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Idioms explained: The grass is always greener on the other side

Gain context and understanding of this expression by way of an engaging story

Season 2, episode 4
15 min / Published

Idioms form a crucial part of everyday English.

Understanding an expression within context cements this understanding and creates a usefull reference for it.

See how a young, stubborn and entitled bull learns about this idiom the hard way.

Show notes


From the days when he barely knee-high to his mom Desmond the bull was extremely prone to complaining

When his parents gave him one thing, he preferred another.

His father and older brother only shook their heads in disbelief at the selfishness of this young man.

When Desmond and his mother started arguing, nobody was safe, so everyone made sure they were somewhere else when this happened.

One could certainly understand his mother's frustration, nothing she did, said or gave was ever good enough. To make matters worse, the presents Desmond received was the envy of all the other young calves.

Desmond on the other hand, always thought he was missing out on something. He deserved better, fancier and more luxurious than he was getting.

Desmond's parents were prime cattle and had every luxury any cow or bull could want. They were treated very well by the farmer, and rightly so – his mother (Daisy) was premier milk cow and his father, Sire was the champion stud-bull of the county.

None of the other calves had the privileges afforded to Desmond and his siblings. However as we all know Desmond didn't appreciate what he had and was always first to complain.

Desmond's best fried, Dusty was the compete opposite of the selfish calf. Always friendly, constantly thankful for the small blessing he had coming his way.

His parents were run of the mill cows and not of the same pedigree as Sire and Daisy. To spite this, Desmond's parents welcomed Dusty into their home and was very fond of this responsible and kind young bull-boy.



Dusty and Desmond did everything together and were practically joined at the hip. Whenever you saw the one, the other would never be far behind. The young bulls were fond of playing games and often these games ended very badly because of Desmond's bad attitude. The way Desmond spoke to and acted towards other calves made him extremely unpopular.

Fortunately for Desmond, Dusty was a very good friend and also had an extremely forgiving nature. He would always stick up for Desmond when the other cows complained about his behaviour. He would often say that Desmond didn't mean to be this way, he just has much to learn about life and those lessons will come soon enough...

One day as they were walking along the boundary fence of the farm, Desmond saw a hole where the wires had been damaged. Immediately he wanted to go through the fence to the neigbouring farm, but Dusty stopped him. “We have no idea what that farmer is like and which animal there may be on the other side, Desmond! We'd better stay here where we know everyone and we are safe.”

Of course that is not what Desmond wants to hear and definitely not what he wants to do. “Where's your sense of adventure, Dusty my boy?” Desmond said with a smile as wide as a country mile? “I prefer being safe to being sorry, thanks” came the reply from the sensible young calf. Safe was not a word that Desmond had in his vocabulary, so he didn't head Dusty's warning and went through the whole in the fence.

Dusty turned away and walked off to find some other calves nearby. If Desmond doesn't want to listen, he'll have to pay the price and suffer the consequences. Before Desmond knew what happened the farmer was there with his truck fixing the whole in the wired fence. Just like that, Desmond was stuck on the wrong side of the boundary barriers.

To make matters worse, Desmond suddenly realized that these cows weren't milk cows, but beef cattle. Of course this means that they are intended for the meat market and not the milking stables... Desmond was afraid, but soon became terrified when the farmer started herding the cattle to a big truck... They were headed in one direction and one direction only – the slaughterhouse.


The young bull was petrified and called for his mother, but she was nowhere near where he was. He regretted instantly his ungrateful and entitled behaviour. He knew if he had listened to Dusty nothing like this would have ever happened. He cried bitterly and was shaking with fear.

Just then the vehicle transporting the cattle stopped. A man jumped on the back of the truck and shouted at the driver. The driver got out, took his mobile phone from his pocket and was soon speaking to someone. Suddenly the back of the truck opened up and the animals were let out. The truck was overloaded and the driver had to unload some of the cattle.

To Desmond's great relief he was identified as belonging to another farm by the tag he wore in his ear. The driver called Desmond's owner who came rushing to the scene. He loaded Desmond on the back of his truck and took him home.

His family and his best friend were ecstatic to see Desmond. The young calf cried and hugged his loved ones. He told them the story about how he was almost taken the slaughterhouse and felt foolish for not listening to Dusty. Desmond's father, Sire was a quiet bull and only ever spoke when absolutely necessary. He walked straight up to Desmond and said, “very few things are always better somewhere else. The grass often seems greener on the other side, but more often than not, the best place to be is exactly where you are.”

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Sold on Stories
A podcast by Sold on stories
Engaging & original stories supplying concrete understanding of idioms for Intermediate English learners
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