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About Christmas. Part 1.

Christmas Wish List.

Such Wish Lists include things that people, mostly kids and teenagers, would like to get as presents on Christmas. Those Wish Lists can be completed long before the holidays. Making such lists is an attempt to systematize and organize the process of giving presents desirable and useful. Very often while shopping, parents in response to their children’s request to buy something say: “Put it on your Christmas Wish List!” After such a Wish List is finalized, the family and friends decide on who will buy what.

The Words That Make The English

TimesOnline has an extract from a new book, Jolly Wicked, Actually, which shows how words reveal national character. The words featured in the extract include actually, yob, oik, fusspot, grotty and crumpet. Here's part of the entry for crumpet:

The noun crumpet was first recorded in 1694, perhaps from earlier “crompid (crimped or curled) cake”. It was slang for the head from the late 19th century to the 1940s. For an attractive female or females collectively the usage may be ancient, but its first written attestation is from 1936, evoking not so much the sweetness or the challenging acidity of the tart as the comforting combination of soft, hot — and presumably buttered (“buttered bun” was Victorian slang for a prostitute). To push analogies further, the female object of English male desire is everyday, bland, inexpensive, supremely unpretentious.

1. If you've never eaten a  toasted crumpet with melting butter, you're missing a treat. And  this crumpet is quite tasty too.
2. Wikipedia has an interesting entry on the expression ' thinking man's crumpet'.

10 August 2009

Working in London

For many reasons, the “Job quest” is the most difficult task to achieve in London, and the most important, too, for many reasons. First of all, working in London is an incredibly good experience. You will discover lots of new people, and new working methods. The second thing is about money. Staying in London is expensive, and working is the only solution if you want to enjoy the life there. And then, this is useful to validate your “Stage FH”.

Getting a job will probably not be an easy thing. In fact,

  • You are French, and French people aren’t English’s best friends,
  • In general, you speak basic English,
  • You’re coming from nowhere (yes, for an English, France is nowhere), and you have no job references,
  • You’re staying in London during only three months,
  • You can’t work one day per week, due to lessons at UCL,
  • And, worst of all, you have no experience or qualification.

For an employer, you are all but the ideal applicant. If another guy applies to the same offer, he will probably get the job.

Obviously, your only strength is French speaking. There are about 600.000 French people in London, so speaking French is a good quality. So, if you want a cool office work, look for jobs which require to speak French. But this is certain that this kind of work will not help to improve your English. If you want to do so (and this is by far the best solution), you will probably get one of these jobs :

  • Waiter
  • Cook
  • Cleaner
  • Barman
  • Cashier
  • Or just… Slave !

Or, if you’re lucky, maybe you will be sales assistant in computer shops or boutiques.

22 June 2009

What you'll have to know about London

Geography alt


The United Kingdom is an island located north of France, and inhabited by strange people : the British... oh, you already know that ? OK, so let's be a little more specific, we will focus on London.

London has 7,172,000 inhabitants, who live in some 1579 km². This is one of the biggest European cities in terms of population, with Paris, Moscow and Istanbul. But in fact it isn't really a city but a metropolitan area called Greater London (like the "Région Parisienne" in France). The Greater London administrative area comprises the City of London and 32 London boroughs (equivalent to French "cantons").

The London that most tourists see is Central London, which comprises the historic City of London, the West End, the City of Westminster, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which are the richest areas of London. In contrast, the East End has played host to successive waves of immigrants for centuries and contains some of the UK's most deprived areas.


That's the hard point. London's weather is nearly the same as Brittany or Normandy. Very cloudy, there is often rain and always wind. September is usually sunny, with temperatures about 15-20°C. But the remaining months are colder, with temperatures from 12-15° in October to 0-5° in December. In fact, the main problem is the wind, which cools you down a lot. Don't forget your warm clothes !

TemperaturesinLondon RaininLondon

The other issue is about rain : sometimes it's raining permanently during one week. You'll probably need a good umbrella (and a strong one, British wind is definitely an umbrella killer) and waterproof shoes.


London and the whole UK are under GMT time, and British have summer time like us. In fact, when it's 12:00 in Paris, it's always 11:00 in London, no matter of the summer time. That's easy, isn't it ?

Nonetheless, you will be hit by a small detail. Due to the timeshift and the latitude, the sunset comes very early : in December, the night falls by about 4:00 PM !

Now that you know in what you will put your toes into, let's have a look at formalities and things to prepare before you leave.

The London Survival Guide

13 June 2009

A tourist's guide to London

Tip #1: Be good on the Tube.

It's quite simple, really. Keep those suitcases reined in, rehash last night's romantic endeavors in the privacy of your hotel, and stand on the right of the escalators when you move through a station. And keep an eye on construction projects: That pesky Victoria Line has been causing travel problems all summer.

Tip #2: Embrace traditional foods.
You might want to treat your taste buds to Lancaster hotpot, bangers and mash or…toad-in-the-hole? Welcome to Pub Menu 101. The aforementioned hotpot is a meat and vegetable casserole topped with sliced potatoes, and bangers (however saucily named) are sausages that go with mash(ed potatoes). As for the toad concoction, prepare your taste buds for battered and roasted sausages. If none of that sounds good, head to Brick Lane for a great curry.

30 May 2009

What is it like to be a young person in the United States?

At 18 years of age, young people in the United States can take on most of the rights and the responsibilities of adulthood. Before this occurs, however, the American teenager (a common name for a young person between the ages of 13 and 19), goes through the period of adolescence. Psychologists (specialists who study the science of human behavior) say that most young people experience conflict during this period of their lives. They are changing rapidly, both physically and emotionally and they are searching for self-identity. As they are growing up and becoming more independent, teenagers sometimes develop different values from those held by their parents. American teenagers begin to be influenced by the values expressed by their friends, the media (newspapers, television, magazines, etc.) and teachers. During this period of their lives, young people also begin to participate in social activities such as sporting events and church group projects, as well to do more things in the company of members of the opposite sex and fewer things in the company of their families.

While the teenage years for most American young people are nearly free of serious conflict, all youths face a certain number of problems. Some young people have difficulties in their relationships with their parents or problems at school which may lead to use of alcohol or drugs, the refusal to attend school or even to running away from home. In extreme cases, some might turn to crime and become juvenile delinquents (a lawbreaker under 18).

However, for every teenager experiencing such problems many more are making positive, important contributions to their communities, schools and society. Millions of young people in the United States are preparing for the future in exciting ways. Many teenagers are studying for college entrance exams or working at part-time jobs after school and on the weekends. Others are volunteering at hospitals, helping the handicapped, exhibiting projects at science fairs or programming computers.

29 April 2009

Longest place name in US spelt wrongly

The longest place name in the United States, Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, has been spelt incorrectly for years, local officials have discovered. The lake in Webster, Massachusetts - known as Webster Lake for short - was always going to be a challenge for sign writers.

23 April 2009

Saint Patrick's Day

Today (March 17th) is  Saint Patrick's Day. Here are some helpful resources:

History.com: history, videos, quizzes, recipes. Great site.
Heads Up English St. Patrick's Day Lesson (with listening comprehension)
Language Lab text completion lesson
How St Patrick's Day Works: origins, history
BBC Northern Ireland: games, recipes, facts, history
BBC Northern Ireland interactive book
St. Patrick's Day ESL Resources: vocabulary, listening, lesson plans, etc.
Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day

My Trip to the UK

Hot bath is good. Hot bath is just chife! My legs forget three days of uninterrupted running across Great Britain, while I recall Edinburgh, London and Durham cathedral where I was standing in a robe, like Harry Potter.

MBA Procession

22 January 2009

UK Trip - Day One Birmingham

I took a trip to England in the early part of January. For whatever reason, I edited on my Mac and they were perfectly clear, but when I transferred to my PC (where the internet connection is) they came up darker.  But anyway...

I was intrigued by the stone arches, which were like overpasses with other streets and whatnot. 

20 January 2009
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