Einstein on a bike!

This is the best sticker I’ve seen for a long time. I almost missed it, I was walking along the Strand with Cosimo when he had to stop to retie his shoelace. I stopped and turned to wait for him, and this beauty was right there in front of me. If ever there’s an expression of pure joy, it’s Einstein on a bike on a red phone box. I defy you not to smile.

I spent most of my time in town meeting up with my best folks, and not managing to take photos of them because I was too busy talking and listening to gossip. I did manage one stroll in the park with LTN, and as we sat for sandwich consumption and fountain admiration we got a fashion show from this wee man.  I think he was strutting his stuff for the less ostentatious but no less gorgeous lady behind him, and he certainly impressed us. A dapper duck indeed.

While admiring flash Harry, I also got treated to  the most beautiful and most delicious chocolate I’ve tasted for yonks and yonks and possibly ever.  It was from Hotel Chocolat and oooh, so good.

And that wraps it up for now, I’ve suddenly realised I need to run to meet a lady for a drink, so I’m sorry to leave you abruptly but at least it’s with chocolate!


London calling, art is about

I can’t begin to tell you how much I’m looking forward to my visit home. Of course I’m talking about both my recent homes, London and Fingest (homehome), both have such a strong pull.  The London part is taking a little more organisation though, so many fabulous people to see, and things to do. The social planning is going well so far and I’ve turned my sights on the cultural dimension of my days on the town.

I might try to swing by the Pick Me Up Graphic Art Fair at Somerset House. I really enjoyed it last year, particularly the magnificent Mister Rob Ryan‘s studio recreated, with the man himself in residence.  This year, my attention has been caught by this fabulous thing.  I adore it.

Untitled (cover for a book) (2009), Tom Gauld, via the Guardian website.

I’m definitely going to see the Evolving English exhibition at the British Library.  Firstly because I’m a bit interested in English, as you may have gathered. Secondly, it’s applicable to work now.  Thirdly, it’s curated by Mr Jonnie Robinson, legend of Borlase, inspirational teacher and all round hero of mine.  I can’t wait.  Look, they even have a blog I can follow and podcasts.  Ah, happy Nicky.  Check out this rather fabulous star item I found on the exhibition website, if there’s a poster of it available then it’s going to be mine…

I find this utterly magnificent.  To see why, you have to realise that time after time, my favourite pieces in exhibitions will a) be really quite graphic (in the design sense, not the shocking sense) or b) have words in or c) both.  This is both.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Strangely, it reminds me a little bit of my favourite map in the British Library’s maps exhibition (wot I went to wiv Mr Dom), Tea Revives the World – created by MacDonald Gill, 1940 (picture via the Guardian again).  I think the association is that I identify closely with this message, and when you can see the detail of each of the little scrolls, it’s pure genius.  I want to own a copy of this one too.

It’s also been suggested that I go to see the British Art Show 7 (thank you Mr Cosimo).  I’m currently undecided, it could be a little bit odd for me, but on the other hand you don’t get to see new ‘exciting’ contemporary pieces gathered together that often, and somehow I’ve still not been to the Hayward so maybe I should now.  Have a look at their video and let me know what you think…..

East Side West Side

To be honest, LTN and I didn’t manage much actual Berlin sightseeing, too much catching up to be done.  Also we had to watch some rugby.  Before you all suck in your breath in outrage, I must tell you that we managed to meet a fellow ex-Bristoller in the Irish pub we picked to watch it in, and he’s given me lots of top Berlin tips, so it was totally worth it.  Also LTN had to help me move, and hold my hand through interview nerves and cv writing.  Star boy. Plus, I got presents!

We did manage to get to the East Side Gallery though, and it’s pretty impressive.  For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t, it’s ok), it’s the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin wall, covered in paintings by artists from all over the world as a memorial to the Mauerfall.  Here are some of my favourite spots, and the famous Trabi for Mantha. PS I would like to point out that I made the hat LTN is wearing. Be impressed please.

I should say that I’ve now crossed the river, and crossed the old line from East to West Berlin.  I miss the funny little Ampelmänne but I see them when I go to work.  Yes folks, you heard it right, I’ve somehow landed a job.  At the Berlin School of English where I did the course.  It’s some kind of crazy fluke, and utterly terrifying, but I start as a ‘real’ teacher on Monday.   Everyone is being wonderfully supportive, even students from my teaching practice, but for some reason I still feel a little unsettled.

I think it’s because I’m an inveterate nester and it just feels wrong to have been here for 5 weeks but to still not be in a position to put down roots.  I’m getting to know my way around a little better, I know where some of the districts are, have bought my first month pass for the AB zone (the price made me gulp but actually €74 is pretty good when you compare it to £106 in Londontown, well done Berlin) and I’ve actually been out a few times.  But I’m still no further in my real flat hunt, and I just don’t seem to be able to navigate the websites with much success.  Ah well.  I do manage to stumble over a lot of good/interesting street art, some of it a little scary.

This one is just a random doodah for you, if I walk part of the way home, I go past this freaky baby face.  This isn’t the clearest photo but I’m sure you get the gist.  More Kreuzberg ink to come.



My apologies that I havent managed to pop anything up for a while, its been a slightly crazy week (and that sentence looked very strange for a while because I’m typing on a German keyboard which not only has ä where the apostrophe should be but it also has y and z reversed which means that manz manz words come out a little crayz.  Zup.)  I’m getting better at using this mad set up but it’s made me realise how much I actually do touch type.

So, some sundries for you kind souls:

Bei S und bei U, Berlin notched up another point  in the great Berlin v. London derby on Sunday, after I took my first Bahn journeys.  Now, I consider myself to be a fully London accredited country mouse: I don’t carry a tube map any more and I have been known to give tourists directions without needing to consult their A-Zs. I am outraged when people don’t stand on the right on escalators and unless I’m on designated mooch-time I move at a brisk trot.  I’ve been known to experience tube rage and I’m baffled when I move outside the purview of TFL.gov.  But guess what?  Here I’ve got BVG.de to help out.  Not only will they plan my journey, they’ll also help me hook up with that boy who caught my eye (not really, LTN!)…..

The  Bahn stations are amazing, with 20 million useful shops open at all kinds of hours, they’re clean and well lit and have nice wide thoroughfares so I’m not tripping anyoneup with my tourist antics as I would be if I were in LondonTown.  Plus, the S –Bahn and U-Bahn run all night at the weekend which quite clearly should be the rule worldwide.  The carriages are big and with more window than wall and in 2 of 2 journeys I saw very cute puppies on board.  Furthermore the buttons for opening the door actually open the door and have fetching red and green lights, instead of being yellow traps for the unwary which give Londoners yet another reason to feel superior. And last but not least, one of my students is a DeutscheBahn train driver and assures us that the trains are never late.  The timetables may be wrong, but the trains are always on time.  So that’s good.

Wongling, curgling and Jabberwocky.  As part of our indoctrination into the secrets of the TESOL guild we’ve been looking at how to teach vocabularly and how to check understanding. To aid this we’ve been taught all kinds of nonsense words which have now entered the lexicon of our flat and may in fact become permanent fixtures in my idialect.  The most favoured nonce word is wongle (verb or noun), it’s been assigned any number of meanings so far from the mildly rude to strangely pornographic  (he wongled a horse, anyone?).  Jake is the main perpertrator of this crime against language, but I’m afraid that it’s catching.  Plus today we had a beauty: she deapled him quistly.  Any guesses?
p.s. think you can’t translate Lewis Carrol? Jabberwocky in other words…

Marielle kindly pointed me toward the exciting looking Badeschiff an Spree  but it’s closed!  Dammit, I want to go and play with the beautiful people.

But there is other fun to be had.  We’re staying just down the road from Museuminsel, an island covered in beautiful buildings full of interesting things.  So far I haven’t visited, sorry Dunc, but luckily there’s a Lange Nacht der Museen planned to sort that out  by giving us from 6pm to 2am to get round them all.

Amazingly, I’ve managed 2 whole weeks without once reverting to sitting cross legged when I should be sitting like a grown up. I’m so proud of myself!

And finally some comparisons of the Berliner (not the donut) v the Londoner – in my perception and theirs:
Everyone makes eye contact here, but it’s rare to win a smile, even when I bust out my best effort.  In London it’s a bit different, catching someone’s eye is tough but once you do you can usually tease out a smile. It’s the smile game.  Also I’m told that when using a lift the etiquette is to say good morning and goodbye as you get in and out.  Can you imagine that being the rule in England?  Gosh no.   It’s because German’s are friendlier on the whole – so they say, and have lovely conventions like always taking flowers or wine as a visiting gift, saying güten Appetit before meals and always taking your shoes off when you enter someone’s home.  And do you know why we don’t have an equivalent for güten Appetit in English?  Well, I’m reliably informed it’s because the food is awful.  Speaking as someone who had cereal for tea, I’m not sure I’m in a position to disagree.

That’s all folks, I’ve written a ream and it’s nearly time for bed. I’ve leave you with one last picture of the Schulwohnug and Studente hard at work.  Good night and sweet dreams.