Thursday, 31 March 2011

Tractor Time

Another thing I have crossed off my 30 things list and still not blogged about, is my tractor driving experience.  Nico's grandparents own a farm in the countryside between Bremen and Hamburg.  On my very first visit there, they were kind enough to let me try driving one!  

I admit I was absolutely terrified.  Essentially it's the same as driving a car in the mechanics but it's on such a big, scary scale!  Nico's poor brother was charged with instructing me and keeping control should I lose it!  Although my German is ever improving, my brain chose this point to shut down in fear so I nodded in politeness while having little idea what I was doing.  Don't worry though, one circuit of the barn at snail pace and as you can see, we made it out in one piece!  I'd recommend it to anyone - list or not!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Spanish Weekend

This weekend was the perfect end to a nice sunny week.  My Erasmus friend Amira, and her boyfriend arrived on Saturday for a little reunion.  We drank sangria and discovered a new tapas restaurant in Bremen.  The tapas wasn't the highest standard ever but it was very good value and I will definitely be visiting again.  Unfortunately after one cocktail, we were all a little too tired to make it much more of a night but it was a great evening and here we are enjoying it.

Of course then the clocks went forward which didn't help our tiredness!  I've decided the reason that they have to go forward in Spring is that nobody would get out of bed on that Sunday if it wasn't so bright and sunny!

On this nice sunny Sunday, we headed along the Werder See into Bremen for a nice drink and an ice cream to make the most of the weather before walking back and saying goodbye.  A really pleasant weekend.  Looking forward to the next reunion!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Saturday Update

As I hinted at earlier in the week, I was a little unsure as to my progress this week.  I didn't think I'd done too bad but I hadn't been as good on the planning and tracking as I had last week.  So I was pleasantly surprised this morning to find I had lost a pound.  Actually, I had thought I might have done even better judging by how I have been feeling, but that must be down to the sunshine!

So, plans for the new week:  I need to get back on top of planning and tracking, especially as we are eating out tonight.  This weekend, I'm expecting a visit from one of my Erasmus friends, Amira.  I went to see her in October in Aachen and she is coming up today for tapas and sangria.  I'm also planning on upping the exercise with some swimming this week.  I have my costume now, just need to find a pool - not enough sunshine for the lake yet!

Friday, 25 March 2011

30 Things Update

With several items on my list ticked off since I made it in August, and the latest attempt at reading Jane Austen's Emma well underway, I feel now is a good time to update you on some of them.

One of the first I ticked off my list, thanks to a lovely gift from my Mum was Gone with the Wind.  To those of you who think that watching a film is hardly an achievement worthy of such a list, maybe you haven't seen the film but let me tell you, it took some watching.  The story is very good and it's definitely an old classic but it is so long that the DVD is made up of two discs and it's the only film I can remember watching with an interval.  I definitely recommend watching it, neither the love story nor the historical aspects have lost anything over time.  My Gran told me it was her favourite film - this is why it made it onto the list in the first place - and now I know why.

Thursday, 24 March 2011


Some days it seems difficult to write.  Sometimes this is because not much has happened, sometimes it's because I'm feeling a bit down and don't want to put that out there.  This week, I have been inspired to write a bit more and even picked up some tips from a popular blog called 'yes and yes'.  This is a blog I have been following for a while but have really got into in a big way the last few weeks.  On Monday, I ordered one of her calendars for two reasons.  First of all, most of the money will go to the Red Cross who are working to help the earthquake victims in Japan - a cause I hadn't yet contributed to.  Secondly, yes and yes really appeals to my geeky side.  As well as the truly uplifting pictures and quotes that the calendar is supposed to have, she includes lists such as 'ten things to do this month'.  This from the blog that first inspired my thirty things list.  Check it out if you get the meantime, I'm checking the postbox for new deliveries daily.

Has Spring finally sprung?

I know I already mentioned this the other weekend but this week (and here's hoping this doesn't jinx it) the weather has finally caught up with the date, and the wildlife.  Yes, on last weekend's jog we spotted cute little bunny rabbits hopping about between the trees and my bird feeder on the balcony is finally being used.  Every day since Sunday (and except today actually...) has dawned sunny and bright, the temperature is up so high that I have sat outside every day this week.  Although I am a bit of a home loving girl, whose first reaction to a spontaneous trip into town is not usually positive, this week we have spent one afternoon walking around the harbour, one afternoon in the city centre and one afternoon sat outside the shopping centre (incredibly enough that was my first visit there in six months!).  

Is it just me or do things really seem easier when the weather is nicer?  It makes me want to smile more, be nicer to everyone and do more exercise.  In a little mid-week update, I have to confess that I haven't been as good on the weightwatchers this week as I was last week but I have eaten a lot more fruit and veg because it's in season and fruit and salad always taste better when the weather is warm and I've also racked up more points on the pedometer with all the walking!  Fingers crossed for Saturday then...

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Saturday Update

Yes, I have been very good this week and it has paid off as I am now 4.5lbs lighter!  This is the lightest I have been this year!  First of all, I made sure that I achieved at least one point per day on the pedometer.  This week, I am going to try to do some more activity, maybe a jog or a bike ride.  Then, I was very strict with my points, I have started writing them down in a notebook because the website is a little slow and frustrating.  We discovered some new recipes this week including a satay chicken meal that was amazing.  It has also been easier to snack on fruit now that it's getting warmer and there's more of it in the supermarkets.

It's been a generally good week on the whole, although it didn't start that way.  Gran has been really poorly for the last few weeks but got worse towards the start of this week when, although we finally found out what's causing her pain - osteoperosis - she started to be sick and lost a lot of weight.  Thankfully, she is on the mend again now (touch wood) but it is difficult being so far away.  I do feel extremely guilty sometimes but I have been able to be in touch on a regular basis with Skype or the phone.

I had my first observation with the headmaster on Tuesday which went well.  I am lucky he chose to come and see my favourite class and they are on best behaviour at the moment.  He had a few suggestions but lots of praise too which is always nice to hear!  Especially when I have had no training over here.  From the discussion, I think it is going to be different next year when I may have to teach maths or something to fill in my timetable! 

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Hobby Thursday!

Last week I finally managed to start my new French course.  At the end of the last course, before Christmas I have to admit that I had become a little lazy and with different visits and Christmas themed events, I missed a fair few lessons.  I was therefore especially disappointed when being of sick with a virus a few weeks ago coincided with the first week of the new course followed by a visit from my best friend and her husband the week after.  So last week, I finally bit the bullet and got back in there.

I have to admit that despite being a teacher, I find the whole pupil experience tense still.  I really want to work on my French and get my exams done next year but I hate speaking in front of the class.  It was especially embarrassing last week when faced with a basic French grammar question, my mind went blank.  It also distracts me a little that some (i.e. everyone else there) have a much better accent and quicker recall.  I'm trying to keep in mind that for most of them this is their main foreign language while for me it's my third and I'm learning it through a foreign language - any tough questions are answered in German, not English.  Let's just say that along with my brain training, this has to be doing wonders for my grey matter!

I've also found it tough dragging myself out of the flat for an evening class for two reasons.  One has been the dark and miserable evenings throughout winter but I have to admit that, despite a slight cooling off in the weather this week, Spring is definitely here.  We took a walk along the Werder Lake again this weekend and it always makes be notice the passing of the seasons when we are there.  First there was Autumn and the brown leaves, then Winter with the ice and feeding the ducks and now, everything has thawed again, the crocuses and snowdrops are appearing and the wildlife is everywhere - along with the runners and cyclists.  The second reason to stay in is my wonderful boyfriend.  It's so much nicer, cooking together or watching a film all snuggled up but today he has decided to return to his martial arts class that he hasn't been to for a while, which means we are both spending time doing something we enjoy for ourselves, and this makes us happier when we are together and gives us more to talk about.  So I am renaming the day - Hobby Thursday, looking forward to my French class and a lovely meal with my wonderful man afterwards!

Happy Hobby Thursday!  And a Happy St Patrick's Day!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

The Saturday Update

I have to admit I'm a little disappointed this morning.  I knew I hadn't had an excellent week but I didn't think I had gone over my points allowance yet I have put on half a pound!  I'm going to have to be completely strict with myself this week and my big target is to up my exercise level.  Having gained 8 points on the pedometer last week, I haven't made it beyond healthy a single day this week. 

For some reason I was wide awake at 7.30 this morning, I nearly had a fit when I saw the clock but it has made it a good start to the day, a nice relaxing breakfast with Weetabix and strawberries and lots of coffee.  I also have a nice Moroccan salad planned for lunch and I'll also be making some WW desserts for this evening.

It's been a quiet week on the whole but the big news was the arrival of a new Briggs, beautiful little Eleanor - congratulations Kasia and Nigel!

I also made it back to French class this week which was a bit daunting after three months off but I'm glad I'll be getting back into the swing of it and challenging my brain again for one evening per week.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Money Problems...

I've made an interesting discovery over the last month about how German companies like to receive money.  You'd think that they didn't mind as long as they were being paid and that they would make it as easy as possible for their customers to pay but it's not so.

First of all, we took a Saturday evening walk in the rain a few weeks ago to buy stamps at the machine and send some cards back to England.  The grand total to pay was 3.85 Euros.  I thought I would use this great opportunity to lighten my purse and get rid of some coinage.  No sooner had I started slotting the coins in than a little message popped up - you have reached our fifteen coin limit!  We took all the coins out and started again, this time carefully trying to make sure that the largest coins went in first.  Alas, the message appeared again and, no joke, we had reached the grand total of 3.84 Euros with our fifteen coins.  A much more careful third time turned out to be lucky and we finally got our stamps and headed home to dry off and warm up.

Having made this discovery, I thought it was just the Post Office that was a little odd, but this week I had another little adventure.  Normally when I travel by tram, I don't have to use the machines as I have a monthly ticket that I pay through my wage, however, with Hayley and Si's visit this week I had to use them again.  In buying two day tickets, the total reached a little over 12 Euros.  I didn't have many coins (having used most of them in the stamp machine) so I tried to insert two five Euro notes...but no, this time the tram company has decided that you can only use one note per transaction.  Had I not had a 20 Euro note, I would have been a lot more annoyed by this. 

What is it with German companies and limits on what type of money they accept?!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Saturday Update

Well, as expected I put on over the last fortnight.  However, it was not as bad as expected - just 2.5lb.  This week I managed to make it eight points on the pedometer thanks to Hayley and Si's visit and showing them the sights of Bremen!  And I am well and truly back on track with the Weightwatchers recipes.  It was spicy meatballs with fruity couscous last night and a nice beef Sunday dinner today.  Can't wait!

It was a busy week.  I was finally over my virus and back on work on Tuesday which turned out to be a long day at work with the kids doing exams and then a full staff meeting running on until after five in the afternoon.  Hayley and Si arrived on Thursday and we had a delicious Thai meal in the city that evening.  On Friday we did some sightseeing and shopping in town before heading to Viertel for drinks after dinner in the flat on Friday evening.  Photos to follow soon.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Latest News

Well, since my last up date we are both feeling much better.  Unfortunately the kiss ban was extended a little longer than expected but he is very pleased now that he has his favourite way to shut me up back! - charming! 

I'm back at work, although probably sooner than I should have been.  It's going ok (touch wood).  And this week we are looking forward to a visit from Hayley and Si.  I'm really looking forward to it.  It's been a long two months since we were at home and it will be nice to see some familiar faces again. 

However, this does mean eating out and some heavy drinking before weigh in on Saturday which I'm already dreading after being ill...we'll see.