Thursday, 17 March 2011


Hi everybody!  It's  been a long time. How are you all?  What have you been up to? Has this been filling your thoughts and your time? Or do you like to get away from the crowds? 

The weather wasn't too good this year - again ;)  Did it spoil it for you?  We were amazed watching the hail fall on the Avenida about an hour before the parade was about to start. (Our living room window looks out over the street)  There were so many carnival- goers hiding in doorways and trying to keep dry.  And not looking at all happy. But then it cleared up almost immediately, with blue skies and floods of crowds lining the streets.  The kids loved it, throwing confetti (the little bits of paper) and trying to catch streamers (the long, thin spirals of paper). But the highlight, the best part, for me is the chirigotas (how would you explain that in English?!).  Even after five years of following carnival in Cádiz I still find it really, really difficult to understand what they're saying.  I love to follow them and listen to them two or three times, understanding a little bit more each time. 

Anyway, that's my take on Carnaval. What's yours?  Have you got any stories to share?  Or any photos?  I'd love to see your side of carnaval.

And to finish off, here's a message from Paco (thanks for sharing!) :

I suppose you know that this Saturday is the biggest tide in Cádiz for many years. You can see from La Caleta The Roman Ruins. These are always below the water or you can go to Sancti-Petri beach and see the Roman road.  Low tide is at 8:45.

Really looking forward to hearing from you all again soon!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Food memories

Hi everybody,
Here's our first post for February. And once again, a big thank you to Mercedes for writing the last post in January.

Over the last couple of days I've been involved in a couple of conversations about food. We've been talking about favourite food and memorable meals. I always have the same problem when someone asks me what my favourite is. It doesn't matter if it's my favourite book, my favourite colour, my favourite film, my favourite song, I can never think of an answer. It's as if the fact of having to choose one out of so many possibilities just makes my mind go blank! So, when one of the kids asked me what my favourite food was I couldn't think of any one kind of food, but I did start to remember so many memorable meals. Memorable often because of where I ate them as much as the food itself.

This is one of the meals I remember. I don't have a photo of the food, but I do have a photo of the place. You'll recognise it no doubt if you're a local. If you're a visitor, please read on to find out more.

We were there last weekend.  It was such a beautiful day, and everything looked so green and fresh. In case you don't recognise it, it's Bolonia, and the photo is taken from the car park outside the visitor's centre at the Roman ruins.  But the meal I remember eating at Bolonia was much longer ago.

If you look very carefully at the left hand side of the photo, more or less at the same height as the beach, you'll see a collection of low buildings. These are beach restaurants. They were closed when we were there last weekend, but during the summer they're usually full, and they're a great place to sit and watch the sun go down.  And that's what we were doing one evening a couple of summers ago.  We'd been on the beach most of the afternoon and the sun was going down. We had the choice of driving home or eating at the beach. It was such a beautiful time of day that we decided to stay.  Just in front of one of the restaurants there's a little garden, and in front of the garden a green, grassy bank that leads down to the beach.  We, the adults, sat at a table in the garden, and the kids played on the grass.  It was beautifully quiet and peaceful. We could see the lights coming on in Morocco across the straits. There was a cool breeze blowing (as there always is in Bolonia).

We ordered grilled cuttlefish.  Very plain, very simple, served with a bit of salad and bread.  I don't know if it was just the magic of the moment, but that cuttlefish tasted like the best thing I'd ever eaten. It was so fresh, done just right and it melted in our mouths.  I can taste it now as I type, and feel the warmth of the sun from the day on the beach, and the cool breeze on my skin.  What a great place. What a great meal. What a great memory. 

So, over to you. Do you have any memorable meals to share with us?  I'd love to hear your stories.  And if you haven't got time to write a story, no problem, but I'd love it if you could leave a short comment.  :-)

Thank you!
Speak soon,

Sunday, 30 January 2011

What leads to success?

Everyone wants to be successful. But, have you ever wondered what it is the leads to success?
Watch this enthusiastic and funny speech.

Are you agree with the speaker?
Do you think his 8 points are the way to get successful?

This video raises some doubts:
-Are people born with some innate talent or can they be developed by practising?
-The speaker thinks that passion is an important factor for success. But is there a method to help people find their greatest passion?
-And what if you are not good enough no matter how hard you try?
-He doesn’t mention luck. But is luck, one thing that you can't really control, important to success?
-He spent ten years researching success and asking over 500 successful people in many fields what helped them succeed. But won't be interesting to ask other 500 unsuccessful people about their failure?

Any way, great talk. I hope the speaker's enthusiasm will inspire you.

If you want to carry on listening and reading about this topic go to:
Better at English

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Fun Theory

Hi, here's the blog task for this week.  It's another youtube clip (I'm glad you enjoyed last week's by the way). This time I got the link from a colleague in Japan (thank you Barbara Sakamoto).   It's about an experiment that took place in Stockholm.

Watch the clip and answer these questions.

1 What exactly did the experiment consist of?
2 What did they want to do?
3 Did they succeed?

I'd love to hear what you think of the experiment. Would you have taken the stairs that day? Do you think when the stairs returned to normal people just went back to using the escalator? Please write and let me know!

I'd like you to think about this question too if you've got time:

Can you think of any boring jobs or activities that could be made more interesting and motivating using the Fun Theory approach? I'm going to think about it - and I'll write my answer in the comments this time next week. You might want time to think about it too. If you do, why not leave me a quick comment now and then come back later with any extra ideas?

Thanks for calling by again (welcome if it's your first visit). Please leave a comment, no matter how short or long, we're looking forward to reading what you've got to say!

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A touch of nostalgia

Hi everybody, here's a quick writing task to start the week - sorry I missed the Monday deadline.  It starts with a short youtube clip my kids were watching with their dad this weekend.  We loved it and the kids did too - they thought it was hilarious and were quoting if afterwards for hours, though I don't really know why it appealed to them - it's definitely aimed more at my age group!

Anyway, here it is.  I hope you like it. Please let me know which definition - or definitions - you like best and why, and how many of the objects you have seen or used in the past. Once you've had a chance to see it I'll let you know my favourite, but I don't want to spoil the surprise so I'll say nothing for the moment.  Ah yes, the clip's actually in French with English subtitles, so you get two languages for the price of one ;) (the task is in writing the responses more than in reading the subtitles ). I don't know why, but I love the clip all the more because it's in French.

Looking forward to reading your responses!
Bye for now,

Monday, 10 January 2011

A holiday photo diary

Hi everybody! How are you? I hope you had a great holiday.
We got back from ours on Jan 5 - just in time to see the Kings' Procession driving past our flat. The kids were SO pleased we made it back in time!

I've just been downloading our photos from the holiday and I wanted to share a couple with you and find out what you've been up to over the last couple of weeks. It seems like such a long time!

We stayed in Cádiz for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for the first time. And it was great. We had lunch with friends on the 25th and then we went to the ice-skating rink in Plaza San Antonio. Such a great idea (though I'm not so sure about the environmental impact). This is me and the kids hugging the rails at the side of the rink (none of us are expert skaters!)

We flew to the UK on Boxing Day (Dec 26). It had been REALLY cold in the few weeks leading up to Christmas.  Friends and family had been telling us stories of temperatures of -12º in the middle of the day in West Wales! But luckily when we arrived it had started to get warmer.  It was 0º when we landed in Leeds and there was still snow on the ground. Not much, but enough to look pretty.  On our first day in snowed all morning, we had snowball fights and we walked through snowy woods to a pub on the other side of the valley.  When we walked back it was dark - and just a little bit spooky.

 We spent four days in Yorkshire and then we drove to my mother's house in Wales. She lives on the coast and we always go for a walk on the beach with my brother and his family.  He told us stories of the snow covering the beach and the river at the end of his garden freezing over.  I've only ever seen that once in my life, in 1981, when the harbour frooze and I watched the waves washing the snow away on the beach.  There was no snow when we were there, but it was still very, very cold.  Anna whispered sadly into my coat  "I want to go home" "To your grandma's house?" I said. "No, to Cádiz!"

It was great to see everyone and we had a great time, but we were so pleased when we drove over the bridge back into Cádiz.  On the morning of the 6th, after the kids had exicitedly unwrapped their presents from the Kings, we packed a picnic lunch and went down onto our beach, where the sun was shining on the silver waves.  It was so good to be home :) 

So, what did you get up to? I'd love to hear your holiday stories, or see your photos. Fernando, did you organise another zambombá?  Paco, did you go surfing?  Isabel, how's your new home in Cuidad Real? Mercedes, I know you've been blogging, but what else have you been up to?  Montse, how's your new job?  and the online masters course?  Have you got time for it all??  Jaime, are you still following us?  What's it like to be back?  I'd love to hear more of your stories about Philadelphia.

Use the comments, or add a new post, whatever suits you best. I'll be back again next week with another class blog, and in the meantime I'll be keeping a close eye on my email inbox!

And if you're following us from somewhere else, please drop us a line and let us know what the holidays meant for you. 

Speak soon and a happy new year to all of you!  

Friday, 31 December 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Get More Exercise

With a New Year on the horizon, many English and American people make resolutions or promises to improve their lives.

Here you are a list of the most common New Year's Resolutions:

-Lose weight

-Eat healthier foods

-Get more exercise

-Give up smoking or drinking

-Spend more time with family & friends

-Learn something new

-Help others

-Save money

-Get more organised

English and American people are crazy about New Year's Resolutions, there are many websites, videos, songs,... related to them and at the end of the year the newspapers publish reports about people's resolutions, advice about how to keep them and so on.
how many really follow their resolutions?

Have you made any New Year's resolutions yet?
Good luck with your year's resolutions!

More vocabulary about this topic on BBC 6 Minute English