Springtime in Sydney
Hello again everyone and greetings from rainy Sydney!
Firstly, Prince Chris would like to greet his loyal subjects and express his gratitude for all your messages of sympathy concerning his terrible loss … And yes, Princess Rachel is pleased to admit that she did the right thing and bought the prince another pair of Italian shoes. However, Italian shoes bought in Sydney are not the same as Italian shoes bought in Italy … (Naheed, your wonderful recipe for vindaloo might just do the trick and repair the shoe-shaped hole in our relationship, so thank you very much for that! And thank you also to everyone else who sent recipes and descriptions of some of your national dishes; they all sound delicious and if I can’t make them myself I shall certainly find out where I can get them!)
Anyway, on to much happier things – the weather! (Well, I am a Pom, after all!) It has been raining off and on since Thursday now, which is actually great in terms of drought-relief, but not so much fun when you have a small boy who hates being stuck indoors! The weather was so bad on Saturday that we were seriously considering calling off the picnic, but Sunday was actually beautiful weather (to the extent that I got really sunburnt – ow! It was stupid really, but by the time I’d covered Owen in sunscreen and made him put his hat and sunglasses on, the last thing I felt like doing was attending to myself. I’m paying for it now, though!)
So, on Sunday, we went to Elkington Park in Balmain with some friends for a picnic. Balmain is another of Sydney’s gems – it’s also on the water (the other side of the ANZAC Bridge to Glebe), and is a very old suburb. It used to be a very working class area, because a lot of the docks were situated there; Chris went to primary school in Balmain and can remember the siren going at the end of the day for knocking off time. Balmain is similar to Glebe in that there are a lot of cafes and restaurants (and pubs - LOTS of pubs!), and also some interesting shops (no chain stores or fast food, which is a rarity these days!). However, in my opinion, Glebe is still quite alternative (and therefore more appealing to me) whereas Balmain is more upmarket.
I took some photos of the park to show you – no views of any bridges from here, but it’s lovely to look out over the water. The reason this particular park is special to us is that we got married here seven years ago (seven years!!!!). We really wanted to get married in a park and spent ages driving round the Inner West looking for one, and eventually chose Elkington. When Chris was really little, he used to live just across the road from the park, so he has fond childhood memories of it as well. We also had Owen’s naming ceremony here, right at the end of the park under the big tree. In Australia, you can get married anywhere you like as long as you have a licence, which I think is great! I think the idea is catching on in the UK, but as far as I know parks are still out of the question for weddings.
This is the view of the water at the edge of the park
We got married near the water to the right of the picture as you're looking at it, and Owen's naming ceremony was held under the big tree right at the end of the park.
Here’s another sign that it’s spring time – the jacaranda trees. They come into bloom at the end of October, so all across Sydney you can see patches of purple, which I think is just beautiful. When the flowers start appearing it always reminds me that it’s nearly our anniversary! A lot of Aussie trees and plants are evergreens; they never shed their leaves, so spring here (I think) is a lot less noticeable than in Europe, where everything suddenly bursts into life after winter. Anyway, I took a photo of the jacarandas here in Hurlstone Park so you can see them for yourself.
Oh, and one more picture – ice-cream! And Owen! This was our young man in the seafood restaurant where we went for our anniversary – ice-cream eating is such a serious business, isn't it?
I also said I would tell you about the Melbourne Cup, which for many Aussies is the definitive sign that spring has arrived. I think we have a couple of readers in Melbourne (yes, Hualan, I’m thinking of you!!) so if anyone wants to tell us what it’s like being in Victoria for the Cup, we’d love to hear about it. The first race was held in 1861, and (I think) it’s a two-mile course, which means the race itself only lasts about 3 minutes! At the last school where I worked, the students in the Business English class organised a whole-school sweepstake, and then just before the race started all lessons stopped and everyone went to the reception area to watch it. Even people who aren’t normally into horse racing (or gambling) put a bet on for the Cup (except me – I didn’t even know the names of any of the horses in this year’s race, and in fact they were running it while I was typing this; I’m probably the only person in Australia still not to know who this year’s winner is!). I do know one thing, though, which is that this year’s race was almost cancelled because of the equine flu (horse flu)epidemic that broke out recently. It was so bad that all horses were quarantined to try and stop the flu spreading, and there was talk of calling off the Cup. I think to some extent the quarantine is still in place, so a lot of horses who were expected to race this year couldn’t do so. If you’re really interested in knowing more about the Cup, the official website is: www.melbournecup.com.
Well, let’s have a look now at the homework from last time, and then we can get into some vocab.
Well done everyone for having a go, and especially to Leila (I always think it’s a bit harder to correct yourself!)
1. The reason for that is …
2. I am a rather impatient person OR I am rather an impatient person
3. The reason for the above is …
4. Someone knew that a couple of songs
Corrections (using lack as a verb)
a. I maybe lack it (self-confidence) at times
b. I lack looseness in my writing style
(no of in either of these examples)
You could rewrite them like this:
There’s a lack of self-confidence
There’s a lack of looseness in my writing style
I’m lacking in self-confidence (=not to have a quality)
Her writing style is lacking looseness
Leila, thank you for your last couple of posts; I really enjoyed your photos (especially the one that Katri took – wonderful! What time of day was it taken?), and I would like to wish you and your husband a very happy (belated) anniversary; I hope you had a lovely day. I’ve taken note of your questions (off and of – wow! I’ll need to think about that one!) and I promise I’ll get to them in my next post.
I couldn’t find any fault with your sentence about All Saint’s Day; it was grammatically accurate and the vocab you used was perfect to describe the graveyards – I had an instant mental picture of how it would look. (Ana Paula, I should say the same to you too about your description of the Day of the Dead; I was really moved when I read it.) Sadly, it’s not celebrated here in Australia (at least, not by the general population).
You can say “me and my sister”; I think some people would insist that it’s not correct English, but the truth is it’s used so commonly these days that it’s become acceptable.
A quick question for you and all our readers – would you like to do a little bit of work on articles? Several people seemed to indicate that articles are a difficult area, so if you’d like a bit of help, just let me know.
OK, ready for some vocab? (This is for everyone, not just Leila!) I’m not going to do it all at once, so let’s just look at the vocab from my posts on 18th and 22nd October. If you’re able to, have a look back at these two posts just to refresh your memory about the context, and if you wrote the words down in your vocab book with a definition, have a look at that too.
This time, I’m going to give you the definitions so you can check your ideas about what the words meant. Then, there are some exercises at the end to give you some more practice if you want to do some – answers next time!
18th Oct – The biggest “loser” sport in the world
(three years) on the trot (expr) = three years consecutively
gala (n) = a special occasion with a variety of entertainment
evocative (adj) = making you remember something pleasant
kidding (vb) = joking
opponent (n) = a person you are competing against in a sports event
make a comeback (expr) = to regain popularity
knock sb out (of a competition) (phr vb) = to eliminate
spot on (adj) = exactly right
22nd October – Culture Shock
to sledge (vb – slang) = to shout insults against a sports team during a match
to be / get wound up (expr) = to become annoyed or upset
good natured (adj) = pleasant, friendly
designated (adj) = a place or area that has been assigned for a specific purpose
to come by (phr vb) = to get*
* to come by is often used with easy or hard
biting wind (collocation) = a freezing cold, bitter wind
vocal (adj) = noisy, outspoken
Down Under (n) = Australia
exhilarating (adj) = making you feel excited and happy
live (adj) (rhymes with five, not with give) = a performance that is seen or broadcast while it is happening (not recorded and watched later).
And now for the exercises! With a lot of these questions, the aim is for you to apply the vocab to your own experiences so you can start using it naturally. You don’t need to write long answers – just a sentence is fine. And some of the questions are intended to build on the vocab. Ready? OK then!
1. “on the trot” – can you write a sentence about something that you did / have been doing “on the trot”? (e.g. I’ve been blogging for the BBC for two months on the trot.)
2. What’s the verb of “evocative”?
3. In a team sport, what’s the opposite of “opponent?”
4. Can you think of a famous person who has “made a comeback”? Who?
5. When was the last time your team was knocked out of a competition? What happened? (e.g. “England was knocked out of the Rugby World Cup by South Africa”)
6. What really winds you up?
7. Who is the most good-natured person you know? Why?
8. Can you think of any places that might have designated seating?
9. Are there any products that are easy to come by in your countries at this time of year?
10. Do you ever get a biting wind in your country? In which months?
11. What are the noun and verb forms of “exhilarating”?
12. What was the last live performance/event you saw?
Oh, and before I forget, here’s the vocab from today!
off and on (expr)
(one of Sydney’s) gems (n)
knocking off time (expr)
be into sth (phr vb)
quarantine (n / vb)
Well I think that’s all folks, as they say in the cartoons, so I’ll leave you in peace for now!
PS - Niaz Ali from Aryana; G'day is what Australians say to greet each other. It's a short form of "Good Day"
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