Tuesday, 27 September 2005

"It's definitely not finished Mum"

That was Cameron's reaction to looking at the current quilt I am working on. He is right, though I don't need reminding!
This is a quilt I started at last year's Kaye England seminar in November. I got the centre piece and the next 2 rows completed at the seminar. Once it was all together I decided I wanted to add an extra row around the whole thing. This got popped away for another day, while I started a new project at the seminar. After talking to Kelly,who is waiting patiently (not) for her baby to make an appearance at any moment, I thought I would tackle this one.....Mmm...sounded like a good thing to do this morning. 168 small , 12 medium and 16 large triangles later, I have decided one extra row will be enough for this quilt! I will get the rows together tomorrow. Cameron is busting to work on his first quilt, so we better get going on that one! We will try and get all the fabric cut out this afternoon before Alexander comes home from school

Sunday, 25 September 2005

Zigzag Quilt

Here is the latest finished quilt. I started this one a few weeks ago and then got held up looking after Alexander with the chicken pox. It is a cot size quilt, for a friend that has had a baby boy. I thought I better finish it today, while I had Phil home. Otherwise it would be another week before it was finished. I begin another week of chicken pox with Cameron! He is looking forward to starting his first quilt as well!

Cameron has chicken pox.

14 days after Alexander's first spots appeared, Cameron has his first 3 spots! He was excited that he could spend the whole week at home with me. But when I told him it also meant not going to the zoo today and seeing his friend Bradley, he was really upset and decided chicken pox wasn't very fun at all! We probably infected heaps of kids yesterday at a birthday party for school. We happended to be at Berlin's largest Indoor Play Centre! OPPS!

Sunday, 18 September 2005

Back to Berlin

After a long day of walking, it was back on the train to Berlin. Again an ICE train, and we were back in Berlin in no time at all! A quick train ride to our closest station, 5 minute walk, and the boys were in bed fairly soon after a pizza for dinner! A great weekend....we will have to do it again!

another Hamburg man

Here is an example of another Hamburg Man. You can get the idea of what they are like! I won't put all of them up!

Hamburg Men

In Berlin, there are many sculptures of large Bears, painted by different artists, children's groups etc, all used to raise money for children charities. In Hamburg, there are these men. I still do not know the meaning behind the men (when I find out I will let you know). In Berlin, I have taken photos of the boys in front of all the bears that we see. So, in Hamburg I decided to take photos of the boys in front of as many Hamburg men that we passed. I think we got about 35 in total. By the 10th, the novelty had worn off, and it was a struggle to get them to stand there for more than 1/2 minute! You have to be quick with the camera! Here is one with many flags on it. We found the Aussie one on the shoulder!

Hamburg Botanical Gardens

There are lovely gardens in Hamburg. We walked through a lot of them today. In some areas there are big deck chairs that are scattered over the graasy areas, for anyone to come and sit down, read a newspaper and enjoy the sun. A very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Lots of lovely gardens, water features, and even a rink for rollerblading in the summer, and ice skating in the winter months.

Ferry Ride in Hamburg

What an amazing harbor! So much happening, even on the weekend! There were some really large ships docked in the bays and lots of containers being moved. The boys love the ferry rides, and were amazed that we were on the Elbe River, that we were on in Dresden, (2 hours train ride on the other side of Berlin)

Saturday, 17 September 2005

more little trains

There were lots of different scenes in the different rooms. Of course there was Hamburg, with a terrific harbour. Parts of the Alps and also part of the Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas. (although I am not sure why they have parts f American in there...instead of Europe?) Anyway it was great to see ,and I admire how much work has gone into building all of it. They are constantly designing new things to add to it,and extend the rooms. (the exhibit is in a large warehouse)

Model trains galore

Hamburg has the largest model train exhibit in the Northern Hemisphere. It is great for boys of all ages. We had to wait for about 1/2 hour in the queue. While we were waiting, a lady from the cafe came around and gave all the kids a free icypole, and the adults a drink of juice or water!Amazing! Once we were inside there was so much to see and do. For the kids there are lots of buttons to press on your way around, to make ferris wheels go around, a man bungee jump, ski lifts operate and so much more! There is even a UFO that hovers over part of a field. There is so much to look at, and amazing attention to details. The fields of sunflowers were incredible. (although beside the field, was a river. In the river was a man that had drowned...the area had been taped off. Police and "CSI" people around investigating, taking photos and lights on cars flashing. You could spend days in there, and still not see everything. There are all sorts of different trains, and the boys thought this was terrific.

In the Courtyard of the Rathaus

In the middle of the Rathaus is a large courtyard, with a very large water fountain. The statues in the fountain are lovely, and each person is doing something different. One is catching a fish, another filling a water jug, another bathing etc.

A little bit more of the Rathaus

Here is a photo of part of the Ballroom. This is the entrance. Above the black marble pillars is an orchestra stand where an orchestra sits and plays music during the evening! Very elegant! All the walls are painted, but you can't see much of that, cause I chopped it off...or was that Phil?

More of the Rathaus

Here is an example of the ceilings in the Rathaus.

The Rathaus

Here is an example of the leather panels that lined some of the rooms that we saw in the Rathaus. Each panel is about 40cm square.

The Hamburg Rathaus

Now this is not a house full of rats! Rathaus is the German word for Town Hall. We got off the bus and did a tour of the Town Hall...(it was recommended to us by our friends Chris and Jana) WOW what an amazing building! We were told it has 6 more rooms than Buckingham Palace. The current government have council chambers etc in there. They have balls and functions 3-4 nights a week in the grand ballroom. the rooms that we saw were magnificent. So much attention to detail. Here is part of the Rathaus...it was too big to get it all in the view of my camera. There was a market in the front of the Rathaus obstucting my view.

The many steps of St Michel

Our city tour was a great way to see the sights of Hamburg. With our daily pass, we were able to hop on and off our bus at any stop. The buses came past every 15 minutes. We got off at St Michel's church. (that is the church behind the boys in the photo) The church stands 132 metres high. You can get a lift to the top, or walk up the stairs.....we decided to walk...up 452 steps! They were steep, and the boys got a bit frightened at some parts. We were lucky we didn't get 1/2 way up on the hour. Each hour the bells chime, and they are loud!! The view from the top was terrific. You can get terrific views of the harbour and the layout of Hamburg. It was a great way to see Hamburg. We decided to get the lift to the ground!

Double Decker Bus Tour of Hamburg

Up early, breakfast and off to the city to begin a tour at 10.30am. We started in a "hummelbus" an old form of public transport..(pictured here). The tour was in English and German. We were able to work out what was being said in German, then see how we went in English. Some of it was easier that others. Sometimes the tour guide just talked too quick for us! Some of the buildings around Hamburg are beautiful. In former days, if you were wealthy, you painted your home white...there are a lot of large white houses in Hamburg. Hamburg has the second largest working port in Europe. It is enormous! (the largest is in Rotterdam) Hamburg is on the River Elbe, which runs through quite a bit of Germany. We have already had a ferry ride down the Elbe at Dresden. We were able to show the boys that this was the port that all our furniture came into 8 weeks after it left Sydney. It was in Hamburg that our container came off the ship, and then was put on a truck to drive to Berlin! There are heaps of waterways in Hamburg, and it actually has more bridges that Venice! This year was very exciting for the people in Hamburg, the QE2 came in twice. On these weekends there were heaps of people that came to Hamburg to see QE2

Friday, 16 September 2005

Off to Hamburg

Off to Hamburg on Friday night. We got on the ICE train (Inter City Express). Great train, and only a 1 1/2 hour train trip to Hamburg. It is quite fast, and the time went quickly, with the help of Game Boys.
We managed to find our way out of the train station fairly quickly, and worked out how to get to our hotel without any dramas...we are really getting the hang of this public transport in Germany....it is so easy to use! The hotel was a little out of the inner city, but only 1 bus, and the bus stop was right outside the hotel. A good night sleep (except for large trucks turning at the round about right outside our hotel window).

Back to school for Alexander on Monday!

Well, looks like we are over the worst of the spots. Alexander can go back to school on Monday! He has a note from the doctor that says he is not contagious anymore. His teacher was terrific and sent some work and readers home for him. She even sent a "special" pen for him to do his work. We have watched some movies, played with Lego, and Alexander has been sewing his first quilt. He picked some fabric from my stash and has been sewing strips together. He would love to have it finished before he gets back to school, but I think it will be the following week before he can quilt it and bind it. Here is picture of Alexander with his quilt top and his spots. We have decided to still go to Hamburg this weekend..so look next week for some ramblings about that! :) Now Cameron wants to get his chicken pox soon, because he wants to make a quilt too!

Tuesday, 13 September 2005

Halloween cross stitch

One of the bonuses of Alexander being ill is that he lies on the couch. He wants me to sit next to him, so I can do some cross stitching while I am sitting there. I managed to finish this Halloween piece this afternoon. There was heaps of beading in it, and that has taken me awhile to complete. This piece is my penfriend Charlotte's, I just finished it off for her! I will send it to her once I can get out of the house and get to the post office.
On another note, we are supposed to be going to Hamburg this weekend, fingers crossed that we will actually manage to get out of the house....we arereally looking forward to going..It is only 1 1/2 hours train ride from Berlin!

The spots are multiplying

A few more spots this morning. Alexander will have the week off school. I sent Cameron into school with a note for Alexander's teacher to ask her for some work...or some reader books..or anything! Phil managed to get some German equivalent to Calamine lotion, and I have been painting his body with this! Hopefully it will help dry them out and stop the itching.

Monday, 12 September 2005

Our first case of Chicken Pox

Oh dear, we have only been back at school for 3 weeks, and already the chicken pox is alive and spreading through the school. Only 3 days into the school year, a boy from Alexander's class got his first spots. Last night Alexander had a few spots, today a few more! So, the week off school for him, and I am assuming Cameron will get them in about 2 weeks time! This is Alexander's first day at home, and at 10.30am he tells me "I am bored!"...ohh, it is going to be a long week! Thank goodness for UK Sky cable TV. At least he got to watch Cat in The Hat after lunch! I hope there are some good movies for kids on this week!
This is a photo of Alexander on Puffing Billy back in August. Since then, he has lost the top 2 teeth! Very gappy indeed! :)

Sunday, 11 September 2005

Change of Hair Colour

Cameron came to the shops with me last week when I was looking for hair dye. "Can I pick the colour please Mum?" Cameron asked. "Sure, Why Not" said I......Cameron chose a lovely shade of RED. It is very red, especially when you go outside. Lucky it should wash out in 40 washes.....maybe!

Saturday, 10 September 2005

Halloween Lap Quilt

Here is a picture of a quilt I finished this weekend. (Of course I started another one as well). I was given all this Halloween fabric and had no idea what to do with it. My quilt group did this pattern a few months ago. It is called Birds in The Air.

Thursday, 8 September 2005

Walking in the Grunewald

Phoebe (first on left) organises amazing walks around Berlin for us during the week after the kids are dropped at school.

Here are some of us in the Grunewald forest in Berlin. In Summer you see some interesting people getting very in touch with nature. There is lots of nudie sunbaking on the grass and nudie swimming in the lake. So you have to watch where you look! Today was a hot day, so lots of people getting in touch with nature! LOL

From Left is Phoebe, Jayne, Libby, Maureen, Sonia, Carol and Ellie

Sunday, 4 September 2005

New Bikes

Yesterday, we went to the large Bike shop near Kaiserdamm U bahn, and bought the boys a new bike each. Alexander was ready to have the training wheels removed from his first bike, and Cameron is not too far behind. The Bike shop is huge, and has a big track around the outside. The boys could go for a test ride on the bikes they were measured up for. Cameron went fairly fast and managed to bail up a young girl who was on the track at the time! Opps!

We had to wait an hour whilst they built the 2 bikes we chose. They have a cafe there, so we were forced to have a coffee whilst we waited! (we drink a lot of coffee here, although it isn't as strong as a Gloria Jeans coffee).

Once the bikes were done, the boys rode home. Phil had to run to keep up with Alexander, and I was walking at a fairly good pace to keep up with Cameron. After a good 15 minute ride, we were home. We have been up the large round about up the road and the boys are getting better on the bikes. Even learning how to start and stop by themselves.....fairly important!

The great thing about Berlin is the fantastic bike tracks on almost every footpath! As a pedestrian it took a while to make sure you do not walk in the bike lane(the red paving) The riders do not slow down, and are very quick on the bell!

Saturday, 3 September 2005

Our closest Park

We have a great park 2 blocks away from our place. It has the usual swings and slides and wooden castle type house. But the thing the boys love the most is this terrific water fountain. they pump the water out, and then run down to the end to fill up the buckets and watering cans. Underneath the fountain is an enormous sandpit, and you can make terrific moats and rivers with all that water. There are no water restrictions in Berlin!

Friday, 2 September 2005

Schultueten Party

The first day of school for German children is a very exciting day. Many years ago, children from wealthy families were given a schultueten ( a cardboard tube) full of things they would need for school. Rulers, pencils, crayons, paper, stickers and some lollies. Now, all children recieve them, they have a small party at school, and the child recieves their schultueten from their parents.

At the International school the boys attend, they have their schultueten party at the beginning of Year 1. (29th August 2005). Alexander was put out that he had missed out last year as we didn't get here until January. So I made the boys one each. Of course, we needed to have their favourite animals, and the boys favourite colours. I think it is a really lovely German tradition, and glad we have this photo to remember it.

Thursday, 1 September 2005

This is us before we left Sydney, Dec 2004

The beginning of the Blog

Well, here we are at our first Blog. We have decided to set this up, as I might keep you informed about what we have been up to whilst we are here in Berlin more frequently. This way, instead of sending you really long emails every couple of months, you can check out the Blog when you feel like it and see what we have been up to.

The last 8 months have been fairly hectic, and it is only now in September that we are feeling like we are almost settled here. We have had lots of great experiences so far, and lots of fun. So, we hope to share more stuff with you on a regular basis!

The boys are settled into school now, Alexander is in Year 2 and Cameron is in Year 1. Both boys have terrifc teachers, and most days are happy to go to school. Phil is going well at work, and hasn't been travelling the last few weeks, although he has some trips planned.

We can add photos that should be easy for you to see, and I will try and make sure I add a photo with each entry.

If you are not interested in my quilting and other projects....sorry about that! You can just skim over to other parts of the blog!

Nicole, Phil, Alexander and Cameron!