Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In which my cooking nearly kills me

There has been a definite seasonal change in Frankfurt during our absence. The days are much shorter, the air is cooler and there are piles of dead leaves everywhere. There is also a preponderance of pumpkins and squash. These are not only in the supermarket but arranged decoratively outside people's houses. Early halloween preparations? I'm not sure.

On Sunday we visited a nearby Schloss (which turned out to be another castle that didn't measure up to Mads' exacting castle standards) and, inspired by the general autumness of our surrounds, we collected up some chestnuts to roast in the oven that evening. I actually don't really like chestnuts all that much - they are so floury - but it seemed like a cosy, autumny thing to do. Besides, they kept falling out of the trees and clonking us on our heads.

'I have a feeling we're supposed to score the top of them,' I said to Thieu as I bunged the chestnuts in the oven, 'but that's probably just to make them easier to peel.'

Ah. Not so it would seem. 45 minutes later we heard a loud bang in the kitchen. The fine white powder covering the inside of the oven (and the fragments of shell) would have probably been enough to convince most people that a chestnut had exploded. But it wasn't enough proof for me. I took another chestnut out of the oven and popped it into the water-filled sink where it obligingly exploded for me, very nearly taking out an eye. I shut the oven door and no one ventured near the kitchen again until the oven was stone cold. The chestnuts tasted terrible.

Ah, autumn.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


When Mads and I were at the Melbourne Museum during the first week of our trip we were on our way to visit the poo in the body section and somehow ended up in the Australian history section instead. Maybe subconsciously I steered us there, thinking a bit of a top up on Australiana wouldn't hurt. We've definitely seen enough poos. Mads didn't seem all that impressed by Pharlap but she was intrigued by the archival footage of him playing nearby. She sat and watched the entire loop three or four times.

Nothing more was said about it until this afternoon when Mads announced she wanted to 'play Pharlap.' She, naturally, took the starring role as the great horse himself. What do you think my role was? One of the other horses, perhaps? The jockey? Perhaps someone cheering in the crowd? The camera man filming the race?


I had to be the giant white arrow that points out where Pharlap is in the archival footage. In practical terms this meant I had to run along beside her pointing at her head as she galloped along. Is that strange? It seemed quite strange.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Adobe Punk

For the first few days back in Melbourne I kept turning my head everytime I heard someone speak, thinking 'they're Australian!'. But the appeal and amazement quickly faded and by the end of the first week I started to feel irritated by being able to understand everything everyone said. It was way too much information all the time. And most of it was deathly dull. I found myself listening to a couple of young women on a tram one day, but they were having pretty much exactly the same conversation I overheard in London. At the risk of sounding really, really old, don't young women have anything else to talk about? Something more interesting for old women to eavesdrop on?

Then there were the people who decided to talk to me, even though I'd shown no interest in talking with them - like the woman who berated me for letting Mads walk in a flower bed near the floral clock ('These gardens are for everyone, not just you!') and who didn't apologise when I pointed out Mads was actually walking along a path.

The worst bit was when I started suspecting people were eavesdropping on me. A woman sat ridiculously close to Mads and me in a not-crowded train back from the zoo last week. I swear she was listening to the story I was making up about the day Mads went to super-hero kindergarten.

But luckily last Saturday afternoon something that made all the listening in worth while. I was catching the tram back from town at 5 pm and a group of young male punks got on the tram, talking loudly and swigging from a red wine bottle. The thing I noticed about them, besides the loudness, was that they weren't all that convincing as punks. They had the hair and the clothes, but there was something kind of nerdy about them. One had glasses which he kept pushing up his nose in an almost nervous way while raving on at the top of his voice about how much pot he smoked that morning. It was quite odd.

And then, once they'd finished discussing pot, they started talking about computer programs. One of them took a large swig of wine and said 'the great thing about Illustrator is that you can save a path, import it into a new file and apply the same path to the new file.' It was a most unexpected topic of conversation for a group of punks and I found myself edging a little closer - party out of surprise but partly because I've always been a little hazy about using paths in Illustrator. But unfortunately they got off at the next stop, leaving me unclear as to whether they were really punks or just graphic designers on their way to a dress up party. I was also still unclear about using paths in Illustrator.

Still, it was an satisfying bit of eavesdropping. I doubt I'll see its like again in the six days left of my stay here.