Showing posts from 2015

New Year in Sol

Madrid closes iconic Sol metro station to beef up New Year security
The metro station at Puerta del Sol, where thousands of people gather every year to welcome in the New Year, will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. 

Madrid’s regional government confirmed on Wednesday that the underground station would be closed between 9pm and 12.30am on Wednesday 30th December and  from 9pm on Thursday 31st because of New Year's Eve preparations.

Trains will pass through Sol station but will not stop. The closure will affect metro lines 1, 2 and 3. Those wishing to reach Sol are advised toget off at nearby metros such as Tirso de Molina on Line 1, Opera on Line 2 and 5 or Callao on Lines 3 and 5.

 Sol metro station will also open later than usual - at 7am - on January 1st.

The closure has been ordered by Madrid’s police in a bid to limit overcrowding in Madrid’s busiest and most iconic meeting place, where every year, thousands of people gather to welcome in the New Year and…

Boxing day

Why is Boxing Day called Boxing Day?
Boxing Day: a time for napping, playing with all the toys you got your hands on at Christmas, and stubbornly refusingto change out of your pyjamas unless there’s a major sale involved.

But what is Boxing Day, other than a day when trains are crap and shops are packed? And how did it get its name?

So. The very, very basics: Boxing Day is the day after Christmas – December 26, celebrated in the UK.

It’s a bank holiday, so banks are closed, shops open later, and public transport definitely isn’t reliable. There are also loads of post-Christmas sales.

Boxing Day’s history and origins are actually fairly contested, as no one is certain of how it got its name.

Some theorise that the name Boxing Day comes from the post-Christmas tradition of churches leaving a box outside their doors to collect money for the less fortunate, while others believe it’s to do with ships, when those aboard would open a box of money to give to a priestin aid of the poor.

But t…

Spain's demographic problems

Deaths outnumber births in Spain
Recession and high unemployment have encouraged many citizens to (1)seek/search/look better prospects abroad
Spain, long concerned (2)for/of/about its ageing population and emptying countryside, has passed a milestone in population decline, recording more deaths than births in the first half of this year.

Deaths exceeded births by more than 19,000 in the first half of 2015, a turnaround from a year earlier when there were nearly 4,000 more births than deaths, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said.

Spain has not consistently experienced more deaths than births since its 1936-39 civil war or the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, according tonews reports. Deaths (3)shortly/briefly/quickly exceeded births in early 1999, but demographers considered that a blip, while now they see it as the start of a longer trend.

The INE predicted last year that a trend of more deaths than births would begin in 2015 and the gap would continue to widen until 2062. It said t…

Lottery calculations

What are your mathematical chances of winning Spain’s Christmas lottery?
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no point standing in line at La Manolita lottery seller
For generations, Christmas in Spain has been inextricably linked to a lottery known as El Gordo (literally, The Fat One) because of its large prizes.

For a few hours on the morning of December 22, millions of people throughout the countrytune in to the radio or television to hear students from San Ildefonso school – a former orphanage – sing out the winning numbers. Images of winners uncorking champagne bottles and tearfullyembracing one another get airedfor days afterwards.

In terms of brand recognition, few companies can compete with the Spanish Christmas lottery, which has been held since the early 19th century.

Besides paying out more than any of the other state lotteries organized throughout the year, the Gordo is pickedaccording to a different mathematical formula.

All the other lotteries are chosen by selecting a num…

Flat or house?

Spain: A nation where two-thirds of population are flat-dwellers
More Spaniards live in apartments than anyone else in Europe, but why do they seem to favour flats over houses?
Spain has the highest proportion of flat-dwellers in Europe and the lowest percentage of people living in houses, according to a new report by Eurostat.

The latest figures on European housing reveal that two out of three Spaniards live in a flat, while in countries such as Britain, Croatia and Norway, more than 80 percent of people live in houses.

Flats are also a popular form of accommodation in Latvia - where 65 percent of the population live in a flat - Lithuania (58 percent) and Greece (57 percent).

But unlike their flat-dwelling European cousins, most Spaniards own their own homes - 80 percent own while only 20 percent rent. They just prefer those homes to be flats and not houses.

Six out of ten Europeans live in houses, so why do Spaniards prefer flats? One answer is that Spain is a heavily urbanized soci…

November tweets

I have been on Twitter for four and a half years now. If you haven't signed up, why not do so? I think it is an entertaining way to help you along the learning path.

Here is a look at some of the tweets from Novembers past:


I have been living in my flat since November 2011. I will have to move again in a year's time when the contract runs out.

The thing about tweets is that you are limited to 140 characters so you have to omit words.  For example in the first tweet here, I'd normally say:

I am very happy in my new home and neighbourhood. I am still hard at work opening boxes and arranging things but the end is in sight.

Very happy in my new home and NEIGHBOURHOOD. Still hard at work opening boxes and arranging things but the end is IN SIGHT. — Graham Mad Teacher (@madteacher72) noviembre 5, 2011
I am hopeless at putting furniture together. I think the table would still be in the box if I hadn't had help.

Notice that I write useful expressions in capital letters. What…

Things turn ugly in Zimbabwe

Uproar as Zimbabwe's Mister Ugly winner deemed 'too handsome'
Crowd favourite claims the man who beat him to the title only won because he has missing teeth and is not ‘naturally ugly’
Judges have crowned a new winner of Zimbabwe’s 4th annual Mister Ugly contest, upsetting supporters of the crowd favourite and prompting violence at the event.

Judges on Saturday chose 42-year-old Mison Sere, citing his numerous missing front teeth and a wide range of grotesque facial expressions, over William Masvinu, who had held the title since 2012.

Masvinu and his supporters mobbed the judges upon hearing their decision, claiming that Sere was “too handsome” to win and his ugliness wasn’t natural since it was based on missing teeth.
“I am naturally ugly. He is not. He is ugly only when he opens his mouth,” maintained Masvinu, gesturing at his rival.

“Do we have to lose our teeth to win? This is cheating,” shouted another contestant, Patrick Mupereki.

While no one was injured, there was…

"Fellow Spaniards: Franco has died"

On This Day
1975: Spanish dictator Franco dies

General Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain with an authoritarian hand for 39 years, has died at the age of 82.

He had been ill for five weeks and died early this morning at La Paz hospital, Madrid. Doctors said the cause of death was heart failure aggravated by peritonitis.

Flags all around the country are at half-mast and the general's body is now lying in state at the El Pardo Palace.

Franco, also known as the Generalissimo, will be buried next week at the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum.


The Prime Minister, Carlos Arias Navarro, his voicetrembling with emotion, announced the death at 1000 local time on radio.

 He said that on his deathbed General Franco had asked his enemies to forgive him.

"I ask pardon of all my enemies, as I pardon with all my heart all those who declared themselves my enemy, although I did not consider them to be so," the general had said.

He also asked the Spanish people to remain loyal to…

Pollution problems hit Madrid

Madrid completely car-free following anti-pollution parking ban
MADRID'S radical anti-pollution plan means the city streets resemble a Sunday afternoon rather than a working day, locals report – parking has been bannedwithin the M-30 ringroad, or the central 'oval' of the city, except for residents and the disabled.

Mixed feelings have been provoked by the sudden parking ban, which carries a €90 fine if ignored. Those who live in the city are delighted with the extra parking spaces suddenly available to them, and traffic jams have disappeared literally overnight. Getting from A to B in taxi or bus is much quicker and easier, and the whole city has a more relaxed feel about it, say workers, tourists and residents. But the downside has been that all public transport routes are now packed. The frequency of metro trains has not increased, and when they arrive, it is often impossible even to get on board, especially during rush hour. Those who have further to go to get to work …

Do you have a dadbod because you binge-watch too much?

Binge-watch is Collins' dictionary's Word of the Year Collins English Dictionary has chosen binge-watch as its 2015 Word of the Year. Meaning "to watch a large number of television programmes (especially all the shows from one series) in succession", it reflects a marked change in viewing habits, due to subscription services like Netflix.

Lexicographers noticed that its usage was up 200% on 2014.

Other entries include dadbod, ghosting and clean eating.

Source: BBC News Vocabulary:

binge (v,n) / binge-drinking -

due to -

to notice stg -

usage (n) -

a sea change in stg -

to partake in stg -

to run the risk of stg -

plump (adj) -

to fit (a description) -

purported (adj) -

brief (n) -

a snapshot of stg -

to be due -

to require -

to advocate stg -

to spread -

to splay -

to deny stg to sb -

to draw attention to stg -

an offence -

to swipe -

in order to -

to dismiss -

What's your favourite new word and why?

Get busy before you start work

14 things successful people do before breakfast
Do you do 14 things before work? This report from the World Economic Forum spells out how to make the most of your mornings
Many people think that squeezing in breakfast before work is a feat in itself. However, research from the World Economic Forum states that successful people make the most of their mornings.

They have released a list of 14 things that successful people do in the mornings before the first meal of the day.

It includes exercising, spending quality time with the family, networking over coffee and working on a personal-passion project.

The WEF states: "Those among us who have managed to find professional success and eke out a life actively embrace this philosophy. They must set aside their first hours of the day to invest in their top-priority activities before other people’s priorities come rushing in."

 This is backed up by science - Laura Vanderkam, a time-management expert and the author of “What the Mo…

Negative inversion tweets

Here are some tweets that illustrate negative inversion:

Not only has he taken my seat he also stole the remote 😒 — SPN*NI ❌✒ (@TVDNI_SpnNI) octubre 7, 2015
"Not since I fell off the roof as our trampoline was delivered have things come together so perfectly." Phil Dunphy — Lewis Roderick (@lewisroderick) octubre 6, 2015
Witnessed a guy opening the door for a lady tonight... Hardly ever do I see that. It's sad I felt that that was so rare, I had to tweet it — mek milli (@OhhMyMekaaaa) octubre 16, 2015
It's crazy how we used to think Christopher Columbus was a good person 😴 little did we know — Bee (@beedonkadonks) octubre 12, 2015
No way am I going to college just for a one hour lesson while I'm feeling this fragile, bed all day sounds much better 😄😄😄 — Kirsty Jade Sykes (@Kirstsykes_) octubre 12, 2015
Only now do I truly understand the meaning of the quote 'you're only as good as the company you keep' — Katrinananana …

As sick as a parrot

Who's a pretty boy then? Man cuts off his ears to look like a parrot
Ted Richards, 56, has already had his face and eyeballs tattooed, next he wants a surgeon to turn his nose into a beak
A man who had his face and eyeballs tattooed to look like his pet parrots has gone a step further - by cutting off his ears.

Ted Richards, 56, is obsessed by pets Ellie, Teaka, Timneh, Jake and Bubi and has his face tattooed with colourful feathers.

But the animal lover - who has 110 tattoos, 50 piercings and a split tongue - has now had both his ears removed by a surgeon in a six hour operation. Source: Daily Telegraph Vocabulary:
to turn into -

to go a step further -

to split (v, adj) -

to remove -

to sever -

a beak -

to tease -

gory (adj) -

to be likely to -

retired (adj) -

to brand -

a magnet -

as well as (linker) -

to scour -

a wing -

to keep tight-lipped -

to carry out (an operation, a survey...) -

to undergo (an operation) -

an issue -

a pin -

to add -

blimey! -

to blow (blew, blown) off -

a chuc…

Job v work

What's the difference between job and work?

Work is a both a verb and anoun (uncountable) whereas job is used as a noun (countable):
I don't have much work this week.  He has a lot of work at the moment. He has a lot of works at the moment.She has two jobs. She is a travel agent and she also works as a waitress at weekends.He's a lawyer. He has a well-paid jobin a multi-national. He has a well-paid work.
We say go to work, start work and finish work:
I go to work by underground. I go to my job by underground.She starts work at eight on Fridays. She starts her job at eight on Fridays.
Job is more specific than work. Job refers to your particular employment position such as a teacher, lawyer, shop assistant and so on.
I like my job; I'm a journalist.       My job is a journalist.I'm looking for a new job (= a new position).       I'm looking for new work.John has found a job as an accountant for a clothes company.What's his job? = What does he do?
We use work (v) …

Top feel-good song

Mathematical formula finds the number one song to listen to 'if you wanna have a good time'

A mathematical formula has been created to discover the number one song that will really make you happy - and it's not by Pharrell Williams.

Queen's hit, Don't Stop Me Now, topped the charts after expert in cognitive neuroscience and emotion, Dr Jacob Jolij, sifted through 126 songs from the last 50 years.

He then combined the songs with feedback from Brits to analyse why certain tunes make people happy and even developed a mind bending equation to go along with it.

The formula is as follows - FGI= ?L postivie / (BPM-150) +(K-[1/3+?,1/3,1/3-?])+1.

Source: Daily Mirror Vocabulary: to top (the charts) - to sift through stg - feedback (n) - a tune - to make stg happen - mind bending (adj) - to go along with stg (= to accompany) - to be as follows - a boffin - a brand - to team up with sb - to lift (your mood) - mood (n) / to be in a bad/good mood - research (unc n, v) - to be (most, lea…

Toro de la Vega - a national disgrace!

Spanish town holds bull-spearing festival despite protests
A fighting bull was speared to death in central Spain on Tuesday as the town of Tordesillas continued a 500-year-old tradition despite clashes between participants and animal rights campaigners.

Protesters have vowed to end the "Toro de la Vega" bullfighting event, where hunters on horseback and on foot chase a bull through a pine forest before killing it with spears.
Around 100 people staged a sit-in along the route the bull was due to run. There were scuffles and fist fights between the protesters and supporters of the event, who view it as a pure battle between man and beast, pointing to strict rules on how the bull can be killed. Source: Daily Telegraph Vocabulary: to hold (an event) - a spear (n,v) - a clash - to vow to do stg - on horseback - to chase - to stage - a sit-in - to be due to do stg - a scuffle - a fist fight - a supporter - to point to stg - a wound - to beat (beat, beat /bet/, beaten) - to stab - a thr…