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GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL

April 6, 2020
by Bloomsbury International
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GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL : A Festival of Half a Century

Somerset, South West England. 200,000 people. From 24th June to 28th June. Each summer, every year. What am I talking about? … … … Okay, I’ll make it easier for you.

It’s GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL!

First of all, how is ’Glastonbury’ pronounced and… what is it?

GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL

Glastonbury is a town with lots of stunning medieval buildings, sites and elements. However, it is most famous for its festival.

A lot of Americans approach it with their accent and pronounce it wrong, well, not in the British way: /ˈɡlæstənbəri/ [glastonberry]. And here is the proper English way for the pronunciation: /ˈɡlæstənbri/[glastonbrie].

Glastonbury has been one of the most popular annual music festivals for almost 50 years. The festival was inspired by hippie ethics and movements; it is still considered an important event for British culture. Nowadays, it’s a big mixture of contemporary music, lots of Pop, Rock, but you’d also enjoy different types of dance, comedy, cabaret and circus/theatre performances. What’s even better? Each year, the festival manages to raise a huge amount of money (millions of pounds) because a lot of staff members are only volunteers. This money goes to great causes and charities.

Let’s have a quick trip down Glastonbury’s memory lane…

GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL

1970s

Beginning of the decade:

There was a lot of Pop and Blues music. Unlike today, there only 1500 people who attended the festival. How expensive was it? Well, £1.00, not more, not less. This price included FREE milk from the nearby farm. Pretty cool, right?

End of decade:

Ticket prices went up to 5 pounds, and attendance was around 12,000 people.

 

2010s

Beginning of decade:

There were about 180,000 tickets and passes sold in total, even though the price of one was £185.

End of decade:

Outstanding rock and roll shows, epic performances and a number of new artists were entertaining the festival goers throughout the four days.

A ticket cost £248 last year, and more than 200,000 people enjoyed Glastonbury.

GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL

Now you definitely see how much history and what a huge group of followers Glastonbury has. Despite all the fun, festivals usually get very very messy. What’s left when festivals are over? Even if you haven’t been to one, you can guess. People go home, but all their rubbish is left behind. Imagine the millions of plastic cups, plastic bags, bottles, shattered glass, dirty clothes, tents, and everything else. In 2016, Glastonbury was fined because all the sewage (waste water) polluted the closest river nearby, the River Brue. Unfortunately, this meant that more than forty fish were killed. A year later, the Festival’s entireclean up procedurecost £785,000 and it tookforty-two whole days to fully recover the area.

So, as in today, is Glastonbury eco-friendly? Not 100%, but definitely better than it was, I’d say. Of course, success doesn’t happen overnight. The organisers are taking steps to offer the same festival experience, but in a non-polluting way. Luckily enough, in 2019, plastic bottles from the festival bars were completely banned. Everybody had to use their own (reusable) metal bottles, and refill them from water fountains when it was necessary. The organisers decided to put 850 water taps and plenty of water kiosks spread out on the site of the Festival. Although people were allowed to bring their own drinks in plastic bottles, everyone was actively encouraged not to use single-use plastic.

Would you like to go and have the Glastonbury experience sometime in the future?

 

Agatha Christie

March 5, 2020
by Bloomsbury International
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How familiar are you with Agatha Christie and her detective novels?

Well, you have probably guessed that she was English. Correct! But let me tell you more… Agatha Christie was a very well-known writer from Devon, England and she was born into a rich upper-class family in 1890. We could safely say that she was a true specialist in detective stories, murder mysteries and crime fiction. In fact, she wrote sixty-six of them, plus fourteen short story collections.

Let’s have quick look at her life. She was married and mostly lived peacefully in London with her family. In the beginning, she was a rather unsuccessful novelist and had a lot of rejections. Her success, however, came after the 1920s. Christie’s books were published worldwide and people bought more than 2 billion copies of them.

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie Memorial in near Covent Garden

She really was a genius when it came to writing good stories, but did you know that she didn’t only work as a writer? During the First World War, she was working in a hospital helping groups of soldiers. And during the Second World War, Christie was working in a London hospital as a pharmacy assistant. I bet you’re thinking: why is this important? Because during these experiences, she learned all that she could about the human body, psychology, diseases, but most importantly: poisons! So later, as a writer, she used her exceptional knowledge and made poisons the central part of her novels – Christie used fourteen poisons to “kill off” the unlucky victims fourteen of her novels. That’s not so pleasant…!

Let me tell you about the two main fictional characters that appeared in Christie’s books: Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

The most famous of them all is Poirot, the Belgian detective. He’s been portrayed on radio, in film and on television – if you’re interested, I would suggest you check out The Murder on the Orient Express. You can either read it or watch it; there have been multiple film productions made about its story. You’ll surely recognise Poirot from his curled moustache, dark hair and shiny eyes. It’s well-known that he suffers from sea sickness, is extremely punctual and always carries a pocket watch.

I should also mention more about Miss Marple, an elderly and amateur detective. You could ‘meet’ her in a number of novels or spot her in TV episodes/movies. She is famous for being very gossipy and nosy; she always expects the worst. I’ll recommend the following stories: The Murder at the Vicarage, The Body in the Library, and 4.50 from Paddington.

If you’re any interested in theatre… listen up! Remember that I’ve mentioned The Mousetrap? The murder mystery play? It’s set in the countryside: in the quiet and lonely Monkswell Manor, a large country house on a huge estate. You’ll get introduced to each character and you’ll keep guessing who could have committed the murder. I can tell you it’s very exciting and there’s -of course- a twist in the ending. It’s a must-see, in my opinion! It is playing now at St. Martin’s Theatre and it’s been running there since 1974. There are afternoon matinees and evening performances, so it’s easy to book a date that suits you. And the best part? … The theatre is only a 10-minute walk from Bloomsbury International, and maybe it’s not just a coincidence! Will you go after class?

Cartoon

February 20, 2020
by Bloomsbury International
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Are cartoons a way to improve your English? Even if you’re older than a 12-year-old?

Are cartoons a way to improve your English? Even if you’re older than a 12-year-old?

Short answer: YES!

But there’s more to it; just let me explain. You might wonder: “Cartoons were created to entertain children, so how could it be useful/enjoyable for me?” Okay, that may be true, however, just because their target audience is younger people, it doesn’t mean they aren’t not for all ages! There is so much you could digest from an animated show.

Cartoon

You’ll notice that the language is much simpler than it is in normal TV series, like Game of Thrones. You’re also less likely to encounter much slang, which might confuse some learners. Plus, the spoken language in a cartoon is usually slower, so it’d be easier to understand it than, again, in Game of Thrones. (That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch Game of Thrones.) If you think about the voices behind the cartoons, they pronounce the words clearly as well, so no worrying about muttered, unheard sentences.

Aren’t they boring? I honestly doubt that. Again, just because kids find them funny doesn’t mean you won’t. They are light, fun, exciting and colourful – there’s music as well! Why not choose these over an average action film on a rainy Tuesday evening?

Don’t they only suit beginners? Don’t worry, the answer is no. I guarantee you’ll see new, useful words and phrases even if you’re a pre-intermediate user or an advanced one.

Are you the type of person who always falls asleep during movie nights? To make you even more excited about cartoons, each episode is quiet short! They usually last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, so it is IMPOSSIBBLE that you’d doze off!

Where should you start? I’ve got your back! I’ve listed some shows that could help you greatly to develop your skills in English. Also, you can find episodes of them online or on YouTube – super easy and free! My main recommendations:

Martha Speaks

Martha Speaks was first released in 2008. It’s not only great comedy, but very educational, too: it’s especially huge help for people wanting to upgrade their vocabulary! Why? Because each episode starts and ends with reviewing news words.
The story is about Alice and her dog, Martha who ate alphabet soup, and then the fun begins… She is now able to speak English!

Arthur

Arthur, the Canadian-American cartoon, first aired in 1996. You’ll meet its protagonist, Arthur, who’s just a normal guy but goes on everyday adventures. The show is mostly about friendships and family issues as he’s growing up – lots of personalities, and many more daily conversations!

The Flintstones

This series was first originally released in 1960, so it’s not exactly ultramodern, but it’s been a rather popular show for ages… for a reason!
It is set in the Stone Age and revolves around two families: The Flintstones and their neighbours The Rubbles. Now, just because it wasn’t made yesterday, their topics, conversations and relationships are still fresh and their lifes are crazy, adventurous. Wooohooooo!

The Simpsons

The Simpsons has been around for more than 30 years and it is still going! So, yes, it’s probably quite a successful show, isn’t it?
The plot follows the Simpson family who live in the peaceful, American, but fictional town of Springfield. One husband, one wife, one dog, one cat and three children. It tells a lot about culture, society and people.