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Category Archives: travel

By MichaelMaggs (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever dreamed of running a bookshop? You can have a go for a week at the Open Book Store in Wigton, Scotland. In fact, if you book a holiday at the self-catering flat on Airbnb, you also have to work for 40 hours in the bookshop downstairs. A week in the flat costs £150. You won’t get paid for working, but you can use your own creative ideas to sell books and gain valuable experience. Wigton is Scotland’s national book town and this new venture is attracting interest from all over the world.

Have a conversation:

Would you like to run or work in a Book shop? Why/ why not?                                                                                         

Listen below or listen on i-tunes here

Read by Helen Mitchell (from Lancashire, England)

Study the words

running- managing

have a go- try

gain- obtain

self-catering flat- a holiday apartment with a kitchen

venture- project



Few people would choose a prison as the location for a special evening out. However, Italy has launched its first restaurant to be located in a real jail.  At the Ingalera Restaurant in Bollate prison, Milan, there are four prisoners working as waiters and five others cooking in the kitchen, headed by a professional chef and a maître. It is a ground-breaking project, which allows prisoners to be gradually included into society. The reataurant has had great reviews: everyone says the food is worth going to prison for.

Have a Conversation:

Have you ever been inside a prison?

Would you like to try this restaurant?

Listen below or listen on i-tunes here

Read by Ines Reynoso (from Mexico).

Study the words

Few- not many
Lauched- started
Jail- prison
Waiters- people who serve in a restaurant
Headed- led
ground-breaking- innovative
gradually- slowly
reviews- evaluations by customers
worth going to prison for- so good that you don’t mind going to prison
Read about this story in The New York Times


By Azotoliquido (Own work) [GFDL (

Are you looking for a holiday home in Italy? Why not buy a home in the picturesque town of Gangi for one Euro? This offer may seem too good to be true, but there’s a catch: you have to promise to renovate the property within three years and this could cost you €20,000. Gangi’s mayor came up with the idea to put some life back into the Sicilian town. Poverty caused many inhabitants to leave after World War II. The idea is attracting interest from all over the world.  Would you buy one of these homes?                                                                                              NEW: TINY TEXTS VOCAB CHALLENGE CARDS

Listen below

Read by Crissy Faita (Canadian accent)

Study the words

Picturesque- pretty
Too good to be true– unrealistic, unbelievable
Catch- a slight problem
Renovate- repair and restore
Within- during this time
Came up with- thought of
Poverty- poor economic conditions

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test: An Italian Holiday Home for One Euro.

The statue of the Duke of Wellington outside t...

The statue of the Duke of Wellington outside the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art in Glasgow, Scotland, with a traffic cone on his head.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The people of Glasgow have managed to convince the city council not to kill off a much-loved tradition.  For years, locals have repeatedly placed a traffic cone on the Duke of Wellington’s head  (on a statue of the Duke on his horse). The council complained that it cost £100 a time to have the cone removed and revealed plans to raise the statue to stop people from climbing up.   The people responded by launching a petition, which gathered 10,613 signatures in less than 24 hours.  The petition organizers said ‘The cone on Wellington’s head is an iconic part of Glasgow’s heritage.

Listen below

Read by Claire (English accent).

Read by Annette ( Scottish accent)

Study the words

Kill off– end
Repeatedly– over and over again
Complained– said they were not happy
Raise– lift, make higher
Launch a petition– collect a list of signatures to protest against something
Gathered– collected
Iconic– famous, representative
Heritage– culture

Strange things happen in Glasgow…

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test: Glasgow Keeps its Cone

 Related articles

English: Glencoe valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Ferris Wheel and Margate Beach

English: Ferris Wheel and Margate Beach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CNN has chosen Scotland as this year’s best tourist destination. The dramatic scenery from the film ‘Skyfall’ has made people wish to see it for themselves. Lonely Planet, on the other hand, suggests Rio, Brazil as the best value option. They recommend going there before prices rise for the 2014 World cup and 2016 Olympic Games.

The Rough Guide hotlist number one is Stockholm, in Sweden where the official ABBA museum is set to open shortly. Other suggestions include Dubrovnik, Porto Rico and surprisingly, the English seaside town of Margate. So what’s your must-see destination for this year?

Listen below

Read by Cynthia Jones (North American/Canadian accent)

Study the words

Dramatic– stunning, beautiful
Wish– desire
On the other hand– on the contrary
Best value– most for your money
Recommend– suggest
Rise– go up
Hotlist– list of top destinations
Set to– planned to
Shortly– soon
Surprisingly– unexpectedly
Must-see– top, number one choice 

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test:  Best Holiday Destinations 2013

Mount Rtanj

A mystic mountain in Serbia is becoming a popular destination for people who believe that the world will end on December 21st.  Hotels at its base are being inundated with booking requests.  The mountain is pyramid-shaped and many people believe that it conceals a building left behind by alien visitors thousands of years ago.  They say that it emits a special energy that could protect them from the apocalypse.  Scholars of Mayan civilisation say that people have wrongly interpreted the Mayan calendar and that the world will not be destroyed. However, this has not stopped fears from spreading.


Read by Annette (Scottish Accent)

Study the words

Mystic– magical
Inundated– made very busy
Conceals– contains, covers
Left behind– forgotten
Emits– produces
Scholars– researchers
Wrongly– incorrectly
Destroyed– ruined
Spreading– growing and becoming more extensive

Do the takeaway test: Apocalypse Believers head for Mystic Mountain

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to itunes podcast) here

During their recent visit to New Zealand, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla were given a crash course in all things Kiwi (that’s a nickname for anything which originates from New Zealand, like the Kiwi bird).  The royal couple met indigenous Maori and Charles said “Kia ora”, a traditional Maori  greeting.  Camilla tried to do a “hongi”, another traditional greeting in which two people press their noses together. She had some difficulty because she was wearing a very large hat.  The couple also attended a children’s show starring Hairy Maclary, a fictional dog.  The only disappointment for the prince was that he didn’t have time to try another two Kiwi inventions: zorbing and bungee jumping.

Listen below

Read by Anna (New Zealand accent)

Read by Paul (New Zealand accent)

Study the words

crash course–  rapid and intense training
nickname–  a familiar name used instead of the real name
indigenous– originating from that country
greeting–  salutation
attended–  were present at
starring–  with…playing the central role
fictional– invented
disappointment– cause of regret

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test: Royals get Crash Course in all things Kiwi

Related Articles:

Do you look like yourself in your passport photo? 

My New Passport

My New Passport (Photo credit: Tom Raftery)

A study by researchers at Glasgow University has shown that people are unrecognisable in their passport photos because they are not allowed to smile.  Biometric passports, which were introduced in 2006, require a serious expression: no grinning or smiling is allowed.  They use information about the face to identify people, such as the distance between the eyes and the position of the nose and mouth.  However, it has been shown that this serious expression makes it extremely difficult for a stranger to recognize a face.  The study concludes that checking passport photos may not be the best way to spot imposters at border controls.

Listen below

Read by Annette

Study the words

Unrecognisable –  impossible to identify

Allowed – permitted

Grinning – smiling with your teeth showing

Checking –  inspecting

Spot– see, notice

Imposters – people with false passports

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to i-tunes podcast) here

Do the takeaway test: passport photos

 Do you love New York?  Read on…

If you own an original ‘I love New York’ T-shirt, mug or key ring, hold onto it.  It could soon become a collector’s piece.  The Governor of New York has launched a campaign inviting tourists and locals to replace the red heart symbol with whatever they think most represents the city.  Apparently, the logo needs a makeover because it has lost its meaning.   I Love New York logoIt has become a cliché.  In fact, you can find ‘I heart something’ on products all over the world. Some of the suggestions have caused controversy, such as a slice of pizza or a beach ball.  New Yorkers and the original designer of the logo are not impressed.  Let’s face it, ‘I pizza New York’ just doesn’t work.  Let’s hope they come up with a better idea soon.


Read by Crissy Faita Learning English Matters (Canadian accent)

Study the words

Mug– a large cup

Key Ring–  a holder for keys

Hold onto– keep

Launched– started

Makeover– complete change

Cliché– boring, predictable

Controversy– disagreement

Let’s face it– accept the facts

Come up with– think of / invent 

Do the takeaway test: New York

Answer a tiny question:

Listen on audioboo (and subscribe to itunes podcast) here 

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