Wednesday, July 6, 2011

UFO Sighting

So, you've probably had enough of my impressive crochet skills by now. Seasons have passed. It's time to post again.

Sometime between crocheting those cupcakes and today we made a trip to Freiburg with Matti when he was visiting and stayed in a nearby town called Emmendingen. Mads knew straight away that this was our town - for a start, the hotel we stayed at had a giant M out the front. There were 'M's on our pillows. We had soon formed a theory that everyone in Emmendingen had to have an M in their name somewhere. But the real proof that we were destined to go to Emmindingen was when Matti and Matt spotted my genie book in the window of one of the shops in town. I'd known that the German translation has been out in the shops for a while but I hadn't seen it anywhere. And there it was. In the bookshop window of Emmendingen.

It's that blurry yellowish shape in the middle of the picture. Not a UFO. My book. Truly. We went inside and found it on the shelf. Then the bookshop lady came over and it turned out that she'd grown up in Australia. So then Matt suggested that I sign the book and there was a slightly awkward moment where I saw the thought flit across (let's call her) Mary's mind that perhaps I hadn't written it. Perhaps we were just a group of weird tourists who went into bookshops and signed other people's books. I offered to produce my passport but she smiled (a little nervously) and said it wasn't necessary.

And then that was it. First sighting of one of my books in a foriegn land. We left the shop and headed off to the ice-cream shop. Mads had the green nutty flavour. 'Moustachio.'

Friday, March 4, 2011


There are many, many things I should be doing with my time right now. Finishing a book for instance. Packing for the trip to Australia next week. Maybe a little Spring cleaning. But at the moment all I seem to be able to do is make little woolly cupcakes.

I can't really explain it. Mads has enough now to set up quite an impressive bakery. And yet I keep creating them, night after night. It's like an obsession. I suppose I should just be thankful that I'm not churning out real cupcakes at the same rate.

And in my defence (and in case my editor happens to read this) I have been working on the book during the day. And (in case my mum reads this) I have made a packing list so theoretically it should now just be a matter of chucking all our stuff in for a bag. It's just that of an evening I see the wool and the urge comes over me for cakes.

Hopefully it won't last. Perhaps if I keep reading this blog I will be able to wean myself off the cupcake habit and onto something a little less old-ladyish.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Here is a picture of M + M both looking extremely pleased that I've finally finished the large project that I've been working on for some time now. They are both thinking; 'Phew. Maybe she'll stop being such a cranky cow for a bit.' I'm not making any promises. Behind Mads you can see another recently finished project - my latest rug.

Go on. You can say it. It's really weird-looking, isn't it? This is what happens when you launch into a project without any real plan - nothing much at all beyond; 'I'd like there to be circles. And some red.' So I just started making it and it just got weirder and weirder. That strange purpley-pink colour. The orange. I don't know what I was thinking. Sadly it's reminiscent of the way I cook - adding stronger and stronger flavours one after another in a mad panic. The rug is far too ugly to inflict on anyone so I have it hanging over a chair in the dining room which is where I do most of my work and I'm hoping it will act as a reminder as to the importance of planning.

Books have been arriving from everywhere over the last couple of weeks, proving that I'm not the only person who has been busy finishing stuff. First there was the German version of Tweenie Genie:

And then the paperback version of the Fairy School Dropout series which I find so pretty, especially the yellow one which is unusual as I'm not a big fan of yellow for the most part.

And then yesterday the Brazilian version of FSDO arrived:

I have quite a collection of Portuguese books now. If we end up going to Portugal this year perhaps I'll take them with me and give them to some kid.

So what next? I've got a couple more things to finish before our trip to Oz in March and today I went and bought some more wool. Because I can't seem to sit and watch The Wire without something to do.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christmas etc

Another city, another pair of crazy shoes.

Our ten days in Amsterdam with Trish, Ol, Kate and Jost went by in a cold, snowy, delightful flash. Kate and Jost moved into their new house on the 24th and while the last thing I would've done would be host Christmas lunch for 13 people the following day this is what Kate did. With grace and elegance. We did help though. For instance, Trish and I spent a delightful couple of hours trimming the Christmas tree on Christmas eve with Kate's gorgeous decorations. That's helpful, isn't it? It was supposed to be a kid-based activity but the kids could not have been less interested. We forced them to hang a few things on and then allowed them to escape.

The photo really doesn't do justice either to Kate's decorations or to the extrodinary trimming abilities of Trish and me. You'll just have to imagine it. It was stunning.

Owing to the lack of a kitchen at Kate's place (it's being installed next week) Christmas lunch was an Australian-style spread with lots of salads and sashimi and prawns which was absolutely fine by me. There was also an impressive dessert-buffet which was absolutely fine by Mads.

A large cardboard box had been installed in the middle of the kitchen-to-be as a sort of make-shift work bench and also to cover up some wires sticking up from the floor. Under instruction from Kate Trish and I wrapped it in Christmas wrap. I wish I'd taken a photo. We did a magnificent job.

So it was a very nice Christmas and a very nice holiday. Kate's house is near the Vondelpark and every morning we would vondel through it, pretending to skate on the ice, admiring all the houses.

No one in Amsterdam seems to have blinds on their windows. Someone on the train told me this is because they are desperate to allow as much light in as possible but Kate had another theory. 'It's to prove that you have nothing to hide,' she said.

One morning in the Vondelpark, near the iron igloo, we found this tree.

The next day the temperature soared to 2 degrees and the face disappeared.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Brief, Tragic Life of a Snowman

On Sunday Thieu and Mads went to the Platz out the front of our flat and built a snowman. The only carrots we had were some left-over roasted ones so the nose was on the droopy side. Mads was unwilling to sacrifice any of the sticks in her stick collection for the snowman's arms and suggested Thieu use leeks instead. Which he did. In the typical way of snowpeople-building Mads lost interest fairly quickly but Thieu became deeply involved. Emotionally involved. I started to worry. There are really only two main crimes around here - bike theft and snowman desctruction. With this in mind I took lots of photos of the one that Thieu and Mads' built. But after we returned inside Thieu kept checking out the window to see if the snowman was still there and growling menacingly below his breath whenever anyone got too close to it.

Of course, the inevitable occurred. In the afternoon Mads and I went ice skating and by the time we returned home all that was left of the snowman was two frozen leeks, laying on the ground. I've no idea what happened to the roast carrot.

We came inside and I decorated Mads' stick collection with baubles. I knew I'd find a use for it eventually.

Friday, December 17, 2010

That Time of Year

Last year it felt like one day I rounded a corner in Frankfurt and tripped over the Christmas market. I remember I was shocked. It seemed so early. I probably grumbled something along the lines of; 'I refuse to think about Christmas before my birthday,' which is the same thing I've been grumbling for some time now. But this year it was different. This year I was impatient for the market to appear. Perhaps it was because the market was so Glühwein-y good last year, despite the crowds, despite the high-tack factor. Or perhaps it was because I was happy for anything to come along that might stop me from thinking about my birthday. Which was rather a large one. I even decorated the Christmas tree two days before the Big Day because I was so keen to forget about the whole thing.

Then the Birthday came and I must admit I sulked for most of the day, especially as Thieu was away and I was feeling rather neglected. But then in the evening my upstairs neighbour came down with a cake she'd made and the downstairs neighbour came up with a present and so I stopped sulking and invited them in for a glass of sekt and suddenly things were much brighter.

Then Thieu came home with flowers and Mads gave me the very lovely Ü you can see in the picture above and I started to feel quite cheery because I have always wanted an Ü of my very own and now I have one. And I also received a camera which I used to photograph the Ü. And we went out for dinner across the road and I had goose which is the sort of thing people of my age probably shouldn't eat any more but I did it anyway and it was delicious. So it was all very fine in the end, you see?

And since then we have partaken of many seasonally-appropriate past times. There's been much arranging and re-arranging of the new "Activity Scene" (as the kid calls it) which was delivered by St Nicholaus on Dec 11. Generally Saint N fills children's shoes up with lollies on this day - or sticks if they're naughty - but I think he was a little confused by Mad's announcement the night before that she hoped he would bring her 'a really nice stick' for her stick collection and he therefore decided that an Activity Scene was the safest option.

What else? There's been much eating of snow. And also laying down in snow and moving arms and legs to make snow angels - something Mads learnt to do by watching Charlie and Lola. There's also been that fun parental past-time known as 'lugging around all the stuff that your kid peels off when she enters a train or shop'followed by that equally fun game; 'putting all the stuff back on when you leave the train or shop.' Yeah, we love those. And of course visiting of the Weihnacht Markts.
I've noticed a rather lovely symbiotic relationship between Glühwein stands and carousels. Where you find one you generally find the other not far away and it works beautifully for all concerned. Child goes around and around on the carousel while the parents keep toastily warm drinking wine. Happiness for all.

Now, does the kid look sick in the photo above? Not really does she? But apparently she had scarlet fever. It took us another two days to find that out and even the doctor who administered the test seemed surprised when it came up positive. No one over here seemed fazed by it. Perhaps it's just another seasonal past time.

So that's the year I guess. This time next week we'll be in Amsterdam - or at least on our way. I wonder if they have Christmas markets there?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


A couple of weekends ago we went to Madrid for the weekend to meet up with Malena and Raffa (who must, surely, win the prize for most chilled four-month old in the world), eat lots of Spanish food and, you know, see Madrid a bit as well. Most of our goals were achieved - especially the eating part. You know you're on holiday when your breakfast consists of doughnuts dunked in melted chocolate. Luckily we did lots of walking too - mostly just wandering around the old town and the gardens and wondering how long after doughnuts you need to wait before buying an ice-cream (answer: not very long at all). We did make it to La Guernica but there was a lot that we didn't get to see. So I guess we'll have to go back. What a shame.

Malena mentioned that children's flamenco outfits could be purchased from most of the tourist shops and that perhaps Mads, given her well-known love of dressing up, might be interested in receiving one?

She was. Her favourite bit were the polka-dotted "high heels". Did I ever think I would be the kind of mother who would buy high heels for her four year old? No I did not. Did Mads love them? Yes she did. They were so very clippity- cloppity, you see, and there are so many cobblestones in Madrid to test shoes like these out on.

Mads wore the flamenco outfit all weekend - and she swore the shoes didn't hurt. If we'd been walking around in Frankfurt I'm sure we would've received a lot of disapproving stares from old ladies, but in Madrid all the old ladies thought she was gorgeous.

Even when we weren't out reaping in the old lady compliments Mads continued to wear the outfit. Ever wondered what a flamenco dancer would look like on an exercise bike?

It was reminiscent of when she wore a Buzz Lightyear outfit for an entire summer. We have shots of her on the beach with her shovel and spade dressed as Buzz. Eating sushi dressed as Buzz. Asleep dressed as Buzz.

Mads wore the costume back to Frankfurt on the plane and on the Ubahn back to our house. But since returning she's only worn it once. Perhaps she realises that she won't receive the same kind of adoring attention over here. Or perhaps she's saving it for mid-winter so she can pop it on over her snow suit.