Saturday, 31 May 2014

Language Learning - it's never too late!

Some of you may already know but for those who don't, I am learning Welsh and have been for the past 4 years or so. Now, when I look back it doesn't seem like I have achieved a lot in those 4 years... but I have! I'm confident enough to have a quick chat with Welsh speakers and can talk to the school teachers in Welsh - slightly stilted but I can do it!

So, I thought I'd write a series of blog posts to help other Welsh learners with their vocabulary, etc. This is by no means going to be a structured lesson plan(!) but just some hints and tips that I find useful.

Here's my list of 6 top tips 'dysgu Cymraeg'!
  1. Enroll in a class - you can learn loads of vocab at home via online courses but you cannot practice online like you do in a group situation. Lessons can be formal or much more informal so don't be scared by the 'classroom' aspect of it! One class local to me meets in the pub, so never say never!
  2. Read at least 5 minutes every day in your target language. I'm lucky that we have many Welsh books at home due to my children being educated in Welsh, but don't forget libraries will have a good selection of books available and you can request books to be ordered in if necessary.
  3. Try to use a few words in 'real life' each day. Even if you only say 'diolch' (thank you) when you've paid for your items in the shop, you'll get used to hearing your voice saying the 'strange' words!
  4. Talk to someone in Welsh as much as you can - the dog or cat is VERY useful for this. Again, it's just getting used to your voice sounding different (and the dog/cat will never criticise your accent!).
  5. Watch S4C or listen to Radio Cymru. The children's programmes on S4C (Cyw) are very useful as the language used is simple to understand and not over-complicated.
  6. It will not happen overnight! There have been some times when I've sat in a lesson and felt completely lost, but don't give up! Ask what you need to ask, as there's probably someone else wanting to ask exactly the same question as you but they aren't brave enough. So be the brave one!
Of course, these tips can be used when learning any language. So give it a go! Do you have any tips you'd like to share with us?

Sunday, 11 May 2014

The BritMum's Challenge - being a #morrisonsmum!

Morrisons used to be my supermarket of choice when living in the city. Living literally a 10 minute walk or 2 minutes drive away made it really convenient and easy to do both the weekly shop and smaller top-up shops in between. Since moving to the sticks, a visit to Morrisons supermarket is quite a luxury! Our local supermarket isn't the cheapest, but for day to day shopping for bread, milk, etc. it's fine and I can't justify an hours drive each way for a small shop!

So, enough about me and my Morrisons relationship - how did we get on with the BritMum's Challenge?
The 'I'm Cheaper' campaign has been covered in the national media and on the Morrisons website itself, but it's much easier to see for yourself what exactly is cheaper and how the overall prices compare. We were pleased to see that it was not just own label items that were cheaper; branded items and marketplace produce is also included in the price promise, with clear markers showing you where the price changes had occurred.

I don't often consciously 'track' the cost of my shopping, but know the prices of regular items such as bread and milk. The Morrisons prices compared better than my usual supermarket for most general items, but there were a couple of items currently on offer in my usual supermarket that were more expensive in Morrisions, but this was purely down to the particular special offer.

Our weekly shop consists of probably half and half branded products and own label products, but we did buy a few treats for over the Bank Holiday weekend due to celebrating my youngest child's 7th birthday on Sunday!
I try to plan at least half of our meals for the week so with each shop I do, I have some sort of shopping list to work to. The rest of the meals are more flexible as we would see what special offers were in store at the time! To help us plan this week, we decided to look at the recipes on the Morrisions website. There's a great recipe tool where you can search by meal, ingredient and even whether the recipe is 'kid-friendly'.

Here are the links to the recipes that we chose to make throughout the week:

Perfect Pizza served with salad and crusty bread

Chilli Con Carne served with rice and a dollop of natural yoghurt

Cheesy Chicken Nuggets served with potato wedges and carrots/sweet corn

Tuna Pasta Bake, again, served with salad and crusty bread

And a couple of treats and puddings!

Raspberry Ripple Fluff

Yoghurt Lollies

Pancakes - I know it's not Shrove Tuesday, hey it's not even Tuesday, but we love pancakes!

All of these have a good value, price per serving - who can beat the pancakes at literally pence per serving.... but it all depends on how many you eat! The pizza is less than £1 a serving, of course, you can add more toppings which can alter the price but even then, a great mid-week meal for the family.

The chilli con carne (our favourite!) works out at under £1.30 per portion - rice included! Both the chicken nuggets and tuna pasta bake come in at about £1 a portion, so again, great value!

The pizza, chilli con carne and tuna pasta bake all use the same basic tomato sauce base, so we made this in one batch and used it through the week (it will keep for up to 3 days).

Raspberry Ripple Fluff - with extra birthday decoration! 
On top of our weekly shop, we bought picnic items for our day out to Fairbourne Railway on Monday and other items to use for meals throughout the week, for example a seafood mix for making paella one day, treats for the dog, drinks and after school snacks for the kids! We spent around £100 in total, so with the treats thrown in, we feel that this was very reasonable.
Overall, Morrisons provided good value for money, with sensible offers and 'I'm Cheaper' prices on things that you would buy in a normal weekly shop.

The only thing that stops me from shopping here more regularly is purely the distance! So, if you've a Morrisons local to you and you're not a regular customer, give it a try!