Tag Archives: family

413. With The Family (Part 1) Mum’s Cooking + Vocabulary (with Uncle Nic)

Happy New Year! I hope you’re well! Here’s the first episode of LEP in 2017 featuring a conversation with my family and then some vocabulary explanations.

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I had a lovely Christmas and New Year. We played games, ate loads of food, went to the pub, took walks and generally had a good time with each other, as planned.

My uncle Nic (my mum’s younger brother) and my auntie Rose (Nic’s wife) were with us too, which was really nice because it’s always great to spend time with them, and I’m glad to say that I managed to get Nic on the podcast, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages because he’s great and he has some good stories to tell, as you will hear.

I didn’t get a chance to do a lot of recording with my family because it was the holiday period and I didn’t want to stick microphones in people’s faces too much.

But on Boxing Day I managed to do some recordings with my uncle, my mum, my brother and my dad.

I’m going to play those recordings to you over the course of the next two episodes.

In this episode you’ll hear these things:

  • My mum and my uncle talking about specific methods of cooking a really good Christmas dinner
  • Some vocabulary explanations – because there are loads of good words and phrases relating to cooking and food preparation, and also some other general bits of vocab that crop up in the conversation that are worth learning.
  • A bit of rambling at the end of the episode about the holiday period, including a quick report about the Christmas Olympic games that my Dad organised for us and some other bits and pieces

Part 1 (overview)

We start with James and Uncle Nic talking about how early in the morning it is, because we recorded this before breakfast on Boxing Day. This is probably the first pre-breakfast podcast I’ve ever done.
My wife accidentally spills some coffee down the back of one of the armchairs in the living room and you’ll hear that there’s a bit of commotion and disturbance in the background as people run around and she desperately tries to clean it up.
My uncle and I ask my mum about the secret to cooking a succulent, moist turkey, which apparently is done using a process called basting.
My uncle expresses some concern about the cleanliness of the microphone covers I’m using, asking if they have been sterilized, and that leads to a slight tangent about Health & Safety in the workplace.
We then get back to talking about my mum’s turkey technique with some explanations of exactly how to make sure the meat stays moist all the way through the cooking process. Moist is the key word here obviously, as the word is repeated a few times until my brother interrupts by shouting “stop saying moist!”
We then turn to the vegetables and go on a bit about how my Mum prepared the sprouts, carrots, potatoes and parsnips. There are a couple of other interruptions from James, including a joke about the secret of comedy and then an explosive sneeze. Throughout all of this my wife is still rushing around in the background and searching the internet for “how to get coffee stains out of an armchair”.
We talk briefly about the complications of preparing Christmas lunch with a vegetarian at the table, as my auntie Rose is a veggie.
Talk then turns naturally to sweet food and my uncle Nic expresses some disappointment about the lack of a traditional Christmas pudding at the table the evening before.
Finally, my Auntie Rose arrives in the room and sits in the chair that my wife spilled coffee onto, but thankfully my wife has already managed to clean it all up, without my help, there’s no evidence of a spillage, so it looks like my wife got away with it.

So, now you can actually listen to that conversation as it happened and when it’s over I’ll go through some of the vocabulary in more detail so you can not only understand everything my family say but also so you can actually learn loads of vocabulary properly and add it to your active English.

Conversation extract starts
Conversation extract ends

That was quite a short bit of conversation, wasn’t it! By the usual standards of LEP, it was quite short. But there’s more coming in the next episode.


I said before that I would go through some of the words and phrases in that conversation in order to help to boost your learning process.

A lot of phrases related to specific ways of cooking and preparing food were in there. There were also lots of other nice bits of vocab too.

So, this is the language section of the podcast. As I am explaining the vocabulary, you can think about these things:

  • Did you notice these words and phrases while you listened?
  • Did you already know them or are they new to you?
  • Did you misunderstand or mishear any of them?
  • What other words go with these words? Try to notice words in groups, chunks or phrases.
  • How exactly are these words and phrases pronounced? How is the pronunciation different from the spelling. Remember to check the page for the episode to see the words written down in order to check their spelling.
  • After my help, would you be able to use these words in your own conversations?
  • And will you use these expressions? That’s a question, but also a request! I wonder if you will use them, and I suggest that you use them too because that’s how you will make them a part of your active vocabulary.

As I’m going through this list you can test your knowledge – see if you really know these words and phrases properly.
You could repeat some of this language after me as well. Do some shadowing.
And I suggest that after listening to me explain all this vocab that you go back and listen to that conversation extract again, try to notice the vocabulary when you hear it and see how much more you understand.

Vocabulary List

You can tell what time it is based on the rapidity of his response. (rapid – adj / rapidly – adv / rapidity – noun)
My wife’s just spilled/spilt tea all over the armchair.
To spill / spilt / spilt (UK spelling)
To spill / spilled / spilled (US spelling)
A spillage (noun)
The secret to a succulent, moist turkey is basting.
Succulent (adj) = tender, juicy and tasty (for meat)
Moist (adj) = slightly wet (can be used to describe food, e.g. moist turkey or moist cake, but it also can describe anything else which is slightly wet and for that reason the word is a bit suggestive and rude-sounding)
Moist / moisture / moisturise
Paul Foot – Moist Cake bit. Essentially he’s making the observation that when someone serves you some home-made cake you have to compliment the person by saying how moist it is! Even if it’s not that moist. “Oh, this cake is so moist! How did you get it so moist!” There’s social etiquette which dictates that you have to compliment the person on how moist their cake is, and you have to do it quite quickly. “Mmm, it’s lovely this cake – so moist! How did you get it so lovely and moist! Whenever I make cake it’s so dry! I’m an awful cook, but your cake is so moist!” – it’s polite to compliment the person who made the cake.

A ladle (noun) / to ladle (verb)
They make a heck of a din. (the bells)
A hell of a …
A heck of a …
A din = a loud and unpleasant noise
“You’ll be the judge of that” – a way to emphasise that someone has to make their own judgement about something.
Also: “I’ll be the judge of that” – used to express some anger while saying “I will make that judgement – not you!” e.g. “I make the best tea in London”, “We’ll I’ll be the judge of that!”
Have these microphone covers been sterilised?
To sterilise something (verb)
Health & Safety legislation
Fire extinguishers are in good order.
To trip over the carpet.
To sue you for a lot of money. To sue the shop.
Line the dish with lots of foil and then put some turkey stock in the base of the dish.
She sliced the sprouts.
I saw it in a recipe book.
It cuts the cooking time down.
Stove / oven / cooker / cook
Oven = a large metal device with a door in which you cook food at high temperature.
Stove = an oven, with gas or electric hobs on the top where you can cook things over heat
It’s also something which heats your room. You burn wood and coal in it. E.g. a wood-buring stove in the living room.
Cooker = a device which cooks things – it can be an oven, a stove, or just an electric pot, slow cooker etc.
“What’s the secret of comedy?” …Timing.
Parsnips (root vegetable)
“Tatties and neeps” (Scotland) = potatoes and parsnips
You have to parboil them, drain the water off, roast them in hot oil in the oven (just a little bit).
You mean like, deep-fry them?
No, just roast them.
In the last minute rush and fluster I forgot about the potatoes.
Gill took it upon herself to do poached pears and caramelised oranges.
She’s sitting in the chair that Luke’s wife spilt coffee on so it might be a wee bit damp.
wee = little (typical word in Scotland)

In forthcoming episodes…

More conversations with my family, including some anecdotes about meeting famous people – with stories about meeting members of the royal family, some legends of TV comedy and perhaps the biggest rock and roll star on the planet right now. Who do you think that is? Well, my uncle met him once. You can hear that story and others in an upcoming episode.

Also on the podcast soon I’m hoping to record a ramble about some general stuff that happened over the Christmas period, including some words about a few books I received as presents, some comments about the well-loved celebrities that we lost in 2016 including, notably Carrie Fisher and George Michael during the Christmas holiday. We lost some great people at regular intervals during the year. Let’s hope 2017 doesn’t continue that trend.
Also, I’ve seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and I will be doing a full episode about that too.

So, brace yourselves, more podcasts are coming!

But for now – GOODBYE!

Background music – JukeDeck – make your own tunes at www.jukedeck.com

322. With The Thompsons

Hello again, how are you? Welcome back to the podcast. Here’s a new episode for your listening pleasure. This one is a rambling conversation with my parents and my brother about everything and nothing.

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Some News & Stuff

Just before we get started – here are just three announcements or bits of news.

First: I’ve received loads of emails recently, especially over the Christmas holiday period. I managed to write back to quite a few of them, but unfortunately some of them go unanswered – so I would just like to say sorry if I didn’t get back to you. Even if I don’t reply, I love getting messages from listeners, and please know that I read everything that is sent to me.

Second: The LEP photo competition. I’ve received loads of photos and the competition ends soon. Then I’ll post all the pics and you can vote for your favourites, and the one that gets the most votes will get an LEP mug plus a t-shirt or bag. The runners up will get a mug each. Personally I love seeing the contexts in which you are listening to this podcast. It is really cool! I’m looking forward to sharing them on the site for all to see.

Since we’re talking about competitions, this is usually the time of year that I ask you to vote for me in the Macmillan Love Dictionary Awards, but it seems that they’re not running it this year. Perhaps they got fed up with me winning it every time! I don’t know. But anyway, that’s not happening, but I’d like to ask you a favour – if you know of any other awards at all for learning English websites or online services, please do consider nominating me and my podcast. Awards are a great way of bringing exposure to the podcast. The Macmillan Awards were really helpful for bringing new audience members to the show every year, and for giving the website a bit of kudos too. So, please do nominate LEP for any awards that you’re aware of, if you think I deserve it of course – I would really appreciate it.

Third: Disappearing Comments. *Actually, this is now resolved! I found a way to fix it and you can read comments on the homepage again :) * You might have noticed that comments have disappeared from the front page of my website. Normally I have a load of comments that show up under the text on the front page of my site. It’s important for me because new visitors to the site can see the positive comments and it’s a great endorsement of my podcast, but the comments are gone and I don’t know why. I find that quite annoying. I run my website myself and I’m no expert, as you may be able to tell. The site looks pretty basic but it does the job. I use WordPress to manage the site – so if any of you out there can explain to me why the comments on my front page have disappeared, I’d really appreciate it. The comments box is still there, and the comments are still visible in my admin dashboard, but they’re just not showing up on the front page. Comments are visible on all other pages and posts on my site. I think it may be something to do with the template, and .php files and stuff – but it all gives me a headache and I’m a bit cautious about messing with the template files of my website. So, if you know about this stuff then let me know if you have a solution to my missing comments section.

OK, that’s enough technical stuff – I don’t want to bore you! Let me hurry up and introduce this episode.


As you know I was back at home in England this Christmas and while I was there I managed to record a few rambling conversations with various members of my family. You already heard the geeky conversation with James about Star Wars, but in this episode I’m speaking to my Mum and Dad too.

At Christmas time, or in fact whenever we’re together as a family, we like to sit around and talk rubbish for a while, often over a glass of wine or a meal or something. It’s sort of a family tradition – I’m sure it’s the same thing for many of you. I like talking rubbish with my parents, and as a family I think we’re quite good at wittering on about whatever comes into our heads. Usually there’s some disagreement, arguing and bickering involved, like you heard a few years ago in an episode of LEP called Family Arguments and Debates, in which I recorded arguments and discussions with my Mum, Dad and brother about various things. Well, here’s another one.

For this episode I decided I’d like to give you the chance to listen in on one of our family rambling sessions. You can imagine that for an hour you’ve joined us at my family’s home in Warwick, you’ve had a glass of wine or three, and now we’re all sitting around enjoying each others company and generally setting the world to rights.

In terms of language learning – there’s no target language which I’m teaching you in this episode. Instead I’m just letting you hear some natural conversation between native speakers. As usual I recommend that you just follow the conversation, try to understand it all, get carried away with it, think about your own responses to the questions I’m asking, try to notice certain bits of language and grammatical usage as it comes up naturally. My parents are both educated and well-spoken people. They have standard British accents – they speak RP, which is like BBC English. In fact, my Dad worked for the BBC as a news broadcaster for many years. My Mum works in a charity bookshop and also likes to study subjects like art and history in her free time. You’ll also hear my brother James who you already know. He’s a freelance designer who still likes skateboarding in his free time even though he’s getting on a bit now, and last year he fell of his board and dislocated his shoulder. You can hear all about that story in episode 180 “Dislocated Shoulder”. teacherluke.co.uk/2014/05/20/180-dislocated-shoulder/

In this episode I wanted to get my family talking a bit, so I prepared some random questions and posed them to the group. If you like you can write your answers to any of the questions in this episode as comments on the page for this episode. It’s a good way to interact and practise your English at the same time.

So now, just sit back, relax and enjoy this rambling conversation about everything and nothing, recorded in the company of the Thompsons at Christmas time.

2. Easter / Interview with my Dad / Language Focus: Adverbials

A conversation with my Dad about Easter, and a language point about adverbials. Full transcript available below.

Right click here to download this episode.

Small Donate Button This is the transcript to “EPISODE 2 – EASTER”
Hello, and welcome to Luke’s English podcast, the real British English podcast. This is episode two of the podcast and I’m very pleased because I’ve already had a couple of emails from a couple of people who’ve listened to the podcast, and one of those emails comes from Jose Manuel in Alicante in Spain and he asks me about Easter because it’s Easter at the moment. He asks me what we do normally in the UK at Easter and, well it’s funny you should ask that Jose (Jose, I’m sure that’s how you say it) because right now I’m at my parents’ place. I’ve travelled up on the train from London and I’m at my parents house which is in the countryside in Warwickshire and this is a typical thing that people of my age do, they normally travel back to their parents’ houses and they spend time with their families together and actually in this episode I’m going to be joined by my dad so I’m going to interview my dad about Easter, so he’ll tell you some typical things about Easter time in the UK and so that’s going to be our feature in part two and then at the end of the podcast I’m going to talk about some adverbs, some useful adverbs in response to another email that we got and so that’s what’s going to happen in today’s podcast.

Luke: OK, so I’m now joined by my dad, Rick, but obviously I call him Dad, I don’t call him Rick. Hi Dad,
Rick: Hello Luke
Luke: How are you?
Rick: I’m fine, thank you very much
Luke: Good, so, obviously I’m here at my parents’ house because it’s Easter, at your house. This is what I normally do, isn’t it?
Rick: Yes, it is, it’s a time to get together with the family
Luke: Right, ok so, so Easter then. Now Easter is a season when we remember the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ by telling our children that a large rabbit comes in the night and leaves chocolate eggs in the garden, now I don’t know about you but that seems a bit strange to me I don’t know what the connection is between the Jesus thing and a big rabbit and chocolate and eggs and things, what do you think about that?
Rick: Well this idea of the Easter rabbit coming and bringing eggs is a bit of an American idea really and I think that it’s a very interesting mixture between Christianity and old pagan beliefs, I mean, obviously the Christian celebration of Easter is, as you say, about the crucifixion and, after three days, the resurrection of Christ, so it’s a crucial celebration and stands alongside Christmas, the birth of Christ and then the death of Christ, the two big Christian festivals.
Luke: That’s the Christian thing, you said something about Pagan, what does that mean?
Rick: Well of course you know experts will tell you that 2,000 years ago when Christianity started to spread across Europe it did, if you like, take over the Pagan festivals that already existed
Luke: So Pagan is the kind of religion that people had …
Rick: it’s pre-Christian …
Luke: … before christianity,
Rick: Yes and it’s got a lot to do with various gods and superstition and of course pagan times there was a big winter festival and there was a big spring festival and the spring festival was of course the festival of fertility and growth and new growth …
Luke: …and new life
Rick: … of new life and of course if you lived in a society where it was very important that the crops didn’t fail this was a time when you wanted to have all the good luck you could get, to have the gods on your side to make sure that the crops had a very successful season …
Luke: OK, so before Christianity then, Easter was a festival, a pagan festival when people celebrated the start of new life and spring time and good luck for your, you know, farming for that year, right?
Rick: yes
Luke: now I understand the egg connection because an egg is the symbol of new life right? But why … now actually one of my students asked me this last week, why do we have chocolate eggs, why chocolate?
Rick: Well I must admit I’m not entirely sure, but my guess is that people have given each other eggs at Easter time, or if you like, at spring time as a gift because it is, as you say, the time when all the birds are laying their eggs
Luke: right, chickens and stuff
Rick: well chickens but all the wild birds are nesting and making nests and laying eggs and remember that in the old days people used to use the natural resources very very much, the berries and the eggs were a resource …
Luke: so they …
Rick … and they would go out into the countryside and gather the eggs and eat them …
Luke: right, so they used …
Rick … so the egg season came in and people would no doubt give each other eggs and presents and then when we discovered the joys of chocolate I suppose it was a natural thing to give people chocolate eggs instead
Luke: just a sort of gift …
Rick: … a gift which symbolises new life
Luke: so its nicer really to give someone a chocolate egg than just an egg because just an egg, I mean, it’s alright, you can boil it or fry it or something but it’s nicer as a gift to give someone a chocolate egg I suppose
Rick: yes I suppose
Luke: right so let’s see, what do English families usually do then at Easter in the UK? oh um yea, what do English families normally do at Easter?
Rick: well it is a traditional time for the family to get together and it’s a long weekend, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and those four days is when most families, you know, get together and these days they get in the car and they drive to the parents or the grandparents and it is very much a family get together and they give each other chocolate eggs in most households.
Luke: When I was a kid I remember what you and mum used to do is at Easter you used to hide eggs, you used to hide chocolate eggs around the house or around the garden and me and James, (James and I) would go and try and find the eggs, so that was always fun.
What did you do when you were a child?
Rick: Well I remember I used to go to my grandparents’ house. They lived up in the north of England in the countryside, and they had real boiled eggs, hard boiled eggs which were boiled in water that had been coloured with something so you were given a pink egg or a blue egg or a green egg and we would roll them, this was really quite a well established tradition that you roll the eggs down some kind of bank, down a hill, you roll the eggs down a hill, why I’m not sure but that’s what people did, they used to roll the eggs down the hill and run after them as a kind of game
Luke: so you’d walk up a little hill with your blue or pink eggs and then you would sort of roll them down the hill and then run after them and have a lot of fun running after some blue and pink …
Rick: … that’s right and if your egg broke it didn’t matter because it was hard boiled it was cooked and then you would eat the egg at the bottom of the hill, that’s what you did, you rolled the egg down the hill and you chased after it and you caught it and you ate it.
Luke: Right, well that sounds like lots of fun I suppose these days if … I think probably children are so lazy now that if you hid some chocolate eggs in the house they would probably, you know, be too lazy to get up and try and find them, you’d probably have to leave ipods or something around the garden, because if you left an ipod in the garden then a child would probably get up from in front of the TV and try and find it. I think kids these days are too lazy to do anything really unless there’s an ipod involved.
Rick: I don’t really agree with you Luke and I know you’re really just teasing, but the point is of course is that it’s fun and kids do like to search for things, to hunt for things whether it be a little chocolate egg or indeed a little chocolate rabbit and sometimes you hide little chocolate rabbits around the house and ask the children to find them and they love it.
Luke: I hit a rabbit the other day in the car when I was driving.
Rick: Really?
Luke: There’s lots of rabbits around here, you know I was I – um my parents live in the countryside, listeners – and there’s lots and lots of rabbits especially at this time of year and I was driving the car to the station to pick up my brother James, and a rabbit ran out in front of the car and I didn’t hit the rabbit with the wheels so I didn’t squash it but the rabbit went under the car and I heard a kind of noise …
Rick: … clonk …
Luke: … a kind of dum noise as the rabbit, probably the rabbit hit his head on something under the car. I looked in the mirror and there was just a dead rabbit
Rick: what a horrible thought! Mind you you do see an awful lot of dead rabbits on the roads these days there are thousands of them and they do have a terrible habit, a rabbit habit of running out in front of your car …
Luke: they’re stupid aren’t they?
Rick: … they wait until you’re coming and then they run out
Luke: They’re just stupid really aren’t they. Anyway there are so many of them that it doesn’t matter
Rick: Well it’s a pity for that particular rabbit but there’s nothing much you can do about it when it hurls itself in front of your car
Luke: Well there’s plenty of food for the birds
Rick: That’s quite right lots of birds eat the dead rabbits – the crows, the magpies and the buzzards, they live on the rabbits which are killed on the roads.
Luke: Well, thanks very much Dad for, you know, for agreeing to talk to me, yea, it was very nice, thank you
Rick: ok and I hope you have a very happy Easter Luke
Luke: Yes, happy Easter to you too
Rick: Thank you.

Ok so that was my dad, um a very nice man, very well educated, he knows a lot of things about history and all sorts of things so I’m very lucky to be able to interview him.
Now like I said at the beginning of the show, I had another email about an English question, now I got an email from Miho in Yokohama in Japan and she asked me what ‘basically’ means, because she heard me in the first podcast using the word ‘basically’ a lot and she’s right I do say ‘basically’ quite a lot, it’s a very common word, particularly for me. Lots of people use the word ‘basically’. Now the word ‘basically’ is an adverb and adverbs are great words, very useful words that you can use at the beginning of a sentence. Now a word like ‘basically’ doesn’t really mean very much but people use it almost like a habit. Really, ‘basically’ is used to say … before you say something you use the word ‘basically’ to show that you are going to say something in a simple or basic way, OK? So for example if I use the word ‘basically’ you put it at the beginning of the sentence and you’d say something like this: “basically, this is a podcast to give learners of English some listening practice” OK?
Now there are lots of other adverbs that you can use in a similar way at the beginning of a sentence and you’ll probably know adverbs because most of them end in ly, now we get lots of different kinds of adverbs in different positions in the sentence but the adverbs I’m going to teach you now are ones you can use at the start of a sentence. So we’ve got adverbs like basically, actually, obviously, strangely enough, frankly speaking, recently, unfortunately, amazingly and hopefully. Ok so I’m just going to give you some examples of that now, so we’ll start with ‘actually’:
“Actually this is only the second podcast I have ever done” ok? So there’s an example. Now if you speak Spanish and some other European languages, ‘actually’ in your language means ‘currently’, meaning ‘now’ so actually doesn’t mean ‘now’i t just means ‘as a matter of fact’, right? So, “actually this is only the second podcast I have ever done”.
The third one is ‘obviously’. Now we use “obviously” to say something that is obvious, so say something that everybody knows. Now, football players use ‘obviously’ a lot when they are doing interviews now, just as an example you might say “obviously we were the best team in the competition” right? Now you would say ‘obviously’ because your team won so of course your team was the best one. “Obviously my team was the best team in the competition” for example.
The next one is ‘strangely enough’, now that’s used to say something that is strange. OK, so for example, “strangely enough I don’t really like fish and chips, even though I’m English” right? So that’s strange because most English people like fish and chips, so “strangely enough I don’t really like fish and chips even though I’m English”.
The next one is ‘frankly speaking’, now this is something you would say that’s rather honest, OK, so for example, “frankly speaking it was the worst film I’ve seen in a long long time” so if you are being very honest about something you can say ‘frankly speaking’, “Frankly speaking it was the worst film I’ve ever seen”.
The next one is ‘recently’. Now you probably know ‘recently’, we use it to say something that happened in near or close time. Right? So for example “recently I’ve been listening to lots of Rolling Stones records”. Ok? “Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Rolling Stones records”.
The next one is ‘unfortunately’, and we use that one to talk about something bad that’s happened, OK? something that you regret, OK? So for example, “unfortunately, I had to leave before the end of the lesson” OK ? “unfortunately I had to leave before the end of the lesson”. So that would be a bad thing because, obviously you want to be in the classroom for the whole lesson, but “unfortunately I had to leave before the end of the lesson and I missed the most important part”, for example.
And finally, the next one I’d like to teach you is ‘amazingly enough’. We use that one to describe something amazing for example “Amazingly enough, I’ve never been to Edinburgh” “Amazingly enough I’ve never seen a musical” and “amazingly enough I’ve never been to Harrods”. Now that’s amazing because I live in London and I’ve never been to Harrods, right? So “amazingly enough I’ve never been to Harrods”, OK?
Oh there’s one more, and that’s ‘hopefully’. Now if you hope for something then you can use ‘hopefully’, for example “hopefully this podcast isn’t boring” right? Ok?
Right, so that’s the end of part three and that’s the end of this podcast. Don’t forget to email me. I’d like to end with a question again now, and the question this time is: what kind of music is popular in your country at the moment? so what are people interested in at the moment in terms of music in your country? So, for example is it mainly English language music so music from American or Britain, or is music from your country more popular than English Language music? So, don’t forget to email me, that’s: luketeacher@hotmail.com and I look forward to hearing from you very soon. That’s the end of the podcast, bye bye bye bye bye…..