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Monday, 14 October 2013

Frankfurt Book Fair 2013 - a family adventure

Its the biggest book fair in the world and it is in the city we live. So we could not pass by the opportunity to go and check it out.

The tickets included public transport and it was all on my phone. I love technology when it works like this. It was 3 degrees but we got going early to try to avoid the main crowds. And there were crowds.

They found the Gruffalo!
We love reading - any time, any place!
Checking out the new releases.
I had quickly noted down some of the children's attractions, so we had a vague plan of action. Initially bumping into the Gruffalo we meandered way through many of the children's book publishers before making our way to the Kids Bubble. It was the first event that I thought might interest the kids - the launch of the Griaffe-Affe audio book. The Giraffe-Affe is an imaginary animal that is part monkey and part giraffe. Our littlest one was lucky enough to catch one as they were thrown into the audience. We were then treated to a musical performance. The songs sung in the audio version of the book. They were sung by a guy who was a previous contestant on The Voice of Germany. Then the actor who made the audio book, read from the book. The kids were enchanted by his voices and sound effects of all the characters. A great start and one that found as returning to the Kids Bubble throughout the day.

The Kids Bubble and the Giraffe-Affe
The fair is a huge event and encompasses everything to do with books. Of course there was the technology and new forms but I didn't even get to those specialist halls. There were stands with just paper, beautiful paper that I had to touch. There were thousands of books from all over the world waiting for someone to buy the rights to translate them into another language. Stands were dedicated to all the accessories you can buy in a bookshop. There was even a "walk of calenders".

But there were a few areas that particularly interested me. The Gourmet Gallery. It was full of cookbooks, wonderful cookbooks. I was drooling. There was a Prosecco Bar and a demonstration kitchen where famous cooks were cooking live recipes from their books. I could have stayed there all day paging through the books.

And some of us are having a good time!
Trying to get a feel for the crowds in the Comics area - it was packed.
The Comic area was incredible. Comics are alive and well. You could even create your own comics with the aid of technology. They had lots of tablets and individuals could create a comic. You choose images or made a collages of images then add your own text or the suggestions. These where then on large screens, so everyone passing could read the comics being made real time. How cool is that!

Then there were the famous comic artists drawing for their fans. The queues were amazing, but the art work that each person received was done with care and the joy of sharing the comic passion. Some were taking a good 10mins to paint or draw wonderful images. It was clear that those receiving the art were delighted and their long wait made worthwhile.

Watching a comic artist at work
Then there were the Manga fans. At first I thought it was some workers on the stands dressed up. How cool I thought. Then I saw 10, then 20 then 50......and throughout the day 1,000's of people dressed up. Most were quite sophisticated costumes that must have taken hours to prepare. The hair alone was impressive. I was a bit hesitant to take photos as did not want it to seem that I was making fun of them. To balance it out there were Hufflepuff fans and for some people you had to wonder if it was their real clothes or they were also "in character".

Wanting to be a fairy princess
Our own Giraffe-Affe
What else at a book fair - places to hang out and read and relax.
Release of a movie with the child stars and author/movie producer.
The end of our day was a movie-book release. The author/movie producer of the Wild Kerle (sounds better in German), read from the book and we got a sneak preview of movie. Two of the children actors were there and talked about their time making the movie. Marlene bought the books and got them signed by the author and the actors - she was delighted.

All in all a fabulous day. I congratulate all those who put in so much creative spirit and energy in making it such a wonderful event. I can't wait to return next year. Who is joining us?

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Hairdresser

There is nothing more fraught with nerves and danger than trying out a new hairdresser - especially when you don't speak the lingo. Having short hair most of my life, a visit to the hairdresser has not usually phased me - taking off a ski helmet is another story as you might recall. As if anything really goes wrong I have consoled myself that it will grow back or out or something.

I do recall an incident when I was 4-5 years old and decided that I did not want a fringe, so I just cut it off. My mother did not see it so black and white. It might be where my hair mantra will grow back or out or something.

Today I went to a new hairdresser in Frankfurt. I had been tempted to test the place 200m from our front door step - what a convienience. But Ron had been there for a hairuct and the free added spiritual awakening (in which he did not awake). I was not sure that I would not have laughed out loud when following the haircut she danced some voodoo stuff and waved essential oils around my head. Needless to say Ron is giving the voodoo hairdresser a pass. Although no spiritual awakeneing - he nows believes he can sing demonstated outside the Alte Oper, Frankfurt.


In the last 10 years or so the hairdresser has meant communicating in a foreign lanaguge: French, "Austrian", Hungarian and now German. My french usually meant that I ended up with hair much shorter than I had wanted. In Austria I sometimes took Ron to translate but that also did not work. Hungarian was another story and you always ended up with red hues reagrdless of what colour you requested. I had a friend who never did her colour and a haircut at the same time in Hungary. She exclained that she could not cope if both the cut and the colour were wrong! In Hamburg I just went to the most expensive hairdresser and crossed my fingers and smiled. The results were variable but I finally got the colour right!

My Frankfurt hairdresser research involved asking a lady (that we know) with what I consider to be fine, straight hair. Just like me! Luckily she was not the least worried by my request and gave me the number of the "Hair Palace". She told me that its run by a Chinese guy and she figured he must be good with straight hair, given most Chinese have straight hair!

So I went to make an appointment - by ringing the Wong number. I spoke with his wife and asked only for an appointment in the morning - "Morgen". She thought I meant morgen as in was a public holiday, so they were closed. After a bit of back and forth we finally got to an understanding that my Morgen was mornings, not tomorrow (small "m" morgen). I don't know how you can say that in German. Finally appointment made.

I decided to drive downtown. Parking in the middle of town is dead cheap - its amazing. We don't know another major city that has such inexpensive parking. For 2.5hrs I paid 5 Euro. And it would have cost me 2 Euro each way on the tram plus 15min walk. So since it was a "ME" morning I forked out the extra Euro for the convienince of central city parking and not damaging my new hair cut on public transport.

Result you ask? Well he said he would just trim the ends. But I said I wanted a tad more. So it is a bit shorter than I had imagined. The problem when both are not speaking thier mother tongues. But I am happy and I will stick with this salon and hairdresser during out time in Frankfurt - chop chop.

He is a bad attempt at the post hairdesser selfie.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Things I'll miss....

We are now officially in the Big Smoke,  Frankfurt am Main. We are enjoying city life again. During the move in week (without kids) we went to 3 different restaurants - Vietnamese, Indian and Italian. It was such a treat.

In the last 7 days we had 3 sets of visitors, so were able to discover the city with them. We are 7 tram stops from the main shopping street. There is a great food market there with all sorts of international goodies. I am so excited to go shopping for some special treats.

Although we are excited to discover our new home town there are thing we will miss about leaving our lil' village - Estebrügge.

  • Going to buy milk at the corner shop (10 metres from our front door) and coming back 15 mins later after chatting with several people. It was almost impossible to pop in and out :-)
  • The heard of sheep 5 mins walk from the door step.....although I suspect Goldie misses them more than we do. She would kiss them through the fence.
  • Giving the "wave or local village salute" to every other car that drives down the street, as you know who they are. 
  • Knowing your kids can walk or ride to a friends house or after school activity in realtive safety. Everyone is watching.
  • Bridge to Bridge - its just over a 2km walk and it needs its own post one of these days.
  • The beautiful black Galloway cows - that we then purchased later for the BBQ. Always good to know where your meat comes from!
  • The Este moods and the distinct seaonal changes.

  • The local wildlife (and the local kids!). We saw baby ducklings and deer on a regular basis.

The following is one of my favourite photos. I recall it had been raining constantly the whole day. As soon as there was a bit of sun we left the house to take the dog for a walk. It was a stunning afternoon as the sun pushed its way through the receeding clouds.

Most of all we will miss the friends we made. But never fear, the Estebrugger Market is next weekend! We are travelling north to see friends and have a fun weekend. Our guest room was well tested in the last week, so we hope to see some of them down south for some Apfel Wine and Grune Soße - the local specialities.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The tails of Yin and Yang

Here are Yin and Yang. Otherwise known as Ziggie and Goldie. They are related - not just sharing some labrador origins but they have the same mother (Sandy). They have different fathers, which is probably quite obvious and we won't talk anymore about that. They are about 2 years apart, Ziggie being the older step brother. Ziggie belongs to my parents in law and Goldie is our doggie. 


Goldie was born in Austria, grew up in Budapest before moving near Hamburg. Here she is sleeping on the overnight train from Vienna to Hamburg.

Goldie is now on holidays in Burgenland, Austria before traveling to her new home in Frankfurt. She is a European traveller and fond of other animals. Here she is licking a sheep. I am sure she is just being friendly and not wondering what it might taste like!

She is also fond of the cows as they have similar colourings. She often gives them a good lick on the nose and cheek. They don't seem to mind.

She likes chasing the farm cats - but has toned down this activity in the last few weeks. I suspect the cats now taunt her a little. But they know all the escape routes. Anyone who knows Goldie will be surprised at this photos: dog and cat so close to each other.

In Estebrügger she was known as the "dorf hund" or village dog. She was regularly walked by various neighbourhood kids and was more well known than ourselves in the village. Here she is getting some love and attention she lacks at home. She is NEVER allowed on the chair at home - poor thing!

Ziggie is dearly loved in his home town and visits local friends for an extra snack or meal and in winter likes to visit for a cosy nap by the fire at someone else's house! Being part of the farm and B&B he is one of the reasons families return year after year as the kids just adore him and he soaks up the attention. Who can not resist those gorgeous eyes and his George Clooney salt and pepper hair?

Even Goldie wants to give him a kiss.

But most of all they love going for walks. There is a lot of jostling to begin with as they determine that Ziggie is still the boss. Then they get on with their business of sniffing, snuffling and marking territory. They love going through the fields where there are smells of little field mouses, birds to chase and simply lots of fun to be had.

Goldie is not fond of water (screwed up Labrador DNA) but is OK to have a drink en-route. Ziggie regularly takes a dip mid walk. Now that the water is so low in the streams he just sits down in the muddy puddles to cool off. The advantages of being a farm dog!

This is a typical scene from our walks. Side by side down the road, keeping under the speed limit and looking for mischief and a snack.

Exhausted after a walk, Goldie stretches out on the cool stones.

Ziggie is even more exhausted as his tongue flops out of his mouth and he remains in the following position for the next few hours.

This post is for Billie. A four legged friend of Goldie from her Budapest days. Billie is now in doggy heaven and will be terribly missed.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Este Moods

I grew up close to the sea. In Sydney you are usually just a walk away from water - be it the harbour or the beach. Water plays a huge role in Australia's image. From the land of beaches or deserts the size of small European countries. There are the water restrictions, but then floods. Its truly dynamic.

Three years ago we had the chance to live on a river and we jumped at it (and later in it). Although not Manly Beach or Sydney was moving water. And moving water has moods - I like that. There is nothing like watching water, there is always something to observe and enjoy.

Here is a winter mood. Huge ice blocks floating down the river and crashing into the sides and to the large metal palings by the bridge. Its a pretty loud crashing and crunching noise.

High tide in autumn and a couple of swans.

A spring afternoon walk - finally the sun appeared after more than a day of rain. I think it was worth the wait to see the sun push through the clouds.

Up close and personal - on the river in our canoe Molly.

Another canoe shot from our garden as they paddle upstream to Buxtehude. Goldie observes but is not interested in jumping in. Thank goodness we have a labrador that is not fond of water.

Fun in the snow and very cold in the water - only small pieces of ice on the surface. A snowman waving hello.

A huge barge on the river as the bridge opens to let it through. Fire station boat in foreground. Never a dull moment!

A moody autumn day at high tide and reflections.

A hot summer day and some cool customer in sunnies floats by!

Hot day, high tide and my kids dive into the Este.

And two crazy guys jumping from the bridge.....

We loved our piece of the Este, it was always changing - which is the only constant in life.
Goodbye for now.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Bridge Jumpers

The recent warmer weather brought out the village idiots. Who is that climbing over the bridge to jump in the water....oh its the man that I married.

He was testing this as a new hobby? Well that is what he claimed. There were also some more swimmers ready to cool down from the heat.

Kicking around at high tide.

The next day saw more takers. Three crazy girls.

Racing each other across the river.

Splashing competitions

All wrapped up and ready for a warm shower.

Not to be outdone by the girls, the boys also decided to show them how it is done....from the bridge.

He they go and with an audience. They had mistimed the jump as the tide had turned and ended up having a tough swim against the current to get home and climb over the fence.

Then there was BBQ and beer and then we let the kids watch TV = happiness for all.