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The story was removed from the main Cambridge FCE exam in the last update but, given the need to adjust content for younger people, it still features in the First for Schools exam. Being a creative sort, I have been teaching the basics for years, and even written the odd example. But I had never really sat down in the same way as I teach, so I thought it was time I did, since I am preparing a number of students at the moment. It has been an eye opener.

For many people the idea of writing a story scares them. But as I always stress, it is important to learn how to do all the task types in the Cambridge exams so you can choose the question that is suited to the vocabulary you know best, on a topic you know most about.

On the other hand, many people love stories but – or and so – do not plan well enough and, as I discovered, run into difficulties with things like cohesion and word count.

So this post is for both those of you who love or “hate” stories.

First of all let’s remember the basics of all First Certificate writing task types…

  • Who are you writing for? (e.g. age, publication; remember the examiner, of course, and how many exams they have to read!)
  • What style/register do you need to use? (affected by the first question, of course, for a story it will be informal)
  • What do you need to include? (check the rubric/instructions and ensure you use all the information they tell you to)
  • How will you structure (organise) it? (paragraphs, logical “flow” of the text, linking words/phrases, etc)

…and what you need to think about when writing a story:

  • Who? (protagonist(s), any “incidental characters”)
  • Where? (places – are there multiple locations/what are they like?)
  • When? (order of events, use of different past tenses, etc.)
  • What? (what happened/how did it happen?)
  • Why? (give reasons for the characters’ actions)

Some of this will come from the rubric, of course, especially the “what” and the “who”, though you will clearly need to elaborate (give more detail) on them in the story as part of your “Content” score, which assesses you on how well you cover the information in the question.

To put all this into action, a plan is vital, no less than with any other type of task. It need not be a long plan, and, I would say, probably should not follow the same format as, for example, an essay, for which it’s a good idea to plan every paragraph, in summary. I start by answering the “wh” questions in my mind, relating them to the information we need to include. In this case, my plan then included bullet points on the main details listed in the question, which was as follows:

Your teacher has asked you to write a story in English for the school magazine.

Stories wanted

Your story must begin with this sentence:

Nicholas was looking through a dictionary from his school library when he found a photo hidden between the pages.

Your story must include:

  • a friend
  • some money

So my initial bullets were as follows:

  • Photo: it is of an old house with some faded writing on the back telling the reader to search for “a painting of Captain Wilson” in the hall.
  • Friend: after finding the photograph he confides in a friend to help him solve the mystery.
  • Money: they find some old money hidden in the house (but not near the painting).

In this way I knew I could guarantee including all the information while giving some structure to the story and hopefully, a logical progression (organisation).

The biggest problem with my plan, I discovered, was it was really too ambitious for the length. Short story-writing (or rather “nano” story-writing!) is quite a challenge! So I ended up tweaking my plan to simplify it and allow for less elements and a more direct direction to the “climax”. The result was not as intriguing as I would have liked, and lacked details, but, of course, this is not a creative writing competition, it is a language test, and in this respect, I was quite happy with the result. 

At 202 words it was slightly over the 190 word limit, but this is a guide and hopefully you will agree there is not a lot of “irrelevant content” (the reason such a limit is set, apart from the consideration of timing – and like the old saying goes “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter so I wrote you a long one”!). In fact, in preparing a class on this, I read an example from Cambridge themselves which was 197 words. This includes, as with mine, the 15-20 words in the given sentence.

The biggest change was the length of the “treasure hunt”. I originally envisaged a visit to the public library and a twist involving another clue behind the painting. But having written the first part/paragraph – which, of course, includes the obligatory first sentence – I realised while sending my heroes to the public library that this would soon eat up the remaining word count. So I had to rethink, which also meant forgetting the extra clue, of course.

The advantage of not specifying too much detail in the plan meant I could easily cut out steps, though and redirect the characters, so I was able to have Nicholas’ friend, Charlie, recognise the house immediately and send them straight to the house. To avoid any more “spoilers” (!) I’ll leave the rest for you to read!

Nicholas was looking through a dictionary from his school library when he found a photo hidden between the pages. With mild curiosity he picked it up and saw a large house with an impressive garden. As he turned it over his eyes widened as he read, in faded letters, a message telling the reader to “search behind the painting of Captain Wilson, in the entrance hall”.

He rushed to show his best friend Charlie, who also loved a good mystery and he immediately recognised the house, which, he whispered, had been abandoned for a long time. As soon as they were out of the library they started running to the bus stop and impatiently waited for the next bus to the village.

As they were getting off the bus, they nearly fell, they were so excited, and ran to the lane leading to the old house. The front door was locked but they found a way in through a slightly open window and searched for the painting. Behind it was a dusty envelope with some old bank notes. “Well, we can’t buy anything with this, but I’m sure the museum will be very interested!” cried Nicholas. “We may even get a reward!”

The Cambridge First for Schools Trainer give a checklist to follow after you have finished writing your story. It asks you if you have:

  • used a range of past tenses?
  • used descriptive adjectives and adverbs?
  • used a range to time words and expressions?
  • divided your story into paragraphs?
  • written 140-190 words?

A useful list – my immediate thought was to add a few more past tenses, as it was mainly in the past simple. This meant adding a past perfect (“which had been abandoned”, an opportunity to use a relative clause too) and a fairly easy rewording the beginning of the third paragraph from “In their excitement, they almost fell off the bus” to the classic “as this was happening, something else happened“. If I had to make more improvements I would probably add a few more time expressions and descriptive adjectives, but there are a few – “as, when, immediately, as soon as”; and “mild (curiosity), impressive, impatiently, slightly, dusty”.

Incidentally the Cambridge Trainer series is one I highly recommend for its great training content - straight from the institution organising the exams - and excellent value for money, with six practice tests, the first two of which have detailed training and practice content which breaks down each task to work on specific points and strategies. I have so far used the regular First Certificate Trainer, the Cambridge Advanced Trainer and this First for Schools Trainer. (Click the link to buy on Amazon. Disclosure: I will earn a small commission.)

As I said earlier, planning is key to all tasks and, I’ve found, especially important in writing stories, especially such short ones as you have to do for First Certificate. It is important to be clear how much to include; my list of tips below can act as a checklist, but the key things to remember when creating your plan are to set the context (the opening/beginning), develop the story (the middle) and create a climax (the ending). You may have the first line to guide you, but you still need to give a context for that opening sentence. Sometimes the sentence will be the last line, in which case you could work back from the end or, if you have an active imagination, think of something completely different – the development will be key to logically lead the reader from beginning to end.

This is very close to what I did, but, crucially, I overestimated what I had space for, so I think it’s best to limit your plan to two or three ideas or events. This will give you sufficient space to use plenty of descriptive words; any more and all you will be doing is using action verbs to explain what happened next (with its resulting limitation on connectors – “then, after that, next…”). Note that this does not mean limiting the actions within the story too much; I’m talking about the main events. For example, in my story, the events are:

  • finding the picture: setting the context here is describing what’s in the photo and how the protagonist reacts
  • showing his friend and identifying the house: the development in this case is minimal – a simple identification and they are off to find the house
  • searching for some sort of “treasure”: there are a few incidental actions (running down the lane, entering the house, but not so easily…) before the “climax” of finding the old money

Each action within the events is an opportunity to use different tenses and descriptive adverbs, while setting the scene for each allows for adjectives and intensifying or qualifying adverbs (I only managed “slightly open”, but I could have added more, for example “an intriguingly cryptic message”. This, of course, adds two words, so it’s a balance between having enough “meat” to the story, in terms of the storyline (events/actions) and enough descriptive language. I already had to cut so much of the actions/events that there is a bit of a jump between searching and finding the painting – I don’t even mention them actually finding it. But again, this is not a creative writing competition and as long as the reader can follow the story, you will be fine.

So, here are my tips to help you write a better story for First for Schools:

  1. Read all the information in the question carefully, underlining keywords, and begin asking questions (who, where, what, etc)
  2. Create a plan by answering your questions and using the keywords as bullet points
    • 2-3 scenes maximum
    • beginning – development – ending: write one main idea for each
  3. Estimate word count for each part; this will take practice:
    • observe how much you write in a typical paragraph in all writing tasks
    • as a guide, you can simply divide 180 (10 words short of the “limit”) by 3, so your average paragraph length is 60. In mine the paragraphs are 66, 56 and 80 (going 12 over the limit)
  4. Write and adjust, ensuring you don’t go much over 60 words per paragraph (and if one is longer, adjust the others by removing non-essential actions/ideas)
  5. Check for sense and flow: once you’ve finished your draft, read it through and ensure the story flows logically and makes sense. And, of course, check the word count.

You may find that, even more than in other tasks, that you have to cross out not just words but whole sentences. This is not necessarily a problem, as long as it is readable – if it becomes difficult to follow, re-write the paragraph (corrector is not permitted, nor pencil – just dark blue or black pen). Of course, as you practice, you should get faster at planning and writing and you may be able to write a whole draft and have time to transfer it to the answer sheet. To give yourself a chance of doing this, you need to have lots of timed practice.  If you find that you struggle for time, consider writing directly on the answer sheet as the examiners will not look at the rough paper at all and you will lose many marks if you leave a whole writing question unanswered.

Remember, you have 1 hour 15 minutes, so I recommend spending a maximum of 35 minutes on each task, which gives you 5 minutes to (re-)check through both tasks at the end. Some argue that the essay is more important and to allow more time for that. This will depend on each individual but because it is obligatory, the essay is usually where you get most practice, so it shouldn’t be necessary. As far as checking is concerned, this five minutes is really important to go back to the essay question, as it has been proven that if you leave a task and come back to it, you are more likely to find mistakes. So don’t be tempted to use this time to transcribe your story (or other task) to the answer sheet.

Final thoughts

I mentioned earlier the need to find a balance between storyline and descriptive language. This balance is, I think, the key to writing a successful story. Reading this line I have just written makes me think this is really obvious, but often we forget the most obvious. In this case it could have saved me a bit of time adjusting the story if I had thought a bit more about how many events is the optimum for allowing sufficient language and ideas. But, as always, this comes with experience. And the best way to achieve the balance is to practice. So I invite you to practice writing short stories, perhaps by grabbing a random sentence from your favourite novel and developing your own mini adventure out of it! Send me your stories and I’ll be sure to have a look and if I have time, give you some feedback (obviously all my active students will get that anyway in class!)

I hope you found this guide to writing stories for First for Schools useful, let me know in the comments!

This is an article from LifeHacker which I’ve copied to add some definitions to help with understanding – this site has a useful tooltip glossary/dictionary function (place your mouse over the word “tooltip” and you will see what I mean!) which automatically highlights words from the glossary and gives you a quick definition.

Music can often make or break a day. It can change your mood, amp you up for exercise, and help you recover from injury. But how does it work exactly, and how can you use it to your advantage?

Photo by JT Theriot.

Recently, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords used music therapy to help her learn to talk again. The still unproven theory revolves around the idea that music is represented in multiple parts of the brain and therefore accesses deeper pathways between neurons. Music then helps patients connect the stored knowledge of words through songs and helps create the new connections needed for speech. This same idea has been used for stroke victims in the past, and has been referred to as the Kenny Rogers Effect.

You don’t need to have suffer from brain damage to get the benefits though, lets take a look at how music affects the brain in a more casual sense, and how you can use it to enhance your day-to-day.

Recall Memories

You might remember reports back in the 1990s that said that studying while listening to Mozart increases the likelihood of performing well on a test, but that has been disproven in some studies, and in turn, studies have shown some music has a negative affect on fact retention if you’re studying numbers or lists. Still, performing music has been proven to increase memory and language skills, but for listeners, it’s better used as a means to recall memories. It has been shown in Alzheimer’s patients to help with memory recall, and even restore cognitive function. It works for Alzheimer’s patients in the same way it works in everyone else.

When you listen to music you know, it stimulates the hippocampus, which handles long-term storage in the brain. Doing so can also bring out relevant memories you made while listening to a particular song. So, even though the Mozart-effect has essentially been disproven, the idea that forming a new memory with music, and then using the same music again later to recall the memory still appears to be a sound idea. If you’re having trouble remembering something, you might have better luck if you play the same music you were listening to when you first made the thought.

Photo by David Mican.

Boost Your Immune System

The idea that listening to music can boost your immune system might sound a little crazy on the surface, but the science backs it up. Soothing music is known to decrease stress, and when it does that, it decreases the level of the stress hormone cortisol. It’s not just soothing music though, even upbeat dance music is known to increase the level of antibodies in your system. Dr. Ronny Enk, who lead the recent research about music’s effect on the immune system suggests, “We think the pleasant state that can be induced by music leads to special physiological changes which eventually lead to stress reduction or direct immune enhancement.”

Now the cold season has set in, it’s a good idea to keep this in mind throughout the day. If you’re feeling stressed out or if you’re starting to feel ill, listening to music might be the extra help you need to stay well. If you’re having trouble finding something soothing to listen to, our collection of work sounds are a good place to start. If you prefer the upbeat method, any fast and upbeat dance song will do the trick.

Photo by sunshinecity.

Enhance Your Exercising

As we’ve previously covered, music has a positive effect on exercising. In a recent study, researchers found a positive correlation between fast paced music and exercise. While it’s nothing too surprising, music works to increase exercising strength by distracting attention and pushing the heart and muscles to work at a faster pace. Not much is known about how or why it works, but it’s thought it eases exercise.

The best music to listen to is between 120-140 beats per minute, which also happens to be the standard tempo for upbeat dance music, meaning you’ll be increasing your immune system and helping you exercise at the same time.

Keep Yourself from Choking Under Pressure

We’ve heard before that humming a tune decreases anxiety and the same goes to prevent choking. In a study of basketball players who were prone to failing at the free throw line, researchers found they could improve the player’s percentage if they first listened to catchy, upbeat music. Listening to the Monty Python song, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” caused the basketball players to lose focus and execute their free throws with minimal involvement from the prefrontal cortex.

If you’re prone to getting anxious, worried, or choking in meetings or presentations, throwing on a humorous, light-hearted song before you go in might help distract your brain enough to keep you from failing. The above mentioned “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” is a great example, but we’re sure tracks from the likes of Jonathan Coulton, They Might Be Giants, Weird Al Yankovic, or any other comedy focused song will work just as well.

Photo by Ludie Cochran.

Fight Fatigue and Increase Productivity

The effect of using music to increase productivity is still inconclusive, even though a few studies were done on the subject. Regardless, it certainly doesn’t hurt, and it seems the best option might be to use music without words so it doesn’t have affect the language parts of your brain. The theory is similar to the exercise one above, faster music might keep you and your brain working hard.

That said, if you have a monotonous job, music is a great way to increase your mood while performing boring work. For the same reasoning it helps with exercising, it can also help with fighting fatigue, especially if you change up the music often. Studies have also shown that almost all music increases your mood, because it causes a release of dopamine, so if you’re feeling tired, bored, or depressed, a good pop song might be the cure you need.

Music is a motivator and a great means to keep yourself in your good mood, and while a number of the effects are still unproven, listening to music certainly doesn’t hurt. Do you have a particular song that always puts you in a good or productive mood?

What? No posts since before Christmas?? Sorry! To make up for it, here are a few ideas to keep up your English during the Easter week next week (Setmana Santa = Holy Week).

1. Keep a diary/journal

You are welcome to do this on this website as a blog – don’t be shy! And don’t worry, I’ll correct the mistakes (which, as you know are opportunities to learn! 😉 ), either in the comments, or, if you prefer, in the post itself. If you don’t have an account, just register with and you will be able to start blogging by clicking on the “+ New” button at the top of the screen when you log in. Send me a message if you have trouble at @admin (this is a social network, just click on @admin to see my profile and send me a message. Or you can do so through the envelope picture at the top of the screen.

If you prefer an offline, printable diary, to record things you do, see, eat, etc., try one of these:


If you have the time and energy and are going away (maybe a project for the summer holidays!) there is an interesting guide for a DIY (Do It Yourself) journal (the American word for diary) here, which helps teach a bit of geography to the kids (and probably ourselves too!)

2. Watch some British (and American) TV

All the free channels available in the UK can also be watched on line at These include many American TV shows/series, so there’s something for everyone. There’s also Netflix, of course, now available in Spain, if you want no-hassle on-demand tv. And YouTube has a bit of almost everything, so it’s easy to find something of any length to watch no matter* how much or little time you have – so make a little time every day to watch something!

3. Read an article/chapter/page a day

There are plenty of sources of free articles and books on the internet, many of which are short or have short chapters, making it easy to read a little every day. Apart from the BBC, the Independent and the Guardian have good articles in plain English.

Make it your daily ritual!

The important thing in all this is to try and build English into your routine. As you often hear me say, it’s better to do just five minutes every day than 1 hour once a week. To create any new habit, you need preparation and to be pre-motivated – so think about all the benefits of what better understanding and communication in English will do before you start and every day. It takes at least 30 days to build a new habit, but you can start small. Five days is not a lot, is it? So try my 5 x 5 experiment – five minutes every day for five days. If you make it, add another five, and soon ten will turn into twenty and thirty…

If you don’t, well, don’t punish yourself, just try again! Celebrate every day that you do manage to do something in English – no matter* how small.

That’s all for now – have a great Easter!



* No matter basically means "it makes no difference" (it doesn't matter)

Is it because I am a philologist that I find it rather irritating when people use “carol” when they mean “song”? (Do I hear cries of “Pedant!”??) Perhaps, but let’s be clear: Ariadna’s version of “Last Christmas” by George Michael, on this year’s Christmas Party list (see below), is most definitely NOT a Christmas carol! Let’s start with the facts:

  • a carol is of religious origin, celebrating major events in the liturgical calendar
  • contrary to popular belief, while the best known carols are sung at Christmas, there are plenty of others, to celebrate the Spring and Easter, for example
  • Neither George nor Ariadna were thinking about the Sacred Heart when they talked about giving it away…

The Oxford English Dictionary definition, which I’ve used in this site’s interactive dictionary, refers to folk songs, as many carols have their origins in popular worship, long before the days of universal musical education. But the ecclesiastical focus of these carols is, I would argue, undeniable. So while a particularly precious English tradition, especially in villages, is to gather in the carols-by-candlelightstreet to sing carols, these days they are often combined with songs, especially children’s favourites such as Jingles Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. You don’t hear those songs in churches (not mentioning the main character of Christmas, and all that) and they are what make street events more informal and, dare I say it, fun. (For the record, I still love a traditional, candlelit carol service in church, especially where there is an organ involved.)

It is this which also makes carols different from traditional Catalan “Nadales”, as I point out on my choir’s website, writing about the Coral Shalom’s Christmas concert, at which we are singing both contemporary English Christmas Carols by John Rutter and traditional Nadales. I refuse to translate “carol” as “nadala” (either in the concert programme or the website), which caused bemused expressions at first… It is true that many carols, like nadales, have popular/folk traditions, but the style of carols has generally evolved over the centuries from a simple melody and in most cases everyone knows the long-established harmonisations (that said I myself have written a more modern arrangement of Silent Night (Santa Nit) for piano, so I am perhaps in danger of blurring the very lines I seek to highlight).

But let’s not get confused. Christmas carols are religious, generally more formal, and certainly not pop music. Christmas songs are informal, secular and popular music – equally valid, especially if they raise people’s spirit at this special time of year. Or at least if they make one think and appreciate what we have, as is the case of one of my favourite, if somewhat twisted, songs, Fairytale of New York (The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl).

So, let me get to the original purpose of this post, before I decided to turn it into a socio-cultural-linguistic debate. The Christmas Party list of songs and carols to read the lyrics for, check the meaning and practice. We will, of course, sing and play more carols and songs, including last year’s Twelve Days of Christmas, but we’ll focus on these ones for practice. I’ve included lyrics and YouTube videos or audio right on this page, below, just click on “Show Lyrics” to see them. Enjoy and don’t forget, if you play an instrument, please bring it next week! See you then!

  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
To see the Lyrics click here.To hide the Lyrics click here.


You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town.

He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
He’s gonna find out
Who’s naughty or nice
Santa Claus is coming to town.

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

You better watch out!
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town.

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town.

Here’s one of my favourite artists singing it – Michael Bublé:

  • Silent Night
To see the Lyrics click here.To hide the Lyrics click here.

Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant, tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace. 


Silent night, Holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth

Silent night, Holy night
Shepherds quake, at the sight
Glories stream from heaven above
Heavenly, hosts sing Hallelujah.
Christ the Saviour is born,
Christ the Saviour is born.

Here’s the boy’s choir of Guildford Cathedral (my hometown) singing a more traditional version of Silent Night, though with a different organ arrangement. Just click the play button to hear it.

  • Last Christmas
To see the Lyrics click here.To hide the Lyrics click here.

Here’s Ariadna Grande’s version of George Michael’s classic…a bit superficial for my taste, but we have to roll with the times! The video below has the lyrics on-screen so you can follow along. If you want to see her singing it live, click here.

I hate that I remember

I wish I could forget

What you did last December

You left my heart a mess ( a mess )

Boy, you blew it

How could you

Do it, do it, oh yeah

Oh yeah

Last Christmas

I gave you my heart

But the very next day

You gave it away

This year

To save me from tears

I’ll give it to

Someone special

Ohhhhh yeah

But last Christmas

I gave you my heart

But the very next day

You gave it away

This year

To save me from tears

I’ll give it to

Someone special

Thought we belonged together

At least, that’s what you said

I, should have known better

You broke my heart, again

Boy, you blew it

How could you

Do it, do it, oh yeah

Last Christmas

I gave you my heart

(Gave you my heart)

But the very next day

You gave it away

(Gave it away)

This year

To save me from tears (You got it)

I’ll give it to

Someone special


Last Christmas (Oh baby)

I gave you my heart

But the very next day you

gave it away (Gave it away)

This year (You got it)

To save me from tears

I’ll give it to someone special

Ooooo yeah.

How could you leave

Christmas morning

You broke my heart,

With no warning

Boy, you blew it

How could you

Do it, do it

Oh yeah

Last Christmas

I gave you my heart

(Gave you my heart)

But the very next day

You gave it away

(You gave it away)

This year

To save me from tears (Oh baby)

I’ll give it to

Someone special (This season)

Last (last), Last (last), Christmas

You broke my heart

Last (last), Last (last), Christmas

You broke my heart

This year (ahhh, ahhh)

To save me from tears

I’ll give it to someone special


(Last) I hate that I remember

I wish I could forget

What you did last December

You left my heart a mess

(To save me from tears)

Baby (someone special)

You blew it, blew it

I hate that I remember

I wish I could forget

What you did last December

You left my heart a mess

Ok, one more foody post and I’ll move on…!

This, as some of you have seen already, is from an episode of the hugely popular Great British Bake Off (see the post on pies!) and features some nervous moments from the contestants when they find out if their hidden designs have worked. Not all of them did, but some of them are truly amazing. Which is your favourite?


Some I’ve added to the dictionary, others I’ve left for you to look for!







Turn out


We’re in October and that means Oktoberfest (finished now but they’re already planning next year’s!)

If you’ve never heard of Good Mythical Morning (I hadn’t until recently), it is a YouTube channel mainly dedicated to tasting things “so that you don’t have to”. The list of things they have tried include birds, burgers, sweets (or candy as the Americans call confectionery) and pizza, as well as more exotic and unusual things like insects and today’s challenge, sausages –  but not ordinary sausages!

They put a blindfold on to taste sausages and have to guess the type of animal it is (mammal, bird, amphibian or reptile); for an extra point they have to guess the species.

Below is a vocabulary list to listen out for. Some of the words (as well as some in the above introduction) are linked to a lexicon containing definitions, the first part of which is shown when you hover over the word, so you can check the meaning while reading this post and click through later, if necessary, for a fuller description. (I say some, because I’ve found out the plugin I started using has a limited number of entries with the free version…I will sort this issue out as soon as possible.)













To help dispel the myths about British food, here are some recipes, videos and other content showing delicious pies being made.

1.  Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute chicken and mushroom pie (a quick and easy version of a classic pie)

This easy chicken pie recipe is dead simple and can be knocked up in no time at all. Perfect with greens and mash, it’s a great winter warmer. Jamie’s here to show you every step of the way.

This speedy recipe is from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals TV series first aired on Channel 4 in 2010. All the food made in this video was shared out and eaten among the very lucky crew. Nothing goes to waste.

2. The Great British Bake Off: an incredibly popular BBC show/competition

The Great British Bake Off marquee is filled with the delicious aroma of fresh baking as the signature challenge has the bakers doing all they can to impress acclaimed master baker Paul Hollywood and legendary cookery writer and baker Mary Berry with their signature family pie. Topping their pie with either flaky or rough puff pastry, some decide to play it safe whilst others get more experimental. Who will avoid the dreaded soggy bottom…