I suddenly realised I haven’t really told you about the two most iconic landmarks in Sydney, so I thought I should make up for that immediately! Can you guess which landmarks I’m talking about? That’s right – the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
The Bridge was built in the 1930s to join the north and south sides of the Harbour. It’s probably most recognised nowadays for the New Year’s Eve celebrations and fireworks, which are really spectacular. They seem to get more elaborate every year! The bridge also hosted fireworks for the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. There are a few facts you might not know …
• The bridge was (is?) built from Middlesbrough steel (Middlesbrough is a town in the north-east of England)
• It is affectionately known as the coat hanger (no prizes for guessing why!)
• You can now climb the bridge – many famous people have done so, including Matt Damon, Kylie Minogue and Sarah Ferguson (remember her? Used to be married to Prince Andrew, the brother of Prince Charles)
• A very well-known Australian artwork is The Bridge in Curve, painted in 1926 by the artist Grace Cossington Smith; it shows the two curves of the bridge rising to meet each other as it nears completion.
• The official opening of the bridge became a political protest; just as the Premier of NSW was about to cut the ribbon, a protester slashed it with a sword. He was making the point that the bridge should only be opened by a member of the Royal Family (despite the fact that they were all on the other side of the world …)
• It is still legal (I think – but don’t try this without checking first!!) to drive sheep across the bridge (as in guiding a flock on foot) between 3am and 4am.
• Whales occasionally come into Sydney Harbour and have been known to swim under the bridge (this causes huge excitement, as I’m sure you can imagine!)
Here’s a photo of me & Owen at this historic landmark … as you can see, it was raining and he was not particularly impressed!
The Opera House was opened in 1973, and is situated on the harbour right across from the Harbour Bridge (Owen & I were standing at the Opera House when the photo was taken). I think the best views are from the water, which is easy to do if you take a ferry. Here are some more facts for you:
• The architect, Jorn Utzon, who designed the Opera House is actually Danish.
• He never saw the completed building, as he resigned from the project; as a result, his plans for the interior were never realised, and the project was completed by others.
• There are a few versions of what inspired Utzon’s design; some people say the design represents sails, whereas others claim his inspiration came from an orange cut into segments. What do you think?
• During the Sydney Festival, which is held every January, the Opera House and other significant buildings in Sydney are illuminated with different colours.
• An open-air cinema is held in Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens every year as part of the Festival, which has views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge as the backdrop to the movie screen.
• They originally intended to demolish the Botanical Gardens to provide a car park for the Opera House, but fortunately a better solution was found (they built an underground car park instead. Thank goodness for that!)
Maybe you could tell us about some of the important buildings in your town or capital city?
Leila, thanks for your references for Kalevala – it was very interesting to read about! Sorry, I did remember that you mentioned it, but somehow I hadn’t realised what it was!!
The Finnish Christmas dinner sounds wonderful (especially the ham, the mushroom salad and the different fish dishes – yum!!). Ham is also a big feature of Christmas dinner both here and in the UK. I guess the really traditional English Christmas dish is a roast turkey with cranberry sauce, and lots of roast vegetables (especially potatoes – my favourite!). I really don’t like turkey; I once saw a TV programme describing exactly how turkeys are fattened up for Christmas, and I’ve never eaten turkey since! A common alternative to turkey is roast pork, which is served with apple sauce (and, of course, roast veggies!).
Many people celebrate Christmas with these dishes here in Oz, although it’s the middle of summer and, really, too hot for a roast dinner. A lot of people prefer to have seafood, with prawns and other cold seafood and a variety of salads, which is much more sensible given the heat! I have to admit, the one thing I still can’t get used to out here is having a really hot Christmas; I always feel that Christmas should be cold! (Maybe I should come to Finland, Leila, I’m sure it’s cold enough for me there, and I might even get to meet Santa!) Another idea that’s catching on is to have “Christmas in July”, which is winter here – people gather together for a traditional Christmas dinner with their friends and families, and then have the seafood on December 25th when it’s really hot.
Dessert is, of course, Christmas pudding! There are a lot of traditions involved in the making of Christmas pudding; one is that as the pudding is being prepared (before cooking), every member of the family should stir the pudding and make a wish. A coin is added to the pudding before cooking, and if you get the coin in your piece of pudding you will be rich.
All this talk of food is making me hungry, so I think I’ll stop!!
Let’s have a look at some vocab instead (do you think that will distract me from wanting food? I don’t think so, somehow!)
As always, well done to all of you for having a go at the last homework; you gave some really interesting answers, and I now have a long list of international authors and musicians to find out about! My answers are:
1. The last thing I dug out (note – dig is irregular!) was the photo of me & Owen at the Harbour Bridge
2. I’m catching up with an old work-colleague next week; we’re going out for lunch.
3. One of my old haunts (and I go back there whenever I can) is the river near my parents’ house in England. I’ve been going there ever since I was little and have many happy memories of the times I’ve spent there.
4. As you all correctly said, many many books have been adapted into movies. I’m always a bit wary of going to see a movie if it’s been adapted from a book I particularly like in case it’s not as good as I imagined. However, there are some instances where I’ve both loved the book and enjoyed the movie; you might enjoy them too, so I’ll list them for you:
• Charlotte Gray (book by Sebastian Faulks, movie starring Cate Blanchett) (If you like the book, I should warn you that they changed the ending when they made the movie!)
• The English Patient (book by Michael Ondaatje, movie starring Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas)
• Cold Mountain (book by Charles Frasier, movie starring Nicole Kidman and Jude Law)
• Chocolat (book by Joanne Harris, movie starring Juliet Binoche and Johnny Depp)
5. A prolific writer from the UK would be someone like Charles Dickens (to take a classic), or Agatha Christie (as a prolific crime writer).
6. The next thing I plan to get round to doing is making a Christmas cake using my grandmother’s recipe – it’s the first time I’ve done one, so I need to do it soon in case it’s a disaster and I have to make another one!
And some definitions for you from previous posts …
21st Nov – The Three Sisters
spring to mind (expr) – to come quickly into your mind
outlaw (n) – in the past, someone who has broken the law and lives in hiding
bushranger (n) – similar to outlaw; this is an Aussie expression for a criminal who lives in the bush (in the countryside)
strung out (adj) – people or groups in a long line, with a lot of space between them
I’m hard pressed (expr) – having a lot of difficulties doing sth
Don’t get me wrong (expr) – don’t misunderstand me
25th Nov – Lorikeets
a misnomer – an unsuitable or inappropriate name for something
squawk – make a loud, harsh noise
to keep an eye on sb – to watch sb carefully
empty-handed – without bringing or taking anything
frantically – done in a hurry
Well, I think that brings us up-to-date! As I’ve asked you to describe some significant buildings in your town, I won’t give you any vocab questions for homework. I’ll be back on Friday for my last post (I can’t believe how quickly the last two months have gone!), and I’ll give you today’s definitions then; I’ll also have a message for all of you individually, so it’ll probably be a very long one!!
Hope you all have a good few days until we meet again,
Today’s vocab …
fatten up (phr vb)
given the heat (expr – I’m focussing on the use of “given”, here)
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