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!