Category Archives: Learning English

A more relaxed 2020 summer

As the title says this summer has been pretty chilled out. These bees in the peach tree were stressed out looking for a new home. They left after 3 days.

We are now in September and still very hot. This about nine a.m, once the sun comes up. The nights are pleasantly cool.

Here’s what been going on in July and August. It’s generally been too hot to work outside during the day. You have to start very early to work comfortably in the field. Unfortunately I still can’t wake early enough. But it’s not been bad. I am okay with my performance :). I am also learning new stuff and looking for alternative types of work which I can do – part-time.

Starting with the Mango tree.

Mango, algarve, Belnonte, Kent variety, manga D'algarve
Kent variety

This had been growing promisingly in a pot for the last two years. It’s of the Kent variety. This year it gave me a mango which wasn’t bad. But then disaster. Suddenly the growing tips shriveled and died and now all the leaves have dropped off. I think I may have not irrigated it properly for a few days during this very hot summer. Fortunately, it seems to be recovering.

Grapes.

One of the vines planted back in 2017 finally gave me grapes. Good ones :). They are of the Italia variety.

Nashi pear.

nashi pear, nashi pera, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira

I have two of these. This year one of them has given me over a dozen good pears. The biggest was the size of a tennis ball. The are very sweet when sun ripened. Some type of insect seems fond of them too and I think it lays it eggs inside as the puncture leads to the core. I need to address this to increase next year’s yield.nashi pera, nashi pear, Belmonte, Algarve, Luz de Tavira

I have had about half a dozen tomato plants that grew well and gave me a couple good size tomatoes at the end of July.

sun rioened tomatoes, Belmonte, Juz de Tavira, algarve

Planted some more in August which are still quite small and only just beginning to flower. I have to be more pro active and really make more of an effort to grow more vegetables. I planted onions in August but they didn’t take.

I have sweet potato now given to me by a nice Swedish lady. We picked carobs and almonds together. This year the carobs have a good price backed by the Government initiative to support local producers. It was €12 for 15 kg. As good as almonds were last year.

carobs, alfaroba, Belnonte, Luz de Tavira

The dogs are well. Bonji is on heat so I have to keep her locked in. I let her have a week of fun. I plan on getting her spayed soon. I take Peeps with me when I go out including cockling. She likes the excursions :). cockle, berbigão, Fuseta, Torre de Aires, Ria Formosa, Algarve

The kayaking has been good for me this summer. I still haven’t been fishing due to lack of proper bait.

Olives.

oliveiras para vender, olive trees for sale, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira
Olive trees for sale

Irrigating the olives at the bottom via a hose pipe is time consuming but they have grown well. Some of them have even got a few olives on them. I hope to sell some of them and transplant the rest around my property.

Renewable energy, Solar PV, battery bank , lead acid, Algarve

My solar P.V. system is non functional at the moment. My lead acid battery bank is exhausted and was getting seriously over charged by the charge controller which is a simple PWM (pulse width modulation ) type. I didn’t realise that this type of charge controller dumps all the current from the solar panel array into the batteries! It depends on the battery voltage to cut-off. You cannot use it to charge an individual depleted battery from a large PV array. The battery boils, gets very hot and has a good chance of exploding. This is what was happening as the batteries aged and their capacity to store charge diminished. The charge controller continued put the now excessive amount of current into them causing the batteries to seriously overheat, the electrolyte evaporate and the plates to buckle . This leads to rapid complete battery failure.

So I am working on a replacement plan. That’s all for now. Until next time!

Exercise with Tenses

Upper Intermediate Level Exercise with Tenses

    Write in the correct tense, using the tenses from the list below. For example, John has always travelled Tense?_present perfect a lot. You can abbreviate continuous with cont

    simple present
    present perfect
    present continuous
    present perfect continuous
    simple past
    past perfect
    past continuous
    past perfect continuous
    simple future
    future perfect
    future continuous
    future perfect continuous
    future intention

    1.John has always travelled Tense?____________a lot. In fact, when he was Tense? ____________ only two years old when he first flew Tense?
    ____________ to the US. His mother is Tense? ____________ Italian and his father is Tense? ____________ American. John was born Tense? ____________ in France, but his parents had met Tense? ____________ in Cologne, Germany after they had been living Tense? ____________ there for five years. They met Tense? ____________ one day while John’s father was reading Tense? ____________ a book in the library and his mother sat down Tense? ____ beside him. Anyway, John travels Tense? ____________ a lot because his parents also travel Tense? ____________ a lot.

2.As a matter of fact, John is visiting Tense?____________ his parents in France at the moment. He lives Tense? ____________ in New York now, but has been visiting Tense? ____________his parents for the past few weeks. He really enjoys Tense? ____________ living in New York, but he also loves Tense?____________ coming to visit his parents at least once a year.

3.This year he has flown Tense? ____________ over 50,000 miles for his job. He has been working Tense? ____ for Jackson & Co. for almost two years now. He’s Tense? ____________ pretty sure that he’ll be working Tense? ____________ for them next year as well. His job requires Tense? ____________ a lot of travel. In fact, by the end of this year, he’ll have travelled Tense? ____________ over 120,000 miles! His next journey will be Tense? ____________ to Australia. He really doesn’t like Tense? ____________ going to Australia because it is so far. This time he is going to fly Tense? ____from Paris after a meeting with the company’s French partner. He’ll have been sitting Tense? ____________ for over 18 hours by the time he arrives!

4.John was talking Tense? ____________ with his parents earlier this evening when his girlfriend from New York telephoned Tense? ____________ to let him know that Jackson & Co. had decided Tense? ____________ to merge with a company in Australia. The two companies had been negotiating Tense? ____________ for the past month, so it really wasn’t Tense? ____________ much of a surprise. Of course, this means Tense? ____________ that John will have to catch Tense? ____________ the next plane back to New York. He’ll be meeting Tense? ____________ with his boss at this time tomorrow.

5.John has always travelled Tense?____________ a lot. In fact, when he was Tense? ____________ only two years old when he first flew Tense? ____________ to the US. His mother is Tense? ____________ Italian and his father is Tense?____________ American. John was born Tense? ____________ in France, but his parents had met Tense? ____________ in Cologne, Germany after they had been living Tense? ____ there for five years. They met Tense? ____________ one day while John’s father was reading Tense? ____________ a book in the library and his mother sat down Tense? ____________ beside him. Anyway, John travels Tense? ____________ a lot because his parents also travel Tense? ____________ a lot.

6.As a matter of fact, John is visiting Tense? ____________ his parents in France at the moment. He lives Tense? ____ in New York now, but has been visiting Tense? ____________his parents for the past few weeks. He really enjoys Tense? ____________ living in New York, but he also loves Tense? ____________ coming to visit his parents at least once a year.

7.This year he has flown Tense? ____________ over 50,000 miles for his job. He has been working Tense? ____ for Jackson & Co. for almost two years now. He’s Tense? ____________ pretty sure that he’ll be working Tense? ____________ for them next year as well. His job requires Tense? ____________ a lot of travel. In fact, by the end of this year, he’ll have travelled Tense? ____________ over 120,000 miles! His next journey will be Tense? ____________ to Australia. He really doesn’t like Tense? ____________ going to Australia because it is so far. This time he is going to fly Tense? ____________from Paris after a meeting with the company’s French partner. He’ll have been sitting Tense? ____________ for over 18 hours by the time he arrives!

8.John was talking Tense? ____________ with his parents earlier this evening when his girlfriend from New York telephoned Tense? ____________ to let him know that Jackson & Co. had decided Tense? ____________ to merge with a company in Australia. The two companies had been negotiating Tense? ____________ for the past month, so it really wasn’t Tense? ____ much of a surprise. Of course, this means Tense? ____________ that John will have to catch Tense? ____________ the next plane back to New York. He’ll be meeting Tense? ____________ with his boss at this time tomorrow.

Answers

Bi-lingual puns

What is a pun? A pun is the humorous use of a word to suggest another that sounds the same.

E.g
Speaker A: ‘Aren’t those plane trees over there?
Speaker B: ‘Why, Their bark looks quite patterned to me’ (said with a big grin).

We often use puns to make our conversations humorous and to demonstrate our skills at wordplay to either to raise our perceived social standing or less kindly to put someone down.

That we frequently use puns or come across puns or use puns in our conversations is a given. What I would like to contest is that is bi-lingual/tri-lingual speakers etc are more literally creative than mono-lingual speakers in some way because the can they can create bi-lingual puns.

I heard two university professors at a Indian university claim this and heard the pity in their voices for mono-lingual speakers. They claim that usage of bi-lingual puns require the speaker to know the word in both languages which is fair enough. However having a matchings words doesn’t in itself make a good pun. There must be clever humour behind it. This is highly valued my native British english speakers.

Here are three puns that are guaranteed to make a native english speaker smile.

1) Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

2) Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

3) Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

Here is a bi-lingual pun that educated Indians find very funny.
Speaker A: When would Mickey Mouse write the Ramayana?
Speaker B: When he was a Valmiki.

Valmiki was the Hindu sage who wrote Raymana and so here the allusion that Mickey Mouse is a Valmiki whenever his poster is on the wall etc.

Bi-lingual Indians apparently find this very funny. Sorry guys, I just do not find it funny. I am sure forethought went into it to make the connection between Wall Mickey and the Valmiki but you have to stretch the words to much especially since one is pronounced with a ‘v’ sound and the other with a ‘w’. And it just got worse the more of them I listened to.

I am not convinced that bi-lingual Hindi-English puns are in anyway superior to mono-lingual British english puns. In fact I would argue the other way as English puns have to be delivered with grammatical and perfect pronunciation to work.

On a closing note, maybe Samuel Lee Jackson was right when he said that a pun is the lowest form of humour.

Getting to grips with articles

Articles in the English Language.

The three most common articles in English are a, an and the.

A and an are indefinite  articles.

the is a definite article.

To explain  indefinite in simple terms, it means the noun that the article precedes is not know to the audience/recipient of the sentence. For example  in the sentence ‘A cat sat on the wall.’ we have no idea which cat on the wall,, only that is was a cat.

We use the article the in front of a noun if the noun has been mentioned before in the conversation or the audience/recipient knows

which particular person/object is being spoken about. For example, ‘The house on the left’.

Rules for using articles.

Definite Article A and An

Use a in front of nouns that begin with a vowel but which sound like they begin with a consonant. For example: a user (sounds like ‘yoo-zer,’ i.e. begins with a consonant ‘y’ sound, so ‘a’ is used); a university; a unicycle.

Use an in from of nouns that have a silent h for example. an hour, an heiress. An exception is the word historical.

If the noun is modified by an adjective, the choice between a and an depends on the initial sound of the adjective that immediately follows the article. For example::

a broken egg
an unusual problem
a European country (sounds like ‘yer-o-pi-an,’ i.e. begins with consonant ‘y’ sound)

Indefinite Article The

The definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular. For example: ‘The cat that scratched me ran away’ Here we are referring to a specific cat, that is the particular cat that scratched me.

‘The girls go home by bus.’ Here we are referring to a specific group of girls who go home by bus.

Use the when referring to islands, groups of states, names of rivers,forests,gulfs,points on the globe and geographical areas. For example ‘The Bahamas’, ‘The United States of America’, ‘The West’.

Exercise

Pull in the correct articles a, an or the where necessary, in the following sentences.

  1. hamster is better pet that mouse.
  2. dog that bit me was brown with white spots.
  3. Rome is capital of Italy.
  4. visit by the President was historical occasion.
  5. Seychelles islands are tropical paradise.
  6. boy loved friendly elephant at zoo and gave elephant apple.
  7. man and woman make a couple.
  8. Amazon is mighty river.
  9. Gulf of Mexico is rather warm.

Robin Hood

rhoodpaint

The Story of Robin Hood.

Who was Robin Hood?  Some say he was a simple peasant who due to the tyranny of the Sheriff of Nottingham and the nobles in charge fled into the woods and  lived the life of an out-law there. Other tales say that Robin Hood was the nobleman , Sir Richard of Loxley who upon returning to England from the crusades found his lands confiscated and the peasants being treated unjustly by the Sheriff of Nottingham and the nobles while Prince John sat on the throne.  Prince John was looking after England while his brother King Richard was away.

Guy of Gisbourne was a noble who treated the peasants particularly harshly by increasing their taxes and severely punishing those who could not pay.  All with the blessing of the sheriff.

Fleeing from arrest, Robin went into hiding in the forest where he encountered a band of outlaws under the leadership of little John who was anything but little in size. Robin Hood challenged Little John to a duel with poles in the middle of the a crossing point of a river. The men fought whilst keeping their balance on the slippery rocks. After exchanging many a blow and deft footwork, Robin managed to knock Little John off his stepping stone and into the river. This won him the respect of this band of outlaws who invited Robin Hood to join them.

Robin’s leadership skills soon became apparently and he was asked by the men to lead them. Robin organised them into a effective force complete with their legendary green livery. Soon no nobleman was safe passing through Sherwood forest. Robin Hood gave the wealth he and his men got from these noblemen and merchants to the peasants in the surrounding villages. This made him very popular with the peasants and a very wanted man by the sheriff. As Robin’s popularity grew so did the size of his band of followers as more men and women came  to join him.

Robin Hood asked the peasants not to lose hope and promised that justice would return to the land once King Richard returned.

One day Robin captured a friar ,who was rather plump and very fond of food and wine.  Robin was
incensed at the greed of the fellow and made the friar him carry him on his
back. This friar was  Friar Tuck. After being kept by the outlaws to
say Sunday Mass and help with other spiritual matters, Friar Tuck decided to join them and became a very valued member of the band of merry men.

That just leaves Maid Marion. Marion was a noble woman who was promised to be
wedded to Sir Guy of Gisbourne. Yes, that wicked nobleman. Luckily for her she
and her entourage were attacked and robbed as they passed through the forest
by Robin and his men. Maid Marion was kept a captive by Robin for a short while. Love blossomed between the two of them. Robin let Marion return to Nottingham where she managed to evade the attentions of Sir Guy until King Richard returned to England, punished the Sheriff and pardoned all the outlaws.

Marion and Robin then wed and lived happily ever after.  🙂