Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Snaps 36

Today is Hallowe'en.
The antics for the teens trick or treating has been going on all week, with the emphasis heavily on the trick side...I'll let you know how it goes, but in the meantime here are our pumpkins, 1 carved by Jas and 1 by me - can you guess which is which?

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's here

Autumn, that is. I shouldn't be surprised afterall it is nearly the end of October, summer is well and truly gone and so the next season is autumn (unless the crazy weather is deciding to skip the inbetweeny seasons and jump straight to winter - I do hope not)

I have decided that there are ways you can tell that Herbst is Hier*, there are certain signs in Germany that make it obvious;

- the children are all wearing multiple layers, the German kids that is, they all come fully equipped with vest, shirt, jumper/sweatshirt, trousers, jacket, scarf & probably hat and don't forget the all important 'winter boots' which are usually fleecy lined and fully waterproof. My son meanwhile scoots out of the house in just a t-shirt and hoodie, mothers of his friends have all given up remonstrating with him and me, when they pass comment I just shrug and remind them that we're English and hardier than your average German.
- all the house proud hausfrauen** have removed their pretty summer flower displays from their doorsteps and replaced them with squash, I'd say pumpkins to help you understand what I mean but these displays are never just large orange hallowe'en stylee pumpkins, oh no, these are squash in as many varieties, colours and shapes as there are hours in the day. This is not something I indulge in, but as our official front door is at the back of the house and most people come in and out through the kitchen door, no-one (hopefully) realizes - not that I care to be honest.
- all the cafés still have their outside seating set ups but with the addition of blankets over every seat, so you can get your caffeine fix (and probably cake too) as well as getting your fresh air (although you will probably be a getting a good few lungfuls of 2nd hand nicoteine)
- some of the smaller eis cafés have shut for their winter break, all packed away until next spring, this doesn't mean that it's hard to get ice cream, Kettwig (tiny little place that it is) has at least 4 eis cafés and only 1 actually shuts up shop in October - of course it would have to be the one closest to where we live but fortunately I don't have the German ice cream gene.
- the furs are out, already, and it's not even proper cold yet. Admittedly these were more gillet style (armless, waistcoaty things) as opposed to full on jackets/coats but they were definately fur, real, dead animal fur, none of this fake stuff here.
- Glühwein is back on the menu, the summer cocktails of Aperol and prosecco are banished to the store cupboard and instead we are offered cheap red wine made palatable only by the addition of cloves and cinnamon sticks. Fortunately Lulu's has martinis on the cocktail list all year round.
- the leaf blowers are busy. I've commented previously that Germany is very green with lots and lots of mature trees around, most of which, it becomes apparent at this time of year, are deciduous and so cover the footpaths everywhere in a carpet of leaves. Until that is a little man from the council comes along with a reverse hoover on his shoulder, he's followed quick smart by a teletubby-alike vehicle which then removes any evidence. Needless to say this has to happen more than once as not even the Germans have managed to co-ordinate nature. They even clear the paths in the woods (!) but not quickly enough for MIL's liking (like they even clear the leaves away in England?!)
- the cars are all being uglied, winter tyres are not mandatory here, but if you were foolish enough to have an accident between October and whenever Easter falls***and didn't have winter tyres on then you would struggle to get your insurance company to not think you responsible, at least that's what I'm told, it could just be an urban myth, but I'm not about to check it.

So that's it, autumn is HERE, next stop Christmas, hang on to your hats!

* not a typo btw, hier is deutsch for here, honest, you can check it hier if you don't believe me.
** again not a typo, frauen is the plural of frau.
*** the unofficial 'rule' is that winter tyres should be worn from O to O (October to Ostern****)
**** Ostern=Easter - aren't you learning lots of vocab?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


It's kind of hard to accept that something with such a spiritual basis and with such an emphasis on breathing can be hard, physical exercise, don't you think?

My (13 yr old) son certainly doesn't view yoga as exercise - not that he's tried it or is even willing to try it you understand. I got back last night from my class (830-10pm) and told him to go to bed as I was 'knackered' and going to crawl (if I could get up the stairs) into my bed as soon as I'd sent the dog outside.

Where upon the disparaging remarks started about how I couldn't possibly be as tired as I said (he thought I was faking it so that I'd get some time alone with the TV & maybe watch something that he wanted to see, I know how his sneaky teenage brain works) and he said, "Yoga's just 'ohmmmm' isn't it? How is that exercise?"

I suggested he might like to come to a class with me (knowing full well he'd say no) and then showed him the 'half moon' pose that had been a challenge to my class and asked Ben to try it.
He tried.
And failed.
He reckons his arms aren't long enough!
I admit I hadn't managed successfully to complete the pose last night, but it was towards the end of the session so I was a little drained (because yoga isn't just ohmmmm, in fact I don't think we do any ohm-ing) and this morning when I showed Jas (who is a tad more respectful about my sporting escapades, well she is younger, so I guess that respect will soon dwindle - unless I go mental like my little bro and start doing ironman stuff - so not happening) I could do it, this balancing on one leg and one hand, shall have to practice for next week, although maybe then she'll want us to do the full moon - but that's something completely different isn't it?!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Sometimes, just sometimes, my quest to learn German has me completely frustrated, and all I want to do is hurl my books across the room in anger, what I actually do is slam them shut and walk away, vowing to return to that particular chapter later - quite when later I don't define, later is sufficient.

Last week I tried to approach the lovely tense called 'the passive', again, it's not the 2nd time I've re-met this beauty and probably not the 3rd and it certainly isn't the last.

I hate the passive with an active passion (possibly not as much as I detest the 'konjunktiv II' but that's a whole 'nother vent) An explanation of the passive for those non-grammar scholars can be found here.
So I worked through the conjugation of the passive in all its tenses - present, simple past, past and past perfect and then through the exercises, all well and good (fortunately the Grammar book that I use for this form of personal torture comes with a separate answer book although there is usually only one answer printed even when there is more than one option, an omission which frequently has me wrenching my hair out) then I was left with the last 2 exercises which asked me to put a whole passage of active text into the godforsaken passive, I didn't get further than the first sentence before my brain started to feel as though it was being sucked through one of those curly wurly straws that children so love (but which are a complete bitch to clean out). So that's the passive abandoned yet again.

To add insult to injury I had my German lesson on Monday and we were reading Cosmo (it has to be noted that Cosmo here in Germany is not all sex and G-spots as it is in the UK, there are far more serious articles to be found in the German Cosmo, odd that, Germans taking something light and frivolous so seriously...) the article we were reading was all about taking people out of their comfort zone and getting them to try something they wouldn't normally dream of trying. When we're reading and translating (as we were) it's my habit to write down new vocab with a view to learning it, the first word from this article was a verb;

sich trauen - to dare
then shortly afterwards came another verb
herausfordern - to dare
and the last word of the day was another verb
wagen - to dare


say what?

How the hell am I supposed to know which word to use to say;
'I don't dare'
'Dare you!'
'that's a daring move/dress'


Apparently each of these verbs means a different type of dare (goody) one is to dare in a trusting type manner (!) one is to dare someone to do something and another is to dare something risky - clear as mud no?

I wouldn't mind this ridiculousness quite so much (well, actually I probably would and I'd probably still whine about it too) were it not for the fact that just at the weekend I was reminded of the fact that Germans use 1 word to mean onion (that you eat with and cook with) and also to mean bulb (that you plant in the garden in the hope that in spring you'll have lots of flowers in your otherwise lifeless beds). And then in my lesson another word popped up with more than one meaning;

gerade - straight
but also apparently means 'especially' (despite the fact that there are already 2 other perfectly good words which mean especially)
I did ask whether you could draw a 'gerade gerade line' (an especially straight line) and got a look, a look that said don't be so bloody stupid.

Sometimes I really do despair, when will the babelfish hit the shops? If only Apple weren't an American company, if it were Chinese or Japanese then we might stand a chance of them thinking that such a useful gadget should be invented, but with the Yanks in charge there's no hope, they just think the whole world will understand them if they shout louder.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Reviews #8

Tony Parsons - Man and Wife

When I got this I didn't think I'd read it before, I've read the book that comes before (Man and Boy) but the synopsis for this didn't sound as though I knew it...then I started to read it and kept thinking to myself 'I'm sure I've read this', but I don't think I had, because the end wasn't quite what I expected, I think maybe it's just that it's too much like its predecessor...that said it's an enjoyable enough read. It didn't set my world alight and I could have easily put it aside at any point and not been too concerned that I was missing out on what the characters were getting up to, I didn't care enough about them. The reason I didn't give up on it is because recently I've been leaving too many books unfinished, not necessarily because they're too hard but sometimes because I just can't be bothered, so I finished it and can tell you all about it;

This book picks up where the 1st ended, Harry is now remarried and the young son (Pat) lives with his mother and her new partner. Harry is a TV producer in London and so we are treated to entertaining but probably stereotypical scenes from that whole lifestyle, boozey lunches, studio audiences, blonde leggy PAs, coke snorting stars - you get the idea. The book tracks Harry as the comedic star of the 1 show his company produces crashes and burns and Harry's life seems to follow a parallel course. Having wrecked one marriage by trying out the supposedly greener grass (and getting caught) he finds the possibility of walking away from a 2nd wife not too hard. The story gains depth with the discovery of his widowed mother (his dad was killed off in the 1st book by lung cancer) having breast cancer, this part of the story is dealt with sympathetically and to me was the only time I felt compassion for Harry, the rest of the time I found him to be a self-centred and selfish bore.
I wont tell you how it ends, if you're interested you can read it, if you're not interested then you wont care!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Snaps 35

Last Sunday I was at a fashion show in my favourite bar in Kettwig - Lulu's.

I guess they wanted to have a fashion show for several reasons
- one of the owners is a real live model
- it's fashion show season
- promotion possibility for 'fashion' shops in Kettwig
- there's bugger all else to do on a Sunday afternoon here.

So here are some pics I took;

I was too slow to get a pic of the model wearing the dead rabbit gillet, sorry. But as you can see from the photos, I was Frow* dahlings!

* that's fashion speak for front row, don't you know!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


5 days and then they were gone.

The outlaws that is, they came last Friday and were with us for 4 whole days before being taken back to the airport on Wednesday afternoon.
So a long weekend, just the right amount of time I think, I didn't have the chance to get too irritated and tetchy about things being put in the wrong places, the TV being on even more than usual and having to have my happy hostess face on 24/7.

My German teacher says that guests are like fish - they start to smell after 3 days, personally I think this is a little harsh, although I can see her point, but we've managed to have a nice few days together, maybe the secret to this lies in keeping them busy?

Day 1 they were taken shopping (weather too foul for anything else)
Day 2 there was a fashion show to go to in my favourite bar
Day 3 a trip to Schloss Burg*
Day 4 the Folkwang museum
Day 5 a final outing for the German institution of coffee 'n cake.

All in all a pleasant few days.

A few points of note:

- 4, almost 5 days here and 2 fullsize suitcases plus a carryon sized case and a fully loaded rucksack - for 2 people...MIL doesn't travel light, I think the phrase 'capsule wardrobe' is an anathema to her.
- I really do need to move my 'books I haven't read yet' into a separate room from the 'books I have read' because everytime someone stays in the guest room they root through them all (which I don't have a problem with) find 1 or 2 or 3 (depending on how good/bad the book is and the speed of their reading) to read (also not a problem, I'm not precious about my books, although I quite like being the first to read a book I've bought, but hey) but then the books tend to be put back willynilly, on any old shelf and although they weren't in a particularly anal order they are usually separated into 'I've read & no longer want it', 'I've read & want to keep' and 'must read'.
I really must move the 'to read' shelf.
- Grandparents are great for playing with children, my mom will play Barbies until her brain starts to fizz and while Nanny Linda doesn't get quite the same torture treatment she did have to suffer many many rounds of Top Trumps - both Bratz and Little Britain varieties, note to self; donot but any more Top Trumps for Jas as a stocking filler.
- To make up for being too old to play Ben's games (Gandpa is not technologically advanced enough to remember to turn his mobile phone on let along play Halo on the PS3/xbox) Pete did the grandfatherly job of telling jokes at every meal time (I am such a mean mother, insisting on dragging the teen alien killer out of his combat zone to eat with the whole family) determined to crack the 'cool facade' that teen boys assume whenever they think someone is looking, although this can be quite dangerous as Ben, when hit with a joke at the right point has been known to snort rice down his nose...

I read a blog this morning about ageing, this blogger was telling how she'd found a grey eyebrow hair & had instantly plucked it out at the next set of traffic lights (the things we women use our cars for eh?!) and someone else commented that they thought a sign of ageing was 'when you see your parents age' - Jasmine (age 9 and with no verbal filter whatsoever) said (in the presence of both grandparents) that she was worried about Grandpa dying...ho hum, I'm sure she'll say much the same come December when they visit again for Silvester**.

* a more excellent name for a castle you couldn't hope to think up; schloss = castle, burg = castle. This place is literally called 'castle castle', snigger.
** Silvester = New Year's Eve

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Culture Vulture

I think I'm ill.

That can surely be the only reason for another visit to the Folkwang Museum within the month can't it? I've never, in all my (cough) 45 years (ouch, that hurt) been so 'cultural' as I have this year...what with trips to the theatre back in the early summer (note that; trips, plural) and now I've racked up my 4th (or is it 5th?) visit to the same art museum and come mid November there's another exhibition I'd like to go see.

This trip was a case of '2 birds, 1 stone' - in that it was an exhibition that has just started and I really wanted to see it, and we have the outlaws here at the moment and I thought they'd enjoy it (being the theatre going, arty, cultured types - although MIL did confess that if/when the same exhibition gets to Blighty she probably wouldn't have made the effort to go see because it probably would only get as far as London (another benefit of living here, like everything else they do, the Germans take their culture seriously & so there's lots of it).

I'd warned everyone we needed to leave at 9.40am (Simon was arm twisted into coming too, I failed to get Ben to come along (to be honest it would have been a waste of good money) he gave me that look that teenagers down the ages have perfected, that look that says;
'perrlease, do I look like a loser? Trailing around with the parentals? Looking at pictures? By dead guys? Duuuuhhhhh'
It's amazing how vocal a single raised eyebrow can be isn't it?
Anyway, the museum gets mad busy, full of blue rinses (except this being Germany they're all cherry red rinses) elbowing you out of their way so that they can better appreciate the art (what with their failing eyesight and all) and get round quicker before heading off to the café to baggsy all the good cake & comfy seating, so it's a good idea to be there as the museum opens.

The current exhibition is of the impressionists in Paris and there were over '80 masterpieces of the most famous impressionists' on display as well as over 100 photographs taken during the period (around 1870-1890) and very good it was too, Renoir, Monet, Manet, Pisarro and even a Munch (I didn't know he'd been into impressionism - although judging by the painting on display I think he was a bit bored by the whole thing - trust me when I say that it made no difference no matter how you changed the distance between you and the painting). My favourites were right at the very end, 3 in a row, all by different artists but all in a similar style and all depicting Paris evenings, a Pisarro, a Luce, and a Maufra (which is odd as when I try to find it online all he seems to have done is seascapes - they're great seascapes but they're not Paris).
After we'd managed to find all 5 of us again (no mean feat seeing as the outlaws had opted for the English audio tour which guided them around and filled them full of use(less)full information while we 3 locals decided to wing it and wandered around pointing and sniggering*, we found MIL who had 'just 2 pictures to go' (on her audio tour) and tried to find FIL, then had to re-find MIL, this time without letting go of FIL, then and only then could we try to find the café and hope the wrinklies had left some cake for the more able and more appreciative.

There was one funny moment, 4 of us (we lost MIL at a very early point) stood admiring a painting of some Parisiennes promenading in a park at dusk, FIL was pointing out the pretty reflections on an ornamental pond to Jas, who responded by wanting to show something to us that she'd spotted.
Have you ever noticed how children seem to think 'show' = 'touch'?
Now I doubt that Jas meant to try and actually touch the old master, worth 1000's and 1000's of euro, but the guard who was (of course) only 2 metres away, had never moved so quick all morning (afterall the wrinklies all know the rules in galleries, 'look but don't touch') we all had a laugh about it afterwards...partly to try to deflect Jas from bursting into hysterical tears!

* friends of mine who've had the misfortune to visit art galleries with me will attest to my irreligious manner, I'm more than happy to declare what I view as crap and what my children could easily do but also what I appreciate and admire.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cornwall Part 1

So this time last week I was in Cornwall, just me and 3 children (2 of mine and 1 on short term loan).
We were only there for 3.5 days although we were very nearly not there at all...

Travelling with children is never something to be looked forward the way one looks forward to that first glass of wine after a long and stressful week or greeting a loved one after an absence. Travelling with children is stressful and fraught with peril, you can always guarantee that they will suddenly have a bladder about to burst when there is no toilet in sight, or a need to vomit when there is no sick bag and they will ask the time every 5 minutes. I love travelling on my own, it so rarely happens now that when the opportunity arises I will happily be early at the airport, just to wallow a little longer on that lone traveller feeling, bliss.

So there I was, Sunday afternoon with 3 children at Dusseldorf airport, waiting for a flight to Gatwick where we would have a 2 hour wait before catching our connection to Newquay where we would pick up our hire car and drive for an hour to Mullion down on the Lizard.
Easy. Peasy. Lemon. Squeezy.

Except it wasn't. Our 5pm flight got delayed and then delayed again and again. We were all given 15 euro to spend in any restaurant in the airport for dinner and told the flight would leave at 9pm - no chance of catching that 8.10pm flight to Newquay then.

Four and a half hours after we should have left Germany we were finally airborne. Fortunately there were other passengers who had FlyBe connections at Gatwick that they would now have missed and we all made ourselves known to the cabin crew, I was told that we would hopefully be met at the plane by 'someone'. I was expecting this 'someone' to then sort out a hotel for the night and onward flights in the morning, but no.
It was way better than that.

The 7 of us were herded together and with a member of staff from the airport doing a pretty good impression of Lassie/Skippy we were speeded through the airport, our end goal we were told was the flight to Newquay which was equally delayed (how odd I thought).

First stop was passport control, where of course there was a query with one passenger who had to fill in an immigration form...Skippy started to twitch nervously. That dealt with we were rushed through Gatwick like VIPs, boarding passes waved at another staff member's face and quickly into security, no-one had any liquids, we'd already been through security in Dusseldorf so everyone was clean, except for the youngest member of the group, my 9 year old daughter.
They pulled her rucksack to the side and started to empty it, one cuddly toy after another was swiftly disinterred, pencil case thoroughly examined, suspicious pencil sharpener allowed, Kitkats ignored until finally they found what they were after - a teeny tiny pen torch that on their X-ray scanner showed up as a laser pointer which is no longer allowed in hand luggage. We pointed out that it was a torch and not a laser pen and everything was repacked, Skippy almost vibrating with the desperation to get us to the plane.
Then we were off again, racing through the south terminal of Gatwick, barely registering the shops I could have spent a happy 2 hours browsing in until we slid to a halt at the gate where another member of staff rechecked that the photos on their system that had been taken maybe minutes earlier just before security still matched the heads on our bodies and finally there was our plane, engines humming, waiting for us, we had to confirm that the bags waiting next to the plane were actually ours (yes, yes & yes) and we were on.
Slumping with relief into our, fortunately back row seats, while the other 70+ passengers glared at us as if the delay (of 2 or so hours for them) that they were having to tolerate was all our fault...which in a round about way it was...

I got the full story from the member of cabin crew who was in the jump seat behind us for takeoff. She was the same person from the previous flight who'd told me that 'hopefully someone will meet you off the plane'. Apparently the Newquay-Gatwick plane had been diverted during that afternoon to do the Dusseldorf-Gatwick run because the plane that should have been doing it had to turn back when a problem developed. So after it had brought us from Dusseldorf the plane then reverted back to its Gatwick-Newquay route, loaded up all its waiting passengers and hung around waiting for us 7 to re-emerge from the living organism that is Gatwick.

We got to bed that night around 2am, but at least we made it to Mullion and slept where we'd planned to and weren't having to sleep in a hotel in either Gatwick or Newquay.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Snaps 34

Last week I was in Cornwall, here's proof:

594 miles away from home!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book Reviews #7

Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey.
This is the latest offering by Todd who is trying valliantly to continue his mother's dragon legacy (the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey).

I finished this book weeks ago, although it took me over a week to read, but it so uninspired me that I've put off commenting on it...

It's OK, but that's it, the story didn't grip me, I could have walked away from it unfinished at any point and not felt like I was missing anything, the only point in its favour is that it made me re-read (for the nth time) the 1st 3 or so in the Pern series written by Anne McCaffrey back in the 1970's and I would have probably continued on through the whole series of 18 books were it not for the intrusion of the latest book group book.

So there you have it, Dragongirl, only to be read by those true aficionados of Pern, and even they wont think it's great, it's more about knowing you haven't missed any vital link from the story chain, which means that I'll more than likely buy the next one when it's published next May...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Snaps 33

I'm off to Cornwall later today with 3 children (I've gained one, but he's only on loan) so here's a few of the places we're (or rather I'm) planning to visit in the next few days...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

9 x 5

Yesterday was my birthday and I'd had a pleasant day planned that crumbled to nothing when Jas decided to be off school sick the day before and still not healthy enough for school after 24 hours of skiving (I'm such an insensitive mother), so as I lay in bed before my alarm went off (why, when I can have an extra 30 minutes sleep do I always seem to wake up before my alarm would normally go off?) I considered how old I was.

You'd think I'd remember by now, like back when you're little and you count up the months so that you can add on 3/4 or 1/2 to your paltry sum of years, but no, I usually have to think of the year I was born (1965) try to remember what year it currently is and then subtract one from the other...
Yesterday morning was easy because with the current year ending in a zero means my age must end in a 5 (I know it'd be simpler to just remember how old I am) I wasn't amused by the realisation that I can now consider myself to be halfway to 90...just as I shall now be avoiding clicking any age boxes in questionaires that put me into the 45-55 that point I could have sunk into a real depression with the thought that I was probably half way through life without having achieved my goals, except that I've never really had any goals, my motto has always been to enjoy life, I've never aspired to be a world famous scientist making earth shattering and life enhancing discoveries, I'll be happy if I'm happy, shallow eh? But achievable.

Anyway my birthday was as pleasant as it could be, what with a husband half the world away in Hong Kong and not due home for another 10 days and the younger child threatening to hurl, pretty presents were gratefully recieved, I went and bought my own cake (and ate it too), flowers were delivered (this almost NEVER happens, but I like it, I like it alot - please take note; the quickest way to make me smile - buy me flowers) and as Jas managed to keep the contents of her stomach internal and seemed to get perkier as the day progressed I went out for a few birthday-tinis at Lulus with friends.

Last night I discovered that 3 martinis is my limit, 4 is at least a half a 'tini too many. We had an entertaining though with a long conversation about the problems with outlaws (Rebecca's in particular) travelling through Europe with rogue TomToms and vomiting children, just how endemic is the drug culture in the UK and in Germany, the change in the UK driving test which means that Ian's daughter will probably be stuck on a scooter for the rest of her life (memory like a goldfish apparently) and the difficulties in learning German (expats always discuss this at some point in any conversation) but also the fun that there is to be had when listening to foreigners speak English - Ian and Kamesh were discussing favourite tipples when a German colleague started to listen in and so they asked her what she liked to drink and she responded with "I like 'sex on the beach'", now I'm quite sure that a native English speaker wouldn't confess to this being their favourite cocktail (unless they were 3 sheets to the wind or wanting to be provocative, but she was neither) but I guess to a non native 'sex on the beach' is only the name of a vodka & peach schnapps cocktail much like 'slippery nipple' is a Baileys & sambuca mix as opposed to a suggestive comment, I'll stick to martinis!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Painting by numbers

I've changed the colour scheme in my kitchen.

It's been an uninspiring peachy colour for the last 3 years and the colour has never really worked, the colour scheme as a whole, the kitchen units/worktops/flooring and paint colour were fine together but the paint colour by itself was just too....bleurgh, insipid and as I must spend more of my time in the kitchen than in any other room something had to be done.

If I'd been planning this in England I'd have gotten a paint chart from Dulux and then some tester pots and my walls would have become a patchwork of different colours, but here it's a bit different. Yes, you can buy ready mixed paint but the range of colours available ready mixed isn't so huge (Germans tend towards white, white or white when it comes to painting their (woodchip covered) walls) what happens here is you go along to the local DIY shop (we have a new big one now after the old shed got burnt down - I'm not kidding) with a sample of the colour you want your walls to be, it's scanned into a machine and then custom mixed (yeah, I know this happens in Blighty too, but in my 15 years of home ownership there I think I only used custom mixed paint once, if at all, and I've painted pretty much every room of every house we've owned, at least once)

I took my German teacher with me to buy the paint, just in case they started using lots of technical words that I didn't know and before I knew it I'd bought 50 litres of tartan paint. We were served by a young(ish) Herr Di Simone (Sicilian, don't you know) who was reasonably charming, but not sufficiently that Muna was prepared to exchange English lessons for his home cooking (can't blame a guy for trying & Italians do love to flirt) as well as 60+ litres of paint we came away with those funny paper coveralls, a couple of rollers & new brushes, he was trying to convince me to take the cheap ones but I told him I wanted some that the bristles didn't fall out of - I do hate that, don't you? Especially when you then have to pick out the loose bristles from the wet wall. Di then figured he was onto a cashcow and suggested a stick for the roller so I could reach the top of the wall (I told him no, I'd stand on a chair, like I always do) or a funny doughnut shaped roller for the corners...but how does that help in the ceiling corners? So that was another no, I think he got his pound of flesh anyway, especially as I bought enough rollers so that I wouldn't have to wash them out but could throw them away, I hate trying to get the paint out of rollers, it never works and they never dry properly.

So that was my weekend, 9-10 hours of painting spread over 3 days (have to leave 8 hours or so between repainting it said on the tin) I had a little 'help' with a couple of the walls from Jas, she was desperate to be involved and then discovered it to be rather dull and not quite as easy as she'd thought (rollers are pretty heavy when laden with paint and there was no way I was letting her loose with a brush at the edge of the walls) But I quite enjoy painting walls (hate ceilings and skirting boards - but we don't have them in our house, skirting boards that is) I put some music on and go for it, and then before you know it the whole room has changed.

What do you think?




Monday, October 4, 2010

Can you keep a secret?

'cos Jasmine can't. I guess, really I should be glad that my 9 year old finds it impossible to keep the teeniest thing a secret from others but it can be annoying, especially as she has the flappiest ears known to mankind and so frequently overhears things she maybe shouldn't.

One year I made the HUGE mistake of asking her what she'd got me for my birthday and without even pausing to draw breath and certainly with no thought involved whatsoever, she told me. Simon was most unamused...haven't done that again I can tell you, although I do have a very good idea as to what 'she' has got me this year - I kind of saw the box as I was making her bed, it's not exactly well hidden (the present that is, not the bed) but I haven't mentioned it to her, I'm trying out my new tact and diplomacy skills...

Simon is away at the moment, we're entering week 2 of a 3 week absence as he swans about south east asia, staying in swanky hotels and being bored rigid in meetings. I suggested to Jas that while he was away we'd paint the kitchen, but keep it a secret from daddy and then we could see how long it took him to actually notice the colour change (he's colour blind). Jas gleefully then informed her father that we had a girlie secret, something was going to happen while he was away. Then on Friday, after I'd started the painting she told her dad that the secret was in progress, so it's a secret no longer, he even knows the colour...she'll never make a spy, they'd only have to offer her chocolate or something sparkly and the nation's secrets would be spilled.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Snaps 32

A last blast of summer for you:

These were my shorter than the normal (the seed packet must have said 'dwarf' somewhere on it) sunflowers, but perfectly formed despite their Tom Cruise-like stature. Shall have to read the packets more carefully next spring!