Friday, February 22, 2008


I really enjoy the challenge of learning a new language. It is bemusing, perplexing, and at times, frustrating. At the moment I'm having a love/hate relationship with the requirement that all nouns must be capitalised.

I put this slightly bipolar attitude down to my laziness. I resent that when I write in German I have to take care to begin all nouns with a capital letter. On the other hand, it does offer the novice/complete hack a helping hand when reading - the nouns stand out like beacons and I find this helpful in untwisting the unfamiliar syntax.

Just don't get me started on separable verbs.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Second speaker for the negative

It looked like such an innocuous email from my sister. There is was, piggybacked on a discussion about a present for an upcoming family birthday, information about changes of email addresses, and potential Skyping opportunities on the weekend.

"I'm participating in a debate soon. Can you help me develop my argument/speech? I'm second speaker for the negative. kthnxbai."

Foolishly, I said yes. There are now two of us wearing brown underpants.

I have a hazy recollection of participating in a debate in high school, but the memory must have been too traumatic and I've repressed it - all that remains is a sense of overwhelming panic.

Debating tips gratefully received.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Originally uploaded by Halans

I rushed home from Deutschkurs today to watch the PM deliver the speech.

It was long overdue.

It was confrontingly honest.

It was sincere.

It was moving.

It had a joke!

It didn't pretend that it would be easy.

It contained that magical word - sorry.

It is the first step on a long journey.

It made my heart glad.

Edited to add: at the suggestion of a commenter, I am adding some more information, for those who aren't from Australia, and therefore were left scratching their heads at this post.

On the 13th February 2008, the Australian Government formally apologised to Indigenous Australians, particularly those who were part of the Stolen Generations, who were forcibly removed from their families as part of the appalling government policies relating to Indigenous Australians from the early 1900s to the late 1960s. It recognised that the laws and policies of successive governments tore apart families, destroyed lives and inflicted great pain and suffering on the original inhabitants of Australia.

More information is available on the BBC news website.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

For the Mens

The Europeans are famous throughout the world for their relaxed attitude to nudity, and I do admire them for this, but you can imagine my chagrin when I realised that the local pool actually has male and female changing cubicles in the not so separate changing area.

This was pointed out to me by my language exchange friend on the weekend when we went swimming.

She pointed to the door of a changing cubicle and translated 'umkleidung' and then pointed to the bit I should have noticed on my first visit to the pool - the internationally recognised icon of a stick figure wearing a dress - "for the womens" she said, and then in the next block of changing cubicles and pointed to the internationally recognised icon of a stick figure not wearing a dress - "for the mens" she said.

I immediately though to myself "Ooops" and distinctly remembered that I had used the umkleidung "for the mens" in my last visit. None of the men I shared the room with seemed to mind though.

When I related this particularly hilarous story to my husband, I noticed that the colour quickly drained from his face.

I say again, "Ooops".

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Lektion Eins

I'm giving myself a big tick on this item in my new year's resolution list.

I started German lessons today at the VHS. First impressions are good - the teacher is engaging and my fellow students seem quite fun, so it should be a good way to spend the next 5 weeks.

The class consists of people from a delightful array of countries: Spain, Surinam, France, Mexico, Brazil, Romania, Bulgaria, and in lane 8 representing Australia - me.

We kicked off with the traditional interview and introduce your partner to the rest of the class game - and it seems most people like riding bicycles and swimming - except for my partner who told me his hobby was storytelling (Geschichten erzählen). I'm so going to sit next to him tomorrow, maybe he'll tell me a story.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Helau! It's Rosenmontag!

I'm not sure what it's all about but I've never seen such a high concentration of clown suits in my life.

The constant refrain of "Helau" does tend to grate on ones nerves after a while.

I feel sorry for the scantily clad women with pom poms - it can't be more than 2 degrees C.

The locals all seem to be having a whale of a time. Even Gutenburg has donned a festive hat.

365 days

it's official
Originally uploaded by heliospheric

Wow, that was fast.

I'm pretty sure not everyone's wedding day starts with an appointment for a moving consultant to come and work out a quote for moving to another country....

My wedding day went something like this:
  • 7 am - get up and have a shower
  • 8am - appointment with moving consultant to provide quote on moving to Germany
  • 10 am - brunch
  • 4 pm - get hair done with my sisters
  • 5 pm - get makeup done
  • 6 pm - get dressed
  • 6:15 pm - curse my own stupidity for buying the cute, but way too high shoes, wonder it I will break my ankle
  • 7:15 pm - call taxi
  • 7:30 pm - arrive at venue
  • 7:32 pm - crack open first bottle of Bollinger (to calm the nerves - you understand)
  • 7:45 pm - remind Dad that there are to be NO speeches, he seems slightly deflated
  • 8:00 pm - walk through door with Dad and see my family and friends all grinning like maniacs at me
  • 8:01 pm - realise that R must be boiling in the kilt and heavy wool jacket (it was around 32 degrees C that night)
  • 8:20 pm - say "I do", kiss my husband
  • 8:25 pm - crack open second bottle of Bollinger - the rest of the night is a bit of a blur of happiness
  • 3:00 am - go to bed.
To celebrate our anniversary my husband whisked me off to a fabulous restaurant and spoilt me rotten. He is definitely a keeper.