Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Discoveryland

Our first venture into Discoveryland was accidental, and fortunate. We were speaking to a couple who had some fast-passes (pre-arranged entry tickets that you have to queue up for with specific return times that allow you to skip most of the queue- often saving 45 mins of waiting) to the 'Buzz Lightyear' ride, and they were heading back to their hotel. The time was going to be just after we had dinner (at the same buffet dinner place), and we gratefully accepted them without knowing what this ride was. But more about Buzz Lightyear in another post...

Part of the hotel deal, was to get vouchers to have breakfast in the Park before it opened. We assumed we would get to meet some of the characters....but we were wrong (must be that German to English translation again!)

Anyway, it was a reasonable breakfast in the Bella Notte Pizzaria, croissants and cereal,(not pizza for breakfast). This restaurant is the one from the Lady and the Tramp. Just around the corner from the restaurant was Discovery Land, so we were able to have our first ride of the day on the Buzz Lightyear ride without waiting too long!

Phil trekked off to Space Mountain (minimum height was 132cm) . So the boys and I went to the Orbitron....kind of like the Dumbo the Elephant ride, but in rocket ships. The boys could control going up and down. Cameron likes to go up high, and then drop down quickly...great for mums! :)

The boys in their rocketships.

Next stop was "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" a 3-D movie, which was quite good. Alexander didn't like it very much though.

Then off to Star Wars, a virtual flight simulator, where we were in our own spaceship to Endor. Cameron didn't look to keen throughout the ride, but told us after that he did enjoy it (He looked quite scared during the ride.)


Ready for the 3-D movie.

Then it was off for more Buzz rides, and Big Thunder rides.

To Infinity and Beyond...



We kept going back for Fast Passes for the Buzz Lightyear ride. It was so much fun. Each time we lined up for about 10 minutes. This ended up being Cameron's favourite ride in all of Disneyland!

We did it so many times, we lost count. The kids (and adults!) travel around a track in little wagons, each with your own laser gun. There are many scenes and targets and as your laser hits a target, it registers a score. Talk about fun for the boys (and mum's and dad's)!

Cameron, who is a Big Buzz fan, was also a pretty good shot, and racked up very good scores. During the ride your photograph is taken, at the end of the ride you can purchase these photos (of course!), and it puts your score on the picture as well. This was a great ride!


Cameron with Buzz


Alexander with Buzz


Phil and Alexander in their space craft


Nicole and Cameron in their space craft

Monday, 30 October 2006

Adventureland

With Phil off playing on the Indiana Jones Roller Coaster (minimum height was 140cm), I took the kids to some of the other areas of Adventure Land.
There was the Swiss Family Robinson tree house. We got to climb up into the tree house and see how the Robinson's would have lived. For the quilters who read this blog....here is a log cabin quilt from one of the beds.


Then there was Adventure Island full of secret caves and pirate hideouts to wander through and get lost in. Then there were a couple of playgrounds for the kids to have some free play in.

High up in the tree top.


Later on that day we came back to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which was lots of fun, and we only got a little bit wet.



Cameron with the Giraffe Adventure Jeep

Frontierland

Day 2 and we decided to start with the Steam Train ride around the park. We were hoping to do 1 1/4 laps and end up in Frontierland, but we were kicked off after 1 lap and had to walk from Main St.





Frontierland-It's the wild west! Our second morning was sunny and not too cold. No jackets in sight! First stop was the haunted house, "Phantom Manor", then the Thunder Mesa Paddle Wheel River Boat, and then onto Big Thunder Railway- the runaway mine train roller coaster.

We had another Disney wait (about 1 hour), before we got our turn.

This was Cameron's first ever roller coaster ride (he didn't want to ride them at Legoland earlier in the year) and he sat with me whilst Alexander and Nicole sat behind us. I had to make encouraging and excited sounds the whole way around and keep a close eye on Cameron to ensure he was OK. No problems, but no desire to ride it again!

We then went and saw a stage show with Goofy cooking some Halloween 'pumpkin soup' which the boys really enjoyed.


In front of Big Thunder

Halloween in Disneyland

Disneyland was taken over by the Pumpkin Men, and they tried really hard to take over Disneyland and paint the town orange.
Not that our kids know much about Halloween, but they enjoyed looking at all the pumpkins and other stuff around.




Sunday, 29 October 2006

Fantasyland

The first place to visit in Disneyland with kids of 6 and 7 is Fantasyland. Here, all of the Disney classics are represented: Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Snow White.... It is also where the rides are not so 'thrilling' and therefore a good place to start.

There were big crowds, and we had to endure long queues (45-60 minutes), but that is Disneyland! The boys were great - really patient and no hassles during these times.

The older rides, such as Pinocchio and Snow White seemed quite confused in their stories, and they were really a bit baffling. Peter Pan was great- everyone's favourite so far- but with the biggest queues.

We did the Alice in Wonderland maze (good fun), 'It's a small world' (someone's idea of torture to have Munchkins singing the same thing over and over whilst you are stuck in a boat) and Nicole and the boys did the Tea Cups- I am not a big fan of rides that just go around and around. We also did the 'Dumbo the flying elephant' ride, which the boys also liked.

We had dinner in the park at a buffet-style restaurant- very good quality but Disney prices- and continued our experience until about 8.00. After this, we walked back to the hotel (about 1.5km), checked in, and collapsed into bed!



The boys on the Dumbo the Elephant ride.


In the Alice in Wonderland Labyrinth.



In front of Sleeping Beauty's castle.


The spinning tea cups.

More photos from Fantasyland


Here are the boys in the Alice in Wonderland Labyrinth


Some koalas in a tree in "It's a Small World"


The Opera House painted on the wall as you leave "It's a Small World"

Half Term Break

It is very hard to get used to these European school terms. 3 terms for the school year, and half way through each term, there is "half term holidays" for a week. I think the longest they are at school before a break is about 6 weeks. I don't know how families where both parents work manage this?? We have about 4 more weeks of holidays here than we would in Australia....

So, this half term we decided to take the kids to Disneyland Paris. We have been promising the kids that we would go there once they were old enough. After some research on the internet, we thought once Cameron turned 6, he would be able to go on most of the rides.

Here is a photo of Phil and the kids outside the front of Disneyland. Mickey Mouse is made of shrubs and bushes of different colours.



Unfortunately the very front of the building of the main Disney hotel was under renovations, hence the lovely grey fabric over 2 sections of the hotel.

It probably wont come as a surprise to you that before we went to Disneyland, I needed to do some homework. I checked the website for the park, and wrote down all the rides and which movies they related to. Thankfully my friends Chantal, Sonia and Michelle came to the rescue and let us borrow their Disney dvd's and story books that we didn't have. We got the kids to watch Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, The Lady and the Tramp, Aristocrats, Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan and so many more before we headed off to Paris. We had lots of the "modern" dvd's, like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc....but none of the "classics"

This proved to be really helpful, as we went through the different rides, the kids knew the characters and the story lines of each story. One night in the hotel, there was a quiz for the kids. They had to listen to snippets of the songs and then name the movie. A slight disadvantage for us, the songs were in French. The second competition was pictures on an overhead projector, and they were shown only a small part of the picture at a time. Cameron managed to get 2nd place in both competitions! So thanks to Chantal, Sonia and Michelle for the Disney stuff! It was really helpful !!

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

No Muggles in this house!


For 2 euros, the kids can dress up in Halloween clothes at school today.
This is how our blond and brown

hair boys left for school today.

Ron Weasley, and Harry Potter.

Alexander's friend Emily is going as Hermoine, and Isaiah is going as Harry Potter.

Cameron's friend Jemimah is Hermoine and BJ is Harry Potter too....they both wanted to be Harry!

The smell of fresh bread in the morning...



I got the bread machine out for the first time since we have been in Berlin. I found the local supermarket has the bread mix suitable for the machine, so I have been buying this.
I set the timer on the machine the night before, and at 6am, the bread is finished, and we wake up to great smell, and fresh bread for the lunch boxes.

stitching progress..

I am working on this picture 2 nights a week. Monday and Tuesday. This is 2 weeks progress, so I am pleased with how it is going.

I think seeing how quick it can stitch up, gives me a bit of a boost to keep at it...I wonder if it can be done by Xmas??
This is the photo I took on the 17th October...



and this is the photo I took this morning....almost 1/4 of the way through! :)

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Back to 'Normal'??

Following our great holiday in Australia, and plenty of visitors, we are now settling back to 'normal'. This is also happening on the work front. Since returning from Australia I have travelled to:
Bad Saarow (outside Berlin)
Romania: A quick trip with no time for anything but work. A brief late-night visit to the Casino was enough to give me nicotine poisoning (I had the shakes and couldn't sleep) and to drive a smoking colleague from Germany into giving up!
Serbia: A really good trip, with a late afternoon dash to the local golf course. We played until we could see no more (but the sounds of our balls crashing into the trees in the rough carried all too well!). We only managed to get 7 holes completed, but I shot 40 for these, and hit 8 trees as well! Too bad we didn't finish at a decent time so we could at least get nine holes in, but thats the way it goes...
Turkey: Fast and furious! 2 x 11hour days with dinner after, and a final day of 8 hours before rushing to the plane (if driving in Istanbul traffic can ever be considered rushing!) However, there is so much to do I think I will need to go back in January for a week.... Terrible weather - Rain, wind and cold. Great food - kebabs on the first night and seafood by the Bosporous on the second!

And in the coming weeks:
Russia
France
Malaysia and Vietnam
Austria
Finland (??)

So, its back to normal - or rather, back to absolute madness.......

Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Gallery Hopping

Since the boys have gone back to school, I have decided to visit an art gallery every second Wednesday.
So here are the galleries I have been to in the past 6 weeks. I let the mums from school know that I am going, and anyone is welcome to join me.

Rembrandt:- Quest of a Genius
http://www.smb.museum/smb/news/details.php?lang=de&objID=9405&typeID=12&PHPSESSID=02e5f8e2cc8df52d25043dea5e9c38e2
I went to this one with Ann from school. The audio guide for this exhibition was brilliant!

East German Museum
http://www.ddr-museum.de/en/
The GDR ceased to exist 17 years ago.This museum shows how everyday life in the GDR was like.
It is an interactive museum, and was really interesting. Cotton was not widely available behind the wall, so most clothes were made using polyester.....the clothes had an awful feel to them...I hate to think what it would be like to wear them every day.
I went to this museum with Sonia, Michelle, Jacqui and Wendy, it was a great insight to what life was like behind the wall. Note....lots of nude swimming in Summer!

Art Forum
The 11th ART FORUM BERLIN - showing contemporary art, fresh, energetic, full of quality - the bestartists and their galleries from Berlin, Germany, Europe, the USA,Latin America, Asia and Australia.Art of today for the collections of tomorrow- Berlin, the talentfactory and workshop of art, where trends are set and new stars aremade. Exceptional stand concepts and the compact field in a parcoursfrom A - Z the trademarks of ART FORUM BERLIN allow good noses fullbent.

Museum Berggruen Picasso – The Draftsman
The Museum Berggruen is celebrating its tenth birthday with an exhibition of Pablo Picasso's drawings. Since the opening of the museum in 1996, this artist - who has shaped the visual concepts of the 20th century like no other - is the central focus of the presentation "Picasso and his Time" which 1.5 million visitors have already seen.

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Floral Bouquet UFO...


Very slowly I am working on this picture. It has been about 4 months since I stitched on it. But now I am making an effort to work on it every Monday night...in the hope that it will get finished one day soon...
I am currently working on the top right half of the picture. My saving grace is that there is no backstitching to this picture. It is not my favourite piece....but I am determined to get it finished. I have no idea what I will do with it once it is completed, I do not like it very much. I won it in a competition, and I just want it to be crossed off my "things to do" list!

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Knit one, Purl one.....


Here is the current status of the scarf I am knitting for ********* (can't say the name..just in case)
It is for a man, and mum says it is better to knit one, purl one, knit one, purl one. Th wool is from Australia, and a friend of my brothers hand dyes the wool, it is lovely to knit with.

Wow, this is taking a long time to knit up. I am using size 4 needles? maybe 5 at the most.....

Normally i make girly scarfs with fluffy wool on size 8-10 needles. They knit up really quickly. I can whip up a girly scarf in 2 nights.

In an evening, I can knit about 3 inches if I am lucky! I hope i can get it finished by Xmas.

I wish I could knit as fast as this lady!
click on the link to watch this really cool video!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6ZjMWLqJvM&eurl

Angel # 7 Wisdom and Q Snaps



This one came all the way to Australia with me, and I only got half of her done. Last night, I put the last french knots in and she is now complete.





Here is the entire piece so far....
Working on Number 8 now, and then 4 more to go.

Some one asked me about QSnaps the other day, here is a picture of what they look like......I love using them, the tension is perfect every time you put them on.
Here is the link to the QSnap home page if you want to look. If I was a hand quilter, I would be getting one of these quilting frames! Click on Needlework products to see the hand held range.
http://www.qsnap.com/


Disclaimer:- I am not taking any responsibility for the heating up of your credit cards! ;)

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

Bike Riding

The weather has been great for bike riding....





Even the squirrels are out and about.....Graeme managed to get this photo before he scuttled off again. We are seeing heaps of squirrels around as the chestnuts and acorns are all falling from the trees.

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Granma and Grampa visit...

We have had Granma and Grampa come and go for the past 5 weeks. First week they were with us in Berlin. Then they went to Denmark for a week, back to Berlin, then off to England for a week, then back to us again. In between this they have caught the train to Hamburg and Dresden for a quick tour.


Here is Cameron watching Grampa fix the glider that Grampa gave him.


Cameron takes a break with Granma, from trying to catch butterflies with his net.


Phil, Alexander and Granma outside our place. Before election day, all the parties were out handing out balloons, badges, lollies....a walk to Theodore Heuss Platz meant the kids got heaps of freebies.