Big Meal Scene 2

Stephen works hard to make sure everything is perfect for Ashlie's birthday meal.

Do the Preparation task first. Then watch the video. Next go to Task and do the activity. If you need help, you can read the Transcript at any time.


Before you watch

Think about the following questions:

  • Do you like surprises?
  • What is the best surprise you have ever had?
  • Have you ever had a bad experience when cooking? What happened?

Now, watch Stephen and Ashlie to find out how the birthday meal turned out.



Stephen: Ashlie’s going to the hairdresser's to get her hair done before tonight, which leaves me just enough time to sort out dessert. It’s a bit of a surprise for Ashlie. I thought I might get her a nice cake.

Stephen: Hello there.

Woman: How are you, sir? How can I help you?

Stephen: I’m looking for a cake for my sister’s birthday. Do you have any birthday cakes?

Woman: Yes, of course we do. We have a selection in here. If you’d like to choose one?

Stephen: I like the look of that one. What kind is that?

Woman: It’s a chocolate mousse.

Stephen: Can I write a message on it?

Woman: Yes of course. I’ll just get the chef for you.

Stephen: Thank you very much indeed.

Woman: You’re welcome. Thank you.


Stephen: Can I have a go? I’ll try and do a flower.

Stephen: Right. That’s pudding sorted – I need to get home. I’m running a bit late. So I’d better hurry!


Stephen thinks: "This is a disaster! I'm glad I've got a back up plan."

Stephen: Great! See you in a bit. This isn’t going well. My food looks terrible. I don’t think any of this is edible.

Ashlie: Hi Stephen.

Stephen: Oh no, Ashlie’s here.

Ashlie: Hi!

Stephen: Oh Happy Birthday Ash!

Ashlie: Thank you.

Stephen: Come in. Hi guys, you alright?

Ashlie: How’s it going? How are my tasty Dim Sums coming along?

Stephen: The food’s going... err… Well, it’s been hard work, but it’s looking, OK.

Ashlie: Good, well, I'll just pop this in the fridge, then...

Stephen: No! Don’t go in there....

Ashlie: What? Why not?

Stephen: Because I don’t like anyone watching me when I’m cooking. And it’s a complete mess in there.

Ashlie: Er... OK!

Stephen: I’ll get that!

Ashlie: Well who’s that? Everybody’s here already.

Stephen: That... That is your surprise.

Ashlie: My surprise?

Stephen: Yes, your surprise.

Ashlie: I’ve got a surprise guys. I wonder what it is. Shall we sit and have some food then…


Stephen: Thank you. You’ve saved my life.


Ashlie: Wow! Stephen. That was really amazing. That tasted almost as good as the food we had in that restaurant earlier.

Stephen: Er... yeah.

Ashlie: Haven’t I seen this somewhere before, though?

Stephen: The guys in the restaurant were really helpful. I followed the recipe and I’m glad you like it.

Ashlie: So, what’s my surprise?

Stephen: Er... well, I made you a birthday cake!

Ashlie: Wow Stephen, that’s amazing! You have been busy, haven’t you?

Stephen: Nothing’s too good for my sister.

Ashlie: Did you say that you made this cake?

Stephen: Yeah, why?

Ashlie: Well it just... it seems to have a label saying, ‘Hand-made in London'... it's the thought that counts.

Task 1

Task 2



Average: 5 (1 vote)

Submitted by Thanh_Trung_Do on Thu, 16/12/2021 - 13:01


i like surprise very much. My best one is when i was 10. It was my birthday and my parents pretend to forget my birthday while keeping me busy. When i go down...

Profile picture for user dariowins

Submitted by dariowins on Mon, 31/05/2021 - 09:03

I can remember when I made a wonderful and romantic suprise. I put several bollons in her bed, a teddy bear with a red heart, I set flower all around the bed, a gold ring and some romantic love messages. It was a great idea. I cooked for girl.

Submitted by AdrianCM on Fri, 29/05/2020 - 03:15

There is too much time ago that i did not hear the word 'edible'. When I was teenager i cooked eggs but they were edible' What does the phrase ''I've got a back up plan'' mean? Thanks British Council

Hi AdrianCM

A 'back up plan' is a second plan in the case the first one doesn't work. Another way of saying this is 'plan B' (where 'plan A' is the first plan).

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Veny

Submitted by Veny on Mon, 21/01/2019 - 01:57

Hello...this website is very helpful. I'm a bit confused about Ashlie's words said "I'll just pop this in the fridge" And "it's the thought that counts." What's she trying to say? Could you help me with these sentences. Thank you very much

Hi Veny

I'm glad that you find our site helpful! 'pop' is a word that has over a dozen uses, but in this case it simply means 'put' (follow the link for a more detailed description).

You can find 'it's the thought that counts' in the dictionary, too -- people use this expression to put the focus on a person's intentions over their actions. Ashlie is saying that she doesn't mind if Stephen didn't actually make the cake -- his good intentions in getting her a cake are more important than him making the cake himself.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user nafijekbal

Submitted by nafijekbal on Tue, 11/06/2024 - 16:58

In reply to by Kirk Moore


Hi sir can i talk with you please 

Hello nafijekbal,

You're welcome to ask questions about this page or our website here in the comments section.

Best wishes,
LearnEnglish team