freshener for £450 on ebay. The Jelly Belly 3D Juicy Flavour used to retail at £3.49 but is now being replaced by other flavours. The item was later withdrawn although there are other sellers still trying to get £100 for their fresheners.

More details (the Sun, page 3)

4. Sand from the Sahara desert landed on David Cameron's car. The phenomenon, sometimes known as blood rain, leaves a thin layer of red dust behind. The particles are swept up by winds in North Africa and can be blown for hundreds of miles in the right conditions.

More details (Daily Mail)

5. A hotel owned by Andy Murray is now open for business. The 26-year-old tennis star bought Cromlix House, near his home town of Dunblane, last year. It has been converted into a 15-room luxury hotel with its own loch, chapel and tennis court. It is already fully booked for the Ryder Cup. Murray was best man at his brother Jamie's wedding there in 2010.

True stories from past April Fools

More details

6. A candidate for the Holy Grail, the supposed cup from which Jesus drank at the last supper, has been found in Spain. The goblet, made of agate, gold and onyx, has had to be removed from display at a church in Leon after crowds flocked to see it. Two historians published a book saying it could be the famous chalice. They started their search after the discovery of two Egyptian parchments at a university in Cairo. The cup will not be displayed until the church of San Isidro has found a suitably large space to accommodate the throngs of visitors.

More details (the Guardian)

7. Manchester United's Old Trafford ground could be renamed after Nike in a £500m deal. Football commentator Richard Keys originally made the claim and it has now been restated by the Daily Star. The club have dismissed the allegations as "rubbish".

More details (Daily Star)

8. Rats as big as cats are roaming the streets of Birmingham. The city had 5,100 rat alerts in the past year and pest controllers reported seeing one rodent which was 2ft long and the "width of a brick". Bad weather is thought to have increased the number of call-outs by forcing the monstrous creatures indoors.

More details (Daily Mirror)

9. Traditionalists in Brittany are upset by the spread of multiple cheek kissing. People in the Celtic-tinged region of France usually only greet others with a single kiss. But some people are adapting the style from elsewhere in France where between two and four kisses are normal. An internet campaign - The Group of the Rehabilitation of the Single Kiss in Brest - has now been launched.

More details (the Times)

10. A man lost over 14st (196lb, 90kg) using morris dancing. Richard Landon had reached a weight of 28st 2lb thanks to excess pies and alcohol. But his rapid weight loss coincided with taking up traditional British folk dancing.

More details (the Sun)

Assembled by Finlo Rohrer and Andrew McFarlane

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