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!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Holiday Update - Friday

So Trivial Pursuit night was a bit much for me or rather the half bottle of ouzo was and I spent Friday morning in bed.  When I was feeling better we walked to the Roland Centre for lunch and shopping time.  Unfortunately there were no party dresses to Christina's taste so we just did the food shopping and headed back for pork and mushroom dinner and Monk night.

Holiday Update - Thursday

On Thursday we had another walk though nature, this time at the other side of the park links der weser on our way into Bremen centre.  We had a lovely and good value lunch at the Chinese buffet am Wall.  (5.80 for all you can eat!)

Our main stop of the day was the Uebersee Museum in the centre.  This was another new place for me too.  I've heard that it's good for school trips but I think it depends on the topic.  It wasn't as hands on as Universum but it was very visual and there were some interactive sections.  The main focus is other cultures so there was a lot from Asia and Africa.  There was also a section on Bremen and immigration in Bremen which was obviously of interest to me.  Finally, they have an exhibition on Voodoo there at the moment and we saw that too - the history was very interesting too.

In the evening we had trivial pursuit night after another helping of home made lasagna which went on late.  We didn't win but we did get pie!  Progress is being made after all!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Holiday Update - Wednesday

Wednesday was our first full day with guests and we did quite a lot.  We set off walking and went through the nature park near our flat.  We climbed to the viewpoint where you can see some of the city landmarks.  The nature park was lovely - we spotted some red mushrooms with white spots - something I had always believed was a Disney invention since I have never seen them in real life!  Pics to follow.

When we got to the other side of the park we got the tram into town and went to Nordsee for lunch which was really nice.  We visited the Weserburg Modern Art museum in the afternoon which was interesting.  Modern art isn't always my thing, especially if it's something I could do myself but I really liked the exhibition they have at the moment which is 'Farbe im Fluss' or 'Colour in Motion'.

We had some delicious treats in Knigge cafe in town afterwards and then headed back to Huchting to buy in the ingredients for Nico's amazing lasagne and we had a nice evening eating that, drinking rioja and watching Garden State.

Holiday Update - Tuesday

On Tuesday it was up bright and early to meet our visitors at the airport.  Of course the Ryanair flight was in a little early and the trams were all over the place so we were late but it didn't matter.

First we came back to the flat to show them round and have a bit of a break.  Then we went into town.  It's Christina's first time in Bremen so we did a little bit of a town tour, discovered a but of Freimarkt and had a nice lunch in town.

We had another break in the afternoon (they had been on the go since Monday morning with little sleep.)  That gave me the chance to sort out some of the MA alterations my tutor suggested on Monday, ever still a work in progress.

In the evening we finally made it to the Mongolian restaurant over the road.  They have an all you can eat buffet for 13.80 Euros and it was amazing.  I was pogged and didn't leave room for the included dessert.  Will definitely be going again at some point but not til I get my diet under control.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Holiday Update - Monday

Monday was all set to be our get everything done day in time for a visit from family and I was anticipating a lot of stress.  Then I sat in my PJS jigsawing all morning, caught up on Strictly in the afternoon and we eventually got the DIY and cleaning done in the evening before sitting down to tea and Monk so on the whole a really productive yet also relaxing day - just what the holidays should be.

The flat looks a million times better, especially the kitchen - photos to follow.

Today it's up bright and early to head to the airport!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Holiday Update - the weekend

This weekend we enjoyed a much needed break and did almost nothing while settling Pete into his new pad.  The settling in went much smoother than expected.  He ate straight away and didn't have an upset tummy after the move - both of which the home warned us about.  In fact he's like the opposite - he eats non-stop!  Or would if we let him and he's sooo cute that it's hard to say no.  He even eats the house plants.

He's very playful but very friendly too and will curl up on the sofa with us on an evening.  He's such a clean cat too.  He gets gravel from the litter box everywhere and tries to clean it up himself.  He was even sick this morning and tried to clean that up himself. 

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Holiday Update - Friday

Friday was a looong day.  We wanted to do some DIY in the flat that we haven't gotten round to since we moved in but it took so long to get to the DIY shop and back that we had to move it to Monday.  The highlight of the day was the evening when we picked up our new little family member - Pete.

Here he is on his first night with us - as you can see, he settled in pretty quickly.  He stayed in our room the first night, which won't be happening again.  As soon as we dropped off, the room became his playground and neither of us got a good sleep.  We eventually found him on Saturday morning, nestled under the bed, right in the middle with our spare blankets.  It took us ages to coax him out.  Like pet like owner already, we managed it by bringing him food.  We then let him out of the bedroom only to lose him in the flat!  The flat is big but it's not that big - he had hidden under the sofa!  He's soo sweet and friendly when he's not being shy.  The perfect cat for us.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Holiday Update - Thursday

On Thursday we were up bright and early to head to the Universum science centre in Bremen with Nico's two young cousins.  I had never been to the museum before although Nico had been on a school trip.  It reminded me a lot of Eureka but purely science based.

The building itself looks like a giant oyster shell as you can see above.  I've often seen pictures but I hadn't even been to the area where it is.  It's quite near the university in the north of the city.

There were three sections - the Cosmos, the Earth and People.  We managed to fit in all three although the place was very busy with both families on school holidays and school groups from other parts of Germany.  Some things were a nice reminder from my own school days and some things were new for me too.  The boys really seemed to enjoy it.  They weren't really into reading the explanations for anything, but if it had a button, lever or handle, they were into it.  I would really recommend the place for any families with children.

There was also an outdoor play area with a tower which had great views.  We also spent some time in the shop where I bought us a new jigsaw which we will be starting later.

After the museum we headed back into town where we bought Trivial Pursuit!  I have been dying to buy this for ages and finally found it on special offer in Bremen.  I hadn't remembered quite how difficult the game is and how much that can be multiplied when the questions are both in German and often based on German contexts but we played for about an hour without winning any pieces before we finally quit.  I did get three questions right anyway though!  Very proud.  And very grateful that Nico is soooo patient!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Holiday Updates - Wednesday

On Wednesday we finally got around to having our day in town.  We finally registered our change of address with the council (a German legal requirement).  It's the fourth time I've done this and I'll never understand why you have to wait two hours to be seen for five minutes but maybe that's just me.  I tried to do my tax return too but found out I'm still missing some key paperwork so I have sent off for that.  Then we got Nico kitted out with some new clothes.  I think we have done quite well since that was our first clothes shopping trip since we have been together.  I'm very proud that as part of my money saving scheme, I haven't bought any new clothes for a year now!  In the evening, we looked into the possibility of getting a cat...

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Holiday Updates - Tuesday

Tuesday turned into hangover day.  We had planned to go into town and get things done but no, I had pushed the boat out too far celebrating on Monday evening and could barely move.  We spent the day catching up on our TV series and reading.  My achievement of the day was finishing the German novel I was reading.  It wasn't an amazing story or a classic but it was the first German novel I have read since university and took some getting into so I was proud of myself to finish it in ten days!  I'm now on the last English book I have on my shelves - The Prelude and that is proving equally if not more difficult to get into!

Holiday Updates - Monday

The first day of the holidays I spent all day working on my MA dissertation.  I've been putting it off for weeks and getting really stressed, especially as I paid most of my fees in one go when the car was sold and realised how expensive this was.  Anyway, Monday I finished my first draft completely (wrote the third third) and edited the first two thirds according to the advice of my tutor in our last three tutorials.  So I really felt like I achieved something!  It was really nice clicking on that send button and having an amazing evening to celebrate with Nico's amazing homemade gluten free lasagne, a bottle of rioja and Strictly Come Dancing!

Monday, 17 October 2011


A little help from Thomas Jefferson to get me started on finishing my MA dissertation.  Wish me luck!

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Saturday Update

More bad news this week so I am going to be making a much better effort to make soup for lunch this week (especially with the colder weather) and to start running again.

Apart from that it's been a good week.  A normal work week, more fun with my new evening class and coffee with my new Spanish friend Loreto on Friday afternoon.  I also picked up my tax return forms at long last and will be returning them next week once I get things filled in.  Let's hope something comes from it.

Now it is finally Autumn holidays - two weeks off.  Looking forward to some time to finish my MA, make some visits in Bremen and receive some guests here.  On Thursday we are taking Nico's young cousins to the Universum Museum in Bremen and the rest of the week will soon fill up.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Cherry Cola

I had another great adult class last night.  We ran over by 15 minutes because time ran away with us.  I also had one of those surreal teaching / language moments.

I have a new pupil who speaks English with a very strong accent.  I have to really concentrate to listen to her but she is so positive and bubbly, that makes it really easy to work with her.  After the lesson last night she was asking me about my accent (You can take the girl out of Yorkshire,...).  Here's how the conversation went:

Her: 'Do you know Cherry Cola?'
Me: 'Yes.'
Her: '...the popstar?'
Me: 'Oh, no, I don't then' (Thinking, pop star names are getting ridiculous)
Her: 'She's a judge on the X-factor and I can't understand her accent.'
Me: (Lightbulb moment) 'Oh you mean Cheryl Cole!  Yes, she's from Newcastle.'

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Wildlife Update

The late burst of lovely weather in September / October prolonged the summer a little bit for us here and brought with it some nice reminders of where we live.  As well as spotting hedgehogs and red squirrels recently we had a red woodpecker just like this one on our balcony last weekend!

I would have taken a photo but didn't want to move for fear of scaring it away.  It was amazing.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Christmas is Coming!

Yep, whether we like it or not, it's on it's way.  Ever since I worked at WHSmiths, I've hated how early all the hype starts but now that it means holidays every year and this year it means a visit home to England too, I get very excitable.  Add to that the magic of the German Christmas markets and it's all I can think about.  So what's made me think of this now?  Well I just heard that I'll be getting not two, but three visitors before our trip back to England for New Year's. 

Dad and my cousin Christina are coming out during the October/Autumn holidays and my friend Hayley is coming out in November on the new Ryanair Manchester-Bremen flight.  When she first emailed I thought she would be unlucky with the dates and the markets but when I looked it up, it turns out they start on 24th November this year - the day she arrives.  So excited.  Here's my current homepage which cheers me up every morning when I have to go out in the cold and dark to cycle to work: Schlachte Xmas Market

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Beate Uhse

On Sunday evening, we saw a film about Beate Uhse.  This name is probably one of the first things I learnt when I first visited Bremen six years ago.  You can hardly miss it - it's the name of a sex shop as soon as you walk out of the main station.  I've always considered it a little bit seedy - on the same plaza as the erotic cinema and a number of other places I wouldn't like to hang around on an evening but on Sunday I had my eyes opened and my prejudices removed when I learnt the story of this quite amazing woman.

She spent a year abroad in England to learn the language at the age of sixteen.  She earned her pilot's license at 18 and worked as a pilot during World War Two.  Her husband was killed in action in 1945, leaving her a widow with a four year old son.  After the war, she became aware of how little women were educated in matters of sexual health.  Her mother had been a doctor and so she knew more than other women of the time.  She worked hard to make women aware of the facts of life.  She responded to letters asking for information.  At first she did this personally but when she was receiving too many letters to reply to by hand, she bought a printing press and started producing information leaflets and later products.  She was arrested several times and even taken to court.  Many men did not want her advising their wives and later vice versa.  She persevered however, jeopardizing her second marriage along the way and her shops stem from this educational mission.  Quite an amazing woman.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

The Saturday Update

After the bank holiday on Monday to celebrate the reunification of Germany over twenty years ago, we have had a shorter week than usual this week.  I've also gotten back into cycling after my week off for the school trip and despite being very good this week on the diet (all weightwatchers meals, no alcohol, no snacks)... well, let's just say I'm buying some new scales having lost all faith in these ones.

I also started the first of my two English evening classes with the Volkhochschule.  The other starts in November.  It was actually good fun and quite invigorating being in a classroom with adults again but I am not looking forward to November with the colder, darker, later nights.  At least I have a nice day on Friday - here's hoping the doesn't change when the timetable does at half year.

I have also booked our flights home in the Christmas holidays.  This year we are spending Christmas with Nico's family so I will experience my first German Christmas!  We then fly to England on the 27th until the 3rd January.  Very excited - looking forward to catching up with everyone and meeting my new nephew for the first time!  I was also excited to learn that Ryanair have finally done the right thing and set up a flight from Bremen to Manchester so we don't have to find transport from London or Edinburgh to Leeds.

Next week is a full one but will be easier to get through knowing that it is the last one before the October/Autumn holidays.  Two weeks of relaxing and receiving visits from both our families.  I'll also be working on getting my MA dissertation somewhere near finished now that the deadline is looming ever nearer.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Evening Classes

Last night I was back in the Volkhochschule evening classes.  This time, however, I was on the other side of things - teaching English rather than learning French.

I used to teach adults Spanish in an evening class at my last school and I really enjoyed it.  It's a completely different experience to my normal work.  Firstly, the learners have chosen to be there and are very enthusiastic.  The down side is that the pressure is a bit higher since they are the ones paying for the course and one of my new students is even a teacher which makes me feel even more under scrutiny.  However, he first class went well and now that I know who I am teaching, I expect the next class to go even better.

Of course, I still love my day job.  I know there are bad days and times when pupil behaviour makes me wan to pack it all in but this morning felt great to be greeted by the pupils as I arrived in school, and then have a chat and nice calm lesson with year ten.  Maybe i's just because it's Friday and we had a shorter week but days like this, I'm glad to be a teacher.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


My beautiful anniversary present from my wonderful man.

Monday, 3 October 2011

One Year Later

Today, Nico and I have been together exactly a year.  It's been the best year ever and we're lucky enough to have gotten together on one of those rare German bank holidays so we have a nice long weekend to celebrate.  On Saturday we recreated the pizza night that brought us together, yesterday we went out for dinner at the restaurant where we had our first date and  today we are spending a nice relaxing day together.  I still find it hard to believe that one chance comment in the staffroom led me to the love of my life but I am the luckiest girl in the world that it did.  Here's to many more years!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

May the Force be with you!

Here's what happened to one of our knives on Friday night during our cheese and biscuit session!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Saturday Update

It has been another busy week but this time of an unusual kind.  Last weekend was a quiet one, concentrating on my MA dissertation and preparing for the class trip.  Then there was the trip in itself Monday until Thursday.  It was great fun although tiring too.

Generally, I ate better than usual on the trip with less alcohol and snacking but the lack of cycling seems to have taken its toll with two pounds on.  With the bank holiday on Monday, we have to plan a little bit more this week anyway and I am hoping that that along with being back at normal work will help reverse the effects of this week.

Apart from the trip, which I have already blogged about, the dissertation is coming along nicely and that is about the extent of my progress this week.  However, we are now enjoying a nice long bank holiday weekend which happens to coincide with our anniversary so we will be doing something nice to celebrate that and I am starting teaching my adult evening classes this week so that will be new and interesting too.