February 26, 2020

Learn a language: Can I learn Polish, Czech, French, Russian & Portuguese on YouTube?

Today, I’d like to see if we can improve our language skills via YouTube channels.  I hope to inspire you to use some free resources that are available online. I’ll first focus on the languages that I’m familiar with (Polish, Czech, French and Russian) or plan to learn (Portuguese). Yes, I’m giving myself a new language challenge for the coming 8-12 months: to learn some basic Portuguese. I’ll write a new blog post on my progress soon! Today, I’ll focus on YouTube channels and will provide one or two online resources per language to inspire you to practise your language skills more:

Czech: Basic greetings & Americans speaking Czech

Polish: A smiling intro to Polish greetings and Japanese uni students learning & speaking Polish

French: To listen and learn more street French

Portuguese: Students tend to have a preference whether they wish to study European Portuguese (that one that’s spoken in Portugal) or Brazilian Portuguese (spoken in Brazil).

European Portuguese: Basic Portuguese from the Portuguese

Brazilian Portuguese: To start from scratch & for the joy of listening to the melodic Brazilian Portuguese

Russian: A short & fun intro to basic Russian

These are my findings. What YT channels / podcasts / online resources do you use to improve your language skills in Polish, Czech, French, Portuguese or Russian? Let me know in the comments below.

Kinga Macalla

February 19, 2020

Travelling corner: Winter in Exmoor

This winter I re-discovered Exmoor. The last time I went to this beautiful part of England was when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, around 5 years ago! I remember being 7 months pregnant and climbing North Hill and, by mistake, taking the steep route up the hill… Oh yes, it was proper exercise and this winter, surprisingly (!), we avoided this steeper path 🙂 Below, you’ll find my favourite walks from Exmoor. BTW, if you can, please recommend some books/blogs on Exmoor, as I’m curious to learn more about this undiscovered (by me) land.

North Hill

Yes, we did it again, but this time we chose a more humane path. It was beautiful to walk among green ferns at the lowest point, among clouds in the middle and above the clouds and bathed in sunlight at the highest point. We had such amazing weather that day, which turned the whole walk into a magical experience.


I had been planning to visit Lynton for a while and somehow it didn’t happen, but this winter I was determined to go there and explore its uniqueness. Lynton is located on a hill with a Cliff Railway train going down to Lynmouth, a picturesque sea village (unfortunately, the train doesn’t operate in winter). We went for a walk to Lee Bay following the coast. Even though we were wet as we walked in the clouds, the views of the rocks on the left and the sea on the right and the copper hills around the valley created a beautiful scenery.

Porlock Weir

I like analysing maps to see where it would be interesting to go and I had a feeling that this little harbour just outside Porlock might be an intriguing spot to visit and I was right! I also read a brochure that said that in the 18th and 19th centuries the place was famous for oysters and recently a community project was established and oyster farming returned to Porlock Weir! Truly intrigued, we went to explore it. We found a long stony beach, a small harbour, a tiny oyster warehouse (!), and a petite gallery with a café (it was true bliss to have a mug of tea there!). We took a long walk along the stony beach and beyond, to the marshland. It was quiet and peaceful, yet so uniquely beautiful.

We so enjoyed our short winter trip to Exmoor that we’d love to return there in Spring/Summer, to see it in its full colours and flavours. Have you been to Exmoor recently? Let me know in the comments below.

Kinga Macalla

February 12, 2020

Book review: Goodbye, things. On minimalist living by Fumio Sasaki

“A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin;

what else does a man need to be happy?”

 Albert Einstein

In a world so overloaded with information, things, promotions and a want-more philosophy, shall we all become minimalists? Is there happiness in having less?

Personally, I’m on a journey to declutter my belongings: I no longer have many clothes/cosmetics, I try to buy sustainable clothing/beauty products and only when I really need them (I do not wear make-up, though if an occasion requires it, I have a red lipstick ;)). And this all started before reading the book on minimalism by Fumio Sasaki. Let’s see what the next chapter will bring.

Fumio Sasaki is a Japanese minimalist who, throughout his journey to declutter his tiny apartment in Tokyo, learnt some valuable lessons on life and became a better person himself. I found the book a very interesting read, observing his from-maximalist-to-minimalist journey (Do objects make us more valuable? Certainly not!), learning about some practical minimalist tools (What do I really need to have a good life?, organising is not minimising, our homes are not museums, borrow/rent it, don’t buy it!, one in, one out) and seeing some profound benefits of having less (more time, enjoying life more, cleaning less, not comparing oneself with others, focusing better, being healthier, being present in the moment, feeling gratitude).

 “Happiness is actually all around us. We just need time to find it.” (p. 166)

“The very act of living brings me joy.” (p. 174)

“Minimalism is built around the idea that there’s nothing that you’re lacking.” (p. 160)

I truly recommend this book and suggest learning more about minimalism. It seems that via decluttering our houses, we also dust ourselves down and discover a more meaningful life.

Which item(s) would you like to have less of? Please let me know in the comments below.

Kinga Macalla

February 5, 2020

Book review: Slow by Jo Peters

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.” Lily Tomlin

“Slow. Finding peace and purpose in a hectic world.” After a very intensive January, I wanted to slow down, hence was looking for some slow reading and came across this publication. It’s beautifully published with photographs and graphics that inspire readers to pause and slow down. The book gives some guidance into slow health and well-being, home, relationships, food, work and nature. It reminds us where the slow idea originated: Italy. Carlo Petrini created a slow food movement as an act of protest to fast food. The idea then influenced other parts of people’s lives, from slow parenting and slow cities to slow exercising. Then, in 1999, the World Institute of Slowness was formed by Geir Berthelsen in Norway.

The book is a beautiful introduction to slow life (not lazy life!), to a less-do, be-more-present and mindful life. It teaches you how to focus on single tasks (e.g. when working, learning languages, reading), how to create daily slow rituals and simplify your calendar (oh my absolutely favourites: JOMO-the joy of missing out and JONO-the joy of no), and how to enjoy nature (e.g. forest bathing, wild swimming, rainbow walking).

I’m glad I read it, as I feel more ready to live a better (and slower) life. What’s the book that greatly inspired your recently? Let me know in the comments below.

Kinga Macalla