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15. Harry’s Story: Biking and Brioche

Podcast para aprender inglés - Episode 15- harry's story

Into the Story

EL PODCAST PARA APRENDER INGLÉS CON HISTORIAS REALES

Podcast para aprender inglés - Episode 15- harry's story

Episode 15: Harry's Story: Biking and Brioche

Nivel de inglés: intermedio alto a avanzado
Acento: inglés británico 

Esta semana en nuestro podcast para aprender inglés con historias reales y emocionantes, Harry nos relata su aventura en bicicleta por Francia y cómo hizo frente a los imprevistos con los que se encontró. En el episodio de hoy, aprenderás expresiones interesantes en inglés como el significado de ‘creature comforts’ y ‘throw a spanner in the works’.

El protagonista nos cuenta una serie de acontecimientos curiosos y a veces, incómodos, durante un día en particular de su viaje. Según Harry, estas adversidades son las que hacen una aventura emocionante a recordar y gracias a los momentos difíciles, uno aprende a apreciar la seguridad y el confort su vida diaria. ¡Escuchemos sus aventuras por Le France!

Transcripción del Podcast

Bree: Today’s story begins at a train station in Toulouse, France. It’s 6am in the morning and our storyteller Harry is arguing with the train station conductors, asking them, begging them, to let him and his bike onto the train.

In today’s episode, we hear about a day from Harry’s adventure cycling through the French countryside and the unexpected obstacles and people he meets along the way. In this story, you’ll hear Harry talk about the difficulty of eating croissants while cycling and how he narrowly escaped a night sleeping outside in the forest. We’re calling this episode ‘Biking and Brioche’.

Before we begin listening, let’s talk about some of the vocabulary and expressions you’ll hear Harry say:
Firstly ‘off the top of your head’. Off the top of your head is a colloquial expression used to describe when someone does or says something, without thinking about it carefully. You’ll hear Harry talk about the train conductor asking him off the top of his head to pay a fee to get on the train with his bike. 

Next, ‘quid’. The word “quid” Q-U-I-D is an informal British word used to refer to the British pound. You’ll hear Harry being asked to pay 30 quid. You’ll hear how Harry uses the work quid to refer to money in general.
Saddle. Saddle is a noun used commonly to refer to the seat of a bicycle or a motorcycle. A saddle is also the structure used to ride a horse. A saddle.

To ‘throw a spanner in the works’. To throw or put a spanner in the works is a great informal expression in English that we use to refer to something that causes a plan to go wrong. A spanner, or wrench in North America, literally refers to the tool that we use to help us grip or release a screw – una llave inglesa. Harry talks about the heavy rain that throws a spanner in the works of his plan to sleep outside. A similar expression in Spanish would be ‘poner palos en la rueda’. Throw a spanner in the works
And finally ‘soggy’. Soggy S-O-G-G-Y is an adjective to mean wet and soft. For example, after the rain, the ground is usually soggy to walk on. In Harry’s case, the sandwich he had in his pocket was soggy after he rode to town in the rain. Soggy.

As always you have a downloadable transcript, vocabulary list, and listening comprehension activities on our website acingles.com/podcast. OK let’s get into the story…

Harry: So the plan was to take a train from Toulouse to Bordeaux and then cycle about 200km to Niort. The day starts at my friend’s house where I’m staying and I’ve got to get to the station for 6 a.m. to get this train but what I don’t know is that taking a bike on the train in France is an absolute minefield. This is a big train with 20 carriages and only two bikes, and at 6 a.m. at 5 p.m. to get there and the train guy is saying sorry there is no space on the train. And I’m almost on the verge of tears, I’m so tired. This is a disaster. 

I’ve got everything planned later. If I don’t get to this place Niort, this town in the middle of France, everything is going to be very hard for the following days and so I’m just begging him and begging him and he says alright go talk to the boss man over there. I’m saying I want to put this bike on the train, it must be possible, I’ll do whatever it takes, I’ll take it apart. I’ll stand up and the bike can have the seat whatever and they say hmmm… well… have a look at the train. Alright then alright then, we’ll let you on. But you gotta pay 30 quid and he looks like he’s just made up that number off the top of his head and he’s like well it would be 10 in the ticket office but you are late so 30 quid to put the bike on. So I get the bike on!

The bike, the great thing about the bike is that you don’t have to plan months in advance. You know, you can, you can be a little freer. Especially after those long months of quarantine, I was, I was pretty keen to get a sense of freedom. It changes your routine completely. It gets you into a different rhythm. In the morning it’s lovely on the bike because you are full of energy and you feel very peaceful. The light is very, very nice in the morning. It’s a good temperature for cycling and you can go quite fast and you… if you like, you are in one of those idyllic adverts or something for sportsgear, cycling along and you think, ‘oh when am I going to do that!’ and there you are.

I packed really light because I knew I was staying in either a friend’s place or in these little hostels on the way. So no tent or anything like that. Just got a 10 litre bag on the saddle, a couple of small bags on the frame which is stuffed with leftover croissants and brioche and things. I did try a few times thinking, I could save time if I eat whilst I’m still going. I don’t know how they do it on the tour de France. It’s actually quite difficult. You have to keep a hand on the wheel, you’ve gotta eat the thing, your mouth is incredibly dry and gurgh, gurgh, gurgh, practically choking to death and you think, ‘fine then, I’m going to stop’.

I got to this restaurant in the middle of this nowhere. It’s a small village, somewhere between Bordeaux and Cognac and there’s a lady there and she’s looking… Everything is looking very nice. I feel oh maybe I’ll have lunch here. I’m actually early! You have to be very careful about what time you eat your food as it’s very precise. Everybody tends to eat between midday and 1:30 and in Spain I’ve been used to the 3pm lunches and stuff and 9 or 10 p.m. dinners and in France it is very specific hours. It’s 11:45 and I think surely at midday because I’ve already had this experience of being turned away. Midday they’re going to be saying it’s a good time to eat. I think, Harry, you’ve done well here. You’ve actually understood the French hours for eating. 

This is going to be a great success. But she says to me that the restaurant is fully booked and I couldn’t believe it because the restaurant is empty at this point and surely I can just go in before anybody comes. She says you don’t have a reservation then it’s not possible, sorry. I sit on the side, sit on the side of the road and have a sandwich from the, from the little corner shop. There is hardly anybody in this that I’ve seen for all morning. It’s really in the countryside. Then amazingly at 12, the restaurant is full and all the room people have arrived within 10 minutes. Apparently the whole town and the surrounding towns dine there everyday. It must be a good place.

So the thing that was really, throwing a spanner in the works, later in the day, was that I realized that my accommodation for that evening in the, lovely, Niort, had been cancelled and I’m thinking bullocks I have nowhere to sleep tonight. But it’s a nice sunny day, I’ll just sleep in the forest. I thought I’d just go into the forest, make a little lean tool, maybe put some sticks, leaves and sticks against the thing and pop the bike there. I didn’t have anything to sleep in so I thought I would just rough it for one night, it would be alright. But it really started raining really really heavily and it was really really cold ‘cos something that happens as you move up France is that you cross a certain river and the weather changes quite significantly from the north and between the north and the south and it was just bucketing down.

I had to get, I had to do this last 20 km on the main road and I’m really cold and really wet and I’m thinking, crap, that forest plan is not going to work. The forest, the forest plan… I am looking at the forest, the forest looks thoroughly uninviting! So I’m thinking, I thought, the best plan now is to just go in and maybe I can chat to some people and befriend them or something and see if someone’s got a sofa that I can crash. I’m pretty tired and I’m going from bar to bar trying to find one that has got a bit of life in it. I find a bar and I get talking to a group of youngish looking people and I’m thinking these guys are really nice, really interested in bikes as well. I made the mistake of choosing the bar near the station and about quarter past eight oh they also I better be going, I’m going back to Paris tonight and ah good luck with finding a room. 

So off they go and… off they go and I’m left there with the barman who is quite keen to close and sort of just edging, they’re doing that thing you know when they close one table at a time, making you feel thoroughly unwelcome all of a sudden and so I’m desperately looking on like airbnb or something for a place and luckily right at the last second, somebody responds saying borgh, go on then, are you already in Niort? Alright, go on then. And it’s not too expensive or anything. And so I go there and it’s much better than the forest. The guy is really nice. Bless him, he gave me some dinner as well when he saw a soggy sandwich that I pulled out for dinner.

I think those unexpected adventures are kinda what makes the trip a little bit exciting when you look back on it. Yeh relish those things that go wrong because ultimately it’s those moments of discomfort that make us appreciate the security and.. and ah creature comforts that we have. That’s why I try not to plan too much in advance or just get a skeleton idea of what I’m going to do and then hopefully, all those little improvisations that you do along the way, bring a little bit of magic.

Bree: Gracias por haber escuchado la historia de Harry. ¡Nos encantaría saber qué te ha parecido este episodio! Puedes enviarnos un correo electrónico a hello@acingles.com. Si aún no lo has hecho suscribete a Into the Story en Spotify, iTunes o tu plataforma preferida. Thank you for listening, until next time we hope you have a good time, or at least, a good story to tell.

Quote of the episode

‘...the great thing about the bike is that you don't have to plan months in advance... I was pretty keen to get a sense of freedom. It changes your routine completely. It gets you into a different rhythm.’

Harry

Creature comforts

Y la expresión que hemos escogido para esta semana es ‘creature comforts’.

Cuando usamos la expresión ‘creature comforts’ hacemos referencia a las cosas del día a día que pueden hacernos sentir cómodos y felices. Por ejemplo: un entorno familiar, nuestra manta favorita o los osos de peluche.

Si alguien dice ‘I don’t like camping. I don’t want to give up my creature comforts’, esto significa que ‘creature comforts’ son las cosas de su vida cotidiana que no dispone durante un viaje de estas características, desde su comida favorita hasta el baño particular. 

En este caso, Harry usa la expresión ‘creature comforts’ para hablar de los elementos diarios que hacen su vida diaria más fácil y cómoda. Después de un día largo y complicado en bicicleta, lo único que buscaba era la oferta de una cena caliente y una cama donde pasar la noche. Son estas adversidades que hacen le apreciar la comodidad. Veamos cómo usa la expresión:

‘I think those unexpected adventures are kinda what makes the trip a little bit exciting when you look back on it… ultimately it’s those moments of discomfort that make us appreciate the security and.. and creature comforts that we have.’

Learning materials

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Este episodio fue producido por el equipo de podcast de AC Ingles: Bree, Bec, Marina, Raul y Eva y ¡nuestro storyteller Harry!

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11. Sunil’s Story: Grow with the Flow

Podcast para aprender inglés - Episode 11 - Sunil's story

Into the Story

EL PODCAST PARA APRENDER INGLÉS CON HISTORIAS REALES

Podcast para aprender inglés - Episode 11 - Sunil's story

Episode 11: Sunil's story: Grow with the flow

Nivel de inglés: intermedio a intermedio alto
Acento: inglés británico

Esta semana en nuestro podcast para aprender inglés con historias reales y emocionantes, aprenderás expresiones interesantes como el significado de ‘in the middle of nowhere’ en español. 

En el episodio de hoy, Sunil nos cuenta su viaje a las Islas de Escocia, y cómo acabó siendo su lugar de residencia durante 5 años. Escucharemos sus aventuras en la isla y todas las cosas que aprendió que jamás hubiera imaginado. En este viaje, Sunil logró conectar consigo mismo y finalmente se olvidó de sus ideales y empezó a apreciar los momentos inesperados en la vida.

Actualmente, Sunil trabaja como ‘transformational coach’, enseñando a personas a crear la vida que desean y a conectar con su intuición. Su misión es ayudarles a conseguir un trabajo apasionante y construir un futuro brillante.

Transcripción del Podcast

Bree: What’s it like to leave on a one-week holiday and then return five years later? In today’s episode, our storyteller Sunil explains how he ended up in this exact situation!

In today’s story, Sunil describes his dream of wanting to build a meditation retreat centre and how an opportunity to do exactly that arose in the most unexpected place… on a Scottish isle!  You’ll hear how Sunil learnt to snorkel and bake bread at the same time and how living on an island smaller than his London suburb taught him to embrace life’s unpredictable moments.  We’re calling this episode, ‘Grow with the Flow’. 

Before we begin listening, let’s talk about some of the vocabulary and expressions you’ll hear Sunil say:

The first expression for today is ‘in the middle of nowhere’ – en el medio de la nada. We use this expression in English as we do in Spanish to mean a very isolated or far away place. You’ll hear Sunil talk about building a retreat centre in the middle of nowhere. 
Secondly, Isle. Spelt I-S-L-E. The word isle usually refers to a very small island – una isleta. Be careful with the pronunciation of this word. Like the word island, which students often pronounce mistakenly as ‘is-land’,  the letter s in the word isle is silent. 
to chop – the verb to chop means to cut something into small pieces with a knife or an axe – una hacha. We usually use this word when we refer to chopping wood or chopping vegetables.
Next: to go like that. If someone says to you ‘the day went like that’, they mean that the day passed very quickly because they were either distracted, busy or having fun. People might even say the phrase in the blink of an eye – en un abrir y cerrar de ojos – to emphasise their point. It’s a slang expression that we use more in conversation than writing. 
Finally, to tune into – this phrasal verb has 2 key meanings. It can mean to become sensitive to something. For example we can ‘tune into someone’s emotions’. Tune into can also mean to start listening to a radio program. For example ‘we tuned into the live broadcast of the football match’. Tune into. 

And, as always, you have a full transcript, vocabulary list, and listening comprehension activities on our website acingles.com, that’s la letra a, letra c, ingles punto con. OK let’s get into the story…

Sunil: It was a time when like, I was in London I was doing a job in I.T. just to kinda live, really. I knew from the very beginning that I was not into it but I had to pay the bills. After a number of years I was really getting the feeling that I really needed to get out of London. So I had this idea that I could go and live in Spain in the middle of nowhere and create some sort of retreat centre. I imagined creating a quiet space surrounded by nature and I imagined like lots of different people coming there from different backgrounds, spending a little bit of time just connecting with themselves and coming away feeling more clarity and peace with themselves. 

I had this idea in my head but the reality was kind of different and there were a lot of different steps to take and a lot of things to do and learn. I wasn’t really prepared for it because I had no experience of living in the countryside and I didn’t have a lot of skills. I felt like what I wanted to create was so far away and a kind of a big mountain to climb. 

A friend of mine invited me to, to go visit her in Scotland. So she lived on this island called the Isle of Arran and she invited me to go there for a week. She just suggested to me well you know maybe you just need some space and maybe you’ll get some inspiration as to what to do next. I had been to the Isle of Arran previously. It’s like a 2km island and I had said, ‘you’d never catch me living on an island like this!’

I remember that I arrived on the Friday. I arrived on the ferry from the mainland and it seemed like another world. It is quite a, it’s quite an ancient-looking Island. They call it like Scotland in miniature and it’s got like these mountains on the north end, you kind of even get that… they are quite ‘jaggy’ and you kinda get a sense that maybe a pterodactyl will come flying over the mountain because they look quite old. Yeh I remember the water was like maybe… it seemed like it could be in the Mediterranean you know it was like turquoise. 

I arrived on Friday and then on the Monday, we went to volunteer with this business organisation that my friend was involved with and they were building, in fact, a retreat centre on the Isle of Arran. We went back on the Tuesday and on the Tuesday somebody there suggested to us, ‘oh do you fancy staying here and helping us build this retreat centre?’ 

I think there was a struggle, there was a little bit of a battle going on between this part of me that was saying yes to what was being offered and the part of me that wanted to sort of, keep control and wanted to kind of, like fulfill my, my dream in my way. I would try to work out like rationally what the best thing to do was. 

So my way of doing that was, to kind of create these endless lists of pros and cons and I would go around thinking about it over and over and over again until like I was in more of a mess than when I started. And at one point maybe I just had to kind of let go of that and so well you know, I’m not doing anything else and I always wanted to build a retreat center so I thought, ‘yeh why not?’. 

I started off just chopping vegetables in the kitchen and so we catered for retreats up to 60 people. It was, it was really cool actually because it wasn’t like working in a normal restaurant, you know. It was relaxed and  it was quite, it was quite a lot of fun. There was quite a few characters, there was a Jordi. He was also a shiatsu practitioner so I remember sometimes, I would be cooking, chopping vegetables and he’d be giving me a kind of shiatsu massage while I was chopping and… or we would often break out into spontaneous pot and pan playing in the kitchen.

Yeah living on this island was a little bit like kind of being back at University with a close group of friends. You are kind of living, living and working 24/7 with them and it was quite a lot of fun. I mean, yeah you got to know people really well and I remember at breakfast with the… there were jokes coming out and we were already laughing and the day generally went like that.

I would make lunch and then there was generally a little bit of a gap between like dinner time and in between, in that gap we would often make bread. So I learnt how to make bread. I was making like 12 loaves at a time, putting them in the oven and then I would nip off around the corner and go snorkelling in this beautiful like, red rock and there were like seals there and amazing fish. The water was like freezing cold but I just would like run back to the kitchen and warm myself up standing by the oven, which was like baking the loaves of bread. I think it combined quite well – baking and snorkelling.

I ended up staying, in fact, for like five seasons so like 5 years. I ended up doing things that I never imagined in a million years. I learnt to cook, I, I did some building, I learnt carpentry, I ran workshops to do with like, creativity and meditation. I used to also lead like dance workshops and I never imagined this like when I was like an IT geek living in London.

Being on the island was great for me. You know, I ended up doing things that were a little bit more physical and creative which is what I always wanted. I spent a lot of time practicing meditation. Really that helped me really to kind of heal a lot of things. I felt kind of more connected to myself. 

I’d come to the point where I felt like I had done all I could do . I left after 5 years. So now I’m actually coaching people in creating what they love. I’m really exploring this idea of how one can tune into this instinct and inner knowing to kind of navigate in life because I think that that experience taught me that. To let go of fixed ideas and all I had to do was kind of like jump in the river. Things don’t necessarily have to be the way that you imagined them and actually sometimes when you let go of that, they work out even more amazingly than you had originally planned.

Bree: That’s all for today! We hope you enjoyed Sunil’s story. Si te ha gustado este podcast y quieres apoyarnos, déjanos 5 estrellas en iTunes. Para conseguir la transcripción, vocabulario clave, y ejercicios del episodio visita acingles.com. Thank you for listening, until next time we hope you have a good time, or at least, a good story to tell.

Quote of the episode

‘Things don’t necessarily have to be the way that you imagined them and actually sometimes when you let go of that, they work out even more amazingly than you had originally planned.’

Sunil

In the middle of nowhere en español

Y  la expresión de esta semana es… In the middle of nowhere. Utilizamos esta frase para describir un lugar solitario o aislado. Podríamos decir que uno se encuentra ‘in the middle of nowhere’ si está solo en medio del desierto del Sahara o ‘you live in the middle of nowhere’ si uno vive en una pequeña localidad lejos de la ciudad. En español diríamos ‘en el medio de la nada’.

Sunil hace referencia ‘in the middle of nowhere’ para describir el lugar perfecto para construir su centro de retiros. Veamos cómo lo describe: 

‘I had this idea that I could go and live in Spain in the middle of nowhere and create some sort of retreat centre. I imagined creating a quiet space surrounded by nature and I imagined like lots of different people coming there from different backgrounds, spending a little bit of time just connecting with themselves and coming away feeling more clarity and peace with themselves.’ 

Learning materials

Vocabulario

Quiz de comprensión

Transcripción

More about our guest

Si quieres saber más información sobre Sunil y su trabajo clica en el siguiente enlace.

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