Daily Archives: August 29, 2016

110 - My Cup of Tea - Slow

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My name’sCatharine and I have a confession to make. I’m a cliché. A walking cliché infact. I’m British and I only drink tea. 

When youlive in Reunion what do you have to do to get a decent cuppa? Well, it turns out quite a lot actually. Something that you takefor grantedwhen you grow up in Britain can become quite difficult once youlive abroad. 

Now Idon't want to make a storm in a teacup,but having spent twenty of the past twenty-five years living in Reunion thereare many things that I love about my adopted home, including some great foodand drink, but making tea is not a strong point on the island. 

There’sthe time I ordered tea with milk ina Saint-Denis café and was served a frothyconcoction in a teapot, with moremilk than tea. In a fancy west coast hotel I once ordered plain tea and wasbrought lemon tea. I was given the explanation that plain tea wasn’t served otherthan at breakfast time because it wasn’t, and I quote, classy enough. 

Anothertime in the south of the island after a Scottish-themed evening I requested myfavourite drink at the end of the meal, only to be told “do you think this isbreakfast here or what?”. And I’ve given up ordering thé gourmand in restaurants as I’m invariably served half a thimbleful of black,lukewarm flavoured tea. 

Newfriends who invite me to their house must find me rather rude as when they offer me a cuppa they’re often subjected to questioning aboutwhether they have a kettle, fresh milk, and mostimportantly, proper tea. 

Recentlywhen my elderly mother came to visitwe got into the habit of going on our outingswith a thermos and some teabags toensure that she got a decent cup whenever and wherever. I’m pretty sure we gotsome funny looks as we sipped ourrefreshment by the side of the road in Plaine des Gregues or Salazie. 

When Itravel I take the opportunity to visit tea plantations in various far-flungcorners of the globe, and enjoy bringing some tea back to savour on my return.However there can be problems elsewhere too, like the hot drink vendingmachines that use the same equipment to make tea and coffee, thus leaving youwith a revolting beverage that doesn’t know which drink it is! 

But forall the tea in China I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else than Reunion, and inrecent years I’ve seen some improvement.We do say in Britain that “where there’s tea there’s hope” – so here’s to a brilliant future for tea-making in Reunion!

Vocabulary

cuppa – ‘cup of’ tasse de
actually – en réalité
to take for granted – prendre pour acquis
abroad – à l’étranger
a storm in a teacup – tempête dans un verre d’eau 

to order - commander
frothy - mousseux
teapot - théière
thimble – dé à coudre
lukewarm - tiède 

rude - impoli
subjected to – assujetti
whether – si (oui ou non)
kettle - bouilloire
elderly - agé 

outings - sorties
teabags – sachets de thé
to sip - siroter
improvement - amélioration
hope - espoir

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110 - My Cup of Tea

Visit www.anglais.re for more!

My name’s Catharine and I have a confession to make. I’m a cliché. A walking cliché in fact. I’m British and I only drink tea. 

When you live in Reunion what do you have to do to get a decent cuppa? Well, it turns out quite a lot actually. Something that you take for granted when you grow up in Britain can become quite difficult once you live abroad. 

Now I don't want to make a storm in a teacup, but having spent twenty of the past twenty-five years living in Reunion there are many things that I love about my adopted home, including some great food and drink, but making tea is not a strong point on the island. 

There’s the time I ordered tea with milk in a Saint-Denis café and was served a frothy concoction in a teapot, with more milk than tea. In a fancy west coast hotel I once ordered plain tea and was brought lemon tea. I was given the explanation that plain tea wasn’t served other than at breakfast time because it wasn’t, and I quote, classy enough. 

Another time in the south of the island after a Scottish-themed evening I requested my favourite drink at the end of the meal, only to be told “do you think this is breakfast here or what?”. And I’ve given up ordering thé gourmand in restaurants as I’m invariably served half a thimbleful of black, lukewarm flavoured tea. 

New friends who invite me to their house must find me rather rude as when they offer me a cuppa they’re often subjected to questioning about whether they have a kettle, fresh milk, and most importantly, proper tea. 

Recently when my elderly mother came to visit we got into the habit of going on our outings with a thermos and some teabags to ensure that she got a decent cup whenever and wherever. I’m pretty sure we got some funny looks as we sipped our refreshment by the side of the road in Plaine des Gregues or Salazie. 

When I travel I take the opportunity to visit tea plantations in various far-flung corners of the globe, and enjoy bringing some tea back to savour on my return. However there can be problems elsewhere too, like the hot drink vending machines that use the same equipment to make tea and coffee, thus leaving you with a revolting beverage that doesn’t know which drink it is! 

But for all the tea in China I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else than Reunion, and in recent years I’ve seen some improvement. We do say in Britain that “where there’s tea there’s hope” – so here’s to a brilliant future for tea-making in Reunion!

Vocabulary

cuppa – ‘cup of’ tasse de
actually – en réalité
to take for granted – prendre pour acquis
abroad – à l’étranger
a storm in a teacup – tempête dans un verre d’eau 

to order - commander
frothy - mousseux
teapot - théière
thimble – dé à coudre
lukewarm - tiède 

rude - impoli
subjected to – assujetti
whether – si (oui ou non)
kettle - bouilloire
elderly - agé 

outings - sorties
teabags – sachets de thé
to sip - siroter
improvement - amélioration
hope - espoir

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109 - Welcome to Reunion! I Think…

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This story goes back a few years, January 2014 to be exact. A huge ice storm had just hit my hometown in Toronto. I’m talking fallen trees, power failures in -20 degree weather, and sadly, people freezing to deathMeanwhile, here in Reunion island we were facing some troubles of our own as cyclone Bejisa stormed through, knocking down trees and sending huge waves through the walls of houses along the coast.

My little sister, eighteen at the time, had planned her first vacation. First long plane ride, first time seeing the ocean, and second real trip away from Canada.  She had two planes to catch, one airport transfer by bus, thirty-six hours of travelling and she didn’t speak a word of French.  She was leaving from a cold, icy, Toronto without electricity and the plane was set to land in Reunion on the third of January 2014.  As some of you may remember this was just after Bejisa, so I was desperately trying to find a signal on my phone to find out if her flight had been delayed and for how long, trying to bail the ankle deep lake out of my car due to a broken window, and waiting for the roads to open.

Finally, Freedom Radio announced that the mountain road was open, so we put down a tarp on the seats, so my sister didn’t have to sit in a puddle, and hit the road.  Taking La Montagne to get to the airport right after a cyclone was a challenge to say the least, crossing waterfalls, fallen trees, and electrical lines.

Meanwhile my sister had been waiting for hours in St. Denis, after a very long flight and a lot of misinformation, she had no way of contacting me and no idea what was going on.  A look of relief swept over her when we finally pulled up in our soaking wet car. She kept her eyes open the whole way home, commenting on how beautiful our island is! All I could see was the mess that Bejisa had left.  

My sister can now look back with fond memories and remember her first day on the island, which she spent helping us collect hundreds of mangoes exploded all over our garden, sweeping leaves off the patio, and going to the beach to have a shower since we still didn’t have water.  And to top it all off, ten days after Bejisa EDF happily announced on the radio that there were less than five houses still waiting for electricity on the island, of course, our house happened to be one of those five but like my sister said “At least its not -20°C”.

Vocabulary

ice storm - tempête de glace
hometown - ville natale
power failure - coupure de courant
to freeze to death - crever de froid
meanwhile - pendant ce temps 

to knock down - faire tomber
waves - vagues
desperately - désespérément
signal - réseau
delayed - retardé 

to bail out - écoper
ankle deep - arriver jusqu’aux chevilles
due to - à cause de
tarp - bâche
puddle - flaque d’eau 

to hit the road - prendre la route
relief - soulagement
soaking - trempé
fond memories - bons souvenirs
to sweep - balayer

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68 - Taxing to Say the Least - Vocabulary

Taxing, to say the least.

 

My story starts in February, when I received my council tax. Actually, I received one, and my wife received one. Strange. As you know, council tax is based on a household, not a person, so to receive two council taxes to the same address is bizarre to say the least. I contacted the treasury in St Louis, and they recommended sending an email. Which I did.

 

Two months pass, and I receive a letter reminding me to pay my council tax. Stranger still, as we had already paid our tax. Well, one of them, of course. Once again I contacted the treasury in St Louis, and once again, they recommended I send an email. Which was swiftly done.

 

Then, on my birthday on July 25, I receive a letter saying that my bank account will be frozen, and the money I "owed", which was €1,300, would be taken from my account. Oh, FFS!! So early Monday morning, the wife and I take a morning off work to head to the tax office in St Pierre, documents in hand. After a long wait we meet with a representative. She explains that we were completely in the right, and she advised us to not pay the second council tax. She also contacted another department of the tax office that deals with account freezing, and told them to not freeze my account. I even called this department later on in the day, and they promised that the account wouldn't be frozen.

 

That was on a Monday, on Wednesday my account was frozen, and my bank charged me €110 for the pleasure. Annoyed, I spoke to somebody at the bank who informed me that nothing can be done about it, as the bank manager was on holiday until August 18, and nobody had the power to refund the stolen money.

 

I also queued up at the tax office in St Louis, to talk to a simple little man, who had the nerve to ask me "Why didn't you try to resolve this problem before?" Completely ignoring the print-outs of the emails I had sent in February and April. In fact, his response to each complaint I had was either, "That's your fault" or "I don't know". He said we should send an email with all the information on, to the tax office. Yes, another email.

 

French red tape is probably the worst I've ever had the misfortune of dealing with. It certainly doesn't help that the staff that I emailed didn't have the decency to respond to my many emails. Nor that the left hand had no interest in talking to the right hand.

 

Leaving the tax office in St Louis, I saw a plethora of posters advising people to "Simplify your life, do your taxes online." My advise to you, is to do everything in person, and with paper. Every time you talk to someone on the phone or in an office, take their name. Never send emails to them, as they seem incapable of opening them. Simplify your life, do your taxes right in their faces!

 

Vocabulary

 

council tax - tax d'habitation

actually - en fait

household - foyer

swiftly - rapidement

frozen - bloqué (congelé)

 

FFS - zute alors

departement - service

annoyed - agacé

resolve - résoudre

red tape - paperasserie

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108 - Why (did I stay in) Reunion?

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In a previous podcast I answered the question that so many people ask us native English speakers: ‘Why did you come to Reunion?’ For this week’s episode I’m going to answer a question which for me is much more important: ‘Why did you stay?’

Answering this is quite emotional, for I realize that, after sixteen years on the island, the reasons for staying have shaped my entire life. I would say there are two groups, the first being a list of quite specific points in no particular order:

The food, the beaches, snorkelling at Boucan, the outdoor lifestyle, the impossible blue of a cloudless Reunionese sky and the fact one can spend 10 months of the year wearing just a pair of shorts. Not at work, of course. What else? The amazing people who have become my friends and the hardworking colleagues and clients with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work, and the warm and open population.

The second group of reasons is more general – here’s my top three in ascending order:

Number 3) People born in Reunion grow up with this stunning surrounding scenery, but I often feel it’s important to point out just how phenomenal, outstanding and singular the geographical relief of the island really is. Looking out across Mafate from Le Maido, the volcano from Oratoire St Therese or Cilaos from Le Piton des Neiges are privileged moments which make me feel at one with nature and truly alive. These are feelings that I have rarely had in England or Mainland France.

Number 2) Much like the landscape, some fail to realize just how unique it is that a place in the world exists where people of all races and religions live together, not only peacefully but also with mutual respect. This makes Reunion a fantastic place for children to grow up, and the fact that my children, two little ‘Portoises’, have had this opportunity will help to make them tolerant and accepting human beings.

And number 1) I guess that big cities where I have lived such as London, Paris and Valparaiso (in Chile) seem so impressive and awesome at first, but this doesn’t mean that choosing to live in Reunion is an easy alternative. As they say, size is not important – big cities soon lose their attraction and the awe turns to boredom. People have asked me if I feel claustrophobic on a small island. In reply, I ask ‘how far away is your horizon? Can you see past the next building?’ I’ve been either hiking or mountain-running at least once a month for all these years, and there are still loads of footpaths left for me to discover…

Which I guess brings me to my conclusion: living on Reunion is a constant adventure, and isn’t that exactly what we all wish from life?

Vocabulary

to answer - répondre
native English speakers - Anglophones
to realize - se rendre compte
to shape - façonner
snorkelling - palmes-masque-tuba 

outdoor - extérieur
hardworking - bosseur
ascending - croissant
stunning - époustouflant
outstanding - remarquable             

at one - en symbiose
landscape - paysage
peacefully - paisiblement
to grow up - grandir
human beings - êtres humains 

impressive - impressionnant
awesome - formidable
awe - admiration
boredom - ennui
hikling - randonner 

footpaths - sentiers
to wish - souhaiter

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107 - The Road - Vocabulary

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Getting into the car in the morning I felt nervous. I’d done this before but I couldn’t help feeling this way. The two women in the car seemed relatively relaxed however, they had been doing this for the past year so I presume they were used to it. How bad could it be? It was September, I had just started my new job in Cilaos, I was car sharing with two colleagues, and we were about to take the Cilaos road.

The first time I took the Cilaos road was back in 2013 when I spent a relaxing weekend with my family at one of the local hotels. Since we wanted to enjoy the view I took my time, and stopped at the many view points scattered along the way. The weekend was really special, great food in the evening, a comfortable bed, and waking up bright and early in the morning to freezing temperatures. My eldest daughter loved seeing her breath hanging in the air, and my wife was dressed up like she was on an Arctic expedition. Sunday morning was spent walking around the town and the lake, visiting the shops and drinking hot beverages in the local café. Cilaos is a beautiful, magical town. The Cilaos road can be lovely, it just depends how fast you are driving.

Back in the car with my colleagues, we set off, we were in a rush because one of them was late that morning. The first fifteen minutes of the expedition was alright, but when it came to the twisted, narrow cliff-side roads my stomach began to churn. For some reason I was thinking of my breakfast, and what it must look like now all mixed up inside of me. My mouth began to water, my cheeks felt heavy. Bend after bend, things became worse. I tried to look at the mountains, to enjoy the view as I did so many years ago, but to no avail. I was going to vomit.

Inaugurated in 1932, the Cilaos road is an unforgettable experience. Locally famous for its four hundred bends and special driving laws. If you’re going to take this road, remember these four rules: Beep before a blind turn, always let the car behind you overtake, beep to say thank you to someone who pulled over to let you pass, and blow plumes of black exhaust smoke on the drivers who did not obey the first three rules.

 

I arrived at the local middle school with my two colleagues with ample time to prepare my lessons. I didn’t vomit, but I came very close. Apparently years of taking this road had given my companions’ lead-lined stomachs. I spent the day working, and preparing myself for the difficult drive back. Only eight more months to go… 

Vocabulary

nervous - inquiet
however - cependant
to be used to - avoir l’habitude de
to car share - faire du covoiturage
scattered - dispersé 

to hang - suspendre
to be in a rush - être pressé
twisted - tordu
narrow - étroit
to churn - faire tourner 

mixed up - mélangé
to water - mouiller
bend - virage
to no avail - en vain
to beep - klaxonner

blind - aveugle
to overtake - dépasser
to pull over - se ranger sur le coté
to blow - souffler
lead-lined - doublé de plomb

00:0000:00

107 - The Road - Slow

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Getting into the car in the morning I felt nervous. I’d done this before but I couldn’t help feeling this way. The two women in the car seemed relatively relaxed however, they had been doing this for the past year so I presume they were used to it. How bad could it be? It was September, I had just started my new job in Cilaos, I was car sharing with two colleagues, and we were about to take the Cilaos road.

The first time I took the Cilaos road was back in 2013 when I spent a relaxing weekend with my family at one of the local hotels. Since we wanted to enjoy the view I took my time, and stopped at the many view points scattered along the way. The weekend was really special, great food in the evening, a comfortable bed, and waking up bright and early in the morning to freezing temperatures. My eldest daughter loved seeing her breath hanging in the air, and my wife was dressed up like she was on an Arctic expedition. Sunday morning was spent walking around the town and the lake, visiting the shops and drinking hot beverages in the local café. Cilaos is a beautiful, magical town. The Cilaos road can be lovely, it just depends how fast you are driving.

Back in the car with my colleagues, we set off, we were in a rush because one of them was late that morning. The first fifteen minutes of the expedition was alright, but when it came to the twisted, narrow cliff-side roads my stomach began to churn. For some reason I was thinking of my breakfast, and what it must look like now all mixed up inside of me. My mouth began to water, my cheeks felt heavy. Bend after bend, things became worse. I tried to look at the mountains, to enjoy the view as I did so many years ago, but to no avail. I was going to vomit.

Inaugurated in 1932, the Cilaos road is an unforgettable experience. Locally famous for its four hundred bends and special driving laws. If you’re going to take this road, remember these four rules: Beep before a blind turn, always let the car behind you overtake, beep to say thank you to someone who pulled over to let you pass, and blow plumes of black exhaust smoke on the drivers who did not obey the first three rules.

 

I arrived at the local middle school with my two colleagues with ample time to prepare my lessons. I didn’t vomit, but I came very close. Apparently years of taking this road had given my companions’ lead-lined stomachs. I spent the day working, and preparing myself for the difficult drive back. Only eight more months to go… 

Vocabulary

nervous - inquiet
however - cependant
to be used to - avoir l’habitude de
to car share - faire du covoiturage
scattered - dispersé 

to hang - suspendre
to be in a rush - être pressé
twisted - tordu
narrow - étroit
to churn - faire tourner 

mixed up - mélangé
to water - mouiller
bend - virage
to no avail - en vain
to beep - klaxonner

blind - aveugle
to overtake - dépasser
to pull over - se ranger sur le coté
to blow - souffler
lead-lined - doublé de plomb

00:0000:00

107 - The Road

Visit www.anglais.re for more!

Getting into the car in the morning I felt nervous. I’d done this before but I couldn’t help feeling this way. The two women in the car seemed relatively relaxed however, they had been doing this for the past year so I presume they were used to it. How bad could it be? It was September, I had just started my new job in Cilaos, I was car sharing with two colleagues, and we were about to take the Cilaos road.

The first time I took the Cilaos road was back in 2013 when I spent a relaxing weekend with my family at one of the local hotels. Since we wanted to enjoy the view I took my time, and stopped at the many view points scattered along the way. The weekend was really special, great food in the evening, a comfortable bed, and waking up bright and early in the morning to freezing temperatures. My eldest daughter loved seeing her breath hanging in the air, and my wife was dressed up like she was on an Arctic expedition. Sunday morning was spent walking around the town and the lake, visiting the shops and drinking hot beverages in the local café. Cilaos is a beautiful, magical town. The Cilaos road can be lovely, it just depends how fast you are driving.

Back in the car with my colleagues, we set off, we were in a rush because one of them was late that morning. The first fifteen minutes of the expedition was alright, but when it came to the twisted, narrow cliff-side roads my stomach began to churn. For some reason I was thinking of my breakfast, and what it must look like now all mixed up inside of me. My mouth began to water, my cheeks felt heavy. Bend after bend, things became worse. I tried to look at the mountains, to enjoy the view as I did so many years ago, but to no avail. I was going to vomit.

Inaugurated in 1932, the Cilaos road is an unforgettable experience. Locally famous for its four hundred bends and special driving laws. If you’re going to take this road, remember these four rules: Beep before a blind turn, always let the car behind you overtake, beep to say thank you to someone who pulled over to let you pass, and blow plumes of black exhaust smoke on the drivers who did not obey the first three rules.

I arrived at the local middle school with my two colleagues with ample time to prepare my lessons. I didn’t vomit, but I came very close. Apparently years of taking this road had given my companions’ lead-lined stomachs. I spent the day working, and preparing myself for the difficult drive back. Only eight more months to go… 

Vocabulary

nervous - inquiet
however - cependant
to be used to - avoir l’habitude de
to car share - faire du covoiturage
scattered - dispersé 

to hang - suspendre
to be in a rush - être pressé
twisted - tordu
narrow - étroit
to churn - faire tourner 

mixed up - mélangé
to water - mouiller
bend - virage
to no avail - en vain
to beep - klaxonner

blind - aveugle
to overtake - dépasser
to pull over - se ranger sur le coté
to blow - souffler
lead-lined - doublé de plomb

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