Showing posts from 2017

New Year, new language

Learning a language is resolution for one in five Brits, survey says 
 Learning a language will be a new year's resolution for about one in five Britons in 2018, a survey suggests.

About one in three said they intend to learn at least some key phrases.

Spanish was the most popular language among 2,109 UK adults questioned by Populus for the British Council.

"If we are to remain globally competitive post-Brexit, we need more people who can speak languages," said British Council schools advisor, Vicky Gough.

Of the representative sample of adults polled:
64% said they had always wanted to speak another language fluently 56% said they regretted never havingmade the effort to do so58% agreed it was more important than ever for people in the UK to learn another language but only a third said they could currentlyhold a basic conversation in one 45% were embarrassed by their poor language skills
In November, a British Council report identified Spanish, followed by Mandarin, Fre…

Starving polar bear or PR?

Polar bear video: Is it really the 'face of climate change'?
It is harrowing footage. An emaciated polar bear searches for food on Baffin Island, north-eastern Canada. 
Exhausted, it drags one leg slowly behind it, eventually trying to eat some discarded seating foam among rubbish humans have left.

Polar bears hunt from the sea ice, which is diminishing every year, and the photography team are certain the unfortunate animal died within days.

Watch the video hereSource : National Geographic

"This is what starvation looks like," wrote one of the photographers, Paul Nicklen. "The muscles atrophy. No energy. It's a slow, painful death."

Mr Nicklen's colleague, Cristina Mittermeier, said: "We cried as we filmed this dying bear. This is the face of climate change."

The clip has gone viral, widely shared as a warning about the dangers of climate change. But is there more to it?

'Public relations exercise' Mr Nicklen and Ms Mittermeier …

Gloomy news from the Arctic

Warmer Arctic is the 'new normal' A warming, rapidly changing Arctic is the "new normal" and shows no signs of returning to the reliably frozen region of the past.

This is according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Arctic Report Card.

Director of the administration's Arctic Researcher Program, Dr Jeremy Mathis, said the region did a great service to the planet - acting as a refrigerator.

"We've now left that refrigerator door open," he added. Dr Mathis was speaking at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans, where Noaa presented its annual summation of Arctic science.

This is the 12th report the administration has produced. And although it pointed to "a few anomalies" in a recent pattern of warming in the Arctic region, Dr Mathis said: "We can confirm, it will not stay in its reliably frozen state."

"The thing I took that had the most resonance for me was we're able …


Garden shed becomes best rated restaurant on TripAdvisor - but it serves up Iceland ready meals 
Oobah Butler created the fake "appointment only" restaurant in his garden using photographs of food and decoration made up ofshaving foam and bleach
A garden shed became the top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor after a writer tricked the popular review site by submitting fake reviews.

Oobah Butler, who writes for Vice, created the fake restaurant in his garden by setting up a website with photographs of food, which were in fact made from shaving foam, bleach and extra texture provided by using his bare foot as a backdrop.

He based his meals onmoods in a bid to set it apart from other restaurants - but many of the dishes served on opening night were in fact, Iceland ready meals.

He bought a mobile phone and registered the number as the restaurant's while refusing to give an address as it was "appointment-only", enlisting the help of friends to meet people nearby and…

Food reviews

On Thursday I went to a vegan restaurant and without a doubt, it was the tastiest vegan meal I have had in Madrid. I will certainly go back.

Here are some of the reviews of Vega on Trip Advisor:

***** 28 September 2017 Dinner

We went last Saturday evening. Food was yummy. Simple wholesome dishes filled with organic veggies and accompanied by some yum black rice. The mushroom croquetas were really tasty. As was the dessert, Panna cotta. The staff were helpful and very friendly. Would definitely go back.

****  22 June 2017 Fun, different and tasty!

We visited on a Saturday night and they were full (so definitely book in advance, thankfully we had). The atmosphere was great, it's a small place and it was bustling. The dining style is fairly casual with high tables, people eating at the bar and regular tables but the food was very special.

We ordered tapas and tried some local beers and had a really fun evening. We were visiting for our anniversary celebrations and the food served was d…

A crowdfunding story

How to crowdfund a restaurant empire 

When award-winning chef Gary Usher was *turned down for a loan to open a second restaurant, he *set up a crowdfunding campaign. Now he's about to launch his fourth restaurant.

All restaurants have a coming-of-age moment, the point at which they survive and thrive, or go down fighting. For Gary Usher’s Sticky Walnut, in a two-up two-down house in Hoole, just outside Chester, that moment came in 2013, about 18 months after they had opened. Usher, like any ambitious young chef *starting out on his own aged 30, had ploughed every penny he had into Sticky Walnut. He had gone back to Chester to open the restaurant – not far from where he had started out working in pubs – after successful stints in London at Michelin-starred Chez Bruce, and running Gordon Ramsay and Angela Hartnett’s kitchen at the York & Albany. He couldn’t afford to fail. Sticky Walnut had started well. He was getting good local reviews, doing healthy evening business and was pa…

The first 50 posts

I have been doing this blog for over ten years now. There are times when I felt like giving up but for some reason or other I never did.

I've been looking at the first 50 posts; from Sept 8th 2007 to Apr 9th 2008 (see all the posts using the Archive in the top left of the blog).

These are the posts that never received a comment:

Have you seen the film Catch Me If You Can?

The Flatmates was a fun way to improve your English.

Halloween doesn't have its origins in the United States.

We'll soon be hearing Last Christmas in the shops again.

A politician claimed the Spanish left €1 Tips for a coffee.

Advice on how to keep your New Year Resolutions.

There are controversial lines in God Save the Queen.

Pancake Day is a fun tradition in the UK.

The (lack of) Rain in Spain was a problem ten years ago too.

There was Rioting (again) in Madrid by football hooligans.

A bit of a gamble made a man wealthy.

We had Round Number One between Zapatero and Rajoy.

Are you one of those who says that "E…

Fewer Brits with pets

Pets in the doghouse as ownership falls
When it comes to the cost of owning a pet, many people in the UK are finding that there's just not enough money in the kitty.

Modern economic pressures mean that fewer households now own a pet. Just 56% now have one, down from 63% five years ago, say retail analysts Mintel.

Because many people cannot affordto buy their own home, more are renting from landlords who don't allow animals.

People are also having a family later in life, and children are big pet fans.

"Shrinking household sizes and the trend of consumers starting their families later in life are all having a negative effect on pet ownership," said Emma Clifford, associate director of food and drink at Mintel.

"Additionally,the shift towards privately rented accommodation continues to putdownwardpressure on pet ownership."

 Ownership of pet fish, including goldfish and tropical fish, has taken the biggest tumble, down from 17% of households in 2012 to 10% th…

Should languages be gender-neutral?

French language watchdogs say 'non' to gender-neutral style 
The Académie Française, France’s ultimate authority on the language, sparks national row after describing inclusive writing as an ‘aberration’ 
The Académie Française, France’s ultimate authority on the French language, is under fierce attack for describing gender-neutral text as an “aberration” that puts the language in “mortal danger”.

The “Immortals”, as the 40 academy members – only five of whom are women – are known, have sparked a national row after declaring that “inclusive writing” has no place in the country’s grammar books, or anywhere else for that matter.

In a statement full of hyperbole, the academy condemned the increasing use of new spellings aimed at making written French less masculine, arguing that it could not see the “desired objective” of the changes.

French grammatical rules give the masculine form of a noun precedence over the female. Women on an all-female board of company directors are called…

Whisky drama

World's most expensive dram of Scotch was a fake
A dram of vintage Scotch bought by a Chinese millionaire in a Swiss hotel bar for £7,600 was a fake, laboratory tests have concluded.

Analysts from Scotland were called in by the Waldhaus Am See hotel in St Moritz after experts questioned the authenticity of the 2cl shot.

It had been poured from an unopened bottle labelled as an 1878 Macallan single malt.

It is believed to be the largest sum ever paid for a poured dram of Scotch.

But analysis found that it was almost certainly not distilled before 1970.

The hotel said it had accepted the findings and reimbursed the customer in full. Zhang Wei, 36, from Beijing - one of China's highest-earning online writers - had paid just under 10,000 Swiss francs (£7,600, $10,050) for the single shot while visiting the hotel's Devil's Place whisky bar in July.

But suspicions about the spirit's provenance surfaced soon after the purchase, when whisky industry experts spotted discre…

It's a fact - "fake news" named Word of the Year

'Fake news' named Collins Dictionary's official Word of the Year for 2017 
Orwellian coinage popularised by US President Donald Trump and his team during the presidential election campaign defines its moment, according to leading lexicographers 
The term “fake news” has been named Collins' Word of the Year 2017.

Usage of the term - which has often been used by US President Donald Trump - has risen by 365% since 2016.

Defined as “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting”, “fake news” will now be added to the next print edition of Collins Dictionary.

Lexicographers, the people who compile dictionaries, found other politically relevant words had been significant over the last 12 months, including “antifa”, an abbreviation of “anti-fascist”, and “echo chamber”, which refers to those who share their opinions in environments, especially social media, where the only people who hear or read their views will be of a similar dispositi…

Titanic letter

Passenger's letter from doomed Titanic sells for record £126,000 
Penning the letter a day before the disaster, the passenger writes: "If all goes well, we will arrive in New York (on) Wednesday". One of the last-known letters written on board the Titanic has sold at auction for a record-breaking £126,000.

The handwritten note was penned on 13 April 1912 - a day before the ship hit an iceberg and sank in a tragedy that killed more than 1,500 people.

It was written on embossed Titanic stationeryby first-class passenger Alexander Oskar Holverson, who was intending to post it to his mother in New York.

The salesman had boarded the Titanic in Southampton with his wife Mary, who survived the disaster. She never remarried - and according to Encyclopaedia Titanica, she was buried with her husband in New York after dying of kidney failure in 1918 at the age of 41.

In the letter, he says the couple "had good weather while we were in London", adding that England was &…

Bad day? Try out the 90/10 Principle

Discover the 90/10 Principle  It will change your life (at least the way you react to situations).

What is this principle? 10% of life is made up of what happens to you. 90% of life is decided by how you react.

What does this mean? We really have no control over 10% of what happens to us.

We cannot stop the car frombreakingdown. The plane will be late arriving, which messes up our whole. A driver may cut us off in traffic.

We have no control over this 10%. The other 90% is different. You determine the other 90%.

How? By your reaction.

You cannot control a red light. but you can control your reaction.

Don’t let peoplefool you; you can control how you react.

Let’s use an example. You are eating breakfast with your family. Your daughter knocks over a cup of coffee onto your business shirt. You have no control over what just happened.

What happens next will be determined by how you react.

You curse.

You harshly scold your daughter for knocking the cup over. She breaks down in tears. Afte…