Life-affirming experiences

flamenco malagaAs many of you know I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie and one of the reasons I have this passion is that despite all the ‘crap’ that’s going on in the world, throwing yourself of a mountain is life-affirming! What I mean is, that indescribable buzz you get from something when you think,’ OMG, it’s great to be alive!’.

Everyone has their ‘thing’ whether it’s playing a musical instrument, drinking a fine wine, or watching your football team thrash an opponent.

Really, I have three passions in life: sport, politics and music and when I work out at the gym I get ‘a hit’ of all three as I listen to music, watch the News and kill myself on the treadmill. However, by far the biggest life-affirming thing that has happened to me recently was when I went  Sala Chela Mar in Málaga the other week to watch some flamenco. It’s a rare thing to really feel the intensity of the passion, the pain and the joy of some thing you are only watching.

So, if you have not been to this venue, I’d suggest you do as the performances there are always life-affirming!  Yep, once again, I’m in love!

50 things to do before you die: appear in a police line up

police line upA police line up is a common policing technique used to  catch criminals when there are witnesses to a crime. A police line up consists of a group of people who stand in a line, and when their number is called they take a step forward. Personally, I think it’s a waste of the tax payer’s money because most people wouldn’t even be able to describe their partner with any real accuracy. In fact, at my graduation ceremony my mother took lots of photographs of a girl accepting her degree certificate who wasn’t me. Suffice it to say, there are no photos of me wearing the traditional graduation cap and cloak.
oceans 11 police line upSorry, getting back to the point! Ok, firstly, it goes without saying that this means: appear in a police line up if you are INNOCENT, because, if you are GUILTY, then this might be a bit of a problem for you! Secondly, is this my cup of tea? No! Despite the fact that I’d be surrounded by fit men in uniforms, I have to say that the only line up I’d want to be in is the one in Ocean’s 11. That’s right: hubber, hubber!!

50 things to do before you die: go deep sea fishing and eat the fish you catch

deep sea fishingI can’t even contemplate why anyone would want to do this, can you? I mean, if you want to eat some fish, why not go to a beach bar and ask the waiter to open a bottle of white wine while you’re waiting for your espetos?!
Anyway, a friend of mine said to me that it was obvious that I wouldn’t get it; firstly, because I’m a vegetarian and secondly because I’m a girl. He went on to explain that this is a MAN THING, i.e. referring back to the time of the ‘ug, ug, ug’, CAVEMAN. Well, despite the fact that he tried to explain this idea to me in English, Spanish and then sign language, I still don’t get it. So, is he saying that men haven’t really evolved and therefore, deep down, they only want to leave a cave and go hunting for stuff to eat?


50 things to do before you die: go skinny dipping

skinny dippingSkinny dipping is nude swimming.  Do you mean that you take  all your clothes off and go swimming in a public place, for example at the beach, or in some fresh water, like a lake or a river?  Yes, that’s right.

Truth be told, I’ve done this a lot of times at various places on the Costa de la Sol. Although, I have to admit that I’m a bit of coward so I’ve only done this at night, and only after drinking a few too many glasses of wine. If you’re a nudist, you’ll think: Are you pulling my leg? What’s the big deal with skinny dipping? However, if you are like me, you’ll think that exposing your ass to the moon, the mountains, and a few fishermen isn’t exactly what you had in mind for a night out with your mates. So, would I recommend it, absolutely! Without a shadow of a doubt, the sensation is thrilling, not to mention, the sense of relief you feel when your clothes are still where you left them!


To chill out

Chill outTo chill out is a common phrasal verb which means to relax. As I’m a bit of a beach bum and an adrenalin junkie I can chill out by sunbathing at the beach or by doing a risky sport such as scuba diving.

How do you chill out? Perhaps you’re a book worm and you chill out by reading a page-turning bestseller.  Or, if you’re a bit of a culture vulture, you might chill out by visiting an art gallery or a museum.

The English language has a lot of different ways to describe the action of relaxing, for example:

  • To switch off
  • To take the load off
  • To lay back
  • To unwind


LISTENING: Train Spotting as a hobby!

LISTENING: Train Spotting as a hobby?
train spottingTRAIN SPOTTING, TRAIN SPOTTING, Train Spotting – someone is seriously pulling my leg.

What is it?

And, ( shut up!) is it a hobby?
Well, I’ve just watched the video and it isn’t surprising to me that train spotting is mostly an activity taken up by men. Basically, train spotting is a hobby where you do nothing for long periods of time. Train Spotting isn’t a hobby, it’s a way of getting out of doing the cooking, the cleaning and the shopping. I say, lazy, lazy, LAZY!
Oh, I know – please start complaining about my shameless stereotyping. However, I’m not the only one that thinks it’s weird. If you watch the video you are going to hear the following phrases:

  1. It’s a bit of an anorak hobby
  2. It’s a bit geeky
  3. As a hobby I think that’s quite disgusting actually
  4. I think it’s highly popular, if I had the time I might even do it myself although it does belong to a certain part of the anorak community
  5. I haven’t got the faintest idea what it is?

READING: Janette says: Chess and Croquet

READING CHALLENGE: Janette says: Chess and Croquet
chessAs I’ve just started playing chess, I’d recommend playing chess to enhance strategic thinking (not that I do any thinking when I play, I just attack, attack and attack)It’s cheap as chips and you can play it face to face or online as I am doing with my 9 year old nephew who lives in the UK.

It takes 5 minutes to learn the rules and then you can start the ATTACK. And, although you might sound more intelligent if you know the accurate names of the pieces it doesn’t bother me and I call them as follows: the cavalry, the horsey, the castle, the man with the pointy hat, and the King and the Queen.

Croque on the lawn
Janette and her brother rolling around on the lawn

Furthermore, I’d suggest playing croquet because it’s physical, (well, you do a bit of walking and lots of whacking things with a big stick) you compete against others teams which is always exciting; also, personally speaking, doing things with other people is always more fun than when you do things by yourself, and finally and most importantly, it’s easy to play this outdoor game while getting drunk, fighting with your team mate, falling over and still WINNING.

Yes, despite the fact that my brother and I are always blind drunk when we play (in the photo that’s me and my brother on the lawn laughing our pants off while other members of the family are strategizing about the next move), we have been the reigning champions of the O’Carroll Family Annual Croquet Tournament for the last 10 years. Our team name is called: The Blue Rollers and if you fancy challenging us then BRING IT ON! And, if you’ve never played croquet before, you really must have a go!

WRITING: Agony Aunt says: Take Up a Hobby Lazy!

agony auntWRITING : Agony Aunt says take up a hobby
Imagine you have just read the Agony Aunt Advice section of your local tabloid newspaper. A woman in her mid thirties wrote in moaning about how boring her life is. She said she used to be a friendly outgoing person but after a series of tragic events she lost her self-confidence, never went out and didn’t keep in touch with friends.

If you want to help this woman get her life back on track then please send us a postcard suggesting 3 different hobbies she could take up and then explain why these would help her with her problem. If I were in her shoes, I would do these three things:

  1. Join a social activity club
  2. Take up wine tasting
  3. Set up a book club


VOCABULARY: From Board Games to Barbie: The Rich and Famous are just Nutjobs!

VOCABULARY: From Board Games to Barbie: The Rich and Famous are just Nutjobs!

Ok, generally speaking the rich and famous are always a little eccentric. After surfing on the net I found out that their hobbies range from synchronized swimming to collecting daggers; from sky diving to butt implants and Botox. With this in mind, can you match the celebrity, oh, and my mother, to their favourite hobbies? celebrity hobbies




Want to learn more vocabulary connected to hobbies and leisure time? Yes, sure, why not? Ok, check out the DOWNLOADS section.