Thursday, 30 March 2006

In the forests of Bavaria...



For many months, the Year One's and Two's have been preparing for the 'Key Stage 1' production of Hansel and Gretel. Alexander had a role as a narrator, and many of his friends had other key roles in the production. Cameron, being in Year 1, was in the chorus. Alexander had the luxury of wearing jeans and a special T-Shirt, (Nicole was quite relieved he wasn't a woodland animal like a bear, lion, or other creatures), whilst Cameron had to dress up as a lolly or biscuit! Nicole managed to get a stripey red and white hat and t-shirt and a pair of red leggings, so he looked like a candy cane. A great and easy idea - no elaborate costumes to make! Cameron's friend Bradley had exactly the same costume..Sonia and Nicole shopped together!

The show was a great success, running on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Alexander's friend Yasmina played the part of the witch, and really stole the show! Alexander could take his script on stage and just read his lines... but he didn't! As per his 'performance' in the 'Stars of the Future' last year, he took to the stage with his usual flair - knew all his lines off by heart and embellished with impromptu actions to support his lines! He had a great time. He stood next to his friend Emily, and they both looked great!


Cameron sat next to his mate Bradley, and they sung their hearts out (and mucked around a bit!...sometimes it can be boring in the chorus!). After each performance it was off to our favourite ice cream shop, Mauritius, for a celebratory ice-cream then home to bed!

Sunday, 26 March 2006

Sofia

I flew straight from Barcelona to Sofia (via Milan).. and the contrast was clear. From Gaudi to beaten-up soviet style apartment blocks, and roads with enormous pot holes after the harsh winter. In fact, one of my colleagues had to rush away from a dinner because his mother-in-law had flipped his wife's car (with his baby daughter luckily in a proper restraint in the back seat) after clipping a huge pot-hole. When I asked him afterwards he said "my daughter is fine, the car needs work, and I dont give a F&&% about the mother in law!"

Had a great trip, and finished up all the work in time to fly home and see the boys in the school production of Hansel and Gretel (see next post).

Lizzie Kate complete!


Well, the cross stitching part anyway! Now I have to sew it into a stocking, which I hope to do this week sometime. I like these Lizzie Kate designs, they stitch up quite quickly once you start them! This was part of my Commonwealth Games challenge with one of my cross stitch groups, and I have managed to finish this one beforethe flame is put out...just! Now to concentrate on some more Flip It's!

Saturday, 25 March 2006

Barcelona


We ran a scientific symposium in Barcelona over the weekend. It was really hard work, but the results were fantastic. Luckily, at the end of the program we had a city tour for the speakers. This meant we had the Schering team and 5 of the top specialists on a minibus for a tour of the city.. Could be hell, but all of the speakers were really great, and the local professor acted as out tour guide - and it was fantastic. One of the advantages was that we got a tour of the historic "Hospital de la Santa Creu I Sant Pau" hospital, the second oldest working hospital in the world and a World Heritage location, which is normally closed to 'tourists'. The buildings are spectacular (a series of pavillions) and it is interesting to see how you can put a modern hospital into such a setting, that dates back to 1401.

Barcelona was really interesting, and the Gaudi stuff really impressed me. Before I went to Barcelona, I thought Gaudi was some guy who had lost his ruler. After seeing his work, I am now really impressed by what he achieved - his work is really interesting and worth seeing. The apartment building he created, the 'La Pedrera', has a small museum to his work and when I walked through the apartments and visited the museum, my opinion of his work improved dramatically.

After a long (very long) winter in Berlin, the weather was great. I had a wonderful visit and would love to return when for pure pleasure to really discover the place....

Friday, 24 March 2006

Wattle in Berlin


I went to the market today, and the flower stall where I get the tulips from every week had branches of wattle! Oh, it made me feel a bit homesick..so I bought a couple of branches, and she gave me 2 extra ones for free (as well as the lollies for the boys as well). So we have a bit of Australia in our lounge room at the moment, it is really nice!

Wednesday, 22 March 2006

Lizzie Kate Angel Stocking


Finally got around to starting the Xmas stocking I had hoped to finish for Christmas 2005! Only 3 months behind.....This is what I have stitched last night and snuck in a bit more this morning while waiting for a chocolate cake to cook! I really like these Lizzie Kate designs. I love how quick they stitch up.

I am hoping to have this stitched up before the flame dies at the Closing Ceremony for the Commonwealth Games (a challenge from a cross stitch group I am involved with). I was hoping to watch lots of the Commonwealth Games and cheer for the host nation! Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi! But we have no coverage here....not even a mention on the UK Sky News.....perhaps it has to do with the medal tally?? But I am getting cricket scores (cause they look like they might win LOL). At least I can get the latest news on the official website http://www.melbourne2006.com.au/Channels/ It's not the same...but better than nothing!

Finished Floral Bouquet!


Horray!! It is finally finished! I am so glad to get this one over and done with! Help, it has a partner as well. I won these 2 designs in a competition....the saving grace of these patterns by Lauren Tucker is they have no backstitching!
I have some other stitching to do and will work on some Lizzie Kate stuff, then think about doing the second picture to this one in the second part of the year!
I have no idea what I will actually do with this finished picture, but at least I can cross it off my "Things to Do list"

Coffee Cups and Tulips

A blogging question that has been making the rounds lately is to take a photo of the coffee cups that are your favourites. So, here are mine.
My Sydney 2000 Olympics mug, I use in the evening when I make myself a chocolate milk.
During the day I drink out of a plain white Maxwell and Williams Mug...I love it because it is simple.
I am collecting these Polish mugs as well. You can buy the same coffe mugs but with different patterns, using the same blue and white glazes. My aim to find different patterns in the same size mug to use as a set. So far I have 2.

The tulips here at the markets are divine....and oh so cheap! This time of the year they are everywhere, and you can buy 10 for 2 euro. I love the different colours. I buy my tulips every week from the same lady at the market. During school holidays ,the boys come with me and smile nicely at the lady. Every week, she gives me a packet of lollies each for the kids after school! I will see if I can take a photo of the flower stall on Friday.

Tuesday, 21 March 2006

At the top of Brocken


This is a photo of the trees as we were climbing to the top of the mountain

here is a view from the top of the mountain.


The view from the top of Brocken was amazing. The trees were totally covered in snow and bent over from the weight. From a distance they looked like people. We had forgotten to take the sleds, (still in Michelle and Gordon's car), but we had a few plastic bags with us in our backpacks.



So the kids (and dads) went down the slope on the bags. They had a great time, and we all had a lot of fun. When the kids had to wait for a bag, they decided to go down the slope without the bag....penguin style, head first, on your tummy, and hands by your side.

To Brocken on the Brockenbahn


Anything to do with transport....we do it! The boys love the trains, buses, planes etc. Alexander can tell you the stations on our train line in Berlin close to our home and which stations to get off for the connecting trains!

So, the steam train to the top of the mountain was a highlight of the trip for the boys. It takes an hour and 1/2 to get to the top. The scenery along the way was amazing! It looked fabulous with all the snow still on the trees. There were another 4-5 families on the same train as us. Some families missed the first train, but came up on the second train.

The snow got thicker and thicker the higher we went. At the top the snow was about 3 metres high. It was incredible. You could see a street lamp post buried, and all you could see way the top of the light, with the post toatlly covered in snow! At the top, the trees were buried, and the tops were totally covered in snow. It reminded me of pictures in a Dr Suess book. These snow covered trees took on a life of their own, and they looked like large snowmen. I think at dusk they could look quite spooky!

Saturday, 18 March 2006

Harz Mountains


Our walking/train expert guru, Pheobe, organised an overnight stay in the Harz Mountains. We got up early on Saturday morning caught the train down south, 3 hours from Berlin to the Harz mountains. We stayed in a village called Wernigerode. A quaint little village with lots of tudor style buildings. After lunch we did a horse and cart trip up to the Schloss (castle).

The Schloss is over 900 years old. It still blows our minds to see such old buildings in such amazing conditions! Heaps of snow around, and still heaps on top of the trees. Lots of snowball throwing. I got dumped on really well, when Phil and Alan threw a few snowballs above the tree I was standing under and the snow just kept falling and falling....a human snowman! Very funny...until it goes down your back and is really really cold....actually it still is quite funny!

There were 12 families that came along. We all did our own thing and met up at the Youth Hostel in the afternoon. The hostel was still being renovated. The room we were in was very clean, and had comfortable beds and a decent shower. On the bottom level they have 2 bowling lanes. We booked it for 2 hours and the kids (ranging from 3 to 14) took turns. They played in teams and had a terrific time. The kids all play really well together, and the older ones help the younger ones. While the adults sat upstairs in the common area and drank lots of beer and wine! I think altogether there were 23 adults and 28 children. Here is a photo of us with the Ramsay family, taken with the timer on the digital camera.

Saturday, 11 March 2006

Alexander's Ten Pin Bowling Party


We took Alexander, Cameron and 7 friends bowling for Alexander's 7th birthday party. I booked the lanes over the phone..(a brave thing for me, I am not confident speaking Deutsch on the phone). I didn't mention that the lanes were for children. Not all lanes have the ability to put up the gutter rails (the rails come up, so the kids don't end up getting gutter balls for the whole time). unfortunately all kid lanes were booked, and we had to tough it out on the "adult lanes".

Surprisingly, the kids did pretty well. Isaiah gets the award for the slowest bowling ever. Twice the ball stopped in the middle of the lane and we had to ask the guy working there to get it for us. The kids were terrific. I loved the way when someone was bowling, the others got behind them and cheered when a pin was knocked down, and were sympathetic when the ball went into the gutter!

Ice Cream Cafe Photos




Here are the photos that I couldn't attach to the previous post...

Ice Cream and Cake afterwards

After bowling we took the kids to the ice cream shop for ice cream and cake. I had booked a couple of tables...(again on the telephone..I am getting a bit better at speaking German on the phone) I decided to go in a few days before, just to make sure I had actually booked the tables. I tried to ask if they would do a large ice cream cake, or normal cake......no chance. So instead I made cupcakes for everyone (this would be easier to give the kids a cupcake each, than try and cut a cake and ask for plates etc). OK...so they didn't look very attractive sitting on top of each other....but they were tasty. After cake and ice cream, we still had another 1/2 hour before parents were coming to pick the children up. Alexander opened his presents from his friends and we all had another drink. The kids sang lots of songs from their music classes and the school production they are all practicing for. What a great party!
I am having trouble loading photos at the moment...will post then later!

Friday, 10 March 2006

BINGO!


Tonight we had a Bingo night at school to raise a bit of money for the PTA fund! What a hoot! Well, I think we would have been kicked out of any "proper" Bingo hall. We were all a bit noisy, but gee we had fun. Bingo is not a popular "sport" in Germany, so the rules had to be explained. I guess it may have been a bit difficult to, when the call is in English. When you say numbers in German you say the unit first...eg 34...four and thirty. Sometimes this can confuse me, and I think the person has said 43. So I am sure it maybe a bit confusing the other way around. Here is a picture of us in the schoool hall, and some of the mums at our table!
My Nana would have been proud of me! The last game for the night I bought a few extra tickets and played 14 games at once! Well, that required a bit of concentration, but lots of fun! And it paid off....I managed to win the last game of Bingo. My prize? 25 Euro voucher for an Easy Jet flight! ENGLAND, here I come!

Here is a picture of the high tech Bingo board our callers worked from!

So much snow in March!



For the past 48 hours it has not stopped snowing! So unusual for March (so the German people tell us). It is quite thick, and great for snowball making. After seeing Maureen's children, Bobby and Katie's igloo in there garden in our last big fall of snow, the boys have asked that we make an igloo in our garden! We have the first 6 large snowballs in a semi circle, and will do more later this afternoon. We will do 2 large snowballs on top of each other, then use a quilt to cover the top of the igloo...more photos later!
The novelty of snow has not worn out on us..we still love it. Perhaps this is because we are not driving a car in Berlin. Maybe I would feel different if we were driving a car in this weather, I do not think that would be a pleasant experience!
Here is a photo of Alexander waiting for the bus (Cameron didn't want his photo taken today), and a photo of the garden!

Monday, 6 March 2006

An hour in Poland



What shall we do today? Let's get on a train and go to Poland for a quick visit to the market! Well, why not. About 12 of us got on the train and headed over to Poland. Strange looks from the border police when they see an Australian Passport, and it takes a bit longer than the rest of the group, but that is OK. Here is me standing beside the Polish post....proof that I was there today. The river we crossed was frozen over. If you look really closely you can see guys on the river with their little ice holes dug out (careful how you say that), trying to catch fish...must have been really cold out there! Markets were interesting....lots of bargains, if you are after cigarettes, or lingerie that leave nothing to the imagination......We did find a small stand with some Polish pottery, and some of us bought some pottery there.....others checked out the alcohol stores and bought bottles of Polish Vodka back....I think most of the vodka got back into Berlin. As for those "Roll Mops" garlic or peppers wrapped in pickled herrings , they were eaten on the train....not by me!!! Have not acquired a taste for these...and I hope that I do not!! A fun day!

Thursday, 2 March 2006

The Weather Pixie

The WeatherPixie
The WeatherPixieHow cool are these little icons. I have added these into the sidebar to check the weather of Berlin and Sydney...what a contrast! If you click on the heading of this entry it will take you to the website of the Weather Pixie! I am getting the hang of this blog stuff now! :)

Happy 7th Birthday Alexander



Happy 7th Birthday to our big boy...Phil and I cannot believe how quickly 7 years have passed! We still remember how little he was when he was born...6 pound, 6 ounces! He has been sick this week with a middle ear infection, but after the anti biotics have kicked in, he probably could have gone to school today. He had a lovely day with me, playing with some of his new toys and helping me make this cake. Great tasting cake....from a Nigela Lawson book! YUM! It is supposed to have that "sat on" look. The cake has no flour, delicious! He loved all the presents and lovely cards he recieved from family and friends. We will have his party next weekend. The Ten Pin bowling lanes have been booked...well, I hope so, I had to do it in German over the phone. So I hope they understood what I was asking! This evening we made cupcakes for Alexander to take to school tomorrow for his friends!

Happy Birthday Alexander!

Wednesday, 1 March 2006

Happy #&th Birthday Phil!


Happy Birthday to Phil today. I made the cake, the boys chose the icing (blue) and decorated it with lollies!
After dinner we sang Happy Birthday, with sparklers and candles...and had a slice of cake each. Phil will take the rest of the cake to work tomorrow (seeing as though I have another cake to make tomorrow for Alexander's birthday!) It will be interesting to see what they think of the blue icing! You cannot buy food colouring here...I bought it when I was in Australia last July. The boys German tutor, Simona, was here this afternoon and very intrigued with the blue icing! The first time I made scones for Phil to take to work, he had to do a demonstration of how to put the jam and cream on the scones...they had never heard of scones before! Will be interested to see what they think of this cake tomorrow!!!!!