Sunday, 31 July 2011

27 things...Take a Motorbike Trip

On our first day back in Germany, Nico took me for a little ride to cross another first off my to do list.  I finally took a ride on a motorbike!  Of course, I wasn't driving, I left that to Nico as the man with a fact the only accident on the whole trip took place as he left me alone with the bike (engine off) for all of twenty seconds so I won't be applying for my license any time soon!

I was a little apprehensive about the whole experience given that my Gran had once been on the back of a bike (at about my age) and had an accident!  I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised, the whole experience was great.  When I first started cycling again, I always felt funny without a seatbelt, well this took that feeling to a whole new level but in a good way.  I never felt unsafe but it did feel very open and breezy of course.  It was a great experience and although I was aching after a while, I'd definitely like to do it again!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

27 things...Have an Appy Feet Pedicure

While we were back in England we also crossed another thing off my list of 27 things to do before I turn 27.  We went for a fish pedicure.  This is something I wanted to do ever since we saw a new fish pedicure shop in York at Christmas and when we got back to Morley we found out that a new spa had opened (soak spa) on the main street there so we tried it out.

It was brilliant.  It's a little freaky at first as it tickles a lot but you soon get used to it and then it's quite relaxing.  Nico hates having his feet touched but he even enjoyed it!

First we had to soak our feet for about fifteen minutes, then we could put them in the fish tanks and it's amazing how fast they go to your feet!  They don't have teeth or anything so there's nothing to fear, it really does just tickle.  We had fifteen minutes with our feet in there and afterwards I also had a foot massage with nice foot cream and it was like walking on air!  This was all for just ten pounds.  I bought my friend a voucher and will definitely go again...try it!

Friday, 29 July 2011


At the start of the holidays we had two weeks in England which I haven't talked about much yet.  After the two days in Whitstable, we headed back to Morley to catch up with friends and family for ten days.

It was really important to me to see my Gran as I haven't seen her since Christmas and she has been in hospital.  The worst thing about being abroad, is being away at times like that but she has demanded it of me herself that I don't move back to England!  Anyway, she was weaker than last time we saw her but having seen her on the webcam and having prepared myself for the worst, it wasn't too big a shock seeing her.  She was the same funny, stubborn Gran that we left there in January.  By the end of the visit she was visibly stronger and starting to cook for herself more but it was great to be there and help her while we could.

We also caught up with the rest of my immediate family which was great.  I have seen my parents since Christmas as they have visited here in Bremen which is lovely and hopefully will come and see our new place before Christmas.  I hadn't seen my brother and sister though so it was also good to catch up with them and see both of their new homes while we were back.

During our second week back we visited Heckmondwike for Languages Day and had the luck to see my old form.  I can't believe the difference in them in just a year.  Still rowdy as ever but one pupil in particular I thought must have joined this year until I realised who it was and of course it was great to hear they won the year eight Eurovision contest with their rendition of Superkalifragilistigexpialigetisch!  It was strange being back, somehow like I'd never left but all different at the same time.

We managed to meet up with several friends and catch up on their news too which was great.  Despite our best efforts and being exhausted most days, we didn't manage to see everyone but we will be back in the Christmas holidays and there's lots of room for guests in our new place!

One final highlight of the holiday was flying back (yep, the German way of life has convinced me that it is possible to go car-less...we shall see) and it was the first time for Nico.  I think I was one the first time I went on a plane but it's something I have now done so often, I barely think about it.  I think Nico enjoyed it, he coped better than I probably would have as an adult first timer - but then he's not a giant wimp. 

Thursday, 28 July 2011

One Year On

Today is exactly one year since I came to live in Bremen and I can't believe quite how much my life has changed.  When I left England to start my two year post, several friends joked how I would meet someone and stay here and I laughed it I'm moving in with Nico in two days time and hoping to extend my contract indefinitely. 

It's been a good year.  I've learned a lot... mainly about Germany and the school system here, both of which I've talked about before, but also about myself.  I've done lots of new things (look at my list!) and met lots of new people and I'm so grateful that I took that leap last year.  I remember two years ago when I lost my job and flat and everything seemed to be going wrong, and now I know that it all happens for a reason.  All of those things brought me where I am today and made me appreciate it all.

So one more year in my job at least and I'm going to make it a good one.  Living with Nico in our two balcony flat is going to be an adventure in itself, and I'm going to make sure I keep trying new things and meeting new people.  I also start my new job in September teaching evening classes which will be exciting too!  So lots to look forward to and keep you up to date on. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

27 things...Eat Oysters

On our last evening in Whitstable, we also crossed a target off my 27 things list.  27 things I want to do before I turn 27.  We tried oysters.  There was a lovely little oyster bar in Whitstable.  It's on the High Street and you can't miss it, the whole building is painted pink with the name on the side too.  The usual thing seems to be to order half a dozen but as a first attempt, we ordered one each.  We put on some lemon juice and went for it.  We were advised that you can chew it and don't have to just swallow it down so we did.  All in all, it was more normal than expected.  It wasn't amazingly tasty, it was very salty, but it would make a nice starter, I certainly couldn't eat them as a meal but as a little starter, I really enjoyed it and am glad I did something new.

Thursday, 14 July 2011


We've had a wonderful couple of days in Whitstable.  It was really nice to break up the driving with a stop over in the south of England.  We arrived in the town at 4am on Monday morning following a hell of a drive and slept for nearly three hours in a carpark!  We stayed at Flat One, Harbour Street.  The flat was wonderful.  It was such a home from home with the owner, Julie, putting in all the perfect little touches, wine, tea coffee, pain au chocolate, fresh flowers...

Julie also had lots of tips on where to go and what to do.  On the first day we rested for the morning before taking a walk along the beach, fish and chip lunch and a quiet afternoon before a delicious dinner at Zizzi's.  I really want to give them a big mention because they are the only restaurant I have found so far, and a chain at that, who do gluten free pasta.  We went there for dinner both nights and the food was delicious - highly recommended!

On our full day there, we made an early start and hired some bikes from another local business for a tour to Canterbury.  It was a fifteen mile round trip, and I was really proud of myself, never having cycled in England for fifteen years, for making the journey, although some of the hills after the nice flat landscape in Northern Germany nearly killed me!  Canterbury was lovely, a very nice town but as usual for the South of England and the tourist industry, the cathedral was too expensive.  Canterbury also led to a break on my no book buying for a year ban...  Well, how could I go to Canterbury, never having read the Canterbury Tales?  As long as I have read it and all my other unread books this year, I will be happy.  

We also bumped into a German school group, a Spanish school group and an English school group.  I can't believe we drove for so many hours and still didn't escape German school pupils!  A final note on Canterbury is the amazing farmers market we visited as we left.  Absolutely amazing fresh, local products, everything from wine to meat and fish.  If only Nico had had his spice collection there in Whitstable, Zizzi's would not have had a chance!  It was called the Good Shed - worth a visit every time!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Saturday Update

Well what a week!  It's been very busy with the end of term and school year.  It was really nice to see my year 6 class get their reports and celebrate their hard work this year.  As soon as school ended, it was Breminale time with the music festival here in Bremen from Wednesday until Sunday.  We were there again last night and the highlight for me was the fire dancing act.  It was amazing to watch at dusk as they danced with different forms of fire without getting burned!  This time the June Bugs left us alone for the main part which was nice too!  

Apart from that we've still been sorting things out for England and the big move when we get back.  Today we'll be finishing preparations before setting off on the long drive tomorrow before (hopefully) a relaxing couple of days in Whitstable together for Nico's birthday.  Can't wait!

Thursday, 7 July 2011


To celebrate the start of the holidays we went out last night and visited the free local festival that is on from yesterday until Sunday in Bremen - Breminale.

Breminale is great.  It takes place along the grassy banks of the Weser (where the extent of high tide gave me a bit of a shock last night).  There are bands from all over Europe and other acts such as comedians and dancers.  There's plenty of food and drink options there too.  The idea is that you buy souvenirs as well as your food and drink there to support the festival because it's all done for free.  This also means there is a great mix of people there.  As you can see from the poster, they make a play on the Bremen Town Musicians each year and this year's theme was bugs.  I found this quite appropriate as I made another new discovery as we left - the June Bug!  I've heard of them but never really knew what they were.  Last night swarms were flying about in the trees and in the crowds.  Of course, I reverted to childhood and flapped and screamed and totally embarrassed Nico into leaving the festival.  Ooops.  My one saving grace was that I wasn't the only one, women and men throughout the crowd were doing exactly the same.  My camera has stopped working unfortunately, but here's what the little horrors look like:

Wednesday, 6 July 2011


So finally the Summer holidays have arrived.  Another year is over, another exam class through and gone into the 'big, bad world', and another six weeks holiday arrived.  (For the none teachers reading this, rolling their eyes and groaning, I will swap jobs with you for a week and you will be begging for a six week holiday!)

In many ways I don't know where this year has gone, it's been a huge learning curve but so much has happened that it has flown by.  As I've said before, I am really looking forward to having a sense of progression with my classes next year as the first year that I haven't started a new school.  I'm very excited about it.

The holidays themselves will be exciting too, in fact I'm going to have to make sure I take some time to relax before the next year starts.  On Sunday it's off to England for two weeks of catching up with family and friends.  When we come back we have four days to pack our flats up before the big move and then it'll be unpacking and settling in before the new school year.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

On Dating Fellow Teachers

I've read articles on it in the TES, I witnessed it as a pupil and now I'm actually part of the trend that is teachers who date teachers.  According to the article I read, it is far more common in our profession that many others.  Indeed, at my former high school there are now three married couples teaching there as well as others dating other teachers there or teachers from other schools.  

It's my (rather subjective) opinion that teaching is quite a unique profession and despite the "ridiculous amount of holidays" we get, actually quite stressful.  I think this is one of the reasons we teachers cling together.  When you have been on your feet teaching groups of 24+ kids all day, marking a stack of homework and planned all your lessons for the next day, you need someone at home who understands that you are mentally and physically exhausted.  Of course it's not as bad as this every day or we wouldn't do the job but it's really nice to be able to go home and talk about your day to someone who understands exactly what you are going through and can lend a supportive ear. I've talked before about how we share ideas for teaching and that's another thing I love about our shared profession. 

However, sometimes dating another teacher can take its toll.  Over the last month both of us have had exam classes and marking and end of year reports and a whole host of other stresses at work and while it's great that we understand each other, two of us so stressed at the same time is not always productive.  The lack of energy between us meant that some things like cooking together went out of the window and we have been living on fish fingers and chips for a while! 

Which is why this week has been so great.  The school year is almost over, lessons are finished, reports are written and there's no more planning or marking for six weeks.  We're almost ready for our big move and just need to pack for our trip to England.  The last two or three days, we've cooked together, had time for each other and been out and about in Bremen sightseeing.  It's just like when we first got together nine months ago and I love it!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Town Hall Tour

Last weekend we decided we didn't want to see every weekend pass us by while we were lazy and did nothing.  So yesterday we put our new plan into action and as the weather wasn't on our side we decided to visit the town hall for a guided tour.  We have tried to do this on a couple of occasions already but it is always sold out.  So yesterday bright and early we went online and booked our tickets.

Unfortunately that turned out to be more trouble than it was worth almost.  When we had booked, we wrote down the reference number and trotted off down to the town hall for three pm when the lady on the door wanted to know where our ticket was.  We gave her the reference number (or tried) but she had no list and insisted we had to have a ticket.  (This wasn't printed anywhere on the confirmation email - we even double checked last night).  So following a mad dash to the tourist office and back and a conversation with the woman there who seemed to be on her own planet, we were the last in for the tour and missed the start.

The woman who let us in did offer to let us have a tour in English but since I noticed this week that my listening skills are better than ever in German and I feel bad for putting Nico through the stress of concentrating in English all the time, I said no.  This turned out to be a little mistake too because while I picked up a lot, in some rooms I understood almost nothing.  This was again due to the way the tours are run.  It's so popular that they have three tours simultaneously and the floors are really creaky so while the thirty of us in one group are trying to listen, the sixty people in the other two groups are walking round, talking and generally making lots of noise. 

All of these complaints aside, what I did hear was generally interesting and what I saw was quite impressive.  And while some of the tour covered points I had heard before (the large model ship that hangs from the ceiling and has real working canons), there was a lot of new bits.  For example, I never knew a blue whale once swam up the Weser and got stuck!  It's picture and jaw bone still hang in the town hall.

It's definitely worth a visit and I hope we'll be keeping up this new plan of discovering our region after the move, but make sure you get a paper ticket and take the tour in your own language.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Saturday Update

This week I have stayed the same again.  This is hardly surprising except that I might have expected to put a little more on.  I've been very good on the exercise front and very good while on the trips since all the snacks the others were eating weren't gluten free but the evenings have not been soo good.  At the moment though, with everything that is going on, I'm happy to stick with staying the same until we get settled in the new flat and I can get cracking again.

As the blogs this week have suggested, it's been a mad week with trips on four days and trying to sort things out for the move and the holiday.  Yesterday was the retirement party of a colleague and I was a little annoyed with myself at only really getting to know her at the end of the year.  Next year I'm going to make more of an effort to talk to everybody and get to know people at school.  This year has been more about settling in and getting used to the system but my German's improving and I want to fit in better at school and not leave it until I probably have to leave next year to get to know people.

Another thing also hit home with the retirement speeches.  I'm really looking forward to the next school year because it will be the first time that I am teaching at the same school for two years in a row.  Since I qualified I've taught at three very different schools in three years and I'm looking forward to the relative break of already knowing the system now and being able to concentrate on my lessons more.  It seemed a little crazy getting so excited when I then heard that the colleague had been at the school for thirty three years!  That's longer than I have been alive!  It's also something I'd really like to do though - find the right school for me and stick with it.  I'd better get a move on (or maybe not given the pension set up).  It's hard not knowing what's coming in the next year, and although I'm being given a year off that trial, I'm not looking forward to it the year after, on the other hand, I don't want to jinx it but each period of not knowing has always brought me something better.  I can't imagine how things can get much better than they will be in September but I'm ready to find out!

Friday, 1 July 2011

We found it!

Project Week is sadly coming to an end.  It's been fun but absolutely exhausting too.  I didn't expect it to tire me out quite so much but between the weather, all the walking and screaming kids, it has done.  Luckily today is a shorter day with the kids presenting on what they have done this week and us saying goodbye to the colleagues who are leaving us this year.

In amongst all of the trips with school this week, Nico and I have been making preparations for the big move.  We realised with England and everything, how little time we actually have left to sort things, but we're on with it.  It hasn't all been work though.  One day we had time to call in to the cathedral and if you remember the mouse I mentioned a few weeks ago - we hunted and found it.  Here it is!