Views #998 | Low Intermediate 4

The Shack

Shirley talks about a special place.

Yuri: So Shirley, you were talking about the shack. Can you tell me some more about it?

Shirley: OK, well, the shack - not as horrible as it might sound. I was actually born in the city, and yeah, grew up on the edge of the city of Glasgow, and my parents ... maybe I was about seven or eight years old ... my parents decided they would buy this little wooden house in the country side, only about forty-five minutes drive from where we lived, but right in the countryside, and it was really basic. It was huge. It looked like a barn, and my parents wanted to try and make it into something livable like a holiday house that we could go to on the weekends and summer holidays and stuff, so anyway we went there ... for the first time we went, it still looked like a barn, and had some beds in it and stuff like that, but no running water, no electricity, no toilet, no bath, no shower. It was like a barn in the middle of nowhere, so as you know, me and my brothers, we are kind of raised in the city, and although, you know we were kids way before video games and iPods and things like that, there was no TV. That was the biggest tragedy. There was no TV, and we though what on earth can we do up here? It's like we're in the middle of nowhere, how boring this summer holiday's gonna be, so we just had to you know, try and figure out how we we're gonna enjoy this holiday and what could we do with no television.

Yuri: Yes, exactly, what did you do? How did you spend you days?

Shirley: We were out in the country side. I mean, you just need to go out and look, and there's so many possibilities to have fun: making tree houses, making dens out of the woodland ferns and things like that, going on searches for frogs. We seemed to do that a lot. Poor frogs. We made like a tennis court out in the front of the ... we called it the hut. Right, I keep calling it a barn or a shack, but actually what we called it was a hut, although it was a really huge kind of wooden house, and so yeah, we made up a kind of a tennis court and when it wasn't raining we could play tennis.

We had to go collect water from a well near like, I don't know, maybe four hundred meters away, and we'd always have to go in twos because of course there's always an argument with kids. I did it last time. He has to do it this time. So we always had to go in pairs to get the water. For lights we'd just use a gas lamps. For cooking it was a kind of two stove ... two ring stove, connected to a gas bottle. We did have television, which was powered by a car battery, so we would save that until Saturday night, because always on a Saturday night there was a movie, so we would save the car battery power for the Saturday night movie, and it would usually last until the end of the movie.

Yuri: So it was a bit like camping.

Shirley: Yeah, yeah, I suppose but like camping, only thankfully we didn't get wet when it rained.

Learn vocabulary from the lesson



You were talking about the shack.

A shack is a small house cheaply made from tin, wood, and other materials, usually with no toilet, electricity or running water. Notice the following:

  1. He grew up poor in a one room shack just outside the city.
  2. The shack was easily destroyed by the winds and heavy rain.

not as horrible as it sound


The shack was not as horrible as it might sound.

We use the phrase ‘not as horrible as it might sound’ to talk about a negative situation that is really not so bad. Notice the following:

  1. Staying at a hostel isn’t as horrible as it might sound.
  2. It rained everyday of our Hawaiian vacation, but it wasn’t as horrible as it might sound.

the edge of the city


I grew up on the edge of the city.

The edge of the city is the area where the city ends and the suburbs or countryside begin. Notice the following.

  1. It’s about 10 kilometers from downtown to the edge of the city.
  2. The trains run from one edge of the city to the other.

something livable


We made it into something livable like a holiday house.

When we make something livable that means clean and comfortable. Notice the following:

  1. She made her small apartment into something livable.
  2. It will take a lot of time and money to make the old house into something livable.

what on earth can we do


We were thinking,what on earth can we do up here?

We use the phrase ‘what on earth can we do’ when we have a problem or situation but can’t think of a solution. Notice the following:

  1. We’ve lost our money and credit cards. What on earth can we do?
  2. The power is out - no TV, no lights, no computer. What on earth can we do?

Vocabulary Quiz

shack • as it sounds • the edge
livable • what on earth
  1. Although the apartment was in a nice part of town, without water and electricity it wasn't .
  2. I said I was sorry.  do you want me to do?
  3. He wanted to live in the city and she wanted to live in the suburbs, so the bought a place on of the city.
  4. He has a little hunting in the woods, but it is very basic.
  5. My job isn't as great . I almost never have free time.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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