Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The City of London


found here

London can frustrate and anger you. It can turn you into a walking zombie with no regards for your fellow citizens but it can also bring out the most creative person in you, it challenges you and makes you feel alive. You can find the unexpected and the beautiful around a very unassuming corner.

And here are ten more reasons not to leave London!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Christmas Cookies

This year we will be staying in London over Christmas - it has been a while since we last did this. Normally we head to Germany to see friends and family - and taste all the lovely Christmas cookies friends, aunts and grandfathers are baking. The mother of a friend of mine used to make at least 10 different ones (and she was a working mum, unstoppable in every respect!) I will be missing the variety since only my daughter really likes mince pies.

My mother had two recipes, one to make with us kids, involving cookie cutters and lots of hundreds and thousands, the other a lovely tasting but rather weird looking (somewhat like the sole of a shoe) biscuit, made after an old family recipe.

Amazingly we have already managed to make my son's favourite cookies and once my daugthter's social diary offers a slot there will be more baking!!

Here are some lovely pictures from Fraeulein Klein's  blog with some of our favourites, some of them with a new twist.  Let me know if you like a translation ;-)

Monday, 17 November 2014

11 Idioms only Brits can understand

11 idioms that will make you sound nearly native! Check them out here.

if a fox can wear a bowler hat and carry an attacher case to work...then so can we! (eastwitching on etsy)
found here

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Very British Problems

Here is a link to a very useful Twitter account, which highlights the British obsession with unlimited cups of tea, profuse apologies and the right biscuit for the all important and problem solving tea break. Enjoy!!     Very British Problems (@SoVeryBritish)

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Bilingual Brains

On the subject of bilingualism - here is an interesting article, found in the Economist: "Moving between languages, not just the knowledge of two of them, may be a key part of the bilingual advantage."
The author compares this to cross fit, an approach to fitness where routine is the enemy! So, on top of all the other advantages of speaking more than one language - it can keep you fitter, for longer! I like that thought!

When you think about it, only a few countries have only one language, so being at least bilingual is the norm for most.

Check out some more advantages here.

found here
New York Times article on bilingualism from 2012

Wednesday, 15 October 2014


The exhibition: "Languages that changed my life" is being held at the Guardian offices in London until the 31. October 2014 (90 York Way, King's Cross) and here is a little snapshot about languages by Paddy Ashdown.
The Guardian, it seems, is planning a series about Language Learning in the coming months and I am looking forward to it. 

Growing up on the continent with the next border  (and language) just around the corner, it always feels so much better to be able to understand and speak at least a bit of French, Danish, Italian etc. A world capital like London should make you equally aware of other languages and cultures. However here  English seems to stop a lot of people venturing into unknown territory because it is after all a global language. 

Somehow that seems to be reflected in how foreign languages are being taught in British schools. Its rigid examination procedure stops an imaginative teacher dead in his or her tracks because certain subjects have to be covered in a certain way at a certain time. On top of that one can hardly blame the kids of loosing interest when they find out that exactly the same subjects are being covered in all the other modern languages (your pets, your home, five a day, keep fit and healthy and look after your body, environmental issues, juvenile delinquency!) etc.  - here I started to believe in brainwashing since the last few subjects are also discussed in classes like social science etc. ...)  The school books hardly touch on the culture of the country nor do they leave enough time to check out samples of foreign literature apart from the required texts. If you are hunting for good grades, you cannot divert. It is a very detached way of teaching, immersive it is not.

Glad I got this off my chest. Therefor, on a more humorous note, have a look at James Chapman's approach to languages - the Soundimals.

found here

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


We loved doing this game on a piece of paper. Someone would draw the head, fold the paper over and pass it on. The next one draws the belly and so on. Wild and wonderful creatures would finally jump of the page!
I also remember wonderful books where you could flip different parts back and forth to make the most scary creatures. And now, of course, there is an app for it: Miximal (for Iphone and Ipad). And it looks fab! You can mix and match over 1000 animals and it comes with 5 languages incl. German!! Will pass it on to my nieces pronto. I am sure it will shorten any drive (half term is coming up).

found via SwissMiss

Monday, 6 October 2014

Anselm Kiefer

We went to see the Anselm Kiefer Exhibition at the Royal Academy with the kids last weekend. His work is monumental. Kiefer is an artist who inspires on so many different levels. I love the size, the colours, materials and the thoughts and connections Kiefer makes in his works. There are difficult questions being asked regarding our recent German history and our dealings with it. We are let way back through layers upon layers of the history of the world, Paul Celan, Ingeborg Bachmann, Wagner and the Grimms at our side.

This is one of my favourites of this exhibition, made especially for the Royal Academy (till 14.12.2014)

Ages of the World
Ages of the World by Anselm Kiefer
found here

The Catalogue is worth checking out as is this review in the Guardian

Friday, 26 September 2014

Bricks on Brick Lane

Get in touch with your inner child and take your kids along, too. This is beyond any Star Wars creation collecting dust on the shelf .... The Art of Brick by Nathan Sawaya at the Truman Brewery.

found here

Ed Miliband's 2014 Labour Conference Speech

Here is a link to Ed Miliband's speech at the conference.

I don't want to get all political on you but I just can't understand why these conference speeches have to work with the lowest denominator possible. It just does not flex the brain one bit, it does not inspire nor does it fill me with confidence that he / his party will tackle the problems ahead. I am not taking sides, I think this is a problem all these speeches have, no matter which party! I at least want to get the feeling that he has something to bring to the table I might not have been able to describe, envisage or thought of in that way .... Not everybody has to grasp absolutely everything immediately. And please leave out the "personal encounters" with the general public. It is so condescending and really gets to me every time!!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Great River Race

Don't forget the Great River Race this Saturday! It should be a sight - much more colourful than the Oxford - Cambridge race ;-), and it last longer !
My son's school will take part and it is just astonishing, that these boys (helped by some teachers) make it all the way to Ham House!! And all in the name of their chosen charity Macmillan Cancer Support!!

found here

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

grey or green - oh, the choices

This should help my vocabulary beyond 'grey or green' - just what I need to get inspired, at my desk and out there !!! I know there are many more names out there (some quite outlandish - just picture a builder ordering 2l of cat's paw ...). but these names mostly have a good link to the actual colour. However, it also shows how very personal colour description can be.

found here (and there is more)

"Ingrid Sundberg, a writer and children's book illustrator, created a useful info graphic chart for anyone struggling with colour names. The writer says that she loves to collect words that can help give her stories variety and depth."

Monday, 22 September 2014

Exhibitions, Exhibitions, Exhibitions,

I am terrible when it comes to planning ahead. I am more a spur of the moment kind of girl, which does not always work in London, especially with blockbuster shows like

Anselm Kiefer at the Royal Academy

Rubens and his Legacy

Rembrandt - the late works

Then there is the Frieze Art Fair in October

and so much to see in the East End of London, when it comes to Modern Art

This is when you have to get in touch with Eastlondon Art Tours! Hymie really is in the know when it comes to known and not yet so much known modern artists.

Rubens' daughter Clara
one of my favourite paintings!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Scotland said NO !!

This huge waterfall isn’t tumbling from a Central American plateau: it’s the 60-metre-high Mealt Falls on the Isle of Skye. The imposing cliffs in the background are Kilt Rock, a rocky outcrop with vertical basalt columns said to resemble a pleated kilt.

found here