A pinch and a punch,
For the first of the month! (An old English saying for the first day of each month, usually accompanied by a real pinch and a real punch!)
Hi there Anastasia, a belated happy birthday to you,
Welcome and greetings to everyone else reading this blog, how are you all?
Let me start by saying that I have neither a globe nor an atlas handy so your coordinates baffled me to say the least! (I admit that I was tempted to google the answer but I resisted).Your question about my aptitude for geography caused me to think back to my school days and I attempted to remember geography classes. To my shame, I don’t even recollect one class which probably indicates too many years have passed between now and my school days!
Anastasia, let's talk names now as you mentioned that my double -barrel surname gives us something in common. While I’m not entirely sure what our common ground is (and I’m pretty excited to find out about it ), I’m going to take a shot in the dark……do you share the second half of my surname? I know it’s quite a common name in the country I think you are from (your first name gives clues to your nationality I think). I’ll put all my cards on the table here and say that you are from the caviar- eating, vodka -drinking, borscht and blini -making country of…. Russia. Regarding the exact whereabouts I can only make the feeble guess of Moscow due to the fact you mentioned feelings of claustrophobia and agoraphobia so I’m guessing you are from a big city. I’ll be waiting for news of your exact location with bated breath in your next posting.
I guess I should give you a brief introduction to my good self; I’m Trudi Faulkner-Petrova, British and married to Rossen who is half Bulgarian-half Russian thus the ‘Petrova’ bit in my name. My potted history is that I’m from Droitwich Spa which is just outside of Birmingham in the UK. In 1997, I came to China for a year’s work for a British university and guess what… I’m still here in Beijing. Doing a different job now though and many things have changed about me and Beijing itself since I first arrived but that’s another story! I live with my husband and 17 month old daughter, Teah, here in Beijing and the rest of my family (Mum, Dad, little brother, grandparents) all live back in my hometown in the UK.
What needs to be said now is that I was really impressed with your written English; you must have really put some hard work into learning the language. I loved some of your expressions and sentence structures, perhaps you will be the one teaching me a thing or two!!You must tell me and all the other people reading the blogs what your techniques and strategies for language learning are and share some methods that really worked for you. It will be interesting to hear about your English language learning experiences and what goals you have for improving your English. You said you wanted to sound more natural in your writing and speaking, so vocabulary choice and turn of phrase are the key points for you to achieve this. I often ask students if they really enjoy studying English or just do it because they have to and I get mixed responses, hand on your heart what are your feelings about language learning? Do you feel like a different person when you are using English compared with when you are speaking your native language?
On the topic of learning foreign languages, the language I have been trying to pick up for many years is Mandarin Chinese. I’ve got to admit that teachers are often the laziest students so it’s taken me quite a few years to become an average mandarin speaker. It took me two weeks just to remember the Chinese words for ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’, honestly, the language sounded so alien to me that I just couldn’t get the words to stick in my brain!
Well, I guess I’ll sign off now by saying that I’m very glad to have made your online acquaintance and I think it’s going to be a very interesting and fruitful February for us. By the way, Chinese New Year is approaching and the year of the golden pig will end. Do you know what the next Chinese New Year animal is? What animal are you according to the Chinese horoscope? More on this topic next posting...
Until then, have a great weekend
All the best
PS. I’ve eaten 2 chocolate bars and a packet of peanuts whilst writing this blog, if I continue like this February will be fat for me, not fruitful!!
baffled (v) puzzled
aptitude (n.) ability or skill
common ground similarities
to take a shot in the dark a complete guess
to put all one’s cards on the table be honest and open
feeble (adj) weak
claustrophobia (n.) fear of being in enclosed spaces
agoraphobia (n.) fear of being in open spaces
with bated breath waiting excitedly
potted history short simplified version
turn of phrase expressions
hand on your heart honestly
pick up learn
alien (adj) strange, unusual
fruitful (adj) productive, successful
horoscope (n.) astrology, zodiac
posted on Friday, 01 February 2008 | comment on this post
The rat answers the pig....
The noise of firecrackers sporadically reverberates around Beijing city; this is just a taster of things to come on February 6th, Chinese New Year's Eve and Chinese New Year’s Day, February 7th. On those days, the firecrackers will be constant and deafening! The whole country is preparing for the biggest holiday of the year, people finishing work, travelling to their hometowns and buying all sorts of foods and gifts for the holiday period. This is a family festival for Chinese people and being at home with their nearest and dearest is the most important aspect of the lunar New Year.
Many foreigners who live here tend to leave the city at this time (to get away from the barrage of firecracker noise!!) and take advantage of the time off work to take a vacation somewhere in south East Asia, in warmer climes. As much as I’d love to jet off to Thailand this holiday, I’m going to be home with my family, spending time catching up with some friends, doing bits and pieces of work, some study and generally chilling out. No fixed plans, just going with the flow.
How was your weekend? What did you do? How do most young people in your town spend their evening and weekends? For me, as I’m home most of the week and weekends, the days seem to blur into each other. This week, I worked on Saturday morning, I'm an English tutor and my student's classes are after school and weekends. The kids I teach are great; they all attend international schools and have good English. They are very hard working, dedicated and well-behaved and crack me up with their comments and stories. They are different nationalities including Korean, Japanese, Hong Kongese and Chinese so the multi-cultured teaching is really interesting for me. I’m lucky to be able to work for home too as that means I get lots of time during the day to spend running around after my baby girl, Teah, and then I’m able to have a break for a couple of hours by doing tutoring.
One good thing about the weekend was that my husband returned home after a two week business trip in the provinces of China. It’s not so much his return that I was happy about(!), just the presents he bought home for Teah and I !! It was just like Christmas when he opened his suitcase and pulled out toys and clothes for Teah and jewellery for me. It’s become somewhat of a family tradition that when he goes away on business travel, he comes home bearing gifts (and a great habit that is too!)Then in the evening we ordered one of my favourite take out foods, Indian. Yes, I’m a typical Brit with my passion for Indian curries especially ones eaten late on Saturday nights with a beer or two. Fortunately for me, being the foodie that I am, Beijing has a plethora of restaurants covering every nation’s food that you can think of. Most restaurants not only have great food but very reasonable prices compared to those in Europe.
Anyway Anastasia, with reference to your last blog, although you gave great information about the length and breadth of Russia and mentioned the size of your hometown, you never explained where exactly the town is located apart from saying Central Russia. How could the readers and I better get a sense of your location when most of us (sorry to those who know more than I!) only know where Moscow and St.Petersburg are situated. You also mentioned that you had been to the UK and that is where you saw those beautiful pigs (I adore piglets!)Additionally I noticed in the comments that Elena from Moscow asked about your UK experience. Next blog , please share details of your travel to the UK, your impressions and what you learned culturally and/or linguistically because I think we’d all be interested in that.
I was amazed to read that you had started your reading in English with Thomas Hardy-what an ambitious and extremely difficult start. Talking about ‘Wuthering Heights’, I can understand where you are coming from when you say that it’s too difficult to read due to the archaic language and expression and there is nothing more tedious than spending more time looking words up in the dictionary than reading and enjoying the book. Did you ever get around to reading it in Russian? I only ask because I know many students of English who, daunted by reading the English version, read the translation and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a particular favourite amongst Chinese students. Now that you are reading modern writers, what are you currently reading? I’m usually reading two or three books at the same time and have just finished a Ray Bradbury novel called ‘Fahrenheit 451’. Have you ever heard of it or read it? I read it many years ago and enjoyed it much more on this re-read. Do you ever read books for a second time or even third time? I think, for students studying English, it’s profitable to read English novels a few times as you absorb more and more language and meaning on every read.
I’m supposed to comment on your language use and writing so that’s what I am going to end with. In general, I want to say that I think your writing style and accuracy are extremely impressive (look at all the positive comments you got from our audience!)There are some small errors but if I were to mention them it would be very nit-picky of me (and even native speakers don’t speak or write perfectly). However, I am going to quote a few things from your blog and I’d like you to tell me why I have brought them to your attention:
‘a rime of frost’
‘that makes me feel shut up in from time to time’
‘There I, an eighteen years old girl, get impressed by my second cousin…’
I’d also like to ask you what exactly you meant when you said that ‘I write it out and use’ when referring to reading modern novels. Do you mean that you write out different parts of the book and use them in your own speaking and writing? Thanks for clarifying!
I must sign off by saying it’s lovely that you are a pig and your year is about to end, it’s fabulous for me that I am a rat and my year is just about to begin…
With very best wishes to you and everyone reading
sporadically (adv) occasionally
taster (n) idea/ sample
nearest and dearest close family
lunar (adj) connected with the moon
barrage(n.) large number of something that is delivered quickly
climes (n) country/climates
going with the flow acting freely and following what happens
crack me up make me laugh a lot
province (n) parts of a country outside the capital
bearing gifts having presents to give somebody
foodie(n) a person very interested in food and eating
plethora (n) quantity greater than what is needed
linguistically (adj) lconcerning language
tedious (adj) very boring
get around to finally do something
daunted (adj) discouraged
nit-picky (adj) focusing on small, unimportant detail
clarify (v) make something clear and easier to understand
posted on Monday, 04 February 2008 | comment on this post
on the ball...
Anastasia, you really are on the ball with the blogs. I can understand that you have plenty of time to dedicate to blogging now that you are temporarily unemployed. Great to hear that you are using the extra time to extend your learning of languages. You gave a very comprehensive history of your home town, what’s it like to live there? Perhaps you could describe the city as it is today, what facilities do you have there, do people live in houses or apartments and how do people get around? I’d like to have a mental picture of where you live as I’m sure it’s very different from places I have lived in.
I had to smile when I saw the photo of you in your ‘winter’ coat and your comment about Greens! Many Russians living in Beijing wear fur coats and this shocked me at first but I guess it’s the norm in Russia to do so. Although you looked as snug as a bug in it, fur coats are very controversial as I’m sure you know but different cultures have very different perspectives on it.
I’m in the middle of a busy day and have been rushing here and there to finish off work before the hols start. I’m an IELTS examiner, not sure if you are familiar with that exam but I had to mark exam papers today, then to tutor some Japanese students and finally another class from my home. Now my husband and daughter have gone to the pub to meet some friends there and left me at home to get some peace and quiet in order to write this blog. The great thing about today had been that travelling around the city is super fast due to the fact that most people are off work and at home. So the streets are roads are relatively empty compared to the usual mayhem and my travel time today halved as a consequence.
Thanks everyone for the replies to my blogs so far.Adriana from Brazil, James (Zhih-Cheng Wu) from Taiwan, Pary from Iran, Abida from Islamabad, Pakistan, Paulraj from India, Leila and Paulray many thanks for your comments.
Naheed I really don’t know whey Brits adore Indian food so much, Indian restaurants can be found over the length and breadth of the UK and are very popular but I can’t put my finger on the reason why!
Hyoshil (chin up, sorry you feel homesick!) and Brian from Taiwan both mentioned the terrible weather conditions that have swept across China over the last week or so, thank you both for your concern and luckily I’m in Beijing which hasn’t been hit by the severe weather conditions. It’s sad to think of all the people waiting at train stations in the freezing cold trying to get back to their hometowns but to no avail. According to the news many people in different provinces will be left without electricity this holiday and in these sub-zero temperatures it doesn’t bear thinking about.
Beatriz from Montevideo, Uruguay regarding the Spanish idiom you told me about, in English we do say “It’s all Chinese to me!” sometimes for things we don’t understand. Brian from Taiwan, well done for using the idioms correctly in your post-that was great and keep at it!
Paco and Kirsti asked me about my use of ‘I ‘, in the last blog, yes where I have used 'I 'in the examples you mentioned, using ‘me’ is also possible. Paco also wondered why I used the phrase ‘take out food’ instead of ‘take away food’; both phrases mean the same Paco, ‘take out’ is a North Americanism. Mixing with so many different nationalities here has meant that I often interchange between British English and some American English unconsciously.
Although I haven’t read ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’, I watched the film which starred Nicholas Cage. I also visited the Greek island where it was filmed, one year after the movie was released. A vast majority of the local Greeks were cast in the movie as extras and nearly every small shop or restaurant had a picture of the owner(s) standing next to Nicolas Cage and the other actors which was pinned proudly to their walls!
Back to books, I have no choice but to read numerous books simultaneously and I’ll tell you why. One book is my reading for pleasure book, usually a modern fiction or classic, the second book is a novel that I am teaching my students and the other book (s) are related to my study that are compulsory reading. I’m in the last year of a Master’s degree in Psychology and the amount of reading I need to do is phenomenal.
The book I just finished ‘Fahrenheit 451’ gives some food for thought. The author says his aim in the novel was to 'prevent the future, not predict it'.I’ll give you a brief synopsis… the protagonist , Guy Montag is a fireman who lives in a society in which books are illegal and his job is not to extinguish fires but to start them; firemen must burn all books and the houses they are found in. Firemen wear the number ‘451’ on their uniforms as this is the temperature at which books burn. This role reversal of firemen is not the only difference between present day society and Montag’s world-his contemporaries live only for light hearted entertainment and pleasure, taking no interest in politics, world issues or even the upbringing of their own children. People in Montag’s society are shallow and spend their time watching TV screens that take up three of the four walls in their living rooms. Out of the blue, Montag meets a young girl, Clarisse whose questions act like a slap in the face for Montag and make him realize that there might be more to life than the electronic entertainment that absorbs the whole society. Clarisse makes him wonder about life beyond the TV screens and causes him to reflect on life and its meaning. Montag’s new found curiosity leads him to take an interest in books, the very thing that he is supposed to burn and destroy, this interest in literature leads him into deep trouble.
I’m not going to divulge any more of the story just in case you ever get to read it. Also one of my pet hates is when people recommend a book or movie to you and spill the beans by telling you the whole story including how it ends! Knowing the ending, for me, ruins the book or the film-what’s your opinion on that?
I think that the strategy you employ when reading to learn new vocabulary is extremely useful and a great tip to share with other learners of English; this technique obviously works very well for you and it’s very diligent and motivated of you to self-study in this way. Can I ask you whether you have a good English language learning environment? Can you watch TV in English, are there other competent speakers of English around you, do you have contact with many native speakers for example?
About one of your native languages, Udmurt, roughly how many speakers of this language are there? What language do you speak at home and in your home town? Is Urmurt mainly spoken in the Republic with everyone able to speak Russian as a kind of second language? Do you think that having knowledge and fluency in your two different Mother tongues had aided you in your study of English; do you think you will acquire Spanish and Italian more quickly as a result?
I’ll use your number references to the corrections you did on your mistakes;
1) ‘rime’ is an extremely archaic word that I have never seen used in contemporary English. The last time I read the word ‘rime’ was in a Coleridge poem called ‘January Frost’, where it is used as a synonym for frost. Therefore you should have just used ‘frost’ in your sentence
2) Yes ‘plane ticket’
3) ‘Isolated’ is a good choice but if you extract ‘up’ from your original sentence it would be correct.
4) The sentence should read ‘There I, an eighteen year old girl, was impressed…..’
Well, I’ll be off now and will leave you with a little picture to say Happy Chinese New Year (xin nian kuai le!!!)
PS I’ll nit pick a few errors in the next blog from you Anastasia! And I’ll be asking more about your wedding plans!
On the ball
to be very alert and aware
(adj) thorough, includes everything
snug as a bug
warm and cosy
(adj) causes public discussion and arguements
(n) chaos and confusion
length and breadth
the whole area
to put one's finger on something/somebody
to identify the exact reason
(adv) two things happening at the same time
(adj) somethng that is necessary and must be done
(adj) remarkable, extraordinary
food for thought
something to think deeply about
(n) a summary of a book, play or film
(n) the main character
(v) put out flames/fire
(v) to make a secret known
spill the beans
to reveal information, especially secret information
(adj) no longer in current use
posted on Wednesday, 06 February 2008 | comment on this post
Hi there! I have a task for you today. I have accumulated all the ‘rat’ related idioms and expressions I know and have made a list of them below. What I challenge you to do is to write a paragraph or two including all the idioms/expressions, making sure that your writing is correct and makes sense. The writing doesn’t have to be related to your blog, you can make up a fictional story if it is easier to incorporate the idioms this way. Have a go, see how you fare!!-
To rat on somebody
The rat race
Like a drowned rat
To smell a rat
To be in a ratty mood
Chinese New Year was mental !!!The fireworks started at about 7pm and continued without letting up until about 3am. It was pure cacophony all night. We took Teah outside so that she could look at the fireworks and there were fireworks going off continually in every direction we could see. Teah ‘ohhed and ahhed’ at every firework shower and shouted ‘flower’ at the patterns in the sky. In her mind, the sky must have been full of pretty flowers instead of firework cascades!!
The next morning, I was rudely awoken by a series of firecrackers going off just outside my balcony window at 7am and when I went outside the streets were totally littered with the red paper casing of the fireworks strewn everywhere. It looked like red confetti covering the whole city. Amid such noise, ironically Beijing is kind of a ghost town in some ways, streets empty, very few cars and taxis, many restaurants and bars closed for a week. For such an over populated city, it’s pretty weird to see it become relatively deserted for a few days.
I read your blog about your time in the UK with interest and feel proud that you liked my country so much because I just love Blighty and all the people who live there. You were there during the floods of ‘summer’ 2007.(it was officially summertime but the weather did not live up to the expectations one has of summer)My home town is not that far from Bristol by car and our county had severe flash flooding, just to give you an idea, I’ve attached some photos.
These pictures show the high street in my town, Droitwich Spa, after one night of torrential rain. As you can see, all the shops are flooded and everything ruined. There was about 15 feet of rain that night. My advice to you Anastasia is never to trust a British summer and always pack your umbrella when you go to the UK (wellies sometimes are handy too!!)British summers, when the sun shines on all that green lush countryside, are totally glorious but last year was a ‘washout’, you hit the nail on the head with your vocabulary choice there!
Perhaps you could just look at the following sentences and tell me how they could be improved (all from the blog ‘A Washout of a Summer’).
1) I was to discover later that it had never been the summer’s plan to stay in the UK for the three month I had been going to spend there.
2) Just to name, in the UK I saw hairs, squirrels (in abundance), foxes, bats, reindeer, seals and rabbits.
3) - so extremely self-conscious I felt!
4) This photo was taken on the Hebridean Isle of North Uist of the western group of Scottish islands, if I am not confusing anything.
And these from ‘Hairy hares’…
5) Haven’t still managed to take advantage of it.
6) I did hear about IELTS, how many are there such centres in China?
7) my advice for you will be to come here in the summer season
8) It’s what buildings look like in the city centre.
I’m off out now to a festival in a park near my home for Chinese New Year, taking my camera so I can show you all what it was like!!
Until next time… have a good weekend one and all
PS Is the guy third from the left(in the photo you posted) your boyfriend?)! Just a wild guess...
accumulate (v) gather together
how you fare make progress
mental (adj.) crazy
cacophany (n) loud, unpleasant mixture of sounds
cascades(n) waterfall, something that falls down like a waterfall
confetti (n) small pieces of coloured paper thrown over bride and groom at a wedding
ghost town deserted place, very few people
Blighty (n) slang word for Britain
torrential (adj) extremely heavy rain
wellies (n) short word for Wellington boots
lush (adj) growing thich and strong
hit the nail on the head express the truth precisely
one and all everyone
posted on Friday, 08 February 2008 | comment on this post
Joyful in the Jing
It’s a bright, sunny day in Beijing today and, although it’s cold, it’s bearable.Nothing like the sunshine to put a smile on my face and a spring in my step. This morning we went to a ‘temple fair’ at Ditan in downtown Beijing (literally a fair inside a temple grounds). It was packed with people lighting incense sticks and making wishes for the New Year by hanging red ornaments on the walls. People were stroking the heads of horse statues to bring them riches this year and buying rat-themed trinkets, bracelets and wall hangings as they are auspicious. All kinds of traditional street food was on sale and there were juggling performances and Chinese puppet shows .This is a picture of the front of the temple, the big pot at the front is for incense sticks
The next photo is of Teah and me in front of the ‘red wall’. You buy the red Chinese knots that have a small wooden square attached. On the wood, you can write your wishes and resolutions
for 2008 and then you tie them to the wall so that the hopes come true. I wished for a huge win on the lottery or a sudden windfall
, do you think I’ll get what I wished for!!! I’ll let you know if my wish is granted…
If you look closely at Teah’s hat and scarf, you will see an emblem in the shape of a shield that gives a clue to one of my biggest passions. The shield has the phrase ‘Prepared’ on it. Also note the colour of the hat and scarf, claret
and blue which is another clue. If you are still not getting it, then I’ll just say they beat Newcastle 4-1 yesterday!! Yes, it’s football and in particular, Aston Villa. Anastasia, as you have visited the UK, you surely cannot have been oblivious to the fact that
Brits are mad about football. Watching it is a national pastime and even though we are always sad when summer is drawing to an end, we are secretly glad too because it means the football season will start again. A love of Aston Villa is a family tradition for me. This stems from the fact that my family lived close to the Aston Villa football ground. Now, my parents have moved a little further afield
but the distance from home to Villa Park is only 28 miles. My Grandad was an avid
fan and we still have the programmes he got from games he visited in the forties kept in pristine
condition, my Mum and Dad are Villains(name for Villa supporters) and this passed on to me and my brother. Now I’m trying to indoctrinate
Teah with the football bug
Are you interested in exercise Anastasia? I have an exercise machine at home called a ‘cross trainer’ or ‘stair master’ which I hop on for about 20 minutes a day. Due to the poor air quality and smog
that hangs over this city, I think it’s better for me to run on a machine indoors than jog outside. Inside the compound I’m living in, there is a clubhouse with a gym, sauna and Olympic sized swimming pool. When spring comes, I’ll buy a membership card and test these facilities out for myself. I’m wondering if Russians are into sports? My husband thinks watching all sports is tedious
the thought of doing any sport or exercise himself but he is only half Russian so might not be representative!!
The weekend is nearly over, I hope you had a good one. The next important day on the calendar this month is the 14th...what do you think your boyfriend has in store for you?!Roses, chocolates, an intimate dinner?Or something more imaginative perhaps..I'll be lucky if my husband even remembers!
Wishing you a sunny, joyful day everyone
PS Did you ever tell me what we have in common, Anastasia?
spring in my step
(n) substance that produces a strong smell when burnt, often used in religious ceremonies
(n) small bits of jewellery with little value
(adj) a promising start, favourable
(n) decisions to do or not to do somethng in the year ahead
(n) unexpected good fortune
(adj) dark red
oblivious to the fact that
unaware or not noticing something
farther away(from home)
(adj) original, unspoilt condition
(v) to teach someone a particular belief
(n) mixture of smoke and fog
(adj) very boring
(v) detest, really hate
posted on Sunday, 10 February 2008 | comment on this post
Less haste, more speed
I’m typing as fast as possible today as I want to get a posting written while Teah naps because when she is awake, I’m running around like a headless chicken and can’t get anywhere near the computer, let alone type a blog! However, as fast as I try to type, the more mistakes I make. I bet you’ve all had the experience of trying to rush something and just making a complete hash of it! I need to pay heed to the old English expression ‘Less haste, more speed’! Who can explain what lesson that is trying to teach us?
First let me say ‘job well done’ to Anastasia for the ‘rat story’ she wrote, all expressions were used perfectly and I was suitably impressed with the tale. I’m thinking of setting more tasks like that as it’s a good way to actively learn, use and therefore remember new vocabulary!
Anastasia, you mentioned the fame of Russian ballet and the history of pavlova and I was glad to see that your knowledge of ballet was a little sketchy because mine is too! In fact, I have only ever seen one ballet and that was in 2004. My husband took me to see ‘Swan Lake’ in a theatre in the centre of Sofia, Bulgaria and that performance was by a Russian ballet troupe. I really enjoyed it and wouldn’t mind seeing more performances if I have the chance in the future. During the same trip to Bulgaria, we also went to watch an opera(also my first time), I have to admit that I wasn’t overly enamoured with the opera I saw but , of course, I will give it a try again one day and see if it can win me over. Perhaps things like opera are an acquired taste and maybe my lack of exposure to opera resulted in me not liking it. Opera is extremely expensive in the UK and so is ballet (especially compared to the cheap tickets we bought in Bulgaria), which is a pity as the cost means lots of people are excluded from such activities; they just can’t afford it
On the topic of expensive UK ticket prices, even going to watch a football match costs an arm and a leg these days. I sent my Dad a couple of tickets for a Villa match on his birthday in November and the total cost was 66 pounds- how does that compare to your country? One of the main complaints about Britain from overseas visitors AND people who live there is the high cost of living. Were you gob smacked at some of the prices Anastasia? I certainly feel the pinch on my pocket when I go back home every summer. It’s much cheaper to stay in China!
On the topic of China, here are a couple more pictures. The first is of a huge old fashioned coin that is placed inside a tent. For good luck at New Year, you have to throw small coins through the centre hole and if you are successful, your year will be prosperous.
This picture shows one of the food stalls at the festival I visited on Saturday. They are barbequing lamb kebabs and cooking a whole cow on a spit in the background.
Moving swiftly on to mentioning all the comments I’ve received.
Antonio from Belgium, Kirsti from France, Irina from Moscow, thanks for your interesting observations, stories and comments.
Sandra Cartaxo – Brazil, welcome, what a good start to commenting on blogs and keep on visiting!!
Ana from Poland, I read about the books you recommended with interest and seems like we share a similar taste in genre
Arghavan from Iran, self study can be profitable if you organize your time and stick to a timetable. Perhaps a text book will help give you guidance about what to learn. Do lots of reading and listening to re-activate the English you learnt before and keep writing comments here for practice. About IELTS, look at the structure of the test on the website and practice your exam skills (working under time constraints
etc) Can you find a person near where you live to practice speaking with?
Abida from Islamabad, Pakistan I’d love to visit Lahore and the places you mention, the temple picture I posted is typical of architecture here and all over China
Paulraj from India, keep on reading, sounds like you are getting more and more competent as a reader so well done.
Abida from Pakistan, great use of language and expressions!
Silwal Kishor from Nepal, congratulations on a great ‘rat’ story (you know that ‘drowned rat' means soaking wet usually used after someone gets caught in heavy rain, don’t you?)
Ana Paula from Brazil, sorry that your comments either haven’t got through or haven’t been answered yet. My masters degree in Psychology is a distance course run by a UK university and I’ll complete it in June 2009. Until then, its lots of hard work, heaps of reading, many essays and the most dreaded thing-regular 3 hour exams. As you can guess I want to change my career and become a psychologist (an educational psychologist as I have a teaching background)
Elena from Moscow, American English seems to be favoured by the Chinese and there are many American textbooks and American English courses here, Chinese students feel it is easier to learn. I used to work in an American international school and all the students used to correct me if I said ‘biscuit’ instead of ‘cookie’ and tell me I was wrong if I said ‘rubbish bin’ instead of ‘garbage can’!!Of course, I am very biased, but I think British English has more beauty and charm!! I also teach some Koreans and Hong Kongese children whose parents want them to speak and learn British English. At the end of the day, as long as people learn and get a grasp of the language and know how to use it, making distinctions between American and British English is arbitrary
Tiasha from Sri Lanka, I love your name. Sorry I haven’t seen any of your comments before. If you can read and understand the BBC website perhaps you are higher level than a beginner?! If you want to start reading story books in English, I suggest looking in the children’s section in the bookshop. Do they have ‘graded readers’ in Sri Lanka in libraries and bookshops? A graded reader means English books re-written in a more simple way for English students, often they are well-known stories too. Don’t try anything too hard or complicated as it will discourage you or put you off reading in English totally!
Now to the sentence corrections…
1) ‘Correct!’ (said in a strict teacher’s voice, my impression of Russian teachers is that they are serious and strict)
2) ‘Just to name a few
, I saw hares
3) I felt extremely self-conscious
- this is an error of style, the sentence you wrote is in the same style as a character called ‘Yoda’ speaks in the ‘Star Wars’ films! Your choice of sentence can be used as a literary device but sound very weird when placed in normal speaking or writing.
4) ‘If I’m not getting (anything) confused’
5) Your correction is OK, as an alternative you could have written ‘I still haven’t managed to take advantage of it’
7) Correct but a more common construction in the context is‘my advice to you would be to come here…
8) As your sentence was referring to the photo of the buildings in your town , the sentence should read ‘This is what the buildings in the city centre looks like’
Isn’t it funny that many of us failed to guess who Alexander was in the picture!! Do you call him ‘Sasha’ or ‘Sasho’ as a nickname
? Many Russian friends here in China are called Alexander but they usually go by those nicknames instead. Maybe you can shed some light on the reason why? Do you have a nickname or shortened name Anastasia? Perhaps people call you ‘Ana’? I use nick names/short names for nearly all of my friends and family, for example I call my Mum ‘Gloworm’ (real name Gloria), and I call my Dad ‘Gazza’ (his name is Garry), my grandparents are ‘the Grimbles’ and many of my friends call me ‘Strudel’.
Anyway Anastasia, look at the following from the last two blogs and see if you can make some improvements. These are from blog ‘Ballet and a Rat Tale’
1) We do have theatres and ballets, it’s fact.
2) Not to the extent where you know all the important names. Here. I have said it.
3) We are all having are nerves on edge at the moment
4) I and my friends went skating today in the afternoon.
5) Then there appear brooks and puddles everywhere.
‘A Villain....’ blog
6) I didn’t risk biking in England as I am a bit scared of riding a bike along a road with the flaw of vehicles
7) So probably my decision was the only right.
I wish you all a great day and will catch up with you later in the week
like a headless chicken
running around fast and madly
to make a hash of something
to do something badly
pay heed to
pay attention to
(adj) lacking detail, incomplete
(n) group of ballerinas
not overly enamoured with something
not very keen on or fond of something
win me over
get my support or favour
an acquired taste
a thing that someone learns to like gradually
to cost an arm and a leg
( verb-slang) extemely surprised or shocked
feel the pinch
suffer from a lack of money
(n) limit or restriction
adj) not based on reason
(n) familiar or funny name given to someone instead of their real name
posted on Tuesday, 12 February 2008 | comment on this post
Roses are red, onions are brown
Happy Valentines Day everyone! What are symbols of love in your country? Red roses, diamond rings, red satin hearts, a box of chocolates? Do you have the tradition of sending Valentines cards (or originally letters) to the one you love on February 14th? I suppose you know that you should never sign your name on the card and the recipient should be left wondering who has a crush on them!
In the UK, Valentine’s Day is often criticised for being too commercial. It’s all about what you buy for someone nowadays, not the real sentiments; that is to say the love has gone and people only care about receiving gifts!! Maybe that’s true but it’s always nice to get a present and a card from your loved one isn’t it? :-) I noticed on Yahoo! yesterday that not only can people send Valentines e –cards but also ‘anti-Valentines’ can be sent? I found that strange!
I thought I would send you a poem in celebration of this day, Anastasia. Let me know what you think of it and what message you think the poet is trying to get across. What do you think of the poet’s use of love symbols and imagery, what do you think her attitude towards her lover is? What gift is she giving and what do you think the reasons are for this choice of gift?
Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy
Before I sign off for today, I’m going to leave you with a few ‘lurve’ (love) related expressions which I hope you can write into another short story. You did the rat tale so well, I’m asking for more as its fun for us all to read. Have a bash at it!
Just of the love of something
A labour of love
Not for love or money
All fair in love and war
There’s no love lost between A and B
To be loved up
I hope you get a nice surprise from your boyfriend today Anastasia and I'm sending lots of virtual flowers and chocolates and red hearts to everyone just to make sure you all have a happy day.
recipient(n) someone who receives something
to have a crush on someone strong liking for someone (usually brief)
commercial (adj) concerned with business and making a profit
grief (n) deep sadness or sorrow
kissogram (n) booking the service of a person(usually a woman) delivering a kiss to a person of your choice
platinum (n) greyish white metal used to make jewellery
lethal (adj) deadly
scent (n) smell
to have a bash at something to have an attempt, to try
posted on Thursday, 14 February 2008 | comment on this post
Call you Nastya from now on, I will
Attention, don't copy the structure of the title in your own speaking or writing for it is just 'Yoda-speak' and a little joke to Anastasia/Nastya/Yoda, any of which we may call her now!
I read the description of Russian food and learnt something new. My knowledge of Russian cuisine is limited to dishes my husband likes and those on the menu at the numerous Russian eating houses here in Beijing. There are a couple called ‘Traktir’, a famous one called ‘The Elephant’ and one near the Russian embassy called ‘White Nights’. My husband, Rossen bought me some pirogi home this week from a restaurant, they were filled with minced beef and were in a broth that had onions, mushrooms and slivers of liver (do you like my mini-alliteration there!). I wonder what ‘saulty soup’ is, is this a typo for salt soup!! Surely not because who would eat soup that is basically brine! I’m sure you’ll clear this up in your reply. I agree that Russian food is not exotic, but it is hearty and heart-warming and is what we call ‘comfort food’. I am not a mad lover of soups in general however for borsch I can make a huge exception as I adore it. Rossen sometimes makes a huge pot of it for us, it takes him 4 hours to make and takes us 4 days to eat as he makes so much of it. For me, it has to have huge dollops of sour cream and copious amounts of dill. Talking soups, have you ever tried Thai soups? They are amazingly good, my all- time favourite being ‘Tom Yum Goong’, it really is a taste sensation. Do you have any foreign restaurants in your city Anastasia? In Beijing there are loads and loads so it’s lucky for people like me who live to eat. By the way, look at this picture of a huge steak I ate on my last visit to the UK. It weighed 32oz and the manager of the pub made a bet with me that I couldn’t manage to clear the plate. I was victorious, to everyone’s surprise I polished it off and I won a free dessert (strawberry cheesecake) that I couldn’t even eat one bite of as I was ready to burst!
I don’t eat this much every day, honest! I just was in the mood for a big slab of cow. I apologise to all the vegetarians out there who might find the picture and the description I just wrote repulsive but ‘each to his own’ as we say in English. Who can tell me what that means?
This week, Rossen went to the Russian embassy to do the paperwork for a new passport. I thrust the camera in his hands as he was walking out the door and gave him strict instructions to come home with pictures of the Embassy for you to have a look at. The picture he took (below) isn’t very inspiring but it is from outside looking at the main gates, the reason the Russian embassy in Beijing is worth mentioning is that it is the biggest embassy (by area) in the world. Don’t say I never teach you anything!! That is your trivial knowledge for today
I loved your love story! Is the tale of Mr. Rabbit and his friends going to become an epic? Have you ever thought of writing children’s books for a living?! I think you have a flair for creative writing. It seems as if you have a penchant for animal stories too. About your corrections, they were all right except 2 and 3, just see below
2) Not to the extent where you know all the important names. There, I have said it (it only required changing ‘here’ to ‘there’, a nit picky error)
3) The construction is to be on the edge of one’s nerves, so your sentence should be ‘we are all on the edge of our nerves at the moment’
How are you spending this weekend? I taught two classes this morning and will go out in the sunshine later on-sorry that you are still under heavy snow. I almost feel guilty when I look at the blue sky and sun outside my window today but it’s still nippy here too. All the talk of food at the beginning of this blog made me peckish but now at the end of the blog, I could eat a horse so I’m signing off for today so I can raid the fridge!! Just to prove that I am not just an eating machine and I take my health, fitness and physique seriously, look at this picture of me training for the Beijing Olympics...
Look how hairy my armpits are!!!
If you are going to describe Russian weddings and related traditions in your next blog, how about sharing the story of how you and Alexander met? Don’t forget to tell us who proposed and how?!
Bye for now
(n) very thin slice
(n) the same sound or letter at the beginning of two or more words together
(n) salty water
(adj) large and filling
(n) a lump of soft food
copious amounts of something
lots and lots
(adj) the winner, triumphant
polished it off
finished it all up
ready to burst
too full after overeating
slab of cow
a huge beef steak
(n) a long story with heroic deeds and exciting adventures
have a flair for
natural ability to do something well
(n) a special liking for something
(adj) chilly, a bit cold
(adj) a bit hungry
to eat a horse
eat a lot
raid the fridge
find things to eat from the fridge
(n) appearance and size of the body
posted on Saturday, 16 February 2008 | comment on this post
When reading or studying, I sometimes come across a word that I don’t know or have never even seen before. Of course, I look it up in a dictionary so that I understand what it means and so that I’ll remember for next time I come across the same word. Today I read a fabulous sounding word which is ‘echolalia’!! It’s my word of the day and means 'the exact repetition of others’ speech'.
Well we are in mid February now; Chinese New Year and Valentines Day are over so what is there to look forward to now? It’s all a bit flat with no holidays or special days on the horizon until Mothers day in March and then Easter. Are there any holidays or celebrations coming up in Russia Nastya? On Thursday, it’s my Nan’s 85th birthday. I’m just deciding what to send her for her birthday; I usually order something for her online and get it delivered. I have to rack my brains this year to think what present she would like, what do you need or want when you are 85? That’s a ripe old age isn’t it; hope I make it that far! I’ll write more about my Nan on her birthday later in the week. Do you have grandparents Anastasia? You haven’t mentioned much about your family so far.
Whilst crawling around Beijing in a taxi over the weekend (traffic jams and congestion everywhere again), I precariously hung out of the window to take a couple of photos to show you all the developments taking place here. Even though the Olympics is very close and starts in August, the city is still half building site. Construction is taking place everywhere and it’s been like this for years.
Old buildings have been razed to the ground of late to make room for new super-buildings and skyscrapers. The face of Beijing had changed dramatically and is still changing. There are some really unusual, amazing and beautifully designed buildings around and everything is on a grand-scale. The phrase ‘concrete jungle' is apt when talking about this city.
Although progress and development are good, I often reminisce
about the sights and sounds of Beijing when I first arrived in 1997. It had a much stronger ‘Chinese’ ambiance
back then and a lot more character; there was something interesting on every street corner. Although it’s more foreigner-friendly, modern and similar to other Asian capitals now, I feel it has lost some of its charm
. I’m not so excited to see the spread of Starbucks and McDonalds across the city and the gleaming,
up-market shopping malls selling Gucci and Prada as these things seem so bland.
It was Beijing’s uniqueness that I used to love. On the flip side
, many people prefer the modernised Beijing so it’s all a matter of taste I guess.
Anastasia, the Yamal peninsula where you worked, looks like my idea of hell! Bitterly cold, snow everywhere and totally isolated, that description sends a shiver down my spine! That kind of place would be a total culture shock for me and having no shopping possibilities whatsoever is unimaginable for a shopaholic
like me! I think the seclusion and quiet would be nice for a week or two but after that I would go stir crazy!!
That’s all folks! (for today)
PS. So glad we discovered that we are both hairy armpit girls!
a bit flat
not very exciting
on the horizon
coming in the future
rack my brains
think really hard
(n) full, overcrowded with traffic
(adv) unsteady, unsafely
(v) completely destroyed
(v) suitable, fitting
(v) recall past experience and events with pleasure
to lose its charm
to lose the interesting features and attractive qualities
on the flip side
on the other hand
(n) someone who really loves shopping and goes often
posted on Monday, 18 February 2008 | comment on this post
Birthdays and weddings
Am I right in guessing your computer is fixed and fully functioning now? It’s only when computers break down that you realise how important they are to your life…how did we live without them!
Today is Lantern Festival in China and officially the last day of the Chinese new Year; it's also my Nan's 85th and another of my friend's birthday.
By 10am UK time today, my Nan should have received the card I sent her through the post and a delivery of all her favourite, luxury food stuffs that I ordered online to be delivered to her door. I sent her a huge chocolate cake, pork pie, scones and clotted cream, chocolate coated marzipan etc as they are things she loves and doesn’t often buy for herself. The gift was following my Mum’s advice and Mum’s are always right!
Here is a picture of my Nan with Teah; it was taken last summer when I was visiting the UK.
Now onto Anastasia’s wedding plans…yes I think a hair pin is fine for the ‘something borrowed ‘bit and I’m sure we’d all love to help choose your wedding invitations but do you trust our opinions?!
I absolutely love St. Michael’s Cathedral, it is so dramatic, imposing
. How lucky you are to be getting married there! I’m sure it will be a ‘fairy-tale ‘wedding in such a location, it is the kind of place that I imagine the rich and famous, celebrities to get married in (is there something you are not telling us?!)Do many people get married there? Did you have to book the cathedral many, many months in advance? How many guests will be invited to the church ceremony? And the reception?
In keeping with the theme of the blogs, I’ve decided to tell you briefly about my wedding day. I got married in China and my and my husband’s immediate family
came over for the wedding. Even though neither of us are religious, we got married in a church(one of the very few in Beijing)I followed the ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ tradition, wore a very simple ivory dress but in general we didn’t want the pomp
and ceremony or the formality of dress that traditional weddings have. The only people to attend the church ceremony were our families. Here is a picture of my Dad walking me down the aisle to ‘give me away’.
This was taken in the church grounds after the wedding ceremony. From left to right in the picture Jamie, my brother, my Dad, my Mum, me, Rossen, Rossen’s Mum (carrying my bouquet, she wanted to look like a bride too!), Rossen’s Dad who appears to be having forty winks
and his brother, Victor.
The reception was the really fun and unusual part of the day but I’m going to keep you on a knife’s edge
and tell you about that another time!
Thanks for all your comments, please forgive me if I don’t reply to all the comments every week.
The meaning of ‘each to his own’ was guessed correctly by Hyoshil and Ana Paula; it means everyone has their own ideas and opinions
Kuldeep, thanks for the jokes and the information. Hope your daughter is happy and is learning English well.
Paco, so you are looking forward to a holiday next week on the 28th. How do people spend this day usually?
Marianna thanks for the comments. Teah can’t draw yet, she can only scribble at the moment. I could post some drawings of my own on the blog though. My artistic skills are so bad you might think my pictures were drawn by a child!
Kristina thanks for the info. Of course, I know echolalia refer to autism as I’m studying child development. The point I was trying to make to all readers was that native speakers come across new words all the time and we should look them up in a dictionary and remember them, just as students of English should do;-). I also think it is a very nice word to say as it just rolls off the tongue.
Adek to understand a woman is a contradiction in terms
Abida, if I had a penny for all the students who had asked me a quick way to learn phrasal verbs, I’d be a rich woman. Unfortunately, phrasal verbs are one of those things that just mean hard slog
and difficult study. I don’t know a fast way to learn them especially as they often have multiple meanings and sometimes a literal and metaphorical meaning too. Reading helps in understanding how they are used and experience of the language teaches you more and more. Can anyone else offer any suggestions for learning phrasal verbs for Abida? Anastasia how did you get your head around phrasal verbs
Learning new vocabulary, I can share some of the methods I suggest to students and the feedback has been that the method is useful. Remember different methods work for different people.A simple method is to write the new vocabulary word on a small slip of paper. Also write what kind of word it is (n., adj., adv., v., prep.), write the meaning (using English if possible or accompanied by a translation) and also write a simple sentence using that word. When you have about 10-15 slips of paper, put them in an envelope and carry the envelope around with you all day in your bag or pocket. Whenever you have 5 minutes free time, go through and read each the piece of paper one by one and do it as many times per day as possible. When you really know a word, you can leave that piece of paper at home for future review and put a new word into your envelope.
A similar technique can be employed using cue cards in a small box at home, read the first card in your box then put it to the back , keep going through the words until you know them. If you are using cue cards remember that colours (using different coloured pens or coloured cards) and pictures aid your memory too.
Thus far my week has been pretty ordinary, Nastya but tonight I’m going out with 4 friends for a birthday bash
. We are going to do something ‘posh’
, dress up, go to a five star hotel in downtown Beijing and eat Italian buffet dinner and drink free-flow wine that is included too. I’ll try and remember to take my camera and get some pictures of us all. I have the rest of the day to wonder (as typically women do) ‘what shall I wear?’ and to conclude ‘I have nothing to wear’!!!
Bye for now and have a great day
PS I'm struggling to find anything but minor and infrequent errors in your blogs Anastasia. I think I may have to set you another challenge soon to keep you on your toes!
everything working as it should be
(adj) impressive and grand appearance
(adj) a feeling of respect and wonder mixed together
(n) big ceremony or impressive display
to have forty winks
a have a short nap/sleep
to keep someone on a knife's edge
to keep someone in suspense
to roll off the tongue
nice sound and easy to say
a contradiction in terms
statement containng two words which contradict each other's meaning
to get your head around something
to understand something
(adj) luxurious, upper-class
posted on Thursday, 21 February 2008 | comment on this post
The Russian Goldilocks
Guess what? I forgot to take my camera to the birthday bash so I’ll just have to continue the wedding story …my wedding reception was held in the Fragrant Hills which are in the suburbs of Beijing. Even though the English name refers to them as ‘hills’ they are really mountains. In the valley there, we found a 1000- year old Buddhist temple called ‘Wo Fo Si’ and in the vast grounds of this temple was a small hotel built in traditional Chinese style. The hotel’s architectural style is called ‘si he yuan’which means built in a square with all the rooms facing into an open air courtyard area in the middle of the square. We hired the whole place for the evening and booked all the rooms so that all our guests could stay overnight with us.
We hired buses to take everyone from the city to the venue and we had long tables put in the courtyard. The food was a huge BBQ with salads and pasta dishes too and the chef was cooking meat all night. We provided all kinds of drinks to suit everyone tastes and it was quite multi-cultural as we had guests from the UK, Russia, Bulgaria, Japan, Serbia, Poland and Sri Lanka. For entertainment, we booked a band who performed outside in the courtyard and then various friends of mine, played guitar, sang, played the flute etc as extra entertainment when the band had finished. The highlight of the night was a friend of mine called Baz. He did some juggling, then juggling with fire-sticks and ended by doing fire-eating and flame blowing. Very impressive and great fun, by the end of the night everyone was very drunk, full to the brim and very happy.
I have to mention a couple of my husband’s Russian friends Anastasia because of their behaviour at my wedding reception. One of them drank so much vodka that he forgot where he was, then decided he didn’t want to stay overnight and started to walk back to Beijing city(at least a 30 km walk!). Apparently he hitch-hiked back home after he got so tired of walking and the next morning couldn’t understand why and how he was home! The other friend drank so much vodka that he went to bed at about 7pm and crashed out. However, in his drunken stupor, he went into the wrong room and slept in the wrong bed! To cut a long story short, when my Mum entered her hotel room at 1am, she found a huge Russian guy snoring in her bed!! A strange twist to the ‘Goldilocks and the Three bears’ story don’t you think! (The bears find Goldilocks sleeping in their bed)
Our wedding reception was videoed but oddly we never took many photos. The photos that I have of the night are all in the UK so I can’t post any here which is a pity as there is one superb shot of Baz breathing fire with all the guests looking at him aghast.
We didn’t have a honeymoon because of several reasons, first our parents were in China with us so we wanted to stay with them, my husband couldn’t get much time off work and actually we couldn’t afford it after paying for the wedding. Are you going on a honeymoon after your wedding Nastya?
As phrasal verbs have been a topic this week, I want to set you a task which involves some common and useful phrasal /multi-word verbs. See if you can write a story, part or a whole blog that uses the following (some of them you must use the idiomatic meaning, not literal meaning to make it harder!)
Bring up (please use this twice as it has a few meanings)
Get over (use idiomatic meaning)
Go through (use idiomatic meaning not literal)
Make it up
Pick up (idiomatic, not literal)
Put up with
Be taken aback
Run out of
Take off (idiomatic, not literal)
I’m off now but before I go here is photo of me this morning, as you can see I was pretty busy.
Enjoy the weekend everyone, have a rest, put your feet up and relax!
suburbs(n) area outside the central part of a city
venue(n) place where a meeting/party/match etc is held
juggling (n) throwing balls or other objects into the air, keeping them in the air at the same time and catching them
full to the brim very full after eating
hitch-hike (v) get a free ride in a stranger's car
crash out (v) sleep anywhere when very tired
drunken stupor nearly unconscious or in a daze because of drinking alcohol
to cut a long story short to give the information in short without all the details; briefly
aghast (adj) filled with amazement
posted on Friday, 22 February 2008 | comment on this post
Got to grit my teeth
Spring is just around the corner here and a couple of warmer days last week indicated as much. Whilst spring symbolises daffodils in bloom, lambing, returning to greenery all around and general growth and liveliness in the UK, in Beijing it indicates something less pleasant. Beijingers have to get to grips with grit. To explain, spring is the annual sandstorm season and this entails a few months of dust, dirt and grit blowing around the city. On the worst sandstorm days, conditions are downright appalling because the sky turns a browny orange as it’s laden with sand and it’s impossible to breathe or even open your eyes properly. People either take cover until the storm passes; wrap chiffon scarves around their faces like full face turbans or wear face masks.
I read over the weekend that this year will be especially grim according to Beijing Meteorological Station because the winter was comparatively warm and there was little rainfall in the desert areas surrounding the capital. It’s predicted that we have approximately 11 days of dust storms ahead of us(and I bet this is a conservative estimate as we always get more bad weather than the weather office predict!). It feels like winter has dragged on for months but excitement for the arrival of spring is tainted by the knowledge that I’ll be eating mouthfuls of grit and blowing sand out of my nose.
Look at this picture of a sandstorm in 2007. Wish you were here?!
Ok that is my moan for the day over, just had to get it off my chest
! Hope Nastaya is well and working hard, toiling
away at my phrasal verb challenge;-) You said you opened a Facebook account, my friends have been crazy about Facebook for months and I wonder of anyone who works in an office in the UK ever does any work anymore-they all spend all day on Facebook!! It’s pretty useful for posting pictures and videos and quickly getting in touch with friends I must admit but some people find it as addictive and time-consuming as computer games. Beware Anastasia; don’t let yourself be sucked into the world of Facebook!!! (I think it’s great for nosy people like me to look at friend’s profiles and photos though!)
I liked the picture of St. Basil’s Cathedral. Is it possible to get married there?! Who designed it? I ask because I vaguely
remember being told a gruesome
story about the architect of that place. I don’t know if this story is correct but hopefully Nastya can verify if it’s right. I was told that the Queen or King of England asked the architect of St. Basil’s to go over to London to design and build a similar structure there. Whilst on the boat on the way to Great Britain, the crew who were following Ivan the Terrible’s orders pulled out the architect’s eyes and blinded him so that he wouldn’t be able to work again and no country (especially not Britain) would be able to have any building quite like St. Basil’s.
Waiting to see the invitations tomorrow, I bet everyone will have different opinions as ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. Does anyone have a similar expression in their language? If Alex has a job in London, what does that mean for you? Will you be moving there with him? Where and for how long? Tell us about Alex’s job and your plans for the future…Perhaps you are unemployed now as you are planning the patter of tiny feet
by the end of the year: 0
As a final note for today, here is an extract
from your horoscope for the Rat year Nastya, I read it in a magazine here yesterday and it seems quite apt for you (the pig)
‘Congratulations, as a pig this year you are endowed with the best love luck of all the twelve zodiac signs. Expect opportunities to blossom, since you’ll suddenly find yourself being perceived as more attractive and welcomed into the lives of others like never before. It’s time to start a serious relationship…’
sending you a big gritty grin :-))
PS Do you know what the title means? It's a 'grit' related idiom that fits with my topic today.
To get to grips with something
to deal with a problem or challenge
(n) small bits of stone or sand
(adj) really bad
full of/ loaded with
(adj) very unpleasant
(adj) scientific forecasting of weather
a cautious/moderate guess often under the real number
To get something off one’s chest
to say something you have wanted to say
(v) working really hard
(adj) horrific, frightful
The patter of tiny feet
referring to the sound of a baby you might have in the future
n) a small part of a longer article or piece of writing
posted on Monday, 25 February 2008 | comment on this post
Babies, bags and bedtime
I was amused to see that you took the bait, Nastya!! I merely made a passing reference to babies and you leapt upon the topic and expanded upon it!! I’m sure that in your true style you are keeping us in suspense for now but you will open up and answer the baby question, answer all the Alex questions, the moving to the UK questions and disclose many more fascinating facts about yourself on the final blog day.
I’m surrounded by pregnant women at the moment, Nastya, five of my close friends are at different stages of pregnancy right now and actually three of them will deliver in August this year!! You are right that babies come in all shapes and sizes, different personalities and guises and new parents are often stressed out and sleep deprived BUT … it’s so worth all the angst and worry and bags under the eyes (It’s a cliché but any parent will tell you that!)
By the way, did you know that I have two babies? One is an angel and full of sweetness and light and the other one is a problem child, a real handful. Do you know which one is which? Here is a photo of my two bubbas.
What happened to the invitations that we were supposed to help you choose?!! Some delay? Will we get to see the choices do you think because we have only two days left!
Further to your request, here are more (difficult?) phrasal / multi word verbs for you to include in the blog;
To talk someone out of
To cut back on
Eaten something up (e.g. The wedding has eaten all my money up)
To take to someone
Take in (e.g. The conman completely took me in)
Bring on (e.g. The pollen brought on my hay fever)
Do out of (e.g. My brother did me out of my rightful inheritance)
Do away with
Set aside (idiomatic)
Put on (e.g. I am good at putting on a Russian accent)
To put someone down (idiomatic)
Ana Paula was right when she said to grit one's teeth means to face a difficult challenge or problem and ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ means that everyone’s idea of what constitutes beauty is very different so well done Beatriz.
Pary, I didn’t know that you had kind of sandstorms in Iran. I must confess that I know very little about Iran in general.
Kuldeep, I sympathize with the hot temperatures and the sand and dust storms you described. Sounds as grim as some days here ;(
For Stephen Keller and others who like to hear information about the ‘Middle Kingdom’, here is another little ‘China fix’ for this blog, although I’m afraid to say it’s another negative aspect (but there is hope!)China is extremely polluted as I’m sure most of you well know. The worst pollution to live with, in my opinion, is air pollution and anyone who lives in a thriving city or metropolis will understand what I’m saying. Another form of pollution, that I hadn’t really thought about or seen evidence of until I lived in China, is ‘white pollution’. This refers to the unsightly and widespread pollution that is caused by plastic bags and disposable tableware (including foam take away food boxes and similar containers). Lots of river banks, open grassy areas, streets and living areas are littered with white pollution here.
A few stores have just implemented measures to help this problem, they make customers buy cloth re-usable bags and don’t give free plastic bags any more. This is a great idea as long as you remember to take your cloth bag with you on every shopping trip. Companies like IKEA only provide big, super-thick, re-usable plastic bags now and they charge for them. The Chinese government are jumping on the bandwagon as they have declared an outright ban on providing free plastic bags in supermarkets and are banning any further production of super-thin bags. This is progressive action to combat this type of pollution isn’t it? But what about the foam food boxes…maybe they are still trying to figure that problem out. Do you have any problems like this where you live Anastasia? Is re-using and re-cycling a primary concern to Russian people and your government? From your descriptions of your hometown, I imagine that it is pretty much pollution- free and relatively clean and tidy, am I far from the truth?
Got to rush off now, Teah has just gone to sleep for the night so it’s my time to do things. I want to phone my Mum in the UK, I have to prepare dinner and also read 3 chapters of my child development text book before collapsing exhausted into bed. No rest for the wicked…
Have a good evening and get a good nights sleep
to take the bait to accept something that was offered to get you to do something
open up to talk in a free and honest way
disclose (v) reveal
guises (n) Outward appearance or aspect
sleep-deprived (adj) not having enough sleep
angst (n) anxiety or apprehension
cliche (n) overused expression or idea
a real handful child that is difficult to control or handle
metropolis (n) a major city
unsightly (adj) ugly or unattractive
to jump on the bandwagon to become involved in an activity which is successful so that you can get the advantages of it yourself
outright (adj) completely, entire
progressive (adj) progress toward better conditions or new policies, ideas, or methods
primary (adj) high importance
posted on Wednesday, 27 February 2008 | comment on this post
Nastya gets the last word
Today is the last day of the February blog and Anastasia is unlucky as she got a short month but lucky because she got a leap year thus one more blog day. I’ve been checking all day for your final post Nastya so that I can comment on it but alas none appeared (up till now) therefore I am denied the last word. Teacher’s, like parents, always want the last word but I’ll hand it over to the student today.
It’s been ‘hot’ here and sunny, 14 degrees today. I’ve been putting hats, scarves and gloves away and dropping off winter coats at the dry cleaners ready to pack them away for next winter. Maybe I’m being a bit premature but I really hate winter clothes, boots, thermals etc and just want to get out my summer wardrobe. I took Teah to playgroup this morning which she thoroughly enjoyed and this afternoon, I’ve been doing some work at home. Tonight, I was going to have a friend coming over for dinner and the odd glass of wine but she cancelled. That means I have to drink the wine myself :-) My weekend plans are half work and half play (with Teah of course).
I liked the wedding invitation, it’s original and quirky. You are right that you look better then Alex but his head isn’t that big in the picture!! Regarding your wedding, I want to send you best wishes, hope you have the kind of wedding day that you’ll remember forever and have a long and happy life together.
Good luck in your language studies in the future and wish you every success in the future. It’s been a pleasure blogging with you. I’ve been extremely impressed by your command of the English language and you should be very proud of yourself for achieving such a high level. My husband is not a native English speaker and was only 60% understandable in English when I firstmet him. Now (10 years later) everyone comments on how fluent and ‘natural’ his English is (apart from the Eastern European accent!) I’d like to hear you speak to see how your pronunciation is, by the way!! However (this is a secret between you and me), your vocabulary range and language usage in general is better than his. Does that mean you are a great student, I am a poor teacher or my husband is a poor student?!!
That’s all folks (for today), best wishes to you Anastasia, in all you do.
alas Used to express sorrow, regret, grief, compassion, or apprehension of danger or evil.
the last word the final comment
hand something over pass something to someone
premature (adj) unexpectedly early
original (adj) fresh and unusual
quirky (adj) very different, unusual
posted on Friday, 29 February 2008 | comment on this post