Memory Palaces

This is a fantastic technique which I first heard about on Mysterious Universe.


Mysterious Universe is a brilliant podcast in which two wonderfully cynical Australians check out the latest (and historical) reports of surreal, extraterrestrial, spiritual, phenomena, monstrosities and bizarre occurrences. Here is a link: – I thoroughly recommend listening.

They talked about a woman who had the most amazing memory and could memorise lists of words, hundreds long. Species of birds, scientific terminology, she had no expertise in the areas but she could recite the lists. The way she did it was to use a memory palace.

Say for example you want to learn the first 10 elements of the periodic table. 

Here is my usage of the technique:

“First, we need to choose a memory palace. Either a route you know very well (a walk you take), or a building you know well and enjoy being in. (My student chose: my walk to the tube)

Next, we need to think of something to learn. We’ll start with the first ten elements of the periodic table:


Element Place on route Object associated
1Hydrogen Opening the front door Water tanks
2Helium Walk down the corridor balloon
3Lithium Walk down the stairs batteries
4Beryllium Leave the block Elderly lady with curlers in hair
5Boron Walk down the internal road Buildings are blank, blank, boring building
6Carbon Walk past doctors bicycles
7Nitrogen Dry cleaners Dry ice pouring out of the dry cleaners
8Oxygen gym Oxygen tanks – people on treadmills with masks on
9Fluorine Tesco toothpaste
10Neon Arrive at tube Neon lights


We will place these at points on the route/rooms in the house, with an object beside the element.


Close your eyes and walk the route, see each object at the right point.


When we really concentrate on what we say, the words slow down… when we really listen to ourselves.


Try this technique with another list, say star names, or planets, or Kings and Queens of England. Listen to yourself.”

Within a minute, my student was able to recount the first ten items on the periodic table, but while he was doing it, he really, really, really slowed down. He had to think hard before he spoke, so the speed of his speech really slowed down, it was brilliant!

So, if you have a list of things to learn, or want to practice slowing down, try the Memory Palace technique!

If you need help slowing down, why not consider a lesson with me. Book yourself in and I’ll look forward to hearing from you soon!

Happy Easter Y’all!


How to use Minimal Pairs

First of all, check out Ted Power’s amazing Minimal Pairs- the list is fantastically long and not covered in adverts or unnecessary explanations.

Secondly, find tongue twisters that use the sounds you wish to practice

Thirdly, use song lyrics of a poem with the sound in

Finally, concentrate on that sound for a whole day. Make a difference!

For example, if I want to practice the ‘n’ sound, I might try ‘n’ vs ‘ng’ and think about tongue position.









































Then I might try

“I need not your needles,
They’re needless to me,
For the needing of needles
Is needless, you see.
But did my neat trousers
But need to be kneed,
I then should have need
Of your needles indeed.”

Then I’d use ‘This Land is your Land’ as those final ‘nd’ sounds are great practice for my tongue!

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.


Ted Power

Tongue Twisters

Song Lyrics for this song


This technique works for all minimal pairs – give it a try and let me know how you get on!

Mindfulness – inspiration – poem


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Smooth onset of vowel sounds

If you’re struggling with using a forward voice (does your voice feel stuck in your throat? Do you feel like you swallow your words?) then try this quick tip to help practice that lovely, free, smooth open vowel sound…

First, try drilling the ‘H’ sound:

H     H     H     H

HH     HH    HH     H

HHH     HHH     HHH     H

HHHH     HHHH     HHHH     H

…use loads of breath to help make the sound forward and avoid tension in your throat.


Next, add a simple /ah/ sound. Just like at the dentist, the sound in car / fast / mark / castle is a free and open sound….

H/ah/     H/ah/     H/ah/    H/ah/

Does the /ah/ sound feel free and open? Is it following the ‘h’ out of your mouth in an easy fashion? Good!

Try a few other vowel sounds, not too many, just get used to this exercise before you move on…

H/oh/      H/ooooh/   H/ey/   H/aw/

Good luck and let me know how you get on!


Check out my new look GoDaddy website too – it’s amazing.


Sharing stuff on the internet is quite peculiar, isn’t it. I still haven’t got used to the idea that the things I publish might actually be enjoyed by some people. I often feel like this is shouting into a vacuum, then I realise I have a hundred subscribers on YouTube – not Taylor Swift style numbers admittedly – but one hundred people are actually interested in my videos. I don’t make them as often as I would like to, balancing work, running, dog training, house work, school runs, naughty boy school visits, cooking, cleaning, parish council, village hall committee, governors, parent association, and keeping up with The Apprentice…. but when I do them I try to make them useful. Have a look at my channel and see. You’ll notice massive gaps and some questionable hairdos (I often film post-run post-shower so have wet hair and a beetroot face) but luckily no one tunes in because of my appearance. Unless they’re a bit peculiar.

I’d love to do more videos / podcasts on issues that people struggle with, so do let me know if you need a specific topic covered.

Sore throat, tired, hoarse, wintery voice? Here’s how to fix it.

  • Get some sleep. Now. Go to bed earlier than you intended. Put that smartphone down, and that tablet, and that laptop. Pick up a BOOK (how about this one?) and read until you fall asleep. Less bluescreen = less stress on the brain = better sleep = better health.
  • Wake up and drink oodles of water. Keep a bottle with you all day and keep refilling it. Hydrate that body and throat and keep it hydrated. There are more stringent rules for healthy tap water than bottled water, so just use the tap to save pennies!
  • Spend five minutes breathing deeply, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Do it in the shower, on the way to the train, in the car, anywhere. No one will know you’re doing it and your lungs will thank you.
  • Eat honey on toast, if it rocks your boat. Honey is so great for the throat. Local honey is best, so do your best to find your local honey seller.
  • If you have five minutes where no one can hear you, hum a tune or two, then lalalala a few times to get your voice practised. Practice some consonant sounds and tongue twisters. A stronger voice is less likely to suffer.
  • Speak softly and carefully when you can, save your big voice for necessary times, like that AMAZING presentation you’re doing later on, or that Christmas Do when everyone will be chatting and you’ll need to be loud to be heard.
  • Buy some Vocalzones. They’re the best for a healthy voice. Honestly.
  • Wash your hands as often as humanly possible. Colds and lurgy spread more quickly through poor hygiene, so avoid it by washing your hands when you can.
  • If your voice hurts, rest it.
  • Rest it some more.
  • And some more.
  • Go back to point one and start again J

The Top 10 British Voices

Looking for some listening inspiration to practice your vowel sounds? Try this lot – my top 10!


  1. Rosamund Pike – check out this interview to hear her beautiful tone of voice. So rounded and easy to listen to.
  1. Colin Firth here on Radio 1 you can watch how his mouth moves in quite a limited way, but he still manages to round the vowel sounds – watch his top lip – it’s quite still!
  1. Elizabeth Bennett, sorry, Jennifer Ehle. such a jewel in this production, controlled and clipped sounds made the character so watchable and believable.
  2. Judi Dench such a mischievous character in this clip. Notice how light her voice sounds, because she is smiling throughout.
  3. Emma Thompson, here in Much Ado, projects her voice over the party without shouting or straining, by opening her mouth a little wider. I adore hearing her speak!
  4. Kenneth Brannagh – couldn’t miss out Kenneth! Here he talks about Hamlet and just listen to his inflection- just chatting away but he manages to put so much energy into it.
  5. Alan Rickman – this is the only voice on the list that I’d outwardly call ‘sexy’. That restrain and control are just divine.
  6. David Attenborough. You can hear the passion and the knowledge in every word he says!
  7. is Moira Stuart, with those velvety sounds, I could listen to her all day! Would I Lie To You – one of my favourite panel shows.
  8. Joseph Fiennes, here talking about a recent film, award-winning, beautifully spoken, lovely long vowel sounds, quiet tone. Such a pleasure.