The Third Sunday in Advent - already!
This is such a great way to communicate, don’t you think? (And an interesting way to ‘teach’, too.) I look forward to your daily blog and I will certainly miss it when our month is over. Can you believe that we are starting our third week already?
I also enjoy reading the comments of our readers. They are very generous, and I’d like to reply to each one. I’m pretty sure you would, too.
Today is the Third Sunday in Advent, so we lit another candle and there is now only one left to light on Christmas Eve. I’m going to try to attach a photograph of our Advent candles, on my dining table, and if I can master the software successfully I’ll add another couple of photos from this weekend. Perhaps I should add a photo of my car because although it’s a Mini it’s not like the old Mini Minor at all. This is a completely modern car, designed and built by BMW – but you probably know that.
So, you are now in Oyon, a small town in the Central Andes. It sounds very romantic, and far away from the hustle and bustle of city life at Christmas. The name of the mine looks a bit tricky to pronounce. My Spanish could be better! If it was 100% better it would still be embarrassing. You said you will stay there for three or four days depending on how much work you find. What sort of work is it this time? Do you always have to wear a suit and tie when you are working in the office in Lima? Here, in Britain, some companies have ‘dress down’ days (usually Fridays) when some employees can wear more informal clothes. It depends a little bit on your job. Bank clerks and shop assistants in smart department stores, for example, don’t have ‘dress down’ days, but if you don’t work in direct contact with the public you can often ‘dress down’ on a Friday, depending on company policy.
I can understand why 4x4s would be more useful in Peru. They would certainly be more useful than silly little sports cars with soft tops! Maybe we could do a deal between Britain and Peru. You see, here in Britain, quite a lot of people who live in big cities buy 4x4s and only use them to drive the children to school, half a kilometre down the road. Environmentalists have started to campaign against 4x4s, and have been quite successful. My local council, for example, is discussing how it can tax people who own 4x4s more than owners of eco-friendly (so-called ‘green’) cars. So, sales of 4x4s have started to decline here. Peru would be a better market, maybe. What do you think? What are the pros and cons?
Yes, G K Chesterton is well-known here, but he is not fashionable. Most people have probably heard of the Father Brown stories, but I don’t think most people in Britain today will have read them. Federico, I’m going to make a terrible confession to you: I have a university degree in English literature and I don’t think I have ever read anything by G K Chesterton. Lucy has just asked me whether there are any books I’d like for Christmas so I’m going to ask her for a G K Chesterton anthology. Thank you for the idea.
Yes, we also know panettone here. We import it from Italy and it is especially popular at Christmas although you can buy it all year round. I sometimes have a mini-panettone instead of a croissant for breakfast at the (Italian) coffee shop I go to. In my family we always buy a huge panettone at Christmas and then invite neighbours and local friends to drop in for a slice of it with a glass of dessert wine, even though, like you, I actually prefer it with hot chocolate or strong coffee.
So you have turkey on Christmas Eve in Peru? And your mother bought a live one! Sounds delicious, but why will it be impossible for you to be in Talavera to eat it? Surely you don’t have to work on Christmas Eve, do you?
I like what you said in your sixth paragraph, and I agree with every word, especially about television. Everyone I know has a smart new digital TV, or a flat screen or plasma screen, multi-channel ‘home entertainment centre’. Some of them are huge and completely dominate the room they’re in. I think Lucy feels deprived because she has no TV in her room. We have one, tiny and ancient, non-digital TV which is hardly ever switched on. We have no cable or satellite channels, just five terrestrial channels (and one of them doesn’t work properly). Fortunately, the two BBC channels we have work perfectly! We have no DVD player (except in our computers) and our video player broke several years ago and we still haven’t replaced it. Friends think we still live in the Stone Age.
I don’t think you are a pessimist. What you said is true. And I am sure you know how to have fun. If you had been with us today you would certainly have had fun. Even though it is Sunday we got up early and took the 08.21 train to Waterloo Station (central London) where we met several friends and went for an excellent breakfast overlooking the River Thames. It was cold and frosty, but very bright and sunny this morning. London looked like a Christmas card. After a long and leisurely breakfast we walked to Tate Modern – London’s newest and most-visited modern art gallery – where some of us were brave enough to go on the enormous plastic slides which have been installed inside. I’ll try to attach a photo at the end of the blog. It was fun watching and listening to people coming down at great speed – some of them screaming!
After that we exchanged early Christmas presents with friends we won’t see again until after Christmas and then separated: Lucy went off with a school friend, Rosi, to do some Christmas shopping and then to seethe new James Bond film Casino Royale. I bought a new shirt for my Christmas Eve party but began to feel a bit cold and sniffly. Yes, you’ve guessed, haven’t you? I have caught a cold, just in time for Christmas. Perfect. Of course, it’s my own fault for driving with the top down in the middle of an English winter. So, no sympathy from anyone.
I am now at home with a glass of hot mulled wine and lots of lemon and honey. I will have an early night and try to sleep it off. Have you got any traditional Peruvian remedies for a cold? It just isn’t possible to be unwell right now, I’m too busy. On Tuesday I will drive north to deliver Christmas presents to my sister and her family. It will be a flying visit because I have to be back in London on Wednesday but I’ll stop, briefly, in York on the way and when I post my blog the next day I’ll tell you more about the north, my sister and her family and the city of York. I might even give you a progress report on my cold.
Have a good time in Oyon.
Looking forward to hearing from you again soon.
Bye for now,
SOME USEFUL WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS
hustle and bustle
busy, noisy activity
a bit tricky
slightly difficult (idiomatic)
Dress down [adjective] day is a day when you are permitted to wear less formal clothes at work.
To dress [verb] down means to wear less formal clothes.
people who work at the counter in a bank [check the pronunciation of ‘clerk’ in a good dictionary: it should be pronounced, in British English, like /clark/]
four-wheel drive vehicles. Spoken: ‘four by four’ (plural: ‘four by fours’)
convertibles (i.e. cars with canvas roofs)
do a deal
make an business arrangement
people who study or work with the environment
to campaign against
to fight against
the pros and cons
the advantages and the disadvantages (idiomatic)
collection of poems, songs or stories
all year round
at all times (i.e. not seasonal)
pay a brief, informal (and perhaps unplanned) visit
not having something which is usually believed to be essential
courageous, willing to do things which are dangerous or frightening
having a runny nose when you have cold (idiomatic)
it’s my own fault
I am the only person to blame
have an early night
go to bed early (or earlier than usual)
sleep it off
try to get better by sleeping
a very brief and hurried visit
CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR TERMS
24th December: Christmas Eve
25th December: Christmas Day
26th December: Boxing Day
31st December: New Year’s Eve
1st January: New Year’s Day
Look again at these extracts from your blog, and the grammatically corrected versions:
1. ‘Of course I know how it is a mini minor.’
Of course I know what a Mini Minor is. [word selection and order]
2. ‘I think in Peru would be more useful4x4 cars.’
I think 4x4 cars would be more useful in Peru. [word order/sentence structure]
3. ‘It only produce in Christmas.’
It is only produced at Christmas. [passive structure/preposition]
Look again at the second half of your fifth paragraph. Then compare the following re-written and corrected version of it:
Many people buy a turkey for Christmas Eve. My mother told me she bought a live turkey three months ago and they have been feeding it up to eat on Christmas Day.
feed, fed, fed
eat, ate, eaten
Adjectives and adverbs:
To ask about: example sentence: I would like to ask about G K Chesterton.
Because of: example sentence: I think it is because of TV.
When we use the structure, one of his favourite + NOUN, the noun must be in the plural: example sentences: Chesterton is one of his favourite writers.
Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year.
Stockholm is one of my favourite cities.
Note the correct sentence structure with ‘hardly’: example sentences: Peruvians hardly read anything.
I hardly ever go to the theatre.
They hardly ever see their grandparents.
A FINAL NOTE
By the way, Federico, I love the way you try to incorporate many of the new words and expressions I include in my notes to you each day. You use them well. Well done.
Enjoy these pictures of the 'slides' at Tate Modern. The second one shows Lucy having just come down. It would be a better photo if my finger had not been over the aperture!
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