Sunday, 25 September 2011

Is that a Snickers zipping past? No, it's a Marathon.

Berlin Marathon 2011 - Paula Radcliffe. Seriously, how cool is that?

Berlin Rollerblading Marathon 2011
This weekend was Marathon weekend in Berlin. I never knew I liked marathons so much until I came here. No, scratch that, I never knew I liked spectating so much. Stevie asked whether I thought I could do a half marathon, to which I replied that I had my doubts as to whether I could run or rollerblade my way through a 1/26th marathon.

Anyway, having things like this going on in Berlin of a weekend make me glad to live here. I get that excited feeling of being in a place where there's just oodles of interesting things just around the corner. And in fact that's pretty much where they were. Last year I only discovered the rollerblading marathon because I needed to go to the supermarket and I couldn't get across the road. As it was pouring with rain, I gave up and just went home. But this year we've had fantastic weather for yesterdays' rollerblading and todays' 'proper' marathon.

I took my camera and walked a little bit along the rollerblading route and tried to capture the competitors against a bit of a Berlin backdrop. Unlike the east side of Berlin, it's a lot harder to find graffiti in the west. It also took me a while to jiggle about with my camera to get it to catch the competitors without them fuzzing into a speedy blur. But then later I realised I preferred them that way.

And then today we all went down the road to where the Ku'Damm meets Tauentzienstrasse at the Gedachtniskirche to watch the runners at the 35km mark. Last year we missed the lead runners, but holy smoke, we got to see them this time, and they are just SO fast! Unbelievably so. It's so impressive and certainly I never realised just how impressive they were whenever I had seen bits of the London Marathon on tv in years previous.

So it was great, there was a fantastic atmosphere and there were bands dotted all along the route. Where we were there was an excellent steel drum band, and just a little further down near Nike World there was a brass band squished in on the centre of the road crossing, playing contemporary music in between the pedestrian lights.

So I thoroughly enjoyed this weekend. My love for Berlin has gone up a notch, and look, LOOK! I even got a photo of Paula Radcliffe! Woo hoo!!! I'm dead chuffed.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Under a bush, down memory lane

When I was in primary school there was a boy in my class who ran away from home and hid and slept in a bush for two days before being discovered. As I recall, nobody seemed particularly concerned (well, we were only about 6 or 7 at the time), and it just seemed the kind of thing that he would do, and I suppose I just thought he'd be back at school within a few days. And he was. The thing about this boy was that he was a little bit of an oddball. A bit of a loner, a bit of a loser, didn't really talk much, oh, and often turned up to school wearing his pyjamas under his uniform. That's the bit that sticks in my head, and that's why I can totally recall this boy and his name and where he lived and what he looked like. Unlike most of the people I went to primary school with, I would probably recognise this guy if I saw him in the street.

Without ever having consciously thought it, I suppose I have always wanted to make sure I never had a kid like this boy. I have no idea what his home life was like, I just assumed it was the same as mine. Normal. But who knows. I wouldn't have known at that age what might have been going on at home, and maybe things can't be ok if you feel the need to go and hide in a bush for a couple of days. I've been thinking about this boy a bit and wondering what he's doing now. (He's not on FB so maybe he's got more of a life than me).

Yesterday Orla came home from school missing her school sweatshirt which I discovered was in with all her soaking wet swimming things. According to her, her teacher told her to put it in there. Not anything at all to do with the fact that she hates wearing it because it's too big. Anyway, peeking out at the top of her polo shirt I caught sight of a pink t-shirt. My automatic reaction was to assume that we must be into 'hinting season': where teachers and Kita careworkers drop subtle hints to me to tell me that my kids aren't wearing anywhere near enough clothes. 'Bugger!' I thought. Is it that time already?

On closer inspection, it became apparent that it wasn't the teacher dropping hints, but in actual fact her father quite possibly being asleep when he started dressing her. For Orla was wearing her Minnie Mouse pyjama top underneath her school uniform. Oh the shame!! It wouldn't have been quite so bad except that she'd had swimming so there was definitely someone who saw it, but most often it's not the actual class teacher that takes them to the swimming pool. So to top it off Orla decided that she would like to show her teacher her Disney Princess knickers (as you do) so I can be pretty certain that she saw her pyjamas too. Oh, the double shame! Eek! Incidentally, her teacher said 'Nice...'. Though I would have thought a 'Wow! Cool! I've got those too! Gleiche!' would have been more appropriate.

And now I am wondering whether the boy in my class who sometimes wore his pyjamas under his uniform maybe just had to dress himself or had a really tired father.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The one where we're not on tv.

Nice fridge, but you can keep the rest of the show me something with a pool!

So last week I was approached to be on tv. Sadly not for my wit and depth of knowledge on the subject 'boys in tights', but for my other specialism: checking out houses. Specifically it was for us to appear on an American programme similar to 'Location, location, location', but with an expat twist. Part travel show, part aspirational house hunt. Totally up my street, in more ways than one.

In my quest to try something different this year, I was of the opinion that this would be loads of fun. I really enjoyed being shown round apartments when we first came here, and this struck me as even more fun as we didn't even have the pressure of actually having to find one to live in quite urgently.

The plan was they would film the show in reverse. They'd film us in our current apartment all settled and still no pictures hardly on the walls cause the walls are too big. And we'd be all cheery and happy because we'd be pretending that we'd just moved in and we wouldn't yet have discovered that the shower ran cold all the time and the dishwasher was leaving the dishes dirtier after washing them, and we wouldn't have experienced that awful winter where our 'heritage' windows practically fell apart and were draughty as hell and we wouldn't have known that our landlord was so rubbish with English that he thinks 'heritage' and 'total crap' mean the same thing.

Then the film company would have all our furniture removed and they'd film us viewing the apartment empty, and then they'd put everything back again, and then we'd go on to view another two apartments and all the little aspirational bits and bobs in-between: me aspirationally dumping the kids off in the creche in the KaDeWe and then nipping upstairs, buying a new book, racing up to the top floor bar to drink beer and read half my book before the creche calls me to remind me I have kids. Stevie being filmed in IKEA aspirationally being accused of shop-lifting, and then discovering that his aspirational girlfriend has cancelled his card thinking wrongly that her purse had been stolen. And of course all those little bits showing us enjoying the Berlin landmarks, where the digital editors would have to photoshop out the wet, stream-like marks on the Brandenburg Gate and Fernsehturm, Gedachtniskirche, and Check Point Charlie where Hamish would have taken aspirational pee-pees. the dream!

But then 'the killjoy', previously known as Stevie, said that it was too much hassle, and couldn't see what was fun about having the house turned upside down and taking time off work to film for 3 days, and having to fly back to Scotland for a day with the kids, and...etc....etc.....just because I wanted to be on tv.

But I didn't want to be on tv, never have. That was the beauty of this! Nobody I knew would see it, so not only could I make a fool of myself, but I also wouldn't need to go on a sudden, extreme crash diet! It would just be good fun. But Stevie was dead against it, so that was the end of that. And uch well, I suppose there was no Phil and Kirstie...

Friday, 16 September 2011

We came, we saw, we conkered.

Autumn is definitely on it's way. The streets of Berlin are beginning to tell us. In this city of avid smokers, in amongst the cigarette butts strewn all over the pavements, leaves are starting to appear. Leaves and those little helicopter things, and nuts and stuff for squirrels to scoff (when they're not cycling and smoking at the same time). In a little digression, I saw a woman cycling the other day while smoking with  a baby in a papoose on her front and a toddler in the child seat on the back. That's multi-tasking Berliner style.

Everything is starting to change. The light is different, and jackets are starting to be worn (yes, yes, I know the German's were wearing fleeces under their jackets even during summer, but we're talking about Scottish people   with good circulation). There are tiny baby pumpkins sneaking on to the outdoor tables of the florists shops, and ginormous stalls appearing in the markets selling socks, piled high in every colour of the desaturated slightly sludgey rainbow.

But more than that, it's conker season. Hamish and I have been on the prowl. He doesn't understand my excitement at discovering them under trees. I gasp "Oh. My. God! That's massive!!" as we race to collect them. In my mind, it is just sheer chance that we have discovered them before anyone else has, and nabbed the lot. Hamish is more discerning. He's looking for ones still in their casing, and the best ones are those which come with two or sometimes three in the one 'shell'. His joy comes from finding 'a mummy, a daddy, and a baby'. But so far we've only come across a couple of other people collecting conkers. There are huge conkers lying around under trees just glistening and calling for people to stuff their pockets with. How can this be? Don't they know there should be battles taking place between children (and adults alike who remember the thrill of finding the best conkers)? I fear I will never understand Berliners.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Motherhood: the Grandma edition

Orla & Mamie share a joke about smocking. Orla at 10 weeks old. 

Orla has been saying for a couple of weeks that she'd like a baby. Not me having a baby, but one of her own. She has plans to have two: one girl (named Lucy of course, the same as her pillow, fluffy dog, ceramic dog, and countless dolls and toys), and one boy (named Ben). I told her that she might have two girls or two boys or the boy might come first before the 'Lucy-Baby'. 

Orla: "What do you mean 'just boys'?"
Me: "Well, look at Granny Margaret; she had Daddy, Uncle Craig, and Uncle James. No girls."
Orla: "Does she know that's a pity?"
Me: "I'm sure she thinks that most days (laughing inwardly)"
Orla: "Did you want a baby when you were my age?"
Me: "No. I'm pretty sure I wanted a dog."
Orla: (Incredulous) "Why didn't you want a baby?"
Me: "I just didn't. I think I preferred dogs."
Orla: "Didn't you know then that it would be nicer living with me than living with Mamie?"
Me: "....I guess not."

And now I'm left wondering if she would prefer living with a baby than living with me.....sniff. 4 years old and ready to move out. 

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Mummy & the Bus Driver up a tree...

I am pretty sure the school bus driver fancies me.

Though he is a lot more (and I mean A LOT) than 10 years old, he is displaying all the classic signs of a youth in love.

The evidence:
Day 1. He made sure I noticed him by tapping his watch to show me it was 7:31am and not 7:30am. Petty, but hey-ho, I noticed him.

Day 2. He made rude faces at me as I discovered at the last second that Orla needed a wee-wee and had to race her off to the back garden before her hour long journey just as the bus was pulling up to collect her.

Day 3. He very nearly smacked me in the face with the door as I attempted to just say 'bye' to Orla. 4

Day 4. He arrived before 7:30am, didn't even slow down to stop, and drove off without picking up Orla. When Orla and Stevie went downstairs for 7:30am and waited 5 minutes, the lady who runs the cafe next door told him the bus had been and hadn't stopped. Well, that's one way to get me to call. I called and was told to wait on a call back to tell me what was happening. He didn't call. I called back 3 times and there was no answer. I left messages. I pleaded with him to call me back. He didn't call. Stevie called from a different number. He answered. How pathetic is that? Later he told the school that there were no lights on in our apartment, so he just went. He doesn't know which apartment is ours. ...unless he's been watching from his tree house.

Day 5. He played it cool.

Next week I bet he gives me a dead arm.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Wake Mummy up before you go go.

 The day before school. Opening the Schultüte
 Modelling the Schultüte. Maybe I should have stuck the little boats on the other way up to make it more 'wearable'.
 This was meant to be her 'first day of school' photo, but there was too much dancing for joy for me to get a good one.
Arriving at school, deliriously happy at the prospect of driving lessons.

The big day is here at last. Orla's first day at school. Can you see how happy she is to be in the midst of English speakers? Thrilled! That's putting it mildly. I hope that it's everything that she imagines it will be. And if it is, then by the time she gets home not only will they have thrown her a special party to celebrate the fact that she is a "real princess" (Dora the Explorer's words, not mine), but they will have taught her how to drive. Which will be really handy, as it's an extraordinary long journey to get to school on the school bus and back.

The bus picked her up at 7:30 this morning. Or rather 7:31 as he pointed out to me on his watch. I had thought of going on the bus with her on the first few days to make sure she wasn't overwhelmed by the whole experience, but I'd been told that there would be a teacher on the bus and she would be fine. So, instead we all got into the car a little bit later and went to the school to meet her at the other end. They didn't arrive until nearly 9am, which seems like a long time to be on a bus getting to school. Especially when you have the same thing at the end of the day and won't get home until 4:50pm.

I'm expecting her to be utterly exhausted when she gets home. She's never been to nursery or Kita for this many hours, so she won't be used to it. Nor is she used to getting up at 6:30am. She generally likes to rise some time after 8 and have a leisurely breakfast. It was a bit shattering for all of us quite honestly. Especially as Hamish hasn't slept properly in the past 2 days and has been crying every hour of the night. Quite why, I haven't worked out yet, but there's something brewing.

Hamish of course is devastated that he's not getting to go to 'big boy's school'. I would happily send him to be honest. For all my previous uniform moans, it is a great school. So, unlike the traditional mother crying at the school gates, I was really pleased to see her so happy and excited, and anyway, Hamish was crying enough for all of us. He does understand that he's not old enough yet to go, but says it's not fair, and I said what's not fair is that they chose yellow as a major colour component in their uniform when very few people can wear it. He just nodded and cried a bit more, recognising that this was indeed the case for him.

Yesterday, we did the Schultüte presentation thing yesterday morning. I had been told that she would have to take hers to school with her on the first day and then found out last week that she wasn't. So it was nice to be able to see her opening it at home. Hamish got a little one too. His was filled with Haribo, choclate buttons, stickers, a little car, a zebra, and any other bits and bobs I could find. I rushed to make his as I suddenly realised he would go bananas seeing Orla with one, especially if it contained anything edible. As it was he was desperately jealous of her school supplies. The Schultüte is meant to contain stationary items such as pencils and pens and rulers and all that malarky along with sweets and little toys. In Orla's I put some pencils and so on, along with hair clips and bobbles that she'll need to keep her hair tidy for school, and a purse (though I doubt if she'll need that yet), a Disney Princess toy, and the same sweeties and chocolate that Hamish had in his. Both were very happy indeed - especially as the cones doubled as hats. Bonus.

So now I just need to get used to my new wake up time and avoid being a minute late for the bus and we're sorted. I have the feeling it might take me some time to get used to it. I could barely think straight this morning when I was making her packed lunch, so I hope I've not accidently packed my toast in with it. So here's to the start of school and all that it brings. And I just hope that she loves it for a long time to come.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Boys In Tights - the Spiderman sequel

I wouldn't put my face so close to that, Spiderman.
Hamish meditating on his spidey-senses - Ka-chow!

Spidey-senses at the ready! September is apon us. And you know what that signals in the minds of all my German friends? Yup, it's the beginning of the 2011 Boys In Tights season. I've written about this curious German phenomenon before and how as soon as there's a teeny change in the weather all the mothers put their little boys in tights. September is the month that this starts, and this year I am going to embrace this funny trend and join them (though maybe I'll wait until it is a little colder).

I've also written about the way shopping works over here. Once things are gone, they're gone, and god help you if you miss your chance to buy something vital and seasonal. I was in H&M (looking for PE shorts) and noticed that there were practically no boys tights left. I had previously noted that they had some nice teal and grey stripey ones, but on the website all you can see are the Cars ones. My sister thinks you can't get these in the UK, but they have them on the UK version of the site too.

Anyway, what I did find were practically the best boys tights money can buy. I got them! I got them! These are the very same tights for boys that I saw last year on a boy in Kita. The Spiderman tights with the face on the bum! Hamish was completely and utterly OVER THE MOON! Seriously. Aside from the face on the bum, they have Spiderman shooting his web on each leg and little Spiderman faces on the top of the foot. I nearly cried when I noticed that all they had left were 2 pairs both age 1-2, but I opened one out and even without stretching they were long enough to fit Hamish this year.

I figure they will do him under trousers when it's cold out, but not so cold that he needs his snowsuit on. Though Hamish really wants to show them off (and who can blame him) so may insist on wearing either just the tights or tights under shorts (I may have to draw the line there).


As a side note, a lot of people find my blog through Googling 'boys in tights'. I'm not sure if it's little boys in wooly tights that they're looking for or something a bit odder, perhaps in American Tan, but they sure do boost my daily stats up. Now be off with you, pervs! And don't darken this doorway again!! (.....Unless you're going to become a Follower.... in which case, come on in! Welcome!)

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