A Birthday Thought to Myself – Reflections on a Decade

BLO_Birthday Cake

Today is my birthday. Believe it or not, I am 49 years old!!!

49?!! Whenever I have seen the number written down as someone’s age (in an article for example) I have often thought, ‘Wow, that’s quite an age’. Then it would dawn on me, Hang on, I am nearly the same age! No, it can’t be. I am much too young to be nearly 49. I don’t feel 49′.

What does feeling 49 mean, though? I have no idea. All I know is how I feel. I feel better now than I did in my twenties. I am fitter, slimmer and healthier. I am so much happier in my personal and professional life. I feel positive about life and my future.

My forties started with the happiest event (my second marriage to my soul mate) and the biggest challenge (my cancer diagnosis) of my life. However, as I embark upon the last year of my forties, I can safely say that my forties have proven to be the most fulfilling, enriching, meaningful and life-enhancing decade of my life. Not only did I find happiness and serenity in my personal and emotional life, I also found the courage to change careers and start a brand new journey that has completely rejuvenated me.

As Mark Twain said: “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter”.
(Thank you to my lovely sister, Debbie for sharing this quote with me)
And I don’t mind, because my life has only improved with age. I am one very lucky lady and I thank the stars above for my good luck.

William Shakespeare said: “With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”
(Thank you, Alessandra Binucci for sharing this quote with me) And with his quote, I plan to enjoy the last year of my forties and forget about those wrinkles.

I hope you will join me in the celebrations. Cin, cin!


Ciao for now


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8 Phrasal Verbs of Movement – An Infographic

I am in Milan this week visiting my mother and showing the city to my stepmother. So, this is a quick post before we head off to the Pinacoteca of Brera.

Happiness is an Italian gelato

Happiness is an Italian gelato

I found this infographic on phrasal verbs of movement by Grammar Net and thought to myself that the theme perfectly mirrored my day of activity.

The infographic gives you clear examples how to use these phrasal verbs so there’s no need for me to elaborate on them.

However, there is one thing I want to point out. Under “take out”, one example uses the verb as a noun rather than a verb “I don’t want to cook; let’s go get take out. (noun)” ‘Takeout’ is American English.
In British English, a takeout is known as a takeaway. If you have ever been to the UK and bought a coffee or a sandwich from a cafe or sandwich bar, you would have been asked if your order was “eat in” or “takeaway”. The price is different because in the UK, bars have to charge VAT (Value Added Tax) if you eat on their premises.

[Infographic provided by Grammar.net]

I hope you enjoyed this infographic and have a wonderful weekend. I am now off to get some movement!

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Ciao for now.


10 Royal Idioms you can use in English

You may have heard on the news that a baby girl was born to a rather well-known couple on Saturday here in the UK. It was their second child. Not only was she introduced to the world by her parents when she was just 10 hours old, but various gun salutes were held in her honour two days later.

2015-05-03 09.25.41

I am, of course, referring to Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, also known as William and Catherine (Kate).
Nobody does royal as magnificently nor is quite as obsessed with their Royal Family as the British.

As someone who has lived here for nearly thirty years, I feel compelled to join in this love affair for all things royal. So, it wasn’t too difficult for me to interrupt my preparation for an upcoming business writing course this afternoon to share this cheerful infographic by Macmillan Education of 10 Royal idioms found in the English Language.

Macmillan_Royal Idioms


Some of these idioms are used more than the others in the list. You’ve got the definitions here so let’s take a look at how they would be used in sentences.

1. Queen Bee
She is not known as the queen bee of the publishing world for nothing. She has single-handedly launched the careers of dozens of authors.

2. Crown jewels
These products are the crown jewels of this company.

3. Prince Charming
She really thinks that if she waits around long enough Prince Charming will come knocking at the door.

4. A Royal Pain (informal)
He can be a royal pain if he wants to be.

5. Drama Queen
She really is not the right person for the job. She is such a drama queen when it comes to having to deal with any situation however small it is.

6. Live like a king
In some countries, your salary would allow you to live like a king.

7. King’s ransom
We had to pay what felt like a king’s ransom for that property.
(NB: This idiom is not commonly used).

8. Build castles in the air
You cannot grow a successful business by building castles in the air.

9. Hold court
The chairman loves holding court at our shareholders’ evening receptions.

10. To be king of something
Paul is the king of barbecues. Nobody does them better than him.
(NB: We also say ‘queen of something’)

Are you the king of something? Do you know anyone who can be a real drama queen? Do you live like a king? Let me know.

Well, I hope you liked this quick post. I had better get back to my writing course and finish up those materials.

Ciao for now.


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An Appointment With Your Hairdresser – Let’s Talk Hair in English

Image Credit: Pixabay

Image Credit: Pixabay

I was asked a few weeks ago by a reader if I could write a post about hair, hairdressers and hairstyles. She needed to see her hairdresser and wanted to know how to explain what she wanted doing to her hair. So I thought to myself what better time to write about hair than when I’m at the hairdresser’s!

As I write this post, I am at my hairdresser’s having my hair done. When I say having my hair done, I mean that I am having my roots coloured (to hide the grey hair!) and putting in some reddish flashlights to give my otherwise dark-brown hair some vivid colour. I am also having my hair cut. I have a 45-minute wait whilst the colour takes before I can have my hair shampooed and rinsed thoroughly. So I have my laptop on my lap and I am tapping away at the keyboard

Me having my flashlights and roots done!

Me having my flashlights and roots done!

I get my hair coloured and cut every five weeks and have the flashlights every ten weeks. My hair grows very fast (showing the grey hair far quicker than I like!), and as it is also very thick, it needs to be tamed regularly – hence an appointment every 5 weeks!

So as my hairdresser put the gown over my clothes as protection, I told her that I was going to ask her a number of questions about hair and hairstyles. I also wanted to understand all the different treatments you can have on your hair. Armed with pen and paper I started the interview.

First of all, I asked her about all the different colouring treatments you can have. As I mentioned before, every ten weeks I have flashlights put into my hair. I asked her what the difference was between those and highlights and lowlights. She said that with flashlights you only have small pieces (random pieces) coloured. This is different from highlights/lowlights where you have larger areas coloured. As the names suggest, ‘highlights’ tend to be the blonde and lighter colours whilst the ‘lowlights’ would use colours such as the coppers, browns, reds and caramels

For those of us who want to cover our grey hair, we have the option of either a semi-permanent or permanent colour. The colour used will match our own hair colour. The difference between a semi-permanent is that the colour covers up to 40% of the white/grey hair and doesn’t last as long. A permanent covers 100%. I have my roots done every five weeks or when my husband starts telling me that I’ve got that badger look!

After all that colouring, it’s always a relief to have my hair thoroughly washed or shampooed. I especially like it when the conditioner is massaged into my hair. Some women have a masque treatment applied to their hair to have intense conditioning. This is particularly helpful for women who have very dry hair.


The short, graduated bob

The short, graduated bob

When it comes to cutting, you have a choice depending on the length of your hair. If you have long hair, you can choose to have it cut one length or have layers. Layers can add volume to your hair. If you’re like me and have short hair,you can have your hair graduated into the neck. This means that the hair is cut into your neck. If you have a bob, the choice is wider as it depends on what sort of bob you have – a basic bob with one length, a graduated bob, a long bob or a layered bob!

I know…this is getting very technical, isn’t it?Please bear with me.


I asked my hairdresser what shapes we have and she told me that hair shapes come in three basic forms – one length (long). bob and short hair. The different hairstyles are basically down to the cut – layered, graduated, one length. And let’s not forget the fringe which can be  full, side or choppy.

If you have thick hair like me, you might want to get some of the weight off so texturizing will help change the texture of your hair from thick to thin. I get that done every time because my hair gets extremely heavy especially on the top of my head.

We then moved on to styling. Now I have short, thick and coarse hair. I always go for a wet cut. This basically means that I have my hair cut and the hair is left to dry naturally. In reality though, my hairdresser often blow dries my hair with a hairdryer. Most women have a cut and blow dry.

Now that's what I call straight and one length.

Now that’s what I call straight and one length.

There are also women who visit their hairdresser’s once a week. They don’t have their hair cut, but they will go in for a wash and blow dry. Some women prefer their hairdresser to blow dry their hair as they are better at giving them the style they want. Apparently, the fashion now is to have wavy, bouncy and voluminous hair. Hair straightening and using hair straighteners are out. Not having long hair, I’ve not had to worry about that and wasn’t aware of this change in fashion.

Before blow drying your hair, your hairdresser might apply a mousse, serum, smoothing cream or a balm to your hair. Which one will all depend on whether your hair is frizzy, coarse or thin.

After blow drying, you can have hairspray, wax or a paste applied. I normally have  wax although at home I use argan oil. I find that helps reduce the coarseness of my hair.

And there you have it. That’s all the information I managed to get from my hairdresser today. If I have missed out any vocabulary please let me know and I will add it to the post.

For more information take a look at these sites for:
 An activity on hair vocabulary
 The names of different hairstyles in English

My gentlemen readers, if you’re feeling left out and would like me to write about a visit to the barber’s and what that involves please let me know and I will send my husband out on a fact-finding mission at his barber’s. I will then report back with my findings.

Finally, a big thank you to my hairdresser, Donna, who patiently allowed me to grill (question) her about hair and for giving me a splendid haircut today.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to receive my posts automatically into your inbox.

Ciao for now


#World English Language Day: The Influence of Technology on the English Language Over The Centuries

BLOG_English as a LF23 April is turning out to be an extremely busy day as far as celebrations are concerned. Not only are the English and Catalonians, to name a few, celebrating St George’s Day, we are also celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday (see my recent post) and World English Language Day.

In today’s post it’s the latter day (World English Language Day) that I wish to concentrate on. I was recently approached by Shane Whelan from Ulearn School in Dublin who asked me if I would be willing to share a timeline he had prepared outlining the influence of technology on the English Language over the centuries.

Shane says that: “The interactive timeline allows the reader to view images and videos of some of the inventions which have helped shape the English language, as well as providing information on some of the changes which have taken place in the language because of these technological advancements.”

My immediate response to his request was a resounding YES! I took it upon myself to assume that you, my readers, would find this timeline as interesting as I do.

This is a short introduction that Shane has prepared for this post.

World English Language day has been celebrated on the 23rd of April each year since 2010, in conjunction with the birthday anniversary of William Shakespeare. The history of the language can be dated as far back as the 5th Century AD when three Germanic tribes, Angles, Saxons and Jutes came to England and displaced the Celtic language that was spoken. The invasion of the Vikings, as well as the influence of Latin, caused the language to evolve further, and contributed a substantial amount of the vocabulary used today. This continued evolution has led to English being the second most used language in the world.

While the impact of invasions and the effect of other languages have had a significant influence on the language, it is without question that advancements in technology have played a vital role in the development of the language. The invention of the printing press led to greater availability of books and allowed the public to experience newspapers and the timeless works of Daniel Defoe and William Shakespeare. Radio contributed to the spread of the language during modern wartimes, while it could be strongly argued that the invention of television was a major factor in the increased use of English as a second language in the 1950s.

In this interactive timeline we have sought to celebrate the development of the language through the influence of technology. There are some who argue that the more recent influence of social media and the internet has led to a “dumbing down” of the language, while others believe that they have helped to spread the language further across the globe. While there will always be contrasting opinions on the negatives and positives regarding the influence of technology, without it, English would not be as widely used and spoken as it is today.

To start the timeline, all you do is click on the box that says “The Printing Press”. A new image will appear with an explanation. If you hover your cursor by the image you will see that you can then scroll along to the next image and explanation.

Thank you, Shane for sharing the timeline with my readers and me.

I hope you found the timeline as informative as I did. Do you agree that the advancement of technology, particularly in the last century has been instrumental in the widespread use of the English Language throughout the world?

If you liked this post, please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to receive my posts automatically in your inbox.

Ciao for now


Shakespeare In Business – 10 Quotes That Could Be Applied In Modern Business

Photo: Commons.Wikimedia

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Well, it’s that time of year again when the English Language world pay homage to the grand master of the English Language, William Shakespeare on what would be his four hundred and fifty-first birthday!

As I was thinking of a post to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday  I wondered to myself whether I could write about Shakespeare in business. Shakespeare in business? Sounds strange, doesn’t it? What could the Bard possibly have written that would have relevance in today’s business world?

Well, you’d be surprised. Shakespeare’s words have long resonated with people throughout the centuries as they have interpreted them and applied them to the different times in history. In interpreting his words and phrases, we’ve looked at ways we could apply their meaning to our lives both personal and professional.

As I started researching for this post, I found a couple of blogs that had selected a number of quotes from his plays that could be applied in the business world both as motivators and lessons to follow. (You can find both blogs listed below this post.)

And lo and behold, I wish to share them here with you. I would be very interested to know whether you agree with what Shakespeare had/has to say to us professionals.

1. Brevity is the soul of wit (Hamlet)
Indeed it is. Whether we’re in a meeting, writing an email or giving a presentation, being brief is essential. Your colleagues, readers and audience will thank you for your conciseness.

2. “Go wisely and slowly. Those who rush, stumble and fall.” (Romeo and Juliet)
In this age of 24 hour news and breakneck pace,it is a real challenge to find and, more importantly, to take the time to quietly reflect on what we’re doing in our business and why. Sometimes we’re so busy rushing around  that we can make some bad decisions. It is important to slow down and consider all the options. 

 “Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.” (Troilus and Cressida)
We all love to get things or projects done and ticked off our to-do list in the shortest possible time. However, in our haste to get everything done we forget to enjoy the actual experience of doing the task or project.
In business, you often hear about entrepreneurs who build one business after another and never seem to stop. When asked why they don’t stop, their response is that they get the most pleasure when working and striving to achieve something.

4. “Strong reasons make strong actions.” (King John)
In business, it’s important to ensure that our decisions and actions are based on solid foundations, carefully thought out ideas and backed by solid facts.  What do you think? Do you agree?

5. “We know what we are but know not what we may be.” (Hamlet)
Introspection is an important quality in business. It allows us to look at our strengths and weaknesses and to look at ways we can continue to improve and grow ourselves and our businesses. Hard work and perseverance will allow us to achieve so much more.

6. “How far that little candle throws his beams!” (The Merchant of Venice)
There are times when we are so tied down by the day- to -day details of running a business or doing our jobs that we often forget just how much we have achieved. People often talk about looking at the big picture and this quote says just that. Sometimes we need to step back and look at all that we have achieved.

7.“How poor are they that have not patience? What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” (Othello)
Such wise words. We’ve all been there. Rushing around, working towards deadlines, chasing the next deal and never once stopping to listen to our colleagues or peers. You never know – they might have a great idea or they might have a solution to a problem that has been bothering you. Patience is a virtue in business as well as in our personal lives. We would do well to practise some.

8. “It is not in the Stars to hold our Destiny but in ourselves” (Julius Caesar)
This can be applied both in our personal and  professional lives. You often hear about people who envy entrepreneurs who seem to have achieved success so easily. And yet, when you read their stories you find many failures along the road to success. And never once did they leave their destiny to chance but took it in their hands and steered it and owned it.

9. “And oftentimes excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.”  (King John)
Don’t make excuses. They are weak. Take responsibility for your mistakes and make them right. It’s so important especially if you’re looking to establish a reputation and credibility with your business relationships.

10. “It is a tale…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” (Macbeth)
There’s always someone you work with who will have this great idea and insist that it should be acted upon, but who cannot seem to back it up with real substance. Or the person who makes lots of promises but doesn’t deliver on any of them.

BLOG_Shakespeare birthdayI don’t know about you but it seems to me that Shakespeare had and still has plenty to teach us in business. He is as relevant today as he was over 400 years ago. Thank you, Will and a very Happy Birthday to you, sir.

If you liked this post, please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you want to be receive my weekly posts automatically.

Ciao for now


This post would not have been possible without these two blog posts:
10 Shakespeare Quotes Every Business Leader Should Read
10 Life Lessons You Can Learn from Shakespeare Quotes

English Grammar Pill: Tackling the Present Perfect Tense Through Music

Johnny Cash Image via Heinrich Klaffs / Wikipedia

Johnny Cash
Image via Heinrich Klaffs / Wikipedia

Today’s post is written by Paul Mains, an English Language Trainer based in Argentina. I had the pleasure of getting to know Paul through Gallery Languages’ blog which I curate and write occasionally for. A month ago he asked me if he could write a piece for English with a Twist. I said yes without hesitation. Paul is very successful at teaching English tenses through music and today he grapples with the present perfect tense – the tense all English Language learners love to hate! Over to you, Paul.



English learners everywhere will agree: the present perfect tense can be really complicated! Often times, it can be difficult to know when it’s right to use the present perfect. To help clarify some of this confusion, we’ll take a look at some popular songs that exemplify three of the most common uses of the present perfect. In addition to being fun to listen to, these songs show real-life examples of the present perfect in action, which should clear up some of the questions or doubts that you might have.


Before getting started, let’s check out the basics of the present perfect tense:

Form: present tense of have + past participle

Examples:     He has taught English since 2007.

                      Have you ever seen a beluga whale?

                       Ive just moved to London.

                       I can’t believe that shes never eaten sushi.


Now, onto the music!


Usage 1:  To describe life experiences

A very popular use of the present perfect is to describe your past experiences: to talk about the things you’ve done or the places you’ve been to. The exact time that these experiences occurred does not matter; we use the present perfect to demonstrate simply that they happened some time before the present moment.

Examples:     I have climbed a lot of mountains.

                    She has been to six different countries.


In I’ve Been Everywhere, country singer Johnny Cash talks about some of the American cities that he’s visited in the past. In doing so, he gives us many great examples of this use of the present perfect.

I’ve been everywhere, man.
             I’ve breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I’ve had my share, man.
           I’ve been everywhere. I’ve been to:
Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota . . .

Note that Johnny Cash uses the contracted form of “I have” I’ve — when talking about his experiences. Also, if you’re trying to brush up on your United States geography, this is a great song for learning the names of American cities and states!

We can also use the present perfect to ask about others’ life experiences. When asking this kind of question, we often use the present perfect in conjunction with the adverb ever. The song Glitter in the Air by Pink shows us how to ask questions about others’ experiences using the present perfect. Remember that the auxiliary verb “have” jumps to the front of the sentence in questions!

Have you ever fed a lover with just your hands?

Have you ever thrown a fistful of glitter in the air?

Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, “I just don’t care”?


Usage 2:  
To describe something that happened in the past and continues now

Another common use of the present perfect is to talk about something that started in the past, and is still happening in the present moment. This use of the present perfect is often accompanied by the adverbs for or since to indicate how long the event or action has been going on. Note that “for” is always followed by a period of time (e.g., a day, ten seconds, a while), whereas “since” is always followed by a specific date (e.g., 1492, last week, 5:30).

Examples:     I have lived in New York for two years.

                     She has been a teacher since 2002.


London-based singer Sam Smith’s love song I’m Not The Only One uses the present perfect with the adverb “for” to describe something in the past that’s still happening in the present moment.

For months on end I’ve had my doubts
Denying every tear
I have loved you for many years
Maybe I am just not enough


Comprehension check: In the lyrics above, Sam Smith says that he began to have doubts months ago, and still does now. Later, he indicates that he started loving someone many years ago, and still loves that person today.

Another popular English band, One Direction, also sings about love using the present perfect in 18. However, instead of using the adverb “for”, they use the adverb “since”. Compare One Direction’s lyrics below to Sam Smith’s lyrics above to see the difference between “for” and “since” when using the present perfect:

I have loved you since we were 18
Long before we both thought the same thing


Usage 3: To describe the very recent past

The third common use of the present perfect tense is to describe actions and events that have happened in the very recent past, usually within a few minutes (for events that occurred further in the past, we use the simple past). In this case, we often use the adverb “just” in between the auxiliary (some form of “have”) and the main verb.

Examples:     Ive just eaten breakfast.

                      Shes left the office and is now on her way home.


To illustrate this use of the present perfect, we return to another song from Sam Smith. In I’ve Told You Now, Sam Smith describes a situation in which he avoids talking to someone, until he reaches his breaking point and finally says something. His use of the word “now” highlights the recency of the action.

            Why do you think I come ’round here on my free will?
Wasting all my precious time
Oh the truth spills out
And oh I, I’ve told you now
Ive told you now


In We’ve Only Just Begun, The Carpenters, a popular band in the 1970s, sing about newlyweds and their life ahead. They use the present perfect with the adverb “just” to show that the couple’s married life together has started very recently (the adverb “only” is added for emphasis).

            Weve only just begun to live
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we’re on our way



Indeed, the present perfect tense can be a challenge, but hopefully, these songs have made it a little bit less intimidating. Of course, don’t forget to sing along — that way, you’ll get in some speaking practice, too!

If you’d like to hear some examples of the present perfect when it’s spoken, not sung, consider trying your hand at a free English listening test. With a little practice, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the present perfect.


Have you found these songs to be helpful? What are some things you have done to study the present perfect?




Paul teaches English in Buenos Aires and writes on behalf of Language Trainers, a language tutoring service offering personalized course packages to individuals and groups. Try their free English language level tests, and check out their website for other language-learning resources. Feel free to visit their Facebook page or contact paul@languagetrainers.com with any questions.

Paul, Thank you ever so much for showing us how the present perfect can be learned through songs. If you liked Paul’s post please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you want more ideas about the English Language.

Ciao for now

English Skills: Making Small Talk In Business

jfa1761_hiThis afternoon I am off to Manchester for my first ever face to face conference in my teaching career. I am attending the annual IATEFL conference. IATEFL stands for International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (wow, that was a mouthful!). The conference is one of the most important events in the industry and is held over 4 days. I am really looking forward to it.

There will be plenty of opportunities to meet other teachers, speakers, publishers and leading authorities in the ELT (English Language Teaching) world. There will also be plenty of opportunities for small talk.

And this is what got me thinking about today’s post. In our personal and business lives we often have to engage in small talk with people. Small talk is important for a number of reasons. According to Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, it’s the first step to connecting with people and forging lasting and meaningful relationships. It is an easy way to get to know someone, create a positive first impression and gain self-confidence.(Source: The Etiquette School of New York)

Many of my clients ask me to help them work on their small talk skills in their courses. Whilst very capable of holding and maintaining a conversation related to their jobs, many English Language learners find it more challenging to engage in small talk. The main reason they give is that they lack the necessary vocabulary on a range of topics and the expressions to start those conversations. It’s much easier to get straight down to business.

I found this excellent image prepared by St George International and felt impelled to share it with you here. It gives some useful expressions that you can take away and use the next time you find yourself engaging in small talk.

Image Credit: St George International

Image Credit: St George International

If you cannot read these expressions, here they are.

Business Small Talk: Travel

How’s your hotel?
Great location & a comfortable bed – that’s all you need, isn’t it?
Is this your first visit here?
No, I’ve been here before on business. It’s a great city.
Will you have time for some sightseeing?
No, I’m afraid not. I’ve got to run to the airport right after the meeting.
What do you think of the food here?
Not too bad. There’s a great little restaurant near my hotel.


Business Small Talk : Leisure/Sport

Do you do any sport in your free time?
Yes, I go to the gym and I do a bit of jogging, but only to keep fit. How about you?
Do you think that a team from (country) will win the Champion’s League this year?
To be honest, I’m not much of a football fan. I play tennis.
What’s the biggest sport in (country) apart from football?
Well, lots of people are into cycling and basketball is really popular, too.


Business Small Talk: Weather

How was the weather in (city) when you left?
A bit sunnier/colder than here, I’m afraid. 
It’s a bit warm/cold for this time of year, isn’t it?
Yes, it’s fantastic/terrible.
Is it true that it always rains in the UK?
Well, not exactly, but maybe there’s a little bit of truth in that.

Business Small Talk: Social and Political Issues

Is unemployment a big problem in (country)?
Well, it is an issue, but it’s not as bad as a few years ago.
Is your government doing anything to encourage business?
It tries to help small businesses with tax breaks, but it could do a lot more. What’s the situation here?
Alcohol causes a lot of problems here. Is it the same in (country)?
Yes, it’s getting worse. But I think it’s a problem in most places, isn’t it?

Can you think of other responses to the above questions? What other topics would you include in small talk?

I plan to engage in plenty of small talk and to learn a lot from my peers at this weekend’s conference. I believe that no matter what field we’re in conferences can help us become better professionals. I wrote a post yesterday on another blog I curate about why conferences are good for us teachers. 

If you liked this post please share it and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you want to receive my posts automatically.

Ciao for now


10 Idioms with an Easter and Spring Flavour to Them

I’m back! It feels really good to be back on firm ground after a week spent on a narrowboat on a canal in Wales.

This was our home for the week.

This was our home for the week.

Having said that, waking up to views such as this is hard to beat.

Good Morning, sunshine.

Good Morning, sunshine.

And cruising along a canal that looks like this is simply heavenly.


But return we must and it’s not so bad when you have the season of spring and Easter to look forward to.

Just before I left for my watery holiday, I posted this infographic sharing 10 spring idioms by Macmillan Education on my Facebook Page.

Its cheerfulness and colour remind me of all that is special about spring – sun, daffodils, bees, tulips, lambs and sheep in the fields (of which we saw plenty in Wales) and green grass. It is also the time to celebrate Easter with all that chocolate in the shape of eggs and bunnies.

I thought I’d expand on this infographic by giving you an example sentence to show you how each idiom is used. You already have the definitions. So here goes.

1. Spring into action
After lying around all morning doing nothing, Charlie suddenly sprang into action.

2. Under the sun
He likes to read about every topic under the sun.

3. No spring chicken
She may think that she looks cool and young in those hotpants, but I can tell you for a fact that she is no spring chicken.

4. A happy bunny
My husband has his beer, the football match on TV and complete control of the remote. He is one happy bunny.

5. Busy bee
Wow! You’ve done all the cleaning, the washing and ironing?! You have been a busy bee this morning.

6. A good egg
I am so pleased that we hired Dylan to help us with the accounts. He works well and fast. He is a good egg.

7. To put all your eggs in one basket
When I worked in investment management, I always advised my clients against putting all their eggs in one basket. Instead, I recommended that they have a well-diversified portfolio of investments.

8. A spring in someone’s step
Clear skies and a sunny day always give me a spring in my step.

9. The grass is (always) greener on the other side
Although it is tempting to think so, the grass is not always greener on the other side.

10. Black sheep
It seems to me that most families have a black sheep somewhere.

If you liked these idioms, you might also like the post I wrote last year specifically on Easter idioms.

Is it spring where you are? Do you like the season? Do you have similar idioms related to spring in your language?

Here in the UK, we are on a long Easter weekend break which starts today. I want to wish those of you who celebrate it, a very Happy Easter. I know that for the Orthodox Church Easter will be celebrated in a week’s time so please take this as an early wish.
Also, a very Happy Passover to all my Jewish readers.

If you liked this post, 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


Happy Blogiversary – We Are 2 Today!

BLOG Image_2 Years

And that makes two wonderful years of blogging and sharing with you, my readers.

Two years on and this is what we have achieved together:

  • 178 posts
  • 3064 subscribers (plus 972 on Networked Blog)
  • over 1.7million total views on the blog
  • the most successful post in the last year has been viewed over 96,000 times
  • this blog was chosen as runner up for the second year running for the Macmillan Love English Award for Best Blog about the English Language

Once again, through this blog, I’ve met some wonderful people who have been generous enough to read and comment on my blog posts. I have met some more lovely new clients who I consider friends. I have been introduced to more amazing fellow teachers who have taught and inspired me and continue to do so.

My love for writing and for the English Language and English literature hasn’t diminished. On the contrary, it has grown The discipline of writing has made me appreciate far more the language and allowed me to analyse more deeply the way I teach and to make adjustments where necessary.

I continue to have the time of my life and it’s all thanks to your encouragement, your readership and enthusiasm for my posts. I love the comments I receive from you. Please keep them coming. Thank you all so much for sharing my posts and spreading the word. This blog wouldn’t be the success it is without YOU.

If you’d like me to address any particular aspects of the English Language and literature or anything else associated with the English Language culture, you only have to drop me a line and I will see what I can do.

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all your support and I am looking forward to continuing this journey with you for many more years to come.

I am taking a week’s break from blogging starting tomorrow. My husband and I are going on a canal boat holiday in Wales. It’s going to be just the two of us and our dog, Buster. I have never been on such a holiday and I am looking forward to steering the boat, opening those locks and visiting another beautiful part of the British Isles. I’ll tell you all about it in my next post.

I will be back at the beginning of April.

Have a good week, everyone.

Ciao for now


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