Monday, 9 November 2009

2009 Berlin Mauerfall!

9th November 2009, marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the Berlin Wall.
Lots of interesting exhibitions and things to see and do in the next few weeks! We have a few exhibitions to see ,which we will blog about when we see them!

Over the past 6 months a huge undertaking of large dominos have been painted by different schools, organisations and community groups and they have been placed from Potsdamer Platz to the Reichstag, where the Berlin Wall once stood. There are over 1000 dominos erected.

Sadly, the weather was rainy, but it didn't ruin the spirit of everyone coming together to celebrate the fall of the wall.

We hoped to meet Phil near the Gate to help celebrate the day. The kids and I got out at Potsdamer Platz and walked towards the Brandenburg Gate. Phil got out at Friedrichstrasse and walked towards the Brandenburg Gate. It was so crowded, and we couldn't meet up, and the barriers of the dominos kept us from meeting up. We were only 50 mteres apart! So we both turned around and met up at Zoo Garten. So in a way we had our own reenactment of the East/West division.

The stones in the road that show where the original wall actually stood.

Before we went to the train, we grabbed a bratwurst in brotchen, and this massive chicken on a stick, in a roll! Hilarious, but delicious! Cameron can't believe how enormous this chicken stick is!!

Video link of some of the dominos falling

(Alexander thought it would have been appropriate if someone had have driven into the first domino in a Trabi! What a great idea!!!!)

Friday, 6 November 2009

Cameron's Space Mobile

Cameron is learning about Space and Planets in school at the moment. He came home from school all excited about making a mobile with the planets.

We had bought a bookmark from the Belfast Museum with all the planets and facts and figures on it. So, with bookmark in hand, we headed to Idee to buy some spheres. Cameron has been in a really creative frame of mind recently, and he applied this to his project. Originally he wanted to buy the wooden balls, but they were quilte heavy (and expensive), so we settled on the styrofoam balls instead. A bonus, they even had the rings so Saturn was complete, and stars as well.

He set himself up with a book on the solar system and his bookmark, foam balls and paint, and began to paint the balls in fantastic representations of the planets. With a bit of help, each globe was threaded with cord (always on exactly the right angle as dictated by the designer, constantly consulting his Solar System chart).

The planets were attached to a crossbar, with a few extra stars added for effect. It simply looked fantastic!

The class was impressed with his effort, and it was hanging right above the middle of the classroom when we were there the next night for parent teacher conferences.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

First snow for the season

A little bit early for snow, but it was cold this morning.

Sadly, it rained not long after and all disappeared again!

Almost time to go down to the cellar and bring out all the Winter gear again!

Sunday, 1 November 2009


After Brú Na Bóinne we drove the short distance to Monasterboice. This was the site of an old circular tower and abbey, which also had some giant celtic crosses. The site now sits in a modern graveyard, and there are headstones littered about, even inside the ruins of the old abbey. The circular tower was used by the abbey to protect themselves and their possessions from bandits, and the marauding vikings. The site was interesting, but being in the middle of a current graveyard did not really do it justice.

Our trip was ending. One more good pub meal, a Guinness for Phil, a night in a great B&B and an early flight home. Overall, a great visit. The sun shone when we needed it to, and it rained when it didnt matter. We saw some fantastic sites (the causeway coast was just, simply, awesome) and had a great family holiday.

Brú Na Bóinne

After leaving Sligo we had a pleasant overnight stay in Westport, on the western coast of Ireland. The B&B that we stayed in was called 'Augusta Lodge', and was very much into golf. So much so that the front lawn was converted into a giant putting green, with fake grass, cups and flags set out for putting practice. Whilst Nicole continued to finalise her studies for the semester, Phil and the boys played golf. The boys got the hang of putting, and by the end Alexander was sinking 10 footers with (scary) regularity! Cameron loved the long 'hail mary's', and dropped a few of these as well.

On Sunday, we had hoped to stop at a few museums and see a few sites on our way to our overnighter - however, everything was closed. We ended up having a lovely afternoon stroll and afternoon tea in Carrick-on-Shannon, before staying at a B&B which we found out later translates to 'the dump', but was anything but!

On our final full day, we struck out for the East coast, and Brú Na Bóinne. This was a historic site that was highly regarded, and we drove two hours in the rain to get there. As soon as we arrived the skies cleared!

We went on a tour to a fascinating site - what they call a passage tomb. It is massive, and is built on the top of a hill. A guide took us up to the site, and explained the history of the site and some of the thoughts as to why it was here, and what role it served. After this we entered the chamber inside the tomb. The place is 5000 years old, and is magnificently constructed and preserved. The roof of the chamber rises overhead, and the stones were placed in such a way that all water runs away from the chamber, and inside was perfectly dry. There were three alcoves, each containing a large basin stone. In these, remains of cremated bones were found when they first discovered the site.

The entry passage has a small 'window' built above it - and its purpose is revealed only every winter solstice. Because of surrounding hills, sunlight does not pass through the door. At dawn, when the sun rises over the surrounding hills, it shines through this window box, into the passage, and due to the gentle rise of the passage, the sunlight at the solstice lights up the floor of the central chamber. Absolutely awesome design.

The interesting thing is that the light of the equinox has moved to the right over time with the wobble of the earth. Alexander asked the guide when it would be back in the middle. The cycle is 27000 years long, so in 22000 years it will be back in the middle again!

The site was incredibly impressive, and the visitors centre was top notch as well. We spent several hours there, and it was really worth the visit (the coffee in the cafe was also excellent!)

A life size model of how experts think the people of the stone age lived. There were no photos allowed in the tomb, but the visitor cetnre had models of the inside of the passge tomb!