Have you been to the Ekka?

First things first, what is ‘the Ekka’ and is it somewhere you’d want to go?  The ‘Royal Queensland Show’, more commonly known as the Ekka, is the largest agricultural show (see Glossary below) in the state of Queensland, Australia.  It celebrated its 140th anniversary in 2016, so this year it’s 143 years old.  Although many things have changed over the years, it still represents great value for money for a full day’s entertainment.

The animals have ‘right of way’ at the Ekka

The ‘Ekka’ which is short for the ‘Brisbane Exhibition’ goes for 10 days and is held annually in August.  The admission fee allows you to enjoy a wide variety of activities.  You can applaud the winners in the canine competition, see all the young animals in the nursery, be awestruck by the speed and power shown at the woodchopping or get some style tips at the fashion show.

A winning Samoyed in the canine competition

You can get free snacks at the Fresh Food Pavilion and, if you have time, stick around in the evening for the EkkaNITES show which includes live music and a fireworks display, at no extra cost.

Fresh food pavilion and strawberry sundae stand

If you don’t mind parting with some of your hard-earned cash, then why not try the ever popular strawberry sundae?   This is a wafer cone with vanilla ice cream, chopped strawberries and strawberry ice cream, topped with a bit of fresh cream and a whole strawberry.  Yum!  The strawberry sundae stands are run by volunteers on behalf of the Prince Charles Hospital Foundation in Brisbane and all profits from the sale of these delicious treats go towards funding important medical research.

Yummy strawberry sundae!

Head straight to ‘Sideshow Alley’ if you’re looking for more excitement!  Here you can enjoy, for a charge, a range of amusement rides and games.

Showbag Pavilion and Sideshow Alley

Other ways of spending your dough include buying a sample bag (or three!) from the Showbag Pavilion, enjoying some of the award-winning food and wine available or picking up a handcrafted item from one of the many stalls.

Handcrafted pearl jewellery

There really is so much to see and do at the Ekka that you’ll be wanting to go back again and again…

Some prize winners in the Cookery competition
Creative Art and Craft competition
A ‘district exhibit’ in the Agricultural Hall

…and again!  No matter how you spend your day at the Ekka you’re sure to learn something new and make some precious memories.

Have you been to the Ekka?  If you have, I’d love to know how you spent your time there.

If you’d like some help with your English, you might consider studying with S. and L. English Lessons.  Get in contact today to arrange your free trial lesson and don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter for news and special offers.


agricultural – relating to farming

show – Australian English term for fair or carnival

value for money – when something is well worth the money you spent on it

annually – once every year

admission fee – the money you need to pay to enter a place or event

applaud – clapping your hands to show enjoyment or approval of something

canine – dog or relating to dogs

awestruck – to be filled with feelings of respect or admiration

woodchopping (also wood-chopping or wood chopping) – a sport where skilled contestants try to be the first to cut or saw through a log (or thick piece of wood)

Pavilion – a building or temporary structure used at public events or for shows

stick around – to stay somewhere for a length of time

parting with (some of) your hard-earned cash – spending money that you’ve worked hard to make

stands – small shops or stalls, usually outside, where things are sold or where people can get information

funding – providing money to make a project possible

Head straight – go without delay to

Sideshow alley – Australian English for an area of attractions which is attached to a larger event (e.g. an agricultural show)

for a charge – you have to pay a fee for something (e.g. activity or ride)

dough – money

sample bag – another name for a showbag

showbag (also spelt ‘show bag’)- Australian English for a bag of goods, often small trial sizes of products or publicity material commonly available at a show

picking up – buying

handcrafted – made by hand rather than by machine

stalls – large tables or small shops used by sellers to display their items for sale at a market or somewhere similar

Brisbane + Winter

= The Perfect Combo*

On this sunny winter’s day in Queensland, I feel motivated to write about the benefits of visiting Brisbane (the capital of Queensland) during this season.

Brisbane City Hall on a lovely sunny day in June.

On a typical winter’s day in many countries you need to wrap up warmly,  before you go outside, in order to stay warm.  However, Queenslanders don’t need to worry about that most of the time.  Often all they need to do is to throw on a jumper over their summer clothes and they’re ready for the day!  In fact, they sometimes need to remove clothing during the day as they can get too warm.  This is more likely to happen if they’re outside in the midday sun, which is still strong even in winter.

Lavender flowers all year round in Queensland.  Here’s some in front of the Old Museum in August.

Australia is a very big country and, depending on the area you visit, you’ll experience very different conditions within the same season.  Cities in the southern parts of Australia, like Melbourne, Sydney and, the country’s capital, Canberra, have cool or cold winters.  Brisbane, on the other hand, has a subtropical climate, so the winter months of June, July and August are usually quite mild with mean temperatures of 11-21°C.  Although nights and early mornings can be crisp, we rarely get minimums below 9°C.

Queensland’s cooler months occur at about the same time as Japan’s and Korea’s hot and muggy ones.  So, if you don’t like the heat and humidity, and you’re looking for somewhere new to visit next summer, why not ‘escape’ and enjoy some comfortable winter temperatures in the Sunshine State (i.e. Queensland)!

Have you already been to Brisbane or Queensland?  What time of year did you visit and what was the weather like?  How was your stay?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Brisbane’s South Bank (June)

If you’d like some help with your English, you might consider studying with S. and L. English Lessons.  Get in contact today to arrange your free trial lesson and don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter to get news and special offers..

* Glossary:

combo – Australian slang for ‘combination’

capital –  the city or town that is the official seat of government in a country, state, etc.  E.g. ‘Tokyo is the capital of Japan and Seoul is the capital of South Korea.’

wrap up – to put on warm clothes

Queenslanders – people from, or living in, Queensland

throw on – to quickly put on clothes

on the other hand – in a way that is different from the first thing you said

subtropical – parts of the world that are directly south or north of the tropics (= the hottest areas) and have very hot weather at some times of the year.  E.g.  ‘Kyushu has a mostly subtropical climate.’

climate – the average weather conditions in a particular area over many years

mild – not extreme;  neither very hot nor very cold

mean – an average;  to calculate the mean temperature, you add up two or more temperatures then divide by the number of temperatures.  E.g.  21 + 20 + 24 + 24 + 25 + 26 + 24 = 164 ÷ 7  = 23.4285.  The mean maximum temperature for the last 7 days in Brisbane is 23°C.

crisp – cool, fresh and energising

muggy – humid

Monthly Review – October 2017


After a busy few weeks (definitions for the words/phrases in bold can be found at the end of the post) finalising my new ad (see below), I was finally able to get it going at the start of October.  Although preparing the ad had been a little stressful at times, especially when things didn’t work as they were supposed to, it’s exciting to see the final product and watch how people are responding to it.

So, if you see my new ad on Instagram or Facebook, I hope you’ll remember to like it!  Please feel free to share it with your friends and family too.

Countdown to Tokyo 2020

This month included what I consider to be a significant date in relation to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.  Do you have any idea what date that might be?  No?  Well, continue reading to find out.  If my calculations are correct, Tuesday, 25th October was exactly 1000 days until the Opening Ceremony!  That’s right, there are now fewer than 1000 days to go!  If you’re in Japan, have you donated any unwanted mobiles or small appliances yet?

Still on Tokyo 2020, but on a slightly different note, I was surprised and amused to read that some English teachers in Japan have been using classic British comedies, like ‘Fawlty Towers’, to help improve their students’ listening skills (click here for the full article).  This comedy revolves around a hotel owner, Basil Fawlty (played by the famous English comedian John Cleese), who is incredibly rude while pretending to be extremely polite to his hotel guests.  It makes for a funny sitcom, but isn’t a good example of how to treat guests in a hotel (or foreign visitors in your country!).


Tonight is Hallowe’en (more commonly spelt ‘Halloween’) and for the past few weeks a song has been playing over and over in my head.

It goes like this:

Hallowe’en’s coming on
and the goose is getting fat
Would you please put a penny
in the old man’s hat?
If you haven’t got a penny,
a ha’penny will do
If you haven’t got a ha’penny,
then God bless you and yer old man too.

This is a song children in Ireland used to sing during Halloween a long time ago (and perhaps still do).  Did you know that Halloween originated in Ireland?  My mum taught this song to me when I was a child and I always sing it when Halloween is approaching.

Do you celebrate Halloween in your country?  If so, how do you celebrate it?  What do people do on the night of 31st October?  Please let me know in the comments section below.

If you’d like some help with your English, you might consider studying with S. and L. English Lessons.  Get in contact today to arrange your free trial lesson.


a busy few weeks – a period of three or four weeks which were busy

finalizing – making final and definite decisions about something

adinformal for advertisement

get it going – get it started

preparing – making something ready

stressful – something that makes you feel worried and nervous

consider – think

significant – important

in relation to – in connection with

fewer than – [comparative of ‘few’ used with countable nouns] and means ‘a smaller number of’

on a slightly different note – is a phrase used when we want to let people know that we are going to chance the topic of conversation

revolves around (a hotel owner) – the hotel owner is the main character

sitcom – is short for ‘situation comedy’ which is a funny television (or radio) show where the same set of characters appear in various situations

originated – the place or point at which a new idea starts

Monthly Review – September 2017

Well, I can’t believe it’s already the last day of September!  This month has gone very fast, hasn’t it?  I thought I’d write a short post to tell you what I’ve been up to this month.

Updating the website

In addition to teaching my regular students, doing trial lessons with potential students and adding Instagram posts (click here to see the most recent ones), I’ve spent some time updating my website.  I wanted to simplify it so it’d be easier for students and potential students to find the information they needed.

All price plans are now listed in AUD (Australian Dollars) only.  There’s a new link on the Prices page (see above) to check current exchange rates.  If you want to find out exactly how much it will cost in your own currency, get in contact stating the number of hours you would like and a PayPal invoice will be prepared for you obligation free.

Looking out for magpies

September marks the beginning of spring and with it the local birds have been making their presence felt.  Magpies in particular have become quite noticeable as this is the time of year when they have chicks in their nests.  As a result, they become very protective and will swoop on anyone or anything they think might be a threat to their young.

When I was out walking recently, I saw a few ducks pecking at the grass.  Then I noticed a magpie keeping an eye on them.  It must’ve decided that the ducks were not going to hurt its young as it left them alone.

A few minutes later, though, I came across a couple of galahs that were pecking at a different section of grass.  I didn’t think they looked threatening, but a magpie suddenly swooped on one of them!  I don’t know where the magpie came from, but it seemed to appear out of thin air.

Watch out for the magpie!

If you’d like some help with your English, you might consider studying with S. and L. English Lessons.  Get in contact today to arrange your free trial lesson.


up to – doing

potential students – people who are not my students yet, but may become so in the future

simplify – to make something less complicated so that it’s easier to do or understand

obligation free – this means that although you have requested an invoice you are not obliged to (i.e. don’t have to) pay it

making their presence felt –  to have a strong effect on other people or on a situation (i.e. you can see and hear birds everywhere!)

noticeable – easy to see

protective wanting to protect their young from danger

swoop – to move quickly through the air, especially from a high position in order to attack

threat – danger

pecking – striking or biting by a bird with its beak

keep an eye on – to watch someone or something carefully

left (them) alone – [past tense for leave alone] an idiom which means to stop bothering someone or something

galahs – birds commonly found in Australia.  They are medium-sized birds with grey and pink colouring and are a type of cockatoo.

appeared out of thin air – appeared suddenly and dramatically

Winter-Summer Sale

It’s winter in Australia, but summer in the northern hemisphere, so S. and L. English Lessons started its Winter-Summer Sale on the 25th July, 2017.  This is the first WIN-SUM Sale (not to be confused with the SUM-WIN Sale that was held 6 months ago!) and we’re celebrating by taking 20% off the regular price of every price plan.

If you are too busy to take English lessons at the moment, don’t worry because all lessons are valid for 12 months.  So, you can ‘buy now and use later’.

Below are some examples of how much you can save with the WIN-SUM Sale.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch to enquire about a price plan to meet your individual needs.


Example 1:  You’re in Japan (click here for prices in Japanese Yen) and wish to have Skype lessons.  You decide to buy a 24-hour price plan.

Regular price: ¥69,600 (¥2,900/hr).

WIN-SUM Sale: ¥55,680 (¥2,320/hr).  

That’s a saving of ¥13,920.


Example 2:  You’re studying in Australia (click here for prices in Australian Dollars) and would like to join the Confidence with English class on Friday mornings.  You decide to buy a 12 x 2-hour price plan.

Regular price: $408 ($17/hr).

WIN-SUM Sale: $326.40 ($13.60/hr).

That’s a saving of $81.60.


Example 3:  You’re staying in London for a couple of months (click here for prices in British Pounds) and wish to take 45-minute Skype lessons twice a week for 7 weeks.  You buy a 10.5-hour price plan.

Regular price: £262.50 (£25/hr).

WIN-SUM Sale: £210 (£20/hr).

That’s a saving of £52.50.


The WIN-SUM Sale is only on for a limited time, though, so get in contact today to arrange your free trial lesson with Cathy.