READING ESL: fun on the cheap

New Year’s Eve in a Wet and Windy Wellington – BRILLIANT!

Dave Armstrong, a journalist for Wellington (NZ)’s Dominion Post newspaper, wrote about the New Year’s Eve celebrations in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington.

Here is a version written with ordinary, international English. I have posted a link to the original article and a list of less common English words and phrases from the original story directly below the easy English version.

Easy English version:

By late afternoon on New Year’s Eve the weather was still bad. The wind was blowing, the rain was pouring and our street was empty because everybody else had left Wellington to go to warmer places. We were still here because we had some family members visiting, so we made plans to go out to dinner and then take our visitors to see the fireworks display on the waterfront. Because the weather was so bad we contacted the city council to double check that the fireworks display had not been cancelled due to bad weather.

Wellington City Council, a city council that has been unable to make a decision about the city’s terrible transport and traffic problems, has been very strong and single-minded about the issue of New Year’s Eve  firework displays. The roading and transport plans are sometimes ‘yes’ and sometimes ‘no’ – depending on who is asking – but the fireworks display is ‘Yes!’, ‘Yes!’ ‘Yes!’; despite the obvious problems of wind and rain.

The city council is not alone in hoping that the weather might improve. Hoping for better weather is something that all Wellingtonians do during the summer months. After all, you never know, it might get better.

People who are live in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest and warmest city, do not need think about the weather in the same way as Wellingtonians. If Aucklanders plan a barbecue and it starts to rain, they will quickly pack up the expensive steaks and speciality sausages and continue cooking in the kitchen …

…but not in Wellington! The barbecue host puts on a raincoat and continues cooking outside. The guests will shake with cold as they try to warm their hands on the cooking fire, and the host’s partner will make sure that any metal objects that could be hit by lightning are safely removed from the barbecue area. Finally the sausages are cooked (more rain-boiled than fried), and everyone agrees that Wellington is a great place to spend summer.

And so it was on New Year’s Eve. The rain had stopped (as we had hoped), and even though it was still windy the waterfront was crowded with party-goers.

I expected lots of drunk and angry teenagers, but most of the party-goers were family groups and others all having a good time. From the labels and brands of outdoor clothes that people wore I could tell that there were also overseas tourists enjoying the wet and windy weather on the waterfront as well as the locals.

We listened Orchestra Wellington’s mix of classical music mixed with classic film themes; images accompanying the music were displayed on a large screen as well as onto nearby buildings. There was a wonderful atmosphere on the waterfront, but the cost of the entertainment was minimal.

The police were at the event, but they weren’t needed and they kept a low and friendly profile. It was good to see that Wellingtonians don’t need an alcoholic sevens rugby tournament or a hundred dollar-a-ticket arts event to enjoy themselves.

A lot of people complained about the city council’s lack of public celebrations last year. This year, the council listened and staged the fireworks event on the waterfront. Everyone looked like they had a good time. The council made a cheap choice – and the right choice. Let’s hope they do it again next year.

Like the low-cost light festival the council staged with Massey University and local artists, people came in their thousands to watch. The formula for both events seems simple:

  • Don’t try too hard to attract people from outside the city
  • Don’t try to charge high entrance fees
  • Keep local people happy
  • Keep costs down
  • Use local talent

If we can do a good job entertaining the people of Wellington, then other people will want to come anyway. Some other New Year’s Eve events around New Zealand were disappointingly violent. It seems to me that there’s no better place to be on New Year’s Eve than Wellington. Just don’t forget your hat – and coat, and boots.

 Here is the link to the original article:

Dave Armstrong: Fireworks a display of capital’s might

Here is a list of the less common words used in the original article:

WARMER CLIMES (expression) warmer climates

FLAKY (adj) weak and indecisive

AT THE DROP OF A HAT (expression) immediately

RESOLUTE (adj) determined to do it

OBDURATE (adj) obstinate, determined not to change

GENERALS (n) high ranking military officers

TORRENTIAL RAIN a lot of very heavy rain

GALE FORCE (adj) a scale for measuring wind speed, gale force is very strong

PLUNGING (adj) diving, dropping

OPTIMISM (n) always expecting good news or results, cheerfully hopeful

SPIT (v) to shoot small drops of liquid out between your lips \, spitting rain means starting to rain

PARKA (n) coat for cold weather

SHIVERING (v) shaking because of the cold – or fear

PACKED (adj) crowded

REVELLERS (n) people enjoying a party

ANORAK (n) rain coat

ENRAPTURED (v) enjoying a wonderful experience

COMPLEMENTED (v) well matched together, go well together

STRAFING (v) shooting people from an aeroplane

HAPLESS (n) unlucky

BLISS (n) perfect enjoyment

ATMOSPHERE (n) the mood, the feeling

SHOESTRING (n) very low budget

BOOZY (adj) a lot of alcoholic

FLAK (n) criticism

MODEST (adj) medium, not the most expensive, not the cheapest  (compare noun form ‘modesty’)

VAPOUR (n) steam or mist

CHARGING HEAPS (expression)  charging a lot of money / heaps of food = lots of food

NURTURE (v) to grow, to care for

RIOT (n) an angry crowd fighting (also a verb)

GUMBOOTS (n) waterproof boots made from rubber


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