Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Eau de Cologne

Where to start…..we’ve been staying with Beloved's sister, M, her husband and their 3 daughters (13, 11 and 10) in Neersen for the last few days. There was no time to blog, but so many stories flying around my head that now I’ve got writer’s block!

How about Cologne? It’s more or less on the way to M’s, so we spent a few hours there on Thursday. Its one of Germany’s oldest cities, a port town on the Rhine trade route and has an amazing cathedral (dom). It’s also the Karneval capital of Germany but Karneval is a whole other story.

Cologne has some fantastic museums and galleries, but of course they’re not so compatible with Pirate Jim, so we headed straight for the Dom, which is in the middle of a huge marktplatz. It is a stunning Gothic building (contruction started in 1248) with two soaring spires that can be seen from many kilometres away. Unfortunately it is shrouded by scaffolding - a normal state I understand, as it's undergoing restoration, and it was that way when we visited in 2002 as well. Actually, I wonder that anyone has ever seen it sans scaffolding, since it took over 600 years to complete!

Here's a couple of tourists posing in front of one spire:

Although the interior is quite breathtaking for its scale and arched ceilings, I find it quite cold (not just temperature-wise) and dark. We had a wander around and lit a candle for Beloved's sick aunt.

We headed off into the lunch-time crowds in the main pedestrian mall in search of lunch, then took back streets (much more interesting than chain-store lined malls) down to the Rhine to check out the boats (ships?) and people. And ice cream.

In other news, I found a wolleladen (wool shop) called the Wollstube in a village neighbouring Neersen. Not huge, but with a good range and run by the very friendly Frau Hohmann . We chatted in a mixture of english and german and she let me fondle all the yarns and showed me a new technique with a ribbon-type yarn (Solo by OnLine; bought a ball to try a short scarf). I picked up a few balls of sock wool as training for a big buy up next week or so (2 balls of OnLine Bambus and 2 of Lana Grossa cotton stretch) and some bargain GGH 100% wool for 2 euros (not quite $3) a ball.

And of course some stitch holders. Thanks for the suggestion Taph, but Geoff's Vest is a commission, and therefore a Very Important Piece. It simply cannot go on any piece of waste of (pfiff) old shoelace. And anyway, it made the need to find a yarn shop a priority! Beloved knows that keeping me from the sticks for too long is bad for everyone.

Intersting trivia: when I asked for a set of DPNs, Frau Hohmann said "you mean sock needles". I think that sums up the German attitude to knitting really - socks, and more socks!

We are off tomorrow (solo, or rather, a duex, with Pirate Jim staying with Oma and Opa) to the north east on the Baltic Sea and the "lakes district" of Niedersachsen for a few days. Have already plotted out the yarn stops.

G x

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Thought for the day

I've been cruising the innernet trying to find wool shops "conincidentaly" close to our intended tour routes over the next few weeks (as in, "oh look what a COINCIDENCE there's a wool shop, can I just have a quick look"), and I came across this gem on the Selter (makers of Addis) website. Thought I'd share:

"The increasing popularity of knittig [sic] meets with the elementary desire to create something visible with your own hands, the yearning for peace and originality as a complement of stress of everyday life. In knitting and crochet every detail has a meaning. Repeats become a principle. Needles and wool become a source of personal traditions."

G x

p.s. little time so far to hunt and gather, but I have an excuse now having finished the back of Geoff's Vest and needing a stitch holder which I didnt bring. *doh* Will report back soon.

Good news and bad news

Good news - we've finally got an internet connection after German Telecom workers are back from their strike (don't blame them - the plan is to outsource more than 50,000 jobs).

Bad news - no pics yet, Im afraid; I can't resize any images right now (unless someone can tell me how to do it in Windows Picture and Fax viewer) to make them manageable. Promise to try harder.

Good news - we survived the 30 hours in transit reasonably well, despite no knitting. I did spend quite some time glaring at the woman c****ting in the next row though. Pirate Jim slept a bit on both legs (I mean Syd - Singapore and Sing - Frankfurt, not his own legs!!) and I even got a short nap. Arrived exhausted beyond belief but all in one piece.

Bad news - this was after a one hour delay out of Canberra due to fog in Sydney (on a flight that was supposed to leave at 1pm), and then 2 hour delay leaving Sydney due to a) other delayed passengers who didnt show, and b) an airconditioning fault. Not an auspicious beginning! But as it turned out, not highly consequential.

Good news - Beloved and Pirate Jim remembered my birthday on Saturday and suprised me with gorgeous gifts. Pics to follow. The bigger surpise was PJ saying "Happy Birthday" when his papa said "say happy birhtday to mama"!! He's a regular parrot these days, highlighting the need for his mama to watch her language.

Better news - my MIL cooked me waffles for my birthday, yum! Pics and recipe to follow.

Bad news - I still have an essay to write for my postgrad course. Not my favourite way to spend holiday time but it should be quite straighforward. Shhhh, I should be working on it now.

Good news - we've beaten the jetlag and settled in to Village life. The weather has been variable - 27 yesterday, but 15 today. It is so unbelivably, blindingly green and lush. We have already made a few great day trips. All together now..."pics to follow"! Promise.

G x

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Up, up and away....

We're almost organised...I'm always a bit stressed before we leave for overseas: what did I forget, have I got the right flight times, what if we breakdown on the way....I know, silly things, but my control-freak nature is at its worst at times like this! My head is buzzing with all the things I have to remember, but at least we leave at a sane hour (lunchtime) tomorrow, so there's plenty of time.

We've got an hour to Sydney, then 8 hours to Singapore, then 12 hours to Frankfurt. Then about 2 hours drive to The Village. You can check out the main town nearby, Brilon. They have a webcam on the town square looking at the Rathaus (Townhall), so I'll wave each time I go past! (I just looked, and its raining and 13oC....better pack another jumper I think).

I'll be posting as regularly as I can, so watch this space....Jawhol!



Monday, 14 May 2007


We are a bilingual house. My Beloved hails from Germany, from a small village of around 550 people; his parents still live there, downstairs from his older brother and his family, and down the road from his younger brother and his family (who live in their great-grandmother's house). On both his parents side they can trace their families back around 900 years - in the same village. As a fifth generation Australian of very Anglo stock, who has just moved into her 14th house in 11 years, this heritage is completely outside of my understanding.

We're off to Germany for a month in a few days, and it's always a fantastic trip. I love many things about being able to have a small share in my partner's heritage, and I'm sure I'll have the opportunity to wax lyrical about them over the coming weeks.

However I've been noticing a disturbing trend in the newspaper lately.

First, there was the cannibal case. A computer technician from Kassel (about 60kms from Beloved's village, what's more!) is on trial for advertising on the internet for, killing, dissecting and eating another person.

Then, there was a report of a man lying dead in his bed for SEVENTEEN years before anyone found him. I can't believe not one authority came chasing a bill! Still, it's a sad indictment that no one found him for so long. Essen happens to be about one and a half hours from The Village.

But this is the clincher. A man stabs his father to death, then CHOPS OFF HIS OWN HEAD with a chainsaw! I saw the headline and thought 'maybe some eastern european country, some guy whacked out on potato vodka' but NO! Another German!!

Maybe it's something in the water, but you've got to admit it's all a pretty big coincidence. Weird.

I think I might play it safe and stick to beer. And don't mention the war!


Sunday, 13 May 2007

Joys of Parenting, Day 632

As a parent, some days are better than others.

Some days, you feel like it's a miracle that you and your offspring see the sun go down without tearing each other apart; others are cruisy and fun and filled with laughs and cuddles and there's nary a tear to be seen.

Today wasn't either of those, it was somewhere in between, but I've just put Pirate Jim to bed with a definite feeling that, just maybe, I'm getting the hang of parenthood.

We've had a few weeks of struggles with getting PJ to eat his evening meal. I don't want to start horrid habits like eating in front of the telly or chasing him around with a bowl of food, so we've always sat him down with no distractions at about 530 and just focussed. I then cooked the "grownup" meal while Beloved bathed PJ and we ate after he went to bed. (Often in front of the telly, but parents are allowed to be hypocrites after the child is in bed).

Lately this hasn't been working - lots of tantrums, not much food eaten, refusing to stay at the little table. So we decided to bring dinner time back to 6pm, I would cook like crazy when I got home from work and we would all sit down together at the big table. PJ could eat as much as he was willing to put in his own mouth, we would just enjoy the time together.

We've been doing it for about 3 weeks now, with a high level of success. PJ likes to be one of the crowd and is quite willing to join in with what everyone else is doing. He even helps set the table. Eating together has been going quite well.

Tonight I realised how successful about halfway through the meal, as I watched PJ stuffing his dinner into his mouth, the same as ours - prawn, pea and spinach risotto. Last night he very happily shared the vegetable tagine with couscous that I made for our guests.

So, tonight at least, I figure we must be doing something right, if a 21-month old is happy to get into prawn risotto.

Tomorrow, however, is another day!

Happy Mothers Day to all the mums.


Friday, 11 May 2007

Catching my breath

We're having a few hours pause between guests - my parents have been visiting since Tuesday, and have taken home the dog and the cat home for a little holiday while we're overseas for a month.

I just got an sms that our next guests are about 25 minutes away; Pirate Jim is in the bath and dinner is cooked, so I'm taking a few moments with a nice cold GnT for a catch up.

1. One essay is submitted. One more to go - which I had planned to submit before we leave next Thursday, but which the decision of the imminent incoming guests to visit has put paid to. Not unhappy - would rather spend time with them than with my essay! I can't wait for this subject (and the whole degree) to be O. V. E. R.

2. At last week's SnB the lovely Janet from Canada taught me how to cable. I had previously thought this was the kntting equivalent of rocket science, or cooking souffles. Outta my league. 5 minutes with Janet later (who, it turns out, runs knitting classes and was teaching others to cable "just last week"), I realised cables are more sandwich than souffle (they can be as simple or as complicated as you like), and I got started on a cable baby beanie from Sweater Babe:

Look, cables! If I can get Pirate Jim to keep it on, i"ll post a photo on a human head instead of a plastic wine cooler. Now that I'm cable savvy, Im tring out an adult-sized version.

3. PJ's nana came bearing gifts:

A gorgeous vest from Panda book 204 knitted in some spotlight 8ply 100% wool yarn she had from last year. I think PJ might be getting accustomed to this modelling caper!

Yikes! Guests have arrived! More soon....

G x

Saturday, 5 May 2007

How do you spell "procrastination"?

Quick, better look it up, now where's the dictionary, I think its still in a box somewhere, gotta find it, can't work without it.....

My essay is already 2 days late, Pirate Jim is asleep, my Beloved is cleaning (one very good reason, of many, why he's my Beloved!!), I have clear air to write, and damn it, I can't!

Not very excited by the topic (emissions trading to mitigate climate change), but its all in my head and just won't come out. I strongly suspect this procrastination thing might be all in my head too, but if I admit that then I havent got any reason not to write, have I?

I've read all the blogs - ALL of them, even the ones I read last night while I was avoiding working researching more material (because I can't write a word until I am satisfied I know EVERYTHING about a topic) and the ones who havent posted in weeks, worked out which train we need to take from Brilon-Wald to Paris, tidied my desk, had 3 cups of tea and a ham sandwich, and now I'm contemplating cleaning the bathroom.

Egad. Maybe I should blog my essay.....

Right. Focus. You're a professional, you can do this.

Now where is that bleach.....?