Hallowe’en 2

Hallowe’en is a big festival in the United States, but its origin is from the ancient Celtic people of Britain and northern France.If you are a football supporter you may know that the star Japanese footballer, Shunsuke Nakamura, plays for the champions of Scotland, Celtic.

More than 2,000 years ago the Celtic people celebrated Samhain on October 31st. At that time this was the last day of the year and the Celtic people believed that the spirits of the dead could visit their house on this day. But evil spirits, often appearing as animals (especially cats), could also visit. To frighten the evil spirits people dressed in scary costumes and carried lanterns made from turnips which were painted with scary faces.

Over the centuries the Christian religion spread through Europe and, in the year 835, November 1st was made an important Christian holy day (holiday) to honour all the Christian saints. This day was (and still is) called All Saints Day, or All Hallows (to hallow means to make holy).

On the day before All Hallows people continued to celebrate Samhain, which gradually changed its name to the ‘Evening before Hallows’ to ‘Hallows’ Eve’ to ‘Hallowe’en’.In the United States the first big Hallowe’en festival was in 1921. The idea of Trick or Treat was started in the US, as did the use of pumpkins for lanterns instead of turnips.

These days Hallowe’en is a fun-day for many people, but there are some who still follow the traditions of Samhain.


A turkey is 3 strikes

In class yesterday I heard that a student of mine has a nickname, ‘turkey’.

Then someone mentioned that three straight strikes in bowling is also called a turkey. I must admit that I have only gone bowling a few times in my life, and I had never heard of a turkey. So I did a little internet research and sure enough a turkey means 3 consecutive strikes.

The reason it is called a turkey is rather simple. In the early 1900’s in the USA the owners of the bowling alleys would offer a free live turkey to anyone who could get three straight strikes (it was much more difficult then), and whenever anyone succeeded the players would all shout ‘turkey’.



In class today I told my students that steel is a mix of iron and copper. I was wrong!

In fact steel is mostly made from iron, mixed with about 2% carbon. It was first made in about 1400BC in East Africa, but it wasn’t until about 1850 when it was first made commercially in the UK. Stainless steel also includes about 10% chromium which helps prevent rust.

The photo below is the huge stainless steel Gateway Arch in St Louis, Missouri, USA.


Local soba shop

Quite often I go with my family to one or other of the numerous family restaurants that are everywhere in town. And quite often I am disappointed with the quality of the food, which seems to be too high in sugar, too high in salt and too high in fats.

So we decided to go to a local soba shop. It was quite a small place, run by a young, friendly couple, just a short walk from my house. In fact I didn’t choose to eat the soba, I chose tororo (yam) udon, which, strangely for me, cost ¥450 hot and ¥500 cold! I had the hot one, but it wasn’t quite big enough so I also chose to have tuna sashimi on rice, which cost another ¥400.

And both dishes tasted really good. And they were both freshly cooked (nothing frozen here). And I wondered why I go to those family restaurants.

Ice-cream with salt? Milkshake?

In one of my classes today there was a home ice-cream maker and it made ice-cream from milk, eggs and sugar. Ice and salt were also used. It seemed strange to have salt in ice-cream so I did a little research.

In fact salt is not used as part of the ice-cream, and neither is the ice. The ice and salt are not put in the same container as the ice-cream mixture. They are put around the outside of this container and are used to make the ice-cream mixture cold. The salt simply helps make the ice even colder.

In the same class some students wondered what a milkshake is.


A milkshake is a sweet, cold drink made of milk, ice-cream (or iced milk) and sweet flavourings, such as fruit syrup or chocolate sauce. This is then mixed (or shaken) together. It is usually served in a tall glass with a straw, and whipped cream may be used as a topping.

Both ice-cream and milkshakes are really delicious but don’t have them together, they are very high in calories!

Mobile phone problem 2

In one of my classes today we discussed the topic of mobile (or cell) phones. I mentioned that I had a few problems with my phone which you can read about here.

The situation remains the same and soon I will be forced to buy a new phone, which I don’t need and I don’t want. I thought we should all be following the 3 Rs: re-cycle, reduce and re-use. Well I have another: repair!

Football / Cricket / Rugby, part 2

In a previous post on September 10th, Football/Cricket/Rugby, I mentioned that it is very unusual for England to be playing her three main sports on the same day. On this day England won all three games which made it a unique occasion.

Well yesterday was another unusual day and England played all three sports again. In football England played Estonia in the European Championships and won easily 3-0. In rugby England played France in the World Cup and just won 14-9. But in the cricket England played Sri Lanka and lost heavily. So the situation was not quite repeated, well done Sri Lanka!


Spurs in Europe

My favourite football team, Tottenham (nickname Spurs), is in the UEFA Cup this season. The UEFA Cup is not the same as the UEFA Champions League. The Champions League is the top football competition in Europe and last year’s winners were AC Milan (Italy).

The UEFA Cup is for the teams that aren’t quite good enough for the Champions League. Nevertheless the teams are really good and it is a very tough competition; the winners for the last two years were Sevilla (Spain). In fact Sevilla beat Spurs last season in the last eight.

This season the UEFA Cup has already started. Last week Spurs played away against Famagusta (Cyprus) and drew 1-1. But don’t worry, they had already won the first game at home 7-1, so they won 8-2 overall. Here is a picture of Robbie Keane celebrating his goal in Famagusta.


Local opera

Last week I went to see an opera called Orpheus and Eurydice at AOI. I don’t normally go to operas but this one was special.

There were no famous performers, and the theatre was not full. The special thing was that I know many of the singers and musicians. They are young local people who got together and organised their own opera. It was fantastic.



The name October comes from the Latin word ‘octo’ meaning ‘eight’, (as in octopus). Originally October was the eighth month of the year until January and February were added which pushed it back to number 10.

October’s birthstone is opal and its flower is cosmos.