Showing posts from 2008

Happy Hogmanay!

The Origins of Hogmanay

A guid New Year to ane an` a` and mony may ye see!

While New Year's Eve is celebrated around the world, the Scots have a long rich heritage associated with this event - and have their own name for it, Hogmanay.

There are many theories about the derivation of the word "Hogmanay". The Scandinavian word for the feast preceding Yule was "Hoggo-nott" while the Flemish words (many have come into Scots) "hoog min dag" means "great love day". Hogmanay could also be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon, Haleg monath, Holy Month, or the Gaelic, oge maidne, new morning. But the most likely source seems to be the French. "Homme est né" or "Man is born" while in France the last day of the year when gifts were exchanged was "aguillaneuf" while in Normandy presents given at that time were "hoguignetes". Take your pick!

In Scotland a similar practice to that in Normandy was recorded, rather disapprovi…

Queen's Christmas Speech

Source: You Tube (lukey123stratty) Key Words: Queen Christmas 2008 speech

Every Christmas Day afternoon at 3pm, families used to gatherround the telly to listen to the Queen's speech.

I say "used to", because I suspect that they don't do so in the numbers that they did in the past.

Did you watch King Juan Carlos's speech? Compare it to the Queen's.

How was your Christmas? What did you do? Did you eat and drink too much?

Santa baby - Kylie v Eartha

Do you prefer Kylie's version....

... or do you prefer the purrrrrformance of Earth Kitt? She first sang it in 1953.

Source: You Tube (EveryDaysAHoliday) Key Words: Eartha Santa

Just slip a sable under the tree
For me
Been an awful good girl
Santa Baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby,
A 54 convertible too
Light blue
I'll wait up for you, dear
Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the fun I've missed
Think of all the Fella's that I haven't kissed
Next year I could be just as good
If you'll check out my Christmas list

Santa Baby,
I want a yacht and that's not
A lot
Been an angel all year
Santa Baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby,
theres only one thing I need
The deed
To a platinum mine
Santa Baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby,
Fill my stocking with a duplex
And checks
Sign your 'ex' on the line
Santa baby,
and hurry down the chimney tonight

Come and trim my Christmas tree
With som…

Lucky for some

Didn't he do El

A BRITISH expat was yesterday among the top winners of Spain’s £2.1BILLION El Gordo lottery.

Up to 1,950 people scooped £283,662 tax-free in the draw — which translates as The Fat One.

They included a horde of revellers at one bar who scooped a total of £92MILLION between them.

The complicated Christmas draw is designed to create as many winners as possible, and 32 million people entered.

Tickets cost 200 euros, or £189 — divided into tenths called decimos, at 20 euros, or £18.90.

Spaniards join work colleagues, families or even entire communities to buy tickets.

Hundreds of thousands queued in the cold to snap up a share, hoping to beat the economic gloom which has left Spain with the highest jobless rate in Europe.

The British winner, who has not been named, bought a ticket ending in a five because he was born in 1945.

He is living in the Torrevieja area on the South East coast where shop staff celebrated with other winning customers.

Three quarters of Spaniards p…

Poem - Twas the Night before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now…

Scrooge (Alastair Sim)

There have been many adaptions of A Christmas Carol; but the best interpretation of Scrooge was by Alastair Sim.

Source: You Tube (Americanlifestylenet) Key words: scrooge alastair sim 1951

It's an excellent film. Watch it after you have read the book.

A Christmas Carol

Here is a seasonal story for you to read over the holidays: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. You can read the shortened, simplified version first and then you can try reading the original book.


Take a note of any new words or expressions:
Scrooge is the surname of the main character in A Christmas Carol. Someone who spends as little money as possible and is stingy can be called a scrooge.
as dead as a doornail means that someone or something is clearly dead.
Other similar idiomatic expressions such as the one above:
as deaf as a post means someone has great difficulty with their hearing.
Can you guess how to complete the following with an adjective or a noun: as good as ____ as sick as a ______ as blind as a ___ as strong as an __ as white as a _____ as ___ as a fiddle(a violin) as ____ as a brush as ____ as a rake(un rastrillo) as ____ as a cucumber(un pepino) as ___ as a fox

Mary's boy child - Boney M

Here is a seasonal song which also brings back some childhood memories for me.

What is your favourite Christmas song?

What songs remind you of your childhood?

Mary's boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day.

Long time ago in Bethlehem, so the Holy Bible say,
Mary's boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today,
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day.
Mary's boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.

While shepherds watch their flocks by night,
they see a bright new shining star,
they hear a choir sing a song, the music seemed to come from afar.

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today,
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day.


For a moment the world was aglow, all the bells rang out
there were tears of joy and laughter, people shouted
"let everyone know, there is hope for all to…

Hotel Recommendations

Here are a couple of reviews of hotels in Madrid to readers of an English newspaper. Do you agree with the description of hotels in Madrid?


In Madrid’s buzzy and Bohemian literary quarter, close to the Thyssen and a short walk from Atocha station for high-speed trains to Seville.


Not its strong point, despite the owners’ decision to give this 48-room hotel a wine theme (their second, marginally more upscale hotel, Lope de Vega, has a literary motif).


Spotless and functional, with compact bathrooms. Some rooms have balconies, small plasma TVs and wifi connection. Room quality does vary. Room 407 is more attractive than most.


Skip the hotel breakfast and go to a local bar for a café solo con churros.

We like

The young and perky all-female staff. The fun location, with endless tapas bars on the doorstep and tempting boutiques.

Not so keen

The cramped lobby, with its deluge of tacky tourist leaflets; the noisy tiled corridors.


On a quiet residential street of…

Hangover cures

Tips on How to Dodge a Hangover

After a night of heavy drinking, if you're lucky enough to have found your bed, waking up isn't the most pleasant experience. That throbbing head, the vampiresque fear of daylight, that dry mouth... when celebrating with a drink and good company, we often forget the near future that awaits us. When the words, "I am never drinking again," echo through your head, you'll wish you'd thought of preventing the hangover rather than needing to apply cures.

Here are some tips and ideas on how to keep that hangover to a minimum or (possibly) completely out of the picture:

1. Do not drink on an empty stomach. Eat something before you go out or engage in drinking. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream quite quickly; the rate at which this happens depends on the type of food that is in your system. Carbohydrates and foods that contain a high fat percentage slow the absorption down. The ideal situation would be that you eat something small…

"The fat one"

Here are some lottery related stories:


Spanish Christmas Gordo Lottery brings happiness to some

Luck finally came into the life of José Gadin, a painter who had to retire because he was left injured after falling in an accident at work. He purchased a ticket with the number of date the accident happened – the 6,381. Diego Muñoz from Motril purchased his winning ticket on the very morning of the draw and is now 100,000 richer at a time when his assets had just been embargoed following a failed business venture.

Lady luck can also be cruel. A priest in San Lorenzo de Zamora, Jesús Campos, told the local residents that he had dreamed the number 6,380 would win and therefore he purchased 30 series of that number. He sold participations for 2€ 50 across the village, but Sunday’s draw showed he was one number away, although in the Gordo that does give a small consolation prize.


2006: Actor out of luck in Spain lottery For years, British actor Clive Arrindell has…

Daring crimes

Armed men in wigs pull off £70m robbery at top Paris jewellery store• Haul believed to be one of the world's biggest
• Gang said to have detailed knowledge of shop

French police yesterday ordered a Europe-wide hunt for a band of audacious armed robbers who disguised themselves as women in order to pull off one of the world's biggest jewellery robberies.
Four men, some wearing wigs and female clothing, made a rapid getaway from the exclusive Harry Winston store in Paris after stealing almost every piece of jewellery on display and emptying two backdoor storage cases.

Police put the estimated total value of the haul at €80m (£70m), making it by farthe largest jewel robbery carried out in France. "This is certainly a record," said Doron Levy, a spokesman for the French union of jewellers. "It exceeds anything we've seen here going back years."

The group burst into the upmarket jewellers at around 5.30pm on Thursday, eluding security guards with their unusu…

Author angers the mob

Living with the wrath of the Mafia
Not yet 30, Roberto Saviano has achieved what other writers only dream of: an acclaimed bestseller, which he has adapted into an Oscar-tipped film.

But he lives in hiding, with only armed policemen for company. Gangsters from his native city of Naples have passed a death sentence on him.

He has incurred theirwrath after writing an expose of the Camorra, the Neapolitan equivalent of the Sicilian Mafia.

Saviano's Gomorrah, a pun at the expense of the gangs and their biblical wrongdoing, has turned an unwelcomespotlight on their activities.

A police wiretap on a gang boss in his prison cell detected the threat against the writer.

Officers are treating it as credible, including its nauseating addenda that the hit should be carried out by Christmas, if at all possible.

Saviano grew up in Casal di Principe, an unremarkable dormitory of Naples which is well off the itinerary of the cruise passengers who call at the Mediterranean port.

He could hardly f…

Maradona . Thank you for 1986!

Here is the goal that most Scots celebrated, much like the Argentine commentator.

What other goals do you consider memorable and why?

Maradona - back in the headlines

Maxi Rodrigez scored after eight minutes to mark Diego Maradona's debut as Argentina head coach with a 1-0 victory at Scotland in a friendly on Wednesday.

Back at Hampden Park where Maradona, an 18-year-old then, scored his first international goal in a 3-1 win over the Scots in1979, the controversial star made another winning start -- to his reign over the national team this time.

The football legend looked happy when the whistle announced his first victory in charge and hugged the entire team as they walked off the pitch to the spectators' ovation.

Rodriguez gave the visitors the early lead at the end of a superb passing move involving Carlos Tevez and Jonas Gutierrez.

Scotland seemed overrun in the first 30 minutes and were unable to find a way past a resolute Argentina defence despite a better second half.

Argentina, fading after the break, also could not add to their advantage.

A chilly rain early on could not dampen local fans' enthusiasm to see their hero, whose &qu…

Linkword - Memory Technique

What do you think of this way of learning vocabulary? Do you think it would work for Spanish learners of English? What do you think the drawbacks are?

I have picked 5 words at random from a course book:

have a hangover

How would you memorize them using the suggestions of Michael Gruneberg?

I find it funny how he swings his arms up and down like Zapatero.

Palin's Prank Phone Call

This is so funny.

They always say how the States is the land of opportunity, where anyone can reach the top. But it is worrying too!

Berlusconi puts his foot in it again

Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's gaffe-prone Prime Minister, today found himself accused of racism after calling Barack Obama "suntanned".

Speaking in Moscow at a joint news conference with President Medvedev, Mr Berlusconi said Mr Obama's election had been "hailed by world public opinion as the arrival of a Messiah".

He added: "I will try to help relations between Russia and the United States, where a new generation has come to power. I don't see problems for Medvedev in establishing good relations with Obama, who is also handsome, young and suntanned".

Mr Berlusconi said he had intended the remark as a compliment and those who failed to understand this were "imbeciles".

Earlier Mr Berlusconi, 72, had said he would be in a position to offer Mr Obama advice on politics because of his age and experience. The Italian leader himself boasts a perma-tan, and has had plastic surgery in an attempt to make him look younger.

Dario Franceschini, a …

Victory / Concession Speeches

Listen and read the victory speech made by Barack Obamahere.

Listen and read the concession speech made by John McCainhere.

Source: New York Times

USA's oldest voter

Obama hails the 106-year-old black woman who symbolises the spirit of his triumph

Barack Obama highlighted the life of 106-year-old black voter Ann Nixon Cooper as capturing the spirit of his election triumph.

'She was born just a generation past slavery, a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky, when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the colour of her skin,' he said.

'And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope, the struggle and the progress, the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: "Yes we can."'

Mrs Cooper has seen 18 presidents come and go and outlived most of them, but, like all black Americans, she had to wait until 1965 to gain the right to vote - when she was 63.

Born Ann Louise Nixon on January 9 1902 in Shelbyville, Tennessee, she was one of six siblings. W…

Next - ban bullfighting!

Antonio, this ties in with the text that you read for today's class. I remember being surprised when reading it at the time; as I wouldn't expect a country with the track record of Spain to produce a law supporting animal rights.

Apes get legal rights in Spain, to surprise of bullfight critics

Spain is to become the first country to extend legal rights to apes, wrongfooting animal rights activists who have long campaigned against bullfighting in the country.

In what is thought to be the first time a national legislature has grantedsuchrights to animals, the Spanish parliament’s environmental committee voted to approve resolutions committing the country to the Great Apes Project, designed by scientists and philosophers who say that humans’ closest biological relatives also deserve rights.

The resolution, adopted with crossparty support, calls on the Government to promote the Great Apes Project internationally and ensure the protection of apes from “abuse, torture and death”. “Th…

Iconic red phone boxes

Click on the title to this post to watch a video about the red phone boxes. Then answer these questions.
What are the other icons of British life?Why does Ron think that red telephone boxes are so important?According to Ron, what is the problem with mobile phones and why are they "well worth retaining"?How does the scheme to save the telephone boxes work?
Listen as many times as you need. Try to complete these sentences.

Few aspects of British life have been so loved, ___ __ _________.If you've got one of these (a mobile), ___ __ _____ would you need to visit one of these (a telephone box)?___ __ ____ __ ___, since then, about a third have been removed by BT (British Telecom).Councils now have to decide whether they ___ _____ ______ __ ____.
Here are some jumbled up words from the video with their definition. Can you guess what they are and hear them in their context.

cloaf inpot : the thing that everyone looks at or is interested ingleneedtc : not receiving enough care or at…

When are you going to get it done?

Has she had her nose and chin done? Photo:

I need to get my oven fixed. It hasn't been working for ages.

I should have my eyes tested again. I think I might need new glasses.

I never have my hair cut. I save some money by cutting it myself.

If you need to get something translated, I can do it for you.

My parents are always having some room in the house redecorated.

I remember how we used to get the newspapers and milk delivered to our house.

If the bags under my eyes get much worse, I'll get them removed.

Listen to the Grammar Challenge and practice the "get/have something done" structure here. Then create, like I have, some examples of your own.

You had a Bad Day - Daniel Powter

Where is the moment we needed the most
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost
You tell me your blue skies fade to grey
You tell me your passion's gone away
And I don't need nocarryin' on

You stand in the line just to hit a new low
You're faking a smile with the coffee to go
You tell me your life's been way off line
You're falling to pieces everytime
And I don't need no carryin' on

Because you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad day
You had a bad day

Well, you need a blue sky holiday
The point is they laugh at what you say
And I don't need no carryin' on

You had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don'…

Jailed abroad

Sex-on-beach trial Britons guilty

A British man and woman have been sentenced to three months in jail in Dubai after being found guilty of having sex on a beach.

Michelle Palmer, 36, of Oakham, Rutland, and Vince Acors, 34, of Bromley, south-east London, were arrested on 5 July.

They were fined 1,000 dirhams (£160; $350) and will be deported after serving their sentences.

Their lawyer says the pair will appeal against the verdict.

A spokesman for the judge said Acors and Palmer would be jailed and then deported for the offences of unmarried sex and public indecency.

He added that they had been fined for being drunk in a public place.

"The sentence of three months is usual in these cases. We get many cases of this kind," he said.

Acors and Palmer were not at Dubai's Court of First Instance to hear the ruling but had been ordered not to leave the emirate.

'Not happy'

Their defence lawyer Hassan Matter said the pair were upset but not surprised by the verdict.


Old but alert

106-year-old voter chooses Obama

A 106-year-old American nun living in a convent in Rome could well be one of the oldest voters to cast a ballotin the 2008 US Presidential election.

Sister Cecilia Gaudette, who last voted for President Eisenhower in 1952, has registered to vote and says she will vote for Democrat Barack Obama.

Although hard of hearing, she keeps herself informed by reading newspapers and watching TV at the convent.

"I'm encouraged by Senator Obama," she says.

"I've never met him, but he seems to be a good man with a good private life. That's the first thing. Then he must be able to govern," she adds.

Sitting in her modest office in the convent where she has lived for the past 50 years, the diminutive nun appears uninterested in the row inside the American Catholic church over Senator Obama's support for pro-choice policies on abortion.

Asked about her hopes for the US under an Obama presidency, she says: "Peace abroad. I don't wor…