Let's enjoy English!


Ever since I went away for a few days last week, I have noticed that a whole bunch of people (たくさんの) are also traveling, too. This made me think that I should re-write about words and phrases used for traveling or easier still, here are the links of my previous ‘Travel theme week’ blog that you can have a re-read of, as they will help you when you go away...

Travel Monday

Travel Tuesday

Travel Wednesday

Travel Thursday

Travel Friday

Travel Saturday

Travel Sunday

Have fun practicing all the different phrases and use them, as they were really well. Enjoy your trip ~

Tune-in tomorrow for next week’s theme ...

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My UK Cherry Blossom tree story ~

cherry 2

Cherry blossoms are not just popular in Japan, but all over the world!

Okay, we may not have ‘hanami’ festivals and events like here, since it is not a cultural tradition, however ‘cherry blossoms’ signify the arrival of Spring and bring a colourful sparkle into everyone’s eyes and heart.

When we moved to the south of England (Southend-on-Sea, Essex), we had a big cherry blossom tree in our front garden. The blossoms (a little darker in shade than the normal light-pink) were a very popular sight for all the people in our neighbourhood -> we would have people park on the street in the front of our house and take pictures! I guess there weren’t many cherry blossom trees in our area.

I never thought much of it at the time but that was one of the many ‘connections’ I have with Japan and her history and culture.

Enjoy the colours and delicate fragrance of this wonderful Japanese tradition ~

See you tomorrow ...

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where 1

Okay ~ I had a few guesses of where I went; Hawaii and the Maldives were good tries and places that I do plan to go to one day ~ but unfortunately it wasn’t this time.

****” is only 3 hours away from Japan, going almost directly south - -> G U A M! But nobody got it right ~ I thought it would be an easy thing to get but I guess the photos of DFS and the beach and Micronesia Mall and Chamarro Village did not quite ‘click’ with you.

I will have to save my ‘give-away’/FREE lesson for next time . . .

For those of you who haven’t been to Guam yet ~ is there anyone out there (besides me ;-) ~ it is definitely a lovely spot for you to make a trip to -> so close to Japan, cheap to get there, gorgeous countryside (and beaches) and lovely people (great weather, too). I definitely recommend you put Guam on your “I am going to visit” list ~

Next time I head ‘down island’ I will put the word out, as may be you can join me for some fun ...

Cheerio for now ~

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So, I’m back in the country of the ‘Rising Sun’ ~ or should I say ‘cool sun’, as I left a high of 32C to come back to 20C ~ brrr ~ I guess I will be wrapping up warm tonight!

Anyway, it is nice to be back ~ lots of soft white/pink cherry blossoms everywhere ~ VERY PRETTY.

I will give you a few other pictures to guess where I went ~ remember, first guess gets a FREE 45-minute lesson on me.

airport 2

It’s nice to be back again ~ see you tomorrow ...

Best regards,

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Well hello to the rest of you in the midst of the cool-cold weather ~ right now it is 4:15pm (local time) and about 31C here, so it is pretty warm.


As it is my last night here in ***** (aha, I almost gave it away ;-) I’m off to the once-a-week market/fiesta, to find some ‘local things’ ~ spices, herbs, sauces etc (you know I like to cook), as one can buy ‘brand name’ things at any duty-free store or airport around the world, but I want something that I can only get here!


Have a closer look at the photos to see if you recognise where I am, for that FREE 45 minute lesson ~ still up for grabs.


More ‘tomorrow’ -> actually, where I am going tonight sounds like that word => "****** Village"

See ya ~

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G Beach 1
G Beach 2

Have you guessed where I am yet? I was out this morning on the bus, taking-in all the lovely views of where I am ~ gorgeous scenery -> sitting on the beach with a great book is so relaxing ~ wish you were here with me ;-)

G Beach 3

G Beach 4

Giving away a FREE 45 Minute Lesson to who guesses where I am ...

Best regards,

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on board

Good morning ~ I hope you had a fabulous weekend and are enjoying the blooming cherry blossoms; these next few days (in the Kanto area anyway) will be the best time to savour the beauty of “Spring In Pink” ;-)

I decided to go somewhere for a few days, so am challenging you to figure out where I am. For those of you who know, this won’t work but the first person who guesses where I am will get a free 45-minute lesson, so put your thinking-caps on (by the way, I haven’t gone skiiing ;-)

arrived at midnight

Best regards,

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61. There are many types of English: British, American, Canadian, South African and so on. None of these are wrong or not as important. English is English.

62. Instead, be aware of the differences in American and British English and use your words accordingly. For example: Elevator (US) / Lift (British).

63. Carry cue cards with you. These are small cards which you can write new words on. You can pull them out and look at them whenever you a free minute.

64. Use post-it notes and stick them around your home. You can use them to label things. Stick one on your pet dog ;-)

65. You can’t ignore phrasal verbs (two words verbs), there are hundreds of them in English and they’re widely used. The more you focus on their meaning, the more you’ll be able to guess the meaning of new ones. You’ll start to recognise their patterns.

66. Use your intuition. Go with your gut feeling, you’ll be surprised how often your first guess is the right guess. Like we said before, be confident.

67. Gather your thoughts. Take a second to think about what you’re going to say. You know the grammar, but maybe you don’t use it correctly when you speak, so take a second before you do ~

68. Meet new people. Make the effort to mix with English speakers in your town. You could join a club or go to bars where foreigners hang out. Buy one a drink, they love that!

69. Be the person to start conversations in English. Try to keep the conversations moving and use listening words (‘really?’ / ‘go on…’/ ‘what happened then?’) Don’t wait for others to speak to you. Get in there!

70. Debate. Discuss topics in a group. Each person should choose a viewpoint (even if you don’t agree with it) and debate it within the group. Make sure you get your point across. Learn to listen actively. Active listening will help in the classroom and it will help you get more out of, and contribute more to, group study sessions. Focus on the person who is talking. Don’t fidget or become distracted by other people or events. Concentrate on the speaker with your ears and eyes. Follow the movements the speaker makes in an effort to hear more. It may help to repeat what you hear others say in an effort to understand their thoughts.

71. Keep it up! If you take a break from speaking English, you will find that your level decreases and all your hard work has been wasted.

72. Don’t be put off by a bad test score. Sometimes students have the ability to pass an English test, but can’t communicate well with English speakers. If you can speak freely in English, you should be proud of yourself.

73. Remember that as long as you have tried your hardest, you have succeeded!

74. Learn English with a friend. You’ll have someone you can practice with and you can motivate each other to study.

75. Keep in mind that it takes longer to improve when our level is high. Usually the fastest progress is made when we are beginners. Don’t think that you’re suddenly not learning anymore, it’s just a less noticeable progress.

Keep continually practising everyday ~ it makes a BIG difference ~ you are doing well, so keep going ... !

Look forward to next week’s theme -> Where is Robin???

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51. Don’t become too reliant on your dictionary. Your dictionary should be an aid, not your main teacher. Try to guess the meaning of words rather than going straight for your dictionary.

52. Don’t give up! Stay positive! Sometimes you will feel that you aren’t learning quickly enough. Everyone feels like this, don’t worry about it. You’ll get there in the end.

53. Enjoy it! We learn more when we are having fun!

54. If you get nervous when speaking, take two deep breaths before you say something. You’ll speak better when you feel relaxed.

55. Keep yourself motivated by looking back at the textbooks and CDs you used in the past. You’ll be surprised at how easy they seem to you now! Congratulations, your level is improving!

56. You are never too young or too old to start learning English. Don’t make excuses not to learn. What are you waiting for?

57. Procrastination can stop you from being successful. To stop procrastinating, it’s important you understand if your procrastinating is to avoid studying, or if it is your bad habit.

58. If you haven’t got the results you wanted yet, it’s not because you’re bad at languages, it’s because you haven’t found your own special way of learning yet.

59. Use resources which match your level. Don’t use texts/listening exercises which are too difficult or too easy. Use materials which challenge you but don’t frustrate you.

60. Don’t worry about making your accent perfect. It’s an important part of your cultural identity to keep your accent. Native English speakers enjoy hearing English spoken with an accent.

Check-in tomorrow for the best ones yet ...

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41. Keep an eye on your punctuation as it can totally change what you’re trying to say. Check out the difference in meaning between these two sentences: “A woman without her man is nothing” and “A woman: without her, man is nothing”.

42. Sing your heart out! Show the world your beautiful voice! Learn English songs and sing along with them to improve fluency and intonation… anyone for Karaoke?

43. Get a pen-friend or use chat-rooms, forums and community sites. If you can’t speak to someone in English, this is the next best thing.

44. 'Shadow' English CDs. Listen to a few sentences then repeat what you heard. Focus on the rhythm and intonation.

45. Have English radio on in your house. Even if you are not actively listening to it, you will still be training your ears.

46. Dictation. Listen to a CD or friend and write down what you hear.

47. Nobody likes to hear their own voice, but be brave and try it! Record your voice and listen to your pronunciation and intonation. It will help you to identify your problem areas.

48. Ask your helpful teacher if you can record the lesson. This is a great way to review. You can also listen to your teachers speaking speed and intonation.

49. Use an English/English dictionary as it will help you to keep thinking in English and not translating.

50. If an English/English dictionary seems scary, there are learner’s dictionaries for English students of your level.

Check-in tomorrow ...

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31. Read everything for the ‘general meaning’ first. Don’t worry about understanding every word, then go back and look up new words.

32. When you learn a new word, think of all its other forms: Beautiful (adjective), beauty (noun), beautifully (adverb) etc.

33. Learn prefixes (dis-, un-, re-) and suffixes (-ly, -ment, -ful), these will help you to figure out the meaning of words and build your vocabulary.

34. English, unlike Japanese or French, uses word stress. For new words, count the syllables and find where the stress is. Only one stress per word and always on a vowel. Two syllable verbs have a stress on the second syllable (beGIN). 2 syllable nouns (TEAcher) and adjectives (HAPpy) stress the first.

35. Be sure to use English whenever you can. It’s as simple as that!

36. DO NOT translate into English from your own language. Think in English to improve your fluency. Talk to yourself…but not on the bus otherwise people will think you have gone crazy! ;-)

37. You can’t learn English from a book alone. Like driving a car, you can only learn through doing it.

38. The most natural way to learn grammar is through talking.

39. Keep an English diary or journal. Start by writing a few sentences a day and then get into the habit of writing more ~ recording it too, helps a lot!

40. To become a better writer brainstorm as many ideas and thoughts onto paper without worrying about grammar or spelling. Then think about the structure. After that, write your piece using good grammar and spelling. Finally, read it through or give it to someone else to check for mistakes.

Read more hints tomorrow ...

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21. Give yourself short term goals too and reward yourself when you achieve each one.

22. Create an atmosphere in which you want to learn, not because you have to. You’ll learn more when you’re learning because you want to.

23. Know what works best for you. Think about what methods have been successful for you in the past and stick with them.

24. Figure out how you learn. It can be by memorising, reading, speaking, summarising or other methods. Find out how you study best. It can be in a quiet place by yourself or with a group.

25. Get help! If you don’t understand something you’ve got to ask someone. Ask your teacher, classmates or friends for help.

26. I WILL SAY IT AGAIN -> Review! Review! Review! Make sure that you take the time to review things you have studied in the past.

27. It’s not a good idea to study on your own for more than 30 minutes at a time. Take regular breaks, get some fresh air and stretch your legs.

28. Don’t be in such a hurry to move up a level. Concentrate on the level you are at now and become very capable.

29. Watch DVDs rather than TV. It’s better to use something that you can watch over again to catch information you might have missed the first time.

30. For a word you don’t understand in a sentence, look at the other words around it. They will give you a hint. Try to guess the meaning from the context.

More hints tomorrow ...

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11. Surround yourself in English. Put yourself in an all English speaking environment where you can learn passively ~ English music, radio, TV, books/magazines etc. The best way to learn is through speaking.

12. Tell your family and friends about your study plan. Get them to push you to study and also don’t let them interrupt you.

13. Practise the 4 core skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. They all need to be worked on for you to improve.

14. Keep a notebook of new words you learn. Use them in sentences and try to say them at least 3 times when you speak.

15. Memorisation of lists is one of the most common ways of learning vocabulary for a test. It’s only a good exercise for short term studying because you often do not retain the information that you have learned for a test.

16. Use your body clock. If you’re not a morning person, study in the afternoon, and visa-versa.

17. You will find words are easier to remember if you try to remember an example sentence using that word rather the word on its own.

18. Plan to take a test. You’ll find that you work harder when you need to study for something.

19. Saying that, it’s better not to study just to take a test. Think of the bigger picture. What can you do when you have a good command of English? How will the quality of your life improve?

20. Give yourself a long term goal. Focus on working towards it.

More tomorrow...

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This week I will be going through a bunch of ideas and suggestions that will help your studying time, learning ability and a few other common or not so common ways to enhance your English ...

1. Review. I know it’s boring, but it’s absolutely essential to language learning. Don’t bother to learn new words if you aren’t going to review. It’s a waste of time if you aren’t committed to reviewing your material.

2. Listen. The more you listen, the more you’ll remember.

3. Use your new vocabulary or lose it! Concentrate on a few new words each day and try to use them in different sentences. Take a few extra minutes at the end of your lesson (or study-time) to write a couple of sentences to help you remember the vocabulary you used and learned. Use new vocabulary in conversation and writing ~ the more you use it, the easier it is to remember.

4. Record yourself in English and repeat, repeat, repeat. Don’t just record your English class but record a song or use an interesting podcast to challenge yourself. Keep repeating it until you can repeat it at the same speed as the native speaker. The more you repeat, the more fluent you will sound. You don’t realise how many mistakes you make until you listen to a recording of yourself.

5. Read, read, read. Read something you will enjoy. Books, magazines and newspapers aren’t your only source for reading. English is everywhere. Learn a song or poem. Try a menu, a recipe or learn some funny jokes.

6. Read aloud. There’s no better way to practice and it will help you pick out mistakes.

7. Flashcards. They really do work! Make flashcards for eight to ten new vocabulary words once a week. Tape them to your wall and practice making a new sentence with them each day.

8. Recycle your vocabulary. Review, review, review! Don’t assume you’ve learned it after you think you’ve perfected it. Practice makes perfect.

9. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes - we all do -> I DO! Be confident. People can only correct your mistakes when they hear you make them.

10. Practise every day. Make yourself a study plan. Decide how much time a week you are going to spend studying and stick to it. Establish a routine.

See #11 ~ #20 tomorrow ...

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Famous British Actors #7

UK Orlando Bloom DONE 3:17:13

Orlando Bloom was born on January 13, 1977, in Canterbury, England, where he grew up with his sister Samantha.

His mother encouraged her children to incorporate the arts into their lives, and subsequently, he took part in regional theater in his youth. He moved to London and joined the National Youth Theatre at the age of 16, and then attended the British American Drama Academy. This training led to parts on British television and his film debut in 1997. He then continued his training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, during which time he performed regularly in stage productions.

Did you know this? --> While attending Guildhall, he had an almost-crippling accident when he fell three stories from a terrace, trying to cross between two buildings with friends, and broke his back! Though doctors feared that he wouldn't walk again at age 21, he was able to gradually recover after intensive surgery and therapy. Today, the actor remains mindful of his back and core, and is so very thankful that he has his health again.

On the positive side though, days before his graduation, he was cast in the fantasy trilogy of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. After garnering (to gather or collect) a noted role in ‘Black Hawk Down’, another big part was on the horizon ...

In 2003, he starred as the sensitive Will Turner in the Disney action/adventure ‘The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’, alongside Keira Knightley and Johnny Depp. This marked another huge world blockbuster under his belt, and would go on to star in the next two sequels of the franchise: ‘Dead's Man Chest’ and ‘At World's End’.

He continued doing period work, playing Paris in the 2004 film ‘Troy’, the leading man in two films ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ and ‘Elizabethtown’ in 2005, and then in the 2006 thriller ‘Haven’ with Zoe Saldana (which he also co-produced).

Another cape-and-sword opportunity arose for him when he was cast in the 2011 update of ‘The Three Musketeers’. Then he returned to his role as Greenleaf for portions of ‘The Hobbit’ film trilogy, released in December 2012: ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’.

In his spare time (if he ever has any ;-) he enjoys mountain bike riding and yoga, and even once set voyage as a crewmember on a ship to Antarctica! He is also a practicing Buddhist and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

On a more personal note, he married Victoria's Secret model Miranda Kerr in 2010. Keep your eye on this young and talented actor ~

Check-in this coming week for more study-help hints . . .

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Famous British Actors #5 -> Harry Potter

UK Daniel Radcliffe

Have you heard of “HARRY POTTER” by any chance? ~ ha ha ~

Daniel Radcliffe’s parents initially refused to let him audition for the role, but a chance meeting with ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone’ director Christ Columbus led to an audition. After the audition, everyone involved with the film agreed that Daniel would make the perfect Harry ~ and the rest we all know ...

Since achieving international stardom for his work in the Harry Potter films, from the best-sellers by J.K. Rowling, that ended in 2011, the young actor is establishing himself as more than just a wizard-in-training.

He actually made his acting debut in the 1999 television movie ‘David Copperfield’, playing the young version of the title character. He soon landed a role on the big screen in 2001's spy thriller ‘The Tailor of Panama’ with Pierce Brosnan and Jamie Lee Curtis. But even before this film's release, he was cast as Harry Potter and a new era began ~

The eight-film series spanned more than a decade of his life, and the films actually show him growing up from a teen to a young man.

With the final film came some sad good-byes. He had to put his most famous character to rest and at an interview said this about Harry Potter:

"It's very rare in your career that you get to play an action hero. I'm not the natural frame and stature of an action hero, so I may not get to play one again."

In his work outside of ‘Harry Potter’, he has strived to break away from his best-known role, with some comedy and being on the Broadway stage, as well.

This continued in his first 'mature film role' after Harry Potter, and in 2012 starred in the gothic horror thriller ‘The Woman in Black’. He played a widowed lawyer and father who gets mixed up in some disturbing supernatural trouble. And in an even different realm, he also hosted the popular comedy show ‘Saturday Night Live’ that same year.

So he is very much someone to keep your eyes on and live history with ~

See you tomorrow ...

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Famous British Actors #4

Sir Alec Guinness DONE 3:14:13

Sir Alec Guinness ~ a man of many parts

Born in 1914, in Paddington, London, Sir Alec Guinness was one of England’s best actors. He has appeared in so many films that this page is not long enough to list them all (see link below).

Starting on the stage, being in numerous Ealing Comedies, including ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’, to later winning an Oscar for Best Actor for his role as Colonel Nicholson in ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’, and Prince Feisal in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. He was an incredibly talented British actor, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1960 for his amazing accomplishments for the country.

Younger fans remember him best when he portrayed Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy.

Read more about his biography ~

See you tomorrow ...

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Famous British Actors #3

UK Sean Connery DONE 3:13:13

Thomas Sean Connery was born on August 25, 1930 in Fountainbridge, Scotland. In the 1950s, he was cast in numerous films and television programs. In the early 1960s, he landed the lead role in James Bond. After Bond, he continued to work regularly in film, and eventually won an Oscar in 1987.

Known as "Tommy" during his youth, he grew up on the streets playing tag or soccer and causing rips in his short trousers that his mother was always patching. The local gangs called him "Big Tam" because of his size. He attended Tollcross Elementary School and amazed his teachers with his lightening-quick mathematical aptitude. From the day he could read, he read every comic book he could get his hands on and dreamed up his own imaginative tales of Martians and madmen. Even then, he had a fascination with film: "I would play hooky and go to Blue Halls, the local movie house, to watch the pictures" he recalled.

At age 13, he quit school to work full time at the local dairy. Three years later, he joined the Royal Navy, and like all good sailors, he got two tattoos on his arm, which he still bears today: MUM AND DAD and SCOTLAND FOREVER. Unfortunately, the artwork lasted longer than his naval career. Though he signed up for a seven-year stint, he was released from service after three years due to stomach ulcers.

He then did several local jobs and for months he saved every shilling to become a member of the Dunedin Weightlifting Club. "It was not so much to be fit but to look good for the girls" he once admitted.

The local ladies were impressed—but so were his fellow gym mates, who nominated him for the Mr. Universe contest. So, in 1953, he travelled the nine hours to London, where the competitions were held. He boldly introduced himself to the contest judges as "Mr. Scotland", and flexing the muscles on his 6-foot 2-inch frame, he was chosen third in the tall men's division and given a medal. But that wasn't all ~ a local casting director liked the hammy Scottish kid and asked him to join the chorus of a new musical, “South Pacific”, playing on Drury Lane, in London's theatre district. "I didn't have a voice and couldn't dance" he admitted. "But I could look good standing there."
One rehearsal was all it took: "I decided then and there to make acting my career." He chose the stage name "Sean Connery" because Sean, besides being his middle name, reminded him of his favourite movie hero, Shane. "It seemed to go more with my image than Tom or Tommy" he recalled. "Sean Connery" was listed as a chorus member in the “South Pacific” program.

When that contract was up, he had another stroke of luck ~ producers Harry Saltzman and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli cast him as the lead in a spy film based on one of a series of Ian Fleming novels, “Dr. No” — and Bond, James Bond, was born. The film was hugely successful and had immediate sequels almost every year: ‘Never Say Never Again’, ‘From Russia with Love’ and ‘Goldfinger’. Then ‘Thunderball’, ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ and ‘You Only Live Twice’ followed.

After Bond, he continued to work regularly starring in numerous films ~ here are a few: “The Man Who Would Be King”, “Robin and Marian”, “The Great Train Robbery”, “Time Bandits”, “The Name of the Rose”, “The Untouchables”, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, “The Hunt for Red October”, “Medicine Man”, “The Rock”, “The Avengers”, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”, “First Knight”, “Dragonheart”, “Entrapment”, “Finding Forrester” and in 2003 “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” but to name a few - ha ha.

He's been called "the rogue with the brogue", and at almost 60 years of age in 1989, was named People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive."

In 1999, he received a Kennedy Centre Honour for Lifetime Achievement, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000.

After decades in the spotlight, he still remains a street-smart, self-made man who never apologises, and time doesn't seem to have mellowed him. Sir Sean Connery, with his charm, sex appeal, and trademark braggadocio (boastful or arrogant behaviour), credits none other than himself for his success and longevity. But he acknowledges a debt to his fans as well;

"But if people hadn't liked what I was doing, I'd probably be delivering milk today—and I never forget that.”

More great reading (and learning) tomorrow ...

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Famous British Actors #2 -> "007"

UK Daniel Craig

BOND -> Probably his most popular actors are: Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and the present Daniel Craig ~ who is YOUR favourite?

"007" needs more than a whole week to tell you about the amazing history this film-series has, but here's a little about Daniel ...

The present day Bond is Daniel Craig ~ born on March 2, 1968, in Chester, England. He moved to London when he was 16 to join the National Youth Theatre. His film debut was in ‘The Power of One’ and he featured in the BAFTA-winning BBC miniseries ‘Our Friends in the North’, too. He also worked with Steven Spielberg on the film, ‘Munich’, and then in 2006 took on the role of James Bond in ‘Casino Royale’ ~ the rest is history (for now ;-) ...

He grew up near Liverpool and enjoyed going to the theatre with his mother and sisters. Many of his mother's friends were actors, and he felt drawn to the profession. After graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, his film debut was in ‘The Power of One’ - a 1950s drama set in South Africa. After that he won several major awards for his work on television, including two British Academy Television Awards, four Royal Television Society Awards and two Broadcasting Press Guild Awards. Impressive roles continued to happen, as he starred with people like Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and even with Paul Newman.

Around the time in 2005 when he played an Israeli agent in the Spielberg film ‘Munich’, rumours had begun to swirl about him becoming the next actor to play the role of the legendary spy James Bond.
Fans, who were used to previous Bonds played by Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan, objected to having him be the part. Many felt he was too blond or too old, however he believed it was a great opportunity, and agreed to a five-film contract.

"When I accepted the job to work on Bond, I genuinely did it to change my life. I knew that it would flip everything on its head... I've never made movies for money—I've always made them because I truly wanted to do them." he explained.

Proving the sceptics wrong, he helped make Bond history with 2006's ‘Casino Royale’. He helped reinvigorate the long-running film franchise with his modern take on Bond, described by one critic as "a noble thug." ‘Casino Royale’ became the highest-grossing Bond film to date, earning $594 million worldwide. He starred as 007 in the next instalment, ‘Quantum of Solace’ in 2008, another box-office hit, followed by the 2012 Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'.

Read more fun things about James Bond; his cars, gadgets, women, enemies ... here

Look forward to some more exciting history tomorrow ~

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Famous British Actors #1

UK Sir Anthony Hopkins

Born in Wales on December 31, 1937, Anthony Hopkins ~ now Sir Anthony Hopkins ~ met Richard Burton at a young age, and the course of his life dramatically changed. Encouraged and inspired by Burton, he enrolled at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama when he was only 15 years old.

After graduation in 1957, he spent two years in the British Army before moving to London to begin training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. After training and working for several years, he became a kind of protégé of the legendary actor Sir Laurence Olivier.

Billed as Olivier's heir to the British acting throne, he had the momentum to make the leap from stage to film, which was his primary ambition. He started on the small-screen in 1967 with a BBC production of ‘A Flea in Her Ear’. Soon after he was cast in 'The Lion in Winter' as Richard I, sharing the screen with established stars Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn.

Throughout the 1980s, Hopkins continued to impress the critics with his work in film and TV, winning multiple Emmy Awards and a BAFTA Award.

In 1989, he returned to the stage for a production of the musical drama ‘M. Butterfly’. But it was in 1991, now well into his fifties, he finally shot to superstardom. His unforgettable, 17-minute performance as the infamous psychopath Hannibal Lector in “The Silence of the Lambs” frightened and wowed fans and critics alike.

At the time he took the role, he said that he had been considering giving up on films and retiring to London for a career on the stage. The fortuitous (by chance) role resulted in not only an Oscar but a distinguished place in the popular consciousness as perhaps the number one on-screen villain of all time!

In 1993, he was knighted by the British Empire. In April 2000, he became a naturalised citizen of the United States and, in 2002, he married his third wife, Colombian-born Stella Arroyave. In 2006, he was awarded the Golden Globes' “Cecil B. DeMille Award” for his lifetime achievement.

The acclaimed actor has continued to work in major motion pictures in recent years, appearing in such films as ‘Proof’, ‘Beowulf ‘ and ‘Thor’. More recently, he was cast as famed horror movie director Alfred Hitchcock in the 2012 film ‘Hitchcock’. He earned raves for his starring role in this film, which includes Helen Mirren as Hitchcock's wife, Alma Reville ~> a great film to see about the making of Hitchock's horror classic ‘Psycho’.

Tune in tomorrow for some 007 action ...

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The Most Famous British Actresses #7

UK Keira Knightley

Finishing this week’s 'Ladies First film week', is another young but very talented and well known actress; Keira Knightley. Starring in “Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace”, “Bend It Like Beckham”, “Pride and Prejudice”, recently in “Anna Karenina” but is probably best known for her role in “Pirates of the Caribbean”.

UK Keira Knightley 2

"Doll houses were a big thing in my childhood. I was always making up stories, playing with them for hours. I guess that's why I'm an actress: I never stopped wanting to play."
– Keira Knightley
Born in London, England on March 26, 1985, Keira grew up in a show-business family; her father is an actor and her mother is a playwright. She first asked for her own agent at the age of three and actually got one when she was six years old!

Keira got her first professional acting job at the age of 7, and then went on to make a string of appearances on British television, too. In her mid-teens, she landed her first major role in “Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace”. That same year, brought her a supporting role in the TV mini-series “Oliver Twist”.

In 2002, she had another career breakthrough with “Bend It Like Beckham” ~ she played a tomboy soccer player called Juliette "Jules" Paxton ~ it was a surprise hit! That same year, she played the female lead in the TV film “Doctor Zhivago”, taking her repertoire to an even higher level.

As we all know, since the blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl” in 2003 with Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom, and the sequels in 2006 and 2007, she is definitely a “wanted actress”!

In addition to acting, she has also worked as a model ~ not surprising with those elegant and feminine looks, even appearing in ads for Chanel.

This down-to-earth and very capable actress is another great example of special talent - not just from the UK but that each country has.

Look forward to next week’s “Famous British Actors” . . .

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The Most Famous British Actresses #6

UK Carey Mulligan DONE 3:9:13

Carey Mulligan

One of the UK’s youngest, promising stars, is Carey Mulligan. In 2005, she starred in her first major film, “Pride & Prejudice” with Keira Knightley, and has also earned an Oscar nomination for her lead role in the film “An Education”.

Born on May 28, 1985, in London, England, she spent her youth between England and Germany. While in school, Mulligan performed in a number of theatrical productions, and one day met screenwriter Julian Fellowes, who put her in touch with a casting agent. That agent helped her land a role in the 2005's famous film “Pride & Prejudice”, and things have just grown since then...

Several Broadway shows and films later, she has starred with numerous stars like Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren, to name but a few ~ she is definitely a star to keep your eyes on.

Tune in tomorrow for Sunday’s special star actress ~

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The Most Famous British Actresses #5 -> "M"

UK Judi Dench DONE 3:8:13

Dame Judi Dench was born on December 9th, 1934 in York, Yorkshire, England. She made her stage debut in 1957 as Ophelia in “Hamlet”, and performed in several musical roles throughout the years. She won an Oscar for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in “Shakespeare in Love”, but is currently best known as James Bond's boss 'M' in the “007” film series.

Even as a young girl, she showed a passion for performance. She loved to dress up, and with her mother at the piano, she would sing alongside her. This was the beginning of her life-career ...

In 1961 she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, the start of a 30-year run that would see her take on every leading female Shakespeare role ~ that is very impressive!

But she wasn't just content with Shakespeare or drama. In 1959 she made her television debut in the BBC series “Hilda Lessways”. She stretched herself even more by taking on comedy work, and even had a starring role as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret”.

She started to become a household name once taking the role of M ~ James Bond’s boss in “GoldenEye” (1995), and continues that position, including the 2012 release, “Skyfall”.
Not just “007” but she has had memorable roles in films such as “Chocolat”, “Iris” and “Notes on a Scandal”.

The same year she won her first Oscar, she also earned a ‘Tony Award’ for best actress for her role in “Amy's View”, and the list goes on and on ...
six Academy Award nominations, two Golden Globes, six Lawrence Olivier Awards, was named an Order of the British Empire in 1970 and honoured with the title of Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1988, and in 2006 she was recognised with a Fellowship at the Royal Society of Arts.

Keep your eyes open for Judi’s great acting roles ~ you will definitely enjoy them ~

Our next showing starts tomorrow at the same time ...

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The Most Famous British Actresses #4

UK Julia Andrews DONE 3:7:13

“The hills are alive, with the sound of music.”

Anyone and everyone has seen the film or sung along to a song or two in the “Sound of Music” at sometime in their life ~ whether as a child or even as an adult. My friend for example, started playing ‘Edelweiss’ and other songs from this incredible and historic film, as soon as I mentioned the name “Julia Andrews”. One surprise to her was that yes, Julia Andrews is also from the UK!

She was born on October 1, 1935, in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England and is best known for her roles in "Mary Poppins" and "The Sound of Music".

Her mother was a pianist and her stepfather was a singer, so she grew up with music being a large and important part of her childhood. This attributed to her first-found success on the stage in England in the late 1940, that then moved to America in the 1950s, where she starred in “The Boyfriend” and “My Fair Lady”, and then in “Camelot” in 1960.

Julie Andrews made the leap to film stardom in 1964 with leading roles in "The Americanization of Emily”, starring opposite James Garner; and in “Mary Poppins”. It was as the lovable, magical nanny in “Mary Poppins” that she won her first Academy Award for best actress. The following year, she was nominated for her part in “The Sound of Music”. As we all know, both films were hugely successful, winning her fans from around the globe, and still remain popular, even after all these years.

In the 1980s, she took on new challenges and starred in 1981's “S.O.B.”, and then “Victor/Victoria” a year later ~ that was an interesting film of as she was a woman who pretended to be a man pretending to be a woman -> yes I know, it’s a little confusing!?!

Interestingly in 1996, she returned to Broadway in the stage production of “Victor/Victoria”. For her performance in the musical, she earned her third Tony Award nomination, but refused the nomination, stating that she felt the rest of the cast had been overlooked.

A nice quote that she is known for is this:

"If you hold on to your words, your voice will pull through for you when you're singing. So be true to your vowels."
– Julie Andrews

See you tomorrow for another incredible actress ...

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The Most Famous British Actresses #3

UK Elizabeth Taylor DONE 3:6:13

Elizabeth Taylor was the Queen of Hollywood, with a career spanning six decades. She was as famous for her colourful personal life, which included eight marriages and seven husbands, as she was for her acting career.

Although she was born in England, her parents were American art dealers. Her mother had been an actress on the stage until she married, and the family relocated to Los Angeles when she was seven.
A family friend suggested Elizabeth be taken for a screen test, and she signed a contract with Universal Studios. Her first foray onto the silver screen was when she was ten.

She was then signed by MGM to make ‘Lassie Come Home’. Her next two films were minuscule parts, but then came the film that made Taylor a star, ‘National Velvet’, in 1944. The film was a smash hit, grossing over $4 million.

Throughout the 1940s and into the early 1950s, she appeared in film after film, with mostly good results. 1954 proved her busiest year to date, with roles in ‘Rhapsody’, ‘Beau Brummell’, ‘The Last Time I Saw Paris’ and ‘Elephant Walk’.

In 1963, she starred in ‘Cleopatra’, which was the most expensive production up to that time, and her enormous salary of $1,000,000 made her the highest paid woman in Hollywood and the first ever million dollar actress.
Her personal life has been as colourful as her acting career, having gone through seven husbands and eight marriages over the years. Her most famous union was with seven-time Academy Award nominee Richard Burton, whom she married and divorced twice.

Taylor then married Burton in 1964, which the Vatican condemned as they were both married when they started seeing each other. The marriage lasted ten years before they divorced. After being apart for 16 months, they married again but redivorced in 1975.

In February 1997, she was hospitalised for the removal of a brain tumour and, although the operation was successful, her health remained an ongoing concern. Taylor had a wide range of other medical issues over the years and in February 2011, at the age of 78, she was admitted into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for treatment related to congestive heart failure, which she disclosed in 2004.

Sadly she passed away on 23 March 2011 at the age of 79 from congestive heart failure.

Paying tribute to his mother, son Michael said in a statement: "We will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world. My Mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humour, and love."

On her death, her jewellery collection was worth a reported $150 million as she loved collecting pieces and was seen as a fashion icon throughout her career.

More showing tomorrow ~ same time, same place ...

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The Most Famous British Actresses #2

Catherine Zeta-Jones DONE 3:5:13

Catherine Zeta-Jones


Catherine Zeta-Jones was born on September 25, 1969 in Swansea, West Glamorgan, Wales ~ so she is British and not American, like most people think. Perhaps the fact she is married to Michael Douglas and that they live in NY, a lot of people think she is American.

At an early age she showed interest in entertainment, and starred on stage in such shows as "Annie", "Bugsy Malone" and "The Pajama Game". At age 15, she had the lead in the British revival of "42nd Street". She was originally cast as the second role in the musical but the star became sick the night the play's producer was in the audience, and so she was given the lead for the rest of the musical's production.

In the early 1990s was when she made a big name for herself. Catherine starred in the TV smash hit “The Darling Buds of May” (1991), this then lead to supporting roles in several films, including: “Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" (1992), “The Phantom” (1996), being ‘Elena’ with Sir Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas in “The Mask of Zorro” (1998). Other big-blickbuster films were “Entrapment”, “The Haunting”, “Chicago”, “The Terminal” and “Ocean’s Twelve”, to name a few.

Later that year (November 2000), she married the very famous Michael Douglas, and now they spend most of their time (when not filming) in New York.

Keep an eye out for this talented actress ~

We continue filming tomorrow ...

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The Most Famous British Actresses #1

UK Kate Winslet 1

Great Britain is well known for many things and one of those things that she excels at is acting.

Continuing yesterday’s “Ladies First” manner, this week is all about you women ~

Over the decades we have produced some of the world's most famous and well loved actresses; many of whom have taken the lead in blockbusters, independent films and even horror movies - so let’s look at the most famous and some of their roles that made us all fall in love with them...

Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet is an English actress/singer and is highly commended for her acting talent. Born in 1975 in Reading, Berkshire, England, her family (parents and grand parents) were all actors and actresses. She began acting early and appearing on television in 1991, with her film debut in 1994 in the movie “Heavenly Creatures”.

In interviews, she was asked what she liked about any of her characters, and the word "ballsy" is bound to pop up at least once. This great actress has made a point of eschewing (avoiding) straightforward pretty-girl parts in favour of more devilish damsels; as a result, she has built an eclectic (broad) resume; that runs from Shakespearean tragedy to modern-day mysticism and erotica.

The role that transformed Kate from art house attraction to international star was Rose DeWitt Bukater, the passionate, rosy-cheeked aristocrat in James Cameron’s "Titanic". Young girls the world over both idolised and identified with her, swooning over every girl’s heartthrob, the young Leonardo DiCaprio, while always maintaining her refreshingly healthy, and lady-like physique. That performance also garnered (acquire/get) a Best Actress nomination, making her the youngest actress to ever receive two Academy Award nominations.

As one can imagine, after the swell of attention surrounding the great film “Titanic” (1997), Kate retreated into independent projects. Rumour has it that she even turned down the lead roles in both “Shakespeare in Love” (1998) and “Anna and the King” (1999). She holds the distinction of being the youngest actor ever honoured with four Academy Award nominations (receiving her fourth at age 29).

Come see who is on-screen tomorrow ...

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Acceptable Behaviours in England #7

manners SUN women


Women in Britain are entitled to equal respect and status as men (and indeed vice versa) in all areas of life and tend to have more independence and responsibility than in some other cultures. For example in the first photo, a lot of girls/women want to be in the army ~ yes, they have been since World War I & II but were doing more 'helpful' work during those times, such as in factories or offices. Nowadays, there are more out on the 'front-line'.

There is still very much the old fashioned "Ladies First" way of thinking, though. Even when having a meal, the man should wait for the lady to take first-bite before he starts to eat:
manners SUN 3

Women are usually independent and accustomed to entering public places unaccompanied. It is usual for women to go out and about on their own as well as with friends. Men and women mix freely, but keeping a 'lady-like' appearance and manner is preferable:
manners SUN 2
Polite and gentle and lady-like goes a long way ~

Other things you should keep in mind are:

It is ok for women to eat alone in a restaurant.
It is ok for women to wander around on their own.
And we are in the 21st Century, so it is ok for women to drink beer, too

I'm looking forward to next week’s theme, I hope you are, too ...

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Acceptable Behaviours in England #6

manners 4

Manners are Important

DOs and DON'TS (Taboos) in England #B

Do Drive on the left side of the road - the same as in Japan
Find out more about driving here

Do open doors for other people
Men and women both hold open the door for each other. It depends on who goes through the door first.

Do not greet people with a kiss
We only kiss people who are close friends and relatives.

Avoid talking loudly in public
It is impolite to stare at anyone in public.
 Privacy is highly regarded!

Do not ask a lady her age
It is considered impolite to ask a lady her age.

Do not pick your nose in public
We are disgusted by this. If your nostrils need de-bugging, use a tissue or handkerchief.

Avoid doing gestures such as backslapping and hugging
This is only done among close friends.

Do not spit
Spitting in the street is considered to be very bad mannered!

Do not burp in public
You may feel better by burping loudly after eating or drinking, but other people will not! If you can not stop a burp from bursting out, then cover your mouth with your hand and say 'excuse me' afterwards.

Do not pass wind in public
Now how can I say this politely? Let's say that you want to pass wind. What do you do? Go somewhere private and let it out. If you accidentally pass wind in company say 'pardon me'.

(Basically the best advice is say 'excuse me' for mouth burps and ignore bottom burps.)

Do not ask personal or intimate questions
We like our privacy. Please do not ask questions such as "How much money do you earn?", "How much do you weigh?" or "Why aren't you married?" ~ NO!

See you in the ‘morn ~

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Acceptable Behaviours in England #5

manners ladies

Manners are Important

 ~ DOs and DON'TS (Taboos) in England #A

In England...

Do stand in line:
In England we like to form orderly queues (standing in line) and wait patiently for our turn e.g. boarding a bus. It is usual to queue when required, and expected that you will take your correct turn and not push in front. 'Queue jumping' is frowned upon.

Do take your hat off when you go indoors (men only)
It is impolite for men to wear hats indoors (especially in churches).
Nowadays, it is becoming more common to see some men wearing hats indoors. However, this is still seen as being impolite, especially to the older generations.

Do say "Excuse Me":
If someone is blocking your way and you would like them to move, say excuse me and they will move out of your way.

Do Pay as you Go:
Pay for drinks as you order them in pubs and other types of bars.

Do say "Please" and "Thank you":
It is very good manners to say "please" and "thank you". It is considered rude if you don't. You will notice in England that we say 'thank you' a lot (the same as Japan).

Do cover your Mouth:
When yawning or coughing, always cover your mouth with your hand.

Do Shake Hands:
When you are first introduced to someone, shake their right hand with your own right hand.

Do say sorry:
If you accidentally bump into someone, say 'sorry'. They probably will too, even if it was your fault! This is a habit and can be seen as very amusing by an 'outsider'.

Do Smile
A smiling face is a welcoming face.

Look forward to tomorrow ...

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