Les insolites

  • Peacocks


    Peacocks have proliferated in the sunny suburbs of Los Angeles, as the result of an epidemic – unrelated to coronavirus – which has pushed them out of their natural habitat. Though the birds are reputed for their beauty, they are now wreaking havoc on entire neighbourhoods: some are aggressive and noisy, while others regularly destroy flower beds and shatter shiny surfaces – as they mistakenly think their reflection is a rival. As a response, the county of Los Angeles is setting up measures to make it illegal for locals to feed them, so they will naturally seek new, and a more natural territory.

    peacock/paon - suburb/banlieue - to wreak havoc/faire des ravages - neighbourhood/quartier - noisy/bruyant - flower bed/parterre - to shatter/briser, (faire) voler en éclats, détruire, ruiner - shiny/étincelant, brillant - mistakenly/par erreur - reflection/reflet - county/comté (aux É.-U., collectivité locale la plus importante à l'intérieur d'un État) - to set, set, set up/mettre en place - local/habitant

    Publié le 28/09/2021
  • Studying happiness

    Studying happiness

    Studying happiness does, indeed, seem to make people more happy. Students from the University of Bristol, who enrolled in a three month “Science of Happiness” course – the first of its kind in the country – were found to be more upbeat than their counterparts. The course involves studying happiness (why it happens, and what it means) but also involves practical exercises (such as mindfulness, performing acts of kindness and exercising). It was created in response to the increasing mental health problems students encounter in the UK , and is proving to be a popular option. The cohort who took it in 2019 had an overall higher sense of well-being in comparison with their peers.

    to seem/sembler - to enroll/s'inscrire - of its kind/de ce type - upbeat/enjoué, optimiste - counterpart/homologue - to involve/ici, consister à - mindfulness/pleine conscience (conscience vigilante de ses propres pensées, actions et motivations) - to perform/accomplir, réaliser - act of kindness/acte de gentillesse, bonne action - to exercise/faire du sport - to encounter/connaître, faire l'expérience de - to prove to be/s'avérer - to take, took, taken/ici, suivre (un cours) - overall/dans l'ensemble, globalement - well-being/bien-être - peer/pair, camarade

    Publié le 1/09/2021
  • How can we use recycled plastic?

    How can we use recycled plastic?

    At the moment, plastics lose 95% of their value once recycled, and are only be used to create opaque fibre for clothing and carpets. Therefore, it is important that we find new ways to use the recycled material. A team of scientists recently discovered that a molecule called terephthalic acid could be transformed into Vanilin: a substance used as vanilla flavouring in food and cosmetics. This invention could also help agriculture: at the moment, demands for vanilla far exceed production. It would also benefit the entire supply chain: 85% of Vanilin used in products is currently synthesised using chemicals derived from fossil fuels.

    clothing/vêtements - carpet/tapis, moquette - flavouring/condiment, arôme - to exceed/dépasser - supply chain/chaîne d'approvisionnement - chemical/substance chimique - to derive/(pro)venir - fossil fuel/combustible fossile

    Publié le 5/07/2021
  • Cap sur les Cornouailles !

    Cap sur les Cornouailles !

    The British often choose to holiday at home. But this year, with borders closed, the number of “staycations” has exploded in the UK. Cornwall and Devon, in the South-West, have welcomed 400,000 visitors during the last weeks of May, with 99% of rental properties booked. With the pleasant weather and white coastline (facing the French region of Normandy), these two areas were already the most popular destinations among British staycationers (followed by London and Scotland). They are also famous for a specific gastronomical delight: clotted cream, a sweet cream with a density halfway between butter and whipped cream, to be spread on scones with jam!

    border/frontière - staycation = stay + vacation/vacances à la maison - rental/(de) location - to book/réserver - weather/temps, météo - coastline/côte, littoral - delight/délice - clotted cream/crème fraîche épaisse, caillée - sweet/sucré - halfway/à mi-chemin - whipped cream/crème fouettée - to spread, spread, spread/étaler, tartiner - scone/pâtisserie britannique (petit gâteau rond) - jam/confiture

    Publié le 8/06/2021
  • Brown Dog by Nicola Hicks

    Brown Dog by Nicola Hicks

    Brown Dog is a sculpture created by Nicola Hicks and displayed in Battersea Park in London. In addition to the celebration of its subject, it is also famous for being "the memorial of a memorial." A first dog statue was erected at nearly the same place in 1906: it commemorated the death of 232 dogs which were illegally vivisected as experiments for medical students. Many of them protested against the statue in what is now called the "Brown Dog Riots" – and the memorial was vandalised, then guarded by the police until it was removed in March 1910. The "new" memorial was commissioned by the National Anti-Vivisection Society in 1985 and serves as a reminder that animal testing continues to this day.

    to display/exposer - memorial/monument commémoratif - to erect/ériger - nearly/presque, quasiment - to protest/manifester contre - riot/émeute - to guard/protéger - to remove/enlever - to commission/commander - to serve as/faire office de - reminder/rappel - to this day/aujourd'hui encore

    Publié le 22/04/2021
  • Cheese rolling

    Cheese rolling

    Run for the cheese! Every year, the village of Cooper Hills in Gloucestershire organises its annual cheese rolling competition: a 3-4 kilo round of Gloucester cheese is sent rolling down a 200 metre long descent. Competitors run after it, trying to catch it. The cheese can reach a speed of 110 km per hour – if it isn't caught, the first person crossing the finish line will win it. The origin of the tradition is unclear: but it may come from pagan celebrations, where rolling objects down a hill was common.

    Publié le 30/03/2021
  • Rage rooms

    Rage rooms

    Mental health experts tend to recommend meditation, yoga or gentle exercise for mindfulness during the pandemic. But what if there is another solution? Rage Grounds, a company in Los Angeles, just created its own “rage rooms” – spaces that visitors can book to smash a series of random objects. The aim is to let off steam in a totally safe way: protective gear is provided, and participants can choose the objects they want to destroy. Could a healthy dose of anger also improve our mood?

    to tend to/avoir tendance à (généralement) – gentle/doux – mindfulness/pleine conscience (conscience vigilante de ses propres pensées, actions et motivations) - to book/réserver - to smash/fracasser, briser – random/aléatoire, ici divers - to let off steam/relâcher la pression – gear/équipement – healthy/sain – mood/humeur

    Publié le 1/03/2021
  • Est-ce génétique ?

    Est-ce génétique ?

    Why is it so hard for many of us to find sufficient motivation to exercise? David Lieberman, an anthropologist, recently wrote in The Guardian that our body isn't made for deliberate, non-compulsory exercise. Though our hunter-gatherer ancestors exercised on average two and a half hours per day, they only did so because they had to in order to ensure their survival. Exercise, as we know it, is a modern invention, which became popular in the 19th century, when desk jobs started to increase – but it isn't something we naturally crave. "We evolved to be physically active only when it was necessary or fun," Lieberman added, "Don’t feel bad if you struggle to exercise. You aren’t lazy, you’re normal."

    to exercise/faire du sport - non-compulsory/facultatif - hunter-gatherer/chasseur-cueilleur - on average/en moyenne - to ensure/assurer, garantir - desk job/emploi sédentaire (desk/bureau) - to crave/désirer ardemment, aspirer à - to struggle/avoir du mal (à) - lazy/paresseux

    Publié le 2/02/2021
  • Keir Starmer

    Keir Starmer

    A successful, human rights lawyer, witty yet seemingly humourless and considered (by some) to be charming: are we talking about Bridget Jones' Mark Darcy, or Labour leader Keir Starmer? One of the craziest rumour which appeared in the media this year was that Helen Fielding, the author of the famous Bridget Jones' Diary, based her Marc Darcy character on Keir Starmer (the fictional character and real-life politician were the same age when the book was published). After months of silence, the author finally denied the claim in an interview with Radio Times – though she admitted that Starmer and Darcy had many things in common.

    lawyer/avocat - witty/spirituel, plein d'esprit - yet/(et) pourtant - seemingly/en apparence - humourless/dépourvu d'humour - labour/(du parti) travailliste - leader/ici, chef (du parti) - crazy/fou - Bridget Jones Diary/Le journal de Bridget Jones - character/personnage - to deny/démentir - claim/affirmation

    Publié le 5/01/2021
  • Noël en chiffres

    Noël en chiffres

    Christmas is no small event in Britain and, by the end of November, the British are already buying gifts, attending Christmas related events and eating Christmas food. British tabloid The Sun has compiled a list of how much its people will spend time celebrating. The average British person will buy 22 gifts per year, found during an average of 14hrs of Christmas shopping. They'll attend two Christmas parties on average, during which they'll pull 4 Christmas crackers and listen to a total of 1,008 hours of Christmas songs throughout their lives. In terms of food, a balanced diet seems unlikely: the British will eat only 16 Brussels sprouts during the Holiday season – but will devour 15 mince pies throughout December!

    to attend/assister à - related to/en lien avec - average/moyen - to pull/tirer (sur les côtés pour ouvrir) - Christmas cracker/papillote s'ouvrant avec un bruit de pétard à l'occasion du repas de Noël et contenant une blague et un petit cadeau - throughout/tout au long de - balanced/équilibré - diet/régime (alimentaire) - unlikely/peu probable - Brussels sprout/chou de Bruxelles - holiday season/période des fêtes - mince pie/tartelette fourrée de fruits secs qui se mange à Noël en Grande-Bretagne

    Publié le 8/12/2020

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