February 28, 2008

In a flash

I have flashed from holiday mode back into working mode at an alarming rate. The half term holiday was wonderfully relaxing in a way that the two weeks at Christmas were not. Anyone who is not a teacher likes to scoff at the frequency and length of the holidays that we get, but they simply do not realise how much the teachers and the students need that time out of the classroom. The reality of teaching means giving students a little bit of yourself in each lesson you take and it can be a very emotional job.

This half term I had gone away and visited K and N and their baby, so by the time I got back midweek, I already felt like I had a good break and moved away from my routines. I still had a few days left of sleeping, eating and seeing friends in Budapest, which meant that by the time I got back to work I was massively relaxed. Being thrown back in has meant that this week has been a tiring one. I am still loooking back on last week as a little taste of what life could be like if I worked part time, or had the money not to work at all.

I often wonder if I have been cursed with the desire to always wonder. Don't get me wrong, I feel lucky every day that I have had the chances to live and work in some amazing cities, but I do always seem to be longing for a feeling of security and calm that ever more eludes me. I'll keep looking for it, even if it takes a whole lifetime to find. For now, I will never be sorry that I chose to gaze on the beautiful blue Danube on my way home from work every day.

February 27, 2008

Cinnamon city

I have been on amazon today and bought some guidebooks for my trip to Marrakech. Now that half term already seems to be in the distant past I realised that it is less than 6 weeks before I jet off again to Morroco. It is a place that I have always wanted to visit and am overjoyed that I get a chance to visit the city. N is also one of my favourite travelling companions, as she is just as interested in wandering, shopping and eating as I am.

Budapest is starting to look different in the daylight and the fact that I can walk home in the daylight is bringing forth daily sighs of pure bliss. I am starting to imagine a life for myself here and the time just seems to keep slipping past. I have lived here for 7 months now and I am sure that I will be thinking of the passing of my first year in no time at all. That said, I seem at the same time to be missing Yorkshire more than ever. I want to be closer to the friends and family there, but I suppose if there was no price to pay the experiences of living abroad would not be the same for me.

February 21, 2008

Warsaw to Budapest

Well, I got back all safe and sound and enjoyed the journey on the plane, where I got to see the Tatra mountians from the air. Poland was amazing and I miss the city and the people already. I will try and get back more often as baby A is growing at an almost alarming rate. I spent today with K, a friend from school and we wandered around the city here and even had a look at a new restaurant 'Fusion' on Vaci ut, which looks fabulous.

My apartment is intensely quiet after the excitement of two other people and a little baby, but spring is in the air and I have lots to do these next couple of days. It was even light when I woke up this morning, which always makes me happy. This evening I am off for curry and movies at D's, which will be good as I get to hang out with other people from school and see what they have all been up to. Tomorrow I might even go crazy and go to the baths at Szechenyi, even though it is cold, it will be amazing to feel sunshine on my face while the hot thermal water soothes my shopping and Warsaw weary bones.

February 18, 2008


Do I still live here? Have I been on holiday to Budapest while my home remains in Warsaw? Are K and N and I all off back to work soon, just hanging out on a weekend or a holiday?

Poland is just so familiar that it feels like coming home. K and I went to the Apteka today so that I could stock up on drugs and creams that I know I can't get in Budapest. We have walked the grey and fog covered streets, been for gypsy pie to Zgoda and yet even the weather makes little difference to the warmth that I feel when I pass buildings where I lived. There are shops I would go to, coffee shops where I would gossip whole weekends away with a variety of friends sometimes. I was happy here, I liked Poland and Poland liked me.

I still have a couple of days of hanging out with K, N and baby A to go. The little guy is beyond adorable and I am having lots of copying him when he blows raspberrys, I think that he may be as much in love with his Godmother as his Godmother is with him. I am looking after him right now while K and N watch the Cure. He is fast asleep and all good, I am paranoid about waking him, so am wandering around on tiptoes. \\

This trip will have flashed past in the blink of an eye, but it was just what I wanted, just what I needed. If I had to choose my favourite people and place in the world, it would be Warsaw, with these people. Shhhh...don't tell K, she will get all emotional.

February 16, 2008

My week in pictures

The holidays are here and I have washing to do and errands to run before I get on the plane to Warsaw this afternoon. Poland, here I come, but for now I leave you with some of this weeks photo highlights.
Walking through the Castle District at night.
My Valentines day rose.
A trip to St Stephens Bazilika with the Year 7 kids

February 15, 2008

Castle at sunset

After school yesterday, I met L, a friend of K and Ns who is in Budapest staying with a friend of hers. She is not some-one that I know very well, but it was nice to have an excuse to go out in the dark after school and not go straight home and flop on the sofa. After collecting her from Oktogon, we got on the 4 tram and went to Moszkva ter before changing to the 10 bus and going up into the castle district.

I haven't been there since I had guests in October and I have never been up there at night. The views are incredible and I took photos that I will post later on. Budapest is cold at the moment and the bracing wind seemed to freeze away the fog that can mist up when we spend too much time indoors.

After the castle, she came and had a cup of tea at my apartment, which I never get bored of showing off and we chatted for a while. It was great to gossip about the school in Warsaw and talk about people that we both knew. It made me even more excited about going to Poland tomorrow, I am nearly all packed. All I have to do is sort out the apartment as I volunteered to have friends of a friend use my place while I am away.

February 12, 2008

Én boldog mert ez Péntek

This is one of my new Hungarian phrases, "I'm happy because its Friday". It isn't, in case you got excited, but it will be soon. I am also happy because N has booked our summer holiday. Two weeks in Javea, Spain, in a lovely Villa with a pool and lots of sunshine. Now all my thoughts are filled with swimming costumes, buying linen trousers and laying for endless hours in the sun. Knowing that we are all going away will keep me going through the last few dark winter weeks.

February 09, 2008

7 Strange things

Blatantly stolen from Kinuk, I liked the idea of this meme, so here are seven strange but true things that may as yet be unknown about me.

1)I love my camera and love taking pictures, but hardly ever take pictures of people.
2)I am dairy free and have been for about 4 months. I was the biggest cheese lover in the world, but if I eat it now it makes me feel ill.
3)I've read all the 'Horrible History' books by Terry Deary, even though they are blatantly books for childrens history learning. My favoutite is 'Angry Aztecs'.
4)I believe that my relationship with cities is like that of lovers. Paris was tempestuous, passionate. Warsaw was long-term and comfortable. I don't know what Budapest is yet.
5)I hardly ever cry, but when I do, I sob. It makes me feel better.
6)I dance around my bedroom to punk music usually the reserve of angry teenagers.
7)This week I have eaten Dim sum every day for at least one meal. I've run out of them now so think it might be best if I stay away from the Chinese Supermarket for a while.

Franje, Despina and Tatiana...all tagged as usual.

February 08, 2008

This never works but...

Tatiana tried this a while ago and didn't get much of a response, but it made me curious enough to have a go myself and see if I fare any better. I have readers from all around the world and a few regulars who make themselves known and sometimes comment. It blows my mind sometimes that here I am, sitting in my little office on a Friday afternoon in Budapest, getting ready for my Hungarian lesson and listening to the All American rejects full blast in celebration of the weekend. And there you are, sat some-where, doing something in another part of the world.

Where are you? What are you up to? Go on, say hello...

February 06, 2008

Healthy competition

I missed a Hungarian lesson last week as I was so ill. L told me that she spent the class revisiting vowel sounds as she wanted a bit of practise from our teacher. I'm sorry that I missed the chance to take a walk through the 'forest of vowels', which is how the concept was introduced to us. The cool thing at the moment is that L and I seem to be spurring each other on to learn and practise during the week.

L is much better at this than me and keeps popping into the staffroom telling me that she has just learnt how to say 'These scented candles smell beautiful', or some other random phrase that sounds fabulous in a Hungarian sentence. She has even produced some beautiful Hungarian posters that have little pictures on them with the Hungarian words or phrases underneath. I now have laminated colourful posters dotted around my apartment to help me learn.

It is good to have some-one who is helping me from day to day, and we like dropping our new Hungarian words into conversations or finding a way to slip them into our Hungarian lessons. If I end up living here for another year I have already chatted to L about the possibility of carrying on with our lessons for another year. Learning Hungarian is still hard, but I still love it. I also keep wandering past the Instytut Polski on the corner of Andrassy and wondering how much a Polish course costs. Ambition and excitement mixed with an unrealistic sense of time and commitment is not a good thing.

February 03, 2008

Ice Sculpture

It has been a tough week, with me having three days off work and feeling like I was drained of all energy I had. The sun is shining bright today and is burning the mist off in more ways than one, which is good. There seems to be nothing like a bout of illness and days alone in your apartment to make you long for the comforts of home and remind you why living abroad and doing it alone can just be so hard sometimes. I have just spent too much time inside and too much time by myself. I yearn for the alone time, but even I get to the point where it is just too much.

I ventured out to Focus on Liszt Ference Ter yesterday to meet D, C and some of the other girls from work for a coffee. I needed it, had to get back into having conversations and feeling the cold air on my cheeks. Today I walked to Vaci to get some magazines, just an excuse for a walk really and came upon this ice sculpture glistening while it melts in the morning sun. The sunshine was welcome on my face and even though I don't want to feel ill again, I know that being full of cold was really everything just catching up on me. The routine of being back at work and the sunshine is all I need to feel a bit more healthy again. That, and my trip to Warsaw, which is a holiday I desperately need.

“A cloudy day, or a little sunshine, have as great an influence on many constitutions as the most real blessings or misfortunes”
Joseph Addison

February 02, 2008

Across Cultures

Today is one of those days when the things that are around me and the things that influence me seems to all be squashing together. Here I am in sunny Budapest, and my morning plans are only to go to the Chinese supermarket so that I can buy dumplings and celebrate the Chinese Lunar year. Ever since my brother married a Chinese woman and lived there for a few years I have felt a connection. This summer they will be returning to live in Beijing, which I have already earmarked as my Easter 2009 holiday destination.

So along with dumplings and Hungary, my mind is settled on the brilliant 'Pies and Prejudice' by Stuart Maconie. This is a wonderful walk through the North and brings flooding back all my memories of the North West as a student (the wrong side of the Penines, my Dad calls it), and talks of the wonder that is life in the bosom of Gods own country. The book is making me feel so homesick, but in a nostalgic, calm way.

In other news, I was a bit upset to read this article yesterday. After living in Poland and exploring and adoring its culture, I feel that sometimes the British media are setting up the Polish immigrant communities for a fall. I have lived abroad, it is hard to assimilate, hard to learn the language, but you do it if you want a complete experience of the country you are in. I have lived in Hungary for 6 months and am learning Hungarian slowly and still drink Yorkshire tea every morning. Who can blame the ex-pat Poles for not learning the language immediately and finding some comfort in the food and culture of their homeland?

February 01, 2008

Sick of being sick

I am still ill and not happy about it. To save you all from another boring post, here is a picture from my walk around the VI district last weekend.