Lessons in the "2010" Category

France’s new medieval castle takes shape

Deep in the forests of central France something totally unique is happening. A knight’s castle is under construction. It’s the vision of one man, Michel Guyot, whose idea was to build a complete 13th century castle by using only authentic tools and locally sourced materials.

Every detail of the project is made as accurate as possible, even down to the clothes worn by the workers. If ropes are needed they are made on site; when stone is needed it needs to be quarried out of the ground etc. It’s actually the first castle of its kind to be built for nearly 800 years.

The Château de Guédelon, near the village of Saint-Fargeau in Burgundy, is probably the world’s most unusual building site. It is an exercise in archaeology in reverse, as it is discovery by building up, not by digging down. The foundations were laid back in 1997. It is due to be completed in 2025, when it will be a full-sized castle with battlements and a moat and six towers. According to Monsieur Guyot it is based on the period of 1228.

Category: History / France / Medieval Castle

Russia burns: Moscow under smog: Grain export ban

The heat wave that has gripped Russia this summer continues. As a result devastating fires continue to burn continuously right across Central Russia. The fires have caused havoc. There has been no rain for months. In parts, the land resembled the results of implementing a ‘scorched earth policy’. Thousands of people have lost their homes in 14 regions of Russia over the past few days. Up to 2,000 homes have been destroyed in the blazes.

Category: Russia / Moscow / Devastating Fires

Mangrove loss faster than land-based forests

Mangrove forests are disappearing faster than land-based forests according to a new United Nations report the UN News Service and CNN reported recently. “The World Atlas of Mangroves” says the destruction of the world’s mangrove forests is happening up to four times faster than the land-based forests.

The study commissioned by the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP) reports that one fifth (around 35,500 square kilometres) of the world’s mangroves - forests straddling both land and sea – have been lost since 1980. The study does however report that the annual destruction has slowed to 0.7% a year. It warns that any further destruction due to coastal development and shrimp farming will result in significant economic and ecological declines.

Studies estimate mangroves generate up to US$9,000 per hectare annually from fishing – much more than the tourism, aquaculture and agriculture which the UN says are the biggest drivers of mangrove loss.

Category: Nature / Mangrove Forests / United Nations

English lessons for today’s diplomats!

English is the business language of the world. You can thank the British Empire for that, not to mention today’s internet. So it is vital for those in international business to be able to speak English. It doesn’t matter whether it’s British English, American English or Australian English, so long as it’s English is all that matters.

The English language is one of the preferred choices of the diplomatic community; French being the other. However, in today’s world if you are a diplomat, or wish to be one, then knowledge of the English language is vital! Taking English lessons is an important way of learning the language.

Category: Diplomatic English / Diplomats / Learning English

General Knowledge Quiz - August 2010

Score 10 points for every correct answer – Score 5 points if half right! Play a JOKER in one round and get DOUBLE points in that round. Show it before you start the round. There are 12 rounds with 6 questions in each round.

Topics include:

  1. Music
  2. South American Geography
  3. The World Today
  4. Sport
  5. World History
  6. Europe
  7. British History
  8. Pot Luck
  9. The UK Today
  10. General Geography
  11. England
  12. Film

Category: Quiz / General knowledge / ESL English

J’adore Blackpool, Chuck: YouTube lures the French to the British seaside resort

British seaside resort Blackpool is hoping to attract a throng of French visitors after relaunching itself as a romantic and sophisticated holiday destination. Tourism chiefs have harnessed the power of YouTube with a new 90-second film that’s artfully shot. Its images include the town’s famous tower, trams and fairground. It features the dulcet tones of a pretty French girl Valerie in a chic Parisian style art deco cafe in Blackpool.

The mini drama, entitled ‘Blackpool - J’aime la Tour’, (I love the tower) aims to put the resort on the map as greater numbers of French tourists are predicted to visit the UK this year on the back of a strong euro. The promotional video shows the French girl’s fear of leaving Blackpool – the town she has fallen in love with. The film uses stylish flashbacks of Valerie enjoying the resorts attractions with her Lancastrian boyfriend before she orders a Lancashire hotpot* in French in a cafe in Stanley Park, Blackpool.

Category: Leisure / Holidays in UK / Blackpool

Germany rejects Spanish ‘transfer bid’ for octopus

Germany recently rejected a ‘transfer request’ to transfer Paul, the famous World Cup predicting Octopus, from a zoo in Germany to Spain. Paul shot to worldwide fame during the World Cup after he correctly predicted the outcome of all of Germany’s seven matches in the tournament. Known as Paul the “psychic” octopus the cephalopod then picked a mussel from the “Spanish” tank indicating Spain would win the FIFA World Cup final in South Africa. They did!

His awesome 100% record made him an instant hero in Spain and now Madrid’s Zoo says it wants to put Paul on display in its aquarium. But the Octopus’s owners at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in Germany said there was no chance of Paul being sold. Here’s how the two and a half year old octopus makes his prognostications: Officials put a mussel inside each of two clear plastic boxes bearing the national flags of the teams in his tank. Paul then makes his choice by opening the lid with his tentacles and devouring one of the treats. Paul now has thousands of fans worldwide including world leaders.

Category: World Cup / Germany-Spain / Paul the Octopus

I spy with my little eye…

If you like cold war thrillers that involve cloak and dagger type operations then the chances are you’ll think of the Orson Wells classic The Third Man. We can add Ian Fleming’s most famous spy James Bond, 007. In real life the Austrian capital recently saw one of the biggest spy swap operations in recent years take place at its international airport between Russia and the USA. But why Vienna?

Well, according to the BBC it has a long history as a stomping ground for secret services all over the world as the centre of spy swap operations. Vienna is the capital of a neutral country in the heart of Europe.

In fact, Austria has been a spy hub for more than a century. Indeed, even 20 years after the end of the Cold War agents and informants still feel at ease in this romantic city. With the disintegration of the Austro Hungarian Empire and the political turmoil that followed this led to more and more secret services setting up shop in Vienna.

Category: Austria / Vienna / US-Russian Spy Rings

Etiquette lessons for students

Students are to be given etiquette lessons from next term at a school in Wales. The reason is that teaching staff are so fed up with the demise of good etiquette they have decided to place politeness on the curriculum for all children. Thus from next term pupils at Llandovery College in Carmarthenshire, South West Wales will receive etiquette lessons in class.

The idea is based upon the TV programme ‘Ladette to Lady’; a former TV reality show in the UK and Australia that taught wayward girls good manners. It is about to be mirrored by the school in Wales. Students will be taught lessons in good manners. This includes how to hold cutlery in restaurants and holding doors open for females.

Llandovery College warden Ian Hunt wants to drive home the message that ‘manners maketh man or woman.’ “Teachers at the college will be teaching good manners, which will equip our students for the outside world. From holding doors open for fellow students to understanding the importance of an RSVP, we hope our programme puts old fashioned manners into a modern context,” he said.

Category: Teaching / Etiquette / Wales

Queen Elizabeth II addresses United Nations

Last week Queen Elizabeth II visited the United Nations in New York where she addressed the UN General Assembly for the first time since 1957. She said: “The UN had moved from being a high-minded aspiration to being a real force for common good.” She added, “For over six decades the United Nations has helped to shape international response to global dangers. The challenge now is to continue the security, prosperity and dignity of our fellow human beings.”

Since her original visit 53 years ago the number of member states have increased from 77 to 192. The Queen praised the UN for its work in reducing conflict, offering humanitarian assistance and tackling the effects of poverty. Her majesty warned of “new challenges such as terrorism and global warming that had emerged and had tested this organisation as much as its member states.” On climate change The Queen said: “Careful attention must be taken of the risks facing smaller, more vulnerable nations, many of them from the Commonwealth.”

Category: United Nations / New York / The Queen