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Monday, 28 February 2011

The cunning girl behind the mystery novel

The Franchise Affair is a 1948 mystery novel written by Josephine Tey. The novel tells the story of Marion Sharpe and her mother, two eminently respectable ladies who live at the Franchise, a large isolated house on the outskirts of town, and who are accused of the abduction and imprisonment of a 15-year-old girl, called Betty Cane. The two ladies decide to ask a small-town lawyer called Blair to defend them.
Although the book provides a contemporary setting, it is inspired by the real case of Elizabeth Canning, an event which happened in the 18th century. Canning was an English maidservant who disappeared for almost a month. She claimed that two ladies had been her captors. However, after a thorough investigation, it was proved the Canning had lied and she was arrested for perjury. The reasons for Canning's disappearance still remain a mystery. The cunning girl's case ultimately became the inspiration of one of the most famous criminal novels of the 20th century.

* Glossary:

cunning: having the ability to deceive people.
outskirts: bordering areas of a city or town
abduction: the act of taking someone away by force; kidnappingcaptor: person who kidnaps another
perjury: deliberately false testimony. 

Love and Hate, Cats and Dogs

Ailurophilia is a Greek word which means an abnormal fondness (= love) for cats.
Many famous people, particularly authors but also scientists and heads of state, are classified as genuine ailurophiles (= cat lovers). These include such notables as Charlotte Bronte and Emily Bronte, who wrote Wuthering Heights while her cat Tiger played at her feet. Other authors include Anne Frank, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, H.G. Wells and Mark Twain.
Even famous scientists like Albert Einstein and Issac Newton, who invented the cat flap (a cat door which allows cats to enter and exit a house on their own without needing a human to open the door), have not been able to resist the cat. In other fields such as entertainment, famous cat-lovers include Brigitte Bardot and Kim Basinger, who demanded custody of her cats in her divorce. Eccentric artist Andy Warhol had two famous cats: Sam and Hester, the latter was a gift from actress Gloria Swanson. Andy enjoyed Sam and Hester's company when he painted late at night in his studio. When it was bedtime, the cats' favourite spot (= place) was Uncle Andy's wig drawer. While in politics, President John F. Kennedy, Louis XV of France and Winston Churchill were all dedicated ailurophiles. Winston Churchill once famously said his cat Nelson was his best political advisor, insisting that he should be present during important meetings.
Ailurophobia is a Greek word which refers to a type of specific phobia - the persistent, irrational fear of cats. Other synonyms include felinophobia, elurophobia, and gatophobia. Famous people with ailurophobia include Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and La Toya Jackson.
Cynophilia is a fondness for dogs or other canines. Cynophobia is the abnormal fear of dogs.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The dolls inside the doll

A Matryoshka is a traditional Russian doll made of wood and painted with colourful ornaments. This doll is one of the most popular souvenirs in Russia. It is also widely distributed abroad under different names such as “Aunt Olga,” “Babushka” or “Mommy doll.”
Although the Matryoshka is called a doll it is actually a set of dolls of different sizes placed one in another. The reason of that lies behind the name “Matryoshka.” The name «Matryoshka» came from the traditional Russian name «Matryona». This name was associated with motherhood and fertility. The biggest doll symbolizes “mother” with her numerous “doll” family.

Colours: Another Barbie Pink

People generally hear of a colour called Barbie Pink. It refers to the chewing-gum pink that characterizes the Barbie doll and its accessories. However, another "Barbie" -English author Barbara Cartland- also used to dress in pink. Cartland (1901-2000) was known for her romantic novels, which have been translated into 38 languages. Vogue magazine called her "the true Queen of Romance".
Barbara often appeared at public events and on television, dressed in her trademark pink and discussing issues such as love, health, religion, fashion, social matters and politics. Barbara even launched her website with pink computers in early 2000.
Cartland had originally stated that she would like to be buried in her local parish church, in a marble construction, covered in angels. This was later changed and she was buried in her Hatfield home near a historic oak tree. Due to her concerns for environmental issues, her body was put in a cardboard coffin, though it wasn´t pink as her favourite colour.

Special Vocabulary: Babies

baby lotion: loción para bebés
baby shower: una fiesta en la que los padres reciben obsequios para su hijo esperado o ya nacido
baby wipes: toallitas húmedas para el bebé
baby sleeper: osito (prenda para bebé) para dormir
bassinet (or moses basket): moisés
bib: babero
bootees: escarpines
bottle: mamadera
bouncy seat: sillita hamaca
breast milk: leche materna
breast pads: protectores mamarios
breast pump: sacaleche
bum cream: crema para paspaduras
bumper pad: chichonera
burp cloth: toallita de mano para limpiar al bebé
carseat: asiento de auto para bebé
changing pad: manta impermeable para cambiar pañales
cord stump: cordón umbilical (después de ser cortado)
cradle (also crib): cuna
diaper genie: dispositivo para sellar pañales sucios
dreft: detergente especialmente formulado para ropa de bebé
dummy (also pacifier): chupete
grobag: saquito de bebé
high chair: silla alta
infant formula: leche maternizada
mobile: móvil para cuna del bebé
monitor: monitor
nappies (also diapers): pañales
nipples: tetinas
onesie (also infant bodysuit) osito (prenda para bebé) sin piernas
pastic clamp: broche para cordón umbilical  
playpen: corralito
rattle: sonajero
receiving blanket: manta para envolver al bebé
sippy cup (or tippy cup): vasito o jarrito con pico
stroller: sillita de paseo
walker: andador

Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Tragedies Behind the Tea Biscuit

A Marie is a type of tea biscuit (= a cookie often served with tea) made with wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla flavouring. The biscuit is round and has its name engraved (= grabado) into its top surface. The edges (= bordes) of the top surface are also engraved with an intricate (= elaborado) design. Brits love dunking (= mojar) Marie biscuits in tea and coffee. Marie biscuits are frequently served to children. Babies may be served the biscuits softened in milk as their first solid food. 

The Marie biscuit was created by an English bakery in London in 1874 to commemorate the marriage of the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia to the Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.
Maria's life was marked by tragedy. She was the aunt of Tsar
Nicholas II of Russia who was murdered in 1918. Her brother Sergei was assassinated in Moscow in 1905, and another brother, Paul, was shot in Saint Petersburg in 1919.
Her marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh was not a happy one. The couple's only son, Hereditary Prince Alfred, became involved in a scandal involving his mistress and shot himself in January 1899, while his parents were celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. He survived, but his embarrassed parents sent him off to Meran to recover, where he died two weeks later, on 6 February. Maria always insisted that everyone should call her "Her Imperial Highness" ("Su Alteza Imperial"). She died in October 1920 in Zürich, Switzerland apparently after receiving a telegram addressed to her as simply "Frau (Mrs) Coburg".

The Poets Behind the Poetess

Sylvia Plath (October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963) was an American writer. She was most well-known for her poetry, but she also wrote novels, children's books, and short stories. Her most famous novel is called The Bell Jar, which was partly based on her life. She married another famous poet called Ted Hughes.
In April 1960, Plath gave birth to a daughter, Frieda, at home. Her son, Nicholas, was born in January 1962. Hughes had an affair with a woman called Assia Wevill. Plath and Hughes separated in 1962 and she moved to London in early December 1962. Plath lived at 23 Fitzroy Road London  from December 1962 until her death on 11 February 1963. The Irish poet and dramatist W.B. Yeats lived in this house as a boy. Plath's collection of poems The Bell Jar was published in January 1963, and within a month, she took her life. In the early morning of 11 February 1963, Plath took her own life. In 1963, Plath committed suicide. She sealed the room she was in with wet towels, turned the gas oven on and put her head inside the oven. She died because she was poisoned by carbon monoxide gas. Sylvia Plath is buried in Yorkshire, England.

The tragedy after the tragedy

Ted Hughes separated from Sylvia before Nicholas's first birthday and only months later his mother, Sylvia Plath, committed suicide. Nicholas Hughes did not marry and had no children.
Forty-six years after his mother committed suicide, Nicholas hanged himself at his home in Alaska.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Colours: Shades of Yellow

There are many shades of yellow both in English and Spanish.
amber: ámbar
canary yellow: amarillo patito
cream: crema
ecru: crudo  
golden: dorado
ivory: marfil
lemon / lemony yellow: amarillo limón
maize: amarillo maíz  
peachy yellow: amarillo durazno
saffron: azafrán

Monday, 14 February 2011

Special Vocabulary: Love

Some vocabulary connected with LOVE to celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day...
Maybe you have ever wondered how to say these words in English or you simply do not know how to say them. So here there is a list of them for you:

Mi media naranja: My better half.
Somos almas gemelas: We are soulmates.
Amor adolescente (metejón juvenil): calf/puppy love.
Es un buen partido: He/She is a good catch.
Decir cositas lindas: to say/whisper sweet nothings.
Metejonearse con alguien: to have a crush on someone.