Sunday, 2 October 2016

950 years since the Battle of Hastings

Don't forget, if you're in or near Hastings on Saturday (14th October 2016), to join in or watch the events commemorating the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. Especially:
4pm-5.15pm La Grande Promenade - wear your Saxon and Norman outfits in a gigantic procession around the town starting from The Stade Open Space, Hastings TN34 3FJ FREE
I know it's not OK to celebrate violence, including battles, but it's still a date that should be remembered as it's so much part of the history of Hastings and England.

Monday, 26 September 2016

May I present a great Skype teacher of English as a Foreign Language

If you need one-to-one spoken English lessons by a qualified native speaker teacher, do contact Dominic James MA, CELTA at
Dominic is an excellent, experienced teacher. He designs lessons suited to the level and needs of each particular student. The price is 25 GBP (pounds) per 60-minute hour. If you wish also to have reading and writing practice, Dominic will send you homework which he corrects at no extra charge.
Dominic is married to Katy and lives in Eastbourne with his family.
I highly recommend Dominic.
Do email Dominic directly or email me if you have any questions at
Here is Dominic, pictured with his family:

A most delicious wine

My family and I recently shared a bottle of wine made by Jose Antonio Arevalo Noya and his wife.
The taste of this wine, which is from the Arevalo family's vineyard, is unforgettable. I was educated in wine tasting by my beloved wine-bibing dad (who was fond of referring to Christ's first miracle), and in recent years I've drunk almost no wine as so much of the wine available in the shops in the UK has a chemical taste.
I highly recommend this wine and hope it will be made available in the UK. The details you need if you want to look out for this wine are:
Vendimmia Seleccionada 2014
6 meses in barrica (It was aged for six months in French barrels)
Denominacion de origen Ribera del Duero
bottled by:
41 Norte, SL
RE 8616VA LOTE 02
If you want to find stockists of this wine in your country, contact Jose Antonio at

The sculpture at Sea Road, St Leonard's-on-sea, of the dead King Harold and his common law wife, Edith SwanNeck

Copyright: Creative Commons
photographer: Anthony McIntosh
When you're in Hastings, you'll see this sculpture (the work of Charles Wilke in 1875) in the garden at Sea Road. The woman leaning over the dead King Harold after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 is his beloved lover and first (common law) wife (joined to him in marriage before sacramental marriage became the norm), the beautiful Edith SwanNeck, with whom he had six children. (He later entered an official marriage of convenience, as royals often did, and Edith became his concubine.) Edith was the only person who could identify Harold's mutilated body, because she recognized marks on his skin that no-one else knew about. Edith was well-known not only because of her relationship with the king but also because it was thanks to her that the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham (a place of pilgrimage still popular with Christians of many denominations today) was built after the mother of God appeared to her and instructed her to build a replica of the house Jesus lived in at Nazareth. So this woman whose presence at Hastings (Battle) in 1066 was so important was also a mystic. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Useful information for students from abroad

Please note: this is the information I give new students on their first day. It is copyright, so if you do use it please acknowledge this blog as the source.
For police, ambulance, fire service or coastguard, dial 999. It’s a free call. The non-emergency number for the police is 101.
If you came with a group leader, key their phone number(s) into your mobile phone. And key in the contact details for your hosts. 
Using a foreign simcard in the UK is expensive. You will pay extremely high charges for calling home as well as calling local numbers. Do consider buying a cheap sim that you can use cheaply here, for example a Lyca sim or RebTel.
Do not hesitate to contact us in an emergency.
When you are out on activities and excursions, make sure you stay with the group and leaders. If you do get separated, phone or text the leaders so that they can find you.
Look after your money and valuables. Never leave money or valuables anywhere, and don’t carry them on your back or in a back pocket. Don’t get i-pads or phones out in the street. If you are sitting down somewhere, keep your bag under your foot.
Don’t shoplift. You will be caught on camera if you do.
Ignore beggars on the streets. But if you have bought junk food and so do not want your host family sandwiches, leave them in the office and we will give them to beggars. Please don’t throw them in the bin.
When you go on an excursion to London, you may meet cool-looking smiling young men who come up to you, welcome you to London and invite you to high-five them. If you high-five them, they may do a little dance with you. While you are high-fiving and twirling around, their friends will steal your money, your phone and any other valuables you have on you. So ignore the cool, welcoming high-fivers.
Also beware of people in burkhas. You may think they are gentle Moslem ladies, but they are sometimes thieves who may not be Moslems at all. They are using the burkha not as religious dress but as a huge piece of material under which to hide the goods they or their friends are stealing from tourists like you.
Don't talk to people unless you are sure they are safe. You can talk to people working in shops. Or if you want to ask the way, ask a woman with children. In Hastings you will see police officers patrolling the streets. Do talk to them if you feel worried about anything going on around you.
Don't answer people who try to talk to you when you are out.
If anyone is acting in a threatening way, run towards other people and shout Help.

It is ILLEGAL  to:
possess drugs;
drink alcohol on the beach, in the park, in the street etc;
drink alcohol in a pub or buy it in a shop if you are under 18;
carry an offensive weapon (knives, guns, stones, gas etc);
drive if you are under 17 or after drinking 2 or more units of alcohol;
drive a motorbike without a crash helmet;
gather in a group which blocks the pavements -  you can gather on the grass instead. Don't force people off the pavement or path.
drop litter. You should use the public bins. Don't use the dog poo bins.
It is dangerous to:
swim in the sea when there is a red flag flying;
swim out of your depth in the sea. There are strong currents/tides in Hastings.
touch railway lines – one line is electrified;
stay out after 11pm (10pm if under 18). Please stay at home after our evening activities.
cross the road when you are not at a crossing. Press the button and wait for the green man. Always look carefully to right and left when crossing a road.
go alone into little alleyways etc. Don't go alone anywhere.
look at your mobile while walking. You could hurt yourself and also someone might steal it.
wear earphones when out walking. You need to concentrate on keeping safe, and to keep safe you need to be able to hear approaching traffic, for example.
Make an effort to find topics for conversation with your hosts. Remember that they are not trained in English teaching, so they may not have the skills that your teachers have in getting you to talk, and also they may never have formally studied English grammar! But if you start them off on a topic (e.g. an excursion you’ve been on or a TV programme you enjoyed), they will be pleased to give you natural conversation practice.
Be polite at all times. Remember to queue (at cinemas, taxi ranks, bus stops, etc.)
Do not invite friends to your hosts’ house without asking their permission.
Be punctual for your lessons and your meals. (Tell your hosts or phone them if you will be late or if you will not be eating.)
Do not keep uncovered food in your bedroom. English buildings are very attractive to mice, who come through spaces between floorboards and walls and through boiler pipes. They and insects will detect your uncovered food and come to eat it. They do not come to houses where there is no uncovered food.
Remember we do things differently in England. For example:
We tend to use bath/washbasin plugs instead of mixer taps.
We drink cold water from the kitchen tap.
Our bread is different, as is all our food. For example, we enjoy curry, the meat-eaters among us really enjoy lamb, and so on. Do try our food. Remember, just because you maybe don’t eat curry or lamb in your country it doesn’t mean these foods are not good. It is very upsetting for hosts when students buy junk food and eat it just before coming home and then refuse to eat what the host has prepared. Hosts are beginning to feel that they should give students things like pizza and chips because that is the kind of food students prefer.
We usually put everyone’s washing together in the washing machine. Do give your washing to your hosts. Don’t wash it yourself and hang it around your room or on a balcony.
Enjoy trying out our way of life instead of worrying that it is different from what you are used to - you are here to learn our culture as well as our language! But if something worries or upsets you, tell us immediately so that we can help. We (Leszek and Fiona) are always ready to listen and help. If it’s outside school hours, you can get us at home on the emergency number (01424 436292) or on our mobiles. Our home address is 28 Collier Road, and it’s just 10 minutes’ walk up the hill from English for You.
Only use mobiles when you are sitting somewhere outside lesson time. Do not use mobiles when walking along. And do not use your mobile in class unless your teacher asks you to look something up. Also, please do not use your mobile phones late at night in bed. It’s not only bad for your brain both physically and psychologically, but also it disturbs your roommates. Your roommates do not want to be kept awake by the light from your phone or by you laughing at some film you are watching. And it’s impossible for you to have a good concentration span in class the next day if your brain has been stimulated by games, films etc on your mobile at a time when your brain should have been at rest.
Very rarely do I ask you for a quick translation of a word or phrase into your language; otherwise, there is to be absolutely no use of any language other than English. If you speak another language in the classroom, we will stop the lesson and add the wasted minutes to the end of the lesson.
Bring everything you need for the whole day to school. Host families do not expect students to go home during the day. Very often, students are surprised that a cold wet day turns into a hot, sunny afternoon, and then they wish they had brought their swimming things. Bring clothes for all weathers every day.
Absolutely no fighting or playfighting, not even a playful punch. Not in school and not out of school. Do go outside in the breaks (weather permitting) and move around, walk round the square. This will give you a burst of oxygen and walking will take away fidgetiness.
A joke is only funny if everyone understands it and finds it funny.
Please don’t eat or chew gum in lesson time. If you need to sip water, that is OK, but do it quietly so that you do not disrupt the lesson.
Do not throw things, for example if your friend needs a pen, do not throw it across the classroom.
If you have particular language problems, tell Fiona so that she can plan lessons around these problems.
Your teachers teach according to your needs. You are the syllabus. In particular, your mistakes help us to plan the right lessons for you.
In lesson time, the emphasis is mostly on oral (speaking) practice of the language. If you want to borrow simplified readers to read in your free time, see Fiona. She can also lend you listening, reading and writing materials suitable for your level and needs. She will correct any work you do in your free time.
In order to improve your spoken English, we often play team games and other games, and we may have a fun psychoanalytical story etc. All these things improve your spoken English and your listening skills as well as build your vocabulary and use of correct grammatical structures. But if you all prefer, we can work through written exercises in books and on worksheets.
When you come into school, please wipe your feet. Otherwise the classrooms get full of grass, which is horrible for people with hay fever (allergies).
There is a list of places of worship on the noticeboard. If you wish to go to a place of worship, see Fiona, who will help you find the nearest place of worship for your faith.
There are three toilets for students to use in the basement and one on the ground floor.
In dry weather, you can go outside for your break, e.g. on the large grass area of Wellington Square. Don’t stand in a group blocking the path or pavement.
Do not leave valuables in the classroom. The front door is open during breaks, and anyone can walk in.
Please read the fire instructions. They are in all the classrooms and passageways, and there are fire extinguishers on every floor on the landings and passageways.
Do not smoke in the school. It is not only a fire risk, but is illegal.
Do not play with the school fire alarms.
Do not block staircases and passageways in the school.
If you discover a fire:
Sound the nearest fire alarm and leave the building immediately by the nearest fire exit, having warned the nearest responsible person. Go to the grass area.
If you hear the fire alarm:
Leave the building immediately. If you are in class, you will leave with your class and teacher. Go to the grass area.. Do not stop to take belongings with you. Your teacher will take the register on the grass. You will be told if and when it is safe to go back into the building.
All students of all ages are encouraged to come to us with worries, complaints or problems. You should report safeguarding concerns – for example if you or someone else is being bullied - to Fiona, who is the safeguarding designated person.
We need to know where you are at all times. If you are under 18 and wish to go somewhere that is not part of our programme, please check with us and your hosts whether this is OK and whether we require parental permission. If you are over 18, we cannot demand this of you, but we do advise it in the interests of your own safety.
Don’t talk to strangers. If you need information, ask a uniformed person working in a shop.
For First Aid, go to Fiona’s room on the second floor or to the staff room on the ground floor.
If you are ill (or need to be absent for any reason), please inform Leszek or Fiona immediately.
If you need to see a doctor, you can go to the walk-in medical centre at Hastings Railway Station Plaza. It is free and you do not need an appointment, but you will pay £8.20 for a prescription (as English people do). If you are ill, please tell us immediately. If it’s an emergency, we or your leaders will take you to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department of the Conquest Hospital or we will call an ambulance. Please bring a book to read and come with a friend, because there is normally a two- to four- hour wait to see a doctor both at A&E and at doctors’ surgeries such as the walk-in medical centre.
For minor problems, just go to a pharmacy/chemist’s. The nearest is a few seconds’ walk from school.  Always inform us when you are going to the pharmacy or doctor. We will make sure you have a responsible person to accompany you.
You pay to see a dentist in England (as English people do). If you need emergency dental treatment, ask your hosts or us to book you an appointment.
If you think seagulls are beautiful or nice and friendly and tame, or if you enjoy their screaming, you will soon change your mind.
Do not encourage seagulls. Do not share your packed lunch with them. They don’t understand sharing. If you offer them a piece of bread, they will alert all their family and friends. A huge number of gulls will then dive at you, demanding food.
If you walk along the street eating an apple or a burger, don’t be surprised if a gull swoops down and takes it from your hand. Their favourite is fish and chips. Baby seagulls are shocked when their great-grandparents tell them how they used to go to the sea to catch fish. Today’s seagulls only go down to the beach to see if anyone’s got a nice picnic.
Even before fast food came along, gulls were clever at stealing food. For example, they would steal fish from the seabed that had been caught by diving birds.
Don’t throw stones at gulls. Their friends will mob you. Anyway, it’s illegal and cruel. In England it is illegal to purposely hurt any creature including wild creatures.
Don’t throw beach pebbles at all.
If we/you are outside in the sunshine between 10 am and 4pm, use a high factor suncream. There is excellent free suncream on the lifeguards beach that we go to opposite Pelham Crescent (just a few minutes’ walk from EFY).
Do not use an umbrella or shelter under trees if the is a storm with thunder and lightning. If you do, you are at serious risk of being struck by lightning. Don’t stand on the beach when there is lightning. Both indoors and outdoors, don’t use anything where there is copper (eg taps and electrical appliances) and don’t have a shower during a storm with lightning.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Hastings Composer John Simpson

Let me recommend Hastings composer John Simpson's compositions. Here is a wonderful piece for you to enjoy. Do click 'like' on youtube when you've listened. I always tell our students about Hastings' literary and historical figures, and of course artists. (Remember my literary walks in the Old Town?) Well, now it's time for me to put composer John Simpson at the top of the list of Hastings residents who have made great contributions to our cultural heritage. 
Just click here: Hastings Composer John Simpson