So you thought you knew all about interior design and comfort at home, right? You thought that we, modern-day humans, had invented comfortable beds, hygienic bathrooms and all those things that make our homes tasteful and cosy. Well I have some news for you, because that is what I thought until I discovered Skara Brae.
Skara Brae is a Neolithic settlement consisting of eight stone-built houses located on the coast of Mainland (the Orkney Islands). Its origin dates from 3180 BC and was occupied by families for about 600 years. The theories that explain why its inhabitants left the village are several. Some historians say that this was caused by an abrupt climate change, while others claim that a violent storm forced the inhabitants to flee from the village leaving behind many of their belongings. Whatever the reason was, the result was that the village remained covered with sand and earth for many centuries and was forgotten until 1850 when a severe storm hit Scotland, stripping a large tract of land off the coast and consequently, uncovering the village.
It was then when the locals discovered the settlement that was in such a good state of preservation that it has provided a wide insight into the lifestyle of the people who lived there. Thanks to this, we now know what these people ate and did for a living. We also know that they had stone-made furniture and a primitive form of toilets. These folks really knew about comfort!
Skara Brae gained Unesco World Heritage Site status and is probably older than the Pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge. It is also known as the Scottish Pompeii and is a ‘must visit’ whenever going to Scotland. However, when visiting, have in mind that strict rules are applied to visitors as the settlement is extremely sensitive to the effects of these, which could cause irreversible damage.
Can money buy happiness? A question we ask ourselves again and again. Some say yes, some say no, but as a matter of fact, it does help, especially in situations where one finds himself/herself unable to cover basic needs. Money does contribute to make people happier, or at least more comfortably situated in life, but not everything can be purchased, or can it? Feeling moved by a scenery, a particular song or a kind gesture from a stranger, cannot be provided by paper notes or a piece of plastic slotted through an electronic device. Whatever happiness is, or however we think we can reach it is undoubtedly something quite personal and depends heavily on how each one of us sets our priorities. Meaning by this, that it’s up to you, or maybe not. I’ll leave that one for you to ponder upon.
Here’s a listening activity from Youtube channel After Skool to get you thinking about this particular issue.
Benjamin Zephaniah’s poem on animal rights and Christmas, is not only thought provoking, but is also put in such a humorous and clever way, that you actually can’t help admiring him as one of Britain’s top post-war writers.
Zephaniah, a dub poet and Rastafarian, once mentioned that his mission was to fight the dead image of poetry and take it to the streets with messages that concerned the daily lives of ordinary people; like you and me.
As an ESL teacher, having the opportunity to introduce students to the culture of my native UK and to poets such as Zephaniah, is really something awesome.
Have you ever felt that you couldn’t control a a strong drive to eat something? Are you one of those people that have to fight against themselves in order to avoid buying certain products on display at the supermarket? Do you often find yourself visiting your refrigerator, at late hours (while everybody is fast asleep), hoping, wishing and keeping fingers crossed that there is still, half a jar of chocolate spread left?
If you identify with these situations, you could be suffering from the effects of a behavioural addiction called food addiction. This addiction is characterised by a compulsive consumption of high fat and sugary foods that activates the reward system in humans, making them want more and more of the same thing. This doesn’t happen to be a coincidence as the food industry is well aware of this, and consequently, creates food that will be highly palatable for the great majority, despite the adverse consequences that this has on people’s health.
Here you have a listening activity from The National CBC News programme.