Thursday, 18 December 2008

Miscellaneous post

I thought I hadn't written for absolutely ages,I can't believe it's only been 4 days.Madness.A lot has been going on.A hell of a lot more than normal.It seems SHers become 100 times more sociable over the Christmas period :)

Actually I wrote about dinner at my colleague's house the other week.I should have learnt then that red wine,warmth and low lighting don't make a good combination.But I didn't.Anyway,I went to church on Tuesday night (a nice old maritime church down by the fjord) for Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium.Apparantly it's German tradition (nationwide or just SH I don't know) to go and see it performed every year.Thankfully it was only the first 3 parts (not that I didn't like it or anything,but wow,church pews are uncomfortable after 10 minutes).Was invited back to someone's house for Glühwein and waffles (another tradition) afterwards,but was too tired,and anyway,I can't speak German very well after a certain time.Unless I've had a bit to drink,then I'm on form :) On the way back,I chatted to a friend of a friend in the car- he asked where I'm from,as is customary,so I said "Kent.And Surrey" Which he thought was hilarious and told me I didn't need to apologise.This isn't the first time someone has mistaken Surrey for Sorry,so I should have been prepared and said Guildford instead.But I thought it was quite amusing.Sometimes you do feel like apologising after imparting the news that one is from Kent :)

Anyway.Yesterday I had the choice of staying in the office on my own (or so I thought) or going to a meeting in Hamburg.I chose Hamburg in the end,despite having reservations for many reasons.And it was a great day.We had an epic tube fail on the Hamburg U-Bahn (which incidentally is so clean and unbusy,it's unreal),and ended up being very late for our appointment.Anyway,after all that we went to the Hamburger Weihnachtsmarkt,which,from what I saw of it,was amazing.Father Christmas was in his sleigh with reindeers in the sky,and just as we turned up he was making some speech and then whizzed off across the square leaving a trail of pyrotechnics.It was cool.The market is in the Rathausplatz,in front of the most amazing town hall I've seen.Ours is flash inside,and alright on the outside...and the Queen of Sweden has been there and had a party,but the Hamburg version is much better.We only hung around for Glühwein (which I really don't like that much) though,before going off to find something to eat.By the way,I discovered the phrase "I just want a sausage,I don't give a shit about anything else" said in a Manchester accent is very funny indeed.Anyway,after 4 failures at German,Irish,Italian and Spanish restaurants- we ended up having tapas in a Portuguese place.Was quite nice,although I freaked out when I accidentally put a baby octopus on my plate.I'm no animal rights person at all and find meals without meat boring as hell,but when the animal is complete with face and everything sitting in front of you,you really get a bad conscience.And plus,I don't even like seafood.

There was lots of wine involved,red,as mentioned,which was nice,but wow,I felt it on the way back and this morning.I have no idea what being drunk is like,but red wine just makes me really very tired indeed,especially when combined with warmth and low light.Gave me a headache on the train too,which lasted until this morning...but I still went to work.Brave me :) Was nice to speak English last night too,it feels so strange.There were a few native English speakers there,and that's fine,but speaking English to my colleagues feels so odd,and I had to switch back to German sometimes.

Today was our Christmas party.That's all I really want to say about that :) Nice biscuits though.And some of the peeps from the English teaching group I visit once a month were there.One of them I love very much in a Jeremy Spake way,and one whose English is so brilliant it's annoying :) We chatted in English and German,about weddings and the likes.She's just one of quite a lot of people who tell me my German is really good (as it should be after 10 years,and of 4 months of living here!),but I just can't see it really.As soon as someone says that,I mess the next sentence up.It's annoying.

Anyway.Tomorrow is the last day.I have a 3 page translation to do and another big thing that I really should get finished but know I won't.Then there's my trip to the tea shop with my favourite Mitarbeiter,and I really must finish Christmas shopping.I bought something amazing for Keira today for 50 cents,she'd better like it :) Have finished packing just about,and so all that's really left to do tomorrow is sort out what music and pictures to take back with me.I acquired a USB stick today (EU flag on it of course),which is the same capacity as my ipod,so I think I should have enough room.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

I believe we were meant to be

I have a new favourite song in the world ever.For probably the next 2 days or something.Just like Jakob Sveistrup's Hvem er Venner was my favourite song ever for the middle of last week.I've only heard it twice,but wow,isn't Sanna Nielsen's Impatiently Waiting For You bloody amazing? Yes,it is,that's the right answer.I've never heard any of her stuff before,but somehow came across this and I love it.Partly (mostly?) because it kind of reminds me of Celine's I Drove All Night in a way (in musical terms of course,lyrically it's kind of the complete opposite).It's so upbeat and I love how the verse kind of builds up to the fabulous schlager-lite chorus with its simple but effective lyrics.It's wonderful.Listen.

OK,I realise this should be over on WYM,but it's a bit busy what with all the top 50 stuff going on at the minute,you know?

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Stationery binge

I've been feeling a bit bored and rubbish lately,and the only way for curing such a situation in SH is of course to go to Flensburg.Also,having just bought some shoes with which I can walk around freely and happily in shopping centres without sliding everywhere,I thought it would be a great opportunity to try them out :)

Actually my plan for today was to nip over the border to Padborg in Denmark (10 minutes from Flensburg) in the hope that they have a Tiger there.Why you all ask?Well,having come across a few blogs last night that mention scrapbooking,I decided I want my own.A proper posh one.So I thought I'd go to Tiger and stock up on lots of cheap,lovely stationery.But I didn't bother in the end because Flensburg is so great,it turns out it has a Tiger of its own.More expensive than the ones in Denmark (!),but still full of great things.Combined with a trip to McPaper (I love that name) downstairs in the Flensburg Gallerie,Karstadt,Rossman and Scandinovum (the posh Scandinavian homeware shop),I collected all of this stuff...

How super.

Oh,and by the way- here's an actual quite good picture of Flensburg.I took 2 today.

It's pretty...

Friday, 12 December 2008

Look at my beautiful shoes!

I went in Deichmann with the intention of looking for work shoes- having found some nice brown ones somewhere else,but didn't buy them because a- I was put off by the fact they were imported.From Leicester. And b- They didn't fit anyway.But they didn't have any decent ones in Deichmann so I started looking for some Arseniy Borodin stylee Converse type boot things like he wore in FZ.And I came across these...

Reduced to €14,90!

If ever a pair of shoes were made for me,it's these.Norwegian flag...1986...They're even 5 1/2- my real size!I love them.And will be going out somewhere tomorrow wearing a skirt so the good people of SH can see them and love them too :)

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Gimme gimme gimme a (German) man after midnight?

So...what's been going on lately then? Well.After my day at parliament on Monday,myself and my colleague had a chat over some very British snacks laid on by the lovely parliament people (cheese on a stick,chicken kebabs covered in sesame seeds,mini pizzas,it was wonderful).We were constantly interrupted,but in a good way- by waitresses offering us drinks,it was great,I've never been to such a function :) But like last Thursday,it was nice to have a proper talk to someone outside of a work capacity.It seems we're in pretty similar situations too (SH outsiders that is),which was quite nice to hear.

On Tuesday we all went to another colleagues house for dinner,which was lovely.Dinner and the evening in general that is.Have decided I want my own house,and now!Or a flat will do.Either way I want to live like a real person when I get back to the UK,and not in crappy university accommodation.I'd rather sew my own eyelids shut than live on campus.Better thread my needle then I suppose...Anyway,yes it was nice.Some of the people I work with make me laugh so much- unintentionally a lot of the time.But I know I do that too,so it all balances out :)

After erm...discussing various people from other departments who I only really know by name,we got onto the subject of men.Now apparantly,a survey was done here a while ago that discovered that British women like German men more than any other men in Europe.True?Can't say I've heard of it myself.But I announced that I need to find myself a nice German man to marry anyway.They suggested a few,and said they'd keep a lookout for me.After that I just remember drinking a lot of wine and feeling very tired,and then I was late for work the next day.Oops.

So today,I hear some peeps talking at the other end of our corridor about some appointment they're going to.I hear: "ah you could take Rachel with you" / "no,Mr (whoever) is married already" / "Aaah."

Why do I get the feeling next week's Christmas party is going to be a bit embarassing...?

Monday, 8 December 2008

Abenteuer des Tages

Today I was at the SH state parliament,and I didn't even realise :/ Now I get why it was posh.It'll be in the news tomorrow,so I shall link you up tomorrow falls ihr Interesse habt.I'm sure they'll have written it up in an exciting way.This all just seals the deal for me though.My placement is better than anyone else's and that's final.I've been to meetings at the Ministries of Environment and Justice,done some translation work for a very very important meeting concerning a rather worldwide issue,and now I've been to parliament.Without knowing.I bet no one else I know has done anything half as exciting as that.Although that's about it now,I have one more "business trip" ;) in Flensburg in January,but that's it.Schade.

There was a mix up in transport today,meaning I had to get the bus there on my own.And I paid.Not on the way back though,I felt €2,20 was more than enough bus fare for today.Really must stop not paying for the bus (or,really must start paying for the bus,whichever).That's 3 times this week I've got away with it now :/ God bless Kiel's bendy buses with their 2 entrances,one of which the driver can't really see.

In other SH news,yes I've just started reading the Kieler Nachrichten,a bit late maybe,but whatever.In other SH news,apparantly,900 tonnes of that dodgy Irish pork has arrived in SH.Yeah,899 tonnes of it being in our canteen.Seriously,the amount of pork based stuff we've had the last few weeks has been well,a dream if you like pork I suppose.Which I don't.I do love my salami smørbrød in the mornings,and the mushrooms in garlic sauce at the Weihnachtsmarkt were lovely,but German food and me really don't get on in general.I can't wait for bacon and corned beef in the UK.Again.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Simply having a very Danish Christmas time*

So.Tønder.Where to start?

It's boring.Probably as boring as Esbjerg I'd say,just smaller,and with less of the Medway-feel about it.Although sitting outside a TV shop (køb i dag,betal om 270 dagen!) it said on the window (buy today,pay in 270 days),eating the biggest slice of pizza in the world and watching overweight women in tracksuits smoking and talking loudly,I did feel a bit nostalgic for Gillingham.Seriously,how South Denmark isn't a popular tourist destination for Medwegians,I don't know.Probably because the Medwegians would feel threatened and intimidated by the Danes' flawless English.

Anyway.I'm not slagging Denmark off,as much as it might look like it.Yesterday was a nice day out.I even got this on the train/1960s bus straight out of Heartbeat from Niebüll to Tønder...

OK,he'd melted a bit by the time he got back to Germany,unlike me,who had semi frozen.

Anyway,here's 8 observations about Tønder:

1- Kebab 2000 is wonderful

If you ever find yourself in Tønder,do yourself a favour and get on down to Kebab 2000 on Vestergade and have ham and cheese pizza.It's gorgeous and huge.And only 25 kroner.

2- Det gamle Apotek is magical

Det gamle Apotek (the old chemist) is very old indeed (over 400 years I think),and at Christmas time is rammed with people and christmas stuff.I bought some nice lace-like tree decorations- 5 for 30 kroner.Bargain.

3- The river is pretty

I think it's the River Vidå.It's nice to walk along,I cut through a little housing estate thing and went over the bridge and along the banks,looking at the hundreds of ducks.

4- Danes are generous

On Vestergade it seems you're never more than 100metres away from a public toilet.And they're clean,and they're free! Germany,you can learn a lot from your neighbours- Deutsche Bahn@Flensburg station- you in particular.You really do have the worst toilets I've seen in a long time.*Shudder*

5- Tønder is full of Germans

Why this is surprising I don't know.It's practically a border town,and you don't even use Danske Statsbaner to get there.You don't even show your passport when you get off like you do in Padborg.But anyway,there are lots of German cars and German tourists everywhere.I've been here long enough to feel like northern Germans are my people,and so I felt slightly embarassed at the very annoying behaviour of some of them.Also,just like the Brits,none of them speak Danish,preferring the Danes to talk German to them.Which they do very well.Trilingual peeps,I'm jealous.

6- The charity workers are really sweet

I've successfully managed to dodge all the charity workers in Kiel and elsewhere in SH (apart from a guy outside Commerzbank and another one outside Woolworths who wanted to give me books...),but the peeps in Tønder were having none of it.I don't know what their charity was,but a very happy girl came up to me and said something in Danish

Me- Sorry,I don't speak Danish
Her- Ooh,where are you from?
Me- Britain,but I live in Germany
Her- Wow,that's awesome...OK,I won't bother you anymore then.Have a nice day! (Typical Scandinavian conversation-ender)

5 minutes later I walk back up Vestergade and she tries again

Me- I'm the British one!
Her- Oh! Sorry,I see so many people,I forget

There was a hell of a lot of people out yesterday,I'll agree.

6- Scandinavian design is the best

The Scandinavian homeware shops in Flensburg last week fuelled my passion for erm,Scandinavian homeware.And yesterday I spent many a minute pondering over the fabulous white gold George Jensen Christmas decorations and gorgeous Lene Bjerre cushion covers.In the end I bought 2 Holmegaard shot glasses...

(Had to take the picture from the Holmegaard site,as my camera doesn't like taking pictures without a flash)

They're great,I'll probably never use them,but I couldn't pass by the possibility of some funky Danish designer glassware for 100 kroner :)

7- The Christmas train is amusing

A big green Christmas train went up and down Vestergade a few times.There were a few kids and their parents on it,but the driver in his flashing Santa hat seemed the most cheerful of them all.Father Christmas was also walking leisurely up and down the street.I walked past him a few times trying not to "lol" when he said "ho ho ho." Of course that's what all Santas say,but there's just something funny about it when it's the only phrase they say :)

8- Tiger is amazing

Just as Poundland is rammed on a Saturday afternoon in Chatham,such was Tiger yesterday.They sell really cool things actually,well,tat,but nice tat.I really wanted one of the greetings cards with the Russian doll on,but they didn't sell them individually.As I've noticed in Denmark before- prices are often given as 3 for 10 kroner or whatever,there's no price for 1.They had a fabulous floral print stapler for 10 kroner that I really wanted,and am now kicking myself for not buying.Kick kick.

So there you go.Go to Tønder if you're a shopping loving German from SH in search of some good bargains.Or if you like ducks.If not,well,probably don't go,it's a bit of an effort to get there otherwise.

Oh,and by the way- 4 hours was more than enough.After 3,I went and sat at the station for an hour.To be fair,there are museums there,but by that point I'd run out of kroner :/ It's easily done.

*There's more on the Christmas theme to be said,but I'll write about that another time.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Have a good Denmark day

Tomorrow I'm getting the NOB to Husum.NOBs are blue and pretty...

But their timing is awful.They don't seem to run regularly at all,meaning I'll have a grand total of 4 hours to look around Tønder before coming back to Germany at the shockingly late time of 2.30pm.I don't mind really.As me and Keira have been discussing- there isn't an awful lot of daylight these days,so I'm glad I don't have to wait around in deepest darkest Denmark in the erm,dark.I don't normally spend more than 4 hours anywhere anyway,it's a bit boring on your own,and Tønder doesn't look like the biggest of cities.Still though- "what did you do this weekend then?" "Oh,I went to Denmark for a few hours".Mmm...

Anyway,in honour of my trip,here's the greatest ever Danish band singing (probably) the greatest ever Danish song.No it isn't Hej Matematik.

Pictures and stuff tomorrow.You know the score.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Wieder Urlaub

The Literaturhaus event thing was quite fun.A local author was reading the book my colleagues got me for my birthday,which was pretty cool.I haven't read much of it yet,so was nice to know what happens.I love the fact it's set in Kiel and there's lots of local references,a lot of which are quite amusing.I reckon even if you've only lived here for a month,you could appreciate them.The crappy weather,the crappy radio stations,Northerners being a bit...different.It's funny.

Was also really nice to have a proper chat with one of my colleagues.I went to her flat before we went to the LH,and we didn't stop talking the whole time there,on the bus,on the way to the LH.And all the way back too.Very refreshing.Have officially decided that my German is now better.Not because of the conversation :) Just in general.Although on Tuesday I was chatting to one of RH's friends,and it seems the longer I talk,the faster I talk,until I end up speaking twice as fast as any normal German would.And I have to control the emotion thing too.The way I say things scares me sometimes.

Anyway.I have tomorrow off.Gott sei Dank.Will probably do not very much,and erm,will probably end up going to the office at some point :/ But I want to look around the Weihnachtsmarkt properly- I've seen some really cool things there,and chocolate covered strawberries too,which are always exciting for Rye Experience veterans.Maybe I'll go to Eutin or somewhere for a while,but probably not.On Saturday I'm most probably going to Tønder in Denmark.Alarmingly when I click on the website link,it takes me to the official website for Esbjerg :/ It's in Sønderjylland of course,but much further down the coast- practically on the border.Not on the Flensburg side though,this time I'll have to go through Frisia,through Husum and Niebüll,which will hopefully be a more interesting journey than from here to FBurg.Anyway,Tønder is apparantly known for its Christmas "events".There's something happening on Saturday called Spejderjul,whatever that is.I'm sure it will be lovely.I'm quite looking forward to going actually- it looks a cool place.But then again,so did Esbjerg.

Well fact fans,did you know that the name Tønder actually comes from an Arabic word- turndira? And that...oh wait,that's the only vaguely interesting thing I could find.

Muesli muesli mjam mjam mjam

Going out with RH is an experience I probably wouldn't like to repeat.Her friends are lovely,but she's one of these people who- when she has a "funny" story to tell- goes on and on and on.And she's so loud.Ugh.The Christmas market was nice though- can't say the same about the Amaretto Mandelpunsch I had,but the banana and nutella grape was wonderful,and the mushrooms with garlic sauce were too.Mmmm...

More about that and everything else from this week another time anyway,I'm off to meet one of my colleagues at her new flat soon and then we're all going to a book reading thing.Am very tired,but it should be interesting.

I just wanted to share this video- it's great.At RH's friend's flat the other night,we watched some TV Total- a bit like TV Burp but with Stefan Raab.It looks a great programme,I wish I had volume on my telly :( Anyway,it led me to find some other bits on youtube- the parody gameshow Superbrain,featuring the silliest answers from various real German gameshows.

I'll translate the questions for anyone who doesn't speak/read German,although you can probably work it out from the bits afterwards...

1: Which chocolate bar has the same name as the Roman God of war? Snickers
2: Which organ is responsible for blood circulation? The spleen
3: What do the anti-nuclear badges say- "nuclear power,no...")? No [should be thanks]
4: Brows,lids and lashes protect which sense organ? The face
5: What football league was founded in 1963? FC Koeln
6: To go shopping in Duesseldorf,which state would you have to go to? Rheinland-Westfalen
7: On which mode of transport would you normally find a figurehead? Traffic lights (!)
8: Doesn't make sense in English,but she has to complete the name of a TV show about conmen,and says "combine harvester"
9: What's another name for mumps? Mince
10: What do you call a cheerleaders' tassley balls? Tampons
11: Is Montreux in Switzerland or Timbuktu? Timbuktu

Love it!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

I was just thinking...

Is it normal to come home and immediately turn the light off in the hallway?Don't most people like it on when it's dark so they can like,you know,see where they're going?No?My mistake.

Off to the Christmas Market with RH in an hour- we had a brief conversational exchange for the first time in 4 days.

RH (quite excitedly,it must be said)- Shall we go at 6.20?
Me- Yeah OK (times are notoriously annoying in other languages,so I thought I'd check) twenty past?
RH- Twenty...past six
Me- OK

RH goes in her room and shuts the door.

Wow,we're like BFFs!!!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Here I am I'm going crazy...

...coz I miss every little thing (s)he does?

Tonight I've been mostly: eating Pom-Bär (ketchup flavour apparantly),drinking Faxe (the best Danish beer apparantly),listening to power ballads (James's influence) and watching the odd Chelsi video (the best Russian boyband ever...definitely!).Oh,and erm,finding youtube video links on certain parts of the hard drive.

I don't talk about stuff on here that involves anyone who doesn't read PVE- some things are just well,private.But occasionally something crops up that you think about a lot and make you wonder if you've done the right thing or not.Or what you should do,if anything.And although maybe advice would be nice- it's a bit difficult when you haven't told anyone what you're thinking,or your reasoning why (mostly because people would probably question your reasoning as being very unfounded indeed),so I suppose I'll just have to agonise a bit more :) One thing's for sure,I wouldn't be thinking about it as much if I had some bloody company.Hmph.

Anyway.I've been asking myself again whether it was worth coming to SH,as opposed to any other part of Germany.I chose to come here.Everyone else had chosen a main option and a back-up in case they didn't get it.But I was quite clear that I only wanted to come to Kiel,despite knowing nothing whatsoever about the job,the town,nothing.Actually,I noticed from an old MSN conversation I read a few weeks ago- I didn't even know where Kiel was a year ago :/.Right now I'm still not sure if it was worth it.I'm leaning heavily towards the "yes it was" side of things,but I don't really know.


Today I did a bad thing and forgot to take down the details of an important person calling from a Norwegian ministry.I'm hoping he was so important that the person who should have taken the call would be in no doubt who it was when she saw the number :) She didn't say anything to me about it,so I'm assuming I'm right.I read a lot of articles on various websites and blogs,some of which I really have to write about soon.I have a big massive draft post I wrote the other day actually,until someone (mother probably) appeared on MSN and started bothering me and I couldn't be bothered to finish it.English was cancelled Gott sei Dank.Only one guy turned up,and bless him,we've done it on our own twice before I think,so I didn't want to put him through that again.He's lovely,he's from da East.(Ex) East Germany that is,not the eastside of the fjord which is supposedly teeming with violence.So anyway,then I read a few more articles and came home,via the Sparkassen Arena (they're still doing work on it- that's at least 6 months I know of now) where the Coca-Cola truck was.I didn't realise they actually had the Coke advert here,but then with a volumeless telly,that's no surprise I guess.

Tomorrow I have a phonecall to expect- the person I spoke to today blatantly didn't understand me and so is passing me over to someone else who probably won't either.Oh well.Then apparantly after work I'm going to the old Weihnachtsmarkt with RH,although I've heard no more news about it since the weekend.Maybe there'll be a post-it on the table in the hallway tomorrow.We can only hope.