link to Inter-Bridge.biz

My company teaches English face-to-face or over Skype. See my website: www.inter-bridge.biz

Monday, 21 April 2014

296: A tale of two tables

Today is Easter Monday here in UK. It is what we call a Bank Holiday so many shops and businesses are closed. Larger shops are open and often hold special sales to attract customers in through their doors. I'm not a big fan of shopping but today I might make an exception as I'm on the hunt for a new computer for the house - the current one is on its last legs.
The two pictures here are for quite different occasions. The one on the left shows a table in my house set out for Easter and the one on the right a table at my sister's house laden with birthday cards.

By coincidence Russian Пасха and English Easter fall on the same weekend this year. This rarely happens as the dates for Easter are calculated using different calendars (Julian and Gregorian). 
The origins of the two words are quite different too. 
The Russian пасха (paskha) comes from the Jewish word Pasque which means Passing with Christ to the other life. This day people greet each other with the words “Christ is risen” (Khristos voskres) and get a reply of “Indeed risen” (Voistinu voskres). After that it is a custom to hug and kiss three times, symbolising belief, hope and love. Russian Easter foods include Kulich (Russian Easter Bread), Paskha (dish made of cottage cheese, raisins and nuts) and eggs. In Russia, there is no custom of chocolate eggs or bunnies. We colour real eggs for the celebration. (My thanks to "Natasha from Russia" 's facebook entry for this explanation of Easter). 
In UK, the feast day of Easter was originally a celebration of renewal and rebirth in honour of Eastre the pagan Saxon Goddess of Spring.  When the early missionaries converted the Saxons to Christianity the holiday, since it fell around the same time as the traditional memorial of Christ's resurrection from the dead, was merged with the pagan celebration.

Today Russia celebrates Easter. It is one of the most important Russian holidays. Easter is called Paskha in Russian. It comes from Jewish word Pasque which means Passing with Christ to the other life. This day people greet each other with the words “Christ is risen” (Khristos voskres) and get a reply of “Indeed risen” (Voistinu voskres). After that it is a custom to hug and kiss three times, symbolising belief, hope and love.

Russian Easter foods include Kulich (Russian Easter Bread), Paskha (dish made of cottage cheese, raisins and nuts) and eggs. In Russia, there is no custom of chocolate eggs or bunnies. We colour real eggs for the celebration. The common way of colouring is by using an onion peal.

For today's video I have chosen a clip of Chris de Burgh singing Moonlight and Vodka. I hadn't heard this song before until it was pointed out by one of my students - thank you Anton.




Wednesday, 9 April 2014

295: Skating on thin ice & beautification

Skating on thin ice is an English idiom that means doing something (dangerous) that involves risk. The fishermen here certainly seem to be doing something dangerous that involves risk. It's impossible to understand their mentality. The sign says "caution - thin ice"!!! And there they are crouching a bit like Rodin's "the thinker".


Now the snow has almost disappeared armies of migrant workers are out cleaning Moscow's parks and gardens ready for planting instant grass and countless thousands of daffodils. Before the May day holidays the city will be transformed. From grey (note the British English spelling) to green.

And for a video clip? Tulips from Amsterdam? That's what I was looking for but I stumbled across this little gem (?) instead: "British popular community singalong - 40 tunes with lyrics" - many popular from about the time of the 2nd World War and some even earlier. Love it. Good to listen to whenever you're feeling maudlin!

Friday, 4 April 2014

294: Pluses and minuses - the tipping point

Everything in life has pluses and minuses attached to it. When the minuses significantly outweigh the pluses a tipping point has been reached and it becomes necessary to change that particular element of your life, perhaps by changing jobs, or location, or both.
Today's big minus struck my olfactory organ as soon as I walked in the flat this afternoon. The smell of urine was, and still is, overpowering. Periodically the dog of the upstairs neighbour (at least I'm assuming it's a dog!!) pees on the kitchen floor. Somehow it drains down through their floor onto my window sill and then onto my kitchen floor. The picture only shows a small puddle because I've already cleaned it up once. It will take time and lots of mopping up to rid the flat of the foul stench.


I've spoken to the landlord who shrugged his shoulders and said it happens from time to time. They've spoken to the neighbour on several occasions but it doesn't stop it happening. Thanks!
The next minus is the weather, not that anything can be done about that of course. We had a lot of snow earlier in the week but most of it has disappeared, leaving just a patchwork kind of effect on the ground.
Photo: 1 апреля...
Ну и что это за фигня?!
from a friend's FB entry earlier this week.
how quickly it melts
But it's snowing again now, even as I write this. Everybody will be glad when winter finally leaves us and we see some extended sunshine.
Talking about sunshine, I've booked a week on the Costa Brava at the end of June. I want to investigate whether there is a market to teach hotel staff to speak Russian and Russian holidaymakers to speak English. And to soak up the sun myself, of course. Perhaps the beginnings of an exit strategy for when the tipping point is finally reached.
On the plus side, and there are still lots of pluses, is the kindness and generosity of the Russian people. Look at this beautiful porcelain tea service I was given yesterday as a birthday present.

I've got to follow that picture of the tea service with Bernard Cribbins' 1962 song "Right said Fred". Nice animation too!