Sunday, 25 December 2011

Friday, 23 December 2011

When in Rome...

Christmas is going to be a little different for me this year.  I'm spending the holiday itself with Nico's family in Niedersachsen before heading back to England next Tuesday for New Years.  While it's my first Christmas away from home, and I'm looking forward to our English Christmas Day on 28th December, I'm also really looking forward to finding out first hand how it's done here.  

I know that the traditions are different and in Germany presents are opened on Christmas Eve in the evening.  There will also be candles on the tree so I will be keeping a glass of water handy.  Dinner will be quite similar but with a much bigger group than I'm used to (maybe as many as eighteen!) and of course my German will be put to the test.  

I'm taking a bit of a break over the holidays but I look forward to updating you on my German Christmas experiences.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

School's Out for Christmas!

The last day of school this year is finally here and it's been a long time coming.  The two month stretch since the Autumn holidays has been the longest yet with the most illness and darkness nights (and days) as of yesterday though, it is officially getting lighter!

This week so far has been spent with lots of Christmas videos in English.  I have now seen the Mr Bean Christmas special six times (it does stop getting funny)and had the argument over whether his car is yellow or green five times.

It's also the latest I remember having worked up to Christmas, with English colleagues finishing last Friday and with us being back in less than two weeks on the 5th January, you can guarantee the holidays will go faster than ever but I am so excited about them.  First of all, it's my first German Christmas!  Then a trip home to see the family and meet my wonderful baby nephew!

So the blog may be a bit hit and miss over the next couple of weeks but I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2012!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Mince Pies in Germany

Another of my Christmas English lessons this week involved 23 adolescents, a lot of flour and the school kitchen as I got them into baking mince pies.

We read through the recipe last week, decided on the groups of four and they divided up the shopping lists in preparation.  Of course, some still arrived without certain ingredients and had to be sent of to the corner shop but that was the smallest of problems.  

Kids being kids, a number of them turned their noses up and the idea of baking with raisins or ginger and decided to make their own concoctions.  Of the six groups, two did an excellent job (one of those even made an extra batch of cherry pies without a recipe!).  The all boy groups made a mess and a lot of noise, and I dread to think how their pies tasted.

I thought a double lesson and break (two hours) would suffice but I was still ten minutes late to my next lesson.  

So far, it looks like I am complaining a lot and didn't really enjoy the lesson.  It's not like that though.  I'm glad that we tried something different, especially for those who thanked me after and for those who don't get to do stuff like this at home.  It's nice to teach outside your own subject sometimes too.  I certainly wouldn't do it with another class - these are my best behaved kids and I nearly threw some of them out the window - but on the whole, looking back, I did enjoy the I just need a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Merry Christmas Mr Bean!

I was in Thalia this week hunting down some English Christmas DVDs with German subtitles for my classes and I came across this blast from the past.  At just 25 minutes long, it's perfect for the single lessons I have left this week and so Mr Bean will be entertaining many of my pupils as we get into the festive season this week!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Strictly Come Dancing!

 One of my favourites.

What a climax for the 2011 series of Strictly Come Dancing!  It was way too close to call, I would have been happy for any of the three finalists to win but Harry and Aliona did a fantastic job!  Can't believe it's eight months to wait now!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Something New Week #5

I didn't do something entirely new this week but I did something I haven't done for a long time and gave myself a bit of a facial.  My skin is terrible at the moment - probably down to all the Christmas treats so I am stepping up my skincare routine.  I started with a Lush toner tab in a bowl of boiled water last night.  It's like a magic little sauna for my face.

In fact the whole flat was a little like a spa on Friday with incense and candles, essential oils in the air and all my Lush products on the go.  My favourite is Snow Fairy which is incredibly sweet and you only need to use a little bit.  Fantastic!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

The Saturday Update

Full on week this week.  At work I had to set and mark three exams but it's all done now so it's all Xmas themed for the last week of term with mince pie baking, xmas carols and Merry Xmas Mr Bean on DVD!  Well, if I have to work a week longer than my British colleagues, I'm going to make it as Christmassy as possible.

Also this week I have finished my Xmas shopping (that's probably the latest I have ever finished it!)  Loretto has been away in Spain and the weather has taken a turn for the worst so I have to admit, I haven't been all that motivated to get out.  Though I did spend our usual coffee time working through the Bluebear novel which I finished this week!

In a final step to feel more Christmassy this week, the Baileys has been bought.  I have to limit myself to only drinking this at Christmas or I would get nowhere with the diet during the rest of the year.  After 2011, blue cheese is joining Baileys on this limited list!  But watching Love Actually with a Baileys and toblerone was possibly my highlight of the week.

Next week it's time for a haircut - my first since January because of the money saving spree!  There'll also be Xmas drinks with the girls (fingers crossed) and packing up and heading to Schneverdingen ready for my first German Xmas!!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Oh, the weather outside...

I guess I can't officially call it snow yet - it's still more slush but since it's the most Christmassy it's been so far and if it does come on heavy, I only have four days of commuting in it, here's what I'm singing and in honour of the Strictly final this week, I picked out a special version of the song.

So glad Harry got a haircut in time for SCD.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Name Game

There's a lot of truth to this article about naughty children names.  It even applies when you cross the border, albeit with a different list.  My German colleagues have told me that the names Kevin and Chantal are traditionally the naughty ones here in Germany and they haven't been far off the mark given my first year's experience!  The upside is that you have an idea what a pupil might be like from the start (not that I would prejudge, though I can't think of a not naughty Kevin or Chantal that I teach), the downside for teaches is when it comes to finding a name for your own children with no nasty connotations! 

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Captain Bluebear

As I mentioned, Nico bought me a brilliant book for St Nicholas last week.  I am already through 450 pages!  It's kind of a children's book in how fantastical it is but the language (soporific, nostalgically, durability - I only learned some of these words in the last few years) is definitely for a more adult audience and often the humour too.  The world in which Walter Moers writes is incredible and Nico loves watching me read because I'm so active - laughing out loud, etc. 

What really amazes me is not just the fantastic job that the author did, but also the translator - John Brownjohn.  I often read translations and it doesn't impress me because I used to translate as part of my degree but given that Walter Moers makes words up as he goes along and John Brownjohn has to make those made up words fit an English speaking audience - I think he is quite an unsung hero!

I can't recommend the book more, and I'm planning to get into the rest of the series next year.  You can check it out here.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


Here's an interesting looking project I've signed up to for the start of 2012.  I'm hoping to get some good tips on how to change my life for the better!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Mum's Visit

A few piccies from Mum's visit this week.

On the tram into town from Huchting

Our own photo in front of the Christmas tree in market square

After our chocolate fruit on the market

On the bridge near the medieval Xmas market on the Schlachte

With Nico

By the river

Nico's 3D jigsaw bauble from Mum

The Saturday Update...on Sunday.

This week has been busy again getting ready for Christmas.  On Monday we decorated the new tree - very festive as you can see above!  It cheered me up after my doctors appointment.  The one positive thing about doctors here is that they are very thorough.  I went to see the Ear Nose and Throat specialist and he did a range of tests including an ultra sound on my face which led him to diagnose sinusitis and prescribe me some pills and a nose spray!  After all the poking and prodding, I had such a headache that I was off work until Wednesday but the symptoms are finally starting to shift.  We'll see what they say at my follow up appointment tomorrow!

Tuesday was St Nicholas' Day and he left some lovely presents in our shoes.  I got a book - The 13 1/2 lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers.  It's described on the cover as J.K. Rowling on ecstasy and it is!  It's kind of a children's book but the vocabulary is pretty tough - I don't think I could have read the German version and I think some children would struggle with it but it is an amazing story.  I read 200 pages on the first day.  Brilliant read so far.

Wednesday was a heavy day because it was back to work and then I had my friend Loretto over to make mince pies.  It was my second attempt and it was different as I used a different type of gluten free flour and didn't have time to let everything rest but they were as good as the first ones.  Loretto is heading to Spain this week for a visit and taking the recipe with her so it must have made an impression on her at least!

On Thursday, I had a good day at work as one of my classes was out on a trip which had two positive outcomes: first of all, I got to finish earlier than usual and meet my Mum at the airport.  Secondly, I had a cover lesson with a class I haven't taught yet.  I love those cover lessons as I can always convince them that I don't speak German.  You might expect that this would lead them to insult me in German and get in trouble but actually, it really makes them try to speak more English than they would otherwise have done and it's great!  On Thursday evening, we wandered the markets, enjoyed some Gluhwein, did a little shopping and had a lovely Thai meal before teaching my evening class.  Then we came home to more Gluhwein and home made mince pies!  Perfect.

Friday was a great day with my Mum.  After work, we headed into town and to the art gallery.  The gallery is one of the biggest sights in Bremen that I hadn't yet seen as it had been undergoing a renovation for about a year after I arrived here.  My mum loves art so it was the perfect opportunity to go there.  It wasn't too expensive and the have an Eduard Munch (the Scream painter) on at the moment which was especially interesting.  I was also surprised at how many other big artists (Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, Manet...) they have in their normal collection.  It's definitely worth a visit.  Afterwards, we did some shopping and headed through the market again before coming home to another delicious meal from Nico (chicken wrapped in bacon in red wine sauce done in the Roman cooking pot, mmm).

Saturday was Mum's last day here and we made the most of it with a lovely breakfast at Cafe Classico with Loretto and Rachel.  This was followed by last minute Christmas Market shopping to fit in all the must dos (chocolate covered fruit, mulled wine, xmas shopping) before we headed to the airport.  We had a relaxing evening but I did manage to fit in some Christmas shopping.  I've left this later than ever but it is progressing.  While Mum was here, I bought some gorgeous presents for my niece and nephew - can't wait to see them both in the holidays.

Next week is going to be a little calmer.  I must finish the Christmas shopping and get some exams done with a couple of my classes but nothing to exciting this week.  Must also come up with something new to do!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Something New Week #4

My new thing this week involved crossing something else off my 27 things list.  This week, I went to the cinema with my boyfriend for the first time!  

I used to love going to the cinema.  In England, I went every week with my friend Charlotte and we'd see every film going.  I started out a little like that here in Bremen.  I especially love that the Cinemaxx does a ladies night which I went to with Linda.  However, most of my lady friends here are English now and it's more difficult to get a group there. 

Nico doesn't agree with the costs in the cinema and really I totally agree with him - especially the food and drink stand.  To be fair, not going there every week has done wonders for my money diet.  However, I still have some vouchers for the cinema (they weren't valid for the 3D film) so hopefully it won't be another 18 months before I drag him there again!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Mum's Visit

Mum will be arriving this afternoon.  I'm so excited, and have lots planned for her two days here.  First we'll be making a trip to the Kunsthalle Bremen as well as lots of time in the Christmas Markets and Christmas shopping and of course, showing her round our new flat and introducing her to Pete!  I'll be letting you know how it went soon!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Yoga in Twos!

Last week, we tried something new in yoga - partner work!  I was a little disappointed because my normal yoga partner Loreto had been held up and missed yoga for the first time since I started.  I'm a little bit backwards about being forward with people I don't know, especially in my second language but it was really good!  There was only one activity we couldn't manage together - standing up without using our hands from a sitting back to back position (just try it if you think it sounds easy!)

Next week I'm thinking of breaking my clothes ban and investing a little of my bonus money in some yoga kit - let's see.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


On Saturday, after heading to the cinema, we were so into the spirit in town that we decided to stay for dinner after buying our tree.  We'd tried to go before but they were closed and we thought we were going to be out of luck this time as it was so busy but they managed to fit us in. 

Since going gluten free, eating out can be a problem, especially in restaurants based around diets that mainly include wheat (I'm thinking Italian with all the pizza pasta, and my all time favourite).  We thought Mexican was going to be the same with all the wheat tortillas but Mexical not only uses some Corn flour tortillas as well as wheat flour, but they show it on the menu so that it was easy to pick!  Apart from that, the food was delicious and healthy. 

The cocktails are tasty too!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Christmas is Coming!

Christmas has finally officially arrived in Zum Huchtinger Bahnhof!  Not only is our flat well on the way to being decorated (every room now has some aspect of Christmas, there's just the tree to finish) but the neighbours are into it too.  On our way home last night we spotted a big Christmas tree on the roof of the beakery on the corner!  Brilliant!

We've now lit the second light on our advent wreath, started on the advent calenders, opened the Gluhwein, baked mince pies and put up the tree so we are well on the way.  Just the shopping to finish now!

Pete's not so sure about the tree yet but I think he's going to love it too.  I can't wait til I see a little cat sized santa hat!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

27 things - See a 3D Film!

This afternoon we made the most of the miserable weather and headed indoors in town to watch Happy Feet 2 in 3D.  I've seen some shows in theme parks that were 3D before and good fun but never a full movie.  The cinema was surprisingly empty but not surprisingly those that were there were mainly under the age of ten.

The film itself was not as good as the first one but I really enjoyed the 3D aspect.  It wasn't as dramatic as the theme park as shows but I liked that.  It didn't make me jump - it was just fun!  And it meant that I finally got Nico into the cinema after almost 18 months together!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Saturday Update

This week I have put on a pound.  This is not as negative as it could be given the continued consumption of Gluhwein and regular trips to the Market again.  I'm kind of putting this on the back burner until the New Year when I plan to make getting to goal my number one resolution followed by getting more exercise.

This week has seen pay day, Christmas bonus and finally my German tax return so things are looking up on that front!  This also saw me lift my shopping ban temporarily.  Well, my last pair of flat shoes fell apart on Thursday night in the rain so I have invested in some girly peach pump type shoes for day to day wear.  At the bargain price of 9.50 Euros, I'm not convinced they'll last long but if I like them, I'll by some better quality next time.

I'm still fighting off a horrible cold which is affecting my hearing now so I have to see an ENT specialist next week.  It sounds a bit scary seeing a specialist but it's more common here than in England so we will see what Monday brings.

We've been coming up with some new teaching ideas for the top set pupils in year seven so I've been busy copying fiction books (which all my pupils want to read, not just the top set).  We're going to do Mathilda next year (book, then film) and I'm taking them to the school kitchen to make mince pies for Xmas!

I finished making my Christmas cards to send to England and just need to do one more German one now.  The flat is becoming more full of the Christmas spirit every day and hopefully, we will find a tree this afternoon!

Next week, I must crack on with the Christmas shopping, will hopefully cross something else of my 27 list and am looking forward to a visit from Mum on Thursday!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Something New Week #3

This week was something totally unexpected and not even organised by me but was something new all the same.  This week I met some professional basketball players.  The school had a visit from the Bremerhaven Polar Bears!  

 Jamison Brewer (former NBA player) and Maurice Pluskota came into school to answer some of the pupils' questions, show them some skills and play a game.  It was great to watch.  The pupils were extremely overexcited.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Advent Calendars at the ready!

We bought these so long ago, I thought we might forget them this morning!  And behind door number 1...

Bet you know which is mine and which is Nico's!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Calendar 2012

In February (a little late, I know), I bought a calendar published by my favourite blogger Sarah von at Yes and Yes.  Ever since making the purchase, I have looked forward to the first of every month when I get to fill in my favourite bits from the month and make a new list for the new month.  Fantastic!  (Since you know how much I love making lists!)

So you can imagine my excitement this week as she has just announced the publication of her 2012 calendar and it's better than ever with special cut out and do activities that seem to fit right in with my new craft hobby!  As soon as I clear some of my Christmas bonus into my English account - that baby is mine!!  Here's to a fabulous 2012!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Monday, 28 November 2011

Hayley's Visit

Hayley was here from Thursday until Saturday last week.  She was just in time for the Christmas Market which opened on Thursday.  We spent Thursday evening and most of Friday there.  Gluhweins were consumed, Starbucks Christmas specials too, Christmas shopping was started and we ate some of the delicious offerings including chocolate covered strawberries.  I'm not sure if the markets get better each year or if I just forget how magical they are.  I can't wait for the next visit!

Of course, it was also great that Hayley was there and we even found some time to hit all my favourite shops and start buying some presents.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Happy First Advent!

Today is the first Sunday of Avent.  I learnt about this in primary school as it was a catholic tradition but here in Germany it's not religious.  Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas and it's when people start decorating so in true German style we have started with the decorations.  Here's the advent wreath which we will be lighting tonight and we'll also be putting out the other decorations.  The tree will be coming next week...

So happy First Advent!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Saturday Update

This week I have stayed the same again.  This is another miracle given the complete lack of planning, the start of the Christmas markets and the reintroduction of alcohol.

The highlight of the week was Hayley's visit, timed perfectly for the start of the markets.  I love the markets in Bremen.  The medieval section on the Schlachte is my favourite.  We had our first Gluhwein of the year there and kept our new little bootie mugs as souvenirs.  I got some Christmas shopping done, made some more cards and found out that I'm getting a whopping bonus which will pay for Christmas and cover another debt!  

The only downside was coming down with a pretty heavy cold yesterday.  Haven't felt this ill for a while.  Actually cried like when I was a little kid this morning.  Unfortunately we're out of lemsips now but vitamin C hot lemon drinks and a mix of other drugs are keeping it at bay.  

Next week is another full work week and payday so more Xmas shopping and keeping an eye on the Cinemaxx site to see when Happy Feet 2 is out in 3D!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Something New Week #2

This week I made my own Christmas cards for the first time ever.  After literally days of stocking up on materials at Idee in Bremen, I finally sat down and got a little bit creative.  Here are some of the results.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Today, my Gran turns 88 years young.  This is the lady who swore blind that she wouldn't reach 80!

I'm sure many people feel this way about their Gran's, at least I hope so, but really, my Gran is a true inspiration.

She was born the second of eight children in a small two bedroom terraced house in Morley, just around the corner from where she lives now.  At the age of seventeen she signed up to the army, to get away from her family and her job in the mill.  While the war wasn't the best experience for many, she really came into her own during those years.  Her 'this is the life' moment was eating beans on toast in a cafe in Bristol.  She made great friends and probably had the kind of experience that most of us have at university these days.

She has had three husbands during her lifetime.  She was divorced from the first after he made her give up her post-war army job and tried to make her work in the family owned shop.  The second, my grandfather passed away after a struggle with cancer, but leaving her with her only child - my mother.  The third gave her a new lease of life in retirement but sadly also passed away due to a heart attack.

When she did reach the age of eighty, she found out she had cancer in her womb.  It was a very difficult time for our family and even though we stayed positive for her, it was hard not to worry, especially as she continued her predictions of not reaching her next birthday.  However, she beat it and has had the five year all clear now. 

She's now a great-grandmother - something many people don't achieve.

There are many more stories and many more ways that she has inspired me but she probably wouldn't want me sharing them on here!  She's not always positive and she does feel down at times (who wouldn't after outliving three husbands and six siblings) but whatever she says and feels, she has more fighting spirit than anyone I know and IF I live to see my 88th birthday, I hope I have half the happiness and spirit that she has.

Happy Birthday Gran!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

On Bilingualism

Sometimes, especially before I moved to Germany, I feel really proud of myself for being able to communicate in more than one language.  I completely believe that it's great exercise for a whole different part of the brain and one which it's now hard to switch off.  I dream in German and have even started to create my own Gerglish language!  It makes me feel especially proud of myself given my home country's lack of ambition when it comes to foreign languages.  I must admit though that since being here, I have realised that my second (and third and fourth) languages isn't as good as I thought and I still have a long way to go...I'm working on it though.

My ultimate ambition would be to be like this amazing man who unfortunately passed away this week but left us with some great entertainment.

Not only did Georg Kreisler come up with some pretty amazing word play in his own native language, but then moved to America and did it all over again in English and so well that you can barely hear his accent.  R.I.P.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


I went to my second yoga class last night.  I've switched to Mondays and what is officially the beginners' class.  It was indeed much easier although we seemed to move more and do more.  My back and my tummy both felt great afterwards.  I especially liked the cool down session with special eye packs and blankets.  It's a great workout and relaxing too.  Great way to start the week and I even upheld my clothes buying ban despite the gorgeous collection they stock.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Baking Sunday

For a change we had a productive weekend and both of us spent a good deal of yesterday cooking and baking.  First I made a new batch of my celery soup for the week.  The exciting bit came with the new recipe for gluten free mince pies!  You can see it here.

It's always a bit of a pain with dough when it's gluten free because it just doesn't hold together the same way but it wasn't too difficult with this one although it didn't go as far as the recipe said.  We had dough for ten pies and mince for fourteen.  They were really delicious but a little bit bitter with so much zest so Nico very kindly iced some for me to sweeten them up.  Mmmm, delicious.

At the same time Nico prepared these gluten free breadsticks which I will be eating with my soup this week.

All gone!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Como Agua Para Chocolate

I spent this week reading a Spanish novel.  This is something I haven't done for a while.  In fact, since I was at uni, I can think of only two others I have read.  I bought this when I was feeling bad about not keeping my Spanish up and only picked it up this week as part of my drive to read all the books I own before I buy any more but I was totally surprised by it.

It's a brilliant story of a girl, Tita who falls in love but is forbidden by her mother to marry because of a family tradition that the youngest daughter should remain at home to take care of the parents in their old age.  It's also linked heavily to cooking and some Mexican recipes and remedies.  The story is beautiful with so many twists and turns, like many family sagas.  I won't spoil the story but it's definitely worth a read.  (It's available in English - Like Water for Chocolate).

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Saturday Update

It's been a busy week again with parents' evening/day at work, my evening classes and trying new things!  I've been shopping in the city three times in preparation for next week's new thing, and generally keeping busy.  It seems to have paid off as I have lost two pounds this week despite not tracking and some heavy snacking.  I'm putting it down to the lovely celery 0 points soup we had again this week (for four lunches!!).  You can find the recipe here

I've also started the Christmas decorating!  Or flat decorating.  I'm trying to get more into the German tradition of decorating the flat all year round.  So nothing specifically linked to Christmas has come out yet but it's already looking nicer.  I also need to get cracking on the Christmas shopping too.  It's twice as complicated this year, since I need to do a lot of it online because we are flying back to England without luggage (thanks to the extortionate charges) and don't have space to take much with.
Next week it's going to be even more hectic with more lessons and meetings at work, a visit from Hayley, the start of the Christmas markets and my other something new project so I am making the most of relaxing this weekend.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Something New Week #1

As promised I have tried something new this week.  On Wednesday night I made me first homemade moussaka!  I'm not going to say it tasted amazing - I am not the spice woman and had to rely on Nico to add those for me later - but it tasted much better than I had expected.  I think it's the cheese...mmm.  The best discovery was that it is a gluten free dish which I didn't know!  So I didn't have to adapt it and it was really quite straight forward!


1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, finely chopped   
1 clove Garlic, crushed   
1 medium Courgette, chopped   
175 g Mushrooms, sliced   
1 can chopped Tomatoes
1 teaspoon Mixed Herbs, dried 
1 Vegetable Stock Cube, dissolved in 125ml hot water   
1 tablespoon Cornflour, blended with 2 tbsp cold water   
1 medium Aubergine, sliced   
600 g Potatoes, par-boiled and sliced   
250 g soft Cheese  
50 g Cheddar Cheese, grated   
1 medium Egg
1 pinch Salt, and freshly ground black pepper   


  • Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion, garlic and courgette for 3 - 4 minutes, until softened. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, herbs and stock. Bring up to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer without a lid for 10 minutes. Add the blended cornflour and cook, stirring, until thickened. Remove from the heat and season.
  • Spoon half the tomato mixture into a large baking dish. Layer the aubergine slices over the top, then spread the remaining tomato mixture over them. Arrange the potatoes over the surface in an overlapping layer.
  • Beat together the soft cheese with the egg. Season with salt and pepper. Spread over the potatoes, then sprinkle the grated cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 45 - 50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown. 
This is a Weightwatchers recipe that comes in at just 9 Propoints per serving.  (The recipe is designed to make four servings)

My favourite class of the week

One day, when my job becomes really boring, even to me, I'll stop giving you crazy updates that probably don't convince you how much I love teaching.  That day is not today though.  I had another great evening yesterday with my adult classes.  The advanced class are both really good and a little bit scary in that I'm not sure what I can teach them, they are so advanced.  Last night they debated for one hour the pros and cons of facebook.  I have never felt so lazy in my work.  I didn't make a peep.  At the end of the day though, it is a speaking class and they all put themselves out there and made points and argued their case - it was brilliant.  It was a different mix of students from last week with four new faces but it worked really well.

My only concern was one new lady who hardly spoke.  I thought she might ask for her money back or something but at the end of the lesson, she hung back and told me (in English of course) that she had really enjoyed the lesson and even thanked me!  That kind of feedback is amazing as a teacher.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Something New

I recently read an article that said in order to stay young, we should try to do something new once a week.  I'm already trying 27 this year but I've decided to try to put this into practice too.  Hey, it can't hurt can it?  

(Okay so yoga did hurt a little the day after but not enough to put me off!)

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Parents' Evening

I'm half way through parents' evening/day and it's one aspect of my job that can be quite depressing.  In England, I always found that the parents who make appointments to see you and turn up are rarely those that you really need to speak to.  They're normally the responsible ones whose children are equally responsible and are doing fine in school.  In a way, it's nice to be able to feedback the positive and to guess whose parents you are speaking to if the pupils don't come with but I have too much of a glass half full attitude to ignore the fact that those who don't turn up to appointments or don't even bother to make them are the reason that their children behave the way they do in class and it's a really negative reflection of society.  

Having had a brilliant up bringing, I was shielded from the kind of thing I see in my job now.  I'll never forget my first parents' evening where I had one hyperactive pupil and I told his mother and step-father that his German was good but would be improved by better concentration and the step-father told me to call home straight away next time and he would beat it out of the pupil.  It really opened my eyes and the kid in question could have run riot the rest of the year and have behaved much worse and there's no way I would have called home.

I guess I just have to take from it that the kids need all the help they can get and that that makes my job worthwhile.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Morning Routine

This has been my morning for the past week or so now.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

27 things...try a yoga class.

On Friday I took the latest step in my transformation into a hippy and went to my first yoga class!  A friend of mine has been going for a while and as I have Friday afternoons free, we decided to go together this week.  

I have to admit it wasn't exactly as I expected.  I went to pilates last year and really enjoyed it and thought it would be a little more like that.  It's not completely different but it is more relaxing.  The centre itself is really nice.  I think it's a fairly new company.  You can see for yourself here.  The floors are all wooden, there are some lovely changing rooms and shower areas.  There's a reception with sofas where you can drink tea before the class (included in the price).  The yoga studio itself is a reasonable size, the lights were dimmed and there are candles and scented oils everywhere.  

The class started with a few words from the teacher on the theme of the week - love and a reading from Buddha.  Then there was a little bit of quiet time or meditation.  The exercises themselves are strength building and stretches that relax and strengthen the body.  The best way I can think to describe the difference between yoga and pilates in my experience is that yoga is somehow more relaxing, although not by any means easy.  The teacher makes it look easy but there were a few positions that it will take me some time to learn.  We also had the advantage that she translates the instructions into English when she can see that we haven't understood something.

I've signed up to go once a week and next week we're going to meet before hand for a drink.  I find it a great way to end the week and get into a relaxed mood for the weekend.  I also think that once I get back to cycling and have my fitness training that way, yoga will compliment it nicely and hopefully help to build my strength.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Saturday Update

This week I have stayed the same.  I'm a little disappointed as I have been totally on the plan and counting points since Monday and I have been racking up the points through walking even though I haven't gotten back on my bike yet.  I am going to stay motivated and on track though.  I plan to make some more 0 points soup and cut some points that way.  I am still off alcohol, so that should be helping too.  Fingers crossed for next week!  We also tried a new, delicious tofu and spinach salad recipe for lunch one day and I am going to make that again next week too.  Lookout for it this week.

Aside from that it's been a busy old week.  I went back to work on Monday despite not being 100%.  I lost my voice on Tuesday which led to losing my rag a little bit with my afternoon classes but apart from that, work has been good and I've been giving a lot of lessons on Guy Fawkes!  I also used those resources for my adult classes which got a little more interesting this week as I started delivering the advanced course too.  I'm really enjoying Thursday evenings at the moment.  

This week I also caught up with the other Native Speakers and the new ones who I hadn't yet met when we had the official get to know you drink at Cafe Classico in the centre on Thursday.  I discovered that two of the ladies who are new here are feeling quite homesick and finding it hard to meet people.  To be honest if it hadn't been for Linda when I first got here and Nico ever since, I would probably be feeling the same so I am going to try to arrange more get togethers and social things to make them feel more welcome and settled.  It's always great to meet new people and having discovered that only three of us have stayed from last year's group, I want to try and change that this year.

So next week is going to be busy too.  I have a full work week including parents' days which are always fun and a few social items on my calendar too.  Have a good one!

Friday, 11 November 2011

On teaching adults...

Last night I started my second evening course - Advanced English.  I'd had a bit of trouble in the class beforehand due to my bad planning.  It's supposed to be Easy English Conversation but I have some very strong students in there and I'd been aiming my material too much towards them.  Now that the advanced class has started, I've recommended that some move to the later group and hopefully that will let me plan more focused and productive lessons!

The new students make a really interesting group.  This time there is a guy from Brazil who doesn't speak German and a woman from Russia.  (who coincidentally work at the same place but didn't know each other)  There are also two police officers - so it went down well that I had planned an activity on police corruption in Mexico!  But regardless of background, they were all keen to learn and to speak English.

I'm really looking forward to next week.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Crafty Christmas

A couple of weeks ago, Nico introduced me to a new shop in Bremen.  I'd seen the shop from outside but considering that it consists of the sign below and a downward heading escalator, I'd never trusted myself to go in.  It's actually a craft shop!  

Now that I've finished a couple of my big projects, I've decided I'm going to have a crafty Christmas and make my own cards and some decorations for the flat.  I already have a few ideas and my Irish penpal has a wonderful blog which has a lot of creative ideas that I might adapt and use myself!  I could do with some more inspiration though - any ideas?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Strictly's Back

Ok, it's not news, it's been back a while now but I wanted to give it a mention on here - Strictly COme Dancing 2011 is here!  Just like last year, I love tuning in on a Monday to catch both shows.  I love the glamour of it all and as soon as it starts, you just know Christmas (and a visit home) is on it's way.

This year was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of the celebrities and for the first time, I didn't really have one favourite from the start.  I think Russell Grant is brilliant!  I don't expect him to win it or anything but he is great entertainment.  In terms of a winner, it's still such a close race.  Jason has been looking good for weeks but the last two weeks haven't favoured him with the judges.  Chelsee has come from no where to be really brilliant and Holly and Harry are front runners too - very exciting.

It's so inspirational too.  Here in Germany, a lot of people learn ballroom dancing at school and I felt totally out of place not being able to dance at Nico's grandparents' wedding anniversary because I don't know the waltz.  If I can find a class I can attend, i.e. not the same night as the evening classes I teach, I'll be there!

Keep Dancing!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Latest Crossstitch

It's amazing what sick leave can do for your hobbies.  I bought this three years ago and just finished it this weekend!

Monday, 7 November 2011

27 24 in 24.

I made the most of my last sick day on Friday and ticked another item off my 27 list.  I watched series 3 of 24 within 24 hours.  I had intended to just watch a series of 24 but the way we go through TV shows, it wasn't much of a challenge.  I started at 11am and finished at 5.30am on Saturday.  

On the whole I have enjoyed the first three series but I do feel it's getting a little bit repetitive and to be honest some of the storylines just make me want to scream at the TV.  Father and daughter working in the same office in such a job?...Husband and wife working in the same office in such a job?...and when will the President learn to stop asking his crazy bitch ex wife to help him?  It always goes horribly wrong when she's around (though I guess that last point has answered itself now).  

Maybe I'll get round to the other series' some day but for the moment I'm all 24d out!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

27 things...finish my MA.

While I don't want to jinx this in the slightest, technically my MA is finished!

I submitted my dissertation this week and it is the best feeling in the world!  While it's been a great experience and I have enjoyed it, I've really felt like it's been hanging over me these last few months on the last module.  It's an experience I would recommend to anyone, especially teachers as it's a really great way to improve your practice.

So now I am just waiting on the results - provisionally in January and should graduate in July - keep your fingers crossed for me!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

The Saturday Update

Well, I really wish there was more to report this week but unfortunately Nico and I have both been signed off work sick all week.  At first a couple of days sounds good and relaxing - especially after how busy our holidays were but honestly?  I hate sitting around doing nothing.  So I have been fairly busy catching up with our series' and on Friday I had a marathon of 24 in 24 and cross stitching.

So that's another tick off the list of 27!  I'm past half way now and while I'm not sure I'll manage everything by April feels good to have so many new experiences this year!

On a positive note, the crazy temperamental scales which said I had gained 4lbs last week claim that I have lost 6.5lbs this week so that's good!  Of course when I start doing more next week, I expect to gain - it seems to be the way these scales work.  Though avoiding cheese and alcohol can't have hurt. 

Next week it's back to work - completely fit or not and back to my French studies now that the MA is submitted.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Holiday Update - the last weekend

Instead of a nice rest before we head back to school, we had a packed weekend again.  First we headed into town on Saturday with Dad and Christina for last minute shopping and a nice Greek lunch!  I also discovered some craft stores that I will definitely be visiting again post pay day for some Christmas ideas.

We had a fairly quiet evening on Saturday after having waved Dad and Christina off at the airport.  I put some work in on my dissertation and we had a visit from a friend - Madlen who came round to meet Pete and get some Kambucha from Nico.

On Sunday we were up fairly early after changing the clocks to put some final touches to my dissertation before heading off to Nico's parents' for the day for his mum's birthday.  It was nice to catch up with all his family again and I think his mum had a nice day.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Holiday Pics!

Pete relaxing on his first weekend with us


Pete in action

Pete the devil cat

Pete's first hiding  place

Dad & Christina's plane arriving

Pete's second hiding place

With the Stadtmusikanten

Play time!

Brain Training

My holiday jigsaw

Spotting the landmarks of Bremen from our local park

Magic Mushrooms

Exploring the centre

With the Berlin Wall

At the Greek restaurant on our last day

Until next time!