Showing posts from 2018

Peeved Parisians

The very public 'pissoirs' that are even too much for Paris: Environmentally friendly urinals ‘incite exhibitionism’, say locals 
Public eco-friendly urinals on Paris streets are causing uproar among residents The 'urinoirs' disguised as flower-boxes are cropping up in chic neighbourhoods A tourist hot spot in Île Saint-Louis by the Seine has become a hotbed for protests Public street-facing urinals are causing a stir along pavements across Paris, with urinals disguised as flower-boxes and cropping up in some of the city's more glamorous quarters.

One eco-friendly 'urinoir' deemed to be particularly offensive is painted in letterbox red and topped with a flower-box in the chic neighbourhood of Île Saint-Louis, just a stones throw from Notre Dame.

Local shopkeepers and residents in the tourist hot spot are protesting for the 'immodest and ugly' urinal's removal and fear the city 'is making itself ridiculous'.

'There's no need to …

More scandal for Spanish royals

Former king of Spain Juan Carlos I accused of using 'lover' to secure low-tax property deals
The former king of Spain, Juan Carlos I, used his alleged lover Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein to buy multiple overseas properties due to her tax residence in Monaco, according to claims made by the German aristocrat in a leaked audio recording.

In a 2015 conversation with a former Spanish police officer in London, Princess Corinna alleged that the king’s lawyers put her name on overseas properties without her permission, complaining that she was being drawn intomoney laundering”.

The 53-year-old princess, who obtained her title from her second marriage, also claimed that Juan Carlos I held bank accounts in Switzerland in the name of his cousin, Álvaro Orleans de Borbón.

The allegations in the recording, published by the Spanish newspapers El Español and OK Diario, are the latest controversies to spring from the long-reputed relationship between the Monaco-based princess and J…

"Spiderman" saves boy from fall

Paris balcony boy family thank Mali 'Spiderman' Mamoudou Gassama
The family of a small boy dramatically rescued afterdangling from a balcony in Paris, France have expressed their thanks to the Malian man who saved him.

"He's truly a hero," the boy's grandmother said of migrant Mamoudou Gassama, who scaled four floors to pluck the child from danger.

The four-year-old's father, who had left him in their flat and gone shopping, faces charges of failing to look after his child, reports say.

Mr Gassama will be givencitizenship.

French President Emmanuel Macron personally thanked him, gave him a medal for courage and said he would also be offered a role in the fire service.

More details have begun to emerge of the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Why was the boy on the balcony?

The boy left Réunion, where his mother and grandmother live, about three weeks ago and moved to Paris to join his father, who works in the city. His mother and the couple's se…

£10,000 for every 25-year-old

Give millennials £10,000 each to tackle generation gap, says thinktank
Resolution Foundation proposes ‘citizen’s inheritance’ to help redistribute wealth to young
Every person in Britain should receive £10,000 when they turn 25 to help fix the “broken” intergenerational contract between millennials and baby boomers, an influential thinktank has proposed following a two-year study.

The payment, described as a “citizen’s inheritance”, is intended to redistribute wealth at a time when young people need it most to find housing, return to education or start a business.

It is also intended to reduce resentment towards baby boomers (born 1946-65) who have typically done better out of the housing market and pensions than any subsequent generation.

The idea has emerged from the Resolution Foundation’s intergenerational commission, which has been working on the issue for two years and has now published its final report.

The panel was chaired by David Willetts, the former Conservative universit…

Run, run, run!

Source: Wikimedia (Ed Yourdon)

Running Vocabulary:

an athlete - un atleta

to beat your personal best - batir tu propio récord

a bib  - un dorsal (y babero)

a blister - una ampolla

to be out of  breath - sin aliento

to get cramp - darle a uno un calambre

downhill - cuesta abajo

the finishing line - la meta

flat (adj) - llano

to get injured - lesionarse

to go jogging / to jog - ir a correr

a jogger - un corredor

a lap (of a track) - una vuelta

pace- el ritmo

a race - una carrera

to be in shape ≠ to be out of shape - estar en forma ≠ estar bajo de forma

a slope - una cuesta

sore (adj) - dolerse

the starting line - la salida

steep (adj) - empinado

stiff (adj) - tener agujetas

to get a stitch - darle a uno flato

to do stretching - hacer estiramiento

to sweat - sudar

a track - una pista

to train (for a race) - entrenarse

trainers - zapatillas

to run on a treadmill - correr en la cinta

uphill - cuesta arriba

to warm up - calentar

Phrasal Verbs with run:

run around: to be very busy doing a lot …

Fake Master's and face cream force a resignation

Former Spanish presidency favourite resigns after CCTV captures her shoplifting face cream 
Cristina Cifuentes had recently faced controversy over allegedly fake Master's degree
The career of one of Spain’s most high-profile conservative politicians was in tatters Wednesday thanks to an alleged seven-year-old shoplifting case involving two 20 euro pots of anti-aging cream.

Madrid regional president Cristina Cifuentes, a leading light of Spain’s ruling centre right Partido Popular [PP] party, had once been tipped as a successor to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. 

But instead, Ms Cifuentes resigned after a three-minute video was published online of her emptying her handbag of items and handing them to a security guard in a grimy supermarket backroom.

The video, published by the OK Diario online site, shows Ms Cifuentes - at the time when she was deputy for the Madrid regional assembly - apparently finally paying for the anti-aging creams, worth 40 euros in total.

The securit…

A row over manchego

Cheesed off: Spain's manchego makers vow to fight EU name ruling
EU says Mexican producers can use manchego name to describe their cheaper, cow’s milk cheese
Makers and lovers of manchego, Spain’s famous sheep’s milk cheese, have vowed to fight an EU decision allowing Mexican producers to carry on using the same name to describe their cheaper, cow’s milk cheese.

A battle over ownership of the name had delayed a major trade deal between the EU and Mexico for months, but agreement was finally reached over the weekend in a deal that will allow 99% of goods to be traded between Mexico and the EU on a tariff-free basis.

However the agreement on manchego cheese, while giving the Spanish variant some extra protections against copy-cats when sold in Mexico, will allow both types of cheese to share the same name and sit on the same shelves in that country.

The European commissioner for agriculture, Phil Hogan, insisted careful packaging would make the origins of the two cheeses clear. “Th…

Shutters up or down?

Why are Spaniards the only people in Europe obsessed with window blinds? 
Spain enjoys plenty of hours of sun, but yet apartments and houses are often completely shut off to natural light. Why is this?
“It’s like Spaniards are afraid of light,” says Caroline Jurgens, a 42-year-old Dutch woman who has been living in Spain since 2005. One of the first things that surprised Jurgens when she arrived from Amsterdam to Spain was the number of homes with the shutters down. 
“They pull them down all year long, even in winter even though it’s not so hot. The Dutch do the opposite: we need light all the time,” she says.

While the use of shutters in Europe is only anecdotal, here in Spain they are part of popular culture – and almost always kept down. And it’s not just because Spain receives more hours of light – between 2,500 and 3,000 hours in an average year, compared to the 1,600 in countries such as the United Kingdom or Holland. There are other, more interesting reasons.

Any Spaniard who …

Murders in London spiral

London murder rateovertakes New York for first time ever after spate of fatal stabbings and shootings
London's murder rate has overtaken New York City's for the first time ever, according to a new report.

February marked the first month the UK capital saw more murders than New York, with 15 dead (nine aged 30 or younger).

According to the report in the Sunday Times, London also suffered 22 fatal stabbings and shootings in March, higher than the 21 in the Big Apple.

Both cities have similarly sized populations of around 8.5m people. New York City's murder rate has decreased by around 87 per cent since the 1990s.

Meanwhile, London's has grown by nearly 40 per cent in just three years, not including deaths caused by terrorist attacks.

On Saturday a murder probe was launched after a 36-year-old woman was killed in what is believed to be the 30th incident of fatal knife crime in the capital this year.

The death came just hours after a man 23-year-old man died after being st…

Mon Dieu! Not rude, just French

Waiter fired for being too rude says he was 'just being French'
A waiter fired for being "aggressive, rude and disrespectful" has insisted there was nothing wrong with his manner - he was just being “French”.

Deserved or not, France’s reputation for producing surly waiters who eye customers with suspicion, indeed disdain, is known the world over and has stood the test of time.

Now one waiter has taken that reputation to another level by appearing to claim that a grumpy “garçon” is a cherished French national trait, not a sign of unprofessional conduct.

Guillaume Rey, who worked at a Vancouver restaurant on Canada's Pacific coast, filed a complaint with British Columbia's Human Rights Tribunal against his former employer, saying he is the victim of "discrimination against my culture".

The restaurant, operated by Cara Operations, accused Mr Rey ofbreaching its code of conduct; it argued that he persisted in unacceptably rude behaviour despit…

The possible history of fish and chips

The Portuguese gave us fried fish, the Belgians invented chips but 150 years ago an East End boy united them to create The World's Greatest Double Act 
They're a British institution as well as a national money-spinner, but how much do we really know about fish and chips?

For most of us, the classic combination of battered fish and chipped potatoes deep-fried in beef fat or vegetable oil is as English as the cup of tea that washes it down.

But just as tea originates in India or China, fish and chips is partly Portuguese and partly Belgian. 

The British can take credit for uniting these two Continental imports and creating a coupling that is loved the world over.

Today, Britain's 10,500 fish and chip shops have an annual turnoverin excess of £650million.

This multi-million-pound industry, which currentlyaccounts for a quarter of the white fish and more than ten per cent of the potatoes we eat, grew from humble beginnings.

One hundred and fifty years ago, in 1860, on the s…

Should public transport be free?

“Car nation” Germany has surprised neighbours with a radical proposal to reduce road traffic by making public transport free, as Berlin scrambles to meet EU air pollution targets and avoid big fines.

The move comes just over two years after Volkswagen’s devastating “dieselgate” emissions cheating scandal unleashed a wave of anger at the auto industry, a keystone of German prosperity.

“We are considering public transport free of chargein order to reduce the number of private cars,” three ministers including the environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, wrote to EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella in the letter seen by AFP Tuesday.

“Effectively fighting air pollution without any further unnecessary delays is of the highest priority for Germany,” the ministers added.

The proposal will be tested by “the end of this year at the latest” in five cities across western Germany, including former capital Bonn and industrial cities Essen and Mannheim.

The move is a radical one for the normal…

F1 bans "grid girls"

Walk-on 'grid girls' scrapped from Formula One races
Formula One says the custom does not resonate with its brand values and "clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms".
Women who walk on to the grid at the start of Formula One races will no longer be used, the sport's organisers have said.

The change will apply from the start of the new Grand Prix season, with the first race taking place in Melbourne, Australia on 25 March.

The women, commonly called grid girls, are often seen carrying the drivers' standards which indicate their race numbers and their location on the starting line.

They also often line the route that the top three drivers take as they head to the podium at the end of a race.

Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations at F1, said: "Over the last year we have looked at a number of areas which we felt neededupdatingso as to be more in tune with our vision for this great sport.

"While the practice of employing g…

Darkest hour / "We shall never surrender"

The other day I went to see Darkest Hour. I have just read some of the reviews just now. I wouldn't rate it as highly as the majority do.

When you see a film (even one in Spanish), you could read some of the reviews. I recommend Rotten Tomatoes.

Movie Info

During the early days of World War II, with the fall of France imminent, Britain faces its darkest hour as the threat of invasion looms. As the seemingly unstoppable Nazi forces advance, and with the Allied army cornered on the beaches of Dunkirk, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the leadership of the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Academy Award nominee Gary Oldman). While maneuvering his political rivals, he must confront the ultimate choice: negotiate with Hitler and save the British people at a terrible cost or rally the nation and fight onagainst incredible odds. Directed by Joe Wright, DARKEST HOUR is the dramatic and inspiring story of four weeks in 1940 during which Churchill's courage to …

Vive la baguette!

Macron: French baguettes should be Unesco-listed treasures
The French baguette should be listed as a Unesco cultural treasure, says France's President Emmanuel Macron.

"The baguette is the envy of the whole world," he said, in support of a national bakers' association that is promoting the application.

The bakers have been inspired by the success of Italy's Naples pizza, which was protected by the UN's cultural body last year.

Unesco's list aims to save traditions from globalisation.

The Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage meets annually to evaluate nominations from around the world.

Why do the French think this is necessary?

The bakers say it is not just the name and shape, but the recipe and ingredients that need to be enshrined.

"Excellence and expertise must be preserved, and that is why it should be heritage-listed," President Macron told French radio after receiving a group of master bakers at the Elysée preside…