Are you snowed under?


All this winter weather is a great excuse to brush up on our  SNOW and ICE idioms:

January has come. We associate this time of year with new beginnings, but it can also be linked to a rise in depression, brought about by the cold and dark.  We go back to school and back to work.  Sometimes our work has been piling up over the holidays so when we return to the office we find we are snowed under (have too much work).

There are also a couple of useful idioms with the word ice.  Do you feel shy at parties?  Maybe you need to break the ice (make the atmosphere less awkward or feel less nervous). 

Perhaps you are taking too many risks. In this case you are skating on thin ice. Thin ice can break and you call fall through. 

Other winter idioms refer to relationships.  On cold winter mornings the ground is often covered by frost (ice).  If you meet someone and receive a frosty reception this means they are probably not too pleased to see you. Literal cold is often used to express figurative cold.

After winter comes the spring.  As temperatures increase, the snow begins to melt.  We call this the thaw.  In cold regions like Alaska or Siberia this is a great relief associated with new life and optimism.  Sometimes we talk about a thaw between countries when they forget their differences and try to establish good relations.

As the new years kicks off though, it's definitely worth staying on the right side of the law.  If you are caught robbing your local bank, the police might ask you to freeze. They probably aren't too concerned about your body temperature. What they want is for you to stop moving.  Futhermore, if the law suspects that your money has been earned illegally, they might decide to freeze your assets.  Just like a motionless bank robber, if you assets are frozen then they are not going anywhere.

Anyway, don't let the chilly (cold)  weather get you down.  Wrap up in a nice warm scarf, put your mittens on and go out there and enjoy yourself!

Christmas English. Are you a Scrooge?

Do you love Christmas or do you hate it? Either way you can't avoid it! perhaps you feel the same way as Ebeneezer Scrooge, the famous character from Charles Dickens' novel "A Christmas Carol". It took FOUR GHOSTS to get him to even think about celebrating this festive occasion!  Take this test to find out if you are a Scrooge!

Read the questions and answer A or B:

1:  When do you buy your Christmas presents?

a. I start buying them at least one or two months in advance. You can never be too prepared!

b. I pick up a couple of cheap gifts a day or two before Christmas Day.


2:  What is your ideal way to spend the Christmas holiday?

a.  I love large gatherings of friends and family!

b. Alone, with a large bottle of whisky, lying on the sofa.


3:  A group of children come over singing Christmas carols. Do you...

a. Welcome them in and hand out sweets?

b. Slam the door in their face?


4:  Your neighbours organize a Christmas party. Do you...

a. Join in the fun and get to know them?

b. Hide under the bed until it is over?


5:  It's Christmas Eve and time to leave out your stocking. Do you...

a. Leave out your best designer patterned stocking?

b. Grudgingly leave out a mouldy old sock with holes in it?


6:  How do you see in the New Year?

a.  You knock back a bottle of champagne while loudly singing "Auld Lang Syne"!

b. You have an early night with a hot-water bottle.


7:  What is your idea of a Christmas meal?

a.  Turkey (or goose) with all the trimmings!

b. Yesterday's leftover boiled vegetables.


8:  You wake up on New Year's Day. How do you feel?

a.  You have a splitting headache and a terrible hangover!  But hey, it was worth it!

b. Just the same as every day: grumpy and miserable.

Result:  If you answered mostly A then you are a PARTY ANIMAL. You love Christmas and everything it stands for! If you answered mainly B then I'm afraid you are nothing but an old Scrooge!  Cheer up, it's Christmas! Don't wait for the ghosts to pay you a visit!

Useful Christmas vocabulary:  

Gift =  present

Gathering = a large group of friends or family (SEE verb to gather)

Christmas Carols = traditional songs sung at this time of year.

Stocking = a item of clothing usually worn by women on their legs. 

Turkey = a large bird similar to a chicken.

To see in = to stay awake for the New Year

Now for a difficult word: Grudgingly!

If you do something grudgingly you do it unwillingly (or with negative feelings).





Phrasal Verbs and Idioms for the Beach!

Welcome to the summer!

Image result for jpg images beach

It's summer again and time to hit the beach as we bring you another list of useful phrasal verbs and idioms, this time related to the beach.

Hit the beach means to go to the beach.  You can also hit the water and hit the bars.

Are temperatures soaring where you are? It's time to cool off

Cool  off is a colloquial way of saying to become cooler, often by swimming or lying in the shade.

Are you going away this summer? Perhaps you want to get away from it all!

Go away is to leave.  To get away implies to escape, so if you get away from it all you are escaping the heat and stress of normal life to go somewhere nice.

Do you always check into a hotel at the same popular resort or do you go off the beaten track?

To go off the beaten track involves travelling somewhere where tourists don't tend to go. 

What do you do at the beach? Are you a beach bum or do you work out by running or doing water-sports?

A beach bum is a term that describes a lazy person who just hangs around the beach doing nothing in particular (except maybe hitting on members of the opposite sex!). 

Anyway, when  the summer is over, don't despair! You can always head back home and show off your tan!

To show off is just to boast about something or claim you are the best in something.

Image result for jpg images beach

Back to school!

Back to school!

Summer is almost over and autumn in LOOMING! You've packed your beach towels away and are facing the dreaded return: back to work, back to school, back to life!

In today's article we look at Phrasal Verbs and Idioms with back in them!  As we shall see, there are plenty!

Am I annoying you already?  Perhaps you could tell me to back off.

To back off = to leave someone in peace

Maybe you need someone to back you up (to support you).  Back up is also used with computers when you have a spare copy of something or a back-up. Police-officers can also call for back-up if they are  surrounded by dangerous criminals.  They want someone to support them:  "back-up, back-up!" can be heard from the police radio.

If these policemen or anyone else get scared of a situation they can always decide to back out of it. Maybe you had planned a mountain expedition but when you heard there were bears you backed out. To back out of something means to decide not to do something, often at the last minute and because you are scared or cautious. 

There are several interesting idioms with back. Here are a few:

To stab someone in the back = to attack someone by surprise before they can defend themselves. "John's best friend stabbed him in the back when he told his friends his secrets."

To be back in business = to return to something following a setback or a problem. "The team scored a goal so they are back in business."

The straw that broke the camel's back = The last of many bad things that have been building up over time and can no longer be tolerated. You may hear, "that's the last straw."

Ok, so I hope I haven't interrupted you. If you were doing something important then you can get back to it!


Key Aircraft Expressions!

As the weather starts to warm up and summer draws near, we start to think about heading off for a quick break abroad.  Inevitably this means trying to understand the special terminology used by pilots on board aircraft.

Unfortunately, aircraft announcements are often poor in terms of sound quality and to make matters worse, they often rely on very specific jargon. 

Anyway, here are the top ten expressions that  you need to know:

1:  “Please stow your hand-luggage in the overhead lockers above your head
This is often the first thing you hear upon entering the aircraft.  The verb “stow” is to put something
away.  It is rather uncommon as it  is used almost exclusively on ships and aircraft. If you want to travel free on a ship you can also become a “stowaway”. This is someone who hides in the ship's hold and travels for free!  The locker is the cupboard where you put the hand-luggage.

2:  “Fasten your seatbelts
To “fasten” means to connect the seatbelt to the seatbelt holder.  You will hear this before take-off.
3:  “Cabin crew prepare for take-off
The term “cabin-crew” refers to what used to be called “air-hostesses” in the past.  The term “air-hostess” only refers to women, though, so cabin-crew is used to include both men and women workers. 

4:  “There are two emergency exits located at the rear of the aircraft
In everyday English we usually use the word “back”. However, with vehicles we prefer the term “rear”.  It just means the back.

5:  “The cockpit
While you may not actually hear this term on the announcements, you should know it refers to the cabin where the pilot and copilot sit to control the plane.

6:  “Ladies remove high-heels
You will hear this during the instructions for using the emergency slide during an evacuation.  High heels are shoes that women often wear to elegant occasions. Because the heel is sharp, it can damage the inflatable slide.

7:  “Make sure your table is stowed and your arm-rest down
Again, this is a common announcement before landing.  “Stow” here means to push the table back in a vertical position. Your arm-rest is the place separating seats,  where you put your arms.

Are you ready for take-off?  Go and book that flight now!

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