Another listening activity

I have a new listening activity for you. It is number 6 on this page

http://englishallyear.com/exercises/listening/menu.php

I heard last week that my younger daughter was coming to Barcelona with her work. As some of you may know, she is cabin crew working for an airline in Dubai. So I booked a room in the same hotel she was due to stay in and set off early on Sunday morning to go and see her. This involved driving for two hours over the border into Spain. Then I took the fast train from Figueras to Barcelona. This train is based upon the French TGV and hurtles through the Spanish countryside at 240 kms/hour. That is 150 miles an hour. After fifty minutes, I got to Barcelona and took the metro to the hotel. All went really well. It took about 5 hours door-to-door.

But when I got to the hotel, my daughter wasn’t there. She had been transferred to a flight to London. I was very sad. I haven’t seen her since October. Still I had an excellent meal of tapas and paella, which cheered me up.

Pearson BROWN

Posted in Grammar | Leave a comment

More on Sentence Structure

Hello again.

I have a new exercise for you on Sentence Structure. It is number 10 on this page

http://englishallyear.com/exercises/grammar/menu.php

I got a lot of reaction to my story about the intelligent dog. Thank you, everybody.

Here is a true story about birds sent in by one subscriber from England.

My daughter is a writer. She lives at street level, in a basement, from which she can see the feet of passers by. One day she was sitting at her desk, writing about the travails of teenage romance – Lola and Mathieu alone in a boat on a choppy sea – when she heard a ghastly shrieking sound coming from outside her window. She wanted a cigarette break anyway, so ventured out and up to the pavement outside, to try and find out what was happening.

Immediately the screeching redoubled in volume and an enormous bird, beak outstretched, swooped past her, almost touching her face. At the same moment she noticed by the railings two tiny bundles of fluff: a pair of nestlings, fallen from one of the high trees that border the road, and beyond them, under the nearest parked car, the staring eyes of our local moggy, luminous with intent.

It is an old wives’ tale to think that you should not touch a baby bird in case the scent of your hand frightens its parents away. Actually the best thing to do with a fledgling, that is a baby bird well covered in feathers, is to put it in a place of safety where its parents can continue to feed it. Its cries will alert its parents to where it’s been hidden. But where on a London pavement, in the heart of cat territory, could she conceal a couple of flightless baby birds?

To guard against the cat my daughter stayed near, smoking her cigarette. But the frantic mother started to dive bomb her, so that in the end my daughter was forced to fetch an umbrella to open above her head to protect her eyes…

Finally, seeing there was no way to help the birds, apart from shoo away the cat, my daughter returned to her desk. An hour later the mother bird, too, gave up and flew away. At that point what else was there for my daughter to do but find a big cardboard box and bring the two birds in?

Frantic searching on the internet for information on bird nutrition, lead to calls to a dog owning neighbour and that night two hungry birds had their first taste of best dog biscuits, soaked in warm water, kindly donated by Alfie, the German Shepherd dog, and his helpful owner.

The birds did surprisingly well on this diet until thy found they preferred scraps from chicken carcasses, donated by the local butcher. A very large cage was successfully bought at auction from ebay – auction tip: don’t let anyone know you are there, put your offer in right at the last moment- and cage and contents were installed by my daughter in her absent brother’s bedroom. By day the birds were allowed to fly around the room, with us mopping up the inevitable little white blobs, and at night they were caught and put to bed, a blanket over the cage signalling time for sleep.

I don’t know how it’s done in the wild, but in the bedroom the birds were given flying lessons and encouraged to “Just try and get as far as the bed”. Mostly they plopped down onto the floor, or fell behind a cushion, but eventually they were airborne for longer than a second and indeed became almost impossible to catch each night!

Finally when my son and his girlfriend returned from holiday, in the interests of their love life, it was time for the birds to vacate the bedroom. For a while all four, humans and birds, managed to share the one small basement room but eventually the RSPCA agreed to take the birds to a wild life sanctuary, from where, some months later, they were repatriated into the wild.

Birds of the Corvus family, like these two jays, are highly intelligent and can live for up to fifteen years in captivity, as compared to an average two or three years in the wild. But our two birds would perch on the top of their cage, staring out of the window. We wanted them, for however short a time, to fly free.
Lovely story.

Until the next time.

Pearson BROWN

Posted in Grammar | Leave a comment

Expressions

Hello again.

The exercise this time is about some useful expressions. Look at number 12 on this page

http://englishallyear.com/exercises/vocabulary/menu.php

I have had a fun time looking after my friend’s house and kittens. I am scratched all over ;-) However, I want to tell you about their dog, a most incredible animal. The dog is a collie, dogs which are used by shepherds to control sheep. These dogs have a reputation for their intelligence. One dog in this village has been on French TV because it can count and add small numbers.

A few days ago, we had a day of terrible storms. It rained non-stop. The next day, the tiny stream at the bottom of the garden had become really swollen. When I looked at the little road bridge over the stream, I saw a big problem. There was a young tree, about 4 meters tall, blocking the bridge and I could see that water pressure was building up. I tried to poke it out with my stick but it was too heavy and trapped in place. As I gave up, the dog leapt into the water and swam to where the tree was. Then it pulled again and again on the tree with its teeth. Eventually, it freed the tree and dragged it out of the river onto the bank. So clever.

My spelling checker doesn’t like “leapt” but that is the normal form in British English. I suppose an American would write “leaped”. There are a few of these differences such as “spoilt” or “spoiled”.

Until the next time.

Pearson BROWN

Posted in Grammar | 1 Comment

Order 2

Hello again.

I have a new vocabulary exercise for you. It is number 11 on this page -

http://englishallyear.com/exercises/vocabulary/menu.php

I am off to house-sit today. Or perhaps I am dog-sitting? Or even kitten-siting? In any event, I am moving for a few days from my very small flat to a big house with an enormous garden. The owners are off to the UK and Ireland for a week or so and I am going to look after their house, garden and animals. Quite a responsibility. I cannot work out how much I need to pack. A few clothes, my medicine, my computers? I will only be an hour away from my flat so could come back easily.

There are four kittens there and two are to be mine. I like all four of them and it is difficult to choose. One kitten is off to Barcelona when it is old enough but choosing two from the other three is difficult.

Speaking of Barcelona, the new French Prime Minister was born there. I wonder how often a foreign-born person has reached high office in any country? We have just had local elections in France and Brits like me are allowed to vote. In fact, I know several Brits who were candidates in the election and got elected. However, they are not allowed to become mayor.

Back to my packing.

Pearson BROWN

Posted in Grammar | Leave a comment

Listening activity

Hello again.

Here is another listening exercise. It is called In The Warehouse and is number 5 on this page -

http://englishallyear.com/exercises/listening/menu.php

Pearson BROWN

Posted in Grammar | Leave a comment

Listening – office

Hello again.

I have a new listening activity for you. Number four on this list -

http://englishallyear.com/exercises/listening/menu.php

Full of flu so won’t write any more.

Pearson BROWN

Posted in Grammar | Leave a comment

Customer Orders

Hello again.

I have an exercise for you about dealing with customer orders. You will find it at number 10 on this list :

http://englishallyear.com/exercises/vocabulary/menu.php

Just a reminder that my exercises are only guaranteed to work on computers such as PCs or Macs. I am experimenting with some new software which also works on telephones and tablets. However, I am not sure how much use this will be. The screen on most phones is so small. If you would like a phone or tablet version, please let me know.

My friend Sandrine has produced some wonderful photos of the area where I live. You can see them if you have an account on Facebook. Search for MAS SOUQUET and you will find them. The light at this time of year is very special in the mountains, especially at sunrise and sunset.

Pearson BROWN

Posted in Grammar | Leave a comment