Monthly Archives: January 2015

41 - Christmas. What’s not to Love? - Slow

Visit www.anglais.re for more !

Usually, in English when we say “What’s not to love?” about something, or someone, we mean that they cause us only positive feelings.  The implied answer is “nothing”.  For example, you could say of George Clooney, “He’s glamorous, handsome, supports good causes and he’s stinking rich, what’s not to love?”  However, in this advent season, if I seriously pose the question about Christmas, I come up with rather a long list of things not to love.

 

First of all, there’s the creeping sense of stress.  This begins in early November when you spot the first chocolate Santa in the supermarket, and builds gradually as you hear people on the tube boasting that they did all their Christmas  shopping on-line in April and now “only need to get a few bits”.   It mounts to a level of utter panic by 22nd December when all you’ve managed to buy is one incense candle and a box of liqueur chocolates,  which you’ll probably eat yourself.

 

Then there are the crowds.  As I work in Regent Street, which is just off Oxford Street, London’s busiest shopping venue, by the second week in December it is no longer possible to reach the tube station without queuing to walk.  There are even pedestrian marshals with loud speakers yelling commands at the shoppers in order to keep them from falling under a bus.   This is not festive.  This is a dystopian nightmare.

 

It becomes completely impossible to go and meet a friend for a quiet drink in a local bar or cafe because they are all packed with gangs of people on their “work do” – which is the obligatory office Christmas event.  They wear plastic antlers on their heads and they are all drunk by 6.30 in the evening.  Then, you have to go to your own “work do” when the challenge is to try and avoid all the colleagues you don’t like in case you end up telling them so.  And of course, the same thing applies to the ones you do like, so it’s best not to talk to anyone.

 

In pre-Christmas UK, if you want to do anything practical at all, such as find a new apartment, or sell a car, or get the hall painted, or speak to someone in any company or government office, you can forget it.  “Oh sorry, love, not before Christmas” they’ll say.   All business is officially suspended from early December until the New Year.

 

But let’s try and be positive.  There must be something to love about a London Christmas?  Well, there’s the outdoor skating rinks that appear in squares and courtyards of historic buildings.  They are really atmospheric, and you can whizz round on your skates in a magical setting, then fall over and go for a cup of mulled wine.  and then there’s the  perfume ads on the television.  All the women in them – supermodels or film actresses - behave as if they are totally insane, flinging open doors to scream at their lovers, throwing cascades of diamonds off balconies, or twirling around on snowy mountaintops in a ball gown, laughing hysterically.  Christmas has obviously driven them crazy, and I’m really not surprised.

 

Vocabulary

 

 

Handsome - beau

Stinking rich - plein aux as

Advent  - l’avènement

Come up with - fabriquer

Creeping sense - sentiment croissant

The tube  - le metro å Londres

To boast - vanter

Few bits - deux ou trois trucs

Crowd - foule

Just off - juste à côté de

Marshals -  les comissaires

Festive – de fete

Work do - soirée d'entreprise

Antlers  - les ramures

Skating rink  - une patinoire

 

Whizz - aller à toute vitesse

Mulled wine - vin chaud

Ad - pub

To fling - jeter

Ball gown - robe de bal

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41 - Christmas. What’s not to Love?

Visit www.anglais.re for more !

Usually, in English when we say “What’s not to love?” about something, or someone, we mean that they cause us only positive feelings.  The implied answer is “nothing”.  For example, you could say of George Clooney, “He’s glamorous, handsome, supports good causes and he’s stinking rich, what’s not to love?”  However, in this advent season, if I seriously pose the question about Christmas, I come up with rather a long list of things not to love.

First of all, there’s the creeping sense of stress.  This begins in early November when you spot the first chocolate Santa in the supermarket, and builds gradually as you hear people on the tube boasting that they did all their Christmas  shopping on-line in April and now “only need to get a few bits”.   It mounts to a level of utter panic by 22nd December when all you’ve managed to buy is one incense candle and a box of liqueur chocolates,  which you’ll probably eat yourself.

Then there are the crowds.  As I work in Regent Street, which is just off Oxford Street, London’s busiest shopping venue, by the second week in December it is no longer possible to reach the tube station without queuing to walk.  There are even pedestrian marshals with loud speakers yelling commands at the shoppers in order to keep them from falling under a bus.   This is not festive.  This is a dystopian nightmare.

It becomes completely impossible to go and meet a friend for a quiet drink in a local bar or cafe because they are all packed with gangs of people on their “work do” – which is the obligatory office Christmas event.  They wear plastic antlers on their heads and they are all drunk by 6.30 in the evening.  Then, you have to go to your own “work do” when the challenge is to try and avoid all the colleagues you don’t like in case you end up telling them so.  And of course, the same thing applies to the ones you do like, so it’s best not to talk to anyone.

In pre-Christmas UK, if you want to do anything practical at all, such as find a new apartment, or sell a car, or get the hall painted, or speak to someone in any company or government office, you can forget it.  “Oh sorry, love, not before Christmas” they’ll say.   All business is officially suspended from early December until the New Year.

But let’s try and be positive.  There must be something to love about a London Christmas?  Well, there’s the outdoor skating rinks that appear in squares and courtyards of historic buildings.  They are really atmospheric, and you can whizz round on your skates in a magical setting, then fall over and go for a cup of mulled wine.  and then there’s the  perfume ads on the television.  All the women in them – supermodels or film actresses - behave as if they are totally insane, flinging open doors to scream at their lovers, throwing cascades of diamonds off balconies, or twirling around on snowy mountaintops in a ball gown, laughing hysterically.  Christmas has obviously driven them crazy, and I’m really not surprised.

 

Vocabulary

 

Handsome - beau

Stinking rich - plein aux as

Advent  - l’avènement

Come up with - fabriquer

Creeping sense - sentiment croissant

The tube  - le metro å Londres

To boast - vanter

Few bits - deux ou trois trucs

Crowd - foule

Just off - juste à côté de

Marshals -  les comissaires

Festive – de fete

Work do - soirée d'entreprise

Antlers  - les ramures

Skating rink  - une patinoire

Whizz - aller à toute vitesse

Mulled wine - vin chaud

Ad - pub

To fling - jeter

Ball gown - robe de bal

00:0000:00

40 - Christmas in Australia - Vocabulary

Christmas in Australia

Whilst a lot of people from mainland France find spending Christmas in Reunion to be a little strange, coming from Australia I find it completely normal to celebrate Christmas and New Year under the burning sun. There are however a few differences between the way the French and the Aussies go about Christmas festivities.

 

Starting with the 24th of December which in Australia is a little less formal than it is in France. Most people try and finish work early but the evening is not necessarily spent with the family. Quite often we catch up with friends and go out for a drink or two. Carols By Candlelight, which is an outside concert where people sit on blankets, light candles and join together to sing Christmas Carols, is a major event of the silly season. The one in Melbourne is rather spectacular and generally televised live across Australia on the 24th December. Then before going to bed, kids usually leave out cookies and a glass of milk to keep Santa happy.

 

Our big celebration takes place the following day, on the 25th.  The number of drinks that were had the previous evening generally determines what time things get going on Christmas Day, unless of course children are involved, then parents are usually jumped on rather early and beckoned to the tree to open the presents that Santa left.

 

Australia is an extremely multicultural country and with this, our traditions are often derived from a mixture of other countries. There is thus no set ‘way’ to do Christmas in Australia, rather a charming mix of traditions depending on your particular family. In my family for example the first cork is usually popped around 11am, and friends call in for a quick drink before lunch. Lunch in Australia is the main Christmas meal. Meats such as turkey, chicken, pork and lamb are served with hot vegetables and other side dishes. Seafood is also very popular as an entrée or even a main course. Dessert is often a Pavlova coated with cream, strawberries and passionfruit or it can be a traditional English pudding with warm custard. Mince Pies, lollies and Christmas bonbons often decorate the table. Christmas lunch can often be a barbecue in the backyard or a picnic on a beach. As Christmas coincides with the Summer Holidays, quite often families will celebrate Christmas away from home.

 

The afternoon is usually spent relaxing and feeling quite
lethargic after such a huge lunch. The evening meal is generally leftovers from lunch (of which there are usually enough to last a couple of days) or we may go to our in-laws for dinner, visit friends or have friends over for a light meal.

 

The weather is variable at this time of year, it can be between 20 to 40 to 50 degrees depending on where in Australia you are.

 

The 26th of December (Boxing Day) is also a public holiday in Australia, this is one thing I really miss in France. Lucky my partner is from La Moselle so when we go back to mainland France, this traditions is also applied. In Australia, traditionally it was the day when servants received gifts from their superiors or employers known as a “Christmas Box”. Today throughout Australia, popular activities on this day include digesting the meal from the previous day (in other words, relaxing), going to the beach, braving the first day of Christmas Sales, watching the Melbourne cricket test match or the stunning start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race or just catching up with friends… for a drink.

 

Vocabulary:

Blaring - brûlant

Aussie - un/e australien/ne

 

Festivities - les fêtes

 

Catch up with - aller voir / retrouver

 

Warm - chaud

 

 

Silly season - période de Noel / Nouvel An 

 

Santa - Père Noël

 

Get going - démarrer 

 

To beckon - appeler

 

Cork - bouchon

 

 

Call in - passer

 

Turkey - dinde

 

Lamb - agneau

 

Side dishes - accompagnement 

 

Pavlova - gâteau australien

 

 

Custard - crème anglaise

 

Backyard - une cour arrière 

 

Huge - énorme 

 

Parents-in-law - beaux-parents 

 

Partner - mon ami/e

 

 

Servants - domestiques

 

In other words - autrement dit

 

To brave - affronter

 

Sales - les Soldes 

00:0000:00

40 - Christmas in Australia - Slow

Christmas in Australia

Whilst a lot of people from mainland France find spending Christmas in Reunion to be a little strange, coming from Australia I find it completely normal to celebrate Christmas and New Year under the burning sun. There are however a few differences between the way the French and the Aussies go about Christmas festivities.

 

Starting with the 24th of December which in Australia is a little less formal than it is in France. Most people try and finish work early but the evening is not necessarily spent with the family. Quite often we catch up with friends and go out for a drink or two. Carols By Candlelight, which is an outside concert where people sit on blankets, light candles and join together to sing Christmas Carols, is a major event of the silly season. The one in Melbourne is rather spectacular and generally televised live across Australia on the 24th December. Then before going to bed, kids usually leave out cookies and a glass of milk to keep Santa happy.

 

Our big celebration takes place the following day, on the 25th.  The number of drinks that were had the previous evening generally determines what time things get going on Christmas Day, unless of course children are involved, then parents are usually jumped on rather early and beckoned to the tree to open the presents that Santa left.

 

Australia is an extremely multicultural country and with this, our traditions are often derived from a mixture of other countries. There is thus no set ‘way’ to do Christmas in Australia, rather a charming mix of traditions depending on your particular family. In my family for example the first cork is usually popped around 11am, and friends call in for a quick drink before lunch. Lunch in Australia is the main Christmas meal. Meats such as turkey, chicken, pork and lamb are served with hot vegetables and other side dishes. Seafood is also very popular as an entrée or even a main course. Dessert is often a Pavlova coated with cream, strawberries and passionfruit or it can be a traditional English pudding with warm custard. Mince Pies, lollies and Christmas bonbons often decorate the table. Christmas lunch can often be a barbecue in the backyard or a picnic on a beach. As Christmas coincides with the Summer Holidays, quite often families will celebrate Christmas away from home.

 

The afternoon is usually spent relaxing and feeling quite
lethargic after such a huge lunch. The evening meal is generally leftovers from lunch (of which there are usually enough to last a couple of days) or we may go to our in-laws for dinner, visit friends or have friends over for a light meal.

 

The weather is variable at this time of year, it can be between 20 to 40 to 50 degrees depending on where in Australia you are.

 

The 26th of December (Boxing Day) is also a public holiday in Australia, this is one thing I really miss in France. Lucky my partner is from La Moselle so when we go back to mainland France, this traditions is also applied. In Australia, traditionally it was the day when servants received gifts from their superiors or employers known as a “Christmas Box”. Today throughout Australia, popular activities on this day include digesting the meal from the previous day (in other words, relaxing), going to the beach, braving the first day of Christmas Sales, watching the Melbourne cricket test match or the stunning start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race or just catching up with friends… for a drink.

 

Vocabulary:

Blaring - brûlant

Aussie - un/e australien/ne

 

Festivities - les fêtes

 

Catch up with - aller voir / retrouver

 

Warm - chaud

 

 

Silly season - période de Noel / Nouvel An 

 

Santa - Père Noël

 

Get going - démarrer 

 

To beckon - appeler

 

Cork - bouchon

 

 

Call in - passer

 

Turkey - dinde

 

Lamb - agneau

 

Side dishes - accompagnement 

 

Pavlova - gâteau australien

 

 

Custard - crème anglaise

 

Backyard - une cour arrière 

 

Huge - énorme 

 

Parents-in-law - beaux-parents 

 

Partner - mon ami/e

 

 

Servants - domestiques

 

In other words - autrement dit

 

To brave - affronter

 

Sales - les Soldes 

00:0000:00

40 - Christmas in Australia

Christmas in Australia

Whilst a lot of people from mainland France find spending Christmas in Reunion to be a little strange, coming from Australia I find it completely normal to celebrate Christmas and New Year under the burning sun. There are however a few differences between the way the French and the Aussies go about Christmas festivities.


Starting with the 24th of December which in Australia is a little less formal than it is in France. Most people try and finish work early but the evening is not necessarily spent with the family. Quite often we catch up with friends and go out for a drink or two. Carols By Candlelight, which is an outside concert where people sit on blankets, light candles and join together to sing Christmas Carols, is a major event of the silly season. The one in Melbourne is rather spectacular and generally televised live across Australia on the 24th December. Then before going to bed, kids usually leave out cookies and a glass of milk to keep Santa happy.


Our big celebration takes place the following day, on the 25th.  The number of drinks that were had the previous evening generally determines what time things get going on Christmas Day, unless of course children are involved, then parents are usually jumped on rather early and beckoned to the tree to open the presents that Santa left.


Australia is an extremely multicultural country and with this, our traditions are often derived from a mixture of other countries. There is thus no set ‘way’ to do Christmas in Australia, rather a charming mix of traditions depending on your particular family. In my family for example the first cork is usually popped around 11am, and friends call in for a quick drink before lunch. Lunch in Australia is the main Christmas meal. Meats such as turkey, chicken, pork and lamb are served with hot vegetables and other side dishes. Seafood is also very popular as an entrée or even a main course. Dessert is often a Pavlova coated with cream, strawberries and passionfruit or it can be a traditional English pudding with warm custard. Mince Pies, lollies and Christmas bonbons often decorate the table. Christmas lunch can often be a barbecue in the backyard or a picnic on a beach. As Christmas coincides with the Summer Holidays, quite often families will celebrate Christmas away from home.


The afternoon is usually spent relaxing and feeling quite
lethargic after such a huge lunch. The evening meal is generally leftovers from lunch (of which there are usually enough to last a couple of days) or we may go to our in-laws for dinner, visit friends or have friends over for a light meal.


The weather is variable at this time of year, it can be between 20 to 40 to 50 degrees depending on where in Australia you are.


The 26th of December (Boxing Day) is also a public holiday in Australia, this is one thing I really miss in France. Lucky my partner is from La Moselle so when we go back to mainland France, this traditions is also applied. In Australia, traditionally it was the day when servants received gifts from their superiors or employers known as a “Christmas Box”. Today throughout Australia, popular activities on this day include digesting the meal from the previous day (in other words, relaxing), going to the beach, braving the first day of Christmas Sales, watching the Melbourne cricket test match or the stunning start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race or just catching up with friends… for a drink.


Vocabulary:

Blaring - brûlant

Aussie - un/e australien/ne

Festivities - les fêtes

Catch up with - aller voir / retrouver

Warm - chaud


Silly season - période de Noel / Nouvel An 

Santa - Père Noël

Get going - démarrer 

To beckon - appeler

Cork - bouchon


Call in - passer

Turkey - dinde

Lamb - agneau

Side dishes - accompagnement 

Pavlova - gâteau australien


Custard - crème anglaise

Backyard - une cour arrière 

Huge - énorme 

Parents-in-law - beaux-parents 

Partner - mon ami/e


Servants - domestiques

In other words - autrement dit

To brave - affronter

Sales - les Soldes 

 

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