Tag Archives: humour

I’ll leave you to it / I’ll let you get on with it

leave you to it phrase

Photo credit: © H. Armstrong Roberts/CORBIS

We have a very friendly lady who lives in the same building and, considering I go out for a walk with Alisa at least twice a day, we bump into her quite often. She always stops to chat to us (unless I look too busy / too stressed / about to burst into tears) and she loves to talk to Alisa in the hope that she’ll give her a smile (which she does most of the time). I’ve noticed that the lady quite often says ‘I’ll leave you to it‘ or “I’ll let you get on with it” when she feels she’s been chatting long enough, and I think these two phrases are very useful. And very British!

If you want to know a bit more about it, here’s a great link!

P.S. The picture reminded me of my brother, who was very independent and rather advanced for his age as a child. According to the family legend, he used to finish telephone conversations with our mum by saying very matter-of-factly, ‘Is that everything? I’m putting down the receiver’.

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To plonk yourself

plonk meaning

Photo credit: micro-scooters.co.uk

Today I ventured out to a BuggyFit class with Alisa in tow for the third time. I really like that she gets some fresh air, while mummy gets some exercise.

It is a bit of a faff to get Alisa in the car, get the buggy in the car, drive, then repeat in the reverse order, but it’s totally worth it (especially when I get to learn a new phrase on the way).

As I was pushing the buggy from the car to the meeting point there were a couple of kids riding towards us on their scooters, and one suddenly cut across, totally oblivious of everyone else, and got told off by his mum. ‘You just plonked yourself in front of this lady with a baby’, she said.

I knew that you could ‘plonk yourself on the sofa’, but I didn’t know that you could ‘plonk yourself‘ somewhere while riding a scooter!

Here’re some more examples:

  • Bored with sarnies? Pick up a Tiffin box packed with curry, dhal, nan bread, Indian desserts and a Cobra beer or soft drink from Voujon on Newington Road. Then plonk yourself in the Botanic Garden  (The Guardian).
  • Just minutes from fairytale Lake Vyrnwy, this Welsh farmhouse has oak beams and log fires. You can plonk yourself in the hot tub, pour a glass of fizz and gaze out over mid-Welsh hills (The Guardian). – Oh I’d love that.
  • Grab a heap of books, plonk yourself down with your baby on your knee, and begin. Turn the pages, point to the pictures, and ENJOY  (The Guardian).
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That’s a different kettle of fish

fish kettle

Photo credit: rosekentishkitchen.blogspot.com

Monday was a bank holiday in the UK and we benefited from some more time to spend together as a family. This also meant that we didn’t have to cram all the things into just two days and could do our grocery shopping on Monday. I went online to check opening hours of a local Waitrose (disclaimer: we don’t always shop in Waitrose, it’s more of a treat really) and while I was looking at a general information about the branch I noticed that you can borrow champagne flutes and… a fish kettle there! Now that was exciting. I googled “fish kettle” and realised it was an oval pan.

However, whenever I’ve heard an idiom “that’s a different kettle of fish” I always imagined a regular kettle (OK, perhaps not an electric one), and wondered how you were supposed to squeeze a fish in there and whether the tea would stink of fish afterwards. I should have known better!

The idiom means ‘to be completely different from something or someone else that has been talked about’ (Cambridge Dictionary). However, its origin – as is usually the case with idioms – is far from clear. You can check Michael Quinion’s website for more information.

Here are some examples of its usagethough:

  • Matthew Kneale had a well-deserved critical and commercial hit in 2000 with his Whitbread prize-winning novel “English Passengers”, about 19th-century Tasmania. His new collection of short stories is a completely different kettle of fish. It is resolutely up to the minute, with its quaint Italian villagers shopping at IKEA—and, with one or two exceptions, also middle-class and metropolitan (The Economist).
  • I do not really get inflamed at the thought of some busybody checking out my books, or looking at which clothes I have packed, although, in a straw poll of the office, it seems I am alone in this. But trying to log on to a computer or tablet is a very different kettle of fish (The Economist).
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To wrap someone in cotton wool

to wrap somebody in cotton wool

Photo credit: uk.lifestyle.yahoo.com

I know my posts are becoming more and more spaced out, but I’m not giving up on this blog! So here’s a quick post on a new phrase that I heard on the radio. I teach on Saturday mornings and on my way there and back I like to listen to BBC Radio 4, so last week I caught Desert Island Disks with Warwick Davis. He talked about his rare genetic disorder, but said that despite his ill health his parents never wrapped him in cotton wool. This means to be overprotective towards someone (usually a child, I would assume).

Here are some more examples:

  • Wrapping your children in cotton wool and living every day as if a multitude of dangers were each crowding out the other to get their fangs into them still seems to me an unhealthy message to broadcast. If your parents allow you to climb trees, sometimes you will fall off them. If you’re allowed to go wandering alone in a wood, sometimes you’re going to get lost (The Guardian).
  • Constantly wrapping children in cotton wool can leave them ill equipped to deal with stressful or challenging situations they might encounter later in life… Cotton-wool parenting is taxing for the parent; wearing for the child. And it’s unnecessary (Bikehub.co.uk)

I wonder if I am a cotton-wool parent? At times I think I am rather irresponsible, but not unreasonably so.

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Bumble along

bumble along meaning

Hi dear readers,

Once again I have to apologize for the prolonged silence on this blog, but this time I have a really good excuse – her name is Alisa and she is six months old already! It wouldn’t be true if I said that I didn’t have a single moment to write a blog post since she was born, but I definitely have much less time and different priorities these days. That said, I’ve been keeping track of some of the cool phrases I learnt over the past few months and I intend to share them with you!

Today’s phrase – ‘to bumble along‘ – means ‘to go about bunglingly, awkwardly, mindlessly, etc., during some task or in general’ (The Free Dictionary), or, in other words, to not have a clue about what you’re doing, which describes perfectly the way (most) new parents feel. This was exactly how we felt after coming home with a newborn, and as we bombarded the midwife with hundreds of questions about our baby she said ‘Don’t worry, everyone just sort of bumbles along and then you’ll figure out what she wants’. This is true, 6 months down the line things have become fairly straightforward… Or have they? 

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It’s a doddle!

it's a doddle phrase meaning

Photo credit: justinjackson.ca

If I had to pick one of the new–ish words that I’ve been hearing a lot lately, it would be ‘doddle‘! Every now and then I hear ‘it’s a doddle‘ about things that are easy to do. Or, there can be things that seem to be a doddle, but in fact are anything but!

What else can be ‘a doddle’?

– The public performance part of my job – the workshops and training – is hence a doddle (Oxford Dictionaries).

– In under 10,000 words the European Commission’s “agenda on migration,” unveiled on May 13th, identifies war, poverty, globalisation, persecution and climate change as forces driving migration from outside the EU. And it touches on challenges like multilateral diplomacy, criminal networks, military intervention and the ageing of European societies. Next to lists like these, fixing Greece or Ukraine looks like a doddle (The Economist).

– Counting clicks on a blinking banner ad is a doddle—but knowing where each click came from, and how many people are clicking, is harder than it appears (The Economist).

 

In fact, there’s another ‘easy’ expression that I quite like (I remember I first came across it in one of Tom Holt’s novels):

easy peasy lemon squeezy

Photo credit: lespetitesgourmettes.com

 

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Swanky

swanky meaning

Today’s linguistic revelation came from… a pot of yogurt. I never win anything in these contests, but at least I can learn a word or two – that’s my consolation prize!

A ‘swanky‘ hotel stay is the one that’s going to be ‘luxurious and expensive’, according to the Oxford Dictionary, but totally free for you if you’re lucky enough to win it!

Here are some ‘swanky’ examples:

– The latest swanky spa to make a splash on the London scene is Notting Hill’s Hydro Healing, where treatments to help with common ‘lifestyle disorders’ (I think that means tiredness, stress and overflowing toxins) have an aquatic focus (The Guardian).

– The outlook is bleak for swanky stores, much better for discount chains (The Economist).

– The chink of wine glasses, the clatter of cutlery and the chatter of low voices fill the warm air of the latest swanky restaurant to open in London (The Economist).

 

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Keep a wolf from the door

keep the wolf from the door idiom meaning

Photo credit: skazles.ru

Another gem from Shaun Keaveney’s breakfast show! He didn’t come up with the idiom, of course, but he reminded me of it. To cut a long story short, he was taking the mickey out of his co-presenter, Matt Everitt, saying that he might have a part-time job at ‘to keep the wolf from the door‘.

The idiom means ‘to have enough money to avert hunger or starvation’ and is used hyperbolically (Oxford Dictionary).

A couple of examples:

– Having made enough money to keep the wolf from the door I am concerned with making the world a better place, like many other people (Oxford Dictionary).

– Today, dog lovers Steve and Adele try to make their fortune from their furry friends by preening the pooches of southern Spain – but will they make enough to keep the wolf from the door? (BBC)

P.S. There’s a brilliant song by Radiohead, ‘The Wolf at the Door’.

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