Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Saturday Update

It's been something of a crazy week again this week.  First of all I had to edit my dissertation and submit it for printing and binding online which took two evenings, a lot of wine and another hit on the card.  Can you believe that had I wanted the copies sending to me rather than to my tutor directly, it would have cost £110 for postage!!  That's several times what it costs for the binding!  Anyway that is done now so just my certificate to wait for before we pop the champagne!

Work is getting a little tedious at the moment.  It's an incredibly long year this year and most of my classes are at the end of units where I really don't want to start a new one for the sake of two weeks.  (The last week is project week.)  It's led to several DVDs with worksheets and taking the kids outdoors to work...just two more weeks to fill.  Next week is oral exams for year ten which at least means no lessons on Monday for the other classes and possible chaos on Tuesday as some classes are there and some not...  We will see how that all goes.

I had a lovely coffee with my Russian friend on Tuesday and lunch with Loreto and a new Spanish friend on Friday so that's been lovely.  Discussing Spanish grammar while sunning ourselves on the roof of the restaurant was fun!  Getting caught in the downpour on the way home wasn't!  Neither was the hayfever which was fine up until Friday.  I'm trying to decide whether the weather or the cycling through green areas is having more of an affect since I was fine for the rest of the week.

I've stayed the same this week which is not a surprise.  I really need to get my backside into gear for the new month.  I'm trying to give myself a new goal each week.  This week I went without fizzy drinks, next week I'm also cutting the alcohol to give my body a break and making sure I take my makeup off every night!  

I finally finished my German book - Neue Vahr Sud.  Very pleased with myself for getting through that.  It wasn't a difficult read, just long but the story was good so it was easier to read.  Now I'm into part two of the Hunger Games.  We both want to read the whole trilogy so we can go see the film.

Friday, 29 June 2012


with my best friend Hayley and my sister Briony
Browsing through the blogs this week, Shannon over at Awash with Wonder really hit the nail on the head for me with this post.  A couple of weeks ago I posted about missing my friend Loreto who I hadn't seen for a couple of weeks and how I felt I was lacking a certain social contact.  I need to be more careful in what I say as Nico got a little worried about me.  It's not that I was down or depressed or that he wasn't enough for me - I mean he's amazing and puts up with me 24/7!  It was just that I need a little girly contact and having girl friends is a huge part of (I think) any girl's life.  

with my school friends
My girlfriends are some of the best in the world and have been with me through thick and thin and as much as I try to keep things on the level with Skype calls and gift packages, I really miss my English girlfriends.  This is one reason why my friends here are so important to me, because after a year with very little girl time, I now have someone to drink coffee loudly with, to swap clothes/books/DVDs with and someone who doesn't mind traipsing round a million shops with me and ending up back in the first one.   Let's face it, most boyfriends must be relieved we have girlfriends to do that with as it gets them out of a lot!  

with my Spanish bestie
As Shannon also points out, the best thing about girlfriends is that you can have a whole gang of them so they don't have to be perfect at everything like your boyfriend does.  I have my go to friends for advice, cheering up, fashion advice, cinema trips, the list is endless.  Another of the great things about friends is that you can always find new ones too.  I have 'collected' several groups of friends over time - the school friends, university friends, college friends, work friends...  The best thing is when I go home now and have to get different groups together for catch ups, seeing how they get on with each other and form new friendships also makes me happy.

with the Erasmus girls
Of course it makes me sad to lose friends sometimes or to lose touch with them but I do believe in fate and here's a poem that really resonates with me:

Reason, Season, or Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

— Unknown

I'm raising a glass to all my girlfriends this weekend - past, present and future, wherever they are right now.

Thursday, 28 June 2012


As I mentioned at the weekend, last week I received confirmation of my dissertation marks meaning that I passed my MA!  It made me think about the whole process and what a long journey the last five years have been.

An MA was never really on my life plan.  It was while I was studying for my PGCE in Leeds that we were told that it was going to become compulsory to do an MA as part of the PGCE to bring England into line with the rest of Europe.  As the first two modules would be included in our PGCEs at no extra cost, it seemed the sensible thing to do.  Of course, it's turned out to be very handy given that I now live in Europe!  

Apart from that, the whole experience was a lot more rewarding than I expected on a professional level as it really made me think about different aspects of my teaching at different stages in my career.  I took modules in language learning, behaviour management and cooperative learning.  The dissertation was definitely the most challenging aspect and the part where I considered stopping and just taking the diploma in education, I'm glad I persevered though.

In fact, that wasn't the only stopping point for me.  The first module was taught through lectures at 9am on a Monday morning - I'll admit I slept through several of those - which would explain why I initially failed the exam.  I could have given up there and then but instead, I learnt the material again without lectures, while working full time and went back and took the exam a year later and passed.  I'm one of the first to give up on some things at the first sign of trouble but the MA really showed me that when I do persevere, I can do it.

I see the completion of the MA as the completion of my education in a way, there's certainly no way I'll be going to the next level of PHD.  On the other hand, it looks like I'll be doing a German course next year.  In a way, learning and education is going to be life long for me - it has to be in my line of work - and it's something I'm looking forward to - nothing can be more difficult than the Masters!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


The finished product

Button Detail
I know I already posted about this project but I wanted to show you all how it finished up.  It took four of us to sort through the massive selection of buttons in town to find something gender neutral and small enough but we did it.  I remember the first time I was in that button section, wishing I had something to buy buttons for and now I do!  I can't wait to hear what Hayley thinks of them and see baby B in them.  I'd love to do another colourful pair when we know whether to do pink or blue...

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Anne Frank

Anne Frank's Diary
On Saturday I headed to Neue Vahr Nord to see the Anne Frank exhibition that is on there at the moment.  Entry is free and it was really interesting.  My friend invited me because she knows I am going to Amsterdam in August and hoping to visit the Anne Frank House.  It was a great preparation exhibition in that it wasn't amazing but it had lots of information and excitingly a complete copy of the diary.  It was very moving too with lots of quotes from her friends and family as well as from Anne herself.  It's amazing what a forward thinking and bright young woman she was, it certainly makes you wonder how things might have been.

The day falls in to the same category as the one on which I visited Auschwitz during a trip to Poland.  It's something that is incredibly interesting, important and impossible to miss for someone who studied German history but at the same time, can't be described as an enjoyable experience.  It was certainly though provoking and the exhibition here in Bremen would be great for some of the kids at school, though I think the older ones would appreciate it the most.

Monday, 25 June 2012


Here is the second interview in our moving abroad series.  This week Rebekah is telling us how she has found her year abroad.  Thanks for sharing Rebekah!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Rebekah, I’m 27 and I am English. I graduated as primary school teacher last summer and have spent the last year living and teaching in Paris.

Which countries did you move from and to and why?

I moved from England to France. In my degree studies, I specialised in MFL teaching and thought spending a year abroad would provide invaluable experiences and resources for my future teaching career.

I also just really wanted to experience life in another country!

What kind of expectations did you have before you moved?

I moved to Paris without knowing a single person, so my expectation was that it was going to be tough at first – particularly as a lot of the English have a huge stereotype of the French as rude and stand-offish (and I was moving to Paris; the capital of this preconception!).

Did your new country live up to these expectations?

Definitely not, I found almost all of the people I met to be very friendly and welcoming.

I think that the misconception is partly due to people not trying to learn/speak the language of the country that they are going to. I’ve overheard so many English/American people whilst I’ve been here who have been cross that some shop assistants/waiters hasn’t been able to speak any English! Almost all of the French people I have met whilst I’ve been here have been very interested in my language learning and they’ve been really willing to help me along (sometimes a bit too’s a bit embarrassing/disheartening when even the six year olds are correcting your grammar!).

What was the best thing about moving?

The best thing about moving was the challenge - the opportunity to force myself to be out of my ‘comfort zone’ and really push myself to speak and learn as much of the language as possible.

What was the worst thing?

Two months before I moved to Paris, I moved in with my long-term boyfriend, Dave, and so leaving my home and my newly-built life behind was definitely the worst thing.

That having been said, in the end it has definitely become one of the hidden benefits – as a couple we have grown closer than either of us could have ever imagined. So I guess my worst thing has become one of the most positive outcomes!

What has been your favourite experience since you moved?

Oh my goodness! Where to start! In terms of school experiences, I think the constantly hearing echoes of “Rebekah, Rebekah! Hello, how are you?” from my primary school children as I walk through the playground or around the school is definitely a favourite experience.

In terms of being in Paris in general, I think simply the opportunity to get to know such an amazing city. There’s always something going on here, something to do, something to see, somewhere to visit. I’ve been incredibly lucky to spend so much time here.

What steps have you taken to accustom yourself to your new country?

Learning the language! Definitely the major step I made to accustom myself. I arrived with bits of classroom French, quite a lot of travel French and some shaky conversational French – but you can’t really make friends and get to know people until you know enough language to hold up your end of a conversation/give your opinion on something.

What tips would you give someone else thinking of moving abroad / to your country?

My first is one of those predictable pieces of advice that are just so easy to disregard – but just don’t say no to ANYTHING when you first arrive. Even if you don’t think you’ll enjoy it. It’s surprising just how many experiences you would have quickly dismissed, through nervousness or otherwise, that actually end up being life-changing.

My second is definitely to try and stay positive. It’s not going to be easy 100% of the time, it’s not going to fun 100% of the time and (as Jenny has mentioned in her previous post) it can be lonely, even in Paris! But “c’est la vie” as they say and each experience, positive or negative, helps us to develop who we are. It’s easy to look at other people and think “well she/he are just finding it so easy” – but ask yourself honestly, when you’re finding it difficult, do you have a breakdown in public? Or do you put on a smile and wait until you’re home? So who’s to say that the person you are putting on the pedestal isn’t having lonely/disheartened moments in the privacy of their own home?

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I think I’d just like to say that if anyone is ever in two minds about making the leap and moving to another country, for however long or short a time, just do it! We only truly regret the things we didn’t do after all.

I’d also like to thank Jenny – her blog is so open, honest and thought-provoking. I stumbled across it after I’d been here about a month, and was feeling really homesick. It made me realise that there have been other people in the same boat and that the positives really do outweigh any negatives!

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

52 Weeks of Grateful - Week 4

42.  Amazingly supportive colleagues who cheer me up no end on bad days.
43.  Our new tomato greenhouse!
44.  A lovely coffee with my English student Rita at Starbucks.
45.  That all three of my teams are through to the quarter finals of the European Cup.
46.  My aforementioned student Rita giving me the inspiration I needed to cycle to work and back on Friday.
47. A lovely lunch with the girls on Friday.
48. That my MA is finally confirmed and in the bag.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Saturday Update

It's been another busy one this week though somewhat less stressful than the week before.  We had a nice quiet weekend, which I spent mostly catching up on my reading and my cross stitch project.  

It was another full week at work with the issues there slowly resolving themselves.  We had a meeting with my year nines and their class teachers and if nobody owns up by Monday, class trips will be cancelled.  They also wrote their exam this week in which the usual culprits skyved off and those who are good wrote the test so it was more of a pleasure to mark.  My boss has also been onto the council and it looks like things are improving there - I'll be satisfied when the contract is signed but he told me not to worry.

I've had coffee with two friends, cycled to work one day and had a fun but purse damaging shopping trip on Friday afternoon.  It was great to finally catch up with Loreto and also to see some of our other friends there for lunch.  We had a surreal trip to the Nepalese clothes shop where of course Loreto is on first name terms with the owners who served us up some green tea.  I was sorely tempted to lift the clothes ban and get some summery, comfy new things but I resisted.

I did treat myself to a new Pandora charm but I think I earned it given that I had confirmation that I have passed my Masters!!  I still can't quite believe it.  Photos will follow, along with champagne when I have the certificate in my hand but there's a little thing called proofing and binding to come before that.

This morning I am heading to an Anne Frank exhibition with my Russian friend Taisiya which should be interesting.  Then there's a project to finish and that proofing to do so it's going to be a busy one.  Having stayed the same this week I'm going to be making a good healthy no snack plan for the weekend and squeezing some Zumba in at some point.  Hope you have a great week too.

Friday, 22 June 2012

European Cup

For the last week or so, my time on an evening has mainly been spent hitting the update button on this German football website in order to stay on top of the situation in the European Cup and so far it has paid off with all three of my teams getting through.

I was brought up with rugby and still prefer to sit through eighty minutes of rugby than ninety minutes of football with the exception of when Barcelona hit the pitch.  It wasn't until my year abroad when I lived in that amazing city that I really 'got' football.  Part of it was the social side - hitting a sports bar with the Erasmus crowd and washing down a plate of tapas with a bottle of Estrella Damm, part of it was the fact that FC Barcelona invented the exciting football game.  It was also the year of the world cup which was extra exciting as we all had our little mini country groups within Erasmus and also adopted each others' teams when our own was knocked out.  The Italians were the biggest group there and the happiest on that night!!  

Of course Barcelona aren't in the European Cup, but Spain are and I still find them the most exciting team so this weekend will be especially exciting with all of my teams in the quarter finals and not against each other so I don't have to choose yet!  I may have to find some Estrella Damm here in Bremen and dig out the tapas recipes to relive some good times.  I hope you enjoy the football wherever you may be and whoever you are cheering for.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Latest Cross Stich

When I first moved to Bremen, I went a little crazy with the cross stitch projects.  I had stocked up a few years before in the Lakes and never gotten around to doing them.  Unfortunately there is too much of a good thing and I was a little put off for a while.  It was only when I got into knitting and was talking to my Mum about different craft projects that I was inspired to look for a classic to get my enthusiasm going again.  Having done a few Beatrix Potter characters, I decided to go for the holy grail and do Peter Rabbit.  Here he is...

I love it!  I think he looks great and he fits really well with Benjamin Bunny that I did last year:

That's it for another little while though.  I'm looking at a new knitting project in the meantime, more on that later.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


If you read regularly you will know about both my love of travel and my list of 28 things to achieve before my next birthday which includes to visit another capital city.  When it comes to holidays, I'm not the kind of girl who can spend the whole time laid in the sun, even with a good book.  That's great for a day or two but I love exploring and sightseeing and generally being almost as tired after the holiday as I was before, I feel refreshed just by being somewhere new.

This is why I am so glad to have our next holiday booked.  We decided to combine this Summer's trip back to England with four nights in Amsterdam!  I have never been to the city but it's obviously pretty close for us.  I have visited Groeningen and travelled through the Netherlands but I am really looking forward to getting to know the capital a little better.  By the accounts that I have read so far it should be different to many capitals in that it's not huge and sprawling and it's way more liberal.

High on my to do list there are the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House.  I am also looking forward to relaxing with some nice food and drink and gazing at the canals a la Rachael of Let's Be Adventurers fame.

Any other tips while I'm there?

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

28 things...Make my own jam!

Last weekend, I got around to what may be my favourite thing on the 28 things list so far - making jam.  We've been making lots of things for ourselves over the past year or so.  Or, if I'm honest Nico has been making things for us, everything from soya milk to toothpaste and I love it.  I wanted a little project of my own now though and we seem to get through quite a bit of jam so it fit perfectly.

I used this recipe and left it in American mode so that I could finally use the measuring cups Mum bought us at Easter.  Here's how it went:

I couldn't get the temperature up to 105 as the recipe said so I stopped at 95.

Delicious.  This may me one that I'll keep up, especially as I would like to try some different fruits and flavours too.

Update: the jam did not set as I hadn't used pectin.  Nico redid it for me with Agar agar and now it's delicious.

Monday, 18 June 2012


A while ago now, I received some feedback from an old school friend who has found my blog through facebook and found it helped her to settle in to her year abroad in Paris and get through the homesickness (yes, even in Paris, you can get homesick).  I've been thinking a lot about her message and I thought maybe she wasn't the only one, and even if she is, here's a way I can hopefully help even more, by roping my friends into some interviews talking about how they have adapted to moving to a new country.  Here is the first in (I hope) a series of interviews talking about actual experiences of moving abroad and some advice on how you can do it too.

This interview is with my good friend Loreto who has a lot of experience in living abroad and a wonderful outlook on life, indeed, she has helped me through my migration process.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Loreto, I am Spanish, I lived in England for nine years where I taught Spanish. Now I am living near Bremen, in Germany.

Which countries did you move from and to and why? 

I moved from England to Germany following my husband, he is also a teacher.

What kind of expectations did you have before you moved? 

I thought that it would be easier to get a job but the language is a barrier and I need to learn it well before I find a job.

Did your new country live up to these expectations? 

No, I found easier to adapt to England when I moved there. People were friendlier and more welcoming.

What was the best thing about moving? 

The challenge of a new culture and new friends.

What was the worst thing? 

Leaving behind my friends, my permanent job…

What has been your favourite experience since you moved? 

I have met very good people and I have fantastic friends. Also I love the village where we live.

What steps have you taken to accustom yourself to your new country? 

Learn the language and try to find a job. Also I have tried to make German friends.

What tips would you give someone else thinking of moving abroad / to your country? 

To come with an open mind and try to look to the positive side of things. Moving abroad is a very rewarding experience from which you learn a lot. Try to learn the bases of the language before you move to the country and get familiarized with the place before you move permanently.

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

Yes, I have to thank my English friend Jenny because she has been a great support to me. Thanks to her I have not felt so lonely, at first you can feel quite isolated from the world but we have been meeting every week for coffees and a nice chat and that has meant the world to me!

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!

Not at all, my pleasure!

Well now I am blushing!  I guess one piece of advice to take away from this is how important those social connections are.  I was here a year before I met Loreto and the second year has been much easier than the first.  I was lucky enough to meet her by coincidence.  You really have to put yourself out there in order to meet new people and make connections in a new city but it is soooo worth it in the long run!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

52 Weeks of Grateful - Week 3

32. The Hunger Games - I got through the first book in three days.  I was desperate to start the second but decided to delay the pleasure (I am running low on English books and there is a book ban in place people) by reading a looong German book.
33. Finally starting to sort the office out.I've been putting this off way too long but now that I have started it's easier to do a little every day.
34. That my Year 8s got back from London relatively unscathed.  I am extremely upset that one 'host' told the muslim kids staying with him that they should embrace English culture by eating pork... but that is a whole other story and I guess it's a good lesson for them that every country has less than kind people staying there.
35. The postcard from my lovely Russian friend who was in Paris and Versailles last week.
36. A lift home from a colleague.
37. That nobody was injured when a year nine threw a firework into my classroom this week.  (another long story)
38.  That my wonderful boyfriend knows just what to do when I arrive home in tears because of the aforementioned year nine and that he does all the shopping and cooking for me.
39. Post from England!!  (Thanks Dad)...including my Buddhist book which I really needed this week...
40.  A lovely family BBQ with Nico's family for his Grandads birthday and that the weather held out.  Sometimes it does make me feel more homesick but I love that we have some family relatively close by and I love how close and welcoming they are.
41.  My orchid blooming again!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Saturday Update

Although it wasn't planned that way, it's been a bit of a crazy one this week.  We had a lovely weekend after the last update - quite a productive Saturday and then Sunday in the country for Nico's Grandad's birthday barbecue.  The weather held out just long enough and it was great to see everyone and get some fresh air.

Then it was back to work...and although there wasn't a lot going on there this week it's been a bit much.  I've had fireworks (literally) and fights in my classroom this week and it's really wound me up.  On top of that I opened my emails on Friday evening to find one from the council saying there may not be a job for me next year after all....  Cue wine, nibbles, ranting and a lot of stress...  I'm getting to the end of my wit with the job situation, the mixed messages and the amount of money it has cost me are a lot to take on but a chat with Nico and a bit of perspective have taken some of the sting out of it.  Whatever happens, we will sort it out.  Maybe my stress levels could do with a change of career after this week at school!  What will be, will be and the sooner I find out the better, in the meantime, I just need to take some deep breaths and count to ten a lot.

The whole situation did nothing for my other goals, I have put on two pounds and the credit card took a bit of a bashing when we booked our holiday to Amsterdam and England this summer, but I'm not regretting the last one since it gives me something positive to look forward to, especially as we will be home for my nephew and Mum's birthdays and hopefully to meet my friends baby who is due two weeks before... let's see!  And I know the stress is no excuse for eating and drinking so much, I'm starting this week with a new attitude and motivation, including getting back into Zumba after three lazy weeks.

Next week should be straight forward!  Let's hope.  Thursday will be a big day but more on that then.  I'm also hoping to catch up with my friend Loreto here in Bremen this week as I haven't seen her for ages now!  More from her on Monday!  Have a good one!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Blog Gift Swap

I love this idea from Meg over at Life of Meg.  It's such a lovely idea and a way to connect with other bloggers.  Check it out for yourself, but hurry! ends on Wednesday.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Latest Knitting Project

When my Mum came to visit she brought me a mountain of knitting materials: needles, wool, patterns...  (thank you Mum!)  I had a browse and after getting over how difficult and professional it all looked, picked out this little project to get me started.  It took about a week in total and I still need to get hold of some little buttons to complete it, but I am pleased as punch with the results.  

During this project I learned to use a new stitch, to increase the number of stitches on a row, to separate pieces and to sew pieces together.  It wasn't all easy - I actually managed to knit two left shoes (oops) before I got it right but you can see the result above.  

My best friend is expecting in August so these will be winging their way to her soon but as she doesn't yet know if she's having a boy or a girl, I kept the pattern gender neutral with white.  I plan to stick to the original pattern and knit some lovely colourful stripes into a new pair when we know more!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The German Dentist

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have had a love / hate relationship with my dentist for as long as I have been going to the dentist.  Having had chickenpox damage the enamel on my teeth at a young age, trips to the dentist became torture for me, even though I knew it was all for the best.  I know try and avoid the dentist at all costs by flossing and using an electric toothbrush.  In fact it's been eighteen months since my last visit.  I'm normally very good at keeping up with checkups but both the move and my resentment at paying £16.50 for the dentist to tell me to come back in six months have led to a long break.

Having found a new optician the other week, I decided to roll with it and update my other medical checks too, hence a visit to a new dentist on Friday.  I expected the experience to be doubly scary, doing it all in a second language but I was very pleasantly surprised.  I managed to fill out the forms and speak to the dentist with no language problems and I got the all clear to come back in six months.  The best part though - it was completely free!!  Normally in Germany, you pay 10 Euros for your first doctor appointment of the quarter plus whatever treatment you need but apparently dentists are different, and contrary to the British system, they are different in a way that saves our purses and makes me more inclined to keep up to those six month check ups! 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Alchemist

This is a book that has been vaguely hanging around on my must-get-round-to reading list for quite a while now and when it happened to come up in conversation with my English group, my Russian student offered to lend me it.  I'm always very wary when I borrow things and don't like to take too long about it but I needn't have worried, I polished this little gem off in one day!

The book tells the story of a Spanish shepherd boy from Andalusia who sets out on a long journey to discover his destiny.  At first I was a little worried about the amount of religion involved.  I've mentioned before that I like to try to follow Buddhist principles.  I have the utmost respect for all religions but I don't like being told what to believe and I don't like to much of a religious focus in books unless it is essential to the story.  However, the more I read, the more I realised it wasn't really about religion but life itself and most religions are encompassed in there in some form.

The story really made me reflect on many things and I may even buy my own copy to flick through again later.  I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it yet, and I'd even recommend a re-read for those who have as it seems to be the kind of book that you can take a lot away from and that could develop over time.

Monday, 11 June 2012


Pete is in heaven lately, not only does he have a whole balcony to explore, getting one step closer to those birdies and now he can also drive one of his owners mad while she is trying to improve on her new hobby.  The creepy thing last week was seeing him swallow a long thread of wool whole! 

Sunday, 10 June 2012

52 Weeks of Grateful - Week 2

Things I've been grateful for this week...

16. Coming home to beautiful flowers and ready made lunch from Nico on Monday
17. A useful Olympic Games related teaching resource from a colleague
18. A nice coffee with my Russian friend leading to the possibility of starting up a language exchange evening.
19. Having Wednesday afternoon off, meaning I had time for an at home facial.
20. Knowing that my application for a new contract is getting somewhere (even if it is painstakingly slow going!)
21. A lovely Wednesday afternoon off with my other half.
22. A supportive boss during challenging times at work.
23. A lovely surprise balcony dinner with Nico.
24. A free and uneventful trip to the dentist.
25. Friday off work and how productive and yet relaxing it was!
26. A Skype catch up with my best friend.
27. Finishing the latest knitting project.
28. Nothing being seriously wrong with Pete at the vet.
29. Getting some rhyme and reason to my part of the office.
30. Not having gained this week.
31. Ticking another thing off my list by making jam.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Saturday Update

What a week!  I don't know where it has gone but it's been a great one.  We had an amazingly productive Saturday last week in which I sorted out all my clothes and stored them away, Nico planted lots of veg on the front balcony and we put the cat net up on the back balcony.  Pete is certainly loving that last bit and has been making the most of any opportunity to get out there all week.  It can no longer be said that we aren't using the space we have to its full potential.

On Sunday we had more of a relaxing day before we were back at work on Monday.  It was hectic at work for both of us as Nico was invigilating exams again.  For me it was a different kind of stress with four of my seven classes on school trips which meant lots of cover lessons for me, which went better than expected except for one when I had to call the head in.  The worst thing about cover lessons for me is not knowing the names of all the pupils.  It also doesn't help that the older ones aren't as impressed if I just speak English to them all the time -  a trick that cows the little ones into silence for most of the lesson.

Apart from that I had my English coffee time on Tuesday this week.  There were only two of us but the owner of the cafe talked to us about maybe organising a real languages exchange once a week there so I'm hoping that might take off.  It would be great to get a bit of French and Spanish practice in.

On Wednesday I had a meeting at the council about my contract which was positive as they can give me the recognition papers I need for the contract but has led to more waiting as to whether I need it for one or two subjects.  At the moment they can only recognise my Spanish qualifications as I teach English but aren't technically qualified to and I am qualified to teach German but as a foreign language, which I can't teach here.  It's such a pain at times but hopefully I will get a more concrete answer soon.

On Thursday I came home to a lovely surprise dinner date on our balcony!  The weather was beautiful so we had delicious home made gluten free pizza and wine and talked, which was really lovely.  Of course Pete had to be out there too and actually sat on our laps way more than he ever does indoors.  It was great to be away from the screens for once.

Friday was my day off to do year ten marking.  It was an amazingly productive day.  I had my first German dentist appointment (more on that this week), I got all the cleaning and washing done, did the food shopping, Skyped with Hayley, finished the bootees for her baby (more on that this week too!), sorted out some more of the things Mum brought over, took Pete to the vet and started organising my space in the office a bit better - I'm hoping to finish that today.

I stayed the same this week, which after the wine consumption and not being able to track everything, I am quite pleased about.  Need to up the ante a bit next week and get more exercise done I think.

Next week will be back to normal at work.  Loreto will be back from her trip to Manchester.  Tomorrow we are heading to Nico's family for his grandfather's birthday - I hope this weather holds!  Also on the list for today is getting our Summer holiday booked!  I need something to get me through another six weeks of school...

Friday, 8 June 2012

Diet inspiration

Just what I needed this month - a little inspiration on the old diet.  What better than the sight of all my clothes - most of which were bought last time I was at goal weight and no longer fit.  After spending a whole afternoon finding space for them all in the flat, I need to justify not chucking out everything that didn't fit.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Veggie Bake

As one of our new recipes for June, we tried out this veggie bake on Sunday and really loved it.


250g tomatoes
250g mushrooms
2 courgettes
Half a tin of sweetcorn
100g gouda
Fresh Parsley (from our balcony!!)
Cream cheese with herbs (as a side)

Slice all of the vegetables and arrange in an oven dish.  Cover with the oil, herbs and cheese.  Bake for about 35 minutes.  Serve with the parsley on top and the cream cheese as a side.

Delicious!!  Will definitely be doing this again.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Cocktail Hour

Check out the palm tree in the back
Following on from our delicious mojitos a la Nico the other week, I got a taster of the delicious orangacolada a la Nico this week.  Nico has been stocking up on coconut lately and not just using it in cooking.  This was delicious.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Balcony Love!

On our productive Saturday we finally got the balcony net fixed up so Pete can explore while we sit out in the sun.  Of course the sun has now disappeared but we're really pleased with how it looks and are just waiting for it to come back now!  Pete loves it - he's so cute!

And check out Nico's great work planting veggies on the front balcony too.

Monday, 4 June 2012

52 Weeks of Grateful

I recently discovered this project through a favourite blog of mine - A Cat-Like Curiosity and decided that I'm going to take part.  As part of my attempt to lead a more Buddhist life, I have been taking the time to consciously think of the things that I am grateful for at the end of each day and this seems a really good way to make that more official!  I'm going to do this on a Sunday normally but so many things happened last week that I am grateful for that I felt it would make a better start.

Things I am grateful for this week:

1. Nico
2. Mum and Doug driving over to visit
3. Mum and Doug bringing a car full of my belongings from England - some of which I have had for a long time and have missed more than I knew.
4. My friend Loreto taking us to Fischerhude - a real German countryside gem - for the afternoon.
5. A short work week.
6. My friend Loreto being my friend.
7. My lovely pupils - year eight getting all engaged and excited as they are heading off to London this week and year ten being a pleasure to teach now that the exam is done.
8. My Dad calling to check in even though it's month end and a busy time at work for him.
9. Having an amazingly productive Saturday including fitting the balcony net so that we can sit out with Pete when the weather brightens up.
10. Losing two pounds.
11. My Mum teaching me some new knitting skills.
12. Finishing the latest Game of Thrones book.
13. Finding space for all the things Mum and Doug brought over from England.
14. Finding a nice present to send my Gran.
15. Having positive feedback and a new meeting about my new contract (fingers crossed!) which also led to a lovely reference from my old boss.

I know there are some more that I have forgotten already but I will be making more of an effort to note these down from now on.

What are you grateful for this week?

Sunday, 3 June 2012


As I mentioned yesterday, this week we went to Fischerhude with my good friend Loreto.  Loreto often visits this village and had talked about it a lot but because it is really only accessible by car, I hadn't managed to get there until now.  I think it is fair to say that we were all blown away by it.  I now see why she takes all of her visitors there!  First we wandered around the village and then we headed to a little coffee and cake shop which even did three different gluten free cakes!!  I think it's safe to say that it is good for the diet (and the purse) that Fischerhude can only be reached by car!

Nico and me
Mum and Doug

Me and Loreto

This dog looked just like Loreto's!
Beautiful Scenery

An escaped goat

Loreto reliving when Spain won the world cup
Chatting in the coffee and cake shop


Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Saturday Update

It's a been a great week on many fronts this week.  First of all we had a visit from my Mum and Doug.  They stayed Sunday to Thursday and we showed them the sights of Huchting and around (they have been to Bremen before).  We had glorious weather at the start of the week too which made it even nicer.

They brought a lot of my things from England - mainly DVDs and clothes.  The DVDs went straight into our lovely DVD shelves that we bought in January but the clothes will take a bit more time.  They're my inspiration for getting back to goal since there are too many nice ones I can no longer fit into.  It seems to be working already as despite all the eating out and drinking this week, I lost two pounds!  

On Monday we had a quiet day, wandering round the park in Huchting, unpacking and visiting the Mongolian buffet for dinner.  Afterwards, we cracked out the board games, introduced Nico to scrabble, Mum and Doug to Dixit and then had a round of Carcasonne.  Lovely evening.

On Tuesday we headed first to the Baumarkt (German equivalent of B&Q) to buy supplies for finally putting a cat net on the balcony so we can sit out more - another project in the pipeline...  Afterwards, we met up with Loreto and headed out to Fischerhude.  It was my first trip there and we all totally loved it but more on that later.

It was back to work on Wednesday for me and Nico and the nice weather started to disappear.  At least it was a shorter working week that was mainly about returning grades and preparing year eight for London next week.  After work we had a nice, late lunch in Bremen and then headed home for the evening.

Thursday was the last day so we headed into Bremen to meet Loreto and Ed at a Thai restaurant for an early dinner followed by coffees at Cafe Bar Celona and then an early night as they set of back at 2am.

On Friday I had my usual short day at work before getting all my jobs done around the flat.  Today I've got more to do, including those clothes and heading to the Roland Center so we are going to be relaxing tomorrow.

In amongst all this, I completed my last knitting project of a mobile phone holder, took some lessons from Mum who kindly brought me tons of needles, wool and books, and started a new project which is going well so far (touch wood).

Next week should be pretty smooth with four of my seven classes away on trips, I will probably have lots of cover but at least there'll be less planning and marking!  I also have my English conversation group, an appointment at the council about my contract and a day and a half off for marking which is already in the bag!  Have a good one people.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Photo Walk, theme - Round

After reading this post from Elise Blaha, I decided to try a little photo walk of my own while we were out and about in Huchting on Monday and here are the results: