Thursday, 31 July 2008

I wanted a genuine foreign adventure...

Inspired by Keira's review from last week,and also because I'll watch anything French really,I've just bought and watched Paris Je t'Aime.For someone with a short attention span,a film consisting of 18 vignettes lasting no more than 10 minutes each seemed perfect.For some of the segments though,even 10 minutes seemed too long.On the whole,it is a great film,so I don't want to mention the bad bits so much,however,some bits were just plain silly- sometimes in a funny way,sometimes in a "what's the point of this?" way.I'm thinking about the vampire scene in Quartier de la Madeleine in particular.It's completely over-the-top and ridiculous,but then again,maybe that's the point of it.It just seems a shame that it's so Hollywood-like when the rest of the film really isn't.From the reviews I've read,people seem to like it,but that's probably at least partly due to the fact that Elijah Wood is in it.The parts in the printshop in Le Marais and the hair salon in Porte de Choisy are also ones that I don't get.

The rest of the film more than makes up for these segments though.Some of my favourites are the ones set in: Quais de Seine (there are some nice young men after all),Faubourg Saint-Denis (very clever if not slightly predictable),Père-Lachaise (a bit silly,but the acting is really good) and Place des Fêtes (very sad,mostly because it's so realistic).

The best ones for me though were the one in Bastille.The use of the narrator and unanimous advice-giving from the random people in the bar are very reminiscent of Amélie,and although it's a sad story,it's comedic in places too.The final line "and even now,years later,his heart still lurches at the sight of a woman in a red trench coat" made me rather emotional.With some of the shorts,you get the feeling that the story really shouldn't end where it does,but this one is very concise.

Also,the final vignette "14e arrondissement" is great.A lot of people agree according to the message boards on IMDB.It's a really good ending to the film,very positive too after some of the tragic but real stories that come before.I could definitely empathise with Carol,the protagonist- although I might not necessarily feel the same about Paris,I've certainly experienced what she's experienced in other places.

So,in conclusion- watch it!There's something for everyone,whether it's vampires you like or not.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Telly roundup...and some fabulous shoes

Apart from the ski jumping fun,I've been enjoying a whole lot of things on telly this week.Namely...


  • Eastenders: This may or may not just be because Sean Slater is gorgeous...
  • Gok Wan's Fashion Fix: I saw Gok on Jonathan Ross's programme the other week and concluded that he's fabulous (Gok that is,not Jonathan),and some of the outfits for work that he came up with this week were very cool indeed.Oh,and I discovered I have nearly exactly the same glasses as him :)
  • Who Dares Sings: Well OK,I can't say I really enjoyed this,and the image of Ben Shepherd singing It's Raining Men will stay with me for a while.But there was a guy from Rochester on there,so it was pretty cool to see a fellow Medwegian on telly.He lost by the way.
  • The Kevin Bishop Show: Genius!So many sketches that I can hardly remember any now,but I do remember I loved Bruce Forsyth's audition for The Shining :) I hope Kevin brings back George Michael from Star Stories at some point too...
  • Top Gear: Can't believe it's finished already :(
  • Return to Airport: Finished this week too :( Still,I've just bought Jeremy Spake's autobiography from Amazon :)
  • Long Way Round: My Sunday night travel fix.Charley and Ewan have just been through Kazakhstan,Russia (we saw Barnaul,where Arseniy Borodin is from!) and Mongolia.As scary as it looked in places,it's made me want to go around Central Asia even more.
  • Francesco's Mediterranean Voyage: Still loving this programme.Where else could you get to see amazingly beautiful scenery as well as the rapping mayor of Tirana and a monastery at the top of a very high cliff? Francesco's great too- I'm not sure,but I think I might like him even more than Michael Palin :)

So yes,apart from London on Thursday,I've pretty much done nothing but watch telly :/ I did find the time today however,to purchase these fabulous shoes...


For work,obviously :)


Oh,and I've been telling Marco jokes.He finds them hilarious...

Maybe I was wrong...

Despite my excitement about the ski jumping at Hinterzarten this weekend,I stupidly managed to miss the individuals competition this morning.Grrrr!Since when did they have competitions at 10 in the morning anyway?Oh well,I'll definitely remember to watch the highlights tomorrow.Anyway,I am reliably informed by good old Salzburger Nachrichten that Georg Späth won today.Combined with Germany's great performance yesterday in the team competition (was it something like 940 points?),maybe they'll be a bit of a surprise (for me) this season...

Two other things to mention;
1- I've discovered Hinterzarten is in Baden-Würrtemburg,meaning it's not too far from Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Oberstdorf.I knew I should have applied for Freiburg University for the placement year!Imagine spending New Year at the Four Hills tournament...Still,there's always Lahti in February to look forward to :)
2- In other German news,the last in the series of Top Gear tonight apparantly sees Clarkson,May and Hammond having a series of silly races against the presenters of the German equivalent of Top Gear.Should be quite fun :)

Friday, 25 July 2008

The season has begun!

12 hours later and all the sugar has left my bloodstream and I feel a lot better :)

Now, Friday evenings are pretty boring in this house after 10.30pm when 8 Out of 10 Cats has finished- or rather this week,the very clever and funny Kevin Bishop Show (he's from Kent you know :) ),so all that's left to do is trawl the internet for something interesting.For some reason I thought I'd have a look at Gregor Schlierenzauer's website (very talented indeed Austrian ski-jumping cutie),and it's just as well I did,because I discovered that the season (or the Grand Prix anyway) has already started and there's two competitions in Hinterzarten this weekend.How exciting!I'm sure this is quite a bit earlier than usual...

Anyway,I predict this season will be dominated by the Austrians again- Morgi and Schlieri are still miles better than practically everyone else.And then of course there's the Norwegians who are always exciting to watch.Both Tom Hilde and Anders Bardal had (for me anyway) surprisingly good seasons last time around,hopefully it'll be the same this time.It's a shame there'll be no competition in Oslo in March,it'll be strange not seeing Holmenkollen on telly,but I think it's all going to be quite exciting.I only hope I can get Eurosport on my telly in Germany :/

Maths

People say that sugar and cheese in large amounts are bad for you.I can confirm this is true...
Me+1,4 litres Coke+0,4 litres Fanta+100g Dairy Milk+Jari Sillanpää's Party 4 Love+lack of sleep=Bad combination.

Raspberries,Roses and wet celebrities

I think that just about sums up the day I've had.Before it leaves my memory,I must mention my train trip back to Kent,which was the most amusing I've had in a long time.

Two Chinese-American guys who were as camp as a row of pink tents were sitting either side of the table next to me,leafing through Men's Health (it's like soft porn for gay men apparantly.Not my words,theirs) talking about fashion victims and ugly women etc.They kept coming out with classic ridiculous quotes such as "I've never met anyone who'd sleep with him [Cristiano Ronaldo]: man,woman or dog"/"Do you have bad vision and you have to taste the air?" (long story)/"How many Chinese people can you fit on a train?Like,a million" They then decided to include the guy next to them in their conversation.His name was Craig,the word stunning wouldn't do him justice,and he's a guitarist.He was also quite clearly straight,and certainly got an education tonight about things he really probably didn't want to know.Poor guy,apparantly he'd been travelling all day,probably thought he'd have a nice quiet trip back to Kent but instead got embroiled in pretty gross conversation and will have some nice mental images to take home :)

There were some other interesting train experiences on the underground this evening,but those are probably best left unmentioned,as me and Keira don't want to be known as idiots forevermore :)

As mentioned last week,me and Keira went up to London to watch exciting new BBC series Hole In the Wall,based on a Russian game show called Stenka na Stenku.OK,so it's Japanese really,but I've only seen the Russian one,so that's the only one that counts :) If you haven't seen it basically there's a bunch of celebrities who take turns to stand on the edge of a pool of allegedly freezing cold water.A polystyrene wall with an amusing shape cut into it comes towards them (at quite a high speed actually),and they have to make the same shape to get through the hole,otherwise they get pushed in the water by the wall.It really is as ridiculous as it sounds.But it was a lot of fun to watch.

Presented by the light-entertainment god that is Dale Winton,the teams tonight were led by Anton du Beke (he seems nice,I like him) and Darren Gough (I also like him).On Anton's team were Mickey from Eastenders and Vanessa Feltz.On Darren's team were Angelica Bell and (most excitingly of all) Alex from The Apprentice.Seriously,he's so bloody gorgeous.Even in a tight silver waterproof suit and blue crash helmet.Mmmm.......He's so tall and lovely.....Probably even lovelier than Craig...

Anyway,it all seemed to go quite quickly,which was probably just as well seeing how uncomfortable BBC seating is.It was a pretty small studio actually,compared to the Stenka Na Stenku one on Channel 1.We have our own ideas about Channel 1 audiences,but that's another story...It was good fun,we were within touching distance of Dale (!) at one point,and we had chocolate thrown at us too.We noticed a few differences between Stenka Na Stenku and our version,and I also learnt that Vanessa Feltz can be pretty annoying.Oh yes.Now I know I've never had a wall come at me and whatever speed it was,but I just can't imagine it being as painful on the shoulder as she claimed it was.Seriously love,if Aleksei Korzin,who is the width of a very skinny stick and looks like he'd break if you poked him,can take it,I'm sure you can.

Now I'm not sure exactly when in September this episode will be shown,but apparantly it'll be on just before Strictly Come Dancing :/ By which time anyway,I'll be in Germany and won't be able to watch the finished product :( Still,you should watch it,it's good :)

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

He loves me he loves me not

What better way to spend a nice sunny afternoon than watching a film about a psychotic Frenchwoman?He Loves Me He Loves Me Not (known in French as À la folie... pas du tout) is one of my favourite films- if you see it you'll probably think I'm very mad indeed to say that- but it is a very interesting story,filmed in a very clever way,and probably one of the main reasons that I like it is because the main character Angélique is played by Audrey Tautou (probably my favourite actress).Without giving too much away,Angélique is madly in love with cardiologist Loïc,a married man about to become a father.She's waiting for him to leave his wife so they can embark on a great new life together,starting with a dream holiday in Florence.But all is not as it seems...
The film is pretty disturbing in places,but it is definitely worth watching.I think I've seen it 3 or 4 times now,but it was only today that I realised what the song on the closing credits is.It's a very suitable song actually- the film brings a whole new meaning to "I'll wait for you forever,even if I'm wasting my time."

Monday, 21 July 2008

Magnetic North...

Is a programme on BBC4 in an hour's time in which...

Jonathan Meades travels from the flatlands of Flanders to Germany's spectacular Baltic coast in an attempt to decipher exactly what northernness entails. Is it to be found in gothic spires, herrings, grotesquerie, fantastical skylines or creepily dark woods?

Hopefully they'll mention Kiel.
*Squeak of excitement* :)

Sunday, 20 July 2008

5 Things to love about Kiel

1- The Kieler Förde



Not the prettiest fjord in the world,the Kieler Förde really does look like the Oslofjord in places,but is far more lively.There were hundreds of sailing boats around when we took our first trip up to Laboe,whether this is a regular occurance or if it was just people taking advantage of the super weather or if they were just suffering withdrawal from the recently ended Kieler Woche (the biggest sailing event in the world with 3 million visitors a year,and one of the biggest events in Northern Europe),I'm not sure.But it was nice to see so many people around.And the ferry boats are very nice too.

2- Laboe



OK so not quite Kiel but Laboe is only 10km away from the city.It takes an hour to get there by ferry bus,although it doesn't seem that long.Perfect white beaches are not really what I expected from the Baltic coast,so it was a nice surprise.Laboe is clearly a holiday destination mostly visited by Germans,and there are some pretty fabulous 5* villas on the seafront.It's so so quiet there too,it must be a very relaxing place to go on holiday.They also sell really nice coffee ice cream there(about 50p for a cone),and on the beach there's lots of European flags.Fabulous!

3- Food



They do love their fish in Kiel as you'd expect from a coastal town.Branches of Nordsee are everywhere as well as independent stalls selling fish-based snacks.I don't normally like fish but some of these things looked pretty nice indeed.I think it would take about 3 years to try everything on the menu at Nordsee,but I've got 5 months,I'll do my best :) Better than fish frikadellen though,are the hot dogs.Hot dog stalls are everywhere too,and although the bratwurst are lovely (we found it quite amusing that they give you an absolutely huge sausage in a little round hamburger type roll),the Danish hot dogs are by far the best thing we ate.I think they're called Danish because of the remoulade (a kind of creamy mayonnaisy mustard stuff with pickled cabbage)that comes with them.I've had remoulade before at the Nordic Bar in London with fishcakes,and I think it's probably the best sauce in the world ever.Also good about Danish hot dogs is that at one place on Holstentraße you can get 2 of them with a big plate of nice seasoned chips for just over 4 quid.Nice!

4- Scandinavian Influence



Throughout its history Kiel,like the rest of Schleswig-Holstein,has been passed about between Germany and Denmark.Having studied all this in German History last year,I wondered what effect it had on the city today.Actually,having only been to one place in Scandinavia (Oslo) and one place in Germany (Aachen),it's pretty pointless trying to assess the level of Scandinavian-ness in Kiel :) All I can really say is that quite a few people in Kiel seem to have Scandinavian sounding names,there are some of the same shops that you'd find in Oslo (such as Cubus,and another one I've forgotten the name of :/ ),and I did see a few Danish flags around too.However,there are of course many many Swedish and Norwegian tourists around the city at any one time thanks to the daily arrival of Stena Line ferries from Göteborg and Color Line ones from Oslo.This means there are various restaurants and things with signs and menus written in Swedish/Norwegian,and there seem to be quite a few places where you can buy Swedish or Norwegian flags too.Interesting...

5- Shopping



This picture is of Holstentraße which I mentioned before.It's one of the main shopping streets in the city and can get pretty busy even on weekday afternoons.You've got your international chains such as H&M and Zara,as well as German fashion shops like Madonna (which is cool,quirky and cheap) and also the fabulous Konditorei Fiedler where they make amazing cakes and marzipan characters which are so cute you probably wouldn't want to eat them.At the end of Holstentraße is Sophienhof- the city's only shopping centre I think.It can get very crowded,but there's some quite nice shops,and also some really interesting sculptures and 3D artwork going on too.


More to come later...

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Shopping

So this week began the complex task of purchasing clothes to wear at work in Germany despite not knowing if they have a dress code/what the dress code is/if they might even have a uniform (I so hope not).But having recently acquired funds for a whole new wardrobe and having nothing whatsoever to do here,I thought it was time I went shopping properly.

Disappointingly the only thing I found in Copenhagen Blue was a top that was cut in such an annoying way that I just couldn't fit my right arm in it.I've come to accept that in Scandinavian clothes I am size XL (how depressing is that when you're a UK size 12?!),but even if I'd tried an XXXXXXL (if such a thing existed in Scandinavia),I doubt it would have fit.

To get round the dress code thing,I've been buying stuff that I'd wear outside of work too.I hate the view that a white shirt,black trousers and a black jacket are the ONLY things you can wear to look smart,because it's just not true.So I bought an Elena Temnikova-from-Serebro inspired dress...



and some pretty fabulous boots.

That was all for today though.Hopefully I can get down to Zara in Canterbury some time soon to look for more stuff.(As long as there's a sale on that is...)

Anyway,last time I mentioned Stenka Na Stenku.Me and Keira have just been discussing who might be on it and who might be presenting.Keira did such a good impression of Vernon Kay as the host that I almost wanted it to be him,but no,presenting as I've just found out,is none other than Dale Winton!How fabulous!And the team captains (don't think they had them in Stenka Na Stenku) are Anton du Beke (?!) and Darren Gough (I used to love him...)Still no word of contestants yet but I'm thinking maybe an ex member of Blue,probably someone from The Apprentice and Konnie Huq.Let's see how right I am...

Here's another brilliant Russian game show that Keira just reminded me of.It's called Tihie Igri (Silent Games) and the only episode I've seen involved Chelsi.We played our own version of Silent Games back in Guildford once.It wasn't quite as good though...


Friday, 18 July 2008

Stenka Na Stenku!

It feels like I haven't left the house for weeks,which I know isn't true because I went up to pub last night with the only person I ever see in Gillingham these days.What a mad crazy evening that was- I had one Pepsi and probably spent more money than that on the quiz machines.Of course we didn't win anything on the quiz machine,but it's always fun playing it with men who think they know everything :)
I'm thinking tomorrow it's probably time for me to get down to Copenhagen Blue in Rochester.It's clearly the best shop in Medway,one of the only boutiques we have,and everything there is Danish,what more could you want?!Of course it does help a lot if there's a sale on...
But anyway,I haven't been there for far too long so if it's not raining tomorrow,that's what I shall do.
Oh,and then there's next Thursday to look forward to as well- when I'll be off to London with Keira to watch the English version of this Russian classic being filmed...


It's called Hole in the Wall over here,and I can only imagine the sort of 'celebrities' who'll be on there.Something tells me they won't be quite as huge stars as in Stenka Na Stenku.Look,even Sergey was in it... (by the way,is Aleksander Tsekalo standing on the bottom step,or is he really that small?)


I love how even on such a rubbish programme as this,there's still loads of Russian pride and flag-waving :)

Also,coming up on Parlez-Vous Europop this weekend- 10 Things to love about Kiel.Mmm...

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Telly catch up time

Look what's on on BBC2 on Tuesday :) :) :) I'm so excited- and Jeremy's on it too! Now I've been looking for the first episode on iPlayer,but can't seem to find it for some reason...Also on BBC2 on Tuesday is Francesco's Mediterranean Voyage.I remember the series he did about Italy either last year or the year before,and if this is even half as entertaining,I'm really looking forward to it.The first 2 episodes are actually on iPlayer,so I'll be watching them later.
Tonight looks pretty good too- after Top Gear (need to catch up with that as well),there's 2 episodes of Ewan McGregor's series Long Way Round.I'm not sure if this has been on before but if it has,I missed it,so I'm looking forward to that too.Since when did British telly get so good?!

Monday, 7 July 2008

Day 3...

Today has been quite fun- we went down to the quay this morning to get the ferry bus to Laboe as mentioned yesterday,which turned out to be a lovely place (pictures to follow sometime when I get back)- very quaint and picturesque,but quite posh too I think.And so quiet.That's one of the biggest things I've noticed about the whole area in and around Kiel- it's just so bloody quiet.It's refreshing.So yes,we spent a few hours in Laboe and came back to Kiel to do some more shopping.I bought a fabulous watch and nice ring (which looks alarmingly like a wedding ring) from the oddest couple ever.They must have had a stall for the day in one of the many Karstadt department stores,and they were just so weird.She looked neurotic and kept talking into a microphone,and he was straight from Phoenix Nights or some other such club,with questionable hair and a blue-grey suit.And they both went into a mad panic when I went to the wrong till.After having my watch for a grand total of 3 hours,it's broken.No wonder he gave me it for 10 Euros when it should have been 30...
Anyway,strange people aside that's been about all we've done today.I had a horrible headache,brought on I think from this insane heat.Think we're off to see some seals at the sealife institute before we go back to Hamburg tomorrow,so that should be nice.Having seen cartoon seals absolutely everywhere around town,I think it's time to see some real ones :)
Oh,I must also mention my excitement last night at the train station.After looking all day for somewhere that sells newspapers on a Sunday (we wondered what they had to say about Queen Sylvia's visit),we went to the station to find papers from possibly every country in the world.I found Belarus's Argumenty I Fakty much to my delight,and also a dodgy Russian magazine thingy with Prohor Shalyapin in it!I didn't buy it though,there were far too many other dodgy pictures and things in there for my liking :/ Anyway,must be off,my mum's probably getting bored now.I'll probably write tomorrow when I get back home!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Day 2...

So after the fabulous 3 days or something of 33 degree heat (33 degrees on the Baltic coast?Madness...),we've finally had a storm.Only a short one but there was a hell of a lot of rain.I only hope the millions of people with their flea market stalls managed to pack up in time.Seriously,this flea market here was immense,taking up half the town it seemed.I didn't find anything worth buying personally,but it certainly seemed like the rest of the city did.I don't think I've ever seen so many people in one place...
Anyway,after my post last night,we did eventually see the Queen of Sweden,after waiting around for ages outside the town hall.Well,there's really not much else to do here at night :) So,continuing the Scandinavian theme,we went off to the Norwegian ferry terminal this morning,which was a little bit exciting for me as sad as that is.I'm not a boat geek,but the ship that came in this morning,I saw last year on a cruise of the Oslofjord...We went on a bit of a cruise of the Kiel Fjord this afternoon,which was very nice (it does look a lot like Oslo I've decided),and tomorrow,after doing a bit more shopping,we shall probably be off to the little beach resort of Laboe,which we only saw in passing this afternoon.More about that tomorrow though probably- in between watching the seals being fed (seriously,there's pictures of seals everywhere) and finally trying some of the rather lovely ice cream that seems to be everywhere.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Moin Moin from Kiel!

The first thing I must mention is how boring this city is at night.There really is nothing to do!It's quite mysterious though- there's stallholders camped all over the main street ready for tomorrow's flea market,we've managed to miss seeing the Queen of Sweden arrive at the town hall,and there's signs written in Danish and Swedish all over the place.It's quite confusing.Anyway,I've got somewhere to live now- I shall be moving into a most fabulously decorated flat at the end of next month- it's pink,it's red,it's IKEA...I'm so glad it's sorted!More tomorrow maybe,this German keyboard is confusing me now.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Happy Independence Day Belarus!



Yes,today is the 64th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazis in Belarus.There's been a military parade in Minsk- with 2000 people from the army,the emergencies ministry and the State Border Committee of Belarus.President Lukashenko was there too,and he's also written a congratulatory message to everyone in the Motherland on Belta,the Belarussian Telegraph Agency- the 'National Source of News'.Mmmmmm.As you can see I've gone for the slightly cuter option of Rye Experience teddy Ruslan with a Belarussian flag and glass of Ya Teddy Pomnyu :)

Anyway,I'm off to Kiel tomorrow for a few days,and when I return,I hope to have found somewhere to live.I'll try and post while I'm over there,seeing as I don't seem to do too well at remembering to do it when I get back.Tchüss for now!

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Top notch entertainment Part 2

A few weeks ago I did a post about the Soviet cartoon Cossacks that I watched and loved when I was little.Well today I came across something else that sums up my childhood.Airport was one of the best reality TV series ever- originally broadcast in 1996 (when I was 10),it was a documentary series about Heathrow Airport and its passengers and workers.It ran for 9 years and is now being repeated on cable.By the time it started,I'd already been to Gatwick a few times,and was already fascinated by the thousands of people who worked and travelled there.This was why I really loved Airport,and it was I think because of the series that I ditched my plans of becoming a vet (Science?Me?No way!) and decided I wanted to do something internationally related.First I wanted to be an air hostess,then I wanted to work for immigration control as a translator (which is something I'm still thinking about 12 years later),but mostly,I wanted to be like this man...



I love that video- back in the day when you were still allowed to smoke on a plane...

If you loved Airport as much as I did,it was probably because of the wonderfully fabulous Aeroflot employee Jeremy Spake.Just like the Cossacks,I still find him hilarious now.Sad as it is,I suppose you could say that Jeremy was my childhood hero.I thought his job was very exciting- running around organising passengers,sorting out problems,and,wow speaking Russian?I was very jealous.And now 12 years later,I still find nothing more exciting than going to an airport and watching all the people,I have my very own Aeroflot T-shirt,and up until very recently,I was taught Russian by the very same lady who taught Jeremy Russian!Fate,eh?Maybe there's hope for me yet :)