December 28, 2007

Driving in the dark

I am in Richmond aout to have dinner with L, N and our friend S, the trainee priest. Lots has happened this holiday, but I seem to have lost the will to blog about any of it. I had a very interesting conversation with L in the car about the nature of blogging and how it feels to write little pieces of yourself and wait to see if any-one responds. One of my New Years resolutions is to write more and post more photos, as I have not been as trigger happy as I would like.

On New Years eve I will be giving blood again, which I think is an important thing to do. Although I am very much enjoying being at home I am itching to get back to my laptop and writing my book, which I have a squillion new ideas for. Christmas is always a time for reflection for me, the feelings of which are heightened by being home when I have been away. I feel changes personally and am happy that good things still seem to be coming my way. More on my resolutions when I have taken the time to formualte them properly, for now, the floor is open. What are yours?

December 25, 2007

Talk time

Christmas lunch is all finished and the kitchen in clean again. All my gifts have been opened and made me feel loved by the people who gave them, sometimes my friends know me better than I give them credit for. My tummy is rounder than it was a few hours ago and I am drinking lots of peppermint tea to try and counteract the stupid amount of bread sauce and sausagemeat stuffing I ate.

I have only been home a few days, but as has become the trend of the last few years, it is enough to make me know where my heart and future lie. I've spent lots of time with old friends and there has been much catching up. Some people I know are living interesting lives, but I am never around to hear that much about them and so Christmas is special as we are all near our parents and with the time to chat.

There are lots of thoughts swimming around my head, and I am sure that they will bear fruit in time. It only remains for me to say, Merry Christmas everyone. May the New Year bring you all that you wish for.

December 19, 2007


All done and now am ready for holidays! Back home tomorrow and with new swingy blonde hair as I am just done at the hairdressers. I got bags full of presents and had a lovely Christmas lunch with everyone at work. All I have to do now is pack...

December 18, 2007


I am very pleased that it is so near to the end of school, only half a day and one lesson away from the school holidays and beautiful North Yorkshire at Christmas. I have had some presents from the kids, which has been very sweet of them and the classroom parties and chocolate in the staffroom are both in abundance already. After school I have to go and get a 'secret santa' gift, and I have no idea what to buy. My suitcase lies open on my living room floor, empty, except for a couple of things half heartedly chucked in there when I happen to have been passing by.

I have a whole host of lunches, brunches and coffees all planned for the rest of this week, but even though I can't wait to get home, my instinct is to survive these last few days first. When I get home tomorrow after the school Christmas lunch followed by getting my hair done, there will be nothing left to do but pack and clean. Sounds simple? It should be, but the survival is not complete yet.

December 16, 2007

December 15, 2007

Without borders

I have had a wonderful few days in Krakow and am home now, tired from the long journey, happy to be back in my apartment and ready for the last couple of days of work. The kids were great, and I never get tired of the city, although I have lost count of the amount of times I have been a tourist there. It snowed the whole time that we were there are even though it was freezing, we all warmed up with hot chocolate from Wedel and Zurek from Hawelka. It was a perfect Christmas Krakow trip, one that will keep me from missing Poland too much for a while.

One of the most surprising things about the trip was how much I enjoyed the bus journey. We started in Budapest, drove through Slovakia and through the low Tatras to Krakow. Being in a vehicle and not on a plane was wondrous and as we wound our way through one Slovakian town after another, I got a sense of where we were, the changing landscape and I never got bored of looking out of the window. I have been to the Czech Republic before, but never Slovakia and I have to say that the countryside is beautiful, although the road we travelled on was fascinatingly deserted.

I was reminded again of how lucky I am. Since moving to Hungary I have been back to England, Madrid, Krakow and I get to come home to brilliant Budapest at the end of it all. The trips I have taken this term seem to have a little shine to them, and I feel ready for the term to be over, go back to Yorkshire and really think about what has been going on around me. Sometimes I miss the details, because I am too busy looking at the big picture. That said, there are several details that I will remember about Krakow; watching the Australian child who has never seen snow chase the snowflakes, chatting in better Polish than I realised I had, hot chocolate with 8 children on red velvet chairs, the winding mountain roads of Slovakia. I have pictures, I'll share them tomorrow.

December 13, 2007

Krakow amber

It is 5.24 and I am all ready to go and packed. I have a basket of food, a loaded Ipod and am just wondering about taking a pillow so that I can sleep on the coach. I have been speaking to myself in Polish, and can't wait to get back to one of my favourite cities. See you all in a couple of days.

December 12, 2007

Nearing the end

At the close of business today I will only have two and a half days of work left. The coach leaves school tomorrow at 6.30 in morning darkness and will arrive back with my new Boleslawiec teapot on board at some time on Saturday evening. Just enough time for a Sunday lie in after the staff party and then steaming into the last two days of work.

As usual, I am tired, but also very happy. I get to go back to Poland for the markets, which I used to do every year when I lived there. After that I get to come home to Budapest, with the stars and lights that wind round every tree on Andrassy ut. Two more days of warped speed work and then the clear skies of Yorkshire call to me. I am not very organised this year, but my diary is very full and I keep getting excited at the thought of spending time with the people that I love most in the whole world.

As I reach the end of my first term in Budapest, what have I learned? I have learned that actually having language lessons as soon as you arrive means that you actually pick up the language a lot quicker. I have also learned that Budapest is really a fabulous city, and that she catches me unawares sometimes, with a surge of affection. I have learnt that it is possible to be happy at work, feel valued and like you are worth your money. I have also learned that getting up in the dark is the most rubbish thing ever. I have found out that being here makes me smile more than I used to. Finally, I have learnt that the acoustics in my new apartment are great for singing. Life has a steep learning curve it would seem.

December 11, 2007

Rich man, poor man

If you happen to own your own company and earn loads of cash, is that enough to make you a desirable human being. Most of the bachelors at last nights auction had clearly put themselves up for sale because they thought that they were worth something because of their status. In reality, only one bachelor seemed like a nice guy and as us mere teachers are pretty poor in comparison to the expat super rich, we all chipped in so that S, a friend could buy him. 20,000 forints was an absolute bargain.

In describing last nights Bachelor auction, one word pops to mind - excruciating. There were 6 bachelors, only about 100 guests (12 from my work!) and no-body seemed to want to bid. Cue a series of embarrasing silences where women bid out of genuine pity for these rich but personalityless men looking like lost little boys on stage because noone wants to fork out their cash for a night of golfing under the stars with the CEO of a large company. I spent the night in extremes of racuous laughter and in turn cringing, the way I did when David Bowie sang about the chubby fat man in Extras. This was like watching an episode of the office, cowering in shame behind the sofa, feeling empathy for the awfulness of the situation. Sex and the city this evening was not. Good lord, it has kept me laughing right till this morning though.

December 10, 2007

Utter madness

After deciding that I have been living in my daydreams too much these past few weeks, I made the leap and accepted a social invitation from a host of women at work. This evening I will be wearing knee boots, a swingy dress and attending a 'Bachelor Auction'. Is this against all principles of feminism I hold dear? Is the selling of men on a meat block the same as the whoring of the female form in the media? Does immorality come with a buffet dinner? The answer to all these questions is Yes.

December 09, 2007

Meanwhile in Budapest

Yestersay I went for lunch with C, one of my colleagues from school. We were both yearning for some good Gulyas as I have not actually had a bowl of the famous soup since I came to live in Budapest. We went hunting for a small Jewish restaurant on Klauzal Utca, but as we walked the wrong way we ended up down Dohany near the Synagogue. We stunbled across a shop called 'Latomas' (a's are accented), on Dohany which I been meaning to go in for a while. It is an amaing store that is stocked by local Budapst designers and is full of unique and one off bags, shoes, and clothes. I am saving my pennies for Krakow but I would recommend anyone who is interested in fashion to get themselves along and be ready to pick up some beautifully handmade and contemporary fashions.

Further wanderings found us in the fifth kerulet(district) at a coffee lounge called 'Etno'. We had a gorgeous bowl of Gulyas, although the surroundings were highly modern and not at all the folk traitional look we had imagined ourselves eating Gulyas in. 750 forints for a bowl of soup is not bad, especially when it was fabulously paprika laden and had chewy bits of potato dumpling floating around in there.

After lunch we wandered to the Christmas markets and again listened to the endless array of foreign accents as the markets seem populated by an even mix of tourists and locals. I bought two huge bunches of lavender that are now scenting my whole apartment. A good day in Budapest.

December 07, 2007

DVD Review

It has been a while since I reviewed some of the stuff that I have been watching and loving.I am bored of ruminating on chasing the weekends and longing for a lie in again, so I thought I would open the floor for any suggestions of things that I simply must get my grubby little hands on.

First up, I have been watching the new BBC2 version of Robin Hood, starring Jonas Armstrong as Robin. It is a great cast, although Robin does look a bit like a sixth former. Brilliantly done, with a great sense of humour. This is easy to watch and well written. I would definitley recommend it, even if it is just for Guy of Gisborne. As this is filmed in Budapest I expect to be out drinking with the lads any day now.

The long way down was something that I had hoped great things from and was not disappointed. The video diary of Ewan MacGregor and Charley Boormans motorbike adventure from John 'O' Groats to Cape Town was eye opening and exciting. These two are fabulous, and you just want to be mates with them and their whole families, who seem like the lovliest people ever.

Men in trees, filled a Gilmore Girls hole in my viewing, but as there are only one and a bit seasons, I am unstuck already. So I started to watch 'Arrested Development' season 3 as I adored the first two. My final viewing recommendation is a little contraversial as it is the US version of The Office. Being a huge fan of Gervais and Merchant meant that I was not sure that I would ever be able to watch the US version of this show. Once you get over the fact that it was not meant to be a carbon copy of the UK version and try and accept Micheal Scott, Dwight et al as their own characters, I have to say that I really like this. You have a watch a few episodes before you tune into the humour, but it is very well done.

Ok, suggestions please, I need new obsessions.

December 06, 2007

Fake snow

The little children in the nursery are painting the fences outside with snow made from an internet 'recipe'. It has been four days since I sent off the first book proposals, and the amount of day dreams that I have had about making enough money to pay for me to do my MA in Theology is uncountable. The amount of thoughts I have had about how wanting money to do my MA in Theology and not buy millions of pairs of shoes makes me somewhat of a freak, unmeasurable.

I have been ill this week and it is nice to be back at school and with people around me. I am still tired and weak from being ill, but there are meetings piling up and lots to be done before the trip to Krakow next week. It should be brilliant, but I can't think about packing until we are all done with the budgets and arrangements. A sneaky trip to my favourite Christmas market is well timed though, as I will be able to nab a load of last minute presents.

Less than two weeks before the end of term and in exactly two weeks today I will be on a flight home to Manchester. I have no Christmassy feelings yet. Living overseas I tend to see anything before I get back to North Yorkshire as simply not Christmas.

December 02, 2007

Golden time

This weekend has been a long time coming and when it arrived I was full of glee, in a muted way because the exhaustion had hit, but gleeful non the less. Yesterday I got pushed and shoved around the Christmas markets at Vorosmarty Ter, but the smoky sausage smell in the air and the faces pink from mugs of mulled wine still made the atmosphere so festive. It was a beautiful day to see the lights and watch everyone do their Christmas shopping. After shopping I met some of the girls from work for lunch at Vapiano, an Italian canteen style restaurant that I never even knew existed. We gossiped our way through lunch before waves of tiredness hit me and I went home.

This weekend I have had a boiler blow-out and the electricity has been off too for a while. It has not stopped me sending out my first proposal for the new book though so send me lots of successful vibes through the internet please. I can't believe that I am back at work tomorrow. I really could do with another couple of days and the end of term will not come a moment too soon, only two weeks and two a half days to go. I am well ahead on the Christmas shopping front, but have to try and save some cash for my trip to Krakow in less than two weeks. Lots going on, but lots of things to make me smils in Budapest.

December 01, 2007