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OK, let’s start the episode.
Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for pre-intermediate learners. The name of the story is Love Like Salt. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Salt. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Salt. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So recently, I finally feel like I have been getting into healthy working routines.
You may know that last year was the first year I worked full-time from home. Before that, I was making the podcast, teaching online and teaching in two schools in person. But because of coronavirus, I moved all of my teaching online.
This was quite a big change, because I had never worked full-time from home before, and as you know, it was a very difficult time to organise your routines, with lockdown, quarantines and so on!
At first, I had very unhealthy working routines. I worked long days, I worked in the evenings, I worked most weekends, and I told myself that was OK. You know? I said, ‘Well, I don’t need weekends. I’ll just spread my work across the week. It doesn’t matter if I work evenings because I’ll take breaks throughout the day.’ But really, I was pushing myself very hard and I was doing too much work.
Because I’m self-employed—that is, I choose how I work and I make my money off this podcast and other projects—I have a lot of freedom in how I work. So the problem is, there’s no-one to say, ‘Your work is done.’ There’s always more work I can do. And I definitely experienced this last year.
At first, I did way too much work. I did emails every week, I did live streams, I did so much extra stuff that was really great for all of you, and it was really great for the podcast, but it was really bad for my health and I always felt like I could be doing more. I also did YouTube videos! I just forgot about that. I was doing so much last year and it really wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t sustainable, it wasn’t something I could continue forever.
So this year, I really decided to try and find healthier working routines. I decided to stop teaching on Mondays so that I would have more time for writing and podcast work, and finally, within the last month or so, I’ve really found a healthy routine. I don’t work weekends anymore, and I try to have set hours during the week.
I don’t have super set hours. Like, I don’t calculate the exact hours I work or anything, but generally, I try not to work more than six or seven hours in a day.
I’m also trying to take more breaks, get up and move more, do more exercise and all of those things. Actually, exercise is something I’ve been doing especially a lot in the last few months. I’ve been working out three or four times a week, I’ve been walking lots, I’ve been swimming and I feel fantastic. I feel really great.
And the more exercise I do, the more I want to do. I want to try archery and rock climbing and, I don’t know, I just want to get out there and move and be strong! Like I said last week, I want to try crazy things like swimming in really cold water!
Anyway, if any of you have struggled with this problem as well, the problem of finding healthy working routines, I would love to hear it. Or maybe you have some advice on how to make healthy routines. Whatever the case, go over to the transcript at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Salt and leave a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
If you do something bad, like stealing food, and someone catches you, you are in trouble. Children often get into trouble because they do bad things and then their parents find out. But if a child is very clever, they can hide what they did, and they won’t get into trouble.
When you frown, you push your eyebrows together. Your eyebrows are the hairs above your eyes, on your head. When you are angry, or you don’t understand something, you frown. You shouldn’t frown too much, though, because then you’ll get wrinkles, lines on your forehead.
A marsh is a type of land. Marshes are low-lying, which means they are not high up. Marshes have lots of water in them, but you can still walk through them. They are like a mixture between land and sea. Lots of types of long grass grow in marshes.
A cloak is a long piece of clothing. It is basically a coat that covers the whole body and has a hood, a bit which goes over the head. Cloaks are not very popular nowadays, but they were very popular in the past for travelling and keeping warm. You mainly see them in fantasy stories now.
When you pretend, you do something but you don’t really do it. For example, if you pretend to eat, you don’t actually put the food in your mouth. If you pretend to drink, you don’t actually put the drink in your mouth. If you pretend to know something, you say, ‘Oh yes, I know that!’ but really you don’t.
A maid is a woman who works for someone, and does cooking and cleaning. These days, most people can’t afford to have a maid. Traditionally, maids wear a black and white outfit and are very old.
One meaning of once is ‘after’. For example, ‘Once you have listened to this episode of Easy Stories of English, you should go and leave a comment at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Salt.’ Or, ‘Once you have given up chocolate, you will lose a lot of weight.’
A lord is a type of noble. Nobles were important rich people in the past. Lords owned many houses, and they were the important people in society. In TV shows like Bridgerton or Downton Abbey there are many lords. Lords still exist in the UK, but they are not so important anymore.
When food is bland, it has no flavour. Usually, food is bland because there is no seasoning, no salt, pepper or herbs added to it. An example of bland food would be white bread with butter. Personally, I really don’t like bland food. The only time bland food is OK is when you’re ill and can’t eat anything too strong.
When two people fight about something, but afterwards they apologise and become friends again, they make up. It’s common for people to fight with their boyfriend or girlfriend, but they usually make up afterwards. Sometimes, it can take a few days or even a few weeks before two people make up.
If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support me on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5, you get an extra story every month, as well as Elevenses with Ariel, a daily conversational podcast for intermediate learners. You can support the show and get all the extra content at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
A big thank-you to my new patron: Natalia Maciejewska. Thank you so much, Natalia. Your support really means a lot to me.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
Love Like Salt
Once, there was a rich man with three daughters. He wanted to see how much they loved him.
So he said to the first daughter, ‘How much do you love me, my dear?’
‘I love you as much as I love my life,’ she said.
Satisfied, he asked the second daughter, ‘How much do you love me, my dear?’
‘I love you more than anything in the world,’ she said.
Satisfied, he asked the third daughter, ‘How much do you love me, my dear?’
The third daughter was more creative than the other two. She often got into trouble by saying clever things.
So she said, ‘I love you like fresh meat loves salt.’
Her father frowned. ‘You don’t love me at all!’ he cried. ‘Get out of my house.’
And so he threw her out of the house.
The girl cried and cried, but she had to find a way to live. So she walked until she reached a marsh. There, she took lots of long grass and made it into a cloak. The cloak covered her whole body, and hid her expensive clothes.
Then she walked until she came to a big house. She decided she would not tell them she had been thrown out. She would pretend she was just a young woman looking for work.
‘Do you want a maid, or maybe a cook?’ she said.
‘No, we don’t!’ they said.
‘I don’t have anywhere to go,’ she said. ‘I don’t need wages, just some food and a place to sleep. I’ll do anything, and I promise I won’t get into trouble.’
‘Alright,’ they said. ‘You can make soup and wash the pots.’
So the girl stayed there and worked as a maid. She made soup, washed the pots and did all the work that nobody else wanted to do. Because she had no name, they called her Cloak of Grass.
One day, there was a dance happening, on the other side of the marsh. Everyone could go and dance, and see all the rich people.
The people in the house asked Cloak of Grass if she wanted to go, but she said she was too tired, and stayed at home.
But once they were gone, she took off her cloak of grass, cleaned herself and went to the dance. She had the nicest clothes there, and everyone looked at her.
The dance was being held by a lord, and the lord’s son saw Cloak of Grass and fell in love with her. He danced with her three times that night, and didn’t want to leave her.
But when the dance was finished, Cloak of Grass went home and put the cloak back on. Then she pretended to be asleep.
The next morning, the people of the house said, ‘You missed something very special, Cloak of Grass!’
‘What was that?’ she said.
‘We saw the most beautiful woman in the world. The lord’s son couldn’t take his eyes off her.’
‘Oh, I wish I could have seen her!’ said Cloak of Grass.
‘Don’t worry. There’ll be another dance this evening, and we’re sure she’ll be there.’
That evening, everyone went to the dance again. Cloak of Grass told them she was too tired, but once they were gone, she took off her cloak, cleaned herself and went to the other side of the marsh.
The lord’s son had been hoping to see her, and he was very happy when she came. They danced all night, and he never took his eyes off her.
Before the dance was over, she disappeared and went home. When the maids came back, they found her in her cloak of grass, pretending to be asleep.
The next day, they said, ‘Cloak of Grass, you should have been there. The beautiful woman was there again, and the lord’s son never took his eyes off her.’
‘Oh, I wish I could have seen her!’ said Cloak of Grass.
‘Don’t worry. There’ll be another dance this evening. You really have to come this time. She’ll definitely be there.’
So in the evening, Cloak of Grass told them again that she was too tired, and waited for them to leave. Once they had left, she took off her cloak and went to the other side of the marsh.
When the lord’s son saw her, he was really happy. He danced with her again and again, and asked her lots of questions. But she wouldn’t tell him her name or where she was from.
So he gave her a ring and said that he must see her again, or he would die.
But before the dance was over, Cloak of Grass ran away and went home. The maids once again found her pretending to be asleep.
The next day, they said to her, ‘Cloak of Grass, you missed the beautiful woman again. And now you will never see her, because that was the last dance.’
‘Oh, I wish I could have seen her!’ said Cloak of Grass.
Meanwhile, the lord’s son tried everything he could to find the beautiful woman. He asked everyone about her, but he could find nothing out. He was so in love with her that he felt sick, and he had to go to bed.
‘Make some soup for the young man,’ said his maid to the cook. ‘Something bland to help his stomach. He’s sick with love for that woman.’
The cook started making the soup, when Cloak of Grass came in.
‘What are you doing?’ she said.
‘I’m making some soup for the lord’s son,’ said the cook. ‘He’s so in love with that woman that he got sick.’
‘Let me make it,’ said Cloak of Grass.
The cook didn’t want to say yes at first, but when he saw how serious she was, he agreed.
So Cloak of Grass made the soup, and when the cook wasn’t looking, she dropped the ring into it.
The young man drank the soup and found the ring at the bottom. He frowned and said, ‘Send me the cook.’
The cook came upstairs, and was very afraid, because the young man was frowning very much.
‘Who made this soup?’ he said.
‘I did,’ said the cook. He didn’t want to say it was Cloak of Grass, because he didn’t want her to get into trouble.
‘No you didn’t,’ said the young man. ‘Tell me who did it. Don’t worry, they won’t get into trouble.’
‘It was a young girl who wore a cloak of grass,’ he said.
And just then, Cloak of Grass came into the room.
‘Did you make this soup?’ said the young man.
‘Yes, I did,’ she said.
‘Where did you get this ring?’ he asked.
‘Did you forget? You gave it to me.’
The young man gasped. ‘Then you are…?’
Cloak of Grass took off her cloak, and there she was in her beautiful clothes.
The young man jumped out of bed and kissed her hand, and he ran through the house saying, ‘I found her, I found her! No, wait! She found me, she found me!’
The two of them made plans to get married soon after, and it was going to be a very big wedding. They asked everyone to come, from far and near. One of the people invited was Cloak of Grass’s father, but she told nobody who she really was.
Before the wedding, she went to the cook and said, ‘I want you to make every dish without salt. Don’t put any salt on anything.’
‘But it will be so bland!’ said the cook.
‘That doesn’t matter,’ she said. ‘Just do it.’
‘Fine then,’ said the cook. ‘First you want to make the soup yourself, now you don’t want salt in your food! You are a strange girl.’
Cloak of Grass just smiled.
The day of the wedding came, and the two were married. Afterwards, everyone sat down to eat.
All the food looked delicious. But when they started eating it, it was so bland that they couldn’t finish. Cloak of Grass’s father tried dish after dish, and finally he tried the meat and then burst into tears.
‘What’s the matter?’ said the lord’s son to him.
‘Oh!’ he said. ‘I once had a daughter, and I asked her how much she loved me. She said, “I love you like fresh meat loves salt.” I threw her out because I thought she didn’t love me. But now I see she loved me most of all. And she could be dead!’
‘No, Father, I’m right here,’ said Cloak of Grass.
And she stood up and put her arms around him.
‘Is it… is it really you?’
He couldn’t believe it. His daughter had changed so much that he didn’t recognise her. But now that he saw her eyes, he knew.
They cried and laughed. Her father apologised to her, they made up and they lived happily ever after.
If you enjoyed the story and want to say thank you, you can buy me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Just go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com and click the orange button that says Buy me a coffee! Then you’ll be able to send me $3 so that I can buy a coffee, but really, I’ll probably get a bubble tea. And I’ll think of you while I drink it! Thank you for listening, and until next week.