Are you a fashionista? Some fashion vocabulary in English

BLOG_FashionistaI don’t know about you but I am not one to follow fashion slavishly (also known as fashion slaves). I am no fashionista. However, I do like to dress well.

When I worked in finance I had to dress in business suits whether it was a tailored jacket and trousers or tailored jacket and skirt. I preferred trouser suits as I felt more comfortable wearing them. I spent a lot of money buying my suits and blouses or shirts that would match my suits. I also had to think of all the accessories that would go with the clothes – like what shoes to wear, handbags to carry and sometimes, the right belt that would match the trousers.

As far as shoes were concerned, when I was younger I chose some high-heeled or stiletto heels that were really uncomfortable to wear especially after a day standing in them. However,for the sake being fashionable I had no choice but to wear them!
Now that I am a few years older and wiser, you wouldn’t see me dead in a pair of stiletto shoes. You’re more likely to see me in a pair of trainers or Birkenstocks!

As an English teacher who works predominantly from home, I have become extremely lazy with my clothes. I spend most of my days in leggings, joggers, jeans and casual shirts and sweat tops. I will accessorise my clothes with some jewellery, mainly costume jewellery, though. I don’t want you to get the idea that I am a complete fashion disaster!

So no surprise then that I don’t follow the latest trends in the fashion world. Fashion magazines bore me. Consequently, I was unaware that we were in the middle of Fashion Week here in London until yesterday. In fact today is the last day of London Fashion Week. It started last Friday 12 September. It didn’t, however, stop me from thinking that the event was a great trigger to write a post about fashion vocabulary.

There is a proverb in English: “Great minds think alike” and that is exactly what I thought when I saw this infographic created by Kaplan to celebrate London Fashion Week. I had to share it with you here. You can see more of the post on the Kaplan website.

fashion vocabularyKaplan International English

Entitled “Describe your style in English”, the infographic gives some vocabulary on the different clothes and accessories people wear. I have to say that I’ve discovered some new styles from reading this infographic, especially concerning glasses (or spectacles).

Kaplan have shared the vocabulary from these ‘destination style icons’ namely,speaking the UK, Ireland, Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand. The styles originated from these countries and have now become a part of everyday fashion. Do you wear any of the items shown?

How would you describe your style? Are you a fashionista?

I hope you liked this post. If you did please share it. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out on my posts.

Ciao for now


Key to the colours
The expressions in blue relate to fashion vocabulary and the phrases in pink are expressions and collocations you can use anytime. The expressions in orange are idiomatic or slang expressions with, in some cases, a link to explain what they mean.

English Collocations Series: Words that collocate with “Conversation”

BLOG_Collocations ImageIn language there are words that go naturally together. For example, in English we “make a cake”, “do business”, “take a photo”, “have a drink”.  In another language, the verb that goes with those nouns could be different. For instance, in Italian we say “take a drink”, “make business”, “make a photo”. If you were to literally translate the expression from Italian to English, it would sound strange to a native speaker.

This is called “collocation”. The Cambridge Dictionary describes collocation as:
a word or phrase that is often used with another word or phrase, in a way that sounds correct to people who have spoken the language all their lives, but might not be expected from the meaning
So, in one of the examples above “take a drink” would not sound as natural as “have a drink”. 

Together- not on their own.

Together- not on their own.

80% of  language learning is vocabulary. All my clients tell me that they want to widen their vocabulary. When I ask them how they intend to do that, they don’t always know. Some say that they make a list of all the words they discover. When I ask them to then create a sentence with the words they’ve learned, they often don’t know what to do. And that’s the problem.
Words on their own are meaningless. You need to know how to use them in a sentence and in the right context. And for that you need to know what words go naturally together. That’s why collocation is important.

Unfortunately for learners, there are no rules that can be studied when it comes to collocations. The only thing you can do is to practise using the expressions as much as you can. That could be done through reading, listening, speaking and writing. The more you use the expressions, the more natural they will become to use.

I, like many of my colleagues, spend a lot of time teaching collocations and that’s why I thought I’d start a new series entitled “English Collocations”. I plan to select one word (normally a noun) and give examples of verbs and adjectives that naturally collocate with it. I will then show how to use those expressions in example sentences.

BLOG_Collo_FluencyMCFor those of you who follow my Facebook page, you will have noticed that I occasionally share content from a page called English Collocations for IELTS. The person who manages the page, Younes Hatami, has created a number of posts where he selects a word (typically a noun) and shows what verbs, phrasal verbs and adjectives collocate with it. There are also other people who share excellent content, for example, Jason R Levine aka Fluency MC. He has some great posters that he often shares on his Facebook page.

I’d like to share some of this excellent content here on my blog. I’m going to start the series off with the word “conversation”. I’ve used the post created by Younes and given you 10 example sentences using the verbs and phrasal verbs below. I will also include some of the adjectives and add a few of my own.



1. Tom and James fell into a serious conversation about what would be the right step to take for the business.

2. They always get into an animated conversation when it involves football.

3. She is very good at striking up a conversation with strangers at parties.

4. I found them deep in conversation, so I left them to it.

5. After an hour of idle chat, she finally managed to bring the conversation around to serious matters.


6. We often find ourselves drifting into a conversation about our respective children.

7. As the conversation was getting very heated, I needed to steer it to a safer, less contentious subject.

8. Jack is very good at engaging his clients in a stimulating conversation.

9. I found the conversation on the traffic so boring that I tried to move it on to something more interesting like the weather!

10. I don’t mind small talk, but I can’t bear it when the conversation becomes so one-sided that it stops being a conversation and becomes a monologue!

Can you think of other words that collocate with “conversation” that you’ve used and would like to share?

Also, please do let me know if you think this series on English Collocations is something you’d like me to continue and any words you’d like me to explore. I’d love to hear from you.

I want to thank Younes Hatami for giving me this idea and for producing great content, not to mention all the other creative EFL teachers like my friend and colleague, Jason R Levine.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out on my posts.

Ciao for now


Let’s talk fitness – the vocabulary of health and fitness

BLOG_FitnessAs many of you will know, I went to Rome last week for 5 days. During those five days we must have walked for miles and miles (well, it certainly seemed like it). I wish I’d brought my pedometer so that I could have calculated the number of steps I’d taken and the calories burned. Alas, I didn’t so I could only guess. The guessing game was great as I could delude myself that I had burned more calories than I probably had while sinking my teeth into yet another delicious slice of pizza!

Now that I’m back and autumn beckons I have decided that I would like to work on and improve my fitness levels. I was never a sporty child or teenager. I’m afraid the lure of books was always far too strong. And anyway, I was never interested in team sports like netball, volleyball. I played squash and tried tennis, but again racquet sports were not something I particularly enjoyed. I have always preferred individual sports like running, walking and keep fit.

BLOG_Fitness 3


As an adult I got into fitness through aerobics in my early 20s and ever since then, I have been fairly consistent with getting and staying fit. However, like a lot of people my weight has fluctuated over the years. There were times when I put on weight and went up a few dress sizes and then the opposite happened and I lost weight and dropped down a couple of sizes.

Nearly thirty years on (I can’t believe I just wrote that!), I’m very conscious that the older we get the more work we have to put into staying fit and maintaining a healthy weight. Most of us lead sedentary lives and it can be a real challenge to stay fit and healthy let alone try and lose weight.

CET_CheekyI remember, a few years ago, I had a personal trainer who told me that if I wanted to lose weight I would have to halve my food portions. I was shocked.

I really thought that that would be impossible to achieve as I was worried I might get hungry. He said that that would not happen as I had enough fat in my body to sustain those hunger pangs! Cheeky monkey!


However, he was right. The less food I ate and the more exercise I did, the weight inevitably fell off. It is simple maths, isn’t it? If we consume fewer calories than we burn, we will lose weight. There is no need to go on a diet or follow all those fad diets that, as far as I am concerned, make me obsess over food the moment I’m on one of them.

My job entails a lot of sitting around. I also work from home which means that I don’t even have the excuse of running to catch the train. It is, therefore, very important that I get some exercise during the day and week.

BLOG_Fitness 2We have a cross-trainer in our garage and I also enjoy running (actually it’s more jogging!). I alternate between the two forms of exercise so that I don’t get bored. The longest distance I’ve run has been 11km. I am not a fast runner but speed is not important for me. I am more interested in getting some exercise that will help boost my energy levels. I do enjoy my runs. I plug in my music, switch on my running app and off I go. I like the way the running app records my running sessions. It allows me to observe my progress or in some cases, lack of progress!

Teaching can be an exhausting activity and the only way I can sustain my energy levels is by doing some exercise. I have to admit that occasionally the sheer thought of going for a run, even for 5km, sounds very unattractive. However, as you have probably experienced, you always feel so much better after an exercise session.

So far this week I have run just over 5km and had a 45-minute session on the cross-trainer. I intend to work hard on my fitness so that by the time Christmas comes, I can go mad!

What do you do to keep fit and stay healthy?

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out on my posts.

Ciao for now


Key to the colours
The expressions in blue relate to health and fitness vocabulary and the phrases in pink are expressions and collocations you can use anytime. The expressions in orange are idiomatic or slang expressions with, in some cases, a link to explain what they mean.

12 English Idioms with the word “Head” that you can use everyday.

BLOG_Head_in the cloudsIt’s time for some more idioms and I’d like to dedicate this post to some common expressions we use with the word “head”. They are, in fact, idioms that are used very often in both spoken and written English.

I. I always keep my head.
Meaning: I never lose control of my emotions.

2. It never entered my head.
Meaning: I never even thought about it.

3. I brought matters to a head.
Meaning: I made sure something had to be decided.

4. My head is in the clouds.
Meaning: I’m not a practically minded person.

"That's the new chap who said he could do the job standing on his head."5. I can’t make head nor tail of this.
Meaning: I don’t understand it at all.

6. I’m in way over my head.
Meaning: I’m involved so far that it’s out of my control.

7. I could do it standing on my head.
Meaning: I find it really easy.

8. The fame has completely gone to my head.
Meaning: I’ve let my feelings get out of control.


9. He’s off his head.
Meaning: He’s gone mad or he is completely drunk (depending on the context)


10. She likes to keep her head down.
Meaning: She avoids attracting attention.

11. They’re still scratching their heads over the results.
Meaning: They’re finding it hard to understand the results.

12. That joke just went over my head.
Meaning: I didn’t understand the joke.


There are plenty more expressions with ‘head’. Why don’t you share some here with me?

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out on my posts.

Ciao for now


September is for City Breaks – let’s explore some vocabulary

BLOG_City BreaksI must, first of all, apologise for my silence last week. I had a particularly heavy teaching schedule that left me with hardly any time to think let alone write a post. Unlike many people, August is always a very busy teaching month for me. I always get fully booked with my full immersion intensive courses as many dedicated people use their holiday to attend an English Language course in London. I take my hat off to them for their commitment. Although August is busy, I find it very enjoyable and rewarding. This year was no exception. I met and taught some lovely clients in August. Thank you to Andrea, Renata, Franco and Clara.

When September arrives and most people are preparing themselves for the return to work and the start of a new academic year, I go on holiday. By the way, last year I wrote a blog post about what the start of the month of September means to both children and adults in terms of starting school and returning to work.

This year my husband and I have booked to go on a 5-day city break to Rome. We leave tomorrow at the ungodly hour of 4am. We’ve decided to drive to the airport and use the airport car parking facilities. I checked online to compare the prices between booking a taxi and using the airport parking and found the latter to be cheaper. So, the alarm will be set for 3am and we will make our way to the airport at 4am in time for our check-in at 4:50am. I might have to supply my husband with some strong Espresso (coffee) to keep him awake!

We arrive in Rome at 10:20am. We have to catch the shuttle service from the airport to Rome’s main train station. From there, it’s a short taxi ride (or walk) to the hotel. Providing we’re not too exhausted, we plan to get our walking shoes on and head off out to explore this gorgeous city as soon as we have checked in and unpacked our bag.

BLOG_City Breaks_the touristI’m really looking forward to showing my husband around city. He has never been to Rome.

I don’t know about you, but what I love most about city breaks is walking around the city, taking in the sights, watching the people go about their business, taking lots of photos and sampling the local food. If there are local markets, I will make a beeline for them. I particularly like arts and crafts markets.


I am not terribly fond of visiting museums, especially if I am on a short city break. I’d much rather walk around and see the buildings from the outside. Of course, I will make an exception this time as I must visit the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.

BLOG_City break_are we lost?We’ve downloaded a map of Rome. There is a great app (application) called Ulmon CityMaps2Go that my client, Sabrina introduced us to. It’s fantastic.

It gives you some super tips and it’s so easy to use. Armed with this map, each evening we will plan the following day’s itinerary while enjoying a glass of prosecco and watching the sunset! Bliss.

We plan to visit the main tourist attractions. We shall set out early in the morning with comfortable walking shoes, a ruck sack or travel bag, a bottle of water and our map. We may take a city bus tour to give us a general idea of the whole city and the main landmarks. I like those bus tours that allow you to hop on and hop off. I did that once in Barcelona and find it an excellent way of visiting the city particularly for those who are on a short city break, for example 2 or 3-day break. It saves on all that walking.

La Bella Roma Photo by Lazy Desperados

La Bella Roma
Photo by Lazy Desperados

My husband will want to stop at a few bars to sample the beers along the way. He says that these stops are for medicinal purposes and to re-charge the batteries! Yeah right! I’m looking forward to tasting some fabulous Italian food. We like to try out different restaurants that are off the beaten track and not so well known to the tourists. My husband says that as I am half-Italian and speak the language fluently, we should have no problem finding some excellent restaurants. I’m flattered by his confidence.

I haven’t been to Rome since 2002 and I’m really looking forward to seeing what changes the city has undergone in the last 12 years.

What do you like to do when you’re on a city break?

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out on my posts.

Ciao for now


Key to the colours
The expressions in blue relate to city break vocabulary and the phrases in pink are expressions you can use anytime. The expressions in orange are idiomatic expressions with a link to explain what they mean.

Presentation Skills: 8 Survival Tactics To Use When Things Go Wrong During Your Presentation in English

BLOG_when things go wrongIn my last post on presentation skills, I shared 25 expressions that you could have as a bank of useful phrases to “pull out” as and when they were needed. As promised in that post, I’d like to share some survival tactics you can use for when that horrible moment when things go wrong.

In Mark Powell’s excellent resource book, Presenting in English, he says that:


“Giving a presentation in a foreign language is a challenge. Concentrate too hard on the facts and you make language mistakes. Concentrate too hard on your English and you get your facts wrong.”

Does that sound familiar?  Let’s face it, when we start panicking we stop thinking in English and slip back into our native language and then it’s a real struggle to get back on track. So what can you do to handle those moments when it looks like everything is going wrong and you start to panic?

Blog_don't panicMark says not to panic. Pause. Sort out the problem and continue. Easier said than done, I hear you say. I agree but I think the key here is to pause, take a deep breath and start again.

Mark gives 8 of the most common problems people face and shows how you can deal with them.


The headline I give you is what you’re THINKING and the answer is what you can SAY to get out of the problem.

1. I’ve got my facts wrong!

  • Sorry, what I meant is this ……….”


2. Too fast! Go back.

  • So, let’s just recap on that.


3. I’ve forgotten to say something!

  • Sorry, I should just mention one thing.


4. Too complicated! Make it simple.

  • So, basically what I’m saying is this ……


5. I’m talking nonsense!

  • Sorry, perhaps I didn’t make myself clear.


6. How do you say this in English?

  • Sorry, what’s the word/expression I’m looking for? (the audience is always willing to help)


7. Wrong! Try again.

  • Let me rephrase that.

8. I’m running out of time!

  • So, just to give you the main points here.


If you learn these expressions by heart, you will be able to get out of a difficult situation automatically and, therefore, confidently.

I always say to my clients that if you have to give presentations in English, you MUST take the time to practise the presentation out loud using some of the expressions here and in my previous post. The more you practise these expressions together with your presentation, the more confident you will feel.

I hope you find these expressions helpful. Good luck with your next presentation. Let me know how it goes.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out on my posts.

Ciao for now


Source: Unit 1.6 p18 Presenting in English, Mark Powell (2002) Heinle , Cengage Learning


English Grammar Pill: How to use “unless”?

Grammar OwlA fellow teacher asked me a few weeks ago if I had written anything about the use of the conjunction “unless”, and if I hadn’t, would I be prepared to write something about it? Not one to refuse a challenge, I thought to myself: “Why not?”

Well, it took me longer than I thought to get round to researching this pesky grammar word and when I finally got down to working on it, I realised why I had delayed the process.

There are certain grammar rules and parts of speech that are used naturally and without thinking by native speakers all their lives until that moment when someone asks them how a certain word or expression is used and everything falls apart!
You begin to wonder whether you have grasped your native language at all. That moment came last night when I was trying to think of how I could explain the use of “unless” in a way that sounded clear to me let alone to anyone else.

I decided to give it a go and I sincerely hope that my explanation makes sense. So, here goes.


As mentioned above, unless is a conjunction which we use in conditional phrases. In written English, the clause that follows unless is the subordinate clause (SC) meaning that it needs a main clause (MC) to make a complete sentence. It is similar to how we use if in conditional phrases.

When unless comes before a main clause we use a comma:

  • Unless it rains, we’ll go for a picnic tomorrow.
        (SC)                      (MC)

When the main clause comes first, no comma is required:

  • They won’t come unless you invite them.
         (MC)                          (SC)

Unless is like If in that we don’t not use will/would after it. We only use the present simple tense.

  • Unless I hear from you, I’ll see you at 5pm.



Unless and if not

Ok, so unless is similar to “if …..not” and together they mean “except if”. Note: We refer to real conditional situations and NOT impossible situations.


  • If you don’t study, you will fail your exam./ Unless you study, you will fail.
  • We could eat at Frankie and Benny’s if they’re not closed on a Monday/ We could eat at Frankie and Benny’s unless they are closed on a Monday.
  • I’ll make dinner if nobody wants to/ I’ll make dinner unless someone else wants to.
  • If you don’t stop smoking, you will feel bad/ Unless you stop smoking, you will feel bad

that the sentence after unless is always a positive sentence. You cannot have a negative sentence after unless because that would make the sentence a double negative and senseless.

Example: Unless you don’t study, you will fail(????)

***Warning: Typical Error

We don’t use unless when we mean if.

Example: If you feel ill, I can drive/ Unless you feel ill, I can drive

Spoken English

When speaking, we use unless to introduce an extra thought or piece of information:

  • He didn’t even know about the crash – unless he’d heard about it on the radio.


  • A: Oh look. Neil next door’s got a new car.
    B: Unless they’ve got a visitor.


From Dr Seuss.

From Dr Seuss.


Not unless
is similar to only if

  • “Shall I tell Liz what happened? Not unless she asks you (= only if she asks you)
  • Will you come shopping with me? Not unless you offer me lunch (= only if you offer me lunch)

So there you have it.
 I want to thank my fellow teacher, Tim Harrell for prompting me to write this post. I hope I was able to make sense of this rather awkward grammar point. Please let me know if there is anything else you’d like me to cover and I will do my best to research and write about it.


I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out on my posts.


Ciao for now


Cambridge Dictionaries Online
Longman Dictionary of English
English Grammar in Use (Intermediate) Raymond Murphy

Presentation Skills: 25 Useful Expressions you can use to make your Presentations in English flow

BLOG_Presentation 1In the last two weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of hosting and teaching a most delightful Swiss German client who is here on a two-week intensive Business English course. Andrea’s main objective during these two weeks has been to work on her presentation skills as her job now requires her to give more and more presentations in English.

So we’ve spent the last two weeks working on such things as signposting language (for example, “to move on”; “to recap”; “to summarise”; “to turn to” and so on); presentation structure; using visuals and using the voice to make an impact (for example, pauses, sentence stress and intonation).

One of the other things we’ve also worked on is creating a bank of common expressions that Andrea can learn in advance and use in any of her presentations. You can reduce the amount of thinking you have to do in a presentation by learning these expressions. Simple verbs like “make”, “take”, “give” and “do” form the basis of many of these expressions.

In this post I’d like to share 25 common expressions. The expressions are split into the four verb groups and I’ve highlighted the expression and given you an example of how to use it in a sentence.

1. We’ve made significant improvements to our invoicing system.

2. This is an area where we’re finally starting to make real progress.

3. We’ve made a major breakthrough in AIDS research.

4. Together we can make a real difference to the way people shop.

5. I’d like to make a distinction here between what I call innovative and imitative research.

6. We want our clients to make the most of the facilities we can offer them.

7. After years of research into the technology, the company is finally making an impact on the sector.

8. There’s an important point that needs to be made here.

9. They’ve really made a mess of the ordering system.

10. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome you all to Infosystems.

11. It’s vitally important that we take action against illegal drug sales.

12. I’d like to take a few minutes to talk you through last quarter’s figures.

13. Of course, it’s the innovative companies that consistently take the lead in cancer research that will benefit from this.

14. It’s all too easy to think that research is all about taking initiatives.

15. Sometimes companies need to take a chance and try something new.

16. The illegal copies of DVDs have really taken a bite out of our profits.

BLOG_Presentation 2

17. I’ll begin by giving you an overview of the history of our company.

18. Before I start, I’d like to give you the background to the work we’ve been doing in the last year.

19. This graph will give you an idea of how far we’ve come in the last few years.

20. I don’t want to give you the impression that it’s all doom and gloom.

21. I could give you hundreds of examples of where this system has worked.

22. We’re extremely proud of the research our R & D team have done.

23. They have been doing some excellent work on the prototype.

24. We recently did a survey and the results were astonishing.

25. You can often do more damage to company profits by expanding too quickly.


I hope you find this bank of expressions helpful. Next time, I will share some survival tactics that you can use when presenting in English.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out on my posts.


Ciao for now


Source: Presenting in English, Mark Powell (2002) Heinle Cengage Learning

Off on a weekend bike ride? Let’s talk cycling vocabulary.

BLOG_Cycling imageMy husband goes cycling every weekend. Sometimes he goes with a friend and sometimes he goes on his own. I have noticed more and more people cycling on our roads in the last few years. Many people cycle to work and others cycle competitively or for leisure. There has also been an increase in the number of cycling clubs in our area.

This weekend London has hosted a RideLondon bike race that has seen thousands of people taking part in the bike race.

Inspired by this event, I decided to interview my husband about his journey into cycling and what it is he especially loves about the sport. I’d like to share this interview with you here.

When did you start cycling?
I took up cycling three years ago at the age of 52 as a way to lose weight and get fit. When I was a teenager, I used to cycle around my neighbourhood and really enjoyed it. However, I stopped cycling and over the years I developed severe knee problems so much so that I had two operations on both knees. I really didn’t think I would be able to cycle again.

Cycling in London

Cycling in London

So what made the difference?
An electric bike. I was advised by my personal trainer to get an electric bike. The bike is pedal assist which means that it helps you tackle difficult hills without your own power. With an electric bike, you pedal normally and when you have too much of an ascent, you can engage the pedal assist and it boosts your pedalling power.

For me it was wonderful as it took the pressure off my knees and I was able to cycle again.

The electric bike has a battery at the back which is very heavy. You need take into account the battery life as the last thing you want is to be miles away from home, run out of battery and have to pedal back an extremely heavy bike. They are normally 15kg heavier than a regular bike!

Wow! That is heavy! How long was it before you moved from the electric bike to a ‘normal’ bike?
After about 18 to 20 months. I had built enough muscles in my knees and felt strong enough to move to a fast road bike which is the bike below the racing bike.

Could you tell me what are the different bikes on the road?
There are the road bicycles that are used everyday on paved roads, the mountain bikes are used for on and off road cycling and can handle rough terrain.
There is the fast road bike which is what I have. The wheels of a fast road bike are slightly thicker than a racing bike that you would see on the Tour de France, and because they are wider the bike would go at a slower speed than a racing bike, say around 15 miles per hour (24 km per hour) slower which is quite significant.

You don’t realise how significant the speed is until you are cycling flat out with your fast road bike and you see the racing bikes whizzing past you at speed, you realise how fast their bikes can go.



What equipment do you need on your cycle rides in terms of clothing and accessories?
You must wear a helmet. It’s essential. I would also recommend wearing protective racing glasses or goggles. The glasses will protect your eyes from insects such as wasps and bees. It would be extremely dangerous if a wasp or bee stung you so glasses are vital.

Protective gloves are important as well. If you are unfortunate enough to come off your bike, the chances are that you will fall on your hands as they will try to break your fall. Landing on your palms will cause the skin to tear so wearing protective gloves with padding over the palm would be advisable.

In terms of clothing, I wear lycra shorts with padding that will give me some cushion on the saddle of the bike. I wear a jersey that has three pockets on the back which you can use to keep your phone, keys and puncture equipment and a new inner tube.

You need to take your pump in case of a puncture and last but not least, you must have back and front lights. Regardless of whether it is day or night, you should always have your lights on and preferably red and flashing so that you are visible to motorists. You should also wear brightly-coloured clothing.

Thank you for these tips. Now to the most important question. What do you love most about cycling?
I have quite a stressful job in a tough industry, but when I get on to my bike and head off I leave all that stress behind.

I feel free and relaxed. The tension goes from my shoulders and neck and even though I need to be vigilant on the roads avoiding potholes, other objects on the road and approaching vehicles I am still able to daydream about all sorts of things.

The other thing I absolutely love is discovering for the first the most incredible things along roads that I’ve driven on for years but failed to notice when I was in a car. Suddenly, on my bicycle I actually notice things that I never knew were there like beautiful houses, majestic trees, breathtaking views and lush fields.

BLOG_cycling in the countryside

Photo: Roughguides

I once came across a deer on a quiet country road. It was eating grass in a field. It didn’t hear me as I was on my bicycle. Had I been in my car it would have heard the engine and run off. Instead, I was able to get quite close to it before it realised I was there and ran off. You get to see rabbits, foxes, pheasants and other wildlife. You’re not a car and therefore not a threat to them.

I sometimes go cycling with a friend and the company is great as we have chats and catch up on each other’s news. We also help each other by encouraging each other especially on the difficult climbs. Sometimes it’s good to have some company but it’s also good to be on one’s own as it allows you to be with your own thoughts.

After the cycle, you feel exhausted but very good. I have an app that I use to record my times and distances. After each cycle ride, I check my app and look back at what I’ve done and it gives me a great feeling of satisfaction and achievement.

What has cycling given you?
It has given me good health; made me look and feel younger; allowed me to develop a deeper appreciation and love of the countryside and it has helped me to relax.

What is next on your cycling journey?
I’d like to do the London to Brighton bike ride which is a 54 mile (87 km) ride next year. Hopefully, if I train well I can cycle there and back in the day!

That would be wonderful. Good luck with that and thank you very much for talking to me.

Happy cycling!

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Ciao for now



10 Quotes by Rudyard Kipling, the author of the Jungle Book

BLOG_Kipling_The Jungle BookThis year is the centenary of the First World War (1914 – 1918) and throughout the year, there are different events being organised around the UK to commemorate one of the deadliest conflicts in history.

The BBC has put together a number of documentaries, TV and radio dramas around what is also known as the Great War. Tomorrow (4 August) marks the day Great Britain declared war on Germany.

So, you may ask what has Rudyard Kipling got to do with the First World War? Apart from being one of the most popular writers in England in the late 19th century and 20th century in both prose and poetry, he was also a staunch supporter of the British Empire. Indeed, in the 21st century he is considered the authentic voice of the life and character of the British Empire.

When Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, he played a fundamental role in gathering support for the war effort and encouraging young men to join the military. So entrenched was his belief in the war and Britain’s role in it, he sent his own son who had extremely bad eyesight to war with tragic consequences. It was watching the film about his son, “My Boy Jack” last week that got me thinking of Rudyard Kipling and his literary legacy.

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

Born and brought up in India, most of Rudyard Kipling’s stories were about British soldiers in India.

His most famous works include, The Jungle Book, the story of a boy, Mowgli, who was raised by a pack of wolves in India; Kim about an orphaned Irish boy living in India and the Just So stories, a collection of fantastic stories for children. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.

In today’s post, I’d like to remember Rudyard Kipling through his literature. I’d like to share with you 10 of his quotes that resonate with me. They appeared in his literary works and speeches.

1. “There is no sin so great as ignorance. Remember this.” (Kim)

2. “Asia is not going to be civilised after the methods of the West. There is too much Asia and she is too old.” 

3. “He travels the fastest who travels alone.” 

4. “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” 

5. “I always prefer to believe the best of everybody; it saves so much trouble”

BLOG_Kipling_Just So Stories

6. “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” 

7“We’re all islands shouting lies to each other across seas of misunderstanding.” 

8. “Take everything you like seriously, except yourselves.” 

9. “We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.” 

10“This is a brief life, but in its brevity it offers us some splendid moments, some meaningful adventures.” (Kim)

Have you read any of Rudyard Kipling’s stories? What is/are your favourite?

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Ciao for now


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