September 25, 2019

Travelling corner: St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall

We visited St Michael’s Mount for the third time this summer. The first time we went there was actually our first time in Cornwall. The second time I was pregnant with our first girl, and the third time we went there as a family of 4 (I’m starting to wonder how many of us will go there the next time we decide to visit the Mount! 😉 St Michael’s Mount is a tidal island in Cornwall with a castle, chapel and a few houses. The island it still inhabited and can be accessed on foot (low tide) or by boat (high tide). We read on Wikipedia that historically, St Michael’s Mount was a counterpart of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France (definitely plan to visit it, especially that the French island is more than 4 times bigger the British one!). We visited the island in peak season this year and this was the only drawback, as it was quite crowed when entering the castle and when waiting for the boat to go back. But, for the views, it was worth it.

Have you been to St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall or Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy? Do let me know in the comments below.

Kinga Macalla

September 18, 2019

Travelling corner: Jubilee Swimming Pool in Penzance

When in Penzance and in summer, you have to go to the most-famous open-air swimming pool in Cornwall.  Jubilee Swimming Pool. I had wanted to visit it for a while, so I used the opportunity this summer and travelled there by train from St Erth (it only takes 10 minutes). I have fond memories from Penzance, as I travelled from there to the Isles of Scilly about 2 years ago (highly recommended!) The lido is not far away from the train station, so I walked there and, after arriving, enjoyed some time in their pool café. The ticket prices are reasonable (in my opinion!) and the pool wasn’t over-crowded. My family and I found a place in the shade and we went off swimming. Well, it’s a sea water lido, so the water was freezing cold and it took us a good few minutes to get used to it. But, once we’d acclimatised, we had a truly pleasant and refreshing time in the water, and then a lovely time relaxing by the pool. If you’re an ice-cream lover, a short walk from Penzance, in Newlyn, there is a famous ice-cream shop with the scrumptious one-flavour vanilla ice-cream (what a taste!).

If you want to find out more about the Cornish lido, please follow the link.

What’s your favourite open-air swimming pool? Do let me know in the comments below.

Kinga Macalla

September 11, 2019

Book review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

It’s a fascinating read. It’s a memoir of a young woman who makes the brave, yet vulnerable step and decides to hike alone the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The author’s life became unbearably painful after her mother’s death and she began harming herself and others. The PCT became her self-discovery journey, where she had to overcome some physical pains and fears. But, even though she decided to walk the trail because of her inner scars, once she experienced the wilderness, she understood that being in nature or even part of nature was “powerful and fundamental” (p. 207) and a good enough reason to be walking the trail. I read the book while travelling in Cornwall, so you may want to read it when walking/being in nature, as it’ll add that extra spice to your outdoor experience.

Did you enjoy reading “Wild”? What was your favourite travel read this summer? Do let me know in the comments below.

Kinga Macalla

September 4, 2019

Getting back to learning languages

Where do you start with language learning when you’ve had a break? Yes, returning to language study is exciting, but can be confusing as we don’t know how much we remember, if we have the right resources or enough motivation. I’ve prepared some ideas to inspire you to get back to language learning at basic level and more advanced levels. I’ll refer to all four skills, listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Basic level

I think I would start really simple. Going through the alphabet, numbers, colours, simple verbs, and greetings. I would try to find simple videos (even for kids) where you can listen to the basics. I would read loudly some simple stories or phrases. To refresh vocabulary, I would prepare or buy  flash cards or a memory game. Then, try to imagine a conversation and use those phrases/words again. A good idea to practise writing is to write down the already memorised words/phrases, e.g. to practise writing months, days of the week, seasons. What sources should I use? I would useonline or self-made materials, unless you have some printed textbooks which you enjoy using. I wanted to refresh my French and use my secondary school textbook, but it didn’t work as it was too childish. I still enjoyed reading some texts from it, though. I have a friend who is raising her child bilingually (French and English) and when she speaks French I listen carefully and occasionally repeat what she says. I bought a book of French phrases which I read out loud, re-write and memorise (the book review is available here).

More advanced level

If your understanding is fairly good, then you have many options for how to refresh your language skills. My main advice would be to follow your interests. Let’s start with reading. I would choose a novel (maybe a translated novel, as usually it’s an easier read or maybe one you’ve already read in your first language), a scientific publication in the area of your expertise, or a magazine. I would try to read as much as possible without a dictionary (unless to check 1-2 words). Now listening. I would try to find a YouTube channel that provides some interesting videos or interviews, or you can follow your favourite sitcom/series if they have dubbing in the language you are learning. When listening, take notes of the phrases/words you found useful or didn’t understand. Once you’ve checked them in the dictionary, re-listen to the video to have a better understanding of them. Writing: Join a FB group or follow someone on FB/Twitter/Instagram and try to read their feeds and publish comments. If that sounds like too difficult a task, maybe consider writing an email or a text message to a person who speaks the language you are trying to learn. Now speaking. Join a conversation club or create one. Ideally you would have at least one native speaker to correct your speaking and provide some valuable feedback. If that doesn’t sound too appealing, then consider repeating loudly somebody’s speech in the language you’re learning (sentence after sentence).

How do you get back to learning a language? How do you maintain your language skills? Please share your comments below.

Kinga Macalla