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.


Christmas is a time for celebration, but this year it is a more sombre occasion for many. Some of those things which could once have been taken for granted suddenly seem less certain and, naturally, give rise to feelings of insecurity.

People are touched by events which have their roots far across the world. Whether it is the global economy or violence in a distant land, the effects can be keenly felt at home.

Once again, many of our service men and women are serving on operations in common cause to bring peace and security to troubled places.

In this 90th year since the end of the First World War, the last survivors recently commemorated the service and enormous sacrifice of their…

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…

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?

Hotel El Prado (a wine-themed retreat in Madrid's Bohemian literary quarter):


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 tour…

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…

Palin's Prank Phone Call

Source: You Tube (Superplatanoman) Key words: palin prank call

Masked Avengers: Ah, yeah, Gov. Palin.

Palin: Hello.

Avengers: Just hold on for President Sarkozy, one moment.

P: Oh, it's not him yet, they're saying. I always do that.

A: Yes, hello, Gov. Palin

P: Hello, this is Sarah, how are you?

A: Fine, and you? This is Nicolas Sarkozy speaking, how are you?

P: Oh, it's so good to hear you. Thank you for calling us.

A: Oh, it's a pleasure.

P: Thank you sir, we have such great respect for you, John McCain and I. We love you and thank you for taking a few minutes to talk to me.

A: I follow your campaigns closely with my special American adviser Johnny Hallyday, you know?

P: Yes, good.

A: Excellent. Are you confident?

P: Very confident and we're thankful that polls are showing that the race is tightening and...

A: Well I know very well that the campaign can be exhausting. How do you feel right now, my dear?

P: I feel so good. I feel like we're in a marathon and a…

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

Source: You Tube (Mark Schulz) Key words: Obama victory speech 2008

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference. It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those wh…