Tag Archives: life

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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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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Everything but the kitchen sink

 everything but the kitchen sink meaning

I apologize for my prolonged absence and for not posting anything for months. I cannot even say that I was extremely busy – at least not all of the time – but there was a fair amount of things going on and maybe I just needed a bit of a break from the blog as well. From now on I hope to be able to update this blog more often!

I took this picture near where I live. It’s an advertisement for Gumtree – a website where you can sell or buy pretty much anything, from cars to furniture (and some people do sell sinks there!) – and it reminded me of a funny expression ‘everything but the kitchen sink‘, which means, well, everything you can imagine.

Here are some examples:

– The kitchen needs to look at its salads which contain everything but the kitchen sink (Oxford Dictionary).

– Peter went to London for the weekend with a huge bag of things – clothes, computers, his special shampoo… He really took everything but the kitchen sink (BBC Learning English).

– So he took the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to reform – ranging from a ban on MPs getting involved in lobbying through to fixed-term parliaments. He even talked about moving towards a written constitution (BBC).

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I am swamped!

swamped meaning usage

Photo credit: jonnycooper.net

Actually, it’s not me that is swamped right now – if anything, I’ve had a rather leisurely week, reading an exciting novel, baking biscuits and brownies for my family in Russia and doing some last-minute Christmas shopping. This was what one of my students said, apologizing for not being able to make it to our Russian class.

I’ve come across this expression before, but I must admit I hardly ever use it myself. However, it’s a nice alternative to ‘snowed under‘ (the latter, however, is probably more appropriate for this time of year).

Being ‘swamped‘ implies being overwhelmed with a large amount of something, but not only work, as you will see from examples below:

– Like hospitals, many of the province’s mental health facilities are swamped with requests for help, and the people who need their services can’t wait (Oxford Dictionary).

– Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, has claimed British towns are being “swamped” by immigrants and their residents are “under siege”, in an escalation of the emotive language being used by Tory ministers calling for a renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with Europe (The Guardian) – yay, always blame the immigrants!

– Claims by Scottish government ministers that Scotland‘s universities will be “swamped” by English students seeking free tuition after independence have been challenged by an expert study (The Guardian).

– People have long groused that they were swamped by information (The Economist).

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A do (wait… isn’t ‘do’ a verb?)

christmas do

Photo credit: theguardian.com

Apologies for the prolonged silence on this blog – I cannot even say that I was extremely busy with work, but somehow I just didn’t get round to writing anything.

On Saturday I went to a Christmas party organised by the regional group of the Institute of Translators and Interpreters. In fact, I was also invited to a Christmas party organised by a language school where I teach, but of course they had to be on the same day and at the same time and I had to choose. Despite being completely knackered on that day I had a good time – I had a chance to catch up with colleagues and meet some new people, which is always good.

The word I chose for this post – ‘a do‘ – is a synonym of ‘a party’, and it can refer to almost any occasion:

– Are you going to Ann’s leaving do?

– We had our work [Christmas] do in this restaurant.

– Such social dos are more or less confined to the well to do and the upwardly mobile class of young professionals (Oxford Dictionary).

– We’re having a bit of a do to celebrate Pam’s birthday (MacMillan Dictionary).

In case I don’t get round to writing anything else this year, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the readers!

P.S. Today is the last day to nominate my blog for the Macmillan Love English Award!

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Diary-intolerant

diary-intolerant

Photo credit: oldragbaggers.com

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, at some point in the morning I usually listen to Shaun Keaveny’s breakfast show on BBC 6 Music, which never fails to cheer me up.

Today he mentioned he had so many things to do this week (just like me!) that he was struggling to fit in a lunch with a friend, who was also very busy. In fact, that friend of Shaun’s has developed ‘a condition’, which manifests itself in high blood pressure, increased heart beat, etc. whenever the guy tries to write up his to-do list for the coming week. The condition is called ‘diary-intolerance‘. At this point I nearly choked on my muesli! What an excellent pun!

I won’t bother with examples this time – I don’t think there would be many – and I really need to get back to my work. I also need to make sure I don’t look into my diary too often – it’s becoming too scary!

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Losable… and other -able adjectives

losable

Photo credit: funnyjunk.com

What an eventful week… Yesterday I taught my first Russian class at a language school – it was a new experience for me as so far I have only taught individual students. It is also a men-only group, so it was very funny when they arrived and got their little notebooks out and said they felt like they were back to school. Then they started comparing notebooks and telling each other where they got them from – some ‘stole’ theirs from work, while some had to go to a stationary shop. The guy who came with a brand-new notebook said he didn’t know whether to buy a large A4 one or a smaller (A5) size, but decided to go for the smaller one, which, they all agreed, was more portable, but also more ‘losable‘! What an adorable word!

I’ll be honest – I do have a strange fascination with these made-up-on-the-spot words ending in ‘-able’.

When I watched ‘Closer’ for the first time, there was a scene in which Jude Law said about Nathalie Portman ‘She’s completely lovable, and completely unleavable‘, and it just blew me away. I guess one of the reasons I love English so much is that it is so flexible and it lends itself to puns and wordplay and making things up and really encourages a playful attitude to a language.

I am really looking forward to the next lesson in the hope that my students learn some Russian and I maybe learn some an English word or two!

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A week (Monday)

a week Monday usage

Photo credit: timecenter.com

This morning I was listening to my favourite radio show by Shaun Keaveny – together with chocolate & tangerine granola it’s one of the few things that gets me out of bed. Today he chatted to Brian Cox – the great British physicist and, apparently, one of the sexiest men alive, who has just finished filming The Human Universe series. He mentioned that it’ll premiere ‘a week Tuesday’, and I immediately thought that I should write about this ‘a week …’ usage which puzzled me for quite some time.

In fact, it can also be ‘a week on…’, but ‘on’ is sometimes dropped. You use week in expressions such as ‘a week on Monday‘, ‘a week next Tuesday‘, and ‘tomorrow week‘ to mean exactly one week after the day that you mention. 

Examples:

The 800 metre final is on Monday week (Reverso).

– We’ll be back a week on Friday (Oxford Dictionary). 

Actually, after receiving a comment from a friend and a diligent reader of this blog, Zsofia, I double-checked Brian Cox’s twitter and it said that The Human Universe will start on 7 October, which is in one week, also on Tuesday. So when saying ‘a week Tuesday‘ he meant ‘next Tuesday’ because it’s Tuesday today! If he said ‘a week Friday’, then it would mean ‘a week after the coming Friday’.  

You quite often hear ‘Monday/Tuesday etc. week‘ (=the Monday/Tuesday etc after next Monday/Tuesday etc.), which effectively is two weeks, as in:

– I’ll be home Thursday week (if today is Tuesday, 30 September, the person is coming back on Thursday, 9 October).

You might also find this thread on Wordreference forum useful – I certainly did!

P.S. I hope I got it right!

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