Lesson Archive

Icelandic volcanic ash creates travel chaos

Spectacular scenes emerged from southern Iceland recently as its Eyjafjallajoekull volcano began erupting. On April 14th it suddenly began sending a plume of ash 8.5 km (5.3 miles) high into the air. The volcanic ash spewed out gradually spreading across Europe, causing travel chaos, not only in Europe but worldwide.

Within days, the ash had crossed many parts of Europe, forcing closure of most of Europe’s air routes. The Met Office in Britain warned the disruption could go on for another week, causing flight misery to passengers. Geologists warned the travel chaos could last months.

Meanwhile airports remained closed across much of Europe. Travellers instead opted for any means possible to get home. Cross channel ferry services were rapidly booked up, as was Eurostar, who raised prices and was accused of profiteering.

Diplomatic English - Flip Flop Diplomacy

How many diplomats wear flip flops at work? Not many I hear you say! Certainly few would meet the American president at the White House in Washington wearing them. Least of all in the middle of a harsh freezing winter in February! So who in the diplomatic world might wear them then? The answer was the Dalai Lama. Naturally, he was no ordinary visitor. His mere presence or impending presence was enough to send the Chinese government into a diplomatic overdrive of threats and retaliation. The question was would the Obama government listen to any of it? The visit would certainly test the administration’s commitment to human rights and for its willingness to stand up to China. Before his arrival nothing was left to chance by the White House that minutely choreographed the diplomatic visit. It was as important how the Dalai Lama was to be received as what was to be discussed behind closed doors with him.

Grammar - Revise your symbols

Today, I thought it would be useful to revise some symbols. We sometimes use symbols in our writing e.g. we use @ for at in our e- mail addresses somewhere. On our keyboards we can use € for euro, ₤ for pound, and $ for dollar. We might even squeeze in a number (i.e. #) or shorten and to &. We also use % for percent and = for equals, also > for greater than and < for less than.

A star (asterisk) (i.e.*) is a reference mark used to indicate an explanatory sentence or paragraph at the bottom of a page. A * is also used to replace a letter or letters left out in swear words to avoid them becoming objectionable, yet conveying the same force meant by the speaker e.g. He replied, “Don't be such a b***** fool!” We can also use a * for example when talking about a 3* hotel. An asterisk is often used to mean multiply in programming languages.

Eurovea Galleria opens in Bratislava

A brand new state-of-the-art multi-functional shopping mall opened in Bratislava recently. The new Eurovea Galleria opened its doors to the public for the first time during the last weekend in March. Located in a prime location on the Danube riverfront Eurovea has already become a major draw.

In fact, many would say it is the new centre of entertainment, leisure and high street shopping in the Slovak capital. With more than 150 shops the three-level complex, which has a glass domed roof, is cleverly designed. Over the opening weekend shoppers were treated to many introductory offers.

Shops include many top brand names for one to nose around. These include British stores like Next, Debenhams and Marks & Spencer. The latter having real British food, which in central Europe is a godsend for any expat’s living there! Other famous brand names include Tommy Hilfiger, Peek & Cloppenburg, New Yorker, Penny Black and H&M.

Easter folklore traditions live on in Slovakia

While Easter is loved by men in Slovakia it is positively hated by women. Let me explain…If you are a girl from a village in the east or centre of Slovakia Easter Monday is not always fun. Why? You are likely to be chased by the village boys who will throw you in the nearest stream.

Worse - the girl is likely to be whipped by the boys in the morning using a specially decorated hand woven local willow cane with colourful ribbons. Called a “korbáč” in Slovak it’s used by the young men to whip the girls on the legs below the knees when they catch up with them. Such whips are sold before Easter outside Tesco in Bratislava!

Tradition adds a ribbon on the cane for each ‘victim’. This testifies the number of girls and women a lad has managed to whip or soak. In return the girls give the young boys hand painted decorative eggs or chocolate eggs. Older lads are offered a drink of spirits.