September 30, 2007

Local shop for local people

L arrived on Saturday and I was there to collect her and start our weekend of exploring and catching up. She is in the kitchen right now making me banana muffins to take to school tomorrow. She cooked me aubergine and goats cheese bruschetta last night and has generally taken vey good care of me while she has been here. Lots of living alone means that when someone comes into my flat and takes care of me for a couple of days I want to kneel with gratitude. L has such energy and kindness that I love her for all the ways that she is thoughtful.

That is not to say that we have stayed at home and cooked all weekend. There was red wine and tales of the new man in her life, but we have out and about all over Budapest. Today we cycled around Margit Island, laughing when we had to veer off the path to avoid the slow walkers. I kept ramming on the breaks so that I could collect the big fat shiny conkers, they remind me of being a kid and waiting for Halloween. After that we had lunch before tripping off to the Thermal Baths, not being aware that we were in the midst of a million marathon runners soothing their muscles with the healing waters.

We talked our way through the whole weekend and some-how I felt happier with taking pictures when we could be tourists together. We even took a trip to my local supermarket for local people. L said that supermarkets give you a sense of a countries food culture in a way that restaurants never can, and I think she is right. I even took a picture of one of the stalls outside that I would never had done when I was alone. Back to the reality of work tomorrow, but we still have wine, cheese and a film to watch. It has been amazing that she has been here for a while. She is still cooking in the kitchen, so we don't have to say Vizlat just yet.

L arrived on Saturday and I was there to collect her and start our weekend of exploring and catching up.

September 27, 2007

One 'o' clock I'm so tired

Me and my friend J use to love this song by Space called One'o' clock. The lyrics are basically that this guy is tired because all his time went to his girl. The way that the sing is sung you can almost feel the weary nature of the singer. When I'm tired, this is the song that plays in my head. What with the night terrors and the extremely busy week, I am tired beyond tired. I want sleep and I want space and the little things that I would let wash over me are annoying today.

The only thing that is making it better is the knowledge that we have a late start tomorrow and when I get home from work today I will have long, swingy, non frizzy, blondie hair. I need a little treat and am off to get my hair done. Last night saw yet another trip to Ikea, by the time I got home I was ready to weep. Now that the adrenaline of my move has worn off, the tiredness is firmly set in.

September 26, 2007

Paranoid Android

I actually slept with the lights on last night. After C came round for a cup of tea and we ended up in a very interesting comversation about religion and travel, I found that I could not settle. I could hear voices on the street and each one of them seemed to echo in my ears. So I slept with the lights on, curled up with my face turned towards the lamp. When the morning comes and I woke up, it all seemed a bit daft. But for the last week, when the lights go out a series of intense dreams and fear seem to wash over me.

"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light." —Plato

September 25, 2007

Feels like

On the way home last night I had a flash of familiarity. Suddenly, I could see autumn all around me as the tram trundled past the same advert for milka chocolate that it has every night for the past four weeks. I felt for a moment like Budapest was home, and that the move here has, as I already suspected, clearly been the correct one. Just as quickly that total feeling of calm and comfort was gone. I am not ready yet to call this city home, but at the moment, that is what she feels like.

Half term does not feel so long away now, and I can't wait to see N and her daughter when they come and stay. Only three weeks on Saturday. I am still hopeful that L will be able to make it this weekend, although it is difficult for D, so L will be coming by herself. Either way, it will be good to have a chance to explore the city with people who have never been here before, gives me an excuse to see more of the city that I just have not gotten around to. The Great Market Hall, the House of Terror, the Gellert Baths, Fishermans Bastion, The Dohany Utca Synagogue, all of these places beckon when there is some-one to coax me into the sunshine of a weekend.

September 22, 2007

Playing with my camera

I finally worked out the whole black and white thing. I love these pictures, the sculpture is in the Millenaris Park behind the Mammut Mall. I went there on Friday to see the Titanic exhibit. I loved the park and will definately be going to hang out there in the autumn months ahead.

September 21, 2007

Angol vagyok

I had my first Hungarian lesson today. They take place after work on a Friday, which is going to be pretty intense, but I am determined to attend each and every one. After Christmas, I hope to double my lessons and have two a week, but for the moment I am happy to be having at least some language practise. I also found an amazing park today, but will post about that with some pictures tomorrow.

Despite believing that Hungarian is simply too hard to be learnt, I find that I am actually remembering lots of the words that I learnt over the summer when I was attached to my Heaven street sevn albums and my Teach yourself Hungarian books and CD. I am not using many words day to day, as it is easier to resort to hand gestures and smiles when I only know two words of what I want to say. Still, I like the learning and will be happy when I can report that I have had some semblance of a Hungarian conversation.

September 20, 2007

School trips

Packed lunches that you eat before nine o'clock in the morning. Cagoules, sensible footwear and getting to wear jeans. Long trips on the coach, when you get to sing all the way home. Sand in my shoes from a day trip to Whitby, memories of a traditional coal-mining community in Beamish. Oh, how I loved those school trips. Learning that went on outside of school with sticky jam sandwiches on chewy white bread, the excitement was almost more than I could bear.

When I became a teacher the excitement went the other way and I loved planning and running school trips. When I worked in the UK I ran trips to Rome every year, even Venice one year too. Then I moved to Poland and took all the students to Auschwitz, which was a different kind of rewarding. The trip that K and I took with all the secondary school kids to the Polish Lake district was one of the bext times I have ever had on a school trip, (long time readers will recall the 'waterskiing incident).
In Paris I travelled to L'Auvergne, Monets Garden, and St Tropez on school trips and loved seeing parts of France that I was at that time too poor to be able to travel to.

Now I live in Budapest and even though I have only been here for a few weeks I find myself involved in school tripping once again. I am planning a trip to the Christmas markets in either Prague or Krakow, and am off tomorrow to a Museum in the city to see a special exhibition. I love this part of my job and I am looking forward to a whole year of seeing a different side of the world that I now live in. I am so lucky in my work sometimes.

September 19, 2007

You Need Some Green in Your Life

Green will make you feel alive, renewed, and balanced.

And with a little green, you will project an aura of peacefulness and harmony.

If you want stability, you've got to get a little green in your life!

For extra punch: Combine green with blue or purple

The downside of green: It can promote jealousy in yourself or others

The consequences of more green in your life:

You will be drawn to a new life path

You will feel free to pursue new ideas and interests, no matter how strange

You will be released from the demands and concerns of others

Rattling windows

Sleep last night was strange, at turns deep, then bolting awake from the noise that the wind made when it was rattling my wooden shutters.It is wednesday now, but no matter how much I am enjoying work, I still find myself longing for the weekend already, if only for the sleep. Over the last few days I have been talking to a few old friends, which makes my life in Budapest seem exciting and distant at the same time. Sometimes, I long for the familiarity of Warsaw or Paris, those cities that are already discovered. I realise that it will take a long time to feel that way about Budapest.

I feel wierd today, sleepy and lethargic. I need tea, lots and lots of tea.

September 18, 2007

Ich bin zen jahre alt

I would not want to give the impression that I am a linguist. This is very far from the truth indeed. I like languages, learning them and speaking them. In my bid to find new ways that my students can learn I found myself offering to teach a 10 year child German as he is very keen. I studied German when I was 11-14 which is quite a while ago now. 'How hard can it be?', I thought to myself. I can teach a beginner things like greetings, the weather, colours, numbers and the like.

Well, it would appear that I recall nothing about the rules of the language. I know how most of the words should sound, but can't explain the phonics. I have forgotten what one of those B looking, s sounding letters are called. All in all, this is just another challenge, it should be fun at least when I produce a student with the wierdest understanding of German in the world. Any linguists out there who want to skip being appalled and start helping?

September 16, 2007


I have posted 565 entries on this blog. Lots of changes have occured since I set it up when I first lived in Poland to chart my move from Warsaw to Paris. Some days, the enormity of the fact that I have moved to my third European country in 4 years hits me and I wonder where it will all end up. I am liking Budapest more and more, and I feel like I will have a happy few years here. Talking to Ally this morning for a good two hours made me realise that I have made some amazing friends along the way. They are what link me to those places, more than the cities that I have loved and left.

D and L are planning on coming for the weekend before the end of September. I have not seen D since I left Paris and we don't speak as often as we should. I know that she reads the blog though, so she is more informed about me than I am about her. I am so excited about having them both in my little Budapest apartment with me and staying up late drinking red wine and catching up on all the things that slip by when you don't see your friends every day. I have some amazing memories of Paris that nearly all include her and L.

With the current French financial problems though I have a bit of a block when it comes to Paris itself. The city seems like a scary place to me now and I know that I will not return there until the debt has been paid off, it just wouldn't be right otherwise. I am mad at myself for allowing that to happen because Paris is special, maybe just as much as Warsaw. I learnt as much about myself there as anywhere. When they come we will talk about the city that we shared together, the city we discovered, just the three of us, the world that we created in the most romantic city in the world. I am just as anxious to hear about the new Paris too. The one that D lives in now that she is in love with G and entering her fourth year there. So much movement in all three of us. I simply cannot wait to see them.

Rooftops in the Jewish quarter

September 14, 2007

Desperately seeking the weekend

I have just been for Pizza with my colleagues, but am now back at school for a parents evening. It is well after six and I know that I will not be home before half past ten. I don't mind being here, but I am also very ready for the weekend to start. My apartment is clean, I have lots of things planned for tomorrow and Sunday. I want to shop and museum it about a bit after two lovely, long, lie-ins.

This marks the end of the third week of school and talking to N a couple of nights ago made me realise that it is only 5 weeks before she and her daughter will be visiting Budapest. Maybe I will have a few new things to show them, more than I do now. I am still enjoying work very much, but I am scared that if I say more I will jinx myself. Budapest feels like home only sometimes, but those times are getting more frequent.

Last night I visited M in the Buda hills to see her house now that she has moved. When we first met in the summer I remember thinking that I liked her very much and with each coffee, or walk in the city, I like her and the kids more. Her house is amazing and even has a pool. I walked down to the tram and travelled back over the river to my more densely populated Pest side with N, a Pakistani cleaner who has a husband setting up a Bengali restaurant and wondered if I didn't like marriage as I do not have a husband. In this city, there can be a million things going on at once, and I like it that way.

September 13, 2007

Living a life in Hungary

I went to the post office for the first time the other night. G came with me, she is one of my new Hungarian colleagues, just in case the people asked me Hungarian questions that I couldn't answer. It was all fine and I even managed to pay some bills, how wonderfully normal and residential. One my way home I popped into my Indian market to get some food and I was set.

I arrived at my building to find a young man smiling at me and chatting away in Hungarian before offering me his hand to shake. I politely explained that I did not speak Hungarian, so he carried on in English. It turns out that he lives in my building and when we got out of the lift he waved to me as I went into my apartment. That makes two whole neighbours that I have met now.

Sometimes it is the normal stuff that makes me smile. As the days of my life in Budapest start to float by and I realise that I have actually lived here a few weeks now, I notice that things like a trip to the post office make me understand culture and people better than museums ever will. Mind you, I am still determined to get to the House of Terror this weekend.

September 11, 2007

Valami klassz

The city is changing now, and as I live here I am around to see it. I feel strange today as there was so much rain last night that I hardly slept. The Danube is flooded and on the bus this morning I stared out and wondered if Margit Island would be under water tomorrow. That is not valami klassz, obviously, something else is.

My personality needs some fine-tuning, and I feel that now is the time to do it. I am in massive trouble financially, but I can finally feel that I am ready to do something about it. These epiphanies have been a long time coming, but at least they are here now. I have my bank from Paris chasing me, but at least now I am ready to face the music and hopefully get things sorted. I spend so much time trying to hide the things that other people shouldn't know that the things I hide behind totally obscure me.

I know that it has been difficult for me to examine and deal with my flaws (of which there are many),but I have come to the following conclusion: It is Ok to be a mess sometimes, and it is perfectly OK to admit it.

September 09, 2007

I need a Hiro

I am totally addicted. I can't stop watching. I only have three episodes left and I am only pulling myself away from the TV because I have to get ready for work tomorrow. Heroes is my latest DVD boxset obsession and I have to say that it is fabulous. The way that it is filmed and the use of artwork is amazing. The characters are engaging and obviously Milo Ventimiglia is second only to Hiro, who I would quite like to marry. Normal Hiro, not future's all a bit complicated. Anyway, if you have not started watching yet, buy the boxset, it will be the best winter hideaway weekend you will ever spend. If anyone tries to spoil the ending for me, I will hunt you down and show no mercy.

September 08, 2007

Half empty/half full

Autumn is closing in on Budapest despite promises of an Indian summer. The sky stays stubbornly clouded and the air is still cool. I finished my second week at work and now feel firmly ensconced in the school. I have busy days, but they pass quick and make me enjoy my quiet time alone in the evenings. I always knew that these first few weeks would be hard and I have coped in the only way I know how, but shutting down a little bit.

When I got home last night and got into my pyjamas,I looked around my flat and had that same feeling in my stomach that I used to have when I walked through the door to my home in Warsaw. After lots of Grey's Anatomy and Dim Sum, I fell into bed tired and settled. I snuggled right down and felt a wave of relaxation and fatigue wash over me. When I woke up this morning I thought of calling C and doing some shopping, and cooking something nice for dinner, or texting J for a coffee tomorrow. After living and working in Budapest for nearly 6 weeks, it turns out that I really like it. It might even be a choice that is making me happy.

September 07, 2007

Social Butterfly

I went out last night to the apartment of one of the girls from work. She lives a couple of blocks away and we got a taxi home together the other evening and chatted. It was raining and the ride took near 45 minutes so we had plenty of time to exchange life stories. C is a couple of years older than me and from Ireland. When we were in the taxi I remember thinking that I thought she was really nice and she sort of added an invite to come and meet her brother as an after thought.

So I went home, thought about hiding and remembered that it made me feel funny last weekend, so I pulled on my jeans and headed out on a school night. There were quite a few people there and after thinking that I would just stay for an hour and get to bed early, I ended up staying until way after my bedtime and really enjoying everyones company. The social brain freeze appears to be over, I can be with other human beings again. I told C and a couple of the other girls that I would take them to my chinese supermarket after school today and we are off for a coffee on the way. L from Paris has also said that she is hoping to come at the end of September, so I am excited about that too. Feeling happy today, Friday at long, long, last.

September 05, 2007

I am an Inspirational Blogger!

Kinuk gave me an award and over here is where you can find the rules. Once you have been given an award you have to give awards to five other bloggers whose blogging you find inspirational.

My first award goes to Kinuk. Although she awarded me first, she would have been top of my list anyway, so here goes. I feel like the person that I know and love is enhanced through a reading of her blog, I knew about her blog before I really knew her. Not only do I get to talk to K and spend time with her, but I get to read about her perspective while I am away. She is brave in blogging about her feelings on being pregnant and now a parent and I hope I can still feel connected to baby A through her posts while I am in Budapest.

My next award goes to Lisa over at reflections. She is an American woman living in Budapest and raising two boys who look adorable. I have given her a creative blogger award as she not only posts about her life, but her blog is very pictoral, with loads of beautiful artwork and photos. I must ask her how she does that when we get round to meeting!

My third award is going to Caffe Franje, which is a blog I have been reading for a while now. Franje posts in a very honest way, which sometimes gains criticism from his readers, but I appreciate his honesty and reflections about his life. I would definately consider Franje a blog friend, I just wish that he would post more oftern!

My fourth award goes to Post Secret. I know that Frank is not a blogger so much as a collector of slices of life, but I find this blog in turns creative, inspiring, comforting, and upsetting. It defines my week sometimes and often the secrets stay with me for a while.

My fifth and final award goes to Tatiana at Midnight Rendezvous. Again, I have read her blog for a while and feel that out of all the strangers you could meet on the Internet, she and I would be great friends. I like her writing and find the way that she chooses to participate in life, despite her wonderings about it, very inspiring. With her Polish connection too, I often find that she is describing a world that is familiar and comforting to me, even though she blogs from half a world away.

That was harder than I thought to just stop at 5, Vivi should have got one really, but she already scored on Kinuk, I do love her Dispatches from France though. There are loads of blogger out there and this has reminded me that I really should update my links!

September 04, 2007

Less hiding, more Greys anatomy

The weather is cooling down again, but my work level is hotting up. I am enjoying the new job more and more each day, the routine of the little hill on the way to work and the coffee that goes into my starbucks mug when I arrive is already feeling comforting. Almost as much as my gorgeous duvet at the end of the day, or Greys Anatomy while I eat my dinner. I am already tired, and as the alarm went off at 5.30 this morning I started to eradicate things from my morning routine so that I could stay in bed a little longer.

Last weekend was a blip, and I plan on getting back out into the world and seeing some stuff. Maybe a cooler Margit Sziget this weekend, or a wander around the wine festival, or I could be historical and go to the House of Terror. Any thoughts?

September 02, 2007

By default

After all these years of living by myself I find that I have adopted some strange coping mechanisms. This has been the first weekend when I have had work occupying my mind and I have swapped the stress of moving for the stress of knowing that I have a ton of things to do. I always wanted to love living in Budapest, and I am sure that I will, but this weekend I have resorted to my default position of hiding away.

Most of the time I make a conscious effort to get out of the apartment and go and find things to do and see. Even this morning I had a walk to a big bookshop that I have never been to, just to wander and have my face in the sun. It didn't mean that I felt like I was living in the world though, I just spent my naval gazing time outside instead of in. I know that I live inside my own little world most of the time, curling into the foetal position when things get hard or new.

One thing I decided before I came away was that my default position was going to change. I don't know when I started to want to hide away, but I know that I want to be part of the world again.

"I'll be stuck fixated on one star,
When the world is crashing down."
(Fall out boy-Seven minutes in heaven)

September 01, 2007

New things

I feel like I am in a new place today. The weather is cooling down and I went for a wander with C and K today after lunch at C's place. We went to Culinaris on Hunyadi Ter and found an English language bookshop. After that we walked up Andrassy to the shops and stopped for a drink at a cafe near Vaci Utca. There are still a lot of tourists around, now that the summer is drawing to a close they are wandering around with jumpers and cameras instead of sweating over maps in the heat.

There seems to be lots of places open that have had their grills up all summer and I think that locals are coming back from their summer homes and getting ready for a new school year like me. Everywhere I look I see life in the city and I am beginning to see my place here. After a week of work and the setting of new routines I have enjoyed getting home to my apartment and settling in with my cooking and relaxing after being at school all day. Chatting to C today, we talked about how these moves around the world lose their sheen a little and become hard work, but it is still worth it. I can imagine being here at Christmas and enjoying how things will feel different again. I love the change of the seasons and watching a new city move through the changes is why I made this move in the first place.