Monday, November 29, 2004

Loobylu's Month of Softies

Meet Indira the Bollywood Elephant Star. She is very glamorous with her sequins and jewellery.

I've made her for the month of softies on Loobylu's blog which is a lovely idea and has been great fun.

Friday, November 26, 2004


Well still no news from my dynamic immigration consultant - I thought I'd have more info this time last week - but he just doesn't seem to be responding to my daily calls!! Ok - I admit it - twice daily. But it could be a good thing in the end - ie longer holidays sunning myself on a beach. hee hee.

Well unlike my visa, Indira the bollywood Elephant is coming along nicely. Nadja the seamstress did a wonderfull job of sewing her together and now she just needs ears, a tail and some more accessories. That will be a job for Monday so she can be entered in time to join the other softies on Loobylu.

At the moment I should really be packing as we are off to Prag for the weekend to celebrate Tricky Nicky's 30th. wooohooo.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Elephant ctd

I just dashed out to buy some coffee from the HL supermarket around the corner. According to the weather its a misty -1 degrees but is clearing up now to be another sunny day. I'm very lucky our appartment is in such a fantastic location - not only are we 10 mins from the centre of town, apart from the HL there is an Italian takeaway, a cosy bar, wine specialist, hairdresser, camera shop, optometrist, fishmonger and camera shop - all within about 20 meters from our front door.

There is also a tiny little dressmakers shop just beside the fish shop. As my bollywood elephant is coming along very nicely and ready to be sewn together I thought I would try my luck there to see if she would sew it together for me. (I'm not sure if that disqualifies me from the softies project - I hope not!!) She didn't speak any English so I had to mime sewing it together and leaving a hole for the stuffing. I think she understood - she just nodded sagely and said "morgan" - so I'll find out tomorrow!! hee hee.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Until next Tuesday

Today in one of my classes I was trying to explain the difference between "by" and "until". As in I have to finish my report by 5:00. I'll be working on it until 5:00. In German they only have the one option "bis" (I think) so I hear alot of "I'll tell you the result until Friday" type statements. But try explaining the difference when to use which. Bloody difficult. I think I just confused Andreas even more. He just kept getting the wrong one every time. In the end my explanations of why he was wrong just started seriously contradicting myself and I wished I'd never started on the whole thing. But it was worth it for the look of sheer suprise on the students faces to learn that no you can't say "You should buy your advent calendar* until Tuesday". I'm so mean.

Only 8 classes to go before I finish up. Not that I'm into wishing my life away. I will miss some of them. But not many. Its been an experience.

*very big here - you can get all types - my favourite I've seen so far is the Kinder Surprise (Uberaschung Ei) calendar.

Elephant Project

I'm not coping with the cold weather. Today we had clear and blue skies (well till it got dark about 4) but really bloody cold. I just can't warm up despite the fact that I'm sitting here with the heating cranked up and wearing the sleeping bag jacket. (yes really). I think it is probably a sign that I should be doing some excercise to improve circulation but the only problem with that theory is that it would require going outside in order to get to the gym. A vicious circle.

Today I bought some goodies to attempt an accessorised elephant for Loobylu's month of softies. I wanted to buy some felt but couldn't find any - but then had the inspiration to use a towel instead. Only drawback is not having a sewing machine here but will see if I can do it by hand. I think its such a fabulous idea and can't wait to see the other elephants. Current plan is for an "Indian Elephant" - i was thinking about a sari but not sure that will happen.

Potential Elephant

By the way did I mention I love my new camera? :)

Monday, November 22, 2004

African Suss Kartoffel Soup

Have now taught second class of the day, written some emails, tidied up a bit and am still bored so I thought I would post this recipe. Its delicious and perfect for winter - although I suspect folks at home won't be rushing to make a spicy soup at this time of year!! But save the recipe for winter - its worth it!

500g sweet potato
1l vegetable stock
25g butter
1tsp chopped red chillies
1tbls chopped root ginger
1 tsp chopped garlic
175g carrots sliced
175g onion sliced
50g plain flour
3tbsp soy sauce
175ml coconut milk
250g cashews (I think raw is best)

Boil the sweet potato in the stock for 15 mins.
Melt butter in pan and add chilli, garlic, carrot, onion and fry until soft then mix in flour.
Mix in with sweet potato and blend til smooth.
Cook on low heat for 15 mins then ad 1/2 soy sauce, coco milk and coriander.
Heat oven to 200 degrees C. Pour remaining soy sauce over cashews and bake for 10 mins.
Serve soup with coriander and cashews sprinkled on top. (In my experience they don't float on top like in the picture....but still taste yumola).

Munching in Munchen

Sorry I know its a terrible title but couldn't resist.

So its Monday morning, my 7:30(AM) class is done and I now have a break until my second one at 2:00. So far, I’ve sent a blistering (for me) email to the language school explaining that if they don’t pay me today for last month ('you bastards'….not in email - I just thought that) I won’t be able to get to my class tomorrow due to lack of funds for a train fare. Then I wrote another email to try to get the work visa application process moving as a girl has to plan her life (or at least her Christmas holidays). I have called all my friends in Frankfurt (ie Smithy) and arranged a lunch date. But that still leaves a few hours. Hmmmmm. Blogging it is then.

Weekend in Munich report –

We wanted to have a weekend away and decided on Munich as I thought I should see at least one other German city before I leave the country. We didn’t have much planned, well anything really, and didn’t take a guidebook. As a result we did very little apart from eat (which was perfect really). We stayed at the Belle Blue – highly recommended – newly renovated rooms painted blue with a glass panel from the room to the bathroom, making the room seem much bigger. The only downside to that was not being able to go to the loo all weekend. Excellent location just near the train station and very central. Also on the same street as the “Girls! Girls! Girls!” bars which could be a plus or minus depending on your point of view. Not too seedy to be uncomfortable though. And I think the breakfast would have been really good too if we’d made it out of bed in time. (Why do these free breakfasts always finish so early?!!!)

Friday night after we arrived (3 1/2 hours by train from Frankfurt) we went to a great wine bar / restaurant whose name I can’t remember (help me out here Smithy?). But was excellent anyway. Quite exotic food although fashionably small portions.

Saturday night we briefly visited the Hof Brauhaus – massive beer hall – not for wine lovers or vegetarians. For dinner we went to a restaurant called Makassar – run and owned by the fabulous Roland and Roger. Food and ambience is French with a colonial/Asian twist. The place was heaving and when our table didn’t become vacant Roland set us up in the corner of the bar which ended up being much more fun. We had a birds eye view of all the action and random people came and chatted to us all night. Later in the evening another guest, Erik who was quick to tell us he was half Italian (like I couldn’t guess from the leather racing jacket) started chatting. He had something to do with the music industry and the label for German Pop Idol and had met Guy Sebastian (who he thought was from New Zealand). Then his friend Simone was telling us about her job in the film industry - when films come out in Germany her job is “facilitation” working for a Hollywood producer called Morris someone or other. Which we ascertained wasn’t PR or event management but involves talking to lots of film stars like Colin Farrell and directors (Oliver Stone). She had spent a year in LA and had some great stories. And Roget was a chef on Jaques Cousteau’s ship in a past life. Very entertaining crowd. When we finally left it was snowing gently outside.

This is our view from the bar and party-dog below.


Cool party-dog

Sunday, November 14, 2004


Eschersheimer Turm

This fairy-tale tower is right in the middle of Frankfurt opposite the English cinema (hence the name Turm Palast). Its not really an attractive area and there's a daggy bar at the bottom with neon lights. But at sunset the colours look spectacular and I keep expecting Rapunzel to pop her head out of a window at the top looking for a knight passing by. Or is it a prince? Anyways. We're off to the movies to see either Shark Tales or the Manchurian Candidate.

ps: As you may have guessed by the flurry of new photos I finally managed to buy a digital camera - a gorgeous little Canon ixus - sooooo cool.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

London Singapore Frankfurt London

I haven't written all week because I've just been too busy being nervous and Stewie-ing (see first post). After suffering from a split personality all week (helen 1: "of course you've got the job they loved you"/ helen 2: "there's no way they're going to hire you") I finally got an email late Friday night (thank goodness cause there's no way my nerves could have survived a whole weekend of the two helens not knowing) to say that "We would like to offer you the position of Advisor" AND that "We very much hope that you will accept our offer." Awwww. Okay then.

So I don't know when I'll start but probably as soon as the work visa is sorted. I'll find out more when I talk to them to engage in seriously tough salary negotiations (ha ha!).

Needless to say I'm a bit fuzzy-headed from the champers last night and am about to open another bottle now.

Helping me celebrate last night were Jake & Jo and Nomes (Smithy's sis). They all arrived yesterday arvo for the weekend just in time for the first day of sunshine since I got back from holidays. Steve who got called at 1am on Thursday night and was told to get on the first flight to London to do his stuff there arrived back this arvo and promptly went to bed. He didn't get to the hotel at all and did his second all nighter for the week.

Tonight we are going to a Turkish restaurant at Sachsenhausen. Yum!!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


I arrived at the reception desk for one of my classes today shivering with a bright red nose from the cold and said in my pidgin Deutsch "Sehr kalt!!". He just looked at me and said "Frisch". Fresh my freezing fingers - I just looked it up and it was 1 degree!!! Fresh for Alaska maybe. And tomorrow we go negative. Minus 1. Thank goodness for the fashionable brown sleeping bag I now wear everywhere.

Had my interview in London yesterday. Met with four people over two hours. They said they would get back to me by the end of the week. Not really sure how it went - complete tenterhooks.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Friday, November 05, 2004

Turning Cool

Quote of the day from a student - "I can't read today". "Why not?". "I have a cool". Ah ha.

Speaking of cool, its turning quite chilly here now. Being out and about, standing on windy train platforms has prompted me to invest in one of these fantastic down sleeping bag jackets. It keeps me toasty warm and its light too. An added advantage is that with the hood and deep pockets I don't need a beanie and gloves thereby saving hundreds in lost warming devices over winter. The downside is that I look like a big dag compared to the stylish Euro types. But quite frankly my dear, if I'm warm and can therefore leave the house, I don't give a damn.

Toasty warm in new Jacket

I had a very German experience yesterday. I want to take some pictures of the beautiful autumn leaves and colours out at the moment. I finally decided after months of agonizing and borrowing other people's cameras that I would buy a digital camera (I need it for the blog you see). So on Friday I went down to Saturn the big electronics store in town with a determined stride. A very nice assistant helped me test and compare practically every camera in the store and I after about an hour I finally decided on a cute little Canon. We chose the extra memory card and a case and he even spent about ten minutes looking on the web for English instructions for me. I went up to the checkout with my exciting bundle ready for a burst of creative photography and whiped out my trusty Visa card. The guy looked at me confused and said "Um..we don't take credit cards. Only cash or bank cards". "Ah". "But you can go to the cash machine and get out some money and come back". Hmmm.. yes. If I had any money to get out. So I cheerfully lied and said "Okay thanks, see you soon" and slunk out of the shop in defeat. How do these people survive without credit cards?!!

Other exciting news, I'm off to London again on Monday for a third interview. Its looking good. Knock wood.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Cottage capers

Chances are you weren't...but just in case you were wondering where I'd got to for the past couple of weeks - here is what I've been up to - redecorating the cottage in Melmerby -

From this...... this!!

All with hardly any blood and sweat and practically no tears!

The Changing Rooms/Renovation Rescue crews would be proud!

We painted all the bedrooms upstairs and now have a blue room, green room and the not quite so exciting ivory room. Also managed to get most of downstairs done as well, bar the kitchen. Four days of painting, two days of moving furniture and listening to the carpet layer complain non-stop, a mad dash to Ikea and the place looks fabulous (dahling!). The living room particulaly is a masterpiece with the fantastally cosy red feature wall and cheeky gold mirror unexpectely found in a dustly little shop down an ally way in Penrith (room by Smithy). I think Smithy was greatly relieved to have at least one masculine gentlemen's club style room after I went around painting other rooms in pretty colours and putting up floral prints on the wall willy-nilly.

You can see some photos of the results of our work here.

After the week up North I ventured down to London in search of fame and fortune. Though would be happy with a modest but regular income. Caught up with some people and had a couple of "meetings" about potential jobs. Waiting (with very few fingernails left) for some feedback as we speak.

Back to Frankfurt on Saturday and have had a pretty busy week with lots of classes. On Monday we went to visit Steve's previous German teacher to give her a hand moving some furniture and to look at a sofa bed going cheap (very comfortable to those considering visiting) as she's moving to London. Claudia being European can of course speak about 20 languages and her French Mamon Jaqueline was there lending a hand. Both of them were decked out for the task of moving furniture in full makeup and heels (actualy the part about the heels isn't true at all but they still managed to look incredibly glamorous anyway). Moving furniture was rewarded with Champagne and a special goose spread (no not that type of special goose spread). Smithy and I happily sat sipping bubbles and munching on special goose spread that I have forgotten the name of, listening to stories about life in Germany and summer holidays in Bordeaux.

Now being the domestic goddess that I am, I am about to whip up a maggi assisted spag bol and veg on the couch.